October 18, 2008

Sarah Palin on "Saturday Night Live."

How do you think they'll handle it? I like this prediction, from Zachary Paul Sire, in the comments in The Riverside Tavern post:
Palin will be Palin, and various cast members will be dressed up like her, trying to impersonate her, auditioning so to speak. She'll be judging them in some fashion. None of them will be good. But then Tina Fey will come out and there will be some sort of split screen, face to face moment between the two of then, standing in awe of each other.

Then again, I don't know.

They aren't going to do anything political because a) they don't want to make her look bad, and b) they don't want to make her look good, either. It will be politically neutral and more about the surreal imitation that Fey does it. A sort of cinema verite moment.
But maybe by the time you get here, the show will have already aired, in which case, what did you think of it?

UPDATE: That was mildly amusing. Alec Baldwin got to stand next to Palin and insult her -- by accident, thinking she was Tina -- and then got to say something that's true: Sarah Palin is more attractive than Tina Fey. Did Fey deserve that? No. Palin seemed like a seasoned actor, which is nice... but disturbing. If our politicians are great actors, we have a big problem. [ADDED ON REWATCH: Did Baldwin say Palin is more attractive than Fey? He mistook Palin for Fey, then, corrected, told Palin she was more attractive in person. I think that means he believed Palin was less attractive than Fey, but now, seeing Palin in person, he acknowledges Palin's equivalent attractiveness. Or something. The disrespect to Fey that I thought was there is, technically, not.]

MORNING UPDATE: Palin reappeared in the "Weekend Update" section of the show, which I can see in the comments, many of you watched in real time. I had to turn the show off after a minute of the opening monologue. Really, I was interested in seeing Palin again, but I can't sit through that stuff. TiVo in the morning worked just fine. Palin was a good sport, sit-down dancing and smiling, while Amy Poehler did a hilarious rap routine. Poehler is heavily pregnant, but she doesn't let that slow her down at all, which is rather Palinesque. I laughed out loud when the Todd character came out and at the line "All the plumbers in the house, pull your pants up."

(By chance, I'd just turned on live TV to see Joe the Plumber on "Fox and Friends" and they razzed him in person about the one thing everyone thinks is funny about plumbers. As they put it: "Why don't plumbers wear belts?" Joe went on at some length on the topic -- defensive! The life of a plumber is tough. It's not easy, as some people seem to think.)

ADDED: The opening:

The rap:

Join me in The Riverside Tavern....


... where the drinks are on me.

The Photopuzzle Café.


Annoying and pretentious terms.

Collected by N. Stephan Kinsella (via Metafilter). The list is excellent -- reminds me of one of my all-time favorite books: Flaubert's "Dictionary of Accepted Ideas." The list is also pretty long, so let me select a few that especially annoy me:
Quoting “Mr. Dooley”; Quoting Will Rodgers; Quoting Yogi Berra; Quoting Boswell and/or Samuel Johnson (especially the stupid one about what is impressive about a walking dog is not that he walks well but that he walks at all); Quoting Shakespeare and/or calling Shakespeare “the Bard”
Yes, especially Mr. Dooley. Especially the one about the Supreme Court: "''No matther whether th' constitution follows th' flag or not, th' supreme court follows th' iliction returns.'' Ugh! Dialect... so long after everyone's abandoned dialect humor. It's a thoroughly conventional idea, so don't repeat the most conventional way to say it. Find a new way, or shut up.
... Hey-presto!
I've never heard anyone say "hey-presto!" but that's why I hate seeing it in writing.
journeyman; yeoman’s work
Yes, please stop saying yeoman's work. No one around now has a vivid mental picture of a yeoman working, so it's an image without an image.
nonpareil (having no equal; without compare)
That annoys me by making me think of that candy I inexplicably enjoyed when I was a girl. You know what else is annoying? Young women getting nonpareils all over their lips. Somehow, I don't find it annoying in a guy. I'm more I don't know what that is, but I want one of those.
tony (as adjective, “The tony club in downtown Manhattan.”)
Right, if it's actually a club for guys named Tony it would be kind of charming.
smudge-pot (something used in tort cases for first year law students)
LOL. Love the appearance of law school on the list.
man of letters (“Edmund Wilson was a man of letters.” First, who the hell was Edmund Wilson? Second, what the hell is a man of letters?)
LOL... to the point of tears. Maybe there's a problem with the whole format "[noun] of [noun]" in place of "[adjective][noun]." I'm about ready to make a blanket rule. Kinsella seems so easily annoyed that he might object to "blanket rule." What the hell is a "blanket rule"?
vouchsafe (to give by way of reply )
That reminds me. Judges need to stop saying "cannot be gainsaid." And I'm delighted that if you Google that phrase, the #1 hit is this old post of mine.
worry a bone (a dog chewing/playing with a bone)

let slip the dogs of war (“slip”?)
Don't make us think, unnecessarily, of dogs. No, I don't want that as a blanket rule, because one of my favorite verbs is "dog." Not many animals get to be verbs -- bug, man, fish, cow, horse (around), monkey, ape...
bids fair (“seems likely”, as in, “Kenneth Starr’s report bids fair to become a classic, bawdy epic.”)
Had to include that, since it fits one of today's blog themes.

Kinsella also has a list of "cool terms."


What up?


“walking papers”--as in when your wife tells you if you screw up again she will sign your walking papers
I wonder what if he likes "riot act," a term that definitely annoyed George Carlin:
It's like the Riot Act. The Riot Act. They always tell you they're gonna read that to you. Have you heard this thing at all? Like when you're a kid, they threaten you.

"You wait 'til your father gets home. He's gonna read you the riot act!"

"Tell him I already read it myself. And I didn't like it, either; I consider it wordy and poorly thought out. He wants to read me something, how about 'The Gentlemen's Guide to the Golden Age of Blowjobs'?"
Enough now. Your turn.

News story that reads like a bad law school exam.

From UPI:
A Massachusetts man has been charged with catching and killing a squirrel and then roasting it with a blowtorch in his backyard.

Odum Chaloeurn's neighbors in Lowell reported him to the police, the Boston Herald said. He was charged with animal cruelty Wednesday.

Chaloeurn reportedly argued to police that he was not cruel to the squirrel since it was dead before he began cooking it. He allegedly pursued the squirrel on foot, grabbed it by its tail and then knocked it against a tree to kill it.

Squirrels are actually legal game in Massachusetts to licensed hunters. But Lowell is in a district where the squirrel season opens Saturday.

IN THE COMMENTS: Duscany said:
I wonder what the charge would be if he had sauteed the squirrel in butter and garlic, then slowly simmered it the rest of the afternoon in mushrooms and Chianti and served it at dusk with polenta while Vivaldi played on the digital radio and his girlfriend slipped into something comfortable?
Duscany's fine understanding of Critical Legal Studies earns him an A.

I'm on the NYT website, talking about women and the draft.


That's excerpted from this episode of Bloggingheads and my underlying blog post on the subject is here.

"Extra LENGTH, Extra Taste, Extra Pleasure" in a cigar.

The sexiest commercials in the 60s were for Muriel Cigars, with Edie Adams sexing it up as much as possible while remaining cool and classy (with Stan Getz on the musical phallic symbols in this one):

Yes, Edie has just died, but she was 81. Let's not dwell on death. Let's reminisce. Let's talk about smoking and sex, commercials and comedy.

I remember seeing those cigar commercials when I was a kid, and I think it was through those commercials that every Baby Boomer learned what a phallic symbol was. My parents loved the sexy pop culture women of the Edie Adams type -- a subject I've discussed many times on this blog -- but invariably, the sight of Edie Adams would set my parents to talking about Ernie Kovacs. Oh, how they loved Ernie Kovacs, whom they'd watched from his earliest days when he was on local TV in Philadelphia and how terrible it was when he died.

Here's Edie Adams in an interview, talking about Kovacs. Love at first sight:
I remember him standing there with a hat and a mustache and a cigar. He looked like something out of a B-movie, evil personified or something.... I never saw anything that looked like that... I thought: I don't know what that is, but I want one of those.
Ernie did cigar ads too:

RIP, Edie and Ernie.

George Hamilton, on "The View," revealing that he had sexual relations with his step-mother when he was 12.

And it wasn't an evil stepmother, as far as he's concerned. He's still pleased with the relationship, and notes that the woman was beautiful and the couple reprised their affair when he was an adult.

Unless you're interested in "Dancing with the Stars" or his tan, scroll to 4:28:

The Viewsters don't get that outraged about it. Joy Behar informs him that it was molestation, like "the teacher thing" we hear about these days. And Whoopi Goldberg reminds us that those were different times, when fathers brought their pubescent sons to "an older woman to initiate them." Barbara is all "But his father didn't exactly suggest it."

"You don't know what's right and wrong. It's on-the-job training, excuse me. Could I vote present?" They called it "cuddling," Hamilton says. Joy Behar -- who's got her left hand rather lewdly buried in her crotch -- wants to get this straight: "You went there?" She waves her right hand, vaguely gesturing there. Oh, he assures us, yes, he's "virulent."

October 17, 2008

"Buy American. I Am."

A NYT op-ed by Warren Buffett.

That headline. Reminds me of the Stephen Colbert (intentionally humorous) title "I Am America (And So Can You!)."

Beauty secret: nightingale droppings.

The Telegraph reports:
Shizuka cleaned my face with two cleansers - one clay and the other containing green tea, ground pearls, sake and Mount Fuji water, bottled at the source.

Following that, she mixed the nightingale droppings - which are powdered and sterilised using UV light - with rice bran and water to make a paste.

The concoction smelt pungent, but medicinal rather than unpleasant. She applied the droppings, and then massaged them into my face for five minutes.
Why nightingales, exactly? Why not any old bird's shit?

Obama says: "The more I'm in public, I don't even want to pick my nose."

LOL. He's answering Katie Couric's question why politicians risk everything by committing adultery. McCain is asked the question too in this clip, and it's interesting to see the similarities and differences between the 2 candidates:

The most fascinating thing to me in this clip is -- can you guess? -- the way Obama moves his mouth in silent words at 0:46. I've never seen him do that. That's a completely new mannerism for him as he answers a question that is far from any question I've seen him try to answer before. In context, it seems to show him trying to get to the right answer, as if it needs a little rehearsal, which is striking since the answer he arrives at through this lip-fumbling is that he wants to be, truly, the person he seems to be: "that there's no gap between who I am and the face that I'm presenting in the world."

To compare the 2 candidates: Both refrain from explaining why other politicians do what they do, and both reflect on their own behavior. Obviously, the 2 men are differently situated, since we know that McCain committed adultery. (Long ago, but still.) McCain stresses the Biblical admonition: "Judge not." (The full text is:"Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.")

Obama stresses his personal effort to achieve integrity. Obama's answer is more articulate, more deeply touching. I like the way we can see him thinking, formulating values. McCain by contrast, takes refuge in the teachings of traditional morality. This is evidence -- take note! -- that in some very fundamental way Obama is a liberal and McCain is a conservative.

Oh, now look how serious I've gotten! My post title is now completely off. This happens a lot. I should change it. But for some reason, I do not.

Levi Stubbs, RIP.

One of the great voices. Gone.

I'm sure you've already seen this, but I bet it's still good for another laugh.

Is Colin Powell about to endorse Obama?

He'll be on "Meet the Press" this Sunday, and why else would they book him on the third-to-the-last show before the election?

IN THE COMMENTS: Triangle Man said:
The third-to-last show is the antepenultimate show.

Antepenultimate is an anagram of:

Team Planet Unite

The rest is obvious.

"It’s one thing to watch Paul Giamatti scowling about in a presidential wig," as John Adams.

"It’s something entirely different to watch [Josh] Brolin sloppily downing drinks in a pantomime of the current president’s younger self, a figure that doesn’t belong to history but to the present and, by extension, to us."

Are you up for "Oliver Stone’s queasily enjoyable 'W.'"?

Do you want me to go see it for you and report? If so, how will you induce me to subject myself to the ordeal?

By the way, I couldn't force myself to find the HBO mini-series "John Adams" enjoyable, and I especially found it hard to take Paul Giamatti as the little old President.

John McWhorter worries about the way, if Obama loses, black people will (wrongly) say it was racism.

In this TNR piece:
Even now, the idea that white swing voters might pass on him because of his positions or campaign performance is considered a peculiar notion, likely from someone unhip to the gospel that America remains all about racism despite Colin Powell and Oprah. The money question is considered to be why our Great Black Hope isn't polling tens of points ahead of John McCain and his discredited party. But Obama has been a sure shot only with Blue America college-town sorts, animated not only by Obama's intellect, but also by his "diverseness" and its symbolic import for showing that our nasty past is truly past....

The Wisconsin chairman of the Republican Party notes, then, that for lunch pail whites, "I don't think race is an issue at all. A bigger problem is that Barack Obama has a sort of show pony style. The speeches and the classic double speak and being a great orator, that kind of thing doesn't play well in Wisconsin." That is, there are plenty of non-racist whites who need a candidate to show them something more than I.Q. and a poignant multicultural provenance. In not finding Obama's dreams of his father worthy of a vote, they are evaluating him as Dr. King would have counseled.

These are transitional times. In a recent Bloggingheads dialogue, Ta-Nehisi Coates admitted to me that Iowa had forced him to "reassess" his pessimism as to how far America has come on race.
He means this:

Continuing the TNR piece:
If Obama loses, people like Coates will desist in their reassessments, and settle back into their cognitive comfort zone. Whites will cheer on the sidelines: Nothing would establish a Good White Person's bona fides on the race thing more than assenting that the racism "out there" is "still around" and has vanquished the audacity of hope.

The grievous result of this fetishization of racism would be that it would put a kibosh on the upsurge in black voters' political engagement amidst the Obamenon.
(Don't you just hate it when fetishization puts the kibosh on an upsurge? Note: McWhorter is a linguist.)
Newspaper articles would quote blacks disillusioned from getting excited about any future black candidate--e.g. "I thought maybe America was finally getting past racism but it turned out not to be true." 2009 would be a year of countless panel discussions, quickie books, and celebrated rap couplets wallowing in the notion that the white man wouldn't let Obama into the Oval Office where he belonged, urgently reminding us that to be black is still to be a victim.

Promising black politicians like Cory Booker, Deval Patrick, Adrian Fenty, and Harold Ford would find it harder than Obama did to attract support for presidential runs: No matter how stirring their speeches, the good word would be, "Look what happened to Obama!" And for years to come, professors would teach the 2008 election as a lesson about racism rather than about a heartening near-victory that no one could have imagined as recently as 15 years ago.
A true vision?

Weird analogy: If Obama loses, you can say it was racism the way you can say "pneumonia is often what kills AIDS patients."
No one would claim that this means that pneumonia... is a grievously urgent medical crisis in America. Yet black America's shorthand consensus will be founded upon just such a logical fallacy: that "Obama lost because America remains a deeply racist country."
McWhorter asks: "Why would such an athletically pessimistic conclusion be so attractive to black people?"

"Professors Found to Keep Political Views Quiet, but Students Detect Them."

Now, there's an article I'd love to talk about, on one of my favorite subjects, but it's in The Chronicle of Higher Education, and you need to pay to see it. How tedious of them not to make it available! How annoyingly irrelevant they've made themselves! If they care about education so much, let us read the articles.

Actually, do we really need that article? It looks like they interviewed a bunch of students. So, students and former students: Talk about whether your teachers refrained from the overt expression of political views and, if they did, whether you were able to detect the teachers' politics anyway.

And let me tag on an extra subject, the pedagogical choice to lay your cards on the table.

This is something some law professors do. Many of us believe that judicial decisions are infused with politics, that judges have a political ideology that affects the way cases are decided. We may think that is wrong and, to that end, want students to detect ideology in the cases (which are written in a style that is intended to look neutral). Or we may think it is the way -- whether we like it or not -- the human mind works, and therefore that it's something a sophisticated reader needs to learn how to perceive.

Either way, law professors might want to concede that our politics may or will affect anything we say on the subject, and, since we are trying to reveal things about judges, we shouldn't hide things about ourselves. With this thinking, some law professors like to confess their political ideology. Presumably, this is done briefly, with assurances that the teacher will strive to cover the full range of thinking on the subject and to grade the exams with rigorous fairness.

So would you rather your teachers shut up about their political views and left you guessing or even believing that the teaching is neutral? Or would you rather your teachers -- when teaching subjects affected by politics -- made a brief confession of their viewpoint? When your teachers don't confess, can you tell for sure what the political views are or do you just muse about it?

October 16, 2008

Obama and McCain at the Al Smith Dinner tonight.

Compare and contrast. (Funny to see them in white tie.)

(Part 2.)

(Part 2.)

At the Amber Alehouse...


... you can talk all night.

What McCain said about buying up bad mortgages.

After last week's debate, I wrote:
I should have paid more attention to this [McCain's proposal that the government buy up bad home-loan mortgages and reset the value of the loan]. 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.
During last night's debate, I felt like I was getting a personal response from McCain:
Now, we have allocated $750 billion. Let's take $300 (billion) of that $750 billion and go in and buy those home loan mortgages and negotiate with those people in their homes, 11 million homes or more, so that they can afford to pay the mortgage, stay in their home.

Now, I know the criticism of this.

'Well, what about the citizen that stayed in their homes? That paid their mortgage payments?' It doesn't help that person in their home if the next door neighbor's house is abandoned. And so we've got to reverse this.
Is that a good enough answer?

By the way, this problem reminds me of the parable of the prodigal son, specifically, the complaint of the other son:
And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him.

And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:

But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.
Don't conservatives usually sound like the older son, irked with the way liberals wreck the incentive structure? But McCain is like the father in the story:
Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.

It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

Why isn't McCain a "proud conservative" anymore?

After the last week's debate, I noted that McCain had kicked his old habit of calling himself a conservative:
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?... 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.
Now, I'm checking the transcript from last night. The word "conservative" appears exactly once.. It's said by McCain, but he's quoting Obama:
... I believe strongly that we should have nominees to the United States Supreme Court based on their qualifications rather than any litmus test. Now, let me say that there was a time a few years ago when the United States Senate was about to blow up. Republicans wanted to have just a majority vote to confirm a judge and the Democrats were blocking in an unprecedented fashion.

We got together seven Republicans, seven Democrats. You were offered a chance to join. You chose not to because you were afraid of the appointment of, quote, "conservative judges."
That is, Obama, in McCain's view, was using a misnomer, denoting highly qualified jurists with a political term.

Why isn't McCain a "proud conservative" anymore? Last week, he mentioned Ronald Reagan 3 (but only to opposed him or liked the way he worked with the liberal Speaker of the House). This week, he never mentioned him once.

Is there some sort of idea that if you think McCain is too liberal, you still have to vote for him, because if he's too liberal, then Obama is really too liberal? I don't buy that. Better a principled, coherent liberal whose liberal choices will, if they don't go well, be blamed on liberals than an erratic, incoherent liberal whose liberal choices will be blamed on the party that ought to get its conservative act together.

"We had hoped... to see more evidence that Mr. Obama might stand up to Democratic orthodoxy and end ... 'our chronic avoidance of tough decisions.'"

WaPo endorses Obama.
But Mr. Obama's temperament is unlike anything we've seen on the national stage in many years. He is deliberate but not indecisive; eloquent but a master of substance and detail; preternaturally confident but eager to hear opposing points of view. He has inspired millions of voters of diverse ages and races, no small thing in our often divided and cynical country. We think he is the right man for a perilous moment.

Joe the Plumber...

In the new McCain ad:

In the new Red State Update (NSFW):

ADDED: What's with this bizarre snobbery from Marc Ambinder:
(... Joe The Plumber's name isn't Joe, and he's not officially a plumber. Discuss.)

Actually, he's "Sam The Guy Who Does Plumbing," technicallly.

His voter registration application misspells his name, btw. ("Worzelbacher.")
And, btw, you misspelled "technically," technically. I mean, what the hell? Many people go by their middle name. Mitt Romney's full name is Willard Mitt Romney, for example. It's not deceitful. And guys who do plumbing are plumbers. So he's not a licensed plumber? Isn't that like being an accountant but not a certified public accountant? Wasn't this man in his own front yard when Obama came up and talked to him and responded to a question by promoting the redistribution of wealth? Who gives a damn how pure Joe the Plumber is, anyway? He just by chance provided the occasion for Obama to say something that deserves attention.

Talk about anything at the Autumn Leaf Café.


Supreme Court Noir.

It's Chief Justice John Roberts, dissenting from a denial of certiorari:
"Narcotics Strike Force, North Philly, May 4, 2001. Officer Sean Devlin, Narcotics Strike Force, was working the morning shift. Undercover surveillance. The neighborhood? Tough as a three-dollar steak. Devlin knew. Five years on the beat, nine months with the Strike Force. He'd made fifteen, twenty drug busts in the neighborhood.

"Devlin spotted him: a lone man on the corner. Another approached. Quick exchange of words. Cash handed over; small objects handed back. Each man then quickly on his own way. Devlin knew the guy wasn't buying bus tokens. He radioed a description and Officer Stein picked up the buyer. Sure enough: three bags of crack in the guy's pocket. Head downtown and book him. Just another day at the office."

Mickey and Bob could do MSM conventional wisdom if they wanted to.

And they kind of want to, so watch the whole thing, recorded right after the debate last night.

(And no, I did not set the clip up intentionally to make that the still. It's Bloggingheads, and that's Mickey's head, for better or worse, and he's responsible for his own lighting.)

"What goes on in McCain's brain?"

Oh, how I love "McCain's Brain":

It's what I'll miss most about the debates. Hilarious. I'm wiping away tears.

How much of Madonna's money should Guy Ritchie get?

There's no prenuptial agreement. Yes, Guy's a guy and maybe it seems wrong for the guy to take the lady's money, but think about what that lady did to his film career:

"Swept Away" was one of the worst-reviewed movies
of the last decade. Ten years ago, "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" got fine reviews, and what has he done since then? Madonna drained the man of all his great promise. Did you watch that clip up there? Did you see what she did to him? Gruesome.


IN THE COMMENTS: Crimso said:
To Hell with Ritchie. I'm shifting into full Age of Obama mode. I want to know how much of Madonna's money I'm going to get. Need to spread that wealth around.
Chip Ahoy said:
I'm with crimso. That's a great idea. I want to know how much Madonna's money I'm getting. She's a big Obama supporter and its important for us to know exactly what an Obama administration means by spreading around other people's wealth. I can only benefit from a full-on class war. And I want to know how much Obama's money I'm getting too. He's got a lot. And especially how much Pelosi money I'm getting. She's loaded. Kennedy's money too. And Reid, I really want his money. He owes me. I want some of that. Obama keeps saying "It's fair. It's fair. It's fair. It's fair. It's fair." JUST GIVE IT TO ME! I earned it by listening to this bullshit for over a full year. Yay! Obama! Gimme sum a dat.

I'm quite delighted this morning. Been reading about cameras and all the amazing things they do. Read about my own camera and learned a whole bunch of stuff. Boy, those manuals sure have a lot of information in 'em. Oh bloody wow, I'll be able to upgrade with somebody else's money !!!!!!

* dances *

and not pay any taxes!

* glees *

Being a socialist is going to be great! And to think how wrong I've been all along. Oh joy, my medical insurance premiums will go down. I'll owe all my new good fortune to my friends who wouldn't listen to me.

Oh Man, my head is spinning. I can't wait to get my grubby mitts on all those celebrities' cash.
Glenn Kenny said:
Ritchie will be fine. He's got money of his own (family-derived)—not Madonna-type money, but a good chunk. And his next movie's a big deal, a Sherlock Holmes adaptation with Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law. Of course, the un-intertwining of the assets is going to be an unholy mess...

I had breakfast with Ritchie at Sundance when "Lock, Stock..." was there, and he struck me as an eminently reasonable fellow. Imagine my shcok when he married Ms. Ciccone....
Imagine Ms. Ciccone when she saw his shcok. And stop telling me to imagine your shcok or I will want compensation.

Wizardry in Germany.

WaPo reports this amusing dialogue:
Q. Which Germans do you know besides [Dallas Maverick] Dirk Nowitzki?

A. Is David Hasselhoff German?

I heard that you all like him.

Q. He's an American . . .

A. Okay, then only Dirk.

-- Wizards forward Caron Butler in an interview with the German tabloid Bild. The Wizards were in Berlin to play an exhibition game with the New Orleans Hornets.
Let's not assume Butler was being dumb. I think a lot of Americans, trying to formulate an answer to that question, would think: Well, Hitler, of course. Everyone knows Hitler. And that would have been awkward. So coming up with Is David Hasselhoff German? and Okay, then only Dirk isn't so dumb. It might even be a smart joke. What's dumb is the question "Which Germans do you know?"

"John McCain threw the kitchen sink - and 'Joe the Plumber,' too - at Barack Obama during Wednesday night's final, in-your-face presidential debate."

Writes The Daily News.

"It was Mr. McCain’s last chance to cast doubt on his opponent’s character and credentials, and he threw the kitchen sink at him — along with the plumber," writes Alessandra Stanley at the NYT.

Seems like everybody saw that joke and went for it. Except maybe Newsweek's Andrew Romano, who kind of just tripped over it in the dark:
The Kitchen Sink Debate

That loud clanging you heard coming from Hofstra University tonight? It was the sound of a kitchen sink soaring from stage right, where Republican nominee Sen. John McCain was seated, and landing stage left. Depending on where you sit and who you support, the unwieldy washbasin either knocked Sen. Barack Obama off his perch or shattered in pieces on the floor....

The answer was immediately apparent to anyone with a pulse. Over the course of 90 minutes--and I apologize if my count is not complete; my fingers can only type so fast--McCain accused Obama of being a) a craven wealth-spreader (at least eight times), b) an abject tax-raiser, especially on folks unfortunate enough to make $42,000 a year, c) a lily-livered coward who's never once stood up to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, d) a town-hall avoider, e) a public-financing flip-flopper, f) the most avid negative advertiser in American history, g) a befriender of "washed-up terrorist(s)," h) an enabler of "one of the greatest frauds in voter history" (which just so happens to be "destroying the fabric of American democracy"), i) an "eloquent" dissembler, j) a support of infanticide and, finally, k) a guy who wants to do all kinds of unspeakable things to someone named Joe the Plumber, up to and including raising his taxes, redistributing his money and fining him for choosing the wrong kind of health care. (No word yet on whether Obama plans to spit in Joe's beer when he's looking in the other direction.) After all that, McCain's claim that his "campaign is about getting this economy back on track, about creating jobs, about a brighter future for America" seemed like a punchline.
Hey, Newsweek, make the punchline. Get Joe the Plumber working on that kitchen sink!
... And I kind of liked the Joe the Plumber concept--even if the senator spoiled it by saying "Joe the Plumber" 21 times and unleashing lines like this one: "You were going to put him in a higher tax bracket which was going to increase his taxes, which was going to cause him not to be able to employ people, which Joe was trying to realize the American dream." Who knew McCain's talking points were written in Swedish then fed through Google Translator.
D'oh. Wrong punchline.

October 15, 2008

Live-blogging the final debate.

7:46 Central Time: I can't believe this is the last of the '08 live-blogging, but it is. Settle in. Let's savor these precious moments together.

8:03: McCain begins with a tribute to Nancy Reagan's pelvis. Second: Americans are angry, angry I tell you.

8:05: The first question, on the financial crisis, gives them both a chance to give a speech that they could have prepared in advance. With a chance at a follow-up, McCain plugs in prepared material about Joe the plumber who is worried about taxes. He should have listened to Obama's answer and responded very precisely to that. Generally, Obama seems much more fluid and complex, and McCain is wooden and overprepared, unwilling to react on the spot. When he's not speaking, McCain sits with his hands folded on the table. Obama speaks again, then McCain hits him with the "spread the wealth around" comment that Obama made to Joe the plumber. He's coming alive a bit now [McCain]. But I don't know how many more times he can say "Joe the plumber." If we'd put "Joe the plumber" on the drinking game list, we'd be sprawling under the table already.

8:17: McCain is going to wield a hatchet and then a scalpel. He's after the pork. Especially that demonic overhead projector. Did you have "overhead projector" on your drinking list? Now, Obama is talking about "earmarks," an unfortunate term that make us notice how huge his ears look tonight.

8:22: McCain asks Obama to say when he's ever stood up to his party. And Obama has (what sounds like) some good examples: tort reform, charter schools....

8:31: McCain challenges Obama about John Lewis's charge that the McCain campaign has been racist. Obama ignores it for a while, then finally gets around to it. But what did he say? He didn't repudiate Lewis, which is what McCain demanded. McCain comes back at him, with a bit of a tirade about what fine Americans there are in the McCain/Palin crowds. On the split screen, Obama has that look that I saw him aim at Hillary Clinton months ago. I think McCain is getting to him. He got Obama to tip his head up and look down his nose at McCain. Now, McCain needles him about Ayers and ACORN. McCain is on the attack, and Obama is stuck in the defensive role.

8:43: Palin is a freath of bresh air.

8:47: Nuclear pants... uh... nuclear plants.

8:51: McCain mugs when it's not his turn. He lit up when Obama said he believes in free trade. He's all over Obama about free trade. Obama doesn't understand free trade... and he's never been south of the border. Obama comes back, seemingly unriled. But I'm distracted by the McCain side of the screen. McCain sparkles with the knowledge of his superiority on free trade... or so it seems.

8:56: My son Jac is live-blogging too, and he just wrote: "McCain is back to the 'he doesn't understand' line against Obama, this time about Colombia trade policy. Obama: 'Actually, I understand it pretty well ...' Oh, but how can that be? He's never traveled south of the border!" McCain is trying to get under Obama's skin, but Obama is standing his ground. He understands what McCain is up to.

8:59: McCain thinks you're fat.

8:59: Joe the plumber is back.

9:06: Something about health care. Who won? I don't know.

9:07: The Supreme Court. McCain notes his record of voting for judicial nominees based on their qualifications. This is a good point, because Obama has voted against highly qualified Supreme Court nominees, while McCain voted for Justice Ginsburg. They're both against "litmus tests" (of course).

9:13: McCain presses Obama on the Born Alive Infant Protection Act and partial birth abotion, very sensitive subjects. Obama wants to communicate to young people that sex is sacred and we don't want any "cavalier" activity.

9:19: Education. Gah. Am I paying attention? Are you paying attention? Education is important!

8:28: The closing statements at last. McCain sounds over-rehearsed and he stumbles over many things. He says "abased" for "based." I think he knows he hasn't done enough tonight. He hasn't rattled Obama, not enough anyway. Obama is doing his final statement now. It's not particularly interesting, but it's filling the space, and we're probably not listening, because we know, he's survived the final ordeal. He will be our President, I think, and I think they both know that. They shake hands, and we hear McCain vigorously congratulating the younger man -- our future President, in all likelihood -- "Good job! Good job!"

9:34: No more debates! Can it be? We've reached the end. Thanks to both men, John McCain and Barack Obama, for fighting so long and so hard and for stepping up to the awesome task of governing this great, unwieldy, beloved country of ours.

What can McCain do at tonight's debate?

I'll live-blog later, but for now, let's do some pre-debate speculating. I'm asking what McCain should do, not because I'm rooting for him, but because I think he's the one who needs to do something. Obama only needs to run out the clock, not make mistakes, be boring, etc., so it's not interesting to think of good advice for him. Let him be the fusty, phlegmatic professor. It doesn't matter.

But McCain may be looking at his last chance to make something happen. Now, I think the danger for him is trying too hard. My advice is: Act the way you would act if you knew for certain that you would lose.

First of all, he probably will lose, and he has an interest in his historical reputation. He shouldn't pull out all the stops, rave about Wright, or anything like that. I think he should be the upright and honorable man that he wants us to be remembered as. This isn't a devious ploy to make him give up. I think it's the best hope for getting us bond with him now.

UPDATE: Here I am saying essentially this in the Bloggingheads I recorded last night with Ana Marie Cox:

And watch the whole thing! It's pretty good. Topics:
Is playing dirty McCain’s only chance? (05:56)
How an election between men of ideas became a character contest (02:08)
Is McCain exploiting racism? (05:09)
Ann on why Palin is good for the country (02:17)
Should women be subject to military conscription? (08:41)
What McCain has to do in the final debate (08:04)

To everyone who ever told me I should leave Blogger.

Read this.

Is Sarah Palin the new Ronald Reagan?

Maureen Dowd asks her NYT op-ed pagemates:
I called Kristol and asked him if he thought Palin could grow into the next Reagan, reminding him that he was outnumbered by conservatives recoiling from her.

“Conservative eggheads are my friends,” he said, “but politically they’re a contrarian indicator. If they’re down on Palin, things are looking up for her. With all due respect for my fellow eggheads, they are underestimating the importance of a natural political gift or star quality. It matters a lot.”

He suggested that she has a shrewdness and toughness — “like Andrew Jackson” — beyond what you get with a Yale law degree or Harvard business degree. “That may be hard for my conservative intellectual friends to grasp,” he said.

I didn’t seem to be soothing the waters. I called Brooks, who conceded: “Her political delivery skills are incredible.”

So you agree with Kristol that she might be a star in the party? Could Palin be the nominee in 2012?

“The short answer is no,” Brooks said. “She has reinforced the worst of talk-radio culture. The party will need a leader to strike out in a new direction, a fiscally conservative president more like a high-tech Teddy Roosevelt. Someone with gravitas.”

Is Sarah Palin the Ronald Reagan of 2012?
Quit blogging Campaign 2012! That's sick!
pollcode.com free polls

"A book is something you write in order to get you to where you're going."

Writes Penelope Trunk:
If you have nowhere to go, a book will insure that you stay where you are: Lost.

People use books like law school. They think if they have some piece of paper – a degree, a contract – then people will respect them and then they'll respect themselves. But self-respect comes from having some sort of vision for one's life and heading in that direction. And there is no one who can give you that vision – you have to give it to yourself, and before you can feel like you have direction, you have to feel lost — and lost is okay.

So stop with the idea that you need a book. Most people who think they need a book deal probably need to answer the question: What will I be doing two years after that book? Do you really need the book to get where you want to go? Probably not.
And yet Penelope Trunk wrote a book. What's going on there?

Disclosure: Past history of Penelope Trunk and me not getting each other.

"My Friend Bill Ayers."

A column by Wall Street Journal columnist Thomas Frank:
... I met him in the same way Mr. Obama says he did: 10 years ago, Mr. Ayers was a guy in my neighborhood in Chicago who knew something about fundraising. I knew nothing about it, I needed to learn, and a friend referred me to Bill.

Bill's got lots of friends, and that's because he is today a dedicated servant of those less fortunate than himself; because he is unfailingly generous to people who ask for his help; and because he is kind and affable and even humble....

... Mr. Ayers has been involved with countless foundation efforts and has received various awards. He volunteers for everything. He may once have been wanted by the FBI, but in the intervening years the man has become such a good citizen he ought to be an honorary Eagle Scout.
Frank reams the McCain campaign for its "vilest" attacks on a man "who cannot or will not defend himself." I think most people believe that a person who has done terrible things (and then faced up to whatever legal process the government chooses and is able to put him through) may go on to redeem himself with sincere remorse and impressive good works. But is that true of Ayers?

As far as remorse is concern, Frank concedes Ayers's failure... but it's this infuriatingly prissy concession:
Nor will I quibble with those who find Mr. Ayers wanting in contrition. His 2001 memoir is shot through with regret, but it lacks the abject style our culture prefers.
Yeah, Ayers famously regretted that he "didn't do enough." We don't think that's "abject" enough, and it's not a matter of "style." It's substance. And we're not a "culture" with a preference. In judging Ayers's regret inadequate, we're human beings with a sound conception of morality.

As for his good works, there's a problem there too, and it's what relates most directly to Obama. Some people think Ayers's present-day work in the field of education is too radical, and they sincerely want to know whether Obama is too far to the left. That's why I'm interested in Ayers and Obama. I still don't know the answer, and I don't think there is any way to know the answer other than to elect Obama President and see what he does. That's what Obama is asking us to do.

I realize that I've never read the whole text of the NYT article about Ayers that appeared -- in chilling coincidence -- on September 11, 2001. That morning, I sat at my dining table and read the newspaper, my habit back then. I didn't find out about the attacks until I was walking into work, after both planes had hit the towers. So it's not that I was too distracted or disgusted to read that article, that fateful day. I just didn't. Pulling it up just now to make last link, I decided to force myself through the text.
He still has tattooed on his neck the rainbow-and-lightning Weathermen logo that appeared on letters taking responsibility for bombings....

He writes that he participated in the bombings of New York City Police Headquarters in 1970, of the Capitol building in 1971, the Pentagon in 1972. But Mr. Ayers also seems to want to have it both ways, taking responsibility for daring acts in his youth, then deflecting it.

''Is this, then, the truth?,'' he writes. ''Not exactly. Although it feels entirely honest to me.''

But why would someone want to read a memoir parts of which are admittedly not true? Mr. Ayers was asked.

''Obviously, the point is it's a reflection on memory,'' he answered. ''It's true as I remember it.''
There are many people who find this sort of talk very charming. I may have read that far, that day, and found it charming. I understand that kind of thinking: Truth is for boring, little minds. There are complex blends of truth and fiction that are more true, that "feel entirely honest." I don't believe it anymore, but I understand it.
Mr. Ayers, who in 1970 was said to have summed up the Weatherman philosophy as: ''Kill all the rich people. Break up their cars and apartments. Bring the revolution home, kill your parents, that's where it's really at,'' is today distinguished professor of education at the University of Illinois at Chicago. And he says he doesn't actually remember suggesting that rich people be killed or that people kill their parents, but ''it's been quoted so many times I'm beginning to think I did,'' he said. ''It was a joke about the distribution of wealth.''
Maybe he didn't say it, and anyway, it was a joke. It was the sort of thing people said back in 1970.
In his book Mr. Ayers describes the Weathermen descending into a ''whirlpool of violence.''

''Everything was absolutely ideal on the day I bombed the Pentagon,'' he writes. But then comes a disclaimer: ''Even though I didn't actually bomb the Pentagon -- we bombed it, in the sense that Weathermen organized it and claimed it.'' He goes on to provide details about the manufacture of the bomb and how a woman he calls Anna placed the bomb in a restroom. No one was killed or injured, though damage was extensive.

Between 1970 and 1974 the Weathermen took responsibility for 12 bombings, Mr. Ayers writes....

So, would Mr. Ayers do it all again, he is asked? ''I don't want to discount the possibility,'' he said.
"I don't want to discount the possibility." That's what Ayers said right before terrorism became drastically unfashionable.
He also writes about the Weathermen's sexual experimentation as they tried to ''smash monogamy.'' The Weathermen were ''an army of lovers,'' he says, and describes having had different sexual partners...
Not enough attention has been paid to monogamy smashing. Does anyone care that these people had multiple sex partners? It's hard to remember how people used to think they were making political progress alone, in bed, with one other person. (Oddly, their theory would justify the present-day opposition to gay rights for "the defense of marriage.")
And if there were another Vietnam, he is asked, would he participate again in the Weathermen bombings?
Ayers responds by reciting a Seamus Heaney poem with the lines "once in a lifetime/The longed-for tidal wave/Of justice can rise up/And hope and history rhyme" and says ''I was a child of privilege and I woke up to a world on fire. And hope and history rhymed.'' In other words, yes.

"Wright is off the table... It’s all McCain. He won’t go there. His advisers would have gone there."

Palin too wants to use the Jeremiah Wright question.
"There’s a slippery slope in politics on the racial divide, and Senator McCain made it very clear early on that he did not want to get into that area," a top Republican official said. "I don’t want to be known as a racist, and McCain doesn’t want to be known as a racist candidate."
Palin said (to Bill Kristol):
“To tell you the truth, Bill, I don’t know why that association isn’t discussed more, because those were appalling things that that pastor had said about our great country, and to have sat in the pews for 20 years and listened to that — with, I don’t know, a sense of condoning it, I guess, because he didn’t get up and leave — to me, that does say something about character. But, you know, I guess that would be a John McCain call on whether he wants to bring that up.”
Well, clearly she does know why it's not discussed more, but presumably she means she doesn't know why McCain thinks about the issue the way he does.
The McCain campaign’s decision to cordon off the use of Wright from ads and debates has provoked simmering consternation among many leading Republicans and conservatives, who believe the pastor’s fulminations might be the single most effective weapon McCain has left against Obama.

“McCain felt it would be sensed as racially insensitive,” the official said. “But more important is that McCain thinks that the bringing of racial religious preaching in black churches into the campaign would potentially have grave consequences for civil society in the United States.”
Whether McCain made the right call initially could be questioned, but to go back to this issue now would open McCain to the most vicious attacks: He cared about being racially sensitive when he thought the appearance of lofty principle would win him votes, but now that he fears it hasn't won him enough votes, he's ready to try something else. So principle was never principle, just principle as a pose, useful to the extent that it was useful. What else in McCain's much-touted "honor" profile is there only because he thinks it works?

Are you thinking, yes, but the attack on Obama would hurt more than that?

Justice Breyer does the math.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court heard argument in Bartlett v. Strickland, an important voting rights case:
Christopher G. Browning Jr., North Carolina’s solicitor general, defended the decision of officials there to violate a state law in order to create a district that included about 39 percent of the black voting-age population, saying the Voting Rights Act required the creation of the district to prevent the dilution of the minority group’s ability to elect a representative of its choice.

The fact that the district did not include a majority of black voters was a virtue, Mr. Browning said. True, he said, minority voters would be able to elect a representative of their choice only with the aid of voters from other groups. “Coalition districts help us in reaching the point where race will no longer matter,” Mr. Browning said....

Several justices seemed [say or suggest] that a 50 percent requirement had the usual costs and benefits of what lawyers call “bright line rules.” They are easy to apply, but they can be arbitrary and inflexible....

Justice Stephen G. Breyer proposed [a] number, one tied to the amount of crossover voting from whites needed to elect the minority group’s preferred candidate. “There’s a kind of natural stopping place,” he said. “When I worked out the numbers, it seemed that natural stopping place fell around 42-43 percent.”

October 14, 2008

John Kerry comes to Madison to promote Barack Obama.

And a mere 250 people show up... and that's the press report of the crowd size.

4 years ago, there were 80,000 of us out on the street to see the Massachusetts Senator. I'd have gone out and gotten some pictures for you today, like I did back then, but I had a class. I'd have gone, otherwise. The absence of a crowd is interesting too.

I think there would be enthusiasm if Obama himself came to town, but, really, things are calm here. I don't hear much talk about the election. I don't see many yard signs, buttons, and bumper stickers, oddly enough. Sometimes, I see cars with just an old Kerry sticker or an old Feingold sticker... and no Obama sticker. Not that I think Wisconsin won't go for Obama, just that things are very low key.

Remember Fred Thompson?

What does it say that commenters on the previous post have lapsed into reminiscing about Fred Thompson? Oh, what might have been!

But I shouldn't laugh. I confess to having had an oh-what-might-have-been conversation tonight... about Mitt Romney!

"Sorry, I'm out of here until after the election. Vote for Obama, I've known you would for a long time..."

"... but don't belittle the real questions surrounding him. Your rash of recent posts come across as a strained attempt to justify that decision on something other than aesthetics and blind hope." A commenter departs.

IN THE COMMENTS: Too Many Jims (author of the indispensable Monitoring the Cruel Neutrality) writes:
It has been amusing reading the comments for the last week or so. Before that Prof. Althouse would post something and almost immediately a liberal commenter... would pop into the comments and say that Prof. Althouse was a vapid, unthinking apologist (usually for Bush). Republican commenters would deride the commenter and say he was upset because Prof. Althouse is really an intelligent, independent minded, academic woman who has drawn liberals' fire because she has dared wander off the reservation.

Now, the republican ox is being gored and republican commenters are whining like the liberal commenters that Prof. Althouse is a vapid, unthinking apologist for Obama.

Part of me (approximately 10.73%) thinks that Prof. Althouse has not made a decision and/or is leaning toward McCain but that she made the "leaning toward Obama revelation" as part of a blogging as performance art project. Specifically, to see how the announcement would be received by commenters and the blogosphere.

Prof. Althouse is fond of saying that she has found that the left side of the blogosphere is looking for heretics, the right side is looking for converts (my apologies if I mangled that expression). What better way to test that theory.

IN THE COMMENTS: Simon wants to be frontpaged and tagged.

AND: Oh, I get it now.

What got into Ringo?

Does he hate us? Why go to so much trouble to tell us he won't be reading fan mail or signing anything anymore? Has he felt obligated to read and sign things all these years? The dear man. I choose to believe he loves us.

Peace and love.

ADDED: Sorry for the wrong link before. These posts aren't meant to be that inscrutable. Fixed.


Financial gavage.

Sarah Palin will be on Rush Limbaugh.

At 1:30 ET.

UPDATE: Unofficial "student" notes (received by email):
Rush: I admire you so much, I don't know what to ask. Plumber comment?
Palin: Absolutely a contrast! Reduce taxes and reign in government.

Rush: Our side is revved up with your choice; you seem to understand.
Palin: Nov 4th is a turning, one way or the other: Culture of Life; Military; . . .

Rush: You are the more forceful; are they giving you free reign [sic].
Palin: I've not nothing [sic] to lose & America has everything to gain. It's simple.
Hold Barack Obama accountable for what he says and will do.

Rush: Yes, and media is not. NYT says you are the best speaker; then
they said your forcefulness drives voters away; they want you to shut up.
Palin: They want me to sit down and shut up but that's not going to happen.
ACORN and voter fraud with $$ sent them. Obama needs to speak up.

Rush: He's not going to do that because he is paying them; YOU have to.
Palin: We reached out to Obama a month ago and we are waiting. Shame
if DbM covers it up.

Rush: If it were not for DbM, Obama would not be ahead in polling. You
have borne up under this well; attacks on you; how did it make you feel
when they said you have a child to raise?
Palin: If I can't take it then I have no business being here. [cutting out]

Rush: Oh, no! I had one last question: “Are you enjoying this?”
I wonder what her future in politics looks like. Are you back?
Palin: Good question; no, I'm focused on Nov 4th. Very important for
people to pay attention. We are pressing Obama on taxes, right?
He is known for that. Now Obama says if Economy is weak he will
abandon his plans -- the Economy is weak and he presses on.

Rush: Beyond that, he thus admits his plan is not good for Economy.
Palin: Certainly will keep it up. Americans say, “Right on!”

Rush: You have reenergized them.
Palin: We are not going to let hard-working Americans down. Thank you, Rush.
ADDED: Here's the actual transcript.

So Obama's grandfather brought an adult mentor into his life and, it turns out, the guy wrote a pornographic "autobiography."

So what?

Are the nasty things in the creepy old book -- including sex with children -- fiction or nonfiction? The author, Frank Marshall Davis, seems to claim it was true, but autobiographers lie.

Presumably, the grandfather didn't know terrible things about Davis. We already know that Obama as a child heard some things most of us try to protect children from:
In Dreams from My Father, Obama wrote: "He would read us poetry whenever we stopped by his house, sharing whiskey with Gramps out of an emptied jelly jar.

"As the night wore on, the two of them would solicit my help in composing dirty limericks."

Obama described being counseled by Frank often and recalled drinking whiskey with him.
This is all entirely to Obama's credit. It's interesting to know something more about the Frank character he wrote about, but absolutely nothing here impugns Obama, who survived a difficult childhood and made himself into a formidable, admirable public figure (and solid husband and father).
Since Frank Davis has been identified as the author of Sex Rebel: Black, Obama has been extremely secretive about the true nature of his experience with the self-admitted deviant.
That's a reprehensible way to report silence.

Finally, a post about ACORN.

From my place in the blogosphere, it looks like I owe you a post about ACORN, so let's go with this Wall Street Journal piece:
Acorn -- the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now -- has been around since 1970 and boasts 350,000 members. We've written about them for years, but Acorn is now getting more attention as John McCain's campaign makes an issue of the fraud reports and Acorn's ties to Mr. Obama. It's about time someone exposed this shady outfit that uses government dollars to lobby for larger government.

Acorn uses various affiliated groups to agitate for "a living wage," for "affordable housing," for "tax justice" and union and environmental goals, as well as against school choice and welfare reform. It was a major contributor to the subprime meltdown by pushing lenders to make home loans on easy terms, conducting "strikes" against banks so they'd lower credit standards.

But the organization's real genius is getting American taxpayers to foot the bill. According to a 2006 report from the Employment Policies Institute (EPI), Acorn has been on the federal take since 1977. For instance, Acorn's American Institute for Social Justice claimed $240,000 in tax money between fiscal years 2002 and 2003. Its American Environmental Justice Project received 100% of its revenue from government grants in the same years. EPI estimates the Acorn Housing Corporation alone received some $16 million in federal dollars from 1997-2007. Only recently, Democrats tried and failed to stuff an "affordable housing" provision into the $700 billion bank rescue package that would have let politicians give even more to Acorn.

All this money gives Acorn the ability to pursue its other great hobby: electing liberals. Acorn is spending $16 million this year to register new Democrats and is already boasting it has put 1.3 million new voters on the rolls. The big question is how many of these registrations are real.
Details about ongoing state-level investigations of fraud at the link.
Which brings us to Mr. Obama, who got his start as a Chicago "community organizer" at Acorn's side. In 1992 he led voter registration efforts as the director of Project Vote, which included Acorn. This past November, he lauded Acorn's leaders for being "smack dab in the middle" of that effort. Mr. Obama also served as a lawyer for Acorn in 1995, in a case against Illinois to increase access to the polls.

During his tenure on the board of Chicago's Woods Fund, that body funneled more than $200,000 to Acorn. More recently, the Obama campaign paid $832,000 to an Acorn affiliate. The campaign initially told the Federal Election Commission this money was for "staging, sound, lighting." It later admitted the cash was to get out the vote.

The Obama campaign is now distancing itself from Acorn, claiming Mr. Obama never organized with it and has nothing to do with illegal voter registration. Yet it's disingenuous to channel cash into an operation with a history of fraud and then claim you're shocked to discover reports of fraud. As with Rev. Jeremiah Wright and William Ayers, Mr. Obama was happy to associate with Acorn when it suited his purposes. But now that he's on the brink of the Presidency, he wants to disavow his ties.
So Obama uses things/people to the extent that they are useful. Don't you want a pragmatist President?

I mean... if he's duly elected. Election fraud should be ferreted out. Is there time to do that? If Obama wins, but not by a wide margin, and the accusations of fraud are big enough to put the outcome in question, it will tear us apart.

UPDATE: Obama speaks:
"[M]y relationship to ACORN is pretty straightforward. It's probably 13 years ago when I was still practicing law, I represented ACORN and my partner in that representation was the US Justice Department in having Illinois implement what was called the 'Motor Voter' law, to make sure that people could go to DMV’s and drivers’ license facilities to get registered... It wasn’t being implemented. That was my relationship and is my relationship to ACORN.

"There is an ACORN organization in Chicago... They have been active. As an elected official, I've had interactions with them. But they are not advising our campaign. We've got the best voter registration and turnout and volunteer operation in politics right now and we don’t need ACORN’s help.

"My understanding in terms of the voter fraud, because having run a voter registration drive, I know how problems arise, this is typically a situation where ACORN probably paid people to get registrations and these folks, not wanting to actually register people because that's actually hard work, just went into a phone book or made up names and submitted false registrations to get paid... So there's been fraud perpetrated probably on ACORN if they paid these individuals and they actually didn’t do registrations.

"But this isn't a situation where there's actually people who are going to try to vote 'cause these are phony names...

"But what I want to make sure of, is that this is not used as an excuse for the kind of voter suppression strategies and tactics that we've seen in the past. Let’s just make sure everybody is voting, everybody’s registered...."

Why are those terrible anti-religionists so contemptuous?

Damon Linker, at TNR, offers some unsolicited advice to the highly successful anti-religionists Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Bill Maher. He signals a little cluelessness right away:
[T]o his credit, Maher hilariously exposes astonishing levels of ignorance and parochialism among the earnestly pious Americans he encounters in his travels around the country. (Maher's brief visits to other parts of the world are less amusing because the believers he interviews in Europe and the Middle East aren't as boorish.)
Aw, come on. I haven't seen the movie, but really... American believers are more boorish? I'll bet the folks in the Middle East weren't prodded with the same sort of questions and edited with the same vicious hostility. I've seen enough Maher on TV to know he finds comedy in being very cruel to Americans. It's a comic stance that he's built his career on. Attacking foreigners can be hilarious, but it's not in style and it's not Maher's thing.
Yet Maher has loftier ambitions than laughs. He wants to save the world from the idiocy he unearths in the American heartland, and he believes the best way to fulfill this aim is to mercilessly attack religion and all those who adhere to it. And that's why the film, like so much written by critics of religion in recent years, must ultimately be judged a failure.
It's only a failure if the purpose is what you say: to save people from religion. Maybe it's to sell books and movie tickets, to make those in-the-know laugh and feel superior, and to propagate the idea that the hip, smart people are atheists.
Like [Harris, Dawkins, and Hitchens], Maher harbors so much contempt for religion that he would rather score easy points than explore the messy reality of humanity's complicated--often sordid, but sometimes noble--religious impulses and experiences. That's why Maher takes on simpletons and extremists instead of seeking out theologians and other thoughtful believers to explain and defend their beliefs. That's also why moderate believers simply don't exist in Maher's America, which aside from the 16 percent of the country* that explicitly rejects institutional religion, seems to be populated only by fundamentalists awaiting (and perhaps even itching to hasten) the apocalypse. How else to explain the absurdly paranoid peroration with which he concludes the film? Over ominous music and images of mushroom clouds, Maher informs us that religious belief is a "neurological disorder" that must be eradicated for the sake of human survival. "Grow up or die," he warns, as if those were our only options.
Only contempt explains it? In any case, why can't a comedian or a polemicist deal in contempt?

It's not the only approach, but it's an approach. (And I don't think "contempt" is at all the right word for Dawkins, whose "God Delusion" I've read. It fits Hitchens -- and I've read "God Is Not Great." I haven't read the Harris book, but I don't think it's contemptuous.)
Instead of hurling insults and indiscriminate denunciations at religion-in-general, Maher and his fellow atheists could do far more good by encouraging the growth and flourishing of open-minded belief--the kind of belief that lives in productive tension with modern science and cultural pluralism.
Comedians as do-gooders? What good will that do?

Eric Alterman and Christopher Hitchens -- on Bloggingheads.

This just went up, so I haven't watched it yet, but I'm ready to presume it's the best Bloggingheads of all time. I love Hitchens -- on camera even more than in writing. And as for Alterman, click on the "Alterman" tag to see what I think of him.

Should women have to register for the draft? Obama says yes.

Instapundit gives lukewarm agreement -- "we should probably include women, too. Seems only fair" -- and links to this report:
But the two presidential candidates disagree on a key foundation of any future draft: Mr. Obama supports a requirement for both men and women to register with the Selective Service, while Mr. McCain doesn't think women should have to register....

Both Congress and the Supreme Court have exempted women from registration because of the combat rules.
The Supreme Court hasn't exempted women, it has accepted the exemption of women.
"There was a time when African-Americans weren't allowed to serve in combat," Mr. Obama said. "And yet, when they did, not only did they perform brilliantly, but what also happened is they helped to change America, and they helped to underscore that we're equal.

"And I think that if women are registered for service -- not necessarily in combat roles, and I don't agree with the draft -- I think it will help to send a message to my two daughters that they've got obligations to this great country as well as boys do."
There is a difference. The goal with respect to black men is complete equality, but the military isn't going to treat men and women exactly the same.
Elaine Donnelly, a former member of President Bill Clinton's Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces, dismissed Mr. Obama's comparison of the roles of women and black soldiers, arguing that males and females, in general, aren't equal on the battlefield.

"There are differences between men and women where physical strength is an issue," said Ms. Donnelly, who heads the nonpartisan Center for Military Readiness. "There are a lot of civilian feminists who are making unreasonable demands on the military."
It was 1980 when Congress decided to exempt women from registration for the military draft. Here's why the Supreme Court, applying heightened scrutiny, approved it (in the above-linked case, Rostker v. Goldberg):
Congress determined that any future draft, which would be facilitated by the registration scheme, would be characterized by a need for combat troops. The Senate Report explained, in a specific finding later adopted by both Houses, that, "[i]f mobilization were to be ordered in a wartime scenario, the primary manpower need would be for combat replacements." S.Rep. No. 96-826, p. 160 (1980); see id. at 158. This conclusion echoed one made a year before by the same Senate Committee, see S.Rep. No. 96 226, pp. 2, 6 (1979). As Senator Jepsen put it, "the shortage would be in the combat arms. That is why you have drafts." Hearings on S. 2294, at 1688. See also id. at 1195 (Sen. Jepsen); 126 Cong.Rec. 8623 (1980) (Rep. Nelson)....

In the words of the Senate Report:
"The principle that women should not intentionally and routinely engage in combat is fundamental, and enjoys wide support among our people. It is universally supported by military leaders who have testified before the Committee. . . . Current law and policy exclude women from being assigned to combat in our military forces, and the Committee reaffirms this policy."
S.Rep. No. 9826, supra, at 157. The Senate Report specifically found that "[w]omen should not be intentionally or routinely placed in combat positions in our military services."...

The reason women are exempt from registration is not because military needs can be met by drafting men. This is not a case of Congress arbitrarily choosing to burden one of two similarly situated groups, such as would be the case with an all-black or all-white, or an all-Catholic or all-Lutheran, or an all-Republican or all-Democratic registration. Men and women, because of the combat restrictions on women, are simply not similarly situated for purposes of a draft or registration for a draft.
It's a different question whether women could be drafted and then not forced into combat duty the way men are. Presumably, the sex discrimination -- intentional, deep-seated discrimination -- would remain. I cannot conceive of forcing women into combat, and I don't think Obama can either. (He said "not necessarily in combat roles.") Can you?

If you aren't ready to treat men and women as equals after they are drafted, what is the reason for treating them the same at the registration point? I have the impression that Obama likes the symbolism of everyone filling out the same paper forms for submission to the government and having everyone on notice that they too could be called upon to leave their comfortable lives and serve.

But if there really were a draft, wouldn't these unwilling women be put to work in the kitchens and secretarial pools? Wouldn't they -- not me, I'm old -- be stuck with traditional women's work?

Oh, but who needs to worry about that? There's isn't going to be a draft. Registering the women, and setting up all these discrimination problems will only create one more barrier to the draft. But if we ever reach the point where we must go with a draft, and women are registered, my bet is that the drafted women will suffer blatant sex discrimination in the military, and the Supreme Court will approve.

"Why is it suddenly racist to treat Obama just like the four white guys who preceded him?"

Asks Jonah Goldberg, recounting the history of Republican attacks on Democratic presidential candidates:
According to the liberal history books, in 1988 the GOP cast Michael Dukakis as too elitist, cosmopolitan and not American enough. In 1992, it ran a similar attack against Bill Clinton -- remember the hullabaloo about draft dodging and that trip to Russia? In 2000, ditto with Al Gore, though the emphasis was less on foreignness and more on extraterrestrialness. And in 2004, there was John Kerry's "global test" for U.S. national security.
Fighting charges of racism with the we're-boringly-predicatable defense.

Even the defense is old, old, old. Think of all those people who rely on the ancient quip "I don't hate [black people/women/whatever], I hate everybody."

October 13, 2008

How George Bush entertains the Italian Prime Minister at the White House.

1. Tell him about our 2 Italian-American Supreme Court Justices, Antonin Scalia and Samuel A. Alito Jr.

2. Call attention to our Italian-American Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and joke -- in Nancy's presence -- that "Speaker of the House" is English for "prima donna."

3. Have some Four Seasons impersonators sing "Big Girls Don't Cry," "Walk Like a Man," etc.

4. Jump onto the stage, with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in tow, and say "Frankie, come on up," have Frankie Valli, who's been in the audience enjoying his own tunes, come on up and give the Prez a big hug.

5. Make assurances that the world financial crisis will be solved.


IN THE COMMENTS: Reader_iam thinks this is the appropriate video for this post:

I had some questions. Was Divine descended from Italians? (I think not.) But I see the clip has an "Italo" tag, so, okay.

"I understand that there's a deep human impulse to vehemently deny that subliminal messages are effective or even being attempted."

Jac thinks McCain is responsible for manipulating people into thinking that Obama is a terrorist.

The Crumpled Rose Tavern.


Pull up a chair.

"John McCain [seems] to be someone suffering from an increasingly obvious and embarrassing deficit, both cognitive and physical."

Let's hear from Christopher Hitchens:
The train-wreck sentences, the whistlings in the pipes, the alarming and bewildered handhold phrases—"My friends"—to get him through the next 10 seconds. I haven't felt such pity for anyone since the late Adm. James Stockdale humiliated himself as Ross Perot's running mate. And I am sorry to have to say it, but Stockdale had also distinguished himself in America's most disastrous and shameful war, and it didn't qualify him then and it doesn't qualify McCain now.


Desperate advice for McCain.

You might have noticed that Bill Kristol called the McCain campaign "pathetic"...

... and wrote an op-ed saying McCain ought to fire everyone:
What McCain needs to do is junk the whole thing and start over...

There are still enough doubts about Obama to allow McCain to win. But McCain needs to make his case, and do so as a serious but cheerful candidate for times that need a serious but upbeat leader....

McCain can make the substantive case for his broadly centrist conservatism.....
Let's see what Rush Limbaugh said about that:
What is "centrist conservatism"? I don't know what centrist conservatism is. I think centrist conservatism is probably what Senator McCain believes himself to be. I know he says he's a foot soldier in the Reagan revolution. Let me ask you a question. Throughout this whole campaign... Forget the primaries, 'cause what happened in the primaries is an anomaly. But throughout this whole presidential campaign, when was the one time Senator McCain surged? It was when he moved not to the center, but to the right! When he chose Sarah Palin.

What is it for the first time that actually excited people in the Republican Party about his campaign? It was the selection of Sarah Palin -- and then they hid her for a while. Now, what I hate to see about this... I am not gloating. What I hate to see about this is, this is the exact kind of thing -- this is the exact kind of campaign -- that those of us who had worries about Senator McCain a year ago, six months ago, nine months ago, eight years ago. This is exactly what we saw coming to fruition. But don't forget, there was and there is a battle in the Republican Party for its heart and soul. The country club blue-blood Republican media elites are trying to wrest control of the party from the conservative base that has made the party a dominant (and even landslide victorious) party since the 1980s.
This all has the sound of pre-mature post-mortem.


(Via Drudge.)

IN THE COMMENTS: Peter Hoh said:
Soon after Drudge released this tape, Obama was quoted saying, "Well, I’m very very pleased to be cleared of saying anything about pie, any hint of any kind of references to baked goods there."

AND: If this post has you trying to remember the old "Pie in the Sky" song, you can listen to it by Michael Hurley here and read about it, including the lyrics, here.

MORE: There must be a hundred songs about pie: "American Pie," "Honey Pie"....

And there must be a million comic pie routines. For example, compare these 2 and then take a poll:

Monty Python
3 Stooges
pollcode.com free polls

Hmmmm.... As a control:

Barack Obama
John McCain
pollcode.com free polls


Match the comedy and the politician.
Obama prefers Monty Python and McCain the 3 Stooges
Obama prefers the 3 Stooges and McCain Monty Python
Both prefer Monty Python
Both prefer the 3 Stooges
pollcode.com free polls