July 25, 2009

Buckets of flowers.



Something about the events of this last week has me thinking again...

... about this old Bob Dylan poem, that I thought about a lot, circa 1965:
first of all two people get
together an' they want their doors
enlarged. second of all, more
people see what's happenin' an'
come t' help with the door
enlargement. the ones that arrive
however have nothin' more than
"let's get these doors enlarged"
t' say t' the ones who were
there in the first place. it follows then that
the whole thing revolves around
nothing but this door enlargement idea.
third of all, there's a group now existin'
an' the only thing that keeps them friends
is that they all want the doors enlarged.
obviously, the doors're then enlarged
fourth of all,
after this enlargement
the group has t' find
something else t' keep
them together or
else the door enlargement
will prove t' be
From the back cover of "Another Side of Bob Dylan."

Stripes: yes. Men in shorts: no.


And the baby agrees with me.

Now, to continue with my idiosyncratic review of fashion at the Farmers Market in Madison this morning:

1. Men in Shorts is a complex subject, and some men do better than others:


Note that the 2 men in shorts are both wearing black socks, yet only one is making a bad mistake. The other one is doing it right. Plus, carrying a kid on your shoulders is a good look for a nonsleazy guy.

2. Here are 2 women dressed completely differently, and both, I think, are completely charming:


3. I would also like to express my strong approval of this latter-day hippie look, heavy on the day-glo pink — and, in the case of "Cher," day-glo green:



And I'm giving hippie boy a pass on those knickers.

A purple infusion.


The Gates story may enlarge...

... in a direction other than the one Gates favors.

Let's think about the larger meaning of Henry Louis Gates's Larger Meaning Doctrine.

So Henry Louis Gates accepts Barack Obama's invitation to have a beer at the White House with Sgt. James Crowley:
It was very kind of the President to phone me today. Vernon Jordan is absolutely correct: my unfortunate experience will only have a larger meaning if we can all use this to diminish racial profiling and to enhance fairness and equity in the criminal justice system for poor people and for people of color.

And to that end, I look forward to studying the history of racial profiling in a new documentary for PBS....

If my experience leads to the lessening of the occurrence of racial profiling, then I would find that enormously gratifying. Because, in the end, this is not about me at all; it is about the creation of a society in which 'equal justice before law' is a lived reality.
Now, let's think about this. What if everyone followed this Larger Meaning Doctrine? Something happens to an individual, and he could drop it or apologize or look into the particular details of the case, but instead he insists that his experience should represent some big problem in the world that people ought to be concerned about, that his case should be the jumping off point for something much more general, so that his problem isn't wasted but yields Larger Meaning for us all. Imagine how annoying that would be! And now think about how you'd react if these Larger Meaning adherents also topped off their demands by declaring "this is not about me."

I, for one, would probably freak out, cause a scene, prompt a neighbor to call the cops, get arrested for disorderly conduct, and... well, this is not about me but my unfortunate experience will only have a larger meaning if we can all use this to diminish the baneful effects of the Larger Meaning Doctrine.

Reason for the late start to blogging this morning.


The Farmers Market. $45 spent on perhaps 12 items, including 2 different tomato purchases. And cheese curds, which we are now squeaking our way through at a State Street café, along with a second dose of coffee... and today's first dose of WiFi.

July 24, 2009

At the Knoxville Wall Café...



...go ahead and scream.


East coast, west coast, tomato, North Carolina.

Rush Limbaugh: "Ann Althouse makes a great point."


ADDED: Audio clip linked here.

Obama talks to us about talking to Sgt. Crowley.

Says there was some discussion of having a beer at the White House with him and Prof. Gates and how he wants this to be "a teachable moment" (apparently limited to instruction on racial problems in policing and not extending to Presidents opining on incidents they don't know the facts about or the way people with powerful friends want/get special treatment).

After fleeing the crime scene naked on a bicycle...

... this is how you end up "posing" for the police evidence photo. There's no male frontal nudity at that link, but there is some choice male backal nudity.


Wireless electricity. Not just Tesla's dream anymore.

Still life with Wonder Woman.

Still life with Wonder Woman

(In a shop window in Knoxville.)

Knoxville caryatids.

Knoxville caryatids

"The parents of an 8-year-old girl sexually assaulted by four boys are blaming their daughter for the attack, according to police."

How is this possible? Cultural difference.

"What happened to Obamacare? Rhetoric met reality."

"[Y]ou can't fake it in legislation. Once you commit your fantasies to words and numbers, the Congressional Budget Office comes along and declares that the emperor has no clothes. President Obama premised the need for reform on the claim that medical costs are destroying the economy. True. But now we learn -- surprise! -- that universal coverage increases costs. The congressional Democrats' health-care plans, says the CBO, increase costs on the order of $1 trillion plus."

This magazine cover freaked me out.


Each element of it freaked me out more than the next. There's the big debate about whether it's okay for you not to get your child vaccinated because of the way other people's children are taking responsibility for keeping diseases out of the way of your precious bundle of purity. There are those bento box lunches. Breast milk and Mongolia. "How touch can help you and your child with anger."

And then there's that cover baby with the giant forehead. Photoshopped? But why? To convey braininess? Braininess in a baby who is looking to you for answers... questioning you... do you know enough about vaccination dangers, elite food packaging, breast milk in those distant places where people must be so wise and pure, and touch, come on, touch me — how?! — touch me or I might become enraged in ways that you — you with your tiny brain — cannot possibly imagine.

IN THE COMMENTS: rhhardin said:
Each element of it freaked me out more than the next.

That's a favorite, up there with "fills a much needed gap."

LOL. You got me there.

And Chip Ahoy says he's freaked out too:

"The Buddha without the Boo."

Crack Emcee recognized something...

What's missing from this NYT article about Henry Louis Gates?

The article starts out with genuinely sympathetic stories about another black man who was arrested twice, then ties it to the Gates story. "[B]lacks and others said that what happened to Professor Gates was a common, if unacknowledged, reality for many people of color." Now, that quote bothers me, because it assumes that "what happened to Professor Gates" is the same as the "common, if unacknowledged, reality for many people of color." But that's not my question about this article.

I have a question about this:
The police and Professor Gates offered differing accounts of what happened after officers arrived. The police said Professor Gates initially refused to show identification and repeatedly shouted at officers. Professor Gates said that he had shown photo identification to Sergeant Crowley but that the sergeant had not appeared to believe that he lived there.
There's a crucial, missing fact that the journalists, Susan Saulny and Robbie Brown, don't seem to have any interest in. What I want to know — and I haven't seen it mentioned in other articles — is whether Gates's photo ID had the address of the house on it. Was it his University ID? My UW ID doesn't have my home address on it. I have read elsewhere, not in this article, that Gates rented the house. Perhaps he had a driver's license with a different address of his on it.

If the ID did not show the address of the house that had been broken into, then Crowley's continuing investigation into whether Gates really lived there was perfectly reasonable. (Or do you — did Gates? — think that affiliation with Harvard University should end the matter?) Moreover, Gates's belligerence and presentation of himself as a person too important to be questioned should have heightened Crowley's suspicion that Gates didn't live there. While a person who really lived in the house might get outraged, many — I think most — would respect the need to make sure that there was no crime in progress and quickly find something in the house — such as an addressed envelope — that connected the name to the address.

A person who didn't belong in the house would not have that option and would be forced to pursue a different strategy, and protesting the investigation might be that strategy. The police officer is obviously not going to accept shouted assertions that this is my house and questioning of his authority. He shouldn't!

ADDED: In this radio interview, Crowley — at around 6:30 — says that he was shown only a Harvard ID, which had no no address and that an ID with an address "would have been helpful." Thanks to commenter Mike for pointing me there. Bearbee, the commenter, points me to Gates's interview with his daughter, in which Gates says:
... I got out my Harvard ID and my Massachusetts driver’s license which includes my address and I handed them to him.
So there is a real factual dispute here. (Also: My lawyer's eye catches the phrase "my address" and makes me want to ask the follow up: "By 'my address,' do you mean the address of the house Crowley was questioning you about?")

By the way, in the linked interview, Gates goes on to say:
So he’s looking at my ID, he asked me another question, which I refused to answer. And I said I want your name and your badge number because I want to file a complaint because of the way he had treated me at the front door. He didn’t say, ‘Excuse me, sir, is there a disturbance here, is this your house?’—he demanded that I step out on the porch, and I don’t think he would have done that if I was a white.
Crowley tells us the question was: "Is there anybody in the home with you?" (at 4:40 in the radio interview). It was asked, Crowley says, because of his concern that the man he was talking to was not one of the persons seen breaking into the house. Now, it seems that Gates knew that the front door had been tampered with before he arrived home, so why wasn't Gates worried about whether there was someone somewhere in the house? Shouldn't Gates have taken the opportunity to tell the police that when he arrived home, he discovered evidence of a break-in? Why didn't he seek Crowley's help with that?

Crowley says that Gates's "tone" was "peculiar." And I'm wondering why the question "Is there anybody in the home with you?" would have upset him so much. It could have been just that it was an invasion of his privacy, but think about this along with the fact that Gates didn't seem to want to report the damage to his door that made him need to force it open when he got home. Did Gates already somehow know who had broken the door while he was away, so that he wanted to protect that person? Was that person in the house, such that the question "Is there anybody in the home with you?" felt threatening to Gates?

July 23, 2009

At the Sunglass Cloud Café...


... accumuluslate your thoughts.

Is it time for a "national conversation" about class?

"Perhaps, as we view this confrontation between an Harvard Prof who’s a friend of the President and a Cambridge cop, we can also have a national conversation about class."

Yes, a great and unprecedented conversation....

The MacBook Air "hinge defect."

Hey, this is exactly what happened to mine!

That "racist" cop is a real person, Sgt. James Crowley, and he's been called a racist before.

The Boston Herald reports:
The Cambridge cop prominent Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. claims is a racist gave a dying Reggie Lewis mouth-to-mouth resuscitation in a desperate bid to save the Celtics superstar’s life 16 years ago Monday.

“I wasn’t working on Reggie Lewis the basketball star. I wasn’t working on a black man. I was working on another human being,” Sgt. James Crowley, in an exclusive interview with the Herald, said of the forward’s fatal heart attack July 27, 1993, at age 27 during an off-season practice at Brandeis University, where Crowley was a campus police officer.

It’s a date Crowley still can recite by rote — and he still recalls the pain he suffered when people back then questioned whether he had done enough to save the black athlete.

“Some people were saying ‘There’s the guy who killed Reggie Lewis’ afterward. I was broken-hearted. I cried for many nights,” he said.

Crowley, 42, said he’s not a racist, despite how some have cast his actions in the Gates case. “Those who know me know I’m not,” he said....

Though he harbors no “ill feelings toward the professor,” a calm, resolute Crowley said no mea culpa will be forthcoming.

“I just have nothing to apologize for,” he said. “It will never happen.”
And The Smoking Gun has the police report, so Crowley's version of the incident is easily read. (It's detailed and well written.)

And now we know the name of the woman who called the police. I suppose her life will be ruined now, as she'll be portrayed as a racist. Lesson learned: If you think you're witnessing a crime, mind your own business. Somewhere, the new Kitty Genovese walks into the alleyway.

ADDED: Wow! Matt Yglesias abysmally misreads the Boston Herald article:
Now we see the Officer Crowley edition of the saga, as he explains that he once tried to save the life of a black man, so he must not be a racist.
Come on, Matt! Crowley was talking about how he was accused of racism for not doing enough to save that man. Incredible!

"The guy forgot his keys, jimmied his way to get into the house... if I was trying to jigger into..."

I've already written about what Obama said about racism, Skip Gates, and the "stupidity" of the police. You can find the context of the issue there, including the whole text of Obama's remarks. This post is solely about the words "jimmied" and "jigger," which appear like this:
What's been reported though is that the guy forgot his keys, jimmied his way to get into the house. There was a report called in to the police station that there might be a burglary taking place. So far, so good, right? I mean, if I was trying to jigger into -- well, I guess this is my house now, so...(LAUGHTER)... it probably wouldn't happen. But let's say my old house in Chicago. (LAUGHTER)

Here, I'd get shot. (LAUGHTER)
(Okay, one additional issue: What blithe disrespect for the Secret Service to say he'd get shot! Okay, one more: The President should not make jokes about getting shot.)

Now, jimmy is the right word for what Obama was talking about. Dictionary definition:
to force open with or as if with a jimmy
"Jimmied the door" would be more precise than "jimmied his way," but "jimmy" is the j-word for the job.

Here's the dictionary on "jigger" (used as a verb):
intransitive verb
: to jerk up and down

transitive verb
: to alter or rearrange especially by manipulating <jigger an election district>
Obama's use of the word is a little off. I think "jigger into" is unidiomatic in a way that makes it hard to figure out if it's supposed to have the transitive or the intransitive meaning. But maybe he's picturing jerking up and down or manipulating. Whatever. It's not particularly wrong, but it's interesting that he shifted from "jimmy" to "jigger." If a white person made that shift in the context of this story, people might suspect racism (because of the word it rhymes with).

But I don't think he was drawn to the word "jigger." I think he was trying to get away from the word "jimmy."

Whatever you do, don't make them think of Jimmy!


Yikes! Who's that staring at him from the portrait in the hallway?

Bidenism of the Day.

"I cannot believe that a Frenchman visiting Kiev went back home and told his colleagues he discovered something and didn't say he discovered the most beautiful women in the world. That's my observation."

A murderer's tale.

"A career criminal busted for the gruesome murder of a Long Island motivational speaker offered a laughable confession: The suicidal victim begged to be killed. Kenneth Minor, 36, put forth the bizarre defense as cops hunted Wednesday for other suspects in the gruesome murder of Jeffrey Locker, found stabbed and strangled in his car near an East Harlem housing project.... [I]n the face of damning evidence tying him to the slaying, Minor [said] Locker was going broke and hired Minor to snuff him. '[Minor] made statements to the effect that the victim wanted himself killed, actually that he was looking for someone to help him die to collect insurance money,' Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said."

Key word: gruesome.

"Man cave."

It's the July 23, 2009 Urban Word of the Day. Here's definition #1, with 831 up, 51 down votes:
A room, space, corner or area of a dwelling that is specifically reserved for a male person to be in a solitary condition, away from the rest of the household in order to work, play, involve himself in certain hobbies, activities without interuption. This area is usually decorated by the male that uses it without interferance from any female influence.
Definition #2 is similar. But watch out for Definitions #3 and 4, which have been strongly disapproved of by Urban Dictionary voters.

So do you have a man cave? Tell us about it. And I mean that in the Definition #1/2 sense. I know you've got one in the Definitions #3/4 sense, and you probably haven't got anything entertaining to say about it (unless you are Titus).

IN THE COMMENTS: Howard said:
Another depressing example of the continued sissification of America. Giving a special cute name to normal quiet behavior and/or a garage screams of estrogen.
If you have a garage band in that garage, you can call it Screams of Estrogen. And write a song called "Normal Quiet Behavior."

"We cannot but regard Mrs. Clinton as a funny lady as she likes to utter such rhetoric, unaware of the elementary etiquette..."

"... in the international community. Sometimes she looks like a primary schoolgirl and sometimes a pensioner going shopping."

North Korea strikes back.

Miss Poontney Spadafroont.

And more.

ADDED: Jac (who's seen the gallery exhibit in person) notes that the NYT critic Holland Cutter says that Basil Wolverton's art "comes across as spectacularly misogynistic." Jac says:
Based on what I've seen, he was at least as cruel to men, and he chose male subjects more often than women... As long as we're going to look at the art through a politically correct lens, wouldn't a more straightforward criticism be that his cartoons are offensive to people with actual deformities?

Yeah, such as people with penis-like noses.


Directly to heaven.


Thanks for the intense joy you gave us — gave meHeinz Edelmann.

Never "let the inquisitive energy of mind go to sleep."

Never "stop questioning what appears to be obvious and definitive, always to defy the seemingly intact resources of common sense." Never "forget that there are questions that lie beyond the legitimate horizon of science and are nonetheless crucially important to the survival of humanity as we know it."

Leszek Kolakowski. RIP.

Look! Over there! It's Skip Gates!

"President Barack Obama came alive about 50 minutes into Wednesday night’s news conference – when somebody finally changed the subject.... [H]e suddenly re-engaged with a question that he’s spent much of his life mulling, race, in the form of the arrest of a black Harvard professor.... [H]e spent most of his hour just checking rhetorical boxes, with language so poll-tested and focus-grouped, it was bleached of life... [H]e rarely seemed deeply emotionally engaged with the human facts of health care, and kept his remarks to a level of abstraction that recalled the old knock on Obama the candidate -- too aloof, too detached...."

But when the subject turned, at long last, to race, "Obama produced a bluntness and lively engagement that had been absent for most of the preceding hour." From the transcript (with my boldfacing):
Well, I should say at the outset that Skip Gates is a friend, so I may be a little biased here. I don't know all the facts. What's been reported though is that the guy forgot his keys, jimmied his way to get into the house. There was a report called in to the police station that there might be a burglary taking place. So far, so good, right? I mean, if I was trying to jigger into -- well, I guess this is my house now, so...(LAUGHTER)... it probably wouldn't happen. But let's say my old house in Chicago. (LAUGHTER)

Here, I'd get shot. (LAUGHTER)

My understanding is, at that point, Professor Gates is already in his house. The police officer comes in. I'm sure there's some exchange of words. But my understanding is, is that Professor Gates then shows his I.D. to show that this is his house and, at that point, he gets arrested for disorderly conduct, charges which are later dropped.

Now, I don't know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played in that. But I think it's fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry; number two, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home; and, number three, what I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there's a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. That's just a fact.

As you know, Lynn, when I was in the state legislature in Illinois, we worked on a racial profiling bill because there was indisputable evidence that blacks and Hispanics were being stopped disproportionately. And that is a sign, an example of how, you know, race remains a factor in the society.

That doesn't lessen the incredible progress that has been made. I am standing here as testimony to the progress that's been made. And yet the fact of the matter is, is that, you know, this still haunts us.

And even when there are honest misunderstandings, the fact that blacks and Hispanics are picked up more frequently and often time for no cause casts suspicion even when there is good cause.

And that's why I think the more that we're working with local law enforcement to improve policing techniques so that we're eliminating potential bias, the safer everybody is going to be. All right? Thank you, everybody.
I had 3 responses to Obama's Gates statement. (I'm not counting the brief interlude when I thought I could get credit for coining the term "Gatesgate." I can't.)

1. On hearing the statement live: If you don't know the facts, why are you saying the police acted "stupidly"? The President's own words collapse on themselves. How dare he take sides? Gates has already signed a statement, along with the police, saying “This incident should not be viewed as one that demeans the character and reputation of Professor Gates or the character of the Cambridge Police Department,” and here is the President of the United States taking it upon himself to demean the character and reputation of the Cambridge Police Department and to (sort of) vouch for the Gates version on the story.

2. The morning after: It really was stupid for the police to arrest Gates, and it's a stupidity that stands apart from whether the police or the Gates version of the story is accurate. Considering who Gates is and where he was, he's a sympathetic character or, if you don't think he's fully sympathetic, he's certainly capable of playing this incident big, as in fact he did. Thus, it was stupid to give him this platform.

3. As I started writing this post: As he was speaking, I think, the President realized his words collapsed on themselves. He said he didn't know the facts, and yet he called the police stupid. To get out of that jam, he decided to veer into a riff about racism in general, asserting that "there's a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately." (I love the way he threw Latinos into that.) He celebrates what he sees as or hopes you see as his escape from the jam by asserting "That's just a fact." He didn't know the facts of the specific case, but hey, look over here, here's a fact: There is racism in this country, we all know that. He then tumbles toward the end of the hour with an acknowledgment of what he knows a lot of people will say — that he made it to the presidency, and, yeah, there's been "incredible progress" — and a reprise about racism — it haunts us — and reform, reform is important. He worked in the Illinois legislature. Let's improve policing. Let's make everybody safer. He's just trying to wrap things up and get out of there looking reasonably okay. "All right? Thank you, everybody."

July 22, 2009

"The President serves up a kind of combo platter tonight, a news conference and an address to the nation, as he continues his full-court press..."

Katie Couric dishes out an atrocious mixed metaphor.


I'll comment on that combo platter soon. I just caught the tail-end of my recording and need to go back to the beginning. Feel free to comment on the whole event here. I'll have more here soon.

ADDED: Here's the transcript. Sorry, I'm too tired to provide any commentary.

Here's the text of the health care bill.

The most spiritual squirrel story ever told.

"A squirrel was accustomed to eating from Bhagavan's own hands. It was customary of Bhagavan to feed the squirrel with nuts. One day when the squirrel came for his food, Bhagavan was occupied with reading or some other activity that He delayed in feeding it. The squirrel, perhaps angered by the delay, bit Bhagavan's finger. Amused, Bhagavan said that, as a punishment He was going to stop feeding it with His own hands. Saying so he left the nuts on the window sill asking it to fill its belly. The squirrel was virtually upset. It ran all over the body of Bhagavan as if to plead with Him seeking His forgiveness. Bhagavan, however was unmoved. This continued for two to three days. The squirrel was also obstinate enough not to eat until Bhagavan fed it. Ultimately Bhagavan gave in, feeding the squirrel with His own hands out of His immeasurable compassion."

And let that be a lesson to you!

"It is noon, Jan. 20, 2013. Sarah Palin raises her right hand to be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States."

"Palin had won a decisive victory over the incumbent, Barack Obama. The country was still trapped in economic rubble, and voters had tired of Obama's campaign slogan, 'I Inherited This.'"

At the Fuk War Café...

"Fuk War"

... it's stupid time.

Berea, Kentucky.

Things seen in Old Town, yesterday:

Berea, Kentucky

Berea, Kentucky

Berea, Kentucky

Berea, Kentucky

"It took them 40 attempts to work out the water displacement formula. The name WD-40 stands for..."

"... 'water displacement, formulation successful in 40th attempt.'"

This is the best example I've seen in a long time of why I read the obituaries. The dead person is John S. Barry, whom I'd never heard of. Now, I'd heard of — and, like everyone else — used WD-40, but I'd never thought about its origin. Did you know it was created for the space program?
Convair, a unit of General Dynamics, first used WD-40 to protect the outer skin of the Atlas missile from rust and corrosion. The product worked so well that employees sneaked WD-40 cans out of the plant to use at home. Norm Larsen, the Rocket Chemical technician who invented WD-40, soon came up with the idea of selling it to the general public.

WD-40 hit store shelves in San Diego in 1958. In 1961, employees came in on a Saturday to produce the first truckload shipment to meet disaster needs of victims of Hurricane Carla on the Gulf Coast. WD-40 was used to recondition flood-damaged vehicles.

Sales continued to increase, but it was the arrival of Mr. Barry as president and chief executive in 1969 that jolted the company to dominance in its unusual niche market. He immediately changed the name of Rocket Chemical to the WD-40 Company, on the indisputable theory that it did not make rockets.
Go read the whole thing, written by Douglas Martin. And keep reading the obituaries.

And tell us about your WD-40 stories.

"The movie ends with a poisonous jellyfish in an icy bathtub. Don’t ask."

Line in a Maureen Dowd column about the dangers of driving while telephoning that sent me straight to The Movie Spoiler because, in fact, I wanted to ask...

... oh... okay... wow...

Did anyone go to that movie?

"Mix wedges of tomatoes and peaches, add slivers of red onion, a few red-pepper flakes and cilantro. Dress with olive oil and lime or lemon juice."

101 recipes like that.

Let's make salads!

Breaking the President/Braking the President?

Do you know what's annoying about the health care issue?

The subject is insurance. People hate to talk about insurance.

Goodbye to the Blue Ridge Mountains.


And goodbye to that dreadful picture that's been holding the top position on this blog since 5 last evening.

On to a new morning in the beautiful city where we arrived at 1:30 a.m. — Madison, Wisconsin!

July 21, 2009

How was it possible for things ever to look like...

... this:

The Giving Tree...

... is a pathetic sadsack:
[Shel] Silverstein had a dark sensibility and a wicked sense of humor. Maybe he set out to write a bleak fable about kids who selfishly milk their elders for every drop they've got. Is it possible that he finished the manuscript, looked at it with satisfaction, and said to himself, Yep, that boy sure was a bastard?

"It's time to stand up with the President and fight back against this disastrous brand of old-style politics."

How did Jim DeMint get so much attention by saying "Waterloo"?

ADDED: From Salon's Joan Walsh:
I know Obama has a nearly impossible task, dealing with Blue Dog Democrats and crazy Republicans -- from Wild Bill Kristol, chickenhawk, telling the GOP to "go for the kill" and do whatever it takes to defeat Obama on healthcare, to Sen. Jim DeMint's similarly sinister prediction that if Republicans defeat Obama on healthcare "it will break him." GOP zealots are clearly more interested in killing or breaking President Obama -- politically, of course; I don't think they are assassins, personally -- than helping Americans get the healthcare they need. It's a little creepy, but once you've watched a crazy "birther" hector moderate Republican Mike Castle about Obama's birth certificate and other related delusions -- well, then nothing Republicans do can surprise you.
The Democrats have dumped a drastic, complicated health care bill on us and they are ramming it through before we can even figure it out. That's what matters, not the fact that the party out of power is squawking about it.

Was Henry Louis Gates Jr. the victim of race discrimination, persecuted by the police...

... or a "Don't you know who I am?" celebrity with a sense of entitlement, who wouldn't let a police officer perform his entirely just and appropriate duty?

UPDATE: Gates will not be charged:
The incident... “was regrettable and unfortunate,” said a statement released Tuesday by Professor Gates, the Cambridge police and the Middlesex County district attorney’s office.

“This incident should not be viewed as one that demeans the character and reputation of Professor Gates or the character of the Cambridge Police Department,” the statement said. “All parties agree that this is a just resolution to an unfortunate set of circumstances.”...

Professor Gates’s front door was stuck shut, and his taxi driver helped the professor pry it open. According to the police report, a woman called to report two black men on the porch of the home trying to wedge the door open.

Police and Professor Gates offered differing accounts of what happened when officers arrived. According to Professor Ogletree, Professor Gates said he showed the responding officer, Sgt. James Crowley, photo identification, but the sergeant did not believe Professor Gates lived at the home. Frustrated, Professor Gates asked for Sergeant Crowley’s name and badge number, which he refused to give. Professor Gates was arrested on his front porch, where several other officers were standing.

The police said Professor Gates refused to show identification. When told that Sergeant Crowley was investigating a robbery, the police said, Professor Gates yelled, “Why because I’m a black man in America?” and accused the sergeant of racism. The police report said Professor Gates followed the officer outside, yelled at him and was arrested for disorderly conduct.

"You know, I have to say that I am not familiar with the provision you are talking about."

Obama answering the question: "Will people be able to keep their insurance and will insurers be able to write new policies even though H.R. 3200 is passed?"

Is he a fool or is he lying?

I'm leaning toward lying because of the way his answer emphasizes keeping insurance — which (I think) the bill permits — and avoids talking about writing new policies — which (I think) it forbids.

At the Stag Beetle Café...

Stag Beetle

... we like it when you come in alone. Why not meet somebody? Or creep about in your solitary way, you dorcus?


Photo taken last night on the campus of Berea College, where the young people of Appalachia receive free tuition and are required to do work, which, historically, included making the bricks upon which crawls the hideous insect.


Word suggested, just now, by me, upon reading the draft of an email that contained the world "goofballery." Google turns up nothing on a search for "goofballsiness," whereas there are close to 3,000 hits on "goofballery." But, clearly, "goofballsiness" is the better word. Please, everyone. Start using the useful word "goofballsiness." And remember: Althouse coined it.

"Satan is content in letting us profess Christianity."

"As long as we don't practice it."

Satan is content....

Canah Chapel, Freewill Baptist Church, is in Erwin, Tennessee.

But we weren't there either to profess or practice Christianity. We went here...

A McDonalds in Erwin, Tennessee

... to pee, drink coffee, and access the internet. Satan let us do all that, but we don't know whether or not he was content. I understand why Satan — if he existed — would be happy to see folks professing but not practicing Christianity. I think he wouldn't care one way or the other about urination, but that he'd be pleased to see us drinking coffee, even as I think God gave us coffee in the hope that, energized, we'd turn to the good.

As for the internet, I'd say it depends on which websites you go to, and the subtle preferences of God and Satan are unknowable to us, but perhaps they are both keeping track of the entire history of all of our website visits and that we'll be called to account in the end.

But it was not the golden arches anymore than the cross that got us to take that exit. It was the sign for the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site. But then another sign said it was 31 miles away, and Satan made us go to McDonald's instead. This morning — the morning after — I sorrowfully regret not making the pilgrimage to the dishonored President's place of honor.

"Want to go back?" Meade says. No, no, we've gone too far ahead. We got all the way to Berea, Kentucky last night, where we walked around until night fell...


An earth-sized hole in Jupiter...

... discovered by an amateur, Anthony Wesley, a 44-year-old Australian, who wrote on line:
I came back to the scope at about 12:40am I noticed a dark spot rotating into view in Jupiters south polar region started to get curious. When first seen close to the limb (and in poor conditions) it was only a vaguely dark spot, I thought likely to be just a normal dark polar storm. However as it rotated further into view, and the conditions improved I suddenly realised that it wasn’t just dark, it was black in all channels, meaning it was truly a black spot....

It took another 15 minutes to really believe that I was seeing something new - I’d imaged that exact region only 2 days earlier and checking back to that image showed no sign of any anomalous black spot.

Now I was caught between a rock and a hard place - I wanted to keep imaging but also I was aware of the importance of alerting others to this possible new event. Could it actually be an impact mark on Jupiter? I had no real idea, and the odds on that happening were so small as to be laughable, but I was really struggling to see any other possibility given the location of the mark. If it really was an impact mark then I had to start telling people, and quickly....

Bloggers delighted over Obama's appreciation of their willingness to write propaganda for him.

Good little bloggers!

Just a phone call is enough. He didn't even have to feed them lunch!

"Nice work with the hug dodge."

Obama to Bono.

David Brooks: "Liberal Suicide March."

Okay! I've been mocking David Brooks lately, and, frankly, I haven't even read this column yet, but I've got to get in on this "Liberal Suicide March" action. Link!
They brought in pollsters to their party conferences to persuade their members that the country was fervently behind them. They were supported by their interest groups and cheered on by their activists and the partisan press. They spent federal money in an effort to buy support but ended up disgusting the country instead.
Ah! Must begin by trashing the GOP. See, the Repubs have already done a suicide march. Now, it's time for the Dems to go:
It’s not that interesting to watch the Democrats lose touch with America.
It's all about interesting. The question is: Does the news amuse me?
That’s because the plotline is exactly the same.
Suicide is so last year.
The party is led by insular liberals from big cities and the coasts, who neither understand nor sympathize with moderates. They have their own cherry-picking pollsters, their own media and activist cocoon, their own plans to lavishly spend borrowed money to buy votes.
(I'm distracted by mixed metaphors. Insular/coasts. Cherry-picking/cocoon.)

Brooks goes on to identify 3 stages of the liberal suicide march, and I think it's glaringly obvious that what the liberals are doing is disastrous and destructive in a way that is utterly different from the Republicans continued adherence to conservative philosophy. Conservatism was only unpopular, and it could become popular again, especially after we've seen the liberal philosophy acted out in real life:
First, there was the stimulus package. You would have thought that a stimulus package would be designed to fight unemployment and stimulate the economy during a recession. But Congressional Democrats used it as a pretext to pay for $787 billion worth of pet programs with borrowed money. Only 11 percent of the money will be spent by the end of the fiscal year — a triumph of ideology over pragmatism.

Then there is the budget. Instead of allaying moderate anxieties about the deficits, the budget is expected to increase the government debt by $11 trillion between 2009 and 2019.

Finally, there is health care. Every cliché Ann Coulter throws at the Democrats is gloriously fulfilled by the Democratic health care bills. The bills do almost nothing to control health care inflation. They are modeled on the Massachusetts health reform law that is currently coming apart at the seams precisely because it doesn’t control costs. They do little to reward efficient providers and reform inefficient ones.

The House bill adds $239 billion to the federal deficit during the first 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office. It would pummel small businesses with an 8 percent payroll penalty. It would jack America’s top tax rate above those in Italy and France. Top earners in New York and California would be giving more than 55 percent of earnings to one government entity or another.
This is suicide. I say: Hurry up and die.
Nancy Pelosi has lower approval ratings than Dick Cheney and far lower approval ratings than Sarah Palin. And yet Democrats have allowed her policy values to carry the day — this in an era in which independents dominate the electoral landscape.

Who’s going to stop this leftward surge? Months ago, it seemed as if Obama would lead a center-left coalition. Instead, he has deferred to the Old Bulls on Capitol Hill on issue after issue.
Ugh! I flash back on a post I wrote last October, October 30th, a few days before I voted for Obama, "With the Democratic control of Congress, how much traction should McCain get out of the argument for divided government?" Here's the whole text of that post, with boldface and bracketed commentary added:
TNR presents the debate. On Monday, John B. Judis had a piece in called "Down with Divided Government," and today, we get a response from Jacob T. Levy: "In Defense of Two-Party Rule."

This is a huge question for me, and I've wavered on the subject. Usually, I prefer divided government, but that doesn't mean I need to support McCain. I've seen McCain put way too much effort into pleasing Democrats and flouting his own party, and I can picture Obama standing up to the Democratic Congress and being his own man. What, really, will he owe them? McCain, by contrast, will need them. And we've seen that he wants to be loved by them.

Sometimes, I think that letting the Democrats control everything for 2 years would work out just fine. Let one party take responsibility for everything. When they can't whine and finger-point, what will they actually step up and do? It will be interesting to know.
Aaaaggghhhhh! Interesting. Save me from interesting!
And it will do the Republicans good to retool and define themselves, with an eye toward the 2010 election. I'd like to see this clarification after so many years of obfuscation.

So, that's how my thinking about 2-party rule has supported my decision to vote for Obama.

Now, let's see what Judis and Levy say. Judis notes various examples of successful presidencies under united government and bad presidencies with divided government, and says the evidence proves that "divided government is a curse, not a blessing, and should be avoided, if at all possible." He elaborates:
[In "The Politics Presidents Make" Stephen] Skowronek, a Yale political scientist, distinguishes two kinds of circumstances that have led to crippled government. In the first, a president from an opposing party, but who nevertheless represents the wave of the political future, confronts a congress wedded to the past and determined to frustrate him. You could put Nixon (who was the harbinger of an emerging Republican majority) and Clinton (who was the harbinger of an emerging Democratic majority) in this group. Both these presidencies degenerated into chaos in their second terms.

Then, there are presidents who, in Skowronek’s words, are “affiliated with a set of established commitments that have in the course of events been called into question as failed or irrelevant responses to the problems of the day.” Skowroneck numbers among these James Buchanan, Herbert Hoover and Jimmy Carter. These presidents don’t necessarily have to contend with a Congressional opposition in power, but like Hoover and Carter in their last two years, with a nascent and growing opposition in Congress that constitutes a functional majority in opposition to what they want to do. These presidencies have also proved disastrous.

A John McCain presidency would clearly fall in the latter group, and McCain, unlike Hoover and Carter, would have to face clear and unequivocal majorities in Congress united against him. Rather than promising success, that kind of divided government would promise chaos and failure.
Levy says:
The simple fact is that Republicans never controlled the House during Reagan's eight years....

The last six years of Clinton's presidency, 1995 to 2001, is the other era of divided government that gets held up as exemplary. Judis dismisses it as catastrophic on the basis of the Clinton impeachment. But that misses the wonderful weirdness of the late '90s. The chaos of impeachment coexisted alongside bipartisan legislative accomplishments... Again, I think a good president was made better through divided government....
But he's still not promoting McCain:
The obvious prediction is that Obama will have at least two years of one-party government. That may be, temporarily, for the best--the Bush-era Republican Party, like the Nixon-era Republican Party, needs some time in the wilderness to unlearn some very bad habits. ... [I]n the unlikely event that a healthier, reformed Republican Party is ready by 2010 and able to grab back control of the House, so much the better for American politics--and maybe so much the better for Obama's presidency. And in the meantime, I'm certainly rooting for smart and decent Hill Republicans (admittedly a minority) to hold onto their seats to lead the rebuilding toward another era of soundly divided government.
I don't know if undivided government is always better, but I think it can have some benefits now, and it's not so obviously always bad that opposition to it works as an especially strong reason to support McCain in 2008.

We'll never know what McCain might have done. He'd have made his own mistakes, and I won't assume he would have stood up to Congress.

And I cling to the belief that Obama has the ability to save us from the destructive path Congress has chosen for itself. But will he use it?

How much of an ideologue is he anyway? We've come this far, and still we don't really know. Is he, at heart, the committed leftist his staunchest opponents say he is? I know Rush Limbaugh is fond of saying — over and over — that Obama is intentionally destroying the economy (so that nothing will be left for us but socialism).

I still think Obama is a pragmatist. I also think he's mainly interested in attaining personal glory. If that's right, the prospect of his own defeat in 2012 should shock him into standing up to the bunch of Democrats who — I hope and I hope he sees — will be crushed in 2010.

So: hope and change. Come on, Obama. We need some now.

"Please lock me away, and don't allow the day, here inside, where I hide with my loneliness."

"I don't care what they say, I won't stay in a world without love."

And the truth is — with or without love — none of us can stay in this world forever.

Goodbye to Gordon Waller, the Gordon of Peter and Gordon.
Gordon Trueman Riviere Waller was born in Braemar, Scotland, on June 4, 1945. He attended the Westminster School in London, where he met Mr. Asher. Of the two, Mr. Waller had the greater interest in rock ’n’ roll at first, and he converted Mr. Asher from “a snooty jazz fan to a true rock ’n’ roll believer as well,” Mr. Asher said in a statement.

The boys got guitars and were soon violating the school’s 9 p.m. curfew by sneaking out to play in coffeehouses and nightclubs. That involved climbing a 12-foot-high, spike-topped wall. They were originally known as Gordon and Peter.

“I am just a harmony guy and Gordon was the heart and soul of our duo,” Mr. Asher wrote....
Time travel via internet...hearing them brought me back to the young girl who used to listen to that song and dream of finding the One Lonely Locked Away Man who would rather die than live without her love.

When she found him, he turned out to be an addict, so she got the lonely and locked away part right, while learning the first of many lessons in co-dependent attachment.

Sad but good memories, unexpectedly unwrapped by death, a blog, a link, and a song.

July 20, 2009

$23 trillion.

$23 trillion.

"Look, son, the way these people eat and live comfortably, you will do so, too."

Simple venality leads to religious martyrdom.

12 Bones.

That picture in the last post was taken at my favorite Asheville restaurant 12 Bones. Go there! You can place your order for ribs — maybe blueberry and chipotle — with 2 sides — maybe collard greens and mashed sweet potatoes — and cornbread:


Take your number and fill your giant cup with iced tea, then find a table. It's especially nice outside, at the picnic tables under a steel roof:


And here's James again, with his brother Michael Sasso, who both said they'd love to see their pictures on my blog:



Obamaman Man

This T-shirt is being worn unironically by my sons' cousin, James Sasso. It is a T-shirt that, I feel sure, has irony in its future.

How Obama lost me.

Meade writes the (inevitable) post for me:
1. He did not understand economics, the most important issue.

2. He [never had] the ability to make the experience argument.

3. He never defined himself as a principled [liberal].

4. Erratic and incoherent, he lack[s] sufficient [courage].



"Will the Twitterverse switch their avatars from a Iran-protest green to a sparkly rainbows for Paula?"

"You can't get rid of Paula. She is the slurred voice of the Vicodin riddled masses!"

The 10 most depressing reality shows on TV.

Eh. I don't really think these are that depressing. Or rather I've only watched the #1 most depressing reality show, "Intervention," and I found it kind of inspiring. People are human. They have problems. They try to solve them... with cameras in the room.

Good morning.

Let's start the day with a new dog:


They call her Charley.

CORRECTED: Dog's name respelled.

July 19, 2009

In the Blue Ridge Mountains.



"What Biden meant to say, in his puckish way, that they misunderstood what an economy is, and how it works."

"Piling up a mountain of proposed taxes, mandates, regulations, do-nothing programs and pork unseen in such dimensions since Pink Floyd floated a dirigible pig over an outdoor concert might, in fact, prevent recovery. So do not criticize him; applaud his palaver, and hope for more. Biden's 'gaffes' are anything but —they're simply what the administration is really thinking. Truer words have never been babbled."

"I was given the 'honor' to temporarily marry young girls before they were sentenced to death."

"In the Islamic Republic it is illegal to execute a young woman, regardless of her crime, if she is a virgin, he explained. Therefore a 'wedding' ceremony is conducted the night before the execution: The young girl is forced to have sexual intercourse with a prison guard - essentially raped by her 'husband.' 'I regret that, even though the marriages were legal,' he said. Why the regret, if the marriages were 'legal?' 'Because,' he went on, 'I could tell that the girls were more afraid of their "wedding" night than of the execution that awaited them in the morning. And they would always fight back, so we would have to put sleeping pills in their food. By morning the girls would have an empty expression; it seemed like they were ready or wanted to die. 'I remember hearing them cry and scream after [the rape] was over' he said. "I will never forget how this one girl clawed at her own face and neck with her finger nails afterwards. She had deep scratches all over her.'"

At the Craggy Pinnacle Café...


... you can reach the heights of self-expression.

Summing up Sotomayor.

A linkfest.