December 31, 2009

May, 2009 — Part 5 in a 12-part blog series.

1. The death of a camera produces a special effect.

2. "What a wild walk that was. The murder, the music, the ecstasy..."

3. "God watch over our troops."

4. "I'm going to have to use a household drill to make a hole in your boy's skull."

5. "What happened in the twilight down there in the bottoms."

6. "4 reasons I'm glad Obama nominated Sotomayor."

April, 2009 — Part 4 in a 12-part blog series.

1. The NYT Althouse + Meade story with all the links it needed.

2. Meade reads the paper.

3. "Stalkers and predators are everywhere, on-line and off. You've got to look out. But who would spend 4 years writing comments on a blog to get at some 58-year-old lady in Madison, Wisconsin? You might as well worry that your spouse of 20 years is just faking the whole damned thing. Or that you yourself are a big empty fraud."

4. "Why did Obama's people buzz lower Manhattan with a jumbo jet and an F-16 fighter?.... So Obama could just eat his waffle, in a golf cart, and wear shorts?"

5. "I'm sending you a rainbow from the edge of my sink."

March, 2009 — Part 3 in a 12-part blog series.

1. Hillary's reset button.

2. Justice Souter — soon to retire — calls the Supreme Court term an "annual intellectual lobotomy."

3. The sunset in the side-view mirror... the tulips on the window sill.

4. "Mysteries of the Althouse day."

5. Skyline chili.

6. "Althouse said yes!"

7. I explain it all to Bob.

8. "I don't think I could put on a good enough show to justify forcing a lot of people to travel, dress up, and celebrate or give the impression of celebrating, and I don't see the fun in putting myself in the position of wondering whether I need to fret about whether I can."

9. Kitty cymbal orchid.

February, 2009 — Part 2 in a 12-part blog series.

1. I scan 2 photos of me in the 1970s.

2. "WiFi on airplanes. What's the downside? Terrorists coordinating things? The fact that the mere suggestion of terrorists coordinating things has me instantly eagerly ready to have the government monitor anything sent to or from an airline laptop? Come on, we let them X-ray the intimate items our bags and look at us in that machine that lets them see us naked. And you know how ridiculous you look naked but with your invisible clothes squishing your body into the dressed shape? Or do you think you look better that way, what with your Spanx and your push-up brassiere? I'm thinking of belts and waistbands. So, come on, WiFi on airplanes. It will be great...."

3. "I would rather do the right thing and have 1 term than be mediocre and have 2."

4. I leaned out the bedroom window to capture the moonset.

5. "Speaking of Japan my neighbor was in Japan and everywhere he went Japanese people yelled Yes We Can at him. I guess because he is an American. He said this lasted an entire week. Restaurants, stores, on the street, everywhere, Yes We Can. How scary."

6. "I, however, as a man am an exception to the rule: I love purple. In fact, I wear a purple hat and a purple scarf. Men leave me alone while women can't seem to keep their hands off me. That is, as long as I wear the hat and scarf."

7. "For the love of God, people, be careful. If you're going to take any risks, I hope it's worth it for you." = What I said the day I fell in love.

8. "Nobody has to be ashamed of being a Hoosier."

9. The Rainbow Connection.

January, 2009 — Part 1 in a 12-part blog series.

1. 6 reasons why we didn't talk about the way Caroline Kennedy looks.

2. Going out without a hat does not make you as cold as going out without pants.

3. I kind of liked Twitter.

4. Random thoughts about "Gran Torino" lead to an important development.

5. "Naturally, I was interested. Interested in eeelection, which I took to be a way of e-voting for electric eels. Also screwing civility sounded hot, though I deplore the close proximity of screwing and electric eels."

6. You can't tell from the post, but this is all there is on the blog recounting the first date in a relationship that led, by August, to marriage.

7. "Wouldn't it be funny, Barack, if, after all of this, you wake up one morning, and you think: I hate my job?"

8. Ah! See what's on the iPhone? Meade sent that.

ADDED: This was important. Make that #9.

"I'm interested in your resolve to live a larger, more expressive, more fully dimensional life."

I'm interested to look back on my first post of 2009:
Have you broken your resolutions yet? Do you have the classic cliché resolution to lose weight?...

Vows of abstemiousness are all well and good, but the more interesting resolutions are about doing something, not avoiding doing things. And going to the gym doesn't count. That's still in the abstemiousness category. I'm interested in your resolve to live a larger, more expressive, more fully dimensional life.
Did I resolve, in 2009, to live a larger, more expressive, more fully dimensional life? I don't remember. I'm sure I made the classic cliché resolution referred to, and I probably thought of that "larger, more expressive, more fully dimensional" business in a dreamy, wishful way that the realistic me knew couldn't actually happen. Ha ha.

You've got one more night to wear those "00" glasses.

I thought that 2009 was the last New Year's when you could wear those glasses with "00" over the eyes, but I was corrected. You've got to put up with a little asymmetry, but it can be done:

Sketch for 2010 Glasses

The last day of the year and the decade is here at last.

It's been a rough decade at the national and international level, but at a personal level, I've really enjoyed it, especially this completely anomalous last year.

Look back.

DSC04974

Reminisce.

DSC00424

Talk about what happened in the past.

Happy Hollow

December 30, 2009

At the Stray Words Café...

In a bowl by the cash register, there are words to contemplate:

DSC06484

There's advertising on the floor:

DSC06485

And a fully painted mural where for years there was only a half-painted one:

DSC06486

So drink up!

"I hope he dies."

I'm impressed that it took 12 comments before anyone at Politico said that (or anything like that) after a report that Rush Limbaugh has been hospitalized with chest pains and is in "serious" condition.

ADDED: Much re-tweeted at Twitter: "The people calling for Rush Limbaugh to die are the same people who ask to control your healthcare."

AND: Rush Limbaugh has said on his show many times that once the government runs health care, there is a threat that life-or-death decisions will be made based on politics, and people will worry that if they  criticize the government or espouse the wrong opinions decisions will go against them.

"Ooh, baby, baby, it's a wild world. It's hard to get by just upon a smile..."

Cat Stevens sang that:



And we were talking about smiling. Do you use that tremendously effective device, the smile? It's hard to get by just upon a smile, but it could work as part of a repertoire. Here in Wisconsin, the smile is deployed. And go to Indiana. You'll find some heart-melting smiling amongst the Hoosiers.

But what of people who don't rely on smiling? There are places — maybe places where they call Wisconsin and Indiana "fly-over country" — where people not only don't try to get by just upon a smile; they don't smile at all. And they mistrust those who do rely on smiling. Do you think those people are surly? They think you are unsophisticated. For example, Dick Cheney doesn't smile.

Oh, yes, he does!




Uh! Wow. Now, I need to rethink this. Hmmm. Not sure I know what to do with that smile. Don't try to get by just upon that!

Hey, Cheney is getting blogged like mad today. What the hell did he say?
“[W]e are at war and when President Obama pretends we aren’t, it makes us less safe.... Why doesn’t he want to admit we’re at war? It doesn’t fit with the view of the world he brought with him to the Oval Office. It doesn’t fit with what seems to be the goal of his presidency — social transformation — the restructuring of American society.”
Obama wanted to smile at the whole world:



But it's hard to get by just upon a smile.



You can become President just upon a smile... and not much more. But then what do you have?



You're not the world's nice guy. It's not a cocktail party. It's real, and we're the United States.
"As I’ve watched the events of the last few days it is clear once again that President Obama is trying to pretend we are not at war. He seems to think if he has a low-key response to an attempt to blow up an airliner and kill hundreds of people, we won’t be at war. He seems to think if he gives terrorists the rights of Americans, lets them lawyer up and reads them their Miranda rights, we won’t be at war. He seems to think if we bring the mastermind of Sept. 11 to New York, give him a lawyer and trial in civilian court, we won’t be at war.

“He seems to think if he closes Guantanamo and releases the hard-core Al Qaeda-trained terrorists still there, we won’t be at war. He seems to think if he gets rid of the words, ‘war on terror,’ we won’t be at war. But we are at war and when President Obama pretends we aren’t, it makes us less safe. Why doesn’t he want to admit we’re at war? It doesn’t fit with the view of the world he brought with him to the Oval Office. It doesn’t fit with what seems to be the goal of his presidency — social transformation — the restructuring of American society. President Obama’s first object and his highest responsibility must be to defend us against an enemy that knows we are at war."



Back to Cat:

"The road to radicalization ran less through Yemen... than through the Islamic hothouse of London."

John Burns on Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.
[O]fficials in Washington and London have said they are focusing on the possibility that his London years, including his possible contacts with radical Muslim groups in Britain, were decisive in turning him toward Islamic extremism.

That view, if confirmed, would offer a stark reaffirmation that Britain, the United States’ closest ally, continues to pose a major threat to American security. Critics in Britain and the United States say the British security forces, despite major increases in budgets and manpower in recent years, have not yet succeeded in adequately monitoring, much less restraining, the Islamic militancy that thrives in the vast network of mosques that serve the nation’s 1.5 million Muslims — and on university campuses across the country where nearly 100,000 of the 500,000 students are Muslims, including many, like Mr. Abdulmutallab, from overseas....
[O]ne focus for investigators has been his activities in University College London’s Islamic Society, which he joined soon after enrolling at the university, perhaps partly as a refuge from the persistent loneliness he described in teenage postings on Islamic Web sites before he arrived in Britain....

The society’s guest speakers have included radical imams, former Guantánamo Bay prisoners and a cast of mostly left-wing, anti-American British politicians and human rights advocates. In January 2007, with Mr. Abdulmutallab as president, the society sponsored a “War on Terror Week” at venues on the University College campus, which was harshly critical of American conduct in Iraq and Afghanistan....

"W.'s favorite word was 'resolute'..."

No, Maureen. Bush was resolute.

I don't know what his favorite word was. Probably not something more than 2-syllables. ← That's a Bush joke. (I miss Bush jokes! (I miss Bush.))

***

Note: Maureen Dowd is not promoting Obama in the linked column, which is titled "As the Nation’s Pulse Races, Obama Can’t Seem to Find His."

At the Electric Café...

Photo 13

... you can take a good look at yourself.

"Our new 'post-modern' race problem" — Shelby Steele on Barack Obama.

In today's WSJ:
America's primary race problem today is our new "sophistication" around racial matters. Political correctness is a compendium of sophistications in which we join ourselves to obvious falsehoods ("diversity") and refuse to see obvious realities (the irrelevance of diversity to minority development). I would argue further that Barack Obama's election to the presidency of the United States was essentially an American sophistication, a national exercise in seeing what was not there and a refusal to see what was there—all to escape the stigma not of stupidity but of racism....

Mr. Obama won the presidency by achieving a symbiotic bond with the American people: He would labor not to show himself, and Americans would labor not to see him....

I think that Mr. Obama is not just inexperienced; he is also hampered by a distinct inner emptiness—not an emptiness that comes from stupidity or a lack of ability but an emptiness that has been actually nurtured and developed as an adaptation to the political world.
A truly tragic flaw, which we will read and think about for the rest of our lives.
... Mr. Obama always knew that his greatest appeal was not as a leader but as a cultural symbol. He always wore the bargainer's mask—winning the loyalty and gratitude of whites by flattering them with his racial trust: I will presume that you are not a racist if you will not hold my race against me....
It was much more than just "you will not hold my race against me." It was you will invest my race with a special, amorphous goodness — and I will not laugh at your foolishness. I will not doubt myself and you will assume I know what I'm doing.

***

Much more at the link. Steele writes an excellent essay — providing a great starting point for the self-examination that will be required of us in the years to come as we ask ourselves how this charming young man became President of the United States.

I must correct Barack Obama's grammar.

He said:
"A systemic failure has occurred and I consider that totally unacceptable. There was a mix of human and systemic failure that contributed to this potential catastrophic breach of security."
He meant "potentially catastrophic breach of security." Potential needs to be an adverb, because it modifies the adjective catastrophic. It shouldn't be an adjective, which makes it seem to modify the noun breach. It was a breach. If the bomb had gone off, it would have been catastrophic. That's where the potentiality lies.

***

Anyway, it's painful to see the scramble to get from Napolitano's "the system worked" to "totally unacceptable ... catastrophic breach."

And speaking of Napolitano's abysmal performance over the weekend... where's Hillary? Was she made Secretary of State for the purpose of hiding her away?

But I brought you all those Christmas presents?

Why don't you love me?

The New Year's Eve blue moon.

Tomorrow night. What will it look like? Like any other full moon. It's just the second full moon in a month. But all full moons are terribly beautiful, and a full moon on New Year's Eve — New Decade's Eve — seems propitious. May the new moon lift up your heart and inspire you to contribute what you can to whatever can be good about the next year and the 9 that follow.

***

Musical accompaniment.

And the answer to the question When will Althouse defend Obama? is:

When liberals attack him.

Michelle Cottle is really getting on Barack Obama's case about playing golf.

She writes:
Why would a leader vowing to shake up Washington--to alter the very nature of politics--sell his soul to a leisure activity that screams stodgy, hyperconventional Old Guard?
Sell his soul? Golf is not the devil. Isn't it possible that he golfs because he enjoys it? Unlike basketball, you get some leisurely strolling time. You can talk. You can smoke! And you're outdoors.
There are signs that Obama has been nursing a creeping golf addiction for some time now.
If there's an addiction involved, I bet it's smoking.
He took up the game a little more than a decade ago as a newbie state senator hoping to bond with more rural, conservative colleagues. Next thing you know, he was hooked....
So he actually has something genuine in common with the clinging-to-guns-and-religion crowd. That's horrible to Cottle, who'd like him to play basketball, like a good urban liberal.
Golf is a dying game--on the skids for nearly a decade, according to a 2008 report by the National Golf Foundation. The number of Americans who golf has fallen by some four million.... One observed problem: evolving family dynamics. Men once free to spend all weekend on the links are now expected to help shuttle the kids to soccer, walk the dog, and generally pull their weight on the home front. The first lady may be understanding about her man’s special recreational needs. But does President Obama really want to be associated with a game so antithetical to modern life?
Cottle is really hostile to golf.  She doesn't mention Tiger Woods, but I'm sensing a Nordegrenesque female rage — even though Obama is as uxorious a politician as I've ever seen. Though Cottle presents herself as the modern woman, she's mouthing ancient female complaints. (What is less hip than a "golf widow" cartoon?)

Let the poor man play golf if he's too tired to look cool playing basketball, needs a long walk, and loves his fresh air well-mixed with tobacco smoke. As long as the golf course is close to the White House — leave him alone!

Christmas miracle.

Not really, of course. (Or do you think otherwise?) But it's damned cool: A mother (seemingly) dies in labor, and the baby is (seemingly) stillborn:
The doctors told the husband they would then take his son out, as they could not revive the mother.

"They handed him to me, he's absolutely lifeless," Hermanstorfer said.

But the doctors worked on him, and suddenly he came to.

"His life began in my hands," Hermanstorfer said. "That's a feeling like no other."

Soon after, Tracy Hermanstorfer's pulse returned, even though she had no heartbeat for roughly four minutes.

Divine intervention?

Probably.

No way.

Who knows?

  

pollcode.com free polls

Best reality shows of the decade.

From Throwing Things.

December 29, 2009

"Ted, do cartoon animals have rights?

"They’re the ones that should have rights. Bambi and Thumper are just adorable and you can’t eat celluloid. I am pro-cartoon animal rights. I think they should all be colorized and that the Road Runner cartoons should be shown in school to teach students violence from Acme. Support the Acme Violence Jihad!!"

Obama admits to "a systemic failure."

"When our government has information on a known extremist and that information is not shared and acted upon as it should have been, a systemic failure has occurred, and I consider that totally unacceptable."

Is Obama getting tired?

He's been traveling a lot — including going on a vacation — which is grueling. And he doesn't give priority to sleeping:
Unlike former President George W. Bush, who made getting eight hours of sleep a priority, Obama often works late into the night, averaging five or six hours of sleep, but making do with less when need be. After the Senate held a 1 a.m. vote on health care last week, Obama said he was awake to see the results.

IN THE COMMENTS: Johanna Lapp said, "It only took six words to bring down a British prime minister. Just six words":

The end of those "macro-headed, somberly expressive, astringently probing and hardly ever flattering caricatures."

David Levine has died.

This beautifully constructed online gallery of his work has over 2,500 items. Here are all the ones of U.S. Presidents....



Charming!

"hate audio books where women speak man's part."

This is a Google search that brought a couple readers to my blog — to a post that wasn't about being annoyed when female audiobook readers do the dialogue of male characters. But it's a good topic for discussion! I too hate the way female readers — especially the really dramatic ones — do male voices. They macho it up ridiculously. I have an audiobook of "Lady Chatterley's Lover" — read by Emilia Fox — and the male characters all sound so brutish. Some of that is in the text, but I'd like the text to speak for itself.
"No; my heart's as numb as a potato, my penis droops and never lifts its head up, I dare rather cut him clean off than say 'shit!' in front of my mother or my aunt... they are real ladies, mind you; and I'm not really intelligent, I'm only a 'mental-lifer'. It would be wonderful to be intelligent: then one would be alive in all the parts mentioned and unmentionable. The penis rouses his head and says: How do you do? -- to any really intelligent person. Renoir said he painted his pictures with his penis... he did too, lovely pictures! I wish I did something with mine. God! when one can only talk! Another torture added to Hades! And Socrates started it."
I'd rather try to figure that out without a woman trying to sound like the man who would say that.

"The tax on health benefits is being sold to the public dishonestly as something that will affect only the rich..."

"... and it makes a mockery of President Obama’s repeated pledge that if you like the health coverage you have now, you can keep it."

Bob Herbert writes in the NYT.

Released Guantanamo detainees did not respond to art therapy the way we were hoping.

They, apparently, went on to plan the Christmas Day bombing.

1. What does this say about art? Is art ineffectual or — think about it! — quite powerful? It seems to me that serious artists are not about using art to become serene members of the community. They try to make strong statements and shake complacent conformists. Épater la bourgeoisie. Terrorist ideology + art should = explosion.* Now, of course, it was probably incredibly lame art therapy, in which case it was laughably ineffectual. I just want you to think about what a despicable use of art this was all around. Whether it was weak art or strong art, it was not something to be prescribed to turn men away from terrorism.

2. These men — Guantanamo prisoner #372, Said Ali Shari and prisoner #333, Muhamad Attik al-Harbi (who for some reason has now changed the Harbi to Awfi) — were released in 2007, during the Bush Administration. So, that is Bush's fault. If Obama supporters want to take advantage of the argument that it's Bush fault, they must encourage Obama to take a harsher position than Bush did against the Guantanamo detainees. Could that happen? Hardly. But maybe Obama will toughen up about the detainees. He may have wanted to do that anyway, and the Flight 253 near-disaster gives him leverage for moving his position.

***

* I hope you haven't forgotten how some artists talked about 9/11. Here's an item printed in The Guardian on September 11, 2002:
The artist Damien Hirst said last night he believed the terrorists responsible for the September 11 attacks "need congratulating" because they achieved "something which nobody would ever have thought possible" on an artistic level....
"The thing about 9/11 is that it's kind of an artwork in its own right. It was wicked, but it was devised in this way for this kind of impact. It was devised visually."

Describing the image of the hijacked planes crashing into the twin towers as "visually stunning", he added: "You've got to hand it to them on some level because they've achieved something which nobody would have ever have thought possible, especially to a country as big as America.

"So on one level they kind of need congratulating, which a lot of people shy away from, which is a very dangerous thing."

Referring to how the event changed perceptions, he added: "I think our visual language has been changed by what happened on September 11: an aeroplane becomes a weapon - and if they fly close to buildings people start panicking. Our visual language is constantly changing in this way and I think as an artist you're constantly on the lookout for things like that."

AND: "Renoir said he painted his pictures with his penis... he did too, lovely pictures!" And Abdulmutallab attempted to create a "visually stunning" plane crash with his bomb-augmented penis.

"I do not feel protected against Sarah Palin in a closed proceeding."

"I hope that if it is open she will stay out of it. ... I think a public case might go a long way in reducing Sarah Palin's instinct to attack and allow the real parties in this litigation, Bristol and I, to work things out a lot more peacefully than we could if there is any more meddling from Sarah Palin."

And the Alaskan judges agreed with Levi Johnston and opened the proceedings and denied the use of pseudonyms in the custody battle for Tripp Johnston-Palin.

Was all that sex worth $12 billion?

That's the loss to the shareholders in the companies whose advertising relied on the image of the disgraced supergolfer Tiger Woods.

December 28, 2009

"The slightly charred and singed underpants..."

I'm sorry, this gives me way too much hope for the survival of his dick.

ADDED: Here's the 6 inches of explosives he had in his pants:



Napolitano said she had no evidence this "is part of anything larger."

So then she's seen his dick?

"President Obama emerged from Hawaiian seclusion on Monday..."

"... to try to quell gathering criticism of his administration’s handling of the thwarted Christmas Day bombing of an American airliner as a branch of Al Qaeda claimed responsibility."

Emerging from Hawaiian seclusion. That's the New York Times, friends, talking about emerging from Hawaii seclusion and trying to quell the gathering criticism....

That's the first paragraph. Then this:
“We will not rest until we find all who were involved and hold them accountable,” Mr. Obama told reporters during a break in his 10-day holiday vacation. “This was a serious reminder of the dangers that we face and the nature of those who threaten our homeland.”
You will not rest? But you are in Hawaii. And you didn't even put on a tie.... You are resting. And you were resting when this happened.

Is he losing the NYT?!

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claims responsibility and brags "We have prepared men who love to die."

CNN reports:
In the statement, published on radical Islamist Web sites, the group hailed the "brother" who carried out the "heroic attack." The group said it tested a "new kind of explosives" in the attack, and hailed the fact that the explosives "passed through security."

The group threatened further attacks, saying, "since Americans support their leaders they should expect more from us."

Napol(ogize)itano.

The Secretary of Homeland Security eats her words:
Ms. Napolitano said Monday on NBC’S “Today” that her remark the day before — “the system has worked really very, very smoothly over the course of the past several days” — had been taken out of context. “Our system did not work in this instance,” she said. “No one is happy or satisfied with that. An extensive review is under way.”
ADDED: Let's read the context. Candy Crowley is interviewing Napolitano on CNN's “State of the Union.” The first question is whether the attack was "part of a larger plot" or whether Abdulmutallab was "a lone wolf." Napolitano dumps her basic canned response — that people should trust the government and feel good about flying:
Well, right now, we have no indication that it’s part of anything larger, but obviously the investigation continues. And we have instituted more screening and what we call mitigation measures at airports. So I would advise you during this heavy holiday season just to arrive a bit early, and to know that we are going to be doing different things at different airports. So don’t expect to do the same thing at one airport when you transfer through to another airport.

But the traveling public -- this is my message for you, Candy. The traveling public is very, very safe in this air environment. And while we continue to investigate the source of this incident, I think the traveling public should be confident in what we are doing now.
Crowley forces her back to the original subject of the scope of the plot. She asks "has there been any evidence of the Al Qaida ties that this suspect has been claiming?" — which is slightly inane, since the suspect's claim of al Qaeda ties is evidence. But we know what she means. Napolitano says:
Right now, that is part of the criminal justice investigation that is ongoing...
The criminal justice investigation. That reveals a mindset. Is there a war on terrorism? Or does Napolitano think she's dealing with a crime problem?
... and I think it would be inappropriate to speculate as to whether or not he has such ties.
This is the criminal justice model.
What we are focused on is making sure that the air environment remains safe, that people are confident when they travel.
Now, she's back on her canned statement, the one that Crowley said she'd get to later, after focusing on where this incident fits in the war on terror. Napolitano is keen on repeating herself and slathering us with reassurance. It is here that she drops the quote everyone jumped on:
And one thing I’d like to point out is that the system worked. Everybody played an important role here. The passengers and crew of the flight took appropriate action. Within literally an hour to 90 minutes of the incident occurring, all 128 flights in the air had been notified to take some special measures in light of what had occurred on the Northwest Airlines flight. We instituted new measures on the ground and at screening areas, both here in the United States and in Europe, where this flight originated.
The context is reassurance, and the lambasted quote isn't even reassuring. She was unresponsive to the question asked, other than to try to repackage the incident as a routine criminal matter, and in an effort to repeat herself, she said something laughably stupid.
So the whole process of making sure that we respond properly, correctly and effectively went very smoothly.
The key word there is "respond." The notion is that it's fine to stand back and see what "crimes" occur and then show up and investigate.

Crowley presses on, saying "Well, it seems as though the reason this plane did not explode is that the explosion failed and then you had some quick passengers who jumped on him when he lit this fire. So let me ask you about how he could have gotten on the plane, with this substance, the PETN. I mean, we get on, you can’t have more than 3.4 ounces of toothpaste and you can’t have more than 3.4 ounces of anything in a little bag, and so I think people are thinking, so how does he get on with an explosive? How does that get past security?" Here's Napolitano again:
Well, we are asking the same questions, looking at what happened in Amsterdam as he transferred flights to a flight that was U.S.-bound. We have already been working with the airport and airline authorities there to see what kind of screening, screening equipment was used. We have no suggestion that he was improperly screened, but we want to go through and see. We’re always ...
No suggestion! Ridiculous! Crowley interrupts:
CROWLEY: I’m sorry, but if he was not improperly screened or properly screened, and yet you want Americans to feel safe on the planes, and so if it was properly screened and he got on anyway with that, it doesn’t feel that safe.

NAPOLITANO: Well, you know, it should.
Wha?????!!!!
This was one individual literally of thousands that fly and thousands of flights every year.
Oh, thanks. I just read that out loud, and my son Chris said: "That's like saying you shouldn't be worried about terrorism at all, because even if you were flying on 9/11, the likelihood of you being on one of the actual flights that were hijacked is very low."

What an awful performance. And check it out in video form:



Why is she slurring her words like that? Does she sound drugged or drunk to you? Or is that some sort of effort to sound like a tough guy? Now, watch it with the sound off. That bland half-smile — that numb mask — those unblinking, wide eyes ... the visual is weirdly incongruent with the audio.

A subject only a movie reviewer can care about.

Worst movies of the decade.

Come on, if a movie was that bad, any lay person would have avoided it. It's nothing we're longing to erase from our memories. We figured out not to go — because you, the movie reviewer, took the hit. That's your problem.

So I don't need a decade-end list of the very worst crap that you saw and I didn't see. I'd rather make a list of the worst movies that you, the movie reviewer, gulled me into seeing. What did you say was good that I wasted my time and money on?

Help me make a list...

1. "Little Miss Sunshine"
2. "The Hours"
3. "Sideways"
4. "American Splendor"
5. "Lost in Translation"
6. "Traffic"
7. ...
8. ...
9. ...
10. ...

Roman Polanski is heartened by your murmurs.

"I have been overwhelmed by the number of messages of support and sympathy I have received in Winterthur prison... I would like every one of them to know how heartening it is, when one is locked up in a cell, to hear this murmur of human voices and of solidarity in the morning mail. In the darkest moments, each of their notes has been a source of comfort and hope, and they continue to be so in my current situation."

***

If you need to refresh your memory, here's what Roman Polanski is accused of doing.

It is not wrong, is it, to lift the heart of a prisoner who deserves his punishment? But Polanski has been evading punishment, and even now, he is likely to work out his legal problems in such a way that he will not be sentenced to further time in prison.

December 27, 2009

10 Reasons Why the Christmas Day Pants Bomber Will Be Blogged Endlessly.

1. It was a completely serious terrorist attack intended to and capable of taking down a large jet above a major American city, so 9/11 is vividly back in our consciousness.

2. But no one — other than the bomber — was seriously hurt, so we can discount it or play with it and be flippant or political in ways that we would avoid if there were specific and numerous victims.

3. There are lurid details: A man set his own pants on fire and did who-knows-what to his genitalia.

4. It's happening with a new President, so there is much potential for turning around the usual political arguments and making accusations of hypocrisy.

5. Ass-covering officials are saying mockable things like "The system worked."

6. There's a hero to laud. Yay, heroes. Yay, Army of Davids, etc. etc.

7. It was Christmas!

8. Obama's in Hawaii.  He's trying to bask in the sun and the success — or seeming success — of the healthcare bill and now here's trouble. Attack him/defend him, etc. etc. 

9. We haven't figured out yet what to call the suspect — whose actual name (Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab or Abdulmutallab) is hard to remember or even to figure out how to spell. The Pants Bomber? I used that in my post title because I saw that no one was saying that yet, and I thought it would do well in Google searches. The Christmas Day Bomber? Abdul-mutilate-a-balls?

10. See? It's funny and it's terrible — all at once. And then you can get outraged at the people who laugh or laugh at the people who don't laugh or analyze the trajectories of outrageous humor and the criticism thereof. The possibilities are endless.

ADDED:

11. The guy was privileged, rich, and well-educated.

12. His father ratted on him. Intra-family conflict. Is this extra-great evidence — even his own father turned him in? Or are you thinking: Is the government going to stop you from flying if your parents call up and say you're a radical? Discuss!

13. If the plane had exploded where the detonation was attempted, what would the parts of the plane have hit? Was there an attempt to hit specific sites on the ground? Which ones? How close was the targeting?

14. Coverage. Is mainstream media covering the right things? Is it giving cover to the Obama administration?

15. Can we get somebody fired? Come on, try. Blogswarm!

"Do I think, as a publicist, that I now have to have my eye on some kid who’s writing a blog in Oklahoma as much as I do on an editor from Vogue?"

"Absolutely. Because once they write something on the Internet, it’s never coming down. And it’s the first thing a designer is going to see."

So now, the bloggers are sitting in the front row, just 2 seats down from Anna Wintour. How terribly painful for Anna!

You've heard of global warming...

... but now there's cooling... of the Democrats' feet.

"Iraq was yesterday's war, Afghanistan is today's war. If we don't act preemptively, Yemen will be tomorrow's war."

Said Joe Lieberman.

ADDED: Spencer Ackerman said:
Is it a mistake to respond to this with more than ridicule? Maybe, but if not: it’s a ludicrously blithe and cost-free assertion to say that we need to take preemptive action in Yemen. What the fuck does Joe Lieberman know about Yemen? What does anyone in the Washington policy community know about Yemen? .... Lieberman just gets to go on Fox and monger away, unchallenged. Such is life....
Kind of hard to backpedal from that, but the NYT has this:
In the midst of two unfinished major wars, the United States has quietly opened a third, largely covert front against Al Qaeda in Yemen.

A year ago, the Central Intelligence Agency sent many field operatives with counterterrorism experience to the country, according a former top agency official. At the same time, some the most secretive Special Operations commandos have begun training Yemeni security forces in counterterrorism tactics, senior military officers said.

The Pentagon is spending more than $70 million over the next 18 months, and using teams of Special Forces, to train and equip Yemeni military, Interior Ministry and coast guard forces, more than doubling previous military aid levels....
AND: Instapundit notes:
What’s interesting is the raft of commenters accusing Lieberman of being a stooge for Israel because of this statement, when he’s quoting an administration official.
I'm seeing, at the original report that I began with: "an administration official told him that..." So I didn't think I was quoting a quote. It's a paraphrase, I think. But Lieberman didn't make it up, and the NYT article makes it pretty clear that the attacks on Lieberman are embarrassing and should be withdrawn quickly.

The reaction to the Christmas Day attack should be exactly what it would have been if Abdulmutallab's device had not malfunctioned.

Instapundit writes:
HUFFINGTON POST: What’s wrong with this picture?

UPDATE: Marc Ambinder explains that it’s all a cunning plan. Ambinder’s a nice guy, but his nonstop spin has become embarrassing. I mean, when you’re getting more honest criticism from HuffPo....
That's very Instapunditly sharp and enigmatic, so let's dig into the details....

First, the HuffPo (Steve Marmel):
It's December 23 - I lug my tired butt to the airport, ready to leave for vacation. Carrying a bottle of very nice wine, I have to leave my place in the security line as I can't bring it as a carry-on, check it in a bag, get a special box, go through security again and hope I - and my fancy wine - arrive intact....
What kind of idiot imagines that "nice"/"fancy" wine is some exception to the well-known rule against carrying liquids onto the plane? You didn't lose your place in line. You stupidly got into line. I almost stopped reading. But, I see: His point is that he'd become oblivious to terrorism prior to the Christmas Day incident. People traveling after the attack had a properly post-9/11 edge. But...
Meanwhile, the president continues his vacation.

America lucked out this holiday season. It's as simple as that. Something terrible could have happened and It was the bravery of passengers, and the ineptitude of a would-be terrorist, that prevented it.
Did the passengers actually make a difference? The crew was there with fire extinguishers, and Abdulmutallab was stunned and badly burned when the passengers jumped him and dragged him down. It looks to me as though the defectiveness of the device was what saved that plane.
... It was luck.
Yes. Indeed.
And if you're like me - that scared the crap out of you. You probably wanted assurances. What will be done to prevent this? How are we reacting?

If you're like me, you're not looking for Attorney General Eric Holder, or Representative Pete King, to be telling you how it could have been worse or how it will be managed.

When the nation is attacked, I expect to be informed and hopefully calmed by the President of the United States.

So I ask, one more time - of this president who understands that how a message is delivered is just as important as what the message is - What is wrong with this picture?
The picture is of Obama in Hawaii. Sure, he can still say, We must stop the terror, but...



See the problem?
Yes, the president deserves a vacation....

But that vacation should have been over moments after the plane landed at noon on Christmas day, and everybody was starting to do the math that once again, al Qaeda tried to strike at this country.

And even if it were only for appearances - even if it were simply to make people know the commander-in-chief was in front of whatever buttons and levers are at his disposal to act and react to threats to this nation - the president should have been inconvenienced as well.

There are moments like these where it's important not to simply just do the work, or be told by others that the work is being done. We need to see it.

And that could have been done in Hawaii. Just not from the back nine.

Back to work, sir. Back to work.
I would go further, as I've said. I don't think the President should be out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It's too far away. And I don't care that a temporary White House can be set up anywhere. (By the way, I would like an itemization of the costs, in taxpayer dollars and in carbon emissions, of relocating the White House in Hawaii.)

Oh, hey... remember this?



What do you think Hillary is thinking about what's going on? That she would have been back in the White House. She wouldn't have left it to the Secretary of Homeland Security to do the talking on the Sunday shows. She wouldn't be all...



So get out of the tropical foliage, Barack, and fight terrorism. Even if it's all photo-ops for you, have some sense about what the photo op should be right now.

On to Marc Ambinder:
In his Farenheit 9/11, filmmaker Michael Moore juxtaposes images and words of a terrorist attack in Israel with President Bush's first words about the incident, spoken to a press pool on a golf course, with him leaning casually against a tree.
Ah, my association was the same as Ambinder's. Ambinder goes on to tell us that Obama has been golfing in Hawaii. And he went to the gym right after he was briefed about the attack. But Ambinder offers his usual pro-Obama spin:
There is a reason why Obama hasn't given a public statement. It's strategy....

[A]n in-person Obama statement isn't needed; Indeed, a message expressing command, control, outrage and anger might elevate the importance of the deed, would generate panic....

In a sense, he is projecting his calm on the American people....
So was Bush. It wasn't effective. Obama has had the opportunity to learn from Bush.
It's a tough and novel approach....
It's not novel, because Bush did it too. The only thing novel about it is doing it after Bush did it... ineffectively.

As I was writing this post, Instapundit put this up:
OUTCRY: “Napolitano should quit.” “I watched her on three shows and each time she was more annoying, maddening and absurd than the pevious appearance. It is her basic position that the ’system worked’ because the bureaucrats responded properly after the attack. That the attack was ‘foiled’ by a bad detonator and some civilian passengers is proof, she claims, that her agency is doing everything right. That is just about the dumbest thing she could say, on the merits and politically. I would wager that not one percent of Americans think the system is ‘working’ when terrorists successfully get bombs onto planes (and succeed in activating them).”
That's Jonah Goldberg.
UPDATE: More from an Obama voter: “Now, I know they are mopping up after a failure, and there is reason to want to portray the attack as coming out of the blue and unconnected to anything that should have been the subject of close monitoring, but — damn — I hope they are doing a better job than they look like they are doing. And if they don’t look like they’ve been doing a good job, then they aren’t even doing a good job of mopping up after their failure.”
Oh! Well, I agree with that. It's me. Thanks for the link, Glenn. Yeah, I voted for Obama. Am I sorry? I should be exactly the same amount of sorry I would be if Abdulmutallab's device had not malfunctioned. So, I must say: Yes, I'm sorry.

IN THE COMMENTS: Jason said:
I think everyone should watch that Hillary commercial all the way to the end. It seems different somehow.
Sorry for that too. Or not. LOL.

"Janet Napolitano, the Homeland Security secretary, said on Sunday that there was so far no evidence of a wider terrorist plot..."

Hmmm. But the administration also didn't see the warnings — relayed the suspect's own father — that Abdulmutallab was a threat. It's the administration's duty to see the "dots" and connect them. Now, I know they are mopping up after a failure, and there is reason to want to portray the attack as coming out of the blue and unconnected to anything that should have been the subject of close monitoring, but — damn — I hope they are doing a better job than they look like they are doing. And if they don't look like they've been doing a good job, then they aren't even doing a good job of mopping up after their failure.

Abdulmutallab should not have been on that plane!

IN THE COMMENTS: T J Sawyer said:
"The System Worked!"

Nappie, you're doing a heck of a job.

December 26, 2009

Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab.

Some facts about the Christmas Day bomber:

1. He was an engineering student who lived in a $4 million apartment in London.

2. His father, a banker, warned American authorities about his son months ago. (How much will Obama be blamed?)

3. His bombing was interrupted by a passenger, Dutch video director Jasper Schuringa, who heard a noise and saw that "he was holding a burning object between his legs. 'I pulled the object from him and tried to extinguish the fire with my hands and threw it away.'"

4. "He was staring into nothing."

ADDED: Mutallab had a 2-year visa that was issued in 2008, and "the initial information was not specific enough to raise alarms that he could potentially carry out a terrorist attack":
“The information was passed into the system, but the expression of radical extremist views were very nonspecific,” said the senior administration official, who has been briefed on the inquiry but spoke on condition of anonymity because it is continuing. “We were evaluating him, but the information we had was not a lot to go on.”
Satisfied with the job the administration is doing protecting us from terrorism? George Bush protected the American homeland after 9/11. Is Obama taking it seriously enough? Would Bush have kept Mutallab off that plane?

"My 'C,' 'D,' and 'F' students this semester are almost exclusively American..."

"... while my students from India, China, and Latin America have - despite language barriers - generally written solid papers, excelled on exams, and become valuable class participants."

The Shalala Bowl.

Miami and Wisconsin.

At the Old Snowman Café...

DSC06454

... melt with us.

DSC06453

Is it baseball time yet?

"10 Reasons This Was TV's Decade."

10 reasons...

Add an 11th: We got older and stopped going out so much (which is the same reason every decade is TV's.)

Let the President stay in the White House — or, at most, retreat to Camp David.

"President Barack Obama’s Christmas Day began with a briefing about a botched attack on an airliner in Detroit and ended with a visit to a dining hall for members of the military. His holiday vacation was designed to be an island respite from the pressures of the White House."

Well, tough. Whoever puts himself forward to become President is asking to be on call constantly for the next 4 years — every day of the year, around the clock.

"Obama and first lady Michelle Obama made a quick trip to Marine Corps Base Hawaii after a private day exchanging gifts and eating a holiday meal of roast beef at their rented home in Kailua — between briefings on the disrupted plot of suspected terrorism."

Why, exactly, are they in Hawaii — over 5,000 miles* from the White House? I'm not criticizing Obama in particular for going on vacations. I mean to criticize all the Presidents who go far away from Washington. If they need respite, let them go to Camp David. It's close to the White House, and it's set up for security. I can see returning to one's permanent residence, but even that is a luxury the President should eschew. The Christmas Day terror attempt may seem paltry, but it is a reminder of what can happen. And when it does, it would be better if the President were not out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean (or even in some schoolhouse in Florida).

***

* I came up with the 5,000 miles figure the way I normally get the miles between 2 places in the U.S.: I put the names of the 2 places into Google maps to get driving directions. What does Google maps do when there is a big ocean in the middle of the drive? Check it out. It's funny.

ADDED: Instapundit thinks it's okay for the Prez, like anybody else, to take "a tropical island trip," as long as he shuts up about carbon emissions. (I'd take that deal too.)

Tigerhawk thinks
we ought to cut the Prez some slack because "for him, it is going home." He got to be President via Chicago. He cultivated deep roots in Chicago as a very conscious political scheme. So I'll accept the "home for Christmas" argument if he goes to Chicago.

December 25, 2009

At the Christmas Inn...

DSC06455

... I hope you got everything you wanted.

A Christmas day terror attack.

"The 23-year-old suspect lighted a powdery substance as the aircraft was preparing for landing, around noon, a federal counterterrorism official said. Two other passengers on the flight noticed, and a third person jumped on the man, the official said...."

Memories, at the cellular level.

When something is in your memory it exists in the cellular structure of your brain. I'll never get over how weird that is. If you have the most casual encounter with another person, they become part of your body. How dare they! How intimately invasive!

I get distracted at that level, and I suppose that means I'm restructuring the cells of my brain, since I'm thinking about it. But right now, I want to think about exactly what is going on:
"When something comes into your brain -- a thought, some sort of stimulus, you see something interesting, you hear some music -- synapses get activated," said [Kenneth S. Kosik, co-director and Harriman Chair in Neuroscience Research, at UCSB's Neuroscience Research Institute]. "What happens next is really interesting, but to follow the pathway our experiments moved to cultured neurons. When synapses got activated, one of the proteins wrapped around that silencing complex gets degraded."
When the signal comes in, the wrapping protein degrades or gets fragmented. Then the RNA is suddenly free to synthesize a new protein.
"One reason why this is interesting is that scientists have been perplexed for some time as to why, when synapses are strengthened, you need to have proteins degrade and also make new proteins," said Kosik. "You have the degradation of proteins going on side by side with the synthesis of new proteins. So we have now resolved this paradox. We show that protein degradation and synthesis go hand in hand. The degradation permits the synthesis to occur. That's the elegant scientific finding that comes out of this."
See? Something elegant just happened.

Fat or wrinkly...

You choose.

On the night of the crash, Elin Nordegren "roused Woods from an Ambien-enhanced sleep by whacking him with a golf club."

That's the report. If it's true, then Nordegren committed a very serious criminal attack. Attempted murder, perhaps.

IN THE COMMENTS: AllenS wrote: "Nonsense, it was a wake up call." Now, I was going to use a "wake-up call" wisecrack in the original post. Why did I reject it? Because it would signal that women's violence against men isn't really dangerous, isn't really a crime. It would say that when a woman has a righteous reason to be angry at her man, what would otherwise be a crime is not a crime. Think about how ugly it is to hit someone with a golf club while he is asleep. Did she know it was an Ambien-induced sleep — from which it will be very difficult to wake up and defend himself? How hard a swing did she take at him? It seems it was scary enough to make him run out of the house and attempt to drive — quickly — when he was in no condition to drive.

ADDED: Dr. Helen writes:
[T]o use a weapon to whack him and run him out to the car to escape, if this is what really happened, is not the way to resolve a problem like this, nor should it be legal for a male or female to beat their spouse with a weapon for cheating. It is very dangerous in this case, because, as a man, Woods probably had no other recourse than to get in the car and get away, or face being put in jail for defending himself.

Christmas breakfast.

I'm blogging Christmas breakfast. Here at Meadhouse, there's a choice of: 1. blueberry waffles, and 2. fried mush.

What are you having?

Lactose intolerance.

Remember when there was an epidemic of claims of lactose intolerance? It was such that there was a "Seinfeld" bit about it:
Jerry: I have never seen one episode of "I Love Lucy" in my life ever.

Donna: That's amazing.

Jerry: Thank you.

Donna: Is there anything else about you I should know?

Jerry: Yes, I'm lactose intolerant.

Donna: Really?

Jerry: I have no patience for lactose. And I won't stand for it. Uhm, I'll be right back. (Goes to bathroom)
You don't hear about lactose intolerance anymore, for some reason. Or I don't. Maybe you do.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, everyone!

It's Christmas. I hope life is beautiful for you.

December 24, 2009

"My husband and I both wanted our children to have a traditional childhood, which didn't include being dragged from place to place on the road. So we decided to live a simpler life."

So said rock and roll icon Patti Smith.

"We felt like we were throwing joke Molotov cocktails, and then the room burst into flames."

Stephen Colbert reflects on his infamous performance at the White House Correspondents Dinner. (Blogged here at the time.)
When the dinner was over, "I don't think I'm dying. I go to sit down and nobody's meeting my eye. Only [the late journalist-turned-White House spokesman] Tony Snow comes over and says I'm doing a great job." Then Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia came his way and told him he was brilliant.

"I said, oh, s-, don't let me like Antonin Scalia!"

"I won’t marry because I am too afraid of taking him for granted or him taking me for granted..."

"... maybe it will be a good excuse for a party when I am 80."

Said Susan Sarandon a while back. Sarandon is nowhere near 80. She's 63. The man she pictured herself growing old with, Tim Robbins, is 51. They'd been together for 23 years. No more.

Does it make it any easier not being married? Yes, I always knew this was temporary? You know the old hippie poster:
You do your thing, I'll do mine.
You go your way, I'll go mine.
And if we end up together...
It's beautiful.

The Senate finally passes the health care bill — and the question is, for people who wanted the bill to pass: How good or bad are they supposed to feel?

Liberals mull nuancefully:

"There is so much that is wrong with it -- and the way it was made -- and, at the same time, so much that is right that you just have to shake your head in despair and in wonder." — David Broder.

"At the moment of ... historical triumph, liberals are retreating from politics into languor, rage, and other incarnations of anti-politics. One day they may look back upon this time with longing." — Jonathan Chait.

"It's been a long time since the legislative system did anything this big, and people have forgotten how awful the victories are. But these are the victories, and if they feel bad to many, they will do good for more. As that comes clearer and clearer, this bill will come to feel more and more like the historic advance it actually is." — Ezra Klein.

December 23, 2009

Sinornithosaurus, the bird-lizard with venomous fangs.

"You wouldn't have seen it coming... It would have swooped down behind you from a low-hanging tree branch and attacked from the back. It wanted to get its jaws around you. Once the teeth were embedded in your skin the venom could seep into the wound. The prey would rapidly go into shock, but it would still be living, and it might have seen itself being slowly devoured by this raptor."

"It went over well except for one person who thought it was blasphemous and tried to knock over our Festivus pole."

"He refused to come to the potluck, was forced to, came, ate all the food and left without saying thank you. Grievances were aired about him."

Are you participating in the feats of strength and airing of the grievances?

I say Obama never intended to close Guantanamo.

So the Guantanamo detainees won't be moved to Illinois after all? I am so not surprised.
While Mr. Obama has acknowledged that he would miss the Jan. 22 deadline for closing [Guantanamo] that he set shortly after taking office, the administration appeared to take a major step forward last week when he directed subordinates to move “as expeditiously as possible” to acquire the Thomson Correctional Center, a nearly vacant maximum-security Illinois prison, and to retrofit it to receive Guantánamo detainees.

But in interviews this week, officials estimated that it could take 8 to 10 months to install new fencing, towers, cameras and other security upgrades before any transfers take place. Such construction cannot begin until the federal government buys the prison from the State of Illinois.

The federal Bureau of Prisons does not have enough money to pay Illinois for the center, which would cost about $150 million. Several weeks ago, the White House approached the House Appropriations Committee and floated the idea of adding about $200 million for the project to the military spending bill for the 2010 fiscal year, according to administration and Congressional officials.

But Democratic leaders refused to include the politically charged measure in the legislation. When lawmakers approved the bill on Dec. 19, it contained no financing for Thomson.
Well, of course. Why throw way $150 million — or $200 million — building another facility when these people are already safely and securely detained in Guantanamo? Symbolism? Too expensive! And also politically unpopular. I think Obama knew when he announced the Thomson plan that the Democrats in Congress would oppose him. He didn't want the transfer to happen and he didn't think it would happen. He has never intended to close Guantanamo. I was pretty sure of that last January. He has only intended to appease the folks who wanted him to and to make it possible to claim that he really tried.

The webcam that can't see black people.

"I think my blackness is interfering with the computer's ability to follow me..."



Wanda Zamen and Desi Cryer say they didn't really mean to make a viral video and cause everyone to talk about whether HP computers are racist.

"Transvestites, Mao, Obama On Mt. Rushmore Adorn White House Christmas Tree."

View the pics.

Your response?
It's shocking.
It's kind of cool and hip.
The controversy is a pointless distraction.
These secular images appropriately offset the religiosity of WH Xmas displays.
  
pollcode.com free polls

December 22, 2009

The D.C. mayor signed the same-sex marriage bill in a church.

In a church!
Two weeks after giving the measure preliminary approval, the Washington, DC, City Council on December 15 adopted a marriage equality law. The 11-2 vote in support of the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009 was identical to the first-round tally on December 1.

Three days later, in a ceremony at All Souls Unitarian Church in the city’s Mount Pleasant section, Democratic Mayor Adrian Fenty signed the measure, with his parents, Phil and Jan Fenty, an interracial couple looking on....
In a church???
Mayor Adrian M. Fenty['s...] staff scrambled to find the perfect location....

Would it be All Souls Unitarian Church, a Northwest house of worship known for its diversity, liberalism and welcoming of same-sex couples? Would it be Covenant Baptist Church...?...

[The Rev. Robert Hardies, All Souls' senior pastor] said Fenty's decision to sign the bill in a church was telling. "This is symbolic of the strong religious support for this bill in D.C.," he said, noting that more than 100 clergy members had signed a declaration in support of same-sex marriage.

The measure was opposed by other religious leaders. The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington has strongly opposed the bill, saying that its charitable arm might have to cancel its contract with the city to deliver social services.
What a shameful and embarrassing display! Here you are, purporting to extend rights to people, and flouting the fundamental principle of keeping government separate from religion. The perfect location? Yes, it was the perfect location to show your lack of respect for constitutional limitations on government.

"I have so many things in me that you can't even guess them all." — Kim Peek.



Kim Peek, the real "Rain Man," dead now, at 58.
... Mr Peek was diagnosed as severely mentally retarded and his parents were advised to place him in an institution and forget about him. Thirty years later, he was classified as a "mega-savant," a genius in about 15 different subjects, from history and literature and geography to numbers, sports, music and dates....

He would read eight books a day, taking just ten seconds to read a page. He could read two pages simultaneously, his left eye reading the left page and his right eye reading the right page.

But throughout his life he still needed 24-hour care. Despite his great mental agility, his motor skills remained limited; he could not perform simple tasks such as dressing himself or combing his hair.

His father Fran became his sole carer after Mr Peek's parent divorced in 1975. Fran Peek said that care of his son was a 30-hour-day, 10-day-a-week job but he did it devotedly, encouraging Kim to make the most of his abilities. But Mr Peek remained deeply introverted. It was not until he met Dustin Hoffman, when the Hollywood star was researching his role in Rain Man, that he could look into another person's face. He was 37 at the time.

Is Obama now deliberately avoiding the term "czar"?

"Today the White House announced the President’s new White House Cybersecurity Coordinator, Howard Schmidt."

***

Last September on the White House website, Anita Dunn called out critics of the term "czar":
 ... Although some Members have asked serious questions around the makeup of the White House staff, the bulk of the noise you hear began first with partisan commentators, suggesting that this is somehow a new and sinister development that threatens our democracy. This is, of course, ridiculous....

... Darrell Issa, a Republican from California and one of the leaders in calling for an investigation into the Obama Administration’s use of "czars", had to admit to Fox News that he had never raised any objections to the Bush Administration’s use of "czars". Many of these members who now decry the practice have called on Presidents in the past to appoint "czars" to coordinate activities within the government to address immediate challenges. What is clear is that all of this energy going into these attacks could be used to have a constructive conversation about bringing this country together to address our challenges moving forward – and it doesn’t take a "czar" to bring that about! Just some folks willing to act in good faith.
You can call people out or you can just stop doing nonessential things that open you to criticism. And when you're engaged in a grand enterprise of amassing power, calling your minions "czars" is unnecessary, to say the least.

Popcorn, the breakfast cereal.

Really.

We made corn.

"In the 19th and 20th centuries we made stuff: corn and steel and trucks."

Another David Brooks first line.

Icy sidewalks and hating to use salt.

I don't want any floor-damaging grit either. So, what's left? I found this:
When I had a wooden deck I used to scatter cracked corn after shoveling, and I used it on the sidewalks as well. The cracked corn provided plenty of traction, and if it was tracked in it wouldn't damage flooring. Besides providing much needed traction on the otherwise slippery deck, the cracked corn was also a great snack for the birds and squirrels. Nothing went to waste, and no one ever fell on my sidewalks or backyard deck.
We love corn here at Meadhouse, so I love this idea, assuming it works. And, yes, I do care.

ADDED: Or am I going to have to fight my way through swarming squirrels to get out of the house?

Ezra Klein responds to Jane Hamsher's 10 reasons to kill the health care bill.

The liberals are fighting amongst themselves, forcing out some useful points.

"Like Wally Cox... and Don Knotts, Mr. Stang was a natural for roles requiring a milquetoast, a pest or a nerd."

The last of the milquetoast triumvirate is gone.

Arnold Stang was 91. I wish I could come up with some good video on YouTube. I wanted the old "What a chunk o' chocolate" Chunky commercial. (Great commercial, but it never tricked me into trying what was obviously a disgusting candy bar.) Or the garage destruction scene in "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World." What is YouTube for if not for that?

ADDED: Out of the milquetoast persona, Stang was the voice of the cartoon character Top Cat. Watch episode #1 here. And here's Stang talking about "Top Cat":

"But before we cede the entire moral penthouse to 'committed vegetarians' and 'strong ethical vegans'..."

"... we might consider that plants no more aspire to being stir-fried in a wok than a hog aspires to being peppercorn-studded in my Christmas clay pot."

I've heard the old plants-have-feelings-too riposte many, many times, but Natalie Angier puts her all into it. Pretty amusing.

"I can’t tell you the number of people who come up to me and hug and kiss me and touch me, and some of them in tears."

"I wish there was a way of keeping that without the commercialization of me. Because when I spoke my words I spoke them freely, and I never intended for people to make money off them, because that seems wrong to me."

The words were "Wise Latina."

Grande Conservative Blogress Diva.

Once again, I'm nominated for this title. Once again, I won't win. Tell me all the reasons why I shouldn't. I've heard it all before.

"Can I have your hair in my next life?"

Brittany Murphy's last interview.

December 21, 2009

We've now endured the shortest day.

Enjoy the long night.

Must be Santa!

Orangutans need...

... corridors.

"Go! Oriental Angel."

A Chinese reality show shines a light on Chinese racism.
"After the contest started, I often got more attention than the other girls. It made me feel strange," Lou [Jing] said.

The reality show hosts fondly called her "chocolate girl" and "black pearl." The Chinese media fixated on her skin color. Netizens flooded Web sites with comments saying she "never should have been born" and telling her to "get out of China."...

"We lived in a small circle before," said her mother....

"She used to wonder why she had black skin," said one classmate. "We thought about this question together and decided to tell her it's because she likes dark chocolate. So her skin turned darker gradually."

Another classmate weighed in, "We said it's because she used to drink too much soy sauce."

"Whereas positive mood seems to promote creativity, flexibility, co-operation and reliance on mental shortcuts..."

"... negative moods trigger more attentive, careful thinking, paying greater attention to the external world."

"For those who might like a hint or two: 'Gary Oldman' is Albert Goldman..."

Blech. If you have to explain it, all the fun and surprise is gone.

I am reminded of the entry of the lion in the play within a play in "A Midsummer Night's Dream":
You, ladies, you, whose gentle hearts do fear
The smallest monstrous mouse that creeps on floor,
May now perchance both quake and tremble here,
When lion rough in wildest rage doth roar.
Then know that I, one Snug the joiner, am
A lion-fell, nor else no lion's dam;
For, if I should as lion come in strife
Into this place, 'twere pity on my life.
I wonder if the editors' meetings about the need for a prologue were as ridiculous as the discussions among the actors in the old play.
I grant you, friends, if that you should fright the
ladies out of their wits, they would have no more
discretion but to hang us: but I will aggravate my
voice so that I will roar you as gently as any
sucking dove; I will roar you an 'twere any
nightingale.
And now, ladies and gentlemen, the Beatles:

"Every senator uses whatever leverage they have to help their states. That’s the way it has been. That’s the way it will always be."

David Axelrod expects us to deal with the nasty aspects of American federalism.

Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming...

Did your state win?

Tom Coburn's prayer.

"What the American people ought to pray is that somebody can't make the vote tonight. That's what they ought to pray."

Yikes. And everyone knew he was talking about Byrd:
It was difficult to escape the conclusion that Coburn was referring to the 92-year-old, wheelchair-bound Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.V.) who has been in and out of hospitals and lay at home ailing. It would not be easy for Byrd to get out of bed in the wee hours with deep snow on the ground and ice on the roads -- but without his vote, Democrats wouldn't have the 60 they needed.
Clearly, God made the final call, and He came through for the Democrats. All glory to the government, which, I trust will take care of us until the Death Panel Lord Almighty says it's time to go.

Supreme Court ideology and the career paths of Supreme Court clerks.

A new study shows:
Clerks from conservative chambers are now less likely to teach. If they do, they are more likely to join the faculties of conservative and religious law schools. Republican administrations are now much more likely to hire clerks from conservative chambers, and Democratic administrations from liberal ones. Even law firm hiring splits along ideological lines....

The rise of the organized conservative legal movement, including notably the Federalist Society, seems to have changed that, perhaps as a result of the sense among conservatives that law school faculties are overwhelmingly liberal.

“Certain kids coming out of the conservative movement were not feeling comfortable with traditional law schools,” said Harvey Rishikof, another author of the study and a law professor at the National War College.

"May the best man win."

That's not what you want to say when you're competing against a woman, and women are judging the contest. But I would have voted for you, Li'l Russell. Come back soon — on an "All Stars" show.

December 20, 2009