September 8, 2007



ADDED: The time stamp on this post shows when I drafted it, but I didn't put it up until the next morning. I had to see this news first.

"I want to see you game boys..."

Let's talk about this quote from Theodore Roosevelt...


... which is inscribed on a wall at the American Museum of Natural History. And even though I went there today, it is not one of the answers to the question posed in the previous post. I've been to this museum many times. And I did way too much today, but if a 7-year-old boy can do it, I will do it.

But here's another thing to occupy your mind. Here are the white rhinos (diorama style):


Now, look at those nostrils and think of them as mouths. What freaky alien creatures!

2 things that I lived in New York City for 10 years without doing...

I did today with visitors who dropped in for less than 2 days.


An awful lot of the commentary on the new bin Laden tape is saying: He sounds like a Democrat. That's the meme from nonDemocrats. But let's not go over that already well-worn ground. Let's read what Josh Marshall has to say:
I don't gainsay the danger or destructive power of the man. I still remember Rick Hertzberg's quote just after 9/11 that the attacks were as brilliant as they were evil. (This is from memory: so I may have the precise words wrong. But he well captured the way in which the horror and evil of the attacks were matched by their diabolical ingeniusness.) But as an articulator of a vision, an expounder of "Islamofascism," or whatever the new trademarked word is now, he's about as coherent and comprehensible as a 9th tier blogger or one of those whacks sitting on a stoop in Union Square talking about fascism and Texas oil barons before they get overcome by the shakes or decide to start collecting more aluminum cans.

If my predictive powers are still working right, I'm sure I'll catch flack for taking such a mocking attitude toward this man who has so much American blood on his hands. But this, I think, is only the flip side of the vaunted perch we insist on giving him, a insistence that is a paradoxical part of Bushism. They are tacit partners in creating the world in which we now live.
From me, you're going to first catch flak for writing "catch flack."
“Flak” is WW II airman’s slang for shells being fired at you in the air, so to catch a lot of flak is to feel in danger of being shot down. However, most civilians these days have never heard of “flak,” so they use “flack” instead, which originally meant “salesman” or “huckster.” You need to worry about this only if you’re among old-time veterans.
When you're showing off your expertise about fighting a war, you ought to get your war imagery right. A flack is a press agent. Hacks -- "writer[s] hired to produce routine or commercial writing" -- know more about flacks and not so much about flak, but they need to try not to let it show.

And as for "I don't gainsay..." I've expressed my feelings before:
I don't know about you, but when I'm reading a judicial opinion and run into the phrase "It cannot be gainsaid..." I feel a sense of revulsion... almost dread. Why is the judge (or clerk) writing like this? Why the sudden desire to sound like a fusty old gasbag? I start mistrusting everything....

Supreme Court justices have only used the word 113 times in the entire history of the Court, but more than 70% of these were since 1950. It was only used 18 times before 1900. (There are also 59 occurrences of "gainsay.") I mention these details because they bear out my suspicion that this is sheer pretension, a modern person's idea of how to sound like you came from the 19th century. I'm irked that the modern Justices ever affect a 19th century tone, and I'm further irked that they lack an ear for it.
So when a blogger -- who has so much more reason to write in a crisp, modern style -- uses that expression, it means so much more. It is beyond sheer pretension, beyond fusty old gasbaggage, beyond revolting and irksome. It's not surprising that Marshall goes on to write in a weird pseudo-archaic style with locutions like "he well captured the way" and "the world in which we now live" and jocose, verbose images like "a 9th tier blogger or one of those whacks sitting on a stoop in Union Square talking about fascism and Texas oil barons before they get overcome by the shakes or decide to start collecting more aluminum cans."

And by the way, I can understand slamming bloggers, but the assumption that there are tiers of bloggers is awfully hierarchical, especially coming from Marshall, who is, of course, a first tier blogger. Why the snobbery? Plenty of bloggers with small audiences write very well and convey subtle thinking. How liberal-minded is it to look down on people with less traffic? And what sort of liberal sneers about mentally ill street people?

Then there's: "the flip side of the vaunted perch we insist on giving him, a insistence that is a paradoxical part of Bushism." I like to think that a "vaunted perch" is a fish that you brag about. Feel free to start a blog -- a 9th tier blog -- and call it "The Vaunted Perch." And put a fish in the banner:

I mean I can picture a fish -- either a highly praised or a viciously reviled fish -- flipped over. But if it's a perch of the sort normally found clutched by birds' feet...

... then flipping it over... what would that do? Come to think about it, fish of the perch type looks about the same flipped over. If you want to flip over a fish and have it make a distinctive difference, you should start with a flounder:

And try not to flounder through your next post. Don't founder on your own "ingeniusness" -- whatever that is.

"Hillary wants withdrawal bill..."

"Hillary wants withdrawal bill with teeth."

I'm getting some scary vagina dentata imagery out of that Kos headline.

Hillary wants withdrawal, Bill. With teeth!

The Hagel fizzle.

Chuck Hagel gives up -- his Senate seat and his presidential ambitions.
He has become a leading Senate voice on foreign policy, promoting a pragmatic approach of reaching out to allies and adversaries alike to build economic, social and political relationships.

A decorated Vietnam combat veteran, Hagel drew the most attention for his break with the Republican president on Iraq.

Early this year, his frustration erupted after Bush announced plans for a troop buildup to try to curb violence in Iraq. Hagel labeled it "the worst foreign policy blunder since Vietnam - if it's carried out."

That and other criticism triggered a backlash from some conservatives, who viewed him as disloyal to the Republican president and potentially jeopardizing troops abroad.

Hagel didn't relish the attacks. He explained how Vietnam had a big impact on his view of this war. He recalled Congress' silence during much of Vietnam, as well as the 58,000 Americans who died. He said he didn't want that history to repeat itself.

"I'll be damned if I'm going to stand there and accept the status quo and let it all happen again," he said.
If the surge were a disaster, he would have gotten traction. Fortunately, it's not.

An addition to the night skyline.

Skyline with memorial lights

Last night.

September 7, 2007

"Liberate yourselves from the deception, shackles and attrition of the capitalist system."

So says Bin Laden, who has the audacity to still be alive. He's lecturing us, informing us that Islam requires his side to fight, so the only solution is for us to convert to Islam. We've liberated ourselves from "the slavery of monks, kings and feudalism," so now it's time to liberate ourselves all the way and convert to Islam.

Watching a bit of TV.

I keep forgetting to blog about TV. Am I watching anything (aside from that debate the other night)? Well, I'm still following "Top Chef," and, being a "Project Runway" fan, I had to check out "Tim Gunn's Guide to Style."

Speaking of style, Tim Gunn may have style sense when it comes to fashion, but a TV show needs some style too. He's great on "Project Runway," where he's offset by lots of other characters, but look how they built a show around him! They paired him up with Veronica Webb, who is incredibly stiff and dull. And there are no contestants, just a makeover target. On the show I watched, this unbelievably uninteresting woman was shown over and over doing one of two things: acting demure and modest or getting excited about all the fabulous stuff they were giving her. Here she is failing to project her essential femininity and here she squealing and clapping and saying things like "wow."

The worst part was in the end, when our made-over darling performed a fashion show in her living room for her family and friends. Her husband presented her with a new engagement ring -- something the show gave him to replace the crappy engagement ring that was all he could afford when they actually got engaged. He couldn't get insulted when they displaced the ring he bought for her. He had to be all sobby and grateful and then do a little re-proposal at the end of the fashion show, blabbing irrelevantly about how much he loved her, which he obviously did -- whether she was wearing jeans and T-shirts or the little dresses that the show insisted she wear to highlight her feminity.

Then, predictably after much foreshadowing, they made a big deal of her mother showing up. That part was almost funny, because obviously they knew the mother was on her way, but they put on the fashion show without her, and then they made a big deal about the big surprise they were about to reveal, and I really think the woman thought she was going to get more material goods. Then, the doors flew open and it was just mom. It's not as if she hadn't seen mom in ages. Mom had just had "an operation." Yeah? For what? You know if it was cancer, they'd have said. It was probably something entirely undangerous. But it wasn't funny, because it was idiotic manipulation, trying to make us cry over absolutely nothing.

And I adore Tim Gunn. I can't watch his horrible show. I await the new season of "Project Runway," but it will be "Project Runway" without Tim Gunn. Oh, the tragedy of TV spinoffs.

Does Fred lack luster?

I know CNN is trying to make it look like he does. But maybe he does. The worst problem for Fred Thompson presenting himself as the candidate to beat the Democrats is that he's another Senator.

The other night when I was listening to the Republican debate and the candidates were asked about Thompson, I thought Giuliani was changing the subject at the end of his response, switching from talking about Thompson to taking a shot at the Democrats:
I like Fred a lot. I think Fred is a really, really good man. I think he’s done a pretty good job of playing my part on "Law & Order." (Laughter.) I personally prefer the real thing, and -- but I think Fred will add something to this race. But I think this is a nomination you have to earn, though.

Nobody’s going to give it to you; nobody’s going to glance it to you; nobody’s going to crown you.You’ve got to go out there, like these gentlemen have done, and I’ve done. You’ve got to -- you’ve got to meet people in Iowa and New Hampshire and all over the country. You’ve got to work hard for this.

And finally I think it’s going to come down to experience. This is not a time that the United States should be electing someone who’s going to get on-the-job training. You need people with executive experience.

And my real concern is you have three leading Democratic candidates, none of which have ever run a city, a state or a business. (Cheers, applause.) And this is not -- this is -- America’s at war. America’s got some big problems. It’s not the time for on-the-job training as an executive.
He wasn't changing the subject. He was saying: The Democrats with a chance (not Richardson) are all Senators. So we shouldn't put up a Senator against a Senator. Preserve the ability to attack the opponent because she (or he) has only been a Senator.

"For Thompson, Goal Is to Don Reagan Mantle."

Who is Don Reagan Mantle?

September 6, 2007

"Larry Wachowski's purported sex change is right up there with 'Paul Is Dead' and the 'Beaver Died in Vietnam.'"

So, no, it's not true.

My neighborhood Italian restaurant played only Pavarotti tonight.

Here. (The tagliatelle with bolognese sauce was yummy. And the waiter was terribly handsome.)

The Althouse blog meetup.

If you want to get together with me and various readers/commenters -- including Palladian -- email me for the time and place. My email address is annalthouse with the usual gmail ending.



A loftier contemplation of architecture and anatomy.



ADDED: People take the trouble to go to a museum -- this is the Museum of Modern Art -- and then reveal how much more interested they are in the world outside the museum than the art. Look at how everyone goes for the windows and ignores the sculpture.

AND: To be fair, there was sculpture to be seen once you got up to the window and looked down:


But that doesn't explain everyone congregating at the window and no one hanging around the sculptures in the room. I think people were utterly magnetized to the window and the view of outdoors.

But the sculpture in the courtyard is by Richard Serra. Here's ground-level view:


AND: The Serra sculpture is vulviform.

About that architecture.

Given my history of writing about symbolic representations of the female anatomy and even, specifically, vulviform architecture, I'm getting a lot of email about this picture Glenn Reynolds posted yesterday. But he's talking about that Instapundian thing: outer space. Over here, we've got other things to talk about.

Ron Silver endorses Rudy Giuliani.

Good timing for the brilliant actor. I love that guy. He was terrific at the 2004 Republican Convention. ("We will never forget. We will never forgive. We will never excuse.") I completely identify with this:
[H]e is still a registered Democrat, and Mr. Silver told his convention audience that he has not disavowed the left's social agenda. But at the moment he represents a particular slice of the American political spectrum: voters who put national security before ideology...

"I'm a 9/11 Republican," he said. "If we don't get this right, all the other things don't matter worth a hill of beans. I'll live to fight another day on health care, environmental concerns and sensible gun legislation. But this is such a predominant issue that it towers above all others, and I'm not certain both parties are capable of handling it the right way."


"Clearly Sen. Craig is watching TV and making decisions based upon what he sees."

Says "a top Senate GOP aide."
"We want to make sure that he understands that we think he’s resigned. There is no question that our leadership wants him to stand by that decision."
Larry Craig's life is all about the ambiguous, deniable signals. Get used to it!

Fred Thompson tells Jay Leno he's running for President.

That's the part before the commercial break. Afterwards, he takes a strong stance on... Ack, can't say "stance" anymore. In fact, Leno does a little bit showing Fred bumper stickers, and one's got the slogan "He has a narrow stance." Anyway, Fred takes a strong position on Iraq: He supported the war and he will stay there until we get the job done. He's tough on Iran too, and we get a nice taste of how he's going to talk to us folksy style: "They've got a fella who is not put together well upstairs running the country."

Leno reminisces about the good old days when John Kennedy was President and somehow we did things that made everyone around the world love us. How can we make everybody love us again, Fred? Fred says when you're the strongest country in the world it "goes with the territory" that people aren't going to love you, but "our people have shed more blood for the liberty and freedom of other people in this country [sic] than all the other countries put together." This gets big cheers from the audience. "I don't feel any need to apologize for the United States of America." Jay stammers charmingly in his high-pitched voice about how he wants to be loved, and Fred deeply intones about blood and sacrifice.

ADDED: Here's the transcript. And here's the one thing that made me laugh out loud:
JAY LENO: Now, if you ‑‑ Giuliani, Romney, McCain ‑‑ which of those guys is the toughest opponent? Which do you fear the most?

FRED THOMPSON: I don't know. I know them all to a certain extent. John McCain and I sit side by side on the Senate floor. He's a good friend and will be after this is over with unless, of course, he beats me.

"By the time Baghdad fell on April 9, 2003, the Iraqi Army had simply dissolved."

Paul Bremer writes to set the record straight:
The decision not to recall Saddam Hussein’s army was thoroughly considered by top officials in the American government. At the time, this decision was not controversial. When [the coalition’s national security adviser, Walter Slocombe] held a press conference in Baghdad on May 23 to explain the decision, only two reporters showed up — neither of them Americans. The first I heard of doubts about the decision was in the fall of 2003 after the insurgency had picked up speed.

Moreover, we were right to build a new Iraqi Army. Despite all the difficulties encountered, Iraq’s new professional soldiers are the country’s most effective and trusted security force. By contrast, the Baathist-era police force, which we did recall to duty, has proven unreliable and is mistrusted by the very Iraqi people it is supposed to protect.
By contrast:
Dead Certain: The Presidency of George W Bush, by Robert Draper... suggests Mr Bush was unaware the Iraqi army was to be broken up by Paul Bremer, the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, in May 2003, a decision seen as one of the biggest post-invasion mistakes as it put hundreds of thousands of armed men on the street.

The president told Mr Draper that the policy was to keep the Iraqi army after Saddam's fall. For some reason, it "didn't happen", he said.

Luciano Pavarotti.


September 5, 2007

Debate tonight.

I'm actually noticing in time to watch. These things are so elusive. And it was not easy to figure out the time and channel. But I have ascertained that it is on FoxNews at 9 ET. So maybe I'll be simulblogging (AKA "liveblogging"). Haven't done that in a while. Fred won't be on. He's oozing into the competition via Leno later tonight. How absurd.

9:02. Wow. I haven't done this in so long! Don't expect me to be as detailed as in the past. This will be done in real time and will contain... whatever the hell I'm in the mood to type.

9:04. The first question is about Fred Thompson. Was he smarter than you guys? Brit Hume asks. You've been dragging yourselves around on the campaign, and this guy comes waltzing up now and gets to be in second place. Brit is basically taunting them, but he's giving them a chance to take a shot at Fred. They get to portray themselves as hardworking, close to the people, and generous about accepting a new competitor. Giuliani is going for a balder look. And, going last, he also uses his time to take a shot at the Democrats: You have 3 leading Democratic candidates, none of whom have run a city, a state, or a business.

9:13. Immigration. Huckabee is pushed on his accusation that opposition to immigrants is, to some extent, racist. He acknowledges that statement and says: "If people are looking for a President with a mean spirit, I'm not their guy." After Huckabee, Ron Paul yells about "the rule. of. law." I'm appreciating Huckabee's mildness.

9:25. We've got to rebuild the family, says Sam Brownback. In fact, he says "family" about 20 times. Oh, they seem to be talking about Larry Craig. "When our guys have problems like this, they leave," says.... hmmm.... not sure who that is. [ADDED: It's Hunter. I'll never memorize his face.]

9:28. Abortion is "without question the taking of a human life," says Mitt Romney, but the rights of women matter too. Huckabee is invited to explain what Romney just said. He declines and speaks (mildly but firmly) about his state's human life amendment.

9:33. I can't stand Ron Paul. He's cantankerous. Anyway, before RP got cantankerous, Giuliani did a nice job of claiming superheroic powers to stop crime. They cut away to a restaurant to take statements from regular citizens. That's supposed to add texture to this scintillating event, apparently. But we're on our way to a long commercial break, so go get something to eat, because all you'll be missing is Sam Brownback going on about the decline of the family again.

9:42. Mitt dithers about Iraq, and McCain follows on with "The surge is working. The surge is working." He makes a strong statement on Iraq and gets good applause. Chris Wallace asks Ron Paul about the bloodbath that would follow the withdrawal of troops. RP says those who are saying "bloodbath" are the same people who said all sorts of other wrong things about the Middle East. We ought to get out and mind our own business. Big cheers from the audience. We are invaders, violators of international law.

9:58. A man in the diner addresses Mitt Romney. How dare he compare his sons' working on the campaign to men serving in the war? Romney blandly says there's no comparison and moves on to his more general policy statement on the war. Stylistically, Romney is limited. He didn't reach out to that man. He just disqualified what the man said.

10:05. Giuliani again. Haven't seen much of him. He's asked about Guantanemo. He says we can't close it, because there is nowhere to send those detainees. No one will take them.

10:21. A polisci major in the restaurant wants to know what Guiliani thinks about "family values." He asks us to look at his real, public accomplishments, not his private life. He goes back to the subject of managing New York City.

10:27. Ron Paul is raving again. The subject is Iran. He seems to think the President has no power but must go asking Congress whether there's a threat to the United States. Tancredo: "We don't immediately use the button." Man, he sounds nervous. "Political correctness is going to kill us all." He really seems to be struggling. I feel a little bad for him. Not that bad though. Why is he wasting our time? Now, Huckabee is being very sensible -- and general -- about how seriously he would take the job of President. Well, I should think so. But he sounds like a giant among men after Paul and Tancredo. Giuliani invokes Reagan: He won the Cold War without firing a shot, but he aimed "like a thousand" missiles at the them. McCain has the last word.

10:39. Ah, it's over.

10:40. Here's what I think. Get Hunter, Paul, Tancredo, and Brownback out of there. Huckabee, McCain, and Giuliani are serious and have a lot to say. Sit them down at a table and let them talk to each other. With Fred. Gotta bring Fred in too now. Let's go into a new stage of the campaign. It's really wearing to sit through Paul's ravings and Tancredo's fumblings and Hunter's blahness and Brownback's family, family, family. Enough.

IN THE COMMENTS: It's pointed out that I left Mitt Romney out in that 10:40 final comment. I guess that means something...


Last night.




How a judge ends an argument.

By sending you to jail.
Judge John Bayly Jr. said he acted because the PD, Liyah Brown, argued over with him over whether her client was homeless—and kept on arguing even when he told her to stop...

Bayly explained himself to Julia Leighton, the general counsel of the public defender service, saying Brown was like a terrier who wouldn’t let go of a bone.

"She was oppositional and defiant,” he told Leighton. “Not in an unpleasant way, you understand, you know, but she just defiantly refused what I said to do, which was to stop talking."

"I hope to... work with the alternative people, all the so-called riffraff, to give them legal representation that is not judgmental."

Eak the Geek goes to law school.

Posing with the bridge.

A police helicopter poses with police officers and a tiny motorcycle:


Just something I saw today in Brooklyn Bridge Park. I don't have the backstory. A graduation photo?

People love to pose with the bridge. Planning the next shot:







"This smacks a little of desperation, and it's very unlike Apple."

Apple slashes the price for iPhone.
"It will absolutely help sales - but at what cost?" asked Tim Beyers, an analyst at The Motley Fool research and investment group. "People who bought the iPhone weeks or months ago must really be annoyed, and with good reason they might think twice about being the first to buy future Apple products."
Eh. I'm not annoyed. I love my iPhone. If you don't have one, get one!

"We see it every time in our store. Women head straight for the fiction section and men head for nonfiction."

Pesonally, I prefer nonfiction, but here's an article about how it's women who read fiction, men who read nonfiction. Take a wild guess whether the article -- from NPR -- makes women sound superior. There's an absurd assumption that what women do is best, which creates the bogus problem of how to get men to do what women do. Why don't we worry that women aren't informing themselves about history, politics, and science? Supposedly women naturally get absorbed in empathizing with fictional characters. Something about our "mirror neurons" being more "sensitive." Sounds sketchy, but anyway, what's the problem? Male or female, if fiction turns you on, read fiction, if not, don't. We've stopped trying to cure people of their sexual orientation. Why should we look for cures for intellectual orientation?

For me, it boils down to, women read their porn, while men watch theirs.

If men got their 'jollies' (I mean erotic escapist fantasies) from books the way some women do, I'd bet those fiction/non-fiction gender differences numbers would level out.

According to this 2004 AP story, 40% of fiction book sales in the USA are romance novels.

Same article claims a remarkable leap of male readership from 7% in 2002 to 22% in 2004, citing Navy Seals as being big fans of a particular series of romance novels featuring Seals as one example of the changing type of romance fiction and the audiences they are attracting.

That jump in sales to men happens to correspond to a lot of young men being deployed overseas to places where the military prohibits possession of pornography (and alcohol, too, our troops are ordered to behave like better muslims than the people in the countries they're rebuilding). Real porn is prohibited and punishment meted out if found on base in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait (though keeping young men from their porn seems ill advised and impossible in the internet and digital media age), those troops are forced to get their porn (at least their non-illicit porn) the way many women do, through novels.

"'This is a very weird question, but bear with me. But are you around a lot of popcorn?'"

"His jaw dropped and he said, 'How could you possibly know that about me? I am Mr. Popcorn. I love popcorn.'"

2 walls in Williamsburg.

Wall with skull:

Wall with skull

Wall with child's face:

Wall with child's face

"Whatever right the Second Amendment guarantees, it does not require the District to stand by while its citizens die."

The District of Columbia's petitions the Supreme Court to review the case that struck down the city's ban on handguns.
"No other provision of the Bill of Rights even arguably requires a government to tolerate serious physical harm on anything like the scale of the devastation worked by handguns," the petition states....

The court ruled that the Second Amendment "protects an individual right to keep and bear arms" and that "once it is determined -- as we have done -- that handguns are 'Arms' referred to in the Second Amendment, it is not open to the District to ban them."

The court acknowledged that its decision was groundbreaking; only one other federal appeals court -- that of the 5th Circuit, based in New Orleans -- has recognized an individual's right to gun ownership, and it nevertheless upheld the federal gun-control law at issue. Nine other circuits around the country have endorsed the collective right.
Given that split, it's likely the Court will take the case.

Picture it: your airplane has mechanical problems.

And the airline sacrifices two goats to win favor from Akash Bhairab, the Hindu god of sky protection:
Nepal Airlines said the animals were slaughtered in front of the plane - a Boeing 757 - at Kathmandu airport.

Humor News Probably Written By Men.

Men who have willfully estranged themselves from women who say "That's not funny."

So let me just say: Guys, that's not funny.

"Apparently Mr. Bush loves doing imitations of Dr. Evil from the 'Austin Powers' movies."

How ingenious.

What lines does he use?

"Why must I be surrounded by frickin' idiots?"

"Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to my underground lair. I have gathered here before me the world's deadliest assassins."

"When Dr. Evil gets angry, Mr. Bigglesworth gets upset, and when Mr. Bigglesworth gets upset people DIE!"

"My father would womanize, he would drink. He would make outrageous claims like he invented the question mark. Sometimes he would accuse chestnuts of being lazy."

I'm picturing this, when anyone is bringing him bad news:

September 4, 2007

"Iowa, for good reason, for constitutional reasons, for reasons related to the Lord, should be the first caucus and primary."

Okay. Richardson: Officially crazy.

IN THE COMMENTS: Some people are saying this was humor, in the style of Letterman or Reagan. (Take your pick.)

UPDATE: Richardson attempts to explain his remark:
"Look, that was an off-the-cuff comment where I said Iowa and New Hampshire should be first.''

When pressed further, he said Iowa should launch the primary calendar because "it's a tradition in American politics that has worked.''

"Iowa scrutinizes candidates through a grass-roots state. They are very good at winnowing down candidates,'' he said. "They don't listen to national polls. Iowa voters are very independent and issue-oriented.''
So, he's not going with the humor theory. He's got nothing, really.

Come back, Larry!

Fight it!

Now, it gets interesting!

Drudge dredges up the best-ever photo of Hillary.


"Men want hot women, study confirms."


ADDED: And women will judge you by your kiss.

She's the moderator, and she can't get a word in edgewise?

WaPo weeps for Whoopi, who kept getting "shouted down" by Barbara Walters, Joy Behar, and Elisabeth Hasselbeck on "The View." Ridiculous. It's obvious that the reviewer, Lisa de Moraes, just doesn't like the style of the show, which involves a lot of fast chatter and talking over. If Whoopi Goldberg doesn't want to put in the effort to keep up with the banter, why did she get the big job? Quit bitching the regulars and ask why Goldberg is coasting!

[Bad link fixed.]

Souter wept.

Repeatedly. Over the Supreme Court's decision in Bush v. Gore, according to Jeffrey Toobin's forthcoming book "The Nine."
For many months, it was not at all clear whether he would remain as a justice. That the Court met in a city he loathed made the decision even harder. At the urging of a handful of close friends, he decided to stay on, but his attitude toward the Court was never the same."

That sounds overblown to me. Is Souter such a fragile character? Or do you think it would be noble for a man in his position to weep over what he saw as the degradation of the institution he loved.

"Seeing my heart for the first time is an emotional and surreal experience."

"It caused me so much pain and turmoil when it was inside me. Seeing it sitting here is extremely bizarre and very strange."

How do you earn points on the government's Health Miles card and what can you buy with those points?

Yesterday, we were talking about John Edwards' proposal to require Americans to go to the doctor for preventive physical and mental health care. Today, I see this proposal for restructuring national health care in Britain:
In a bid to ease spiralling levels of obesity and other health concerns, a Tory panel said certain treatments should be denied to patients who refuse to co-operate with health professionals and live healthier lifestyles.

And those who do manage to improve their general health by losing weight and quitting smoking, for example, would receive "Health Miles" cards.

Points earned could then be used to pay for health-related products such as gym membership and fresh vegetables.
Oh, Lord. And these are the conservatives. Someone tell Edwards.

Health Miles, eh?

I'm picturing a whole weird future where we trade in government-granted points. Just tell me what you want me to do to get them and what I can buy with them. The parties could compete. One candidate says we should get points for having sex and writing blog posts and lets us spend them at ecologically correct resorts and restaurants that serve organic food. The other candidate is offering points for abstaining from sex and reading didactic books and lets us spend them on vitamins and memory foam beds. It will be endlessly engrossing, and after a while, you won't even be able to remember what you actually like or want anymore.

"Sarko the American."

AKA "The French Giuliani."

"'You can't possibly figure out the history of the Bush presidency -- until I'm dead.'"

"George W. Bush slipped a piece of cheese into his mouth."

Yes, I'm reading "Dead Certain," by Robert Draper, which just came out today. And those are the first 2 lines of the Prologue. Why does Draper start that way?

We get the basic proposition that Bush is playing for the good opinion of history or that that's his excuse anyway for the low opinion in the current polls. We get the surprise in the second clause that it's Bush himself speaking, and Althouse laughs to see her President referring to himself in the third person. We get the expression of perplexity: it's impossible to figure things out as they unfold in the present. And we get the image of a dead Bush -- so pleasing to Bush haters, yet so acceptable because it's Bush himself conjuring up the image of the dead Bush. And "dead" is one of the two words in the title of the book.

Althouse, are you going to simulblog your reading of this book sentence by sentence, with that unhealthy level of stream of consciousness?

You never know! Look out. This blog could go years reading a book that way. But perhaps that is the direction a blog like this will take. Keep reading.

Are you telling us to keep reading the blog or telling yourself to keep reading the book?

Mmm. Well. There's some perplexity in figuring that out. Let's go on to the second sentence.

"George W. Bush slipped a piece of cheese into his mouth."

There's something so loathsome and slovenly about slipping a piece of cheese into one's mouth.

Did Draper really remember the exact point in the 5 days of transcripts when Bush slipped cheese into his mouth? And how long did Draper search for the mot juste and come up with "slip"? What went through his mind? Surely, it wasn't anything about the way Bush actually put the cheese in his mouth. I bet he popped it in. Why would he slip it in? Because he was just too lazy to open his lipless orifice any more than a thin slot? Or is Draper shaping our malleable brains for what he's about to slip in like a piece of cheese?

-- it reminds us of all the slips Bush has made. Slip it in -- that's sexual innuendo. Bush is screwing us!

And why cheese? It's that bland, fatty fare so widely consumed in the parts of the country where they don't notice when Bush is screwing them.

It's a slang term:
In modern English slang, something "cheesy" is kitsch, cheap, inauthentic, or of poor quality.
Like the Bush presidency.
One can also be "cheesed off"— unhappy or annoyed.
As we are with the Bush presidency.
Such negative connotations might derive from a ripe cheese's sometimes-unpleasant odor.
Bush stinks!
Almost certainly the odor explains the use of "cutting the cheese" as a euphemism for flatulence, and the term "cheesy feet" to mean feet which smell.
Bush cut the cheese! [ADDED: On page 9, we're informed of Bush's "farting on the plane," as an aspect of his "realness," which made the politicos love him in 1999.]
A more upbeat slang use is seen in "the big cheese", an expression referring to the most important person in a group, the "big shot" or "head honcho."
That would be Bush.
This use of the word probably derived not from the word cheese, but from the Persian or Hindi word chiz, meaning a thing.
"Cheese it" is a 50's slang that means "get away fast."
Impeach him!
A more whimsical bit of American and Canadian slang refers to school buses as "cheese wagons," a reference to school bus yellow.
Bush is dumb.
Subjects of photographs are often encouraged to "say cheese!", as the word "cheese" contains the phoneme /i/, a long vowel which requires the lips to be stretched in the appearance of a smile.
We can only smile fake smiles now because of Bush. We are so glum these days that without artificially stretching our mouths, we can only slip in tiny bits of sustenance.
People from Wisconsin and the Netherlands, both centers of cheese production, have been called cheeseheads. This nickname has been embraced by Wisconsin sports fans — especially fans of the Green Bay Packers or Wisconsin Badgers — who are now seen in the stands sporting plastic or foam hats in the shape of giant cheese wedges.
Go Badgers! Where's my hat?

Althouse, are you capable of reading a book anymore?

You can't possibly figure that out until I'm dead.

ADDED: As the Prologue continues, Bush does proceed to pop cheese into his mouth. Page x:
He had flung himself into his chair like a dirty sweatshirt and continued to pop pieces of cheese into his mouth. Stress was hammered into his face.
Aw, come on now. Why does the sweatshirt have to be dirty? And why flung? We're given a sense of his carelessness -- just from the way he lounges or sprawls in his chair. (How was Draper sitting? Did Draper drape himself across the chair?)

And note the violent imagine of hammering into his face. But Bush is not hammered. He hasn't had a drink in 20 years -- page xiii -- though he still remembers "the feeling of a hangover," and he realizes he wouldn't be President if he'd kept drinking: "You get sloppy, can't make decisions, it clouds your reason, absolutely." Good point!

Anyway, back to the food. While slipping/popping cheese -- eschewing the menu -- Bush orders a hot dog.
Bush ate rapidly, with a sort of voracious disinterest. He was a man who required comfort and routine.
You can tell a lot about a man by the way he eats his hot dog.
The food even falls out of his mouth as he talks about Iran. He speaks "through an ample wad of bread and sausage." An ample wad of bread and sausage? That sounds dirty. And not like a sweatshirt flung on a chair.


Define it!

Surf's up: Brooklyn.

Why is there a surf shop in Brooklyn?


I've said it before: the East River is part of the Atlantic Ocean. Look at a map. (I know some people don't have maps.) But if you have a map, look at it, and you'll see that both ends of the so-called river connect to the Atlantic Ocean.

Further proof:

"I expect this from the guy that we get out of the hood."

Said Sgt. Dave Karsnia to Larry Craig -- yes, it's another Craig-tagged post -- and Dale Carpenter, at Volokh Conspiracy, penned a crisp post accusing Karsnia of racism:
It seems to me that the phrase, “the guy that we get out of the hood,” is an implied racial reference. It refers specifically to blacks, though one could say the officer meant to refer only to young black men from the ghetto who, in the officer's view, are prone to commit crimes.

Either way, it’s still race-specific in a case that otherwise has no obvious racial dimension. To shame Craig into telling the truth, the officer could have used a different example, like, “I expect this from some punk we get off the street.” Or, “I expect this from some low-life, but not a Senator.” It’s also fairly clear from the context that the officer is not associating blacks with bathroom cruising, but with dishonesty and "disrespect" toward the police.
This leads to a fascinating comments thread about the word "hood," including this from "anonymous":
How many of you VC posters listen to rap? For nearly twenty years, most rap / hip-hop music has been sold to white males under the age of 25. In the same way that so many of them appropriated the baggy pants of "the hood" (without having any idea why baggy pants have an advantage in the hood but not in the suburbs), they also appropriated the language, and refer to their neighborhoods as "the hood" and their friends as "homies" or "homeboys".

Just because in your rarified [sic] pseudo academic imaginations the phrase "the hood" has racist connotations, it does not follow that most users of the phrase (who are white and use the phrase self-referentially) also use it with racist overtones. Get out of the ivory tower and talk to people who live real lives.
And Sarah says:
.. I think the cop meant "you're lying in the way that lower-class people -- the sort of people you probably think commit most crimes -- do." I'm sure he was trying to conjure generic, Jerry Springer-esque, "40 of our high schools now offer daycare to teen moms," bars-on-the-windows, stolen shopping carts, 'this is why we wrote that 3-strikes law,' high school dropout images. Whether they were black (or whatever) people in the Senator's mind wasn't as important as the social and economic trappings surrounding them -- and the cop got a "I'm not that kind of guy!!" response, just as he'd hoped. The message was "fine, upstanding, non-criminal citizens such as yourself would do themselves credit by Acting Like A Man and admitting to everything." It's another version of the "if you've got nothing to hide, you'll let us do X" tactic, which only works on people who think of themselves as decent.
Much more at the link, including some puzzling over whether the cop might deliberately use a racial term not because he is racist, but because he assumes the person he's talking to -- here, a white, conservative Idahoan -- is racist.

"What most people do when they see a law being broken: go get a cop."

That's a line from a piece by Arianna Huffington, which complains about the sting that got Larry Craig arrested in an airport men's room.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not wild about walking into a public restroom and seeing a couple using the a stall for something other than, as Sgt. Dave Karsnia, the arresting officer in the Craig case put it, "its intended use."

But that is not what Larry Craig did. If he had, someone in the restroom could have done what most people do when they see a law being broken: go get a cop.
So -- in Arianna's world -- if you have an airport bathroom that's become a notorious place for gay sex, you don't need to station an undercover cop inside to catch anybody and deter the behavior, you can just hang back and wait for the bathroom-goers to see the sexual beharior and to do what "most people do." These busy travelers will officiously run around the airport looking for a cop. That doesn't sound to me like the way "most people" react to sleazy quality-of-life crimes. I think most people would be disgusted, immediately leave the bathroom and plan to avoid that bathroom -- and maybe that airport -- in the future.

Even assuming that men going to the Minneapolis airport bathroom would go searching for a cop, the cops in the airport should be a paying attention to other things, not dealing with a very particular problem that has nothing to do with airport security. Yet Arianna says:
And as it happens, since Craig was arrested in an airport, presumably there were plenty of law enforcement officers nearby looking for, you know, real threats -- like explosives or folks on a Watch List.
And you want to take them off that task to go after some guys having sex in the bathroom (who'd probably be gone by the time he arrived)? How on earth is that better than using a police officer like Karsnia who is trained for a specialized task?

But Huffington thinks Karsnia's job is simply ridiculous:
It's unsettling that more people here in the land of the free aren't at all discomfited at leaving it up to the prognostication skills of Sgt. Karsnia and his crack team of B-men to determine what crimes people might have committed if not for the mind-reading and daring-do [sic] of Minneapolis' Special Forces Bathroom Unit.
What other public servants with difficult jobs -- imagine training to be a cop and then getting assigned to sit on a toilet all day -- does the imperious Arianna Huffington think deserving of her mockery?
Is sending Sgt. Karsnia into the men's room to spend all day trying to get other men to look at him and tap his foot really the best way to use our limited law enforcement resources?

And just how much money is Minneapolis/St. Paul spending on sting operations like this one? Just since May, 40 men have been arrested on allegations of illegal sexual activity at the same airport. And how much taxpayer money in total is being allocated across the country by local police to protect us from people whom the Sgt. Karsnias of the world think might, at some point, commit a crime?
I'm not an economist, but it seems to me that the sting is cost effective. One police officer, carrying out very few arrests, ruins the reputation of this bathroom as a place for sex encounters. That bathroom is in the state's most important airport, a hub of commercial activity. Minnesotans have a huge interest in maintaining the quality of their international airport, and travelers have endless opportunities to choose other routes when they dislike an airport. I would speculate that Karsnia's work probably produced a large net benefit to taxpayers.

"You'd have to be an idiot to fall off... If anyone can make a pig's ear of riding a sophisticated, self-balancing machine like this, Dubya can."

You'd have to be an idiot to attempt to ride a self-balancing machine like this after saying a thing like that, because if you should happen to fall, you'd be the laughingstock of the world.

WaPo columnist overwhelmed with meaninglessness....

... on contemplating the death of Princess Diana. It seems that Anne Applebaum, being English, felt she had to write something about the 10 year anniversary of the death of Diana.
[T]he genuinely bizarre aspect of the all-consuming Dianamania that gripped Britain a decade ago this week is how slight a trace it has left. The royal family is pretty much the same, only quieter...

Nor have there been political repercussions. It didn't take long for Britons to tire of Blair's Diana-like emotionalism (some would say Diana-like manipulativeness).
10 years is not long? Here in America, we're committed in advance to being sick of every President after 8 years. We can't consider putting up with a leader for 10 years even hypothetically.
His sober replacement, Gordon Brown -- a man whose name rarely appears in print without the adjective "dour" -- is already more popular. Brown's government is dominated by technocratic types with furrowed brows and by sensible centrists, such as his plain-jane home secretary, Jacqui Smith: No sign of touchy-feeliness there.
Jacqui Smith! The last time I heard about her, WaPo fashion columnist Robin Givhan was comparing her show of cleavage to Hillary Clinton's -- and finding it "a full-fledged come-on." Now, I don't know what to think of Jacqui Smith -- or the U.K. Is it a place where an exuberant show of cleavage is regarded as staid?
One could argue that Diana's truest legacy is the screaming emotionalism of the British tabloids -- except that it long predates Diana and actually helped create her in the first place....

Ironically, nowhere does Dianamania seem more irrelevant than in the place that was meant to be its shrine. Last summer I happened to find myself at the Diana memorial at Althorp, her family's estate....

There was the original, handwritten version of the speech her brother, Charles, gave at her funeral -- framed behind glass and lit as if it were the Magna Carta.

Visitor numbers are way down from 1997, and no wonder: The whole thing feels rather irrelevant. Human beings naturally try to give deeper meaning to pointless tragedies -- even where no meaning is to be found.
Did the columnist trek to Althorp and feel cold and grouchy, or is it really true that the death of Diana caused a fever, which spiked and died away?

CORRECTION: Applebaum is not British! She did, however, write "Like most Britons, I can remember where I was when the BBC announced...."

September 3, 2007

The dog.

What is this amazing creature?


Spotted underneath the Manhattan Bridge today.


ADDED: I'm told this is a Great Dane. Unusual color, isn't it? Amba tells me it's called "blue merle." Who's Merle? The dictionary says it may come from the word "merle," meaning "blackbird." Are we supposed to see the spots as birds? And for those who noticed -- of all things -- that the woman is using a laptop, let me point this out:


Readers, commenters...

Do you think we could get together a group meet-up here in Brooklyn?

New York blue.




John Edwards: "you can't choose not to go to the doctor for 20 years."

Edwards' universal health care proposal ignores individual autonomy:
"It requires that everybody be covered. It requires that everybody get preventive care," he told a crowd sitting in lawn chairs in front of the Cedar County Courthouse. "If you are going to be in the system, you can't choose not to go to the doctor for 20 years. You have to go in and be checked and make sure that you are OK."...

Edwards said his mandatory health care plan would cover preventive, chronic and long-term health care. The plan would include mental health care as well as dental and vision coverage for all Americans.
So, the mental health check is mandatory too? Why does he not even realize how bad that sounds? He's so warmed up about the generous benefits he's promising that he doesn't even hear the repressiveness in his own statements. I'm sure he won't be able to deliver on these promises. I'm just wondering about a person with so little sensitivity toward personal freedom.

Somehow, this reminds me of a sign I saw the other day:


For more commentary, start here. And I predict Edwards will, within a day, chide us for misunderstanding what he meant by "require" and that "require" doesn't mean you'll be forced, only that the big bad medical establishment will be required to provide.

ADDED: This idea of screening everyone's mental health reminds me of the proposal we were just talking about to screen military personnel. There was a NYT editorial:
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.
I'll ignore that goof about the Constitution this time and just quote this reaction of mine:
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.
That was my sarcasm, but Edwards is talking about really doing it!

MORE: Concurring Opinions has some sort of pincer theory that attacks me. Whatever. The real question is who ought to be worried if the government starts tracking our mental health.

"Selecting Daddy's top foreign-policy guru ran counter to message. It was worse than a safe pick -- it was needy."

Karl Rove said to George Bush about Dick Cheney -- according to Robert Draper's new book "Dead Certain: The Presidency of George Bush." So much for Rove being Bush's brain.
When Rove, President Bush's top political adviser, expressed concerns about the [nomination of Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court], he was "shouted down" and subsequently muted his objections, Draper writes, while other advisers did not realize the outcry the nomination would cause within the president's conservative political base.
Now, this is surprising:
It was John G. Roberts Jr., now the chief justice of the United States, who suggested Miers to Bush as a possible Supreme Court justice, according to the book. Miers, the White House counsel and a Bush loyalist from Texas, did not want the job, but Bush and first lady Laura Bush prevailed on her to accept the nomination, Draper writes.
But a spokesperson for Roberts denies the report. And there's no clear source for this in the book's footnotes. Seems like a juicy but dubious book. I'm going to guess that Roberts said something about Miers but that it was far from a recommendation that she get the position.

"Her atheism was not like mine."

Christopher Hitchens versus Bill Donohue re Mother Teresa.

Newsbusters highlights the part where Donohue asks if Hitchens wants to "take it outside" because it's missing from the MSNBC transcript. Also missing from the transcript is the last word out of Hitchens mouth, which amused me. At the end of the whole heated debate, Donohue gets off his last line "The only people that do not have doubts today are dogmatic atheists, people like you, Chris." Hitchens mutters "Christopher."

I enjoyed watching this exchange, not only because I'd listen to Hitchens talk about anything, but because Donohue keeps up the pressure, baiting Hitchens. Hitchens always seems angry, but he keeps it at a controlled seethe, and Donohue is doing his damnedest to get him to boil over. Twice, Donohue taunts him about the physical dimensions of Hitchens' book about Mother Teresa: "the thing against her, five and a half inches by eight and a half inches long, 98 pages, not a single endnote, not a single footnote, not a single citation," "your 98 page book, five and a half by eight and a half inches long—you have no citations." And, although it only appears once in the transcript, Donohue repeatedly says "an Englishman has to be quiet when an Irishman talks." Twice, Donohue pulls out the old line about how it's the atheists who are dogmatic.

Hitchens maintains his seething control and won't get distracted into reciting citations or explaining why atheists are not dogmatic. He keeps the focus on Mother Teresa, and his new approach is to claim her as a fellow atheist and to express sympathy for her as a victim of the church:
She tried her best to believe. Her atheism was not like mine. I can't believe it and I am glad to think that it is not true, that there is a dictator in the heavens. So the fact that there is no evidence for it pleases me. She really wished it was true. She tried to live her life as if it was true.

She failed. And she was encouraged by cynical old men to carry on doing so because she was a great marketing tool for her church, and I think that they should answer for what they did to her and what they have been doing to us. I think it has been fraud and exploitation yet again....

Because of the opportunist chance that Mother Teresa offered them for publicity, [the Church] failed to restrain someone who really should have been seeking proper help that she never got. Instead, they exploited her to the very end and even gave her an exorcism, as you know. The archbishop of Calcutta has admitted it. He even had to give her an exorcism in 1997, because they had so much despair of her state of mind. It‘s a cruel exploitation of a simple and honest woman....

[The C]hurch... has an answer for everything. If you can‘t believe it, if it all seems to be radically untrue, nonetheless, faith will square that settle for you. She was trying for that. But as we now know, she failed. It can‘t be done. You can‘t make people believe in the impossible. All you can do is make people feel very guilty that they can‘t make themselves believe it.

Bush in Iraq.

A surprise visit.

ADDED: More here:
Administration officials said that Mr. Bush had made the decision to travel to Iraq along with Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates to meet face-to-face with General Patraeus and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki because it was his last chance to do so before completing a review of his Iraq strategy.

"He has assembled essentially his war cabinet here, and they are all convening with the Iraqi leadership to discuss the way forward," said the Pentagon Press Secretary, Geoff Morrell. "This will be the last big gathering of the president before the president makes a decision on the way forward."...

Though Mr. Bush and General Petraeus had met as recently as last week by video hookup, the seemingly last-minute nature of the trip and the array of top officials from both governments who attended did not mean there were deep disagreements among President Bush’s top advisers about strategy in Iraq, they said....

Mr. Bush has been touting developments in Anbar recently and wanted to meet with Sunni sheiks who have formed alliances with the United States this year. Some of the tribal leaders he is expected to meet with were likely involved in operations against American forces before switching their allegiences.

September 2, 2007

Eating cat.

For the good.

ADDED: Some people in the comments are quite upset by the idea of eating feral cats -- in Australia, where these animals do tremendous ecological damage. It seems to me that if you accept meat-eating and have no problem with Australians eating, for example, rabbits, that you should want to encourage the eating of feral cats. We're not talking about eating anyone's pet. If the animal isn't a pet, it's like other wild game. And since these cats are nonnative and effective predators of native species, these should be the first animals you should want Australians to use for food.

At the junk shop.

I love a good junk shop, with items expressively arranged. This one, found in Williamsburg, in Brooklyn, expressed something unsettling:




Much of the store was full of furniture that looked like the things that seemed elegant to my mother-in-law in the 1970s. I had to try to imagine someone who didn't have those associations putting this items in a hip, ironic context, and yet... maybe that was more depressing.

But I got extremely absorbed by a stack of Life magazines from 1960. Each issue plunged me into an amazing, weird world that I'm old enough to remember as real and normal. I found it endlessly entertaining. This -- comparing "old" and "new" creamed corn -- made me laugh hysterically:



I bought two old issues, one with a cover photo of John Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey campaigning in Wisconsin and another with a smoldering closeup of Sal Mineo staring into the eyes of his "Exodus" co-star. Of course, Kennedy in Wisconsin appealed to me, but why the Sal Mineo? What tipped me toward the Sal Mineo issue was that there was an entire illustrated article about the guiche. And don't Google that word to find out what it means, because that's not what it meant in 1960.

ADDED: From the December 12, 1960 issue:
The Guiche


Being on top of the new fashions this winter, at least in Paris, means literally starting at the top. The latest in hairdos is the guiche -- which means "curl" -- a sharp twist of hair curving forward over the cheek. Usually worn with smooth, short hair, sometimes so sort it is a shingle, the new style completely outdates last season's full, big-headed look....

The guiche must be set securely and separately from the rest of the hair... Clear nail polish is sometimes used to keep its razor edge and cellophane tape will keep it in place overnight. For those whose hair won't behave, false guiches cost only $6 a pair.
There was a shortage of hair products then. Nail polish... cellophane tape.... You know there is special hair tape now, but back then, we really did stick plain, shiny Scotch tape on our face to hold the piece of hair out over the cheek.

John Lennon's famous jukebox.

Here's a documentary about it. And a Metafilter discussion.

I was eager to see which singles Lennon chose. There are many interesting observations you could make about the list, but thing that most struck me is that -- with one exception -- there are no female singers. So who is the one woman who made it into John Lennon's Jukebox?

"Edward Gorey watched television for the first time this summer... and in the process the 53-year-old artist became a 'Star Trek' fan."

Shaenon K. Garrity reads an old newspaper article, which says the artist has taken to watching "Star Trek" reruns 11 times a week and has yet to catch "The Trouble With Tribbles." Inspired, Garrity draws "The Trouble With Tribbles" in the style of Edward Gorey. 


(Via Drawn!, via Metafilter.)

Dogs of Williamsburg.



"Self-pity is the worst thing that can happen to a presidency. This is a job where you can have a lot of self-pity."

President Bush said to Robert Draper, whose book "Dead Certain" comes out on Tuesday.
Telling Mr. Draper he likes to keep things “relatively light-hearted” around the White House, “I can’t let my own worries — I try not to wear my worries on my sleeve; I don’t want to burden them with that.”

“Self-pity is the worst thing that can happen to a presidency,” Mr. Bush told Mr. Draper, by way of saying he sought to avoid it. “This is a job where you can have a lot of self-pity.”

In the same interview, Mr. Bush seemed to indicate that he had his down moments at home, saying of his wife, Laura, “Back to the self-pity point — she reminds me that I decided to do this.”...

In response to Mr. Draper’s observance that Mr. Bush had nobody’s “shoulder to cry on,” the president said: “Of course I do, I’ve got God’s shoulder to cry on, and I cry a lot.” In what Mr. Draper interpreted as a reference to war casualties, Mr. Bush added, “I’ll bet I’ve shed more tears than you can count as president.”
Yes, a powerful person cannot express self-pity. It just doesn't play. It brings on -- as it should -- hoots of derision. It fuels satire and contempt. We know Bush contemplates the similarity between Iraq and Vietnam, and he must, then, think about whether he seems like Richard Nixon. Nixon was always trying to use self-pity in the public sphere, and it was always a ridiculous disaster.

In a newly released 11-page memorandum, Nixon plays self-pity to an absurd extreme:
... Nixon, in his own words, went "far beyond any previous president in this century in breaking our backs to be nicey-nice to the Cabinet, staff, the Congress, etc., around Christmastime in terms of activities that show personal concern, not only for them, but for their families."...

[T]his is a president who is troubled that his humanity is not being harnessed for his re-election campaign. "There are such little things, such as the treatment of household staff, the elevator operators, the office staff, the calls that I make to people when they are sick, even though they no longer mean anything to anybody," he writes...

"No president," he continues, "could have done more than I have done in this respect and particularly in the sense that I have treated them like dignified human beings, and not like dirt under my feet."...

"To sum up," he writes, "what is needed is to get across those fundamental decencies and virtues which the great majority of Americans like -- hard work, warmth, kindness, consideration for others, willingness to take the heat and not to pass the buck and, above all, a man who always does what he thinks is right, regardless of the consequences. ... In almost two years, none of this has gotten across ..."