November 19, 2011

Recall Scott Walker — the rally at the Wisconsin Capitol today.



Recorded by Meade, edited by me.

IN THE COMMENTS: Curious George says:
Perhaps Meadehouse didn't feel we could handle it, but here is video of the Recall Flash Mob.

While painful to watch for it's lameness, I think it's important, because this is actually representative of the quality of product that public unions produce. 
You know, it may be lame, but it's also pretty charming. Think about the anger, confusion, and the incipient violence you've seen in various Occupy [Your City] situations. After a year of frustration, these people are still smiling and dancing.

At the Recall Scott Walker rally.

There were folks with signs...


(Enlarge.)

... rock musicians...



... and unions...



Today at the Capitol Square here in Madison Wisconsin. Photos by Meade. There were 25,000 to 30,000 people there today, according to news reports. These stills don't show that, but hang on, we've got video coming soon.

ADDED: More on the rally here:
Former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold signed a petition as he helped kick off the rally...

Feingold, the longtime Democratic senator who was defeated in November by Republican Ron Johnson, encouraged volunteers to counteract two pieces of misinformation that he said have been circulated by the movement's critics: that recalls are only allowed in cases of criminal conduct or malfeasance and that the recall movement consists of out-of-state activists.

"Our law says you can do recalls if you simply attack the people of Wisconsin," as Walker has done, Feingold said.

He also praised the recall movement as "all grassroots and all Badger."

Recent polling has identified Feingold as the only Democrat running ahead of Walker in a possible recall election

But despite shouts of "Governor Feingold!" and "Run, Russ, run!" from the volunteers, Feingold reiterated that he won't run against Walker if the signature drive is successful.

"I want there to be a new governor," Feingold told reporters outside the theater. "There will be a new governor in a few months, but it won't be me."

The "South Park" alien...

... in every episode.

Ever notice?

ADDED: Reminds me of the plant named "Arthur" that popped up in Mad Magazine, so many years ago. I'd like to find you a good link for that, but in looking for one, I found this excellent presentation of the Mad fold-in pages, where you can make the fold with your cursor.

Football is better on TV... watched alone.

Asserts Luke O'Neil, whose friends "don't enjoy my company."
Now that a personalized, crystal-clear picture is at everyone's fingertips, it is pure torture to let someone else man the controls. Watching my friends operate a DVR makes me feel like a nervous backseat driver. When I'm at my in-laws’ house, for instance, I have to watch the Patriots game in a separate room because my father-in-law will inevitably flip over to golf during commercials. Personally, I like to pause the action every time there's a stoppage in play or when, say, the damn Patriots defense allows yet another third down conversion. (That happens a lot.) After I hit pause, I'll walk around the house a few times grinding my teeth. If I did that with company around, it would inevitably lead to someone complaining about being behind real time and somebody else whining that he can’t check his fantasy numbers without spoiling the game that’s now on pause. And they would be right to complain, if those hypothetical people still came over to watch football. Thankfully, I’ve scared them all away.

"You're going to see from me extraordinarily radical proposals to fundamentally change the culture of poverty in America and give people a chance to rise very rapidly."

Said Newt Gingrich at Harvard's Kennedy School last night. Asked about income inequality, he said:
"This is something that no liberal wants to deal with... Core policies of protecting unionization and bureaucratization against children in the poorest neighborhoods, crippling them by putting them in schools that fail has done more to create income inequality in the United States than any other single policy. It is tragic what we do in the poorest neighborhoods, entrapping children in, first of all, child laws, which are truly stupid.

"You say to somebody, you shouldn't go to work before you're what, 14, 16 years of age, fine. You're totally poor. You're in a school that is failing with a teacher that is failing.... Most of these schools ought to get rid of the unionized janitors, have one master janitor and pay local students to take care of the school. The kids would actually do work, they would have cash, they would have pride in the schools, they'd begin the process of rising."

... "You go out and talk to people, as I do, you go out and talk to people who are really successful in one generation.... They all learned how to make money at a very early age... What do we say to poor kids in poor neighborhoods? Don't do it. Remember all that stuff about don't get a hamburger flipping job? The worst possible advice you could give to poor children. Get any job that teaches you to show up on Monday. Get any job that teaches you to stay all day even if you are in a fight with your girlfriend. The whole process of making work worthwhile is central."

"During the discussion about the 'propaganda of homosexuality' bill in the St. Petersburg legislature, a city councilor proposed banning the rainbow symbol."

"Russian bloggers started joking that St. Petersburg would next ban the rainbow from nature. I laughed, too, and continued to think that these measures are, above all, ridiculous."
But on Thursday, the day after the St. Petersburg bill was passed and just as Moscow legislators were promising to pass one of their own, my 13-year-old son, who attends a private school with a liberal reputation in Moscow, came home and told me he had removed his new earring after a teacher told him that wearing earrings means you’re gay and is therefore inappropriate.

"Boys Swimming on Girls Teams Find Success, Then Draw Jeers."

Why are boys allowed to swim on girls teams? Because their schools don't have boys swim programs and they have a right under the Massachusetts constitution to equal access to athletics.
Boys swimming is held in the winter, when pool space is limited and expensive to rent, which is a deterrent for many schools. Athletic directors say the sport is not as popular among boys as it is girls, making it hard to field full squads. Some schools in the winter offer coed swimming, where boys and girls compete side-by-side in the dual meets and then separately in the postseason.

Over the years, there have been girls wrestling on boys teams or playing football or ice hockey. Boys have been on field hockey teams and girls have competed alongside boys in golf.

But in wrestling, boys and girls of the same weight compete against each other. And in field hockey and other team sports, a boy on a girls team achieves success through cooperation and collaboration with his teammates.
Equality is complicated.

November 18, 2011

"Aspects of Gingrich divorce story distorted."

WaPo divulges, after all these years.

"Unbuilt Washington."

The ziggurat that might have been the Lincoln Monument, the gigantic enlargement of the White House, the Kennedy Center that looks like Monona Terrace, the National Sofa... yes, the National Sofa:
In response to the closing of Pennsylvania Avenue — the first of many hysterical security measures since the Oklahoma City bombing and the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 — Allegro and Michel envisioned a wide, arching “sofa” in front of the White House, with a giant video screen giving visitors an insider’s peek into the executive mansion.

"GOP voters know exactly who they want... and it is... NOT MITT ROMNEY."

"Unfortunately, he does not have corporeal form..."

A glass elevator that accommodates your car, taking you up to your high-rise apartment.

It's Porsche Design Tower.
Residents will be able to see their cars from their living rooms.

“So people with fancy cars and antiques, they will actually have a really nice view of them"..

"Maybe we should just abolish drunk driving laws."

"Doing away with the specific charge of drunk driving sounds radical at first blush, but it would put the focus back on behavior, where it belongs. The punishable act should be violating road rules or causing an accident, not the factors that led to those offenses. Singling out alcohol impairment for extra punishment isn’t about making the roads safer. It’s about a lingering hostility toward demon rum."

A daring suggestion. Is alcohol different from distractions like cell phone use, adjusting the radio, eating, and interacting with passengers? Yes, it's not really a distraction. You probably pay more attention when you know your reaction time is impaired by alcohol. But your judgment is bad too. If there's not a specific rule against drinking and driving and people are expected to make nuanced decisions about what they can do, the drunk is making that decision with a drunken brain.

At the Negativity Café...



... it's not all bad.

Evolution of Apple Ads 1975-2002.

Fascinating. It's nice accompaniment for reading the Steve Jobs biography.
One of his pet peeves was Newton, the handheld personal digital assistant that boasted handwriting recognition capability. It was not quite as bad as the jokes and Doonesbury comic strip made it seem, but Jobs hated it. He disdained the idea of having a stylus or pen for writing on a screen. “God gave us ten styluses,” he would say, waving his fingers. “Let’s not invent another.” In addition, he viewed Newton as John Sculley’s one major innovation, his pet project. That alone doomed it in Jobs’s eyes.

“You ought to kill Newton,” he told Amelio one day by phone. It was a suggestion out of the blue, and Amelio pushed back. “What do you mean, kill it?” he said. “Steve, do you have any idea how expensive that would be?”

“Shut it down, write it off, get rid of it,” said Jobs. “It doesn’t matter what it costs. People will cheer you if you got rid of it.” 
Here's the classic Doonesbury cartoon with the memorable phrase — featured in Business Week and the NYT — "egg freckles."

Who's protesting military rule in Egypt?

"Although the demonstration was originally called by liberal activists..."
... most stayed away after it became clear that the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist political parties would dominate the day....

The spark for the Islamists’ protests was a recent set of declarations issued by the military-led government as ground rules for the drafting of a new Constitution. Many of its provisions sought to enshrine protections of individual liberties and minority rights that liberals have sought. But another provision granted the military a long-term political role as guardian of “constitutional legitimacy,” which many Islamists suspect is a reference to the secular character of the state and could give the military an excuse to intervene at will....

"Walker recall effort gets 50,000 signatures in first 48 hours, organizers say."

And since they only need to average 9,000 signatures a day to get to the 540,000 needed by the deadline, they're doing just great, right?

Obviously, not. The eager enthusiasts would have signed on early, and there was tremendous publicity leading up to the kickoff of the signature campaign, with midnight parties and intense press coverage. So 50,000 in the first 2 days looks like weak support to me. And I'm assuming the organizers are telling the truth about the number of signatures collected, and I'm ignoring the potential for invalid signatures and the increasing difficulty of collecting signatures on the darkest, coldest days of the year and when people are preoccupied with holiday travel and celebration.

Class politics in Zuccotti Park.

Aptly and hilariously exposed on "The Daily Show":


"In 1793, in an effort to sweep away the superstitious associations of the old method of timekeeping (you know how revolutionaries are)..."

"... the French National Convention established a new calendar with 12 months of 30 days each, followed by five (six in leap years) 'complementary days,' which belonged to no month."
Each month was divided into three 10-day "decades," and each day into two sections of 10 hours each. The hour was further divided into 100 "decimal minutes," which were in turn divided into 100 "decimal seconds."

The year began on the autumnal equinox, which happened to be the anniversary of the foundation of the Republic. Each month was given a descriptive name, e.g., Thermidor, July 19-August 17, "month of heat." Each day was also given its own name, some of which were less inspired than others, e.g., Eggplant, Manure, Shovel, Gypsum, Billy Goat, Spinach, and Tunny Fish. Even the French couldn't seriously have felt these represented a significant advance over old faves like Maundy Thursday. Also, on a more practical front, who wants to work a ten-day week?

Nontheless the French public made a valiant effort to implement the new system, going so far as to manufacture watches with concentric 10- and 12-hour dials. But ultimately the task proved to be beyond them. In 1806, after 13 baffling years of missed dentist appointments and overdue library books, they abandoned the revolutionary calendar. This was the only known defeat of Progress in the modern era prior to the establishment of the Illinois General Assembly. Gives you pause, when you think about it.

When trangendered offspring of celebrities...

... attack transgendered offspring of celebrities.

"I think there is a gay and secular fascism in this country that wants to impose its will on the rest of us..."

"... is prepared to use violence, to use harassment. I think it is prepared to use the government if it can get control of it. I think that it is a very dangerous threat to anybody who believes in traditional religion. And I think if you believe in historic Christianity, you have to confront the fact. And, frank -- for that matter, if you believe in the historic version of Islam or the historic version of Judaism, you have to confront the reality that these secular extremists are determined to impose on you acceptance of a series of values that are antithetical, they're the opposite, of what you're taught in Sunday school."

Said Newt Gingrich, from the New Republic's "Long List of Terrible Things That Newt Gingrich Has Done and Said."

"Conspiracies are the sinister doppelgängers of our attempts to understand the world around us in rational terms."

"And, of course, we love them. With its promise of initiation into occult mysteries, and its revelation of order where others only see chaos, the conspiratorial frame of mind brings distinct psychological pleasures."

Writes David A. Bell, reviewing Umberto Eco's "The Prague Cemetery."

"The shift of the Astros into the AL West, a division that includes their state-rival Texas Rangers..."

"... will give each league 15 teams. All six divisions will then be inhabited by five teams."
Houston had long been an NL market. The Astros expanded into the NL as the Houston Colt .45s, along with the Mets, in 1962 and are about to celebrate their 50th anniversary.

MLB will realign for the first time since the Brewers moved from the AL to the NL in 1998, ushering in the era of Interleague Play with those games primarily fit into the schedule during May and June. The new 15-15 format will necessitate playing an Interleague game virtually every day...
"I came to 15-15 a little slower than many of my colleagues," [Commissioner Bud] Selig said. "I worry about that. I love Interleague Play... The fans enjoy it, which is all I really care about...."

"I am told that Bill [Rehnquist] sometimes used rather strong language..."

"... to voice his disapproval of unfavorable rulings by the referee in his son’s games. With regard to his colleagues, he used somewhat milder language, though it was still emphatic. He often described the harsh consequences of his strict enforcement of a rule that seemed inequitable to some of us as 'tough tacos.' Bill had a good sense of humor, but unlike some of his colleagues, he seldom displayed it at oral arguments."

Writes retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens in his new book "Five Chiefs: A Supreme Court Memoir," which I've been reading.

"I’m a Mormon" — the Mormon PR blitz.

After determining that Americans tend to use terms like “secretive,” “cultish,” “sexist,” “controlling,” “pushy,” “anti-gay” to describe Mormons, 2 big ad agencies are hired.
[T]he church’s campaign could prove to be a pivotal factor in the race for the presidency. The Mormon image problem is a problem not only for the church, but also for Mr. Romney. For all their success professionally and financially, Mormons still face a level of religious bigotry in the United States equal only to that faced by Muslims.
Let's be fair. There's a much lower-polling religious category, one held in such abysmal esteem by the general populace that no mainstream presidential candidate admits he or she belongs to it, though I'm sure — they're so secretive! — many do.

ADDED: Here's a Gallup poll demonstrating my point.

"Thirteen Notable Traditions Found On UNESCO's List Of Intangible Cultural Heritage, In Order."

"7. The hopping procession of Echternach.../4. Kırkpınar oil wrestling festival/3. The scissors dance/2. Whistled language of the island of La Gomera..."

Via Adam at ALOTT5MA, who says "in truth the whole list is pretty neat" and:
The United States doesn't participate in the process of adding "intangible heritage practices and expressions" to the list, but it's not hard to think about what we might suggest — the blues and square dancing, perhaps?
Oh, let's not re-embed ourselves in American things so quickly. Check out that whole list and click through to some videos. I'm experiencing temporary immersion in the Pansori Epic Chant... just a happy consequence of a random click.

LIFE's sexiest photographs.

A nice collection. My favorite as a photograph is Jayne Mansfield. The sexiest, in my personal opinion, is "Clint Eastwood... bare-chested and bandaged after a brutal beating...."

And for those of you who were sad that I laughed at Raquel Welch yesterday — in her uncomfortable dancing singer guise — she's looking much more at ease here in a roller derby outfit — possibly because it's a still photograph.

Speaking of photography, here's a question I thought of yesterday and realized I couldn't answer: Who was the first U.S. President to be photographed? It's easy to think of photos of Abraham Lincoln, but was there anyone before him? It turns out to be crucial how you ask the question. You'll get a different answer if you look at the list of Presidents in the order that they served and find which is the first of them to have been photographed than if you look for the oldest date on a photograph of a U.S. President.

Do you even have a rough idea of when the earliest photographs were taken? Clue: it was not during the Civil War. Do you know the date of the earliest photographic portrait of a human being? You can see this person at 0:55 in this video, which collects many photographic firsts. The man looks like someone you would find — I would find — attractive if he walked down the street today. And at 1:12, you'll see the earliest-born person that we have a photograph of. Try to guess the year she was born before you look.



ADDED: By coincidence, it's Louis Daguerre's birthday, and Google has a doodle for him today:

"[T]he Occupy protesters must realize that Washington politicians have been 'Occupying Wall Street' long before anyone pitched a tent in Zuccotti Park."

Writes Sarah Palin in the Wall Street Journal, connecting Occupy Wall Street to the Tea Party, which has always, she says, opposed crony capitalism.

She proposes "sudden" and "relentless" reform:

Cain "was showing us a candidate for the presidency of the United States desperately trying to retrieve a soundbite..."

"... and not even trying to hide the fact that he was trying to retrieve a soundbite. Because we're kind of all in on the game, and it is a game, right?"

Writes Peggy Noonan:
The reporter asked him if he agreed, in retrospect, with President Obama's decisions on Libya. Mr. Cain said, "OK, Libya." Ten seconds of now famous silence ensued. Then: "I do not agree with the way he handled it for the following reasons." Another pause, and then: "Um, no, that's a different one."

He was saying: That's a different soundbite.

Later, with an almost beautiful defiance, Mr. Cain told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "I'm not supposed to know anything about foreign policy." That's what staffers are for. "I want to talk to commanders on the ground. Because you run for president [people say] you need to have the answer. No you don't! No you don't!"
But you do, Noonan says. For a GOP candidate to display comfort and even pride in how little he knows plays into the hands of Democrats, who love to argue that Republicans are "not really for anything, they just hate government." Why else would you "blithely dismiss the baseline requirements of a public office, as Mr. Cain does"?
The charge that Republicans just hate government carries other implications—that they're stupid, that they're haters by nature, that they're cynical and merely strategic, that they enjoy having phantom foes around whom to coalesce, like cavemen warming themselves around a fire.
Cavemen? Where did that come from? That seems unfair to cavemen (who were, I assume, very connected to reality and focused on doing what works). Anyway, you see the point. Republicans may favor limited government, but that requires competence too and they're going to lose the election if they don't realize that before it's too late.

November 17, 2011

"Occupy Wall Street protesters are charging through the streets of Lower Manhattan and streaming into Foley Square by the hundreds..."

"... to hold a rally with union leaders. Some of our reporters on the street estimate the crowd has swelled to well over 1,000. Protesters are expected to convene on city bridges around 6p.m."

Well over 1,000, eh? The Wisconsin protests at their height topped 100,000. And these folks are in New York City. Madison, Wisconsin has less than 3% of the population of NYC, yet we had 100 times as many protesters. And OWS has 1,000 times the press coverage. How do you figure that? I guess it's like the reason why I covered the Wisconsin protests: They were right down the street.

Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez.



Charged with attempting to assassinate the President of the United States.

California Supreme Court decides that Prop 8 sponsors have standing to defend it.

The Court was responding to a state law question referred to it by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is considering whether the ban on same-sex marriage violates the federal Constitution.
The Supreme Court was emphatic that it would "undermine" the California ballot initiative process if the governor and attorney general can trump the voters by declining to defend such laws in the courts.

"The inability of the official proponents of an initiative measure to appeal a trial court judgment invalidating the measure, when the public officials who ordinarily would file such an appeal decline to do so, would significantly undermine the initiative power," Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye wrote for the [unanimous] court....

"This frees up the 9th Circuit to go ahead and decide the constitutional issues on the merits," said Theodore Olson, former U.S. Solicitor General during the Bush administration. "We're anxious to get to a decision on the merits that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional."
ADDED: Here's the California Supreme Court opinion (PDF). The California Supreme Court observes that the 9th Circuit saw the federal issue of standing as hinging on a state law question: whether "the official proponents of an initiative have authority under California law to assert the state‘s interest in the initiative measure‘s validity." The California Supreme Court's opinion stresses the nature of the initiative power, which was adopted "as one means of restoring the people‘s rightful control over their government":

"It's just a bad idea for scientists to turn a lethal virus into a lethal and highly contagious virus."

"And it's a second bad idea for them to publish how they did it so others can copy it."

"69% Say Federal Government Lacks Authority To Force Purchase of Health Insurance."

A Rasmussen poll of 1,000 likely voters.

As I've said:

... I think the decision in the case is likely to track the will of the people, as perceived by the Court. So, it's important to advocates to create the appearance of public acceptance or public outrage over the law...

... I'm guessing the Supreme Court will strike down the individual mandate. The existing doctrine doesn't require that outcome, but I'm reading the political forces at play and assessing the Court's vulnerability to those forces, and that's my interpretation.
The Rasmussen poll reinforces my prediction.

Raquel Welch singing "Bang Bang" in 1967.

Hilarious. Painful to watch, but worth it. The singing gives real depth to the lyric "that awful sound."

The dancing... well, if you can't hang around for the mercifully singing-free James-Bond inspired segment that begins at 2:43, at least check out the action at 1:28. I think it's where Prince got the idea for his Super Bowl performance.

Now, to get that out of your head, here's the Nancy Sinatra rendition. Unlike Raquel, she does not go all boots-were-made-for-walking. She's wearing boots, but she never gets up off her ass. In fact, when the song ends, she rolls off the stage.

For simultaneous singing and walking in boots, here's the 80s Cher version.

"How children’s ‘play’ is being sneakily redefined."

Redefined? What is the right definition? It seems to me that the definition — for education policy discussion purposes — should embody our reasons for thinking that play is something we should care about children getting the chance to do.

"Pennsylvania cops say they have no records that support Mike McQueary’s claim that he called police..."

If McQueary's credibility is bad, that undercuts his value of his eyewitness testimony:
McQueary’s testimony is a key in the grand jury’s investigation and the prosecution’s case against Sandusky, and any discrepancies in his testimony and public statements are sure to be used against him by defense lawyers at trial. The New York Times reported Wednesday night on its website that a critical break in the case came in 2010 when investigators spotted a brief mention on an Internet forum about Penn State athletics that a coach, McQueary, might have some information about the long-standing rumors of sex abuse by Sandusky. Investigators set up a meeting and McQueary told his story - a graphic account of the rape he had witnessed. ...

According to New York defense attorney Tom Harvey, who is following the case for The News, McQueary’s email claims are a “defense attorney’s dream.”

“Assuming the email is not a hoax, he’s making statements that are inconsistent with prior statements,” Harvey said.

Which party will take the Senate in 2012?

Control of the Senate is crucial, perhaps more important than the Presidency. The NYT has assembled the information about the different races very clearly on this page, though I suspect the estimates are skewed in favor of the Democrats. There are 30 Democratic seats and 37  Republican seats that are not up for reelection, so there's no skewing there. But the NYT counts 11 Democratic seats and only 7 Republican seats as "solid," which puts the teams at 41 and 44, and then it has 5 seats as "leaning" Democratic and only 2 "leaning" Republican, which — lo and behold — puts them even at 46-46. Hmm.

Massachusetts legislature passes a transgender civil rights bill.

But "it was not a total victory for advocates."
The bill does not include language to protect transgender people in public accommodations, which advocates had sought. They will continue to fight to expand transgender protections to include public accommodations, such as hotels, restaurants, and clubs, she said. Opponents had decried those proposals as “the bathroom bill,’’ arguing that they would enable biological men to demand access to women’s restrooms and locker rooms.

Bill Maher goes on "The View," begins with a suck-up to women, and gets feminist chill from Elisabeth Hasselbeck.

HuffPo just calls this "incredibly awkward." But it's a fascinating deployment and deflection of feminism:



Maher waltzes onto "The View" and delivers a prepared line that is obviously structured to reach out to the female daytime-TV audience. Joy Behar prompts him to talk about Sandusky, and Maher begins:
You'd like this...
(Because you're a woman.)
... Any institution where there's no women around — like The Church, like football, like the Middle East, like fraternities — it just goes to hell. You do need women as a moderating influence.
You? There's a feminist faux pas right in the middle of his effort at feminism. The audience is female, and he's saying "you" to them, but they are not the "you." Worse than that, seemingly without realizing it, he's dishing out old-fashioned male chauvinism: Women exist to moderate men. Men are the primary force in the world, but too much of that roiling, spewing masculine energy, and there's trouble. Come in, ladies, ground us, soothe us, care for us, tone us down, so our intensity doesn't boil over into destruction.

But Maher assumed — "You'd like this" — that female TV audience would feel flattered and not notice the message of subordination. And he assumed they'd enjoy hearing an insult to men. Quite aside from whether women appreciate negative stereotypes about men, underneath the insult was great pride in male achievements. Some men go too far, but maleness is central, even as femaleness is needed for moderation.

Nevertheless, Maher intended to appeal to women, to embed himself in the context of feminist values. He failed, even before Hasselbeck lit into him, but he did not realize that. He was perched in the center of the curved turquoise sofa, pleased at having presented himself as an admirer of women.

Hasselbeck begins: "That sounded very supportive of women." That is, she could see what he was doing, trying to seem feminist, though she doesn't say that it really was supportive: it sounded supportive.
"And I just want to go back to a time that bothered me... not for my own personal reasons... Forgive this idiotic Republican for bringing this to your brilliant mind..."
Talk about a moderating influence! She's stirring things up.
"In February of last year, Laura Logan was in Egypt and she was brutally attack by a mob there. She came back and said: 'There were hands raping me over and over again, tearing my body in every direction, trying to tear off chunks of my skull. I was in no doubt in the process of dying.'

"Now, prior to her coming back, Bill, you on your show said: 'Now that Hosni Mubarak has released Lara Logan, he must put her intrepid hotness on a plane immediately. In exchange, we will send Elisabeth Hasselbeck.'"
Hasselbeck sums up: "That wasn't that funny."

I'm virtually positive that Maher wasn't ambushed here. I think it was planned that Hasselbeck would read that indignant bit — it's all on paper, with 2 verbatim quotes — and sum up with an attack on the comedian's funniness. She did not cut more deeply. She could have said: You made a joke out of rape and you specifically thought it was funny to say that I should be raped. Is rape funny when it happens to a woman whose ideas you object to? You stood there on TV and named me as a person you'd want to hand over to a mob to be raped to death? That's your show, Bill?!

But she had it on paper, and it had her ending with a simple that's not funny. There's a female stereotype for you! It's the punchline to the old how many feminists does it take to screw in a lightbulb? joke. The "ambush" was gentle, and Maher was prepared:
"We do a comedy show for an audience that's perhaps different than your audience. You are a public figure. It was not aimed at you personally, but when you are a public figure, you are out there and you're fodder for comedians to make comments on."
Asked "Do you draw the line ever?" he responds, elegantly, "I do draw the line, but I also live on the line." He's a male, bursting with creativity and cutting recklessly, unmoderated by females, late at night, on HBO. "You have to be out on the edge to know where that edge is."

Hasselbeck scoffs, "Thanks for being the hero." That is: You're bragging about yourself. She's playing that moderating role assigned to women, dragging him down to earth. She demands an apology. The others on the sofa frame her complaint as a personal affront, because she was named, not a more general attack on Maher for making a joke out throwing a woman to a brutal mob to be raped to death.

If you had it to do over again, would you used that joke, Hasselbeck asks, "if you're so supportive of women"?, and Maher deflects her glibly, but still without acknowledging the gravity of wishing rape on his political opponent. He says: "If I had a crystal ball and knew I was coming here and had to spend my whole segment talking about it, no, I wouldn't. It really wouldn't be worth it."

That is, he still likes his joke, but it's such a pain having to fritter away his book-pimping spot dealing with her that it's not worth it. He brushes her off: "Worse things have happened to people." Worse than hands raping me over and over again, tearing my body in every direction, trying to tear off chunks of my skull? Yeah, it is true. Worse things have happened to people. Thanks for the info, Bill. And here you are,  talking to the women daytime TV has been explaining feminist issues to for decades!

Barbara Walters butts in to talk about herself. "I went through years of Baba Wawa. I survived." What a survivor! The message from Walters — who promotes feminism on most occasions, I think — is that Hasselbeck shouldn't take herself so seriously. She needs to learn to take a joke. Gilda Radner's delightfully charming imitation of Walters's speech defect is pretty much the same as Maher snarking about throwing Hasselbeck into a gang rape. Yeah. It's all comedy!

Hasselbeck claims some dignity in the end. She clarifies that it's not about her personal feelings, that she's "speaking on behalf of women," and that accountability is important. It's what she teaches her kids. Yeah, she's a mom. She's nice. She's folded back into the group, properly in place as one of the women on the turquoise sofa, arrayed sweetly around the man... moderating him.

Obama's ozone decision "shows the clout of Cass R. Sunstein..."

"... the legal powerhouse who serves, mostly behind the scenes, as the president’s regulatory czar with the mission of keeping the costs of regulation under control."

John M. Broder in the NYT:
Mr. Sunstein had his pick of jobs in the new administration. He chose the obscure regulatory affairs office as a potential laboratory for his sometimes iconoclastic views. He has challenged the utility of command-and-control-style federal regulation and has written favorably of programs to “name and shame” polluters as a way of getting them to clean up their operations without enforcement actions or fines. He has sought creative ways to encourage responsible economic and environmental behavior without using the heavy hand of the state.
Mr. Sunstein never really warmed to the proposed ozone rule, not least because it would, by law, be subject to revision again in 2013. He also noted that in nearly half of the E.P.A.’s own case studies, the cost of the new rule would outweigh the benefits, raising additional alarms....

“There was always a notion that they were looking for a regulation to use as an example of the reform initiative, a poster child, and this was potentially it,” said a senior E.P.A. official who asked not to be identified on a matter involving discussions with the White House. “We knew one was coming. We just didn’t know which one.”

"The whole Homeland Security thing has been a bureaucratic crock."

"It’s turned out exactly as I predicted."

November 16, 2011

St. Petersburg, Russia, may fine those who are openly gay.

The Moscow Times reports:

Medical board reprimands the doctors who wrote sick notes for Wisconsin protesters.

"The Medical Examining Board reached stipulations with seven doctors Wednesday that saw them formally reprimanded and required them to pay $225 to $350 each for costs and take four hours of continuing education courses within 90 days on medical record keeping."

Here's my video encountering the doctors last February:



ADDED: I wonder if you can get a note if you need to stay out of work because your wrist got slapped.

"I call it flyspecking every word, every phrase, and now they are flyspecking my pauses..."

"... but I guess since they can't legitimately attack my ideas, they will attack words and pauses. I'm kind of flattered that my pauses are so important, that somebody wants to make a story out of it."

So says Herman Cain.

Why so many deaths in triathlons... nearly all in the swimming phase?

Panic attacks. Officially, drowning, but the root cause may be panic:
“My world is anatomic,” said Steven Shapiro, Vermont’s chief medical examiner, whose office investigated the deaths of two men this year. “I can’t point to the body and say: ‘There’s the panic attack, there’s the arrhythmia.’ Once you’re in my office, there’s no panic and the rhythm is asystole,” he said, using the medical term for cardiac standstill.
Nevertheless, circumstantial evidence strongly points to panic, with the biggest piece of evidence the most obvious. Something is happening in the swim that isn’t happening on the bike or run.

“I was taken by surprise the very first time I did a triathlon,” said James A. Millward, a 50-year-old history professor at Georgetown University. “I swam about 50 yards, I couldn’t get into a breathing rhythm, I felt more and more anxious, and I thought, ‘Wow, I’m having a panic attack.’ ”

Millward has done the Nation’s Triathlon four times and has had the sensation each time after jumping into the Potomac River with scores of other racers. The overwhelming urge is to get his head out of the water. 
It's easy to see why the human body may have evolved this response.

"It's like Christmas Eve, and everybody is opening their presents."

Guess what that refers to.

C-SPAN chairman Brian Lamb asks Chief Justice John Roberts to televise the Obamacare oral arguments.

Though the Court releases audio recordings of oral recording, it has never gone on TV. Should Court accept cameras for this momentous case?
"We believe the public interest is best served by live television coverage of this particular oral argument," Lamb wrote. "It is a case which will affect every American's life, our economy, and will certainly be an issue in the upcoming presidential campaign."

Lamb added that "a five-and-a-half hour argument begs for camera coverage." He said that "interested citizens would be understandably challeged to adequately follow audio-only coverage of an event of this length with all the justices and various counsel participating."

Justice Antonin Scalia criticized the idea of televised Supreme Court proceedings during a recent appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee. "For every ten people who sat through our proceedings, gavel to gavel, there would be ten thousand who would see nothing but a 30 second takeout from one of the proceedings" he said, "which I guarantee you would not be representative of what we do." Scalia added that such soundbites would leave viewers with "a misimpression" of Supreme Court operations.
We already have the soundbites! And audio clips are played on radio and TV all the time. And we have text transcripts, from which we select quotes. So what is Scalia talking about? Perhaps it's that more people will pay attention if there is video, but how dare he hold his position of power and argue that his work should be monitored by fewer people? I think the real reason is that the Justices don't want us to see how they look as the sit for hours listening to arguments. They'd look grumpy and drowsy and puffy and wrinkly. They'd have to wear makeup. But even with makeup, they'd be far less camera-ready than the talking heads we're used to seeing on camera.

I've blogged a few times about the Supreme Court going on TV:

In "Where is the 9,000-foot cow?"/"What do you think about Satan?"/"What did James Madison think about video games?," I disagreed with Justice Ginsburg who noted some weird questions that Justices have asked at oral arguments and used them as a reason to exclude TV. Yeah, we'd be able to make hilarious YouTube videos splicing together things that sound ridiculous ripped out of context. But it's important in America to make fun of people who wield power. If you can't take it, you don't deserve the power. Judges may like us to think that they merely humbly channel the power that inheres in the law, so there's no point in looking at them as if they have a will of their own. We'll be the judge of that.

In "If everybody could see this, it would make people feel so good about this branch of government and how it’s operating," I quote Justice Elena Kagan, who is quoted by Kenneth Starr in a NYT op-ed arguing for Supreme Court TV. I said I thought that despite the complaints about how people would use video in a superficial way that "we would become involved in the substance of the law and attempt to work through the actual legal problems at a higher level than we do now."

In "Why Congress should impose TV cameras on the Supreme Court," I said I thought TV cameras would put healthy pressure on the Justices who cling to their positions — which they hold for life under the Constitution — as they advance into old age.

So, I've been in favor of Supreme Court TV for a long time. Is it a good idea for the first televised argument to be the most momentous one? I'd say no, which is why I would recommend that the Court bring the cameras in now and make video the norm, before the big 5-and-a-half-hour Obamacare extravaganza.

(Link to the C-SPAN request via Instapundit.)

Put Mitt In Our Mitts... Put Mitt In Our Midst...

I'm working on a slogan for Mitt Romney.

"[I]mpish self-styled radical, unicyclist and competitive ballroom dancer... member of the nascent liberation technology movement..."

Ilya Zhitomirskiy, co-founder of the social network Diaspora*... dead at age 22... "indications of suicide."

Diaspora* was ""the anti-Facebook":
Instead of creating a central database like Facebook’s, where information about hundreds of millions of members is stored and mined for advertising and marketing purposes, their idea was to develop freely shared software that would allow every member of the network to “own” his or her personal information....

He and his partners were inspired to start their project after attending a lecture in February 2010 by Eben Moglen, a Columbia Law School professor and an advocate of liberation technology, about the threat to privacy and social justice in Internet commerce.
The open platform model would not, Zhitomirskiy said, make him rich, but: "There’s something deeper than making money off stuff... Being part of creating stuff for the universe is awesome."

I'm in the NYT, suggesting that Rick Perry is... maybe... dumb.

Here.

IN THE COMMENTS: Meade says:
...and when my campaign and what's left of my manhood gets to Wisconsin, there'll be one smart-mouthed little lady law perfessor who'd better be GONE!

Uh... uh... Ann something.

Streep as Thatcher.

The new trailer:

November 15, 2011

Imagine going to a "pajama party" on a Monday night to sign "Recall Walker" petitions.

It happened.

Meanwhile, Scott Walker ran his first anti-recall ad during last night's Packers game:



Packers crushed the Vikings, for what it's worth.

Perry, the radical: "I’m a true believer that we need to uproot..."

"... tear down and rebuild Washington, D.C., and our federal institutions."

Of particular interest to law folk:
“Too many federal judges rule with impunity from the bench, and those who legislate from the bench should not be entitled to lifetime abuse of their judicial authority.” He proposed 18-year terms, staggered every two years, for new Supreme Court justices, and suggested similar limits on federal appellate and district court judges...
 It would take a constitutional amendment, of course.

"Getting kicked out of Zuccotti Park... was the best possible endgame" for Occupy Wall Street.

Says Matt Yglesias. This fits with what I was saying the other day about the problem with the "Occupy" protest format: There's no exit strategy.



But police breaking it up imposes an end. That solves the no-exit-strategy problem.

Does asking for 5 1/2 hours of oral argument mean that the Supreme Court thinks the Obamacare case is difficult?

That's the Wall Street Journal's preferred interpretation.
The "constitutionality" of the Obama health care law, Harvard Law School's Laurence Tribe wrote in the New York Times earlier this year, "is open and shut," adding that the challenge against it is "a political objection in legal garb."

In announcing yesterday that it will consider the law's constitutionality, the Supreme Court said it would give an historic five-and-a-half hours to oral arguments. Perhaps by his Cambridge standard, Mr. Tribe thinks the nine Justices are a little slow. We prefer to think this shows the Court recognizes the seriousness of the constitutional issues involved. It makes those who cavalierly dismissed the very idea of a challenge two years ago look, well, constitutionally challenged.
The argument for upholding the law rests on a facile application of an existing line of precedent: Look quickly and see that this case is another one of those cases and stamp the law constitutional. Characterizing the case as easy is thus part of arguing for upholding the law. That's what Tribe and others have been doing. Many of the lower court cases have, unsurprisingly, taken that route.

The Supreme Court, which controls the precedents, has to choose between that easy course and drawing a line. If it draws that line and takes down the individual mandate — and perhaps the entire health care reform — it will need to inspire our belief in the truly judicial nature of its exertion of power. To set 5 1/2 hours of oral argument is to command a dramatic performance in the Theater of Law. That will help us see the result as the product of genuine legal process.

Now, our belief in the truly judicial nature of its exertion of power is important whether the Court strikes down the law or not. All that has happened so far is that the Court has rejected the presentation of the case as easy. That doesn't mean the Justices are not perceiving the case as easy. It only means they don't want you to see it that way.

Why did Jerry Sandusky do that interview with Bob Costas?



It starts off very badly. I hear a man who is not committed to confident lying or confident truth-telling. He sounds like he's accessing his memories and filtering what we receive.
"Well, I could say that, you know, I have done some of those things. I have horsed around with kids, I... I have showered after workouts. I... I have hugged them and I have touched their leg... without intent of sexual contact, but, um... uh... so if you look at it that way... uh... there are things that... uh... wouldn't... uh... would be accurate."
After hearing that, I wondered why exposed himself to an interview, why his lawyer let him do that. But as the interview continues, including contributions from the lawyer, I think he does in fact get himself into a better position that where he was before we heard that... assuming we listen to the entire 8+ minutes. He ends:
I don’t know what I can say or what I could say that would make anybody feel any different now. I would just say that if somehow people could hang on until my attorney has a chance to fight, you know, for my innocence, that’s about all I could ask right now. You know, obviously it’s a huge challenge.

"New York City is the city where you can come and express yourself. What was happening in Zuccotti Park was not that."

Said Mayor Bloomberg, defending his decision to oust the Occupy Wall Street protesters from Zuccotti park.
Mr. Bloomberg said the city had planned to reopen the park on Tuesday morning after the protesters’ tents and tarps had been removed and the stone steps had been cleaned. He said the police had already let about 50 protesters back in when officials received word of a temporary restraining order sought by lawyers for the protesters. He said the police had closed the park again until lawyers for the city could appear at a court hearing later in the morning.
It's a legal matter, baby, a legal matter from now on.

Bloomberg's point is that the occupiers prevent other people from using the park. They're hogging the whole park. I sympathize with that position, having seen how the Wisconsin protesters last winter occupied the Capitol rotunda in a way that kept other people out. Now, the rotunda is a prime attraction in Wisconsin. Visitors to Madison continually wander into the space and, on normal days, gaze up into the dome. Children typically lie on the marble floor for the purpose of staring contemplatively upward.

Zuccotti Park, on the other hand — who'd even heard of it before? In fact, it's the Occupy Wall Street protesters who've made it famous, and if it's a tourist attraction, it's because of the OWS branding. And yet New York City parks are not mostly about attracting tourists. The people who live and work near a park are the ones with the most interest in access.

And now that the protesters have lawyered up and gone to court in an attempt to nail down legal rights to occupy the space, it changes the character of the interaction with the mayor, and it's quite understandable that he would take a hardcore stance in response.

ADDED: The description of the battle against the police is tucked further down in the linked NYT article. Snippets:
The protesters rallied around an area known as the kitchen, near the middle of the park, and began putting up makeshift barricades with tables and pieces of scrap wood....

[As the police entered the park], dozens of protesters linked arms and shouted “No retreat, no surrender,” “This is our home” and “Barricade!”
It's turning into "Les Miserables"... Now we pledge ourselves to hold this barricade/Let them come in their legions/And they will be met/Have faith in yourselves/And don't be afraid/Let's give 'em a screwing/That they'll never forget!

ADDED: A reader emails:
I just finished playing a high school production of Les Miserables... and I was informed that the director of the musical (an alumnus of the high school) had specifically used Zuccotti Park and the OWS movement as a rallying point for the show. He was basically telling the kids that the OWS struggle, and the struggle leading up to the June Uprising, were one and the same.

November 14, 2011

At the Old Rose Café...



... there's still some time left.

"I got all this stuff twirling around in my head," says Herman Cain, trying to talk about Libya.

It's an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporters:


And here he is struggling with questions about public employee unions:

"Everybody needs people to care for them. Sometimes they don't want it."

"Sometimes they don't understand what you're trying to do, but they want to be disciplined. Kids are growing up awfully fast today."

Old Jerry Sandusky interviews.

"A group of self-identified conservatives say they plan to sabotage the effort to recall Wisconsin GOP Gov. Scott Walker..."

"... which begins on Tuesday, by burning and shredding recall petitions they've collected and misleading Wisconsinites about the recall process."

Mother Jones notes some Facebook postings about plans to do something that is, in fact, a Class 1 felony in Wisconsin.

Ronald Reagan "made sure I was aware of the length of time he had been 'ardent.' It was 40 minutes."

Writes Piper Laurie, who is now 79 but was 18 when the 39-year-old Reagan relieved her of her virginity. Reagan's not around to dispute the long untold tale, but Laurie says she complained that she was nevertheless unsatisfied, and Reagan told her she should see a doctor about that.

Whatever. I can't find a clip of her in that movie with Reagan — "Louisa." (She was great in "Carrie.") Reagan played her father in "Louisa," but that doesn't make it incest, you know. And he asked her mother permission to take her out on a date, he made her hamburgers, and — as noted — he was ardent for 40 minutes.

"Vast, unidentified, structures have been spotted by satellites in the barren Gobi desert..."

"... raising questions about what China might be building in a region it uses for its military, space and nuclear programmes."
In two images, available on Google Earth, reflective rectangles up to a mile long can be seen, a tangle of bright white intersecting lines that are clearly visible from space.

Other pictures show enormous concentric circles radiating on the ground, with three jets parked at their centre.

"Judge Who Set Unsecured Bail For Jerry Sandusky Is A Second Mile Volunteer."

"District Judge Leslie Dutchcot... ordered that Sandusky be freed on $100,000 unsecured bail." The prosecutors wanted $500,000 and a leg monitor.

So... is Jerry Sandusky not a flight risk? Maybe not. If you look at the grand jury report, page 20, you'll see that when Sandusky was confronted with the allegations about "Victim 6," he said: "I understand. I was wrong. I wish I could get forgiveness. I know I won't get it from you. I wish I were dead." That suggests his orientation leans toward escape by suicide. I'm no expert on the standards relating to bail requests, but don't you think that someone who'd consider suicide as the solution lacks the energy and determination to flee or at least is unlikely to flee successfully? I don't know. Presumably, he has plenty of money, and he knows he's likely to lose it all in the various lawsuits that will be filed. What's $100,000 to him?

Supreme Court takes the Obamacare case.

Oral argument should be in March, with a decision by the end of the term, in time to have a massive impact on the presidential campaign. As I've discussed here, a decision to uphold the law will most likely hurt Obama's campaign for reelection.
If the Supreme Court upholds the individual mandate, Republicans will say: Now it's crucial to win the presidency and strong majorities in both houses of Congress so we can repeal this thing. If the individual mandate is unconstitutional, is there nothing Democrats can do? Well, the existing form of legislation is out, but there are other ways to extend health care that would not meet the same constitutional problem. But would Democrats want to argue that they need to win the presidency and strong majorities in both houses of Congress so they can push through some new health care reform? I doubt it. What a nightmare it was the first time, devastating the path of the Obama presidency and giving rise to the Tea Party!
From the first link, which is to Adam Liptak in the NYT:
The Supreme Court agreed to hear appeals from just one decision, from the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, in Atlanta, the only one so far striking down the mandate. The decision, from a divided three-judge panel, said the mandate overstepped Congressional authority and could not be justified by the constitutional power “to regulate commerce” or “to lay and collect taxes.”

The appeals court went no further, though, severing the mandate from the rest of the law.

On Monday, the justices agreed to decide not only whether the mandate is constitutional but also, if it is not, how much of the balance of the law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, must fall along with it.
If the Court takes down the entire Act, it would do Obama a great favor, which is why I'm predicting the Court will do just that. That was my prediction a few weeks ago, reading, not the the existing doctrine, but "the political forces at play and assessing the Court's vulnerability to those forces."

"We just became very passionate about turning waste into food in our local communities."

Alejandro Velez and Nikhil Arora collect used coffee grounds from coffee shops for the manufacture of mushroom-growing kits.

Gingrich picking up the percentage points that Cain and Perry are shedding.

He's up 5, with Cain and Perry losing 1 and 4 respectively.

UPDATE: In another poll released today, from CNN/ORC International Poll, Newt vies with Romney for first place: "24% of Republicans and independents who lean towards the GOP say Romney is their most likely choice for their party's presidential nominee with Gingrich at 22%. Romney's two-point advantage is well within the survey's sampling error." Significantly, Romney's level of support is stable, while Gingrich is up 14 points since October.

How much evidence do you need? Analyzing the Herman Cain accusations.



Next, Glenn introduces the subject of race: What's with conservatives loving a black man? And what's with liberals' eagerness to destroy him? (The splice in the middle of this segment isn't censorship. Our phone connection failed, and we had to restart.)

Connecting Occupy Wall Street to the Penn State scandal.

Here's a new Bloggingheads video I did with Glenn Loury, who's an economics professor at Brown. We talk about Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Occupy Wall Street, and Penn State. A big topic is shame — they call this the "Special Shame Edition" — and I want to highlight something Glenn says about Occupy Wall Street and a way that I connect his insight to the Penn State story.

In the first clip, Glenn is saying that the OWS protesters have made him feel uneasy as a member of the economics profession — the "alchemists" who whipped up all these complex financial devices.



The economists benefit amongst themselves, lauding each other for their great works, and the protesters hold up a different mirror, in which the economist can see shame.

Later in the diavlog, we're talking about the Penn State scandal, and I'm puzzling over how so many men — honorable men — could operate together to suppress their own awareness of the evil they harbored within, and I perceive a similarity in they way they closed ranks and functioned as a self-regarding, self-promoting group:



***

Here's the movie Glenn mentions in the first clip: "Inside Job."

November 13, 2011

"I’m thinking he would have to have a split personality to do the things that were said."

Gloria Cain.

"Humanity, I've got a lot of problems with your work as a species..."

"... but I gotta hand it to you, sometimes you do something pretty cool."

Did I ever say there was an owl in the second tree?

Read closely. I did not. Never assume! The confusing matter roiled the mind of Chip Ahoy, leading to this:

Gov. Corbett suggests that Second Mile groomed children for Jerry Sandusky.

Chris Wallace, on Fox News Sunday, did an excellent job of drawing out Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett, who, bound by ethical restraints, was trying to be circumspect. Here's a key moment in the colloquy. Wallace has just asked Corbett about the Second Mile charity "that Jerry Sandusky helped form for disadvantaged kids that quite frankly gave him access to these young boys."
WALLACE: Should actions be taken against the charity or the CEO who allegedly was told about some of these abuses as far back 2002?

CORBETT: ... I'm going to be very careful here....  If you talk to people who have worked with Second Mile, it has done great work.... But in this case, as the allegations indicate, some of it was used to pick on some children and the term was used, grooming, groom those children for Mr. Sandusky's purposes.
Did Corbett just reveal that there were other individuals within Second Mile who functioned in grooming children for Sandusky?

Corbett also appeared on "Meet the Press" this morning, and I thought David Gregory was much less successful in breaking through Corbett's controlled facade. It was interesting to compare these 2 interviews. Gregory expressed outrage on behalf of the children. ("You have to understand people, those of us who are parents, including myself, I have a nine-year-old boy at home....") Wallace, by contrast, came off at first — to my ear — as a Paterno fanboy. ("But, Governor, let me point out -- these are just allegations. Joe Paterno, who had spent half a century at Penn State, did not have an opportunity to offer a full defense. Why not let him finish his season and retire as he offered to do?")

I don't know whether Gregory and Wallace were showing how they really felt or using a strategy to lure Corbett into making revelations, but the Wallace interview was more revealing.

ADDED: Wallace also interviewed Franco Harris, a football star who came out of Penn State, and he seemed very much in service of the pro-Paterno attitude that I thought I detected in Wallace. It got a little odd when Wallace grilled Harris about the distinction — a vitally important distinction — between criminal law and morality.

At the Shy Owl Café...

P1030948

... surely, you can find something to talk about.

P1030939

What emotion does your youth culture valorize and what social form does it envision?

William Deresiewicz takes inventory.
For the hippies, the emotion was love: love-ins, free love, the Summer of Love, all you need is love. The social form was utopia, understood in collective terms: the commune, the music festival, the liberation movement.

The beatniks aimed at ecstasy, embodied as a social form in individual transcendence. Theirs was a culture of jazz, with its spontaneity; of marijuana, arresting time and flooding the soul with pleasure (this was before the substance became the background drug of every youth culture); of flight, on the road, to the West; of the quest for the perfect moment.

The punks were all about rage, their social program nihilistic anarchy. “Get pissed,” Johnny Rotten sang. “Destroy.” Hip-hop, punk’s younger brother, was all about rage and nihilism, too, at least until it turned to a vision of individual aggrandizement.

As for the slackers of the late ’80s and early ’90s (Generation X, grunge music, the fiction of David Foster Wallace), their affect ran to apathy and angst, a sense of aimlessness and pointlessness. Whatever. That they had no social vision was precisely what their social vision was: a defensive withdrawal from all commitment as inherently phony.
And what of these kids today? Are we going to call them the "hipsters?" Deresiewicz prefers "millennials." He diagnoses the emotion as niceness, which doesn't seem hip at all. (Not that hippies were hip.) Is niceness an emotion? Deresiewicz toys with "post-emotional," then comes up with "the affect of the salesman." And that's not very nice at all. What "social form" do these little jerks get? Deresiewicz assigns them: small business
Our culture hero is not the artist or reformer, not the saint or scientist, but the entrepreneur. (Think of Steve Jobs, our new deity.) Autonomy, adventure, imagination: entrepreneurship comprehends all this and more for us. The characteristic art form of our age may be the business plan.
See how that goes with "the affect of the salesman"?
Today’s polite, pleasant personality is, above all, a commercial personality. It is the salesman’s smile and hearty handshake, because the customer is always right and you should always keep the customer happy. If you want to get ahead, said Benjamin Franklin, the original business guru, make yourself pleasing to others.
This is not meant as a compliment. Deresiewicz is not a fan of "the bland, inoffensive, smile-and-a-shoeshine personality — the stay-positive, other-directed, I’ll-be-whoever-you-want-me-to-be personality — that everybody has today."

ADDED: I like Deresiewicz's writing style and he has a lot of nice observations, but something's obviously missing — something expressed by the "these kids today" tag I just added. In every generation, there's a mix of conventional and rebellious type individuals. The millennials he describes sound very similar to the people beatniks, hippies, and slackers rebelled against. There are rebels among the millennial generation too. Look at all the protests these days! Look at all the young people who are looking to the government to deal with the joblessness. How cheerfully entrepreneurial are they?

"It gets a little lonely over here in Siberia from time to time" was the wry whine from the under-included Jon Huntsman at the debate last night.

But does he have serious cause for complaint? Personally, I would love to hear from Thaddeus McCotter. Remember him? He was kept out of the debates entirely because he didn't hit a point in the polls — 1% — that was within the margin of error. Huntsman, benefited by inclusion in multiple debates, still hasn't worked his percentage up above the 1% mark.

It makes sense for the moderators to apportion the time with some regard to the polls! One-percenters are lucky to be included in the debate at all, especially this late in the game, when they've proven, over the weeks, that they are not gaining ground. Huntsman's poll numbers are flatlining.

This was a prime-time network debate. It wasn't wrong, at this point, to use some approach other than egalitarianism. They had equality of opportunity at the start of what has been a long series of debates. At some point, meritocracy kicks in. The people have shown they're most interested in comparing a set of 4 or 5 of the candidates to each other, and those on the outs should be grateful that they're given a shot at all.

The question isn't why is Huntsman getting so many fewer questions than Romney/Cain/Perry/Gingrich. The question is why is he getting so many more questions than Thaddeus McCotter?

And here's a news report revealing that CBS consciously chose poll-based proportionality. The Bachmann campaign got its hands on some internal CBS email:
In the email string, CBS News’ political analyst John Dickerson said that Bachmann was “not going to get many questions during the debate and she’s nearly off the charts,” a reference to the Minnesota congresswoman’s low standing in the polls....

“There’s nothing that can be done now. The debate’s over,” [Bachmann spokeswoman Alice] Stewart said. “They assured us prior to debate that it was going to be a fair and level playing field and it certainly wasn’t. We didn’t want to have to get the word out but they made it clear to us that it was going to be fair and it wasn’t.”
It's a level playing field if you view the game as beginning months ago! You had equal opportunity at the outset, but you've been doing poorly, and it's a meritocracy. Playing the "fairness" card now makes you sound like a liberal arguing for affirmative action... in a situation where there was no deprivation of opportunity at the outset.
Paul’s spokesman Jesse Benton accused CBS of “disgraceful” actions that stemmed from an “arrogance” in thinking that “they can choose the next president.”

“Ron Paul consistently polls among the top three in the key early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire,” Benton said in a statement. “He is polling in double digits in most respected polls. 
Now, Paul does deserve attention, for the reason stated. But I think he got some great openings last night. He had the chance to distinguish himself as strongly opposed to all torture (defined unstingily) and to all undeclared wars. But he only had 90 seconds total, and so something beyond poll-based proportionality infused CBS's decisionmaking.

After the moderator Scott Pelley defended CBS's choices:
“I’ll tell you that the time for all of the candidates was limited. We had an hour and a half. We had eight candidates... I’ll also tell you we spent an enormous amount of time, several weeks, counting all of the questions of all the candidates, making sure everyone had a fair shot. Gov. Huntsman, who is polling around 1 percent at this point, made a point of coming up to me on stage and said, ‘I really appreciate how much you talked to the candidates who are not polling very high in numbers.’ So I think the candidates felt they were well treated.”
Oh, is Huntsman gunning for a network job? He's clever. Sucking up like that.

IN THE COMMENTS: Irene said:
A clever politician like Huntsman should know better than to joke about Siberia.

What if he had said "Nazi camp" instead?

There's something I like about Newt Gingrich.

He reminds me of a law professor....



Most of the candidates will listen to a question and then answer some question they wish they'd been asked. This is a standard approach to answering questions on television. It's a way to avoid letting the questioner control you, and you create an opportunity to say what you want to say.

That's not what Newt does. He listens to the precise question asked and examines it, then works out, before our eyes, what is wrong with that question and what the real issue is. He has a depth of understanding and flexibility of mind that allows him to do that, he cares about doing that accurately and well, and he has the style to want to perform reasoning for us. I like that. I try to do that all the time in class, and I know how hard it is, what presence of mind and grasp of the material it takes.

For example, in that little clip, the moderator Scott Pelley asks:
As president of the United States, would you sign that death warrant for an American citizen overseas who you believe is a terrorist suspect?
Pelley has framed a yes-or-know question, and instead of saying "yes" (or "absolutely" as Mitt Romney just did), Newt says:
Well, he's not a terrorist suspect. He's a person who was found guilty under review of actively seeking the death of Americans. 
Newt says that in a puzzled and slightly peeved way that creates drama about whether he might be confused or combative. It puts us on edge. And Pelley is now required to speak again. Newt didn't launch into a lecture. He even ceded some time to Pelley, who says:
Not found guilty by a court, sir. 
Gingrich doles out a dollop of information:
He was found guilty by a panel that looked at it and reported to the president. 
Pelley is now put in the role of the student in a dialogue:
Well, that's extrajudicial. (CROSSTALK)  It's not the rule of law. (APPLAUSE) 
Look at Pelley at this point — 0:32 — he's smiling and glowing, thinking (perhaps) that he's doing well in class, and the audience applauds for him. Gingrich swoops in:
It is the rule of law. That is explicitly false. It is the rule of law. If you engage in war against the United States, you are an enemy combatant. You have none of the civil liberties of the United States. You cannot go to court. 
Now, the applause is for Newt. The dramatic moment has happened, and now the professor makes it all very clear with an instant, crisp mini-lecture on the dimensions of the rule of law:
No, let me be -- let me be very clear about this on two levels. There is a huge gap here that, frankly, far too many people get confused over. Civil defense, criminal defense is a function of being within the American law. Waging war on the United States is outside criminal law. It is an act of war and should be dealt with as an act of war, and the correct thing in an act of war is to kill people who are trying to kill you.
There's more applause. We hear one of the other candidates say "Well said. Well said." I think it was Mitt — Mitt, who had just been asked the same question. Mitt answered the question clearly and cleanly. ("If there's someone
that's going to join with a group like Al Qaida that declares war on America,
and we're in a war with that entity, then, of course, anyone who is
bearing arms with that entity is fair game for the United States of America.") Credit to Mitt for openly admiring the style and substance of Professor Gingrich.

IN THE COMMENTS: John Althouse Cohen said:
It sounds to me like Perry is the one who said, "Well said, well said."
On another relistening, I agree.