July 24, 2010

1 sunset... in 3 parts.







(On Lake Mendota, this evening.)

"I like to ask my kids interesting, but age appropriate, ethical and epistemological questions while we sit around the dinner table. Help me think of some more."

A great Ask Metafilter question. 

(I give an answer, using my Metafilter screen name, Alizaria.)

Do you/did you do things like this with your children?

Sailboats on Lake Monona, very free and easy...


Easy, like biking the Capital City bike trail...
Silver Madison skyline let me be...


We are leaving — you don't need us...


Let's judge old people in their bathing suits.

1. Giorgio Armani, 76, in a Speedo.

2. Jerry Hall, 54, in a tankini.

Old people can go swimming, but the question of how they look is a nonissue. They. Are. Old.
Both of them look pretty decent for their age. Let's be charitable and encouraging.
Giorgio looks great at 76 and wears a Speedo with elan. Jerry... blech.
Jerry is fine, but an old guy in a Speedo? Horrible!
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IN THE COMMENTS: ironrailsironweights said:
It's amusing that two people who are a generation apart in age are being lumped together as "old."
Oh, yeah. Why did Althouse do that?
Because "old" for women starts early.
Because the Giorgio looks relatively good for his age and Jerry relatively bad.
Because these are 2 photos that happened to pop up in the news today.
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"JOURNOLIST: A Vast White-Wing Conspiracy?"

Instapundit links to I Own The World's collection of the names and faces of Journolist. Glenn stresses whiteness, but I Own says "IT LOOKS MORE LIKE THE UPPER WEST SIDE OF MANHATTAN" and the commenters eventually — scroll halfway down — pick up that cue.

"A self-styled dork from Wisconsin is on a mission to become a real New York ladies' man...

"... by dating 30 women in 30 days, and sharing his exploits with the world."

Why did The Daily News cover this story?
You can call him a dork and he looks like a dork, ha ha, check out the photo.
He's from Wisconsin! He came to New York! Hilarity ensues.
30 women in 30 days. A stunt. A stunt that gets us hot!
They need stuff about the internet and this is popular on the internet so they saw it. Voila!
The guy's website really is pretty cool.
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The website, Dating Brian, actually is pretty cool.

At the Cicada Café...


... the cicada's on her last legs, but I know you can keep things going around here.

Note the Japanese fishing net floats in the window box. A longer view, through the pennisetum...


"Treat Me Like Your Mother Or I'll Eat the Sun."

The title of a drawing in an art show by Frances Bean Cobain, who will turn 18 next month and by so doing get her hands on a tremendous amount of money.

I crack down on Newsbusters for saying "CNN Host Calls for Crackdown on 'Bloggers' in Wake of Sherrod Incident."

Newsbusters is getting a lot of attention for an article with that flashy headline, but the headline is completely unjustified by the video it purports to analyze. Let me walk you through the text and show you what I mean:
Anchors Kyra Phillips and John Roberts discussed the "mixed blessing of the internet," and agreed that there should be a crackdown on anonymous bloggers who disparage others on the internet.
Phillips and Roberts agreed that there should be a crackdown on anonymous bloggers who disparage others. Take note. You'll see that they don't. And what does that have to do with the "Sherrod Incident" referenced in the headline? Andrew Breitbart is the polar opposite of anonymous. He seems to love getting his name out there and all over everything. And the disparaging of Shirley Sherrod was done through her own image and words in a video clip.

Newsbusters quotes Roberts telling us what we know:  the short clip of Sherrod's speech made her seem a lot worse than the whole clip. But, as Roberts notes, we did go further and get the whole context.

Phillips brings in the the problem of anonymous bloggers:
"There's going to have be a point in time where these people have to be held accountable," Phillips said. "How about all these bloggers that blog anonymously? They say rotten things about people and they're actually given credibility, which is crazy. They're a bunch of cowards, they're just people seeking attention."
Roberts cites a conversation with Andrew Keen, author of "The Cult of the Amateur: How Today's Internet is Killing Our Culture":
"Well what Andrew talked about with me was this idea of a gatekeeper but there are huge first amendment rights that come into play here - freedom of speech and all that. And he said the people who need to be the gatekeepers are the media to check into these stories," said Roberts.
So, Roberts isn't saying there should be a government crackdown. He recognizes the First Amendment, and says Keen said he wanted the media to be the gatekeepers. Newsbusters says:
Phillips wanted to go even further, asking if "there's going to come a point where something's going to have to be done legally" about anonymous bloggers.
So... legally... does that imply a government crackdown or is Phillips only suggesting that there can be defamation lawsuits brought by individuals in which the identity of "anonymous" — really, the word should be pseudonymous — bloggers can be discovered?
"There has to be some point where there's some accountability. And companies, especially in the media have to stop giving these anonymous bloggers credit," she said.
So, Phillips ends up back at the idea that the media need to shift and winnow the material that comes up through the internet. Where's the crackdown?
"If you're in a place like Iran or North Korea or something like that, anonymous blogging is the only way you could ever get your point of view out without being searched down and thrown in jail or worse," said Roberts. "But when it comes to a society like ours, an open society, do there have to be some checks and balances, not national, but maybe website to website on who comments on things?"
Not national... I think that means he's saying the federal government should not be doing the checking and balancing. Roberts is saying that "website to website" something should be done — maybe just a rejection of anonymous comments. It's annoying that Roberts doesn't distinguish between pseudonymous bloggers and anonymous (or pseudonymous) commenters, but I don't see any place where he agrees even with Phillips's use of the word "legally," which was completely vague and most likely referred only to defamation lawsuits.
CNN's two regulation-happy reporters...
They never mentioned regulation! I think they were talking about the marketplace of ideas in which we are all the gatekeepers. In that marketplace of ideas, I'm cracking down on Newsbusters! This much-linked article is reeking crapola. And yet it is raking in traffic.
CNN's two regulation-happy reporters think the Sherrod situation can help bring attention to the "necessity" of blogging reform if she brings a defamation lawsuit against Andrew Breitbart.
What is the sentence with that word "necessity" in it? I went to the video, and I couldn't find it. I listened to the end of the segment 3 times, and it seems to me that the 2 reporters peter out with Roberts talking about how we all have to "be aware" and how he always tells young people not to put naked pictures of themselves on the internet.

"Regulation-happy"? "Blogging reform"? "Crackdown"? What nonsense!

IN THE COMMENTS: Old Dad said...
CNN's real problem is cablecasting boring and pedestrian filler.
Exactly. Newsbusters, ironically, is making them seem exciting. I think Roberts knew they were being pointless and tedious. That's why went all naked teenagers!!!!! in the end.

July 23, 2010

The $35 "iPad."


At the Hair-and-You Café...


... you can show your style.

“Shirley Sherrod, who didn’t know who Andrew Breitbart was 72 hours ago, now knows him well enough to say that he wants to put all blacks back into slavery."

"If I were David Axelrod, I’d be calling this woman and beg her to stop talking. And, yes, she does owe Andrew an apology."

Apologies, apologies, apologies. I'm more on the side of standing by what you have done (unless you actually believe you were wrong). Defend yourself!

For example, here was Rush Limbaugh on the radio yesterday:
People have asked me about this woman Sarah Spitz, who's now "apologized," and they want my reaction to it. And this is another thing I'll react to it but I really don't want to. This bores me as well, this whole concept of forcing people to apologize for things they meant to say. Why is she gonna apologize? She meant to say it, she wrote it, stand by it. You want to watch me die, Sarah? Say it! Where are your guts? Well, she's "apologized."...

[It's] the latest trend in apologies, "That's not who I really am." You know, "That's not the person I am." Bull! It is who you are! You are a commie! You are a full-fledged Marxist liberal! You do wish I was dead. It is who you are.

I don't care whether it's Tiger Woods saying, "You know, that's really not who I am." It is. It is who you are! What, did somebody steal your personality for a day and grab hold of your hands and start typing on your keyboard and it wasn't you? "This is not who I am. I want everybody to know, as a publicist I understand and this is not who I am." It is who you are!
Ha. Exactly. I said the same thing about Tiger Woods, by the way, back in February.

"I don't think you can be a journalist and carry water for a politician, and that's what they were doing: 'Here's the line on Palin.'"

"These are political hacks, and I think they should stop calling themselves journalists. It discredits the rest of us."

So said Tucker Carlson, quoted in a Howard Kurtz analysis of the Journolist leaks on The Daily Caller.

Kurtz concludes: "None of this quite adds up to a Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy, and there is no reason to believe that some conservative commentators don't have similar discussions. But there is no escaping the fact that some of the list's liberal literati come off sounding like cagey political operatives."

Japanese glass fishing net floats.


They broke free of their nets and floated all the way to America. I'd never heard of these things before, but people collect them. We'd been looking for the perfect gazing globes for the window box, and then we noticed these things in the window of a cool store here in Madison called Unearthed. The floats themselves are more unoceaned than unearthed, though, don't you think?


Here's a blog about Japanese fishing floats.

Do you play Disc Golf?

We did. At this place. I'm a bit ashamed to say the tall grass swallowed my disc. Gone! But it was fun while it lasted. We enjoyed the characters out there — one duo toting a 6-pack of beer and smoking cigarettes but throwing great shots. Meade said, "I think this is kind of a 'Big Lebowski' sport."

"Maybe there'll be window in heaven where he can watch Nixon slowly roasting on a spit."

The first comment on the Gawker post "Journalist Daniel Schorr Dies at 93."

"The state playing God like this gives me the chills."

People react to what is, in fact, a great plan. I wish Wisconsin would follow suit.

That squirrel-beer reminds me of a cigarette dispenser my grandfather had.

Ah! Yes! Like this:

"The strongest, most expensive and most shocking beer in the world."

The End of History "is to beer what democracy is to history."

A Freudian slip about euthanasia?

Bob Wright, inviting Robert P. George to address the topic of euthanasia, lays out the scenario with respect to seriously persons who "feel that they are so unpleasant... uh... unhappy..."

It's also, I think, a slip to say "euthanasia" instead of "assisted suicide," isn't it? Wright must mean only to refer to people who are choosing to die. Euthanasia goes beyond that, and covers killing individuals whom others find — shall we say? — unpleasant.

"Competitive cheer may, some time in the future, qualify as a sport under Title IX."

Wrote Judge Stefan R. Underhill of the United States District Court in Bridgeport:
“Today, however, the activity is still too underdeveloped and disorganized to be treated as offering genuine varsity athletic participation opportunities for students.”...
Underhill’s decision was a victory for the five women’s volleyball players who, along with their coach, sued Quinnipiac in 2009 after the university announced it was cutting their team and adding competitive cheerleading....
This is a complicated issue. Penn & Teller took it up in the first episode of the new season of "Bullshit!" I thought they woefully underplayed the Title IX legal issues, which they mainly cheaply disparaged by showing a feminist in an unattractive light and accusing her of wanting to force young women into her stereotype of what a woman should be, as this preview shows:

ADDED: The question shouldn't be what does "sport" mean in a general sense, but how it should be defined with respect to the pursuit of gender equality in education. As for the Quinnipiac case, the judge has to deal with the existing statute, regulations, and case law.

Just how liberal/left-wing is the University of Wisconsin-Madison?

David Blaska struggles to figure that out.

"Floor boss slides up to me and he says/Hey sister, you're just movin too fast..."

"You're screwin' up the quota/You're doin your piece work too fast/Now you get off your mustang, Sally/You ain't goin' nowhere, you ain't goin' nowhere/I lay back. I get my nerve up. I take a swig of Romilar/And walk up to hot shit Dot Hook and I say/Hey, hey sister, it don't matter whether I do labor fast or slow/There's always more labor after/She's real Catholic, see. She fingers her cross and she says/There's one reason. There's one reason/You do it my way or I push your face in/We knee you in the john if you don't get off your mustang, Sally/If you don't shake it up baby. Shake it up, baby/Twist & shout. Oh, would I could get a radio here..."

Just an old song that last post got me thinking about. Is it relevant? Patti Smith sings/speaks of working too fast and getting told to slow down. Yes, it's relevant: Workers have an interest in keeping the work pace comfortable. That's in the song and in the story about the Italian workers. I bought that Patti Smith record the day it came out, June 5, 1974. I had a job. Not in a piss factory inspecting pipe. In a market research firm, coding magazines. And we had a radio. We listened to music and followed the news of the day, and the big story was Patty Hearst. "Miss Hearst is Now Tania, But How and Why?" read the NYT headline 10 days before that record came out. "Piss Factory" was the B-side, and the A-side, "Hey Joe" was Patti's effort at answering that question about Patty. We were doing our work pretty slow — there wasn't enough work to fill up the day — and listening to the radio. We heard the new song, the A-side, and spun out all our theories about Patti/Tania. Listening to the radio, reading magazines, filling up the time elaborating about it all....

Life is different now. But not completely different.

Portrait of an Italian worker.

This picture is hilarious. From an article about Fiat's efforts to instill a work ethic and the larger problem of the underperformance of the southern part of the euro zone.
“The less they work, the happier they are,” observed Vittorio di Giola, owner of the Caffetteria Vicky, a favorite haunt of Fiat workers on the Viale Alfa Romeo, Pomigliano’s main drag.

That view was acknowledged by some workers, union officials and even the town’s mayor, Raffaele Russo. “There are those who don’t miss a chance to miss work,” Mr. Russo said.
Just last month, Fiat erected large television screens inside the factory when Italy played in the World Cup to encourage employees to come to work, said Mr. Nacco, the longtime worker there. Still, some people did not show up. “And Fiat was paying us to watch the game,” he said.

"Call out a professor for being wrong."

#30 on "The Undergraduate Bucket List" for University of Wisconsin students.

"Where is the preemption if everybody who is arrested for some crime has their immigration status checked?"

Asked U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton in the hearing on the lawsuit about the Arizona immigration law:
"Why can't Arizona be as inhospitable as they wish to people who have entered or remained in the United States?" U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton asked in a pointed exchange with Deputy Solicitor General Edwin S. Kneedler....
Kneedler's response was that Arizona acted "in, frankly, an unprecedented and dramatic way."
"It is not for one of our states to be inhospitable in the way this statute does."
I'm not looking at the whole transcript, but I'm puzzling over this idea of preemption that depends on the degree of drama.

Kneedler also cited "very concrete harms, very substantial foreign policy concerns," which gave Arizona's lawyer, John J. Bouma, the opportunity to zing: "Foreign outrage doesn't make the law preempted."

Does our 6-term Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin live in Wisconsin?

The Republican challenger Chad Lee has raised the question, and Isthmus responds:
Since Baldwin became the first openly gay congresswoman in 1998, she has received violent threats against her person and family from hate groups and deeply troubled individuals. That led to Baldwin receiving special permission to de-list her home address from public documents as a means of keeping her safe....

In the end, the whole thing is a pretty bald-faced political stunt on the part of Lee (and the Young Republicans, frankly) – and one that shows an impressive lack of awareness of the realities of our world, as well as a complete disregard for the bodily safety of his opponent.
A member of Congress must be a resident of the state, and one can raise this technical challenge, but there is the more substantive question whether someone who is supposed to represent us had a good connection to the people of the state. Which is more important?


Discovered, without digging, near Stonehenge.

"We're going to stop buying everything from toilet paper to printer paper."

"He wants to balance the budget on workers' backsides... Maybe [Newark Mayor Cory] Booker is gonna make people carry those little packets of tissue."

July 22, 2010

At the Turkey Café...

... you can hold still or try to make a run for it.

"The concept of depicting a young, fashion-forward female with exaggerated features, including an oversized head and feet, is... unoriginal as well as an unprotectable idea."

Writes 9th Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski, giving the victory to Bratz over Barbie.
Mattel argues that the sculpt was entitled to broad protection because there are many ways one can depict an exaggerated human figure. It’s true that there’s a broad range of expression for bodies with exaggerated features: One could make a fashion doll with a large nose instead of a small one, or a potbelly instead of a narrow waist. But there’s not a big market for fashion dolls that look like Patty and Selma Bouvier. Little girls buy fashion dolls with idealized proportions —which means slightly larger heads, eyes and lips; slightly smaller noses and waists; and slightly longer limbs than those that appear routinely in nature. But these features can be exaggerated only so much: Make the head too large or the waist too small and the doll becomes freakish, not idealized.
(PDF of opinion here. Short news article here.)

Have Patty and Selma Bouvier ever been mentioned in a court case before?

"Goes to show you that a pretty girl can wear just about anything and look cute."

Is that the explanation? A mystery!

"Sherrod may be the only official ever dismissed because of the *fear* that Fox host Glenn Beck might go after her."

Notes Howard Kurtz:
As Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack tried to pressure her into resigning, Sherrod says Deputy Under Secretary Cheryl Cook called her Monday to say "do it, because you're going to be on 'Glenn Beck' tonight." And for all the focus on Fox, much of the mainstream media ran with a fragmentary story that painted an obscure 62-year-old Georgian as an unrepentant racist....

The administration's concern about Beck stems in part from his campaign last year that prompted the resignation of White House environmental official Van Jones over divisive remarks -- a controversy that some news organizations acknowledged they were too slow to cover. Ironically, Beck defended Sherrod on Tuesday, saying that "context matters" and he would have objected if someone had shown a video of him at an AA meeting saying he used to pass out from drinking but omitting the part where he says he found Jesus and gave up alcohol.

At the Classic Lunch Café...


... I'm having Classic Lunch #1.

Accused of frigidity, I push back.

The accusation.

The pushback.

AND: Here's the Hattie Carroll stuff in the same comments thread. And here's my parody of the Bob Dylan song, written upon the death of William Zantzinger (of Zanzinger, if you prefer) in January 2009. And, by the way, "The Bob Dylan song that turned on Jimmy Carter is the one that Barack Obama calls a favorite."

"You may ask yourself: How much oil is in there anyway?"

Letting the days go by... crude oil flowing in the Gulf...

(Via Paddy O.)

"The talk in Washington is what the impending elevation of the former Harvard Law School dean and solicitor general will mean for the capstone of the judiciary."

Asserts David Broder, and I have to laugh. 1. There's the inane elevated tone of the writing: "impending elevation," "capstone of the judiciary." You know you're reading bullshit, so, thanks for that. 2. Who can possibly believe the people of Washington are abuzz over the effect Elena Kagan will have on the Supreme Court? 3. Didn't everyone figure out many weeks ago that Kagan, replacing Stevens, is only going to keep things the same?

To his credit, Broder proceeds to posit the theory that is my question #3. He puts it in the mouth of a former attorney general next to whom Broder was seated at a dinner party the other day. Gotta put in the seat-work at those D.C. dinner parties to dig up ideas for WaPo columns, you know. Broder decides this is "probably the conventional wisdom," then begins his next paragraph: "That is what they say, and I have no legal credentials to challenge their conclusion." Yes, but you are some kind of journalist — right? — so you could have asked some more people before you took what that one fellow/lady dribbled out at the dining table as what everyone was saying.
But, as I told my dinner companion...
Oh, lord, the thrill of being transported to this scintillating dinner party, in Washington, with an ancient pundit extracting conventional wisdom from a once-powerful lawyer!
... I suspect that he is wrong and that Kagan's joining Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor on the bench will change the high court in ways that no one foresees.
Quelle riposte! Oh! Would that I could be in such company! The elderly lawyer manages to say something mind-crushingly obvious, and the old pundit, keeping the colloquy going, with no legal knowledge, disagrees.
I say this based on what I saw happen in The Post's newsroom and many others when female reporters and editors arrived, in increasing numbers, starting in the 1970s and '80s. 
Now, our trusty columnist does the hard work of dredging up memories from 30+ years ago. I saw those female reporters in the 70s... humming "I Am Woman" as they changed the world of men for the better... And yet you still have your job, cluttering up the pages of the Washington Post with this self-indulgent nonsense. Why hasn't some brilliant lady ousted you yet? I mean, this column has you recounting a conversation that — if I'd participated in it — I'd have gone home feeling ashamed that I'd been so dull at the dinner-table. Yet you serve it up as leftovers in a Washington Post column. And now you are feeding me this warmed over Women's Liberation stuff that is refuted —  refudiated! — by the fact that you are still here writing this column.
They changed the culture of the newspaper business and altered the way everyone, male or female, did the work.
And this has something to do with Elena Kagan, coming onto the Supreme Court, where there isn't ONE Justice who hasn't shared that bench with a woman. Stevens — have you noticed? — was the last Justice who served on an all-male Supreme Court.
The women who came onto the political beat asked candidates questions that would not have occurred to male reporters. They saw the candidates' lives whole, while we were much more likely to deal only with the official part of it. So the scope of the candidate profiles expanded, and the realm of privacy began to shrink.
They saw the candidates' lives whole...  Broder's elevated diction goes wild.  The realm of privacy began to shrink... Please don't reveal your shrinkage problems, Dave! I don't want to hear about your realm... your domain....

He's dredging up material from the 80s "In a Different Voice" Women's Studies era, and it's borderline insulting. It's Broderline insulting.
They also changed the rules for reporters themselves. When I joined the press corps in the 1960 presidential campaign, I was formally instructed by a senior reporter for the New York Times on the "west of the Potomac rule." What happened between consenting adults west of the Potomac was not to be discussed with bosses, friends and especially family members east of the Potomac.
Look out! The floodgates have opened! Broder's going back to 1960!
It was a protective, chauvinistic culture, and it changed dramatically when more than the occasional female reporter boarded the bus or plane.
Hey, Broder. Remember the 90s? How'd you guys do with the Clinton sexual harassment story? Are you keeping up with the allegations against Al Gore?
I don't know how having three strong-minded female justices serving simultaneously for the first time will change the world of the Supreme Court. But I will not be surprised if this small society does not change for all its members.
That's right. You don't know whether 3 women with 6 modern men will be different from 2 women with 7 modern men, and you haven't gotten up out of your antique comfy chair to do one thing to find out. Yet Broder, at this point, has run out of material on his subject. Go to the link and you'll see that he pads out his column with 200+ more words on other Kagan-related stuff that was casually rattling around in his...  eminent dome... his venerable cranium... his... nugatory noggin.

Maybe I'll make everything a poll today.

It's Poll Day!
It's Pole Day!
It depends on the quality of the choices, such as "none of the above."
No. Now stop dicking around and get posting.
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Blogging's not easy.


I've got to fortify myself.


There now, you've getting an intimate look at the Meadhouse blogspace.

What are the best tools of fortification pictured here?
Coffee, dumbbells, wireless keyboard and mouse.
Pancakes, small robot figure, "Rules for Radicals."
Giant monitor, many pairs of glasses, 2 kinds of fruit.
Trees visible through big windows, noise cancellation headphones, Wacom Intuos.
Time Capsule, extra camera and lenses, nail file and buffer.
Moleskine notebook, iPhone, watch.
Handmade wooden bowl, Berenice lamp, Sharpie.

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Must I keep talking about Shirley Sherrod and Journolist?

The 2 topics were fascinating 2 days ago, but they don't own me. I'll talk about what I want. The race-card-playing and liberal-media-dogging will have to go on without my supervision today.

No! They need your supervision and we need your guidance!
No! We were having so much fun!
No! We love when you go full-metal winger.
Yes! We're hungry for fresh topics.
Yes! When you harp on those 2 things you seem like a conventional right-winger.
Yes! It's you going wherever your heart leads you that keeps this place alive.
pollcode.com free polls

July 21, 2010

At the Wingra Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want, but I'd just like to say that we went kayaking on Lake Wingra today. It was fun and pretty easy.


(Via Boing Boing.)

"NOT the ‘whiteman’s bitch.'"

The Wisconsin law says the names of independent candidates shall appear on the ballot along with "the party or principle of the candidates, if any, in 5 words or less, as shown on their nomination papers."

Ieshuh Griffin chose "NOT the ‘whiteman’s bitch.'" Somehow the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board decided it could say no to that and Eugene Volokh agrees [or doesn't actively disagree] with the decision.

Free speech is a bitch.

"NHS tells cancer boy, 5, he is 'too fat'... after putting on TWO POUNDS during chemotherapy."

Cancer boy... that's pretty insensitive... But this is really insensitive:
A gruelling course of chemotherapy caused his weight to plummet to just two stone. So when five-year-old cancer patient Lewis Mighty put on a few pounds, his mother was overjoyed. Until, that is, she received a letter from the NHS bluntly telling her that Lewis was overweight.

With astonishing insensitivity, it warned her that he was at risk of cancer - despite being just two pounds over his recommended weight. The letter suggested Lewis should take up swimming, even though an intravenous drip in his chest to deliver life-saving drugs prevents him from being in water.

" I would like to play Bond," said Angelina Jolie...

... when asked if she'd like to play a Bond girl.

In her new movie, Salt, she plays a character that was originally going to be played by Tom Cruise. Some changes to the script did need to be made: "For example, the male character had a child, and he knows he’ll be in danger much of the time. And we realized that, as a woman, if you knew your life was at risk, you’d never have a child." And:
The slender Angelina also had to modify the character's demeanor to convincingly play a tough, gun-slinging spy. "The physicality had to change too," she says. "I’m smaller than everybody, so how do I go up against a bunch of men without looking silly? How do I fight?"

She adds: "We made her meaner than a guy, and dirty. She uses the walls, the fact that she’s lighter and can throw herself around. It’s the Chihuahua up against the big dogs.”
The slender Angelina... she's a lot skinnier than she was when she played Lara Croft. Compare. I prefer the strong Lara Croft look, but I appreciate the attitude that Jolie seems to have even when she's too skinny.

"Beyond the ethics of lying and smear[ing] one’s opponents, I would think liberals would worry..."

"... about the fact that a large portion of liberal media is dedicated to lying to liberals. They regard their audience as marks to be misled and exploited, not as customers to be served with useful information."

Writes Matthew Yglesias, except I replaced his word "conservatives" with "liberals" (as devilishly and aptly suggested by my darling husband Meade).

"Without a doubt, Ms. Sherrod is owed an apology," said White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs.

The NYT reports:
The apology capped what had been a humiliating and fast-paced turn of events for the White House, the national media and the N.A.A.C.P., all of whom, Mr. Gibbs said, overreacted to a video that appeared to show Ms. Sherrod saying that she had discriminated against a white farmer. The remarks were taken out of context from a longer speech in which she said she learned to overcome her own biases.
And yet... she did discriminate against the white farmer. (Later, she helped him. To paraphrase John Kerry: I discriminated against him, before I didn't discriminate against him.)
Later, [Agriculture Secretary Tom] Vilsack held his own news briefing to say that he had called Ms. Sherrod to apologize and had offered her a new position with the agency.
How embarrassing!
The full video... shows that in her speech, Ms. Sherrod goes on to say that she had learned from working with the farmer that all people must overcome their prejudices. 
Make a note for later use: When someone discriminates based on race, if they subsequently assert that it's important not to do that, it's wrong to hold her or him accountable.
Mr. Vilsack cited his department’s “zero-tolerance” policy on discrimination in explaining her ouster.

Ms. Sherrod took to the airwaves on Tuesday, especially CNN, where she said that the N.A.A.C.P. was “the reason why this happened.”

“They got into a fight with the Tea Party, and all of this came out as a result of that,” she said.
Ha. Everybody got whipsawed by race. Wanna all just fold our cards in the long-running race game? Ah, no... I didn't think so. You still think you can win, don't you? And the play is so exciting....

I watched the full Shirley Sherrod video.

Here's the video along with text of much (but not all) of the speech. Sherrod does admit that she practiced racial discrimination against the white farmer. Later, she helps him, after it is "revealed to" her that what really matters isn't the difference between black and white but the difference between rich and poor. The fact that she later came around to helping the man doesn't change the fact that she previously discriminated against him.

It's good that she changed her attitude, but the role of a government official making decisions about people's lives is not to experience personal transformations and revelations. It was an abuse of power. It's good that she learned from it, and it's interesting that she was opening herself up and telling such a personal story now. It exposed her to criticism, and her understandably sensitive boss fired her. It's important to acknowledge that Sherrod not only admittedly discriminated against the farmer (years ago), but she saw fit today to speak as if she were proud of the story with its narrative arc of personal growth.

ADDED: The incident with the white farmer occurred when Sherrod worked for the Georgia field office for the Federation of Southern Cooperative/Land Assistance Fund, and I don't know the specifics of that work and how it might affect the extent of her duty not to discriminate based on race. I don't mean to express an opinion about whether Sherrod should have been fired. There is a lot going on in this story, and I'm interested to see how it unfolds. I'm holding a position of neutrality here, and I will make my observations as they come to me.

One thing I'm seeing that I don't think many people are talking about is that Sherrod brought religion into her work and her narrative. Her speech began with a genuinely moving story of her childhood. It brought me to tears when she spoke of the murder of her father. Because of that murder, she made a "commitment to stay in the South and devote my life to working for change." The commitment seems to have been a promise to God, as she continues:
God is good. I can tell you that. When I made that commitment, I was making that commitment to black people -- and to black people only. But you know God will show you things and he'll put things in your path so that you realize that the struggle is really about poor people...
This ties to the line in the anecdote from the video clip: "That's when it was revealed to me that y'all, it's about poor versus those who have, and not so much about white -- it is about white and black, but it's not -- you know, it opened my eyes..." Toward the end, she repeats this idea: "Like I told, God helped me to see that its not just about black people, it's about poor people. And I've come a long way. I knew that I couldn't live with hate, you know. As my mother has said to so many, if we had tried to live with hate in our hearts, we'd probably be dead now."

That's a beautiful idea. It is impressive that she resisted hate, but a public servant has a duty not to discriminate based on race, whatever her personal background is and whether God revealed something to her or not. 

"... you know the feeling of signing your name to pages of barely understandable fine print," said Obama as he signed the more than 2000-page-long financial bill.

Yes, I've taken his quote out of context, but I need to laugh.

"Liberal journalists suggest government shut down Fox News" headlines The Daily Caller in a weak effort to exploit the Journolist archive.

Jonathan Strong provides new extracts from the Journolist. I'm struggling to understand exactly what was said and meant, so work through this with me.

Strong begins by stirring up outrage over Sarah Spitz, a producer for National Public Radio, writing that if she saw Rush Limbaugh having a heart attack, she would “Laugh loudly like a maniac and watch his eyes bug out.” I get it. Liberals hate Limbaugh. And, in casual company, people who aren't too prissy and think they are funny don't mind saying they'd like it if people they hate would drop dead. This has nothing to do with Fox, of course.

Next, Strong has some discussion of whether the town hall meetings in the summer of 2009 reminded people of the early stages of the Nazis rise to power. The material here is, to me, pretty tame. It's actually a pretty cliché question to raise, and Strong presents us with no overt attempts to coordinate news stories about the meetings to push this Nazi comparison. It's standard and not shocking to muse over whether things seem fascist. (Ask Jonah Goldberg.)

Finally, we get to material about Fox News.
The very existence of Fox News, meanwhile, sends Journolisters into paroxysms of rage. 
Okay, you're writing about overreaction, and you use the phrase "paroxysms of rage"?
When Howell Raines charged that the network had a conservative bias, the members of Journolist discussed whether the federal government should shut the channel down. 
I want to see is the actual proposal to shut down Fox News.
“I am genuinely scared” of Fox, wrote Guardian columnist Daniel Davies, because it “shows you that a genuinely shameless and unethical media organisation *cannot* be controlled by any form of peer pressure or self-regulation, and nor can it be successfully cold-shouldered or ostracised. In order to have even a semblance of control, you need a tough legal framework.” Davies, a Brit, frequently argued the United States needed stricter libel laws.
Libel law allows individuals to sue over damage to their reputation. Private lawsuits. That would not be the government taking action against the network, and it's certainly not a proposal to shut down Fox News.
“I agree,” said Michael Scherer of Time Magazine. Roger “Ailes understands that his job is to build a tribal identity, not a news organization. You can’t hurt Fox by saying it gets it wrong, if Ailes just uses the criticism to deepen the tribal identity.”
What's the big deal there? Scherer isn't proposing that the government shut down Fox News. He's criticizing Fox News as not following good principles of journalism. It's not even a complaint about the conservative slant.
Jonathan Zasloff, a law professor at UCLA, suggested that the federal government simply yank Fox off the air. “Do you really want the political parties/white house picking which media operations are news operations and which are a less respectable hybrid of news and political advocacy?”
Is there a quote we are not getting? The material in quotes is not a proposal to "yank Fox of the air." It's a question — a question I read as critical of government action against Fox. Clicking some links, I finally figure out the quoted question is from Scherer, not Zasloff.
But Zasloff stuck to his position. 
What position?!
“I think that they are doing that anyway; they leak to whom they want to for political purposes,” he wrote. “If this means that some White House reporters don’t get a press pass for the press secretary’s daily briefing and that this means that they actually have to, you know, do some reporting and analysis instead of repeating press releases, then I’ll take that risk.”
So that's the worst of it? Zasloff thinks the government could or should limit access. That's not shutting down Fox!
Scherer seemed alarmed. “So we would have press briefings in which only media organizations that are deemed by the briefer to be acceptable are invited to attend?”
Zasloff got pushed back.
John Judis, a senior editor at the New Republic, came down on Zasloff’s side, the side of censorship.
Censorship? What censorship?
“Pre-Fox,” he wrote, “I’d say Scherer’s questions made sense as a question of principle. Now it is only tactical.”
"Scherer's questions"? What questions? I see one question from Scherer in the article. I'm interested in this contrast between principle and tactics, but I can't understand what it refers to!

The Daily Caller needs to do a whole lot better with its own journalism if it wants to hit the big time criticizing journalists. This is weak!


I go back to the text of the article, and I see that it's been rewritten, without a notation that editing has taken place. The Scherer-Zasloff part that puzzled me so much now reads:
Jonathan Zasloff, a law professor at UCLA, suggested that the federal government simply yank Fox off the air. “I hate to open this can of worms,” he wrote, “but is there any reason why the FCC couldn’t simply pull their broadcasting permit once it expires?”

And so a debate ensued. Time’s Scherer, who had seemed to express support for increased regulation of Fox, suddenly appeared to have qualms: “Do you really want the political parties/white house picking which media operations are news operations and which are a less respectable hybrid of news and political advocacy?”
Zasloff asked a question. He's a law professor. Yes, it's inflammatory, but so what? He's getting a discussion going, and nobody goes for it. Broadcast licenses do require stations to serve the public interest, so there is a real topic to be discussed, and Zasloff isn't some weird crazy to ask. It's within the realm of law. What's notable is that the Journolist members don't support that kind of action against Fox.


My conclusion remains: The Daily Caller's article is weak. And I'm inclined to think the material in the Journolist archive is pretty mild stuff.

Benjamin Jealous and the Shirley Sherrod video.

Here's the statement by NAACP President Benjamin Jealous trying to shift the blame to "Fox News and Tea Party Activist Andrew Breitbart" for editing the Shirley Sherrod video to heighten an apparent confession of racism. When he saw that video, Jealous's reaction against Sherrod was immediate. She was toxic and had to be spat out.

To react like that is to display the same human weakness that underlies racism itself. You see one thing, you see the whole person as nothing but that one thing, you feel instinctive aversion and fear, and you reflexively push that person away. Blaming those who showed you that one thing does not absolve you from your responsibility to rise above the level of instinct and fear. It is up to you to go beyond your first perception, to search for the truth, and to use reason and judgment before you make a decision about someone.

Jealous doesn't acknowledge this personal responsibility. Indeed, he continues to operate in this instinctive, reactive mode. It's not as if he went looking for the truth about Sherrod. Sherrod came forward and defended herself by relating the whole story and complaining about the edit. Her presentation was a new embarrassment, and Jealous's current statement is a reaction to that. Moreover, his shot at "Fox News and Tea Party Activist Andrew Breitbart" is another instant reaction. Not only does Jealous assume a motive behind the edit — "the intention of deceiving" — he assumes Fox News and Breitbart did the editing. But Breitbart says he received the video already edited.


Here's the full Shirley Sherrod video. I will comment on it in a separate post.

July 20, 2010

Andrew Sullivan: Journolist was corrupt collusion.

"[T]his collusion is corruption.... [T]his was an attempt to corral press coverage and skew it to a particular outcome.... I'm glad Journo-list is over. It should never have been begun.... [S]ocialized groupthink is not the answer to what's wrong with the media. It's what's already wrong with the media."

"For some reason, the stuff Fox and the Tea Party does is scaring the administration."

"I told them to get the whole tape and look at the whole tape and see how I tell people we have to get beyond race and work together."

Said Shirley Sherrod, from under the bus.

Brian Leiter thinks lawprofs are doing "too much empirical work... simply because it looks 'empirical.' "

"[T]here is the danger that ELS scholars may be on their way to replicating an aspect of the CLS phenomenon of yesteryear, namely, forming a self-reinforcing mutual-admiration society, one which the rest of the legal academy (even we interdisciplinary-minded scholars!) finds increasingly mysterious and disconnected from the central normative and conceptual questions of legal scholarship and legal education."

ELS = Empirical Legal Studies.
CLS = Criticial Legal Studies.

I found that via the Empirical Legal Studies blog, which declines to offer any comment other than "Interesting." Okay. Nothing like defending yourself. Here's what I think: Academics have an interest in getting people to believe that what they do is central.  Others — others who don't provide them with reinforcement and admiration — are over there, out of the mainstream — mysterious and disconnected.

Italics = Leiter's words or derivations from Leiter's words.

The ELS scholars mean to put themselves at the center and thereby make Leiter seem mysterious and disconnected, even as he would do that to them.

"Chronicle Review Admits Bellesiles’s Story is False — Blames Student, not Bellesiles."

"Bellesiles is a demonstrated scholarly fraud, and doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt that many people are giving him. Once you’ve been busted for making stuff up, you need to be sure that what you publish is reasonably accurate. Bellesiles illustrates, once again, that he cares more about the narrative than about being sure his facts are correct, though I suppose that passing on other people’s fabrications is arguably a modest improvement over creating his own."

When do we believe the teacher who blames the student? Ask Elena Kagan.

In a pro-Kagan editorial, the NYT argues that we should support the most expansive interpretation of the Commerce Clause...

... because it empowers Congress to give us "some of the best things that government has done for the better part of a century, and some of the best things that lie ahead."

That's the argument. The Constitution should mean what it needs to mean so that we can get the things that we want from government — all those fine things that government deigns to do for us. The NYT tells us that some conservatives are "infuriated" because Kagan "refused to take the Republican bait and agree to suggest limits on that clause’s meaning." They're angry because they don't like the good things government does. Those bad old obstructionists. They're the Party of No.

The idea that constitutional law stands apart from political preferences is nowhere to be found. I guess NYT readers aren't supposed to notice that.

"The fifth rule of the ethics of means and ends is that concern with ethics increases with the number of means available and vice versa."

Wrote Saul Alinsky in "Rules for Radicals." I went searching for that rule when I read the way Kevin Drum and Mark Schmitt pushed back against Spencer Ackerman. But Alinsky was at least contemplating the role of ethics as he subordinated means to ends:
Reviewing and selecting available means is done on a straight utilitarian basis — will it work? Moral questions may enter when one chooses among equally effective alternate means. But if one lacks the luxury of a choice and is possessed of only one means, then the ethical question will never arise; automatically the lone means becomes endowed with moral spirit.
(Page 32.)

We don't have the full text of what Drum and Schmitt wrote. But in The Daily Caller quotes, they only ask what will work best. They don't even throw in as a makeweight argument that it would be more ethical to refrain from calling their opponents racists.


Another distinction is that Alinsky was talking about rules for political activists, not journalists. Even as means are subordinated to ends, journalism is subordinated to political activism.

The secret pain of the feminist Katha Pollitt.

From The Daily Caller's Journolist revelations:
“I hear you. but I am really tired of defending the indefensible. The people who attacked Clinton on Monica were prissy and ridiculous, but let me tell you it was no fun, as a feminist and a woman, waving aside as politically irrelevant and part of the vast rightwing conspiracy Paula, Monica, Kathleen, Juanita,” [The Nation's Katha] Pollitt said.
Ah! How Katha suffered for Bill Clinton! She would prefer to have a more pleasurable life, full of the fun of being true to the principles of the feminist movement, but there were more important things to be done at the time. Caring about rape, sexual harassment, male privilege, and female subordination — that was a self-indulgence brave Katha rose above.

How far were Journolisters willing to go to help Obama win the election?

Jonathan Strong, at the Daily Caller, quotes from that email list known as the Journolist:
Employees of news organizations including Time, Politico, the Huffington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the Guardian, Salon and the New Republic participated in outpourings of anger over how Obama had been treated in the media, and in some cases plotted to fix the damage.

In one instance, Spencer Ackerman of the Washington Independent urged his colleagues to deflect attention from Obama’s relationship with Wright by changing the subject. Pick one of Obama’s conservative critics, Ackerman wrote, “Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares — and call them racists.”

Michael Tomasky, a writer for the Guardian, also tried to rally his fellow members of Journolist: “Listen folks–in my opinion, we all have to do what we can to kill ABC..."
Kill ABC because in an ABC News debate, Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos had pressed Obama with questions about Wright.
"...and this idiocy in whatever venues we have. This isn’t about defending Obama. This is about how the [mainstream media] kills any chance of discourse that actually serves the people.”
Interesting double use of the word "kill." We need to kill ABC before ABC kills the discourse.
“We need to throw chairs now, try as hard as we can to get the call next time. Otherwise the questions in October will be exactly like this. This is just a disease.”
Throw chairs now. Kill. Rather violent ideation there. Imagine if a tea partier had used such language. Look at what Spencer Ackerman wrote:
"I do not endorse a Popular Front, nor do I think you need to. It’s not necessary to jump to Wright-qua-Wright’s defense. What is necessary is to raise the cost on the right of going after the left. In other words, find a rightwinger’s [sic] and smash it through a plate-glass window. Take a snapshot of the bleeding mess and send it out in a Christmas card to let the right know that it needs to live in a state of constant fear. Obviously I mean this rhetorically.

"And I think this threads the needle. If the right forces us all to either defend Wright or tear him down, no matter what we choose, we lose the game they’ve put upon us. Instead, take one of them — Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares — and call them racists. Ask: why do they have such a deep-seated problem with a black politician who unites the country? What lurks behind those problems? This makes *them* sputter with rage, which in turn leads to overreaction and self-destruction."
Smash... through a plate-glass window... snapshot of the bleeding mess... live in a state of constant fear...

Ackerman got some pushback, but only, it seems, because his strategy appeared ineffective. Mark Schmitt thought it would be bad to make the campaign "all about character" (as opposed to substance), and Kevin Drum said that it would be counterproductive because "the Obama brand" was about being above it all.

The Daily Caller may be picking the juiciest bits from the prize archive it has acquired. I would like access to the whole set of documents so that I can see for myself. The liberal/lefty journalists were eager to help their side, and perhaps conservative journalists do the same for their side. Is Strong smashing Ackerman's head through a plate glass window — rhetorically! — or is this an admirable study of ethics in journalism?

July 19, 2010

Breitbart got results.

The Tea Party was besmirched with charges of racism that could not be proved with video, and Andrew Breitbart followed the strategy the White House promulgated a year ago: "If you get hit, we will punch back twice as hard." There's a lot of video out there. Breitbart indicates he's got lots more. This could be painful.

At the Belamcanda Café...


... feel free to express yourself.

"Peaceful Muslims, pls refudiate," tweeted Palin.

She's never going to hear the end of this, but pls don't misunderestimate her.

Why did Palin write "refudiate"?
She was creating a clever portmanteau out of "refuse" and "repudiate."
Get a life. It's a typo. She meant "repudiate."
She makes stuff up and making up words is the least of it.
She's an idiot who's out of her league with words of more than 3 syllables.
pollcode.com free polls

Amazon now sells 180 e-books for every 100 hardcover books.

Hardcover books. Don't get over-exercised. There are still soft-covered books.

Paul Krugman is writing about "'Obama paradox' — the supposedly mysterious disconnect between the president’s achievements and his numbers."

But the discrepancy he's talking about is:
The administration has had multiple big victories in Congress, most notably on health reform, yet President Obama’s approval rating is weak. What follows is speculation about what’s holding his numbers down: He’s too liberal for a center-right nation. No, he’s too intellectual, too Mr. Spock, for voters who want more passion. And so on.
Wow. I remember when the discrepancy was he's so much more well-liked than any of the policies his Congress is enacting. I'm going to adopt the hypothesis that there's no discrepancy at all.

Krugman goes on to say that people are mainly just unhappy about the painful economic realities, and Obama should just do things that will improve the economy and not worry about what people will say and think about the specific policies. Just do what will work, let that happen, and the people will be happy again.

"Acting White" — a dialogue between 2 men who "remember their Urkel days."

And here's the book they're talking about: Stuart Buck's "Acting White: The Ironic Legacy of Desegregation."

"We, in the last 24 hours, have expelled Tea Party Express and Mark Williams from the National Tea Party Federation..."

It was inevitable — the struggle over the name "tea party."

Tea Party Express... National Tea Party Federation... everybody's appropriating the words. What's next?

Dialogue, chez Meadehouse:
Me: The New Tea Party... like the New Black Panther Party (whatever that is)...

Meade: The Green Tea Party... now, with more anti-oxidants.

Me: The White Tea Party...

Meade: People aren't going to get that.

Gloria Steinem and the turtle.

#4 on Donna Brazile's rules to live by is "Ask the turtle":
I'm proud to call Gloria Steinem a friend, and this advice came from her. While on a field trip in college with her geology class, she discovered a giant snapping turtle that had climbed out of the river, up a dirt path, right to the edge of a road. Worried it would soon be run over, she wrestled the enormous reptile off the embankment and back down to the water.

At that moment, her professor walked up and asked what in the world she was doing. With some pride, she told him. He said that the turtle had probably spent a month crawling up that long dirt path to safely lay its eggs in the mud on the side of the road and that she had destroyed all that effort with her "rescue."

Gloria tells this story to illustrate the most important political lesson she ever learned: Always ask the turtle.
First, the turtle's message is obviously leave me alone. How am I supposed to believe that this is a message that liberals hold dear?

Second, like Jim Lindgren reading an essay by Michael Bellesiles, I'm getting twinges of doubt about this story. The characters are just too perfectly drawn, and the events unfold in a predictably tragic yet meaningful way.

Third, just try to picture of Gloria with an enormous snapping turtle. Possibly with zombie makeup.


... seep.


(This post stirs memories of The Me Blog?)

ADDED: I've screwed up the first link twice. Insert joke about being like BP.

What we talked about over the weekend.

Testing why women are so unworthy of dating.

The obvious superiority of porn to dating.

I do my own polling on why Elena Kagan isn't more popular.

The possibility that Republicans don't need no stinking ideas.

Peering into the heart of the vegetable.

The hollowness of the hardworking comedian.

Narcissism and lying.

Mountain-biking in the presence of Evil.

A false accusation of Obama's hypocrisy.

A true accusation of Obama's hypocrisy.

A wild Black Panther notion.

Would Shakespeare write a play about John Edwards?

The citizenship tourism package.

Sweden's assault on cash.

Your parents talk funny.

Let's get small.

The letter Y.


I stole the idea for this post from Instapundit, who, like me, blogs all weekend and seems to think that weekend blog posts sink into oblivion more quickly then the Monday-Friday stuff.

July 18, 2010

In Dr. Evil's Garden...

There is no "easier" route:


Good going! Nice!

A swift ascent!

(Today, at Blue Mounds State Park.)

Clarence Thomas is not here to entertain you, and Elena Kagan isn't very popular.

"I am not there to entertain anybody," says Clarence Thomas, disparaging Supreme Court oral argument, in which he famously refrains from participating:
[At the Utah State Bar’s 2010 summer convention yesterday, Thomas said], oral argument was an opportunity for attorneys to tease out their case.

When he first arrived on the court, members “actually listened to lawyers,” Thomas said. “We have ceased doing that. Now it’s become a debate or seminar. I don’t find that particularly helpful. It may be entertaining, but I am not there to entertain anybody.”

“There can be some questions to clarify things, to challenge it, but you don’t need 50 questions per case,” Thomas said. “That becomes more like “Family Feud” than oral argument.”
Here's another analogy: "I would equate trying to get the members of the court to do what you want them to do with herding gnats in a hurricane." That's especially interesting in light of the way some people imagine that Elena Kagan will somehow coax or cajole the others — or Anthony Kennedy — to go her way. Here's what Dahlia Lithwick said about that, back in May:
Obama—who could announce his pick as soon as this week, and the heavy betting is on Solicitor General Elena Kagan—is looking for a diplomat who will forge consensus, build bridges, and bring together a polarized court....

[J]ust because Kagan hired several conservative scholars when she was dean at Harvard Law School doesn't mean she'll have some kind of stunning intellectual influence over the Roberts Court's conservatives....

[R]educing the search for a Stevens replacement to a quest for the most able logroller on the left does nothing to dispel the widespread public perception that conservative judges closely read the Constitution and apply the law, while liberals stick a finger in the wind and then work the room. The selection of a new Supreme Court candidate should be an opportunity for the president to answer that claim with a crystal-clear message about the nature of liberal jurisprudence. "We think she might be able to flip Kennedy," is neither a powerful nor inspiring judicial vision....

Perhaps President Obama shouldn't be so quick to denigrate a nominee whose greatest impact on the court will be writing passionate dissents. Once upon a time that passionate dissenter was Justice Antonin Scalia. And if the sometimes-prickly justice has proved anything in recent years, it's that decades of bitter and brilliant dissenting opinions can be more influential over the long haul than all the negotiation skills in the world.
So the liberal Lithwick wanted more of prickly hothead. Instead, she and we got the supposedly charming Kagan, who, for some reason, is the least popular Supreme Court nominee — successful nominee — since Gallup started polling people, at the time of the Bork nomination. (Bork and Harriet Miers, unsuccessful nominees,  were less popular than Kagan.) Why is that? Could it possibly be that Americans don't like the idea of a Supreme Court Justice who is best known for social skills?

Why isn't Kagan more popular?
She seems to be more about social than legal skill and people think that's wrong.
She didn't say or do anything in the confirmation hearings that made any kind of impression.
She's supported by Democrats, and people are afraid of Democrats now.
There's prejudice against her based on her sex and her religious background.
There's a lot of free-floating unhappiness these days making people give negative answers to polls.

pollcode.com free polls

"Dating Market Value Test For Women."

This test might make you feel bad, but not me... because it kicked me out at question #1... which taught me the meaning of the acronym "waysa."

Dr. Helen took the test, which told her she was a "classic beta." Among her minuses: cursing. Fuck that test.

"For us to say that you’ve got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase... I absolutely reject that notion."

Absolutely... until...

"Everywhere you look there are jokes... I mean, my life is just... jokes."

A clip from the excellent documentary "Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work":

We saw this movie last night at Sundance in Madison. I have a special love for the documentaries in this niche. Show this new one as a triple feature with "The Eyes of Tammy Faye" and "Grey Gardens." Here's the trailer for "Joan Rivers." Watch for the insult to Wisconsin, which got a huge laugh here in Wisconsin.

There was a line I tried to memorize, for me, the most interesting line in the movie. It was something like: "I am an actress — an actress playing the role of a comedian." When she was in high school, Joan was in all the plays. We see her in Shakespearean costume. She still sees herself as an actress. She says: You can say anything about her as a comedian, but don't criticize her acting. That's the one thing that hurts. That may seem very odd, because do you think of her as an actress (other than in the sense that when she's doing her comedy she may conceive of herself as playing a character that isn't really her)? She had a dramatic role in the movie "The Swimmer" (with Burt Lancaster)? And in the 90s she starred in (and co-wrote) the Broadway play "Sally Marr ... and Her Escorts" (a play about the woman who is mostly famous for being Lenny Bruce's mother). The NYT said:
Is Ms. Rivers also a great actress? No, she is not. But she is exuberant, fearless and inexhaustible. If you admire performers for taking risks, then you can't help but applaud her efforts. "Sally Marr" asks her to dig down deep and dredge up some elemental emotions. Ms. Rivers backs off from none of them. In her portrayal of a gutsy woman who has hit the skids more than once in her 80-odd years, there is a childlike sincerity that exerts its own spell in the end. Between Ms. Rivers and Ms. Marr an understanding obviously exists.....

[E]arly on, when Sally goes into her theory of comedy. "You don't start with funny and make it funnier," she explains. "Comedy comes from pain."...

It is the play's contention that without Sally Marr... there would have been no Lenny Bruce. Her outspokenness blazed the way for his iconoclasm; from her hatred of hypocrisy sprang his. She was even there when he made his first tentative steps as an M.C. in strip joints to coach him on the intricacies of comic timing and lend him some of her material. "Lenny Bruce opened the door for every modern American comic, right?" she says, putting her checkered past into perspective for us. "So, in a way, you could say I gave birth to George Carlin and Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy and Lily Tomlin and Robin Williams and Bill Cosby and Gilda Radner and David Letterman."
So is she an actress, and if so, who is the real person? I don't think you get the answer in the "Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work." There's a scene where she's doing a radio promotion for her new book — "Men Are Stupid . . . And They Like Big Boobs: A Woman's Guide to Beauty Through Plastic Surgery" — and the interviewer goes on about how, whatever a woman does to herself to try to look beautiful, she must, in the end, want to be loved as the person she really is. Joan's response: Who is the real me? Perhaps when the real person is an actor, there is a hollowness that must be filled with a written character.


Note to commenters: Please say something more interesting than that you don't like her surgically destroyed face. We can take that as a given. Don't be boring. It's worse than being ugly. Around here.

"While President Obama has touted himself as a post-racial president, he has built a record demonstrating precisely the opposite."

Writes David Limbaugh — saying something a lot of people have been saying.

My question is: Did Barack Obama tout himself as a post-racial President? Or did starry-eyed voters imagine that's what they'd get?

Seriously, quote me some quotes: What did he say? Or did he just stand back and allow white people to spin out their fantasies of conquering race once and for all? Was there a point when he should have spoken up and said, it's not going to work that way? Is he guilty of deception or are those who voted based on the post-racial dream guilty of self-deception? Do you blame a political candidate for not correcting people who have formed an excessively idealized picture of him?

Remember when Bill Clinton said "This whole thing is the biggest fairytale I’ve ever seen"? People didn't want to hear that, and Bill himself hustled to deny that he was referring to the way people were fantasizing about the significance of electing a black President. It wasn't to be talked about.

I think this idea that electing a black President would redeem us from all things racial was something that developed as a shared and mostly unspoken delusion. Obama presented himself as another candidate, running on issues, and throwing out high-level abstract platitudes. Those who voted for him because they believed his election would make us post-racial — and I'm not one of them, though I voted for him — need to take responsibility for their own distorted, exaggerated thoughts.

Now, David Limbaugh did not vote for Obama. He's keeping the old delusion alive to use it as leverage to argue what he's probably always argued, that we should shift, right now, to a race-blind way of life. "The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race," as the Chief Justice famously wrote.

And speaking of Limbaugh, Rush Limbaugh was always utterly clear and emphatic, throughout the 2008 campaign, that the election of a black President would not begin an era of post-racialism. The racial politics would continue (and increase) and you're a fool to think otherwise.

So who thought it? Who said it? Who touted it? Was it Obama? I don't think so.

Buying the baby the beautiful gift that is U.S. citizenship.

"For the $1,475 basic fee, Zhou and Chao will arrange for a three-month stay in a center -- two months before the birth and a month after. A room with cable TV and a wireless Internet connection, plus three meals, starts at $35 a day. The doctors and staff all speak Chinese. There are shopping and sightseeing trips."

What a fabulous product!
Talk about travel souvenirs.