February 17, 2007

"I whooped and applauded as Medea Benjamin... spoke eloquently of the trauma and horror inflicted by the invasion on the women and children of Iraq."

Whooping and applause is the right reaction to stories of trauma and horror? Well, yeah, if you're Camille Paglia. She was having what she calls her "peak Web moment of recent weeks," watching some video of a Code Pink encounter with Hillary Clinton that took place 2003.

Here's the video. You can see women in pink, swaying and singing about peace. Hillary Clinton arrives and says: "You guys look like a big bunch of pink tulips." Wearing turquoise herself, Hillary stands through a mini-lecture from a woman wearing a pink tunic with a scrawled message that includes the huge, misspelled "Hilary." Hillary graciously hears out the woman and then articulates her reasons for voting for the Iraq war. There's more lecturing from a woman in the group, and Hillary tries to appease them with some criticism of President Bush and then deftly disaggregates herself from the meeting.

Paglia: "There's a priceless moment when a protester strips off her pink slip and hands it to Hillary (who had just voted for the war resolution the prior October) as a symbol of her flunking this ethical test. Hillary, who has problems when life departs from script, at first takes the gift, then yanks her hand back and loses her temper. The hapless slip is seized by a female flunky and abducted. It's a classic!"

I don't see Hillary losing her temper. She was right to subtly shrink from a photo op intended to make her look bad. It's not a "gift." It's a visual pun, and she's right not to look grateful for an insult.

And let's not forget that a slip is an item of underwear. When people come up and try to hand you underwear, it shows good instincts not to accept it.

"An Awkward Plea."

Don't forget to read my column in the NYT about Justice Kennedy wrangling with the Senate Judiciary Committee. My conclusion:
Low judicial pay should trouble us not because the judges will somehow lack “excellence.” It should trouble us because the law will be articulated by ideologues and recluses.
This is the first of five columns, so look for me on Saturdays and Tuesdays.

What's the difference between living in a trailer...

... and this?

One answer: People in a trailer don't say: "It feels acutely more sheltering to be in a tiny house rather than a big one... Looking out at the vastness of the environment heightens your sense of containment.”

"You can do legal scholarship as performance art, like Ann."

Jack Balkin said that at the conference, making an impressive play for a spot in the banner... and winning it! He was talking about the different ways of doing law blogs:
"You can do legal scholarship as performance art, like Ann. I sometimes regard what she does as a kind of art. She's performing in a certain way. It's aesthetic and there's a certain high style to it."
(Here's Jack's blog.)

Liberals ideate furiously over the black-and-white McCain website.

John McCain has an aesthetically pleasing website, which is distinguished by the very low color level. Instead of the usual florid blue and red, it uses elegant, crisp black, white, and gray. Perhaps that calls to mind some beautifully photographed black and white movie. Bring on the liberal commentators, and what movie do they think of? Of course, it's "Triumph of the Will," which, admittedly, is a film known for its crisp black and white photography (to go along with its Nazi propaganda).

Here's Atrios:
Imperial Stormtrooper Chic
And here's Ezra Klein:
But to get the full flavor of the terrifyingly martial undercurrent, watch the video "stand up," which is currently the default clip on the front page. It looks like an over-the-top parody of fascist campaign propaganda from a movie, and sounds like Triumph of the Will. It's also worth noting that in an effort to shore up his conservative credentials in a particularly pandering and ghoulish way, the next video is simply called "Reagan Tribute," and the weird shoehorning of McCain's time as a POW into his admiration for Reagan really has to be seen to be believed. I don't know how many cults of personality one web site can foster, but props to the McCain team for trying to find out.
What bugs me the most about their reaction is not the usual conservatives-are-Nazis business, it's the thoughtless tainting of the aesthetic of black-and-white design, this eagerness to score political points, with no feeling for art.

Klein does have a point about the film clip. The music is over-the-top. Visually, I think the film -- Errol Morris? -- and the website are excellent, but the music is off-putting. It announces the intent to manipulate you emotionally. That makes it a less effective effort at manipulation, though. I don't think Leni Riefenstahl would have done something so crude.

ADDED: I've amused Kevin Drum.

NYC morning.

Yesterday was the "Writing About the Law" conference and the first deadline for the NYT column, and now, it's Saturday in New York. Time for a little blogging. I've got my tiny tray from room service, a small carafe of coffee and an orange juice, for which I signed the bill for $18 without joy or regret. I want to be in my room, I need coffee, and that's what it costs.

I'll do some NY things today, and at 5 I'm doing the meet-up with readers of this blog. (Email me if you want to be included.) I still have some notes from the conference which I'm going to use in a few posts. You'll have to wait! (Unbloggy, I know.)

I'll do a pretty substantial post on the lunch talk from John Jay Osborn (the author of "The Paper Chase"). 

For now -- because I want to get to the morning news -- let me post some photos from the dinner the night before the conference. We were in a cool basement room at the City Hall Restaurant... honoring Jethro K. Lieberman's book "The Litigious Society":


At my table, the glamorous and charming Nadine Strossen (of ACLU fame):


Also at the table, two very nice New York Law School students, John Indeck (left) and George Esposito (right):


I expect big things of these guys.

Jeremy overhears something contextless...

... hilarious ... and scary. Now, I'm thinking of things I feel I would never have done if I'd overheard that myself years ago.

A nice diagram.

It represents exactly why I chafed at a "billable hours" job... not to mention a 9 to 5 job.

More discussion (from Bradley Wright) here.

February 16, 2007

I'm a guest columnist at the NYT this month.

The first column is up. It's about Justice Kennedy's confrontation with the Senate Judiciary Committee over judicial pay and cameras in the Supreme Court. You'll need TimeSelect to read it here. Or you can go out and buy the paper.

At the "Writing About the Law" conference.

I'm watching the second panel at the conference now. My panel -- about law review writing -- is over, but you can read about it over here on Larry Solum's blog. The second panel are all people who write about law for the popular reader: Dahlia Lithwick (of Slate), Adam Cohen (NYT), Jamie Heller (WSJ), and Richard Sweren ("Law and Order").

Here's a picture of me -- arranged randomly -- with Dahlia Lithwick:

Althouse and Lithwick

I think that's Jim Lindgren's thumb. Here is the possibly dangerous and unlawful Lindgren:

Jim Lindgren

And David Lat is here too. Here he is explaining something to conference organizer Cameron Stracher:

David Lat and Cameron Stracher

Here's David's description of my panel. Hey, he gives me a quote for the banner! And here he is on the second panel.

And here's some idle chatter before the panel starts:

Althouse coffeehouse.

Keep the conversation going without me for a while.

The World Trade Center site at dawn.


This is the view from my hotel room. I'm off to a conference at New York Law School. Perhaps I can blog from there later, but my panel is up at 9:15, so it won't be for a while.

Marcotte blames sexism for her troubles.

Amanda Marcotte talks about why she had to leave the Edwards campaign. Summary: sexism!
What I ... failed to understand was how much McEwan and I would stick out. I was aware that I didn't exactly fit the image people have of bloggers who join campaigns -- the stereotype being 30-something nerdy young white men who wear khakis and obsess over crafting their Act Blue lists. I wasn't aware that not fitting the image would attract so much negative attention. In fact, I mostly saw this all as a baby step in the direction of diversity, since McEwan and I differed from the stereotype mostly by being female and by being outspoken feminists....

When you've got a mark that you're aiming to humiliate publicly, it helps if she's young and female and doesn't know her place....

One question that's hard to avoid is how much of the venom had to do with the fact that McEwan and I were young women entering into a field (Internet communications) that's viewed as almost monolithically masculine. From my vantage point, it appeared that sexism was one of the primary motivating energies behind the campaign....

Regardless of its motive, the result of the smear campaign was to send a loud, clear signal to young feminist women. It tells them that campaigning for Democratic candidates, and particularly doing so in positions that would help the candidate connect with young feminist communities like the one that thrives in the blogosphere, is a scary, risky prospect.
I think Marcotte goes way too far blaming sexism for her troubles, but there is still some truth to it. I've seen plenty of attacks on me that have the odor of sexism. I think there is a sense out there that the blogosphere belongs to the guys and the women are interlopers. Rationally, most guys will say that's not true, but I think they still have that prejudice, that instinctive reaction: Who does she think she is? Who let her in here? And I readily admit that some of what I think is my own imagination, but I've read enough things about me to believe it.

But the blogosphere is a rough place, and people use whatever tools they can grab to make their arguments and sex is a particularly useful rhetorical device. Marcotte uses it, I use it, and so do a lot of guys. It's one way to write in the blogosphere, and it's often overdone. Sometimes there really is sexism, and when you see it, it's one more thing you can write about. But if you don't write about it well -- if you overdo it, as Marcotte does here -- you're just setting up another wave of attacks.

ADDED: Dr. Helen doesn't really agree with me, but she makes points that I concede are excellent:
Sexism is what got Marcotte hired in the first place -- she and her co-blogger were hired because they were women, and Edwards as well as the bloggers mistakenly believed that because they were women, they could get away with anything. No self-respecting politician would have hired a man who talked and acted like a deranged teen who spouted off at the mouth as if he were a sexually abused borderline using the internet as a weapon against all that angered him....

As for the notion that the blogosphere is full of sexism and men just don't realize it, I think the Professor should take a real look at who some of these sexist comments are made by. I, for one, have noticed that as many sexist and nasty comments on my blog are written by females as by males....
My experience is of blogs written by men who seem to have a regular practice of selecting posts of mine to react to -- usually with almost no substance, but just rank name calling, as if they thought they could chase me out of the blogosphere by making it an intolerably rough place. I do get negative things from women, but much of this is sexist too -- in that special sexist way where women who like to call themselves feminist feel complete outrage toward women who don't tow the line and support the Democratic Party across the board. These women become most vicious when you point out feminist values that run counter to Democratic Party interests.

Anyway, Dr. Helen seems to think I'm condemning a lot more people than I am. I'm not saying everyone is sexist or all men are sexist, just that I think there's a lot of sexism on the web and I've experienced a lot of it personally. I guess, once again, I'm taking the middle position on this. Marcotte sees too much sexism, Dr. Helen too little, and I'm seeing the right amount.

CORRECTION: That's toe the line, not tow the line. It's about standing in the right spot, not pulling anything.

Gesticulating and menacing -- and getting the double entendre -- in the Supreme Court in 1824.

Putting in time in the historical archive, reading the correspondence of Supreme Court Justice Thomas Ruffin, Eric Muller ran across a letter written to the Justice in 1824 by former state attorney general named Henry Seawell, describing the oral argument in the great case of Gibbons v. Ogden:
"The council in argument begin so low, as scarcely to be heard," Seawell writes, "and gradually swell until they fairly rave; then they gently subside into a soft whisper. Their gesticulation is menacing, both to the Court and the bystanders, and an equal portion of all they say, is distributed to every part of the hall."
As Muller notes, this is not the way the lawyers do oral argument today. Hammy oratory is no longer at all acceptable.

People were different in the past, and we may forget that. But people were also the same, even in some ways where we've been assuming they were different.

Reading Gibbons v. Ogden today, we tend to titter when we get to the line "Commerce, undoubtedly, is traffic, but it is something more: it is intercourse."

Personally, when I teach Gibbons, I never read that line out loud. It sounds too ridiculous, and it's pointlessly distracting. Only once in 20 years has a student introduced the word into the discussion. We're sort of being polite, giving John Marshall credit for using a word that obviously couldn't have conveyed sexual meaning at the time.

But check out Seawell's letter:
"According to a definition given to the word 'Commerce' by the Atto. Genl. that it means 'intercourse,' I shall soon expect to learn, that our fornication laws are unconstitutional: for the favorite doctrine now is, that all the powers which Congress possesses are exclusive – and consequently the sole power of acting upon that subject is transferred to them."
He got the double entendre and thought it was cool to joke around about it in a letter to his pal the Supreme Court Justice in 1824.

We forget that people in the past were always talking about sex.

February 15, 2007


Leaving Wisconsin:

Wisconsin farmland

Arriving in Chicago:

Lake Michigan

Now, I'm waiting in the airport... with WiFi. It's not so bad. I paid extra for a nonstop flight, but it got cancelled. Snow in NYC. My connecting flight is delayed an hour, but I found an electrical outlet, and the WiFi here is only $6.95. Lunch is a Starbucks venti latte, with lots of vanilla sugar.

ADDED: I'm blogging from inside the plane. Nothing to say though. It's crowded.

AND: I'm in NYC. LaGuardia airport was insanely crowded. I made it to my 7 pm dinner and am now ensconced in my hotel with a spectacular view, but it's a view that inclines one toward sober thoughts. We overlook the World Trade Center.

Rudy's running... and talking about abortion.

On "Larry King":
[H]e declined to say whether it would bother him if the Supreme Court were to overturn the landmark decision Roe v. Wade.

“I don’t think it would hurt me or help me,” said Mr. Giuliani, who has long said he favored keeping abortion legal. “It would be a matter of states making decisions.”

He has said lately that he would appoint “strict constructionists” to the bench, a phrase taken by many conservatives — and, yesterday, by Mr. King — to mean judges who would not support the Roe decision.

“I don’t know that,” he said. “You don’t know that.”

When Mr. King asked him to define what a strict constructionist is, Mr. Giuliani said, “There are a lot of ways to explain that,” and did not elaborate.
Can Rudy walk this tightrope? I think he can. With the level of legal understanding that Giuliani obviously has, it's a very thick, stabilized tightrope. You pick great judges who follow a strong interpretive methodology, and they take their proper constitutional position in an independent branch dedicated to law. How utterly solid and responsible. If you want more than that, you're only showing that you don't understand the principles of law. Rudy can explain it again and make it even clearer that the one doing the explaining deserves to hold the power to appoint the judges. It's a very thick, stabilized tightrope.

Here they are, with laptops, salami, and crackers...

It's the bloggers! They're covering the Libby trial.
All day long during the trial, one Firedoglake blogger is on duty to beam to the Web from the courthouse media room a rough, real-time transcript of the testimony...

With a yeasty mix of commentary, invective and inside jokes, Fire-doglake [sic] has seen its audience grow steadily during the trial, reaching 200,000 visitors and requiring an additional computer server on its busiest days — like Tuesday, with the revelation that Mr. Cheney would not appear....

Even as they exploit the newest technologies, the Libby trial bloggers are a throwback to a journalistic style of decades ago, when many reporters made no pretense of political neutrality. Compared with the sober, neutral drudges of the establishment press, the bloggers are class clowns and crusaders, satirists and scolds....

In the courthouse, the old- and new-media groups have mixed warily at times. Mainstream reporters have shushed the bloggers when their sarcastic comments on the testimony drowned out the audio feed.
I haven't had the time or inclination to follow the detailed blog coverage of the Libby trial, but I really would like to read some detailed coverage of the dynamic between the professional journalists and the bloggers who get to have so much more fun and show their emotions. Is the static between the two groups manifested only in the form of repressed, repressive shushing? The real reporters can't express much of what they feel about the bloggers, who must be irritating the hell out of them, can they? It wouldn't be professional. Plus, the bloggers would blog about it!

Well, Jane Hamsher is there, and she's the producer of "Natural Born Killers," a movie about media (and murder). I'd like to see the movie about life in that little courthouse media room. No, the script needn't depict bloody mayhem. I like a nice dark satire myself. Or a documentary (if it's not too late). But a romantic comedy would do just as well. Do you want the girl or the boy to be the blogger?

That new Fox News "Daily Show"-ish thing.

Pee-yoo! It's inconceivably bad. I'm not going to take the trouble to formulate sentences about how bad it is and why it's so bad. It's just too completely bad!

If you want more, go here, here, here, and here. (Via Memeorandum.)

February 14, 2007

The Saturday blogger meet-up.

If you're in NYC at 5 p.m. this Saturday and want to get in on the meet-up with me and various regular readers of this blog -- including ace commenter Palladian -- you've got to email me to find out where it is. My email address is in the sidebar.

IN THE COMMENTS: Ace commenter Madison Man says: "Perhaps someone can take a photograph of the meeting, after everyone eats, and arrange the people, oh, randomly."

UPDATE: If you've emailed and not gotten an answer, email again.

"American Idol" -- the 24.

I'm glad Melissa Doolittle and Brendan Rogers -- the erstwhile backup singers -- made it. I'm glad Chris Sligh -- the guy who lookes like Turtle Mark Volman -- made it. Paul Kim -- the Asian guy who was irritated that when people think of an Asian guy on "American Idol," they always think of the comic contestant William Hung -- he made it. Well, 24 contestants made it. I can't tell you about all of them. My brain is numb after sitting through a pretty boring show where we watched a lot of people get into an elevator, ride in the elevator, get out of the elevator, walk a long way across the room, sit in a little chair, listen to Paula/Randy/Simon coyly dribble out the news whether they made it or not, walk back the long way across the room, get back in the elevator, ride down the elevator, get out of the elevator, etc. etc.

The Mona Lisa is "83% happy, 9% disgusted, 6% fearful and 2% angry"...

Yes, it's true. But the museum guards are 100% disgusted with looking after her.

Don't be afraid of Valentine's Day.

I'm sure you won't screw it up. You'd better not. Don't even think of calling in sick. Just go forward. You will make it through the candy-colored maze, sweetheart.

Candy hearts

Candy hearts

You know these candy hearts are exactly the same thing as Necco wafers -- once you've chewed them up. And don't agonize over whether that's a metaphor for your relationship. Just keep moving forward. It's only one day.

Candy hearts

The slow-motion non-firing continues.

The second Edwards blogger quits. (Via Memeorandum.)
I would like to make very clear that the campaign did not push me out, nor was my resignation the back-end of some arrangement made last week. This was a decision I made, with the campaign's reluctant support, because my remaining the focus of sustained ideological attacks was inevitably making me a liability to the campaign, and making me increasingly uncomfortable with my and my family's level of exposure.

I understand that there will be progressive bloggers who feel I am making the wrong decision, and I offer my sincerest apologies to them. One of the hardest parts of this decision was feeling as though I'm letting down my peers, who have been so supportive.

There will be some who clamor to claim victory for my resignation, but I caution them that in doing so, they are tacitly accepting responsibility for those who have deluged my blog and my inbox with vitriol and veiled threats. It is not right-wing bloggers, nor people like Bill Donohue or Bill O'Reilly, who prompted nor deserve credit for my resignation, no matter how much they want it, but individuals who used public criticisms of me as an excuse to unleash frightening ugliness, the likes of which anyone with a modicum of respect for responsible discourse would denounce without hesitation.
You may be tempted to say that she dished out vitriol and therefore can't complain when it comes back to her, but there's a huge difference between public discourse on a blog -- however nasty -- and sending threatening email. That is never justified. She does say "veiled threats," which suggests it may have only been harshly critical email that made her feel threatened. Still, I can understand how that can freak you out. I should think it would also be intolerable to feel that you're hurting your own candidate. Whether they tell you you have to leave or not, you have to put the facts together and see that you have to leave. You can call that your personal decision if you want, but how can you make any other decision -- whatever was in that email?

"Holland was trying to be tolerant for the sake of consensus, but the consensus was empty."

Writes Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who was the subject of a film and of a note pinned to the murdered body of the film's director, Theo Van Gogh.
“The immigrants’ culture was being preserved at the expense of their women and children and to the detriment of the immigrants’ integration into Holland.”...

Death threats have since driven Ms. Hirsi Ali to the United States....

This is a pity. As a politician, she focused Dutch minds on a subject they steadfastly ignored.
Here is her "brave, inspiring and beautifully written" memoir:

Sperm donor 150 reads in the paper that his children are looking for him.

And 15 months later, he contacts them. Why did he wait that long? The 50 year-old-man, Jeffrey Harrison, was afraid of disappointing. He hadn't made that much of his life, and yet he'd been so popular as a sperm donor:
Once one of the sperm bank’s most-requested donors, with a profile that described him as 6 foot and blue-eyed with interests in philosophy, music and drama, Mr. Harrison, 50, lives with his four dogs in a recreational vehicle near the Venice section of Los Angeles.

“I make a meager living,” Mr. Harrison said, taking care of dogs and doing other odd jobs.
A daughter's actual reaction: “He’s sort of a free spirit, and I don’t care what career he has."

It's hard to read the article without thinking whether he would have made more of his life if he'd spent all these years with his children, but there's nothing to blame him for. He donated sperm when he needed to make money, and he helped women who wanted children give birth to human beings who would not otherwise exist. He had no option to live with this family, so he is nothing like a father who estranges himself from a family. One wonders what effect it had on his mind to know there were children of his out there that he could not know (until recently). I would think most sperm donors feel vaguely good about it, but maybe it makes them feel sad and lonely sometimes, especially if they don't find their way into a family of their own.

Here's the original article he read:
For Danielle, of Seaford, N.Y., contact with her half-sibling JoEllen has helped salve her anger at what she describes as "having been lied to all my life," until three years ago when her parents told her the truth about her conception. It has also eased her frustration of knowing only the scant information about her biological father contained in the sperm bank profile - he is 6 feet tall, 163 pounds with blond hair and blue eyes. He was married, at least at the time of his donation, and has two children with his wife. He likes yoga, animals and acting.

For JoEllen, whose two mothers told her early on about her biological background, it helps just to know that Danielle, too, checks male strangers against the list of Donor 150's physical traits that she has committed to memory.
I wrote about this article at the time. Here's what I said (which I'm reading after writing the text above):
If you were a sperm donor, originally intent on remaining out of the picture, but you knew that a large group of your children had sought each other out and formed powerful love bonds, would you have a change of heart? What if there were dozens of your kids out there, and they all got together and started to see themselves as a big family, with you as an absent presence? Would it make you sad? Would it make you lonely?
It's interesting to me that the words "sad" and "lonely" came to mind for me then and now.

A great judge dies at a great age.

Tom Fairchild -- who served on the Wisconsin Supreme Court and the federal Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit -- has died at the age of 94. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1938 (when Lloyd K. Garrison was dean).

He ran for the U.S. Senate against Joseph McCarthy in 1952. I'm reading some old NYT articles from just before the election that Fairchild lost. If you have TimesSelect, try this one, from November 2, 1952. It's mostly about McCarthy. A farmer is quoted saying "Yes, I guess almost everybody in this part of the country is for McCarthy. He's against communism -- and we're against communism. Besides, if he wasn't telling the truth they 'a' hung him long ago. He's one of the greatest Americans we've ever had." There's just a line about Fairchild, calling him "[q]uiet, unassuming, reflective."

February 13, 2007

"American Idol" -- Hollywood.

"You sang through your nose! And halfway through you looked like you'd been boiled." That line of Simon's was just about the only thing that amused me tonight. While the judges told people they were boring, I was finding the show boring. It was too hard to locate the individuals I'd found interesting during the original auditions, and the editing focused on a few characters who got emotional (especially if they were interacting with their mothers) and the age-old problem of forgetting song lyrics.

Let's see what Jacob says over at Television Without Pity:
Baylie joins with BFFs Amanda and Antonella, and that's three people I don't care whether they live or die, but suffice to say Baylie and either Amanda or Antonella go home, and Amanda? You're repulsive, and also God called, and He said you're quote "kind of slutty." The reliable Gina Glocksen and her buddy lonelygirl15 (who's either Jessica Gordon or Marisa Rhodes) have a time with variably fake-Colombian Perla, who has no idea what the hell she's doing, and is the only one to go home, thankfully. Sundance looks scared and sounds bad, and SCREAMS like a JERK, but gets through. Jacob all-time favorites Chris Sligh, Blake Lewis, and Tom Lowe -- and that guy Rudy that tried to bone Ryan -- form a veritable SUPERGROUP that ruins the curve for all people. I almost cried I loved that so much: see it if you can.
Yeah, the supergroup was good! And I appreciate Jacob's intensely compressed description, which is not easy to do, especially with that much accuracy and humor. (Why were they giving Sundance a pass?)

Maybe I've watched too many of these Hollywood shows, or maybe the contestants aren't screwing up as spectacularly as in the past, or maybe it's bad to mix podcasting and "American Idol," but I didn't have too much fun watching tonight.

Audible Althouse #79.

It's a podcast about the odd last day on a blog called Althouse. What am I really trying to do here? What was that post today that meant so much to me... and why?

You can stream it right through your computer here.

But everyone with inner purity is rushing to subscribe on iTunes:
Ann Althouse - Audible Althouse

Have we stopped evolving?

The ecosystem seems to be stuck.

I'm always looking for the door.

Chuck said he's pretty much gravitating toward the blogs with pictures these days, so I better slap something up for fear of losing him:

Monster energy

And I wrote about my love of short sentences, which made Zach say:
Short sentences are effective. Just the other day, I observed that, for all the scientific talks I've been to, I can't recall a single time somebody has said "Wow, I understood everything that guy said. He must be an idiot!" But you'd be amazed how many people act as though that's not true.
And then I said:
I've been to a lot of talks where I've had to listen to long sentences and tried to stave off boredom by translating them into short sentences, the stupidity of which I could the[n] marvel at before obsessing about the door and how to get myself on the other side of it.
I'm looking at the door now and thinking I need to get to the other side of it, where it might be in the single digits or it might be 12.

But I'm catching up on the comments to that post about the Edwards bloggers who got shown or found the door, and Freder is all:
Unhinged? Do you ever stop by LGF, FreeRepublic, or Redstate? Even stating a leftwing view over at Redstate will get you banned quicker than anything.

And Malkin herself. She complains because of ant-Catholic bias, but spews anti-Islam bias all the time, wrote a book defending the internment of the Japanese and is a raging racist.
And I'm all:
Ant-Catholic bias?

"Have you ever heard of insect politics? Neither have I. Insects... don't have politics. They're very... brutal. No compassion, no compromise. We can't trust the insect. I'd like to become the first... insect politician. Y'see, I'd like to, but... I'm afraid, uh... I'm saying... I'm saying I - I'm an insect who dreamt he was a man and loved it. But now the dream is over... and the insect is awake."

I do need to get out of here. Perhaps a nice teleporter. If I've got that inner purity.

Until later, may this preserve you:


"The king of content-free reading, the Ur-blogger."

Stacy Schiff embraces Montaigne, a "disjointed, derivative" writer who is "a man for our times." There -- she notes -- are far too many books to read:
By one estimate, 27 novels are published every day in America. A new blog is created every second. We would appear to be in the midst of a full-blown epidemic of graphomania. Surely we have never read, or written, so many words a day. Yet increasingly we deal in atomized bits of information, the hors d’oeuvres of education. We read not in continuous narratives but by linkage, the movable type of the 21st century.
We proceed by linkage, indeed, but this one's a TimesSelect link, so you may not be able to go there. But there will always be some other page to flit to, as you ignore that pile of books, all those rectangular objects that made you think so highly of yourself when you handed over your credit card at Borders. Start a blog. Be like Montaigne:
Leave the book under discussion unopened before you. Then write about yourself.
But do read some little things on the web. You'll need some snacks to keep you going. Some bloggables. Here's the whole text of Montaigne's essays. Why not grab something in there and say how it makes you feel?

"As good as 'Idol' gets."

Adam at Throwing Things reminds us that this is the week to watch "American Idol" -- tonight and tomorrow. They've culled who knows how many from the auditions, and they need to do something to them now to shake out 24 contestants to move forward into the rounds where we'll be voting. (Not me, actually. I don't vote. I just blog so you can vote. Or avoid the show. Whatever you want.)

Any favorites? Adam asks. Well, of course, I'm for Denise Jackson, the one who called herself a "crack baby." She from Madison. Here's a video about her. Here's a local newspaper article about her:
"You know how you're supposed to have a childhood?" she explains. In the Chicago housing project where Denise lived off and on, "You don't really get to have that childhood."

With a mother who was largely absent and a father who vanished before her birth, Denise grew up thinking at times that her eldest sister, Nicole, was her mom.

"I think I've seen things that you shouldn't see when you're a little girl," says Denise, who moved to Madison with her grandmother at age 9....

Until she moved to Madison in 1999, Denise had never met a white or Asian person. "The part of (Chicago) I lived in, we never saw these people," she says. "You heard all these stupid things about white people, like white people are mean, they're racist.

"When I came to Madison, I found the sweetest people you would ever meet." Still, she was terrified when she learned her fifth-grade teacher would be a white woman; she'd never had a white teacher. Today she speaks affectionately of how that teacher tried to get her interested in piano lessons. "She would take me out for ice cream," says Denise.
Good luck, Denise!

(And thanks to all the great teachers in Madison.)

"I still love Ann." And here's what I love about Mitt Romney.

Short sentences!
I am happy to be in Michigan this morning. I'm happy to have my brother Scott and Sister Lynn here. And I'm proud to have all my children and grandchildren here too.

"Michigan is where Ann and I were born. It is where we met and fell in love. I still love Ann. And I still love Michigan!...

"I always imagined that I would come back to Michigan someday....

"I chose this site for a number of reasons. It's filled with cars and memories. Dad and I loved cars. Most kids read the sports box scores. Dad and I read Automotive News....

"I love America and I believe in the people of America.

"I believe in God and I believe that every person in this great country, and every person on this grand planet, is a child of God. We are all sisters and brothers.

"I believe the family is the foundation of America – and that we must fight to protect and strengthen it.

"I believe in the sanctity of human life....

"I believe in America!
He's Mitt Romney. He's running for President.

ADDED: My favorite sentence is "Dad and I loved cars."

"Anna Nicole Smith embodied America... its overabundance; its exploitability, and its propensity to exploit."

Tunku Varadarajan writes:
And to many foreigners--particularly foreign men--she embodied America in a literal way, too: in a brassy blondeness that people in repressed cultures marvel at. It is no coincidence that the places in the world where women such as Ms. Smith are the most popular are typically those with which the U.S. has the worst diplomatic relations.

For all her gaudy excesses, there is in some of us--or there ought to be--the urge to treat Ms. Smith gently. Hers is a pathetic story, of ersatz celebrity, dead children and the pursuit of money, sex, drugs, weight loss and validation-through-litigation. That this pursuit was so thoroughly unembarrassed is a comment not so much on Ms. Smith's personal aesthetics as it is on human folly, U.S.-style, taken to its logical extreme.
She is us?

Obama and the war.

Three video clips.

UPDATE: Obama apologizes:
"Well as I said, it is not at all what I intended to say, and I would absolutely apologize if any of them felt that in some ways it had diminished the enormous courage and sacrifice that they'd shown."
I mean he would apologize... if you were to misinterpret what he meant to say.

Nowadays, every politician will be defeated by exactly one word. Kerry got "stuck." Biden had "clean." Obama gets "wasted."

The candidates must lie awake at night and wonder what will be my word. In amongst all the torrents of words that flow out of me, what will be the one word that will destroy me?

"I think this is the end of Edwards's campaign. He's through!"

So said Bill O'Reilly on his TV show last night, referring to the debacle over the two lefty bloggers the Edwards campaign hired, fired, and unfired. (One of the bloggers, Amanda Marcotte, has now resigned.)

O'Reilly put the focus on Edwards: he lacks the judgment to be President, he would allow "Christian-haters" to serve in his administration, etc. There were two guests on the show, one represented Democrats (and agreed that Edwards showed poor judgment) and the other was Michelle Malkin. Malkin was given one opportunity to speak and impressively nailed her position. Man, that was crisp! (Watch the video at the first link. It's a nice lesson in how to do TV.)

I particularly liked the way Malkin helped TV viewers understand the difficult relationship Democratic candidates have with the left blogosphere. The story must look quite weird to people who don't spend time reading blogs. For them, it might seem that Edwards made an odd mistake, followed by some strange indecision. The big picture is that the Democratic candidates have to interact with and please or at least appease the raging force that is the left blogosphere. No one has yet shown that they know how to do that well.

But some folks are learning faster than others. Look at this, from Kos, noting that a top adviser to an Edwards opponent told Slate's John Dickerson: "Apparently they're more afraid of the bloggers than they are the Catholics." Kos is desperate to find out which Democrat -- Dickerson confirms that it was a Democrat -- took that shot at the lefty bloggers:
[I]t's telling that whoever offered that blind quote to Slate was clearly more afraid of the bloggers than the Catholics that his or her campaign would supposedly win over by bashing Edwards....

[I]t's hypocritical to attack the Edwards campaign for "being afraid of bloggers" when this person was obviously too afraid of bloggers to put his or her name on the quote.
Ooh, everyone's afraid of the bloggers. I mean, the Democratic candidates are afraid of the lefty bloggers. I don't think the Republican candidates are afraid of the righty bloggers. Think that's a problem?

You can really tell that Kos wants the candidates to be afraid of him. It's an interesting dynamic. There's a real paradox to this lefty blogger power. They are so powerful that they are able to hurt the Democratic candidates in all sorts of strange new ways. Meanwhile, the non-lefty bloggers will amuse themselves watching and describing it all.

Who's the extra-quick learner out there? My guess: Hillary!

February 12, 2007

Marcotte resigns from the Edwards campaign.

"The main good news is that I don’t have a conflict of interest issue anymore that was preventing me from defending myself against these baseless accusations. So it’s on. The other good news is that the blogosphere has risen as one and protested, loudly, the influence a handful of well-financed right wing shills have on the public discourse."

So now she's free and pissed.

I favor independent blogging, and I like to see things get interesting. Interesting... hot... sticky... whatever! Just not boring.

The Parable of the Gloves.

Obama has compassion on the multitude.

"The most evil and dangerous woman in West Germany," given five life sentences...

... will be released after serving only 24 years:
Brigitte Mohnhaupt, 57, qualifies for early release after serving a minimum proportion of her five life sentences.

[The Baader-Meinhof gang], also known as the Red Army Faction, were behind kidnaps and killings in West Germany....

Mohnhaupt was convicted of involvement in nine murders. Victims included a judge, a banker and the employers' federation president.
She is being released because it's been determined that she is not viewed as dangerous. She never even showed remorse.

If a bear fell from a tree in suburban New Jersey...

... would anybody hear it?

When a blogger goes to work for a candidate, she's bound to become boring.

Dan Drezner:
[A]s much as I used to care about these intersections between the blogosphere and the real world, I can't get worked up about this kind of thing anymore. Who cares about campaign bloggers? They are little more than good PR stylists.

If you don't believe me, check out this Amanda Marcotte post on Edwards' health plan -- turns out she's happy that Paul Krugman likes it. Well, blow me down!
I guess it's too bad when a good blogger gets a job like this. But bloggers are often people who need jobs and want to get into politics. It's their choice, but it is a choice to be boring.

Link via Glenn Reynolds, who observes that the key to blogging is not taking it seriously, which, if true, means that blogging for a candidate is never going to be any good. I think the key to blogging is to do it for its intrinsic value, that is, motivated by the reward of writing itself. I don't think you can do that if you're working for a candidate. You may still find your job intrinsically rewarding, but the writing itself won't be intrinsically rewarding, and therefore, it won't be good in the way I want blogging to be good.

ADDED: Stephen Bainbridge notes that Marcotte is maintaining her un-boring ways on her personal blog and wonders what Edwards thinks of that.

R is back.

My ex-husband Richard Lawrence Cohen has returned to blogging. He's shortened his name to RLC and lengthened his profile. Let's check out the movies:
Seven Samurai, Throne of Blood, Maborosi, Vertical Ray of the Sun, The Terminator, Terminator 2, Alien, Alien 2, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (70s remake), Body Snatchers, The Fly (70s remake),The Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Kiki's Delivery Service, My Neighbor Totoro, Divorce Italian Style, The 400 Blows, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, My Dinner with Andre, The Searchers, My Darling Clementine, Unforgiven, Once Upon a Time in America, It's a Gift, Horse Feathers, Duck Soup
Only two matches with the favorites in my profile. But with all that Japanese animation, where is "Grave of the Fireflies"?

For some annoying reason, he's excised his Site Meter. Well, that's no fun. Don't you know this is a game? I like to know the score!

Anyway, welcome back.

You're conservative because you're such an unsavory person quite aside from your politics, right?

Here's a little article in today's NYT about one of my favorite subjects: the way an individual's personality type determines his political affiliation.

(My interest in this subject was, you may remember, at the core of my big argument with Ron Bailey. He thought I was being unintellectual to want to consider such things, and I thought he was being shallow to exclude them.)

Anyway, what's so amusing about the article -- astutely written by Patricia Cohen -- is that the social scientists doing the research are pretty much all liberals, and as they try to figure out what sort of human psychology produces a liberal and which produces a conservative, their own psychology seems to leak all over everything.
For anyone who assumes political choices rest on a rational analysis of issues and self-interest, the notion that preference for a candidate springs from the same source as the choice of a color scheme can be disturbing. But social psychologists assume that all beliefs, including political ones, partly arise from an individual’s deep psychological fears and needs: for stability, order and belonging, or for rebellion and novelty.

These needs and worries vary in degree, develop in childhood and probably have a temperamental and a genetic component, said Arie Kruglanski of the University of Maryland....

What [John T. Jost of New York University] and Mr. Kruglanski say is that years of research show that liberals and conservatives consistently match one of two personality types. Those who enjoy bending rules and embracing new experiences tend to turn left; those who value tradition and are more cautious about change tend to end up on the right.

What’s more, these traits are reflected in musical taste, hobbies and décor. Dana R. Carney, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University, who worked with Mr. Jost and Samuel D. Gosling of the University of Texas at Austin among others, found that the offices and bedrooms of conservatives tended to be neat and contain cleaning supplies, calendars, postage stamps and sports-related posters; conservatives also tended to favor country music and documentaries. Bold-colored, cluttered rooms with art supplies, lots of books, jazz CDs and travel documents tended to belong to liberals (providing sloppy Democrats with an excuse to refuse clean up on principle).
I agree with the basic assumption about personality types -- though I think people also learn their political affiliation from their families and develop it interacting with friends and are influenced by many complex factors, including some pure reason. I also think there are more than just two personality types. For example, there are people on both the left and right who hate to be told what to do and resist authority.

The neatness/messiness thing is interesting, and I note that everything is relative. For example, my office is pretty messy. I never put anything in drawers and have often joked that for me to put something in a drawer is the equivalent of throwing it in the trash. As a result, I have piles of things everywhere, including five or six piles on the floor. Nevertheless, people are constantly exclaiming, "Wow, your office is so clean!" (Pause to add the label "Madison.")

February 11, 2007

Madison windowscape and graffiti.


Madison windowscape



Just a couple things seen in my little town as I walked from the car to this café.

The sleazy sexism that's served up...

... under the heading "moderate": here and here. Great work, guys.

"I have decided to remain unmarried because, frankly, divorce and the scrutiny that goes with it scares me."

Says a 24-year-old woman in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia:
"Over the past few years I have witnessed numerous schoolmates of mine as well as family members who have divorced young or have been mistreated by their husbands. After a girl divorces in this country people are anything but kind, and they look at her differently — as if she’s to blame, lacking what it takes to keep a husband and marriage happy. I can’t put myself through that."
A 27-year-old:
"My family and friends always try to change my mind telling me that not all men are the same, but I can’t help but hate them to the extent that I was even reluctant to have children fearing that I might have a son who might one day continue the cycle of violent abuse."
Refusal to marry is a classic tactic in the fight for women's rights. Giving women their rights should be necessary in the defense of marriage, though some people think the opposite is true.

Special problems in Saudi Arabia :
“Technology when used properly can be a positive achievement. However, nowadays many people are living their lives without observing piety,” [said Dr. Parveen Sultana, a Jeddah-based psychologist and marriage counselor.] “I feel that the country needs to get back to Islamic principles in order for the situation to change. Many men’s manipulative attitudes are another reason for the turmoil. They are Islamically permitted to marry up to four women, which they do. The problem begins when they don’t treat them with equality or work to support them, instead marrying professional women who can support them.”...

Salma, an English professor [said,] “At first I was hesitant to talk about the subject of marriage, but I indulged the students. They told me that for some it wasn’t the idea of nuptials that abhorred them [sic]. It was the thought of marrying a Saudi man that they disliked. One girl casually said that her dream is to marry a foreign man, saying that foreigners are more open-minded, romantic, and share in responsibilities as a partner. They don’t become liabilities, she told me. Saudi men tend to be unaffectionate, fickle and just plain selfish.”

"Engineering marvel" or "colossal eyesore" or scariest tourist attraction in the United States?

The Grand Canyon Skywalk is supposed to help the finances of the Hualapai Indian Tribe, but even assuming lots of people want to walk on a gigantic glass walkway incomprehensibly jutting out over the deep canyon, there are many problems with this:
[Some] in the tribe have been critical of what they say is the development's lack of sustainability, pointing out that water used here is trucked in over miles of unpaved, rutted roads, and that there is no sewer, trash, telephone or electrical service. The airport, which is expanding, operates on diesel generators....

Tribal officials admit it will be difficult to operate a full-service resort without upgrading infrastructure and finding a local source of water. Hualapai officials said last week that they were considering taking water from the Colorado River.

Pumping water up nearly a vertical mile from the river to the rim of the canyon could be fraught with financial and legal challenges. Joseph Feller, who teaches water law at Arizona State University, says no tribe has ever taken water from the Colorado without first negotiating with the federal government.
It sounds like a disaster all around.

Here in Madison, we have a building with a beautiful, dramatic, long glass stairway:

The MMoCA staircase

The glass is even frosted, so they're not encouraging you to stare down, and I know a lot of people who are afraid to walk on it.

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

More amazing feats from Barack Obama. The man went gloveless on a frigid morning. It reached 25° in Springfield, Illinois yesterday. And look at the photograph, which shows a big crowd of people reaching out toward him. Lots of hands, most gloveless.
Speaking smoothly and comfortably...
But don't say articulately!
... Mr. Obama offered a generational call to arms, portraying his campaign less as a candidacy and more as a movement. “Each and every time, a new generation has risen up and done what’s needed to be done,” he said. “Today we are called once more, and it is time for our generation to answer that call.”
I await the substance. I want to hear what he says when he metaphorically takes off the gloves:
It was the latest step in a journey rich with historic possibilities and symbolism. Thousands of people packed the town square to witness it, shivering in the single-digit frostiness until Mr. Obama appeared, trailed by his wife, Michelle, and two young daughters. (“I wasn’t too cold,” Mr. Obama said later, grinning as he acknowledged a heating device had been positioned at his feet, out of the audience’s view.)
Who knows what other devices he is using to create the impression of superhumanness people keep getting?

Anyway, Obama took the stage around 10 a.m., and the temperature there was 12°, according to the official reports. Yeah, it was 0° for you wind-chill sissies.
Mr. Obama has glided to his position in his party with a demeanor and series of eloquent...
Don't say articulate!
... speeches that have won him comparisons to the Kennedy brothers and put him in a position where his status as a black man with a chance to win the White House is only part of the excitement generated by his candidacy.

But with perhaps one major exception, his plan to disengage forces in Iraq, he has avoided offering the kind of specific ideas that his own advisers acknowledge could open him up to attack by opponents or alienate supporters initially drawn by his more thematic appeals.
So he's got one issue he's willing to talk about: Dropping our commitments in Iraq quickly. Build a believable position on national security out of that (and your shocking lack of experience with foreign affairs).
Mr. Obama went so far as to tell Democrats in Washington last week that voters were looking for a message of hope, and disparaged the notion that a presidential campaign should be built on a foundation of position papers or details.

“There are those who don’t believe in talking about hope: they say, well, we want specifics, we want details, we want white papers, we want plans,” he said then. “We’ve had a lot of plans, Democrats. What we’ve had is a shortage of hope.”
Translation: Don't you realize how dumb people are? I do.
In an interview before he left for Illinois, Mr. Obama said he realized his powerful appeal as a campaigner would take him only so far...

“If a campaign is premised on personality, then no, I don’t think you can stay fresh for a year,” he said. “But if the campaign is built from the ground up and there is a sense of ownership among people who want to see significant change, then absolutely. It can build and grow.”
So... some kind of netroots vibe will carry him beyond the pure personality thing?
“That is why this campaign can’t only be about me,” Mr. Obama said. “It must be about us. It must be about what we can do together.”
Translation: I am here to help you emotive dummies feel your way to the voting booth.

"The GOP has morphed from a party that reveres limited government to a party that is girlishly infatuated with executive authority."

Writes Steve Chapman (in the Chicago Tribune), trying to emasculate those damned Republicans who always seem more masculine than the Democrats. See, their masculinity is really feminine, because when they like a really masculine character like Rudy Giuliani, they're acting like girls (or gay guys) lusting after a macho man. I love sexual imagery in political analysis. There's also a lot of talk about Shakespeare in the linked piece. I love literary crap in political analysis too. And, if you go to the link, good luck wading through it. Let me give you a quick translation: Hey, no fair nominating such a strong candidate!

Are you, like me, always clicking on news stories about speeches given by Supreme Court justices...

... and finding that nothing interesting was said? It's so predictable. Sometimes I wonder why I have the Google Alerts I have. Actually, I have one for "Rehnquist" that has malfunctioned and become undeletable -- kind of like life tenure, but for an undying reputation.

My Google Alerts are meant to feed me bloggable nuggets. I have some that reliably turn up good material. But the ones for Supreme Court justices regularly turn up stories like this. I'm not picking on Ruth Bader Ginsburg here. But when justices go out and give speeches at law schools they say anodyne things like: "The benefits of a diverse student population are not theoretical but real."

Oh, yes, maybe Justice Scalia will say something cutting, but it will be the same cut we've heard before.

All the same, I'm not asking them to be more interesting. It's not their job to amuse me. In fact, I think they are required to be that special, judicial kind of boring.

Oh, let me be that special, blogger kind of predictable and reprint this anecdote I tell at the beginning of an article called "Late Night Confessions in the Hart and Wechsler Hotel" (47 Vand. L. Rev. 993 (1994)):
Chief Justice Rehnquist visited my law school last year to deliver a lecture entitled "The Future of Federal Courts." The University Theater filled: overdressed alumni in the front rows, respectful students in the balcony, camouflaged professors here and there. I sat in the middle and hunched over a folded-up sheet of legal paper. I scribbled notes and hoped for some insight into the tangled mass of problems I had made my life's work. Would the Chief Justice perhaps explain the Court's new habeas corpus jurisprudence? I wanted a little accounting for Butler v. McKellar, in which he had denied federal court relief to a man who faced the death penalty after a conviction based on a confession that the Court's own case law would, without question, exclude.

The Chief told some jokes, elaborated on his ties to Wisconsin, and discoursed at length about the workload of the courts. The issues were neutral, administrative, managerial, structural.

"Did he say anything provocative?" asked a colleague who had missed the speech.

"He never got any more provocative than to say he's against diversity."

My friend was shocked. "He's against diversity!?"

"Diversity jurisdiction," I said, realizing she was not a proceduralist.
Maybe in the style of an evolving Constitution, the judicial norms change -- even though they retain that sober feeling. It would have been surprising in 1993 if Rehnquist had opined on racial diversity, and now it seems utterly conventional for Ginsburg to say "The benefits of a diverse student population are not theoretical but real."