November 15, 2008

The 14-minute long Beatles recording, "Carnival of Light," will finally be released, after 41 years.

How bad can it be?
... distorted guitars and drum-beats, gargling, church organs, and Sir Paul and John Lennon yelling: "Are you all right?" and "Barcelona!"...

"I said to the guys, this is a bit indulgent, but would you mind giving me 10 minutes? All I want you to do is just wander round all the stuff and bang it, shout, play it. Then we put a bit of echo on it. It's very free."...

The producer who oversaw the recording, Sir George Martin, described the track as "a kind of uncomposed free-for-all melange of sound".


You may have noticed that I've started making more specific tags -- the various labels at the end of each post. There are so many posts on this blog that huge numbers build up in the broad tag categories. The "Obama" tag has 896 posts.

So I've decided to get more specific -- with that "boring Obama speech" tag I created today and "Obama songs," things like that. There is a danger I'll make a new tag and then forget to use it again, like "shut up and believe." I sort of remember to use "written strangely early in the morning," but probably not as often as I write something strangely early in the morning.

When I first started doing tags, I tried to keep it general, with things like "animals." Now, when I have a post about an animal, I make a tag for the specific animal. Then, I do a search for all the old posts with that animal, and I'm always amused when some particular animal has been the subject of a lot of old posts. Of course, there are many old posts for "dog" and "squirrel," but I was delighted to find out, after I did a new "alligator" post, that I had 10 posts that could take the "alligator" tag. I had no idea I'd been writing about dolphins.

And today, when I created the "lobster" tag, I saw that I had 16 posts that deserved it. I clicked on the tag to see a page of miscellaneous old posts. I'd forgotten the time we murdered a lobster for dinner. (Recipe for Chilled Pea Soup with Lobster, Crème Fraiche and Wilted Watercress reachable through that link.) "We were just squealing and shooting photographs a la Annie Hall." I wrote that back in 2005, so it not only pre-dated tags, it pre-dated YouTube. It makes me want to do this now:

I love all the many ways the blog lets me reach into the past 5 years.

"I had one [of my teeth] chipped out with a chisel. My teeth are just so big and white -- a homeless person would never have them."

"I wanted to break up my big, shining piano keys to five them a little character. Some might think I f**ked up my grill for nothing, but I just wanted to come up with some s**t to make the part unique."

That's Jamie Foxx. Crazy? But if it is crazy, then it's one more way he's getting into character for the role -- the schizophrenic musician Nathaniel Ayers.


Interesting use of the word "five." Presumably, not a typo. From Urban Dictionary: "To give, hand or pass something from one person to another (because your hand, which you use to pass the thing, has five fingers). Man, this food has no flavor. Could you five me the salt?"

"Intranational tourism is radically constricting, and humbling in the hardest way -- hostile to my fantasy of being a true individual..."

I want to talk about this passage from a footnote in the David Foster Wallace essay "Consider the Lobster" (at page 240 in the paperback essay collection):
My personal experience has not been that traveling around the country is broadening or relaxing, or that radical changes in place or context have a salutary effect, but rather that intranational tourism is radically constricting, and humbling in the hardest way -- hostile to my fantasy of being a true individual, of living somehow outside and above it all... To be a mass tourist, for me, is to become a pure late-date American: alien, ignorant, greedy for something you cannot ever have, disappointed in a way you can never admit. It is to spoil, by way of sheer ontology, the very unspoiledness you are there to experience. It is to impose yourself on places that in all non-economic ways would be better, realer, without you. It is, in lines and gridlock and transaction after transaction, to confront a dimension of yourself that is as inescapable as it is painful: As a tourist, you become economically significant, but essentially loathsome, an insect on a dead thing.
My questions:

1. Is Wallace saying anything about travel in general, or just intranational travel, or just travel that deserves the label "tourism," or just tourism that is also "mass"? If he's not saying something about travel in general, what is it about this subset of travel that deserves this special loathing?

2. What do these feelings have to do with being an American, and what is "pure" and "late-date" about it? Haven't there been "alien, ignorant, greedy" travelers all over the place and throughout the ages?

3. As we know, Wallace was deeply depressed and ultimately committed suicide, and is that the main thing that passage means?

4. On page 237, Wallace tells us that "lobsters are basically giant sea insects" -- lobsters and insects are all arthropods -- and that they are "garbagemen of the sea, eaters of dead stuff," so if we become "an insect on a dead thing," we're like the lobster, right? And therefore we shouldn't eat lobster, presumably. Or should we? We are after all hateful, in that view, so why spare the lobster?

"You can assess the true position of women in society by looking at its toilet queues."

Wednesday is World Toilet Day.

The Supreme Court has taken 2 cases challenging the constraints of election law.

Adam Liptak reports:
... Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, No. 08-205, arises from “Hillary: The Movie,” a film by a conservative advocacy group released early this year, when Mrs. Clinton was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. The question for the court is whether the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law of 2002 applies to the broadcast of a feature-length film and to television advertisements for it.

In January, a three-judge panel of the Federal District Court here said the film was an “electioneering communication” with only one point: “to inform the electorate that Senator Clinton is unfit for office, that the United States would be a dangerous place in a President Hillary Clinton world and that viewers should vote against her.”

The panel added that advertisements for the film must include spoken and written disclosures, among them that “Citizens United is responsible for the content of this advertising.”

Citizens United said those requirements were unconstitutionally burdensome. The spoken disclosure, the group told the Supreme Court, “takes about four seconds to narrate, making 10-second ads virtually impossible and 30-second ads difficult to do.”

The McCain-Feingold law prohibits the use of corporate treasury money, including that of nonprofit issue advocacy groups, to pay for much electioneering communication in a window of 60 days before a general election or 30 days before a primary election. James Bopp Jr., a lawyer for Citizens United, said in a statement issued Friday that “the notion that a feature-length movie can be banned is a return to the days of government censorship and book-burnings.”
Before you leap to a conclusion about what the answer ought to be, watch this trailer for the movie:

Doesn't that work as an anti-Hillary ad more than as an ad for the movie? A movie could be made just as a device to immunize ads from the usual requirements.

Using the iPhone as an eBook with the app Stanza.

I'm a sucker for eBooks. I bought a Rocket Book years ago and, in the last year, a Kindle. (Here's a vlog I did comparing the 2 quasi-rectangular objects). And I haven't much liked either of them. I complained about the Kindle here, and I haven't touched it in months. I have to remember not to throw away hundreds of dollars on eBooks!

But now, here's an app -- Stanza -- that makes the iPhone work as an eBook. It's free, so if I don't like it and don't use it, I won't have to feel like a chump. Anyway, it works nicely. I've set my font size. The print is, of course, bright and clear. And you don't turn pages, you "cover flow" to the next page with a finger swipe.

The on-line libraries are fun to browse. For example, I can see a list of the most commonly assigned high school books. The top 5:
  1. "Pride and Prejudice," by Jane Austen
  2. "Jane Eyre," by Charlotte Bronte
  3. "Wuthering Heights," by Emily Bronte
  4. "Death Comes to the Archbishop," by Willa Cather
  5. "The Awakening," by Kate Chopin
Notice anything? Has high school become Women's Studies? Well, to be fair, the next 20+ are by men: "Heart of Darkness," "The Divine Comedy," "Don Quixote," "A Tale of Two Cities," "Crime and Punishment," etc.

It's also interesting to see what books are most popular among those who download free digital books. From the Freebooks list, #1 is "The Art of War." Hmmm. The top 6 are by men, and #7 is good old "Pride and Prejudice." (When did that get to be the greatest novel ever written?) But generally, this list is pretty masculine, and I'm glad to see it's not all novels. Charles Darwin ranks high. So do Freud and Nietzsche. From the Project Gutenberg list, Albert Einstein is #1, followed by Confucius, "The Art of War" again, and Plato's "Republic." The Gutenberg crowd is really ambitious. What's the top novel for these folks? "Siddhartha"!

Anyway, highly recommended, if only for the fun of browsing lists of what other people read. But I've downloaded a few things to read in full.

The Office of the President-Elect speaks!

Listen up!

I'm afraid he's going to be boring! Did he say anything other than what we already know? There's a big economic problem. Mmm hmm. A fair amount of my attention focused on the almost-readable writing on that thing in the lower right-hand corner. Is that the pot that plant is in -- maybe it says "Arthur" -- or a separate plaque sort of a thing? Anyway, he said something about how the country can "rise again" and how we all need to sacrifice because we all "rise or fall" as "one people." All this rising and oneness...

ADDED: Given the Mad Magazine reference above -- at "Arthur" -- I feel compelled to add:

AND: Tigerhawk asks: "Did I hear the word 'malaise'?"
No... but he did go on at length about the extent to which everything sucks, and that we are going to need a massive new government-run energy program, and that it will involve a lot of "sacrifice." Sorry to say, I have not heard a politician sound so much like Jimmy Carter since, well, 1980.

The role of religion in passing California's gay marriage ban.

Here's a NYT article by Jesse McKinley and Kirk Johnson:
Less than two weeks before Election Day, the chief strategist behind a ballot measure outlawing same-sex marriage in California called an emergency meeting here.

“We’re going to lose this campaign if we don’t get more money,” the strategist, Frank Schubert, recalled telling leaders of Protect Marriage, the main group behind the ban.

The campaign issued an urgent appeal, and in a matter of days, it raised more than $5 million, including a $1 million donation from Alan C. Ashton, the grandson of a former president of the Mormon Church. The money allowed the drive to intensify a sharp-elbowed advertising campaign, and support for the measure was catapulted ahead; it ultimately won with 52 percent of the vote....

First approached by the Roman Catholic archbishop of San Francisco a few weeks after the California Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in May, the Mormons were the last major religious group to join the campaign, and the final spice in an unusual stew that included Catholics, evangelical Christians, conservative black and Latino pastors, and myriad smaller ethnic groups with strong religious ties.
Much further down in the article, we see that this call for funds came after Prop 8 opponents were raking in huge sums, including "$3.9 million at a star-studded fund-raiser held at the Beverly Hills home of Ron Burkle." The "Yes" side needed to keep up with that and had to worry about a barrage of advertisements featuring appealing celebrities, such as the lovely Ellen Degeneres ad that "No on 8" released on October 17.

It bothers me that these 2 parts of the article are so widely separated, because it makes the "Yes" side look like it was playing a fearsome offensive game, when it was on the defense.


The article also says that "[b]y mid-October, most independent polls showed support for the proposition was growing, but it was still trailing." Is that right? According to Pollster, Prop 8 was leading by double digits through September, but that support was slipping, so that by mid-October, it was only up by +8. If Pollster is right, "Yes" needed to fight to regain the ground that had been lost to "No." And despite this effort, "Yes" continued to slip, down to +5 in late October, and from there to the election result, a mere +4.

So what did this infusion of support from Mormons really do? It didn't turn everything around, did it? It seems as though it only worked to allow "Yes" to hold on to enough of its earlier support to win.


The article also has some interesting discussion of the door-to-door effort: "Mormons made up 80 percent to 90 percent of the early volunteers." The percentage sound high, but I'm curious about what "early" refers to. One could exaggerate by choosing the relevant point in time to count the percentage.
The canvass work could be exacting and highly detailed. Many Mormon wards in California, not unlike Roman Catholic parishes, were assigned two ZIP codes to cover. Volunteers in one ward, according to training documents written by a Protect Marriage volunteer, obtained by people opposed to Proposition 8 and shown to The New York Times, had tasks ranging from “walkers,” assigned to knock on doors; to “sellers,” who would work with undecided voters later on; and to “closers,” who would get people to the polls on Election Day.

Suggested talking points were equally precise. If initial contact indicated a prospective voter believed God created marriage, the church volunteers were instructed to emphasize that Proposition 8 would restore the definition of marriage God intended.

But if a voter indicated human beings created marriage, Script B would roll instead, emphasizing that Proposition 8 was about marriage, not about attacking gay people, and about restoring into law an earlier ban struck down by the State Supreme Court in May.

“It is not our goal in this campaign to attack the homosexual lifestyle or to convince gays and lesbians that their behavior is wrong — the less we refer to homosexuality, the better,” one of the ward training documents said. “We are pro-marriage, not anti-gay.”
I've never read this detailed a discussion of how canvassers try to persuade voters. Personally, I do not even answer my door during the election season, and back when I did, I would never get into a conversation with someone about how I would vote. I'd just try to get rid of them. But I suppose plenty of people actually stand there and discuss the issues, and I'm not surprised to hear that canvassers have alternate scripts depending on how the prospective voter answers an introductory question. It's not devious or worrisome -- in general -- to have a Script A and a Script B, is it?

Are we troubled then, to hear that the "Yes" canvassers had alternate scripts that depended on whether the prospective voter was open to arguments that the right answer was God's answer?


The NYT article is headlined "Mormons Tipped Scale in Ban on Gay Marriage." That's a hefty assertion, and it comes after attacks that have targeted Mormons.
[Michael R. Otterson, the managing director of public affairs for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints] said it was too early to tell what the long-term implications might be for the church, but in any case, he added, none of that factored into the decision by church leaders to order a march into battle. “They felt there was only one way we could stand on such a fundamental moral issue, and they took that stand,” he said. “It was a matter of standing up for what the church believes is right.”
Was that phrase "order a march into battle" really justified? Should journalists use the metaphor of religion as war and imply that religious people have set aside their powers of reason and judgment and simply take orders from leaders? Otterson spoke of religious people having moral values and taking political positions based on those values. Surely, that is acceptable. Of course, Otterson has plenty of motivation to downplay the vision of churches wielding the power to impose religious dogma upon the general populace.
Mr. Ashton described the protests by same-sex marriage advocates as off-putting. “I think that shows colors,” Mr. Ashton said. “By their fruit, ye shall know them.”
That's the last line of the article, and I can't tell if the NYT wanted us to laugh at Ashton. "By their fruit, ye shall know them" is a Biblical verse -- Matthew 7:16 -- but quick Google shows that there are gay rights t-shirts using the phrase, exploiting the double meaning of "fruit." Did the Times mean for us to view Ashton as a clueless scripture-spewer?

November 14, 2008

Inside the courtroom.

In the previous post, I told you I was going to take my fisheye lens to the Wisconsin Supreme Court today.

Wisconsin Supreme Court

You can read descriptions of what is in the courtroom murals here. My favorite one -- in the center of that picture (enlarge) -- shows:
...the trial of Chief Oshkosh of the Menominees for the slaying of a member of another tribe who had killed a Menominee in a hunting accident. It was shown that under Menominee custom, relatives of a slain member could kill his slayer. Judge James Duane Doty held that in this case territorial law did not apply:
. . . it appears to me that it would be tyrannical and unjust to declare him, by implication, a malicious offender against rules which the same laws presume he could not have previously known...

Judge Doty acquitted Chief Oshkosh of the charge. They became friends.

This is the same legal issue depicted in the 1965 movie "Dingaka," which had a profound effect on me when I saw it as a teenager.

Here's another picture, of the courtroom, from behind the bench:

Wisconsin Supreme Court

Moot Court Day: a vlog.

Here's the U.S. Supreme Court case I talk about: Ableman v. Booth.

UPDATE: In the vlog, I say, "I think it's from all over the country," but I think wrong. It's the intra-law-school contest. Photos of the courtroom soon. The problem involved the 5th and 6th amendment rights to counsel and had some complicated material about dual sovereignty. The criminal procedural part of constitutional law isn't something I teach -- except to the extent that it intersects with Federal Jurisdiction -- so it was tricky getting up to speed on the doctrine. I needed to read Texas v. Cobb, a case about a terrible double murder:
After a short time, respondent confessed to murdering both Margaret and Kori Rae. Respondent explained that when Margaret confronted him as he was attempting to remove the Owings’ stereo, he stabbed her in the stomach with a knife he was carrying. Respondent told police that he dragged her body to a wooded area a few hundred yards from the house. Respondent then stated:

“I went back to her house and I saw the baby laying on its bed. I took the baby out there and it was sleeping the whole time. I laid the baby down on the ground four or five feet away from its mother. I went back to my house and got a flat edge shovel. That’s all I could find. Then I went back over to where they were and I started digging a hole between them. After I got the hole dug, the baby was awake. It started going toward its mom and it fell in the hole. I put the lady in the hole and I covered them up. I remember stabbing a different knife I had in the ground where they were. I was crying right then.”
ADDED: I see that an episode of "Law and Order" was based on the Cobb case, with Ludacris playing the role of the murderer:
"Look, I'm guilty of murder here, so I'm not going to make any excuses," Ludacris starts. "I stabbed her with my knife, and then I killed her baby. ... I dug a hole and buried them, and there's where they've been for the last three years. Should I write it down now?"

His confession is so cold, so matter-of-fact, you might get chills...
Ah, but see? They toned down the facts. What really happened was too terrible to use in a fictionalized story. It's too maudlin.

If you want to know if Cobb was executed, the answer is no:
Following an order from the U.S. Supreme Court, Gov. Rick Perry [on June 22, 2005] issued 28 commutations that will require death row inmates who were 17 at the time they committed their crimes to serve life in prison...

"While these individuals were convicted by juries of brutal murders and sentenced to die for their heinous crimes, I have no choice but to commute these sentences to life in prison as a result of the Supreme Court ruling," Perry said.

The inmates with commuted sentences are: ... Raymond Levi Cobb...

At the Sun Glass Café....


... where we love shadows and light, transparency and obscurity, you can talk about what you want.

"His maleness resounds from every monomaniacal sentence," said Germaine Greer about Malcolm Gladwell (Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, etc.).

"There is no answer to everything, and only a deluded male would spend his life trying to find it." Oh, so she's dissing men when she asks why women don't write large!
Women, she said, are too sensible to try to write such broad-sweep theses. "They are more interested in understanding than explaining, in describing rather than accounting for."
In praise of detail work. Which Greer is not doing.

"The perfect smackdown": "Is Barack Obama white?"

IN THE COMMENTS: Bissage said:

I remember vividly the time I was carrying my books, walking to summer school, when some bullies threatened to beat me up.

I countered with the perfect smackdown: "Oh yeah? Is Gerald Ford a cocksucking little faggot?"

I spent that summer in a wheelchair.

"It was the olfactory equivalent of a Coen Brothers' film."

"It was a flop, perhaps (but not necessarily) because it was essentially unwearable, with hints of burning rubber, smoking tar, the pitch in fresh asphalt and charred guiac wood."

Chandler Burr writes perfume reviews. I admire that capacity. To perceive odors and to put it in writing. Impressive! The quote above is about M7. Here's what Burr says about Déclaration:
I smelled it again recently and was shocked by the degree to which it is, in fact, a hard-core French masculine. It’s a tiny bit X-rated (the sensual, unwashed-armpit thing; this is simply a serious dose of cumin, which smells like sweat) and elegant in the way that Frenchmen can be elegant: rather strong come-on, slightly overpowering, narcissistic, but alluring if you’re into that sort of thing.

Suddenly, I am!

"Good Morning America" pals around with Bill Ayers.

I'm "live-blogging" my view of the video.

-6:19: ABC has glossy graphics swirling Ayers's book "Fugitive Days" at us. The book is being "re-released." Oh! So this is a book tour.

-5:58: The interviewer, Chris Cuomo, insists "you did have a meaningful relationship with Barack Obama, didn't you?" Ayers does nothing but evade. He knew him like thousands of others, and "like millions of others worldwide, I wish I knew him better." That answer is pure bullshit.

-5:16: Cuomo attempts to follow up: "You used the term 'family friend'..." Cuomo is obviously working from notes, trying to act the part of a reporter capable of asking follow-up questions, and Ayers has to tell us where the phrase "family friend" came from, because it's not something Ayers just said, it's something he wrote in an afterword to his book. Ayers then launches into his prepped statement about how he didn't want to talk during the campaign, when people were using a "dishonest narrative," but he knew Obama on a "professional" level, like "thousands of other people." "Thousands of other people" is Ayers's favorite phrase.

-4:12. Yeah, he and Obama were on a board together, Ayers concedes quickly when pressed, then moves to the purely abstract level: This notion of "guilt by association" is wrong. And you know what the "interesting" thing is? Voters didn't buy the argument of guilt by association. Ugh! I don't care about your political analysis! Tell us the facts that you know. As for the shortcomings of guilt by association, we can do our own analysis. What you have that we don't is the information about the substance of the relationship, and you're being as slippery as possible. You think we don't notice, don't you? Ayers is relying on our dullness.

-3:11: Cuomo says that people do want to know about a candidate's relationships. This sets Ayers off justifying his actions during the Vietnam War era: Part of the "dishonest narrative" was to "demonize" him. "Let's remember, what you call a 'violent past' -- that was at a time when thousands of people were being murdered by our government ever month." Ha! I told you "thousands of people" is his favorite phrase. "And those of us who fought to end that war were actually on the right side. So if we want to replay that history, I would reject the whole notion that demonizing me or the Weather Underground is relevant."

-2:34: Cuomo cuts off Ayers -- who was about to plunge into a second point -- to try to deal with the question whether Ayers's violent past is relevant to what we think of Obama. Cuomo has a hypothetical: If McCain had launched his political career in the home of some anti-abortion activist who'd blown up clinics -- "but never hurt anyone" -- don't you think we'd find that relevant? Ayers's argument is that during the Vietnam War, the despicable acts were being carried out by our government. So then, the anti-abortion terrorism would be fine too if only we believe the abortion is murder? We can see that Ayers is simply unrepentant, and the hypothetical falls by the wayside.

-1:53: Ayers says he never hurt anyone (as if co-conspirators are not responsible for each other's acts) and repeats his oft-quoted self-justification: "I don't think we did enough." He adds: "Just as today, I don't think we've done enough to stop these wars. And I think we must all recognize the injustice of it and do more." So if Obama associates with Ayers now, he is associating with someone who thinks the United States has conducted and continues to conduct despicable unjust wars that must be stopped. If Obama had presented himself as having this kind of militant, anti-war attitude -- this fundamental belief that the American government is doing evil in this world -- he would never have been trusted to become Commander in Chief.

-1:19: Pressed again on the relationship, Ayers lectures us again at the abstract level: "guilt by association... has a long and tragic history in America." See how he makes that rhetorical move every time? He's asked about something specific about himself, and he switches the subject to something much larger -- and more abstract. He also loves to remind us about America's failings. Don't look there. Look here.

-1:05: Now, he's driveling on about how Obama is willing to listen to "a lot of people, from a lot of walks of life." Oh, I would guess Obama is willing to talk to thousands of people.

-0:44: Cuomo sees an opening. Oh, so then Obama sought you out. He wanted to hear from you. That means something. Ayers denies that Obama sought him out. "The truth is we came together in the civic community, around issues of school improvement, around issues of fighting for the rights of poor neighborhoods to have jobs and housing and so on. And that's the full extent of our relationship." That is Ayers's best point, really, and it's odd that he didn't say that in the beginning. If Ayers really cared primarily about helping Obama, he would have made this his central talking point.

-0:20: Ayers follows up that best point with a mini-rant, which ends the segment: "This idea that we need to know more -- like there's some dark, hidden secret link -- is just a myth, and it's a myth thrown up by people who wanted to kind of exploit the politics of fear, and I think it's a great credit to the American people that those politics were rejected. The idea that we should continue to be frightened and worried, you know, barricaded -- is falling down, and it should."

The idea that we need to know more is a myth? He's telling us we shouldn't need to know more, that we're paranoid or fear-mongers if we demand more information. Ridiculous! If we think there is more information, we get to ask. If there truth is there's nothing more to the story, fine. But to condemn us for wanting to know more is absurd.

We didn't find out enough about the man we elected President. We were made to feel that it was wrong to ask. I don't need to hear an avowed terrorist bitching about other people supposedly "exploit[ing] the politics of fear." A terrorist deals in fear, and I assume he'd like to control what inspires our fears. Fear the American government, he says, but don't fear Barack Obama.

Don't look there! Look here! I'll decide for myself what ought to be feared.

How disappointing the Cuomo did not talk to Ayers at all about his agenda for school reform, and whether Obama agrees with those ideas. We can all agree that Obama does not support terrorists and repudiates what Ayers did with the WU. What is of most concern to me is what Obama thinks of Ayers' present work, which is just horrific for all that it is nonviolent.

AND: There is a second part to the interview. Here. It looks like the "book tour" part of the interview that Cuomo alludes to in Part 1. Feel free to watch it. Maybe I will later, but for now, life goes on without William Ayers.

"99.9 percent of the callers who called in to that show just talked about me like I was a dog."

"What mattered is that there was somebody out there in that audience who was listening — who needed to hear it was OK. And that was the only person I was worried about."

IN THE COMMENTS: knox said:
I suspect Althouse is contrasting this gentleman's behavior with that of gays protesting Prop 8?

Whatever, it's a nice story. A brave--and generous--thing to do, engaging with a hostile audience like that. He deserves props. No pun intended.
Bissage said:

I don’t pretend to be very sophisticated about the merits or politics of same sex marriage and I don’t intend to ever do the work it takes to get sophisticated.

And I don’t feel very strongly about the issue, one way or the other.

That said, I’m sure that if I’m ever standing in a voting booth and I’m thinking of Mr. Brown, I’m going to vote in favor of same sex marriage.

If I’m thinking of some of the more virulent characters who advocate the cause of same sex marriage, some of whom comment here at Althouse, I’ll probably vote no.

I’m sure there are enough people like me out there to make the difference; people disinclined to reward hostility.

I’m sure that makes me an ignorant bigot to some people.

They're saying Obama might pick Hillary Clinton for Secretary of State.

Will that happen?
I think this is reasonably plausible. The Obama people didn’t want Hillary for vice-president because she would have been a little too close for comfort - and they also didn’t like the idea of Bill hanging around the White House. But with Hillary safely across town in Foggy Bottom (or even better, in perpetual motion, flying around the world), Obama would be able to put the people he really trusts into the National Security Council, and run foreign policy from there.

The obvious candidate for Secretary of State used to be Joe Biden. But with Biden otherwise engaged, all the remaining leading candidates have some drawbacks. Richard Holbrooke is tough and experienced, but seems to be distrusted by the Obama team who think he is “not a team player” - and who have never quite forgiven him for backing Hillary. John Kerry and Bill Richardson both pass the experience and the “loyalty to Obama” test - but are regarded as, respectively, a little bit lightweight and a little bit flaky.
Ha ha. I detest Holbrooke, and I hate the idea of John Kerry representing us abroad. Richardson, why not? What's "flaky" about Richardson? Anyway, do we want Hillary running all over the world, being the mouthpiece of her erstwhile rival?

Hillary as Secretary of State?
Great choice.
Better than the alternatives.
Eh. It has to be somebody and those alternatives are dreadful.
No, because she won't serve Obama well.
No, because she's no good. free polls

IN THE COMMENTS (at the poll site): FGFM says: "I would like to vote for Althouse being lightweight and flaky." Okay:

Althouse is lightweight and flaky.
Mmmm. Pie! free polls

Why Barney bit the reporter.

As you probably know, the President's dog Barney bit a reporter (a dog-ignorant Reuters reporter named Jon Decker). Barney's point of view:

November 13, 2008

"The first glance was not of course positive, it cannot be because you see a lot of not so good things."

"But then, after that, when we start seeing interest in our country, it was of course reflected better, it was positive. People, after looking at this film, they will like to come and see: ‘is it real, is it the same or not?’ It helps to learn more about our country... The statistics show that inbound tourism grew by 13 percent. At the moment, no problem."

Kazakhstan not so mad at Borat now.

"The financial straits that the Big Three find themselves in is not the product of our current economic downturn..."

"... but instead is the legacy of the uncompetitive structure of its manufacturing and labor force. The financial situation facing the Big Three is not a national problem but their problem."

Harsh words from Senator Richard C. Shelby of Alabama
, "the senior Republican on the banking committee, [who] said he would not support legislation to aid the auto companies and seemed prepared to let one or all of them collapse."
Representative Jeb Hensarling of Texas, chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee [said]... “They are producing high-cost products that consumers don’t want to buy. And so now we have Washington on the verge of giving them a bailout simply because we have all heard of them and they have high-priced lobbyists."
Fortunately, it looks as though there will be no auto company bailout. At least not until Obama and the new Congress take over.

Renegade, Renaissance, Rosebud, Radiance.

Those are the Secret Service code names for the Obama family.


I really don't think it's appropriate for the Secret Service to call one of Obama's daughters Marion Davies' clitoris.

I wonder if this means Michelle calls Barack's member "Renegade" and Barack call Michelle's lady parts "Renaissance"?

Those were my thoughts too, exactly. I mean, really, is the Secret Service illiterate in pop culture or is it relying on our pop culture illiteracy?

"Here is Barack Obama in his own words on the definition of marriage," said the robo-call to Californians.

They heard Obama say: "I believe marriage is a union between a man and a woman. Now, for me as a Christian, it is also a sacred union. God is in the mix."

So Obama was instrumental in getting Prop 8 passed. What do you think of that? Some Obama supporters say it wasn't fair to use Obama like that. After all, Obama also said Prop 8 was "divisive and discriminatory." But that's absurd. Obama had to know that his words would be used by opponents of same-sex marriage. He himself is an opponent of same-sex marriage... except to the extent that he isn't, and I certainly think in his heart he's not, but that in his head he knew he had to say he was to get elected.

I don't blame him for this dishonesty. I think it's like the dishonesty of professing a belief in God if you don't have it. You're not going to get elected without that dishonesty, so we can just forget about all the good people who don't lie about such things. They're not going to make it to the presidency. Not in the near future anyway. But you can't have it both ways. You're responsible for the position you avow, and the Prop 8 proponents did nothing wrong using his voice like that.

Another thing we have to face up to is that black Californians voted overwhelmingly for Prop 8. Some gay rights advocates think that black people should identify with gay people:
Many black voters didn't see it that way.

"I was born black. I can't change that," said Culver City resident Bilson Davis, 57, who voted for Proposition 8. "They weren't born gay; they chose it," he added, reflecting a commonly held belief that many researchers dispute.

Although many of the state's black political leaders spoke out against Proposition 8, an exit poll of California voters showed that black voters favored the measure by a ratio of more than 2 to 1. Not only was the black vote weighted heavily in favor of Proposition 8, but black turnout -- spurred by Barack Obama's historic campaign for president -- was unusually large, with African Americans making up roughly 10% of the state electorate.

The exit poll didn't ask voters why they voted the way they did. But Madison Shockley, pastor of Pilgrim United Church of Christ in Carlsbad and among the roughly one-third of blacks who opposed Proposition 8, said the vote was understandable. "Black folks go to church, probably more than the Caucasian population, and the churches they go to tend to be very traditional."

Los Angeles resident Christopher Hill, 50, said he was motivated by religion in supporting Proposition 8. Civil rights, he said, "are about getting a job, employment."

Gay marriage, he said, is not: "It's an abomination against God."...

[Pasadena resident Doris Tucker] Tucker, who is African American, said she voted for "all the good things," especially Obama and Proposition 8. "I don't think it's right," Tucker said of gay marriage. "They shouldn't let it go on."
It's harsh to have to read that. But there it is.

IN THE COMMENTS: Chip Ahoy said:
Marriage is a state of mind.

Couples look to the Church to sanctify their union and the Church is more than happy to presumably drag God into the arrangement. But that is patently false. A thing that God unites cannot be undone by humans.

The State's interest is purely as arbiter and protector of legal contracts.

I'm tired of having this discussion. Therefore, I'll stop. Do whatever you wish. I don't care.
I responded:
"I'm tired of having this discussion."

Well, let's try to focus on the issues raised in the post:

1. The use of Obama's voice: fair or unfair?

2. Things a politician must lie about, and the responsibility they must take for these lies.

3. Obama's dishonesty.

4. The overwhelming black support for Prop 8.

5. The unpersuasiveness of the argument that black people should identify with gay people.

6. (Implicit) Why are gay rights activists targeting Mormons when so much of the quarrel is with black people? Selective choice of targets as political cowardice.
Zachary Paul Sire said:
I love when Prof. Althouse gets all professorial on our ass.
Chip came back into the classroom:
OK. Very well.

1) The use of Obama's voice. Fair. He used his voice, and only his voice, to get what he wanted politically. Fair game to use those words and that voice to support one's point. Go on then, use them yourself. Use his YouTubes to make whatever point you want. He's the one who put them out there, precisely to be used. Yesterday we were treated to a video making a point around words the sitting president didn't say.

2) There is no class of things that politicians must lie about. The very idea is cynical and ridiculous. There's a lot of things Obama felt at the moment, depending on whom he was speaking to, that it was a good idea or advantageous to lie but there was never a true "must" about it. These things too are well documented and fully discussed. Some people dismiss them, others don't. I don't. That's why he's not my president. He's your president, he's the country's president. He's the world's choice for our president, and I'm alright with all of that, but he's not my president. Precisely because he's a fabulous dissimulator. <--- See what I did there? Used fabulous for an adjective,which itself implies extravagant tales.

3. Dishonesty. That's why I couldn't vote for the man. I'm bothered by that. And it goes beyond what the man says. It's what he fails to say. It's how he spins the facts. It's the whole ACORN thing, and the straight-up illegal contributions, the credit card verification disabling, it's Florida and Michigan in the primaries cutting Hillary off at the knees, it's agreeing to campaign financing then switching when he realized he could do much better leaving his opponent bound to the agreement. One candidate has class, the other one doesn't. But again, all this is well documented and thoroughly discussed. We've got a myth to get on with, there'll be no looking backward.

5. Black people should identify with gay people. If they're gay. If they're not gay why should they? The black struggle has nothing whatever to do with the so-called or imagined gay struggle for civil liberties. To compare the experiences is an insult.

6.... And why aren't they targeting Muslims then? Were there no Muslim contributors on those contributor lists? They chose soft targets. Plus they already have a bone to pick with Christians especially Mormons who are well know for their re-programing. With Mormons, they're escalating a dispute they already have.

Do I get an A? Please, please, please, gimme an A.

I better get an A, because if I don't, I'm sooooo dropping this course.
You get an A!

"People like their independence and freedom here. It’s sort of the redneck ethic."

"A lot of people haul their own water and live off generators and candles out here. Back to the land."

"Here" is in St. Johns, Arizona, and the speaker is Wendy Guffey, a substance abuse counselor, quoted in a NYT story about the 8 year-old-boy who stands accused of the pre-meditated murder of his father and another man. Does the "redneck ethic" relate to the boy's story?


There are also some quotes about the the boy as an individual: His mother is quoted saying that the boy sounded "distant" over the phone and speculating that he was abused. Sister Angelina Chavez, who taught his religion class, says he "took his religious faith very seriously" and “I just don’t know what happened to him spiritually, emotionally." A friend is quoted saying, "He’s a nice kid. He’s normal."

"I had a baby, I did some traveling, I very briefly expanded my wardrobe, I made a few speeches..."

"... I met a few VIPS, including those who really impact society, like Tina Fey."

Sarah Palin describes her recent past, at the Republican Governors meeting, today.

Martin Eisenstadt, senior fellow at the Harding Institute for Freedom and Democracy, the hoax MSM swallowed whole.

Here's the NYT report. Eitan Gorlin and Dan Mirvish -- we're told they are real -- have a TV show with a fictional character named Martin Eisenstadt and they set up a blog "written" by him to promote the show. Why did MSNBC, TNR, and the L.A. Times treat him as a real person, an insider to the McCain campaign, and quote his Sarah Palin insults?
“With the 24-hour news cycle they rush into anything they can find,” said Mr. Mirvish, 40.

Mr. Gorlin, 39, argued that Eisenstadt was no more of a joke than half the bloggers or political commentators on the Internet or television.

An MSNBC spokesman, Jeremy Gaines, explained the network’s misstep by saying someone in the newsroom received the Palin item in an e-mail message from a colleague and assumed it had been checked out. “It had not been vetted,” he said. “It should not have made air.”
Oh, it arrived in the email....

How embarrassingly lame.

The NYT makes a point of saying that "most of Eisenstadt’s victims have been bloggers." How meaningless is that? There are millions of bloggers, at all levels of competence and seriousness. You can't compare bloggers to MSM in numerical terms! The shame here is on MSM. And let me add that I never fell for the Eisenstadt story. I rejected the Africa-is-a-country insult as implausible on its face.

So who is the "right-of-center" bloggers' least favorite person of the right?

The survey says: John McCain.

ADDED: Link fixed. I'd accidentally put up the link for last year's survey -- here -- where McCain came in third and Ron Paul took first place.

Religious monuments, government speech, Justice Breyer's "freak out" test, and Justice Stevens's Vietnam memorial hypothetical.

Dahlia Lithwick covers the oral argument in Pleasant Grove City v. Summum, the case about whether a city that has put up a donated 10 Commandments monument in a public park is stuck having to put up some other donated monument. (Here's the PDF of the transcript.) It shouldn't matter that the other monument represents a weird religion, should it? "Weird" is Lithwick's word:
With its pyramids, and mummification, and nectars, and hairless blue aliens, Summum is an existential stew of transcendental Gnosticism and particle physics: Isaac Luria meets Star Trek Voyager.
Lithwick quickly quips that it's always the other person's religion that seems weird, while your own religion seems "rational." But the reason the 10 Commandments seem more acceptable than the Summum "Seven Aphorisms" is not so much that we are not members of Summum -- maybe a few of you are -- it's that the 10 Commandments are a component of a long tradition that is elaborately integrated into the history of the United States.

That is the reason -- or part of the reason -- why the Supreme Court found -- in Van Orden v. Perry -- that it didn't violate the Establishment Clause for the state of Texas to have a 10 Commandments monument on its state capitol grounds. By the way, the 10 Commandments monument in Pleasant Grove is basically identical to the monument in Van Orden. The context is a little different though, in that the Van Orden monument has been where it was for more than 40 years, and the Pleasant Grove 10 Commandments only dates back to 1971. Also, the city of Pleasant Grove was founded by Mormons, and the 10 Commandments monument isn't the Mormon version of the 10 Commandments, so it doesn't reflect the history of the city in quite the same way.

Back to Lithwick:
In 2003, Summum's founder, Summum "Corky" Ra, requested permission to donate a monument to the park celebrating the Seven Aphorisms upon which their beliefs are based. (The Seven Aphorisms are, in brief: the principles of psychokinesis, correspondence, vibration, opposition, rhythm, cause and effect, and gender.) Summum holds that these aphorisms were revealed to Moses at Mount Sinai, but he demurred because his people were not yet ready for them. The Decalogue was the rewrite.
Not surprisingly, the city doesn't want this monument in its park. But if they accepted the 10 Commandments monument from the donor (the Fraternal Order of Eagles), does it violate freedom of speech to reject the message Summum wants to express? Is it unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination to favor the Judeo-Christian speech -- in monument form -- over the similarly stone-carved Summum speech?
Summum isn't before the court as a religion case. It was brought as a free speech case, and, as Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice learns about three minutes into oral argument this morning, if he wins this case as a result of the court's free speech jurisprudence, he will be back in five years to lose it under the court's religion doctrine. The more zealously the city claims ownership of its Ten Commandments monument, the more it looks to be promoting religion in violation of the Constitution's Establishment Clause.

Chief Justice John Roberts puts it to him this way: "You're really just picking your poison. The more you say that the monument is 'government speech' to get out of the Free Speech Clause, the more you're walking into a trap under the Establishment Clause. … What is the government doing supporting the Ten Commandments?"

Sekulow replies that the display is 100 percent Establishment Clause kosher in light of [Van Orden and its companion case McCreary]. Justice Stephen Breyer was the deciding vote in each of those cases, which—read together—stand for the current Third Aphorism of Religion Cases: Government establishment of religion is only impermissible when it freaks out Justice Stephen Breyer.
Is that really the law, you may ask, or is that some kind of joke? Here's the post I wrote about the cases at the time. Breyer's opinion was the deciding vote, and he eschewed any clear rule, opting instead for what he called called "legal judgment," "tak[ing] account of context and consequences measured in light of" the purposes of the religion clauses -- promoting tolerance and freedom.

Lithwick's line -- "Government establishment of religion is only impermissible when it freaks out Justice Stephen Breyer" -- is a joke with some truth to it -- and also some serious inaccuracy. It assumes a conclusion that is in issue: that the monument is a "government establishment of religion." And Breyer seems like too cool a character to be "freaked out" by anything. Plus, he votes against government religious expression much more than we'd see on anything like a "freak out" standard. (See McCreary.) It would make more sense to say Breyer permits government religious speech when the idea of courts stopping it freaks him out.

Lithwick notes that Breyer signaled his dissatisfaction with the doctrinal rules -- the "artificial kinds of conceptual framework." Breyer sent very similar signals at oral argument in Van Orden, which I noted at the time.

But it looks as though there is room for a clear rule here:
Justice Samuel Alito observes that there is a difference between free speech, in the classic sense of protests, leafleting, and speech-making, and hauling around massive granite monuments, then demanding public-forum analysis be applied to "the Washington Monument or the Jefferson Memorial." Joseffer says that when the government is "acting as curator," it can engage in viewpoint discrimination. In other words, it can choose the speech. "You can't run a museum if you have to accept everything, right?" says Scalia.
When government takes on the role of curator, it is no longer a question of the free speech of the original speaker. The government that chooses or rejects objects for presentation in one of its own displays is exercising its own speech, and it doesn't violate anyone else's free speech rights. It might violate the Establishment Clause, but that is another question.
Pamela Harris has 30 minutes to represent Summum, and Roberts hits her with the hypos: "You have a Statue of Liberty; do we have to have a statue of despotism? Do we have to put any president who wants to be on Mount Rushmore?"....

Even the most doctrine-loving justices seem to be bothered by the practical problem of city parks becoming cluttered with hate monuments, weird stuff, and, eventually, rusted-out cars.
I think it's pretty obvious that the city will win as the Justices (like Scalia) who support free speech for the government will have the support of the Justices (like Breyer) who look at real-world consequences and think practical thoughts.

But there still should be some hand-wringing over the one hypothetical that really did freak out everyone -- well, not Scalia, but almost everyone: What if the United States had decided to express itself by excluding the names of gay soldiers from the Vietnam memorial? Justice Stevens posed the hypothetical, and the Justices struggle with it. From the transcript:
JUSTICE BREYER: That seems to be the problem here. And what I have in this is the -- the problem I have is that we seem to be applying these subcategories in a very absolute way. Why can't we call this what it is -- it's a mixture of private speech with Government decisionmaking -- and ask the question, as we do in election cases, is the restriction proportionate to a legitimate objective? I know how you're going to answer that question. You're going to say: Of course, it is. But what's interesting me is, are we bound in these cases to apply what I think of as an artificial kind of conceptual framework or are we free to ask what seems to me to be at the heart of the matter? The answer to Justice Stevens's hypothetically is: Of course the Government can't do that because it's disproportionate.

JUSTICE STEVENS: I didn't get the answer. Did you --

MR. JOSEFFER [representing the United States, as amicus curiae]: Yes, the Government can choose to memorialize who it wants on the mall. When the Government is -- now, to be clear, that's under the Free Speech Clause.

JUSTICE BREYER: So what is the answer to the -- what is the answer to Justice Stevens's hypothetical? What is the answer to the homosexual hypothetical? What is the answer?
Breyer seems to be verging on freak-out mode there.
MR. JOSEFFER: The only question --

JUSTICE BREYER: Because that tests the theory.

MR. JOSEFFER: Well, as a matter of the Free Speech Clause, there are no limits on the Government's ability to speak freely. Under the Equal Protection Clause, the Establishment Clause, perhaps the Due Process Clause, there might be thought to be independent checks on the Government's speech. But the Free Speech Clause, whatever else it does, does not prevent the Government from speaking freely.

JUSTICE SCALIA: It seems to me the Government could disfavor homosexuality just as it could disfavor abortion, just as it can disfavor a number of other things that in -- in many States people are free to do. The Government can disfavor all of it, can't it?

MR. JOSEFFER: The Government would be powerless to do anything if it cannot first formulate and then express its own viewpoints....

JUSTICE KENNEDY: Does the law always require us to adopt an all-or-nothing position? Aren't there some extreme cases indicated by the hypothetical where the First Amendment does enter in? Do we have to decide this case that it's all or nothing?
So will the city win with a clearly stated rule, will the city win with a "legal judgment" based on the whole context, or will the city win based on a clearly stated rule that has an escape clause comprising Justice Stevens's Vietnam memorial hypothetical?

ADDED: Lawprof Chris Lund reads the transcript:
... Summum argues that the display was the Eagles' message in 1971, and it's the Eagles' message now. But that claim is really hard to square with the fact that the display has been owned and controlled by the government and has been sitting in a government park for 36 years. The Eagles haven't really been involved since 1971 -- so how is this their speech? So Summum's counsel says that the crucial thing is this -- it can't be the government's speech until the City officially adopts it by some sort of resolution....
JUSTICE SOUTER: So this case -- your claim would disappear if this town in Utah had passed an ordinance saying we adopt the Ten Commandments Monument?

MS. HARRIS: It would, Justice Souter. We would no longer have an equal access right going forward --

JUSTICE SOUTER: But that's -- I mean, if that's all that's involved here, we're engaging in kind of a -- almost a silly exercise in formality.
Now Summum's counsel tries to say it's not a mere formality. She suggests that much of the Mormon population might object to the display because it's not the Mormon version of the Ten Commandments.... But besides being arguably a formality, it's difficult to see where the "official resolution" requirement would be coming from in terms of precedent or principle....
Lund thinks Summum may lose 9-0.

You can't be the artistic director of a musical theater company and oppose gay marriage.

Even if your religion tells you so. That's what Scott Eckern found out.
His donation [of $1,000 to support Prop 8] was brought to light by online activists angry about the measure’s success at the polls....

[T]he swift resignation was not met with cheers by those on either side.

Marc Shaiman, the Tony Award-winning composer (“Hairspray”), called Mr. Eckern last week and said that he would not let his work be performed in the theater. “I was uncomfortable with money made off my work being used to put discrimination in the Constitution,” Mr. Shaiman said. He added, however, that the entire episode left him “deeply troubled” because of the potential for backlash against gays who protested Mr. Eckern’s donation.

“It will not help our cause because we will be branded exactly as what we were trying to fight,” said Mr. Shaiman, who is gay. “But I do believe there comes a time when you cannot sit back and accept what I think is the most dangerous form of bigotry.”...

The sense of disappointment over the vote extended to Broadway. Jeffrey Seller, a producer of the show “Avenue Q,” which is scheduled to be part of the 2008-9 season at the California Musical Theater, said he had been shocked when he heard about Mr. Eckern’s donation.

“That a man who makes his living exclusively through the musical theater could do something so hurtful to the community that forms his livelihood is a punch in the stomach,” [said Jeffrey Seller, a producer of the show "Avenue Q."]
So theater -- musical theater, anyway -- will be reserved for people who think the right thoughts or keep their mouths shut about what they think. Great idea! Make theater more narrow and exclusionary. Not many people want to go to the theater already. Why not turn more people off? You never wanted to speak to those religious folk anyway, did you? Theater is a place where like-minded people congregate and remind each other of the good thoughts they think together.

Rachel Maddow: "I think of myself as a blogger -- on TV."

(Via Think Progress.)

November 12, 2008

There is no hypoallergenic dog.

Somebody tell Barack Obama. If your daughters really are allergic to dogs, they're allergic to the dander, the skin cells, which the dog has whether he sheds or not...

... whether he has hair or not.

The era ended long ago, but...

... the end of an era.

"A 'fashion genius' ... does ghastly drawings of Paula Abdul and turns out to be named Paula: Paula Goodspeed."

I wrote that back in February 2006. Noting that she had "teeth so huge a massive set of braces cannot begin to tame them," I said, "She sings terribly, but it's not enough just to tell her that. Simon has to say: 'I don't think any artist on earth could sing with that much metal in your mouth anyway. You have so much metal in your mouth.'"

I'm rereading that after observing that I had some significant traffic today to that post on a search for the name Paula Goodspeed. I plug the name into a news search and see this in the L.A. Times:
Tonight on "Inside Edition," you can visit the scene outside Paula Abdul’s home in Sherman Oaks, Calif., where a young fan may have committed suicide.

Paula Goodspeed was a self-described fan of the “American Idol” judge. There is no known reason why she would have committed suicide outside Abdul’s home, other than to be close at the end of her life to her apparent idol. Or to have her name forever linked with Abdul's.

Goodspeed’s body was found inside her car, which was decorated with a photo of Abdul hanging from the rear-view mirror. Her personalized license plate reads “ABL LV,” which has been said to stand for Abdul Love.

"Ms. Goodspeed's mother had gone to [the sheriff's department] to report her daughter missing and advised them that she might be suicidal," Los Angeles Police Capt. James Miller tells People. Officials "determined that Ms. Goodspeed may be up in the vicinity by Paula Abdul's house. Our officers discovered her vehicle parked on the street and found her inside. She was unresponsive to officers."

Authorities say her death may have been due to drug overdose, but tests still have to be performed.

Turns out Goodspeed auditioned for “American Idol” in 2005 and admitted a lifelong fascination with Abdul.

“I really like Paula Abdul a lot. She’s really cool. ... I’m like a really big fan and I make life-size drawings of Paula. I’ve been drawing ever since I was a little kid, and my first drawing was of Paula Abdul.”
Here's the old video:

It was fun back then to laugh at those drawings (and the delusional singing), but it's sobering now. I have to think that "American Idol" screens out numerous would-be contestants who are even more obviously disturbed. Perhaps some of them get the help they need. But Paula Goodspeed made the cut and entertained us for a few minutes back then. And now, we see how serious the ridiculous really was.

"I'm looking around, and I realize, this guy having a tuque on has really great boots on, these sort of cowboy, motorcycle boots..."

"And he was wearing really nice leather pants. And I realize I'm staring face-to-face with Bob Dylan," says John Kiernan, the owner of the house that Neil Young grew up in. Dylan was in town -- Winnipeg -- for a concert. Imagine looking out your window, and there is Bob Dylan. You could tell by the high quality of the leather that it's not just anybody. Kiernan brought the superhuman musician inside for a house tour.
"OK, so this was his view, and this was where he listened to his music,"recalls Tiernan. "It suddenly dawned on me, when you're looking at Bob Dylan standing in a hallway, that he had a very parallel experience 200 miles to the south, sitting in his room, listening to his music, looking out his window."

Dylan grew up Hibbing, MN, about 500 km from Winnipeg, so he saw it as a parallel experience.
Oh, the great superhuman musicians of the north!
When I was a young boy,
My mama said to me
Your daddy's leavin' home today,
I think he's gone to stay.
We packed up all our bags
And drove out to Winnipeg.
When we got to Winnipeg
I checked in to school.
I wore white bucks on my feet,
When I learned the golden rule.
The punches came fast and hard
Lying on my back
in the school yard.

Don't be denied, don't be denied.
Don't be denied, don't be denied.
Don't be denied, don't be denied.

Speaking of metaphors...


"Hill staffers feel pain of unyielding floor."

After all that tedious perseverating in the comments to the post about Sarah Palin and the figurative glass ceiling, I hope you'll be relieved to know that the article with that headline is literally about the floor.

"But do we want Google establishing such a cozy relationship with the federal government?"

Orin Kerr doesn't.

But the government is attempting to perceive the pattern of flu outbreaks.

Do you know how many people could die in a new flu pandemic? Maybe 7 million. Maybe 100 million. If Google can see it before it happens, don't you want that information to be used?

"I was like, 'Dude, no -- please, no!' I have all my case notes…that's four months of work!"

Do not try to steal a law student's laptop.
"I basically grabbed him and threw him this way, and he held onto the bat so it threw him to the ground,"[said Arizona State University student Alex Botsios]....

Janet Botsios, Botsios' mother, said she took the first flight from Texas as soon as she heard what happened.

"I'm like putting my face in my hands, and I just couldn't believe it," she said. "I was like, 'Oh my God.' I'm so glad he watched all those police shows his whole life … He knew how to take care of himself … I'm very, very, very proud of him."
So that's what it takes to defend yourself: motivation and knowledge.

That is: law school and television.

"Guantanamo Closure Called Obama Priority."

So reads the WaPo headline. Here's the text:
The Obama administration will launch a review of the classified files of the approximately 250 detainees at Guantanamo Bay immediately after taking office, as part of an intensive effort to close the U.S. prison in Cuba, according to people who advised the campaign on detainee issues.
So they'll launch a review...
Announcing the closure of the controversial detention facility would be among the most potent signals the incoming administration could send of its sharp break with the Bush era, according to the advisers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak for the president-elect. They believe the move would create a global wave of diplomatic and popular goodwill that could accelerate the transfer of some detainees to other countries.
It could happen that other countries will open their doors to these people if only we close Guantanamo. It could happen. They love our goodwill gestures, right? (I say, sarcastically.)
But the advisers, as well as outside national security and legal experts, said the new administration will face a thicket of legal, diplomatic, political and logistical challenges to closing the prison and prosecuting the most serious offenders in the United States -- an effort that could take many months or longer....

Moreover, the new administration will face hard decisions regarding not just the current Guantanamo Bay detainees but also how it will handle future captures of terrorism suspects.
Yes, what about all the problems, all the reasons why we have Guantanamo and executive detention?

Don't you wonder what Obama will say after all of that intensive effort at thinking all this through?

I'm going to bet that Obama will keep Guantanamo open. Don't worry, he'll break it to us comfortably, with the most cushiony possible rhetoric. And all you Bush haters will be just fine with it.

MORE: Here.

Sarah Palin on Hillary Clinton: "She helped shatter glass ceilings left and right."


Hey, Sarah! The ceiling is the thing there on top. Left and right... we call those things there walls.

ADDED: The link was wrong. AND: Here's the transcript:
VAN SUSTEREN: Have you ever talked to Senator Clinton?

PALIN: Have not, but I'm going to call her tomorrow.



VAN SUSTEREN: What are you going to tell her?

PALIN: Yes. I'm going to tell her, More power to you. You — I've got a lot of respect for what she has accomplished. And she — you know, I feel like she certainly — having gone before me, she helped shatter glass ceilings left and right. And yes, that one is still there above Hillary, above me, above every woman.

But she certainly cracked it a lot. And I have respect for what she was able to accomplish. Still disagree on a lot of the policies that she would adopt if she were to have been elected, but just understanding what she went through also, and that life-work balance that no doubt she's had to strike all these years. I have a lot of respect for that.
Video here. Go to 4:04.

Why Jindal is smarter than Palin?

He hesitated where she jumped.

Whales and dolphins suffer a bitter defeat in the Supreme Court

Chief Justice Roberts writes for the majority in Winter v. Natural Resources Defense Council. He begins with a quote from George Washington: "To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace." And the Navy wins.
The plaintiffs are the Natural Resources Defense Council, Jean-Michael Cousteau (an environmental enthusiast and filmmaker), and several other groups devoted to the protection of marine mammals and ocean habitats. They contend that MFA sonar can cause much more serious injuries to marine mammals than the Navy acknowledges, including permanent hearing loss, decompression sickness, and major behavioral disruptions. According to the plaintiffs, several mass strandings of marine mammals (outside of SOCAL) have been “associated” with the use of active sonar. They argue that certain species of marine mammals—such as beaked whales—are uniquely susceptible to injury from active sonar; these injuries would not necessarily be detected by the Navy, given that beaked whales are “very deep divers” that spend little time at the surface.
An enthusiast, eh?
[E]ven if plaintiffs have shown irreparable injury from the Navy’s training exercises, any such injury is outweighed by the public interest and the Navy’s interest in effective, realistic training of its sailors. A proper consideration of these factors alone requires denial of the requested injunctive relief....

For the plaintiffs, the most serious possible injury would be harm to an unknown number of the marine mammals that they study and observe. In contrast, forcing the Navy to deploy an inadequately trained antisubmarine force jeopardizes the safety of the fleet. Active sonar is the only reliable technology for detecting and tracking enemy diesel-electric submarines, and the President—the Commander in Chief—has determined that training with active sonar is “essential to national security.”

Justice Ginsburg dissents, joined by Justice Souter:
Flexibility is a hallmark of equity jurisdiction.... [C]ourts do not insist that litigants uniformly show a particular, predetermined quantum of probable success or injury before awarding equitable relief....

The Navy’s own EA predicted substantial and irreparable harm to marine mammals. Sonar is linked to mass strandings of marine mammals, hemorrhaging around the brain and ears, acute spongiotic changes in the central nervous system, and lesions in vital organs....

In my view, this likely harm—170,000 behavioral disturbances, including 8,000 instances of temporary hearing loss; and 564 Level A harms, including 436 injuries to a beaked whale population numbering only 1,121—cannot be lightly dismissed, even in the face of an alleged risk to the effectiveness of the Navy’s 14 training exercises.
(There's also an opinion by Justice Breyer, joined by Justice Stevens, taking a middle position.)

Obama's not megalomaniacal. He's Whitmanesque.

Blogs Anne Trubek.
He strode on the stage alone, addressed us alone, and left alone. The families joined him, but after they left he lingered, waving, alone. I am a singular figure, he was saying, but I am also all of you.

Singular and many. “I am large, I contain multitudes,” Walt Whitman wrote....

Like Whitman, Obama is wholly himself and the embodiment of us. Both meld individual self with national identity....
Meld individual self with national identity... Hmm. It's one thing for a poet to do that, but for a political leader? I will refrain from naming the leaders that spring to mind. The embodiment of us.... But what if I don't want to be embodied?
At Grant Park, Obama was evidence that, as Whitman wrote in the preface to his epic “Leaves of Grass,” “The proof of a poet is that his country absorbs him as affectionately as he has absorbed it.” Obama absorbs Whitman, we absorb Obama, and “the United States themselves are essentially the greatest poem.”
So are we absorbing him, or is he absorbing us? I'm not sure how this Oneness is supposed to proceed.

"What's the Matter With Greenwich?"

Why did the rich vote against their own economic interests? Slate's Daniel Gross wonders:
I've theorized that people who work in financial services and related fields have become so outraged and alienated by the incompetence, crass social conservatism, and repeated insults to the nation's intelligence of the Bush-era Republican Party that they're voting with their hearts and heads instead of their wallets.

... As the campaign entered its final weeks, Barack Obama, who pledged to unite the country, singled out one group of people for ridicule: those making more than $250,000.... And yet the exit polls show, the rich—and yes, if you make $250,000 or more you're rich—went for Obama by bigger margins than did the merely well-off. If the exit polls are to be believed, those making $200,000 or more (6 percent of the electorate) voted for Obama 52-46, while McCain won the merely well-off ($100,000 to $150,000 by a 51-48 margin and $150,000 to $200,000 by a 50-48 margin)....
Obviously, "What's the Matter With Greenwich?" parallels "What's the Matter With Kansas?," which questions why people in lower-income groups vote conservative.

It seems to me that there are plenty of people who don't think that voting is about pursuing dollars for yourself. I know I don't. I think about what is best the country as a whole (and about the world). Am I a chump, to be puzzled over by newspaper columnists? Shouldn't we public-spirited voters be praised for taking our role seriously and understanding it correctly? Instead we're treated as if we are deluded.

Ugh! I have to do a second Leno post in a row!

McCain on Leno. Highlights:


1. The band plays "Everyday People." Why?
There is a blue one who can't accept the green one
For living with a fat one trying to be a skinny one
And different strokes for different folks
And so on and so on and scooby dooby doo-bee
Oh sha sha - we got to live together
An ode to racial progress, so, I think the "Tonight Show" band is saying: It's so great that you lost! Scooby dooby doo-bee that you lost! Or is it just that we all need to get along, to make nice now that the election is over? We got to live together.... and it will be so much easier because you lost!

2. McCain makes that old, old slept like a baby joke.

3. McCain is looking lively and jovial. What else can he do? He must play the good sport, and his interest now is to preserve and build his reputation for history.

4. And he ought also to help Sarah Palin. What did he say about her? (It didn't make the highlight reel above.)
"She inspired people. She still does. And look, I'm — I couldn't be happier with Sarah Palin. And she's going back to be a great governor, and I think she will play a big role in the future of this country"....

McCain said Tuesday night that his party "has a lot of work to do," and he predicted that new leaders like Palin would help carry the party into the future.

"I really believe that Sarah Palin is amongst some, like Tim Pawlenty and Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, there's a group of young Republican governors and — mainly governors, but also some in the Senate — that I think are the next generation of leadership of our party," he said.
I'd say that's too bland, lukewarm, and Pawlenty-Jindal diluted. He owes her more.

Does anyone want to Jay Leno do sexual comedy with food props and Martha Stewart?

Here it is anyway:

"Nearly every 'fix' has gone for Mr. Franken, in some cases under strange circumstances."

Do you think the Democratic Party is stealing the Minnesota senatorial election for Al Franken? Whether it is or not, if he winds up winning now, it's going to look like he did.

Here's a hypothetical, which we'll call Hypothetical A:

1. The Party knows the votes are not there and intends to steal an election during the recount.

2. As the recount progresses, the public strongly suspects the election is being stolen.

3. The Party realizes that if the candidate wins, the public will think the election was stolen.

Question: Should the Party abandon the plan to steal the election?

My first thought was: Yes, because it will hurt the Party's reputation and leave the "elected" official under a cloud. But then I thought:

Consider Hypothetical B: There is no plan to steal the election, there is a recount, and the truth is there are enough votes that the Party's candidate has won. Of course, the Party would go through with the recount, and the candidate would accept his position, and the Party and the candidate would deal with the accusations and damage to their reputation as well as they could.

Now, if we accept that Hypothetical B is true, what does that say about Hypothetical A? The 2 scenarios look the same to the general public. The evil election stealers of Hypothetical A should continue and act just like the unfairly maligned characters in Hypothetical B.

AND: A poll:

Should the Democratic Party make Al Franken win, whether the votes are there or not?
Yes, because they can and any criticism can be weathered.
Yes, for some other reason.
No, because it will hurt them politically, in the short or long term.
No, because it would be wrong. free polls

November 11, 2008

"Do not hang your heads in shame, my fellow Repuglicans."


... buildings.

Joan Didion felt "unexpressable uneasiness" about the election.

"We were getting what we wanted..."
... a smart, qualified, decent candidate the Eastern elite could get behind. And yet the frenzy surrounding Obama made her uneasy — both the sense that he was a young person's candidate, "a generational thing we couldn't understand" and the unthinking embrace of "naivete transformed to hope, partisanism as consumerism." Didion bridled at the wanton use of "transformational" and said she couldn't count the number of times she heard the 60's evoked "by people who apparently had no memory that the 60s" didn't involve decking babies out in political onesies.

Didion was at pains to say that she did not think any of this was Obama's doing, nor to his tastes. He would, she speculated "welcome healthy realism" and achievable expectations. In our frenzy, we are doing him a disservice, expecting miracles "at a time when the nation can least afford easy answers." She recalled, the day after the election, an overexcited newscaster declaring that we now possess "the congratulations of all the nations." She likened this to the naivete of thinking we'd be regarded as beloved saviors in Iraq. But, she ended, "in the irony-free zone that our country has become, this is not what people wanted to hear."
I love the way a breath of stale air is a breath of fresh air.