April 10, 2010

In the grass today...

The Persian Pearl ground tulip:


The grape hyacinth:


The blogger...


The red-winged blackbird's point of view.

"The art with which 'Dreams From My Father' is constructed to serve his deepest personal needs shows how ludicrous is the charge of Rush Limbaugh and others that he did not write it."

That laughably incomprehensible sentence is written by Garry Wills in his NYT book review of David Remnick's new book about Barack Obama (inanely titled "The Bridge").

I mean, really,the book serves Obama's interests — excuse me: deepest personal needs — so therefore he must have written it himself. Absurd!
Remnick rightly sees that memoir as a bildungsroman in the specifically black form of a “slave narrative,” a story of the rise from dependency to mature self-possession. 
Oh, for the love of God. How does a privileged modern American get to style himself as a slave?
In order to place himself in that tradition, Obama darkens the early part of the story and lightens the concluding sections. He trims the facts to fit the genre, just as he trimmed the events in his Selma speech to fit the black sermon format. 
Trims the facts, eh? Some would call that lying. Or just bullshit.
Obama was not literally a slave in his youth...
Now there's a concession!
... but he was in thrall to false images of his father, fostered by his mother’s protective loyalty to her husband. 
You see the similarity? He was "in thrall" — etymologically, enslaved — to... to what? To nothing. That sentence just says that Obama's mother presented him with a positive image of his absent father. That's nothing like slavery. It's insensitive to slaves to make that analogy. Hell, it's insensitive to common sense!
Since Obama comes to a later recognition of his father’s flaws, the story is crafted to show him shedding false idealism to become a pragmatic realist. 
Which has nothing to do with slave narratives.
The narrative protects him from claims that he is an ideologue or peddler of false hopes.
Yeah? How?

Things said over an alpina pizza.

The blog comment M reads out loud is here.

At the Green Bark Café...


... howl.

"Without explanation, sometime during the last 24 hours, The Cap Times changed the term tea 'baggers' to tea 'partiers' in the third paragraph of Bill Novak's article."

"Why was this done and does The Cap Times consider this practice to be an example of good journalism?"

So wrote Meade in the comments over here, at a Bill Novak blog post, and his comment is now being addressed at a Cap Times blog post, written by  Chris Murphy. Murphy's headline is "What do you think, is writing 'tea baggers' off-limits?"
It's not clear to me if Mr. Meade was taking issue with the lack of explanation, using the word in the first place or changing it. I've e-mailed him to ask (and also to find out if he's the same Laurence Meade who won Ann Althouse's heart through his comments on her blog), but no response yet.
The objection is — I think it's obvious — to using it in the first place and then to changing it without owning up to the fact that you'd done it and that a correction was required.
If it's the lack of explanation that was the issue, well, now you have it...
Put the correction at the site of the original article, not in some other blog post somewhere. You had one thing, and then you replaced it with something else when there was criticism. It's not the explanation that's wanted. It's the transparency. We know the explanation. You got criticized.
... but what if he objected to changing it? Are there a lot of you out there who think we, especially at the liberal-from-the-day-we-were-born Capital Times shouldn't think twice about using a word that raises conservative hackles? I certainly do see it regularly in the comments from tea party opponents.
Yes, we live in Madison, Wisconsin, where cluelessness skews left.
... I don't think it's that bad, but I can't say I'm comfortable seeing it in a news story, either. The Associated Press, whose stylebook is the arbiter on many such questions, has not yet weighed in, though its most recent edition does say that "tea party" should be lowercase. Lots of help there. So I'll ask you, gentle readers, what do you think our policy should be?
Oh, good lord.

ADDED: Meade writes:
"So I'll ask you, gentle readers, what do you think our policy should be?"

Dear Mr. Murphy,

I think your policy should be based on sound journalistic principles - not what your readers think.

A Gentle Reader

The bump is back.

Get out your rattail combs.

IN THE COMMENTS: Jason notes the real source of this new trend, whom the above-linked NYT piece eclipses. It's:

"Growing up, he later said, he assumed there was no one else in the world like him."

Meinhardt Raabe, born in 1915 in Watertown, Wisconsin, played the Munchkin coroner and is now, 94 years later, not only merely dead, but really most sincerely dead.

"I know what you're doing! You want to buy right-wing lettuce seed!"

Just something I said, seconds ago.

"The White House is now faced with a heady political calculation."

"It could invest its efforts, energy and capital in a potentially draining fight this summer over a Supreme Court nominee like Wood, who has made controversial rulings on abortion and would almost certainly face a raging firefight over her confirmation. Or it could move toward a less-controversial selection, such as Garland, in a bid to bolster its domestic agenda before this year's congressional elections. Garland has been spoken of favorably by some conservatives, and Kagan is also seen as less combustible than Wood."

Within this small pool of extremely well-qualified candidates, Obama should pick the person he thinks will do the best work for us on the Court. There will be a big fight no matter what, because there is too much to be gained from using the confirmation as a political battlefield. It's a shameful business to exclude candidates because they have had to decide abortion cases. We are impoverished if the more experienced jurists are passed over precisely because of their experience, because they have written opinions that we can read and argue about. Obama and the Democrats should have the nerve to defend the judicial decisions we call liberal.
"When President Ford was faced with a Supreme Court vacancy shortly after the nation was still recovering from the Watergate scandal, he wanted a nominee who was brilliant" and committed to the law, Obama said, hailing Stevens as a justice who "has stood as an impartial guardian of the law . . . with fidelity and restraint. . . . He will turn 90 this month, but he leaves this position at the top of his game."

On paper, it would seem that this would be Obama's last chance to appoint an assertively liberal choice to replace Stevens, who emerged as the loudest voice of the court's left wing. Democrats hold a large majority in the Senate. Next year, their grip on the chamber could be much more tenuous.
I find those 2 paragraphs, taken together, pretty amusing. Was Justice Stevens a brilliant, impartial, restrained, faithful guardian of the rule of law or the loudest voice of the left wing?

ADDED: Tobin Harshaw does a great job of collecting a lot of opinion about the various frontrunners. Excerpt:
Judicial experience may not be the only intangible working against Kagan. Another may be that she’s Jewish. “Almost nobody has noticed that when Justice Stevens retires, it is entirely possible that there will be no Protestant justices on the court for the first time ever,” writes NPR’s Nina Totenberg. “Let’s face it: This is a radioactive subject. As Jeff Shesol, author of the critically acclaimed new book Supreme Power, puts it, ‘religion is the third rail of Supreme Court politics. It’s not something that’s talked about in polite company.’ And although Shesol notes that privately a lot of people remark about the surprising fact that there are so many Catholics on the Supreme Court, this is not a subject that people openly discuss. … Only seven Jews have ever served, and two of them are there now. Depending on the Stevens replacement, there may be no Protestants left on the court at all in a majority Protestant nation where, for decades and generations, all of the justices were Protestant.”
This is why my money is on Wood.

"Stevens spoke little about his family's ordeal, but it surely helped inspire a lifelong faith in the fairness of judges and the courts."

David Savage tells the fascinating story of Justice Stevens' boyhood:
He was born in 1920, the youngest of four boys in a wealthy family. When he was 7, his father opened the 28-story Stevens Hotel on Michigan Avenue (now the Hilton Chicago), overlooking the lake.

It was said to be the largest hotel in the world, and the young boy met the traveling celebrities of the era, including aviators Charles Lindbergh, who gave young John a dove, and Amelia Earhart, who advised him he should be in bed because it was a school night. A fan of the hometown Cubs, he watched at Wrigley Field as Babe Ruth pointed his bat at the outfield bleachers and hit the next pitch there during the 1932 World Series.

But by then, his family's prospects had darkened with the Great Depression. The stock market had crashed two years after the Stevens Hotel had opened, and the ensuing business collapse emptied most of its rooms. After the hotel was driven into bankruptcy, Stevens' father, uncle and grandfather were accused of having embezzled more than $1 million from the family-run life insurance company to prop up the failing hotel.

His grandfather suffered a stroke, and his uncle committed suicide. Left to stand trial alone, Stevens' father was convicted and faced a long prison term. A year later, however, the Illinois Supreme Court unanimously overturned the conviction and said that transferring money from one family business to another did not amount to embezzlement.

Justice Stevens was not inconsistent in his interpretation of the Constitution's religion clauses.

J. Brent Walker writes (in WaPo):
Justice Stevens has been a friend of church-state separation. His Establishment Clause jurisprudence has always been strong. He has uniformly stood against government-sponsored religious speech and endorsement of religion. He has been just as critical of attempts on the part of government to fund religious organizations and activities.

However, his willingness to require (or sometimes even to permit) the accommodation of religion under the First Amendment's Free Exercise Clause has been lacking. He joined the Court's conservatives in Employment Division v. Smith, the Native American peyote case, which gutted the Free Exercise Clause of its robust religious liberty protection for all Americans, not just Native Americans. 
"However" is the wrong transition. "Accordingly" or "by the same token" would be appropriate. A strong position on the separation of church and state, at its most consistent, leads to the idea that neutral, generally applicable laws do not violate the the Free Exercise Clause. Smith validated uniform laws as they are applied to everyone, with no exceptions required.

Here's Justice Stevens, in a concurring opinion, in Boerne v. Flores, in a case in which a church in an historic district wanted to enlarge its building:
If the historic landmark on the hill in Boerne happened to be a museum or an art gallery owned by an atheist, it would not be eligible for an exemption from the city ordinances that forbid an enlargement of the structure. Because the landmark is owned by the Catholic Church, it is claimed that [the Religious Freedom Restoration Act] gives its owner a federal statutory entitlement to an exemption from a generally applicable, neutral civil law. Whether the Church would actually prevail under the statute or not, the statute has provided the Church with a legal weapon that no atheist or agnostic can obtain. This governmental preference for religion, as opposed to irreligion, is forbidden by the First Amendment.
The Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Congress's response to Smith, was an attempt to create by statute what the Court had rejected as a constitutional requirement: exemptions from neutral, generally applicable laws that burden religion. Stevens, alone of all the Justices, thought that RFRA violated the Establishment Clause.

Do you think government should be able to give religious persons and groups "a legal weapon that no atheist or agnostic can obtain"? Do you think it's conservative or liberal to say no, as Justice Stevens did?

Walker dings Stevens for "join[ing]  the Court's conservatives" in Smith, but Justice White was also on that side, and Justice O'Connor was on the other side.  Walker seems to think that he's bolstering his position on the Free Exercise Clause by associating it with conservatives, and it probably is safe to assume most Washington Post readers think like that. But with the religion clauses, it's not so easy. If you're a liberal who cares deeply about the separation of church and state, why would you favor religion-based exceptions to laws that otherwise apply uniformly?

April 9, 2010

At the Scilla Café...


... you can be as scilly as you want.

Karl Lagerfeld is against gay marriage "for a very simple reason."

See if it's simple enough for you to understand...
In the 60's, they all said we had the right to the difference. And now, suddenly, they want a bourgeois life. For me it’s difficult to imagine — one of the papas at work and the other at home with the baby. How would that be for the baby? I don’t know. I see more lesbians married with babies than I see boys married with babies. And I also believe more in the relationship between mother and child than in that between father and child.
... because I can't understand it.

Teed up for teasing. It's Tiger Woods.

In the new Nike promo:

Ha! Absurd. I know there are all sorts of instant parodies out there, and I haven't clicked on any yet. The original is already ridiculous. Shameless.

On the other hand: the leaderboard.

OR: You could say:
Without speaking a word, he humanizes himself. Tiger's close bond with his demanding father always felt like the one warm, relatable dimension of an otherwise cold and remote personality....  (By the way, is it me or is there something very Hamlet about the way a haggard Tiger gets interrogated by the ghost of his father on the misty ramparts of a golf course?)
Oh, please.

Justice Stevens will retire.

Let the games begin.

How did Wisconsin do in the "Race to the Top" (Race for the Money) competition?

We were 26th out of 41. Why did we score so low?
... [T]he criticisms portray Wisconsin as a state fragmented in disagreements about how to improve education and lacking a sense of urgency — urgency that should have been highlighted by the state's recent dead-last ranking in reading among black fourth graders....
The state was downgraded in its first application because only about 10 percent of district-level union leaders signed on. The winning states both had more than 90 percent of union leaders on board. 
Is the Obama administration out to crush unions? Mickey Kaus doesn't think so.

Sarah Palin makes an analogy.

"That's kind of like getting out there on the playground with a bunch of kids ready to fight, and one of the kids saying, 'Go ahead and punch me in the face, and I'm not going to retaliate. Go ahead and do what you want to me.'"

More grist for John McWhorter's theory that Sarah Palin is childish.

Stupak declines to defend himself to his constituents.

Taking the easy way out.

When you play a pivotal role in monumentally important legislation, you'd better face the public and justify what you did with the power they trusted you with. If you're not up for that, we should read it as an admission that you did the wrong thing — without even the nerve to come out and say I'm sorry, I was wrong.

"The Villains do not have a leader. Russell is not a leader..."

"Boston Rob was a leader. He led his tribe. But Boston Rob is gone.... Sandra... Russell’s Achilles heel. It’s not that he’s 'stupid'... It’s his ego. Pure ego. In this case, it’s that he can’t stand thinking Coach is having second thoughts about him. Nobody has second thoughts about Russell Hantz. 'I’m Russell Hantz!' With Parvati, it’s his ego that is leading him to believe she really likes him. She doesn’t. Parvati doesn’t like anybody. We all know that. We’ve watched her play this game three times now. She’s a flirt. A very good flirt. A million-dollar flirt. But she doesn’t like you, Russell."

Probst opines.

April 8, 2010

At the Magnolia Café...


... don't leave me alone out here.

It's Little Fatty.

Lin Yu-chun, a contestant on the Taiwan TV show "One Million Star," channeling Whitney Houston:

It's not exactly the polar opposite of The Sex Pistols.

"It was wonderful to be able to sell something that was horrible... We made ugliness beautiful."

Malcolm McLaren on punk rock, etc.:

The man who sold The Sex Pistols is dead, now, at 64.

Naked man.

Not guilty.

"It is really good to be here in the land of 10,000 lakes with patriots who love their county... some of you are proudly clinging to your guns and religion."

Sarah Palin pumps up Minnesota: "Minnesota, you are awesome. You just rock."

"The proclamation issued by this Office designating April as Confederate History Month contained a major omission"

"The failure to include any reference to slavery was a mistake, and for that I apologize to any fellow Virginian who has been offended or disappointed."

Governor Robert F. McDonnell reacts to criticism with a nonapology: Sorry if you were offended — if you didn't get it.

"Together, we have stopped the drift..."

Obama & Medvedev, ending "the drift."

"If You Voted For Obama..."

"... This Man Will Not Touch Your Penis."

(Hmmm. I voted for Obama. In the heyday of feminism, Jon Stewart would have been dinged for sexism.)

When you're caught smoking in the airplane lavatory...

... don't wisecrack "I was trying to light my shoes on fire."

April 7, 2010

"American Idol."

Discuss the results in the comments. Did they do the right thing?

On a side issue, let me just say: Rhianna was atrocious. That just made me feel really sad. What she did has nothing to do with with rock, though she may be a big star. And that lyric "I never play the victim/I'd rather be a stalker." Utter bullshit. The lesson of abuse is to rise above being either a victim or a stalker, and the fact that you let your people use you with lyrics like that? That makes you still the victim, and that is really, really sad. I don't know why destructive material like that is on the quintessential family show of our era, but I hope you find your way.

Why I love going to a Tea Party.

I'm not the political type. I write about politics, but in an idiosyncratic way. I wouldn't go to a political rally to personally rally, but to see what it looks and feels like. And to take some photographs.


And what I learned...


... is that the social convention at a thing like this....


... is that people are there to be seen....


... so you can go right up to them, point a camera, and shoot.

As a photographer, I love that.

If you wonder why I take so many pictures of buildings and flowers and trees, it's because in normal life, you can't just point a camera at somebody. It's not the norm.

At the rally, I was — finally — free.

"Thanks Fox News."


From yesterday's Tea Party in Madison... I really don't know whether that sign is intended with sincerity or sarcasm.

If the last Protestant — Justice Stevens — leaves the Supreme Court, won't President Obama have to appoint a Protestant?

Nina Totenberg examines a topic people think they aren't supposed to talk about.
Let's face it: This is a radioactive subject. As Jeff Shesol, author of the critically acclaimed new book Supreme Power, puts it, "religion is the third rail of Supreme Court politics. It's not something that's talked about in polite company." And although Shesol notes that privately a lot of people remark about the surprising fact that there are so many Catholics on the Supreme Court, this is not a subject that people openly discuss.
I've written about it — on this blog and in the NYT.

Professor Mark Scarberry at Pepperdine law school, a self-described evangelical Protestant, says there should be no religious test for appointment.

"But I don't think that that means that a president shouldn't pay at least some attention to religious diversity on the court," he said. "It does seem to me that when you have such a large part of the country that has a particular sort of religious worldview, if there is no one on the court who is able to understand that worldview in a sympathetic way, then that creates difficulties."
I think that since we talk about the race/ethnicity and sex of the Supreme Court nominees, we should talk about religious affiliation. Religion is an even more important aspect of diversity, since it resides in the human mind, and it is the mind that will be making the decisions that bind us. (Is it Protestant of me to think that religion resides in the human mind?)

It's odd how the problem has gone without notice until we are at the point where the Supreme Court will be composed entirely of Catholic and Jewish Justices. It does seem quite wrong to look at the short list of potential nominees and disqualify the very impressive candidates who are not Protestant. That seems like outright discrimination. But why is giving preference to a Protestant any different from going after  a female/Hispanic candidate, as President Obama did with the last appointment?

John McWhorter found Sarah Palin childish for using the "distancing" word "that," so what would he have to say about Abraham Lincoln?

Yesterday, we were talking about the way the linguist John McWhorter analyzed Sarah Palin's speech. He found her childish for using the word "that" in phrases like "forge that peace," because it was a "distancing gesture," as if the peace were "way over there" and not something she's genuinely involved with. He wrote:
That peace? You mean that peace way over there — as opposed to the peace that you as Vice-President would have been responsible for forging? She’s far, far away from that peace.
Now, check out the Gettyburg Address, with added boldface:
... Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. 
You mean that nation way over there — as opposed to the nation you're supposed to be President of.
We are met on a great battle-field of that war.
That war?!!! It's your war, Mr. President. Come down out of the clouds you fluffy-headed fool and join the reality that you have a helluva lot to do with... or perhaps you haven't noticed!
We have come to dedicate a portion of that field....
That field! You are here on this field, where so many have died. Wake up from your crazy dream world, man!
... as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. 
That nation?!!! It's our nation, Mr. President. Not some nation way over there! How did this dangerous child of a man become President?!

Conserve printer toner: Make Century Gothic your font.

On line, it doesn't matter. No one cares if your electrons are black or white.

In the office, how about just not printing stuff out at all? I've been using my iPad in class instead of printing out my class notes. In dollars, how many toner cartridges equals one iPad, hmmm?

Maybe companies/universities should be providing us printer-users with iPads. More likely they'll start dictating what font we should use. It will be like forcing compact fluorescent light bulbs on us. You might say: I'll turn off the lights whenever I leave a room, and I'll use a dimmer and keep my lights low. But the answer is: No, we don't care about other things you do to save electricity; we want you saving electricity the official way, the way that makes you feel bad, fluorescent bulbs.

The same with fonts. Maybe the university will dictate the use of Century Gothic on any document that is to be printed. I might say: But I will take the time to eliminate all verbosity in my documents, making them as short as possible, and I will print out only a small fraction of the things I write and read. But the answer will be: No, we don't care about the other things you do to save toner; we want you saving toner the official way, the way that makes you feel bad, Century Gothic font.

It's Julien Duret, the Frenchman, previously eclipsed by the "heroic father."

He was in fact, first to reach the drowning toddler who fell into the East River.

Here's our earlier (contentious) discussion. We argued about whether the father who instinctively jumped in to save the child ought to be called a hero. In that light, consider Duret's remark:
"I don't really think I'm a hero. Anyone would do the same thing.... I was just happy that I was able to help her, and I am just happy that the family has been reunited."

April 6, 2010

Tea Party videos.

Here's some video from the Tea Party Express event in Madison, Wisconsin today:

1. The buses arrive.

2. The National Anthem.

3. Lloyd Marcus sings about Tea Party values.

4. Another song.

Pictures from the Tea Party Express in Madison, Wisconsin.

Meade and I stopped by the Tea Party Express event over on the far east side of Madison. There were about 300 people there, with various flags and signs. No violence. No epithets. Just a lot of people opposed to socialism.

I took a lot of photographs and video, which I'll put up here as soon as I can.











"[Sarah Palin] speaks very much from the inside of her head, as someone watching the issues from a considerable distance."

John McWhorter analyzes Sarah Palin's speech from a position of remarkable superiority:
The there fetish, for instance — Palin frequently displaces statements with an appended “there,” as in “We realize that more and more Americans are starting to see the light there...” But where? Why the distancing gesture? At another time, she referred to Condoleezza Rice trying to “forge that peace.” That peace? You mean that peace way over there — as opposed to the peace that you as Vice-President would have been responsible for forging? She’s far, far away from that peace.

... The issues, American people, you name it, are “there” — in other words, not in her head 24/7. She hasn’t given them much thought before; they are not her. They’re that, over there....
What does it mean to use words that suggest that you see abstractions in your mind in a spatial way? If McWhorter were writing about someone he liked, I'll bet he would posit intelligence. But he concludes that it means that Palin has the mentality of a child:
This reminds me of toddlers who speak from inside their own experience in a related way: they will come up to you and comment about something said by a neighbor you’ve never met, or recount to you the plot of an episode of a TV show they have no way of knowing you’ve ever heard of....
It reminds you of that, eh? Exactly why does it remind you of that? A child talking about something he doesn't realize you don't know and Palin talking about ideas as if she visualizes them in an abstract place — those 2 things pop up together in your head. Do you see how easy it would be for me to portray you as childish for jumping from something about Palin to something about toddlers that it reminds you of?

ADDED: I apply McWhorter's theory of childish distancing to the Gettysburg Address.

The federal health care program is too big to fail.

Is that legal analysis?

At the Early Spring Café...


... I'm enjoying this transitional phase. After a week in glaring sunlight and dry, thin air, I love the filtered light and moisture of Wisconsin. It's very mellow here. Hang out and talk to me.

Obama's announcement about nuclear weapons.

Did he really change anything here?

A "slightly gender-ambiguous athlete who reads either as a pretty hot boy or a trans-girl, and not particularly a person who falls into the realm of how people see beautiful."

There's a 6'8" female basketball player — Brittney Griner — and the NYT article about her is on the subject of how she "redefine[s] feminine beauty ideals."

The quote in my title is from a model casting agent. I guess women, more than men, if they happen to grow really tall, think of becoming models, rather than basketball players. But Griner is a basketball player. Why discuss her as if she is a model? We don't much care what the male basketball players look like or think about stretching our concepts of male beauty when they don't conform to conventional standards.

April 5, 2010

At the Forsythia Nightclub...


... don't let this end too early.

Bulldogs vs. Blue Devils.

I'm watching — out of the corner of my eye — because I'm married... to a Hoosier.

At the Magnolia Café...


... bloom!

Arlen Specter wants Justice Stevens not to retire this year.

"I think the gridlock in the Senate might well produce a filibuster which would tie up the Senate about a Supreme Court nominee. I think if a year passes, there's a much better chance we could come to a consensus."

Obama should just pick a relatively moderate liberal judge. That would avoid the filibuster this year, and it's what he'll have to do next year. So what is Specter talking about?

Specter is bouncing off what Senator Kyl said:
"I think the president will nominate a qualified person. I hope, however, he does not nominate an overly ideological person. That will be the test," Kyl said. "And if he doesn't nominate someone who is overly ideological, I don't think -- you may see Republicans voting against the nominee, but I don't think you'll see them engage in a filibuster."
So, you see my point. Maybe what Specter is really thinking is that it will hurt the Democrats in the fall to spend the summer paying attention to the subject of liberal ideology on the Supreme Court. Specter has been on the Senate Judiciary for a long time, both as a Democrat and a Republican, so he knows all about the way the 2 parties manipulate the occasion of Supreme Court nominee hearings.

First pitch.

"A little high and outside."

Michael Steele says that he, like Barack Obama, has a "slimmer margin" of error.

Because he, like the President, is black. Now, he didn't bring up the subject. He was answering a question from George Stephanopoulous. And he weaseled away from his own answer pretty much:
I mean it’s a different role for you know, for me to play and others to play. And that’s just the reality of it. But you take that as part of the nature of it. It’s more because you’re not someone they know. I’m not a Washington insider. ... My view on politics is much more grass-roots-oriented. It’s not old boy network oriented and so I tend to come at it a little bit stronger, a little more streetwise if you will. That rubs some feathers the wrong way. At the end of the day I’m judged by whether I win elections and I raise the money.
Can I judge you by whether you're straightforward, clear, and persuasive?

51% of Tea Partiers are either Independent or Democrat — according to Gallup.

49% are Republican. Unlike an earlier Quinnipiac poll, which we discussed here, men outnumber women. (Both polls show a 45/55% split, but Quinnipiac has the 55% female, and Gallup has the 55% male.)

And Rasmussen has a new poll:
On major issues, 48% of voters say that the average Tea Party member is closer to their views than President Barack Obama. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 44% hold the opposite view and believe the president’s views are closer to their own....
Eighty-seven percent (87%) of those in the Political Class say their views are closer to the president. The Obama Administration has created a significantly larger government and political role in the economy.
Sixty-three percent (63%) of Mainstream Americans say their views are closer to the Tea Party.
By the way, the Tea Party Express is in Madison tomorrow.

"Parents don’t send their kids to Yale to sleep with their professors. Why don’t we say that?"

An actual rule saying faculty can't have sex with students. (Via Instapundit.) Didn't you think that already was the rule?

I remember years ago, here at Wisconsin, they put us faculty through an elaborate training session about how to follow the new rule about faculty-student sexual relations. It was elaborate because it was not simply a rule against it. (Click "read more," below, to see the text of the rule.) It was a reporting requirement. When, exactly, did you need to file a report about the relative location of your genitalia and how?

I remember asking a 2-part question: Doesn't this really function as a rule against student-teacher sexual relations and why don't we just have a straightforward rule against student-teacher sexual relations? I can't remember the answer, other than that it was roundabout and evasive. I had 2 ideas about what the answer really was:

1. Perhaps they thought that there is an important individual freedom — even a constitutional right — to choose your intimate associates. You know: At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.... And maybe that includes defining for yourself what is right and wrong in the complexities of power between 2 (adult) partners.

2.  A good number of current faculty members have marriages that began as student-teacher coupling, and it wouldn't be very nice to impugn these relationships retrospectively. If it's a reporting requirement, we can indulge in the fantasy that these people would have reported if there had been a reporting requirement, so they are just fine, even as any new couples will be either: a. deterred or b. in violation of the rule.

"Obviously, right now she is probably not that into me..."

"... since she filed these stalking charges and I'm in the doghouse with her, but later on I'm going to try to recover and then actually win her over."


What's the difference between a suitor and a stalker? Where exactly do you cross the line? And how far over the line can you go and still not realize that you've crossed it?

I have a laptop (MacBook Pro) and an iPhone, so what am I doing with an iPad?

Though I bought an iPad as soon as I could, 2 days ago, I'm not going to mindlessly boost the thing, and I'm not going to fool myself about whether it's useful to me. It needs to earn its place in between the fabulously useful laptop and iPhone. Obviously, it's medium size and medium weight. I'm more likely to carry it with me than the laptop, but unlike the iPhone, it's not always going to come along. I can't put it in a pocket or my smallest handbag. And I'm not going to pick it up from my bedside to check the time and a couple websites when I wake up. I'm not going to read it from a completely supine position, as I often do with the iPhone, when I'm in bed and not ready to sit up.

April 4, 2010

At the Pulsatilla Nightclub...


... that's a pasque flower, representing Easter. What do you make of that?


Talk about Easter... or anything.

Obama's "Race to the Top" competition over money for schools hasn't worked out so well.

Why are only Delaware and Tennessee getting the money?
Officials from several states criticized the scoring of the contest, which favored states able to gain support from 100 percent of school districts and local teachers’ unions for Obama administration objectives like expanding charter schools, reworking teacher evaluation systems and turning around low-performing schools.

Marshalling such support is one thing for a tiny state like Delaware, with 38 districts, they said, and quite another for, say, California, with some 1,500.
Oh, how I loathe these federal intrusions into state and local decision-making about public schooling. Money is raked out of the states and then dangled in front of them to entice them to do things they don't want to do and couldn't be forced to do by direct regulation. And the ultimate, ironic slap in the face is they don't even get the money. Let that be a lesson!

"On the eve of the health care vote, a group of black Democrat Congressmen (eschewing the private tunnels they usually use to cross from their offices to the Capitol) chose to walk en masse through a crowd of protesters..."

"... confident that the knuckledragging Tea Party goons they and their media pals have reviled for a year now would respond with racial epithets. And then, when the crowd didn't, the black Congressmen made it up anyway."

That's Mark Steyn, who notes that mainstream media, which spread the phony story (when it was most useful to spread), are showing no interest in correcting it.

By the way, I called bullshit on the story as soon as it was reported, in this blog post and here on Bloggingheads:

"'Look at the steam in the man’s stride!' exclaimed Chris Matthews."

Frank Rich gushes by quoting Chris Matthews gushing about what amazing man Barack Obama is.

But "Look at the steam in the man’s stride!"? Now, we know all about Matthews and the "thrill going up my leg." And now here he is getting all excited about Obama's striding legs. But what's with "the steam." Do you really want people to perceive gusts blowing out as you walk? It's a rather... farty image, isn't it?

But the idea is how powerful and confident Obama seems these days. That's what Rich is talking about. And I'm thinking, is that the origin of the phrase "full of beans"?


This post would be so much better  if I could find a video clip of the great George Carlin demonstrating walking and farting.

"I am the troublesome, vitriolic Rush Limbaugh, archenemy of the regime."

Rush Limbaugh responds to Barack Obama, who called him vitriolic and "troublesome."

Read the whole thing. It's a particularly good monologue. I especially liked digging up the old quotes from Obama: "I don't want to quell anger.  I think people are right to be angry.  I'm angry." And: "I need you to go out and talk to your friends and talk to your neighbors, I want you to talk to them whether they're independent or whether they are Republican, I want you to argue with them and get in their face."

"We call on the local radio stations to stop broadcasting the songs and all music as well."

"We give them a 10-day deadline and any radio station found not complying with the orders... will face sharia action.... We also issue orders banning the local media from using the word 'foreigners' to refer to our Muslim brothers coming from outside the country to help us fight against the enemy of Allah.... Every Muslim fighter can come to Somalia to fight the enemy of Allah and we would also invite Osama bin Laden to the country if the we get the opportunity."

It's springtime in Mogadishu.

"A man from France jumped into the water..."

I'm sorry, but the man from France is not getting enough attention in this story about the "heroic father" who jumped in the cold East River to save his own daughter.

At the Masters, Tiger Woods will have 90 bodyguards to protect him from the women he screwed.

"None of these girls are allowed anywhere near him... If one photo comes out of a beautiful lady touching him, it would be a disaster."

So not just "these girls" — the ones he fucked — but any "beautiful lady"? Doesn't that make you — female readers only — want to doll yourself up and head down to Augusta, Georgia to see if you can sidle into a photo frame with Tiger?

Ordinary spectators are not allowed to have cameras at a golf tournament. They even search your bag. You'll be at the mercy of the authorized photographers inside the event. But won't they try to frame Tiger with pretty ladies in the background? (Don't they do that anyway, without even any sex scandal to for resonance.) What if a beautiful woman stands stands on the other side of the hole when Tiger is putting? She'd be framed in professional photographs. And she'd distract him with her feminine radiations. She'd be kicked out of the golf course, I bet.

Is it a "hit piece" if the NYT parallels Tea Partiers and 60s radicals?

Gateway Pundit thinks it is and so does American Power, but they are righties. You have to look at this from a lefty perspective, and that's something that I — with a long life experience among the lefties — can do. (I went to the University of Michigan as an undergrad in 1969 and had SDS people arguing on the other side of my dorm room wall, I lived in the West Village in the 1970s, I went to NYU School of Law circa 1980, and I have been with the law professors at the University of Wisconsin — in what is affectionately known as the People's Republic of Madison — since 1984. I have had lovers quarrels with Communists.)

Here's the photographic juxtaposition that American Power calls "a genuinely sick comparison":

It was the front-page teaser for this "Week in Review" piece by Benedict Carey. Carey is a medicine and science writer for the newspaper, and his topic is the public display of anger in American politics. He's looking at the long history of demonstrations, and it's a great concept to put up a 60s "Days of Rage" photograph with a man yelling and gesturing along with a present-day Tea Party photograph with a man yelling and gesturing in just about the same way. That the man in the 60s photo is Bill Ayers is a fabulous bit of irony. It's a perfect illustration for Carey's topic, Carey's topic is a good one, and the newspaper succeeds in attracting readers.

Now, I understand the right-wing anger — hmmm — at the juxtaposition. The 60s protesters are Weathermen, and the Weathermen advocated and practiced violence. They murdered people. The Tea Partiers, by contrast, are engaging in the highest form of freedom of expression: assembling in groups and criticizing the government.

But people on the left admire and respect the 1960s protests. They wish there was more expressive fervor on their side today. To have the passion and vitality of the 60s is a good thing. And the air of potential violence, especially in the absence of any actual violence? I think lefties love that. They may not admit they do. But there's a frisson. Remember, the NYT readers are aging liberals. They — we — remember the 60s as glory days. Yes, there was anger, and yes, it spilled over into violence sometimes, but the government deserved it, and these young people were idealistic and ready to give all for their ideals. They are remembered — even as (if?) their excesses are regretted — in a golden light.


Now, let's look at what Carey says:
Each party charged the other with fanning the flames of public outrage for political gain. 
Sounds pretty balanced!
But ... [w]hat is the nature of public anger anyway, and can it be manipulated as easily as that?...

At a basic level, people subconsciously mimic the expressions of a conversation partner and in the process “feel” a trace of the other’s emotion, recent studies suggest....

And in groups organized around a cause, it’s the most extreme members who rise quickest, researchers have found....
See? He's a science writer. He's mining the sociology of anger. Carey first notes that "lone-wolf" actions are more likely to occur. But what of the notably non-loner types who go to demonstrations?
Protest groups that turn from loud to aggressive tend to draw on at least two other elements, researchers say. The first is what sociologists call a “moral shock” — a specific, blatant moral betrayal that, when most potent, evokes personal insults suffered by individual members...

The second element is a specific target clearly associated with the outrage. A law to change. A politician to remove. A company to shut down....

Given the shifting political terrain, the diversity of views in the antigovernment groups, and their potential political impact, experts say they expect that very few are ready to take the more radical step.

“Once you take that step to act violently, it’s very difficult to turn back,” [Kathleen Blee, a sociologist at the University of Pittsburgh] said. “It puts the group, and the person, on a very different path.”
So there. Carey concludes with a calming message about the link between vocal protest and real violence. Now, there is a bit of a warning:
If a group with enduring gripes is shut out of the political process, and begins to shed active members, it can leave behind a radical core. This is precisely what happened in the 1960s, when the domestic terrorist group known as the Weather Underground emerged from the larger, more moderate anti-war Students for a Democratic Society, Dr. McCauley said. “The SDS had 100,000 members and, frustrated politically at every step, people started to give up,” he said. “The result was that you had this condensation of a small, more radical base of activists who decided to escalate the violence.”
That appears near the end of the article. But you can easily see the message: Democracy. As long as the political process seems to work, people won't cross the line into violence. And the size of the Tea Party movement is a safeguard. In Carey's scenario, it's only if the masses of people — the ordinary, pretty conventional people — cool off and go home that we ought to worry about violence. You have the "radical core" left. That's what you don't want. So this NYT piece, after teasing us with the similarity between Tea Partiers and Weatherman, draws a decisive line separating them.