September 17, 2011

"Why isn't Althouse covering the fact that two daughters of two famous liberal Democrat Senators - both 51 years old - died on the same day?"

"More importantly, why isn't Althouse making note of the fact that today is Constitution Day and that, exactly 75 years after the Constitution was signed, on the bloodiest day on our soil, 3000 Americans fell at Antietam in a war where Constitutional issues were paramount?"

Comments from the previous post.

ADDED, the next day: I'll answer the 2 questions.

1. I'm not inclined to savor the cuteness of the coincidence. Two women died, too young.

2. On the Althouse blog, every day is Constitution Day.

"A study like this implies you are scientifically less manly just when you’d like to think you’ve hit a new plateau of manhood."

"You’ve spread your seed, so to speak, and joined the ranks of your own father... not only are you a dork when you lapse into goo-goo talk, but now you’re less of a man scientifically."

Oh, man, the guys will have their revenge for all the cat litter box cleaning they had to do when we women were pregnant and had to be protected from toxoplasmosis.

During pregnancy, the man is the pussy man, dealing with the cat poo. But now that the baby is born, if she doesn't want a pussy man, depleted in testosterone, it is her turn to handle the poo.

Now, these arguments about division of household labor have a new dimension: My dear, are you anti-science or are you trying to emasculate me?

ADDED: Is it manly to make that argument? It suggests you need to conserve the testosterone you have. It would be more macho to act like you have plenty to spare. Also, I think diaper changing is one of the more manly baby-related chores? It's a dirty job and someone's got to do it. We don't have a study about which specific baby-relted activities are testosterone depleting. I'm going to speculate that it would tend to be the ones like bottle/breast-feeding where you look for a long time into the baby's eyes... not the one where you're looking at the nether regions.

At the Anarchist Café...

... you can say anything you want.

"Elizabeth Warren and her little gold ball earrings are running for Senate!"

Inexplicably sexist headline on a Bloggingheads video.

"Freedom means freedom for everybody," says Dick Cheney, approving of same-sex marriage.

IN THE COMMENTS: pbAndjFellowRepublican said:
I wonder if his views have been influenced by his relationship w/ his daughter. I'd assume so. Presumably Althouse would be opposed to such decision making because it is influenced by personal experience. Or, maybe that anti-anecdote position is only for other people, re other issues? Where Althouse doesn't have her own anecdote.
I don't like argument/reasoning from anecdotes, and one's own personal experience is a subcategory of this. I don't think the argument for gay rights should hinge on whether you're gay or you know someone who is gay. If something is actually bad or morally wrong, you don't try to promote it by talking about the person in your family who does it. You may notice that I've been writing in support of same-sex marriage on this blog for more than 7 years, and I don't think I've ever bolstered the argument with anecdotes of personal experience. In fact, I think it cheapens the argument to blend that in.

The Obama White House "actually fit all of the classic legal requirements for a genuinely hostile workplace to women."

Said former White House communications director Anita Dunn, as quoted a new book, "Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President" — written by a man, Ron Suskind — the Washington Post reports.

Dunn now rejects the term "hostile workplace,” and adds the typical PR bullshit evidence: “The president is someone who when he goes home at night he goes home to house full of very strong women... He values having strong women around him.”

In my experience, women who are vigilant about workplaces that are hostile to women hate that argument: A man has a strong wife at home, so he must not be opposed to the success of women in the workplace.

And, by the way, specifically, I'd say that Barack Obama has kept his wife in a distinctly subordinate role. Michelle Obama went to Princeton and Harvard Law School, and now she works on encouraging children to eat vegetables and get some exercise.

But... whatever... Anita Dunn... I always thought she was a bit of an idiot. She shouldn't have gotten the job in the first place. If she was initially overpromoted, it was a good thing that she got excluded. She shouldn't have been included.

But Suskind talked to other disincluded women. According to the Washington Post account of the book:
[W]omen occupied many of the West Wing’s senior positions, but felt outgunned and outmaneuvered by male colleagues such as former Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Summers.

Obama, according to the book... failed to call on Romer after asking her male colleagues for their opinions. The snub prompted Romer to pass a note to Summers where she threatened to walk out of the dinner, according to the book....

The Obama White House has long been dogged by similar claims of exclusivity — his golf outings have been typically all-male affairs...
So... is there something sexist about the Obama administration? Seems like Suskind came up with a great angle for his book, but I'm skeptical. I think Obama may have been overenthusiastic about giving a lot of  positions to women, and perhaps those women really weren't as good as the men he surrounded himself with and really does need to rely on. In that case, he deserves credit for good judgment. But it is funny that he's not more concerned about the optics. Perhaps he assumes that he is especially appealing to women constituents and he doesn't need to do much to maintain that favor. It's the men he's in danger of losing. Time for another round of all-male, manly golf.

"Today we are thrilled to unveil DHS’s new website,"

Great moments in government website creation:
Today we are thrilled to unveil DHS’s new website,

It’s with great pleasure that I was fortunate to attend the unveiling of the Study in the States website by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano at the University of Wisconsin – Madison today.

Together with our partner agencies...

You can read more about the Study in the States initiative on the DHS blog.
The crossed-out link in the post title and the "partner" link only trigger a drop-down box that demands a name and password. If you try to go in without the name, you're informed that you lack authorization. All the strikeouts above are on the web page that Janet Napolitano came to Madison yesterday to publicize.

I refrained from attending the big event. But Meade was there and he snapped this pic:

"Average SAT exam scores for high school seniors dropped three points in reading, one point in math and two points in writing..."

"Reading scores are the lowest on record."

But it's probably just that more students take the test these days.


It's the fruitcake of China.

"Many people say I want to kill myself because I do this."

"People can say what they want. I do it because I want to be cured."

Electric therapy, via lying on railroad tracks, in Indonesia, where "many practice a form of Islam that is mixed with superstition and traditional beliefs, including voodoo-like treatments to ward off spells and illnesses." So... it's not New Age. It's Old Age.

September 16, 2011

"Some Cabbies Given Right to Say No to Racy Ads."

"The city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission unanimously approved a regulation that would prevent owners of yellow taxi medallions, who often lease drivers the right to operate taxis in New York, from installing any signage a taxicab owner 'reasonably' deems inappropriate."
For Mohan Singh, the breaking point came last year when his granddaughter, who was 6 at the time, saw a seductive woman in an advertisement affixed to the roof of his taxicab. She proudly announced... "I want to be a FlashDancer."...

Still, the regulation falls short of helping drivers like Osman Chowdhury, who owns neither his medallion nor his cab. Mr. Chowdhury, 45, said he routinely drove his leased taxi to his mosque, where, among fellow Muslims, whom he called “conservative,” he stood out like a black sheep due to the images of lingerie models and strippers atop his vehicle....

[S]everal drivers who own their cabs but not the medallions, said medallion owners typically earned $100 to $200 a month from companies like VeriFone Media, one of the largest suppliers of rooftop taxicab advertisements....

Vehicle owners who do not own medallions generally are not compensated for advertisements, they said, even though the signs weigh down their vehicles, raising gasoline costs.
I'm surprised that so little money is made on those ads. Why not ban them entirely? They cause extra consumption of gasoline and more exhaust in the city. It hardly seems worth it. Get rid of the clutter. And then no one needs to worry about what to be offended about and whether the offense is "reasonable."


Meade shot this video today at the Wisconsin Capitol. I edited. The usual noon-hour singalong is pretty jovial... except perhaps the sullen guys with the "May we RIOT now?" banner.

"We've got better vision. We've got better ideas. We've got real plans. And we've got better hair."

Flashback to 2004. Remember when John Kerry said that... about himself and John Edwards? I wonder what the best hair combination is among the current group of Republicans... and if Obama ought to oust Biden and go with Hillary for a hair upgrade.
Radiating all the vigour and enthusiasm Kerry had surgically removed at birth, the honey-toned Edwards found himself adored by the media for his "two Americas" stump speech, a Disraelian portrait of Dickensian gloom conjured in the tones of a Depression-era sob-sister.
Ha ha. I came up with a Mark Steyn column when I Googled for what I was looking for:
Even if you have never heard it, you know how it goes: there's one America where Dick Cheney's oil buddies are swigging down Martinis and toasting their war profits; but there's another America where "tonight a 10-year-old little girl will go to bed hungry, hoping and praying that tomorrow will not be as cold as today because she doesn't have the coat to keep her warm".
Oh, what a huckster that John Edwards was!

I embarked on that Google search as I was writing the previous post, disapproving of reasoning/arguing with empathetic anecdotes. I thought it might help you, as you steel yourself against the political rhetoric that comes in the form of anecdotes, to remember that disgraced prettyboy John Edwards and his 2-Americas mascot, the (nonexistent) coatless little girl.

I've been writing about the shortcomings of the human imagination as we get hung up on one thing — such as a person in the room pleading with us — and neglect to think about all the people who aren't here in our presence. But when politicians use anecdotes, they merely paint a picture for us to see in our minds, and the thing that we fail to see may be more real in the world than what's painted in that picture, such as Edwards's nonexistent coatless little girl.

There must be a little girl, you were supposed to think, because her story is specific. She's 10-years-old and I see her there, kneeling by the side of the bed, and it's a cold night. 

You can see it — the unseeable nonentity — in your imagination. The anecdote-purveyor clogs up your head with phony pictures. Fight the fake little 10-year old that the ultra-fake politician would use to gum up the imaginative mechanisms of your mind. Feel the oiliness of the fakery as it lubricates those mechanisms, and visualize the things they'd prefer to be left unseen.

Rick Perry's admirable eschewal of anecdotal argument about the HPV vaccine.

Arlette Saenz, at ABC News, reports:
Months after the Texas state legislature revoked [his executive order requiring young girls receive the HPV vaccine, Governor Rick] Perry expressed in very personal terms the potential the HPV vaccine holds for preventing cervical cancer in young women. Perry spoke of the missed opportunity of the Texas government at a memorial service for Heather Burcham, a 31-year-old woman who died from cervical cancer after contracting HPV.
“Though some could not see the benefits of the HPV vaccine through the prism of politics, some day they will,” Perry said in July 2007. “Someday they will recognize that this could happen to anyone’s daughter, even their own. Someday they will respond with compassion when they once responded with ignorance. And, someday, they will come to a place where they recognize the paramount issue is whether we will choose life, and protect life, without regard to what mistakes, if any, have been made in the past.”

Perry and Burcham, a teacher from Houston, Texas, struck up an unusual friendship in the months after he issued his executive order.... Despite the legislature’s decision to revoke the executive order, Perry befriended Burcham. In the final months of her life, the two took a motorcycle ride together and spent a weekend at a ranch with her friends at the governor’s invitation.

In the final days before her death, Perry even sat at her deathbed, a moment he has described on the campaign trail.  ”I sat on the side of a bed of a young lady, and she was dying from cervical cancer, and it had an impact on me.”
It's important to note that Perry's decision to use an executive order to impose the vaccine requirement — which he now calls a mistake — did not come as a result of his experience knowing Burcham. He met her after that happened. I would criticize him if he was the sort of executive decisionmaker who reacts to the vivid story of one victim. How effective is the solution you're adopting? How does it affect everyone that your imposing it on? How many other victims are likely to be spared? You have to look at the big whole picture if you're making policy, and you can't have the sort of mind that fixates on one person, feels deep empathy, and wields governmental power to do something... right now.

In fact, Perry showed a propensity to think about matters at a higher level of reasoned generality when he was challenged, at the debate, to explain his executive order. I think many politicians, in that situation, would begin with the compelling story of Heather Burcham. He said:
And at the end of the day, this was about trying to stop a cancer and giving the parental option to opt out of that. And at the end of the day, you may criticize me about the way that I went about it, but at the end of the day, I am always going to err on the side of life. And that's what this was really all about for me. 
Life. He could have said: This is about Heather Burcham. Let me tell you about Heather Burcham... I can hear Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton or Barack Obama or any number of other highly successful politics moving smoothly into that line of persuasion. Maybe Perry is just less slick, less smart. But I think it's interesting that he doesn't seem have the instinct for anecdotal reasoning.

Anecdotal reasoning is a manifestation of the human tendency to weigh the seen over the unseen. Yes, it's a terrible thing that a a 31-year-old woman died from cervical cancer caused by HPV. If she were dying right in front of you, maybe you would think, I swear I will do anything in my power to express my outrage at her death, but a mind that gets stuck in that mode can't be trusted making broad policy decisions and imposing requirements on all of us.

Consider Michele Bachmann, who famously emoted: "There’s a woman who came up crying to me tonight after the debate. She said her daughter was given that vaccine... She told me her daughter suffered mental retardation as a result. There are very dangerous consequences."

Well, that's just one instance of how Bachmann's mind processes information. It's the one we're seeing right now. I don't want to overweight one vivid bit of evidence, or I will exemplify the very kind of thinking I am trying to avoid.

Man arrested for "biting off a man's eyebrow during a fight, chewing it and spitting it out."

He spit it out? Well, there was hair in it.

How Dan Quayle got into law school through affirmative action — a controversy from 1988.

Perhaps you remember the challenges to Dan Quayle, who was the GOP VP nominee in 1988 (and later served as VP under George H.W. Bush):
[Quayle] was questioned about a report that he had been admitted to Indiana University Law School as part of a program designed for students whose grades and aptitude test scores were so low they would not have been admitted in the regular admission process....

Mr. Quayle acknowledged earlier that he had persuaded the dean to admit him despite poor grades at DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind....

Professor [Charles] Kelso said he did not remember Mr. Quayle and was certain that neither his family nor his wealth had played any role in his admission to the course.
I remember discussing this matter at the time, perhaps with another Wisconsin law professor. My interlocutor said that an applicant who shows up in person and makes a persuasive argument demonstrates a determination and skill that might justify admitting him to law school. These are qualities, seen in person, that might not appear in the cold numbers of the LSAT and the GPA and that are in fact relevant to the applicant's aptitude for lawyering.

I said: But what about everyone else who got rejected? If they had known there was another way to get in, they might have wanted to appear in person in front of the dean and show that they too were brimming with lawyerly promise unmeasured in standardized tests. If there is a second way to get in, there should be a competition there too. The dean who let Quayle in on alternate grounds may have seen value in the man who appeared before him, but did he fully visualize the others who might have presented themselves too? Was Quayle really the best of them? The dean had no way to know.

My interlocutor retrenched: If there is a secret backdoor route into the law school, the applicant who is able to find it has manifested a special skill that would be irrelevant if the school made it plain to all that there is an alternate admissions path that uses an interview with the dean. My interlocutor had to concede that there is no way the law school dean would put up with interviews with every rejected applicant who wanted to take the trouble to show up in Indianapolis to plead his case.

I said: So a law school should make a special point of admitting the guy who realizes the official process might not be the only way to get what you want and who has the nerve to decide that his personal interests transcend the importance of equal rules for all and to take up the time of a busy person (the dean) and to promote his individual case? Well, maybe that is the attitude a client wants from his lawyer, and maybe it's okay that their lawyer couldn't score well enough on the LSAT to get into Indiana.

But I couldn't accept the law school dean's failure to treat Dan Quayle like the other rejected applicants. I thought and still think that it was the moral failing of valuing the seen over the unseen. Quayle showed up in person: Here I am, see my worthiness! But all the other rejected applicants were human beings too. Imagine them, all of them, and what they might have argued in pursuit of their goals.


By chance, the linked article — which I dug out of the NYT archive — contains another seen-and-unseen issue:
Outside the plant about 150 protesters carried signs that said such things as ''Draft Dodger Quayle - Who Died in Your Place?'' - a reference to his decision to join the Indiana National Guard in the Vietnam War.
If you opposed the Vietnam War and evaded the draft, did you truly visualize the person who went in your place?

Things seen and unseen.

Instapundit linked my post about the morality of affirmative action:
THE MORALITY OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION: “The students at a university are always the students who were admitted. They feel hurt or outraged if they think the message is that they shouldn’t be here. They’re here, in the room, and the individuals who did not get in are not here to cry out with corresponding outrage. . . . The policy will only affect individuals who are not in the room, who are out there, just as the students who didn’t get in this year are out there. The difficult thing — and the true moral challenge — is to visualize those who are affected who are not in the room to express pain when you hurt them.”

Another case of what is seen and what is not seen. Politicians — among whose number I certainly count university presidents — advance their careers by exploiting the difference between the two.
He links to the essay "What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen," by the 19th century political economist Frédéric Bastiat, who begins:
In the economic sphere an act, a habit, an institution, a law produces not only one effect, but a series of effects. Of these effects, the first alone is immediate; it appears simultaneously with its cause; it is seen. The other effects emerge only subsequently; they are not seen; we are fortunate if we foresee them.

There is only one difference between a bad economist and a good one: the bad economist confines himself to the visible effect; the good economist takes into account both the effect that can be seen and those effects that must be foreseen.
My son John Cohen also quoted my seen-and-unseen comments, and he associated the general principle with the specific problem of capital punishment, quoting an article by Cass Sunstein and Adrian Vermeule called "Is Capital Punishment Morally Required?" In that context, statistics indicate that capital punishment has a deterrent effect, but the people who are not killed are, of course, never identified. What we see is the convicted person, with whom we may feel challenged to empathize, and the dead person, whom it is too late to save.

The phrase "seen and unseen" calls to mind the Nicene Creed:
We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
I wonder if that was ever intended to refer to things that are unseen because they never happened, the alternate version of reality that would exist if we had made a different decision. But that is the moral problem I want to notice, and I will designate with a new tag "seen and unseen." I have 2 more things I want to talk about under that heading. One has to do with Rick Perry and the other has to do with Dan Quayle. But I'll put these in separate posts.

Janet Napolitano speaks in Madison today.

She's going to talk — and answer questions — about "innovative ways to encourage the 'best and brightest' international students and scholars to study and remain in the U.S."

2­–3 p.m. in Varsity Hall at Union South, on campus. The UW website says: "All faculty, staff and students are invited to attend."

"Former Walker aide shaken, embarrassed following FBI raid, denies any wrongdoing."

"[Cynthia] Archer said law enforcement has ordered her to not discuss the case, and officials with the FBI and the Milwaukee County district attorney's office are not saying anything either. The information vacuum has led to a minor media frenzy, with reporters trying to figure out if this has anything to do with Walker."

Sorry I've failed to contribute to the frenzy. I don't like to post to say hey, look at that. I feel like I have to add some value. So I'll just say... what's with the secrecy combined with conspicuousness? The woman's reputation is besmirched by the conspicuous raid, and the governor of our state is collaterally damaged. But she's supposed to keep quiet, why?
"I'm not worried," Archer said. "I don't even have a lawyer. I don't need a lawyer. I did nothing inappropriate."
Why not? The FBI search your house for hours and you don't need a lawyer? Just because you think you've done nothing wrong doesn't mean you don't need a lawyer! Assuming Cynthia Archer is not an idiot, on what theory does she not need a lawyer?

September 15, 2011

Colorado high country.

A photograph Meade brought home from his mountain biking trip last week.

Baseball's Meanest Players.

Sports Illustrated polled 215 MLB players to get this list.

#9 and #13 are Brewers.

And what was #13 thinking?

Chancellor David Ward responds to attack on University of Wisconsin—Madison admissions practices.

From email addressed to "members of the campus community," which I received a few minutes ago:
Many of you have been involved this week in an important debate about diversity at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I want to again say that the university remains firmly committed to enrolling a highly diverse student body -- that means recruiting not only students from ethnic minorities, but those from rural Wisconsin, first-generation college students, women in the sciences and othergroups.

When making admissions decisions, UW-Madison uses holistic processes for undergraduate, graduate and professional schools that take into account a range of factors. University officials are confident these practices are constitutional and consistent with U.S. Supreme Court decisions that say race is a permissible factor when part of a holistic admissions process. We know that enrolling students of all cultures and backgrounds improves the learning environment at UW-Madison and prepares everyone to be competitive in an increasingly multicultural world.

Wisconsin Supreme Court justices vote 6-1 against opening up their conferences to the public.

The vote is not surprising, of course. What was surprising was that it was proposed. It was presented by Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson, and Abrahamson was the only Justice who voted for it. Even Justice Ann Walsh Bradley — who last spring accused fellow Justice David Prosser of putting her in a "choke hold" — voted against it.
[The Chief Justice] and Justice Ann Walsh Bradley were the only two who voted in favor of opening to the public discussions about which cases the court would accept. And the same two justices were the lone voters in favor of releasing recordings or transcripts of opinion conferences at least one year following the release of opinions....

But other justices expressed discomfort with Abrahamson's idea, saying open conferences could chill discussions among the justices. Justice Patrick Crooks, often an ally of Abrahamson in court decisions, called the proposal "a big mistake."

"It's a little bit like the old saw about making sausage," Crooks said. "I don't think you want to see that in the Supreme Court."

The court tabled a decision on another of Abrahamson's proposals, to bring in an expert to on work dynamics to work with the justices on collegiality....
More here:
At one point Ziegler asked Abrahamson how much more time she wanted to spend on her transparency proposals, saying: "When are we going to get back to work?"

Abrahamson rebuked Ziegler for insinuating she was wasting time, calling discussion of court functions as important as drafting decisions. Ziegler quickly backtracked, saying she only wanted to know when she could go to the bathroom....

"It's lonely at the top. 'James, can we meet for dinner?' was the subject line of an email we received from none other than Barack Obama."

Hey! I got "Ann, can we meet for dinner?" The President is 2-timing me!

I'm giving this post my "metaphor" tag. (Also my "Obama the boyfriend" tag.) It's a metaphor to imagine that the relationship between the government and the governed is romantic. No one's really fooled though, are they? Yesterday...
... while Obama was delivering a campaign speech there, "a lone male voice rang out: 'I love you Barack!' Obama responded immediately: 'I love you back!' " It must've been Giuseppe.

Obama quickly decided he'd better play hard to get. According to Agence France-Presse, he added: "If you love me, you got to help me pass this bill." The reference was to Stimulus Jr., the $447 billion boondoggle he proposed in a historic speech to a joint session of Congress last week...

[One] reader thought Obama might have been inspired by... John 14:15 [which] quotes Jesus as saying: "If you love me, keep my commands."
Yeah, but Jesus isn't asking me out to dinner... unless... I mean, when Barack asks us out to dinner, it won't be like this...

... right?

"How do you escape the notion that getting rid of affirmative action is white supremacy?"

2 UW-Madison students challenge Roger Clegg — the president of the Center for Equal Opportunity:

Like the clip in the previous post, this was recorded at a Federalist Society-sponsored debate on September 13th.

[Video shot and edited by me.]

ADDED: I want to say that, for me, the second questioner exemplifies a central problem for Clegg and his agenda. The students at a university are always the students who were admitted. They feel hurt or outraged if they think the message is that they shouldn't be here. They're here, in the room, and the individuals who did not get in are not here to cry out with corresponding outrage.

It reminds me of debates about abortion. Those who were aborted are never present in the room to express their perspective on the issue. The emotions of those who are not present may be expressed, vicariously, by others, but it's another matter entirely to say to human beings as they stand in your presence: Under my proposed policy — the only morally/constitutionally permissible approach — you  lose.

Now, I'm sure Clegg would try to find a way to say these students wouldn't lose. Under a race-blind approach to admissions, some of them would get in, and, if so, they won't be burdened by a stigma that, he would say, attached when race is taken into account. And, in any event, a switch to a color-blind approach would only take place prospectively, so it wouldn't affect any of these students, who got in under the existing policy, and no matter how illegal or immoral the policy is, they didn't design it. They played by the rules in effect at the time, and they won and deserve their prize.

The policy will only affect individuals who are not in the room, who are out there, just as the students who didn't get in this year are out there. The difficult thing — and the true moral challenge — is to visualize those who are affected who are not in the room to express pain when you hurt them.

AND: I don't know that Clegg's primary concern really is for the individuals whose applications were rejected but who would have gotten in under a race-blind approach. I think he expressed more concern for the harm done to the students who did get in, the ones who were in the room resisting his message. He was telling them, to their faces, that they were being stigmatized by affirmative action. In that light, the young woman's statement "You disrespected me" really is not such an inaccurate understanding of what he was saying. He was concerned about her, but it wasn't a kind of concern she appreciated.

"You need to take an Ethnic Studies Requirement class!"

An audience member yells reeducation advice at Roger Clegg of the Center for Equal Opportunity, who asserts that public universities should not sort people according to race and ethnicity:

That's a short clip from the Federalist Society-sponsored debate that took place here on campus on September 13th.

[Video shot and edited by me.]

Wisconsin legislators fight over whether to fully reimburse Madison for law enforcement help during the protests.

The budget committee approved $8.2 million to cover all the extra law enforcement that was required during the protests, but some GOP legislators are resisting paying $751,500 to the city of Madison, on the theory that Madison police and Dane County deputies might not really have been serving in good faith.
"It's almost a slap in the face to ask that question," Madison Police Chief Noble Wray said. "It's very disappointing as a law enforcement professional that someone for political reasons would question the ethics and the integrity of our (work)."...

Republicans on the committee urged Walker administration officials to consider carefully the claims by the City of Madison and Dane County before paying them....

"I hope you're aware that the mayor of Madison clearly would have preferred his police officers to stay on the other side of the (Capitol) Square," Sen. Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) said.

Committee co-chairman Rep. Robin Vos (R-Rochester) echoed those reservations, saying he believes there were "legitimate concerns about actions of individual officers."...

Wray, the Madison police chief, said he never denied any direct request for help from the Capitol police or other state officials. He said that Madison police usually stayed off the Capitol Square grounds because of a prior agreement with the state that they would police the areas around it, which are their jurisdiction.
I'd like to see the specifics of those "concerns about actions of individual officers." In observing the protests nearly every day through the entire period of the protests, Meade and I often tried to figure out what the police were doing, including the Capitol police. There seemed to be a policy of facilitating the protesters, perhaps because it actually was the best strategy for maintaining order when the police were vastly outnumbered. I have video of protesters assuring me that "The police are on our side."

But allowing the protesters to believe that was one way of keeping them calm and under control. It made a lot of protesters willing to wait patiently in lines when they could have rushed doors, and it made them willing — much of the time — to listen to polite requests from police. I don't like the idea of questioning the integrity of the police who were faced with controlling huge crowds of relentless, angry people who felt righteously entitled to occupy the Capitol building and grounds.

Put the specifics out there, or pay up and move on.

As for the protesters, you drained that $8.2 million out of the state treasury. Take responsibility for that.

ADDED: From the Badger Herald:
A statement from the [Joint Finance Committe] said operating decisions of the Madison police during the protests were inappropriately affected by the political leanings of high ranking members of the police department and the Mayor’s office.

"Get nice and rowdy. It's a 4:15 game, plenty of time to get lubed up..."

Says Tom Brady to Patriots fans.
"Yeah. Start drinking early."
A Patriots spokesperson clarifies, saying that Brady wanted fans to "stay hydrated, drink a lot of water. Be loud. Drink responsibly."

This suggests new slang. Which do you like better?
"I'm getting lubed up," when you're drinking water.
"I'm staying hydrated," when you're drinking alcohol. free polls 

Did you see that Harvard law student — John Cochran — on "Survivor"?

The new season started last night.

For some reason, he blurted out, at the first opportunity, that he's watched every episode of the show (that's some 20+ seasons) and that he's a Harvard law student, which — you'd think he'd know if he's such a sharp student of the show — makes him look unreliable and threatening. Plus, he made a spectacle of his lack of "Survivor"-level physical beauty and athleticism. Well, maybe he has some genius strategy and making elementary blunders is some sort of sleight-of-hand misdirection.

Over at the Television Without Pity forum on last night's episode:
I didn't mind "Cochran" so much until his little self-pity rant where he bemoaned the unfairness of being voted out "before the three girls." I mean, ooh, "girls" might be better than you are? The shame, the shame!...

[Different commenter:] I was kind of rooting for Cochran until he threw in that "girl" bit. Was he at a different challenge than the rest of us? Did he not notice that the GIRL, Mikayla, was seriously kicking ass?

[Yet another commenter:] Trust me, they are giving Cochran MAJOR grief at Harvard Law School for that "girls" comment. Not cool.
Cochran assumes he is charmingly witty — because that's what he needs in place of looks. But that doesn't mean people see the humor. He probably intended the "girls" remark to be cute and self-deprecating, but those show fans didn't hear it that way.

So... are we rooting for the law student or not?

Speaking of rooting, Meade and I were going back and forth between "Survivor" and the Brewers game. Let's just say that it helped a bit to have the South Pacific as leavening in the Milwaukee experience.

A law authorizing police to enter a private home whenever they can see a keg inside.

An outrageous ordinance proposed in Madison, Wisconsin:
Downtown Alcohol Policy Coordinator Mark Woulf said police wanted the ability to enter house parties with visible kegs, especially in situations where kegs could entice more people to come and make parties "even more out of control."

"This is a man who has been relentlessly stalking my family to the point of moving in right next door to us..."

"... to harass us and spy on us to satisfy his creepy obsession with my wife... His book is full of disgusting lies, innuendo, and smears. Even The New York Times called this book 'dated, petty,' and that it 'chases caustic, unsubstantiated gossip."

Says Todd Palin, disgusted that Joe McGinniss is getting attention after putting adequately juicy nuggets in his book about Sarah Palin.

The referenced NYT review is by Janet Maslin, who exposes McGinniss's execrable ethics:
“The Rogue” ... includes this: “A friend says, ‘Sarah and her sisters had a fetish for black guys for a while.’  ” Mr. McGinniss did in 2011 make a phone call to the former N.B.A. basketball player Glen Rice, who is black, and prompted him to acknowledge having fond memories of Sarah Heath. While Mr. Rice avoids specifics and uses the words “respectful” and “a sweetheart,” Mr. McGinniss eggs him on with the kind of flagrantly leading question he seems to have habitually asked. In Mr. Rice’s case: “So you never had the feeling she felt bad about having sex with a black guy?”...
[McGinniss] even finds a species of Alaska yenta willing to remark on the condition of the Palins’ toilet...

... Mr. McGinniss suggests both that Ms. Palin is committed to stealth religious control of government, and that she is not sufficiently devout.

With the same imprecise aim he cites conspiracy theories that Ms. Palin may not be the mother of her youngest son, Trig, and questions the circumstances under which he was born. Mr. McGinniss puts forth a provocative case for doubting Ms. Palin’s account of Trig’s birth, which involved a round trip between Alaska and Texas while she was supposedly in labor. But then he comes to an indefensibly reckless conclusion: “It is perhaps the most blistering assessment of her character possible that many Wasillans who’d known Sarah from high school onward told me that even if she had not faked the entire story of her pregnancy and Trig’s birth, it was something she was eminently capable of doing.”
That last quote might be the most embarrassing sentence written by a journalist that I have ever read.

ADDED: Here's Filip Bondy in the NY Daily News:
The next time Sarah Palin complains about her treatment by any media member, that reporter might want to inform her that at least he or she is not literally sleeping with sources. Because according to a new book, Palin violated the most basic of journalistic tenets, bedding college basketball star Glen Rice in 1987 when she was a young TV sports reporter for KTUU in Anchorage....

This is the stuff that drives legitimate women reporters nuts, makes members of AWSM (Association for Women in Sports Media) furious because it tears at credibility and plays to false stereotypes. ..

"Should Faking a Name on Facebook Be a Felony?"

Orin Kerr asks:
The little-known law at issue is called the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. It was enacted in 1986 to punish computer hacking. But Congress has broadened the law every few years, and today it extends far beyond hacking. The law now criminalizes computer use that "exceeds authorized access" to any computer. Today that violation is a misdemeanor, but the Senate Judiciary Committee is set to meet this morning to vote on making it a felony.

The problem is that a lot of routine computer use can exceed "authorized access." Courts are still struggling to interpret this language. But the Justice Department believes that it applies incredibly broadly to include "terms of use" violations and breaches of workplace computer-use policies.
I was a victim of that crime back in 2007, and I got mocked for even objecting to the behavior, as though I was repressive and humorless. ("You know, I realize you're going on 70 or whatever, but seriously, you act like you're still in high school, being picked on.") I never said I wanted the government to prosecute the person who impersonated me on Facebook in violation of Facebook's Terms of Use. I just wanted Facebook to delete the imposter's account... which it did.

Anyway, there are a lot of complicated issues here. As Kerr observes, way too many things are swept into this vague law, and the effects have been limited because federal prosecutors tend not to charge misdemeanors. There is, however, some core behavior that ought to be prosecuted as a felony, and Congress ought to specify what it is and not simply trust prosecutors — incentivized by the new felony status of internet misbehavior — to select appropriate targets.

September 14, 2011

At the Late Night Café...

... go ahead and talk all night.

"Obama Approval Plummets on Jobs Plan."

"The downbeat assessment of the American Jobs Act reflects a growing and broad sense of dissatisfaction with the president. Americans disapprove of his handling of the economy by 62 percent to 33 percent, a Bloomberg National Poll conducted Sept. 9-12 shows. The disapproval number represents a nine point increase from six months ago."

Blitzer's question about the uninsured man who needed expensive care hit Ron Paul close to home.

Sam Stein explains:
Paul's 2008 campaign manager, Kent Snyder, went through a strikingly similar experience to Blitzer's hypothetical one, dying of complications from viral pneumonia just two weeks after Paul ended his presidential bid. Snyder was uninsured, so family and friends were forced to raise funds to cover his $400,000 in medical bills. Their efforts included setting up a website soliciting contributions from Paul supporters.

The episode reflects what Paul himself argued should be the free-market ideal for health insurance policy. During Monday night's GOP primary debate, the libertarian Republican made the case that health insurance coverage was a choice. If one decided to forgo it, he ran the risk of mounting bills. If a patient was on his deathbed, it wasn't the taxpayers' responsibility to pick up that tab.

"I practiced medicine before we had Medicaid in the early 1960s when I got out of medical school. I practiced at Santa Rosa hospital in San Antonia, and the churches took care of them," Paul said. "We never turned anybody away from the hospital. And we've given up on this whole concept that we might take care of ourselves and assume responsibility for ourselves, our neighbors, our friends, our churches would do it. This whole idea -- that's the reason the cost is so high. The cost is so high because they dump it on the government, it becomes a bureaucracy."
As Stein notes, people have been paying way more attention to the unseen idiots in the audience who shouted "yes" when Blitzer asked if we should let that guy die than to Paul's answer. And the fact is, Paul's answer is brilliantly stated. I'm not saying I agree with Paul, but what an articulate response!

Blitzer's question was designed to make Paul look heartless and extreme and unrealistic, and Paul flipped it, perfectly. Which is, I think, why the media would like to pay more attention to the yes-shouting jerks in the audience.

Oh, Gumby! Has it come to this?!

"Gumby gives up; Police keep the suit."

IN THE COMMENTS: Chip S. said:
Looks like he'll get some quality pokey time.

Madison radio personality Sly incites listeners to go to Paul Ryan's home and dump candy at his door.

Audio at the link.
We fired up our V-8 caravan and headed south to Janesville, home of an empty GM plant, worker plight, and Paul Ryan. He offered candy to a constituent who really just wanted a job and his legislative help in getting one for himself and the rest of Rock County's unemployed. So, we brought him enough sugar to last he [sic] and his yippy-skippy wife and neighbor the rest of their lives.
You can listen to the audio of the radio broadcast yesterday morning on WTDY. Sly gives out Ryan's home address, giggles about going over to the house to put candy there as a prank, and urges readers to head over there, with candy. He goes into detail about the directions to the house, the number of children who live there, and the physical attractiveness of the Congressman's wife.

"When Do Gay Kids Start 'Acting Gay'?"

"Sometimes when they're toddlers," writes Brian Palmer in Slate.

What? No discussion of the "pre-gay" boy on "Curb Your Enthusiasm"?!

Will the state legislature look at University of Wisconsin-Madison admissions after the reports on affirmative action?

Apparently yes:
As a result of the findings, Rep. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, issued a statement calling for an oversight hearing to review the “possibly illegal” process. Nass chairs the Assembly Committee on Colleges and Universities.

“The study raises serious allegations against the UW System that they would use race and ethnicity as a core admissions test,” said Mike Mikalsen, a spokesperson for Nass. “It seems to show numerous students are being bypassed, with hundreds of more qualified students not being admitted.”

Mikalsen said the hearing, which would be scheduled in the upcoming weeks, could lead to the drafting of new legislation concerning the issues at hand or a request being made to the attorney general for formal review.

He added litigation against UW lies “almost certainly” on the horizon.
You know, I've been thinking about last night's debate between Roger Clegg of the Center for Equal Opportunity (which released the reports accusing the UW of "severe racial discrimination") and Wisconsin lawprof Larry Church. Describing it afterwards, I said:
I would have liked more discussion of legal doctrine and the precise issues from the case law, but both men chose to concentrate on policy, with the assumption that racial equality and harmony are the desired ultimate goals. What's the best way to get there? It's an old, old question, and the 2 men mainly assembled the usual pro and con arguments, so I doubt if any minds were changed.
What I need to say this morning is that there are 2 separate matters: whether affirmative action is permissible and whether it is a good idea. If affirmative action violates the Constitution, it doesn't matter whether it's a good idea or not. It's not permissible. It isn't an option in the set of options that the University has when it designs its admissions policy. (Yes, you could try to get the Constitution amended or the University could decide to go ahead and violate the Constitution and try to cover up what it's really doing.)

But is it a good idea? What struck me last night is that both Clegg and Church spoke almost entirely about whether it's a good idea. Each man had his set of reasons for his policy position, and, frankly, I found it a bit dull, because they weren't honestly agonizing over the difficult costs and benefits and ethical trade-offs. They already had their positions and they advocated them. There was no view into a real human mind thinking seriously about a difficult problem, no real-time performance of decisionmaking.

Now, why did both men choose to discuss the matter at the policy level, each endeavoring to sell his policy? Why did neither man have much to say about whether it's constitutional? One answer is that it's a complicated question, and the answer is that it's constitutional if you do it the right way and it takes a long time to explain what the right way is, and it takes a really long time to go into the matter of whether the University is presently doing it the right way. You could also say that the legal question is difficult enough that most people — including judges! — are going to decide it based on what they want the answer to be. So it's best to talk about policy anyway.

But shouldn't Clegg want to emphasize law? Clegg wants to deny the University the full range of options and the way to do that is to put the affirmative action option off limits by designating it as a constitutional rights violation.

Scroll back to the top of this post for your answer. The University is currently the decisionmaker about which policy to adopt among the range of permissible policies, but the state legislature could trump the University. Clegg may seem to be threatening a lawsuit and, if he takes that route, he will need to speak in the language of constitutional rights.

But there is a different route, the legislative route, and it doesn't depend on aligning the facts of this case with the fussy particularities of the Supreme Court's case law. It's a direct appeal to the people of Wisconsin and their representatives in the Capitol. And nobody needs to understand the law for that groundswell of antagonism to affirmative action to take the policymaking power away from the University.

"Ridiculous NY-09 spin: 'It’s a very difficult district for Democrats.'"

Ed Morrissey laughs.

Just how big is the NY-09 result?

September 13, 2011

There was a huge crowd for tonight's big affirmative action debate here at the University of Wisconsin.

But the 2 speakers  — Roger Clegg and Larry Church — refrained from cranking up the emotions in the big room. There was some clapping and finger-snapping to approve of just about anything pro-affirmative action and some hooting and booing over anything against affirmative action, but the men were in no way drowned out. Clegg and Church got to say what they had to say. During the question period, the various students who got a turn at the mike sounded passionate but not irrational.

I would have liked more discussion of legal doctrine and the precise issues from the case law, but both men chose to concentrate on policy, with the assumption that racial equality and harmony are the desired ultimate goals. What's the best way to get there? It's an old, old question, and the 2 men mainly assembled the usual pro and con arguments, so I doubt if any minds were changed.

As Meade and I walked home, I called the students "admirable" for not getting out of hand and shouting down the speakers, and Meade made fun of my low standard. I said, "It's Wisconsin. Kudos for not rioting."

ADDED: Pictures:

"Socialism 101/What it is and why we need it":

In Madison: 150 protesters storm hotel to disrupt press conference given by the president of the Center for Equal Opportunity.

Roger Clegg was announcing 2 studies that purport to show the University of Wisconsin racially discriminates in its undergrad and law school admissions.
About 50 minutes into Clegg's press conference -- in which he took questions from media members, students and UW-Madison faculty -- noise erupted outside the banquet room. Protesters, most of whom were UW-Madison students, could easily be heard chanting "Power to the people!"
Power to the people?! You know, when one side is claiming constitutional rights, yelling about the majority's will is not impressive. Seriously, what is the point of a protest like this? What is it coherently saying? If you want to argue that there is no violation of rights... why are you yelling? And why are you breaking into a private place of business?

The article says the hotel secured its entrances, but one student got in "through the food services entrance and then allowed everyone else inside." And hotel "staff were... rushed by a mob of protesters, throwing employees to the ground."

Meanwhile, at Union South, there's a debate at 7 pm between Clegg and our wonderful Wisconsin Law colleague Larry Church. Will the 2 men be allowed to debate or will hostile voices try to drown them out? I'll let you know.

A Federalist Society/Wisconsin Law School event promoted with boxing gloves...

... just got a lot more boxing-y.

Professor Larry Church will debate Roger Clegg of the Center for Equal Opportunity tonight, the evening of the day Clegg dropped the Center's bombshell studies accusing the Law School (and the undergraduate program) of "severe racial discrimination."

The event — a debate titled "Affirmative Action and Higher Education" — was planned — by The Federalist Society — without knowledge that these reports were forthcoming.

It's scheduled to take place tonight at 7. It was originally going to take place in a room that will hold only 95 people. I will update to tell you where it actually will take place when I find out.

UPDATE: The event will take place in South Hall, in our beautiful new Union South.

The Center for Equal Opportunity releases its 2 studies and claims "severe discrimination on race and ethnicity" in UW admissions, both for undergraduates and at the law school.

I have not read the studies, but they are available for downloading at the Center's website here, where the findings are summarized:
The odds ratio favoring African Americans and Hispanics over whites was 576-to-1 and 504-to-1, respectively, using the SAT and class rank while controlling for other factors. Thus, the median composite SAT score for black admittees was 150 points lower than for whites and Asians, and the Latino median SAT score was 100 points lower. Using the ACT, the odds ratios climbed to 1330-to-1 and 1494-to-1, respectively, for African Americans and Hispanics over whites.

For law school admissions, the racial discrimination found was also severe, with the weight given to ethnicity much greater than given to, for example, Wisconsin residency. Thus, an out-of-state black applicant with grades and LSAT scores at the median for that group would have had a 7 out 10 chance of admission and an out-of-state Hispanic a 1 out of 3 chance—but an in-state Asian with those grades and scores had a 1 out of 6 chance and an in-state white only a 1 out of 10 chance.

CEO chairman Linda Chavez noted: “This is the most severe undergraduate admissions discrimination that CEO has ever found in the dozens of studies it has published over the last 15 years.” Chavez also noted: “The studies show that literally hundreds of students applying as undergrads or to the law school are rejected in favor of students with lower test scores and grades, and the reason is that they have the wrong skin color or their parents came from the wrong countries.”

"Insurgents launched a complex assault against the American Embassy and the nearby NATO headquarters on Tuesday..."

"... pelting the heavily guarded compounds with rockets in an attack that raised new questions about the security of Afghanistan’s capital and the Westerners working there."

How many roadside memorials are enough?

500 in one city... and the requests keep rolling in.

"The Reagan library is the way presidential libraries have been in the past... The Nixon library represents the new kind of museum that presents more of an historic view, warts and all."

Said history prof Jon Wiener.

That would have been a spiffier sound bite if he'd said "The Nixon library represents the new kind of museum that presents more of an historic view, 5 o'clock shadow and all."

Or has 5 o'clock shadow lost the sinister connotation it had back in the days when Nixon lost the TV debate with JFK (but won on the radio)?

Or maybe Wiener should have said: "The Nixon library represents the new kind of museum that presents more of an historic view, shifty eyes and all."

"The last two Republican presidential debates have been some of the most macabre on record."

"Blitzer asked if under Paul’s libertarian philosophy, a sick man without insurance should be allowed to die in the hospital rather than have the state pay his medical bills. Before Paul could answer that question, shouts of 'yes!' and cheering bubbled up from the audience."

"Seldom has there been as clear a winner" as Mitt Romney at last night's debate.

Asserts Fred Barnes.

"The White House is girding for a political loss in the heart of New York on Tuesday."

"They’re also spinning up an explanation that won’t entirely result in the blame landing on the low popularity of the president. As in Massachusetts, where Democratic Senate candidate Martha Coakley was faulted by the White House and many others for tone-deaf campaigning, Democratic candidate Dave Weprin may see the undercarriage of that new White House campaign bus."

"A challenge to our commenters: Just try to out-racist your counterparts over at Ann Althouse’s blog."

See? This is the kind of thing I have to contend with. Web writers who don't like me or don't like whatever side of politics they think I represent will comb through the comments to find whatever sounds worst and then smear me and the entire comments community here. As the discussion turns to affirmative action today, people who would like to discredit or silence me are going to be especially active looking for comments. What can be done? 1. Think about what you are writing and how it will look to outsiders, 2. Don't feed the troll, 3. Perceive the Moby.

It's protest time again.

"Sit-in at Doubletree Hotel in Madison to protest lawsuit being filed by the Center for Equal Opportunity against the University of Wisconsin, alleging that current admissions policies discriminate against white and Asian students."

ADDED: I'm not the protest type, but I do remember once participating in a protest — marching around in a circle and chanting. The subject was affirmative action. The year was 1970 and the place was the University of Michigan. The chant was "Open it up... or shut it down," and we did shut it down. There was a student strike. (I still have the letters I wrote to my parents explaining why we were striking.) In 1973, the University of Michigan began its affirmative action program. These days, I'm a law professor, and I teach the case in which the Supreme Court found that the program violated the Constitution. Speaking of circles.

And I'm a blogger observing the protests. One observation I have about student protests is that the applicants who don't get in are not around to march and chant. They went somewhere else — perhaps Eau Claire or Whitewater. The university officials last night stressed that every student who is here should feel good about being here, that he or she deserves to be here. Of course, we want everyone who is here to feel great about it. The officials don't see much need to speak to the individuals who were rejected. They're not part of the campus climate. Back in 1970 when we protested at Michigan, we were protesting against our own interest, being altruistic, saying, essentially, maybe we don't deserve to be here. It is important to visualize the effect of a policy on persons who are not present to assert their interests.

If the question is whether the current admission policy is constitutional under the existing Supreme Court case law, we need to examine the details. In its 2003 cases involving the University of Michigan programs, the undergraduate program was found unconstitutional, but the law school's approach was upheld. So, under the current law, it depends on how you do it, and of course, Wisconsin's policy today was shaped with knowledge of that case law.

It should be noted, however, that the Michigan law school program was upheld in a 5-4 decision in which Justice O'Connor provided the decisive vote. I think today's Supreme Court — with Alito replacing O'Connor — would have gone the other way in that case. It remains to be seen what will happen to the lawsuit against the University of Wisconsin. We have yet to see the reports that will be released today and how the university will respond.

Not every controversy is resolved through a lawsuit, of course. For example, California, via proposition, banned the use of race as a factor in admissions. Obviously, Wisconsin has a conservative legislature and governor, but I tend to doubt that they want the mass of trouble that would ensue if they were to propose to end affirmative action by statute. So, I assume there will be a lawsuit, and we shall see what happens.

ADDED: Here is the UW-Madison Chancellor's response, asserting that admissions at UW-Madison are done through "a holistic, competitive and selective process."

"Two reports released today allege the University of Wisconsin discriminates against whites and Asian applicants and have electrified both UW administration and some student leaders."

This is the diversity emergency discussed in the previous post:
The reports were released at midnight on Tuesday from the Center for Equal Opportunity in conjunction with a press conference CEO President Roger Clegg will hold at the Double Tree Inn at 11 a.m. today. Clegg will also be at a debate on the future of Affirmative Action at the UW Law School at 7 p.m. this evening....
In an interview with The Badger Herald, Clegg said the reports show how a heavy preference is given to blacks and Latinos over whites and Asians in the admissions process for undergraduate programs and in the law school.

[Damon Williams, UW vice provost for diversity and climate,] and Dean of Students Lori Berquam said CEO had filed an open records request on the UW admissions process for both undergraduates and law school applicants and had already set the wheels in motion to orchestrate a “coordinated attack” against the campus....

Williams stressed the need for students to mobilize, and the students present did not seem to need any convincing.

“Don’t wait for us to show the way,” Williams said to students, who were already assembling poster board to make signs against the CEO president’s report and visit.
That was the report in The Badger Herald. Here's the other student newspaper, The Daily Cardinal:
The "aggressive and right wing" organization's plan, according to Berquam, is to effectively eliminate affirmative action at UW-Madison.
"I was so upset that our students are going to have to wake up in the morning and deal with this," said Williams with tears in his eyes.  "That's not what students came here for."...

But Williams told students not to despair, for every student admitted to UW-Madison is and deserves to be a badger.

"I want students to be able to be in power; to say this is who we are, this is what we value," Williams said.

He said students should lead the university's response against CEO....

One of the first responses will occur tomorrow, when students opposing CEO's stance will hold a rally "to express their solidarity and pride in UW and a sense of togetherness," said [Sarah Mathews, vice president of public relation for the Wisconsin Union Directorate].
ADDED: In the next post, I discuss the law and politics.

September 12, 2011

"This afternoon a troubling communication was brought to my attention that involves a threat to our diversity efforts."

"I invite you to an urgent meeting this evening at 8:00 in the MSC Lounge in the Red Gym to discuss this matter. While last minute, I urge you to participate so we can be in community regarding our response."

What's going on?!

UPDATE: Well, it's not that we fell in the U.S. News rankings. Last year:
The University of Wisconsin-Madison ranked 13th among public institutions in rankings released today (Tuesday, Aug. 17) in the U.S. News & World Report's 2011 Edition of America's Best Colleges.

UW-Madison also tied for 45th among 262 national doctoral universities. In the 2010 edition, the university ranked ninth among public institutions and tied for 39th among national doctoral universities.
This year, we've gone up to 10th among public institutions and 42d among national universities.

UPDATE: Explained here and discussed here

Live-blogging the Republican Debate.

Come! Hang out here. My son John is live-blogging too. He's great at this, so check him out.

7:04 — Somehow, CNN is incorporating the Tea Party. We'll see how that works.

7:06 — Thumping music. And everyone's in a black suit tonight. Kind of scary... but finally a lady! It's Michele Bachmann, in a red jacket. For a while there, I thought it was going to turn into a boxing match.

7:07 — WTF? The National Anthem precedes a debate? This is making me want to switch over to the Brewers game. Is CNN all hot to prove it's patriotic? Ridiculous!

7:09 — Santorum and Romney mouth the anthem. Perry looks staunchly patriotic. This is soooo cheeseball. The singer goes all angry-face. Freeeeeeeeeee! Yikes. Give me a break. CNN has set this up to repel us.

7:12 — Introductory statements. Blah.

7:15 — "President Obama stole over $500 from Medicare for Obamacare" — says Bachmann.

7:16 — Perry assures the oldies they'll have Social Security. But "this is a broken system" — and lots of other people have called it a Ponzi scheme.

7:18 — Mitt Romney challenges Perry for saying SS shouldn't even be a federal matter, that it's unconstitutional. Does Perry want to retreat from that? Perry does retreat, saying we mainly need to "have a conversation" about it. Romney pushes him again and asserts it's "an essential program." Perry hits him back with his own statement, that it's criminal. The audience is so supportive of Perry, cheering every Perry jab.

7:20 — I think CNN's scheme is to have packed the audience with the Tea Party faithful, making it a cheering section for Rick Perry. It's a bit irritating. I think Mitt knows what's happening, and he has a great opportunity to show that he can keep his bearings.

7:31 — Funny how no one will take away the seniors' drug benefit.  Even Paul. "We shouldn't have voted for it..." but we can't cut it.

7:40 — The American economy will "take off like a rocket ship" if you let small business folk get a return on their investment, says Romney. Pushed by Blitzer, Perry blurts out a slogan: "People are tired of spending money we don't have on programs we don't want."

7:43 — Romney says there are 7 things we need to do. He's counting them off. Are we going to be tested on this?

7:45 — "If you're dealt 4 aces, that doesn't necessarily make you a great poker player," quips Romney, asked how much credit Perry deserves for all his accomplishments in Texas. Apparently, Texas is the 4 aces. He ticks off 4 attributes of Texas. This could be an amusing Romney tic: numbered lists.

7:46 — Perry has some nicely Reaganesque speech cadences. Works well to make Romney seem rabbit-y.

7:48 — "There are people comin' to Texas — for 5 years in a row, the number 1 destination — they're not comin' because we're overtaxing them. They're comin' to Texas because they know there's still a land of freedom in America, freedom from overtaxation, freedom from overlitigation, and freedom from overregulation, and it's called Texas. We need to do the same thing for America." Well spoken! By Rick Perry.

7:50 — Huntsman says, no, it's Utah that is the best state of all.

7:59 — Bachmann wants to put the Federal Reserve on "such at tight leash that they will squeak."

8:00  — Perry stands by his "almost treasonous" remark, referring to the use of the Federal Reserve for political purposes. Think that's inflammatory? I don't. I think it's rather bland. And I love the total unrufflability of Perry. He seems so happy too, even as he represents viewpoints normally considered angry. I like his temperament. I think. Or is it a little odd?

8:01 —A young guys asks a classic question: "Out of every dollar that I earn, how much do you think I deserve to keep?"

8:13 — Very intense disagreement over inoculating schoolgirls against cervical cancer. Bachmann, Perry, and Santorum all sounded strong, even as Perry had to concede he's made a mistake. Bachmann accuses Perry of being bought for $5,000 and Perry says he's insulted that she'd think he could be bought so cheaply.

8:15 — John writes: "Perry keeps defending his HPV vaccination law by saying, 'My goal was to fight cancer,' and 'I will always err on the side of life.' Isn't that exactly the same principle used by supporters of government-sponsored health care, which Perry presumably thinks is tyrannical?"

8:22 — Michele Bachmann is on fire: "2012 is it. This is the election that's going to decide if we have socialized medicine in this country or not."

8:34 — Huntsman accuses Perry of treason for saying we can't secure the border. And just before that, Perry got a lot of boos for defending the Texas law that lets young people in Texas illegally pay in-state tuition at public colleges.

8:35 — Romney takes a tough position on illegal immigration. "Of course we build a fence."

8:51 — What would you bring to the White House? Perry says, "the most beautiful, most thoughtful, incredible First Lady that this country has ever seen — Anita." That seems to overshadow the ones that went before, making it hard for Romney, who follows, not to promote his wife, but Romney does well, saying he'd bring back the bust of Winston Churchill.

8:52 — Huntsman will bring his Harley Davidson. Does he win the quien-es-mas-macho game?

9:00 — So... what did you think? Ron Paul empathizing with al Qaeda was a bit... off. Perry lost some ground with the rowdy crowd by empathizing with undocumented aliens. Huntsman and Bachmann were feisty. Perry was solid and articulate. Romney was fine. Cain, Santorum, Newt... they got their statements in well enough, but I can't see them as serious contenders.

Text at last: The American Jobs Act.

Read it.

"School garden organizers around Madison say running a garden is not without its challenges, and one of the biggest is getting teachers involved."

Should school teachers be doing the gardening?
"Teachers just don't have the time," [Mary Michaud, a parent who started the garden at Madison's Van Hise Elementary.] "And many don't have the training or the instructional support to do it."
Suddenly, they want you to be a farm worker!
As a result, many school gardens primarily are run by parent volunteers, who can be in short supply in schools with high poverty rates where parents don't usually have time for gardening.
Poverty? Do middle-class parents have more time?
But Max Lubarsky, who has worked as an Americorp volunteer at Glendale and this fall will be an educational assistant, and Joe Muellenberg, youth nutrition educator with UW-Extension, have in the last two years revived the school garden. They hope it will attract more parent and teacher interest.

The two moved the garden from the back of the school where it often flooded to the front and built 11 raised beds, including three in the shape of pizza slices growing basil, peppers, tomatoes, eggplant and cilantro.

Lubarsky said students participating in a Madison School & Community Recreation program do most of the work at the garden now, but incorporating it into curriculum is "definitely a goal for the future."
So... there's no teaching. Just farm work for the kids. But it's okay to compel this for them because... why? Because you think they're fat? But your garden is premised on pizza!
Teachers don't need to go out and dig in the garden; they can simply hold math class among the tomatoes to get students thinking about the environment and being outside, he said.
The old outdoor class. Does that ever work? I say teach in the classroom and then give the kids some time to go out and play, freely. Not work in the sun.

I'm not against gardens, by the way. I love gardens. And I think a school garden could be a great learning experience. I just have a problem with underdeveloped feel-good projects and compulsory menial work.

"Al Gore in 24-hour broadcast to convert climate skeptics."

Convert skeptics... convert skeptics...

Does that sound a little religion-y to you?

"I think women should never be in politics. We're just not suited to it."

Said Jackie Kennedy.

"He came back over to the White House to his bedroom and he started to cry, just with me."

"He came back over to the White House to his bedroom and he started to cry, just with me. You know, just for one -- just put his head in his hands and sort of wept... It was so sad, because all his first 100 days and all his dreams, and then this awful thing to happen. And he cared so much."

JFK, the bookworm.

"He was a voracious reader who brought books with him into the bathtub, and even tried to read at meals and while doing his tie."

From the Jackie tapes. Also, he changed into his pajamas before taking a midday nap and, each evening, he knelt by the side of the bed to say his prayers. Went to confession too:
As president, he occasionally slipped into a confession booth in Palm Beach, Fla., "like anyone would," she said, with a Secret Service agent holding a place in line for him and the priest never knowing he'd just had the president in the confessional.
Can we get some fact-checking on this stuff?

"A Madison man stopped an attack on a Madison woman by pulling a gun on the alleged attacker..."

It happened in Madison!
The man with the gun held the suspect... at gunpoint until police arrived...

Police spokesman Joel DeSpain said the man got involved when he heard screams in a common hallway of the apartment building and went to investigate.

"He saw the suspect standing over the woman, stomping on her head," DeSpain said. "He yelled for the man to stop but his pleas fell on deaf ears."

The man went back to his apartment to get his cell phone so he could call 911, but he couldn't find the phone and grabbed the handgun instead.

"He went back into the hallway and pointed the gun at the suspect, once again ordering him to stop," DeSpain said. "This time, the suspect paid heed."

"Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Mary Kuhnmuench found that there was no precedent for horn-honking being constitutionally protected political speech."

Azael Brodhead, a 36-year-old Iraq War veteran, represented himself, unsuccessfully, after he was ticketed for "Unnecessary Blowing of Horn":
Between 5:30 p.m. and 5:45 p.m. each day, someone in a black Honda would drive past Walker's house in Wauwatosa, blow his horn like crazy, give the finger through his sunroof and shout, "Recall Walker."

Week after week, the routine didn't change.
Then, on April 27, state troopers stationed at the Walker home decided to take action.

"I stopped the vehicle for the constant horn violation on today's date," wrote State Trooper Robert Simpson. "I asked the driver for his driver's license, and he immediately stated he was recording me and that he was a state probation agent." ...
"Probation agent is my day job," said Brodhead, who made $42,720 last year. "Being a concerned citizen is 24-7."
That happened in Wauwatosa, not Madison, it should be noted. I wonder what it would take for Madison police to ticket someone for political horn-honking.  Obviously, there have to be some generally applicable laws about excessive horn-honking. The question is whether they were selectively applied in this case.

Is Perry ahead in the polls mainly because Republicans think he's most likely to win?

I'm reading this new CNN poll of Republicans and " independents who lean toward the GOP":
Thirty-six percent, for example, see him as the strongest leader in the field, with Romney second at 21 percent. According to the poll, 35 percent say Perry is the Republican candidate most likely to get the economy moving again, with Romney in second at 26 percent.

Nearly three in ten say that Perry is the candidate who is most likely to fight for his beliefs, with Palin in second place at 23 percent and, significantly, Romney in a distant tie for fourth at just 11 percent.
But Perry's biggest strength may be the electability factor, with 42 percent saying he has the best chance of beating Obama next year. Some 26 percent say Romney has the best chance of defeating the president....
As I said in the previous post, Perry gives Romney the opportunity to demonstrate a fighting spirit.
The poll indicates that Perry doesn't fare quite as well on issues. Only 26 percent say he is the Republican hopeful who is most likely to agree with them on the issues. That's good enough for the top spot on that measure, too, but it's a far cry from the low 30s and high 40s Perry pulls on electability and leadership.

Perry's biggest Achilles heel may be the likeability factor. Only one in four say he is the most likable GOP candidate out there, his lowest mark on the six items tested.
He still comes out in first place, though! (PDF here.) Second place goes to Palin, who's not even running (yet). So what kind of an Achilles heel is it that one in 5 persons thinks Sarah Palin is more likeable than you?!

"Why the Perry-Romney Slugfest Plays Right Into Obama’s Hands."

TNR's Ed Kilgore says:
Every moment they spend sparring over the New Deal and Great Society is a boon to Barack Obama. Even if the incumbent cannot win a referendum on his own presidency, he can win a competition between the ghost of Barry Goldwater and the ghosts of FDR and LBJ.
It seems to me that Perry is giving Mitt Romney a great opportunity to demonstrate his fighting skills.

Rick Perry, the death penalty, and the "Texas governor is weak" argument.

Jonathan Weisman in the Wall Street Journal:
In 2009, two days before an agency called the Texas Forensic Science Commission was to hear evidence that an innocent man may have been put to death, Gov. Rick Perry removed the panel's chairman and two other members, replacing them with a fresh set of allies who then bottled up the issue.

The move, which the commissioners say took them by surprise, was one of many Mr. Perry has taken to strengthen his authority and centralize control—turning a traditionally weak governorship into a power center. Now a Republican presidential candidate, Mr. Perry says he wants to diminish the reach of the federal government. His history suggests he would be unafraid to exercise power to achieve his goals....
The move, which the commissioners say took them by surprise, was one of many Mr. Perry has taken to strengthen his authority and centralize control—turning a traditionally weak governorship into a power center. Now a Republican presidential candidate, Mr. Perry says he wants to diminish the reach of the federal government. His history suggests he would be unafraid to exercise power to achieve his goals.
It could also suggest the opposite! If the point is, he's good at consolidating his own power, then, in a position of national power, he might consolidate power at the national level.

As for the death penalty issue in particular, Rick Perry — at last week's debate — did not rely on the argument that the Texas governor had little power. I believe some bloggers brought up the weak-governor argument, and I thought it was notable that he eschewed that excuse. I assumed he had decided to forgo that argument because it is generally unhelpful to his cause. (He wants to portray himself as a richly experienced executive.) But now I see the a specific reason involving the details of the Cameron Todd Willingham execution.

There's another debate tonight — which I plan to live-blog — and I hope the questioners — it's CNN this time — ask him about the issue raised in Weisman's article.

"Monday morning, wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up..."

"It's time to go... time to go to work."

September 11, 2011

The tape tape.

Tape Generations from johan rijpma on Vimeo.

Via Metafilter.

"New Yorkers defiant in face of terror threat."

One more day of defiance passes in New York City.

"Violently liberal women in politics" preferred Adlai Stevenson to JFK because they "were scared of sex."

Oh my! The transcript of the Jackie Kennedy tapes has hit the NYT.
“Suddenly, everything that’d been a liability before — your hair, that you spoke French, that you didn’t just adore to campaign, and you didn’t bake bread with flour up to your arms — you know, everybody thought I was a snob and hated politics,” she tells Mr. Schlesinger. All of that changed. “I was so happy for Jack, especially now that it was only three years together that he could be proud of me then,” she says. “Because it made him so happy — it made me so happy. So those were our happiest years.”...

Describing the night of the inauguration, she recalled that she was both recovering from a Caesarean section and exhausted. She skips dinner and takes a nap. But she finds herself unable to get out of bed to attend the inaugural balls until Dr. Janet Travell, who would become the White House physician, materializes and hands her an orange pill.

“And then she told me it was Dexadrine,” Mrs. Kennedy says.

"Are carrots orange for political reasons?"


Presidential prayer demeanor.

Head bowed/head uplifted.

Would this be a better picture if Michelle Obama's head did not appear to be a bulbous extension of Obama's head? And if Bush's head didn't seem to be a weight hanging from Obama's neck? At first I thought yes, but now I think it's utterly fascinating, symbolically and graphically. Note that we only see Obama's body, so the other 2 heads seem like growths on that body. His wife would pull him back, perhaps with excessive braininess, and his predecessor would pull him down, with all the regrets and burdens of the past. With effort, he lifts up his head...
But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
That's not the Psalm Obama read at the ceremony, which was Psalm 46. This is Psalm 3.
LORD, how many are my foes!
How many rise up against me!
Many are saying of me,
“God will not deliver him.”...

Arise, LORD! Deliver me, my God!
Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked.
Lord, take these sons of bitches out and give America back to an America where we belong.

President Bush, reading Lincoln's letter at the 9/11 ceremony in NYC.

"I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save. I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours, to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of Freedom."

President Obama reads Psalm 46 at the NYC 9/11 ceremony.

Come, behold, the works of the Lord, who has made desolations in the earth...

Presidents Obama and Bush arrive at the World Trade Center memorial.

At the Reflection Café...

... you can talk about whatever you want.

"I thought I’ll only be alive for maybe a minute longer, so I only have to keep trying to figure out how to save my life for one more minute."

"I told myself I can’t give up until I pass out. I remember that I hoped for a fast death. Then something switched in me. I was okay dying.... Now I realize that the time when I could not breathe was probably less than a minute. I had accepted the pain and my death after only 30 seconds."

Penelope Trunk describes her post-9/11 path, from high achievement in New York City to retreat, of a kind, in Wisconsin.

Who would seek this gift of knowing what you would think if you believed you were living the last 30 seconds of your life? But if that gift arrived... what would it look like?

"Is it just me, or are the 9/11 commemorations oddly subdued?"

Asks Paul Krugman.

Is it odd to be subdued?

Having observed that we are subdued and that it is odd, Krugman applies the label: shame. We are ashamed of ourselves for what we did after the attacks.
Te atrocity should have been a unifying event, but instead it became a wedge issue.
Te atrocity. Fix the typo, Mr. Krugman. People will think you haven't given enough weight to the atrocity. As long as we're looking for symptoms and making diagnoses, I might as well do it too.
The memory of 9/11 has been irrevocably poisoned; it has become an occasion for shame. And in its heart, the nation knows it.

I’m not going to allow comments on this post, for obvious reasons.
You don't want to see what you don't want to see, which is oddly at odds with your belief that Americans have a shameful way of blinding ourselves to the full range of what is happening and what we are doing.

Today, we observe the 10-year mark since the terrorists attacks of 9/11.

What will you do to mark the occasion? Is the 10th anniversary different for you?

Do your reflections remain fixed on the human beings who suffered and died?

Do you think about how the attacks changed our country? Do you think about yourself — where you were when you first heard, how you reacted, how — perhaps — your life took a new path?