November 21, 2009

In the Last Geranium Night Club...


... the music is soft and sweet and the lights are deep purple.


At the New Tree Restaurant...



... you can talk about trees, shoot the breeze, have some wine and cheese, do whatever you please. Dig in!

"Democrats Clinch Vote on Health Debate."

In case you want to talk about it. I'll just be over here in a corner curled up in a little ball.

And the viral diavlog hits...

... the NYT.

Andrew Sullivan has discovered the Michelle Goldberg/Ann Althouse diavlog.

He says "Michelle Goldberg gets it." Fine, but did he get as far as this clip, where Michelle says something that makes me say, "You hear that, Andrew?"?

Goldberg went to Wasilla to report for The Nation during the campaign, and there she heard the wildest rumors but the one thing nearly everyone agreed about was: "Yes, we all know that Trig is her baby."

ADDED: I know Sullivan wants me to check out his list of "lies." I picked one to check out, that she said the only flag in her office was the Israeli flag. As Sullivan himself notes, she must have meant to say the only foreign flag, since she did also have an Alaskan and an American flag in her office. That's the sort of sloppy speaking that one would correct easily if it were pointed out at the time. Of course, I also have the state flag and the American flag. I mean, it would be pretty ridiculous for a state governor to only have a foreign flag! There isn't even a motivation to lie.

That there's no motivation here doesn't mean it's an "odd lie" — which is Sullivan's term. It means it's not a lie at all. What's odd is his definition of a lie. If I said I was just wearing jeans to a party, you wouldn't have exposed me as a liar if I turned up wearing a shirt and shoes as well. In fact, you'd sound like a dork — or, with good enough delivery, a comedian — if you said, "You liar. You said you were just wearing jeans!"

Calling something like this a lie marks you as someone who's centered not on finding out what is true, but on destroying someone. It doesn't motivate me to go through the rest of the long list systematically to see what each item is about, and it certainly doesn't make me want to look at the list and accept the conclusion that wow, Sarah Palin really is a terrible liar.

ADDED: Little Miss Attila is afraid to watch the diavlog, and naked Tom Maguire devises what would be a traffic-grabbing title, if anybody ever Googled that.

The Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists.

"The Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists (LFHCfS) is a club for scientists who have, or believe they have, luxuriant flowing hair."

Said the President to the 1,500 troops in camouflage uniform: "You guys make a pretty good photo op,"

I'm thinking he said it with knowing — perhaps even self-deprecating — humor, but still, extracted and quoted on Drudge, it looks awful.

Also at the first link: "President Obama will not announce his decision on sending more troops to Afghanistan before the Thanksgiving holiday, senior aides said Thursday." The news is no news. It would be funny — in a Generalissimo Franco is still dead kind of way — if it weren't so not funny.

Steven Pinker talks to Robert Wright.

On Bloggingheads. They're talking about language and evolution.

The AP, describing a case the Supreme Court recently turned down, writes: "the school valedictorian strayed from an approved text to provide a graphic account of Jesus' crucifixion..."

That piqued my curiosity, and not just because I teach "Religion and the Constitution" and want to know about the cases in the area. I wanted to know just how graphically a high school girl would describe the crucifixion in front of the assembled graduating class.
During McComb's speech at the Foothill High School graduation in 2006, officials turned off McComb's microphone when the school valedictorian strayed from an approved text to provide a graphic account of Jesus' crucifixion and credit God for her success in school.
How much piercing and blood-spurting and agonizing pain are we talking about? Did she go all "Passion of the Christ" on them? How long did the school authorities let her go before they freaked out about the Establishment Clause (or the deviation from the approved text) and kill the microphone?

Here's the video. Jesus comes up just after 2:00, when the student, Brittany McComb says "God's love is so great that he gave us his only son..." — and the microphone dies right there. Come on! That wasn't graphic. It wasn't even an account. And — since many Christians would think that God's giving us Jesus means the life he lived with us — it may not even refer to the crucifixion!

Is "The White House Butler" an outrageously racist headline?

There's been some discussion here in Madison, Wisconsin, where former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Louis Butler is a visiting professor at the law school, about whether that headline, on a Wall Street Journal editorial, is racist. The editors begin:
As consolation prizes go, Louis Butler can't complain. After being twice rejected by Wisconsin voters for a place on the state Supreme Court, the former judge has instead been nominated by President Obama to a lifetime seat on the federal district court. If he is confirmed, Wisconsin voters will have years to contend with the decisions of a judge they made clear they would rather live without.

Judge Butler served on the state Supreme Court for four years, enough time to have his judicial temperament grow in infamy. Having first run unsuccessfully in 2000, he was appointed by Democratic Governor Jim Doyle to the seat vacated by Justice Diane Sykes in 2004. But after serving four years, voters had seen enough of his brand of judicial philosophy, making him the first sitting justice on the Wisconsin Supreme Court in four decades to lose a retention election last year.
The editorial proceeds with a few paragraphs about how liberal Butler supposedly is and concludes: "Mr. Butler's nomination shows the dominance of liberal ideology in Mr. Obama's judicial selections, and especially a contempt for Wisconsin voters."

Now, my position is that the President of the United States, under the U.S. Constitution, has the power to appoint federal judges, and therefore he can choose liberal or conservative judges as he sees fit. If they are well enough qualified — which includes the requirement that they have a judicial temperament and are committed to legitimate legal methodology — the Senate should confirm them. This is why I supported George Bush's nomination of Samuel Alito:
Those Democrats who are already insisting that Judge Alito's record on the bench makes him unacceptable should keep in mind that someday they, too, will have a president with a Supreme Court seat to fill, and it would serve the country well if that president wasn't forced to choose only among candidates with no paper trail. To oppose Judge Alito because his record is conservative is to condemn us to a succession of bland nominees and to deprive future presidents of the opportunity to choose from the men and women who have dedicated long years to judicial work.
So Louis Butler has a liberal record as a judge. Obama is the President. I don't see the problem with confirmation.

But are the Wall Street Journal editors to be condemned as racist? I guess I need to nail down the point that Butler is African American. That's never mentioned in the editorial. Some of the people I have heard from are absolutely committed to the conclusion that the headline "The White House Butler" is undeniably and outrageously racist.

Now, it occurs to me that the person who came up with that headline may not even have known that Butler is black. It's not in the editorial, and I think headline writers tend to work with what's in the article. Here, the headline writer might have simply tried to come up with some play on the last name and didn't have to go very far to come up with the idea of a butler serving in the White House to insinuate that the judge would be doing Obama's bidding — carrying political ideology into the court.

The conventional image of a butler is quite white:

Those who see racism in the headline — because of the juxtaposition of "Butler" and "House"? — may perhaps be thinking of the idea of the "house negro and the field negro," as famously explained here by Malcolm X:

(Written text here.)

But there is nothing about Louis Butler's position in relation to Barack Obama that is at all like the "house negro" that Malcolm X opposed. And you'd have to stretch to say that the editorial insinuates that he is. You'd have to portray Obama as "the master" and the people of Wisconsin as the "field negroes." It's just too much to read into the editorial. You sound silly even saying it.

But that's not to say that the Wall Street Journal didn't lay a trap for Madison liberals. Maybe they knew they were putting in just enough resonance with racism to bait university types into crying racism. And if they do, as noted, those professors will sound silly, because there is nothing racial in the entire text of the editorial. And what will the people of Wisconsin think — those voters who twice rejected Louis Butler as a state judge — if they learn that Madison professors find outrageous racism in that headline?

What will the Wisconsin voters think?

Thank you for opening my eyes about racism.

One more reason to see Madison as a lefty enclave. free polls

"New Consensus Sees Stimulus Package as Worthy Step."

How do economists reach consensus? Do they confer and corroborate like climate scientists? Or is the consensus achieved through a newspaper editorial process of strategically collecting quotes and designating the speakers as "dispassionate"? Or is it more a matter of slapping a headline on an article that doesn't make a convincing case for consensus at all?

Or are my questions — they're only questions! — too cynical? Consider the sublime hedge phrase "worthy step." If Barack Obama were the captain of the Titanic, would the New York Times call rearranging the deck chairs a "worthy step"?

"They always understood that they might someday be called to account for that conduct and always have been prepared to accept full responsibility for it."

"They have done so today."

Walter K. Myers, 72, and Gwendolyn Steingraber Myers, 71, step up and take responsibility for 30 years of spying for Cuba, motivated by "conscience and personal commitment."

By the way, Walter Myers is the great grandson of Alexander Graham Bell.

Ravenous hunger for Sarah is making even Hoosiers nasty.


What's going on? Things move from good to bad so quickly, like Woodstock to Altamont. This could be the most beautiful evening...

Thinking outside of the billboard.

More here.

"Say hi to forever" — the last blog post of Daul Kim.

The highly successful fashion model killed herself by hanging.
"I already accepted that I relate to nothing. The more I gain the more lonely it is ... I know I'm like a ghost."
Ah, but wait! I know she is already dead, but here is the blog: I Like to Fork Myself. It's not all depression and death. And many of the blog posts begin with the words "say hi," and it's not always in a dark or sarcastic way. Here's "say hi to insomnia put to good use." There's a charming picture of pancakes, and the text is:
making breakfast.

im going to be a good wife !!!!!!!!!!!!
She writes about her reactions to art and film and music. ("Say hi to forever" is a post with a music video.) She doesn't come across as morbidly self-absorbed. She seems intellectually alive. There's "say hi to sadist masochist" — "shel silverstein... you kinda fucked me up in a beautiful way" — about Shel Silverstein's "The Giving Tree." She seems to have some distance and humor about fashion: "say hi to where strange things meet" ("diiiiiioooooooooor dioooooooooooooooooooor kouttttttuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuure"),  "say hi to a saturday afternoon at bianca's" ("yeah this is how i/dress when im at my friends place/i wear louis barthelemy/as you can see/i dont really care about comfort ..."). If I were a regular reader of this blog, I would have seen an interesting, complex person. I wouldn't have known I was watching a person in the final steps of a dance with death.

Who around us is taking their final steps? Would we notice?

It depends on what the meaning of "trick" is.

"You can't tell what they are talking about. Scientists say 'trick' not just to mean deception. They mean it as a clever way of doing something - a short cut can be a trick."

November 20, 2009

November sunset.


That thing in the sky looks like a Blakean comet that has something like this in it.

"After work I would race back home, not even eat or take a shower, and just go back to the computer for fear of losing whatever inspiration I had."

Sweet success for Adam Young.

We're listening to "Fireflies," here.

At the Things Looked At/Things Consumed Café...



... you can make up your own mind.

(Photos taken today at David Bacco Chocolates, where Meade had the Mayan and I had the White Violet.)

Bookstores that won't sell "Going Rogue"? "Our customers are thinking people. They're not into reading drivel."

That's Nathan Embretson, a bookseller at Pendragon Books in Oakland.
There's not a single copy on the shelf. Embretson said no one has asked for it except for one guy, who was kidding.

"He said he wanted to look at it but he also said he didn't really want to read it," Embretson said. "Anyway, he certainly didn't want to buy it. I think he regarded looking at it as a kind of punishment."
"Anything like that we wouldn't carry," said clerk Emily Stackhouse. "We're a small store and it would probably gross us all out. Some things you carry because of freedom of speech, but a book like that is just gross."

One customer did put in a special request for the book one evening but, perhaps thinking better in the light of day, failed to show up and actually pay money for it, Stackhouse said.

Killing people for their fat.

Is there really an international market in human fat? Three men who have confessed to the crime say the going price is $60,000 a gallon. (They say it is used as an ingredient in cosmetics.)

"It's not like you're going to be walking down State Street in Madison or walking in downtown Milwaukee and there's going to be compassion centers or dispensaries every other door."

"I just don't think that's going to happen."

The medical marijuana bill's sponsor just doesn't think that's going to happen. All right then.
Medical marijuana is sold under catchy names like Space Queen, Blue Dream, Purple Urkel and Train Wreck, and health-conscious users are gravitating toward vaporizers rather than smoking.
Great! Health-conscious folk with doctors notes are using Space Queen, Blue Dream, Purple Urkel and Train Wreck. Focus on health! Thank God they're not smoking!

Obama drops to 49%.

"Of the post-World War II presidents, Obama now is the fourth fastest to drop below the majority approval level, doing so in his 10th month on the job. Gerald Ford dropped below 50% approval during his third month in office, and Bill Clinton did so in his fourth month. Ronald Reagan, like Obama, also dropped below 50% in his 10th month in office, though Reagan's drop occurred a few days sooner in that month (Nov. 13-16, 1981) than did Obama's (Nov. 17-19, 2009)."

IN THE COMMENTS: Titus says:
Normally I don't believe polls because they are liberal and biased but this one I definitely support.

thank you and good day fellow republicans.


A storm is brewing.

Did you know it's a good idea to plant trees in the late fall?

A nursery delivery this morning at Meadhouse:


Nice work by Steve and Claudio of Johnson's Nursery.

First, big, lovely elm. It's a New Horizon elm, a disease-resistant cultivar developed here at the University of Wisconsin:


And over on the other side of that place Wisconsinites call the "terrace," a serviceberry:


The trees will settle in over the winter. We'll watch them through the windows. (Meade placed them to make the best views from particular windows where we sit inside. That's the right way to do it, you know.) We'll watch the snows come and go and look forward to the beauty of spring. But today, at Meadhouse, it already looks like spring.

Forget the medical treatments. Forget even the pain pills.

We'll save even more money if we just get these women who are bitching about pain to hold their boyfriend's hand or look at a picture of their kid.

The ideas for savings to the health care system are endless! We know already, of course, about the great new idea of not looking so closely at those breasts. What we don't know won't cause us anxiety, and if cancer should come, the later we discover it the better, because there is nothing like death to stop us from running to the doctor for every little thing.

And those silly Pap tests that had us thinking we needed a pelvic exam every year? The official word has come that you don't need that testing so early or so often:
Young women are especially prone to develop abnormalities in the cervix that appear to be precancerous, but that will go away if left alone. But when Pap tests find the growths, doctors often remove them, with procedures that can injure the cervix and lead to problems later when a woman becomes pregnant, including premature birth and an increased risk of needing a Caesarean.
And talk about expensive! Premature births and Caesarean sections? Wouldn't it be so much nicer for everyone if women would man up and give the old vagina a go? And if the baby dies? Think of how many trips to the pediatrician will be avoided. Why spend so much on preemies anyway? Surely, the new guidelines on extra-tiny humans will yield nice savings.
There are 11,270 new cases of cervical cancer and 4,070 deaths per year in the United States. One to 2 cases occur per 1,000,000 girls ages 15 to 19 — a low incidence that convinces many doctors that it is safe to wait until 21 to screen.
Oh, now, don't go all squishy on that one-in-a-million 15 year old girl. We've got to get costs under control. And if, by some quirk of fate, she happens to be your little girl, the experts are here to tell you that you will feel quite a bit better — surprisingly so — when you look at an old photograph of your lost child.

Come on, be honest. Don't you want the federal government to have a complete overview of health care? The potential rationality is stunning. And one thing in this emerging rationality is clear: Although women tend to love the notion of government control more than men do, it is women who will be told they'll have to cut back. On treatments. And years. You know we've been taking more than our share.

"We sort of have well-placed objects in front of the frontal...There's like hockey sticks, shirts..."

No, those are badly placed objects, Levi. People wanted to see what that thing you call your "frontal" looks like.

"Why would anybody stay in Chicago? It's freezing here, and I have a mansion in Montecito..."

Wow. Hasn't Chicago been kicked around enough? First, the Olympics snub, and now Oprah. There's one more obvious O that could kick Chicago, and that's Obama. At least it will be a few years before we see that he's not going back to Chicago when the presidential gig ends.


The linked article says: "Oprah and her people have long limited the time she spends in Montecito so she doesn't exceed the number of days mandating her to pay exorbitant taxes as a California resident." Ha, I say. Liberals! They are all for rich folk paying high taxes, but what do they do when they are rich? How rich is Oprah? Really, really rich. So rich she can't have enough ideas of what to spend it all on. So why withhold it from the dear sweet state of California that you love so much and that needs money so terribly, terribly badly?

"The Heidi Klum of foot models" marries the footman, I mean, doorman...

... and all hell breaks loose. I mean, the other service workers in the building stop getting her packages and hailing taxis for her.
"I fell in love with Angel because he is a sweet, caring man - how dare they look down on us!"
And the the super's wife supposedly punched Angel in the balls.

It's a new lawsuit. Christina Ambers wants $10 million.

November 19, 2009

The windowbox in November.


Finally! The Bloggingheads with me and Michelle Goldberg, talking about Sarah Palin's book...

... and assorted other things....

I love how Ann doesn't get exercised over politics, but does over literature!
Thanks for getting me.

Memo to CBS and Katie Couric: Release the unedited Palin video.

In "Going Rogue," Sarah Palin criticizes CBS for editing long interviews into the most damaging soundbites and making her look stupid and irritable. There's an easy solution: Release the unedited video. There is a lot of material in the book making assertions about all sorts of trenchant comments Palin supposedly made. Palin says she was asked the same questions over and over in an effort to elicit a bad answer. She says that some of her answers were clipped after some simple beginning and before she delved into details that would have made her look smart and knowledgeable. It would be very easy to check if we had all the video. Put it up on line.

"Thanks for not hanging up on me."

Here's how this ended:

What is John McCain's favorite form of exercise?


(Page 286 of "Going Rogue," by Sarah Palin.)

Diavlogging about Sarah Palin.

I'm recording a Bloggingheads episode in an hour and a half. In the past, I've always kept these things secret and then sprung them on you when the finished diavlog was up over on the Bloggingheads site. But I'm going to take the liberty to do it differently this time.

They want an episode on Palin's book, and they've paired me — despite my "Sarah Palin is dumb" post — with someone who completely hates Sarah Palin, Michelle Goldberg.

Here I am talking with her last July, in a segment titled "Analyzing why Michelle HATES Palin":

Clearly, the anti-Palin side will be strongly represented in this diavlog. Shouldn't more of a pro-Palinist be found? I'm told that I am the closest they can come to a diavlogger on the Palin side. Fearing that this is not going to be an even match, I'm deviating from the norm and ripping the cloak of secrecy off Bloggingheads so I can invite you to supply me with questions, topics, and ideas. Help me out.


Hoosiers line up early in the morning for a chance to see Sarah Palin at a Borders in the small city of Noblesville.

Here are the first 2 of the 1000 who got wristbands to allow them in this evening:

The line started last night at 9 PM.

More pictures like that, by Sam Riche, at the link.

Meanwhile, Fox News screws up by showing video from last year to illustrate a story about the crowds at her current book tour.

"The Faculty has serious concerns about CPT Hasan's professionalism and work ethic. ... He demonstrates a pattern of poor judgment and a lack of professionalism."

A 2007 memo:
Two years ago, a top psychiatrist at Walter Reed Army Medical Center was so concerned about what he saw as Nidal Hasan's incompetence and reckless behavior that he put those concerns in writing....

Officials at Walter Reed sent that memo to Fort Hood this year when Hasan was transferred there.

Nevertheless, commanders still assigned Hasan — accused of killing 13 people in a mass shooting at Fort Hood on Nov. 5 — to work with some of the Army's most troubled and vulnerable soldiers.
Shocking, willful blindness. Even if the murders had never occurred, it was wrong to allow Hasan to serve as a psychiatrist.
The memo ticks off numerous problems over the course of Hasan's training, including proselytizing to his patients. It says he mistreated a homicidal patient and allowed her to escape from the emergency room, and that he blew off an important exam.

According to the memo, Hasan hardly did any work: He saw only 30 patients in 38 weeks. Sources at Walter Reed say most psychiatrists see at least 10 times that many patients. When Hasan was supposed to be on call for emergencies, he didn't even answer the phone.
IN THE COMMENTS: Pogo — who is a doctor — wites:
The memo was from during his psychiatry residency (PGY = post-graduate year).

MadisonMan is quite right. [MM said: "I think this shows how hard it is to get rid of someone in a bureaucracy. Much easier to move them somewhere else so they are someone else's problem.] Bureaucracy alone would have kept him in gummint employ; no need to invoke PC issues.

Just imagine rolling out this sort of bureaucracy on a national scale.

We could call it the National Health Service.

"Barack Obama... so many tasks that he underinvested in the most critical ones."

Writes Mitt Romney:
The restructuring of the entire health care system and his cap-and-trade proposal eclipsed the economy and the war. Investor Warren Buffett, the “sage of Omaha,” counseled him against such a foolhardy agenda, but Buffett’s wisdom was no match for the heady prospect of all-encompassing change...

A full year after being elected, Obama still does not have a strategy for Afghanistan.... What has he been doing for the past 12 months that took precedence over his responsibility for our soldiers?

The answer is that he made 30 or more campaign trips for the Democratic Party and its candidates, including five events for defeated New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine alone. He repeatedly traveled around the country to keynote campaign-style town hall meetings that were carefully choreographed by his communications advisers. He appears to want to do what he knows best: campaign, rather than engage in what he was elected to do — lead and govern.
We elected a candidate.

"I hope to be up half the night trying to write a post on the great mystery of the stories about Trig, stories that have bedeviled the blogosphere and many others for months."

The main person these "stories" have "bedeviled" is Andrew Sullivan.
There is no proof here of anything, but there is a much more nuanced and detailed narrative of the events (especially now we have Palin's first considered version of the events since the campaign) that when taken together has definitely helped illuminate what was once obscure and, well, bizarre. Believe it or not, it makes a little more sense now.
Andrew, read what you've written. Step back and read it with the eyes of someone who has never heard of you. You sound like a raving conspiracy theorist. Like this guy (from the movie "Slacker"):

In the comments on my post yesterday about Sullivan's decision to go silent to "grapple with this new data" that's "so complicated" he "simply [couldn't] focus, here's chuck b.:
He says the same thing about her all the time. Unhinged grip on reality, deeply disturbed, fantastic story about her fifth pregnancy... yes, yes. Will there be anything new?

I continue to visit his blog (judge me as you will), and it's becoming sad, but I notice a few things...

For example, reality is a particularly big concept for him. Objective reality, reality checks, version of reality, actual reality, current reality. You can find all reality cliches all over the place. I just checked, the word appears 10 times on just the first page of his blog.
Come back, Andrew. Back to the reality that calls you.

November 18, 2009

Lindsey Graham devastates Eric Holder.


Holder imagines that he can hide inside that "thoughtful" routine that Obama so often relies on, but it is utterly pathetic here. Either he knows damned well what he's doing and he's lying or he's outrageously unqualified for his job. His evasive style is so similar to Obama's that he makes Obama look worse.

The Sexiest Man Alive.

According to People Magazine. I agree about the top choice — even though he'd be even better if he shaved.

Also, Adam Lambert gets an honorable mention, which is pretty ridiculous.

The Democratic National Committee's email to reporters located in places on the Sarah Palin book tour.

"This book tour has only reinforced the tabloid aspects of her profile, wasted a platform to add substance, driven deeper the schisms in the Republican party and sucked the oxygen out of the room for anyone else to emerge. So, God bless."

They're entitled to their spin. The question is whether it makes them look worse and whether local reporters lap up what they've been spoonfed. 

At the link is a list of 22 Sarah Palin "lies," such as "Palin Implies She Is The Only One To Get Questions On Her Appearance: '“Edwards, Obama, Clinton, and Biden were subjected to frequent scrutiny 'about their hair, makeup, or clothes.'" You know, if you have to use the word "implies," you ought to back away from the word "lies." Otherwise, you sound like a lunatic.

ADDED: Didn't Palin also "suck the oxygen out of the room" for Obama's Far East tour? Or did that do him a favor?

Sebelius is rebellious...

... against the death panel.

Holder holds forth.

On the KSM trial.

"Since the Dish has tried to be rigorous and careful in analyzing Palin's unhinged grip on reality from the very beginning..."

"... specifically her fantastic story of her fifth pregnancy — we feel it's vital that we grapple with this new data as fairly and as rigorously as possible. That takes time to get right. And it is so complicated we simply cannot focus on anything else."

Andrew Sullivan curls up with a book. He's "gone silent," he says.
There is a possibility here of such a huge scandal that we would be crazy not to take our time either to debunk it or move it forward for further examination.
Huh? What's up? What "new data"? Just the book itself? The book is pablum. How long can it take to digest?

ADDED: This is pure speculation, but I wonder if Palin has threatened to sue Sullivan for defamation.

Rod Dreher gives "a conservative read" to Sarah Palin's book. On NPR.

And he's not too kind.
The rap on Palin is that she's too shallow and inexperienced for the presidency — a conclusion that early Palin supporters like me came to during the 2008 campaign.
Like you? Oh, well then... I imagine that's why NPR picked you to do the "conservative read."
Alas, for conservatives in search of a champion, there's nothing in Going Rogue to challenge that conclusion. It's like this: Palin spends seven pages dishing about her appearance on Saturday Night Live, but just over one page discussing her national security views....

... Palin's economic program amounts to nothing more than tax-cutting, deregulating, and the endless repetition of shopworn GOP talking points.
This is the Republican Party's great populist hope?
Sarah Palin is selling a personality, not a platform. That's not dumb. She's doing the best she can with what she has to work with. She quotes her father's line upon her resignation this summer as Alaska's governor: "Sarah's not retreating, she's reloading." On evidence of this book, Sarah Palin is charging toward 2012 shooting blanks.
When reviewing a book, you should ask whether the book achieves what it set out to do. Dreher posits some goal other than the one Palin chose and slams her for not meeting it. She chose to write a personal memoir: What life feels like for Sarah Palin. So it's her "Dreams From My Father." The book Dreher aches for would be her "Audacity of Hope." Presumably, she is — her people are — working on that second book, and it will be fully fleshed out with exactly the conservative policy details that Sarah Palin needs for a presidential run.

Dreher admits that her choice to "sell[] a personality, not a platform" is "not dumb." But he leaps to the conclusion that her personality is "what [all?] she has to work with." That's not necessarily the case, and even if it is, with the infusion of great policy advisors, we will never know that she didn't come "loaded" with policy details.

You can't "charge" toward 2012. It's 3 years away, and it will take 3 years to get here. There's no great need to load up on much policy. What did Obama have in 2005? She is creating and extending her aura. She's following the Obama template. "Shooting blanks" — thanks for the gun imagery, but what the hell was Obama "shooting"?

The NYT calls Obama's trip to China "grim."



Something to do to a turkey. Warning: There's a graphic picture at the link.

ADDED: Screw the turkey.

"As Sarah Palin awoke one morning from uneasy dreams she found herself transformed in her bed into a gigantic vice-Presidential candidate."

After I briskly kick off a discussion of the bad "creative writing" in Sarah Palin's memoir, Palladian says that should have been the first line.

And, for more Palin memoir fun, don't miss the unusually wacky "Duct tape" thread. Click here to get to the comments after the 200th. 201, by Roger J. is:
"This has got to be abolutely the most screwball post I have ever seen, and damn if its not going hit 200 comments! Wow--just wow."
Andrea had me in hysterics:
Does anyone else here besides me find it absolutely hilarious at Jeremy's incandescent Rage! against the whole idea of using duct tape to prevent frostbite? I mean, it's absolutely ridiculous, over-the-top RAAAAGE! It's over NINE-THOUSAAAAAAND!

Rage! Rage against the using of the duct tape!

Another occasion for the "Obama is like Nixon" tag.

Politico reports:
“I don't think it will be offensive at all when [Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is] convicted and when the death penalty is applied to him,” Obama told NBC’s Chuck Todd.

When Todd asked Obama if he was interfering in the trial process by declaring that Mohammed will be executed, Obama, a former constitutional law professor, insisted that he wasn’t trying to dictate the result.

“What I said was, people will not be offended if that's the outcome. I'm not pre-judging, I'm not going to be in that courtroom, that's the job of prosecutors, the judge and the jury,” Obama said. “What I'm absolutely clear about is that I have complete confidence in the American people and our legal traditions and the prosecutors, the tough prosecutors from New York who specialize in terrorism."
Journey back to 1970:
Nixon Calls Manson Guilty, Later Withdraws Remark; Refers to Coast Murder Trial in Talk in Denver, Then Says in Washington He Didn't Mean to Prejudge Case

President Nixon asserted today that Charles Manson, a hippie cultist now on trial in California, "was guilty, directly or indirectly, of eight murders without reason."

But, faced with criticism that he had prejudged the outcome of the Manson trial, Mr. Nixon issued a statement ... saying that "the last thing I would do is prejudice the legal rights of any person, in any circumstances."

Googling, I saw that this isn't the first time someone has compared something Obama did to the old Nixon/Manson screwup. Back in July, the comparison was made after Obama said the "police acted stupidly" in arresting Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

From that July article:
Robert Dallek, a presidential historian, said in an interview that Nixon’s comments, while seemingly a gaffe, reinforced his stance in the prevailing cultural wars and seemed calculated. “He was playing to the whole idea that conservatives stand for law and order and Democrats were permissive and indulgent toward criminals,” Mr. Dallek said.
So, what do you think?

When Obama said KSM will be convicted and executed, what was he doing?

Making a gaffe.

Trying to send the message that he's tough on terrorism. free polls

"Obama admits Guantanamo won't close by Jan. deadline."

WaPo headline.

Well, then, I have won the bet I made with Emily Bazelon last January:

And I'm glad Guantanamo will be kept open. It's needed and useful. But Obama is being weaselly about it:
"People, I think understandably, are fearful after a lot of years where they were told that Guantanamo was critical to keep terrorists out," Obama said. Closing the facility, he added, is "also just technically hard."
Obama came to office pledging to shut a detainee facility that had become a symbol for prisoner abuse at the hands of American officials. He signed orders to shut the military prison by January 2010, but White House officials quickly encountered resistance from members of Congress opposed to moving prisoners to U.S. soil and from other countries they had hoped would accept detainees.
It's Bush's fault for making people fearful, don't you know? It's not that he's actually come to see the value of the place.
There was also a tangle of legal issues involving what to do with suspected terrorists who had been tortured in prison in a way that jeopardized the integrity of the evidence against them, or who for other reasons could not stand trial.

Last week, the administration announced that it will try five Guantanamo prisoners -- including Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-declared mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks -- in federal court in New York. The fate of dozens of other detainees remains in limbo.
So, presumably, this new announcement was timed to follow last week's announcement that KSM would be tried in NYC. Maybe what came first was the realization that Guantanamo would need to remain open, and then something was needed to placate those who put their hope in Obama that he would close the place. Oh, what will we do? I've got an idea! Let's put on a show! Let's try KSM in NYC!

Do you have koodies?

What sounds like an old childhood insult — cooties — has become a — sort of — compliment aimed at kids.
koodie - noun Slang. A kid keenly interested in food, especially eating, cooking or watching reruns of Julia Child. A kid who has an ardent or refined interest in food; a mini-gourmet; usually trained by one or both parents to have an unusual, and sometimes fanatic, desire to eat unusual foods. Evolution from the now defunct word “foodie”.
Or should that be a kid who's been spending too much time around (possibly very annoying) adults and, if he should happen to enter the company of young persons, will experience ordinary social life as something more complicated than "Mastering the Art of French Cooking"?

No takes.

Actually, the books discussed at the link seem to be more about getting kids to be more adventurous in eating new foods and not to prefer packaged/junk food. That's all very nice, but it's not so much refinement. Kids shouldn't be picky eaters. And these koodies sound like a new kind of picky.

"Homemade desserts that don’t have a crust that needs to be fussed over but still hue to the flavors of Thanksgiving."

The flavors? What about the colors?

(NYT front page teaser.)

November 17, 2009

"Richard Nixon Bowing to Mao. Well, another one for Ann Althouse’s Obama-is-like-Nixon tag."

Jokes Instapundit, linking to this:

The bow is at 1:24. And at 1:32, you'll see that I need to create a Nixon is like George H.W. Bush tag.

"A robin's egg sky arced overhead..."

"... the brisk kick in the air hinting at winter's approach."

Judge the creative writing please.

Under the new mammogram guidelines, "billions of dollars will be saved."

"But the money was buying something of net negative value... This decision is a no-brainer. The economy benefits, but women are the major beneficiaries."

What is this benefit to women here? It is not going through the anxiety of a test that may produce a false positive and require additional tests!

Anti-frost-bite tip: Put duct tape on your face.

Yes. You guessed it. I am now in possession of "Going Rogue," by Sarah Palin. It has lots of pictures. Including one of Todd Palin with duct tape on his face to protect against frost bite.

Re husbands, Meade bought the book for me at Borders. Re faces, I was not keen to show mine in Madison purchasing a right-wing book.

Black firefighters move to intervene in the Ricci v. DeStefano.

You may remember Ricci as the Supreme Court case won by white firefighters who lost out when New Haven canceled the results of a test that did not yield racially balanced results.

And now is it more or less likely that you believe in God?

Let's look at arch-atheist Richard Dawkins and charming young actress Emma Watson, side by side:

[Image removed because it was screwing around with some browsers. You can still find it over at Unreality.]

Reassess your belief in God.

It's more likely that there's a God.

Less likely.

My faith is ironclad. It remains the same no matter what.

I respond to evidence, and this isn't. free polls

ADDED: What is the extent of the Photoshopping? An emailer hints:

The odd thing is, I look like Bjork! Thanks for making me reflect upon my unelfinness.

Everybody's talking about the Privileges and Immunities Clause.

And guns.


(Via BoingBoing.)

Not "hashtag," "funemployed," "birther," "death panel," teabagger," and "tramp stamp," but "unfriend."

The new word of the year.

Why was Greg Craig thrown under such a slow-moving bus?

It's possible that Marc Ambinder answers that question.

"Where's the sexy photo of Mitt Romney? Why not a picture of Tim Pawlenty with an unbuttoned shirt relaxing on a couch in the Twin Cities?"

Bitching about the Newsweek cover. But really, Palin (obviously) posed for that picture. It's funny and it gets your attention. It's a little silly and desperate of Newsweek to use it, but...

Yes. Terrible.
Yes, but not enough to matter.
No. Stop making crap up.
No. But I understand your concern. free polls

"Ken Ober, ‘Remote Control’ Host, Is Dead at 52."

"... Mr. Ober was last heard from on Saturday night, when he spoke to a friend and complained of a headache and flu-like symptoms. Mr. Ober told the friend that he was going to take something and would see a doctor as soon as possible."

Oh! Sad! Let's go back to the 1980s:

My sons and I watched that show all the time.

"Oh, the Humanities Building."

"You are a massive block of concrete that houses the studies for which you are appropriately named. Since your completed construction in 1969, you have been a cold, lonely home to the studies of music, art, English, and history; all of which seem strangely out of place beneath your sunken temple walls (perhaps with the exclusion of history). Ever since the announcement of your imminent destruction, I have been absolutely enthralled."

"Oh, the Humanities Building" is a nice play on the famous cry of empathy, upon which there have been many plays, this being perhaps the best.

The "Super Lawyers" law school ranking.

Another ranking system. What do you think? Wisconsin is #25.

ADDED: Here's the ranking.

November 16, 2009

Hoffman pulls an Al Gore.


TiVo-blogging Sarah Palin on "Oprah."

0:01 — Oprah is incredulous that Sarah Palin hadn't paid any attention — back during the campaign — to the talk about how Oprah had snubbed her. Palin was focused on the campaign. Oprah cannot believe it: "You didn't even know about it?!" — as if Palin is a complete ignoramus not to have been all Oprah-focused. "No offense to you, but it wasn't the center of my universe." Oprah looks away. Jeez. Does Oprah have self-esteem issues like Katie Couric? I'm going to give Oprah the benefit of the doubt and say she's trying to play Palin — stir up that female empathy. And either she'll rope in Palin or she'll somehow get the female audience thinking Oprah good, Palin bad.

0:03 — Palin looks great — youthful, glowing. I notice some obvious false hair stuck in on top. When she brings her hand up to her face, it's strangely light pink. I readjust and realize her face is heavily coated in bronze makeup. They're talking about how the news of Bristol's pregnancy emerged, and she complains that the McCain campaign sent out the message that the Palins were proud and happy to become grandparents, which wasn't the message she'd wanted at all. "Didn't you approve the message?" Oprah asks. No, she'd wanted to turn the news into an occasion to address the problem of teen pregnancy. Asked if she was "naive," she says she was naive to think the press would leave her kids alone. She notes that Obama had asserted that kids were off limits and, prompted by Oprah, indicates that was pretty nice of Obama.

0:13 — The McCain people got on her case about the Atkins Diet.

0:14 — The way the McCain people pushed clothes made her feel as though her whole family was starring in an episode of "What Not to Wear."

0:22 —  She thought the interview with Katie Couric would be fun and just "working mom talking with working mom." She concedes that if she were watching the Couric interview, as edited, she too would have thought she was unprepared and unqualified. She "knew it wasn't a good interview," but the McCain people thought it was fine.

0:25 — "Why didn't you just name some books and magazines?" Oprah asks (after showing the clip of Palin blabbering on about reading "all" of the books and magazines). Palin portrays herself as annoyed at Couric: It sounded like an insinuation that Palin, up in Alaska, couldn't possibly know what is going on, and she responded as if that had been the question. That is, she didn't realize how evasive — and dumb — it would sound that she would not get specific.

0:28 — "You're perky too," says Oprah when Palin calls Couric "perky."

0:29 — It took Palin 3 weeks to tell Todd that their unborn child had Down Syndrome. Todd didn't ask why us? He said why not us? That's about right.

0:33 — Everyone wants to hear about Levi Johnston, Oprah tells us. "It's kind of heartbreaking," Palin says, this "aspiring porn." "I call that porn." She wants to focus on her grandson and to think of Levi mainly as the baby's father. Oprah says, when Palin found out that Levi was badmouthing her to the press, "You had to be a little pissed." The audience applauds. "He's on a road that's not a healthy place to be. He's a teenager... He is loved..."

0:41 — "Sweat is my sanity." We see Sarah in shorts in a gym.

0:43 — "Very strong marriage" with Todd.  High school sweethearts. Long separations. Solid partnership where both do what needs to be done.

0:50 — "She's not retreating. She's reloading." Palin quotes her dad as she explains what it meant to step down from the governorship.

0:53 — Is she running for President? Oprah presses Palin as Palin wriggles out of the big question.

0:56 — "Oprah you are the queen of talk shows," Palin says, bowing twice with outstretched arms.

0:57 — "I get through the challenges that I do thanks to God and Todd."

SUMMARY: A pleasant chat. Not much substance. Both women seemed fine, such as it was. For the most part, Oprah pursued the traditional women's topics: pregnancy, children, marriage. Palin looked vividly alive and spoke quickly and without stumbles or hesitations. I don't think there was a single word about any serious policy question. It was mostly about how it felt to be Sarah Palin.

Christopher Hitchens on Nidal Malik Hasan.

"[T]he three most salient characteristics of the Muslim death-squad type [are] self-righteousness, self-pity, and self-hatred. Surrounded as he was by fellow shrinks who were often very distressed by his menacing manner, Maj. Hasan managed to personify all three traits—with the theocratic rhetoric openly thrown in for good measure—and yet be treated even now as if the real word for him was troubled. Prepare to keep on meeting those three symptoms again, along with official attempts to oppose them only with therapy, if that. At least the holy warriors know they are committing suicide."

Read the whole thing.

"Tens of thousands of lives are being saved by mammography screening, and these idiots want to do away with it."

"It's crazy — unethical, really."
In its first reevaluation of breast cancer screening since 2002, the federal panel that sets government policy on prevention recommended the radical change, citing evidence that the potential harms of all women getting annual exams beginning at age 40 outweigh the benefits....
The task force's new guidelines... [also conclude] there is insufficient evidence to continue routine mammograms beyond age 74....

.... Mammograms produce false-positive results in about 10 percent of cases, causing anxiety and often prompting women to undergo unnecessary follow-up tests, sometimes-disfiguring biopsies, and unneeded treatment, including surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.
Now, now, don't say "death panel." They're saying we'll be better off. Really we will. Cheaper too!

The male re-enfolds its female.

DoubleX, having emerged from Slate, is reabsorbed.
The decision is being made for business reasons rather than as an editorial judgment.
You'd think breaking out the female-oriented content would be a good way to get advertising. All that shampoo and makeup. All that diet and baby food. Apparently, not.

"Whether a jury ultimately convicts KSM and his fellows, or sentences them to death, is beside the point."

"The treatment of the 9/11 attacks as a criminal matter rather than as an act of war will cripple American efforts to fight terrorism. It is in effect a declaration that this nation is no longer at war."

"WHOA...I thought Obama HAD used sad now....."


"Curb Your Enthusiasm" gives Michael Richards his (hilarious) absolution.

Last night's new episode of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" — which has been working the "Seinfeld" reunion theme all season — finally got around to doing something with the painful subject of Michael Richards's disgrace over the shouting of racial epithets at some hecklers in a comedy club. Spoiler:
After learning that he suffers from the fictional Groat's disease (last mentioned in Season 2 of "Curb Your Enthusiasm"), Michael Richards once again finds himself in the line of fire for a racially fueled attack on an African American ... who just happens to be Larry's house guest Leon (the always hysterical J.B. Smoove), who posed as Groat's disease sufferer Danny Duberstein but who looked more like Louis Farrakhan from the Nation of Islam than a Jewish CPA.

Skewering Richards' brush with notoriety, Larry David has Richards angrily confront Leon in full view of several dozen camera phones, leading to him proclaiming that he wished he could call Leon a word that would make him as angry as he was right then. It's a savage parody of Richards' race-fueled rant to an African American heckler during a 2006 stand-up performance ... which happened to be captured on a cellphone.
Brilliant. Highly satisfying.

November 15, 2009

At the Rose Hip Hotel...


... you can try out your moves.

"You're Gonna Want to Drop the Magazine and Do It on the Spot."


Sorry. I didn't buy the magazine. Nor did I open it at the checkout — which seemed rather dangerous. So I have no idea what this "move" is. But 71% sounds very scientific. Not 70. 71. I'm sure it's a very specific thing, since that's a very specific number.

I almost never watch anything political on TV anymore.

It's so slow compared to reading... and you can't cut and paste.

AND... Tim Russert is dead.

"Thanks for loving America" = what Sarah Palin wants to say to you when you show up for her book tour appearances.

Because, you know, wanting to see Sarah Palin in the flesh equates with loving America.

Or is that "Thank you" as in "Thank you for not smoking"?

"The Masked Neocolonialist."

"Most of my colleagues remained under house arrest while Pamela (the other uninfected mzungu) and I traveled north to see some mountain gorillas. In Muhanga, a sound truck cruised the streets announcing that Americans had brought disease, and to keep away from us. When we walked through the streets, children covered their noses and mouths and turned away. The Rwandan newspaper New Times had an article about us."

Is it wrong for schoolteachers to sell lesson plans?

It seems like a great idea to me, but some people are bitching. Why? Because teachers are making money selling the plans that they are paid to make and carry out in the classroom?
“To the extent that school district resources are used, then I think it’s fair to ask whether the district should share in the proceeds,” said Robert N. Lowry, deputy director of the New York State Council of School Superintendents.
You greedy bastard. You want to take money from teachers? Shut up. And pay them more too while you're at it.
Beyond the unresolved legal questions, there are philosophical ones. Joseph McDonald, a professor at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development at New York University, said the online selling cheapens what teachers do and undermines efforts to build sites where educators freely exchange ideas and lesson plans.
Imagine if I said because I'm freely giving away my writing — on a blog that invites others to write without compensation — writers elsewhere should not be making money. It would scarcely be worth the trouble to laugh at me.
“Teachers swapping ideas with one another, that’s a great thing,” he said. “But somebody asking 75 cents for a word puzzle reduces the power of the learning community and is ultimately destructive to the profession.”
If a teacher has written a puzzle capable of snagging 75¢ in the free market, get out of her way. Let her have her 75¢. Let her sell ten thousand and have $7,500. She deserves a $7,500 raise on top of that too, but she's not going to get it, because such is the market.
Teachers like Erica Bohrer, though, see the new demand for lessons as long-awaited recognition of their worth.

“Teaching can be a thankless job,” said Ms. Bohrer, 30, who has used the $650 she earned in the past year to add books to a reading nook in her first-grade classroom at Daniel Street Elementary School on Long Island and to help with mortgage payments. “I put my hard-earned time and effort into creating these things, and I just would like credit.”
Oh, Ms. Bohrer, you don't have to be so modest. You put work into making things, and you deserve  the "credit" the comes in the form of money, which you are entitled to use for anything you want. You earned it.
Kelly Gionti, a teacher at the High School for Law, Advocacy and Community Justice in Manhattan, has sold $2,544 worth of unit plans for “The Catcher in the Rye” and “The Great Gatsby,” among others, helping finance trips to Rome and Ireland, as well as class supplies.
As well as class supplies... That has to be there, doesn't it? It's your money, Ms. Gionti. Buy what you like. 

"Palin's book might not be just the simple, unvarnished truth about what went on..."

Writes Tom Smith, addressing me:
Perhaps Palin has chosen not to share all of her thinking and calculations with the reading public.
Perhaps? But of course! Or she's a blithering idiot.
She is obviously in part trying to even the score with Katie Couric ("I was just trying to help her because she was in the dumps over her faltering career," says the rising star to the declining one) and Nicolle what's-her-name ("she was disloyal to W, i.e. a complete bitch, had I but seen it at the time"). Palin is portraying herself as a lamb among wolves. This does not necessarily mean she really was or is in fact a lamb, except in the sense that she is a lot cuter than her critics.
The question isn't whether she's posing/whitewashing/slanting/lying. She's doing something like that, and the current product, the book, gives us evidence of the extent of her political intelligence. Is saying I was a lamb smart now? That's a separate question — and one my post addressed — than saying was it smart to be a lamb then, assuming she actually was a lamb. Breaking the issue down that way, I'd say she was at least either dumb then or dumb now. But maybe you think posing as a former lamb is savvy politics. Or is that only because you think she's cute? Because I don't think being thought cute and inspiring male protectors is the way to get yourself elected President.
Consider how an accurate memoir would read: "I miscalculated. Early on, I understood the McCain campaign was unlikely to win, but I thought I could use it to promote my own career as a national conservative voice and perhaps as future presidential candidate. I had little expertise in dealing with the national media, so I thought it best to rely on the McCain people for that, reasoning they had no incentive to feed me to the wolves. etc. etc." The reader would think, why that Machiavellian bitch!
A first-rate Machiavellian bitch wouldn't say that in exactly those words. But she would say that. Elegantly, seductively — like a real Machiavellian. And I would be inspired: There is someone smart and sophisticated enough to deserve a major party nomination for President. I want that Machiavellian bitch on our side.
... [T]he question is not, is the woman Palin portrays qualified to be President, but rather, is a woman who would decide to portray herself as Palin has decided to do in her book, qualified to be President -- a very different question.
Yes. That is what I think too. I attempted to convey that in my "Sarah Palin is dumb" post, but in case I didn't make it clear enough, I am restating it here. A political memoir has a political strategy to it. If it told the whole truth, it would probably be only because for some odd reason the absolute, unspun truth best served the author's interest or — does this ever happen? — because the erstwhile politico has transmorphed into a literary artist.


Now, I wrote this whole post before I noticed that Tom Smith never linked to my post! He does begin with "Regarding Professor Rappaport's post immediately below" — Lord, what a boring first clause! — not that he links to Prof R's post — and Prof R does link to me. But that really is bad form, and then there's also the very weird fact that the one link Smith does have is to a YouTube video of Michelle Pfeiffer singing "Making Whoopie" (and writhing on a piano in a tight red dress). Why was that apt? It went with:
[J]ust because Palin says she was a lamb among wolves does not mean she is in fact a lamb.  I sort of like the idea of her singing "I'm a poor little lamb who's lost my way" along the lines of Michelle Pfeiffer in the Fabulous Baker Boys, but that is of course an unrelated point.
I kind of think it is related. And no woman like that is going to make it to the presidency, though she may win a lot of admirers and protectors. Lord have mercy on such as we... baa... baa... baa...


Those lost lambs are so much sexier than Pfeiffer's embodiment of male fantasy, I will say.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is likely to go without a lawyer and use the trial as a stage for the expression of his ideas and the acting out of his martyrdom.

In Guantanamo, he has rejected the efforts of lawyers to protect his rights.
Even a lawyer for the ACLU, which has been helping to safeguard the rights of the terror gang, conceded that the likelihood they go it alone in court is high.

"It's quite possible that these defendants will undertake to represent themselves," Ben Wizner said. "They've been trying to fire their lawyers the whole time so they can be executed." 
Experts say it's possible Mohammed will plead guilty, seeking a quicker path to death.
 Experts also say that real American-style legal work on his case can be tremendously effective:
"The first thing they're going to do is challenge all of the evidence and say all of it is the fruit of waterboarding," [lawyer Alan] Dershowitz said.