November 5, 2011

"I see it now... You brought to my attention the beauty that is supposed to be in life."

"Life is like a road and we are all supposed to walk down it, transforming into different people at every crossroad. Sometimes we hit road blocks. Sometimes we're not sure how we'll continue, but we always transform into something that can get us through the day."

(Via Metafilter.)

Occupy Wall Street protesters stereotype men as sexual predators.

Oh? Am I being unfair? Here's the story:
Zuccotti Park has become so overrun by sexual predators attacking women in the night that organizers felt compelled to set up a female-only sleeping tent yesterday to keep the sickos away.

The large, metal-framed “safety tent” — which will be guarded by an all-female patrol — can accommodate as many as 18 people and will be used during the day for women-only meetings, said Occupy Wall Street organizers.
If there were a few attacks by black people, would they set up a white-only section? Why stigmatize all the men as criminals based on the acts of a few?
Some of the male OWS protesters remained in denial over the growing number of sex attacks.

“Sexual harassment gets called rape, and it’s not,” one scoffed when told of the women’s tent.
One scoffed. One of them. Those men.
“There’s no way that it’s happening as much as people are saying it has. It’s just word spreading and getting misunderstood.”
Half-wracked prejudice leaps forth... doesn't it? And if you don't make the women feel secure, they won't come around there anymore. What's a protest movement without women? All male... and you'll just look like a bunch of angry losers.

The Boilermakers came to town.

This was their big moment:

See Boilermaker Pete there? And the small contingent of black-clad fans from Indiana?

But we won. Yay! It was 62-17, which... I don't know... I heard there was something called "running up the score." Seems to me, we overwon it. Too bad the previous 2 weeks we underwon it.

Thanks to "The Elder" for sending us the tickets. First time I've been inside Camp Randall, and I've been living within walking distance of the stadium since 1984.

"Mic Check" jackassery disrupting a speech by Governor Scott Walker.

Here's the report in the Chicago Tribune:
The Republican governor, who appeared before about 300 people at a public policy breakfast at Chicago's Union League Club, saw his speech interrupted by union-backed Occupy Chicago protesters for about six minutes before they left the event.

About 50 people who purchased tickets to the breakfast began chanting minutes into Walker’s remarks, reciting slogans such as “Union busting. It’s disgusting.” And “We are the 99 percent.” They also criticized Walker for being allowed free speech rights while blaming Mayor Rahm Emanuel for Chicago police arrests of 300 protesters who refused to leave Grant Park after an 11 p.m. curfew.
The rudeness is sickening. I don't understand how the protesters imagine that they will win support from anyone that way. They do seem driven to preventing Walker from ever speaking, but in fact, he did speak after they left. He said:
"The bottom line is, no matter how loud you shout, the facts are the facts. The facts are that our reforms have worked and continue to work in the state of Wisconsin.”
It only makes him look better.

AND: Speaking of things that make me queasy... that spelling "mic":
What's the correct spelling — "mic" or "mike"? It's mike, obviously! Do you know any guys named Michael who spell their nickname "Mic"? Imagine 2 Michaels, Mike and Mic: Which one do you want to have a beer with?
ALSO: There's a big debate about spelling in the comments at that last link. I participate a lot in the debate, saying things like:
Yeah, and no one says I'm riding my bic.

No one protests "no nucs."

Note to Cain accuser: Saying "very specific instances" does not equal specifying instances.

The still-unnamed woman communicates through a lawyer:
The lawyer, Joel P. Bennett, who represents a former employee of Mr. Cain’s at the National Restaurant Association, said the accusations did not center on a single exchange that could be easily misinterpreted, which is how Mr. Cain has characterized it. Mr. Bennett said there were multiple episodes that led his client to file a formal complaint with the restaurant association.

“Mr. Cain knows the specific incidents that were alleged,” Mr. Bennett said during a brief news conference outside his Georgetown office. “My client filed a written complaint in 1999 against him specifically and it had very specific instances in it, and if he chooses not to remember or to acknowledge those, that’s his issue.”
This is maddening. Very specific instances. Okay. That's what we need to hear about. What are they?! They don't become very specific instances because you say "very specific instances"! That's still completely abstract. Get specific. Get specific to the point where we can judge for ourselves whether the details amount to something that counts against Cain and that exposes you to a defamation lawsuit if the details are false.
Mr. Bennett described his client as “anxious” to rebut Mr. Cain’s comments while maintaining her desire not to become “a public figure.” 
You want to accuse and remain impervious to any tests of your truth-telling.


The internet is having a big laugh over cruelty to children.

Hey, lie to your children and make them cry, and do it all on video so we can get a laugh. Go ahead, appropriate your child's innocence and trust, make him suffer, and give it to millions of strangers to howl over.

BUT: There is justice in the world. And the day will come when the child will have a video camera of his own, and he or she will film the parent getting emotional.
A YouTube video featuring a Texas judge repeatedly striking his 16-year-old daughter with a leather belt has gone viral on the Internet this week — racking up 2.4 million views since it was posted Oct. 27, and eliciting angry reactions from people around the world.
Teach your children well...

Imagine starting something when you're 59 years old, and becoming a fixture — an icon — doing it for 30+ years.

Andy Rooney, dead at 92.

ADDED: Did you ever notice how nobody notices Joe Piscopo anymore?

That was from 1984, when it was considered hilariously obvious that Andy Rooney was too old and too boring and repetitious to be on TV anymore.

AND: Here's the late Phil Hartman doing Andy Rooney, back when people had the idea that Andy Rooney was racist and homophobic:

From the CBS News article at the first link:
Rooney was also mistakenly connected to racism when a politically charged essay highly insensitive to minorities was written in his style and passed off as his on the internet in 2003....

Many assumed he wrote the screed because Rooney's longtime habit of writing or speaking plainly on sensitive topics had left him open to attacks in the past by activist groups. The racist essay was one of the many false Rooney quotes and essays bouncing around the Internet. The racism charge angered and hurt Rooney deeply, especially because as a young soldier in the early 1940s, he got himself arrested in Florida for refusing to leave the seat he had chosen among blacks in the back of an Army bus.

At the height of the AIDS crisis, Rooney had his biggest run-in with a group and it had dire consequences. In February 1990, the gay magazine The Advocate interviewed him after he associated the human choices of drugs, tobacco and gay sex with death in a CBS News special, "A Year With Andy Rooney: 1989." The magazine printed racist remarks attributed to him from the interview, which he vehemently denied making. A torrent of negative publicity followed, after which then-CBS News President David Burke suspended him for three months. The outcry for his return was deafening. Burke reinstated him after only three weeks, saying Rooney was not a man "who holds prejudice in his heart and mind." The ratings for "60 Minutes," CBS' only top-10 hit that season, dropped while Rooney was off the air.
How loathsome is CBS?

Guy Fawkes Day in a Guy Fawkes mask.

So it's Guy Fawkes Day today. What are you going to do in your Guy Fawkes mask?
Now -- more than four hundred years after the gruesome death of the man who plotted to blow up the Houses of Parliament with barrels of gunpowder -- members of the Occupy and Anonymous movements are hoping to provide their own reason to remember Guy Fawkes Night.

On Saturday, November 5, hundreds of protesters wearing the sinister black and white Guy Fawkes masks plan to march on Parliament in central London.

"It will be a night our government never forgets," Malcolm, a member of hacker group Anonymous, said with a smile. "Our government should be expecting us."...
So... people wearing the masks are threatening violence?
"They're very meaningful masks," said Alexandra Ricciardelli, who was rolling cigarettes on a table outside her tent in New York's Zuccotti Park two days before the anniversary of Fawkes' failed bombing attempt.

"It's not about bombing anything; it's about being anonymous – and peaceful."

To the 20-year-old from Keyport, New Jersey, the Fawkes mask "is about being against The Man – the power that keeps you down."....
Uh... that sounds really stupid. Maybe call up a professor and find out what he says:
"You can seize hold of it for any political purpose you want," [said Lewis Call, an assistant history professor at California Polytechnic in San Luis Obispo.] "That's the real power of it."...

"Gradually over the centuries, the meaning of Guy Fawkes has dramatically changed... The reputation of Guy Fawkes has been recuperated. Before he was originally seen as a terrorist trying to destroy England. Now he's seen more as a freedom fighter, a fighter for individual liberty against an oppressive regime. The political meaning of that figure has transformed."
Fawkes is Fawkes, but don't forget: A mask is a mask:
"People hide behind the masks, put the masks on and their identity is hidden. Therefore they can do a lot more than they would if they didn't have the masks," [said a 33-year-old man at Occupy London who didn't want to be named] after emerging sleepy-eyed from his tent.

November 4, 2011

At the Sandhill Café...

... you can hang out all night.

ADDED: Unfortunately, that dot that seems to be on the lens is not on the lens. It's somewhere inside the camera. Any ideas on how to remove it?

"I can only conclude that your decision to issue a subpoena, authorized by a party-line vote..."

"... was driven more by partisan politics than a legitimate effort to conduct a responsible investigation."

"If god (however you perceive him/her/it) told you to kill your child — would you do it?"

"If your answer is no, in my booklet you’re an atheist."

"The recall effort against Republican Gov. Scott Walker has unexpectedly begun."

"But instead of being filed by Democrats and grass-roots organizations who have vocalized their intentions to recall Walker for months, the petition was filed by David Brandt of Muskego."
The Democratic Party of Wisconsin, which had announced its intention last month to launch the recall Nov. 15, quickly branded the move a "dirty Republican ploy," but it's not clear what Brandt's loyalties are.
Screwup or dirty trick?

ADDED: Apparently, Brandt is a Walker supporter:
The unusual move of having a supporter file recall paperwork immediately angered Walker opponents, who suspected it was made to give the governor a chance to begin raising money before organizers begin their actual recall campaign.

Officials with GAB confirmed Friday that the formation of Brandt's committee would allow Walker to begin fundraising now, a full 11 days before the Democratic Party of Wisconsin had planned to officially start the recall effort on Nov. 15.
AND: By filing as if he were seriously attempting to recall Walker, Brandt makes it possible for Walker to begin fundraising (and it's unlimited fundraising):
Phone messages left at Brandt's home were not returned. In the handwritten form, he listed himself as the committee's treasurer and said he should be exempt from filing campaign finance reports because the committee would not raise more than $1,000 in a calendar year. That small amount of funding would make it impossible to collect and organize a half million signatures....

Cathy Waller, executive director of the Waukesha County Republican Party, said she did not know who Brandt was and did not believe that he has been active in county Republican politics. State Republican Party Executive Director Stephan Thompson said that he also didn't know Brandt and that the Republican Party was not involved in the filing....

Mike McCabe, executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, said the effort also appeared fishy. "It smells like a fake petition drive," said McCabe, whose group tracks political donations.

For campaign purposes, that won't matter. Since the petition has been filed, under state law Walker can immediately begin receiving unlimited political donations from supporters to use for defending himself against a recall.

"Mic Check! Im Drew from internet. We would like to propose tonight the purchase of for the use of all of us."

"It is time sensitive because the person who owns it desperately wants to sell it and will sell it to anybody but we have put a stop on that for the day. I realize that this is a weird situation, but we would rather that you own it than say the Koch brotherss. The amount is $8,000. Just so everyone knows, we are about to take a temp check..."

Occupy Wall Street hands over $8,000 to Mark R. Ellis, 53, of Sarasota, Florida, who registered on September 23.
Ellis described himself as sympathetic to Occupy Wall Street, calling capitalism “extinction-causing software,” but said he has no plans to join the protests. Regarding the sale of, he said, “It’s not about the money for me.” Asked why he didn’t hand over the domain name for free, Ellis said, “Because I’m a businessman.”

"Woman Said to Have Felt Hostility at Work After Complaining About Cain."

That's a hell of a headline. For an article by Jim Rutenberg and Jeff Zeleny at the New York Times. If the woman had been named, it could have read:

Jane Doe Said to Have Felt Hostility at Work After Complaining About Cain.

There'd still be that "said to." So imagine if there had been direct evidence, and if could been:

Jane Doe Felt Hostility at Work After Complaining About Cain.

There'd still be that "felt." So let's add another degree of solidity:

Jane Doe Subjected to Hostility at Work After Complaining About Cain.

There'd still be a lack of agency behind the hostility. If we knew who was sending out that hostility, it might have read:

Co-workers Subjected Jane Doe to Hostility After Her Complaining About Cain.

There'd still be correlation without necessary causation. Let's eliminate that for the purpose of further demonstrating the vagueness of it all:

Co-workers Subjected Jane Doe to Hostility Because of Her Complaining About Cain.

Even the article were bolstered with information that would support these 5 added degrees of specificity, the weakness of the story would remain: Which co-workers? What did they know about the complaint? What form did this hostility take? For how long? And the all-important: What connection did any of this have to something Cain actually did?

Madison officials warn bar owners who require a driver's license that they may be accused of race discrimination.

"It's been clearly documented who does and doesn't have driver's licenses in the state of Wisconsin," said Mark Woulf, alcohol policy coordinator for Madison, citing a vast divide between blacks and whites. "That alone raises eyebrows and could easily be determined to be discriminatory."...

A handful of Downtown bars have had the restrictive ID policy in place since the summer in response to a spike in violence that they say was mostly curbed once they started the policy....

Woulf said no formal complaints have been filed against a bar with the city's civil rights department, a first step that could lead to sanctions, including a bar's liquor license being pulled, if it's found to violate the city's equal opportunities ordinance.

Keeping track of digits.

This picture — over at Sartorialist — of a young woman reading a book in an outdoor café reminds me of something that happened yesterday. See? She's casually slouching in a big fuzzy coat. I assume that's fake fur. So... I was traipsing about on State Street yesterday, looking for something red to wear. (I'm going to the football game tomorrow. I've never gone to a football game!) And I wandered into a shop I like, where I often try things on and, in fact, I often buy things. Many times, over the years, I've dropped $300, $400, even $700 at a time on skirts/tops/jackets/whatever. I check out what's new, and there's a nice fuzzy coat, the sort of thing that seems as though it might be fun to wear slouching about in a café. It might amuse the students and my colleagues if I walked the law school hallways in that. I glance at the price tag. $395. It fits. It looks cute. It could be "me." La la la. Kind of retro hippie. I'm getting a Janis Joplin vibe. I overhear a salesperson say the words "four thousand dollars." Holy fuck. There's another digit on that price tag! I pretend I didn't just realize the coat cost 10x what I thought as I maneuver myself to the point where I can return that pelt to the hanger. Would I ever pay $4,000 for a coat? Maybe. I did buy an Armani suit that one time. But yesterday wasn't one of those times. Yesterday was the day I bought a red scarf — in "cashmink" — which is not something that entailed the participation of any goats or weasels.

Today's stars and the Hollywood icons they resemble.

12 striking examples. Is any new star as fascinating to look at as the icon he/she reminds us of?

Cleaning lady "cleans" artwork, making it "impossible to return it to its original state."

Martin Kippenberger's "When It Starts Dripping From the Ceiling" was "a tower of wooden slats under which a rubber trough was placed with a thin beige layer of paint representing dried rain water." The cleaner went to work on the apparent stain.

My instinctive reaction to this story is that it's a publicity stunt for Kippenberger, because I've heard stories like this before. In fact, the linked news article reminds us of these past stories:
Works of art not infrequently fall victim to zealous cleaners. In 1986, a "grease stain" by Joseph Beuys... was mopped away at the Academy of Fine Arts in Düsseldorf, western Germany.
I remember another that involved something that looked like a pile of trash. Sorry, I do not believe that galleries and museums put up displays worth 100s of 1000s of dollars and don't carefully instruct the cleaning staff about what not to touch. Oh, yeah, here's the trash one:
A bag of rubbish that was part of a Tate Britain work of art has been accidentally thrown away by a cleaner. The bag filled with discarded paper and cardboard was part of a work by Gustav Metzger, said to demonstrate the "finite existence" of art.
It was thrown away by a cleaner at the London gallery, which subsequently retrieved the damaged bag. The 78-year-old artist replaced it with a new bag. The gallery would not reveal whether he would be compensated.

The bag was part of Metzger's Recreation of First Public Demonstration of Auto-Destructive Art, a copy of a piece he produced in 1960. Tate Britain said the work "is made up of several elements, one of which is a rubbish bag included by the artist as an integral part of the installation"....

Metzger, a German artist who lives in east London, invented "auto-destructive" art in 1959.
These artists are arting about destruction. So what counts as an integral part of the installation? I suspect they love it when the cleaning person cleans something. It gets in the press, and we're talking about these people now. I'm digging up this 7-year-old story!

I'm not saying the cleaning person is faking or nonexistent, but I think the exhibits are set up in a way that attracts the unwitting participation of the common non-artist for the titillation and lofty amusement of art consumers.

Herman Cain's other problem: double-breasted suits.

Robin Givhan, covering the fashion-and-politics zone:
To be sure, Cain’s suits are well cut and he has the stature to carry them. Still, they have always been a curious choice and they have now become ill-advised. He would do well to expunge every double-breasted suit from his wardrobe.

[I]n this more casual age—when the “suits” are feeling the rage of Occupy Wall Street, the Tea Party, and anyone who has helplessly watched the rapid decline of their 401(k)—Cain’s garb carries with it a sort of haughty swagger.
And "haughty swagger" is not what you want "when it’s alleged that Cain wielded his executive power in a sexual and inappropriate way." The sexual harassment charge cuts deep: It deprives a man of his distinctive personal style.

And then there's religion:
[Cain] is an ordained Baptist preacher and a man with a habit of breaking out in gospel song at the slightest provocation. Ministers of a certain persuasion often seem to have a predilection for double-breasted suits, as well as three-piece ones. Some of that must surely be because of tradition and formality, but there is also an element of the hierarchal at work.
Haughtiness... swagger... a "certain persuasion" of religion... if this sounds at least vaguely racial, consider that Givhan herself is black. And she does go on to talk about race:
Black politicians have always had a wider berth when it comes to attire. They often dress more formally to make their authority more evident in a society that might question it. And historically they have been allowed more pizzazz, more personal flair. But Cain’s double-breasted suits don’t come with a creative flourish. They come with a standard yellow four-in-hand and an American flag pin perched on his left lapel. Sometimes he dons a ranger hat, which is about as imaginative as cowboy boots for affecting a down-home cool.
He's black, but he doesn't get the usual leeway black men "have been allowed"... why? I mean, really, why is that? What is she saying? What I hear is: He's not the right kind of black man. He's conservative, so he doesn't get whatever that extra freedom is that is allowed — that the passive voice gives — to black men.

November 3, 2011

"This election will not be as sexy as the first one.... We’ve got to grind it out a little bit. We’ve got to grind it out."

He's making it sound sexy!
"I’m going to keep on pushing."
"Keep On Pushing," by The Impressions was the song that played as Obama took the stage at the 2004 Democratic Convention to give the keynote address. Listen:

"Is Obama Toast? Handicapping the 2012 Election."

Lots of detailed analysis from Nate Silver, who sums it up like this:
With Perry having slumped in the polls, however, and Romney the more likely nominee, the odds tilt slightly toward Obama joining the list of one-termers. It is early, and almost no matter what, the election will be a losable one for Republicans. But Obama’s position is tenuous enough that it might not be a winnable one for him.

"You never know how the legislation will be interpreted. Depending on the legal climate, it could be interpreted quite a bit."

Wisconsin lawprof Shubha Ghosh commenting on the proposed Commercial Felony Streaming Act. By contrast:
[U]nder the proposed legislation, it’s extremely unlikely artists like [Justin] Bieber would be prosecuted, said Mitch Glazier, senior executive vice president of the Recording Industry Association of America.

“If you’re a person who is recording a home video [covering a copyrighted song] and posting it, you’re not willfully infringing,” Glazier told TPM. “You don’t have criminal intent. The Justice Department is never going to go after you. And YouTube is licensed.”

So what would constitute willful infringement or criminal intent? For instance: if a user asked for money, or if a music publisher sent a notice asking a person to refrain from using the licensed material, but that person continued anyway. Glazier said the legislation is not “revolutionary, (but it) provides one more tool to be able to block some significant resources to pirates.”
The Justice Department is never going to go after you. How do you feel about assurances like that?

Forget NaNoWriMo. It's AcBoWriMo.

Charlotte Frost declares the first Academic Book Writing Month. (Hey, that's what I meant to do last August!)
We are going to wear comfy clothes, drink a lot of coffee, probably nap in our offices at strange hours and see how close we can get to writing 50 thousand words in one month. I know, it’s totally insane, there can surely only be a handful of academics who can actually turn out decent material in such a short space of time. 
It's 1,667 words per day. About 7 pages a day. You can do that! I've written as many as 15 pages a day though not for an entire month. I think 5 pages a day is doable for academics cranking out books. So why not 7 pages a day? Make a sport out of it. A contest.
There’ll be a hashtag for Twitter where anyone interested in participating – or indeed watching from afar – can talk about progress and share tips and ideas for speed reading/writing (#acbowrimo). And we’re also hoping there might be a write-in in our department or someone’s apartment where we gather people together for mutual support and literally write the night away. Maybe you fancy staging one too somewhere and Skyping us for solidarity?
I like the Occupy Wall Street vibe translated into productive individual work. Not that I could picture myself engaged in group writing. Or... no... maybe I could. I remember loving the "blogger dinners" we did back in 2005. 

(Sorry the photos on that post are not currently displaying. Apple changed up — for which I paid over $100 a year — in a way the wrecked the photo URLs. I'll try to redo them today.)

A genuinely thrilling and beautiful encounter with... murmuration.

Murmuration from Sophie Windsor Clive on Vimeo.

(Via Metafilter.)

"House Panel Votes to Subpoena White House for Solyndra Records."

Fox News reports:
The White House immediately slammed the vote, saying it has "cooperated extensively with the committee's investigation by producing over 85,000 pages of documents, including 20,000 pages produced just yesterday afternoon."

"And all of the materials that have been disclosed affirm what we said on Day One: this was a merit based decision made by the Department of Energy," White House spokesman Eric Schultz said....
If all the materials you've chosen to disclose affirm the story you want to tell and the story is difficult to believe, isn't that a reason to look for more evidence? Who cares how many sheets of paper were produced so far? And if everything relevant has already been produced, why the sensitivity about the subpoena?
Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., who chairs the energy panel's investigations subcommittee, said the White House has been "stonewalling" on Solyndra, releasing some documents but not all.

"They feel that the inner circle of the West Wing is off bounds and we have no right to ask this information," Stearns told Fox Business News this week. "I think the American taxpayers deserve an answer."

"I mean, we're just talking about what happened on Solyndra. It's nothing to do with national security," Stearns added. "We're asking where the taxpayers' money went. And frankly, we're just trying to understand, did the White House actually push this (loan) out, knowing that it was going to fail?""
If the inner circle of the West Wing is off bounds, the White House will refuse to comply with the subpoena, but the subpoena forces the White House to take that stand, conspicuously, which will have a political effect of some kind.

"We now know and have been able to trace it back to the Perry campaign that stirred this up, in order to discredit me and slow us down."

Says Herman Cain, who if he's not sure the oppo drop came from Perry is an immense hypocrite.

By the way, who dropped the "Niggerhead" story on Perry? Did we ever find out?

Taking tests at home, under the watchful eye of a webcam, monitored by a proctor.

It seems creepy to me, but maybe it's a good option for some people.

"The Case Against Referendums: From Greece to California, They Always End Up Undermining Democracy."

David Bell in TNR:
Modern states are far too large and complex for direct democracy. Since it would be hugely impractical for the people, as a whole, to decide on everything from the size of foreign aid budgets to new environmental regulations, they delegate the business of government to elected representatives....

[I]n practice bodies of elected representatives so often seem to devolve into corrupt, complacent and long-lasting oligarchies. Anger at the shenanigans of the political class has helped keep the old suspicions alive right down to the present day, and has led, in democracies across the world, to countless institutional schemes designed to keep elected representatives in check: “imperative mandates” (detailed orders for how to vote in parliament, drawn up and approved by constituents); term limits; making the job part-time; judicial oversight; etc. The single most popular such scheme, however, has been the referendum....

[But referendums] take relatively technical issues away from legislators who have the time and expertise to deal with them, and give them to voters who do not....

[Referendums] tie the hands of legislators in potentially destructive ways....

[R]eferendums tarnish the legitimacy of legislators by subjecting their work to direct popular veto, and therefore casting it as a less genuine expression of popular sovereignty—despite the fact that the routine functioning of a democratic constitution is the most important expression of this sovereignty.
By the way, the U.S. Constitution prescribes the specific method for legislating and amending the Constitution, and that excludes the referendum as a check on Congress, but there is also an argument that the state-level referendums violate the U.S. Constitution. In 1912, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it was not the proper role of the courts to give an answer to that particular question of law, and referendums have continued ever since. What a missed opportunity!

"South Park" takes on Occupy Wall Street.

Here, watch the whole episode, "The 1% Solution." Or just check out the part with Michael Moore:

ADDED: Hey, Michael Moore reminds me of the anti-Scott Walker guy with a bullhorn who bullhorned straight into Meade's face last March. And also the guy who blew a vuvuzela right at my face. In case you're wondering which is worse, it's the vuvuzela. A bullhorn amplifies your voice but it does not channel and project saliva.

"Small government at its best" or "embarrassing" "19th century piece of legislation"?

It's a bill that permits school districts to choose abstinence-based sex education, passed yesterday by the Wisconsin State Senate, voting along party lines.

November 2, 2011

The University of Wisconsin Marching Band practices "I Got Plenty o' Nuttin'" in the rain...

... and Meade and I watch from the car. We proceed around town and there's some miscellaneous conversation about ant heads and graveyards and so forth. This is just a late-night trifle for anybody who wants to hang out with us for 14 minutes or less.

Obama said, “I trust in God, but God wants to see us help ourselves by putting people to work."

He was disapproving of Congress spending time voting to reaffirm "In God We Trust" as the national motto.

(I don't really get the theology of it. Does the President purport to know what legislation God wants Congress to pass? And if God is big on people helping themselves, why should government intervene with attempts at help? I know... it's just a joke about God. Obama is using the Lord's name to jab at people who are using the Lord's name. I need a reading on whether God likes any of that.)

When we reread a book, we can "behave towards" it the way we behave towards a painting.

Think about why rereading a book is better than reading it the first time.
When we read a book for the first time the very process of laboriously moving our eyes from left to right, line after line, page after page, this complicated physical work upon the book, the very process of learning in terms of space and time what the book is about, this stands between us and artistic appreciation. When we look at a painting we do not have to move our eyes in a special way even if, as in a book, the picture contains elements of depth and development. The element of time does not really enter in a first contact with a painting. In reading a book, we must have time to acquaint ourselves with it. We have no physical organ (as we have the eye in regard to painting) that takes in the whole picture and then can enjoy its details. But at a second, or third, or fourth reading we do, in a sense, behave towards a book as we do towards a painting.

Grandpa Aaron reports on the video games his grandson gave him for his birthday.

Very sweet. Via Reddit.

"There is no way for us, as militiamen, to save this country, to save Georgia, without doing something that’s highly, highly illegal: murder."

4 old men in Georgia, with " a plot to use guns, bombs and the toxin ricin to kill federal and state officials and spread terror."

"When it comes time to saving the Constitution, that means some people have got to die," Frederick Thomas, 73, allegedly said.

ADDED: Made me think of this:


... bride.

"Cain Says Perry Camp Behind Sex Harassment Leak."


"Tech-savvy disabled teen, being beaten for using a website not approved of by hyper-luddite father who's a FAMILY LAW JUDGE..."

"... films it and uses that footage as retaliation to (probably) destroy his career? If you gave me that plot as a TV movie, I'd tell you it was too much."

(NOTE: Clicking the link will not take you to the video, but you will find a link to the video. I clicked through, but instinctively turned it off after about 5 seconds, without seeing any of the beating.)

Steve Colbert goes to Occupy Wall Street, then interviews a woman named Ketchup...

... and some guy who, like Ketchup, is not the leader of the movement, but is there to explain the mechanisms of leaderlessness... including wiggly-fingered hand gestures. Quite hilarious:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
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"I'm regularly amazed that the [American Players Theater] attracts sold-out crowds of Packer-jersey-wearing theatergoers to the pleasures of, say, Molière."

Says Kenneth Burns (of the Madison tabloid "Isthmus"). I think he thinks he's displaying good liberal values there, and the elitist snobbery is unintended. Keep reading the comments. Meade is in there, japing.

Politico essay "Cain reaction: Not by the book" should really be titled "Cain, give up before it gets ugly."

"Herman Cain... has already broken every rule in the book on how to deal with a political scandal," says Suzanne Garment (at Politico, where the allegations were first revealed):
After 25 years of post-Watergate scandals, political people have figured out what you do about a skeleton like Cain’s: Enter crisis mode. Gather every witness and piece of paper you can. Have your story straight. Identify the holes in it and shore them up. Then get out in front with the story line—quickly, before the cold turns into pneumonia. Everybody knows this....
But what Garment really wants to talk about is — as she puts it — "what the Cain scandal... says about us." She offers 2 "possibilities." One is that the scandal confirmed what the press already thought of him, that he's got a "substandard... organization," and so the scandal works as "a hard news hook on which to hang a soft judgment." If that's what's going on, we are in the middle of ending Cain's viability as a candidate.
The other possibility is the one people mention, then recoil from as if they’d touched a hot stove: the possibility that we’re watching a Thomas. It’s no wonder they recoil. Twenty years ago, the question of whether Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas made unwelcome sexual comments to Anita Hill turned into a piece of political theater that scorched not just the two principals but those who observed them and the confirmation process itself.

Even partisans of then-Judge Thomas asked themselves, if they were honest, about the climate that subjected Hill to such an unremitting attack on her character. Even partisans of Hill asked themselves, if they were honest, about the venom of the attack on a conservative black man.

Yes, we have no idea of how much or how little the particular facts of the Cain and Thomas situations resemble each other. But no one who watched the Hill-Thomas struggle can forget the sheer hatefulness exposed by the controversy, and no one who watches the Cain scandal can avoid the echoes of that memory. All one can hope is that an awareness of the past ugliness will keep us from repeating it.
What is Garment really trying to say? I find her writing a strange combination of tortured and mealy-mouthed. I think she's saying Cain is an inadequate candidate and this scandal provides an opportunity to take him down soundly and efficiently, but she's worried that people will fight for him, and she warning us not to go there. It will be ugly.

I don't know her politics, but I suspect that if she was around 20 years ago, she was one of the many people who thought that Clarence Thomas, when accused of sexual harassment, would accept the shame and quietly remove himself from the national stage. But he stood his ground, the fight took place, and he has held his position on the Court to this day.

Can Garment really think that those of us who respect Clarence Thomas wish he'd spared us that fight by departing on cue? What would have happened next? We'd have learned that opponents can take down a preferred candidate by throwing an accusation against him about something that happened without witnesses other than the accuser and the accused. How many times would that scenario play out before people would rouse themselves from that self-defeating passivity?

Garment doesn't mention Bill Clinton, but there's a man who dragged the country through an unbelievably ugly ordeal to hold onto his power, and his co-partisans supported him on that long march through the mud, even at the cost of selling out all the principle they'd seemed to care so deeply about only a few years before when they tried to take down Clarence Thomas.

Wisconsin Assembly argues all night over scholarship preferences for members of designated minority groups.

They took up the topic at 11 p.m. and argued until 8 a.m.:
[A] routine bill... turned controversial when Rep. Peggy Krusick of Milwaukee offered an amendment to remove race as one factor for a scholarship program that serves disadvantaged college students....
Krusack, by the way, is a Democrat. And the argument ended with approval of her amendment, 57-34. All the Republicans and none of the other Democrats voted yes. The vote on the bill has yet to occur.

Before all that happened, the Assembly passed a bill adopting the "castle doctrine," which presumes the use of deadly force against intruders is reasonable.
Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm has said Wisconsin, like most states, doesn't need a castle doctrine because current law provides more than adequate protection for anyone legitimately acting in self-defense. Sheboygan County District Attorney Joe DeCecco said that strangers occasionally enter the wrong homes accidentally if they're confused or drunk.

"Shouldn't there be some minimal effort required to assess the situation or call police before firing?" DeCecco asked.
People need to lock their doors. Are drunks really wandering into the wrong houses around here? Yes, it would be awful if some homeowner with a gun blasted away some confused drunkard, but are there really people who stand ready to shoot intruders but don't lock their doors? If the door is locked, you don't get the drunk wanderer, so what is this important circumstance DeCecco is worrying about?

Matt Rothschild — editor of The Progressive — arrested for taking photos of someone getting arrested for taking photos.

There's a rule against taking photos from the gallery of the Wisconsin Assembly. On his shirt, Rothschild had taped a sheet of paper taped with the free speech provisions of the U.S. and Wisconsin Constitutions.
Like many of the others who filled nearly every seat in the Assembly gallery, Rothschild said he was fed up with the arrests in recent weeks of citizens who defied the Assembly ban on displaying signs, and shooting photos and video....

A contributor to the liberal blog Daily Kos helped draw protesters to the Capitol Tuesday by calling for a "Concealed Camera Day" protest. Comedian Stephen Colbert had great fun on his show Monday night, noting that Wisconsin residents, under the concealed carry law that kicked in Tuesday, will now be able to carry concealed weapons in the Capitol but are not allowed to shoot video of legislative proceedings.
Where's the inconsistency? You can carry a camera, and you can't shoot the gun.
When the Assembly was called to order a little after 6 p.m., protesters sat in the upstairs gallery with signs clearly attached to their shirts. 
There's also a rule against signs. And "public displays" and "demonstrations." Here's video edited from the point of view of the demonstrators. Go to 2:40 to get to the scene inside the gallery. There's singing — "Deep in my heart/I do believe/Walker won't be Governor some day" — and confrontation with the police — "Did you see that guy pushed me?... Don't you ever put your hands on me again or I'll sue you."
About five police officers stood at the back of the room at the time. Soon people starting holding up their cell phones to shoot video. Assembly pages first asked these individuals to put away their phones but, when they were rebuffed, police officers moved in to make arrests.
That is, as we've observed in the past, the photography-related arrests occur only after a person is warned and decides to accept arrest rather than stop.
While the arrests were being made, some protesters yelled at the police. Others simply asked them why they were making arrests. "You could refuse to do this," one protester said to an officer.
Here's the "Concealed Camera Day" post from Giles Goat Boy in the Daily Kos:
Starting Tuesday, November 1st, Wisconsin residents can apply for a permit to carry concealed weapons, and they can then carry those concealed weapons throughout most of the state Capitol building. Guns will soon be allowed in the Assembly gallery, but silently filming from the gallery will get you arrested. Weird, eh?...

For those of you who can show up, here are a few things to know:

1. There is no central meeting place. Bring a camera, even if it's just your cell phone....

3. Some activists might choose to quietly record the proceedings, as is their first amendment right. They might be arrested. This is their choice, and is not required of you to be part of this action. If you do choose to film the proceedings or display signs, you too might be subject to arrest, citations, or jail, so you are more than welcome to simply be a silent observer. More than anything, we want to fill up the gallery with peaceful, quiet witnesses.

5. As I just said, this is a peaceful action. Remain quiet and do not disrupt the Assembly proceedings....

6. This is not a demonstration against the concealed carry law, it is an action meant to point out hypocrisy and to support the first amendment rights of those who have been arrested and jailed.
What was the "hypocrisy"? If you're carrying a "concealed camera," there's no violation of the rules at all. And the demonstrators obviously were not following Goat Boy's rules, because they were not keeping a quiet vigil with concealed cameras. From what I can see, they were disruptive and distracting, which is the reason for the viewpoint-neutral rules of the Assembly.


Who they were, where they worked.

(Via Instapundit.)

(If you don't remember what JournoList was, click the tag below for all my old posts on the subject.)

November 1, 2011

Now, everybody's copying that Herman Cain ad...

"Are China’s Rulers Getting Religion?"

Asks Ian Johnson:
...China is now in the grips of a moral crisis. In recent months, the Chinese Internet has been full of talk about the lack of morality in society....

... Beijing is giving new support to religion—even the country’s own beleaguered traditional practice, Daoism....

This is a sharp change for a religion that that was persecuted under Mao and long regarded as suspect. What, exactly, is gong on here?
(NYRB needs some better editing, or is "gong" some kind of tweaking-the-Chinese joke?)
One reason authorities are now embracing Daoism as a source of moral guidance is that, in contrast to Christianity—which sometimes runs afoul of authorities—Daoism is widely seen as an unthreatening, indigenous religion.... Daoism can be seen as the original tune-in-turn-on-drop-out religion; many Daoist luminaries have preferred a life of contemplation to pursuit of earthly power....
But the more China’s leaders try to use religion for their own purposes, the more difficult it may be to have an actual effect on perceived problems like society’s moral decline....
Think about how governments use religion for their own ends, perhaps to shore up morality among the citizenry, perhaps to foster obedience and quiescence. What's the best religion for government's ends? And how much can we infer about a government from the religion it chooses? When a government selects Daoism, what does that mean?

Are you part of "the technocrati generation that uses the city as its living room and kitchen..."

"... and goes to practically a dorm room to crash at the end of the day"?
In cities, modules can be stacked to make a new generation of efficient buildings. At Zeta headquarters, architect Taeka Takagi rolls out a blueprints with one of Zeta's prototypes.

"It is a micro studio," she says. "The units are under 300 square feet."

"The Greek government was plunged into chaos on Tuesday and faced an imminent collapse..."

"... as lawmakers rebelled against Prime Minister George Papandreou’s surprise call for a popular referendum on a new debt deal with Greece’s foreign lenders."

Who dumped the Cain sexual harassment story on Politico?

Everyone's speculating. Was it an "oppo dump"?

California's high-speed rail project nearly triples in cost — to $98.5 billion.

And the new projected completion date is 2033, not 2020.
Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday was expected to endorse the long-awaited plan, the first major update to the project in two years and the last before the federal deadline to begin construction next year. But state legislators, who were already skeptical, will tear through the plan starting Tuesday before deciding whether to start building, or to kill the project.
Obviously, they need to kill the project. Speaking of governors, remember this guy?

That's the ad — from August 2010 — that clinched my vote for Scott Walker.

"Domestic abusers to wear GPS tracking ankle bracelets that text message victims on whereabouts..."

A new program on Staten Island — called Domestic Violence GPS Initiative — operated by a security firm in Atlanta. It will begin by attaching these devices to "a few dozen" individuals who have been found guilty of a domestic violence offense and who have repeatedly violated protective orders. The victim gets a text if the offender crosses into the "exclusory zone."

October 31, 2011

At the Chrysanthemum Café...

... you can talk all night.

The gesture Cain made that, he says, brought a complaint about sexual harassment.

On Greta Van Susteren's show, he spoke of an employee in her late 30s or early 40s who accused him of sexual harassment:
"She was in my office one day, and I made a gesture saying -- and I was standing close to her -- and I made a gesture saying you are the same height as my wife.  And I brought my hand up to my chin saying, 'My wife comes up to my chin.'"  At that point, Cain gestured with his flattened palm near his chin.  "And that was put in there [the complaint] as something that made her uncomfortable," Cain said, "something that was in the sexual harassment charge."
Supposedly, the woman and her lawyer asked for a "huge" settlement, but she got very little, just enough to induce her to terminate the lawsuit.

Rush Limbaugh's reaction today:
Now, we don't have any evidence of ice packs on a busted lip as we had with Juanita Broaddrick and Bill Clinton.  Yeah, Bill Clinton and Juanita Broaddrick, "Hey babe, you better put some ice on that, you're bleeding at the lip."  We don't have any of that.  This story appears to me to be a close relative of the hit job that the Washington Post is doing on Marco Rubio.  It's not a news story.  This is gutter partisan politics, and it's the politics of minority conservative personal destruction, is what you've got here.  Rubio and Cain unfit to lead, don't you see. We cannot have a black Republican running for the office of president.  We can't have one elected.  We can't have an Hispanic.

The left owns those two groups, and those two groups are gonna forever be minorities. Those groups cannot ever be seen to be self-sufficient or rising above, on their own. Those two groups are owned -- lock, stock, and barrel -- by the Democrat Party and anything good that happens to any black or Hispanic in American politics can only happen via the Democrat Party....

This is how the mainstream media keeps the Republican Party in check: They're scared to death of this kind of thing happening to them. Pure and simple. It's also why (I'm just predicting) you're not going to see too many people in the official Republican establishment rise up to Herman Cain's defense. You know, if this exact circumstance (as I just mentioned) had happened in a conservative publication, not only would the Democrats and the media be going after the women -- as James Carville did and others during the Clinton years -- they'd be going after the reporters. They'd be going after the publication. Anybody who had anything to do with the story, it would be search-and-destroy. Our side will not do that.

Rush Limbaugh's crisis of confidence.

This is odd, because you think of him as supremely confident:
... I've been talking about things I really don't care about and I have been worried (particularly for the past month) that I'm boring everybody silly....

I'm asking myself, "Have I reached a career crossroads here?"  This is a new experience for me....  I mean, I've really been agonizing over this in a career sense, and I have been dealing with it as best that I go....

[T]hat's what I've really been worrying about: "Have I lost it?"  Snerdley, I've walked outta here every day the past month thinking, "This has to have been boring as hell to listen to. Just has to be," and I worry about it, 'cause every day this show I do for the audience.  I don't do it for me.  Well, I do do it for me.  That's crazy. But I do it for the audience.  I know what the audience expectations are, and they are high, and the objective here is to meet and surpass them each and every day.  When I think I'm not doing that, I get depressed in terms of letting people down.

Why is Perry but not Romney or Cain beating Obama in the Rasmussen poll of Wisconsin voters?

Perry beats Obama, 46%/54%, but Obama beats Romney, 45%/41%, and Cain, 47%/42%.

I just don't get it. What's getting Perry those extra 4 or 5 percentage points here? Something about the empathy toward immigrants? The HPV vaccine? Is Wisconsin harboring some anti-Mormon or anti-black folks?

I genuinely don't know, and I also wonder what it might say about the recall effort against Scott Walker.

ADDED: Rasmussen has a new poll about Walker:
The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Wisconsin Voters shows that 38% Strongly Approve of the job Walker is doing, while the same number (38%) Strongly Disapproves. Overall, the Republican governor earns positive reviews from 49% and negative grades from 49%....

Walker’s overall ratings have improved since March, when 43% approved of his performance and 57% disapproved.  At that time, 34% Strongly Approved of the job he was doing and 48% Strongly Disapproved....

While 55% of male voters in the state like the job the governor's doing, 55% of female voters disapprove of his performance. 
What's with the sex divide? Well, that's not special to Wisconsin, is it? The Perry thing... that's what's puzzling.
Most voters under 40 disapprove of Walker, while the majority of their elders approve. Married voters and those with children in the home are more likely to approve of the governor's performance than are unmarrieds and those without children. 
These kids today!

Now, here is the most interesting statistic:
Just four percent (4%) of Wisconsin voters rate the U.S. economy as good or excellent, while 60% describe it as poor. Fifty-seven percent (57%) of those who think the economy is poor give Walker favorable marks.

Where's the line between pet costume...

... and tormenting an animal?

Are the NY police relying on criminals and lowlifes to break down the protest in Zuccotti Park?

Excellent reporting by Harry Siegel at the NY Daily News:
Most of the working groups have been clustered at the east end of the park....

Most of the non-participants in turn pitched camp west of there, as far as possible from the workers. That dynamic reinforced itself, as occupiers nervous about their possessions and safety slept by their equipment and each other to the east, while the carnival crowd kept to the other side of Zuccotti....

The police, whom many occupiers see as the enemy and who work under a mayor who’s made no secret of his distaste for the occupiers, have little reason to help them maintain order, and rarely seem to have entered the park over the last week for anything short of an assault....

But while officers may be in a no-win situation, at the mercy of orders carried on shifting political winds and locked into conflict with a so-far almost entirely non-violent protest movement eager to frame the force as a symbol of the oppressive system they’re fighting, the NYPD seems to have crossed a line in recent days, as the park has taken on a darker tone with unsteady and unstable types suddenly seeming to emerge from the woodwork. Two different drunks I spoke with last week told me they’d been encouraged to “take it to Zuccotti” by officers who’d found them drinking in other parks, and members of the community affairs working group related several similar stories they’d heard while talking with intoxicated or aggressive new arrivals....

“The police are saying ‘it’s a free for all at Zuccotti so you can go there,’” said Daniel Zetah, a member of several working groups including community affairs. “Which makes our job harder and harder because the ratio is worse and worse.”
Read the whole thing. It's fascinating sociology: the little society that has grown up within Zuccotti Park. It reminds me a bit of "Slouching Towards Bethlehem," Joan Didion's account of of Haight-Ashbury, which describes the decline of what was supposed to be a Utopia.

And what of the police strategy Siegel seems to uncover? I can't say what is really going on, but suppose the police (and the Mayor) decide that it's too difficult — too much effort and too much bad press or too legally confusing — to oust the protesters from Zuccotti Park, and instead they encourage criminals and lowlifes to move in and prey upon the idealists and naifs.

Steve Jobs's feet.

From the Walter Isaacson biography "Steve Jobs":
He was still convinced, against all evidence, that his vegan diets meant that he didn’t need to use a deodorant or take regular showers. “We would have to literally put him out the door and tell him to go take a shower,” said Markkula. “At meetings we had to look at his dirty feet.” Sometimes, to relieve stress, he would soak his feet in the toilet, a practice that was not as soothing for his colleagues.


To produce the fully packaged Apple II would require significant capital, so they considered selling the rights to a larger company. Jobs went to Al Alcorn and asked for the chance to pitch it to Atari’s management. He set up a meeting with the company’s president, Joe Keenan, who was a lot more conservative than Alcorn and Bushnell. “Steve goes in to pitch him, but Joe couldn’t stand him,” Alcorn recalled. “He didn’t appreciate Steve’s hygiene.” Jobs was barefoot, and at one point put his feet up on a desk. “Not only are we not going to buy this thing,” Keenan shouted, “but get your feet off my desk!” Alcorn recalled thinking, “Oh, well. There goes that possibility.”

Attacks upon the neck.

Talk of a high-tech lynching got me thinking about the neck attack that made the news here in Wisconsin last June. Do you remember? State Supreme Court Justice David Prosser was said to have put Justice Ann Walsh Bradley in a "chokehold." There was an investigation, a special prosecutor, and a decision against bringing criminal charges, but there was also an investigation by the Wisconsin Judicial Commission, concentrating on judicial ethics, which nobody seems to talk about anymore.

Back in August, I wondered about the way nobody was talking about the Judicial Commission anymore, perhaps because the criminal investigation made it seem that Bradley was the aggressor and Prosser reacted in self-defense. When the tables were turned, the noise died down, but when there were only allegations that Prosser was the aggressor, protesters vilified Prosser:
This is the level of left-wing activism we witnessed here in Madison. A justice is despised because his decisions do not please liberals, and so, without thought, they forgot about things liberals like to love themselves for caring about, such as fairness and due process....

[Isthmus blogger David] Blaska demands apologies from people who should be "ashamed of their lynch mob mentality." He names the "practitioners of the dark arts of 'by any means necessary.'"
Speaking of turning the tables, liberal hypocrisy, and David Blaska, he's writing about a new incident here in Madison:
A Dane County prosecutor says she believes Madison Ald. Brian Solomon sexually assaulted a city employee who is assigned to work with the common council. But the district attorney's office won't bring him to trial only because, it says, getting a unanimous jury to convict would be chancy....

Is the Left calling for Ald. Solomon to resign? Not that I can tell. No righteous indignation from The Capital Times. Crickets at Madame Brenda's Forward Lookout website. No protest rallies in front of the Capitol. The drum circles are silent.

The Former Kathleen, County Supes Melissa Sargent and Diane Hesselbine, and Madison Ald. Lisa Subeck suffered no such reticence in organizing a shouting, chanting Capitol rally on July 12 demanding that Supreme Court Justice David Prosser resign for allegedly choking fellow Justice Anne Walsh Bradley. They did so even as the legal system was in the midst of a careful, detailed inquiry. No, the feminist lynch mob could not wait for due process....

Why the differing responses? We know why, don't we class? Brian Solomon is a liberal, he's Progressive Dane for chrissakes! He's for the victim (even if he creates some of them).

High-tech lynching + Herman Cain.

A Google search returns 35,400 results the day after Politico drops its story about 2 female employees who, years ago, were angered and upset by what they said was "sexually suggestive behavior" by Herman Cain.

Let's listen to the original use of the phrase "high-tech lynching." It was just about exactly 20 years ago that Clarence Thomas, nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court by George H. W. Bush, faced the Senate Judiciary Committee, which, under the watch of Senator Joe Biden, heard testimony accusing him of sexual harassment.

Halloween greetings.

(Animation of Meade's photo by Chip Ahoy.)

October 30, 2011

Saturday's protest ambiance: mellow, low-key.

A woman dressed in nonthreatening witch garb stood under the "Forward" statue and implored people to assemble for an "Oakland March" — which I presume was a protest against the recent attempt by the police in Oakland, California to oust the Occupy Oakland protesters.

People gave the "witch" a wide berth. It was a Farmers' Market day, so the Capitol Square was pretty crowded, mostly with people who didn't seem to be shopping for any new political ideas. But there was a woman standing under a black "Recall Walker" umbrella, and a man with a lot of 9/11 Truther paraphernalia.

Then there was this man with a "Decline of Western Civilization" poster. It's got this quote that's attributed to Alexander Fraser Tytler, a Scottish-born British writer who died in 1813.

The Wikipedia article says: Tytler "believed that 'a pure democracy is a chimera,' and that 'All government is essentially of the nature of a monarchy.'" The "Tytler Cycle" that appears on the poster is unlikely to have been written by Tytler. I'm not sure what political position the poster-holder is trying to take. He has a "you are here" pointer — see the enlargement — between "from Abundance to Complacency" and "from Complacency to Apathy." "Apathy" subsequently leads to "Dependence," which makes me think he's taking a right-wing position against the people becoming dependent on government. "Dependence" leads to "Bondage," which gets us back to the beginning of the cycle. But I'm going to assume that he means it in a left-wing way. Right?

"Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow."

The last words of Steve Jobs, recounted by his sister, the novelist Mona Simpson, in her fine eulogy.

On "Face the Nation," Bob Schieffer chastised Herman Cain about the "smoking man" ad.

Bob Schieffer could not restrain himself within the role of journalist today. It was pretty ridiculous:

The mess that is "Meet the Press" had me laughing until tears ran down my face.

We watch the NBC show on DVR and pause frequently to analyze, dissect, and mock. Here's today's transcript. They had Walter Isaacson, the author of that terrific new biography of Steve Jobs, and then they also had Tom Brokaw, NBC's retired news anchor, who also has a new book. It might make a mildly appreciated Christmas present for any members of the "greatest generation" who still survive in your family. Pushing Brokaw's book, they subjected us to text like this:

Matt Yglesias says "Let Children Vote."

The notion is: they probably won't, but the ones who do would probably "come from an unusually dedicated and informed sub-set of American teenagers."

Matt himself is, despite appearances, already old enough to vote. His idea reminds me of one of my earliest political opinions. It was 1960. I was 9. I said: "If kids could vote, it would be a landslide for Nixon." It seemed so unfair! If only kids could vote.

Speaking of unfairness, the voting age changed from 21 to 18 in the year I turned 21. It was 1972, my first chance to vote for President, and suddenly all the 18 and up kids could vote too. Of course, I voted for McGovern. Now, to be realistic, if the voting age had been 18 all along, 1972 would still have been my first presidential vote. I was only 17 in 1968. It was so unfair. But I was able to inform my unduly conventional parents about my (unusually dedicated!) support for Eldridge Cleaver. Peace and Freedom!

Oh, I know what you're thinking. How did she get from Nixon to Cleaver in 8 years? It's called teenage.

Yesterday, we drove past the new "Occupy Madison" encampment...

... which you can see in the first 10 seconds of this 14-minute video...

... and you can hang out with Meade and me for the rest of the drive if you want. You'll see some more of Madison and the University of Wisconsin and eavesdrop on us. It's not all politics, I assure you, at 2 p.m. on a beautiful Saturday.

ADDED: A couple extra videos for reference. Here's the awesome song "United We Stand" by Brotherhood of Man:

And here's one of the wonderful "I'm a Pepper" commercials from the 1970s:

Of course, you must know the Herman Cain "smoking man" commercial, and here's the take-off by the Huntsman daughters.

AND: 2 more references. Donald Rumsfeld:

And Little Edie:

"This is snow, it's not going to kill us. What they're doing to us will kill us. What they're doing to our world."

Winter comes early to Zuccotti Park, where — as the apparently editorless New York Magazine puts it — tents "are explicitly forgiven." 
While the occupation's ranks have thinned, the hard-core activists are sticking around, huddling in a large central tent and distributing donated sleeping bags. "It's like Valley Forge out there now," a beaming middle-aged finance facilitator named Mercury John told me. "But it's a beautiful day ... We'll keep splashing in the puddles."
Valley Forge. Except you have the option to go inside whenever you want, and you're getting something to eat besides "fire cake,' a tasteless mixture of flour and water." And you don't have typhoid and dysentery. And no one is expecting you to fight a war. But yeah, it's like Valley Forge.

That beaming middle-aged finance facilitator isn't the first one to liken the plight of the occupiers to Valley Forge. Here's an AP bit from 3 days ago:
“Everyone’s been calling it our Valley Forge moment,” said Michael McCarthy, a former Navy medic in Providence. “Everybody thought that George Washington couldn’t possibly survive in the Northeast.”
Actually, it was easier for the Valley Forge folks to put up with the harsh conditions. There weren't buildings all around that they could duck into if they lost heart.

Anne Applebaum prattles about the divide in America between the upper-middle class and the lower-middle class.

Instapundit pointed me to this piece, so I read it:
Despite all the loud talk of the “1 per cent” of Americans who, according to a recent study, receive about 17 per cent of the income, a percentage which has more than doubled since 1979, the existence of a very small group of very rich people has never bothered Americans. But the fact that some 20 per cent of Americans now receive some 53 per cent of the income is devastating.

I would argue that the growing divisions within the American middle class are far more important than the gap between the very richest and everybody else. They are important because to be “middle class”, in America, has such positive connotations, and because most Americans think they belong in it...

“Middle America” also once implied the existence of a broad group of people who had similar values and a similar lifestyle. If you had a small suburban home, a car, a child at a state university, an annual holiday on a Michigan lake, you were part of it. But, at some point in the past 20 years, a family living at that level lost the sense that it was doing “well”, and probably struggled even to stay there. Now it seems you need a McMansion, children at private universities, two cars, a ski trip in the winter and a summer vacation in Europe in order to feel as if you are doing minimally “well”. ...
What?! "It seems..."? It doesn't seem that way to me! I'm securely in the "upper middle class" as Applebaum describes it, yet I don't see myself as easily grasping the things on that list of what it takes to feel you're doing "minimally 'well.'" Why would people distributed throughout the middle class feel left behind because they can't get all that? Applebaum seems radically out of touch with reality. Do people even want McMansions anymore? The professors I know seem to love modest-sized houses when they have a nice design and some pretty gardens. And I don't know anyone who comfortably shells out cash for college tuition. And who are these people who think it's necessary to get over to Europe in the summer?

Applebaum poses what she must think is a ponderous question:
[I]f Americans are no longer “all in the same boat”, if some of them are now destined to live better than others, then will they continue to feel like political equals? 
They? Why is she saying "they"?! I'd say we will go on as we always have. We look at those who have more, make some choices, and do what we can. Some of us get motivated to work harder at making money, and maybe we succeed and maybe we don't. Some of us decide not to work so hard but to control our covetousness and develop our capacity to love what we have. (Why not leave Europe to the Europeans and buy an annual pass to your state's parks and value the beauty of the landscape you live in? That's what Meade and I do.)  And, yes, some of us fall prey to bitterness and cynicism, and if that happens, we can either perceive this state of mind as our own character flaw or plunge deeply into blaming others.

We're a diverse bunch, we Americans. But I think most of us understand the way we are equal in America. We have equal rights and equal opportunity. We have never had equal economic outcomes, and very few of us have ever believed in the kind of politics that say we need equal economic status to feel like political equals.

Iowa poll: Cain 23, Romney 22, Paul 12... Perry 7.


What's the most interesting thing about this new poll?
Cain's on top.
Romney's doing so well when he's eschewed campaigning in Iowa.
Paul in the double digits.
Perry's tanking.
Whatever happened to Bachmann, who won the Iowa straw poll? free polls