March 5, 2011

At the Protest Dog Café...


... don't lose the scent.

"Guides for Talking on the Telephone."


(Photographed on February 25th at the Wisconsin Capitol protest. Note the wrong kind of tape. And the presumption that people are complete idiots.)

Bitterly clinging to unions and — maybe — guns, but not to your dog.

At the Wisconsin Capitol protest today, Meade encounters a man who'd give up his dog, a woman who thinks the police have been "amazing," a woman who's upset about tape on a wooden door, and 2 women from Sheboygan who get Meade to admit he's not one of the protesters.

"On Wisconsin! On Wisconsin!/Champion of the Right!/'Forward!' our motto/God will give thee might!"

At the Capitol today, does anyone have a good voice? Can anyone get the national anthem started? And if everyone sings the national anthem, will anyone sing the state song?

There's some nice camaraderie in this video, a flashback to a slip-and-fall, and a discussion of the morality of capitalism. It begins with "Power to the Peaceful" and a man in the middle of leading a prayer for peace in all the countries in the world. He prayed for each, separately, by name, in alphabetical order, and — before that — for each of the states, by name, in alphabetical order. Edited down, appropriately, I hope, by me. Video by Meade.

(Presumably, now, anyone who ever wants to stand in the middle of the rotunda and lead a long prayer, will be completely free to do so.)

AND: The "he" that talked about commerce and morality was Gandhi.

Solidarity for a While.

2 men who had been at odds in an earlier video are now having a friendly chat, as 2 and then 3 women sing "Solidarity Forever," and then it's back to loud chant — "Si Se Puede."

To see the first exchange between these 2 men, look at 5:46 in the "Free-Speech Countervoice" video. The hardhat guy mocks the ponytail guy's hairstyle — in a really jackassy way. But look at them here. Suddenly, they are old friends. That's pretty cool. The difference in the face of the hardhat guy in the 2 videos is just amazing. The singing women are lovely too. The return to chanting? Ugh.

In the Capitol this morning.

Photos by Meade. Looking up into the dome:


Looking down into the rotunda:


And off to the side in at the first floor level (one level up from the ground floor):


Way in the back there are some plastic toys on the floor. It seems to be some sort of grotesque play area.

“We’ve gone from Wallace to Walker!”

Jesse Jackson, posing precariously on the moral high ground.

"And at the Capitol in Madison, Wis., where police on Thursday discovered 41 rounds of live ammunition, we pretty much attained the apogee of incivility..."

"It’s the sort of behavior that you’d think a civility institute would thrive on. Yet we haven’t heard a peep from the two ex-presidents and their Arizona initiative."

What "civility institute"? The National Institute for Civil Discourse, headed by ex-presidents Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush.

And remember when President Obama said: "At a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized, at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do, it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds."

Yeah, we paused for a moment. Back in January. But then February came and the Republicans made a show of wanting to use the power they'd won in the last election.

UW polisci prof Howard Schweber responds to my "Who started the restriction of access to the Wisconsin Capitol...?"

The full text of his email appears with the original post, here. You can read it there as a solid block of text without my bloggerly intrusions and elisions — which is what you're going to get here. Prof. Schweber writes:
1) Last Saturday protest leaders explained to me that the restrictions on entrances (only two open at opposite ends of the rotunda) had been set up by the police, and that the protest marshal's were voluntarily helping to enforce them to preserve good relations with the cooperation of the protesters themselves. This is what smart organizers do -- your claim that the restrictions "originated" with the protesters, as far as I know, is incorrect. 
I didn't "claim" anything. I described my experience, asked questions, suggested inferences from my evidence, and challenged people to bring in evidence that would prove me wrong. Good lord, my post ends with "PROVE ME WRONG" — and I almost never do all caps.

I welcome Prof. Schweber's contribution of his own evidence, which is a report of what "smart organizers" said to him. If they were so smart, they were concerned about PR, so they have a motive to distort the story. I'll assume Schweber is making a reasonably accurate summary of their statements — even though he paraphrased my post inaccurately — but I still don't trust them. They are doing politics as they talk to him. And, actually, Schweber is doing politics too. But he's a political scientist. I would love to hear a politically scientific analysis of the statements they made to him. Anyway, in evidence terms, we are dealing with double hearsay.

I don't even know who these "protest leaders" are. Meade and I were told — by protest leaders? — that there was no "hierarchy." Can you name them? Will they go on record by name, with written statements naming the police officials that they worked with, explaining what the process was in arriving at the policy, a written copy of the policy, how that policy was conveyed to the citizen-enforcers, and who the citizen-enforcers were? I see that some press outlets are suing Gov. Walker to get access to his email under the state open records law. I should make an open records request to the police to get their email with the protest leaders.

Anyway, this is a question of proof, and now we have 2 sets of data. Protest leaders told Prof. Schweber that the "marshals" were enforcing police restrictions. The duct-tape-labeled "marshal" who tried to stop me would not respond to my pointed inquiries about his authority and my repeated question "Who are you?" He did not say, "I am working with the police, and the police set up this policy." I wanted to know! I would have reported whatever information he gave me at that point, but it was withheld.

Indeed, I — and Meade! — were quickly shooed through the door — in violation of the policy. They really didn't want to have to talk with me. I would have video-recorded the encounter with the "marshal," and we would now have an accurate report of his assertion about what the arrangement was between the private-citizen "marshal" and the Capitol police. (It would still be hearsay.) The evidence we got instead was the decision to send me and Meade through the door, and we now must use that action as basis for inferences.

The inference I made in my original post was that he had no authority, that private citizens were appropriating a police role toward the public. Based on Schweber's report, I'm entertaining the possibility that the inference is that they were working with the police in a way that they didn't want to talk about. As Schweber says:
You may have a good argument to the effect that private citizens should not assist the police in enforcing lawful orders--although that's a pretty longstanding tradition. 
Really? I'd have to do some research into the nature of that tradition. Private citizens, after secretly consulting with the police to find a way to make their protest demonstration work well, can acquire the power to restrict access to an important public building — the most important building in the state, housing all 3 branches of state government — not just for members of their own group but for anyone else who attempts to enter, and they do not even need to explain to those citizens that they have been given the authority of the police? Citations, please.
And of course, if there were evidence that pro-Walker protesters were being treated differently than pro-union protesters that would be a different story, but I haven't heard anything to that effect.
The "marshal" told me that only a certain type of person was allowed to go right in and on his own determined that I was the sort of person who had to go wait in a long line — with the protesters who shared his agenda of making the event look orderly and pleasant. But I wasn't one of them, and I deeply resented being told, by a private citizen, that I belonged with them and not with the privileged people who got through that door. Please note that I did not say "Don't you know who I am?!" I said "Who are you?" And he would not answer. That's what got me through the door. You might think I was delighted that I sneaked in ahead of the line. I did not. I stood there, livid, and yelled "How dare he!" about 10 times before Meade calmed me down.
The restrictions to which the judge's order referred were not about closing doors and making people stand in line. 
Of course they weren't! The protesters were in league with the police about that. But the higher level principle of law is the same. The judge's decision rested on Article 1, § 4 — "The right of the people peaceably to assemble, to consult for the common good, and to petition the government, or any department thereof, shall never be abridged." If that is interpreted to include access to the Capitol building, then it's not limited to the precise fact pattern that the unions' lawyers chose to raise. There's no restricted access to constitutional rights!
As I understand it, starting this past weekend Capitol police would only allow individuals into the building if the were invited by a member of a legislative staff who came to the door to escort them, and each legislator's office was limited to 8 visitors. In addition, the police would let in precisely the number of persons that equally the number of chairs in a scheduled committee meeting. 
First, I don't think that was what was going on last Saturday. Second, if the marshal had explained that to me, I would have taken it into account. He refused to answer my questions.
In addition, police told reporters that they would allow one person in for every protester inside who left. Those actions were what prompted the motion for an injunction -- not the selective blocking of entrances and requirement that people stand in line....
Right. They restricted access. And they litigated about the aspect of restricted access that they didn't like. I'm objecting to a different aspect of restricted access. I didn't litigate, but the rule of law operates at a higher level of generality than whatever happened in that particular case. Now, maybe the restriction inflicted on me can be distinguished in some significant way so that my claim of right would fail, but that has not been litigated, and I am standing on my legal argument premised on the case.
... I don't care whether one agrees with the protests or not, it is no more truthful to describe the organizers as authoritarians limiting their own supporters free speech rights than it is to characterize them as union thugs.
I didn't do either of those things. I said they limited the rights of citizens who were not part of the protest. They took over the Capitol and barked orders at regular citizens. And you seem to think it doesn't matter because they shared an interest with the police in making the demonstration look good.
In other words, this ain't the 60's. No one is throwing bombs or even rocks. These are middle class protesters assembling to make a political staement, not agitators looking for a confrontation. 
What?! What does that have to do with me? I do understand that they cared about the optics and they wanted to be admired by the citizens of Wisconsin who'd have turned against them if they were too ugly or disorderly. You seem to be saying that I need to fall in line with the protest leaders to help the protest look good. No! I want to be a free citizen, independent of those people. They can do what they want within their own group, and of course, the decision to maintain order was a good one for them. But they can't absorb me into their agenda — even if I agreed with them. (In fact, plenty of the protesters were disorderly and ugly, like the lug who assaulted Meade, and the "superman" who yelled to drown out a reasonable conversation between 2 men.)
And they are Wisconsinites: they stand in line, they cooperate, they like to keep things peaceful and benign. They're just like that. 
Again. There was a line for some people and access for others. Is it a Wisconsin thing to accept assignment to second-class citizenry? Anyway, meekness is fine for the meek, but I prefer diversity of expression. I can understand leaders of a demonstration enforcing one style of behavior for the good of the collective, but it's for individuals to decide whether they want to belong to that collective. In America. Which includes Wisconsin. And I was not one of them.
It is quite true that the protesters are not free speech absolutists or insisting on exercising their rights to the fullest possible extent -- but that's because that's not what they are protesting about (this is also not the Berkeley Free Speech movement.)...
They don't set the agenda for me. I'll be my own free-speech movement. Eh. It's not a movement. It's just freedom. I want it.

ADDED: Prof. Schweber responds, via email, to this post:

March 4, 2011

The Wisconsin Capitol closes at 6 — no more sleepovers.

With the slumber party over, there's some dancing on the Capitol steps. Meade gets inside just a few minutes before 6 to check out the compliance level. He runs into the woman who appears at 3:13 in the "free-speech countervoice" video to suggest that our free-speech hero move his conversation out of the center of the rotunda.

Mickey Kaus has a problem with indicting John Edwards.

He writes:
Apparently the prosecutors’ idea is that if Edwards used money from “Bunny” Mellon and others to keep his mistress stashed away and quiet, this was really a campaign expense and should have been paid for out of campaign funds. But suppose Edwards had paid for it with campaign funds. Don’t you think prosecutors would now be thinking of indicting him for an improper use of campaign funds?  (You can’t pay for most meals using campaign funds. You can’t buy mittens with campaign funds. Are mistresses going to OK?)

"The thinking was: 'Why waste our time with African-American voters? They have no other place to go.'"

Carol Moseley Braun's "terrible mistake."

A Free-Speech Countervoice Takes the Center of the Wisconsin Capitol Rotunda.

Today, Meade went back to the Capitol rotunda to see what things were like after the overnight-sleeping protesters had been cleared out pursuant to a state court order. It was easy to get into the building, and lots of protesters were back, chanting their usual chants. But one man — who did not agree with the protesters — decided he would occupy the central spot. To the consternation of the others, he invited people to come talk to him one-on-one.

There's reasonable dialogue along with unreasonable efforts to drown out that dialogue. A polite organizer asks the man to move out of the center of the rotunda, and he refuses. There's an almost perfectly beautiful interlude when everyone sings the national anthem. Nervous women air the notion that the man — and Meade — are Walker plants. The woman accusing Meade sticks her finger right into the camera lens. And then, somehow, Meade becomes human to her, and, as 2 young girls spot a friend on the balcony and run off, we have the feeling that maybe everything's going to be all right.

I started to imagine Wisconsinites coming back to the building every day, talking about everything, on and on, indefinitely into the future. That man who decided to hold dialogues in the center of the rotunda is a courageous man. But it isn't that hard to be as courageous as he was. In the long run, it's easier to do that than to spend your life intimidated and repressed. That man was showing us how to be free. He was there today, but you — and you and you! — could be there tomorrow, standing your ground, inviting people to talk to you, listening and going back and forth, for the sheer demonstration of the power of human dialogue and the preservation of freedom.

And you could start singing the National Anthem. If you go in, with no idea other than to sing the National Anthem, there's a good chance everyone will stop what they are yelling and chanting and sing along with you, because nobody wants to be seen not singing along with the National Anthem. Oh, except that one girl. But let's be charitable. She has a whole life inside her, and we don't know what it is.

"Does the Wisconsin Senate have the power to compel absent Democratic senators to return to the senate floor if they re-enter the state of Wisconsin? Yes."

Says Jim Lindgren:
I would hope that those who rely on the arrest clause of the state constitution would deal with the fact that the privilege against arrest applies “in all cases.” These commentators might try to argue that the drafters of the Wisconsin — and by implication, US – Constitutions meant “in all instances” when they wrote “in all cases.”

As implausible as this interpretation would be in the abstract, in context it would not pass the laugh test. After all, the phrase reads: “in all cases, except treason, felony and breach of the peace.” In context, the framers’ language clearly meant court cases....
That interpretation would conflict with the compulsory attendance provision (Article IV, §7) of the constitution, Lindgren says:
Reading the two constitutional sections together, the courts can’t meddle in legislative affairs by arresting legislators in a civil court case, but each house of the legislature “may compel the attendance of absent members in such manner and under such penalties as each house may provide.”

"Kafka 'Before the Law' has a door and a doorkeeper refusing admittance. Moral: Don't believe doorkeepers."

Says rhhardin in the comments to my post about resisting the doorkeepers.
Before the law sits a gatekeeper. To this gatekeeper comes a man from the country who asks to gain entry into the law. But the gatekeeper says that he cannot grant him entry at the moment. The man thinks about it and then asks if he will be allowed to come in sometime later on. “It is possible,” says the gatekeeper, “but not now.”....
Go read it. It's only one paragraph.

Why did the Capitol police wrestle state Representative Nick Milroy (D) to the ground?

Interesting, but missing context. I don't know what to make of it at this point.

Who started the restriction of access to the Wisconsin Capitol, which the state court judge has ruled unconstitutional?

If you were critical of Meade and me for refusing to wait in line and insisting on walking right into the Capitol building, then you need to read the judge's order, which says that the restriction of access "violates the State Constitution."

Instead of meekly following instructions — which, oddly enough, the anti-Walker protesters did — we felt immediate outrage and expressed it. If you are one of the many people who criticized me and Meade for selfishly jumping ahead of a line, it's time for an apology.

Let me remind you what happened. I started it. On Saturday, February 26th, the day with the largest crowd, there were "'about 70,000 people' at the Capitol, but they were mainly outside":
I walked right up to the nearest door, and a "volunteer" in an orange vest told me to go wait in a line to go in some other door. This door was for... I didn't quite catch who the special people were who got to go right in the door I'd walked up to, but I said, "This is a public building. You're saying there are 2 kinds of people — ones that get right in and ones that go wait in line? Who are you?" He was obviously not a uniformed city official. I was all "Who are you?" and "How dare you!" and, after a few seconds, I (and Meade) got right through that door.

Once in, I said "How dare they!" about 10 times. Sorry, Meade didn't video that. You've never seen video [of me] as emotional as I was right then. I got outraged for myself and for all the people that were out there waiting in that line. I was outraged about them for 2 reasons: 1. Because they were treated as second-class citizens who had to enter through the subordinate door, and 2. Because they meekly accepted their subordination.
I couldn't tell if the protesters had set up the blockage themselves or if they had somehow colluded with the police, but I was truly outraged that private citizens were assuming the authority to restrict access to the public building.

The Washington Post reports on the ousting of the overnight-sleeping protesters:
The protesters demanded to see a written copy of the order before they would go. University of Wisconsin-Madison Police Chief Susan Riseling read the order to the crowd, eliciting cheers when she read the judge's determination that the state had unconstitutionally restricted access to the building.

"We won this battle," said former Attorney General Peggy Lautenschlager, who represented unions that had challenged the state's decision to limit building access. But she also told the demonstrators they needed to leave.
From my observations, it seems that THE PROTESTERS THEMSELVES were doing the initial blocking of the door, without the police, so I'm irked by this righteous exulting. On February 26, a guy wearing an orange vest with the word "Marshall" sharpied on duct tape tried to keep me and Meade out. There were no police there at all. I call bullshit on Lautenschlager's "we won." Read the facts I observed directly and rebut the inference that the protesters initiated the access restriction.

Now the police WERE there the next day, when Meade arrived at the same door (the King Street door). Inspired by my resistance the previous day, Meade insisted on walking right in. When he got home, he said to me "I almost got myself arrested." He caught it on video, which is embedded in the post "Meade is New Media." He confronted the police, demanding to know by what authority they were telling him that he could not walk right into the Capitol.

When Meade moved to push through the door, one of them accused him of pushing a police officer. I believe that was an attempt to intimidate him into going over and waiting in the access-restricting line. The implication was that they could arrest him if they want, so he'd better get super-compliant right now. A protester who assumes Meade is a typical protester tells Meade that the police are "on our side." That is, the protesters seem to be colluding with the police in the access restriction, which seems to be why they are waiting in line. But Meade isn't with them, and he's not interested in facilitating the collusion. He's on his own.

Here's the video Meade took on February 28, 2011. Listen at 1:03 for Meade's mocking: "Ah, here are the sheep, obeying orders from the police." At 2:55, he's confronting the police about their system. At 3:34, he encounters a legal observer and questions him about whether the exclusion from the building violates constitutional rights.

In short, Meade and I recognized the access restriction as, initially, a private wrong, committed by the private-citizen protesters, and, the next day, a violation of rights by the police. When the police took over the access-restriction policy, the protesters continued to support it, because — I assume — it served their interests. One of the protesters urgently attempted to clue Meade in that the police were on the protesters' side and that he should meekly submit to the line ritual for the good of the collective.

This is what it looks like to me, having experienced it directly and through Meade. If you don't accept my characterization, PROVE ME WRONG.

ADDED: UW polisci prof Howard Schweber emails a response to this post (and gives me permission to publish it here):

I have to object. First, the requirements of using only certain doors and standing in line were not created by the protesters, and your "reporting" gives absolutely no evidence to suggest that they were. Second, your "calling bullshit" is about something else entirely.

A strange dancing woman lures New Media Meade over to a funeral procession.

It was another protest march, last night. Something — the state of Wisconsin? — is deemed to have symbolically died. Watch for the street-theater-style cardboard coffins.

Meade catches up to a bunch of MSM photographers who are set up in mid-street. They scurry off to the sides when the crowd reaches them. Unbound by the strictures of MSM photojournalism, Meade moves forward into the crowd and continues recording as the faces stream by and walks though until he emerges at the end.

I'm not there, because I'm with my law school class, talking about the Commerce Clause. Meade needs to get back to the car so he can come by to pick me up, but he stops for a moment to hang out with a Brittany Spaniel. That's not the first dog in the video. Back in the march segment of the video, there's at least a poodle and a Great Dane.

March 3, 2011

Inside the Wisconsin Capitol at about 5 p.m. this evening...

Not long before the crowd of 100 protesters stormed the building (or was let in by the police), Meade got through the line and into the building. I've edited the video he shot, which shows the conditions of the hallways and even a men's room — and everything looks quite clean and undamaged. In the rotunda, the protesters have formed a circle and are discussing what they will do — and it seems they are aware that they are about to receive the judicial order to leave. Should they stay?

100 protesters storm the Wisconsin Capital.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:
The protesters have been stopped by [a] phalanx of police on the ground floor of the west wing and prevented from reaching the rotunda and joining the separate group of protesters who have been spending the night in the Capitol.

Both groups of demonstrators are chanting slogans over the police such as “This is what democracy looks like,” “Shame!” and “We want Walker!” Others are making a peace sign with their fingers.
Meanwhile, a Dane County judge is planning to order everyone cleared out of the Capitol:
[Dane County Circuit Court Judge John] Albert indicated he would address the issue of overnight campers....

An estimated 100 people, according to police officials, fall under the category of protesters who have camped overnight in the rotunda and have resisted efforts to leave.

Albert's order is expected within hours and presumably would be implemented as soon as possible. A letter about Albert's order is expected to be handed to each protester. The letter would explain in detail why the protesters have to leave.

"Wisconsin Senate Does Not Need a 3/5ths Quorum to Pass Much of the Budget Bill."

Says Jim Lindgren.

When did Qaddafi ever have legitimacy?

Obama says: "Colonel Qaddafi needs to step down from power... You've seen with great clarity that he has lost legitimacy with his people."

Note the implicit statement that the dictator once had legitimacy. Why would Obama think that?

"University of Wisconsin Police Chief Susan Riseling says 41 rounds of .22-caliber ammunition were found Thursday morning scattered at several locations outside the Capitol."

"The revelation came as state attorneys asked a Dane County judge to order the Capitol closed for a security sweep.... Union attorney Peggy Lautenschlager suggested in court that the ammunition could have been planted by someone other than a protester."

What are the top 3 emotions you're feeling in this protest?

Meade shot this on March 1st. I edited.

What emotions propel people into protest? Do they get them stoked or satisfied? I wonder. I like this clip for 2 reasons: 1. the student is so nice, and 2. the respondents (Walker supporters) aren't too ready to speak in terms of emotion. The first answer given is "respect" and the second is "pride." Only the third — "sadness" — is really an emotion. I've observed over the years that a lot of people don't like to think about their political ideas as emotionally motivated.

"Excuse me, but I'm looking for Hate."

Looking for Hate Man...
"Oh, Hate? He's sleeping right now," he said, pointing to a lump underneath a blue tarp. "Hey, Hate!" the man yelled. "Hate!"

The tarp twitched, then stopped.

"Hate! Wake up, man! Someone's here to see you!"...

"Hi, Hate," the reporter said. "Um, fuck you."

"Hi, fuck you, too. I hate you," he responded, without hesitation or an ounce of vitriol....
Via Metafilter, which also links to this collection of articles he wrote back in the 1960s when he was a reporter for the New York Times. Imagine leaving the conventional life and going the way of a colorful street character. What would you be... if not Hate Man... who?

"Republicans in the state Senate ordered Democrats on Thursday to return to the chamber by 4 p.m. or be found in contempt of the Senate..."

"... a move that means Democrats could be taken into custody."

"Hell, these leftist protesters, leave Kotex! Used Kotex, everything is littering the sidewalks and the streets. It doesn't matter. It's the height of pigsty-ism."

Rush Limbaugh went over the top yesterday imagining what's going on here in Madison, Wisconsin.
[U]nion thugs join together in creating a pigsty -- and we know that they create pigsties, especially compared to Tea Party rallies. You look at any public grounds where these people have been: The trash is littered everywhere, trash cans are overturned, beer cans, bong pipes. Hell, it's all over there.  The Tea Party people, you don't find anything.  Not even a discarded tissue....  
The Democrats and the media want you to think it's just a bunch of average, hardworking out of working, valiant teachers, firefighters and so forth, and it's a bunch of slobs.  Maggot-infested, dope-smoking, damn it, hell, longhaired, the whole nine yards.  You got longhaired, maggot-infested, dope-smoking FM rock 'n' roller types, exactly who they are. Bong pipes, you name it. 
Now, that's just ridiculous. I've lived in Madison, Wisconsin for 25 years — and I've gone over to the protests nearly every day — and I've never seen a used Kotex anywhere. I put up a post showing trash on one of the first days of protest, but ever since then, I've been impressed that they are picking up trash. They care about the impression they leave and are making a big effort about that. They are putting up signs, taping them up and sticking them in little snowmen outdoors. And there are piles of belongings, such as bedding that are piled up in a way that isn't aesthetically pleasing. But that's not trash. And I haven't seen any beer drinking or beer cans or pot smoking or pot paraphernalia anywhere. The last time I was in the building, I didn't think it smelled, but Meade was there more recently (for the Governor's Budget Address), and he says it smelled. People are living in there, the human body is what it is.

"Please pardon this brief departure from my normal folderol, but every so often..."

"... a member of the chattering class issues a nugget of stupidity so egregious that no amount of mockery will suffice. Particularly when the issuer of said stupidity holds a Nobel Prize."

The Nobel Prize reference is to Paul Krugman. If you want something about the Obama Nobel Prize, there's this:
Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize.  A lot of his critics didn't think he deserved to win the Nobel Peace Prize, but he's got a shot now at showing the world he does deserve it by what he could be doing in the Middle East and North Africa.  Is he on a track to winning the Nobel Peace Prize again...?  What do you think?

Again?  These guys are taking bets on whether Obama is gearing up to win the Nobel Peace Prize again?  I mean you can arguably say that the world's imploding because of Obama.  The stabilizing force of the world has always been the United States of America, but nobody fears us.  There's no respect or fear of the United States, and he doesn't project any abject respect and love for this country.  These guys are speculating on whether he's qualified to win a second one?

"Shouldn't that home brew technically be called a mead, being made from honey?"

"Alert the Meadia!"

"Walker proposed ending state-mandated community recycling, which was signed into law by Gov. Tommy Thompson in 1990, as well as elimination of the grants that help local governments pay for recycling."

Good! Right? If recycling is worth doing, it should be paying for itself without a state government subsidy, or, if not, let local communities decide if they want to cough up the money to do it anyway. It's time for decentralization, efficiency, realism... not fluffy-headed idealism. Saving money is the morality we need, not posing as good people by doing something if it actually makes no sense. I'm for pragmatism, not narcissism.
[George Dreckmann, Madison's recycling coordinator,] said it costs nearly $6 million to run the city's recycling programs and Madison receives about $1.1 million from a state recycling grant. He sees few other ways to replace the money other than cutting back the recycling program. One possibility, he said, might be to no longer recycle glass, which is expensive to process. 
Exactly. Do that. Why should the state waste money incentivizing something that shouldn't be done? Why should Madison folk get to stoke their feeling of self-goodness with money from non-Madison Wisconsin?

"More than 100 Northwestern University students watched as a naked 25-year-old woman was penetrated..."

"... by a sex toy wielded by her fiancee during an after-class session of the school’s popular 'Human Sexuality' class. The woman said she showed up at the Feb. 21 lecture in the Ryan Family Auditorium in Evanston expecting just to answer questions, but was game to demonstrate. The course’s professor on Wednesday acknowledged some initial hesitation, but said student feedback was 'uniformly positive.'"

And now? Still uniformly positive?
“One of the students asked what my specific fetish was and mine is being in front of people, having the attention and being used,” [said the woman]. “The students seemed really intrigued.”
Being used, eh? Who feels used now?
[Prof. John Michael] Bailey said in his statement Wednesday that during the Feb. 21 after-class lecture, “I was not in a mood to surrender to sex negativity and fear.”

“Do I have any regrets?” he wrote on Wednesday. “It is mostly too early to say. I certainly have no regrets concerning Northwestern students, who have demonstrated that they are open-minded grown ups rather than fragile children.”

"Chicago is up in the house!"/"He's never nipped at anybody but he barks and growls"/"I wanna be your dog"...

... "Everyone left is from Chicago"/"It's the love-in of a lifetime"/"People are going to be really embarrassed some day to look back and realize that they had joined in on something that was really a mistake and they chose the wrong side and that they joined it with such fervor"/"Did you ever do that when you were young?"

All this video was recorded yesterday... except the flashback. (That was originally blogged on February 17th.)

And here's the NYT article on "self-compassion" that I talk about in the car.

"On Tuesday, several dozen protesters slept outside the Capitol in a camp they've dubbed 'Walkerville.'"

Ha. As if Walker has caused homelessness. (The coinage presumably alludes to "Hooverville.")

This protest is NOT about poor people. It's about people with good jobs, wanting to preserve the high quality of what they've been able to acquire for themselves. Now, I do think those who are sleeping on the floor of the Capitol rotunda and outside on the frozen ground are young people who don't themselves have good jobs. It's interesting what these kids are putting themselves through for others, who are, presumably, better off than they are. I took this picture, yesterday, of the outdoor sleeping setup:


It had gone down to 11° the night before. Note the underlayer of Ian's Pizza boxes. There is a lot of free food. Ian's, by the way, is doing some kickass branding (without losing any money):
On Monday afternoon, [store manager Staci] Fritz guesstimated that Ian's had delivered upwards of 35,000 slices of pizzas in the last week, all paid for by donations...

Fritz says that while Ian's is still making deliveries and taking donations, it has been very careful to cut off the amount of money it takes in one day. "What if somebody gives a load of money and then suddenly this whole thing is over and we can't deliver anymore? We can't let anyone pay for what we can't promise to deliver."
Keeping it honest... which is good for branding too, of course. They're not just raking in donations without accounting for it all with free pizza delivered to protesters.
Madison has a long tradition of its bars and restaurants being sucked into the fervent political activity of the times, such as the Nitty Gritty restaurant and bar's role as the meeting place for the activists who bombed the university's Sterling Hall in 1970.
Well, hell... why bring that up? Things have been really peaceful, by and large — to an amazing degree, considering the difficulty of keeping a large, diverse crowd energized enough to look like a good demonstration without tipping any individual over the edge into something ugly, even as the days wear on and on.

"At this point, I'm not sure why I'd reach out to them again."

Says Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald — after driving to Kenosha to meet with 2 of the self-exiled Democratic senators.
"It was clear about halfway through the conversation that the items that they brought up were items that could never make it into the state budget...."

"All right. You can stop right there. I don't want to ever stay in a hotel room ever again."

Says Meade after I start to read items from this list on how to prevent bedbug infestations:
  • Never put clothes in hotel drawers or on a hotel floor.
  • Travel with resealable bags large enough to hold clothes....
  • Check your laptop. The bedbugs are attracted to the heat and body oils on the computer....
The rest of the list:
  • Inspect hotel room mattresses, bedding, furniture and closet hangers for signs of infestation....
  • Use dissolvable laundry bags when travelling. The bags can go straight from your suitcase to the washing machine....
  • If in doubt, don't bring belongings in the house....
  • Periodically inspect cribs, mattresses, box spring, head and foot boards and under the bed for signs of bedbugs....
  • Check the alarm clock on your nightstand, along with electrical outlets.

"When I arrived back in 2001 I found 10,000 lawyers in the Department of Defense."

Says Donald Rumsfeld:
They're there at every level. We live in an enormously litigious society and the Congress contributes to that. As a result, there's practically no step that's made by anyone in the Pentagon and in the Department of Defense where they do not take into account the legal implications and consult lawyers about it....

There's a pattern in the department, at the top level, the chairman and the chief and the Joint Chiefs will recommend some rules of engagement for a certain circumstance. It will then be sent down the chain of command and it will get to the next command level, maybe the Combatant Commander, and the Combatant Commander will look at it, and then he will not want to violate it. So he might take a little tuck in it. And then it goes down to the next level. And it's got now it's in a country commander. And he looks at it and he doesn't want to break the rule so he takes a little tuck in it. You end up with four or five layers down there taking tucks and you end up with some rules of engagement that don't look like what the chairman of the Joint Chiefs or the Joint Chiefs of Staff or even the Combatant Commander intended. Now why is that? Well, it's fear. It's because of our litigious society. It's because of Congress overseeing things and having hearings.

March 2, 2011

"It's all political."


Is it? Really?


Even the snowmen are picketing.


And Jesus Christ is telling the governor off...

"They are slobs. But I don't hate these people for being slobs."

"I don't mind nice slobs."

Meade takes protest signs down from the Civil War monument at the Wisconsin Capitol.

New Media Meade, the protector of war monuments, takes signs down from the statue of Hans Christian Heg, who died at Chickamauga. Do you think it's cool to have a sign that reads "I fought for the Union/You should too" tied to his foot? We didn't.

2 protesters emerge from the Capitol — in high spirits — and talk about the conditions inside.

When people leave, others from a line go in to replace them, so the number inside remains the same. One of the young men says he hadn't seen the light of day in 72 hours. They seem to be okay about sleeping on the stone floor, and they report that it's been kind of fun — that they even had a sack race last night (using sleeping bags).

"There's six, seven, eight, nine of them that are starting to say, ‘Listen, we're starting to look like we're out of touch with what's going on in Madison, and it's time to get back.'"

"I think some of them feel like they're boxed in and they can't come back to the Capitol right now."

Said Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald about the "Wisconsin 14."

Did the absconding senators themselves adopt the label "Wisconsin 14"? To my ear, it suggests yippies or lawless revolutionaries. Is that the image they want?

The Westboro Baptist Church wins in the Supreme Court in the case about protesting at a soldier's funeral.

"The First Amendment shields Westboro from tort liability for its picketing in this case."

Chief Justice Roberts writes the opinion, with only Justice Alito dissenting. Justice Breyer has a concurring opinion. From the Roberts opinion:
The picketing was conducted under police supervision some 1,000 feet from the church, out of the sight of those at the church. The protest was not unruly; there was no shouting, profanity, or violence....

Given that Westboro’s speech was at a public place on a matter of public concern, that speech is entitled to “special protection” under the First Amendment. Such speech cannot be restricted simply because it is upsetting or arouses contempt. “If there is a bedrock principle underly- ing the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.” Texas v. Johnson, 491 U. S. 397, 414 (1989). Indeed, “the point of all speech protection . . . is to shield just those choices of content that in someone’s eyes are misguided, or even hurtful.” Hurley v. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Group of Boston, Inc., 515 U. S. 557, 574 (1995)....

Speech is powerful. It can stir people to action, move them to tears of both joy and sorrow, and—as it did here— inflict great pain. On the facts before us, we cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker. As a Nation we have chosen a different course—to protect even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate. That choice requires that we shield West- boro from tort liability for its picketing in this case.
Clearly, this is the right outcome.

AND: Alito, the lone dissenter, stresses the value of the tort called "intentional infliction of emotional distress":
Respondents’ outrageous conduct caused petitioner great injury, and the Court now compounds that injury by depriving petitioner of a judgment that acknowledges the wrong he suffered.

In order to have a society in which public issues can be openly and vigorously debated, it is not necessary to allow the brutalization of innocent victims like petitioner.
Breyer's short concurrence makes the point that the decision is limited to in-person picketing about matters of "public concern." In adding that the Court "does not examine in depth the effect of television broadcasting" and "internet postings," I get the sense that he's looking ahead to cases about bullying.

The Wisconsin protesters are losing their grip on reality.

The point of that last post — "I have professors that received doctorates..." — is that as the protest drags on and protesters are sleep-deprived and frustrated and tired of nothing happening but standing around chanting and listening to drum-beating for hours on end, logic and proportion is flopping away. There was some serious aggression yesterday.

You saw Meade's video where 2 over-aggressive protesters interrogated a couple of nice ladies who drove into Madison just to stand quietly, in the sea of Walker-haters, and hold their pro-Walker signs. In the video, you can hear that the 2 protesters are not making that much sense, and when Meade tries to mediate — meadeate — for them, other protesters in the area close in on Meade.

There's very tense confrontation, and it flips into paranoia and incoherence. At 4:35, you hear a woman say, "Are you a plant?" At 4:57: "I think we know you're a Walker plant?" At 5:00: "You [are a Walker plant] on this gathering and we can tell." At 5:17, a large man barges into Meade and grabs the Flip camera, and actually gets it out of Meade's hand. No one in the crowd does anything to help Meade in this assault, and Meade grabs the man's arm and wrests the camera out of his hand. This man says "Get your hands off me," as if he's a victim. After he assaulted Meade, he acts like he's the peacemaker and says — referring to Meade and the 2 pro-Walker women — "They are fools and idiots and just ignore them." He continues to bump his large body into Meade as he's saying that. A woman says, "These are Walker plants."

I see some people descending into irrationality — beginning to form a cultish mentality that demonizes outsiders. Meade was at a demonstration, photographing it. A demonstration is — to a clear-thinking person — a collection of people asking to be seen, wanting to be photographed. Yet when they perceive that Meade isn't one of them they flip — it's a Flip camera — into fear. Meade had been trying to talk to them rationally about why the pro-Walker woman might not want to debate her ideas in that setting, and instead of seeing Meade as a citizen who's finding out what's going on and helping 2 women who are surrounded and outnumbered, they spread their "plant" theory. And it's not just a theory. They know he's a plant. 

But he's not a plant. He's a human being. An individual human being. And so are all the protesters, but I fear they are losing their grip on that reality.

"I have professors that received doctorates from Berkeley. They can't afford to lose their collective bargaining."

Statement from a hardcore protester who's been sleeping on the marble floor of the Wisconsin Capitol for 10 days.

When you're drafted into the "Army of Davids" — and the conflict has become a quagmire.

Thanks to Instapundit for all the links to my — and Meade's — coverage of the Wisconsin protests. Like this one this morning:
WISCONSIN: “After a short interchange, a bunch of anti-Walkerites converge on Meade. One man grabs his camera. Another blows a whistle close to his face.” The New Civility in action: Shut the f*ck up if you don’t support the unions!

Plus, from the comments: “I don’t want to hear one more word about Tea Parties that create an atmosphere of violence.”
I know Meade and I exemplify Glenn's concept of "An Army of Davids," but we kind of got drafted. Here we are in Madison, Wisconsin and something big happens. We have to cover it. Or we'd have to justify dodging the draft into the army of Davids. And now that we're in, people are looking to us to be the rough men who stand ready to do journalism on their behalf so they can read peaceably on their laptops at night.

And now we're into the third week of it. It's become a quagmire. I believe myself that... this protest is lost and it is not accomplishing anything as indicated by the extreme aggression in Madison yesterday....

"You are a person against all of us. The whole nation is looking at you." — says an old woman with a "Solidarity" sign who gets right up in Meade's face...

... when Meade asks her why he should "be ashamed" of himself. That's at the end of this uncut 7 1/2-minute video, shot outside the Capitol this afternoon.

In the beginning, a man demands that a woman explain her sign, which reads "Public workers don't need collective bargaining." She's double-teamed by the man's wife, who finds it "odd" and "socially irresponsible" that a person would have a sign yet choose not to lay out her argument for discussion and dialogue. When the man says that she has a choice but other people don't, Meade begins questioning him. After a short interchange, a bunch of anti-Walkerites converge on Meade. One man grabs his camera. Another blows a whistle close to his face.

It's pretty gooba gabba.

AND: Wisconsin senator mobbed.

March 1, 2011

Meade takes the fisheye to the protest today...

"Who will want to risk their life for no pay?"


"Officers, you have a choice/Disobey illegal orders":


Teachers Assistants Association:


Confrontation of pro- and anti-Walker folk:


An "I support Scott" guy with an antagonist coming up behind him:




Meade got into the Capitol for the Governor's speech and, afterward, shot this video...

... which I edited:

0:00 — in the Assembly chamber
0:37 — in the rotunda, a Democratic legislator slips on a pile of peace signs
1:14 — a woman has a dog in the Capitol, and the vibration is freaking her out
2:12 — our Assemblyman Brett Hulsey calls it the "Budget Despair Bill"
2:35 — "Oh, oh, freedom..."
3:16 — "Which door do I go out if I don't want to be replaced?"
4:06 — "Is there a door I can go out where someone else won't come in because I went out?"
4:35 — boombox duct taped to a stand made of cross-country skis
5:06 — Meade inquires about a child labeled "planted troublemaker"
5:21 — folkie guy plays "When the Ship Comes In"
6:26 — the folkie switches to rap
7:50 — "I'll be growin' food with all my friends and we'll be livin' on a big farm somewhere."

There are young people in the Wisconsin Capitol who have been there, sleep deprived, for 15 days and are truly suffering.

I just watched video Meade brought home, and I am not going to put it on line. But I can tell you, there is at least one person there who has lost his mind from (apparently) sleep deprivation.

Someone needs to go around to everyone who is still there and check them for mental stability. Somebody needs to find the people who need to leave and don't know how to leave. If you are encouraging people to stay, to hang on and remain tough, you need to know that there are some truly sad people there who need to be told that they've done enough and must leave now.

Please, for the love of God, go around to the human beings who are there and talk to them individually. I know you believe in your cause, but there is at least one person among you who needs love and needs to be saved!

"My people."

Should the Attorney General be saying "my people"... and not mean the People of the United States?

"Let your mother know how much she means to you, in the form of a haiku."

The last item on a questionnaire, which... ... ... I don't care how compliant you've been up to that point, filling out the answers, you need to just say no. Shut up questionnaire!

"This afternoon, at the Wisconsin State Capitol, I witnessed what at times appeared to be the greatest governor in the history of this or any other state..."

"... showered with affection as he announced a bold new plan to rescue Wisconsin from the brink of otherwise certain economic ruin."

Writes Bill Lueders — who is not a Walker fan — in the Isthmus:
He was feted with more than a full minute of thunderous ovation, with whistles and hooting and cheers, as he entered, and again at the end of his 30-minute address. He received long rounds of applause and a few standing Os while he spoke. The balconies seemed to be filled almost entirely with people who love him, and who applauded him at every turn.
Meade was there, and he confirms that. (And, by the way, we have some hot video that I'm working on processing right now.)

Here's the transcript of the speech. Meade describes the big standing ovation when the Governor said:
We must work together to bring our spending in line with reality. We were elected  — not to make the easy decisions to benefit ourselves — but to make the difficult ones that will benefit our children and grandchildren.

We need a commitment to the future so our children don't face even more dire consequences than what we face today.
Meade says he joined the standing ovation at this point, and that Scott Walker looked at him and gave him: 1. a smile, 2. a nod, and 3. a wink. Meade was quite pleased about that!

New Media Meade... in the assembly chamber, awaiting Governor Walker's address...



... right now.

"Yesterday, Larry Meade, human hot air machine and husband of UW-Madison law professor and pundit Ann Althouse (the Midwest's Michelle Malkin)..."

"... posted a video in which he accused the police department of a conspiracy and lambasted the current media organization landscape. In the video (which, in bizarro world, is shown every hour on Fox News), Meade gets in the face of the police and demands entry, claiming he isn't media: 'I'm private media.'"

Writes The Awl. I think he said "new media." And no one calls him "Larry." You'd get a better response with "Lore." Which I don't call him either. Frankly, I'm not sure what to call him. Except "Meade" — "New Media Meade."
The irony of denying Althouse's husband access to the capitol without official media credentials is that the credentialed media has done a pathetic job of covering the events. Outside Wisconsin's own official news organs, the nationals' approach to covering the protests borders on malpractice. When Paul Krugman is bothered to get into the Times CMS to post "a blog" comparing the job you've done in Wisconsin to the one you did in the buildup to the Iraq War, well, you've done a pretty bad job.

If the events in Wisconsin prove one thing, it is that the mainstream media has become journalistically irrelevant when it comes to national issues and coverage. Broadcast media is incapable of explaining anything outside a macropatriotic framework and has proven allergic to anything that puts off even the slightest whiff of the class warfare that scares away big-market advertorial. Meanwhile, the other side is cable news' partisan echo chamber of regurgitated self-assurance, where no blow is too low and no fact needs sourcing before being leveraged to make a prearranged point.
But, hey, guess what? Governor Scott Walker is about to give his budget address, and Meade is there, seated in the chamber as I write this. I could have been there too, but I've got a class at 4:30, and we need to talk about the Commerce Clause.

ADDED: Here's the video referred to above. And in the comments, JAL says, "Woo hoo! Reminds me of a book some guy from Knoxville wrote ... uummm ... It had a militaristic tone to it ... (you know those "conservative" right wing blogger gun nuts ...) ... uhmmm ... An Army of Meades!" Oh, yes. They'd look like this. You know they came from a place called Media.

What are the 200 best #1 songs — going all the way back to 1955?

List-a-Beefy has figured it out and has been posting one song per day, with fascinating/trivial details, since the middle of last week. The person compiling this list has a mind-boggling fixation on the details of the Billboard charts, and this is not just thrown together, believe me. Understand the task: You have a huge group of songs when you look at 52 weeks from 55 years, but you are limited to the songs that made #1. You have to compare songs from vastly different eras. He's got Dean Martin, "Memories Are Made of This" at #199, and "TiK ToK" by Ke$ha at #198.

I mean, if I tried to do this, at least half of it would come from the 60s and there'd be whole years where I feel no emotional attachment to anything. List-a-Beefy is not like that. List-a-Beefy knows what he's doing. And he puts things into a historical framework. For example, when "It's My Party" — #196 — was #1 for 2 weeks in June 1963, replacing Jimmy Soul's "If You Wanna Be Happy," later to be shunted out, in turn by "Sukiyaki," by Kyu Sakamoto, Israel executed Adolf Eichmann. Think about it. I'm inclined to practice my skill at mnemonics with those sets of facts: There's Jimmy Soul, happily scarfing down sukiyaki at a party, while Lesley Gore is crying... over the death of — sorry, Lesley, this is mnemonics — Adolf Eichmann, whose soul drifts by...

News from inside the Capitol: "Vets memorial is clean n clear... About 50 hard core protesters still here confined to ground floor."

Texts my inside source.

Chief Justice Roberts teaches a language lesson: "The noun 'crab' refers variously to a crustacean and a type of apple, while the related adjective 'crabbed' can refer to handwriting that is 'difficult to read'..."

"... 'corny' can mean 'using familiar and stereotyped formulas believed to appeal to the unsophisticated,' which has little to do with 'corn,' ('the seeds of any of the cereal grasses used for food'); and while 'crank' is “a part of an axis bent at right angles,' 'cranky' can mean 'given to fretful fussiness."

And the point is, a corporation may be a "person" within the meaning of the Freedom of Information statute, but that doesn't mean it's gets in on the "personal" privacy referred to elsewhere in the statute.
[I]n ordinary usage, a noun and its adjective form may have meanings as disparate as any two unrelated words. ...

"Person" is a defined term in the statute; “personal” is not. When a statute does not define a term, we typically “give the phrase its ordinary meaning.”... “Personal” ordinarily refers to individuals. We do not usually speak of personal characteristics, personal effects, personal correspondence, personal influence, or personal tragedy as referring to corporations or other artificial entities. This is not to say that corporations do not have correspondence, influence, or tragedies of their own, only that we do not use the word “personal” to describe them.

Certainly, if the chief executive officer of a corporation approached the chief financial officer and said, "I have something personal to tell you," we would not assume the CEO was about to discuss company business. Responding to a request for information, an individual might say, "that’s personal." A company spokesman, when asked for information about the company, would not.
Crisply explained!

IN THE COMMENTS: rhhardin said:
While he's got the FCC's attention, mention that the "fucking" in "fucking brilliant" is not an adjective.
Ha! He's referring to this FCC opinion:
The complainants allege that the licensees named in their respective complaints aired the “Golden Globe Awards” program, during which the performer Bono uttered the phrase “this is really, really, fucking brilliant,” or “this is fucking great.”...

The word “fucking” may be crude and offensive, but, in the context presented here, did not describe sexual or excretory organs or activities. Rather, the performer used the word “fucking” as an adjective or expletive to emphasize an exclamation. Indeed, in similar circumstances, we have found that offensive language used as an insult rather than as a description of sexual or excretory activity or organs is not within the scope of the Commission’s prohibition of indecent program content.
"Fucking" can be an adjective, as in "You're a fucking crank," "Watch out for the fucking crab," or "I can't believe you're serving fucking corn again," but in the Bono boast, it's a fucking adverb.

Lighten up, it's just fashion.

Until it's not.

And here's the "I love Hitler" video that just couldn't be brushed away as drunken smack-talking.

"Rep. Holt beats Watson the super-computer at 'Jeopardy!'"

He's a Democrat — even though his first name is Rush — but he's not your run-of-the-mill Democrat: "He's a five-time "Jeopardy!" champion and a nuclear physicist..."

Congrats to Rush Holt! Or do you think the MSM is in the tank for the Dems and rigged this somehow?

"Unlike probably everyone else watching Charlie Sheen these days, we think this 'train wreck' (as some are calling it) is probably the best we've seen him..."

"... and (having mutual friends) we applaud him mightily for it. He looks and sounds more like his father than ever. His nothing-can-take-me-down attitude, in the face of this wimpy, middle class, wet rag nanny state finger-wagging opinion is winning. This is a man, owning his actions and insisting everyone else come clean and take responsibility for theirs as well.... [A]ll too often, we see too many powerful beta males in this country... We've become a cautious, conformist, inoffensive, non-risk taking, arrogant, lying bunch of NewAge pussies who think if any woman... says she or others don't approve, then some form of public contrition and apology is called for. Well, screw that. Neither she, or the public, are Charlie Sheen's mother and even if his parents disapprove, he's a grown-assed man who refuses to be a part of whatever milquetoast existence the rest of you think is good for gaining social approval from a worthless feminized culture-killing clique. He didn't ask for it, doesn't need it, and isn't angling for it. He's a man. He's rich. And he's free."

That's Crack Emcee, taking a macho look at Charlie Sheen.

It's funny, I was just saying to Meade that people don't rant against "conformity" anymore — not like they did in the 50s and 60s. What got me going wasn't Charlie Sheen. It was my Bloggingheads with Timothy Noah, which, for various reasons, made me think about the way liberals, including liberal media folk, talk to each other and feel emotional rewards for saying what they all say back and forth to each other. They become so immersed in this feeling of belonging that they don't even hear the things that are not the things that they've been saying back and forth to each other. And my question is: Why does that feel so good? Why doesn't that immersion feel like drowning? Why don't you want to surface into the air and be free — to think about everything, from any perspective, and to find out for yourself what is true and what is good? You are a human individual: Don't you want that?

I talk with Tim Noah about the Wisconsin protests and a few other things.

ADDED: Meade makes an accidental appearance a little after 41:00, and I cover him up with a sheet of paper.

February 28, 2011

At the Protest Café...


... come on, you can laugh a little.



The sunglasses.

Protesters at the Wisconsin Capitol — midday today — dealing with the fact that, at long last, they've been locked out.

Video by Meade, edited by me:

0:01 — an incomprehensible sign — "Ethics trumps 'values' — taped to the "Forward" statue.
0:40 — police food
0:49 — a 91-year-old woman in a wheelchair wants to kick Scott Walker's butt
1:13 — a woman asks to get in to talk to her representative
2:21 — a cop who was sent down from "north of Eau Claire" on his day off
3:25 — a "legal observer" who flew in from D.C. explains his function
5:02 — the protest has an "honor guard" — firefighters — and the crowd chants "let them in
6:17 — listen closely for "I lost a nut"
6:35 — Meade and I got a kick out of the reactions of that one firefighter
6:55 — one speaker edges toward incitement and back again
7:35 — "It's the chanting that shows how powerful we are in our voices."
8:23 — "Does anybody have a great idea?"
8:50 — I think he's told to tone it down
9:50 — a new chant

Jane Russell...

... has died, at the age of 89. I love her in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," and I'm choosing, for this tribute, the courtroom scene — in which she's impersonating Marilyn Monroe (for some elaborate reason). Her testimony includes physical evidence:

"The administration of Gov. Scott Walker abruptly locked out protesters from the Capitol on Monday morning..."

The NYT reports:
About 60 demonstrators who had slept in the statehouse overnight remained inside as of noon Monday, and they banged drums, sang and danced in the rotunda. They had access to restrooms and, given the dwindling size of the group, appeared to have a decent supply of food. There was no indication that the police were preparing to arrest or eject them, and several said in interviews that they had no intention of leaving.
Meade saw this in person today, took video which we'll have later, and will describe what he saw in the comments to this post.

It seems to me that the governor figured out a way to gradually and undramatically end the occupation of the Capitol.



(At the Wisconsin Capitol today.)

"Now they have one day to return to work before the state loses out on the chance to refinance debt, saving taxpayers $165 million this fiscal year."

Walker to the self-exiled Democrats.

"She was the most erotic thing I’d ever seen. She was fair skinned and golden haired, full-blood Italian. The air was suddenly filled with banana leaves."

"We started talking and my head started to spin. Cupid’s arrow had whistled past my ears before, but this time it hit me in the heart and the weight of it dragged me overboard."

Suze Rotolo has died.

"As time thinned the ranks of those long-ago U.S. veterans, the nation hardly noticed them vanishing, until the roster dwindled to one ex-soldier..."

Frank W. Buckles, the last American WWI veteran, has died at the age of 110. He "was born by lantern light in a Missouri farmhouse, quit school at 16 and bluffed his way into the Army."

"The fundamental theory of liberty... excludes any general power of the State to standardize its children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only."

"The child is not the mere creature of the State; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations."

Pierce v. Society of Sisters (1925).

That's a quote that always jumps out at my when I start into the right of privacy materials in Constitutional Law II, which is what I'm doing this afternoon. The state of Oregon required parents to send their children to public school, and the Supreme Court said they had a substantive due process right to pick private school.

What one Wisconsin legislator said to another after the budget vote: "You are f*cking dead."

Gordon Hintz (D) said it to Michelle Litjens (R).

(Via Alex, who notes the lack of press coverage.)

"U. of Wisconsin-Madison's Chancellor Defends Proposed Separation From System."

From the Chronicle of Higher Education:
In what many had predicted would be a contentious meeting of the system's Board of Regents, Carolyn A. (Biddy) Martin defended her support for a plan that would break the Madison campus away from the rest of the Wisconsin system, creating a new governing board and granting the flagship unique flexibility. The plan is expected to be part of a budget proposal Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, is set to unveil next week.

As currently understood, the proposal "would mean an extraordinary opportunity to combine self-reliance and oversight in a way that permits us to survive, even in the face of deep cuts," Ms. Martin told the regents, who called a special four-hour meeting to discuss the implications of Madison's potential separation.
Gov. Scott Walker... a Republican!

The Supreme Court rejects an assertion of a right under the Confrontation Clause — and the 2 dissenters are Ginsburg... and Scalia.

This was a case about the "excited utterances" exception to the hearsay rule of evidence. Richard Bryant, convicted of second degree murder, was identified in a statement made to the police. Justice Scalia writes:
The Framers could not have envisioned such a hollow constitutional guarantee. No framing-era confrontation case that I know of, neither here nor in England, took such an enfeebled view of the right to confrontation....

Judicial decisions, like the Constitution itself, are nothing more than "parchment barriers," 5 Writings of James Madison 269, 272 (G. Hunt ed. 1901). Both depend on a judicial culture that understands its constitutionally assigned role, has the courage to persist in that role when it means announcing unpopular decisions, and has the modesty to persist when it produces results that go against the judges' policy preferences. Today's opinion falls far short of living up to that obligation — short on the facts, and short on the law.

Erwin Chemerinsky says those other law schools are "remarkably resistant to change."

It's the Dean of the new UC-Irvine Law School, speaking at a "Future of Legal Education" symposium:
One reason schools are sticking with a familiar playbook: "It's a cost-effective method of education," Mr. Chemerinsky said. "Putting one professor in front of a large group of students is very efficient." Clinical classes and simulations, which require low student-to-faculty ratios, cost more, he said.

Because his own law school wasn't bound by decades of tradition, Mr. Chemerinsky said, he and the founding faculty members were able to do some things differently, like stressing hands-on, interdisciplinary study across all three years.

Asked by an audience member how the school could afford to do that, he answered, "It starts with having to charge ridiculous levels of tuition."
Chemerinsky made a funny. No report of the volume of the laughter in the room.

Nothing like using other people's money to play out your expansive, innovative ideas. Except clinics and simulations are very old ideas. Cf. "high-speed" rail.

God forbid we should do what's "cost-effective."

By the way, what is "hands-on, interdisciplinary study"? Do we get to fondle a sociologist? 

You know what I would love in a new school — one that "wasn't bound by decades of tradition"? A deliberate decision to embrace tradition. Let's get a bunch of tough Socratic lawprofs in front of a classroom of students. And that's it. Perfectly cost-effective. You can save money on admissions too by going old-school. Make it an old-fashioned GPA/LSAT meritocracy (and flunk them out if they don't perform).

If you're a prospective law student, do you want to go to my new traditionalist school or to Chemerinsky's place? Is that because the tuition will be way lower or because you think that would be a better education? If you're an employer of law grads, do you want New Traditionalist grads or Chemerinsky grads?

If I had to go to a law school, I'd pick:
Chemerinsky's Old Visionary Law School
Althouse's New Traditionalist Law School
Something more moderately in the middle free polls

"Well, it's pretty embarrassing when you can't even handle pirates."

Instapunditry on the reason for the "muted outcry in Washington" after pirates kill 4 Americans:
President Obama did not issue a statement on the tragedy. White House spokesman Jay Carney said that the administration was "obviously outraged by the actions of the pirates."

"And the president, as you know, I believe, has expressed his sincere condolences to the families of the victims," Carney said at a press briefing. "But beyond that, I don't want to get into details."
Obviously... What counts as "obvious" these days? Apparently nothing more that the assumption that he must feel bad about it, even when he says nothing.

New Media Meade to venture beyond Madison city limits to sample opinion in non-Madison, Wisconsin.

He wants to take the Flip camera and go where he can interview the Wisconsinite on the street about what they think of the doings in Madison.

If you're familiar with the area within an hour's drive of Madison, help NMM pick some good places to go. Name towns or spots within towns, and he may get there today.

The NYT strains to find a "victory" for the Wisconsin demonstrators.

Its story today begins:
In a victory — at least a symbolic one — for Wisconsin’s public employee unions, the Capitol authorities announced on Sunday that demonstrators could continue their all-night sleepovers in the building and would not be forcibly ejected or arrested.
Well, yes. A decision was made that it wasn't worth the drama to oust these people who've been clean and orderly enough. Plus, the police are — it seems to me — sympathetic to the protest. As for the GOP politicians who dominate the state government: Why would they want to make martyrs out of the folks who've worked so long and hard to demonstrate how strongly they care? They've been hanging out in the Capitol, enduring the cacophony of their own drumming and chanting and sleeping on the hard stone floor for 10+ days. They're punishing themselves. Why not let them suffer, unmolested, and continue to generate images that disturb the Wisconsinites who voted the Republicans into office 3 months ago?

"Now, that guy just hit me."

The hit isn't on camera, but we can see and hear that the Wisconsin protesters don't like Fox News.

"Even allies backpedal from Walker's extremism" says a headline in the Madison newspaper The Capital Times.

This is a political analysis piece written by the newspaper's editor Paul Fanlund, and I just can't figure out how the headline is justified. The piece begins with a cite to the NYT Magazine's profile of Chris Christie, which got me running over there to find out what Christie said about Walker. The author of that piece — Matt Bai — discusses Walker:
Now a new class of governors from both parties is promising to revisit union contracts in order to put their states on firmer fiscal ground. In Wisconsin, Scott Walker, an aggressive new Republican governor, just proposed legislation that would limit the rights of public workers to collectively bargain. “You can’t have one group who are the haves,” Walker told me recently, meaning government workers, “and one group, the private-sector workers, who are the have-nots.” Walker’s move led to protests in Madison, drawing President Obama into the debate and raising the prospect of French-style labor uprisings among public workers across America.
In part, the viral movement against public-sector unions is a result of political necessity. In states all over the country, balancing the budget has become an annual exercise in Copperfield-like illusion...
I don't see Christie backing away from Walker.

(And as for Matt Bai's "drawing President Obama into the debate" — I think Obama is keeping his distance!)

February 27, 2011

New Media Meade catches protesters leaving the Capitol and the scene outside — including the scoop from police that anyone who wants to stay will be allowed.

Video by Meade, edited by me — all done today...

0:01 — People line the front walk of the State Street exit to the Capitol, preparing to honor the protesters who file out after the building is closed, as promised, at 4 p.m.

0:30 — Protesters file out to the chant of "Thank You... Thank You..."

1:45 — Meade asks a man with an "Ask Gandhi" sign if he's Gandhi.

2:13 — People lined up as if to ring the perimeter of the Capitol and sing "We will be peaceful, we will be strong."

3:16 — Dane County Sheriff's deputies tell Meade that no one will be arrested and, in fact, anyone who doesn't leave will be allowed to stay. They'll just have to get out of the way when the floor scrubbers come through.

4:53 — Meade talks to the woman with the "Greedy Obfuscating Plutocrats" sign.

5:35 — And older man questions the woman's ideological credentials.

6:24 — "What is a legal observer?"

7:02 — "Unions are hot."

Oscars, anyone?

I haven't seen any of the movies, but I'm DVR-ing the show and will dip in from time to time. You can talk about it here and I might say something now and then.

For example, Jennifer Hudson has a smashing dress.

UPDATE: Man, this show sucks so bad.

UPDATE2: I'm IM-ing with my son Chris. I write: "is any celebrity saying anything pro-union or in support of the wisconsin protesters?" And he's all:
haven't heard anything

oh gwyneth paltrow mentioned you

in the middle of the song

she stopped and said you know ann althouse

needs to stop criticizing those protestors

Meade is new media.

The police want to make ordinary people wait in line, while media gets right in. Meade says he's "new media." He's with "the Althouse blog." And watch for the indications that the police are on the protesters' side.

"All these people have decided that they are working with us to help with their protest. We're not keeping..."

"You're helping the protesters?"

"We're not keeping you from protesting. We're helping to keep the peace."

Ending the Capitol protest.

Right now it's 4:00 and the building is about to be cleared. You can watch the live stream here. [UPDATE: Off line now.]

Fisheying the protest yesterday:



ADDED: We should have our own pictures from the scene in a little while.

AND: Meade brought home the video, handed me the cameras, and said "I almost got myself arrested." He's out shoveling snow, while I'm uploading the video to see what he was talking about.

MORE: I've seen and edited the video. I'm just processing it out of iMovie and into YouTube. It's funny the second time you watch it! It looks like a Michael Moore-like thing... attempting to get past the police into the building. Actually, he's doing what I did yesterday, which worked to get us both right in.

ALSO: Based on Meade's interview with Dane County Sheriff deputies, I don't think anyone will be arrested. The people who don't opt to leave will be left alone, except to the extent that the cleaning crew will be working around them.

"If the police evacuate the building, will I leave when asked, or will I refuse respectfully?"

The handout of advice for the Wisconsin protesters... as 4 p.m. approaches.

Who invited Peter Yarrow to the Wisconsin protests? And why was he the only entertainer on the bill?

Where were all the rest of the supposedly passionate lefties of the entertainment world?

I'm embarrassed for bloggers like Eric Kleefeld who murmur appreciation for Yarrow:
Folk singer Peter Yarrow -- of "Peter, Paul and Mary" fame -- played some politically themed tunes such as "If I Had A Hammer," "Which Side Are You On," "Blowin' In The Wind" and more, and spoke of his hopes that the current crisis in Madison would reawaken in people the urge to achieve social justice that animated people during the civil rights movement. And like his audience, Yarrow often worked "Kill The Bill" and other slogans into the lyrics. (Nostalgia for my childhood made me wish for "Puff The Magic Dragon," but I suppose it wasn't germane.)
Oh, yeah, it's so sweet that he entertained children with his magic dragon. If you know what I mean. And I think you do. As Meade wrote over there in the comments:
Imagine the outcry in major media and the lefty blogosphere if the Tea Party invited to sing at one of their rallies someone who had committed and was convicted of [making sexual advances toward] a 14 year-old and got a light sentence of 3 months because he had friends in high places who used their influence on his behalf.
I wanted to dig up the old NYT report of Jimmy Clinton's Carter's beneficence toward the entertainer of children, and I stumbled across this interesting bit from a review of Robert Shrum's "Concessions of a Serial Campaigner":
Shrum relates the campaign's collective sigh of relief when the networks declined to show footage of Kerry at an Iowa party jokingly miming a toke while Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary sang ''Puff the Magic Dragon''....
How nice — how typical — of the reporters to help the Democratic candidate. Here's something about Yarrow. Anyway, why wasn't there someone more impressive who wanted to be seen at yesterday's rally? Why Yarrow? And why not some better celebrities from the entertainment and political worlds?
Yarrow followed 13-year-old Sam Frederick of Wauwatosa, who wrote an anti-Walker protest song for the occasion and led the crowd in singing it. In between, organizers shoveled snow off the outdoor stage.

The "not official UW Marching Band" — tuba and trumpet blaring — played standards like "If You Want to Be a Badger" and the chicken song...
Man, that's small time! And look at how lame it was. Meade recorded this half a block from the stage:

In another part of the recording, when I first hear it, I say: "Is Cat Stevens here? This guy needs to project a little more."

Why weren't there better celebrities? Perhaps there are inside polls on how this protest is playing out around the country and people don't want their names dragged into it.

Google is becoming human: It responded to a search by telling a joke!

There's a man with a sign that reads "Egypt, Libya/Madison, Wisconsin/Civil Unrest Is Best" and a lady with a doggie.

There's some NSFW language at the 50 second point. Meade took this video yesterday at the big protest march:

Althouse and Meade return to the Veterans Memorial and encounter apologetic protesters, the police, and a rudeness expert.

I took this video yesterday — Saturday, February 26th — at the Wisconsin Capitol building. Meade wanted to go back to see if the protesters had followed through on their promise to remove their things from the Veterans Memorial. The signs that had been taped to the back of the monument were gone, but there was still a lot of junk piled up against it.

The police we encounter didn't want to consult with us on camera, though I do get a clear "no" when I ask if it is against the law to photograph the police. Off camera, they are extremely articulate and professional explaining why the police are allowing the protest and occupation of the Capitol to go on the way it has.

A woman who does not have a Wisconsin accent noses in to tell me I'm "rude" to take pictures.

I say: "Let me ask you a question about 'rudeness.' This is a Veterans Memorial, for people who died in the war. These are all things..."

The rudeness expert interrupts me: "They do things for democracy, which is what we're trying to save right now."

I say: "What would you say to people that are..." And she's turned her back on me and walked away. The rudeness expert.

She had her point and she made it: The memorialized veterans "do things for democracy." That's a poor use of the present tense. They did "things." They died. They fought and they died. But what's important "right now" — according to her — is that the protesters are "trying to save" democracy.

I didn't get to ask follow-up questions, but I think her point was to equate the protesters to the veterans and to make that a justification for piling sleeping bags and all sorts of junk up against the monument. I didn't get to ask how trying to undo the results of the last election is an effort to "save democracy," and, obviously, she wasn't interested in having a conversation with me.

This is what civility looks like...