December 22, 2007

"You are about to show me shadows of the things that have not happened, but will happen in the time before us."


"Is that so, Spirit?"

For the annals of unflattering photographs.

The NYT presents Mike Huckabee:

Go to the link for the full size version of the photo by Spencer Tirey.

Doesn't he look like he's morphing into Dennis Kucinich?

"It is unclear whether Flew has lost the desire to reason effectively or whether he no longer cares what is published in his name."

Atheists wonder how believers can believe such things, but when atheists themselves turn into believers, can you believe them? When Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris are raking in so much money writing about their atheism, what's an old atheist to do? Where's the publishing niche? Ah, there! I love that key clues are the words “beverages,” “vacation,” and “candy.”

Depression blogging.

The Top 10. (Via Culturite, via Metafilter.) Would you read a "depression blog"? Are you depressed? Would anyone answer "yes, no"?

"A 13 shot venti soy hazelnut vanilla cinnamon white mocha with extra white mocha and caramel."

In search of the most expensive Starbucks drink. "And me, wincing at the first sip."

(Via Metafilter.)

"I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked..."

Oh, really? You saw them naked? Come on, Allen. Don't tell us that somehow you "figuratively" saw them. You said you saw them, and either you saw them or you didn't. Facts are stubborn things.

Nah, nah, he said it and it wasn't true. Or oops, maybe it was true.

How to visit a grave.

Do you visit a grave? Do you have a tradition? Pebble on the headstone? Something else? I saw this yesterday, done precisely the same for each of 4 or 5 graves in a line:


A small fire had burnt out. Each grave had bright flowers, a peeled banana, an opened tinfoil packet of rice and some other food (possibly chicken), and an opened can of some drink that had what looked like corn pictured on it.

MEANWHILE: "Decorations can be an impediment to backhoes, and there are liability issues in tripping over candy canes."

MYSTERY SOLVED: The canned drink is Yeo's Soybean Milk.

About those Christmas graveyard photographs.

I take fewer photographs in winter. It gets dark early, walks are shorter and quicker, and there's much less happening. I could make a practice of looking harder and forcing myself to see photographs, but mostly I don't. Sometimes, things look photographable, but I'm driving. I could stop, but maybe a dog or a man will come at me to see what trouble I'm causing. In winter, there are fewer dogs and men to worry me, but who stops the car in a snow bank? Photographs go untaken.

Yesterday I stopped. I was driving, as I often do, on the road called the Speedway, that runs between the two cemeteries, Resurrection and Forest Hill.


Was it a joke, naming the road between the cemeteries the Speedway? You are alive, but not for long. Earlier in the day, I'd driven over 100 miles on I-94, and the fog had been much worse. I think I was the only driver on the road who was constantly thinking: This is how 50-car pile-ups happen. I drove so I could stop without crashing if I saw an accident ahead, and no one else did. People are crazy. So the graveyards in the fog called out to me. I stopped and stalked through knee-deep snow to get my pictures.

What first caught my eye were all the wreaths in Resurrection Cemetery:


Resurrection is flatter and less beautiful than the historic Forest Hill on the other side of the Speedway. Perhaps you know that Chris Farley is buried there. He died 10 years ago last Tuesday.


Where are you on the Speedway?

December 21, 2007

Snow fog.

Very foggy today... in the midst of much snow...


I was driving around...


Shopping for Christmas...


But the graves were standing still...


"Look, I don't comment on other people's comments. I don't have time, all right. I really don't have time to worry about this."

Condoleezza Rice does not have time to worry about Mike Huckabee, who probably thinks that sounds "arrogant."

"These people are coming after me personally, something I have not done. They're coming after me personally the way the libs do."

Rush Limbaugh versus Mike Huckabee.

The continuing travails over talking about race in the classroom.

Here's the latest news story about my colleague Leonard Kaplan, who — you'll remember if you're a regular reader — offended students in the course of teaching his Legal Process class by saying something that was taken as insulting to the Hmong people:
The UW-Madison rejected a complaint by Law School students who asked for discipline against Professor Leonard Kaplan for remarks allegedly insulting the Hmong, according to a document obtained by The Capital Times from an open records request....

"My clients are entitled to a learning environment in which they are not subjected to hostility for defending their beliefs, cultural heritage and desire for a truly diverse academic classroom environment," attorney Daniel Ye said in the complaint....

Even if Kaplan's views of the Hmong were wrong, ill-informed or hurtful, they were not properly a subject for disciplinary action under the rules of the university, [Provost Patrick] Farrell wrote, adding that Kaplan's statements were delivered as part of a regular class lecture in his Law School course, and they appear to have been germane to the topic covered that day.

Should Nickelodeon cancel "Zoey 101" to teach young kids a lesson about teen pregnancy?

The star, 16-year-old Jamie Lynn Spears, has gone and gotten herself pregnant by her boyfriend, the 19-year-old Casey Aldridge. (There's also the question whether you think society would be better off if the baby's father were imprisoned for 10 years for statutory rape.) David Hinckley writes:
[I]f Nickelodeon keeps Spears on its airwaves, the network will seem to be saying that unmarried teen pregnancy, a major American problem, is negotiable if the unmarried teen is a good earner....

It's not that Nickelodeon has ever lived in some '50s sitcom world where kids never face tough issues like sex. Spears' character in "Zoey" has faced them herself.

But Nick, unlike many other media, doesn't wink at ill-advised behavior or ignore its potential consequences, and that's what the current Spears flurry is really about: consequences.

All 16-year-olds make mistakes. They all need forgiveness, from others and themselves. But forgiveness does not erase consequences, and Jamie Lynn doesn't get a pass because she was unbelievably stupid, even allowing for the fact brains don't run in her family.
Wait. What's "unbelievably stupid" here? Having sex when only 16, not acing birth control, or failing to have an abortion?
It also doesn't excuse her that she has little experience with consequences, though it's true. First, there's her sister. Second, there's her mother, who got a contract from a Christian publishing house for a book on parenting while her older daughter was turning into an international poster girl for lunatic hedonism.
Is this a moral principle you want to apply across the board? Extra punishment for offenses committed by individuals whose family members have committed similar offenses? Why not extra forgiveness?

Speaking of forgiveness, a Christian virtue, it is the Christmas season, when we celebrate the birth of a child to a 14-year-old girl.

ADDED: Lots of comments inside. Let me add a few things. First, you don't know how careless she was about birth control (or whether she chose to get pregnant). Pregnancy can happen to any fertile woman who does not practice abstinence. If you insist on harsh consequences, what are you doing? You may push some young women into abstinence, but you will push others toward abortion. I'm all for teen abstinence, but I also believe in looking at the world that is and being practical and compassionate. They made some mistakes. So did you. So did your kids.

Bill Clinton on Hillary Clinton: "Everything I'm saying here is my wife's position, not just mine."

Bill Clinton is out and about, burnishing his image, basking in the glow of attention. By the way, his wife is running for President. When he's not referring to that woman as "his wife," he likes to refer to her as "she":
"The reason she ought to be president, over and above her vision and her plans is that she has proven in every position she has ever had in life, whether it was in elected office or not, that she is a world-class genius in making positive changes in other people's lives."
Making positive changes in other people's lives.... It sounds so presidential so wifely.

World-class genius... Must we talk about that too? Two thoughts:

1. A man calls his wife a genius. Does it mean anything, even if he charges it up with the 90s modifier "world-class"? "World-class" actually detracts from it. If a man tells you his wife is a "great cook," are you more likely to believe it's anything more than the guy's preening about his own stature if he makes it "awesomely great"? If he tells you his wife looks like a model, does your mental image of her improve if he says she looks like a "super model"? A man is bragging about his woman: That places her ever more firmly in the position of his woman.

2. Remember the way people talked about John Kerry in 2004? Supposedly, he had a brilliant mind, full of "nuance" and "complexity." But, as I wrote at the time, the evidence was lacking. There was also some discussion back then about whether smarter actually is better for a President. But some people — dare I say, especially on the left? — are susceptible to the argument that the most intellectually brilliant candidate ought to win. And right now, these poor souls are being massaged by statements like Bill's about Hillary. So where's the evidence?

I've been reading Carl Bernstein's book "A Woman in Charge." Here's a passage:
By tenth grade, Hillary had realized that she was by no means the smartest member of her class, and that to compete at the top level of academic achievement she would have to work harder than others. She was an honor roll student by force of will, intense preparation, and dutiful study. Even with such extraordinary effort, her grade point average was too low to be among the top ten students in her class.
Meanwhile, Alan Greenspan's book "The Age of Turbulence" lavishes praise on Bill Clinton for his intellect (especially for his grasp of economics and his perception of how things would change in the future). Greenspan classes Bill Clinton with the smartest of all the Presidents he has known: Richard Nixon. Which brings us back to the point that "smartest" doesn't encapsulate what you really want in a President.

ADDED: I love found humor. I was just Googling around for some talk about the irritating adjective "world-class" — the usage panel does not accept it as "as a vague way of emphasizing magnitude or degree" — and I found this 2005 blog post from Brad Feld:
I heard the phrase "world class" three times today. I've decided to toss it on the scrap heap of "phrases that mean nothing to me anymore." I'm finishing up Friedman's The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century(which is awesome BTW - definitely a world class book – I’ll be done on my SF to Chicago trip Thursday night.) It dawned on me that the phrase "world class" isn't indexed against anything. No one ever says, "that's not world class, it's American class."...

In my first company, we talked briefly (I think about 60 seconds) about creating a mission "to be the best software consulting company in the world." After all the MIT / Brown / Wellesley people in my company laughed (“hey Brad, who gives a damn about a stupid vague unattainable mission like that?"), I / we realized that vapid phrases didn't inspire anything (except internal contempt). It took more than 60 seconds to come up with our mission, which was "We suck less."...

We delivered more often then not. So - while we never achieved that elusive "world class" status, we definitely sucked less most of the time. And - when I wandered down the hallways saying "guys - focus on sucking less - that's the key to our success", people rallied a lot more than if I had shouted "we are going to be world class" from the rooftops.
Of course, Bill Clinton can't be saying of Hillary, "She sucks less." But the truth is that's all most of us expect from a candidate, for them to suck less than the others.

December 20, 2007

I want the government to give me more presents.

I would have thought this was a parody attacking Hillary Clinton, but she's Hillary Clinton, and she approved of this message.

(Via Instapundit.)

ADDED: Isn't this like when you get presents from family members and you know they charged it on your credit card?

"What is astonishing to me is that the fashion industry is allowing these people to become important."

"These people," meaning bloggers.


Meanwhile, Manolo loves Manolo.

"I like the fact that his name is Barack Hussein Obama, and that his father was a Muslim and that his paternal grandmother is a Muslim."

So said Bob Kerrey:
"It's probably not something that appeals to him, but I like the fact that his name is Barack Hussein Obama, and that his father was a Muslim and that his paternal grandmother is a Muslim... There's a billion people on the planet that are Muslims, and I think that experience is a big deal."
Underhanded? Should he apologize for saying that? He did:
"What I found myself getting into in Iowa - and it was my own fault - it was the wrong moment to do it and it was insulting... I meant no disrespect at all."
It was the "wrong moment" because he was in the middle of endorsing Hillary Clinton. So whose idea was it for him to say it? His own?
Kerrey's mention of Obama's middle name and his Muslim roots raised eyebrows because they are also used as part of a smear campaign on the Internet that falsely suggests Obama is a Muslim who wants to bring jihad to the United States....

The Clinton campaign has already fired two volunteer county coordinators in Iowa for forwarding hoax e-mails with the debunked claim. Last week, a national Clinton campaign co-chairman resigned for raising questions about whether Obama's teenage drug use could be used against him, so Kerrey's comments raised questions about whether the Clinton campaign might be using another high-profile surrogate to smear Obama.
Joe Gandelman writes that to take him at his word, you have to believe that Kerrey is terribly naive. It makes more sense to think he deliberately "injecti[ed' info and innuendo into the press and key news cycles," both with his original statement and with the apology.
To some voters, the image of the Clintons as political victims is being replaced by the image of the Clintons as political predators.

If there’s another “mistake” by a major Clinton supporter, it will mean there is a clear cut strategy to hit hot button issues and drive up Obama’s negatives no matter what the risk is to the campaign.
Do you need one more "mistake" to convince you that it's a Clinton campaign strategy?

ADDED: "Dropping the phrase 'Islamic manchurian candidate' in the midst of his 'apology'? C’mon."

"We believe Sondra is especially deserving of this honor because of the spirited way she campaigned for the title."

Oh, really? That's what divas do now? Campaign for recognition?

"Son, I would tell you what I bought you for Christmas if I thought we weren't going to make it."

"My kids were relying on me, and I'm scared, but you can't tell them you're scared."

"What breaks my heart are the really useful things that are now everywhere. A suzani can totally rock a bedroom..."

"... but if someone saw it on the edge of your bed they’re not going to gasp and say, ‘Where’d you get that?’ Which they would have last year."

From a NYT article that doesn't define "suzani". And I realize I don't care what a suzani is, only what amusing definitions for "suzani" you can make up. Remember a suzani can totally rock a bedroom. And last year if saw one on the edge of your bed last year they'd have gasped and been all "Where’d you get that?" But this year, no one cares, and the fact that no one cares is breaking someone's heart.

ADDED: Actually, the article defines "suzani." I just didn't care enough to read the next sentence. That was unfair to the NYT, and I apologize.

December 19, 2007

"There's a big relationship between this marvelous time of year and living in a one-party state."

Christopher Hitchens scrooges about Christmas.

IN THE COMMENTS: John wrote:
How can you get him to go home? He drank everything on the buffet, including the little sternos underneath the meatballs, pilfered the Irish whisky in your top cabinet, smoked his smelly fags in the kitchen, and passed out on the couch making his 31st North Korea joke. Everyone else left the party hours ago.
Trooper York:
Linus Van Pelt: Charlie Brown, you're the only person I know who can take a wonderful season like Christmas and turn it into a problem. Maybe Lucy's right. Of all the Charlie Browns in the world, you're the Charlie Browniest.

Charlie Brown: No I'm not. Look at Christopher, he hates Christmas too!

Linus Van Pelt: What is doing over there?

Lucy Van Pelt: I think he is vomiting on a picture of Mother Theresa.

Linus Van Pelt: Is he sick?

Charlie Brown: No he is a political commenter. They do this all the time.... Isn't there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?

Linus Van Pelt: Sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about.

[moves toward the center of the stage]

Linus Van Pelt: Lights, please.

[a spotlight shines on Linus]

Linus Van Pelt: "And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, 'Fear not: for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.' And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.'"

[Linus picks up his blanket and walks back towards Charlie Brown]

Linus Van Pelt: That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.

Charlie Brown: Mr. Hitchens what are you doing with that gun?...

Charlie Brown: Oh my god, Christopher Hitchens just shot Linus. And the little Christmas tree. Two shepherds. A donkey. And the partridge in the pear tree.

Lucy Van Pelt: Thank God Snoopy was packing and laid down a covering fire.

Christopher Hitchens: God had nothing to do with it you fools. There is no god. Only a stupid dog with a luger.

Linus Van Pelt: Thank god for the second amendment. And dogs with guns. God bless us all! Even you little Christopher Hitchens.

Christopher Hitchens: (vomits)

(A Charlie Brown Christmas starring Christopher Hitchens, 2007)

Rudolph the red-vested presidential candidate.

The vest is burning my retinas, but I laughed. And no it's-not-a-cross floating cross:

"He stood by what he knew was right."

John McCain's new ad:

Not many candidates are talking about Iraq these days, are they?

ADDED: McCain is also eschewing the holiday theme. No Christmas tree (or cross) in the background for him.

You say the beating of your hearts is the only sound, but I hear crickets.

Tommy James is confronted with an inconsistency in the 4-decades-old recording of "I Think We're Alone Now." He doesn't really have an answer to this fabulous pop-culture gotcha — which I heard a few minutes ago on XM radio "60s on 6" — so he drifts over into telling the story how he got his first hit, which wasn't "I Think We're Alone Now" but the almost equally sublime "Hanky Panky." This story has fascinating resonance with the issues we're facing today with illegal uploading and downloading on the internet. It turns out that Tommy and his band were stuck as a local band somewhere between Detroit and Chicago. Then one day he got a phone call telling him his song had hit #1 in Pittsburgh. How could that be? Someone had made 80,000 bootleg copies of the single and they sold right out. And that's how he got his start.

Can I infer that Tommy James and the Shondells will appreciate my embedding this here?

ADDED: Here's the group's official site. Buy some of their stuff.

AND: Fans of the old — defunct? — Audible Althouse podcast will remember — episode #64 — what my personal favorite Tommy James song is. Hey, I want to suggest it as a campaign song. Maybe for Barack Obama.

Mike Huckabee on his pardon record and Romney's.

Extremely well handled in this video clip from "The Today Show."

Also in the clip: denying that cross in his Christmas video was meant to be a cross and coming out strongly against Wall Street and those who want the votes of the evangelicals but not to see them in the seat of power.

IN THE COMMENTS: People want me to say he's lying about the cross. Based on what I said about it on Monday, you already know I do, but okay. I'll come right out and say it: I think he's lying about the cross.

The absence of...

... news.

Well, it was there before....

And the blogosphere goes wild.

UPDATE: When I originally posted, the first link came up with a picture of John Edwards, and no story. But now the story is clearly up and featured on the National Enquirer's home page. The paper may be trashy, but they are as susceptible to a libel suit as anyone. Edwards is a public figure, which limits his capacity to bring a lawsuit, but the paper also names another person. Read it for yourself.

ADDED: "Edwards' lawyer called The ENQUIRER and denied the well-coiffed Democratic candidate is the...." The well-coiffed candidate...

"Hillary doesn’t have to worry about her face. She has to worry about her mask."

It was inevitable that Maureen Dowd's column today would be about that picture of Hillary looking old that Matt Drudge put up for us all to talk about.

Exploiting Bill Clinton.

How can Hillary exploit Bill's popularity without opening up all the complexities of judging his Presidency? Matt Bai writes in the NYT Magazine:
When I asked Bill Clinton about this issue, during an informal meeting in South Carolina, he readily agreed to sit down for a longer interview on his legacy’s role in the campaign. A few weeks later, however, and at the last minute, Hillary’s aides canceled the interview. Famously controlling, they would not even allow the former president to talk about his record.
Interesting. You know, I was just watching the Charlie Rose interview with Bill Clinton, and I thought Bill Clinton seemed really angry about something. I had the impression that something was nagging at him that he couldn't talk about. I also noticed that he used the words "she" and "her" to great excess and rarely voiced his wife's name.

Here's Bai:
On those rare ocasions when the former president hasn’t been able to resist defending his wife or burnishing his own record, the results haven’t been especially helpful. Unlike Hillary Clinton and her team of advisers, who are relentlessly on message and disciplined, Bill Clinton is a more instinctual politician, given to improvisational moments that must torment his wife’s obsessive-compulsive aides. In November, Clinton suddenly asserted during a campaign appearance in Iowa that he opposed the invasion of Iraq from the beginning — an aside that he needn’t have offered and that clearly contradicted not only his wife’s Congressional vote but his own statements in the build-up to the war.
If you were writing a novel about the 2008 presidential campaign, wouldn't you want Bill Clinton as your main character? What a complex situation he is in. He stands to gain power, but his time is also over. He can help his wife, but he can also hurt her. He is supposed to fight for her, but he's continually tempted to justify himself. He has the more creative mind, but he cannot outshine her.

ADDED: You know, things like this — "Elder Bush nixes Clinton trip idea" — make me think Bill secretly wants Hillary to lose:
Former President George H.W. Bush has shot down his successor Bill Clinton’s idea of a diplomatic mission under a Hillary Clinton presidency that would send him and other notables abroad to assure other nations that “America is open for business and cooperation again.”

The move came one day after Bill Clinton made the suggestion on the campaign trail in South Carolina, in response to a question from a supporter about his wife’s “number-one priority” upon reaching the White House.
Why did Bill say that? It enlisted Bush 41 in what sounded like a plain insult to Bush 43.

MORE: Bill's way of talking about Hillary reminds me a bit of the way George Bush talked about Harriet Miers just before she withdrew:
Harriet Miers is -- is an extraordinary woman. She was a legal pioneer in Texas. She was ranked one of the top 50 women lawyers in the United States on a consistent basis....

Harriet Miers is a fine person....

Time's Person of the Year.

It's Vladimir Putin!
No one is born with a stare like Vladimir Putin's. The Russian President's pale blue eyes are so cool, so devoid of emotion that the stare must have begun as an affect, the gesture of someone who understood that power might be achieved by the suppression of ordinary needs, like blinking. The affect is now seamless, which makes talking to the Russian President not just exhausting but often chilling. It's a gaze that says, I'm in charge.
He's not just the Person of the Year, apparently. He's the Eyes of the Year. Time Magazine looked into them, and saw no soul. (Compare: "I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy...I was able to get a sense of his soul.")

The Madison meetup.

I was talking about doing a meetup with readers here in Madison. Now, there's a plan, but you have to email me to get the time and place.

ADDED: There's some possibility of an Austin, Texas meetup. Email me at may gmail address (annalthouse) if you'll be in Austin in the next couple weeks and are up for this.

"It appears that GOP evangelicals see Mormons as second-class Christians."

"What a sad and incredibly ironic lesson for the Nation of Zion."

Letter published in today's Salt Lake Tribune, written by Jerry Boorda, anguishing over the Christian evangelical preference for Mike Huckabee over Mitt Romney.

But speaking of ironic... is the expression "Nation of Zion" helping Romney's cause?

December 18, 2007


I just noticed it would be really easy to become the #1 Google search result for "rubberbandjo." But if you really want to make a rubberbandjo, this looks like a plausible method. Or do you think "rubberbanjo" is a better spelling? Might as well capture the #1 for that too. Aw, come on. Don't tell me you're not fiddling with the office supplies as we wind down toward Christmas. Hmmm.... fiddling.... what have we got here....

IN THE COMMENTS: There's an effort to assemble the Alt House Band with everyone playing instruments concocted out of various items. I mention the washtub bass, and then matthew points us to the gas tank bass:

Loved it! Let me offer up one of my favorite songs with some of my favorite washtub bass:

AND: Let's have some whamola in this band:

MORE: Here.

Do even more difficult aesthetic standards apply to the male candidates?

Yesterday, we were talking about that picture of Hillary Clinton that appeared on Drudge. My son John Althouse Cohen emails:
I read the Dr. Helen post you linked to, which was basically my reaction to your post. A couple additional points along those lines:

(1) What's the simplest explanation for why Edwards and Obama are the only serious male contenders for the Democratic nomination, even though Biden, Richardson, and Dodd are so much more impressive on paper?

(2) At least a woman is just supposed to look good and then there will be no further discussion. In a sense, men have a higher standard to meet: first, they're supposed to look good ... but then they need to somehow convince people that they haven't put any effort into looking good. At least the complaint about that Hillary photo -- she looks bad -- is a clear problem with a clear solution: look better. But the complaints about Edwards -- he cares too much about his appearance -- could only be addressed by letting his appearance go ... which isn't politically viable either (considering the demands that are placed on all candidates to be visually appealing).

(Preemptive response to blog commenters: I know someone's going to say, "But he was only criticized for spending $400 on a haircut, which no reasonable person would do!" Well, a price that seems inexplicable for ordinary citizens might actually be reasonable for a national politician who has to constantly worry about looking good on TV. Also, even if it was an unreasonable expenditure, there is still an unfair gender disparity in how much something like that will hurt a male vs. a female candidate.)


... momentum.

"I will on no account vote for a smirking hick like Mike Huckabee, who is an unusually stupid primate...."

I was quickly glancing at an article I thought might interest me enough to be bloggable, and the first thing I saw was this:
However, what Article VI does not do, and was never intended to do, is deny me the right to say, as loudly as I may choose, that I will on no account vote for a smirking hick like Mike Huckabee, who is an unusually stupid primate but who does not have the elementary intelligence to recognize the fact that this is what he is.
The first thing I thought was: Oh, somebody is trying to write like Christopher Hitchens. Let's see who. Oops! It is Christopher Hitchens. Hummph. That's odd. Clearly, when I know it's Christopher Hitchens, I have a much more positive reaction to his writing. In fact, even now, as I reread that, knowing it is Christopher Hitchens, I feel my hostility soften.

ADDED: LOLHitchens.

"The great thing about America, is that once you own property, you own it."

"Am I right? You can do anything you want with with that property. You can build a house on it, a business, you can plant flowers, grow daisies. Whatever you want to do with it. It's your property. You own it."

So says Drew Carey — obviously overstating it — but nicely capturing the emotional significance of ownership, in a well-made Wall Street Journal video about eminent domain. It's worth putting up with the intro commercial for the opening segment alone, where various men on the street are flummoxed by the question what is eminent domain. ("I don't know. I'm a tourist.")

December 17, 2007

Forget politics in this season of joy: Here's Huckabee's Christmas message.

It's not political, you big cynic:

I got this from Drudge, who says "HUCKABEE AD FEATURES FLOATING 'CROSS'... DEVELOPING..."

Well, I don't know what he's "developing" there, because the whole thing is a Christmas message. Huckabee tells us Christmas is "a celebration of the birth of Christ," and "Silent Night" is playing in the background. It's not like the cross is a sneaky, subliminal intrusion.

Let me confess that while I approached this video with an absolutely cold, clear view of how political it was for the Huckster to say he was setting politics aside, somewhere toward the end I got chills. In spite of myself.

OpenID commenting.

Have you noticed? It's gotten easier to sign in as a commenter here on Blogger. You can now sign in using your blog URLs from, LiveJournal, and AOL Journals, or with their AOL/AIM accounts.

This was totally...

... predictable. (Via Instapundit.)

That picture of Hillary on Drudge right now.

Have you seen it?

Caption: "The Toll of a Campaign." It seems so cruel. Immodest Proposals writes:
[T]his is the most significant photo taken in the year 2007. Think it will win a Pullitzer? Whichever photog snapped this photo effectively ended Sen. Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.

There's no recovering from that, image isn't everything, but it counts for a lot, and her image in that photo isn't the image most Americans would want us to project as a nation. You don't have to be wrinkle free to be president, but you can't look haggard and bedraggled, either.
My first reaction to that picture is simple disbelief. How can she suddenly look that much older? I know Presidents age horribly in their few years in office, but she's not President yet, and this seems to have happened overnight. Did some treatment wear off?

But here's my second reaction, on reflection: We make high demands on women. A picture like this of a male candidate would barely register. Fred Thompson always looks this bad, and people seem to think he's handsome. We need to get used to older women and get over the feeling that when women look old they are properly marginalized as "old ladies." If women are to exercise great power, they will come into that power in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. We must — if we care about the advancement of women — accommodate our vision and see a face like this as mature, experienced, serious — the way we naturally and normally see men's faces.

ADDED: A reader (and regular commenter [Reader_Iam) emails this photo of Hillary taken Davenport, Iowa early this year: "I was literally inches from Clinton... I suppose it's possible that she's aged so much this year, but frankly I doubt it. I think she looked quite good in person (better than my photo captured). I think that Drudge photo is a little unfair, and perhaps--perhaps--a little suspect."

Hillary Clinton

(The photo was done with an iPhone. I used iPhoto to crop the picture and to turn up the exposure to brighten the image. I didn't adjust the contrast or touch it up in any other way.)

CORRECTION: That last photo was sent to me by iPhone, but taken on a Nikon Coolpix 4600.

MORE: Eugene Volokh likes the Drudge photo:
I think it just makes her look more down-to-earth: Less carefully put together and more lived-in, an older professional woman on whom time has taken its toll — as it does on us all — but who has acquired the advantages of experience in exchange.
So, good. Eugene has the advanced vision I'm recommending for everyone.

YET MORE: Both Dr. Helen and The Anchoress note that men get attacked for their looks too.

Do voters worry that Bill Clinton will be a "'shadow president,' effectively circumventing the constitutional limitations on presidential service"?

Douglas W. Kmiec thinks this is a real worry that will dog the Hillary Clinton campaign. I know it bugs the hell out of me.

Anyway, Kmiec is talking about Bill receiving a formal position and comes up with the idea that H could appoint him to the Supreme Court! He mainly speculates about whether Bill would do it. In that regard, I note that Bill Clinton was always trying to appoint a politician to the Court (and only turned to Ginsburg and Breyer when his choices turned him down).

But isn't Bill spectacularly unsuited to the Court? His age and medical history alone would normally exclude him. And he'd have to recuse himself in some of the most important cases, it seems, as long as HC is Prez. But I'm sure he could handle the job, and it would be interesting to see how someone with his talents would transform the Court. The Justices are always so sober and scholarly. It seems to be a gray little world — for all its importance — but we all love a fish out of water story.

And imagine the hilarious turnabout when the Judiciary Committee calls in the witnesses to give him the Clarence Thomas treatment.

"It said my house is pink. I would not have a pink house, I assure you."

Says Mitt Romney. Context:
MR. RUSSERT: This was The Boston Globe back in December of '06. "As Governor Mitt Romney explores a presidential bid, he has grown outspoken in his criticism of illegal immigration. But, for a decade, the governor has used a landscaping company that relies heavily on workers like these, illegal Guatemalan immigrants, to maintain the ground surrounding his pink Colonial house." That was a year ago. A year later, The Boston Globe came back and the same company and illegal immigrants doing the same work. Did you report that company to authorities saying--a year ago--saying they're using illegal immigrants?

GOV. ROMNEY: Oh, it was, it was on the front page of The Boston Globe; a reporting was not necessary. But I have to clear up the most egregious error in that article. It said my house is pink. I would not have a pink house, I assure you. In an effort to--let me, let me describe the circumstance. And that is the very issue I just mentioned, which is we need an employment verification system in this country. I hire a landscaper to take care of my leaves and, and mow the lawn, and, and the landscaping company hires people to work for them. We're certainly not going to have an America where a homeowner is expected or even thought of going out and saying, "Gosh, I see some workers here who have an accent. I want them to bring papers so I can inspect them." As a matter of fact, I think that's against the law in this country. And so, in this case, the, the landscaper, or the contractor has a responsibility to ensure that their workers are legal.

Watch him say it here (at 5:17). He laughs. It's a joke. (Planned?) But why is it funny?

The last time we talked about the meaning of pink, it was that locker room at the University of Iowa which was painted pink to taunt or weaken the visiting team. It was subject to feminist critique:

After protesting the pink locker room at a Hawkeye home game in November, Jill Gaulding plans to file a complaint under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972...

"This [is] understood as a funny version of the slur that goes on in athletics about playing like a girl, playing like a sissy"...

"It’s based on a concept of gender hierarchy that says not only are boys and girls different, but more important it’s better to be a boy than a girl; it’s shameful to be a girl," said Gaulding, who is researching a book on cognitive bias and gender discrimination. "Anyone who’s not deeply in denial understands and acknowledges that the pink locker room taps into this very long tradition of using gender as a put-down."
So what does it mean to say I would not have a pink house, I assure you? It was a joke that he planned and inserted into the interview. He laughed to make sure you understood that it was a joke. But how are we to understand it as a joke? What is he trying to say?

IN THE COMMENTS: Palladian offers up the perfect film clip:

Glorious. I was picturing Mitt singing that song. Or maybe some Mitt impersonator on "Saturday Night Live." (I bet Giuliani would do it.)

TerriW said...
I guess he's not afraid of alienating the John Cougar Mellencamp fanbase.
Not to mention The Band.

AND: Commenter and New Orleans resident Beth thinks Mitt doesn't know that he's losing New Orleans.

The smart money is on Obama.

If by smart, you mean academics.

December 16, 2007

"Hryhoriy put his long life down to the fact he never married."

The world's oldest man dies.
In accordance with his wish that there should be no crying, a hearty meal was served of his favourite dishes: warm potato and herring, and cabbage with home-made sausage....

Oksana, one of the relations with whom he lived, said he had led an active life to the last, helping around the house, whether it was making dumplings or tending the chickens....

"He didn't find himself a mate because he was a short man and never had money," Oksana believes.

ADDED: Commenter ricpic writes another poem (and wins the title — it's been fought over you know! — of Poet Laureate of the Althouse Blog):
The commies came, the commies went,
Hryhoriy hardly noticed;
Earthbound, barefoot, his life was spent
Sausage, not Stalin, focused.

Live-blog it with me: the "Survivor" finale.

Come on. You're watching, aren't you? Let's talk in the comments. I'm for the mean girl. The eye-roller, who doesn't mind saying what she thinks of people. Did she have a strategy, or was she just horsing around? I don't know, but it was unconventional, and I'd like to see her get a million dollars for it. So, go Courtney. No, I'm not for the "lunch lady," Denise, because she never figured out why it was in her interest to support Peih Gee. And I'm not for Amanda, because I've seen too many contestants like her win. She's too boring. Todd is just too ridiculous with his endless pronouncements about what a clever player he is. The most attractive thing about him is his bitchy edge. But Courtney did bitchy better, so I'm for Courtney.

ADDED: The consensus on the Television Without Pity discussion board is that Amanda lost it at the final tribal counsel. There's some interesting gender critique:
[Orion7} I think she lost because she didn't step up and take responsibility. She needed to say, "Yes, I lied, and it bothered me to hurt people's feelings, but I wouldn't change a thing, because it's what got me here." Instead, she hemmed and hawed and looked timid. She looked as if she rode in on Todd's coattails, instead of the other way around. Todd admitted that he'd lied, and that it was strategic, not personal....

[Miss Alli] Colby and Tina notwithstanding, when men and women from the same alliance face each other before a jury, the jury generally says, "He was a spirited, awesome imp; you were a backstabbing phony." At final tribal councils, boys rule and girls drool. So it was and ever shall be.
She continued her niceness routine, which worked to avoid elimination, into the final council where she needed to claim credit. She thought she could win by being likable. It's funny to read the TWoP discussion and see how many people were disgusted by her "doe eyes." Is this anything like real life? Does it say anything about the glass ceiling? Perhaps not. In real life, you don't have to win favor specifically from a group of people you've harmed and with whom you have no ongoing relationship.

"You know who I love?"

"Sherlock Holmes."

"Don’t bogart the time, Barack. I’d like a hit...."

"... Carolyn, shouldn’t there be some timing device to let my young friend know when he’s going over, something that would go 'BONG!'"

Mitt Romney on "Meet the Press."

I'll write more when I can quote from a transcript, but I wanted to say that I thought Romney was excellent on "Meet the Press" just now. (And so was Tim Russert. Russert rules.)

Romney's voice was much improved over the high-pitched piping I've heard in the debates. Is it the one-on-one setting, the special TV microphones and computer processing, or is someone giving him lessons in how to sound like Ronald Reagan? I was multitasking so most of the time I was listening and not looking, and I thought he sounded really Reaganesque — the tone, the pauses, the personal warmth.

Warmth? From Romney?

I'm not kidding. Russert questioned him about his Mormonism. How could he accept a religion that did not abandon discrimination against black people until he was well into adulthood (age 31)? Romney carefully avoided saying anything negative about Mormons and instead concentrated on his family. His father, George Romney, walked out on the Republican convention in 1964 because of Barry Goldwater's position on civil rights. This chimes nicely with his repeated use of the phrase "faith of my father" or "faith of our fathers" when talking about his religion.

(Like most people, he's in the religion he's in, most likely, because it was his parents' religion. He doesn't come out and say: Oh, come on, don't needle me about the details of Mormonism; I'm just following a family tradition. But I think most of us understand that's how religion works, and that's why we don't bully people about why they believe (or "believe") the various odd doctrines of their sect.)

At this point in his story, he says that he still remembers when he heard that the Mormon church announced that it was abandoning its belief in discrimination. He was driving his car, he says. I am moved to tears. He then says, after I've started to cry, that he pulled over to the side of the road and wept. Now, that was well done. I felt the emotion in the story and cried before he says he cried. I don't normally cry at anything a politician says. I tend to laugh at anything sentimental, especially when it's at all self-aggrandizing. So I'm going to say he showed some fine — Reaganesque — skill.

Russert began the hour by asking Romney about his Mormon speech and focused in particular on the statement that "Freedom requires religion." Romney said a lot of things at this point that were designed to appeal to religious conservatives, but he finally got around to saying atheists and agnostics have their place in America too and that the key is to judge everyone as an individual. In his elaborate response, he kept invoking John Adams and George Washington, and I don't think most listeners understand the classic debate about religion and government that this refers to (which had James Madison and Thomas Jefferson on the other side). So it may have either sounded garbled or impressively grounded in history — perhaps depending on whether you like a good dose of religion in your government. It's the old debate about whether, generally, people need religion to be good citizens. Romney is trying to strongly ground himself in religion, while avoiding saying anything terribly offensive to those who think religion belongs in a separate realm from politics. Some of this felt a little off to me, but I understand what he was trying to do and that it's an immensely difficult task, so I still give him high marks as a candidate (for his party).

On abortion and health care, Romney relied heavily on federalism. He was especially persuasive talking about relying on the states to experiment with different solutions on health insurance. Here, he was able to confirm his belief in the value of the mandatory approach he instituted in Massachusetts, without saying he's ready to impose it nationwide. Conditions in Texas are different, but in the end, he hoped we might learn that what he did in Massachusetts was best. This was nicely moderate.

On abortion, he was clear that he wanted Roe v. Wade overturned, and this says a lot about the kind of Justice he would appoint to the Supreme Court. Russert tormented him with questions about his change of position on abortion, and he clearly conceded that he'd changed. He has a huge problem dealing with this issue, but I thought he handled it well, under tough questioning. I don't agree with him on this issue (as he presents himself now), so I'm only talking about his skill as a candidate here. I think it is very strong.

An excellent performance.

ADDED: Here's the transcript. Here's the key passage with the phrase "faith of my fathers" and the story of his family's commitment to civil rights:
I'm very proud of my faith, and it's the faith of my fathers, and I certainly believe that it is a, a faith--well, it's true and I love my faith. And I'm not going to distance myself in any way from my faith.
What went through his mind here? He's got a commitment not to criticize his church. But he's said enough for it to mean: I have criticisms and I could voice them, but part of my religion is not to voice them. Or part of my political strategy is to behave as if I'm taking the higher ground by leaving my sect uncriticized.
But you can see what I believed and what my family believed by looking at, at our lives. My dad marched with Martin Luther King. My mm [sic] was a tireless crusader for civil rights. You may recall that my dad walked out of the Republican convention in 1964 in San Francisco in part because Barry Goldwater, in his speech, gave my dad the impression that he was someone who was going to be weak on civil rights. So my dad's reputation, my mom's and my own has always been one of reaching out to people and not discriminating based upon race or anything else. And so those are my fundamental core beliefs, and I was anxious to see a change in, in my church.

I can remember when, when I heard about the change being made. I was driving home from, I think, it was law school, but I was driving home, going through the Fresh Pond rotary in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
I heard it on the radio, and I pulled over and...
Here's where I am moved to tears.
... and literally wept. Even at this day it's emotional, and so it's very deep and fundamental in my, in my life and my most core beliefs that all people are children of God. My faith has always told me that. My faith has also always told me that, in the eyes of God, every individual was, was merited the, the fullest degree of happiness in the hereafter, and I, and I had no question in my mind that African-Americans and, and blacks generally, would have every right and every benefit in the hereafter that anyone else had and that God is no respecter of persons.
Russert asks a near-perfect follow-up: "But it was wrong for your faith to exclude it for as long as it did." Answer:
I've told you exactly where I stand. My view is that there--there's, there's no discrimination in the eyes of God, and I could not have been more pleased than to see the change that occurred.
Again, we see that commitment not to criticize his religion.

ADDED: "Tears have always been viewed as non-presidential."

"Hey Clinton, Stop Telling Young Voters to Stay Home."

The Facebook Group. (Via Politico.)
We created this facebook group to send a message to Senator Biden, Senator Dodd, Senator Clinton and Gov. Richardson.

We targeted the candidates above since they gave conflicting comments about student voters in the press and at rallies.

We wanted each of them to encourage students that are enrolled in a college in Iowa to caucus, even if that means they are not "from" Iowa.

When we say "from" Iowa we mean students who chose to move to Iowa to attend school. Richardson, Biden, Clinton and Dodd seemed to be saying those students should not caucus.
Why pick on Hillary Clinton with the name of the group? They say that's the name they started with, and there's no way to change it. But really, if you're going to put a candidate's name in the title of your Facebook group, are you going to put Biden, Dodd, or Richardson? Of course not. Frontrunners deserve special scrutiny.

Here's the page with the relevant candidate quotes. For Hillary:
"Hillary wants every student who lives in Iowa and wants to caucus in Iowa and is eligible to caucus in Iowa to do so. We hope that they will and we hope that they will caucus for Hillary. The Iowa caucus is special because it is based on Iowa values. We hope and trust that every campaign is making sure that potential caucus goers have all the information they need, and in no way explicitly or implicitly encourages anyone to break the law by participating in two places. Not only is it okay to engage students in Iowa, but it is critical to ensure that they are active participants in the process, and we are doing everything we can to get them out to caucus." –Howard Wolfson, Communications Director
The Iowa caucus is special because it is based on Iowa values. What does that mean? It sounds nativistic. Why do we start with Iowa, anyway?

Let's read Politico:
The argument centers on whether to encourage Iowa college students from out of state to caucus in Iowa — as the campaign of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is doing — or to frown at it, as the Clinton and Dodd campaigns have hinted at.

Drawing an implicit contrast with the Obama campaign, Clinton spokesman Mo Elleithee said, "We are not systematically trying to manipulate the Iowa caucuses with out-of-state people; we don't have literature recruiting out-of-state college students.”
So, the Clinton campaign is accusing Obama of using underhanded tactics?
And Dodd’s Iowa state Director Julie Andreeff Jensen accused Obama of “scheming to evade either the spirit or the letter of the rules that guide the process.”
Scheming... manipulating...
Dodd declared that students who did not grow up in Iowa should not caucus, saying, "If you're from Hartford, Conn., and you're going to school at the University of Iowa, and you're paying out-of-state tuition, you're [unfairly] casting yourself as an Iowan."
Interesting that the rougher statements are coming from Dodd. Trying to help Hillary?

And what is he saying? Young people who go somewhere to live for years ought to go back home where their parents raised them if they want to participate in politics? The fact that a state school makes them pay more tuition imposes additional burdens?
David Yepsen, the influential Des Moines Register columnist, criticized the Obama campaign Dec. 1 for distributing a pamphlet informing student supporters that even if they are out of state on Jan. 3 they can return to Iowa and caucus at their school precinct.

Yepsen wrote, “These are the Iowa caucuses. Asking people who are 'not from Iowa' to participate in them changes the nature of the event.”

Yepsen himself admits that it’s legal for any student at a four-year college in Iowa to vote. The Iowa secretary of state posts information on how students can caucus from their campus address.
They scheduled the caucuses during the holiday break to drive you kids out of town. How dare you be so interested in politics that you'd come back early! Stay away, you bastards! Shouldn't you be hungover from New Year's partying or snowed in somewhere in New England or hiding from the winter somewhere in the South? You seem like just the nasty little idealists who'd be motivated by that damnably inspiring character Barack Obama.
[O]n Monday former President Bill Clinton [said:] “If this is your primary political identity then you should vote, but if it isn’t and you’re going to turn right back around and vote in a primary the next day then you shouldn’t because it means that your primary identity is not in Iowa.”
He's stuck 2 things together: participating twice (which actually is wrong) and having a "primary political identity." Toward the end of that (manipulative, scheming) sentence he suggests that participating in 2 states' processes is the definition of a "primary political identity." But he's creating a bad feeling that if you came to Iowa to be a student you're doing something wrong by participating without having the requisite "identity." And he's assuming that if you participate twice, the one that's wrong is Iowa. Why isn't it the other one?

A core American value is the right of citizens to move from state to state. If you want to talk about "identity," American identity includes an entitlement to relocate in another state. Now what is Iowa identity? What are Iowa values? What does it mean to ask young people to question whether they have Iowa identity and Iowa values?
The Hillary campaign has since issued a statement encouraging students to vote provided they don’t fraudulently participate in both their home state primary and the caucuses.
Okay, so they got caught, it hurt, and they backed off.

ADDED: And speaking of inadequate hyperlinking at the NYT... Glenn Reynolds notes that a NYT book review has a hyperlink on "N.R.A.," in a discussion of Roosevelt's National Recovery Administration, that sends us to a list of articles about the National Rifle Association.

It's not as if the Web were invented yesterday. Get up to speed! I'd be mortified if I'd made a mistake on my little one-person operation here. The NYT should be proving to us constantly that mainstream media has a professional quality that puts independent bloggers to shame. Instead, we bloggers have to write posts shaming mainstream media.

Two top 10 lists.

What is true about the persons on the first list is the opposite for those on the second list. Try to guess what it is before clicking on the link.

The first list:
1. Johnny Depp
2. Matt Damon
3. George Clooney
4. Jack Nicholson
5. Rosario Dawson
6. John Travolta
7. Katherine Heigl
8. Jay Leno
9. Dakota Fanning
10. Russell Crowe
The second list:
1. Will Ferrell
2. Tobey Maguire
3. Joaquin Phoenix
4. William Shatner
5. Renée Zellweger
6. John Malkovich
7. Julie Andrews
8. Bruce Willis
9. Teri Hatcher
10. Scarlett Johansson

Clarence Thomas: "I do not intend to answer articles I didn't read and most of which I consider extremely irrelevant."

What does he think about the New York Times calling him "the angriest justice"? He's not answering. Because it makes him angry? No, because it's irrelevant. Extremely irrelevant.
"I can't afford to be angry," he added several minutes later. "When you're struggling, you can't afford to carry that millstone of anger with you. You gotta let it go. I say that to younger kids who have issues with their parents: let it go."
He was also asked about his famous silence on the bench:
[H]e said that historically members of the court did not engage in "this sort of chattering," especially since much of a case has already been hashed out at the appellate level. "The real question should be, 'Why the sudden change?'" he said....
I wish he'd answer the "real question," then. Perhaps a complete transcript would show he did. Presumably — as the word "chattering" indicates — the answer would show disrespect to his colleagues.

IN THE COMMENTS: ricpic offers a poem:
If Breyer would stop his interminable chattering
And Ginsburg her incessant nattering
(Their excessive verbosity does so dismay)
I could think of something shattering
To say.