January 23, 2010

One more round...


... let's talk through the night.

Once, it was 20-hour sex sessions.

Then, it tapered off. And now, Brangelina is no more.

At the Kwak Brasserie...


... we are upright and stable.

"Now, I'll give my answer. It is exactly what I, a law professor, would expect to hear from another law professor!"

I answer that question I asked back here.

This week — that terrible week for liberals — seems like a good time for a big NYT Magazine article on the "Right-Wing Flame War!" started by Charles Johnson.

As I've already said, Little Green Footballs is a blog that always repelled me. It felt hateful and extreme. But I've been aware that it flipped and became about calling other people hateful and extreme. So I took the trouble to read the story in the NYT. It's pretty weird:
IN OCTOBER 2007, Johnson was asked to take part in what was billed as a Counter-Jihad Conference in Brussels, a gathering of fewer than a hundred politicians and opinion leaders from around the world who convened to share ideas and strategies for combating the spread of militant Islam. Johnson was not the only writer invited — Geller was there, as well as Robert Spencer of jihadwatch.org (a Web site Johnson himself designed), to name two — but he did not go. “I’m just not a joiner of these things,” he says.

The conference finished up in Brussels, and “the next day,” Johnson remembers, “people were e-mailing me saying, ‘You might want to cover this.’ So I started looking into it.” He discovered that among the conference’s 90 or so participants — though not among the speakers — was a man named Filip Dewinter, a leader of a Belgian-nationalist political party called Vlaams Belang, or “Flemish Interest.” Vlaams Belang, which has a history that reaches back to the wrong side of World War II, has an unabashed record of inflammatory rhetoric and hateful, opportunistic verbal viciousness of all sorts; a few years ago, for example, the party announced an advertising campaign in Moroccan newspapers and magazines to “discourage foreigners from coming to our country.” And as recently as 2004, it was condemned by the Belgian Supreme Court for incitement to discrimination and racial segregation. (The party responded by changing its name.) Even to most right-wing sensibilities, Vlaams Belang is certainly beyond the pale. Still, whether or not Dewinter, who has said that “in Flanders, the multicultural society has led to a multicriminal society,” is more extreme than the commenters who appeared regularly on Little Green Footballs seems like a subject on which right-wing minds might reasonably disagree. Perhaps that still happens somewhere. Gray, however, is not a popular shade on the Internet.

It seems borderline ridiculous that the political character of an extremist Belgian party, which in the last parliamentary election captured just 17 seats out of 150 in the Chamber of Representatives, should become the issue over which a kind of civil war among American conservatives broke out, but that is what happened.
So Belgium got to him?! Here's this guy who somehow can't go to a conference, and then he fixates on somebody in the audience at a conference, and then makes all kinds of connections from there. Well, there's something very strange about the mind of Charles Johnson. Does it mean anything more generally about right-leaning people on the web? Does the NYT want it to?

UPDATE: Charles Johnson noticed this post and responded:
A very ignorant post from someone who knows nothing about it. I make no apologies for wanting to distance myself from European fascist groups -- and there is no doubt that they wanted to get me on their side at one point.
The expression "I make no apologies" would only make sense if I had somehow criticized him for wanting to distance himself from European fascist groups, which I didn't do. I just puzzled over how his mind put together the problem that he needed to take action about. I make no apologies for not knowing anything more about it than I could read in the New York Times... or for finding the old Little Green Footballs too hateful to want to read.
Althouse is clueless, yet her mouth still runs.
This kind of bullshit insult doesn't make me want to do any more research about Johnson. I read a NYT article about him and wrote a short post about it. If there is some mysterious backstory that's missing from the NYT, why not tell me about it? I'm not a useless, ignorant person because I don't know it, whatever it is. Why lash out like this? I'm sticking with my original impression that he's got too much free-floating anger. Toxic.

UPDATE 2: "I was one of the organizers of the Brussels event, and I was the person who wrote to Charles Johnson to invite him... Filip Dewinter was indeed a speaker at the conference... [T]o assert that there is some 'guilt by association' with Filip Dewinter is to give credence to the idea that the Vlaams Belang leader deserves the 'fascist' smears that have been so frequently aimed at him." I have no background or opinion on this myself. I'm linking to that for what it's worth and out of a sense of fairness.

The reactivation of Plouffe.

Time to get back to what Obama does best: running for President.

AND: Ouch.

The liberal's willingness to make a completely un-PC attack on conservatives glares so painfully when the victim of the attack turns out not to be a conservative.

Complaining about the Citizens United case, Ritmo Brasileiro said:
Thoughtful reasoning? What thoughtfully reasoned excerpts from the decision were quoted? And how thoughtfully reasoned do you suspect Steven's ruling was? The guy is ninety, you know and slurs his speech. Yet your conserva-times chose him to do the deed and I saw very little of what he had to say quoted here.
Sofa King said:
Wait a minute. You don't think...you think Stevens was part of the majority! BWaaaahaaa haaa! You haven't the slightest clue what you're talking about, you pompous windbag! Why don't you come back after at least reading the summary! I wonder if your opinion of Stevens will suddenly, conveniently completely reverse!
Ritmo's response? Something about only "skimming" the case and assuming the conservatives must have "co-opted" the "senile" liberal justice to get their majority. Suddenly, "the specifics of all this" aren't what really matter. You know: When the "specifics" don't feel like good slingable mud, you just don't care about using personal remarks against the justices as a way of saying you didn't like the outcome of a case.

I love the way the liberal's willingness to make a completely un-PC attack on a person, when that person is conservative, glares so painfully when it turns out that the target of the attack isn't actually conservative.

"The sight of this African American woman standing on the Capitol steps registered like a series of rolling tremors..."

Look out! It's an earthquake! I mean... it's Robin Givhan's book about Michelle Obama:
The sight of this African American woman standing on the Capitol steps registered like a series of rolling tremors, uprooting cultural assumptions and clichés about what it means to be a black woman, about the nature of the black family, about femininity, beauty and even social status. She did not erase generations of damaging stereotypes … but she forced many of us to reconsider what we had assumed to be true.
In other words, we are terrible racists, in Givhan's view. The only way that paragraph makes sense is if, prior to Michelle Obama's emergence, our heads were filled with embarrassing, ridiculous stereotypes. And yet, if we really were like that, Michelle Obama's becoming First Lady wouldn't uproot our prejudice, would it? Wouldn't a real racist think the election was a big mistake and avoid watching the inauguration or watch it with scorn/fear/derision?

Can we think of a more accurate description of the effect it had on real Americans for Michelle Obama to become First Lady? The sight of this African American woman standing on the Capitol steps registered like a series of rolling tremors, thrilling Americans who imagined the effect this sight must be having on other Americans, the ones who were so shamefully in the grip of cultural assumptions and clichés about what it means to be a black woman, about the nature of the black family, about femininity, beauty and even social status.

Rush Limbaugh answers my question about how President Obama, a law professor, could have responded to the Citizens United case the way he did.

Yesterday, at 8:42 a.m. CT, I wrote:
So, the Supreme Court came out with a big free-speech decision yesterday, and President Obama's response was that he needs "to develop a forceful response to this decision. The public interest requires nothing less."...

The President was a law professor — technically, a "senior lecturer" at the University of Chicago Law School — for 12 years. Why would a law professor oppose a Supreme Court decision on a matter of constitutional law and not respect the authority of the Court and honor our system of separation of powers?
And here's Rush Limbaugh, on yesterday's show (which begins at 11:00 CT):
Now, the Supreme Court came out with this big free speech decision yesterday. It's sweeping. It is huge. Did you hear Obama's response? Obama said that he needs to develop a forceful response to this decision. The public interest requires nothing else, a forceful response. Now, I want to point out that Obama was a law professor, or technically a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago law school for 12 years. Now, why would a law professor oppose a Supreme Court decision on a matter of constitutional law and not respect the authority of the court and honor our system of separation of powers? Why? Of course it's easy. Because he doesn't like the Constitution. And this we know. He thinks the Constitution restrains him and restricts him for doing things to people. The Constitution spells out what the government may not do, and that's what he doesn't like.
IN THE COMMENTS:  El Pollo Real wrote:
So, are you peeved that he didn't mention you, curious about why he didn't, or flattered even though he didn't?

I said:
The similarity of the language — especially "on a matter of constitutional law and not respect the authority of the court and honor our system of separation of powers" — makes it unquestionably mine. He did this once before that I noticed, but I declined to post about it.

I'm happy that he or somebody who prepares material for him reads my blog, but certainly if you're going to quote me like that, you ought to say my name.

If you go to the link, you'll see that the very next paragraph begins: "Thomas Lifson writing about this in the AmericanThinker.com." Why didn't I get that? Lifson even got his URL said aloud.

He has used things from my blog a couple times and named me. That needs to be the standard form, certainly when a quote is used. I think there are other occasions when a topic is inspired by a blog post, and I think in at least some of those cases, the blogger whose idea is used ought to be credited by name.

It's quite possible that my material arrived chez Rush in email form without attribution, but all they'd have to do is put a distinctive phrase in Google and they would see if it's a quote so they could give credit.

I think perhaps Rush has text in front of him that he is intending to paraphrase -- as he started to do with my post -- and then for one reason or another he lapses into outright quoting. Maybe he's in a hurry or he can't, in real time, quite understand the text so he can't paraphrase it.

I don't think it's outrageous and deliberate presentation of my work as his. I just think I should get named.

Another thought is that maybe they're trying to protect me from the wrath of Madison, Wisconsin and law professors everywhere. They should email me if they have questions in that vein. In case you are wondering, Rush and his people have never corresponded with me about anything.

January 22, 2010

At the Flashback Café...


... it's like... wow.

Will Tommy Thompson challenge Russ Feingold in the Senate race this year?

After Scott Brown's victory in Massachusetts... perhaps!

Suddenly, I love the NYT pay scheme!

"If you are coming to NYTimes.com from another Web site and it brings you to our site to view an article, you will have access to that article and it will not count toward your allotment of free ones."

Wow! Fabulous! I certainly am willing to subscribe to the NYT myself. My problem was that I want to read things I can blog and I don't want to link to things that my readers will need to pay for. But if my link magically makes the article free, then the paid NYT will be better for me. This blog will function as a portal to the free NYT.

Words used to decline an interview.

Basically, the answers to all these questions are already on the blog. If that sounds enigmatic, I mean to be enigmatic. I'm bored by whether something is right wing or not and how can anyone be right wing and so forth. The point of the blog is not to be bored.

AND: Suddenly, I realize this is my inspiration. I know more about what you do — and you don't even have to ask me how or why or anything — just by looking than you'll ever know about me. Ever. I could tell you, you know, I'm not a right winger and explain to you why, but you wouldn't really understand. All you could do: You would nod your head, you could nod your head. I couldn't even be willing to try. Every word has its little letter and big letter, like the word "know," you know, K-N-O-W, and, you know, the word "know" capital K-N-O-W? Like each of us really knows nothing but we all think we know things....

"The Supreme Court has handed lobbyists a new weapon," says the New York Times.

The "weapon" is the First Amendment right to free speech, in a case about corporations and interest groups that aim political speech at the general public before an election. But "weapon" isn't the word I want to concentrate on here. I want to talk about "lobbyist."

Should we really be calling public speech "lobbying"?

The dictionary meaning of the verb "to lobby" is "To try to influence the thinking of legislators or other public officials for or against a specific cause."

Black's Law Dictionary — I'm looking at the 6th edition — defines "lobbying" as:
All attempts including personal solicitation to influence legislators to vote in a certain way or to introduce legislation.
But the political speech that the Supreme Court was talking about — advertising and a full-length movie about a candidate — isn't aimed at legislators and trying to influence their votes. It's trying to persuade voters. Why are we calling that lobbying?

This speech is out in the open for all to hear and accept or reject. It's not behind-the-scenes. There's no special access involved. Think of the origin of the term. It actually involves a lobby — in the sense of a foyer or antechamber:
Most likely, we got the term from the English Parliament, where petitioners would hang out in the corridors and reception rooms outside the chambers in which the legislature met, and try to talk to and persuade individual Members of Parliament to take up their cause as the Members walked in and out of the sessions...

[W]herever lawmakers have met — including Federal Hall in New York, the first seat of our U.S. Congress in 1789, and Congress Hall in Philadelphia, hangers-on and both wealthy and desperate petitioners were seen gathering in the rooms around the assembly, some of which were, and are, called "lobbies." The reception and meeting area behind the House chamber in the Capitol, for example, is referred to as the "Speaker's Lobby."

Another story has it that the lobby of the Willard Hotel in Washington -- one of its oldest and grandest — was frequented by wealthy special interest petitioners who were looking to intercept Members of Congress and the President, whose residence was a mere block away, as they came to dine there. It is said that President Ulysses S. Grant wearied of the petitioners whom he scornfully labeled as "the lobbyists."
But you don't hang around in a lobby — literally or figuratively — trying to get the ear of a legislator when you're exercising the the right the Supreme Court was talking about. You're talking to the people — the voters — and you're doing your best to get what you're saying out where everyone can hear it. I wouldn't call that "lobbying." And the reason against calling it lobbying is also a reason against suppressing it. The speech is out there in the marketplace of ideas, competing with other speech, exposed to argument and refutation.

Now, you might want to say that some speech is too loud and pervasive and strong, too much able to drown out competing voices in the marketplace of ideas. But if that's what you really want to say, it will be kind of ridiculous if you are The New York Times.

ADDED: On rereading, I can see that the NYT made the distinction between lobbying and political speech that I'm insisting on. Their — its —  idea of the new "weapon" is not the speech that corporations will make in the public sphere, but rather the threats of speech that lobbyists — defined properly — will make in private too legislators:
“We have got a million we can spend advertising for you or against you — whichever one you want,’ ” a lobbyist can tell lawmakers....

"White House Says Bears Part Of Blame For Senate Loss."

Great headline!

In Nevada: the first legal male prostitute... serving women only.

He's the first legal "gigolo" — a legalo? — in the country.
"Whichever woman may walk through that door, she's appreciated," Markus said in his Details interview. "A surrogate lover will love that woman for a whole hour, or however much we charge here, and she'll leave feeling much more empowered and much more confident in herself."
Are women really going to do this? It's $300 an hour at a well-established brothel called Shady Lady.
"It won't be successful," said Arie Mack Moore, owner of the Angel's Ladies Brothel, about two miles north of Beatty. "You can't have both (male and female prostitutes) in the same building or adjacent to each other, in my opinion."

Moore claims his business has picked up since Markus was hired, with customers saying they wanted to avoid the Shady Lady because of Markus.
Hmm. I would think women customers would want to avoid being around male customers. Or wait. If they're both customers, why don't they save $600 and just have sex with each other?
A 22-year-old prostitute at Angel's Ladies named "Cuddles" said Markus' unwillingness to see gay males makes the Shady Lady seem sexist and discriminatory. Her brothel services women.
Ha ha. There is no end to the problems, is there? Isn't almost everybody a big old sexist when it comes to whom they're willing to have sex with? How can that be bad? And it's prostitution! Why are we even criticizing prostitutes for being bad? The whole thing is inherently bad... or at least unconventional. How can you go all PC? It's a prostitute named Cuddles, going all PC. That's quite something.
"How can you just turn down services because of what someone's preferences is? It comes with the territory. It comes with the business," she said.
Business? But Markus said it was love.
George Flint, a longtime lobbyist for the Nevada Brothel Owners Association, said allowing a male prostitute creates legitimate health concerns. Male customers are thoroughly cleaned and inspected for signs of disease before sex at Nevada's brothels, and he doesn't believe the same "fanaticism" is possible when checking female customers.
This is the funniest part, isn't it? Fanaticism isn't possible when checking the lady parts.
Flint said he believed the Shady Lady Ranch... could see a temporary wave of curious female customers, but the experiment will ultimately fail.... "You and I and the rest of the world can sit and debate this damn thing until hell freezes over, but if nobody shows up at her front door, what's it proved?"
Well, it's not a very good experiment, so its failure doesn't mean there's no potential in the gigolo end of the prostitution business. Shady Lady has one guy, and the place is full of female prostitutes and their male clients. I wouldn't call it a failure until you try it with an array of men, not just Markus. And have more of a spa-like, "exclusive" ambiance that is completely oriented to female taste, not some crazy old whorehouse designed for male clientele. Nothing that would call itself "shady." Make it very clean and well-lit. White linen. Work some luxury bathing into the schedule of  "treatments" to handle the "legitimate health concerns" noted above. I'm sure you can think of plenty more good ideas for the design of a (legal) prostitution business that would attract female customers.

UPDATE: Blogger has unpublished this post on the theory that it violates the "Illegal activities policy." This keeps happening to me. Posts about prostitution — based on news articles — are treated as though I were conducting the business of prostitution! I thought Google's artificial intelligence was more sophisticated than that, but here I am, once again, devoting my time to asserting that I'm not a prostitute.

And you, President Obama, a law professor!

So, the Supreme Court came out with a big free-speech decision yesterday, and President Obama's response was that he needs "to develop a forceful response to this decision. The public interest requires nothing less." I've already used that quote as part of the discussion in the earlier post "On the day that the Supreme Court struck down a U.S. statute as a violation of free speech, Hillary Clinton was promoting free speech on the internet," but I want to break out a very particular question for discussion.

The President was a law professor — technically, a "senior lecturer" at the University of Chicago Law School — for 12 years. Why would a law professor oppose a Supreme Court decision on a matter of constitutional law and not respect the authority of the Court and honor our system of separation of powers?

Now, I've been a law professor and I've been with the professors for more than twice 12 years, and I have my answer to that question. I'll tell you that in a little while. I'll just watch this movie clip....

ADDED: A day has passed, and you've chewed over the question. Now, I'll give my answer. It is exactly what I, a law professor, would expect to hear from another law professor! The odd thing is that Obama, a politician, didn't stop himself from saying the kind of thing lawprofs say to each other.

Non-lawprof Americans tend to think that the Constitution really means something and that that the Supreme Court has a special role and expertise in saying what it means, that a 5-4 decision is something more than just a vote on what 9 power-wielders would like the law to be.

I would expect a politician to tend to the voters' feelings. Obama should have said that he would like to explore ways to write a new statute that will respect the rights the Court has articulated and still serve the good and proper goals that the defective statute was meant to serve. With some sugar about how rights are important.

Dying for photography, 100 years ago.

Wilson A Bentley made the first photographs of single snowflakes, using a microscope and a bellows camera.
Snowflake expert Kenneth G Libbrecht said the photos did not meet modern standards because of the "crude equipment" Bentley used.

"But he did it so well that hardly anybody bothered to photograph snowflakes for almost 100 years," Mr Libbrecht added....

Bentley, who was known as The Snowflake Man, wrote in 1925: "Under the microscope, I found that snowflakes were miracles of beauty and it seemed a shame that this beauty should not be seen and appreciated by others.

"Every crystal was a masterpiece of design, and no one design was ever repeated. When a snowflake melted, that design was forever lost."
After catching innumerable snowflakes and preserving them forever, he "caught pneumonia in a blizzard" and died.

IN THE COMMENTS: Bob_R said: "It's like Hugh Hefner being killed by being crushed by a million breasts."

"The Obama administration has decided to continue to imprison without trials nearly 50 detainees at the Guantánamo Bay military prison in Cuba..."

"... because a high-level task force has concluded that they are too difficult to prosecute but too dangerous to release, an administration official said on Thursday."


Quick! Somebody help me construct a giant papier-mache Obama head, STAT!

On the day that the Supreme Court struck down a U.S. statute as a violation of free speech, Hillary Clinton was promoting free speech on the internet...

... criticizing other countries.

Here are some excerpts... that is: everything she said about blogs:
Blogs, emails, social networks, and text messages have opened up new forums for exchanging ideas, and created new targets for censorship....

[V]iral videos and blog posts are becoming the samizdat of our day....

Some nations.... have co-opted the internet as a tool to target and silence people of faith. Last year, for example, in Saudi Arabia, a man spent months in prison for blogging about Christianity....

QUESTION: Dr. Nguyen Dinh Thang with BPSOS. We serve Vietnamese Americans and work with Vietnamese in Vietnam. While your initiative will take some time to take effect, just recently, in recent months, the Vietnamese Government sentenced several bloggers to five years all the way to 16 years in prison. So what does your office plan to do, and how the U.S. Government can confront such an emergency situation in Vietnam?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we have publicly spoken out against the detention, conviction, and imprisonment of not only the bloggers in Vietnam, but some of the Buddhist monks and nuns and others who have been subjected to harassment.
Vietnam has made so much progress, and it’s just moving with great alacrity into the future, raising the standard of living of their people. And we don’t believe they should be afraid of commentary that is internal. In fact, I would like to see more governments, if you disagree with what a blogger or a website is saying, get in and argue with them. Explain what it is you’re doing. Put out contrary information. Point out what the pitfalls are of the position that a blogger might be taking.
So I hope that Vietnam will move more in that direction, because I think it goes hand in hand with the progress that we’ve seen in the last few years there. ...
Governments should not be afraid of commentary that is internal. If government doesn't like what people are saying get in and argue with them. Explain what it is you’re doing. Put out contrary information.

Yes. We not only have a First Amendment here in America, we believe in the rights it guarantees. We think other countries' governments ought to embrace the same principles. Come on, everybody! It's great! The marketplace of ideas.

Meanwhile, over at the White House, the President of the United States had a statement, released immediately upon the issuance of a new Supreme Court opinion strengthening free speech rights:
With its ruling today, the Supreme Court has given a green light to a new stampede of special interest money in our politics. It is a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans. This ruling gives the special interests and their lobbyists even more power in Washington--while undermining the influence of average Americans who make small contributions to support their preferred candidates. That's why I am instructing my Administration to get to work immediately with Congress on this issue. We are going to talk with bipartisan Congressional leaders to develop a forceful response to this decision. The public interest requires nothing less.
A forceful response to a Supreme Court decision recognizing the importance of free speech. It would have been even more painfully funny if Hillary Clinton had also, in her speech yesterday, promoted the American values of separation of powers and an independent judiciary.

Here's the ending of Justice Kennedy's opinion for the Court in Citizens United v. FEC:
When word concerning the plot of the movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington reached the circles of Government, some officials sought, by persuasion, to discourage its distribution.... Under Austin [the case the Court overrules], though, officials could have done more than discourage its distribution—they could have banned the film. After all, it, like Hillary, was speech funded by a corporation that was critical of Members of Congress. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington may be fiction and caricature; but fiction and caricature can be a powerful force.
Yes, ironically, the Citizens United case was about a movie called "Hillary" that criticized Hillary Clinton.
Modern day movies, television comedies, or skits on Youtube.com might portray public officials or public policies in unflattering ways. Yet if a covered transmission during the blackout period creates the background for candidate endorsement or opposition, a felony occurs solely because a corporation, other than an exempt media corporation, has made the “purchase, payment, distribution, loan, advance, deposit, or gift of money or anything of value” in order to engage in political speech. 2 U. S. C. §431(9)(A)(i).
Congress criminalized some political speech. But Hillary would like to apply moral pressure to countries like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Vietnam who imprisoned people for political speech.
Speech would be suppressed in the realm where its necessity is most evident: in the public dialogue preceding a real election. Governments are often hostile to speech, but under our law and our tradition it seems stranger than fiction for our Government to make this political speech a crime. Yet this is the statute’s purpose and design.
I added that boldfacing.
Some members of the public might consider Hillary to be insightful and instructive; some might find it to be neither high art nor a fair discussion on how to set the Nation’s course; still others simply might suspend judgment on these points but decide to think more about issues and candidates. Those choices and assessments, however, are not for the Government to make. “The First Amendment underwrites the freedom to experiment and to create in the realm of thought and speech. Citizens must be free to use new forms, and new forums, for the expression of ideas. The civic discourse belongs to the people, and the Government may not prescribe the means used to conduct it.”....
And our government is developing a forceful response to that. Brilliant. Idiots.

January 21, 2010

At the Encouraging Building Café...


... there's a good chance you'll be very annoying.

"I sometimes think Americans want to live dangerously. They think this wouldn’t be America if you had health coverage."

Christopher Hitchens muses.
[The Massachusetts election] confirms to me something I’ve long thought and hate saying, but I’ve always thought that deep down, Americans do not want to be covered. They just don’t want national health. They say they do when they’re asked. They put it quite high up on the list. They feel they ought to say yes, but they don’t really... You and your children should be at risk. It’s funny, but it’s there somewhere.

"German commentators say it is the end of hope."

"The World Bids Farewell to Obama."

Jan Crawford bluntly describes Justice Stevens's seeming decline.

Stevens, who is about to turn 90, read a strongly worded dissent in the courtroom today:
[I]t was striking to see him appear to stumble over words as he read it, to mispronounce words like “corruption” and “allegation,” to seem to lose his place in his summary, to often hit the microphone with his hand or his papers.

... [I]t was so different from the John Paul Stevens we’ve come to know.
It's sad when aging shows, just as it's inspiring when an older person is especially vigorous. But no one can go one forever.

I wonder what a Supreme Court confirmation will be like in the new political environment, with the elections approaching in the fall.

Air America crashes to the ground.

Suddenly, today.
“The fact of the matter was, it was always a very challenging business proposition, and it never had the right management,” said Sam Seder, who hosted programs on Air America until last year.

The headwinds were enormous, he said, adding, “Radio is a dying industry.”
Well, that's got to find its way into Rush Limbaugh's "stack of stuff" for tomorrow.

"Radium water actually even less healthy than you already thought."

Oh, no! We're going to have to look elsewhere for revigatoring.

"Sealing an online product off from the core online experience seems to me to be a medium at war with itself and a business not fully aware of the actual product it is creating."

"[The New York Times is] having a hell of a time monetizing [the web] because it is too vast, too borderless, too fluid to carve out property on it. It's like trying to make a profit in a communist state.... [Bloggers have] feel optimistic... because we've tried to take advantage of this new dimension, by being a totally open source portal, a hub, a node of conversation and argument. This brings in readers and advertizers. Are the advertizers enough to finance a news organization? Not yet, and maybe never.... The NYT may be smart in doing what it's doing... but it may lead to even greater traffic for blogs that can merely cite or summarize NYT pieces and have small excerpts as fair use as well..."

So writes Andrew Sullivan, who seems to be overcorrecting his tendency toward British spelling.

Responding to the Supreme Court's new free political speech opinion, Obama hits his "fat cats" theme.

"With its ruling today, the Supreme Court has given a green light to a new stampede of special interest money in our politics. It is a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans."

For big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests... including labor unions.

"If you're a girl and you're nervous, you flip your hair."

If you're a boy and you're nervous... !!!

I coin a phrase — "Find Your Todd Palin" — in this new Bloggingheads, with Emily Bazelon.

Why did Scott Brown win?
Health care bill: too extreme/not extreme enough
Brown’s keys to victory: sexiness and a pickup truck
As wives become the breadwinners, what happens to sex?
Ann’s husband chimes in on powerful women finding mates
Retroactive matchmaking: Elizabeth Edwards and Todd Palin
Ann's husband chimes in... ha ha...

I should have linked to this version of "Reflection."

Back here. It would have meant more.

AND: Speaking of Scott Brown's women...

At the Forbidden Reflection Café...

... will you ever know who you really are?

ADDED: Thanks to Instapundit for linking to this — and, as you'll see if you clink on the "will you ever know" link — to Pogo for making the connection to Magritte and to Henry (the commenter) for the photoshopping.

"Much will depend on the wording, but today's decision is a small revolution in campaign finance law."

The Supreme Court has just issued the long-awaited Citizens United case. SCOTUSblog has a live-blog going on it. This is very big.

ADDED: Briefly:
The Supreme Court has ruled that corporations may spend freely to support or oppose candidates for president and Congress, easing decades-old limits on their participation in federal campaigns....

The justices also struck down part of the landmark McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill that barred union- and corporate-paid issue ads in the closing days of election campaigns.

"I had no idea he was going to do that. I saw the script and there was definitely no mention of that. It was totally off script."

Charming? Dorky? Creepy? ... Scary?!
“I want a chastity belt on this man,” [Glenn] Beck said. “I want his every move watched in Washington. I don't trust this guy. This one could end with a dead intern.”
And keep an eye on Beck too. Something's not quite right with that man's brain. For one thing, Gary Condit did not kill Chandra Levy.

"Pelosi is faced with an enormous challenge because her natural style is to run a very left-wing operation and to dominate her caucus."

"She is facing the reality that the model she’s adopted is probably not sustainable when you have a country that’s in open rebellion against you."

Poor Nancy!

ADDED: Pelosi: "In every meeting that we have had, there would be nothing to give me any thought that that bill could pass right now the way that it is. There isn't a market right now for proceeding with the full bill unless some big changes are made."

When will my reflection show who I am inside?

There's a heart that must be free to fly that burns with a need to know the reason why...

That's a picture taken a year ago, as Obama was about to take the inaugural oath. It was uploaded yesterday, along with a lot of other nostalgic photos, to the White Flickr site.


"Obama's first year: What went wrong."

IN THE COMMENTS: Pogo is reminded of this Magritte painting:

ADDED: Henry does the photoshopping:

"I am Quinn's father... It was wrong for me ever to deny she was my daughter and hopefully one day, when she understands, she will forgive me."

Yes, a lot of things were wrong, including that, but is there one shred of evidence that you'd admit to any wrongdoing before everybody already knew about it? I thought not? So why are you still getting on TV? Go away! Do penance for your sins... somewhere where we don't see you. And maybe one day, you will deserve forgiveness.

"I'm easy. I'm strongly inclined to vote for the thing, even though I don't like the health care tax thing."

The Thing.

You said it was dead, and now it's back.

"The app even warned Woolley not to fall asleep if he felt he was going into shock..."

"... so he set his cellphone’s alarm clock to go off every 20 minutes."

Cindy McCain poses glamorously with duct tape over her mouth to symbolize...

... well, what is that supposed to symbolize? I get that she supports same-sex marriage, but what does that have to do with anybody forcibly silencing her? If you have something to say, lady, just say it and quit blaming others. Especially if you insist on blaming others in gorgeous photography with fabulous makeup and a gentle wind machine puffing out your silky white-blond hair.

January 20, 2010

I'm #3.

As a lawprof blogger. Same rank as last time. It's one thing to get ahead of Hewitt. But to best Volokh... I mean — what? — are there 18 lawprofs over there! How can one lady lawprof beat 18 lawprof guys? (Yes, there are 18, all male.) But #1 is, as ever, Instapundit. One guy. It's not 18 against one there. It's one. And, actually, I think one is the best number of writers on a blog. And one cannot even dream of getting to #1 as long as Instapundit is in the game.

Rush Limbaugh celebrates.

The man is jubilant.
Folks, this is bigger than 1994. The level of outrage and disgust with the statism, the expansion of government, the accrual of wealth or debt that is being piled up, it's worse. The public outrage, the fright, the fear, the demand for something different is worse than 1994 when the Republicans took the House....

What should Obama say about last night's election?

How about:
"We won't agree on every issue... But we do agree that we love America equally, that we're concerned about the future of this country, and that we will do our very best to address big problems... The American people expect us to rise above partisan differences, and my administration will do its part...."

"[T]rustworthy, aggressively reported professional journalism, which is an increasingly rare and precious thing."

What Bill Keller, the executive editor of the NYT, says the NYT does and cites as the reason we should accept being required to pay to read it — which we will have to do, starting in 2011.

There will be some free access, but it looks like it will be something like 10 articles a month. That is, unless you pay, the NYT will disappear as a significant news site. Will a blogger like me be able to link to and discuss articles? It will be quite awkward, and it will deter me from reading the articles in the first place. As an individual, if I didn't blog, I would pay for access to the NYT, but I do blog, and I will be reading as a blogger, that is, reading things I might link to.

"White House: No Events to Mark 1st Year in Office."

O! The glumness!

We were the ones we'd been waiting for.

(Via Instapundit.)

Drudge sees Scott Brown driving that truck on to the White House.

We've seen conservatism in the idealized female form, the lovely Sarah Palin with her moose. And now, we see conservatism in the idealized male form, the handsome Scott Brown in his truck.

Evan Bayh: "if you lose Massachusetts and that’s not a wake-up call, there’s no hope of waking up."

“[M]oderates and independents even in a state as Democratic as Massachusetts just aren’t buying our message. They just don’t believe the answers we are currently proposing are solving their problems. That’s something that has to be corrected.... Whenever you have just the furthest left elements of the Dem party attempting to impose their will on the rest of the country— that’s not going to work too well.”

In short, the Democrats have gone way left of the American people, and they need to come back.

Barney Frank: "Our respect for democratic procedures must rule out any effort to pass a health care bill as if the Massachusetts election had not happened."

"Going forward, I hope there will be a serious effort to change the Senate rule which means that 59 votes are not enough to pass major legislation, but those are the rules by which the health care bill was considered, and it would be wrong to change them in the middle of the process."

ADDED: Josh Marshall is perplexed:
So I was genuinely surprised, really shocked to see this statement [Barney Frank] put out tonight that is just an embodiment of fecklessness, resignation, defeatism and just plan folly. The gist of his point is that that's it for health care reform. If a few Republican senators will come across the aisle and help maybe it will happen. But if not, that's it. Amazing. Just amazing.
Barney Frank is a politician, a smart one. Work it out from there.

Brown wants you to marry his daughters.

January 19, 2010

"You've just witnessed a wicked political pivot..."

Says Sarah Palin (speaking just now on Greta Van Susteren's show).

Brown wins!

By a lot. Coakley has conceded. Astounding. What does it mean? What will the Democrats in Congress do now? What will Obama do?

Poor Obama! It's the eve of the anniversary of his inauguration. The State of the Union was supposed to be very grand. And now what? He has been repudiated! He made this election a referendum on the Democrats agenda, and the people of Massachusetts, the most liberal state, gave him a resounding no.

Now, I think that could be good for Obama. He's a man of change. Let him change. I hope he becomes the President I thought he could be when I voted for him. With the midterm elections looming in the fall, he can readjust, set himself apart from Congress. Take the people seriously.

At the Massachusetts Tavern...


... let's watch the election results and talk about what it all means.

IN THE COMMENTS: "Brown is the new, male Palin."

"I look like a wicked dark goddess who had a fight with a shoelacer-maker who's also a GIANT."

"Do you believe in life after looooooooooove?"

Beautiful video of a woman rescued after 6 days.

It's men who are marrying up now.


The question is whether they can figure out how to do it well. It's not the same for a man as for a woman, because you don't have the whole weight of tradition assuring you that you're doing something beautiful and good or making you feel that you need to do something more up-to-date. That might make it easier or more difficult.

ADDED: Here's the WaPo's treatment of the same material, with more detail about the underlying research.

AND: So the NYT relied on it's standard Story of One Woman approach, the WaPo went with a dry presentation of the report, and New York summed it up crisply with insightful humor:
This is good news in that it signifies that women's earnings have increased so that they are more on par with men's, and that everyone is getting more comfortable with the notion of equity among the sexes. It is also kind of bad news in that it may encourage that subspecies of men who have, anecdotally if not scientifically, been proven to be congenitally lazy (budding musicians in their mid-twenties), and in that it throws a wrench in the story single women in New York have been telling each other over the years, which is that the reason they are single is that they are simply too amazing for dudes to handle, and that their rare combination of brains, beauty, wealth, and success intimidates men to the point that they have to run away and seek shelter with inferior mates because otherwise they might shrivel up into raisinlike creatures under the light of their awesomeness.


... it might kill you.

Interestingly, nothing big happened yesterday in the Coakley/Brown race.

I was expecting some shocking, hard-to-deflect shot at Brown. The lack of any dirt to throw is evidenced by the bizarrely lame use of a remark about a curling iron that Scott Brown may either have heard or not:
A video is circulating in which Republican ScottBrown seemingly smiles at a violent, sexist taunt directed at his Democratic challenger Martha Coakley at a rally.

"Shove a curling up HER butt," shouted one attendee off-camera. Brown, holding a bullhorn, seemed to smile and nod in acknowledgement.
Didn't Jerry Seinfeld teach us not to nod and smile at things we haven't heard?
(Kramer's girlfriend starts to mumble out some words, but Kramer's the only one who seems to hear her. Jerry and Elaine both bend forward, trying to hear what she's saying)

ELAINE: What's that?

JERRY: Excuse me?

(She 'talks' some more. Jerry and Elaine still can't hear her. They give up - leaning back in their seats)

JERRY: Yeah.. yeah.

ELAINE: Yep. Yeah..

KRAMER: You know that, uh, Leslie (Points to her) is in the clothing business? She's a designer.

ELAINE: (Interested) Oh?

KRAMER: In fact, she's come up with a new one that is going to be the big new look in mens fashions.. It's a, a puffy shirt. (Leslie mumbles to Kramer) Well, yeah,

it - it's all puffy. Like the pirates used to wear.

ELAINE: Oh, a puffy shirt.

JERRY: Puffy.

KRAMER: Yeah, see, I think people want to look like pirates. You know, it's the right time for it.. to be all puffy, and devil-may-care..

(Leslie starts 'talking', Kramer laughs. Jerry and Elaine have no clue what she's saying. They lean closer)

KRAMER: (Still laughing) That's true.. (Gets up) I'll be right back. (Walks off laughing. Jerry and Elaine are left with the low-talker. A moment passes)

ELAINE: Uh, oh! (Remembers something they could talk about) Jerry's going to be on the "Today" show on Friday.

JERRY: Yeah, that's right!

ELAINE: Yep.. yep. Um, he's promoting a benefit for Goodwill, you know, they, uh, they clothe the poor, and the homeless..

JERRY: (Points at Elaine) And the indigent.

ELAINE: And the indigent, yeah.. I, I do volunteer work for them. I set the whole thing up, and I got Jerry to do it.

(Leslie starts talking. Of course, Jerry and Elaine can't hear her voice)

JERRY: Sure.

ELAINE: Ohh, yeah. Yeah.. yep.

(Leslie talks some more)

JERRY: Uh-huh.


JERRY: Yep..

That's where Jerry agreed to wear the embarrassing and humiliating puffy shirt on television.

You think you're maintaining your friendly image, but you're nodding at the wrong thing.

Now, there's some hope for the Democrats. Maybe, if Scott Brown goes to the Senate, they can get him to vote for things by not letting him hear what the vote is about, and he'll just nod and smile. Actually, they kind of already do that amongst themselves. They are always voting for things they haven't heard/read... like that 2,000-page health care bill. If they do pass it and we find out what it is, it may be a lot worse than wearing the puffy shirt on TV.

Speaking of not hearing things, the Coakley pushers have specialized in tone-deafness. Obama dissing trucks and so forth. The effort to pin the curling iron remark on Brown is another example of this tone-deafness, because once you bring it up, you bring up what it refers to: a real case where a man raped a baby girl with a curling iron:
The shouter's threat is in reference to a sexual abuse case, covered at length in the Boston Globe, involving a curling iron that critics say Coakley, as attorney general, did not aggressively prosecute.
Here's that article from the Boston Globe:
In October 2005, a Somerville police officer living in Melrose raped his 23-month-old niece with a hot object, most likely a curling iron.

Keith Winfield, then 31, told police he was alone with the toddler that day and made additional statements that would ultimately be used to convict him.

But in the aftermath of the crime, a Middlesex County grand jury overseen by Martha Coakley, then the district attorney, investigated without taking action.

It was only after the toddler’s mother filed applications for criminal complaints that Coakley won grand jury indictments charging rape and assault and battery.

Even then, nearly 10 months after the crime, Coakley’s office recommended that Winfield be released on personal recognizance, with no cash bail. He remained free until December 2007, when Coakley’s successor as district attorney won a conviction and two life terms.
So what's worse: 1. Brown nodding and smiling at something that he possibly heard (which he'd be an idiot to smile at, so only people who already oppose him will infer that he'd heard), or 2. the way Coakley handled the Winfield case?

But it was the last day of the campaign, and something was needed. Falling, you grab onto what you can, and that was it. That was, at best, desperate and pathetic. At worst, it was a tone-deaf reminder of the Coakley's laxity in case of the guilty Keith Winfield case... and, once we are there, we may think once more of her perverse aggressiveness toward the innocent Amiraults.

Ah, but that last desperate day is over. The voting is on, and the time for dredging up dirt is thankfully over.

There are "certain girls"... apparently including me...

... see comment #1... who make women writers feel... hmmm... what's that all about?

It's the first day of the semester...

... we call Spring...


January 18, 2010

At the Hoar House....


... the reception is frosty.

Indian Lake at midday.


Beautiful ski trails:


I had to take my skis off and walk some of the hillier places, but I got to see how much fun I could have if I built up my skills.

"Why would you hand the keys to the car back to the same guys whose policies drove the economy into the ditch and then walked away from the scene of the accident?"

That's Chris Van Hollen, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, meaning to help Coakley win Teddy Kennedy's seat, and running right off the road into a ditch called Chappaquiddick.

Let's read the full text of Obama's pro-Coakley speech.

Ah! I found the full text of the remarks Barack Obama made in Boston yesterday. Reading earlier news reports, I was struck by the lack of anything actually about Martha Coakley, the candidate he came to support. That's why my blog post last night reads — was I too enigmatic? — "The personal touch turns chillingly impersonal." I got the impression that he mainly said the Democratic Party needed another vote in the Senate, and Coakley was the Democrat. Did he have anything specific to say about her? It was personal to travel to Massachusetts to help her out, but when he got there, it seems, he went impersonal, and only characterized her as a Democratic Party vote.

Now, I want to check out that impression by reading the whole speech.

The first section consists of generic cries of "Fired up!," introductory thank yous, references to his time living in Boston — Cambridge, really, wasn't it? — and an indirect reference to the Red Sox in the form of a reference to the White Sox. And that was an indirect reference to Coakley's cockup about Curt Schilling.

Finally, he's ready to talk about Coakley.
And today I've come to talk about one thing.
I've come to talk about Tuesday.
Oh, Tuesday!
On Tuesday, you have the unique and special responsibility to fill the Senate seat that you sent Ted Kennedy to fill for nearly 47 years. And I am here to tell you that the person for that job is your attorney general, Martha Coakley. (Applause.)
Finally, the name has been spoken.
Now, there's been a lot said in this race about how it's not the Kennedy's seat -- it's the people's seat.
He quotes Scott Brown's best line.
And let me tell you, the first person who would agree with that was Ted Kennedy.
Good. Play off Brown's line.
See, the only thing he loved more than the people of this commonwealth was serving the people of this commonwealth.
Huh? He loved the people, and he loved serving the people even more than he loved the people. Well, okay. Ted was a people guy, a man of the people, a servant of the people, really into serving. Servile as all get-out.

There follows a paragraph about all that Ted did for the people. That segues into the representation of Martha Coakley as a woman of the people — "raised in North Adams, one of five kids... worked her way up..." — who has worked for the people. This is the part of the speech that is specifically about her as opposed to Obama's agenda and the need for another Democratic vote in the Senate. It is 2 paragraphs long and — I counted — about 7% of the total verbiage. He says:
Look at her record. As a prosecutor, she took on cases most of us don't even want to think about, putting murderers and child abusers away.
And the Amiraults too. Who wants to think about that?!
As attorney general, she took on Wall Street and recovered millions for Massachusetts taxpayers -- (applause) -- took on predatory lenders that were taking advantage of Massachusetts families. She went after big insurance companies that misled people into buying coverage only to deny it when they got sick. She went after big polluters who put the health of your family at risk. Time and again, Martha has taken on those who game the system at expense of hardworking, middle-class families.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Let's go, Martha! (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: That's the kind of leader the people of Massachusetts need now more than ever. (Applause.) You need somebody -- (audience interruption) --
Oh, here's where that heckling takes place and Obama takes forever to end the disruption, with the audience eventually coming in with booing and then a "Fired up!" chant. You can look at the clip here. I can't figure out what the guy is yelling. "One more [???]!" One more Chevy?

Hmmm. I kind of get the feeling Obama is glad to be interrupted there. Sort of: Oh, good, now I don't have to talk about Martha Coakley anymore. Just let this play out. Maybe I'll look like the underdog and people really will get fired up.

Hmmm. Any chance the interruption was a scripted part of the presentation?

Finally, he gets back to his prepared remarks. Conveniently, he's through with the details about Martha. He tells us we need "somebody who has fought for the people" because times are tough. He's got something to say about "Martha's opponent":
He's driving his truck around the commonwealth -- (laughter) -- and he says that he gets you, that he fights for you, that he'll be an independent voice. And I don't know him, he may be a perfectly nice guy. I don't know his record, but I don't know whether he's been fighting for you up until now, but --
So he doesn't know anything about the guy he's about to tear down, but please laugh at the man who drives a truck. He doesn't worry that the truck might backfire. It becomes a theme in the next section:
Forget the truck. (Laughter.) Everybody can buy a truck. (Laughter.)...
... I'd think long and hard about getting in that truck with Martha's opponent. (Laughter.) It might not take you where you want to go....
Now, the repeated recurrence of the truck may be a good distraction, because this section of the speech is incoherent. Obama wants to tell us that the Democrats will build up the economy and cut taxes the right way, but he also demonizes business and wants us to reject Republicans because they are on the side of business. The key seems to be to distinguish between small business and Wall Street bankers. In this framework, it's hard to explain all the money — tax money — that we — including the Democrats — handed to bankers:
It was your tax dollars that saved Wall Street banks from their own recklessness, keeping them from collapsing and dragging our entire economy down with them.

But today, those same banks are once again making billions in profits and on track to hand out more money in bonuses than ever before, while the American people are still in a world of hurt.
So you helped the banks, but you don't want to say it was great that the help worked. Do you want them to succeed or not? Would it be better if we all suffered together?
Now, we've recovered most of your money already, but I don't think "most of your money" is good enough. We want all our money back. We're going to collect every dime. (Applause.) That's why I proposed a new fee on the largest financial firms -- to pay the American people back for saving their skin.
What is the connection between a "new fee" and getting all our money back? Isn't it great that we've got most of the money back, and isn't it enough to get the rest the money back? Why the fee? To punish success? To my ears, it's a non sequitur.
But instead of taking the side of working families in Massachusetts, Martha's opponent is already walking in lockstep with Washington Republicans, opposing that fee, defending the same fat cats who are getting rewarded for their failure.
But you didn't explain the fee. You're demonizing the bankers — "fat cats" — the very people that you gave our tax money too. And how are they "getting rewarded for their failure" if the bailout worked? Why aren't you pleased with the effective use of our tax money? It's incoherent.
Now, there's a big difference here. It gives you a sense of who the respective candidates are going to be fighting for, despite the rhetoric, despite the television ads, despite the truck. (Laughter.) Martha is going to make sure you get your money back. (Applause.)
Get our money back or impose that "new fee"? Scott Brown isn't against getting the bailout money back, is he? This is deliberate obfuscation, it seems.
She's got your back. Her opponent has got Wall Street's back. (Applause.)
That sounds nicely slogan-y, but what does it mean? You can count on Democrats to be hostile to business? How is it defending us to attack Wall Street, and if it is, why did you give so much of our money to Wall Street?

Obama wants to say that he's helping the economy:
We're forcing the banks finally to start lending again on Main Street, and not just worried about profits.
That's an attitude about the economy that people ought to examine. Forcing lending? Isn't that what led to the mortgage crisis? Don't we want banks to worry about profits so they don't go back to making all those bad loans? And don't we want the hope of profit to motivate people to take risks? Apparently not.
So understand what's at stake here, Massachusetts. It's whether we're going forward, or going backwards.

AUDIENCE: Forward!

THE PRESIDENT: It's whether we're going to have a future where everybody gets a shot in this society, or just the privileged few. If you were fired up in the last election, I need you more fired up in this election.
And with that, Obama makes the special election in Massachusetts into a referendum on the work he and the Democrats in Congress have been doing for the past year. You were excited about me, he says. You wanted change. If you want us to keep moving on in the direction we ran after you gave us the power, we need you to elect Coakley. The election transcends anything personal about her — or Scott Brown, whom Obama purports to know nothing about other than that he's a Republican (and has a truck).

Obama wants that vote, and that vote comes in the form of Martha Coakley. It's the "people's seat," as Scott Brown called it, but it's the Democrats who are for the people — and against business (unless it's small!) — so fire up and vote for Martha.

"I proclaim the end of the world. All the world will be destroyed in this century. Every human being will die in this century," signed "The Christ Eternal Mehmet Ali Agca."

That's what Mehmet Ali Agca, the man who shot Pope John Paul II in the hand, arm and abdomen, wrote in a statement made upon his release from prison. Yes, he's now a free man. But he was pardoned in 2000 for shooting the Pope. He only served 19 years for that. The reason that he's been in prison these last 10 years is that he was extradited to his home country, Turkey, to serve a sentence for other crimes, including murder.
Agca has said he wants to visit the pope's tomb in Rome, and meet his successor, Pope Benedict.

"He has served his time in jail so now he is a free man according to the law. Let's hope also his heart has changed," said Archbishop Ennio Apignanesi.

"Maybe he will come to Rome. The Pope went twice to forgive him. Now he could come and make a prayer."
Are you getting this Christian forgiveness thing?

View from the bedroom window at dawn.


Elephant camouflage.

Chip animates that wall.

January 17, 2010

Live-blogging the Golden Globes.

1. Oh, why not? Ricky Gervais is here, hosting, making jokes about the tininess of his penis and how it looks big in his small hands where it usually is. That might sound funnier if it weren't 7 pm (Central Time) on network TV. Then, here's Nicole Kidman looking great with red hair and a light pink dress featuring prominent tiny nipples. She reminds us about Haiti, then hands out the best supporting actress award to Mo'nique, who is overdraped in gold satin and fabulously made up with ultralong eyelashes. Mo'nique loves God and all the other actors in her movie "Precious."

2. Most of the women are wearing asymmetrical dresses, and Julianna Margulies, who won the TV actress award, looked like she got confused getting into the straps of hers. Michael C. Hall, who won the TV actor award, has on a wool stocking cap for some reason. As a tribute to victims of the Haitian earthquake? I don't know. [ADDED: I'm told Hall has cancer. I'm sorry.]

3. The set is orange. I'm tired of looking at orange. Is it supposed to be "golden"? Hey, suddenly: Cher! She looks statuesque and hourglassy. It's the song award. Paul McCartney is nominated and there, but he doesn't win.

4. Meryl Streep wins best [comedy/musical] actress for "Julie and Julia." She's shrouded in a big black dress clamped on with a thick buckled belt. But she has one naked shoulder left out of the shroud, so she's on the asymmetry kick with everyone else. She pretends she didn't remember what she wanted to say and stammers her way into a tribute to her mother and a mini-breakdown over all the suffering in the world.

5. Drew Barrymore gets a TV actress award for "Grey Gardens." She's wearing the best outfit for the day, but it's quite silly, covered in crystal pimples with a glitter hedgehog at one shoulder and the opposite hip.

6. Samuel L. Jackson introduces "a real-life movie star" — Sophia Loren. She's got a beautiful symmetrical dress. It's black, outlining her famous breasts and nipping in at her should-be-equally-famous waist, and it has sheer sleeves that are shaded at the shoulders with a sprinkling of black beads for an ombre effect. She gives the foreign film award to "The White Ribbon."

7. "Mad Man" is the best TV show. The best TV actress is Chloe Sevigny (for "Big Love"). Cool. I like her. She's wearing an insane widely-ruffled mauve dress and she's gasping about ripping it, not that she ripped it in any kind of an interesting way.

8. Halle Berry looks sharp and sleek in a tight black dress with little cap sleeves and a giant plunge down the chest. Her hair is crisply modern too — short and sticking up on top. She gives the supporting movie actor award to Christoph Waltz, who was so wonderful as the Nazi in "Inglourious Basterds."

9. "Marty eats, drinks, and sleeps film. I hear there are videos on the internet of Marty having sex with film." It's Robert DeNiro, talking about Martin Scorsese, who's getting one of these lifetime awards. Cool clip show, reminding me, among other things, of how much I love...  "After Hours"... and "King of Comedy"....

10. Oh, they love Jodie Foster. She's wearing a plain black dress, that makes it's nod to asymmetry with a slit up the left leg. She's not giving an award, just presenting one of the films. Gervais, sipping from that beer he's got at the lectern: "I like a drink as much as the next man... unless the next man... is Mel Gibson." Here's Gibson, acting drunk, for fun... supposedly. The category is director, and the award goes to ... suspense... James Cameron. He doesn't say "I'm the king of  the world." He tells us he's got to "pee something fierce."

11. The best TV show is "Glee." That's nice, I guess. "This is for everybody who got a wedgie in high school."

12. Ah, we're almost done. It's the best comedy/musical award. "The Hangover." Mike Tyson is involved. Strange!

13. Arnold Schwarzenegger! The actor. It's as if that whole thing about him being governor was just some crazy dream. He presents "Avatar," which looks really annoying. Then Mickey Rourke comes out — in a cowboy hat — to do the drama actress award. It's Mickey because he won best actor last year, not because he's the height of Hollywood glamour, which he's not. The winner is Sandra Bullock, and Mickey looks really disappointed. Sandra is wearing a very filmy, very purple dress.

14. Sally Hutton announces the drama actor award. She's wearing a nutty short dress. It's Robert Downey Jr.! I've always loved him. He's got a whole standup routine going. He's not going to thank anyone... but he does. "Art in the blood is liable to take the strangest forms." [ADDED: Oops. That was the comedy/musical actor. Hmm. Sherlock Holmes is comedy? Or was there music?]

15. The best drama actor is actually Jeff Bridges. The presenter was the lovely Kate Winslet, who's wearing a simple black dress with one thick vertical strap on the right side. Asymmetry. Jeff gets a standing O. Why? Because he's The Dude? "You're really screwing up my 'under appreciated' status," he says.

16. The best drama movie — presented by Julia Roberts, who thought it was cute to tell her kids to go to bed — is "Avatar." James Cameron warns us that now he has peed, so he's going to blabber. He loves his job. We have the best job. "Give it up for yourselves." He says that twice. Because "that's the most amazing thing." Jeesh. "'Avatar' asks us to see that everything is connected, all human beings to each other, and us to the earth."

17. And us to bed!

A snow Sunday.

On the cross-country ski trail...


... spiky ice dragged down the evergreens...


... afterwards: pizza!


So the President traveled to Massachusetts to deliver the news that Martha Coakley is a Democrat.

"Martha's opponent already is walking in lockstep with Washington Republicans... She's got your back, her opponent's got Wall Street's back. Bankers don't need another vote in the United States Senate. They've got plenty. Where's yours?"

The personal touch turns chillingly impersonal.

At the Blue Café...


... you can hit the wall.

We're going to have to pay to read the NYT on line.

The announcement is coming soon.

For me, reading on line is tied to blogging. I'm not going to spend my time reading sites that I can't blog, and I'm not going to blog and link to sites that you can't read without paying. Currently, I link to the NYT a lot, perhaps several times a day. I don't know how much of their traffic is sent their way from blogs, but it's one more factor that will limit their readership. You'd think what a newspaper would want most is readers, both to influence and to sell to advertisers. I know they need to make money, but I wish advertising was the way. Once they close themselves off — as they did once before with the failure known as TimesSelect — they sacrifice readers and lose appeal for advertisers.

I know there is talk of "the metered system adopted by the Financial Times, in which readers can sample a certain number of free articles before being asked to subscribe." If that means we can, without paying, see the front page and read a few articles (in their entirety) each day, then I might not object. That would allow me to read and feel free to blog.

Hanging over the deliberations is the fact that the Times’ last experience with pay walls, TimesSelect, was deeply unsatisfying and exposed a rift between Sulzberger and his roster of A-list columnists, particularly Tom Friedman and Maureen Dowd, who grew frustrated at their dramatic fall-off in online readership. Not long before the Times ultimately pulled the plug on TimesSelect, Friedman wrote Sulzberger a long memo explaining that, while he was initially supportive of TimesSelect, he’d been alarmed that he had lost most of his readers in India and China and the Middle East.

“As we got into it, it was clear to me I was getting cut off from a lot of my readers in India and China where 50 dollars per year would be equal to a quarter of college tuition,” Friedman recently told me by phone. “What was coming to me anecdotally from my travels was the five worst words that as a columnist you ever want to hear: ‘I used to read you before you went behind the wall.’”
Five words, eh?

"I've spent my whole career learning to settle down unruly college students who have not done the reading."

Said John Yoo, about why Jon Stewart couldn't get to him.

If you have a minimalist wedding...

... will you regret it later?

(An AskMetafilter question. I put an answer in there, using my Metafilter nickname.)

"[W]e Americans have been... homogenizing the way the world goes mad."

Ethan Watters informs us:
There is now a remarkable body of research that suggests that mental illnesses are not... spread evenly around the globe. They have appeared in different cultures in endlessly complex and unique forms. Indonesian men have been known to experience amok, in which a minor social insult launches an extended period of brooding punctuated by an episode of murderous rage. Southeastern Asian males sometimes suffer from koro, the debilitating certainty that their genitals are retracting into their body. Across the fertile crescent of the Middle East there is zar, a mental illness related to spirit possession that brings forth dissociative episodes of crying, laughing, shouting, and singing....

The remarkable diversity... is rapidly disappearing. A few mental illnesses identified and popularized in the United States — depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and anorexia among them — now appear to be spreading across cultural boundaries and around the world with the speed of contagious diseases. Indigenous forms of mental illness and healing are being bulldozed by disease categories and treatments made in the USA.
If only there were a systematic way of studying and analyzing how the human mind works, something... oh, we could call it "science" for lack of a better word. Ah, but, no, no, what's the use? We can only cry, laugh, shout, and sing a song to diversity.

"The very first word on my very first record is 'Jesus.'"

"I still invoke him as an entity to reckon with."

The heteronormative cell phone.

"[I]t is expected that a child will have a mother and a father involved in their life. That this is 'normal' will be reflected back at that child again and again, whether or not it reflects their reality."

The U.N.'s "inherently ludicrous" prediction that the Himalayan glaciers will disappear by 2035.

"Even a small glacier such as the Dokriani glacier is up to 120 metres [394ft] thick. A big one would be several hundred metres thick and tens of kilometres long. The average is 300 metres thick so to melt one even at 5 metres a year would take 60 years. That is a lot faster than anything we are seeing now so the idea of losing it all by 2035 is unrealistically high."

Oh, no! It's men in trucks! Plowing in from Texas! Running down all the women! Rape!

"They’re sending people from Texas."

An attempt to scare some enthusiasm into Massachusetts voters.

And it's not just the fear of Texan outside agitators, there's a gender war a-comin':
At a Friday rally with former President Bill Clinton and again Saturday, Coakley ... raised the 4-wheel-drive factor, quipping that just because somebody drives a truck doesn’t meant they’re headed in the right direction.
That's a quip because Scott Brown drives a truck.
But Coakley, who despite a modest background carries herself with a patrician bearing...
Does she also bear herself with patrician carriage?
... has compounded the problem voters with a series of gaffes that suggest she’s out of touch, most recently on Friday when she appeared on a Boston talk radio show and seemed not to have heard of former star Red Sox star pitcher Curt Schilling.

Some Democrats worry that there is something deeper at work.

“I think it’s a man-woman thing,” said Robert Cullinane, a Teamsters local leader in the Boston area.
Cullinane, speaking following the Clinton rally Friday, said some of his own members know that Brown opposes their agenda but are telling him, “'I’m not voting for that broad.’”
Those louts! Those unnamed louts that Cullinane — does he have patrician bearing? — must stoop to represent. Those brutes say "broad"... at least as paraphrased by the union leader who surely has their interests at heart.
“Unbelievable,” he said. “Here is someone who has voted against them on state issues yet they’re going to vote against ‘that broad.’”
"Here"? Where? Are you pointing at someone? Who is that horrible trucker?! Unbelievable!
Despite its liberal tradition, Massachusetts has never elected a female senator or governor.
OMG! Liberals might be sexists! Sound the liberal alarm! Liberals, prove you are liberal by voting for a woman!

See how that article — by Jonathan Martin in Politico — tried to flip you? First, nonentities were presented as prejudiced against a woman, ready to vote against Coakley because she's a woman, and then, suddenly, liberals are supposed pushed to feel that they ought to vote for her because she's a woman.

Oh, no! It's men in trucks! Plowing in from Texas! Running down all the women! Rape!

At the Too-Early Breakfast Café...


... maybe it's getting light earlier. Spring is coming, perhaps. Or at least Spring Semester. It arrives on Tuesday. I'm caught up in syllabi. Syllabi in lieu of lullabies. I make coffee with the Meadhouse Aeropress and heat the milk in the microwave instead of using that machine that makes cappuccino/latte at the push of a button.


It's still winter here but "Summer Samba" plays in my head. It was one of the songs that played softly in the common room at our hotel in Austin, Texas, where we ate breakfast every morning from January 4th to January 13th. But we're not in Austin anymore, and it's not summer or even spring. It's the middle of winter in Madison, Wisconsin, and there's no morning light that has me up at this hour. I'm nearly through my first glass of coffee, and there's no reason to be up now except that I've slept enough.



The name of our Austin hotel? The Kimber Modern. Here's a NYT article about it. And here's one of those "36 Hours In" articles about Austin.