October 7, 2006

"If you've sat through one of Justice Breyer's civics lectures on C-SPAN... you've heard this all before."

David Lat gets antsy when an interview with Justice Breyer is insufficiently confessional. Why can't he be more like Justice Scalia (or Judge Posner or Judge Kozinski)? Is there some reason the conservative judicial stars are more fun? Do liberals always have to demonstrate their circumspection?

UPDATE: David tries to answer my questions, but the fact that he's reduced to bringing up Justice Douglas concedes the point. They don't make liberal Justices like that any more. We still have liberal Justices, but we no longer have liberal Justices who express their liberalism with deeply felt passion. The attacks on liberal activism have left a deep mark, and the liberals that we do have adopt a much cooler, more impersonal pose.

The Marijuana Fest.

I walked downtown along the lake path this afternoon, went to a café to work for a while, and then started back home by way of the Library Mall. What's all this? Oh, it's the Marijuana Fest.

The Marijuana Fest

It's not really very festive. No one is smoking pot, though there is a sign that says "Thank you for pot smoking." And the rock band is not exactly drawing a crowd:

The Marijuana Fest

There are a lot of flyers and posters on an unrolled metal fence.

The Marijuana Fest

The Marijuana Fest

And there are various stalls where vendors purvey marijuana-related things.

The Marijuana Fest

The Marijuana Fest

But there's no crowd energy. Just folks passing through the mall in the usual way, myself included.

ADDED: I did not buy anything at the Marijuana Fest. Who would? Who would want a Halloween pumpkin with a medical marijuana message? Would you take your trick or treating kids up to the door of house displaying such a thing? Would you want one of the t-shirts they were selling? Would you eat "Hemp I-Scream"? Me, I kept going and walked up Bascom Hill and over to Linden Drive, where I stopped at Babcock Hall for a nice scoop of University of Wisconsin ice cream. Vanilla. Wafer cone. Ah!


I love misdrawn, misplaced iconic characters, like this one, found on the side of a Madison food cart:


I'm not saying I love every picture that is not drawn right or that every cartoon character who pops up in the wrong place amuses me, but I do like this one. Why is Spiderman so cute? Why is hanging around fruit? To catch flies? Why does the food cart want to remind us that it might attract flies? Or am I supposed to know that Spiderman is not really like a spider when it comes to having an interest in catching insects? Sorry, I really have no idea what Spiderman's agenda is.


Why do academic careers tend to run in families? Usha Rodrigues asks over at Conglomerate.
1) Are professors creating their own academic class and becoming increasingly out of touch with “regular folks”? 2) A variant of the old nature/nurture debate: Did my parents pass on some sort of “academic” (“bookish”? “nerdy”?) gene? Or was it because I spent so much of my childhood on Georgetown’s campus that I developed such an affinity for old stone buildings and grassy quads? 3) Is this no big deal? Children tend to follow their parents’ career paths (look at all the second and third generation doctors, lawyers, and military men and women out there), and academia is just the family business.
And check out the comments, which are full of lawprofs. Orin Kerr shows up with the portmanteau word "proffspring." Ann Bartow narrates her personal story, which provokes the indomitable Kate Litvak to deliver a hearty smackdown: "I knew Ann Bartow had a tendency to see sexism in every human interaction; apparently, she also sees classism in every human interaction." (Go read the exchange.)

I didn't grow up around academics myself, and I'm sure this made some things harder. There was never a feeling of naturalness. But it must have helped in some ways too: the work seemed immensely glamorous and an outsider mentality lets you look at things in new ways. I can't say how good it feels to be one of those people who end up as professors by what feels to them like a natural path. How useful is it to have the feeling of emulating a parent? How satisfying is it to find yourself in social interactions that are like the ones you observed in the adults in your childhood home?

ADDED: I have to add that when I -- toward the end of law school -- told my father I wanted to be a law professor, he blurted "That's a cop out." He saw it as a candyass thing to do with a legal education. It was actually quite weird, because he'd never pushed me to achieve anything before. He never informed me that I was a fool to go to art school, for example. He never even gave me the idea, back when I was growing up, that I could try to become a lawyer (or any other sort of highly trained professional). If he'd held his tongue for so long, why did he suddenly burst out that one time with the revelation of what he thought of my choice? I have to think that he really hated the academic class -- though he never said why. An awful lot of people think academia is not the real world, is not a sound place where sane people ought to hole up.

"Everybody should quit Facebook right now."

Marcus Johnson, a Columbia student, reacting to the news that Columbia is using student Facebook entries to investigate the incident in which a mass of students stormed the stage and drove off the speaker, Minuteman Project founder Jim Gilchrist.
As of late Thursday night, 13 Columbia students and alumni had joined a Facebook group titled, "YES, I was there when Gilchrist was rushed faster than CUFT's Quarterback."

"I don't [agree with the decision], but there's nothing we can do about it," Patric Prado, SEAS '09 and creator of the group, said. "I was there, and it's fine that they want to incriminate people who actually started violence. ... Yes, we were stupid, but we got our message across that we weren't going to accept this on campus."

Universities, employers, and law enforcement agencies have widely contended that materials posted on Facebook-including posts, photos, and personal information-are admissible in investigations. Hornsby emphasized that screening Facebook was just one of several methods that the University would employ to conduct its investigation.
What is the argument that these things are not "admissible"? This is public speech. It could be faked, but so could reports from eyewitnesses. To use the material in an investigation is not to presume it is conclusive proof of something. What makes people think that if they do something in a place that makes them feel confessional it somehow doesn't count? The students storming the stage also seemed to feel entitled to act out. That doesn't make them not responsible for what they did. They can't say oh, we were surrounded by friends who all thought this was just fine and we felt in charge of our own space. Really, these are intelligent college students. Why do they feel a special immunity from being observed in a public place?

The linked article describes the incident in a way that is quite sympathetic to the students. In the opening paragraph it refers to "Wednesday night's Minutemen brawl" -- as if the Minutemen were the main actors in a free-for-all. The fourth paragraph has this:
The investigation comes after a violent protest broke out in Roone Arledge Auditorium during a speech by Jim Gilchrist, founder of the Minuteman Project, an organization that patrols the U.S.-Mexican border for illegal immigrants. Shortly after the speaker took the stage, several audience members rushed onto the stage with banners, sparking a physical conflict and prompting the early cancellation of the speech
"A violent protest broke out"? That's purged of human agency. A protest happened, as if a protest is a thing with a mind. "Several audience members rushed onto the stage with banners, sparking a physical conflict"? Here we get human actors, but they simply "rushed onto the stage" -- they didn't rush the speaker. And they came up to show their banners -- as if it's a festive "more speech" sort of thing. This then "spark[s] a physical conflict," so the speech of the banners ignites fighting. You can't tell who introduces the fighting ("physical conflict"). Again, the human agency is scrubbed out of the prose.

What really happened? Powerline has video and an eyewitness written description. Here's another -- shorter and more vivid video:

It's not that easy to see violence in the video, so it's especially hard to tell who's doing what, and there's no way to tell whether any given individual -- unless he's a banner-holder -- is for or against the speaker. I'm not taking a position on who's responsible for the chaos, but clearly the University needs to investigate, and what people have written on line is not out of bounds. I will say though that I find it ironic that students who are passionate about the cause of helping the poorest people are also passionate about their own privileges as affluent college students feeling immune in their Facebook realm.

UPDATE: The NYT has a substantial article about the incident:
[Columbia president Lee Bolliner said], “There is a vast difference between reasonable protest that allows a speaker to continue, and protest that makes it impossible for speech to continue.”

Monique Dols, a senior in history at Columbia’s School of General Studies, said she had mounted the stage in protest and unfurled a banner but that at such events in the past the speakers had kept going.

“We have always been escorted off the stage and the event continues,” she said, adding that this time the protesters were attacked.

“We were punched and kicked,” she said. “Unfortunately, the story being circulated is that we initiated the violence.”...

[Freshman Anusha Sriram] said she was upset that by keeping Mr. Gilchrist from speaking, the protesters had unwittingly turned the tables of the discussion against themselves.

“That just undermined the entire protest,” she said. “Now everyone looks at the protest in a bad light instead of him in a bad light.”
Sriram's point sounds so good that you might hypthesize that Gilchrist supporters took advantage of the situation by provoking the violence instead of tolerating a peaceful, silent vigil. Does the video support that interpretation? It seems as though it was an organized effort to shut Gilchrist up. Here's another video that seems to be taken outside the auditorium (found by searching YouTube for "Columbia" and "Minutemen"):

A speaker loudly brags about successfully shutting down the speech: "It's not about his free speech. It's about our free speech." That part is after a speaker goes on about the "rights" of "economic refugees" and tries to lead a chant: "Cops out of the hood/Troops out of Iraq/Workers unit and fight back."

October 6, 2006

Interview I enjoyed so much I bought the book on line before it ended.

David Rakoff on "The Daily Show."

The book is "Don't Get Too Comfortable," and hell, yeah, I bought the MP3 version. The author who amused me so much reads it, and I want to be free to walk around while I'm "reading." So go ahead and criticize me from your comfy chair.

The chalk artist.

Drawing a face and drawing a crowd, on Library Mall today:

Chalk artist

One hand keeps the Vermeer reproduction secure on the sidewalk, and the other hand works the lipstick-red chalk into the Hollywoodsy collagen-lips.

Chalk artist

I can't explain the cowboy.

ADDED: I don't know if this is the same guy I photographed back in 2004 at the "9 Beet Stretch":

"She had previously run for 12 hours non-stop but was unused to running on roads."

Said Dominque Lakra, the coach of the 10-year-old Anastasia Barla, who ran 72 kilometers (45 miles) before stopping out of exhaustion. But the 5-minute break she'd taken after 58 kilometers had invalidated her attempt to beat Budhia Singh, the 4-year-old boy who ran 65 kilometers without a break. "The girl is comfortable on soil, which is soft," the not-so-soft-hearted coach explained. Anastasia is going to give it another try when the weather cools off, in India, where there is a truly crazy craze for long-distance running by children.

The proposal to let teachers arm themselves.

Sorry, it's not going to help you decide who to vote for in the Wisconsin governor's race. Both Doyle and Green have opposed the state legislator's idea:
Frank Lasee, R-Bellevue, says he will introduce a bill next year to allow teachers, principals, school custodians and other employees to carry concealed weapons on school premises if they complete a training course and are licensed....

Both Doyle, who opposes a broader Republican effort to legalize carrying concealed weapons, and Green, who supports that bill, said they oppose Lasee's idea....

In an interview, Green noted that schools are already gun-free zones under both state and federal law.

"I support those laws," he said. "I helped create those laws. I don't think we should have guns in the schools."
Teachers with guns? What do you think?

IN THE COMMENTS: Joan writes:
[N]o one has brought up Beslan, or the fact that busted terrorist cells were found to have the plans to NJ schools.

We have more to worry about than the random crazy adult or disaffected kid with a gun. Terrorists know that schools are soft targets and have already targetted them. What are we doing to harden the targets?

I think teachers with concealed carry permits should be allowed to bring their guns to school. This is far different from requiring teachers to get hand gun training!...

School security is a huge issue. For teachers who are comfortable with guns, having their weapons available will make their job of protecting their students easier for them.

"The great Republican collapse of 2006."

That's Charles Krauthammer's phrase.

"Marian, the oldest one, did ask to be shot first... The faith of their fathers really was embedded in them."

The religious valor of the Amish girls:
[B]efore killing himself, [Charles Carl Roberts IV] uttered three words — "Pray for me."...

"He asked the children to pray for him, and that's kind of interesting because he said he hated God... He must have recognized the faith in them, God in them."

As long as it's sort of a quasi-Japanese theme day here at Althouse...

And still meaning to continue my old series of scanned records, here's a 1979 punk rarity, still in its original cover and still quite playable:

A record from 1979

I don't really know why "Turning Japanese" and this song "Japan" came out around the same time. Did The Vapors rip off The Units? It hardly seems likely, though "Turning Japanese" came out a year later. You won't find the lyrics to "Japan" on line, but it's basically paean to Japan, Japanese products, etc. And no, that's not Japan in the picture. You know where that is, don't you? The Units were mostly a local band. Maybe you saw them, back in the day. If so, do tell.

I wanted to buy "Turning Japanese" on iTunes, but it wasn't there. Until it is, you can feast your eyes on the lo-fi YouTube version of the video.

Monologues dialogues.

David Brooks's column yesterday began this way (TimesSelect link):
This is a tale of two predators. The first is a congressman who befriended teenage pages. He sent them cajoling instant messages asking them to describe their sexual habits, so he could get his jollies.

The second is a secretary, who invited a 13-year-old girl from her neighborhood into her car and kissed her. Then she invited the girl up to her apartment, gave her some vodka, took off her underwear and gave her a satin teddy to wear.

Then she had sex with the girl, which was interrupted when the girl’s mother called. Then she made the girl masturbate in front of her and taught her some new techniques.

The first predator, of course, is Mark Foley, the Florida congressman. The second predator is a character in Eve Ensler’s play, “The Vagina Monologues."

Foley is now universally reviled. But the Ensler play, which depicts the secretary’s affair with the 13-year-old as a glorious awakening, is revered. In the original version of the play, the under-age girl declares, “I say, if it was a rape, it was a good rape, then, a rape that turned my [vagina] into a kind of heaven.” When I saw Ensler perform the play several years ago in New York, everyone roared in approval. Ensler has since changed the girl’s age to 16 — the age of Foley’s pages — and audiences still embrace the play and that scene at colleges and in theaters around the world.
Today, we get the letters to the editor. Gotta defend the iconic monologues, you know. The first letter says Brooks "misses a key point, and that is power":
Mark Foley, a congressman, had a certain amount of power, and many of the pages were responding to that power. Most were afraid to offend him or to break off communication because Mr. Foley might become an important ally in a future career.

In my mind, this is more a story of abuse of power and covering up that abuse of power by the Republican Party.
But power is always the problem when an adult goes after a child!

The second letter makes the big art/life distinction. "The Vagina Monologues" is a play:
Does David Brooks mean to suggest that it is not the job of the theater to provoke us, to be equivocal, to reflect our best and worst selves, then leave it to us to choose good behavior when we exit the lobby?

If so, then Mr. Brooks is asking for the ostensible rectitude of propaganda.
But "The Vagina Monologues" is presented as propaganda, isn't it? Brooks made a point of the audience's approval. And consider the extreme enthusiasm for producing this play, which is out of all proportion to its artistic value.

The third letter notes Brooks's omission of the "simple point" that what Mark Foley did was "real" and "The Vagina Monologues" is "make-believe." But, again, the enthusiasm for "The Vagina Monologues" is very real.

IN THE COMMENTS: Some blogger's minions come by en masse to call me (and Brooks) idiots for not knowing the difference between real life and fiction (rather dimly redoing the NYT's letters that I'm writing about in this post). Palladian says something really smart:
No one's pointed out that the Foley's instant messages are, in one way, exactly analogous to a monologue-style play in that they were written words; dramatized sexual conduct rather than physical acts. This is not a defense of Foley, merely an observation that Brook's analogy (yes, he was making an analogy!) is not as far off as the suddenly fundamentalist, literalist "liberals" are suggesting.

And a couple comments later, on seeing a sexist insult hurled at me by one of the liberal blogger's minions:
Wow, not only do we have "liberals" on a moral crusade against a gay man, and asserting that art is meaningless, but now they're making sexist insults toward a woman with whom they disagree.

Have I fallen into some weird alternate dimension? What the hell?

ADDED: This post is getting a lot of attention, and I feel bad that you can't read Brooks's whole column. I wish the NYT would have some way to release a TimesSelect piece for general viewing once there's a big blog discussion going on. It seems unfair to Brooks that everyone can read the letters (and blogs) criticizing him, but they can't see exactly what he said. I'm not going to reprint any more than I already did, but let me summarize what he says.

Brooks wonders why the sexual predator in the play makes people cheer when Mark Foley brings hoots of disgust. Noting first that female predators tend not to scare us, he observes that in the play, we are seeing things from the minor's point of view and that she presents herself as breaking free from social conventions and finding personal fulfilment doing something that society tries to suppress. She's the feisty rebel who evinces the "moral code" of "expressive individualism."

The news about Mark Foley is told in terms of a more old-fashioned moral code that defines people by their social roles. (We certainly don't hear the teenager's point of view.) This code categorically rejects adults in sexual relationships with youngsters. In this way of thinking, there is never a rebel to cheer on. Our reaction is to feel ever more strongly committed to preserving the moral order. Since the real significance of the Foley story is as a reminder of the grave threat to the conventional moral order, Brooks thinks, the way for a party to benefit from the scandal is to present itself as the champion of the moral order.

Now, what's my reaction to that? First, I don't think people (or parties) have to adopt one or the other of these "codes." Like many from my generation, I am very strongly dedicated to the ethic of individual expression. That does not, however, in any way make it hard for me to acknowledge the absolute rule against adults doing anything sexual with children. I think you can flatly reject what Foley did and still believe in the value of individuals finding their own way around conventional morality and making their own rules about what is good. Obviously, social conservatives are the big champions of the moral order, but that doesn't mean that to oppose what Foley did requires you to become an all-out social conservative. A responsible, freely expressive individual recognizes the need for some rules.

But I do think there is a danger that liberals are getting so jazzed up about making political progress over Foley's folly that they carelessly present themselves as champions of the moral order, something they really don't want to do in the long run. They surely ought to pillory the social conservatives whenever they get caught violating their own moral code. Pointing out hypocrisy is usually an excellent move. But they should be careful not to stumble into hypocrisy of their own by overdoing the sanctimony about sexual morality and making it seem as though they are the social conservatives. Ugh! I'd like to end up with less social conservatism through this episode, not more.

A Rorschach test.

Somewhere back in the comments to an old post, I said I had a picture I was going to post:

Hole in a mountain

Consider this a Rorschach test. Respond!

(And if you want to demystify the actual, official Rorschach test, go here.)

Turning Japanese?

The comparison of American law to Japanese things in the last two posts was purely coincidental. The post quoting Ted Olson was already up when I read the email calling attention to the Lileks quote. So don't be expecting a theme day.

"Rational basis" and the "origami project."

As we were talking (and talking) yesterday about whether there's a rational basis for excluding same-sex couples from the benefits of marriage, a California appellate court issued a decision analyzing exactly that. Despite the numerous comments here yesterday, I did not think anyone had articulated an impressive basis for the law. Nevertheless, "rational basis" is a low standard, so I didn't think that a court would have much trouble declaring that it's found one -- assuming that the court was inclined to leave things to the legislature.

Here's how the California court put it (PDF):
[T]he opposite-sex requirement in the marriage statutes is rationally related to the state’s interest in preserving the institution of marriage in its historical opposite-sex form, while also providing comparable rights to same-sex couples through domestic partnership laws.... (See Lawrence v. Texas, supra, 539 U.S. at p. 585 (conc. opn. of O’Connor, J.) [stating in dicta that “preserving the traditional institution of marriage” is a legitimate state interest].)...

In addition to tradition, the Attorney General argues the marriage laws are justified by a related state interest in carrying out the expressed wishes of a majority of Californians....

Of course, the mere fact that a majority wishes it so cannot save an otherwise unconstitutional law. Majoritarian whims or prejudices will never be sufficient to sustain a law that deprives individuals of a fundamental right or discriminates against a suspect class.... But, in reviewing a challenged law under the rational basis test, we must give due deference to the Legislature’s considered judgment....
So there you have it. (Satisfied, Professor Schweber?)

An emailer points out that the concurring opinion by Judge Parrilli quotes a phrase from blogdom's James Lileks:
If respect for the rule of law is to be maintained, courts must accept and abide by their limited powers. The Constitution is not some kind of “origami project” to be twisted and reconfigured to accomplish ends better left to the democratic process.
Of course, it takes no origami level expertise to fold the judge's words back on themselves and accuse the court of twisting and reconfiguring the law to avoid interfering with what the majority wants. The key phrase is "better left to the democratic process." The judges think this matter is better left to the democratic process, and the Constitution can be folded into that shape. Predictably, the judges pat themselves on the back for this handiwork. They have, they tell us proudly, upheld the rule of law by accepting their limited powers. But we onlookers know all too well how to refold that one and say that the rule of law requires not only that a judge resist acting where there is no legal right, but also that a judge must say what the law is and do what it requires.

"It's like a highly stylized Japanese theater."

Former Solicitor General Ted Olson describes Supreme Court oral argument. "The justices use questions to make points to their colleagues." (USA Today's Joan Biskupic provides the detail.)

"I'm going to take full responsibility for everything I did in Duluth."

Something about an apology limited not to one act but one city amuses me. Why not just apologize for everything you ever did? As for what I did in Superior, those bastards deserved what they got.

"Good news for aging hippies."

"Smoking pot may stave off Alzheimer's disease."

ADDED: This story makes me think of the old line, "You can't fire me, I quit." I'm not going to let some disease destroy my intellectual powers, I'm going to make an idiot out of myself with drugs.

October 5, 2006

An old postcard.

The only thing I know for certain about this photograph postcard is that the woman behind the wheel is my grandmother, Geraldine. I believe it was made in some sort of studio where they pose you in a car. Look at that ramshackle backdrop.

Old photograph

I'm pretty sure this was taken in the 1920s. I think they're all college kids. I don't know if they're wearing their own clothes or if the photo studio provided costumes. The woman in the middle seems to be wearing a flapper costume, what with that headband, but wouldn't a young person have dressed like this then? The women who are not my grandmother are wearing awfully similar coats, and the men have nearly identical hats, yet my grandmother is coatless. So it seems that everyone but she put on the photographer's costumes. Why didn't she? Maybe she liked feeling of cool air on her skin and maybe she bypassed the costumes to jump in the car first and claim the driver's seat.

The pennants are scattered about haphazardly, and I realize I'm not quite sure if my grandmother went to Adrian College. I do know that she became a teacher, and that after she married my grandfather -- who is not in this picture -- she hid the fact that she was married, because they would have fired her for being married. Did they think a woman who had sex could not be trusted teaching children? Did they think a woman wronged her husband by going to work? Perhaps they thought it was greedy or unfair for a family to have two paychecks.

This picture mystifies me and makes me feel sad. It's not just the poignancy of the distant past, but that I never knew my grandmother when she was anything like this young and confident person. The Geraldine I knew suffered and complained. I never got the whole story out of my mother, but I think she completely changed when her fifth (and last) child was born with a hopeless birth defect and died within one year. So for me this picture represents the most unreachable part of the past. It makes me sad, but it also makes me happy. How charming and mischievous she looks!

What is the rational basis for banning same-sex marriage?

My colleague in the Political Science department, Howard Schweber, emails a question about same-sex marriage that I know some of my readers will be good at answering. (And he likes the idea of my reprinting this to get answers from people who actually believe in banning same-sex marriage.)
Assuming that rational basis scrutiny is the appropriate level of review (which is far from clear in the majority opinions in Romer and Lawrence, both of which ducked the question), what is the strongest case that can be made for a legitimate state interest in restricting marriage to opposite-sex couples? I take it as given that if the statutes are constitutional, the fear of judicial intervention is an adequate explanation for turning them into constitutional amendments, so it's the original statutes that I am thinking of.

[One answer is] that majoritarian moral preference, standing alone, is an adequate justification for legislation. One reason I have doubts about that principle is its implications for free speech, actually, but let's leave that aside.

Ann made a more empirical suggestion -- I hope I am accurately recounting it as follows:

1. We prefer heterosexual couples to homosexual couples
2. There exist some number of persons, however small, who enter into heterosexual marriages because homosexual marriages are unavailable.
Note that I didn't say that I personally have these preferences. I'm trying to say what a court might find to be a rational basis if it were considering the constitutionality of the state constitutional amendment. As I've said many times on the blog, I support same-sex marriage, and I do not disparage gay relationships. I'm simply saying that a court might find rationality in the expression of special respect for the traditional relationship and that this respect -- with additional benefits and protections -- will encourage more people to form these relationships. I'm not saying this is a good thing to believe, just that it is one belief that is at least rational. I am assuming there are some people who are influenced by social pressure to form traditional male-female families who would, with sufficient social approval, chose a same-sex relationship.

Back to Howard:
One question is empirical; does a state need any evidence to demonstrate the existence of this class of persons?

The other question, it seems to me, is the basis for the preference. Avoiding the appeal to morality, one gets to the policy arguments (better for children, etc.) These seem awfully weak, and indeed analytically incoherent. [One might] say moral preference is enough, but that doesn't necessarily solve the problem. Moral preference between classes of persons, after all, are definitely not a permissible basis for legislation -- it has to be moral preference about conduct (Scalia says "lifestyle,") right? In other words, we are talking about sex.

So we come down to a moral preference for the kinds of sexual conduct that would be engaged in by the class of persons -- perhaps they are bisexual, for example -- who would enter into heterosexual marriages today but would not have done so if the alternative of homosexual marriage were available.

The problem there is selectivity: we don't use any similar moral preferences in determining who may marry in any other context. In the debate the other night I proposed the following indicia for concluding that expressions of a purported state interest are a pretext for animus:

novelty - an argument of a kind we have never heard before
selectivity -- a principle that is not applied in any other context
targeting -- a principle that is not applied to any other class of citizens
extremism -- a principle that if applied consistently would yield obviously unacceptable results.

"I've been warning my people to stay away from this story because you just don't know what will come back to bite you."

Some Democrats are rightly worried about getting too enthusiastic about using the disgrace of Mark Foley to make political progress.

Getting realistic about reality shows.

I was knocked out of love with "Project Runway" last week when they changed the rules midstream and declined to pick a loser. Four designers competed in Episode 11, and then four designers got through to the finale. It especially irks me because it was so obvious they would have eliminated Uli, but she was so clearly the best that week that the plan fell through. And it really bugs me that Tim Gunn's podcast about Episode 11 -- and Episode 11 alone -- is so eerily lobotomized. It puts the pod in podcast... in the "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" sense. I felt like there was the real podcast, where he was lively and opinionated, and by some evil process, it was replaced by the pod podcast.

So, now I find myself over-sensitized to the fakery of everything. Editing is thoroughly manipulative. Vincent was chosen to be the season's crazy guy, so he got the crazy guy edit. Last night, we saw his worst outtake, where he got really upset because the producers took some of his expensive clothes and laundered them, apparently, in an ordinary washing machine, thus ruining them. Here's a 50-year-old man who cashed in his retirement savings to do the show, and he lost it when he saw his $100 shirts destroyed. Let's all laugh at him! Ha, ha, what a madman! Then there's Michael. He won the fan favorite award, one of the least surprising things that has ever happened on the show. Of course, we all love Michael. He was edited to be the sweetheart. If they had chosen to edit you into love with someone else, they could have.

Looking at a poster the wrong way.

I just glanced at this intended-to-be-gorgeous image in an ad for the movie "Little Children." Focusing on Kate Winslet's face, I had the impression that the mass of flesh in the foreground was part of her body. I was all man, Kate Winslet has one crazy-looking thigh.

"I vowed to lower the thermostat at night by one degree — not two, as often recommended by tree-huggers."

From an article about easily accomplished energy-saving around the house. An illustration depicts a guy turning the thermostat from 70° to 69°. What is wrong with people? Quite aside from the entire subject of environmentalism, these are ridiculous cold weather thermostat settings. In summertime, people equally ridiculously put the air conditioning at 69 or 70° and wear short sleeves and sandals and even shorts. So why are you cranking the heat up that high when you're wearing a sweater? Something terrible has gone wrong with your brain.

What is the right nighttime setting for cold weather? It's 62° (or lower), and that's not even taking the environment or the cost of heating into account. Purely as a matter of comfort and health, you should go low for sleeping. Use a warm comfortor and you won't feel cold. You will feel much better in the morning from breathing cool air during the night. I used to get sinusitis every winter and end up going to the doctor for antibiotics, but after I moved to a big house, I started turning down the heat -- to save money -- and ever since, I've never had this problem. In fact, I've had one cold in over ten years.

I also dislike the sound and feeling of heated air blowing into the room at night. Because of this, I turn the the heat up to 68° in the evening to warm things up, then put it way down -- maybe as low as 55° -- to make it unlikely, most nights, that the furnace will come on at all. This is perfect for a very sound night's sleep. Gradually, it gets cooler and cooler, and if it wakes you up, it's a natural alarm clock. You'll get up and feel great. And when you do, maybe you'll remember I gave you this tip, and you'll have extra time in the morning to stop by the blog and see what new pearls of wisdom have appeared.

October 4, 2006

This little interlude in the history of sex.

Mickey Kaus notes the "Densepack Theory": "the anti-GOP media have launched so many damaging GOP stories... that they are all arriving at once and, like fratricidal incoming ICBMs, are knocking each other out of the news rather than destroying their target." This made me have to stop and think what was that thing we were all focusing on before Mark Foley paged us? Oh, yeah, it was the Woodward book. Kinda more substantive, no? Good thing a sex scandal came along to relieve us of the ordeal of agonizing over the war.

I arrived at Mickey's wisdom via Glenn Reynolds, who said: "A bigger risk is that with this many GOP scandal stories, the press will feel obliged to run with at least a couple of Dem scandals, too, to preserve the illusion of evenhandedness." And now that the Foley scandal has so graphically demonstrated power of nasty email and IMs, you've got to expect more of those things to surface. In fact, I assume this is the sort of thing the MSM have declined to publish in the past. Unfit to print and all that. Now, they have to print or face denouncement for imbalance. So, come on, everybody, forward to MSM all those evil cybermessages the various politicos have been sending you over the years. Let's see how MSM handles it, and let's sit back and enjoy the hijinks.

An incredulous Andrew Sullivan asks: "Who saves and records IM exchanges for posterity?" LOL. How many folks are just now getting their mind around computers? You mean the writing is actually somehow permanent? I wonder how many politicians (and others) are sweating out this little interlude in the history of sex.

Drudge links...

... to this chapter of Mark Halperin and John F. Harris's "The Way to Win: Taking the White House in 2008" that's reprinted in the Washington Post. I wonder what motivates him. Who can fathom it?
Deep thinkers might say Kerry was beaten by history, since Democrats for nearly forty years had been at a stark disadvantage when national security was the dominant issue in voters' minds. Here is another nominee for who beat John Forbes Kerry: Matthew Drudge.

If you are reading this book, you probably know who Matt Drudge is. It is a guarantee that most of the reporters, editors, producers, and talk show bookers who serve up the daily national buffet of news recently have checked out his eponymous website, and that www.drudgereport.com is bookmarked on their computers. That is one reason Drudge is the single most influential purveyor of information about American politics.

Drudge, with his droll Dickensian name, was not the only media or political agent whose actions led to John Kerry's defeat. But his role placed him at the center of the game -- a New Media World Order in which Drudge was the most potent player in the process and a personification of the dynamics that did Kerry in. Drudge and his ilk made Kerry toxic -- and unelectable.

Anger, prurience, invective, conspiracy theory -- all are native flowers on the American landscape. What is new is the greenhouse in which these blossoms are cultivated and sold. This greenhouse was built on two beams. The first was the disintegration of editorial filters in the Old Media, which in an earlier age prevented the most salacious tales and bitter accusations (though certainly not all) from entering the public arena. The New Media -- talk radio, cable television, Internet websites -- for the most part never had these editorial ¿lters.
(Gee, I wish I had some Old Media editorial ¿lters to clean up my writing!) [ADDED NOTE: The editing nightmare at the linked page has been cleaned up, so I've replaced the block text except the last one, which is needed to understand my wisecrack.]
Many of its leading voices, Drudge among them, are openly contemptuous of the very idea. The Old Media, faced with ¿lter-free [sic... this is getting tiresome] competition, responded by loosening or discarding its own....
I could go on, but I'd have to reprint too much. Suffice it to say, the Drudge name appears about 20 more times on the linked page. It was Drudge, you know, that got us all laughing at John Kerry's hair, "the thick mane atop Kerry's lean, craggy face [that] should have registered in the strengths column." Mean Drudge. Bad Drudge. Kerry's a looker, and you messed with our minds!

Concentrating on “senseless social issues that distract and divide us."

Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle and his Republican challenger Mark Green both spoke at a Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce last night:
Doyle decried the use of “senseless social issues that distract and divide us,” and said the state needs to remain focused on the “growth agenda” he’s charted in his first four years as governor....

Doyle drew the only applause for either speaker when he said, unlike Green, he supports “a woman’s right to make her own reproductive choices, even in cases of rape or incest,” He also said, “I do not agree with my opponent, I do not believe we should be carrying loaded guns in our pockets,” and decried efforts to “write discrimination into our constitution,” a reference to the ballot initiative to ban gay marriage and legal recognition of anything substantially similar to marriage for unmarried couples....

Doyle talked about stem cell research from a personal perspective, referencing his mother’s 30-year battle with Parkinson’s disease. Ruth Bachhuber Doyle died in May at the age of 89.

“To me it is unthinkable that we would stop the research that has the potential of having other people not have to suffer what my mother suffered,” he said.
So, yeah, damn these candidates with their manipulative social issues.

Breastfeeding doesn't make kids smarter.

It's just that smarter mothers tend to breastfeed their kids. Why has it taken three-quarters of a century to puncture this myth, when the methodology -- described at the link -- was so easy?

Wisconsin marriage amendment.

I didn't make it to the debate at the law school last night about the constitutionality of the proposed amendment banning gay marriage, and I can't find a press report with interesting detail. If you were there, tell us about it in the comments.

Anyway, I'm interested in these poll results, showing likely voters split 53-39 in favor of the ban:
Those labeling themselves liberal were strongly against the amendment, while those calling themselves conservatives were strongly in favor. Regular church-goers and those calling themselves "born again'' also were strongly in favor, polling data suggests. Black likely voters also appeared strongly in favor.
That last point poses a dilemma for liberals working on getting out the vote, doesn't it?

October 3, 2006

"I am at the vanguard of the environmental movement."

Said Dennis Miller on Conan O'Brien last night, explaining why he drives an SUV.
I think we need oil products for a while. They talk about how we need to do away with it. But we're not getting away [from] it until somebody can make money off the next thing.

He's driving an SUV so we'll "run out of oil quicker." Nice joke, because it's quite true, isn't it? By the way, I remember believing, back in 1972, that all the oil would be gone in 20 years. Did you -- if you were around and mature enough to think about such things -- believe that?

Cancelling the blur with clarity.

I can't let that annoying blur stay at the top of the blog! Let me supersede it thusly:


Ah. I feel much better now. I took that picture on Sunday. Note the cow spots. Don't they make you feel happy?

Photographing the hummingbird.

You know you can't just photograph a hummingbird.


I was charmed to see two hummingbirds buzzing around a potted flowering plant by the entrance to the law school this morning. But unlike nearly everything else in the world, these things are quite resistant to the usual snapshot. There's a whole special science to photographing these hyperactive yet oddly stationary things.

Debate on the marriage amendment.

The Federalist Society is hosting a debate on "The Constitutionality of Wisconsin's Gay Marriage Amendment" tonight at 7 in Room 2260 here at the University of Wisconsin Law School. This is open to Wisconsin students and faculty. The speakers are Political Science Professor Howard Schweber and ADF Litigator Jordan Lorence. If I have time, I'll attend and blog.

UPDATE: I didn't attend. If you did, tell us about it in the comments.

Three more photos from Ashland.

Here's a wider shot of that veterans mural:

Ashland, Wisconsin

Here's the stark view from the main street -- which might be called Main Street -- looking down toward Lake Superior:

Ashland, Wisconsin

And here's a bar with a name that I think is replicated in many towns, where folks have been amusing themselves for decades saying things like "I'm going to the office" and "I'm haven't left the office yet."

Ashland, Wisconsin

How sick are we of computer-animated movies?

Now that it's not amazing anymore.

(I'm not a good person to ask. I marvelled at an early Pixar short, enjoyed the first "Toy Story," then went to see "Antz" and experienced physical revulsion. I walked out and I never looked at computer animated movie again. And I do watch drawn animation.)

What song do you want played at your funeral?

51% in a (U.K.) survey say they have considered this question. (Via Metafilter.) I know I have. Haven't you? As you might imagine, most people have decided to inflict garbage on the poor souls who remain among the living and are decent enough to show up for the ceremony.
  1. Goodbye My Lover, James Blunt.
  2. Angels, Robbie Williams
  3. I've Had the Time of My Life, Jennifer Warnes and Bill Medley
  4. Wind Beneath My Wings, Bette Midler
  5. Pie Jesu, Requiem
  6. Candle in the Wind, Elton John
  7. With or Without You, U2
  8. Tears from Heaven, Eric Clapton
  9. Every Breath You Take, The Police
  10. Unchained Melody, Righteous Brothers
"Every Breath You Take"? I guess that's for when you want to let people know you're planning to haunt them.

"Do you think Americans are ready to elect a [BLANK] as president, or not?"

Before you click here and see the poll numbers -- if you haven't seen them already -- look at the words for filling in that blank -- presented alphabetically -- and guess which order people think Americans are "ready": African American, Asian, atheist, gay or lesbian, Jew, Hispanic, Mormon, woman.

"Parents refused to fly in planes... in keeping with Amish tradition... "

"... and had to be driven to see their children at hospitals..."

"I am fairly sickened by the Republicans and as much as I cannot stand statist, liberal polices, will not mind seeing the Republicans chastened."

If you're looking for the Foley discussion, including the Washington Times call for Hastert to resign, go back to this post from last night, which has a nice comment thread going, including that quote.

And by the way, how long do you think it will take before some terrible story about the sexual failing of some Democrats in Congress hits? I'll see you one representative and raise you a Senator. Aren't you expecting that? There must be a hundred members of Congress sweating now over something they once said in email or that porn they looked at on the computer.

There's nothing mystical at all about out-of-body experiences.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but those damned brain scientists have discovered the physiological cause.

October 2, 2006

Ashland, Wisconsin.

On the southern shore of Lake Superior:

Ashland, Wisconsin

Ashland, Wisconsin

"To have to listen to people say, ‘You lied to us, you cheated, you did this to us!' It hurts, especially since they are survivors.”

NYU lawprof Burt Neuborne tells of his painful struggle representing Holocaust victims.
The crusading attorney helped to win $1.25 billion for his clients, but some of them now regard him as just another big shot looking out for himself.

The battle is over legal fees. Neuborne is seeking $4.76 million for almost eight years of work representing Holocaust survivors in the distribution of the Swiss-bank settlement for plundering Jewish assets in World War II. Some of the survivors are furious. They thought he had been working for free. They had heard him say so several times, or so it seemed....

For Neuborne, it is all a giant misunderstanding: “To the extent that the survivors are confused and misunderstood that I would be seeking fees,” he says, “I feel terrible.” The outcome of the Swiss case could not have been more successful, he believes. He spent years as the lead settlement counsel, and the pace was relentless. After collapsing with chest pains in 2002, he worked on his laptop as he was being prepped for open-heart surgery....

"Do you find it ironic that your career and success has outlasted many of the folks that you've done parodies of in the past?"

Retro Crush has a nice interview with Weird Al. Make sure to click on the video for "White and Nerdy," which has about a thousand funny things in it. By the way, did you know Weird Al was a high school valedictorian? That's something I learned on "Theme Time Radio with Bob Dylan." Bob listed a bunch of celebrities who were high school valedictorians. For some reason the only other one I can remember is Cindy Crawford. Anyway, don't you love Weird Al?
But the one question that came up that a lot of people wanted me to ask you was, do you feel that you should have done more to catch Osama bin Laden?

That I should have? Every day I feel the guilt that I didn't do more and take advantage of my situation, back when I had a chance.

"Not just television great, but great in the way of a poem or painting, great in the way of art with a single obsessive creator..."

"... who doesn’t have to consult with a committee and has months or years to go back and agonize over line breaks and the color red; it could belong in a league with art that doesn’t have to pause for commercials... 'Friday Night Lights' is a wonder."

And that's a good review. I don't like that a show with "Friday" in the title is on on Tuesday, but, on the strength of that NYT review, I set the TiVo.

Should Hastert resign?

Drudge is reporting -- with rotating siren -- that the Washington Times is about to call for Hastert to resign. It seems like a good move to me. Is Hastert so valuable to Republicans? Let him magnanimously step down for the good of the party. Why not?

UPDATE: Here's the editorial:
House Speaker Dennis Hastert must do the only right thing, and resign his speakership at once. Either he was grossly negligent for not taking the red flags fully into account and ordering a swift investigation, for not even remembering the order of events leading up to last week's revelations -- or he deliberately looked the other way in hopes that a brewing scandal would simply blow away. He gave phony answers Friday to the old and ever-relevant questions of what did he know and when did he know it? Mr. Hastert has forfeited the confidence of the public and his party, and he cannot preside over the necessary coming investigation, an investigation that must examine his own inept performance.

"Supreme court opens term, rejects appeal on sex toy."

That's the Reuters headline on the big reopening of the Supreme Court. Looks like a momentous year!

The lonely dock.

The Lonely Dock

When Warren Beatty showed his movie "Reds" to Ronald Reagan.

I think it's very interesting that the Deborah Solomon interview in this week's NYT Magazine does not have a full-length photograph of the subject of the interview, as has every Deborah Solomon NYT Magazine interview I can remember. I can only assume the interviewee, Warren Beatty, is -- as Carly once sang -- so vain. So vain and -- I'm guessing -- so fat.

Anyway, Warren gabs a lot about his movie "Reds," which is finally coming out on DVD. I liked this part, about Ronald Reagan:
A film like “Reds,” which came out in 1981, is not likely to be made today. It’s an exceedingly lengthy liberal film that was born at the height of the conservative revolution. Do you know if President Reagan ever saw it?

Reagan, whom I considered to be a friend, invited me to bring the picture to the White House and to show it. We were friendly from when I came to Hollywood in my 20’s. He wanted to see the movie.

What did he say afterward?

He was very complimentary about the fact that I had produced it, written it, acted in it and directed it at the same time. But what he said about the film, after it was over, he said, “I was kind of hoping for a happy ending.”
Hmmm... so Reagan hated the movie, right?

"You must wear the maillot de bain sportif."

An America guy freaks out at the news that American-style bathing suits are forbidden at the Parisian swimming pool. Why, you're basically wearing your shorts into the pool! "A person could wear one all over the city — on a filthy bus, a park bench. And then he could just jump in the pool, covered in germs!"

The maillot de bain sportif, you need to know, is a Speedo.

"UW should promote discussion rooted in scholarly analysis, not the grassy knoll."

The Badger Herald -- one of the UW student newspapers -- reconsiders its position on Kevin Barrett (the part-time teacher here who believes that the government perpetrated the 9/11 attacks). Initially, the paper supported the UW's decision to allow him to teach here, based on his assurances that he would have open debate as he covered the 9/11 conspiracy theory in his introductory course on Islam. Although the editors still believe he won't use his course to indoctrinate students, they are "troubled" by a lecture he gave on campus this weekend, sponsored by the UW Folklore Department.
UW’s sponsorship of Mr. Barrett’s lecture ... lends his views instant credibility by being hosted by a top-flight research university. To be sure, UW in no way endorses Mr. Barrett’s views, but by facilitating the speech, the university did give tacit approval of his theories as a matter of serious academic debate.

One is left to wonder what standards UW applies when determining which lecturers are to be allowed the use of taxpayer-funded facilities to voice their beliefs. Would the geography department allow a speaker to present his opinion that the world is flat? Would the history department sponsor a speech by someone that denies the Holocaust occurred?

Ultimately, it is UW’s duty — as an institution of higher learning funded in part by taxpayers — to promote scholarly research and vigorous academic debate. Mr. Barrett’s conspiracy theories thus far have failed to flirt with either principle.

If his conspiracy theories were published in an academic journal, instead of existing solely on a crudely constructed website, perhaps the lecture would be appropriate. Until then, UW should promote discussion rooted in scholarly analysis, not the grassy knoll.
I don't quite understand this argument. If the subject can be covered in the course, why is it beyond the pale for a lecture? The argument may be that the problem comes when you reveal that you believe in something. But the students in his class know he believes the theory. So perhaps the important line is drawn when the teacher openly says what he believes. But take your example of a geography department hosting a lecture about how the earth is flat. That would, of course, make the geography department look ridiculous. But, in your argument, it would be fine for a geography teacher to take up the students' time with the theory that the earth is flat.

Let's talk about sex.

"Former Pages Describe [Rep. Mark] Foley as a Caring Ally," the NYT reports:
Ashley Gallo, a 21-year-old former page who is now a senior at Western Michigan University, said on Sunday that many of her friends had viewed Mr. Foley as one of the few lawmakers who made a real effort to reach out to young people.

“You didn’t have a lot of interaction with the members because most of them treated you like a kid, but he was pretty friendly,” said Ms. Gallo, who served as a page in 2001. “He would talk to people,” she said.

“He would say, ‘Here’s my e-mail address if you want to keep in touch.’ I don’t think anyone thought anything of it. They saw him as a mentor or a reference.”
How sad for a young person to hear that the one adult who was nice to them was actually more cruelly selfish that all the aloof ones. What a harsh lesson! People are cold, and anyone who isn't is out to take advantage of you. Unfriendly is the norm, so you should assume a friendly adult wants sex.

Foley has checked out of Congress (and into rehab -- in that classic plea for sympathy and understanding). But the Foley story maintains its grip. It breaks so soon before the election. How can -- why should? -- Democrats resist doing everything they can to hurt Republicans with this? A good Washington scandal becomes a big swirling whirlpool that excites us onlookers as each new victim topples in and flails. Of course, there's profuse salivating over on the pro-Democrat blogs. Democratic leaders in the House have made their moves:
...Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic leader, called on Republican leaders to be questioned under oath by the ethics committee about their handling of the case....

Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, also called for an investigation by the Justice Department. “The allegations against Congressman Foley are repugnant, but equally as bad is the possibility that Republican leaders in the House of Representatives knew there was a problem and ignored it to preserve a Congressional seat this election year,” Mr. Reid said. The public deserves “a full accounting for this despicable episode,” he added....

“Its been a time bomb from Day 1,” said a Republican strategist who is close to the party’s Congressional leaders and the White House and who was granted anonymity to speak freely about internal party concerns. “Now, it’s sad for the whole House.”

The Democratic National Committee seized on the scandal, sending out a scathing statement that raised pointed questions about Mr. Hastert and other Republican leaders. In bold red type, the dispatch asked: “What did Coach H and his buddies know and when did they know it?”
So it seems in the run-up to the election we won't have to talk about Iraq and terrorism and detainees anymore. Let's talk about sex.

October 1, 2006

"Mr Armstrong spoke it at a rate of 35 milliseconds — ten times too fast for it to be audible."

Who speaks 10 times too fast to be audible? That's just nutty. But I want to believe Neil Armstrong really said “That’s one small step for a man," so I'm glad an Australian computer guy found evidence of the "a." Now, if somebody could figure out some halfway plausible method of establishing the absence of "ein" in President Kennedy's "Ich bin ein Berliner," we could finally be free of the indefinite article problems of the 1960s.

Audible Althouse #67.

Hey, it's a new podcast! It's about: Political blogging, law blogging, and blogging as an art project. Artwork that's either an idea, a mass of decaying flesh, or a good fact pattern for a Civil Procedure exam. Rebel artists and how I squandered my undergraduate education.

Stream it right through your computer here. But all the transgressive rebel artists are subscribing on iTunes:
Ann Althouse - Audible Althouse

If you're looking for something to read about the return of the Supreme Court...

You'd be hard pressed to find the conventional wisdom summed up more conventionally and more summarily than in this little Time piece.

Maybe once, somewhere, there was a more beautiful place to study.

The Union Terrace, October 1, 2006.

The Union Terrace

The Union Terrace

The Union Terrace

The Union Terrace

When will Althouse stop with the outrageously blatant University of Wisconsin propaganda?!!!

A mural in Ashland.

Here are some shots from a mural painted on the brick side wall of a movie theater in Ashland, Wisconsin, on the shore of Lake Superior. The veterans depicted by the artists Kelly Meredith and Sue Martinsen were all local residents.

Veterans mural

Veterans mural

I liked the way the mural looked reflected in the windows of the library across the street.

Veterans mural

"The Power Within: A Passion for Life."

Why is Bill Clinton appearing at this weird event? Ticket prices are $195 to $995.
One Full Day of Inspiration, Motivation and Entertainment that will ignite your Spirit! For the first time ever under one roof see six of the most prolific communicators of our time. Live and In Person! You will learn from real-world experts who are the best-of-the-best, in an incredibly entertaining environment that empowers you to take action immediately to transform your life forever.
"Prolific communicators"? LOL. Clinton is famous for talking too much, isn't he?

"Ignite your spirit"? The second thing I thought of was that this is sort of the Oprah show for men. (The first thing I thought of was... oddly enough... a cigar!)

ADDED: "One Full Day of Inspiration, Motivation and Entertainment that will ignite your Spirit." First of all, it's going to take me one full day just to get ignited by anyone, but I am especially appalled by the prospect of spending a day listening to famous men -- why are they all men? -- talk, talk, talking as a way of igniting me. Especially if I had to pay hundreds of dollars for the horrendous talkathon. Especially if they were promising to blow Inspiration, Motivation and Entertainment at me the whole time. It's like a big religious revival without the religion, unless it's a religion of worshipping big men. One full day... give me one empty day.

MORE: On further reflection, igniting my capital-S Spirit makes perfect sense if you picture this.

"What the closet does to people - the hypocrisies it fosters, the pathologies it breeds - is brutal."

Andrew Sullivan on Mark Foley:
[T]he news about Mark Foley has a kind of grim inevitability to it. I don't know Foley, although, like any other gay man in D.C., I was told he was gay, closeted, afraid and therefore also screwed up. What the closet does to people - the hypocrisies it fosters, the pathologies it breeds - is brutal. There are many still-closeted gay men in D.C., many of them working for a Republican party that has sadly deeply hostile to gay dignity. How they live with themselves I do not fully understand. But I have learned you cannot judge someone's soul from outside. That I leave to them and their God, and some I count as good friends and good people.
I know this is a religious scruple -- "Judge not, that you be not judged" -- but I hear very harsh judgment in what Sullivan writes about those who choose to keep their sexual orientation private. Sullivan's prose is flowery, but it's not much different from the familiar -- and comical -- way some folks spout criticisms and then tag on the phrase "I'm not judging." And "I leave to them and their God" -- how far is that from saying "Go to hell"?
What I do know is that the closet corrupts. The lies it requires and the compartmentalization it demands can lead people to places they never truly wanted to go, and for which they have to take ultimate responsibility. From what I've read, Foley is another example of this destructive and self-destructive pattern for which the only cure is courage and honesty. While gays were fighting for thir basic equality, Foley voted for the "Defense of Marriage Act". If his resignation means the end of the closet for him, and if there is no more to this than we now know, then it may even be for the good. Better to find integrity and lose a Congressional seat than never live with integrity at all.
But I'm not judging! That's God's job.

Sullivan's hypothesis is: Keeping information about your sexual orientation private will corrupt you. His proof -- can you challenge it? -- is that he knows so many people and has seen so much. He's making a strong political argument: If you are gay, you must be open about it, and once you are open about it, you will be forced to support gay marriage. To make this argument, he's willing to imply that Foley's behavior toward a young subordinate is a manifestation of homosexuality. But many heterosexuals also pursue young subordinates. They are fully open about their sexual orientation, but somehow they do bad things too.

"So we might increase the workweek by 50 percent, say, to three days."

So said Arlen Specter to the National Press Club last Monday. He speech was on C-Span yesterday, and -- I'm such a nerd -- I listened to it -- in its entirety -- on the satellite radio as I was making my way home in the dark toward the end of that ridiculously long drive. Specter spoke for 18 minutes -- he was scheduled to go 20 -- and "yielded back" the rest of his time. Then, there was a great question and answer session. The quote above came after he was asked what Senate rules he would change. At the end, he was asked what he learned from cancer. He said he learned that you can still do almost everything you did before, and he kept playing squash and working long, hard hours. You should just keep working and work really hard and then you won't have time to think about it. That's exactly not what you expect from a question like that. You expect a statement about how family is really the most important thing and how every moment is precious and you need to stop and smell the roses. There's that classic line "No one ever said on his deathbed, I wish I'd spent more time at the office." But the people repeating that cliché are never themselves on their deathbed. They're fully functional and trying, perhaps, to justify a two day workweek.

CORRECTION: Arithmetic corrected. Specter is claiming the senators work two days a week, not one and a half.