February 26, 2011

Outside the Capitol today — a march, snow, and Peter Yarrow.

Meade wielded the Flip camera and I edited this. I also appear now and then as the blonde-haired photographer in the black coat, walking against the direction of the marchers. We begin with some women dressed as vegetables:

Other highlights:

1:01 — a man yawns.
1:10 — the WTF sign.
1:28 — doggie.
3:22 — "In the old days, we knew how to deal with peasants!... Burn you like marshmallows!"
4:18 — squirrel costume.
4:32 — "Is Cat Stevens here?"
5:05 — "That's Peter Yarrow."
5:32 — Toilet paper on the "Forward!" statue.
5:52 — The "Yin/Yang" sign.
6:27 — I get in the way of 2 ladies who are trying to take a picture of 3 guys in "Star Wars" costumes. Since they don't have a wide-angle lens, they need to stand way back, and feel entitled to a big stretch of empty sidewalk.
7:10 — "I've been fingered as a Walker supporter because I walked in front of her picture of the 'Star Wars' characters!"
7:41 — A woman dressed as the Statue of Liberty has duct tape on her mouth. Not on the video: I say to Meade, "I'd ask her why she has tape on her mouth, but she has tape on her mouth," and Meade says, "And if she didn't have tape on her mouth, and you asked her why don't you have tape on your mouth, she would remain silent."
8:00 — big Teamsters truck.
8:33 — Meade talks to the women with the "Obama, Where R U?" sign (which was the only reference to Obama we noticed today).
9:00 — Finally, a giant puppet!
9:12 — Meade gets a look into the soul of the puppet.

Inside the Wisconsin Capitol building, at the protest today.

In the rotunda, viewed with the fisheye lens (which feels at home in a round space):


The police presence was strong:


A man with a press pass sits on the ornate stone floor and works on his Power Book:


"We Can't Lose" says a badly-drawn hand giving the peace sign:


Enlarge to read more signs — "Moms Can Tell You Are Lying," etc.

A man in saggy pants and a Teamsters jacket talks to an hipsterish guy near a sign that says "Get Out of Your EGO, And into Your Heart, Walker Causes GAS, And it's Time to FART":


Signs are laid out on the floor, and a woman sidles along viewing them as if they were a museum display:


The scene at the Veterans Memorial on Saturday.

Yesterday, Meade and I confronted the protesters who'd taped things to the Veterans Memorial at the Wisconsin Capitol and piled up a lot of stuff around it. They promised us they'd get their things off of the memorial and away from it. We returned today, and here's how it looked (via fisheye lens):



The signs were off the memorial, but, as you can see, the junk was still piled against it, and Meade had a long talk with them — and the Capitol Police — about it. The protesters were very polite and circumspect, even as they fell back on the argument that they thought it was enough to take down the signs — and that they'd thought, yesterday, that it was enough to tape the signs only on the back of the monument. The assertion was made, as it was yesterday, that people can't tell from the back that it's a war monument. Quite aside from the fact that people are free to walk around the monument and see it from all sides, there is a bronze wreath embedded on the back. I asked one woman if she knew the symbolism of a wreath and I think she said she did.

Within a few minutes, the things were moved away from the base of the  monument. There were lots of police around (as you can see if you click through to the enlargements), and they were keeping a strong and professional presence and were excellent at talking to us about the problem (though they didn't want to be videotaped speaking).

Is it viewpoint discrimination under the First Amendment for Wisconsin to permit the protesters to use the Capitol building as it has over the past 10+ days?

Here is part of a presentation made at the University of Wisconsin Law School on February 22, 2011 by Donald Downs, a UW political science professor:

Downs is very briefly raising the issue of whether it should be considered viewpoint discrimination for the protesters at the state capitol to be permitted to post signs and sleep overnight when other groups are not going to be given the same treatment.

The case he mentions is Clark v. Community for Creative Nonviolence, in which the Supreme Court upheld a neutral rule that prohibited everyone from sleeping in the park. In that case, protesters argued that they had a right to special treatment, because they were sleeping as a form of expression, to say something about the plight of the homeless.

In the current Wisconsin situation, the protesters are being allowed to do many, many things that ordinarily no one does. It's hard to imagine how the state could operate in the future if other groups were given equal treatment and permitted to stay overnight for days on end, to post thousands of signs all over the historic marble walls and pillars, to prop and post signs on the monuments, to bang drums and use a bullhorn in the rotunda to give speeches and lead chants all day long for days on end. Tell me then, what will happen when the next protester comes along and the next and the next? Hasn't the state opened the Capitol as a free speech forum in which viewpoint discrimination will be forbidden under the First Amendment?

But, you might say, the Republicans hold the political majority and the special treatment is going to their opponents. To that I say: So what? If you discriminate in favor of your political opponents, it's still viewpoint discrimination. It's interesting to speculate about why the Republicans are permitting such a giant extra helping of free speech to their opponents. Perhaps it is so they can say, when their friends show up on some later occasion — some Tea Party group? — that they must give them the same access.

But I don't believe they want that. The Capitol has for years and years been a solemn place. For 25 years, I have brought visitors there and walked slowly through the beautiful spaces looking at the different colored and patterned marble on the walls and gazing with awe up into the dome. This is the Capitol Wisconsinites know and treasure. It can't become an all-purpose free-speech forum.

At Christmastime, there is a big tree in the rotunda. The Freedom from Religion Foundation doesn't like that. This week's anti-Scott Walker people are banging on drywall buckets and chanting "This is what democracy looks like." How about a hundred atheists in the rotunda for a week in December banging on buckets and chanting "This is what stupidity looks like"? (Okay, there's a conlaw exam for you. Submit your answers and I'll grade.)

I think the Republicans are simply refraining from confrontation and waiting for the protesters to get tired and leave or — on their own — to upset the ordinary people around the state. Any attempt to sweep them out or pull down their signs might make them look sympathetic or generate an air of martyrdom, and so, I assume, it has seemed to be the wiser path to leave them alone.

UPDATE: At the Capitol today (2/26/11) I talked to the police enough to get some insight into what the legal theory is. I've got a lot of video and photographs to process this evening, so I will put off writing more about this until tomorrow.

UPDATE 2: Prof. Downs emails:
Ann raises points that merit serious First Amendment attention. In my talk last Wednesday, I raised the concern about viewpoint discrimination, but said it was outweighed at that point by public necessity. But the necessity position loses force as time passes, and police are able to adjust to the situation. Regardless of where one stands on this particular issue, it is never a valid or good thing if government grants special First Amendment rights to one group or set of protesters that it would not extend to all other groups. This is bedrock First Amendment principle based on a long history of experience. And police need to maintain a position of absolute neutrality in such matters. And it doesn't matter how peaceful or respectful a group might be behaving, for such otherwise laudatory behavior does not entitle anyone to special treatement under the law. The First Amendment either applies equally to everyone, or it is subject to political barter.


As in: Pushing up Qaddafidils. Could someone illustrate my coinage by photoshopping (or drawing) a daffodil combined with Qaddafi?

Or Gaddafi/Qaddhafi/Qaddafi/Gaddafi/Kaddafi/Khadafy/Qadhafi/Qadaffi or however the hell you spell that in Latin letters.

IN THE COMMENTS: Paddy O makes this:

Chip Ahoy makes this:

"The Tea Party's Manifest of Hate and Denial."

The Right Brothers try to read a sign at the Wisconsin Capitol.

ADDED: I got a clear picture of the whole sign on Saturday:


Lefty blogger loves the idea of restaurants refusing to serve people that their other customers express open hatred toward.

"Sounds like a good idea to me. I don’t generally consider myself a snob, but in this case I’ll make an exception — I’ll be happy to dine at an establishment that knows exactly which kind of undesirables should be kept out."

Swopa loves that a Madison restaurant asked Governor Scott Walker to leave when customers booed him. He/she links to a Madison blogger who deleted the name of the restaurant after the restaurant received threats. (Threats? Were they reported to the police?) Swopa notes that he edited his post to delete the name of the restaurant, but he leaves in his "via Howie Klein on Twitter" link, and the name of the restaurant is right there.

Idiot. Don't rely on Firedoglake to protect you. They care. They want to protect you. But they just can't quite pull off the protectiveness they'd love to give you.

And that's the problem with liberals. They care. They're here to help. They're here to help the people they've decided are the people who deserve to be helped. But they do a half-assed job of protecting even the people they care about.

And how about believing in principles that you are willing to follow at a high level of abstraction? You love the idea of restaurants letting the passions of their customers determine who ought to be seated (at least when they sympathize with those passions). What sprang into my head was: Ollie's Barbecue!
Ollie's Barbecue is a family owned restaurant in Birmingham, Alabama, specializing in barbecued meats and homemade pies, with a seating capacity of 220 customers... The restaurant caters to a family and white-collar trade with a take-out service for Negroes....
Ah, but who remembers anything anymore? It's today that matters. The war dead are dead, and now their memorial is a handy place to tape your signs and back your table up against so all your stuff doesn't fall on the floor.

And who thinks about tomorrow? The state capitol is occupied right now and plastered with thousands of signs this week, and isn't that just great? You haven't give a moment's thought — have you? — to what free speech rights will apply to the next group that wants to appropriate the state capitol? Are you planning on advocating viewpoint discrimination to keep the signs you find loathsome off the walls?

No. I know. You have no plan. You haven't thought about it. Swopa began his post this way:
Sometimes, it’s good to leave detached, cerebral meta-analyses of politics aside and just get a taste of public opinion being expressed the old-fashioned way.
Sometimes! The whole point of principles is that you're supposed to follow them all the time — especially when you would find it most satisfying to violate them. Swopa's all: Let's not be "detached" and "cerebral" today when we're having such fun.

What children!

IN THE COMMENTS: There's some evidence that the story of the booing and ejectment was a hoax. Of course, nothing in my post depends on whether the incident really happened or not. I'm writing about the reaction to the incident, not the incident itself. If it is a hoax, I would like to get to the bottom of it. Did the owners of the restaurant seek to endear themselves to Madisonians with viral P.R. about their political faith? Or were employees appropriating their employer's reputation?

February 25, 2011

Protesters at the Wisconsin Capitol disrespectfully have taped signs on and piled junk against the Veterans Memorial.

Meade and I confront them, and we're told we're the first people who've had a problem with it. I try to explain how that attempted defense of the behavior is only going to make it look worse. It means that of all these crowds of people in the Capitol, no one else has noticed or cared enough to say anything.

AND: Here's a video made by Democracy Now! that features the young woman Meade talks to in the end of our video.

UPDATE: Our interaction with the protesters continue here.

At the Capitol today... there were signs taped up everywhere..

"Dick move."


Signs and junk...


... and even some people sleeping (at midday)...


Many signs depicted Jesus. Jesus says, "Tax the rich," and Scott Walker ignores our Lord:


The displays at the mezzanine level had become — like all the walls and pillars — places to tape signs. Here's the bust of Robert M. La Follette:


I don't know if you can see it. Look closely: that is the replica of the Liberty Bell under all those signs:


This is the back of the Veteran's Memorial, with all sorts of notices taped onto it and junk piled up against it.


Meade and I confronted the protesters who maintained what they called their "information station." That's Meade in the baseball cap during the confrontation:


I'll have video of the Veterans Memorial confrontation on YouTube and this blog very soon. The video includes a protester telling me that Meade and I are the first — "literally the first" — persons to object to their treatment of the memorial.

ADDED: Here's the post with the video up now.

"The Day They Took The Laptops."

(GWU Law Revue 2011.)

100 lawprofs ask Congress to impose an ethics code on the Supreme Court.

Oddly, the name Koch appears 10 times in this Washington Post article. It appears that some lawprof brains are aboil with worries about the nefarious Koch brothers. Kochophobia rages on, and these furious minds seem to imagine themselves overcoming the evil that is Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas — as if their "ethics" plan — assuming it could be put in place — couldn't possibly backfire and oust their favorite liberal/swing justice.
The professors said in their letter to the committees that their goal is not to second-guess the activities of any individual judge but to create "mandatory and enforceable rules to protect the integrity of the Supreme Court." An influential British judge declared in the 17th century that "no man may be a judge in his own case," the letter said, but "inexplicably we still allow Supreme Court justices to be the sole judge of themselves on recusal issues."
And what man will be the judge of whether these law professors are truthfully reporting their motives?
Under the ethics code that the lawyers consider their model, approved and regularly updated by the nation's chief appellate judges under the chairmanship of the chief justice, lesser judges are prohibited from accepting travel reimbursements from outside groups if they "give the appearance of influencing the judge" or "otherwise give the appearance of impropriety."

Nan Aron, director of the liberal group Alliance for Justice, said that if these rules were extended to the Supreme Court, none of the justices could attend "overtly political meetings or events" like those sponsored by the Kochs.
And who will be the judge of which meetings and events are overtly political? If they're sponsored by the Kochs, they're political. So far, we know that. Thanks a lot. I love the irony. It's obvious that this proposal is overtly political!
At present, said Ellen Yaroshefsky, director of the Jacob Burns Ethics Center at the Benjamin Cardozo School of Law, "we have standard-less standards" at the court that she struggles to explain to students.

She said it would be straightforward for the court to appoint an independent body of retired justices or other experts to adjudicate recusal and ethics controversies.
Oh, wonderful! An independent body of retired justices or other experts. Yes, wouldn't it be great to have an independent body of retired justices or other experts decide which Supreme Court Justices got to participate in particular cases?

So... retired Justices Souter, Stevens, and O'Connor might step up to decide who to disqualify in — let's say — the case about the constitutionality of the individual mandate. Maybe you think that skews a tad liberal, a tad too anti-Scalia-and-Thomas. Well, first, that's not a bug, it's a feature. And, second, whoever is setting up the "independent body" could always balance it with those  "other experts." You know where to get them, don't you? Elite law schools! Begin with the names of those 100 professors who signed that letter to Congress.

It's all so delightfully inbred — isn't it? — in the feverish fantasy life of the Scalia- and Thomas-haters of legal academia.

The Wisconsin Law School Forum on Gov. Walker's Budget Repair Bill.

The entire 2 hours of the event — which I blogged here and here — can now be streamed here.

Weary Wisconsin Democrats surprised by late-night vote, rush at the Republicans "pumping their fists and shouting 'Shame!' and 'Cowards!'"

AP reports:
With the Senate immobilized, Assembly Republicans decided to act and convened the chamber Tuesday morning.

Democrats launched a filibuster, throwing out dozens of amendments and delivering rambling speeches. Each time Republicans tried to speed up the proceedings, Democrats rose from their seats and wailed that the GOP was stifling them.

Debate had gone on for 60 hours and 15 Democrats were still waiting to speak when the vote started around 1 a.m. Friday. Speaker Pro Tem Bill Kramer, R-Waukesha, opened the roll and closed it within seconds.

Democrats looked around, bewildered. Only 13 of the 38 Democratic members managed to vote in time.
Republicans immediately marched out of the chamber in single file. The Democrats rushed at them, pumping their fists and shouting "Shame!" and "Cowards!"

The Republicans walked past them without responding.
The Democrats were playing games and the Republicans decided to play one of their own. It's not pretty. I'd like to see video of that rushing, shouting, and fist-pumping action. That seems to cross over into something approaching a physical threat.

IN THE COMMENTS: 2 commenters — Liz and Jana — come up with the video right away:

"Here's the latest evidence that nothing has changed in post-Tucson America..."

Writes Justin Elliott in Salon:
A person at a Tuesday town hall with Rep. Paul Broun, R-Ga., got up and asked, "Who is going to shoot President Obama?"

The exact wording of the question is not clear because, the Athens Banner-Herald reports, there was a lot of noise at the event. 
If you don't know the "exact wording," why do you have some words in quotes? This non-quote has gone viral in the leftosphere, the leftosphere where no one seems to mind all the violent and over-the-top language and imagery at the week-long Wisconsin protests. If you don't have that quote, why are you spewing it out there? Maybe what hasn't changed post-Tucson is you?

Seriously. Why put out a quote that you don't have? You're trying to stir people up and create discord! You are the problem you are talking about? Do you have any self-awareness at all?
The question prompted a "big laugh" from the crowd, in Oglethorpe County, Ga., according to the Banner-Herald. Broun, for his part, did not object to the question. He said in response:
"The thing is, I know there’s a lot of frustration with this president..."
And now, you want to attribute incivility to Broun, but you don't know what he heard. He mentions the president, so presumably, he caught that it was something anti-Obama, but beyond that you are making stuff up.

If the crowd was so big, and it was a planned event, where's the digital video? Don't tell me the crowd was too noisy for anyone to record it AND that the crowd heard it.

Now, as is widely known, it's a serious federal crime to threaten the life of the president, which makes it less likely that the words are as reported in the pseudo-quote. It also makes it less likely that a person of the left was trying to make trouble for Broun (a theory I see some righties are propounding). If it was said, it was said by someone who was both malevolent and stupid. Why would a whole crowd of people give a big laugh when they found themselves in the presence of someone malevolent and stupid?

Flashback to spitgate. I say, as I said then: Produce the video.

ADDED: Media Matters links to this post and says:
Althouse later announced that she'd only believe the "shoot Obama" story if she saw a video of the encounter.
Care to quote me? This is about quotes and you can't quote me saying that, because I didn't. Pathetic. I'm announcing that Media Matters is pathetic. And you can quote me.
That's fine, except Broun's staff confirmed the "shoot Obama" question was asked. The Congressman has since sort-of apologized for his non-reaction to the "shoot Obama" question, and the Secret Service was alarmed enough by the question to interview the person who asked it. (The elderly man apologized for the what he said was a joke.)

Still waiting for the video Ann? 
Yes, I am. For video or some other good-enough evidence. And you should too. As I've said — nay, announced! — you shouldn't spread viral stories unless and until you at least have your facts straight. When I wrote this post, I'd already seen that Broun’s press secretary, Jessica Morris, reportedly said "Obviously, the question was inappropriate, so Congressman Broun moved on," and I chose not to lengthen my post with the obvious question: What did the person who spoke to her say before she said that?

The quote from Morris doesn't establish that she knew what was said independently from what was just said to her. Whoever elicited that quote from her might have just told her what was purportedly said at the town hall. Imagine a reporter saying, "At the town hall, someone yelled out 'Who is going to shoot President Obama?' Why didn't Congressman Broun denounce that person on the spot?" Her remark would fit that context, and therefore doesn't work as a confirmation of the pseudoquote.

MORE: Now, I'm clicking through to the Washington Post story, which came out after I made this post. And I'm just now paying attention to the business about the Secret Service in the Media Matters piece that links to it. The "ADDED" part above relates only to my reaction to what the spokeswoman said.
A law enforcement source confirmed that the Secret Service interviewed the constituent and determined that he or she was an "elderly person" who now regrets making a bad joke.
"In this case this was poor taste," the source says. "The person realized that."
That WaPo item is updated at 11:50 a.m. to say that "Rep Paul Broun appears to admit he should have condemned his constituent." Broun now repeats the quote, which suggests he heard it that way, and says "I was stunned by the question and chose not to dignify it with a response; therefore, at that moment I moved on to the next person with a question. After the event, my office took action with the appropriate authorities."

So, I'll accept now that the quote was made.

And, Media Matters, what do you say about all the violent images and statements that have been in this last week here in Wisconsin? What do you say about the death threat that was made to me? Where are your condemnations of that? I'm waiting!

"In the private sector, the capitalist knows that when he negotiates with the union, if he gives away the store, he loses his shirt."

"In the public sector, the politicians who approve any deal have none of their own money at stake. On the contrary, the more favorably they dispose of union demands, the more likely they are to be the beneficiary of union largess in the next election. It's the perfect cozy setup... Recognizing this threat to union power, the Democratic Party is pouring money and fury into the fight. Fewer than 7 percent of private-sector workers are unionized. The Democrats' strength lies in government workers, who now constitute a majority of union members and provide massive support to the party. For them, Wisconsin represents a dangerous contagion."

Charles Krauthammer.

"Tyrant's House" — the subject line of email containing George W. Bush's Texas address.

Email sent to himself by Khalid Aldawsari — who's been arrested in Lubbock after he attempted to buy a product used in bombmaking.
Officials said that Aldawsari appeared to be acting alone and was not in touch with any terrorist organization overseas. But his journal entries stated that he was inspired by Osama bin Laden and wanted to create "an Islamic group under the banner" of al-Qaeda...

... Aldawsari wrote that "one operation in the land of the infidels is equal to ten operations against occupying forces in the land of the Muslims."

"And if Scott Walker gets in our way, we're gonna roll right over him," yells a protester in the Wisconsin Capitol on Thursday.

Meade did the video-recording  on Thursday, and I edited things down to 4 1/2 minutes. The quote in the post title begins the montage. Look for the group of schoolchildren dragged through the crowd — they appear twice — and the baby with a sign. There are 2 men in ridiculous costumes, one of which speaks of violence with a sign reading "Gore Walker" on a helmet that has big bull horns sticking out of it. It took us a moment to get it, because "Gore" made us think of Al Gore, but "gore" with horns — and don't they look blood-reddened? — signifies a grisly piercing.

At the Corporate Caliphate Café...


... I'm sure you know what you're talking about.

February 24, 2011

"Loneliness is a cloak you wear, a deep shade of blue is always there" — the real Scott Walker.

Everyone is tearing into Scott Walker these days. But "who knows anything about Scott Walker?" (To quote David Bowie.)

Professor Donald Downs says Gov. Walker "by being radical... has exposed the contradictions in the political economy."

"It's creedal!"

This is the last 2 1/2 minutes of Downs's talk at last night's teach-in, which is also discussed in the previous post, and which should soon be on-line in its entirety here.

The Badger Herald writes about last night's teach-in on the Wisconsin budget bill and completely misrepresents what Prof. Donald Downs said.

Here's the Badger Herald.  Here's Professor Downs's response — which was cc'd to me:
I write in response to Grant Hermes reporting on my comments at the Law School Forum Wednesday evening. Hermes wrote that I "alluded to the idea that the governor’s proposed bill may have long-term negative effects on political areas outside of labor disputes, such as taxes and the rising cost in higher education." This is a complete misrepresentation of what I said and meant. I was talking about the crisis of debt, and how higher education is part of this crisis because we cost so much. Walker has had nothing to do [with] having caused this problem; indeed, his measures are designed to at least address the crisis of public debt in a forceful way. At no point in my discussion of this aspect of the problem did I implicate Walker's plan as a source of the problem. The cost of higher education has skyrocketed at twice the skyrocketing rate of medical care costs over the course of the last twenty years, and we are the source of this problem, not Walker.

Donald Downs
Meiklejohn Professor of Political Science, Law, and Journalism
Maybe the reporter had trouble hearing a professor imply that Scott Walker might be doing something good.

ADDED: The boldface is mine. Here's the last 2 1/2 minutes of Downs's talk.

Remember when Sarah Palin was asked "What is the Bush Doctrine?"

It was a painful, embarrassing episode for her. Here's a question for producing new gotcha moments for selected politicians: What is the Obama Doctrine?

"Barack, wouldn't it be funny if, after all of this, you got to be President..."

"... tried to do the job, working hard at it, trying to be a good President, and you wake up one morning and you think: I hate my job. Because doesn't this happen to people all the time? You get the job, you start to do it, and then you realize: I hate it!"

Keep smiling, keep shining, knowing you can always count on me, for sure...

That's what friends are for...

For good times and bad times, I'll be on your side forever more, that's what friends are for...

Democratic congressman: "Every once and awhile you need to get out on the streets and get a little bloody when necessary."

Rep. Michael Capuano was speaking at the Boston rally in "solidarity" with the Wisconsin protests. Last month, after the Tucson rally, he said: "There's always some degree of tension in politics; everybody knows the last couple of years there's been an intentional increase in the degree of heat in political discourse. . . . If nothing else good comes out of this, I'm hoping it causes people to reconsider how they deal with things."

James Taranto cries hypocrisy, but it's not all that hypocritical. Capuano said there would always be "tension" in politics, that people are intentionally increasing that tension (or "heat"), and that people should think about "how they deal with things." You can read that a lot of ways!

UW professor retires after only 21 years to "protect" herself from "depressing and threatening" clauses in Gov. Walker's bill.

The Daily Cardinal reports:
"Maybe I didn't need to jump, but I won't know that until much later. My concern was that there will be no window allowed for people to actually make an informed decision," [UW-Madison Anthropology Professor Sharon] Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson said the redefinition of the term "emergency" in the bill would allow for the firing of anyone who walks out, holds a strike or calls in sick.

"I find the clauses so depressing and threatening that I decided that it's impossible to determine, it's just too tense for me, and I know of no other way to protect myself for sure... The discourse that is developing that is trying to divide people against each other is truly disheartening...."

February 23, 2011

At the Teach-in Teahouse...


... you can talk about what you heard...


... or anything you want.


"James McLure Dies at 59; Wrote Garrulous Plays."

"Obituary headline to die for," emails the irrepressible RLC.

"None of this is about budgets. It’s about crushing enemies. Unions. Government programs. The social safety net. Abortion. Contraception."

Gail Collins gets stream-of-consciousness-y.

Obama orders Justice Department to drop its defense of the Defense of Marriage Act.

Politico reports:
“After careful consideration, including a review of my recommendation, the president has concluded that given a number of factors, including a documented history of discrimination, classifications based on sexual orientation should be subject to a more heightened standard of scrutiny,” [Attorney General Eric] Holder said in a statement.

“The president has also concluded that Section 3 of DOMA, as applied to legally married same-sex couples, fails to meet that standard and is therefore unconstitutional. Given that conclusion, the president has instructed the department not to defend the statute in such cases. I fully concur with the president’s determination.”
(Last fall, I was very critical of Obama's willingness to defend DOMA in the courts.)

ADDED: Watch me — last October — criticize Obama for fighting against gay rights in the courts:

Hmmm. October... Had to win some votes back then.

Don't forget the forum on Gov. Walker's budget repair bill at the law school tonight.

Previously blogged here. This event, from 6-8 tonight in room 2260 at the UW Law School, is open to the public. And, as you can see from the law school website, the law school will produce a video of the event that will be available here tomorrow.

Governor Walker accepts a phone call from a prankster pretending to be David Koch.

Walker's office admits that it's him:
The Governor takes many calls everyday. Throughout this call the Governor maintained his appreciation for and commitment to civil discourse. He continued to say that the budget repair bill is about the budget. The phone call shows that the Governor says the same thing in private as he does in public and the lengths that others will go to disrupt the civil debate Wisconsin is having.
Walker opponents would love to make something of this phone call, but all they have are a few over-the-line things the Koch impersonator said like "You gotta crush that union." Walker just ignores that stuff and goes on with his standard points, which is probably the standard strategy that most politicians use when people interact with them.

You could say that it's bad that the prankster got through, but that shows that he's willing to talk to a lot of people and also that David Koch isn't a frequent caller who gets special treatment and is recognized by his caller ID and his voice and manner of speaking.

Doesn't this prank call prove that Scott Walker is not close to Koch? He doesn't recognize his voice! He doesn't drift into a more personal style of speech. He treats him like a generic political supporter.

(Here's Monday's NYT article floating the theory that Walker is too close to the Koch brothers. In my frequent forays to the protest at the Capitol, I've seen many signs depicting Walker as a creation or puppet of the Koch brothers.)

"Could beetles, dragonfly larvae and water bug caviar be the meat of the future?"

"As the global population booms and demand strains the world's supply of meat, there's a growing need for alternate animal proteins. Insects are high in protein, B vitamins and minerals like iron and zinc, and they're low in fat. Insects are easier to raise than livestock, and they produce less waste. Insects are abundant. Of all the known animal species, 80% walk on six legs; over 1,000 edible species have been identified. And the taste? It's often described as 'nutty.'"

Nutty, indeed!

One thing about insects for food — beyond the benefits cited in the article — is you don't have to bone them. Instead of bones, they have an exoskeleton, and you know how we humans love crunchy outer shells on our food.
Insect outer skeleton, the cuticle, is made up of two layers: the epicuticle, which is a thin and waxy water resistant outer layer and contains no chitin, and a lower layer called the procuticle. The procuticle is chitinous and much thicker than the epicuticle and has two layers: an outer layer known as the exocuticle and an inner layer known as the endocuticle. The tough and flexible endocuticle is built from numerous layers of fibrous chitin and proteins, criss-crossing each others in a sandwich pattern....
Sandwich! Mmmm.... sandwich....

"Where is the outcry from PETA?"

Asks a commenter at the Isthmus post about the camel the "Daily Show" brought to the protest.

Where's the outcry? Probably hanging out with the outcry from the Freedom From Religion Foundation over the Reverend Jesse Jackson leading a prayer (with the crowd of protesters in the Wisconsin Capitol rotunda):

(By the way, Jackson's prayer does not violate the Establishment Clause, and in fact, he has a free speech right to do what you see in that video. That is my official professorial opinion.)

"The Daily Show" brings a live camel to icy downtown Madison to do a comedy skit, and it gets entangled in a metal fence and falls down horribly.

This is difficult to watch...

Background and more video here. The show's comic actor John Oliver was on the scene. Obviously, the idea was to play on the comparison between Egypt and Wisconsin, which has been pushed by the local protesters.

Truly nauseating. The linked piece in the Isthmus says it "ends happily" because the animal is eventually able to stand up again. Ithmus is a newspaper of sorts. Let's see if — instead of smiling on camera and calling it a happy ending — the reporter finds out where the TV crew got the camel, who thought it was acceptable to bring a camel out in the ice and snow, who decided to put a collapsible metal fence around the animal, what training the handlers had, why the owners of the camel entrusted its welfare to these people, and what ultimately happened to the animal?

I kind of hate driving traffic to the Isthmus (and to the same reporter who wrote an article trashing me as an egotist because I declined to give him an interview), because it seems to be treating this as a kooky, quirky YouTube moment. It's not. It's animal cruelty.

I'd like an investigation. Should someone be prosecuted?

ADDED: The reporter, Jack Craver, apparently obliges John Oliver who tells him to shut off the camera. The animal struggles for 10 minutes, we hear in the final video, but there's no video of most of that — it seems because Craver bowed to the authority of a comedian. Craver refers to Oliver as a "correspondent." Hello? He's an actor.

In that final video, Craver turns the camera on himself right after the animal finally struggles to its legs. I realize he's happy that the animal has managed to stand up, but I find it hard to believe that is a face of a human being that just watched an animal suffer for 10 minutes.

You know, the world is real. And "The Daily Show" is fake.

IN THE COMMENTS: Jack Craver stops in and I respond:
Craver writes: "I did not oblige John Oliver's request to turn the camera off. As the video shows, I kept the camera on and shot two more videos."

You say, in the final video, that there were 10 minutes of the camel on the ground, but you do not show 10 minutes. The video with Oliver ends a few seconds after he asks you to stop, and the next video begins at some later point.

And I don't assert what I don't know. I say "apparently" and "it seems." If you have the full 10 minutes of the suffering camel on the ground. Please post it. Or send it to me and I will post it. And please tell me why your face looked so fresh after looking at that 10 minutes of torture. And why you wrote a cutesy post about it as if you were pleased that you got to see a celebrity and scoop some video.

"It's news to me that my article that you gave a generally positive review last year, and that your husband gave 'a solid A-" was meant to trash you.'"

Well, you need to think a lot harder about a lot of things. You are quite unsophisticated, and I don't particularly enjoy embarrassing you because you are or were a UW student and I am a teacher. See if you can figure out why we addressed your article like that. See? I'm a teacher. I'm trying to teach you to think better. I'm sure you know you were trying to trash me and I am sure your colleagues at the Isthmus knew that and I'm sure the folks around the law school saw it that way. Now, be a man and admit that, and then go back and think through why Meade and I patronized you the way we did.

Voir Google.

Voir dire — the juror selection process — is transformed by Google.
While interviews suggest that Internet vetting of jurors is catching on in courtrooms across the nation, lawyers are skittish about discussing the practice, in part because court rules on the subject are murky or nonexistent in most jurisdictions. Ten law firms and five jury consultants declined requests from Reuters Legal to observe them building juror profiles, many saying they weren't sure judges would approve. "Lawyers don't know the rules yet," said John Nadolenco, a partner at Mayer Brown in Los Angeles. "It's like the Wild West."
Is this wrong? An invasion of the juror's privacy? It's so easy to do that it seems to me that making a rule against it is unfair to honest lawyers. (Cue the typical jokes.) I'd say get used to it. This is the world we live in. The information that's out there is out there. Deal with it.

IN THE COMMENTS: bagoh20 says:
I hope it catches on. I'll never have to sit on a jury again. 
Pogo says:
Fake posts implicating jurors and cops and witnesses will escalate.
Paddy O says:
I used do tweet to amuse me, now I'm hoping it'll excuse me.
If twits do tweet, then raps aren't beat.

Jesse Jackson & Tammy Baldwin hold court in the Wisconsin Capitol.

Meade got the video today, and even gets in a question. I did the editing.

February 22, 2011

"So here’s what over 20 years of law teaching does to a man."

Oh, no!

"Judge Gladys Kessler of Federal District Court for the District of Columbia became the third appointee of President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, to reject a constitutional challenge to the Affordable Care Act."

"Two other federal district judges, both appointed by Republican presidents, have struck down the law’s keystone provision, which requires most Americans to obtain health insurance starting in 2014."

It's starting to look like a pattern.

Mayor Rahm.

Good luck!

Governor Walker's Fireside Chat.

This was on the radio just now. I thought Walker did an excellent job of articulating his side of the controversy.

Come to "University of Wisconsin Law School 'Teach-in' on the legal and political issues raised by the Governor’s Budget Repair Bill."

All are welcome. Wednesday, February 23, 2011. 6-8 pm, Room 2260 at the UW Law School:
This academic forum seeks to provide insights into the dramatic developments that have followed the introduction of the Governor’s Budget Repair Bill from an historical, legal and political perspective. All are welcome.

Professor Carin Clauss, Law School
Professor Donald Downs, Political Science
Professor Will Jones, History
Professor Andrew Coan, Law School
Professor David Cannon, Political Science
Professor Neill DeClercq, School for Workers, UW Extension

Professor Heinz Klug, UW Law School
It's called a "teach-in" in the email that was sent around but a "forum" at the law school website.

At the Wisconsin Capitol today.

Photos by Meade (who also took a long video of the Tammy Baldwin/Jesse Jackson procession).




The taped-on message there is: "If you voted for Walker, then you voted for Nazism."

"It's quite striking the way almost every lie the left ever told about the Tea Party has turned out to be true of the government unionists in Wisconsin and their supporters."

James Taranto explains it all.

"[H]ow do we make sure law schools can teach people to think like lawyers when our hiring criteria increasingly privilege people who do interdisciplinary and empirical rather than traditional legal scholarship?"

Asks lawprof Stephen Bainbridge (via Instapundit):
When we hire people with mediocre law credentials just because they're good at running regressions or have a PhD? Or when the PhDs we hire went the law route either because law schools pay more or because they didn't have the chops to get a top job in their home discipline. Or when the PhDs we hire went the law route either because law schools pay more or because they didn't have the chops to get a top job in their home discipline.

If we were still trying to hire folks because they were EIC of a top law review, head of their law school class, had a good clerkship, and some experience in a top law firm doing real law, I'd be more confident of our ability to teach people to think like lawyers instead of teaching them to think like mediocre statisticians, sociologists, philosophers, economists, or what have you.
A question that hits hard here in Wisconsin.... where, incidentally, we're involved in a big dean search and — check it out — that salary is excellent. And you may have heard about the pension and health insurance benefits we've got here....

But wouldn't it be funny to test the dean candidate with Bainbridge's question?

"Am I the only one that looked at this and thought 'Oh my God, David Spade is having a stroke?'"


"Who'll get in more trouble -- the guy who wasn't spreading salt, for his egregious waste of the city's time and gas, or the guy who was spreading salt, for double-salting and dangerous multitasking?"

Roy Edroso asks some good questions. I have one for him: What would he say if he were looking at 8 minutes of raw footage showing 2 large municipal vehicles cruising around the square blaring horns in apparent support of a big Tea Party rally?

"About 300 students, staff and parents returned to East High School on Monday marching side-by-side with civil rights activist Jesse Jackson..."

"... who later urged them stay in school, vote and support their teachers."
"I can't think of a better way to come back home to school than to walk with the students and Jesse Jackson," said Sarah Motl, a social studies teacher at East.
ADDED: I think the best way to come back to school is to be there in the normal place at the normal time and to launch into the assigned material in the normal way — with a bit more briskness and good cheer than usual. Don't say a thing about politics. Give the students exactly what it is your duty to give them: a great education designed to serve their needs and interests, not yours. And don't delude yourself or try to bullshit anyone else with manufactured, self-serving theories about how the sickout and protest presents a wonderful "teaching moment" that ought to take up class time.

What can/should the Wisconsin GOP legislators do while the Democrats are off hiding in Chicago?

The NYT reports:
Starting Tuesday, those [Democratic] senators, who are in Illinois, will have to watch from afar as Republicans continue the work of governing without them, taking up matters from the mundane to the controversial.
“By not being here, they’re basically deciding to let things go through the body unchecked,” said Scott Fitzgerald, the Senate majority leader. “They’re not here to represent their constituents. We’re here to work.”...

In Wisconsin, the issues scheduled for consideration in the Senate on Tuesday were routine: an appointment by the governor, tax breaks for dairy farmers and a resolution commending the Green Bay Packers for their Super Bowl victory. But Mr. Fitzgerald said more significant legislation could also be in play, including a bill requiring voter identification that Democrats strongly oppose.

Gov. Scott Walker, in comments delivered against the din of the raucous protesters gathered outside his office, praised the Senate Republicans for the move, which he said he hoped would entice the Democrats home. “It’s time for them to come back and participate in democracy,” Mr. Walker said.
You know, it really was rather smart of the Republicans to let the protest/exile peter out over time. The teachers couldn't keep canceling school, and the group at the Capitol will, more and more, be UW students/TAs and old Madison lefties with more radical slogans. The legislators-in-hiding look more and more ineffectual and more and more Chicago. I don't think these developments are increasing political support around the state.

Meanwhile, Walker and his GOP cohort are waiting patiently — it only takes a few days — to get going working on the state's problems.
“They can vote on anything that is nonfiscal,” said Senator Jon Erpenbach, a Democrat, from his hotel across state lines. 
(There's a Senate rule that requires a larger quorum for fiscal matters. The Republicans need one Democratic senator to return to give them that quorum.)
“They can take up their agenda; they can do whatever they choose to do.”

Mr. Erpenbach said that his caucus was determined not to return until the restrictions to collective bargaining were off the table. But he worried aloud about what legislation could emerge in the meantime.
What legislation should the Republicans put on the agenda? They have the votes to pass things with or without the Democrats, so the question might be: What do they want to do that will be especially convenient to do without Democrats around to pester them? Or: What are the things that, if done without the Democrats' participation, will most hurt the Democrats politically? Or: What issue will prompt at least one Democrat to return, thus enabling them to get to the fiscal matters?

UPDATE: Concealed carry, voter ID, race-blind admissions in the University of Wisconsin system...

"Keep your eyes open for the Ann Althouse cameo appearance at 1:20."


(You can have that hat if you like it. It's a classic man's fedora.)

A professor is forced to resign after making a racist remark: Is he more likely right-wing or left-wing?

"A political science professor at Murray State University has resigned after telling an African American student that she didn't show up early to class because slaves were always late."

I see that the first commenter there says: "Another asshole, undoubtedly a Republican/TeaPartier."

My guess is exactly the opposite. What would possess a professor to say something like that? From my long experience with  professors, I think it is the left-wing professors who: 1. Feel confident in their own goodness on racial issues, 2. Analyze events in terms of race, 3. Think up "critical theory"-type explanations that explore ideas about racial difference, 4. Imagine that it's clever to express these ideas out loud, and 5. Are capable of making the mistake of thinking that the students will know that they are good people who do racial critique that is supposed to be understood as an attack on white people.

A "Republican/TeaPartier" is much more likely to be strongly committed to color-blindness. Ironically, that's something that, in academic circles, can quite easily get you called a racist. (Try asking a lefty lawprof about Chief Justice Roberts's statement that "The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.")

Anyway, the professor in this incident is named Mark Wattier. The school is Murray State University. I haven't checked into what his actual political propensities are or what he really had in mind when he said whatever he said that is being reported the way you see it in the linked article. My motivation to write this post was the commenter's reflexive assumption that Wattier displayed right-wing ideology. That is absurd.


I noticed that story because John McWhorter and Glenn Loury are talking about it on Bloggingheads. Their discussion centers on whether the student is "lowering" herself by requesting an apology.

February 21, 2011

Live stream of the protest in the Wisconsin Capital rotunda.

There's drumming and singing at 9:45 p.m.

I receive a threat: "whoever video taped this has no life and needs to be shot in the head."

That's a comment on my YouTube video about the salt trucks that circled the Wisconsin Capitol yesterday, blowing horns, apparently in support of the protesters. (I blogged the video here.)

Coincidentally, last night, one of my readers sent this email to the Madison Street Superintendent:
I work in Madison, so I was delighted to read on madison.com this morning that the snow plows were out "the moment" precipitation began today.

You might want to double check whether those plows were pouring salt, however, or whether the drivers were more interested in showing their support for anti-Walker ralliers:

The Street Superintendent responded:

Madison schools will open again on Tuesday — and Jesse Jackson will be there at East High School.

Just before classes start at East High School, Jackson plans to march from the corner of First Street and East Mifflin Street to the East parking lot for a rally....

"We could have done a big rally in the gym, but we've got to get kids in the classroom," [principal Mary Kelley said]....

But district policy says teachers can't use their positions to "promote candidates or parties or activities," including protests. [Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad] said principals will determine to what degree teachers will be allowed to discuss the matter in the classroom.
How about following the policy? Seriously. I don't get it. You have a policy. Do the rules apply or don't they? You'd better set the example you expect the kids to follow. You don't accept their explanations for why the rules don't apply to them.
Peggy Coyne, a Black Hawk Middle School reading specialist and president-elect of Madison Teachers Inc., said she plans to ask students to write journal entries Tuesday about what they did while classes were canceled the last four days.
Coyne said teachers might also incorporate recent events into lessons about Wisconsin labor history. Some elementary school teachers have been told not to discuss the political events with younger children, she added.
Ridiculous! Outrageous... and kind of intimidating. What grade does a kid get if he says he demonstrated in favor of Scott Walker? Or if he says he stayed home and played video games? If this isn't deliberate spying on the students and their families it will still feel like it to many students.
"If (teachers are) going to be speaking about the rally and the protest, it really needs to be a planned lesson and it really needs to look at both sides," [Don Johnson, superintendent of the Middleton-Cross Plains School District, said].
Look, the teachers should leave the children out of their political struggle. They've already deprived them of nearly a week of the teaching they signed on to deliver. The students should receive, immediately, substantive educational lessons of the completely normal kind. Leave the politics, indoctrination, ideology, and political discipline out of the classroom. Children are required to attend school. The teachers who hold these young bodies and minds captive owe them pure, rich education. It's a disgusting violation of trust to do anything else.

I can't believe people who are fighting to preserve their job benefits would even think to appropriate the children this way. It's mind boggling.

ADDED: Link fixed.

Yes, there will be an investigation of the excuse-writing doctors, but no, they will not be found to have violated medical ethics.

Instapundit links to Gateway Pundit who links to this press release from UW Health:
These charges are very serious and in response, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and University of Wisconsin Medical Foundation, the UW Health entities that employ the physicians, have immediately launched an investigation of the reported behavior.
It's good politics and good public relations to take this seriously, of course, but I think the outcome is predictable.
The investigation will identify which UW Health physicians were involved and whether their behavior constituted violations of medical ethics or University of Wisconsin and UW Health policies and work rules....
I don't know the details of the rules or medical ethics, nor do I have any inside information about the way my university handles such things. But I know how the doctors defended themselves when I confronted them, and I think their explanation will be accepted.

They said they were really "seeing" the individuals who asked for notes, and they individually listened to their "patients" reports about what their symptoms were. I had a longer conversation with a second doctor and, like the one I interview on camera, he had his approach to ethics down pat: Doctors providing notes for employees accept their patients' statements about what their symptoms are all the time, and the people they spoke to on the street really did mention symptoms, such as headache, diarrhea, insomnia, and — notably — stress (including stress from the budget plan and the protests). This puts this within the range of something doctors routinely do.

I'm not saying that's the right resolution, but I predict that will be the result of the investigation, perhaps with a public-appeasing, forward-looking statement that doctors ought to avoid the appearance of impropriety by refraining from this activity in the future.

Am I right?
Yes, and it will be outrageous.
Yes, and it is the right resolution of the kerfuffle.
No, these doctors are going to get in more trouble, and it's a good thing too.
No, they'll get in more trouble, and I think it's a shame.

pollcode.com free polls

Today's protest at the Wisconsin Capitol.

What it was like inside at the protest today at about 2 p.m.:

Meade took that. The crowd was a bit thinner. Lots of drumming. A rendition of "Rally 'Round the Flag."

ADDED: I'm sorry, I had the wrong video before. Fixed. Here's the scene outside today, also by Meade:

At the Wisconsin Teahouse...


... go ahead — try to talk about whatever you want.

Gallup: "Americans Say Reagan Is the Greatest U.S. President."

Lincoln comes in second. Third? Bill Clinton!

Obama is 7th, with 5%.

There's a partisan quality to the numbers. If you look at Republicans, it's Reagan, Washington, Lincoln. Democrats' top 3 is: Clinton, Kennedy, Obama. (FDR and Lincoln tie for 4th.) Independents put Lincoln first (and then Reagan, then Clinton). Actually, I think the main thing going on here is people are being asked to come up with the name of a President, and they don't have that many names floating around in their heads. It's always safe to say "Lincoln." Beyond that, they're rooting around in the decades they remember personally.

AND: Set your DVR. It's the big Chris Matthews special, "President of the World: The Bill Clinton Phenomenon": "Bill Clinton's position in the world continues to grow. He's part dignitary, part humanitarian, part politician, part international statesman, and somehow, greater than them all..." Sounds like the old Matthewsian leg is all a-tingle.

"Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi is believed to have fled the capital Tripoli after anti-government demonstrators breached the state television building and set government property alight."

"It is thought up to 400 people may have died..."

"48% Back GOP Governor in Wisconsin Spat, 38% Side With Unions."

Ah! A poll! At last!

MORE: Rasmussen surveyed likely voters across the country — I'd like to see an all-Wisconsin poll — and found "strong partisan disagreement on both questions and a wide gap between the Political Class and Mainstream voters."

Highlights of the last 8 days of following the Wisconsin protests here on the Althouse blog.

The light, low-key demonstration on February 13th: "It was a beautiful, unseasonably warm Sunday, and our new governor has just dropped a shocking union-busting proposal that our newly Republican legislature is likely to step up and pass. This is the push-back from the unions?"

February 16, when the Madison schools first closed for the protest: "Okay, now, everybody go to the demonstration! The kids won't have school, but you can learn a lot of things outside of school. Some of these things are even taught by the teachers who are not there. For example, it's okay to call in sick when you're not actually sick, but you just have something that you think is really important."

A lady lets Meade know — via face — that he's an idiot not to understand the comparison between Scott Walker and Hitler.

Another lady holds up a Scott-Walker-is-Hitler sign and tells me fascism is coming to America.

On February 18th, I wonder what's really happening: "Why wouldn't the Republicans embrace a strategy hostile to the public employees? Why wouldn't they drive a wedge between the public employees and all the other citizens in the state?"

I talk to a man who likens Walker to Stalin and a young woman who likens Walker to the Wicked Witch of the West.

I don't like Jesse Jackson grandstanding here.

I'm wary of the Tea Party rally if it insufficiently Wisconsin.

I encounter the doctors who are handing out sick-day excuses to protesters.

Video: faces in the Tea Party crowd (with audio of Breitbart speaking).

I confront a woman with a "Please don't teabag our children" sign.

The Judas/Brett Favre/Scott Walker thing.

The nefarious honking salt trucks.

I'm irked at the lack of journalistic vigor from the New York Times.

The organized effort to keep the Wisconsin Capitol building and grounds clean.

"Members of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Teaching Assistants' Association have been inhabiting the Capitol, working with other groups around the clock to keep the rally clean, peaceful, and democratic."

They've been successful. The place really is clean, even with people sleeping there overnight.

A lot of the organization is on the TAA level. Here's a post on the TAA blog about "Teach-out Tuesday":
Membership of the Teaching Assistants’ Association voted today [Feb. 20, 2011] to call for another “teach-out” on Tuesday, to protest the reconvening of the State Assembly and Governor Scott Walker’s planned statement about his budget....

We are calling for a teach-out rather than a walk-out because we do not want learning to cease at the UW. We value education and thus we are calling for instructors to use their discretion to cancel classes, reschedule them or hold them off campus. We are calling on action from teaching assistants, research assistants, project assistants and professors.

"Medical school ethics courses are...increasingly emphasizing 'social justice' over traditional notions of ethics — or the individual patient’s welfare."

"But 'social justice' is frequently just a euphemism for a socialist political agenda of leftist politics, redistribution of wealth, and heavy state controls over the marketplace."

Says Paul Hsieh (via Instapundit) in the context of explaining those Wisconsin doctors writing excuses for protesters — and tweaking our anxieties about Obamacare.
The Wisconsin protests have shown how some doctors are seemingly willing to subvert their professional integrity to serve the political ends of government special interest groups. Under ObamaCare, when similarly trained doctors have to choose between practicing in their patient’s medical interests or in the political interests of their government paymasters, which side will they choose? And will you want this new breed of doctor taking care of you when you’re sick?
Interesting questions, but to be fair, the doctors handing out the notes were helping individuals, not burdening the individuals for the sake of the greater good. Hsieh links to me and says:
University of Wisconsin law professor Ann Althouse spoke with one of these doctors who was completely unapologetic for his actions, saying that it was “not dishonest” but rather “an ok thing to do” because it was in the interest of “social activism.”
To be extra accurate: I ask the man if what he's doing is "dishonest," and he says, "It's not dishonest. It might be a little social, oh, gosh, what do you call it?" I say "Activism?" He seems about to say one thing, the stops himself and says "It's an okay thing to do" then goes on to talk about how teachers matter a lot to him. He notes that he is genuinely "seeing" the patients (on the street corner) and they do have their symptoms. It's not the most explicit embrace and promotion of social activism. Indeed, he may very well be motivated by nothing more than a desire to help the nice teachers so they won't get in trouble at their jobs.

That said, I'm concerned about the general trend of medical ethics in the form of "social justice" ideology, if that's really what is going on. Is it?

Can I get my news about Wisconsin from the New York Times?

The newspaper I'd like to rely on is leading 2 main stories about Wisconsin on its website this morning: 1. "Wisconsin Puts Obama Between Competing Desire," and 2. "Protesters in Wisconsin Say They Are Staying Put."

As for #1... yes, as usual, it's all about Obama. What does it mean for Obama? And his "competing desires"? Good, lord, it sounds like jacket copy for a romance novel.
The battle in Wisconsin over public employee unions has left President Obama facing a tricky balance between showing solidarity with longtime political supporters and projecting a message in favor of deep spending cuts to reduce the debt.
What's the best way for Obama to look best? The eternal question. Is there no real Obama? Possibly not!
“This is a Wisconsin story, not a Washington one,” said Dan Pfeiffer, the White House communications director. “False claims of White House involvement are attempts to distract from the organic grass-roots opposition that is happening in Wisconsin.”
If it's a Wisconsin story, why did Obama horn in on it? He horned in and then backed out. It's this back and forth, trying to get into the right pose to look good later on. It's so difficult for him! (As for "organic grass-roots." Organic! You just know, the Tea Party was commercially grown.) I'd like to know what's really going on! Can't the NYT ferret out some real information about the behind-the-scenes national-level politics reaching into Wisconsin instead of passing along propaganda from Dan Pfeiffer?

Now, if we can tear ourselves away from always-scintillating trials and tribulations of Barack Obama, let's look at the second article...
Union leaders urged Wisconsin teachers to return to work at schools that are open on Monday...
But the Madison schools are closed, and there was a big union vote yesterday about that, as I blogged last night. "Nearly 3,000 Madison teachers, staff and family gathered at Monona Terrace," and the press was kicked out. The NYT doesn't mention that — let alone try to find out what went on.
As the protests went on through falling sleet and snow...
But hardly anyone was out in the bad weather, as my video, taken yesterday afternoon shows. The continuing protest was indoors, in our posh Capitol building.

As for that indoor crowd, are they Wisconsin school teachers, or are they UW students and teaching assistants? Is it still about the Scott Walker budget, or has it skewed into more generic left-wing causes? Here's the video I took inside yesterday afternoon, and those are the questions that occurred to me.

Why doesn't the NYT dig out some information? Who's involved in the organizing? How are they using Facebook and Twitter to maintain the presence in the Capitol? Who's sleeping there overnight? I photographed a sign on a pillar in the Capitol rotunda that says "talk to the TAA about how we can work together." Does the NYT know or care what the TAA even is let alone its role in organizing the protest?
Democrats in the State Senate, meanwhile, who are in the minority but are needed for a quorum, said Sunday that they intended to remain out of state — and far from the voting chamber — until Republican leaders agree to remove broad collective bargaining restrictions from the proposal to increase workers’ health care and pension costs.

“This is not a stunt, it’s not a prank,” said Senator Jon Erpenbach, one of the Democrats who drove away from Madison early Thursday, hours before a planned vote, and would say only that he was in Chicago. “This is not an option I can ever see us doing again, but in this case, it’s absolutely the right thing to do. What they want to do is not the will of the people.”
Instead of passing along a cheerleader quote from Erpenbach, how about making him tell us who's paying to house the 14 Democratic Senators in Chicago? And I want some investigation into how the protest is playing with voters around the state. Are the protests stirring up support among Wisconsinites or pissing people off? Are people outraged by the teachers taking sickout days? Are working parents struggling to find alternate childcare or leaving kids alone? Do people accept the flexible ethics of doctors giving excuse notes to protesters who called in sick and legislators who don't show up for their jobs? Are people inclined to pursue remedies like impeachment or recall? What would it take to get  actual public opinion polls?

The weather here is a dreary winter mix, and the reporting drizzling in from New York only adds to slushy mush.

Monday morning inspiration...

Consider the honey badger...

(Language warning.)

February 20, 2011

Madison schools will close again on Monday — the 4th school day in a row — to accommodate teachers protesting at the Capitol.

"Nearly 3,000 Madison teachers, staff and family gathered at Monona Terrace... At one point, the [union] membership was so evenly divided on a vote to return to work Monday, they were asked to exit the meeting room and re-enter through two separate doors so an exact count could be taken. The vote was 741-731 to return Monday, but a later, more overwhelming vote to return Tuesday won the day."

The protest crowd is pretty thin today, outdoors in the cold rain.

Around the Capitol Square at about 2 this afternoon. I narrate, reading signs and so forth, from the comfort of the backseat of our car:

The video ends with a decision to run inside to see what was happening, and that's blogged here.

"Hold the space! We need more people sleeping the night."

A sign in the rotunda of the Wisconsin Capitol building...


... where anti-Scott Walker protests continue. (Enlarge.)

I talked to one of the security guards, who said that people were sleeping in the Capitol overnight. The doors are locked at a particular time, but people are not cleared out of the building.

How it looked in the Capitol rotunda at 2 p.m. on Sunday as the anti-Scott Walker protests continue.


Note the banner: "Stewart/Colbert/We came to your rally/NOW come to OURS!"

Madison city salt trucks circle Capitol Square blowing horns in apparent solidarity with protesters.

This is raw footage that I took from our car today, February 20, 2011. The protest against Scott Walker's budget plan continues inside the Capitol, but the crowd outside in the cold rain is thin. Two city salt trucks circle the block at least twice, with horns blaring. Only one is visibly spreading salt. The protesters wave and hold up fists, indicating that it is their interpretation that the city workers are sounding support for the protests. Obviously, we taxpayers pay for the salt trucks and the employees who drive them and we expect those trucks to be used to make the streets all over town safe, not to circle the Capitol Square for other purposes.

If you appreciate all these pictures from the rally...

... I've got more good stuff from today coming up soon. And how about buying something for yourself through my Amazon portal.

I'm buying more memory for the Panasonic camera I've been using, a back-up smaller Sony camera, and a newer model Flip camera than the one I've been using. All those links will work for you to buy things.

I've gone down to the demonstration on 7 different days now. I have 7 fair shares of abuse. I've been maxing out my cameras and I'm buying more equipment. All for you dear readers!

Saturday night's all right for protesting...


... get a little activism in.

Enlarge to read more of the signs. Do you see the "Big Lebowski" reference? "Do you see what happens, Larry?" is a reference to — click for harsh language...

It's a violent reference. NSFW language after the jump:

"Ask me for a flower, and I will show you a Light."


At yesterday's protest, some people did their own thing. Here's a friendly gentleman in a "PEACE" hat, with a framed picture of John Lennon, a scattering of sayings, a small "Recall Gov. Scott Walker" sticker, and a lot of postage stamps. The stamps, he told me, were his contribution to the government.

Also in the photograph:

Right side: The man-in-tights blogged here.

Top left: Corrugated cardboard signs, readable in the super-enlargement. Why do people do signs on sorry-ass broken-open cardboard boxes?

Top right: The lined-up police who were keeping the pro- and anti-Scott Walker people apart. I suspected that there was an official police policy to keep the Tea Party crowd from getting big. We were forced to enter the Tea Party group at corner of the block and blocked from walking across the lawn. I expressed my theory to a woman standing next to me, and she said: What do you expect? Whose side do you think the police are on? Meaning: They're all public service employees too.

I said that I wanted to get over to the Tea Party group and complained about the difficulty of getting through the crowd to the entrance point at the corner. Her attitude toward me suddenly changed. She snapped: "You're a Republican?" Pussy that I am, I said: "I just want to get into the Tea Party group." Actually, I'm not a Republican, but I backed away from the challenge so reflexively — a habit of 25 years in Madison — that my conscious rational processes never crystallized into the lucidity that would have produced a simple "no." 

"I would've come yesterday but I had to work."

A sign at the Tea Party side of yesterday's demonstrations:


Other signs on display in this picture: "Scott Walker for President! Balance the Federal Deficit too! Stick with Walker and we're behind you!" and "PASS THE BILL" and "What DO you do when you're out of other people's..." (presumably: "money").

I can't guarantee that everyone in this picture is on the pro-Scott Walker side. I mean, I've been walking around everywhere, lending my body to the mass of humanity that reads as support from whatever the surrounding signs say. You tell me: Do you think the shaved-headed young man in the sunglasses and North Face jacket is a Tea Partier? If not, why not?

Find a place inside to laugh...


... separate the wheat from the chaff...

What we wore to the demonstrations.

I love this sign — "Today is about peace and and DEMOCRACY" — and attitude.


And don't you love her outfit? Taking this shot, I felt like the Wisconsin Sartorialist. As long as I'm doing vertical, fashion-oriented photos, let me add this one, from the Tea party side of yesterday's demonstrations:


Protest baby.


It takes an education to value an education/It takes losing an election to devalue election results.


That might look like Russ Feingold is thumbing his nose at Scott Walker, but enlarge and see that it's just gesturing. Teacherly gesturing. The sign says: "Russ teaches at Marquette/Scotty dropped out/It takes an education to value an education." Let's rewrite that: Russ was voted out of office/Scotty was voted in/It takes losing an electoral loss to devalue election results.

"Walker — can I 'modestly' kick you in the nuts."


A sign at yesterday's protest.

Why, oh, why did the "green" roof collapse? You'd think it would have been "sustainable."

Isn't nature sympathetic to our efforts to be good people?
A 700-by-50 foot section of a roof over a parking area buckled on Feb. 13 at a garden pond construction and supply company in St. Charles, Ill., west of Chicago. No one was injured in the collapse, which occurred on a Sunday afternoon when few people were working at the company, Aquascape Inc.

Nearly a week later, investigators were still waiting to try to determine why the roof collapsed,  said Ed Beaulieu, a company vice president...

“The collapse happened right at the beginning of the thaw,” he said, leading to speculation that ice on the roof might have prevented meltwater from draining off. “But right now no one really knows.”
If you don't know the answer to a question like that, you shouldn't be putting tons of water absorbing dirt on top of a gigantic roof.