April 2, 2011

On the Ice Age Trail.



Today, near Lodi, Wisconsin.

"TV Ad Spending By Special Interest Groups Tops $1 Million in Wisconsin Judicial Election."

According to the Brennan Center, as of March 29th. This means that only 18% of the spending has come from the candidates.
Through Sunday, March 27th, three special interest groups had spent more than $1.14 million on TV... Leading the pack is the liberal Greater Wisconsin Committee, which, beginning March 18th, has spent more than $575,000 on blistering attack ads targeting Justice Prosser.... [T]he conservative groups Wisconsin Club for Growth and Wisconsin Manufacturer & Commerce’s WMC Issues Mobilization Council, Inc. have also poured money into the race on pro-Prosser TV ads. Through Sunday, March 27th, the Club for Growth had spent approximately $415,000, and the WMC Issues Mobilization Council about $150,000. These numbers are expected to rise substantially in the final week before Election Day: According to the Brennan Center, 42 percent of all judicial election TV spending in 2010 occurred in the last week of the election season.
Consider that in this race, the candidates both opted into a public financing scheme that capped them each at $300,000.

UPDATE: The Brennan Center's numbers as of March 31st show 4 special interest groups spending more than $2.16 million. Greater Wisconsin Committee has now spent more than $993,000 on TV ads for Kloppenburg. Three groups supporting Prosser have spent more than $1.16 million.

"KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Violent protests over the burning of a Koran in Florida..."

"... flared for a second straight day, with young men rampaging through the streets of this southern capital, flying Taliban flags and wielding sticks. Nine people were killed and 81 injured in the disturbances... [S]everal thousand young men, shouting slogans calling for death to Americans and to the Karzai government, were still rioting after several hours on Saturday, setting tires aflame throughout the city, burning cars and attacking journalists trying to cover the disorder...."

The NYT reports.

"My students are out of control... They are rude, disengaged, lazy whiners."

"They curse, discuss drugs, talk back, argue for grades, complain about everything, fancy themselves entitled to whatever they desire, and are just generally annoying."

I dug up that longer version of what a teacher wrote on her Facebook page after reading about it in this story about another teacher who wrote, in Facebook, about her first graders as future criminals and said she felt like "a warden." Both teachers were suspended. Also:
And Chicago Public Schools officials are investigating a teacher who apparently posted a photo on her Facebook page of a student who wore Jolly Rancher candies in her hair. The 7-year-old girl's mother complained to school officials after she saw negative comments written about her daughter's picture on the page.
There's a big difference between writing in general about the discipline problems in your school and posting a photograph of an individual child. I don't think schools should cover up for their own discipline problems by attacking the livelihood of a teacher who dares to describe them in public.

"He's also a wild man. A radical socialist. A flamethrower. Worse, he is a longtime community activist."

"He could be our next President!"

April 1, 2011

Andrew Sullivan: "King Barack I."

Oh! The disillusionment!
Many of us supported this president because he promised to bring back the constitutional balance after the theories of Yoo, Delahunty, et al put the president on a par with emperors and kings in wartime. And yet in this Libya move, what difference is there between Bush and Obama? In some ways, Bush was more respectful of the Congress, waiting for a vote of support before launching us like an angry bird into the desert.

2 new anti-Prosser/pro-Kloppenburg ads... presented for discussion purposes here.

In these last few days before the April 5th Wisconsin Supreme Court election, third party ads dominate. Here are 2 that were put up on YouTube today by a group called GreaterWisComm. I got to the first one via Dave Weigel, who doesn't express any opinion other than that the ad uses video of "Prosser looking like Al Pacino in Dog Day Afternoon." The ad exploits the incident, which we talked about here, in which Prosser, in private, called Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson a "bitch." The video looks like it comes from long ago when Prosser was a state legislature.

It's up to the viewer to figure out what the context of that is, but obviously, it plants doubts and stirs up emotions.

The next one I discovered after clicking through to the YouTube user's page. It's quite long and begins with cheerful music and happy images of the recent protests here in Madison. Purported misdeeds of the Republicans are cited, Prosser is linked to the Republicans, and his opponent JoAnne Kloppenburg is presented as a political solution:

Again, it's a confusing ad. It does a good job of putting a happy face on the protests. Where's the corresponding ad that makes the protests look nightmarish and portrays the protesters as intent on overturning the results of the last election by installing Kloppenburg on the court?

Ads like this are deplorable, but they probably work, and with third parties putting them up, the candidate has deniability.

A million nights in Vegas?

A screen-grab from yesterday's CNN.com has us distracted by the number 319:

UW Chancellor Biddy Martin's message about professors' "zone of privacy" in email communication.

This is the general policy, stated on the occasion of the Wisconsin Republican Party's effort to delve into Prof. William Cronon's email related to the recent protests:
We are excluding exchanges that fall outside the realm of the faculty member's job responsibilities and that could be considered personal pursuant to Wisconsin Supreme Court case law. We are also excluding what we consider to be the private email exchanges among scholars that fall within the orbit of academic freedom and all that is entailed by it....

Scholars and scientists pursue knowledge by way of open intellectual exchange. Without a zone of privacy within which to conduct and protect their work, scholars would not be able to produce new knowledge or make life-enhancing discoveries....

When faculty members use email or any other medium to develop and share their thoughts with one another, they must be able to assume a right to the privacy of those exchanges, barring violations of state law or university policy....

This does not mean that scholars can be irresponsible in the use of state and university resources or the exercise of academic freedom. We have dutifully reviewed Professor Cronon's records for any legal or policy violations, such as improper uses of state or university resources for partisan political activity. There are none.

"Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi on Friday denied a Department of Justice lawyer's effort to halt Friday's hearing..."

"Assistant Attorney General Maria Lazar told Sumi the hearing should be delayed because the accused lawmakers are immune from civil process; because the court lacks authority to interfere with legislation before it is published and takes effect; because absent lawmakers are being denied their due-process rights; and because the Legislature is a separate branch of government...."

U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights is investigating Yale "for its failure to eliminate a hostile sexual environment."

Apparently, the problem is male students:
One ... incident took pace in October last year when a group of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity pledges were surrounded by brothers from the same fraternity who chanted: 'No means yes! Yes means anal' at them in an area where most female freshman live.

In another incident, in September 2009, the so-called 'pre-season scouting report' was issued via email in which a group of male students circulated a list of 53 female students ranking them in order of how many beers they would have to have before they slept with them....
And on January 2008, a group of pledges from the Zeta Psi fraternity surrounded the entrance to the Yale Women's Centre at midnight holding signs saying, 'We Love Yale Sluts'.
It is argued that this behaviour limited women's equal access to educational opportunities at the university and that there were 'inadequate responses' to the sexual misconduct.
Yeah, "behaviour." It's the British press reporting this. The Daily Mail... where, by the way, the sidebar is sexually harassing me.

Look! Up in the sky! It's Superprotester!

(Chip tweaks my pic posted last night.)

"He felt in a position to say he knew now that hell had nothing to do with fires or frozen troops."

"Lock a fellow in a windowless room to perform rote tasks just tricky enough to make him have to think, but still rote, tasks involving numbers that connected to nothing he’d ever see or care about, a stack of tasks that never went down, and nail a clock to the wall where he can see it, and just leave the man there to his mind’s own devices."

A vision of hell — quoted in the NYT review — found in "The Pale King," the book that was pieced together out of the unfinished pages and notes left by the self-murdered David Foster Wallace.
It’s impossible to know whether Wallace, had he finished the book, might have decided to pare away such passages, or whether he truly wanted to test the reader’s tolerance for tedium...

The big clash in the novel pits old-school I.R.S. employees, “driven by self-righteousness,” against newer ones with a corporate desire “to maximize revenue.” We have to slog through stultifying technical talk about “the distinctions between §162 and §212(2) deductions related to rental properties,” and inside-baseball accounts of obscure battles within the I.R.S. hierarchy. There is even one chapter that consists of little but a series of I.R.S. workers turning page after page after page.
What the reviewer, Michiko Kakutani, does not say is that, in addition to wondering whether this section would have been edited down or rewritten, the reader must wonder whether this is the expression — or the cause — of suicidal despair. Reading long tedious passages — deliberately tedious passages? — how can one escape from the nagging thought that the author himself escaped from this tedium?

March 31, 2011

At the Protest Café...


... you're free to say what you like... short of threats.

"A 26-year-old woman was charged with... allegedly making email threats against Wisconsin lawmakers..."


"The Tasmanian Devil would look stoned standing next to Anne Hathaway."

James Franco explains his Oscar duddiness.

Mr. Jessica Simpson's pre-nup.

"He'll get $500,000 as a wedding present. Then, on each anniversary, he'll get another $200,000. If he and Jessica make it to five years of marriage, he'll get an additional $500,000 bonus — and a $1 million bonus if they make it to 10 years."

"It was the scent of rodents (on the wood clippings) that we hoped would bring her out."

The Egyptian cobra has been lured back into captivity.

"My son and his colleagues have discussed it at length and they have committed themselves to die if necessary to save the nation."

"They have concluded between themselves that it is inevitable some of them may die within weeks or months. They know it is impossible for them not to have been exposed to lethal doses of radiation."

Hungover owls.

I feel better already. (Via Eve Tushnet.)

Makes me want to take a gruel nosh vow.

Taking refuge from the floods in Pakistan, spiders are shrouding the trees with webs.

Astonishing photos, via Metafilter, which is infested with skittish comments like "Never going to click on those links. I never wanted to hear about this subject. Even being 6'5" I am so freaked out by even the mention of spiders."

The Palin alarm is now activated...

...  in liberal enclaves.

"Are Law Professors 'Selfless' Teachers and Scholars Engaged in 'Public Service'?"

"Frankly, these claims about what we do as law professors are embarrassing. I'm not selfless. Exceedingly few of the many law professors I know strike me as selfless."

"Prosser and Kloppenburg have both engaged in their share of negative comments on the campaign trail."

"Prosser has already played the liberal extremist card during candidate debates. And Kloppenburg has been relentless in labeling Prosser a Republican partisan. But because the candidates are about tapped out -- each has agreed to public financing spending limits -- the negative advertising to come will be carried out mostly by proxy. And thanks to the inflamed political atmosphere... Kloppenburg stands to gain the most."

So now, in this last weekend before the election, we're barraged with crazy ads that the candidates can't control, don't have time to respond to, and can benefit from without taking responsibility for. What an ugly mess! 

"OyezToday will appeal to all Supreme Court junkies."

An app.

Andrew Sullivan is "still absorbing" the "surreal," "discordant" news that the U.S. has gone into "yet another war against yet another tyranny simply because we can."

It's "so fantastically contrary to everything he campaigned on" that Sullivan "simply cannot believe it." He knows " the president is not against all wars - just dumb ones. But could any war be dumber than this - in a place with no potential for civil society, wrecked by totalitarianism, riven by tribalism, in defense of rebels we do not know and who are clearly insufficient to the task?"

How could Obama do something... dumb? He was all about smart. He was the smartest guy there ever ever ever was. The Sullivan brain locks up and crashes. Nooooooooooo!

Forbes: "25 Best Cities For An Active Retirement."

#1, Madison, Wisconsin.

Sumi says...

... what you thought she'd say.

Slim jeans vs. hipster jeans.

"One vote for slim jeans. They're more timeless and seem less planned."

"No one was cleaning the street, and there were large pools of urine accumulating and festering."

"It was extraordinarily bad — bad enough that people would avoid the corner walking by... It seems like a small thing until you realize how prolific horses can be. We’re talking gallons."


"Horses are not like automobiles. You just don’t put ’em in neutral. You have to hold on to the horse with one hand with passengers in the back of the carriage and spray this stuff down. Maybe one time out of a hundred with passengers in the cab, the horse might get scared, run off and hurt passengers and things. This will be a disaster.” And they say horse urine "doesn’t have much of an odor, since horses are vegetarians and 'don’t drink Coke or beer.'"

Please don't get sidetracked into the general topic of the smell of the urine of a vegetarian. Spare us your asparagus anecdotes. This is about horse piss and city traffic.

Wisconsin State Employees Union, AFSCME Council 24, threatens to boycott businesses that don't put up window signs supporting the union.

It's sending around a letter:
"Failure to [display the sign] will leave us no choice but (to) do a public boycott of your business," the letter says. "And sorry, neutral means 'no' to those who work for the largest employer in the area and are union members."
Which side are you on? Cue Pete Seeger. Neutral means you on the boss's side. In the case of the public employees, that's... well, it's the taxpayers, isn't it? You'd better not not be on that side, you lousy scab.
The union-led effort is an outgrowth of a boycott campaign by the Wisconsin Professional Police Association and other unions in which M&I Bank and Kwik Trip were targeted because either the companies themselves or their executives supported Gov. Scott Walker's budget initiatives.
The police? I can't get my head around the concept of police involvement in boycotting businesses. That reads like pure corruption. I can't believe it's being done openly. Can someone explain to me how you can even argue that it is acceptable for police to extort political support from citizens?
Jim Haney, the outgoing head of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, a pro-business lobby, said... "It's kind of like the old protection racket... If you have the right sticker, we won't break your knees.' This is beyond the pale to force a small-business person to choose when they want to stay neutral. But that isn't good enough."

In the letter, [Jim Parrett, a field representative of Council 24 for Southeast Wisconsin] writes: "It is unfortunate that you have chosen 'not' to support public workers rights in Wisconsin. In recent past weeks you have been offered a sign by a public employee who works in one of the state facilities in the Union Grove area. These signs simply said, 'This Business Supports Workers Rights,' a simple, subtle and we feel noncontroversial statement given the facts at this time."
Meade and I talked to a several local business owners, after one protester threatened us and purported to "ban" us from various shops and restaurants in town. We wanted to know if we were still welcome, and everyone we spoke to wanted to be politically neutral.

"Soglin, mayor from 1973 to 1979 and again from 1989 to 1997, narrowly lost to Cieslewicz in 2003 — and it still bothers him."

From the Wisconsin State Journal's profile of Soglin (who is running against Madison's "Mayor Dave" in the April 5th elections):
Asked why he lost, Soglin said, "the enormous impact of (Dane County Executive) Kathleen Falk's endorsement and my opposition to IZ."
Inclusionary zoning, which made developers put lower cost housing in projects, had great appeal to the political left and was a central issue in 2003. Soglin, sensitive to concerns voiced by developers and landlords, predicted — in hindsight, correctly — it wouldn't work. He backed a voluntary program.

"Dave exploited it for all it was worth," Soglin said.

"Has the debate over Walker's collective bargaining law caused divisions in your life?"

The Wisconsin State Journal asks its readers. The comments over there so far aren't very interesting. Those who actually answer the question mainly express antagonism toward the terrible people who support the governor. My guess is that the anti-Walkerites are so passionate and vocal that anyone who doesn't agree just keeps quiet... especially in Madison.

It will be interesting to see what happens in the April 5th elections. Is there a silent majority supporting the governor? If there is, and they take the trouble to vote, it will throw cold water on the protest passions. If the anti-Walker side wins decisively — particularly in the Supreme Court race — it will, I think, go a long way toward undoing the results of last fall's election. And that would be even before the state Supreme Court invalidates the public-union-taming law.

About that claim that it could cost $7.5 million to clean up and restore the Wisconsin Capitol buidling.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has discovered the estimate was done on a single handwritten page. 

So? If I understand correctly, the state was required to come up with an estimate in the context of the court proceeding about access to the Capitol. There was a sudden demand for a dollar figure, the activities threatening the building were in progress and escalating, and the state was focused — at least, in part — on protecting the historical building.

The MJS, revealing bias or ignorance, writes:
Much of the concern about possible damage centered on possible effects on the marble walls from residues left by tape used to hang protest signs. But most of those signs were hung with painter's tape, and so far few if any effects can be seen from it in the Capitol.
I know, from personal observation, that a great deal of masking and duct tape was used. Some vigilant protesters were very active in spotting that tape and replacing it with the blue painter's tape so anyone looking around might think it's all painter's tape, but underneath that better tape was the damage done by the worse tape, and, moreover, even the painter's tape was damaging. The risk to that marble was real, and the high estimate of the restoration cost was understandable, even if it was exaggerated.

$145 million was spent restoring the Capitol in 2001, much of it on the old stone that was suffering ongoing damage when that court proceeding took place.

Now, using the high-end number in court had a political downside, because it was used by the protesters to mock and discredit the government, but the need to protect the building was real, and their mockery irritated me because of the way they put their own interests above the care for the public property. Think of something analogous. For example, imagine a factory polluting a river, and environmentalists who are making a big deal about what is a modest amount of pollution after the factory owner had taken some precautions to minimize the pollution. Picture the factory owner preening about the precautions and laughing at the environmentalists for getting all hysterical. The environmentalists would be enraged. That's how I feel about the Capitol building and the "we used painter's tape" argument.

March 30, 2011

"I find it disturbing that Judge Sumi issued this warning, which carries the threat of a Bar disciplinary referral."

"This is tantamount to the nuclear option, by putting attorney licenses to practice on the line. Such a warning necessarily is one-sided, since only the attorneys unhappy with a court's rulings would comment negatively.  Such a warning allows the winning side, so far the Democrats, to crow all day long about the court rulings, while muffling the ability of the Republicans to explain why such rulings were unjustified."

Hillary Clinton is more popular than she's ever been...

... except for that one time when everybody felt sorry for her.

"Women don’t make this up! My Goodness!"

"This is the state of Indiana!"

Ohio crushes public-employee unions.

The NYT reports:
The bill would bar public employees from striking and would prohibit binding arbitration for police officers and firefighters. It would allow bargaining over wages, but not health coverage and pensions and would allow public-employee unions to bargain only when the public employer chose to do so....

The bill would allow public employees who are covered by union contracts but who choose not to belong to the union to opt out of paying union dues or fees. The bill would also bar any governmental unit in Ohio from deducting any part of a worker’s paycheck and giving it to the union for political activities unless the worker gave express permission....

"UW-Madison adds $12.4 billion a year to economy, study finds."

"UW-Madison Chancellor Biddy Martin used the study to highlight why the university needs a new operational model, which it would get if a proposal in Walker’s budget is approved by the state Legislature.... For every $1 of state tax investment to the university, there is $21.05 in economic activity in the state."

At the Early Spring Café...


... we're looking for signs of flowers....


... and Daisy pops up ...


... and spirals.

"Pro-Qaddafi Forces Push Rebels Into Chaotic Retreat."

The NYT reports:
Forces loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi advanced rapidly on Wednesday, seizing towns they ceded just days ago after intense allied airstrikes and hounding rebel fighters into a chaotic retreat....

There were few signs of the punishing airstrikes that reversed the loyalists’ first push.
Did God not hear Thomas Friedman's prayer?!
I am proud of my president, really worried about him, and just praying that he’s lucky...
I hope Qaddafi’s regime collapses like a sand castle, that the Libyan opposition turns out to be decent and united and that they require just a bare minimum of international help to get on their feet. Then U.S. prestige will be enhanced and this humanitarian mission will have both saved lives and helped to lock another Arab state into the democratic camp.

Dear Lord, please make President Obama lucky.

In the Wisconsin protests, Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs sought voluntary compliance, zero arrests, and a positive environment.

The Wisconsin State Journal calls Tubbs "Chief of Peace":
When Tubbs met with protesters and other law enforcement leaders, including Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney, Madison Police Chief Noble Wray, and UW-Madison Police Chief Susan Riseling, the emphasis was on making sure demonstrations stayed peaceful and dialogue between police and demonstrators stayed open....

Throughout the protests, Tubbs said he focused on a goal of “zero arrests.” He even discouraged protesters from playing or singing music that could cause a “negative environment,” suggesting instead patriotic songs, spirituals such as “We Shall Overcome,” even Motown hits....

Things threatened to get ugly ... on March 9...  But there was no violence and about 200 protesters were allowed to stay the night. The following morning, many left on their own. Others were carried out of the antechamber to the Assembly, where legislators were due to meet, amid chants of “Shame!”

“It was not a difficult decision,” Tubbs said. “We had to conduct government business.” Once again, there were no arrests....

Asking "Are You Sexist?" is asking the the wrong question.

Bob Wright frames the question that way as he is challenged about the way Bloggingheads commenters seem to get angriest at me and 2 other female diavloggers (Megan McArdle and Michelle Goldberg):

Of course, the commenters respond to his question by denying that they've been sexist. They're good little commenters, so they don't want to be something bad, and they accept that the thing that sounds bad — sexism — is bad, and therefore no one can say anything interesting.

But obviously, the human mammal has a response to the perceived sex of another human mammal. All sorts of conscious and unconscious thoughts and feelings flow through the nervous system. It is the most interesting topic of conversation. Don't squelch it! Facilitate it!

Why have diavlogs at all if not to expose the physicality of the interlocutors? If you want to exclude reactions of the more complex emotional/sexual kind, then let's stick to writing... and use sex-neutral pen names. If we're going to appear and speak out loud, we're doing something that has an elaborate effect on other human beings, and that's not something to deny and pretend not to see. It's something to observe,  have deep (and shallow) thoughts about, and analyze — seriously and jokingly — in writing and in speech.

We're so afraid of hurting other people and of being thought ill of that we make ourselves into crushing bores.


Bonus: Here's an August 2008 BHtv segment in which I talked with Megan McArdle about why female diavloggers inspire wrath.

AND: Here's the BHtv link to see the kind of answers Bob got to his question.

The policy that is no policy... the problem of the sex discrimination action again Wal-Mart.

Lyle Denniston homes in on the plaintiffs' problem, as it emerged at oral argument in the Supreme Court yesterday:
[Justice Anthony] Kennedy said, “It’s hard for me to see…Your complaint faces in two directions. Number one, you said this is a culture where Arkansas knows, the headquarters knows, everything that’s going on. Then in the next breath, you say, well, now these supervisors have too much discretion. It seems to me there’s an inconsistency there, and I’m just not sure what the unlawful policy is.”

[The female employees’ lawyer, Joseph M.] Sellers chose in reply to dwell on the breadth of the store managers’ discretion, saying “There’s no guidance whatsoever about how to make those decisions.” The discretion, he added, is then used within “a very strong corporate culture” that leads managers to be “informed by the values the company provides.” The response itself seemed contradictory: if there was “no guidance whatsoever,” how were the managers led to apply company “values”?
I think plaintiffs are trying to say that if headquarters can see a pattern of women doing poorly under the decentralized discretion system, then keeping that system in place is a discriminatory policy. That absence of centralized control is the common issue that makes it an appropriate class action (rather than lot of individual cases that ought to be brought separately if at all).

So... the thing that makes a million individuals the same is that they... are different. They should have been made the same.... or more alike... by a sex-discrimination-conscious policy. I think it's possible to get your head around that idea, but nearly impossible to picture workable legal doctrine governing the real-world affairs of human beings... including the judges who would apply it.

The essence of conversation, revealed...

... by the complete absence of meaningful words.

These twin boys say nothing but "da da da" — call The Police — but the gesture and expression are elaborate and vital. They even get each other's jokes.

(The mother blogs here.)

"Six Reasons Google Books Failed."

Robert Darnton digests Judge Denny Chin’s opinion rejecting the settlement of the copyright claim against Google:
First, Google abandoned its original plan to digitize books in order to provide online searching.... Instead, Google chose to make its opponents its partners...

[Second]... a dubious opt-out clause....

Third, in setting terms for the digitization of orphan books—copyrighted works whose rights holders are not known—the settlement eliminated the possibility of competition.....

Fourth, rights held by authors and publishers located outside the United States...

Fifth, the settlement was an attempt to resolve a class action suit, but the plaintiffs did not adequately represent the class to which they belonged....

Sixth, in the course of administering its sales, both of individual books and of access to its data base by means of institutional subscriptions, Google might abuse readers’ privacy by accumulating information about their behavior....

BoingBoing imitates Althouse.

Cory Doctorow, today.

Althouse, last June.

Schumer overheard: "I always use the word extreme... That is what the caucus instructed me to use this week."

NYT reports.
Moments before a conference call with reporters was scheduled to get underway on Tuesday morning, Charles E. Schumer of New York, the No. 3 Democrat in the Senate, apparently unaware that many of the reporters were already on the line, began to instruct his fellow senators on how to talk to reporters about the contentious budget process.
It's funny to hear it being done, but you already knew it was done. Will they be embarrassed into putting a little more effort into varying their language? I doubt it. They like to pick one label and stick it firmly on. It's pretty effective.

"[I]t remains possible that Uthman was... kind of Forrest Gump in the war against al Qaeda."

Orin Kerr is "generally skeptical of movie and pop culture references in judicial opinions," but he likes that one.

Conservatives keep trying to nose into professors' email.

The NYT reports:
A conservative research group in Michigan has issued a far-reaching public records request to the labor studies departments at three public universities in the state, seeking any e-mails involving the Wisconsin labor turmoil. The group, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, declined to explain why it was making the Freedom of Information Act request for material from professors at the University of Michigan, Michigan State and Wayne State University.... This records request, which was filed Friday, comes several days after the Republican Party of Wisconsin made a records request to a prominent University of Wisconsin history professor, William Cronon...

Greg Scholtz, the director of academic freedom for the American Association of University Professors, said: “We think all this will have a chilling effect on academic freedom. We’ve never seen FOIA requests used like this before.”
I think there have been requests like this before, and I could point to one from a prominent liberal group in the recent past, but I will refrain. I am glad this issue is getting processed in the context of a conservative intruder on a liberal professor, because it will help build support for the position I favor: academic freedom for professors. Come on, all you liberals, commit to the academic freedom position. I want to rely on that in the future.

March 29, 2011

"County supervisor fined $205 for Capitol protest sign held by young sons."

News article about the videos we were talking about the other day.

"But what most of the many folks who visit his sweetie’s blog don’t know is that 'New Media Meade' has expanded his role..."

"...by collecting images at protests she just might not approve of. Undaunted, New Media Meade just cannot help himself, he is drawn to a protest just like the moth to a flame. Here’s one."

Hmmm... Well, I don't approve. So I can't show you that. So I'll show you this:

Another Prosser vs. Kloppenburg debate.

"Prosser says the campaign is one of the most politicized court races in state history and people are not looking at the qualifications of the candidates. He says the race has become a referendum on the wrong subject and people are supporting his challenger based on the perception that she’ll rule against the policies of the Governor... Kloppenburg says voters are turning to her because they think she’ll be an independent voice on the court that will help restore integrity."

That makes it sound like what we've heard before. You can listen to the whole thing here, but unfortunately, there's no transcript. I'm listening now. It begins with opening statements. Kloppenburg, speaking very quickly, recites her resume and claims she will be independent. Prosser, speaking slowly — he sounds like Mr. Rogers — recites his resume, concentrating on the number and range of his judicial opinions, and how they demonstrate that he's moderate and a centrist. He stresses that Kloppenburg lacks judicial experience and is a "stealth candidate."

MORE: Asked whether there is a First Amendment right for a judicial candidate to lie about his opponent, Prosser says he knows this is a reference to an ad the winning candidate in the last Wisconsin Supreme Court election used against the incumbent, which has been the subject of some very heated litigation. Getting into the specifics of that case, Prosser's answer was legalistic. When it was Kloppenburg's turn to answer the same question, she gave a clear "no," there is no First Amendment right to lie. That gave Prosser the opening to accuse her of lying about him. He offered to give her a list of her lies. She remained impassive.

"Gov. Scott Walker's administration no longer is collecting dues on behalf of state unions and..."

"... as of Sunday, is charging employees more for their pensions and health care, even though nonpartisan legislative attorneys say the changes are not yet law."

And there is a hearing going on right now in the Dane County Courthouse before Judge Sumi:
Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne, a Democrat, filed a complaint this month to block the law. He contended that a committee of lawmakers violated the open meetings law when it approved the measure, which was a key step to advancing it to the GOP-controlled Assembly and Senate.... Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi on March 18 said Ozanne's case was likely to succeed and blocked Democratic Secretary of State Doug La Follette from publishing the law.

But on Friday, the nonpartisan Legislative Reference Bureau - which was not under the court order - published the law. The director of the reference bureau, Stephen Miller, said Friday that statutes required him to take that step, but that he does not believe the law takes effect until the secretary of state acts. Last week, the Department of Justice appealed Sumi's temporary restraining order. The appeals court panel said the state Supreme Court should take the case, but the high court hasn't ruled on whether it will take it. On Monday, the Department of Justice asked to withdraw its appeal, saying the law had now been published. It also asked Sumi to vacate the temporary restraining order, withdraw Tuesday's hearing and dismiss La Follette from the case.

Ozanne, meanwhile, asked Sumi to declare that the reference bureau's actions did not constitute publication of the law under the state constitution and that the bureau is subject to and had violated the restraining order. He further asked the judge to order the reference bureau to remove the act from the Legislature's website.... Arguments are scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Tuesday in Ozanne's case, on whether a preliminary injunction should be issued. But the dispute over publication of the law adds a new wrinkle that the judge could take up.
Meade is in the courtroom — along with a big crowd of anti-Walkerites. I'm in touch via text and will update.

UPDATE: Meade leaves the hearing, saying: "This is not a job for New Media Meade." The courtroom is full of reporters, and there will be detailed reports of whatever goes on as a result of this hearing which is loaded with legalistic complexities. I'll read that stuff and get back to you later. Briefly, Sumi put aside the argument that the LRB publication has mooted the case and is holding the scheduled hearing.

UPDATE2: Judge Sumi rules against the law again:
But minutes later, outside the court room, Assistant Attorney General Steven Means said the legislation "absolutely" is still in effect....

Sumi noted she has not yet found that lawmakers violated the open meetings law, but noted the Legislature could resolve the matter by passing the bill again. Andrew Welhouse, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau), said there are no plans to try to pass the bill again....

[T]he Department of Justice tried to halt the hearing in Sumi's court, saying the law is now in effect and legislators are immune from civil proceedings. But Sumi said the case must continue for now.

"I think the court has a duty to proceed at this point," she said.

The NYT is "contributing to the digital divide. Absolutely. No question about it."

Said Rush Limbaugh yesterday, at the end of a rant that began by noting that Bob Herbert is leaving the NYT, "with the intent" — in Herbert's words — "of writing more expansively and more aggressively about the injustices visited on working people, the poor and the many others in our society who find themselves on the wrong side of power."

Eventually, after explaining for the 5,000th time that the real cause of poverty is liberalism, Rush got to the subject of the new New York Times pay wall, which means that "The poor will no longer be able to read the New York Times."
It's $35 a month to read their website. Bob Herbert is quitting. Now, some enterprising hackers have found four lines of JavaScript to be able to beat the pay wall. The New York Times spent tens of millions of dollars establishing their pay wall, tens of millions of dollars to pay and keep people from busting it, and four lines of JavaScript have been written that totally bust the pay wall. But the poor don't even know what JavaScript is, so the poor will not even be able to read. 
Well, at least the young/cool people will be able to bypass the pay wall. Maybe that's what the NYT intended. They want their regular home-delivery subscribers to feel they're getting something special and forestall the abandonment of home delivery as people migrate to the internet. (That's what happened to me. I paid for home delivery from 1984 to about 2006, at which point, I noticed I'd been leaving the paper-paper folded up and unread, while I read and wrote on line.) I'm sure some on-line-only readers will pay to get through the wall, and the NYT will make some money from them. Maybe it's worth doing. But I suspect the Times — unless it's a complete idiot — has planned all along for people to work around the wall, because otherwise the drop-off in readership will be horrendous. I think they're hoping to rake in money from a subset of readers while providing free access for anyone who figures out how to get around it and isn't hyper-moral about such things.

James Taranto points to the @freeNYTimes Twitter feed, which you can follow to pick up links to all the new items in the NYT. That's not even bypassing the policy. It was already in the policy that you could get in free if you had a referring link. So there's a referring link for every single thing. It's an uglier point of entry than the front page at the NYT website, which is unfortunate, but not unfortunate enough to make me pay $35 a month for what I've gotten free for years. Now, readers coming over from Twitter will be consuming one of their 20 free page views that the Times gives us each month. I have quit linking to the NYT myself because I feel bad about forcing people to use up their free reads. If there's some news event I want to write about, I start at the Washington Post or some other standard place instead of the NYT. How about all those interesting extra things the NYT talks about — science, culture, commentary? I'm not seeing them, because I'm not looking there anymore. I know I'm missing stuff, but I'm finding other things elsewhere — all because the links consume the free 20!

Taranto has this from the Times Publisher Pinch Sulzburger:
"Can people go around the system? The answer is yes. There are going to be ways... Just as if you run down Sixth Avenue right now and you pass a newsstand and grab the paper and keep running you can actually get the Times free." Oh, so we're not savvy Web users, we're all thieves.

"Is it going to be done by the kind of people who value the quality of The New York Times reporting and opinion and analysis? No... I don't think so. It'll be mostly high-school kids and people who are out of work."
Ha ha. The kind of people.... How ineffably snooty! Somebody tell Bob Herbert! People who are out of work. Those low-quality people! Note that he isn't saying the Times cares about poor people and intends to let them in free. It's saying losers like that don't want to read the NYT anyway. It's only the people who will pay who are wanted in the first place.

What an embarrassing disaster!

I would love to put Kausfiles on my blogroll.

But the Daily Caller seems to have rigged it to switch the Kausfiles URL — http://dailycaller.com/kausfiles/ — so that it takes you to the front page of the Daily Caller and not to the Kausfiles page! At least that's what happens when I put it in my blogroll. (Check the link in my blogroll.) This is abuse of Kaus, which I think is a tort.

ADDED: Clicking the link above will get you to the right place, but I can't get that to work in my blogroll.

The Annual Law Revue Contest.

Compete! It's not enough to put on a show... or to slog through law school and put on a show... you must strive to win the competition of shows.

2010 Law Prof Blog Rankings.

Results are in for the full 12-month competition to be the most popular lawprof/set of lawprofs in all the land... with a publicly available Site Meter.

March 28, 2011

A conference on Bob Dylan and the law.

At Fordham:
[The first session examines] the Dylan songs "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll" and "Hurricane." "Hurricane" chronicles the true-life plight of boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, who was found guilty of murdering three people in 1966. His conviction was overturned after Dylan's song was released because of faulty evidence. "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll" is about the 1960s murder of a black barmaid in Baltimore at the hands of wealthy white man, who spent a mere six months in jail for the crime.
I hope they take account of my parody "The Lonesome Death Of William Zanzinger."
[The second session] will primarily consist of academics and judges presenting papers on Dylan and the law. For example Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom partner David Zornow will present "Dylan's Judgment on Judges: Are Power, Greed and Corruptible Seed All That There Is?" University of Kentucky College of Law professor Alison Connelly will present "Dylan as the Complete Trial Lawyer: Using Hurricane Carter to Teach Trial Skills."...
Hmmm. Seems like too much Hurricane Carter... and too much obviousness. Does Dylan belong in academia? He answered that question himself:
I put down my robe, picked up my diploma
Took hold of my sweetheart and away we did drive
Straight for the hills, the black hills of Dakota
Sure was glad to get out of there alive...

"I think this guy should be investigated. He remembers when Obama was born?"

"Give me a break. He's just trying to do something for his party."

Says Donald Trump, referring to  Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie

"Did you notice Obama kept using the words 'hope' and 'change' in the address on military action in Libya?"

That's an IM from my son Chris. Here's the text of the speech. 4 "hope"s. 9 "change"s.

What Meade noticed was the failure to talk about Congress. Searching the text, I see he said Congress once:
[N]ine days ago, after consulting the bipartisan leadership of Congress, I authorized military action to stop the killing and enforce UN Security Council Resolution 1973.
So... the leadership. Who, exactly? Boehner and Reid?

What I noticed was the implicit disrespect for George Bush:
In this effort, the United States has not acted alone....
When did we act alone? Is he trying to make us misremember what Bush did? 
Going forward, the lead in enforcing the No Fly Zone and protecting civilians on the ground will transition to our allies and partners, and I am fully confident that our coalition will keep the pressure on Gadhafi's remaining forces....
How clean and breezy, compared to what Bush did to Saddam.
And while the United States will do our part to help, it will be a task for the international community, and — more importantly — a task for the Libyan people themselves....
We .. had the ability to stop Gadhafi's forces in their tracks without putting American troops on the ground....
Of course, there is no question that Libya — and the world — will be better off with Gadhafi out of power. I, along with many other world leaders, have embraced that goal, and will actively pursue it through non-military means. But broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake....
If we tried to overthrow Gadhafi by force, our coalition would splinter. We would likely have to put U.S. troops on the ground, or risk killing many civilians from the air. The dangers faced by our men and women in uniform would be far greater. So would the costs, and our share of the responsibility for what comes next.
The implicit comparison is to what Bush did in Iraq.
To be blunt, we went down that road in Iraq. 
Now, it's explicit.
We have intervened to stop a massacre... We will... work with other nations to hasten the day when Gadhafi leaves power. It may not happen overnight, as a badly weakened Gadhafi tries desperately to hang on to power. But it should be clear to those around Gadaffi, and to every Libyan, that history is not on his side. With the time and space that we have provided for the Libyan people, they will be able to determine their own destiny, and that is how it should be.
Isn't that what the United States said to the Iraqi people after the Gulf War?

At the Stars-and-Stripes Café...


... you can assemble and speak freely.

"Two sources with knowledge of internal GOP polling tell us that Prosser and Kloppenburg are near even, a bad sign for the incumbent."

Writes Robert Costa in the National Review:
“She has driven his negatives up,” one source says. “It will be hard to drive hers up. Her lack of judicial experience should hurt her, but it also makes her harder to pin down. The question now is: Does the Right have enough resources to counter the Greater Wisconsin Committee’s millions? And even if they do, is it too late? It is going to be touch-and-go for these last few days.”...

According to state-election figures, nonpartisan spring elections usually draw less than 20 percent of the electorate: 18 percent in 2009, 19 percent in 2008, 19 percent in 2007, and 12 percent in 2006. To win, GOP officials say Prosser will need to draw strong numbers from emerging conservative pockets in Waukesha, Washington, Ozaukee, and Racine counties. If voters from these areas don’t show, but liberals pile into voting booths in Dane County and Madison proper, Kloppenburg could cruise to victory.

“Look, this race is not a referendum on the governor or a specific piece of legislation,” Brian Nemoir says. “It has a much broader scope. supreme-court judges are elected to ten-year terms on purpose. Their elections are not intended to be snapshot responses to the current political environment.”
But if the election depends mostly on turnout, portraying it as a referendum on the governor is probably a better strategy than the usual grim focus on judicial aptitude and temperament. Who can be moved to go out and vote next Tuesday when it's just about a judgeship?

I hate these stranded elections. You have more power than usual, if you vote, because so few vote. That might be some motivation to vote, but... obviously not. That's the whole point: Few vote. Who are those few? The super-heated political types. So... how does that work for a judicial election? You can see that this stranded April 5th voting day presents a special problem with respect to keeping judicial elections above politics. Judicial elections above politics... it makes even less sense than usual.

Prosser has criticized the very negative ads that Kloppenburg supporters have put up, but if his supporters don't come on strong in retaliation, he's going to lose.

"Dennis is Not More Likely to be a Dentist."

Yeah, but delightful theories are more likely to be believed.

"[I]f only we have the nous to know what to do next..."

No nous is good nous.

"If John Stuart Mill were around today, he would likely ask, 'When did Bob Wright and the left turn against free speech?'"

Wrote Meade in the thread about the dispute between me and Bob Wright, in which Bob Wright wanted to limit the concept of "free speech" to rights the individual holds against the government. Meade quoted John Stuart Mill, who wrote:
"Society can and does execute its own mandates: and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with which it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself.”
Penetrating much more deeply... enslaving the soul itself!

Wright also argued against the evolution of the meaning of words, but what if strict usage had checked the evolution of the meaning of the word "liberal"? Wright would need to resist calling himself a liberal.

Bill Ayers: "Did you know that I wrote ['Dreams From My Father']?"

Nice comic timing. Or do you think the comedy is the equivalent of hiding something in plain sight?

ADDED: Protein Wisdom:
As someone who knows a thing or two about interpretation, I don’t need John Hawkins or Rick Moran to point out Ayers’ tone of sarcasm. What I’m interested in is the rather pointed tone of the sarcasm — it’s too deliberate, and the question seems too staged — and I’m suggesting that, while Ayers wants to joke it all away (to provide himself an out), he also very much wants credit. It’s who he is. It’s who they all are....

"Aging hippies trashed the state Capitol."

Writes Salena Zito in an article, cited by Instapundit, called "GOP Can't Ignore Wisconsin Recall Battle."

Look, I agree that GOP should not ignore the recall battle...
Unions and the left are far outspending pro-business interests and the right on recall ads. Democrats are wise to see more at stake than a single state Senate majority and a new political map that could unseat two freshmen Republican congressmen. They know this is the first battle of 2012 — their version of 2010's surprise election of Scott Brown, R-Mass., who won a blue-state U.S. Senate seat formerly held by Democrat Ted Kennedy....
That's really important. But aging hippies did not trash the Wisconsin Capitol. There have been huge crowds at the Capitol in the last 6 weeks, and most of them weren't even trashing anything. The composition of the crowd has changed over time. It began with a lot of middle-aged state employees, notably teachers.

There was a tremendous infusion of energy from young people — especially the UW TAs. Who did the things that can be called "trashing"? Who broke windows and doors and taped up a lot of signs? I think it was the young people who became excessively impassioned about something that looked like good politics to them. They weren't hippies, though. And neither were the older state employees, who have jobs and, presumably, pretty damned conventional lives. This has been a fight over the preservation of the political clout of public employees, who love their job security and their pensions. These aren't hippie values.

Quit blaming hippies. No hippies were involved. 

Anyway, about the recall elections. Not only is it important for Republicans to take these elections seriously, as Zito states, because of the damaging losses that could occur. It's also a great opportunity. Think of the up side. Promote the budget plan as something positive. You suddenly have a Democratic-Party-made platform for touting your program. And the protesters have, for your convenience, generated a vast array of images and video to attack the Democrats' position.

"The European Court of Human Rights has just upheld Italy's policy of displaying crucifixes in its public school classrooms."

John Witte Jr. writes about the 15-2 decision in Lautsi v. Italy:
The Court stated clearly that the crucifix is a religious symbol, that atheism is a protected religious belief and that public schools must be religiously neutral. But the Court held that a "passive display" of a crucifix in a public school classroom was no violation of religious freedom — particularly when students of all faiths were welcome in public schools and free to wear their own religious symbols. The Court held further that Italy's policy of displaying only the crucifix was no violation of religious neutrality, but an acceptable reflection of its majoritarian Catholic culture....
This is much more accommodating to government religious expression in public schools than U.S. constitutional law is, but Witte notes 6 similarities:
First, tradition counts in these cases....

Second, religious symbols often have redeeming cultural value.

Third, local values deserve some deference...

Fourth, religious freedom does not require the secularization of society...

Fifth, religious freedom does not give a minority a heckler's veto over majoritarian policies....

Finally, religious symbolism cases are serious business...
Rich detail on each of the six points, so go to the link. Witte has a definite point of view, as he shows by referring giving "a minority a heckler's veto." The actual U.S. Supreme Court cases express concern about children feeling like outsiders.

"Are you a conservative liberal or a liberal conservative?"

"I'm a conservative liberal."

"I'm a liberal conservative!"

(Things overheard at Meadhouse.)

March 27, 2011

Photography, yesterday.

Women in purple...


Meade, among the women...


Meade, in the rotunda...


Meade's subjects, the lounging protesters...


(Can you really do the fist salute while seated, slumping, on the floor?)

Guy Fawkes at the protests.



(At the Wisconsin Capitol, yesterday.)

"If I had known there was a reporter stuffed in the closet, I would have been compelled to stand up and demand answers."

"I would also like to know if this is actually legal to treat people like caged animals. I’m disgusted by these actions."

(The reporter agreed to the accommodations, didn't he?)

"[I]t's time for me to face up to the fact that the political blogosphere is a near complete bore."

"There are two reasons for this boredom, as far as I am concerned. The first is as follows: Six years ago, the political blogosphere was not dominated by the money and resources of mainstream media and professional political advocacy groups. Now it is. The political blogosphere has now acquired all of the defects (and none of the virtues) of mainsteam and advocacy media. With money has come self-censorship and intellectual dishonesty."

"Slim finds the concept of physical intimacy with his wife distasteful..."

"... but he dreams of a future as a high-priced prostitute."

Wisconsin Capitol Police very gently enforce the law against posting signs on the first floor.

Via Garage Mahal. Meade and I didn't witness this, but we were there the other day when activist Ben Masel couldn't get himself arrested.

The Bob Wright/Ann Althouse email exchange about what free speech means in the context of saying Roger Ailes needs to kick Glenn Beck off Fox News.

Back on February 2, I wrote “When did the left turn against free speech?” and used some clips from a Bloggingheads I did with Bob Wright, in which I talked about free speech values and rejected Bob's attempt to restrict the idea of free speech to the constitutional right to free speech, which only deals with the problem of government restrictions on speech.

The text of my post, however, doesn't restate our disagreement about the meaning of the term, and Bob emailed me to complain. And then last Friday, I did another Bloggingheads, and Bob brought up his beef about the definition of the term again. So I invited him to give me permission to publish the whole email exchange, and he agreed, so here goes...

In the blog post, explaining Bob Wright's position, I said that he thought that "free speech is too dangerous because it might be false and it might inspire bad people to act out in terrible ways." Since Bob's point was that Roger Ailes should kick Glenn Beck off the air, Bob said:

Hillary Clinton distinguishes Assad from Qaddaffi.

Syria is not Libya. I hope you can understand why.
Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s security forces clashed with protesters in several cities yesterday...

Clinton said the elements that led to intervention in Libya -- international condemnation, an Arab League call for action, a United Nations Security Council resolution -- are “not going to happen” with Syria, in part because members of the U.S. Congress from both parties say they believe Assad is “a reformer.”

“What’s been happening there the last few weeks is deeply concerning, but there’s a difference between calling out aircraft and indiscriminately strafing and bombing your own cities... than police actions which, frankly, have exceeded the use of force that any of us would want to see.”
Is this a doctrine?

Shame, shame, shame. Where is the shame?

Is it in wearing a gray hoodie under a tailored blazer, a little black derby hat, and a smelled-a-fart expression while carrying a pre-printed "SHAME" sign when the guy marching after you is wearing a windbreaker and carrying a handmade "TAX the RICH" sign?


Is it in carrying a 3D representation of the governor's bare ass while being followed by a blanketed-up old woman in a wheelchair against whom is propped a gigantic "SHAME" sign?


Is it in wheeling around an old woman against whom is propped a gigantic "SHAME" sign and sticking mylar pinwheels into her blankets?


Is it in marching — while holding, instead of sign, a take-out coffee — while a woman holds up a "SHAME!" sign and you (apparently) supervise a child who is bearing a handmade "InaPPropriate Boob" sign which depicts (presumably) Scott Walker being directed toward a blazing fire.


Where is the shame? Is it in my photography and my questions? Should I be ashamed to see alternate meanings in the "SHAME" signs the Wisconsin protesters display proudly?




(Closeups of yesterday's rag-tag band.)

"I think she probably was raped, otherwise I can't see her having the courage..."

"... to put herself at such risk to let us know what the regime is doing. We see the fear in people all the time. But this is the most blatant example of the vicious way the regime treats the Libyan people."

Why didn't Scott Walker realize he was talking to a prankster who was only pretending to be David Koch?

Because Walker had never spoken to David Koch in his life.

That fact begins a Weekly Standard article called "The Paranoid Style in Liberal Politics." Toward the end:
As the assaults piled up Charles [Koch] couldn’t help thinking of Schopenhauer’s “Art of Controversy.” The German philosopher had noted that people who can’t win an argument through reason attack their opponent’s motivation. “I thought I was cynical enough,” Charles said. “But that was pretty shocking, to see what we’re up against, or what the country’s up against: to have an element like this.”...

To Charles, the call for bigger government was egalitarianism run amok. Liberals, he thought, fetishized equality of condition at the expense of personal liberty. “They cannot stand that some people are better off than others,” Charles said. “I think part of it fits Mencken’s definition of a Puritan: someone that’s miserable because he knows that someone, somewhere, is enjoying himself. He cannot stand that. And I think they all slept through Economics 101.”

In London, "protesters threw light bulbs filled with ammonia at police."

Were these old-style incandescent light bulbs or compact fluorescents? Because if they were compact fluorescents, protesters threw light bulbs filled with ammonia and mercury.