December 29, 2007

"I think he would play the role that spouses have always played for presidents."

"He will not have a formal, official role, but just as presidents rely on wives, husbands, fathers, friends of long years, he will be my close confidante and adviser as I was with him."

Get into your cage, Bill Clinton!

Notice anything terribly wrong with Hillary Clinton's answer to Wolf Blitzer's question?

"I really regret that anybody would try to politicize this tragedy. I personally knew Benazir Bhutto..."

Huh? The question wasn't about Bhutto, and the clip of Barack Obama had him criticizing her about Iraq. She gives a little smirk and a shake of her head as if Obama had just politicized the Bhutto assassination — which he hadn't mentioned (unless there's some editing) — and then she goes on to promote herself based on her various meetings with Bhutto. I'm not going to criticize her for "politicizing the tragedy" though. I'm going to criticize her for not answering the question asked, for cueing up a robotic answer, and for not having much of substance to say about the problems we have going forward with Pakistan. I don't want hushing about "politicizing the tragedy" filling up the time that should spent on a serious discussion of our policy toward Pakistan.

(Thanks to my son John for sending me the link to this clip, at TPM's YouTube channel Veracifier.)

ADDED: Here's the Washington Post's assessment of how the various candidates did responding quickly to an important incident:
One candidate, Democrat John Edwards, passed with flying colors. Another, Republican Mike Huckabee, flunked abysmally. Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican John McCain were serious and substantive; Republicans Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani were thin. And Barack Obama -- the Democratic candidate who claims to represent a new, more elevated brand of politics -- committed an ugly foul...

Then Mr. Obama committed his foul -- a far-fetched attempt to connect the killing of Ms. Bhutto with Ms. Clinton's vote on the war in Iraq. After the candidate made the debatable assertion that the Iraq invasion strengthened al-Qaeda in Pakistan, his spokesman, David Axelrod, said Ms. Clinton "was a strong supporter of the war in Iraq, which we would submit was one of the reasons why we were diverted from Afghanistan, Pakistan and al-Qaeda, who may have been players in the event today."
The clip above makes more sense if we see Hillary as responding to that, and I wonder whether the TPM editing was unfair.

IN THE COMMENTS: Christopher Althouse Cohen (my son) writes:
I watched the whole interview when it aired, and the clip you see here directly follows a long conversation about Benazir Bhutto and what should be done in Pakistan. Obama's comments should be looked at in the context of him attempting to connect Clinton's vote for the war with Bhutto's assassination, which he has personally done. Clearly, that's what she was speaking about and she interpreted the clip as being in that context. Wolf Blitzer did some kind of a lead-in from the discussion of Bhutto to showing the clip from Obama that the YouTube clip leaves out in order to make her answer look bad. People on YouTube are out to get her, and you need to look at the entire context.

Do you love a movie that everyone else hated?

In the first post of the day today, I condemned a movie about Heaven:
This was an early CGI film that was enough to make me never want to see another CGI film. And I only saw the trailer for it.

That made Blake write:
Ann Althouse casually dissed one of my favorite movies on her blog, which provoked in me a great idea for a forum topic/series of blog posts: Movies I loved that everyone else hated....

So, why do I like ["What Dreams May Come"]? ... [T]he "Hell" that Annie (Annabella Sciorra) goes to isn't a place she's assigned to by some bureaucratic angels, it's a place she herself has created through her grief. In other words, Heaven and Hell are made of the same stuff, just not by the same people. It also seems to be far, far away from Heaven, which reminds me of St. Augustine's notion that "Evil is distance from God".
The post inspires a comment from Trooper York:
The reason why people hate this movie can be spelled out in two words: Robin Williams. I have some rules in life: Never play cards with any man named "Doc." Never eat at any place called "Mom's." And never, never, no matter what else you do in your whole life, never go to see a movie starring Robin Williams.
Okay, so we've really got 3 topics here now, don't we?

1. Movies you love that everyone else hated.

2. Movies you're willing to condemn with confidence based on the trailer.

3. Rules for life movies.
I'll start:
1. Pecker.

2. Already answered. But it's my reaction to most trailers. Sometimes the feeling is so strong, I feel compelled to try to help people by saying something out loud — "There's no way that's a good movie" or perhaps a subtly vocalized "Ugh!"

3. Any movie with Claude Rains is worth watching. (A rule best demonstrated by "Deception." Sample line that is incredibly cool because it is said by Claude Rains: "Like all women: white as a sheet at the sight of a couple of scratches... but calm and smiling as a hospital nurse in the presence of a mortal wound... Good night!")

"Mike Huckabee is learning how it feels when people actually pay attention to what you're saying."


"You may have seen that some Hillary Clinton 'sock puppets' were recently outed on a New Hampshire blog, to the campaign’s great embarrassment."

Thanks, Matt Bai, NYT Magazine writer who is now also blogging on the NYT website. I'm extremely interested in that story, which I missed. I see you have created a link on those words "a New Hampshire blog," but when I click on it, I just get the whole blog! If you're going to blog, Matt, you have to link to the relevant posts. And he's written a book on blogging. Come on, Matt, links are key. Now, I'm forced to Google for the damned story myself, which is not a very bloggy experience.

Easiest to find is this, from the WaPo:
[R]eaders of Blue Hampshire -- about 800 a day, a relatively small but consequential group that includes party activists and state Democratic leaders -- recommend "diaries" that visitors should read. Yesterday, four readers who created new accounts and recommended pro-Clinton postings were traced back to Clinton's campaign. And those readers, Blue Hampshire noted, didn't disclose their relationship with Clinton. In the blogosphere, there's a word for this frowned-upon behavior: "sock-puppeting."
WaPo links to the relevant post at Blue Hampshire, which shows the ineptitude of the puppetry:
Recently, we admins noticed this comment thread on a recommended diary, and the oddities it posed made us look a little deeper than we normally would.

As the comment thread revealed, users pinballwizard, elf, shley24, MTAY all registered in succession to recommend the diary. A further look by us revealed that:

* they had registered within minutes of each other, including another user a bit later, janbaby, who was not among the recommenders,

* the same IP address was used by all of them, and is registered to the Clinton campaign,

* two other recommenders, blues and kmeisje, also registered from the same IP address.
Surely, there must be much more puppetry that escapes attention if this is how dumb it is when it's caught.

Meanwhile, here's how Matt Bai begins his most recent post: "I’m still trying to get used to blogging...." Please. Spare me the neophyte posing. You wrote a whole book about blogging! You should be demonstrating the art of master blogging.

ADDED: Speaking of Matt Bai not linking, I was just reading (and linking to) this essay he wrote about Stephen Gilliard — who died this past year. Look at how it ends (with my boldfacing):
[T]he few dozen mostly white bloggers who came to Harlem for the funeral saw for the first time the stark urban setting of Gilliard’s childhood, while his parents and relatives groped to understand what kind of work he had been doing at that computer and why scores of people had come so far to see him off. They must have been confused when Gilly’s online pals, sickened by the way some right-wing bloggers were gloating over his death, advised them not to disclose where he was buried, out of fear that someone might deface the site. The grave, like Gilliard himself, is known only to a few.
What right-wing bloggers? What did they say? Were "Gilly's online pals" correct in their characterization, or were they out of line? This just hangs there. NYT readers are left to think ill of the right wing of the blogosphere. Why, they're a bunch of monsters who want to piss on a young man's grave! Did any significant blogger gloat over Gillard's death?

AND: Speaking of inadequate linking at the NYT... Glenn Reynolds notes a NYT book review that has a hyperlink on N.R.A., where the reference is to Roosevelt's National Recovery Administration, that takes us to a list of articles about the National Rifle Association. The mistake is still there 2 hours after Glenn conspicuously shamed them about it. The NYT should be making a conspicuous show of its professionalism and superior resources on the web, but instead it is making mistakes that would mortify me — in my little one-person operation.

"If he overidentifies with Sharpton, he looks like he’s only a black candidate."

"A black candidate doesn’t want to look like he’s only a black candidate.... A white candidate reaches out to a Sharpton and looks like they have the ability to reach out. It looks like they’re presidential. That’s the dichotomy."

Said — is it too obvious? — Al Sharpton.

And from Julian Bond: "A portion of black voters want Obama to give them some raw meat. Because they want so badly to have their concerns addressed and highlighted, and they expect it of him because he’s black."

From a NYT article titled "A Biracial Candidate Walks His Own Fine Line":
Too young to have experienced segregation, [Barack Obama] has thrived in white institutions. His style is more conciliatory than confrontational, more technocrat than preacher. Compared with many older politicians, he tends to speak about race indirectly or implicitly, when he speaks about it at all....

In his 2006 book, “The Audacity of Hope,” Mr. Obama recalls sitting with a white, liberal Democrat in the Senate and listening to a black, inner-city legislator, whom he identified only as John Doe, speechifying on how the elimination of a particular program was blatant racism. The white colleague turned to Mr. Obama and said, “You know what the problem is with John? Whenever I hear him, he makes me feel more white.”

Mr. Obama finds a lesson in that moment: White guilt has exhausted itself. Even fair-minded whites resist suggestions of racial victimization. Proposals that benefit minorities alone cannot be a basis for the broad coalitions needed to transform the country, he concluded. Only “universal appeals” for approaches that help all Americans, he wrote in his book, “schools that teach, jobs that pay, health care for everyone who needs it” can do that, “even if such strategies disproportionately help all Americans.”

Exiting through the door marked 2007.

The NYT Magazine has its annual "Lives They Lived" issue, with short essays on a wide range of individuals who died in the past year. A blogger gets a farewell essay this year. Steve Gilliard:
Though Gilliard, unlike many bloggers, always used his real name, few readers knew much about him. They didn’t know, for instance, that at age 39 he had open-heart surgery to repair an infected valve. They didn’t know he lived alone in a small apartment in East Harlem. And, although Gilliard often wrote about race and alluded to his own perspective, a lot of readers never realized he was black.... The paradox of Gilliard’s existence is a familiar story on the blogs, where people often adapt avatars that are more like the selves they imagine being. Online, he was vicious and uncompromising. In person, Gilly, as his close friends called him, was reserved and enigmatic.... He lamented that he didn’t know what it was to “wake up naked in a strange bed,” but, he wrote, “at 35, I’ve figured out that this is it, at least for now. Anything I do, any life I make, is going to revolve around words and computers and strange, bright people.” [T]he few dozen mostly white bloggers who came to Harlem for the funeral saw for the first time the stark urban setting of Gilliard’s childhood, while his parents and relatives groped to understand what kind of work he had been doing at that computer and why scores of people had come so far to see him off.
There was Brett Somers, one of "The Match Game" celebrities:
She wasn’t Mae West, 80 trying to act 20, or an embalmed Gabor, but rather, with her Elton John glasses and Toni Tennille hairdo and saucy answers, an average-looking menopausal woman with a healthy regard for sex. In one of the most memorable broadcasts, Somers’s husband, Jack Klugman, was on the panel and seemed to be rushing the host, Gene Rayburn, along, as if to say that he and Somers had something better to do.
There was Mary Crisp:
Crisp testified before a Congressional committee on behalf of the Equal Rights Amendment in 1973 without really thinking about it much supporting the E.R.A. had been a Republican Party position for nearly 35 years. (The Democrats had been more split, some worrying that the amendment would wipe out hard-won but ultimately counterproductive laws protecting women from things like working overtime or lifting heavy objects.) But in 1978, Crisp ran head-on into the new insurgent right, which had built its grass-roots strength on issues like opposition to the E.R.A. and abortion. Once it became clear that Reagan was going to be the party nominee, she knew her time was just about up... The Republican Party made Crisp nonexistent at the convention she had helped organize. Her name vanished from the program. She left her Detroit hotel clutching a big pink stuffed elephant inscribed, “Go Mary!” which, alas, she could not fit into the airport taxi.
There was Robert Adler, the guy who invented the object some people hold in their hand more than any other object. Two animals got recognized — a parrot and a chimpanzee — because they almost, maybe, cared about talking to us. And here's a list of the famous people who died in 2007. As usual, it's a diverse group of people thrown together by the happenstance of death occurring around the same time. It excludes those who died too close to the publication date — but Benazir Bhutto made it — and those — it could be you or I — who die in the last few days of the year. We do have 3 days left. The new list starts with January, so, the spiffy look of the list is more important than acknowledging those who slipped into eternity through the closing door of the previous year.
Denny Doherty, 66, Mamas and Papas singer.... Frankie Laine, 93, hit-making crooner.... Anna Nicole Smith, 39, famous for being famous.... Kurt Vonnegut, 84, novelist who caught the imagination of his age..... Don Herbert, 89, "Mr. Wizard" to science buffs.... Tammy Faye Bakker, 65, emotive evangelist.... Michelangelo Antonioni, 94, Italian movie auteur. Ingmar Bergman, 89, master filmmaker.... Luciano Pavarotti, 71, tenor of his generation.... Joey Bishop, 89, last of the Rat Pack.... Norman Mailer, 84, towering writer with matching ego... Evel Knievel, 69, legendary daredevil... Ike Turner, 76, R&B singer and former husband of Tina Turner.
Don't you picture them traveling together into the afterlife? Didn't I see a movie with a diverse group of recently dead persons making the passage? I remember them in black and white, on a small boat, and arguing. Let's check this list:
1. Between Two Worlds (1944)... passengers on a shrouded luxury liner visit with The Examiner, who hears their cases and tickets them for their next destination, depending on who they were and how they died....
Close. It's a boat, but it sounds too large.
2. A Matter Of Life And Death... (1946).... the differences between Brits and Yanks—when the latter arrive in heaven, they stampede straight to the Coke machine....
I'm sure I never saw that, judging from the clip at the link, with David Niven sitting on the escalator to heaven.
3. Black Orpheus (1959)... following the rhythm of Carnival and the belief that the barrier between life and death can be easily, almost playfully circumnavigated, for those with the right attitude and the right paperwork.
This is one of those classics I always felt I should see back in the days when I was fulfilling the obligation of seeing all the classics. But I've never seen it.
4. Defending Your Life (1991)... After dying, mortals go to a big, bland city full of big, bland courtrooms, where their lives are examined to see whether they've conquered fear enough to be ready for the next stage of existence....
This is a pretty good Albert Brooks movie with Meryl Streep that got many viewings chez Althouse in the 1990s. It always irritated me that getting into heaven was an entirely 1990s American idea of self-actualization. "Self-actualization" isn't the right word, though, is it? People stopped saying "self-actualization" more than 15 years ago, I think. It sounds self-indulgent, but nevertheless more challenging than "self-fulfillment," which is what we'd say now. Imagine access to heaven depending on whether you'd fulfilled yourself on earth.
5. Afterlife (1998)... government workers... operate out of a run-down rural facility where the newly dead spend a week among peeling paint and bargain-basement furniture, selecting the memory from life that means the most to them. Then the facility staff recreates those memories on film for the dearly departed, who take nothing but that memory when they move on to whatever comes next.
This is an elegant movie, focusing on what is being left behind and not the arrival in the next world. We see a strange little place of transition.
6. Corpse Bride (2005)... the dead seem to hang out in skeletal or zombie form in a big Burtony goth-tinged paradise full of aggressively animated "inanimate" objects and spontaneous song-and-dance routines.
Not what I'm trying to think of, but it sounds cool.
7. Beetlejuice (1988)... recently dead couple Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis wind up haunting their old house... Davis and Baldwin have to acclimate via a handbook titled Handbook For The Recently Deceased, and because they’re held in place by an apathetic, overworked, hostile bureaucracy full of people whose bodies clearly and comically display the marks of their ugly deaths.
Excellent. I've seen this one many times. But it's not the one I'm trying to remember. Perhaps I'm thinking of an old "Twilight Zone."
8. The Rapture (1991)... Michael Tolkin’s oddball meditation on apocalypticism. After Mimi Rogers, suffering in the desert waiting for the second coming, performs a mercy killing on her daughter, she winds up on a featureless, vaguely otherworldly plain.
I remember Siskel and Ebert raving over this one back then.
9. Carousel (1956)... starts off with Gordon MacRae already dead and reaping his eternal reward, as part of a crew hanging up glittering stars in a space that might represent the sky, but which more resembles the auditorium in a particularly well-funded high school during a “Starlight Express”-themed prom.
That's not it.
10. Flatliners (1990).... the afterlife is a terrific place, full of Elysian fields or giant naked boobs, depending on the proclivities of the people who go there.
Fine-tune your fantasies, people, before it's too late. Make sure it's something you won't find tedious after a billion years.
11. What Dreams May Come (1998)... heaven ... has kindly guides to help newcomers adapt and understand the next phase of their existences, and it even adapts itself to its inhabitants' personal interests and tastes....
This was an early CGI film that was enough to make me never want to see another CGI film. And I only saw the trailer for it.
12. Don't Tempt Me (2001)... Heaven is a deserted, black-and-white version of vintage Paris where everyone speaks French, and a deserving soul like Victoria Abril gets her own private ’30s nightclub where hundreds of illusory patrons hang on every note she sings and beg for more...
In the audience, perhaps, Denny Doherty, Frankie Lane, Ike Turner, and Luciano Pavarotti.

December 28, 2007

Bloggingheads! The Forgotten Carrots Edition!

It's me and Stephen Kaus.

Covering the Bhutto assassination: NBC drops the ball (08:47)
Would a second Clinton presidency offend Jefferson’s ghost? (07:09)
Hillary’s secrecy about her First Lady days (08:36)
Prosecuting steroid use in baseball (10:42)
Ron Paul’s many weird ideas (11:16)
Ann schools Steve in the art of blogging (09:20)

You'll cry. You'll laugh.

The Death and Life of Ice Cream:

(I love the comments over there: "dude.. i would of ate that.")

"When a fly lands on a ceiling, does it execute a barrel roll or an inside loop?"

Questions The Explainer never answered.

"We terminated the most precious American asset which vowed to defeat [the] mujahadeen."

Al Qaeda claims credit for the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.

ADDED: "It was a spectacular job. They were very brave boys who killed her," said one militant leader. But note, it wasn't the bullets that killed Butto: "Bhutto was killed when she tried to duck back into the vehicle, and the shock waves from the blast knocked her head into a lever attached to the sunroof, fracturing her skull."

"Bhutto was fearless."

David Ignatius on Benazir Bhutto:
I remember encountering her once when she was a graduate student at Oxford, shaking up the august and occasionally somnolent Oxford Union debating society as its president. She was wearing a Rolling Stones T-shirt, the one with the sassy tongue sticking out, and I recall thinking that Pakistani politics would never be the same once she returned home, and I recall thinking that Pakistani politics would never be the same once she returned home.
Christopher Hitchens:
I found out firsthand how brave she was. Taking the wheel of a jeep and scorning all bodyguards, she set off with me on a hair-raising tour of the Karachi slums. Every now and then, she would get out, climb on the roof of the jeep with a bullhorn, and harangue the mob that pressed in close enough to turn the vehicle over. On the following day, her Pakistan Peoples Party won in a landslide, making her, at the age of 35, the first woman to be elected the leader of a Muslim country....

And, right to the end, she carried on without the fetish of "security" and with lofty disregard for her own safety.

How dare you talk about Hillary's voice for an entire minute!

Greg Sergent is disgusted that a minute was spent analyzing a campaign ad on "Hardball" last night. The commentators found it notable that the ad excluded Hillary's voice, which they speculated people are tired of hearing.

Sergent makes the don't-you-have-anything-better-to-do argument that I think needs to be recognized as nonsubstantive and trite. To Sergent's credit, he admits at the top of his post that it's a cheap shot and he's desperate. Anyway, start noticing this argument, and you'll see it's used all the time and get annoyed — as I am — by how desperate it is. It's really no different from saying I hate what you're saying or shut up, but it has this moral edge to it, as if you're neglecting some pressing obligations. The really rude way to put it is: Get a life. That is, you are not even a member of the human race if you are paying attention to this. You do not exist.

And let me add that it is worth analyzing the campaign commercials — even on the day Benazir Bhutto died.

"The 10 Most Anti-Christian Movies of All Time."

From New York Magazine. Don't miss the film clip at #1, which is "Uh, NSFW, unless you work in Hell."

(Via Feiler Faster.)

Great unknown musicians.

The 10 best of the year.
No They Do is the all-robot musical collective led by musicologist and "future's Alan Lomax," XJ3. Its album is the soundtrack of the inevitable future, in which robots destroy the human race, discover acoustic guitars and play robot folk music.

And that's just #10.

December 27, 2007

"We welcome and accept Will Smith's statement that Hitler was a 'vicious killer.'"


What various law types read in 2007.

Collected at Legal Times — including an entry by me.

ADDED: You have to register to read it, so let me copy what I wrote:
My favorite reading experience this year was walking around New York City and listening to the audio version of Eric Clapton’s autobiography [Clapton: The Autobiography] and then going directly into the audiobook of Alan Greenspan’s autobiography [The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World].

I loved the Clapton-Greenspan segue. Like Clapton, Greenspan found his first grounding in life in music. Clapton, the better musician, proceeded into the creative, destructive, disordered life of sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll. Greenspan got far enough down the musical path to play alongside Stan Getz, but he packed up his clarinet and moved into a brilliantly orderly life observing the creative destruction of capitalism. Now, as I continue to walk the streets of the city, the street corners keep reminding me of rock ’n’ roll, economics, and the delightful company of Eric and Alan.

Why does Naomi Wolf regret working for Al Gore?

Was it because her advice that he wear "earth tones" and establish that he is an "Alpha Male" brought him and her ridicule that continues to this day? No! It's that she took money to work for the Gore campaign. And it's a "big mistake for any writer" to take money from a candidate:
[B]ecause you can't then say whatever you want to say whenever you want to say it. That was the great luxury of being a freelance writer and beholden to nobody--which I had been, up until then.

Writers have to be free to criticize anybody and criticize the powers that be and to always be transparent with their readers. So since I was formally signed up with the campaign rather than volunteering as I had in '96
The problem with "earth tones" and "Alpha Male" wasn't that her advice was silly or embarrassing, it's that "the evil Republican National Committee... completely invented " it, and she "wasn't in a position, contractually, to hit back."
So it was very frustrating, when I'm used to being able to speak up, to not have a voice when the Bush Team was doing such a brilliant job of what we have subsequently learned is their specialty: creating imaginative lies and saturating the media with them.
This is from a Huffington Post series called "My Favorite Mistake," which I think is supposed to be about your own mistake (and how much you learned from it). Obviously, there is an immense temptation to identify something good you tried to do and to use the occasion to condemn your nemesis. Wolf succumbed.

My mistake was being so naive about how profoundly evil my enemy is.

"David Gregory Does Battle With Talking-Point Dispensing Robot."

Writes David Linkin (linked by Stephen Kaus). He's talking about Hillary Clinton in a maddening exchange with David Gregory. What struck me is this. She starts by deflecting Gregory's characterization of the way her campaign has treated Barack Obama. She calls it "inaccurate," and when Gregory asks what was unfair about it, she says, "I'm going to let voters decide that, not the press." Get it? Not the press. Then, referring to her status as "a proven leader," she says, "That's what The Des Moines Register said...." In other words, the press. She then proceeds to answer every probing question with the Des Moines Register:
... Well, I would ask people to read the Des Moines Register editorial....

... You know, [Bill Clinton] not only said that, but the Des Moines Register editorial implied that....

I'm very happy that I have -- I have strong supporters and I have editorial support....
I know listening to George Bush for the last 8 years has been trying, but are you prepared to listen to this for the next 4 — maybe 8 — years?

Shame on NBC News.

At 7:26 this morning, Central Time, I received a "breaking news" email from CNN, saying "Ex-Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has died, according to media reports." After quickly putting up a post, I thought the best way to see the unfolding news would be television. To my surprise, the 3 network news shows were not covering the story. All were either running commercials or doing the usual morning show material about your family's health or some American crime scene. I shifted to CNN and Fox News. Fox had Greta Van Susteren reminiscing about the time she spoke to Benazir Bhutto, so only CNN was seriously covering the story.

After a while, I went back to see if the network shows had caught up, and only ABC had. Most shocking was the "Today Show," which I set to record on my TiVo and filmed — crudely, sorry — to show you how appalling it was:

As you can see, Matt Lauer and Ann Curry are horsing around on the street, Matt introduces the news reader, and she proceeds to tell us that Benazir Bhutto has been wounded.

The next story is about a murder investigation in Washington, followed by the tiger escape in San Francisco, a pit bull mauling, and then — replete with photos of shoppers riding escalators — the way some people go to the store after Christmas.

It goes on. There's Willard Scott with the weather. There's a festive weather map of America dotted with snowflakes and Mr. Sun wearing sunglasses. Local weather. I stop the video at this point, but the embarrassment continues.

They go to commercial and return with a long story about colds and herbal tea. A long commercial break follows, and then we see Matt Lauer, sitting in front of a silver-wrapped package and silver balls, warmly sympathizing with us about the travails of celebrating New Year's. He's got a lovely lady in a low-cut top next to him on the sofa and, on the coffee table, there's a line-up of champagne flutes filled with champagne and other champagne-like drinks. Now, it's a pre-recorded segment on "all things bubbly." Back to Matt: Can he tell the difference between $5 sparkling wine from a can and $100-a-bottle Dom Perignon? That's got to be a more important question than whether Benazir Bhutto has died and what might happen in Pakistan. It is now 8:26 Central Time — an hour after the CNN email. Matt takes the taste test and guesses. The lady (Jenna Wolfe) giggles and says "Now, I don't remember which one I gave him." So they can't even get the idiotic champagne tasting right! Matt acts like it's just really funny.

Commercials. Local weather again. Commercial. Video of a cheerleader getting knocked down by football players. It's just one of many video clips that "caught our attention this year," we're told by a pretty woman sitting on the sofa, flanked by two pretty women and — over to the left — Willard Scott. Now, it's back to the story of the girl who survived the plane crash. The women murmur and coo mindlessly — "ooh," "mmm," "heartbreaking." And — you know what? — there is a coach who has helped his team overcome adversity. They chatter about what to do for New Year's. Why not cook something with your kids? They have some recipes for you. Willard says he likes to be with the family on New Year's Eve — "make cookies, drink cocoa." More weather from Willard. More local weather. Commercials. Plane crash survivor. Commercials. That coach who helped the team. Commercials. Those recipes. Commercials. Local news (about the weather). Commercials.

Finally, it's the top of the hour, 9:00 Central Time, and we see a picture of Benazir Bhutto, with the dates 1953-2007. Matt Lauer and Ann Curry are on the sofa, and Matt says he's back now with more. "In just a moment, we're going to have the latest on the suicide bombing today in Pakistan that killed former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. We're going to have a report on that in just a couple of minutes." And also more on that tiger attack. And that plane crash survivor. It's "nothing short of miraculous."

What an embarrassment!

Benazir Bhutto has died.

Terrible news.
Pakistan former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has died after a suicide attack, according to media reports.

Geo TV quoted her husband saying the politician had died following a bullet wound in the neck....

The attacker is said to have detonated a bomb as he tried to enter the rally where thousands of people gathered to hear Bhutto speak, police said....

Earlier, a spokesman for Bhutto told CNN she was safe and taken away from the scene.

Trees, snow, moon — at 7:26 a.m.

Moon, snow, trees — 7:26 a.m.

December 26, 2007

Nothing subliminal here.

(Via Bloggingheads.)

"If you want to find out if someone's really a libertarian, ask him: Do you think children should be allowed to buy heroin from vending machines?"

"A real libertarian will answer: Only if the vending machines are privately owned."

James Taranto retells an old joke (and then lambastes Ron Paul).

"WaPo writer Keith Richburg's journalistic hand-job" on Al Sharpton.

TNR's Dayo Olopade graphically expresses displeasure at WaPo journalism.


I've been looking back over my 2007 archive and putting together some year-end posts as I've done in the past, and I ran across this reference to a crazy Bloggingheads snafu that made me laugh a lot back in February. But I couldn't embed the video back then, and I can now, so let me show it to you. It's Jonathan Chait and Jonah Goldberg, and neither knows that Chait's camera is going into demo mode:

Vlogging the alternative radio studio.

I'm passing the time, waiting for the show — described here — to go on:

You should be able to listen to the show here ("A Public Affair," today, at noon.)

A tiger escaped from its enclosure and roamed around the San Francisco Zoo preying on human beings.

Astounding. Imagine going to the zoo — on Christmas — and encountering a free-ranging Siberian tiger. Three men were severely mauled, and one has died.
The zoo's director of animal care and conservation, Robert Jenkins, could not explain how Tatiana escaped. The tiger's enclosure is surrounded by a 15-foot-wide moat and 20-foot-high walls, and the approximately 300-pound female did not leave through an open door, he said.

"There was no way out through the door," Jenkins said. "The animal appears to have climbed or otherwise leaped out of the enclosure."
Let me quote — as I did when a 300-pound gorilla escaped from his enclosure — these lines from The Life of Pi:
[Zoo] animals do not escape to somewhere but from something. Something within their territory has frightened them ... and set off a flight reaction. The animal flees, or tries to. I was surprised to read at the Toronto Zoo ... that leopards can jump up to eighteen feet straight up. Our leopard enclosure in Pondicherry was sixteen feet high at the back. I surmise that Rosie and Copycat never jumped out was not because of constitutional weekness but simply because they had no reason to. Animals that escape go from the known to the unknown--and if there is one thing an animal hates above all else, it is the unknown.
This may be so, and then the question is not why Tatiani was able to escape, but why she wanted to and why so many other zoo animals do not.

The hangdog photo is bad, but "[w]hen the news is about your son actually hanging a dog...."

Great laugh line shoehorned into a WaPo article on bad photographs of candidates.

But let's read the article, which displays that terrible photograph of Hillary Clinton — we talked about back here — and talks about the various candidates:
In the partisan media (much of the blogosphere, the tabloids and several cable channels), these images are used freely and gleefully. In media that strive for objectivity, the hangdog shot raises difficult issues. In an earlier age of newspapering, sorting through the archives for an image that confirmed your headline was acceptable practice. Today, serious newspapers try to use images from the most recent campaign events rather than something a few months old, even if it fits the story line better....

And yet, the hangdog image is almost irresistible. All the hard-edged questioning in the world, all the grilling at news conferences and televised debates may fail to knock the candidate off message. But a single image of a sad, powerless, depressed politician is enough to break through the kabuki makeup and get at the Shakespearean psychic meltdown that is supposedly just underneath the surface.
Supposedly? We love to stare at the photographs that reveal the humanity of distant celebrities, but are these just as illusory as the smiling masks they try to wear all the time? The point is that there are so many images out there, that the choice of photograph is the real expression, and that belongs to whoever is displaying the photograph.

How to make patients think of the nurse as a doctor?

Have the nursing program give doctorate degrees and start calling the nurses "doctor"?
[O]pponents... say a plethora of professional doctorates will confuse patients and cheapen the prestige of academic doctorates, or Ph.D.s. Universities should not be forced to dole out doctorates to students doing master's level work, as is happening with nursing...
I agree with the opponents. A master's degree is not a doctorate. And I include the J.D. degree and note that no one goes around calling lawyers "doctor." Sometimes I get letters addressing me as "Dr. Althouse," and I invariably regard it as a mistake.

What was Hillary Clinton's experience as First Lady that might qualify her for the Presidency?

Patrick Healy writes an important piece in the NYT, and I urge you to read the whole thing. The first few paragraphs stress that Hillary Clinton did not have a security clearance, attend National Security Council meetings, receive a copy of the president’s daily intelligence briefing, or "assert herself" on various crises.

But read on. Healy interviewed Mrs. Clinton and various others, and I think an impressive picture of her experience emerges at some point. I am, as I've said many times here, averse to the idea that the position of First Lady is a springboard to the Presidency, but I could feel myself softening as I read this:
Friends of Mrs. Clinton say that she acted as adviser, analyst, devil’s advocate, problem-solver and gut check for her husband, and that she has an intuitive sense of how brutal the job can be. What is clear, she and others say, is that Mr. Clinton often consulted her, and that Mrs. Clinton gained experience that Mr. Obama, John Edwards and every other candidate lack — indeed, that most incoming presidents did not have.

“In the end, she was the last court of appeal for him when he was making a decision,” said Mickey Kantor, a close Clinton friend who served as trade representative and commerce secretary. “I would be surprised if there was any major decision he made that she didn’t weigh in on.“In the end, she was the last court of appeal for him when he was making a decision,” said Mickey Kantor, a close Clinton friend who served as trade representative and commerce secretary. “I would be surprised if there was any major decision he made that she didn’t weigh in on.”...

Mrs. Clinton said in the interview that she was careful not to overstep her bounds on national security, relying instead on informal access....

She said she did not attend National Security Council meetings, nor did she have a security clearance — though she was briefed on classified intelligence before going on some important diplomatic trips.

“I don’t recall attending anything formal like the National Security Council,” she said, “because I had direct access to all of the principals. I spent a lot of time with the national security adviser, the secretary of state, other officials on the security team for the president. I thought that was both more appropriate, but also more efficient.”

Mrs. Clinton declined to say if she ever read the President’s Daily Brief, a rundown of the latest intelligence and threats to national security provided to the president each day. “I would put that in the category of I-never-talk-about-what-I-talk-to-my-husband-about,” she said. But she indicated, and other administration officials confirmed, that Mr. Clinton would sometimes talk to her about contents of the briefing.

“Let me say generally, I’m very aware of and familiar with what the P.D.B.’s actually are, how they work, what they include,” she said. “And it wasn’t always through the Clinton administration — when I went to Bosnia, for example, I had a full briefing from the military commanders there about what the situation was like.”
Hillary Clinton is in a very strange position where if she claims too much experience, she confesses to overstepping limits. She didn't have a security clearance or the official role of co-President, but you get the sense that, at the time, she behaved as though she did. Of course, now, she's compelled to deny it, but she also wants to let us know that it's true. Yes, I know: how Clintonesque. And yet, I'm inclined to accept the experience argument now. What next? Grill her about those decisions during the Clinton years!
Mrs. Clinton said she was “only tangentially involved” in Mr. Clinton’s first major overseas test, whether to send American soldiers after the Somali warlord Mohammed Farah Aidid and his forces, a raid that ended in 18 American deaths. Asked if she had pressed for an invasion, she said she had acted “more as a sounding board” for Mr. Clinton....

Asked about her role in Somalia and Haiti, [former Secretary of State Warren] Christopher said in an interview, “She wasn’t at any of the meetings in the Oval Office or cabinet room, and didn’t take any formal role that I saw.”
Spare me the "formal role"/"tangentially involved" niceties, and hold her to account. Make her defend Bill Clinton's decisions or tell us exactly what she thinks he did wrong. And don't let her dodge around by playing on our feelings about the marital relationship.

Christmas decorations, the Freedom from Religion Foundation, and a radio alert.

I'll be on WORT radio today at noon Central Time, talking about Christmas decorations and the Constitution with Annie Laurie Gaylor of the Freedom from Religion Foundation. (She's a co-president of the organization, which is based in Madison.)

You have to be in a 50 mile radius of Madison to listen on the radio (at 89.9 FM), but you can listen on line here. We'll be in the studio and taking questions by phone. At (608)-256-2001 or (toll free) at (866) 899-WORT. After the show, go to the archive to listen.

If you want to bone up on the law beforehand, read Lynch v. Donnelly — the case where a creche was held constitutional — and County of Allegheny v. ACLU — the case where the creche was not constitutional (but a Christmas + menorah was). For extra credit, read Capitol Square Review Bd. v. Pinette — which held that Ohio violated the KKK's free speech rights by not letting it put up a cross on the statehouse square. There are also the two cases about Ten Commandments displays that were decided on the same day in 2005 Van Orden v. Perry (constitutional) and McCreary County v. ACLU (unconstitutional).

The Freedom from Religion Foundation just filed suit against mayor and City Council president of Green Bay, Wisconsin, over a creche outside city hall:
Mayor [Jim] Schmitt says Christmas is a nationally-recognized holiday, and city leaders have every right to adorn city hall with Christmas flair.

"I'm saddened by what has all transpired here. I'm saddened by the lawsuit, by some of the divisiveness it's caused, but it's Christmas and I'm going to celebrate it," Schmitt said....

"They're sending a message of endorsement of christianity over other religions and they're sending a message of exclusion to everybody else," said Annie Laurie Gaylor....

"In my opinion, it was a very expensive for taxpayers publicity stunt by a right-wing politician," Gaylor said.
Expensive? The expense is the litigation.

Here's an opinion piece by Dan Barker (who is the foundation's other co-president):
[S]ome of us do find the anti-humanistic nativity scene offensive since it assumes we are all sinners in need of salvation and slaves who need to humbly bow to a dictator — in a country that is supposedly proudly rebellious, having fought a Revolutionary War to expel the king, sovereign and lord.
And here's my 2004 post about the Christmas decorations in the Wisconsin Capitol building, including a photograph of a sign the state allowed the Freedom from Religion Foundation to display, which tells us "Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens the heart and enslaves the mind."

ADDED: Here's some background on the Green Bay creche. Don't miss the time line:
Wednesday, Dec. 12 – Schmitt is bombarded with e-mails, phone calls and criticism and praise for the display. He says the city likely will have to honor all requests for display space until the City Council can draw up guidelines and limits.

Thursday, Dec. 13 – City receives six formal requests to display symbols on the roof.

Friday, Dec. 15 – Practitioners of Wicca, a religion associated with witchcraft, drop off a wreath containing a pentacle, a five-pointed star used as a Wiccan symbol for the elements of nature. The wreath is installed on the entrance roof.

Saturday, Dec. 16 – City receives a request to display a plain aluminum pole, said to be a symbol of Festivus, a religion promoted by the TV show "Seinfeld."

Monday, shortly after midnight – Police receive a report someone removed the Wiccan display. Schmitt announces no displays other than the nativity scene will go on the roof until the City Council meets and decides a policy....
Ironically, trying to make the public recognition of Christmas more serious ends up making it more of a joke. There is a symbiotic relationship between litigious atheists and pandering politicians. They serve each other's interests, but does anyone else benefit?

ADDED: I corrected mischaracterization of the creche in Lynch.

UPDATE: Gaylor ended up phoning in and only making herself available for 5 minutes. She had her points ready and reeled them out on cue. But when she took at gratuitous swipe at George Bush for closing the federal government on the day before Christmas, and I disrupted the presentation by asking if she thought the Christmas holiday violated the Establishment Clause. She refused to answer and rushed off the phone. I got the impression that she was unnerved at the idea of going off script and exposing her ideas to scrutiny. I noticed that she continually asserted that the Establishment Clause law is very clear — which is laughably wrong and therefore best to done as a monologue or when — excuse the expression — preaching to the choir.

December 25, 2007

The Christmas cat.



(No, I didn't get a cat for Christmas. I'm not allowed to own pets. That cat just found a warm spot on my car.)

Merry Christmas.

I hope you have a happy Christmas, if you're celebrating Christmas. Is anyone here not celebrating Christmas today? If so, is it because you never celebrate Christmas or is this year different for some reason? Are you experiencing Christmas woes? For Christmas solace, congregate here.


December 24, 2007

"I know it's the holidays but we hope people use some common sense when traveling."

Did the weather wreck your Christmas plans?
Highways remained slippery for some holiday travelers Monday in the upper Midwest in the aftermath of a blustery snowstorm that blacked out thousands of homes and businesses and snarled air travel....

Early Monday, Sgt. Tim Elve of the Dane County Sheriff's Office said: "The roads aren't quite as ice-covered but we're still telling people not to drive unless they have to. The interstate is still slick and the rural roads are really bad."

Authorities had issued urgent pleas for travelers to stay home Sunday but officials worried that people would insist on driving Monday, regardless of the weather, to get to Christmas Eve destinations.

What are you doing to save Christmas?

IN THE COMMENTS: All I'm getting is people bragging about how good the weather is where they are. No one want to talk about the bad things that happened? Well, I know I don't. But I was trying to send out a subtle signal of empathy.

It's Christmas Eve, and thus far the posts aren't looking too Christmasy."

So let's go back to the previously blogged Christmas Eves and republish the most Christmasy one from each year.

First Encounter with Santa Claus.

Here I am, the skeptical one in the center. I'm almost 3, and the year is 1953. My sister Dell is enjoying the moment, while I'm suspicious about that beard and the lack of convincing attachment around the mouth.

Blue Christmas.

The view from my window, tonight at nightfall:

Christmas Eve

It seems that every year, there's something that gets us started singing "Blue Christmas." Like last year, it was another photograph: here.
Now we're listening to various versions of "Blue Christmas" -- first Elvis (the best), then Ringo, then the Beach Boys (the second best), Jon Bon Jovi, Vince Gill, Willie Nelson (nicely zippy), Fats Domino, Low, Leon Redbone, the Platters, Chris Isaak, Dean Martin, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Harry Connick Jr., Sheryl Crow (the worst!), Booker T. & the MGs, John Holt (reggae does not fit this song), Tammy Wynette... I note that most artists try to sing the song like Elvis -- it's pretty much homage to Elvis for Ringo, Bon Jovi, and many others. Too many people make a big point of slowing the song way down (which is, apparently, a way of life for Low). Ah, now we're back to Elvis, with a different version, from the 1968 TV special. The greatness of Elvis really came through in that little exercise.

You'll be doin' all right, with your Christmas of white/But I'll have a blue, blue Christmas.

Christmas Eve.

It's the third Christmas Eve for this blog, and I was just looking back to see what I did last year for the occasion, and I see that I looked back to the previous year and saw that I decided to repeat this photo I put up the first time I blogged Christmas Eve:

There, now, it's definitely a tradition.

Which child is me? The more skeptical one.

ADDED: And remember Palladian's version:

Now, my echo has acquired an echo.

"What we do is try to inject a brief moment of wonder that helps wake them up from that rushed stupor. That’s the true holiday spirit, isn’t it?"

Shopdropping = planting some item of yours in with a store's merchandise.
Anti-consumerist artists slip replica products packaged with political messages onto shelves while religious proselytizers insert pamphlets between the pages of gay-and-lesbian readings at book stores.

Self-published authors sneak their works into the “new releases” section, while personal trainers put their business cards into weight-loss books, and aspiring professional photographers make homemade cards — their Web site address included, of course — and covertly plant them into stationery-store racks.
Does it amuse you? Do you admire the shopdroppers? Or are they more like vandals?
This week an arts group in Oakland, the Center for Tactical Magic, began shopdropping neatly folded stacks of homemade T-shirts into Wal-Mart and Target stores in the San Francisco Bay Area. The shirts feature radical images and slogans like one with the faces of Karl Marx, Che Guevara and Mikhail Bakunin, a Russian anarchist. It says, “Peace on Earth. After we overthrow capitalism.”

What's the bloggiest sentence ever written?

Can you come up with anything to beat this?
Well, someone else read that post and used Google Reader's new "share" function to flag it and then I read the post and though I already knew waterboarding was torture, I'd never heard of the Aquatic Ape hypothesis before so I've been looking into that (it seems that most scientists reject it for what sound to me like good reasons) ... all in all an excellent way to waste some time while semi-watching the Giants play the Bills.
Blogging is doing something to our minds....

Masculine conundrum.

Is this a manly leg?

(Via Wired, via Andrew Sullivan.)

Originally, I wrote: Is this a manly arm? — a mistake that I caught by clicking to this and that goes part of the way toward answering my question.

I think that boy is going to spend a lot of time alone with that leg.

And quite aside from the crazy idiocy of a man giving silicone implants to his tattoo of a lady, that's an incredibly badly-drawn tattoo. For a while, I was looking at it and wondering why the artist made the woman so fat, and then I realized that was her right arm. And look at the left hand. It's anatomically all wrong. Well, what's the point in nit-picking, really, when you're dealing with an aesthetic blunder of this dimension? And I don't even want to talk about the effect of the man's leg hair on the woman's groin.

ADDED: Here's the theme song for that tattoo.

"It's apparently endorsement season in the blogosphere."

Writes Dan Drezner, reflecting on Andrew Sullivan's endorsement of Ron Paul. (Note: For the Republican nomination. Sullivan endorsed Barack Obama on the Democratic side, so... do the math.)

Do you want your bloggers endorsing candidates? Perhaps some, but not all. I don't see myself as the candidate-endorsing sort of blogger.

December 23, 2007

Let's take a closer look at Ron Paul.

Here's the transcript of Ron Paul on "Meet the Press" today. He stimulates our thoughts, and he adds important dimension to the debate, so I can see why a lot of people love to encourage him. But let's focus:
TIM RUSSERT: ... [T]his is what you have been saying on the campaign stump, "I'd like to get rid of the IRS. I want to get rid of the income tax." Abolish it.... What would happen to all those lost revenues? How would we fund our government?...

REP. PAUL: .... You need the income tax to police the world and run the welfare state. I want a constitutional-size government.... To operate our total foreign policy, when you add up everything, there's been a good study on this, it's nearly a trillion dollars a year. So I would think if you brought our troops home, you could save hundreds of billions of dollars....

MR. RUSSERT: It's 572,000. And you'd bring them all home?

REP. PAUL: As quickly as possible. We--they will not serve our interests to be overseas. They get us into trouble. And we can defend this country without troops in Germany, troops in Japan. How do they help our national defense? Doesn't make any sense to me. ...

MR. RUSSERT: Would you cut off all foreign aid to Israel?

REP. PAUL: Absolutely. But remember, the Arabs would get cut off, too, and the Arabs get three times as much aid altogether than Israel. But why, why make Israel so dependent?...

MR. RUSSERT: So under your doctrine, if we had--did not have troops in the Middle East, [al Qaeda] would leave us alone.

REP. PAUL: Not, not immediately, because they'd have to believe us....

MR. RUSSERT: Do you think there's an ideological struggle that Islamic fascists want to take over the world?

REP. PAUL: Oh, I think some, just like the West is wanting to do that all the time...

MR. RUSSERT: You would vote against the Civil Rights Act [of 1964] if, if it was today?

REP. PAUL: If it were written the same way, where the federal government's taken over property--has nothing to do with race relations....

MR. RUSSERT: I was intrigued by your comments about Abe Lincoln. "According to Paul, Abe Lincoln should never have gone to war; there were better ways of getting rid of slavery."

REP. PAUL: Absolutely. Six hundred thousand Americans died in a senseless civil war. No, he shouldn't have gone, gone to war. He did this just to enhance and get rid of the original intent of the republic. I mean, it was the--that iron, iron fist...

MR. RUSSERT: So you think we're close to fascism?

REP. PAUL: I think we're approaching it very close....
Ron Paul supporters: Are you serious?

Let me read Andrew Sullivan's endorsement of Paul:
For me, it comes down to two men, Ron Paul and John McCain. That may sound strange, because in many ways they are polar opposites: the champion of the surge and the non-interventionist against the Iraq war; the occasional meddling boss of Washington and the live-and-let-live libertarian from Texas. But picking a candidate is always a mix of policy and character, of pragmatism and principle...

I admire McCain in so many ways. He is the adult in the field...

Let's be clear: we have lost this war....

McCain, for all his many virtues, still doesn't get this. Paul does....

The great forgotten principles of the current Republican party are freedom and toleration. Paul's federalism, his deep suspicion of Washington power, his resistance to government spending, debt and inflation, his ability to grasp that not all human problems are soluble, least of all by government: these are principles that made me a conservative in the first place. ...

He's the real thing in a world of fakes and frauds....
So I guess Sullivan is serious, but he's serious at a level of abstraction that I think is really quite dangerous.

Fretting about the crèche.

Part 1: "'Your people shall be my people and your God my God.' I meant those words when I spoke them. I don't have to believe in the same God as my husband for these words to be true. I don't have to believe in God at all."

Part 2: "Tell him to take us to court to get it out of there. As far as I'm concerned, they can leave it there." "I take any such display to violate the separation of church and state, a concept which I hold dear." "This is very ironic, because much of Sauk County was settled by non-religious people."

"This season makes me think that individualism is way overrated."

Nina writes:
Isn’t it true that most people view themselves as being quite independent, carving their own path, listening to some internal voice rather than conforming to the (petty) demands of others?

It seems that the time you most like to do your own thing is when what is expected is too annoying, too displeasing, uncomfortable, grating.

If you place two individuals in the same room and both view themselves as being extraordinarily independent, what happens?...

[I] no one bends, then, unless you’re both on the same planet with your individualism (and it can happen, but how likely is that?), you’re going to be running past each other all the time.
Don't do it!

I don't know what "it" is, but it sounds really important. Am I being a troublemaker? Nice photo at the link. Is the girl really dreaming? Or is she terribly unhappy? Look at her eyes.

"If I had the choice of being waterboarded by a third party or having my fingers smashed one at a time by a sledgehammer, I'd take the fingers..."

Says a guy who waterboarded himself (but did not sledgehammer himself).


"Bitter attacks":
"John yesterday said that he didn't believe in 527s," [said Barack Obama]...

“I do not support 527 groups. They are part of the law, but let me be clear: I am asking this group and others not to run the ads. I would encourage all the 527s to stay out of the political process,” [said John Edwards]...

... Obama said his concern was not with the independent spending by labor unions per se but with the question of Edwards' character.

"I love labor," he responded. "It's just important not to say that you oppose" 527 spending "the day before" the spending begins. ...

"I already said I'm against 527s," Edwards said, ignoring a question about whether he'd call publicly for his allies to cease spending on his behalf. "I've been fighting against these people my entire life."

In 2004, Edwards demanded that President Bush stop independent spending on his behalf by the group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth with "three words: Stop these ads."...

But a person close to the group [said it] was barred from responding to Edwards' call for them to stop advertising — because that would constitute coordinating with his campaign, which is illegal.
Count the delicious ironies.

Twittering the Iowa Caucus.


Graffiti on State Street, in Madison, Wisconsin.


I'll bet your mom is buying you presents right now. Isn't she ignorant? The sheep. Doing what the corporations have trained her to do. She doesn't know what real emotion is. Unlike you. Thanks for you chalky wisdom.


Did you come out in the drizzling rain last night to a place that looked like this?


A random photo from the Madison meetup, which happened last night. Were you there?

ADDED: Dan from Madison was there, and he told an amazing story about that time somebody was ringing his doorbell incessantly at 4 a.m. — ringing it with his nose.

No embedding? No comments? The Royal Family on YouTube.

The Royal Family has a YouTube channel now — here's the BBC report — but it's really not much fun at all. Too controlling. I can understand keeping us from messing up your site with comments, but embedding is key. I want to mess up my own site with your video, but you'll have to relinquish some control.

I did watch Queen Elizabeth's first TV Christmas message from 1957, and fortunately there's a link to the transcript, so I can quote something (and correct a bad typo):
Twenty-five years ago my grandfather broadcast the first of these Christmas messages. Today is another landmark because television has made it possible for many of you to see me in your homes on Christmas Day. My own family often gather round to watch television as they are this moment, and that is how I imagine you now....

That it is possible for some of you to see me today is just another example of the speed at which things are changing all around us. Because of these changes I am not surprised that many people feel lost and unable to decide what to hold on to and what to discard. How to take advantage of the new life without losing the best of the old.

But it is not the new inventions which are the difficulty. The trouble is caused by unthinking people who carelessly throw away ageless ideals as if they were old and outworn machinery.

They would have religion thrown aside, morality in personal and public life made meaningless, [honesty] counted as foolishness and self-interest set up in place of self-restraint.
So even as YouTube is now new, television was once new. And just as television was part of a world that tempted people to throw out religion and live a life of meaningless immorality, we've got the internet making us feel lost and unable to decide what to hold on to and what to discard. We're still worrying about whether we're throwing out all religion and morality, and it's got to be a little heartening to see the Queen wringing her hands about it 50 years ago.

"Is Bill a loyal spouse or a subconscious saboteur?"

The Bill and Hillary psychodrama.
Is Bill torn between resentment of being second fiddle and gratification that Hillary can be first banana only with his help? Their relationship has always been a co-dependence between his charm and her discipline. But what if, as some of her advisers suggest, she turned out to be a tougher leader, quicker to grasp foreign policy, less skittish about using military power and more inspirational abroad? What if she were to use his mistakes as a reverse blueprint, like W. did with his dad?

When Bill gets slit-eyed, red-faced and finger-wagging in defense of her, is he really defending himself, ego in full bloom, against aspersions that Obama and Edwards cast on Clintonian politics?

Maybe the Boy Who Can’t Help Himself is simply engaging in his usual patterns of humiliating Hillary and lighting an exploding cigar when things are going well....

Hillary advisers noted that when Bill was asked by a supporter in South Carolina what his wife’s No. 1 priority would be, he replied: C’est moi! “The first thing she intends to do is to send me ...” he began.

He got so agitated with Charlie Rose — ranting that reporters were “stenographers” for Obama — that his aides tried to stop the interview...
Maureen Dowd sounds absolutely right to me. I note that she's reacting to the Matt Bai article that appears in this week's NYT Magazine. I reacted to it on Wednesday and said something similar:
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.
This too. (About that priceless quote: "Everything I'm saying here is my wife's position, not just mine.")

So: Loyal spouse? Subconscious saboteur? Frankly, I think he's too smart for it to be subconscious. I think he's devoted to her, but he's a dominant male, and the situation is inherently complex. Perhaps he wants conflicting things, but he must primarily want her to win, and assuming that's so, he needs to get control of himself in public so that we never see the part of him that wants her to lose.