May 12, 2007

At the auto show.

Yes, there were many beautiful cars, like this 1954 Corvette:

1954 Corvette

But before we get to the cars, let's consider the people who go to look at the cars. Who are they? What do they wear? First off, one lady takes first place. Compared to her, no one else seemed even to be trying:

Lady at the auto show with a new paint job.

But there's a subtle elegance that -- to my eye -- is just as alluring:

Lady at the auto show

And yes, ladies, accessorize...

Lady with a dog named Peanuts

... perhaps with a dog named Peanuts.

So, the women were beautiful, see:

Women with a 1966 Corvette

Ah, but the car! The car!

1966 Corvette

I'm much more attracted to that.

It's a 1966 Corvette! Mosport Green -- a color that was only available in 1966. Doesn't that break your heart?

Number of photographs taken today: >300.

I had never become physically exhausted from mere photography, until today. I was just going to go down to State Street for a little shopping and latte sipping when I happened upon the classic car exhibition stretching the whole way from campus to the Capitol. This was one of the few times I was out without a camera, so I had to go back home for my cameras. I came back and spent hours photographing -- what was it? -- 50 cars from multiple angles.

Unlike the men who concentrated on the engines, I was into the chrome ornamentation, and that meant I had to keep crouching and kneeling to get the shots I wanted. I knew my legs were going to kill me later, but I knew I had to suffer for art. The exhibit proceeding chronologically, and to begin at the campus end was to enter the 1960s and work back toward about 1930. I didn't plan my time well, because I got completely absorbed in the cars of the 60s and 50s, the things I remember seeing on the streets in the old days, and by the time I got to the oldest cars, the show was over, and they were starting to drive away.

I'm writing this while the pictures download. Enough writing! Time for a little iPhoto tweaking and uploading. Visuals to come.

"I had known about Madison for years. It’s the home of The Progressive magazine..."

Robert Redford explains why he chose Madison for the first Sundance Cinema -- which is opening this weekend.
I’d been there years ago on a fund-raiser for Sen. Feingold, and I had known about Madison for years. It’s the home of The Progressive magazine, and there were just a whole lot of connections with my interests. So I said to the two guys that are working for me on this, “If we could get into Madison, I would be a happy camper. That would be a great place to start, and maybe San Francisco after that.”
For our politics, we are rewarded with art. Does that mean the films will have a political slant?
We want to work with the local people and use the local elements environmentally, like the local timber, the local stone and recycled elements. We want to create a sense of place, and each place will be different. Madison is Madison, and Madison has certain characteristics that are part of its heritage. We want to honor that.
Okaaay. Environmental. That's nice. And the films?
Is there still the entertainment value so it’s not too much like a castor-oil experience? Do we have enough diversity out there to satisfy multiple levels of audience?
Okay.... I'm hoping for the best. Playing this first weekend:
The TV Set
Black Book
Air Guitar Nation
After the Wedding
Away from Her

"We do overhear some reductive ‘Is Nimoy into fat chicks’ comments when the gallery room is first entered."

So, Leonard Nimoy is into fat women. I have a similar preference.

When the dead turn 50. When the dead turn 100.

This past Thursday, Sid Vicious, had he lived, would have turned 50. Ah, but it's not hard to picture druggy rock and rollers getting old. I remember when it was considered an impossibility. If you lived like that you couldn't get that old. But nowadays, we don't have to rely on our paltry imagination. We have an icon of old rock and roll drugginess:

But forget about Sid Vicious turning 50 on Thursday. Today, Katharine Hepburn turns 100!
She lived openly with a woman widely assumed to have been her lover, wore men’s trousers and aired unfashionably left-wing opinions that scandalized the fan magazines....

Hepburn became an American Rorschach test, mirroring the ways we wanted to see ourselves. Each generation redefined her, rubbing out and adding to her myth. In the ’60s, she fell into step with the counterculture, promoting interracial love in “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” and exposing the folly of war in “The Trojan Women.” When the times took another rightward lurch in the 1970s, she made “Rooster Cogburn” opposite the conservative icon John Wayne, and told the press how refreshing it was to work with a “real man.” Hepburn had remade herself from a sexually and politically suspect outsider into an exemplar of true-blue Americana....

Hepburn’s drive for fame meant she would spend her life struggling between the demands of “the creature” (what she called her public image) and the more bohemian, unconventional life to which she was drawn. She was forced to invent a role for the kind of woman she was — her own kind. Labels — sexual, political, artistic — hold little meaning when talking about her. Sex, love and marriage were only the beginnings of the things she had to learn, re-make and often reject.

That's from an op-ed in the NYT by William Mann, who wrote "Kate: The Woman Who Was Hepburn." Hmmm, so what was the deal with Katharine Hepburn? Was she a lesbian? The Amazon page for Mann's book has this from Publisher's Weekly:
Mann's careful research on the longstanding rumors about Hepburn's lesbianism suggests that the notoriously feisty and tomboyish actress lived her life as a man with little empathy for women's issues. This interpretation also shatters the legend of her romance with Spencer Tracy—instead, Mann establishes a pattern of relationships in which the sex-averse Hepburn played emotional caretaker to a series of alcoholic, closeted homosexuals that, in addition to Tracy, included director John Ford. Yet the portrait is constructed so carefully that it never feels shocking.
Wow, I have not been keeping up with Hollywood gossip! Anyway, I'm interested in this whole private side of her, including the way she built and maintained her phony image. I listened -- like a sucker -- to her reading of her -- presumably Frey-like -- memoir, "Me." I even read Garson Kanin's "Tracy and Hepburn," which I thought she was all outraged about. Supposedly, she cut off her friendship with Kanin for revealing -- what? -- the story that wasn't true but that she wanted to promote as true? And part of that ruse was to appear to be suppressing it? Tricky. But when you're 100 years old and dead, you can do any damned thing you want.

I love Katharine Hepburn, even though she's terrible in a lot of movies. What do you love her in the most? "Bringing Up Baby," of course, but what else? Back in the days before VCRs, I once called in sick -- the only time in my life I've ever called in sick and lied -- because "Morning Glory" was on TV. We stayed home, felt guilty, and watched the movie, cut with commercials, on a crummy little TV we'd paid $15 for. A distinctive cinematic experience.

Oh, how quickly people skittle scuttle across the public stage these days!

Remember these guys?

A clue:

We were all talking about them back in January. Including me. I said: "Free Sean Stevens and Peter Berdovsky." So I thought I should provide the update. Just as it's all been forgotten, it's all been resolved. Good.

IN THE COMMENTS: Here's how my ultra-sophisticated commenter Bissage clues me in that "skittle" is the wrong word:
Better they should have been a pair of ragged claws skittling across the floors of silent seas.
I at least know enough to use Google, so I get it, the right word is "scuttle."

"Mr. Giuliani’s campaign went to some lengths to present his speech as historic..."

I didn't get it yesterday, and after reading this longer article, by Marc Santora and Adam Nagourney, I still don't get it. I'm not hearing Giuliani saying anything he hasn't said before.
Mr. Giuliani’s campaign went to some lengths to present his speech as historic in that it echoed a speech given in the same city in 1960 that proved to be a milestone in American political history: At that time, John F. Kennedy appeared before an audience of Baptists to address concerns about electing a Roman Catholic president.
Yeah, of course, everyone always loves to stir up Kennedy memories, but Giuliani's problem isn't that people worry he's going to impose Catholic values, it's that he's pro-choice and isn't going to satisfy the pro-life voters.
“If we don’t find a way of uniting around broad principles that will appeal to a large segment of this country, if we can’t figure that out, we are going to lose this election,” he said.

The speech by Mr. Giuliani reflected a decision — other campaigns suggested “gamble” might be a better word — to address head-on a fundamental obstacle to his winning the nomination: his long history as a moderate Northeast Republican in a party increasingly dominated by Southern and Midwestern conservatives. As such, it loomed as a potentially important moment in the party’s efforts to decide how to compete against the Democrats in 2008 and what it should stand for in a post-Bush era.
Again, I'm not buying that this is a "moment." The campaign announces it's being historic and momentous. That doesn't make it so. Nevertheless, quite apart from what happened in that particular speech, what Giuliani is doing overall is momentous and historic.

"Everything I will need (including laptop!) is rolled into a yellow sack clipped onto the rack."

I don't understand it, and I won't pretend to understand it. I don't get how you can get all your stuff in such a little bag or why you'd want to expose yourself to the elements like that. But it's admirable and the pictures are beautiful. Nina's back in France, and this time she's on a bicycle, traversing 45 miles of Van Gogh country in a day, and getting pictures like this:

May 11, 2007

Caricature and handwritten notes from the 7th Circuit conference.

Last Monday, at 3 in the afternoon, at the 7th Circuit conference in Milwaukee, Professor Geoffrey R. Stone and Judge Richard A. Posner had a debate on the subject constitutional rights and the War on Terror. I'm sure Simon is writing up his elaborate notes and that he will tell you what they said in precise detail, but I was in an impressionistic mode -- it must have been that glass of wine at lunch -- and I alternated between scribbling words and caricatures. From my first page of notes, I got both Stone and Posner:

Handwritten notes with caricature

Later pages focused on Posner, who, in proportion to the rights he was describing...

Handwritten notes with caricature

... kept getting tinier and tinier.

Handwritten notes with caricature

It's spring. It's study time. UW style.

Bascom Mall

Bascom Mall

Bascom Mall

Question asked, how I answered, and how I could have answered.

I was walking through Library Mall on the UW campus, past two young men, both dressed in religious garb. Despite the fact that I was wearing an iPod, one of them asked me a question. It was the classic question: "Are you Jewish?"

How I answered: "No. Sorry."

How I could have answered: "No, but I'm listening to Ron Silver narrate a Philip Roth novel."

"I should honestly tell you the things that I can evolve on, and the things that I can’t, and then you should decide."

Said Rudy Giuliani today.
Today’s speech was part of a concerted effort that his aides said he would be making to be more open about his support for abortion rights — a sharp departure from the usual route of Republican nominees, who during the last 30 years have highlighted their antiabortion views....

He said, as he has before, that he personally opposed abortion but believed in a woman’s right to make her own decisions; that he believes in the right to bear arms, but that as mayor of New York, he favored certain aspects of gun control; and that while he opposes gay marriage, he supports protecting gay rights, something he said he did as mayor.

On abortion, he said he was open to seeking ways to limit the procedure, but he was not open to limiting the right to have it.

“In a country like ours, where people of good faith, people who are equally decent and equally moral and equally religious, where they come to different conclusions about this, about something so very, very personal, I think you have to respect their viewpoint,” he said. “I would grant women the right to make that choice.”

Is this really anything new about Giuliani? Presumably, it's some sort of refinement of his position, but I don't particularly see it.

ADDED: More here.

Anti-Giuliani virulence.

Look out!

(Via Wonkette.)

"But brownie-wise how many pieces do you think you guys had?"

Said the 911 operator to the cop who, along with his wife, ate brownies made with some marijuana he seized on the job. It's not hilarious if the cop gets away with a crime they'd prosecute a private citizen for, but the phone call is completely hilarious, as he asserts that he and his wife are "dead" and asks the operator what's the score on the Redwings game (so he can figure out whether he's hallucinating). Seriously, how much of a candyass + idiot do you need to be to call the authorities on yourself because you're worried about the effect of marijuana? (Via Volokh.)

The "Special Women's Edition" of The Onion.

I love it!
Woman In Coffee Shop Judges A Record 147 People
Area Woman Not Yelling At You, She's Just Saying
Mommy Not Moving
Express-Lane Cashier Confirms Her Nails Are Real
Mother, Daughter Exchange Encoded Menstruation-Related Message Over Dinner
Woman Who Claims Book Changed Her Life Has Not Changed
Nanny Appears In Child's Drawings More Than Mother
"Blues Singer's Woman Permitted To Tell Her Side":
"Despite what Mr. Jackson would have you believe, I am not an evil-hearted woman who will not let him be," Dobbs told reporters. "I repeat: I am not an evil-hearted woman who will not let him be. To the contrary, my lovin' is so sweet, it tastes just like the apple off the tree."

Comprehensive coverage of the Biskupic speech and the traditional and new media panels at the 7th Circuit Conference.

Fortunately, someone was there taking complete notes and has the energy to write it all up. I'm eager to read this if only to find out what I said. I have some notes, but they're really sketchy. Actually, I have some sketches too, and I'll scan them later today. (I mean, if you're hankering for caricatures of Judge Posner and Geoffrey Stone, you will be fulfilled.) For now, let's check out what was Simon has to say -- a lot! -- about what everybody said about law and the old and new media. I'll just quote one passage to give you a taste of the detail:
[Judge Diane] Sykes steers the panel to another aspect of the impact of blogs: should judges read them? Should they cite them? Volokh chuckles that they should definitely cite them. As to reading them: he doesn't see how in this regard reading them is any different to1 reading a newspaper. He adds that blogs can almost serve as a quasi-Amicus brief, one that bypasses the cumbersome amicus process. And as a general rule, he adds, if you get an idea from a source, any source - be it an Amicus brief, the New York Times or Sentencing Law & Policy, you should cite it. The session's only question a little later picks up on this, wondering if it's appropriate for blogs to try and influence judges. Volokh observes that logs are public information no less so than a treatise or a newspaper, they are citable and should be cited, and while it might be inappropriate to try and influence a judge in a private email conversation with them, doing so by putting forward arguments in the public record seems appropriate enough. In some senses, he says, what is legal scholarship other than an attempt to influence judges?

Bashman notes that Judges clearly read blogs: aside from the Chief Justice, who we know reads How Appealing (see above), if he points out a typographical error in an opinion on his blog, the opinion is usually corrected or temporarily withdrawn until it can be corrected within a half-hour. He's learned from this to save a copy of any opinions before pointing out particularly humorous typos.

Althouse doesn't see any impropriety per se, but observes that there's a concern that certain kinds of reporting on blogs might influence Judges to play to the audience a little; if a certain kind of opinion seems likely to get them good reviews on the blogs, there's a concern that might distort judicial behavior. "AMK," I write in the margin and underline twice. Connecting this to the subject of cameras in the court Ann mentions David Lat's "judicial superhotties" contest, and wonders what pressures it would exert on Justices for blogs to be writing catty and critical comments about the Justices' appearence. "Perhaps not every blogger would do that... But I would," she concludes, with a chuckle. (This is the day's audience laughter runner-up to Turley's line about Roberts.)


1Simon's English. And he likes footnotes. I haven't done a blog post footnote since my first year of blogging. I have a personal rule against it. But I'm breaking my rule here as a tribute to Simon for writing such a damned comprehensive post on the conference. It's really helpful. And full of good observations and insights. By the way, I deleted a footnote of his from the quoted passage. It was footnote 41! As for what Turley said about Roberts (and his family), I remembered that to blog about in my post about the media panels. It was: "They looked like they were raised hydroponically by Karl Rove."

"It makes sense to have benchmarks as a part of our discussion on how to go forward."

Says Bush now, about Iraq funding. How to go forward. Good luck.

What did anyone expect?

Here's the NYT on Alberto Gonzales's appearance before the House Judiciary Committee yesterday. A quick summary:
... he stuck to his past assertions ...

Democrats at the hearing of the House Judiciary Committee tried but failed to elicit greater clarity.... Mr. Gonzales offered little new information...

Mr. Gonzales repeated his assertion...

Several Democrats questioned Mr. Gonzales’s credibility.

On the radio.

I'm on "Week In Review" on Wisconsin Public Radio this morning. If you go here, you can find the button at the top left to stream on line from 8 to 9 Central Time or look for the word "archive" to listen to the recorded version later. If you listen live, consider calling in. You can get me and my co-guest Professor Georgia Duerst-Lahti to address some issue that was in the news in the last 7 days.

I've done the show with Georgia before. It was back on February 9th, and you can listen to streaming audio here. We began with the big story of the week: the death of Anna Nicole Smith. It's a point-counterpoint style of presentation, and Georgia gets to be the Left, while I'm supposed to be the Right. And I'll come across as a right-winger of course, because the subject of the war will come up, and nothing else will affect perceptions enough to move the political sensor dial.

What, you're actually in Wisconsin and want to listen on a real radio radio? We're on all the "Ideas Network" stations, like WHA in Madison and WHAD in Milwaukee.

UPDATE: I'm on now. Able to blog while broadcasting.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Well, so much for blogging during the show! I could have done it, but I forgot to. Now, I'm listening to the recorded show. I think it was pretty lively, with some callers quite hostile to me.

MORE: At around 7 minutes, a caller asserts that 50% of Americans see their country as the equivalent of the Third Reich.

May 10, 2007

"They were trying to build a generation out there in the desert and so he took additional wives as he was told to do."

Mitt Romney on Mormons and polygamy. The spin is: 1. obedience, and 2. what do you think you would do if you were trying to survive in the desert?

ADDED: Much more on Romney's efforts to answer questions about his religion here.

Show some love...

... for Tammy Faye.

Yau Man, the greatest "Survivor" contestant of all time!

Did you see that?!

MORE: Oh, Dreamz, how could you say that? Well, credit to you for knowing the game is not about love. It's about strategy. Yau Man had a strategy, and you were right to detect it. Let's see what everyone does with what they know. I love this show!

YET MORE: Wow! Yau Man! Here's the link to the Television Without Pity discussion of this incredibly great episode in case you didn't watch and want to know what got me so excited.

Did you enjoy the sturgeon while I was at the surgeon?

I haven't been posting today, because I've been unconscious, which I consider an ironclad excuse for failure to blog. But after my visit to the oral surgeon today, I've slept off all the anaesthesia and eschewed the prescription painkiller, and I'm back in the world of full human awareness, including the awareness of unkilled pain, which is kind of the way I like to think of life itself.

One reason to eschew prescription painkiller is to be able to have a nice glass of soothing cognac, which I'm thinking will go very well with my favorite hour of weekly television: "Survivor," in high definition. Another is that I need to bone up on the news of the week for tomorrow morning's "Week In Review." (At 8 Central Time, Wisconsin Public Radio fans!) All those state legislature stories I've been ignoring... I can't be hearing about them for the first time on the show. Example: "Replacement to Seniorcare drug program touted as improvement." I get an email full of wire stories like that the day before the show, not that the show is likely to cover the uninteresting sounding ones.

Still, I'll do some reading to catch up with the news stories I've let slip throught the cracks in my consciousness. Some reading, some cognac sipping, some HDTV gazing, and then a good night's sleep, and I intend to be radio-ready at 8 a.m.

ADDED: Here's a good evidence for the theory that there's always something interesting inside the boring.
U.S. Senator Herb Kohl, Chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, and U.S. Senator Russ Feingold today announced the successful inclusion of a two-and-a-half year extension of SeniorCare, Wisconsin’s popular senior drug coverage program, in the Iraq Supplemental Conference Report, a bill that also includes funding for disaster aid, veterans’ health, agricultural disasters, and other emergency funding.
What -- I ask you! -- has more to do with funding the war in Iraq than the interest that old Wisconsinites have in the government paying their expenses that happen to fall into the drug category? But don't be so hard on Feingold and Kohl, because the war funding bill also includes funding for disaster aid, veterans’ health, agricultural disasters, and other emergency funding. You know how the fact that old people use drugs is an emergency.



... by sturgeon.

Don't call it the "C.S.I. effect" and complain. Call it the "tech effect" and adapt.

Here's a new empirical study. (PDF.) Conclusion:
To the extent that critics claim that the direct effect of watching CSI or other crime-related television programs is to make jurors more likely to acquit guilty defendants, the results of this study do not confirm that any such “CSI effect” exists. The results show that specifically watching CSI or a similar show did not have a causative impact on juror demands for scientific evidence as a condition of a guilty verdict in most criminal case scenarios. Additionally, a significant percentage of all respondent jurors, regardless of whether they specifically watched CSI or its ilk, have high expectations that the prosecutor will present some scientific evidence in virtually every criminal case. And those expectations do translate into demands for scientific evidence as a condition of guilt in some case scenarios, particularly where the charge is serious and particularly where the other evidence of guilt is circumstantial.

Rather than any direct “CSI effect” from watching certain types of television programs, this article suggests that these juror expectations of and demands for scientific evidence are the result of broader changes in popular culture related to advancements in both technology and information distribution. Those broad and pervasive changes in technology lead jurors to expect that the prosecutor will obtain and present the scientific evidence that technology has made possible. These increased expectations and demands of jurors therefore could be more accurately referred to as the “tech effect.”

The criminal justice system must adapt to the “tech effect” rather than fight against it. The constitutional stature of juries in our system is based on the principle that individual judgments of guilt or innocence, like issues of other governmental representation, should be made by ordinary citizens. It is not only appropriate but constitutionally expected that those jurors and their verdicts will reflect the changes that have occurred in popular culture. To adapt, law enforcement officials will have to commit additional resources to obtaining scientific evidence in many more situations. In the meantime, the law must become better at explaining to jurors why such evidence is not forthcoming.
Sounds right to me. That was my instinct when I reacted to complaints about the "C.S.I. effect" two years ago:
[I]t seems to me that "C.S.I." would tend to sharpen a viewer's perception and attention to logical reasoning. I'm not that sympathetic to prosecutors' whining that they can't rely on jurors' fuzzy thinking anymore. Defense lawyers have always complained about the way jurors were dazzled by science and would defer to expertise. So what if everyone thinks he's an expert too now? That's an incentive for prosecutors to do their work well. The imperfection of real-life evidence is just one more thing they will have to get through to the C.S.I.-sharpened minds of the jurors.

Morning without coffee.

Don't eat or drink anything after midnight. That's what they told me. I must surrender a body part today: a hopelessly broken wisdom tooth. It's hard blogging without coffee!

ADDED: Hey, why didn't I know about this?

"1997 was a moment for a new beginning. Expectations were high, too high."

Tony Blair announces his departure. So, now, who is this Gordon Brown character?
Indeed, Mr. Blair has likened his successor to “a great clunking fist” of a politician who will lead Labor into battle against the polished Conservative leader, David Cameron.

From his body language, slumped on the benches of Parliament, Mr. Brown sometimes seems dour and troubled, at times conspiratorial. His speeches evoke the Protestant ethnic of hard work and decency bred by his Scottish upbringing.

Sir Andrew Turnbull, a former senior colleague at the Exchequer, Britain’s treasury department, once described Mr. Brown’s management style as Stalinist. Mr. Brown’s adversaries depict him as brusque and reclusive. To some, he resembles a dark prince who has waited a decade for his throne only to see his inheritance devalued by an unpopular war in Iraq, hints of economic troubles and a loss of trust in his party.

May 9, 2007

Giuliani will come out in favor of abortion rights.

It seems that the revelations about his giving money to Planned Parenthood are forcing him in this direction, but most people suspected he was pro-choice anyway, and it was hard to explain the middle position he was trying to take.

"American Idol" -- results.

(Spoiler!) I was worried about Melinda, because the fourth spot is a dangerous one, but it turned out that, as expected, it was the end for LaKisha. Good-bye to KiKi.


A good name for a gar -- this is a longnose gar -- would be... let's all say it together:

Longnose gar


Obama's getting tired.

He weirdly told a crowd that 10,000 people died in the Kansas tornado, then explained his lapse by saying he was tired. Eugene Volokh says: "Campaigning for President is... an immensely tiring task... Seems to me we ought to cut the man... some slack...." Glenn Reynolds retorts: "Of course, being president is tiring too, and one of the arguments for a grueling campaign season is that it weeds out people who don't function well when tired."

Back in 2000, there were a lot of stories about how George Bush was always getting tired and complaining about the overtaxing schedule. For example, Anne E. Kornblut had an article in the Boston Globe on August 2, 2000, titled "Nomination will keep George up past bedtime; Aides schedule afternoon nap to keep him fresh" (which I can't find on line):
When George W. Bush gives his acceptance speech at the Republican convention tomorrow, it will mark the most important moment in his political life.

It will also be past his bedtime.

That seemingly trivial coincidence has become a source of concern for the Bush entourage, who know well that the candidate's sometimes awkward speech can become even more tangled when he has not had enough sleep. In fact, Bush aides, well aware of the importance of the moment and the needs of the candidate, are scheduling him for an afternoon nap.

Aides deny they have been purposely keeping the Texas governor on a lighter schedule in recent days to give him rest. Although Bush held only one public event on Sunday and two Monday, communications director Karen Hughes said that, outside of public view, he had "a pretty busy schedule."

But the intensity surrounding the campaign has lessened significantly since Bush named Dick Cheney his running mate last week, and it appeared from the public schedule during the past few days that he was pacing himself, much as he did in the early days of the Republican primaries.

On Sunday, after staging one rally and rehearsing his 38-minute speech in a friend's living room, Bush was the first to excuse himself from dinner in order to retire around 9 p.m. Under normal circumstances, Bush is asleep around 9:30 p.m., Hughes said. His convention speech begins after 10 p.m....

Bush has long treasured his private time, reserving time to go running and avoiding events that run late at night.

He faced criticism during the New Hampshire primary from voters who felt he was too laid-back; yet when he did campaign for more than 14 hours on one day, Bush made one of his most memorable verbal missteps.

At an appearance in Iowa on Jan. 21, he told the audience: "When I was coming up, it was a dangerous world, and we knew exactly who the 'they' were.

It was us versus them. And it was clear who 'them' was. Today, we're not so sure who the 'they' are. But we know they're there."

Hughes's explanation was one she does not seem eager to repeat: "That's how we talk in Texas when we're tired."
Man, I remember reading stuff like this at the time and thinking, great, Gore will win!

Speaking of crappy...

... there's a fish called a crappie. I just happened to take a picture of one recently, so here it is, in case you need something mellow to contemplate this morning:


ADDED: I'm told you shouldn't pronounce crappie crappy. Say "croppie." So elegant! Like to-mah-to.

"When I found out she wanted to save the environment, I sewed 'No thanks' on my parka."

Last night, the "American Idol" kids were singing Bee Gees songs (and had geezerly Barry Gibb on hand to "explain" stuff like the way "How Deep Is Your Love" is supposed to be sexy). But the Eurovision kids -- Eurovisionaries? -- make up with their own crappy lyrics.

The end of Down syndrome.

The NYT writes about the dwindling number of births of children with Down Syndrome:
[U]nder a new recommendation from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, doctors have begun to offer a new, safer screening procedure to all pregnant women, regardless of age.

About 90 percent of pregnant women who are given a Down syndrome diagnosis have chosen to have an abortion.

Convinced that more couples would choose to continue their pregnancies if they better appreciated what it meant to raise a child with Down syndrome, a growing group of parents are seeking to insert their own positive perspectives into a decision often dominated by daunting medical statistics and doctors who feel obligated to describe the difficulties of life with a disabled child.

They are pressing obstetricians to send them couples who have been given a prenatal diagnosis and inviting prospective parents into their homes to meet their children. In Massachusetts, for example, volunteers in a “first call” network linking veteran parents to new ones are now offering support to couples deciding whether to continue a pregnancy.

The parent evangelists are driven by a deep-seated fear for their children’s well-being in a world where there are fewer people like them. But as prenatal tests become available for a range of other perceived genetic imperfections, they may also be heralding a broader cultural skirmish over where to draw the line between preventing disability and accepting human diversity.
For those who are opposed to abortion across the board, this is not a difficult question. And apparently -- look at that 90 percent figure -- those who support abortion rights don't have qualms based on the idea of "accepting human diversity" when it comes to the matter of choice over what kind of family they will have.

But 90 percent! That must mean that a lot of women who support restrictions on abortion would still have an abortion if they knew the child would have Down syndrome. In the future, it seems, anyone taking care of a child with Down syndrome will be viewed as a saint... or, perhaps, misguided and foolish.

IN THE COMMENTS: This is important, from bearing:
Remember that this doesn't mean "90 percent of all unborn children who have DS are aborted," but "90 percent of all unborn children who are diagnosed before birth are aborted."

Many women who are opposed to abortion decline the DS tests on the grounds that they are not actionable information. I've had three pregnancies and never had any tests for that reason. So -- I don't know how many, but a lot of the strongly-opposed-to-abortion people are not part of that calculation. You'd need to know what fraction of people actually get tested to know how often people betray their principles to abort a child with DS.

ADDED: Andrew Sullivan links here and says:
Conservatives Who Abort

Ann Althouse peers into a not-too-pretty closet.
In the comments here, TMink says:
[S]ome parents would abort a child if a test suggested that the child would be homosexual.

Awful. Tragic. Sinful.

I am not trying to be judgmental, I am speaking about myself and my wife. As Christians, we trusted God to give us the child we wanted. We tried fertility treatments, to no avail.
I didn't mean for this post only to question conservatives. I want to question liberals too. I wonder about the liberals who oppose discrimination against the disabled, but would abort their child because it is disabled. I assume these people would support gay rights for the living but feel justified aborting their own child if they there were a test that showed it was going to be gay.

It is one thing to support abortion rights -- I believe it should be the pregnant woman's choice -- but rejecting interference with that choice doesn't mean you see no question of morality. What are the wrong reasons to abort? Shouldn't we talk about that? Some religious conservatives like TMink say that they trust God to give them the child that is meant to be. Others, it seems, judging from the 90% statistic, make an exception for themselves and have the abortion. But isn't there something equivalent for social liberals? Shouldn't they have moral standards about what reasons are acceptable for an abortion?

MORE: William Saletan reads the same article I did and sums it up this way:
Official rationales: 1) Down's kids are a joy and not such a burden. 2) Routine abortion of them is a step toward eugenics. Unofficial rationale: If no more kids are born with the syndrome, society's support for kids already affected will evaporate. Cynical view: Misery loves company. Hardcore pro-choice view: This smells like pro-life pressure tactics.

Making light of the Fort Dix terror plot.

Here's how Wonkette makes light of the Fort Dix terror plot:
Ok. So, the plot was: six dudes from New Jersey buy some guns and storm Fort Dix. The Fort Dix that is full of lots and lots of Army reservists with way, way more guns. And, like, extensive military training and shit. Yes, thank god these terrorists have been caught and locked up before they could be killed within minutes of deciding to carry out the dumbest fucking terrorist plot we’ve ever heard of.
I read that after reading Firedoglake:"The kids at Wonkette have precisely the correct attitude on this one."

Here's the NYT:
The six men planned to purchase rocket-propelled grenade launchers then use them to fire at Humvees at Fort Dix and “light the whole place up,” Chris Christie, the United States attorney in New Jersey, said today. The men had apparently looked at a number of military installations in the Northeast but decided on Fort Dix because they thought it would allow them to kill the greatest number of soldiers and to make a clean escape, officials said.

One of the men had also gained access to the grounds of the base as a pizza delivery man and claimed to be familiar with the layout, Mr. Christie said.
Now, the pizza delivery attack seems absurd too, but it does show that Wonkette's picture of them storming the base was inapt. The words "Fort Dix" may call up a picture of an impermeable fortress in your head, but maybe it actually is easy to drive right into it in a pizza delivery van.

Now, I don't blame bloggers for riffing impetuously on anything than sounds stupid, but of course, you must realize that the idea of hijacking four planes with boxcutters and knocking down buildings would seem like "the dumbest fucking terrorist plot" if it hadn't happened.

ADDED: Gregory McNeal is harder on Wonkette.

May 8, 2007

"I felt like I was at some weird discotheque in some foreign country."

Randy was not digging Blake's beatboxing on "You Should Be Dancing." That, we understand. The kids are each doing two songs tonight, though, so I think they're trying to create excitement for round 2. They just kinda trashed Melinda, who can do no wrong, so you know they meant to light a fire under her. But don't attack my Blake. He's the only boy left, and he's been my favorite for so long. And look, his blond hair is coming back in a streak plastered into the hair they dyed black last week. Well, you know he'll survive on his sex alone. There are three female singers, and it's just the way voters are.

That reminds me: Paula looks so beautiful tonight. Lotsa makeup, but still... how pretty! Meanwhile, Simon's in an undershirt and he bulges out his tongue at her when she's trying to get the words together to say why Melinda's not perfect.

LaKisha gets "Stayin' Alive." Oops, they're trashing her too. "The performance was verging on scary in parts." (Simon, of course.)

Jordin... they all think she's the best. But don't get too comfortable. This can be the kiss of death. The song -- and I should say it's Barry Gibb night on "American Idol" -- is "You Don't Know What It's Like." [CORRECTION: The title of this song is "To Love Somebody."]

Melinda's second song is "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart," and she's superstitious about the line "How can a loser ever win?" She Frankenstein-walks down the ramp. In spike heels. She shifts stiffly from one side to the other. It's a little painful. She's under so much pressure. She doesn't reveal the melody and open it out gracefully the way Barry Gibb does in the original. Not that I ever appreciated the original that much before. But she gets into some dramatic flourishes toward the end. This isn't enough for me. It lacks the taste and the delicacy of the original... and what the hell am I saying? I was never a Bee Gees fan. Now, I unpause the TiVo to hear what the judges say. I bet the ate it up. They kinda did.

Blake is doing "This Is Where I Came In," which, Barry tells us, was never the hit he thought it should be. "Under the bedclothes, everything will be all right." Have I ever heard this song? I don't think so. "A really weird, bizarre choice of song," says Simon, probably hurting Barry's feelings. Seems like there's a reason that song wasn't a hit.

"Run to Me" is LaKisha's second song, and I thought it was dreary and old. She's wearing a horrible green and black dress. I think she's going to go. She looks so nervous standing there after the song. This music just doesn't fit her at all.

(Hilarious Macintosh commercial, mocking Vista.)

Jordin Sparks, doing "Woman In Love," seems to have the same makeup artist that made Paula look so great tonight. I can't help suspecting that they want Jordin to make it. I feel like they painted a target on LaKisha! But what do the judges say about Jordin? Randy's not too impressed. Neither is Paula. Simon: "It was old fashioned and actually very pageant-y." Okay. So, some harshness. So much for my conspiracy theory.

I think it's a crapshoot. You guys can vote like mad if you want. I'll check DialIdol... and buckle down and meet my deadline, now that it's crushingly close.

ADDED: Back on March 31st, I wrote:
Let me just try to pick the order that they will leave (and we can look back and see how wrong I was): Chris R., Gina, Hayley, Phil, Chris Sligh, Sanjaya, LaKisha, Blake, Melinda, Jordin. So: Jordin to win.
Though I got a bunch of them out of order, I was right about the final four. I think I'm right about the final 3 too. But often there's a shock when the #4 person goes out, so I wouldn't be surprised if Melinda got the boot tomorrow.

The "new media" panel at the 7th Circuit conference.

I'm reading Christine Hurt's comments on the "new media" panel from yesterday's 7th Circuit conference, and I realize I still haven't put my comments in writing.

As Christine notes, one of the questions asked by the moderator -- Judge Diane Sykes -- was "What impact does law blogging have on the judiciary and are there any ethical considerations that are triggered by judges reading blogs?" I think all of us bloggers -- Christine, me, Howard Bashman, Richard Garnett, Jason Czarnezki, and Eugene Volokh -- thought that blog posts that might influence real decisions are no more worrisome than newspaper op-eds. They're published openly, so what's the problem?
[O]ne questioner in the audience questioned the ethical propriety of trying to influence a judge on a pending case. Again, the panel did not believe that this phenomenon was any more troubling that op-eds about pending cases or law review articles arguing what the law ought to be in general in a specific area. However, from overhearing the audience participants after the panel, I understood that the questioner's concern was widespread.

I formed a hypothesis that at least some practitioners (the ones that I overheard) were concerned that blogs created a one-way advantage in the way that ex parte conversations do. If one litigant can get the attention of the blogs, then is the other litigant at a disadvantage? One woman near me said to her colleague "The thing about blogs is that if they say something about me, I can't respond." I wanted to assure her that most blogs have "comment" functions, but I didn't want to fuel her paranoia. What is it about blogs that non-bloggers find so dangerous (and "unduly influential")?
Interesting! I think people do feel threatened by blogs. Suddenly, a new set of individuals have amplified voices and a daily audience. That has always been the case with mainstream media, but this seems so strange and chaotic. You might want to tell them that since anyone can do it, it's less disturbing than mainstream media, which used to dominate and monopolize. But with blogs, there are so many of them and they might say anything about anything. They might make a point of being completely unfair. Some of the most popular blogs got popular that way. And what must be even more confounding is that it seems that in order to balance the blogs that go against you, you're supposed to blog too. It's horrifying to think that you may be required to blog. Blogging is a new kind of speech competition -- a speech rat race. What?! Now we have to keep up with the Instapundits?!

But this insinuation that the legal bloggers are unethical -- I think that's a desperate ploy to get us to stop or at least feel constrained. They feel threatened, so they'd like to make us feel threatened back. But it's such a lame argument to suggest blog posts are somehow like ex parte communications with the judge.

Anyway, I enjoyed this subject of judges reading blogs. Howard Bashman had a story of someone seeing that Chief Justice Roberts having How Appealing shamelessly displayed on his computer screen. Do they have to think now about how their opinions will play in the blogs? And is it good -- or somehow degraded -- for them to be thinking about such things? Do they suspect the other judges of writing lines that the bloggers will quote? But that's not much different from looking at what the newspapers think or seeing what lines get quoted in the newspaper, and as Eugene Volokh said on the panel, at least the bloggers link to the original texts. The newspapers choose what they want to quote or paraphrase, but then that's all the readers get. The law bloggers as a rule link to the text of the case or the transcript of the oral argument, and if we've taken something out of context, our readers can go right to the source, and they can call us on our distortions in our comments sections or on their own blogs.

I noted that the panel was heavily stocked with academic bloggers. It was a relatively sedate group, if I was the edgiest person there. I said I thought it was good for judges to read the more irreverent bloggers like David Lat because judges -- even more than law professors -- are often surrounded by people who are extremely deferential to them, and they ought to want to expose themselves to some different attitude. Law blogs are a handy way for them to transcend the cocoon.

More about the panel later, maybe. I've got a huge deadline to meet in the next 16 hours. Plus, "American Idol" is on tonight.

ADDED: It occurs to me that lawyers just don't know how to use Google or Technorati to check to see if anyone is blogging about their cases, so that the discussion really doesn't seem to be going on openly and in public. The solution is obvious: They need to learn.

"Ambitious and cold-blooded -- but somewhat bungling."

The foiled Fort Dix attack.

50 billion times... bright as the sun.

Goodlove, that was good love.

But after 55 years, you've recovered.

I'm back in Madison and Silvio has a gleam in his eye.

Redbuds in bloom

This morning, I checked out of the glitzy Pfister Hotel....

The lobby of the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee

... and rolled the dust of Milwaukee off Silvio's wheels. Amazing how many more flowers and leaves there are here in Madison than when I pulled out the driveway Sunday afternoon.

Oh, but what's this?

Dead bird

Right on my doorstep! What does it mean? Just think how freaky this would be if there were a big spider on it -- after this post, yesterday. Could I resist paranoia?

There was no spider... and yet...

Bird head with ants

Ants. Is the eye an ant delicacy?

That's your corpse flower?

UC Davis, you've got nothing on us! UW rules in the corpse flower game.



At the UW Greenhouse

Titan Arum

ADDED: Ours is > 8 feet.

Admiring Lincoln. It's delusional.

When done by Bush.

Meanwhile, our oldest friend France has a new President.

Does he remind you of anyone?
[Nicolas] Sarkozy is unabashedly pro-American, a man who openly proclaims his love of Ernest Hemingway, Steve McQueen and Sylvester Stallone and his admiration for America’s strong work ethic and its belief in upward mobility.

The last film that made Mr. Sarkozy cry was Robert Altman’s “A Prairie Home Companion.” He once said he wanted Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” as his victory song. He calls himself “proud” to wear the label “Sarkozy the American.”
America! We've got Stallone, Garrison Keillor, and disco.

"You helped our nation celebrate its bicentennial in 17 —— "

President Bush gets in a dig at the Queen about the Revolution... or bumbles his speech. Which is it?

May 7, 2007

At the 7th Circuit dinner.

Justice Stevens at the 7th Circuit dinner.

That's Justice Stevens at the lectern. He talked about the President who appointed him, Gerald Ford: Ford was smart and graceful, not like the image of him in the popular culture. Stevens only spoke for a short time, and he seemed sharp and nice and funny. That's Frank Easterbrook, the Chief Judge of the 7th Circuit, to the right. The main speaker was Solicitor General Paul Clement, but he's not visible in the picture. Clement gave a good talk about the role of the S.G. A lot of people don't know what the S.G. does. When you tell them you're the S.G., he said, they sometimes think you're the guy who puts the warnings on the cigarette packs.

UPDATE: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on the Stevens speech.

Writing about the law -- traditional reporting and blogging.

Joan Biskupic gave the opening address today at the 7th Circuit Judicial Conference. Her theme was the importance of traditional journalism in covering the Supreme Court. She described sitting in the Supreme Court to hear oral arguments and the announcements of opinions. She's there. She has the sense that she is witnessing history and creating the historical record.

But a Supreme Court decision isn't an event that takes place in the courtroom. There is value to a reporter's description of how passionate a justice sounded reading from a dissenting opinion or the dubious expression on a justice's face during oral argument, but there is no reason to elevate this writing over a law professor's analysis that is based on reading opinions and argument transcripts and drawing on a long, scholarly study of the Court's work. What has changed and what is challenging traditional journalism is that, with blogs, law professors now write about the cases on the same day. We get the cases and argument transcripts right away, so no one needs to rely on a reporter who was physically present to hear something.

Why isn't it better to have a horde of legal experts receiving the same-day texts and writing whatever they think deserves to be written? One answer is that newspapers exist and must contain articles reporting the news, including the news from the courts. But newspapers don't have to exist and they don't necessarily do the best job of providing information about the law. As Biskupic said, there are very few regular reporters on the Supreme Court beat. These reporters cover all the cases, but law bloggers write about what they choose. Some of us stick to specialized areas of law. Some of us write extensively when the case deserves it and say nothing about other cases. Why is it better to have the same generalist writing about all the cases and providing a steady stream of articles of the same length and depth?

Of course, journalists portray themselves as neutral and strictly governed by professional standards. Meanwhile, bloggers can do anything. But nothing stops a blogger from reporting the work of the courts in a neutral way, following a journalistic approach. And journalists have their biases. Bloggers may provide opinionated commentary, but we may expose the places where the traditional reporters are displaying bias. Isn't it better to have more voices in the mix? There's this notion that the bloggers are distorting what used to be a purer process of delivering the news about the cases, but I think it's more accurate to say that the process only used to look pure because a few reporters were monopolizing the flow of information.

Biskupic noted that a traditional journalist may be asked to blog on her newspaper's website. She, in fact, experimented with a blog -- not visible to the public -- on the USAToday site, and she admitted she wasn't cut out for it. It was hard for her to be chatty and spontaneous, and the idea was abandoned. "I don't have a blogger personality," she said.

Later, there were two panels. The first, discussing traditional media, included David Savage and Jonathan Turley as well as Biskupic. The second, moderated by 7th Circuit judge Diane Sykes, had -- along with me -- Eugene Volokh, Christine Hurt, Richard Garnett, Jason Czarnezki, and Howard Bashman. I'll just do some highlights.

One subject on the first panel was the way some Justices go out and about doing public appearances. Biskupic said: "Justices get in trouble when they go on the road. Well, we like when they get in trouble."

Someone on the first panel complained about how boring it is to sit through confirmation hearings. Now, see, here's why blogging is better! You don't sit in the room getting bored. You're home with the TiVo, making strategic decisions about which parts to watch and commenting only where you have something to say. The reporters see the hearings as mindnumbing blather because they have to produce a news story. Something happened, so there must be an article commemorating the event. Bloggers pick what they want to talk about it. There are no particular spaces to be filled. Just a stream to carry on.

About John Roberts and his family, Turley said: "They looked like they were raised hydroponically by Karl Rove."

Savage picked up the theme of journalistic neutrality. He said journalists represent a "Green Zone" where there is no "pitch to the left or right." And he wheeled out the conventional opinion about blogs: Everyone goes to the blog that expresses the bias they like. The point here is that you need traditional media to keep people from cocooning inside their preexisting beliefs. But newspapers can be worse. People who rely on newspapers can't pop around looking for variety. They are stuck with that one reporter, decade after decade. And one of the things bloggers do is point out the slants and distortions in the newspaper articles.

I'll have to write something about the blogger panel later, because the cocktail reception is already under way, and the dinner is coming up soon. Speaking at the dinner: Justice John Paul Stevens and Solicitor General Paul Clement. So I've got to get my act together and make it to the dinner.

"There is now basic agreement that a trillion is a thousand billion and a billion is a thousand million."

The BBC informs us. This is, apparently, news in Britain.
"When you hear a politician, business leader of [sic] economist using the word trillion, they are talking about a number with 12 zeros...."

Morning break at the 7th Circuit Conference: Trad media has spoken and the bloggers are up next.

There wasn't a laptop in sight on the long tables lined with judges, so I couldn't type up a post while I listened to Joan Biskupic, David Savage, Jonathan Turley, etc., talk about what it's like to cover law -- really, the Supreme Court -- in these days when new media is sloshing all over into their territory. But I took a lot of notes, which I will work up over the course of today. I've got to go on and do the blogger panel momentarily -- I'm taking the break in my hotel room -- so I'll just say that I have a lot of objections to the way they characterized themselves and us bloggers. Some of that will come out, I hope, in the upcoming panel, which I'll say more about soon.

Milwaukee frenchtoastscape.


So here I am at the Pfister Hotel, waiting for it to be time for the 7th Circuit Judicial Conference to begin, thinking about all the judges who will maybe feel moved to check out this blog when I do the blogging-and-the-law-panel. I'm picturing them recoiling in disgust -- not at the horrible spider and the less horrible jellyfish, but at the sheer lack of law content at the top of the blog today. Who let her in? Some of them. Not all of them. My favorite judges are the ones who either enjoy an eccentric blog that gets around to law now and then or who don't ask "who let her in?" but "how did I get here?"

Please blot that image from my head with something very mellow.


Don't think about the chicken-eating spider. Think about the kindly jellyfish.

The chicken-eating spider.

Oh, no!!

May 6, 2007

A Milwaukee seahorse.

I'm in Milwaukee, the night before the 7th Circuit Judicial Conference. I'm doing a panel tomorrow morning, but this evening there was a reception at the Discovery Center, the lower level of which is an aquarium. Wandering around, I took this little film clip of a seahorse. The voices in the background are just some people at the conference.

Upstairs, I got some nice views of the Calatrava art museum:



ADDED: The museum is actually called the Milwaukee Art Museum. Santiago Calatrava is the name of the architect. For a view from the angle as you approach the entrance and photographs of the inside of the place, go to this old post.

"American friends... can rely on our friendship ... France will always be next to them when they need us."

With an amazing 86% turnout, the French elect Nicolas Sarkozy as their new president.

The ludicrous Chris Dodd, etc.

I'm very busy this morning, getting things together for the trip to the 7th Circuit Judicial Conference in Milwaukee, finishing writing at least one of my two exams, thinking about a review session that's coming up in a few minutes from now, but, along the way, I did watch a little of the Sunday morning news shows. First, a little Fox News Sunday. Ooh, was Chris Dodd blindsided -- not so much by Chris Wallace, but by Ayman al-Zawahiri:
In a new video posted today on the Internet, al Qaeda's number two man, Ayman al Zawahiri, mocks the bill passed by Congress setting a timetable for the pullout of U.S. troops in Iraq.

"This bill will deprive us of the opportunity to destroy the American forces which we have caught in a historic trap," Zawahiri says in answer to a question posed to him an interviewer.

Continuing in the same tone, Zawahiri says, "We ask Allah that they only get out of it after losing 200,000 to 300,000 killed, in order that we give the spillers of blood in Washington and Europe an unforgettable lesson."
The video was just released this morning, so it had to be in the news, and Wallace had to ask about it. Apparently, Chris Dodd has zero flexibility of mind, because he just trotted out his prepared message, even though it was ludicrously inapt.
DODD: ... [T]his is a civil war going on in Iraq. This is not the United States versus Al Qaida. It's Shia versus Sunnis tearing each other apart. It's gone on for centuries, but particularly here right now.

The United States is being asked to, in a sense, referee a civil war. And at $2 billion a week, $8 billion a month, Americans believe that we have done all we can possibly do, and Iraqis have to decide whether or not they want to end this civil war and the sectarian violence.

The idea that this is a winnable conflict by the United States -- every military leader from the very outset have said this is not a situation where there's a military victory for us here.

That was the conclusion of the Baker-Hamilton report, the conclusion of General Casey, General Dempsey. Every senior military official who's been involved, Chris, in Iraq has said from the very beginning there is not a military solution to Iraq here.

So the point has arrived, I think, for all of us that the status quo is unacceptable and that we should begin redeploying our troops.

WALLACE: But, Senator, if I can just press this point, though...

DODD: Certainly.

WALLACE: ... Here you have Zawahiri in a video -- he seems to think that Al Qaida has a stake in this fight.

DODD: Well, they may think that, but I'm not going to let my foreign policy be decided by Mr. al-Zawahiri. Obviously, he's playing his game here.

He'd probably like to see us stay down there, bogged down, at the costs we're increasing here, the loss of lives, not to mention the isolation of the United States. The status quo is unacceptable.

The American people are so far ahead of Washington on this issue. They want a change in policy, a change in direction.

We should begin that redeployment, in my view, and begin to do the things we should have been doing a long time ago, recommended by senior people of both political parties, senior knowledgeable people about the Middle East, and that is to begin to work the diplomatic, political, economic side of this issue to help Iraq achieve that stability we've been talking about.

You're not going to achieve it, Chris, when you've got 60 percent of the Iraqi people think it's all right to kill Americans. Eighty percent think we're the cause of the chaos in their country.

You need a change in policy here. That's what we're trying to achieve. The president wants the status quo. That makes us less secure and more isolated, in my view.
Ridiculous, but maybe no one was listening. Conceivably, everyone but me changed channels when he gave a 52-word answer to Wallace's invitation to state the message of his campaign in "bumper sticker" form.

I also caught George Tenet on "Meet the Press," but I haven't got time to write about it, as I've got to rush off to that review session. I'll just say it was rather painful to listen to that man try to justify himself. And Tim Russert hung him out to dry about what he wrote Richard Perle said to him the day after the 9/11 attacks. Oh, how Tenet coughed and spluttered trying to salvage his credibility on that one.

UPDATE: I wrote and posted this email from a coffeehouse on State Street, then rushed up the hill to the Law School for the review session. Along the way, I passed some new graffiti:
No war but class war
All war is civil war

And here's the "Meet the Press" transcript. This is the part I was talking about:
MR. RUSSERT: You open the book with these words: "Wednesday, September 12, 2001, dawned as the first full day of a world gone mad. As I walked beneath the awning that leads to the West Wing, [I] saw Richard Perle exiting the building just as I was about to enter. As the doors closed behind him, we made eye contact and nodded. I had just reached the door myself when Perle turned to me and said, `Iraq has to pay a price for what happened yesterday. They bear responsibility.' I looked back at Perle and thought: Who has [he] been meeting with in the White House so early in the morning on today of all days?"

Perle yesterday sent MEET THE PRESS this statement: "George Tenet tells his readers that on September 12," "'today of all days' I told him that Iraq was responsible for the attack of' September 11. "This false claim is an obvious attempt to escape the responsibility for the intelligence failures of the agency he headed. But more important, it shows that even five years later he fails to understand that the decision to remove Saddam was based on the danger posed by Iraq, especially Saddam's possession of weapons of mass destruction--the certainty of which was repeated in every intelligence report and briefing I received from the CIA and other intelligence agencies. I was out of the country on" September 11, "unable to return until September 15. When I did run into Mr. Tenet at the White House a week later, we had already concluded that al-Qaeda was responsible for" September 11. "I never made the remark Tenet attributes to me, or anything like it."

MR. TENET: We, we, we had not concluded that al-Qaeda was responsible for September 11. That conversation may have, may have occurred days later. It is the conversation that I--that, that occurred, and I stand by what happened that day.

MR. RUSSERT: He said those words to you.

MR. TENET: Yes, he did. And so for him to say that we had concluded that al-Qaeda was responsible for 9/11, well, I'd like to know who made that conclusion.

MR. RUSSERT: When you say "yesterday" and "today of all days"?

MR. TENET: Well, Tim, I, I obviously--this is a jumbled, very difficult period of time. I may be off by a few days. What he said seems to be corroborated by what he said to another journalist. Mr. Novak has said he was called on September 17, and Mr. Perle said something like, "Well, aren't enough--there aren't enough targets in Afghanistan; let's go to Iraq.' And it's--it also is corroborative of the fact that he sent a letter to the president on September the 20 that mirrors those feelings. So I may have been off on the day, but I'm not off on what he said and what he believed."

"Bad for You" books.

The NYT Book Review this week has a theme: "Bad for You." I don't think the individual books are anywhere near as interesting as collecting them together like this makes them seem. For example, one book is about email -- don't you know you can get yourself in trouble via email? -- and even with Dave Barry writing the review, email is a dull topic. Don't tell me, let me guess. People hit the "send" button hastily, writing lacks the emotional cues of a face-to-face conversation, and blah blah blah. NYT writer Gina Kolata has written a book about our fatness -- "Rethinking Thin" -- that is reviewed by Slate writer Emily Bazelon:
Kolata ends on a quixotic note, by wondering if perhaps Americans weigh more for the same reason that we’re taller on average than we were a century ago — because we’re in better health. Maybe the extra pounds even help contribute to this well-being.
What's "quixotic" about another repetition of the idea that fat people are actually healthy? I suspect this is the sort of thing you say in a book about fat to appeal to the people who would buy a book about fat. If we're getting fatter all the time for the same reason we're getting taller, why does that mean we're more healthy? It seems to mean we have steady access to food, and our bodies evolved to deal with scarcity, so we're really good at using food, loading up when we get the chance, and storing it away for a famine. When the famine never comes -- which is good -- it's bad. Nirvana! Is Nirvana -- the band -- bad for you? Benjamin Kunkel reviews Everett True's "Nirvana":
[I]t is difficult to hold on, from year to year, to all the strength and pain of being young. It is also difficult to remain quite so completely confused. Yet there is honor in confusion — since figuring out how you feel usually means abandoning one of your truths. And the adolescent, like the artist transformed into a commodity, is right to be confused: right to want to be popular; right to be contemptuous of popularity; right to hate the faults in himself that make his popularity undeserved; and right also to hope that winning a deserved popularity might actually redeem, for a time, the entire category of the popular.
There, now, does that help? Should you listen to your Nirvana records again, or do they embarrass you? Would you read a bio of the band? Camille Paglia reviews Jon Savage’s "Teenage: The Creation of Youth Culture":
Savage amusingly juxtaposes the earnest social prototype of the “muscular Christian” with the capricious iconoclasm of Arthur Rimbaud and Oscar Wilde. Missing, however, is the Romantic lineage of these writers in Théophile Gautier and other aesthetes : not everything in literature should be interpreted as a direct response to current events or social conditions.
Amuse me with juxtapositions and then piss me off by failing to juxtapose something that my capriciously iconoclastic mind juxtaposed. Here's a review of "The Joys of Drinking." Barbara Holland has written a book about the history of alcohol use, and she's putting a positive spin on it. The Constitution's framers drank a lot, people socialize in bars, etc.
[Holland] can’t abide our current era of moderation. Hip urbanites, she writes, “turned drinking in moderation into a high-class avocation.” Wine tours caught on and microbreweries arrived. The devotees “aren’t drinkers. They’re connoisseurs and critics, priests of ritual, sniffers and tasters, discerning scholars scowling thoughtfully into their glass. Fun has nothing to do with it. ... In the metropolitan haunts of the highly sophisticated, the cocktail is no longer an instrument of friendship but a competitive fashion statement, or one-upmanship.”
Is that moderation? You can have different kinds of attitudes and tastes and still drink a lot. And hasn't there always been a high class and a low class approach to drinking? I don't get it. This review, by Robert R. Harris, is just not critical enough, but it is studded with tasty nuggets of information, gving me the feeling the "Bad for You" themed Book Review is just here to entertain us, to play the "most-emailed" list game to win.