September 15, 2012

At the Mumsy Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

"By sending — literally — brownshirted enforcers to engage in — literally — a midnight knock at the door of a man for the non-crime..."

"... of embarrassing the President of the United States and his administration, President Obama violated that oath. You can try to pretty this up (It’s just about possible probation violations! Sure.), or make excuses or draw distinctions, but that’s what’s happened. It is a betrayal of his duties as President, and a disgrace."

Instapundit demands the resignation of Barack Obama. (He also quotes a portion of what I said in this post earlier today.)

I read that right after reading this piece in The New Yorker, by Andrew Marantz, analyzing the movie "The Innocence of Muslims."
The video is crude, both aesthetically and ideologically.... Some have compared its director... to Theo van Gogh, the Dutch provocateur who was murdered in retaliation for a short film he made. Van Gogh’s film was bad in many ways, but at least it strove for political and artistic merit....
You see where that's going. A commenter there — Gudmundsdottir — said it well:
I love the continued focus on this idiot as if he has ANYTHING to answer to. He is an American citizen, therefore he has the right to say much worse about "the prophet" Muhammad, "the son of god" Jesus Christ and any other "god" or "prohpet" that he wants to. The American media, predictably, is acting as if this man has something to answer for (or answer to). Good video or not, effective video or not, offensive video or not, untruthful video or not, this man has NOTHING to answer for. Anyone who claims otherwise is an enemy of America, because they are an enemy of the First Amendment (which is what makes America America). This man may have to face civil action from the actors or other participants in the film, but that is a side matter. The film in and of itself is not anything he owes anyone an explanation for.
This is similar to what we were talking about in my 8:55 a.m. post "The Invisible Man." Mark O said:
How is this not an assault on the First Amendment? Who cares how bad the movie was? Do any but the obsessed believe the movie is the reason for the killing? If it is, then so what? Our response should be to champion our freedom, not pander to the mob.
And I said:
If bad movies aren't protected:

1. The vast majority of movies are not protected.

2. The legal authorities will have to distinguish good from bad.
Imagine if you had to make a good movie or a well-written book to have the freedom to disseminate it. What power the critics would have! They could be expert witnesses at our blasphemy trials.

"90% of everything is crud," said Theodore Sturgeon. It's Sturgeon's Law... to which I humbly offer the Althouse Corollary:

If there's a crud exception to freedom, we are only 10% free.

"Nipplegate: The Exciting Conclusion."

"Huzzah! Facebook reversed the ban on our cartoon!" — writes Robert Mankoff in and of The New Yorker. Facebook censored a cartoon that appeared in The New Yorker. Too much tit! But it's okay now. It was The New Yorker. Come on!

On the Capitol Square, today in Madison...

A Farmers Market day...


No protesters around the Hans Christian Heg statue. The sun is shining on the strings of peppers, and everyone seems pretty happy.


Around on the State Street side of the Square, there was protest activity...


... of a tired, embarrassing kind.

Kindle Paperwhite...

... has what I've most wanted (and not yet found) in a Kindle: "Crisp, dark text against a brilliant white background." I haven't seen that yet, but it's enough to make me buy another Kindle... especially considering that Kindles are weirdly cheap, in this case, $119.  Also: "New Time to Read feature uses your reading speed to let you know when you'll finish your chapter." (Note: I get a percentage if you buy yours at that link... or buy anything after you enter Amazon through that link.)

"Obama Polishes His 'Regular Guy' Image With Beer."

NPR chooses a good Saturday to polish Obama's image with a puff piece about the President and beer. 
Polls show President Obama has been winning that likeability contest. And he's been raising a lot of frosty mugs on the campaign trail, hoping to press his advantage over the teetotaling Mitt Romney.

The strategy could come to a head in the swing state of Colorado.

As President Obama was holding an outdoor campaign rally in Golden this past week, the signature smell of beer brewing washed over the audience, a reminder of the nearby Coors brewery.
Did anything else happen this past week? Anything relevant to the election? I mean, more relevant that that Obama drinks beer and the White House has its own homebrew with "a secret recipe [that] was just declassified with a video on the White House website."
The White House beer is flavored with honey from the first lady's beehive....
Speaking of teetotaling Mitt Romney, the beehive is an important symbol to Mormons (and Masons):

When a Dane County Judge throws out the Wisconsin collective bargaining reform law, should progressives or conservatives celebrate?

It's not obvious, though the protesters at the Capitol yesterday — they were there to support the Chicago teachers strike — exulted at the news.

If you step back for the long view — like between now and November 6th — and consider the near certainty that the decision will be reversed on appeal, the spectacle of liberal judicial activism is good for the conservative cause.

(Here's some info on the case, if you're not familiar with it.)

Who gets free school dinner in Madison, Wisconsin?

"Unlike the lunch program, eligibility for a free dinner is based on whether the school qualifies for the program based on school poverty rates, rather than the income level of an individual student. So any student participating in an eligible after-school program can eat the dinner meal for free."
Eligible schools for the dinner program must have at least 50 percent of students qualify as low-income. In Madison last year, 18 elementary schools, seven middle schools and East and La Follette High schools met that requirement.

To be eligible, students must take part in an academically focused after-school program, not an after-school sport. Memorial is looking into setting up a homework club for athletes between practice and the free meal so that they can participate in the free meal.

The Invisible Man.

I went looking for the classic Claude Rains depiction of The Invisible Man. (Here's a nice variation, staged by a photographer.) Here's the great old movie.  The Invisible Man wraps himself up like that to get as close as he can to having a human face.

I went looking, because I saw the news today. Oh, boy... an unlucky filmmaker the feds dragged in. And though the news was rather sad, well, I just had to laugh. I saw the photograph.

This was a man who, unlike The Invisible Man, had a face. But we haven't seen his face before, and he's not inclined to let us see it now... now that he's at the center of an international rage-storm, and our government seems to want the maniacs to focus their attention on him.

In the comments at the earlier post, EDH said: "The picture reminds me of the 'Invisible Man.'" And I said I'd thought of that myself. And I wonder whether the filmmaker intended the allusion. He's a man of movies. The movie he's associated with right now is so badly made, but we don't know the story of the man who got caught up in that crude, low-budget production. We don't know that he doesn't know film, that he's incapable of making an allusion to the Hollywood classic.

We'll begin with a reign of terror, a few murders here and there, murders of great men, murders of little men, just to show we make no distinction.

"You start disputing my God, and you've got a problem."

Says a man the filmmaker mocks as crazy. Are the federal authorities calling on the L.A. Sheriff to drag this filmmaker out of his mansion in the middle of the night?

"How do our children see us..."

"... when we've been drinking."

A very striking Finnish public-service ad.

Authorites in Los Angeles bring in a moviemaker to question him about that movie that offended Muslims.

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula (AKA Sam Bacile) was not arrested, the L.A. Times updates to say, after it published an article that began like this:
Just after midnight, authorities descended on the Cerritos home of the man believed to be the filmmaker behind the anti-Muslim movie that has sparked protests and rioting in the Arab world.

Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies escorted a man believed to be Nakoula Basseley Nakoula to an awaiting car. The man declined to answer questions on his way out and wore a hat and a towel over his face. He kept his hands in the pocket of a winter coat.
I'm troubled that a newspaper in the United States would publish this article without seeing the need to say whether the man was arrested. Now, we're told he went in voluntarily.

Apparently, he acceded to questioning because he's on probation, having been convicted of a federal crime — bank fraud. The terms of his probation, we're told, say he "shall not access a computer for any other purpose" than his work. This obviously makes him less free than most U.S. citizens and much more vulnerable to requests to submit to questioning about his speech, but the photograph at the link in chilling.

Gaze on that picture and see our government in a sad, shameful display, staged — presumably — to cajole the enemies of free speech into blaming a private individual instead of our country — our country, the caretaker of the freedom that allowed him to speak.

ADDED: That's a scarf wrapped around his face, not a "towel." Is the L.A. Times nudging us to think of this man as a "towelhead"? And look at this headline in the Daily Mail: "The man who set the Middle East ablaze hides his face in shame...." Shame? If I were imputing a motivation to this man, I'd say he has a fully justified fear of becoming a recognizable face.

But I think our government is delusional if it thinks the people who are rioting in Africa and killing our diplomats would — if they knew the facts — see individuals like Nakoula as the proper focus of their rage. They don't believe the necessary premise: freedom as the superior value. As long as they favor a system in which blasphemy is outlawed and severely punished, they will continue to blame the American government for standing back and allowing blasphemy to flourish and flow everywhere. What good does it do to ask them to please understand our system? They hate this system.

Meanwhile, our government would scapegoat a free citizen. It's not even effectual scapegoating.

September 14, 2012

Last night's lotus...

... animated by our dear Chip Ahoy.

(The de-animated original is here.)

"Call me Ishmael."

Or Tilda Swinton.

"Google will leave a controversial video clip about the Islamic prophet Muhammad on YouTube..."

"... despite a White House request that the company review it under its own policies, the company said Friday."
“We work hard to create a community everyone can enjoy and which also enables people to express different opinions,” a YouTube spokeswoman said in a statement. “This can be a challenge because what's OK in one country can be offensive elsewhere. This video — which is widely available on the Web — is clearly within our guidelines and so will stay on YouTube.”
Thanks to Google, a corporation, with stronger free-speech values than the United States government is willing to support.

"We believe the law is constitutional. We are reviewing the decision, but we're planning to appeal."

Dane County judge v. Scott Walker.

"I look pretty good, don’t I?"

What George Bush said to Ann Romney after she... oh, she didn't really see him naked! And he was only trying to put her at ease because she was so embarrassed.

At the Lily Pad Café...


... walk softly.

"American RW conspiracists and pro-Romney hate sites are all ablaze with the 'news' that Ambassador Stevens was repeatedly raped..."

"... by his assailants before they killed him. This is obviously false since his assailants did not kill him face-to-face. He was murdered, of course, but he died from asphyxiation by smoke inhalation in a burning building."

Discussion at Democratic Underground.

Jennifer Granholm on "The Dating Game" in 1978.

She's only 19. Introduced as "curvaceous," she's wearing suspenders.

Via WFB, which includes the famous clip from her DNC speech. The hair is tamed, the chest is conservatively bejacketed, but the wild eyes burn on and on.

Rolling Stone interviewer can't stop asking Bob Dylan to endorse Obama.

As summarized in Reason:
[D]idn't Obama change [the way with think about race]? And isn't it so that people who don't like him don't like him because of race? [Mikal] Gilmore takes five different swings at getting Dylan to agree. Some of Dylan's responses: "They did the same thing to Bush, didn't they? They did the same thing to Clinton, too, and Jimmy Carter before that....Eisenhower was accused of being un-American. And wasn't Nixon a socialist? Look what he did in China. They'll say bad things about the next guy too." On Gilmore's fourth attempt, Dylan just resorts to: "Do you want me to repeat what I just said, word for word? What are you talking about? People loved the guy when he was elected. So what are we talking about? People changing their minds?"...

[W]hat does Dylan think of Obama? Dylan first deflects with: "You should be asking his wife what she thinks of him."... Then: "He loves music. He's personable. He dresses good. What the fuck do you want me to say?"

Based on Shopbop, I think Obama's going to win.

Yesterday, I predicted the outcome of the election based on the image chosen by Macy's to illustrate its latest email. But if fashion-commerce email is my election prognostication methodology, I want to look at all the fashion spam. Today's email from Shopbop points as sharply to Obama as yesterday's Macy's email pointed at Romney. I mean, look at this image:

Now, these are not cheap clothes. The coat is $930. The dress is $650. The sweater is $424. Hell, the socks are expensive: $34! The homeless-looking hat costs $187! Shopbop is a business. They want to make money. But the image is poverty-striken. The wealth is applied for the purpose of appearing to be an artsy waif biting her thumbnail and gazing insecurely into the middle distance. Streams of money flow — like the Seine — who knows where and whether it's all to good use? Let's not think about banks as we lean against the embankment. We are children. We are dreamers.  We have hearts, we get sick, we cry, we dance, we live, we love, and we die.

Ironically, the rich-bitch equestrian-print shirt from yesterday's post only costs $89.50. Not only is it pretty cheap, but the price is expressed in that price-sensitive way that shaves off 5o¢ so you don't have to see the 9. In the mindset that loves Romney, $90 is too much to pay for a shirt. Yes, it's a dream that we have a horse-based lifestyle, but we're frugal and practical. We need a shirt, it has a print, and we're going to work and not spending too much money.

There's a distinct choice to be made, and fashion is showing us the distinctions.

The NY Post says a Samuel L. Jackson ad will say: "Wake the fuck up, Vote for Obama."

Why cover an ad that hasn't been filmed yet?!
“It’s definitely going to get attention,” said [Adam] Mansbach, who is writing the script for Jackson’s ad and said it would appear on YouTube on Sept. 24.
So, there's this step, where they say there's a line, but if Mansback "is writing the script," it's a line in the process of getting written. And you get attention saying that's what the potential line is and even outright asserting that it's going to get attention. It will get attention in the future, and you are getting attention now, saying it's going to get attention.

And you've tweaked the NY Post into printing the line and calling it "provocative," and everyone can react, and if the reaction is bad enough the line — the emerging, evolving, line-in-progress — can become something else. And then you can get attention with that ad, that ad that the dumb right-wingers vetted for you, and you can get attention calling the right-wingers dumb for thinking that would be the line.

And you know why they thought that and/or why they got upset? They're racist. You can get attention saying that.

"Married registered voters prefer Republican challenger Mitt Romney over Democratic President Barack Obama by 54% to 39%..."

Says Gallup (looking at June-August data):
On the other hand, nonmarried voters break strongly for the president over Romney, 56% to 35%. Marriage is a significant predictor of presidential vote choice even after income, age, race, gender, education, religiosity, region, and having minor children are statistically controlled for.

"The killings of the US ambassador to Libya and three of his staff were likely to have been the result of a serious and continuing security breach..."

Says The Independent.

Romney 48%, Obama 45%.

The Rasmussen tracking poll.

"Their Royal Highnesses had every expectation of privacy in the remote house.

"It is unthinkable that anyone should take such photographs, let alone publish them... The incident is reminiscent of the worst excesses of the press and paparazzi during the life of Diana, Princess of Wales, and all the more upsetting to the Duke and Duchess for being so."

Poor Hillary.

She traveled halfway around the world to distance herself from Obama reelection politics, and now — one week after the Democratic convention that she got as far away from as possible — she's stuck right in the middle of things.

"Secretary Clinton Delivers Powerful Religion Speech After Middle East Embassy Attacks."

That's the ABC News headline. Powerful Religion Speech. Really? Could you possibly just report the news and not tell us what to think? It's inane and pushy to characterize the speech as "powerful." Fortunately, we do have the text, and we can judge for ourselves how powerful it is:

September 13, 2012

At the Lotus Café...


... think deep thoughts.

"Why is she engaging in a disquisition on free speech with the mob?"

"The implication here that, perhaps the mob is right, that we ought to be suppressing anything that offends Islam...."

"Egypt, Libya/Madison, Wisconsin/Civil Unrest Is Best."

Just an old Wisconsin protest sign — photographed in February 2011 — with new resonance this week. I ran across that in the process of researching my "civility bullshit" tag in writing the previous post. In the comments to that 2011 post, somebody says, "Now that was rude..." — referring to the man with the "Egypt, Libya/Madison" sign who leans over to Meade and says "Get your head fucked." I answer the commenter:
And yet, somehow, I laugh, every time I hear it, and I've played it 20 times. It's now a stock phrase at Meadehouse.
I read that after replaying the old video and laughing once again at the self-righteous, lefty protester who leans over and mutters "Get your head fucked." Somehow that never gets old. At least not in America. I wouldn't laugh if I lived in Egypt or Libya.

"Voters think Obama would beat Romney in a fistfight."

Uh... remember that civility bullshit? No, of course not. That was some old joke from the past having to do with Sarah Palin, I think. She used the concept of "targeting" something. That was that. This is the idea of beating up old man Romney. Just pummel the guy into a pulp. That's hilarious.

"Sensitive documents have gone missing from the consulate in Benghazi..."

"... and the supposedly secret location of the 'safe house' in the city, where the staff had retreated, came under sustained mortar attack."
Other such refuges across the country are no longer deemed "safe."

Some of the missing papers from the consulate are said to list names of Libyans who are working with Americans, putting them potentially at risk from extremist groups....

According to senior diplomatic sources, the US State Department had credible information 48 hours before mobs charged the consulate in Benghazi, and the embassy in Cairo, that American missions may be targeted, but no warnings were given for diplomats to go on high alert and "lockdown"....

You can video the police videoing you videoing them videoing you...

... okay, now, finally, at last, everyone can video everybody...

It's like a Quentin Tarantino "Mexican standoff."

"I spent 10 years hoping that Randy wasn't trapped in that building."

"You don't want them to suffer. They're trapped in a burning building. It's just an unspeakable horror. And then you get this 10 years later. It just changes everything."

This is a handwritten note: "84th Floor west office 12 people trapped." And for 10 years, she'd had the idea of him dying instantly.

"Mindset of this dance is: Dress classy and dance cheesy."

Psy teaches Britney to dance Gangnam Style — because Britney tweeted that's what she wanted.

"But on Tuesday, Mr. Smith’s final message was 'gunfire'..."

"Then he disconnected and never returned."
Survivors include [Sean] Smith’s wife, Heather, and two children.

I'm shocked, shocked to learn that the Harvard Law School Human Rights Journal doesn't want right-wing articles.

If you're going to expose liberal bias on law student-edited publications, you'll have to show me something other than a journal that displays lefty pride in its name.

What's wrong with a student publication with a political bias? If conservative lawprofs want to publish more articles, let them found their own publication or hoodwink tantalize law students to work their right-wing will. Or cut out the middleman and blog.

Live freely in writing... or die.

Lawprofs, whining about not getting enough of what they deserve — is there anything less likely to inspire sympathy?

"Ally" oops.

Obama didn't intend to say anything that wouldn't be appropriate to say.

Carry on!

Some fine Drudge juxtapositioning today — monkey + Sebelius and Lewinsky + some scary mysterious liquid.

Thanks to the reader who pointed me to Drudge right now. (Here it is, preserved in the archive.)

You have to scroll down to the middle of the page, where you find, in the center column, the striking face of the new monkey whose eyes direct our eyes over to the right-hand column and the face of Kathleen Sebelius, which — you tell me — either looks or doesn't look like the new monkey.

Scroll down further and there's Monica Lewinsky, who might write "a tell-all book," not that she hasn't already written a memoir. But that puts her in the news enough for Drudge to dredge up her picture, and who'd really care but — yikes! — what's that stuff in that picture next to her...

"Surfers ride foam-covered wave in NZ..." Of course, Drudge wants us to think of Clinton's semen. (Look! Lewinsky's wearing a blue dress!) There's no question about that. I click on the splooge-evoking link and get a much bigger shot of those "330ft of yellow froth"... those "overflowing flood-waters which whipped the murky-coloured waves into a frenzy, kicking up some eye-catching spray when they broke."

Whew! I don't know if I want a tell-all book.

In other news: "Monk Found Wandering Naked After Eating Hallucinogenic Berries..."

Email from Beyonce Knowles: "I don't usually email you."

Jay and I will be meeting up with President Obama for an evening in NYC sometime soon. And we want you to be there!

"Turmoil in the Arab world linked to an American-made video denigrating the Prophet Muhammad spread on Thursday to Yemen..."

"... where hundreds of protesters attacked the American Embassy, two days after assailants killed the American ambassador in Libya and crowds tried to overrun the embassy compound in Cairo."

Writes the NYT, where I struggle to figure out how they know the precise motivation of a mob. Who is conveying this information to the NYT? And even if we do know that it is that video that's firing up the mob, I'd like to know the source of the mob-members' knowledge of the video? Surely, they are not individually clicking on YouTube and watching it and deciding on their own how outraged to be. There must be intermediaries inciting the mob, saying things about the video to stir people up and set them off. Who are they? What are they saying?

Romney retakes the lead in the Rasmussen daily tracking poll.

Romney 47%. Obama 46%.

"When [mohel, A. Romi Cohn] circumcises an infant, he said, he almost always put his mouth on the baby’s penis to pull blood away from the wound..."

"... in an ancient part of the circumcision ritual, known in Hebrew as metzitzah b’peh, that is still commonplace in parts of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community but is rare in other branches of Judaism."
The city estimates that metzitzah b’peh is used in some 3,600 local circumcisions each year. The city’s health department says that, between 2000 and 2011, 11 babies contracted herpes as a result, and 2 of them died. This spring, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared that the procedure created a risk for transmission of herpes and other pathogens and was “not safe.”

So on Thursday, the city’s Board of Health is scheduled to vote on a proposal that would require parents to sign a consent form indicating that they are aware of the risk of herpes transmission when a circumcision procedure, or bris, includes direct oral contact.
Cohn is an 83-year-old Holocaust survivor who has performed the ritual 25,000+ times, free of charge, and, he says, without ever causing an infection. He says he'll go to jail before complying with this new regulation (which only requires informed consent — it's not a prohibition). He's sought out by parents who say things like "I don’t want a 99 percent job, I want a 100 percent job... I want [my son] to be fully Jewish."

If Obama talked like this in 2008...

... how can it be awesomely awful for candidate Romney to articulate his criticism of the present administration?

Video via Ed Morrissey ("I think that policy in Iraq and Afghanistan were perfectly acceptable topics for political debate at that time"), via Instapundit (FLASHBACK: Major-Party Nominee Uses War Deaths To Score Political Points. Yeah, but he was a Democrat, and black, and hence above media criticism.").

Can we get some consistency from the big-media pundits? Shouldn't the NYT, for example, have noticed by now that new media is dogging them, and we have YouTube? I mean, they've got to feel how it's screwed up the economics of newspapers. But to ignore the way they undermine their credibility — don't they see how damaging it is to the political power they clearly want? That is, if they want that power, they need to make sure it is not clear.

The more MSM lets their lust show, the less likely we highly selective swing voters will spend any time with you. You have to insinuate yourself into our minds, and you've triggered our resistance. We're turned off. Yes, the base loves what you're saying, but they didn't need to be seduced.

"Emanuel is a bully, stop Rahmunism!"

There's you teacher, kiddies. The one with the sign...
"Hey hey. Ho ho. Rahm Emanuel has got to go"

"Hey Rahmald Reagan, don't privatize public ed"

"Rahm Walker, go back to Wisconsin"
Etc. etc. The headline at the link — to the Chicago Tribune — is "Teachers get creative with signs targeting mayor." Do they actually mean to compliment the teachers creativity? I'd prefer to think they're mocking moronic teacherspeak: That's very creative.

Just tell me if it's good or bad, lady. I don't need you boosting my self esteem over nothing.

And teachers, you look awful with your crappy signs. Why, when I was in school, and we didn't even have foam board for signs, and we had to use oak tag, we knew how to measure the space, count the letters, use a ruler to pencil in straight lines properly spaced, pencil in the letters, go over the letters in marker, and then erase the pencil with ArtGum. You wouldn't think of doing a project without following the basic requirements of lettering. You people are supposed to be teachers. Letter your damned signs properly... and then we can talk about whether you're creative.

And could you comb your hair before you go out in public? You need to set an example for the younger children. What's the right way to ask for more more more? Not with a sloppy sign, messy hair, and your angry face. Let's see your please may I face.

Fashion predicts an economic upturn and a victory for Romney.

Interpret this shirt:

That's something new, selected to illustrate the latest email from Macy's. Macy's — and the shirtmaker, Ralph Lauren — are in the game for the money, so they've got to predict where the mind of the American shopper is going (and where they can make it go, with some prodding). Anyway, you read the tea leaves, I will read the fabric print.

First: Ann Romney! How many ways does that shirt say "Ann Romney"? 1. Horses, 2. Animals boldly emblazoned on on your chest, 3. Unapologetically rich.

Second: The 80s! This thing looks like it sprang right out of the 80s, the Reagan era. Put aside your sorry old sweaters, your poverty looks. We're going to strut proudly into the Morning in America.

Did you know that Time Magazine, just last January, ranked Jimmy Carter's cardigan one of the Top 10 Political Fashion Statements"?
In Feb. 2, 1977, just two weeks after being sworn in as the 39th President, Jimmy Carter delivered a fireside chat from his West Wing study. Carter, a peanut farmer from Plains, Ga., was using the power of network television to "keep in close touch with the people of our country, to let you know informally about our plans."
Your plans to depress the hell out of us. Thanks, old man.
What caught the attention of viewers that night wasn't necessarily what Carter said, but what he wore: Unlike today's era of hyper-stylized image consultancy, in which everything a politician wears is scrutinized, Carter simply wore for the taping what he had worn to dinner. 
Oh, really? What was for dinner? Ramen noodles?
He asked his TV adviser and adman what they thought, and they told him to look at the TV monitor to see for himself. While Carter would have myriad difficulties in the coming years, that early high point was purely authentic. "He was folks, and folks is in," a Republican insider told TIME. "I hate to say it, but from a purely analytical point of view, I loved it."
Folks was in. But not permanently. We got exuberance later.

"Romney Offends the Pundits: Doesn't he know he's not supposed to debate foreign policy?"

The Wall Street Journal editorial.
His political faux pax was to offend a pundit class that wants to cede the foreign policy debate to Mr. Obama without thinking seriously about the trouble for America that is building in the world.
Faux pax? False peace? Once you get started with the silent x, it's hard to stop, isn't it? Anyway, what was Mitt's misstep — faux pas — in making a prominent statement on a day of foreign policy crisis?

Was it "awesomely awful"? — as Paul Krugman put it, sounding as if he'd like to write titles for Judith Viorst kid's books. Was it exactly normal, another day on the campaign, chewing through whatever comes up in the news, letting people see how the challenger would differ from the incumbent, who's stuck handling whatever happens as part of his job? Or was this a specific and important occasion for drawing attention to Obama's instinctive apologizing for America?

Yesterday was a key day — perhaps the day — in the campaign. Convention bounce and the Chicago teachers strike were instantly overshadowed. There was an opportunity to go for the win, and Romney took it. The media noticed, of course, and sprang into such intense, concerted action that it was obvious that they knew it was a day to be won and if the other side was going to go for the win, they had to act quickly and ensure that their guy won the day. Shock and awe, baby. Awesomely awful, indeed.

September 12, 2012

"Ambassador Stevens killed at site with no Marines."

"The Benghazi consulate had 'lock-and-key' security, not the same level of defenses as a formal embassy...."

Sarah Palin says Romney "should be very aggressive, and he should be adamant in his attacks..."

"... on Obama’s record, which is so dismal, his plan, or lack of a plan of Obama’s, to get his out of these woeful times.... He needs to be severely aggressive."

I disagree. Romney has a confidence-inspiring temperance and moderation. It seems to be the way he really is and yet many people still experience it as phony and plastic. Don't push him in a direction that's less genuine.

Severely aggressive Romney? That makes no sense. It will make the moderate voters (like me) feel protective toward Obama.

At Bingo & Joey's Café...


... go ahead and make yourself at home.


"Since our founding, the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths. We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others."

"But there is absolutely no justification to this type of senseless violence. None. The world must stand together to unequivocally reject these brutal acts."

The full text of Obama's statement, released today. Refer to the full context and to the place where it appears at the end of a timeline of statements — from various individuals, including Romney.

"A Massive Explosion on the Sun, With the Earth Shown at Scale..."

And scroll down for a second great picture and a video.

"The attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens was planned by attackers who used the protest outside the consulate as a diversion..."

Say U.S. sources say, according to a "CNN Breaking News" email.
The sources could not say whether the attackers instigated the protest or merely took advantage of it, and they say they don't believe Stevens was specifically targeted. Stevens and three other Americans suffocated trying to escape a fire after a grenade was thrown into the building, a senior U.S. official said.
So it was not causally connected with the feelings-hurting movie?

Speaking of movies that are hurting the feelings of religionists...

The Weinstein Co. is taking precautions over the release of its movie "The Master" (in which Philip Seymour Hoffman plays a character based on Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard).

"Dead Ambassador dragged through streets, MSM furious at Romney criticism of Obama."

The media strains "to shift the focus from the Obama administration’s failure to protect our embassies and for its apologies (both before and after the attack on the Cairo Embassy) to whether Mitt Romney was wrong to criticize Obama last night."

ADDED: Ridiculous NYT headline: "Many Republicans Join Democrats in Denouncing Attack in Libya." Everyone denounces it! What's this notion that the Dems are all one and some but not all Republicans "join" them? I think they're trying to separate Mitt Romney as the one who isn't joining. The item ends:
As those statements [from various Republicans] came out, Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee, stood by his criticism that a statement from the American Embassy in Cairo condemning the intolerance of an anti-Muslim Internet video was tantamount to “an apology for American values.”
As if that means Romney doesn't denounce the attack! That's a way of flipping the problem, which is the Obama administration's insufficient denouncement, as if the murderers had some justification... which reminded me, on 9/11, of lefty chatter I heard on 9/11/01 that the terrorist attacks were provoked by racism in the United States.

"Rahm Emanuel Should Go All Ronald Reagan On Chicago's Teachers Union."

The most famous Rahm Emanuel quote is: “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” 
In this case, Emanuel has a unique opportunity to reform the entire Chicago public school system, ensuring that children get a quality education in a district where only 56 percent of students even graduate. If he is nimble, he can easily leverage this situation.

The students themselves provide a ready-made prop for Emanuel to announce that if the teachers do not return to work immediately, they will be replaced. Simply call together a press conference with out-of-school students standing in the background in solidarity, and the politics will take care of itself.

Spontaneous and non-spontaneous protests at the Capitol.

Here's an interview with the new Wisconsin Capitol Police Chief Dave Erwin, giving some explanation for the new, stronger enforcement of the rules than we saw under the prior chief, Charles Tubbs, who tolerated some pretty extreme protests activity in our Capitol.

Now, we're hearing about arrests that trouble those of us who care about free speech. The Capitol rotunda is an extremely desirable location for protesters. It's also a place that people use and enjoy for all kinds of organized and casual purposes. The center of the floor in the rotunda is a popular spot for protest singers and sign-holders and also — when they're not afraid of getting stepped on — for children who lie down to stare up into the dome. How do you manage these divergent and conflicting uses? Erwin says:

"Reading my testimony, anyone would get an idea that the person testifying is of a disordered mind."

Said Ira B. Arnstein, the crank, noodnik, and loser, who "for more than three decades he persistently sued the likes of Irving Berlin and Cole Porter, their publishers and their rights organizations for plagiarizing his own ditties."
[Judge Jerome] Frank went so far as to invoke Jonathan Swift and Friedrich Nietzsche in warning against creating a bad precedent "merely because we may think Arnstein is nutty."
The book reviewed at the link is "Unfair to Genius."

Drudge vs. Obama.

Take a look at Drudge right now. There is some terrible news, damaging to Obama's reelection effort, but Drudge has arranged everything, it seems, for the maximum damaging effect. I'll just extract that top left corner...

... but there's much much more. The main headline is about the attack on the embassy in Libya. Below that, in the left column, there's "OBAMA CONVENTION BOUNCE GONE: O 46% R 45%... DEVELOPING..." and then a picture of Netanyahu, in sharp focus, staring down a blurry, lip-pursing Obama, and this series of teasers:
USA and Israel in open feud...
White House declines Netanyahu request to meet with Obama...
'Schedule Full'...
Announces 'Letterman' Appearance...
Also in that column, under a picture of teachers on strike in Chicago, is Bill Clinton in front of 3 American flags. Clinton was — in Drudge-world — urging Floridians "to honor 9/11 — by voting." The American flag theme is continued in the middle column, with a picture of protesters in Cairo ripping down the American flag. Above that pic is a photo of a stern Hillary Clinton. Under it is a photo, presumably from a protest somewhere in Africa, of a burning sheet printed with Obama's smiling face.

That's the way the day looks, for the millions of people who check Drudge for that purpose. It's an important day for the Obama campaign. We shall see how well it's handled. Some people might say the best way to handle it is not to think about the campaign at all but to knuckle down and do the work of President the way it should be done, as if there were no campaign at all. But who can imagine that... I mean other than a politico who thinks that giving that impression would be best for the campaign.

"The US ambassador to Libya is among four Americans killed in an attack on the US consulate in Benghazi..."

"... President Barack Obama has confirmed."
"Chris was a courageous and exemplary representative of the United States. Throughout the Libyan revolution, he selflessly served our country and the Libyan people at our mission in Benghazi..."
Said Obama, calling the attack "outrageous attack" on the facility in Benghazi. "Chris" is J. Christopher Stevens.
The film that sparked the demonstration is said to have been produced by a 52-year-old US citizen from California named Sam Bacile, and promoted by an expatriate Egyptian Copt...
This is a "low-budget movie" that can be seen on YouTube. 

"Here’s a first look at the unlikely casting but uncanny resemblance of Jane Fonda as former First Lady Nancy Reagan."

"Alan Rickman plays President Ronald Reagan... The pic stars Forest Whitaker as White House butler Eugene Allen whose career spanned 34 years there."

5 entrepreneurial lessons learned from Bob Dylan.

A Wall Street Journal column — with no participation from Dylan, but not derived from lyrics:
Always have a passion for what you’re doing

When you are turned on by what you’re creating, you will recognize that the work is what matters. This will help you to get through the dark days, those times when you feel uninspired and dejected. Dylan plays about 100 concerts a year around the world. He no longer needs the money or even the fame or the acclaim to solidify his place in popular-culture annals. But clearly, this is a man who passionately believes in what he is doing.
I thought I found the key to the answer why he keeps traveling around, spending the evenings playing with his musician friend. I was listening to the early album "Freewheelin'" — the song "Bob Dylan's Dream." He has a dream where he sees his "first few friends" in the room where they used to laugh and sing together all night long.
With haunted hearts through the heat and cold
We never thought we could ever get old
We thought we could sit forever in fun
But our chances really was a million to one
It's now many years later, and he's wishing that "we could sit simply in that room again." He'd gladly give away his money "at the drop of a hat... if our lives could be like that." I think the Never Ending Tour is the closest he can get to that dream of being a young guy laughing and playing for the intrinsic fun of it, "long[ing] for nothin'" and "a-jokin' about the world outside."

You can call that "entrepreneurial" if you want, I guess.

AND: Here's Bob Dylan's new album "Tempest" — which comes out tomorrow.  And here's "Freewheelin'" — from 1963.

September 11, 2012

"What do you think it means if you don't like your friends?"

"It's completely normal."

"Men like their friends."

"We're not talking about men."

Dialogue in the movie "Julie and Julia," which is playing on E! tonight. Nora Ephron's last screenplay (unless there will be posthumous works). The question in the headline is asked by the character who is a blogger by night. By day she works in a call center dealing with 9/11 victims, which is presumably why the movie is playing today.

At the Fading Light Café...


... we are thankful for what we've got left.

A campus 9/11 remembrance.


"Clearly, there’s no one better positioned to talk ‘heartland values’ than Tammy."


"Professor Bill Clinton’s explaining stuff tour began here with a sober dissertation on the 2012 election."

Here, in Miami.

"If your freedom of speech has no limits, may you accept our freedom of action."


"Bad Little Children's Books."

"Dead Whales Can't Wave Back," etc.

Via Metafilter, where somebody says:
Maybe I'm overly sentimental when it comes to children's book artists, but this joke actually kind of upsets me. Eloise Wilkin, f'rinstance? A very talented lady. Her books were beautiful, other worldly, just a touch kitsch and weird but also very tender and real, able to perfectly capture both the emotions of an age (namely 3 or 4) and the era in which she was working. Try as I might, I just can never get behind such cynicism inserted into such otherwise earnest work.
Take a side. The lines, they are drawn...

"If I were Michael Moore and I were to make a film that was the No. 2 political documentary of all time, I would be on every network."

"I would be on Meet The Press, and I would be profiled in The New York Times, and I would be all over MSNBC. Instead large sectors of the press are refusing to cover the film. They are just pretending it doesn’t exist."

"Forty-one years after Germaine Greer issued her infamous directive, the ladies seem to have complied."

What Greer said, leading off this NYRB review of Naomi Wolf's presumably idiotic book "Vagina: A New Biography" was: "Lady, love your cunt."
To be sure, not every iteration of vagina pride represents an unambiguous advancement for the feminist cause. It is a matter of dispute whether Eve Ensler’s twee flights of fancy about vaginas that smell like “snowflakes” are really good for the sisterhood. And whatever Greer was hoping for when she enjoined women to “boast of…their venery,” it is safe to say that it was not “vajazzling,” the modern trend of affixing crystals to the shaven pudendum.

One might reasonably argue that the occasional outburst of snowflakery is a tolerable price to pay for liberation. But Naomi Wolf would counsel against such complacency. In her new “biography” of the vagina, she warns that her subject is in danger of being trivialized by its cultural ubiquity. The vagina, properly understood, is, “part of the female soul” and the medium for the “meaning of life itself.” In order to free female sexuality from patriarchal calumny, pornographic distortion, and some of the damaging myths of second-wave feminism, it is essential, she argues, that women reclaim the “magic” of the vagina and restore it to its rightful place at “the center of the universe.”

"The world tells Israel, 'Wait. There’s still time.'"

"And I say: 'Wait for what? Wait until when?' Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel."

If you try to catch up on sleep over the weekend...

... you will only make it worse.

"The most intense color in the biological world..."

"Iridescent blue and metallic, it literally outshines any other plant or animal substance in the world...."
The plant itself is called Pollia condensata, and researchers have now explained the material magic underlying its marvelous hues: layers of cells that refract light in a manner usually seen in butterfly wings and beetle shells.

"Structural colors come about not by pigments that absorb light, but the way transparent material is arranged on the surface of a substance"....
Structural colors....

"Angry protesters climbed the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo on Tuesday and hauled down the American flag..."

"... replacing it with a black standard with Islamic emblems, apparently in protest of the production of a film thought to insult the Prophet Mohammed."
The replacement flag read, "There is no God but Allah and Mohammad is his messenger."
Others expressed more general grievances about U.S. policy, chanting anti-American slogans and holding up bits of a shredded American flag to television camera crews in front of the embassy....

The U.S. Embassy said in a statement Tuesday that it "condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims -- as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions."

"Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy," the statement said. "We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others."...

It is not clear which film upset the protesters in Cairo.
It is clear that today is September 11th.

Interesting statement about rights. The Embassy did not articulate a right not to have your feelings hurt, though at first look, you might think that it did. In fact, it affirmed the right of free speech.

It carefully conveyed the distinction between the U.S. government and those who make films. The filmmakers have a "right of free speech." They don't mean to say that the right is a "right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others" even though the words appear in that sequence and in fact we do have such a right.

They're trying to say some people "abuse" their right to free speech, and that the U.S. government thinks that although there is a right, it's bad to use it in a way that hurts feelings that arise from religious beliefs — or as the U.S. government awkwardly puts it: hurts "the religious beliefs of others." A film insulting a religion doesn't hurt beliefs. How do you hurt beliefs?! You hurt feelings.

"The shorter the vehicle, the more difficulty engineers have in making aerodynamics work in favor of fuel economy, as well as interior noise."

"Cars like the Spark create an expectation, because of their small size, that they have superhigh highway fuel economy. But in reality they have the aerodynamics of a brick."

"Job Creation? 47% Trust Obama, 45% Romney."

That's terrible for Romney!

That's Rasmussen, by the way. If Romney people are finding that very depressing, here's Rasmussen's presidential tracking poll today, showing Obama coming down from the convention bounce. It's 48% Obama, 45% Romney. Yesterday, it was 50% Obama, 45% Romney (and Obama hadn't hit 50% since February 7-9). Now, I think the swing-state tracking poll is more important, because who cares how many more people in California or New York go for Obama? And there, Obama is doing better today than yesterday. It's 47% Obama, 45% Romney. Yesterday, it was 46% Obama, 45% Romney. Romney's really stuck on that 45! Anyway, margin of error, blah blah blah. Turnout is key, blah blah. The only poll that counts is the one on blah blah blah blah. Aren't you tired of polls? Or are you starting to love them? That Rasmussen! So accurate! So likely-voter-based!

"We stand with Mayor Rahm Emanuel."

Says Paul Ryan.

Could somebody please compose parody lyrics for the great political classic that we here at Meadhouse have never been able to get out of our head?

"Instead of helping resolve when, how, and where [presidential] popularity should matter, Merry treats the whole matter as sport..."

"... a game in which 'the rules … can be changed from time to time.' In a time of purported national decline, the last thing we need when exploring statesmanship is another game. Where They Stand provides a diverting and occasionally enlightening tour through the legacies of dozens of presidents. But those seeking to chart a course between the argument for polarization-as-greatness and the pursuit of shallow popularity will be left at square one."

The conclusion of a TNR book review by Michael Signer. The book is: "Where They Stand: The American Presidents in the Eyes of Voters and Historians," by Robert W. Merry. (I love that the man named "Merry" is inclined to make a game of it, and the man name "Signer" would like something specific to endorse.)

"A vlog about Thanksgiving squirrel, Mancow, guns, law school, commenters, and Madison versus New York."

Remember when I used to do vlogs like this? I'm toying with the idea of reviving the old format. Encourage me or discourage me. If you're on the encourage side of this debate, throw some questions at me — things I might discuss via vlog. If you're on the discourage side, feel free to be nuanced and to suggest some variation on the old-style vlog.

"I have said repeatedly that I intend to close Guantanamo, and I will follow through on that."

Said Obama in November 2008, quoted in a new item in Gawker, reporting that another Guantanamo detainee has died. No, not the detainee who was released to Saudi Arabia (for rehabilitation) and who, after "rehabilitation," went to Yemen to do leadership work with al Qaeda. The Obama administration just deliberately killed him.

This death in Guantanamo was one of the presumably more dangerous individuals, who were never processed out of the place:
Officials are still awaiting a cause of death, but we do know that this is the ninth prisoner to die at Guantanamo. Six of those deaths were the result of suicide.
If you keep people anywhere long enough, they will die. One way or another. Prison suicide, however, should be prevented, even amongst persons who are believed to be more dangerous than those we set free... and then drone-attack.

"To the people that kept us up all night by singing/screaming on their balcony."

"Your terrace faces 115 windows so you really did have the perfect stage. I'm sure you're keen to hear our verdict. 2:23 AM — 'Pinball Wizard'... Terrible. 3 out of 10..."

The U.S. kills an al Qaeda leader... after releasing him from Guantanamo.

It's a nice achievement for the Obama administration... except that the man — Ali al-Shihri — could have been in detention all these years, instead of contributing to terrorism. Exactly when was he released? WaPo says:
Shihri was captured in Afghanistan in December 2001 and spent nearly six years as a prisoner at Guantanamo. He was released to the custody of the Saudi government as part of a rehabilitation program for militants. In 2008, however, he decamped for Yemen and helped to revive al-Qaeda’s organization there.
The Bush administration released him. There's better detail in the UK Telegraph:

Bryan Garner defends the book he wrote with Justice Scalia against the attack by Judge Posner...

... and Posner responds to the attack. Posner's response begins:
Bryan Garner’s letter repeats criticisms by the National Review blogger Ed Whelan, a former Scalia law clerk who is the head of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, an extreme conservative think tank preoccupied with homosexuality (which Whelan believes is destroying the American family), abortion, embryonic stem cell research, and other affronts to conservative theology.
Why is that a good way to begin the response? Garner's essay ends:
Edward Whelan has demanded that Judge Posner run a prominent retraction and apology. That would be gratifying, since reputations can be marred by such a high‑profile literary rampage. But I’m not holding my breath.
It's a dispute about the methodology of legal interpretation, but it's devolved into something that seems oddly personalized.

September 11th, the 11th anniversary.

Beginning the second decade of annual remembrance.

September 10, 2012

At the Crosswalk Café...


... quit straggling.

"And I’m not suggesting that all stressed-out fathers should just get baked...."

"But for me, at least...."

"He is not Aseem but he is a storm, he is the nation's another Gandhi."

A protest chant, chanted in Mumbai, over the arrest of the cartoonist Aseem Trivedi, charged with sedition.
In one of his cartoons the customary three lions in India's national emblem are replaced with three wolves, their teeth dripping blood, with the message "Long live corruption" written underneath.

Another cartoon depicts the Indian parliament as a giant toilet bowl.

Government officials say that while they are in favour of free speech, there is a thin line between that and insulting national symbols....

"The growing middle class that is fast becoming Mexico’s majority is buying more U.S. goods than ever..."

"... while turning Mexico into a more democratic, dynamic and prosperous American ally."
While news about headless torsos, drug barons and illegal immigration dominates the headlines, and much of the Obama administration agenda south of the border has focused on law enforcement, economists say another story is one of roaring trade.

Dogs in the sunroom.

Joey and Bingo drop by for a visit.



Look at the photo Drudge is using to illustrate the Chicago teachers strike.

Is that too manipulative?

"Nearly two years after the introduction of the path-breaking plug-in hybrid, GM is still losing as much as $49,000 on each Volt it builds..."

"... according to estimates provided to Reuters by industry analysts and manufacturing experts."
Cheap Volt lease offers meant to drive more customers to Chevy showrooms this summer may have pushed that loss even higher. There are some Americans paying just $5,050 to drive around for two years in a vehicle that cost as much as $89,000 to produce....

GM's quandary is how to increase sales volume so that it can spread its estimated $1.2-billion investment in the Volt over more vehicles while reducing manufacturing and component costs - which will be difficult to bring down until sales increase.
Sounds like that old joke with the punchline "Volume!"

Words never used by the Supreme Court.

This should be a series, and if it is, this is post #1 in the series. This a word commonly used discussing Supreme Court decisions, but never actually used by the Court. The word is "vector."

My constitutional law casebook, talking about historical arguments in constitutional interpretation, says:
History may be perceived as snaphots, faded sepia photographs in the national photo album, or it may be thought of as a video, continuously running and always recording new scenes. History as "original intentions" or "original meaning" is static; history as "vectors" is dynamic. Thus, in attaching meaning to "cruel or unusual punishment" one might wish to ascertain the contemporaneous definition of the term. The pillory was certainly not unusual in the late eighteenth century, but surely it is now....
The word "vector" just came up in the comments to the fatness ≈ homosexuality post, and it struck me that the use of the word "vector" — outside of the technical scientific contexts — suggests the presence of bullshit. It's has that scientific vibe, but if you're not talking about something like astronomy or math or physics, it's probably an effort to make something seem precise and evidence-based when it's not. In math, a vector is "A quantity having direction as well as magnitude, denoted by a line drawn from its original to its final position." (OED.)

I'm pleased to see that the Supreme Court has never used that word. (The word appears in 2 places in the entire Supreme Court case file, but only because there was a party named Vector Distribution Systems in 2004, and a party named Electro Vector in 1977.)

IN THE COMMENTS: Pete said "I can't be bothered to see if this clip was used in the fat/gay thread but it seems appropriate here":

"I Miley'd the s**t out of this Saturday."

That's how you say you cut your hair really short when you are the creator of the hot HBO series "Girls."

"[D]on’t do me any favors. The last thing I need is someone telling me it’s okay to be fat."

Says a fat man, objecting to the following emergent dogma:
Telling fat people they ought to be thin is about as helpful as telling gay people they should be straight. It took many decades for the medical establishment to recognize that its “cures” for “homosexuality” did far more damage than the imaginary disease to which they were addressed, and that the biggest favor it could do for gay people was to stop harassing them. Fat people are still waiting for the same favor.
Let's bring in Ricky Gervais:

Obama — referring to Paul Ryan as "Jack Ryan" — says he didn't know Ryan was going to be there... but he did know he was there.

Obama was talking to Bob Woodward about the speech he gave last year in which he chastised Paul Ryan over the debt deal, when Ryan was sitting right there in the front row.

Ryan, who had thought the invitation was "an olive branch," said afterwards "I can't believe you poisoned the well like that," and, later: "What we heard today was not fiscal leadership from our commander-in-chief; we heard a political broadside from our campaigner-in-chief."

The interview, revealed today, took place on July 11th, before Ryan was chosen for VP:
"I'll go ahead and say it – I think that I was not aware when I gave that speech that Jack Ryan was going to be sitting right there"...

"It shouldn't surprise us that the role of American business is increasingly vilified or viewed with skepticism."

Writes the much-vilified businessman Charles Koch (in a WSJ op-ed):
Far too many businesses have been all too eager to lobby for maintaining and increasing subsidies and mandates paid by taxpayers and consumers. This growing partnership between business and government is a destructive force, undermining not just our economy and our political system, but the very foundations of our culture....

To end cronyism we must end government's ability to dole out favors and rig the market. Far too many well-connected businesses are feeding at the federal trough. By addressing corporate welfare as well as other forms of welfare, we would add a whole new level of understanding to the notion of entitlement reform.

September 9, 2012

At the Wingra Café...


... it's a calm, mellow place.

Biking down by Lake Wingra, we encounter some kind of political polka...

Romney on "Meet the Press."

Video here. Transcript here. Romney's performance, responding to tough (but nice) questioning by David Gregory, made me think Romney would appeal to moderate voters when he goes up against Obama in the debates. There are a lot of similarities between the 2 men, in that both seem rather low-key and temperate.

I wanted to highlight the discussion of Mormons:
GREGORY:  I want to ask you something a little bit more personal.  You-- you both are guarded about in your faith.  You talked more about it in the course of the convention.  We came across a-- a quote from a biography written about your father in 1968 and he said about being a Mormon, "I’m a member of a religion that is among the most persecuted minority groups in our history."  And here you are, the First Mormon to be the nominee of the Republican Party, you could be the first Mormon president.  I wonder how much pride that gives you, how much pride you think it gives others in the church?  Is it similar to what many Catholics felt with President Kennedy?

"Rosary rallies" at the Wisconsin Capital are partisan politics....

... according to some partisans of the side that is not the one the reciters of Catholic prayers are supposedly partisan for.

Dr. Helen wonders "if men are going Galt, staying home and collecting unemployment or no longer need jobs because they don’t get married as often?"

"Or is it that they just can’t get a job because the industries they work in are no longer hiring? Could the Obama administration also be part of the problem, focusing only on women’s jobs and not on those of men? Or a combination of these. What do you think?"

On that point about the Obama administration's focus on women's jobs, remember that Obama's original idea was to have a stimulus that would produce jobs for men — who "need to do something that fits with how they define themselves as men":
As the room chewed over the non-PC phrase “women’s work,” trying to square the senator’s point with their analytical models, [Alan] Krueger—who was chief economist at the Department of Labor in the mid-1990s at the tender age of thirty-four—sat there silently, thinking that in all his years of studying men and muscle, he had never used that term. But Obama was right. Krueger wondered how his latest research on happiness and well-being might take into account what Obama had put his finger on: that work is identity, that men like to build, to have something to show for their sweat and toil.

“Infrastructure,” he blurted out. “Rebuilding infrastructure.”
And then what happened? How was Obama — with his concern about manhood — swallowed up and enfolded within the Party of Women?

Interesting to see his desire to build masculine pride by giving men things to build, because men like to build... and now, in 2012, to find him bumbling and mumbling things like "You didn't build that."

Well, we — or they, the men — didn't build that if that is the infrastructure, the roads and bridges you were talking about. (Remember the big roads-and-bridges theme of September 2011?) And — I wish I had a searchable text of everything said from the stage last week — did anyone even mention roads and bridges at the Democratic Convention?

"It was kind of like a waterslide... But like the waterslide was like very, very steep and went about 20 miles an hour."

14-year-old boy sucked into a storm sewer pipe.
Jeffrey said he held his breath for what felt like two minutes, as his body flipped around in the pipe. "I was face first, then I was feet first, and then I was side first".... The water eventually became waist-deep. And Jeffrey said he grabbed a handle along the wall in the sewer.

"I just grabbed it and I heard people: 'Jeff, Jefff, Jefffffffff," and I saw a light and I'm like 'Oh my God. Thank you, Jesus," he said.
He was in there, traveling a quarter mile, through multiple pipes, for about 40 minutes, half of that time before knowing the rescuers had located him.

"In 1966, a ragtag rock band in Wisconsin called The Benders recorded an original song, 'Can't Tame Me,' at a tiny studio."

"... Long story short, single copies of the record in the original picture sleeve have sold for as much as $2,000 on the online market. That's more than it cost to press all the records back in the day."
"How it ever got to that status is beyond me. There's guys out there collecting all this old obscure rock 'n' roll," said Paul Barry, who co-wrote the song and was lead vocalist and drummer.

"Biking with kids is all the rage in Portland these days, but biking with six kids between the ages of 2 and 11?"

"That's something I never would have thought possible before I met southeast Portland resident Emily Finch." "My kids have forgotten what it's like to even be in a car."
She's also the stay at home wife of a neurologist, so she can afford the time (and perhaps more importantly, neighborhood) to make this work.

Well, yeah. It does strike me as something, perhaps counter intuitively, that she can indulge as a result of privilege. In this day and age, just intentionally having six children may be a way of utilizing one's surplus prosperity. People without often go through great lengths to avoid such a burden.

"Your whole world is just going to be a mystery instead of an exciting place," if you don't believe in evolution.

Says Bill Nye ("the science guy"), arguing that children must be taught evolution as a fundamental truth.
Evolution is the fundamental idea in all of life science, in all of biology. It's like, it's very much analogous to trying to do geology without believing in tectonic plates. You're just not going to get the right answer....

Your world just becomes fantastically complicated when you don't believe in evolution. I mean, here are these ancient dinosaur bones or fossils, here is radioactivity, here are distant stars that are just like our star but they're at a different point in their lifecycle. The idea of deep time, of this billions of years, explains so much of the world around us. If you try to ignore that, your world view just becomes crazy, just untenable, itself inconsistent.
Video at link, via Metafilter, which links to this response from the Creation Museum. The world becomes fantastically complicated if you do believe in evolution....

Nye is good on the subject of understanding science and the importance of science, but he dips into the stuff of religion when promotes science for the purpose of exciting us, dispelling mystery, and avoiding feeling crazy. These are the very psychological needs that religion serves quite well for great numbers of human individuals. When Nye proffers science for these purposes, he is promoting it as a religion substitute. Did he even notice he was doing that?!

"Jeff Bezos And The End of PowerPoint As We Know It."

"Bezos told the story behind the new products in images and text. I’ve discussed this technique before in more detail but in short, it’s called Picture Superiority."
It simply means that the brain processes information more effectively when the information is presented in pictures and words instead of words alone. Neuroscientists have also found that when a slide (or advertisement) contains pictures and words, it’s best to have the picture on the left side of the page or slide and words on the right. This is exactly what Bezos did for a majority of his slides....

"Having made the greatest legal blunder of the 20th century, he’s trying to blame it on a dead man."

A pithy pushback, from Alan Dershowitz to Christopher Darden, the erstwhile prosecutor who thought it was a good idea to ask O.J. Simpson to put on that glove.

The dead man is Johnnie Cochran:

Obama 49%, Romney 45%/Obama 46%, Romney 45%.

The first set of numbers is the general presidential tracking poll. The second is restricted to 11 swing states (with 146 electoral votes).

Romney's number is the same in both places, and Obama snags an extra 3% when you look at the whole country. In the general group, there are 6% that go to neither candidate, and that's evenly divided between undecideds and people who are voting for some other candidate. In the swing states, you've got 9% who aren't (yet) going for Obama or Romney, and within this group 4% go to some other candidate and 5% are undecided.

The Romney/Ryan decision to fight hard in Wisconsin.

A Republican presidential candidate hasn't won here since Reagan beat Mondale (in 1984), but Republicans have won the governorship twice in the last 2 years — there was a recall election — and they won the last Senate race and are on track to pick up the other Senate seat. And so we are about to get all the TV ads and so forth that recognize our status as a true battleground state.

Mary Spicuzza has some good detail here:
"There’s something going on in Wisconsin. The grass-roots army that we have built in Wisconsin, they’re crushing it out there," said Rick Wiley, political director of the Republican National Committee and former executive director of the state GOP. "It’s a state that has truly turned a corner. It’s ripe."

The work Gov. Scott Walker and his supporters did during the recall could benefit the GOP ground game — political shorthand for the volunteers who help turn out voters and promote a candidacy — during the next two months.
It was a terribly foolish decision for the Walker haters to go for the recall, but I doubt if these people dare to look straight at the reality that they may be the reason why the GOP is able to get over the top in the presidential election.
"Walker showed that the GOP can come with a ground game, it’s going to help Romney," said Joe Heim, UW-La Crosse political science professor. "It has added to the enthusiasm among Republican voters."
And it has tired out the Democrats. But Spicuzza found an Obama spokesman — Ben LaBolt —  to say "The truth is the recall has had a motivating effect on our side as well." Okay, let's see how that "motivating effect" works against a "grass-roots army" that is "crushing it out there."
[T]he Obama campaign is planning frequent visits in the coming two months. Obama has made several stops in Wisconsin in recent years, during his campaign and after taking office: in Green Bay, Madison, Racine, Milwaukee and Manitowoc. His last visit was in February in Milwaukee....

[Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette Law School Poll] said the Green Bay and Fox Valley areas will be key. Obama did well there in 2008, but Bush won there in 2000 and 2004. He said Wausau and the area north of it, and the southwest corner of the state, also will be important.

"A Democrat cannot win the state by winning Madison and Milwaukee, and losing Milwaukee suburbs and Green Bay, Wausau, Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls," Franklin said. "When Wisconsin Democrats have won statewide, they’ve won those areas."
Again, the Republicans have that grass-roots army they built during the recall and they’re crushing it out there. And let's remember that Obama failed to stop by the state to help out the Democrats in that recall. He might have stirred his Wisconsin people up last spring, when they really needed him and he could have made a big impact, but, instead, he conspicuously disappointed them — seemingly taunting them by doing fundraisers just across the border. He only tweeted his support for the Democrat. Presumably, he kept his distance because he knew Tom Barrett would lose, and he didn't want to look ineffectual.

And speaking of taunting us, Obama keeps taking shots at the Green Bay Packers — e.g., “I generally don’t interact with Packers — except when I’m in Wisconsin.”

"Working to Romney’s advantage is the Obama team’s bubble of arrogance."

Says Jennifer Rubin, who speculates about the reason for the arrogance she perceives. Maybe the Obama staffers are simply "comforting" themselves so they can continue the difficult slog to the end.
But the public chest-beating is also the telltale sign of a candidate and his flacks who think that normal rules don’t apply to them, that Obama is so special they can defy gravity. The distortion is magnified greatly by the Beltway media whom the Obama team courts incessantly. The Romney senior adviser calls it a “202 area code”campaign, referring to the phone prefix for Washington, D.C. For whatever reason (a desire for praise, the delusion that media hold sway), the Obama team seeks refuge in easily spun media reports that will dutifully regurgitate its theory of the race. (And when not spun by the Obama team, editors eager for “clicks” online dream up storylines and send their reporters to piece together bits and pieces to fit the preordained narrative, regardless of whether it is an accurate representation of the race.) Of course, the Beltway media fixation ignores the hard truth that liberal Beltway press and pundits have never been less in touch and less influential. The quintessential example is Clint Eastwood.

Only 4% think the Supreme Court is doing an "excellent" job.

25% say "good," 39% say "fair," 28% say "poor," and the "not sure" crowd matches the excellent group at 4%.

The "good" + "excellent" total — with only 13% of that total being excellent — is almost exactly the same as the "poor" number standing alone. (29%/28%.) The "good" + "excellent" is less than half the size — 43% — of the "fair" + "poor" group.

If people are unhappy with the Court, which way are they unhappy? To satisfy people — and this was a poll of likely voters — should the re-balancing be done by Obama or Romney?
Democrats give the high court more positive ratings than Republicans and unaffiliated voters do. Most Republicans (61%) view the Supreme Court as being too politically liberal, while a plurality of Democrats (44%) says it’s too conservative. Unaffiliated voters are more evenly divided.

Men rate the court more negatively than women do.

A majority of Americans believe there are too many unnecessary laws in the United States, and there are too many people in jail for violating them.

Fifty percent (50%) of voters continue to favor repeal of the president’s health care law.
That makes it sound as though adding conservatives is what would make people — I mean, likely voters — happier. But I don't assume that. Maybe people would think better of the Court if it could avoid splitting down the middle and issuing opinions that make different decisions seem equally plausible and thus create the impression that a bunch of presidential appointees just voted for what they like.

Beyond that, the Court's work may produce happiness that doesn't register when the poll asks people to "rate the way that the Supreme Court is doing its job." That wording — the actual wording of the question — directs you to focus on the Court and think of craftsmanship. That won't measure the extent to which we enjoy the benefit of having a particular issue taken out of the realm of political decisionmaking or having it left in. To take the most obvious example, you might think the Court's privacy rights decision aren't well grounded in the text of the Constitution, but you're experiencing whatever benefits exist in a society where women get to choose when their bodies go through the process of reproduction.