October 15, 2011

Madison Peace March: The Movie.

Meade shot the video. I edited. This is what it looked like today on State Street and up on the Capitol Square for the big anti-war march. I make an appearance in the final frames.

"Solidary with Palestine" — a banner at the anti-war march today in Madison.

A hilarious and eerie interaction with iPhone 4s.

After having some trouble understanding me, the new iPhone has gotten quite good at hearing my speech. I said, "Play 'Poses' by Rufus Wainwright" and it did. I love that song, but with Meade listening too, I was afraid it was dreary, so I told the phone "Stop playing that song." It complied.

Meade said, "There's a real person listening on the other end." So I asked the phone, "Are you a real person listening to me, like maybe in India?"

Here's the answer I got, my next statement, and the response:



The anti-war march — today in Madison, Wisconsin.

"Hope is in the street not the White House."

"Who lied? Who died? Who pays? Who profits?"

"Birds not bombs."

"Corporations get handouts/We get shut out."

"Occupy the World."

"U.S. empire abroad requires austerity at home! Bring all troops & dollars home now."/"Still waiting to get trickled down on."

"Soon the poor will have nothing left to eat but the rich."

Following a man in a badger hat and rainbow fingerless gloves, a woman eats from a bag of popcorn:

"The world is a dangerous place to live... not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."

"End the wars," a sign clothes-pinned onto a marijuana flag, held by a man wearing a "No more drug war" T-shirt.

"It's time for peace" (and also time for the Farmers' Market, which is going on at the Capitol Square at the same time the peace march arrives).

Oh, no, no, no! John Nichols is not the sort of person who would compare Scott Walker to Stalin.

Here's a priceless chunk of bullshit:
Joseph Stalin is reputed to have suggested that it did not matter who cast the votes. What matters is who counts the votes. I don’t have a taste for comparing Gov. Scott Walker with the Soviet strongman. But when it comes to managing elections, Walker is giving his harshest critics ample encouragement to make the comparison.
So... it's not that Nichols is the type who'd say somebody is like Stalin, it's that Scott Walker is just so terribly much like Stalin that he's forced to overcome his reticence and observe that some other people are probably going to be forced to compare him to Stalin.

"That's the best way: You just get on with the whole thing. Never mind suing anyone. And just do something different."

That's Bill Cunningham, the NYT fashion photographer/commentator, talking specifically about the failed lawsuit over red soles on shoes, and, in the process, making a nice general point about litigiousness.

ADDED: If you watch the clip, you'll see Cunningham doesn't think much of Christian Louboutin for suing to protect its distinctive trademark red soles. It lost the lawsuit against YSL. But he mainly jumps forward to delight at the other shoemakers who are making other colorful soles. We see yellow and blue soled shoes.

It's not very coherent as a legal concept. He never says YSL should have picked a different color than red. He just likes the other shoemakers who find something different to do. But does that mean that Louboutin should have found something different than bringing a lawsuit? It's not at all clear.

I think Cunningham is saying: I don't care about law! Law isn't delightful! Extravagant shoes are delightful! Let's engage with the things in life that are delightful!

"I'm not aware of any meetings about 'the antiwar march hare in Madison.'"

My new iPhone's Siri program just got closer than ever before to understanding a question I asked, which was: "When is the anti-war march here in Madison?" I know there's an anti-war march today, and I'm trying to find out when. To be fair, Googling my question doesn't pull up the answer either.

But I love the robotic intelligence that substitutes — for "march here" — March Hare:

Hey! It's a tea party!

UPDATE: I just asked "What time is the Badger game today?" and was understood exactly and the phone immediately brought up the official UWBadgers site. So... go iPhone. And... go Badgers!

UPDATE 2: The phone seems to have figured out how to understand me. I asked "What's the best blog written by a law professor?" and it got it word for word. It wouldn't express an opinion however, but asked if I'd like it to "search the web" for the answer. That is, want me to Google that for you? I tested it with "Who's the best Republican Party candidate for President?" and, again, it offered to search the web. The iPhone is opinion neutral. And it's not cruel neutrality. You need a human being to get cruel neutrality. The robot provides bland neutrality.

Obama admistration abandons a part of Obamacare that can't be made to work.

The NYT reports:
Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, said she had concluded that premiums would be so high that few healthy people would sign up. The program, which was intended for people with chronic illnesses or severe disabilities, was known as Community Living Assistance Services and Supports, or Class....

“We have not identified a way to make Class work at this time,” Ms. Sebelius said. She said the program, which had been championed by Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, was financially unsustainable....

When Congress was developing the program in late 2009, Senator Kent Conrad, Democrat of North Dakota and chairman of the Budget Committee, described it as “a Ponzi scheme of the first order” because it required an ever-increasing stream of premiums to cover the cost of benefits.
A Ponzi scheme! I guess it was terrible of Conrad to call it a Ponzi scheme at the time, but now the administration is admitting that no matter how hard they try, they just can't disguise the fact that it's a Ponzi scheme.

The question remains: What are the other Ponzi schemes, the ones you're not yet forced to admit are Ponzi schemes?

Realize that the Class Act was portrayed as a source of revenue in the calculations about the feasibility of the entire health care reform. To go back to that Firedoglake post (discussed earlier today here):
[I]n deep-sixing the CLASS Act, the Administration just forfeited $86 billion in savings on the Affordable Care Act. 
I know... try to get your mind around that.
That’s because the CLASS Act was a net revenue positive in the ten-year window of the legislation, because it collected more in premiums that it paid out in the early years, according to CBO scoring.

So the effective nullification of the CLASS Act costs $86 billion. But it’s unlikely that $86 billion will be made up in any other way. If Congress repealed the CLASS Act, they might have to find offsets. But since the White House just isn’t going to implement the program, the savings won’t be realized but nobody has to worry about paygo or anything. It just blows a hole in the medium-term budget.
Wow. That explanation is head-slappingly weird but you see the point: There was never $86 billion to be used to offset other costs, but it was used anyway.

My trouble getting Siri to work in iPhone 4s reminds Chip Ahoy of his mother and his dog.

He writes:
The dog jumped on the sofa, Mum said, "Tina, get down." Tina obeyed. She dropped into the down position but she stayed on the sofa even though Mum was not her trainer. It happened Mum uttered the precise command that works: the dog's name, the single-word clear command.

Mum said, "Tina, I said, get DOWN!" Tina dug her little doggie elbows deeper into the sofa.

Mum said, "DOWN!" The dog dug her nose into her paws trying to be further down into the cushions. Then Mum looked at me and said, "That dog of yours doesn't listen at all."

Me: "Tina." *ears perk* "Get off the sofa." The dog jumps to floor and immediately sits alertly awaiting her next instruction. It's a bit Nazi-like actually, when you see it. A bit frightening, the dog is black, after all. In fact, her down command was so fierce that she was in the down position before the word is pronounced. We could not do this on hard surface because I feared she'd crack her elbows, but she sure was fun to practice on grass or on carpet.
And — oh, how we love Chip here at Althouse! — he animates the photo I took with the phone:

"Obama is a despicable man. Dishonest and heartless to the core."

That's a typical comment at Firedoglake, a big left/liberal blog. Here's another (and it's not like I'm skipping over compliments):
It is said that many Americans think that Barack Obama is a nice guy.

Barack Obama is not a nice guy, and the American people may soon realize that he is not a nice guy.

“Underdog” Obama clearly does not want a second term as President.

Perhaps he deserves another “term”, possibly ten to twenty?

And then, a taxpayer-paid visit to the Hague?
Classless, cluless, cruel and corrupt.
"Classless" is a reference to the "Class Act," the voluntary long-term care insurance component of Obamacare, which the Obama administration has announced it will not — cannot — implement. (I'll write some more about that in the next post. This post is about the intensity of hatred aimed at Obama from the left.)

Another comment:
One more knife in the back for the working men and women of the country. This abomination of a president must be removed from office. He is ruining our country.
Obama’s crappy healthcare overhaul is coming apart like a car put together with superglue, as it was supposed to do, of course, after it transferred everything to the insurance corpse and Big PhRMA.

Pretty soon the only thing left will be the mandate to buy skyrocketing insurance.
A commenter named "demi" says: "he’s not looking as well as he once looked. Something is taking a toll on the man." And the immediate response, from DWBartoo is: "I think he resembles Joseph Goebbels more … every single day, demi … the eyes … the eyes are dead."

Another commenter says: "I don’t understand why the right hates Obama. he is the best Republican President they’ve had in decades."

I tried to read his autobiography. Found it chock full of trite, and gave up. I knew he was full of BS. I knew he was a front for the elites.

The night he got elected, I went to an election party, had to my partner is a big dem supporter. I kid you not people were crying and hugging one another. I was horrified. had a few people shout at me for not going along with the group hysteria.
Which draws the response: "Have to confess: I fell for it."

I wasn’t into the hysteria but I thought that for once I wasn’t voting for the lesser of two evils but somebody I really wanted in there. Now I don’t believe I voted for the lesser but rather the greater of the two evils. At least if McLame had come up with such an abominable plan, the Democrats would have blocked it if for no other reason than because McLame has an “R” after his name.
All right, I'm going to stop now. I've only combed through a third of the comments, but you can see what is happening: Obama has become the embodiment of their grief over the pending stillborn death of Obamacare.

I'm thinking Obama's best hope for reelection is for the Supreme Court to strike down Obamacare — find the individual mandate unconstitutional and the remainder of the law inseverable. Take the whole thing down.  Let Obama rhapsodize about the beautiful future that might have been — it's very pretty when it's not real — and blast away at that terrible Supreme Court that reaches beyond the realm of the law. Ironically, Obama would be publicly denouncing the Court for getting political and secretly grateful that the political benefit came to him.

Think about it. Obamacare is the nonviable fetus that we continue to carry to term, agonizing in anticipation of a stillborn. It's very sad. But there is the possibility of ending the existence of that misbegotten child. Do you like my metaphor? Within it, the Supreme Court is the abortionist. It can intervene right now and end the suffering.

October 14, 2011

Testing the new iPhone 4s.

Here's a photo I took today:

Can I get it to take me Siri-ously? Not yet. It doesn't seem to understand a thing I ask, other than what time is it. It can't understand the question "What's the temperature?" And when I asked about the Milwaukee-Muskegon ferry, it started opening a Face Time connection — i.e., a video phone call — with a person who happens to be in my contacts whom I only know slightly!

After a number of reasonable questions that were answered "No match found," I asked: Are the Brewers going to win tonight? The answer was: "Playing songs by Rufus Wainwright." The song "California" (from my iTunes) started playing.


ADDED: I said: "Play the new episode of Rush Limbaugh." (Note: I have downloaded the podcast of today's Rush Limbaugh show.) It answered: "Playing songs by the Lovin' Spoonful."

UPDATE: The phone seems to have figured out my apparently distinctive approach to mumbling and bumbling through the English language. Let's repeat the question: "Play the new episode of Rush Limbaugh." Ah! It understands the question now, but says it can't find Rush Limbaugh "in your music." Ha ha. Not everyone understands the "music" of Rush Limbaugh. You need a good ear for... fill in the blank. I rephrase the question: "Find the new podcast of Rush Limbaugh." It says "Here's your Rush Limbaugh" — which sounds like something someone might say while making an obscene gesture — and starts playing the new podcast!

"An artist arrested for applying body paint to a nude model in New York's Times Square will have charges against him dropped..."

"... if his models strip naked only after dark, according to a court agreement reached on Thursday."
Under the agreement, "he is permitted to paint bare breasts any time, anywhere, but the G-strings have to stay on until daylight goes out"....

State laws against public exposure exempt "any person entertaining or performing in a play, exhibition, show or entertainment"...

[Andy Golub] said he likes to paint nude models because their bodies have energy and dynamism that he finds lacking in canvas.
A proper resolution of the controversy?

"[A] muscular escalation of American military efforts to help fight the Lord’s Resistance Army..."

"... which originated as a Ugandan rebel force in the 1980s and morphed into a fearsome cult-like group of fighters. It is led by Joseph Kony, a self-proclaimed prophet known for ordering village massacres, recruiting prepubescent soldiers, keeping harems of child brides and mutilating opponents."
Mr. Obama wrote that he had decided to act because it was “in the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States.”. He also wrote that the deployment was justified by a law passed by Congress in May 2010, the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act, which favored “increased, comprehensive U.S. efforts to help mitigate and eliminate the threat posed by the LRA to civilians and regional stability.”
Do you object to this intervention?

By the way, what religion is involved here? You can't tell from the linked NYT article. It's not that easy to Google for an answer either. Here's an article from 5 years ago in Christianity Today:
Kony... uses passages from the Pentateuch to justify mutilation and murder. He promotes a demonic spirituality crafted from an eclectic mix of Christianity, Islam, and African witchcraft.

"The tools that Dennis built — and their direct descendants — run pretty much everything today."

RIP Dennis Ritchie.
Those tools were more than inventive bundles of computer code. The C language and Unix reflected a point of view, a different philosophy of computing than what had come before....

Minicomputers represented a step in the democratization of computing, and Unix and C were designed to open up computing to more people and collaborative working styles....

C was designed for systems programmers who wanted to get the fastest performance from operating systems, compilers and other programs. “C is not a big language — it’s clean, simple, elegant,” [said Brian Kernighan, a computer scientist at Princeton University who worked with Mr. Ritchie at Bell Labs.] “It lets you get close to the machine, without getting tied up in the machine.”
I must admit I'd never heard of the man, but... thanks.

At the Dahlia Café...

... burst forth...

... or buzz off.

Occupy Los Angeles experiences "a growing encroachment of anti-Semitic 'Jewish bankers' conspiracy theories."

"Obviously not everyone at the 'Occupy' protests is an anti-Semite, but the fact that these statements and views fit so neatly into the whole anti-banker milieu, and often go completely unchallenged by fellow protesters, should give everyone cause for concern about where this whole movement is heading."

Photos and video at the link.

PBS effort to expand arts coverage yields "the usual safety-first pledge-week fare."

Says Terry Teachout (in a very amusing WSJ column). Excerpt:
This week the network launches its new arts initiative with a "festival" of nine arts-related programs... 
Except for [one dance show], all nine programs are carefully designed to please those members of the gray-ponytail set who prefer politically correct popular culture to high art. Straight plays? Who needs 'em? Jazz? Bor-ing. As for the visual arts, they don't even exist in the unserious, unchallenging world of the PBS Arts Fall Festival. Instead we get recycled Puccini, goosed-up Gilbert and Sullivan and yesterday's grunge rock....

[I]n theory, PBS isn't commercial—except, of course, that it really is. It's an audience-driven business that dons the discreet fig leaf of public service in order to justify the government subsidies, corporate contributions, foundation grants and individual donations that keep it afloat. And what do we get for all that money? "Antiques Roadshow" and "Masterpiece Mystery!"
Ha. I'm on the same page as Teachout, including being kinda interested in "Give Me the Banjo."

It's so easy to play the game of disorder.

They were so hoping for disorder that when the authorities backed off out of fear of disorder, they managed to generate disorder anyway.
The cleanup of the Lower Manhattan park that has been occupied by protesters for nearly a month was postponed Friday shortly before it was supposed to begin, averting a feared showdown between the police and demonstrators who had vowed to resist any efforts to evict them from their encampment.

But sporadic clashes between protesters and the police erupted anyway when demonstrators started marching through the winding streets of the financial district after learning that the cleanup had been called off. At least 14 were arrested, the police say.
Isn't that sweet?

(And there's a video at the link that cracked us up. That people's microphone thing is hilarious.)

"Long before Cain was running for president and getting attention for his 999 plan..."

"... the residents of SimCity 4... were living under a system where the default tax rate was 9 percent for commercial taxes, 9 percent for industrial taxes and 9 percent for residential taxes."

"Steve Jobs would probably be alive today if he had not put off conventional medical treatment in favour of alternative remedies..."

According to Dr Ramzi Amri, of Harvard Medical School:
He added that as Mr Jobs had comparatively mild neuroendocrine tumors, compared to the far more aggressive pancreatic adenocarcinoma tumours that 95 per cent of pancreatic cancer sufferers have.

He wrote: 'In my series of patients, for many subtypes, the survival rate was as high as 100 per cent over a decade.'
Ah, yes, remember in Steve Jobs's Stanford graduation speech (from 2005), he talks about learning that he had a tumor on his pancreas?
The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months...

Later that evening I had a biopsy...  I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. 
We kept reading that he had a rare form of cancer. But rare was good. The doctor cried with joy when he suddenly saw that — against the odds — the cancer wasn't the kind that was almost certain to kill him. According to Amri, for that kind of cancer "the survival rate was as high as 100 per cent over a decade."

Here we are, mourning our loss of a genius, and the genius (apparently) fell for the monumental stupidity of "alternative" medicine.

Take a lesson, people.

NY Daily News sportwriter John Harper disrespects Prince Fielder.

He's worried the Yankees will try to sign him when he becomes a free agent this winter.
The Yankees need an aging, slow-footed, full-time DH like they need higher ticket prices. But it was pretty funny to hear David Ortiz wax poetic about the team he killed for so many years because, well, honestly - did you ever think you'd hear a player talk about the Bronx as a place to get away from all the drama?
Whatever. Hey, this is cool: Watch Jerry Hairston make a great slide into home plate. (That happened in the 4th inning of last night's Brewers/Cardinals game.)

And here's what Ortiz said: "There's too much drama [on the Boston Red Sox]...  I don't know if I want to be part of this drama for next year.... [The Yankees] lost just like we did; they just went to the first round of the playoffs... I ain't heard nobody coming out killing everybody just because they lost."

The NYT frontpages a student's attack on a college teacher, without the teacher's side of the story.

The student — Philip Garber Jr. — is a stutterer, and he claims the teacher silenced him. (And he found a big, big voice in the New York Times.) And, now, 3 days later, we get to hear from the teacher (who, unsurprisingly, has "gotten the most hateful, vile, vicious e-mails").
Philip said that one day, he kept his hand raised for most of a class, but she did not call on him.
Whoa! A student who keeps his hand up for the entire class when he isn't getting called on.
In a statement she composed before the interview, [Elizabeth] Snyder wrote, “I did not call on Philip in this class nor did I call on anyone else, simply because I had a detailed presentation planned for the class and I wanted to be finished in the prescribed time.

“He misinterpreted this and assumed it had something to do with his stuttering; I interpreted his hand up for 75 minutes as someone unfamiliar with a college lecture format and frankly a little rude,” she said. “In hindsight, I should have stopped my lecture and called on Philip because he had become so fixated on making a statement that it didn’t seem to matter to him that he was interrupting my presentation.”
Philip, you should know, is a 10th grader and he is taking a history course in a college. I don't think the teacher should have stopped the lecture. What I'd do in this situation — and I've taught for 26 years — is glance at the student and say like "I need you to hold your question." Because that raised hand is distracting for everyone.

The student — even if he worries that he's being treated unfairly — has an obligation to learn classroom etiquette. And how was he able to inspire the NYT to write about him, making him the face of stutterers' rights? Does he know someone at the NYT or was it because he's made himself a presence on YouTube, and the Times is keen on stories with a new media angle?

Now, the NYT did try to get a comment from the teacher before it ran the initial article, but how can a teacher discuss an individual student with the press? She was put in an impossible situation.
Ms. Snyder has taught history for 37 years, first in middle school and for the last decade at the county college, and students give her generally positive marks. In May, the college’s Educational Opportunity Fund named her educator of the year, for her work with financially and academically challenged students.

“I’ve been an advocate for kids my entire life,” she said. “But people’s rush to judgment on this, it feels like it’s pretty much destroyed my life.”
Oh, but stutterers' rights... it's a cool new issue that we can all talk about now. Who cares if a fusty old school teacher is sacrificed?

"Wearing makeup... increases people’s perceptions of a woman’s likability, her competence and... her trustworthiness..."

According to a new study.
The study’s 25 female subjects, aged 20 to 50 and white, African-American and Hispanic, were photographed barefaced and in three looks that researchers called natural, professional and glamorous. They were not allowed to look in a mirror, lest their feelings about the way they looked affect observers’ impressions....

“I’m a little surprised that the relationship held for even the glamour look,” said Richard Russell, an assistant professor of psychology at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pa....

“There are times when you want to give a powerful ‘I’m in charge here’ kind of impression, and women shouldn’t be afraid to do that,” by, say, using a deeper lip color that could look shiny, increasing luminosity, said Sarah Vickery, another author of the study and a Procter & Gamble scientist. “Other times you want to give off a more balanced, more collaborative appeal.”
So the old colloquialism "I'm putting on my warpaint" — when applying lipstick — is quite apt.

They (the NYT) got a female lawprof to opine:
“I don’t wear makeup, nor do I wish to spend 20 minutes applying it,” said Deborah Rhode, a law professor at Stanford University who wrote “The Beauty Bias” (Oxford University Press, 2010), which details how appearance unjustly affects some workers. “The quality of my teaching shouldn’t depend on the color of my lipstick or whether I’ve got mascara on.”
Don't men have more cause to complain? They don't have recourse to this simple on-off power switch.
She is no “beauty basher,” she said. “I’m against our preoccupation, and how judgments about attractiveness spill over into judgments about competence and job performance. We like individuals in the job market to be judged on the basis of competence, not cosmetics.”
Can you be against the structure of human psychology? The participants in the study weren't "preoccupied" by anything. They were simply revealing something about how the mind instinctively works.

Presumably, Rhode would say that if there's a natural and subconscious response, it's our responsibility to understand it, drag it into our consciousness — consciousness raising — and fight it off. That's what we'd say if a study, for example, proved that the darkness or lightness of skin color influenced our judgment of a person's likability, competence, and trustworthiness.

But race is an immutable characteristic, and makeup (like clothing or hairstyles) can be varied at will. It's empowering that a woman can make decisions about the level of makeup, and it allows women with different degrees of natural beauty to use their minds — through judgment — and skills — with a steady hand — to compete in the social and the commercial sphere. It's similar to the way a person with less inborn intelligence can read a lot and study hard and thereby get ahead.

What's bad about that?

October 13, 2011

At the Closeup Café...

... move right in...

... or get some perspective.

Anti-Semitism at the Occupy Wall Street protests?

Power Line, with a video clip, says:
Given the extraordinary media attention that was paid to fictitious claims of racism at Tea Party rallies, it is amusing to see the press avert its eyes from repeated incidents of anti-Semitism at Occupy Wall Street protests, even as Democratic politicians endorse the “movement” almost unanimously and without qualification.
Instapundit says:
In a movement attacking “greedy bankers” and “the 1%”? Inconceivable!
This makes me want to bring up something I wrote after I saw Michael Moore's movie "Capitalism" back in 2009:
I think Moore is seriously motivated by Christianity. He says he is (and has been since he was a boy). And he presented various priests, Biblical quotations, and movie footage from "Jesus of Nazareth" to make the argument that Christianity requires socialism. With this theme, I found it unsettling that in attacking the banking system, Moore presented quite a parade of Jewish names and faces. He never says the word "Jewish," but I think the anti-Semitic theme is there. We receive long lectures about how capitalism is inconsistent with Christianity, followed a heavy-handed array of — it's up to you to see that they are — Jewish villains.

Am I wrong to see Moore as an anti-Semite? I don't know, but the movie worked as anti-Semitic propaganda. I had to struggle to fight off the idea the movie seemed to want to plant in my head.
And, unsurprisingly, "Michael Moore is giddy over Occupy Wall Street."

ADDED: I see that the blog I don't link to has linked to this post and caused a commenter to say:
I don’t, can’t, won’t, and woulnd’t, read Althouse – even on pain of death.

But I’d bet that as much as she screams about anti-Semitism here, and in Michael Moore’s films, she was lustilly cheering the anti-Semitic parts of Mel Gibsons snuff film about Jesus.
Beautiful. Smear me. Don't even check to see what I wrote about "The Passion of the Christ." I'll Google it for you (though apparently you'll never read this). There's this, from January 11, 2005:
Michael Moore and Mel Gibson have more mutual admiration than you might think:
Asked if he had seen Mr. Gibson's film, Mr. Moore lighted up.

"I saw it twice," Mr. Moore said. "It's a very powerful film. I'm a practicing Catholic. My film might have been called 'The Compassion of the Christ,' though. The great thing about this country is the diversity of voices. When we limit the voices, we cease being a free society."

When Mr. Gibson walked to the press room lectern, he and Mr. Moore seemed delighted to meet each other.

"I feel a strange kinship with Michael," Mr. Gibson said. "They're trying to pit us against each other in the press, but it's a hologram. They really have got nothing to do with one another. It's just some kind of device, some left-right. He makes some salient points. There was some very expert, elliptical editing going on. However, what the hell are we doing in Iraq? No one can explain to me in a reasonable manner that I can accept why we're there, why we went there, and why we're still there."
Oh! It's Michael Moore again. Isn't that funny?!

But I'm looking for stuff about "The Passion." There's this on March 15, 2004 (a couple months after I started blogging:
Read "Hollywood Rethinking Faith Films After 'Passion'" in today's NYT...
The movie's box-office success has been chewed over in studio staff meetings and at pricey watering holes all over Hollywood, echoed in interviews with numerous executives in the last week. In marketing departments the film is regarded as pure genius; its director, Mel Gibson, is credited with stoking a controversy that yanked the film from the margins of the culture to center stage, presenting it as a must-see.
If only someone had filmed that. I would pay to see the edited footage of those meetings! "Chewing over" the popularity of the crucifixion! "Pure genius" to "stoke a controversy" about anti-semitism as a publicity stunt! What else could we do that would be like that??
And on July 31, 2006:
Mel Gibson, you are discredited forever.

... A lot of [my commenters] are defending Gibson and complaining that people are criticizing him because he's considered right wing. I note that doesn't explain my position, which has nothing to do with his politics, whatever they're supposed to be....  Gibson...  has revealed something loathsome about his mind that affects our interpretation of the works of art that sprang from that mind. In particular, it changes "The Passion of the Christ," which had to be defended at the time of its release from charges that it is anti-Semitic.
And December 5, 2006:
If "Apocalypto" is a great work of art, I want Mel Gibson to get full credit for it. Am I taking back what I said last summer, in a post titled "Mel Gibson, you are discredited forever"? Not really. The point there was that what we know about the artist's mind belongs in our interpretation of his work. For that reason, what we learned about him had a very damaging effect on the meaning "The Passion of the Christ," which had already aroused suspicions of anti-Semitism. 
And, for the record, I've never seen the movie "The Passion of the Christ," which came out before this blog started.

Bucky in an ESPN commercial.

"What is the biggest secret you were told and asked not to repeat?"/"That it’s not a surreal practical joke..."

"... Those Republican presidential candidates you see lined up for their debates are actually the best minds the G.O.P. has to offer."

"Survivor’s Meat-Hoarding Mouth Challenge Is Disgusting."

Oh, yes! The teams bite off chunks of pig carcass, run with it — don't eat it, even though you're hungry — and spit it in a bowl. Team with the most meat and fat deposited in the bowl — 22+ pounds — didn't just win immunity. They won the bowl o' meat to take back to camp and eat. I mean, they washed it and cooked it some more. And they talked about oral herpes and how they broke teeth, dislocated jaws, and got all kinds of scratches and cuts on their lips and gums.

Ron Paul's spokesman says it's "stupid" and "insulting" to say that Ron Paul wears fake eyebrows...

... and one was falling off at the debate the other night. But then how do you explain that double eyebrow/partly detaching phenomenon in the photograph? "Dr. Paul's allergies acted up a touch." What the hell kind of allergy is that?!

"Chomsky has achieved so much in linguistics and political commentary that it's easy to forget he also fathered Marty McFly....."

The top-rated comment on a video from 1969 titled "william buckley threatens to punch chomsky in the face."

Oh! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

"Obama is searching for a narrative. He had an election narrative but hasn’t found the vocabulary for governing."

Henry Louis Gates Jr. analyzing — in scholarly lingo — why Obama's politics don't seem to work as well as they did back in '08.
Gates wonders how more combative politicians, like Lyndon Johnson, would have responded to the slights Obama has received from Congress. (“He would have grabbed these people by the balls and said, ‘I am the president of the goddamned United States!’ ”)
I remember when Richard Nixon had a thing of saying "I am the President." It didn't work too well.
But that isn’t Obama’s, or Gates’s own, style, he says: “What people forget is that the most radical thing about Obama is that he was the first black man in history to imagine that he could become president, who was able to make other Americans believe it as well. Other than that, he is a centrist, just like I try to be. He’s been bridging divisions his whole life.”
I hear Al Sharpton screaming. And Jesse Jackson. I think they imagined that they could become President.

Political button

That's my photo, by the way, of my button, acquired, with serious intentions, in 1988. But Gates didn't mean "Obama is... the first black man in history to imagine that he could become president." It was a qualified statement. The next clause is inextricably linked: "who was able to make other Americans believe it as well." I think Jesse Jackson would still be steamed. And you know what Jackson says when he's steamed. Speaking of balls.

Looking for that old photograph got me to a post from January 2007, which linked to this old conversation in which I talk about the button and talk about how various black leaders reacted to Obama's initial announcement that he was running for President. And here's the January 14, 2007 post that the conversation is based on. It's got an Al Sharpton quote about Obama:
 "Right now we’re hearing a lot of media razzle-dazzle. I’m not hearing a lot of meat, or a lot of content. I think when the meat hits the fire, we’ll find out if it’s just fat, or if there’s some real meat there."
And I said:
In a political culture in which the media have long consulted [Sharpton and other black leaders] and preserved a place for them in the debate, now it seems that Obama will be given that place, and Obama is likely to say things that are far more mellow and conciliatory to the majority of Americans. They have to be asking -- and we should ask too -- whether that is why Americans like Obama so much. Looking at the problem from this angle, we should see that it's not simply a matter of personal jealousy, it is a real fear that their message is being effectively excised from the national debate.
And it was excised, wasn't it? As I said in the conversation linked above, Obama was bland. That's what people liked at the time.

I say "Obama is bland," and Bob Wright blurts it out: "That's the reason you can imagine him becoming President."

If the Occupy Wall Street movement became for the Democratic Party what the Tea Party is to the Republican Party...

... what would that be like?

I can't imagine that it would help the Democratic Party to become infused with Occupy Wall Street spirit to the degree that the Tea Party has taken over the Republican Party. I mean, think of Christine O'Donnell and Sharron Angle, who were Republican Party candidates in Senate elections. Now, try to picture their counterparts: Democratic Party candidates who are as Occupy Wall Street as O'Donnell and Angle were Tea Party.

If that scenario came to pass, I think the Tea Party side would win overwhelmingly... which is another way of saying that the Democratic Party should not wish for too much OWS momentum. But the energy is so exciting, isn't it? And they always wanted their very own Tea Party.

Sidewalk benches removed, then reinstalled, in Madison's neverending struggle to balance good and evil.

So it seemed like a good idea to remove those benches in front of Jimmy John's and Taco Bell because supposedly that's where drug dealers were sitting. But then various nice people emailed the mayor, Paul Soglin, to complain that now there were fewer places for regular people to sit, plus it seemed like an attack on the homeless. So Soglin had the benches reinstalled.

My first thought, as a taxpayer, is: You people wasted our money. My second thought is: If you know where the drug dealers habitually sit, arrest them.

Yeah, I have always wondered what "mummers" were..."

"Eleven were charged with prostitution last night in connection with a Mummers orgy."

The Occupy Wall Street protester's inarticulate angst: "I can put it out there. I can say what I want."

A young man, asked to explain why he should get what he wants — to have college tuition paid for — says it's because that's what he wants:

As he takes a slug and then another slug from his bottle of pink drink, you get the feeling he's not picturing this video going viral. He probably feels like he's a nice, amiable person who doesn't gear up into fighting mode every time he's asked a question.

I got to this video via Rush Limbaugh, who played the audio on his show yesterday and said — describing the Occupy Wall Street folks generally:
These people, as ignorant as they are and as few in number as they are, by the way -- it really is a small bunch of people; and the media is doing everything it can to build 'em up and make 'em look huge. They're so jealous of the Tea Party, they want this thing to be bigger than the Tea Party, and it isn't, and it can't be. It is dire for the left right now...

The left is really flailing away. They've got nothing. Obama can't even pack a 200-person hall in Pittsburgh.
Rush's website includes the requisite Drudgetaposition:

Speaking of "the media is doing everything it can to build" up the Occupy Wall Street movement, here's a NYT article about how according to Pew’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, the protests account for 7 percent of media news right now.
The data confirms an anecdotal sense that the movement, which slowly gained speed last month, entered the nation’s collective consciousness for the first time last week, when President Obama was asked about it at a news conference and when national television news programs were first anchored from the Wall Street protest site....

Some protesters have assailed news media outlets for scoffing at their leaderless nature and lack of agreed-upon goals, but some have also carefully courted attention from those outlets.

“They insist on their story being told, even as they’re arguing about just what the story should be,” the media critic James Rainey wrote in Wednesday’s Los Angeles Times. Mr. Rainey suggested that reporters resist the urge to make instant judgments about what the protests represent: “Sometimes the most courageous story is the one that says: I haven’t seen this before. I’m not sure what it means. I don’t have a clue where it is going.”
I like Rainey's statement. It's close to the way I approach blogging about the protests around here in Madison. I just walk into the crowd with a camera and look for what's interesting, trying to get a picture of what people are doing and what they think they are doing.

October 12, 2011

"I'm guilty under U.S. law, but not under the Quran."

Underwear bomber pleads guilty.

"Frank Kameny was our Rosa Parks, and more."

Franklin E. Kameny, who transformed his 1957 arrest as a “sex pervert” and his subsequent firing from the Army Map Service into a powerful animating spark of the gay rights movement, died on Tuesday at his home in Washington. He was 86....

Rather than accept his firing quietly, Mr. Kameny sued the government in federal court. That he lost was almost beside the point. The battle against discrimination now had a face, a name and a Ph.D. from Harvard.

"Last month, Mrs. Obama shopped at a suburban Virginia Target store, her face masked by a baseball cap and sunglasses."

"The first lady says it's easy to go unnoticed when she shows up at places where no one expects her, like Starbucks or Chipotle."

She says she sneaks out of the White House "as much as possible."

I think it's funny to take that literally.

"Instead of protecting people’s lungs as the law requires, this administration based its decision on politics, leaving tens of thousands of Americans at risk of sickness and suffering."

5 environmental groups have sued the Obama administration for rejecting stricter standards on ozone pollution.
The same groups had sued the Bush administration over its ozone policy, but agreed to suspend the suit when the Obama administration came to office and promised to reconsider the Bush standard. That reconsideration was delayed several times before finally being killed by the president last month.
And so it goes. Obama is like Bush.

A new app — WeBIRD — identifies birds when it hears their songs.

“In fact, not only can WeBIRD tell you which species you’re hearing, it’s good enough to identify individual birds from their song.”

Designed by Mark Berres, a University of Wisconsin–Madison ornithologist.

Michele Bachmann: "When you take the 999 plan and you turn it upside down, I think the devil is in the details."

A well-crafted version of an observation many of us have been making.

Here's what I said in my live-blog of the September 22 debate:
8:15 — Herman Cain, is it just a coincidence that all those 9s just matched up in your 999 plan? Also, if we turn that upside down...
Note that my main point there was not 666 (the "Number of the Beast"). It was that lining up the digits is too cute. How can it be good policy when there's so much evidence that it was concocted to look snazzy? We're expected to respond to the lure of numerology. Good lord!  I don't believe in the devil or have any superstitions about numbers, but I am afraid — legitimately afraid — of people who use or respond to the mysticism of numbers.

This makes me want to check out numerology to see what 9 is supposed to mean. When would a person who believed in numerology choose 9? What about someone who wanted to influence other people who believe in numerology? When would he choose 9? I loathe this sort of superstitious belief system, so I haven't gotten any further than the Wikipedia article on numerology. It says: "There are no set definitions for the meaning of specific digits," but cites an example of the meaning of 9 as "Highest level of change."

Well, Cain certainly is proposing the highest level of change for the structure of federal revenue collection. He seems quite proud of that. Unlike everybody else's proposals his "starts with... throwing out the current tax code." This is not a conservative instinct. It's radical and daring. It seeks to excite us about change. There's some crazy emotionalism in it. Who would buy that? Who would be impressed that the 9s line up so perfectly?

The point in the debate when my doubts about Herman Cain suddenly spiked.

Julianna Goldman, the Bloomberg TV White House Correspondent, noting Cain's disapproval of Ben Bernanke, asked him "which Federal Reserve chairman over the last 40 years do you think has been most successful and might serve as a model for that appointment?"

Cain said Alan Greenspan. Goldman asked why, and Cain said:
Because that's when I served on the board of the Federal Reserve in the early 1990s. 
Huh? He's a model because he's the one you served with?
And the way Alan Greenspan oversaw the Fed and the way he coordinated with all of the Federal Reserve banks, I think that it worked fine back in the early 1990s.
So... Alan Greenspan, because you served with him and the way he did everything worked fine? Instead of backing that up with substance, he told us he has 2 candidates for Fed Chairman in mind, but he can't tell us who they are. Useless non-information.

Ron Paul got to speak next:
Spoken like a true insider... Alan Greenspan was a disaster....

Everybody in Washington -- liberals and conservatives -- said he kept interest rates too low, too long. Of course, the solution was, lower them even more, and they think that's going to solve our problem.
But if I had to name one person that did a little bit of good, that was Paul Volcker. He at least knew how to end -- or help, you know, end the inflation....
Paul goes on with details. I'm not saying I agree with Ron Paul, but the contrast between the 2 men was amazing at that point. Cain just did not seem forthcoming. I know he might seem straightforward when he keeps saying 9-9-9 is the answer. But it's also simplistic. And when called on for details, he won't tell you any.

Now, I thought it was a low blow when Huntsman, asked about 9-9-9, said "it's a catchy phrase.... I thought it was the price of a pizza when I first heard about it." My kneejerk reaction was: Huntsman is an elitist, sneering at a man who built a successful business. But look at the emptiness of Cain's defense of his 9-9-9:
... it is not the price of a pizza, because it has been well-studied and well-developed. 
It has? What's the proof of that? This is like approving of Alan Greenspan the way he did things worked well.
It starts with, unlike your proposals, throwing out the current tax code. Continuing to pivot off the current tax code is not going to boost this economy. This is why we developed 9-9-9, 9 percent corporate business flat tax, 9 percent personal income flat tax, and a 9 percent national sales tax. And it will pass, Senator, because the American people want it to pass.
What is why you developed it? There's no there there! And it will pass... why? Because people want it to pass?! The why I would like answered is: Why are people so impressed with Herman Cain?

At this point, Karen Tumulty — the WaPo correspondent — follows up. She wants to know what experts he's relying on. That was my question too when he said "we developed 9-9-9." He wants us to accept on faith that he's got this team that's worked it all out, so that now all he needs to do is say 9-9-9. Cain gives a vague answer:
My advisers come from the American people. Now, I will have some experts. 
What?! You will have some experts? But where did 9-9-9 come from? And what's with the strange expression "My advisers come from the American people." That sounds like he's saying the advisers are not experts. They're some of the people folk. Who knows who? But he will — future tense — have some experts. Is he admitting he doesn't have experts yet? If so, he immediately backtracks:
One of my experts that helped me to develop this is a gentleman by the name of Rich Lowery (ph) out of Cleveland, Ohio. He is an economist, and he has worked in the business of wealth creation most of his career.
So, there's this guy in Cleveland... Who is he? He's "worked in the business of wealth creation most of his career." That's a fancy-schmancy way to say he's a businessman and, it seems, to avoid admitting that this man has no impressive credentials as an economist. I think Cain is conceding that, because the next thing he feels compelled to say is:
I also have a number of other well-recognized economists that helped me to develop this 9-9-9 plan. It didn't come off a pizza box, no. It was well-studied and well-developed, because it will replace the corporate income tax, the personal income tax, the capital gains tax, the death tax, and most importantly, the payroll tax.
See the empty assurance? It was well-studied and well-developed. Was it? Why should we believe that? The sentence continues with the word "because," which ought to lead to a reason why we should believe that 9-9-9 was well-constructed. But it doesn't! "Because" introduces another repetition of what 9-9-9 is. He keeps saying, essentially: We should destroy the existing system because we should destroy the existing system. Put on that abstract level, it's the same approach to future-planning we're hearing from the Occupy Wall Street crowd.

Tumulty pursues him: "So -- so who are some of these economists?" And Cain's truly scary response is: "Rich Lowery (ph) out of Cleveland, Texas, is one of the economists that I have used. He's been my lead economist on helping to develop this."

Obviously, Tumulty meant: who other than the one economist he already named, which was "Rich Lowery (ph) out of Cleveland, Ohio." I mean, maybe there's another Rich Lowery — the one "out of Cleveland, Texas." Cleveland, Texas!

According to Politico, this "Rich Lowery" is Rich Lowrie, and he is "not a trained economist."
Instead, Lowrie — who’s the only economic adviser Cain has been willing to mention by name — is a wealth manager for a division of Wells Fargo and according to his LinkedIn page holds an accountancy degree from Case Western Reserve University. Lowrie also spent three years on the advisory board of the conservative third-party group Americans For Prosperity.
Come on, people. This infatuation with Herman Cain is embarrassing. Wake up!

"The White House knows that if Republican voter enthusiasm is suppressed, then The One has a chance."

Rush Limbaugh, working a theory yesterday:
And they rightly conclude that Romney might depress or suppress Republican enthusiasm. Now, the GOP establishment, their thinking is that Romney is electable in a general...
I'm skeptical! This premise has Obama's people and establishment Republicans on the same page!
... but the base, the Republican base is not jazzed. Turnout is obviously gonna be crucial....
His point — which he's been making elsewhere on the program — is that Romney isn't a good conservative, and the GOP establishment, which lacks confidence in real conservatism, is pushing Romney. The establishment thinks that's the way to win, but in fact, according to Limbaugh, it's staunch Reaganesque conservatism that wins for Republicans. You need to jazz up the base and pump up turnout. Oddly, in this monologue, the Obama White House understands what the GOP establishment doesn't — that Romney won't inspire enthusiasm.

Earlier in the show, Rush noted that the White House chose the day of the debate to dump records showing — I'm quoting trom the Michael Isikoff's story — that "senior Obama administration officials used Mitt Romney’s landmark health-care law in Massachusetts as a model for the new federal law, including recruiting some of Romney’s own health care advisers and experts to help craft the act now derided by Republicans as 'Obamacare.'" Rush saw that move — correctly, I'd say — as evidence that the White House wants to stop Romney.

So is Romney the strongest candidate for the Republicans or not? If the GOP establishment wants him and the White House doesn't, that is overwhelming evidence that Romney is the strongest. But that conclusion conflicts with Rush's dearest belief: that we need a strong conservative. So Rush was desperate yesterday.

And he was just getting the information that Chris Christie was going to endorse Romney. He shifted to that topic (right after the material quoted above):
Now, just as an aside, why would Governor Christie spend a year going back and forth publicly, privately, on and on about whether he would run for president or not; only a week after saying no, run up to Romney's side? What's changed? I mean if in the past year you're thinking you might run, part of that is that whoever else is running isn't the answer. If Romney is the obvious superior candidate, why go through the rigmarole of considering whether to run yourself for a whole year? But you know the story's gonna -- it's already the headline on Drudge, "Christie to Endorse Romney" -- that's gonna be a bigger story than what comes out of the debate tonight. Christie's endorsement is already the story. No matter what happens in the debate tonight, when it's all over, no matter who does what, the story, "Christie Endorses Romney." 
We heard the desperation yesterday, as Rush Limbaugh struggled to fit his template onto the news that poured out over him. Occam's Razor says Mitt Romney is the strongest candidate for the Republicans, but Rush says nooooooo!

ADDED: Later in the show, Rush assures us that if Romney is the candidate, he "is gonna have my full support because of what we're up against." He's simply trying to take advantage of the opportunity to get a more conservative candidate. And — let's face it — he's got a radio show to do. If Romney has it locked up now, there's a lot less for Rush to rant about 3 hours a day, 5 days a week, for the next 6 months.

October 11, 2011

At the Cleome Café...

... you can talk all night.

"I fought against UW-Madison's touchy-feely admissions process when first enacted and still oppose the discriminatory selection process."

"I support admitting students based on academic performance, the only factor that an individual has personal control to achieve."

That's the opinion of Steve Nass, R-La Grange, chair of the Wisconsin State Assembly's Committee on Colleges and Universities, which will hold a hearing next Monday to address UW-Madison's undergraduate and law school admission policies.


Worse than Solyndra?

Tonight's Republican debate.

Is it only on line? I see it here, but I can't find it on TV. Feel free to discuss it in the comments. I'm not really live-blogging — because it's not on TV! — but I'll talk about it if the spirit moves me.

ADDED: If it's not on TV, I don't want to watch. The streaming on-line is too tedious. I'll wait for the transcript. And read what Jaltcoh has to say.

AND: Thanks to Rob in the comments for giving me the channel number. That was really hard to find! Okay, I'm watching now.

ALSO: I realize I've just written the most boring debate live-blog of all time.

PLUS: The Wall Street Journal's conclusion:
Herman Cain and his 9-9-9 plan were front-and-center all night, while Rick Perry, who many considered the frontrunner just a few weeks ago, was something of an after-thought in the debate. He hit a few bloop singles when a lot of people thought he needed clear home runs. Mitt Romney showed a little more verve than he has in previous debates and seemed perfectly comfortable defending his record and showed a knack for the counterpunch (particularly with regard to Cain's 9-9-9 plan). If he and Cain are one and two, voters will have a VERY clear choice between the maverick and the manager.
MORE: Power Line says:
Mitt Romney did very well again. He comes across as strong, reassuring, articulate, experienced, knowledgeable. At one point, other candidates peppered him with questions. That helped Romney, I think–he came across as the candidate who matters. He also defended Romneycare more passionately than I have seen before. His pitch in his closing statement for a strong America was powerful, given the breaking news on Iran’s apparent terrorist plot inside the U.S.

"I’d like to remind you that the 2 people whose images were put together using parts of my face have since been assassinated."

"I’m going to sue the FBI because they have not made things right apart from offering a weak apology through clenched teeth."

Why did Richmond Law School put a sexual double entendre in its motto?

"Who says size matters?"

Why did they do that?
It was an accident.
They want to convey a relaxed and fun attitude.
They made you look. They made the bloggers blog.
Let's be frank: Law Is Phallocracy.

pollcode.com free polls 

"New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will endorse Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney at an event today in New Hampshire..."

An emailed news alert from CNN, citing "multiple sources."

When a book falls into my hands, I open it up and read a sentence — and maybe that ends up being the only sentence I read.

Today's book just came in the mail. It's "The End of Straight Supremacy: Realizing Gay Liberation," by Shannon Gilreath. The sentence happened to be:
Feminists have persuasively shown the connection between sexualized violence, which, if we are being generous, might be the kind of "idea" First Amendment mucks are apparently concerned about (violence in the head), and real violence, inflicted through sex in the home or in the street, against women.
Mucks? I guess that's short for "high-muck-a-muck." Which means: poohbah.

And my response is: Pooh. Bah.

What's going to happen in tonight's GOP debates?

Michael Shear lists 5 things to watch for:
1. The Mormon question....

2. Romney, the piñata....

3. Battle of the executives. [Romney and Cain.]...

4. Perry, race and expectations....

5. Jobs and Mr. Obama.
If the candidates are smart, they'll make it be 5, 5, 5, 5, and more 5.

Remember the Orange Revolution in Ukraine and the rise of Yulia V. Tymoshenko?

"Yulia V. Tymoshenko, once one of Ukraine’s most powerful and popular politicians, was sentenced on Tuesday to seven years in prison, the culmination of a politically charged trial that could presage the end of the country’s short and often raucous experiment with democracy."

The NYT reports.

"I was thinking about Baader-Meinhof. Patty Hearst. Tompkins Square. This a song about living in Alphabet City."

So said David Byrne, explaining his song "Life During Wartime." I'm thinking about that song today because I'm reading Greg Mitchell's blog — OccupyUSA — in The Nation:
Today’s song pick for Occupyers everywhere: Talking Heads’ classic “Life During Wartime.”
Here are some of the lyrics to the song:
Heard of a van that is loaded with weapons,
packed up and ready to go
Heard of some gravesites, out by the highway,
a place where nobody knows
The sound of gunfire, off in the distance,
I'm getting used to it now...
Heard about Houston? Heard about Detroit?
Heard about Pittsburgh, P. A.?
You oughta know not to stand by the window
somebody might see you up there
So... what kind of mood are you going for there, Greg? Creepy? Paranoid? Genuinely threatening violence? Or just stupid?

Now, "Life During Wartime" is a great song. I played it all the time back in the 1970s when it first came out. Like Greg Mitchell, I'm old. (I was born in 1951, and he was born in 1947.) Unlike Greg Mitchell, I can't imagine telling young people today to adopt one of the great old songs of my youth as their present-day music to protest by.

I like to think that young people today have built up plenty of resistance to the nostalgia of Baby Boomers. The Revolution Chic of my generation-mates is not cute and not cool. It's embarrassing and dumb.

Think for yourselves, people.

Jeff Fitzgerald — the speaker of the Wisconsin Assembly — will run for the U.S. Senate seat that Herb Kohl will vacate.

AP reports:
[Fitzgerald,] one of the key backers of Gov. Scott Walker's proposal curbing bargaining rights for public unions... said... he believes his role in passing that law is his largest asset heading into the race. The proposal drew protests as large as 100,000 people and made Wisconsin the center of a national fight on union rights,
"It's the No. 1 thing I've got going for me. It's fresh in people's minds," Fitzgerald said. "We did it right in Wisconsin. ... There are conservatives who think Wisconsin is ground zero for the movement."
There is one Democrat in the race so far. It's Tammy Baldwin, who walked arm-in-arm with Jesse Jackson, demonstrating strong support for the protesters.

On the Republican side, Tommy Thompson has declared his candidacy. One difference between Thompson and Fitzgerald is age. Thompson is 69. Fitzgerald turns 45 tomorrow. Thompson is taking the opportunity to run for a seat with no incumbent after he declined to challenge Russ Feingold in the 2010 elections. Back then, when the hard work of unseating Feingold lay ahead, Thompson asserted that it was time for a new generation. That bothers me.

"There is not a single, public Christian church left in Afghanistan..."

"... according to the U.S. State Department."
“Negative societal opinions and suspicion of Christian activities led to targeting of Christian groups and individuals, including Muslim converts to Christianity," said the report. "The lack of government responsiveness and protection for these groups and individuals contributed to the deterioration of religious freedom.”

Most Christians in the country refuse to “state their beliefs or gather openly to worship,” said the State Department.

"There are no stable jobs anymore."

"Entrepreneurship is like creating a safety net."

Don't take vitamins.

"Multivitamins, folic acid, vitamin B6, magnesium, zinc, copper and iron in particular appeared to increase mortality risk."

Eat food, people.

"He would have stood up in front of a jury and said, 'I wanted to murder my fellow passengers and here's why.'"

The underwear bomber, whose trial begins today, is not going to give his own opening statement, which — in the opinion of one former U.S. terrorism prosecutor — would have been disastrous.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 24, ... is officially representing himself, after firing a team of four lawyers appointed by the Detroit Federal Defender office last year.

[Anthony] Chambers is the "standby counsel" appointed by a federal judge....

Last week, he shouted "Anwar is alive" during jury selection, an apparent reference to Anwar al-Awlaki, a US-born al-Qaeda recruiter killed in a drone strike in September.

During a pre-trial hearing, Mr Abdulmutallab made similar statements about Osama Bin Laden after his publicised death.

October 10, 2011

At the Floating Althouse Café...

... you can talk all night.

(And thanks to Chip Ahoy for animating that picture Meade took today. And thanks to Meade for taking that picture... and for making the lawn so lush and green.)

The optimist's brain.

"When the news was positive, all people had more activity in the brain's frontal lobes, which are associated with processing errors. With negative information, the most optimistic people had the least activity in the frontal lobes, while the least optimistic had the most."

Obama's plan to bypass "Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin, where disgruntled white men are ominously thick on the ground..."

... and go after "traditionally Republican states like Colorado, Virginia, and Nevada, where an influx of urban professionals and Hispanics is helping the Democrats."

Is that crazy? John Cassidy says:
The point isn’t that Obama won’t win but that in order to do so he will have to follow the time-honored Democratic route of rampaging around the Great Lakes and squeezing home in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. It’s also not as if he doesn’t have anything to say to voters in these areas....

"The sausages don’t talk."

"It’s one of the basic rules of racing meat.”

The break's over.

... time to get to work.

At the Green Grass Café...

... I need a break!

Is the Recall Scott Walker movement just a big waste of money and effort or an unwitting boost for Governor Scott Walker?

The Cap Times reports that there's a good chance a group called United Wisconsin will begin collecting signatures beginning November 4th, which is the earliest date permitted under state law. They'd then have 60 days to collect enough signatures to yield the 540,000 verified signatures needed to trigger a recall election. Verification is a resource-consuming process, and so is the election that follows (assuming there are enough signature). As a taxpayer, I loathe this expenditure of money and effort by government officials.

An election would follow 6 Tuesdays after verification. As a blogger, I'll be only too happy to follow the campaigns that ensue, but generally, I would think most citizens don't appreciate having to pay attention to the campaigns and drag ourselves to the polls when we already voted Walker to a 4-year term. The normal thing to do is to stick to the choice already made and to judge the success of the governor's policies at the end of his term.

But maybe Walker will have to step up and argue as early as next winter that his policies are doing well, producing good results, and that the alternatives are dismal. If there were no recall and he just wanted to give a bunch of speeches about things like that, most people would pay little attention. But if there is a recall election, these speeches will matter. People will listen. And Walker has money to spend on this campaign. I expect great TV and radio ads blanketing the state in pro-Walker propaganda. Who will criticize him for that? He'll have been challenged and therefore required to self-promote.

Meanwhile, the Recall Walker folks will have to field a candidate. In the Wisconsin recall process, you get an election with an opposing candidate. Who is this person going to be?
Names being floated include former U.S. Rep. Dave Obey of Wausau; state Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca of Kenosha; state Sen. Jon Erpenbach of Middleton; Wisconsin Congressman Ron Kind of La Crosse; and former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk. Former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold announced previously that he would not be a candidate for any office next year.
How is one of these characters supposed to mount a campaign that can compare to what Scott Walker has had so much time, money, and motivation to prepare? It seems to me that the Recall Walker effort will play right into Scott Walker's hands. But I'm sure the Recall Walker folks aren't going to listen to me. This blog post is probably just a trick to get them to knock it off, right?

Ah, well. What can I say? Please, people of Wisconsin, save us the money and the turmoil and don't sign the Recall Walker petitions. Or... I'll be here to say I told you so when your feeble, underfunded candidate is overwhelmed by brilliant Scott Walker advertising that transforms the man you love to hate into a feisty, scrappy hero.

"I would rather the Obama folks be hypocrites in favor of protecting the national security than principled fools..."

What would John Yoo say?

Krugman's swipe at Bloomberg's rhetoric about Occupy Wall Street.

Paul Krugman has a column about how various "plutocrats" are "panicking" about the Occupy Wall Street movement, and I want to focus on the 4th paragraph:
Michael Bloomberg, New York’s mayor and a financial-industry titan in his own right, was a bit more moderate, but still accused the protesters of trying to “take the jobs away from people working in this city,” a statement that bears no resemblance to the movement’s actual goals.
So the "actual goals" — presumably, something along the lines of a better world for everyone — should divert us from noticing the actual effects people are actually causing? Imagine that as a general principle: We should to back off from criticizing people who have good intentions, even when they adopt means that cause collateral damage, even when those means aren't likely to get us to the pretty goals they have in mind.

These are exactly the people we need to expose and criticize!

Now, Bloomberg did kind of ask for it, because of his use of the word "trying":
"What [the protesters are] trying to do is take the jobs away from people working in this city... They're trying to take away the tax base we have because none of this is good for tourism....

"If the jobs they are trying to get rid of in this city — the people that work in finance, which is a big part of our economy — we're not going to have any money to pay our municipal employees or clean the blocks or anything else."
Bloomberg's rhetoric assigns to the protesters the intent to achieve the natural consequences of their actions. Obviously, this rhetoric invites the Krugman response. But I think it's a good rhetorical device. It rips away the vanity of dreamers and demands that we look at real, concrete facts.

It's "easy" to answer the question what would John Lennon be like if he were alive today.

"He would love today’s TV with all the channels that are available."

Says May Pang, laughing (and reminiscing about how Yoko assigned her the task of being John Lennon's girlfriend).

ADDED: Oh, yeah, Paul McCartney got married again. That didn't interest me as something to blog about, but having jumped at that Pang bit — portraying John as a guy who would mainly like to watch a lot of television — I find it amusing that Paul's wedding didn't register on my bloggable-o-meter.

IN THE COMMENTS: ndspenelli says:
John Lennon channel surfing...Imagine.
Imagine there's 2,000 channels/It isn't hard to do/Most of them are HD/Video on Demand too...

October 9, 2011

Occupy Madison: The Movie.

ADDED: For some stills and written description, go here and here.

It was a beautiful day in the free city of Madison.

But some earnest folk were determined to do something worthy of the name of their movement: Occupy Madison:

Really, that's a little grim and sad for a lovely day like this. Outside, we see lots of children. I've never seen so many children downtown. We stop inside the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art to check out the Chicago Imagists. I love that kind of art, but then we heard multiple sirens, so we ducked out into the stairway to see what was going on.

No, the protests hadn't gone haywire. It was a parade of fire engines. And that explained why all the kids were downtown.

Middleton Cardinals... hey, that reminds us: It's a baseball day. There's something else getting the jump on protesting. The Milwaukee Brewers are playing the St. Louis Cardinals today in the first game of the National League Championship Series. We head back toward the car...

... and we see a small cadre of the protesters, hardly noticeable amid the much larger crowd of happy people enjoying the warm October afternoon.

(And then we went home and watched the Brewers beat the Cardinals, 9-6.)

The Occupy Madison protest took to the Capitol rotunda today.

I counted 56 or 57 participants — including children — arriving on the Capitol Square at noon. They marched half a block to the law enforcement monument, where they ambled around chanting "We are the 99%." Then a man started a chant that's very familiar from last winter's protests: "Whose house?"/"Our house!" And the group filed up to the Capitol and reassembled in the rotunda for some more chanting and speechmaking.

One of the chants in the rotunda was "How do we fix the deficit?"/"Tax! Tax! Tax the rich!" And I love the hanging banner: "All shared sacrifice is equal, but some must share the sacrifice more than others." It's an allusion to George Orwell's "All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others." You're not really supposed to be proud of sounding Orwellian... but there you have it.

I have video, which I'll put up soon, as well as more photographs. Generally, I'd say that Occupy Madison was a small affair. And yet they're claiming to represent 99% of Americans.

It reminded me a bit of the Silent Majority Walk last June. Those folks got quite a few catcalls about the disparity between their name and their number. Of course, the Silent Majority Walk consisted of conservatives, and the Occupy Madison people give off a strongly left-wing vibe. But I keep thinking there's a bridge between these groups. The main point is that they are upset about economic problems. Whether any of them are right about how to solve these problems... who knows?

"Hey, baby — remember how it was when we were first together?"

"Let’s put aside the arguments, the cheating, the restraining orders and just return to those feelings!”

Instapundit riffs
on my "Obama nostalgia" concept.

At the No Boundaries Café...

... it's another glorious day.

(Photo by Meade, from yesterday's protest. We've got another protest to cover today. Enjoy this open thread.)

"Between the Law School and the Ross School of Business you’ll find Dominick’s... which has been serving students and the area’s aging hippie population ever since the ’60s..."

From a NYT "36 Hours in Ann Arbor" piece. As an aging person who really did frequent Dominick's in the 1960s when I was a young hippie, I'm glad to know it's the first place an outsider dropping in for the essence of Ann Arbor ought to eat.

I haven't been back to Ann Arbor since the 1970s, but I spent an awful lot of time in the geographic zone around Dominick's. I didn't go to the law school, which is right there. I went to the School of Architecture and Design, which used to be right next to the law school, and I lived in East Quad for 2 years. And just over to the left is Krazy Jim's Blimpy Burger. I worked there.

It's cool to see that Krazy Jim's is still around:
Now serving the 5th generation of Blimpy Addicts, we grind our own beef fresh from choice Western chuck. Then our friendly, personable staff throws the rounded balls of meat onto the grill, smashes them flat with a spatula and cooks your burger to crumbly perfection.
Ha. I remember when Jim used to grind up a huge vat of meat and we stood around in the walk-in refrigerator using ice cream scoops to transform it into those meatballs. Krazy Jim's didn't make it into the NYT's recommended 36 hours. Who knows why? Some kind of rule against greasy food?

Glen Campbell, despite Alzheimer's disease, gave a concert last Thursday.

And it was quite beautiful, and not in any kind of maudlin way:
Campbell was the same funny, relaxed, charismatic guy he's always been, and his fingers still rolled out those smooth Stratocaster lines that took songs along winding instrumental roads before graceful resolution. Or, as Campbell humorously acknowledged after a particularly nuanced solo, “I've got a few licks left — I've been practicing.”

IGotYa app sends a photo of the person who steals an iPhone to the phone's owner...

... but what if you only look like the guy in the photo and the police arrest you?
"It looks a little like me," [Brian] Chattoo told police. But he said that the scar over his left eye is different than the one on the man in the photo. Chattoo noted that his scar is horizontal while "his [in the photo] is vertical," adding, "I don't do robberies."...

His sister, Laura, said her brother's face was shorter, his lips were plumper and his eyebrows were more manicured.

"He does them himself," she said.
Oh, man. On top of all your troubles, you've got a sister telling the world that you do your eyebrows.

I'd say: Compare the ears. Ears are distinctive, and these 2 guys have completely different ears. (That is... assuming the photo provided by the family is accurate.)