January 2, 2010

At the Night Skiing Café...


... life is beautiful.

It's Palindrome Day!

01 02 2010.

The man who drew Muhammad wearing a bomb turban hid behind a bathroom door that an attacker struck repeatedly with an axe.

He survived because the bathroom was a fortified "safe room."

Another Drudgtaposition.

Drudge does commentary. You just have to figure out what he's trying to say with his juxtapositions — Drudgtapositions. Like this one today:

Why illustrate "Napolitano announces international airport security campaign" with a wall on which there are tiny side-by-side photographs of Obama and Napolitano? That means something. But what?

What is Drudge trying to say?
Obama has failed to assume the dominant "decider" role.
Obama impressively gives equality to the heads of departments.
Things are organized and secure now.
Obama and Napolitano are small and ineffectual.
We are so screwed.
pollcode.com free polls

"I've never been in TIME Magazine. I don't need TIME Magazine."

An early rejection of mainstream media, from the movie "Don't Look Back" (which we watched again on New Year's Eve):

This is one of my favorite scenes in the great old documentary by D.A. Pennebaker. Bob Dylan is ranting — for the cameras? — and the TIME reporter looks like he walked into the room with his pencil in his hand, trying to understand but not knowing just what he will say when he gets home.

Does the film invite us to laugh at the reporter's cluelessness? I don't think it's that simple. Presumably, we're identifying with Dylan, the central character in the film we've chosen to watch, but gradually, and certainly by this point, we've been given cues to detach ourselves from our pop star hero. Do we think Dylan is being a jerk, mistreating the reporter? The reporter, whose bland doughiness makes a funny contrast to Dylan's intensity, might look as though he doesn't know what is happening here, but I got to thinking that the gears in that head were turning, and he was judging and gathering material. Who was that guy?

His name is Horace Freeland Judson, and he's no dummy. He worked for TIME for 7 years, but he is also — I'm relying on Wikipedia — a historian of molecular biology and a expert on the "deliberate manipulation of scientific data." He's been on the faculty of Johns Hopkins University, and he's won a MacArthur Fellowship. As for the film:
[H]e was subjected to what he believes to be a contrived tirade of abuse from Dylan. During Judson's interview, Dylan launched into a verbal attack on Time magazine, and Judson himself. The film's producer Pennebaker does not believe the tirade was planned, but notes that Dylan backed off, not wanting to come across as being too cruel. However, Judson believes the confrontation was contrived to make the sequence more entertaining. "That evening," says Judson, "I went to the concert. My opinion then and now was that the music was unpleasant, the lyrics inflated, and Dylan, a self-indulgent whining show off."
Here's a 2007 interview — in TIME Magazine, of all places — with Pennebaker:
Much of the film is devoted to Dylan tangling with the press. Why do you think he played so hard-to-get with reporters?

The poor souls, they were sent out to interview him and they didn't know much about him. He turned it into a circus. He was enjoying himself. But I never felt that he was being particularly mean in those interviews.

There's a scene, though, in which Dylan directs a lengthy recrimination of the media at TIME magazine correspondent Horace Judson. I have to be honest: I would have hated to be in Judson's shoes.

I have the story [Judson] wrote. He wrote a very good piece on Dylan. I thought Dylan was kind of nice in the end. He made jokes out of it. When I show the film, especially to kids, they want to see that as someone thrashing TIME. But it isn't that. He's thrashing a whole system of media that people had been thrashing for a long time. I never thought of it as mean-spirited.
A whole system of media that people had been thrashing for a long time... Ha ha. So much for my "early rejection of mainstream media"! People have been bitching about journalists forever, haven't they? And it's not as though Bob Dylan would have been kinder to bloggers if they'd been around and managed to infiltrate his entourage.


I'm following the TIME Magazine convention of writing "TIME" in all caps, which I haven't done in the past. I'm just for the first time noticing that's what TIME Magazine expects from me. Not that I need TIME Magazine, just that I'm noticing. And I'm wondering: Is in an acronym for something? "The [something with an "i"] Magazine Ever"?

UPDATE, May 10, 2011: The NYT obituary for Horace Freeland Judson.

"Botox is becoming the new face of beauty and it’s unfortunate because it makes everybody look like Satan’s children."

Said Stevie Nicks, who had Botox and hated it: "For four long months, I looked like a different person. It almost brought down the whole production of the last tour. It was so bad, I would look into the mirror and burst into tears."

That's the appropriate reaction, and I wish more people would have it. By the way, do you think Botox might be the explanation for the strangely blank face Janet Napolitano presented to the world last Sunday?

At the time, I said: "That bland half-smile — that numb mask — those unblinking, wide eyes ... the visual is weirdly incongruent with the audio." That wouldn't explain the slurred speech, though, which I'm surprised didn't draw more commentary in a week when lots of people focused on the slurred speech of Senator Baucus.

In sum: Everybody stop with the Botox. As for slurred speech, it works for some.

If you aren't someone it works for... enunciate.

"How would you feel if your new boyfriend kept calling his ex?"

And his ex was Madonna.

My theory, Kate: Madonna is more interesting than you. He called her because he wanted to talk to someone who had things to say. But it does make one jealous, and jealousy makes you more boring. It's a vicious circle.

January 1, 2010

Did you start the year/decade off well?

Or are you still trying to roll out of bed?

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

1. "Drastic, mindboggingly expensive policy changes are proposed based on this science, making this potentially the biggest fraud in history. Why isn't the NYT on fire trying to figure everything out and helping us readers see into the controversy?"

2. "Al Gore is trying real hard to be the shepherd."

3. "Look what Meade's got me doing."

4. "10 Reasons Why the Christmas Day Pants Bomber Will Be Blogged Endlessly."

5. Art and terrorism.

6. "It's hard to get by just upon a smile..."

November, 2009 — Part 11 in a 12-part blog series.

1. "It's all too 'My Very First Beard - from Kenner!' It's not helping. I'm sorry! Baseball is just not sexy enough."

2. First quarterversary!

3. "This should not have happened, and the sphere of responsibility extends beyond the murderer. This is not an expression of sympathy for Hasan. It is a desire for an effective military."

4. "Surrealistic Willow."

5. "What word frequently found in profusion in Obama's speeches is entirely absent from his Fort Hood speech?"

6. "It's a style choice not to explain everything. It's beyond a style choice. It's a demonstration of faith in the capacity of readers. That faith is the spirit that keeps me going here. I want to be the writer that has that faith. But there are times when I have a crisis of faith. There are times when I look at how readers respond and I want to say: I'm kind of surprised you even read the Althouse blog. What's the point?"

7. We stumble into a forest fire.

8. "I love how Ann doesn't get exercised over politics, but does over literature!"

9. Tree-planting time at Meadhouse. More pics.

10. "But that's not to say that the Wall Street Journal didn't lay a trap for Madison liberals. Maybe they knew they were putting in just enough resonance with racism to bait university types into crying racism. And if they do, as noted, those professors will sound silly, because there is nothing racial in the entire text of the editorial."

11. "Johnson and Sanchez were each concerned with bugs, they bugged each other, and they bugged out."

12. "The atrocity that is Empire State Plaza."

October, 2009 — Part 10 in a 12-part blog series.

1. "I think Moore is seriously motivated by Christianity.... Am I wrong to see Moore as an anti-Semite?"

2. "This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen."

3. "But generic attacks on gay people as a group are much worse than attacks on a specific person who is a public figure, like Andrew Sullivan."

4. Incident at a Madison food co-op.

5. My roman à clef about Tripp Johnston.

6. Drive-by photography in the late-night Chicago rain.

September, 2009 — Part 9 in a 12-part blog series.

1. "Why not send people to Mars and just leave them there?"

2. The moral argument for ObamaCare the Democrats could see should not be made.

3. The "waffle-y wedded wife."

4. "The unfortunate consequence of the beautiful amplitude of modern life..."

5. Obama bemoans the lack of civil conversation, and I hear echoes of "shut up."

6. "The Joe Wilson spirit infuses Kanye West."

7. "Hello, Mr. President we honor you today! For all your great accomplishments, we all doth say 'hooray!'"

8. "We have a president who doesn't even believe we are the good guys. True or false? Did you hesitate? Because you shouldn't even have to hesitate." (A quiz with a forthright result.)

9. "Damn, if your clue-getter isn't able to do that, you might as well give up and write more stories about what middle-aged moms in Park Slope are saying about popsicles and iPhones."

10. I got Lincoln Logged!

11. "Are Hollywood types defending Roman Polanski because they love him as a fellow artist or because of their own pedophilia?"

August, 2009 — Part 8 in a 12-part blog series.

1. "Commenting from a mountaintop: we are still sitting on the rock where we exchanged rings, and now we are married."

2. "When you go back home, say hi to my favorite Texan."

3. You want Hillary to tell you what her husband thinks?

4. When The Moderate Voice gets immoderate with me, there is no moderator.

5."'Death panel' rhetoric — and other dysphemisms."

6. The food that makes me a Hoosier.

7. "Oh, we gotta keep grandma alive so she can tell us more about Woodstock."

July, 2009 — Part 7 in a 12-part blog series.

1. What a scoop it would have been if that hand would have scooped David Brooks's scrotal sac!

2. "Y'all got 2 computers?!... How'd you get that?"

3. "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."

4. "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 ... or at least — this would be more my speed — laugh and roll your eyes."

5. "Boys conquer Craggy Pinnacle."

6. Meade composes "How Obama lost me" for me.

7. Under the influence of Satan, we fail to make a pilgrimage to a dishonored President's place of honor.

8. The larger meaning of Henry Louis Gates's Larger Meaning Doctrine.

9. "I will be victorious. Always be victorious. All rising!"

June, 2009 — Part 6 in a 12-part blog series.

1. "I was a caryatid for Frank Lloyd Wright."

2. 4 reasons why The National Review might have portrayed Sonia Sotomayor as the Buddha.

3. "President Obama alone with the Post-Impressionists".... "Obamalisa and Obama Van Gogh".... "Another room in the Obama Museum"....

4. "Shhh, Meade. People are going to think you're a fictional character. I knew it as soon as I saw that picture of him on a porch, reading the paper. Hey, I have that same man at home!"

5. The Tick Flick.

6. "There's a huge bug in my house. I want Obama to kill it for me."

7. Obama and the blow-jobbiest ad ever.

December 31, 2009

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

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

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

3. "God watch over our troops."

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

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

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

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

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

2. Meade reads the paper.

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

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

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

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

1. Hillary's reset button.

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

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

4. "Mysteries of the Althouse day."

5. Skyline chili.

6. "Althouse said yes!"

7. I explain it all to Bob.

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

9. Kitty cymbal orchid.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9. The Rainbow Connection.

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

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

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

3. I kind of liked Twitter.

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

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

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

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

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

ADDED: This was important. Make that #9.

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

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

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

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

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

Sketch for 2010 Glasses

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

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

Look back.




Talk about what happened in the past.

Happy Hollow

December 30, 2009

At the Stray Words Café...

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


There's advertising on the floor:


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


So drink up!

"I hope he dies."

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

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

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

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

Cat Stevens sang that:

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

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

Oh, yes, he does!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back to Cat:

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

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

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

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

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

No, Maureen. Bush was resolute.

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


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

At the Electric Café...

Photo 13

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

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

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

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

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


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

I must correct Barack Obama's grammar.

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


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

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

But I brought you all those Christmas presents?

Why don't you love me?

The New Year's Eve blue moon.

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


Musical accompaniment.

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

When liberals attack him.

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

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

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

Christmas miracle.

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

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

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

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

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

Divine intervention?


No way.

Who knows?


pollcode.com free polls

Best reality shows of the decade.

From Throwing Things.

December 29, 2009

"Ted, do cartoon animals have rights?

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

Obama admits to "a systemic failure."

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

Is Obama getting tired?

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

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

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

David Levine has died.

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


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

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

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

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

Bob Herbert writes in the NYT.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Was all that sex worth $12 billion?

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

December 28, 2009

"The slightly charred and singed underpants..."

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

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

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

So then she's seen his dick?

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

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

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

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

Is he losing the NYT?!

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

A subject only a movie reviewer can care about.

Worst movies of the decade.

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

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

Help me make a list...

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

Roman Polanski is heartened by your murmurs.

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


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

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

December 27, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. It was Christmas!

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You've heard of global warming...

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

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

Said Joe Lieberman.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh, hey... remember this?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Abdulmutallab should not have been on that plane!

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

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