November 14, 2009

"Palin depicts the McCain campaign as overscripted, defeatist, disorganized and dunder-headed..."

"... slow to shift focus from the Iraq war to the cratering economy, insufficiently tough on Mr. Obama and contradictory in its media strategy."

Michiko Kakutani reviews Sarah Palin's memoir:
All in all, Ms. Palin emerges from “Going Rogue” as an eager player in the blame game, thoroughly ungrateful toward the McCain campaign for putting her on the national stage. As for the McCain campaign, it often feels like a desperate and cynical operation, willing to make a risky Hail Mary pass in order to try to score a tactical win, instead of making a considered judgment as to who might be genuinely qualified to sit a heartbeat away from the Oval Office.

"Frank Sinatra is downright fascinating — or what the youngsters would probably call 'cool'..."

"... He is beautifully casual with a bottle, bullseye-sharp with a gag and shockingly frank and impertinent in making passes at dames."

From the 1959 NYT review, written by Bosley Crowther, of the movie "Some Came Running," which is playing here in Madison tonight, and on the list of things we might do. Here's the 50s-era disrespect for the stuff I assume is the reason the cinemaphiles want to screen the film today:
[The story is] so oddly garbled that John Patrick and Arthur Sheekman, who did the script, have to go for a melodramatic shooting to bring it all to a tolerable end. And Vincente Minnelli, the director, who has kept it flowing naturally to this point, has to hoke it up with grotesque action and phantasmagoric stuff with colored lights. This isn't consistent with the foregoing excellence of design in color and Cinema-Scope, but it is not surprising in this mixed-up pattern.
Phantasmagoric colored lights and Frank Sinatra making passes at dames? What more do you need?
... Arthur Kennedy does a crisp and trenchant job of opening the shirt-front of a Babbitt and exposing a measly and rather pathetic boob inside.
The youngsters would probably call that a moob.

UPDATE: Movie seen and reasonably well enjoyed. Unlike Bosley Crowther, I loved Shirley MacLaine and thought Arthur Kennedy was awesomely bad. I laughed quite a lot at Kennedy though. He was bad and delivering bad lines that were supposed to be funny, and, by some strange math, that ended up funny.

"I think of reading like a balanced diet..."

"... if your sentences are too baggy, too baroque, cut back on fatty Foster Wallace, say, and pick up Kafka as roughage."

Says Zadie Smith in an analogy that makes me wonder if her writing is shit.

"No. 21 Wisconsin beats Michigan 45-24."

"Scott Tolzien tied a career high with four touchdown passes and scored on a sneak, and No. 21 Wisconsin made Michigan's miserable Big Ten season even worse with a 45-24 victory Saturday."

In the Marshland Café...


... we're serene and mellow, but you can stir things up.

Another accidental theme day?

Here in internet blog land.

"A pretty little pharmaceutical sales rep walking barefoot thru the jungle, in a bikini, whacking a rat until it’s dead. That’s not normal behavior."

"Therein lies one of the most beautiful things about Survivor. If forces people to confront truths about themselves they might otherwise never have to face."

Obama is bowing again.

This time to the Japanese emperor.

Power Line says:
Obama's breach of protocol is of a piece with the substance of his foreign policy.
Breach of protocol? Obama is establishing the protocol here. It is what he intentionally does, I would think. But it is fair to tie the gesture to Obama's general message:
He means to teach Americans to bow before monarchs. He embodies the ideological multiculturalism that sets the United States on the same plane as other regimes based on tribal privilege and royal bloodlines. He gives expressive form to the idea that the United States now willingly prostrates itself before the rest of the world. He declares that the United States is a country like any other, only worse, because we have so much for which to apologize.
That's rather exaggerated. To bow is not to prostrate yourself. Prostration looks like this:

The image of prostration is a religious one — and it is closely, though not entirely, associated with Islam. Did Power Line intend that association?

Bowing is a more modest gesture of greeting and respect, more like the American handshake. If a foreign emissary shakes hands in our country, I don't see the problem with our President bowing in a country where bowing is conventional. The question is whether he bows to a potentate who does not bow to him. Emperor Akihito did not bow to Obama, did he? And Obama did that extra-low bow, not that Japanese businessman thing or... oh, hell, what do I know of the details of Japanese bowing?! Here, it's a little complicated, but you'll be able to figure out exactly what sort of bow Obama did and what, perhaps, he ought to be doing....

Why did Joshua Basso — who was only looking for sex — keep calling 911?

According to the police report — he'd run out of minutes on his cell phone, so 911 was the only number that still worked.

ADDED: Poor Joshua! He just wanted to hear a voice of some kind. Got me thinking about "Talkin' World War III Blues," in which Bob Dylan's problem is not that he ran out of minutes but — it's kind of worse — there's been a nuclear holocaust:
I was feelin' kinda lonesome and blue,
I needed somebody to talk to.
So I called up the operator of time
Just to hear a voice of some kind.
"When you hear the beep
It will be three o'clock,"
She said that for over an hour
And I hung it up.

Yes, it was a wet dream — wet with John McCain's sweat.

Remember that hate email I got yesterday?
it was pointed out to me that you have wet dreams of Obama... now I understand the brain dead posts on your blog...
I now see where the emailer got that "wet dreams" idea. Over on Conservatives4Palin, there's a post that tries to deal with my "Sarah Palin is dumb." It flails without landing a blow, then dissolves into an inane rant about Kathleen Parker (who?) and how my real goal is to get on MSNBC and meet Keith Olbermann (huh?). Nearly at the bottom, right before the advising me to "pick a side of the road to drive on" — they know nothing of the joys of cruel neutrality — it has:
One more question, Ms. Althouse... Are you still seeing Barack Obama in your dreams? I am just curious.
That links to this old post of mine, from just before the 2008 election:
Have Barack Obama and John McCain turned up in your dreams? I've had one dream about each candidate now. A while back, Obama turned up in a dream. He was just a nice person who said hello. Last night, McCain finally turned up. He was wearing a thin, sweat-soaked shirt, and he angrily challenged me with a question about the war -- did I think it was almost over? -- and when I answered -- yes -- he stomped off and loudly declared that I had proved his point that everyone was getting that question wrong.
So there you have it. It was a wet dream. Wet with the sweat of John McCain.

November 13, 2009

At the Long Walk Tavern...


... you can talk all night.

"it was pointed out to me that you have wet dreams of Obama... now I understand the brain dead posts on your blog..."

The latest hate mail.

Which politician is the greater believer in his/her own cult of personality?

Barack Obama or Sarah Palin? If you had to say one actually believes the hype and the other is knowingly exploiting the nonsense, what would you say?

This is a hypothetical. Do not change the hypothetical. Answer the question asked.

"Now President Barack Obama is finally coming, and he's being greeted with 'Oba Mao' T-shirts and a statue of him that bursts into flames."

Obama — Oba Mao — goes to China. Oh, settle down! They're not saying he's a big old Communist:
"It's just kind of avant garde," Liu said of the images, saying they were no longer political, just fashion.
Lighten up. It's just fashion.

My secret is out!

(Thanks to Paddy O.)

A 13-year sentence for William J. Jefferson.

Oh! That's cold!

"Sirs, the smiles will leave your faces when the walls come tumbling in..."

We lady pirates stick together.

"I am the warrior..."

What I'm listening to right now...

... and it's not because I think a dirty libtard pirate whore is some kind of warrior. It's that I was just asked how to spell "worrier" and hearing "warrior," this song immediately played in my head. Having listened to it now, I feel quite fierce as I face a weekend of a dirty libtard pirate whoring.

So what do you think: Patty Smyth or Lady Gaga?

"Oh...did I mention Althouse is a dirty libtard pirate whore?"

Oh, no!

Let's talk about Lady Gaga.

This is great fun. Make sure you watch all the way to the end. It's funny. Great costume changes too.

Ooh, that really was a bad romance. Love the shoes.

A big religion-themed dorm for the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

It will be a private dorm, part of Pres House, which is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church, so we are not dealing with the constitutional problem of tax money flowing into a religious organization. Still, the Freedom From Religion Foundation — which is based here in Madison — expresses concern, through its president Annie Laurie Gaylor:
"It creates walls between students, this idea that they need to be protected from the real world and cocooned together... Is that really why you come to a university, to be with people like yourself?"

Kelsey Wolff, a member of the student ministry at the Pres House, said it wasn't that simple. Wolff, who will be a senior this fall, said she had a hard time in the "party dorm" she was assigned as an underclassman and would have appreciated a faith-based option.

And Wolff said the idea of a separate dorm for students who wish to focus on religious issues didn't mean those students had to segregate themselves from campus life. Students in the new dorm, she said, will take classes, go to ball games, explore State Street and join campus organizations, just like any other student.

"They're still going to get all of that exposure, but at the end of the day they're going to be able to come home," she said. "They'll just have their space where they're away from that."
The university already has "specialized dorms or floors within dorms where like-minded students can live together, including those with a foreign language immersion or a math and science focus." Is there something wrong with these specialized dorms — or with some types of specialized dorms? Is it wrong for students to want a home base that's somewhat cocoony? But not all students who choose themed dorms are trying to replicate their childhood homes. Some seek the challenge of adapting to a new environment. Consider the foreign language dorms. Sometimes it's part of trying to excel in your studies: They want to be near people who are taking the same courses.

But the religious dorm creates the impression that the students are trying to live among less sinful people — or at least among people who will feel guilty about sinning. Is there something wrong with that? But is that what's going on with the new UW dorm?
Pres House board member Tom Schwei said the new dorm would be open to students from any and all faiths, not just Christian ones. Residents won't be required to take part in any of the planned programs -- such as informal discussions about religion, mission trips on academic breaks or weekly church services -- but they should expect to have them offered, Schwei said.
Well, then, what is it all about? The dorm is looks as though it will really nice, and the location is fabulous.  And what are Presbyterians going to do to you, anyway?
"It's not going to be a high pressure environment," he said. "But people shouldn't be too fooled. There is a Presbyterian church sitting right next door. They're going to hear some Presbyterian singing. We are going to continue to grow."
Ha ha. Presbyterian singing.  Look out. I remember it from my youth, when my family went to Presbyterian church. My father was a terrible singer — despite the fact that he looked like Frank Sinatra — and he sang very loud. I thought good singing was loud singing. Imagine how embarrassed I was when I found out that was not the case — and that I too was a bad singer!

Anyway, the Presbyterian days ended when I was about 10 years old, and we moved to a new neighborhood where there was a new church, an Episcopalian church, with a young vicar who befriended everyone including my parents. He was convivial, so we became Episcopalians.
Schwei said the "core" of the new dorm experience would be "personal discovery."

"Being in college is a period of self-exploration and learning and discovery," he said. "We would like to facilitate that for people who are really interested in doing that seriously."
That's awfully nice. I appreciate the super-nice religious sects. And I'm glad the students are getting a nice new option among all the many Madison options.

Jeffrey Rosen asks whether the Supreme Court might find the Stupak Amendment unconstitutional.

But first: Caption contest. This is the picture TNR uses to illustrate Rosen's article. May I draw special attention to Scalia's left-hand gesture?

Now, here's the serious part:
Let’s imagine that it’s impossible to pass a health care bill without a version of the Stupak amendment. Might the Supreme Court strike the amendment down? In upholding the Hyde amendment in 1980, the Court stressed that Congress could refuse to subsidize medically necessary abortions because it left “an indigent woman with at least the same range of choice … as she would have had if Congress had chosen to subsidize no health care costs at all.” By contrast, the Stupak amendment doesn’t leave self-employed women who receive federal subsidies with the same range of choice: It makes it much harder for them to find alternative coverage for abortion and therefore, in practice, leaves the federal government less neutral toward abortion than even the Hyde amendment. For this reason, it’s possible that some liberal Supreme Court justices might conclude that the Stupak amendment violates the Constitution. But this argument is unlikely to convince a majority of the Roberts Court, which means that pro-choice Democrats shouldn’t count on the Court to bail them out.
I think Rosen is right. The answer depends largely on who's on the Supreme Court. "[S]ome liberal Supreme Court justices might conclude that the Stupak amendment violates the Constitution," and the question, then is: How many liberal Justices will be on the Court when the question comes up? We'll call it "the Roberts Court" as long as John Roberts is Chief Justice, but the current balance of liberals and conservatives, plainly, is open to...

... change.

Sarah Palin is dumb.

By her own words, Sarah Palin is dumb. Here's the excerpt of pages 255-257 of "Going Rogue: An American Life":
By the third week in September, a “Free Sarah” campaign was under way and the press at large was growing increasingly critical of the McCain camp’s decision to keep me, my family and friends back home, and my governor’s staff all bottled up. Meanwhile, the question of which news outlet would land the first interview was a big deal, as it always is with a major party candidate.

From the beginning, Nicolle [Wallace] pushed for Katie Couric and the CBS Evening News. The campaign’s general strategy involved coming out with a network anchor, someone they felt had treated John well on the trail thus far. My suggestion was that we be consistent with that strategy and start talking to outlets like FOX and the Wall Street Journal. I really didn’t have a say in which press I was going to talk to, but for some reason Nicolle seemed compelled to get me on the Katie bandwagon.
Why didn't you have a say? There's that "really" hedging: You didn't really have a say. You're pleading passivity and impotence but you want us to think you have what it takes to be President of the United States?
“Katie really likes you,” she said to me one day. “she’s a working mom and admires you as a working mom. She has teenage daughter like you. She just relates to you,” Nicolle said. “believe me, I know her very well. I’ve worked with her.” 
It is inane to be swayed by this blather. Most of Palin's opponents would probably say the same sort of thing — or at least would have said the same thing at the time, back before any negative stories about her family had appeared. Isn't it lovely that Sarah Palin has a nice husband and kids and she has a great job too?

Women have been patted on the head like that for years. It does not express more profound respect. Indeed, it often betrays disrespect under the surface. If — back when my sons were children — someone had told me that he was impressed by my work as a law professor because I was a "working mom," I would have felt insulted. Perhaps he only meant well, but I would make a mental note to be suspicious of him. The famous Samuel Johnson quote would spring to mind: "Sir, a woman's preaching is like a dog's walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all."

If Sarah Palin did not see the limited value of Nicolle Wallace's comment about Katie Couric, then she is too pollyannaish and unsophisticated to be trusted with presidential power. Couric is a pussycat compared to the world leaders who will smile and exude pleasantries and then stab you in the back.
Nicolle had left her gig at CBS just a few months earlier to hook up with the McCain campaign. I had to trust her experience, as she had dealt with national politics more than I had.
Had to trust? Because of your limited experience? Who else would you trust? Wallace was pushing for her own former employer, CBS! Her recommendation of Couric had an element of self-interest and should have been discounted.
But something always struck me as peculiar about the way she recalled her days in the White House, when she was speaking on behalf of President George W. Bush. She didn't have much to say that was positive about her former boss or the job in general. Whenever I wanted to give a shout-out to the White House’s homeland security efforts after 9/11, we were told we couldn’t do it. I didn’t know if that was Nicolle’s call.
Why didn't you know? Why did you trust this person? Why do you now think it makes you look good to blame her for your traipse into the lioness's den?
Nicolle went on to explain that Katie really needed a career boost. “She just has such low self-esteem,” Nicolle said. She added that Katie was going through a tough time. “She just feels she can’t trust anybody.”
Katie has low self-esteem?! Bullshit! Anyone with the stuff to be President would have said bullshit. Or something like: Look, I'm running for Vice President. I can't be distracted by some TV diva's need for an emotional boost. Not unless I know it will translate into making me look great. But how would that work? Her boost is only likely to come if she makes me look terrible. Even if she has low self-esteem, #1, I don't care, it's hardly a pressing issue I need to be thinking about, and #2, that makes her more dangerous to me. She can't trust anybody? Well, I don't trust her. And Nicolle, how can you even present me with such an argument that is so specious on its face?
I was thinking, And this has to do with John McCain’s campaign how?
Nicolle said. “She wants you to like her.”
She wants me to like her or she wants America — especially the media elite — to like her? Come on, Nicolle, Katie Couric can't be that much of a sad sack. And if she is, I don't want to be seen with her.
Hearing all that, I almost started to feel sorry for her. Katie had tried to make a bold move from lively morning gal to serious anchor, but the new assignment wasn’t going very well.
You know who I feel sorry for? Kim Jong Il. I'm afraid he's lonely.
“You know what? We’ll schedule a segment with her,” Nicolle said. “If it doesn’t go well, if there’s no chemistry, we won’t do any others.”
Chemistry? What is this, a date — perhaps just a coffee, so that if you don't like her it will be over soon, and you won't need to see her again?
Meanwhile, the media blackout continued. It got so bad that a couple of times I had a friend in Anchorage track down phone numbers for me, and then I snuck in calls to folks like Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity and someone I thought was Larry Kudlow but turned out to be Neil Cavuto’s producer.
She had trouble getting phone numbers? She "snuck" around, relying on friends? Like it's a Nancy Drew caper. And did she not see the downside of allowing right-winger to draw her out? That wasn't fair to McCain. McCain's people locked her down? Did she think carefully about their reasons? Does she think carefully about anything? Why did she agree to be McCain's running mate? She won't take responsibility for her own difficulties.

Apparently, they were afraid you were not ready, and they were right, so why didn't you trust them or at least accept that you owed them control over the presidential campaign? You agreed to take the subordinate position, and you had to know that their reasons for picking you had to do with image and style. If you weren't prepared to do it their way, you should not have accepted the part. At the very least, you should not have been mystified about the way they were treating you. You should have been looking at the campaign strategy from every angle and building your sophistication, not just aching to burst free and expose yourself to the world — which, as you soon learned, did not go well.

It seems that Sarah Palin wasn't able or didn't want to bother to analyze whether she was ready to debut on the big media stage, and she wasn't large-minded enough to think beyond herself to what it would mean for the whole campaign. That is, she was dumb. She was too dumb to handle campaign responsibilities properly, so she was clearly too dumb to step into the role of President of the United States.

Could she build up her political intelligence? Might she have it now or by 2012? If these 2 pages of  "Going Rogue" are any evidence, she is displaying her weaknesses all over again, and she is still too dumb to be President. And, most scarily, she doesn't know how dumb she still is.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed — the alleged 9/11 mastermind... will go to trial in federal court in NYC.

The WSJ says that announcement, from Attorney General Eric Holder, will come today.
Mr. Mohammed has claimed authorship of the attacks, but he has also accused U.S. interrogators of torturing him. U.S. officials have acknowledged the use of harsh tactics, including water boarding, a technique intended to simulate drowning, which Mr. Obama and other government officials have called torture.
So he is the confessed mastermind of 9/11, but the court, bound by the usual precedents, may need to exclude the confession. If the Obama administration believes this was torture, then surely it was the sort of coercion that will require the exclusion of the confession. I assume the administration has worked out how to deal with this problem. But how? Imagine Mohammed acquitted!

President Obama said:
“I’m absolutely convinced that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed will be subject to the most exacting demands of justice... The American people insist on it and my administration insists on it.”
The most exacting demands of justice bind the government too. And I'm absolutely convinced that Professor Obama knows these 2 sides to that assertion of his. But do you think the American people insist that Mohammed's confession be excluded if after the same pressure to confess, a common criminal's confession would be excluded?
Documents have shown that the CIA used waterboarding — a controlled drowning technique — against Mr. Mohammed 183 times in March 2003. Mr. Nashiri is one of two other detainees known to have been waterboarded before the Bush administration shut down the program, which high-level officials had approved after the Justice Department wrote legal memorandums arguing that the president, as commander-in-chief, could authorize interrogators to bypass anti-torture laws.
And what of this trial in NYC? The federal courthouse is in lower Manhattan, not far from Ground Zero. Perhaps the citizens want the trial where they can see it, or do they fear the creation of an unnecessary terrorist target in their midst? The linked NYT article says NYC is different from those other places where people fretted about such things:
In March, for example, when the administration prepared to bring Ahmed Kahlfan Ghailani, a suspect in the 1998 bombings of United States embassies in Africa which killed 224 people, to face trial there, Senator Charles Schumer, Democrat of New York, reacted with equanimity, saying that the city was well-accustomed to handling high-profile terror suspects.

“Bottom line is we have had terrorists housed in New York before,” Mr. Schumer said at a March news conference at the Capitol with other Democratic leaders. “They’ve been housed safely.”

Mr. Schumer at the time pointed to the “blind sheikh” Omar Abdel Rahman, convicted in connection with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, as an example. “The main concern is bringing these terrorists to justice and making sure the public is safe,” Mr. Schumer said. “I have faith that the administration will do both.”
So if we believe the assertions of Chuck Schumer, then NY really is different. Meanwhile, there is the courtroom that the Bush administration built in Guantánamo, absolutely isolated from American citizens.

CORRECTION: The orignal title included an incorrect reference to "Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri — the alleged planner of the USS Cole bombing." He will not be tried in NYC.

November 12, 2009

Nidal Hassan had business cards identifying him as: "soldier of Allah."

"It doesn't say he's about to go out and shoot a bunch of people, but there's something not quite right for an Army major to self-identify that way."

"The McCain campaign dissed Sarah Palin, muffled her, and then stuck her with a $500,000* legal bill...."

"Mrs. Palin writes that the $500,000* was the legal bill for vetting her to be John McCain’s vice presidential nominee, according to the Associated Press, which purchased an early copy of the book. After the election, when she asked if the campaign would help her financially, Mrs. Palin says aides told her it would have been covered if the ticket won. Since they lost, it was her responsibility."

Other tidbits:
She says the campaign refused to let her rewrite the statement announcing her teenage daughter’s pregnancy, instead issuing remarks that Mrs. Palin thought glamorized the pregnancy....

She writes that she sat down with Katie Couric in part because she felt sorry for her, after Nicolle Wallace, a McCain aide, said Ms. Couric suffered from low self-esteem....

ADDED: An Oprah clip:

Watch CBS News Videos Online

* UPDATE: The NYT story, quoted and linked at the beginning of this post, has now knocked a zero off the number:
An earlier version of his post incorrectly said that Mrs. Palin accused the McCain camp of presenting her with a $500,000 legal bill, instead of the actual amount of $50,000.

Smoldering landscape.

"Looks like the day after a battle."

"Did we just stumble into a forest fire?"

"Pretty exciting!"

Shortly thereafter, we ran into the forestry worker who was managing the burning — "prescribed fire" — there in Cherokee Marsh, and he explained how he did it and why. Black cherry trees are always threatening to clutter up the space under the big oaks, and red osier dogwood, if left to their own devices, would turn the marsh into a place where the cranes can't walk.

ADDED: A still:


At the November Rose Café...


... we're fading, but slowly, and we are still very beautiful.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor says: "the problem with every test is that you can find an exception that makes the application ridiculous."

Doesn't that just make you want to think of a rule that does not require an exception to avoid ridiculousness? Then aren't you intrigued by the paradox that you will have just come up with an exception to her rule (about the need for exceptions to avoid ridiculousness), and that will simultaneously support and undercut her rule?

Or you can just think about whether there should be a clear test for determining a corporation's "principal place of business" for the purposes of §1332 diversity jurisdiction or whether it would be better to use a multi-factor approach?

A "senior administration official" leaked that Obama is rejecting all the Afghanistan war options presented by his national security team.

The Obama administration continues its dithering and leaking.

"Larry, you're being inappropriate" — Carrie Prejean to Larry King.

"You're being extremely inappropriate."

"[C]urio cases, taxidermy and other stylish clutter of the Victorian era have been taken up by young hipsters..."

Jeez, I never know what to believe when I'm reading about "hipsters" in the New York Times.
... he saw a young man dressed in a bowler, cape, breeches and knee socks on the Lower East Side.

“We’ve already seen the comeback of the butcher and the baker,” he said. “Next thing is going to be a hipster candlestick maker.”...

Country and city men alike have rediscovered old-school American brands like Filson, Orvis, L. L. Bean and Duluth Pack. Obsolete hobbies like wet-plate photography are finding new enthusiasts; long-outmoded farming practices are being revived. Even deer hunting with old-fashioned muzzleloaded rifles, which have to be loaded with gunpowder, a musket ball and a ramrod, has come back in force in some states.
When I read style pieces like this, the first thing I always think about is The Great Grunge Hoax of 1992. But then, I'm not a hipster. I'm a member of the tom-tom club.

"I knew I could count on you!!! You’re my hero!!!! My knight in shining armor!!! My private porn star!!!!!"

Everyone's laughing at the email idiots at Cornell. No one can wring out a drop of sympathy, because the "private porn star" and the woman who types exclamation marks are each married to somebody else.

(Via Instapundit.)

ADDED: Love that sex talk:

Now, get back on that horse.

What is it like to be a black man in China? Mark Okoth Obama Ndesandjo — Obama's half-brother — is asked.

He's answering questions this hour over at WaPo. This exchange touched me:
Anonymous: I'd be interested to hear about your experiences as a black person in China. Have you encountered any difficulties? Have things changed since you first moved to China seven years ago, and if so, how?

Mark Okoth Obama Ndesandjo:
Thank you for your question. In my book, there is a scene where Spring (David's love) visits a Shenzhen orphanage for the first time. In a room filled with 60 cots, baby in each cot, she puts out her hand to one of the babies in the cot. Its big, black eyes look up at her and it grasps her finger and refuses to let go.

This happened to me too. The baby didn't think of black or white or yellow or brown. I have lived in Shenzhen for almost seven years. I speak the language and am married to a Chinese woman. Speaking for myself, I have generally been very happy while I have been here. The key is to have an openness and curiosity about the culture and it very much helps to give back or help those in need.
He didn't really answer the question. I remember the notorious Newsweek exposé of racist babies, but I'm sure the questioner had nonbabies in mind. Ndesandjo made an elegant decision not to talk about the worst things that had happened to him, I think. Over the years, various Chinese adults must have said bad things, snubbed him, discriminated against him, or threatened him. He doesn't say they didn't. He doesn't say everyone's been just wonderful. He says he's "generally been very happy" — note the generally. So I assume he's got his collection of racial anecdotes, and he chose not to go there. He spoke of the babies at some length, then shifted to the subject of the things he has done to connect with the people — marrying a Chinese woman, speaking the language, being open to the culture, and doing charitable acts. These are all things he has done for the benefit of others.

It's a contrast to the way his brother addresses the subject of race:
... my white grandmother — a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.
Barack Obama displays his collection of personal racial experiences for us to contemplate. He doesn't eclipse them and — like Ndesandjo — deflect the subject to our shared humanity and what we can do for others. And yet, I don't know what Ndesandjo would say if we had the opportunity to listen to him longer, if he were already embraced and given trust and power, and — most importantly? — if he were living, not in China, but in the United States. And Barack Obama himself moved into power and gained our trust by speaking of shared humanity and service to others.

"200 One Dollar Bills."

Parlayed into 43,700,000 dollar bills.

ADDED: Poor Andy!

He's not around to enjoy the fabulous joke of his pictures of money grabbing so much money. And yet, the price of the painting is affected by the fact that Andy Warhol is dead. How did he die? Not from the bullet wounds, the scars of which you can see in that painting (by Alice Neel). He died after a gall bladder operation:
His condition was stable after the operation... but he had a heart attack in his sleep...
It was 1987.
In 1968... a would-be follower shot and critically wounded Mr. Warhol at the Factory....
He lived almost 20 years after the assassination attempt, and then he died mysteriously, at the age of 58.
He never denied his obsession with art as a business and with getting publicity; instead, he proclaimed them as philosophical tenets.

"Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art," he said on one occasion. On another, he said: "Art? That's a man's name." As widely known as his art and his own image were, however, Mr. Warhol himself was something of a cipher. He was uneasy while speaking about himself. "The interviewer should just tell me the words he wants me to say and I'll repeat them after him," he once said....

In his glancing and elliptical style, Mr. Warhol wrote about subjects ranging from art to money and sex. "Checks aren't money," he wrote in one section of the book. In another, he said: "Fantasy love is much better than reality love. Never doing it is very exciting. The most exciting attractions are between two opposites that never meet."
What would he say if he could have seen the price grabbed by "200 One Dollar Bills"? What do you want him to say?

November 11, 2009

At the Iris Inn...


... let the conversation unfold.

"Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy Forcibly Guest-Edits High School Newspaper Article About His Own Visit."

But now wasn't it so nice of him to stop by and teach the children about law... with a whole counter-example object lesson?

The chimp attack victim surfaces on "Oprah."

Here's the story, where you will find a second link that will take you to the picture. I've looked at the picture, but you might not want to. You can't unsee it after you've seen it.

At the Lakeside Larch Café...


... you can glide along aimlessly.

Pointed, pointless questions.

You — I mean YOU — do realize that in the context of the post you are mocking "Why has the United States sent this woman?" is a thought satirically attributed to Merkel and Sarkozy? Or, oh, hell, what does it matter? Why actually read and understand anything written by people who are on my shit list? Clue: Those last 2 questions were thoughts satirically attributed to you.


I know I can't do much about the anti-Althousians misreading me, but do I assume too much from readers? Am I too elliptical? It's a style choice not to explain everything. It's beyond a style choice. It's a demonstration of faith in the capacity of readers. That faith is the spirit that keeps me going here. I want to be the writer that has that faith. But there are times when I have a crisis of faith. There are times when I look at how readers respond and I want to say: I'm kind of surprised you even read the Althouse blog. What's the point?

"Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi scored a giant gain for feminism last weekend."

"In shoving her controversy-plagued healthcare reform bill to victory by a paper-thin margin, she conclusively demonstrated that a woman can be just as gritty, ruthless and arm-twisting in pursuing her agenda as anyone in the long line of fabled male speakers before her. Even a basic feminist shibboleth like abortion rights became just another card for Pelosi to deal and swap."

Ha ha. Camille Paglia's column is up.
... Pelosi's hard-won, trench-warfare win sets a new standard for U.S. women politicians and is certainly well beyond anything the posturing but ineffectual Hillary Clinton has ever achieved.
Paglia loves the macho approach to achievement, but what happens when the seeming victory deflates? It will deflate, won't it? If it doesn't deflate in 4 hours, call your doctor.

Not that Paglia loves the healthcare bill. She does not:
This rigid, intrusive...
Call the police!
... and grotesquely expensive bill is a nightmare.... Massively expanding... Steel yourself for the deafening screams...  jammed, jostling anterooms....
I'm screaming already. The government needs to stop jamming our anterooms. 
Obama sure needed a lift and got it from Pelosi. The administration has seemed to be drifting lately. Obama has dithered for months about a strategy for Afghanistan -- another rats' nest we should pull our troops out of overnight. Then there was the bizarre disproportion in Obama's flying to Denmark to flog a Chicago Olympics yet not having time to make it to Germany to celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall -- which suggests a frivolous provincialism as well as ignorance of history among the president's principal advisors. And Obama's muted response to last week's massacre at Fort Hood has exposed ambiguities and uncertainties in the U.S. government and military about how to respond to homegrown militant Islam. The presidency is a heavy burden -- a prize that can become a curse.
You'd think that the man who was once seen as a master of political imagery would not have allowed himself to generate so much material to fit that very specific and negative template.

"Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton are coalescing around a proposal to send 30,000 or more additional American troops to Afghanistan..."

... but Obama hasn't coalesced with them yet, supposedly....
... President Obama remains unsatisfied with answers he has gotten about how vigorously the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan would help execute a new strategy, administration officials said Tuesday.

Mr. Obama is to consider four final options in a meeting with his national security team on Wednesday, his press secretary, Robert Gibbs, told reporters. The options outline different troop levels, other officials said, but they also assume different goals — including how much of Afghanistan the troops would seek to control — and different time frames and expectations for the training of Afghan security forces.
He must go through his famous thoughtfulness routine....

The sexual power of Carrie Prejean.

I've been checking my Site Meter quite a few times in the last day. I've been pleased and then a little ashamed of myself as I see the phenomenal power of one particular post title to attract search engine traffic. This post was originally titled "Things the Site Meter dragged in." I've tweaked it a little to make my point. I'm not traffic-greedy — not too much. Just trying to make my point.

While I was hanging out on Site Meter, a couple other things got my attention. It's my general policy not to respond to bloggers who attack me — otherwise it would be a traffic-building strategy to attack me — but I do make exceptions as the whim strikes me. So, let's look at what Roy Edroso — of Alicublog and the Village Voice is saying about me.

He takes my Carrie Prejean post and intersperses it with comments in fisking fashion, and I'm going to fisk it back at him. Ready?
THE OLD DARK HOUSE. Hadn't been over to see the Ann Althouse site for a long, long while, but I retain a soft spot for her, so when tipped today by the Perfesser (with the irresistible tease, "Teenager? Is TMZ threatening to post child pornography?") I took a chance. Professor Althouse was talking about the Carrie Prejean sex tape:
But TMZ — I don't read it much, but, again, I'll guess — does not itself parade as Christian. Prejean does, and so she will be held to the high standards of Christianity, while TMZ can say and do whatever it wants. ("When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. ")

TMZ is following Rule 4 of Saul Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals":
Scripture and Saul Alinsky? This explains so much: Althouse is The Anchoress!
Despite his inclusion of that St. Paul quote, Edroso cuts my quote of Alinsky's Rule 4, which happens to use Christianity as the example of the effectiveness of demanding that your enemies live up to their own rules. Alinsky wrote: "You can kill them with this, for they can no more obey their own rules than the Christian Church can live up to Christianity." It's hardly some odd quirk of mine to combine scripture and Alinsky. Edroso, in his usual fashion, looks for ways to make me look flaky — along with the other bloggers he's made it his business to mock. (The link to The Anchoress hints at Edroso's approach. Check out his latest Village Voice column for a more comprehensive example of how he works.)

Back to Edroso:
This argument that hypocrisy doesn't exist for the Elect...
What argument? Where did I argue that Christians aren't responsible for hypocrisy? I simply don't.
.... is by now an old rightwing favorite....
So just pull it out of you frumpy bag of liberal complaints about right-wingers. I thought you were trying to fisk my post, Roy. But, no, I'm either this distinct writer that you love to make fun of or I'm indistinguishable in the blurry mass of rightish bloggers that you've looked at before and have grown weary of squinting at.
... and the quality of Althouse's reasoning hasn't changed much from the old days.
Well, you haven't come close to nailing anything I've said in this post, so why bother to be specific about anything I've said in the past? You can't even read the post currently in front of your face, yet you think everyone already knows what it is I've said in "the old days." Maybe Roy is tired and on autopilot. But maybe, as he worked his way through what I'd written, confident in his ability to spew snark, he saw that my post actually cohered and that it was pretty damned sharp and funny, and he consciously decided to blur his observations so he could still get his post up. The poor wilted man. The option of actually liking what I'd written is inconceivable within the little framework he's built for himself. What would happen to that Village Voice gig?
But the Jesus stuff was a shock. I went down into her comments...
He couldn't figure out anything to say about what I wrote — "the Jesus stuff" — and, desperate, he dove into the comments looking for something repulsive. What he came up was from Florida, a specific, familiar commenter here:
... a quick scan suggests that the old let's-pretend liberals (what were their names, again? Rainbow? Sunshine?) seem to have fled or outed themselves, and the remnant are leaving stuff like this:
What's difficult as hell to do is to live up to the standards that would be set up for Christians by the butt-buggering sodomites. The rapists of 13-year-old children.

Christians could never live up to the sodomites' expectations.

Thankfully, though, Jesus doesn't require that. And we know they'll spend eternity burning in hell.

So at least there's that comfort.
"Jesus stuff"... "stuff like this"... Roy is not editing and dealing with sloppy word repetitions, and, worse, he's not bothering to figure anything out. It's just stuff. He found the most unsightly quote and then — without reason — counted on his readers to believe that it exemplifies what is generally in the comments at my blog. How utterly flabby and lame.

Now, as for the comment he cherry-picked, Edroso has no idea what it means and makes no attempt to figure it out. He has not, like the regular comment readers here, been exposed to the way Florida writes and the things he writes about. He doesn't know about Florida's longstanding Roman Polanski theme — which began here and which involves a fair amount of antagonism toward me. It's likely that Edroso thinks he's come across some rabid homophobia, but, in context, I know that "butt-buggering sodomites... rapists of 13-year-old children" refers to Polanski and the Hollywood-type liberals who've defended him. Florida's comment is not part of a mass of "stuff like this" in the comments. It's something particular, incisive, and satirical, and, if you are going to focus on it, you'd better take some time to figure out what it means. But Edroso is happy to see something that looked like shit and to splatter it onto his post and then, childishly, to demand that onlookers see how ugly things are over at Althouse.
Amazingly, Althouse is still removing comments...
Huh? Where did that come from? What comments does he think I've removed? He's trying to pin that one comment on me by asserting that I moderate the comments, so that anything that is left, I've approved of. That is either a lazy mistake or a nasty lie. My approach to the comments is well known: I have a strong free speech policy, and I leave vile things in. To imply that whatever is left has my stamp of approval is cheap and unethical.
... perhaps because they don't come up to the standards of this gem, or because they're actually messages from her employers trying to reach her because her phone has gone dead and her windows are boarded up.
He ends with a comic image, intended as a play on my name, the "old house" that he's used in his post title. Unfortunately, he hasn't built the foundation for what could have been a well-written joke. The material he thought he had just wasn't there.
Den Beste isn't still blogging, is he?
Roy makes a second attempt at humor, and, while I'm familiar with Den Beste, I have no idea why this is supposed to be funny. Althouse is The Anchoress... Althouse is Den Beste? Everything is melting in the mind of Roy Edroso.

Willful silence before the unwilled silence.

No last words from John Allen Muhammad.

November 10, 2009

"The Most Depressing Movies of All Time."

"Precious, the story of an abused, illiterate, impoverished, morbidly obese teen mother looks… difficult to watch, to say the least. We'll suck it up and see it anyway, of course, not just because the movie's getting good reviews and garnering Oscar buzz for Mo'Nique, of all people, but because we've had excellent training in these types of situations. See which other movies left us a blubbering heap on our living room floors, but prepared for more miserable viewing battles nonetheless."

Do we have to go see movies that get excellent reviews when we know they are going to be an immense drag? Or must we generate a better excuse? Like, "Precious" might be racist.

"How to Make a Baby."

How to Make a Baby from Cassidy Curtis on Vimeo.

I loved that. So vivid and quick. But "Oh god. I don't know why, but that really viscerally freaked me out. Intellectually, I'm sitting here thinking I shouldn't have found that upsetting, but for some reason I'm really distressed. I really didn't like that and I don't know why."

"It's like I've been terrorized by this for years."

"I wanted to take them to task. I didn't want to settle and pay them. I told them that they weren't going to get a penny from me. I didn't care if I ended up homeless because of this."

No longer among the living.

John Allen Muhammad.

The color of late fall.




What word frequently found in profusion in Obama's speeches is entirely absent from his Fort Hood speech?


Also missing: me, my, mine.

I heard the criticism — from my husband Meade who is reading the speech alongside me — that the Fort Hood speech needed another draft, because there was too much use of the passive voice. I suspected that a special effort had been made to eliminate the first person singular. Obama is often criticized for using the word "I" too much. There are Obama critics who will count the word "I" in speeches and triumphantly announce the number. This criticism is a bit superficial. More significant is the way Obama speaks as if everything is all about him. Just this morning, I just knocked him for exactly that. Whoever wrote the Fort Hood speech must have been hyperfocused on protecting Obama from the usual criticisms. Appropriately so. It was a memorial for the dead. It would have been especially embarrassing for Obama's personal egotism to show on this occasion. But the intense effort to avoid it shows. He could afford to avoid it less conspicuously, and he ought to avoid it more consistently.

IN THE COMMENTS: With a fine eye for detail, Brian noted:
There was one self-referential moment. At Fort Hood he says: "You may remember the stories of a grandfather who marched across Europe..."
At 2004 Dem convention he said: "The day after Pearl Harbor my grandfather signed up for duty; joined Patton’s army, marched across Europe."
Ah! Truly, someone went over this speech very carefully to scrub it of the first-person singular.

Obama at Fort Hood: "It may be hard to comprehend the twisted logic that led to this tragedy."

"But this much we do know — no faith justifies these murderous and craven acts; no just and loving God looks upon them with favor.  For what he has done, we know that the killer will be met with justice — in this world, and the next."

A fine speech. Read the whole thing. Based on this quote, I'll raise one question. Did Obama purport to know what God thinks?

On first reading, my answer was yes. He was saying that God disapproves of the massacre — which means, implicitly, that Hasan's (apparent) religious beliefs are false — and that God will punish Hasan in the afterlife.

On second reading, I saw the room to deny that Obama purports to know what God thinks. If "no just and loving God looks upon [the massacre] with favor," it is still possible that God is not just and loving. Perhaps Hasan's (apparent) idea about what God likes is correct, in which case Obama is critical of God. And "the killer will be met with justice" in "the next" world, but what is "justice"? Hasan presumably believed that God would be pleased, in which case, God's justice would be a reward.

Now, I am not saying this because I think Obama secretly shares Hasan's evil beliefs about God. I'm saying it because I appreciate the subtle way in which the speech avoids claiming to know the mind of God. That is elegant and beautiful. Good religion.

A Mad Magazine artist draws 540 caricatures for an iPhone app with info about the members of Congress.

Like this:

And Apple rejects it, saying:
Thank you for submitting Bobble Rep – 111th Congress Edition to the App Store. We’ve reviewed Bobble Rep – 111th Congress Edition and determined that we cannot post this version of your iPhone application to the App Store because it contains content that ridicules public figures and is in violation of Section  3.3.14 from the iPhone Developer Program License Agreement which states:

“Applications may be rejected if they contain content or materials of any kind (text, graphics, images, photographs, sounds, etc.) that in Apple’s reasonable judgement may be found objectionable, for example, materials that may be considered obscene, pornographic, or defamatory.”...
Ridicules public figures?! What is wrong with Apple? The artist, Tom Richmond, says:
This is truly ridiculous. These caricatures aren’t mean or very exaggerated. They are simple, fun cartoon likenesses of the politicians and the purpose of the app is a informational database. There is no editorial commentary involved at all.

This is the very reason that Apple as a company should be taken to task over its ludicrous and inconsistent app approval policies. Clearly this app does not “ridicule public figures” and is violating nothing, but Apple has decided the world must be protected from the insidious subversiveness this would force upon the public and the brutal, heinous ridicule that my cruel, cruel caricatures would subject these politicians to.
Well, I would have defended him even if the caricatures were cruel, so this is simply absurd.

On the up side, I'm sure Apple will reverse on this one, and Richmond is getting some great publicity, including this little contribution of mine, which I am happy to give.

(Link via Don Reisinger.)

"The FBI knew for nearly a year before his murderous Fort Hood rampage that psycho Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan had repeatedly contacted al Qaeda..."

"... but the blundering agency last night admitted it dismissed the lead."

For nearly a year? Then it's Bush's FBI too.  Disgraceful.
The FBI said Hasan -- who faces a court-martial -- first turned up on its radar in December 2008.

That's when he sent 10 to 20 e-mails to several terror-related Islamic figures, including Anwar Aulaqi, a radical imam from Virginia who has been openly propagandizing for al Qaeda in Yemen and who had ties to several of the 9/11 hijackers...

But no alarm bells went off because the communications were consistent with Hasan's research into how US combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan affect civilians, officials insisted. The e-mails never made explicit threats or discussed plots, they added....

Federal sources admitted that Hasan was so off their radar by that point that they hadn't even been aware of his gun purchases in Texas in August.

Investigators say they were still operating on the theory that Hasan, 39, acted alone.
Yeah? And what are they missing now?

"Few would have foreseen … that a united Germany would be led by a woman from Brandenburg or that their American ally would be led by a man of African descent."

President Obama delivers inapt remarks by video. 

Bizarrely echo-y video. He's in a cozy room at the White House. Where is that echo coming from? They needed to tweak it so it would sound right amplified outdoors — would sound like he was there. But he was so not there. And now the video with the inappropriate reverb will reverberate forever on line.

Also at the link, you can see Hillary Clinton's remarks. She's there in person, surrounded by space that makes the echo-y effect seem natural and right. And yet, she too seems wrong. Because she is not the President. We see shots of Merkel and Sarkozy, looking glum. They are the leaders of their respective countries. Why has the United States sent this woman? This woman lost the Presidency to that man who won by posing right here at the Brandenburg Gate... or no: Obama tried to pose right here at the Brandenburg Gate when he went to Berlin during the campaign, but Angela Merkel said no, and poor Mr. Obama was forced to do his Berlin-posing at the Victory Column. And now, he's here at the Gate at last, via inapt, inappropriate video through which the grim visage of Chancellor Merkel cannot stare. The German woman who opposed him will have to stare at the American woman who opposed him. Ha ha. Few would have foreseen.…

The Carrie Prejean "sex tape."

Ah, what a world we live in.
Carrie Prejean, some might remember, is the California beauty queen who gained instant ignominy in some circles by agreeing with President Obama's ridiculous notion that marriage is a union between one man and one woman....
The story is well-told at the link. Go there. I'll just highlight this:
[T]he high-powered, celebrity website TMZ claimed to have a sex video of the beautiful Prejean that was so outrageously explicit it hasn't posted it yet. But people can feel free to keep clicking back there every few minutes to check.
It's all about the page views...
Prejean replied -- insert teasing pause here -- yes, there was a tape she had done as a teenager. She made it for a distant boyfriend whom she loved at the time. She said TMZ can call it a "sex tape" if it wants. But she was alone on the video and no one else was in the room.
Teenager? Is TMZ threatening to post child pornography? In any case, what is it? Embarrassing topless nonsense?
Prejean said it was the "biggest mistake" she'd ever made in her not-yet-lengthy life. She regretted it. She felt mortified talking about it, but it was her own fault. And that as a Christian she'd never claimed to be perfect.
You know, what is even imperfect here? I don't see anything unChristian about displaying your breasts to a boyfriend that you love. It's just foolish to allow photographs to come into being. But it's not unChristian to be foolish. (Saint Paul said: "We are fools for Christ.")

Now, trying to destroy the young woman over political disagreement and tormenting her by threatening to invade the intimate space between her and her lost young love... I'll hazard to guess: That's not Christian.

But TMZ — I don't read it much, but, again, I'll guess — does not itself parade as Christian. Prejean does, and so she will be held to the high standards of Christianity, while TMZ can say and do whatever it wants. ("When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. ")

TMZ is following Rule 4 of Saul Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals":
Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules. You can kill them with this, for they can no more obey their own rules than the Christian Church can live up to Christianity.
That's true. It's difficult as hell to live up to the standards of Christianity. But if the issue is living up to Christianity, let's talk about what Christianity really is. I'll start: It's not about teenage girls showing their breasts to their boyfriends.

November 9, 2009

A mellower swamp.



ADDED: Once again, Chip:

Chomp ahoy.

Animation of my photograph by Chip Ahoy. Witticism for the title of this post by Meade.

"Packed into cubicles with 5-foot-high dividers, the 300 unarmed soldiers were sitting ducks."

Details of the Fort Hood massacre.
Around 1:30 p.m., witnesses say a man later identified as Hasan jumped up on a desk and shouted the words "Allahu Akbar!"—Arabic for "God is great!" He was armed with two pistols, one a semiautomatic capable of firing up to 20 rounds without reloading....
Those who weren't hit by direct fire were struck by rounds ricocheting off the desks and tile floor.
I've been trying to understand why all those soldiers — I know they were unarmed — were not able to stop Hasan, how minutes passed, and it took the arrival of the civilian police to end the carnage. I thought that after the Virginia Tech shooting, it was well-known that the shooting would go on and on and that waiting was not a good strategy. Police Sgt. Kimberly Munley, the police officer who did take Hasan down, "had trained on 'active shooter' scenarios after the April 2007 mass shooting at Virginia Tech University." Why weren't the 300 soldiers also able to respond? How could our soldiers be set up as "sitting ducks" — arrayed and accessible to a man who had made it known that he wanted to kill them?


The headline of the story is "But for heroes, bloodbath could have been worse."
Pfc. Amber Bahr, 19, of Random Lake, Wis., tore up her blouse and used it as a tourniquet on a wounded comrade. It was only later that she realized she'd been shot in the back, the bullet exiting her abdomen.
Great. I'm impressed. But I'm not distracted. The bloodbath could have been worse. Noted. But couldn't it also have been less bad?

"I just can't believe that he's the one who killed all those people."

"You know, he tipped every girl as she came off the stage after her dance. He was a really good tipper."

So Nidal Malik Hasan liked to pass time in a strip club. Are we supposed to be surprised? I don't think it's surprising. He didn't know what to do with women:
He steered clear of female colleagues, co-workers said, and despite devout religious practices, listed himself in Army records as having no religious preference....
"He came to mosque one or two times to see if there were any suitable girls to marry," Khan said. "I don't think he ever had a match, because he had too many conditions. He wanted a girl who was very religious, prays five times a day."...
A co-worker at Walter Reed said Hasan would not allow his photo to be taken with female co-workers, which became an issue during Christmas season when employees often took group photos. Co-workers would find a solo photo of Hasan and post it on the bulletin board without his permission.
Men who don't know what to do about women.... we should be more suspicious of them than we are. And by the way, why was an Army officer allowed to be openly discriminatory toward women in the workplace? Some inane idea about diversity and celebrating difference?

"In its effort to race John Allen Muhammad to his death before his appeals could be pursued, the state of Virginia will execute a severely mentally ill man who also suffered from Gulf War Syndrome the day before Veterans day."

Said the lawyer for John Allen Muhammad, who will be executed tomorrow night, the Supreme Court having turned down his request for a stay.
Justices John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor objected to the court's haste, saying it "highlights once again the perversity of executing inmates before their appeals process have been fully concluded."

Stevens, writing for the three, said Virginia had short-circuited the process by scheduling Muhammad's execution for Tuesday night, earlier than the court would normally have reviewed his petition for the court to take his case.
Not that they said they wanted to hear the case. They didn't. That's empathy for you.

The diet where you can eat what you want but you have to...

... photograph it.

"Mind-blowing sex: American woman suffers amnesia after intercourse."

"The 59-year-old woman, known only as Alice, had the worrying experience after she and her husband Scott had sex last August. She suddenly, albeit temporarily, lost all memory of the last several years and the ability to form new memories."

This is "transient global amnesia," which "can be triggered by strenuous activities, bowel movements, or – commonly – sex." Sounds awful. If you're going to get it, at least get the sex kind.

At The Midday Café...


... be sharp and take notice of what's before your eyes.

"I don't care about pollution/I'm an air-conditioned gypsy..."

"That's my solution/Watch the police and the taxman miss me!"

Politically incorrect lyrics from 1971.

Back in 1991, when the Utne Reader proposed that people start holding salons...

Did you want to do it? Did you try? If not, why not? I was just too timid, but I dearly wanted to have a salon here in Madison. Really, in many ways, this blog, with its comments section, is a variation on what I hoped to have back in the 1990s.

You can read the original Salon-Keepers handbook here.
Ideally the gathering will take place in someone's home, in a space just large enough to seat the entire group in a circle....

Feel free to invite anyone you think would enjoy the conversation and contribute to the group. Salons can be as small as 5 or 6 people or as large as 20 to 30. A salon in San Francisco called A New American Place has grown to 80 participants....

The convenor invites the guests, provides the location, arranges the refreshments, etc. The facilitator, who could be the same person, initiates the conversation, modulates its tone, guides its direction and focus, remains aware of the time, draws out the meek, and gently but firmly quiets the boor, while witnessing and participating in the process....
Reading further into these suggestions, I can see why I didn't want to do it — at least not this way. It sounds too much like a therapy group or a political meeting. I don't like the way there is a leader. It's not subtle enough, not social enough, not... oh, everything seems wrong. And yet, I longed for something.
The facilitator should check for the group's readiness to formulate a vision and mission. This could take several meetings, especially if the group is large and the objectives of its members are diverse. Members could be invited to write their suggestions for a vision and mission statement to be distributed and discussed at the next meeting.
Ugh! Terrible! Even the word "meeting" irritates me.


No, no... I pictured something else, something fluid and aimless, existing in the present, rich and amusing in itself.

"Once I got past being mortified..."

"I can laugh about a lot of this now..."

(This story is a lesson in the consequences of failing to seek medical attention when something is wrong.)

Hey, kids, come play in the “neutering fun and safe environment.”

From the L.A. Parks Department, where they're into "achieving gender equality through a continuous commitment to girls and women in sports."

"U.S. intelligence agencies were aware months ago that Army Major Nidal Hasan was attempting to make contact with people associated with al Qaeda..."

ABC reports:
It is not known whether the intelligence agencies informed the Army that one of its officers was seeking to connect with suspected al Qaeda figures....

One senior lawmaker said the CIA had, so far, refused to brief the intelligence committees on what, if any, knowledge they had about Hasan's efforts....

On Sunday, Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) called for an investigation into whether the Army missed signs as to whether Hasan was an Islamic extremist.
We are lucky it is Joe Lieberman who is in the position to force this investigation.
Investigators want to know if Hasan maintained contact with a radical mosque leader from Virginia, Anwar al Awlaki, who now lives in Yemen and runs a web site that promotes jihad around the world against the U.S.

In a blog posting early Monday titled "Nidal Hassan Did the Right Thing," Awlaki calls Hassan a "hero" and a "man of conscience who could not bear living the contradiction of being a Muslim and serving in an army that is fighting against his own people."
In war, traitors are heroes to the other side.  But it is a challenge for us to remember that we are at war. Of those now in power for us, Joe Lieberman manages to remember. Who else? Leon Panetta? Have we heard a peep from him in the past week? Apparently, not.

"I think the internet encourages a kind of acedia...."

"... an increasingly listless wandering that can exacerbate a frenetic soul. Fasting from it, whether wholly or in a lurking state that calms our need to say something to everything, can be wonderfully re-centering."

On the occasion of vbspurs's reemergence in the comments — Paddy O. — tells us about an a sin we may not have heard of.

"Tear down this wall."

"To know what the West stood for during most of those years, one merely had to go to Berlin, see the Wall..."

"... consider its purpose, and observe the contrasts between the vibrant prosperity on one side of the city and the oppressive monotony on the other. Those contrasts were even more apparent to the Germans trapped on the wrong side of the Wall. Barbed wire, closed military zones and the machinery of communist propaganda could keep the prosperity of the West out of sight of most people living east of the Iron Curtain. But that wasn't true for the people of East Berlin, many of whom merely had to look out their windows to understand how empty and cynical were the promises of socialism compared to the reality of a free-market system."

November 8, 2009

Hasan "should have been gone," says Joe Lieberman, chair of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security.

Lieberman promises to ask the hard questions about why Nidal Malik Hasan was tolerated despite warning signs. And let no one be in denial: The warning signs were beyond clear.
Major Nidal Malik Hasan, the gunman who killed 13 at America's Fort Hood military base, once gave a lecture to other doctors in which he said non-believers should be beheaded and have boiling oil poured down their throats.

He also told colleagues at America's top military hospital that non-Muslims were infidels condemned to hell who should be set on fire. The outburst came during an hour-long talk Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, gave on the Koran in front of dozens of other doctors at Walter Reed Army Medical Centre in Washington DC, where he worked for six years before arriving at Fort Hood in July.

Colleagues had expected a discussion on a medical issue but were instead given an extremist interpretation of the Koran, which Hasan appeared to believe....

Fellow doctors have recounted how they were repeatedly harangued by Hasan about religion and that he openly claimed to be a "Muslim first and American second."

One Army doctor who knew him said a fear of appearing discriminatory against a Muslim soldier had stopped fellow officers from filing formal complaints.

Another, Dr Val Finnell, who took a course with him in 2007 at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Maryland, did complain about Hasan's "anti-American rants." He said: "The system is not doing what it's supposed to do. He at least should have been confronted about these beliefs, told to cease and desist, and to shape up or ship out. I really questioned his loyalty."
It is pathetic not to be able to distinguish between discrimination again Muslims and seeing that something is wrong with a particular individual who is a Muslim. It is thoroughly inept to think you have to choose between fighting terrorism and avoiding invidious discrimination.

It would seem that the Army was vulnerable to Rule 4 of Saul Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals":
Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules. You can kill them with this, for they can no more obey their own rules than the Christian Church can live up to Christianity.
Of course, we should live up to our own rules. The key is to have good rules and not to distort your own rules out of fear of erring in one direction when there are multiple interests at stake. I imagine that Hasan thought his colleagues were complete idiots to let him get away with the outrageous things that he — a psychiatrist! — said.

At the Orange Leaf Tavern...


... it's very quiet tonight. Bring your special cheer.

It was deliciously warm today.


We shared a pint.

Maybe sandhill cranes like rap music.

This was out by Lake Mendota yesterday:



Post not posted.

Often, a post of mine begins as an attempt to figure something out. I think by writing, because then I get stuff written. And it's bloggy. And it helps me keep track of various complicated elements of what I'm trying to think about as I go along. Many posts are easily written, because there's not that much to figure out. But some of the most time-consuming posts are ones where what's figured out is that there's nothing interesting. And this blog is all about interestingness (as judged from my perspective). Hence, no post. Sorry!

Now, go out and play.


Or stay here and talk. Figure out complicated things, or make it easy on yourself. For example: What did you eat for breakfast? We had hush puppies!

Needing to give up something, the Democrats gave up abortion rights.

"If enacted, this amendment will be the greatest restriction of a woman's right to choose to pass in our careers,' said Representative Diana DeGette, Democrat of Colorado, one of the lawmakers who left Ms. Pelosi's office mad."


Here's Dennis Kucinich explaining "Why I Voted No." He says nothing about access to abortion services.

The Fort Hood massacre was rhetorical flourish as Obama urged House Democrats to vote for health care.

His idea was: Soldiers make sacrifices for the good of the country, so congressional Democrats should put their concerns about the next election aside for the good of the country.
“He was absolutely inspiring. In a very moving way, he reminded us what sacrifice really is,” said New Jersey Rep. Rob Andrews, estimating the persuader-in-chief turned several votes.

“Sacrifice is not casting a vote that might lose an election for you; it is the sacrifice that someone makes when they wear the uniform of this country and that unfortunately a number of people made this week,” said Andrews.

“It made a lot of people feel a little less sorry for themselves about their political problems,” he added. “This is an emotional time for a lot of our folks politically, but this is politics and I think he correctly pointed out what’s a heck of a lot more important.”
I'm trying to imagine the political environment that Washington Democrats occupy. A President glibly lays out that analogy, and it is received — without any wincing or taint of disgust — as awesome inspiration. These are the minds that will be making decisions for us for quite a while.