March 27, 2010

Sarah Palin at Searchlight.

"Note to Welch: Just ’cause guys will listen to a story about three women in a hot tub..."

"... doesn’t mean a woman wants to hear about three dudes clogging the pool drain with free floating back hair."


Here's the part of the BHTV that refers to. It's also a featured link in the sidebar at Bloggingheads with the teaser "Matt Welch. Mickey Kaus. A swimming pool. What happened next may be enough to derail a Senate campaign."


Mickey Kaus has qualified as a candidate. Congratulations!

"Kentucky!!!!!! WTF????????"

We're just hanging here waiting for room service and watching basketball and the sun setting over the Flatirons and I'm reading the "Kentucky" Twitter feed out loud and laughing. I don't much care about basketball, but the raw emotion in the Twitter feed cracks me up, and you know West Virginia is my team:

UPDATE: Pasta, salmon, salad consumed. Kentucky spent.

Breaking up is hard to do... with friends.

It's not quite the same as breaking up with a lover, but it can be tough.

Are you going to the "conservative Woodstock" — the "Showdown In Searchlight"?

"Searchlight is not a destination by any means. It's a tiny town. And the locals have told us this is already by far the biggest thing that's happened in their town's history. That's how we see it, a huge number of people coming to a unique place where the draw is, we are going to put on this show and this rally."


We're already in Boulder, so it's only about 800 more miles — beautiful, scenic miles. Meade's toying with the idea of us going. It would be great blogging. 

Anyone want to egg me on? (Egg salad me on?)


Searchlight is Harry Reid's little home town, so getting thousands of anti-Reidites to go there is pretty prankish. It got me thinking about those Philadelphia flash mobs that have been in the news these last few days:
[H]undreds of teenagers have been converging downtown for a ritual that is part bullying, part running of the bulls: sprinting down the block, the teenagers sometimes pause to brawl with one another, assault pedestrians or vandalize property....
“It was like a tsunami of kids,” said Seth Kaufman, 20, a pizza deliveryman at Olympia II Pizza & Restaurant on South Street. He lifted his shirt to show gashes along his back and arm. He also had bruises on his forehead he said were from kicks and punches he suffered while trying to keep a rowdy crowd from entering the shop, where a fight was already under way.

“By the time you could hear them yelling, they were flooding the streets and the stores and the sidewalks,” Mr. Kaufman said.....
Most of the teenagers who have taken part in them are black and from poor neighborhoods. Most of the areas hit have been predominantly white business districts.

In the flash mob on Saturday, groups of teenagers were chanting “black boys” and “burn the city,” bystanders said....
[T]he mobs started as a kind of playful social experiment meant to encourage spontaneity and big gatherings to temporarily take over commercial and public areas simply to show that they could.

“It’s terrible that these Philly mobs have turned violent,” he said.
Tea Partiers need to maintain a strong culture of peaceful friendliness. Please don't rampage through the city. And don't chant anything racial this time. Just kidding. I don't believe anything racial was ever chanted by the Tea Partiers. But Tea Partiers do chant. They chanted "Kill the Bill," last weekend, and a crowd chanting anything with a violent word — like "kill" — is going to upset some people. Their opponents are keen to portray them as violently angry. Remember how a group of people from outside the neighborhood looks to the people who live and work there and keep the Conservative Woodstock true to the original Woodstock idea of peace and love.

Leaving Wisconsin, crossing the Mississippi.

Biden: "That's the American people, man. We've gotta give them light,"

Wha? He had some analogy going, having to do with diving into a quarry swimming hole when he was a kid — diving from what he says is a height of 100 feet:
"The frightening part was you go down really far, I mean literally really far. So deep it's totally black. Your chest constricts, you panic and you don't know whether you're swimming down or up.

"But when you get about 12 to 14 feet from the top you see light and everything is OK. You're still 12 feet underwater, but it's OK. You see light."

Who will get subsidized under the new health care reform?

I think a lot of people are assuming they will get subsidized, but do they really know where the line will be drawn and the extent of the subsidy?
The cutoff level would be an income of four times the federal poverty level. For one person, that’s about $44,000 a year. For a family of four, the comparable figure is about $88,000.

Subsidies would be figured on a sliding scale, with those who make less getting a bigger boost and those nearer the top getting a smaller one.

The formula is pretty complicated. Basically, though, people who make three or four times the poverty level would get enough federal money so that they would not have to pay more than about 10 percent of their income for a decent health insurance package.
So, if you make $88,000 and have a family of 4, you may have to fork out $8,800 a year ($733 a month).
People who make less would have to pay a smaller slice of their income for coverage. For instance, individuals who make about $14,000, and four-person families with incomes of about $29,000, would not have to pay more than 3 to 4 percent of their incomes for insurance.
If you make only $29,000 and have a family of 4, you are already on a terribly tight budget, and yet you will be required, perhaps, to spend $1,160 a year. I'd really like to see a chart that shows how much people are going to need to pay.
The federal subsidy would go straight to the insurer. It would look like a discount on the policy to the customer.
I think there's going to be a sliding scale of freaking out over the new requirements. Just understanding them and absorbing what is required will be stressful. And then you have to come up with the money, or face the penalty:
If you ignore this mandate and don’t get health insurance, you’ll have to pay a tax penalty to the federal government, beginning in 2014. This fine starts fairly small, but by the time it is fully phased in, in 2016, it is substantial.

An insurance-less person would have to pony up whichever is greater: $695 for each uninsured family member, up to a maximum of $2,085; or 2.5 percent of household income.

There are exceptions. Certain people with religious objections would not have to get health insurance. Nor would American Indians, illegal immigrants, or people in prison.
Well, you could always join the right religion.

Sorry, but I can't help thinking that millions of people are going to freak out.

Karl Rove says "[Bush] was set on Cheney for vice president, and I thought it was a bad idea."

So I guess he wasn't Bush's Brain.
"For about 30 to 35 minutes I laid out the reasons why he shouldn't pick Dick Cheney"...

... his age and health, [his] close association with Bush's father...

"[Bush] prodded and poked at me, and disagreed," Rove said....

"I can't be concerned with the politics of it," Rove said Bush later told him, noting he needed a "good partner," and Cheney was that man.

"It really was his first presidential decision...."

"Here in the United States,we spend about 17% of our GDP on health care, but out-of-pocket expenses make up only about 12% of total health-care spending."

"In Switzerland, where they spend only 11% of GDP on health care, their out-of-pocket expenses equal about 31% of total spending. The difference between 12% and 31% is huge. Once people begin spending substantial sums from their own pockets, they become willing to shop around. Ordinary market incentives begin to operate. A good bill would have encouraged that."

Economics Nobelist Gary Becker thinks it would have been easy to draft a good health care bill, but what we got is bad. Still, he's optimistic.

Coffee, pre-dawn, Mountain Time.


After driving 1000 miles straight through the night.

It's Spring Break at last.

March 26, 2010

What might lead to the legalization of marijuana...

... the need for something more to tax.

"Whiteness thus became a method of stigmatizing dissenting ideas, a marker of ideological respectability..."

"... [Nell Irvin Painter, in 'The History of White People,'] should have investigated this phenomenon further. Also missing from the book is an analysis of the all-important question: Who benefits and how from the imprimatur of whiteness? Political elites and employers of low-wage labor, to choose just two groups, actively policed the boundaries of whiteness."

"Are zoophiles attracted only to sexually mature animals — and if not, does this make them 'zoopedophiles'?"

"Do zoophiles find particular members of their preferred species more 'attractive' than other individuals from those species, and, if so, are they seduced by standard beauty cues, such as facial symmetry in horses? What is the percentage of homosexual zoophiles (those who prefer animal partners of the same sex) over heterosexual zoophiles?"

Questions, questions. I must say I've never thought about any of those questions before.

At the Doggy Squirrel Café...

... ooh... ahhhh....

"When we have a terrorist attack, the Democrats always ask, 'What did we do to provoke it? Why do they hate us?'"

"Have you heard, any of them, ask the same for something they've imposed on us?  Have you heard the Democrats once ask, 'Why are they mad at us?  We need to understand their rage!'  We have to understand the rage of people who killed 3,000 Americans in terrorist incidents.  We're told, 'We have to understand the people in this country, minorities and whoever else, unhappy with whatever.  We gotta understand their rage. We have to expect it. We have to allow for it.'  Well, how come the anger that we feel, the Democrats aren't interested in understanding?  Why do they not ask, 'Why are they so mad?'" 


The Democrats immediately shifted into the theory that anger over the bill is simply not allowed. They merged that anger with actual violence, and they took whatever reports and threats of violence they could find and, in turn, merged them with the anger over the bill.


Can we identify neutral principles about anger and violence? How much free expression of anger do we accept in our opponents? When will we listen to it as part of a valuable debate? When do we stigmatize it as part of a system of violence? If the answer to the last question is whenever it serves our political interests to do so, then we are making propaganda.

Linda Greenhouse peers into the psyches of the Supreme Court Justices to predict what they'll say about the constitutionality of the health care bill.

She predicts the decisional path in the brains of the judges will be determined by deep instincts about the states and the federal government:
The architects of the Rehnquist federalism revolution....
Go to the link for some detail on what Greenhouse likes to call the "federalism revolution."
.... were Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and his fellow Arizonan, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor (Chief Justice Rehnquist was actually from Milwaukee, but he decided during his Army service in North Africa that he liked the air of the desert rather than the cold and damp of the Great Lakes.) They were Westerners to whom the notion of states’ rights came naturally.

But Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. is not William Rehnquist, and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. is not Sandra Day O’Connor. John Roberts has made his career inside the Beltway ever since coming to Washington to clerk for Rehnquist. As for Sam Alito, I don’t believe that apart from a brief part-time gig as an adjunct law professor, this former federal prosecutor, Justice Department lawyer and federal judge has cashed a paycheck in his adult life that wasn’t issued by the federal government. Nothing in their backgrounds or in their jurisprudence so far indicates that they are about to sign up with either the Sagebrush Rebellion or the Tea Party.

Chief Justice Roberts appears particularly in tune with the exercise of national power. 
Here, Greenhouse notes 2 dissenting opinions —Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency, where Roberts would have saved the EPA from the state's lawsuit to force it to deal with global warming, and Gonzales v. Oregon, where Roberts would have let the United States attorney general keep doctors from prescribing the suicide drugs that were authorized by Oregon law.

Finally, Greenhouse aptly observes that even some of the Justices who favor the states in federalism decisions lose their nerve when they are confronted with "issues that people really care about." Chief Justice Rehnquist balked when he got to the Family and Medical Leave Act (in Nevada Department of Human Resources v. Hibbs) — and that case was only about whether an employee of a state could get back pay when the act was violated, not the more momentous question of whether the act was constitutional or could bind the state.

So now we have a monumental new law. Can we really imagine the Supreme Court thwarting it?
John Roberts is an acutely image-conscious chief justice, as watchful and protective of the Supreme Court’s image as he is of his own. I find it almost impossible to believe that this careful student of history would place his court in the same position as the court that has been rewarded with history’s negative judgment for thwarting the early New Deal.
But the Supreme Court got cold feet about standing up to the will of the democratic branches of government right after Franklin Roosevelt won a big landslide election in 1936. The health care reform law followed an election that wasn't about health care reform at all. The main thing people were thinking about when they voted for Obama in 2008 was the dramatic economic crisis. There were also the 2 wars and amorphous hopes for a post-racial America.

The 2008 election cannot be read as a mandate for health care reform, especially not for the aspect of it that is challenged in the current lawsuits: the  individual mandate to buy health insurance. That could not possibly have been foremost in the voters' minds. First, during the campaign, Obama spoke emphatically against it. And second, even after a year of talk about the reform, people don't really understand what the individual mandate is going to be.

There isn't a big majority of Americans who are counting on being compelled to buy insurance. There isn't even a majority — even a thin majority — of Americans who favor the health care reform as a whole, and this is even before they need to confront something that is probably going to shock and distress a lot of people who haven't studied the text of the law and have simply trusted that the government is about to give them the good things they need.

Greenhouse tries to patch this hole in her argument:
Midweek polls showed the public already rallying around the new health care law. That trend is likely to accelerate as people realize that the law’s benefits belie the scare stories — just around that time that the state challenges are likely to reach the Supreme Court. It won’t require a summa cum laude in history from Harvard to be able to tell history’s wrong side from its right.
So Chief Justice Roberts and the others are going to want to surf the wave of history... that wave that we're still watching for.

"If I were Elin... man, I would have hit a lot more than she did. I would have kept hitting!"

"You would still be swinging the golf club?" "Yeah, (Elin) stopped. She was respectable. I'd get the baseball bat, I'd get everything out."

That's Sandra Bullock, the supposed "girl next door" type, being, presumably, cute and adorable. We're expected to find that especially poignant now because Bullock did not know at the time that her husband was cheating on her too. Poor, darling Sandra!

There will not even be a tiny dent in Bullock's lustrous reputation for her endorsement of — or lighthearted joking about — murderous domestic violence.

March 25, 2010

Don't even say "down there"...

... over here.

Fight post-traumatic stress...

... with Tetris.
[Tetris] employs many of the same areas of the brain - to do with visual processing and coordinating thoughts and actions - that are involved in laying down memories.

"Disrupting those functions by diverting the brain's attention in this crucial six-hour window seems to dampen down the vividness of memory"....

"It’s far from clear to me that public money should be used to build two office towers."

"If the market does not support these buildings, why should government step in?"

"My ideal state as a reader when I'm reading other people is feeling I'm vaguely wasting my time when I'm not reading that novel."

Ian McEwan on the feeling the writer should create in the reader.

Also, on what makes him able to write: "I suppose it just so happens that the woman I love happens to be my wife, and that is a piece of luck. That creates a sort of stability and a sort of endless interest. I know there are other writers who need the kind of spur of unhappiness to work, but not me. When I'm unhappy I can't work."

ADDED: (Via reader email.) "This is the nature of empathy, to think oneself into the minds of others. These are the mechanics of compassion: you are under the bedclothes, unable to sleep, and you are crouching in the brushed-steel lavatory at the rear of the plane, whispering a final message to your loved one. There is only that one thing to say, and you say it. All else is pointless."


This is what you must ask yourself — scream to yourself? — about every scene in your screenplay, according to David Mamet.

Hey, I'm going to ask that about every scene in my life.  WHAT HAPPENS IF HER DON’T GET IT?

Wow, the Canadians are really helping Ann Coulter with her PR!

"This has never, ever, ever happened before — even at the stupidest American university. . . . Since I’ve arrived in Canada, I’ve been denounced on the floor of Parliament — which, by the way, is on my bucket list — my posters have been banned, I’ve been accused of committing a crime in a speech that I have not yet given, I was banned by the student council. So welcome to Canada!"

Obama's opposition to the individual mandate.

Plainly stated:

"When Senator Clinton says a mandate, it's not a mandate on government to provide health insurance. It's a mandate on individuals to purchase it. Massachusetts has a mandate right now. They have exempted 20% of the uninsured because they've concluded that that 20% can't afford it. In some cases, there are people who are paying fines and still can't afford it so now they're worse off than they were. They don't have health insurance and they're paying a fine. In order for you to force people to get health insurance, you've got to have a very harsh, stiff penalty."

I voted for him, not her. He was so sensible and pragmatic, considering all the details, so carefully and intelligently. He wasn't an ideologue. Where is the guy I voted for?

Real problems of violence against members of Congress or self-victimization for the purpose of political argument.

I'm seeing all these stories about threats to members of Congress and wondering what to make of it. An unpopular bill was passed, and the protests continue. Obviously, those who voted for the bill would like to shut up the criticism and delegitimitize the political movement against them. For the last year, we've seen opposition to the bill portrayed as irrational anger, and this new theme sounds like more of the same.

Here's Politico reporting:
The threats against members of Congress who voted for health care reform have turned from a nuisance to a serious law enforcement issue, increasing security concerns as lawmakers prepare to head home for spring recess.
That's the lead paragraph. Let's see what turned the "nuisance" into a "serious law enforcement issue."
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Capitol Police and the House sergeant at arms on Wednesday were brought into a closed-door Democratic Caucus meeting, during which lawmakers expressed fear for their safety and the safety of their families.
So Democrats held a meeting, the press was excluded, and high-level security personnel came in to hear expressions of their fear. Is this political theater or something more substantial?
The Capitol Police, according to several in the caucus meeting, encouraged members to report any incidents to the department. They also offered security assessments of district offices and even members’ homes.
That is an unremarkable answer that police would give to anyone who expressed a nonspecific fear of violence. It's not the police alerting members of Congress based on something they have learned.
One Democratic lawmaker, Rep. Phil Hare of Illinois, said he knows several Democrats who have told their spouses to move out of the home districts while the lawmakers are in Washington.

“If this doesn’t get under control in short time, heaven forbid, someone will get hurt,” Hare said.
If what doesn't get under control?!
And House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland told reporters after a caucus meeting that members who feel in danger would “get attention from the proper authorities.”
I get it. Some of them feel afraid. And if anything actually happens, like anybody else, they'll be able to call the police. What is the story here?
Hare is holding eight town hall meetings in his district over the recess and requested that the Capitol Police coordinate with his local police department to provide security. His wife has pleaded with him to cancel the events.
He doesn't want to hear the anger. This looks like a trumped-up excuse to cancel the town halls.
“My wife is home alone, and I’m worried for her,” he said. “I am about to have my first grandchild. I don’t want to have to be worried.”
Ah, but you were so brave to vote for the bill. To be fair, the bill was passed to help women and children, and Hare would like to continue his beneficence to women and children by not having to account for himself to the people.
Incidents are sprouting up all over the country.
What are the incidents?
The gas lines were cut at the house of Virginia Democratic Rep. Thomas Perriello’s brother, near Charlottesville, Va., prompting an FBI investigation. Local police are making routine checks of the home. A tea party activist from southern Virginia posted online the address of Perriello’s brother, thinking it was the lawmaker’s.
I really want to know the details about this one. Who did it and why? Let me see the photographs. I want to know all about it. I don't like the home addresses being posted on line, and I don't like even peaceful protests at any individual's house. I can see why you'd be upset that your address is known. But anyone could commit an act of vandalism (including dirty tricksters on the Democrat's side). Is the press following up about what, exactly, happened? Or are they complacently passing this story on to be used to propagate the violence meme?

The only other "incident" cited in the article was a "brick... thrown through the window of the Democratic Party’s Cincinnati office." Did anyone see who did it? Was a note attached? Who did it and why? Again, this can be a dirty trick by someone on the Democrats' side.

Clearly, those who are angry about the bill should limit themselves to speech and apply pressure to others in their movement not to cross the line into any kind of violence or damage to property. Any incident of that kind will be greatly magnified in the press and used to undermine the movement. But we should all be vigilant about the way the Democrats and their friends in the press are leveraging these stories for political purposes, exaggerating and failing to check facts. We should closely monitor the journalism, the rhetoric, and the leaps of logic. Hare's remark "If this doesn’t get under control" has a chilling generality to it. Dissent and protest should not "get under control." It should be free.

UPDATE: House Republican Whip Eric Cantor criticizes Democrats for using reports of violence for political purposes. At the same time, he throws out a story about a bullet hitting a window at his campaign office. Is he doing the same thing he's criticizing others for doing? Perhaps, to some extent, but he doesn't make any insinuation about who did it. His point is that violence is serious, but it's random and somehow separate from the real political debate and should be dealt with in a neutral way, not exploited to make rhetorical points.

March 24, 2010

About those attempts to smear the Tea Party as racist.

Doubt is cast on the spit story.

And what about the claim that the n-word was chanted? It seems likely that all that was ever chanted was "Kill the Bill." Maybe one of the elderly congressmen heard "Kill the Bill" as "n*gger." Without any recorded audio to corroborate that perception, I'd say the hypothesis should be: It didn't happen.



"Why in my house?! Why in my bed?!" "Well, Bob, it just seemed like a convenient thing."

Remember the fabulous 1969 movie "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice"?

There with the beautiful Natalie Wood (as Carol) is, as Bob, Robert Culp. The day has come to say goodbye to Robert Culp, who has died at the age of 79.

Culp was also in "I Spy," which was also the first place we encountered Bill Cosby. Here, you can watch the entire first episode of "I Spy" on YouTube. Look in the sidebar for more full episodes.

But it's "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice" that had the big effect on me. The clip above shows Bob finding out that his wife is having an affair, and Bob and Carol are free-thinking open-marriage types, but Bob still angry — and then he must confront the conflict between that emotion and his ideology. I was 18 when that movie came out, and so, for me, Bob and Carol were the older generation. We laughed at the stupid way they thought they were hip. And yet, for all the laughing, somewhere along the way, it reached us. That last scene... I wish I could find that on YouTube, but I can't. See the movie, if you haven't. The music is Jackie DeShannon, "What the World Needs Now," and I can find a clip of her singing that (on "Shindig"):

What the world needs now is love, sweet love. It's the only thing that there's just too little of. What the world needs now is love, sweet love — no, not just for some but for everyone.

Grigory Perelman, math genius, living in a tiny apartment in St. Petersburg, doesn't want that $1 million prize.

Please take the prize, Dr. Perelman.
The mathematician is reported to have said "I have all I want".... speaking through the closed door of his flat.
He also turned down the Fields Medal:
"I'm not interested in money or fame," he is quoted to have said at the time.
"I don't want to be on display like an animal in a zoo. I'm not a hero of mathematics. I'm not even that successful; that is why I don't want to have everybody looking at me."
He seems to be so wrong, but he is so much smarter than we are. Should we not absorb his opinion with awe and respect?

Icicles and iPods.

A deadly combination.

The end of the constitutional challenge to Wisconsin's diploma privilege.

The case was settled with a $7500 payment to the plaintiff. Back in December, the judge — Barbara Crabb — decertified what had been a class action (including all the graduates of out-of-state law schools who sought to practice law in Wisconsin and were required, under state law, to take a bar exam when the graduates of Wisconsin law schools — the University of Wisconsin and Marquette — had a "diploma privilege" to skip the exam).

Lawsuits challenging the new health care law.

“Congress lacks the political will to fund comprehensive health care … because taxes above those already provided [in federal healthcare programs] would produce too much opposition,” the Virginia lawsuit says.

“The alternative... is to fund universal health care in part by making healthy young adults and other rationally uninsured individuals cross-subsidize older and less healthy citizens,” the suit says.

The seven-page lawsuit presents a straightforward challenge to Congress’s decision to rely on its power to regulate interstate commerce to justify the federal mandate that every individual must have health insurance or pay a penalty.

“It has never been held that the Commerce Clause [of the Constitution] … can be used to require citizens to buy goods and services,” the suit says. “To depart from that history to permit the national government to require the purchase of goods and services would deprive the Commerce Clause of any effective limits.”

Who's in the Tea Party movement?

A Quinnipiac poll:
74 percent are Republicans or independent voters leaning Republican;
16 percent are Democrats or independent voters leaning Democratic;
5 percent are solidly independent;
45 percent are men;
55 percent are women;
88 percent are white;
77 percent voted for Sen. John McCain in 2008;
15 percent voted for President Barack Obama
More women than men. Surprising?

The harmonica, in 1944.

That's Larry Adler, dead now, at 91.

Addicts have a choice.


"If I Ate Lab-Grown Human Tissue or Organs, Would I Be Considered a Cannibal?"

I'm adding this to my list of moral questions about things nobody wants to do.


1. What else can we put on that list?

2. If you bite your cuticles or the inside of your mouth and keep chewing and swallowing, are you a cannibal?

3. Why does it matter whether a particular word — such as "cannibal" — applies to something, when the real question is whether something is right or wrong?

I think that was the worst episode of "American Idol" ever.

Throwing Things has some detail. Just horrendous. Like a competition to see who could be worst. How could Paige be that bad and it yet not be clear that she's the one who'll have to leave? 

March 23, 2010

Saul Alinsky's interest in excrement and (bizarrely racial) flatulence.

I've been reading Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals," and I've run into some really weird things. I'd copy out text from the book, but to save time, I'll just cut and paste this material — which tracks the book — from an interview he did with Playboy here and here:
ALINSKY: The most effective way to [attack Chicago mayor Richard Daley was] to create a situation in which he would become a figure of nationwide ridicule.

Now, O'Hare Airport in Chicago, the busiest airport in the world, is Mayor Daley's pride and joy, both his personal toy and the visible symbol of his city's status and importance. If the least little thing went wrong at O'Hare and Daley heard about it, he was furious and would burn up the phone lines to his commissioners until the situation was corrected. So we knew that was the place to get at him. But how? Even if we massed huge numbers of pickets, they'd be virtually lost in the thousands of passengers swarming through O'Hare's terminals. So we devised a new tactic. Picture yourself for a moment on a typical jet flight. The stewardess has served you your drinks and lunch or dinner, and afterwards the odds are you'll feel like going to the john. But this is usually awkward because your seat and those of the people sitting next to you are blocked by trays, so you wait until they're removed. But by then the people closest to the lavatories have got up and the OCCUPIED signs are on. So you wait a few more minutes and, more often than not, by the time the johns are vacant, the FASTEN SEAT BELTS signs are on, so you decide to wait until landing and then use one of the terminal restrooms. You can see this process in action if you watch the passenger gate at any landing airplane. It looks like almost half the debarking passengers make a beeline for the lavatories.

Here's where we came in. Some of our people went out to the airport and made a comprehensive intelligence study of how many sit-down pay toilets and stand-up urinals there were in the whole O'Hare complex and how many men and women we'd need for the country's first "shit-in."... For the sit-down toilets, our people would just put in their dimes and prepare to wait it out; we arranged for them to bring box lunches and reading material along to help pass the time. What were desperate passengers going to do -- knock the cubicle door down and demand evidence of legitimate occupancy? This meant that the ladies' lavatories could be completely occupied; in the men's, we'd take care of the pay toilets and then have floating groups moving from one urinal to another, positioning themselves four or five deep and standing there for five minutes before being relieved by a co-conspirator, at which time they would pass on to another rest room. Once again, what's some poor sap at the end of the line going to say: "Hey, pal, you're taking too long to piss"?

Now, imagine for a second the catastrophic consequences of this tactic. Constipated and bladder-bloated passengers would mill about the corridors in anguish and desperation, longing for a place to relieve themselves. O'Hare would become a shambles! You can imagine the national and international ridicule and laughter the story would create. It would probably make the front page of the London Times. And who would be more mortified than Mayor Daley?....
PLAYBOY: How did you organize Rochester's black community?

ALINSKY: ... We had a wide range of demands, of which the key one was that Kodak recognize the representatives of the black community who were designated as such by the people....
[An] idea I had that almost came to fruition was directed at the Rochester Philharmonic, which was the establishment's -- and Kodak's -- cultural jewel. I suggested we pick a night when the music would be relatively quiet and buy 100 seats. The 100 blacks scheduled to attend the concert would then be treated to a preshow banquet in the community consisting of nothing but huge portions of baked beans. Can you imagine the inevitable consequences within the symphony hall? The concert would be over before the first movement -- another Freudian slip -- and Rochester would be immortalized as the site of the world's first fart-in.

PLAYBOY: Aren't such tactics a bit juvenile and frivolous?

ALINSKY: I'd call them absurd rather than juvenile. But isn't much of life kind of a theater of the absurd? As far as being frivolous is concerned, I say if a tactic works, it's not frivolous. Let's take a closer look at this particular tactic and see what purposes it serves -- apart from being fun. First of all, the fart-in would be completely outside the city fathers' experience. Demonstrations, confrontations and picketings they'd learned to cope with, but never in their wildest dreams could they envision a flatulent blitzkrieg on their sacred symphony orchestra. It would throw them into complete disarray. Second, the action would make a mockery of the law, because although you could be arrested for throwing a stink bomb, there's no law on the books against natural bodily functions....
A shit-in and a fart-in. I thought you should know.

"Patrick Kennedy leaves note for Ted on gravesite: 'Dad, the unfinished business is done.'"

"The political odyssey of health care reform in many ways is the story of Ted Kennedy, and as President Obama signed the historic bill into law Tuesday, Kennedy's gravesite was a place of quiet celebration and poignant reflection."

Genuinely touching.
Embarrassing, exploitative PR.
I wish I could unsee that.
Do not trouble Teddy now. He is feasting with Jesus now, with big portions on giant plates. free polls

Do we care if Biden says the f-word to Obama and it's picked up by the microphone?

And if we do care that Biden said "Mr. President, this is a big fucking deal," why should we care?

Why should we care?
Biden shouldn't be saying bad words.
Obama shouldn't be hearing bad words.
Biden shouldn't be so fucking careless in front of a microphone.
Obama and Biden should be more circumspect about exercising power and not enthusing like schoolboys.
We don't like being reminded that we really are fucked. free polls

"The food portions depicted in paintings of the Last Supper have grown larger - in line with our own super-sizing of meals, say obesity experts."

That is not from The Onion, folks. That's
Professor Brian Wansink, who, with his brother Craig, led the research, published in the International Journal of Obesity, said: "The last thousand years have witnessed dramatic increases in the production, availability, safety, abundance and affordability of food...."

His team used computer-aided design technology to scan and calculate the relative measurements of items in the paintings, regardless of their orientation.

These included works by El Greco, Leonardo Da Vinci, Lucas Cranach the Elder and Rubens.

Based on the assumption that the width of an average loaf of bread from the time should be twice that of the average disciple's head, the researchers plotted the size of the Passover evening dishes.
Never eat anything larger than your disciple's head.
The main meals grew 69% and plate size 66% between the oldest (carried out in 1000AD) and most recent (1700s) paintings. Bread size grew by about 23%.

The sharpest increases were seen in paintings completed after 1500 and up to 1900AD.
Craig Wansink, who is a professor of religious studies, says the changes in portion sizes is probably a reflection of culture rather than theology.

"There is no religious reason why the meals got bigger. It may be that meals really did grow, or that people just became more interested in food."
Take, eat, this is my supersized body....

Mickey Kaus and the fear of microbes.

Matt Welch discloses:

"I'm the weird one! I'm the weird one!"

How do we really feel about Nancy Pelosi?

I think she's going to come out of all of this very well. Here's my salute to her:

In the comments to the "Stump Nightclub" open thread last night, kentuckyliz prodded our resident animator Chip Ahoy: "photoshop this pic with a teabag dangling down into her mouth. Or clip her out and paste her onto the background for The Scream." She meant this picture:

Not my stump picture:


And Chip said: "Gnarly root Medusa tea-bag Pelosi but nobody is allowed to look at it except for kentuckyliz and Rialby. And now I must go and pray to repent for God told me he's going to totally kick my ass."

So, of course, we looked:

Oh, lord! That's so wrong and so right. But that's another kind of salute to the lady who has claimed her place in American history. There was a time when we pulled our punches when a woman was involved. I say Chip's GIF is a landmark in the journey toward equality for women.

And God have mercy on us all.

It's the new Bloggingheads — with me and Matt Welch!

It's called "It's Fun to Be Goo" and is mostly in response to the passage of the health care bill, but there's some cool miscellaneous material in there, like the story of Matt and Mickey Kaus in Eugene Volokh's swimming pool, which includes my idea for a Speedo based on the California flag.

March 22, 2010

At the Stump Nightclub...


... stop and stomp.

IN THE COMMENTS: Flexo says:
You better watch it.

We might have the government spending $ 10 million to commission some "artist" to create a sculpture replica of those twisted roots.
Ha ha. He's remembering this. You know, I thought the stumps (especially the other one) were beautifully sculptural and wanted to bring them into the house. Meade hacked that idea off at the roots by agreeing on the condition that I be the one to carry them in.

"It's so nice to have a man around the Althouse."


ADDED: A video from today at Meadehouse:

"Are tea parties racist?"

Matt Welch examined this (newly revived) question last December:
It started in early August, as members of Congress began facing their unusually restive constituents in a series of town hall meetings. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, citing not one shred of contemporary sociological evidence, asserted that “the driving force behind the town hall mobs” is “cultural and racial anxiety” on the part of the “angry white voter.” Within a month, that bit of omniscient whitey baiting was perilously close to conventional wisdom....
Welch attended a rally:
But if there was anything “overwhelming” about the protest it was the percentage—which I would place well above 90—of signage and conversation specifically referring to government spending, economic policy, and creeping federal interference into various areas of life. I saw nothing about affirmative action, nothing about welfare, nothing about illegal immigration, almost nothing about hot-button social conservative issues, and very little on foreign policy. If race played a central role, 100,000 people did a good job of hiding it.

"It's fun to be goo."

An out-of-context snippet:

From a forthcoming Bloggingheads, recorded just now.

We're going to get a dog like that and name it Payback.


That way, if anyone asks is it a girl or a boy, we can say, "Well, we named it Payback...."


Thanks to Irene ("Hey look! Some crafty Tea Partier stole Bo") and Meade ("Irene, I'm sorry I failed to get the name of the beautiful dog in that photo so I'm just going to call her 'Payback'...").

I'm getting a lot of flak for saying "So what if some idiot said a bad word?"

I'm not going to link to some of the outrageous anti-Althousiana out there, but you can easily find it by Googling "Althouse" and "So what if some idiot said a bad word?" You'll find some harsh stuff. Did you know I'm "lunatic fringe right-wing blogger Ann Althouse"? Anyway, here's my old post, where I've added this new material:
I'm not approving of ugly epithets, just emphasizing the comparison between an individual ordinary citizen, who might not be very sane/smart/educated, and a member of Congress, who wields great power. The member of Congress should not pretend he's weak, when he is in fact strong. It's also exceedingly lame — and, frankly, racist — for white people to be so quick to think of powerful black politicians as vulnerable and besieged. I assume the black politicians laugh at them in private. The willingness of black politicians to make power moves in racial terms suggests to me that they know exactly what they are doing: leveraging patronization.

"Obama: He staked everything on this and, like the long distance runners from his fatherland, he made it (barely) across the finish line."

That's Newsweek's Howard Fineman, making a racial remark, which he probably thinks is okay, since he likes Obama.

What will happen to Obama and the Democrats in the polls now?

Glenn Reynolds predicts: A brief poll bump for Obama based on positive news coverage of the bill passage. Then, more decline."

I tend to think people will get used to the change and stop paying attention, and the polls will move back to equilibrium between the parties. People will never be giddy and dreamy about Obama again, but so what? (Note to Althouse haters: "So what?" is a serious question.) We shouldn't be so optimistic about government. That's why we resisted the reform. We didn't trust it. Now that it's happened, won't most people get bored with looking at the government and turn back to their immediate lives? The mistrust that made people say "no" will be processed into jadedness and aversion to politics. People will try to live good lives on their own and be fatalistic about how the reforms will affect them. My basic political orientation is aversion to politics, and I found myself thinking, as soon as the vote count reached 216 last night: Well, I hope some good comes of this and the bad isn't too horribly bad. People aren't going to stay fired up. The natural process is to stabilize and find normal. Isn't that why we're so conservative in the first place?

"This is how sports agents and crisis managers imagine speaking from the heart, but only in the abstract."

"It is somewhat the same way when they imagine sincerity. They think we're all as easy as the other women in [Tiger] Woods' (former) life."

March 21, 2010

The end.


Watching the House vote.


"congrats to bart stupak. now everybody hates you."

Atrios tweets.

ADDED: Why did "a meaningless executive order" make the difference for Stupak?

It's over.

"House Democrats who had withheld support of the health care legislation because of abortion concerns said Sunday afternoon that they would back the bill, all but assuring that Democrats would have the 216 votes needed for passage."

(And Wisconsin just lost too.)

ADDED: I'd meant to put a question mark after "It's over" — on the theory that there's still room for an upset. But I didn't, and that's the way it will stay. And WTF Wisconsin! Cornell!

More photos of yesterday's Tea Party rally at the Capitol.

All of these are by Meade (my husband, who says everyone was perfectly nice — too nice, if anything).


I like the state flag here, which I think embodies the federalism arguments against the bill:


Some funny stuff:



Not everyone was anti:


(And here's the back of his shirt, which has a lot of text that you can read at the link.)

These ladies cracked me up:


A man and his dog:


Steny Hoyer won't say they've got the votes, only — nervously — that they "will" have the votes.

"We're going to get those 216 votes because we believe that they understand... that American... s... want health care reform...." He had trouble getting that "s" onto "American" — as if he were haunted by the fear that the support among the people had dwindled to one.

Do they have the votes? Don't you think the MSM would be more doubt-crushingly optimistic if they did?

Democrats late Saturday night said the 216 votes needed to pass the bill were nearly within their reach, but acknowledged that the margin of victory would likely be razor thin even under their most optimistic scenario. Republicans said they still held out hope of derailing the legislation.
House leaders were working to secure their votes late Saturday...

Senior Democrats predicted a cliffhanger when the House is expected to vote Sunday night, saying they are likely to clear the 216-vote threshold for final passage by the narrowest of margins. Democratic leaders huddled in the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) late into the evening, reviewing the final list of commitments.
Former President Bill Clinton made several phone calls Saturday to lobby wavering Democrats to sign on to the health care reform bill, Democratic sources told CNN.

Clinton made phone calls to an unspecified number of House Democrats on Saturday as leaders tried to round up the 216 necessary votes to pass the bill.
According to CNN's latest count, 33 House Democrats plan to vote against the legislation. Thirty-eight Democratic "no" votes are needed to kill the bill....
UPDATE: CNN is reporting some statements from the Sunday morning shows:
"This is a historic day and we are happy warriors," Rep. John Larson, D- Connecticut, told CNN's "State of the Union." He added, "We've got the votes."
Oh? You've got the 216 votes?
But the chief deputy whip in the House, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Florida, cautioned, "We don't have a hard 216 right now." Schultz made the statement to "Fox News Sunday" just as Larson was speaking to CNN.

Wasserman Schultz added, "I firmly believe we will have 216."
I watched that show and noticed how Wasserman Schultz was careful not to claim to have the votes. And she was really trying to put a happy face on the Democrats' struggle — which was pretty hard to do in the presence of Paul Ryan (the other guest) and Chris Wallace. At one point, when Ryan was talking dollar amounts, she accused him of being "in the weeds" and changed the subject to breast cancer and rushed to a punchline about how she's tired of the way insurance companies act like being a woman is a pre-existing condition. It seemed really desperate — like she'd gone into automatic mode. Or maybe she thought the guys — Chris and Paul — were irritating so she'd use her time to rope in the female viewers who must be out there.

"Members of the Congressional Black Caucus said that racial epithets were hurled at them Saturday..."

"... by angry protesters who had gathered at the Capitol to protest health-care legislation, and one congressman said he was spit upon."

This is the report that is dominating the news coverage of yesterday's protest at the Capitol. I have no idea who was the source of any saliva and nasty words, but it's important to realize how easy it is for someone who isn't typical of the group or who is even its adversary to do things like this. It's one of the oldest dirty tricks.

It's also important to distinguish "angry protesters" from particular individuals who cross the line into the kind real ugliness or violence that should be condemned. There's nothing wrong with showing anger at the thing that motivates you to protest. That's what protests are for! The members of Congress have a lot of power, and they ought to have to hear the anger their exercise of that power is causing. It's outrageous for them to pose as victims without very good cause. So what if some idiot said a bad word? That's a trivial distraction compared to the power they are about to exercise in the face of such strong opposition to what they are about to do. [ADDED: I'm not approving of ugly epithets, just emphasizing the comparison between an individual ordinary citizen, who might not be very sane/smart/educated, and a member of Congress, who wields great power. The member of Congress should not pretend he's weak, when he is in fact strong. It's also exceedingly lame — and, frankly, racist — for white people to be so quick to think of powerful black politicians as vulnerable and besieged. I assume the black politicians laugh at them in private. The willingness of black politicians to make power moves in racial terms suggests to me that they know exactly what they are doing: leveraging patronization.]

From what I heard — from Meade, who was there — the people at yesterday's protest were unusually nice and friendly and well-behaved. Still, the Washington Post uses the term "angry protesters." That's a journalistic device to delegitimitize the demonstration by merging everyone into the few persons who said something racist/homophobic. That's not fair and it's not accurate, but it has been the stock MSM treatment of the Tea Party movement all along.

ADDED: Here's the video I'm seeing. Is there any more video than this?

Because what you hear there is: 1. Booing, and 2. the chant "Kill the bill." Playing the race card for nothing? Shame!

ADDED: A member of Congress said he was spit on? Guards were right there. Was no one detained? Show me the person who was arrested. Otherwise, I'm assuming it's a lie.


Tea Party protesters [say] they never heard racially charged language in the crowd. The man detained for allegedly spitting at Cleaver was also let go after, according to Capitol Police, Cleaver was unable to positively identify him.

This NYT article about the "journey" toward ObamaCare is an odd mix of juicy nuggets and dreamy blather.

The juicy nuggets:

1. The Scott Brown victory shook up the White House, and Rahm Emanuel proposed switching to a more modest reform, a "skinny bill." "Mr. Obama seemed open to the idea.... Ms. Pelosi scoffed. 'Kiddie care,' she called [it] derisively, in private."

2. Obama believes that health care is "what his presidency is about" (according to Tom Daschle). (Let me observe that this is not the way he presented himself during the campaign)

3. Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama don't seem to get along too well. On February 4th, they had a conversation in which one of the lines, spoken by Obama, was: “I’m not a stupid man.”

4. "Many Democrats say [Pelosi's] upbeat, unflappable attitude buoyed them through the darkest days after Massachusetts. But faced with a member she considered intransigent, she could be 'scary tough,' as one person involved in her strategy sessions said. She would stand up, her high heels and imperiousness exaggerating her height, and talk sternly."

"Why would you go to a bake sale to buy baked potato chips?"

Because there is nutritional information on the package. As is not the case with homemade baked goods, which are, accordingly, banned.

This is how it goes when the government thinks your children are fat and tries to help.

Eco-tourism, the guilt-trip.

Enough whale-watching for you. Time for urban cruise where the sightseeing is the pollution and blight of L.A. harbor.
On a drizzly afternoon, a group of tourists huddle aboard the Christopher sipping wine, nibbling cookies and gazing out at the ocean just off Long Beach. Cameras dangle from their necks, ready to record the sights....

Corroded metal shipping containers, belching smokestacks, trash-strewn waterways and oil islands highlight this harbor cruise.

The 2 1/2 -hour excursion takes passengers through a seascape short on the picturesque but full of concrete and metal -- a ride through exhaust-tinged air and past power plants, rusty warehouses and the Terminal Island prison that once housed Charles Manson and Al Capone.
What's with the wine and cookies? Shouldn't it be something more medicinal and off-flavored? Wheatgrass juice and vegan sushi, maybe.

(I must admit, I would enjoy this cruise. 1. Great photo-ops. 2. Reality is always beautiful/interesting from a safe distance.)