August 6, 2011

Driving in Colorado and crossing the Mississippi from Iowa into Wisconsin.

Blogging from a McDonald's in Charles City, Iowa.

We're almost home, having left Denver yesterday at 10:30 p.m. Mountain Time. We drove through the night, smoothly taking turns driving and sleeping.

I put up that "Airplane Sunset Café" last night to give readers a place talk while we were off line and on the road. I didn't think I was revealing anything about where we were, but FedkaTheConvict showed up and said:
KAPA Centennial Airport, about 20 miles southeast of Denver. I've flown into that airport countless times and the view is unmistakeable.
Ha. And here I was trying to hide that we were away. But we're almost home now, and I'll have some Colorado pictures soon. I mean, I've already posted some, closeups of flowers, and no one went all FedkaTheConvict on me and said Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, Vail, Colorado. The view is unmistakeable.

Here's one mountain pic, the view from above Beaver Creek:



"Obama is not a flaccid Jimmy Carter... He is instead a Franklin Delano Roosevelt -- but a bizarro FDR."

David Sirota strains to understand and characterize the President.
In forging such bipartisan complicity with what were once exclusively right-wing Republican objectives, Obama has achieved even more than what he fantasized about when he famously celebrated a previous bizarro FDR. In an illustrative 2008 interview with a Nevada newspaper, Obama lauded Ronald Reagan for "chang[ing] the trajectory of America" and "put[ting] us on a fundamentally different path."

Reagan was a truly strong executive -- but the Gipper was nothing compared to our current president.
Got that, wingers?

Taliban shoot down helicopter and kill "30 Americans, most of them belonging to the same elite unit as the Navy SEALs who killed... bin Laden."

"It was the deadliest single loss for American forces in the decade-old war against the Taliban."

"Meanwhile, I have to say that I care less and less about law reviews."

"Increasingly it feels to me like the article is published when it’s posted on SSRN, and the actual publication in a law review later seems kind of anticlimactic. Based on casual conversation, I’d say that a lot of other legal academics feel the same way. I still submit to law reviews, but I wonder if that will be true in five years."

Instapundit says.

"Widener Law School goes Soviet, demands law professor undergo psychiatric evaluation."

The continuing saga of Lawrence Connell, who "was vindicated on a wide range of charges," but found to have violated a policy against "retaliation" for the way he responded to the accusations that had been made against him — for defending himself. The remedy sought by Widener Law School Dean Linda Ammons?
Professor Connell will undergo a psychological evaluation by a psychiatrist or psychologist of his choice selected from a list of four individuals provided to him by the University. The purpose of this evaluation will be to determine his fitness for his teaching position, particularly in view of his retaliatory response to the student complaints lodged against him.... Professor Connell will comply with all conditions and recommendations issued by the psychiatrist/psychologist, including, without limitation, appropriate counseling and anger management, prior to the lifting of the suspension and his return to teaching duties. Not earlier than sixty (60) days prior to the end of the term of Professor Connell’s one year suspension, his psychiatrist/psychologist must send to the Dean and Vice Dean an evaluation assessing Professor Connell’s fitness to return to duties, completion of courses or training, if applicable, and a follow-up treatment plan. if any.
Plus he's supposed to apologize.

ADDED: David Bernstein withdraws from "a Widener-sponsored project," saying "I can’t in good conscience have my reputation associated in any way with Widener Law School."

"He made a big mistake, but really somewhere in his heart he (is) funny, lovable, caring and a great father."

"Everybody in my family ... is giving him a second chance... Will you?"

Said the 11-year old boy whose father tortured him:

He ripped the pre-teen's clothes off, beat him with a spatula and burned both his hands on a hot stove.

With the skin peeling from Christopher's hands, his father then punched the naked kid in the face and forced the screaming boy into the oven.

"I'm going to burn you alive!" he howled, according to law enforcement sources.

Moss eventually relented and let Christopher out of the oven - only to throw the nude child with the burned hands into the front yard.

When he let the injured boy inside, Christopher was ordered to sit on the floor "like a dog," court documents show.

But the boy cuddled with his father inside the courtroom before taking the witness stand to plead for his dad's release.

"Dear judge, I will fight so hard (for) my dad to live with me," the little boy began.
The judge gave the man "four months of weekends in jail and five years probation" instead of a 7-year sentence. 

"It was an absolute bloodbath."

The stock market.

"Why, then, is [John] Marin so underappreciated by the art-world elite?"

Asks Terry Teachout:
The standard explanation is that even though he marched to the edge of abstraction, it seems never to have occurred to him to turn his back on the visible world. "The sea that I paint may not be the sea," he wrote, "but it is a sea — not an abstraction." After the rise of Abstract Expressionism in the 1940s, his deep-rooted belief in representation came to be seen as old-fashioned, even quaint.

But there may be a deeper reason. Americans have long had an equivocal relationship with their own art.... To this day there is a noticeable reluctance on the part of native-born art lovers to admit that a quintessentially American composer like Aaron Copland might actually be great, or that a stage actor need not have an English accent to perform the plays of Shakespeare or Stoppard. Could it be that the reputation of Mr. Marin, whose subject matter is as American as his briskly improvisational brushwork, suffers from our nagging sense of cultural inferiority?
I think Marin was originally overrated, and he's just not that good. Check out some images if you don't know the work.

August 5, 2011

At the Airplane Sunset Café...


... you can land here for the night.

At the Wisconsin State Fair: A man shouts "sic semper tyrannis" at Governor Scott Walker.

Captured by the MacIver News Service:

Back in February, I caught that phrase on a protester's sign:

The problem of absentee voting in the Wisconsin recall elections.

If any of the elections in the next 2 weeks are close, I think we'll be hearing a lot about the students sending in ballots from out of state.
“The absentee ballot provisions are there for permanent residents, to make sure those otherwise occupied have the ability to cast a vote in elections where they live,” said State Senator Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend). “A dorm contract that expires in May or a lease that begins in September does not qualify you to vote on August 9. The law is not there to simply make things easy to cheat.”
Summer elections are unusual around here.

"Point 'em out, knock 'em out."

"Police have said a number of the recent attempted muggings and muggings in the city this summer are being committed by young men engaged in a strategy called 'point 'em out, knock 'em out,' where a victim is singled out by the muggers then attacked."

The city is Madison, Wisconsin.

ADDED: Meanwhile, at the Wisconsin State Fair (near Milwaukee):
Police said the group of young people attacked fairgoers who were leaving the fair grounds. Police said that some victims were attacked while walking. They said others were pulled out of cars and off of motorcycles before being beaten.

"Students Urged to Sell Kidneys to Repay Student Loans."


At the Pink Poppy Café...


... I haven't disappeared from the face of the internet. Talk about whatever you like. I'll have some posts for you soon.

August 4, 2011

"Stocks plunged, driving the Dow Jones Industrial Average down more than 300 points..."

"... as investors appeared to lose faith in the ability of the world's policy-makers to revive the global economy and stave off a rolling debt crisis in Europe... Investors across the globe have been buffeted by economic and political turmoil in recent days. In the U.S., fears have turned from worries about a possible default by the U.S. government to a weakening economic outlook."
"You've got a weak economy, the aversion of a debt crisis but not a solution, and you've got the rest of the globe starting to implode in a lot of areas, especially Europe," said Barry James, president and chief executive of the James Advantage Funds. "It's natural that people would react with fear."
Wall Street Journal.

"Ice? I don’t hate ice."

"It’s just that when these Americans hand you a can from the freezer, and it is already so cold that just touching it practically turns your hand into a claw, I don’t really see the need to add ice."

Are we Americans too into the cold, or is it the rest of the world that has a problem? Or just the Russians?

"KFC leaves Fiji amid crumbs row."

Perplexing headline of the day. It's "row" as in dispute, and Kentucky Fried Chicken is having a row in Fiji that involves, literally, crumbs. Often people fight over figurative crumbs. "We're fighting over crumbs!" — meaning there's little left to fight over. But KFC uses real crumbs in the making of the famous chicken, and it thinks the treatment it's getting from Fiji is... crummy.

At the Water Iris Café...


... you're in a place where you can talk about whatever you want.

"Ann — Every day, I see Barack make choices he knows will affect every American family."

"That's no small task for anyone — and more proof that he's earning every last one of those gray hairs. This has been a busy week in Washington, but today happens to be Barack's 50th birthday...."

Michelle emails me. The subject line is "Gray hairs." Don't you see? That gray hair? He's gone gray for us.

Anybody who runs for President is committing to working extremely hard and getting old at a faster rate than they would if they'd refrained from volunteering to work on all our problems all the time for 4 years. We the people are more concerned with whether we like your work product. You can't really get any pity for pointing to your graying hair. We're a pitiless bunch, because you stepped up to the big job and there's too much at stake.

But happy birthday, anyway, Mr. President.

69% of Americans think scientists may have falsified some of their global warming research.

According to Rassmussen:
[A] national telephone survey of American Adults shows that 69% say it’s at least somewhat likely that some scientists have falsified research data in order to support their own theories and beliefs, including 40% who say this is Very Likely. Twenty-two percent (22%) don’t think it’s likely some scientists have falsified global warming data, including just six percent (6%) say it’s Not At All Likely. Another 10% are undecided.
How likely is it that the scientists will admit they are partly responsible for this public opinion?
Very likely
Somewhat likely
Not at all likely free polls

The News in Beehives.

1. "Lochearnhead beehive thieves strike again."

2. "Bees are ingenious at cooling their hives down."

3. "Amy Winehouse, the talented and troubled singer who died last week in her London apartment... did her own thing. She worked a flamboyant retro look that embodied a reckless rocker style – the beehive, the eyeliner and the attitude were strongly influenced by Ronnie Spector (known as the original bad girl of rock ‘n’ roll) from the popular ’60s girl group The Ronettes – and established her signature look."

4. "[S]ome chefs are... installing rooftop beehives. The idea appears to be mainly to give the ailing bee population a boost... While obtaining honey isn’t [chef Bill Clarke's] chief objective, he has some ideas for where it might go, including a honey ice cream and a honey and peach-glazed chicken."

5. Sarah Palin's "hairstyle is set to bring fresh attention to her Alaskan home town. The high-volume do, similar to a 1960s beehive look, is the inspiration for a new TLC reality show, Big Hair Alaska. The two-part programme will focus on the appropriately named hair salon, Beehive, which is responsible for Ms Palin's signature up-do."

6. And here's a bonus, non-news, I-can't-resist reference to "My Dinner With Andre" — Andre describes an experimental theater exercise called a "beehive"...

Another politician resigns after texting a naked picture of himself.

It's some nobody in New Jersey. Seriously, who cares? Oh, but this is what we're doing now, expecting an elected official to step down because he crossed the Weiner line.
[Louis] Magazzu, a 53-year-old lawyer who had been an elected county official for more than a decade, apologized to his friends, family and constituents in a statement, but indicated he had been set up.

"I did not know that she was working with an avowed political enemy to distribute these pictures," Magazzu said of the Chicago woman he corresponded with online with for several years but claims he never met. "I have retained counsel to determine what laws may have been broken by the unauthorized distribution of those pictures."
Hey, you already resigned. What are you going to do with that lawyer? Bring on the copyright and tort lawsuits!

I'll quote Dan Savage again:
He didn't do anything with his dick, phone, and internet access that millions of his fellow Americans aren't also doing.... This is part of the new normal, people, just another one of the ways technology is impacting and shaping our lives....
It's obviously not the new normal yet. We're in this halfway position, where millions of Americans are doing something, but America as a culture maintains the staunch opinion that it's completely disgusting and anyone who does it should driven from his job and ostracized unless he goes through a public abasement ritual.

Comparing April 4th and August 3d results on my "Will Obama be re-elected?" poll.

Maybe some of you noticed that the poll yesterday was a repeat of a poll I did last April.

In April, the results were 38% yes, 62% no (with 5,519 votes). Yesterday, it was 25% yes, 75% no (with 2,478 voting).

Obviously, the poll is unscientific, but for what it's worth, that's 13 points of slippage for Obama in 4 months. Note that the poll was asking readers only to predict what will happen, not to say what they want to happen.

August 3, 2011

Will Obama be reelected?

Assume you must make a $1,000 bet on the outcome of the 2012 presidential election. You have to bet right now, and you have a $1,000 stake in getting this right, so this has nothing to do with whether you want him to win.

Will Obama be re-elected?
No. free polls

ADDED: Vote count, noted August 26, 2012:

 Will Obama be re-elected?
Selection Votes 
Yes. 26%1,127 
No. 74%3,237 
4,364 votes total

"I think, frankly, he’s in over his head as to what to do about this economy."

Cantor on Obama.

"Unlike their Chinese and Indian counterparts, who cannot legally offer sex selection..."

"... American doctors are left to decide on a case-by-case basis whether to perform these procedures, without any consistent ethical guidelines. The reasons American women undergo them are complex, from situations that don't seem particularly troubling (the upper-middle-class woman who wants a daughter to 'balance out' her three boys) to those that are deeply concerning (the immigrant woman who wants a son to avoid emotional abuse by her in-laws)."

From a Slate article by Surnita Puri.

"Scenes from Surrendered Homes."


I love this small house, plunked down in the desert near Death Valley...

... but an astounding sentence appears at slide #4 of the slide show:
The house has no air-conditioning; a ceiling fan hangs overhead.
Exposed like that — with no shade — in a very hot desert? It's beautiful, but unless you've devised some sort of spiritual practice out of enduring heat, why would anyone choose to live like that?

At the Blue Flower Café...


... look alive!

"I let my mind wander, watching my cigarette's ember eat to my fingertips."

That Isthmus article we were talking about when it came out on paper last week is now on line.

I thought you should know. In case you needed to brood. About Wisconsin.

And everything.

"He's got the bunny outfit, a cowboy suit and a ballerina dress..."

"... but you don't see him except where he's tripping through his backyard... He's got a strange lifestyle at home but we all do weird things at home."

"Man goes to hospital with stomach ache, gets uterus removed."

"Needless to say, he was 'stunned.' Especially since he's all man on the outside and had even fathered two children. He 'has no problems whatsoever with his sexuality,' according to Dr. Pramod Kumar Shrivastava, a surgeon at Chhindwara district hospital, who spoke to The Telegraph about the case."

And the new Barbra Streisand is... Lauren Ambrose!

So... they're doing a big Broadway revival of the pretty decent musical "Funny Girl," the show that launched Barbra Streisand:
“Lauren was the only person I saw with the deepest acting skills, the capacity to sing everything in this role and an emotional richness that really worked for Fanny at all ages,” [director Bartlett] Sher said, noting that “Funny Girl” is told largely in flashbacks. “It was a wonderful surprise. She wasn’t honestly a front-runner for the part until she called me, asked to audition and came in and blew us all away.” Mr. Sher had directed Ms. Ambrose in the 2006 Broadway revival of “Awake and Sing!”
Cool! Ambrose played Claire on "Six Feet Under," and I'm not sure if she ever sang in that part, but back in 2004, I heard her sing "God Bless the Child" on the old Isaac Mizrahi show and I was blown away.

"A Minnesota school district allowed a homecoming event called 'Wigger Day'..."

"... 'during which students wore clothes and behaved in a manner that 'from their perspective, mimicked black culture,' according to a federal class action lawsuit..."

This wasn't an official school event, but something the students did, using Facebook to get the word out (apparently). The allegation is that the school should have intervened.

There are 1,889 comments over there at that HuffPo piece. I didn't read them all, but my impression is that people disapprove of this lawsuit.

"Capitol balloon popper charged with disorderly conduct while armed."

The Wisconsin State Journal reports:
Ronald J. Blair, 56, of Jefferson, told police that he hadn't intended to pop a balloon that was held by protester Leslie Peterson on July 25 but that he snapped and "it just happened," according to a criminal complaint filed in Dane County Circuit Court....

[Blair told Peterson] he was tired of retrieving balloons from the Capitol....

At the Anniversary Café...


... celebrate with us as we begin Year 3.

Earlier: August 3, 2009, August 3, 2010.

"If it’s supposed to be chaos, then mission accomplished."

"Unfocussed. Seems like a mishmash at best. You’ve got creatures that can speak but aren’t smart (parrots). Then, You’ve got creatures that are smart but can’t speak (dolphins, dogs, houseflies). Then, You’ve got man, who is smart and can speak but who can’t fly, breathe underwater, or unhinge his jaws to swallow large prey in one gulp. If it’s supposed to be chaos, then mission accomplished. But it seems more like laziness and bad planning."

God's blog.

Wow. Just wow. I don’t even know where to start. So the man and his buddy the rib-thing have dominion over everything. They’re going to get pretty unbearable really fast. What You need to do is make them think that there were other, bigger, scarier creatures around a long time before them. I suggest dinosaurs. No need to actually create dinosaurs—just create some weird-ass dinosaur bones and skeletons and bury them in random locations. Man will dig them up eventually and think, What the f?
Is this humor from The New Yorker funny?
Great if you're not religious, otherwise: awful.
Funny for the religious and the non-religious alike.
Amusing for (some) religious folk, pretty stupid to anyone else.
The humor depends more on whether routine internet-related stuff still tickles you.
Bad. Just bad. For anyone with or without a brain. With or without a God. free polls

The St. Louis Cardinals complain of "gamesmanship by the Brewers in the form of manipulating video boards behind home plate."

Is this a serious issue or a pathetic whine?

Here's Milwaukee-based coverage of the issue (in the Journal Sentinel):
Apparently, the Cardinals were unhappy about lighting inconsistencies with the ribbon board that surrounds the stands above the loge level. The insinuation was that the home plate area was darker when they were batting than when the Brewers were batting....

There have been whispers at times about possible cheating by the Brewers at home because they have been so much better at Miller Park than on the road. They are 40-14 at home, the best winning percentage in the majors, and only 21-35 on the road....

When told about that suspicion, Brewers rightfielder Corey Hart said, "Why did we wait until the fifth inning to do it? I was 0 for 2 by then."

"If we were really domestic terrorists, shoot, President Obama would be wanting to pal around with us wouldn’t he?"

"I mean he didn’t have a problem with paling around with Bill Ayers back in the day when he kicked off his political career in Bill Ayers apartment, and shaking hands with Chavez and saying he doesn’t need any preconditions with meeting dictators or wanting to read US Miranda rights to alleged suspected foreign terrorists. No if we were real domestic terrorists I think President Obama wouldn’t have a problem with us."

Sarah Palin, via Instapundit, who adds:
Heh. And the ATF would be helping you smuggle guns. . . .

Tea Party Express and Tea Party Nation come to Wisconsin to help the GOP recall candidates.

CNN reports:
Kicking off their four-day "Restoring Common Sense" tour Friday, Tea Party Nation and Tea Party Express will hold rallies in multiple cities and defend Republicans who supported Gov. Scott Walker's controversial bill that curbed collective bargaining rights for state employees earlier this year....
Here's the tour schedule. I wonder how helpful these outfits really are for these particular candidates. Do they know enough about Wisconsinites, or are they trading on our event to put on their show?

August 2, 2011

"Tommy Thompson is IN" — running for the Senate seat Herb Kohl is about to get up out of.

Says David Blaska, who used to work for Thompson.
My old mentor will have beaucoup de competition in the Republican primary for Herb Kohl’s U.S. Senate seat this time around. He can bring in boatloads of national cash, name I.D. up the wazoo, and residual good will. Question: Will he be outflanked from the Right and if so, by whom?
I vividly remember hearing Thompson say, a year ago, that he shouldn't be the one to challenge Russ Feingold:
Thompson took a lot of credit for his work as Governor and claimed to have instituted many of the Tea Party values. But, he said, it's time for a new generation to take over, and, besides, he promised his family...
Ron Johnson accomplished the task of defeating Feingold. Now, looking at an empty seat, Thompson no longer wants to leave things to the younger generation? Why not?

A "men in shorts" atrocity.

Presented as good, by The Sartorialist.

At the Drowned Lollipop Café...


... let's put an end to all our sorrows.

ADDED: Commenters think this message sounds suicidal. Not at all! You drown your sorrows. It's just a phrase to go along with a submerged lollipop. The café posts are just open threads, and the message is intended to be a riff on the photograph that essentially says: Go ahead and talk about anything you want.

"Perhaps it would be helpful to imagine me as the White Rock girl..."

"... kneeling on a boulder in a nightgown, either looking for minnows or adoring her own reflection."

That's the last sentence of the preface to Kurt Vonnegut's "Welcome to the Monkey House." He's purporting to explain himself, writing in a style that appeals to me more than anything I've read in a long time. Here's the White Rock girl, by the way. Here's Vonnegut.

He's saying that in response to The New Yorker magazine saying that one of his books was "a series of narcissistic giggles."

ADDED: Here's one of the essays that appears in the "Monkey House" collection — one of the 3 things I read in the middle of the night last night. It's a 1966 review of the Random House Dictionary of the English Language, which was new back then. Here's the part about the business of unabridged dictionaries:
Whoever decides to crash the unabridged dictionary game next--and it will probably be General Motors or Ford--they will winnow this work heartlessly for bloopers....

Have I made it clear that this book is a beauty? You can't beat the contents, and you can't beat the price. Somebody will beat both sooner or later, of course, because that is good old Free Enterprise, where the consumer benefits from battles between jolly green giants.

And, as I've said, one dictionary is as good as another for most people. Homo Americanus is going to go on speaking and writing the way he always has, no matter what dictionary he owns.

"Mobs of ordinary Egyptians joined with soldiers to drive pro-democracy protesters from their encampment in Tahrir Square..."

"... showing how far the uprising's early heroes have fallen in the eyes of the public."
"The liberal and leftist groups that were at the forefront of the revolution have lost touch with the Egyptian people," says Shadi Hamid, director of research at the Brookings Institution's Doha Center. "These protesters have alienated much of Egypt. For some time they've been deceiving themselves by saying that the silent majority is on their side—but all evidence points to the contrary, and Monday's events confirm that."

"The so-called 'right' or 'Tea Party' in this republic is being so thoroughly rolled and defeated..."

"... that I am struggling to come up with an adequate violent submission metaphor that does not involve prison rape . . . and they honesty think that they're 'winning.' Really? You call this winning?"

That's not a lefty. That's coming from the right.

"I got 98 percent of what I wanted. I'm pretty happy."


NYT op-ed: "Tea Party Republicans have waged jihad on the American people."

By Joe Nocero, who is one of the regular columnists now. Quite aside from the outrage of comparing tea partiers to terrorists, Nocero is — presumably unwittingly — insulting Muslims.

ADDED: It was Joe Biden, you may know, who started calling the GOP "terrorists." My point here is that substituting the word "jihad" goes against 10 years of political chiding about the way peaceful, moderate Muslims use the word.

August 1, 2011

"Gabby is voting to support the bipartisan debt-ceiling compromise."

And, as the bill passes the house, presumably everyone is reminded of the new commitment to civility that went to hell somewhere between Obama's Tucson speech and the Satan Sandwich.

Scientists need a super-sad movie to use in various studies...

... and they've been using "The Champ" too long. What are the alternatives?

Uncle Ira, in the comments there, names the movie I would name.

IN THE COMMENTS: Coldstream said:
Curious Professor, if you meant the film "Grave of the Fireflies" which was first mentioned by commenter Zardoz which Uncle Ira appears to be commenting on, or if you actually mean the movie "Zardoz"...the saddest part of that movie is Connery's outfit.
LOL. I meant "Grave of the Fireflies" (which has been listed in my Blogger profile as one of my small collection of favorite movies for many years).

At the Circular Café...

... pass some ideas around.

Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne wants a special prosecutor in the Wisconsin Supreme Court "choking" incident.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports:
... Ozanne said he has received reports from the Dane County Sheriff's Office regarding the alleged June 13 incident, in which Prosser is alleged to have choked Bradley in her office after Bradley told him to leave....
The report, according to the WSJ, which interviewed Ozanne, does not "make any recommendation on whether to charge anyone."
Ozanne said he was requesting that a special prosecutor be appointed because of his role in litigation that was connected to the alleged incident. At the time of the incident, the Supreme Court was deciding an open meetings lawsuit brought by Ozanne that involved a law stripping most public workers of most collective bargaining rights...
Ozanne is asking a Dane County Judge to make the appointment, so he "can be free from accusations to ensure the public's trust in the system and to allow the incident to be reviewed on the merits with no appearance of political motivation for any decision or outcome."
The Dane County Sheriff's Office investigated the alleged incident at the request of Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs. Sheriff Dave Mahoney, also a Democrat, removed himself from any personal involvement in the investigation.
When will this hot potato ever stop getting tossed around?
Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Elise Schaffer said Monday that she did not know why it took more than a month to complete the investigation. But Ozanne said it wasn't his impression that the pace of the investigation was unusual.
Come on. There were 6 Supreme Court justices witnessing the incident. How long could it take to interview them? What else was relevant? The whole sorry history of the discord among the justices? Either there is some strange complexity to the case or people are deliberately dragging things out.

Satan sandwich!

That's another meme... another phrase that will stick with us as we stumble forward into 2012:
A fantastic bit of rhetoric from an enraged leftist Democrat in the House, responding to the outlines of the budget deal: Emanuel Cleaver, a pastor from Missouri, described it as a “sugar-coated Satan sandwich.” And indeed it is. There are no good options for liberal/Left Democrats in the House. If they vote against the bill en masse, they will make Obama look as though he has betrayed his own core principles, and indeed, they may lead to the deal’s collapse if a few more Republicans than agreed to the Boehner bill yesterday decide to vote no. Should that happen, they will destroy the Obama presidency. But if they agree, they are eating that sandwich. 
Obviously, the expression is shit sandwich. You can't say that (yet) in Congress and in mainstream political debate. But how do you substitute Satan for "shit"? Shit has no evil intentions. It's not even conscious. It makes a nasty sandwich filling, but only the eater is laid low. By contrast, eating Satan would destroy him. If Satan were trapped between 2 slices of bread — confined to a sandwich — anyone whoever ate that sandwich would bestow great benefits on all mankind.

Mitt Romney opposes the debt-ceiling deal.

He said:
While I appreciate the extraordinarily difficult situation President Obama’s lack of leadership has placed Republican Members of Congress in, I personally cannot support this deal....

As president, my plan would have produced a budget that was cut, capped and balanced — not one that opens the door to higher taxes and puts defense cuts on the table... President Obama’s leadership failure has pushed the economy to the brink at the eleventh hour and 59th minute.
President Obama’s lack of leadership... President Obama’s leadership failure... that's the meme.

"We all remember that classic scene from The Godfather where the movie producer Jack Woltz wakes up with a horse's head in his bed."

So begins a TPM post, where you know without glancing ahead that it's some damned analogy for the debt-ceiling deal. Predictably:
... Mario Puzo's description of Woltz's ensuing panic oddly parallels that of the Democratic debt negotiators when they realized the Tea Party idealogues [sic] really were willing to risk default.
Um. Okay. That reminds me. I've been meaning to ask... And I don't want another post about the debt deal. In that scene in "The Godfather"... we just see the guy slowly waking up and finally noticing there's a bleeding horse head in his bed. It's great cinema. You never forget it. But what the hell kind of a heavy sleeper was Jack Woltz anyway? I'd love to see the missing part of the story, where guys holding a giant, dripping horse head open the bedroom door, walk across the room, peel back the covers — I guess they'd have to set the head down — put the head in the bed, gently replace the bed clothes, and sneak back out of there. All that time, Woltz is snoozing peacefully.

The cinematic trick is: You're so preoccupied with the startling thing you've actually seen as you discover the horse head along with Woltz that you have no mental space remaining in which to ask how'd they get that thing in there? You might ask: What sort of people would do a thing like that? — which is the aspect of the scene that TPM invokes in its absurd analogy. But you're not supposed to think: No way could they do that. In fact, if you're inclined to ask questions like that, you probably don't enjoy movies too much.

"Right now, executions are generally open only to the press and a few select witnesses."

"For the rest of us, the vague contours are provided in the morning paper. Yet a functioning democracy demands maximum accountability and transparency. As long as executions remain behind closed doors, those are impossible. The people should have the right to see what is being done in their name and with their tax dollars."

Should American executions be televised?
Yes. They happen, so anyone who wants to watch should have a way.
No. It would be an offense to human dignity.
Yes. Because it might help turn people against the death penalty.
No. Because it might help turn people against the death penalty. free polls

Why do Democrats want high taxation as their brand?

Ezra Klein's piece this morning is headlined: "Democrats will lose now. But they can win later." The next thing you see is a chart depicting "Tax increases over 10 years if Congress passes..." various proposals (or nothing).  He begins:
Democrats are going to lose this one. The first stage of the emerging deal doesn’t include revenue, doesn’t include stimulus, and lets Republicans pocket a trillion dollars or more in cuts without offering anything to Democrats in return.
Pocket? There's nothing to pocket! All we're getting is a trillion less in overspending. The debt piles up at an alarming rate all the time. Holding back one trillion over the next 10 years isn't much (seen in proportion to the vast spending).

But, in the mind of Ezra, that nonexistent money goes to Republicans, and Democrats deserve something in return: taxing and spending. (Otherwise known as: revenue and stimulus.) That's the Democratic Party brand — as spun by Ezra Klein.

Why is that a desirable brand going into the next election? I would think the Democrats would want to own some of the spending cuts, to pose as reasonably frugal, mature, and realistic. Why cede all that to the Republicans? I understand the preference for taxing over cutting spending, but this giddy enthusiasm? Shouldn't you hide that?

The news media declare a big victory for conservatives... but why? I'm skeptical!

Wall Street Journal: "A Tea Party Triumph: The debt deal is a rare bipartisan victory for the forces of smaller government."

New York Times: "To Escape Chaos, a Terrible Deal" ("a nearly complete capitulation to the hostage-taking demands of Republican extremists").

Washington Post (Greg Sargent): "GOP on verge of huge, unprecedented political victory."

Since the vote has not occurred, I have the uneasy feeling that I'm hearing sales pressure. What a fabulous deal for you! Sign here!

That's not to say lying and spinning become a thing of the past after the deal is closed. It just changes. Before, the effort is to get people to sign on. Those who most want the deal have a motivation to act like it's a big victory for whoever is most resistant — in this case, the Tea Party. Afterwards, everyone tries to find a way to gain — either by claiming they really extracted a lot out of the other side and/or by blaming anything that seems bad now on the terrible concessions their stupid/evil opponents insisted on.

This morning, reading these editorials, I suspect that the mainstream media think the Tea Party members of Congress are crazy — they're out there on the ledge. The idea is to talk them in.

July 31, 2011

Senator Durbin says the debt agreement is "the final interment of John Maynard Keynes."

"He normally died in 1946 but it appears we are going to put him to his final rest with this agreement."

"You're Gonna Pay."

Everyone's talking about the anthem of the ages.

ADDED: The Crack Emcee is talking about it. And not in a nice way.

In the Stairwell Café...

... we can climb higher.

"A physician was to drop acid... into the eyes of Majid Movahed... to punish him for throwing acid in the face of Ameneh Bahrami seven years ago."

Bahrami, who was blinded, had insisted on the eye-for-an-eye punishment, under Islamic law:
"However in the last minute, Ameneh changed her mind and asked the proceeding to be halted," the Islamic republic's Fars state news agency reported.

This week marks the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan in the Islamic world, and pardons and commuted sentences commonly occur as a show of compassion leading into the holiday....

The sentence was to be carried out in May 2011, but a court postponed it after Amnesty International protested against it on the grounds of cruelty.

Bahrami forgave her attacker in part for her country, she told state news agency ISNA, "since all other countries were looking to see what we would do."

"I am worried. Where is India going? Now our women are fighting for their right to wear less?"

"Women cannot wear tiny clothes and go out at night and expect men to worship them. They cannot then blame the police and the government... Our culture does not allow such vulgar debates. Women have to be modest. My wife is fully clothed, nobody stares at her."

SlutWalk in India.

Theater in Madison: "The Lamentable Tragedie of Scott Walker."

At the Broom Street Theater:
The script itself is breathtaking -- rapid-fire wordplay, a laugh-out-loud moment in nearly every line, and a startling idea density for a play with so many dick jokes. I was moved to tears on four separate occasions.
Through art, Madison is working through the trauma of having Republicans in office.

Therapists who flooded NYC to help 9/11 survivors didn't help too much.

But these "trauma tourists" did feel good about themselves.

"There is caution on Capitol Hill about a tentative deal being reached."

"As the mantra here goes, 'nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to.'"

"[A]t a time of great environmental change and uncertainty, weeds may soon be all we’ve got left."

"Tolerate them, he advises; celebrate their exuberant resilience, adjust your perspective. Fight them, and we may end up with nothing."

From a review of "Weeds: In Defense of Nature’s Most Unloved Plants" by Richard Mabey.

As long as we're talking about books about weeds, there's also "Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln's Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities."

"What if the people who hate government are good at it and the people who love government are bad at it?"

Maureen Dowd observes that "Obama and John Boehner have been completely outplayed by the 'hobbits'":
Consider what the towel-snapping Tea Party crazies have already accomplished. They’ve changed the entire discussion. They’ve neutralized the White House. They’ve whipped their leadership into submission. They’ve taken taxes and revenues off the table. They’ve withered the stock and bond markets. They’ve made journalists speak to them as though they’re John Calhoun and Alexander Hamilton.
That term, "hobbits" (for tea partiers), comes from the Wall Street Journal and John McCain. I'm not sure what hobbits — the actual literary characters — have to do with "towel-snappin" and "whipping" anybody "into submission."

Dowd is not kind to President Obama:
As one Democratic senator complained: “The president veers between talking like a peevish professor and a scolding parent.” (Not to mention a jilted lover.) Another moaned: “We are watching him turn into Jimmy Carter right before our eyes.”

Obama’s “We must lift ourselves to a higher place” trope doesn’t work on this rough crowd. If somebody at dinner is about to kill you, you don’t worry about his table manners.
Kill you?! The hobbits?

From that Wall Street Journal article:
The idea seems to be that if the House GOP refuses to raise the debt ceiling, a default crisis or gradual government shutdown will ensue, and the public will turn en masse against . . . Barack Obama. The Republican House that failed to raise the debt ceiling would somehow escape all blame. Then Democrats would have no choice but to pass a balanced-budget amendment and reform entitlements, and the tea-party Hobbits could return to Middle Earth having defeated Mordor.
Sorry, but I don't remember all that "Lord of the Rings" stuff enough to understand that. Mordor is a place, right? Yes. "Mordor was the realm of the Dark Lord Sauron. It was a terrible land of darkness and fear, inhabited by Orcs and other evil creatures." Does that make Obama the "Dark Lord"? I understand the Journal's hope that the Tea Party will go back to their modest home towns after they do whatever they think is their mission in Washington, that "terrible land of darkness and fear."