October 16, 2004

Nice milestone reached.

The Sitemeter just recorded the half-millionth visitor. That's pretty cool. Thanks for reading, everyone ... and go Badgers!

UPDATE: What an exciting game! Congratulations to the Badgers.

Kerry actually did mispronounce "brat"!

I wrote yesterday morning, as soon as I heard on the radio that Kerry was coming to Wisconsin to go to a brat fry, that he'd better pronounce "brat" correctly. After "Lambert Field," he could not afford another Wisconsin pronunciation mistake.

Now, I see in Chris Sullentrop's report in Slate, that Kerry actually did mispronounce brat:
Here in Sheboygan, during a "Kerry-Edwards '04 Brat Fry," Kerry adds to the litany [of regional mistakes] Friday by referring to the local food as a short-A "brat," the way you would refer to a spoiled child. "Brot!" yell members of the crowd. For good measure, Kerry makes the mistake at the end of his speech, too. "Before I get a chance to have some braaats ..." "Brots!!" some women near me shout in frustration.
For crying out loud! How inept do your people have to be, when taking you to a brat fry not to tell you "remember it's brot"? You know, I wouldn't mind if the candidates didn't do any of this traveling around to colorful, small-town events. I'd rather see Kerry sit across the table from Tim Russert on "Meet the Press." But, good Lord, if you're going to use the hokey Americana method of campaigning, the whole point is to look as though you belong there when you're there.

UPDATE: An emailer quips: "So you're telling us that Kerry's staff failed to prepare him for the wurst?"

Drugs and politics.

The NYT demonstrates clearly why all the talk about dealing with high drug prices by allowing imports from Canada has been a complete waste of time.
It may make political sense to point to Canada as a solution to high prescription drug prices in the United States. But many economists and health care experts say that importing drugs from countries that control their prices would do little to solve the problem of expensive drugs in the United States, where companies are free to set their own prices.

To begin with, there are not enough Canadians, or drugs in Canada, to make much of a dent in the United States. There are 16 million American patients on Lipitor, for instance - more than half the entire Canadian population.
Exporting and reimporting the drugs costs money; the role of Canada is simply to pick up Canadian price controls. If price controls are a good idea, impose them directly, and save the money that is wasted shuffling the drugs across the border and back. If the candidates don't have the nerve to propose direct price controls here, they ought to shut up about Canada. Kerry seems more culpable for this political sham, because he's made drug importation from Canada a campaign pledge, but Bush didn't have the nerve to point out that this is a sham. He acted as though the only thing holding him back was that we'd need some way to ensure the drugs are safe.

Canadian-style price controls aren't just politically unpopular though:
Efforts to force down American prices to Canadian or European levels could radically change the economics of the pharmaceutical industry - which effectively depends on United States profits for all of its activities, including a substantial portion of its spending on research and development. ... John Vernon, an economist at the University of Connecticut, estimated that dropping drug prices in the United States to the levels in the rest of the world would cut drug companies' investment in research and development by 25 to 30 percent.
Drug pricing is full of complexity that the candidates never talk about. Complexity? Wasn't Kerry supposed to be the candidate with a mind for complexity? Oh, but that isn't the point. I'm sure both Kerry and Bush understand the basic complexity of the drug cost problem, they've just decided to set the matter of trying to solve the problem to the side, so they can use the problem itself to toy with the emotions of people who need drugs.

UPDATE: I hope people notice that Canada is not exactly interested in accommodating our drug reimportation schemes. The Financial Times reports (seen first on Drudge):
[G]rowing concern in Canada that growing exports to the US could lead to rising prices and shortages north of the border has prompted the Canadian International Pharmacy Association (Cipa), whose members include several of the biggest internet and mail-order drugstores, to act. “We don't want to give Americans the impression that we have unlimited supply for them to tap into on a commercial basis,” said David Mackay, the association's executive director. Americans, he added, “can't get everything from Canada. We can't be your complete drugstore”.

October 15, 2004

Kerry refuels my mistrust.

If there is one thing I have spent the entire campaign season trying to understand, it is: what would Kerry do in Iraq that is different from what Bush would do? Some Kerry supporters I know have tried to convince me that Kerry would be forced, just like Bush, to carry the effort in Iraq through to success, that he has made numerous statements indicating that he recognizes this to be so, and therefore that I should give up the mistrust I have had about him all this time. Today, the AP reports:
There is a "great potential of a draft" to replenish U.S. forces in Iraq if President Bush wins a second term, Democratic challenger John Kerry said on a campaign stop in Iowa.

Bush said in the second presidential debate that there would be no revival of the military draft under any circumstances if he is re-elected. "We're not going to have a draft, period," the president said.

However, Kerry told The Des Moines Register, "With George Bush, the plan for Iraq is more of the same and the great potential of a draft."
Quite aside from Kerry's attempts to scare people into voting for him with a trumped-up threat that Bush will revive the draft, this statement refuels my mistrust for Kerry. His argument about the draft implicitly asserts that he plans to withdraw from Iraq without adequately providing for a successful resolution of the conflict.

By the way, this morning as I was getting ready for work, I had the TV on, and within the space of 15 minutes I heard two different commercials, each with dark, pounding music and an ominous-sounding voiceover warning me of some dire consequence of Bush remaining in office. When I heard the first commercial, I thought, oh, some extreme group is trying to help Kerry but is only making him sound like a fearmonger with no real substantive issues. I started to feel sorry for Kerry, because he cannot control these groups, and then I heard, "I'm John Kerry, and I approved of this message." When I heard the second commercial, I thought, well, this one is really awful, and once again I was again surprised to hear, "I'm John Kerry, and I approved of this message."

UPDATE: Thanks to Instapundit for linking. Thanks to the emailer who sent this link to a relevant cartoon. I've gotten some email from Kerry defenders who question the logic of my inference, but the only other alternatives are things like: Kerry is just flat out lying about his draft threat, or Kerry is weirdly unrealistic enough to think the French and the Germans are going to supply the replacement troops. These options do not restore my trust. Kerry's would-be defenders are just advocating an alternative fuel source for my mistrust.

Maybe we shouldn't have registered all those young people to vote ...

"Team America" premieres and the NYT is disturbed to discover that the "South Park" guys are ... gasp! ... conservative! Reviewer A.O. Scott writes:
The obscene patriotic ditty that is the Team America theme song might be hyperbolic (and impossible to stop singing), but it is not sarcastic. Nor is a speech, delivered twice in the course of the action, most powerfully at the climactic moment, that is meant as an answer both to the Hollywood peaceniks and to the wishy-washy world community, whose representatives have gathered in North Korea for a peace conference.

Because of its graphic (though metaphorical) discussion of human anatomy, I can't quote any of the speech here, but it is one of the more cogent — and, dare I say it, more nuanced — defenses of American military power that I have heard recently.
Scott begins his review by saying we're in "a golden age of satire" (replete with the Times's obligatory praise for Jon Stewart), but he ends the review expressing frustration that he can't find a way to argue against it. But he does try. He says that as a big "South Park" fan he expected "a wholesale demolition of everything pious, hypocritical and dumb in American culture and society," but "Maybe I expected too much." Yes, that's the way I feel every time I watch "The Daily Show." I keep expecting them to satirize both sides. I even expect NYT articles that refer to "The Daily Show"--and there are so many--to admit it falls short because it doesn't attack "everything pious, hypocritical and dumb" in American politics. But maybe I expect too much.

UPDATE: This is interesting, from Entertainment Weekly (subscription needed):
After Parker and Stone received a letter from the Oscar winner [Sean Penn]— in which he condemned them for recent comments in Rolling Stone urging uninformed voters to stay away from the ballot booths — the duo had a laugh at the actor's expense. ''It was like he missed the point,'' says Stone. Adds Parker: ''It's obvious what he's really pissed off about is that we made him into a puppet and had him eaten by a panther [in the movie].... It's hysterical, because nothing could make us happier. It's like, Spicoli's pissed at you. What does he think, we're going to be like, 'Dude, Sean Penn's pissed at us! What should we do?''' One thing they briefly considered doing was taking Penn up on his offer to escort them around Iraq: ''We were going to take him over there and kick his ass,'' laughs Stone.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Llama Butchers laughs at the wishful thinking of the WaPo movie critic, whose cluelessness can be read in the review's subtitle, "'South Park' Creators' Left Jab at Jingoism May Backfire."

Someday, my prince will bop over.

Did you notice, in the debate the other night, that Bush used the word "bopped"? When a man offered to introduce him to the woman he ended up marrying "I said all right. Bopped over there."

I didn't pick up the word on first listening, but Maureen Dowd has it in her column today. Dowd is "just not that into" Kerry. Though she obviously detests Bush, she doesn't mind letting us see that she thinks, as she once said to David Letterman, that she thinks John Kerry is "Lame ... very, very lame."

UPDATE: Miswritten title corrected. Thanks to an emailer.

Early morning radio.

I'm about to go on Wisconsin Public Radio to talk about the Ten Commandments and the Establishment Clause. (The Supreme Court took cert in two cases on the subject this week.) It's strange to be sitting at home, before dawn, trying to feel awake, and using the telephone to talk on the radio. It's a call-in show too, so there's no telling what someone might ask. Are people up and ready to talk about God and government at 6 am? Are local separation-of-church-and-state types fired up to get all legalistic and ideological? Will there be people with religious conviction who are offended by impositions from the legal realm? Will callers draw the conversation far afield into other matters, like the Pledge of Allegiance? I like to feel ready for anything, but it is very early in the morning. The station has called, and I'm on hold, hearing the news over the phone, waiting for the show to begin. Hmmm... both presidential candidates will be in Wisconsin today ... Kerry, at a fish fry in Sheboygan.

UPDATE: We're halfway through the show, on an 8-minute news break. So far, the callers have been people who are opposed to religious displays, speaking from a political, not a legalistic, perspective. One caller expressed antagonism to President Bush for exploiting religion to his political benefit.

ANOTHER UPDATE: On the news break, the news of Kerry's appearance in Sheboygan is repeated, causing me to look back at my original post and see that I wrote "fish fry"--Friday fish fries are big in these parts--but that it is in fact a brat fry. I laugh to hear one announcer said to another: "Do you think someone told John Kerry it's a brat fry not a brat fry?" The reference is to Kerry's disastrous pronunciation of "Lambert" Field a few weeks ago. ... And now the show is over, and it's just starting to get light out. It was fun doing the show. The callers for the most part wanted to concentrate on why separating church and state is considered bad or good. That's getting to the heart of things.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's the WPR site, where there is streaming audio of the show (look for my name on the page, or if it's no longer the day of the show, search the archive). I'm listening to it now and hear that at one point I say "Tenth Amendment" instead of "Ten Commandments."

AND YET ANOTHER: So did anyone see whether Kerry named the name of our beloved sausage with appropriate Wisconsin vowelage?

AND EVEN MORE: I'm watching some news coverage of his Wisconsin visit--not the brat-fry part--and I'm hearing: "The bottom line is this: this economy has a bad case of the flu and we need a new medicine, ladies and gentleman"--stop, you're killing me!--"... The problem is, this President EYE-ther didn't understand what's happening to this economy and to the average family of America or ..." You (middle class Americans) say either, and I say EYE-ther.

But I don't care that he's really got an upper class accent. I've heard it in full force in the old tapes of his appearance on "The Dick Cavett Show" back in the early 70s, and I find it quite charming. It's who he authentically is, but he's got to mask that noblesse oblige stuff to run for President. But then he lets it slip and says "EYE-ther." If he would just be his authentic self, an upper class guy, trying to serve, being thoughtful and adult, I would probably love him. But he's been twisted and wrung out by the process. If he does win in the end, I hope he recovers that authentic self and governs well. But he shows us every day that he doesn't believe we want that man. It's really quite sad!

EXTRA, BONUS UPDATE: I concede that "EYE-ther" isn't just an upper class thing, and that it actually is the way all sorts of people say "either" in some regions. It sounds upper class to me. I grew up in Delaware and New Jersey. I'm assuming it sounds upper class to people in Wisconsin, but I'm not really an expert in Wisconsin pronunciation preferences. I'm still breaking the first syllable in "Wisconsin" after the "s" instead of after the "i"--that's how much of an outsider to Wisconsin-talk I remain after living here for 20 years.

October 14, 2004

Speaking of spittle-spotting.

As noted two posts down, the Washington Post and the NYT are paying attention to my paying attention to a glob of foam that formed in the corner of President Bush's mouth last night.

Me and presidential bodily fluids, talked about in the big newspapers! I feel like the new Monica Lewinsky!

Fascinating though this high-level MSM attention is, it's the Belmont Club that is linking to my spittle-spotting and saying something interesting about it. Is it "vacuous," as one of the commenters on that post says, to judge people from their faces or are we tapping into some deep, subconscious skill that evolution has built into our eyes and our brains?

You've come a long way, baby.

In the third 1992 debate, CNN correspondent Susan Rook asked a pointed question about the role of women in government: "when we look at the circle of the key people closest to you, your inner circle of advisers, we see white men only. Why? And when will that change?" Ross Perot's answer was this:
Well, I come from the computer business, and everybody knows the women are more talented than the men. So we have a long history of having a lot of talented women. One of our first officers was a woman, the chief financial officer. She was a director. And it was so far back, it was considered so odd, and even though we were a tiny, little company at the time, it made all the national magazines.

But in terms of being influenced by women and being a minority, there they are right out there, my wife and my 4 beautiful daughters, and I just have 1 son, so he and I are surrounded by women, giving -- telling us what to do all the time. …

If I remember correctly, Perot was considered ridiculously out of touch for thinking the women in his family had any relevance to the question asked.

Twelve years later, moderator Bob Shieffer ended a debate with this question:
We've come, gentlemen, to our last question. And it occurred to me as I came to this debate tonight that the three of us share something. All three of us are surrounded by very strong women. We're all married to strong women. Each of us have two daughters that make us very proud.

I'd like to ask each of you, what is the most important thing you've learned from these strong women?
What was embarrassingly clueless to bring up twelve years ago has become the substance of an entire question, the finale question of the night!

And where was the question about the role of women in government? We heard many questions about health care and education, which for some idiotic reason are considered to be questions relating to women. And of course, there's always Roe v. Wade to bandy about. But where was the Susan Rook question? Is it just that Bush really does have close women advisors, so why bring up a question that's hard on Kerry? Is it that women have actually made so much progress it's not an issue anymore? Or has feminism just drifted out of the mainstream, so that appealing to women voters is now mostly about promising to help them carry out their traditional role as caretakers of the young and the ailing?

The New York Times notices "Althouse.com."

I noticed from my Sitemeter that I'm getting referrals from the Washington Post, so I check over there and see:
Jim Rutenberg in the New York Times watched television commentators and "livebloggers" last night. ...

"Just after 10 p.m., the Democratic Web blogger Ann Althouse wrote . . . : 'A glob of foam forms on the right side of his mouth! Yikes! That's really going to lose the women's vote.' "
Oh, I'm blogging as a Democrat? Well, I read it in the New York Times, so it's probably true. Did Rutenberg read enough of my blog to see that I'm voting for Bush, or is he just concluding from the fact that I don't mind saying that I observed spittle in the corner of Bush's mouth that I must be opposed to him? Maybe Rutenberg is assuming that these bloggers are all so partisan that if they say one thing against a candidate, they must say everything against that candidate.

Why no referrals from the New York Times on Sitemeter? WaPo made my name into a link, but the Times doesn't do links. In fact, where WaPo has the ellipsis above, the Times has "on Althouse.com," which is neither the name of this blog nor the URL. And why two b's in "Web blogger"?

For all the thousands of things I've written about the election, the big recognition I get is for seeing spit in the corner of Bush's mouth? Ah, I suppose I deserve to get picked on for something small since I was picking on Bush for something small, which of course, for MSM, symbolizes what small, small, pajama-wearing, ankle-biters these bloggers--b-bloggers!--are.

What the candidates didn't say about judicial appointments.

I had the impression that Bush was asked whether he had a "litmus test" about Roe v. Wade for judicial appointments--in fact, in my live-blogging, I faulted Kerry for not answering the question whether he had a litmus test---but I see that it was Bush who took the question "would you like to [overturn Roe v. Wade]?" and rephrased it: "What he's asking me is, will I have a litmus test for my judges?" Bush answered his own question so quickly that Kerry, asked to respond got confused about how much time he had to answer.

Bush could easily give a negative answer the question as he rephrased it into "litmus test" form: "I will pick judges who will interpret the Constitution, but I'll have no litmus test." This hides the ball (very much the way judicial candidates themselves hide the ball). Decent judicial candidates that are opposed to Roe v. Wade have their opposition integrated into a coherent theory of constitutional interpretation. Bush must pick good judges, not one-issue anti-abortion types, so anyone with a chance at confirmation would be someone who would be presented as a well-qualified constitution interpreter. The antagonism to Roe would exist within a theory of constitutional interpretation. I presume Bush would pick judges with the sort of approach to interpretation that excludes Roe v. Wade.

Kerry gave more of an answer about judicial appointments than I gave him credit for last night. he said:
I'll answer it straight to America. I'm not going to appoint a judge to the court who's going to undo a constitutional right, whether it's the First Amendment, or the Fifth Amendment, or some other right that's given under our courts today -- under the Constitution. And I believe that the right of choice is a constitutional right.

So I don't intend to see it undone.
Clearly, Kerry wanted to send voters the message that his judicial appointees will uphold the abotion rights and Bush's will not. Like Bush, though, he presents his position in terms of wanting to appoint solidly qualified interpreters of the Constitution. But, of course, his appointees will be ones who follow a different approach to constitutional interpretation. Kerry expresses an interest in preserving the rights that have already been found in the Constitution. He says he doesn't want any rights "undone" and he states his own commitment to abortion rights. But Kerry still doesn't answer the "litmus test" question: he says he does not want judges to erode rights, but that elides the question of how a judge determines what rights are. Kerry says that he himself believes in the right to choose, but he doesn't say whether he would need to be assured that a judicial candidate shares his belief that that right is part of the Constitution. What if there were a judicial candidate committed to the enforcement of the rights that really inhere in the Constitution? Would that be enough for Kerry? I can't imagine that it would.

What might skew the polls on the third debate.

I've read a number of reports on the polling about who won last night's debate, and I have yet to see one point made that seems important to me: many people planning to vote for Bush--especially Democrats and independents who have decided to vote for him--have based their decision on Iraq and the war on terrorism and therefore felt little need to watch a debate that focused on domestic policy. I watched the debate because I wanted to blog about it and because I'm enough of a politics buff that I wanted to see how the candidates performed, but I was not very interested in the policy wonkery that filled most of the debate. I did not need to hear a debate about domestic policy to help me decide.

When asked who won the debate, as we've seen, people overwhelmingly choose the candidate that they support. That might make you look at a poll that shows Kerry over Bush by 53 percent to 37 percent and think, wow, Kerry is gaining a lot of supporters, but another way to look at that is: a lot more people who are or might become Kerry supporters were interested in watching a debate about domestic policy. I'd like to think the professional pollsters have already taken this into account and done some methodology tweaking. Maybe ABC did something different, which would explain why its poll shows the candidates tied.

October 13, 2004

The last debate live-blog of the presidential campaign.

Okay, I'm getting set up now for the big live-blog of the last debate. I've been pre-linked by Instapundit (thanks and best wishes for his dad) and I've already seen the day's traffic level shoot up, even though I can't be live-blogging yet. It hasn't started. Keeping to my standard form, I'll number the paragraphs to indicate the updates, starting a new number after each upload. I'm going au naturel tonight--i.e., no TiVo pausing--just straight live blogging--and not just so N.Z. Bear won't call me a sissy. I'm doing it because I'm weary--weary I tell you!--of all this ersatz debating. If I eschew TiVo, the ordeal will necessarily end in ninety minutes. You start TiVo-pausing and you can find yourself still struggling to get to the finish line three hours later. I'm not so interested in recording the details of the domestic policy disputes anyway, for reasons blogged about earlier today. So I'll just observe what I observe as the real-time minutes click by. I am not looking to find fault and run anybody down or plump anybody up. I'll honestly or humorously pass along the observations I happen to make.

1. Back to the clunky, oak-grained lecterns. Bush winks. Kerry's looking happy. Will our children live in a secure world? Kerry: Yes. Bush looks bright red on a broadcast channel and I switch to CNN and he isn't bright red anymore. Kerry is blaming Bush for any existing unsafeness (the ports and the cargo hold again). Bush also says we can be safe, unsurprisingly, and he's got a strategy for making us safe. Bush seems a bit jazzed up.

2. A question about the flu vaccine shortage gets Bush talking about tort reform and Kerry talking about health care reform. Bush is smiling a lot, and the left side of his mouth nevertheless turns down oddly. A glob of foam forms on the right side of his mouth! Yikes! That's really going to lose the women's vote. [UPDATE: the NYT and the WaPo take note of this, and only this, observation and I react to that attention here. Belmont Club also links to this observation, and I discuss that here.]

3. Taxes. Didn't listen, sorry. Jobs. Kerry doesn't like that Bush talked about education when asked about jobs. He makes an analogy between Bush and Tony Soprano, but he's speaking quickly and I don't quite pick it up. Another jobs question: maybe the President doesn't have that much control over jobs. Kerry says it's not all the President's fault, but Bush, of course, nevertheless has many faults that have resulted in the loss of jobs. Kerry's left eyelid is sagging. There's a lot of policy spewing right now. Bush: "wooo!" That's kind of how I felt. Bush slowly spells out the tax advantages he's given people. When you have more money in your pocket, you're able to buy things you want--I agree! I really doubt if many people would stick around to watch this.

4. Homosexuality: do you think it's a choice? Bush: I don't know. Tolerance is important, he says carefully, then launches into an explanation of why he's doesn't want courts to impose gay marriage on the country. Kerry firmly states that homosexuality is not a choice and spends a creepy amount of time re-informing us that Cheney's daughter is a lesbian (so what?) and that it's not a choice for her. He expresses trust in the restraint of the courts.

5. Abortion. Kerry repeats his position that he opposes abortion as an "article of faith" but can't impose it on others. He also says "faith without works is dead." He asserts that his public service is God's work, but he also supports the right to choose. A hard set of beliefs to fit together, but I think decent people do fit them together, though it's hard for abortion opponents to accept. Bush repeats his "culture of life" way of speaking about abortion. Unlike Kerry, Bush does not bring in religion, except to the extent that it is implied by the concept of "a culture of life."

6. Health care costs. Bush does a lively presentation of his proposals here. Kerry blames Bush for higher health care costs because a bill in Congress was blocked (but earlier he complained that Bush has never used his veto). Bush: Kerry has no record of leadership on health care--after so many years in the Senate. Kerry is able to cite an example of a health care bill of his, so Bush is misleading us again, he says.

7. Still with the health care costs. Kerry is reeling out a lot of proposals that sound pretty good, but that I am in no position to evaluate right now. Bush starts to insult the news media, then stops himself. That was sloppy. Bush points out the fundamental difference between him and Kerry: Kerry will move us to a government-run health care system and urges us to reject that. It will leave us with poor quality health care. Kerry responds that he isn't proposing a government run program. It's hard to tell if he is or not. Again, we're hearing a torrent of policy, and I think this is off-putting to most people. They're talking about insurance really. Don't you want to run when someone starts talking insurance at you? Not that it isn't important....

8. Saving social security. Bush says he will and explains various plans. Kerry objects to the part about letting young people set up separate accounts. He warns us of a two trillion dollar hole in social security. Somehow this makes Bush laugh. Kerry claims to be the fiscal responsibility candidate. And he won't cut benefits. Lots of promises. The key question is which candidate is inspiring more trust, because we really can't evaluate the proposals themselves. In this effort, Kerry presents himself as a competent problem solver, and Bush tries to warn us that Kerry will do those things liberals do.

9. Illegal immigration. Bush is vigorous and passionate here. He was a border governor. He expresses real empathy for those who are seeking employment. Kerry goes back to the subject of tax cuts from the previous question. I dislike going back to an earlier question, especially, as here, where it is done to repeat standard lines about taxes. It makes it seem as though he's not interested enough in the issue that is on the table. "It's against the law to hire people illegally." Gee, thanks, but isn't everything that is illegal against the law? "We have thumb-print technology," Kerry says wiggling all of his fingers.

10. I hope there aren't too many typos and glitches in these posts. I'm sure I'll cringe over them later. Back to the live-blogging: does Kerry want to raise the minimum wage? Of course! Raise away! If we pay people more, they will have more money and will buy more things! Okay. Bush: the key thing is education! No Child Left Behind.

11. Will Bush look for judges who will overturn Roe v. Wade? Bush: I won't have a litmus test. Both candidates rely on the idea that they will pick good judges. Kerry uses his time to go back to the subject of No Child Left Behind. He doesn't seem too interested at all in talking about what kind of judges he wants. Bush rebuts, saying Kerry clearly has a pro-Roe litmus test for judges. Bush adds some material about No Child Left Behind and Kerry uses his rebuttal to talk about that. Kerry never denies that he has a litmus test for judges.

12. The problem of overuse of the National Guard. Kerry uses this as an opportunity to repeat his points about Iraq (we went to war the wrong way, we need to work with the rest of the world, etc.). This is Bush's big final chance to defend his Iraq policy. Let's see what he does. "The best way to take the pressure off our troops is to succeed in Iraq." He has talked to the troops, and "their spirits are high." Speaking slowly, he brings up Kerry's "global test," and becomes emphatic saying that he won't give up our security decisions to other nations. Bush wins this exchange, I think.

13. Guns! Bush: go after the criminals, not the guns. (Not surprising.) Kerry: he's a hunter, you know. But we need to control assault weapons. Terrorists will come here and go to gun shows and buy assault weapons.

14. Do we still need affirmative action? Kerry: sadly, yes, and Bush is actually doing things that are making affirmative action more needed. Kerry's for affirmative action for women and for other groups as well as for racial minorities. But he is opposed to quotas. Bush: he doesn't like quotas either, but the key here is (again) education. He speaks about the affordability of education. (Pell grants are mentioned a lot tonight.) He wants to encourage entrepreneurship: "That's hopeful, and that's positive."

15. What part does faith play in making presidential decisions? Bush: he speaks well here. Faith is important in his life, he prays a lot, and he feels the prayers that are offered for him. He speaks of the importance of inclusion. "I believe God wants everybody to be free" and that belief has driven his foreign policy. He says he thinks God made it possible to bring freedom to Iraq, which I'm sure he'll catch hell for. Kerry: "Everything is a gift from the Almighty." Kerry does not chide Bush for what he's said about melding religious belief and governmental decisionmaking, which is a wise choice on his part. But I think his supporters will jump all over Bush for this.

16. Bringing the nation together. Kerry: Bush has squandered the goodwill that existed right after 9/11. Bush has been divisive and ideological. Kerry is going to work with "my friend John McCain" to bring more campaign finance reform. Bush expresses disappointment at how partisan Washington is. But it was nice how they got No Child Left Behind passed (that law is getting a lot of mentions tonight). He makes a big point of saying McCain is for him ... because of Iraq. The lectern is pounded.

17. Talk about the strong women in your life. Bush gets some laughs from the audience who aren't supposed to make a peep. He can't say how much he loves Laura, and he sounds really sweet and warm. Kerry laughs saying both men "married up," and it seems to be too much a reference to how incredibly rich Teresa is. Without saying that he loves his wife, he switches over to talking about his mother!

18. Kerry's closing statement: something about "ideers" and reaching higher and grabbing dreams. "Embark on that journey with me." Pretty platitudinous. Bush: there's painting in the Oval Office that has something to do with seeing the sunrise and hence with the way things are getting better in the U.S.

19. Tim Russert is saying Kerry went all out trying to appeal to women, but Kerry's biggest mistake was snickering over his economically beneficial marriage and forgetting to say a thing about loving his wife right after Bush seemed almost overcome with emotion saying how much he loved Laura!

20. Rudy Giuliani is saying that Bush did a great job expressing his love for his wife--I agree--and his deep feeling about religion, while Kerry was just spewing statistics. I think both candidates spend a lot of time blabbing about policy details that you couldn't really follow competently, but that at those two key points, as Giuliani said, Bush revealed the deep personal side of himself, while Kerry was always cool and businesslike. Dukakis-like.

Dylan's "Chronicles": Chapter 4 (Part 2).

I continue with my reading of the Dylan autobiography. Scroll down to find four earlier posts.

Man whose politics are described, surprisingly uncritically, and who is said to look like a movie star: David Duke. P. 184.

Movie with a title that was the title of a Bob Dylan song, which Dylan drops in to see and concludes has a lead character just like the guy in the song: "The Mighty Quinn." P. 187.

What Dylan orders at Antoine's in New Orleans when he needs to go record later and doesn't want anything to "bog [him] down": turtle soup. P.193.

Why you need to see Tennessee Williams's plays live: "to get the full freak effect." P.196.

One thing Dylan always loved about his wife: "She's always had her own built-in happiness." P. 201. (You figure out the implication there!)

What Dylan liked about the Beatles: "They offered intimacy and companionship like no other group." P. 204.

Dylan's prayer: "I pray that I can be a kinder person." P. 206.

Actor "nobody could hold a candle to": Mickey Rourke. P. 213.

Hardship Dylan endured while recording "Oh, Mercy" in New Orleans: no air conditioning. P. 213. Why?? He doesn't like air conditioning.

Adjective describing all records not recorded by Sam Phillips: "fruity." P. 214. (Chilling discovery made on finding that Sam Phillips link: "Originally Phillips wanted to study law, but because of circumstances decided to go into radio." Thank God for circumstances.)

Description of bad records: "padded and schmaltzy odes to flunky-ism." P. 220.

Quote: "Sometimes you say things in songs even if there's a small chance of them being true." P. 220.

Debate weary.

Yes, I'm going to live-blog/simulblog the debate tonight, but it will be from a position of debate weariness. Since national security issues are determining my vote, I am much less interested in what the candidates might say about domestic policy, which is the subject of tonight's debate. And most of the plans and promises we hear about domestic policy entail congressional activity, so nothing specific the candidates say really counts much. We already know their general tendencies. I expect a dreary round of incantations of the sort you could build a drinking game on. But the truth is you could get drunk playing a drinking game with one rule: take a drink whenever anyone says "health care."

I did read Adam Nagourney's front page piece about the debate in today's NYT, which started out, to my irritation, reading like a Kerry campaign press release. But it got interesting a few paragraphs in (maybe the editors only lean on the early paragraphs). I was surprised at this from Donna Brazile, referring to the news that "Kerry is going to turn up his efforts to portray the president as a tool of special interests":
"The reason you're hearing this tough populism is because he's underperforming with some of these groups, and this is a way of bringing it home."
I would expect Brazile to frame everything she says to try to advance Kerry's case, yet this statement plays right into the suspicion that he lacks a moral core and will say whatever is needed to get elected.

"Guess the bulge."

The bulge under President Bush's suit jacket is now permanently enshrined in the annals of pop culture after David Letterman, on last night's show, introduced the "Guess the Bulge" game, complete with oft-played "Guess the Bulge" theme song. Rupert Jee played the Bush role with a T-Bone steak taped to his back under his jacket, and the contestant, an NYU musical comedy major dragged in off the street, managed to guess the bulge (extensive palpating helped) and win an electric fondue pot.

Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my lawsuit.

I see that yesterday I said I was going to read the Court of Appeals cases about the Ten Commandments and have something to say here, but in fact I never got around to reading them carefully. I got sidetracked into reading Dylan's "Chronicles" again last night, and I don't have anything interesting to say about the Ten Commandments Court of Appeals cases yet. Maybe later. This is not to say that I don't find the legal issues interesting, I just sometimes get tired--especially during my casual, off-hours reading--of one-sided perseverations of the legalistic kind. The subheading of my blog up there begins "Politics and the aversion to politics" and it might well continue "law and the aversion to law." Pop culture is one of my other big topics here, and I also have a love/hate relationship with pop culture. And let me come at this Ten Commandments topic from the pop culture angle. Because how did so many of those Ten Commandments monuments find their way onto public grounds, leading to so many of today's lawsuits? Was it a purely spiritual matter? Was it an improper mixing of religion and politics? Slate has a good collection of images of various Ten Commandments displays (linked by the Slate piece yesterday noting the cert grants). Check out image number 11. Here's the caption:
About half the pending Decalogue cases involve ACLU contests over one of 4,000 identical 6-foot granite monuments donated in the 1950s to communities around the country by Cecil DeMille and the Fraternal Order of Eagles. Here's synergy at work: DeMille wanted to promote his movie The Ten Commandments, and the Eagles wanted to fight delinquency and inspire people "with a renewed respect for the law of God."
One feels a certain temptation to say what could be more a part of our shared American culture than the promotion of a big Hollywood movie? Salon had an article last April, arguing against the notion that the commercial, movie-related origin of the monuments should make us see them as any less religious:
A great many articles written about the contested Eagle monoliths implied or stated outright that DeMille's involvement was strictly promotional. As proof, they noted that actor Yul Brynner (Pharoah Ramses in the film) had spoken at the very first monolith's dedication ceremony, in Milwaukee in 1955. Charlton Heston dedicated another in North Dakota.

"They've got it all wrong," Sue Hoffman told me, exasperated. Hoffman has spent the last two years researching a book on the history of the Eagle monoliths. She has tracked 160 of them and is confident the figure 4,000 is exaggerated. She also says she confirmed that the actors who appeared at dedications -- there were only three -- donated their time. The program was decentralized and grass-roots-based. Local Eagle aeries raised the money for each monolith, and their exact locations were agreed upon with local governments. Furthermore, Ten Commandments monoliths continued to be placed through the 1960s, well after the film's release. Though the dedications coincided with local openings of the film in some cases, and the Eagles endorsed the movie in a mailing to their members, she says the DeMille-Eagles partnership was hardly the publicity juggernaut alluded to in the media.
DeMille, though, was smart enough to reach out to the Eagles while his film was still in production. ...

DeMille heard about the Eagles printing keepsakes of the Ten Commandments for juvenile courts and schools around the country. (Hoffman suspects these earlier versions are partly responsible for the figure 4,000.) In a letter written at the foot of Sinai and published in the Eagles' magazine, DeMille, with his typical melodrama -- the fervor that feels like artifice, but might be fervor -- endorsed the program:
"To guide young people in today's complex world," he wrote, "we need all the light that expert knowledge and advanced scientific techniques can give. But most of all we need the Divine Code of Guidance which was given to the world ... the Ten Commandments. They are older than Moses, older than this mountain, because they are not laws: they are the law."
He telephoned the program's conceiver, Minnesota Juvenile Court Judge E.J. Ruegemer. Ruegemer, who is now 102, could not be reached for this article, but has recounted elsewhere that DeMille sought to expand the program. He proposed brass plaques. Ruegemer suggested full-blown sculptures, hewn from Minnesota granite. ...
If the constitutionality of the monuments depends on the original motive for putting them there--and there is some legal argument that the original motive counts--then we could get bogged down debating just how commercial this monument-erecting project really was. But religion was surely mixed with commerce, as it often is. If underlying economic motives could justify the inclusion of religion in government ... well, we could have some even testier arguments about religion, couldn't we? Which would be ironic, considering that one of the main reasons for having the Establishment Clause in the first place is to spare us from nasty divisions based on religion.

What's interesting to me about Cecil B. DeMille's role in putting up the monuments is that it calls attention to a high culture/low culture distinction many of us make when we think about the depiction of the Ten Commandments in public spaces. Look back to photographs 2 and 3 in the Slate slide show: these are depictions of the Ten Commandments in the Supreme Court's own building. What is usually pointed out about these depictions is that they are part of a larger context, showing the history of lawgiving. That secularizing context, the argument usually goes, is what saves the display from a constitutional challenge. But quite aside from that, you know very well that the Supreme Court would never have beautiful, valuable sculpture chiseled out of a historical structure. We're dealing not just with the problem of mixing religion and government, but with elite attitudes about high and low culture. The elegant friezes on the Supreme Court building are high culture, and the chunky, small-town, granite monuments are kitsch, and, as such, subject to attack.

October 12, 2004

Dylan's "Chronicles": Chapter 4 (part 1).

Continuing with my reading of Dylan's autobiography. (I do Chapter 1 here and Chapter 2 here, and Chapter 3 here.)

How Dylan felt in 1987, coming off a tour with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers:
I felt done for, an empty burned-out wreck. ... Wherever I am, I'm a 60's troubadour, a folk-rock relic, a wordsmith from bygone days, a fictitious head of state from a place nobody knows. [P. 147.]
How he felt about his old songs then:
It was like carrying a package of rotting meat. [P. 148.]
Line on p. 147 that foreshadows the role the Grateful Dead would play in his revival:
It's nice to be known as a legend, and people will pay to see one, but for most people, once is enough.
Obviously, the Grateful Dead, who show up on p.149, knew how to do live shows that stoked a hunger to see multiple shows. The Dead challenge him to do much more with his old songs than Tom Petty ever had, and he runs off, has a drink in a bar, and feels transformed by the singer of a jazz combo in the bar. Then he's able to go back and sing again with the Dead. He seems to enjoy giving credit to the unnamed jazz combo in the bar and unwilling to credit the Dead. Somehow, I suspect it was the Dead that shocked him out of his complacency, that their ability to inspire people to come back to see them over and over made him jealous, and that the drink and the mellow music only allowed him to calm down and meet the challenge the Dead had laid in front of him.

Most grandiose statement in the book so far:
If I didn't exist, someone would have to have invented me. [P. 153.]
Dylan's attitude toward his fans from the 60s (like me):
[T]his audience was past its prime and its reflexes were shot. [P. 155.]
Secret to a system of playing the guitar taught by aging blues guitarist Lonnie Johnson:
[T]he number 3 is more metaphysically powerful than the number 2. [P. 159]

Second reference in the chapter to songs as meat:
I had been leaving a lot of my songs on the floor like shot rabbits for a long time. [P. 162.]
Thing on TV that bums Dylan out: Johnny Carson does not ask soul singer Joe Tex to come sit on the couch after his song. P. 163. He seems to view this as a specific rejection of Joe Tex--did Johnny invite the singers over generally?--and he identifies with Joe Tex. Outsider.

Great play that just seemed like a big drag: "A Long Day's Journey Into Night." P. 167.

What spending time with Bono is like: "eating dinner on a train." [P. 174.]

"That thump-thump-thump sound that he's going to hear above his grave when he's dead is me doing the hokey-pokey."

So said playwright Tony Kushner to a class today at the University of Wisconsin-Madison--as reported by my son. The subject was how mad he gets at critics who give him bad reviews.

Cert grants!

My previous post refers to the Supreme Court's grant of certiorari in two cases involving public Ten Commandments monuments. I'm quite interested in these cases--I teach a Religion & the Constitution class. I'm about to read the two Court of Appeals cases carefully, and I'll write something up about them later today. Friday, I'm going to talk about the cases on Joy Cardin's Wisconsin Public Radio show (on the "Ideas Network" stations, here). So if you're up between 6 and 7 am...

There is a second cert grant related to religion, Cutter v. Wilkinson. Here the question is the constitutionality of a federal statute--the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act--requiring accommodations for prisoners whose practice of religion is substantially burdened. Among the prisoners bringing the lawsuit are "a Wiccan witch, a Satanist, [and] a racial separatist who is an ordained minister of the Christian Identity Church." The law resembles to some extent the broader Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which the Court held could not be applied to the states because Congress lacked power to pass that law under the enforcement clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The newer law relies on Congress's spending power: state institutions must accept the requirement to accommodate religion as a condition if they want to receive federal funding. The challenge to this law is based on the Establishment Clause. In City of Boerne v. Flores, the 1997 case that struck down the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Justice Stevens wrote a concurring opinion to say that that statute violated the Establishment Clause. But Stevens is the strongest separationist on today's Court, so it is hard to predict how well an argument about separation of church and state will work on the other Justices, but I note that recent Establishment Clause cases--such as Zelman and Locke--have reflected federalism values. I think in this new case, the majority may find it appealing to free the states from prisoner litigation and rely on their own judgment about how much to accommodate religion.

Then there were a couple of cert grants of the kind that only procedure types--and here I include myself as well--get excited about. The Court is finally going to deal with an oft-noted problem with the Supplemental Jurisdiction statute (28 U.S.C. § 1367), and, after all these years, it's going to talk about the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. At last! How long we have waited!

Christopher Reeve and politics, the Ten Commandments and politics.

Is the death of Christopher Reeve a gift to Kerry and Edwards? Watch them weave Reeve into their usual material about embryonic stem cell research.

Is the Supreme Court's grant of certiorari in two cases about the constitutionality of public Ten Commandments monuments a gift to Bush? Expect the Ten Commandments to take its place next to the usual material in his speeches about "Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance.

UPDATE: That first link is just to the main Drudge page, which was featuring remarks by Edwards taking advantage of Reeve's death to push the stem cell research issue. That story has now dropped down and still doesn't have a specific link. Here's a story today, in the Boston Globe about Senator Frist criticizing Edwards for the use of Reeve's death this way. What is interesting is that mainstream news did not run the story that Edwards was doing this. Only when Frist criticized him did the story break. The linked Globe article has the Edwards quote: "If we do the work that we can do in this country, the work that we will do when John Kerry is president, people like Christopher Reeve are going to get up out of that wheelchair and walk again."

ANOTHER UPDATE: According to the WaPo, which notes that Frist called Edwards's use of Reeve's death "crass, opportunist" and "shameful," Edwards's press secretary, Mark Kornblau, said "What's crass and shameful is that Bill Frist is doing the dirty work of right-wing blogs and Rush Limbaugh." Hmmm ... so maybe now whenever a political figure criticizes another, he can be attacked for not only sounding like a blog, but behaving like some sort of puppet of the blogs. There really is an absurd fear of blogs setting in, isn't there?

"Diary of a Political Tourist."

Having thoroughly enjoyed "Journeys with George," I was looking forward to seeing Alexandra Pelosi's new HBO documentary, "Diary of a Political Tourist." Alessandra Staley's review of it in yesterday's NYT succeeded in lowering my expectations:

Once again she wields her hand-held camera throughout the Democratic primary with the cheeky presumption of an heiress who thinks people laugh at her jokes because they find her funny. As Joe Lieberman and other candidates make fools of themselves dancing to her tune, Mr. Kerry remains unfailingly courteous and in control. Like William Powell in the 30's screwball comedy "Our Man Godfrey," he is the butler who outwits and outclasses his employers at every turn.
Oh, I think somebody's for Kerry. Staley goes on to devote most of her column to pushing an alternative to the Pelosi film:
"Frontline" presents side-by-side résumés of Mr. Bush and Mr. Kerry, which is, of course, hideously unfair to Mr. Bush. ... "Frontline" does not cut the president any breaks. ... "The Choice 2004" makes the case that a cynical ruthlessness lies beneath Mr. Bush's piety and campaign trail bonhomie. ... [The director Nicholas] Lemann concludes that for all Mr. Kerry's hard work and determination, it is actually Mr. Bush who is the most ambitious of the two.
Thanks, Alessandra, but I watched Alexandra. Pelosi followed the Democratic candidates around during the primaries, and it was fun and nostalgic to see them all again. I would have voted for Joe Lieberman if he had stayed in the race until the Wisconsin primary--I voted for John Edwards--and it was nice seeing him again. He'd go right up to the camera and fool around with Pelosi in a relaxed way. So would Howard Dean, though Dean never really seems relaxed. A Kerry supporter like Alessandra Staley might have a problem with the film--though Lord knows Pelosi is a Democrat--because Kerry is very stiff in front of the camera. The man is an introvert: it just doesn't work as well in Alexandra's home video style. Pelosi doesn't really present any political issues and arguments. She just shows what it's like behind the scenes, eating bad food and traveling around to obscure places. Kerry is a man who likes to preserve a dignified space around himself, and you can see that in Pelosi's film. Lieberman is a guy who will let Pelosi get right up next to him while he wolfs down a fried Twinkie and who will just go ahead and burst into singing "My Way" on camera. It has virtually nothing to do with which man would make the better President, but it's funny on camera. It's funny to see most of the candidates fooling around, and it's funny--perhaps painfully--to see Kerry trying to stay out of the film. At one point, he tries to go for a walk by himself, but he has nowhere he can walk to and Pelosi shows us the people with cameras who are hanging back, but still filming the Senator's awkward meditative walk.

P.S. Bush fans will find things in the beginning of the film to enjoy, as Pelosi sneaks her video camera into the White House Christmas party, then has to aim it at the floor when she's near the President. We hear him talking as Pelosi tries to get him to let her film him again. "I already made you famous once," he says, with charming good humor.

October 11, 2004

Least needed New Republic article.

"Why Jimmy Fallon Isn't Funny.

Dylan's "Chronicles": Chapter 3.

Continuing with my reading of Dylan's autobiography. (I do Chapter 1 here and Chapter 2 here.)

Poet Dylan is excited to meet who turns out to be (a) a windbag and (b) depressing as hell: Archibald MacLeish.

What MacLeish says about Michelangelo that sounds more like he was talking about himself: he "had no friends of any kind and didn't want any, spoke to no one." P. 112.

Dylan's "deepest dream" at the time the counterculture was exploding and looking to him to lead the way: "a nine-to five existence, a house on a tree-lined block with a white picket fence, pink roses in the backyard." P. 117.

Dylan's favorite of all the strange labels applied to him during the period when he was trying to stay out of the public eye: "Buddha in European Clothes." P. 124.

Adjective used to describe the NYT's interpretation of his songs: "quacky." P. 119.

Reason, in addition to the fact that he didn't want to go places where people might bug him, that he went to see Frank Sinatra, Jr. perform at the Rainbow Room: he really likes show tunes. P. 126.

How David Crosby, who accompanied Dylan to Princeton to accept his honorary degree, described the people who handed out the degree: "Bunch of dickheads on auto-stroke." P. 134.

Dylan's advice to Al Kooper, which was not taken, leaving Kooper "in eternal musical limbo": "All he needed was a dynamo chick singer." P. 137.

Album that I listened to a lot when I was in college that the end of this chapter is about recording: "New Morning."

Sweet song on that album I love: "Winterlude."

How to stop entertaining excrescences.

Which of Andrew Sullivan's reasons for supporting Kerry is the most tortured? I think it's this:
[A Kerry presidency] would deny the Deaniac-Mooreish wing a perpetual chance to whine and pretend that we are not threatened, or to entertain such excrescences as the notion that president Bush is as big a threat as al Qaeda or Saddam.

Because you never heard a peep out of the left during the Clinton presidency, did you?

But this line surprised me more:
One of the central questions in this election is simply: can John Kerry be trusted to fight the war on terror? Worrying about this is what keeps me from making the jump to supporting him.

Sullivan hasn't declared his support for Kerry yet? I guess I don't read him enough anymore to have noticed he hasn't literally declared his support. I do read him enough to know he's "excitable." He used to idolize Bush so much. Maybe in the end, he's going to find his way back to Bush!

UPDATE: An emailer notes this exchange on Tim Russert's show from September 25th:
TR: If you had a ballot in front of you right now, for president, what would you do?

AS: I'd probably write in McCain-Lieberman.

Would Kerry reconceive the insurgency in Iraq as a problem of organized crime too?

There is a lot of focus today on Senator Kerry's statement, which appeared in the NYT Magazine yesterday:
"We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance ... As a former law enforcement person, I know we're never going to end prostitution. We're never going to end illegal gambling. But we're going to reduce it, organized crime, to a level where it isn't on the rise. It isn't threatening people's lives every day, and fundamentally, it's something that you continue to fight, but it's not threatening the fabric of your life."

CNN.com reports that the Bush campaign is building an ad around that quote. Much of the commentary, quite understandably, focuses on the question whether Kerry would fight the war on terrorism forcibly enough. That was my initial take on the article when I read it Saturday night. But let me raise another question, coming at Kerry's mindset from a different direction. Kerry's defeatism about the war in Iraq has long troubled me. He makes statements indicating that he thinks we've become mired in an unwinnable mess. But if he is willing to perceive the war on terrorism as a chronic crime problem that must be dealt with but also accepted as part of everyday life, why not reconceive the insurgency in Iraq the same way? Iraq has a serious organized crime problem, which should not be overdramatized as a war, but lived with and dealt with through persistent and effective law enforcement. I realize he's unlikely to say this now, because it is in his political interest to spread woe about the mess--to use his word--in Iraq, but if his prosecutor's mind really does think in terms of organized crime for the war on terror, why not for Iraq?

Where I lost confidence in the Washington Post article about the jurisprudence of Justice Thomas.

"His rethinking of legal doctrine extends to more obscure areas such as the Constitution's commerce clause .... "

The Commerce Clause is obscure?

UPDATED to correct the title: I had L.A. Times, but it was the Washington Post. Sorry. Yes, yes, I know: how can I criticize them when I'm getting something wrong? But, really, what is less obscure in the Constitution than the Commerce Clause? One gets the sense that people think nothing in the original Constitution is supposed to matter, that all the good stuff is in the amendments.

October 10, 2004

"Let me embrace you, O millions! This kiss is for the whole world!"

We finally got to see the inside of the glamorous Overture Hall, as the Madison Symphony Orchestra performed its first concert in its new home. Why shouldn't the orchestra play the single greatest piece of music in the history of the world? It looked like this today as the orchestra prepared to play Beethoven's Ninth Symphony:

We were lucky to get tickets, two of the last available in this audience of 2,251.
Even to the worm ecstasy is given,
and the cherub stands before God.

Where to see fall foliage in the Madison area.

Here is some great foliage-viewing advice just sent to the Law School email list by a colleague who polled the law school staff for suggestions (and gave me permission to copy this):
Devil's Lake. When you first enter the park, and you look at the lake, the trail on the right side of the lake is actually easier to hike -- more family and "out of shape people" friendly. The trail on the left side of the lake is more challenging, so it depends on what level of work out you want.

On the way, check out Ski Hi Apple Orchard, just south of Baraboo on Ski Hi Road (turn right going north on Highway 12, shortly after the end of the 4-lanes). Grab a bag of apples and a couple caramel apples, then take Ski Hi Road over to Devil's Lake State Park.

Parfrey's Glen, on the way to Devil's Lake, if you take the Merrimac Ferry. From the north side of the ferry, take Bluff Rd. north to DL, turn left. The parking lot for Parfrey's Glen is 1-2 miles from the intersection on the right. It is marked and a State Park fee area. There is a 1 or 1.5 mile walk from the parking lot to the Glen. Very well maintained trail and beautiful.

Baraboo Bluffs

Indian Lake County Park, on Hwy 19 west of Hwy 12. [closeby and a popular choice]

Gibralter's Rock, near Lodi. The drive up through Lodi or along the Wisconsin River from Sauk City is nice in itself. Both towns have nice eating places. But the real star is the Rock. There is a parking place near the bottom, then a stiff climb up about 400'. There is a sheer 200'cliff to the south, looking back toward Madison. Especially beautiful at sunset. Gibralter's Rock is just south of the ferry. Take 113 towards Lodi, turn west of V, and then the second left on VA. The rest will be self-explanatory. You have to park and walk the last half mile or so to the top of Gibralter's Rock.

Blue Mounds, west of Mt. Horeb. Also the adjoining Brigham County Park The north facing slope of Brigham is predominantly maple and therefore colorful in the fall.

Kettle Moraine. There is a path you can walk completely around Lake Geneva, It's beautiful anytime, but especially in fall. Fewer tourists as well. If you walk it completely it's 28 miles. You could park at Fontana, Williams Bay or Lake Geneva, walk awhile and come back. I'd take 90 down to Hwy11, through Delavan and then head east on Hwy 50 to Lake Geneva. On 50 look for Snake Road, take that, it's a pretty winding road, the Wrigley's estate is on it (Green Gables), it will hook back up to 50, take that into Lake Geneva. Park near the library (on 50) and walk west towards Williams Bay, that section has the oldest, and I think, prettiest homes. Lots of trees and colors. Walk until you feel like turning around and come back and eat in Lake Geneva.

For a drive, Hwy J west of Hwy 78 (just north of Mt. Horeb).
UPDATED to fix some bad links. Blogger has been acting up today. I'm really glad to get this info because yesterday, on a foliage drive, I just used the old method of driving out into the country, getting lost, then trying to find my way home again. If people email me with more advice--e.g., where to eat in Lake Geneva--I'll update this post.

ADDED: When I hear "Indian Lake," I think of this. Don't you?

ANOTHER UPDATE: An emailer offers this:
There is an eatery called Popeye's (NOT to be confused with the chicken chain!) across the street from the pier in downtown Lake Geneva that has some pretty good eats. On the west shore, Chuck's in Fontana has both an upstairs formal dining area with decent food and a downstairs bar where the racing sailors hang out. (I understand that one night the America's Cup served as the tip jar. I missed that party, unfortunately.)

Something else for people headed that way to consider might be the Elegant Farmer outside Mukwonago. It's a country store with lots of the usual stuff but they sell these apple pies baked in a bag that are excellent.
UPDATE ADDED IN OCTOBER 2005: I came back to this post to figure out where to drive and figured other people would too, so I'm going to add an email that I just got:
I grew up in Lake Geneva and your recent post about the fall colors made me downright nostalgic. I agree that the walk between LG and Williams Bay is the best stretch. One of the spots on that walk, Swedish Covenant Church bible camp Covenant Harbor, was run by the father of one of my best friends growing up.

Anyway, to supplement your eatery list, I would add Scuttlebutts. I don't think much of Popeyes, feeling it to be a little too much of a factory for true Lake Geneva. Scuttlebutts, where my brother toiled in the kitchen for two summers some years ago, is just down the street from Popeyes and a much more pleasant experience. Every seat in the (admittedly) small house gets a view of the lake.
UPDATE ADDED IN JULY 2012: I fixed a lot of links that had gone bad, with help from an emailer.

Dylan's "Chronicles": Chapter 2.

Continuing my reading of the new Dylan autobiography from yesterday.

Dylan describes the characters he met in New York and the books that he read in the well-stocked library in one of the places where he crashed in those early days. You sense the material is being gathered for songs like "Desolation Row," where arty New Yorkers mingle with historical and literary figures. He seems to learn to do the mingling from Chloe Kiel (pp. 26-27) who wore black fingernail polish and said wild things like "Dracula ruled the world and he's the son of Gutenberg."

He tells of growing up during and just after WWII. I cringe at the passage that clumps "Hitler, Churchill, Mussolini, Stalin, Roosevelt" together and describes them in undifferentiated language. I write "Masters of War" in the margin. Yet at one point he pictured himself going to West Point: "I wanted to be a general with my own battalion." P. 41. His father said he lacked the connections to get in, and his uncle told him "A soldier is a housewife, a guinea pig. Go to work in the mines." P. 42. Later, he became very engrossed in studying the Civil War. Pp. 84-86.

His only childhood confidante was his grandmother, p. 42, a one-legged seamstress who had immigrated from Turkey, p. 93. She had darker skin than the rest of his family, and she smoked a pipe. P. 92.

Cliché that should have been edited out, p. 100: "March was coming in like a lion ..."
Musical artists he writes about admiringly:

Roy Orbison. Pp. 32-33. "Next to Roy the [radio] playlist was strictly dullsville ... gutless and flabby."

Johnny Rivers. Pp. 60-61. "Of all the versions of my recorded songs, the Johnny Rivers one was my favorite." Rivers, in his version of "Positively 4th Street," understood the attitude, Dylan writes. Immediately after reading this, I go to Amazon and find and order "Rewind/Realization." The double album not only has "Positively 4th Street," it begins with "The Tracks of My Tears," the song that inspired Dylan to call Smokey Robinson "the greatest American living poet."

Bobby Vee. Pp. 79-81. "I'd always thought of him as a brother."

Hank Williams. Pp. 95-96. "When I hear Hank sing, all movement ceases. The slightest whisper seems a sacrilege." He tried to follow rules for songwriting that he perceived in Williams's songs.

An author he loved: Balzac! P. 46:
You can learn a lot from Mr. B. It's funny to have him as a companion. He wears a monk's robe and drinks endless cups of coffee. Too much sleep clogs up his mind. One of his teeth falls out, and he says, "What does this mean?" He questions everything. His clothes catch fire on a candle. He wonders if fire is a good sign. Balzac is hilarious.
He makes Balzac sound like a guy in a Dylan song: "And you say, 'What does this mean?'"

Dylan repeatedly expresses the instinctive feeling he had that music was about to change and that he knew where to take it:
The On the Road, Howl and Gasoline street ideologies that were signaling a new type of human existence weren't there [on the radio]. P. 34.

I just thought mainstream culture was lame as hell and a big trick. P. 35.

I knew what I was doing ... and wasn't going to take a step back or retreat for anybody. P. 67.

I had a vivid idea of where everything was. The future was nothing to worry about. It was awfully close. P. 104.

"Strangelove wouldn't have lasted three weeks in the Pentagon. He was too creative."

So says the real-life model for the character in the movie that inspired Daniel Ellsberg to say "That was a documentary!"

Something I don't think belongs in John Kerry's bedroom.

Here's an interesting NYT article about Kerry's great wealth and what he does with it. Kerry and his wife own a lot of amazing stuff, but apparently it's in great taste and not ostentatious. The most notable fact in the article might be that he likes to crank his $500,000 powerboat up to full speed and blast the stereo with "The Ride of the Valkyries" (which the Times points out is "the same sequence played by Robert Duvall's character in the Vietnam movie 'Apocalypse Now.'") But I found this the most notable thing:
On the wall in the master bedroom [in his Boston house] is a framed original letter written by Abigail Adams, the wife of the second president, about the influence women can exert in politics, Mr. Barbiero recalled.

Shouldn't this letter be in the National Archive and not--oh the irony!--in a male politician's bedroom?

NYT not biased, says NYT ombudsman.

Daniel Okrent says it's all in your head. You notice what bothers you and ignore what bothers supporters of the other candidate. And it's partly that we're just so deep:
Those readers who long for the days of absolutely untinted, nothing-but-the-facts newspapering ought to have an Associated Press ticker installed on the breakfast table. Newspapers today and especially this newspaper are asking their reporters and editors to go deep into a story, and when and where you go deep is itself a matter of judgment. And every judgment, it appears, offends someone.

And quit sending such nasty email to reporters:
I do want you to know just how debased the level of discourse has become. When a reporter receives an e-mail message that says, "I hope your kid gets his head blown off in a Republican war," a limit has been passed.... As nasty as critics on the right can get (plenty nasty), the left seems to be winning the vileness derby this year. Maybe the bloggers who encourage their readers to send this sort of thing to The Times might want to ask them instead to say it in public. I don't think they'd dare.

Oh, so it's the bloggers again somehow? Or do you just mean the lefty bloggers?

"Australians Re-Elect Howard as Economy Trumps War."

The on-line NYT headline for the Richard Bonner piece on the Australian election is "Australians Re-elect Howard as Prime Minister," but the title above is the headline for the paper-copy version of this article. How does the Times know the Australians weren't actually supporting the war effort?
Voting is mandatory in Australia, and George Harris, 44, wearing only his bathing suit and tennis shoes, walked into the Bondi surf club to cast his ballot for the Liberals.

"It's purely a matter of economic management," he said.
NYT to Americans: Don't take the Australian vote to mean anything encouraging about the war. Those people only vote because the government makes them and they show up to vote in bathing suits.

"Eat Chocolate, Live Longer?"

That's the title of an article in the NYT Magazine about research indicating that chocolate makes you live longer. What is this scientific reason? Oh, I don't know. I didn't read the article. The title alone convinced me to eat chocolate. What if the text raised doubts about the value of eating chocolate? If it was a title about eating brussels sprouts, I would examine the text quite carefully.

I did notice this big pull-out quote:
If the flavanol research holds up, do you applaud a mammoth multinational corporation that probably spent tens of millions in an effort to ''capitalize'' (as Jim Cass put it) on a product that may help confront a leading cause of mortality in America?
Is it too much to ask that writers drop this medical jargon use of the word "mortality"? Life itself is the cause of mortality. The cause of this usage of "mortality" (the word) is, in my view, the fear of "death" (the word).

Most unnoticed muffed line of Friday night's debate.

From President Bush: "The truth of the matter is if you listen carefully Saddam would still be in power if he were the president of the United States. And the world would be a lot better off."

UPDATE: But really, it may be that people are noticing this mistake but just deciding not to point it out. Bush supporters don't want to point out one of Bush's mistakes. And Kerry supporters calling attention to the mistake would necessarily call attention to the sentence before it. And that sentence is devastating.

Yay, Badgers!

UW 24, Ohio State 13. "The Badgers won for the third straight time in Columbus for the first time in history. "