December 31, 2007

The 2007 posts-of-the-month.

January: C'mon, guys, wear leggings!

February: That polar-bears-on-the-melting-ice-cap photo.

March: I'm going to watch "An Inconvenient Truth."

April: Let's take a look at that 10 Commandments monument.

May. Caricature and handwritten notes from the 7th Circuit conference.

June: Why the judge cried about the pants.

July: Ingmar Bergman has died.

August: Just a few museum photos.

September: About Justice Kennedy's garish carpet and the way his desk is wedged in a corner.

October: Madison and New York/young and old.

November: A vlog about Thanksgiving squirrel, Mancow, guns, law school, commenters, and Madison versus New York.

December: I get pissed off at TNR.

Blogging the presidential campaign — month by month, 2007.

January: Analyzing the text of Hillary Clinton's announcement.

February: "Wearing an overcoat but gloveless on a frigid morning, Mr. Obama invoked a speech Lincoln gave here..."

March: "And people are going to have to take better care of themselves. We cannot afford all the illness that folks are bringing on themselves."

April: Is Obama a gasbag?

May: Chris Wallace asks Giuliani about his statement that it's "okay" if Roe is overruled and "okay" if it's not — but doesn't push him on his answer.

June: Let's take a closer look at Bill's carrot and Hillary's onion ring.

July: Giuliani and race.

August: You people are soooo invisible. And you will always be invisible. Without me.

September: The world, tired of hating America, wants Hillary to win.

October: Like George Bush, Hillary Clinton "presides over an office of intense and focused workaholics, protective of their patron and wary of outsiders."

November: "Hnh, Biden stomps some dirt on Robert Bork's grave."

December: "It said my house is pink. I would not have a pink house, I assure you."

Here's where I pick out all my favorite quotes from the things I've collected on this blog over the past year.

"I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy." Joe Biden on Barack Obama.

"And to say that we are going to feed more American young men and women into that grinder, put them in the middle of a tribal, sectarian civil war, is not going to fix the problem...." Chuck Hagel, sure the surge would fail.

"I am self-involved, mercurial and comfortable eating dinners of frozen waffles in my underpants."

"Is Coulter truly oblivious to her gender weirdness? It's no coincidence that words like 'tranny' and transvestite' clog the anti-Coulter blogs." Camille Paglia, getting ugly.

"I'm pretty much going to stay out of it until the course — the case has finally run its final — the course it's going to take." President Bush, declining to say if he'll pardon Scooter Libby.

"Since the slaughter raised no real issues, it was a blank slate on which anyone could doodle." Christopher Hitchens on the Virginia Tech Massacre.

''He still didn't put the butter up... I was like, 'You're just asking for it, you know I'm giving a speech. Why don't you just put the butter up?''' Michelle Obama.

"An aging roué, who is almost too facile, and a grimly ambitious feminist lawyer, with a tough but conventional mind." Noemie Emery -- in The Weekly Standard -- on Bill and Hillary Clinton.

"We believe bottled water has become less about the physical act of hydration and more about being a companion to people."

"We like the United States of America, but we do not like your Waschbaeren!"

"I suggest to you with respect, Your Honor, that you're a few French Fries short of a Happy Meal..."

"If you don't like your life, change it." Something simple but profound that Laurence Olivier once said, noted on the 100th anniversary of his birth.

"Maybe his solution will be to get out his small varmint gun and drive those Guatemalans off his lawn." Something hilarious John McCain said about Mitt Romney.

"I will follow him to the gates of hell." "You sure wouldn't want to be where Saddam Hussein is, where we helped put him." Hell talk from John McCain and Rudy Giuliani.

"Teachers taught, and students listened. Teachers commanded, and students obeyed." Justice Clarence Thomas.

"I believe that Ann intentionally keeps her camera focused on the books behind her... so that she is filmed in a flattering soft focus." Some ADS sufferer on Bloggingheads.

"Are you going to convict Jack Bauer?" Justice Antonin Scalia.

"Gerald began - but was interrupted by a piercing whistle which cost him ten percent of his hearing permanently as it did everyone else in a ten-mile radius of the eruption, not that it mattered much because for them ’permanently’ meant the next ten minutes or so until buried by searing lava or suffocated by choking ash - to pee." Winner of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest.

"I wallowed in a morass of general and specific dislike and pity for most people but me especially..." Young Hillary Clinton.

"Clinton's low-cut shirt simply reflected a few centimeters of sartorial miscalculation..." Robin Givhan.

"He quickly matched my urgency in the clothes-removal efforts and we were naked and happy in no time." Al Gore's daughter writes a novel.

"We are 45 doctors and we are determined to undertake jihad and take the battle inside America."

"Jesus has a very special love for you. As for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great that I look and do not see, listen and do not hear." Mother Theresa.

"I will on no account vote for a smirking hick like Mike Huckabee, who is an unusually stupid primate...."

"He knows enough to know he's not descended from apes!"

"So here’s the rule. You never repeat right wing talking points to attack your own, ever. You never enter that echo chamber as a participant. Ever. You never give them a hammer to beat the left with. Just. Don’t. Do. It." Jane Hamsher tells Elizabeth Edwards what to do.

"What politics has become requires a level of tolerance for triviality and artifice and nonsense that I have found in short supply." A quote from it's-easy-to-guess-who that I wrote 10 questions about.

"He's typing and drinking and threatening to 'shave Paul Krugman with a broken bottle.'" Maureen Dowd, describing Stephen Colbert as he's writing a guest column for her.

"Si te gusta el sexo oral, vote por Caragol por consejal." My favorite foreign language quote of the year.

"And another thing - the crotch, down where your nuts hang - is always a little too tight, so when you make them up, give me an inch that I can let out there, uh because they cut me, it's just like riding a wire fence. These are almost, these are the best I've had anywhere in the United States. But, uh when I gain a little weight they cut me under there. So, leave me , you never do have much of margin there. See if you can't leave me an inch from where the zipper (burps) ends, round, under my, back to my bunghole, so I can let it out there if I need to." LBJ, ordering pants.

"The rage he harbors raises questions about whether he can sit as an impartial judge in many of the cases the Supreme Court hears." New York Times editorial about Clarence Thomas.

"It strikes me as a self-hurt book." Jon Stewart on Chris Matthews' self-help book.

"Carelessness. I lost my one true love. I started drinking. The first thing I know, I'm in a card game. Then I'm in a crap game. I wake up in a pool hall. Then this big Mexican lady drags me off the table, takes me to Philadelphia. She leaves me alone in her house, and it burns down. I wind up in Phoenix. I get a job as a Chinaman. I start working in a dime store, and move in with a 13-year-old girl. Then this big Mexican lady from Philadelphia comes in and burns the house down. I go down to Dallas. I get a job as a 'before' in a Charles Atlas 'before and after' ad. I move in with a delivery boy who can cook fantastic chili and hot dogs. Then this 13-year-old girl from Phoenix comes and burns the house down. The delivery boy — he ain't so mild: He gives her the knife, and the next thing I know I'm in Omaha. It's so cold there, by this time I'm robbing my own bicycles and frying my own fish. I stumble onto some luck and get a job as a carburetor out at the hot-rod races every Thursday night. I move in with a high school teacher who also does a little plumbing on the side, who ain't much to look at, but who's built a special kind of refrigerator that can turn newspaper into lettuce. Everything's going good until that delivery boy shows up and tries to knife me. Needless to say, he burned the house down, and I hit the road. The first guy that picked me up asked me if I wanted to be a star. What could I say?" Bob Dylan.

"I knew this was no fetish-laden intrigue with a woman of another race, but a gift from God." Clarence Thomas, on meeting his second wife.

"I'd done what I thought was right, and I took heart from George Benson: I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone's shadows/If I fail, if I succeed/At least I live as I believe/No matter what they take from me/They can't take away my dignity." Clarence Thomas, steeling himself by listening, over and over, to "The Greatest Love of All."

"What I wanted was for everyone — the government, the racists, the activists, the students, even Daddy — to leave me alone so that I could finally start thinking for myself." Clarence Thomas describing how he felt after reading Ayn Rand.

"He insisted that we bathe in what he called a 'teaspoon' of water, using laundry detergent instead of soap. 'Waste not, want not,' he repeatedly warned us. We weren't allowed to use towels to dry ourselves, either, since Daddy thought washcloths were good enough to get us dry (as well as being easier to launder than towels). Whenever he thought we hadn't gotten ourselves clean enough, he finished the job himself, a terrifying experience that we did everything we could to avoid." Clarence Thomas, on the baths of childhood.

"Sen. Clinton is claiming basically the entire eight years of the Clinton presidency as her own, except for the stuff that didn't work out, in which case she says she has nothing to do with it." Barack Obama.

"And I would never spend my money on a Chinese girl skeleton. That would be crossing the line. It's a Chinese boy, for the record." Marilyn Manson.

"Maybe yellow blotches, wrinkles, and phantom fetuses really get a pubescent neotenic mole salamander in the mood for love." Go Fug Yourself.

"At the moment, Giuliani and fellow moderate Mitt Romney are attacking each other for being insufficiently Tancredo-esque." David Brooks.

"I did shift from being against the death penalty to thinking that if it has a significant deterrent effect it’s probably justified." Cass Sunstein.

"Blogs are walking up to legal scholarship and slapping it in the face. Blogs say to legal scholarship: 'How dare you! Evolve or Die!'" From the Bloggership Symposium.

"If you don't pass universal health care by July of 2009... I'm going to use my power as president to take your health care away from you." John Edwards, megalomaniacally.

"It's basically akin to someone sitting on their couch and chewing up food and spitting it all over the floor and the walls and the furniture month after month until it piles up and congeals and grows into mold, turning the room into a repulsive, health-threatening mess." Bad Simile of the Year, from Glenn Greenwald.

"Oh gee, I can't figure out what I think. Don't pick on me by asking that question! That's a gotcha question!" Rudy Giuliani spoofs Hillary Clinton.

"Everything I'm saying here is my wife's position, not just mine." Bill Clinton, remembering to talk not only about himself.

"I'm not doin' hand shows today." Fred Thompson.

"Well, Hillary, I'm looking forward to you advising me as well."


Happy Year's End.

I hope you had a good year. If not, it's over anyway.

I thought I'd mark the occasion with three posts gathered from the things I've collected in this giant archive over the last 12 months.

The first one will have a post from each month. Maybe it's what I consider the best post of the month, or maybe it's just one post from the month that I feel like bringing up again at year's end.

The second post consists of one post from each month about the presidential campaign. I've excluded all the debate simulblogging, because who wants to read those again and because the debates are fairly easy to remember and I thought it would be interesting to bring up some things that may have slipped away.

The third post is just all my favorite quotes from the many quotes I've copied out here over the course of the year.

So hang on a minute. I'm almost ready to put these up.

December 30, 2007

I wave good-bye to a beautiful year.


Just a picture from back in April, which I'm seeing tonight as a frantically survey the past 12 months of posts to put together 3 year-end posts for tomorrow.

"What one's sin is, means it's missing the mark. It's missing the bull's eye, the perfect point."

Mike Huckabee explains what he means when he says that gay people who do not abstain from sex are sinners. From today's "Meet the Press":
MR. RUSSERT: This, this is what you did say about homosexuality: "I feel homosexuality is an aberrant, unnatural and sinful lifestyle." That's millions of Americans.

GOV. HUCKABEE: Tim, understand, when a Christian speaks of sin, a Christian says all of us are sinners. I'm a sinner, everybody's a sinner. What one's sin is, means it's missing the mark. It's missing the bull's eye, the perfect point. I miss it every day; we all do. The perfection of God is seen in a marriage in which one man, one woman live together as a couple committed to each other as life partners. Now, even married couples don't do that perfectly, so sin is not some act of equating people with being murderers or rapists...

MR. RUSSERT: But when you say aberrant or unnatural, do you believe you're born gay or you choose to be gay?

GOV. HUCKABEE: I don't know whether people are born that way. People who are gay say that they're born that way. But one thing I know, that the behavior one practices is a choice. We may have certain tendencies, but how we behave and how we carry out our behavior--but the important issue that I want to address, because I think when you bring up the faith question, Tim, I've been asked more about my faith than any person running for president. I'm OK with that. I hope I've answered these questions very candidly and very honestly. I think it's important for us to talk about it. But the most important thing is to find out, does our faith influence our public policy and how? I've never tried to rewrite science textbooks. I've never tried to come out with some way of imposing a doctrinaire Christian perspective in a way that is really against the Constitution. I've never done that.

MR. RUSSERT: But you said you would ban all abortions.

GOV. HUCKABEE: Well, that's not just because I'm a Christian, that's because I'm an American. Our founding fathers said that we're all created equal. I think every person has intrinsic worth and value...

MR. RUSSERT: But many Americans believe that that would be, that would be you imposing your faith belief...

GOV. HUCKABEE: But, no. It's not a faith belief. It's deeper than that. It's a human belief. It goes to the heart of who we are as a civilization....
If he's really not going to import his religious beliefs into law — and you may not be willing to believe that, but assuming he's not — do you really care if the President thinks you're a sinner? I mean, assuming he's kindly and mellow about it. I wouldn't want a President who seethed and obsessed about it inordinately, mainly because I prefer an unnutty President. But don't most religious folk perceive lots of sin out there in the world? Why pick on Huckabee for being honest about it? At least we get to see more of how he feels about sin and sinners, and it looks kindly and mellow enough to me.

ADDED: Video removed, but you can watch it here.

Remembering the carrots.

After calling that last episode with me "The Forgotten Carrots Edition," Bloggingheads now has the explanation at the top of the right sidebar:
A few months ago, Ann Althouse's spiel about carrots in a Hillary campaign ad rocked the blogosphere. Steve Kaus felt the shockwaves; he remarked on the issue in a diavlog with Bob Wright. But now Steve has forgotten about the carrots entirely.Or has he? Is that a glint of recognition in his eye?
He claims — here in my comments section — that he only remembered later. But since I'm big on seeing things in video and standing by my observations, I really shouldn't point that out.

ADDED: To continue the interpretation of video, watch Bob Wright — on the left in video 2 — after he says "And I'm not sure I've ever thought of carrots that way." Has he? Is that a glint of recognition in his eye?

UPDATE: I've removed the embedded video, which seemed to be causing a lot of problems with the page loading. I've put in links, so you can still see the video if you want.

"Is Gen. Petraeus Killing Kos?"

"Was the left-wing blogosphere always mainly about Iraq?... Maybe the whole blogosphere was about Iraq!"

Traffic problems — noted by Mickey Kaus.

Hitting a blog is an emotional expression, and some blogs attract readers by being the place it feels good to hit when you are charged up about something that is happening in the world. A mutually dependent relationship develops as the blog must satisfy your emotional needs without curing the distress that made you hit it in the first place.

ADDED: Actually, the Kos traffic looks like a pretty stable plateau to me.

We never dreamed that a little girl might lie to get something she wanted.

The store Club Libby Lu gave a big prize — a trip for 4 to a Hannah Montana concert — to a 6-year-old girl for writing an essay that began: "My daddy died this year in Iraq." Now, the girl and her mother are being publicly humiliated because, apparently, there is no dead soldier dad.

Well, of course, it was bad of the little girl to lie, but little kids lie. Making a spectacle out of disgracing a 6-year-old is disgraceful. After failing to check the very checkable fact that made the company think of her essay as the best, it should have quietly resolved the matter with the girl's family — probably by sending her on the trip anyway — and given the prize — the honor of winning plus the trip — to someone else.

"Life spans measured in years don’t take into account how fast we live them."

Bernard Holland says, as he looks at the lives of great composers:
Composing at the speed of life (forgive me), Schubert at 31 was like any normal musical genius at 65....

Schubert was ill [in 1827-1828], probably with venereal disease, and knew it. He was also eaten up by too much drinking. Given the time spent sleeping, taking meals, visiting friends and going to concerts, it is a puzzle how Schubert found time to copy all this music out, much less think up what to write. Forty composer-years were lived in about one and a half....

On the other hand, what more would Chopin have produced had his Paris doctors had the anti-consumption drugs that have since rendered tuberculosis sanitariums nearly obsolete?...

Sometimes the spirit outlives the body that houses it. Haydn in old age, broken and exhausted by “The Creation” and “The Seasons,” said musical ideas assaulted him physically when he no longer had the strength to act on them.
Most of us rely on the belief that we will live a long time, and we fail to accomplish things quickly in the energy of youth. There's plenty of time later. But maybe there isn't, or maybe there is, but you won't do much with it. You'll have a different sort of body and mind when you're older, and it may not do those things the younger you had planned for it.

And don't you wish you could be like Haydn, so beset by your own creativity that you feel your ideas are physically assaulting you? It would be sad if you reached the point where you couldn't do anything about those ideas, but how wonderful to know, even as you approached death, that the full force of creativity still lived in you. It is so much more likely that you will feel well enough but find nothing inside you that demands your artistic work.

"Does he have sex appeal?... Can you smell the English leather on this guy?"

"Does he have sex appeal? . . . Can you smell the English leather on this guy, the Aqua Velva, the sort of mature man's shaving cream, or whatever, you know, after he shaved? Do you smell that sort of, a little bit of cigar smoke?" "

So said Chris Matthews about Fred Thompson — from a list of quotes of the year assembled by Glenn Greenwald, who editorializes that Matthews is "fantasizing about the pleasing, manly body smells of Fred Thompson." Greenwald's unnumbered list is hit and miss, but I'm amused by the manifestations of male enthusiasm for manly males.
"What's appealing about Rudy Giuliani is not the generous side, what's appealing about him is the tough cop side.
Right. You just wait until daddy gets home.
Yes, that part...
That Daddy.
... of the daddy. It's the tough cop side, so...
Yes. Yes" --
Chris Matthews and Howard Fineman, breathlessly sharing their excitement over the firmness of their Daddy, Rudy Giuliani.

He has "chiseled-out-of-granite features, a full, dark head of hair going a distinguished gray at the temples, and a barrel chest . . . . and has shoulders you could land a 737 on" --
Roger Simon, The Politico's chief political columnist, enthusiastically admiring numerous parts of Mitt Romney's body.

IN THE COMMENTS: Palladian explains fragrances for men (and he really knows what he's talking about).

"Supporting anyone except your dad for President when your dad is running for President. Bad idea, Giuliani kiddies."

Bad ideas of 2007 — from the Daily News. That's #3 of 25.

December 29, 2007

"I think he would play the role that spouses have always played for presidents."

"He will not have a formal, official role, but just as presidents rely on wives, husbands, fathers, friends of long years, he will be my close confidante and adviser as I was with him."

Get into your cage, Bill Clinton!

Notice anything terribly wrong with Hillary Clinton's answer to Wolf Blitzer's question?

"I really regret that anybody would try to politicize this tragedy. I personally knew Benazir Bhutto..."

Huh? The question wasn't about Bhutto, and the clip of Barack Obama had him criticizing her about Iraq. She gives a little smirk and a shake of her head as if Obama had just politicized the Bhutto assassination — which he hadn't mentioned (unless there's some editing) — and then she goes on to promote herself based on her various meetings with Bhutto. I'm not going to criticize her for "politicizing the tragedy" though. I'm going to criticize her for not answering the question asked, for cueing up a robotic answer, and for not having much of substance to say about the problems we have going forward with Pakistan. I don't want hushing about "politicizing the tragedy" filling up the time that should spent on a serious discussion of our policy toward Pakistan.

(Thanks to my son John for sending me the link to this clip, at TPM's YouTube channel Veracifier.)

ADDED: Here's the Washington Post's assessment of how the various candidates did responding quickly to an important incident:
One candidate, Democrat John Edwards, passed with flying colors. Another, Republican Mike Huckabee, flunked abysmally. Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican John McCain were serious and substantive; Republicans Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani were thin. And Barack Obama -- the Democratic candidate who claims to represent a new, more elevated brand of politics -- committed an ugly foul...

Then Mr. Obama committed his foul -- a far-fetched attempt to connect the killing of Ms. Bhutto with Ms. Clinton's vote on the war in Iraq. After the candidate made the debatable assertion that the Iraq invasion strengthened al-Qaeda in Pakistan, his spokesman, David Axelrod, said Ms. Clinton "was a strong supporter of the war in Iraq, which we would submit was one of the reasons why we were diverted from Afghanistan, Pakistan and al-Qaeda, who may have been players in the event today."
The clip above makes more sense if we see Hillary as responding to that, and I wonder whether the TPM editing was unfair.

IN THE COMMENTS: Christopher Althouse Cohen (my son) writes:
I watched the whole interview when it aired, and the clip you see here directly follows a long conversation about Benazir Bhutto and what should be done in Pakistan. Obama's comments should be looked at in the context of him attempting to connect Clinton's vote for the war with Bhutto's assassination, which he has personally done. Clearly, that's what she was speaking about and she interpreted the clip as being in that context. Wolf Blitzer did some kind of a lead-in from the discussion of Bhutto to showing the clip from Obama that the YouTube clip leaves out in order to make her answer look bad. People on YouTube are out to get her, and you need to look at the entire context.

Do you love a movie that everyone else hated?

In the first post of the day today, I condemned a movie about Heaven:
This was an early CGI film that was enough to make me never want to see another CGI film. And I only saw the trailer for it.

That made Blake write:
Ann Althouse casually dissed one of my favorite movies on her blog, which provoked in me a great idea for a forum topic/series of blog posts: Movies I loved that everyone else hated....

So, why do I like ["What Dreams May Come"]? ... [T]he "Hell" that Annie (Annabella Sciorra) goes to isn't a place she's assigned to by some bureaucratic angels, it's a place she herself has created through her grief. In other words, Heaven and Hell are made of the same stuff, just not by the same people. It also seems to be far, far away from Heaven, which reminds me of St. Augustine's notion that "Evil is distance from God".
The post inspires a comment from Trooper York:
The reason why people hate this movie can be spelled out in two words: Robin Williams. I have some rules in life: Never play cards with any man named "Doc." Never eat at any place called "Mom's." And never, never, no matter what else you do in your whole life, never go to see a movie starring Robin Williams.
Okay, so we've really got 3 topics here now, don't we?

1. Movies you love that everyone else hated.

2. Movies you're willing to condemn with confidence based on the trailer.

3. Rules for life movies.
I'll start:
1. Pecker.

2. Already answered. But it's my reaction to most trailers. Sometimes the feeling is so strong, I feel compelled to try to help people by saying something out loud — "There's no way that's a good movie" or perhaps a subtly vocalized "Ugh!"

3. Any movie with Claude Rains is worth watching. (A rule best demonstrated by "Deception." Sample line that is incredibly cool because it is said by Claude Rains: "Like all women: white as a sheet at the sight of a couple of scratches... but calm and smiling as a hospital nurse in the presence of a mortal wound... Good night!")

"Mike Huckabee is learning how it feels when people actually pay attention to what you're saying."


"You may have seen that some Hillary Clinton 'sock puppets' were recently outed on a New Hampshire blog, to the campaign’s great embarrassment."

Thanks, Matt Bai, NYT Magazine writer who is now also blogging on the NYT website. I'm extremely interested in that story, which I missed. I see you have created a link on those words "a New Hampshire blog," but when I click on it, I just get the whole blog! If you're going to blog, Matt, you have to link to the relevant posts. And he's written a book on blogging. Come on, Matt, links are key. Now, I'm forced to Google for the damned story myself, which is not a very bloggy experience.

Easiest to find is this, from the WaPo:
[R]eaders of Blue Hampshire -- about 800 a day, a relatively small but consequential group that includes party activists and state Democratic leaders -- recommend "diaries" that visitors should read. Yesterday, four readers who created new accounts and recommended pro-Clinton postings were traced back to Clinton's campaign. And those readers, Blue Hampshire noted, didn't disclose their relationship with Clinton. In the blogosphere, there's a word for this frowned-upon behavior: "sock-puppeting."
WaPo links to the relevant post at Blue Hampshire, which shows the ineptitude of the puppetry:
Recently, we admins noticed this comment thread on a recommended diary, and the oddities it posed made us look a little deeper than we normally would.

As the comment thread revealed, users pinballwizard, elf, shley24, MTAY all registered in succession to recommend the diary. A further look by us revealed that:

* they had registered within minutes of each other, including another user a bit later, janbaby, who was not among the recommenders,

* the same IP address was used by all of them, and is registered to the Clinton campaign,

* two other recommenders, blues and kmeisje, also registered from the same IP address.
Surely, there must be much more puppetry that escapes attention if this is how dumb it is when it's caught.

Meanwhile, here's how Matt Bai begins his most recent post: "I’m still trying to get used to blogging...." Please. Spare me the neophyte posing. You wrote a whole book about blogging! You should be demonstrating the art of master blogging.

ADDED: Speaking of Matt Bai not linking, I was just reading (and linking to) this essay he wrote about Stephen Gilliard — who died this past year. Look at how it ends (with my boldfacing):
[T]he few dozen mostly white bloggers who came to Harlem for the funeral saw for the first time the stark urban setting of Gilliard’s childhood, while his parents and relatives groped to understand what kind of work he had been doing at that computer and why scores of people had come so far to see him off. They must have been confused when Gilly’s online pals, sickened by the way some right-wing bloggers were gloating over his death, advised them not to disclose where he was buried, out of fear that someone might deface the site. The grave, like Gilliard himself, is known only to a few.
What right-wing bloggers? What did they say? Were "Gilly's online pals" correct in their characterization, or were they out of line? This just hangs there. NYT readers are left to think ill of the right wing of the blogosphere. Why, they're a bunch of monsters who want to piss on a young man's grave! Did any significant blogger gloat over Gillard's death?

AND: Speaking of inadequate linking at the NYT... Glenn Reynolds notes a NYT book review that has a hyperlink on N.R.A., where the reference is to Roosevelt's National Recovery Administration, that takes us to a list of articles about the National Rifle Association. The mistake is still there 2 hours after Glenn conspicuously shamed them about it. The NYT should be making a conspicuous show of its professionalism and superior resources on the web, but instead it is making mistakes that would mortify me — in my little one-person operation.

"If he overidentifies with Sharpton, he looks like he’s only a black candidate."

"A black candidate doesn’t want to look like he’s only a black candidate.... A white candidate reaches out to a Sharpton and looks like they have the ability to reach out. It looks like they’re presidential. That’s the dichotomy."

Said — is it too obvious? — Al Sharpton.

And from Julian Bond: "A portion of black voters want Obama to give them some raw meat. Because they want so badly to have their concerns addressed and highlighted, and they expect it of him because he’s black."

From a NYT article titled "A Biracial Candidate Walks His Own Fine Line":
Too young to have experienced segregation, [Barack Obama] has thrived in white institutions. His style is more conciliatory than confrontational, more technocrat than preacher. Compared with many older politicians, he tends to speak about race indirectly or implicitly, when he speaks about it at all....

In his 2006 book, “The Audacity of Hope,” Mr. Obama recalls sitting with a white, liberal Democrat in the Senate and listening to a black, inner-city legislator, whom he identified only as John Doe, speechifying on how the elimination of a particular program was blatant racism. The white colleague turned to Mr. Obama and said, “You know what the problem is with John? Whenever I hear him, he makes me feel more white.”

Mr. Obama finds a lesson in that moment: White guilt has exhausted itself. Even fair-minded whites resist suggestions of racial victimization. Proposals that benefit minorities alone cannot be a basis for the broad coalitions needed to transform the country, he concluded. Only “universal appeals” for approaches that help all Americans, he wrote in his book, “schools that teach, jobs that pay, health care for everyone who needs it” can do that, “even if such strategies disproportionately help all Americans.”

Exiting through the door marked 2007.

The NYT Magazine has its annual "Lives They Lived" issue, with short essays on a wide range of individuals who died in the past year. A blogger gets a farewell essay this year. Steve Gilliard:
Though Gilliard, unlike many bloggers, always used his real name, few readers knew much about him. They didn’t know, for instance, that at age 39 he had open-heart surgery to repair an infected valve. They didn’t know he lived alone in a small apartment in East Harlem. And, although Gilliard often wrote about race and alluded to his own perspective, a lot of readers never realized he was black.... The paradox of Gilliard’s existence is a familiar story on the blogs, where people often adapt avatars that are more like the selves they imagine being. Online, he was vicious and uncompromising. In person, Gilly, as his close friends called him, was reserved and enigmatic.... He lamented that he didn’t know what it was to “wake up naked in a strange bed,” but, he wrote, “at 35, I’ve figured out that this is it, at least for now. Anything I do, any life I make, is going to revolve around words and computers and strange, bright people.” [T]he few dozen mostly white bloggers who came to Harlem for the funeral saw for the first time the stark urban setting of Gilliard’s childhood, while his parents and relatives groped to understand what kind of work he had been doing at that computer and why scores of people had come so far to see him off.
There was Brett Somers, one of "The Match Game" celebrities:
She wasn’t Mae West, 80 trying to act 20, or an embalmed Gabor, but rather, with her Elton John glasses and Toni Tennille hairdo and saucy answers, an average-looking menopausal woman with a healthy regard for sex. In one of the most memorable broadcasts, Somers’s husband, Jack Klugman, was on the panel and seemed to be rushing the host, Gene Rayburn, along, as if to say that he and Somers had something better to do.
There was Mary Crisp:
Crisp testified before a Congressional committee on behalf of the Equal Rights Amendment in 1973 without really thinking about it much supporting the E.R.A. had been a Republican Party position for nearly 35 years. (The Democrats had been more split, some worrying that the amendment would wipe out hard-won but ultimately counterproductive laws protecting women from things like working overtime or lifting heavy objects.) But in 1978, Crisp ran head-on into the new insurgent right, which had built its grass-roots strength on issues like opposition to the E.R.A. and abortion. Once it became clear that Reagan was going to be the party nominee, she knew her time was just about up... The Republican Party made Crisp nonexistent at the convention she had helped organize. Her name vanished from the program. She left her Detroit hotel clutching a big pink stuffed elephant inscribed, “Go Mary!” which, alas, she could not fit into the airport taxi.
There was Robert Adler, the guy who invented the object some people hold in their hand more than any other object. Two animals got recognized — a parrot and a chimpanzee — because they almost, maybe, cared about talking to us. And here's a list of the famous people who died in 2007. As usual, it's a diverse group of people thrown together by the happenstance of death occurring around the same time. It excludes those who died too close to the publication date — but Benazir Bhutto made it — and those — it could be you or I — who die in the last few days of the year. We do have 3 days left. The new list starts with January, so, the spiffy look of the list is more important than acknowledging those who slipped into eternity through the closing door of the previous year.
Denny Doherty, 66, Mamas and Papas singer.... Frankie Laine, 93, hit-making crooner.... Anna Nicole Smith, 39, famous for being famous.... Kurt Vonnegut, 84, novelist who caught the imagination of his age..... Don Herbert, 89, "Mr. Wizard" to science buffs.... Tammy Faye Bakker, 65, emotive evangelist.... Michelangelo Antonioni, 94, Italian movie auteur. Ingmar Bergman, 89, master filmmaker.... Luciano Pavarotti, 71, tenor of his generation.... Joey Bishop, 89, last of the Rat Pack.... Norman Mailer, 84, towering writer with matching ego... Evel Knievel, 69, legendary daredevil... Ike Turner, 76, R&B singer and former husband of Tina Turner.
Don't you picture them traveling together into the afterlife? Didn't I see a movie with a diverse group of recently dead persons making the passage? I remember them in black and white, on a small boat, and arguing. Let's check this list:
1. Between Two Worlds (1944)... passengers on a shrouded luxury liner visit with The Examiner, who hears their cases and tickets them for their next destination, depending on who they were and how they died....
Close. It's a boat, but it sounds too large.
2. A Matter Of Life And Death... (1946).... the differences between Brits and Yanks—when the latter arrive in heaven, they stampede straight to the Coke machine....
I'm sure I never saw that, judging from the clip at the link, with David Niven sitting on the escalator to heaven.
3. Black Orpheus (1959)... following the rhythm of Carnival and the belief that the barrier between life and death can be easily, almost playfully circumnavigated, for those with the right attitude and the right paperwork.
This is one of those classics I always felt I should see back in the days when I was fulfilling the obligation of seeing all the classics. But I've never seen it.
4. Defending Your Life (1991)... After dying, mortals go to a big, bland city full of big, bland courtrooms, where their lives are examined to see whether they've conquered fear enough to be ready for the next stage of existence....
This is a pretty good Albert Brooks movie with Meryl Streep that got many viewings chez Althouse in the 1990s. It always irritated me that getting into heaven was an entirely 1990s American idea of self-actualization. "Self-actualization" isn't the right word, though, is it? People stopped saying "self-actualization" more than 15 years ago, I think. It sounds self-indulgent, but nevertheless more challenging than "self-fulfillment," which is what we'd say now. Imagine access to heaven depending on whether you'd fulfilled yourself on earth.
5. Afterlife (1998)... government workers... operate out of a run-down rural facility where the newly dead spend a week among peeling paint and bargain-basement furniture, selecting the memory from life that means the most to them. Then the facility staff recreates those memories on film for the dearly departed, who take nothing but that memory when they move on to whatever comes next.
This is an elegant movie, focusing on what is being left behind and not the arrival in the next world. We see a strange little place of transition.
6. Corpse Bride (2005)... the dead seem to hang out in skeletal or zombie form in a big Burtony goth-tinged paradise full of aggressively animated "inanimate" objects and spontaneous song-and-dance routines.
Not what I'm trying to think of, but it sounds cool.
7. Beetlejuice (1988)... recently dead couple Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis wind up haunting their old house... Davis and Baldwin have to acclimate via a handbook titled Handbook For The Recently Deceased, and because they’re held in place by an apathetic, overworked, hostile bureaucracy full of people whose bodies clearly and comically display the marks of their ugly deaths.
Excellent. I've seen this one many times. But it's not the one I'm trying to remember. Perhaps I'm thinking of an old "Twilight Zone."
8. The Rapture (1991)... Michael Tolkin’s oddball meditation on apocalypticism. After Mimi Rogers, suffering in the desert waiting for the second coming, performs a mercy killing on her daughter, she winds up on a featureless, vaguely otherworldly plain.
I remember Siskel and Ebert raving over this one back then.
9. Carousel (1956)... starts off with Gordon MacRae already dead and reaping his eternal reward, as part of a crew hanging up glittering stars in a space that might represent the sky, but which more resembles the auditorium in a particularly well-funded high school during a “Starlight Express”-themed prom.
That's not it.
10. Flatliners (1990).... the afterlife is a terrific place, full of Elysian fields or giant naked boobs, depending on the proclivities of the people who go there.
Fine-tune your fantasies, people, before it's too late. Make sure it's something you won't find tedious after a billion years.
11. What Dreams May Come (1998)... heaven ... has kindly guides to help newcomers adapt and understand the next phase of their existences, and it even adapts itself to its inhabitants' personal interests and tastes....
This was an early CGI film that was enough to make me never want to see another CGI film. And I only saw the trailer for it.
12. Don't Tempt Me (2001)... Heaven is a deserted, black-and-white version of vintage Paris where everyone speaks French, and a deserving soul like Victoria Abril gets her own private ’30s nightclub where hundreds of illusory patrons hang on every note she sings and beg for more...
In the audience, perhaps, Denny Doherty, Frankie Lane, Ike Turner, and Luciano Pavarotti.

December 28, 2007

Bloggingheads! The Forgotten Carrots Edition!

It's me and Stephen Kaus.

Covering the Bhutto assassination: NBC drops the ball (08:47)
Would a second Clinton presidency offend Jefferson’s ghost? (07:09)
Hillary’s secrecy about her First Lady days (08:36)
Prosecuting steroid use in baseball (10:42)
Ron Paul’s many weird ideas (11:16)
Ann schools Steve in the art of blogging (09:20)

You'll cry. You'll laugh.

The Death and Life of Ice Cream:

(I love the comments over there: "dude.. i would of ate that.")

"When a fly lands on a ceiling, does it execute a barrel roll or an inside loop?"

Questions The Explainer never answered.

"We terminated the most precious American asset which vowed to defeat [the] mujahadeen."

Al Qaeda claims credit for the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.

ADDED: "It was a spectacular job. They were very brave boys who killed her," said one militant leader. But note, it wasn't the bullets that killed Butto: "Bhutto was killed when she tried to duck back into the vehicle, and the shock waves from the blast knocked her head into a lever attached to the sunroof, fracturing her skull."

"Bhutto was fearless."

David Ignatius on Benazir Bhutto:
I remember encountering her once when she was a graduate student at Oxford, shaking up the august and occasionally somnolent Oxford Union debating society as its president. She was wearing a Rolling Stones T-shirt, the one with the sassy tongue sticking out, and I recall thinking that Pakistani politics would never be the same once she returned home, and I recall thinking that Pakistani politics would never be the same once she returned home.
Christopher Hitchens:
I found out firsthand how brave she was. Taking the wheel of a jeep and scorning all bodyguards, she set off with me on a hair-raising tour of the Karachi slums. Every now and then, she would get out, climb on the roof of the jeep with a bullhorn, and harangue the mob that pressed in close enough to turn the vehicle over. On the following day, her Pakistan Peoples Party won in a landslide, making her, at the age of 35, the first woman to be elected the leader of a Muslim country....

And, right to the end, she carried on without the fetish of "security" and with lofty disregard for her own safety.

How dare you talk about Hillary's voice for an entire minute!

Greg Sergent is disgusted that a minute was spent analyzing a campaign ad on "Hardball" last night. The commentators found it notable that the ad excluded Hillary's voice, which they speculated people are tired of hearing.

Sergent makes the don't-you-have-anything-better-to-do argument that I think needs to be recognized as nonsubstantive and trite. To Sergent's credit, he admits at the top of his post that it's a cheap shot and he's desperate. Anyway, start noticing this argument, and you'll see it's used all the time and get annoyed — as I am — by how desperate it is. It's really no different from saying I hate what you're saying or shut up, but it has this moral edge to it, as if you're neglecting some pressing obligations. The really rude way to put it is: Get a life. That is, you are not even a member of the human race if you are paying attention to this. You do not exist.

And let me add that it is worth analyzing the campaign commercials — even on the day Benazir Bhutto died.

"The 10 Most Anti-Christian Movies of All Time."

From New York Magazine. Don't miss the film clip at #1, which is "Uh, NSFW, unless you work in Hell."

(Via Feiler Faster.)

Great unknown musicians.

The 10 best of the year.
No They Do is the all-robot musical collective led by musicologist and "future's Alan Lomax," XJ3. Its album is the soundtrack of the inevitable future, in which robots destroy the human race, discover acoustic guitars and play robot folk music.

And that's just #10.

December 27, 2007

"We welcome and accept Will Smith's statement that Hitler was a 'vicious killer.'"


What various law types read in 2007.

Collected at Legal Times — including an entry by me.

ADDED: You have to register to read it, so let me copy what I wrote:
My favorite reading experience this year was walking around New York City and listening to the audio version of Eric Clapton’s autobiography [Clapton: The Autobiography] and then going directly into the audiobook of Alan Greenspan’s autobiography [The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World].

I loved the Clapton-Greenspan segue. Like Clapton, Greenspan found his first grounding in life in music. Clapton, the better musician, proceeded into the creative, destructive, disordered life of sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll. Greenspan got far enough down the musical path to play alongside Stan Getz, but he packed up his clarinet and moved into a brilliantly orderly life observing the creative destruction of capitalism. Now, as I continue to walk the streets of the city, the street corners keep reminding me of rock ’n’ roll, economics, and the delightful company of Eric and Alan.

Why does Naomi Wolf regret working for Al Gore?

Was it because her advice that he wear "earth tones" and establish that he is an "Alpha Male" brought him and her ridicule that continues to this day? No! It's that she took money to work for the Gore campaign. And it's a "big mistake for any writer" to take money from a candidate:
[B]ecause you can't then say whatever you want to say whenever you want to say it. That was the great luxury of being a freelance writer and beholden to nobody--which I had been, up until then.

Writers have to be free to criticize anybody and criticize the powers that be and to always be transparent with their readers. So since I was formally signed up with the campaign rather than volunteering as I had in '96
The problem with "earth tones" and "Alpha Male" wasn't that her advice was silly or embarrassing, it's that "the evil Republican National Committee... completely invented " it, and she "wasn't in a position, contractually, to hit back."
So it was very frustrating, when I'm used to being able to speak up, to not have a voice when the Bush Team was doing such a brilliant job of what we have subsequently learned is their specialty: creating imaginative lies and saturating the media with them.
This is from a Huffington Post series called "My Favorite Mistake," which I think is supposed to be about your own mistake (and how much you learned from it). Obviously, there is an immense temptation to identify something good you tried to do and to use the occasion to condemn your nemesis. Wolf succumbed.

My mistake was being so naive about how profoundly evil my enemy is.

"David Gregory Does Battle With Talking-Point Dispensing Robot."

Writes David Linkin (linked by Stephen Kaus). He's talking about Hillary Clinton in a maddening exchange with David Gregory. What struck me is this. She starts by deflecting Gregory's characterization of the way her campaign has treated Barack Obama. She calls it "inaccurate," and when Gregory asks what was unfair about it, she says, "I'm going to let voters decide that, not the press." Get it? Not the press. Then, referring to her status as "a proven leader," she says, "That's what The Des Moines Register said...." In other words, the press. She then proceeds to answer every probing question with the Des Moines Register:
... Well, I would ask people to read the Des Moines Register editorial....

... You know, [Bill Clinton] not only said that, but the Des Moines Register editorial implied that....

I'm very happy that I have -- I have strong supporters and I have editorial support....
I know listening to George Bush for the last 8 years has been trying, but are you prepared to listen to this for the next 4 — maybe 8 — years?

Shame on NBC News.

At 7:26 this morning, Central Time, I received a "breaking news" email from CNN, saying "Ex-Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has died, according to media reports." After quickly putting up a post, I thought the best way to see the unfolding news would be television. To my surprise, the 3 network news shows were not covering the story. All were either running commercials or doing the usual morning show material about your family's health or some American crime scene. I shifted to CNN and Fox News. Fox had Greta Van Susteren reminiscing about the time she spoke to Benazir Bhutto, so only CNN was seriously covering the story.

After a while, I went back to see if the network shows had caught up, and only ABC had. Most shocking was the "Today Show," which I set to record on my TiVo and filmed — crudely, sorry — to show you how appalling it was:

As you can see, Matt Lauer and Ann Curry are horsing around on the street, Matt introduces the news reader, and she proceeds to tell us that Benazir Bhutto has been wounded.

The next story is about a murder investigation in Washington, followed by the tiger escape in San Francisco, a pit bull mauling, and then — replete with photos of shoppers riding escalators — the way some people go to the store after Christmas.

It goes on. There's Willard Scott with the weather. There's a festive weather map of America dotted with snowflakes and Mr. Sun wearing sunglasses. Local weather. I stop the video at this point, but the embarrassment continues.

They go to commercial and return with a long story about colds and herbal tea. A long commercial break follows, and then we see Matt Lauer, sitting in front of a silver-wrapped package and silver balls, warmly sympathizing with us about the travails of celebrating New Year's. He's got a lovely lady in a low-cut top next to him on the sofa and, on the coffee table, there's a line-up of champagne flutes filled with champagne and other champagne-like drinks. Now, it's a pre-recorded segment on "all things bubbly." Back to Matt: Can he tell the difference between $5 sparkling wine from a can and $100-a-bottle Dom Perignon? That's got to be a more important question than whether Benazir Bhutto has died and what might happen in Pakistan. It is now 8:26 Central Time — an hour after the CNN email. Matt takes the taste test and guesses. The lady (Jenna Wolfe) giggles and says "Now, I don't remember which one I gave him." So they can't even get the idiotic champagne tasting right! Matt acts like it's just really funny.

Commercials. Local weather again. Commercial. Video of a cheerleader getting knocked down by football players. It's just one of many video clips that "caught our attention this year," we're told by a pretty woman sitting on the sofa, flanked by two pretty women and — over to the left — Willard Scott. Now, it's back to the story of the girl who survived the plane crash. The women murmur and coo mindlessly — "ooh," "mmm," "heartbreaking." And — you know what? — there is a coach who has helped his team overcome adversity. They chatter about what to do for New Year's. Why not cook something with your kids? They have some recipes for you. Willard says he likes to be with the family on New Year's Eve — "make cookies, drink cocoa." More weather from Willard. More local weather. Commercials. Plane crash survivor. Commercials. That coach who helped the team. Commercials. Those recipes. Commercials. Local news (about the weather). Commercials.

Finally, it's the top of the hour, 9:00 Central Time, and we see a picture of Benazir Bhutto, with the dates 1953-2007. Matt Lauer and Ann Curry are on the sofa, and Matt says he's back now with more. "In just a moment, we're going to have the latest on the suicide bombing today in Pakistan that killed former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. We're going to have a report on that in just a couple of minutes." And also more on that tiger attack. And that plane crash survivor. It's "nothing short of miraculous."

What an embarrassment!

Benazir Bhutto has died.

Terrible news.
Pakistan former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has died after a suicide attack, according to media reports.

Geo TV quoted her husband saying the politician had died following a bullet wound in the neck....

The attacker is said to have detonated a bomb as he tried to enter the rally where thousands of people gathered to hear Bhutto speak, police said....

Earlier, a spokesman for Bhutto told CNN she was safe and taken away from the scene.

Trees, snow, moon — at 7:26 a.m.

Moon, snow, trees — 7:26 a.m.

December 26, 2007

Nothing subliminal here.

(Via Bloggingheads.)

"If you want to find out if someone's really a libertarian, ask him: Do you think children should be allowed to buy heroin from vending machines?"

"A real libertarian will answer: Only if the vending machines are privately owned."

James Taranto retells an old joke (and then lambastes Ron Paul).

"WaPo writer Keith Richburg's journalistic hand-job" on Al Sharpton.

TNR's Dayo Olopade graphically expresses displeasure at WaPo journalism.


I've been looking back over my 2007 archive and putting together some year-end posts as I've done in the past, and I ran across this reference to a crazy Bloggingheads snafu that made me laugh a lot back in February. But I couldn't embed the video back then, and I can now, so let me show it to you. It's Jonathan Chait and Jonah Goldberg, and neither knows that Chait's camera is going into demo mode:

Vlogging the alternative radio studio.

I'm passing the time, waiting for the show — described here — to go on:

You should be able to listen to the show here ("A Public Affair," today, at noon.)

A tiger escaped from its enclosure and roamed around the San Francisco Zoo preying on human beings.

Astounding. Imagine going to the zoo — on Christmas — and encountering a free-ranging Siberian tiger. Three men were severely mauled, and one has died.
The zoo's director of animal care and conservation, Robert Jenkins, could not explain how Tatiana escaped. The tiger's enclosure is surrounded by a 15-foot-wide moat and 20-foot-high walls, and the approximately 300-pound female did not leave through an open door, he said.

"There was no way out through the door," Jenkins said. "The animal appears to have climbed or otherwise leaped out of the enclosure."
Let me quote — as I did when a 300-pound gorilla escaped from his enclosure — these lines from The Life of Pi:
[Zoo] animals do not escape to somewhere but from something. Something within their territory has frightened them ... and set off a flight reaction. The animal flees, or tries to. I was surprised to read at the Toronto Zoo ... that leopards can jump up to eighteen feet straight up. Our leopard enclosure in Pondicherry was sixteen feet high at the back. I surmise that Rosie and Copycat never jumped out was not because of constitutional weekness but simply because they had no reason to. Animals that escape go from the known to the unknown--and if there is one thing an animal hates above all else, it is the unknown.
This may be so, and then the question is not why Tatiani was able to escape, but why she wanted to and why so many other zoo animals do not.

The hangdog photo is bad, but "[w]hen the news is about your son actually hanging a dog...."

Great laugh line shoehorned into a WaPo article on bad photographs of candidates.

But let's read the article, which displays that terrible photograph of Hillary Clinton — we talked about back here — and talks about the various candidates:
In the partisan media (much of the blogosphere, the tabloids and several cable channels), these images are used freely and gleefully. In media that strive for objectivity, the hangdog shot raises difficult issues. In an earlier age of newspapering, sorting through the archives for an image that confirmed your headline was acceptable practice. Today, serious newspapers try to use images from the most recent campaign events rather than something a few months old, even if it fits the story line better....

And yet, the hangdog image is almost irresistible. All the hard-edged questioning in the world, all the grilling at news conferences and televised debates may fail to knock the candidate off message. But a single image of a sad, powerless, depressed politician is enough to break through the kabuki makeup and get at the Shakespearean psychic meltdown that is supposedly just underneath the surface.
Supposedly? We love to stare at the photographs that reveal the humanity of distant celebrities, but are these just as illusory as the smiling masks they try to wear all the time? The point is that there are so many images out there, that the choice of photograph is the real expression, and that belongs to whoever is displaying the photograph.

How to make patients think of the nurse as a doctor?

Have the nursing program give doctorate degrees and start calling the nurses "doctor"?
[O]pponents... say a plethora of professional doctorates will confuse patients and cheapen the prestige of academic doctorates, or Ph.D.s. Universities should not be forced to dole out doctorates to students doing master's level work, as is happening with nursing...
I agree with the opponents. A master's degree is not a doctorate. And I include the J.D. degree and note that no one goes around calling lawyers "doctor." Sometimes I get letters addressing me as "Dr. Althouse," and I invariably regard it as a mistake.

What was Hillary Clinton's experience as First Lady that might qualify her for the Presidency?

Patrick Healy writes an important piece in the NYT, and I urge you to read the whole thing. The first few paragraphs stress that Hillary Clinton did not have a security clearance, attend National Security Council meetings, receive a copy of the president’s daily intelligence briefing, or "assert herself" on various crises.

But read on. Healy interviewed Mrs. Clinton and various others, and I think an impressive picture of her experience emerges at some point. I am, as I've said many times here, averse to the idea that the position of First Lady is a springboard to the Presidency, but I could feel myself softening as I read this:
Friends of Mrs. Clinton say that she acted as adviser, analyst, devil’s advocate, problem-solver and gut check for her husband, and that she has an intuitive sense of how brutal the job can be. What is clear, she and others say, is that Mr. Clinton often consulted her, and that Mrs. Clinton gained experience that Mr. Obama, John Edwards and every other candidate lack — indeed, that most incoming presidents did not have.

“In the end, she was the last court of appeal for him when he was making a decision,” said Mickey Kantor, a close Clinton friend who served as trade representative and commerce secretary. “I would be surprised if there was any major decision he made that she didn’t weigh in on.“In the end, she was the last court of appeal for him when he was making a decision,” said Mickey Kantor, a close Clinton friend who served as trade representative and commerce secretary. “I would be surprised if there was any major decision he made that she didn’t weigh in on.”...

Mrs. Clinton said in the interview that she was careful not to overstep her bounds on national security, relying instead on informal access....

She said she did not attend National Security Council meetings, nor did she have a security clearance — though she was briefed on classified intelligence before going on some important diplomatic trips.

“I don’t recall attending anything formal like the National Security Council,” she said, “because I had direct access to all of the principals. I spent a lot of time with the national security adviser, the secretary of state, other officials on the security team for the president. I thought that was both more appropriate, but also more efficient.”

Mrs. Clinton declined to say if she ever read the President’s Daily Brief, a rundown of the latest intelligence and threats to national security provided to the president each day. “I would put that in the category of I-never-talk-about-what-I-talk-to-my-husband-about,” she said. But she indicated, and other administration officials confirmed, that Mr. Clinton would sometimes talk to her about contents of the briefing.

“Let me say generally, I’m very aware of and familiar with what the P.D.B.’s actually are, how they work, what they include,” she said. “And it wasn’t always through the Clinton administration — when I went to Bosnia, for example, I had a full briefing from the military commanders there about what the situation was like.”
Hillary Clinton is in a very strange position where if she claims too much experience, she confesses to overstepping limits. She didn't have a security clearance or the official role of co-President, but you get the sense that, at the time, she behaved as though she did. Of course, now, she's compelled to deny it, but she also wants to let us know that it's true. Yes, I know: how Clintonesque. And yet, I'm inclined to accept the experience argument now. What next? Grill her about those decisions during the Clinton years!
Mrs. Clinton said she was “only tangentially involved” in Mr. Clinton’s first major overseas test, whether to send American soldiers after the Somali warlord Mohammed Farah Aidid and his forces, a raid that ended in 18 American deaths. Asked if she had pressed for an invasion, she said she had acted “more as a sounding board” for Mr. Clinton....

Asked about her role in Somalia and Haiti, [former Secretary of State Warren] Christopher said in an interview, “She wasn’t at any of the meetings in the Oval Office or cabinet room, and didn’t take any formal role that I saw.”
Spare me the "formal role"/"tangentially involved" niceties, and hold her to account. Make her defend Bill Clinton's decisions or tell us exactly what she thinks he did wrong. And don't let her dodge around by playing on our feelings about the marital relationship.

Christmas decorations, the Freedom from Religion Foundation, and a radio alert.

I'll be on WORT radio today at noon Central Time, talking about Christmas decorations and the Constitution with Annie Laurie Gaylor of the Freedom from Religion Foundation. (She's a co-president of the organization, which is based in Madison.)

You have to be in a 50 mile radius of Madison to listen on the radio (at 89.9 FM), but you can listen on line here. We'll be in the studio and taking questions by phone. At (608)-256-2001 or (toll free) at (866) 899-WORT. After the show, go to the archive to listen.

If you want to bone up on the law beforehand, read Lynch v. Donnelly — the case where a creche was held constitutional — and County of Allegheny v. ACLU — the case where the creche was not constitutional (but a Christmas + menorah was). For extra credit, read Capitol Square Review Bd. v. Pinette — which held that Ohio violated the KKK's free speech rights by not letting it put up a cross on the statehouse square. There are also the two cases about Ten Commandments displays that were decided on the same day in 2005 Van Orden v. Perry (constitutional) and McCreary County v. ACLU (unconstitutional).

The Freedom from Religion Foundation just filed suit against mayor and City Council president of Green Bay, Wisconsin, over a creche outside city hall:
Mayor [Jim] Schmitt says Christmas is a nationally-recognized holiday, and city leaders have every right to adorn city hall with Christmas flair.

"I'm saddened by what has all transpired here. I'm saddened by the lawsuit, by some of the divisiveness it's caused, but it's Christmas and I'm going to celebrate it," Schmitt said....

"They're sending a message of endorsement of christianity over other religions and they're sending a message of exclusion to everybody else," said Annie Laurie Gaylor....

"In my opinion, it was a very expensive for taxpayers publicity stunt by a right-wing politician," Gaylor said.
Expensive? The expense is the litigation.

Here's an opinion piece by Dan Barker (who is the foundation's other co-president):
[S]ome of us do find the anti-humanistic nativity scene offensive since it assumes we are all sinners in need of salvation and slaves who need to humbly bow to a dictator — in a country that is supposedly proudly rebellious, having fought a Revolutionary War to expel the king, sovereign and lord.
And here's my 2004 post about the Christmas decorations in the Wisconsin Capitol building, including a photograph of a sign the state allowed the Freedom from Religion Foundation to display, which tells us "Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens the heart and enslaves the mind."

ADDED: Here's some background on the Green Bay creche. Don't miss the time line:
Wednesday, Dec. 12 – Schmitt is bombarded with e-mails, phone calls and criticism and praise for the display. He says the city likely will have to honor all requests for display space until the City Council can draw up guidelines and limits.

Thursday, Dec. 13 – City receives six formal requests to display symbols on the roof.

Friday, Dec. 15 – Practitioners of Wicca, a religion associated with witchcraft, drop off a wreath containing a pentacle, a five-pointed star used as a Wiccan symbol for the elements of nature. The wreath is installed on the entrance roof.

Saturday, Dec. 16 – City receives a request to display a plain aluminum pole, said to be a symbol of Festivus, a religion promoted by the TV show "Seinfeld."

Monday, shortly after midnight – Police receive a report someone removed the Wiccan display. Schmitt announces no displays other than the nativity scene will go on the roof until the City Council meets and decides a policy....
Ironically, trying to make the public recognition of Christmas more serious ends up making it more of a joke. There is a symbiotic relationship between litigious atheists and pandering politicians. They serve each other's interests, but does anyone else benefit?

ADDED: I corrected mischaracterization of the creche in Lynch.

UPDATE: Gaylor ended up phoning in and only making herself available for 5 minutes. She had her points ready and reeled them out on cue. But when she took at gratuitous swipe at George Bush for closing the federal government on the day before Christmas, and I disrupted the presentation by asking if she thought the Christmas holiday violated the Establishment Clause. She refused to answer and rushed off the phone. I got the impression that she was unnerved at the idea of going off script and exposing her ideas to scrutiny. I noticed that she continually asserted that the Establishment Clause law is very clear — which is laughably wrong and therefore best to done as a monologue or when — excuse the expression — preaching to the choir.

December 25, 2007

The Christmas cat.



(No, I didn't get a cat for Christmas. I'm not allowed to own pets. That cat just found a warm spot on my car.)

Merry Christmas.

I hope you have a happy Christmas, if you're celebrating Christmas. Is anyone here not celebrating Christmas today? If so, is it because you never celebrate Christmas or is this year different for some reason? Are you experiencing Christmas woes? For Christmas solace, congregate here.


December 24, 2007

"I know it's the holidays but we hope people use some common sense when traveling."

Did the weather wreck your Christmas plans?
Highways remained slippery for some holiday travelers Monday in the upper Midwest in the aftermath of a blustery snowstorm that blacked out thousands of homes and businesses and snarled air travel....

Early Monday, Sgt. Tim Elve of the Dane County Sheriff's Office said: "The roads aren't quite as ice-covered but we're still telling people not to drive unless they have to. The interstate is still slick and the rural roads are really bad."

Authorities had issued urgent pleas for travelers to stay home Sunday but officials worried that people would insist on driving Monday, regardless of the weather, to get to Christmas Eve destinations.

What are you doing to save Christmas?

IN THE COMMENTS: All I'm getting is people bragging about how good the weather is where they are. No one want to talk about the bad things that happened? Well, I know I don't. But I was trying to send out a subtle signal of empathy.

It's Christmas Eve, and thus far the posts aren't looking too Christmasy."

So let's go back to the previously blogged Christmas Eves and republish the most Christmasy one from each year.

First Encounter with Santa Claus.

Here I am, the skeptical one in the center. I'm almost 3, and the year is 1953. My sister Dell is enjoying the moment, while I'm suspicious about that beard and the lack of convincing attachment around the mouth.

Blue Christmas.

The view from my window, tonight at nightfall:

Christmas Eve

It seems that every year, there's something that gets us started singing "Blue Christmas." Like last year, it was another photograph: here.
Now we're listening to various versions of "Blue Christmas" -- first Elvis (the best), then Ringo, then the Beach Boys (the second best), Jon Bon Jovi, Vince Gill, Willie Nelson (nicely zippy), Fats Domino, Low, Leon Redbone, the Platters, Chris Isaak, Dean Martin, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Harry Connick Jr., Sheryl Crow (the worst!), Booker T. & the MGs, John Holt (reggae does not fit this song), Tammy Wynette... I note that most artists try to sing the song like Elvis -- it's pretty much homage to Elvis for Ringo, Bon Jovi, and many others. Too many people make a big point of slowing the song way down (which is, apparently, a way of life for Low). Ah, now we're back to Elvis, with a different version, from the 1968 TV special. The greatness of Elvis really came through in that little exercise.

You'll be doin' all right, with your Christmas of white/But I'll have a blue, blue Christmas.

Christmas Eve.

It's the third Christmas Eve for this blog, and I was just looking back to see what I did last year for the occasion, and I see that I looked back to the previous year and saw that I decided to repeat this photo I put up the first time I blogged Christmas Eve:

There, now, it's definitely a tradition.

Which child is me? The more skeptical one.

ADDED: And remember Palladian's version:

Now, my echo has acquired an echo.

"What we do is try to inject a brief moment of wonder that helps wake them up from that rushed stupor. That’s the true holiday spirit, isn’t it?"

Shopdropping = planting some item of yours in with a store's merchandise.
Anti-consumerist artists slip replica products packaged with political messages onto shelves while religious proselytizers insert pamphlets between the pages of gay-and-lesbian readings at book stores.

Self-published authors sneak their works into the “new releases” section, while personal trainers put their business cards into weight-loss books, and aspiring professional photographers make homemade cards — their Web site address included, of course — and covertly plant them into stationery-store racks.
Does it amuse you? Do you admire the shopdroppers? Or are they more like vandals?
This week an arts group in Oakland, the Center for Tactical Magic, began shopdropping neatly folded stacks of homemade T-shirts into Wal-Mart and Target stores in the San Francisco Bay Area. The shirts feature radical images and slogans like one with the faces of Karl Marx, Che Guevara and Mikhail Bakunin, a Russian anarchist. It says, “Peace on Earth. After we overthrow capitalism.”

What's the bloggiest sentence ever written?

Can you come up with anything to beat this?
Well, someone else read that post and used Google Reader's new "share" function to flag it and then I read the post and though I already knew waterboarding was torture, I'd never heard of the Aquatic Ape hypothesis before so I've been looking into that (it seems that most scientists reject it for what sound to me like good reasons) ... all in all an excellent way to waste some time while semi-watching the Giants play the Bills.
Blogging is doing something to our minds....

Masculine conundrum.

Is this a manly leg?

(Via Wired, via Andrew Sullivan.)

Originally, I wrote: Is this a manly arm? — a mistake that I caught by clicking to this and that goes part of the way toward answering my question.

I think that boy is going to spend a lot of time alone with that leg.

And quite aside from the crazy idiocy of a man giving silicone implants to his tattoo of a lady, that's an incredibly badly-drawn tattoo. For a while, I was looking at it and wondering why the artist made the woman so fat, and then I realized that was her right arm. And look at the left hand. It's anatomically all wrong. Well, what's the point in nit-picking, really, when you're dealing with an aesthetic blunder of this dimension? And I don't even want to talk about the effect of the man's leg hair on the woman's groin.

ADDED: Here's the theme song for that tattoo.

"It's apparently endorsement season in the blogosphere."

Writes Dan Drezner, reflecting on Andrew Sullivan's endorsement of Ron Paul. (Note: For the Republican nomination. Sullivan endorsed Barack Obama on the Democratic side, so... do the math.)

Do you want your bloggers endorsing candidates? Perhaps some, but not all. I don't see myself as the candidate-endorsing sort of blogger.

December 23, 2007

Let's take a closer look at Ron Paul.

Here's the transcript of Ron Paul on "Meet the Press" today. He stimulates our thoughts, and he adds important dimension to the debate, so I can see why a lot of people love to encourage him. But let's focus:
TIM RUSSERT: ... [T]his is what you have been saying on the campaign stump, "I'd like to get rid of the IRS. I want to get rid of the income tax." Abolish it.... What would happen to all those lost revenues? How would we fund our government?...

REP. PAUL: .... You need the income tax to police the world and run the welfare state. I want a constitutional-size government.... To operate our total foreign policy, when you add up everything, there's been a good study on this, it's nearly a trillion dollars a year. So I would think if you brought our troops home, you could save hundreds of billions of dollars....

MR. RUSSERT: It's 572,000. And you'd bring them all home?

REP. PAUL: As quickly as possible. We--they will not serve our interests to be overseas. They get us into trouble. And we can defend this country without troops in Germany, troops in Japan. How do they help our national defense? Doesn't make any sense to me. ...

MR. RUSSERT: Would you cut off all foreign aid to Israel?

REP. PAUL: Absolutely. But remember, the Arabs would get cut off, too, and the Arabs get three times as much aid altogether than Israel. But why, why make Israel so dependent?...

MR. RUSSERT: So under your doctrine, if we had--did not have troops in the Middle East, [al Qaeda] would leave us alone.

REP. PAUL: Not, not immediately, because they'd have to believe us....

MR. RUSSERT: Do you think there's an ideological struggle that Islamic fascists want to take over the world?

REP. PAUL: Oh, I think some, just like the West is wanting to do that all the time...

MR. RUSSERT: You would vote against the Civil Rights Act [of 1964] if, if it was today?

REP. PAUL: If it were written the same way, where the federal government's taken over property--has nothing to do with race relations....

MR. RUSSERT: I was intrigued by your comments about Abe Lincoln. "According to Paul, Abe Lincoln should never have gone to war; there were better ways of getting rid of slavery."

REP. PAUL: Absolutely. Six hundred thousand Americans died in a senseless civil war. No, he shouldn't have gone, gone to war. He did this just to enhance and get rid of the original intent of the republic. I mean, it was the--that iron, iron fist...

MR. RUSSERT: So you think we're close to fascism?

REP. PAUL: I think we're approaching it very close....
Ron Paul supporters: Are you serious?

Let me read Andrew Sullivan's endorsement of Paul:
For me, it comes down to two men, Ron Paul and John McCain. That may sound strange, because in many ways they are polar opposites: the champion of the surge and the non-interventionist against the Iraq war; the occasional meddling boss of Washington and the live-and-let-live libertarian from Texas. But picking a candidate is always a mix of policy and character, of pragmatism and principle...

I admire McCain in so many ways. He is the adult in the field...

Let's be clear: we have lost this war....

McCain, for all his many virtues, still doesn't get this. Paul does....

The great forgotten principles of the current Republican party are freedom and toleration. Paul's federalism, his deep suspicion of Washington power, his resistance to government spending, debt and inflation, his ability to grasp that not all human problems are soluble, least of all by government: these are principles that made me a conservative in the first place. ...

He's the real thing in a world of fakes and frauds....
So I guess Sullivan is serious, but he's serious at a level of abstraction that I think is really quite dangerous.