April 9, 2011

Saturday at the protest.

On State Street, in Madison, today:

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(All today's pics: here.)

Sidney Lumet, RIP.

He directed many movies, but 2 are iconic, with some of the most memorable, emotional scenes ever.

1. "Dog Day Afternoon."



Attica! Attica!

2. "Network."



I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore.

***

Here's the NYT obit. Lumet was 86 and died of lymphoma.

At the Protest Dog Café...

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... unmuzzle and yelp.

It is time for you to stop all of your sobbing.

I hear Meade playing the Garnet Mimms version of "Cry Baby," and after a conversation that I will discuss below, I ask him why he was playing that. He pointed to this comment by Kirby Olson in the "Nate Silver does the math" post:
I wonder if anybody else remembers the Garnett Mimms hit, Cry Cry Baby, that briefly lit the charts in about what 1964? Janis Joplin later covered it, but Garnett Mimms had such a wonderful range in his voice. Mimms is still alive, but I bet he can't still sing like he did then. What an athletic, operatic voice for lovely rock. We should turn it on for all our Democratic friends who have come home crying that they lost again.
People do need to grieve when they've lost, but an invitation to cry coming from the winners is more of a taunt. And I've spent so many nights, reading comments on this blog, and so many times, lefties have countered the complaints of righties by saying things like "whine and bitch, whine and bitch," "call the wahmbulance," and "waaaaaaahh." It's meant to rub it in, and it's not Mimmsy at all.

But what I said to Meade was I remember when that song — and I mean the Garnet Mimms version — was on the radio. It was 1963. I was 12. I listened to top 40 AM radio, and I liked the songs that felt like they were about teenagers. There was a brightness and a happiness to the songs that dominated the top 40. Even the songs about crying. The biggest song about crying in 1963 was "It's My Party." Lesley Gore is gloriously triumphant in her claim of the right to cry.

"Cry Baby" seemed to come from a dreary 1950s world of old people and their problems. Meade says he loved music like that. Maybe that look into the weighty, complicated lives of adults was enticing to some really young radio listeners, but I wanted it on a different station. Here, I said, here's my answer to that "Cry Baby":



I love the original Kinks version too, and you'd better believe I had all the early Kinks albumsKinks, Kinda Kinks, and Kinks Kontroversy. I still love that kind of [kinda] thing. It still appeals to me more than the anguished bellyaching of soul music.

***

Bonus: "Best Songs About Crying."

"Don’t run away from the issue, Planned Parenthood. Own it!"

Says Glenn Reynolds, modeling his "I had an abortion" T-shirt. Would that work? I think the pro-choice side is well-advised to take care of the feelings of those who believe abortion is murder. What is accomplished, on this issue, by forcing people to confront something they find so horrible and are never going to accept?

Here's the ad he's talking about.  One thing that seems odd to me is that if you emphasize the importance of government funding for "women's health" more generally — with talk about cancer screenings and STDs — then how do you explain the gender bias? Why should we be all fired up about women's health and not men's health? Is there a special role of government in taking care of women? Why? The sex discrimination is only legitimate if it's based on the real physical difference: the capacity of women to grow new human beings inside their bodies.

Ironically, if you support abortion rights, it is probably because you think a woman's body is her own sovereign domain, and government should stay out of it. But government wants in. Society wants in. One way or another.

John Fund on the Wisconsin Supreme Court election: "an independent investigation is called for..."

In the Wall Street Journal:
An independent investigation is called for, if for no other reason than to clear the air and to recommend procedures to ensure such errors don't happen again. Just as many Wisconsin officials have ignored or downplayed evidence of vote fraud (see the Milwaukee Police Department's 2008 detailed investigation) so too have sloppy election procedures been allowed to fester in some counties.

If the mistake was innocent, it resulted from a lack of transparency.... [T]his should be a wake-up call for the state's election officials. It's time that Wisconsin update its election laws for the 21st century. Ideas from both major parties -- ranging from Democratic suggestions that county clerks not be elected as partisan officials to GOP objections to the practice of allowing voters to register and vote at the same time on Election Day -- should be on the table.
Translation: Republicans should embrace and leverage the Democrats' fears.

April 8, 2011

Shutdown averted.

"... more spending cuts for Republicans while giving Democrats a key win on an issue related to abortion rights..."

We heard about the 4:30 rally at the top of State Street and got there in time to hear a couple speakers try to rile up the crowd...



... Should Wisconsin have to "worry about being an international human rights violation, having conditions where the U.N. should intervene"? The crowd looks forlorn, and the speaker calls for a march around the square.

Meade and I go clockwise as the march goes counter-clockwise so we catch the front as it streams by chanting "We're not going away." A woman near young children wears a sweatshirt that says, in large block letters "Fuck Walker." There are lots of "Integrity" signs, including in the hands of some young guys who stop to interrogate Meade.

The guy in the fedora says "I'm just a citizen admiring another citizen's ability to be out in public." A man walking by points to Meade and calls him "a right-wing agitator." I question the fedora guy about his "costume."

We catch up to a small demonstration that appears to be the unionized crew from "Legally Blonde" (the show playing at the Overture Center nearby). They've got a new chant: "The people, ripped off/Are gonna get pissed off." Sweeping in from the side are marchers chanting: "Hey hey ho ho/These right-wing tricks have got to go."

There's a shot of me photographing the Segway-riding protester, and then a dog comes along. Meade gets down to pet him, and the owner tells us he's a Basset-Beagle mix, his name is Joey, and "This is what dogmocracy looks like." There's a bit more, and then it's time to go.

(Video by Meade, edited by me.)

Today's low-key protest, with lots of preprinted signs that said "Integrity" and "No Games."

We saw a couple speakers attempting to infame the small crowd with suspicions about the Supreme Court election, but the people seemed resigned and grim....

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The subsequent march around the square stimulated conversation and a natural smile...

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Some young guys with integrity signs accost Meade and interrogate him about his "angle"...

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"It's not over until we say it's over," says a sign, quoting the movie "Animal House"....

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Here are all 58 of today's photographs. I've also got a 5-minute video, coming soon.

"In 1981, 27-year-old Joseph Paul Jernigan shot and stabbed the man who discovered him stealing a microwave oven."

"Jernigan was sentenced to death, and a prison chaplain convinced him to donate his body to science. Thirty years on, 1871 slices of his body are animated on a laptop screen and photographed on a long exposure in various dark locations, reconstructing Jernigan as the subject of a haunting new project."

"Schumer likens conservatives to a flea."

I'm sorry. Am I not paying enough attention to the budget crisis? Do I need to show that I care? Well... so... here: "Schumer likens conservatives to a flea."

An inconvenient knee.

You know the pic does look pretty fake. But that knee!

Tea Drawings.

"Tea bag + index card + ink."

US News Weighs Request to Add the Most Freakishly Manipulable Measure to Law School Rankings.

Weigh well, o wise ones, ye who determine the hierarchy of legal academia. 

ADDED: Under the equal protection case law, we'll need to say our race discrimination is narrowly tailored to serve a compelling state interest. Surely, maintaining our U.S. News rank is compelling, right?

Climbing Hyperion, the world's tallest tree.

379 feet 4 inches. Amazing... that it's that tall.... and that a man can climb it....



ADDED: In other tree-climbing news:
A tree-climbing bandit attempting to break into a Brooklyn home Thursday died after a branch snapped and sent him plummeting to the ground... 

Nate Silver does the math.

"There is no evidence that Waukesha County’s revised vote count is unusually high, whereas there is some evidence that its original vote count was unusually low."

Massive detail at the NYT link.

"I do think I’m in love with you when I’m with you."

"But it’s awfully hard for me to stay in love with someone when I only see them every three months and when the only contact I have with them is through letters."

An interesting, early — 1947 — use of "them" for "him," from Jacqueline Lee Bouvier, writing, when she was 16, to a beau who was not JFK.

"But this is what happens when judges don't judge."

"When you treat everyone as equally awesome, weird results will happen."

Election law blogger Rick Hasen says only Republicans cry fraud... and then must take it back.

Yesterday, Hasen wrote:
Here's what I expect: With Prosser in the lead, the claims of fraud on the Republican side will stop. The Democrats will not raise claims of fraud even if they contest the election.

UPDATE: I already may need to take back the last part of this post: looks like Dems may soon start playing fraud card in WI Sup Ct race, focusing on the clerk who found the lost votes.
How simple life would be if your side stuck to neutral principles and the other side kept cranking out evidence of hypocrisy.

But let's be honest. This isn't really about hypocrisy and neutrality. It's about short-term and long-term interests. In any given race, the loser is hoping to change the outcome. So short term, whoever is down might want to go looking for fraud. Whoever is up is going to want to freeze the outcome right there. Long term, it's a different matter. We can see that the 2 parties have assessed their interests and the Republicans, for whatever reason, think the fraud issue works for them. Democrats want to say what Hasen said in that Politco column of his: that fraud is a bogus issue.

You can try to puzzle out why the 2 parties have assessed their long-term interests that way. It might be that there really is fraud, and it's predominantly on the Democrat side, and that's why Republicans want to expose it, and Democrats want to keep it covered up. It could be something else. Maybe Republicans think that it stirs up their people to get them fretting about how corrupt Democrats are, or they think that vigilance about fraud will deter some Democratic voters from trying to vote. Republicans might want to win support for photo ID requirements, with the ulterior motive that people with problems getting IDs tend to vote for Democrats. You can extrapolate the corresponding long-term-interest analysis on the Democratic side.

If the Democrats cry fraud in the Kloppenburg race, it simply means that the short-term interests are strong enough to overcome the usual long-term interests.

"I am just about to go crazy today. I just can't seem to escape the 'gay caveman' story."

Oh! The tribulations of paleoanthropology blogging. UW professor John Hawks must hit the ground running when news breaks from the Stone Bronze Age. The news folk are after him for an academic opinion and he says: "Dudes! I could be wrong, but I think that to have a 'gay caveman', you need a skeleton that is both gay and a caveman. And this ain't either!"

IN THE COMMENTS: Maguro said:
So it's probably not a gay caveman after all, merely a Bronze Age Bea Arthur.

What a letdown.
EDH said:
We have rare prehistoric video!

Justice Prosser: "I like to think that I have survived a nuclear firestorm of criticism and attack and smear."

"So as far as I'm concerned if these results hold up I will be the winner. My opponent has the right to call for a recount and have the state pay for that recount if it is within a certain level. But, if you get up over 7,000 votes that's serious business, that's not likely to be overcome."

He was on Fox News talking to Greta Van Susteren last night.

Looking for that, I ran across this Crooks and Liars post, dated April 5th, complaining about Prosser appearing on Greta's show the night before the election. The blogger, John Amato, states a principle of ethics that you know damned well he wouldn't apply generally. Keep in mind that both Prosser and Kloppenburg were invited onto the show, and Kloppenburg declined. Here's Amato:
I think it's inappropriate and unethical for Fox News to have candidates for public office on the night before an election, because it's a clear attempt to manipulate the election results. Prosser gets to throw bricks at Kloppenburg for free -- including defending himself on accusations that he failed to prosecute a child-abusing priest...
Greta brought up the dirty story of Prosser calling the Chief Justice of the Wisconsin court a "bitch' and threatening to "destroy her". Watch how [Greta] phrases the events. Calling the Chief Justice a bitch is not as bad as having somebody snitch on you. ya know. It was all a TRAP to ensnare him! Right.
So... Prosser got a chance to defend himself from the vicious attacks, and no one was there to push back from the attack side, because Kloppenburg didn't have the nerve to enter the scary enemy territory that is the Greta Van Susteren show. And in Amato's view that is "inappropriate and unethical." Ridiculous.

"For a small group of people—perhaps just 1% to 3% of the population—sleep is a waste of time."

"'Short sleepers'...typically turn in well after midnight, then get up just a few hours later and barrel through the day without needing to take naps or load up on caffeine."

"For people who keep saying they don't want a government shutdown, Washington's warring parties are sure acting like they can't wait for it to happen."

"Since the policy stakes of this particular drama are so low, we can only assume this showdown is about Democrats and Republicans proving their relative political manhood."

Says the Wall Street Journal, leaning on the Republicans.

April 7, 2011

Pia.

Seeya.

Let's put the blame where it belongs: on Gwen Stefani. If it weren't for that jumpsuit, we'd have been relieved of Stefano.

And, Iggy... no. That did not work. I love you, but I don't think America understands.

At the Kloppenburg Kafé...



... you can believe anything you want to believe.

(Photoshop by Jason.)

Meade asks a Kloppenburg supporter 6 questions.

Today, at the Capitol:

"David Prosser gained 7,582 votes in Waukesha County..."

"... after a major counting error of Brookfield results was detected, County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus announced in a stunning development this afternoon."

Who knows if that's the end of the back-and-forth between Prosser and Kloppenburg, but at this point it looks decisive for Prosser.

AND: Nickolaus said:
"I'm thankful that this error was caught early in the process. This is not a case of extra ballots being found. This is human error which I apologize for, which is common," Nickolaus said, her voice wavering as she spoke to reporters.
It's interesting to go back and look at Kloppenburg declaring victory yesterday:



"How do you feel comfortable declaring victory when the margin is so thin...?" Ah, yes.

ALSO: On election night, I was watching Waukesha and noted the problem:
UPDATE, 11:35: Concentrating on the AP numbers, looking at which counties still need to report, I'm irritated by the way Waukesha (strong for Prosser) and Dane (strong for Kloppenburg) seem to be holding out, like it's a game of chicken. Right now the candidates are 50-50%, with Prosser up 6,000+. It's been seesawing back and forth, with Kloppenburg up some of the time. To my eye, it looks as though there are more votes left to report in the places that are pro-Prosser, so I think in the end Prosser will squeak by.
UPDATE, 11:43: Dane (Madison's county) is nearly all in. I don't see how Kloppenburg can net more than about 3,000 with what's left of Dane. Waukesha is now shown as completely in, but the numbers didn't change, so I think something may have been misreported. I took the trouble to do a calculation and was going to predict that Prosser would net 40,000 more votes in Waukesha. What happened?

Let's talk about Trump.

He's second only to Mitt in a recent poll. But there's no way he can be the nominee. What's going on? Name recognition? An early-in-the-game spirit of fun? I don't know, but he's in it now enough that he'll be listened to and included in the debates, and he can say whatever he wants until the moment arrives when he throws his support over to some realistic candidate. Meanwhile, we've got him stirring up the old birther issue, going where candidates who must coddle their credibility dare not go.

Apparently, Justice Prosser won the election!

According to the latest count. The AP tally that everyone was looking at had the Winnebago County number wrong:
Winnebago County's numbers say Prosser received 20,701 votes to Kloppenburg's 18,887. The AP has 19,991 for Prosser to Kloppenburg's 18,421.

The new numbers would give Prosser 244 more votes, or a 40-vote lead statewide.
ADDED: I wonder if the concept of fraud is suddenly much more appealing to certain people.

UPDATE: Whoa!

"Obama seems stunned that someone might actually *need* a larger vehicle rather than using it as a status symbol."

Obama said "You may have a big family, but it probably isn’t that big."

Maybe the unspoken message is: Having more kids than will fit in a small car is a decision that high gas prices effectively disincentivize.

"First homosexual caveman found."

How do you figure out that a skeleton is gay? The body was buried "with its head pointing eastwards and surrounded by domestic jugs, rituals only previously seen in female graves."

Knee socks?

View pic before taking poll.

Knee socks? On a grown woman?
Yes, there are many ways to wear knee socks charmingly.
Yes, if you're just the right person, with just the right style, like her.
Yes, but only if your skirt is super-long and no one can see they're not tights.
No. This is bad. Stop kidding yourself, ladies.
  
pollcode.com free polls

Wendy Kaminer "can't find feminism" in the charges of sexual harassment aimed at Yale...

"... at least not if feminism includes independence, liberty, and power for women."
 Instead I find femininity -- the assumption that women are incapable of fending for themselves in the marketplace of epithets or ideas, the belief that women are rendered helpless by misogynist speech and the sexist tantrums of their male peers....

What accounts for such feminine timidity, this instinctive unwillingness or inability to talk or taunt back, without seeking the protection of university or government bureaucrats?...

Decades ago, when Catherine [sic] MacKinnon, Andrea Dworkin, and their followers began equating pornography with rape (literally) and calling it a civil-rights violation, groups of free-speech feminists fought back, in print, at conferences, and in state legislatures, with some success. We won some battles (and free speech advocates in general can take solace in the Supreme Court's recent decision upholding the right to engage in offensive speech on public property and public affairs). But all things considered (notably the generations of students unlearning liberty) we seem to be losing the war, especially among progressives.

"Justice Kagan's First Dissent."

I admired it myself (for the nicely clear writing), but the Atlantic's Andrew Cohen is downright fawning?
She was even willing to spend some time offering a "hypothetical" to make her point -- just like they taught her at Harvard Law School. Justice Kagan wrote:
Our taxpayer standing cases have declined to distinguish between appropriations and tax expenditures for a simple reason: Here, as in many contexts, the distinction is one in search of a difference. To begin to see why, consider an example far afield from Flast and, indeed, from religion. Imagine that the Federal Government decides it should pay hundreds of billions of dollars to insolvent banks in the midst of a financial crisis. Suppose, too, that many millions of taxpayers oppose this bailout on the ground (whether right or wrong is immaterial) that it uses their hard-earned money to reward irresponsible business behavior. In the face of this hostility, some Members of Congress make the following proposal: Rather than give the money to banks via appropriations, the Government will allow banks to subtract the exact same amount from the tax bill they would otherwise have to pay to the U. S. Treasury. Would this proposal calm the furor? Or would most taxpayers respond by saying that a subsidy is a subsidy (or a bailout is a bailout), whether accomplished by the one means or by the other? Surely the latter; indeed, we would think the less of our countrymen if they failed to see through this cynical proposal.
Well, that is really spiffily written, but I don't see enthusing about her being "even willing to spend some time" writing it. Settle down, Andy. But you see why he's excited, don't you? It's been so demoralizing to liberals to have Justice Scalia writing readable, quotable dissents all these years while the other side of the Court has been so... boring.

"Bloggers Challenge President on Standardized Testing."

The NYT reports:
Mr. Obama criticized “high-stakes” tests last week at a town-hall-style meeting, contrasting them with less-pressured tests his daughters took in their Washington private school....
Anthony Cody, a teacher in Oakland, Calif., who writes a blog for Education Week, suggested that the president was disavowing the policies of his education secretary, Arne Duncan, which include expanding student testing to evaluate teachers and developing new tests to be given several times a year to measure student progress.

“All these changes RAISE the stakes on the tests, for teachers and for schools,” Mr. Cody wrote in a blog post, following an earlier post titled “If only the Department of Education could hear this guy Obama, boy, they would have to rethink their approach!”

... [A]nother blogger, Deborah Meier, a senior scholar at New York University’s education school, [wrote] “In reality the government is paying people to invent more bubble tests”...
The NYT makes an article about bloggers making an issue out of something the mainstream press had ignored, and the article only contains one link to one of the blogs it has mined for material.

Meanwhile, the article is festooned with links — on words like "Malia" and "Sasha" — that go to a NYT page full of links to other NYT articles about on that topic. It looks like they don't understand how people read on the web, or more likely, that they are trying to manipulate us into random poking around inside the NYT, upping their page-view count for their own purposes. To be fair, the one blog post they link to collects the links to the various blogs they've talked about in the article. Oddly, that blog post links back to the NYT article that linked to it.

Ah, no. I see! They just link to Anthony Cody's blog, and not the 2 posts that their hyperlinked text refers to. The top post is a new post about the NYT article, and it provides all the links that were missing in the NYT article. Ugh! NYT, get your linking right! If you're talking about blog posts, link to each specific blog post. And get rid of those idiot links on words that go to your own search pages!

I know, I linked to the NYT. I did that because I'm honest about showing my own entry point. I wouldn't have read Cody's blog otherwise. From his top post:
The Obama campaign relied on the energy of millions of us, activated by a call to our hopes and dreams. We were exhausted by eight years of Bush, seven years of No Child Left Behind, and Obama promised a fresh start. We have not seen that fresh start in education. Instead we are seeing a deep entrenchment on the part of the Department of Education, finding ever more creative ways to pretend that making the tests more frequent will somehow make them benign. Those of us who are experiencing the effects of these policies are not deceived. We see how they are destroying schools, and stealing opportunities from children....
Last week, President Obama reminded us all why his election gave many of us so much hope. In 338 words he spoke of how he wanted his daughters, Sasha and Malia, to have their learning tested. He described a low-stakes, low pressure environment, with the results used not to punish them, their teachers or their school, but simply to find out what their strengths are, and where they might need extra support. He spoke of the need to avoid teaching to the test, and the value of engaging projects that would make students excited about learning. President Obama has made sure his daughters can learn this way. If only Department of Education policies would allow students in our public schools this same privilege!

Don't talk about fraud! Fraud?! There is no fraud! Pay no attention to those... those... those... frauders!

Lawprof Richard L. Hasen, author of the Election Law Blog, has a column in Politico:
A recount in [the Wisconsin Supreme Court] race... seems inevitable, and it is not clear who will ultimately take the seat on the Wisconsin bench. But if this expensive and nasty race ends up in protracted litigation, it could undermine public confidence in both the judiciary and Wisconsin’s electoral process, especially if, as I expect, supporters of Prosser raise ugly allegations of voter fraud....
Don't dare say fraud!
While the fraud allegations [in various recent elections] remain stuck in the public’s mind, no proof of any systemic fraud has been unearthed. Instead, close examination of elections show, time and again, that our election systems are not perfect – but this is due to human error and not fraud....

[I]f the Wisconsin Supreme Court race goes into extra innings, I expect things to become especially contentious and partisan. 
To become contentious and partisan? It's been ridiculously contentious and partisan here in Wisconsin since mid-February. It's hard to understand why the Republicans should stand down now. Prosser was way ahead and would have easily won if Democrats hadn't turned what was supposed to be a nonpartisan election into a referendum on the Republican governor they hate. It took Prosser a long time to realize he had to fight like a politician and not just sit quietly modeling traditional judicial demeanor. Outrageous, dirty politics was played against the old jurist, and he had little idea what to do about it. Now, his advocates are supposed to play nice so things won't get ugly? We've been in uglyville since February.
If Kloppenburg can eke out a victory, I wouldn’t be surprised if Prosser supporters play the fraud card. Professor Ann Althouse already raised the specter of fraud in her final post on election results last night. I am sure that others will trumpet now-discredited allegations of voter fraud in Wisconsin, especially about alleged fraud in heavily Democratic and minority communities.
Now discredited? See, that's the meme among Democrats. There is no fraud. You're not even supposed to talk about "[t]he possibility of some fraud" — which was the phrase I used in my 11:55 p.m. post on election night. Note that I wasn't even making an accusation. I was just trying to sign off and go to bed. Let the day's own trouble be sufficient for the day. But the mere mention of fraud triggers the reaction: Don't talk about fraud! Fraud?! There is no fraud! Everybody knows there is no fraud, and anybody who mentions it is, by that mere mention, an agent of discord and deceit. This is an effort to delegitimatize the very interest in the problem of fraud. I expect a label to emerge, a label like "birther." Ugh! She's a frauder.
In the last decade, the now-defunct Americans for Voting Rights focused on such spurious and grossly exaggerated claims out of Wisconsin, which Lorraine Minnite has methodically debunked. But that won’t stop the allegations from resurfacing, and be taken credibly by those who want to believe it.

It is the voters of Wisconsin and those who depend upon the state supreme court’s system of impartial justice who are sure to suffer. 
So... because past claims of fraud have been "methodically debunked" — have they? — we should stop even looking for fraud? We'll only suffer if we keep checking for cheaters? This sounds way too preemptive to me. I've spent the last 2 months in a vortex of political ugliness and saw it grafted onto the judicial election. I saw frantically impassioned protesters grasping at the symbolism of this election and building an intense shared feeling of entitlement to shift the politics of this state. I heard the phrase "by any means necessary" more than once.

In this context, Prosser proponents have every right to drag us through the search for fraud one more time. I hope they don't find it, and Professor Hasen can add this new example to his next there-is-no-fraud column. But there's a 204 vote margin in this crazy election. We need to feel confident that the outcome is correct.

UPDATE: Hey, suddenly Prosser is ahead in the vote tally. I wonder if the fraud poo-pooers are singing a different tune now.

April 6, 2011

"The threat to Medicare is a big reason why [voters] reject Obamacare."

"So the GOP strategy is to replace Medicare with something that looks a lot like the private insurance exchanges in Obamacare. Huh?"

"This is a typical example of the way nervous modern folk turn normal behavior into a disease."

"I think they're diseased."

"The members of our 2011 list of wealthiest fictional characters have an average net worth of $9.7 billion..."

"... up 20% from last year."

Related: "Why so Few Women on the Forbes Fictional 15?"
Our fictional reporters — the best in the business — have worked hard to rectify the gender imbalance, even breaking Fictional 15 rules against folkloric characters (the Tooth Fairy appeared on the 2010 list), but the gap persists.... What do you think is going on here?
I'd say they're not getting equal pay for equal... evil.

"I checked with my Lord and Savior - Satan - and he told me that he doesn't want Matt to win."

Ha ha.

"I like the president personally. We get along well. But the president isn’t leading."

"He didn’t lead on last year’s budget, and he clearly isn’t leading on this year’s budget."

Said House Speaker John Boehner today. Later, he met with the President and Harry Reid at the White House, and, per Boehner, "We made some progress... But I want to reiterate there’s no agreement."

(NYT link.)

Qaddafi to Obama: "Despite all this you will always remain our son whatever happened."

"We still pray that you continue to be president of the U.S.A. .... Our dear son, Excellency, Baraka Hussein Abu oumama, your intervention is the name of the U.S.A. is a must, so that Nato would withdraw finally from the Libyan affair. Libya should be left to Libyans within the African union frame."

Like "watching a traffic pile-up occur in slow motion - repelling but also transfixing."

That's a description of the John Edwards sex tape, quoted in an article that also says Edwards is "absolutely despondent over the fear of prison" and has lost 20 pounds.

"Those red chairs in the background? 'Orange Slice,' designed by Pierre Paulin in 1960, produced by the Dutch furniture maker Artifort."

Says Palladian, commenting on the chairs you can barely see in the "woodland computer" post just below. I said I had some better views of the chairs, which you can see — and sit in — at the University of Wisconsin—Madison, at Town Center of the beautiful now Institutes for Discovery.

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(Enlarge.)

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(Enlarge.)

"Kloppenburg declares victory."

"' I look forward to bringing new blood to the Supreme Court and focusing my energy on the important work Wisconsin residents elect Supreme Court justices to do.'"

And the Prosser campaign launches the "Prosser Victory Fund."
"After a challenging battle... [t]he likely next step is a recount, requiring resources to protect the integrity of the ballots cast and deliver a win...."

Bruesewitz...

... gets a haircut.

With all precincts reporting, Kloppenburg holds a 204 vote edge.

Results here.

At your woodland computer...

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... you can cavort with all the creatures of the virtual forest.

"'I know his songs from karaoke, but I'm really not that familiar with him,' said advertising executive Yin Yang, 24."

"'Still I think this was a historic concert and I'm glad I've seen him.'"

Bob Dylan played the Worker's Gymnasium in Beijing today.

He purportedly submitted his play list to government approval. How absurd for the government officials to imagine that concertgoers would understand the lyrics, which are hard to hear in concert even when English is your first language and you already know the lyrics from the records. What's the big deal about Dylan's "protest" songs in China anyway? They're almost entirely aimed at the United States.

ADDED: A reader emails:
My wife has booked a few acts into China and had to spend a few days translating American standards (let's say the Pinna Colada Song) into Chinese for the lyric permission. It is true that the nominal reason is to reject anti-revolutionary sentiments. But I think the real reason is to grease the palms of the literal 15 different minor officials you have to get to sign off on booking a concert tour.

Glenn Beck will "transition off" Fox News.

Announced just now.

Only 1 county left to report in the Wisconsin Supreme Court race, and I calculate that Prosser will fall 137 votes short of tying.

Here are the updated results, just in. Prosser needs 225 more votes to win by 1 vote. The one precinct left is in Jefferson County, and my calculation predicts Prosser will pick up 89 votes there. Not enough.

(My calculation assumes the last precinct has the same number of voters as the average in the other Jefferson County precincts and that the relative popularity of Prosser and Kloppenburg is the same as the rest of the county. This prediction method worked well in predicting what would happen with a couple other late-reporting counties.)

UPDATE: All reports in.

"It may take more than a month before any recount would even start" in the Wisconsin Supreme Court election.

"The Government Accountability Board has until May 15 to complete its canvas of the vote. No date has been set for the board to canvas the vote, which is dependent upon when the counties submit their results to GAB."

Settle in, people. It'll be just like the never-ending election night of 2000. Except that it's not a presidential election. It's just a state election. For a judge. How perfectly weird to get so intensely caught up in this matter. It got way too symbolic. Let's try to untangle the unresolved election from all the other things it had come to signify for us.

First, let's dispose of the "referendum on Walker" notion. Yesterday's voting did not produce anything that can be translated into a renouncement of last November's election. We can see that the people of Wisconsin are pretty evenly divided between conservatives and liberals, so we can't say that Walker and the GOP legislature have somehow lost their legitimacy. We've taken the temperature of Wisconsin and there is no fever. Normal politics should continue with the results of the last election intact.

The potential for the Wisconsin Supreme Court to invalidate the work of the political branches is relatively slight. Even assuming a Kloppenburg victory is sealed sometime next month or whenever the hell the election is finally over, there's a limit to what a court can do, especially without the boost of a landslide election that can be portrayed as the will of the people to stop Scott Walker and his minions.

The court might decide that the bill that stripped collective bargaining rights violated the open meetings law, but the GOP legislature can pass a new bill, without that procedural flaw, so what difference will it make? Indeed, such a decision, especially with Kloppenburg's participation, will open the court to the criticism that it is has over-leaped the bounds of judicial propriety, and that will undermine the court's legitimacy, making it harder to crank out the next self-aggrandizing decision and tipping the next judicial election toward the conservative candidate.

So... settle in... and settle down.

"[T]he corny, brainless antics of a devout American non-entity, notice of whose mere existence is beneath the dignity of any thinking person...."

... have provoked "self-righteous frenzy married to a neurotic need to take offence; the easy resort to indiscriminate violence and cruelty; the promulgation of makeshift fatwas by mullahs on the make; those writhing mustaches framing crude slogans of piety and hatred, and yelling for death as if on first-name terms with the Almighty."

Christopher Hitchens is writing about the Koran-burning and the offense taken.

(Where will we go for well-overheated prose if we lose Christopher Hitchens?)

"7 Basic Things You Won't Believe You're All Doing Wrong."

Oh, I'm doing at least some of them at least part right. And as to the ones I'm doing wrong or part wrong, I believe it, at least partly.

What does it mean that 24 of the 3630 precincts have not yet reported their votes in the Wisconsin Supreme Court race?

The polls closed 12 hours ago, and the race has been really tight all along as results came in. Right now Prosser holds a slim lead, with 736,878, over Kloppenburg's 736,043. That's a mere 835 votes.

At the link, you can scan the list to find the counties that haven't reported all their precincts and see which candidate is favored in the precincts that have reported. For example, Ashland has 6 precinct that haven't reported, but in the 22 that have reported, Kloppenburg did much better than Prosser, 71% to 29%. If you assume the precincts are equal in population and the 71-29% split remains intact, Kloppenburg should decrease Prosser's lead by 405 votes when Ashland comes in.

There's one more precinct in Madison's Dane County. You can try to calculate what that precinct should be, using the 73-27% difference between the candidates in the 248 precincts that have reported, but I'd like to know what part of town the nonreporting precinct is in. More important, I'd like to know why that one precinct hasn't reported, because, without more, I'm suspicious that politicos with a "by any means necessary" attitude are waiting to see how many votes are needed.

What security do we have that these votes are being handled properly? With the vote so close, and the number needed to close the gap right there for all to see, it's hard to believe that nobody's going to cheat.

This race has been so politicized that, whether Prosser or Kloppenburg wins, the public will lack faith in the work of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Every 4-3 decision — assuming the winner of this election is one of the 4 — will raise suspicion. The power of the court, in the end, rests on the faith of the people. It cannot balance the power of the other branches of government without the faith that this election has eroded.

This is why I think a Kloppenburg victory will be a disaster. Her supporters and her opponents expect her to vote to undo the legislation of the Republican majority that won decisively in the November election. If she proceeds to decide cases that way, people — including her supporters — won't believe that her vote was properly judicial, and the decision against the legislation will look like the court abused its power. How then will the court retain its prestige? If the people do not believe that the court is a court, then we will not have a workable system of separated powers in our state government.

UPDATE: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:
As of 9:45 this morning, the Associated Press had results for all but 7 of the state's 3,630 precincts and Kloppenburg had taken a 140 vote lead after Prosser had been ahead most of the night by less than 1,000 votes.

That close margin had political insiders from both sides talking about the possibility of a recount, which Wisconsin has avoided in statewide races in recent decades. Any recount could be followed by lawsuits - litigation that potentially would be decided by the high court.

April 5, 2011

At the Madison Café...

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... you'd better keep a lookout for storms.

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(Photos taken yesterday evening.)

Watching the election results.

Results reported here.

On the TV station we're watching, News 3, with 6% in, Prosser and Kloppenburg are tied at 50%.

UPDATE, 8:50: 51% Prosser, 49% Kloppenburg, with 9% reporting.

UPDATE, 8:55: According to the Milwaukee State Journal, with 11% reporting, it's 51% Prosser, 49% Kloppenburg.

UPDATE, 9:30: On TV, they seem to be pre-spinning a Kloppenburg loss, saying what an amazing thing it is that she has come close to beating an incumbent.

UPDATE, 9:36: 34% reporting, David Prosser 265,662 (50%), Joanne Kloppenburg 263,356 (50%).

UPDATE, 9:54: With 49% in, News 3 has Prosser at 51% and Kloppenburg at 49%.

UPDATE, 11:08: Paul Soglin has won the mayoral race. He's speaking now, looking extremely tired.

UPDATE, 11:14: Kloppenburg had gone up, but now they're back even at 50%.

UPDATE, 11:35: Concentrating on the AP numbers, looking at which counties still need to report, I'm irritated by the way Waukesha (strong for Prosser) and Dane (strong for Kloppenburg) seem to be holding out, like it's a game of chicken. Right now the candidates are 50-50%, with Prosser up 6,000+. It's been seesawing back and forth, with Kloppenburg up some of the time. To my eye, it looks as though there are more votes left to report in the places that are pro-Prosser, so I think in the end Prosser will squeak by.

UPDATE, 11:43: Dane (Madison's county) is nearly all in. I don't see how Kloppenburg can net more than about 3,000 with what's left of Dane. Waukesha is now shown as completely in, but the numbers didn't change, so I think something may have been misreported. I took the trouble to do a calculation and was going to predict that Prosser would net 40,000 more votes in Waukesha. What happened?

UPDATE, 11:55: There will be a recount, I assume. All those absentee ballots. The possibility of some fraud. It's nearly midnight here. Maybe we won't know the answer for days.

Correction: "The car statistics initially gave the 0-62 mph time as 3.7 inches instead of 3.7 seconds."

The coolest Ferrari ever is not that cool.

"Kloppenburg = A Vote Against the Bill."

A pro-Kloppenburg yard sign that works as an anti-Kloppenburg yard sign (for 1 if not 2 reasons):

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Meade and I voted at around 11. He was #399 and I was #401 at our polling place (the First Congregational Church). There were about 6 others there, including the guy that slipped in between me and Meade and snagged the lucky number 400. The ladies manning the polls seemed to think the turnout was good. But with no waiting in line, it felt light to me.

ADDED: If Kloppenburg wins, her opponents should move on to a "recuse Kloppenburg" effort.

Wisconsin street theater: "Come along, Scottie."



The Koch Brothers and their puppet, Scott Walker. (Video recorded by Meade yesterday.)

"Every state in America today except for two... has more government workers on the payroll than people manufacturing industrial goods."

Which 2?

"House Republicans on Tuesday unveiled a far-reaching budget proposal that cuts $5.8 trillion from anticipated spending levels over the next decade..."

The NYT reports:
The ambitious plan, drafted principally by Representative Paul D. Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican who chairs the Budget Committee, proposes not only to limit federal spending and reconfigure major federal health programs, but also to rewrite the tax code, cutting the top tax rate for both individuals and corporations to 25 percent from 35 percent, reducing the number of income tax brackets and eliminating what it calls a “burdensome tangle of loopholes.”...

Democrats... say the emerging proposal amounts to a conservative ideological manifesto showing that Republicans intend to cut benefits and programs for the nation’s retirees and neediest citizens while protecting corporate America and the wealthiest people from paying their share of taxes....
Well, it is a conservative ideological manifesto, isn't it? Do the Republicans deny that? Do you like ideological clarity, or would you move away from the party that wears its ideology openly and seems committed to following it? Ideologues scare me.

ADDED: Here's Ryan's WSJ column on the plan.

Election day in Wisconsin.

If you're here in Wisconsin, have you voted yet? What's the turnout where you are?

Who's going to win? David Blaska has his predictions:
Supreme Court: Odana Road from Midvale Boulevard to Monroe Street is a blizzard of Kloppenburg signs -- many of them homemade. Has there ever been a state supreme court race this passionate? I do love the challenger’s motto, “Elections have consequences.” Tell that to Marty Beil. No pretense here, folks. This is a “do-over” of the November 2 election that Scott Walker won by a 52-47 margin...

Yes, wish is father to the thought. But I’m knocking on wood that pro-Walker voters are just as energized as the unionistas responsible for the Siege of the Capitol 2011.

A squeaker but the good guy wins thanks to out-state disgust over bully-boy tactics: David Prosser 50.5% over JoAnne Kloppenburg. But boy, this will be close.
Will it? It seems to me it could be anything, and the interpretation of what it means after we see what it is could be anything.

***

"Out-state" doesn't mean "out-of-state." I learned that term only recently. It refers to the parts of Wisconsin beyond Madison and Milwaukee. Another term I saw for the first time is "Wisconsin nice." It was in this Wall Street Journal column 3 days ago informing us that "It seems 'Wisconsin Nice' is now gone with the wind." I've been living here since 1984 and I've never heard of "Wisconsin nice." Maybe you need to go "out-state" to hear about it, or maybe only out-of-staters look at us and say that. Maybe the truly nice people don't think of themselves as nice. It's just the way they are. I don't include myself. I didn't grow up in Wisconsin, and I don't see why I would have picked up any niceness by living in Madison as an adult. Niceness needs to be more deeply ingrained. I grew up in Delaware, where people seemed normal to me. I went back recently and was stunned by how surly people were! Proof of Wisconsin nice? Perhaps. I don't know. I'm a stranger here and in Delaware now too.

Anyway: Vote, people. Wisconsin will have the court it deserves.

Woman attacks "2 Tahitian Women" because "I feel that Gauguin is evil. He has nudity and is bad for the children."

"He has two women in the painting and it’s very homosexual. I was trying to remove it. I think it should be burned. I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you."



Somewhere there's a mythical country where the people love post-Impressionism so much that this lunatic's attack on the Gauguin is causing them to run wild, riot, and kill each other.

"It took working on writing a book to make me realize that I'm not all that interested in talking about the past..."

"... and that the best expression of my life and its ups and downs has been and remains my music."

That's the official, philosophical statement of why Billy Joel has decided not to publish the memoir HarperCollins wanted to give him $3 million for. The linked article is a bit confusing on the subject of whether Joel has actually written the memoir. I'm guessing he wrote something bland, and HarperCollins didn't accept the draft.
[A] source also said that [Joel] became "dissatisfied" with expectations that "The Book of Joel" would be a tell-all about his marriages, including one to Christie Brinkley, and his battle with alcohol.
If he's dissatisfied, it should be with his own delusion that he should get $3 million without doing that. And even if he did, would it be good enough? Another alcohol memoir? Do you trash your ex-wives or reveal yourself as the abuser?

You spank Kapanke, and we'll besmirch Wirch.

The Wisconsin recall competition is now Dems 1, GOP 1. I hope you're having fun.

Professor makes professor look woefully abused by leaving out the key phrase "on her hands."

Lawprof Paul Caron stirs us up with this:
Professor Arrested for Shutting Student's Laptop in Class

Frank J. Rybicki, an assistant professor of mass media at Valdosta State University, was arrested by campus police last week on a charge of battery after shutting the laptop of a student who was web surfing in class.
I click on one of the links and find this:
An assistant professor of mass media at Valdosta State University, in Georgia, was arrested last week on charges of battery after a confrontation with a student over extracurricular Web surfing during class led him allegedly to close the lid of the student’s laptop computer on her hands....
On her hands.

April 4, 2011

The April 4th protest.

There was a Martin Luther King theme...

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(Because we remember his death today.)

Jesse Jackson was there:

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Waiting in a tent for his turn.

A boy waited in a tree like Zacchaeus:

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Enlarge to find the woman with a clown nose.

There was some street theater, with "the Koch brothers" manipulating their puppet, the giant head that is Scott Walker:

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(Enlarge.)

There were men, with manly messages:

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"I don't have enough middle fingers to deal with this!"

Women with womanly messages:

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"Save our State!!! Wisconsin rules!!!!!!!!"

And there was Meade, Flip-camming the Protest Dog of the Day:

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That's all.

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"You are afraid to run into people in the office for no real reason."

From a list of "10 Reasons You Need To Quit Your Job Right Now."

"A hole is more honorable than a patch."

From a list of Irish proverbs.

"Do you believe children should be charged with hate crimes?"

Good framing of the question. The answer is obvious.

The greatest student union building of all time.

UW's new Union South:
The opulent, $94.8 million building features a climbing wall, an eight-lane bowling alley, billiards, scores of flat-screen TVs, a 350-seat movie theater, a two-story fireplace, a wine and coffee bar and a banquet hall big enough to seat 1,500 people.
And yet the Memorial Union, the original UW-Madison Union, is still the greatest.

(I know. The word "union." Please don't be distracted.)

"In the absence of cultural confidence at home, we are sending the message that the bedrock principles..."

"... of free, pluralist societies will bend and crumble in a vain race to keep up with the ever touchier sensitivities of the perpetually aggrieved."

"Quite frankly, um..."

Sunday Morning Talking Heads, superbly, succinctly summarized.

At the Allium Café...

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... we're seeing some progress.

"Khalid Shaikh Mohammed to Be Tried by Military Commission at Guantánamo, in Reversal."

That's the right way to do it, Obama comes around to admitting, by coincidence, on the day he launches his reelection effort.

ADDED: What would it take for Obama to say Bush was right... or anything close to that... just a decent amount of respect for his predecessor?

AND: Here's the link to the NYT article, indicating that the decision represents no real judgment by Obama or Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., but simply yielding to Congress's "steep new restrictions on transferring any detainees from Guantánamo Bay onto United States soil, making such a trial impossible."

UPDATE: Holder speaks (live).

ADDED: Holder is adamant that his original decision was correct. Congress made it impossible for him to follow his original policy. The last question challenged him about how long it will take: perhaps another 10 years? He answers quickly and testily and — to my eye — stomps out of the room.

Whatever happened to the "purchase" Larry Tribe thought Elena Kagan had on Anthony Kennedy's brain?

Remember that embarrassing sentence in Larry Tribe's letter pushing President Obama to nominate Elena Kagan? "Neither Steve Breyer nor Ruth Ginsburg has much of a purchase on Tony Kennedy’s mind." Remember discussing that in the context of a case called Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization v. Winn when it was argued last fall? I wrote:
This is a case about tax credits for contributions made to private tuition funds that make grants to students who go to private schools. Many of those schools are religious and some of the qualified funds only make grants to students who go to religious religious schools. [Lyle] Denniston begins his description [of the argument] with a claim that he detected Elena Kagan's purchase on the mind of Tony Kennedy (a subject we were just talking about the other day). Denniston says Kagan and Kennedy — the 2 Ks (sounds like trouble!) — "took crucial, reinforcing roles." I don't see much support for that point.
This case has a substantive Establishment Clause issue — whether government is subsidizing religion — and a threshold issue about standing — whether taxpayers can sue over this. These issues are linked because they both may depend on whether a tax credit turns the privately donated money into money from the state....
Today, the Supreme Court came out with the decision in the case and there's Kennedy writing for the majority and Kagan  —with (guess who?) Ginsburg, Breyer, and Sotomayor — writing for the dissent.

The majority said there was no standing, which means that it did not reach the Establishment Clause question.

ADDED: Justice Kennedy makes the key distinction between this case and other cases (notably Flast) in which taxpayers had standing to challenge taxing and spending laws using the Establishment Clause:
[T]ax credits and governmental expenditures do not both implicate individual taxpayers in sectarian activities. A dissenter whose tax dollars are “extracted and spent” knows that he has in some small measure been made to contribute to an establishment in violation of conscience. In that instance the taxpayer’s direct and particular connection with the establishment does not depend on economic speculation or political conjecture. The connec­tion would exist even if the conscientious dissenter’s tax liability were unaffected or reduced. When the government declines to impose a tax, by contrast, there is no such connection between dissenting taxpayer and alleged establishment. Any financial injury remains speculative. And awarding some citizens a tax credit allows other citizens to retain control over their own funds in accor­dance with their own consciences.
Dissenting,  Justice Kagan states the opposing position:
Cash grants and targeted tax breaks are means of accomplishing the same government objective — to provide financial support to select individuals or organizations. Taxpayers who oppose state aid of religion have equal reason to protest whether that aid flows from the one form of subsidy or the other. Either way, the government has financed the religious activity. And so either way, taxpayers should be able to challenge the subsidy.
Still worse, the Court’s arbitrary distinction threatens to eliminate all occasions for a taxpayer to contest the government’s monetary support of religion. Precisely because appropriations and tax breaks can achieve identical objectives, the government can easily substitute one for the other.
I love the clarity of Kagan's writing. But it will take more than that to gain purchase on Kennedy's brain. The truth is that Flast is out of line with a whole lot of other standing cases. Distinguishing this case from Flast may seem like a strain, but it's a more a matter of not letting the anomaly grow. Justices Scalia concurs, with Justice Thomas, to say Flast should be overruled altogether, and not just costrained. Scalia is pulling on one side, and Kagan on the other, and Kennedy maintains his purchase on the center.

Bill Clinton on arming Libyan rebels: "“I might need to know a little more, I would be inclined to do it."

That's nicely hedged. Know a little more. But inclined to do it. Is he saying more than I don't know? I don't know.

"Gov. Scott Walker is pushing for an additional $1 million during the next two years to crack down on Internet predators who prey on children..."

Does Wisconsin really need 33 people investigating internet pedophiles?
Protecting children has been a priority for Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, who requested the extra money and staff.

"We can only speculate the number of cases in a given year are going to increase," [said Jenniffer Price, who oversees the Department of Justice's Internet Crimes Against Children unit]. "The more investigators we have to investigate, the more cases will be worked."
So it's Van Hollen's pet project. I'm skeptical. If you're making cuts everywhere, there should be a strong presumption against expanding anything. I express this opinion out loud, and Meade defends Walker. I'm all "Don't be such a Walker whore," and he coins a term:
Street Walker.

YouTube path, reverse order.

I ended up listening to The Swingle Singers doing "Eleanor Rigby" a cappella, found in the sidebar while listening to SongstaForLife doing "Eleanor Rigby" (also a cappella), which I got to after SongstaForLife doing "Friday" — that much-mocked Rebecca Black thing — in a way that I found charming, which I got to from the faux-Dylan "Friday," which I got sent to from this news article telling me that faux-Dylan thing is the "Internet Meme of the Week," which came in through my Google alert on "Dylan."

Will Obama be reelected?

Assume you must make a $1,000 bet. You'll forfeit the $1,000 immediately if you don't choose one side or the other right now. You'd better think fast and be honest, because you have a $1,000 stake in getting this right, not expressing your hope-and-change feelings. This isn't about your preference. This is about winning a bet:

Will Obama be reelected?
Yes
No.
  
pollcode.com free polls

"I don't agree with Obama on everything, but I respect him and I trust him."

Obama's 2012 campaign launch video is all individuals, talking to other individuals, and making a difference....



This is a nice effort at reviving the old feeling of generality that marked Obama's 2008 campaign.

"Hey! Barack Obama emailed me that he's running for President!"

"Good thing you got that post up yesterday."

"Oh, he can still back out. Of course, he has to say he's running. Then later... some beautiful elaborate I do not believe that I should devote an hour or a day of my time to any personal partisan causes.... that sort of thing. Hmmm... I should reply to this email."

"Can you reply to that email?"

"Yeah. They want you to reply. In fact there's a big old donate button."

"How about a doughnut button? He ought to have a doughnut button."

"A lot of people think the whole Obama presidency is a big old doughnut button."

"Yep."

April 3, 2011

"How to Steal Like an Artist."

"(And 9 Other Things Nobody Told Me.)"

(Via email from Reader_i_am.)

I liked:
I also love the book Just Kids by Patti Smith. I love it because it’s a story about how two friends moved to New York and learned to be artists. You know how they learned to be artists? They pretended to be artists. I’ll spoil the book for you and describe my favorite scene, the turning scene in the book: Patti Smith and her friend Robert Maplethorpe dress up in all their gypsy gear and they go to Washington Square, where everybody’s hanging out, and this old couple kind of gawks at them, and the woman says to her husband, “Oh, take their picture. I think they’re artists.” “Oh, go on,” he shrugged. “They’re just kids.”
It's funny, I picked up "Just Kids" just today as the next part-finished book in the house to finish. I'm on a finishing unfinished books kick.

Speaking of books: "Write the book you want to read." That's #3 of the things nobody told Austin Kleon. (Austin Kleon is the guy this post links to.) Hey, I'm writing the blog I want to read.

At the Dogwood and Pussy Café...

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... you can get along or tangle all you want.

The truth about Wisconsin.

Lake Mendota, today:

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The reason why Obama should not want to run for a second term in 2012.

If he is reelected, then that will be the end of running for President. He'll be 54 years old, and what will he do? Move to Hawaii and play golf? But he could move to Hawaii and play golf in January 2013, if that's an enticing prospect. And, if he does, he won't have maxed out his eligibility for being President. He can tantalize us, year after year, with the possibility that he would run for another term — a fascinatingly out-of-sequence term. The thing he's best at is running for President. Why let that game expire? He could toy with it in 2016, when he's 58, and in 2020, when he's a clear-visioned 62, and in 2024, when he's a well-seasoned 66, and in 2028, when he's a beneficent elder, offering his services once again, because his country longs for the golden days of 2011. It will never end, as long as the icon of hope and change — oh, my lord, I typo'd "hope and chains"! — walks the face of the earth... unless he serves that second term.

(Idea originally suggested by Meade and developed in a conversation between Althouse + Meade that took place as we walked on the Ice Age Trail, Saturday, April 3, 2011.)

"$$$$ for every "A", $$ for every "B", reduction of above for any "C" and complete forfeiture for any "D."

"Also, 2 hours at the dining room table five nights-a-week. No TV. No music. No phone. I didn't force them to do homework -if they just wanted to stare at each other for two hours, OK with me. They were not as pleased with this as they were with 'bribery' and did try sitting there and day-dreaming for a couple of nights. And then, the strangest thing happened. Their friends thought this arrangement was so novel, they had to see for themselves. For the next two years, our house became a study hall for 8-10 kids almost every night."

mm's method.

President Obama's first 2012 campaign ad.

"Conservative pundits and operators do their best to silence any professor who ventures into the public realm with the kind of unwelcome facts that scholarly and scientific expertise can produce."

Writes Anthony Grafton in The New Yorker, applauding the University of Wisconsin's defense of Professor William Cronon, who was the target of an "open records" request from the Wisconsin Republican Party.

I too applaud the UW's treatment of the Cronon case, but I don't know why Grafton thinks its so politically one-sided. Don't liberal pundits and operators do just as much to try to silence any professor who ventures into the public realm with the kind of unwelcome facts that scholarly and scientific expertise can produce?

There are far fewer professors who disappoint liberals, because that's the political structure of academia. But correct for that. I don't see any reason to think that conservatives are more aggressive than liberals in their efforts to intimidate university professors.

Harry Reid: "Of course, this man in Florida who burnt the Koran, it’s a publicity stunt."

On "Face the Nation," today. (Here's the PDF transcript.)
Basically, [he] had nobody in his church anyway and this is an effort to get some publicity for him. He got it. But in the process ten to twenty people have been killed. You-- you-- you-- religious extremism in any form is wrong. And certainly all these deaths is wrong. I’m very, very disappointed that this man who we had some dealings with in January, December, who indicated he wouldn’t do anything. And suddenly, I guess, the publicity had fallen down a little bit so he decided to do this. It’s-- it’s really too bad. And, I think people should understand the consequences of what they do un-- under the guise of reli-- religion.
What guise? Criticizing a rival religion's scripture is religion. What would it be a guise for? You can't just say "publicity." Most public speakers are trying to get attention. Reid himself is trying to get attention by going on "Face the Nation."
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, you introduced a resolution to condemn this by the Congress... or where do you go from here?
SENATOR HARRY REID: We’ll-- we’ll take a look at this, of course. John Kerry, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, has been on top of this. He’s made many trips to Afghanistan. And I think we’ll take a look at this as to whether we need hearings or not, I don’t know.
And that's the end of the discussion. Zero attention is paid to freedom of speech or religious freedom. Neither Schieffer nor Reid gives a damn (or dares to say he gives a damn). Pathetic.

ADDED: Later in the show, Lindsey Graham opines on the same issue:
You know I wish we could find some way to-- to-- to hold people accountable. Free speech is a great idea but we’re in a war. During World War II, you had limits on what you could say if it would inspire the enemy. So burning a Koran is a terrible thing. But it doesn’t justify killing someone. Burning a bible would be a terrible thing but it doesn’t justify murder. But having said that, any time we can push back here in America against actions like this that put our troops at risk we ought to do it. So I look forward to working with Senator Kerry and Reid and others to condemn this, condemn violence all over the world based in the name of religion.
"[T]o condemn this"... this what? "[C]ondemn violence all over the world based in the name of religion." I can't tell whether he's condemning the Koran-burning or the murders purported inspired by Koran-burning. Is Koran-burning "violence"? Graham is incomprehensibly mealy-mouthed. "Free speech is a great idea...  any time we can push back...we ought to do it"? What WWII precedents does he mean to invoke, and can he get his position — assuming he can state it clearly — anywhere close to American constitutional law?

Court rules that a dog must die because he looks like a pit bull.

In Ireland, where pit bulls are illegal. The dog, Lennox, is a cross between a bulldog and a Labrador.
Before the young dog was seized from his home he had committed no crime and no members of the public had complained about his behavior. On the day he was seized three police officers arrived at the family home unannounced along with the Dog Wardens. The police were sent away and the Wardens sat down with the family, had tea, smoked cigarettes and played with the family's other dogs.

The Wardens then measured Lennox's muzzle and rear legs with a dress-maker's tape measure and decided, without any professional advice, that he was a "Pit Bull Type Breed"....

"I was determined... not to raise a soft, entitled child...."

"Classical music was the opposite of decline, the opposite of laziness, vulgarity, and spoiledness."

I read books with a pen in hand and mark passages I want to be able to find later. That's the only thing I marked in "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother," which I'd read about a third of a few weeks ago and picked up and read to the end yesterday. Those 2 quotes appear on page 22 (of the hardback). As you probably know, the book is a memoir written by a lawprof, Amy Chua, who goes to great lengths driving her 2 daughters to learn to play the piano and violin and portrays this intense venture as Chinese.

You're left on your own in deciding whether to hate her for being so cruel or to worry that you should be (or should have been) a whole lot tougher on your own kids. In the process of making that decision, you've got to face up to or struggle to deny the way you are influenced by the extremely high level of accomplishment the 2 daughters reach. There has to be some degree of admiration or envy pushing you around.

See? She's a lawprof, and, I, a lawprof, see the book as setting up a Socratic inquiry. The lawprof keeps her distance as she gives you something complex to try to pull apart and examine. I can see why I marked the passage I marked and then left the pen capped.  There's a very basic goal that is easy to accept in itself: We don't want to raise soft, entitled children. But how do you do that? Here's one example of someone trying to achieve that goal. Now, what have we learned about the goal and how to achieve it?

There's something skeletal about the story Chua tells. The accomplishments of the daughters are documented objectively. There are specific honors that can't be denied. But we can only imagine the cost. Chua presents herself as a cartoon character, and she all but excludes her husband from the picture. I have no idea why these 2 people are married or what their relationship is like. That's one way to write a memoir. I've read other memoirs that deal with ongoing marriages that way. (One is "Dreams From My Father.")

A novelist could find rich material for a brilliant rewrite in "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" (or "Dreams From My Father"). There is so much missing from these stories. Create the flesh that could hang on those bones.

"4 Out of 5 Zombies Recommend Neo-Con Brains."

A sign at the zombie protest here in Madison yesterday. Sorry, I missed that one. I have a bad case of protest fatigue.

Nice to see that the zombies appreciate the high quality of neo-con brains. They've done the taste test.

"Beer became a prominent commodity because the German regiments from Wisconsin got shipments of fresh beer."

"The Germans spread beer-drinking into elements of the social structures."

Civil War history.

"Illinois Workers Find That a Death Penalty Ban Abolishes Their Jobs, Too."

Says the NYT.
[S]ome of the very people who pushed and prayed most fervently to end capital punishment in the state found that the triumph came with a termination notice.

“We’ve done such good work that we’ve put ourselves out of work,” joked [Wendi ]. Liss, 37, who spent a decade as a mitigation specialist assembling information to persuade juries to spare the lives of defendants....
The "workers" in question are lawyers and others at the Office of the State Appellate Defender. (Odd to see lawyers called "workers.") The job market in the law field is rough, and it must be especially grim to have put your specialty out of business in the state where you are licensed to practice law. Grim... but ecstatic. These were people devoting their lives to fighting the death penalty.

It's a fascinating life crisis. The celebration followed by ironic job loss could be the first scene in a movie. But what would happen next?