September 27, 2008

"Did he just say 'orgy'?!"

ADDED: Did he just say "horseshit"? Come on, Andrew. It's a debate, not "Louie Louie."

Tea time.

I said I was green-tea blogging -- not drunk-blogging -- the debate last night, and Ricardo asked: "What kind of green tea was it? Enquiring minds need to know. Life is in the details." Okay, then. It was Tazo Zen Tea. If you want to drink the tea I usually drink, however, the #1 choice is Twinings Lapsang Souchong, which has been my favorite tea since I first tasted it more than a quarter century ago.


The smack in the face.

A teaser for a forthcoming diavlog.

What do you think we're talking about?

ADDED: Glenn Kenny guesses "Chinatown," meaning this:

Is there more famous slapping in the movies? Well, there's Cher slapping Nick Cage in "Moonstruck":

This isn't really slapping:

Nor is this:

Now, this is slapping, but it's not movies, just TV:

But then, I said a "smack in the face." Is that different from a "slap"? Isn't it odd that a "smack" can be a slap or a kiss?


There's also this.

AND: Commenter Peano notices something disconcerting:

Let's compare the candidates' post-debate ads.

Here's Barack Obama's:

Here's McCain's:

Okay, McCain's ad is way funnier. It's clever, though it's not really fair. If you look at the transcript, you'll see that every time Obama began with an acknowledgment of agreement with McCain -- which shows generosity and willingness to reach across the aisle -- he proceeded to distinguish his opinions from McCain's. For example:
Well, Senator McCain is absolutely right that the earmarks process has been abused, which is why I suspended any requests for my home state, whether it was for senior centers or what have you, until we cleaned it up.

And he's also right that oftentimes lobbyists and special interests are the ones that are introducing these kinds of requests, although that wasn't the case with me.

But let's be clear: Earmarks account for $18 billion in last year's budget. Senator McCain is proposing -- and this is a fundamental difference between us -- $300 billion in tax cuts to some of the wealthiest corporations and individuals in the country, $300 billion.

And what's with that brown and gold radiating background they've put behind Obama? It looked like some combination of the Japanese war flag and a religious icon and a hypnosis pattern. Is that fair? It's fair enough.

Now, Obama's ad is simple, but a little boring. Is it a good gotcha? Ha ha, you forgot to say "middle class." We have a buzz word. A shibboleth. And Obama said it -- ta da! -- 3 times! Yay!!! He cares about the middle class!

I love the lame class warfare of the middle class. Does anyone care about the poor? Obama never said "poor" or "poverty." Nor did he say "working class."

Anyway, those are the ads these characters came up with.

Who's got the better post-debate ad?
Eh free polls

What are some irrational things that's intelligent, educated people believe in?

For example, I know law professors who believe in astrology.

Paul Newman has died.

We knew he was dying, but it is sad to know he's gone. I'll have more in a few minutes, but here's a press report. Please talk about your favorite Paul Newman movies.

ADDED: To tell you the truth, Paul Newman is an actor whose movies I often avoided, for some reason. Even though I was a very frequent movie-goer during his heyday, I never saw "The Sting" or "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid." I never saw "The Color of Money" or "The Hustler." Despite my law career, I never saw "The Verdict" or "Absence of Malice" or "The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean." Reading over his list of movies, it seems as though I have been going out of my way to avoid Newman's movies. I don't know why. I thought he was an excellent actor, and he was certainly as good-looking as a human being can be. Perhaps it's that when I was quite young, I saw "Hud" and "Harper" and just didn't understand the point.

I've seen "Mr. and Mrs. Bridge," "Sweet Bird of Youth," "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," and "Cool Hand Luke." When I think of Paul Newman movies, that's the one I think of first, the emblematic Paul Newman movie, "Cool Hand Luke":

"I've got the words of Mary, assuring me that I won't go to Hell."

IN THE COMMENTS: Ruth Anne Adams asks: "Is your misquote an Episcopalian mondegreen?" Misquote? Oh, yes, it's "Virgin Mary," not "words of Mary." Episcopalian? More likely, Beatles.

McCain "needs to make an opponent an enemy in his mind to kind of get up for this. He personalizes conflict..."

That's WaPo's Eugene Robinson, responding to Chris Matthews, who's fulminating about McCain's supposed contempt for Obama:

I was watching the debate on a channel that mainly had a split screen of the 2 men head on, so it was hard for me to discern the level of interaction. But I do think McCain had a strategy of intimidating Obama and making him feel small and inexperienced.

And, frankly, Robinson is right! McCain does personalize conflict. He has such a dramatic and profound personal story, and he's made it the foundation of his rhetoric. He uses it to reinforce his credibility and to add weight to all his opinions. It's not surprising that when he came to face Obama in person that he thought he could make the other man doubt himself. Who am I to stand next to this man?

Or -- whatever he could make Obama think -- at least he could make us see him as the greater man, but he risked the kind of criticism Robinson and Matthews dished out.

Josh Marshall quotes a reader:
As a psychotherapist and someone who treats people with anger management problems, we typically try to educate people that anger is often an emotion that masks other emotions. I think it's significant that McCain didn't make much, if any, eye contact because it suggests one of two things to me; he doesn't want to make eye contact because he is prone to losing control of his emotions if he deals directly with the other person, or, his anger masks fear and the eye contact may increase or substantiate the fear.

I noticed him doing the same thing in the Republican primary debates. The perception observers are likely to have is that he is unwilling to acknowledge the opponent's legitimacy and/or is contemptuous of the opponent.
He also knows his opponent would like to get him to display anger and confirm the theory that he's angry man and he's defending against that tactic.

(Hey, do you know the difference between a tactic and a strategy? "I'm afraid Senator Obama doesn't understand the difference between a tactic and a strategy." If you don't, you're not fit to stand on the stage next to John McCain, who's been through tactics and strategies all over the world over half a century.)

Marshall quotes another reader:
I think people really are missing the point about McCain's failure to look at Obama. McCain was afraid of Obama. It was really clear -- look at how much McCain blinked in the first half hour. I study monkey behavior -- low ranking monkeys don't look at high ranking monkeys. In a physical, instinctive sense, Obama owned McCain tonight and I think the instant polling reflects that.
Dan Drezner says:
Ah, the perceived slights. Josh Marshall highlights McCain’s unwillingness to make eye contact with Obama. I would say that McCain evinced some disregard for Obama — but I’m not buying the “low-ranking monkey” hypothesis (seriously, I can’t believe Josh posted this). McCain was not afraid of Obama — he just doesn’t like him.
Indeed. We are animals, with animal instincts worth noting, but it is a rule of polite discourse that when racial difference is anywhere in the picture, you don't compare human beings to apes or monkeys.

The morning after the debate.

It's tempting to go back into the live-blog, when it's become the dead-blog, and punch it up with sober observations, quotes from the transcript, and links to the things other bloggers were saying in real time when I was too busy listening and writing to read much of anything (even to proofread myself).

But I'll resist that temptation. New writing needs to be in today. Why it's almost 9. Central.

What was I sleeping about all this time? It's not as if I spent last night drunk-blogging, like some people -- "I’m going to miss some stuff now, while I go shake another martini" -- or playing drinking games, despite joking about them. I was green-tea blogging.


Did all the other live-bloggers suddenly decide to put the newest entries on top within a single post? Should I switch to that? I don't really like scrolling down and then back up, but the question is: Do you want to favor the readers who are doing a lot of page-refreshing and return-visiting? Top-to-bottom within a single, frequently updated post is easier for someone who joins you late or who stops by only once.

Which reminds me, dear return visitors, I need to put some fresh things here for you, but feel free to use this post as a place to get started talking about anything you like.

September 26, 2008

Live-blogging the big debate.

7:22 Central Time: Yes, I'm here, ready to go. Eager. This is big!

7:58: In the comments, we're setting the terms for the drinking game: I said:
Take a sip if McCain says "my friends" or if Obama says "uh."
Palladian said:
Dear God, woman, are you trying to kill people? Alcohol is poisonous in large quantities!
8:03: May the best man win. Jim Lehrer sounds stern! First question: take a position on the finance crisis.

8:04: Obama: "Move swiftly... and wisely... have oversight...." Don't pad the bank accounts of the rich. The whole problem is the fault of the other party. McCain: He begins with "thoughts and prayers" for "the lion of the Senate," Ted Kennedy, who's in the hospital now. He emphasizes that Republicans and Democrats are working together in dealing with the crisis.

8:08: Lehrer pushes them to take a position on the plan. Obama says he hasn't seen it. Ooh, I just saw Jon Stewart savage McCain last night for saying he hadn't read it. Obama's not taking a position. Come on! Take a position! He doesn't. McCain says "sure," he'll vote for it but immediately veers into an anecdote about Eisenhower and railing against greed. "Greed is rewarded." Both candidates look fresh and sharply outlined on the HDTV.

8:13: Lehrer wants them to talk to each other, but they don't much seem to want to. Next question: Are there fundamental differences between what McCain and Obama would do about the economy? McCain says we need to get spending under control... "earmarking as a gateway drug." Obama's a big spender. Obama said earmarks are abused, but earmarks are only $18 billion of the budget and McCain wants $300 billion in tax cuts. So the difference (in what they promise) is clear: McCain would cut spending and Obama would collect more taxes. McCain says those earmarks corrupt people, and Obama is proposing $800 million in new spending. Obama looks annoyed. He doesn't know where that number comes from. McCain looks a little pleased, I think, because he knows he's gotten to Obama.

8:20: McCain says pork-barrel spending is "rife," it's appalling. We see Obama raising a finger. He wants to be called on. Lots of arguing back and forth about who supported what.

8:26: Lehrer asks what sacrifices will be required. Obama mainly talks about things he wants to spend on. McCain says we've let government get out of control. He'd cut ethanol subsidies. (Good!) He'd eliminate cost-plus contracts. He speaks of saving $6 billion on one deal. Lehrer presses them, and Obama starts talking about spending again. (By the way, he is not saying "uh.") Lehrer gets excited about doing something different to deal with the current crises. McCain mentions a spending freeze. Obama objects and mentions another thing he'd like to spend on (early childhood education). Lehrer reasks the question: What difference will the crisis make? Obama talks about values. McCain talks about spending cuts. Obama questions McCain's record. McCain says, for a second time, that he wasn't elected Miss Congeniality in the Senate. (Should have put that in the drinking game.)

8:39: What have they learned from Iraq? McCain says we've learned how to fight the right way and to avoid defeat. Obama thinks we've learned we shouldn't have started the war in the first place.

Whoops. I've been calling Lehrer MacNeil... corrected.

8:44: McCain excoriates Obama for failing to support victory and for not acknowledging victory. Obama says the difference in opinion was only about whether there was a timetable or not. There's a hot dispute here. McCain gesticulates and smiles. Obama looks a little pissed off and interrupts a few times with the muttered phrase "That's not true."

8:51: Obama calls Pakistan "Pah-ki-stahn." Repeatedly.

8:52: McCain is not prepared to threaten Pakistan. You don't aim a gun if you aren't prepared to pull the trigger.

8:54: Obama denies that he talked about attacking Pahkistahn. He's just ready to "take out" al Qaeda if we know they are in there. He teases McCain about singing "bomb bomb Iran."

9:00: McCain stresses his empathy for soldiers. He's got a bracelet. Obama's got a bracelet too. He cares too. Jac writes (he's live-blogging too):
"I've got a bracelet." "I've got a bracelet too!" Are these serious adults running for president, or is this summer camp?
9:04: McCain gets fired up talking about Obama's willingness to talk without precondition with Ahmadinejad. Ahmadinejad is talking about exterminating Israel, he exclaims. McCain stumbles over the name Ahmadinejad a bit, and I'm not sure if he's expressing genuine hatred for the man or is just getting fired up about a strong line of attack against Obama. Obama doesn't seem that irritated. He laughs a little. When he gets his turn, Obama needles him about, among other things, Spain. McCain inserts what must be a prepared barb: "I don't even have a seal yet."

9:15: We get a "my friend" out of McCain as he says Obama is "parsing words" about "preconditions, and he emphasizes how long he's been friends with Henry Kissinger. (Obama had cited Kissinger for the proposition that we ought to speak to everyone.)

9:18: The subject is Russia. McCain accuses Obama of naivete. He says: "I looked into Putin's eyes and I saw three letters, a K, a G, and a B." McCain is reeling off names of people and places in Georgia and Ukraine. He's got a strategy of displaying experience and making Obama seem green. Obama's given a chance and he mainly says he agrees.

9:25: Much crossfire over nuclear waste.

9:26: The last question is about terrorism. The main distinction here is that Obama views Iraq as a distraction and McCain thinks it's central.

9:31: Both men have been sharp and clear, and I haven't noticed mistakes. As expected, McCain is more passionate, but he never crossed the line into irascibility. Obama is cooler, but he never fell into that professorial mode that he uses sometimes. He certainly didn't stumble and babble incoherently, which is what his opponents say he does.

9:48: They didn't much go for that idea of talking directly to each other, did they? I mean, other than Obama's frequent assertion that McCain was getting something wrong.

9:54: In the end, I'd say, McCain made more good points and got in more punches, but Obama stood his ground and maintained his stature on stage next to McCain, even as McCain repeatedly tried to portray him as a lightweight. I should add that McCain never seemed too old, short, or lacking in vigor, even on HDTV. Obama looked fine too, and I never saw that upturned face, with the eyes gazing downward, that made him seem supercilious in those old debates with Hillary Clinton.

It's time for another "cruel neutrality" check.

You know I've taken a vow of cruel neutrality, but people keep questioning my faith.

So how is Althouse doing with her "cruel neutrality"?
Badly. I know she'll vote for McCain.
Badly. I know she'll vote for Obama.
Okay, but I think she'll probably vote for McCain.
Okay, but I think she'll probably vote for Obama.
Great, because I really don't know. free polls

"Has the McCain Campaign Broken Sarah Palin?"

Asks Christopher Orr:
[H]er preppers and coddlers and protectors in the campaign [must be giving her the message]: You're not ready. We don't trust you. You have no idea what you're talking about....

When I compare Palin's performance with Gibson to her performance with Couric, the biggest difference I see is confidence.
I don't know if I buy the assumption that it's the McCain campaign's fault. She's been through a lot. She may be running out of emotional resources. A lot of people are trying to destroy her (and her family), using anything they can. Of course, she's got to be tough, and I'm sure she thinks she is. But, my God, she's a human being.

Briefly displayed: a video of Sarah Palin, in her Miss Alaska bathing suit, was a brief internet sensation.

I missed it, but I see Andrew Sullivan had it along with Huffpo, both without significant comment. Hot Air has it with the comment: "Fun and humanizing for most of us, fun and humiliating for media types already given to comparing her to Miss Teen South Carolina."

"Humiliating for media types" is ambiguous, and I realize that Hot Air means that those media types think she is being humiliated, but when I first read that I thought he meant that the media type were humiliating themselves, which is what I would say. Do these people seriously want to suggest that all of the young women who participate in beauty pageants are being humiliated? What snobbery! What prudery! And I bet they look like hell in a bathing suit.

Really, what is the point of thinking this old video means anything at all?

UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan posts "Fighting The Power: An alternative version of the pageant video. As often as they try to remove it, the people will replace it." Does Sullivan have any feeling for how creepy it seems for him to exult over his power to continue spying at the woman's body? I would like to hear him explain the point of this.

"You're a racist! We're a racist! Everybody's a racist! But you can overcome your racism in the face of an imminently exploding car..."

"Crash" is #3 on New York's list of "Ten Liberal Movies So Lame They Make Even Democrats Want to Vote Republican."

I'm especially pleased to see "Bob Roberts" on the list. (#10.) That movie got the kind of reviews that made me feel like I had to see it, and I was a big liberal at the time and predisposed to enjoy the politics, but it was incredibly stupid and -- I agree -- "eye-roll-inducing in its obviousness." [AND: I walked out on it after half an hour, and that was back when I almost never walked out on anything.[

Speaking of the relationship between my free-flowing movement along the political spectrum and my ability to appreciate political comedy, in the last 24 hours, I've noticed that "The Daily Show" got way funnier.

McCain will debate.

Good call.

He needs a graceful explanation to go with that, but it would have been awful not to show.

Advance warning: I'll live-blog.

How Sarah Palin could give a better interview.

Some advice. She really does need to do better, but she's under an inconceivable amount of pressure to perform. I don't see how it's possible to become seasoned under the present circumstances, especially since much of the press seems to want to take her down. One of the items of advice at the link is "relax." Yeah. Do that.

Justice Alito opts out of the cert. pool.

He's rejecting the efficiency of the system of shared law clerks in which clerk writes a memo relied on by Justices using the pool to decide whether to grant the petition to the Supreme Court to hear a case.
A petition accepted that must later be dismissed as “improvidently granted” is a significant embarrassment to the clerk in question. On the other hand, it is hard to get into trouble, [Pepperdine School of Law dean Kenneth] Starr said, by recommending a denial. “The prevailing spirit among the 25-year-old legal savants, whose life experience is necessarily limited in scope, is to seek out and destroy undeserving petitions,” he wrote.

The justices decided 67 cases last term, about half the number in an average year two decades ago. But Justice Alito has said the rise of the pool and the size of the docket are unrelated.
Starr's theory implies that they are related, and Alito's statement was made last year. Perhaps he's changed his mind.

Can they do a poll to learn what kind of people hang up on pollsters?

It's kind of a problem.
Is there a certain type of person likely to refuse the probing calls? And does that affect polling numbers?

In a January op-ed in The New York Times, Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center, warned that the disparity between polls and the outcome in the New Hampshire Democratic primary--Clinton beat Obama despite polls showing him with an advantageous margin--could have been due, in part, to the fact that less affluent whites are more likely to hang up on pollsters. "These whites who do not respond to surveys tend to have more unfavorable views of blacks than respondents who do the interviews," Kohut wrote.
Oh, so if the polls show Obama winning and then he doesn't, it's because racism correlates with the tendency to hang up on pollsters?
Several pollsters I [Seyward Darby] spoke to this week said there isn't a notable disparity between the types of people who answer questions and those who do not. John Zogby, president and CEO of Zogby International, told me that over the past few decades, there has been a "democratization of refusals" and that there is a 95-percent confidence rate in polls' accuracy.

But this also means that only 25% of people go through with polls these days. So the polls only reflect what these strange people think. Who are they? Why do they lag behind the big national trend of nonresponsiveness? Who cares what they think?

"I'm feeling like an ugly date. I feel used. I feel cheap."

McCain rubbed Dave the wrong way.

"And I gotta say Survivor in HD is awesome. Except for the bug bites and whatever is all over Danny's back."

"My husband said they looked like stab wounds but pausing the DVR didn't offer many clues."

So are you watching "Survivor: Gabon"? In HDTV? Bug-bitten, everyone looks like they have acne. All these young people who, in their regular lives, are unusually attractive, are now seeing how gruesome they look in the wild. And this was only the first episode.

ADDED: There are some older people too, but they can't be vain, can they?

"Obama's the calm guy and McCain is the chicken running around with his head cut off."

Does McCain now wish he'd taken the Obama-style low-profile approach to the bailout?

The NYT reports on yesterday's meeting at the White House, where the supposedly worked-out bailout plan broke down. Was it that John McCain came to town to show off his leadership, and he couldn't be allowed to get credit for the plan? Or was it that "once the doors closed, the smooth-talking House Republican leader, John A. Boehner of Ohio, surprised many in the room by declaring that his caucus could not support the plan"?
After spending Thursday morning behind closed doors, senior lawmakers from both parties emerged shortly before 1 p.m. in the ornate painted corridors on the first floor of the Capitol to herald their agreement on the broad outlines of a deal....

But a few blocks away, a senior House Republican lawmaker was at a luncheon with reporters, saying his caucus would never go along with the deal. This Republican said Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the chief deputy whip, was circulating an alternative course that would rely on government-backed insurance, not taxpayer-financed purchase of mortgage assets....

House Republicans have spent days expressing their unease about a huge government intervention, which they regard as a step down the path to socialism.
And McCain "declined to take a stand."

Why did McCain arrive showily, as if he was the man to close the deal, and then not do anything? Has McCain said one word about whether he thinks now is the time to build a bulwark against socialism? And can John McCain explain why government insurance as opposed to government asset-purchasing is the key to saving us from socialism?

Unless McCain talks about some of these things, I don't see the point of his swooping onto the scene to be the leader. Was he just betting that it would look good? But why should he have counted on Democrats allowing him to look good? And, insanely, it seems that Republicans have undercut him.

Belatedly, he must realize that it would have been better to take a low profile and let his congressional colleagues steer their deal to a conclusion -- which is what Barack Obama did.

And then there's the debate. Obama will be there, winning by forfeiture, unless McCain's ultimatum -- he can't debate unless the deal is closed -- was a bluff.

September 25, 2008

The bailout agreement.

WSJ reports:
After a three-hour meeting, lawmakers agreed to legislative principles that would approve Treasury's request for the funds, but would break it into installments, according to people familiar with the matter. Treasury would have access to $250 billion immediately, with another $100 billion to follow if needed. Congress would be able to block the last installment through a vote if it was unhappy with the program.

The agreement could require all companies participating in the program to agree to limits on executive pay—such as restrictions on "golden parachutes." It is also likely to give the government equity warrants in all participating companies.

Still unresolved is whether or not to include changes to bankruptcy law that would give judges the right to change the terms of mortgages. Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois made a plea for it to be included, even though many lawmakers and the White House are hotly opposed.
It sounds rational to me, but I'm no expert. What do you think?

What do you think of the bailout plan?
Looks good, but squelch Durbin.
Looks good, and Durbin's right.
Looks bad.
I'm just going to have to trust these characters. free polls

UPDATE: Uh oh:
But after the [White House] meeting broke up about an hour later, the top Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, Sen. Richard C. Shelby (Ala.), who strongly opposes the bailout, told reporters, "I don't believe we have an agreement."...

Sens. McCain (Ariz.) and Obama (Ill.) left the White House after the meeting without speaking to reporters.

A visibly irritated Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.), chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, later said on CNN that the meeting was thrown off when Republicans brought up "some new core agreement" that supposedly had been floated by McCain and was being considered by the Treasury Department.

"What this looked like to me was a rescue plan for John McCain," Dodd fumed. "This is a sad day for the country." He said he still hopes that a deal can be struck but that the Republicans "need to get their act together and decide what they're for."

"I thought the 'vomit' tag was a joke, but you actually have dozens of posts tagged 'vomit." Was 'bodily fluids' too generic?"

Asked Michiel, in the comments to this post. And indeed, the answer is yes. There's a limit to how many posts Blogger will show on the front page when you click a tag, so I've been working on subdividing some of the bigger tags, and "bodily fluids" was one of the oversized categories. The first subcategory I broke out was vomit, because I knew there was some good stuff in there, including the time when I went out of my way to vomit-blog.

And actually, there are too many in the "vomit" category now, so one of the best ones wasn't appearing: the vomit miracle. I need to subdivide "vomit"! That's disturbing.

Now, with Michiel's prodding I did 3 more subcategories.

1. Saliva... because I got my original mainstream-media recognition when I debate-blogged back in 2004 and noticed a little something.

2. Blood... because blood is the greatest bodily fluid. It's #1. I mean, if you were on "Family Feud" and the question was "Name a bodily fluid," you'd say "blood." Blood has murder, menstruation, art, rage, law ... everything. Go ahead, click.

3. Urine... because ... well, I knew it would amuse Trooper York. (And that's another thing about tags. I'm gradually making tags for my favorite commenters.)

In case you'd like to see a 60-second clip titled "Vomit Tag!", here's a comedy video me and my friends made. It's the outdoor fun time activity that's taking America by storm.

I'm afraid to look! You look.

AND: Please, don't be making video clips for urine tag and sending them to me.

Is Bill Clinton deliberately undermining Obama?

There's this.

And Rush, on the radio, is saying that Clinton is "dropping neutron bombs all over the place" on Obama.

ADDED: Getty Images picture on the front page of the WaPo -- with the caption: "Sen. John McCain, shown this morning at the Clinton Global Initiative, will take part in an extraordinary White House summit with his rival, Sen. Barack Obama, and legislative leaders":

"No convention today!... OK, it's on!... The economy's sound... No, wait, it's going to fall apart unless I go to Washington tomorrow!... "

"We need a commission!... We need to fire somebody!... Get me Andrew Cuomo!... I want ten more debates!... But let's postpone the one we've scheduled!... Do you get the impression a McCain presidency would be a bit exhausting?..."

Mickey mocks McCain.

Do not annoy the Letterman.

He may suddenly pounce.

"Crossword puzzles heavily favor Democrats."

LOL. And those dastardly puzzlers also betray an evil fondness for Arab cities, the Spanish language, Hindu royalty, Hawaiian fowl, and these dreadful things:

ADDED: A poll!

What's the crossword puzzle's favorite music?
Electric Light Orchestra
Yma Sumac
Brian Eno
ABBA free polls

"You are going to be working with an enzyme that bonds protein. You are made of protein."

"Unless you want to glue your lungs together or glue your eyelids to your eyeballs, you absolutely must follow these safety rules."

Art project you don't even want to think about doing. Or, really, the art project is not the final bacon tiara -- is it? -- but the deeply disturbing webpage showing the directions. Just thinking about this picture or even this makes me want to vomit.

Sarah Palin will be answering questions later.

Here she is, on the spot, not responding to Katie Couric:

"I'll try to find you some [examples], and I'll bring them to you."

And that, the night before we hear that the McCain campaign is trying to rearrange the debates so that Palin would not be up next Friday.

Painful. Terrible.

ADDED: Some people think my comment is too terse or too vague. Sorry, but I thought Palin's response Couric was painfully awkward. (I really don't care about Couric's problems.) Palin had a substantial knowledge gap, and she didn't know how to hide it. It felt too much like the possibly forgivable "In what respect, Charlie?" And when combined with the news that the campaign seemed to be finagling to move the VP debate to a later time, it made her look they way her opponents have been trying to paint her: unprepared and weak. It's really not good enough.

When Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart met Entertainment Weekly.

They made a great cover! If you're looking for the old posts about the great, hotly controversial New Yorker cover by Barry Blitt, they're here and here.

The EW interview:
STEWART: I keep hearing that [Sarah Palin is] ''like us.'' There's this idea that people who hunt and have ''good'' values are somehow this mythological American; I don't know who ''this'' person is, I've never met them. She is no more typical ''us'' than I am, than Obama is, than McCain is, than Mr. T is. If there is something quintessentially or authentically American about her, I sort of feel like, you know what? You ''good values people'' have had the country for eight years, and done an unbelievably s---ty job. Let's find some bad values people and give them a shot, maybe they'll have a better take on it.....

There are a lot of issues in this election. The biggest one right now is the economy.

STEWART: We were in this huge credit crisis, out of money. Then the Fed goes, We'll give you a trillion dollars, and all of a sudden Wall Street is like, ''I can't believe we got away with it!'' Can you imagine if someone said, ''I shouldn't have bought that sports car because it means I can't have my house,'' and the bank just said, ''All right, you can have your house. And you know what? Keep the car.'' [He throws up his arms joyfully and shouts] ''Yeaaaaah, I get to keep the car! Wait, do I have to give the money back?'' ''No, it doesn't matter.'' ''Yeah, I'm gonna get another car! I'm gonna do the same thing the same way, except twice as f---ed up!''

COLBERT: The idea that Lehman Brothers doesn't get any money and AIG does reminds me very much of ''Iran is a mortal enemy because they have not achieved a nuclear weapon. But North Korea is a country we can work with, because they have a nuclear weapon.'' The idea is, Get big or go home. How big can you f--- up? Can you f--- up so bad that you would ruin the world economy? If it's just 15,000 who are out of jobs, no. You have to actually be a global f---up to get any help....
More at the link.

"I heard that Wall Street traders will treat us like liberators."

Comment by Peter Hoh on last night's post about the Bush speech that made me laugh the saddest possible half-laugh.

Aerosmith's Steven Tyler is suing unknown bloggers who've impersonated him.

I'll be watching this, since I have a problem with a prominent blog allowing commenters to comment in my name. I've asked the blogger to remove those comments and he has pointedly refused. (The blogger who denied my requests asserts that anyone reading the comments would know it's fake, but this is self-serving and out-of-touch with the way people click around on the web and are not necessarily familiar with a particular blog's humor.)

"The tattoo community sees them as posers. It’s like going out in the 1960s to buy a Beatles wig."

Said Bob Baxter, the editor of the tattoo journal Skin & Ink, of people who get hand or neck tattoos before they've inked up the rest of their bodies.

Why I love this quote:

1. Everything's a "community" these days. There's no escape. The tattoo community. The rugged individualist community. The loner community.

2. Who knew you had to earn your neck tattoo? I'd have thought getting a neck tattoo as opposed to, say, one of those peeping-over-the-pantyline tattoos was a real demonstration of commitment. Ten (or more) years ago I stood in line at the University Bookstore behind a pretty young woman who had a tattoo on her neck of an old-fashioned, claw-footed bathtub -- complete with the extended pipe and shower-head. "Poseur" is not the word that crossed my mind.

3. The simile. It's so inapt! The whole point of a wig is that you don't have to have the hair. It's the equivalent of a fake tattoo. But in another respect, a wig is out there. What man dares to wear a wig? Look at all the men who, balding, shave their heads. They miss their hair, but they still won't wear a wig. In the 60s, guys who wanted the Beatle look but needed a professional style some of the time would comb the front part down as well as they could and not go so long that they couldn't comb it up and over.

4. When I think of an actual wig, I think of Andy Warhol -- look at him here. He was doing something men still won't do. I know there are men who dress up like women and use lady's wigs for that, and there are plenty of women who rely on wigs, but where is the men in men's wigs community, eh?

September 24, 2008

Bush speaks.

At 9 ET.

Comment here.

UPDATE: I do wish he'd been able to sell us on the plan with an explanation of how we'd be taking advantage of the market and probably making a profit in the end. (If that's the case!)

IN THE COMMENTS: peter hoh said:
I heard that Wall Street traders will treat us like liberators.

AND: I made a new post out of Peter's great great comment, so if you want to comment on that or just get a fresh start in comments on the Bush speech, go there. Also, in the WSJ Andy Kessler makes the argument I wanted to hear Bush make, that we can make money by taking advantage of the market.
Firms will haggle, but eventually cave -- they need the cash. I am figuring Mr. Paulson could wind up buying more than $2 trillion in notional value loans and home equity and CDOs for his $700 billion.

Now, why didn't Bush say that? Well, he kind of hinted at it. But maybe he didn't want to say it for reasons embodied in Peter's great great comment.

"Is Obama under-performing because he’s black?"

That's an ambiguous way to put it!

"I am calling on the president to convene a meeting with the leadership from both houses of Congress," says McCain.

This is, I think, a smart demonstration of leadership. McCain is suspending his campaign and seeking a postponement of the debate that is scheduled for this Friday.

Meanwhile, speaking of leadership, where's our incredible shrinking president, Mr. Bush?

UPDATE: Obama says that "there are times for politics and there are times to rise above politics and do what’s right," but now is not the time to cancel the debate. "This is exactly the time when people need to hear from the candidates." And: "Part of the president’s job is to deal with more than one thing at once. In my mind it’s more important than ever."

I suppose Obama couldn't very well follow McCain's lead. In fact, if McCain had really been serious about this, he should have worked it out with Obama in private, so that the two men could make a joint announcement. McCain went for political theatrics, and I guess he can use it against Obama now, which was probably the point, but Obama's reaction was so predictable that McCain's show of statesmanship was entirely bogus, so I will be impervious to that rhetoric.

The Purple Pod Café.


It's a place where you can talk about what you like.

The internet is a series of tubes.

Fallopian tubes.

"He has to urinate against gravity, which is not good for the kidneys."

David Blaine is annoying everyone again, yet we're supposed to sympathize.

Flea at USC.

He's a freshman, studying music:
The Chili Peppers [created tension] in our song structures but all based on emotion and intuition as opposed to knowing the math and academics of it. Knowing the structure is really fun.
He's also working on a solo album:
I’ve been making a record at home and it’s nearly done. It’s mostly instrumental stuff but I have Patti Smith singing on it and the choir from the school but mostly it’s an instrumental record. I’m not sure how to describe it but a lot of people have described it as cinematic, like soundtrack music. It’s not really a commercial enterprise, it’s not going to be on rock radio or anything. The record is based on the character Helen Burns from "Jane Eyre." I love Charlotte Bronte and all of the Bronte sisters.
That "Jane Eyre" stuff sound really nerdy, but if you've ever seen the Orson Welles movie version, you know that Helen Burns is the most stunning beautiful child ever seen in a film:

But no, Flea (Michael Balzary) says he's mad about the Brontes, and he's going to college, so I'll assume it's about the books, not how insanely beautiful Elizabeth Taylor is in that movie.

Here's Flea playing the bass:

He's studying trumpet (and music theory and composition) at USC.

AND: No, a men in shorts tag is not called for!

"Did Palin Help McCain Among White Women?"

Actually, no.

"John McCain truly believes, truly believes that you are corporate America's problem. And thank God you are."

Said Joe Biden to the trial lawyers:
"There are two people -- you've heard me say it before -- two groups that stand between us and the barbarians at the gate," Biden said. "It's you and organized labor. That's it. That is it. So, mark my words, mark my words, if we lose this election, you are going to continue to see a continuation of the onslaught on everything we care about. For real. For real. So, I'm not only thanking you for your help. I would think you're all absolutely brain-dead if you didn't help. And I mean it."
Speaking of brain...

"She seems nice. She seems smart. She likes hockey."

Fake Sarah Palin.

Getting Kristy Webb ready for the part:
10:45 a.m. - Hairstylist Nathalie Quedru teases Webb's hair in three different sections to perfect the Palin bun. Quedru says she hasn't done that hairstyle since 1986, when she was first getting her license.
Ooh. Catty.

(And real Sarah Palin was in NYC too.)

The University of Illinois tells all its employees they can't wear political buttons or attend political rallies on campus.

And if their cars have political bumper stickers, they can't park them in campus lots!

ADDED: I understand the focus on bumper stickers. Too much transparency if the faculty parking lot has rows and rows of Obama stickers.

September 23, 2008

I sort of love the results of this Larry King/Ahmadinejad "blingee" contest.

But if I look at it for more than a few seconds, I get nauseated and on the verge of a seizure, so I don't know what to think of this new form of visual humor. Seriously, now, just thinking of looking at that page again makes me ill.

I love funny things, but is it worth it?


... gay.


Apparently, "yep" is the special lesbian way to say yes.

"Why is Obama so vapid and hesitant and gutless? Why, to put it another way, does he risk going into political history as a dusky Dukakis?"

Christopher Hitchens has some questions.

"A new Operation Chaos, it's called SOB, Save Our Biden, Operation Sling Blade."

"We need to keep this guy on the campaign."

Is it really this bad? Check out the amazing gush of Biden gaffes at that link. (Warning: It's Rush Limbaugh, but you need to read the evidence.)

You know, when I hear all that, it almost makes me think that Biden is screwing up on purpose to set up an Eagleton move.

You may have noticed the big internet rumor, but I'd like to claim credit for starting that meme, here, recorded on September 5th:

I was yanking Jane Hamsher's chain, but these things take on a life of their own.

IN THE COMMENTS: JMH notes that Jim Geraghty predicted on August 29th that Biden would withdraw:
Picture this scenario...

One month from now, the Palin pick has proven a bonanza for the McCain campaign. A large chunk of Hillary's 18 million voters have been won over. Conservatives are unified and energized, and the previously-undiscovered "Maxim magazine vote" is suddenly giving McCain large margins among young males.

Joe Biden will disappear from the campaign trail, and we will later learn it was to see a doctor. A previously-undiscovered, vaguely ominous health issue will be discovered, and Biden will sadly announce that he cannot continue as Obama's running mate. With a sudden need for a new one, Obama will turn... to Hillary Clinton.

Call it the Torricelli gambit.

But why would Hillary accept it? Also in the comments is Dust Bunny Queen:
Why in the world would Hillary allow herself to be put on the ticket at THIS point? Seriously. If Obama kicks Biden to the curb, doesn't this bring up several troubling issues.

1. When the going gets tough, Obama throws people under the bus. Grandmother, Rev Wright, Biden.

2. What kind of decision making does this indicate on the part of Obama. Can't he get anything right? Does he have such poor judgement that he has to continually make excuses and blame other people. Does Obama have ANY loyalty to anyone besides himself? Evidently not.

If I were Hillary, and NOW you want my help after kicking me in the teeth, I would say "thanks but no thanks" a la Sarah Palin and gleefully watch Obama melt down. I don't think he would have a snowball's chance if he made this sudden switch.

If she runs on his losing ticket it will just brand her as a loser. If she stays above the fray and then runs again in 2012 she has a fighting chance. Basically she should tell Obama "fat chance loser."

A late afternoon coffee break.

For you! Not me. I have a class. This is just a coffeehouse for you to talk about what you like.

ADDED: There now, I'm done. Thanks for carrying on without me. And congratulations, Ernie.

"That baby just told me he loved Barack Obama!"

At the Michelle Obama rally-ette.

"Obama dismissed Mr. Ayers as just 'a guy who lives in my neighborhood,' and 'not somebody who I exchange ideas with on a regular basis.'"

Stanley Kurtz has the story: "Obama and Ayers Pushed Radicalism On Schools."

Palpatinian tranche.

I've been reading and listening to people talk for over a half century, so it's really weird to have to look up 2 words in 2 hours.

First, MadisonMan, he of the bird's-eye view of the Michelle Obama rally-ette, said:
I agree that McCain's post-hit grin is a little too Palpatinian.
Okay, now you know I haven't been following the "Star Wars" saga. I'm not ashamed of that. In fact, I'm one of those people who blame "Star Wars" for ruining film.

And then I had to go and read the Gawker item with the revolting title: "Why We Are Better For Knowing Elizabeth Wurtzel Screwed David Foster Wallace."
That Elizabeth Wurtzel had some thing with David Foster Wallace in the nineties is the type of news flash I'd like to have failed detecting this week. Namely because to blog about Elizabeth Wurtzel is to tempt oneself to unwind the various tranches of disquietude summoned when someone like me conducts a Wurtzel Google Image Search. There's the first tranche of familiarity; I've conducted this search before; the second: I remember quickly that I will invariably, though tempted by the grainy topless shots from Bitch, will like Radar before me quickly settle on the hottest color photo available, the one she used for the cover of her 2001 addiction memoir More, Now, Again, even though Wurtzel has graciously offered us photographic evidence that she has, in the intervening (ohgod) seven and a half years, aged. For this is not a new asset, this story; the underlying episode dates back to the nineties, when Wurtzel was still dressing up her faculties and skills with too much blue eyeliner and too many mood-altering substances in lieu of the appropriate degree of risk management and/or clothes.
I admit it. I don't study finance. That's why I unfortunately cannot help you with the burning question of the day, whether the big bailout is the desperately needed cure or a horrible, evil boondoggle. I'm sorry. Really.
So let's examine that tranche for a second: here we have Wurtzel, drawn to David and his big, serious, ambitious, meaty, unfrivolous gold standard of a book; David, drawn to Wurtzel by her fucking leotard and perhaps her nebulous promise to impart upon his serious asset some sort of value-unlocking sense of "buzz"; the confusing, fuzzy subprime relationship they signed onto; all fuzzy fundamentals and wild histrionics and bombastic promises dependent on "trajectories" neither knows how — neither is socialized to know how — to prepare for a soft landing; yeah, you've done that sort of fucking.
Is Gawker trying to write like David Foster Wallace? David's dead, baby.

David's dead, but there were some good movies after "Star Wars."

"Wow, over a third of your readers who responded seem to be rabid Obama-phobes."

"How do you manage to attract so many readers who don’t align with you politically? My theory is that right-wingers want to hear what non-doctrinaire Democrats (for instance you and Mickey Kaus) have to say and will listen to them just because they appear to be so sane when compared to the lefty flamethrowers. I wonder if David Brooks (if he didn’t have the NYT bullhorn) and similar non-doctrinaire Republicans attract the same attention from hardcore Obama supporters? If so, why are there not more mainstream voices and if not, why the difference between the leftys and rightys?"

Email from a reader. (He was referring to the poll in this post, where 38% of you answered the question "Should Althouse go to the Michelle Obama rally?" with the option "No, because Michelle Obama hates America.")

I said I'd ask you.

My instinctive response, which may say more about me than about you, is that "No, because Michelle Obama hates America" is funny, and that's a natural vote-getter that doesn't reflect true opinion. Look at any poll on Television Without Pity or Go Fug Yourself, and you'll see.

"Sincerity is everything. If you can fake that, you've got it made."

Looking for a link for that old George Burns joke -- I needed to add it to the "in the comments" update to the first post of today -- I turned up this old Ask Metafilter page looking for the most intellectual jokes:
Jean-Paul Sartre is sitting at a French café, revising his draft of Being and Nothingness. He says to the waitress, "I'd like a cup of coffee, please, with no cream." The waitress replies, "I'm sorry, Monsieur, but we're out of cream. How about with no milk?"
Much more at the link, of course, and, if we're lucky, in the comments.

"If you are a great orator ... and you don't use your skills to surprise people or stake out a position that's a little risky..."

"... and really do the work of convincing people that that's the right position -- if you take your great oratorical skills and just keep repeating 'I'm a uniter, not a divider,' plus several boilerplate predictions that are totally poll-driven -- you look like an empty suit!"

Said Bob Wright about Barack Obama, a couple months ago:

That clip is highlighted in Part 2 of Jac's "How Obama lost me," under the heading "As much as I hate to admit it, there's a lot of truth to the 'He's all about speeches, not ideas' critique," which is #7 on a to-be-continued list that now has 8 items. (Excellent items, in my view, which is biased, Jac being my son.)

UPDATE: Here's Part 3.

In anticipation of Friday's debate, the NYT sizes up Obama and McCain.

John M. Broder on Obama:
Some of his chief strengths — his facility with words, his wry detachment, his reasoning skills, his youthful cool — have not always served him well and may pose significant vulnerabilities....

Mr. Obama has a tendency to overintellectualize and to lecture, befitting his training as a lawyer and law professor. He exudes disdain for the quips and sound bites that some deride as trivializing political debates but that have become a central part of scoring them. He tends to the earnest and humorless when audiences seem to crave passion and personality. He frequently rises above the mire of political combat when the battle calls for engagement.
He's just too good for these lowly debate-like exercises those feeble Middle Americans depend on to formulate their pathetic little opinions... sayeth the some who deride this awful trivia.
This was seen most starkly at last month’s forum at Saddleback Church, where... Obama gave long, discursive answers to questions on loaded topics like abortion and personal moral failings, while Mr. McCain stole the show with earthy anecdotes and humor.

“Obama clearly knows how to float like a butterfly,” said Alan Schroeder, who studies media and the presidency at Northeastern University, “but he needs to work on the sting-like-a-bee part.”
Because you know how deadly dull those discursive butterflies are. If only he could spice things up with a few strong one-liners? I disagree. I think Obama needs to make what is his natural style more coherent. He shouldn't flutter and then sting. He should speak in strong, well-structured sentences that are always comprehensible and devoid of "you know" and "uh" filler. Let Obama be Obama, but make it excellent Obamatude.

Katharine Q. Seelye has the matching piece on John McCain:
He has used fairly consistent techniques during his roughly 30 debates on the national stage: he is an aggressive competitor who scolds his opponents, grins when he scores and is handy with the rhetorical shiv....

He uses short, active verbs that project strength, and he can connect with audiences on a visceral level using down-to-earth language....

“McCain’s major weakness is looking wooden, and when he’s out of his comfort zone, his sound bites become weaker and his evasions of questions become more obvious,” said David Lanoue, a political scientist at the University of Alabama and an expert in presidential debates.

... [D]epending on his level of contempt for his opponent, he can drip with condescension, even as he sits calmly with his hands folded in front of him, smiling....

David S. Birdsell, who specializes in political communication and presidential debates at Baruch College, said Mr. McCain could be “irascible and pugnacious and clearly stoked by personal animosity.” It will be a challenge for him to keep that side in check, Mr. Birdsell said, especially toward Mr. Obama, who is 25 years Mr. McCain’s junior and who Mr. McCain believes has not paid his dues.

“Can McCain restrain himself?” Mr. Birdsell asked. “And will Obama have the ability to place the pinpricks at the right moment to elicit that negative, slashing, awkwardly grinning McCain?”
Pinpricks... bee stings... Will McCain get irascible?

It's funny. By these 2 descriptions, both men sound like they're at their worst when they display disdain, and both have a way of trying to smile their way into looking like nice guys in spite of that disdain. That might be quite amusing to watch, and there's a danger that America will tune in to be turned off by both of these men.

Anyway, the articles, taken together, make it seem as though McCain has a big advantage. He only needs to do his usual thing and not act like a jerk. Obama will need to struggle to prove his gravitas without boring us to tears.

Or am I falling prey to a nefarious NYT effort to structure expectations for the benefit of Obama? Does the NYT reach anyone who isn't already for Obama?

IN THE COMMENTS: The wonderful Bissage says:
America craves authenticity.

That’s why McCain and Obama should work fast to perfect the techniques of method acting.

Sure, there might be some off-putting red-faced veiny neck stuff going on.

And maybe some mumbling.

But America doesn’t want a President who will pantomime gravitas to us.

America wants a President who will feel his gravitas at us!
I added the links in service to Bissage's awesome allusiveness.

September 22, 2008

"I haven't liked a candidate enough to be actually disillusioned by one in . . . "

"... well, ever, really."

Ha ha. Me neither. But this is self-flattery, isn't it? We were never illusioned.

5 of these 9 will go into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

I got the list at the WaPo, where they are asking readers which nominee is most deserving, but I'm going to repeat that question, to get a special Althouse blog result. So answer here before you go there and see what the WaPo readers are coming up with. It's not easy!

Who's most deserving of a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
The Stooges
Jeff Beck
Bobby Womack
Little Anthony and the Imperials
Wanda Jackson free polls

Forget the gender gap in wages. The real gap is between traditional men and everyone else.

This study indicates that focus on the gender gap in wages is wrong:
If you divide workers into four groups -- men with traditional attitudes, men with egalitarian attitudes, women with traditional attitudes and women with egalitarian attitudes -- men with traditional attitudes earn far more for the same work than those in any of the other groups. There are small disparities among the three disadvantaged groups, but the bulk of the income inequality is between the first group and the rest.

"When we think of the gender wage gap, most of our focus goes to the women side of things," said Beth A. Livingston, co-author of the study. "This article says a lot of the difference may be in men's salaries."

Livingston said she was taken aback by the results.

"We actually thought maybe men with traditional attitudes work in more complex jobs that pay more or select higher-paying occupations," she said. "Regardless of the jobs people chose, or how long they worked at them, there was still a significant effect of gender role attitudes on income."
I'm taken aback by these results. Not really. Assuming the results are accurate, it could be either that a particular type of man has traditional values or that the traditional lifestyle gives a man more opportunity and incentive to compete, put in long hours, and make money a priority.

A petite crowd collects for the Michelle Obama rally in Madison.

One of my favorite commenters, Madison Man, just happens to have an office window overlooking the scene:


The time is 10:30 a.m. Notices for the event said that the "doors" would open at 9:00 and the event would begin at 10.

Not quite a hotbed of Michelle-love, is it?

AND: MM tells me that is the same sized crowd that was there at 10 and that the event actually started right after the shot was taken. So this is, presumably, as large as it got, i.e., much smaller than I would have thought.


(Thanks, Palladian.)

2 new ads, one from Obama, one from McCain.

Both ads are very negative and ominous, and both are very effective. Can I be against both of them?

There hasn't been a single Obama-McCain debate yet, but many people -- in key states -- are already voting.

Something like a third of the electorate will vote early this time, and the voting starts today in some places.

If Michelle Obama were doing a rally 5 blocks from your house, would you go?

This is a non-hypothetical question for me.

Should Althouse go to the Michelle Obama rally?
Yes, because it's so easy.
Yes, because it's an important rally.
Yes, to get descriptions and photographs for the blog.
No, she's got more important things to do.
No, because it's not important and not that bloggable.
No, because Michelle Obama hates America. free polls

"McCain — more of a gambler than Obama — could take a big risk."

"While assuring the public and the financial markets that his administration will act forcefully and swiftly to deal with the crisis, he could decide that he must oppose the bailout as the panicked product of a discredited administration, an irresponsible Congress, and a feckless financial establishment, all of which got us into this fine mess."

William Kristol, stirring things up.

Read the whole thing. Who do you think was calling him on the telephone in paragraph 1?
A friend serving in the Bush administration called Sunday to try to talk me out of my doubts about the $700 billion financial bailout the administration was asking Congress to approve.

On the left-side column on the same page of the NYT, we have Paul Krugman, also sounding the alarm about the bailout, and Krugman has name "Paulson" 8 times. How many times does "Paulson" appear in Kristol's column? Zero!

The conclusion is obvious: Paulson was the friend of the phone, personally begging Kristol to support the plan, and he didn't. Shouldn't we be very worried?

Emmy winners.

The list.

A lot easier to read the list than to watch the damned show. Did you watch? Do you care about anything on this list? I guess it's mildly interesting that Paul Giamatti won a best actor award "John Adams." I still haven't been able to plow through to the end of that thing, and I have the DVD set (which HBO sent me for free). I found it so alienating, the way everything seemed so small -- as if Abigail ran the farm without any help and President Adams ran the country through various one-on-one arguments with petulant egotists. And now I see that Giamatti won over Ricky Gervais in "Extras." That's just stupid.

Now, this is funny:

Jon Stewart, “80th Annual Academy Awards” (ABC)
David Letterman, “Late Show With David Letterman” (CBS)
* Don Rickles, “Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project” (HBO)
Tina Fey “Saturday Night Live” (NBC)
Stephen Colbert, “The Colbert Report” (Comedy Central)
Stewart and Colbert will likely be hilarious on the subject of losing to Rickles. And Tina Fey, otherwise the darling of the night -- she won 3 Emmys -- lost to him too. Ha ha.

"How Obama lost me" -- by an Obama supporter who's still going to vote for Obama.

You may remember that back in September 2004, I wrote a post called "How Kerry lost me." I mined my blog archive in an effort to figure out -- for my own purposes -- the origin of the antagonism I had come to feel for Kerry. I ended up voting for Bush in 2004, and I had only voted for a Republican for President once before, and that was way back in 1976, the second time I voted for a presidential candidate, when I decided -- on the way to the polling place -- that there was something amiss about Jimmy Carter.

Now, today, Jac has a post modeled after "How Kerry lost me." (Jac is the one of my 2 sons who was always big on Obama. The other son, Chris, was a huge Hillary Clinton supporter, who I think may snub Obama in November. Perhaps he'll arrive in the comments and tell us what he's going to do. He doesn't blog anymore.)

Jac is making a list of the things that have happened over the months that have caused him to develop the opinion that Obama is "not good enough." Today, he's got a to-be-continued list of 5 things, and I see that this post is very different from "How Kerry lost me," because Jac is mostly seeing that Obama hasn't done well enough at getting and keeping American voters on his side.

"How Kerry lost me" was actually about how Kerry lost me, whereas "How Obama lost me" is really about how Obama lost the giant landslide of Americans his most enamored supporters envisioned.

Autumn arrives today.

I got the feeling it was coming...


... yesterday.

September 21, 2008

Mayor Bloomberg: "There is a partisanship that has paralyzed our country."

"Both parties have redistricted themselves such that they don't have to worry about a challenge across the aisle, but they have to have -- they worry about a challenge from their flanks, so the conservatives are less willing to move to the middle, and the liberals are less willing to move to the middle, and we've got to get over that, and we've got to understand that we're all in this together. Unless we have bipartisan legislation and bipartisan governing at the federal, state, and city level, we're just going to have one problem after another, and the future's not as bright as I think it should be for America."

That was on "Meet the Press" this morning. Here's the whole transcript.

A poll (you might want to read the transcript first):

If this were the presidential ballot, who would you vote for?
Barack Obama
John McCain
Michael Bloomberg free polls

Yellow bees love yellow flowers.



The lazy man's treehouse.


Michelle Obama, back in Madison, tomorrow morning.

Does the campaign consider our little lefty city women's work? Why don't we get Biden? (He's off tending to folks the press calls "lunch-bucket Democrats.") Why don't we get Barack Obama? (He's too valuable to use getting too few more votes in a city that is certain to vote overwhelmingly for him.)

Michelle was here last February, the day before the primary. I attended. That was the speech where she said "For the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country," something that didn't even stand out to me in what I thought was an excellent speech. I'm used to hearing what I'm used to hearing in our little lefty city.

"Sasha undid the object and put it solemnly on the table."

"It was a not very tall candelabra of old bronze and artistic workmanship. It consisted of a group: on the pedestal stood two female figures in the costume of Eve and in attitudes for the description of which I have neither the courage nor the fitting temperament. The figures were smiling coquettishly and altogether looked as though, had it not been for the necessity of supporting the candlestick, they would have skipped off the pedestal and have indulged in an orgy such as is improper for the reader even to imagine."

I took a little walk today and listened to the short story "A Work of Art" -- which you can read here -- on Miette's bedtime story podcast. I was thoroughly amused by the old Chekhov story and replayed the last minute of it as I was passing by the empty gardens of University Heights.

I discovered Miette's podcast after rhhardin very aptly recommended Theodore Roethke's essay "Last Class" in a comment to the post on that NYT Magazine piece about whether it's good for a serious writer to be a creative writing professor. Rh linked to the first page of the essay (story?), and I thought it was phenomenal:
I'm tired of the I-love-me bitches always trying to keep somebody off balance; Park Avenue cuties who, denied dogs, keep wolfcubs named Errol Flynn, or bats and toads with names like Hoagy; all the cutesy, tricksy trivia and paraphernalia with which the stupid and sterile rich try to convince themselves they aren't really dead.
That's a teacher telling his students what he thinks of them!

Looking for the rest of the pages, I hit upon Miette's podcast of it. Sampling it and finding Miette's voice quite charming, I decided to take it out for a walk... over to Barrique's Wine Cave, where I didn't drink wine but had a latte and did the NY crossword in the back of the NYT Magazine.

Why men shave their heads.

Christina Reihill writes:
While the idea of the modern man as a hairless metrosexual more interested in manicures than motors challenges my notions of a heterosexual man, I'm more interested in the state of play between the sexes in our hyper-sexualised, pornified culture.

As young girls are told that it's empowering to pursue men aggressively and young men are learning to lie back and take it, I wonder how these acts of aggressive connection affects the psyche....

On Freud's map, this redefining of male sexuality could be seen as men searching for the mother in them and/or acting out their sexual envy towards woman.

Just as women express penis envy, is this men saying we're not lying back and taking it?

What are we watching and possibly not seeing in the bald head, bullet-proof imagery in today's "anything goes" culture? What is the symbolism in men shaving their heads?

Staying with Freud and his symbolic grammar -- the head represents the penis, while head hair is recognised as semen.

Extending the logic of these associations, long hair expresses unrestrained sexuality, while hair removal makes a statement around sexual restraint, as in celibacy or castration.
What is restrained about exposing the penis? You had to do that hair=semen move to make this theory work.