November 10, 2012

"If you’re in the con game and you don’t know who the mark is … you’re the mark."

An old David Mamet quote, deployed in the second-to-last sentence in an article titled "Campaign Sources: The Romney Campaign was a Consultant Con Job."

The FBI investigation that felled Petraeus "started with two women."

The NYT reports that "began with a complaint several months ago about 'harassing' e-mails sent by Paula Broadwell, Mr. Petraeus’s biographer, to an unidentified third person" ("not a family member or a government official"). Checking Broadwell's email, they "stumbled across" her affair with Petraeus.

The NYT source said: “People think that because it’s the C.I.A. director, it must involve bigger issues... Think of a small circle of people who know each other.”

So who is the second woman? Not Petraeus's wife because, we're told, it was "not a family member." But there's a "small circle of people." What woman would Broadwell "harass"?

ADDED: "Associates of Petraeus had received 'anonymous harassing emails' that were then traced to Broadwell... suggesting she may have found their names or addresses in his e-mail."

At the Cirrocumulus Café...


... you can talk about anything you like.

(This photo makes today look bleak, but it was midday, sunny, and warm out on the bike trail south of Madison.)

"Obama seems to be a nice man, and that is precisely the problem... It's better to have a sheep in wolf's clothing than a wolf in sheep's clothing."

Said Julian Assange.

That stood out to me this morning as I'm trying to understand the resignation of David Petraeus, who — as discuss in an earlier post — "presided over a moderation of the CIA's controversial drone program to take into greater account diplomatic sensitivities, a shift that sometimes put him at odds with the head of the agency's Counterterrorism Center."

Daniel Day-Lewis voices Lincoln with "a high-pitched, wavering tone that has been likened to both a 14-year-old boy and Mr Burns."

People are complaining... but they're complaining about historical accuracy!
Harold Holzer, a Lincoln scholar, told CBS News: “Lincoln died long before audio recording was possible so we have no hints about what he really sounded like, except the reminiscences of his contemporaries. The most frequent things we read are that he had a nasal, high voice that somehow miraculously floated over large crowds.”
Day-Lewis said "said the voice materialised 'in my mind’s ear'" and "If I hear a voice, I tend to believe that I hear it for good reason.”

Here's a new trailer, including some of Day-Lewis's vocalizations. I don't have a problem with the presumably historically grounded high-pitched voice. But what's the point of going realistic about the sound of Lincoln's voice when everything else about the movie seems all theatrical and pretentious, including the lines Day-Lewis must speak with that voice? "I am the President of the United States clothed with enormous power!"

Petraeus is "an absolutely necessary witness."

Says House Homeland Security Committee Chairman, Representative Peter King.

Won't Scott Brown end up back in the Senate...

... if John Kerry is tapped for Secretary of State?

"Your wife is having an affair with a person you happen to respect. Why would that last detail change the way you respond to her cheating?"

"Do you admire this man so much that you haven’t asked your wife why she keeps having sex with him? I halfway suspect you’re writing this letter because you want specific people to read this column and deduce who is involved and what’s really going on behind closed doors (without actually addressing the conflict in person). That’s not ethical, either."

Said the NYT Ethicist, last July, responding to "NAME WITHHELD," who some people are now speculating is the husband cuckolded by Petraeus.

ADDED: I'm surprised to see the NYT Ethicist is Chuck Klosterman. I know him as the author of the book "Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto." Excerpt:
I’m having a crisis of confidence, and I blame Jesus.

Actually, my crisis is not so much about Jesus as it is about the impending rapture, which I don’t necessarily believe will happen. But I don’t believe the rapture won’t happen, either; I really don’t see any evidence for (or against) either scenario. It all seems unlikely, but still plausible. Interestingly enough, I don’t think there is a word for my particular worldview: “Nihilism” means you don’t believe in anything, but I can’t find a word that describes partial belief in everything. “Paganism” is probably the closest candidate, but that seems too Druidesque for the style of philosophy I’m referring to. Some would claim that this is kind of like “agnosticism,” but true agnostics always seem too willing to side with the negative; they claim there are no answers, so they live as if those answers don’t exist. They’re really just nihilists without panache. Not me, though. I’m prone to believe that just about any religious ideology is potentially accurate, regardless of how ridiculous it might seem (or be). Which is really making it hard for me to comment on Left Behind.
That's the beginning of an essay on the Left Behind series.

Petraeus fell because of the affair, the drone program, or Benghazi — which is it?

"Central Intelligence Agency Director David Petraeus resigned after a probe into whether someone else was using his email led to the discovery that he was having an extramarital affair," The Wall Street Journal reports, without naming sources. I selected some items from the article that relate to the time line:
It was the second national-security revelation to come to light in the two days after President Barack Obama won re-election. On Wednesday, the Pentagon acknowledged that Iranian fighter planes had fired on an unmanned reconnaissance drone five days before the election....

Mr. Petraeus was scheduled to testify before the Senate intelligence committee next week. Michael Morell, who was named acting director of the CIA after Mr. Petraeus's resignation, will appear instead....

Administration officials said the White House was briefed on the affair Wednesday by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Mr. Obama was informed Thursday by his staff and met with Mr. Petraeus that day. Mr. Petraeus then offered to resign. The announcement came Friday afternoon....

The computer investigation began late this spring, according to a person familiar with the investigation. Mr. Petraeus wasn't interviewed by the FBI until recently....

He presided over a moderation of the CIA's controversial drone program to take into greater account diplomatic sensitivities, a shift that sometimes put him at odds with the head of the agency's Counterterrorism Center.
Let's reorganize those facts:

1. Drones. Petraeus had moderated the drone program to make it more diplomacy-sensitive,  the head of the CIA Counterterrorism Center was not happy with that, and Iran fired on a drone 5 days before the election.

2. Benghazi. Petraeus was about to represent the CIA in testimony before Congress and now he will not.

3. The gmail account. This problem dates back to last spring, but Petraeus was only interviewed about it recently, the White House was briefed on Wednesday and Petraeus was confronted and pushed/fell into resignation in the next 2 days.

Given the timing of these 3 sets of facts, it's hard to believe Petraeus left because of the affair or the problem with his gmail. It seems much more likely to have to do with the drones or Benghazi.

By the way, who is the head of the CIA Counterterrorism Center?

November 9, 2012

"Because Romney made opposition to raising tax rates on the superwealthy part of his campaign..."

"Obama seemed to interpret his defeat of his GOP challenger as a referendum on this point..."
"And I just want to point out, this was a central question during the election. It was debated over and over again. And on Tuesday night, we found out that the majority of Americans agree with my approach. And that includes Democrats, independents and a lot of Republicans across the country, as well as independent economists and budget experts."
Is that the way elections work? There's a struggle right now to impose an interpretation on the election. One man got more votes than the other. We were put in the position of having to vote for one man or other other. But how does that translate into what we want on particular issues? It translates through the power-holders insisting on the meaning they like. We still get to fight back. The interpretive process never ends.

"I had been reading about the color indigo, how it had been introduced into the spectrum by [Isaac] Newton rather late..."

"... and it seemed no two people quite agreed as to what indigo was, and I thought I would like to have an experience of indigo. And I built up a sort of pharmacological launchpad with amphetamines and LSD, and a little cannabis on top of that, and when I was really stoned I said, 'I want to see indigo now.' And as if thrown by a paintbrush, a huge pear-shaped blob of the purest indigo appeared on the wall. Again it had this luminous, numinous quality; I leaped toward it in a sort of ecstasy. I thought, 'This is the color of heaven.' ... I thought maybe this is not a color which actually exists on the Earth, or maybe it used to exist or no longer exists. All this went through my mind in 4 or 5 seconds, and then the blob disappeared, giving me a strong sense of loss and heartbrokenness, and I was haunted a little bit when I came down, wondering whether indigo did exist in the real world."

Oliver Sacks, in his new book "Hallucinations," discussed in a nice interview on NPR today.

New Hampshire, the most womanly state of all time.

All female: the Governor and all the members of Congress (2 Senators and 2 members of the House).

"I wanted to see if I had wasted my time writing..."

"And I thought it was rather successful. At the end of his life, the boxer Joe Louis said: ‘I did the best I could with what I had.’ This is exactly what I would say of my work: I did the best I could with what I had. And after that, I decided that I was done with fiction. I do not want to read, to write more. I have dedicated my life to the novel: I studied, I taught, I wrote and I read. With the exclusion of almost everything else. Enough is enough! I no longer feel this fanaticism to write that I have experienced in my life."

Philip Roth, at the age of 78, having written one more book, and having just read all his books (in reverse chronological order).

Supreme Court takes Voting Rights Act case.

WaPo reports:
The justices three years ago expressed skepticism about the continued need for Section 5 of the historic act, which requires states and localities with a history of discrimination, most of them in the South, to get federal approval of any changes in their voting laws....
That is, the law applies differently to different states, based on their record with voting and race decades ago.

Petraeus's woman: his biographer!

What does it say about a man that he falls for the woman who cranks out the PR about what a swell guy he is?

It's so... John Edwards and Rielle Hunter.

The man falls in love with... himself!

An orchestra of outdated printing equipment plays Bob Dylan's "Times They Are A-Changin'."

Warning: it is an ad.

PRINTER ORCHESTRA from Chris Cairns on Vimeo.

Here's a video about making the ad:

Maybe you think an artist should hold himself above commercial advertising. I'm not especially puritanical on the subject, but I don't like to see the artist's most holy songs sold out. It hurt me circa 1980 when Orange Slice — was it Orange Slice? — used "Good Vibrations." But "The Times They Are A-Changin'" is not the most sacred Dylan. And it kind of always was an advertisement. And when I think what are his holiest, unsell-out-able works, I have a hard time. If some glue company did something with "Stuck Inside of Mobile..." I think I would laugh.

"Ode on Solitude."

Alexander Pope, 1735:
Happy the man, whose wish and care
A few paternal acres bound,
Content to breathe his native air,
In his own ground.
Whose herds with milk, whose fields with bread,
Whose flocks supply him with attire,
Whose trees in summer yield him shade,
In winter fire.
Blest, who can unconcern'dly find
Hours, days, and years slide soft away,
In health of body, peace of mind,
Quiet by day.
Sound sleep by night; study and ease,
Together mix'd; sweet recreation;
And innocence, which most does please
With meditation.
Thus let me live, unseen, unknown,
Thus unlamented let me die,
Steal from the world, and not a stone
Tell where I lie.

Petraeus resigns over an affair.

"After being married for over 37 years, I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair. Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours."

Imagine if this set an example for everyone, and every adulterer resigned from his/her job. Civilization would collapse, no? It would be worse than "going Galt" if everyone goes Petraeus.

It calls to mind the old "General betray us" ad, but he didn't betray us.

ADDED: Is the resignation really about the affair... or is it connected to Benghazi?

"Washington joins two other states that have passed ballot measures making same-sex marriage legal..."

CNN emails its projection.
After nearly two days of counting, the tally was 1,269,917 residents in favor of the measure and 1,146,439 opposed.

Isn't it heartening that $3 billion was spent on the presidential election?

Each major-party candidate's campaign spent $1 billion and there were also over $1 billion spent by outsiders to the campaigns. But I'm looking at the bright side, which is hinted at by the headline for the NYT article on the subject: "Little to Show for Cash Flood by Big Donors."

So much money is spent that no one is big enough to be big. Everyone — all the way up to Sheldon Adelson, who dumped $300 million into the ocean of money — is diluted into smallness.

More speech is the classic remedy for whatever is considered the bad speech in the marketplace of ideas. Think about whether more money can work as the remedy for whatever you're thinking is the bad money in campaign finance.

"After three decades of remarkably seamless career hopping — from Bain Capital to the Olympic Games..."

"... from governor of Massachusetts to constant candidate for president — Mr. Romney is now a restless chief executive with no organization to run."

He was heard to say, last Tuesday night, "I will not fall off the map."

"We are all the other now."

A paradoxical iteration of the "We are all X (now)" trope, which I'm noticing just now, on a morning when I happened already to have deployed the "We are all X (now)" trope. (What I said was: "We are all little fucking internet douchebag pussies now." Yes, I actually said that. There was a context to it all, and yet it's startlingly truthy out of context.)

Obama "must repair his badly damaged relationship with the business community, which overwhelmingly supported Mitt Romney."

"It’s doable. From avoiding the so-called fiscal cliff, to an overhaul of immigration laws, to tax reform, there’s much more common ground than the combatants could acknowledge during the campaign."

It's doable. But what do you want done?

Meanwhile, Mickey Kaus says: "The entire GOP elite seems to be trying to sell out en masse on immigration.
Maybe these people are convinced the larger GOP project can be saved simply by caving on just this one issue. That seems cracked.  The bulk of the Hispanic electorate appears to instinctively vote Democratic, and not just because of immigration. Maybe they can be wooed over to the Republican side over the course of decades. But by then there will be another wave of new, instinctively Democratic illegal immigrants (lured by the Boehner Amnesty) for Dems to appeal to. And the idea that the GOPs don’t have to change any of their other ideas if only they appease this one ethnic group (making up 10% of the electorate) is highly questionable....

Susan Rice to replace Hillary Clinton?

She's "emerging as the favored candidate" for Secretary of State.

"Why are people so much smarter at making personal decisions than deciding how to vote?"

Jaltcoh points to Bryan Caplan's discussion of self-correction, which keeps us from dumb decisionmaking in our personal affairs, but:
In politics, self-correction doesn't save the self-corrector a dime.  Voters who self-correct live under the exactly same policies as voters who don't self-correct.  The result is a dire shortage of self-correction - and reliably ridiculous policies no matter who wins.

"Young, pragmatic, Hispanic, just what GOP needs..."

It needs: George Bush!

George P. Bush.

"Why are Mexican troops up in the mountains of Sinaloa and Guerrero and Durango looking for marijuana..."

"... and why are we searching for tunnels, patrolling the borders, when once this product reaches Colorado it becomes legal?"

"Charles Darwin earned almost 4,000 write-in votes..."

"... against a Georgia congressman who denounced evolution and other scientific theories as 'lies straight from the pit of hell.'"

Bad science everywhere. The science freaks vote for a dead man. They get their minds around evolution, but not death. Darwin's dead. Also, he was never an inhabitant of Georgia or even a citizen of the United States. Can you criticize ignorance with ignorance? If 2 wrongs don't make a right, do 2 stupids make a smart?

When I voted on Tuesday, confronting many candidates running unopposed, I thought about writing a name in the write-in spot for a small fraction of a second, but I'd never make a joke out of my ballot.

I did make a joke to someone with in line, and then I felt bad about it. I was in the A-L line and Meade had to go to the M-Z line. The man ahead of me said something about alphabetical order, and I said "Just don't vote based on alphabetical order," and then I fretted that he might have interpreted my remark as a nonjoke, an imprecation to vote for Obama over Romney/Baldwin over Thompson, which would violate the posted rule against political discussions in the polling place.

"Is it surprising that the chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney's office wouldn't know her comments would eventually be traced back to her?"

"With all the emphasis DOJ puts on its cybercrimes task force, and its use of subpoenas and court orders to get social media and email account information about those under investigation, why would federal prosecutors feel secure enough to post under a pseudonym?"

The arrogance... the stupidity... If you're going to be arrogant+stupid, watch out for the idiosyncratic punctuation:
[T]here were multiple instances in which the online comments and Mann's pleadings contained an extra space after a closing quotation mark and before the final punctuation period. Other similarities included the lack of spaces before and after the dots used to designate an ellipse.

Understanding social media: the cop's "Cough."

In response to the Reddit query: "Where/how could an aspiring pot smoker such as myself buy weed on campus/near campus? I want to try it but have no idea how to get started at UVic, despite its apparent widespread use. Thanks!"

Via Metafilter (where the commenters seem to have a little trouble understanding what the cop was doing).

Are you vacationing in Aspendam?

Did you ever take a holiday in Amsterdam to get to the legal — legalish — marijuana? Are vacations like that now within a car's drive for us once-puritannical Americans?
That was very much in doubt Friday as the states awaited word on possible lawsuits from the U.S. Department of Justice asserting federal supremacy over drug law.

So the future of marijuana tourism in Colorado and Washington is hazy....

Colorado’s tourism director, Al White, tried to downplay the prospect of a new marijuana tourism boom.

“It won’t be as big a deal as either side hopes or fears,” White said.
He's got to worry about the rich folks who'll be put off by the emerging pothead milieu. It won't be a big deal? Noted. Disbelieved!
The home county of Aspen approved the marijuana measure more than 3-to-1. More than two-thirds approved marijuana in the home county of Colorado’s largest ski resort, Vail. The home county of Telluride ski resort gave marijuana legalization its most lopsided victory, nearly 8 in 10 favoring the measure.
Apparently, these resorts are already a pothead milieu.
“Some folks might come to Colorado to enjoy some marijuana as will be their right. So what?” said Betty Aldworth, advocacy director for the Colorado marijuana campaign.
Some folks. Some folks who are not the folks who worry about federal law, which is just there to scare the kind of people who feel intimidated even by laws that are not enforced.

But it looks like the feds might try to prevent the states from ending the state-law limitations on marijuana, which seems like the easy alternative to just enforcing the federal law. Legally, however, it's not easy at all. The federal government can't require the states to do federal law enforcement. That was established years ago after Congress tried to make local law enforcement official do background checks on people buying handguns.

"He will bring happiness in a pipe/He'll ride away on his silver bike/And apart from that he'll be so kind/In consenting to blow your mind..."

"Fat Angel," by Donovan (who wrote it) or The Jefferson Airplane (live, with oil-based light show) and even Orange Alabaster Mushroom (a rare find?).

Fly Translove Airways... Gets you there on time... a lyric that sprang to mind as I was reading The Lavender Café, where Michael K said:
I'm hoping to get Chicagoboyz back to posts about airplanes. Politics is a dead subject. The lefties have made their bed. Now, find a job.
And john said:
I think there is some early celebration of the med pot voting results.
He wasn't referring to Michael K, but to... well, if you go over there and scroll — which I don't recommend — you'll see a few things, which, as I said, I don't recommend. It was enough to make wyo sis say "This thread is either above my head or beneath my contempt. If I understood it I could tell which for sure." And john returns us to the aviation theme:
Does anyone else here read FlightLevel390? The best aviation blog around, and the site just got pulled off. I thought Tuesday was a bummer, but this is worse....
Flying stuff. Written by a pilot for a major airline (USAir I think). Beautiful poetic writing, gripping (really) tales of flying coast to coast, with regular dips into the technical aspects of flight and airplanes.
That's when Chip Ahoy — our fat angel, though I'm sure he's not fat — comes in with his pancakes made of "17 B-52's of milk," which doesn't stop LoafingOaf from calling him a "little fucking internet douchebag pussy," which makes it painfully obvious that we are not aviators. We are on the internet.

We are flying at an altitude of 39,000 feet/Captain High at your service...

We are all little fucking internet douchebag pussies now. What are you going to do about it? Go to Colorado/Washington, where pot has magically become legal... except to the extent it's a federal crime? You don't need that "med" modifier anymore. And you don't need a note from your little fucking internet douchebag pussy doctor.

When you make pancakes, "all creativity is disallowed. There are no variations to pancakes."

Says Chip Ahoy in last night's Lavender Café:
Homemade pancakes are like a thick batter. The batter will have milk and flour salt and sugar and probably vanilla. Extrapolate from that. Blueberries bleed and turn the batter a weird color. You can hold off and toss the berries onto the pancake after the batter is poured onto the pan. Very specific ratios must be followed. If the batter is too thick or too thin then adjustments are not allowed. In fact, all creativity is disallowed. There are no variations to pancakes. If you change one single thing, this kitten here get's it.

21 trillion eggs
17 B-52's of milk pasteurized to minus 27 degrees Celsius
1 light year vanilla extract
487 billion salts
18 pretzels
42 giraffes of green and yellow wines
bake for 400 trees and smash flat with a box of toothpicks.

Serves 81 for 18 minutes each. Serve with ratchets and propellers. Surplus can be frozen for 76 years.

I meant to mention, this only works for the little over half of you guys here who live on the planet were twenty trillion dollars in national debt is not a deciding factor in national elections. I heard you guys were here and thought, hey, maybe they'd like some pancakes bon appétit.
Bon appétit! 

November 8, 2012

At the Lavender Café...


... you can talk all night.

"Liberals, you should rein in the triumphalism."

Says the liberal Kevin Drum:
Obama won a narrow 51-49 percent victory and the composition of Congress changed only slightly. This was not a historic vindication of liberalism, and it doesn't mean that we can suddenly decide that demography will sweep us to victory for the next couple of decades. The plain truth is that although an increasing number of voters are turned off by what Republicans represent, that doesn't mean they've become lefty converts. A lot of them are still pretty nervous about a big part of our agenda, and we have a lot of work ahead to get them more solidly on our side. Also: No matter how much you hate to hear it, long-term deficit reduction and entitlement reform really are pretty important. Just because conservatives abuse the point doesn't mean there isn't something to it.

"Climate scientists agree the Earth will be hotter by the end of the century, but their simulations don’t agree on how much."

"Now a study suggests the gloomier predictions may be closer to the mark."

"You can’t have it all. When you finally come to accept that, it’s liberating.

"You don’t have to feel like a bad employee or a bad parent for not being able to do it all. As Al Pacino says in the Devil’s Advocate: 'Guilt is like a bag of bricks, all you gotta do is set it down.'"

"It appears Mitt Romney's campaign prepared a transition site in the event that he won."

Screen shots... of what might have been.

AND: Romney "was shellshocked."

"Via a psychedelic music aficionado acquaintance - Is this something you've heard of?"

A reader [ADDED: Hazy Dave] sends me this link and says:
As an old Audible Althouse listener, I can understand the appeal of having a friendly well-modulated voice in your ears (though I usually can't get through entire an podcast and I'm too impatient to listen to books, even while driving). But I guess I listen to music for the occasional goose-bumps or “bubbles in your head” experience. Listening to a young blonde whisper in your ear seems like cheating, if not outright pr0n... I may need to try this out with earbuds later, just to see if I get weirded out, or if it just seems funny, or what. "Unsettling" seems like a reasonable starting point, even (very quietly) through tinny office computer speakers.
Wow! I watched some of those ASMR videos, then went back to some Audible Althouse  — my 2005-2006 podcast project— they're all here [ADDED: or maybe not.] It really does seem like that ASMR stuff. Truly strange from that perspective!

This reminds me a bit of Glenn Gould's "The Idea of North" and my own practice of falling asleep and sleeping playing an audiobook, a book read by a man with a gentle voice (almost always Bill Bryson, David Rakoff, or David Foster Wallace).

At the first link:
If... you’re one of the people the video was made for—one of those people who experience Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response—you’ll probably find all six minutes incredibly satisfying, the video equivalent of a really nice, mellow kind of drug that leaves no aftertaste....

ASMR is a tricky feeling to describe, and I can only talk about it secondhand. From what I understand from conversations with ASMRers, it’s a tingle in your brain, a kind of pleasurable headache that can creep down your spine....

"President Obama’s post-election offer to sit down with vanquished GOP rival Mitt Romney has spurred talk..."

"... of a possible White House role for Romney, a move that could help calm jitters on Wall Street and warm the partisan chill on Capitol Hill."

"A man... has been arrested after he was found to be carrying genitals in his wallet..."

In South Africa.

It reminds me of that line spoken by Jimmy Stewart in the movie "Vertigo": "You shouldn't keep souvenirs of a killing. You shouldn't have been that sentimental. "

"Ensuring condom use on porn sets called challenging."

So the people voted for it, but who will enforce it? 
The passage of the law created an outcry Wednesday in the adult entertainment industry. Porn producers have long said consumers will not purchase movies in which actors wear condoms and on Wednesday, executives and directors once again threatened to move from long-time production sites in the San Fernando Valley to other California counties, Las Vegas or Hungary, Europe's center of adult moviemaking....

In a letter to county supervisors, the head of an industry lobbying group called the law "untenable for adult production" and said the group was preparing a lawsuit to stop it from going into effect on 1st Amendment and other grounds.
I look forward to reading the Free Speech arguments!

ADDED: Everyone knows that an ejaculation is a part of speech. Oxford English Dictionary definition:
The putting up of short earnest prayers in moments of emergency; the hasty utterance of words expressing emotion.

"This is the governor realizing he’s not getting the job done and finding someone to blame."

"Steve is a qualified, stand-up guy and to let him go over something like this is just outrageous."

"Mr. Loughner, for the first and last time, you are going to hear directly from Gabby and me about what you took away on January 8th, 2011..."

"... and, just as important, what you did not. So pay attention."
... Mr. Loughner, by making death and producing tragedy, you sought to extinguish the beauty of life. To diminish potential. To strain love. And to cancel ideas. You tried to create for all of us a world as dark
 and evil as your own.

 But know this, and remember it always: You failed....

Even amid all that was lost, Gabby and I give thanks for her life, her spirit, and her intellect, which are a continued force in this world despite what you’ve done....

Mr. Loughner, pay close attention to this: Though you are mentally ill, you are responsible for the death and hurt you inflicted upon all of us on January 8th of last year. You know this. Gabby and I know this.

 Everyone in this courtroom knows this.

You have decades upon decades to contemplate what you did. But after today. After this moment. Here and now. Gabby and I are done thinking about you.

"It was very hard not crying in front of him because he was already so strong, and I wanted him to continue being strong."

Said the father of an 11-year-old boy who was badly bitten keeping 2 dogs from attacking his 5-year-old sister, who was able to flee.

There are no more young naturalists, "because it's no longer allowed, no longer legal, to be a collector."

Said Sir David Attenborough.
"I openly admit that I collected birds' eggs. And I knew, I bet like you did, when the right moment was when you could take one, and the bird would lay another, so you didn't damage the population, and I learnt a lot.

"Now, I think it's in the ledger of law, if you wanted to be pedantic, if you were to pick up a feather and put it in your pocket it would probably not be legal. And not to be allowed to collect fossils..."

"A political narcissistic sociopath leveraged fear and ignorance with a campaign marked by mendacity and malice rather than a mandate for resurgence and reform."

Mary Matalin alliterates.
... destructive distortion, derision, and division....

Unfortunately and unfortuitously... human hurricanes... gratuitous gas-baggery... political pollution.
Mmmmm. Mmmmmary Mmmmmatalin.

Look how many groups moved toward the GOP.

Surprising! It doesn't add up to a victory, but there are clues in there about how the GOP ought to change.

Here's another nice graphic, showing how groups break down by party. Looking at that, especially the breakdown between people who rate the economy as poor/people who rate the economy as not so good/people who rate the economy as excellent or good, I'd say Romney should have pounded away at how terrible the economy is. Obama got by with his "it's getting better" theme.

"We need a third party to save this country. Not Ron Paul and the Ron Paulites. No."

"We need a legitimate third party to challenge the current system that we have, because I don’t believe that the Republican Party... has the ability to rebrand itself."

Said Herman Cain, who would like the GOP to rebrand itself in the opposite way from what I'd like.

I voted for Romney even though I reject the package of issues that comes marked with the label "social conservative," Cain's favorite material. One reason I felt calm and distanced from the results of the election in less than 24 hours is that I only wanted about half of what Mitt Romney was offering, and I agree with Obama on the other half. Making the best of what happened is, for me, automatic. I support gay rights and abortion rights, to name the 2 most prominent social issues in this year's elections.

The linked article — at Salon — is a bit confusing, especially the last paragraph:
After the GOP’s crushing 2008 loss, there was lots of talk about a new third party. When the Tea Party emerged, this talk almost became a reality. Instead, the conservative activists opted for a hostile takeover of the GOP. It’s still very unlikely that Cain or anyone else could start a viable third party, but his comments underscore the cleavage within the conservative movement in the wake of the defeat last night.
I thought the Tea Party was about the economic issues — taxing and spending. Do the social issues belong in the Tea Party? Well, apparently they've seeped in. Were Todd "legitimate rape" Akin and Richard "something God intended" Mourdock Tea Party? I didn't buy the "War on Women" demagoguery, but those guys made the GOP look really awful — at least old-fashioned and dumb if not deeply sexist or scarily religionist.

Can we get a GOP with sound economics and a commitment to individual liberty?

"Is this just math that you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better or is this real?"

Megyn Kelly asked Karl Rove — as hilariously/painfully magnified by Jon Stewart:


As the tags below indicate, there's some other material in that clip too. If you're one of those who find this painful rather than hilarious, I would recommend that you seriously contemplate the meaning underlying the humor. It's important.

"Advisers to Mitt Romney insisted Wednesday that they were surprised by the scale of their loss to President Barack Obama..."

"... while big-time GOP donors griped about the campaign’s unflinching confidence in the final stretch."
“They ran a 20th century campaign in the 21st century,” said one Romney bundler, frustrated that the campaign made assumptions about the youth vote and voter intensity that didn’t pan out. “The anger is that they were entrusted to do certain things. It’s not like they were paid a $5,000 retainer to get a few dozen articles in an inside-the-Beltway paper. This is the major leagues.”...

"There were a lot of Republicans who were on calls that the campaign was having led to believe we had shots in Pennsylvania and Minnesota,” one Republican operative supporting Romney said. “I think Republicans are split right now between confused and shocked, and also I think they are wondering did the Romney campaign have numbers we didn’t have.”

In starker terms, the source questioned: “Was last week a head fake, or were they just not that smart?”
Boldface added.

November 7, 2012

"Survivor" loser knocks Obama: "It's not even a million bucks, it's 600 grand by the time Obama takes it!"

Video from tonight's episode, so spoiler alert:

Voted out tonight, Jeff Kent, who — though he never revealed it to the other contestants — "won the National League Most Valuable Player award in 2000 with the San Francisco Giants, and is the all-time leader in home runs among second basemen.... Kent is a five-time All-Star and his 560 career doubles put him tied for 21st on the all-time doubles list."

What he says in the clip is "You know what pisses me off is I think I made about 60 million dollars playing baseball, and I want this frickin' million dollars in this game, and it's not even a million bucks, it's 600 grand by the time Obama takes it!"

"The California man behind an anti-Muslim film that led to violence in many parts of the Middle East was sentenced Wednesday to a year in federal prison..."

"... for probation violations in an unrelated matter, then issued a provocative statement through his attorney."

The statement, delivered through his lawyer was: "President Obama may have gotten Osama bin Laden, but he didn't kill the ideology." The lawyer professed not to understand the statement. That is, the man had a lawyer, and the lawyer held him at a distance. How hard is it to understand the statement? But it's dangerous to have such a statement sticking to you, and the lawyer acted accordingly.

"Listen, I like stopping by Althouse, but let's get real. Althouse and Meade are living a high-income, privileged life that many of us can only dream about."

Rants Jeffrey in my "time to stop talking about the election and have our lives be about love and beauty" post.
It takes a day like today to put all of that into focus. Cultivate your garden?! I've seen the photos of where she and Meade live. C'mon. Many of us would love to live surrounded by all those expensive toys and have the summer off to order a pile of books for the Kindle and take a few leisurely vacations.

The class (and income) issue rarely comes up here. I think it's about time we hashed this out.

As others have pointed out above, Ann's cavalier, gather-ye-rosebuds response is predicated on being financially stable for the rest of her life. She has the good life NOW and will have it till the day she dies (or almost).

Let me repeat, though. I generally enjoy Ann's blog, but today seems like a good time for people to discuss this issue.
I'd said "cultivate your garden" in a comment in that thread. It's a reference to Voltaire's advice in "Candide" — damn, I typo'd "candidate"! — where it's not just advice for the comfortably affluent. Here, you can put it in your Kindle — in English — for $0.00 — absolutely free. You can read the greatest books ever written and never run out of reading material — all free

And I have the summer off because I choose not to teach during the summer. I choose not to make more money. As for Meade's economic choices, you don't know what they are, and I choose not to invade our privacy by explaining the structure of the economic unit that is our household. But we do, in many ways, choose noncommercial activities over moneymaking things, and we take advantage of the wealth that we have built up in our lives by enjoying our home and the natural beauty of our state and our country. We buy a state park sticker for our car every year and county ski and bike trail passes, and we never run out of incredibly cheap things to do.

If Meade and I were starting our lives together and in our 20s — a topic we've discussed many times — we would put a premium on love and beauty and on maximizing our free time... and our freedom generally. But that isn't where we happened to meet. You may be somewhere else, and if you are, use your brain. Figure out what your values really are and what you should be doing with your life. You are not your job. You are not a slave. Think! Pay attention! Do something with what you have. Don't pester your mind with envy. It's perfectly idiotic to wait for the world to change into a form you like.

That's what Voltaire was talking about when he had his long-suffering character Candide say:
"I know... that we must cultivate our garden."

"You are right," said Pangloss, "for when man was first placed in the Garden of Eden, he was put there ut operaretur eum, that he might cultivate it; which shows that man was not born to be idle."

"Let us work," said Martin, "without disputing; it is the only way to render life tolerable."

The whole little society entered into this laudable design, according to their different abilities. Their little plot of land produced plentiful crops. Cunegonde was, indeed, very ugly, but she became an excellent pastry cook; Paquette worked at embroidery; the old woman looked after the linen. They were all, not excepting Friar Giroflée, of some service or other; for he made a good joiner, and became a very honest man.

Pangloss sometimes said to Candide: "There is a concatenation of events in this best of all possible worlds: for if you had not been kicked out of a magnificent castle for love of Miss Cunegonde: if you had not been put into the Inquisition: if you had not walked over America: if you had not stabbed the Baron: if you had not lost all your sheep from the fine country of El Dorado: you would not be here eating preserved citrons and pistachio-nuts."

"All that is very well," answered Candide, "but let us cultivate our garden."

"Allen West was quite a character to run against... And I’ll keep it at that..."

"... and hopefully that’s the last time I ever need to mention his name too."

Mia Love lost too, so last night was rough news for those who were stoked about black conservatives.

"I don't really care about politics. What I care about is how the pissant goings-on of political people affects the important things in this life..."

"... such as family, comfort, peace, security, art, beauty, freedom and happiness. And all of those things are further imperiled by last night's results."

Says Palladian, expressing something close to what I've been saying around Meadhouse since about 8 p.m. last night: It's time to stop talking about the election and have our lives be about love and beauty.

It's back to the House for Paul Ryan.

He ran for and won his House seat.

And what else? Do you see him as the frontrunner for the GOP nomination in 2016?

Oh! I don't want to talk about 2016 yet. It's time for a respite from campaign talk... isn't it?

Nate Silver got everything right, didn't he?

Steel yourself, people. Nate Silver is now a god. The Nate naysaying cannot survive.

Bow down, oh ye lowly questioners of the unknowable algorithm!

IN THE COMMENTS: Brent says:
Silver has won this fiscal conservative over. Having debated why Silver was wrong for weeks with my brother-in-law, I have conceded that Silver is great at what he does. It took balls to give Obama a 92% chance of winning, when everyone else was calling it a draw. Calling it a draw was a coward's move by the other pollsters. I believed all the conservative hype about turnout and over sampling of D's. It gave me hope and was easy to believe.
And didn't it seem as though Silver was providing that service to the timorous Dems who read the NYT?
Next time around, I am simply watching Silver's blog and considering it accurate. If he calls if for the other guy, I am not going to look for excuses as to why he is wrong. If he turns out to be wrong, then that will be great news for me. But it will be much easier to deal with the results in the end. 
All hail The Great Nate Silver!

"Most of the nation shifted to the right in Tuesday's vote, but not far enough to secure a win for Mitt Romney."

Caption on the front page of the NYT right now, under a cool graphic of the U.S. map with flowing red and blue arrows.

"Tonight is the greatest night in the history of the gay rights movement."

"Gay marriage is being legalized in at least two, probably three states, the first time ever in the US it's been legalized by a popular vote rather than by courts or the legislature. Wisconsin elected the first openly gay Senator ever. And, maybe most importantly, the first pro-gay president ever has been re-elected. Because of Obama's re-election, the entire Democratic party will be openly pro-gay marriage, forever and without equivocation. Obama has proven that you can be truly pro-gay and win, and this will have a permanent effect on the entire Democratic party. This is a major turning point for gay rights, and a great contrast to 2008, when we had Obama but also Prop 8."

My son Chris wrote on Facebook last night.

"I'm not going to go away, but I'm not going to run again," says Tommy Thompson.

Who seems to have said that in 2010 when he opted not to challenge Russ Feingold for the Senate seat that Ron Johnson went on to win. But 2 years later, when Herb Kohl decided he'd sat in his seat long enough, Tommy decided to run or saunter over what was an empty seat. It should have been really easy, especially with the Democrats putting up the most left of the liberal Democrats in Congress. Well, it wasn't that easy.

ADDED: Here's Tammy Baldwin's victory speech. Congratulations. I remember her as a student in my class!

The GOP recaptures the Wisconsin state legislature.

After losing the majority in the senate during the recall frenzy, they've got it back, as expected, and they retain their majority in the assembly, and the Governor is still, of course, Scott Walker (who cannot be re-recalled in the 2 years left in his term).

ADDED: Here's Walker's statement:
"[V]oters in this state are independent. They listen race by race to what the candidates have to offer. And they're not going to be swung one way or the other but rather by what they think is important by that given race."

Citing his own decisive recall victory last June, Walker said voters decided that his reforms were working "and we are providing good results. And they want more of that..." 


Hey! Thanks for all the comments on last night's election live-blog, from which I absented myself after a post at 8:04, noting the obviousness of Romney's impending loss of Wisconsin. I'd started the live-blog (at 5:12) saying "I'm thinking it will all be about Wisconsin" and "I'm Wisconsincentric." I really was.

I came back at 10:04 to say I was "distancing myself from the political fray, reconnecting to my old aversion to politics." And that's quite true. That's my instinct. When it's over, it's over, and it's been such a long campaign season. Time to stop obsessively looking at all the little numbers, take note of the one big number — 303 (or is it 332?) — and widen one's horizons.

What was I doing during those 2 hours? I had the TV on, and I was sitting back playing solitaire on my iPad (which is something I do when I want to listen without getting distracted into my own thoughts). I was calmly waiting for the inevitable to crystalize. I was adjusting to the new political reality in America.

I knew readers were having it out in the comments. Some were taunting and gloating. Some were telling us what they were drinking. There was an occasional "Where's Ann?"
I'm going to be very curious to hear what Althouse has to say tomorrow about her two-hour AWOL right in the heart of election night. Very odd, to say the least.

She always does this when she "live blogs", starts strong and craps out somewhere in the middle.
That last one was Palladian, who himself was away from the comments for a good long while (and who was drinking Ardbeg Uigeadail).

It's morning in Obama's Second Term America.

How are you feeling? If you didn't get what you wanted for Electionmas, how are you dealing with your disappointment? Me, I'm an optimist, and I instinctively look for the positives.
Tonight, more than 200 years after a former colony won the right to determine its own destiny, the task of perfecting our union moves forward.

It moves forward because of you. It moves forward because you reaffirmed the spirit that has triumphed over war and depression, the spirit that has lifted this country from the depths of despair to the great heights of hope, the belief that while each of us will pursue our own individual dreams, we are an American family and we rise or fall together as one nation and as one people.
I'm reading Obama's victory speech this morning, and, though I voted against him, I feel uplifted. I get a chill. Just as the writer of those words intended. Rereading them, my critical mind clicks in. A former colony won the right to determine its own destiny...? A colony? There were 13 colonies! Won the right? I read the Declaration of Independence to say that we had the right already, and we were entitled to throw off the power that oppressed us. The next phrase "perfecting our union" evokes the first sentence of the Constitution —  "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union...."— and ties it to his campaign slogan "forward" and to "you," who voted for him, propelling him forward. I've got to wonder if the idea is to move forward past the lesser perfection of the Constitution, into a system in which individuals merge into one nation, one people, one family. But you can still pursue your own individual dreams. Go ahead! Pursue them! If you can

I know some of you are thinking: If we can in this supposedly more perfect but actually terrifying system of socialism The One will move us forward into. Here are 2 expressions of that fear that went up last night on Instapundit and that struck me as excessive and over-scared. At 10:41, Sarah Hoyt wrote:
I HAVE  QUESTIONS:  We’re not a country of land or blood.  We’re a country of beliefs.  If we’ve lost that, who are we?  Who am I?  And where do I go?
And at 11:00, Glenn Reynolds put up the text of an email from a reader named Zach White:
If Obama is reelected, good hardworking people should give up and go Galt. The tipping point is the 2012 election. Will the makers finally succumb to the takers? It’s pointless to think that if America reelects the most unqualified disastrous president in recent memory, we should stand our ground and continue fighting. it’s a signal that marxist free-lunchism and free birth control for everyone trump economic well-being and prosperity in the minds of the masses. Give up. Go Galt. Protect what few assets you have left, and start to hunker down for the coming storm. America is beyond screwed, well past the fiscal insanity of a number of EU countries. Think of it this way – we sit and watch California destroy itself and wonder who could be so foolish as to remain there and dedicate himself to indentured servitude in a state headed for disaster. Why don’t those fools just leave!! Same for Venezuela. as they descend into chaos and totalitarianism, do they reject Chavez more? The answer is plainly no. The spiral down the drain is irreversible and obvious. The more the government creates misery, the more they create programs to help people cope with the misery they’ve created, and we achieve a perpetual negative feedback loop. My advice is simple – if Obama is reelected, get a lawyer and a financial advisor, cash out as much of your assets as you can, and prepare yourself for a nosedive off a cliff. anything else would be imprudent and irresponsible to yourself and your dependents. Who wants to be a Dagny Taggart dedicating themselves to a life of indentured servitude trying to correct the wrongs of a heavy handed government? i will not be volunteering. I didn’t give up on America, America gave up on me.
I read that this morning and pictured the young man in his 30s or early 40s, a man with a wife and children, reading that anything else would be imprudent and irresponsible to yourself and your dependents and actually spending money on a lawyer and a financial advisor, extracting all his cash from his retirement accounts, quickly selling the home they live in, and heading for the hinterlands to hunker down for the nose dive. The wife is distraught, the kids freak out. Dad's gone nuts. No, I'm not nuts, children. I am Galt! And I'm doing the only thing that is not imprudent!

Talk about nosedives. Get a grip, those of you who didn't get what you wanted for Electionmas. It's Obama's Second Term America, and you'll need to make the best of it. I think you've got some better ideas than cashing out and hunkering down. I know I do.

November 6, 2012

Live-blogging election night.

5:12 Central Time: Won't you hang out with me while we watch the results come in? Here's a helpful map, showing what times the polls close in the various states. Polls in parts of Indiana and Kentucky closed a quarter hour ago, but what will be rather thrilling is the top of the hour, 7 Eastern Time, when Florida (minus the part under Alabama) and Virginia close, and then half an hour after that Ohio and North Carolina. Perhaps things at that point will be so decisive we will more or less know. Drudge is saying "EXIT POLLS TIGHT," giving Romney NC and FL and Obama NH, PA, MI, and NV, and listing OH, VA, CO, and IA as toss ups. What? No Wisconsin? I'm thinking it will all be about Wisconsin. But I'm Wisconsincentric.

5:25: After all this time watching the election, I wonder what life will be like tomorrow. I hope it's not 2000-style craziness with recounts and litigation and accusations of fraud. Let it be decisive, and let's accept the results — is that a good centrist idea we can all sign onto?

5:50: I'm watching CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News, and hanging out at MSNBC for the last few minutes, I get the feeling they think the GOP will do well. Why? They're going at the topic of the way the GOP isn't likely to take the majority in the Senate. I'm just getting the feeling that they are moving into that place of refuge.

6:00: Nothing exciting at the top of the hour. Virginia not called. But that's not surprising. It was expected to be close.

6:30: Romney wins West Virginia, unsurprisingly. NC and Ohio are now closed, but they're not calling it, unsurprisingly. CNN reveals exit polls: 49/49 in NC and 51% Obama, 48% Romney in Ohio. Impressive for Obama... if the exit polls are right.

6:41: Boring! Maybe you should go for a run, have sex, or guzzle an Ardberg along with a chocolate bar and then come back in 20 minutes or an hour or so. Wouldn't that make more sense?

7:00: CNN projects Connecticut, Delaware, D.C., Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Maine (3 of the 4), and Rhode Island for Obama. Oklahoma for Romney. Many others not called.

7:27: On Fox News, Rove is on fire. Joe Trippi is stammering and looking worried. Good for Romney, right?

7:37: Watched ABC network for a while and there's a wild-eyed desperation that tells me they know Obama's in trouble.

8:00: CNN calls Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska (3 of the 5), North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, Wyoming, and Mississippi to Romney. Michigan, New York, and New Jersey for Obama. (There goes Michigan, which had been considered possible for Romney.)

8:02: They can't call Arizona, Colorado, Minnesota, New Mexico, and my home state Wisconsin.

8:04: 52% Obama, 46% Romney — CNN exit poll in Wisconsin. That looks bad for Romney.

10:04: Oh, I see I've been away for 2 hours. I couldn't take the stress. It's not as though you're reading this blog for news updates. What do you want from me? Gushings of emotion?  I'm being mellow, distancing myself from the political fray, reconnecting to my old aversion to politics. The people will have what they have chosen, and I hope for the best, especially for the young people. Tomorrow there will be new things to talk about, I assume. The election is over, is it not? Obama will win, perhaps without the popular vote, like Bush. What will he do with it? Take us to a higher ground, at last? Or nothing at all.

Ronald Dworkin finds it "regrettable that the general public takes so little interest in the Supreme Court" and thinks that's why the Obama campaign "rarely mentions" it.

Here's his big essay in the NYRB.

I think the Obama campaign avoids that issue because its research says that people want judges that interpret the Constitution based on text and original meaning/intent. Obama's vulnerable on the Supreme Court question. He benefits from whatever lack of interest can be maintained.

"Obama Mural in Philadelphia Polling Place."

Yeah, but he looks so down and out of it in that depiction, so first debate, that it might not help at all. The word "Change!" seems to be yelling into one ear, and the word "hope..." drifting out of the other.

"For every inch above normal rainfall, overall turnout drops by a little less than 1%, but Democratic turnout drops by 2.5%."

"Every inch above average snowfall decreases turnout by 0.5%. Since the water equivalent of 10 inches of snow usually equals an inch of rain, it's more likely snow will effect an election."

The word is affect, but okay, thanks for the info.
Wisconsin could have some rain in major Democratic areas and snow in the swing area around Green Bay. If the race were tighter in the badger state, I'd wonder more about whether the weather could flip the race.
Hmm. Tighter than 49% to 49%?

Anyway, the weather here in southern Wisconsin is "Light Snow Mist." Soon to be rain.

"Man makes deathbed murder confession - then recovers!"

He said: "I have something to tell you. I have to get something off my conscience and you need to hear this... I killed somebody. I beat her to death."

Perhaps he survived because he cast off the burden of the secret.

St. John’s University's so-called “Dean of Mean” Cecilia Chang commits suicide "after a disastrous stint on the witness stand that left jurors laughing at her tortured explanations."

"Under withering cross-examination by prosecutors, Chang's answers became so lengthy and circuitous that the judge continually reminded her to simply answer yes or no...."

"The disappointment that all Americans may be harboring over the Obama term is nothing compared with the garland-wrenching grief in Europe."

"It’s not the disappointment; it’s the hope we can’t bear."

Garland-wrenching? I don't know. It's an op-ed in the NYT by one A.A. Gill. A Brit, perhaps.
Mr. Obama’s coolness, his inability or unwillingness to project warmth, to compliment those who felt insecure, or for whom a pat on the back or a mention, a mere mention, would mean a great deal, is the most inexplicable snub seen from Europe....
Sounds nuttily needy, but here's the crux of it:
In Europe, the gamut of electable politicians is pretty much the same in every country, but there is no European equivalent to the Republican Party, not until you get to Hungary or Serbia. Democrats would partially overlap with conservatives or Christian Democrats here, but the absence of any sort of electable socialist movement in America is a constant subject of incomprehension. We believe the left wing is always a necessary element in the balance of democracy.
And that's what you're wrenching your garland about? Wrench away, wretch.

"Are the Democrats trying to steal Pennsylvania?"

Power Line is asking... and we all should be monitoring.

We go voting in Madison, Wisconsin at about 10 a.m.

Here's how it looked at our polling place at the First Congregational Church on University Avenue. No line out in the main hallway...


Or around the corner...


The inner sanctum:


Romney trouncing Obama in Ohio.

So far.

UPDATE: There are questions about whether these are real.

Century-old cartoon of the "class-conscious worker" handed out at Obama's Madison rally yesterday.

Not handed out by the official campaign, just by some guy there:


The sturdy, manly worker in overalls is holding a scroll marked "Demands legislated in the Union hall." There is a sun marked "IWW" rising behind him. He's looking askance at "POLITICS/The Great HOCUS-POCUS GAME" behind which hides a short pot-bellied man in a top hat, spats, a big dollar sign on his shirt, and strings on his fingers connected to puppets who are saying "Vote your power into my hands"/"I'll do your fighting for you"/"Vote and be saved." The capitalist puppeteer is saying "I don't think he's wise to the game yet."

It's a 1916 cartoon from Solidarity, to which the caption is added: "How little things have changed."

"Secret Service: We do not consent to our store being searched. It’s not that there’s anything illegal in here..."

"... but we just employ several Colombian prostitutes and we don’t want to tempt you guys."

Sign in the window of a store called Raygun — someplace in Iowa where Obama was appearing. The shopkeeper, Mike Draper, was told he'd have to close 4 hours early and then that he could stay open if he let the Secret Service search the place.  Draper said no to both and got away with it. This actually is America, you know. If you admire Draper, you can buy stuff from him here.

The first votes are in... and it's a tie.

"Ten voters in the tiny village of Dixville Notch, New Hampshire, cast the first Election Day votes of the 2012 general elections at 12:01 a.m. ET, in keeping with a tradition that began in 1960... Five voted for President Obama and five voted for Mitt Romney."

Email from CNN.

Playing out the Electoral College counts.

A great graphic depiction. (Click on options at the top, picking states and see the various paths to victory.)

Bob Dylan in Madison: "We tried to play good tonight since the president was here today."

"Don’t believe the media. I think it’s going to be a landslide."

Spoken from the stage last night in Madison, in the middle of his encore song "Blowin' in the Wind."

Which squarely contradicts my late-night post about Bob Dylan's concert: "And not a word... not a word... about politics. No imploring us to vote for Obama. Or even to vote."

I loved the absence of politics, and I believe/have believed that Bob Dylan has almost entirely avoided politics since the early 1960s. I can see a way to say his quote about Obama is enigmatic, sardonic, and in some real way nonpolitical: Don't believe what they're telling you in the newspapers. A sound and distanced observation. Etc.

But no subtle interpretation can undo my over-strong "not a word." So I have to confess that Meade and I have been to a lot of Bob Dylan concerts. We know he will do one encore. We even knew it would be "Blowin' in the Wind." Halfway through it, we slipped out into the night. We zipped right out of there.

Far between sundown’s finish an’ midnight’s broken toll
We ducked outside the doorway, snowflakes drifting...

It was as if they saw us leave. Good! Althouse and Meade are gone. Now we can talk about politics.

IN THE COMMENTS: Many of you say that "I think it’s going to be a landslide" is ambiguous. Especially after "Don't believe the media." And the idea of trying to "play good" because the President was in town is kind of comical — playing at being deferential to authority. He never says Obama's name, and that landslide might go toward the other guy. This reminds me of an old law school anecdote: The famous old professor says: "It's obvious how this case will be decided." And the young lawprof says: "Yes, but which way is it obvious?"

Chip Ahoy said it best:
Uh, excuse me, how do you extract "I think Obama will win in a landslide" from "I think there will be a landslide."

I know what you're going to say.

There is a sentence before that and another sentence after following and those three sentences together add up to an Obama endorsement and I say they do not. I am interpreting them as I go and those are three separate things. Not that I care, it's that sometimes everyone around me is wrong and I'm the only one around who thinks otherwise and as much as I'd like to stay a quiet little church mouse I am compelled to be a pillar of strength momentarily, stand up and say so.
And I defend our walking out:
Actually, the way Dylan uses "Blowin' in the Wind" suggests he means it as a closing-credits/filing-out-of-the-theater song. The show was over at "Watchtower" and you're supposed to go home, you're not leaving, and he comes back to say: okay, here's that famous oldie, now get outta here.

It's Election Day!

Get out there and vote!

November 5, 2012

Did you watch the big debate tonight?

You know: the Gary Johnson vs. Jill Stein debate. Of course, I didn't. I was at the Bob Dylan concert. But my son John watched and even live-blogged it. Of course, it's over now, but you can still read the live-blog:
10:24 - Johnson says in his closing statement: "Vote for the person you believe in. That's how you change this country for the better. I'm more liberal than Obama when it comes to civil liberties. I'm more conservative than Romney when it comes to dollars and cents. . . . I made a name for myself [as governor] by being a penny-pincher. . . . I don't know if there's a more important vote right now if you want to register your distaste with what's happening in this country." Johnson ends by asking for 5% of the vote, which will let the Libertarian Party get more ballot access and receive federal matching funds. So, the libertarian's slam-dunk argument for why you should vote for him is that it will let him receive federal-government benefits.
Meanwhile, over at the Wall Street Journal, Randy Barnett makes the argument to libertarians: "Libertarian activists need to set aside their decades-old knee-jerk reactions to the two major parties, roll up their sleeves, and make the Republican and Democratic parties more libertarian."

Thanks to Bob Dylan... for a fabulous concert here in Madison tonight.


And not a word... not a word... about politics. No imploring us to vote for Obama. Or even to vote.

UPDATE: You know I could be wrong....

Obama rally video.

Meade films Bruce Springsteen singing about never surrendering and a lefty anti-Obama protester with a sign that says "Where was Obama during the Wisconsin uprising (and the recall)???" Then Springsteen sings something that sounds to Meade like "land of broken dreams" — or was it "land of hope and dreams"? — and then Obama comes on the stage and gives Springsteen a hug and then gives him a second needy hug.

(Video will be up soon: here.)

"Romney 49%, Obama 48% in Gallup's Final Election Survey."

And: "After removing the 3% of undecided voters from the results and allocating their support proportionally to the two major candidates, Gallup's final allocated estimate of the race is 50% for Romney and 49% for Obama."

Photos from the dismal, dull Obama rally in Madison today.

Get ready!


Block off all the streets! The hordes are coming!


Apparently not.

Blaaaaah.... Herb Kohl... zzzzz....


Oh, my lord, it's Bruce!


(All photos by Meade, who tells me it was very subdued.)

"What President Obama really said in that '60 Minutes' interview about Benghazi."

"Two days before the election, CBS posted additional portions of a Sept. 12 '60 Minutes' interview where President Obama seems to contradict himself on the Benghazi attack."

Why wait until exactly now? Why not earlier or after the election? 3 letters: CYA. And: They think Romney will win.

"Romney campaign internal polling puts Republican nominee up ONE POINT in Ohio and TIED in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin."

"Internal poll show Romney trailing in Nevada, reflected in a consensus among senior advisers that Obama will probably win the state. Early voting in Nevada has shown very heavy turnout in the Democratic stronghold of Clark County and union organisation in the state is strong."

More polls, sorry. I know the previous post expressed a longing for more soul and subjectivity.

"Those who emphasize 'objective' political facts at the expense of 'subjective' values have strained out the soul and significance of politics."

"It is an approach, in the words of G.K. Chesterton, 'that stores the sand and lets the gold go free.'"

Says Michael Gerson, in another one of those Nate-Silver-is-wrong columns.
The problem with the current fashion for polls and statistics is that it changes what it purports to study. Instead of making political analysis more “objective,” it has driven the entire political class — pundits, reporters, campaigns, the public — toward an obsessive emphasis on data and technique. Quantification has also resulted in miniaturization. In politics, unlike physics, you can only measure what matters least.
Is your soul weary of all these polls? Do you somehow know something in your subjective, intuitive guts that is never measured in Mr. Silver's algorithm?

Restoring Hetch Hetchy, Yosemite's twin.

San Francisco will be voting whether to drain the reservoir, revealing whatever's been under 90 meters of water for a century.
In his 1912 book The Yosemite, [John] Muir wrote: "Dam Hetch Hetchy! As well dam for water-tanks the people's cathedrals and churches, for no holier temple has ever been consecrated by the heart of man."
CORRECTION: Originally, I'd written 90 feet. It's 90 meters.

"I kissed your sister and I kissed your mama, Forward/ Usually this time of day, I'm in my pajamas, Forward/ Let's vote for the man who got Osama/ Forward and away we go."

Sang Bruce Springsteen today in Madison, incorporating Obama's slogan/Wisconsin's motto into a makeshift lyric.

The fire officials estimated the crowd size at 18,000. A police office gave Meade the number 15,000, as I noted in an earlier post. 15,000 or 18,000, it's much less than the 30,000 or so that showed up for the Springsteenless Obama here in Madison a month ago, which was itself much less than the 80,000 people who showed up in 2004 when Bruce Springsteen appeared with John Kerry.


"I had to break in your house. I took blankets off the couch. I have hypothermia. I didn't take any thing.... I hope u can read this I’m in the dark. I took a black jacket too. Goodbye. God all mighty help me."

Pre-assembling the excuses for Obama's defeat tomorrow.

At Politico (with an "if"):
Obama threw it away in Denver...

The Bush economy killed him...

It was the second-term vision thing...

Citizens United, the super PACs and the Koch Brothers did it...

He lost for a noble cause: national health care...

It all comes back to race...
There's grousing and blaming in the offing if this iffing is happening.

What they'll never say: Mitt Romney was a fine candidate.

He was a fine candidate — and so was Ryan — even with the media spinning everything they could against him. And if R&R win, their victory will be spun as negatively as possible. Politico is giving you a peek of what they will be doing if you people don't get a clue and vote they way you're supposed to. We're going to pummel you with stories of your racism and Obama's martyrdom until you expiate your sins by voting for whomever the Democrats present for your obeisance in 2016. Look out... or rebel.

A disappointing turnout for the Obama rally in Madison, Wisconsin.

Personally, I'm at work, but [my husband] Meade is on the scene, where he talked to a police officer who said they'd planned for 30,000 but were estimating the crowd at 15,000. And Meade encountered a friend who said he'd heard reports that it would be a nightmare trying to park downtown, but he pulled into a parking garage and was the first car there.

The police had cordoned off a big swath of lawn on the Capitol Square for the spillover crowd, Meade told me (by phone), but there is no spillover crowd.

Here's the #ObamaMadison Twitter feed, coming from many people on the scene. They are "shoulder-to-shoulder" packed in, they say. Here's the presentation of tweets at Isthmus. I selected these:
O hai black helicopter! #obama #madison
POTUS must be close because there's a Blackhawks helicopter out my window! #obamamadison #theboss...

Kind of crazy looking at the tweets from #ObamaMadison. Just 3 blocks away and I can't even tell, except for the circling military choppers

Couldn't those olive drab helicopters have the courtesy to quiet down so we can hear the speakers? #ObamaMadison....
UPDATE: Meade phones: "It was a very subdued crowd." Did they ever use the overflow area? No. Subdued for both Obama and Springsteen, said Meade, proceeding to sing me his imitation Springsteen.

"Green Party’s presidential race rooted in Madison."

Obama's paid a lot of attention to Madison lately, but there's another presidential candidate concentrating on Madison: Jill Stein.

(And, as I said yesterday, I think Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party candidate, has a good amount of support in Madison.)

Robin Givhan is sick of hearing about Michelle Obama's clothes.

Robin Givhan. If the robin is the first sign of spring, Robin Givhan being sick of the topic of Michelle's clothes is the last sign that the Obamas are about to depart the scene.

Obama campaign: "Ann -- This is cool: You can see exactly how many people named Ann have already voted."

"Take a look at that. Then share it with your friends so they can see how many people with their names have voted, too -- and look up their polling place. Bottom line: We need every Ann -- and everyone else, too -- to make it out to the polls to support President Obama."

Another email trying to leverage social media. This one provides a link to the Obama campaign website with the supposedly enticing teaser "How many people with your name have voted already?" To get the answer, you have to click on a button that takes you to a page where you're supposed to log into Facebook, and the fine print says:
Your basic info
Your email address (
Your profile info: birthday, likes and location
Your photos
Friends' profile info: birthdays, likes and locations
Photos shared with you
And: "By proceeding, you agree to Obama 2012's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy ..."

So if you fell for the fun idea of seeing your damned name connected to a number and impulsively logged into Facebook, you just gave the campaign all that personal information and you agreed to... who knows what?

The Obama campaign knows who your Facebook friends are and wants you to call them

A reader professes shock when at email her brother has forwarded her:
Both my brother and I have donated a small amount of money to Obama. My brother is in NYC. The Obama campaign found that we are connected on Facebook and today they sent an email to my brother telling him to call me to make sure that I vote.
How creepy is this?

Here's the campaign email, sent last Friday (I'm changing the names):

If it all comes down to Wisconsin...

It's 7 a.m. here in Wisconsin, which might just make the difference in the Electoral College, with our measly but magnificent 10 votes. I've seen various permutations of the Electoral College map — here, create your own map — and it's easy to see how Wisconsin could put Romney over the top even if he loses Ohio and Pennsylvania and Iowa.

Air Force One touched down in Madison at 2:30 a.m., and a small group of people were lined up on State Street at 6, but the line has grown in the last hour. Madison gave Obama his largest crowd of the campaign when he was here a month ago, but he was here a month ago, and that was in the afternoon in the middle of campus. Now, it's early Monday morning, a time when young people are difficult to rouse from their warm beds, and, speaking of warmth, it's 30° in Madison right now. It was a long wait in the rain for the campus speech last month.

And people must remember that you don't just get to see Obama and that other guy you might care about. (Do the young folk care about seeing Bruce Springsteen?) You have to put up with the local politicos — the mayor and so forth. Meanwhile, it's all on TV.... and has been for months. (Years?) The reason to go is not so much to see, but to be seen. Lend your body to the photograph of Obama with the Wisconsin Capitol looming in the background. As it looms, you may wonder, where was Obama when you were marching and chanting and drumming last year protesting Scott Walker? Where was Obama last spring when you dragged Scott Walker into a recall election? He expressed tepid support from afar, but declined to set foot in Wisconsin, even when he was right at the border in Minneapolis/Chicago.

Ironically, that recall election forced Republicans to develop their ground game in Wisconsin, and that's exactly what may push Mitt Romney over the top tomorrow. Here's RNC chairman Reince Priebus, yesterday on "State of the Union":
[The Democrats] haven’t been able to win in Wisconsin for a long time. They claim that the Obama machine was out during the Walker recall. We basically crushed them in Wisconsin. I have seen firsthand the difference between Obama’s rhetoric on their ground game and the reality, and the reality is they’re not as good as they think they are....
When you see that Wisconsin State Capitol in the background in today's Obama photo-ops, remember all that it symbolizes: an immense GOP victory in 2010, a huge and rude months-long uprising of the left end of the Democratic Party's target constituency (shunned by Obama himself) in 2011, and, in 2012, a decisive victory in the recall election for GOP Governor Scott Walker. What about all those Democratic voters splayed out around the GOP-dominated Capitol building? Hello? This is Madison, Wisconsin. The state Capitol building is always surrounded by Democrats. Every day, every month, every year. Madison does not control election outcomes in Wisconsin. In fact, there are an awful lot of people in Wisconsin whose idea of Madison is: This is not what Wisconsin looks like. And the people of Madison return the sentiment. We've been amusing ourselves with the saying "Madison is X square miles surrounded by reality" for a long, long time.

Obama will win by a landslide in Madison, but Madison — as we all know and have been telling ourselves for decades — is not reality.

"We wanted to engage in Libya but the administration told us to stand down...."

(Via Power Line.)

November 4, 2012

"IMDB Top 250 in 2 1/2 Minutes."

Beautiful (but turn down/off the sound if you don't want to hear the word "fuck" a few times):

Via Metafilter. Here's the actual IMDB list in case you failed to identify them all or want to see the order.

"Natasha graduated with top honors from high school at 14 and was offered a full scholarship by Mannes College the New School for Music in New York."

"Her mother worried about a deficit of soul in New York."
“There is no time for vision! People are just struggling to survive, like in Moscow,” Natalie said — to which her daughter replied, “Vision is how I survive.” In those early New York days, Natasha and her mother spoke by phone constantly. Nonetheless, Natalie said, “that was my present to her: I gave her her own life.”
One paragraph from an article about child prodigies.

And here's a quote from further down: "If Beethoven were sent to nursery school today, they would medicate him, and he would be a postal clerk." And:
Half the prodigies I studied seemed to be under pressure to be even more astonishing than they naturally were, and the other half, to be more ordinary than their talents. Studying their families, I gradually recognized that all parenting is guesswork, and that difference of any kind, positive or negative, makes the guessing harder.

"Live Free — Gary Johnson for President."

That was the graffiti on campus today:

(Zeus thinks the movie's about him.)

Maybe libertarianism is catching on amongst the younger people.


We walked all down State Street and around the Capitol Square to see if there were any Obama-related activities in anticipation of his visit tomorrow. We saw lots of barriers and paraphernalia getting set up...


... but no sign of any people pre-celebrating Obama. Presumably, they'll be lining up before dawn, ready to stream around the Capitol and into photo-op formation.

"Does Mitt Romney’s Mormonism make him too scary or weird to be elected to president of the United States?"

Asks Glenn Beck, a Mormon, speaking to Evangelical Christians, reported in the NYT.
During his special program, Mr. Beck took questions from mostly evangelical Christian listeners, colorfully debunking misperceptions about Mormonism. The “magic underwear” was compared to a skullcap, and Mr. Beck insisted that polygamy was seen as a “perversion” in the modern church.

“It’s not weird to be a Mormon,” he assured his listeners at the end of the program, “and it’s not weird to be president if you’re Mormon.”
It's fascinating — isn't it? — how little anti-Mormon material has been spread about in this election. The only notable person who seems to be going there is Andrew Sullivan:
Andrew Sullivan recently posted YouTube footage of LDS temple ceremonies in an effort to turn Romney’s Mormonism into an argument against his candidacy.

The video posted by Sullivan was shot surreptitiously inside LDS temples by a former Mormon who wanted to use the publicity connected with the Romney campaign to embarrass the LDS community. (The video creator enhanced the footage with his own monologue — wearing a gorilla mask — and spooky "Carmina Burana" soundtrack.)...
I think most Americans have a deep sensibility respecting religion and don't care to look into details about any given sect that could be exploited to make outsiders see it as bizarre. Sullivan, like Joe Biden, is a Catholic. You could make an equivalent YouTube video holding Catholics up to derision and contempt. That's generally not how we behave in America. I wonder who is more susceptible to this anti-Mormon material: the middle Americans who are aggregated under the "Evangelical Christians" label, who listen to Glenn Beck, or the affluent, educated coastal Americans who read Andrew Sullivan and the New York Times? Whichever, the notable fact is that there has been very little effort to stimulate anti-Mormon sentiment, and that's an excellent thing about America.