March 21, 2015

At the Skeptical Dog Café...


... are you sure you can trust anybody?

(More pics of Rumor at Meade's.)


... flop.

At the Madison mayoral debate, the crowd chanted "Indict, convict, send those killer cops to jail, the whole damn system is guilty as hell."

"Thursday night's mayoral debate between incumbent Paul Soglin and challenger Scott Resnick was marked by sharp hostility -- both between the candidates, and the candidates and the crowd," Isthmus reports.

When Resnick said "We need to come together in this community," there was laughter.

Soglin tried: "I find it very, very difficult to address this subject in the context of a mayoral debate, of the context of some of the anger in this room.... The larger concern in the community, where parents are concerned about well-being of children, we're all concerned about our neighbors."

The crowd shouted him down — "What about Tony?" — and Soglin sat down without finishing.

I don't know who to vote for in the mayoral election. How does one decide between Resnick and Soglin? Some people are deciding based on their different positions on — of all things — Uber, as Larry Kaufmann explains here:
Leading the charge is Mayor Paul Soglin, who treats Uber as if it were the spawn of Satan, or at least the Koch brothers. The Paul Soglin for Mayor website describes Uber as a "company headed by a devotee of Ayn Rand" that makes "conscious decisions to destroy full-time jobs." The mayor likens Uber to a "new form of serfdom," which might be accurate if medieval serfs used smartphone apps and complex, back-end routing algorithms to find rides to their masters' fields.

His mayoral challenger, Scott Resnick, takes a different view. The first item on his campaign's site declares that Uber, Lfyt and other ridesharing firms "are here and they are not going away." Resnick believes cutting-edge ridesharing technology can help "devise innovative solutions that meet our city's transportation needs." Nevertheless, he wishes to load a number of regulations onto Uber and similar firms that currently apply to taxis, including licensing by the city, background checks on drivers, insurance requirements and restrictions on "surge" pricing during high-demand times.
Keep Uber out or let it in but regulate the hell out of it.  That's the choice in Madison, Wisconsin. I'm thinking of protest-voting, writing in the name Mike Koval.

"The president has jumped into the strangeness fray by musing aloud that mandatory voting in the United States would be a good idea."

Writes Peggy Noonan.
“It would be transformative if everybody voted,” he told an audience in Cleveland. Yes, it would. It would mean a lot of people who aren’t interested in public policy and choose not to follow it would suddenly be deciding it.

The way it is now, if you aren’t interested—and you have the right not to be interested—you don’t have to vote. If you are interested, you pay attention, develop political views, and vote. Making those who don’t care about voting vote will only dilute the votes of those who are serious and have done their democratic homework.

Most of us are moved by the sight of citizens lined up at the polls on Election Day. We should urge everyone to care enough to stand in that line. But we should not harass or bother those who, with modesty and even generosity, say they are happy to leave the privilege of the ballot to those who are engaged. Mandatory voting is, so far, the worst and most mischievous political idea of the year, and deeply eccentric.
In my view, mandatory voting is not only bad policy, it's unconstitutional. The government cannot compel people to have political opinions and to express them! Years ago, I heard some talk from a lawprof who was going on about how there should be mandatory voting, and my question was: "Are you talking about the United States?"

I don't even agree with Noonan that "We should urge everyone to care enough to stand in that line." Not voting expresses the lack of an opinion on whether one of the candidates on the ballot should be elected. There's nothing wrong with refraining from the work of figuring out whether you have a preference. There's nothing wrong with rejecting the belief that the ritual of voting is worthy in itself, regardless of whether you care. And you're entitled not to care. You could even have a deeply held belief — perhaps religious or philosophical — that you should not devote your mental energies to political matters. Some judges refrain from voting because they want to keep their minds apart from politics. Some nonvoters may believe — even correctly — that the result preferred by other people really is the best. Certainly, there are many decisions that we leave to others whom we regard as more expert and informed.

Those who abstain may look on from a distance and observe that things are going well enough with the choices their fellow citizens are making (or that no one is on the ballot who could improve anything significantly). The abstainers stand in reserve, and they can activate themselves if they are sufficiently motivated. Stop stereotyping these people as somehow wrong or — ugh! — uncaring. Think about why people abstain and show some respect instead of coming up with the despicable plan to force them to vote. Not voting means something, something you might not understand, and people are allowed to embrace that meaning.

"In recent years, a new Korean word, sung-gui, began to surface online. It means 'plastic-surgery monster.'"

It's "a person who has had so much cosmetic alteration that he or she 'looks unnatural and arouses repulsion,'" writes Patricia Marx in an excellent New Yorker article about the extreme popularity of plastic surgery in South Korea. Supposedly, "a third of all plastic-surgery patients were dissatisfied with the results," and there was a reality TV show called "Back to My Face":
I met with Siwon Paek, the producer of the show’s pilot. In the pilot, contestants who had had at least ten surgeries compete to win a final operation that promises to undo all the previous reconstructions. Paek emphasized that the aim is to help plastic-surgery addicts come to terms psychologically with their appearance. Those with lower incomes, she said, tend to be the most compulsive about plastic surgery. “They feel they have no other way to prove themselves to people and lift themselves socially and economically,” she said. Although the “Back to My Face” pilot was popular, Paek said that she will produce no more episodes. “I didn’t have the strength to continue,” she told me. The responsibility of changing people’s lives weighed too heavily on her, she said, and finding contestants was hard. “For one month, I stood outside a dance club,” she told me. “I solicited two hundred people. Most didn’t want to go back to the way they looked before.”

The NYT accuses Scott Walker of changing his accent!

The article, "For 2016 Run, Scott Walker Washes ‘Wiscahnsin’ Out of His Mouth," by Patrick Healy, includes a short video, which supposedly proves the point:
Out on the presidential campaign trail, Gov. Scott Walker has left “Wiscahnsin” back home in Wisconsin. He now wants to strengthen the economy, not the “ecahnahmy.” And while he once had the “ahnor” of meeting fellow Republicans, he told one group here this week that he simply enjoyed “talkin’ with y’all.”

The classic Upper Midwest accent — nasal and full of flat a’s — is one of several Walker trademarks to have fallen away this month after an intense period of strategizing and coaching designed to help Mr. Walker capitalize on his popularity in early polls and show that he is not some provincial politician out of his depth.
Is he changing his accent? I'm skeptical. I've lived in Wisconsin for 30 years, and what strikes me is that people outside of Wisconsin, when they hear about Wisconsin, get cranked up and start imitating an accent they believe is a Wisconsin accent. They especially love to say the word "Wisconsin" in their idea of a Wisconsin accent. I don't have a Wisconsin accent myself — I'm from Delaware. The main thing I notice about Wisconsin people saying the word "Wisconsin" is that they make the syllable break after the "Wi." The imitators never seem to get that right. It's wi-SCON-sin. That's the important part. Not the part where you get all weird about the "o."

I had to laugh when I read the end of the article. The NYT quotes a woman named Jennifer Horn, the chairwoman of the New Hampshire Republican Party, who wasn't really opining that Walker had changed his accent, only that she didn't hear whatever accent the questioner had asked her about — perhaps by doing that outsider's version of the Wisconsin accent that I've heard so many times over the years:
And at the dinner, as well as in his Concord speech, his Wisconsin honk was noticeably absent.

“I didn’t hear it,” Ms. Horn said. “Good for him, good for him.”
They asked a Horn about a honk.

Anyway, is Walker trying to modify his accent in order to appeal to America at large? It appropriate and competent of him to be working with speech coaches, but should they be taking the edge off his accent and is that, in fact, happening?

March 20, 2015

"[A]ll these great intentions of our white allies and our white liberals to assist those who live in poverty, and that intent was good, but the impact was totally off..."

"... and that’s because the voices that are most affected weren’t considered. We’ve been programmed to feel like nothing we do or say matters; it doesn’t matter if you speak out because you’re not going to be considered. We’ve been told to believe that and accept that role and therefore perpetuate an inferiority that we already feel. So the challenge of the Young, Gifted and Black Coalition is to engage the community, to educate the community and to show them and to prove to them that their voices matter....  When I first heard about this Behavior Education Plan, I immediately knew that it was going to affect our kids negatively. But people sitting on that board thought it was an amazing idea; we’ll stop suspensions, we’ll stop expulsions, we’ll fix the school-to-prison pipeline, which is all bullcrap, because now what’s happening is the impact; the school is putting all these children with emotional and behavioral issues in the same classroom... And you know it’s very intentional because if you have a population of two percent Blacks at a school of two thousand and all the Black kids are in the same class, that is not something that happens by random. And then you have kids like my daughter, who is prepared for school and can do well in algebra, but she’s distracted because she’s placed in a class with all these kids with IEP issues who, based on the Behavior Education Plan, cannot be removed from the classroom. So what does that do? It adds to the gap."

From a Madison Magazine interview with Brandi Grayson, the Madison activist who was quoted in last night's post ("We know the facts, and when they come out, this city will erupt. This city will f-ing erupt. And the blood and whatever takes place after that will be on your hands and the mayor’s hands.")

"When I was 9 or 10, in Kenya, the Nancy Drew books showed me a type of empowered girl that I was not used to at all."

"I used to read those in secret with my sister. When I was older, Charles Dickens inspired my sense of justice and fairness. George Orwell criticized liberals for apologizing for Communism; he continues to inspire me to persist in my position that Islam unreformed, when put into practice, leads to a dystopia. Orwell today would tell us that the Islamic State is Islamic and shame those who refuse to acknowledge a truth so plain."

Said Ayaan Hirsi Ali, answering the question "If you had to name one book that made you who you are today, what would it be?" (and rejecting the premise because "It can never be one book; it has to be several books, because as a human being you evolve").

She also recommends 2 books that I just added to my Kindle: "Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds," by Charles MacKay, and "The Quran Speaks," by Bahis Sedq (who she says is "the most sophisticated of all the dissidents in the Muslim world... the Muslim Luther, if there were only a way to keep him safe"). The MacKay book was first published in 1841. Here's an illustration from it:

"Employees at several Austin businesses have found stickers saying 'exclusively for white people' placed on their windows..."

"... sparking an investigation into their origin and condemnation from the mayor."
The stickers also say "Maximum of 5 colored customers / colored BOH staff accepted," apparently referring to the "back of house" operations at a restaurant. They featured a city of Austin logo and claimed to be "sponsored by the City of Austin Contemporary Partition and Restoration Program," though no such program exists....

Raul Alvarez, board president for the East Austin Conservancy, said the stickers are likely in response to gentrification in the area on Austin's east side. "I certainly share the concerns about the history and culture and affordability that's being lost because of the rapid development, but our organization tends to focus on what it is we can do to preserve what makes East Austin unique and not focus on strategies that divide the community," he told the Austin American-Statesman newspaper.

"Many law school deans, bristling from criticism that they are replenishing their ranks with less academically qualified students as the number of law school applicants has fallen sharply..."

"... began to openly question the mechanics of the bar exam. About 80 law school deans last November jointly asked, for the first time anyone remembers, for details on how test questions were chosen and scored. The situation was already touchy after remarks made the previous month by a top bar exam official, who defended the results as indisputably correct, and then, in what the deans viewed as verbal dynamite, labeled the test takers as 'less able' than their predecessors."

From a NYT article titled "Bar Exam, the Standard to Become a Lawyer, Comes Under Fire," which contains the juicy nugget: "All states but one, Wisconsin, require passing the bar exam to become a licensed lawyer...".

"Welcome to the new, Twitterized Tweets and blog items in the same stream."

"Why do this? 1) I spend a lot of time and energy on Twitter. 2) Twitter was and is killing blogging. What used to be the fun short blog items are now tweets, leaving only the duller, long items for blogs — a drift toward dreariness accelerated by the need to attract links by writing Important Posts, and by Google’s apparent decision to favor longer posts in its search results (on the highly questionable theory that short posts are inherently less informative). I always thought readers preferred shorter items. The hell with Google. This new format should, in theory, put the fun items back on the blog...."

I'm glad to see that Mickey Kaus is thinking about format, after his rift with The Daily Caller, which has just about the ugliest format of any website that I visit (or used to visit, when Mickey was there).

I'm sorry I read about Google favoring longer posts. I put effort into making posts short and tend to write posts that are around 300 words or less, and Mickey links to a place that says you get better Google ranking if you go over 500 words and that 1500 words is ideal. In other words, blog posts should look like newspaper op-eds. It's easy to pad things out like that. But machines must be programmed to find what machines can find, and then writers program themselves to do what the machines will value. How dismal!

A county official is caught on surveillance cameras letting protesters into the City-County Building (which houses the Madison Police Department).

Dane County Board Sup. Leland Pan has had to give up his pass card and keys after what he did on the night a Madison police officer shot and killed a young black man:
“Our resources were stretched extremely thin, yet the protesters grew in numbers and their anger increased as they neared the police department,” [Madison Police Chief Mike Koval said in a letter of complaint]. “In addition to commissioned officers working in this building 24 hours a day, there are civilian employees. Quite frankly, these civilian employees were very scared for their safety.”

Building surveillance video doesn’t show much emotion on the faces of people coming into the building shortly after midnight on March 7, but Koval said the protesters were heard yelling things such as “kill the cops” and “we have guns too.”...
This makes me think about the way — back in March 2011 — protesters got into the Wisconsin State Capitol, entering through a window of the offices of one of the Democratic legislators. Meade was there and filmed it:

"It is inside that nondescript alumni gym where Frankie Kaminsky — the self-described goofball who still remembers the combination of his high school locker (1-17-49)..."

"... and who tried to catch falling confetti on his tongue like a 7-foot-tall kid seeing snow for the first time after Wisconsin’s Big Ten tournament championship victory — became Frank the Tank, the polished senior scoring, rebounding and assist machine determined to lead the Badgers to a second straight Final Four."

That's just one sentence — diagram it! — in a long NYT article by Jeff Arnold titled "Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky Takes Pride in Growing Up."

(Go Badgers.)

"We really need camps for adults," said Hillary Clinton.

 "None of the serious stuff... I think we have a fun deficit in America."

To be fair: she was speaking to the American Camp Association of New York and New Jersey’s Tri-State CAMP Conference. What do you expect her to say?

IN THE COMMENTS: The terms "re-education camps" and "concentration camps" pop up.

"Hillary is a mess. And we're going to reward the presidency to a woman who's enabled the depredations and exploitation of women by that cornpone husband of hers?"

"The way feminists have spoken makes us blind to Hillary's record of trashing [women]. They were going to try to destroy Monica Lewinsky. It's a scandal! Anyone who believe in sexual harassment guidelines should have seen that the disparity of power between Clinton and Monica Lewinsky was one of the most grotesque ever in the history of sex crime. He's a sex criminal! We're going to put that guy back in the White House? Hillary's ridden on his coattails. This is not a woman who has her own career, who's made her own career! The woman who failed the bar exam in Washington! The only reason she went to Arkansas and got a job in the Rose law firm was because her husband was a politician."

Says Camille Paglia, in the interview embedded 2 posts down. Paglia also says — responding to the question "Is Hillary Clinton kind of your worst nightmare as a woman?" — "No, she's exactly my age. I feel I know her completely. Our accents are kind of the same. I understand her completely. So I see all the games and falsehoods and so forth. So I've enjoyed it. I've made an entire career practically—in fact I wrote the cover story for The New Republic 'Ice Queen, Drag Queen'—that was 1996, it was way back there."

I'd like to read that 1996 piece. This is the best I can do: here. I have a New Republic subscription, but a search for the title turned up no results. But I can excerpt this:
Ice queen, drag queen: the Great White Feminist Hope is a far more conflicted and self-destructive creature than either her admirers or revilers understand.... The woman her classmates called "Sister Frigidaire" has the "mind of winter" of Wallace Stevens's poem "The Snow Man." She, too, in Stevens's words, has "been cold a long time."

This coldness is the brittle brilliance of Hillary's calculating, analytic mind, which at its most legalistic has a haunting, daunting impersonality.... Hillary had to learn how to be a woman; it did not come easily or naturally.... 
That's the woman who lives and is completely understood in the brain of Paglia.

ADDED: The idea that Hillary would not have had a viable legal or political career without lashing herself to Bill is utterly ridiculous. There is every reason to think she would have had a far better career if she hadn't gone off to Arkansas. The idea that her legal credentials weren't good enough to get her a job at Rose law firm is pure fantasy. As for failing a bar exam, that's not an intelligence test. Take a look at the eminent folks who have failed bar exams. Kathleen Sullivan, former Dean of Stanford Law School. Benjamin Cardozo, the Supreme Court Justice. Franklin D. Roosevelt. Paglia rattles off ideas as if to bury us in sheer volume.

But, of course, I agree with her that the first woman President should not be someone who built her career on top of her husband's success and who is implicated in the destruction of women who got in her husband's way. Here I am, last May, making (half of) this point in 37 seconds (along with another reason why I don't think Hillary should be the first woman President):

March 19, 2015

"We know the facts, and when they come out, this city will erupt. This city will f-ing erupt."

"And the blood and whatever takes place after that will be on your hands and the mayor’s hands," said Brandi Grayson, the leader of the Young, Gifted and Black Coalition, at the Madison City Council meeting Tuesday night. She was addressing Police Chief Mike Koval, and the subject was the death of Tony Robinson.

The next morning Koval emailed the members of the council:

Camille speaks.

ADDED: I see there's a transcript.

"Hi, I’m Monica Lewinsky... Some of you younger people might only know me from some rap lyrics.”

"Thank you for coming... and in doing so, standing up against the sexual scapegoating of women and girls."

"It’s also interesting because I’m actually black, but you assumed otherwise."

Great instant recovery by Nancy Giles there, but that was hilarious.

At the Black Dog Café...


... you can talk about anything you want.

And if you need to shop, please use The Althouse Amazon Portal.

If you need to see more dogs, like the one you see here, photographed by Meade, go to Meade's blog The Puparazzo.

"There is no work of nonwestern art that has a comparable level of recognition."

Than... what? Can you guess?

University of California President Janet Napolitano says "Let’s just break. Let’s go, let’s go. We don’t have to listen to this crap" into a hot mike.

"Napolitano was sitting next UC regent Chairman Bruce Varner as a group of about two dozen protesters shouted loudly, denouncing potential tuition hikes...."
To make their point loud and clear, a group of the protesters... pulled their clothes off down to their underwear during the demonstration, revealing the words “Student Debt” written on their bodies.

“I don’t know where she’s coming from, but I’m assuming she’s never had to deal with these issues personally. So I can understand why there would be a disconnect there,” [student protester Kristian] Kim said after learning about the “crap” comment.
I think the "crap" comment is fine. I don't like rude protesting at a meeting where the students were given an opportunity to be heard and where Napolitano had addressed them saying "I want to commit to them that their voices are being heard." It's not as if she's 2-faced, saying one thing when she knows she's the students are hearing her and another when she thinks they are not. She said one thing about a group that she thought would engage in a polite colloquy and something else to 2 dozen half-dressed shouters.

"An enormous crocodile ancestor with blade-like teeth walked on two legs and was at the very top of North America's food chain 231 million years ago...."

The newly discovered "Carolina Butcher" (Carnufex carolinensis) lived before the time of the dinosaurs.

Norm MacDonald and David Letterman tell their favorite George Miller jokes.

"The Supreme Court now has a chance to set something right in the voting-rights area."

Says Linda Greenhouse, pressuring the Court to take the case about the Wisconsin voter-ID law — which was upheld by a 7th Circuit panel. The vote to rehear the case by the full 7th Circuit court failed 5 to 5, with the eminent Judge Posner dissenting at length.
What seemed most significant to Judge Posner was what he called the “changed political culture in the United States” in the years since the Supreme Court took a benign view of voter ID [in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board]. “All the strict photo ID states are politically conservative,” he wrote, illustrating the point with a map and a “political makeup” list of the nine strictest states, all with Republican legislatures. The claim that photo ID was necessary to deter or catch voter-impersonation fraud was, Judge Posner wrote, “a mere fig leaf for efforts to disenfranchise voters likely to vote for the political party that does not control the state government.”

He added: “As there is no evidence that voter-impersonation fraud is a problem, how can the fact that a legislature says it’s a problem turn it into one? If the Wisconsin Legislature says witches are a problem, shall Wisconsin courts be permitted to conduct witch trials?”
The Wisconsin Attorney General Brad D. Schimel, in a brief opposing Supreme Court review, said: "It is not this court’s job to referee a debate between the Seventh Circuit panel and Judge Posner," which Greenhouse admits is a good line, even as she bashes the brief as "weak on its facts, to put it charitably."

"This is not about starting a conversation. This is about coffee wars.... The sole objective here is to try to increase the brand’s cultural relevance."

Said a USC educator named Jeetendr Sehdev, in my favorite quote in the NYT article titled "Starbucks Initiative on Race Relations Draws Attacks Online."

ADDED: Jeetendr Sehdev — according to his Twitter profile:

Celebrity branding authority. USC professor. Brit in LA. Scientifically examining the world of celebrity. #IntelligentPop

The San Francisco cathedral with a sprinkler system to repel human beings who sleep in its doorways...

... has given up the practice — apparently because it violated the city's water-use regulations (and not because the church got scourged in social media).

The young black man who was shot to death by Madison police had set out that day on "a spiritual journey."

According to this report in Isthmus:
[Tony Robinson] asked his grandmother, Sharon Irwin, to "cleanse" him earlier in the day, says Turin Carter, who is Irwin's son and Tony's uncle. She burned sage and drew a bath with sea salt for her grandson.

What his family didn't know is that Robinson's journey involved taking hallucinogenic mushrooms. "It was a terrible choice," Carter says, adding that Robinson was inexperienced with the drug....

An adverse reaction to the mushrooms may have caused Robinson's behavior on March 6, when he reportedly attacked two people and ran out into traffic on Willy Street.... Robinson reacted badly to the drug. Fearing for his safety and unable to handle his reaction, his friends called 911 to get him help.

"I don’t honestly know what the stereotype looks like for a heroin smuggler, but I don’t think a couple of senior citizens driving a handicapped license plate car..."

"... with their little cocker spaniel really looks like we’re much of a threat to anybody... I tell you what, I respect the law less today than I did before."

So now the complaint is that the police don't profile enough?

"It is clear the act of the bar offended the majority religion in the country," said the judge, handing down a 2-year sentence.

The judge, U Ye Lwin, said that the 3 men had "denigrated Buddhism " in "violation of Myanmar’s religion act, which prohibits insulting, damaging or destroying religion."

The 3 men — a New Zealander and 2 Burmese — promoting some event at a bar, had put up a Facebook post with an image of Buddha wearing headphones. They'd quickly removed that image and even apologized:
"Our ignorance is embarrassing for us, and we will attempt to correct it by learning more about Myanmar’s religions, culture and history, characteristics that make this such a rich and unique society," the apology said.

March 18, 2015

"The tone of some of my tweets concerning Iowa was at odds with that which Gov. Walker has always encouraged in political discourse."

Said Liz Mair, resigning from Scott Walker’s political operation. We were just enjoying her work here.

What did she tweet about Iowa? "Morons across America are astounded to learn that people from *IOWA* grow up rather government-dependent" and "The sooner we remove Iowa’s frontrunning status, the better off American politics and policy will be."

"But looking back at Schock’s history, his preternatural drive is unsettling, even for a politician."

"Schock didn’t want two phone lines. He wanted six. He didn’t want one credit card in middle school. He wanted 13. He wasn’t satisfied graduating high school in four years. He didn’t want to just sit on the school board — he wanted to be its president. He wanted to be the youngest everything. Health wasn’t enough. He needed a six-pack. He didn’t want his office to be beige. He wanted it red."

From "The self-destructive mania of Rep. Aaron Schock," by Terrence McCoy.

ADDED: Aaron Schock's father said: "Aaron is a little different... He wears stylish clothing and yet he’s not gay…and he’s not married and he’s not running around with women, so everybody is throwing up their arms. They can’t figure out Aaron, so he must be crooked. So attack him, bring him down, because he doesn’t fit into our picture."

"Gunmen in military uniforms attacked a museum in downtown Tunis around noon on Wednesday, killing 19 people" — including Polish, Italian, Spanish and German tourists.

"The identity and motivation of the attackers were not immediately clear."
Tunisia was the country where the Arab Spring revolts against autocratic rule began four years ago.

Of all the countries affected, Tunisia has made the most successful transition toward democracy, recently completing presidential and parliamentary elections and a peaceful rotation of political power. Security forces have struggled against occasional attacks by Islamic extremists, but they have usually occurred in mountainous areas far from the capital.

"I can understand why a depraved man may find salvation in marriage."

"But why a pure girl should want to get mixed up in such a business is beyond me. If I were a girl I would not marry for anything in the world. And so far as being in love is concerned, for either men and women — since I know what it means, that is, it is an ignoble and above all an unhealthy sentiment, not at all beautiful, lofty or poetical — I would not have opened my door to it. I would have taken as many precautions to avoid being contaminated by that disease as I would to protect myself against far less serious infections such as diphtheria, typhus or scarlet fever."

Leo Tolstoy, quoted in "Intellectuals," by Paul Johnson.

Oh, that book title makes me want to tack on this wonderful quote from that professor who got in trouble for smoking a cigarette and raving about lefty politics on an airplane: "I know that might sound somewhat esoteric to other people, but I’m an intellectual, so that’s what I intended."

The esoteric thing she said was that the cigarette smoking was done for symbolism and it signified "a smoking gun" and "revolutionaries" (notably, Fidel Castro). (And it's just by chance that the first post of the day is on the topic of esoteric writing.)

"The debate over the efficacy of 12-step programs has been quietly bubbling for decades among addiction specialists."

"But it has taken on new urgency with the passage of the Affordable Care Act, which requires all insurers and state Medicaid programs to pay for alcohol- and substance-abuse treatment, extending coverage to 32 million Americans who did not previously have it and providing a higher level of coverage for an additional 30 million," writes Gabrielle Glaser in The Atlantic.

"What is you favorite way to make people laugh?" VladimirPigPutin asked Alec Baldwin.

And he said:
Uh... favorite way to make people laugh... that's a good question. That's interesting. It's different for different kind of people. The people I like to make laugh most are children. So when I can make children laugh, my little daughter laugh, that's priceless. If I pretend I'm a lion, and I'm mauling her, and she just starts laughing, if I do it the right way —  my favorite way of making people laugh is to maul them like a lion, while they're in bed. I come into their bed and maul them like a lion. I should try that on older people to see if they like it. I will try it on my wife. Who knows? She might like it.

"I like the idea of Cornwall wild. I'm reading the book 'Wild' at the moment. It does this to you..."

"... it makes you believe you can do more than you think you can do. Here, you have to understand the positioning of St. Ives a bit: the town is on a peninsula: to the northeast, you have the long expanse of beach and coves and coastal life. To the southwest you have the rugged cliffs and wild heath: heather, gorse and scrub and not much else. This is where I'm heading."

Hearty travel-blogging from Nina, about as far southwest as you can get in England.

The book "Wild" is "Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail."

"The government always used to say, 'We don't know the real bad effects of marijuana. We've never been able to test it.'"

"Well, I'm a walking guinea pig. I've been testing it for well over 50 years. I came in fifth on Dancing With the Stars at 76. This old stoner waltzed right by professional athletes because of the marijuana."

Said Tommy Chong. But dancing is more physical than mental. Let's check the guinea pig's mind:

"It seems to me that people are first choosing a mood or attitude, and then finding the disparate views which match to that mood and, to themselves, justifying those views by the mood."

"I call this the 'fallacy of mood affiliation,' and it is one of the most underreported fallacies in human reasoning.  (In the context of economic growth debates, the underlying mood is often 'optimism' or 'pessimism' per se and then a bunch of ought-to-be-independent views fall out from the chosen mood.)"

Tyler Cowen wrote back in 2011. I'm reading that today — strangely early in the morning — because yesterday, the commenter HoodlumDoodlum said: "Professor Althouse: It sounds like what you're describing is what Tyler Cowen calls the fallacy of mood affiliation."

Was I saying the same thing? Not exactly, but there is some resemblance. Cowen's idea is that people — for some reason (I don't see him exploring why) — have a preference for the way they want to feel, and then they pick the ideas that give them that feeling. I'm saying people have a preference for feeling comfortable in the social environment where they find themselves and so they affect or adopt the ideas that are shared by others around them. That is, I'm specifying one preferred feeling — social comfort — and ascribing it to nearly everyone. And I'm saying that the ideas that follow on are simply the group's shared ideas. I was talking about how ordinary people haven't thought through these ideas and don't want to. The ideas didn't arise within their minds at all. What came from them is the desire to be liked and loved and included. Cowen's fallacious thinker is generating the ideas from within, but the generation process is influenced by the feelings the thinker desires.

"Good prose always strives to be clear and direct. Or so we all think now."

"Arthur Melzer’s remarkable book shines a floodlight on a topic that has been cloaked in obscurity: esoteric writing. Using such techniques as deliberate contradiction, parable and allusion, authors who write esoterically craft texts so that they operate on two levels. There is a surface message intended for the ordinary or inattentive reader and a deeper meaning, often diametrically opposed to the first, that is addressed to the discerning reader.... The great problem this posed for classic philosophers was that, in their view, all societies, even good ones, rested on certain myths or unexamined beliefs, which philosophy, in its relentless effort to subject everything to question and analysis, threatened.... Esoteric writing replicates on the written page what the good teacher does through discussion, which is to drop hints and start the student on a path of independent inquiry. By this view, dotting every i and crossing every t is an impediment. 'The open society,' Mr. Melzer writes, 'is highly sensitive to the dangers of obscurity but blind to those of plainness and clarity.'"

From a review in the WSJ by James Ceaser of Arthur M. Melzer's "Philosophy Between the Lines."

I like the way Amazon reacted to my search for that book with the suggestion that I might also want "The Philosophy Book (Big Ideas Simply Explained)."

That isn't perverse, actually. It makes a lot of sense. And I'm saying that to set you on the path of independent inquiry.

March 17, 2015

"I wrote a piece attacking Fox for not being the opposition on immigration and amnesty — for filling up the airwaves with reports on ISIS and terrorism..."

"... and not fulfilling their responsibility of being the opposition on amnesty and immigration. I posted it at 6:30 in the morning. When I got up, Tucker had taken it down. He said, 'We can't trash Fox on the site. I work there.'... He said it was a rule, and he wouldn't be able to change that rule. So I told him I quit... I just don't see how you can put out a publication with that kind of giant no-go area. It's not like we're owned by Joe's Muffler Shop, so we just can't write about Joe's Muffler shop. t's a larger problem on the right: Everybody is scared of Fox... Fox is their route to a high-profile public image and in some cases stardom. Just to be on a Fox show is a big deal. And I think that's a problem on the right, Fox's monopoly on star-making power."

Said Mickey Kaus. 

The Daily Caller has always been pretty bad. Except for Mickey.

"Al Gore: a man so accomplished that the low point of his career was winning a presidential election."

A one-liner that you will howl at one way or another.

About that roadside memorial.

"Your loved ones are not here. They are with God. Their remains are in the cemetery. And their memories are in your heart. You don’t ruin the scenery with your trash. Donate to a charity instead."

"BIBI STAYS" — says Drudge...

... pointing to The Times of Israel, which has this headline: "Netanyahu declares victory, but Herzog in no hurry to concede/Likud ahead or level with Zionist Union in all 3 exit polls, better placed to build coalition; 71.8% turnout highest since 1999; delight in Likud, dismay in Zionist Union; Jewish Home slips" — and says "TV exit polls Tuesday night showed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Likud set to retain the Israeli leadership at the end of a bitter election campaign.... Unlike years past, analysts had said the race between Likud and Zionist Union, the two leading factions, was too close to call with confidence, but the exit polls showed Netanyahu clearly better placed to build the next coalition."

The BBC seems more circumspect: "Israel election: No clear winner, exit polls suggest." Ditto the NYT: "In Israel, Race Between Netanyahu and Herzog Appears Too Close to Call." But the NYT has this clarification:
If the major parties remain tied or within a single seat once all the votes are counted, a critical factor will be the so-called blocs — right-wing parties expected to back Mr. Netanyahu, and left-leaning ones that favor Mr. Herzog. But those tallies remained unclear Tuesday evening.
UPDATE: NYT: "Netanyahu Soundly Defeats Chief Rival in Israeli Elections."

"Starbucks to encourage baristas to discuss race relations with customers."

"Beginning on Monday, Starbucks baristas will have the option as they serve customers to hand cups on which they’ve handwritten the words 'Race Together' and start a discussion about race."
The initiative follows several months of consultations with employees that started in December, in part as a result of protests that roiled several U.S. cities....

Cognizant of what a powder keg the issue of race is, Starbucks says its baristas will be under no obligation to engage with customers on the topic. The goal is simply to foster discussion and an exchange of ideas.

"Hillary may have a higher IQ than Bill and objectively be smarter, but man when it comes to optics and basic politics, she's pretty dumb."

A tweet from Liz Mair — quoted in the earlier post about Scott Walker's hiring her as a strategist — prompted me to write this poll:

"Is Chris Borland’s retirement the beginning of the end for the NFL?"

"Chris Borland is quitting...  as a linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers at 24 because he’s concerned about the long-term effects of repetitive head trauma. ."
Borland becomes the fourth player at the age of 30 or younger to retire in just the last week...

Scott Walker hires a strategist who supports same-sex marriage and abortion rights and tweets with obscenities.

Jessie Opoien writes in The Capital Times:
In a party that's still ironing out its approach on social issues, [Liz] Mair is a rarity in her support of same-sex marriage and (with some exceptions) keeping abortion legal. Walker has taken some heat from social conservatives for hiring pro-choice staffers in the past.
As for the tweeting language:
After Walker's breakout Jan. 24 speech at the Iowa Freedom Summit, Mair tweeted (language edits courtesy of the Cap Times, not Mair): "Also, political reporters: As a general rule, Walker doesn't use notes, teleprompters, etc. He actually knows what the f--k he's saying."

Days later, on Jan. 30: "I f--king told you people Mitt Romney won't run for President again. #dontbelievethehype."...

"I f--king ran much of the oppo v Obama in 2008 and I've never voted for him, nor would I," she added....

Just a few days ago, Mair tweeted about presumed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's email scandal, "Hillary may have a higher IQ than Bill and objectively be smarter, but man when it comes to optics and basic politics, she's pretty dumb."

Asked to explain, she added this: "The f--king press conference today and her whole handling of this email stuff? Are you paying any attention?"
Opoien amusingly relates this to Walker's ultra-bland Twitter style. She gives a few examples like: "Church, hot ham & rolls, then off with Matt to get some new dress shoes" and "Got hot ham & rolls at Fattoni's deli after church. Now watching playoff game (Wish Packers were playing)."

When have you ever taken a political position that was hard for you to take?

It's my hypothesis that people take the positions that are comfortable to them. Living in Madison, Wisconsin, I often wonder about the depth of the political opinions that seem to be everywhere. To express an opposing view would take some effort and maybe even injure your personal life, so it's easiest to go along and get along, even to adopt the views of the people around you and to avoid exploring the possibility of thinking something else.

These beliefs, then, which seem so entrenched, are actually  shallow beliefs. The behavior patterns and commitment to getting along may be deeply rooted, but the ideas themselves are fairly insubstantial. The engagement with politics itself is insubstantial. Why pay so much attention to politics when deviating from your comfortable point of view would only expose you to pain?

Have you ever taken a political position that was hard for you to take, that exposed you to consequences? Or has all your political posturing displayed you in a position that your friends and neighbors find appealing?

You know what got me thinking about this topic? Basketball! Over there in the basketball thread this morning, garage mahal — a Madison person — said: "The time of year when Republicans don their Badger wear proudly.....of the university and city they would like to see destroyed. On Wisconsin!" And I took a shot at that: "Oh, you know damned well the lefties would abolish college sports if they could."

That is, I tried to turn it into a political debate. I'm a little weird in that I enjoy being a spectator to political competition and making a lot of random observations. But I think most people don't enjoy fighting about politics. Sports is a refuge from that. It's perfectly easy to be on the same side as everyone in your vicinity. And the competition is fun and real — out there to be seen, not brewing and festering in other people's head — you can watch it and gab about it and feel cozily comfortable without any nagging sense that you should be thinking more deeply or showing some courage and individuality.

Harvard lawprof Noah Feldman says Robert Durst's confession is not admissible.

What we have is video of Durst, alone and looking into a mirror and saying "What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course." Feldman says he's "going deeply into the law" and "the circumstances of the statement" and encountering a "profound question about fantasy versus reality, the nature of a soliloquy, and the fascinating human strangeness unleashed by the era of reality television." All of that creates opportunities for presenting other evidence and making arguments about the meaning and weight of the words spoken by Durst, but it's not hearsay, because statements of a party offered by an opposing party are defined by the rules of evidence as not hearsay. [ADDED: Under some states' evidence rules, the statement of a party is hearsay but would fall within an exception to the rule against hearsay.] So what is Feldman's argument?

Bracketology 101 from the UW's resident bracketologist.

5 points of advice from Laura McLay, associate professor of industrial and systems engineering at the University of Wisconsin—Madison. Excerpt:
2. Instead of records, use sophisticated ranking tools. The seeding committee uses some of these ranking tools to select the seeds, so the seeds themselves reflect strength of schedule and implicitly rank teams. But some ranking methods are better than others. I like the LRMC (Logistic Regression/Markov Chain) method from some of my colleagues at Georgia Tech. The RPI (Rating Percentage Index) is a really bad ranking method.
Okay. Whatever that means! I can barely tolerate basketball, the indoor game with unusually large people — men in silky skorts — in a cramped, squeaky place. But: Wisconsin! So I looked at the NYT interactive tool, and I made it so Wisconsin plays Michigan State in final game. I used some sophisticated ranking tools to make that happen.

The answer to the question I had that was the reason why I was refraining from writing about that Tom Cotton Iran letter.

I couldn't understand the nature of the controversy without knowing whether the letter was actually sent to Iran, and I read a bunch of articles about the letter without seeing an answer. Finally, this National Review headline popped up: "The Cotton Letter Was Not Sent Anywhere, Especially Not to Iran."

It was just an essay in the familiar (if not trite) form of an "open letter." It's a rhetorical device that assumes a point of view, as if X is talking to Y. We can criticize the form and the content.

As content, it undercuts (or seems to undercut) what the President seems to be trying to do. I don't know what the President is really doing with respect to Iran, but I am observing what Iran is doing (being allowed/encouraged to do?) in Iraq. Members of Congress undercut the President sometimes, and having lived through the Vietnam era, I'm no going to say they should shut up entirely, but there is a line and we could argue about when it is crossed. I'd say Harry Reid went too far when he said "This war is lost."

But let's talk about the form. The form was great at getting attention, possibly too much attention. And speaking of attention, I don't think the letter is too well-written. The word "attention" is repeated in the first 2 sentences, and not in a good way. In an inattentive way. "It has come to our attention... we are writing to bring to your attention...." That comes across as pompous officialese, like something from a bill collector or from a lawyer who's trying to scare you into ceasing and desisting from something or other.

The letter proceeds to offer legal advice in an oversimplified and puzzling way. An executive agreement is only an executive agreement and will be regarded as an executive agreement. Yes, and? It's something the next president can "revoke... with a stroke of the pen." Style note: Get rid of any unintentional rhymes, especially when you're trying to sound all official and pompous.

The closing sentence features pretty words — "We hope this letter enriches your knowledge... and promotes mutual understanding and clarity...." Hope, knowledge, understanding, and clarity. Isn't this the standard move in letters from bill collectors and lawyers? End with a few nice words about going forward in a positive way?

I hope this blog post has enriched your knowledge and understanding as we move forward into the future.

March 16, 2015

"[I]f our educational system does not honestly and explicitly promote the central tenet of science—that nothing is sacred—then we encourage myth and prejudice to endure."

"We need to equip our children with tools to avoid the mistakes of the past while constructing a better, and more sustainable, world for themselves and future generations. We won’t do that by dodging inevitable and important questions about facts and faith. Instead of punting on those questions, we owe it to the next generation to plant the seeds of doubt."

Writes the scientist Lawrence M. Krauss in The New Yorker (in a piece that begins with a bit about Scott Walker's "I’m going to punt" answer on the question of evolution).

Maybe she said "Oh, Todd."

But it's in the "Meet the Press" transcript as "Oh God."
[Former press secretary to Hillary Clinton] KAREN FINNEY: It's crazy, you just can't imagine. The real problem, it's not the letter, it's whom it was addressed to. You don't send a letter to the Ayatollah...

CHUCK TODD: All right, I'm going to hit the pause button there, because we're going to have more fireworks, I have a feeling.

Finney is a former Hillary Clinton press secretary. It was only 2 weeks ago that the Democratic Party strategist Maria Cardona blurted out "Jesus!" on "Face the Nation." I'm keeping an eye on these female Democratic Party spokespersons. I think they are being misprepped for these Sunday shows. They're making a terrible impression... and not just for the fleeting expletives. Emotive emptiness like "It's crazy, you just can't imagine" is crazy. I just can't imagine why I am listening to her.

Finney was on the show to interact with Matt Bai, who was lively, articulate, and substantive:
CHUCK TODD: Matt Bai... [y]ou wrote something interesting this week.

MATT BAI: For once
See that's funny... silly, self-deprecating. It sets Todd up to be a little funny too:
CHUCK TODD: It was literally the only reason I brought you on. I'll set you up a little bit. You wrote, "It wasn't that [Hillary Clinton] couldn't answer the questions coming at her, it was that she didn't think she should have to. If I'm a Clinton advisor, that's a problem for me because this isn't 1992, when politics could be staged for the evening news. Transparency and authenticity are paramount in the social media culture and a lack of them is fatal, ask Mitt Romney."...

MATT BAI: ... Look, there are great advantages to being in the public arena as long as the Clintons have been. Organization, allies, experience, all of it. The disadvantage I think is that when you're there that long, you can miss changes in the political culture. You can fight the same battle you fought 20 or 30 years ago. But by the way, this happens to reporters too. I mean, we are not immune to missing changes... and you don't see what's in front of your face, somebody younger comes along and gets it. So I think she needs to change as a candidate and change her perspective in order to be successful, especially if you're running against a Jeb Bush, who makes openness obviously such a theme, a Rand Paul, who talks about civil liberties and secrecy in government. That's a sharp contrast with her approach.
Now, it's Finney's turn, and she's there to defend Hillary, but she's not flexible enough to pick up on any the things Bai just threw out (even though she'd obviously had the chance to read what Bai had written).
CHUCK TODD: Go over to Matt's point here a little bit. You know, did Secretary Clinton have "been there, done that" disease, where she assumed it was the '90s all over again and maybe was overly defensive?

KAREN FINNEY: You know, I don't think so. I thought she was trying to be sarcastic with her first answer. 
We had to pause the recording there. Sarcastic??!! Hillary was being sarcastic?!! Talk about unimaginable craziness! But what was Hillary's "first answer"? Finney doesn't remind us. I'm checking the transcript. I think it was her response to the question: "if you were a man today, would all this fuss being made be made?" Her answer was "Well, I will — I will leave that to others to answer." Is that what Finney was referring to? Did Finney really mean "sarcastic," implying that Hillary was mocking and contemptuous? Why throw that out first after the interesting things Bai said? And wouldn't sarcasm at the first question be "overly defensive," which would mean that her answer to Todd should have been "yes," not "You know, I don't think so"? Maybe Finney's first answer was intended to be sarcastic. I don't know.

Finney continues:
And I think also the fact that she went out there and did it, and also said, "Look, if I had it in hindsight, I would've done it differently." 
Also the fact what? This is Hillary's spokesperson?!  Not even speaking in sentences!
For all of those who criticized how slow she was, I think she also deserves credit that she went out there and did it.
We should give Hillary credit for showing up at all?! Also, what's with the "also"? What was the other thing she deserves credit for? Finney is a terrible spokesperson!
Because that's been the other criticism, right, that you wanted to see her come out. I don't think she in any way, shape, or form thought, and I think given your interview with Trey Gowdy it's quite obvious, this is not going away. This was not intended to end the conversation. 
So... the point is, I think, that Hillary did come out and speak and she wasn't trying to lay the controversy to rest? She's just beginning a conversation?!

After that less-than-worthless filler, Finney addresses what Matt Bai had written:
But I also thought, you know, Matt made an interesting point in his piece, also more broadly, about Hillary and this sort of thematic about Hillary in terms of the time at which she became first lady.
That sentence is a monument to stalling for time. Look at that phrase: "this sort of thematic about Hillary in terms of"! Is "thematic" even a noun? Yes, it means "a body of topics for study or discussion." Yeesh! Again with the endless conversation. I feel a sense of dread. This is what we'll get for 8 years with President Hillary — a sort of thematic about Hillary in terms of a conversation that never approaches the answer to the question we want answered (until it's gone on so long that it becomes possible to say we've already talked about it so long that you think you can look at us and say this has gone on too long and it's nothing but a partisan attack).

Finney continues:
And when that narrative about her and the Clintons were set...
The verb should be "was" and who are "her and the Clintons"? Finney is babbling.
... the country was not ready for someone like her. 
Like it's our fault?!
And so I think she's being held to a different standard. 
Oh, here it seems as if she's back to that first question about which Hillary was supposedly sarcastic — whether Hillary is being treated differently because she's a woman. I only understand that now because I looked up the press conference transcript. Anyone watching "Meet the Press" is thinking about whether they want to make the effort to extract the answer to the original question about whether Hillary can meet the transparency and authenticity demands of our social media culture.

Ironically, Finney's inane blabbing is answering the question. The answer is: no.

And I'm saying that from my little outpost in the social media culture.

"Like attorneys who comb through the tax code looking for loopholes to exploit for wealthy clients, clever state officials browsing through food-stamp rules..."

"... have figured out a way to game the program for their poorest citizens. The trick — called 'heat and eat' — is to give someone with no actual heating bill a token amount of home heating assistance — as little as $1 a year in some states, or a single dime a year in California. Sixteen states and Washington, D.C., use the gimmick to extract billions of dollars in extra federal food-stamp benefits that their citizens aren't really entitled to under the rules...."

Continue reading here.

"'What the hell did I do?' Mr. Durst whispers to himself in an unguarded moment caught on a microphone he wore during filming."

I'll put the rest after the fold in case you haven't watched the final episode of HBO's 6-part documentary "The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst."

"Virginia got jobbed when Duke and Wisconsin unjustly stole its No. 1 seed."

A USA Today headline that made me laugh.

"I must begin this email by admitting that I am not a loyal or dedicated reader. My husband, however, is..."

"... and as a result, I am often found listening to a quoted snippet, or even occasionally to an entire post, off of your blog. My husband enjoys your insights tremendously and I too have enjoyed those tidbits which I’ve heard vicariously." So begins an email I received recently:
My purpose in writing is to thank you for providing a long-awaited second opinion to my husband regarding his choice of pants.

"The Left’s Recusal Gambit/A prosecutor and his allies try to rig a judicial appeal in Wisconsin."

That's the title of a Wall Street Journal editorial that follows on a recent NYT editorial titled "Elusive Justice in Wisconsin."

From the WSJ:
If you’re a special prosecutor who keeps losing on the law, try rigging the judges. That’s the gambit in Wisconsin, where special prosecutor Francis Schmitz has filed a motion prodding judges to recuse themselves.

March 15, 2015

Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the Benghazi investigating committee, concedes that there is reason for the continuing inquiry.

On "Face the Nation" this morning, at the very end of the interview, Bob Schieffer asked: "Well, are you satisfied that there's anything else to find out about Benghazi?"

Cummings said: "I don't know. We have been at this now, Bob, since May. And I still don't know the scope of what we're looking for. I think there have been eight investigations. They have been done extremely well. And they — I think they have resolved most of the questions."

He could have said — like many Democratic Party partisans — that the matter has been thoroughly investigated and it's nothing more than partisan politics now. But he said "I don't know." Twice. And then he said "they have resolved most of the questions." Most. Most means not all. So clearly there are questions left.

Tom Cotton has "no regrets" because "if the president and the secretary of state were intent on driving a hard bargain, they would be able to point to this letter and say, they're right."

"When past senators like Joe Biden or Jesse Helms communicated directly with foreign leaders, past presidents, like Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, did just that. The fact that President Obama doesn't see this letter as a way to get more leverage at the negotiating table just underscores that he is not negotiating for the hardest deal possible. He's negotiating a deal that is going to put Iran on the path to a bomb, if not today or tomorrow, then 10 years from now."

On "Face the Nation" this morning.

Bill Clinton supposedly said: "The Obamas are out to get us any way they can."

Quoted in a NY Post article titled "Obama adviser behind leak of Hillary Clinton’s email scandal." The author, Edward Klein, cites sources inside "Bill Clinton’s camp" as having informed him that it was Valerie Jarrett, acting through others, who leaked details that made Hillary Clinton's email into a big issue. Klein also reports that "at Jarrett’s behest, the State Department" has begun "[s]ix separate probes," including Hillary's "use of her expense account, the disbursement of funds, her contact with foreign leaders and her possible collusion with the Clinton Foundation." Klein says: "the e-mail scandal was timed to come out just as Hillary was on the verge of formally announcing that she was running for president — and that there’s more to come." We're told Bill Clinton is "furious."

Klein offers this quote as supposedly coming from Bill: "My contacts and friends in newspapers and TV tell me that they’ve been contacted by the White House and offered all kinds of negative stories about us... The Obamas are behind the e-mail story, and they’re spreading rumors that I’ve been with women, that Hillary promoted people at the State Department who’d done favors for our foundation, that John Kerry had to clean up diplomatic messes Hillary left behind."

They’re spreading rumors that I’ve been with women...

It's so underhanded to make up the very stories people would be inclined to believe.

According to Klein, Obama/Jarrett's real objection to Hillary is that she's not liberal enough to preserve Obama's legacy:
“With Obama’s approval,” this source continued, “Valerie has been holding secret meetings with Martin O’Malley [the former Democratic governor of Maryland] and [Massachusetts Sen.] Elizabeth Warren. She’s promised O’Malley and Warren the full support of the White House if they will challenge Hillary for the presidential nomination.”

"C.I.A. Cash Ended Up in Coffers of Al Qaeda."

The NYT reports.
“God blessed us with a good amount of money this month,” Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, the group’s general manager, wrote in a letter to Osama bin Laden in June 2010, noting that the cash would be used for weapons and other operational needs.