June 2, 2012

"Illinois lawmakers may have gotten stymied on the issue of pension reform..."

"... a multi-billion-dollar mess affecting every taxpayer in the state. But at least they managed to pass a bill involving miniature horses."
Under a measure the House sent to Gov. Quinn Thursday night – the evening members were supposed to consider a cost-saving pension bill – people with disabilities could use miniature horses as service animals in public places, much like guide dogs are used.
That's what's happening in our neighboring state — and I do mean neighboring...



Nice leadership under a Democratic governor. But don't worry, Wisconsin. We might get a Democratic governor too, very soon. Just a couple weeks. There's a 2.7% chance.

Fmr. Gov. Ed Rendell: Democrats "made a mistake" pursuing the recall against Scott Walker.

He's responding to a remark by Joe Scarborough that contains a really annoying misstatement of fact:
"I hate politicians when they're asked, what mistake -- like George Bush was asked after four years, what mistakes have you made? 'I can't think of any.' When Scott Walker comes out and says, 'I messed up. I should have listened first before going out and doing what I did. I won't make that mistake again.' Again, you sit there and, go, 'hey, the guy is comfortable in his own skin.'"
Rendell then says:
"And conversely, our guys made a mistake by not -- at that point -- raising the victory flag. They'd accomplished a lot of what they wanted to accomplish, declare victory. Don't get an election that's divisive, that may have an influence on the presidential election. We made a mistake doing that."
But Scott Walker didn't say I should have listened first. He said he should have explained and won more popular support:
The mistake I made early on is, I looked at it almost like the head of a small business: identify a problem, identify a solution and go out and do it... I don't think we built enough of a political case, so we let ... the national organizations come in and define the debate while we were busy just getting the job done."
He's been very consistent about that. It's Tom Barrett's argument that what the governor ought to do is sit down with everyone, listen, focus, work together, etc. That's not Scott Walker. Walker had a plan, got elected, and put the plan into play. He just wished after the fact that he'd controlled the public discourse better.

"The path to independent adulthood... often must, and actually should, lead back to the family home after college."

"The good news for parents is that your graduate will achieve economic independence eventually. In the meantime, accept a basic fact of life: Given the realities of today’s economy, your nest will not empty out right away."

To what extent do you agree?
  
pollcode.com free polls 

"New information gives a clearer picture of what happened 75 years ago to Amelia Earhart..."

"... and navigator Fred Noonan, where they came down and how they likely survived – for a while, at least – as castaways on a remote island."

That story is ranking as the most popular story at CSM right not, but here's a Skeptoid episode from last January going through the evidence and concluding:
TIGHAR begins with the assumption that Amelia Earhart crashed, camped out, and died on Nikumaroro. They take everything they find — every anomaly in a photograph or in a story, every piece of bone or manmade artifact found on the island — and try to match it to their assumption, rather than trying to objectively assess its origin.

One more thing about Clinton lambasting Scott Walker in Wisconsin...

You don't see George W. Bush traveling around the country campaigning for Republicans, even in a gentle, dignified way. But his fellow former President Clinton is jumping into the Wisconsin recall election. Note too that Bush never criticizes President Obama, to whom he paid a cordial visit in the White House yesterday:

Beautiful clip:



Three of the 5 living Presidents were there in that charming scene. Bill Clinton was in Milwaukee, insulting Scott Walker. I don't know what Jimmy Carter was doing. But you tell me: How should a former President conduct himself? Should he do partisan politics, or should he withdraw to a higher plane of national eminence?

ADDED: What did they say off camera? I'm picturing some reference to the time Bush said "I want justice, and there's an old poster out West I recall, that said, 'Wanted, Dead or Alive'"and how Obama went with: dead.

At the Smart Car Café...

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... let's get small.

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Scott Walker spikes to 97% the day after Bill Clinton campaigns against him.

Ouch.

Another political letter tapping public information to shame and intimidate.

Last night, I posted about a mailing I received from the Greater Wisconsin Political Fund, showing my name and address and the names and addresses of a dozen of my neighbors and whether we'd voted in the last 2 elections. The letter says that "we're taking a new approach... sending this mailing to you and your neighbors to publicize who does and does not vote." We're told this is a matter of "public record" and that "After the June 5th election" — the recall — "public records will tell everybody who voted and who didn't." I found that quite disgusting.

A reader emailed me:
I got the same thing on donations about 2 weeks ago (see attached).  Ugh

A group of “researchers” using a Harvard University return address (108 Littauer Center – I checked and Harvard has that center.) is sending out campaign contribution information showing one Republican donor (me) and multiple (blinded) Democratic donors.  This reeks of intimidation tactics, i.e. “we have your name, etc and we will spotlight you”.  They claim this is information from “my neighborhood” – I know I live in a very Republican neighborhood so these names could be pulled from anywhere, e.g. the big UVA Democrat areas several miles from here.

"You get out of a ditch when people stand on each others’ shoulders and somebody gets to the top and then reaches down and pulls everybody else up."

Said Bill Clinton in Milwaukee yesterday. He was ostensibly campaigning for the Democratic candidate in the recall election, but I'm pretty sure he had ulterior motives. Now, look at the quote: It's what Democrats tend to call trickle-down economics.

It's not the anti-rich rhetoric we hear from Obama. Clinton is saying it's good to have some people climbing up over others and getting rich, because then, as their business grows, they're in a position to offer jobs to people.

This is consistent with his praising Mitt Romney the other day, saying he had a "sterling" career at Bain Capital.

Obama needs to watch out for Bill Clinton. This is the real Bill Clinton, don't you think?

"Victim of Canadian porn star cannibal is Chinese gay lover as police reveal 'murderer' is on the run in France... dressed as a woman."

A Daily Mail headline. Are you having trouble keeping your cannibals in the news straight? (No pun intended!) I mean there's the porn-related-gay-Chinese-on-the-lam-transvestite guy...
Luka Magnotta, who is suspected of cannibalism, flew from Canada to France a day after placing gruesome footage of the murder on the internet.
Flew? Vampire or zombie? You decide. Anyway, there's that one. There's the naked-in-broad-daylight face-eater. That's Rudy Eugene, not on the lam. Shot dead by the police. And then there's the other one:
Authorities say Alex Kinyua, 21, admitted using a knife to kill and carve up Kujoe Bonsafo Agyei-Kodie, 37, before eating his heart and parts of his brain....

In February, Kinyua posted a question on Facebook, asking fellow students at historically black colleges and universities if they were "strong enough to endure ritual HBCU mass human sacrifices around the country and still be able to function as human beings?"

He referred to the tragic shootings at Virginia Tech and "other past university killings around the country" and warned "ethnic cleansing is the policy, strategy and tactics that will affect you, directly or indirectly in the coming months"....
I wonder if the sane people who engage in racial politics bear some responsibility for the paranoia that arises in weak minds? In fact, I wonder if the people who delight in japing about a zombie uprising bear some responsibility for the crazy people who actually do try to eat brains?

I'm thinking back to the clumsy efforts to assign blame for the Tucson massacre. Some people are insane. But why do they act out their insanity in the particular way that they do? What signals do they pick up and distort? You can't really blame the sane people who talk and distort and lie about things as they operate more or less competently in this place called reality that most of us inhabit. And yet... why are we hearing so much about cannibals these days?

ADDED: I crossed out "Chinese" in the first paragraph of this post. The headline had a few too many words in it for me to absorb. The victim was Chinese, not the cannibal.

Bill Clinton did not come to Wisconsin to help Tom Barrett win the recall election.

The Democrats have given so little help to Tom Barrett in his effort to oust Scott Walker, but Bill Clinton did show up for a rally yesterday, 4 days before the recall election. Barrett's impending loss was so apparent that — I think— the Democratic Party elite had decided that it was best to avoid association with him. Spin it as an insignificant, local matter, even as the Republicans are portraying it as a test of whether governors all over America can make bold reforms and a prediction of what will happen in the fall election.

So what changed? Why does Clinton show up now? I'm going to say: Money! Scott Walker is about to win, about to collect his new mandate, and the Democrats are going to want to raise money off that event. The terrible Scott Walker — now with more power — threatens America! Quick, send money! That's the pitch they want to go out next Wednesday. But how can they do that if they did nothing to help Tom Barrett defeat Scott Walker? The savvy recipient of the quick-send-money email might think: If Scott Walker was so dangerous, why didn't you people do what you could to defeat him when you had the chance? But if the well-loved, charismatic President goes to Wisconsin, that's the one thing people will remember. The clips and quotes of the man can be mobilized for money gathering.

You can watch Clinton's whole speech over here. You can comb through that and see what might prove useful to the Democratic Party as it pursues victory in the fall elections.

But I want to focus on something else, a second theory about why Bill Clinton came to Wisconsin. I'm not convinced Clinton is devoted to the short game of reelecting Obama. I think he might be playing a long game: Hillary 2016. The game of Hillary 2016 can be won in different ways, but one path opens up if Obama loses in 2012. If he loses, why will he have lost? And how would Bill Clinton frame that loss as he plays Hillary 2016?

Bill Clinton might think in terms of Bill Clinton: I won in 1996, because I leveraged myself off the Republican victory in 1994, which is exactly what Obama has failed to do in response to the Republican victory in 2010. Can't you see that potential in Clinton's remarks at the "Tom Barrett" rally?
“This divide-and-conquer, no compromise crowd, if they’d been in control, there never would have been a United States Constitution....

“Cooperation works. Constant conflict is a dead-bang loser and you need to get rid of it,” said Clinton, rattling off incidences of Republicans and Democrats cooperating...
Obama hasn't been cooperating with Republicans. He certainly hasn't used Republican power in Congress as a way to rack up credit for some conservative reform the way Bill Clinton did welfare reform. Here's Bill Clinton basking in self-admiration in a NYT op-ed "How We Ended Welfare, Together":
Regarding the politics of welfare reform, there is a great lesson to be learned, particularly in today’s hyper-partisan environment, where the Republican leadership forces bills through Congress without even a hint of bipartisanship. Simply put, welfare reform worked because we all worked together. The 1996 Welfare Act shows us how much we can achieve when both parties bring their best ideas to the negotiating table and focus on doing what is best for the country....

Ten years ago, neither side got exactly what it had hoped for. While we compromised to reach an agreement, we never betrayed our principles and we passed a bill that worked and stood the test of time. This style of cooperative governing is anything but a sign of weakness. It is a measure of strength, deeply rooted in our Constitution and history, and essential to the better future that all Americans deserve, Republicans and Democrats alike.
The date on that op-ed was 2006. What was Bill Clinton doing in 2006? He was playing a little game called Hillary 2008.

June 1, 2012

"We're sending this mailing to you and your neighbors to publicize who does and does not vote."

Incredibly creepy mail today from the Greater Wisconsin Political Fund:

Untitled

I obscured names and addresses, but be assured, this was a list of real names and addresses of people who live near me, with the information about whether they voted in the last 2 elections. This is an effort to shame and pressure people about voting, and it is truly despicable. Your vote is private, you have a right not to vote, and anyone who tries to shame and harass you about it is violating your privacy, and the assumption that I will become active in shaming and pressuring my neighbors is repugnant.

Not voting is a valid choice. If you don't have a preference in the election, don't vote. If you think no one deserves your vote, don't vote.

This may be the most disgusting thing I have ever received in the mail.

I encounter "The Constitution Made Easy."

At a Tea Party rally here in Madison this evening, the author Michael Holler challenged people to understand the Constitution, and I took his quiz. Did I flunk? Did I ace it? Check this out:

Finally...

... after 51 years.

"Allegedly stoned and drunk one night at Occidental, Obama and a friend stopped to talk to an attractive girl and..."

"... 'Barry launched into a riff on nudity, offering his theory that the human race would be better off if people did not wear clothes. This declaration was made with the urgency of someone ready to strip then and there. ... It seemed apparent that Barry was trying to seduce the woman right in front of' his friend who had a crush on the girl."

The voice of Gumby and Speedy Alka-Seltzer, Dick Beals...

... dead at age 85.
“I’m the voice of little babies to 15-year-olds,” Mr. Beals told The Los Angeles Times in 1992. “In cartoons, I have also been the voice of all kinds of animals — parrots, chipmunks, birds, rabbits, you name it.”...

In commercials, he was a Campbell Soup kid, and he sang, “Oh, I’d love to be an Oscar Meyer wiener.”.

“Once directors found there was a college graduate who could do children’s voices, they didn’t have to call those nutty mothers anymore and ask them to get Junior to do the part,” Mr. Beals told The Lansing State Journal in Michigan in 2007. “I could do any voice, boy or girl.”

A Tea Party rally in Wisconsin this evening.

Untitled

"The Constitution Made Easy"...

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It's a book. I talked to the author, Michael Holler.

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ADDED: At Meade's behest, I take Holler's "Constitution Made Easy" quiz.

"Americans Have No Idea How Few Gay People There Are."

"Surveys show a shockingly high fraction think a quarter of the country is gay or lesbian, when the reality is that it's probably less than 2 percent."

"[M]any veterans of the [Wisconsin] protests are discouraged that so much promising grassroots energy sloppily dissipated at the hands of Democrats."

"The movement got co-opted by the Democratic Party." Those are the words of an anonymous Wisconsinite, quoted by Sally Kohn in a Daily Beast article that analyzes what has happened in Wisconsin over the past year and a half. Kohn opines:
But frankly, if the Democrats had succeeded in co-opting such a massive and magnetic grassroots groundswell, the recall campaign in Wisconsin would look dramatically different.
Face it. There's a big difference between left-wing activism and the Democratic Party. Why would left-wing activists care about getting a lackluster Democrat like Tom Barrett to be Governor? It works much better to have the big enemy Scott Walker as Governor. It was so energizing in March 2011. This recall is pathetic by comparison. Lefties should take a cue from the UW Teaching Assistants' Association: Repudiate the recall.

Nikki Haley, campaigning with Scott Walker: "are you going to reward the courage he showed ... or are you going to go back to where it was?"

Today in Wisconsin:
"All eyes across the country are on Wisconsin," Haley said, not because of last year's protests because of what the situation was like three years ago, when there were budget deficits and high unemployment...

"He had the courage to take it on, even when it got ugly, and he never stopped, he never stopped. And when the heat lifted, he lifted right with it," she said.

"We love fighters, fighters who understand when it gets hot, you keep on moving," she said.

"Pennsylvania man was arrested yesterday after he confessed to hiding a video camera above the desk of a female coworker..."

"... so that he could secretly film her pumping breast milk, police report."
... He is pictured above in a photo from his Facebook page that appears to show him drinking a margarita from a glass shaped like a female torso that is outfitted in a pink bikini.

"I just didn’t think he was guilty."

Edwards jurors speak.
On the Today show, the three jurors raised their hands when asked if Edwards was guilty on at least some of the counts. No one raised their hands when asked if Edwards was a bad guy.
Ha. Fascinating. I get the feeling the legal commentators like to say: He's a bad guy, but that doesn't mean he should be convicted of a crime. It's important to understand that distinction. But they didn't even think he was a bad guy. Maybe they were competent at compartmentalizing. They knew it wasn't their job to decide if he was a bad guy, and they set that aside and concentrated on the elements of the crime and whether the prosecution met the burden of proof.

"Some things that are big in the legal academy are considered irrelevant or crackpot by judges."

From an article titled "The Most-Cited Law Review Articles of All Time."

"Nice police department you got there, Mayor Barrett."

Says Instapundit, linking to my post about the man with the pro-Walker sign who was arrested by the Milwaukee police today. He adds:
There’s also some sort of scandal involving the Milwaukee police, isn’t there? Oh, yes, there is: Milwaukee Police Accused Of Performing Illegal Body Cavity Searches.

Oh, and there’s the crime statistics book-cooking scandal.

Plus a policy favoring illegal assaults on gun owners.

Then there’s that whole vote-fraud business.

Tom Barrett at last night's debate: "No one on my staff has ever been charged with a crime."

He looked really pleased and smug when he said that... but it's just not true.

Via Meade, at the Isthmus forum.

"Dow erases 2012 gains after 'terrible' jobs report."

"Jittery investors flee stocks."

"[A] 16-year-old boy shot the arrow, saying he was shooting at a squirrel."

The sheriff said...

(Here's where we talked about the little girl's injury.)

At the Clinton-Barrett rally: "Theyre arresting the walker supporter."



Free speech, anybody?

MORE:





Willoughby? I wonder if he's related to Tricia Willoughby, the 14-year-old girl who spoke — over boos and heckling — at the Tea Party rally in Madison last year.

AND: Here's the Buzzfeed article by Rosie Gray
"I have no idea why I'm being handcuffed," he told the gaggle of reporters who had followed him. "They won't tell anybody what I did wrong. What rally specifically do I get to peacefully protest?"

A crowd of Barrett supporters formed around the Walker supporter, yelling "Why agitate the people?" and "Bye-bye!" as he was led into a police car.

A police officer on the scene would not say why the man had been arrested.

The man has been identified in previous news stories as David Willoughby, a swimming coach at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He stood in the middle of the crowd at the Clinton/Barrett rally holding a tall sign and was repeatedly asked by volunteers to move. One volunteer asked him to "move to the left of the press." Willoughby refused.

His presence, which was vocal, angered many in the crowd, especially when he yelled "Tell me how you're going to create jobs!" repeatedly as Barrett and Clinton spoke. He argued with Barrett supporters for the duration of the rally and even drew attention from speakers on the stage; Democratic Party of Wisconsin chairman Mike Tate mentioned him twice. One man in the crowd said he would "take him out," and a woman told him "I'm a union thug and you're ignorant as hell!"
Quite aside from the free speech rights, it's stupid to arrest someone in this situation. Now, he's the story, instead of Clinton rallying for Barrett. And the police are the story. The Milwaukee police. The Madison police didn't treat protesters/counter-protesters this way. And you know something about Milwaukee? Its mayor is Tom Barrett.

"TV can boost self-esteem of white boys... Self-esteem of white girls, black kids decreases with TV consumption."

Put that on your list of things a study said.
With the definition of self-esteem being an overall feeling of self-worth, Harrison told CNN, kids were asked reverse-coded questions such as, "Are there a lot of things about yourself you would like to change?"
Are you sure you didn't reverse-code some other character quality?
For white boys, "regardless of what show you're watching ... things in life are pretty good for you," [Nicole] Martins, an assistant professor of telecommunications at Indiana University Bloomington, said in a statement. "(White males) tend to be in positions of power; you have prestigious occupations, high education, glamorous houses, a beautiful wife, with very little portrayals of how hard you worked to get there."
And this unrealistic complacency benefits the white males, because... ? Because everything benefits white males?

"A coin collector and Sherlock Holmes fan, Snigdha aced the word 'guetapens'..."

"...  French-derived word that means an ambush or a trap, to outlast eight other finalists and claim the trophy along with more than $40,000 in cash and prizes."
"I knew it. I'd seen it before," Snigdha, a semifinalist last year, said of the winning word. "I just wanted to ask everything I could before I started spelling."
There was no jumping for joy, at least not right away. The announcer didn't proclaim Snigdha the champion, so she stood awkwardly near the microphone for a few seconds before confetti started to fly. [Video here.]
I had Snigda picked out as the most likely winner by the beginning of the finals. She seemed to know the words (and the word components) and wasn't just making very educated guesses.

IN THE COMMENTS: Chuck said: "Ann...You misspelled 'Snigdha.'" Oh, yeah? Maybe I meant to do that.

If you're following someone on Twitter and then you die...

... you keep following them. Forever.

Just noticed a name listed as a "follower" of a politician who's done some new things since the person with that name died. Seems wrong.

When you estate-plan, you need to authorize someone to "unfollow" for you, or you'll be a virtual ghost, wandering aimlessly after people, unable to break free.

"A judge’s declaration of a mistrial on Thursday in the John Edwards campaign finance case was a new setback for the Justice Department’s public integrity section..."

"... a once-vaunted watchdog that has been trying to rebuild itself after its botched prosecution of Senator Ted Stevens four years ago," writes Charlie Savage.
The unit’s performance has been faulted by nonprofit groups that seek to limit the influence of money in politics. Melanie Sloan, director of the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said the Justice Department deserved “to get slammed” for what she portrayed as undertaking a risky prosecution against Mr. Edwards that relied upon a novel interpretation of campaign finance laws, even as it shied away from more traditional corruption cases.

“The cases that they are deciding to prosecute, and not prosecute, reflect an incoherent strategy,” she said. “At some points they are willing to be incredibly aggressive, like with John Edwards, and on the other hand they are overly cautious in refusing to prosecute people like John Ensign and Don Young.”
Much more at the link. Read it.

Bill Clinton in Milwaukee, campaigning for Tom Barrett.

Buzzfeed reporter Rosie Gray is tweeting it, here. Sample stuff:
Mahlon Mitchell, running for lt gov, speaking now. Starts a "show me what democracy looks like" chant, #OWS- style
Oh, here's John McCormack of The Weekly Standard. Sample:


Oops!

AND:


ADDED: Rosie Gray has an awful lot of tweets about this one guy:


AND: Sorry to repeat the phrase "this... guy." In the first update, the "this guy" who's 65 and "hit on by porn stars" is Bill Clinton. In the second update, "this guy" is just some guy who showed up with a Scott Walker sign and troubling the photo op compositions. You can't exactly just point the camera elsewhere if the crowd is tiny and you're trying to capture that teeming look.

ALSO: Where's the live-stream? Barrett's own Twitter feed, an hour ago, said "Huge crowd ready to rally as shown by this photo submitted by a supporter," and within minutes, there were 2 responses, asking for directions to a live stream. Nearly and hour later, and with Clinton close to going on, there's no answer. I found an indication of a live feed at WAOW.com, but clicking on the link doesn't work for me. What's irritating is: I keep clicking and getting the same commercial and then it goes dead. It's a public service ad featuring a low-flow showerhead. Low-flow. I want streaming, and I'm getting no-flow.

UPDATE: The Walker supporter is arrested.

Obama plans ahead for the news of the Supreme Court's decision in the Affordable Care Act case.

Bloomberg reports:
[A] planning memo, including a reminder that it’s important “to continue projecting confidence that the court will uphold the law,” was discussed at a May 29 meeting hosted by a group called Protect Your Care, attended by officials from the White House and Department of Health and Human Services, said one of the attendees, who requested anonymity to discuss a private meeting.

“The best way to demonstrate public outrage or public celebration about the decision is to stage an event that shows average people actually responding to the news,” according to the memo....

Eric Holder "implies that Jim Crow is on the cusp of a comeback" — why?

The Wall Street Journal says it's a cynical election move.
Mr. Holder's Council of Black Churches address is merely the latest of his election-year moves that charge racial discrimination of one kind or another. These include voting-rights lawsuits to block voter ID laws in Texas and South Carolina, intervention in immigration cases in Arizona, and various housing and lending discrimination suits. Whatever the legal merits of these cases, their sudden proliferation in an election year suggests a political motivation.

The courts will eventually expose much of this as meritless, but it's a shame the media won't call Mr. Holder on this strategy before the election. Imagine the uproar if a Republican AG pursued a similar strategy. It's worse than a shame that America's first black Attorney General is using his considerable power to inflame racial antagonism.

"The man who has been governor and had a sterling business career crosses the qualification threshold," said Bill Clinton about Mitt Romney.

What's Clinton's game? He's not joking, and I don't think there's a big stress on "threshold" (that is, the notion that Romney is minimally qualified but not more).
Unlike some fellow Democrats, Clinton acknowledged Romney's time at Bain Capital formed a "good business career." He also acknowledged that the nature of private equity meant some companies inevitably fail.

"There is a lot of controversy about that," Clinton told guest host Harvey Weinstein, who has raised millions of dollars for Obama's campaign. "But if you go in and you try to save a failing company, and you and I have friends here who invest in companies, you can invest in a company, run up the debt, loot it, sell all the assets, and force all the people to lose their retirement and fire them."
Key phrase: "you and I have friends here who invest in companies." The Democrats are vulnerable themselves and can't afford the meme private equity is evil. But if this problem lay in wait, why did the Obama campaign commit itself so deeply to the Bain attack?
The former president continued, "Or you can go into a company, have cutbacks, try to make it more productive with the purpose of saving it. And when you try, like anything else you try, you don't always succeed."

While Clinton is not the first Democrat to defend Bain amid political attacks, he is the highest profile. In May Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker said he didn't want to "indict private equity," saying attacks on Romney's tenure didn't take into account the successes the company had. And on Thursday, current Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick called Bain "a perfectly fine company."
Help me figure this out. Is Clinton really about saving the Obama campaign from a problem it unwittingly created? Or is Clinton about the Clintons, whose interests with Obama intersect only incompletely.

"The outcome of Wisconsin’s recall election will not just decide this state’s leanings on matters of budget, taxes and policy..."

"... and the ultimate trajectory of Gov. Scott Walker’s fast-rising political prospects. It will also send a message about a larger fight over labor in this country, and whether voters are likely to reject those who cut collective bargaining rights, as Mr. Walker did here last year...."

A slide show at the NYT about the Wisconsin recall. There's also a long article, but the key text is in the slide show captions, and it's mostly stuff you know if you haven't been avoiding news of the recall. Nice dynamic photo of Bobby Jindal, with Walker and Kleefisch at photo #6. (Kleefisch, who looks gorgeous at the left edge of the photo, is not identified in the caption.)

"The problem is that the cost of a law degree is now vastly out of proportion to the economic opportunities obtained by the majority of graduates."

Writes lawprof Brian Z. Tamanaha, in a NYT op-ed:
... How did we get into this mess? And how do we get out?...

First, consider the loan system....

Then there’s the problem of the American Bar Association-imposed accreditation standards.... [B]y imposing a “one size fits all” template, these standards ensure that there is little differentiation among law schools — no lower-cost options and no range of choices comparable to what exists at the undergraduate level among community colleges, teaching colleges and research universities.

One solution to this problem is to strip away the accreditation requirements that mandate expenditures to support faculty scholarship — for example, deleting the requirement that the bulk of professors be in tenure-track positions, removing limits on teaching loads, not requiring paid research leaves for professors, not requiring substantial library collections and so forth....  Law students would then be able to choose the type of legal education they desired and could afford.
Tamanaha has a book: "Failing Law Schools."

May 31, 2012

Live-blogging the Scott Walker/Tom Barrett Wisconsin recall debate.

8:40 Central Time: We're set to begin in 20 minutes. You can stream it here. Hang out here in the comments.

8:53: Wisconsin polysci prof John Coleman has some excellent, detailed graphs of the polling.

9:00: They're at Marquette Law School, and the moderator is Mike Gousha. It's a bright, banked classroom, and the candidates are sitting together at a table. No lecterns. No opening statements, and the candidates can talk to each other.

9:03: Question 1: What's at stake in the recall? Walker (who won the coin toss) says it's whether a politician can be decisive. Barrett says it's "the future of this state," then switches to some of his buzzwords: "rock star" (Walker is one) and Tea Party (what Walker wants to impose on us).

9:05: Gousha asks about Walker's "divide and conquer" remark. Walker says it had to do with breaking up the power of the special interests and returning the power to the people. Barrett says "you wanted to pit people against each other... you wanted to use a crisis to divide and conquer... you say you're 'going to drop the bomb.'"

9:11: This is a great format with the men sitting side by side. Barrett — a larger man — leans toward the governor and speaks with urgency and stress. Walker seems more relaxed. He's earnest, gesturing and explaining. Walker's theme is: the taxpayers.

9:15: Barrett calls Walker "the poster boy of the Tea Party." He insists Walker would sign a right-to-work law, which Walker — who won't vow to veto it — says will never arrive on his desk. Barrett is speaking very fast. They're arguing about labor statistics now and Barrett, who's relying on old estimates as opposed to the actual, verified numbers, is turning bright red.

9:21: Gousha challenges Barrett to say something specific what he would do to increase economic development. Barrett complains about Walker's tax cuts. I really don't think Barrett has any material on this, the most important issue to people. Gousha ultimately lets him get away with talking about education.

9:28: Walker says "The mayor has a moral obligation" to tell us what his budget reform plan is. (He's never done it.) Barrett says a lot of nonresponsive words. Walker, smiling, and finally doing an expansive gesture, says: "Just to be clear, so everybody's clear here: The Mayor doesn't have a plan, so all he's got is to attack me. That's what, you just heard here. The Mayor did not answer the question, because he doesn't have an answer." Barrett acts like now he will, but he does the same thing again: complaining about what Walker did and saying he'll sit down and talk to people.

9:35: Barrett keeps calling Walker "Scott," while Walker invariably calls Barrett "the Mayor."

9:39: Gousha brings up the John Doe investigation, and Barrett lashes into Walker for his lack of integrity. Walker brings up the misleading numbers about crime in Milwaukee, and Barrett does a how-dare-you-question-my-integrity routine. Which is it? Must we assume integrity, or can integrity be attacked?

9:47: Barrett says that Walker — in the name of attacking Barrett's record — has been trying to make people afraid of Milwaukee. Walker says he loves Milwaukee... and brings up Barrett's 2-mile trolley.

9:52: Barrett is agitated about all the Scott Walker commercials that are "ripping my face off."

9:54: Walker warns that if he loses, we're going to have "ping-pong recall" — one recall after another. People "are sick of" the recalls.

9:58: Closing statements. Barrett has no intention to be a "rock star," but he will be "rock solid." It's an election about trust. He'll restore "Wisconsin values." Walker touts his "courage" in taking on "the tough challenges." He's about moving forward and the future... for the next generation.

10:05: I think the highlight was when Walker said "Just to be clear, so everybody's clear here: The Mayor doesn't have a plan, so all he's got is to attack me." And beyond that, Barrett simply hasn't established that a recall is justified. Walker defended what he's done, made the usual claim that his reforms are working, and stood his ground. What more is there to say? Maybe that Barrett was disrespectful. Isn't it obvious that he should call Walker "the Governor"?

IN THE COMMENTS: Jon Burack said:
I paid almost no attention to the substance of what they said (why would anyone?). I watched body language. What struck me most was the imperious yet at the same time perplexed look Barrett directed at Walker almost constantly. A combination of ridiculous pomposity and pathetic passivity. Amazing he could pull off such a combo. A talent of sorts, I guess -- for doing himself in. Walker looked relaxed and human and never once reciprocated with any form of rudeness such as he was getting.
And Walter quotes me saying "Barrett is agitated about all the Scott Walker commercials that are 'ripping my face off'" and adds "That is totally insensitive to those in the news lately truly ripping and chewing off faces."

At the Rose Café...

Untitled

... conversation rises.

"John Edwards Jury Reaches Verdict on Just 1 of 6 Counts."

"Jurors told Judge Catherine Eagles they had reached a unanimous verdict only on Count 3 of the indictment. That charge pertains specifically to more than $700,000 in donations wealthy heiress Rachel 'Bunny' Mellon gave Edwards to allegedly cover up an illicit affair and illegitimate child."

UPDATE: "The jury in the federal campaign finance case against former Senator John Edwards said Thursday that it had found him not guilty on one of the six counts against him, and the judge declared a mistrial on the others."

ADDED: Let's try to figure out what happened. Here's a list of the 6 counts. Count 3 accused Edwards of receiving illegal campaign contributions from Mellon in 2008. Now, Count 2 is the same thing, except in 2007. So what they agreed on was that the prosecution hadn't proved what was required with respect to 2008. Count 5 was about contributions from Fred Baron in 2008. Count 1 was conspiracy to do the things in the other counts, and Count 6 was false statements. It seems that there's plenty there for a retrial.

Annoying email annoys me.

2 teachers and a busload of high school students vote — using early in-person absentee balloting — in the Walker recall election.

"A witness at the Milwaukee Municipal Building on Friday reported seeing about 30 students from Pulaski High School arrived at the polls around 10 am. About 10 or 11 of them used their class schedules to vote."
However, according to the Milwaukee Elections Commission and the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, voters do not need to provide proof of age in order to register. All they have to do is check off a box on the registration form certifying that they are a qualified elector, a U.S. citizen and at least 18 years old by the time they vote.

"The whole system relies on the honestly and integrity of the individual," Sue Edmond, Milwaukee's Election Commission director, told the MacIver News Service. "If we find after the election that they lied, they could be charged with a felony."
The new voter ID law is not currently being enforced (because of the judgment of 2 Dane County judges). Interestingly, the new Marquette Law School poll, surveying likely voters in the recall election found that "61% percent favored requiring a government-issued photo id to vote, while 37 percent opposed that." People really do worry about voter fraud. Given the polls that show Walker leading — the Marquette poll has him 7 points ahead — if Barrett wins, people should be suspicious.

Here's Reince Priebus on the subject:
"I'm always concerned about voter fraud, you know, being from Kenosha, and quite frankly having lived through seeing some of it happen," Reince Priebus said. "Certainly in Milwaukee we have seen some of it, and I think it's been documented. Any notion that's not the case, it certainly is in Wisconsin. I'm always concerned about it, which is why I think we need to do a point or two better than where we think we need to be, to overcome it."...

Lester Pines, an attorney involved in a separate legal challenge to the voter ID law, also denounced Priebus' comments, saying they were baseless.

"His statement that Republicans need to outperform Democrats by one to two percent to account for vote fraud is an absolute, total, 100% lie," Pines said. "It is a fantasy. And Reince Priebus and his ilk are saying this and they're saying it over and over and over because they're using the well-known propaganda tool called 'the big lie.' If you say it enough times, people will believe it. There's no other way to characterize this except that Reince Priebus is a liar."
"The Big Lie" is indeed a well-known propaganda tool, but it is not simply something that's repeated a lot. "The Big Lie" refers to "colossal untruths" of the sort that ordinary people don't even think of telling, which they don't suspect because "they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously." I'm quoting Mein Kampf there. It's Adolph Hitler's term. Know it. Use it, but know what you're saying when you use it and only use it when you mean it, Mr. Pines. Don't make casual, vague allusions to Hitler. It's not right.

Elizabeth Warren says — for the first time — that she told Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania that she was Native American.

Boston Globe reports:
Federal statistics like those in the Harvard records, which were compiled for the Department of Labor, rely on a definition of “Native American’’ that requires both ancestry and an official affiliation with a tribe or community. The 1992-93 and 1995-96 Harvard reports indicate the university relied on that definition during those years as well as the years since.

Warren has not met any of those standards. Though she continues to consider herself Native American, she has not provided any genealogical evidence....

Professor Charles Fried, who sat on the committee that recruited Warren, reiterated to the Globe on Wednesday that he was unaware of Warren’s minority status when she was hired. He said that the committee never discussed it and that he does not consult the legal directory in which Warren had listed herself as a minority.

However, Fried acknowledged Wednesday to the Globe, it seemed strange that the issue of her heritage would not come up during the hiring process since she was recruited in the early 1990s, when the school was under intense pressure to diversify its faculty....

"New York City is not about wringing your hands; it’s about doing something."

"I think that’s what the public wants the mayor to do."

Elsewhere, "all over the United States," they "are wringing their hands saying, ‘Oh, this is terrible,’” but not in New York. In New York, they are doing something.

Do something — what a wonderful concept, often heard in the old cry for help: "Don't just stand there; do something."

It's the the motto of the liberal. The corresponding motto of the conservative is: First, do no harm. Or to put it in the form that I thought up (in another context) and have adopted as a kind of a personal motto: Better than nothing is a high standard.

1st Circuit says Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.

"The appeals court agreed with a lower court judge who ruled in 2010 that the law is unconstitutional because it interferes with the right of a state to define marriage and denies married gay couples federal benefits given to heterosexual married couples, including the ability to file joint tax returns."
The court didn't rule on [whether] states without same-sex marriage cannot be forced to recognize gay unions performed in states where it's legal. It also wasn't asked to address whether gay couples have a constitutional right to marry.
ADDED: Here is the opinion. After concluding that the equal protection doctrine requires minimum scrutiny (but not "the extreme deference accorded to ordinary economic legislation"), the court switches to discussing federalism. Congress uses the concept of marriage in many federal programs involving taxing and spending, and it normally relies on the states' determinations of who is married, but — the court says — that doesn't mean Congress is required to do so.

The court looks at the 10th Amendment but distinguishes this case from Printz and New York v. United States, which involved Congress commandeering the internal operations of state or local government. And the court looks at the Spending Clause doctrine and finds no limitation, because Congress is merely defining the terms of various spending programs.

Ronald Poppo, the cannibal's victim, the faceless man.

Video shows 3 bicyclists pedal past the naked cannibal attack. The attack goes on for 18 minutes.

I don't blame the bicyclists for not stopping to help. It would be heroic to stop, but getting away and calling 911 is all that is morally required. Do you disagree? I would not even stop long enough to figure out who was the one that needed help. Now, if the bicyclists casually observed the scene and moved on, that would be wrong.

There's also now an answer to the question I had: Why was the victim naked? The attacker, Rudy Eugene "pulls Poppo from the shade, strips off his pants and pummels him. He hunches over Poppo and appears to lie on top of him."

And here's an article about Poppo, whose sister thought he'd died years ago.
“I tried to reach him, and I just thought he killed himself,” she said. "We really thought he was no longer on this Earth."
So here was this poor, lost man. Before the attack, the word "faceless" could have been used figuratively to describe him. Now, having literally lost his face, he is famous. His face, in old photographs, is on the front page of the newspapers. What strange paradoxes. Lying in the street, with no one to care about him, he was suddenly "pull[ed]... from the shade" and into the bright light. He suffered a horrible attack, but before the attack, no one cared about him or gave him any thought at all. Now, everyone cares intensely about him. We want to know how he came to be lying there that day, how he suffered, whether he can be saved. The doctors and the nurses will lavish medical care upon him.

"When the gunmen began to slaughter his family, 11-year-old Ali el-Sayed says he fell to the floor of his home, soaking his clothes with his brother's blood..."

"... to fool the killers into thinking he was already dead. The Syrian boy tried to stop himself from trembling, even as the gunmen, with long beards and shaved heads, killed his parents and all four of his siblings, one by one."

The judge overseeing the John Doe investigation defends it against charges of partisanship.

"This has been an orderly and professionally conducted procedure... I realize the length of it frustrates some people. Once it's run its course, it's run its course."

Said former Appeals Court Judge Neal Nettesheim of Waukesha, interviewed by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Nettesheim declined to comment specifically on whether Walker was constrained under the John Doe law from discussing what he knows about issues under investigation or from releasing specific emails. Nettesheim noted that his secrecy order extends to all parties, including the judge. Violators can be held in contempt of court. Nettesheim would be the enforcer if violations occur.
I guess it's for the judge to decide how far he's allowed to go.

ADDED: At a Barrett rally last night in Madison:
The mayor again appeared with former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, who has joined Barrett on the campaign trail this week. Feingold called Walker's decision not to disclose John Doe documents "cynical" since voters cannot recall him again in his first term.

"If we do not prevail ... Scott Walker will have committed the perfect political crime," Feingold said. 
Oh, that's rich! As if Scott Walker schemed to set up a recall election against himself. Instead of calling Walker "cynical," he should call the people who demanded the recall idiots. Plus, Feingold.... if Feingold really cared about recalling Scott Walker, he'd have stepped up and become a candidate. Instead the Democratic Party got stuck with a lackluster candidate who had already lost to Scott Walker. Finally, there are remedies other than the recall, and in fact, the recall is a bad political remedy that ought to be abolished. If Scott Walker is actually guilty of some crime — if there's ultimately something of substance behind all this John Doe investigatory smoke — the remedy of impeachment will be available. There is also the political remedy: pressure on Walker to resign.

Scott Walker and Tom Barrett, together again — the second and final debate.

Tonight, at 9 Central Time.
Walker and Barrett held their first debate on Friday night. Barrett was aggressive in his attacks on Walker in that contest, but Walker stood his ground in defending his record as governor over the past 18 months.
Yes, and I wonder what Barrett will try to do this time. Last time, I think his strategy was to try to produce a moment, by being pretty irritating and disrespectful toward the governor. He repeatedly called him "Scott" (not "Governor") and repeatedly used confrontational phrases like "divide and conquer" (a phrase Walker once used, to which Walker opponents attribute great meaning) and "civil war" (a condition supposedly created by Walker, which Barrett likes to say he'll end). I think Barrett hoped to rile Walker and get a great video clip out of it. But Walker just ignored Barrett and answered the questions directed at him, sticking to the message: Our reforms are working. When one question turned out to be an invitation to Walker to ask Barrett a question, Walker said he didn't think the people of Wisconsin wanted to hear the candidates "bickering" and declined ask a question.

So Walker deflected Barrett in that first debate, and since then, Walker's numbers have climbed. Barrett got no traction. So what can he do tonight? The provoke-Walker strategy is terrible. It didn't work the first time, and now, you can predict Walker won't take the bait. He didn't take it the first time, and now he's seen it before. Barrett had better try looking gubernatorial. Be dignified and state your principles and policies in an intelligent, persuasive manner. It's not going to shake things up, and it's not likely to lead to a victory in next week's election. (Barrett is way behind in the polls.) But at least he can lose gracefully, and he can begin rebuilding the Democratic Party's reputation in Wisconsin. After the siege of the Capitol, the teachers and the fake sick-out notes, the fleeblagging to Illinois, the Hitler posters, etc. etc., show us some maturity and depth... including some depth about what their policies actually are. Last time, Barrett kept talking about how he would "focus" and "set priorities" and sit down with people and discuss what might be done. Let's have some substance. Dignified substance.

And stop trying to make "Scott" lose his cool. It's not going to happen. And it's not very gubernatorial.

Will I be live-blogging? If I and the internet live until 9 this evening, with our faculties intact, I sure will.

Spelling time again.

The best blog coverage, year after year, is at Throwing Things.

ADDED: "doo buh TAHN tay: The attitude of the Montana Supreme Court towards Citizens United."

ALSO: Here's some detail about that Montana case, from George Will.
Three Montana corporations sued to bring the state into conformity with Citizens United by overturning a 100-year-old state law, passed when copper and other corporations supposedly held sway, that bans all corporate political spending. The state’s Supreme Court refused to do this, citing Montana’s supposedly unique susceptibility to corporate domination — an idea amusingly discordant with the three corporations’ failure even to persuade the state court to acknowledge the supremacy of the U.S. Supreme Court.

May 30, 2012

At the Events Garden Café...

Untitled

... you could walk down the aisle.

"I can’t find it in me to remand him to state prison that houses people convicted of offenses such as murder, armed robbery and rape."

"I don’t believe that that fits this case. I believe that he has to be punished, and he will be."

Says Judge Glenn Berman, as he sentenced Dharun Ravi to 30 days in jail for spying on his roommate Tyler Clementi (who shortly thereafter killed himself).
[The judge] argued that the legislature intended prison terms to be attached to bias crimes that were “assaultive or violent in nature,” not invasion of privacy. 

“I also know his age,” Judge Berman added, calling it a mitigating factor. 

“I believe justice compels me to deviate from the guidelines,” he said.

"Walker leads Barrett 52% to 45% in new Marquette Law School poll."

Likely voters. Margin of error +/-4. In early May, Walker led by 50% to 44% in this poll.
The same Marquette poll that showed GOP incumbent Walker leading in his recall fight also showed Democratic President Barack Obama leading in his re-election fight against Republican Mitt Romney, 51% to 43%. The two were tied in Marquette’s early May poll.   
That's a big advance for Obama. Not surprising Obama wants nothing to do with the Wisconsin recall election.

ADDED: More here:

"Chicago distances Obama from Wisconsin recall."

Chicago? Chicago = the Obama campaign. Isn't that weird?

Anyway, Chicago wants you to know that the Walker recall business has got nothing to do with Obama.
"This is a gubernatorial race with a guy who was recalled and a challenger trying to get him out of office," Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter said on MSNBC Wednesday. "It has nothing to do with President Obama at the top of the ticket."
A guy... and a challenger... don't even say the names in the same breath as you say the name of The One.
Asked whether the recall showdown means anything for the November general election, Cutter told host Chuck Todd, "No, I don't think so."

Some Wisconsin Democrats and labor officials have privately groused that the Obama campaign has not sufficiently been involved in backing Walker's challenger, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. Neither Obama nor Vice President Biden have been dispatched to campaign on Barrett's behalf.
Not even Biden! What a gulf! What a vast, yawning chasm there is between Chicago and Wisconsin. Chicago, which sent busloads of Chicagoan union types up to inflate the crowds in the protests of yore.

"I must say this venture of mine into this Intrade market has been worthwhile."

"I have never really interacted directly with you wingnuts before, and the expression, 'shit for brains,' now has a meaning I never quite appreciated as much before now. Thank you for making it real for me."

A comment, just now, on the Intrade market "Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to win the 5 June 2012 recall election," which just hit 94.5%.

Hey, remember the new civility? The weird thing is: Tom Barrett (Walker's opponent) has made his main issue the prospect of restoring civility — ending what he repeatedly calls "the civil war." But I'm only seeing incivility from the anti-Walkerites. Walker fixed the budget, and (some) people flipped out, mainly over an issue that Tom Barrett doesn't even want to talk about anymore (because the clear majority of Wisconsinites agree with Walker).

Check out what happened over at the Isthmus forum (Isthmus is our local "alternative" newspaper) when Meade — responding to a guy who'd said "What do you know personally about the rest of Wisconsin? Little, I think." — said:
Tell you what, Mr. Henry. A week from tomorrow, June 6, if your guy Tom Barrett has more votes than Governor Walker - you name the place. Anywhere on Monroe Street. I will buy you a beer. And I'll listen to anything you feel like teaching me about Wisconsin.
Incivility ensues.

ADDED: Sorry about leaving out that last link until just now.

Obama's Poland gaffe — you know, it was a Poland gaffe that lost the election in 1976 for Gerald Ford.

What Obama said was "Polish death camps," a terrible misstatement, carelessly referring to the geographic location of the camps without noticing the implication that that the Polish people ran those camps.

What Gerald Ford said, in a crucial debate with Jimmy Carter, was: "There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe, an there never will be under a Ford administration." In a 1989 interview, Jim Lehrer asked "why did you say that?"

"It's capitalism vs. crony-capitalism."

"Romney: I’ll See Your Bain And Raise You A Solyndra."

Why did Bob Dylan wear sunglasses to the White House?

Caitlin McDevitt (at Politico) simply notes that he did, but we watched the video (over there), and this was the dialogue at Meadhouse:

ME: Look how emotional he is. That's why he's wearing sunglasses...

MEADE: He doesn't want people scrutinizing him...

ME: He's crying. He doesn't want people to see him cry. Oh, jeez, look at Obama. That smug look on his face... compared to Dylan... who is shaking and crying... [Blogging the conversation:] Did you say he didn't want people peering into his soul?

MEADE: No, I said he doesn't want people scrutinizing him. He's very expressive. He doesn't want people to be able to see that.

ME: Oh, I'm mixing it up with Bush and Putin. [Bush said: "I looked the man in the eye... I was able to get a sense of his soul..."]

MEADE: "Please don’t put a price on my soul... I know you’ve suffered much/But in this you are not so unique.... And if you don’t underestimate me/I won’t underestimate you..."

ADDED: And if you don’t misunderestimate me, I won’t misunderestimate you...

ALSO: What Bob Dylan said about Barack Obama in June 2008.

"A lot of politicians can go negative without losing too much altitude, but President Barack Obama doesn’t seem to be that guy."

Writes Glenn Thrush in Politco:
Obama’s sag — and it’s definitely more of a sag than a collapse — is a natural function of reluctant Republicans finally coalescing behind Romney, who clinched the nomination Tuesday night with a victory in Texas.

But the president’s enemies, and a few of his friends, think his in-your-face negativity, on display in his attacks on Bain Capital and a snark offensive that included comparing Romney’s statements to a “cow pie of distortion,” have produced a backlash among independent voters who have finally given up the image of Obama as a new-breed politician....

Nowhere has Obama’s slide been more dramatic than in supposedly safe Wisconsin — currently in the throes of a highly contentious gubernatorial recall election — where Obama’s margin over Romney has plunged from as much as 17 points in the early spring to about 3 points, according to Real Clear Politics’s average of the last four polls in the state....
Well, now don't blame the Wisconsin collapse entirely on Obama.  You've got to put some of the blame on the pumped-up protesters who stormed the Capitol last year and banged on drums and chanted for months, until they conjured up of vision of taking down Governor Scott Walker in a recall election. That delusive mission has flooded the people of this state with all manner of propaganda, left and right, and who knows what that does to the precious, all-important independent voters?

"Father's death made Obama realise he could do more with his life than smoke pot Michelle tells Jon Stewart."

A Daily Mail headline. Details:
On the Daily Show, Stewart joked that the stories about the president as a young man resembled the 'script of a Cheech and Chong movie.'

While the First Lady didn't directly address the claims in Maraniss' book, she did say that her husband underwent a change during his college years.

Mrs Obama responded by saying: 'By the time he was in college, like so many young people, he realised that he could do more with his life.'

'He had a mother that was always saying you're so gifted, you're so talented, slap him on the head, "get yourself together."'
Watch the clip at the link. After she gets that far and Stewart tries to push her farther, she says "I'm not taking the bait," and Stewart says "Don't worry. It's organic."

By the way: "slap him on the head" seems to take domestic violence as a joke.

Everybody's talking about cannibalism.

I'm just checking the front page over at USAToday, and I'm struck by the top entry on the "most popular" list:


"Police: Woman killed her infant, ate part of brain." Has the country gone mad? More of this bath salts, the new LSD business? No, it's a story from 2009, revived because... Well, I'm promoting it now, and if you clicked on it, you're pumping its popularity.

"Yeah, that’s just who I want helping me out with my legal problems. A guy who technically isn’t even a lawyer yet..."

"... and has absolutely no experience. Experts believe there has been a huge disconnect between the learnings in the classroom and what goes on after passing the bar."

Says The Weakonomics blogger who just had to find the right picture to illustrate his musings.

(Man, I have been working on that Federal Courts take-home exam, with my legal pad, my Pelikan fountain pen, my "Annie Hall" glasses, my self-cut bangs, and my lactating breasts since 1981!)

"New Jersey man stabbed himself, threw skin and intestines at cops..."

Reports the Daily News, where comments in the "That took a lot of guts" vein are accumulating.

Don't tell me... bath salts... the new LSD....

"The first of the three eyasses (chicks) to fledge took off this morning (May 30, 2012) at 6:59 a.m."

Here at the University of Wisconsin—Madison:



Thanks to kcom in the comments over here for pointing to that video. We — especially Meade — have been watching the hawkcam a lot, and we were checking it out at 7:30 a.m. We've seen them almost take off a few times, but the helicopter-like total liftoff in that video is truly cool. We'd have loved to witness that live.

"If you're over 70, you should be able to go and say, 'Just give me some diamorphine and I won't mither you any more.'"

Said John Cooper Clark, the "great punk poet," in this long and fascinating piece in the Guardian. The subject of opiates arose in connection with the years he lost to heroin addiction. He's asked if he misses heroin, and he says he does:
A lot of times I remember it as fabulous. But I can't do that and have the life I have. And I ain't gonna sink the ship just so I can feel a bit better. If I live 'til I'm 80, I fully intend to reacquaint myself with the world of opiate drugs. I think it's ideal for the elderly. It should be there for the asking.
In his heroin days, he lived with Nico — lived with, it wasn't sexual.
Ach, that's disappointing. He smiles and says that's everybody's response. "Who wouldn't like to think you were with one of the 10 most beautiful women in the world, official – and that was in the day of Brigitte Bardot and Julie Christie."

Did Nico ever make a pass at him? "Well, we were junkies so it doesn't really come up. It's not a physical world. It's just not a sex drug, heroin. You just don't get round to thinking about it." Do any junkies have an active sex life? "I've known it happen. Yeah, but not guilty. Ha ha ha ha!"
Here's a great documentary about the very beautiful and self-destructive Nico.

And here's an article about how hard the old folks are hitting narcotics these days.

Chagas Disease — the “new AIDS of the Americas.”

The "new AIDS"... and "[n]ew research suggests Chagas may have led to the death of Charles Darwin — one of the great medical mysteries." Doesn't sound so new!
Darwin wrote in his diary that he was bitten by a “great wingless black bug” during the trip in 1835. He died 47 years later of heart failure.

"In an embarrassing blunder, Romney's campaign misspelled the word 'America' on its new 'With Mitt' iPhone app, launched Tuesday."

Ouch.

"Serpent-handling pastor profiled earlier in Washington Post dies from rattlesnake bite."

WaPo reports:
Mark Randall “Mack” Wolford was known all over Appalachia as a daring man of conviction. He believed that the Bible mandates that Christians handle serpents to test their faith in God — and that, if they are bitten, they trust in God alone to heal them....

The son of a serpent handler who himself died in 1983 after being bitten, Wolford was trying to keep the practice alive, both in West Virginia, where it is legal, and in neighboring states where it is not....

And so they were gathered at this evangelistic hootenanny of Christian praise and worship. About 30 minutes into the service, his sister said, Wolford passed a yellow timber rattlesnake to a church member and his mother.

“He laid it on the ground,” she said, “and he sat down next to the snake, and it bit him on the thigh.”...

“I promised the Lord I’d do everything in my power to keep the faith going,” he said in October. “I spend a lot of time going a lot of places that handle serpents to keep them motivated. I’m trying to get anybody I can get involved.”

May 29, 2012

With "bath salts" — "the new LSD" — there have been 3 or 4 cases in Miami like the naked cannibal.

According to Armando Aguilar, head of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police:
[H]e said the people have all taken their clothing off, been extremely violent with what seemed to be super-human strength, even using their jaws as weapons....

In many of the cases, [emergency room Dr. Paul] Adams said the person’s temperature has risen to an extremely high level, they’ve become very aggressive, with logic and the ability to feel pain lost in their reactions. Some have used their jaws as a weapon during attacks.

Dr. Adams said the patients were in a state of delirium.

“Extremely strong, I took care of a 150 pound individual who you would have thought he was 250 pounds,” Dr. Adams said. “It took six security officers to restrain the individual.”

At the Rose Fly Café...

Untitled

... you can talk all night.

President Obama ties the Medal of Freedom around Bob Dylan's neck.

Photo.

Bob looks so old and frail! Also there and getting the same award but not shown in the picture: Justice Stevens.

"The UW's Teaching Assistants' Association has declined to endorse Democratic challenger and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who faces Walker in the June 5 recall election..."

Hot news! (You may have to wait a while for the stressed Isthmus website to load.)
"Through his use of Act 10 against the workers in Milwaukee [Barrett] has shown that he is not deserving of support of unions in Wisconsin," says Dan Suárez, a member of the TAA and a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at UW-Madison. Barrett made use of Walker's collective bargaining restrictions in Act 10 to increase pension and health care contributions for workers employed by the city of Milwaukee. Barrett has said he took those steps to avoid layoffs of public workers.

Wisconsin recall voters "shouldn’t be basing their decisions on recent job growth, which owes far more to individual entrepreneurs and chance than to anything the governor has done."

"They should be making their choices based on the things the governor does control, not on short term economic data, which are neither perfectly measured nor under the governor’s control."

Says Harvard economics prof Edward Glaeser, who looks at the controversy between the Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers and the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development numbers, which are being used, respectively, by Tom Barrett and Scott Walker.
One way to judge between the numbers is to look at alternative data sources and see whether they tend towards gloom or growth. The BLS itself provides an alternative estimate of job growth from its household survey, which is generally less accurate than the employer survey and suggests strong job growth between 2011 and 2012.  According to the household survey, Wisconsin’s unemployment rate has dropped significantly over the last year, and employment has increased by 22,000 between March 2011 and 2012, again not seasonally adjusted, which is closer to the figure Walker is promoting than the BLS’s own establishment survey.

"Will a Mormon president treat constitutional clauses as divine injunctions?"

"If so, what grounds will we non-Mormons have for interpreting with secular arguments what is presented as God’s will? For that matter, what right will the Supreme Court have to treat the document as anything less than a divinely inspired covenant? Does the First Amendment actually separate church and state, or does that not count, since it is merely an amendment, not the original word of God? But why, then, did a mere amendment change the first inspiration that made slaves less than full persons?"

Garry Wills, he's not anti-Mormon. He just has questions. A lot of questions. Can't blame a man for asking questions, can you? I'd say you can. This is an effort to smear Romney with some really silly insinuations. Why would the fact that the President is a Mormon — even assuming Wills states the belief correctly and Romney himself holds that belief — affect what the Constitution means, what non-Mormons will be able to think about what it means, and how the Supreme Court would interpret it?

In any case, isn't the belief that the framers of the Constitution were divinely inspired fairly common? Where does it get you... other than to profound reverence and dedication? What's wrong with that? The President is supposed to be dedicated to the Constitution. The original Constitution is structured around the existing institution of slavery, but what's the point of bringing that up? Wills is asking questions, not making arguments, which let's him be very slippery. He knows that the part of the Constitution that liberals care about is all in the amendments, and perhaps he'd like to separate the good part of the Constitution — the amendments — from the bad part — the part with slavery... and all the structural safeguards that conservatives would like to see enforced.

"Telling young people that some jobs are 'menial' is a huge disservice to them and to the whole society."

"Subsidizing them in idleness while they wait for 'meaningful work' is just asking for trouble, both for them and for all those around them."

Also: "The college-for-all crusade has outlived its usefulness. Time to ditch it. Like the crusade to make all Americans homeowners, it's now doing more harm than good."

ADDED: This idea of working when and only when it is meaningful relates to the women's movement. We were told that staying home with the children was unfulfilling and satisfaction was to be found in the workplace. (I've been reading the old feminist classic "The Feminine Mystique" recently.) If women are free to choose — that's what they keep telling us — and it's all about what fulfills us, then of course, work must be meaningful.

Wisconsin Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate commits a Class I felony...

... punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine.

"Democrats also believe that if they can keep Walker’s margin to low single-digits heading into the vote next Tuesday they can win it on the ground..."

"... thanks to their superior organizational efforts — much of which is being spearheaded by labor unions. As evidence of their organizational edge, Democrats note that early voting is running higher than expected — a good sign for them, they believe."'

AND: This, from Politico: "The Wisconsin governor is running under the radar in an attempt to freeze the race where it stands and limit the chances of a momentum-shifting mistake." Blah blah blah and then you get to this:
Walker’s approach stands in contrast to Barrett, the Milwaukee mayor who held open press campaign events at three weekend festivals and marched in a parade Monday. He accused Walker of trying to avoid scrutiny at a crucial juncture of a race entering its final week.

“There’s no question he’s trying to play out the clock and run out the clock,” Barrett said during a campaign stop at a festival in West Allis, a suburb 15 minutes outside of Milwaukee.
Is there any question that Politico is taking dictation from its preferred candidate?
“There are just so many questions that Gov. Walker refuses to answer. He refuses to answer questions about who’s paying his legal defense fees for his criminal defense lawyers. He refuses to answer questions on where he goes on fundraising trips when he should’ve been in Madison working on legislation. He refuses to answer questions, such as, ‘Did he sign recall petitions against Sen. [Russ] Feingold and Sen. [Herb] Kohl?’ The more questions he refuses to answer, the more people are asking themselves, why is he asking us to trust him?
Speaking of unanswered questions and moving on to questions of actual, central importance in the recall, Tom Barrett has never offered a plan for how he would deal with Wisconsin's budget.

"In this video, what is astounding is that Rebecca, the Planned Parenthood counselor, starts arranging with the actor about how to get a late-term abortion."

"To wait until her pregnancy is so developed that — and using Medicaid for this, using the state to pay for the ultrasound to determine the gender, and then to do a late term abortion if it was a little girl."

ADDED: Planned Parenthood responds:
"Within three days of this patient interaction, the staff member’s employment was ended and all staff members at this affiliate were immediately scheduled for retraining in managing unusual patient encounters...."

This spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Federation of America [said] that the organization condemns seeking abortions on the basis of gender, but its policy is to provide “high quality, confidential, nonjudgmental care to all who come into” its health centers. That means that no Planned Parenthood clinic will deny a woman an abortion based on her reasons for wanting one, except in those states that explicitly prohibit sex-selective abortions (Arizona, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Illinois).
Then why did they fire the staff member? I'm guessing the problem was that she colluded with the "patient" about how to extract money from Medicaid and services from the OB doctor in her effort to find out whether she was pregnant with a girl.

"A boozed-up driver tore through a 96-year-old woman’s Long Island house Monday..."

"... spinning such a devastating path of destruction that the stove wound up in the back yard...."

Great pic at the link.

Barney Frank — giving a commencement speech — makes a "hoodie" joke.

At the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, giving an honorary degree to a black man:
“You know, when you get an honorary degree they give these,” Frank said, tugging at the hood on his commencement gown, “and Hubie, I think you now got a hoodie you can wear and no one will shoot at you.”
The crowd did not laugh. They gasped. Later, Frank attempted to explain: “I have used the ‘hoodie’ line to ridicule the notion that a hooded sweatshirt is somehow sinister.”

"I lived my whole life in New York and never experienced something this crazy."

Absurd statement from a man who witnessed a naked man biting off chunks of another naked man's face, swallowing the flesh, and growling and continuing face feast after he was shot by police. 

Now, what is it about New York City that makes people think that everything happens there and they'll be seeing all manner of bizarre activity to the point where it would occur to that man to comment that, despite living his whole life in New York City, he's never seen anything at that level of insanity?

The "most popular" article in WaPo right now is "Romney's distortions about Obama do us a disservice."

But when you click on those words, you get to a column titled "Romney’s pants on fire."

The 2 different headlines go to such opposite extremes of phoney politesse and dopey childishness. Who writes that stuff... and what's the thinking about which attitude goes where?

I didn't read the attached column, though I did glance at the last sentence: "He seems to believe voters are too dumb to discover what the facts really are — or too jaded to care." I really identified with those last 4 words: too jaded to care.

"Their policy is to take out high-value targets, versus capturing high-value targets..."

"They are not going to advertise that, but that’s what they are doing," says Senator Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, "the top Republican on the intelligence committee," quoted 2/3 of the way down in a NYT article that forefronts Obama's professorly thoughtfulness as he takes responsibility for the "final moral calculation" in deciding whether to take advantage of an opportunity to kill somebody on the list al Qaeda kill list.
John B. Bellinger III, a top national security lawyer under the Bush administration, said that was because Mr. Obama’s liberal reputation and “softer packaging” have protected him. “After the global outrage over Guantánamo, it’s remarkable that the rest of the world has looked the other way while the Obama administration has conducted hundreds of drone strikes in several different countries, including killing at least some civilians,” said Mr. Bellinger, who supports the strikes.
The take-no-prisoners approach avoids dealing with the problems — which include, for Obama, political problems — of detention and interrogation. The NYT interviewed 3 dozen of Obama's "current and former advisers" and says:
They describe a paradoxical leader who shunned the legislative deal-making required to close the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, but approves lethal action without hand-wringing.
Is there really a paradox here? He has chosen not to close Guantanamo, but to make it a low-profile political issue by never sending anyone there, and to build his reputation as tough on terrorism by regularly blowing somebody away. The careful "moral calculation" in the individual cases isn't reexamining the general policy; it's about the risks of screwups:
“He realizes this isn’t science, this is judgments made off of, most of the time, human intelligence,” said [William M.] Daley, the former chief of staff. “The president accepts as a fact that a certain amount of screw-ups are going to happen, and to him, that calls for a more judicious process.”

May 28, 2012

Wurst Times... the other alternative brat fest in town.

The other day, I showed you some pictures of the People's Bratfest, the alternative brat fest. Little did I know there was also another alternative brat fest going on in Madison.
“We’re here because we support the recall of (Gov.) Scott Walker,” said Alyson Pohlman, 32, sitting at a table with a group of friends waiting for the band Halley’s Hoop to perform at the Wurst Times festival.

“It’s a wonderful spin on a Madison tradition, where we get to support and empower our values,” Pohlman added.

Brian Cislak, 62, was there for the same reason: “To gather with people of like minds who want to see Scott Walker recalled.”...

The Wurst Times festival...  sprang up last year along with two others as an alternative to the World’s Largest Brat Fest, now in its 30th year.
So there are 3 alternative brat fests, along with the traditional World's Largest Bratfest?
The World’s Largest, a four-day festival that runs through today at Willow Island at the Alliant Energy Center, has raised more than $1 million for charity. It became controversial last year after it became public that executives of sponsor Johnsonville Sausage made campaign contributions to Walker....
So where did the alternative brat fests buy their brats? Did they make sure the brats were made by Wisconsin workers whose employer's executives contributed to Tom Barrett? Are there brats like that?