December 2, 2006

A window on Bascom Mall.

It's a hard call when you're sitting at a faculty meeting in the big law school room that overlooks Bascom Mall and you see students out there on skis. Do you pull out your little camera and grab a couple shots or must you maintain the appearance of 100% concentration on the task at hand?

Skiing on Bascom Mall

I took the picture. If you think I'm the bad law professor for it, just know I'm saying "hi" to all the former students who come by this blog sometimes and like when it's a window looking back into their beloved college town.

There was some really cool skiing on the hill yesterday!

So your 5-year-old boy wants to dress like a girl....

How far should you go in supporting him? What if you're the teacher and the parents send him to kindergarten wearing a dress?
Doctors, some of them from the top pediatric hospitals, have begun to advise families to let these children be “who they are” to foster a sense of security and self-esteem. They are motivated, in part, by the high incidence of depression, suicidal feelings and self-mutilation that has been common in past generations of transgender children. Legal trends suggest that schools are now required to respect parents’ decisions....

Cassandra Reese, a first-grade teacher outside Boston, recalled that fellow teachers were unnerved when a young boy showed up in a skirt. “They said, ‘This is not normal,’ and, ‘It’s the parents’ fault,’ ” Ms. Reese said. “They didn’t see children as sophisticated enough to verbalize their feelings.”
And then there are the parents who think they ought to give hormone treatments to young tomboy girls on the theory that they need to be spared the shocking evidence of femininity that is menstruation.

"Suppose the Secretary of Homeland Security, who has unearmarked funds in his budget, decided to build a mosque..."

Enough about "Bong Hits 4 Jesus," let's pay attention to another of the cases the Court decided to hear -- same link as the previous post -- Hein v. Freedom From Religion Foundation. This case raises the question of who may sue to enforce the Establishment Clause. The plaintiff (which filed the case in Madison, Wisconsin) relied on the status of its members as taxpayers to challenge the practice of holding conferences the White House to assist religious groups in applying for federal grants -- part of President Bush's Faith-Based and Community Initiative. Judge Shabaz dismissed the case on the ground that Congress hadn't earmarked the money to go to religion and therefore that the plaintiffs could not use the special doctrine -- articulated in Flast v. Cohen, 392 U.S. 83, (1968) -- that allows taxpayers to enforce the Establishment Clause. The Seventh Circuit reversed, with Judge Posner writing the opinion.

Here's Posner's opinion. (I'm linking to the opinion at "Project Posner," a website devoted to Posner's judicial opinions.)
The Court decided in Flast that they should not stand in the way of challenges to "exercises of congressional power under the taxing and spending clauses of Art. I, § 8, of the Constitution," provided that the expenditure complained of is not just "an incidental expenditure of tax funds in the administration of an essentially regulatory statute" and that "the challenged enactment exceeds specific constitutional limitations imposed upon the exercise of the congressional taxing and spending power and not simply that the enactment is generally beyond the powers delegated to Congress by Art. I, § 8." 392 U.S. at 102-03. The Court found that this two-part test was satisfied by a challenge to the use of "the taxing and spending power . . . to favor one religion over another or to support religion in general." Id. at 103....

At argument the plaintiffs' counsel was unable to identify the appropriations that fund the conferences. The complaint does, however, allege that the conferences are funded by money derived from appropriations, which means from exercises of Congress's spending power rather than from, say, voluntary donations by private citizens. There is no suggestion that these are appropriations earmarked for these conferences, or for any other activities of the various Faith-Based and Community Initiatives programs, or for a statute pursuant to which the programs were created. The money must come from appropriations for the general administrative expenses, over which the President and other executive branch officials have a degree of discretionary power, of the departments that sponsor the conferences. Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2005, Pub. L. No. 108-447, 118 Stat. 2809, 2853, 3115-16, 3136, 3150, 3311-12; Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2005, Pub. L. No. 108-334, 118 Stat. 1298-99.

The difference, then, between this case on the one hand and Flast and Kendrick on the other is that the expenditures in those cases were pursuant to specific congressional grant programs, while in this case there is no statutory program, just the general "program" of appropriating some money to executive-branch departments without strings attached. The difference cannot be controlling. Suppose the Secretary of Homeland Security, who has unearmarked funds in his budget, decided to build a mosque and pay an Imam a salary to preach in it because the Secretary believed that federal financial assistance to Islam would reduce the likelihood of Islamist terrorism in the United States. No doubt so elaborate, so public, a subvention of religion would give rise to standing to sue on other grounds, just as in the St. Charles cross case; taxpayer standing in the hypothetical mosque case would not be essential to enabling a suit to be brought in federal court to challenge the violation of the establishment clause. But it would be too much of a paradox to recognize taxpayer standing only in cases in which the violation of the establishment clause was so slight or furtive that no other basis of standing could be found, and to deny it in the more serious cases.
Citing precedent, Posner identified the standing problem here as involving only the "prudential" limitations on federal court jurisdiction -- as opposed to the Article III constitutional limitations. Since "the prudential principles of standing, like other common law principles, are protean and mutable," Posner thereby freed himself to speak in practical terms and to avoid the Article III doctrine -- which has tightened up in the years since Flast and which has long made Flast seem like an anomalous safe harbor for Establishment Clause litigants.

Since the constitutionalized standing doctrine of the Burger and Rehnquist Courts presents a problem for those who want to argue that Flast was correctly decided, I should think it would be quite hard to argue nowadays that Flast ought to be broadened. Yet Flast is stare decisis, and Posner's practical reasoning is impressive. What if the Secretary of Homeland Security used general funds to build a mosque and pay an Imam?

The "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" case.

Everyone's going to want to talk about the new Supreme Court case, because it's amusing to say "Bong Hits 4 Jesus." Oh, maybe not everyone. It must deeply pain some people to say or hear the words "Bong Hits 4 Jesus," and it troubles them all the more that some otherwise halfway respectable folks think it's amusing to say "Bong Hits 4 Jesus." Some of them will be upset by the "Bong Hits" part. Drug use is not funny. Some will be upset by the word "Jesus." Sacrilege! And some -- you know the type -- experience "4" for "for" as if they were hearing fingernails on the blackboard.

Indeed, the phrase "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" is a good test of human sensitivity: The unamused folk represent four classic categories of conservatives. There are two types who who bridle at "Bong Hits": 1. people who want to control the manner and extent to which other people have fun and 2. people who are dedicated to the proposition that the law -- whatever it is -- must be followed. Those who don't like the use of "Jesus" are the sort who hear blasphemy in every "Omigod." Their minds don't go to a fun place when you quote words that are to you mere foolery. And then there are the pedants and spelling sticklers who are on guard about the degradation of language. What with Prince and text messaging and who knows what else, our language is under attack.

So now we have this phrase -- Bong Hits 4 Jesus! -- which enters the lofty annals of First Amendment law. Maybe it goes at the top of the list -- ousting "F**k the draft" -- of great phrases in the history of free speech litigation.

And how cool it is now to be Joseph Frederick, the student who got suspended from high school after he unfurled a 20-foot banner as the Olympic Torch Relay that passed through Juneau in 2002. (He displayed his words on the public street, not at school. The students had been released from school to go watch the spectacle.) Whether he wins or loses his case -- he sued the principal, Deborah Morse, for damages -- his name and his gloriously silly phrase will be inscribed in the constitutional case law forever. Some day he'll go to law school, I bet, and everyone will point and stare. He'll be a big law celebrity: It's the Bong Hits 4 Jesus guy!

December 1, 2006

Well, is this NSFW?

It's Susan Hallowell, the director of the Transportation Security Administration's security laboratory, as X-rayed by the "backscatter" machine. She's willing to appear in this form, so why not you? What's worse, that or a pat-down search? Take your pick.

This reminds me of the discussion of X-Ray glasses in Bill Bryson's new memoir of his boyhood. Wouldn't people look creepy, seen naked under their clothes? They wouldn't look like a naked person, because the clothes would be smooshing various parts of their body in strange ways. (And speaking of creepy: "Do I Creep You Out?" (via Drawn!).)

Then there's this book, "Seeing Through Clothes," that contends that paintings of nudes tend to do just that, depict the bodies pushed into a form that could only be achieved with a corset or some such device.

Nude people. You don't really want to see them. Believe me.

AND: I'm still going to watch "Positively Naked" on Cinemax tonight:
On an early morning in March 2004 some 85 adults gathered at a restaurant in Manhattan's meatpacking district, removed their clothes and posed for Mr. Tunick's camera. Arlene Donnelly Nelson and David Nelson's moving 38-minute documentary, to be shown tonight on Cinemax to commemorate World AIDS Day, captures the moment gracefully.

Like a lot of their fellow human beings, some of these men and women are a little apprehensive about revealing their naked bodies to total strangers, not to mention the world. One man says he is much more nervous about showing his distended abdomen (a side effect of medical treatment) than his penis. Many seem nervous at first but soon relax into the equality that nakedness creates. Not surprisingly, one man reports "a sense of camaraderie" in the experience.

At first the sight of scores of naked adults milling about and looking confused about what is expected of them bears an unsettling resemblance to a scene from a Holocaust film. But as the photo session proceeds, an energizing dignity takes hold. Neither the documentary nor the magazine cover photograph focuses on genitalia. The scene really does convey, as publicity materials suggest, the spirit within the flesh.
We'll see if it's quite as spiritual as all that. I tend to doubt it. I hate the idea that it's supposed to be profound because we're told it's about AIDS, as was done so often years ago.

ADDED: "The equality that nakedness creates"??

UPDATE: I've now watched the documentary "Positively Naked," and, despite all the talk about an art "installation," it was very much a documentary about people living with HIV/AIDS. An art-focused documentary would have been entirely different. I'm not knocking it for using AIDS to add weight to art, because it wasn't enough about art. It was about AIDs, and the feelings of the people who got naked and photographed were the subject of the documentary. Yes, photography on this level is art, but there was no pomposity about this art, and Tunick was an appealing and reasonably modest character. He wasn't at all like the stereotypical "installation" artist. As far as the nudity, it was really the standard nudist material. Getting nude in a group has some meaning. It's not art. It's a psychological phenomenon that isn't edgy or new in any way. So basically, this was a conventional documentary about struggling individuals. They also got nude and posed for a big photograph. But there was no pretension about the quality of the photography as art. The emphasis was entirely on the camaraderie. Nice. I wouldn't have watched it if I'd known what this was going to be, but it's perfectly fine for what it set out to do. Really, I would have preferred a full-of-himself artist revealing a lack of sensitivity toward the subject, but that's speaking only of the documentary I'd like to watch. Tunick seems like a decent guy, and that's a good enough thing in itself.

Finally, you can consummate...

... your love for iPod. (Via Metafilter.)

UPDATE: Link deleted. Go to the Metafilter post to get the joke.

Bad timing.

Damn it! I just ran outside in my pajamas -- I'm blogging in pajamas! -- into 18° darkness to look around for the newspaper and not find it. I get back inside, back to my computer, only to hear a car and that distinctive flopping sound....

Bogus headline, ridiculously unshocking juror behavior.

"High heel races, food fights and jurors gone wild." The jurors were back at the hotel, where they were sequestered for two weeks.
Jurors in the trial of a man accused of killing an Indiana University student got "giggly" while sequestered at a hotel, records show -- with men racing each other wearing high heels, food fights, football and Frisbee.

The defense is not amused, but may not be able to do much about it.

Can we do anything about writing that headline and wasting our time with a big article trotting out a defense attorney's desperate theory?

Proposed car safety device: a sharp stake on the steering wheel.

Pointing right at the driver! Think about how effectively it would work. This, risk expert John Adams explains, is why seat belts do not reduce death and injury as much as you might think:
Think of a trapeze artist, suggests Adams, or a rock climber, motorcyclist or college kid on a hot date. Add some safety equipment to the equation — a net, rope, helmet or a condom respectively — and the person may try maneuvers that he or she would otherwise consider foolish. In the case of seat belts, instead of a simple, straightforward reduction in deaths, the end result is actually a more complicated redistribution of risk and fatalities. For the sake of argument, offers Adams, imagine how it might affect the behavior of drivers if a sharp stake were mounted in the middle of the steering wheel? Or if the bumper were packed with explosives. Perverse, yes, but it certainly provides a vivid example of how a perception of risk could modify behavior.

Perverse... and awesome. Picture a whole bizarro world full of safety devices like this! How exciting life would be, even as all you were doing was being really, really careful. For a movie that proceeds on this theory of producing excitement, watch "Wages of Fear":
In a squalid South American oil town, four desperate men sign on for a suicide mission to drive trucks loaded with nitroglycerin over a treacherous mountain route. As they ferry their explosive cargo to a faraway oil fire, each bump and jolt tests their courage, their friendship, and their nerves.

ADDED: Funny typo in the original title to this post: "steering whee." Indeed. What a thrill!

AND: There's a drunk driver I used to know who argued -- vociferously! -- that drunk drivers drive more safely than sober drivers. As long as they aren't so drunk that they've forgotten they are drunk, they are motivated to drive super-safely because they know they have impaired reflexes and they know they are in big trouble if they are stopped by the police.

November 30, 2006

Al Gore jokes, then quips about the Supreme Court.

On "The Tonight Show":
Former Vice President Al Gore took a swipe at Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on Wednesday, referencing the conservative jurist's recent skepticism in a global warming case and role in the 2000 presidential election.

"In the arguments, Justice Scalia said, 'I'm not a scientist, I don't want to deal with global warming.' I just wish he felt that way about presidential elections," Gore joked on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno."

Responding to the audience's cheer, he quipped: "I think 51 percent of the audience clapped for it."
The quip is sort of funny (though a good joke actually makes people laugh, not "cheer" or clap), but the joke is strained. (It doesn't fit together. Getting involved in the presidential election isn't something that you do because you think you have scientific expertise. But, in any case, Scalia's position in Bush v. Gore worked to extract judges from the election, as it pushed back the Florida Supreme Court, which thought it had the expertise to run things.)

"I used to be bi-curious, but now I've just gone all the way to becoming 'bi.'"

Says Glenn Reynolds. I approve! (And despite my long experience, I have no idea what to do about that problem. It never works that way for me.)

Hanging in there... for -- what is it? -- 30 years?

I believe I have discovered the last surviving "Hang in There, Baby!" poster.

Hang in There, Baby!

Do you remember these things? They used to be all over the place in the 1970s. This one, you can tell by the faded colors, has been hanging in there all these years. I sort of remember what this poster meant when it was so popular, but it has by now acquired many layers of meaning. I can't tell whether it's richly ironic or sadly pathetic or whether it got back to being sweet again or whether it's gone on to being annoying the way it was in the 70s. Is it still up for no other reason than that it hasn't been taken down? It is behind a file cabinet (on what has long been an unused door between two offices). Or is the professor in the office trying to tell us something? And, if he is, what are the chances that it's "Hang in There, Baby!"?

Googling around, I found this old Ask Metafilter thread asking where to get the old poster, and that notes that "RetroCrush celebrates it." Do click on the RetroCrush link. You'll enjoy it. For one reason or another. I'm pretty sure.

(But it makes me think that the poster I've photographed here is an imposter. A second-rate follow on kitty cat, something like Jane Mansfield to Marilyn Monroe!)

People seem to be enjoying the new complexity to this Kramer character.

Sales soar on the new "Seinfeld" DVD. Still, no one could think it was a deliberate publicity stunt. No. No. Life's not that weird.


Please take this survey about blogs. I did, and it's a research project that I think is worthy.

Who can sue to force the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases?

Here's the Linda Greenhouse account of yesterday's oral argument in the global warming case, Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency:
“You have to show the harm is imminent,” Justice Scalia instructed [General James R. Milkey, representing the various states, cities and environmental groups who sued], asking, “I mean, when is the cataclysm?”

Mr. Milkey replied, “It’s not so much a cataclysm as ongoing harm,” arguing that Massachusetts, New York, and other coastal states faced losing “sovereign territory” to rising sea levels. “So the harm is already occurring,” he said. “It is ongoing, and it will happen well into the future.”

Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito both suggested that because motor vehicles account for only about 6 percent of carbon dioxide emissions, even aggressive federal regulation would not be great enough to make a difference, another requirement of the standing doctrine.

When Mr. Milkey replied that over time, “even small reductions can be significant,” Chief Justice Roberts responded: “That assumes everything else is going to remain constant, though, right? It assumes there isn’t going to be a greater contribution of greenhouse gases from economic development in China and other places that’s going to displace whatever marginal benefit you get here.” At another point, the chief justice said the plaintiffs’ evidence “strikes me as sort of spitting out conjecture on conjecture.”
In other words, even if you think the injury is enough for standing, there are problems on the "causation" and "redressability" prongs on the standing doctrine. Don't be distracted by Scalia's wondering about the "cataclysm." You can assume for the sake of argument that the plaintiffs face injury and still find no standing, for the sole reason that the relief they are seeking isn't likely enough to change the situation. But, looking at the transcript, I see they did focus more strongly on the injury question. Back to Greenhouse:
On the other side, Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, John Paul Stevens and David H. Souter appeared strongly inclined to find that the plaintiffs had met the standing test.
They generally do apply standing doctrine less strictly... which means that Justice Kennedy is the swing voter.
[Kennedy's] relatively few comments were ambiguous. Early in the argument he challenged the assertion by Mr. Milkey, the states’ lawyer, that the case “turns on ordinary principles of statutory interpretation and administrative law” and that there was no need for the court “to pass judgment on the science of climate change.”

That was “reassuring,” Justice Kennedy said. But, he added, “Don’t we have to do that in order to decide the standing argument, because there’s no injury if there’s not global warming?”

"We're going to stay in Iraq to get the job done so long as the government wants us there."

Said President Bush today, responding to what he called "a lot of speculation that these reports in Washington mean there's going to be some kind of graceful exit out of Iraq."

Yeah, don't go believing those reports about a graceful exit. Cue the lampoonery.

The economic analysis of cosmetic medicine.

Here's a big article about how all sorts of doctors are moving into cosmetic medicine -- where the patient forks out the money up front -- and how the plastic surgeons, facial surgeons and dermatologists are miffed about them horning in on their lucrative specialty. Everybody wants to be the one who gets to spend her life giving a zillion little injections into tiny wrinkles.

Bob Dylan meets Ricky Gervais.

And Bob's the interviewer. Perfect.

"Webb... has become a pompous poseur and an abuser of the English language before actually becoming a senator."

Says George Will, who, deploying a triple-D alliteration to express his dismay, opines that "Washington has a way of quickly acculturating people, especially those who are most susceptible to derangement by the derivative dignity of office." He points to the wild, wacky Webb's encounter with the brusque, bullying Bush, who triggered Webb's ire by asking "How's your boy?"
In his novels and his political commentary, Webb has been a writer of genuine distinction, using language with care and precision. But just days after winning an election, he was turning out slapdash prose that would be rejected by a reasonably demanding high school teacher.
Webb, Will whispers, said that the rich are "literally living in a different country." The loathsome "literally" lapse!

I haven't read Webb's books, so I'm in no position to say whether they are written in such excellent style, and I don't know whether the language Webb wields in his new senatorial guise is all that different from his novelist's approach. But I suspect that what we're seeing is not a man who has instantly succumbed to Washington's ways but a man with a novelist's mentality in a new setting. One way to explain his awkward behavior with respect to the presidential receiving line is that he thought through that scene like a novelist. If you were writing a novel about a character like him going through a receiving line with a President like Bush, wouldn't that be exactly the sort of scene you'd want to think up?

Ordinarily, in all sorts of social and political situations, people try to figure out how other people usually act and to stick to the convention and proceed smoothly along. This is nice enough, but rather boring. In a novel, a conventional social situation tends to be a set up for our hero to do something that shakes things up. The ordinary characters are aghast. They condemn the bad behavior of the protaganist, and we readers, in our armchairs, know how right he is. Of course, a novelist who concocts scenes like that is himself utterly conventional.

I don't think Webb has quickly picked up the Washington style. I think he's got the novelist's style, and he's his own hero Senator in a novel about Washington. And, what immense fun this is going to be! It looks like a great read:
Democrat James Webb declined to stand in a presidential receiving line or to have his picture taken with the man he had often criticized on the stump this fall. But it wasn't long before Bush found him.

"How's your boy?" Bush asked, referring to Webb's son, a Marine serving in Iraq.

"I'd like to get them out of Iraq, Mr. President," Webb responded, echoing a campaign theme.

"That's not what I asked you," Bush said. "How's your boy?"

"That's between me and my boy, Mr. President," Webb said coldly, ending the conversation on the State Floor of the East Wing of the White House.
I can't put it down.

November 29, 2006

"Only the United States prints bills that are identical in size and color in all their denominations."

"More than 100 of the other issuers vary their bills in size according to denomination, and every other issuer includes at least some features that help the visually impaired."

It hurts the blind and violates the Rehabilitation Act, a federal judge says.

This is an interesting manifestation of the notion that what other countries do says something about what American law means. (Discussed back here.)

It's an uphill slog.

Here in Madison, Wisconsin, as the semester winds to a close: 

Bascom Mall 

 It looks a little grim and foreboding from here: 

Science Hall 

But it is kind of nicely warm here today. Did you notice the young woman in that first photo with bare legs and flip-flops?

The Bush-Webb encounter.

I wonder who reported this as verbatim dialogue (via Memeorandum):
“How’s your boy?” Bush asked, referring to Webb’s son, a Marine serving in Iraq.

“I’d like to get them out of Iraq, Mr. President,” Webb responded, echoing a campaign theme.

“That’s not what I asked you,” Bush said. “How’s your boy?”

“That’s between me and my boy, Mr. President,” Webb said coldly, ending the conversation on the State Floor of the East Wing of the White House.
And then there's the part where Webb supposedly could barely control his impulse to punch Bush in the face. Sources say.

ADDED: There's a lot of talk in the comments. I just want to say that I don't believe that Bush responded to Webb quite like that. I don't believe Webb was quite like that either. He sounds mental. I want to know who told the anecdote, because the whole thing is phrased strangely. It compliments neither man.

"It's good to be on top."

The ad agency celebrates itself with an ad that everyone will see and talk about. You got a problem with that?
In a stab at paying tribute to all the winners of the coveted Lion awards at the 2006 Cannes International Advertising Festival -- considered the most prestigious of many annual advertising competitions -- Draft FCB placed a display ad in the November issue of Creativity magazine that is an astoundingly large and graphic image of two real lions in the act of having sex surrounded by a huge amount of white space....

At best the Draft FCB tribute ad -- with its overt visual and verbal sexual bent -- represents an inexplicable lapse in good taste. At worst, it's a downright vulgar and hugely inappropriate means of applauding winners of awards intended to honor the world's most creative advertising....

A Draft FCB spokesman admitted the ad was "a terrible mistake," and further claimed the work was "submitted without proper approval."
Isn't that what you always say about your viral ads?

Are you buying the Borat broke up Pam's marriage story?

I'm not. Too PR-y.

News flash: Sad people look sad.

Experts explain.

Catchphrases, caught and uncaught.

100 Greatest TV Quotes & Catchphrases -- via Throwing Things -- currently arranged in alphabetical order.... Well, so, have your fun: Put them in the right order. I'll just pick a few I like:
Here's Johnny! (Ed McMahon, The Tonight Show)
How sweet it is! (Jackie Gleason, The Jackie Gleason Show)
I want my MTV! (MTV)
I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV. (Vicks Formula 44)
Jane, you ignorant slut. (Jane Curtin and Dan Aykroyd, Saturday Night
The tribe has spoken. (Jeff Probst, Survivor)
Yabba dabba do! (Fred Flintstone, The Flintstones)
You rang? (Lurch, The Addams Family)
Hey, wait a minute! Just a darn minute. Where is "Dobie Gillis"? "You rang" gets a Lurch credit?

"So how about that Kramer?"

"The way he just says stuff."

(Via Throwing Things via Hypertext.)

November 28, 2006

"Sorry, haters, God is not finished with me yet."

So said Alcee Hastings, responding to the news that he will not chair the House Intelligence Committee.

Do you have "every right" to create a new word and "deploy" it as you see fit?

Neologisms are fine, says Stephen Bainbridge. I agree. I played the neologist -- -ist! -- early on in this post -- twice! -- when I said "intrablogospherical squabblage." Bainbridge reminds us that Thomas Jefferson wrote: "I am a friend to neology. It is the only way to give to a language copiousness and euphony." The problem is not the creation of a new word per se, it's what you do with with that word and what effect you have on other people.

MORE: Classical Values continues the allusions to Alice: "The Red Queen shook her head, `You may call it "nonsense" if you like,' she said, 'but I've heard nonsense, compared with which that would be as sensible as a dictionary!'"

Why does Andrew Sullivan keep talking about me without linking to me?

See the update on this post. It's getting ridiculous. I consider it a gross breach of blogging ethics.

UPDATE: And he doesn't tip.


With all this talk of the word "Christianist," I thought I'd do a Lexis/Nexis search to see how often it appears. In the Law Reviews & Journals database, "Christianist" (or "Christianists") is used only once, in an article by Robert J. Morris called "Intersections: Sexuality, Cultural Tradition, and the Law: Configuring the Bo(u)nds of Marriage: The Implications of Hawaiian Culture & Values for the Debate About Homogamy," 8 Yale J.L. & Human. 105 (1996)("Homogamy"? That's new to me.)
Despite the common law's formal deference to local custom, Anglo-Saxons in Hawai"i in the early 1800's hardly viewed Hawaiian custom as legitimate. Many of the foreigners who came to Hawai"i in the early 1800's called it (and its language) childish, simplistic, deficient, defective, heathen, pagan, native, and feudal. In doing so, they defined themselves in opposition to the Other and simultaneously changed the Other. They necessarily viewed Hawai"i as the despotic, barbaric Other; and a good part of this Otherness was the Hawaiians' sexuality.

Calvinist missionaries dealt with a culture that had aikane by calling christianist and capitalist culture "manly," Hawaiian society "feudal," and feudalism "effeminate." Any language other than the King's English was "emasculated."The discussion was in sexual terms, and the patriarchy-driven mission off-handedly acknowledged that "no nation on earth perhaps allows females a higher proportionate rank [than Hawai"i]." For Hawai"i, this was the "dawn of tyranny" under the new foreignization.
In the Major Newspapers file, there are only 25, with only one before 1990. It's in a letter to the editor of the Toronto Star, published on April 27, 1988:
Tom Harpur's column, New scientific views upsetting for atheists (April 17), may be amusing pap for the Sunday readers, particularly the smug christianists, but it is not an accurate or insightful depiction of the new physics....


(Blame Canada!)

The usage is noted in a William Safire "On Language" column on May 15, 2005:
Two weeks after writing about the fervor of the late Terri Schiavo's ''Christianist 'supporters,''' Hendrik Hertzberg of The New Yorker last month described Representative Tom Delay as a ''hard-right Christianist crusader.'' A few months before, soon after President Bush was re-elected, the conservative Weekly Standard reported that an Ohio cartoonist had sent out a communication deploring ''militant Christianist Republicans.''

Obviously there is a difference in meaning between the adjectives Christian and Christianist. Thanks to Jon Goldman, an editor at Webster's New World Dictionaries, I have the modern coinage of the latter with its pejorative connotation. ''I have a new term for those on the fringes of the religious right,'' wrote the blogging Andrew Sullivan on June 1, 2003, ''who have used the Gospels to perpetuate their own aspirations for power, control and oppression: Christianists. They are as anathema to true Christians as the Islamists are to true Islam.''

Not such a new term. You have to be careful about claiming coinage, as I learned to my rue (my 1970's baby, workfare, turned out to have been coined earlier; same with neuroethics). In 1883, W.H. Wynn wrote a homily that said ''Christianism -- if I may invent that term -- is but making a sun-picture of the love of God.'' He didn't invent the term, either. In the early 1800's, the painter Henry Fuseli wrote scornfully that ''Christianism was inimical to the progress of arts.'' And John Milton used it in 1649.

Adding ist or ism to a word usually colors it negatively, as can be seen in secularist....

As Christianist, with its evocation of Islamist, gains wider usage as an attack word on what used to be called the religious right, another suffix is being used in counterattack to derogate those who denounce church influence in politics. ''The Catholic scholar George Weigel calls this phenomenon 'Christophobia,''' the columnist Anne Applebaum wrote in The Washington Post. She noted that he borrowed the word from the American legal scholar, J.H.H. Weiler. The word was used by Weigel ''after being struck by the European Union's fierce resistance to any mention of the continent's Christian origins in the draft versions of the new, and still unratified, European constitution.''

Just some info.

ADDED: In the comments, amba asks for a definition of "aikne," which is not susceptible to Googling. Actually, it's printed in the article as "aikne." I'm not sure how that is meant to appear. I think it's aikane with a line over the middle "a." I've corrected that in the original text. Anyway, according to the article it refers to partners in a same-sex relationship:
Exact translation is not an easy task. Some concepts of the Hawaiian language were buried with the advent of Christianity and capitalism in Hawai"i. Aikane was among these. Aikane marks persons of any gender in a homogamous relationship. Despite Christianity, this meaning persists well into the twentieth century among those who know Hawaiian....

The traditional meaning of aikane as a same-sex lover is crucial. From the first day of Captain Cook's arrival in Hawai"i through the formative years of the American and other foreign presence in Hawai"i, the aikane of the chiefs (ali"i) of each island facilitated the foreigners' livelihoods, their use of land, their very existence.

Global Post Barometer.

It's the Global Post Barometer, and right now it's showing the U.S. trending negative, and the Islamists trending positive.

ADDED: Cue to Glenn Greenwald: I used the word "Islamists." Spin out your crazy fantasies about what dastardly things are implied by my copying of the word from the Washington Post's chart.

My brain as a hypodermic needle. Your brain as an international airport.

A new book:
[W]omen talk almost three times as much as men, with the average woman chalking up 20,000 words in a day - 13,000 more than the average man.

Women also speak more quickly, devote more brainpower to chit-chat - and actually get a buzz out of hearing their own voices, a new book suggests....

In The Female Mind, Dr Luan Brizendine says women devote more brain cells to talking than men.

And, if that wasn't enough, the simple act of talking triggers a flood of brain chemicals which give women a rush similar to that felt by heroin addicts when they get a high....

But what the male brain may lack in converstation and emotion, they more than make up with in their ability to think about sex.

Dr Brizendine says the brain's "sex processor" - the areas responsible for sexual thoughts - is twice as big as in men than in women, perhaps explaining why men are stereotyped as having sex on the mind.

Or, to put it another way, men have an international airport for dealing with thoughts about sex, "where women have an airfield nearby that lands small and private planes".
I love when a book explains supposedly scientific information in language that approximates that Prince song "International Lover."

ADDED: Mark Liberman notes that the book is actually called "The Female Brain" and indicates that the book is more substantial than the linked Daily Mail piece makes it look.

Are tall people better because they are tall...

... or tall because they are better? Let me rephrase that: Is the relative success of taller people the result of the favoritism they receive from people who admire tallness, or is it that the good nutrition that produced tallness also produced smartness?

"Americans know who he is, and have pretty much decided they don't like him."

John Kerry finishes last in a likability poll. Possibly a botched poll.

(Via Memeorandum.)

"Pay is a complicated thing."

Linda Greenhouse elegantly explains a difficult Supreme Court case about the lingering effects of long-ago job discrimination:
Is each new paycheck, reflecting a salary lower than it would have been without the initial discrimination, a recurring violation that sets the [statute of limitations] clock running again? Or does the passage of time, without fresh acts of intentional discrimination, render the initial injury a nonevent in the eyes of the law?...

[T]he E.E.O.C. ... has long applied what is known as the “paycheck accrual rule,” under which each pay period of uncorrected discrimination is seen as a fresh incident of discrimination. So although the 180-day limit applies to discrete actions like a discriminatory refusal to hire or failure to promote, it does not, in the view of the federal agency charged with administering the statute, prevent lawsuits for the continuing effects of past discrimination in pay.

But the Bush administration has disavowed the commission’s position....

When Justice Antonin Scalia asked, “Why should we listen to the solicitor general rather than the E.E.O.C.?”...

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer appeared most sympathetic to Mr. Russell’s argument. Justice Breyer commented at one point that “there will be probably a significant number of circumstances where a woman is being paid less, and all she does is for the last six months get her paychecks and she doesn’t really know it because pay is a complicated thing.” It could take “even a year for her to find out,” he said.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. appeared the most skeptical, several times raising the question of how employers could shoulder the burden of defending long-ago pay decisions.

“It could be 40 years, right?” Chief Justice Roberts asked Mr. Russell, adding, “I mean, if it happened once 20 years ago, you have a case that you can bring” under the plaintiff’s analysis.
The case is Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company Inc.

150 things to love about Madison.

A nice list. Let me highlight a few things:

UW-Madison students. A continuously cycled transfusion of new blood for the city. Plus, move-in day is good entertainment; move-out day means good junk-picking....

Ice skating on Tenney Park lagoon....

Williamson Street. If it's not the hippie enclave it was in the past, it's still a thriving alternative to chains and the mass-produced, while providing goods and services to the near east side. It's also home to the Willy Street Co-op and the... Willy Street Fair and Parade... and its star attraction the Bubble Car. Not to mention the graffiti wall at Mother Fool's coffeehouse....

The Pro Arte Quartet + Mendelssohn. A match made in heaven....

UW Cinematheque. Vintage, experimental and foreign films at this mecca for movie buffs....

Smart Studios. Nirvana's Nevermind was recorded here. What more do you need to know?

The Innocence Project. The Justice system sometimes screws up, putting innocent people in prison, then mightily resists admitting that it made a mistake. Thankfully, this UW Law School team has helped gather the incontrovertible evidence needed to overturn several wrongful convictions....

UW pianist Christopher Taylor interpreting Olivier Messiaen....

Night swimming. Why does it seem like everyone we know has a story about being spotlighted by cops in the middle of the night at B.B. Clarke Beach in various states of undress?

Lots more. Go to the link.

The end of "Air America" in Madison.

I'd say: if they can't make it here, they can't make it anywhere.
Mike Malloy reading long passages from Orwell's "1984" was not mentioned by anyone as something they'll miss should Air America programming be dropped from WXXM/FM 92.1 "The Mic."

The station is set to switch to sports programming on Jan. 1. We asked readers what they will miss about The Mic if the switch is a done deal, and quite a few responded. Some responses were edited for space and clarity:

• Karl Marx observed, accurately, I believe, that in every age the ruling ideas are the ideas of the ruling classes. It follows that any other ideas will be dismissed by, for example, the owners of the broadcast media as "unpopular," whether or not they are shared by two persons or by 200 million.

For all its flaws, a progressive radio format such as the one that WXXM/FM will abandon on New Year's Day demonstrates the powerfully subversive fact that ideas about getting out of Iraq now, creating a single-payer health care system, adopting instant runoff voting, etc., are not at all unpopular. I will miss Madison's part in creating that progressive national sensibility and that the soon-to-be absent voices do it so entertainingly. (Alan Bickley, Madison)....
So... sort of like... it's unpopular because it's popular? Or is it the other way around? Maybe if I read more Marx (and less Orwell) that would make more sense to me.

Moving on:
• With the loss of 92.1, the progressive voice in Madison will again be silenced (well, except for WHA, WERN, WORT, WTDY, the Progressive, Isthmus, the editorial page of The Capital Times and most of the editorial page of the Wisconsin State Journal, but you know what I mean).

I listen because nowhere else can you find such raw, spittle-flecked emotionalism combined with such robust disinterest in facts. (Dale Aldridge, Madison)
Okay. I'm going to stop while I'm amused. More opinion from the locals at the link.

"A 'quintessential Madison case' of animal rights vs. the university."

A local contracts case with a nice free speech dimension:
Dane County judge said Monday that the law is on the side of animal-rights activists who want to buy buildings next to the UW-Madison's primate labs and open a museum highlighting the cruelty they say happens at the labs.

Budget Bicycle owner Roger Charly, who owns the property, cannot back out of an agreement he made to sell it to Dr. Richard McLellan, a retired California physician who is bankrolling the $675,000 purchase for the National Primate Research Center Exhibition Hall, Dane County Circuit Judge Sarah O'Brien ruled.

The buildings are directly between the Harlow Primate Psychology Laboratory and the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center, a location coveted by animal-rights activists for its proximity to the labs.

In July 2005, Charly tried to back out of an agreement he made with McLellan and animal- rights activist Rick Bogle about eight months earlier and instead sell the property to UW-Madison for $1 million. Charly previously turned down offers from UW-Madison as inadequate.
Charly argued -- unsuccessfully -- that it was not a contract because there was no consideration.
...O'Brien pointed out, the university has condemnation powers and could seek to take the property for the public good. Bogle said he is worried about that possibility.

"If they do that now, it will be clear that they are trying to stifle debate," Bogle said.

But primate center director Joe Kemnitz said he is concerned about the effect the museum would have on his staff.

"If, in fact, they were able to do what they plan to do, to open the museum to attract other activists, that could be disruptive to our operation," Kemnitz said. "It would have a negative impact on the well-being of our staff."
Don't you think it would violate Bogle's free speech rights to use eminent domain to take the property now? (There's no sign that the university plans to do this, it should be noted.)

Why not engage with me instead of trying to make me into your enemy?

Despite yesterday's forbearance, I feel I have to respond to this post of Andrew Sullivan's. I didn't say I'd resist forever. I just said I was sensitive about too much in a row of the intrablogospherical squabblage. But now that I've hit a couple other subjects and have a bit of time this morning to stir up a reasonably bloggy mix, I'm going to respond.

Here's his post, in its entirety, under the heading "Quote for the Day":
"What seems to be guiding Althouse and Reynolds' hatred of the term "Christianist" is that it highlights a fact which they both are eager to ignore - namely, that the political party to which they are so devoted is dominated by individuals who believe that their religious/Christian beliefs ought to dictate the American political process, shape secular law, and exploit coercive state power to constrain the choices of their fellow citizens," - Glenn Greenwald, responding to increasingly hysterical attacks on yours truly by some Republican bloggers.
Is this decent, Andrew? Greenwald, an extremely partisan blogger, known for swinging wildly, produced a post that was obviously designed to vilify me. Did you bother to check whether any of his assertions are fair or true, or do you think it's acceptable to just reprint something and let it work its damage because you're irked at me for raising some questions about your hostility to religious people? I see that you seem to be trying to make amends to the religious people you offended by printing some long emails from Mormons, so I have the feeling that my criticism had some effect. So why just reprint a hostile quote?

First, I'm not only not "so devoted to" the Republican Party, I'm not a Republican at all. The main reason I'm not a Republican is that I object to the social conservatism aspect of the party. I'm not a Democrat either, because of the Democratic Party's weakness on national security. I'm on record, time and again on this blog, as disliking both parties. In short, the entire premise of Greenwald's quote -- my supposed party affiliation -- is a lie.

Second, I don't have a "hatred" of your word "Christianist." As I said in the very post of mine that criticized you and that linked to Greenwald's abusive material:
I don't object to the word "Christianists" if it is used fairly to refer to something that is the equivalent of "Islamists." I use the word "religionists" myself. See here, here, here, and here. Words like this mean something and have a place. The key is to use them in the right place. I criticize Sullivan when he shows a hostility toward ordinary religious people who aren't trying to bully their way around the political world. There are distinctions to be made here.
Instead of letting Greenwald be your mouthpiece, why not engage with the issue I raised about your use of the word? I share your opposition about the social conservative political agenda, and I'm a strong supporter of the separation of church and state. Why not engage with me instead of trying to make me into your enemy? I have supported gay marriage in numerous posts on this blog for almost three years, and I am a law professor who teaches a course in Religion and the Constitution. Why don't you see me as a valuable ally or, at the least, a person to avoid reprinting lies about?

UPDATE: Sullivan responds to this post without linking to it. Great. I guess you want to make it hard for your readers to see what I actually said. He prefers to link to the Instapundit post that links to this. What's that all about? How many times is he going to print my name over there and talk about me without linking to me? It's really unfair! It flaunts unfairness! Here's what he writes -- note how it just merges me with Glenn Reynolds, knocks me, then proceeds to talk about things Reynolds wrote. Here's the part that is about me:
Today, the Althouse-Reynolds Axis begs for me to engage them on the issues, rather than making them my "enemy." I'm befuddled. I linked to a quote by Glenn Greenwald, which was very long and included many links to Althouse and Reynolds and others over the question of whether "Christianist" is an appropriate term to use to describe the fusion of political ideology and religious faith. Greenwald shows that Reynolds and Althouse simply refuse to allow me to deploy a word in a manner that makes sense to me. Althouse writes:
I criticize Sullivan when he shows a hostility toward ordinary religious people who aren't trying to bully their way around the political world. There are distinctions to be made here.
Indeed there are. That's why I call "ordinary religious people" Christians and call those who are "trying to bully their way around the political world" Christianists. Is that so hard for her to understand? I've stated it quite clearly from the beginning, but she refuses to take me at my word.
And you, Andrew Sullivan, refuse to engage with the serious argument I am making here. If you linked to the posts you talk about and cut way down, your readers would have a fair chance to see what I am saying. I have obviously agreed with your basic definition but called you on your overuse of it and the air of hostility toward religious people you're giving off. Why don't you deal with my argument fairly, including links to me, and why don't you treat me as an individual instead of lamely and inaccurately merging me with Glenn Reynolds? Glenn and I have taken different positions on this, and I'm the main blogger writing about the subject, so why are you linking to him linking to me? I would suggest it's sexism -- it certainly gives off a whiff of sexism -- but I think the real reason is that Reynolds's position is easier for you to oppose by trotting out your usual points.

November 27, 2006

"Maybe the next frontier in the academic battle against all varieties of oppression should be 'drunk studies.'"

Cathy Young riffs, a propos of "Fat Studies":
Why not an academic program championing the idea that "alcohol abuse" is an artificial construct based on the mainstream culture's oppressive notions of what constitutes appropriate and inappropriate consumption of alcohol? "Drunk studies" could tell us that the stigmatization of drunkenness stems from the Western valorization of such dubious values as self-control, rationality, and obedience to social norms, and reflects a pernicious fear of rebellion against inhibitions and authority. Of course, it would also question conventional wisdom -- supposedly based on scientific evidence, but really rooted in anti-drunk bias -- about the deleterious health consequences of alcohol abuse and the dangers of drunk driving. After all, the goal of "drunk studies" would be to empower drunks!
You could repackage all the vices. The first commenter over there brings up laziness -- sloth. I mean, why are we sinners persecuted so much? Prejudice! Convention!

"And then they went to the 20th-year reunion and saw that somebody else who was 10 times less smart was making much more money."

Hey, it's front page news in the NYT that some people make a lot less money than others who begin their careers with worse credentials but choose a career path that pays more. For example, a doctor became a Wall Street adviser on medical investments and makes a lot more than doctors who practice medicine. (Via Memeorandum.)

(Could people stop saying things like "10 times less smart"? It doesn't make sense. It should be one tenth as smart. Just a usage point. I know he's only talking, but he's a rich guy, so why not give him as hard a time as possible?)

ADDED: Glenn Reynolds mocks the headline "Lure of great wealth affects career choices." That made me go over and see the photograph again. The Wall Street doctor guy, who sounds perfectly decent throughout the article, is pictured sitting in what looks like a modest room, with his wife and two kids, playing Monopoly. Aw, nice family scene, he must have thought. Here we are, TV off, no video games. We're playing a board game. But the shot used has one child holding up play money and counting it just as the wife is leaning over toward him with a slightly intense look on her face. Oh, noooo! Don't you know those rich people play Monopoly. And look at that woman implanting the message that it's good to get rich!


I am resisting getting drawn into intrablogospherical squabbles. I hope you appreciate it!

After that long, sole post this morning, I feel I would be doing my regular readers a disservice if I posted what I just composed in my head, which is a response to a couple of very conspicuous taunts that are out there today.

But you taunters -- you know who you are! -- be advised: I could taunt you right back so hard it wouldn't even be funny.

But I want to be funny. I need something frothy and amusing to talk about. Oh, here's a quote. Let's just call it my "Quote of the Day.".. if you know what I mean.... Andrew???.... Anyway, no intrablogospherical squabbling! Really! I mean it. I don't want squabbling! I want amusement! Here's the quote:
The other day I got out my can opener and was opening a can of worms when I thought, "What am I doing?!" --- Jack Handey, "Deepest Thoughts."

So much for moderation.

After writing a post on Saturday, expressing my dismay at seeing Andrew Sullivan showing disrespect toward Mormons (and denying it), I did another post on Sunday, linking to The Moderate Voice, which, like Sullivan, had printed a photograph of Mormon undergarments and wondered about how people would respond to a Mormon -- Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney -- running for President. (I intend to follow this issue closely in the coming months.)

The author of the post at TMV, Shaun Mullen, chose -- immoderately -- to lash out at me, calling me names, in a way that was just weirdly out of line. (Details below, at "Let me just remind you about how Shaun acted.")

Co-blogger Greg Piper wrote:
Shaun's post on the coming media circus surrounding Mitt Romney's likely run for president as the first serious Mormon (properly speaking, "LDS") candidate is generating some upset comments from the LDS faithful who appear to not like the posting of people in the temple underwear....

But I'd remind those that consider the shot offensive that it indeed illustrates (literally) what is coming in 2008 - if Romney keeps hinting he'll run, a slew of stories for the next 2 years about the LDS church, its history, controversies and role in America and abroad, including its rather secretive leadership structure....

Yes, a bit crude - but the underwear shot gets attention, and is something that a lot of folks like myself never even heard of. Let's also consider the difficulty of describing temple underwear without something visual. If "South Park" can make fun of Latinos selling "Native American" tampons made from their hair to a gullible, progressive audience, and secular and faithful alike can pillory the Christian merchandising trend of the past decade, I don't see how LDS temple underwear is off limits. LDSers could take a page from certain Middle Easterners that self-identify as Muslims (the efforts I make to be PC!) and start killing people that highlight temple underwear, but they're too civilized for that. I happen to agree with the commenter in Shaun's post that implied this was a side issue as long as people were dying over offense.

That said, I found Shaun's three responses to Ann Althouse's criticism to be in poor taste, especially patronizing a serious, intelligent blogger as "Annie Pooh." A public apology from Shaun, many of whose readers at TMV probably didn't see his responses at Althouse's blog, wouldn't be inapt.
Thanks, Greg. And let me add that Shaun's invented nickname for me is sexist. He needs to be called on that. I know there are some folks who seem to think sexism doesn't count when aimed in a rightward direction -- you should see some of the things they said in the comments -- but it does, and I'm keeping score.

Co-blogger Andrew Quinn writes:
In short, I'm shocked.... When I came back to blog here after a recent and extended leave of absence, I quickly and easily noticed a less moderate tone. Every coblogger that posts with any regularity offers an extensively left-wing viewpoint, and (here's the real offense) often stooping to ridiculous levels to claw at the knees of the Republicans....

I'm appalled. This site is too rapidly becoming an echo chamber like those we once were proudly able to sneer down at.

I guess we shouldn't be surprised to see religious bigotry from a new coblogger who wrote on his own blog the following gem of "moderation" :
Just do me a favor: If someone tells you how proud they are to be an American this Thanksgiving, don't bother to get tangled up in some long winded discussion about what The Decider has wrought. Just ask to have the cranberry sauce passed to you and throw it at them.
Well, Shaun, the Moderate Voice once used to stand for civil debate ("long-winded discussion") and not so much for throwing of food. But I guess acting like children is in vogue now - it just doesn't seem so moderate to me.

Okay. Let's post pictures of what others consider sacred for a cheap laugh because "it was coming anyways." Let's be ashamed of being Americans. And let's devolve our debate to the point where we're arguing that the Administration plans for the maximum casualties.

I love this site and what it has stood for. I really do, and that's why it sickens me to see us take this path. Because if we continue along our current trajectory, a name change will be in order....

I'd like to preempt any criticism or calling me a "neocon," a Halliburton puppet or anything similar by saying that I supported Kerry in 2004, supported mostly Republicans in 2006, and that this post was not based on any specific opinions but rather a yearning for the educated and civil debate we used to have here. Not a forum where cobloggers respond to intelligent criticisms of their work by calling respected lawblogger Ann Althouse "Annie Pooh." Is this a joke?
Thanks, Andrew.

Joe Gandelman, the founder of TMV, writes a post, ostensibly for new readers, where he explains his site, what moderation means, and what the co-bloggers are:
We are adding some new cobloggers. Each has a different perspective and style. This weekend passions ran high, even among our cobloggers. I have asked everyone who writes on this site to email their concerns to me in the future about the site and we can discuss it privately.
Nothing specifically about me there. And Joe has a second post, a short one, where he links back to Shaun's original post and to Greg's post, the one that suggests Shaun should apologize to me, but again, Joe says nothing about me.

I think Joe had a nice blog going, one that lived up to its title. Maybe it's not a good idea to have a blog title that makes such a distinct claim, but anyhow, I think Shaun Mullen is hurting Joe's reputation. I don't know why Joe hasn't addressed the way Shaun treated me.

Let me just remind you about how Shaun acted. Here's his first appearance in the comments to my blog:
Hi Annie Pooh:

Thanks for the drive-by-hit hit on The Moderate Voice post. I wrote it. You took it out of context to suit your own ends.

While I'm not surprised, I'm kinda sad. But it is so much easier to flail than think something through.

Your readers can judge for themselves:

Best, Shaun
As several readers immediately pointed out, my post did link to his post. I mistook his comment for private email and wrote back:
What "ends" are you referring to? Preserving civility and opposing
bigotry? Yes, I did. You should be glad I wasn't harsher to you as I
believe was justifiable.

And why are you acting like I didn't link to your post? People can go
over there and see how far you went. You went seriously wrong when you posted the photograph.

You really don't sound too moderate. You sound insulting and
mocking... and unconcerned about religious persecution.
My email prompted Shaun to comment in the post thread again:
Ann has replied to be me privately, but has not posted her response to me in the comments section of her own blog. Or maybe Blogger is acting up again. Oh, well.

Anyhow, my advice for Ann remains the same: Stop flailing.

I discussed some of the issues that Mitt Romney will draw, most of them frivolous and unworthy of discussion, in the context as a preview of Things to Come, not a knock on the Church of Latter Day Saints or their underwear.

Chill, Ann, chill. Go play with that squirrel in your yard.
When I saw that, I added this comment:
Shaun: You really don't come across as moderate at all. As for replying to you privately rather than here, I saw your private email to me first and didn't yet see that it was also a comment here. What I responded privately was:
[Text of email omitted.]
Does Joe know you're screwing up his blog?
Shaun then commented:
Annie Pooh:

I did not send you a private email. Somebody copied me in on your screed.

It is a beautifully sunny day here on the East Coast. I have just come in from a bike ride.

Do you have a bike? If so, I'd suggest you get on it and pedal away your demons.
I commented again to say that I really mistook Shaun's comment for private email. (The comments on the blog come to me as email, allowing me to keep track of things.) I don't think Shaun returned. But what a strange performance! What was it about my original post that even arguably called for his attitude? I think it's truly weird, especially for someone who is given the stage of a blog someone else created and built up under the name "The Moderate Voice."

But Joe's later posts demonstrate that Joe knows Shaun is "screwing up his blog" or has the basis to know that but has drawn a different conclusion. Frankly, Joe's failure to call Shaun on his ridiculous abuse or to reach out to me in any way really says something. I haven't been keeping track of his blog that well, and I really don't know why he's loaded it up with co-bloggers after creating such a distinctive persona for himself. But something is awry.

I suppose I should say something like: These people who call themselves moderates are usually playing some game. They really are partisan -- otherwise why are they writing about politics? -- and they're just posing under the label "moderate" to try to pull you in and put one over on you. Be very suspicious.

But then that's what people keep saying about me.

November 26, 2006

"I'm sleeping in the same house as her for 11 days, looking for her. And she's right in the bedroom."


Keisha and Mary.

The 16-year-old actress Keisha Castle-Hughes, who plays the Virgin Mary in the new movie "The Nativity Story," is pregnant. More here ("'Who cares if she is only 16?' said one family member, who did not wish to be named.") And how old was Mary? "The opinion that Joseph at the time of the Annunciation was an aged widower and Mary twelve or fifteen years of age, is founded only upon apocryphal documents." The movie did cast a very young woman, however, and now the young actress is herself pregnant. Response?

"Can Romney endure the media exposure that awaits him? What if his great-great grandfather was a bigamist? And what about that underwear?"

And that's from the so-called Moderate Voice. Steel yourself folks. There's going to be a lot of this sort of thing in the coming months.

Here's a substantial article from the Dallas Morning News:
No Mormon presidential candidate has ever posed a real threat – until Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

The buzz about his potential 2008 candidacy has been growing for several months now, especially as the star of the early Republican favorite, George Allen, has dimmed. Given that prominent conservative evangelicals like columnist Cal Thomas and the Rev. Jerry Falwell have stated that Mr. Romney's faith should not be a barrier to the presidency, Mr. Romney might be the first Mormon candidate whom mainstream evangelicals can support....

[C]onservative Christians' opposition to Mormonism, while historically a reaction to Smith's violation of cultural taboos, is also rooted in theology....

The LDS church's professionalism and skillful image management worry many conservative Christians. The Mormon church has tried to position itself in the mainstream by conducting a careful marketing campaign....

For conservative Christians, this rebranding of Mormonism as a mainstream Christian faith is a threatening and duplicitous move, especially considering the church's high conversion and birth rates. They have continued their efforts to marginalize the LDS church. In October, Dr. James Dobson himself – considered by some observers the most influential figure on the Christian right – said on national radio that he doubted a Mormon could earn evangelical votes. Some view Mr. Romney's candidacy as the latest – and most aggressive – step in the Mormon PR campaign to convince Americans that Mormonism is just another denomination of Christianity.

"There is the perception that, if Mormonism is legitimized at that level, many American Protestants will become Mormon," says Greg Johnson, an ex-Mormon who now leads efforts in Mormon-evangelical dialogue.

Mr. Romney, who has balanced the Massachusetts budget, reformed health care and stuck to his conservative social beliefs, is aware of this perception. Over the last few months, he has made several efforts to meet with conservative Christians and convince them that he shares their most sacred moral and social positions – such as opposition to abortion and gay marriage – no matter his theology....
And here's a piece by Andrew Sullivan in the London Times:
Romney has proven himself a competent executive, he is a red governor from a blue state, he’s a fiscal conservative, a health policy innovator — and he’s good looking in a generic all-American way. The one problem is that he is now, and always has been, a Mormon. This would and should be irrelevant, except that his primary campaign must necessarily appeal to the Republican base on evangelical Christian grounds. When a political party has become a religious organisation, as the Republicans have under Bush and Rove, it’s hard to nominate a heretic as leader. Mormons insist they are Christians but not many other Christians easily agree.

Many evangelicals are keen to look past the issue, arguing that private faith and public office are unrelated issues. But this is a little rich coming from people who believe George W Bush is divinely guided. And the more the actual doctrines of Mormonism emerge, the deeper the awkwardness could be. All humans can become gods? Jesus returned to earth after his resurrection . . . in America? Moreover, the secrecy of the Mormon leadership, its insistence on mandatory tithing, and accusations of cult-like practices are likely to stir at least some controversy among the very religious right whose support Romney badly needs.

Personally, I have no interest in someone’s private faith in his or her pursuit of public office. Romney, to my mind, should be judged on his public record. The trouble is: this is not what the religious right has come to expect in a leader. They look for a religious figure in a political leader, “one of them”.
There is going to be a lot to monitor on this story. There's the usual way social conservatives and social liberals import religion into their struggle, but the addition of a distinctive new religion is making everything old new again. It could get really ugly. And make no mistake: Sullivan's move is an ugly one. He doesn't like social conservatives and the way they use religion, and he sees an opportunity to drive a wedge into them by raising questions about religious doctrine and prodding people to feel hostility toward Mormons. He thinks this is justified because -- he asserts -- the Republicans have won power by styling themselves as a "religious organisation." They've used religion to their advantage, so they deserve to have it used against them. But stirring up hostility toward one sect? That is a dangerous thing that goes far beyond the targets you think you're aiming at.

IN THE COMMENTS: Shaun Mullen, author of the Moderate Voice post, drops by, hangs around, and eventually provokes me to say "Does Joe know you're screwing up his blog?"

Fat studies.

Why not major in Fat Studies?
Proponents of fat studies see it as the sister subject — and it is most often women promoting the study, many of whom are lesbian activists — to women’s studies, queer studies, disability studies and ethnic studies. In many of its permutations, then, it is the study of a people its supporters believe are victims of prejudice, stereotypes and oppression by mainstream society.

“It’s about a dominant culture’s ideals of what a real person should be,” said Stefanie Snider, 29, a graduate student at the University of Southern California, whose dissertation will be on the intersection of queer and fat identities in the United States in the 20th century. “And whether that has to do with skin color or heritage or sexual orientation or ability, it ends up being similar in a lot of ways.”
In the other corner, we have the people who hate this sort of thing:
“In one field after another, passion and venting have come to define the nature of what academics do,” said Stephen H. Balch, president of the National Association of Scholars, a group of university professors and academics who have a more traditional view of higher education. “Ethnic studies, women’s studies, queer studies — they’re all about vindicating the grievances of some particular group. That’s not what the academy should be about.

“Obviously in the classroom you can look at issues of right and wrong and justice and injustice,” he added, “But if the purpose is to vindicate fatness, to make fatness seem better in the eyes of society, then that purpose begs a fundamental intellectual question.”
They're here, they're fat, and they want a department devoted to them.

Cool people can't go out on Saturday anymore.

Because the uncool people are out.
“In the old days, Saturday was the destination night for chic New Yorkers headed to Studio 54 at its most resplendent,” [said Michael Musto, the longtime Village Voice night-life columnist.] “But things changed as more and more tri-staters were willing to use the bridges and tunnels for here-we-come Gotham weekends, so the locals started staying home and triple-bolting their doors as if in a George Romero film.”...

Last Saturday, four Manhattanites in their early 30s were huddling over a low table downstairs at Buddakan, the cavernous pan-Asian restaurant in the meatpacking district. “During the weekends, you get a lot of clutter, if you will,” said Brian Kirimdar, 30, an investment banker. He and his wife, Ashley, tend to hide out in restaurants on Saturdays, avoiding all but a few of the Chelsea clubs. “You don’t find too many bridge-and-tunnel people at Cielo or Marquee,” he said. “You really have to pick and choose.”
Zombies! Clutter! The aversion to other people permeates human life. The wonder is that anyone ever ventures out at all. What riffraff is out there!

And yet they do go out. They go out and still imagine that they are hiding out in restaurants and only a few clubs.

The new "blog magazine" trend.

Stephen Bainbridge is back from his blogging hiatus and has revamped his bloggage into "a blog magazine in three sections." The professional is separated from the personal, and the wine is in another place altogether. Good idea? Personally, I like one blog with mixed topics, but I can see how someone else might prefer to highlight a topic (like wine) and to keep the professional part completely professional. It's likely to be more comprehensible to colleagues, and there probably are some people who would only be interested in following you down one path but not the others. But you lose the surprise of the mix.

Bainbridge keeps his Site Meter private, so we can't see, but it will be interesting for him to see what entry and exit pages people are using. I would expect the personal blog to get the most readers -- it's the one I'm blogrolling -- because culture, religion, and politics interest people so much. If the corporate law blog gets relatively low numbers, he will surely -- and fairly -- assume these are high quality readers, people whose admiration will help him professionally.

Is Bainbridge's way the way of the future? We shall see. It's one way. I think it will appeal to some who blog a lot -- most people can't keep up three blogs -- and who want to write about their professional subject in a style that they worry is not entertaining enough for lay readers or who want to maximize the credit they get for the professional writing they are doing on the blog. It may work as a way to get more of your colleagues to read your blog. Some of them probably don't want to wade through the daily posts to see what you are writing about law.