May 30, 2009

At the Incommunicado Café...


... I'll be incommunicado — for a time — so please carry on. I'll still monitor comments so don't think you can get away with any of those (few) things I delete. But have fun. Do your thing. Let it all hang out. Whatever turns you on.

The Great Glen Way.

Nina's in Scotland, knocking herself out, hiking the Great Glen Way — with lots of photographs and narrow escapes.

The best of Jay Leno.

I don't much like Jay Leno, but after all these years, a "10 Best" set of clips has got to be pretty good. Let's check out the best of — the surprisingly smutty — "Headlines":

Obama defends Sotomayor: "I'm sure she would have restated it."

Well, of course, she would have restated it if she'd thought, when she said it, that it would be used by opponents of her Supreme Court nomination the way it's being used today. But that's why the original quotation is so interesting and deserving of analysis.

Yet it was not an unguarded spontaneous outburst. It was a carefully written speech delivered to a particular audience. Sotomayor was saying the things that would be well-received by her audience. Indeed, I have trouble getting roused by her statement — "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life" — because I've been immersed for a quarter century in the kind of law school environment that she addressed. Here, we sympathetically smile and nod at such things. We nurture racial analysis. We create a school of thought and hire people to write about Critical Race Theory. What Sotomayor said was actually a weak, feel-good version of the kind of racial talk that is widespread in the legal academy.

Sotomayor was invited to give that speech, I assume, because she is Latina. It was for publication in the Berkeley La Raza Law Journal, in a symposium called "Raising the Bar: Latino and Latina Presence in the Judiciary and the Struggle for Representation." She had to address the topic. She did so in a notably non-radical fashion. She was appropriate for that occasion. Now, it sounds bad to people who don't hear this sort of thing in the ordinary course of life, but I think it says very little about how racially Sotomayor's mind works or how inclined she is to dispense racial favors from the bench.

Still, those who want law to be color-blind have an fine opportunity to play off that quote. Whether calling Sotomayor a "racist" is the best rhetoric is another matter. I would recommend characterizing Sotomayor's thinking as "racial" (rather than racist). And lets have a real debate about whether law and public policy should have a racial or a color-blind character. It's an important issue, and it can be used to define Obama in contrast to whatever 2012 candidates the Republican Party may produce.

May 29, 2009

The roadside memorial at the Anderson ferry.



Should memorials mark the place where a person died? If so, what standards apply? Is it wrong to nail a stuffed rabbit and paper butterflies to a cross? What if every place where a person died – in the entire history of humanity — had a marker with a name on it? Would you be sitting on one right now? Ever thought about how many people have died on your front lawn (over the past 1 million years)? Ever thought about the fact that somewhere on earth is the place where you will die? Visualize an invisible marker there with your name on it. Where do you think it is? Perhaps you sleep on it every night. If you knew that in fact you did, would you find that comforting?

"Authorities say an 82-year-old man choked his 74-year-old girlfriend..."

Oh, for the love of God...

"... because he was unhappy with the way she loaded a dishwasher."

When do we ever learn?

"What am I going to tell the president when I tell him his teleprompter is broken? What will he do then?"

The President's teleprompter is a running joke — the Vice President reminds us.

"I felt she could be very judgmental in the sense that she doesn’t let you finish your argument before she jumps in and starts asking questions."

A lawyer (Sheema Chaudhry) said that about Sonia Sotomayor (as reported in this NYT article). Well, sounds like she'd fit right in on the Supreme Court. That's exactly what those oral arguments are like. And give me a break. A judge is "judgmental"?

The oral advocate is benefited when the judge makes it clear exactly what the sticking point is for her. Pay attention and respond, if you can. I've read many Supreme Court cases that turn on the very point that a key Justice pushed the losing lawyer around with at oral argument. It's an opportunity. Use it. Don't whine about it. Let the judge be judgmental and the lawyer be lawyerly.

Another lawyer, Gerald Lefcourt, said: "She used her questioning to make a point... as opposed to really looking for an answer to a question she did not understand." Again, this is typical of Supreme Court argument. So she made her point, and she wasn't having any difficulty understanding something? That's a signal to the lawyer to make a point that tops hers. Make a better argument. Having a position and revealing it at oral argument — which occurs after the judge has studied all the arguments in the written briefs — happens all the time in the Supreme Court. It doesn't mean that the judge is close-minded. It means the judge is prepared and using the argument time efficiently. The lawyer needs to up his game.

Sheema Chaudhry also said : "She’s brilliant and she’s qualified, but I just feel that she can be very, how do you say, temperamental.” And Gerald Lefcourt said that, compared to the other judges on her court, Sotomayor is "more strident and much more vocal." Strident, temperamental... I hear gender in these words. I have no idea what Chaudhry and Lefcourt actually experienced, but this is the way people talk about strong women.
Judge Guido Calabresi, a former dean of Yale Law School who taught Ms. Sotomayor there and now sits with her on the Second Circuit, said complaints that she had been unduly caustic had no basis. For a time, Judge Calabresi said, he kept track of the questions posed by Judge Sotomayor and other members of the 12-member court. “Her behavior was identical,” he said.

“Some lawyers just don’t like to be questioned by a woman,” Judge Calabresi added. “It was sexist, plain and simple.”
Frankly, I wouldn't mind if Sotomayor was an unusually caustic and argumentative judge. There's no reason why the female needs to be the one who's most deferential and polite. In fact, it's good for some women to equal or outdo men in the verbal jousting. Badgering lawyers, it's not just for Scalia anymore. Bring on Sonia to scare them from the liberal side.

(Really, does anybody care if lawyers are intimidated?)

May 28, 2009

I'm so excited about...

... this.

Go ahead. Make my 200 seconds.

"Gay marriage currently is not legal, under U.S. law. I bet a lot of straight men wish that applied to them..."

"... so they could go out there and have some torrid, unabashed monkey sex, as much as they could. You know, that sounds pretty good, right?"

Comedy show or serious conservative magazine?

"That's like saying the 'secret' to good sex is a partner. Or genitals."

Ezra has had it.

Archie picks Veronica!

Oh, no!

Do we know what Sotomayor thinks about abortion rights?

Some people assume Obama wouldn't have picked her if she doesn't support abortion rights, but is that really the case? White House spokesman, Robert Gibbs, has said that Obama “did not ask... specifically” about her position. It may be politically useful that her opinion isn't known, and yet that may mean that she'll turn out to be a surprise (as Souter, the man she's replacing was in his time).
None of the cases in Judge Sotomayor’s record dealt directly with the legal theory underlying Roe v. Wade — that the Constitution contains an unwritten right to privacy in reproductive decisions as a matter of so-called substantive due process.
Of course, a Court of Appeals judge is bound to Supreme Court precedent, which includes that theory, but a case applying it might reveal how enthusiastic a judge is about it.
In a 2002 case, she wrote an opinion upholding the Bush administration policy of withholding aid from international groups that provide or promote abortion services overseas.

“The Supreme Court has made clear that the government is free to favor the anti-abortion position over the pro-choice position,” she wrote, “and can do so with public funds.”
That says nothing beyond the simple fact that she was bound by precedent and powerless to overrule it.
In a 2007 case, she strongly criticized colleagues on the court who said that only women, and not their husbands, could seek asylum based on China’s abortion policy. “The termination of a wanted pregnancy under a coercive population control program can only be devastating to any couple, akin, no doubt, to the killing of a child,” she wrote, also taking note of “the unique biological nature of pregnancy and special reverence every civilization has accorded to child-rearing and parenthood in marriage.”
That is pretty consistent with both the pro-life and the abortion rights position. (In fact, it's a good illustration of why we shouldn't say that those who favor abortion rights are "pro-abortion.") Someone supporting abortion rights might object to valuing the father's interests equally with the mother's, and someone who is pro-life might object to seeing abortion from the perspective of the parents and not the unborn child. Still, she's mostly using pro-choice language: she calls the unborn child a "pregnancy," and she equates it with "a child" (i.e., a born child) when it is "wanted." But then again, this is the language of the law embodied in the Supreme Court decisions that bind her.
[I]n a 2008 case, she wrote an opinion vacating a deportation order for a woman who had worked in an abortion clinic in China. Although Judge Sotomayor’s decision turned on a technicality, her opinion described in detail the woman’s account of how she would be persecuted in China because she had once permitted the escape of a woman who was seven months pregnant and scheduled for a forced abortion. In China, to allow such an escape was a crime, the woman said.
All you "empathy" opponents — think about that.

Then there's the fact that Sotomayor was raised as a Roman Catholic. (Indeed, she will be the 6th Catholic on the Court.)
... Hispanics include a higher percentage of abortion opponents than many other parts of the Democratic Party’s coalition. Judge Sotomayor’s parents moved from Puerto Rico.

“At the very least, she grew up in a culture that didn’t hold the pro-life position in contempt,” [said teven Waldman, the editor in chief of].
David Savage and Peter Nicholas note:
Sotomayor... has listed herself as a member of Childbirth Connection, a group that helps young mothers prepare for caring for a baby.

Two years ago -- in a case of concern to women's groups -- she joined an appeals court ruling that upheld a school district's policy requiring teachers to notify a parent if they saw that a girl was pregnant. The court said that the teachers had no legal basis for objecting to the policy....

If Obama was seeking to avoid an abortion battle during the confirmation process, Sotomayor would seem a logical choice because of her lack of record on the issue. Another finalist to replace Souter, Judge Diane P. Wood from Chicago, had a strong public record of supporting abortion rights. Wood dissented a decade ago when the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Wisconsin's and Illinois' bans on what opponents call "partial birth abortion."

Students who hug too much.

Should they be stopped?
A measure of how rapidly the ritual is spreading is that some students complain of peer pressure to hug to fit in. And schools from Hillsdale, N.J., to Bend, Ore., wary in a litigious era about sexual harassment or improper touching — or citing hallway clogging and late arrivals to class — have banned hugging or imposed a three-second rule....

“If somebody were to not hug someone, to never hug anybody, people might be just a little wary of them and think they are weird or peculiar,” said Gabrielle Brown, a freshman at Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School in Manhattan.

Comforting as the hug may be, principals across the country have clamped down. “Touching and physical contact is very dangerous territory,” said Noreen Hajinlian, the principal of George G. White School, a junior high school in Hillsdale, N.J., who banned hugging two years ago. “It was needless hugging — they are in the hallways before they go to class. It wasn’t a greeting. It was happening all day.”
Needless hugging? Don't we need a hug?

"200 years that changed the world."

(Via Tigerhawk.)

Drudge is delightfully Drudge-y this morning.

Does it even matter what that refers to? It's this AP article:
"I do see this opportunity for climate change to be ... a game-changer," [Nancy Pelosi said at Tsinghua University in Beijing]. "It's a place where human rights — looking out for the needs of the poor in terms of climate change and healthy environment — are a human right." To achieve this, Pelosi said governments would have to make decisions and choices based on science. "They also have to do it with openness, transparency and accountability to the people," she said. "Everyone has to have their situation improved by it."
I love the photographic-editorial cleverness of making Pelosi's environmental greenness remind us of this:

"Thank God for La Mer and Retin-A and Pilates — and, yes, hot sex..."

"... which is good fun and may be no more than a Maginot Line against the inevitable, but that’s not nothing. And my hair, honey-highlighted for years now, has the swank length of mermaid youth—which is how I plan to keep it no matter what proper pageboy is age-appropriate. No question, there are physical facts about my age that are undeniably delightful. I am much sexier now than I used to be—I suddenly have this voluptuous body where I used to just be skinny and lithe. Really oddly, a couple of years ago I got serious breasts, to the point where people think I’ve had them surgically enhanced, which I certainly have not. Still, I think, the honest truth is that I’m just not as pretty as I used to be. Something has abandoned me. I don’t know what that thing is—they’ve been trying to jar it and bottle it for centuries—but it’s left, another merciless lover. My hips are thicker, my skin is thinner, my eyes shine less brightly—will I ever again glow as if all the stars are out at night just to greet me? What finally falls away, after enough things don’t go as planned, is that look of expectancy—which, when worn down to pentimento, is revealed to be exhaustion."

Elizabeth Wurtzel is doing that complaining/bragging thing again. This time, the problem is she's getting old, but she's still way prettier than you, she hopes you know. She's 41, by the way, which seems young to me, but perhaps — do I remember it properly? — that's a time when the fear of aging and death spikes.

Via Jezebel, who says:
As she explains with characteristic candor, she was always a beautiful child, a "hot number," a woman who traded on her looks. And she misses it. While she sees the danger and futility of valuing beauty overmuch, she can't help it: panic trumps insight and she doesn't seem eager to stop it. And it's scary to see a smart and accomplished woman so openly in the thrall of others' opinions.

"Republicans would be foolish to fight the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court..."

"...because she is the most conservative choice that President Obama could have made," says E.J. Dionne, whose assertion shouldn't be trusted.

IN THE COMMENTS: traditionalguy said:
Dionne's advice is letting the cat out of the bag. The Progressive wing will gladly push for withdrawal of her nomination if the repubbies continue to posture and vent over a few imperfections in Sonia's speeches. Then Obama could really un-load on them with his next choice. The nomination of Sotomayor needs another "just like Bush" tag.
Ah, yes. Just like Bush did with Harriet Miers and then Samual Alito. As kentuckyliz suggested, we ought to call Sotomayor Sorta-Miers.

May 27, 2009

At the Kitty Cat Café...


... take the time to notice the white blossoms that have fallen in the yard.


... and anything else at all...

A professor told Bill Clinton that "great men often require less rest than ordinary people, some sleeping no more than five hours a night."

"Clinton adopted that pattern."

Hmmm... and what if some professor had told him that great men do not attempt to become great by copying the personal habits that professors tell them are common among great men? (E.g., Great men require frequent blow jobs.)

AT&T unfair to Adam Lambert?

"Representatives of AT&T helped fans of ["American Idol" winner Kris] Allen at the two Arkansas events by providing instructions on how to send 10 or more text messages at the press of a single button, known as power texts. Power texts have an exponentially greater effect on voting than do single text messages or calls to the show’s toll-free phone lines. The efforts appear to run afoul of 'American Idol' voting rules in two ways. The show broadcasts an on-screen statement at the end of each episode warning that blocks of votes cast using 'technical enhancements' that unfairly influence the outcome of voting can be thrown out."

War memorial?


What do men want?

I keep thinking about this fascinating comment, written by rhhardin in last Friday's post "Women are unhappier than ever":
[Women are unhappy] from doing stuff women are not interested in, encouraged by the idea that women ought obsess on the same stuff as men, as if what was satisfying ought to be the same across the sexes.

Unhappiness is aided by a tendency to find stuff for men to fix, whose survival value is testing of potential mates for reliability and fondness. Finding stuff for men to do requires finding something that's wrong.

In a perfect world, that's followed by showing the man who was out on the quest that you're satisfied with him, which makes him happy.

This story is told over and over in Get Smart, wildly popular with males in the 60s.

I think being in touch with feelings is really just looking for stuff that needs fixing, the initial move in the dialog.

To help you think about that:

"If you make the roofs white and if you make the pavement more of a concrete type of colour rather than a black type of colour..."

"... and if you do that uniformally, that would be the equivalent of... reducing the carbon emissions due to all the cars in the world by 11 years – just taking them off the road for 11 years."

"Is Karl's bewilderment with the world endearing?"

Ricky Gervais responds to a question about Karl Pilkington:
It is, because you know there is no malice. He says ridiculous things like, the Chinese don't age well, and gays should have their own toilets. But even though on the face of it that could be incredibly offensive, you can't get offended because you can't get offended when a toddler says something either. He doesn't really understand what he is saying. Everything is in the form of a question.

Sometimes there is an arrogance in his ignorance. For example, I explained to him on "Natural History" that we're 98.6 percent genetically identical to a chimpanzee. And I said we're closer to a chimp than the chimp is to a gorilla. Karl went "no way," I said, yes it's true. He said "no, if I look at them, I'd think the gorilla is more like us." I said "You'd be wrong. The chimpanzee is 98.6 percent genetically identical to a human. That's only 1.4 percent difference." And Karl went, "well that's gotta be the arse then."

The Sotomayor-is-not-a-real-judge meme.

Let this William Warren cartoon represent what I'm calling a meme because I'm seeing it everywhere:

When a white man gets onto the Supreme Court, it's because of his legal credentials, because he got no points for diversity, but when a woman or a member of a minority group makes it onto the Court, she (or he) will be forever marginalized as an embodiment of the quality or qualities that clinched the appointment, even though excellent legal credentials were required for her to make it into the pool of finalists. Don't you see how unfair this marginalization is?

The fact that Sonia Sotomayor is female and Hispanic and that she got the nomination because of that does not nullify or degrade the legal credentials that she also has. It is wrong and unfair to say that it does.

Now, it's a separate question whether being female and Hispanic is supposed to play a part in constitutional interpretation. Both Obama and Sotomayor have made statements that suggest they believe something that many lawprofs say all the time: That a judge's background experiences and understandings play a role in answering hard questions of interpretation.

If you don't think that is true, think deeply about why you disagree. What do you know about the how human mind works that makes you think that our reasoning is abstracted from our real-world context? Don't tell me that you just feel sure that's what judges ought to do. The question is what human beings do, not what you wish they could do and would do.

And frankly, I think that if judges could reason about legal texts abstracted from the real world, they would make all sorts of intolerable, ridiculous decisions that would lead us soon enough to replace them with more practical judges. If your wish came true, it would only be temporary.

It's also a separate question whether Presidents should make Supreme Court appointments based purely on legal credentials. Is there some idea that all possible nominees could be ranked and the President ought to choose #1? Assuming some absolute rank order is possible — and I don't think it is — would you want to limit him that way? Why? What if it meant that the next 100 judges would be white males from upper middle class backgrounds? I think that would be intolerable.

Why did the White House select this photo of Sotomayor for its website slideshow?

Here's the whole slideshow — which is labeled "Sotomayor Bio."

An emailer calls this to my attention saying: "I don't think you should post about this, but why would they put in this photo where you can see all the way up her skirt??"

Well, I am posting about this, and I wouldn't say "you can see all the way up her skirt." You can see that Sonia Sotomayor wears a skirt and crosses her legs in a relaxed and casual way that lets you see some leg. The photo also has her smiling prettily, with her hair in relaxed ringlets, one of which falls gently into her eye. Her left hand is devoid of any relationship-manifesting rings, but she's wearing long dangling earrings, and the hand is unclenched and draping gracefully.

Get the message? She's a woman. A womanly woman, fully embodying womanhood — even as she is not married, she's wearing a professional suit, and she's at home with the law books.

IN THE COMMENTS: Palladian, who has expertise in art, writes:
Her knee looks like a giant grey Idaho potato hovering in the foreground. The arm of the chair repeats the shape on the right of the frame, making it look like her other knee, which in turn makes it look like her hand is dead center in her enormous crotch, pawing at her cooch. You avoid those things in portraiture. Also not good to crop her right arm off. It implies that she's an amputee.
He is right, of course, but that isn't the answer to my question why the photograph was selected.

ALSO IN THE COMMENTS: Andrew Koenig said:
My first thought was of this famous picture of J.P. Morgan...

... in which the light reflecting from the arm of his chair makes him seem to be holding a dagger.
The photo is by Edward Steichen. The effect was accidental, but in this case, we love it (as much as Morgan hated it). The important thing is to have an eye not just for what you are hoping to capture in a photograph — such as Sotomayor's femininity — but also for the accidental imagery that others may notice. See what can be seen and then decide if you want to use a photograph.

May 26, 2009

"Prop. 8 will go down, San Francisco (is a) big queer town."

Screams screamed in San Francisco today, as Prop. 8 did not go down.
[W]ord of the court's ruling filtered through the crowd at about 10:05 a.m., and within minutes about 50 broke off and marched to Van Ness Avenue, where they formed a ring in the roadway at Grove Street, blocking the city's major north south artery.

Soon more than 150 protesters had linked hands in the middle of the avenue and chanted "Marriage is a civil right" while dozens more looked on. Ministers with the group blessed each protester on the head as blocked cars, trucks and buses honked at the group.

Members of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a long-time gay activist group, walked through the crowd smearing glitter on the foreheads of demonstrators. Two trumpeters and an accordion player filled the air with zydeco music.

The California Supreme Court upholds the state's same-sex marriage ban.

Proposition 8, approved by California voters, stands.

Rush Limbaugh advises Republicans to "take it to the mat" and fight Sonia Sotomayor as strongly as possible.

Not because she can be defeated, but because "the people need to know what Obama really believes in, and this is how it can happen." This is a "golden opportunity," he said on the radio just now. "Will Republicans do it? That's another question."

IN THE COMMENTS: Palladian writes:
And why not? Those of us who believe that philosophy and ideology trumps race and sex as proper measures of a person's competence to hold high office will get branded racists sooner or later, so why not get it over with?

Obama got into office partially because of the success of this foul sort of racial extortion, so of course he's going to continue to use it as a political tool.

It's time for the Republicans to show that they can be as vindictive and nasty as the Democrats have been during every Republican Supreme Court hearing in the last 20 years or so. What have they got to lose?
That reminds me. Rush called Sotomayor a racist. He quotes something she once said — "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life" — and declaims "So here you have a racist. You might want to soften that. You might want to say 'a reverse racist.'" He adds that Obama is "the greatest living example of a reverse racist and now he's appointed one."

ADDED: Here's the transcript of the show. Let me extract another tidbit:
[T]he odds that she could be stopped are long. Perhaps the biggest pitfall she faces is her own confirmation hearings. She might slip up there and might say something that would give the opposition a home run. But even then they're going to have to be willing to take advantage of it. By the way, do you know that Obama opposed both Roberts and Alito? Barack Obama opposed them both, and in both cases -- of John Roberts, the current chief justice, and Samuel Alito -- he said, "Oh, they're perfectly qualified and they've both got perfect judicial temperament. But I'm going to vote against them," because to him it's about ideology. It's about liberalism. He thought these two guys were conservatives, and it didn't matter to him what their judicial temperament or qualifications were. He voted against both of those.
I thought Obama was wrong to vote like that, and I can see how he deserves to have it come back to bite him. If confirmation is about agreeing with the ideology, then Republicans might want to vote against Sotomayor. But confirmation should not be about ideology, and conservatives ought to want to prove that principle by their votes. Use the confirmation hearings to delineate what liberal judicial ideology is and why people ought to reject it. Then get a good presidential candidate for 2012 and make Supreme Court nominations an issue. Is that too hard? Does that take too long? Too bad! You say you want a Justice who will tell the truth about what the Constitution means. But here's something about what the Constitution means: The President has the appointment power.

Mary Roach says a lot of surprising things about orgasms.

Via Andrew Sullivan, who focuses on the sonogram of a fetus masturbating and says "Just a small effort to get K-Lo's head to explode." Odd. I would have thought that the fact that fetuses masturbate supports the pro-life side of the abortion debate.

That thing Sonia Sotomayor said about courts making policy.

The video:

"Court of Appeals is where policy is made." We're going to hear that line dissected, attacked, and defended over and over. Let's talk about those words.

And let's also talk about the interesting mannerism of placing one's left hand inside one's clothing up around one's shoulder. I know someone who does that at times, and I've given a lot of thought to what it signifies. I have my theory, but I'll save it until some of you weigh in.

4 reasons I'm glad Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor.

1. Finally, a Supreme Court Justice with a [last] name longer than 3 syllables. (Thanks to downtownlad for noting the possible distinction and my son John Althouse Cohen for confirming it.)

2. Finally, a Hispanic Supreme Court Justice... and we won't have to keep talking about how some day there ought to be a Hispanic Supreme Court Justice.

3. We'll get back to the historical high water mark of women on the Court. Wow! To hit 2 again!

4. Jeffrey Rosen gets his comeuppance.

CORRECTION: James Taranto on #1:
Blogress Ann Althouse claims that Sotomayor will be the first justice with a four-syllable last name and credits her son for confirming this. But it isn't true. John Althouse Cohen apparently is too young to remember Justice Willis Van Devanter.
I'll bet John thought his middle name was Van.


It's Sotomayor!

ADDED: Tom Goldstein analyzes the political dynamics of the nomination. He says Obama will not need to "invest additional political capital" over confirmation.
... Republicans cannot afford to find themselves in the position of implicitly opposing Judge Sotomayor. To Hispanics, the nomination would be an absolutely historic landmark....

... Sotomayor has an extraordinarily compelling personal narrative. She is a first generation American, born of immigrant parents. She grew up in a housing project, losing her father as an adolescent, raised (with her brother) by her mother, who worked as a nurse. She got herself to Princeton, graduating as one of the top two people in her class, then went to Yale Law. Almost all of her career has been in public service–as a prosecutor, trial judge, and now appellate judge. She has almost no money to her name.
Goldstein thinks Republicans will (should?) wait until Obama's next nomination to stage a fight — the way the Democrats went easy on John Roberts and fought hard against Samuel Alito.

To the extent that there is opposition, it will fall into 4 categories, Goldstein says: 1. that she's not smart enough, 2. that she's "a liberal ideologue and 'judicial activist,'” and 3. that she's "unprincipled or dismissive of positions with which she disagrees," and 3. that she's "gruff and impersonable." Goldstein outlines the response to these 4 arguments.

Here's what I think conservatives should do: Accept that she will be confirmed, but use the occasion to sharpen the definition of conservative judicial values and to argue to the American people that these are the better values.

"Would I like to be on the Supreme Court? You bet I would. But not enough to have trimmed my sails for half a lifetime."

Said Stanford lawprof Pam Karlan, who doesn't expect to get the nomination. (Insiders listed the final 4 as: Sonia Sotomayor, Diane P. Wood, Elena Kagan, and Janet Napolitano.)

The link is to a NYT article about how Obama is not headed toward picking someone who will "excite the left."
While it is possible Mr. Obama has a surprise in the works, those on this list are cut from molds similar to those of the two Clinton appointees, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer. They are liberal on most issues that divide the court — and surely too liberal for many Republican senators — but have not been the outspoken leaders of the legal left that advocates crave.

“He’s not going to go in that direction,” said Bernard W. Nussbaum, who was Mr. Clinton’s first White House counsel and oversaw Justice Ginsburg’s appointment. “I don’t think that he’s worried about the left. I think he’s doing the same thing we did.”
The political dynamic remains the same. It's readable and strong. And Obama is like Clinton.

It's too bad that Court appointment elude the strongest, most interesting legal thinkers. The best individuals will say what Karlan meant to say: That she didn't want to spend her life adjusting what she had to say to get into the position to catch the political wind.

It's not too bad, however, that the left will be denied excitement (which would be super exciting for the right as well).

"Obama to Announce Supreme Court Nominee at 10:15 a.m. ET."

News flash!

"What makes a photo of something in America 'Americana'?"

That's something I twittered yesterday, after reading Michael Hasenstab's comment: "Thanks for posting the beautiful Americana photos on Memorial Day weekend."

I'm getting some answers over there. BXGD/Jason (the commenter) says:
Basically anything that would make a young person want to go live in a city.
Rschrim says:
If they're from the NY Times, guys drinking wearing elephant masks is Americana, ie. Redneck. I'd say that's their slant.
I don't think that's what Michael H is about. But it does remind me of a recent controversy — wish I could find it easily — where the NYT used a photograph of some awful-looking people to illustrate a story about rural Americans.

Anyway, what do you think: What kind of photographs are "Americana"? Why were mine (if they were)? Is it that you can see I have an outsider's perspective and am somehow looking down on people? Did I somehow project the attitude that was attributed to Barack Obama when he spoke of Americans who get bitter and cling to guns and religion?

"Why does Ann want to crush freedom?"

"Why does she support making young fans of goofy Eurovision contestants cry?"

May 25, 2009

Roses are much friendlier than poison ivy.

I walk in Augusta, Kentucky, down by the Ohio River.

ADDED: The hymn playing in the second half of the video is "Faith of Our Fathers." That's also the name of a Philip K. Dick story. Wikipedia has an article on the Dick story, but not the hymn. That says something, doesn't it?

IN THE COMMENTS: Traditionalguy writes:
Memorial day is for a remembrance of the real heroes who really died for us. This is the one day we don't push marketing myths and science fiction tales from the wide world of commerce and politics. So it is fitting to see poison ivy, roses, Faith of Our Fathers, and the Ohio River all just being themselves.

"When I worked at Newsweek in the late 90s, I used to wonder at how all these talented people could sit at their desks in a sort of haze..."

"... it was as if a soul-deadening gas was permeating the offices."

Says Mickey Kaus, pondering the problems of magazines that summarize the week's news.

Broken windows, graffiti, flood damage.


Augusta, Kentucky.

Log cabin closeup.


A sign says: "Log Cabin/1750-1850/Moved from Beasley Creek/Mason County/1974."

Sauerkraut Balls.


Would it be bad of me to say I don't want to eat here? What are you having? The gumbo? I'll have the cheeseburger with nothing on it — except the cheese...

Ferry 'cross the Ohio.



Here she is, Miss America.


"I was beginning to realize that the only way to make this evening bearable would be to ask André a few questions."

"Asking questions always relaxes me. In fact, I sometimes think that my secret profession is that I'm a private investigator, a detective. I always enjoy finding out about people. Even if they're an absolute agony, I always find it very interesting."

A line from "My Dinner With Andre."

Do you use this conversational technique? Do you use it when — like the movie character Wally — you're feeling nervous? Do you like it when you realize that someone else is using it on you?

It's the new Bloggingheads — with me and Hanna Rosin.

The cleverness of Obama’s Notre Dame speech
Ann: Obama will be the same as Bush on torture
Explaining Cheney’s growing popularity
The politicization of the Supreme Court as a good thing
“American Idol”: Did the Christians gang up against the gay guy?
Why women are still unhappy
Here's the link to the bhTV page, where you can see some links to the things we discuss, an apology for what you'll see are some technical glitches, and the comments on that site — which will almost surely be people hating on me.

You'll also find the context for the out-of-context "breasts, breast, breasts" clip from back here.

May 24, 2009

American motorcycle.


In Augusta, Kentucky.

"American owned."


A store in Kentucky.

We crossed the Ohio River into Kentucky and ended up in the town of Augusta.

There's a somber after-the-flood feeling:


(The great flood was in 1997.)

There were beautiful old historical buildings — like the Rosemary Clooney homestead — but many moldy and dilapidated places.

People worked on their gardens, though. Sometimes in an incomprehensibly manic style:


That's a goldfish pond with fountains at the extreme left.

And the people seemed pretty friendly:


And, yes, I asked the man in the elephant mask if I could take his picture. He said: "Sure, let me put the beer down," and I said, "No, the beer is fine."

"His father would refuse to drive him to soccer practice because he thought using a car to travel somewhere to exercise was ridiculous."

And now, 19-year-old Alex Liebman, has taken a year off from college to work on an organic farm.
This will be Mr. Liebman’s third farm internship. He has come to love the muscle fatigue that sets in at the end of a day. The rhythm of farm life is a welcome break from cellphones and Facebook. And the work makes him feel as if he is doing something to better the world.

“I’m not sure that I can affect how messed up poverty is in Africa or change politics in Washington,” he said, “but on the farm I can see the fruits of my labor.”

“By actually waking up every day and working in the field and putting my principles into action, I am making a conscious political decision,” he added.
Are you raising your child to be a farm hand?

Or maybe you are a farmer, in which case: Do you want a farm hand like Alex Liebman?

The RNC takes great raw material and, trying to whip up a viral video, makes an embarrassing piece of trash.

Everyone's talking about this:

Taylor Marsh goes on about the implied "Pussy." Don't even think Pussy along with Pelosi.

Crooks & Liars detects an "assassination fantasy": "we look at Pelosi down the barrel of a gun, hear shots fired, and then watch blood drip down our screens..."

Is there any defense of this idiotic video? Do you look to Allahpundit at Hot Air?
I would have posted this sooner but I ended up locked in a two-hour Twitter battle over it....
Oh. Okay. He was doing important things over in Twitter. Twitter is a great way to get people who write too much to throw much of their time and energy down the rathole. There's no way I'm going to go in there and try to piece together that conversation. Whatever it was, it doesn't matter anymore.

But here's the belated response on the blog:
The RNC does occasionally display suicidal tendencies... but I can’t believe they intended to call Pelosi a “pussy” knowing how offensive it is, how many votes it could cost them, and how outrageously outraged the media would be on her behalf as a way of changing the subject from her lies about waterboarding.
I think they intended to call Democrats pussies. That's why it ends with the on-screen words "Democrats Galore." The idea is: The Democrats are pussies — meaning sissies. But it just doesn't work because that's not the way "pussy" is meant in "Pussy Galore."

Epic poor judgment and incompetence.

"You know that onion from 'Green Organs'?"

Just something I said while listening to "McLemore Avenue" (Booker T. and the MG's) — an amusing recording, but really nothing more than a completely literal instrumental version of "Abbey Road." It's a pretty simple commercial idea for a record — we'll do the songs everyone already likes, play our instruments better than the Beatles (do they?) — plus: that organ from "Green Onions." Or as I like to say: that onion from "Green Organs."

"I pushed him off because jumpers like Chen are very selfish."

Threatening suicide on a bridge jams up the traffic for 5 hours and leads to a new manifestation of road rage.
"Their action violates a lot of public interests. They do not really dare to kill themselves. Instead, they just want to raise the relevant government authorities' attention to their appeals."

UPDATE: The video. Interesting to see how it actually played out... compared to what I pictured.

"When was the last time you considered lubing up your brows?"


This is another little example of the tiny craziness of women's magazines. There's something about the writing and the inane specificity of this advice that just kills me.

The writers are sort of trying to make us laugh — lubing up your brows — but also, it seems, seriously trying to make us worry about something — a "trouble zone" — that we've never even thought about — the skin under our eyebrows. Hey, think about it! Each eyebrow — I refuse to use the word "brow" to refer to the hairy facial arch — has its own mini scalp! It might get dandruff.

And then there is the problem of the inappropriate sexual innuendo: lubing up. I guess they get tired of telling us to moisturize. They brainstorm endlessly for synonyms. There's lubricate. So then let's make it cutesy and sexy. But it's absolutely unsexy. Imagine learning that your romantic partner dutifully adhered to a twice-a-day regimen of care for her eyebrow-scalps.

"I wanted to see how green I could be, how lightly I could tread on the earth."

Living in 144 square feet — and trying to prove the point that that's all the space anyone needs. Indeed, if you've got more, maybe you're "paralyzed" by all of your "stuff."

Though I think Elizabeth Turnbull's house is scary small, I'm intrigued by small houses. So much depends on a pleasing layout, views of the outdoors, and editing one's possessions. And then there's the question of why you are doing it. Are you being austere to save money or because you think it's wrong to consume too much? Is it fun and aesthetically pleasing? Or are you tending to your soul in some exciting/lofty way?