September 1, 2007



It was a very sunny day today in Brooklyn.

I took the long way... under the train...


Out into the open...


Let's go...


Surf's up...


You know, the East River isn't a river...


It's part of the Atlantic Ocean.



This post is a coffeehouse. Have your conversation here. It's a beautiful Saturday here in New York City. I'll be back at some point with some photos, but, please, carry on without me.

"It takes a special kind of political and moral idiocy to choose such a moment to wax nostalgic for [Vietnam]."

Christopher Hitchens can't stand George Bush -- especially "his contented assumption that 'faith' is, in and of itself, a virtue":
This self-satisfied mentality helps explain almost everything, from the smug expression on his face to the way in which, as governor of Texas, he signed all those death warrants without losing a second's composure.

It explains the way in which he embraced Russian President Vladimir Putin, ex-KGB goon, citing as the basis of a beautiful relationship the fact that Putin was wearing a crucifix. (Has Putin been seen wearing that crucifix before or since? Did his advisers tell him that the US president was that easy a pushover?)

It also explains the unforgivable intervention that Bush made into the private life of the Schiavo family: leaving his Texas ranch to try and keep "alive" a woman whose autopsy showed that her brain had melted to below flatline a long time before.

Here is a man who believes the "jury" is still "out" on whether we evolved as a species, who regards stem cell research as something profane, who affects the odd belief that Islam is "a religion of peace."
But he still thinks Bush was right to overthrow Saddam Hussein. Nevertheless, he's damned sure Bush is an idiot for comparing Iraq to Vietnam.

When Huckabee pardoned Keith Richards.

Everybody is a fan:
Former Arkansas governor and now presidential candidate Mike Huckabee sounded almost indignant last week describing how police in his home state charged Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards with reckless driving back in the 1970s. When Huckabee met Richards last year, he righted that perceived wrong by pardoning the rock star. Cynics accused Huckabee of giving the famous special treatment, saying he wouldn't pardon the average citizen. To which Huckabee responded: "No, I wouldn't. . . . But here's the deal: If you can play guitar like Keith Richards, I'd do it for you."
And here's the video of Huckabee basking in his memories of Keith. Put up with the commercial, because the video shows Huckabee glowing with love for the guy and even imitating his English accent. And how often do you get to hear a presidential candidate laughing off the notion of equal justice under the law?

The blog book tour.

Oh, come on, is it any more humiliating than slogging around to Borders bookstores all over the place and hoping for a decent crowd? It's like this:
[A]n author pops up on a series of blogs, usually over days or weeks, variously writing guest posts, answering questions from the host or sitting for a podcast, a video interview or a live chat. The blogs’ readers may comment and leave more questions. Ideally, they follow links to the author’s Web site and to an online retailer like Amazon....

Many publishing houses have now hired Web-savvy publicists or outside blog tour “producers.” Some blog tour producers say they have, from time to time, paid bloggers to review an author’s book as part of a tour. Bloggers may or may not reveal this detail. Producers also say they may try to dissuade bloggers who want to post a negative review. But in general, negativity is hard to find on a blog book tour. Gushiness — on the part of authors, bloggers and readers — is not.

“Wow — I can’t begin to tell you how excited I was when Michelle Rowen invited me along to do a guest spot on the Midnight Hour,” wrote Amanda Ashby, a romance author, who, like Ms. Rowen, is a member of the Girlfriends’ Cyber Circuit, a group of about 40 authors who have blogs and regularly promote one another’s books. In this post on Ms. Rowen’s blog, Ms. Ashby was chronicling her attempt to land a publishing deal for her novel “You Had Me at Halo.”

“The book sounds fantastic and is one I’ll definitely have to pick up soon,” said a poster named Cory in the blog’s comments section.

“Thanks so much, Cory!!” Ms. Ashby responded.
Those two exclamation points say it all, don't they? You can't trust those bloggers. Unlike mainstream editors, who never calculate self-interest when they decide how negative they want to go.

"Fashion is bourgeois, girly, unfeminist, conformist, elitist, frivolous, anti-intellectual..."

Unless it's not:
Particularly in academia, where bodies are just carts for hauling around brains, the thrill and social play and complex masquerade of fashion is “very much denigrated,” [said Elaine Showalter, the feminist literary critic and a professor emeritus at Princeton.]. “The academic uniform has some variations,” she said, “but basically is intended to make you look like you’re not paying attention to fashion, and not vain, and not interested in it, God forbid."
But let's get to the meat of this article, written by Guy Trebay for the NYT, the part about Hillary:
[F]ashion is ... often used as a weapon, a club wielded by those who forget that we are saying something about ourselves every time we get dressed — not infrequently things that fail to convey the whole truth.

Why else was Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign moved to attack the fashion critic of The Washington Post for attempting to read the candidate’s clothes? The editorial blitz that followed Senator Clinton’s outraged response to some blameless observations about a slight show of cleavage on the Senate floor was instructive, as was Mrs. Clinton’s summoning up of feminist cant about the sexism of focusing on what a woman wears to the exclusion of her ideas.
For some reason, Trebay declines to name the WaPo fashion critic. (Jealous?) Anyway, of course, it's Robin Givhan. (Here's the Bloggingheads segment where I talk with Robin about the Hillary cleavage to-do.) Back to Trebay:
But clothes are ideas; to use a fashionism — Hello! Scholars like the art historian Anne Hollander have spent decades laying out the way that costume serves to billboard the self. One would have thought that few people understand this truth as well as the woman occasionally known as Hairband Hillary, who, after all, assiduously recast her image from that of demure and wifely second-banana to power-suited policy wonk, dressed to go forth and lead the free world.
Well, of course she knows, which is why her campaign mobilized against Givhan. (More Bloggingheads about that, if you're up for it.)

August 31, 2007

Sunset with schooner.

The darkest picture was taken first. This is what happens when you aim the lens right into the sun:


Staring at the sun, I only noticed the overall compositions, the framing. But there, do you see what I didn't notice?


It's the schooner! Right there in the sun's reflection on the water. We've been talking about the schooner all day. And here it is, magically sailing in my sunset photos.

Your emotional blogger breaks down and cries.

And then I wonder, will my readers tire of all these sunset photos? Why aren't we enraptured by every sunset -- and every schooner?


Why, if we've tired of sunsets and schooners, do we still hope for eternal life?

"The best thing for Romney and Giuliani would be for the White House and Congress to halt the surge and agree on a phased withdrawal."

So says Peter Beinart, but wouldn't this actually be the best thing for the Democratic candidates? Here's the reasoning (which I don't get):
[W]hen asked about Iraq, [Romney and Giuliani] talk about terrorism... [T]hey emphasize their antiterrorism toughness while keeping their Iraq views fuzzy. This gives them room to embrace a significant troop withdrawal next year once they have their party's nomination in hand.

So far, the strategy has worked beautifully. But there's a problem. One way Romney and Giuliani have evaded clear answers on the surge is by delaying the question until September, when General David Petraeus will report on its progress. Now September is here. Petraeus will probably oppose any immediate troop withdrawal, deferring any drawdown until next spring. Bush and most conservative pundits will demand that the surge continue into 2008. And Romney and Giuliani will find it harder to bob and weave...

So, what will Romney and Giuliani do if forced to finally come clean? They'll back the surge. Romney is running as the conservative candidate, so he can't alienate Iraq hard-liners. Neither can Giuliani, given his tough-on-terrorism persona. But once they back the surge, they'll get a taste of what McCain has been experiencing all year. The more they're defined by support for the war, the more Bush's unpopularity will become their own, especially among independents, the people who have turned against McCain en masse. Backing the surge will instantly weaken them in the general election, because if they do eventually pivot in favor of some withdrawal, it will look like a flip-flop.
So, let's put aside the (very substantial) consideration that the surge might work and the (also very substantial) consideration that it is offensive to think of fighting the war in the way that would help one candidate or another. Let's assume that Bush decides in the near future to end the surge and begin withdrawing troops. That helps Romney and Giuliani? They are only helped if their opponents are not helped more. It seems to me that everyone who has been against the effort to win the war will claim triumph and express deep sadness that that Bush didn't listen to them sooner. Meanwhile, Romney and Giuliani -- in Beinart's scenario -- breathe a sigh of relief because they won't have to talk about Iraq anymore. But they will! They'll be called on their failure to demand an end to the war.

"I consider this not only a personal victory but a victory for all memoirists. I still maintain that the book is an entirely accurate memoir..."

Says Augusten Burroughs after settling the lawsuit brought by the psychiatrist's family he depicted in "Running with Scissors." The terms of the settlement?
[He] agreed to call the work a "book" instead of "memoirs," in the author's note - though it still will be described as a memoir on the cover and elsewhere - and to change the acknowledgments page in future editions to say that the Turcotte family's memories of events he describes "are different than my own." It will also express regret for "any unintentional harm" to them.

Howard Cooper, a lawyer for the family, said financial terms of the settlement are confidential.
They'd asked for $2 million and for a public retraction and a statement that the book is mostly fiction. I don't know how much, if any, money they got, but they obviously didn't get the statements they wanted out of Burroughs. So their memories are "different"? Their memories could be wrong.

In fact, his publisher has released a statement saying the book is "entirely accurate."

When I read the book, I assumed it was fictionalized -- though it was called a memoir -- because what Burroughs was describing was so horrible (and funny). I'm a little sorry to hear it's true, because I feel sorry for the poor boy. I hope he's found happiness in his art (and in his life).
"I consider this (settlement) not only a personal victory but a victory for all memoirists. I still maintain that the book is an entirely accurate memoir, and that it was not fictionalized or sensationalized in any way," Burroughs said. "I did not embellish or invent elements. We had a very strong case because I had the truth on my side."

In the publisher's statement, St. Martin's called the settlement "a complete vindication of the accuracy of the memoir."
But the Turcottes are also claiming vindication:
"With this settlement... we have achieved everything we set out to accomplish when we filed suit two years ago," the family said in the statement. "We have always maintained that the book is fictionalized and defamatory. This settlement is the most powerful vindication of those sentiments that we can imagine."
Considering the nature of the agreed-upon public statement, this belief sounds like pure fantasy. So these are the people whose memories differ from the author's? They're distorting right now, in plain view!

Amba seems to think Burroughs took more of a hit, and she's laughing at the idea of the genre called "book."

"The gossamer strands, slowly overtaking a lakefront peninsula, emit a fetid odor, perhaps from the dead insects entwined in the silk."

"The web whines with the sound of countless mosquitoes and flies trapped in its folds."

Millions of social spiders weave an ever-expanding web. Are you horrified, or do you think it's pretty cool?

A sailboat at dusk.


It looks sweetly out of place.


IN THE COMMENTS: The boat is a schooner, I'm told, though it might be a ketch.

MORE IN THE COMMENTS: A former crew member stops by to tell us it's the Pioneer. Some info:
The 102-foot, nineteenth-century Pioneer is a sleek but sturdy sailing vessel made of iron and steel (the only iron-hulled merchant ship still in existence, in fact) and topped by a pair of masts reaching 76 feet. Six days a week, the Pioneer shoves off from Pier 16, on the East River at Fulton Street, for a two-hour sail from the South Street Seaport around lower Manhattan. A volunteer crew from the seaport museum skippers the ship (the route varies), and there’s room for 35 passengers. Once you’re out from Pier 16, the motors are cut, the massive canvas sails catch the wind, and you’re clipping swiftly through New York Harbor the way generations of sailors have clipped before you.... Slip past haunting old Governor’s Island (with its empty barracks and Colonial houses), under the Brooklyn Bridge (opened just two years before the Pioneer was built), and around the Statue of Liberty.
And Knoxwhirled says the first photo is so blue it looks Photoshopped. The truth is, I tweak all my photos in iPhoto, but the only thing I did to that one is straighten it a tad. It really was that blue here last night. Then, I decided to tweak it. So, here. A newer and bluer schooner has been sighted in the vicinity of this blog:


ADDED: No one noticed the allusion. I'm surprised. Someone always notices....

In New York, there's always somebody making a movie...

And what I love about it is, it makes me feel completely free to take photographs of strangers.



Who are these people who are taking over the place and behaving like celebrities? They're obtruding on my environment, so I get to obtrude on them.

I've decided to use the word "obtrude" more, because I'm reading a book that keeps using the word. I don't really know why we Americans always say "intrude" instead of "obtrude," but I note that although both words contain the word "rude," "obtrude" sounds more rude. Something about "ob."

"After months of flirting, Thompson is almost in."

Strange sexual innuendo in a NYT headline.

And, so, anyway, Thompson is almost in. He'd better get in already, because talking about him not being in is getting annoying.

"Half of working Americans (49%) have suffered or witnessed workplace bullying."

According to a new Workplace Bullying Institute/Zogby Interactive survey. (There's a "Workplace Bullying Institute.") "Bullying" is defined as "including verbal abuse, job sabotage, abuse of authority or destruction of workplace relationships," experienced "now or sometime during their worklife."

I'm shocked, really shocked that half -- half! -- of America's workers lack the perceptiveness to notice any of the verbal abuse, job sabotage, abuse of authority or destruction of workplace relationships going on around them.

I'm not shocked, however, that the Director of the Workplace Bullying Institute, Dr. Gary Namie, declares "It's clearly a 'silent epidemic." Clearly!
When bullies are women, they choose other women as their prey in 71% of cases. Bullying, or status-blind harassment, is four (4) times more prevalent than illegal, civil rights, status-based harassment. Same-gender harassment defines the two most frequent categories of bullying. Gary Namie said, "It was legal when we started the movement in '98 and it still is today."
So what do you want then, Dr. Gary? A law so people can sue when they think anyone says anything mean at work or undercuts what they're trying to do around here? Would threatening to sue under that law about what that woman is trying to do to me give that woman a basis to sue me for bullying her? I'm picturing an infinite regression of counterclaims.

By the way, the Workplace Bullying Institute has an incredibly ugly, mid-90s-style website that utterly fails to express anti-bulling values. What do two waving flags -- not to mention all that clutter -- have to do with feeling comfortable in the workplace?

August 30, 2007

"The first thing I did was drop to my knees and say a little prayer... I owe a lot of people."

We talked about Kenneth Foster's case back here. Today, 7 hours before he was to be executed, Texas Governor Perry commuted his sentence:
Thursday's vote marked only the second time since Texas resumed carrying out executions in 1982 that the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles endorsed stopping an execution with so little time remaining. And in that 2004 case, Perry rejected the board's recommendation and the prisoner, who had been diagnosed as mentally ill, was executed.


I'm moxvoxing tonight. Join us!

ADDED: Simulblogging being on the show. Currently, I'm on hold, but now I'm going on.

AND: I phased out during that long Ron Paul call.

AND: I got cut off. Trying to go back on!

NEXT DAY: Sorry for the dull simulblogging!

IN THE COMMENTS: Our regular commenter Beth objects to the line in the banner at Moxie's blog. ("An antidote to the mental illness known as 'liberalism.'") I defend Moxie on the ground that the line is meant to be humorous, and there's a lot of discussion about whether it's humorous, and Moxie comes by say that it is meant to be humorous and to coax Beth to a friendlier stance. (Is "stance" an unusable word this week?) Then Steve H. Graham drops in and says something impolite which is meant to piss off a feminist. Let's listen in to this after-midnight banter:
Steve H. Graham said...

Beth, honey, I think I know what you need. Some good hard lovin' from a meat-eating Republican he-man such as me. That is usually the problem when ladies act hysterical and/or hormonal.

Send a photo and I will decide if I can help you out.

12:08 AM

Beth said...

Meat-eating Steve,

I like my steak medium rare. But I bat for another team, so the rest of your generous offer must go unclaimed.

12:17 AM

Steve H. Graham said...

Beth, do not be so sure you are that type of girl. We thought my sister was that way, but it turned out she was merely outdoorsy.

My offer stands. And I do not mean anything crude by that.

12:41 AM

Beth said...

Steve, you may not know everything your sister gets up to outdoors.

1:21 AM

Palladian said...

Especially when sis goes camping in the Brokeback Valley, where the women go...

1:26 AM

Palladian said...

Oh, and Steve, I accept your offer of some of your raw, Republican meat. But I'm not as female as Beth, so... but who knows? You might just discover that you're more "that way" than "this way".

1:29 AM

Palladian said...

The preceding comments were meant to be humorous, by the way.

1:29 AM

New York noise/Madison noise.

There's some infernal machine grinding away at street level beneath my office. Is that always there, and am I just noticing it? Because, now that I'm noticing, it's a constant, distracting presence.

I'm telling myself it's no worse than when they crank up the lawnmowers on Bascom Hill under my UW office window....

Bascom Mall

Oh, no! Don't get homesick!

The thing is you know the lawn will get mowed and the lawnmowers will go away. But what is this noise?

I climb up up on my desk to try to get a look down to where the noise is coming from. I picture myself falling out the window, and I realize that if I did, everyone would check what I'd just been writing. Two suicide posts in the last 24 hours -- here and here -- not to mention the white hair, the diamond-encrusted skull, and the "concentration camps and skeletons." You'd all conclude I'd jumped. Damn it! Death and that on top of it.

I scramble off the desk and think about relocating to a café... a Starbucks... not an indie café like back home. I'm trying to adapt. I've accepted that it is necessary to pay for a T-Mobile WiFi subscription so a Starbucks can approximate one of my beloved free-WiFi indie coffeeshops.

But please, Brooklyn: approximate finishing mowing the lawn!

Why are we eating so much shrimp?

Shrimponomics. Not only are we eating a lot of shrimp, but we're concocting a lot of explanations for why we're eating shrimp.

Before reading the piece, let me just say that I think people think they should eat more fish, but they don't like fish, so they enlarge the concept to "seafood" and eat the one thing they like that isn't as expensive as the one thing in the category that they really like (lobster).

Reading Stephen D. Levitt's analysis:
Interestingly, women in general were only half as likely to give supply explanations as were men....
Oh, damn. Caught being a woman again!

Levitt thinks the answer is on the supply side:
I’m not exactly sure, but here is what I can glean from the Internet. A key factor is that prices have dropped sharply. According to this academic article, the real price of shrimp fell by about 50 percent between 1980 and 2002. When quantity rises and prices are falling, that has to mean that producers have figured out cheaper and better ways to produce shrimp. This article in Slate argues that there has been a revolution in shrimp farming. Demand factors may also be at work, but they don’t seem to be at the heart of the story.
Why don't they seem to be at the heart? Because Levitt is a man?

"He couldn't remember whether it had cost 10 or 15 million pounds to make."

Remember the diamond-encrusted skull, offered for sale at $100 million? Sold.
A diamond-encrusted platinum skull by artist Damien Hirst has been sold to an investment group for the asking price of $100 million, a spokeswoman for Hirst's London gallery White Cube said on Thursday....

The spokeswoman said she could give no more details of the buyer.

"Damien Hirst has retained a participation in the work -- he still owns a share of it -- in order that he can oversee a global tour of the work that is currently being planned," she added.
I'm skeptical. About the sale, I mean. What is this "investment group"? It sounds as though it's largely composed of Hirst himself. So he got the asking price, eh? Prove it.

"They want to pat themselves on the back for admitting large percentages of blacks..."

Michael Barone writes:
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has issued a report on racial preferences in law schools... [I]t finds that racial preferences for blacks actually reduce the number of blacks who become lawyers....

The report gives ammunition to those of us who have criticized [law school] administrators for preening self-righteousness. They want to pat themselves on the back for admitting large percentages of blacks but at the same time seem to have no interest at all in the percentage who actually graduate or pass the bar exam.
Barone knows enough to put the word "seem" there. He must know the law schools care deeply about the success of our graduates. But I understand his point. It's that if we really wanted the ends we care about, we ought to abandon the approach to admissions that the commission criticized.

But there is no "we" here. As Barone notes, the highest ranked law schools absorb much of the limited pool of minority applicants, and this affects the other law schools, which also want to admit minority students. The law schools are not all going to change at the same time, and we are are in competition with each other. If any school changes, others will look for ways to take advantage.

What really hurts Hillary about this Norman Hsu story.

Everyone is displaying that picture of her with him -- taken a year ago, before the image upgrade. But let's read the news -- for a change -- and not just look at the pictures:
Mr. Hsu had pleaded no contest to one count of grand theft and was facing up to three years in prison.

The travails of Mr. Hsu have proved an embarrassment for the Clinton campaign, which has strived to project an image of rectitude in its fund-raising and to dispel any lingering shadows of past episodes of tainted contributions.

Already, Mrs. Clinton’s opponents were busy trying to rekindle remembrances of the 1996 Democratic fund-raising scandals, in which Asian moneymen were accused of funneling suspect donations into Democratic coffers as President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore were running for re-election.

Some Clinton donors said yesterday that they did not expect the Hsu matter to hurt Mrs. Clinton unless a pattern of problematic fund-raising or compromised donors emerged, which would raise questions about the campaign’s vetting of donors.

Eh! I still say that photograph hurts the most.

"The New York Times editors think that the phrase 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness' is in the Constitution..."

Oops! But if it's a living Constitution, surely, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness have evolved there by now. Let's run with it! Possibly to things the NYT won't even like.

Now, what is this editorial position that needs LL&PH? Follow the logic. It begins with the realization that when the war is bad, the soldiers will go crazy:
As the Army’s suicide rate hits record levels in the Iraq war, there’s small wonder practically everyone in Congress wants to deal with the parallel emerging crisis of depressed veterans tempted to take their own lives. Everyone, that is, except Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma. He stands alone in blocking final passage of a suicide prevention bill in fear that the government’s record-keeping on troubled vets might somehow crimp their ability to purchase handguns.

Even the craven gun lobby should manage some shame over this absurd example of Second Amendment idolatry.

The House has unanimously approved a measure mandating the screening of all veterans for suicide risk, but Senator Coburn worries that veterans’ medical data might be appropriated by other agencies to deny that all-encompassing right to wield arms on the domestic front.

The senator’s office points to another bill near passage — prompted by the Virginia Tech gun massacre — that would encourage states to do a better job of listing mentally troubled individuals on the federal roll of risky gun purchasers. But tying these two measures together is itself evidence of defective reasoning, or at least scurrilous politicking. The Virginia Tech measure has nothing to do with veterans and affects only those Americans formally judged by a court to be mentally disturbed.

It is an eminently good thing that the anti-suicide measure would require medical specialists to keep track of veterans found to be high risks for suicide. But that’s to care for them as human beings, under that other constitutional right — to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Respect for the grave sacrifices by veterans requires the Senate to strike down the Coburn ploy and hurry this vital measure to President Bush.
Why stop at soldiers? Let's have the government come around and check on everyone's sanity and then track those of us who don't meet the standard! To show we care for them as human beings.

And you know, I think whoever wrote this overheated editorial -- it's full of "defective reasoning" -- is a little funny in the head. Respect for the grave responsibilities of the editors of great newspapers requires me to recommend that President Bush send medical specialists to test and keep track of them. (And bring the soma, because this is about your right to happiness.) If there is any absurd talk about the individual's right to be let alone, even the craven privacy lobby should manage some shame.

"If we had more role models like Helen Mirren and Emmylou Harris out there, more women would want gray hair."

Should women embrace the gray? That quote is from Anne Kreamer who wrote a whole book on the subject. Who reads such things? Oh, I think we know. And we know why they are published -- they are publicity magnets -- I say as I am magnetized into providing publicity.
“It feels deeply liberating to be off the treadmill of ‘Oh God, I have to get my roots done again,’” said Ms. Kreamer...
Women's liberation -- the physical, superficial kind. It's so 1970s.
[G]ray-haired celebrities [are few]. Those public figures with salt or peppered heads — George Clooney, Toni Morrison, Ms. Mirren, Anderson Cooper — tend to be preternaturally handsome people who play up their hair as a trademark feature....

In her book, Ms. Kreamer sets out to prove that an attractive noncelebrity can also remain alluring as she lets her ersatz brunette fade to gray.

The epiphany came when Ms. Kreamer, then 49, saw a photo of herself beside her teenage daughter and a gray-haired friend. She decided that they looked “real” while her dyed hair looked fraudulent.
Real? How far down that road are we going to travel?
“In one second, all my years of careful artifice, attempting to preserve what I thought of as a youthful look, were ripped away,” she writes. “All I saw was a kind of confused, schlubby middle-aged woman with hair dyed much too harshly.”
Get a better colorist! That's like becoming a nudist because you realize you have crappy clothes.

By the way, in my case, it's not a question of gray but pure white. (I always laugh when my enemies include in their attacks the lie that I bleach my hair. If I were a Yale law student, I'd sue them!) But I do occasionally think it would be interesting to see what it's like to go about with utterly white hair. It would change everything, wouldn't it? It might be an interesting bloggable, vloggable stunt. I should assign a dollar amount to it and urge PayPal contributions. Let's see: $50,000. Oh, don't balk! Kreamer is getting more than that for her scribblings.

For the annals of anorexia.

Keira Knightley. A great beauty has lost track of what beauty looks like, and that look on her face, which once would have seemed to reflect sly, knowing sexuality, now expresses -- at best -- wacky quirkiness.

Where is this woman?

I've been seeing a lot of anorexic women this year, both in Madison and New York City. I'm not talking about slender women who have dieted their way to the low end of normal, so that they look sharp and modern as their clothes hang so well on them. (Remember in "Some Like It Hot" when Marilyn Monroe expresses envy of Jack Lemmon's figure -- he's in drag -- because "clothes hang so well on you"?)

I'm talking about women who radiate ill health, who stalk about unsteadily, who make you think of concentration camps and skeletons. Their skin is withered and their arms and legs are weird shapes. This is an aesthetic that does not include the appearance of health. What does an inviting look from such a woman mean? Not join me in bed -- in the realm of life and fertility -- but join me in the grave.

August 29, 2007

Just a few museum photos.

Men look at art:


Women look at art:


Some people seek information. Some seek enlightenment. These guys were gathering decorating ideas.


I'm not assuming or stereotyping. I heard them talking about it.

I was at the Museum of Modern Art, taking photographs, like this man, who had what I thought was the most fascinating profile:


The new global warming message: eating meat is worse than driving.

Horrors! But didn't you know this already? And don't whine that this means you have to be a vegetarian. Animal rights folk are trying to make it look that way:
“You just cannot be a meat-eating environmentalist,” said Mr. Prescott, whose group also plans to send billboard-toting trucks to the Colorado Convention Center in Denver when Mr. Gore lectures there on Oct. 2. The billboards will feature a cartoon image of Mr. Gore eating a drumstick next to the tagline: “Too Chicken to Go Vegetarian? Meat Is the No. 1 Cause of Global Warming.”
But no one tells you to give up driving, only to drive less or drive a car that uses less gas. So eat meat less often and eat smaller portions.

Courtney Love warned Owen Wilson to stay away from...

When Courtney Love is telling you someone is dangerously, infectiously into drugs, that must really means something.

Anyway, I hope Owen Wilson gets the help he needs.

Here's the suicide scene from the great movie "The Royal Tenenbaums" (which Wilson co-wrote):

One week to wallow in Mac rumors.

The announcement of an announcement to be made September 5th. David Pogue collects the rumors. The one I want? It's so obvious: an ultra-light laptop.

"I intend to go to my office on the first day of classes and, if my way is barred, to engage in civil disobedience."

"If arrested, I'll go on a hunger strike. If released, I'll do it all over again. I'll fast in jail for as long as it takes." So says Paul Finkelstein, whose class "Equality in Social Justice" was canceled by DePaul University.

"Do you have cell phone face?"

Do you have cell phone face?

Do you understand this sign? Is there some beauty treatment to wipe that annoying expression off your face?

ADDED: Enlarge.

"Shouldn't we stick up for the poor guy? I can't believe it's a crime to tap your foot on the bathroom to signal that you want to hook up..."

Writes Jacob Weisberg, in a debate among Slate editors about how to handle the Larry Craig story. More:
David Plotz: I understand why they want to stop a bathroom from becoming a den of blowjobs, but this seems pathetic. Also—there is little deterrent effect in doing this generally. It is an airport, so by definition it caters to people in transit, who aren't going to know that it has become a police target.

John Dickerson: Seems to me you should have to go a bit beyond tapping your toes.

Jack Shafer: He pleaded guilty to lewd conduct.
He also stared through the crack into the stall.
Plotz: Jack, for a libertarian such as yourself to say that a guilty plea is the last word is crazy.... He is guilty—but of a fake crime. The fact of the guilty plea does not somehow end discussion. He pleaded guilty because he was scared and embarrassed about the public revelation. The problem—my libertarian friend—is that the government has put on its books a law that serves very little public purpose, and has given the police free rein to enforce it with heavy hands (and tapping feet). You should be objecting to the excessive power of the state being harnessed to create and enforce laws that serve so little purpose.
Plotz raises some good points, but he's missing the peeping aspect of the crime. You can see that "peeping" was one of the crimes charged. That is clearly defined and a proper offense. The other offense is charged was "disorderly conduct":
Whoever does any of the following in a public or private place, including on a school bus, knowing, or having reasonable grounds to know that it will, or will tend to, alarm, anger or disturb others or provoke an assault or breach of the peace, is guilty of disorderly conduct, which is a misdemeanor:...

Engages in offensive, obscene, abusive, boisterous, or noisy conduct or in offensive, obscene, or abusive language tending reasonably to arouse alarm, anger, or resentment in others.
Maybe there are some problems here. Did he have "reasonable grounds to know" that what he was doing would "alarm, anger or disturb" the police officer? I think only the initial peeping was a problem. A person who was not interested in sex should object to the first peep. It seems Craig made a series of subtle gestures and the officer let him go on. That would cause a reasonable person to think that he wasn't upsetting anyone but that his advances were wanted.

Dale Carpenter says:
Disorderly conduct is a notoriously nebulous crime, allowing police wide discretion in making arrests and charges for conduct or speech that is little more than bothersome to police or to others....

At most, Craig was implicitly inviting another adult to engage in some kind of sexual behavior in a public place. I'm not a Minnesota criminal lawyer, but I don't think asking a stranger for sex in a public place, while vulgar and rude under many circumstances, would by itself be a crime under state law. At any rate, Craig wasn't charged with that.

What really seems to have happened is that the airport police had received complaints about sexual activity and were acting over-zealously to deter it, regardless of the niceties of state criminal law. Many gay men throughout our history have felt the sting of these public decency campaigns, have been arrested for alleged sex crimes, and have pleaded guilty at unusually high rates in order to avoid the embarrassment and other consequences of being outed. When newspapers print their names, as they often do, the consequences can be devastating. Like them, Craig probably wanted to avoid publicity and pleaded guilty to "disorderly conduct" in a futile effort to save his reputation and his job. Whatever we think of Craig's views on gay rights, or of the cosmic justice in this particular Senator being ensnared in these particular circumstances, it's difficult to see how he's a criminal.
But how can you disregard the peeping charge? Here's the statute:
(c) A person is guilty of a gross misdemeanor who:

(1) surreptitiously gazes, stares, or peeps in the window or other aperture of a sleeping room in a hotel, as defined in section 327.70, subdivision 3, a tanning booth, or other place where a reasonable person would have an expectation of privacy and has exposed or is likely to expose their intimate parts, as defined in section 609.341, subdivision 5, or the clothing covering the immediate area of the intimate parts; and

(2) does so with intent to intrude upon or interfere with the privacy of the occupant.
Isn't this statute the basis for the strategy of having the police officer to wait inside the stall? And why isn't this an acceptable police practice to deal with the problem of a public bathroom that is used for sexual activity?

Captain Ed notes that Craig only pled guilty to the disorderly conduct charge. But I have to suspect that he decided to plead guilty to disorderly conduct to resolve the matter and that if he hadn't agreed to that, he would have faced the peeping charge. Captain Ed sees a way to defend against that charge: Craig was three feet away from the door and perhaps the police officer looked at him first. But he didn't choose to fight the charges. I'm not an expert on criminal law, and I would like to hear more discussion of how a good lawyer would have resolved the case for him. Isn't what he chose to do the most sensible path? And if the man is competent to be a Senator, shouldn't we assume that he looked at his options and chose what was in his best interests?

Whether Craig is gay or not is irrelevant, but I should note that Craig has made a point of telling the world he's not gay.

ADDED: I said above: "I have to suspect that he decided to plead guilty to disorderly conduct to resolve the matter and that if he hadn't agreed to that, he would have faced the peeping charge." Beldar agrees and amplifies:
Sen. Craig was almost certainly given an accommodation here by the prosecution and the court in being allowed to plead guilty to the crime that, of the two charged, has by far less social stigma attached to a conviction. Yes, disorderly conduct is a broad and vague charge — one that doesn't much seem to fit the facts alleged. But it's entirely possible that it was charged in the first place as an obvious, attractive basis for compromise, i.e., a charge with at least some factual correspondence to what happened, and upon which a more attractive plea could therefore be negotiated (especially for someone with no criminal record or other indications of dangerousness)....

[T]his plea, like countless others every day, aptly reflect[s] the litigants' well-informed judgments as to their respective risks and benefits from going to trial....

That said: Once Sen. Craig voluntarily pleaded guilty, he became guilty of disorderly conduct, conclusively and irrebuttably, under the Rule of Law as it speaks for our society. Whether he mighta, could, shoulda won if he'd fought all the way through is irrelevant, and it's unproductive to even speculate about. He has deliberately forfeited his right to even hint — ever, to anyone, for any purpose — that he was "really not guilty" of disorderly conduct in that airport men's room. That argument insults the listener (us) and only further degrades the maker (him); it is the argument of a scoundrel who thinks he's arguing to fools.
I think that last paragraph is too broadly stated, but in this case, Craig needs to find a better way to deal with his predicament.

By the say, Senator McCain has called on Craig to resign.

Leona Helmsley's will... a design for discord.

Read it and shudder:
Helmsley left her beloved white Maltese, named Trouble, a $12 million trust fund, according to her will, which was made public Tuesday in surrogate court.

She also left millions for her brother, Alvin Rosenthal, who was named to care for Trouble in her absence, as well as two of four grandchildren from her late son Jay Panzirer -- so long as they visit their father's grave site once each calendar year.

Otherwise, she wrote, neither will get a penny of the $5 million she left for each.

Helmsley left nothing to two of Jay Panzirer's other children -- Craig and Meegan Panzirer -- for ''reasons that are known to them,'' she wrote.
It's not so bad that the dog got so much money. That's soft-headed flakiness that you could find a way to accept. But dividing four siblings into the two that win and the two that lose -- that, on top of the filthily rich and tauntingly named dog, is a design for discord. It's a flashy display of the love of trouble/Trouble.

Do Craig and Meegan really know the reasons? Or must they agonize for the rest of their lives about what the reasons are? If I were Craig/Meegan the very word "reasons" would torment me for the rest of my life. Reasons? Reasons?! Within a week, "reason" would equate with arbitrariness in my mind. Within the year, I would hate reason and turn to chaos for relief.

And what of the other two siblings? Will they give some of their take to Craig and Meegan? Or will they push them away with those supposedly well-known reasons? Reasons! You know the reasons. And all Craig and Meegan have is the grim insistence that the other two visit the father's grave or all is lost. Will Craig and Meegan visit the grave? Or will poor, entombed Dad only receive visits -- only once a year -- from the two children his mother saw fit to favor -- whose motive for the visit will never disaggregate from the desire to hang onto the money.

August 28, 2007


Screams Drudge. Click on the link. Does she want a national law making cigarettes illegal or just a national law against smoking in public? Nothing of the kind!
Asked at an Iowa forum on cancer whether banning smoking in public places would be good for America, Clinton replied, "Well, personally, I think so. And that's what a lot of local communities and states are starting to do."
So she has no proposal at all and when asked, she offered her "personal" opinion and then immediately referred to state and local government, which, presumably, she sees as the right level of government for this sort of thing. She then talked about how her state (New York) has adopted a ban and that it's worked out well, and when asked about a nationwide approach, she explicitly rejected it.

Drudge triggered our fear of the Hillary Nanny State. Maybe we should be hypersensitive about what's in store for us, but her statement was outstandingly mild.

Bonus video:

ADDED: The video -- a cigarette commercial -- makes such a phallic argument for smoking. And check out the look in the woman's eyes when she finally gets to smoke. It's a crazed look I've only ever seen from the False Maria in "Metropolis."

The best right-wing episodes of South Park.

Rightwingnews chooses, specifying the targets right-wingers delighted in seeing targeted: sexual harassment laws, lawyers, Scooby Doo, churches that complain about Halloween, white supremacists, red haired, freckled people, Michael Jackson, the idea that police target wealthy black men because of race, nanny reality shows, permissive parents, ski movies, condo sales, Puff Daddy: Vote Or Die!, Jar Jar Blinks, Memphis, the French, people who don't like big business, using children in political commercials, the movie "You got served," the rainforest, South America.

"What do you think about that?"

I'm sorry I didn't get the chance to weigh in on this yesterday, but everybody's talking about Senator Larry Craig. The story:
Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) was arrested in June at a Minnesota airport by a plainclothes police officer investigating lewd conduct complaints in a men’s public restroom... On Aug. 8, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct...

After he was arrested, Craig, who is married, was taken to the Airport Police Operations Center to be interviewed about the lewd conduct incident, according to the police report. At one point during the interview, Craig handed the plainclothes sergeant who arrested him a business card that identified him as a U.S. Senator and said, “What do you think about that?” the report states....
What do I think about that? I think the fact that he did that suggests it works sometimes to get him off the hook. It certainly shows that he thinks it can and he's willing to use his power that way. He should resign for that alone.
[Sgt. Dave Karsnia, a plainclothes officer,] entered the bathroom at noon that day and about 13 minutes after taking a seat in a stall, he stated he could see “an older white male with grey hair standing outside my stall.”...

“I could see Craig look through the crack in the door from his position. Craig would look down at his hands, ‘fidget’ with his fingers, and then look through the crack into my stall again. Craig would repeat this cycle for about two minutes,” the report states.

Craig then entered the stall next to Karsnia’s and placed his roller bag against the front of the stall door.

“My experience has shown that individuals engaging in lewd conduct use their bags to block the view from the front of their stall,” Karsnia stated in his report. “From my seated position, I could observe the shoes and ankles of Craig seated to the left of me.”

Craig was wearing dress pants with black dress shoes.

“At 1216 hours, Craig tapped his right foot. I recognized this as a signal used by persons wishing to engage in lewd conduct. Craig tapped his toes several times and moves his foot closer to my foot. I moved my foot up and down slowly. While this was occurring, the male in the stall to my right was still present. I could hear several unknown persons in the restroom that appeared to use the restroom for its intended use. The presence of others did not seem to deter Craig as he moved his right foot so that it touched the side of my left foot which was within my stall area,” the report states.

Craig then proceeded to swipe his hand under the stall divider several times, and Karsnia noted in his report that “I could ... see Craig had a gold ring on his ring finger as his hand was on my side of the stall divider.”

Karsnia then held his police identification down by the floor so that Craig could see it.

“With my left hand near the floor, I pointed towards the exit. Craig responded, ‘No!’ I again pointed towards the exit. Craig exited the stall with his roller bags without flushing the toilet. ... Craig said he would not go. I told Craig that he was under arrest, he had to go, and that I didn’t want to make a scene. Craig then left the restroom.”
What a sad, pathetic scene! It's awful that public bathrooms -- especially in places like airports -- are used for sexual activity. The police have to figure out how to drive this activity elsewhere. Karsnia has a tough job, but he seems to handle it with efficiency and as much dignity as you can when it involves sitting on a toilet and letting someone watch you through the crack in the door.

Craig has a difficult moral problem if, as it seems, he has a gay sexual orientation, but he has chosen to marry a woman. Cheating on his wife and obtruding on the bathroom-going public is no way to deal with his predicament. It's especially ugly if he's taking this miserable course in order to maintain his grip on political power with an electorate that wouldn't tolerate him if he lived his life openly and honestly.

Worst of all, to my mind, is the proffering of the business card and the "What do you think about that?"

UPDATE: I see Glenn Greenwald is attacking me about the Senator Craig story:
The reaction to the Larry Craig story provides one of the most vivid illustrations yet of how the right-wing movement works. Last October, just weeks before the midterm election, gay activist Mike Rogers reported that the married, GOP "family values" Senator repeatedly had sex with anonymous men in public bathrooms. His report was based on "extensive research," including interviews with several men whom Craig solicited for bathroom sex.

As Rogers argued at the time, the story was relevant -- just as the Vitter prostitute story was -- in light of Craig's frequent political exploitation of issues of sexual morality and his opposition to virtually every gay rights bill. Rogers' story, as a factual matter, seemed relatively credible, both because of his history of accurate outings and because there is no discernible reason why, if he were intent on fabricating, he would single out someone as obscure as Larry Craig, who was not even up for re-election....

Among right-wing pundits -- weeks before the election -- there was nothing but support for Craig and outrage over the reporting of this story. The most hysterical outrage of all was from Glenn Reynolds, who went so far as repeatedly to predict -- literally -- that the country would be so repulsed by Rogers' reporting that it might actually swing the election in favor of the Republicans. More absurdly still, Reynolds cited a grand total of two reasons why he voted for GOP's Bob Corker over Harold Ford in the Tennessee Senate race, one of which was actually Rogers' report on Craig ("the sexual McCarthyism from the pro-outing crowd . . . . has convinced me that [Democrats] just don't deserve a victory with those tactics").

As usual, Bush-supporting bloggers like Ann Althouse and Patterico dutifully echoed Reynolds' line: "I truly believe this sort of tactic is going to create a backlash."
So this is a link back to something I wrote in October 2006. I have to go back and check because I don't remember writing about Craig before. Here's the old post:
"Lefty Blogger Outs Senator As Gay."

Patterico notes. Captain Ed comments.

Kos is taking a poll. "Do you agree with outing Gay Republicans?" 70% say "yes. But don't you think this percentage would change if the strategy backfires? I think aggressive characters like our "lefty blogger" think that uncovering gay Republicans will disgust social conservatives and change their voting behavior. They might also believe that they are demonstrating hypocrisy and that doing so will motivate Republicans to abandon social conservatism. I would like to see Republicans abandon social conservatism, and I'm not cheering on these slimy outings. But, honestly, I think these creepy, gleeful efforts at outing will only make social conservatives more conservative, and they will continue to look to the Republican party to serve their needs.
Well, this isn't about Senator Craig or sex in public bathrooms. (And it doesn't link to Glenn Reynolds either.) This is about the general practice of outing gay Republicans, which I find offensive. Moreover, I didn't even say that I thought this would produce a backlash. I said that lefties wouldn't use this tactic if they didn't think it would stimulate homophobia and turn voters away from socially conservative Republicans. Of course, I am hoping the tactic backfires and that the voters are not really homophobic. This is a longstanding theme here, and Greenwald either can't understand it, won't take the time to see what I'm saying, or is deliberately misstating what I say in a low, sleazy attack. Which is it?

Let's see if Greenwald apologizes and corrects his post. Now that he can see how inaccurate and inappropriate his attack is, a failure to correct is outright deceit.

Also, Greenwald's post is incredibly boring and windy. Maybe he actually can't understand things that aren't blathered about at great length. Ugh!

NEXT DAY UPDATE: Over 300 comments, and I know some of them are abusive. I'm not able to comb through and delete, so I apologize to readers who find some of this offensive. Please try harder to argue with each other in a way that doesn't involve name-calling. And don't use the F word!

August 27, 2007

"Everyone thought he was doing a skit or something, but it ended up being real.""It looked like a Shakespeare act."

Descriptions of the man who stabbed a University of Colorado student in the neck. The student had ignored the man and walked by. Would you be more likely to ignore and walk by a real crazy man with a knife or an actor doing a Shakespeare routine?

"Obama knew he should vote for Roberts' confirmation, but voted against for purely political reasons."

Beldar reads the Washington Post and paraphrases.

Elsewhere on BeldarBlog -- where baiting Senators is a way of life -- Beldar is begging Senator Kerry to sue him:
I'll waive any statute of limitations defense. I'll waive service of process. Hell, I'll meet you at the federal courthouse doors for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division (you have diversity jurisdiction), and I'll even pay your filing fee!
I love the part about diversity jurisdiction. We need more blogging about jurisdiction....

The grand entrance to the state courthouse in Brooklyn.

The entrance to the state courthouse in Brooklyn

Ten Commandments on Brooklyn courthouse

Four arguments that this does not violate the Establishment Clause:

1. Old things carved in stone should be left alone.

2. It would take an outrageous, destructive act to get rid of it, and that would send a message of hostility toward religion.

3. It is aesthetically pleasing to elite tastes -- unlike that 2.6 ton block of granite Judge Roy Moore plunked in the courthouse lobby in Alabama.

4. Moses -- whom I initially perceived as ready to crack the little people over the head with the stone tablets -- is pointing at the ninth commandment. The ninth commandment is the prohibition against bearing false witness, and that's a solid rule for a courthouse.

On the other hand... it's not stuck around back where it looks like a fast food drive-up order box. You can't portray it as part of a collection of various monuments. It's right there by the door, conveying a strong message that this is the state's idea of what goes on here.

Gonzales resigns!

NYT reports.

Mr. Gonzales's resignation is the latest in a series of high-level departures that has reshaped the end of Mr. Bush's second term. Karl Rove, another of Mr. Bush's close circle of aides from Texas, stepped down two weeks ago.

The official said that the decision was Mr. Gonzales's and that the president accepted it grudgingly. At the same time, the official acknowledged that the turmoil over his tenure as Attorney General had made continuing difficult.

"The unfair treatment that he's been on the receiving end of has been a distraction for the department," the official said.

Still trying to understand the Iraqis....

So they say they're going on vacation -- which looks awful to us -- and then... they reach the political agreement....

August 26, 2007





Downtown street collage.

Just some walls seen today.






“If he does that, he will be the greatest man in the world.”

Said King George III about George Washington:
The actual resignation of his command, having made peace between the civil and military powers of the new country -- and, in an emotional ceremony, bidden farewell to his officers on December 4, 1783 -- took place in Annapolis, Maryland, on December 23, when he formally handed back to Congress his commission as commander in chief, which they had given him in June 1775. He said he would never again hold public office. He had his horse waiting at the door, and he took the road to Mount Vernon the next day.

No one who knew Washington was surprised. Everyone else, in varying degrees, was astonished at this singular failure of the corruption of power to work. And, indeed, it was a rare moment in history. In London, George III qustioned the American-born painter Benjamin West what Washington would do now he had won the war. "Oh," said West, "they say he will return to his farm." "If he does that," said the king, "he will be the greatest man in the world."
This is from Paul Johnson's book about George Washington, which I was listening to today in audiobook form as I walked throught lower Manhattan. That last line made me break down and cry as I crossed Lafayette Street.

It was hot...


.. but not unbearable. I walked 3 miles to my destination, and I had a plan to take a cab back. But then I ended up just walking the whole way. I should have worn sunscreen. I shouldn't have worn sandals. And since it didn't rain after all, I was sorry I brought that umbrella, and that it was a really heavy golf umbrella. And I was almost sorry that I'd stopped at a store on Grand Street and bought 5 items of clothing. Buying the clothes was like a decision to take the cab. But then I didn't take the cab. Most of the way I had the shopping bag hooked on the end of the umbrella... in the style of those hobos in cartoons.

Ah, it was so much easier walking in than walking back...


New York was so crowded today...


... half the time you had to turn sideways just to go anywhere.

Oh no! That man!


He's wearing shorts!




Something to add to your "things to do before I die" list.

Impulsively buy a garish and unusual item of clothing from a street vendor... here, pick one...


... and then methodically arrange the rest of your wardrobe -- and possibly the rest of your life -- so that it fits with that item.

"Also, hate sex is especially hot... "

That's the first comment over at Volokh Conspiracy on a long, thoughtful post by Ilya Somin about whether "dating across ideological lines" is going to work.
In general, I am sympathetic to Kirchick's view that much of the reluctance to date across ideological lines stems from unjustified intolerance. However, I also have some reservations....
You get the tone of the post.
Partisans and ideologues routinely overestimate the extent to which political disagreements reflect differences in fundamental values rather than divergent evaluations of the best way to achieve the same or similar values.
Are we going to talk about the relationship like that? Forget the problem of dating someone who doesn't share you ideology. What about dating someone who doesn't share your rhetorical style?

Democrats punish Florida.

Shouldn't they be nicer to Florida?
"I understand how states crave to be first. I understand that they're envious of the role that Iowa and New Hampshire have traditionally played," said [Donna Brazile, a member of the rules committee], who was Al Gore's campaign manager in 2000. "The truth is, we had a process. . . . We're going to back these rules."

Though the DNC's action was well-telegraphed, it came after emotional pleas from state party leaders, who blamed the initial selection of the date on Republicans who control the legislature.

[Karen L. Thurman, chair of the Florida Democratic Party] said she and her staff spent "countless hours" trying to persuade the legislature to pick another date.

Jon Ausman, a DNC member from Florida, begged his colleagues to make an exception for Florida because of those efforts.

"We're asking you for mercy, not judgment," Ausman said.
Mercy?! Ha! Rules are rules!

"If the wife comes through as being too strong and too intelligent, it makes the husband look like a wimp."

So said Richard Nixon. He said that in 1992 -- I don't think "wimp" was a Nixon Era word -- when he was watching Hillary Clinton fighting for Bill.

These days, we're seeing a lot of the political wives, especially Elizabeth Edwards and Michelle Obama, but the issue isn't so much whether they are making their husband look wimpy, it's how they are being used, because they are women, to attack the female candidate. Supposedly, they can say things that might seem sexist coming from a man. But there's certainly something sexist about thinking Hillary belongs in a debate with the women! If Elizabeth and Michelle want to be such active debaters, let's see them have an argument with Bill.

"The more power Drudge has attained, the more reclusive he has become. Drudge seems to despise his own fame with a Kurt Cobain–like intensity."

Did you see this huge article in New York Magazine about Matt Drudge?
On radio he speaks of himself as a nobody and has referred to his fans as “psychic vampires.” He has utterly compartmentalized his life, separating the personal and the public. Acquaintances describe very brief, formal encounters, and even friends of Drudge’s, if there is such a category, generally communicate with him by IM....

Drudge enjoys the changing fashions in news, the plot shifts that he has a hand in engineering. As he’s entered middle age, something noir and futuristic has entered his sensibility, more Philip K. Dick (on his show, he often invokes Blade Runner) than Walter Winchell. The site is obsessed with global warming, with the dangers of cell phones and cloning, with all manner of tabloid horrors. He’s a storyteller, and the stories are dark....

The left hates Drudge for good reason; he has helped kill one Democratic presidential aspirant after another and has started in on John Edwards this season....

Republicans can’t count on Drudge. He praises Rosie O’Donnell and Michael Moore for their independence and fight, and seems to despise Giuliani and McCain....

Drudge has a sneaker for the woman he calls “the Senatress.” When Clinton started wheezing and coughing in a speech in New Orleans in May, Drudge expressed genuine concern for her. “Hillary, dear, take care of yourself. We need you. I need you personally … Take a few days off, what’s this frenetic pace?” He added admiringly, “She was professional. She kept going. She finished the speech.” After a left-wing listener IM’d Drudge to say he wanted Hillary to drop dead onstage, Drudge said, “I need Hillary Clinton. You don’t get it. I need to be part of her world. That’s my bank. Like Leo DiCaprio has the environment and Al Gore has the environment and Jimmy Carter has anti-Americanism … I have Hillary.”
Much more at the link -- including plenty of speculation about Drudge's sexuality.

"If certain things happen between now and the election, particularly with respect to terrorism..."

What's the rule about talking about the way a terrorist attack might affect the presidential campaign? On Thursday, Hillary Clinton said:
It's a horrible prospect to ask yourself, 'What if? What if?' But if certain things happen between now and the election, particularly with respect to terrorism, that will automatically give the Republicans an advantage again, no matter how badly they have mishandled it, no matter how much more dangerous they have made the world," she said.

"So I think I'm the best of the Democrats to deal with that as well," she concluded.
Of course, her Democratic opponents exploit this opportunity to attack her. The bland Senator Dodd said it was "tasteless." Senator Edwards calculated that the best thing to say is that we should never engage in "political calculation" when the subject is terrorism. They're concerned about America's vulnerability to attack, but they are also concerned with their own vulnerability to attack. They must realize that Clinton would be the stronger candidate for the Democratic Party if a terrorist attack occurs before the election. Since the party will have determined its nominee long before the election, there are many months when something might happen, and yet it will be too late to switch to a more hawkish nominee.

It's not really a question of whether it's calculating or in bad taste to talk about how a terrorist attack might affect the race. It's a question of which candidates see political advantage in asking voters to visualize the election under changed circumstances and which ones would like to soothe us into thinking only in terms of existing conditions. Clinton is prodding us to think about what a good candidate she will be in different situations that may develop over the lengthy campaign season. The others don't want to talk about that because they look worse in these imagined scenarios.

So here we see how Clinton has played a shrewder, more complex game all along. Doesn't this suggest not only that she will be a more capable candidate, but also that she will operate more effectively in foreign affairs if she becomes President? In this view, fretting about taste and calculation seems rather childish. I want a President who can calculate and is not afraid to say tough things at the right time.

Brooklyn sunrise.

Brooklyn sunrise

6:13 a.m.

Brooklyn sunrise

6:16 a.m.