July 2, 2011

Blogging milestones: 40 million visits, 70 million page views.

The visits milestone was reached today, the page views milestone a few days ago:

At the Cool Shade Café...


... sit down and talk to us.

Prof. Chemerinsky says Justice Ginsburg "has in her power the ability to prevent a real shift in the balance of power on the court."

"On the other hand, there's the personal. How do you decide to leave the United States Supreme Court?"

Wow! How much of this kind of moral pressure is being applied to the venerable Justice?
Democrats and liberals have a nightmare vision of the Supreme Court's future: President Barack Obama is defeated for re-election next year and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, at 78 the oldest justice, soon finds her health will not allow her to continue on the bench.

The new Republican president appoints Ginsburg's successor, cementing conservative domination of the court, and soon the justices roll back decisions in favor of abortion rights and affirmative action.
Abortion and affirmative action. Abortion and affirmative action. That's the fixed point in constitutional law for a lot of people: it must work out in favor of abortion and affirmative action.
[S]ome on the left say ... Ginsburg needs to put self-interest aside and act for the good of the issues they believe in, Harvard law professor Randall Kennedy wrote recently. Kennedy said 72-year-old Justice Stephen Breyer should leave, too....
Get out, you selfish oldies — say some on the left — Obama needs to appoint some liberal ideologues before its too late!
David Garrow, a Cambridge University historian who follows the court, said Ginsburg's situation points to an institutional problem for the court, "the arguably narcissistic attitude that longer is better."
Justices sometimes look at electoral projections when considering retirement, he said, adding that Ginsburg probably still could decide to retire next summer if Obama's electoral prospects seem shaky.
The rest of the article is a history lesson about how waiting too long doesn't work. Earl Warren, LBJ, Richard Nixon, Warren Burger and all that. The message is clear. The liberal media want Ruth Bader Ginsburg out now.

I know that sounds mean, but it's not me saying it. I'm just paraphrasing for clarity.

Shopping and cooking for yourself is ultimately much more satisfying than going to restaurants.

Argues Mark Bittman.
[The restaurant] experience, effortless and pleasurable in anticipation, is usually expensive — even when it’s at a theoretically inexpensive restaurant — and frustrating; more often than not it’s unsatisfying. (Note that this means it’s also sometimes satisfying, which is why I keep doing it; it’s a gamble.)

When I cook, though, everything seems to go right....
When I'm home everything seems to be right... So sang The Beatles in "Hard Day's Night"... which we were just watching last night... before going out to a restaurant.
Compared with a restaurant, the frustrations and annoyances are minimal, the food is as good or better-tasting, unquestionably healthier and more environmentally friendly, and much less expensive. Saturday night, for example, I fed four people a dinner of nuts, a small frittata, fish, salad and watermelon for far less than two of us would have spent at Applebee’s....

In most restaurants...  you relinquish all control....
There's a larger principle here too, isn't there? It's not just restaurants and home cooking. It's everything that you do outside the home versus home. Compare spending the night in a hotel to sleeping in your own bed. If you embrace the reality of how beautiful home is — and how cheap and comfortable — you may never go anywhere. I think that's the reason we stave off the realization of how much we like to stay home!

"How can a woman who believes in submitting to her husband's will aspire to be president of the United States?"

Libby Copeland looks at Michelle Bachmann's religious orientation. Copeland presents evidence that Bachmann is serious about submission:
In a speech at a mega-church in the Minneapolis area back in 2006, Michele Bachmann explained her decision to pursue tax law. It wasn't her choice, exactly. God had already told her to go to law school; God had also told her to marry a fellow named Marcus Bachmann. Now Marcus told her "to go and get a post-doctorate degree in tax law." This was not a particular desire of Michele's ("Tax law? I hate taxes!"), but she was certain God was speaking through her husband.

"Why should I go and do something like that?" she recalled thinking. "But the Lord says, 'Be submissive wives; you are to be submissive to your husbands.'"
That's the beginning of the article. I'm not sure there anything but blather in the rest of the article. Interesting issue, though. Care to discuss it?

On the occasion of the Wal-Mart sex-discrimination case, looking back 30 years to the Sears case.

Cathy Young brings the historical perspective:
[In the Sears case,] a feminist historian, Rosalind Rosenberg of Barnard College, testified as an expert witness for Sears. Men and women, Rosenberg argued, generally have different expectations and preferences regarding work -- and, however, desirable more equality in the workplace may be, it is "naïve" to see the [statistical] disparities as proof of discrimination. (She was, of course, branded a traitor to the sisterhood.) Sears won the case in 1986....

Women's traditional preferences don't negate the existence of sexist barriers or subtle biases....

Yet legal action is far too blunt and heavy an instrument to deal with these issues. Sometimes, as with the ban on racial segregation or on overt sex discrimination in the workplace, law can change culture in the right direction. But for the law to intrude into a complex web of human relationships and attitudes is an overreach likely to cause more harm than good. For one, we live in a time when state intrusion into private actions is viewed with suspicion. To say that women's advancement requires the government and the courts to micromanage business decisions -- to the point of telling a corporation that it cannot let local managers control promotions and pay -- is to invite a backlash.

July 1, 2011

At the Late Rose Café...


... you can talk all night.

6th Circuit says Michigan's ban on affirmative action violates Equal Protection.

"The court’s 2-to-1 ruling, which is likely to be appealed, said the voter-approved ban 'unconstitutionally alters Michigan’s political structure by impermissibly burdening racial minorities.'"

Here's the opinion (PDF). Excerpt:
[Washington v. Seattle Sch. Dist. No. 1, 458 U.S. 457 (1982), and Hunter v. Erickson, 393 U.S. 385 (1969),] expounded the rule that an enactment deprives minority groups of equal protection of the laws when it: (1) has a racial focus, targeting a goal or program that “inures primarily to the benefit of the minority”; and (2) works a reallocation of political power or reordering of the decisionmaking process that places “special burdens” on a minority group’s ability to achieve its goals through that process...

Proposal 2, like Initiative 350, has a “racial focus,” because the Michigan universities’ affirmative-action programs “inure[] primarily to the benefit of the minority, and [are] designed for that purpose,” for the reasons articulated by the Court in Seattle. Just as the desegregative busing programs at issue in Seattle were designed to improve racial minorities’ representation at many public schools, race-conscious admissions policies increase racial minorities’ representation at institutions of higher education, see, e.g., Grutter, 539 U.S. at 316, 328-33 (describing the University of Michigan Law School’s minority-student-enrollment aims); Gratz, 539 U.S. at 253-56 (describing admissions policies at the University of Michigan regarding underrepresented minority groups).
I thought the "diversity" interest counted as compelling in Grutter was for the educational benefit of all of the students in the classroom. Under Grutter and Gratz, an interest in benefiting the minority would not support the state's choice to have affirmative action, so how can it work as the basis for saying that the state can't choose not to have it? The Seattle and Hunter cases are a bit strange, and I would not be surprised if the Supreme Court took this case and not only reversed but reframed the doctrine.

"Is Harold Koh the Left’s John Yoo?"

One might well ask.

"How well do you see color?"

Test yourself.

(Via Drawn.)

"Gossip as high-fructose corn syrup."

A theory:
There's this idea that modern diseases of excess are due to the human metabolism being evolutionarily keyed for need. Our bodies haven't become accustomed to the wide availability of nutritionally empty yet calorie-rich foods, hence the obesity epidemic.

Maybe everyone's "social metabolism" is different. Some folks can say and hear whatever they want and always feel great. Others have to be more mindful....

At the Rose Café...


... sit right back down and talk to us.

Why would a man questioned about impulsively grabbing someone's neck impulsively grab the questioner's microphone?

PR fail from David Prosser.

What's your perception of the microphone grab story?
Prosser is rightfully angry at the abuse he's received from the press.
Prosser has an unfortunately low level of physical self-control.
Prosser is insufficiently savvy about media.
Prosser is a bit awkward in an awkward situation, ie, normal.
pollcode.com free polls

"You can't spell FAILED without DFL!"

Tweeted by a Republican legislator in Minnesota, which is shutting down right now, after a breakdown in talks between Republican legislators and the DFL Governor Mark Dayton.

DFL? It's the Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party, which is what you call the Democratic Party in Minnesota. Have you ever noticed?

What if you soul-searched over an event that — you learn later — didn't happen?

Pity France, which self-critiqued over the Strauss-Kahn case that now seems not to have been what it once appeared to be.
His arrest... led to soul-searching about the treatment of women in France and a new assertiveness challenging male behavior. Responses to the latest news seemed to suggest that the debate had become less clear-cut.

“This is a slap in the face of the feminists,” said Marc Marciano, 53, a trader in Neuilly-sur-Seine, a Paris suburb....
What to do with all that insight gained? This reminds me of the old Tawana Brawley story, which led to soul-searching about racial bigotry and then turned out to be a fraud. One solution back then was to claim the insights are still good, even if the news that triggered the soul-searching was false.

In her book "The Alchemy of Race and Rights," lawprof Patricia J. Williams wrote that Brawley "has been the victim of some unspeakable crime. No matter how she got there. No matter who did it to her and even if she did it to herself."

I vividly remember a job talk at my law school in which the candidate described a racially charged incident with the police. He was questioned about whether the incident really happened that way, and his response — delivered quickly and glibly — was that the anecdote worked as an object of study from which to spin off insights whether it was true or not. The job talk was exceedingly well received.

If that seems terribly wrong to you, explain why, when we consume works of overt fiction — novels and movies and so forth — we feel that we derive insights applicable to the real world. I think some fictions resonate. They seem to speak to real life. They are not purely escapist fantasy. If it isn't wrong to use some works of fiction in our efforts to understand the real world, is it necessarily always wrong to use a news story presented as true that later turns out to be false?

UPDATE: "Dominique Strauss-Kahn was released from house arrest on Friday as the sexual assault case against him moved one step closer to dismissal after prosecutors told a Manhattan judge that they had serious problems with the case."

The U.S. Supreme Court violent video games case + the Wisconsin Supreme Court "chokegate" story...

... melded into a brilliant segment on "The Daily Show":

The Daily Show - Moral Kombat
Get More: Daily Show Full Episodes,Political Humor & Satire Blog,The Daily Show on Facebook

The last thing Jon Stewart says here is incredibly cynical about courts. It's also very well set up by what has gone before and deserves both laughs and serious conversation.

"Wouldn't Kaukauna's money problems have been solved if Walker had just accepted those concessions and not demanded cutbacks in collective bargaining powers?"

We've been discussing the news that the Kaukauna school district here in Wisconsin has gone from a $400,000 budget deficit to an estimated $1.5 million surplus as a result of the the new collective bargaining laws, and that question — raised here by Byron York — came up in the comments. It is the key question. From York's answer:
In the past, Kaukauna's agreement with the teachers union required the school district to purchase health insurance coverage from something called WEA Trust -- a company created by the Wisconsin teachers union. "It was in the collective bargaining agreement that we could only negotiate with them," says [Kaukauna school board President Todd] Arnoldussen. "Well, you know what happens when you can only negotiate with one vendor." This year, WEA Trust told Kaukauna that it would face a significant increase in premiums.

Now, the collective bargaining agreement is gone, and the school district is free to shop around for coverage. And all of a sudden, WEA Trust has changed its position. "With these changes, the schools could go out for bids, and lo and behold, WEA Trust said, 'We can match the lowest bid,'" says Republican state Rep. Jim Steineke, who represents the area and supports the Walker changes. At least for the moment, Kaukauna is staying with WEA Trust, but saving substantial amounts of money.

Then there are work rules. "In the collective bargaining agreement, high school teachers only had to teach five periods a day, out of seven," says Arnoldussen. "Now, they're going to teach six." In addition, the collective bargaining agreement specified that teachers had to be in the school 37 1/2 hours a week. Now, it will be 40 hours.

The changes mean Kaukauna can reduce the size of its classes -- from 31 students to 26 students in high school and from 26 students to 23 students in elementary school. In addition, there will be more teacher time for one-on-one sessions with troubled students.

June 30, 2011

"The sexual assault case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn is on the verge of collapse..."

The NYT reports on the what the prosecutor's investigators have learned about the hotel housekeeper who accused him of rape:
Although forensic tests found unambiguous evidence of a sexual encounter between Mr. Strauss-Kahn, a French politician, and the woman, prosecutors do not believe much of what the accuser has told them about the circumstances or about herself.
Read the whole thing. It's quite shocking. Anyone who commented on this case should look back on what they said/wrote with serious circumspection.

Emily Mills responds to my criticism of her unsubstantiated accusation that I went to "great and terrible lengths" to defend Justice Prosser.

I'm linking so you can get started talking about it in the comments here and over there. I haven't read the entire thing, but it looks as though she only apologizes for not linking to me, which wasn't the real problem. The real problem — which I describe here — was her unsubstantiated accusations. Does she now provide the evidence that was lacking before? I don't see how she can, because I know what she wrote about me was wrong, but I will read it now, and I hope you do too.

ADDED: First, let's look at the positive. Emily Mills has admitted that we don't know what really happened that day in the Supreme Court. I think that originally she, like Bill Wineke, thought she could be part of a media noise machine that could ruin Prosser. But now, it seems, she's let go of the belief that she can simply be hardcore anti-Prosser. That's not a comfortable place anymore. Good. I've pulled the Madison cocoon open. I'm happy about that. Time to grow up and live in the wider world.

Now, the negative. Mills strains to read between the lines of things I've written and to imagine things I must be thinking:
What I'm calling out, then, is what I perceived to be an all-too quick jump to the "it was probably Bradley's/Abrahamson's/liberals fault" line of argument existent in Ann's and other's [sic] musings on the matter.
That quote isn't a quote from me. It's Mills's own expression of her perceptions when she read my mind. I thought Mills was going to substantiate her accusations with words that I wrote, not reports of her feelings when she read what I wrote.

It's important, when you're reading and you get a feeling to stop and think: What made me feel like that? It can be very enlightening! Go back over the precise words that set you off. There may be an interesting discrepancy between those words and your feelings. Pay attention to your own mind. Confront the ways in which other people's minds are genuinely different from yours.

To some extent, it's good to imagine that another person's thoughts resemble yours. Emily Mills wants the liberal side to win, so when she's reading something I wrote that doesn't help, she presumes I'm on the other side. She knows how she embodies her thoughts cagily into words, and she imagines that I'm doing the same kind of thing. But other people deserve to be recognized as separate and different. One of the reasons to read is to get the feeling of how another person thinks. Don't close yourself off to that. You'll be a better reader, and, I would argue, a better person, because you will be accepting and confronting the author's humanity and individuality.

ALSO: That phrase "great and terrible" is a big Old Testament phrase. Example:
And the LORD shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?
I'm not that powerful, Emily.

I'm trapped in a Blogger blog and I can't get out.

Maybe you are wondering why I said this blog was going to move out of Blogger and onto an independent site. I made the decision after a harrowing experience in which Blogger suddenly deleted my blog, without explanation and without any information about what I could do about it. My effort to get help through the Google forum brought some truly weird bullying from a moderator over there, but after I blogged about it, two Google employees contacted me, interacted with me personally, and got the blog back up. I was glad for that help, but it got me looking for a better service, and I have been working with very good people who are trying to get me set up with an independent WordPress blog.

Unfortunately, we discovered that my blog archive cannot be extracted either by the simple device of using the "export" function in the Blogger software or through the ingenuity of my new tech people. We've gone back to those Google employees who helped me after my blog was deleted, and they say they are trying to help, sounding quite sincere about giving me personal service, which I appreciate. Two weeks ago, they told me that they had an "engineer" working "actively"on extracting my archive. We've followed up, and we've been assured this active effort continues, but still, no archive extraction.

The problem is the size of the archive (with over 20,000 posts and nearly a million comments). If anyone is blogging in Blogger, they need to know that there is an upper limit to what Blogger can handle without losing functionality. Had I known what that limit was, I would have gotten out before I hit it. I feel like I can't get out at the door — I do wish I hadn't blogged quite so much!....
Alas! it was too late to wish that! She went on growing, and growing, and very soon had to kneel down on the floor: in another minute there was not even room for this, and she tried the effect of lying down with one elbow against the door, and the other arm curled round her head. Still she went on growing, and, as a last resource, she put one arm out of the window, and one foot up the chimney, and said to herself `Now I can do no more, whatever happens. What will become of me?'

I can do no more, whatever happens. What will become of me?

UPDATE: Email from Google says: "Good news. We've improved our systems and have now exported your blog. It's 1.8G of XML representation.... Thanks for your patience." All right then.

Media Matters makes a montage of the Glenn Beck show.

Media Matters hates Glenn Beck, but this montage is pretty damned entertaining, perhaps because the Fox News channel show is ending. Tonight is the last installment:
An advertising boycott that began after Beck said Obama had a “deep-seated hatred for white people” led to more than 400 advertisers telling Fox they didn’t want their commercials seen on his show.

Fox and Beck headed for a divorce, their relationship largely soured by control issues. Beck has set up his own diversified business, as he makes speeches, writes books and owns a website along with GBTV, which is run by a former Fox executive.
That Media Matters montage made me...
... think about why I love Glenn Beck.
... wish I'd paid more attention to what might have been a great show.
... think about why I hate Glenn Beck.
... realize that man needed to be exiled to the internet.
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Mark Halperin called Obama "a dick" and now he says "I can’t explain why I did it."

He's apologized, but I don't care. I want him to explain why he did it. Why is he editor-in-large at Time if he can't explain things as accessible to him as his own mind?

Am I the only one who takes more offense at the blurted phrase "Oh my God" (by Joe Scarborough) than the use of the word "dick" to explain the President's behavior? I think insulting the President is rough political discourse, but saying "Oh my God" is taking the Lord's name in vain.

You know, I bet Halperin was reverting to a style of speech that he uses with his colleagues, off-camera, and he thought he could stick it in, perhaps with bleeping or a comic reference to bleeping that didn't happen. But he's out of touch with the segment of the morning TV audience that experiences "he was a dick" as way off the norm. I mean, I am too.

I'm trying to guess whether that segment is also disturbed by "Oh my God" the way I am. I really don't understand how anyone who believes in God (or has respect for people around them who believe in God) can say use "God" as part of a casual exclamation.

But calling people a dick. It's rude, but actual dicks aren't able to take offense, and even if they were, they wouldn't determine your fate in the afterlife.

“The mistake that straight people made was imposing the monogamous expectation on men."

Says Dan Savage (in a big NYT Magazine story about him):
“Men were never expected to be monogamous. Men had concubines, mistresses and access to prostitutes, until everybody decided marriage had to be egalitar­ian and fairsey.”
Fairsey? I suppose that's fairs-y — signifying a childish approach to fairness. Am I right? Just trying to understand. Appeals to fairness may sometimes be oversimplified and not really — at some deeper level — fair. He seems to be saying that the female-driven concept of fairness in marriage is a caricature of fairness that favors women, because man's needs are different/greater — as the history of marriage shows. (And yes, I know there are heterosexual couples where the woman has the greater demand for frequency and variety and that Dan Savage is well aware of that.)
In the feminist revolution, rather than extending to women “the same latitude and license and pressure-release valve that men had always enjoyed,” we extended to men the confines women had always endured. “And it’s been a disaster for marriage.”

In their own marriage, Savage and [his husband Terry] Miller practice being what he calls “monogamish,” allowing occasional infidelities, which they are honest about. Miller was initially opposed to the idea. “You assume as a younger person that all relationships are monogamous and between two people, that love means nothing can come between you,” said Miller, who met Savage at a club in 1995, when he was 23 and Savage was 30. “Dan has taught me to be more realistic about that kind of stuff.

“It was four or five years before it came up,” Miller said. “It’s not about having three-ways with somebody or having an open relationship. It is just sort of like, Dan has always said if you have different tastes, you have to be good, giving and game, and if you are not G.G.G. for those tastes, then you have to give your partner the out. It took me a while to get down with that.”
Interesting for the NYT to publish this the week that New York legalized same-sex marriage.

At the hotel attack in Kabul, the Afghan police were seen "tightly gripping their own AK-47s as they raced away from the gunmen."

A hotel guest recalls:
“I said, ‘Why don’t you shoot? Shoot!'... But they just said, ‘Get away from them.’ And we all ran together.”

Six hours later, at least 21 people were dead, including the nine suicide bombers who managed to penetrate several rings of security on Tuesday night to carry out the attack. The assault has shaken public confidence in the ability of Afghan forces, especially the police, to assume responsibility for security, even here in the capital...

“We talk about the transition to Afghan security, but the Afghan forces are not ready to take over their security and their country,” said Maulavi Mohammadullah Rusgi, chairman of the Takhar provincial council in northern Afghanistan, who was having dinner at the hotel with friends when the attack commenced. Three of his friends were killed.

“The security forces cannot even protect a few people inside the hotel,” he said. “How can they protect the whole country?”
Not ready? It sounds like those police were not willing.
[F]or the hotel guests, many of whom jumped over the perimeter walls, plunged into irrigation ditches or cowered in closets to escape the attackers, the police response was not only slow, but also cowardly. Several witnesses said police officers ran away or refused to shoot.
Cowardly? Or on the other side?

June 29, 2011

At the Cheese Curd and Onion Ring Café...


... let's get fried.

Meanwhile, outside....


... there were throngs of people at the Capitol... and they weren't protesting. (They were downtown for the Concerts on the Square.)

Under the new Wisconsin budget repair, one school district goes from a $400,000 deficit to a $1.5 million surplus.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:
Cost savings from worker contributions to health care and retirement, taking effect today as part of the new collective bargaining laws, will swing the Kaukauna School District from a $400,000 budget deficit to an estimated $1.5 million surplus....  The district... plans to hire teachers and reduce class size.
Let's stop and think of all the protesters who carried signs asserting that their opposition to Scott Walker was for the children.

6th Circuit upholds the individual mandate.

Ilya Somin comments:
Today’s 2–1 Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decision upholding the constitutionality of the individual mandate is undeniably a setback for mandate opponents. Up until now, judges’ votes in the mandate cases had split along ideological and partisan lines. Every conservative Republican judge had voted to strike it down, while every liberal Democrat voted to uphold it. Even in the Sixth Circuit, two of the three judges fit the same pattern (Judge Boyce Martin, and Judge Graham in dissent). But Judge Jeffrey Sutton, a well-known conservative judge has now become the first exception to it. Like Martin, he voted to uphold the mandate as an exercise of Congress’ powers under the Commerce Clause.

At the same time, Martin and Sutton’s opinions highlight a central weakness of the pro-mandate position in even more blatant form than previous opinions upholding the mandate. Their reasoning has extremely radical implications. Unlike previous decisions upholding the mandate, which ruled that failing to purchase health insurance is “economic activity,” Martin and Sutton conclude that Congress has the power to regulate inactivity as well, so long as the inactivity has some kind of “substantial” economic effect.

"Generic Republican Candidate 46%, Obama 42%."

Says Rasmussen.

Fortunately for Obama, the Republicans will have to settle on a specific Republican.

President Obama evolves beyond "evolving."

The NYT reports:
After months of saying his position on same-sex marriage is “evolving,” President Obama on Wednesday traded that language for comments that stopped just short of endorsing the notion that gay people have the right to marry....

“I think what you’re seeing is a profound recognition on the part of the American people that gays and lesbians and transgender persons are our brothers, our sisters, our children, our cousins, our friends, our co-workers, and that they’ve got to be treated like every other American,” Mr. Obama said at a news conference. “And I think that principle will win out.”

The president went on: “I think we’re moving in a direction of greater equality and – and I think that’s a good thing.”

Mr. Obama used those same words – “a good thing” – to describe the debate in New York that led to last week’s passage of a law making same-sex marriage legal.
A good thing... Apparently he's evolved into Martha Stewart:

The Madison SlutWalk was a bust.

Oh, no!
My partner and I arrived just in time to make the official start time of the march, our “Stop Slut Shaming” sign in hand, to join a small group in the middle of Library Mall. We delayed for about half-an-hour, mostly, I think, just trying to build up even a few more bodies to our small group. There was little sense of organization, and I really didn’t know who was in charge. No one spoke to those who had gathered to rally us.

The actually beginning of the march was hard to mark. One man milling about moved a few steps towards the capitol, and I think I heard him quietly murmur a call to start marching, but I really wasn’t certain. Looking around, I could see he had begun to make uncertain steps towards the capitol, but no one seemed to realize that this was a “start”. I remember saying something like, “Um, I think he’s starting,” in an attempt to keep a connection between what few people we had and the people who might be leading the event, and we all somewhat awkwardly gathered up and began to march....

By the time we had arrived at the capitol square, our numbers had swelled to something in the high-twenties to perhaps thirty people. In theory we were supposed to round the Capitol building, but we stopped after making it to the first corner, much to the seeming relief of most of the marchers. It was a hot day, and our small group hadn’t built up any real energy even in our own members. We milled around the water fountain that had stopped some of us up, and after some brief chatter, all slowly melted away in the sun.

"Shoplifting... has long been viewed as a women’s crime, a relative of bulimia and other 'female appetite diseases.'"

"Freud’s disciples linked it to repressed sexuality."

"Journalism has become a form of litigation."

"It's not about finding the truth; it's about advocating theories and presenting facts in a way that ensures that one 'side' wins."

Isthmus columnist Emily Mills slimes me over the Wisconsin Supreme Court "chokegate" story...

... without taking the trouble to link to or quote anything I said. Or should I say without daring to link to or quote anything I said? She cites the "the fires of victim blaming amongst Prosser supporters" and then says:
One of the more vocal among them is blogger and UW Law School professor Ann Althouse, who has gone to great and terrible lengths to excuse the alleged behavior, attack the credibility of only the anonymous sources with whom she disagrees, suggest that no arrests (yet) mean no wrongdoing, impugn the honor of Justice Bradley, and cast doubt on the very justice system of this state.
What? Emily makes no effort to back up that characterization of me. My posts about the Wisconsin Supreme Court are all collected here. Any fair reader can see that I'm endeavoring to understand the stories that have appeared in the press, critiquing the press, and asking a lot of sensible questions. It's not even fair to call me a "Prosser supporter," let alone assert that I've "gone to great and terrible lengths" to "excuse... attack... [and] impugn" anybody.

Emily Mills' dishonest assertions about me seem to reflect her desperation, her need to believe what she wants to believe, her reflex to plug her ears and go la la la la la. I mean, look at what I actually said.

When Bill Lueders first dropped the allegation that Prosser choked Bradley, I merely noted it and said "Hmmm." My second post linked to the presentation of the story on the lefty blog Think Progress, which was about the ways to oust Prosser from the court. I corrected the blogger (Ian Millhiser) for calling Prosser an "accused criminal" instead of a "person accused of a crime" — which is a point anyone who cares about the rights of the accused ought to find important — and I observed that we lacked the full context. I speculated about who Lueders's sources were and who would have the motivation to go to the press. And, most devastating to Mills's embarrassing statement about me, I said:
But sure. If Justice Prosser committed a criminal attack on another Justice, he shouldn't be on the court, even if he only lashed out after weeks or years of merciless bullying. 
In fact, if you search through my posts, you'll see that I've consistently said Prosser should resign if he choked Justice Bradley. I said:
I agree with Millhiser that if it's true Prosser reached a breaking point and started strangling Bradley, he should go. I doubt that's true, however, because there was no arrest. That's why we're getting the story in this unsourced, piecemeal form.
I'm struggling to figure out what went on. Yes, I do use the evidence of no arrest to suggest that Prosser didn't suddenly snap and launch into a strangling, but that doesn't mean I'm saying "no arrests (yet) mean no wrongdoing." It means — as anyone who reads that post with a calm, clear mind can see — that I'm guessing the situation was complex — and later reports confirm my guess.

That post is updated with a reference to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report citing allegations that Bradley initiated the physical aggression — charging at Prosser with fists raised. Emily Mills deserves to have her own language turned back on her: She has gone to great and terrible lengths to excuse Bradley's alleged behavior and to impugn the honor of Justice Prosser and blah blah blah. It's so easy to be a hot-headed partisan. And so risky! Because you make it so easy for someone to show what you are.

My next post on the subject goes into more detail examining the new material in the Journal Sentinel article. That post, before updates, concludes:
I want to know not only what really happened at the time of the physical contact (if any) between the 2 justices, but also who gave the original story to the press. If Prosser really tried to choke a nonviolent Bradley, he should resign. But if the original account is a trumped-up charge intended to destroy Prosser and obstruct the democratic processes of government in Wisconsin, then whoever sent the report out in that form should be held responsible for what should be recognized as a truly evil attack.
I boldfaced another sentence for you, Emily. My first update includes the material that, I think, has touched off panic in the local ideologues:
Everyone who thinks Prosser must to resign if he attacked Bradley ought to say that if Bradley attacked Prosser, she should resign.
I was calling for even-handedness and consistency. And that, I think, was what was truly "terrible" to people like Emily Mills. After the burst of enthusiasm that came with Bill Lueders's hit piece on Prosser, there came the horrible realization that the dreaded conservative governor Scott Walker might end up with the power to name a replacement for one of the liberal justices. I pointed that out — in the context of critiquing the decision to give Lueders the ability to break the story the way he did. I was trying to analyze the reasoning and motivation of the Lueders's unnamed sources.

This led to my next piece, analyzing the political reasoning behind Lueders's attack. There, I noted how the Lueders piece inspired lefty bloggers to go all out attacking Prosser in ways that will now — after the Journal Sentinel piece — be used to leverage arguments against Bradley. I repeated my statement "if it's true Prosser reached a breaking point and started strangling Bradley, he should go." And I called for principled consistency (addressing the Think Progress blogger Millhiser):
All right, Mr. Millhiser, I appeal to you. Let's be unanimous about this and show that our political system has not broken down. I agreed with you that if Prosser did what Lueders's story made it seem that he did, Prosser should resign. By your own standard, will you say that if Bradley initiated the physical aggression, running at Prosser with raised fists, that the integrity of our political system demands that there be unanimous calls for Bradley to be removed?
This is what's so scary and what — I think — is making these partisan local columnists tear into me. I'm not a pro-Prosser blogger. I'm a law professor blogger, probing with questions about neutral principles, the actual facts, and political interests. Lueders lured lefties into making statements that are now quite inconvenient, and they don't know how to get out of the corner they've written themselves into. Don't lash out at me. That's childish.

I'm asking hard questions that demand thoughtful, careful answers. It's been my job for a quarter of a century as a law professor to frame questions like that. And I'm an expert at seeing when people don't want to answer the questions. Answer the questions, I plead with my students before they take my exams. You can only get credit for answering the questions.

In my next post, I deal with a comment that Lueders left on that previous post, trying to defend himself. I continue to critique him and demand precision about the various assertions and what constitutes spin. The post after that has a similar theme, trying to figure out who Lueders's sources were. Here's another short post, wondering about who had the motivation to go to Lueders.

And that's just about all Emily Mills could have read before lashing out at me. Now, it's possible that she didn't read anything I wrote, because after the paragraph of hers I quoted above, she says:
I won't go into why Althouse's arguments are wrong -- someone has already done a far, far better job of it than I ever could -- but her writings on the matter provide a fairly good overview of what so many Prosser supporters are now arguing.
She links to some blogger's long screed about me. Emily, that's quite a confession! That's a far, far better job than you could ever do? How dare you write about me the way you did without going through my writings yourself? Did you check that blogger's work? Are you adopting the poor reading and reasoning as your own? You call me on fairness and you write about me the way you did? Aren't you even afraid for yourself, that you will look like a stupid hack? Aren't you even afraid for your liberal cause, that you have lost the very credibility you will need to defend Justice Bradley (and the Chief Justice) as the facts unfold? You need to show that you are interested in the truth, in principle, and that you will deal with the evidence and the serious questions. Why would you be so careless? It smells like desperation and panic.

I have waited nearly a day to respond to Emily Mills's embarrassing attack on me. Yesterday, Meade went over there to participate in the comments. He wrote:
Shame on you, Emily.  You assert and smear without so much as linking to her posts. You fail to cite the passages in which you claim she goes to "great and terrible lengths," "excuses," "attacks" credibility of sources (you happen to want to believe), "suggests," and "impugn[s]." You do this without linking or citing the specific words and sentences you want your readers to believe are objectionable. All because, what, because you say so?


And then you dish off the dirty work of trying to substantiate your charges to a verbose blogger whose only argument in smearing Ann Althouse relies on the notion that Justice Bradley was in fact choked - a fact that is still in dispute.

I've seen you do better, Emily.
Although Mills responded within 2 hours to the previous commenter, she has not responded to Meade, and more than 13 hours have passed. I was hoping Meade's relatively gentle push-back would have been sufficient. I don't really like slamming a young writer who could do much better. Even when I have been attacked, I don't like it. Because I feel like a teacher. I'm not a political ideologue. I don't even care that much about politics. I care about truth and the ability of human beings to reason and to interact with each other.

And I generally choose not to draw attention to attacks on me. But the statement that Emily Mills made about me simply cannot be allowed to sit there festering on the website of a newspaper — Isthmus — that is widely read in my town.

It's too much like the attack from Bill Wineke that I felt I had to respond to yesterday. Both writers are attacking me as a law professor at the University of Wisconsin. I think they would like to destroy my reputation in this town, where they so casually assume the benefits of inclusion in what is a political majority here. I think they carelessly and lazily believe that local readers will eat up the sloppy attacks they're serving, because local readers agree with their political ends.

As they rush at me from across town shaking their balled-up fists in my face, I feel I must extend my fingers in self-defense, and type out an exposé of their shoddy work for a larger audience.

CORRECTION: The writer of the column "Emily's Post" isn't "Emily Post." It's Emily Mills. I've corrected all the mistaken references to "Emily Post."

June 28, 2011

"Is there something especially morbid and sick about Wisconsin?"

I asked back in March, 2004:
As a person living in Wisconsin, I had to wonder if the book ["Wisconsin Death Trip"] was picking on us, or, no I didn't really, because there is always the out for us here in Madison to say Madison is an island of difference within the state. But I knew this film was well regarded, and when I saw yesterday that it had arrived in the mail, I immediately sat down and watched it through. It was quite beautiful and original visually and quite moving and full of fascinating characters (like Mary Sweeney, a cocaine-sniffing woman with a mania for breaking glass).

One could see the film as expressing the idea that in bad economic times, in desolate places, people go mad with despair. Or one could see it as saying that in some very specific times in very specific places, people just go off-the-scale weird.

Here's my interpretation. We tend to think of Wisconsin as a notably healthy, wholesome place. (Notice the characters in movies who say they are from Wisconsin: Annie Hall, Jack Dawson in Titanic, etc., etc.) So I am thinking: to show the dark side to Wisconsin is to say something about the dark side of humanity. This story of Black River Falls in the last decade of the nineteenth century is (as presented through the film, if not the book) a universal story of passion and violence and death and madness. 
To show the dark side to Wisconsin is to say something about the dark side of humanity.

In May 2010, someone asked me to make a list of favorite movies, and I included "Wisconsin Death Trip." In the comments:
Meade said...
I've seen 15 off your list. Of those 15, 7 were with you. I'd watch any of them with you again plus any of the ones I haven't seen yet. But don't ask me to watch "Wisconsin Death Trip" again. I found it disturbing.

Ann Althouse said...
We don't need to watch it again. We are living it, baby.

Meade said...
Ha. We are living it, baby.

"In many parts of Europe it was traditional to supply a newly married couple with enough mead for a month..."

"... ensuring happiness and fertility. From this practice we get honeymoon or, as the French say, lune de miel [lit. 'moon of honey']."

"Sounds like Wisconsin needs to clean house in its Supreme Court... the state legislature should start probing this case to determine exactly what happened..."

"... and whether the Chief Justice has conducted a leak campaign against Prosser as payback. I’d say at least one resignation is due in this case — and maybe a few of them, whatever happened. It’s doubtful that Wisconsin’s citizens can put much confidence in a court that can’t behave itself in a mature and professional manner, and especially one where such poisonous partisan and personal politics are in play."

Says Ed Morrissey.
Of course, the state legislature is conservative, so there's a question whether the legislature would have great credibility if it were to purport to delve into the facts. But what are you going to do? Right now, we've got the Dane County Sheriff investigating the matter and...
Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney... endorsed Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg in her challenge to Prosser in the April 5 election. Mahoney and Kloppenburg also use the same campaign manager, Melissa Mulliken, who has worked on many state and local campaigns.

Mahoney took over the investigation Monday at the request of Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs. Tubbs said he consulted with the court before turning over the investigation to Mahoney.
UPDATE: Mahoney says: "As the Sheriff, I have no role in the assignment of detectives and supervisors or overseeing the investigation."

"The potential fall of Ahmadinejad is a story worthy of any Persian tale..."

"... a pageant of court favouritism, abrupt firings of otherwise loyal ministers, apparent challenges to the Islamic heritage of Iran, and an acute case of political hubris by the president himself, all overshadowed by the immense power of Ayatollah Khamenei who holds the near-divine role created by the Republic's founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini."

"The beginning of Case 002 will be a cathartic moment for all Cambodians."

"While the crimes of the Khmer Rouge were committed over a quarter of a century ago, they remain ingrained in Cambodia’s collective psyche."

At the Scull Café...

... skim along.

Local journalist Bill Wineke demagogues the Wisconsin Supreme Court story... and slimes me.

This, published at channel3000, is so lame I hate to send it any traffic, but I want you to see the kind of thing that passes for mainstream media commentary in this town:
In one narrative, Bradley rushed Prosser with her fists up and Prosser managed to touch her neck while defending himself. It is, my colleagues in the press now say, a classic “he said/she said” controversy. No, it's not. It is a controversy only if Prosser's hands were nowhere near Bradley's neck. I mean, come on!
There follows a tirade about what we teach our sons about violence against women, as if, in a face to face physical encounter, the man is always wrong. So, as a woman in the work place, can I get right up in any man's face, get as angry as I want, shake my fist right by his big old glasses, and the moment he flinches, if his hand touches me, I get to shout "violence against women" and he's the one who's screwed? As a feminist, I would just love to have power like that. That's sarcasm, I hope you're not too far gone to realize.

What I want, and what I think good feminists should want, is to be treated as an equal in a sane workplace, where nobody gets in anybody's face, and nobody thinks they can taunt or threaten or hit — or choke! — anybody. Ironically, Wineke is spouting sexism. If men and women are really governed by such different standards, that would be sex discrimination. And on the whole, it would hurt the advancement of women in the workplace. We are not fragile flowers in need of old-school chivalry. If we were, it would justify discrimination.
You would tell your own son that if his hands touched the neck of a girl -- no matter what the cause -- he would be in big, big trouble. Big, big trouble.
He's right that the boy would be in trouble, but that doesn't make it obvious that the boy would always be wrong. In fact, most men are so familiar with that form of trouble that they resist responding physically to any physical aggression by a woman. It's one thing to warn a man in advance that he'd better be aware of the trouble that may follow if he's laid hands on a woman, quite another to enthuse over punishing any man who is accused. What matters is the truth.
And if your son's defense was that he wasn't trying to choke the woman but just defending himself by putting his hands around her neck? You know what you would say.

Of course, that's not what everyone says.

For example, Professor Ann Althouse, of the University of Wisconsin Law School, a distinguished, tenured, named professor on the Madison campus, published a blog entry over the weekend suggesting the real culprit here is the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism for publishing the story in the first place and for not discovering the alternative narrative.

In fact, she says, it may be Bradley who should be investigated, perhaps arrested, perhaps thrown off the bench.
He doesn't link to the post or quote it. Not surprising, considering how much he distorts it. (When did I say Bradley should be "perhaps arrested"?!) (Here's the post he didn't bother to represent with any precision. Here's my follow-up post which he also might be referring to.)

Notice the sleazy sleight of hand in that question above. He's got "your son's... hands around her neck" — not merely making contact with the neck of a woman who thrust herself into the place where he'd flung his hands defensively. Wineke is assuming a set of facts — hands around her neck — and saying in that situation, you wouldn't defend your son. Actually, there are some situations in which you clearly would defend your son, even if his hands were "around" her neck. Picture a woman larger than your son, pinning him down, choking him
Her comments are being picked up by all sorts of “conservative” blogs around the country and are surrounded by comments suggesting Prosser's only problem is that he didn't squeeze harder. 
My "comments" are "surrounded by comments"? I have a long blog post, below which are hundreds of comments that you have to click to see. These comments are not around me, like hands around a neck.

What did Wineke do, comb through the comments, looking for the meanest ones? He found many that said "Prosser's only problem is that he didn't squeeze harder"? How many? He doesn't link or quote. There are 362 comments on that first post, and I'm not finding the word "squeeze" or "harder" in any of them. And there are plenty of great comments (along with snark). Wineke shamelessly mischaracterizes the conversation he doesn't have the decency to link to. How embarrassing!
I don't blame Althouse for that, but I do kind of shudder to think we have people in this country who advocate murdering those with whom they disagree.
Oh, bullshit! No one seriously advocated murder. What, did one guy snark in bad taste? Why don't you you shudder at your own propensity to misstate what people say and mean?
But even the sane commentary on the right insists this is a two-side story and that it shouldn't be reported until a full investigation is completed.
Again, misstated! Who said nothing should be reported "until a full investigation is completed." I said that the story was obviously a snapshot of a moment in a longer incident that needed context and that Lueders looks biased and/or inept in not probing with the kinds of questions that would have turned up the more complex narrative that the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel managed to discover within a few hours after the Lueders story came out.
Who knows? Perhaps Althouse is right. If it turns out that Bradley did attack Prosser -- fists raised -- that wouldn't be very judicial.

I'll leave that question up to the official investigators. I'm still stuck on that “alternative”, the one that has Prosser raising his arms in self defense and accidentally touching Bradley's neck.

If his hands were around her throat, I don't care who charged whom. If that is the case, there are not two sides to this story.
What?  First of all, once again, you shift from "touching" her neck to "around" her neck. I've agreed all along that if Prosser throttled Bradley, he should resign. But his misdeeds wouldn't eradicate hers. If she initiated the physical aggression and behaved in the manner described in the worst version of the allegations, then she too should resign. Why would his bad action undo hers?

If women and men are equal, both are governed by the same standards of behavior.

"[E]very state but Wisconsin and Nebraska (plus Washington, D.C.) is producing many more lawyers than it needs..."

Fascinating, but there's something about Wisconsin that the NYT doesn't know! And it's not that we've (apparently) gone crazy. It's that in Wisconsin, if you graduate from a Wisconsin law school — i.e., the University of Wisconsin or Marquette — you can have the "diploma privilege," which means you can join the bar without the pesky step of taking the bar exam. So if you're going to estimate the number of lawyers entering the Wisconsin bar by looking at the number of people who passed the bar, you're going to be ludicrously off!

"More Details Emerge in Wisconsin’s ‘Chokegate.'"

A very interesting article by Christian Schneider at The National Review:
The week before the legislature was set to re-pass the collective-bargaining provision, three of the four conservative justices were ready to issue a ruling reinstating the union law as originally passed. Prosser, on the other hand, wanted to wait longer, to avoid the appearance that the court was rushing their decision through. Prosser thought he had an agreement with liberal Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson to delay release of the opinion until Tuesday of the following week.

As Monday arrived, there was no word from Abrahamson on whether the decision would be issued the next day. At 5:30 p.m., Prosser and the other conservative justices marched around the chambers, looking for Abrahamson, who was found in Justice Bradley’s office. Prosser stood outside Bradley’s door, talking to the justices in Bradley’s office. The discussion got heated, with Prosser expressing his lack of faith in Abrahamson’s ability to lead the Court.
That sounds like Schneider interviewed Prosser, but we're only told that he had "multiple sources with first-hand knowledge."
According to one witness, Bradley charged toward Prosser, shaking her clenched fist in his face. Another source says they were “literally nose to nose.” Prosser then put his hands up to push her away. As one source pointed out, if a man wants to push a woman who is facing him, he wouldn’t push her in the chest (unless he wants to face an entirely different criminal charge). Consequently, Prosser put his hands on Bradley’s shoulders to push her away, and in doing so, made contact with her neck.
At that moment, another justice approached Bradley from behind and pulled her away from Prosser, saying, “Stop it, Ann, this isn’t like you.” Bradley then shouted, “I was choked!” Another justice present replied, “You were not choked.” In a statement following the incident, Bradley maintained Prosser “put his hands around my neck in anger in a chokehold.”
On Monday night, Bradley called Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs to talk to him about the incident. On the morning of Wednesday, June 15, Tubbs joined the justices in a closed-door meeting, where he discussed “issues relating to workplace violence.”
During the meeting, Chief Justice Abrahamson actually reenacted the incident on Chief Tubbs... During her demonstration, Abrahamson emphasized that Prosser had exerted “pressure” on Bradley’s throat.
“There was no pressure,” interrupted the justice who had initially broken up the incident between Bradley and Prosser. “That’s only because you broke us apart,” shot back Bradley. This exchange led several meeting attendees to believe Bradley was making up the charge, as they took her rejoinder as an admission that there was no pressure applied to her neck.
Indeed, if we believe Bradley said "That’s only because you broke us apart" when someone pulled her back from behind, it would seem that the "pressure" that would have occurred but didn't would have been the result of her forward movement toward Prosser. That's the evidence a criminal defense lawyer would milk if there were an actual trial here.
During the Wednesday meeting, Bradley urged the justices present to take a vote on whether Prosser should be forced into anger-management counseling. The threat was implicit — if they didn’t vote her way, she would be forced to “take the next step” against Prosser, which they took to mean filing a restraining order against him. The other justices balked, wondering whether they even had the authority to order Prosser into any type of counseling. Some thought it would be “demeaning” to Prosser to have to go to counseling when he had done nothing wrong. In the end, Bradley realized she didn’t have enough justices on her side and no vote was taken.
Bizarre.  What an immense breakdown of collegiality! And given this horrible, complicated incident, why did anyone choose to incur the damage to the court's reputation by dumping it into the press? As Schneider notes, if Bradley had initiated any kind of formal criminal procedure, Prosser would have had procedural protections. Instead, "the story was leaked to the George Soros–funded Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, who used three anonymous sources to back up Bradley’s story." Who were the 3 sources? We don't know whether all (or any) of the 3 sources were eyewitnesses, but if they were, it's hard not to conclude that they were Bradley and Abrahamson. There would still need to be one more source antagonistic to Prosser. Maybe all the sources were court personnel who heard about it second hand, and the Center for Investigative Journalism based its story entirely on hearsay. I hope so.

"As a plain-vanilla candidate, Romney is never going to win the excitement primary."

"A telling moment occurred when Sarah Palin stole the spotlight by taking her bus tour to New Hampshire on the day that Romney was officially kicking off his candidacy there. He lost the battle of the headlines as the Manchester Union Leader splashed Palin on the front page and ran Romney’s announcement inside the paper. But he remains the front-runner—though his staff recoils from the term—and she remains a long-shot celebrity with high negatives."

Howard Kurtz. The article is called "Mitt Romney, Boring Genius?" I think the suggestion is not that Romney is a genius but he's boring. It's that he's a genius at being boring.

"Gov. Scott Walker said... he should have done more to prepare the public for his plan to eliminate most collective bargaining for public employees."

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:
"We had not built enough of the case" for the sweeping plan, Walker said...

"What I should have done, from a political standpoint, was build that case sooner"....

"They defined it as a rights issue," Walker said. "It's not a rights issue. It's an expensive entitlement." 
He's saying he let the other side frame the issue, and he should have gotten out in front with his framing. I know conservatives love to read Saul Alinsky and appropriate advice that was originally written to further lefty causes. Now, it sounds like Walker has been reading George Lakoff stuff about "framing":
[T[he progressive worldview is modeled on a nurturant parent family. Briefly, it assumes that the world is basically good and can be made better and that one must work toward that. Children are born good; parents can make them better. Nurturing involves empathy, and the responsibility to take care of oneself and others for whom we are responsible. On a larger scale, specific policies follow, such as governmental protection in form of a social safety net and government regulation, universal education (to ensure competence, fairness), civil liberties and equal treatment (fairness and freedom), accountability (derived from trust), public service (from responsibility), open government (from open communication), and the promotion of an economy that benefits all and functions to promote these values, which are traditional progressive values in American politics.

The conservative worldview, the strict father model, assumes that the world is dangerous and difficult and that children are born bad and must be made good. The strict father is the moral authority who supports and defends the family, tells his wife what to do, and teaches his kids right from wrong. The only way to do that is through painful discipline - physical punishment that by adulthood will become internal discipline. The good people are the disciplined people. Once grown, the self-reliant, disciplined children are on their own. Those children who remain dependent (who were spoiled, overly willful, or recalcitrant) should be forced to undergo further discipline or be cut free with no support to face the discipline of the outside world.
Lakoff pushes liberals to get their "frame" into the public's head. Walker is saying he wishes he'd pushed the conservative frame. Walker seemed to assume that people understood the problem the way he did and would — after the election — trust him to do what he thought was needed. He wasn't sufficiently into propaganda, he's essentially saying. To say that, of course, is a form of propaganda (because he's subtly flattering himself). But if the other side is aggressively propagandizing, don't you have to enter the fray and counterpropagandize? You have to keep talking to people, even when you have the power to act quietly and industriously, getting things done.

"One claim is that fracking creates cracks in rock formations that allow chemicals to leach into sources of fresh water."

"... The problem with this argument is that the average shale formation is thousands of feet underground, while the average drinking well or aquifer is a few hundred feet deep. Separating the two is solid rock."

Facts about fracking.

But frack facts, this animation is brilliant!

"Men are also at the mercy of age when it comes to having kids."

The male body constantly makes new sperm that is capable of producing a child...
... but they can contain dangerous mutations. "As men get older, maybe there is some sperm available, but a lot of that DNA may be abnormal," says Harry Fisch, author of the pioneering 2004 book "The Male Biological Clock." "After you make so many copies, the print may not be so useful."

Data are scarce on trends in paternal age, which perhaps explains why the correlation between paternal age and birth defects went undetected for so long. And, of course, "nobody likes to think that they're aging," says Dr. Fisch. "Certainly men. They were on the throne, they were the kings: 'We don't age, we stay fertile longer than women, we can have babies into our 90s....' Men live in denial."
Don't be cocky.

"The Brotherhood is tyrannical in its opinions and views..."

"... and I think they will take the side of the Islamist businessmen who fund it and have strict Islamic ideologies."

"Wait, I thought they were misunderstood moderates?"

"Weiner is trying to insert himself..."

"... back into politics...."

IN THE COMMENTS: David writes:
And politics says: "That's enough, Anthony. Roll over and go back to sleep. I need some rest."

Anthony lies still for 10 minutes, then gets up, and tiptoes to his den. The computer is in sleep mode, but it awakens at his touch, just for him. He bites his lip as the screen bathes his hard but aging body in sallow light. A salty prick of blood flows from the lip. It's going to be a good night after all.

June 27, 2011

At the Teabag Café...


... or do you want to call it the Coffee Teahouse? Well, you can say whatever you want in the comments. This is just a picture from the pro-Walker singalong at the Capitol today. This man with the pink posters is protesting the singalong. The signs say: "Teabag anthem/I want to be a singer to give freedom the finger" and "Teabag anthem/I am woman hear me roar/Cast me choked upon the floor." He looks quite serious, don't you think?

Blagojevich convicted on 17 charges of corruption.

"Two agencies are investigating a claim by Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley that Justice David Prosser put her in a chokehold earlier this month..."

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:
The separate probes are being run by the Dane County Sheriff's Office and the Wisconsin Judicial Commission, which oversees the state's judicial ethics code. The sheriff's investigation was launched Monday; the commission's was authorized Friday and publicly acknowledged Monday.

"After consulting with members of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, I have turned over the investigation into an alleged incident in the court's offices on June 13, 2011, to Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney," Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs said in a statement....

It was not clear why Tubbs would consult with members of the court on who should investigate the matter.

The pro-Walker singalong at the Wisconsin Capitol today.

Isthmus columnist David Blaska set up a conservative singalong for the Capitol rotunda, which is usually occupied at this time by an anti-Walker (pro-union) group of singers. This video shows you what they sang, then goes outside and encounters the anti-Walker singers. I took this video. The man you see at the end is Meade, and the apt song line at the end was just a coincidence.

One of the participants is Tricia Willoughby, the 14-year-old girl who was booed and heckled by protesters at the Tea Party rally here at the Capitol last April. You see her at 0:21, 4:22 and a few other places.

Here's Blaska's post about today's event:
That was the Blaska Bloggers’ first annual Capitol Rotunda conservative sing-along. Fifty folks off all ages and sizes showed up to sing....
There's a picture of Meade and me with Blaska at the link. Meade participated. I observed and too pictures.

At 3:01, a man up on the 1st floor — probably and anti-Walker guy — asks the group to sing "This Land Is Your Land," and there's a bit of a pause, and then they sing "The Marine Hymn." That's an interesting left-wing/right-wing incident!

"[D]o you think that a woman like Bradley, who seriously considered calling the cops because Prosser used a profanity about another justice..."

"... would not call the cops if she was the victim of an unprovoked, physical assault in front of witnesses?"

Asks Darleen at Protein Wisdom, noting that Bradley is "now upping the ante by specifically alleging to the press that, Prosser put her in a 'choke hold.'"

I would truly like to know who made the decision to go public with this accusation. Was it one of the judges or someone lower down, with less awareness of the mess it would make, like a law clerk or summer intern?

In the violent video games case, Scalia notes the irony of Alito's strenuous effort to describe the "astounding" violence.

From the majority opinion in the just-decided case of Brown, Governor of California v. Entertainment Merchants Association:
JUSTICE ALITO has done considerable independent research to identify, see post, at 14–15, nn. 13–18, video games in which “the violence is astounding,” post, at 14. “Victims are dismembered, decapitated, disemboweled, set on fire, and chopped into little pieces. . . . Blood gushes, splatters, and pools.” Ibid. JUSTICE ALITO recounts all these disgusting video games in order to disgust us—but disgust is not a valid basis for restricting expression. And the same is true of JUSTICE ALITO’s description, post, at 14–15, of those video games he has discovered that have a racial or ethnic motive for their violence—“‘ethnic cleansing’ [of] . . . African Americans, Latinos, or Jews.” To what end does he relate this? Does it somehow increase the “aggressiveness” that California wishes to suppress? Who knows? But it does arouse the reader’s ire, and the reader’s desire to put an end to this horrible message. Thus, ironically, JUSTICE ALITO’s argument highlights the precise danger posed by the California Act: that the ideas expressed by speech—whether it be violence, or gore, or racism—and not its objective effects, may be the real reason for governmental proscription.
The Court strikes down a California law that prohibits the sale or rental of "violent video games" to minors. The statute defined violent games in a way that "mimics the New York statute regulating obscenity-for-minors that we upheld in Ginsberg v. New York." But sex and violence are different: "obscenity is not protected expression" under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. California was trying "to create a wholly new category of content-based regulation that is permissible only for speech directed at children." "That is unprecedented and mistaken," the Court says today.
California’s argument would fare better if there were a longstanding tradition in this country of specially restricting children’s access to depictions of violence, but there is none. Certainly the books we give children to read—or read to them when they are younger—contain no shortage of gore. Grimm’s Fairy Tales, for example, are grim indeed. As her just deserts for trying to poison Snow White, the wicked queen is made to dance in red hot slippers “till she fell dead on the floor, a sad example of envy and jealousy.” The Complete Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales 198 (2006 ed.). Cinderella’s evil stepsisters have their eyes pecked out by doves. Id., at 95. And Hansel and Gretel (children!) kill their captor by baking her in an oven. Id., at 54.
I was reading that out loud here at Meadhouse, and somebody said: "The Supreme Court needs spoiler alerts!" 
High-school reading lists are full of similar fare. Homer’s Odysseus blinds Polyphemus the Cyclops by grinding out his eye with a heated stake. The Odyssey of Homer, Book IX, p. 125 (S. Butcher & A. Lang transls. 1909) (“Even so did we seize the fiery-pointed brand and whirled it round in his eye, and the blood flowed about the heated bar. And the breath of the flame singed his eyelids and brows all about, as the ball of the eye burnt away, and the roots thereof crackled in the flame”). In the Inferno, Dante and Virgil watch corrupt politicians struggle to stay submerged beneath a lake of boiling pitch, lest they be skewered by devils above the surface. Canto XXI, pp. 187–189 (A. Mandelbaum transl. Bantam Classic ed. 1982). And Golding’s Lord of the Flies recounts how a schoolboy called Piggy is savagely murdered by other children while marooned on an island. W. Golding, Lord of the Flies 208–209 (1997 ed.).
That Homer passage still grosses people out. Even after all the horrible movies and video games they've witnessed.

Alito, by the way, does not dissent. (Remember he was the lone dissenter in the Phelps case, showing the most empathy for sensitive people brutalized by ugly expression.) He thinks that "the experience of playing a video game may be quite different from the experience of reading a book, listening to a radio broadcast, or viewing a movie," and he'd prefer to put off the more difficult free speech questions and  "hold only that the particular law at issue here fails to provide the clear notice that the Constitution requires." That would leave room for legislatures to craft better laws designed to protect minors.

ADDED: The 2 dissenting opinions come from Justices Thomas and Breyer. Thomas relies on originalism: "the founding generation" didn't think First Amendment free speech included a right "to speak to minors (or a right of minors to access speech) without going through the minors’ parents or guardians." I haven't had the chance to read the entire opinion, but I can see that it contains some detailed discussion about the history of ideas about children. I'll leave that for another post.

Justice Breyer's dissenting opinion reject the facial challenge to the law. He says the "case is ultimately less about censorship than it is about education."
Our Constitution cannot succeed in securing the liberties it seeks to protect unless we can raise future generations committed cooperatively to mak­ing our system of government work.... Sometimes, children need to learn by making choices for themselves. Other times, choices are made for children—by their parents, by their teachers, and by the people acting democratically through their governments.

Anti-Walker chanting, Green Bay style... plus: a mini-stampede.

Yesterday in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Governor Scott Walker was signing the budget repair bill inside Fox Valley Metal-Tech building, while anti-Walker protesters lined the street outside. My edit of Meade's video highlights the difficulty getting a good chant going and — beginning at 2:34 — the crowd movement and mini-stampede that occurs when they think they see Walker leaving the building.

Chris Wallace throws a softball question at Michelle Bachmann, then is bullied into apologizing...

... and Bachmann won't even accept the apology!

When did people become so humorless? Wallace — who seems like a sweetheart — asked "Are you a flake?" Obviously, he was saying, in a cute and pithy way A lot of people would like to portray you as some kind of flake: What do you have to say to them?

It was an easy set up for her to attack those people who say things like that. Why pillory Wallace?

Here's the video of him apologizing. Bachmann's response (at the link above) was: "I think that it's insulting to insinuate that a candidate for president is less than serious." Is it insulting to insinuate that a candidate for President is too serious. Lighten up, Michelle.

UPDATE: Bachmann later accepts the apology, explaining that initially she had not heard from him personally. There was just that video. Later, he called and she was "happy to accept" the apology.

"Girls as young as one are being forced into sex change operations in India by parents desperate for a son."

"Surgeons in the city of Indore are reported to be 'converting' hundreds of girls a year, who are subsequently pumped full of hormone drugs."

"If it's Kansas, Missouri, no big deal. You know, that's the dance of the low-sloping foreheads. The middle places, right?"

It's NYT columnist David Carr, saying something aloud on Bill Maher's show the other day. I thought I'd better nail that down here because "low-sloping foreheads" is obviously already a big meme. It's the cool new way to say "flyover states."

And, to save you the trouble of trying to remember it and look it up, here's David Carr's 2008 NYT Magazine telling the story of his crackhead past.
Every addict is formed in the crucible of the memory of that first hit. Even as the available endorphins attenuate, the memory is right there. By 1985, I tried freebasing coke and its more prosaic sibling, crack.

“Crackhead” is an embarrassing line item to have on a résumé. If meth tweakers had not come along and made a grab for the crown — meth makes you crazy and toothless — crackheads would be at the bottom of the junkie org chart. In the beginning, smokable cocaine fills you with childlike wonder, a feeling that the carnival had come to town and chosen your cranium as the venue for its next show. There is only one thing that appeals after a hit of crack, and it is not a brisk walk around the block to clear one’s head. Most people who sample it get a sense of its lurid ambush and walk away.

Many years later, my pal Donald sat in a cabin in Newport, Minn., staring into a video camera I had brought and recalling the crackhead version of me.
Have a little pity on the poor man, even as he's disparaging other people's heads. Remember he has disparaged his own head.

"I'm not sure who makes me laugh more: the Rock....or the guy at the back of the log boat."

"I vote for the guy in the back. A lesser known member of the Rock's entourage."

Via Throwing Things, commenting on "Things I enjoyed during our viewing of Cars 2 more than the movie itself," and all I can say is that if there really is a 3D Morgan Freeman dolphin movie coming, let's hop in the log boat with the Rock and get out of here.

Blaska attempts to extract details from Lueders about his unnamed sources in the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Blaska's at the Isthmus, where Lueders worked for 25 years before moving on to the mysterious outfit that calls itself the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism.

Blaska asked Lueders about his “three knowledgeable sources” who supposedly had to remain unnamed to "maintain their professional relationships." Blaska said that his "inescapable conclusion" was that they were Justice Ann Walsh Bradley, Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson, "and their liberal court ally, Justice Patrick Crooks."

Lueders replied:
The sources are people we considered reliable. We very carefully represented that they alleged certain events. They did. Justice Bradley has now made the same allegation in her comments to the Journal Sentinel. Your ‘inescapable conclusion’ is incorrect. Beyond that I have nothing more to say.
It's like a logic puzzle, isn't it? It's like in "Clue" when you make an accusation like Mr. Green with the lead pipe in the conservatory. You check the secret cards, and it's the wrench, not the lead pipe, but you were right about Mr. Green and the conservatory. You slip the cards back into the little black envelope and tell the other players you were wrong. They don't know how wrong.

By the way, Blaska is making noises about a singalong in the Capitol today to rival the "Solidarity Singers who have been singing sad songs of dissent in the Capitol Rotunda for at least four months now." But for some reason, he thinks he needs a permit, and so — like that silent majority march the other day — he's proposing a silent demonstration:
Be there at 11:45 a.m. Bring your sheet music -- make 10 copies -- and signs (sans sticks). I’ll do likewise. We’ll stand silently in a group in the middle of the singers -- unless they have a permit for that day -- holding our pro-Walker signs but saying nothing. My sign will read “Can we have our Capitol back?”
What songs would the conservatives sing (if they could get permission)?
I’m thinking songs like “God Bless America,” the theme to the Flintstones, Gilligan’s Island and -- in honor of wheelchair-bound patriot Dave Zien, "Born to be Wild!" Sunny Schubert suggests the Beatles’ “Taxman.” 
Yeah, conservatives should show up and celebrate the signing of the budget bill, the momentous event that occurred yesterday. Maybe you didn't notice. It was overshadowed by the gigantic turd Lueders felt moved to drop at exactly that moment.

June 26, 2011

The protest today in Green Bay as Scott Walker signed the budget bill.

New Media Meade was there, not inside for the signing ceremony, but outside photographing the crowd of about 300 protesters. He brought home a lot of stills and video. Here's one:


This one is impressively up-to-date with "Walker: Take the 'Prosser-hold' off Wisconsin":






Lueders responds to my post about him, saying "We absolutely did not have information about an alternative version that we purposely withheld."

"When we became aware of this alternative version. we included it. We further updated the piece to reflect that Justice Bradley has refuted this alternative version as 'spin.'"

I respond in an update at the original post. The point of this post is: 1. To direct you there, 2. To give you a fresh place to comment, and 3. To pull that particular quote for the purpose of highlighting its passivity and lack of curiosity.

"When we became aware of this alternative version. we included it." Is that investigative journalism? Aren't you supposed to think critically, generate questions, and probe — not sit back and wait for further information to arrive and then let us know when you "become aware" of it? You should seek awareness.  The story you passed on was bizarre on its face. You don't even need to be an investigative journalist to have a lot of questions about it.

Me, I'm always suspicious about things that don't look right... even that period after "alternative version."

ADDED: Rereading Lueders's vague comment the next morning makes me want to be especially clear about what we know about the questions I asked in my original post. The key question that framed the post was: How many sources, total, spoke to Lueders and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel? Both spoke of having 3 sources, but since all were unnamed, we never knew whether there was overlap, and so there could have been as many as 6 or as few as 3. With Bradley later making a statement by name, we may now have 7 sources, but the total number may still be as few as 3. I still don't know whether the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel got more detail from individuals to whom Lueders spoke or whether it turned up sources that Lueders couldn't get a response from, and Lueders does not say.

Lueders wrote in his comment on my post:
We had as reported "at least three" sources for the statement that Prosser allegedly put his hands around Bradley's neck. We also spoke to others who declined to give any information about what occurred. No one said or suggested in any way, shape or form that Bradley was the aggressor, a charge that Prosser himself has not made. 
No one said... but did Lueders probe with questions? What was the political affiliation of the sources? Did they have a motivation to present incomplete facts? Did Lueders share that motivation? That would explain the failure to probe with the obvious questions that spring immediately to the ordinary reader's mind. Lueders just says that they didn't come forward spontaneously with any allegations that made Bradley look bad, they didn't suggest anything, and that was good enough for Lueders, the supposed investigative reporter.

Lueders notes that Prosser has refrained from making a specific allegation about Bradley, but Prosser did say the charge against him would be shown false. It's true, as Lueders says that Prosser hasn't specifically alleged that Bradley was the aggressor, but if you look closely at Lueders's comment, you can see that he doesn't have Bradley specifically denying that she charged at him with fists raised. He only says that she "ridiculed the contention that this was somehow her fault" and that the story was "spin." The word "spin" reflects an opinion about how people are characterizing the facts. It's not an apt way to deny the facts. Calling something spin is itself spin. And ridiculing the idea that one is at fault is also a characterization of the facts rather than an assertion of facts. That is, it's spin.

At this point, Bradley and Prosser have done the same thing: claimed innocence with respect to facts that unnamed sources have supplied.