September 13, 2008

Dear God.

David Foster Wallace has killed himself. Hanged himself! Terrible. Horrible.



Late day beachscape.


Pool feet.


Long view of pool feet:


"How disrespectful."

Okay, here's new McCain ad, and this is a nice contrast to the Obama ad in the last post. It eschews grabbaggery and sticks to one clear point: Obama got jealous when Palin upstaged him so he desperately disrespected her.

So I like the clarity and thematic unity. It worked well to begin with a reminder of the "biggest celebrity" ad. That set Obama up as a big narcissist who can't stand to see a prettier star steal his spotlight. Of course, that's not the real reason why Obama attacking Palin, but it's an effective, funny way to portray the attacks, which really do sound too desperate.

But I want to talk about sexism. Is this ad playing on the notion that women should be treated with special respect? Yes. I understand why the McCain campaign wants to do that, just as I understand why they decided -- correctly -- that a lot of people would get very excited about a woman VP candidate. But that notion offends me. If a woman is going to seek great political power, she must be scrutinized and attacked just as harshly as a power-seeking man.

You shouldn't be able to get away with the contradictory arguments that a woman is capable of handling the presidency and a woman must be accorded special respect. You shouldn't, but you probably will, and I can certainly see why you're trying. I just hope it doesn't work on me.

And it goes without saying that Obama's attacks tap into sexism too.

That McCain-can't-use-email ad.

Glenn Reynolds is blogging up a storm over it.

Let's watch:

Here's a list of my thoughts on that ad:

1. Obama is trying to do a cute funny ad that will get the kind of attention that McCain's "biggest celebrity" ad got.

2. The ad begins with the can't-use-email mockery but switches to McCain's really serious cluelessness problem: McCain has said he doesn't understand much about economics. These 2 things taken together mainly convey the message: McCain is old. McCain's age is also a serious problem, and Obama is justified in massaging our doubts about it, but there's an odd disproportion between the not being able to use email and not understanding economics.

3. At the end, a third item is thrown in, the usual complaint about tax cuts for the rich and nothing for you, which doesn't really carry on the old clueless guy theme very well. Then, we see McCain arm-in-arm with Bush, and that's a fourth thing thrown in, the old McSame theme, making that ad quite a grab bag. I would have preferred more thematic coherence and artistic taste. It should all have been about what an early 80s relic McCain is. The sympathy for the rich notion is not 80s vintage. And Bush isn't a guy from the 80s. They just couldn't stick to one great idea. I'll bet at one point they had a better ad, and somebody decided they had to throw in a few more things.

4. After trying to make McCain look geezerly and then showing him with that other old guy George Bush, they show Obama standing next to Biden. (And Obama looks like he's helping Biden along.) News flash: Bush was born in 1946, and Biden was born in 1942. Obama voluntarily paired himself with a man who is older than the man he wants to link McCain too. So that screwed up the old-man theme.

5. As Glenn Reynolds and many others have noted, mocking McCain over email draws attention to McCain's war injuries and might upset lots of older voters who don't feel at ease using computers. I'm not so sure this makes the ad completely boneheaded. You know, plenty of old people recognize their own limitations and see that as a reason to doubt the capacity of other old people. Old people are not just a bunch of vain cranks who get pissed off if anyone ever dares to impugn old people. Some old people admire youthful vigor and flexibility.

Last night...


Sarah Palin talks to Charlie Gibson about energy and the environment.

First, a word about mainstream media. Here's a key sentence in the ABC News report on Gibson's interview with Palin:
In the day's second interview, when it came to the discussion of energy policy, turf the Alaska governor is far more comfortable discussing, many of the differences between she and McCain were exposed.
That's professional writing? Lord help us.

Anyway, on that turf where Sarah Palin is supposedly not quite so comfortable, she refused to say that she knew for a fact that global warming is caused by the activities of the human being.
"Do you still believe that global warming is not man made?" Gibson asked Palin.

"I believe that man's activities certainly can be contributing to the issue of global warming, climate change. Here in Alaska, the only arctic state in our Union, of course, we see the effects of climate change more so than any other area with ice pack melting. Regardless though of the reason for climate change, whether it's entirely, wholly caused by man's activities or is part of the cyclical nature of our planet -- the warming and the cooling trends -- regardless of that, John McCain and I agree that we gotta do something about it and we have to make sure that we're doing all we can to cut down on pollution."
I don't know why she's being characterized as not "comfortable" there. It seems to me that she did an excellent job of putting doubts about human-caused global warming in a moderate and appropriately scientific way. Who claims to know for sure that global warming is entirely, wholly caused by man's activities?

Gibson follows up with the key question. (Look at the film clip at the link.) If you don't begin with the premise that human beings are the problem, then how does it make sense to talk about human beings doing something it?

If I'd been asked that question in her situation, I'd have had to bite my tongue not to say: That's the real reason for the demand that everyone sign on to the theory of human-caused global warming. People want to convince us to conserve, cut back, and change how we live, and that goal is served by getting us us believe that global warming is our fault. But the usefulness of the belief doesn't make it true.

But she doesn't say anything like that. She seems to think we can consider doing something to stop global warming even if we may not be causing it.

"We gotta do something...."

"I know it might be wrong. But I'm in love with Bristol's mom."

Playboy celebrates Palin (with Ryan Parker parodying "Stacy's Mom").

September 12, 2008

Where am I?


ADDED: Wherever I am, have a drink on me, here in this place we call the Nun's Oath Alehouse.

Obama says he's going to get tough.

WaPo: "Obama Campaign Vows Aggressive Response to GOP Attacks." NYT: "Obama Plans Sharper Tone as Party Frets."

Why not just get tough? And we'll be the judge of whether you're tough.

Personally, I'd rather you show me you're going to get tough on our enemies... and not just that you're gearing up to go ballistic on Sarah Palin.

By the way, if I were judging those 2 newspapers based on those 2 headlines, I would say that it's WaPo that's trying to help Obama and the NYT is subtly mocking him. Vows vs. plans, aggressive vs. sharper, response vs. tone and, most tellingly, the difference in motivation: WaPo has Obama vowing to respond aggressively because the GOP is the first aggressor. The NYT has Obama planning to speak in a sterner voice because the people on his side are fretting. WaPo's Obama is a warrior in a grand battle. The NYT pictures a party of nervous worries and their candidate who's got the wrong tone of voice and who needs to make a plan to sharpen it.

Thinking about Texas.

Are you near the big storm? I hope everyone is okay.

Biden has only been giving 0.06% - 0.31% of his adjusted gross income to charity.

Obamas does substantially better at 5.8% - 6.1%, but it's still really stingy compared to McCain who is way up in the 27.3% - 28.6% range. Is this out of whack with political ideology? I say no! Conservatives believe private charity should bear more of the burdens of caring for the unfortunate and other good works. Liberals want to see government do more, and we're expected to pay taxes to pay for it. I see no hypocrisy here at all.

"If you were really savvy, you'd 'manipulate' the media into a stampede of lurid drivel deriding her as a Stepford wife and a dominatrix..."

"... comparing her to Islamic fundamentalists, Pontius Pilate and porn stars, and dismissing her as a dysfunctional brood mare who can't possibly be the biological mother of the kid she was too dumb to abort. Who knows? It's a long shot, but if you could pull it off, a really cunning media manipulator might succeed in manipulating Howie's buddies into spending the month after Labor Day outbidding each other in some insane Who Wants To Be An Effete Condescending Media Snob?"

Mark Steyn is particularly amusing
lashing at what WaPo's Howard Kurtz has to say about the McCain campaign trying to manipulate the media. Power Line has something to say too.

I'd say something about it myself too, but I simply haven't got the time this morning. Please carry on without me.

ADDED: I have a few minutes now, so let me read Kurtz closely:
The McCain camp has already accused the MSM of trying to "destroy" the governor of Alaska. So any challenge to her record or her veracity can now be cast as the product of an oh-so-unfair press. Which, needless to say, doesn't exactly please reporters.....

As for the sudden insistence that Palin is a delicate flower who must be shielded from harsh rhetoric, take this example.
She doesn't need to be shielded. Bring on the "harsh rhetoric." It's made her the most popular politician in America. We bloggers ravenously await your next nugget of harsh rhetoric. And we will make you look bad when it's sexist or unfair. If that makes you mad... well, who cares if you're mad? But it's not going to win you back the respect that you lose when your "harsh rhetoric" is biased.
The lipstick imbroglio is evidence that the Drudge/Fox/New York Post axis can drive just about any story into mainstream land. Does anyone seriously believe that Barack Obama was calling Sarah Palin a pig? What about the fact that McCain has used "lipstick on a pig" before? What about the book by that title by former McCain aide Torie Clarke? Never mind: get the cable bookers to line up women on opposite sides of the lipstick divide and let them claw at each other!
Blah! I'm sick of the lipstick thing, but please. The fact that there is an old expression isn't enough. What if Obama opponents took to saying "pot calling the kettle black" or "call a spade a spade." There would be no end to the outrage... and rightly so. I don't what to hear the "old expression" argument from anyone who won't say they'd make the same argument if the tables were turned.

And Howard... "line up women on opposite sides of the lipstick divide and let them claw at each other..." Now, you're using the image of the catfight! You're trying to say that Obama didn't mean to refer to a pig, and you're clearly referring to cats and doing so in a way that is traditionally used to diminish women.

Ah, enough of this for now.

George's Diner.

It's a lonely little place, but I've heard the coffee is good. Some people step inside and turn right back around, because the conversation is all about George W. Bush. He's the President, but most places nobody has much of anything good to say about the man. But here, we actually find some folks who rather like the man and appreciate what he's done. Some of it anyway.

The Natural Look Café.

Oh, look! There's a second coffeehouse, where everybody wants to talk about anything but Sarah Palin.

The Lipstick Coffeehouse.

Here's a place where you can talk about All Things Palin -- the Charlie Gibson interview... whatever.

September 11, 2008

"I didn't hesitate, no," Sarah Palin told Charlie Gibson.

"I answered him 'yes' because I have the confidence in that readiness and knowing that you can't blink, you have to be wired in a way of being so committed to the mission, the mission that we're on, reform of this country and victory in the war, you can't blink. So I didn't blink then even when asked to run as his running mate."

Engine Company 6.

Engine Company 6

Photographed last September, the painted door to Engine Company 6:
Engine Company 6 traces its roots back to 1756 when it was organized as a bucket brigade on Crown Street, now known as Liberty Street. After several reorganizations, locations, nicknames, and a bitter rivalry with Engine Company 1, Engine 6 was disbanded in 1846.

The company was reorganized in 1846 as “Americus” and elected William “Boss” Tweed of Tammany Hall as its first foreman. By this time Engine No. 6 was popularly known as “Tiger” due to a tiger’s head painted as part of the decoration on the back of the engine. Thomas Nast later used the tiger in his political cartoons as a symbol for Tammany Hall. The company also adopted the tiger as its symbol.

Engine Company 6 was located in various places in lower Manhattan until it found its current home at 49 Beekman Street. Due to its proximity to the World Trade Center, the engine had a specially built pump that could push water to the top of the 110 story towers. Engine 6 was a first responder on September 11 and hooked into a Trade Center standpipe on West Street. The collapse of the North Tower destroyed the pumper.

AND: More on the men of Engine 6 here, with a picture of the "chalkboard called a 'Riding List' [that] shows the duty roster for September 11. It was never erased."

Fred Strebeigh on Joe Biden: "Ladies' Man: The backslapping, bloviating hero of women's rights."

Great article in the New Republic about the genesis of the Violence Against Women Act. Read the whole thing. I want to highlight the fact that a central figure in the story, Victoria Nourse, went on to become a lawprof at the University of Wisconsin.
The late '80s, Biden noticed, showed a rise in violent crimes against young women. Then, in December 1989, a man walked into a university classroom in Montreal with a hunting rifle, divided the students by sex, yelled that the women were all "a bunch of feminists," and killed 14 of them. Biden's aide Ron Klain handed the Senator an article in the Los Angeles Times by a friend who had clerked with Klain the year before at the Supreme Court, Lisa Heinzerling (now professor of law at Georgetown). Heinzerling connected that murder of "feminists" to a gap in U.S. law. Federal law tracking hate crimes targeted only, she wrote, a "victim's race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation." Thus, she argued, "if a woman is beaten, raped or killed because she is a woman, this is not considered a crime of hate"--a legal loophole "welcome to no one but the misogynist."

Biden posed a challenge to [his staffer Victoria] Nourse: figure out what Congress should do, and start by looking at the marital-rape issue he had tried to tackle a decade earlier.....

Looking for a solution, Nourse drafted a proposal for the "Civil Rights for Women" section of what would become VAWA.... The goals of the civil rights section were grand: make women "free from crimes of violence motivated by the victim's gender." But its method was more modest: give victims of such violence the right to sue their attackers in federal court. Nourse grounded the section constitutionally both in the equal-protection guarantee of the Fourteenth Amendment and in the Commerce clause (partly via language echoing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, itself upheld by the Court under the Commerce clause).

Even before Biden introduced VAWA at Senate hearings on June 20, 1990, Nourse began seeking allies among women's groups in New York and Washington, D. C. Both she and Biden recall that "inside the-beltway women's groups" did not leap to assist. In Promises to Keep, Biden quotes one group member replying, "Oh, Victoria, you're a nice little girl, but you work for Joseph Biden. Why should we believe you?" Such distrust, he thought, came because he was not "pure" in his support for abortion--opposing federal funding of abortion though supporting a woman's right to choose....
Ultimately, the Supreme Court struck down that statutory right of action, saying that it did not fit under the Commerce Clause -- it didn't regulate any commercial activity -- and it didn't fit under the 14th Amendment -- because the 14th Amendment only deals with state action.
Joe Biden may have lost in a titanic struggle to expand the civil rights of women. But, along the way, he showed himself ready to follow the lead of female attorneys and judges. As Victoria Nourse told me in a recent e-mail from her desk at Emory Law School, where she is now a professor: "[I]n a day and age when Senators were still fondling interns in the Senate elevator, he not only protected me, he listened to me, my legal advice, and by extension, all the women who talked to me."

No one can pretend that getting Biden as vice president lifts women's spirits as high as they may go with the election of the first woman president. But no one will doubt that, on that wet day on the slippery Supreme Court steps, beneath his senatorial umbrella, Joe Biden was there--trying to stand tall for the rights of women.

Barack Obama goes to Harlem... to spend some time with Bill Clinton.

The NYT says it's a " a long-discussed get-together that is intended, in part, to sooth [sic] any ill will left from the primary campaign and to give the two men more time to get to know each other."

In sooth
, I think there clearly is some thriving ill will:
The lunch menu, according to the campaign, was a choice of sandwiches and flatbread pizza from Cosi, plus salad. Beverages were not specified.
Sandwiches from Cosi? Cosi is a modestly upscale fast-food lunch place, but that's all they serve you in Clinton's fabulous 14th floor hangout overlooking Central Park?
Mr. Clinton said he had agreed to do “a substantial number of things” on behalf of Mr. Obama this fall, and would hit the campaign trail as soon as his Global Initiative conference concluded on Sept. 26.

“We’re putting him to work,” Mr. Obama joked.

Asked for his opinion about the state of the presidential race, Mr. Clinton replied, “I predict that Senator Obama will win and win handily.”

“There you go,” Mr. Obama added. “You can take it from the President of the United States. He knows a little something about politics.”
Can't you hear Clinton's thoughts? Yeah, I know a little something about politics... I know you stole the nomination from Hillary after twisting and distorting some little thing I said to make me look like a racist... And here I am in Harlem... When were you ever in Harlem? You had to come to Harlem to see me... I hope you're enjoying your Cosi flatbread and unspecified beverage...

"Is Pornography Adultery?"

Ross Douthat asks a question that seems to assume everyone is married. I think the answer to the question -- even if everyone is married -- is so obviously no that I'm not going to say anything else about it, but maybe you'd like to talk about it.

"It didn't occur to me until this morning that I had gone to bed without any worries of what a new 9/11 might bring."

Writes Glen, a commenter on the first post of the day. That post shows the World Trade Center memorial lights, shortened by a low-hanging cloud, on the evening before September 11th, last year, when I was living in Brooklyn.

You know, it didn't cross my mind that there could be another 9/11 attack today until I read Glen's comment. Do you think there is someone who deserves a little credit for this ease of mind we enjoy?

Another photograph from last year, showing how the lights extend upward when the clouds lift.

Memorial lights at the WTC site, 9/11/2007

"Wisconsin ranked second for 'extraversion' behind North Dakota and fifth for 'agreeableness,' again, behind No. 1 North Dakota..."

Well, hell, I'm moving to North Dakota.
Looks like Wisconsin is a hotbed of nice.

“It appears people who live there are healthy, friendly, socially outgoing,” said Jason Rentfrow, a Louisiana-born, English-based lecturer in social and political sciences at Cambridge. “It looks like people are calm, even-tempered, down-to-earth and practical.”...

People were asked to read 44 short statements — such as, “I see myself as very outgoing” — and rate their level of agreement on a scale of one to five....

[Wisconsin] ranked 20th for conscientiousness, 35th for neuroticism and 47th for openness.
Hey, wait a second! 47th for openness? Why am I believing self-assessments of niceness from people who are not "open"? Why am I believing self-assessments of openness from people who are not open? This survey seems to collapse on itself.

That said, you've got to see the important inverse correlation between niceness and openness. How do you think people are able to be so nice?

Would you like to live in a "tiny house"?

We're not talking about a house that's very small -- under 700 or even under 500 square feet -- because that's all you can afford and times are hard, but a tiny house that you like precisely because of what that compact space does to you. You want that aesthetic. You embrace that relationship between the space that encloses you and that wider landscape onto which you've plunked it.

Be clear. This is not like living in a small apartment. Many people live in apartments that are far less than 500 square feet. That's not new and it's no kind of statement. What we're talking about here are very chic but austere house-cubicles perched on scenic landscapes. This is not going to work if you line these things up close together, of course, because then it's basically a trailer park, and that couldn't be a chic new lifestyle with a write-up in the New York Times. You've got to have that thing up on a mountaintop or out in the forest.

Once there, you will suffer from occasional bouts of angst. The thought this is how the Unabomber lived will inevitably rattle that brain you had meant to calm. Conquer these doubts. Remember: This was written up in the New York Times.

ADDED: I'm imagining a screenplay about a guy who goes for this idea. Of course, he's idealistic and comically naive. And bad things will have to happen to him. He's from the city and there are un-chic local people who don't really like his attitude. I think I'll have a group of them sneak up the mountain at night and tip the house over.

"This isn't the 'Raid Ant-And-Roach-Killer Present: A Tribute To Vincent Gallo' party?"


Can Obama count on a big turnout of youth voters to give him the winning edge? I think not.

And I'll tell you exactly why. But first, look at this Slate article on the "youth vote." ("Youth vote" is a silly and inapt term, and Slate appropriately puts it in quotes. You have to be 18 to vote, and the demographic group in question may be young as adults go, but they aren't "youths.")
On Election Day 2004, kids turned out in record numbers: About 4.6 million more people under the age of 29 voted in 2004 than in 2000. Yet 18- to 29-year-olds accounted for only 17 percent of voters—roughly the same as in 2000—because the geezer vote also grew. As a result, youth mobilization was declared a myth, perhaps unjustifiably. "We rocked the vote all right," Hunter S. Thompson said at the time. "Those little bastards betrayed us again."

Of course, organizers are saying this year could be different....

Primary bump: Youth turnout in the primaries saw a huge jump over previous years....

The '06 wave: Speculators wouldn't be so optimistic if it weren't for the Phish-like levels of participation in the midterm elections....
Phish-like levels, from '06? Doesn't that stink by now, even if wrapped in newspaper?
... Students for Obama has organized more than 700 chapters, the campaign says. Groups like Rock the Vote and Campus Progress are also registering voters on campuses....

[We now have a lot of] e-mail, text messages, RSS feeds, tweets, and social networking....

... But in a poll conducted in February by Rock the Vote and the Tarrance Group, 82 percent of voters under 29 said they were likely to vote in November, including 62 percent who called it "extremely likely."
But who knows? Who knows is Slate's bottom line.

Now, what I want to talk about is mass psychology. My theory is that Obama's popularity took off among young people because he hit a tipping point where his very popularity generated extreme popularity. Once it seemed that loving Obama was the thing that was happening, people wanted to be part of what was happening. There was that inspiring "Yes We Can" period last February. Bonding took place. If that feeling persists, perhaps it propels young people to the polls.

But that feeling has dissipated. Obama is no longer the improbable, fascinating newcomer who rises up to conquer the indomitable overlady. He's the familiar, good but flawed politician who found a path to the nomination and is having trouble holding onto what was once a nice lead in the polls. He was so different, he was magnetizing everyone, radiating an exciting aura. Those crowds of young people wanted to be in on that, part of that.

And now there's another newcomer who is fascinating people too, and even if she's fascinating different people, it dims Obama's power to fascinate or it dims the significance of fascination to those who were once fascinated. Fascination itself has lost its aura now that those people -- those uncool people -- are fascinated by Sarah Palin.

So it starts to feel like just another presidential campaign. The reason to vote for Obama becomes not much more than the idea that the Democrats supposedly have better policies than the Republicans. What's the thrill of that? Where's the "Yes We Can" vibe when it's only a politician trying to get elected? What's the big deal about being part of that? The throng disperses.

I predict that unless Obama is already on track to win by a good margin, the young voters won't turn out in droves. That is, they'll be psyched about voting if they think he's a big winner. But if it looks like he's going to lose, there won't be that extra boost of young voters to put him over the edge. They will slip back into their traditional political lukewarmth.

Slate article about John and Sarah that makes me think of Charles and Diana.

The Slate article, by Bill Gifford, is called "McCain's Visit to Palin Country: I Went to a Sarah Palin Rally, But All I Got Was a Lousy Handshake from John McCain":
The fire marshals have said no more people can be allowed into the gym....

Inside, the rally has already started.... [T]he screen flashes on, and there they are: Palin in her blood-red power suit, McCain standing next to her. She goes first, launching into a remixed version of her convention speech; in her squeaky, cheerleader-mom voice, its harsh sentiments come off as almost saucy. The crowd hoots and claps at the screen....

We can't really hear too well, the sound's been turned down so low, but still people clap and cheer. We're happy at last because we've realized we're going to get something far more precious: Palin and McCain will be coming out this side door, and we'll have our own private audience! ....

We wait some more. Finally McCain comes striding around from the back of the building, with a huge grin. But no Palin. The crowd cheers anyway....
McCain and Palin are doing rallies as a team, and it is too obvious that the crowd is genuinely thrilled about her. She is the one they've been waiting for (to vary a phrase).

There's a scene in Tina Brown's "Diana Chronicles." (You can read the passage if you go to that link and use the "search inside" function with "spina bifida" -- trust me -- and read forward.)

It's shortly after the wedding, and Charles and Diana are making an appearance in Wales. Charles, who's been the Prince of Wales all his life and expects the usual adoration, goes down one side of a crowded street and greets people in his usual style and Diana, the new Princess, proceeds down the other side glowing and touching and crouching in her distinctive new way. Occasionally, the couple switch sides, which means that the people waiting their turn are never sure if they are going to get personal contact with Charles or Diana. And every time the switch is made, the side of the street that is about to get Charles sighs with audible disappointment.

As Tina Brown tells it, Diana's superior popularity gets to Charles. It's not the only thing that wrecks the marriage, which was never on solid ground, but it's one of the many things.

What is it like for a man to suddenly find himself conspicuously upstaged and outloved by a woman that he picked out of near-obscurity to stand by him? Can he see it as his own great good fortune and benefit from the positive value, or does it eat at him, sour him, and ruin everything?

Charles, we know, blew it. He retreated into the arms of his comfortable old friend, Camilla Parker-Bowles, the woman he'd wanted all along, whom the family would not allow him to marry.

We don't know how John McCain will handle the country's dazzling, out-of-proportion love for Sarah Palin... other than that we can be quite sure that he won't retreat into the comfortable arms of Joe Lieberman.


Lower Manhattan, September 10, 2007

September 10, 2008

"'It’s still a pig,' he said to loud applause," says Jeff Zeleny of the NYT, featuring Obama's defense of the Lipsticked Pig remark.

Here. But the thing is I know that the crowd laughed -- and Obama paused to encourage the crowd to laugh -- after he said "You can put lipstick on a pig," and before he said, "but it's still a pig." So it's obvious to me that the NYT is not playing it straight. Does it make a whole lot of difference? Obama's position is still defensible, but I hate to see the NYT helping him defend himself. Play it straight. Tell the truth. We have the video. We don't have to trust you anymore.

Do lawprofs give so much money to Democrats and almost none to Republicans because we're so cosmopolitan and well-educated?

Brian Leiter thinks so.

Stephen Bainbridge calls bullshit on that.

Gary Hart: "If a majority of voters... think that it is cute to have a moose-hunting hockey mom run the country, then that's what we'll get."

Was that enough sneering for you? If not, there's a longer clip, here.

Somebody needs to tell these guys that Sarah Palin is the Governor of Alaska. And Reagan was the Governor of California.

Help! What is the problem with playing the videos I embed here?

I keep getting email like this:
... I am having a problem viewing videos that you embed there. When I click them, it loads and plays the first 2 seconds and then stops and will not go further. Also there is no sound.

If I click through to YouTube and attempt to view them there, the same thing happens, always with no sound.

I am a fairly competent computer user and view online videos frequently – either on blogs or through YouTube directly. This is the only site this happens on. I can’t figure it out. It seems to download the entire clip but will only play the first 2 seconds. If I drag the progress bar, it will show a frame later in the clip, but only play 2 seconds from that point and then freeze again. And again, with no sound.

Any ideas? Has anyone else mentioned this?

The answer to the last question is yes. Any help? I think this is only happening with Firefox.

Enough with the pigs, fish, snakes, and lambs... here come the wolves!

It's the new McCain campaign ad, referred to in an update to an earlier post today. Unlike the pigs-and-fish ad (that seems to have become unavailable), the animal imagery here is wolves: Remember that great old Bush ad with wolves: Except there, the wolves were terrorists. In this new ad, the wolves are the dreaded opposition researchers. And now seems like a good time to revisit my favorite old political animal ad, "There's a bear in the woods": All this animal imagery suggests that politics has descended to a subhuman level. It wasn't supposed to be like this!

Paglia on Palin: "a brand new style of muscular American feminism," "combining male and female qualities in ways that I have never seen."

Continuing with the Paglia article, let's look at the part about Sarah Palin:
Conservative though she may be, I felt that Palin represented an explosion of a brand new style of muscular American feminism. At her startling debut on that day, she was combining male and female qualities in ways that I have never seen before...

As a dissident feminist, I have been arguing since my arrival on the scene nearly 20 years ago that young American women aspiring to political power should be studying military history rather than taking women's studies courses, with their rote agenda of never-ending grievances....

I am still waiting for substantive evidence that Sarah Palin is a dangerous extremist. I am perfectly willing to be convinced, but right now, she seems to be merely an optimistic pragmatist like Ronald Reagan, someone who pays lip service to religious piety without being in the least wedded to it. I don't see her arrival as portending the end of civil liberties or life as we know it....

A feminism that cannot admire the bravura under high pressure of the first woman governor of a frontier state isn't worth a warm bucket of spit....

Now that's the Sarah Palin brand of can-do, no-excuses, moose-hunting feminism -- a world away from the whining, sniping, wearily ironic mode of the establishment feminism represented by Gloria Steinem, a Hillary Clinton supporter whose shameless Democratic partisanship over the past four decades has severely limited American feminism and not allowed it to become the big tent it can and should be. Sarah Palin, if her reputation survives the punishing next two months, may be breaking down those barriers. Feminism, which should be about equal rights and equal opportunity, should not be a closed club requiring an ideological litmus test for membership.
Exactly. This is the way I feel too. I may not agree with a lot of things Palin stands for, but I celebrate this advance in feminism.

This is great for women, and it's especially great that it is happening from the conservative side, because feminism is already well-entrenched among liberals. Let feminism spread amongst conservatives, in this new version that is purged of all the off-putting trappings of liberal attitudes and issues.

Camille Paglia -- a big Obama supporter -- rips his performace at Saddleback.

She writes:
What in the world possessed the Obama campaign to let their guy wander like a dazed lamb into a snake pit of religious inquisition like Rick Warren's public forum last month at his Saddleback Church in California? That shambles of a performance -- where a surprisingly unprepared Obama met the inevitable question about abortion with shockingly curt glibness -- began his alarming slide.
Well, I'm glad to see an Obama supporter openly criticize him over this. It's been embarrassingly common for Obama supporters to deal with the problem by saying I didn't see it. Maybe you didn't see it, but it's not as though you just forgot to watch TV one night. It's on the internet. You can still see it. And the people who are going to decide the election will see it -- especially the worst parts of Obama's performance.

And those worst parts -- with their "shockingly curt glibness" -- show a worrisome side of Obama. He's relying on an easygoing demeanor and likeability. He's gotten very far in life being not just "likeable enough" but extremely likeable, which, alone, isn't going to be enough.

But let's talk about Camille's animal imagery (on this day where we've already discussed pigs and fish). Do lambs ever have the occasion to wander into snake pits? And what's the deal with snake pits anyway?

So a snake pit is just a big snake orgy, not a trap for you or me or the little lambikins. The snakes in the pit are interested in the other snakes. So a better image would be of an innocent young snake entering the snake pit.

But many of us, surely including Paglia, think of snake pits in terms of that Olivia de Havilland movie "The Snake Pit":
She is sent to an overcrowded state hospital for treatment... she is sorely abused by resentful matrons and profoundly disturbed patients. Throughout the film, she is threatened with being clapped into "the snake pit" -- an open room where the most severe cases are permitted to roam about and jabber incoherently -- if she doesn't realign her thinking.
Is that the way we think ought to think of Rick Warren's outfit? I thought Warren's questioning was impressively fair and sane. He certainly jabbering incoherently, and -- I must go off on Paglia's rhetoric -- incoherent jabbering wouldn't be much of an "inquisition."

But snakes seem biblical -- there's that snake in the Garden of Eden -- and the Inquisition is religious, so why not toss them together. If that's the rhetoric -- everything's religious. Then why portray Obama as a lamb?


And the McCain campaign is not giving Obama a pass on the Lipsticked Pig remark.

(Via HotAir.)

I'm surprised the campaign is forthrightly using this material, and it's interesting to see how they've chosen to do it. It's a skillful presentation the 2 "lipstick" remarks. Palin's line, beautifully delivered, has a charming self-referential humor. It's a cute, folksy boast that is also self-effacing.

Obama's line is intended to be mean. If it doesn't refer to Palin -- and the intertitle tells us it does -- then it's just an old cliché. His delivery feels off. He stammers before he says "You can put lipstick on a pig," as if he lacks full confidence in what he's about to say. Then he scratches his forehead while he pauses, and the audience laughs. Only then does he go on to say "it's still a pig," after which he puts his hand in his pocket. I can see how that pause cues to the audience that this is where you're supposed to laugh, and they do laugh. The punchline of the old cliché is "it's still a pig," not "you can put lipstick on a pig." So the pause -- as well the forehead scratching -- suggest that Obama wanted people to think about Palin as the pig wearing lipstick.

In any case, Katie Couric pops up in the end to instruct us that sexism has been at play in this election.

The ad is essentially saying: Here's the evidence. Make up your own mind.

UPDATE: Hey, the McCain ad is no longer available, and I can't find it on the McCain YouTube page. Did the campaign take it down? Does someone have a link to it elsewhere? I am seeing this new ad, which, in a more general way, complains about attacks on Palin.

AND: I'm moving the new ad to a new post, since there are already over 200 comments here.

AND: Here's Katie Couric in the original context, which is commenting on the sexism aimed at Hillary Clinton.

"You know, you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig. You can wrap an old fish in a piece of paper called 'change,' it’s still gonna stink."

Said Obama, and speaking of stink, it's raised quite a stink.

Now, I didn't blog this yesterday, because frankly, I considered it absolutely nothing. "Lipstick on a pig" is an extremely common expression, and it doesn't become taboo because somebody else made a wisecrack about lipstick on another animal or because that somebody else happens to wear lipstick.

And I don't like seeing a lot of men jumping to Sarah's defense over some other man's possible sexist slur of her. Excessive chivalry doesn't advance feminism, and women themselves, as Palin famously said, have "got to plow through." No whining.

But I'm putting this post up for 2 reasons:

1. I can see from comments on various other posts that my readers want to talk about it.

2. There's one thing I haven't seen anyone else say that I think needs to be said. Obama did not just mention a pig. He immediately mentioned a fish. That's 2 animals in rapid succession. And both of these animals are frequently used in sexual insults referring to women. The reference to the pig also has it wearing lipstick, which is obviously a female image. And the reference to a fish also has it stinking, which is exactly the aspect of fish that is used when fish are invoked to insult women. I still think it's nothing, but if you think it's something, fairness requires you to consider the remark in context.

September 9, 2008

The sublime moment of the day.

I was just walking home from work.


After that, I wandered into the garden.


Look at the movement on Gallup's "strong and decisive leader" graph.

What accounts for that? Is it all about Sarah? Picking her was "strong and decisive." Or was it something more general about the 2 conventions.

More on this new poll here.

Here's another interesting Gallup poll -- showing a big post-convention shift among independent voters, from 40% supporting McCain to 52%.


And this, for some reason, makes me want to add that Andrew Sullivan, who's only posted once today, says he's "absolutely fine," don't worry about him, "nothing has changed with this blog, no one is pressuring me to write or not write anything," and he's just taking some time off.

IN THE COMMENTS: Simon writes:
[Sullivan] is perhaps trying to get to grips with the reality that his weird idea about how picking Sarah Palin was a mistake has been rapidly and publicly falsified.
He was so deeply committed to this prediction and intent on making it come true that it must have been mortifying to realize that attacks like his on Sarah Palin were making her far more popular than she would be now if she'd been treated with ordinary, boring respect.

AND: Sullivan has a couple more posts now, and Ace decodes them.

I wasn't really planning to vote, and I wasn't prepared.

It's another primary day in Madison, where primaries seem to come up every few weeks. Quite annoying. But I was walking to work today and my path took me right by the door to the church that is my polling place. I wanted to keep going, because I was completely unprepared, but something made me open the door. God? It was a church door. Guilt? The thought that the experience might be bloggable? The fear that there was some damned referendum question that too few people would be deciding? Maybe it was the sheer ease of going in, now that I was already there.

I walked down the long hallway. Someone somewhere was practicing on the church organ. The polling place was the pleasant first-floor library and not the downstairs gym that they use when they expect a crowd. I was greeted by 4 older women, who were sitting at 3 tables. They were all poll workers, and I was the only voter. It was 10:15 a.m., and I was the 10th voter of the day.

I took my big blue folder and white cardboard ballot over to one of the little open booths. This was a rather stressful situation, because the 4 women had nothing to do but watch me, and I had no idea what was on the ballot. I read it for a while and eventually decided I should just pick a party and choose the party line. It was a primary, so there was no competition between the parties, and within each party, there didn't seem to be any competition among the candidates. So what was this exercise all about?

I decided to pick a party and vote a straight party line, which meant that I drew a half-inch line with a magic marker and fed it into the scanner. I said goodbye to the poll workers, they thanked me for voting, and fortunately, I had the presence of mind to thank them for their work, and that gave the whole exercise meaning.

But perhaps you are wondering....

Althouse voted the straight party line for which party?
Libertarian free polls

"Like Kafka's 'Metamorphosis' in reverse, the giant, hideous beetle that was the GOP has suddenly been reborn as a vigorous youth...."

Gary Kamiya riffs on Sarah Palin, calling her a "dominatrix" and saying things like:
For the die-hard Republicans who lusted over Palin at the convention, her whip-wielding persona was a turn-on. You could practically feel the crowd getting a collective woody as Palin bent Obama and the Democrats over, shoved a leather gag in their mouths and flogged them as un-American wimps, appeasers and losers. "Drill, baby, drill!" the chant ecstatically repeated by the GOP faithful during Rudy Giuliani's speech, acquired a distinctly Freudian subtext after Palin spoke. The more Palin drilled the Democrats, the more hotly the base yearned to drill her. (We will leave it to shrinks to determine whether the GOP hardcore has the hots for Palin because she's reaming the Democrats, or because authority-worshippers tend to have secret fantasies of being reamed themselves.)
Yes, yes, everybody wants to be Camille Paglia.

But I just wanted to post that so I could use that one line about the beetle in my title and link to this Japanese Bug Fight that someone pointed out in yesterday's insect post. Remember the beetle is the GOP. The Democratic Party is the scorpion.


Speaking of sex-and-insects, did you see they made an opera out of the movie "The Fly" -- the great David Cronenberg version -- which you know I love.
"Have you ever heard of insect politics? Neither have I! Insects don't have politics.... they're very brutal. No compassion.... no compromise. We can't trust the insect. I'd like to become the first insect politician. I'd like to, but.... I'm an insect.... who dreamed he was a man, and loved it. But now the dream is over, and the insect is awake."

"If I were advising the candidates, I’d tell them to double down on weirdness."

Says David Brooks, noting that Obama started out weird and did well, then got conventional and did less well, especially with McCain getting weird. "Weirdness wins," he says.

I think I've found the ultimate in anti-Palin gas-baggery.

From Leon Wieseltier. Please read it and click through to read the whole thing if you suspect that my excerpt unfairly represents it. And then take my little quiz.
Whatever the Christian conservative way of life is, Palin is living it. And so her grotesque and fascinating candidacy broaches an interesting subject, which is the moral insufficiency of integrity. In its etymological origins, integrity refers to wholeness, to a coherent arrangement of the parts into a whole, to the consistency of the parts with each other, to the harmony of a thing or a being with itself. Integrity is a formal property, a consideration of structure. It is, in other words, contentless. It is indifferent to the substance of the elements whose internal relations are its concern, and neutral about questions of truth and falsity, good and evil. False ideas often add up; evil individuals often add up. A unified identity is not for that reason an admirable identity. It is all very nice to have the courage of one's convictions, but the convictions matter as much as the courage....

In the grammar of politics, the adverb is less significant than the direct object: not better politics, but better policies; not the form of politics, but the content. As for bipartisanship, it generally means your defection to my party. When a party stands for something, there is honor in belonging to it. And when the parties stand for antithetical conceptions of nation and government, bipartisanship is a dodger's daydream.

The quiz:

So what did you think of Wieseltier's little essay?
Brilliant. Proof, once again, that Althouse is an idiot.
Eh. Another essay. A little showoffy, but I can take it.
That is the ultimate in anti-Palin gas-baggery. free polls

YouTube and the rise and fall of a powerful hallucinogen.

Salvia divinorum -- a mostly legal herb -- produces ecstasy, which is fun to video-record and watch on YouTube, because the person who experiences that ecstasy tends to look like an idiot. And then more people start using the drug and they too make videos, and YouTube actively propogates the drug's use.

But now:
In state after state, however, including here in Texas, the YouTube videos have become Exhibit A in legislative efforts to regulate salvia. This year, Florida made possession or sale a felony punishable by 15 years in prison. California took a gentler approach by making it a misdemeanor to sell or distribute to minors.

"When you see it, well, it sure makes a believer out of you," said Representative Charles Anderson of Waco, a Republican state lawmaker who is sponsoring one of several bills to ban salvia in Texas.
YouTube cuts both ways.

Obama on Olbermann was much worse than I'd originally thought.

Last night, with the help of TiVo, I watched Barack Obama as he simultaneously appeared on O'Reilly and Olbermann's shows. I thought he was terrific on O'Reilly, that he benefited from having the blowhard pushing back at him, and pretty useless on Olbermann, where, I thought, Olbermann was doing his, thing railing about McCain's "lies" and leaving Obama with nothing to do but figure out how enthusiastically to agree with him. I said:
Olbermann was insipid, feeding Obama overstated arguments, and leaving Obama struggling to seem appropriately well-modulated and ending up insipidly nodding and smiling. Olbermann showed a McCain/Palin ad -- this one -- and exploded about all the "lies" and insisted that Obama agree that these were lies. Ugh.... Obama seemed trapped.
Here's what I was looking at:

[Embedded video removed. You can see it here.]

Now, I'm seeing this news story from yesterday, time-stamped before the Olbermann show:
Barack Obama ripped into John McCain and Sarah Palin as never before Monday, accusing his Republican White House foes of "shameless" dishonesty with their claim to be "mavericks" ready to shake up Washington.

McCain and Palin were "lying about their records," the Obama campaign said after the Republican running mates advertised themselves in a television spot as the "original mavericks" who would stand up for hard-pressed voters.
And here's that new Obama ad.

So it wasn't that Obama got stuck in the insipid world of Keith Olbermann. Olbermann was feeding Obama Obama's own campaign material.


Here's the O'Reilly interview, the one I think is much better. (Don't miss the low blow: "I don't care if I live in a hut." Obama acts like he doesn't hear it or doesn't get it.)


You know, yesterday, Josh Marshall lashed out at Sarah Palin for planning to do multiple interviews with ABC's Charlie Gibson. Marshall pronounced it "unwatchable" in advance. He said that Gibson had "gelded" himself by agreeing to the multiple interviews format.

With that in mind, I wanted to know if Marshall had something to say about the way Olbermann fed Obama his own message of the day. Over on Marshall's blog, here's the first thing I see:
We've now had a week of blaring headlines and one-liners about Sarah Palin as the mavericky, pork-busting reformer from Alaska. But we seem to be witnessing the first stirrings of a backlash and a dawning realization that the 'Sarah Palin' we've heard so much about over the last few days is a fraud of truly comical dimensions.

The McCain camp has made her signature issue shutting down the Bridge to Nowhere. But as The New Republic put it today that's just "a naked lie." And pretty much the same thing has been written today in Newsweek, the Washington Post, the AP, the Wall Street Journal. Yesterday even Fox's Chris Wallace called out Rick Davis on it....

Think about that. On the stump, not a single word that comes out of her mouth -- or not a single word that the McCain folks put in her mouth -- is anything but a lie. I know that sounds like hyperbole. But just go down the list. None of them bear out.
So, let's see. You're saying it's a good thing when all these major media repeat the Obama campaign's message of the day? That's journalism as it should be, bearing out the truth. But when Charlie Gibson sets up multiple interviews, that's journalism gone to hell.

Josh, seriously. Aren't you just a teensy bit embarrassed?

Bait bikes.

Don't steal a bike around here. Some of them are bait bikes and you will be caught.

You don't have to be afraid of the TV. You shouldn't let poets lie to you.

Listen to Bjork. And look! It's like a little city in there.

September 8, 2008

Hey, what happened to Andrew?

This is his only post today.... some view from a window... and the view is completely obstructed by a tangle of vines and some poisonously purple flowers.

Has he hit the 5th stage?

Previously, the last we'd heard of him was this deluded "Your move, McCain" item, pointing to a NYT piece about Sarah Palin and her baby, as if the piece was fatal, but it was the innocuous thing we talked about here.

C'mon, Andrew. Snap out of it. It's only politics.

"Loser Clinton Flack Blogs for Loser Clinton Magazine."

That's kind of mean... to put it like that. Deliciously...

Barack Obama appears -- simultaneously -- on Olbermann and O'Reilly and I have some advice for Obama.

Obama! Listen to me! You are at your best when you have somebody to push up against! You were so much better on O'Reilly.

O'Reilly was bloviating and interrupting, but really engaged and not unfair, just setting up opportunities and keeping it sharp and lively. Obama kept his cool and his good humor and got all his points in. It was fun to watch them spar. Obama even got O'Reilly to agree with him that the rich need to pay a higher tax rate, and the key is to get the rate at the right level so that you preserve incentives while helping out the disadvantaged.

By contrast, Olbermann was insipid, feeding Obama overstated arguments, and leaving Obama struggling to seem appropriately well-modulated and ending up insipidly nodding and smiling. Olbermann showed a McCain/Palin ad -- this one -- and exploded about all the "lies" and insisted that Obama agree that these were lies. Ugh. Olbermann was rude to people who weren't there to defend themselves and wanted to buddy up to Obama and get Obama to act like Olbermann and condemn McCain and Palin. Olbermann was annoying and Obama seemed trapped.

O'Reilly was rude to Obama face to face, which was nervy but it gave Obama a chance to stand his ground. O'Reilly was acting like the neighborhood blowhard, spouting folksy right-wing economic theories, and Obama was hearing him out up to a point and then coming back and proving him wrong. I really liked Obama in this setting.

Do more of that!

ADDED: Do those town hall meetings with McCain, why don't you? Stop protecting yourself so much. Get out there and fight with people who don't particularly like you. Expose yourself to disagreement.

UPDATE: That Olberman appearance was much worse than I'd thought.

Top 8 Obama and McCain gaffes.

According to Politico. Good choices. Maybe all as good as my top 2. But how am I supposed to start laughing on a Monday morning if somebody doesn't say "hot water to dehydrated babies."

Ah, thank you. I am now ready to face the working week with a smile.

"If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I'd type a little faster." -- Isaac Asimov.

I wanted to tell you about these fabulous photographs -- "Violent Death in the Insect World" -- but I was utterly charmed by that Isaac Asimov quote. And that's the thing about death -- isn't it? -- it reminds you of life.

But man, the photographs and the amazing creatures they depict are fabulous. Don't overlook page 2. More quotes too.

"You only live twice. Once when you are born and once when you look death in the face." - Ian Fleming.

I found "Violent Death in the Insect World" via Metafilter, where the commenters question the very quotes I liked so much:
Amazing photos, but the accompanying text is, um, a little off.
posted by nasreddin at 7:07 AM on September 8

What, you don't like "inspirational" death quotes mixed with your bugicide?...
posted by madamjujujive at 7:15 AM on September 8

"What a narrow ridge of normality we all inhabit, with the abysses of mania and depression yawning to either side."

Oliver Sacks on mania.

IN THE COMMENTS: rhhardin says:
"Yawning'' is boredom.
Ha ha. Makes me think of Seinfeld:
George: I dunno, Jerry something's missing. There's a void, Jerry, there's a void...

Jerry: A deep, yawning chasm...

Forget "my Muslim faith." The key line is "these guys love to throw a rock and hide their hand."

Jim Lindgren takes a sharp closer look at yesterday's Obama-Stephanopoulos colloquy:
[A]s Obama sees himself slipping (temporarily) behind, he is willing make unproven charges that he probably wouldn't have been willing to say a week ago: that these guys are throwing rocks and hiding their hands.

And Obama would probably have gotten away with it if Stephanopoulos had been willing to accept that. But Stephanopoulos pushed back and forced Obama to back down, Obama finally admitting: "Well, what I'm saying is that he [McCain] hasn't suggested ... that I'm a Muslim. And I think that his campaign's upper echelons have not, either."

So when McCain's campaign manager is raised, Obama says, "these guys love to throw a rock and hide their hand." But when Stephanopoulos points out that he has no basis for making such a reckless charge, Obama admits that they haven't thrown rocks on this issue.
It's telling, then -- isn't it? -- that Obama brought up the attacks on Sarah Palin:
OBAMA: Now, well, look. Listen. You and I both know that the minute that Governor Palin was forced to talk about her daughter, I immediately said that's off limits. And...

STEPHANOPOULOS: But John McCain said the same thing about questioning your faith.

OBAMA: And what was the first thing the McCain's campaign went out and did? They said, look, these liberal blogs that support Obama are out there attacking Governor Palin.
And you're doing something that they didn't do. The McCain campaign -- as Obama had it -- merely pointed at the liberal blogs and said it was terrible to attack Palin that way. But the McCain campaign never accused Obama of starting it. It accepted his assertion that he didn't do it and didn't think it should be done.

Now, talking to Stephanopoulos, Obama is saying that the McCain campaign really did start it and is hiding it. What is the justification for that charge? A guilty conscience? When he says the McCain camp likes to throw the rock and hide their hand, it makes me suspect that the Obama campaign is throwing rocks and hiding their hands!
You and I both know that the minute that Governor Palin was forced to talk about her daughter, I immediately said that's off limits.
The minute... immediately... Yes, you have to be quick to hide your hand after you've throw a rock.


Bonus video: "I didn't do it."

Charlie Gibson agreed to have his nuts cut out -- according to Josh Marshall.

How so? Because his interview with Sarah Palin will be multiple interviews. Marshall says:
Political interviews are never done like this. Because it makes the questioning entirely at the discretion of the person being interviewed and their handlers. The interviewer has to be on their best behavior, at least until the last of the 'multiple interviews' because otherwise the subsequent sittings just won't happen. For a political journalist to agree to such terms amounts to a form of self-gelding. The only interviews that are done this way are lifestyle and celebrity interviews. And it's pretty clear that that is what this will be....

It will be unwatchable.
Previously, Marshall had been dogging Palin for not submitting to an interview:
[McCain campaign manager Rick Davis... says Palin won't give any interviews until she feels "comfortable" giving one. And this morning he added that she wouldn't give any "until the point in time when she'll be treated with respect and deference."

Sarah Palin could be the President of the United States in four and a half months. We tend to think of this as an abstraction; but it's true. And yet today she's so unprepared and knows so little about the challenges and tasks facing the country that she can't even give a softball interview.
So, okay, maybe she's found her softball -- or no balls -- interview in Gibson.

We'll see how soft it is. It's unlikely to be complete fluff. So let's watch it -- not just pronounce it "unwatchable" -- and stand ready to rip Gibson apart -- if there's anything left to rip after he's gelded himself. And then we can go on to insist that Palin step it up and submit to something tougher.

Man, Marshall is really freaking out over Palin. He slashes Gibson for falling short of journalistic standards, but what are his standards? Look at this gush of testosterone:
As is so often the case, Palin is the incarnation of the Republican slurs. The darling of the hard-right; she gives stem-winding speeches. She pushes all their buttons. But she's such a lightweight, they can't risk letting her answer a few questions.
Continuing to browse through Marshall's posting, I run across this:
New Poll
09.08.08 -- 12:56AM By Josh Marshall

USAToday/Gallup: McCain 54%, Obama 44% among likely voters.
That must cut like a knife.

Lisa Nova's second go at her Sarah Palin impersonation.

We loved the first one -- "Is McCain Palin's Bitch" -- so let's watch the new one:

Oh. Too bad. Why wasn't that funny?

1. The writing wasn't good enough. The speech was even edited out and replaced by a heartbeat in one or two places. You have to have material. Every instant must have content. This felt like a rough draft. You had your basic idea, your narrative arc, and now you need to flesh it out line by line, with lots of funny stuff.

2. The effort to make Obama look good and Palin bad was way too obvious to be effective. In the first video, Lisa Nova was into her character, but here you can see that she's on the other character's side. That made the Palin character much less fun. Meanwhile, the Obama character wasn't any fun either. We were supposed to side with him, but he was just a bland good guy, unfairly treated.

3. The racism theme. Racism is an ugly, heavy subject. To make it funny, you have to do that well, yet Nova was just dumping it on Sarah Palin. We're supposed to sympathize with the unfairly treated Obama, but what we are looking at is Nova's unfair treatment of Palin.

"The most disappointing shift is to see the partisan attitude move from prime time into what’s supposed to be straight news programming."

MSNBC is giving up on Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews as co-anchors for election coverage. The quote -- in this NYT article about the decision, comes from Davidson Goldin, who used to be the editorial director of MSNBC. He may be very sad to see news coverage go partisan, but that can't be why MSNBC pulled the plug on Keith and Chris.
Executives at the channel’s parent company, NBC Universal, had high hopes for MSNBC’s coverage of the political conventions. Instead, the coverage frequently descended into on-air squabbles between the anchors, embarrassing some workers at NBC’s news division, and quite possibly alienating viewers. Although MSNBC nearly doubled its total audience compared with the 2004 conventions, its competitive position did not improve, as it remained in last place among the broadcast and cable news networks. In prime time, the channel averaged 2.2 million viewers during the Democratic convention and 1.7 million viewers during the Republican convention.

The success of the Fox News Channel in the past decade along with the growth of political blogs have convinced many media companies that provocative commentary attracts viewers and lures Web browsers more than straight news delivered dispassionately.
It was all about ratings, wasn't it? The decision to use this format, the "high hopes," and the pulling of the plug.

September 7, 2008

"Many people will express sympathy, but you don’t want or need that, because Trig will be a joy."

Here's the big NYT story -- pre-touted on Drudge -- about Sarah Palin and her baby:
No one has ever tried to combine presidential politics and motherhood in quite the way Ms. Palin is doing, and it is no simple task. In the last week, the criticism she feared in Alaska has exploded into a national debate. On blogs and at PTA meetings, voters alternately cheer and fault her balancing act, and although many are thrilled to see a child with special needs in the spotlight, some accuse her of exploiting Trig for political gain.

But her son has given Ms. Palin, 44, a powerful message. Other candidates kiss strangers’ babies; Ms. Palin has one of her own. He is tangible proof of Ms. Palin’s anti-abortion convictions, which have rallied social conservatives, and her belief that women can balance family life with ambitious careers. And on Wednesday in St. Paul, she proclaimed herself a guardian of the nation’s disabled children.

“Children with special needs inspire a special love,” Ms. Palin said....

“Many people will express sympathy, but you don’t want or need that, because Trig will be a joy,” Ms. Palin wrote. She added, “Children are the most precious and promising ingredient in this mixed-up world you live in down there on Earth. Trig is no different, except he has one extra chromosome.”
Is there really a public issue here to be discussed? What exactly is it?

ADDED: Did the "belief that women can balance family life with ambitious careers" just become right wing? If so, wow! That is perhaps the most amazing political flip I've seen in my life.

Why did Barack Obama say "my Muslim faith"?

I've seen so many mentions of this in the comments to various posts here today that I can see I need to break this story out into a separate post. Here's the video, from "This Week" with George Stephanopoulos:

The Washington Times has the transcript and a description of how a snippet of the interview has caught fire on the internet:
Within an hour of the interview's broadcast, anti-Obama groups were pushing the issue on blogs and via YouTube.

Someone spliced together only his misstatement and was emailing it with the false claim Obama "admits" the Muslim faith.
It's clear in the full context that he's giving the McCain campaign credit for not participating in spreading the rumor that he is a Muslim. He's not saying he is a Muslim. Quite apart from that, let's not stoop to portraying "Muslim" as the equivalent of evil. That's ugly and destructive.

UPDATE: More here.


Photo by Hiroko Masuike.

This is serious fashion by the seriously creepily named Obedient Sons.

ADDED: But I love this street as the ultimate runway.

The proposed ban on gender stereotypes in advertising.

Don't get excited. Europe will be Europe.

On Sarah Palin avoiding interviews for now... and the dumbest things Obama and McCain have said.

I've been thinking about the way Sarah Palin is avoiding interviews. She can't keep doing that, but I think it's wise for her to take some time to bone up on things and to develop rhetorical strategies. She's going to be severely tested, and she's got to take some time to get ready. Her opponents are right to make a big deal out of every minute she delays, but the price of making a mistake is great. You know any dumb thing that slips out is going to be used to the hilt. And something dumb is inevitable.

With this in mind, I was wondering what is the single dumbest thing Obama and McCain have said? Something has to be the dumbest. I'm thinking, for Obama:

For McCain:

The remix:

Robert Drew's great documentary "Primary" -- about JFK and Hubert Humphrey in the Wisconsin Primary -- free, tonight, at Cinematheque.

New students, old residents, you should know about Cinematheque. Drop by tonight at Vilas Hall at 7:30 for this fine 60 minute film.

And make note of the rest of the films in the "Vote Cinema: American Politics on Film" series. There are various different series and special events this fall, including "Deviants, Delinquients, and Do-Gooders: Hollywood Social Problem Films of the 1950s."

Here's the whole fall calendar.

Cinematheque is one of the coolest things about UW-Madison. And again: It is free.

ADDED: Here is an interview with Albert Maysles (the cinematographer) about the part of the film where we see Jackie Kennedy's gloved, fidgeting hands:

And here's a long clip from [another] film that gives background on Richard Nixon. I love the charming retro "Stick with Dick" sign. And Richard Nixon, turning on the charm for Nikita Krushchev, just hilarious. Lots more too.

[Video previously displayed is no longer available.]

ADDED: Sorry, I misread the label on the second video clip, which popped up in YouTube. It has a completely different documentary style, but some great historical clips. If I remember "Primary" correctly -- I've seen it but have loaned out my DVD -- it's entirely about Kennedy and Humphrey in Wisconsin. Here's some background on the style of "Primary":
[C]inema verite -- choosing moments where action might occur instead of creating it -- ... was the brainchild of Robert Drew, an editor at Life magazine. He believed the magazine enjoyed its success because it brought into the home pictures of action in the midst of happening -- four soldiers struggling to plant the flag at Iwo Jima, for instance -- and he wanted to extend that concept to documentaries. "I thought all we had to do was put a Life photographer who valued candid photography behind a motion picture camera, and we could make a new kind of film." But thanks to an eight-man crew that had to stop and set heavy equipment on tripods, action eluded capture. Then Mr. Drew started to experiment with lightweight cameras and sound recorders. In 1959, under the banner of Drew Associates, he put together a film crew, all of whom went on to write their names on the pages of documentary history: Albert Maysles, Terence Filgate (a film maker well known in his native Canada), Richard Leacock ("Monterey Pop") and D. A. Pennebaker ("Don't Look Back," "The War Room"). The film makers set out in the dark: they were making documentaries with no directors, no scripts, no sets, no lights, little or no narration and no interviews. To be at the right place at the right moment was everything. They considered themselves neutral observers who merely recorded ongoing events and had, as much as possible, no point of view. Their first important work was "Primary," which tracked Senators John F. Kennedy and Hubert H. Humphrey through the cold 1960 Wisconsin Democratic Presidential primarily... Their approach, says Mr. Filgate, offered an alternative to the Edward R. Murrow style of documentaries. "It was as if we were butterfly hunting. We knew there were butterflies in the woods, but we didn't know what kind, and we didn't know how we were going to catch them; whereas in the journalistic documentary, a reporter says, 'On my left, hidden in the bushes, are thousands of butterflies.' And then the camera cuts away to the bushes. Drew, with 'Primary,' broke that mold."

"You know, I actually did" -- Obama actually did consider serving in the military.

So he said, when asked George Stephanopoulos today, on television.
"And I actually always thought of the military as an ennobling and, you know, honorable option. But keep in mind that I graduated in 1979. The Vietnam War had come to an end. We weren't engaged in an active military conflict at that point. And so, it's not an option that I ever decided to pursue."
Because, back in the Vietnam days, that's when young guys felt especially motivated to sign up to fight. Mmm hmmm.

Do you think Barack Obama seriously considered joining the military?
Hell no. free polls

"Portraits of famous people tend to look like the painters because the artists were all simply depicting themselves..."

A new study:
Computer-aided comparisons made between a series of portraits of British monarchs and the self-portraits of the artists who painted them prove that there has always been a hidden agenda in top-level portraiture, argues the art historian Simon Abrahams.

After lengthy research and the examination of hundreds of famous paintings from new angles, Abrahams has launched his contentious theory through his website, He believes it is clear that many portraitists, painters who were often doing this kind of work just for money, chose to assert themselves by reproducing their own facial characteristics within those of their powerful sitters.
Ah, we always knew those artists were big narcissists!

Abrahams says:
"In fact, of course, any art student can paint a pretty good likeness of someone and the truth is that everything that we see in the world, we only see in our minds anyway. We can only interpret what we see through what we already know. Great artists have known this instinctively and so have deliberately painted their own faces, even when they are supposed to be reproducing reality. It is rather like the way that when we look at our own children, all we can really see is little images of ourselves."
Ah, it's not really just the artists, is it? We all see ourselves everywhere. Or am I only saying that because that's the way it is for me, and for me, it's all about me? What about you? Are you like me?