December 1, 2007

New York versus Madison.

In New York, we've got this glorious sunset skyline:


But in Madison, I've got my own hawk on a telephone pole:


When will they arrest you in Wisconsin for commenting on a blog?

Here's the news from West Bend:
An Oak Creek High School teacher who allegedly praised the actions of the Columbine School shooters and threatened local teachers on a Web site blog was arrested Thursday. The 46-year-old Cudahy man was arrested with the assistance of Oak Creek and Cudahy police departments after West Bend police were notified of a threatening post on Nov. 16.

The actual blog [sic, blog comment], posted at 6:50 p.m. and provided in a release by the West Bend Police Department, states: “Looking at those teacher salary numbers in West Bend made me sick. $60,000 for a part time job were you ‘work’ maybe 5 hours per day and sit in the teachers lounge and smoke the rest of the time. Thanks God we won on the referendum. But whining here doesn't stop the problem. We've got to get in back of the kids who have had enough of lazy, no good teachers and are fighting back. Kids like Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold members of the Young Republicans club at Columbine. They knew how to deal with the overpaid teacher union thugs. One shot at a time! Too bad the liberals rip them; they were heroes and should be remembered that way.”

The man, who admitted to posting the message, was arrested and a search warrant was served at his home. He is in custody at the Washington County Jail and charges of disorderly conduct and unlawful use of computerized communication systems will be referred to the Washington County District Attorney’s office. The Cudahy man has no previous arrest record that the police department is aware of, according to a statement.
Unlawful use of computerized communication systems? Are you wondering about the scope of that crime (in case you might want to rein in your comments around here)? It's part of the law against stalking, here. (Wisconsin statute, § 947.0125 — scroll down to "Unlawful use of computerized communication systems"). It's not limited to threats of violence. It even covers a person who "[w]ith intent to frighten, intimidate, threaten or abuse another person, sends a message on an electronic mail or other computerized communication system with the reasonable expectation that the person will receive the message and in that message uses any obscene, lewd or profane language or suggests any lewd or lascivious act." That's a tad overbroad. It's a Class B forfeiture if someone "[w]ith intent solely to harass another person, sends repeated messages to the person on an electronic mail or other computerized communication system." Apparently, repeating yourself is a crime around these parts.

The man who was arrested did not even direct his message at a target. He merely posted an overheated political statement saying that a certain sort of person — not even named individuals — ought to be shot.

Now, another angle here is that the blogger — Owen of Boots & Sabers — provided the police with the IP address of the commenter. The police contacted him after someone saw the comment and filed a complaint, and Owen "assumed that [the police] would find him, chew him out a bit for being an idiot, and leave it alone."
At first blush, I think [the arrest is] a gross overreaction for a comment left on a blog. Yes, the comment was idiotic and over the top, but it hardly constitutes a direct threat to anyone. It was explained to me that it was not believed that the commenter had any intent to harm anyone, but that the mere presence of a comment appearing to condone such violence had to be punished because it might encourage someone else to engage in violence against schools....

It appears to me that the commenter is attempting to do one of two things. Option 1: the commenter is a right wing whack job that isn’t violent, but likes to engage in outlandish rhetoric. Option 2: the commenter is a liberal who is trying to discredit conservatives by acting like option 1.

As you can see from the story, the commenter is actually a union teacher from Oak Creek, but it gets more interesting than that. The commenter was also once the president of his local teachers’ union. This leads me to believe that Option 2 is the truth. This commenter is just a liberal union teacher who was trying to make conservatives look bad by pretending to be one and acting like an imbecile.
Oh, no! It would be funny, except that it's not at all funny. The guy doesn't deserve to be arrested.

In a later post, Owen considers whether he should have voluntarily turned over the IP address and decides that he feels "no obligation whatsoever to protect commenters’ information from law enforcement," and he, understandably, is averse to having some stupid comment on his blog draw him into a problem with the police. But do you think, considering how much this law burdens free speech, that we ought to say no when we think there is no credible threat or serious harassment aimed at a particular individual? I'm not knocking Owen for what he did, because he was caught off guard and, it seems, somewhat intimidated by the police himself.

Can you read an on-line magazine formatted like this?

The NYT's new "TMagazine" drove me up the wall. I just can't see it. I feel like it's constantly flying away from me with all that animation. I can tell that they tried to make something beautiful and innovative, but it's profoundly irritating.

AND: Why would you want an innovative fashion magazine that is not visible on an iPhone? What is better fashion than an iPhone? Why would you tolerate that disconnect?

"Don’t worry, O blessed ladies, no woman is ugly to her own husband; she was pleasing enough when she was chosen."

So wrote Tertullian in “Women, Wear a Veil," quoted in Umberto Eco's new book "On Ugliness." There is logic to the veil scheme: Men will be satisfied with their wives as long as they have no other women to compare them to, and women should accept the suppression so that each one can maintain her grip on her husband. It requires everyone to live a life of visual deprivation, so that no one sees anything that might make him want what he does not have. You are never challenged to resist temptations, and to make it easy to avoid sexual pleasures, you have to give up all the visual pleasures that could easily be yours.

"Pat Robertson can say anything he wants about anybody. He has advocated the assassination of Hugo Chavez..."

"... and called for the city of Orlando to be destroyed by meteors and tornadoes. But when Adam Key makes a comment, he gets kicked out of school."

Key is a law student who had a Facebook page with a picture of Robertson looking like he was giving the finger. Robertson is the president of Key's law school, Regent University, and Key got a 2 year suspension. He's now suing in federal court:
Key’s suit also alleges the school defamed him and violated his right to free expression, required under requirements of the Higher Education Act for schools that receive federal funds. It also claims he was “fraudulently induced” to enroll at the school on the basis of Regent’s assurances that it allowed religious liberty and free speech.

Did yesterday's hostage crisis teach us anything about Hillary Clinton?

You might think we got a chance to see how she deals with a crisis, but that's not really so. She had no executive authority in the matter. The local police had to handle the situation. We did get to see how she looks upon a crisis from a distance — or, at least, how she allows us to look upon her looking upon a crisis from a distance:
When the hostages had been released and their alleged captor arrested, a regal-looking Hillary Rodham Clinton strolled out of her Washington home, the picture of calm in the face of crisis.
Well, once the hostages were released, it wasn't even a crisis anymore, but what does it mean that she looks held-together when she strolls out for a photo-op?
The image, broadcast just as the network news began, conveyed the message a thousand town hall meetings and campaign commercials strive for - namely, that the Democratic presidential contender can face disorder in a most orderly manner.
Oh, good lord, she was not facing disorder. The hostage-taking was over, and even when it was going on, she was not facing it. She was waiting for law enforcement authorities to deal with a troubled man, which they did, without anyone suffering a physical injury. 

Did she do anything? Other than canceling her appearances — which she had to do to show decent sensitivity — she made a lot of ineffectual phone calls. For 5 hours, we're told, she "continued to call up and down the law enforcement food chain, from local to county to state to federal officials." She says, "I knew I was bugging a lot of these people."

Afterwards, she used the occasion to make a show of her emotions (or did you think she was cold and mechanical?). She said:
"It affected me not only because they were my staff members and volunteers, but as a mother, it was just a horrible sense of bewilderment, confusion, outrage, frustration, anger, everything at the same time."
Is that what you want in a President? Someone who feels extra confusion because she's a mother? 

But I don't believe that for one minute. I think that was just what was considered a good script. I don't happen to think it is a good script, because I don't want a President to roil into a mommyesque ball of emotion when a few people are in danger. Yet that's not Hillary. The only question is why she thought a statement like that was a good one. She probably wanted to make sure not to confirm the widely held belief that she's unemotional, and, while she was at it, delight all the ladies out there who lap up emotional drivel.
It was a vintage example of a candidate taking a negative and turning it into a positive. And coming just six weeks before the presidential voting begins, the timing could hardly have been more beneficial to someone hoping to stave off a loss in the Iowa caucuses and secure a win in the New Hampshire primary.
Oh, great. Let's just hope there aren't copycats out there ready to turn their despondent drinking binges into a day of fame that helps their favorite political candidate.

The attack on the Wisconsin gay marriage amendment moves forward.

A Wisconsin state court has held that UW polsci prof William McConkey has standing to challenge the ban on gay marriage and civil unions that was added to the state constitution. McConkey argues that the referendum that approved the constitutional amendment violated the state constitutional provision because it contained two questions merged into one. But does McConkey have standing to bring this issue to the court?
McConkey, who described himself as a "Christian, straight, married" father of nine and grandfather of seven when he filed the lawsuit, is not directly affected by the ban on gay marriages or the ban on civil unions. But [his lawyer Lester] Pines argued that the proposed amendment violated the Wisconsin Constitution because voters had to endorse either both concepts in the question or neither, and therefore were deprived of their rights to oppose one or the other.

ADDED: Simon of Stubborn Facts looks at the complaint and makes a strong argument that the McConkey is wrong on the merits of the case.

November 30, 2007

"It is not the job of the local police to enforce the federal drug law."

Says a California appellate court, ordering the police to give a man back his marijuana. State law did not bar his possession of marijuana, because he was authorized to use it under the Compassionate Use Act. Of course, the possession is still a crime under federal law, but let the feds come after him then. It's no business of California authorities.

ADDED: I'm not endorsing this decision. In fact, I have some doubts about it. I'm just presenting it for discussion at this point.

"And, to be blunt, he does not look like a creepy goofball."

Robin Givhan takes a look at Michael Jackson.

"I think the guy who's sitting pretty at the moment? John McCain."

Says David Corn in this Bloggingheads (with a response from Jim Pinkerton):

(Here's the whole episode.)


... leap.

ADDED: "Knievel was the most complex man I’ve ever known — although I don’t claim to have known him."

"A man has just walked into the Clinton office, opened his coat and showed us a bomb strapped to his chest with duct tape."


UPDATE: The NYT reports that the man, Leeland Eisenberg, now in custody, was said to be "despondent," because he was facing a divorce, and that he'd been on a drinking binge.

So who's more likely to think they're mentally healthy — sane people or nuts?

"Republicans are significantly more likely than Democrats or independents to rate their mental health as excellent, according to data from the last four November Gallup Health and Healthcare polls."

"Rudy's New Shag Fund Explanation!"

That's what Josh Marshall calls it.

And here's how Hog on Ice snarks:
Giuliani appears to have cheated the taxpayers, although I'm not sure that's true; perhaps there is nothing illegal or improper about using taxpayer money to pay for security when you commit adultery. God knows we paid the Secret Service when Bill Clinton was doing it, many times. And let's not even mention the Arkansas State Police. Oops, I mentioned them.

I'll opine more when I get the chance. Right now, I'm only trying to give you something to talk about while I'm off doing things....

"What we cared about was that he was real."

Sorry about the light blogging this morning. You might want to talk about this Howard Kurtz piece which looks at CNN's approach to selecting questioners for its YouTube debate. The quote in the heading is from David Bohrman, CNN's Washington bureau chief, justifying using a question from Retired Brig. Gen. Keith Kerr, who's on Hillary Clinton's steering committee on gay and lesbian issues.

The teddy bear teacher is sentenced to 15 days in prison.

Presumably, this is better than a flogging, but mobs are demanding that she be shot, and the prison conditions are hellish:
The Omdurman prison where Mrs Gibbon will be locked up was built for 200, but now houses 1,200 women and 300 children, most of the adults jailed for illegally brewing alcohol.

Spare a moment to think not only of Gillian Gibbons, whose story we know, but of those 1,500 others, especially those children.

ADDED: More here:
The protesters streamed out of mosques after Friday sermons, as pickup trucks with loudspeakers blared messages against Gillian Gibbons, the teacher who was sentenced Thursday to 15 days in prison and deportation.

They massed in central Martyrs Square, outside the presidential palace, where hundreds of riot police were deployed, although they did not attempt to stop the rally.

"Shame, shame on the U.K.," protesters chanted.

They called for Gibbons' execution, saying, "No tolerance: Execution," and "Kill her, kill her by firing squad."

November 29, 2007


Oh, how I love this show! Great episode. Spoil away in the comments.

"Mrs Gibbons technically faces three charges - insulting Islam, inciting religious hatred and contempt for religious beliefs..."

Those who subject her to those charges are inciting contempt for religious beliefs.

"What do you mean by 'right wing progressivism'?"

Jonah Goldberg explains what he thinks is so wrong with Huckabee.

"If I lose, then I think it's fine for people to speculate that I don't have the bloodlust."

TNR has an interview with Barack Obama that ends with the question: "Do you worry that people look at that and say 'Well, this guy doesn't have the thirst, the kind of bloodlust for brass-knuckle politics that you need to have?'" The answer:
This argument never makes sense to me. If I lose, then I think it's fine for people to speculate that I don't have the bloodlust. I think I'm going to win doing exactly what I'm doing. This notion that somehow the only way to succeed in politics is to try to kneecap people, distort their records, engage in underhanded maneuvers--I just don't buy it. Now, you know what, if it turns out in this campaign that I have lost, and the reason I've lost is because I wasn't willing to do things that I think are wrong, I can live with that. I don't think that's going to happen. The one thing I won't tolerate is people trying to play that stuff on me. The one thing I hope people have become very clear about, and if not I will remind them, is I won't be a punching bag for anybody. I won't have people try to engage in unfair attacks against me. And if they come at me hard, I will come back at them harder. Alright?

Hillary as the woman behind the man.

I can now do little embedded clips from Bloggingheads. Try this:

Here's the whole diavlog.

(And sorry for the insolent look on my face on the freeze frame. I was going to pick another clip just to avoid it. But other matters are more pressing at the moment)

A 47-year-old woman pretended to be a 16-year-old boy on line and tormented a 13-year-old girl she knew.

After getting the girl to fall in love with this nonexistent boy, the middle-aged woman turned mean, argued, and said "The world would be a better place without you." The girl immediately committed suicide. Has the woman committed a crime?
But a St. Charles County Sheriff’s Department spokesman, Lt. Craig McGuire, said that what [Lori] Drew did “might’ve been rude, it might’ve been immature, but it wasn’t illegal.”

In response to the events, the local Board of Aldermen on Wednesday unanimously passed a measure making Internet harassment a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $500 fine and 90 days in jail.

"Give me a break; that’s nothing,” Mayor Pam Fogarty said of the penalties. “But it’s the most we could do. People are saying to me, ‘Let’s go burn down their house.’”

You need a statute if you want something to be a crime. Internet harassment is a crime in many states, including Wisconsin, but there are free speech limits on what can be criminalized.

Anyway, what was Drew's motivation? It looks as though she started out wanting to help her own daughter, who was rejected as a friend by the girl who killed herself:
In a report filed with the Sheriff’s Department, Lori Drew said she created the MySpace profile of “Josh Evans” to win Megan’s trust and learn how Megan felt about her daughter...

“Lori laughed about it,” {said a neighbor], adding that Ms. Drew and Ms. Drew’s daughter “said they were going to mess with Megan.”

After a month of innocent flirtation between Megan and Josh, Ms. Meier said, Megan suddenly received a message from him saying, “I don’t like the way you treat your friends, and I don’t know if I want to be friends with you.”

They argued online. The next day other youngsters who had linked to Josh’s MySpace profile joined the increasingly bitter exchange and began sending profanity-laden messages to Megan, who retreated to her bedroom. No more than 15 minutes had passed, Ms. Meier recalled, when she suddenly felt something was terribly wrong. She rushed to the bedroom and found her daughter’s body hanging in the closet.

A bizarre part of the story is that the police only heard about it because of a foosball table:
Shortly before Megan’s death, the Meiers had agreed to store a foosball table the Drews had bought as a Christmas surprise for their children. When the Meiers learned about the MySpace hoax, they attacked the table with a sledgehammer and an ax, Ms. Meier said, and threw the pieces onto the Drews’ driveway.

Drew went to the police about that. She filed a complaint that said she thought the hoax “contributed to Megan’s suicide, but she did not feel ‘as guilty’ because at the funeral she found out Megan had tried to commit suicide before.”

Incredible. It's hard to believe that a person who seems to be a functioning member of society could have such bad judgment, distorted perception, and pitilessness.

"A hall full of yowling Ron Paul loons and questions from Unabomber look-a-likes in murky basements."

Richelieu at Weekly Standard deplores CNN's YouTube debate:
America got to see a vaguely threatening parade of gun fetishists, flat worlders, Mars Explorers, Confederate flag lovers and zombie-eyed-Bible-wavers as well as various one issue activists hammering their pet causes. My cheers went to a listless Fred Thompson who easily qualified himself to be president in my book by looking all night like he would cheerfully trade his left arm for an early exit off the stage to a waiting Scotch and good Cuban cigar. The media will probably award a win to Mike Huckabee, the easy listening music candidate at home in any crowd, fluent in simpleton speak and the one man on the stage tonight who led the audience to roaring cheers by boasting that he had a special qualification to be president that none of the second-raters on the stage could match: A degree in Bible Studies from Ouachita Baptist University of Arkadelphia, Arkansas.

Well put.

ADDED: By contrast, look at how positive Captain Ed is about CNN's handling of the debate:
For the most part -- with a few glaring exceptions -- the network eliminated the silliness and stuck to substance. The questions hit hot topics and sparked some fierce debate. With a couple of exceptions, Republican fears of crypto-Democratic hit questions failed to materialize, and the candidates responded substantively to the rest.

I expected the debate to descend into silliness and gotcha moments. The only gotchas came from the candidates. Truthfully, this may have been one of the least "gotcha" and most substantive debates we've had this year.

November 28, 2007

Live-blog the YouTube debate with me.

Let's cover tonight's debate in the comments. That way there will be automatic time stamps and we'll have a nice dialogue format. Get ready.

Here's a pretty sunset while you're waiting:


That happened tonight. I'm not palming off some other night's sunset. That's tonight's sunset.

ADDED: Come into the comments and talk about the debate.

UPDATE, NEXT MORNING: Lots of comments! Did you like this approach to live-blogging? Let me sum up what I thought:

1. Anderson Cooper is a very weak moderator. He's a nice-looking man, but he had no authority, and, as a result, the candidates did whatever they wanted, which was actually revealing and interesting. It was really bad, however, when he allowed the retired general in the audience to hold the mike and lecture us on gays in the military. Once the point was made, that man had no right to consume air time like that, and Cooper was incompetent at stopping him. It seemed that at one point someone cut the mike, but then Coooper didn't take advantage of that to move on, he made efforts to get the mike back and to give the man more time. If that was supposed to be an expression of Anderson's own commitment to gay rights, it was: 1. inappropriate, and 2. inept.

2. Giuliani was good — nice and scrappy at the beginning, which set the tone the others had to deal with. Giuliani made Romney seem stiff and nervous, and he did a nice job turning the charge of "sanctuary city" back on Romney with "sanctuary mansion" — a memorable phrase.

3. CNN seemed to choose the YouTube videos that would show individuals who would repel a sizable segment of Americans: the guy with the gun, the kid with the Confederate flag, the Christian with the Bible. Or are you going to tell me CNN just loves props?

4. Thanks to everyone who participated in the comments. I think people did a great job!

"Ready at last to grind into her with the Hound, drive it into her piety."

Norman Mailer wins the Bad Sex in Fiction Award.

The idea of the award is "to draw attention to the crude, tasteless, often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel, and to discourage it." But I do think they confuse good writing about bad sex with bad writing. Mailer was writing about Adolf Hitler, so he must have meant the act to seem ugly. This conflation of bad sex and bad writing was really obvious in 2004 when they gave the award to Tom Wolfe a passage in "I Am Charlotte Simmons":
Wolfe's third novel is set in an imaginary elite Ivy League university and is seen through the eyes of his eponymous heroine - a shy, virginal country girl who is initially shocked by the decadence and excess she encounters. Wolfe spent four years roaming the campuses of America's top universities researching the novel and claimed in a Guardian interview that "I have tried to make the sex un-erotic. I will have failed if anyone gets the least bit excited. So much of modern sex is un-erotic, if erotic means flight of fancy or romantic build-up."
I've read that book, and Wolfe did exactly what he says he meant to do.

Nevertheless, bad sex or bad writing, the chosen passages are quite hilarious.

"The ABA Journal Blawg 100."

The ABA Journal has put together a list of the 100 top law blogs — and they were nice enough to include me in the "Ivory Tower" category. Check it out. And feel free to give me a vote. You can only vote once for each blog, but you can vote for as many blogs as you want.

"They're watching us and laughing... to them we are pussies. It's like they look at us and they're like, 'Oh, look at those wimpy little pussies.'"

Fabio talks politics. Thats what he says about Abu Ghraib. On Iraq:
"Those people, they hate us no matter what," he says. "And you know, we started the fight, so let's finish it. You can't just walk away with your back to them, because they gonna stab you."
But don't get excited, Republicans. He's for Hillary:
"She's so smart," he says. "And with her, you're getting two with one. You know I love women, because I owe my success to women. To me, it will be the biggest reward. I would love for the first time to have a woman president."

And with Hillary in charge, he says, the Iraqi insurgents better watch out. "When a woman gets pissed off at you," he says, "she's going to get you, you know?"
(Link via Memeorandum.)

"Will the secular left soon attack the religious right for being pro-science?"

Joseph Bottum writes::
I have long suspected that science, in the context of the editorial page of the New York Times, was simply a stalking-horse for something else. In fact, for two something-elses: a chance to discredit America's religious believers, and an opportunity to put yet another hedge around the legalization of abortion. After all, if our very health depends on the death of embryos, and we live in a culture that routinely destroys early human life in the laboratory, no grounds could exist for objecting to abortion.

With these purposes now severed by the Japanese de-differentiation technique, which way will it break?

The answer is, quite possibly, toward a rejection of science by the mainstream press. Since the 1960s, abortion has skewed American politics in strange and unnatural ways, and the cloning debates are no exception....

[N]ow that abortion is out of the equation: much less hype about all the miracle cures that stem cells will bring us, more suspicion about the cancers and genetic pollution that may result, and just about the same amount of bashing of religious believers—this time for their ignorant support of science.

Much of the debate about stem cell research was really about abortion — on both sides. But I see no reason to think that the "secular left" will turn against science. For one thing, "hype about all the miracle cures" isn't scientific. "Suspicion about the cancers and genetic pollution" is phrased to sound unscientific — a lot of free-floating emotion and paranoia. But it is part of science to keep track of the ill effects of scientific advancements. It seems to me that both sides of the political debates support science up to the point where it offends their moral principles, and both sides imbue whatever they have to say about about science with the emotional fervor they have for their political causes. That's what we've been seeing all along, and I don't see that changing.

ADDED: I think the term "anti-science" most aptly refers to a rejection of science as the way of understanding the world. Various religionists, ideologues, and ignoramuses are anti-science in this sense. But nearly all of us have moral sensibilities that don't come from any scientific method and that we see as explaining the world in some ways that are superior to science and that we will use to limit science, for example, when we forbid experiments on human beings. But there is another use of the term "anti-science" that we are indulging in here that's quite different. It's a hatred of technological advances or a philosophical or religious preference for a simpler or more traditional way of life. We may fully believe that science is the way to understand things, but we've decided we don't want to know or we don't want the innovations that the knowledge would make possible. I think we all are rather selective about changes we like and don't like, so we're all somewhat "anti-science" in this sense.

The New York view.


Just now.

ADDED: I took nearly the same picture in mid-August.

"A bureaucratic fiefdom... 500 officials... a 1,300-page plan.... sensitive to scrutiny... documents... locked away... 'We will demonize'..."

Stephen Braun, in the L.A. Times, looks into the proposition that Hillary Clinton's experience as First Lady is a legitimate credential for the presidency:
Clinton's all-access pass into the West Wing gave her an intimate education in presidential decision-making that none of her opponents can claim. She observed at close range how big government works, and she learned painfully from her missteps how easily it bogs down...

She built an insular White House fiefdom known as Hillaryland, surrounding herself with a tightknit band of loyalists who skillfully advanced her causes, but who were also criticized for isolating her from political realities.

Hillaryland's denizens began to jokingly refer to themselves as "the Stepford Wives." Their unflinching devotion gained them wide berth in the West Wing.

Staffers were expected to work grueling hours and report back any development that involved the first lady. She kept them busy with news clippings that she covered with scrawled questions and filed in a cardboard carton in her office.

She kept them busy with news clippings that she covered with scrawled questions and filed in a cardboard carton in her office. That sounds strangely small time. What exactly was the task at hand? (Was it something like those scrawled notes Dick Cheney wrote on that New York Times op-ed written by Joe Wilson?)
The first lady's management of the initiative to overhaul American healthcare remains her closest approximation of high-wire decision-making....

[U]nder her watch, the healthcare task force became a bureaucratic fiefdom. More than 500 officials churned out reports that funneled into a 1,300-page plan....

She appeared sensitive to scrutiny from the start. Just three days after her husband gave her authority over the healthcare plan, she was already considering limits on public access to the plan's records. In a Jan. 28, 1993, memo, deputy counsel Vincent Foster advised the first lady and Ira Magaziner, who devised the complex healthcare process structure, that task-force records might be withheld from release under the Freedom of Information Act if the files remained "in the control of the president."

Her response is not known because many of her healthcare documents have not been released. The Clinton library in Little Rock has released scores of healthcare memos sent to the first lady. But none of her own memos or notes is available, and though some are now scheduled for release early next year, others may remain locked away until after the 2008 election.

Her doggedness was not matched by her coalition-building skills. Chicagoan Dan Rostenkowski, the gruff, powerful former House Ways and Means chairman, felt that congressional committees should lead the way. "None of the people in your think tank can vote," he recalls telling Clinton. "She wasn't persuaded."

She courted skeptical Senate Finance Chairman Daniel Patrick Moynihan, but undercut the stroking with threats. At a weekend retreat after the State of the Union address in 1993, she dismissed worries about meeting a 100-day deadline set by her husband for a healthcare bill. Asked what would happen if they were late, she said: "You don't understand. We will demonize those who are blocking this legislation and it will pass."...

This is the one effort at management that is available for us to examine... to the extent that she will allow us to examine it. A bureaucratic fiefdom... 500 officials... a 1,300-page plan.... sensitive to scrutiny... documents... locked away... "We will demonize"...

If her experience as First Lady has prepared her for the presidency — and it is her argument that it does — then we must look at that experience and ask what kind of President she is prepared to be.

"This whole Taser concept has gone way too far, but we suppose it's better than mass murdering crowds of people."

Gizmodo picks up on the Taser flying saucer drone.

We were just talking about this last Sunday here.

November 27, 2007


Check it out. I'm back... with a vengeance.

ADDED: Topics:
Norman Mailer on women

The subliminal seduction of Mr. Whipple

Living and loving with Alzheimer's

"Leave me alone to have my guns"

Huckabee and Obama: pragmatic idealists

Is Hillary man enough to be president?

Judith Regan's secret dirt on Giuliani


I'm getting reports that I was mentioned on Rush Limbaugh's show today. Can anyone recount what was said

UPDATE: I think the reason my name came up is because it's in this column published this morning by Charlie Sykes.

IN THE COMMENTS: Scroll down to 2:22 for a link to the audio clip. And, yes, it is the material from the Sykes column. And, beyond that, Rush's point is that the new generation is not receptive to the "political correctness" of their elders.

Blogging the conventions.

I see the Democratic Party is about to accept applications to bloggers to cover their convention (in Denver next summer):
The move gives bloggers and the new media a chance to shine, much as they did at the trial of Scooter Libby earlier this year, and to bring a whole new perspective, and competition, to convention coverage. This is, after all, the first convention since the rise of YouTube....

Convention activities will go for 96 hours; with networks no longer providing wall-to-wall coverage and television viewership declining, [Jason Rosenberg, the director of online communications for the Democratic National Convention Committee] hopes bloggers can help kindle excitement about the event and, by extension, about the Democrats themselves.

“Bloggers can give you 24-hour coverage of the convention, of the delegate meetings, of the caucuses, of the parties,” Mr. Rosenberg said. “Everything that goes on, the bloggers can be there to cover.” This includes speeches not delivered in prime time or too late for East Coast print deadlines.
Well, anyone can watch the whole thing on C-Span. The best way to cover the conventions is to TiVo the whole thing and then watch and blog what catches your attention. Do you really think you'd do better on site?

Still, there are other things you'd see if you were there. Imagine wandering around with your little video camera — looking for... trouble. Then there's the whole seductive practice of blogging the other bloggers.
[The bloggers'] presence also makes the media itself a bigger story and increases the likelihood that you will be seeing more stories by the media about the media covering the media....
See, that's a big reason for a blogger to go there. You might be the center of attention. You might be more interesting than the blowhard on the podium. Wouldn't it be just like a blogger to take that bait? Of course, I know the feeling. Remember when I traveled to Washington to be on CNN on election night — TV watching me watch TV? What a thrill. Who hasn't watched TV and thought: Wouldn't it be cool if there was another TV show that would be me watching this show?
Bloggers obviously bring a different take — less restrained, more granular, in real time — from that of the mainstream media, and that’s exactly what the Democrats want...
Mmmm.... granular.
Mr. Rosenberg said the bloggers would be of “all stripes,” but asked if that included Republican or conservative bloggers, he said that would be decided case by case.
They want good press, of course. Should I apply? To see if they reject me? But then if I attended, I'd be around a lot of bloggers who — I think — hate me. Yet, in my experience, most of the bloggers are pretty nice. Most. Not all. Compare this and this.
Jen Caltrider, executive producer of ProgressNowAction, said the Democrats “are doing a pretty good job of bringing bloggers into the fold”....
"The fold." Want to be in the fold? You sheep. They'd like to tame you... make you feel privileged... so you'll get invited again...
So the local Colorado blogosphere, spearheaded by and in conjunction with, is picking up the slack and hosting a blogger hangout at the Alliance Center, just across the street from the Pepsi Center....

It will provide food, couches, big televisions, studios for multi-media mixing and will snag big-name convention-goers for interviews with the non-credentialed bloggers.In a plug for the blogger center, Markos Moulitsas, the founder of dailykos, wrote recently: “I learned in 2004 that being in the convention hall is not that great. It’s hot. You get the crappiest seats. WiFi is spotty at best. Getting through security is a nightmare. Ugh. I’m not even going to apply for a pass.”

He said that not being at the convention center “won’t be a disaster, since the REAL fun will be at our blogger gathering.”
A different fold. Want to be in that one? I know I don't belong there. Though I do like cool air, comfy seats, and great WiFi. But I can get all that right alongside my TiVo. It's so much easier to see what's going on from home. You can hear. You can pause. You can vlog yourself watching and pausing and commenting. You've got no distractions. Nobody cajoling you. Nobody scowling at you. You can think straight and write sharp things.

ADDED: A reader emails, responding to my "'The fold.' Want to be in the fold? You sheep. They'd like to tame you... make you feel privileged... so you'll get invited again...:
Hah! Pretty good.

Except you don't quite have the whole sheep thing down. Nobody tames sheep — I speak as one who raises sheep on a little hobby farm down in Oregon (WI), where the family and I have a herd of 15 head at the moment. Instead, what you do is either fleece them — i.e., shear off their wool for spinning; or you slaughter them. That's about it, as far as the sheep business goes. They're quite tame already, any more and they'd be more like fainting goats (some hilarious video footage of them here).

Still and all, as far as metaphorical grist for the mill (fleecing, spinning, slaughtering) goes, not too bad, eh?

English teacher in Sudan faces 40 lashes for letting students call the teddy bear Muhammad.

It's considered blasphemy.

Of course, I'm opposed to whipping as a punishment, but it seems to me that if you go to a foreign country to teach people's children, you have a responsibility to learn the deep beliefs of the culture you've entered and to adapt to it. Think of a foreign teacher coming to the United States to teach in our public schools. We would expect her to refrain from from leading the students in a prayer, and she would be sanctioned if she didn't comply. People in other countries might think, what is wrong with these Americans? All the teacher did was say a harmless, voluntary nonsectarian prayer.

Now, if the police burst into the classroom and tasered her [this hypothetical American teacher], there'd be cause to complain. The problem in this Sudan case is the punishment not what is considered an offense. In fact, even in the United States, I think a teacher should refrain from calling a teddy bear Muhammad. The practice of avoiding offense to religion in public school is not a violation of the principle of separating religion and state or the right to free speech.

I'm not talking about the more general problem raised by criminalizing "blasphemy." Clearly, that violates principles of free speech and separating religion and state. This case concerns a teacher who is trusted with the education of children. It is no answer that the children got the idea of naming the bear "Muhammad." The teacher is obligated to guide them. Think how you'd feel if your child's classroom had a teddy bear named "Shithead," and the explanation was that the kids named it.

CORRECTION: The heading to this post originally had that the woman was "sentenced" to 40 lashes. She has been arrested and faces that sentence. One hopes that the outcry against this will spare her.

I happen to think this a great Christmas gift... and a great fundraising idea.

The Plank reports:
I'm sure many--if not most--Plank readers have spent the four days since Thanksgiving saying to themselves, "My friend/relative/significant other is a huge Mitt Romney supporter, but I just can't think of what to get him/her this holiday season." Well, worry no more! In an email entitled "The UltiMITT Holiday" (yes, apparently they've hired Kathryn Jean Lopez to write their fundraising email subject lines), the Romney campaign presents their holiday gift packages. It will cost you $250, but without a doubt the best gift is the "Gold Ribbon Package," which includes a "downloadable phone message of Mitt answering your voicemail using your name."

I'm not saying it's what I want, but there've got to be people who would get a bang out of having the Mitt enunciate their name — over and over for all their friends. And from Romney's perspective, it raises money using very little of the candidate's time. Couldn't he record 100 of these in 5 minutes? That's $25,000. And it also creates a warm feeling of connection to the donor and operates as high-quality, word-of-mouth advertising to everyone who calls him.

"It’s time to steel ourselves for the heavily advertised Bush-and-Condi show at Annapolis...."

While you're hoping the Iraq war fails, don't forget to gear up you hopes for a big collapse of the mideast peace talks.

November 26, 2007

"Gov. Mike Huckabee, Republican of Arkansas, what will it take to get you to run for president in 2008?"

Asked C-Span's Brian Lamb back in 2005. Answer? "Oh! That's a big question. Probably a vision from above."

So... was there a vision? Could somebody ask him?

"Sen. Clinton is claiming basically the entire eight years of the Clinton presidency as her own, except for the stuff that didn't work out..."

"... in which case she says she has nothing to do with it," said Barack Obama.
"There is no doubt that Bill Clinton had faith in her and consulted with her on issues, in the same way that I would consult with Michelle, if there were issues. On the other had, I don't think Michelle would claim that she is the best qualified person to be a United States Senator by virtue of me talking to her on occasion about the work I've done."

Glad he said that.

Was Lincoln already dying of cancer when he was assassinated?

Dr. John G. Sotos thinks so, based in part on the theory that Lincoln suffered from MEN 2B:
He thinks the diagnosis not only accounts for Lincoln's great height, which has been the subject of most medical speculation over the years, but also for many of the president's other reported ailments and behaviors.

He also suspects Lincoln was dying of cancer at the time he was assassinated, and was unlikely to have survived a year. He thinks cancer -- an inevitable element of MEN 2B -- killed at least one of Lincoln's four sons, three of whom died before reaching age 20.
Another doctor disagrees, however, because the patients he treats who have this disease usually "have massively enlarged colons that bulge visibly, gurgle audibly and produce large amounts of gas," and who among has heard — or even thought — of Lincoln farting?

The truth could be ascertained through DNA testing of the fragments of Lincoln's body or the bloodstained clothes and bedding that have been preserved, however, these fragments are considered relics:
Tim Clarke Jr., spokesman for the [National Museum of Health], said curators in the past decided that "destroying nonrenewable, historically significant material is not in the public's interest," but added that "as technology changes and the social and ethical environment changes, it could be addressed" again.
Isn't our interest in actual historical information more significant than having relics to look at? 

In fact, why don't we question the display of a dead President's body parts and bloody pillows?

"There is an intensity and intimacy to Giuliani that can be unsettling."

"He has an authoritarian streak, as well as a penchant for secrecy and dependence on loyalists, that may remind voters of the current chief executive."

Newsweek sinks its talons into Rudy Giuliani.

ADDED: On Giuliani's relationship to Bernard Kerik:
Giuliani's loyalty to his last police commissioner, Bernard Kerik, bordered on the blind. The two men had come to know each other when Kerik, acting as an off-duty cop, drove Giuliani during his first mayoral campaign in 1989 (Giuliani lost to Dinkins). Kerik was the sort of diamond in the rough Giuliani appreciated—a tough street cop who got things done. Giuliani has insisted that he did not know about Kerik's questionable dealings with two businessmen with alleged mob connections. City hall records reviewed by NEWSWEEK suggest that the mayor may have been briefed on some of these problems just before Kerik was appointed commissioner. But Giuliani has said he has no memory, and his tight palace guard remains close-mouthed. ("There were mistakes made with Bernie Kerik," Giuliani said earlier this month, adding that Kerik's wrongdoing should not outweigh his crimefighting successes.)

That's quite mild — from a big cover story in a prominent newsweekly that seems aimed at digging up all the dirt on Giuliani.

There's a reminder of Giuliani's use of government power to retaliate against a museum that exhibited art that offended him:
He was outraged at an art show at the Brooklyn Museum called "Sensation." The exhibits included a picture of a black Virgin Mary surrounded by bits of pornography and a pile of elephant dung. Giuliani ordered the museum to shut down the show or lose its city subsidy. He lost in the courts; the show went on.

Newsweek connects this to his support of a priest charged with accused of molestation and characterizes Giuliani's "moralism" as uneven and " tribal" ("tribal" because the priest was from his neighborhood).

"When conservatives feel comfortable mocking the victims gunned down by Clinton-era attorney general Janet Reno's FBI in Waco, Tex...."

"... it suggests that a complacent and increasingly authoritarian establishment feels threatened."

Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch have a rousing paean to Ron Paul in today's WaPo.
...Paul's success has mostly left the mainstream media and pundits flustered, if not openly hostile. The Associated Press recently treated the Paul phenomenon like an alien life form: "The Texas libertarian's rise in the polls and in fundraising proves that a small but passionate number of Americans can be drawn to an advocate of unorthodox proposals." Republican pollster Frank Luntz has denounced Paul's supporters as "the equivalent of crabgrass . . . not the grass you want, and it spreads faster than the real stuff." And conservative syndicated columnist Mona Charen said out loud what many campaign reporters have no doubt been thinking all along: "He might make a dandy new leader for the Branch Davidians."

An Althouse coffeehouse.

Good morning, everyone. I'll be off-line for most of the morning, so please use this space to gather and talk about what you like. I'll join you later.

November 25, 2007


Stop me before I vlog again. Or raise some topics and ask some questions, and this might turn into a vlog day.

ADDED: The vlog is done, and will be posted soon. It's about: Mark Halperin's op-ed about the influence of Richard Ben Cramer's book "What It Takes," the prospect of vlogging this blog's commenters (with references to Alexandra Pelosi's documentary "Journeys With George"), and whether children should call their parents by their first names.

AND: Here it is.

Cat conversation and sexism in the algorithm.

Two cats are having a conversation. It's uncanny:

Let's see that cat talk translated into English:

Ha ha. I love it. Why did I run across that today?

I was writing the previous post about Hillary Clinton and "the boys" who allegedly bullied her, and one of the news articles linked to this Clinton campaign video:

YouTube has a sidebar showing links to more videos — presumably videos that have some relationship to the video you just watched. How is YouTube calculating these relationships? Something about a "cat fight"? Is there sexism in the algorithm?

That time Rick Lazio invaded Hillary's space.

Everyone talks about the time Rick Lazio invaded Hillary Clinton's space in a debate when the two were running for Senator. The myth is that people were viscerally offended by a man aggressively approaching a woman.

The Clinton campaign recently complained about "the boys" ganging up at a debate, and there was speculation that it was an attempt to get people to react to her opponents the way New York voters reacted to Rick Lazio.

This made me want to see the old video of the debate with Lazio, but I couldn't find it through Google and YouTube searching. My commenters were helping me search, and Ruth Anne Adams came up with the clip from the debate as it was used on "The Daily Show." But, finally, Hector Owen found the whole segment of the debate: here. (Ignore the error message. It should play.)

Let's examine the Lazio Space Invader myth. Here's a contemporaneous article in the NYT:
... Mrs. Clinton exploited an opportunity before a friendly audience of women to make a concerted attack on Mr. Lazio's debate tactics. Many supporters of Mrs. Clinton said they found Mr. Lazio to be pushy and disrespectful during the debate in Buffalo -- bullying her in a way that he would not have bullied a male opponent.

Mrs. Clinton's senior advisers have seized on that notion to blunt favorable portrayals of Mr. Lazio as strong-willed and determined, and Mrs. Clinton joined the effort yesterday. Expanding on a comment she made the morning after the debate, Mrs. Clinton received knowing chuckles and applause when she said having two younger brothers was the best preparation for her sometimes bruising encounter with Mr. Lazio.

Then she complained of having to share her lectern with an overly aggressive Mr. Lazio. (He approached her at the end of the debate and urged her to sign a document he said was a promise not to raise or spend any more soft money.)...

''How about that idea that you turned off women voters?'' Gabe Pressman of WNBC-TV asked [Lazio].

Mr. Lazio said women were being sold short by suggestions that they would not vote for him because he gave Mrs. Clinton a tough debate....

Here's Kate Phillips (of the NYT) after the recent debate:
[S]o many political correspondents... have invoked the Rick Lazio moment...

The former Congressman’s charge across the stage in September of that year was equated with bullying, something that’s a far cry from the largely reasoned responses of Mrs. Clinton’s rivals on the stage the other night.

Still, we’re told it’s all gender politics, or as one of our colleagues once called it back then, hormonal politics (on both sides, folks).

Funny how history and language keep replaying, no?

WaPo's Ruth Marcus wrote:
Now this six-on-one stuff. Clinton stumbled in the debate, uncharacteristically but nowhere near fatally. In response, Penn & Co. are playing a good game of rope-a-dope.

After all, they have experience with this move, from the 2000 New York Senate race, when Republican Rick Lazio loomed into Clinton's personal space during a debate and quickly saw his numbers tank. For the Clinton campaign, the best thing would be to have the Philadelphia story played as Lazio II -- more bullies trying to intimidate her....

[U]sing gender this way is a setback. Hillary Clinton is woman enough to take these attacks like a man.

Yeah, that's what Lazio said at the time and voters resisted.

Here's what Rush Limbaugh said:
Now she's out there playing this victim card, and a lot of people in the media are not happy about this -- and I'll tell you what it is. You know, it's not just the cheapest form of pandering. To all of a sudden, say, "I'm a strong woman. I'm strong as a man! I can handle this job." Now all of a sudden to go victim, and to have your campaign tell the press, "Yeah, well, this is part of a long-planned strategy based on what happened when Rick Lazio invaded her space during a Senate debate for the election in New York."

So they're going back to that playbook because they think it worked then, but running for president is a little bit different from running for the Senate, especially if most of your career has been built up on, "You're tough, and you're not going to back down from anybody! You're Hillary Clinton! You've got a testicle lockbox."

(A testicle lockbox?)

But the fact is: It did work then. You can say, as Phillips did, that what Lazio did was different. But look at the video. Don't rely on the myth. Look at the video. It might have been inept theater to ply the piece of paper at her, but it wasn't an effort to bully the woman out of politics.

"Being first lady is sort of half job and half life but good experience in either case."

Writes Michael Kinsley, analyzing Hillary Clinton and her recent jab "We can't afford on-the-job training for our next president."
... Clinton was clearly referring to work experience. But there is also life experience. Being first lady is sort of half job and half life but good experience in either case.

She has to be careful about making a lot of this. Many people resent her using her position as first lady to take what they see as a shortcut to elective office. More profoundly, some people see her as having used her marriage as a shortcut to feminism.

Count me as one of those people!
But being the president's spouse has to be very helpful for a future president. It's like an eight-year "Take Your Daughter to Work Day." Laura Bush, as far as we know, has made no important policy decisions during her husband's presidency, but she has witnessed many and must have a better understanding of how the presidency works than all but half a dozen people in the world.

And does anyone think of her as qualified for the presidency? How about Nancy Reagan?
One of those half a dozen is Hillary Clinton, who saw it all -- well, she apparently missed one key moment -- and shared in all the big decisions. Every first lady is promoted as her husband's key adviser, closest confidant, blah, blah, blah, but in the case of the Clintons, it seems to be true. Pillow talk is good experience.

Oh, let's direct these questions at Hillary Clinton, can we? Do you mean to say that pillow talk is good experience?
Clinton mocks Obama's claims that four years growing up in Indonesia constitute useful world-affairs experience. But they do.

I'm interested in seeing if her mockery silences him. Will he shut up about this idea that he is what Kinsley calls "a world man." Or will he figure out how to say it better and not her allow her to squelch him. If he can't do that, his vaunted oratorical skills mean little.

Kinsley owns up to supporting Obama. Here's how he explains his reason:
When I hear him discussing issues, I hear intelligence and reflection and almost a joy in thinking it through.

Oh, good lord. You can say that about people you meet every day in academia, and there's no reason at all to trust those characters as President. I'm sorry, but I hear patronizing in Kinsley's words.

"And who’s this little fellow in his itty-bitty robe?/That’s tiny baby Adolf, the Hitlers’ little boy!"

Wrote the poet Wislawa Szymborska.

And who's this dashing young man?

(The book.)

IN THE COMMENTS: Bob says he's "pretty enough for Che-style t-shirt immortality." Lindsey is ready to cast the Keanu Reeves in the movie version.

"Good night, my darlings, I’ll see you tomorrow."

Noël Coward's last words, from a review by John Simon.

Lots of good tidbits in the review. I like this one:
"To me, the essence of good comedy writing is that perfectly ordinary phrases such as ‘Just fancy!’ should, by virtue of their context, achieve greater laughs than the most literate epigram."

Presumably, many more tidbits in the book. The man corresponded with Virginia Woolf, T. E. Lawrence, Ian Fleming, Laurence Olivier, Marlene Dietrich, John Osborne, Harold Pinter, and many others.

I'd get the book myself if it were available in the Kindle format. For some reason, I'm devoted to my Kindle, even though it hasn't arrived yet. We'll see if it lives up to my ideation. I remember how I felt when I bought my Rocketbook. How wonderful it was... until I decided I hated it.

"'Blame U.S. for 9/11' Idiots in Majority."

New York Post headline.
Sixty-two percent of those polled thought it was "very likely" or "somewhat likely" that federal officials turned a blind eye to specific warnings of the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

Only 30 percent said the 9/11 theory was "not likely," according to the Scripps Howard/Ohio University poll.

The findings followed a 2006 poll by the same researchers, who found that 36 percent of Americans believe federal government officials "either assisted in the 9/11 attacks or took no action" because they wanted "to go to war in the Middle East."

In that poll, 16 percent said the Twin Towers might have collapsed because of secretly planted explosives - not hijacked passenger jets flown into them.

And what hit the Pentagon? Twelve percent figured it was a US cruise missile.

Oh, no. What is to become of our democracy if people are so foolish? Grasping for hope, I theorize that people don't actually go around thinking these things but being polled somehow lures them into agreeing with statements. I'm not saying the poll wasn't done according to professional standards. I'm just speculating that maybe when people hear a calm, professional-sounding voice state a proposition, perhaps something that they haven't really thought about, they fall into agreement. (And, yes, I know, it's pathetic that that's all I can come up with when I'm grasping for hope.)

"You cannot call it real pain. I just found that time was infinitely long."

Says Antoine di Zazzo, who's been tasered more 50 times. Di Zazzo — a Taser representative in France — has tasered the French politician Jean-Marie Le Pen and offered to taser the French president Nicolas Sarkozy. Sarkozy declined the offered but made a campaign promise to arm the country's 300,000 police with tasers.
National Front leader Le Pen, who was 79 at the time, went to inspect the gun last year because of the headlines it made when Sarkozy made his pledge as interior minister. "He did not want to try it but I took him a bit by surprise," said di Zazzo.

"He has special protection because he is a leading politician but I got round them and fired into his shoulder. He fell over but got up again and then went around telling people: 'You are shaking the hand of the man who has tried Sarkozy's toy'."
Now, that's really strange. Why is di Zazzo out bragging about this, instead of in prison?

Meanwhile, reports of deaths by Taser are getting a lot of attention:
There has been much debate in Canada after a 40-year-old Polish man died last month after he was 'tasered' by police. Another 36-year-old man died Saturday five days after an altercation with police who used a Taser to subdue him.

There have been at least three other deaths this week in the United States after police use of the Taser.

Amnesty International has said there have been about 300 deaths around the world after Taser use and has called for it to be suspended while a full investigation into the impact is conducted.

On Friday, the UN Committee said the stun gun "causes acute pain, constituting a form of torture".

Taser International says that no death has been attributed to the use of the gun and that the controversy is caused by misunderstanding of new technology. It has won more than 50 legal cases in the United States alleging the gun was linked to a death.

"If electricity was to kill it would do so straight away," said di Zazzo. "In most of these cases people have carried on fighting or struggling after they were hit by the Taser and had recovered. In a lot of these cases there is a drug overdose or cerebral delirium involved."

"In Canada, the man carried on struggling afterwards and was hit by batons and the police knelt on him. You can also die from being hit with a baton or knelt on," he added.

Taser says its device "saves lives" because it is an effective alternative to a real gun. Each stun round is videod by a camera on the gun for future evidence.

Anyway, it seems to me that Taser has the better side of that argument. We're talking about disabling someone who is a current threat — an alternative to the use of some other weapon. This is different from the question of inflicting pain on someone who is already restrained. Or do you think that the use of pain to disable a person ought to be considered torture and that police ought to be required to use a weapon that disables by damages a person's body?

I was interested to see that there is a camera built into the guns used in France. I see there's talk in the U.S. of adding these $400 accessories to tasers.
Taser Cams are like in-car videos and serve two primary functions," said Peoria Police Chief Steven Settingsgaard. "First, they can prevent abuse by their mere existence. More importantly, however, they can disprove false allegations of misuse when they arise."...

The Peoria County Jail already use Taser Cams... Sheriff Mike McCoy said..."You see what the Taser sees. It answers a whole lot of questions, and it's a factual tool for us."

Interesting. You see what the target does while the Taser is pointed at him. You'll have to figure out what he was doing a moment before that.

And prepare for the new Taser: "a mini-flying saucer like drone which could also fire Taser stun rounds on criminal suspects or rioting crowds."