July 18, 2009

Boys conquer Craggy Pinnacle.



For fans of RLC's blog, these are Agents 95 and 97. We're here in Asheville, North Carolina, at a unique family reunion. For example, here are RLC and Meade, together at 12 Bones:


So there you have it: a picture of my husbands, former and future.

Althouse on Craggy Pinnacle.


A bit of a Penniston Crag effect, perhaps? When I saw this picture, taken yesterday, I said, "What am I doing with my hand?" Which was a silly question, but because of the angle, you can't see the camera in my hand. So, of course, I have many photos from Craggy Pinnacle, but these will need to wait until later.

Walter Cronkite.

1. Dead, now, at 92.

2. "The most trusted man in America" — that's the cliché about Cronkite. Do you think: He's dead now, so everyone is going to have to say the expected thing and mouth that cliché? Or do you fall into a reverie about how there hasn't been anyone around in a long time — certainly not in journalism — who would embody trust for the entire nation? Oh, America! Where is the trust?!

3. Were we better when we had that trust? Or is skepticism and a critical eye better? Imagine trusting a media figure today? Some blogger?

4. Did you trust Cronkite? Did you watch Cronkite? I preferred Huntley and Brinkley back in the day. Easier to trust 2 guys, don't you think? Nah. Today, 2 guys... I think of Hannity and Colmes. That's a formula for untrustworthiness. Neither has to take responsibility for getting it right. You're supposed to average it out or something. But for the evening news-read, the one-man anchor, the Cronkite style, has prevailed — even as no one watches anymore. I haven't watched the evening news on a regular basis since the 1970s — long before Cronkite retired. I don't need or want the day's events funneled/filtered through one man. That's not how I get my confidence that I have any idea what's going on in the world.

6. Cronkite getting emotional announcing the death of President Kennedy. It was back when emotion was not slathered over everything. How different things were — how muted and calm — even as the most shocking event had occurred. The emotion occurs at 5:18 on this clip, and, though it has been talked about for decades, by today's standards, is hardly worth mentioning:

July 17, 2009

"As Christians, WE'RE SORRY."



"For being self-righteous, judgmental bastards."



More photos from the graffiti wall in Knoxville.

"I do think she was boxed in," said lawprof Heather Gerken about Sonia Sotomayor.

"Virtually any answer other than the answer she gave ends up evoking cries of judicial activism. The result, unfortunately, is that judges are portrayed as automatons or activists, when most are neither."

She was only boxed in by the limitations of her own intellect, expressive skill, and nerve. So explain to me why she belongs on the Supreme Court.

Graffiti wall paintings.

Graffiti wall paintings

Graffiti wall paintings

In Knoxville.

Bending the long-term cost curve.


"Red meat by the slab, folks! Barbara Boxer wound up getting reamed by Harry Alford, the chair of the National Black Chamber of Commerce..."

"... , after attempting to challenge his testimony on energy policy. When Boxer started waving position papers from the NAACP and the 100 Black Men of Atlanta, Alford called it a 'condescending' attack and complained about Boxer’s focus on black people rather than science..."

Could you stop chomping on that red meat for a second and explain to me how the chair National Black Chamber of Commerce can get all outraged about being addressed as a representing the opinion of black people? It's the Black Chamber of Commerce! Why does he think he's been invited to speak to Boxer's committee? Don't play innocent. If he'd come there from some race-neutral organization and Boxer had brought up the NAACP and the 100 Black Men of Atlanta, he'd have had standing to complain, but he's from the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Give me a break. Plus, he was rude to Boxer from the start, interrupting her and acting combative. He seems to have been waiting for this moment to generate a hot YouTube clip. Color me unimpressed.

Drawings from a graffiti wall in Knoxville.

Graffiti wall drawings

Graffiti wall drawings

July 16, 2009

Posing in Knoxville.

In Krutch Park, this statue seems to implore us to pose alongside of her:


I give it my all:


Later, we have lunch at the Downtown Grill & Brewery, with Instapundit and Dr. Helen, and another pose is implored:


AND: Don't miss "Instapundit: matchmaker."

At the Wishful Thinking Café....


... you can talk about and to your heart's desire.

(The photo shows a small cross and a penny at the base of a totem-pole like sculpture erected atop an Indian mound on the East Side of Madison. Photographed on July 12th, when I was in Madison. Right now, I'm in Kentucky, about to hit the road heading toward Tennessee and then North Carolina. So please use this post to keep things hot or at least warm around here. I'll be back in due time.)

Why aren't the Democrats giving us a chance to see what is in the health care bill?

Since I have been given no time to figure it out, I will ram through my explanation: They don't want us to see how terrible it is. My working theory must be it's a horror. Therefore, I am vehemently opposed to it. Aren't you?

ADDED: Breakfast table dialogue:
You're such a winger.

It's a process point!

The Sotomayor-is-lying meme.

I'm seeing it a lot. In the comments on this blog. And here, for example. And, this, from lawprof Michael Louis Seidman has gotten a lot of attention:
... I was completely disgusted by Judge Sotomayor's testimony today. If she was not perjuring herself, she is intellectually unqualified to be on the Supreme Court. If she was perjuring herself, she is morally unqualified. How could someone who has been on the bench for seventeen years possibly believe that judging in hard cases involves no more than applying the law to the facts? First year law students understand within a month that many areas of the law are open textured and indeterminate—that the legal material frequently (actually, I would say always) must be supplemented by contestable presuppositions, empirical assumptions, and moral judgments. To claim otherwise—to claim that fidelity to uncontested legal principles dictates results—is to claim that whenever Justices disagree among themselves, someone is either a fool or acting in bad faith. What does it say about our legal system that in order to get confirmed Judge Sotomayor must tell the lies that she told today? That judges and justices must live these lies throughout their professional carers?
Well, yes, of course, but do we really want to call this lying? Don't all the nominees lie that way? Sotomayor is laying it on particularly thick. And at some point, we do need to acknowledge the disgust — like Seidman — or at least — this would be more my speed — laugh and roll your eyes.

John Roberts said essentially the same sort of things about judging, but the humble judge pose is perhaps less strained coming from a conservative. Now, I do think Sotomayor and her advisers did study the John Roberts confirmation performance. This — I think they decided — is the ideal. So be like that. But it is more absurd coming from a judge who, we think, is going to do more expansive things with the clauses of the Constitution. And there's something clunky and obvious about Sotomayor's John Roberts routine. Acting like Roberts came more naturally to Roberts. But let's not reject the woman for bad acting.

July 15, 2009

A late night greeting from Kentucky.

The odometer clicked over to 600 and we decided not to push it to 700 as planned. We're conked out at a Hampton Inn, soaking up WiFi and making a late snack out of vending machine stuff (microwave popcorn and peanut butter crackers).

"If we persevere in our quixotic quest for a fetishized medical equality we will sacrifice personal freedom as its price."

"We will become the voluntary slaves of a 'compassionate' government that will provide the same low quality health care to everyone."

Thomas Szasz.

Hello, from the road.

Somewhere in Indiana...

Photo 87

We're not even halfway to our goal today, but we needed to stop on an important mission and then again for some coffee and WiFi. In the car, we partook of some of the Sotomayorganza, but that got old after an hour or so. I had my notebook on my lap, and I wrote... I mean authored:
"wrote... authored..."
That was at 9:25 CT, when Sotomayor was in the middle of talking about some Ginsburg opinion. SS had already voiced the word "wrote" and then she changed it to "authored," as if "wrote" was a mistake. I know there are people who think "wrote" and then make a point to say "authored" — and do all sorts of other hoity-toity substitutions — but, jeez, if the simple world has already slipped out, move on. Don't let people hear that you do that.

Not that it's disqualifying or anything. Just something that made me want to write in my notebook, back in Wisconsin a few hours ago. Now, as I said, we are in Indiana.

A cute little girl walks up to our table and stares. I say hi. She thinks a bit, then says, "Y'all got 2 computers?!" I say, yeah. She's all, "How'd you get that?" I say, we just got 'em, as her dad/older brother shoos her along.

Back to my Sotomayor notes.
strategy: boring us to death

+ avoiding creating highlights for the nightly news

no one has ever said "precedent" so many times in a confirmation hearing
And I remember saying something like: "She's talking about precedent so much because it's her way to nullify anything that she ever did as a Court of Appeals judge. She did it because of precedent, so she's not really responsible for anything." But there's room to maneuver within the limitations of precedent, and in the things that she did — while citing precedent — we can perceive her leanings, and we quite properly want to know what her leanings are.

Other techniques she's using: speaking very slowly, laying out the basics of case law, and repeating the most innocuous platitudes about judging.

We switched over to the satellite radio. 60s on 6. "Mrs. Robinson," then The Happenings doing one of those quasi-pedophilia-type songs that no one would do anymore ("Go away little girl..."). Click to 80s on 8. "Rock the Casbah." The 80s sometimes beat the 60s. Not often, but sometimes.

We switch off the radio, and I read the comments to the baseball pitch post out loud:
Paul Zrimsek said — paren — "Placeholder for a thousand words of bafflegab involving depth of field and photo-editing software, somehow proving that Obama threw a perfect strike" — close paren. Ha ha. I would front page that.
Later, we get back to the Sotomayorganza, and it's Al Franken at last. He's talking about himself again, saying something that we start parodying: Here I am, Al Franken, a Senator, talking to you, Sonia Sotomayor; we are here, in the Senate, and I am talking and you are talking. Check the transcript and you'll see. He's in this inane "I am a Senator" mode, and he's breaking all records for using the word "I." He bumbles through pointless questions detailing cases and revealing he knows next to nothing about actual Supreme Court cases. He ends his segment by asking Sotomayor: What's the title of the "Perry Mason" episode where Perry Mason lost a case? This gives Sonia a chance to giggle a bit in a human manner — after being ploddingly robotic all day. She doesn't know the title, and it turns out Al doesn't either, which baffles old man Leahy.

Time to close up the MacBooks and hit the road again.

In the Fluffy Clouds Café...


... fly free... go where you like... I know I will....

Remember when George W. Bush threw a strike to open the 2001 World Series in New York one month after September 11th?

And then there's Barack Obama, at the 2009 All-Star Game, wearing a White Sox jacket in St. Louis — because his wife told him he looks "cute" in it...

Am I going to live-blog Day 3 of the Sotomayor hearings?

No, no. I'm afraid I can't. I've got places to go. But I will listen to it, live, on the satellite radio as we cover a lot of miles today. And I'm going to take notes in a notebook, because that's how much I care.

And when I stop for a cheeseburger in a McDonalds, I'll get on the WiFi and share my observations, which may or may not be skewed by my personal experience of watching the interstate fly by instead of watching the faces of the Senators confronting the wise Latina.

Somebody, anybody, please, take the initiative to live-blog in the comments — to live-comment the hearings. Or not. Say anything. On the topic of Sotomayor. I'll put up a general open thread in a few minutes. Then, I'm throwing my things in a suitcase, so we can be in the car by 9 Central Time, when Senator Leahy restarts the proceedings.

"Do I want the kids? Hell no. Does it look good for me to ask for them? Absolutely."

"I don't want to look like the woman who gave away her kids and just forgot about them."

Does it look good for you to ask whether it looks good for you to ask for them? Hell no!

ADDED: Rowe says she didn't write that email.

"Why do so many Senators persist during judicial confirmation hearings in making speeches rather than asking questions?"

Asks Power Line.


Why does the rain fall from up above?

"Upcoming Military Robot Could Feed on Dead Bodies."


July 14, 2009

"Why treat racial diversity as more important than other forms of diversity at a place like the Supreme Court?"

Conor Clarke tries to restate a question I asked. My question was:
If a diverse array of justices is desirable, should we not be concerned that if you are confirmed, six out of the nine justices will be Roman Catholics, or is it somehow wrong to start paying attention to the extreme overrepresentation of Catholicism on the court at the moment when we have our first Hispanic nominee?
I think religious diversity is particularly important, because it has more to do with the individual's mind. It's part of one's thinking, and legal analysis is thinking. Race and ethnicity might have an effect on your thinking — in that it may involve various personal experiences and feelings of identification — but it is not a characteristic that you have by deciding to have it or by believing you have it. Religion is different.

Strangely, though, we are circumspect on the subject of religion. A lot of people seem to think it's wrong to talk about the number of Catholics on the Court, or to state simple facts like: Once Sotomayor is confirmed, there will be 6 Catholics, 2 Jews, and 1 Protestant on the Court. Perhaps this is because it is a quality of mind, internal to the individual. That makes it seem like a private matter. And who knows whether a given individual remains devout in the religion of his or her childhood.

Is it rude to ask? Is atheism still a secret? Why not be open about it, especially when we are inspecting a Supreme Court nominee? This is a mind that is going to be imposing its thoughts on us, probably for decades.

Did you notice how Sonia Sotomayor has backed away from any identification with Obama's notion that "empathy" is a component of judging?

I sure did, as you can see here. I'm on the phone doing a call-in show on Minnesota Public Radio during the Judiciary Committee's lunch break today:

For reference, here's what Obama said about "empathy," and here's what he said about "heart."

And now read the whole interchange between Sonia Sotomayor and Senator Jon Kyl. Let me highlight some of it:
KYL: Let me ask you about what the president said -- and I talked about it in my opening statement -- whether you agree with him. He used two different analogies. He talked once about the 25 miles -- the first 25 miles of a 26-mile marathon. And then he also said, in 95% of the cases, the law will give you the answer, and the last 5 percent legal process will not lead you to the rule of decision. The critical ingredient in those cases is supplied by what is in the judge's heart. Do you agree with him that the law only takes you the first 25 miles of the marathon and that that last mile has to be decided by what's in the judge's heart?

SOTOMAYOR: No, sir. That's -- I don't -- I wouldn't approach the issue of judging in the way the president does. He has to explain what he meant by judging. I can only explain what I think judges should do, which is judges can't rely on what's in their heart. They don't determine the law. Congress makes the laws. The job of a judge is to apply the law. And so it's not the heart that compels conclusions in cases. It's the law. The judge applies the law to the facts before that judge.

KYL: ... [H]ave you ever been in a situation where a lawyer said I don't have any legal argument to me, Judge, please go with your heart on this or your gut?

SOTOMAYOR: Well, I've actually had lawyers say something very similar to that. (LAUGHTER) I've had lawyers where questions have been raised about the legal basis of their argument. I thought one lawyer who put up his hands and said, but it's just not right. (LAUGHTER) But it's just not right is not what judges consider. What judges consider is what the law says.....

KYL: ... Have you always been able to have a legal basis for the decisions that you have rendered and not have to rely upon some extra-legal concept, such as empathy or some other concept other than a legal interpretation or precedent?

SOTOMAYOR: Exactly, sir. We apply law to facts. We don't apply feelings to facts.

"And yet in her perfection, she actually sounds hood to me."

Ta-Nahesi Coates assesses Sotomayor's enunciation.

Hmmm. I'll just note that Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sandra Day O'Connor also over-enunciate. It actually sounds judge to me. Perhaps lady judge.

UPDATE: I've misspelled Coates's first name, and he's cursed me and connected me to racism because of that. Maybe spelling to him, like pronunciation, rubs a sore spot.

"The live blog of the SS hearings does not excuse you from providing something frothy and frivolous for your groundlings."

Says LarsPorsena.

Frivolous groundlings, froth and frolic here. I will join you when I can, but please cavort without me.

Or try to tempt me out of my serious place (in the previous post) and into your silly playground.

Live-blogging Day 2 of the Sotomayor confirmation hearings.

8:16 CT: Just setting up a post. The hearings begin at 9 CT. Stop back.

9:01: Leahy asks a question about the incorporation of the 2d Amendment, and Sotomayor makes it clear that, as a Supreme Court Justice, she would have an open mind about it, although as a Court of Appeals judge she saw herself bound to a precedent. Leahy asks about a federal statute that had been challenged as exceeding the commerce power and expresses pleasure at the degree of deference she showed to Congress. Note that in both cases, the Constitution lost out to the power of government, but Leahy and Sotomayor, operating in a smooth dance, made it seem more as though she were exhibiting neutral fidelity to the law — which is, of couse, the theme of these hearings.

9:09: The first mention ever of YouTube in a Supreme Court confirmation hearing, as Sotomayor says her statement — at Duke — that the Court of Appeals is where policy is made needs to be heard in its full context (and not just in that YouTube snippet). She's answering a question from Sessions that invites her to talk about her various famous quotes that have been used to portray her as a judge who is not a humble follower of the law.

9:10: "Life experience has to influence you," Sotomayor says. "We're not robots who don't have feelings. We have to recognize those feelings, and put them aside." I add the italics to indicate dubiousness. Sessions jumps in to remind her that she had said that judges should not deny the difference that come from experience and heritage. Sometimes the "sympathies and prejudices are appropriate." That's a quote from her speech. So when is it appropriate? She says that sometimes "the law" requires it. She is trying to reframe her old remarks so that they mean that the judge is "testing" to make sure that improper emotions are not influencing the decision. It's all about fidelity to law. Sessions points out — and I think he's right — that she's saying the opposite of what she said before.

9:21: Sotomayor makes the powerful statement that her "wise Latina" remark "was bad," that it was an attempt at at a play on something Justice O'Connor had said (that a wise man and a wise woman would reach the same result) and that it "fell flat." The context of her whole speech was to inspire young Hispanic students, to make them feel that their life experiences were a valuable asset. ADDED: So she answered the first of the questions I asked in yesterday's NYT op-ed: "When you said you hoped that 'a wise Latina' would make better judicial decisions, did you mean it as a pleasantry aimed at people who had invited you to speak about diversity or will you now defend the idea that decision-making on the Supreme Court is enhanced by an array of justices representing different backgrounds?" The answer is: It was just a pleasantry that suited the feel-good occasion and not meant to be taken seriously.

9:22: Sessions asks about Ricci. She promised to him, back when she was confirmed as a Court of Appeals judge, that she would apply strict scrutiny to all racial discrimination. Why didn't she want a full hearing on an issue that Judge Cabranes called the most important race discrimination case the 2d Circuit had faced in 20 years? Why did she deal with it "in such a cursory manner"? Sotomayor, unsurprisingly, cites the very careful, thorough district court opinion that her panel had adopted.

9:35: Both Sessions and Sotomayor are terrific, by the way. This is a classic confrontation, at the highest level. It's a real thrill to listen in.

10:28: Senator Hatch takes over. He begins by asking if her adherence to precedent would include the case upholding the ban on partial-birth abortion. She gives a bland answer: precedent is subject to the doctrine of stare decisis. And he moves on! Why not follow up with some questions about when precedent may be overruled and whether she sees that particular precedent as a good candidate for overruling? Maybe some other Senator is set to pursue that line of inquiry and Hatch merely wants to be on record having mentioned it. What he moves on to is: guns.

10:29: Does Sotomayor see 2d Amendment rights as "fundamental" in the sense that means that they are incorporated in the 14th Amendment and thus applicable to the states? Sotomayor participated in a case that said that they were not, but her answer is about whether the Supreme Court had said that they are, so her answer is very much about precedent.

10:47: Hatch gets into the details of Ricci, and both Hatch and Sotomayor are patiently spelling out technical matters. I don't think many in the general audience will keep watching or that anything here will make the news highlights. Again, the topic is precedent. Sotomayor has rested heavily on the existence of precedent and the limitations on the role of a Court of Appeals judge. Hatch is endeavoring to show the ways in which precedent had not foreclosed key details of the case.

11:01: Dianne Feinstein sharply distinguishes Sotomayor from Miguel Estrada. Why compare those two? He had no judicial experience and he refused to answer some questions.

11:03: Feinstein expresses outrage that Sotomayor is portrayed as an activist. She can't possibly "be construed as an activist." She agrees with her colleagues on constitutional matters 98% of the time.

11:09: Now, Feinstein is giving Sotomayor a comfortable but serious opportunity to speak about following precedent in a duly judicial fashion. This is nicely handled by Feinstein, because it doesn't look too softball, but it is gently supportive and designed to make Sotomayor look solid and smart and, above all, dutifully faithful to the law.

11:23: Feinstein says that the Supreme Court, after 60 years of declining to strike down any laws as beyond the commerce power, in the last 3 decades, it has struck down 3 dozen. 3 dozen?! What Supreme Court cases is she talking about? Isn't it more like 3?

11:34: I'll be on Minnesota Public Radio soon, doing a call-in show that will be an hour or so long. Live streaming on-line. Here's the stream, they're having difficulty getting me connected. I'm on now.

1:09: We're back from the lunch break. (I didn't eat lunch. I gabbed on MPR.) Now, Senator Grassley is questioning Sotomayor about property rights, specifically whether Kelo was correctly decided. Sotomayor pays obeisance to property rights, then explains the majority's reasoning in Kelo and her devotion to stare decisis. We don't get an answer to the question whether she'd have voted with the dissenters in Kelo, but I get the cue that she would not.

1:12: Another heckler. Hard to understand what he's yelling, but I think I hear the word "babies" and presume it's another anti-abortion activist.

2:11: Sotomayor disentangles herself from Obama's line about "heart":
[W]hile adherence to legal precedent and rules of statutory or constitutional construction will dispose of 95 percent of the cases that come before a court... what matters on the Supreme Court is those 5 percent of cases that are truly difficult. In those cases, adherence to precedent and rules of construction and interpretation will only get you through the 25th mile of the marathon. That last mile can only be determined on the basis of one's deepest values, one's core concerns, one's broader perspectives on how the world works, and the depth and breadth of one's empathy.
Sotomayor sticks to her strategy of declaring fidelity to the law. None of this "heart" business for her.

2:20: Jon Kyl is parsing the "Wise Latina" speech, looking at the whole context. She quoted lawprof Judith Resnik's statement that there is no "objective stance" and lawprof Martha Minow's statement that "no neutrality." Kyl says "That sounds to me like relativism." Then she works toward saying that judges from more diverse backgrounds will "make a difference." And "you seem to be celebrating this," not saying, as you said today to Sessions that you were looking to identify it so that you overcome it. She doesn't say anything new or piercing in response, even when Kyl repeats his challenge. I think the truth is that she has backed off from her statement and minimized it as fluff, so, yeah, the inconsistency is there. She's admitted it. What more can she do?

3:06: "We could do this all day long!" Chuck Schumer exclaims in the middle of describing case after case in which Sonia Sotomayor decided against the sympathetic party.

3:26: Lindsey Graham asks her to define and say whether she is: 1. a Legal Realist, 2. a strict constructionist, 3. an originalist. She's none of those things. "What is the best/most legitimate way for a society to change?" Is it by the action of judges? Graham asks this abstract question and quickly focuses on abortion rights. He doesn't really extract an answer from her here.

3:32: Graham blurts out "I like you" and segues into reading a bunch of quotes about her temperament (e.g., she's a "bully"). She says she "asks tough questions at oral argument." Does she have a temperament problem? Ugh! What can she say?! She says she doesn't. Graham drifts on to what he calls her "wise Latino" [sic] remark. Blah blah.

3:40: Graham says that if he'd said he could make better decisions because he's a Caucasian man, the explanation that he was trying to inspire some people, it would not save his career from destruction. Now, he likes the answer that some people deserve a second chance when they misspeak.

3:43: Graham asks what September 11, 2001 meant to her, then inquires whether she believes their are people "out there plotting our destruction." She answers yes. Graham wants to know if, under that circumstance, whether, under the law of war, we can hold members of the enemy force detainees indefinitely. She doesn't have an answer, and he wants her to think about it.

6:20: I had to run off before I could say anything about the last part of Graham's questioning, but it was particularly interesting. He wanted to know about her role on the board of the Puerto Rican Defense Fund, which notably equated the denial of government funding for abortion to slavery. Sotomayor's response was to try to distance herself from the Fund's litigation in particular cases. She was a board member, you see. Sotomayor evaded a lot of things today, didn't she? But I've got to give her credit for consistency here. She has a strategy to disengage from every single controversial thing she's ever been associated with. She's a good little modest judge just like John Roberts, isn't she?

July 13, 2009

"8 Best Moments from Sonia's Hearing."

With video clips. A highlight:

Apparently Franken didn’t read Victor Navasky’s plea in the July 10 New York Times. Navasky begged Franken to remain funny, despite the responsibilities of his new post. That humorless piece was better than Franken’s performance today.

"Officers, please remove whoever is causing the disturbance."

It was Norma McCorvey!

Lake Mendota, today.

We sat on the terrace (with ice cream cones):


We did not go swimming:


David Axelrod looks like Mr. Whipple.

From reader K. Hill.

Is there a political message here?

"I've liked women but I've never felt I wanted to give up my life completely. I've never wanted to go to bed with anybody."

"My life" is the life of a celibate priest, and the speaker is Cardinal Keith O'Brien.
"I am father of this family in the diocese, the family who were entrusted to me 24 years ago. I think I would be neglecting one or other family if I had my own blood family."
Is it the case that anyone who has sex — or who has a family — has less to devote to his work?

"This post does a great job of parodying Althouse’s own obsession with irrelevant minutae."

"... That *is* what it’s doing, isn’t it?"

Ha ha ha. That's the 8:57 comment (from Bitchphd) on this obsessive and humorless post about the Obama-Sarkozy ass-gawk and my description of it.

IN THE COMMENTS: Rick Lee says:
Well... I AM an expert in photography and this guy's analysis is stupid. You can see from the feet position of Obama and the girl that Obama is standing exactly beside the ass in question because they are on steps.

Live-blogging the Sotomayor confirmation hearings.

8:22 Central Time: I'm setting up the post. The hearings start at the top of the hour. You can watch on-line at C-SPAN. I'll be watching, with a DVR assist to get quotes right, and I'll also be doing some radio commentary, at the breaks, on Minnesota Public Radio.

8:48: After reading some of the comments here, I want to say that, of course, I think that Sotomayor will be confirmed. So that won't be the focus of my commentary. There are plenty of genuinely relevant, important things to observe. You'll see!

9:02: The Senators all get to make — which means read — 10 minute statements. Patrick Leahy, is now reading Sotomayor's biography to us. Leahy has a raspy, annoying voice, and he stumbles over words, saying, for example, "pie partisan."

9:11: Leahy acts like it's a special problem that Sotomayor was attacked before Obama picked her. But that's the very best time to make the argument about possible nominees. It might influence the selection. Once the selection is made, it is extremely difficult to defeat it.

9:14: Senator Sessions stresses impartiality and adherence to the law. "Our legal system is based on a firm belief in an ordered universe, an objective truth... Down the other path lies a Brave New World where words have no true meaning.... In this world, a judge is free to push his or her political or social agenda." "An ordered universe" comes close to grounding law in religion, but doesn't quite go there. Atheists can believe in "objective truth" too. Sessions is making a nice and clear statement of what really should be the GOP theme in these hearings. Law is not ideology or politics, and relativism undermines the rule of law.

9:36: Orrin Hatch reminds us of what Obama, as a Senator, said against Janice Rogers Brown. Turnabout is fair play. [Here's the text of Senator Obama's anti-Brown speech.]

9:49: Dianne Feinstein does not think judges are merely umpires (as John Roberts notably asserted at his confirmation hearings). Personal background informs decisionmaking — properly and inevitably.

10:00: Russ Feingold wants us to be wary of the term "judicial activism." It really is used to say, essentially, a decision I don't like.

10:22: Chuck Schumer is carrying a lot of weight, making the argument that the Republicans obviously are planning to demand that Sotomayor make for herself. He's laying out details that show Sotomayor has been impartial, that the outcomes in her cases do not reveal favoritism to certain times of litigants and antipathy toward others. She really has been an umpire, unlike Chief Justice Roberts who said he was an umpire, but check out the outcomes in his cases.

10:26: Lindsey Graham says that no Republican President would have picked her. Miguel Estrada would be the choice if the idea were to pick the first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice. But this isn't about ethnicity. It's about liberal and conservative, he says. He tells her outright, she'll be confirmed. That is, "unless you have a complete meltdown" — which she won't.

12:11: They're on lunch break now. I did 10 minutes of analysis of Minnesota Public Radio. And there were a few more Senators doing their opening speeches that I haven't said anything about. It's getting a little repetitive. Kind of a drag to have to go after so many others, but nothing is forcing the Senators to have this terribly clunky approach to opening the hearings. On the up side, it will be interesting to hear a little speech from Senator Al Franken. My guess is that — in an effort to establish his senatorial gravitas — he will be terribly boring.

1:20: Specter said a lot of pretty substantive things, but, sorry, I was bored. And now: It's Al Franken!!!! Ha ha ha! I'm laughing, because he's a comedian, but he's not saying anything funny.

1:31: A heckler! Hey, Franken is a comedian! He should have some snappy comebacks!

1:33: "Judge Soh-toh-my-AIR."

1:34: Franken keeps talking about himself. I just took the oath of office... I may not be a lawyer... blah blah blah.

1:35: Man, Franken has quickly adapted to the Senate. He's doing pompous and leaden as if he'd been lumbering along senatorially for decades.

1:41: Chuck Schumer is now sitting at the table next to Sotomayor. He's being the Senator from New York, introducing the nominee from New York.

2:06: Sotomayor stood to take the oath, saying "I. do." in a way that tracked the odd cadence used by Senator Leahy. in administering it. She then gave a plain and straightforward statement about her simple judicial philosophy: following the law as written. She presented empathy and her personal background something that might enhance her understanding of the facts. In the end, the only task is to say what the law is and apply the law to the facts. There's nothing for the conservatives to attack in that (unless they say they don't believe her, which isn't nice). She said what they say they wanted to hear. And this — not any complicated explanations about how empathy is a component of interpretation — is really the easiest and best way to appeal to Americans. Good job.

"Boxing legend Arturo Gatti's sexy stripper-wife choked the life out of him with her purse strap while he slept in a swanky Brazilian resort..."

So say the cops.
The stunner's eyes were hidden by giant designer sunglasses as she walked to a police cruiser in low-rise blue jeans and a clingy white top that showed off the toned physique that first caught Gatti's eye.

The busty bombshell's purse was found stained with blood in their rented apartment at the luxurious Dorisol Resort in the turquoise-water paradise town of Porto de Galinhas....

Authorities detained the tight-bodied beauty early yesterday because of contradictions in her story when she was first questioned...
The stunner... the busty bombshell... the tight-bodied beauty... Soon to be: the lovely lifer, the comely convict, etc. etc.

She's pretty, but, apparently, she murdered a man... with a purse strap...

UPDATE: The death is ruled a suicide, on the theory that it "would have been impossible for her to suspend and hang a man of that size."

The NYT asks "7 legal experts to pose the questions they would like to hear [Sonia Sotomayor] answer."

There are: Stanford lawprof Kathleen M. Sullivan (who asks about the use of federalism to achieve progressive ends and the Supreme Court's response to the detainees), former secretary of homeland security Michael Chertoff (who asks about the influence of evidence, foreign law, and personal sympathy on judicial decisions), Yale lawprof Stephen L. Carter (who focuses on the limitations of the confirmation hearings, asks for the naming of a favorite Supreme Court Justice, and wonders whether Sotomayor will do something about the way these Supreme Court Justices today snipe at each other), former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales (who asks whether "there is a difference between doing justice and applying the law" and whether Justices should take into account the way the United States is perceived around the world and what the standard is for overruling precedent), NYU lawprof Ronald Dworkin (who goads Sotomayor into admitting that judges can't decide cases by just "applying the law" and that it's okay for for government to have race-based policies that "reduce racial inequality and tension"), author James MacGregor Burns (who asks if Sotomayor believes in the notion of a living Constitution and whether the Constitution should be changed to abolish the power of judicial review and to require Justices to retire at age 70)... and me, your humble lawprof blogger (asking whether Sotomayor meant that "wise Latina" remark to be taken seriously, whether the Supreme Court will be better with a diverse array of Justices, and whether we ought to take note of the "extreme overrepresentation" of Catholics on the Court).

"Honestly, I think all of it just broke her heart," said Sarah Palin's hairdresser, Jessica Steele...

... who revealed to the NYT that Palin had a hair-thinning emergency.

Much more about Sarah's troubles at the link.

July 12, 2009

Why the NYT "Most Emailed" list should really be titled "Most Emailed by the Least Savvy People."

In the comments on another post today, John Althouse Cohen makes a great point:
The NYT has no way of knowing which articles are most emailed.
Jason (the commenter) thinks John doesn't get it:
If they have an "email this article" link they do. I see many publications keeping track of stories this way.
That was John's point:
No, that button keeps track of how many people use that button. I email articles on a regular basis and never use that button. I don't understand why anyone would use it. The NYT has no way of knowing when I send a NYT URL to someone.
MayBee snarks:
I hope Althouse updates her post to include this vital information.
John stands his ground:
Yes, the NYT gives a false picture of what it knows about how popular its pieces are. The NYT perceives its internal emailing system as the be-all-and-end-all of popularity. But they're only detecting the behavior of the tiny group of people who are more comfortable with the NYT's convoluted messaging system than with the more straightforward practice of sending a URL. There are all sorts of ways this could be demographically skewed; it probably leaves out more young (maybe liberal) readers. I actually think that's important. Maybe not as important as the very serious matter of what Brooks was talking about in his comments about his thigh, so I don't know if it's worthy of an update in the post, but I think it's worth pointing out in the comments section.
Well, I think its worthiness exceeds post updating and warrants a new post!

I suddenly realize that I have no interest in what the dorks who use the "email" button think somebody they know should read. I'm also not surprised anymore that the Brooks column did so well. Indeed, I'd been wondering for a long time why Brooks columns are always ranking so high on that list. Now, I understand that Brooks and "email" button-pushers are on the same wavelength — and it is not a cool place to be.

"She is dedicated to helping the poor, not to seducing world leaders. This is the wrong image of my daughter."

So said Eduardo Tavares, father of Mayara Rodrigues Tavares, the 17-year-old woman famously apparently ogled by Presidents Obama and Sarkozy.
Her mom added, "She is really skinny and only ever wears pants. Mayara is timid and ashamed of her body. This was the first time in her life that she wore a dress, and it was borrowed from a friend in the shantytown because she doesn't own one."

The high school sophomore, who hails from one of Rio de Janeiro's slums known as favelas, had been picked by UNICEF to join the counterpart Junior 8 forum of teenagers because she stood out as a community volunteer. She shares a single room with her parents and two younger brothers and can't afford the bus fare to attend a good high school.

"Why are they looking at her like that? This is a girl who is articulate and intelligent and just wants to do the right thing," the father said. "Instead, they are forcing her into a negative light."

Robot colossus.

In Japan.

Why Did David Brooks sit through an entire dinner with some Republican Senator's hand groping his (Brooks's) inner thigh?

I think the reason Brooks put up with the senatorial hand for so long is that he had decided to see if he could get the goods on the Senator. He was waiting for more, something distinct and reportable. A whispered proposition, perhaps. What a scoop it would be if that hand would scoop his scrotal sac! But this impromptu sting required Brooks to give zero encouragement, and the Senator was (presumably) waiting for a signal. Brooks also failed to nudge the amorous gentleman aside, in the obvious, ordinary way, and therefore, insanely, the 2 men spent the dinner in the silly hand-on-inner-thigh position. What rich comedy!

So Brooks didn't get his scoop, but he did flutter back to his NYT perch and peck out a column about dignity that a lot of Times readers seemed to love. (It topped the "most emailed" list for a while.) He expatiated about the good old days when men like George Washington displayed their thighs in tight silk knickers... I mean displayed high standards of dignity. But there is still hope, he tells us:
[I]t’s not right to end on a note of cultural pessimism because there is the fact of President Obama. Whatever policy differences people may have with him, we can all agree that he exemplifies reticence, dispassion and the other traits associated with dignity. The cultural effects of his presidency are not yet clear, but they may surpass his policy impact. He may revitalize the concept of dignity for a new generation and embody a new set of rules for self-mastery.
Yes, yes, there is the fact of President Obama. The fact of President Obama stirs hope in our loins. That man is the very embodiment of dignity and —d'oh! — there he is exemplifying looking at a girl's ass!

I have "Saturday Night Live" sketch idea but it can't be used...

... because regular TV-watching type people don't care enough about David Brooks. But the idea is to combine 2 things:

1. David Brooks's story about how one time he sat through some dinner and all the while endured the hand of a Republican Senator on his inner thigh.

2. Bruno, the Sacha Baron Cohen character, who is always crossing lines to see what kind of a reaction he can get out of various uptight/homophobic/politically correct Americans.

Bruno escalates the outrage until the prank target finally rejects him, and what's so funny — when it's funny — is how long it takes for some people make him stop, making Brooks an ideal target.


Ah! Suddenly, I get it. I see what Brooks was doing. The theory that Brooks doesn't know how to disengage from a grope or that he's too polite is absurd. But this needs a second post, with its own headline. Hang on a sec.