October 17, 2009

"Breast Trophy" — it's in the Smithsonian!


I was rather appalled at this work of art, and not because of the message or the sculptural idea of combining breasts and a trophy. I was appalled because it looked so bad, like an after-hours ceramics class project that made everyone laugh — who was it handed to? — before it was thrown in the trash. But it's in the Smithsonian:
Robert Arneson
Breast Trophy
19 3/4 x 11 3/4 x 8 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase made possible by the Smithsonian Institution Collections Acquisition Program

That sagging female breasts can be called a trophy contradicts the idea of commemorative trophies. Robert Arneson's observation of human behavior and American cultural mores—that men and women have an obsession with female breasts—inspired this trophy and its pithy social comment. The artist also brings to our attention the discomforting truth that women are often turned into objects. The most evident example of this cultural phenomenon is the phrase "trophy wife." The title Breast Trophy transforms the piece into a witty visual pun.
Uh, thanks United States government for telling me this thing that I can perfectly well look at is "witty" and "pithy." Did our tax money buy that thing?

Bundled up.


(At the Renwick Gallery, in Washington.)

Al Sharpton is threatening to sue Rush Limbaugh for defamation? But that's what Rush wants, isn't it?

Let me explain my theory, which I based on: 1. my understanding of litigation and 2. my familiarity with the way Rush Limbaugh's mind works. Note: 1. I'm a law professor, and 2. I listen to Rush all the time, and I pay particularly close attention when he contrasts what people say and what they are really trying to do.

So Rush writes this op-ed in the WSJ. Go over there and read the details about his thwarted investment in the St. Louis Rams. I just want to focus on what he said about Al Sharpton, who was one of the key people who made a conspicuous fuss about Limbaugh:
In 1998 Mr. Sharpton was found guilty of defamation and ordered to pay $65,000 for falsely accusing a New York prosecutor of rape in the 1987 Tawana Brawley case. He also played a leading role in the 1991 Crown Heights riot (he called neighborhood Jews "diamond merchants") and 1995 Freddie's Fashion Mart riot.
Sharpton threatens to sue because of that, reports CNN, which adds:
The Crown Heights riot began after a Hasidic Rabbi accidently struck and killed an African American boy with his car. The boy died from the injuries–sparking four nights of riots. The Rabbi was not charged, but Sharpton played a large role in rallying on behalf of the young boy’s family and the African American community.

According to a statement put out by Sharpton’s media consultant, a study New York Governor Mario Cuomo commissioned showed Sharpton was not involved in the Crown Heights incident until after the rioting concluded.

"Mr. Limbaugh's blatant and defamatory statements regarding the Crown Heights Riots falsely give the impression that Rev. Sharpton was present during the violence that occurred when in reality he had been called in by the family after the violence," Sharpton’s statement says.

"In terms of Freddie's Fashion Mart, Rev. Al Sharpton, along with local elected officials supported the protests. However, a lone gunman who disagreed with the nonviolent nature of the protests entered the store and killed seven people and himself… For Mr. Limbaugh to imply that Rev. Sharpton has anything to do with someone that killed people and himself is blatantly wrong," the statement continues.
CNN doesn't bother to fact check either Limbaugh's assertions or Sharpton's. What did Sharpton really do in relation to those old incidents?

I think Limbaugh was baiting Sharpton. Sharpton now has to talk about those old riots and the way he acted back then. If he sues, it will draw intense attention to the details of what happened, and we'll have to debate about the precise language Limbaugh used and how close to accurate it was. The question of the damage to Sharpton's reputation will be put in issue, and there will be discovery and factfinding relating to Sharpton's reputation and how much money it is worth. That's pretty risky for Sharpton, who likes to pose as an elder statesman nowadays. Meanwhile, Limbaugh, who may not want to begin any litigation, will have the opportunity to counterclaim, accusing Sharpton of defamation.

Look out, Reverend Al, it's a trap!

ADDED: This whole NFL controversy is a gift to Rush. I don't think Rush cared much about being one of the investors in the Rams. He wouldn't have had any serious power running things, and the group of investors came to him about it. Now, he's the center of attention, everyone's talking about him, and plenty of them are embarrassing themselves with careless, stupid, and nasty racial pandering — producing audio clips which he will play on his show, accompanied by scathing mockery and insistence that the mainstream media air his side of the story. If they do not, that's more fuel for Rush's red-hot critique of media. If they do, then he's on mainstream media, telling it his way at last.

Heating with bunnies.

In Sweden.

Althouse in Washington.

The symposium over, Althouse sits dreamily in an octagonal room at the Renwick Gallery:


Photo by Meade.

One more, also by Meade, with the bust of James Renwick, Jr. (1818-1895) in the background.



We're back in Madison now, arriving to homecoming Saturday, after the game has been lost. Too bad for the Badgers, but congratulations to the Boilermakers for beating the Buckeyes! West Lafayette is one of my favorite places on the face of the planet, so I'm very happy for Purdue.

And I'm happy to be back in Madison. I had a nice trip to Washington where George Washington Law School's law review hosted a wonderful symposium on judicial review, and I had a great time hanging out with various conlaw characters. It looked like this:


But that ended, and it was out into the cold rain of our nation's capital to search for my adorable husband, to see some art and eat some food and, today, to fly back into our lovely medium-sized city in the midwest.

Sheperd Fairey admits to deception in the litigation about the photograph he used to make the Obama "Hope" poster.

To make the poster he needed to "reference" — his verb — a photo of Obama, and now he wants to defend that use under the Copyright Law. To promote the acceptance of a broad definition of "fair use," it would help if he were thought of as a good guy — the artist, who should be supported in his creative endeavors and given access to the raw materials that he uses for the general benefit of society. And now we see that he has infected his repution with wrongdoing:
"Throughout the case, there has been a question as to which Mannie Garcia photo I used as a reference to design the HOPE image," Fairey said. "The AP claimed it was one photo, and I claimed it was another."

New filings to the court, he said, "state for the record that the AP is correct about which photo I used...and that I was mistaken. While I initially believed that the photo I referenced was a different one, I discovered early on in the case that I was wrong. In an attempt to conceal my mistake I submitted false images and deleted other images."

In February, the AP claimed that Fairey violated copyright laws when he used one of their images as the basis for the poster.  In response, the artist filed a lawsuit against the AP, claiming that he was protected under fair use. Fairey also claimed that he used a different photo as the inspiration for his poster.
The copyright issue itself should remain the same, and it's an important one indeed. It's a damned shame that the banner for expansive fair use is being carried by someone who was dishonest and who tried to play the legal system. Why is he admitting his deception now? Presumably, he knew the manipulations would come to light one way or the other, and it was a strategic decision to reveal it this way.

Obviously, this is also an occasion to craft jokes analogizing the Fairey mess to what the subject of the poster is doing, with all the usual sarcasm over the word "hope." Not that any of that mess is poor Obama's fault.

October 16, 2009

Lawprof Mark Tushnet "wants [the Supreme Court] to be slackers."

He's referring to the current Supreme Court, which he doesn't like, so he's happy with them cranking out fewer cases. The ideal number would be 0, he snarks, here at the judicial review symposium.  It's the last panel of the day.

Lawprof Nelson Lund has just spoken, condemning the "cult of celebrity judges." Is there a cult of celebrity judges? If so, is it a bad thing? Anyway, Lund has a bunch of proposals designed to destroy the cult. Make the job of being a Supreme Court Justice more onerous and less nourishing of narcissism, and maybe the Justices will become dourly dutiful little scribes.

One proposal is to end the practice of signing opinions. Do you think if the Justices couldn't stamp their names on the opinions, their behavior would change? And would unsigned opinions even hide who the author really was?

Prof. Tushnet says:
"You're going to have to figure out how to keep Justice Ginsburg from using the word 'pathbreaking,' and you're going to have to keep Justice Scalia... well, from being Justice Scalia."
Ha ha. It would give us lawprofs a new game to play, figuring out the distinctive marks of the different judges. For a while, at least. Over time, I think, we'd stop caring who was who. The Court would fade into a black box from which opinions emerged, and we'd judge the opinions on their merit, without bothering to imagine what's going on in the minds of particular judges. Would that make law more law-like, or would it just hide things that we ought to want to know?

"Althouse is probably live-blogging my remarks. I hope so."

Says lawprof Barry Friedman — in the middle of responding to the comments about his book "The Will of the People: How Public Opinion Has Influenced the Supreme Court and Shaped the Meaning of the Constitution" here at the symposium.

There's a lot of talk about puppies. Professor Jenna Bednar, a few minutes ago, said, characterizing the message of Barry's big book: "The Court is the People's puppy and the people hold it firmly by the leash." How does the Court feel that leash? That's a question. Can you answer it? The Court doesn't just do its own thing and say whatever the hell the law is. It must interact with public opinion and things evolve accordingly.

Another metaphor is marriage, which Barry quips he's an expert on because he's had 2.

He says: "Any good marriage requires confrontation." This has something to do with the Supreme Court. I'm sure you can extrapolate.

But in a marriage that works — which includes, presumably, his 2d — you derive the unspoken rules about what you can do without having to have a whole fight about it. He recites a list of things you can possibly do and get away with.

The only one I remember is coming in drunk at 2 a.m. with no explanation. One reason I can't remember anything else on his list was that I got distracted by how similar it was to something Andre Gregory says in "My Dinner With Andre":
You see, that's why I think that people have affairs. Well, I mean, you know, in the theater, if you get good reviews, you feel for a moment that you've got your hands on something. You know what I mean? I mean it's a good feeling. But then that feeling goes quite quickly. And once again you don't know quite what you should do next. What'll happen? Well, have an affair and up to a certain point you can really feel that you're on firm ground. You know, there's a sexual conquest to be made, there are different questions: does she enjoy the ears being nibbled, how intensely can you talk about Schopenhauer in some elegant French restaurant. Whatever nonsense it is. It's all, I think, to give you the semblance that there's firm earth.
But, Althouse, are you live-blogging my remarks?

Yes, yes, because I'm the one who says what blogging is... subject to the leash-tugging of traffic, linkage, and the commentariat.

Hey, everybody, look at my breasts.

Says Meghan McCain.

Yeah, I know we already talked about this yesterday — Balloon Day. And I just did an "in the comments" update for that, which I think I'll move to this post, so you'll read it.

Chip Ahoy says:
I can't figure out what the fuss is about. I snap on a thick wide leather cock ring that forces my balls upward and to the front then put on a pair of worn tight-fitting 501 jeans that I wire-brushed the crotch area to bare fibers then position a camera with remote shutter activation directly in front of a stool where I sit spread legged presenting a straight on crotch shot to the camera lens with a mirror behind it so I can more accurately judge the angle with greater accuracy all the time. I usually discard the first few shots until I work out the lighting, then post the best ones on twitter and face book. Where these followers come from, I have no idea. Did I mention I'm very serious about politics?

That Meghan makes the pose appear so effortless and perfectly natural is stunning.
Chris Althouse Cohen says:
56 comments and not one of them says "let's take a closer look at those breasts" or makes any reference along those lines? Is it just too obvious to even say?
MadisonMan answers:
Chris: Yes.
The reference is to this old — and much talked-about — blog post of mine, which I was, in fact, thinking of as I quickly wrote this post. I'm interested to see how many of the lefty liberals and feminist poseurs who loved to say that I was attacking a woman merely for having breasts are saying that Meghan McCain is doing anything more than just having breasts.

And in the cleavage between Chris and MM's comments, we have Mr. Forward saying:
Hey boy, look over there. Balloons!
Ah, yes! How thematically satisfying it was to have Meghan's buffoonish, balloonish breasts rising into the public view on the same day as The Boy's Balloon. Now, the Boy in the Balloon has been downgraded to the Boy in the Box. I don't really know what that portends for Meghan's breasts.

ADDED: peter hoh says:
Chris Althouse Cohen wrote:
56 comments and not one of them says "let's take a closer look at those breasts" or makes any reference along those lines? Is it just too obvious to even say?
Is it just too obvious to point out that it was previously stated that "no one in our family can ever say anything obvious"?

"If you can invent it" — judicial review — "you can do whatever you want with it."

An observation, made by Justice Anthony Kennedy, about why it made a difference whether judicial review is implicit in the Constitution or an invention of judges.

He was giving the keynote address yesterday afternoon for the symposium "Judicial Review: Historical Debate, Modern Perspectives, and Comparative Approaches" at George Washington University Law School. (I'm on a 9 a.m. panel today.)

I was particularly interested in that comment, because I don't agree with it. I think a judge who believes that judicial review was invented might feel more inclined toward restraint, and a judge who thinks judicial review was inherent in the original Constitution might feel more inspired toward activism. But of course it could be the other way around too.

Justice Kennedy allowed questions in the end, and one of the student questioners said "I think you know the role you play on the Court" and asked if he "enjoyed" it. As you might expect, the Justice ignored the obviously intended reference to Kennedy's power as the swing vote.

He just talked about how much he enjoys the work of judging. He got into the subject of how many briefs he has to read. It is a burden, like exam reading for lawprofs. "I never read a brief I couldn't put down." He said he listens to opera while reading briefs and, some cases being harder than others, he has "1-opera" and "2-opera" cases. He wrapped up this charmingly evasive answer with an anecdote about a lawyer who wisecracked, in response to that "1-opera" and "2-opera" business — which Kennedy conceded sounded pretentious — that when he wrote those briefs, he had the "1-6-pack" and the "2-6-pack" kind.

There were anecdotes and digressions throughout his extemporaneous speech, which he made standing next to and leaning against the lectern (which he called a "podium").

Random things: He's reading his way through Thomas Jefferson's reading list. "Harry Blackmun wouldn't change a comma after April 1." When, at conference, a Justice sees that he's got 5 votes for his side, the mood remains appropriately somber — "There are not a lot of high 5s." The Framers liked metaphors having to do with clocks, gears, and pendulums. Judicial power depends on the people's reverence and allegiance toward and for the law the judges expound. Americans will fight if you take away their rights. "The law is knowable, ascertainable."

"That's horrible. After the crap we just went through. No. No, no, no."

Richard Heene — the father of the Boy in a Box, the erstwhile Boy in a Balloon — protested when asked whether the whole thing was a hoax.

"I'm kind of appalled after all the feelings that I went through, up and down, that you guys are trying to suggest something else."

I'm kind of appalled too, that the media and the whole country is so easily distracted and has so little of the ballast of skepticism.

These people were on "Wife Swap" — I've seen the episode — and somebody had made a flying saucer shaped balloon...

Oh, what can I say? I don't want to hear it — the inevitable defense that your heart went out to that sweet little Boy in Danger.

Anyway, I missed most of the nonsense. I myself was aloft — flying, sans balloon, to Washington, D.C., for this symposium on judicial review.

We began yesterday afternoon with an extemporaneous talk by Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is an ebullient man, capable of bouncing up and down on his feet at the idea of the invention that is the American Constitution, buoyed up, not by balloons, but by ideas — ideas into which I must plunge headlong today.

October 15, 2009

"So I took a fun picture not thinking anything about what I was wearing..."

Uh. Okay.

IN THE COMMENTS: [I've moved the "in the comments" stuff to a newer post.]

Hey, look over there!

There's a boy in a balloon!


What makes a good column about friendship?

Lindsay Beyerstein thinks the Double X friendship expert is a sociopath — but, interestingly, fails to denounce her as an anti-feminist, even though she thinks Double X is full of anti-feminists. She cites a particular item of advice — from Lucinda Rosenfeld — which essentially says toughen up and quit crying about how your friends aren't good enough friends. Plus, Rosenfeld has a background in unsentimental writing about friendship:
Before taking the gig at Double-X, Rosenfeld produced a substantial body of anti-friend literature, including a novel about friends who despise each other (the official website even lets you stick pins in a flash voodoo doll!). She's also the author of How to Dump a Friend (2001) and Our Mutual Friend: how to steal friends and influence people (2004).
But who would want to read a column that simply counseled people in the obvious? You should be a good and caring friend — which Beyerstein hastens to tell us she sure is. Beyerstein acknowledges that the advice she'd give the letter writer (whose friends abandoned her when she was in need) would be boring. So you'd have to find a different letter to write about, wouldn't you?

You have to come up with something surprising for the column to be readable. Here's the Rosenfeld column in question. Not that I'm interested in reading advice columns, but I do think female friendships are a fascinating subject for incisive analysis. It's a feminist topic, but I'd like some analysis that's scarily honest and unlubricated by feminist treacle.

"Don't take this the wrong way, but it was like watching the hippo ballet in Fantasia.”

A description of a fat woman rock climbing in an article about how rock climbing is the one true gender-neutral sport.

Great anti-Reid rant from Kos.

I need to get back to reading Kos. He's good:
Bill Frist never had 60 votes. Bill Frist never cared. Republicans ran the Senate as if they owned the place, even when enjoying razor-thin majorities.

Yet when Democrats took the chamber, the first thing Harry Reid did was complain that he couldn't do anything because he didn't have 60 votes.

Then voters delivered 59 votes. And Harry Reid whined that he still couldn't do anything.
Kos was also excellent on the FTC controversy.

But I hate wading through stuff over on Kos, and it isn't obvious to me how you can just get to a page with only Kos and not all those other characters. In particular, I'm not interested in the day to day polls and so forth. It's like an interoffice memo for somebody else's job.

ADDED: Here's where to find just Kos. (Thanks, Jac.)

October 14, 2009

At the Pitcher Café...


... pour out your true feelings.

"The worst building in the history of mankind."

Will it ever be finished?

"We are not planning on investigating individual bloggers."

Oh, good. You're not planning...

I'm so relieved.

"We’re not interested in playing gotcha in the gray areas."

Not yet. But once the law is on the books, will you never feel tempted? Nothing will motivate you to venture into the gray?

IN THE COMMENTS: Meade said:
As Chief Justice John Marshall might have remarked, "the power to [call 'gray' 'black & white'] involves the power to destroy."
Very, very apt...

But don't go to law school.

"Have you ever conducted a capital case in which the defendant takes the stand with a Hitler moustache and says he's glad for what he's done and he will do it again?"

Justice Antonin Scalia, at oral argument, yesterday.

"What would you have done? It makes sense logically to say he has the worst defendant he has ever seen. He's murdered lots of people in cold blood. He gets up on the stand and says, 'I'm going to kill a lot more.' He sounds totally bonkers."

Said Justice Stephen Breyer.

Is it possible to be constitutionally ineffective when you've got such a bad client?

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg tried to help: ""What's remarkable about it is at no point did counsel say, 'Give him a life sentence.' He said that either one would be acceptable: either death or life would be acceptable."

So did Justice Sonia Sotomayor, remarking on the lawyer's strategy of using the crimes themselves as evidence of mental illness": "At some point you can have a strategy and execute it so poorly, so incompetently, that you're providing ineffective assistance of counsel."

"I haven’t been on a date in 26 years. I’m not even remotely looking."

"To have a relationship would require time. I don’t have any time, so it wouldn’t be fair to someone else. It might sound selfish, but I’m very happy being alone."

Said Tim Gunn, one of "7 Famous Whiners That Swear They Can’t Get A Date."

The Dow tops 10,000.

A year after accepting a bailout from Washington, a resurgent JPMorgan Chase reported another round of surprisingly strong profits on Wednesday, strengthening its position at the pinnacle of American finance.

... $3.6 billion in profit for the third quarter...

It's amazing, the human sympathy for animals.

Would you help a skunk with a jar of peanut butter stuck on its head?

Hot air ballooning — when to jump.

"Two Dutch men and two women were killed. A fifth Dutch tourist was slightly injured, along with the two pilots. The pilots had jumped from the basket as the balloon plunged, thus reducing their injuries."

Harry Connick Jr. is "pleased with the way [he] handled the situation."

Australia is a little different from America. There was Connick, guest judging on "Hey Hey It's Saturday"....
Four men in blackface and with Afro wigs sang and danced behind a Michael Jackson impersonator wearing white makeup. Connick gave the performance a zero score....

Some Australians said they were embarrassed such a racist sketch had been broadcast, while others said detractors were too politically correct and that the skit was funny.

Connick said he canceled an autograph session and interviews in Sydney after the show to let the controversy die down.
ADDED: Here's the video of the performance and Connick's handling of the situation. (Via MadisonMan, in the comments.)

The article I read via iPhone this morning that had me in hysterics before I got out of bed.

"When the Icing on the Cake Spells Disaster."

ADDED: Don't miss the slide show.

And the blog, Cake Wrecks. Here's a link to the thing in the article that cracked me up the most.

"I don't know what to do, Godfather. My voice is weak, it's weak."

"Anyway, if I had this part in the picture, it puts me right back on top, you know. But this... this man out there. He won't give it to me, the head of the studio."

Johnny Fontane, whining to the Godfather, played by Al Martino. Here he is, singing in the movie.

And here's video of his disco version of "Volare."

Al Martino, dead at 82.

Glenn Reynolds poses with a dispassionate judge.

Just kidding. Poses with the Easter Bunny.

"After 'In America sex is legal' outburst, rapist gets 15 years."


"You light up my life/You give me hope/To carry on/You light up my days/And fill my nights with song."

So wrote the man The Daily News calls "songwriting sleaze."

"They wanted the excuse to run the fabricated quote."

"They wanted the opportunity to do it.  These people are scum. They are literal professional scum and they are responsible in many ways for the deteriorating standards and quality of journalism.  They are leading the pack. They are found on both the news side and the sports side, and they are doing everything they can to promote disunity and discord throughout our culture and society while holding themselves up in their own minds as great unifiers and people who care only about social justice.  When they're basically just incompetent, irresponsible, impersonators of journalism."

How bad is the new RNC website?

I read the much-linked Marc Ambinder post "Top Ten Reasons Why The GOP Website Relaunch Is Fizzlin'." (The word "fizzlin'" distracted me immensely. I wasted time checking Urban Dictionary — "fizzle" means fool, you know — and only eventually decided that Ambinder either meant the ordinary English word "fizzling" — and he didn't even mean it sarcastically, despite the dropped "g" — or somehow he mean "sizzlin'" sarcastically.)

So I took a look at the website myself. Basically, it's too red and too social-media-y for me to look at it long enough to form an opinion, but I did like this history page, though I had a hell of a time going back and finding it just now. (It's "Accomplishments" on the "Learn" menu.) I'm no expert on website design, but I hate fooling — fizzling? — with pull-down menus. I liked the stable, elegant black-and-white photographs on the history/accomplishments page, and I wish more of the site had that sort of calm stability — which is what I want from my political leaders.

As for the effort to rebrand the party to be all about young people, women, and minorities... It's kind of touching. Or lame. Funny? Awesome?

"The total mindless, morally bankrupt, knee-jerk, fascistic hatred, without which Michelle Malkin would just be a big mashed-up bag of meat with lipstick on it."

When you're accusing someone of hate speech, use the best hate speech you can muster. That way your target will seem all the more... d'oh!



October 13, 2009

"Senator Baucus has a big smile..."

"He must feel that his lengthy efforts have been rewarded by winning Senator Snowe’s support; think how grim this would look if she had gone the other way."

"Dylan plays things beyond straight, adhering to the syrupy, schlocky pop sounds of the pre-rock era...."

Bob Dylan's Chrismas album comes down the chimney.
When the star stumbles through "I'll Be Home for Christmas," he sounds like the family's disinherited black sheep embarrassment, delivering the sentiment as a threat rather than a promise. In "Winter Wonderland," when that treacly chorus coos, "We'll have lots of fun with Mr. Snowman," he sounds psychotic as he answers, "Until the other kids all knock him down!" And by the time he starts slaughtering the familiar Latin refrain of "Adeste fideles" -- "Venite adoremus Dominum" becomes, no kidding, "Benito adore-a-moose domino!" -- you don't know whether to wince or guffaw.

Santa Claus, Uncle Sam, Easter bunnies, and dispassionate judges.

A joke about judges, in a 1944 Supreme Court opinion:
All schools of religious thought make enormous assumptions, generally on the basis of revelations authenticated by some sign or miracle. The appeal in such matters is to a very different plane of credibility than is invoked by representations of secular fact in commerce. Some who profess belief in the Bible read literally what others read as allegory or metaphor, as they read Aesop's fables. Religious symbolism is even used by some with the same mental reservations one has in teaching of Santa Claus or Uncle Sam or Easter bunnies or dispassionate judges.

A lesson in personal freedom, from Rush Limbaugh.

From Part 2 of Rush Limbaugh on "The Today Show":
JAMIE GANGEL: What did you learn from rehab?

RUSH: You know, I actually thank God for my addiction, because I learned more about myself in rehab than I would have ever learned otherwise. There was a time where I desperately cared what people thought of me. Desperately.... Not professionally. I always somehow knew that that didn't matter. But personally. When you're worried about what people think, you stop being who you are.... And you start tailoring yourself to everybody else so that they'll like you.

JAMIE GANGEL: You don't worry what people think about you?

RUSH: Oh, I'd be insane if I did.


RUSH: I don't even give people the power to offend me.


RUSH: You cannot offend me.
That's not advice I need now, but it's advice that would have helped me tremendously if I had heard it and taken it to heart when I was younger. Do you worry about what people think and try to tailor yourself into the person you imagine they will like?

"Hey Todd..."

Caroline, Todd understands perfectly well what you are trying to do....

Via Instapundit ("Maybe this worked in 1978").

Getting by with half a brain.

It's not as bad as you might think.

"If I were Althouse..."

If you were Althouse, you wouldn't have to muse about what Althouse would write.

"Obama should be better than Cheney. But aides are not helping the president prevail in what ought to be an easy competition."

In The Nation, John Nichols slams the man he calls the "Whiner-in-Chief":
When Dick Cheney kept giving "exclusive" interviews to Fox "personalities," there were those of us who ridiculed both the personalities and the former vice president for going through the ridiculous exercise of lobbing softballs and swinging at them.... Cheney saw newspapers such as The New York Times and news channels such as CNN as little more than branches of his Democratic opposition.

When [White House communications director Anita] Dunn was asked whether the president refused to accept interview requests from Fox because the White House sees the network as "a wing of the Republican party," the communications director responded: "Is this why he did not appear? The answer is yes."
It's wrong of Obama to shun the media he perceives as oppositional, but it's even worse, Nichols says, "to try and 'whip' relatively like-minded writers and reporters into line." (Why did Nichols put "whip" in quotes? So we wouldn't picture Obama with an actual whip or because he really wanted to say "pussy-whip.")
[T]hat appears to be what the Obama team was trying to do with the silly "policing action" of having a White House "adviser," speaking on condition of anonymity, encourage liberal bloggers to "take off their pajamas" and get serious about politics...

The bloggers should also take the criticism as confirmation that they are right when they suggest that this administration is increasingly out of touch with the progressive base that secured Obama the Democratic nomination and ultimately propelled him to the White House.

The fact is that the results of the 2008 election did not reveal "a closely-divided country." Obama arrived at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue with the most muscular mandate accorded any Democrat since Lyndon Johnson's 1964 landslide.
("Muscular mandate"... I love that.)

IN THE COMMENTS: t-man said:
How can they say he had a mandate when no one even knew what they were voting for?
I think he's doing exactly what he got a mandate to do: vagueness, dithering, pleasing without really doing anything. Give the man some credit! That's why I voted for him.


If you get tired of it, can you eat it?

Christian Louboutin reportedly "found Barbie's ankles too fat."

"Never mind that Louboutin's people now insist it's not the ankles, but the arches, that the designer is making Mattel change on his new stick-legged Barbie. This could be the biggest scandal for the toymaker since Pregnant Midge."

Pregnant Midge? I had to look that up. Back in 2002:
The pregnant version of Midge, which pops out a curled-up baby when her belly is opened — has been pulled from Wal-Mart shelves across the country following complaints from customers, a company spokeswoman said Tuesday.

"It was just that customers had a concern about having a pregnant doll," Wal-Mart spokeswoman Cynthia Illick said.

She said the entire "Happy Family" set, which includes pregnant Midge, husband Alan and 3-year-old son Ryan, had been pulled from shelves of the world's largest retailer, which has about 2,800 stores and 500 warehouse club stores....

The pregnant Midge, who wears a tiny white wedding ring, has a detachable magnetic stomach that allows easy "delivery" of the baby, and comes with tiny crib, cradle, changing table, baby toys and even a tiny baby monitor. Alan and Ryan are sold separately. The baby also can get a first checkup from "Dr. Barbie," also sold separately.
How very much more shocking that the perception of nonexistent cankles!

Good lord, they beat you over the head with her marriedness. I should think that if you're concerned about girls having babies too young, Pregnant Midge sends a much better message than a plain old-fashioned baby doll. Holding a baby doll, your little girl is acting like an unwed mother. But new things upset us in a way that old things do not.

I'm #3.

Lawprof blog rankings.

October 12, 2009

"Hillary Clinton says she won't run for president again."

What an inaccurate headline!
Clinton, who lost the Democratic presidential nomination to Barack Obama, said "No" three different times when asked by NBC's Ann Curry "Will you ever run for president again? Yes or No?"

"This is a great job," Clinton said in the interview broadcast Monday. "It is a 24-7 job. And I am looking forward to retirement at some point."
That's not "no." Does that count as one of the "three different times"? When the question even includes a "yes or no" prompt and there's no "yes/no" then that means it's not not no or yes.
"... You know, I am not one of these people who feel's like I have to have my face in the front of the newspaper or on the TV every moment of the day. I would be irresponsible and negligent were I to say 'Oh no everything must come to me.'"
Of course, not. How could you? Say that, I mean.
"Now, maybe that is a woman's thing. Maybe I am totally secure and feel absolutely no need to go running around in order for people to see what I am doing. It is just the way I am. My goal is to be a very positive force to implement the kind of changes that the president and I believe are in the best interests of our country. But that doesn't mean it all has to be me, me, me all the time. I like lifting people up."
Until you feel like lifting Barack Obama up and heaving him out of the White House, where you know you belong.

ADDED: Here's the video...

... and — though the quote is missing from the article I read — she does say "No, no, no." Of course, I still don't believe her.

(Via Instaputz.)

Miss Indonesia, Qori Sandioriva, is being criticized for misrepresenting her region, which is Aceh.

"Islamic clerics ... say she should have worn a veil during the competition, in keeping with the traditions of her mother's province.... When asked about not wearing a veil during the competition, Ms Sandiorova said she believed hair is beauty, and that she is proud of beauty."

"The guy on the radio, having fun" — Rush Limbaugh.

As presented on "The Today Show":

"One thing I do that you won't find anywhere else in the media: I combine satire with serious commentary. I'm going to go back and forth within a moment's notice."

Yes, I love this about Rush. And it's something I think I do in writing on this blog (unbeknownst to Rush, apparently... at least if I am to be considered "in the media").  It's a matter of expecting your listeners/readers to be pretty smart and alert... to get it. It also means you're dropping quotes all the time that people who don't get you — and probably don't want to get you — can use to make you sound stupid/crazy/evil. I love the way Rush revels in that sort of thing.

(Via Real Clear Politics.)

"I am sick to goddamned death of the Obama administration. Give me an honest enemy any day over a snake in the grass."

A comment over at Pam's House Blend, where they are talking about the White House adviser who apparently conflated the gay community and "the Internet left fringe" and said something that has gotten paraphrased as "those bloggers need to take off the pajamas, get dressed, and realize that governing a closely divided country is complicated and difficult."

Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant testify about the completely out-of-control pursuit of hate speech in Canada.

I won't attempt to summarize. Listen to the testimony before Parliament's Justice and Human Rights Committee. What has gone on in Canada is truly revolting. The procedural abuses are astounding, and to think that it was all done for a goal that is itself illegitimate — crushing offensive speech.

ADDED: Steyn:
Why is this relevant to Americans? Because the superficial fluffily benign language of multiculturalism that comes so naturally to our rulers provides a lot of cover for the shriveling of free speech....
As Canadians have discovered, liberty is lost very quietly and quickly. And trying to get it back is slow and painful — particularly at a time when artists, universities, publishers, and others who congratulate themselves incessantly on their truth-telling courage find increasingly pre-emptive self-censorship the better part of valor.

"My understanding of the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy was that if I kept quiet about my sexuality and didn't break any rules, I would face no punishment."

"I was wrong."

Anita Dunn, the White House communications director: "We’re going to treat [Fox News] the way we would treat an opponent."

"As they are undertaking a war against Barack Obama and the White House, we don't need to pretend that this is the way that legitimate news organizations behave."

Good lord, they really are "the biggest bunch of crybabies."


I'm giving this post my "Obama the Candidate" tag, which means that the man needs to step past his candidate mode and recognize that he is the President.

"This Is It."

Posthumous Michael Jackson, streamable at the official site.

My observations — sorry, Michael:

1. The words are like one of those awful finale songs the write for "American Idol."

2. The singing is not up to your standard. Presumably, if you'd lived, you'd have rerecorded it with more of a feeling of style, varying between urgency and effortlessness, instead of continuing throughout at a medium level of strain.

ADDED: "Based on a tape Mr. Jackson left behind containing only his piano and vocals, a full arrangement was built, complete with swelling strings and his brothers’ backup vocals... It is not clear when the song was written or recorded... and Sony originally believed that the tape was made around the time of Mr. Jackson’s 1991 album 'Dangerous.' But it could have been much earlier, perhaps even as early as the album 'Off the Wall,' from 1979. 'We just found the song... It was titled ‘This Is It.’ It was in a box, and we listened to it.'"

So he didn't think it was good enough even to work on, let alone release. There are terrible penalties attached to dying suddenly, without putting your affairs in order. Artists, destroy the things you don't want to see the light of day:
Sony has rights to release any music Mr. Jackson recorded while under contract....
Oh, no....

"No one in our family can ever say anything obvious."

My son Jac said it in 1989 when he was 8, and my ex RLC blogs it now under the title "Obviosophobia."

And it would be obvious — yet wrong! — for you to observe that he misspelled "Obviosophobia."

Now, I'm checking up on R's blog, and I see he's into old quotes — even as he quizzes his 12-year-old son about regret. He remembers: "Someone once called my work 'beautiful but not important.'" Bearing out the truth of Jac's childhood remark, he adds "What a perfect description of this world!"

Are you afraid of not saying things like that?

"Suppose this year's Nobel Peace Prize had gone to the scores of Iranians now on trial for having protested the fraudulent re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last June."

"For the three defendants who were sentenced to death over the weekend, a Nobel might have made all the difference in the nick of time. At a minimum, it could have validated their struggle."

Late rising, and I apologize.

I'm very sorry not to have put up a new post yet and to have left you with the last one from yesterday all these hours. It wasn't as rude as a man wearing shorts on a plane, but it was rude of me to leave you with the image of him as you went to bed last night and then to still have him sitting here, his genitalia lightly veiled by a floppy hemline, as you rise in the morning.

October 11, 2009

My pet peeve, men in shorts, was Larry David's pet peeve in tonight's new episode of "Curb Your Enthusiasm."

Excellent. Larry also had trouble with doctors who won't give you their home phone number, people who eat more than their share of caviar at a buffet, the sound of the human voice, and the taste of food.

The episode began with Larry lighting into a guy in shorts who was sitting next to him on an airplane. Here I am on very subject of men in shorts on airplanes last April:
The guy seated next to me on the plane was wearing shorts. Presumably, he didn't recognize me (and know my anti-shorts writings), but wouldn't it have been funny if he did?

He was also wearing a t-shirt with a hole under the arm, which hole he displayed to me more than twice.

He was up to page 503 on his Stephen King novel. Those King books are clumsily thick, yet the print is quite large — to give readers a feeling of accomplishment?...

Don't wear shorts on a plane. You're in an air-conditioned environment and sitting close to a stranger. It's bad enough that your clothed thigh may touch the stranger sitting next to you. Don't wangle the naked thigh near her!
Her, I emphasize. Unlike Larry David, I was a woman sitting next to a man in shorts. Larry was also in first class. I was not. The degree of imposed familiarity was really atrocious. Plus, I think men should have more pride in their genitalia. By wearing shorts, what are you saying? Either: 1. your genitalia are too small to be in any danger of protruding beyond the hem of your skimpy garment, or 2. you don't care what happens to fall out.

For 11 years, as man-made carbon dioxide has increased, there has been no increase in global warming, the BBC observes.

What's happening to our world...  and our big theory about which, we were told, the scientists had reached consensus?

"If you want to know if an urban environment supports cycling, you can forget about all the detailed 'bikeability indexes'...'

"... just measure the proportion of cyclists who are female."

"Brit Fans Nuts For Squirrel."


That's one of those bizarrely ambiguous headlines they call "crash blossoms" over at Language Log:
"[C]rash blossoms" [are] "those train wrecks of newspaper headlines that lead us down the garden path to end up against a wall, scratching our head and wondering what on earth the subeditor might possibly have been thinking." Indeed, when such infelicitous headlines have come up here on Language Log, they have typically been discussed as examples of "garden path sentences."

Does SNL really deserve attention for poking fun at Barack Obama?

Is it that they're doing it at all? Because they are not doing it well! Was there any new or interesting observation in this? The writing is terribly dull. I won't listen again to get the quote exactly right, but — after saying he got the Nobel Prize for not being George Bush — he says something like "I've only not been George Bush for 9 months." But he's not a 9-month-old and he's never been George Bush. Couldn't you polish that into something like "I've only been President Not George Bush for 9 months"?

And could SNL hire somebody who can actually impersonate Barack Obama? Obama has so many physical and vocal mannerisms. It could be hilarious. And it's not like when Chevy Chase played Gerald Ford without any attempt at seeming like Ford, because Chevy Chase had a very appealing and funny personal style of his own and imitating without imitating was itself ridiculous. Fred Armisen isn't doing anything.

"Saturday Night Live" is boring and lame. Giving them credit for willingness to make fun of a liberal is like giving the Nobel Prize to Obama for not being Bush. Except much duller.

Al Gore spoke about global warming here in Madison on Friday. Saturday, it snowed.

Right now, it's 32°. Thanks, Al Gore, for your work in reducing global warming. You can ease up now.

Sorry. It's a cheap joke. I know. There's a difference between weather and climate, but you've got to know that poor Al is sweating out every cold snap. Every time it's not hot, it makes his scheme a harder sell.
"We're very close to that political tipping point," Gore said at the Society of Environmental Journalists annual conference at the Madison Concourse Hotel. "Never before in human history has a single generation been asked to make such difficult and consequential decisions."...

"I am optimistic," Gore said. "I think there has been a very powerful recognition, not only in this country, but in many countries, that there is a linkage between the climate crisis and the economic crisis and the national security crisis that is in part derivative of the world's ridiculous over-dependence on carbon-based fuels."
Really? I would have thought that the economic slowdown was good for his cause. Less production, less carbon emissions, right? They just don't say that because it would make people mad. It's like the argument that cigarette smoking (with the consequent death from lung cancer) saves the government money. (Social Security payments and so forth.) That upsets people.
Conservative groups led by Collegians for a Constructive Tomorrow and Americans for Prosperity held a demonstration Downtown that drew about 200 people, including U.S. Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, who also participated in the conference's panel discussion following Gore's speech. The demonstrators worried Gore's policies would push American jobs overseas.
200, in Madison?
In what organizers said was a rarity, Gore took half a dozen questions from journalists, including one from Phelim McAleer, an Irish filmmaker who asked Gore to address nine errors in his film identified by a British court in 2007.
I love the name Phelim McAleer. It supports that theory that people go into careers suggested by their names. (All the dentists named Dennis.) How so,  you ask? Phelim — that's how some people pronounce the word "film." My grandfather did. Dear old Pop.
Gore responded that the court ruling supported the showing of his film in British schools. When McAleer tried to debate further, his microphone was cut off by the moderators.
Well, good for Al for opening himself up to debate for 2 seconds. Now, quick, let's all ruin the economy some more the way Al Gore wants us to. As Obama likes to say, the time for debate is over.

ADDED: Video of the McAleer confrontation:

"Treat Big Environment the way you treat Big Business," McAleer advises journalists. Why are environmental journalists protecting the politician and not asking probing questions?

AND: "Gore's claim that the judge found in favor of his movie is ridiculous. The case was brought by a parent who objected to the film being shown to British schoolchildren on the ground that it is propaganda, not science. The judge found that An Inconvenient Truth 'is a political film' that is riddled with scientific mistakes. He held that as such, it would be illegal for the government to require the film to be shown in schools unless it was accompanied by 'guidance' pointing out that the film contains a number of scientific errors." Wow. How weaselly of Gore to point to that decision as making his point for him!

Obama on Don't Ask Don't Tell: "Do not doubt the direction we are heading and the destination we will reach."

Don't think that just because you elected the man who promised he'd give you want you want, you're going to get it right away. You'll get it some time. Your goal is out there in the future. We're heading toward it. We'll get there someday.

People who loved Obama The Candidate now have to face up to the fact that they elected Obama The Candidate, the Eternal Candidate. You might want him to wake up and know that now he is the President, but Obama The Candidate, Obama The Candidate... we thought that was so wonderful, and he would like you to please think it's still wonderful now?

I remember 40 years ago, when we had Richard Nixon for our President and he couldn't stop saying "I am the President." It was a ridiculous verbal quirk of his. Quite annoying. We knew he was the President. Did he have to keep rubbing it in? Did he think he could get more power by asserting that he was the guy with the most power? But we sure knew he knew he had the power.

Barack Obama is the opposite of Nixon. We feel like we need to keep saying to him: You are the President. He's not some random well-meaning good guy who's on our side. He has the power. He'd better be careful what he uses it for, but it's getting pretty annoying listening to him pretend that he's standing alongside of us observing the unfolding of history.