October 8, 2011

Why did Althouse put up 5 posts on the Westboro Baptist Church protests here in Madison?

Sorry to inflict all that on you, but I wanted you to see what really goes on, and I thought that needed some strong sunlight. There were 5 posts today:

1. Introducing the protest planned for today.

2. Still photography from the scene.

3. The first video, showing the Phelps group and 2 different counterprotesters who express themselves in entirely different ways.

4. The second video, showing Meade's close encounter with Margie Phelps.

5. The third video, Phelps explains what she's doing and shows her style, and Meade crosses for video of the folks on the other side.

Margie Phelps objects to "the fag agenda" and the installation of "a fag so-called preacher"

This is the third video I edited from footage Meade shot in Madison today, as Margie Phelps and others protested the ordination of a gay minister. This 5-minute clip includes Phelps's explanation of her mission and the response from the counterprotesters on the other side of the street.

Watch for the sweet old woman at 2:08. She takes a close look at Phelps and then continues across the street. At 2:46, Phelps uses a shocking epithet against the new minister. At 3:11, Meade crosses the street and we hear their song about "marching on the side of love."

Margie Phelps encounters the police... and Meade.

Another video by Meade — edited by me — showing today's protest by the Westboro Baptist Church folk. Watch for Phelps to tell Meade to "get up out of my grille." And wait for the fellow protester who attempts to lighten things up with a suggestion of song. Interestingly, it's the same song we've heard a hundred times from the anti-Scott Walker protesters downtown. The lyrics are differently tweaked.

If the phrase "up out of my grille" sounds out of place but also oddly familiar, perhaps you remember the oral argument in the Supreme Court case involving the Westboro folks:
At page 40 [of the transcript], Margie Phelps, arguing in favor of the right to express outrageous opinions in the vicinity of a funeral, is quoted as saying:
I think approaching an individual up close and in their grille to berate them gets you out of the zone of protection, and we would never do that.
(Boldface added.) Then, at pages 47-48, she's quoted saying:
Your body of law about captive audience... where they, by the way, specifically said at footnote this isn't about content. You've got to be up -- again, I will uses [sic] the colloquial term -- up in your grill. The term I think the Court used was confrontational.
And page 49:
I do think that you could have a public event where there was not an element of vulnerability in the people going in. You might even let them up in their grill.
(At the linked post, I discuss the spelling issue: Is it "grille" or "grill"? It's grille.)

Westboro Baptists bring their signs and songs to Madison...

... and encounter some different types of opponents, caught here on video by Meade. (Edited by me, with added text.)

Whose spouse is Rick Santorum talking about?

"When you look at someone to determine whether they’d be the right person for public office, look at who they lay down with at night and what they believe in... Who is the person at their side who has.. the closest counselor to that person? If you want to find out if that person who you are voting for is going to stand tall and stand tough, find out where the spouse of that person is."

Spoken at the Value Voters Summit yesterday. (Video at the link.)

Alec MacGillis wonders whose spouse he's talking about:
Might it be the wife who reportedly urged one candidate to order a mandatory vaccine for the HPV virus? Or the wife who, lo so many years ago, gave $150 to her local Planned Parenthood chapter? Or, perhaps, not a wife at all, but the lone husband in the field of spouses? Hard to believe, given that said spouse has taken such vigorous action in fighting the scourge of homosexuality, a mission Santorum also cares deeply about. In any case, let's hope Santorum can clear this matter up at next week's debate in New Hampshire.
MacGillis assumes Santorum was talking about the spouse of one of the GOP candidates, but he might have been thinking about Michelle Obama. Should we feel that it's appropriate and even important to scrutinize the candidates' spouses? It's conventional to say that the family is off limits, but I'll bet a lot of Obama opponents feel he might have been defeated if spousal scrutiny were regarded as fully legitimate.

The Westboro Baptist Church protests the ordination of a gay Presbyterian minister.

The protest took place at the corner of Mineral Point and Segoe Roads. Meade got there around 9:15. That is Margie Phelps at the extreme right of this first picture:

In this picture, a man with an "ITAPA KEGGA" T-shirt takes a gander at the protesters:

Arrayed on the other side of the street, in front of the concrete cross of the Covenant Presbyterian Church, you can see the counterprotesters, who appear happy with their new minister:

They look like nice people. They were singing "We are standing on the side of love," and they have in their midst a beautiful child:

Also, there's a man in a Guy Fawkes mask holding a rainbow exclamation point and a woman with a sign that says: "Love knows no boundaries; Courage has NO limit!"

I have a lot of video to edit, and it will give you a sense of what the atmosphere there was. Meade sums it up this way: "The Westboro Baptist Church people were trying to incite people and the others were out there enjoying a beautiful day and on the side of peace and love."

Today's ordination of the first gay Presbyterian pastor is "an important event in Heaven and on earth."

According to Margie Phelps, of the Westboro Baptist Church, "And it’s our duty as the church of the Lord, Jesus Christ, to come to the scene and remind people of their duty to God, so that’s why we’re coming,"
WBC wrote on their website “Scott Anderson has no hope of heaven, and you know it. Yet, you refuse to tell him the truth and enable him in his sin. God Hates Fags and Fag-Enablers alike — you are all worthy of death (hell).”
The ordination ceremony and the protest are going on right now. New Media Meade is on the scene, with multiple cameras. Stay tuned.

The potential for a Barack Obama nostalgia movement in the next 13 months.

Remember how you felt in '08? Maybe not you, specifically, but remember the hope? The inspiration? Don't you want to feel like that again? Etc. etc.

Picture it. I think it's possible that the Obama 2012 campaign could touch many people — people who are suffering, out of work, occupying Wall Street (or wherever) — by prompting them to get in touch with the great old feeling of the good old days... in 2008... when we were young... when we had dreams...

I know you may scoff and say that every single reference to the abstractions and fuzzy feelings of 3 years ago will only draw derision and intensify the pain. But there's so much pain... At some point, won't people want to take the drug that worked so well that other time. What intense pleasure! What brilliant hallucinations! It calls to you.

Well, not necessarily you. But you see my point?

This notion crossed my mind while I was watching this February 2008 video of Michelle Obama. I'd been searching for that old quote of hers, something like Barack will never allow you to go back to your old lives.

The actual quote is: "Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed."

My initial reaction to that today was that it was weird how much she's insulting people... and they love it. They wanted transformed lives, but look how bad things are today. We really were deprived of our "lives as usual," but not in a good way.

The larger context of the quote is:
Barack Obama will require you to work. He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism. That you put down your divisions. That you come out of your isolation, that you move out of your comfort zones. That you push yourselves to be better. And that you engage. Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed.
See? You have the problem of being cynical and isolated. You're too comfortable. You need to do a whole lot better. Barack Obama will require you to work. I know: ridiculous. Now. Lines like that stoke the very cynicism he demanded that we shed!

That was my initial reaction. But then I saw the potential. The cynicism may seem much more justified now, but it also hurts, and people remember when words like this made them feel as good as they've ever felt about politics in their whole lives.

Don't you see the potential for hordes of people to embrace the simple pleasures of nostalgia? When I drive my car, I turn on the satellite radio and put on the 60s channel, where I'm always young and carefree. It's 2011, but I can push the button for the 60s, musically. There's a political button marked 2008, and I think there's a decent chance there are a whole lot of people who would love to push it.

"For people of a secular age, Steve Jobs's gospel may seem like all the good news we need."

"But people of another age would have considered it a set of beautifully polished empty promises, notwithstanding all its magical results. Indeed, they would have been suspicious of it precisely because of its magical results."

From "Steve Jobs: The Secular Prophet," by Andy Crouch in the Wall Street Journal.
[T]he genius of Steve Jobs was to persuade us, at least for a little while, that cold comfort [death is "life's change agent"] is enough. The world—at least the part of the world in our laptop bags and our pockets, the devices that display our unique lives to others and reflect them to ourselves—will get better. This is the sense in which the tired old cliché of "the Apple faithful" and the "cult of the Mac" is true. It is a religion of hope in a hopeless world, hope that your ordinary and mortal life can be elegant and meaningful, even if it will soon be dated, dusty and discarded like a 2001 iPod.
Speaking of "hope"... wait... that's a topic shift I'll make into a separate post.

"Blog comment of the day."

Instapundit honors Shouting Thomas.

"In other cities, charter schools exist in spite of the system. Here they are the system."

Says John White, the superintendent of New Orleans public schools.
The results are encouraging. Five years ago, 23% of children scored at or above "basic" on state tests; now 48% do. Before Katrina, 62% attended failing schools; less than a fifth do today. The gap between city kids and the rest of the state is narrowing....

By 2013, New Orleans plans to have the country's first "all charter" school system. 

"I received a text on my iPhone on the morning of October 6 that said, 'ᎣᏏᏲ, ᎩᎾᎵ.'"

"It’s a simple Cherokee greeting, akin to “Hello, friend” in English.  It’s pronounced 'oh-see-yo, gee-na-lee.'  It may not seem like much to the casual observer that has been sending and receiving texts for years, but seeing the Cherokee syllabary appear in that tiny bubble on my screen is a profound thing.  And I have Steve Jobs to thank for it."

Writes Roy Boney Jr.

October 7, 2011

In the Bumper-Sticker Café...

Obama cares, and Scott Walker is killing people.

(Enlarge photo.)

"I lost vast tracts of time and not a few T-cells trying to understand and expose this farce, and it’s a huge relief that this preposterous saga is over."

Andrew Sullivan exults at "[h]elping to prevent [Sarah Palin] from getting her hands on power was one of my guiding goals once I realized the MSM was never going to do it... Just knowing she isn’t a threat is a huge psychic relief if you care about America and the world."

From a Politico article by Ben Smith titled "Sarah Palin industry faces depression." ("Palin lovers, Palin haters, a half-dozen publishing houses, and elements of the mainstream media who tracked her plans long after the Republican campaign bypassed her suddenly face a future without their entertaining, unpredictable, and now scarcely relevant subject.")

Squirrel causes a power outage in the Meadhouse neighborhood, just as the Brewers game is about to begin.

Crazy! Meanwhile, squirrels have moved in on the St. Louis Cardinals:
Busch Stadium has been overrun by squirrels in the last two days. On Tuesday night, a critter scurried across the field and ran around in foul territory. His reasoning: “I’m cute. I have a fluffy tail. I am totally going to get picked up by a ball girl!” On Wednesday, either the same squirrel or an accomplice dashed right in front of the plate as Roy Oswalt delivered a pitch. Umpire Angel Hernandez called it a ball, and Oswalt complained that he was distracted by the squirrel. ...

Batter Skip Schumaker flied out, so the squirrel had no impact on the game, but Oswalt was still fuzzy about the rules concerning four-legged interlopers. “I was wondering what size animal it needed to be to not have a pitch,” Oswalt said after the game. “If it ran up the guy’s leg, would he have called the pitch for a strike?”
What's with the squirrels? I've had it with these %$!# squirrels. And these %$!# snakes!

Fortunately, the power is back. Watch the Brewers and the Diamondbacks with us here at desquirrelified Meadhouse. (And hang out for the Phillies and the Cardinals and whatever squirrels there be.)

UPDATE: In the words of Nyjer Morgan: "Fuck yeah! Fuck yeah!"

UPDATE 2: Nice to see the Cardinals win too. As Meade put it over at Trooper's:
Flyover America rules.

Kiss it, Coasties.

The problem of Amish-on-Amish violence.

The Daily Mail reports:
Men and sometimes women from a group of families disavowed by mainstream Amish have terrorized a half-dozen or more fellow Amish.

In Holmes County, a group of 27 men allegedly burst into a home and cut the hair off men and women inside and cut the beards off the men.

Holmes County Sheriff Timothy Zimmerly told The Wheeling News Register the victims included a 13-year-old girl and a 74-year-old man....

Detectives in the area were said to be gathering evidence from buggies and horse trailers believed to have been used in connection with the assaults.
So... they're looking for hair?
Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla said there was a similar incident in Trumbull County three weeks ago.

He said hair from the victims was brought back to Jefferson County to prove to Sam Mullet, the bishop of the Bergholz group, that Mullet's orders concerning the hair cutting was being followed.
I know what you're thinking: A guy named Mullet wants hair cuts? But if you click the link and find his picture, you'll see it's business on top, party underneath.

The sleek modernity of train travel in Europe — now, with pee bags.

"Dutch National Railways is introducing emergency plastic bags for passengers to urinate in as part of its first-aid provision on some commuter trains.
"When you have to wait three or four hours on a train, then it is quite logical you have some people aboard who need to go to a restroom...."

Either Rahm or Obama himself pushed to spotlight Solyndra...

"... despite numerous internal warnings that the company could be financially unstable, according to newly obtained e-mails," reports the Washington Post.

Then there's this Steve Spinner character, who, oddly, appears in 2 different places in the article:
“Any word from OMB?” Department of Energy stimulus adviser Steve Spinner wrote to a department staffer about final terms of the Solyndra loan to be approved by the Office of Management and Budget. “I have the OVP [Office of the Vice President] and WH [White House] breathing down my neck on this.”...

Steve Spinner, a DOE loan program adviser who had served as an Obama fundraiser in 2008, was married to a partner at the law firm of Wilson Sonsini, which was representing Solyndra in its loan application. He had signed an ethics agreement in which he said he would not engage in negotiations about the loan or loan terms for the company.

Yet throughout Solyndra’s loan process, Spinner worked hard to defend the company from criticisms inside the government, including questions from climate czar Carol Browner’s office. He pushed to get a final decision on approving the loan in August.

“How [expletive] hard is this?” Spinner wrote on Aug. 28 to an another department official. “What is he waiting for? Will we have it by the end of the day?”
I'm seeing other news reports headlined the material about Spinner, which makes me suspect that WaPo deliberately buried it.

ABC News: "Obama Fundraiser Pushed Solyndra Deal From Inside." Politico: "Solyndra loan supported by Obama fundraiser." CBS News: "Obama fundraiser pushed Solyndra loan." Bloomberg: "Energy Official With Solyndra Links Pressed for Loan."

The Obama administration's incoherence about medical marijuana.

The Wall Street Journal Law Blog says:
In recent weeks, landlords of some pot shops [in California] have received letters from federal prosecutors warning them to stop sales within 45 days or risk seizure of their property and criminal charges....

The current crackdown... is spawning some backlash accusing President Obama of a reversal based on campaign statements, and those later by Justice Department officials, that the federal government shouldn’t and wouldn’t go after medical pot usage allowed by state laws....

Administration officials have countered, such as in this memo in June from Deputy Attorney General James Cole, that the recent aggressive enforcement isn’t a flip-flop — simply a reaction to a vast recent expansion of marijuana cultivation and distribution facilities....
If you tell businesses they can do something, and they rely on it and expand, how can you justify changing the policy because they expanded?

We were just talking about the way uncertainty about government policy inhibits the expansion of business. Now, here's a case where the government proffered assurance about something, triggered a big expansion, and now it's changing the policy.

Why didn't the Obama administration foresee that non-prosecution would lead to expansion? Or maybe I should ask why the purveyors of marijuana trusted the government not to flip the policy? Were they high?

Hey! Wait a minute. Here's some lateral thinking on the subject: All those other businesses owners who are inhibited in the face of policy uncertainty. Let them smoke marijuana. It might overcome their inhibition.

Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen is okay with guns in the Capitol and other state buildings.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. How does that square with the image — seared in our brains — of thousands of protesters cramming into the rotunda and winding themselves up into a frenzy of indignation?
Van Hollen said those demonstrations did not change his opinion on whether people should be allowed to carry guns in the Capitol.

"Any one of them could have been carrying a firearm without our knowledge already had they wanted to do so," Van Hollen said.
At one point in the protests, weapons screening was introduced, but it's gone now. These days, there's nothing to stop a person with criminal intent from going in with a gun, so Van Hollen is implying that it's in fact a safeguard for ordinary citizens to have guns too. He doesn't come out and say that though. Having seen the effect of the rotunda on the human mind, I worry about ordinary citizens in the Capitol with guns.

"If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts."

"And since Windows just copied the Mac, it's likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later."


ADDED: Speaking of college drop-ins, do you remember the 60s sitcom "Hank"?

"Why Daddy's the toughest registrar this school's ever had!"

"He was a bit older than she desired. But he loved opera."

"He seemed honest. And he had just sailed his boat around the world. The date lasted six hours."

Oldies meet on line and marry within 10 months:
"At our age... you don’t have much time to waste."

And, let's face it, the downside risk is lower: There's less time to live with whatever mistake you may make.

So act, live, make up your mind, seize the day. As Steve Jobs once said:
Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

"The family thinks if Fantasia plays the role, it’s going to sully the name of Mahalia."

"They think she’s got the wrong image, having a child out of wedlock."

Should the actor playing a real person in a biopic have a private life that matches up with the person she's portraying? You could say, hello, it's what we call acting. Is Fantasia good at pretending to be Mahalia Jackson.

But the PR is part of a movie like this, and, really, why make such movies at all? You can see and hear Mahalia Jackson right now, for hours, over at YouTube.

The difference between Occupy Wall Street and the Wisconsin protests.

Andy Kroll at Mother Jones identifies 3 main differences

1. Different organizers: In Wisconsin, "the day after Republicans reclaimed the state Legislature and the governor's mansion, union leaders began plotting how to respond to the looming assault on organized labor.... From their command center in Madison's only unionized hotel, labor turned out more than a 100,000 supporters in a span of weeks." But the Occupy Wall Street protesters were responded to a prompt from Adbusters magazine and then grew "almost entirely without institutional support, an organic groundswell without leaders or executive boards or much structure at all."

2. Different goals: The Wisconsin protests, at their height, were focused on something quite specific: defeating Gov. Walker's budget reform bill. "Occupy Wall Street so far has had no clear set of demands—and intentionally so, it seems."

3. Different reaction from the police: Here in Madison, the police mostly accommodated the huge crowds that besieged the state Capitol. In NYC, the cops have cracked down.

Kroll also lists 2 similarities. Both sets of protesters: 1. used social media, and 2. ate pizza.

ADDED: As for that seemingly intentional lack of demands... I think of this:

"A-Rod must go!"

Says Trooper York:
A-Rod struck out with the bases loaded. He struck out to end the game. He failed miserably as he has done for most of his career. Did you see his face when he struck out with the bases loaded? He was a tight lipped tight assed mess. He froze. He choked. His disgraced the uniform. He might have Hall of Fame numbers but he is a drag on the team. As he has been since the day he got here. We would have been a lot better off without him. His bloated salary and his off the field antics have only brought trouble to the Yankees. He is a disgrace to the uniform.
IN THE COMMENTS: Maguro says:
Don't hate on ARod, the man has a painting of himself as a centaur hanging behind his bed. You gotta respect that.
He links to an article that doesn't have an image of the painting. I'm forced to do an image search. Hmmm. There's this. Or is it this?

ADDED: Here he is with Madonna.

Boston's response to Occupy Boston: "if there are so many people joining a demonstration that the city doesn’t want to tangle with them, then they will waive the requirements."

Does that mean it's viewpoint discrimination, which is what some Tea Partiers are insinuating?

I raised this question during the Wisconsin protests, as we saw the police do all sorts of things to yield to the protesters. For example, they would respond to impromptu marches around the Capitol by blocking regular traffic. We talked to the police who were carrying out that policy — I have video — and they explained that it was the best way to deal with crowds that size. That is, it's not viewpoint discrimination, but a neutral response designed to maintain the best semblance of order when the police are outnumbered.

I tried to needle them with law professor questions — I do random acts of law teaching around town — about whether they'd treat Nazis or some such loathed group the same way. The crafty but troubling answer was: The Nazis would never arrive in such numbers.

The first link, above, is via Instapundit, who attributed Boston's special treatment of the Occupy Boston protesters to the fact that "the officials are Democratic hacks, and the 'protesters' are Democratic tools. Duh."

Obama goes ultra-bland on Occupy Wall Street.

I think it expresses the frustrations that the American people feel that we had the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, huge collateral damage all throughout the country, all across Main Street, and yet you're still seeing some of the same folks who acted irresponsibly trying to fight efforts to crack down on abusive practices that got us into this problem in the first place.

So yes, I think people are frustrated and the protesters are giving voice to a more broad-based frustration about how our financial system works.
So... the protesters? They are, indeed, protesting. They're expressing themselves... mmm hmmm. Could you be any more noncommittal?

And then throw in a bunch of the usual phrases like "got us into this problem in the first place."

Graphic responses to the death of Steve Jobs.

From xkcd, "Eternal Flame":

11 more cartoons and such, here.

2011 Nobel Peace Prize has "included the Arab Spring... but we have put it in a particular context."

Unless the new governments include women "there will be no democracy."
The Nobel Committee characterizes the prize to Yemeni rights campaigner Tawakkul Karman as a "signal" to the Arab world to deal with "the oppression of women."

Sharing the prize are Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberian activist Leymah Gbowee.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf — Africa's first elected female head of state — is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin. She received a degree in accounting in 1964.

October 6, 2011

Herman Cain said he would be comfortable running as VP with any of the GOP candidates... except Rick Perry.

And it's not because he thinks that word — that painted-on-a-rock name — might somehow get aimed at him:
Cain said his concerns about Perry include "being soft on the border, issues relative to tuition for children of illegal aliens." As governor, Perry supported legislation offering in-state college tuition for the children of illegal immigrants, which has become a flash point in the campaign. "And I haven’t totally gone through all of his positions, but a lot of positions I have questions with," Cain said.

"Sarah Palin’s political voice had dwindled well before she announced her decision not to run."

"Now it will sink altogether into inaudibility. She will be no kind of force in future national discussions."

Sayeth David Frum.

Harry Reid triggers the "nuclear option."

The "shocking development," reports The Hill, blocks Republicans "from forcing votes on uncomfortable amendments after the chamber has voted to move to final passage of a bill":
The Democratic leader had become fed up with Republican demands for votes on motions to suspend the rules after the Senate had voted to limit debate earlier in the day.

[Republican Leader Mitch] McConnell had threatened such a motion to force a vote on the original version of President Obama’s jobs package, which many Democrats don’t like because it would limit tax deductions for families earning over $250,000. The jobs package would have been considered as an amendment.

McConnell wanted to embarrass the president by demonstrating how few Democrats are willing to support his jobs plan as first drafted.

"Rodriguez struck out swinging as the Tigers celebrate on the field."

Yankees out.

School choice — it's choice! — how can it be bad?

It might be good.
[T]he appeal of school choice cannot be reduced to simple power politics. In fact, the people most resistant to expanding choice are often suburban voters who vote Republican and (sometimes mistakenly) believe their schools are providing quality education. Inner-city minority parents are frequently the most vocal choice proponents because they experience sub-par education firsthand. Republicans who support school choice are actually taking political risks that run counter to raw political calculations.

A brief history of "Shame" signs on Madison's Capitol Square.

This year, we've seen lots of anti-Scott Walker protesters carrying signs that feature the word "Shame." (We've also heard the word "shame" chanted over and over again.) There's this guy, from last March, carrying a commercially printed "Shame" sign:

From "Shame, shame, shame. Where is the shame?"

But a discussion a couple posts ago — about the Westboro Church folk coming to Madison — had me looking back to an old post of mine from 2004, when some religious group showed up at a Gay Pride parade. I was struck by this "shame" sign...

7/18/04 Madison Gay Pride Parade

... and I wonder what it says about the protesters of 2011 that they are channeling old-time religion.

Elizabeth Warren's put-down of Scott Brown elicits a return put-down from Scott Brown.

Are they even now? Or is this going to come back and bite Scott in his once-publicly-naked butt?

In Tuesday's debate — among Democratic candidates to challenge Senator Brown — Elizabeth Warren said "I didn’t take my clothes off" to pay for school. That was a reference to the fact that Brown posed for a photograph in Cosmo and made money to pay for college. Asked by a radio DJ for a response, Brown said "Thank God."

So... is he allowed a tit-for-tat insult or will this little lapse work wonders getting women voters to turn away from the ultra-handsome politico?

Notification of Donation Received: Total amount: $1.00 USD.

In the gmail today — a $1 Paypal contribution along with the following text, entered in the Paypal form:
Althouse needs to continue delivering news.
Do remember unbiased coverage of the news will consistently cause anger. If there is no anger the matter is likely to have been trivial.
Now, I really appreciate that. It's only $1, but I can see from the purpose and message that it's somebody who likes the blog, and it's a nice example of a micro-contribution. If everyone who values this blog would throw in a dollar now and then, it would add up quite well.

The PayPal button is always in the sidebar, and I see the donations in my gmail along with whatever the message is.

Enough talk of women and their slutty-one-thing-or-another Halloween costumes.

Let's look a the man problem for once. Here'sthe Amazon list of bestselling men's costumes —via Instapundit — and the #1 costume is some stretchy fabric that covers your entire body and makes you all one color. What is the attraction here?

Why are men choosing these costumes?
They want to be somehow invisible, yet brightly colored.
It's very much like being naked, but with no face and no genitalia.
There's some movie/video game character this represents.
The onesie suit is just the beginning. It's what you put on next that counts.
It's not a Halloween costume. Wear your team's color to a sporting event.
It's not a Halloween costume. It's for committing crimes.
The onesie suit is just the beginning. Use scissors for individual, customized partial nakedness.

pollcode.com free polls 

IN THE COMMENTS: I'm schooled by DannyNoonan, who seems to think I'm a bit of an idiot not to know about the "green man," and KLDavis, who points me to a video clip that makes me laugh a lot.

The 4 Mistakes of Ezra Klein... [ADDED: or Rich Yeselson].

1. He's written a blog post titled "The four habits of highly successful social movements," but he never talks about any habits.

2. He does have paragraph containing "four things," but the verbiage is mind-numbing and lacking in parallelism:
Whether [the Occupy Wall Street protests] will grow larger and sustain themselves beyond these initial street actions will depend upon four things: the work of skilled organizers; the success of those organizers in getting people, once these events end, to meet over and over and over again; whether or not the movement can promote public policy solutions that are organically linked to the quotidian lives of its supporters; and the ability of liberalism’s infrastructure of intellectuals, writers, artists and professionals to expend an enormous amount of their cultural capital in support of the movement.
3.  He evokes the best-seller title "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People"  which prompts us to think about his ineffectiveness.

4. He promised a list of a specific number of items and then he didn't put it in the form of a numbered list. People love numbered lists. The internet is full of them. They're highly clickable. What's wrong with us? Why do we keep falling for that? 

ADDED: The post is signed by Ezra Klein but has an italicized parenthetical at the top saying he asked Rich Yeselson, a research coordinator at Change to Win, for some "thoughts on Occupy Wall Street." The post I'm complaining about is introduced as "some notes" from Yeselson, which Klein says he thinks are "worth publishing in full." Obviously, I didn't think this was worth reading in full, but now I assume the published text is completely the work of Rich Yeselson. As Bill Harshaw alerts me in the comments, this is "The one mistake of Ann Althouse." This is the great danger of pointing out someone else's mistakes: You look especially bad if you make a mistake yourself — and chances are you'll make the mistake at that point. (It seems everything every time I decide it's worth mocking a typo, I make a typo.)

Kandour, the magnificent police horse.

This video was recorded on June 12th, during the Walkerville protest on the Capitol Square here in Madison. The reason for posting it today is revealed in this edited version, and you can read more here.

SPOILER ALERT: Watch the video before reading any comments.

"Restoring 2006 levels of policy uncertainty would yield an additional 2.5 million jobs over 18 months."


And yet the government is always scrambling to help us out with new policies. And only today, Obama said:
“If Congress does nothing, then it’s not a matter of me running against them. I think the American people will run them out of town, I would love nothing more than to see Congress act so aggressively that I can’t campaign against them as a do-nothing Congress.”
Reconsider the amazing value of nothing.

The ATF acting director would like people to "calm down" about Fast and Furious.

I'm sure he does.

Harnessing wind power on a tiny scale: through the nose.

Invented at the University of Wisconsin:
Materials science and engineering assistant professor Xudong Wang, post-doctoral researcher Chengliang Sun and graduate student Jian Shi created a tiny device that generates electricity when passed over by low-speed airflow, such as that created by respiration (breathing)....

Steve Jobs, the brilliant performer.

"We're introducing 3 revolutionary products..." This was so great. Has a new product ever been presented this well:

I love fashion choices too.

"We think the Mac will sell zillions, but we didn’t build the Mac for anybody else."

"We built it for ourselves. We were the group of people who were going to judge whether it was great or not. We weren’t going to go out and do market research. We just wanted to build the best thing we could build."

Beautiful. Thank you!

That and more Steve Jobs quotes here.

Who has had as much impact on business and our lives as Steve Jobs?

"You'd probably have to go back to Henry Ford..."

So Bob Dylan didn't win the Nobel Prize for Literature after all.

It was a false alarm.* Oh! The injustice! They gave it to Tomas Tranströmer, some Swedish guy. Never heard of him. Cool name though, for sure.

* Or should I say, with Dylanesque redundancy, a phony false alarm.

"Why Conservative White Males Are More Likely to Be Climate Skeptics."

Headline on a NYT article about a study by sociology professor Aaron McCright, titled "Cool dudes: The denial of climate change among conservative white males in the United States."
To test for the trend amongst conservative white males, the researchers compared the demographic to "all other adults." Results showed, for instance, that 29.6 percent of conservative white males believe the effects of global warming will never happen, versus 7.4 percent of other adults. In holding for "confident" conservative white males, the study showed 48.4 percent believe global warming won't happen, versus 8.6 percent of other adults....

To understand why there is a trend amongst conservative white males, the Gallup data was cross-examined with research about the "white male effect" -- the idea that white males were either more accepting of risk or less risk averse than the rest of the public....
McCright says, up to 40 percent of all white males in the study sample believe in hierarchy, are more trusting of authority and are more conservative. Conservative white males' motivation to ignore a certain risk -- the risk of climate change in this case -- therefore, has to do with defending the status of their identity tied to the white male establishment.
A few things:

1. Apparently, the "white male effect" has been studied quite a bit. I'm not surprised that studies of white males yield results that researchers characterize in negative terms. I call that the "lefty sociologist effect."

2. Look at the global warming question from the opposite side: Why are liberals less skeptical? I'd say there is more "trusting of authority" among people who accept the assertions of scientists and think government can solve this problem. And believing in climate change fits nicely with the general liberal mindset that involves enthusiasm for top-down government solutions and puts a relatively low value on preserving traditional ways.

3. McCright highlights the risk that the skeptics are willing to tolerate when they avoid taking steps to deal with the predicted climate change, but there is also risk in imposing solutions to head off problems that might not occur. Since there are risks all around, we're not really talking about differences in risk aversion. These are differences in weighting and comparing various risks.

4. The article uses the words "skepticism" and "denial" almost interchangeably, but these are actually dramatically different words. Skepticism is part of rational, scientific thought. If you don't have it, you are gullible. Denial involves an irrational resistance to evidence. McCright's study title reveals a bias: These people are in denial; what's their problem? I'd rather see a neutral study, something that seriously and fairly asked: What psychological tendencies explain the disparity in acceptance of scientific reports on climate change?

Goodbye to Derrick Bell.

The eminent law professor has died.
He was a pioneer of critical race theory — a body of legal scholarship that explored how racism is embedded in laws and legal institutions, even those intended to lessen the effects of past injustice. Mr. Bell “set the agenda in many ways for scholarship on race in the academy, not just the legal academy,” said Lani Guinier, the first black woman hired to join the Harvard Law School’s tenured faculty, in an interview on Wednesday....

Mr. Bell’s core beliefs included what he called “the interest convergence dilemma” — the idea that whites would not support efforts to improve the position of blacks unless it was in their interest....

Much of Mr. Bell’s scholarship rejected dry legal analysis in favor of allegorical stories....

One his best-known parables is “The Space Traders,” which appeared in his 1992 book, “Faces at the Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism.” In the story, as Mr. Bell later described it, creatures from another planet offer the United States “enough gold to retire the national debt, a magic chemical that will cleanse America’s polluted skies and waters, and a limitless source of safe energy to replace our dwindling reserves” in exchange for one thing: its black population, which would be sent to outer space. The white population accepts the offer by an overwhelming margin....

Not everyone welcomed the move to narrative and allegory in legal scholarship. In 1997, Richard Posner, the conservative law professor and appeals court judge, wrote in The New Republic that “by repudiating reasoned argumentation,” storytellers like Mr. Bell “reinforce stereotypes about the intellectual capacities of nonwhites."
Prof. Bell was 80.

October 5, 2011

"He told a reporter that taking LSD was one of the two or three most important things he had done in his life."

"He said there were things about him that people who had not tried psychedelics — even people who knew him well, including his wife — could never understand."

Steve Jobs has died, at the age of 56.

Terribly sad. A great man.
He put much stock in the notion of “taste,” a word he used frequently. It was a sensibility that shone in products that looked like works of art and delighted users. Great products, he said, were a triumph of taste, of “trying to expose yourself to the best things humans have done and then trying to bring those things into what you are doing.”

Regis McKenna, a longtime Silicon Valley marketing executive to whom Mr. Jobs turned in the late 1970s to help shape the Apple brand, said Mr. Jobs’s genius lay in his ability to simplify complex, highly engineered products, “to strip away the excess layers of business, design and innovation until only the simple, elegant reality remained.”

Mr. Jobs’s own research and intuition, not focus groups, were his guide. When asked what market research went into the iPad, Mr. Jobs replied: “None. It’s not the consumers’ job to know what they want.”

"Bob Dylan is favored to win Nobel Prize in literature."

"The British betting house has Dylan as the top possibility, running at 5-to-1 odds, ahead of Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami, who is in second place, and Syrian poet Adonis in third."

Crazy! I love Bob Dylan, but I don't think the Nobel Prize makes sense. It's like when they gave the Peace Prize to Obama. It feels like they're just trying to get a celebrity to visit the European Northland.

"At the dinner table, Phil sits between his wife and his girlfriend, across from the kids."

"He's a bus driver with an effusive personality and a stubbly goatee."

Polyamory hits Madison, Wisconsin.
During the course of conversation, he'll reach over and sweep a strand of hair behind Grace's ear or nuzzle his wife Katie after a joke. Their 9- and 11-year old boys babble cheerily about school. Their 17-year-old daughter Vionna comes home from work partway through the meal and pulls up a chair. She darts up to her room at one point and brings down a present for Grace, a pretty glass vial of perfume. Between all parties, there's a natural and easy vibe.
Oh, good Lord.

Jay Carney sloughs off the call for a special prosecutor in the "Fast and Furious" investigation.

"I think it's the biannual call for a special counsel by this particular congressman... Once every six months, we hear something similar."

It's just like all that other stuff you didn't notice. Nothing to see here.

AND: "Is CBS News Silencing Fast and Furious Reporter?"

"Sarah Palin Says She Will Not Seek the Presidency."

Breaking news at the NYT.

ADDED: I've changed the link to get to the specific story, which includes:
“Not being a candidate, you are unshackled and able to be even more active,” she said on... I look forward to using all the tools at my disposal to get the right people in there who have a servant’s heart.”
A servant’s heart! That's new. New to the current political discourse, at least. I can see that it's a standard phrase in the discussion of Christian humility.

Occupy Wall Street is coming to Madison... "Occupy Madison."

Jeesh. Just what we need. I mean... I appreciate the photo ops, but... I feel like I've been through this movie before.
... the event begins at 6 p.m. Friday at Reynolds Park, located off East Dayton Street near Lake Mendota. Actions are scheduled to run through Jan. 31.
Reynolds Park? After the occupation of the Capitol last winter, occupying Reynold Park seems like a rather pathetic encampment.

"I can't believe I've turned into a typical old man. I can't believe it."

"I was young just minutes ago."

Russ Feingold says Occupy Wall Street "will make the Tea Party look like ... a tea party."

Interviewed by Greg Sargent:
“The worm is finally turning on the nonsense of blaming the wrong people for what happened in 2008,” said Feingold, whose new group, Progressives United, was formed to counter the Citizens United decision and corporate influence over politics. “The American people are saying, wait, we have the boot of corporations on our necks, and we’re sick of it. This is a significantly coherent message at the beginning of something like this.”

At the Delicious Dahlia Café...

... you can get busy.

Elizabeth Warren "speaks from that odd place of 100% overlap between Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party."

Says Choire Sicha, after watching her in the Massachusetts Democratic Senator primary debate.

Setting the right free speech example.

Dean Daniel Polsby at George Mason Law School.

Meanwhile, at UW-Stout, after sufficient pressure, the Chancellor caved.

Legal proceedings against a couple who host a Bible study group in their home.

"Idiotic Demands of the Wall Street Protestors."

Okay, these really are idiotic demands... as read (and mocked) by Rush Limbaugh yesterday. But if you follow his link — to an Occupy Wall Street forum page — you'll see that they're the dream product of one person, who signs himself Lloyd J. Hart, and the first comment is negative:
Way too many demands, Lloyd. I'm not the only person saying this. Occupy Wallstreet needs a laser-like focus if you want to get people on your side!
There are 572 comments, and I'm not going to read them all. But does the whole movement have to take responsibility for stuff like...
Demand eleven: Immediate across the board debt forgiveness for all. Debt forgiveness of sovereign debt, commercial loans, home mortgages, home equity loans, credit card debt, student loans and personal loans now! All debt must be stricken from the "Books." World Bank Loans to all Nations, Bank to Bank Debt and all Bonds and Margin Call Debt in the stock market including all Derivatives or Credit Default Swaps, all 65 trillion dollars of them must also be stricken from the "Books." And I don't mean debt that is in default, I mean all debt on the entire planet period.
Rush says:
Look, we laugh. Let me tell you something, folks: They believe this. Let me tell you something. They are being taught this. There are adult college professors who teach this crap. Now, where do you think these lunkheads get this stuff? They didn't come out of the womb thinking this. I kid you not. They are being taught this in the deep, dark crevices of academe and peer pressure and everything else.
And that's what Rush is teaching in the deep, dark crevices of AM radio.

"Christie’s Decision Leaves Republicans With Stark Choice."

Headline in the NYT:
Republican voters are going to pick a challenger for President Obama who is a pragmatic member of the party’s establishment — or they will coalesce behind a firebrand whose primary appeal is to the Tea Party movement.
The only "establishment" candidate left now that Christie said no — according to the article — is Mitt Romney. So there's Romney, and then a bunch of others fighting for position as his non-establishment competitor.
Aides to Mr. Romney have long predicted that the nomination fight would produce that kind of philosophical contest. His top strategists often compare the Republican primary to a college basketball championship, with two separate brackets.
Romney has already won his bracket.

So is the choice "stark"? If the bracket image is apt, then people who want an establishment type have no choice to make. It's Romney. Those who like the other bracket have a set of candidates to keep looking at. Where's the stark choice? We'll only get a stark choice after the other bracket plays out.

October 4, 2011

"It irks me when someone says our young black children either go to charter schools or they go to prison... I have 4 children that went to Madison public schools, and all succeeded."

Said one of many speakers at the 3-hour public hearing last about the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy, "semi-private charter school proposed by the Urban League of Greater Madison, designed to raise graduation rates for at-risk students."
Some accused the Urban League of blaming the district for students' shortcomings....

More than few saw Madison Prep as an instrument of conservative groups pushing for the privatization of public education. Others worried that board approval would mark the return of segregated schools in Madison.

"This will contribute to the destruction of our public schools," said one.
I did not attend the hearing, but Meade did. Here's my favorite of the pictures he took. It seems to capture the mood of earnest but tired officials performing the obligation of listening to the people:

"Eight new Dodge Grand Caravans, purchased 10 months ago with $186,192 in federal stimulus funds..."

"... are sitting unused in storage at a county park because Waukesha County has found no takers for its proposed workers' van pool program."

At least we didn't take the train money. You can't just keep a train in storage.

"As the history of prohibition instructs, the surest way to defeat the right-to-life movement would be to make abortion illegal."

"Not solely because it would give the movement what it wants," says Michael Kazin, "but also because a firm majority of Americans still support the right to choose in all or most circumstances—just as a majority back in the 1920s probably thought it was all right to buy a drink (the polling business did not yet exist)."
A reversal of Roe (much less a “pro-life” amendment) would quickly make heroes and heroines out of health workers who violated the law—much as [the Ken Burns film "Prohibition"], and most histories of the period, glamorize tipsy flappers and gangsters wielding submachine guns. The long history of prohibition unmistakably demonstrates that a divided public will quickly turn hostile when protestors with decent motives elect officials who carry out indecent assaults on individual freedom. In America, a movement of moralists is never so vulnerable as when it succeeds.

"Sarah Palin has been quiet recently. Surprisingly quiet."

"Ms. Palin... is reportedly just days away from deciding whether to run for president."
In the meantime, her Twitter feed and Facebook page have gone silent for the last 10 days. Her Web site has not been updated recently. And Ms. Palin has not appeared on Fox News for a week, since before the last Republican presidential debate.

At the Sunset Café...

... you can do what you want, but we're watching the Brewers game. Hope they sweep the snakes.

"Scalia not dead, but bodies usually are."

Headline at the Washington Post.

The ultimate men in shorts picture.

John Currin's "Hot Pants."

From "Post-Darwinian Experiments in Consciousness and Other Stories" by Wells Tower and John Currin.

Siri on iPhone 4S.

My son Chris emailed to say he thinks it's creepy and...
If Steve Jobs were still in charge, would he have thought it was a good idea to put Hal the computer from 2001 on your iPhone as a primary feature?
... but I watched the video about it, and... wow! I love it!

And yes, I know, some article in the NYT said brain-imaging shows people literally love their iPhone.

I can tell you the point in the video when I fell in love: 0:50. A woman putting a cupcake batter in the oven tells the iPhone to set the timer.

On second viewing, I was struck by the low-key introduction of a blind woman: We see hands on Braille. She receives a spoken-word message and responds with speech. And that's the end of the video, the music comes up, and it's Ray Charles — he too was, of course, blind — singing "What'd I Say." Perfect!

"So, fine. I suppose that gives [Althouse] a little bit of cover for her obvious dislike of the cave-dwelling."

"Kind of like saying 'some of my best friends live underground!'"

Christie says NO.


Now, move on, people. It's no. NOOOOO!

Or... oh... wait... a ray of hope....
Two sources said he has started informing people of his decision in advance of his Trenton press conference.

Why Stanley Fish never wants to meet his personal piñata Jürgen Habermas.

Because he's so important. Because he needs him so much:
If he were taken away from me, I wouldn’t know what to do. I’d have to find someone else to be the object of my unreflective scorn. And that would prove difficult, given that Habermas, or anyone else who might fill this slot, has very particular views (the ones I love to hate), and installing a disciple or a simulacrum in his place would not really be satisfying....

[W]ere I ever to meet him, the odds are that I would like him (the public record suggests that he is an admirable fellow) and if I liked him it would be hard for me to continue beating up on him....

[W]hoever are the characters filling out your precious roster of perfect villains and nogoodniks, take care not to meet them. And if one of your antiheroes happens to turn up in a coffee shop you’re sitting in, get up and leave immediately.
Ha ha. He's saying that knowing that people use him that way (which he's okay with, since it means he's important). Just spell my name right is the old saying. And Stanley Fish is a lot easier to write than Jürgen Habermas. Also a lot easier to read.

And by the way, this is why I like writing from my remote outpost in the Midwest. I don't want to encounter the various politicos I want to inspect and criticize and mock. I need to protect myself from the squishiness that would infect my writing. I have gone out of my way not to meet, say, a Supreme Court Justice.

And this is why political candidates go roaming all over the countryside, looking for hands to shake, eyes to contact. Stay away. Don't let them infect you with their camraderie.

"I've never seen a beer hall on a campus before... I'm not sure how I feel about that!"

A lady from Nebraska tried to understand the Rathskeller.

(By the way... are you watching that Ken Burns "Prohibition" series on PBS?)

"This is way too healthy for a snack."

"Kids want healthy stuff like baked Doritos, but not an apple that they can get at home free."

The new vending machine is supposed to provide more "healthy choices," but kids don't buy the fresh fruit and vegetables. Actually, it sounds pretty gross: fruits and vegetables in a vending machine. It's supposed to be fresh, but the vending machine environment seems inherently unfresh.

"So, is Bloomberg’s story titled 'The Secret Sins of General Electric'?"

"Or, in the online version, 'General Electric Flouts Law With Secret Iran Sales?' Of course not. G.E. is generally identified with the Democratic Party. Does anyone seriously doubt that Bloomberg wanted to do a hit piece on Koch Industries solely because that company’s owners are prominent conservatives? Of course not."

Cops on bikes: "It's a hazardous duty in that you don't have a squad car around you."

"I don't think any of this is a risk that's above and beyond what we do on a daily basis. It's part of the job. It's an inherent danger to be a police officer. It's an inherent danger to be a bicycle officer. But the five in a month is obviously more than we'd like to see any time."

Life in Milwaukee.

"Mother always peed with the door open."

"I remember saying, 'You know, now I have friends over! You can't do that anymore! It's gotta stop!'"

You know, sometimes writing a memoir is a lot like peeing with the door open. And having everybody in the world over.

"The Obama Stimulus Should Have Been More Manly."

The Atlantic paraphrases something I said on Bloggingheads:
In the new book Confidence Men, Ron Suskind reports that President Obama initially wanted the stimulus plan to focus on generating infrastructure jobs so that it would address the economic and psychological needs of males in particular. Now blogger and law professor Ann Althouse argues that Obama was diverted by his female constituency into creating a jobs plan that failed because it wasn't male centered and infrastructure heavy. Here, in a Bloggingheads.tv debate with Amy Sullivan of Time Magazine, Althouse makes her case that the stimulus wasn't manly enough...
The embedded video at the link cuts off the set up, in which I tell you what's in the Suskind book that supports my hypothesis. So I recommend watching the video segment clipped here. And note that I'm suggesting a theory to be contemplated and studied in further depth. I'm not simply making an assertion that Obama was diverted by his female constituency and that the stimulus plan failed because it wasn't male centered. Obviously, I don't know that, and I don't purport to know things I don't know. It's a theory.

"Strike a (Heisman) pose, there's nothing to it."

Nice post title.

Adam Serwer doubles down on race after WaPo played its embarrassingly weak race card on Rick Perry.

From his perch at Mother Jones, Serwer says:
You might have anticipated that Perry would face a firestorm for being associated with the property, but it's Cain whose remarks are drawing the most criticism from the right. At RedState, Erick Erickson concluded, "It also seems to be a slander Herman Cain is picking up and running with as a way to get into second place." Glenn Reynolds remarked that until now, Cain's "big appeal is that he's not just another black race-card-playing politician." Over at the Daily Caller, Matt Lewis called Cain's remarks "a cheap shot, and, perhaps a signal that Cain is willing to play the race card against a fellow Republican when it benefits him."...

[It's not] just because Cain is attacking a fellow Republican, but because he stepped out of the proper role of a black conservative, which is to reassure Republicans that their political problems with race are the inventions of a liberal conspiracy....
And the Democratic template is to reassure Democrats that the Republicans have a race problem. That's what the Washington Post was doing, and that's what Serwer is doing now.
[C]onservatives might rally around Perry's embattled campaign because a man with the living memory of what life was like for black people in the segregated South had the chutzpah to suggest that there was something "insensitive" about a place called "Niggerhead." Meanwhile, Cain, whose stock was rising prior to the controversy, may have harmed his own presidential ambitions with the mere suggestion that a white Republican had been "insensitive" on an issue of race. How's that for postracial?
Just to turn down the heat a notch, I think the problem in what Cain said was a mistake in the facts as he was perhaps surprised by a question about a story that had just appeared in the news. He seems to miss the point that the word was painted over and he seems to think that "Niggerhead" was the official name of the place:
AMANPOUR: ... And it's been -- it's been painted over. But the report raises questions about whether this rock, this stone, with that word on it, was still on display even quite recently in the last several years. What is your reaction to that?

CAIN: My reaction is that is very insensitive.... And since Governor Perry has been going there for years to hunt, I think that it shows a lack of sensitivity for a long time of not taking that word off of that rock and renaming the place. It's just basically a case of insensitivity.

AMANPOUR: It was painted over.

CAIN: Yes. It was painted over. But how long ago was it painted over? So I'm still saying that it is a sign of insensitivity.
Cain showed an insufficient concern about accuracy, to the point where Amanpour had to prompt him about the facts. He was helping WaPo propagate its meme about Perry, southerners, and racism. To give him a pass on that because he's "a man with the living memory of what life was like for black people in the segregated South" — as Serwer put it — is patronizing. I doubt very much that Herman Cain wants that kind of special treatment. But, of course, it isn't really any kind of caring concern for this man and his painful memories. It's one more application of the template: Republicans have a race problem. Serwer is happy to perform that service. How's that for postracial?

Or is "How's that for postracial?" — Serwer's question, above — a taunt only to be aimed at Republicans? Democrats want to keep playing the race card game, right? Oh, I don't know. I seem to remember a presidential candidate back in 2008 making us feel that we were about to move into the postracial era. Was I only dreaming?

October 3, 2011

Spartan apples.

Spartan apples

A fruit of questionable parentage:

Dr. Don Fisher: ... Spartan was just one of the crosses... in this case it was supposed to be McIntosh and Newtown, but they found recently by genetic analysis that it didn't have Newtown as one of the parents, and these sort of mix-ups happen in fruit breeding.

Gillian Deacon: McIntosh is the female parent, but the pollen donor's identity remains a mystery. Named Spartan in 1936, the lucky accident proved to be a keeper.

What level of government do Americans trust most?

Gallup offers a clear picture (clear, that is, once you understand that "Executive branch" and "Legislative branch" refer to the federal government level):

Are you watching the Amanda Knox verdict?

I wasn't, but... now, I am. It's live here.

"The country I come from is called the Midwest....."

"With God On Our Side" is a great, if over-familiar Dylan song, but I love this cover version by Bon Iver, performed last week in Portland, which you can listen to here.

"Just when we had Rick Perry on the ropes, WaPo has to go and give his candidacy new life by creating a Perry vs. Liberal MSM controversy. "

"GOP primary voters don’t like being told they have 'no heart' — but they don’t like the press trying to take a Republican out with a second-order racial-insensitivity scandal either. … If I had to guess which candidate’s camp leaked this story, I might guess Perry’s. Who benefits?"

Mickey Kaus, via Instapundit — who also takes a shot at Herman Cain:
I think that Herman Cain hurts himself by joining in on these attacks. His big appeal is that he’s not just another black race-card-playing politician. Climbing on board with the Post’s hit piece suggests that actually, he is. It reminds me of Tim Pawlenty’s weak and opportunistic reaction to the attacks on Sarah Palin. I think that’s what killed his campaign. If you side with the media establishment against other Republicans, you won’t help yourself in this election cycle.
But you know who really benefits? Obama. And I don't mean because it's about race. Obama benefits whenever any subject other than the economy captures the public's attention.

ADDED: Here's Cain:

"Washington Post editor goes hunting up at 'Redskinsrock.'"

Meade emails, linking here.


What NPR's new CEO "would really like to see is depoliticizing NPR a little bit, so that it's not caught in those [political] cross hairs."

NPR's new leader, Gary E. Knell, comes from the world of children's television — "Sesame Street" and so forth. That's an... interesting solution to a political problem. The NPR board claims it was "looking for someone who, while he or she might not be a journalist, would gain the respect of journalists." And "Sesame Street" was the place to go for that? The question raised is: Where were all the leaders in the field of journalism? Were they all too politicized to get NPR out of the "cross hairs"? (I think "crosshairs" is one word, but that's the way NPR writes it.)
Over the past year, NPR has been roiled by a series of controversies — including the termination of the contract of news analyst Juan Williams last October, followed by an undercover video sting by the conservative provocateur James O'Keefe III in March. An edited version of the video released by O'Keefe appeared to show NPR's top fundraiser disparaging Republicans and Tea Party conservatives, though a closer review of the complete video showed many of those remarks were presented in a profoundly misleading way.

Much of NPR's senior leadership was swept away, including its news chief, the fundraising official and its chief executive, Vivian Schiller.

Congressional Republicans also renewed a push to cut all federal funding for the public radio system. That push fell short. But NPR's board — which is dominated by member stations that rely on federal money much more heavily than NPR itself — took the funding threat very seriously.
Solution? A man associated only with children's television.
Knell... wants to get out of the way of its journalists, whom he called "amazingly fabulous."

"The point here is that it's not about liberal or conservative. It's about fairness," Knell said. "We've got to make the case that we're delivering a fair service — not only in the way we do our jobs but in the way we disseminate the news."
Make the case... Knell, by the way, is a lawyer.
Several former commercial TV network news executives said they would not allow themselves to be considered seriously for the position in part because of the recent political turmoil surrounding the network.
Can you read between those lines? I'm guessing they didn't want their work examined for political bias.

"If everybody could see this, it would make people feel so good about this branch of government and how it’s operating."

Kenneth W. Starr —  former federal judge, Solicitor General and independent counsel — quotes Justice Elena Kagan in a NYT op-ed arguing — as so many have argued before — that the public deserves video access to the oral arguments in the U.S. Supreme Court.

The main argument against it, as stated by the resistant Justices, is that some Justices would showboat for the cameras and try to get the sound bite of the day. I think an unspoken reason why they resist cameras — when they release audio to the world — is that they don't want us all checking our how they look, particularly if they look tired and old. As I said back in 2005:
The Justices have life tenure, and they know how to use it. We just saw 11 years pass without a retirement. Presidents go through through entire terms without a single opportunity to choose a fresh voice for the Court. It has become the norm for Justices to hold their seats as they pass into old age and severe illness. With the support of four gloriously able and energetic law clerks and the silence of the other Justices, no slip in a Justice's ability ever shows in his writing. But the Justices do need to take their seats on the bench for oral argument, and it is here that the public has the chance to judge them.

This judgment may be unfair. Some Justices, as noted, are better looking than others. Some will subject themselves to hair and makeup specialists, and others won't tolerate it. And getting older damages even the prettiest face. Some Justices love the verbal jousting with the lawyers in the courtroom, while others think that all they need is the written argument and opt out of the live show. With cameras, Justice Scalia would win new fans, and "The Daily Show" would wring laughs from Justice Thomas's silent face. The read is inaccurate.

But the cameras would expose the Justices who cling to their seats despite declining ability. It is true that the journalists in the courtroom might tell us if a Justice no longer manages to sit upright and look alert. But the regular gaze of the television cameras would create a permanent but subtle pressure on the Justices to think realistically about whether they still belong on the Court. Self-interest would motivate them to step down gracefully and not cling too long to the position of power the Constitution entitles them to. I think this new pressure would serve the public interest. It would institute a valuable check on the life tenure provision, which has, in modern times, poured too much power into the individuals who occupy the Court.
A new counterargument occurs to me as I reread that. A President with the power to appoint a new Supreme Court Justice will think about how well the nominee will represent the administration's political agenda on TV. He'd want someone who looks and speaks persuasively to the public through the new medium.

Justice Kagan talked about making people feel so good about the judiciary, and, obviously, she intended to convey the notion that the Justices stick to legal arguments and apply themselves to puzzling through the various texts. But if one Justice — say, Elena Kagan — has the skill and charisma to project into the camera and make her approach to interpretation lodge in the minds of the people, those who support the other "side" would want an equivalently powerful voice. That good feeling could be comfort with the abuses of power by the other branches of government or a complacency that whatever we need and want can be provided by a benevolent Court.

And yet, I suspect, that if people had more access to the arguments, we would become involved in the substance of the law and attempt to work through the actual legal problems at a higher level than we do now. I know I would love the ability to make clips from the video to incorporate into blog posts that discuss and explain the issues. Of course, I would jump at the opportunity to extract funny little things for all sorts of diverse bloggerly purposes. But the Court, like the other branches of government, deserves to be laughed at too.

The Supreme Court begins its new term — "widely expected to be one of the most exciting and important Terms in recent memory."

That prediction of thrills and spills comes from Joshua Matz at SCOTUSblog, who links to lots of the mainstream press previews. I'll read a few of them and do separate posts if anything jumps out at me. For now, and to get this blog rolling on a Monday morning, I'll just say that an exciting Supreme Court adds an element of danger to the presidential campaigns.

October 2, 2011

"Thou art waxen fat, thou art grown thick, thou art covered with fatness...."

Anti-fat insults, from the Bible.

No, I didn't go looking for anti-fat insults, though I did have a tab open on the Frank Bruni column delving into the hot topic of whether Chris Christie is too fat to win a presidential election.
Let’s talk about discipline.... Discipline can... be overrated. A vegan-come-lately, President Clinton fought and often lost his struggles with diverse appetites...

[And] President Bush...  seemingly kept his midlife resolve never to touch booze again, worked out religiously, maintained an early bedtime and vacationed like clockwork at his ranch[.] Bush was arguably more disciplined in those arenas than his predecessor and successor combined, but discipline was entwined, as it often is, with an absolute certainty and even inflexibility. And those qualities arguably had consequences far greater than Christie’s evident gluttony might.
As an open tab, that item had a chance at getting blogged, but the fact is, I was just looking up "apple" in the Bible, for my previous post, and got drawn into Deuteronomy 32. If you think we are cruel to fat people today, you should see what God had in mind.

Spitzenburg apples.

Spitzenburg apples

This was, I keep reading, Thomas Jefferson's favorite apple, but the Monticello Explorer says:
'Esopus Spitzenburg' was one of Thomas Jefferson's two favorite Apple varieties, the other being 'Albemarle Pippin.' He planted thirty-two of these trees in the South Orchard at Monticello between 1807 and 1812. A.J. Downing, America's foremost nineteenth-century pomologist, described 'Esopus Spitzenburg' as "a handsome, truly delicious apple...unsurpassed as a dessert fruit...considered the first of apples." Today, Apple connoisseurs still consider this variety among the finest ever known. It bears handsome red apples, ripening in late autumn, with firm, juicy yellow flesh. The apples have a delicious, brisk, rich flavor that is unforgettable.

Spitzenburg apples

From a 2004 NYT article titled "Apples With Pedigrees Selling in Urban Edens":
The peculiarities of his varieties both vex and intrigue [Stephen Wood, the owner of Poverty Lane Orchards here, who planted 20 acres high-flavored "uncommon apples"]. His favorite — it was also Thomas Jefferson's — is Esopus Spitzenburg, bright red, with sky-high levels of sugar balanced by floral acidity. But its limbs grow chaotically, shading out the branches below, and it often produces "blind" wood, with no buds.

"It's the tree from hell," Mr. Wood said, waving his arms at a row of unruly Spitzes as if to say, "Behave!"

"From my perspective, however," he added, "the apples are sufficiently valuable that we put up with this nonsense."
We bought some in our "Urban Eden," the Dane County Farmers Market. Five dollars for a small bag. By the way, the word "apple" does not appear in Genesis. The first use of the word "apple" in the various English translations of the Bible that I am checking is in Deuteronomy, 32:10:
For the LORD's portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance. He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye.

I have a conspiracy theory, but I won't tell you what it is...

... because I hope the conspiracy — if it exists — succeeds. Some time next year, I'll tell you what the theory was, as this is a conspiracy that will play out within a limited time frame. Don't try to drag it out of me. I am not in this conspiracy, but I don't want to blow the lid off of it. It's has to do with certain political actors seeming to be pursuing one goal, when actually they seek the opposite.

"Brewers, Badgers send fans to sports nirvana."

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel headline:
Brewer blue and Badger red, part of the lifeblood of Wisconsin sports, and part of what may be the state's greatest sports weekend....
In the afternoon:
[T]he Brewers opened the National League Division Series with a thrilling 4-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks... with terrific pitching from Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo and a two-run homer by Prince Fielder.
In the evening:
... Wisconsin gave a Big Ten football welcome to Nebraska in a blowout win, 48-17....

Wisconsin fans wore red. Nebraska fans wore black....

Once the game started, Wisconsin's students and fans transformed Camp Randall into a rough sea of red. There were plenty of black shirts among the 81,384 in the stands, but Nebraska fans were outnumbered and overwhelmed to the same degree that their beloved Cornhuskers were outplayed.
The greatest weekend continues:
On Sunday, there's another doubleheader, the Green Bay Packers against the Denver Broncos at Lambeau Field at 3:15 p.m. and the Brewers against the Diamondbacks at Miller Park at 4:07 p.m.

"Lots of photos of Perry having nothing whatsoever to do with this story, and not a single one of the rock. Well done, WP!"

The first comment at a Washington Post article about how Rick Perry, early in his career, used to host events at a hunting camp where there was a rock that had the word "Niggerhead" painted on it.
Ranchers who once grazed cattle on the 1,070-acre parcel on the Clear Fork of the Brazos River called it by that name well before Perry and his father, Ray, began hunting there in the early 1980s. There is no definitive account of when the rock first appeared on the property. In an earlier time, the name on the rock was often given to mountains and creeks and rock outcroppings across the country. Over the years, civil rights groups and government agencies have had some success changing those and other racially offensive names that dotted the nation’s maps.
Does this have anything to do with Rick Perry (who, asked about the rock, said the word is an "offensive name that has no place in the modern world")? Well, yes, if you're inclined to think that Perry's rural Texas background has bred something nasty into him:
Perry has spoken often about how his upbringing in this sparsely populated farming community influenced his conservatism. He has rarely, if ever, discussed what it was like growing up amid segregation in an area where blacks were a tiny fraction of the population.
So what's he hiding, eh?

Reading on, we see that — according to Perry — Perry's father leased the property in 1983, and the first thing he did was paint over the word on the rock. And every time Perry saw the rock, it was painted over. But WaPo found 7 individuals who say they remember seeing the name on the rock during the time when Perry's father's name was on the lease. And:
Longtime hunters, cowboys and ranchers said this particular place was known by that name as long as they could remember, and still is.

“The cowboys, when they were gathering cattle, they’d say they’re going to the Matthews or Niggerhead or the Nail” pastures, said Bill Reed, a distributor for Coors beer in nearby Abilene who used to lease a hunting parcel adjacent to the Perrys’. “Those were all names. Nobody thought anything about it.”...

“You know, Texas is a little different — you go where it’s comfortable,” Reed said. “. . . It would have been one thing if [the Perrys] had named it, but they didn’t. So, it’s basically a figure of speech as far as most people are concerned. No one thought anything about it.”
No one thought anything about it. Those who are looking for a racial issue to play know how to jump on a phrase like that. Okay, then, let him who is without sin cast the first rock.

Obama must serve something to the assembled hungry masses, and this infected red meat is the best he's got.

Speaking to the Human Rights Campaign in Washington, DC last night:
"We don't believe in a small America. We believe in a big America ---- a tolerant America, a just America, an equal America -- that values the service of every patriot. We believe in an America where we're all in it together, and we see the good in one another, and we live up to a creed that is as old as our founding: E pluribus unum. Out of many, one. And that includes everybody. That's what we believe. That's what we're going to be fighting for."
I wonder if this high level of abstraction is going to work for him a second time. He is more specific in the previous paragraph, saying something that is hard to grasp — that the Republican candidates don't support the men and women in the military — unless you combine it with the meme that, at the last debate, they condoned or tolerated the booing of a gay soldier:
We don't believe in standing silent when that happens. We don't believe in them being silent since. You want to be Commander-in-Chief? You can start by standing up for the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States, even when it's not politically convenient. 
The meme is false, as explained here. There is a contagious lie and the President — he who often speaks of transcending divisiveness — is enthusiastically spreading it... while — ironically! — posing in the mantle of oneness, E pluribus unum. The crowd goes wild, by the way. Listen to the audio (at the link). They find the infected red meat scrumptious! And can you blame the poor man? He must serve something to the assembled hungry masses, and this — this! — is the best he's got.

And what does "We don't believe in them being silent since" mean? It's not a transcription error. I've checked the audio. Did he misread the TelePrompTer? There's no simple fix, like combining it with the next line, "You want to be Commander-in-Chief?" The pronouns don't match up. But the crowd loves it. This gibberish is quite delicious!