August 7, 2007

"There are folks out there who will try and discredit you...."

"... and if anybody in this room thinks we don't have infiltrators, well you are probably still waiting for the Easter bunny.... As a matter of fact I know for certain... that one of them is in this room right now."

Oh, lord, I would have been in the room too if I'd known the 9/11 "truthers" were doing a conference here in Madison.
This conference was organized by the Scholars for 9/11 Truth, or at least one version of them. The Madison event at the Radisson hotel was orchestrated by James Fetzer, a former Marine Corps officer with a Ph.D. in the philosophy of science.

Six months ago, Fetzer parted ways with Steven Jones, the man Fetzer asked to co-chair the organization, who accused Fetzer of allowing the group to wander into the realm of science fiction. Jones now maintains his own group, which vehemently denies any association with Fetzer's methods.

"I consider myself to be in the mold of Sherlock Holmes," Fetzer told the crowd. "When you've eliminated the impossible, whatever is left, no matter now improbable, is the truth."

One of the participants trying to keep things calm was Kevin Barrett, whose inclusion of 9/11 in his curriculum on Islam in a course he taught at UW-Madison caused quite a controversy.

Barrett, who no longer teaches the course, took the stage to try and express his concerns about the public image of the movement.

"I think we need to focus on conviviality in this movement," he declared. "We 're not the miserable paranoids people think."
Barrett was the voice of reason. Conspiracy conviviality -- that's what's needed.
Saturday's lunch included a free sandwich bar...
There's no such thing as a free sandwich.
Saturday focused on many of the more popular theories, beginning with inconsistencies at the site of the Pentagon crash and moving on to a controlled demolition of the towers. By Sunday the conference had covered weather control, weapons from space, and the idea that the planes that struck the towers never existed at all.

Fetzer, in his closing remarks before lunch, declared the conference a sterling example of open scientific discourse. "I feel as though we 're right back at JFK," said Fetzer. "We're down the rabbit hole again."
Yes, yes, now go get your sandwich. Eat, drink, and be merry. Merry and paranoid.

Killing TimesSelect.

Yay!
The New York Times is poised to stop charging readers for online access to its Op-Ed columnists and other content, The Post has learned....

While other online publications were abandoning subscriptions, the Times took the opposite approach in 2005 and began charging for access to well-known writers, including Maureen Dowd, Frank Rich and Thomas L. Friedman.

The decision, which also walled off access to archives and other content, was controversial almost from the start, with some of the paper's own columnists complaining that it limited their Web readership.
It was always such a bad idea. Why did they even persist this long? It's been so annoying not to be able to link to things, and I even cut down on reading the things I couldn't link to. It was particularly absurd that they put their bloggers behind the wall. But the ultimate absurdity for me was writing a guest column and not being able to link to my own column.

"Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe."

The whole "egg salad sandwich challenge" got me thinking about "Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe":



If you don't know what the egg salad sandwich challenge is, watch the last part of last night's vlog... and check the sidebar.

You'll say Herzog does it for art, but Althouse is doing it for commerce. And also, it's much harder to eat a shoe than an egg salad sandwich. I concede that it's harder to eat a shoe, but not that I'm doing it for the money rather than art. It was for art that I made that list of 10 Things I've Never Done. And it was for art that I put a price tag on doing various things that I don't want to do. That's for art both because: 1. it's a writing riff and 2. the first thing I wrote about needing a particular amount of money to do was to go see some awful theatrical production. #1 is doing art -- not necessarily the high quality art. #2 is taking a firm stand against low quality art. Now that people are actually offering me the money, it's true that I'm taking the money, but I do see the acceptance of the money as performance art. And, of course, eating the egg salad sandwich -- on YouTube -- will be performance art.

And remember: "Our civilization doesn't have adequate images."

Bonus images:



So Charlie Chaplin ate a shoe for art.... or made art out of our feelings about eating a shoe. In fact, he was eating a prop made of licorice. But I won't cheat. I won't cheat because: 1. I'm taking real money, 2. I can't think of anything that would look like egg salad and not be more disgusting, and 3. any art that may come from this depends on my reacting to actual egg salad.

"Did Scott Thomas Beauchamp lie under oath to U.S. Army investigators, or did he lie to his editors at the New Republic?"

Asks Michael Goldfarb:
THE WEEKLY STANDARD has learned from a military source close to the investigation that Pvt. Scott Thomas Beauchamp--author of the much-disputed "Shock Troops" article in the New Republic's July 23 issue as well as two previous "Baghdad Diarist" columns--signed a sworn statement admitting that all three articles he published in the New Republic were exaggerations and falsehoods--fabrications containing only "a smidgen of truth," in the words of our source.

Separately, we received this statement from Major Steven F. Lamb, the deputy Public Affairs Officer for Multi National Division-Baghdad:
An investigation has been completed and the allegations made by PVT Beauchamp were found to be false. His platoon and company were interviewed and no one could substantiate the claims.
According to the military source, Beauchamp's recantation was volunteered on the first day of the military's investigation. So as Beauchamp was in Iraq signing an affidavit denying the truth of his stories, the New Republic was publishing a statement from him on its website on July 26, in which Beauchamp said, "I'm willing to stand by the entirety of my articles for the New Republic using my real name."
Amazing, but not really amazing. It's easy to see how things like this happen. Beauchamp is a gifted writer, with a point of view and raw material. If the Weekly Standard's report is true, it means that Beauchamp -- who could have published a novel, perhaps an excellent one -- is also a man who subverted his own work by calling it true and making it a lie -- not fiction, but a lie. The motivations are not hard to fathom. He gained access to The New Republic -- which gave him stature and an instant readership.

It's also easy to see how The New Republic succumbed. The writing was sharp, the man was on the scene where he could witness important events, and he was speaking in a voice they wanted to project. Why weren't they more afraid of being duped? Was it because he was saying what they wanted to be true, giving weight to their arguments against the war? (Here's the lead story over there right now.) Maybe they thought they were protected from the suicidal blunder of getting taken in by another Stephen Glass because they were publishing the writing not as a news article but as a "diary."

Let's look back at Stephen Glass:
“My life was one very long process of lying and lying again, to figure out how to cover those other lies,” says Glass....

Glass' main job was at The New Republic, a distinguished magazine with a 90-year history of publishing political and social commentary. It also has a reputation for discovering young, talented writers like Glass.

He was editor of his college newspaper at the University of Pennsylvania and joined The New Republic as an editorial assistant in 1995. Not long afterward he was assigned to write a story on an arcane piece of Washington legislation. He thought it needed sprucing up and a serial liar was born.

“I remember thinking, ‘If I just had the exact quote that I wanted to make it work, it would be perfect.’ And I wrote something on my computer, and then I looked at it, and I let it stand. And then it ran in the magazine and I saw it. And I said to myself what I said every time these stories ran, ‘You must stop. You must stop.’ But I didn't.”

“I loved the electricity of people liking my stories. I loved going to story conference meetings and telling people what my story was going to be, and seeing the room excited. I wanted every story to be a home run.”...

“Everything around him turned out to be incredibly vivid or zany or in some other way memorable,” says [TNR literary editor Leon] Wieselteir. “And at the meetings, we used to wait for Steve's turn, so that he could report on his next caper. We got really suckered.”...

“I would tell a story, and there would be fact A, which maybe was true. And then there would be fact B, which was sort of partially true and partially fabricated. And there would be fact C which was more fabricated and almost not true,” says Glass.

“And there would be fact D, which was a complete whopper. And totally not true. And so people would be with me on these stories through fact A and through fact B. And so they would believe me to C. And then at D they were still believing me through the story.”
Read that whole article: Glass went to some trouble to beat the fact checkers. Here's some analysis in The Columbia Journalism Review about how TNR fell for Glass:
[T]he truth is Glass gamed the system, and brilliantly. He'd often submit stories late to the checkers so they were pressed for time. When they questioned his material, [TNR editor Charles] Lane says, Glass would provide forged faxes on fake letterheads of phony organizations, as well as fictitious notes, even voice mail or actual calls from people pretending to be sources....

Shouldn't all the unnamed sources, obscure organizations, and wild scenes viewed only by the writer have been another tip-off? "I've searched my soul and asked, "Why didn't my bullshit meter go off?" says Lane. "But it's hilarious. By the time I got there so many wild stories had run and seemingly stood up, I trusted him."

Some journalists see in Glass the dark side of a new magazine journalism that puts a premium on sensationalism and style....

But those who knew Glass insist that his story is more about one rotten apple. After all, many writers are under pressure and don't make stuff up....

If there is any value to the saga of what may be the biggest hoax in modern American journalistic history, it's that it has many journalists asking questions about their checking systems.
Asking questions... and then blowing it, all over again. You'd think, after Glass, TNR would be exceedingly careful when confronted with vivid writing with great quotes and anecdotes. Yet somehow, it seems to have gotten less careful. There's this notion that war makes the soldiers crazy. Journalists love it. Beauchamp reinforced it. It appears that war makes journalists crazy.

There's plenty of commentary following on the Goldfarb piece.

Like me, Mark Steyn thinks of Glass: "[TNR] made the same mistakes all over again - falling for pat cinematic vividness, pseudo-novelistic dialogue, all designed to confirm prejudices so ingrained the editors didn't even recognize they were being pandered to. But this time they did it in war, which is worse."

Roger L. Simon says: "Fact-checking, in my experience, is a big lie. It barely exists in the mainstream media."

Cathy Young is skeptical of the notion that TNR fell for Beauchamp because of his antagonism to the war:
Is I recall, Beauchamp was recommended to TNR by his fiancee Elspeth Reeve, a staffer at the magazine. It's not as if the magazine went looking for a soldier to write "Diarist" pieces. I do think that, to a large extent, Beauchamp was given a platform because he was someone the TNR editors saw as "one of us": a guy with a background in creative writing and journalism, as well as a Howard Dean supporter. I think it's also fair to say that the first Diarist piece, while not negative toward American troops in Iraq, showed them as mired in bleak and awful futility: at the end, Beauchamp reflects on his feelings of helplessness at his inability to protect the boy. So in that sense, it certainly fits into the current world-view at TNR. On the other hand, it could also be read as implying that if we withdraw from Iraq, we will leave the population in the hands of people who cut out children's tongues to make a point.
Hugh Hewitt calls TNR editor Frank Foer "the Dan Rather of the political magazine world, a laughing stock caught up in trying to publicly maintain an obvious lie as truth." He wants a head to roll.

On the left, one theory has it that the army coerced a false confession out of Beauchamp.

And John Cole somehow winds up "now, more than ever, convinced that a certain segment of the Republican party and the right wing blogosphere is certifiably insane." Okaaaay...

Responding on the right is Uncle Jimbo:
So as it turns out US troops are not heartless barbarians and that far too many people on the left can't accept that. Well from one of those barbarians who just happens to have more humanitarian and disaster assistance work under his belt than any of the smirking elite sitting around the table at Franklin "Which way is the door?" Foer's editorial meetings, F**k you very much! You finished what Glass started, and may this serve as a lesson to the many other supposed honest media sources, your agenda is pitifully obvious and your tactics so childishly unsophisticated that I almost feel guilty smacking you around. But I will, and I hope it stings.
Enough for now. Suffice it to say there's a big fight on.

UPDATE: TNR responds:
We've talked to military personnel directly involved in the events that Scott Thomas Beauchamp described, and they corroborated his account as detailed in our statement. When we called Army spokesman Major Steven F. Lamb and asked about an anonymously sourced allegation that Beauchamp had recanted his articles in a sworn statement, he told us, "I have no knowledge of that." He added, "If someone is speaking anonymously [to The Weekly Standard], they are on their own." When we pressed Lamb for details on the Army investigation, he told us, "We don't go into the details of how we conduct our investigations."
Goldfarb responds to that:
(1) They neglected to report that the Army has concluded its investigation and found Beauchamp's stories to be false. As Major Lamb, the very officer they quote, has said in an authorized statement: "An investigation has been completed and the allegations made by PVT Beauchamp were found to be false. His platoon and company were interviewed and no one could substantiate the claims."

(2) Does the failure of the New Republic to report the Army's conclusions mean that the editors believe the Army investigators are wrong about Beauchamp?

(3) We have full confidence in our reporting that Pvt Beauchamp recanted under oath in the course of the investigation. Is the New Republic claiming that Pvt Beauchamp made no such admission to Army investigators? Is Beauchamp?

August 6, 2007

Mysterious photograph.

IMG_0081.JPG

Mysterious photograph wants you to say what I should vlog about. In 26 minutes.

UPDATE: Sorry, I had a major distraction, but now, hours later, the vlog is done and uploading. Watch this space. It will be up in mere minutes.

ADDED: Finally:

"But then Ned Lamont kicked Joe Lieberman out of the Democratic Party."

Biggest applause line -- to my ear -- in Kos's keynote address at YearlyKos. Context:
Just a year ago, we were a freakish curiosity.

I stood before you at the first YearlyKos conference and declared that we “had arrived”.

People snickered and mocked me.
Those reporters at the back of the room.
They were laughing at me.
They were laughing at us.

But then Ned Lamont kicked Joe Lieberman out of the Democratic Party.
Video at the link. This part is at about 4:20.

The failure of the Democratic Party to include Joe Lieberman is an endless problem for me and -- I hope -- for many other longtime Democratic voters who care about national security. It's one thing to oppose Lieberman in the primary because there's someone else who's more to your liking. It's quite another to jubilate about narrowing the scope of the party and kicking people out of it and especially to exclude a historically important contingency -- liberal hawks -- that you might want to claim credit for some day. Looking at what happened in Congress over the weekend and at the growing support for the surge, I think Democrats may be approaching the time when they'll want to talk about that part of their tradition.

Did she pull "a Britney" or "a Natalie"?

I don't know but I think she looks great.

Who knows what lies at the end of an Instapundit link?

Followed this one. Landed here. Interesting photo....

If only I could think of something to say about it....

Pencil in head for 55 years.

Finally removed.
Margret Wegner fell over carrying the pencil when she was four. It punctured her cheek and part of it went into her brain, above the right eye.

The 59-year-old has suffered headaches and nosebleeds for most of her life.

Surgeons in Berlin were able to remove most of the pencil in a two-hour operation, but a 2cm section was so embedded it was impossible to remove....

"The central part of the foreign body was encapsulated in soft tissue and was not causing the patient any harm, so it was safe to leave it"....
Oh, hell! They didn't even take it all out. She's still got pencil in her head.

Quite aside from the pain and other damage, what about the very idea that you have a pencil in your head? I once had an embroidery needle completely inside my foot -- don't ask... it involved dancing barefoot on an old hardwood floor -- and the idea was terribly upsetting. And that was only for one evening. I can't imagine how much it would affect a person's life to have a pencil in the head for 55 years.

AND: From a tip in the comments...



As they say: "The Simpsons" got there first.

"The 'Lesser Perfesser' makes a case for strong opinions and instant chatter."

Here's a little piece on law blogging I wrote for The Legal Times, which I see is linkable as republished in The Texas Lawyer. I didn't write the above-quoted headline, but the term "Lesser Perfesser" does come up in the article. I talk about getting called crazy, and that makes me want to point out this discussion in the comments on today's first post, which links to my colleague's blog. A commenter called Teune writes:
[The linked blog] has caught my eye on more than one occasion too. The photos are quite nice. I worry about this kind of pseudo-intimate blogging however. For one, it gives the distinct impression that she is never at her job, or that she is employed by the taxpayers of Wisconsin to travel Europe, sampling the wares of every "quaint" cafe and market in existence. (Presumably, this is incorrect? Ann would know.) All it would take is the "right" Wisconsin legislator getting wind of this. It's scary.
I respond:
She works really hard, in fact. A really lazy professor would do anything but this. Think about the motivations.

I mean, what if I wrote one post a day and it was just about something I saw on TV. You might think: Hey, that lawprof just spends the whole day watching TV. But obviously, I could accomplish that feat of blogging in less than an hour a day -- in a lot less time than other people are spending just watching TV inertly.

I know blogging exaggerates how things look. So, if I hold a glass of wine in a photo -- I'm seen as a drunk! Yet, if you think about it, you'd realize that if I were actually a drunk, I would use a different picture.

And if I indulge in an offbeat locution, people call me insane. But if I were really afraid I might be insane, I'd take care to write conventional sentences that spelled out one thing after another with conspicuous logic.
Teune again:
That was my point. I like the blog and don't know the author, but academic blogs in this mode sort of make me queasy about their effects on those who aren't enamored with our hallowed university. Blogging about what you watch on tv seems a different animal than blogging about something that might just provoke resentment: "Wait, I'm toiling away through the dark WI winter as the State Rep. from Cheeseboro (R) and this person is off in the south of France...again...and in the middle of the term?!?!" Again, makes me a bit queasy.

Caption contest!



(Photo by Doug Mills. Click here for full size and here to read the NYT article.)

Let's get small.

I saw the notice the other day saying that The New York Times was going to get a little smaller, but reading today's paper, the first smaller one, it didn't register until I got to the editorial page. Then: shock! Only 2 columns of letters instead of 3! The editorials look huge and dominating. I've always liked the letters. I read many more letters than editorials.

The editors try to mollify us:
The available space for letters in print has been reduced by about a third.

Online, we present a bigger sampling of letters on subjects of greatest reader interest. And we will run other letters that were selected for publication but for which there was no room in the print version.

... [A]ll letters will be archived and become part of The Times's permanent record.
It feels like the first step toward the seemingly inevitable day when there will be no paper version.

You know I still feel bad about the downsizing of Vogue and Harper's Bazaar. What great fashion magazines these were back in the 1970s when they were huge and you could see what was in the photographs. What's the point of getting fabulous models and clothes and lighting and poses for a Newsweek-sized format?

But the effect of shrinking the NYT is almost nothing... until you get to the editorial page. I can't shake the feeling that the editors are encroaching on the letter writers.

Coincidentally, I'm going to cancel my print subscription when I move to Brooklyn. (Soon!) I can't picture "home delivery" when living in an apartment. And if I have to pick it up on the newsstand, will I ever do that? I've gradually been shifting to reading only on line anyway. I used to dive right into the paper ever morning... and then turn to my blog. But over the years of blogging, I've transitioned to going onto the blog first and reading all sorts of things on line before coming around to the paper. Sometimes, now, the paper sits there all day, unopened. Instead of the old eagerness about reading the paper first thing in the morning, I feel the physical object is chiding me. I don't like physical objects chiding me.

Please, NYT, don't take this personally. It's not because you got small. It's not you. It's me.

"The Republican candidates for president used a nationally televised morning debate to mock Democrats..."

As if somehow all these rivals coalesced into a Democrat-destroying machine. Oh! It's so unfair!

"This more or less legalizes the N.S.A. program."

Law signed.

Much outcry.

Kevin Drum states the objection well:
All they have to do is claim that the real target is the foreigner and that a "significant purpose" of the eavesdropping is related to intelligence gathering. Not terrorism, mind you, just intelligence generically. What's more, they don't even have to go to the minimal trouble of making that claim to a court. They can just make it and approve it themselves.

So that's that. The government is now legally allowed to monitor all your calls overseas with only the most minimal oversight. But don't worry. I'm sure they'll never misuse this power. They never have before, have they?
But everyone who voted for the law -- including many Democrats -- understood this and saw greater weight on the other side of the argument. Why?

ADDED: Here's some well-worded bloggage:
“Do Nothing”, “New Democratic Congress” Finally Does “Something”…

And, thanks for NOTHING…

JERKS.
That's from Gun-Toting Liberal, who goes on to riff about Congress's 3% approval rating on its handling of the war.

I love the kind of personal blogging that seems intimate...

... but really tells you nothing personal. If you think you can see in between the slightly tilted slats in the blinds, you still don't know it's not your own reflection.

August 5, 2007

An evening walk around the neighborhood.

Carrying only the iPhone, listening to a playlist I call "Fondness," I take this photo at the top of the hill before darkness sets in:

IMG_0060.JPG

The song in the earbuds is "Across the Universe" and then, "Cabin Essence."

Later, working my back toward home, it's dark now:

IMG_0074.JPG

The song is "Daniel" and then "I Feel Free."

Coffee.

Before:

DSC03829.JPG

During:

DSC03831.JPG

After:

DSC03839.JPG

Earmark transparency...

= earmark pride.

"He's gone from Jane Fonda to Dr. Strangelove in one week."

Mitt Romney takes a fine jab at Obama at today's debate:
Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois... said recently he would be willing to meet with the leaders of Cuba, North Korea and Iran in his first year in office, and declared in a speech he would order military action to capture terrorists in Pakistan if that nation's president did not.

"I mean, in one week he went from saying he's going to sit down, you know, for tea, with our enemies, but then he's going to bomb our allies," said Romney. "I mean, he's gone from Jane Fonda to Dr. Strangelove in one week."
Giuliani had a good quote too:
"In four debates, not a single Democrat said the word, 'Islamic terrorists.' Now that is taking political correctness to extreme."
(And I'm totally surprised to read that there was another debate. I am constantly paying attention to the news and want to watch all the debates, yet I knew nothing of this one. How do they expect normal people to notice?)

Embedded YouTube videos don't appear on the iPhone.

Even though the iPhone has an icon on the home screen that connects directly to YouTube and the videos play gorgeously on the clear, bright screen, embedded videos don't even appear! You just see a picture of a block!
In case you haven’t heard the news, the reason embedded YouTube videos don’t work in Mobile Safari is because it doesn’t bundle the Adobe Flash plugin, Lite or otherwise. Users also can’t download it, install it, or otherwise upgrade to the latest version.
They ought to fix that quickly!

I'm wondering if this is a hint for why Safari on my laptop won't play embedded video (or will sometimes play it once but not twice). Works on Firefox -- but I still prefer Safari.

UPDATE: I tried installing Flash, but I still can't play embedded video in Safari on my laptop.

IN THE COMMENTS: Why the iPhone limitation makes sense and is temporary.

David Bowie and "Flight of the Conchords."

Since David Bowie popped up for almost no reason in the previous post, I thought I'd talk about how much I like the new HBO show "Flight of the Conchords" where David Bowie just popped up in Bret's dream:



Then, later, Bowie's in space:



Questions raised/issues spotted:

1. Do you like "Flight of the Conchords"?

2. What are some other songs about space? We've already implicitly cited this one:



And there's "Rocket Man." I was just listening to Elton John's "Rocket Man" the other day on my iPhone and thinking about William Shatner's "Rocket Man," when I walked through an archway into a courtyard and happened upon a gamelan performance. That was rather spacey.

3. Bret or Jemaine?

4. Hey, Mr. Spaceman, won't you please take me along for a ride?



5. What are the top 10 reasons why stories of alien abduction must be false?

6. Did you know that that the lyrics to "Mr. Spaceman" contain a key word for answering question #1 in the previous post?

"World is lucky to have Bob Dylan and his voice."

I'm a little pleased with myself for knowing why it's funny to phrase it that way. That is, I see a reference to a Dylan song in that headline to a column about a Mojo Magazine list of the 100 Greatest Bob Dylan Tracks. ("How good do you have to be to have a list of your 100 greatest songs?")
Mojo’s critics picked the following Dylan songs for their top 10: 1. “Like A Rolling Stone,” 2. “Positively 4th Street,” 3. “Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands,” 4. “Desolation Row,” 5. “Blind Willie McTell,” 6. “It Ain’t Me, Babe,” 7. “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue,” 8. “It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding),” 9. “Mississippi,” 10. “Just Like A Woman.”

Mojo’s readers picked these 10: 1. “Like a Rolling Stone,” 2. “Desolation Row,” 3. “Visions of Johanna,” 4. “Mr. Tambourine Man,” 5. “Tangled Up In Blue,” 6. “Positively 4th Street,” 7. “Idiot Wind,” 8. “Blind Willie McTell,” 9. “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right,” 10. “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue.”

It looks like the critics and readers agreed on five.

Now let’s look at Uncut Magazine’s list that came out in 2002: 1. “Like A Rolling Stone,” 2. “Tangled Up In Blue,” 3. “Visions Of Johanna,” 4. “A Hard Rains Gonna Fall,” 5. “It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding),” 6. “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” 7. “Desolation Row,” 8. “I Want You,” 9. “Idiot Wind,” 10. “Sad-Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands.”

What do you think? Do you agree or not? What are your favorite Dylan songs?

Don’t ask me. Two of my favorites “If Not For You” (64) and “Senor (Tales of Yankee Power)” (100) didn’t even make the top 50 on the Mojo readers’ list.

I am really not very good at picking top 10 lists when it comes to music. It always seems to be a struggle for me.

I guess that I am just too much of a music fan to make up my mind. It also depends on what day it is.
I'm always looking for "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat."



Maybe I just like the fashion theme. What are the great songs about fashion? And I mean songs with lyrics that focus on a particular item (or items) of clothing. So don't all of you just shout out this one:



A good answer for this assignment would be "Raspberry Beret." But you don't have to restrict yourself to hats.

And don't slight the other questions raised here:

1. What Dylan song does the headline refer to?

2. "What are your favorite Dylan songs?"

3. "How good do you have to be to have a list of your 100 greatest songs?" -- i.e., which other artists are worthy of a list of 100 greatest songs?

4. How many seas must a white dove sail before she sleeps in the sand? And what does it sound like when doves cry?

5. What was the question I had here under point #5 that I had to take out because I just don't want that much trouble?

6. And lest you've forgotten: What are the great songs about articles of clothing?

Now, go get dressed!

"Don’t tell anybody, but I actually read blogs."

Said Hillary Clinton at YearlyKos, slyly adding: "Don’t share that." Whether she actually takes the time to read us or not, someone who writes for her knows how to prods us to blog something nice.

I'm saying "us," though I know she's talking to -- flattering -- the leftosphere.
"Let me say something a little unexpected: Thank you. Thank you for building a modern, progressive movement in America and standing up to the right-wing Republican noise machine!"
So -- by her lights -- am I part of "the right-wing Republican noise machine"? I call myself a liberal, which is -- ironically -- something she won't do:

August 4, 2007

Music and architecture.



Architecture: The Humanities Building, UW-Madison (justly slated for destruction).
Music: Gamelan!

"Democratic presidential candidates have started treating the blogosphere like any other special interest."

"They’ve reached the conclusion that the liberal bloggers are more a community than an ideological movement, more like, say, the Armenian-American community than NARAL," says Politico.
And so candidates have reacted the way politicians always have to co-opt troublesome communities: They have put leading bloggers on payroll, showed up at blogger events and come out strong for narrow causes of interest solely to members of that community. Gone, at least for now, are the days when the Netroots seem poised to push the party to accept a unified view of the nation’s future.

“They’re so painfully craving any type of mainstream acceptance that they’re prone to the crassest kind of flattery and pandering, which weakens them,” said a senior aide to a Democratic campaign of the bloggers. Recalling a lavish party then-candidate Mark Warner threw at the 2006 YearlyKos convention in Last Vegas, the aide noted: “Mark Warner bought them off with a fountain and some chocolate strawberries.”
I think bloggers are tougher than this. We'd better be! Take the access, but don't be duped into liking anyone because of it. Demand respect. You deserve it. Don't feel flattered when you get it.

In Madison...

The Zen Sushi cart is parked in front of St. Paul's:

Zen Sushi

And the sign the University put up to celebrate our progressive tradition -- (enlarge) -- is just not left-wing enough for the local graffiti scrawlers:

The Wisconsin Idea

Gamelan!

I am trying to blog from mmy iPhone for the first time. i'm not that good at the typing...A tnd

UPDATE: As you can see, I had a little trouble posting from the iPhone. Part of it was the bad WiFi situation I was in. But when I got to better WiFi, I couldn't get the keyboard to appear when I touched on the "compose window." The keyboard would appear when I touched the "title" space but it woudl disappear as soon as I touched the compose part of the screen. At one point, it let me type a couple letters, which is why the text above is different from what was there originally. At another point, it just deleted all the characters, so I didn't publish. Irritating! And I really did want to tell you about the gamelan concert!

ADDED: I'm typing this on the iPhone and following some advice from a commenter. The secret is to select the html tab for the window, not the "compose" tab. And I'm even switching to thumbs for typing. Isn't it funny that "all thumbs" is now an indication of dexterity?

Forget reading glasses. Get distance glasses.

The NYT has an article today -- it shot to the top of the "most emailed" list -- about the indignity of the far-sightedness that comes with aging... and how especially distressing it is for us Baby Boomers. The article is in the Business section, because there are some big commercial opportunities, especially in reading glasses sales:
Corinne McCormack, 53, started her own eyewear and accessory company in Manhattan in 1993 when she noticed that people were walking around with Rolex watches, Jimmy Choo shoes and $10 drugstore glasses. Hers average $50 a pair, and business, she said, is great.

Craig Roessler, 60, a school superintendent in Silverton, Ore., said he prefers not to have to worry about losing his reading glasses and has devised a loose strategy. In addition to one pair of prescription reading glasses that he carries to work, he keeps eight or so pairs of inexpensive glasses scattered throughout his daily surroundings: two in his car, one in his golf bag, one in his desk drawer at the office and several around the house. He has also noticed that at the clubhouse of his golf club, a pair of reading glasses is tied to the computer terminal.

At Romano’s Macaroni Grill, a nationwide chain of Italian restaurants, reading glasses are provided upon request, as are large-print menus.

The glasses are often kept at the hostess station, and they often disappear.

“We used to have two to five pairs to give out, but they’re all gone,” said Kelsey Betzelberger, the hostess at a Macaroni Grill in Hillsboro, Ore. “People just forget to return them. We got replacements, but those are gone, too.”
I have about 20 pairs of reading glasses -- upstairs and downstairs at home, in my car, in my office. But, you know, if you use this strategy, you will also be losing them and breaking them a lot. And also buying new ones for very little reason. This new pair may look sort of cool or cute, but the fact remains: Reading glasses make you look old. It's the way you wear them, pulling them down low on your nose -- because that really does adjust the focus -- and peering over the top. You can take them off every time you need to look out at the less-than-close world, but that looks bad too.

I've been doing these things for a few years, but recently I figured out a different strategy, one that I think few people have discovered. I was already near-sighted and plagued with astigmatism. I got my first glasses when I was in fourth grade. I hated glasses and got contact lenses as soon as my parents would let me -- when I was 13. In recent years, I was wearing the contacts all day, but still wearing reading glasses. That meant I was wearing glasses and contact lenses most of the day, since I read and write so much of the time. It also meant that in my most conspicuous activities -- teaching or giving some sort of public presentation -- I had to have the glasses and keep taking them on and off.

The solution was to get contacts that give me perfect vision at the reading distance and prescription glasses that correct that vision for distance. With "transition" lenses and appropriate frames, the glasses look like sunglasses when I'm outdoors. I can also wear one of my new lenses and one of my old lenses and go without glasses altogether, which is a bit odd, but not as bad as it sounds. I'd heard of that solution before, but discovered the reading contacts/distance glasses solution for myself. You might want to try it. For me, the reading level prescription is perfectly fine for face-to-face conversations, walking around a store, and various common activities, so the "distance glasses" are much less of a distraction than the reading glasses. They are mainly sunglasses, and putting on sunglasses feels completely different from putting on reading glasses. Instead of old and limited, you feel young and free.

"It looks like the Turtle!"

A scary art project.
... Duke Riley, a heavily tattooed Brooklyn artist whose waterborne performance projects around New York have frequently landed him in trouble with the authorities, spent the last five months building the vessel as a rough replica of what is believed to have been America’s first submarine, an oak sphere called the Turtle, said to have seen action in New York Harbor during the Revolutionary War.

Mr. Riley’s plan was also military, in a sense — though mostly metaphorical, given that he is an artist. He wanted to float north in the Buttermilk Channel to stage an incursion against the Queen Mary 2, which had just docked in Red Hook, the mission objective mostly just to get close enough to the ship to videotape himself against its immensity for a coming gallery show.

But when his sub was stopped by a New York City police boat around 10 a.m., the outcome was not metaphorical at all: Mr. Riley, 35, and two friends who had helped tow him were taken into custody by a phalanx of law enforcement officials, and their excursion briefly raised fears that a terrorist attack might have been under way.
Riley got some great publicity, and people don't seem too mad at him. This shows that if you're going to do performance art that summons up fears about terrorism, it's good to have a military history theme to appease the kind of people who don't cotton to performance art.

For contrast, remember the artist -- Clinton Boisvert -- who placed boxes labeled "Fear" around the NYC subway, not too long after 9/11?

"We're at war. The enemy wants to attack us. This is not the time to strive for legislative perfection."

That's a quote from Joe Lieberman, from the debate in the Senate over amending the foreign surveillance laws.
The administration and congressional Democrats agree on the need to update the FISA statute to reflect the realities of 21st-century telecommunications, including the ever-expanding digital world of e-mail, podcasts and text messages.

White House and intelligence officials have sought a broad overhaul of the act to allow spy agencies to listen in on terrorism suspects quickly, without having to apply for a court order, as is required for surveillance that targets U.S. residents. But Democratic leaders say the administration's proposals could lead to broad searches of phone calls and e-mails by ordinary Americans without judicial review....

White House officials complained that Democratic proposals do not give them a crucial tool: the ability to begin wiretapping without having to go to a court. "Every day we don't have [this wiretap authority], we don't know what's going on outside the country," a senior White House official said. "All you need is one communication from, say, Pakistan to Afghanistan that's routed through Seattle that tells you 'I'm about to do a truck bomb in New York City' or 'about to do a truck bomb in Iraq,' and it's too late."
The vote was 60-28, so it's clear that Democrats, much as they'd like to put their mark on the legislation, cannot bear to look as though they accept a greater risk of terrorist attacks.

Marty Lederman gives some detail on the failed Democratic proposal, which "the communications privacy community" considered "too conciliatory... going well beyond authorization to exclude purely foreign-to-foreign communications from FISA, i.e., far beyond what is necessary to address the problem that the Administration has described."

Joe Gandelman writes:
... Bush held out for the strongest deal he could get, went on TV and seemingly scared some Democrats to go along with him (some other Democrats clearly agreed the law update was needed) since his TV talk centered on how critical it was to give government these new updated tools to protect the U.S. And it worked — indicating a) he still has a lot of clout since he can peel off wavering or sympathetic Democrats so they join in coalition with GOPers and b) if it worked this time chances are this tactic will be used on other high-stakes measures....
The Talking Dog barks:
Harry Reid voted against it in every way except the one way that mattered: he had the power to keep this piece of shit off of the Senate floor altogether, and to tell the President that when the President started respecting the Constitution and the rights of the American people, then he could start suggesting legislation of this kind... and not dictating to another branch of government what it should pass or when it should recess. And instead, on this, we get "an up or down vote". Jebus.

... [W]e can presume that the D.C. cocktail party circuit is all abuzz about fear of terrrrrrrrrorists attacking Washington any God damned moment... and, unbelievably, Democrats believe that they would be blamed for it. And again, methinks, why was it I worked so hard to get this party in the majority again, so we could get exactly the same results as if they weren't?
The Dog is reading Digby, who writes:
I have the niggling feeling that there has been some pretty heavy cocktail and bar-b-que chatter in the capital this summer with the elders warning everyone that something is afoot, but they can't talk about the details. Suddenly the villagers are all acting like nervous cats on a hot tin roof and dancing around like it's the hot summer of 2002 again for no discernable rason [sic].

If that's so and little birdies are whispering in ears, the congress should stay in town and hash this thing out for real instead of signing off on something they haven't read. And if that's so, the president also needs to stay in town instead of rushing off to clear that poor brush again on his "ranchette" set in Waco and negotiate in good faith to protect the American people. The fact that nobody is doing this suggests to me that if there is some fear mongering going on, everyone involved knows it's typical Bushian nonsense but they are afraid to take a chance just in case he gets lucky and hits another trifecta.

No. More. Executive. Power. Period. It's their job to figure out how to track terrorists without trampling on the constitution. If that means staying in town for the month August in that sweltering heat, well, that's what they're paid for.
Americablog:
So much for that "one of the people being listened to needs to be a terrorist" line that Bush kept selling us. Apparently, he never intended that to be the case, and now it isn't. And the more congress permits itself to be rolled, the more Bush knows he can roll them. The man is at 28% in the polls and the Democrats are scared to death of him. Pathetic.

Yes, and how has Congress been doing in the polls?

August 3, 2007

Idle iPhone photo.

Tablescape

"Squirrel in Finland Has Taste for Chocolate."

Indeed.

"A Saskatchewan bible camp has a new policy on animal treatment after a squirrel was killed and roasted over the fire by one of its counsellors."

Noted.

Vlog under construction.

Now that I've taken 2 days off from vlogging, I'm ready to talk again. But what about?

ADDED: It's almost ready. Just uploading. But let me use this time to write about some questions you asked that didn't make the final edit after I, as usual, went over the YouTube 10 minute limit. One thing I cut is my saying I probably really should pay for the "professional" level YouTube account where I'm not stuck with the 10 minute limit. What else? 1. I use LancĂ´me makeup because I like their moisturizers and from there it's mostly brand loyalty. 2. On preparing for the LSAT: I agree with this advice (written by my son). 3. I think one could learn to be a lawyer on line, and to say that isn't to say the classroom teaching I do is worthless. There can be more than one effective method. But, naturally, I think the live classroom is best. 4. I think "Big Love" is intended to heighten sensitivity toward different choices in family structure, but it's not really about softening people up about same-sex marriage, because polygamous marriage presents all sorts of problems regarding taxes, inheritance, eligibility for benefits, child custody, etc., and gay marriage is a far easier question. Also, the polygamous family in "Big Love" has great difficulties with respect to the subordination of women, and we constantly question whether it's a good idea. I don't think there is a similar problem with gay relationships. 5. Harrison is a very cool 9 month old. 6. I'd love to be on "The View." 7. Ooh, the vlog is ready:

"You're talking a time when the big blogs attracted 200 visitors a day. Dissent against the president was considered treason."

Markos Moulitsas remembers the year 2002.... rather strangely!

TNR versus Weekly Standard.

TNR checks up on its Baghdad Diarist, Scott Thomas Beauchamp:
In the first [of three anecdotes], Beauchamp recounted how he and a fellow soldier mocked a disfigured woman seated near them in a dining hall. Three soldiers with whom TNR has spoken have said they repeatedly saw the same facially disfigured woman. One was the soldier specifically mentioned in the Diarist. He told us: "We were really poking fun at her; it was just me and Scott, the day that I made that comment. We were pretty loud. She was sitting at the table behind me. We were at the end of the table. I believe that there were a few people a few feet to the right."

The recollections of these three soldiers differ from Beauchamp's on one significant detail (the only fact in the piece that we have determined to be inaccurate): They say the conversation occurred at Camp Buehring, in Kuwait, prior to the unit's arrival in Iraq. When presented with this important discrepancy, Beauchamp acknowledged his error. We sincerely regret this mistake.
Weekly Standard responds:
Acknowledged his error? How about confessed that he made something up? How about, misled his editors when they pressed him for corroborating details on July 17, after the piece was published? And how do we reconcile this with Foer's own statements over the past two weeks, including one to ABC News claiming corroboration of the account:
"We showed the stories to people who'd been embedded in Iraq to make sure that it all smelled good. We talked to one of the members of his unit to confirm the woman, a female contractor. We talked to a medic who'd served in Iraq to make sure that a woman could be in an FOB. We spent a lot of time with him on the phone asking hard questions."
The New Republic is correct about one thing: the detail is significant. If the incident happened in Kuwait, it eliminates their editorial rationale for publishing the piece. It means Private Beauchamp had suffered "the morally and emotionally distorting effects of war" before ever going to war.
The TNR piece ends this way:
Although we place great weight on the corroborations we have received, we wished to know more. But, late last week, the Army began its own investigation, short-circuiting our efforts. Beauchamp had his cell-phone and computer taken away and is currently unable to speak to even his family. His fellow soldiers no longer feel comfortable communicating with reporters. If further substantive information comes to light, TNR will, of course, share it with you.
So now the blame is on the government and TNR is off the hook? We did all the fact checking we could...

New Hampshire waitress versus Mitt Romney.

This is a useful video clip, because it shows Mitt Romney explaining his approach to health care and dealing with a high pressure confrontation from a voter. Really, there is nothing he can say that will fully satisfy the woman, but he uses the occasion to display himself as a rational problem-solver. He does not, however, try to connect with the woman on an emotional level, and after the exchange she is close to tears. "That's money off my table," she complains. His hour-long presence in the restaurant has cost her tips.

I think Romney ought to have walked up to the woman and asked her a few questions about the three sick children she mentioned and expressed some sympathy about how hard it is for her. He could have hugged her or taken her hand. Instead, he tried to win the debate on the substantive merits, something he's pretty good at. Yet he missed the chance to do something he could easily have done. And, once again, he looks a little cold and robotic. It's so unnecessary!

Picture how Bill Clinton -- or even George Bush -- would have handled this situation. That woman was emotionally fragile, not a heckler. Someone needs to teach Romney a few tricks.

O'Reilly versus Chris Dodd.

It's an interesting fight -- about whether DailyKos is so vile that the Democratic candidates should not appear at the YearlyKos convention. Both men do their thing -- reasonably adequately.

O'Reilly tries to create an exciting segment by gasping over a sexual depiction of Lieberman's devotion to Bush and emoting about the extreme leftiness of Daily Kos, and Dodd provides a stolid demonstration of the conventional strategy of standing his ground and not getting riled no matter what. Dodd's point is mindcrushingly obvious: DailyKos represents a large number of politically engaged citizens who are likely to vote in the Democratic primaries. O'Reilly's stance is equally obvious: Make the Democrats look bad -- for any connection to something that might shock viewers.

I first saw this clip on Crooks and Liars, but it ends with O'Reilly saying Dennis Miller is going to talk about it. That sent me looking for a longer clip, which is what I've linked here (on Hot Air). [ADDED: But the Crooks and Liars clip -- now linked -- is longer and has more of O'Reilly's overheated goading.]

Miller gets so overheated he makes O'Reilly seem mild mannered. Why is he so angry at Dodd? He's going "This guy had nothing" over and over, but then, why get so upset? It's that Dodd -- despite the fact that he's boring and way behind in the race -- was able to take advantage O'Reilly's high profile to gain some stature with the YearlyKos conventioneers.

Miller's attitude is that O'Reilly is so great and YearlyKos is so insignificant. He says: "That convention is a loser-fest. I mean, there are hookers who have put an embargo on that convention."

No one seems to notice that Miller is indulging in sexual humor... which is exactly what Kos did with that depiction of Bush and Lieberman that O'Reilly wanted Dodd to condemn.

ADDED: And here's a WaPo article on YearlyKos:
Last year in Las Vegas, the conference attracted 1,200 participants, including current Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.), Sen. Barbara Boxer (Calif.) and retired Army Gen. Wesley K. Clark. This year at the McCormick Place Convention Center near downtown Chicago, more than 1,500 participants are expected, including the entire Democratic congressional leadership and all the Democratic presidential candidates.
I'm surprised there is such a small increase in participants since last year. You'd think the proximity of the election and the glitziness of the guests would have much more effect. [MORE: I'm told in email that a cap was imposed on the number of participants.]

When you read that a man died after 33 days of suffering from the burns he sustained committing an attack...

Do you laugh? Does contemplating whether you rejoice in this man's suffering shed light on the question whether it is evil to believe in Hell?

August 2, 2007

"Russia Plants Underwater Flag at North Pole."

The real question has more to do with the extent of the continental shelf, but they went underwater 2 miles to plant a flag in some sort of daffy self-expression. Someone could go down there thousands of years from now and find the flag, because it's made of titanium.

Just got an iPhone.

It seems pretty cool.

"The first step must be to get off the wrong battlefield in Iraq and take the fight to the terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan."

Said Obama. "There are terrorists holed up in those mountains... If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won't act, we will."

This flung open a door to criticism:
"It is dangerous and irresponsible to leave even the impression the United States would needlessly and publicly provoke a nuclear power," Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (Conn.) said in a statement.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, in a telephone interview, said that Obama's threat, if acted upon, could inflame the entire Muslim world. "My international experience tells me that we should address this issue with tough diplomacy first with Musharraf and then leave the military option as a last resort," he said.

Former senator John Edwards (N.C.) said in a statement that he would first apply "maximum diplomatic and economic pressure on states like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia" to do their utmost to combat the spread of terrorism. He also challenged both Obama and Clinton to block a proposed U.S. arms deal with Saudi Arabia.

Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (Del.), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, called Obama's threat misguided. "The way to deal with it is not to announce it, but to do it," Biden said at the National Press Club. "The last thing you want to do is telegraph to the folks in Pakistan that we are about to violate their sovereignty."
Nothing from Hillary yet.

So has Obama convinced you he's a tough guy -- a smarter tough guy?

I have cleavage! I have cleavage! I have cleavage!

Pelosi's new cleavage reveal seems like a cool idea for defending Hillary Clinton, who recently received a lot of attention for showing cleavage while giving a speech in the Senate.

The solution is easy. It goes like this:



Come on, ladies! We can do it! We can defend Hillary from cruel prying eyes and incisive analysis of the Washington Post fashion columnist!

I fight with a newspaper editor...

... deep in the comments on this post of mine from last week.

Closeup.

DSC03701_2.JPG

August 1, 2007

Remember when Althouse always had flower photos...

DSC03701.JPG

... and vlogs?

Minneapolis bridge collapse.

Press report.
I'm watching the coverage on Fox News. Two things I noticed about it:

1. At one point, about 10 minutes ago, the on-air journalists were expressing too much excitement, to the point where we were commenting: "They're really getting off on this." Shortly after that, they toned it down. I assume someone told them to make it more solemn and respectful.

2. For about the first 20 minutes that I was watching, there was not a word about the cause of the collapse. I was surprised they weren't even saying that they didn't know the cause, and there was no speculation about whether it could have been terrorism or even any statement to the effect that there is no evidence that there was terrorism. Eventually, they said that they had heard from the Department of Homeland Security that there was no sign that this was terrorism. This made me think that there must be a news policy not to talk about terrorism except as fed information from the Department of Homeland Security.

Neanderthal...

... droog.

What will George Bush do once he's out of office?

I realize I'm not picturing him doing anything in particular. Is that a criticism, or is that how we always feel about Presidents?

"No matter what his doctors eventually tell John G. Roberts Jr., or the world... it is clear that something changed irrevocably..."

Linda Greenhouse writes:
In October, when he returns to his seat at the center of the Supreme Court bench, will colleagues and courtroom spectators see the same golden youth whose trajectory was unmarked by setback or sorrow? Or will they see someone suddenly vulnerable, with a medical condition that, while treatable and shared by millions, can still inspire fear?

Or to dig deeper, might this encounter with illness even change the way John Roberts sees himself, his job or the world?...

Could adversity temper a jurisprudence that critics of the chief justice have discerned as bloodless and unduly distant from the messy reality of the lives of ordinary people who fail to file their appeals on time?
This is like a script for a movie starring Tom Hanks or Steve Martin. A cold, bloodless man wields power over millions. One day, seemingly for no reason, he falls down and hits his head. At first, he seems all right, unchanged. Then, in October, he returns to his work as Chief Justice of the United States, and something is different. John Roberts... has a heart! Once he thought only about money and elite power, and now, suddenly, he feels the pain of the homeless, the prisoner, the poor, abused little child...

IN THE COMMENTS: Paul a'barge brings up "Regarding Henry." Bill writes:
... Harrison Ford, in Regarding Henry: successful, jerk lawyer, is shot in the head and becomes a better person.
John Stodder writes:
To you pitiful humans, it looked like a "seizure." But during those few moments, Space Agent Roberts entered a wormhole to make a 1,000-year roundtrip to his home planet to receive further instruction from the Interplanetary Council of Space Fiends. His last visit, 14 Earth-years ago, programmed him for his rise to power. His masters were well pleased with his progress, but it was only the beginning of their diabolical plan. Roberts has been sent back with a new set of instructions to prepare Earth for its ultimate fate. The changes in him are undetectable by mere mortals. Even his wife and children see the same "man" they knew before.

But there is one threat to his masters' scheme. One who through years of diligent study has developed the vision to see the truth. Today, she is a reporter for the New York Times, but soon, she will be Earth's only hope...

E! Online rumormongers about Laura Bush.

Ted Casablanca, "Gossip Guru and Writer of the Awful Truth," writes:
And as long as we’re on gals we all live for, let’s check in on that adorable Laura Bush, shall we? Now, I just gotta say I have a soft spot for the First Gal because she:

1. Has had to put up with Chief Schmuck for, like, eons now, and

2. Had the good sense—so my White House sources tell me (and, yes, I do have moles at 1600 Pennsylvania)—to remove herself from Bush’s company, as of late. Background: As I’ve said for months now, L.B. has been spending more and more time away from the White House, due to Bush’s resurrected drinking habits. The Hay-Adams is just one place Ms. B likes to hang away from official home.

But now, I'm hearing from down Tejas way that Laura-love is also avoiding their beloved Crawford ranch, as long as Dubya’s there.

“[The president] has been in residence three times over the past several months, and surprise, surprise, Mrs. Prez has not been with him on any of the visits,” sniffs Desk Horsey. This is most unusual, too, as, according to Desk H, Ms. Bush “adores the quiet life at the compound and usually the kiddos make an appearance as well.” But apparently not with the guy who’s anything but soft-spoken these days. L.B., you just biding your time till that party of yours gets another Republican in the Oval Office?

Girlfriend, I say cut your damn losses now. It’s your life. You don’t get another one, unless you’re Shirley MacLaine, or, apparently, Lindsay Lohan.
Eh. I have nothing to say about that. Just wanted you to know that's being said.

ADDED: Just yesterday, a NYT guest columnist referred to "Laura Bush’s increasingly beleaguered late-term demeanor." What does that even refer to?

"Clinton is from the traumatized generation; Obama isn't."

Andrew Sullivan has this elaborate generational analysis:
One difference between Obama and Clinton does not seem to me to have been stressed enough. They are of different Democratic generations. Clinton is from the traumatized generation; Obama isn't.
Realizing that I am from Clinton's generation, and Sullivan is from Obama's, I am instantly skeptical. Traumatized? He sees the older "generation" as suffering from a mental disorder?

I put "generation" in quotes because I think a 20-year span is needed for a generation. Calling a 10-year span a "generation" exaggerates for dramatic effect, but it does express something of the emotional distance felt (or sought). I've always felt distant from the era inhabited by my sister, who, like Hillary, is four years older than I am. Why not call that a "generation"? Then I could extricate myself from that post-traumatic stress disorder that plagues Clinton.

Back to Sullivan:
Clinton has internalized to her bones the 1990s sense that conservatism is ascendant, that what she really believes is unpopular, that the Republicans have structural, latent power of having a majority of Americans on their side. Hence the fact that she reeks of fear, of calculation, of focus groups, of triangulation.
Do we know what she "really believes"? And does she really believe something? Even if we assume she has liberal instincts, why can't she also believe that it is good to work through a process of accommodating those first thoughts to the world she encounters? I give a politician credit for pragmatism -- when it is done well. Why is "belief" so wonderful? Ideologues make terrible mistakes. Sullivan doesn't appreciate George Bush's commitment to his beliefs, so why is ideological purity suddenly so valuable?
She might once have had ideals keenly felt; she might once have actually relished fighting for them and arguing in thier [sic] defense. But she has not been like that for a very long time. She has political post-traumatic stress disorder.
Ah! The diagnosis. I feel averse to her, so I detect illness in her.
Obama is different. He wasn't mugged by the 1980s and 1990s as Clinton was.
Obama was 17 in 1980. Nothing has a greater impact on you than the way things are when you are 17. (I was 17 in 1968.) You could say that Vietnam and Nixon didn't affect him, but he was a young man in the 1980s and 1990s. That era must have affected him deeply. Did it not affect his age-mate Sullivan?
[Obama] doesn't carry within him the liberal self-hatred and self-doubt that Clinton does. The traumatized Democrats fear the majority of Americans are bigoted, know-nothing, racist rubes from whom they need to conceal their true feelings and views. The non-traumatized Democrats are able to say what they think, make their case to potential supporters and act, well, like Republicans acted in the 1980s and 1990s.
There may well be those two types of Democrats, but you haven't convinced me that they slot into two generations or that one type is healthy and the other diseased -- a theory that deserves to be called ageist. Nor am I convinced that it is unrealistic fear that motivates some liberals politicians to tone down their views in order to make themselves more appealing to voters.

By the same token, I don't believe that Obama's positions are pure expressions of true belief. He has to have thought through how to make himself appealing to voters. If he seems to be more idealistic, it may be that he's figured out that this stance works for him. Obviously, it does.

Since it's a good, pragmatic choice, there's no way to conclude he seems idealistic and proud of his liberalism because he's unafraid and untainted by the diseased thoughts of those a few years older than he is. How do you know he's not fearful of seeming less purely optimistic? One could just as well say that he's learned his lessons from the 80s and 90s. Reagan taught him the great value of getting people to think that you embody optimism. Maybe he avoids seeming to calculate and triangulate in order to distance himself from Bill Clinton (and Hillary).
The choice between Clinton and Obama is the choice between a defensive crouch and a confident engagement. It is the choice between someone who lost their beliefs in a welter of fear; and someone who has faith that his worldview can persuade a majority.

In my view, the call is not a close one.
Sullivan effuses. He loves Obama and feels aversion to Clinton. So do many others. This isn't an argument that Obama would make a better President than Clinton, but it's not a mere outburst of emotion either. He's saying that Obama will make a better candidate than Clinton, because he will -- by his faith -- inspire belief. That sounds rather dangerous, evocative of the worst things that can happen in politics. We need analysis and reason too, and I think Obama can only go so far exciting people with "the audacity of hope." The debate the other night showed how he can fall short, going for the hopeful, inspiring idea when Clinton comes forward with the more seasoned, mature, realistic analysis.

And which approach, in fact, betrays more fear that Americans are "know-nothing" "rubes"? I think the simplistic talk of hope, playing on the emotions of the listener, shows less respect for the intelligence and sophistication of the voters than a more complex, realistic presentation of the issues.

But in 2004, the Democrats lost with their dull, nuanced character, and the Republicans won with simplistic, emotional hope. Sullivan ought to consider whether -- if Hillary was "mugged by the 1980s and 1990s," Obama was mugged by the 00s.