December 18, 2010

"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" clears the filibuster!


UPDATE: The Senate votes to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," 65-31.
“We righted a wrong,” said Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, the independent from Connecticut and a leader of the effort to end the ban. “Today we’ve done justice.”
4 Senators did not vote. 3 Republicans — Bunning, Gregg, and Hatch. 1 Democrat: Joe Manchin. All of the no votes were Republican. Republicans voting yes were: Scott Brown, Burr (of NC), Susan Collins, John Ensign, Mark Steven Kirk (in Barack Obama's old seat), Lisa Murkowski, Olympia Snow, George Voinovich.

I don't like all this lame duck action, but I'm greatly pleased to see the awful old law repealed at last.

AND: John McCain raged, as Dana Milbank describes it:
McCain famously said in 2006 that he would support repeal once military leaders recommended it. Instead, he led the opposition to repeal. McCainologists in the Capitol speculate that on this and other issues he's driven less by policy consideration than by personal animosity....

On Saturday, McCain's rage was all the more striking because the general tone of the debate was tame. Republicans were mostly defensive, objecting not to the service of homosexuals in the military but to procedures and other technical matters. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) said of the repeal: "Should it be done at some point in time? Maybe so, but in the middle of a military conflict is not the time to do it."...

When it came time for his closing argument before the day's key vote, McCain spoke for only a few seconds: "Today's a very sad day. The commandant of the United States Marine Corps says when your life hangs on the line, you don't want anything distracting. . . . I don't want to permit that opportunity to happen and I'll tell you why. You go up to Bethesda Naval Hospital, Marines are up there with no legs, none. You've got Marines at Walter Reed with no limbs."

McCain turned and, without another word, walked into the cloakroom.

The DREAM dies.

In the Senate — 5 short of the 60 votes needed to break the filibuster.
“This bill is a law that at its fundamental core is a reward for illegal activity,” said Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) on the floor an hour before the vote. “It’s the third time we’ve tried to schedule a vote on it during this lame-duck session. It’s the fifth version of this legislation that has been introduced in the past five months.”...

“Many of you have told me that you’re lying awake at night, tossing and turning over this vote, because you know how hard it’s going to be politically, that some people will use it against you,” [Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin]  said. “But I might say, if you can summon the courage....”
But the courage to reward illegal activity was insufficiently summoned.

Gift ideas — food category.

I was searching around in Amazon for gifts and, bereft of ideas, decided to search for "food." (Ah! What searching for food has meant over the ages of human history and pre-history!)

Well, the first 7 items on the list weren't even food. The top 30 was mostly things like the Melissa & Doug Wooden Sandwich-Making Set, the Melissa & Doug Slice and Bake Cookie Set, and various other Melissa & Doug wooden food stuff. Why wooden toy food? — you might ask. Whatever happened to plastic toy food? I figure, when it comes to play food, wooden is like organic. You want the kids to have healthy fake food.

If you don't count jars of baby food* — organic, of course — you don't get any food when you search for food until you get to.... well, the list goes up to 50 without any food. Okay. I'll search the Grocery & Gourmet Food category. Again, baby food is huge. Obvious why, actually. Diapers are popular too. You know what you need. You need a lot. And it's hard to get out of the house. Those single-cup coffee packets are popular. Pet food. Astronaut Ice Cream. Iffy gift baskets.

Back to that pet food:
Pack of twenty four, 5.5-ounces per can (total of 132 ounces)
With ingredients that are fit for human consumption
Made in a human food facility
Boneless, skinless, white breast meat chicken in a sumptuous gravy
Grain free product
All food ingredients are fit for human consumption
What are they trying to say?

I need to get back to my search. If you're searching too, please use this portal:


* A deeper search reveals baby food — organic, of course — that comes in pouches. Do they out-green the glass jars? Eh! Who knows? Glass jars, you can recycle, but recycling uses fossil fuels. Pouches... must be plastic, but they roll up into nothing. My advice is: Buy what you like! The same goes for Christmas trees.

"[Y]our property belongs to you..."

"... until somebody with more clout wants it for something else, be it a 'vision,' or a moneymaking scheme."

"Since there is no treatment for Alzheimer’s..."

"... is it a good thing to tell people, years earlier, that they have this progressive degenerative brain disease or have a good chance of getting it?"

"Simply having this 12-inch Christmas tree in the room with them made them feel less included in the university as a whole..."

"... which to me is a pretty powerful effect from one 12-inch Christmas tree in one psychology lab."
When people who did not celebrate Christmas or who did not identify as Christian filled out surveys about their moods while in the same room as a small Christmas tree, they reported less self-assurance and fewer positive feelings than if they hadn't been reminded of the holiday, according to a new study.

The university students didn't know the study was about Christmas, said study researcher Michael Schmitt, a social psychologist at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada. Nonetheless, he said, the presence of the tree caused non-celebrators and non-Christians to feel subtly excluded.

"Cuba banned 'Sicko' for depicting 'mythical' healthcare system."

A WikiLeak.

A 1933 Washington Post headline: "Present Lame Duck Session Will Be Last."

David A. Fahrenthoid explains the 20th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:
The trouble with lame-duck sessions began in 1801, when the outgoing Federalists used their last days in power to help appoint a bunch of judges. It flared up again in 1922, when President Warren Harding and the lame-duck Republicans tried to ram through unpopular legislation after their defeats.

Opponents said this was un-democratic: These sessions seemed to violate the ever-popular Washington rule that "elections have consequences." Finally, Congress passed - and the states ratified - the 20th Amendment.

Historians say lawmakers thought they were ending lame-duck Congresses forever.

"This amendment will free Congress of the dead hand of the so-called 'lame duck,' " Rep. Wilburn Cartwright (D-Okla.) said as it was debated in 1932.
But Congress follows the letter of the law, and the amendment only changed the date of the end of congressional terms. It's a lot earlier than it was under the original Constitution, but it's still far enough from the elections to give a modern Congress plenty of time to work its will on the American people who may have just decisively rejected them.

With a devastating electoral loss behind them and a 13% approval rating, Congress flouts the intent of the framers and ratifiers of the 20th Amendment.

"John Bolton eyes 2012 presidential run."

Shouldn't that be John Bolton mustaches 2012 presidential run?

December 17, 2010

"In the end, Marines in combat will treat sexual orientation the same way they treat race, religion and..."

"... one's stance on the likelihood of the Patriots winning another Super Bowl. I do not believe the intense desire we all feel as Marines to accomplish the mission and protect each other will be affected in the slightest by knowing the sexual orientation of the man or woman next to us.... I believe the reluctance many Marines feel about repeal is based on the false stereotype, borne out of ignorance, that homosexuals don't do things like pull other Marines from burning vehicles. The truth is, they do it all the time. We simply don't know it because they can't tell us."

Nathan Cox, an infantry captain in the Marine Corps.

"How did McConnell go from uncertain to cocksure in two days?"

"A confluence of facts and events helped McConnell convince senior appropriators in his own party -- people who, like he..."

... like he...

"... don't fundamentally oppose the earmarking process -- to back off the omnibus, according to a Republican leadership aide. Part of it was that, though bipartisan, the bill itself included funding for key Democratic priorities that in the current political environment no Republican supports, or wants to be accused of supporting. The omnibus included $1 billion in spending to implement the health care law -- a provision no Republican wanted to de facto support."

Captain Beefheart has died!

Don Van Vliet was 69. In his post-Trout Mask Replica days, he was a successful painter.

"A primitive genius."

Here he is on Letterman:

"If you want to be a different fish, you've got to jump out of the school."

AND: You should know "Trout Mask Replica."

Late in the 1970s, as Van Vliet rehearsed with yet another lineup, Devo's Mothersbaugh met his hero. He found him intimidating, yet childlike.

"Everyone in the band complained about what a pain in the ass he was, how ridiculous he could be at times," Mothersbaugh says. "But they all took care of him, and they all loved him, and they all respected him. And, uh, they were almost all acting like babysitters that they all loved but that frustrated the heck out of them."

Arm warmers.

You've heard of leg warmers. How about some arm warmers? The backs of my hands are always getting cold as I type up here in my remote outpost in the northland, with the thermostat set the way we like it — low.

And these are, seriously, gift ideas. If you don't like my ideas, at least don't forget my portal:

Judge Vinson: "People have always exercised the freedom to choose whether to buy or not buy a commercial product."

Hinting at oral argument that he may rule against the individual mandate in the Florida case — in which the governors and attorneys general of 20 states have attacked health care reform.

Larry King, Bill Clinton, and the "zipper club."

A little embarrassment on Larry King's last show:
The guests [included] former president Bill Clinton, fit and felicitous as piped in from Arkansas. The encounter was hampered by annoying pauses and delays caused by a slothful satellite - and by a fleeting bit of embarrassment involving the term "zipper club."

King said that he and Clinton were both members of that fanciful aggregation, an unfortunate reference considering that, earlier, [Ryan] Seacrest had clumsily asked King whether the fly on his trousers had a zipper or buttons. A bit belatedly, King explained that the "zipper club" is for men who've had open-heart surgery. "I'm glad you clarified that," Clinton said, with a forgiving smile.
AND: Here's the whole darn show. The Bill Clinton stuff starts at 26:00.

"Does that not just sound like an NPR report, to do an in-depth report on the word of the year, 'no.'"

Says Rush Limbaugh, about this NPR segment, which I tried to listen to. Man, NPR is slow. Unless you're driving in traffic trying to create the illusion that you are going quickly, I don't see how you can listen to that. But there's a transcript at the link, and you can read it so much faster than the 5 minutes it takes for Geoffrey Nunberg to perform the text on the audio. When he finally gets to the point that the word of the year is "no," he says:
That word usually gets a bad rap in public life; it's never a compliment to call somebody a naysayer. So Democrats obviously meant to put Republicans on the defensive when they began to call them "the party of no" for opposing the stimulus bill in early 2009. As The New York Times' Ben Zimmer pointed out, that phrase has often been used by the party in power to label the opposition as obstructionist. Ronald Reagan branded Democrats as the "party of no" in 1988, Bill Clinton did the same thing to Republicans in 1994, and Tom Delay turned the phrase back on Democrats in 2005.
Here's the part Rush played:
What was different this time is that after some early defensiveness, a lot of Republicans embraced the label and even ratcheted it up a notch. "We're not just the party of no," Rush Limbaugh said, "We're the party of hell, no!" — and Republican leaders quickly adopted the line. That extra word shifted the meaning of the phrase — it no longer suggested just opposition to particular bills and programs but unapologetic and resolute defiance.

That stance clearly resonated with a lot of voters.
Rush stopped his playing of the clip there, but it continued like this:
"No" has a great power to bring people together, precisely because it doesn't have to be pinned down. A child has a much harder time mastering "yes," which is always the response to a specific prospect — "Do you need to go potty?" Whereas the child's first "no" comes earlier, as a pure eruption of willful refusal. And the word retains that capacity, even as we learn to intone it to convey despair, anger, defiance, fear, astonishment, disappointment or resignation.
And that's how NPR sees you voters: You're children. You're resisting potty training. Your Tea Potty Party is mindless emotionalism. You're — as Andrew Sullivan would put itintellectually inert brats.
That's what makes these choruses of negativity so hard to read, whether they're coming from unhappy voters or tired preschoolers in full shutdown. Everybody is sounding the same plaintive note, but it isn't as if there's any single juice flavor that will make them all happy again.
Hard to read?! Is conservatism a foreign language to Nunberg and the NPR slow-listeners stuck in traffic? Juice flavor? It would be a punch line for me to call that a punch line — juice ≈ punch — but why is that a punch line? Maybe Nunberg plied his intellectually inert brats with juice — I'll get grape, because grape is a little more favorite — but what does that mean about what he (and NPR) think government is supposed to do? It's supposed to give us yummy things to make us feel good (and compliant). No wonder he can't read these choruses of negativity.

"Obama Closes In on Big Wins in Lame-Duck Congress" — says the New York Times.

The home page looks like this:

At the link
, the headline tones down the pro-Obama spin:
Could Lame Duck Be a Big Win for Obama Agenda?

Is President Obama on the verge of one of his most productive months in office?...

In the early hours of Friday morning, the president won passage of the $858 billion tax deal he reached with Republicans and he appears close to achieving approval of the landmark nuclear treaty he negotiated with the Russians. Both political parties have grudgingly agreed to do whatever is necessary to keep the federal government operating by approving an extension of the current budget authority into early next year.

And in something of a surprise, it appears there may be enough Republican support to provide Mr. Obama with a victory on a key promise: to repeal the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that bars gay people from serving opening in the armed forces.
AND: By contrast, Politico:
Democrats concede budget fight to Republicans.

Senate Democrats abruptly abandoned an omnibus budget bill for the coming year, pushing major spending decisions into the next Congress and giving Republicans immense new leverage to confront President Barack Obama priorities.
But see Krauthammer:
Remember the question after Election Day: Can Obama move to the center to win back the independents who had abandoned the party in November? And if so, how long would it take? Answer: Five weeks. An indoor record, although an asterisk should denote that he had help - Republicans clearing his path and sprinkling it with rose petals.

The conservative gloaters were simply fooled again by the flapping and squawking that liberals ritually engage in before folding at Obama's feet....

And Obama pulled this off at his lowest political ebb...

What is New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson (he's still the governor?!) doing these days?

1. He went to North Korea!
While Mr. Richardson’s trip was approved by the State Department, he was not traveling as an official envoy. Television footage showed him arriving at the Sunan airport outside Pyongyang on Thursday. Mr. Richardson, a former ambassador to the United Nations, was greeted on the tarmac by a North Korean official who said, in English, “So nice to see you.”....

The latest inter-Korean crisis erupted three weeks ago with an artillery barrage from the North that targeted Yeonpyeong and killed four South Koreans.

“The puppet warmongers are contemplating staging madcap naval firing exercises,” said the news agency, K.C.N.A., which also called the new South Korean defense minister “a war maniac keen to ignite a war” and “a puppy knowing no fear of a tiger..
2. Apparently trying to one-up Charlie Crist, who recently pardoned Jim Morrison (for something that happened in 1969), Richardson is considering pardoning Billy the Kid, "reputed to have killed 21 men during the 19th century."
[The] pardon petition [is] based on the widespread belief that New Mexico Territorial Governor Lew Wallace had promised the famous gunman a pardon in exchange for his testimony in a murder trial but reneged on the deal....

So who did the conservative bloggers decide were the most annoying left-wing and the most annoying right-wing bloggers?

From The 8th Annual Right Wing News Conservative Blog Awards:
Most Annoying Left-Of-Center Blogger

3) Matt Yglesias (6)
3) Kos/Daily Kos (6)
2) Charles Johnson (10)
1) Andrew Sullivan (11)

Most Annoying Right-Of-Center Blogger

4) Allah (4)
2) Dan Riehl (5)
2) Debbie Schlussel (5)
1) David Frum (8)
More awards at the link, of course. I'm just a particular fan of the concept of annoyingness.

"It pains us that you have this fab figure and put it in the most hideous things."

"The color is not good on her and instead of curvy she just looks lumpy."

Television Without Pity reviews the year's Best & Worst Awards Show Fashions, and you might not look at these pictures the same way they do.

Andrew Sullivan: "I have to say the more I see of Chuck Heath, [Sarah Palin's] dad, the more he seems like the real thing."

"The revelation of the episode was his little shed full of astonishing artefacts of wildlife, small and large, that he joyfully shared with the kids. He stole the entire show, captivating the children like an iconic granddad from the wild, and he is obviously an educated, smart, curious man. How on earth did he produce an intellectually inert brat like his daughter?"

Sullivan was watching a TV show about Alaska. He should come to Madison. We eat intellectually inert brats for lunch.

"There was a moment during the test when my mind drifted to her funeral and melancholy began to overtake me."

"At that point, I noticed a scent of hairspray—the same one my grandma used for the past 60 years. I teared up, knowing that she was right there with me and she was proud of me."

IN THE COMMENTS: Everybody's talking about what their grandmothers smelled like. Mine smelled like: 1. lemonade, watermelon, and chicken & dumplings, and 2. knitting wool and African violets.

December 16, 2010

Skiing through the woods on a snowy evening.


Not quite yet the darkest evening of the year.

"A middle-aged woman known as SM blithely reaches for poisonous snakes..."

"... giggles in haunted houses and once, upon escaping the clutches of a knife-wielding man, didn’t run but calmly walked away. A rare kind of brain damage precludes her from experiencing fear of any sort...."

"This is the shroud of Vogue..."


Do you appreciate my polls?

What do you think of the polls Althouse puts up?
A brilliant and thought-provoking collection of options.
A good focusing of attention on the array of opinion on a given subject.
A scattered collection of options. It's hit or miss, but it captures something about what's going on.
A skewed set of options that subtly pushes people to think the Althouse way.
A push poll designed to persuade you to think what Althouse thinks. free polls

"Republicans will paralyze the Senate floor for 50 hours by forcing clerks to read every single paragraph of the 1,924-page, $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill."

"Senate clerks are expected to read the massive bill in rotating shifts around the clock — taking breaks to drink water and pop throat lozenges — to keep legislative business on track, according to a Democratic leadership aide."

Oh, big deal. It will only take them a day or 2, as Senator DeMint admits. "Again, we’re trying to run out the clock. They should not be able to pass this kind of legislation in a lame-duck Congress."

Should the GOP demand the reading of the bill?
No. It's pointless. The Dems will do what they want on Saturday.
Yes. It's worthwhile theatrics that might affect the outcome.
No. It's wrong to perform stunts like this.
Yes. It's morally good to do what they can even knowing it won't work.
Yes. It might work to do one thing and then another to run out the clock. free polls

UPDATE: Reid pulls the bill "after Republicans rebelled against its $1.2 trillion cost and the inclusion of nearly 7,000 line-item projects for individual lawmakers."

"Nightfall on the Kennedy era in Washington looks like this..."

"...Representative Patrick J. Kennedy’s office space surrendered to a Republican, his family memorabilia in boxes, and Mr. Kennedy yearning for a role away from the public eye."

'Tis the season...

... to buy TurboTax.

(What a terrible Christmas gift, but you know you need it.)

"Carol of the Bells"... the iPad version.

(In case you were offended by yesterday's ding dong dong ding version. I'm afraid some of you thought I'd taken sides in The War on Christmas, but come on, mummies aren't warriors.)

Michael Vick: "I would love to have another dog."

"My entire life I grew up with a pet in my house. The last few years were the first that I haven't had one. My daughter is used to it, my son is used to it. It's just different. I feel bad for them and the entire situation, what I did. It could be part of my rehabilitation process showing people I do care about animals sincerely and genuinely... Whatever animal I'd have would live a happy life.... I know that."

Would you let Vick get a dog?
Yes, people can change and dogs can help them change.
Yes, the important thing is the transformation of a human being, and a dog is a means to an end.
Yes. He served his sentence, and he's earned a fresh start.
No. He was released on condition that he not get a dog. That's it.
No. He tortured and killed dogs. All dogs are forever entitled to be free of him.
No. It's an important deterrent to others to see that Vick can never have a dog.
Yes, but only because of the kids. Kids are more important than dogs. free polls

"[W]hat Judge Vinson decides on the constitutional issues is, as a technical legal matter, irrelevant."

From aca litigation blog (which has an excellent collection of documents from the litigation over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act):
The most intense week of news coverage for ACA-related litigation will only become more heavily so tomorrow, as Judge Roger Vinson (N.D. Fla.) will hold a hearing on the parties' respective motions for summary judgment in Florida v. HHS. As with Judge Hudson's decision Monday in Virginia v. Sebelius, what Judge Vinson decides on the constitutional issues is, as a technical legal matter, irrelevant. His judgment will undoubtedly be appealed, and appellate review of legal questions is de novo.
Such contempt for what the district judge does — "as a technical legal matter, irrelevant." But nontechnically, there's a "political dimension" — and that matters.
[T]he more federal judges who invalidate the ACA (or a substantial portion thereof), the more traction and legitimacy those arguments gain. This not only affects current political debates about modifications to the ACA, but it also alters the context in which the Supreme Court will ultimately decide the constitutional questions. In short, the atmospherics--though only atmospherics--are important.
So district judges only matter in the dimension where they don't really belong: politics? Oh, and influencing the Supreme Court — or "alter[ing] the context" in which the Supreme Court operates? Is that not a legal matter? Or... it's a legal matter but not a technical legal matter? There's technical law and there's atmospheric law?

The district judge — in this view — doesn't have any real power. He's more like a journalist — or a law blogger — fogging up the atmosphere with feelings about what the answer ought to be — some sort of miasma that might coalesce into a context.


This ties back to our discussion earlier in the week — here and here — about attempts to shape legal opinion by laughing at arguments — trying to create a social context in which smart people — and the people who want to look or believe they are smart — somehow just know that they're not supposed to take certain arguments seriously.

Who needs technical law when you can do atmospheric law?

"How do you convey to the mother who lost her daughter what it meant to my parents, who very nearly were in the same position, for giving me this gift?"

Said Jessica Melore who had a massive heart attack at the age of 16:
"I looked the doctor in the eye, and I said, 'Am I going to die?'?" Jessica recalls.

"He looked at me and didn't say anything. That terrified me. I thought to myself, Is this it? It can't be. I have my whole life ahead of me. When you're 16, the last thing you think is that you're going to be facing you own mortality."...

Jessica needed an immediate heart transplant, but no matching hearts were available, so surgeons implanted a device into her abdomen to pump for the decimated left side of her heart. The left ventricular assist device (or LVAD) connected to a battery pack outside of her body. It would keep Jessica alive during the nine-month wait for a heart.

Still, she was determined to live the life of a normal teenager. With a prosthetic left leg and carrying the LVAD, she went back to school in November.

"One of my biggest fears is missing out on life and not making the most of it," she says. "I wanted to participate in as many high school activities as I possibly could, and my friends and my family and my community rallied around me."

She was a lead in the school musical "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying." She went on the choir trip to Disney World, was secretary of the school's glee club and made National Honor Society. Her classmates named her prom queen that spring.
On page 2, at the link, you can see the beautiful prom-queen picture. That's with the LVAD and the prosthetic leg, not long before the donor heart became available.

"Obama is telling members of Congress that failure to pass the tax-cut legislation could result in the end of his presidency..."

Or so says Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio.

The White House denies it: "The president hasn’t said anything remotely like that and has never spoken with Mr. DeFazio about the issue." Denies even speaking to DeFazio?

There's a discrepancy. Maybe both are lying, but both can't be telling the truth.

The quote from the White House has internal indicia of dishonesty. The spokesman (Tommy Vietor) is asserting, with respect to another person (the President), that things have never happened. Vieter makes 2 extreme statements in rapid succession: 1. "The president hasn’t said anything remotely like that," and 2. The President hasn't even "spoken with DeFazio about the issue." How can a person who cares about the truth make such expansive statements?

That doesn't mean DeFazio is honest. He goes on TV — the Eliot Spitzer show — and portrays Barack Obama as a big drama queen: "The White House is putting on tremendous pressure, making phone calls, the president is making phone calls saying this is the end of his presidency if he doesn't get this bad deal." DeFazio is against the tax deal, and he's trying to sink it by acting like Obama's desperately and selfishly obsessed with his own interest in prestige and reelection.

What's the truth here?
Obama is pleading to save his Presidency, and DeFazio exaggerates to kill the deal.
Obama calls for support are unremarkable. DeFazio is swinging wildly.
Obama is selfish and desperate. DeFazio dares to tell the truth.
Obama hasn't even spoken with Mr. DeFazio about the issue. free polls

Lighthouse turned into an eerie ice sculpture of a lighthouse.

On Lake Erie.

"I received a phone call anonymously that my daughter was involved with a guy 40 years older than her."

"You said you couldn't stop him - so I did."

A statement to the police by the father of a 17-year-old girl who saw it as his "duty as a father" to wield a bread knife, strategically.

"When a boy stole a handful of grain in a Hunan village, the local boss, Xiong Dechang, forced his father to bury his son alive on the spot."

News from half a century ago trickles out. The boy was one of 45 million deaths in Mao's Great Leap Forward. Another death was the father himself, who died one week later — of grief, as people who lived through that time, perceived it.
Starvation was the punishment of first resort. As report after report shows, food was distributed by the spoonful according to merit and used to force people to obey the party...

As the catastrophe unfolded, people were forced to resort to previously unthinkable acts to survive. As the moral fabric of society unraveled, they abused one another, stole from one another and poisoned one another....

One police investigation from Feb. 25, 1960, details some 50 cases in Yaohejia village in Gansu: “Name of culprit: Yang Zhongsheng. Name of victim: Yang Ecshun. Relationship with Culprit: Younger Brother. Manner of Crime: Killed and Eaten. Reason: Livelihood Issues.”

The term “famine” tends to support the widespread view that the deaths were largely the result of half-baked and poorly executed economic programs. But the archives show that coercion, terror and violence were the foundation of the Great Leap Forward.
Via Instapundit, who writes:
Socialism starves. Capitalism enriches. It’s been proven over and over again. But remember: Communism is about “human dignity.”...

"I would like to write for the New York Times."

(Via The Kicker.)

December 15, 2010

Kackel Dackel!

A German toy: The Pooping Dachsund.

(Via The Weekly Standard.)

"Ann, You should bump up your Amazon link for us late shoppers.

"Never fry gnocchi."

And never laugh like that!

Limbo! Orientalism! Custom-built furniture! Sequins! 1986!

You saw that amazing diagram of the plot to "inception." Well what about "Sex and the City 2"?

Congress's job approval rating is down to 13%.

Disapproval: 83%.

"I don't need to hear the sanctimonious lectures of Sen. Kyl and DeMint to remind me of what Christmas means."

Said Harry Reid.

The view from afar.


Madison, in the late afternoon.

"You cannot be serious."

Things not to say in/on court.

"Carol Of The Belts" by Here Come The Mummies.

"As sunbeams stream through liberal space/And nothing jostle or displace..."

"So waved the pine tree through my thought/And fanned the dreams it never brought."

Who wrote that? I asked aloud. Meade guessed the name of one of our regular commenters.

I laughed. "Emerson! You know why I'm reading that? I'm reading this letter to the editor of the New York Times from 1853, and the reason I'm reading it is that I did an archive search — you can go back to 1851 in the archives — for 'facetious' and 'bowers,' because I was looking for that quote in the law case Bowers v. Hardwick that uses the word 'facetious,' which is something I wanted for that post about argument by laughter."

Thereupon, I read the verbose and goofily palpitating paean to nature that begins "I have a penchant for grass and trees. A facetious friend intimates, it is on account of some natural affinity — mentioning a certain color by way of illustration." And so forth. The word "bowers" is in there:
Oh! happy is the man that has many of these spots to dream over, when the real of existence becomes too real! I have a few, and they are bowered with holy feeling — as beautiful and beloved as nests of singing larks in bowers of roses.
Oh, well, okay... I think I know what you're saying in that crazy-ass pre-Civil War way. The temperature has shot up to 10° here in the northland. I don't know if the real of existence becomes too real here at my desk with my computer-screen view of the internet and my peripheral view of a wall of windows looking out onto the "liberal space" of Madison, Wisconsin. I don't think it will be such a dreamy escape from the real to go out there, but we will. It's time for that. When I'm trying to write about law and sodomy and laughing and I tumble back into 1853, the pine trees are waving to us.

"Are you serious?" — a constitutional law argument in the Bowers v. Hardwick tradition.

On Monday, I took Josh Marshall (and Nancy Pelosi) to task for resorting to constitutional argument by laughter. They were addressing the "individual mandate" — the federal law requiring private citizens to buy health insurance, which a federal judge said is beyond the reach of Congress's enumerated powers. In my post, I chided liberals and lefties about using their own sense of ridiculousness as a legal argument because "There was a time when people laughed at the idea of gay rights."

An emailer reminds me of the precise language that appeared in the Supreme Court's case that ruled that states could criminalize homosexual sodomy. In Bowers v. Harwick, Justice Byron White (a JFK appointee) wrote for the majority:
Proscriptions against that conduct have ancient roots.... In 1868, when the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified, all but 5 of the 37 States in the Union had criminal sodomy laws. In fact, until 1961, all 50 States outlawed sodomy, and today, States and the District of Columbia continue to provide criminal penalties for sodomy performed in private and between consenting adults.... Against this background, to claim that a right to engage in such conduct is "deeply rooted in this Nation's history and tradition" or "implicit in the concept of ordered liberty" is, at best, facetious.
When Bowers was reversed 17 years later, in Lawrence v. Texas. Justice Scalia — the liberals' least (or second-least) favorite Justice — saw fit to quote those words in his dissenting opinion.

My emailer was James Taranto, author of the Wall Street Journal's "Best of the Web," which quoted my blog post yesterday and said:
We recall a conversation with a young liberal lawyer we met at an event in late March, a few days after the House passed ObamaCare. When we pointed out that there were likely to be court challenges to the new law, particularly the mandate to purchase insurance, she was dismissive. She asserted that the constitutional questions were well settled. When we offered arguments to the contrary, she did not engage them but became emphatic to the point of belligerence, insisting that it was "crazy" to harbor any doubts about the constitutionality of ObamaCare.

Our position was not that ObamaCare was clearly unconstitutional or that it was likely to be struck down, merely that there were serious constitutional arguments against it that had some possibility of prevailing. This modest claim so shocked our new acquaintance that an initially pleasant encounter turned rancorous and left us feeling she had insulted our intelligence....
Well, you'll feel better if you dance like Fred Astaire:

Here's Fred with the words to the Gershwins' "They All Laughed."
They all laughed at Rockefeller Center
Now they're fighting to get in
They all laughed at Whitney
and his cotton gin
They all laughed Fulton and his steamboat
Hershey and his chocolate bar
Ford and his Lizzie
Kept the laughers busy
That's how people are
They laughed at me wanting you
Said it would be, "Hello, Goodbye."
But oh, you came through
Now they're eating humble pie
But speaking of Robert Fulton and his steamboat, and who gets the last laugh, Fulton was a famous loser in the most famous Commerce Clause case of them all, Gibbons v. Ogden, and Fulton was on the side that argued for the narrow interpretation of Congress's enumerated power.  Chief Justice John Marshall laid down the broad interpretation:
This power, like all others vested in Congress, is complete in itself, may be exercised to its utmost extent, and acknowledges no limitations other than are prescribed in the Constitution.... [T]he sovereignty of Congress, though limited to specified objects, is plenary as to those objects....

The wisdom and the discretion of Congress, their identity with the people, and the influence which their constituents possess at elections are, in this as in many other instances, as that, for example, of declaring war, the sole restraints on which they have relied to secure them from its abuse.
This is the beginning of the line of expansive interpretation of the Commerce Clause that the proponents of health care reform will rely on as they take their case up on appeal to the 4th Circuit and, presumably, to the Supreme Court. We'll see who's dancing and who's eating humble pie then.

"Poll shows Sen. Kohl in 'solid position,' but GOP points out same was said of Sen. Feingold."

"[T]he Dec. 10-12 survey shows him with leads over potential GOP rivals Rep. Paul Ryan, former Gov. Tommy Thompson and state Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen ranging from 6 to 13 points."


Adding tags to this post, I had to make a new one for Kohl. I've been blogging for nearly 7 years. Kohl has been one of my Senators the entire time. I never had the occasion to make a tag for him? That means something.

"Bristol Palin was fixing a loose clip or an errant strand of hair for her mother...."

Oh! The injustice! Will the persecution of Sarah Palin never cease!

ADDED: "Over the past month, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) has quietly altered her case for the presidency in a savvy shift of rhetoric."

Neil Diamond, Alice Cooper, Dr. John, Darlene Love, Tom Waits.

New inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Passed over this year: Bon Jovi, LL Cool J, the J. Geils Band, the Beastie Boys, Donna Summer.

But as "Rock Hall says no; White House says yes":
The humble band from Sayreville will not be among the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees... In brighter news, President Barack Obama on Tuesday named Jon Bon Jovi, a staunch Democratic supporter, to the White House Council for Community Solutions....

Bon Jovi, who performed during Obama's inaugural concert, heads the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, a nonprofit group working to alleviate poverty and homelessness across the U.S. The White House cited the rocker's work with that foundation as a reason for the appointment.

Tina Brown entices Robin Givhan...

... to leave the Washington Post for the new Newsweek. What a coup!
Ms. Givhan spent 15 years at The Post, most notably as fashion editor, the job that earned her a Pulitzer in 2006 for criticism....
Her writing was famously provocative and punchy. She once described Vice President Dick Cheney’s outfit at a solemn Auschwitz memorial as “the kind of attire one typically wears to operate a snow blower.”
(Link added. Picture of Cheney in his embarrassing parka at the link.)
In a column about  Condoleezza Rice, then the secretary of state, Ms. Givhan wrote about the images of sex and power that Ms. Rice’s  high boots and fitted dresses conveyed. “Rice looked as though she was prepared to talk tough, knock heads and do a freeze-frame ‘Matrix’ jump kick if necessary,” wrote Ms. Givhan.
(Link added. Pic of Condi at the link. Hey, let's see the new Secretary of State try that.)
When First Lady Michelle Obama’s sleek attire turned heads at the 2009 Inauguration, Ms. Givhan declared “the era of first lady-as-rectangle had ended.”
(Link added. With pic — showing that the era of first lady-as-Glinda had seemingly begun.)

ADDED: Above are the examples of Givhan's writing that the NYT selected. Law folk are most interested in this one about John Roberts — on the occasion of George Bush announcing his nomination to the Supreme Court. Givhan took a shot at Roberts's wife and children —  "groomed and glossy in pastel hues -- like a trio of Easter eggs, a handful of Jelly Bellies, three little Necco wafers."
There was tow-headed Jack -- having freed himself from the controlling grip of his mother -- enjoying a moment in the spotlight dressed in a seersucker suit with short pants and saddle shoes. His sister, Josie, was half-hidden behind her mother's skirt. Her blond pageboy glistened. And she was wearing a yellow dress with a crisp white collar, lace-trimmed anklets and black patent-leather Mary Janes.

(Who among us did a double take? Two cute blond children with a boyish-looking father getting ready to take the lectern -- Jack Edwards? Emma Claire? Is that you? Are all little boys now named Jack?)

The wife wore a strawberry-pink tweed suit with taupe pumps and pearls, which alone would not have been particularly remarkable, but alongside the nostalgic costuming of the children, the overall effect was of self-consciously crafted perfection. The children, of course, are innocents. They are dressed by their parents. And through their clothes choices, the parents have created the kind of honeyed faultlessness that jams mailboxes every December when personalized Christmas cards arrive bringing greetings "to you and yours" from the Blake family or the Joneses. Everyone looks freshly scrubbed and adorable, just like they have stepped from a Currier & Ives landscape.
Yeah, that was mean — but deliciously so. (Mmmm.... Necco wafers.)

Yeah, it was political. Note that Cheney was underdressed, the Robertses were overdressed, and First Lady Michelle Obama was just right.

I hope that, teamed with Tina, Robin gets even meaner and more political. I love the fashion-politics-culture genre, and I want to see Givhan do her thing. And stop fawning over Michelle Obama!

Perhaps emboldened by "getting a judge to acknowledge his ownership in the legendary phrase, 'Bow wow wow yippie yo yippie yay'..."

...  George Clinton has filed a lawsuit against the Black Eyed Peas.

Mark Zuckerberg — not Julian Assange — is Time's Person of the Year.

So they stayed in the realm of the internet and picked someone who more people can agree is a hero. It's straightforward and nice to celebrate Facebook and leave Wikileaks for more serious news analysis.

ADDED:  Link to the actual Time article:
In less than seven years, Zuckerberg wired together a twelfth of humanity into a single network, thereby creating a social entity almost twice as large as the U.S. If Facebook were a country it would be the third largest, behind only China and India. It started out as a lark, a diversion, but it has turned into something real, something that has changed the way human beings relate to one another on a species-wide scale. We are now running our social lives through a for-profit network that, on paper at least, has made Zuckerberg a billionaire six times over.

Facebook has merged with the social fabric of American life, and not just American but human life: nearly half of all Americans have a Facebook account, but 70% of Facebook users live outside the U.S. It's a permanent fact of our global social reality. We have entered the Facebook age, and Mark Zuckerberg is the man who brought us here.
AND: The runners up are: The Tea Party...
In a sense, identifying with the Tea Party movement was like catching Beatlemania in the 1960s. People were drawn in for different reasons — the beat, the haircuts, the lyrics — and great gulfs of taste divided the John fans from the Paul fans, the George fans from the Ringo fans.
... Julian Assange...
He is inclined to the grandiose. Contempt for nearly every authority drives his work...
... Hamid Karzai...
There are two schools of thought about Hamid Karzai. The first is that he's a vain, incompetent, monumentally corrupt leader with serious mood-disorder problems that require medication....
... and the Chilean Miners....
A mother lode of luck and faith was involved. But the rescue also showcased a commodity even rarer today than the gold the miners were quarrying: leadership.

Syracuse University College of Law threatens to bring "harassment" charges against a student who blogs about law school life.

FIRE reports:
[Len] Audaer's ordeal began on October 15, 2010, when he was summoned to a meeting with SUCOL Associate Professor of Law Gregory Germain due to "extremely serious" charges. In the meeting, held on October 18, Audaer learned that the charges involved "harassment" for his alleged involvement with SUCOLitis. The anonymous, satirical blog attributed obviously fake quotes to SUCOL students, faculty, and staff. The blog included a disclaimer stating, "No actual news stories appear on the site."
So the blog names students and quotes them saying things that they did not say, and the idea is, it's satire and everyone should know that the quotes are fake. But how would you feel — in a tough job market — knowing prospective employers will Google your name and see that quote?

This is similar to a problem I have had with the blog Sadly, No!, which allows commenters to use my name and comment, pretending to be me. I complained, because I don't want my name attached to quotes that aren't mine, and the answer was that readers know it's satire.

Not all readers pick up on satire. (Remember Fox Nation picking up an Onion story about Obama and presenting it as news?) And satire usually has some element of truth in it. A real individual — especially a student who is looking for a job — has to worry about what people will think. And when readers enter a blog because they've Googled a name, they may not stay around long enough to absorb the context. If non-idiots can make a mistake about The Onion, which is a well-known and well-done satire, I would have even more anxiety about an obscure and possibly not-very-well-written satirical blog. 

The Chronicle of Higher Education has picked up the story:
SUCOLitis aspires to be something like The Onion of law-school life. The Syracuse, N.Y., satirical news blog has attracted thousands of views with fake headlines about beer pong, third-year students serving burritos, and the election of the university’s “sexiest Semite.” It delights in attributing fake quotes to students and faculty, as well as to famous alumni like Vice President Joe Biden, who is quoted as calling SUCOLitis “even funnier than me.”

Syracuse University officials aren’t laughing....

A spokeswoman for the law school, Jaclyn D. Grosso, won’t discuss details of the case. In an e-mail, she tells Wired Campus only that a faculty prosecutor has been appointed to investigate claims that a student violated the code of conduct, and to file a charge if appropriate.

She adds, “According to the faculty prosecutor, a motion has been filed with the hearing panel for a protective order to prevent public disclosure of the names of the students, faculty, and staff who were targeted in the blog, or who testify in the case, unless they consent to have their names disclosed. This was done to protect their privacy rights.”
I'd really like more information about this case, and the law school is suppressing it — apparently in order to protect the students who worry that their reputations are suffering injury. The blog is no longer public, so I can't see what kinds of fake quotes were used and how obviously satirical the writing was. Free speech is important, and I'm suspicious of charges of "harassment," but defamation is different. If you report that a person said something they didn't say, that can be seen as a lie.

Here's a hypothetical: A satirical blog aggressively goes after an individual law student, attributing all sorts of damaging quotes to him: confessions to drug use, cheating on exams, and plans to sexually harass co-workers instead of getting any work done if he gets that job at the law firm. Imagine a satirical blog, written anonymously by another student who's interviewing for the same job. You see the point.

And by the way, to be admitted to the bar, your need to pass a character review.

December 14, 2010



Some skiing!


ADDED: Chip Ahoy adds motion (and speed):

Festivus/healthism vs. salami.

Malcolm Alarmo King — a fitness buff/model — didn't like the salami on the menu at Theo Lacy jail in Orange, so he brought a lawsuit, seeking double portions of kosher meals. The Sheriff’s Department didn't want to serve these more expensive meals except as a religious accommodation. King had asserted that his religion was "Healthism." "He’s healthy so he said health and added an ‘ism,’" his lawyer said.
Judge [Derek G.] Johnson pulled King’s lawyer and the prosecutor aside and said he needed a religion to put down on the order to make it stick...
The lawyer came up with "Festivus," and the judge accepted that.

Via ABA Journal, which notes that there won't be an appeal, because the sentence is served.

Which of these is least appropriately called a religion?
Festivus -- even as "Seinfeld" fiction, it's a holiday, not a religion.
Healthism -- he just thought of "health" and put "ism."
Salami -- come on, it's just meat.
Law -- it's completely made up. free polls

Which of these is most appropriately called a religion?
Festivus -- it has rituals and can be practiced.
Healthism -- people really believe in it and they proselytize.
Salami -- it's the most believable thing on the list.
Law -- it has structure, ritual, requires belief, and purports to explain a lot. free polls

AND: Oddly enough, "law" is winning both polls!

Support for ObamaCare falls to 43%.

53% are opposed — with 37% "strongly" opposed. Strong support is way down at 22%.

Holbrooke's last words: "You've got to stop this war in Afghanistan."

As noted in the Daily Kos "morning warm-up," along with scoffing at No Labels ("the latest political insider group that pretends to be above politics") and a kicks at Michael Steele ("lesbian-bondage-strippers everywhere cheer") and 3 other Republicans.

Man, No Labels can't catch a break. And it's not just that they're so non-partisan that all the partisans disapprove. They're surpassingly lame too. And they stole their logo! And hilariously lamely tried to deny that they stole it: "Conceptually, what I was trying to figure out was how to get away from the elephant and how to get away from the donkey... I’m sure his thought process was similar."

The Golden Globe nominations are out, and I haven't seen any of these things.

None of the movies, not even the TV... with the sole exception of the HBO movie "Temple Grandin." (I've seen "The Office," but not any episodes in the past year.)

What's happened to my interest in movies? Is it the internet? Is it marriage? Or is it actually something about the movies?

"Oh, I thought you said it was a 'no lapels' party."

Meade said, noting...

Independently, Pogo also got to "no lapels" and recommended that the "No Labels" folk don Nehru jackets:

"If geezers like me have lots of tests and treatments... there isn’t going to be enough money to spend on the other end. This health-care mess isn’t going to be fixed if we aren’t ready to get out of the way."

Said Hanna Rosin's "new hero."

IN THE COMMENTS: Martha said: "Death Panel of one."

Judge Kozinski to federal prosecutors: "This is not the way criminal law is supposed to work."

"Civil law often covers conduct that falls in a gray area of arguable legality. But criminal law should clearly separate conduct that is criminal from conduct that is legal. This is not only because of the dire consequences of a conviction—including disenfranchisement, incarceration and even deportation—but also because criminal law represents the community’s sense of the type of behavior that merits the moral condemnation of society.... When prosecutors have to stretch the law or the evidence to secure a conviction, as they did here, it can hardly be said that such moral judgment is warranted."

"[T]he 'strict church thesis'... argued that conservative, hard-line suppliers of religion (fundamentalists, conservative evangelicals) thrive, while lenient ones (liberals, progressives) decline."

That was the standard sociological line on religion, but new research undermines that theory.
Why has there been such a lack of familiarity, indeed, of interest, among academics in the cultural depth and complexity of American evangelicalism until so recently? Perhaps we don't do as much book browsing as most people do in Wal-Marts and Targets, and so are less likely to encounter evangelicalism in everyday life. Being among the least-churched populations in the United States, moreover, most academics don't hear about it on Sunday mornings, when we're more likely to be reading The New York Times than listening to a sermon. Beyond that, I wonder if there is a sense among many of us that the whole world of evangelical Christianity represents academic culture's other, the antithesis of who we are as scholars and educators.... 

The "very effective way" Elena Kagan was told "you’re part of the community, you’re part of the institution."

The new Supreme Court Justice describes the tour of the Court she got from Chief Justice John Roberts, beginning with the robing room:
She noted each wooden locker, including that of Justice John Paul Stevens, had a plaque displaying the name of the individual justice. By the time the 15 minute tour was completed Roberts brought Kagan back to the robbing room and Stevens’ nameplate had been replaced with her own.
ADDED: From the same interview (which will be on C-SPAN this Sunday):

AND: Meade points out the misspelling in the quote above: "robbing room." Ha. Reminds me of Woody Guthrie singing about Pretty Boy Floyd:
Well, as through this world I've rambled
I've seen lots of funny men.
Some will rob you with a six-gun
And some with a fountain pen.
And Bob Dylan picked it up:
Now, a very great man once said
That some people rob you with a fountain pen
It didn’t take too long to find out
Just what he was talkin’ about
A lot of people don’t have much food on their table
But they got a lot of forks ’n’ knives
And they gotta cut somethin’

"No Labels, a group that aspires to build a grass-roots movement for political independents and independent-minded voters in both parties..."

Every couple of months we get something like this, don't we? It's the "Coffee Party" all over again — isn't it? — an attempt by elite Democrats to create the impression of a grass-roots movement. It never works. [Remember "One Nation"?] And "No Labels" is such a silly... uh... label. It has a certain nostalgic 60s vibe: I ain’t lookin’ to... analyze you, categorize you, finalize you or advertise you.... But I came from the 60s, and I'm sick of that vibe when it's used to advertise to me. Wasn't there some ad campaign with a sincere-looking model staring straight into the camera and saying "no labels"? Or was it "no games"? Or no some other damned thing?
On Sunday, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg flatly ruled out an independent run for president in 2012. On Monday, he appeared at the national unveiling in New York of No Labels...

It’s also possible, though, that he understands something about the modern political culture that many of those speculating about the purpose of No Labels do not — that an independent not only no longer needs to spend time encouraging the formation of a party organization to run for president, but he’s also probably better off without one.
Especially if he's a billionaire!
... No Labels was created by two Washington consultants, the Democratic fund-raiser Nancy Jacobson and the Republican image-shaper Mark McKinnon, and its slick opening event featured throngs of journalists, free boxed lunches and a song written for the occasion by the pop sensation Akon. The group’s slogan, printed on T-shirts and banners, summarizes its purpose this way: “Not left. Not right. Forward.”
Hey, that's the Wisconsin motto — "Forward." And free lunch, eh? There is a such thing as a free lunch. That could be a motto. Anyway, I just don't get the enthusiasm around Mayor Bloomberg.
Some commentators have speculated that No Labels could even form the basis of a serious third party, with the mayor at the helm, something America hasn’t seen since Ross Perot’s Reform Party collapsed from a long internal power struggle in 2000.
Hmmm. Let me think. What is the similarity between Mayor Bloomberg and Ross Perot?

Here's what Rush Limbaugh said about No Labels yesterday:
Now, what is this?  Well, let's take a look at who these people are.  Mark McKinnon, Kiki McLean, Nancy Jacobson.  I'll tell you what this is about.  It is about money.  These are political consultants.  They need candidates.  They need candidates running for office for whom they can take whatever the consultant gets, 5%, 10%, what have you.  All three founders of No Labels are Democrats.  They would love for Bloomberg to run for president.  Why?  Because he is a billionaire.  Get him to run as an independent, maybe even third party.  You know, sucker him into an independent run where they get the money, win or lose.  Whether he wins or loses doesn't matter.  They get the money.  And he would lose.  But there are always, as a friend of mine says, there are always political operatives who will tell a billionaire what he wants to hear....

We know the founders are left-wing political consultants and we know that Democrat and liberal are labels that do not help political people these days.  Of course they would want to get rid of them.  By the same token, conservative is a good label.  Naturally they would want to get rid of that.  And naturally they would find some so-called pseudo smart Republicans who would agree with them on this.  How many of these people belong to a particular religion, and why?  Because of their belief system.  Nothing wrong with labels as long as they are appropriate; as long as they are true; as long as they are properly descriptive.  It's called language.
ADDED: Here's Byron York:
No Labels was formed by a group of Democratic and Republican political consultants. On the Democratic side, there is Nancy Jacobson, a former finance director of the Democratic National Committee and veteran of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. On the Republican side, there is Mark McKinnon, who worked for former President George W. Bush and Sen. John McCain before announcing, as the 2008 general election race got under way, that he would no longer work for McCain because, as he said at the time, "I just don't want to work against an Obama presidency."

Now, after two years of an Obama presidency and a Republican opposition, McKinnon believes something is terribly wrong. "Nancy called me about nine months ago and said she wanted to start an organization to address hyperpartisanship," McKinnon says. "She had me at hello."

The event featured appearances by a number of Democratic politicians: Villaraigosa, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, and retiring Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh. For some reason, most of the Republicans who showed up were recently defeated officeholders: South Carolina Rep. Bob Inglis, Delaware Rep. Mike Castle, and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist. God knows why a group devoted to principle above politics would invite the opportunistic Crist to speak, but No Labels did.
AND: Does Bloomberg maintain that he's not running for President?

December 13, 2010

At the Red Dot Café...


... hold tight.

"What are your thoughts on feminism today?"

Fran Lebowitz is asked:
Well, now they’ve done it, and I believe that women have gotten pretty much as far as they’re going to get. Which is better, but not great. I mean, it’s immensely better. There’s no comparison. It’s against the law to say, “This job is just for boys.” But that doesn’t mean there aren’t all kinds of jobs you can’t have [as a woman]. And there are all kinds of things you won’t get. It’s just much more subtle now. And that’s progress.

But there are still girls who make it bad for girls. Young girls are always showing me their diamond engagement rings. “Look, Fran!” It’s so old-fashioned. I think that I am too old to feel that people who are kids remind me of my parents. Someone my age is supposed to be angered by kids. You’re supposed to say, “These crazy kids—what will they think of next?” You’re not supposed to say, “These kids are so boring. These kids are so regressive.” It’s like the 1950s. The 1950s weren’t just about great suits. That time was really suffocating.

So it seems to me that people, especially women, especially women who have all these choices, are now looking for things that aren’t oppressive exactly but are pretty suffocating. What used to be called middle-class respectability looked like it was going to disappear, but it didn’t. It’s returned. It just returned in a different costume. If you do it in a loft instead of a split-level in the suburbs, it’s still the same. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be allowed to do it; I’m saying it’s suburban. This is why New York today seems suburban to me—all kids and babies in strollers. It’s 1950s domestic life. The sidewalks are the same size, but now you have twins and dogs.

The top 10 YouTube videos of 2010.

Most watched:

Jeez, the Bed Intruder Song is up to 47,842,357 views.

Hamid Karzai: "If I had to choose sides today, I'd choose the Taliban."

A senior administration official: "Our relationship with him has become so tortured. We've gone from one crisis every three months to one crisis a month."

When life or death is a status...

... on Facebook.

ADDED: I received email from a man whose 18-year-old son died in an accident:
Because he graduated from high school in June, most of his friends are also college freshmen, and in September were newly scattered to the four winds, nowhere near their closest friends and not yet having developed close friendships in their new schools.... [They] posted hundreds of messages to his wall in the weeks following his death, and they continue to post there. These comments have brought, and bring, considerable solace to them, and to my wife, our daughter, and me.

And it was through Facebook that we were able to arrange with [his] friends all over North America to offer a tribute to him when they were home for Thanksgiving. We used Facebook to put out a call for ideas, and his friends used it to get together over long distances and decide how to pay tribute....

So now I have a use for Facebook, and I have more respect for its role in life and society than I ever thought I might. It can be a useful thing, and can bring comfort. To my surprise, it can bring people together and sustain them though emotional turbulence. From our family's vantage point at least, the benefits of Facebook outweigh whatever deleterious side-effects it might have.

Josh Marshall: "A year ago, no one took seriously the idea that a federal health care mandate was unconstitutional."

I love this notion that if people stop taking something seriously, it ceases to exist.

One of the most famous books about constitutional law is called "Taking Rights Seriously," and I wish I had $20 for every scholarly law review article that's titled "Taking [something in the Constitution] Seriously." I think "Taking X Seriously" is the biggest cliché in the history of law review articles. And what that means, Josh, is ... Hey, I love the way whose name means joke wants the test of the truth to be whether or not people laugh.

But I'm not joshing, Josh. The reason there are so many law articles called "Taking X Seriously" is that we don't rule out a proposition of constitutional law simply because no one seems to taking it seriously right now. We work through the analysis, and maybe we discover that it should be taken seriously. I mean, think, Josh, think. There was a time when people laughed at the idea of gay rights. There was a time when people laughed at the idea of women's rights.

I started out today chiding a righty who was — unwittingly — saying something that belonged in the mouth of a lefty. And now here comes a lefty, talking like a righty. This is what happens when politicos talk about law. They're super-consistent at the level of outcomes, and they don't notice all the inconsistencies they spout at the level of legal reasoning.

Josh continues:
And the idea that buying health care coverage does not amount to "economic activity" seems preposterous on its face. 
See? Resorting to the laugh test. But, Josh, it's not "the idea that buying health care coverage does not amount to 'economic activity,'" it's the idea that not buying health care coverage does not amount to "economic activity." That's quite a bit less hilarious.

ADDED: Nancy Pelosi worked the "seriously" test back in October 2009:

Justice Breyer on the right way for a Supreme Court Justice to: 1. interpret the Constitution, and 2. deal with the President of the United States criticizing him in the State of the Union Address.

Back to that interview Chris Wallace did with Justice Breyer. The earlier post got overlong dealing with the Second Amendment. Now, having taken a break to deal with the new federal court decision invalidating the individual mandate, let's get back to the Breyer interview, beginning here, where he is talking (yesterday) about the as-yet-unreleased case. How can the Supreme Court resolve such a politically hot matter without losing the public's confidence in the legitimacy of the Court?
BREYER: The way not to do it -- hold your finger up to the political winds. That's not the job of the judge. The judges are not politicians... [W]hat we do is we look to the text, the history, the traditions, the precedent, the values that underlie the particular constitutional phrase, and consequences that if you decide this way, does it further the values or does it undermine the values.
There, that's his theory of interpretation, summarized.  The key is identifying values underlying the text and the real-world consequences of the decisions. That may seem to give the judge a lot of leeway, but Breyer's effort is to convince people that this is real judging, even though the stricter textualists say it isn't. If people accept this argument, then they see that the liberal Justices — like the conservative Justices — are doing something that isn't some sort of covert politics and they'll have confidence in the courts.

This brings up the topic of the Justices at the State of the Union address. Wallace shows the video clip of Obama scolding the Justices — who were sitting right in front of him — about the decision in Citizens United. There's also a clip of Chief Justice Roberts saying that he's troubled by the "image... of one branch of government standing up, literally surrounding the Supreme Court, cheering and hollering, while the court, according to the requirements of protocol, has to sit there expressionless." Breyer disagrees. It's good for the Justices to hear from people who think different things: "It doesn't bother me and part of me says, 'Good.'"

The "ants on Jesus" video isn't blasphemy — it belongs in the tradition of Christian art.

S. Brent Plate explains. Excerpt:
Christianity itself has produced some of the most gruesome images of tortured, dying, suffering, and dead bodies, especially Jesus's own body. From Latin American Roman Catholic piety to German Protestantism, the dead and dying Jesus is a point of power, passion, and ultimately compassion. Take, for example, Matthias Grünewald's Small Crucifixion (early 16th century) in the publicly funded National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. ... mangled limbs, pocked skin oozing pus and blood.

That Christ on the cross is actually dead, and the body so dead that ants might eat it, is both the most orthodox Christian statement, and the most scandalous. But here is where the power of words and images begin to show their differences.

In Dostoyevsky's novel The Idiot, the character Ippolit kills himself. In his suicide note he meditates on a reproduction of a 16th century painting by Hans Holbein, The Dead Christ:
The picture seems to give expression to the idea of a dark, insolent, and senselessly eternal power, to which everything is subordinated, and this idea is suggested to you unconsciously. The people surrounding the dead man, none of whom is shown in the picture, must have been overwhelmed by a feeling of terrible anguish and dismay on that evening which had shattered all their hopes and almost all their beliefs at one fell blow. They must have parted in a state of the most dreadful terror, though each of them carried away within him a mighty thought which could never be wrested from him. And if, on the eve of the crucifixion, the Master could have seen what He would look like when taken from the cross, would he have mounted the cross and died as he did?
Holbein's is an image, as Prince Myshkin says in Dostoyevsky's story, that could make one lose one's faith.... And yet, the image offers a profound meditation on the power of death, that "dark insolent, and senselessly eternal power." The picture becomes, like so many before and after, a point of great healing, compassion, and understanding about this central, paradoxical thing that Christians hold dear: Incarnation.
The artist who made the ants-on-Jesus video — which is really called "A Fire in My Belly" — was David Wojnarowicz. He died of AIDS in 1992, only 4 years older than Jesus was at the time of crucifixion.

IN THE COMMENTS: Tyrone Slothrop said..
It's the anty Christ.