November 12, 2011

At the Oak Leaf Café...


... you can talk all evening... including chatting about the GOP debate.

A Japanese beauty trend: crooked fang teeth.

The "yaeba" look is supposed to make you look cute and young.

The Infinity Burial Project — with mushrooms...

... to take responsibility for toxins currently stored within your fleshly being. From bio-artist Jae Rhim Lee (wearing a mushroom death suit):

Will you be a decompinaut?

"Detroit evolving into a haven for artists."

"Cheap rents and a pioneering spirit are attracting artists, restaurants and nightspots to Detroit's decimated urban core. It's still early, but change is palpable."

"He gets drilled at the 22-yard line! What a stick!"

So says the ESPN announcer at the Penn State/Nebraska game — not noticing the accidental double entendre. Earlier they played this statement by Penn State's new president...


... and they had a reporter reporting from outside of Joe Paterno's house. They showed that earlier, 2 men came up and knelt down to pray — each in a manly on-one-knee stance. I'm pretty sure they were not praying for the kids. They were praying for Joe Paterno!

ADDED: Penn State should be super-careful what music they choose to blast over the public address system. Ridiculous to play "Tell Me Something Good":
You ain't got no kind of feeling inside
I got something that will sure 'nuff set your stuff on fire
You refuse to put anything before your pride
I got something that will knock all your pride aside...
Problem is you ain't been loved like you should
What I got to give will sure 'nuff do you good
NOTE: I am not finding anything funny here. I'm demanding more circumspection from ESPN and Penn State.

"When the Obama administration and Congress expanded the clean-energy incentives in 2009, a gold-rush mentality took over."

Write Eric Lipton and Clifford Krauss in the NYT:
The windfall for the industry over the last three years raises questions of whether the Obama administration and state governments went too far in their support of solar and wind power projects, some of which would have been built anyway, according to the companies involved....
Read the whole thing.

What if the famous mudflap girl...

... had nipples?

Would you call the cops?

"Zuccotti Park Day 54: No Smell of Urine or Feces."

Occupy [Your City] Headline of the Day.

Sex in Russian political ads.

This is from Vladimir Putin's United Russia Party, encouraging people to vote in the Russian parliamentary election:

Some Russians purport to be upset not by the sexuality but by the constitutional violation:
Gennady Gudkov, an influential Duma deputy, said he would ask prosecutors and the country's election commission to investigate the advert for violating the constitution.

..."United Russia has forgotten that voting in Russia is meant to be secret. According to the law, a person who drops their ballot in the box must be in the booth completely alone."

"Fans aren't shy about approaching him in public, often assuming he and his crass 'Curb [Your Enthusiasm]' alter ego are the same person."

"'Oh, I get Leon all day long,' Mr. Smoove said. Passersby on the street often call out his character's lewd catchphrases."

Ha ha. Which lewd catchphrase do you think they're calling out to him? You won't find out reading this Wall Street Journal profile of JB Smoove (AKA Jerry Brooks), which has stuff like this...
He started studying comedy in earnest in high school. "I loved Peter Sellers," he recalled. "I thought he was the perfect mix of physical comedy with out-of-the-box humor. I loved his tone, I loved his physicality, I loved everything about what he was doing as a comedic actor."
... but you might hear some of those catchphrases here:

"Katy Perry... transforms into old woman, recalls heartbreak with Diego Luna."

Don't most rich old ladies regret marrying the dull bastard who got them all their stuff and wish they'd spent their lives with the hot, passionate artist who ran off that one night when they'd had that big fight?

Don't ask me. That's not what I did with my life, but it's a fine old cultural meme — that the wives of rich men are so unhappy and that they wish they'd gone down the other road, the one with all that hot sex and emotional turbulence — and it's pithily realized in Katy Perry's new video "The One That Got Away." (I'm watching this because my son Chris emailed me to say: "I'm not generally a Katy Perry fan, but I think this new video is great and very emotionally effective.")

I'm worried that this video will influence young girls to get their boyfriends to draw DIY tattoos of hearts on their inner forearms, but quite aside from the unfortunate tattoo incitement...

[NOTE: Watch the video before answering, and answer the question asked.]

What lesson will young girls take from this video?
Art, beauty, and hot sex are much more important than material wealth.
Have a hot romance with a beautiful artist, but marry the guy who'll get you all that cool stuff.
You'll have to choose between love and money and live with whatever regrets ensue. free polls 

November 11, 2011

"Herman Cain Played the Race Card, But Liberals Are the Ones Who Dealt It."

John McWhorter:
Liberals have not only failed to acquit themselves well with their self-righteous deployments of race allegations—they have encouraged conservatives to follow their lead. Conservatives, unsurprisingly, have acquitted themselves equally poorly. The clip of Clarence Thomas making his “high-tech lynching” claim looks worse by the year. The one from last week of Cain on Fox News—when asked whether racism is behind the charges, all he came up with was “I believe the answer is yes, but we do not have any evidence to support it”—now joins it as a quintessential demonstration of flabby reasoning and sociopolitical cynicism.
Read the whole thing.

"The grand jury indictment had been filed under seal, but because of a computer glitch it had mistakenly been made public."

The grand jury report in the Penn State case was revealed by accident?!

The quote in the post title appears at the end of an article in the NYT about Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett:
Mr. Corbett, as state attorney general, had begun an investigation in 2009 into allegations that a former Penn State assistant football coach had abused young boys, and that university officials might have covered up the scandal. He had convened a grand jury, and his prosecutors had taken testimony. But when he ran for governor, and even after he took office, he was obligated to keep the investigation secret, even as he saw the university officials at the center of the investigation doing little to address the substance of the inquiry....
When the report became public, Corbett seems to have been key to the quick removal of Joe Paterno and university president Graham B. Spanier. According to NYT sources , Corbett, as a Roman Catholic, "was struck early on in the Penn State investigation by the similarities between the university’s failure to report allegations of sexual abuse involving Mr. Sandusky and the church’s failure to report pedophile priests."

Interesting. And good for Corbett. But let's hear more about that computer glitch.

"Nymph, in thy orisons/Be all my sins remembered."

Courtney Welbon gets an A+ in English and a viral video:

Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens talks about his "most unpopular opinion" — Kelo v. New London.

The WSJ reports:
"I had people at a bridge game stop me and ask, 'How could you have written that opinion? We thought you were a good judge, but we learned otherwise,'" [Justice Stevens] said. "But you can't explain the whole law of eminent domain to your bridge opponents."

He particularly criticized the logic of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.... The O'Connor dissent "took the position that public use is required in all cases except cases where they were remedying harm, getting rid of a nuisance or, in the case of the Hawaiians, correcting an injustice," Justice Stevens said in the interview. But in the 1954 case, "the irony of it is that the department store was in perfect condition," he said. "Their distinction was very unpersuasive."

"Although it goes without saying that the [Penn State] allegations are horrific regardless of the race of the children..."

"... a certain level of curiosity has developed about whether the alleged victims in this in this case -- boys participating in the Second Mile Mentor program for underprivileged kids -- were African American, with some asserting that they were. If that turns out to be true (the race of the mother of the victim in this video isn't clear) it will undoubtedly add one more level of analysis to this already-disturbing story. Many are already wondering, with good reason, if the identities and circumstances of the kids involved contributed to the allegations not being taken seriously."

I found that at The Root after I started wondering about that myself.

IN THE COMMENTS: carrie says:
"McQueary's reaction was the result of a lot of things, but he did tried to do something and he did more than he had to. The vilification of McQueary is going to have a chiling effect on the reporting of incidents like this. Could McQueary have done more--yes. Could he have done less--yes."
I say:
People need to act to protect children. McQueary did not do enough. He failed to go to the police. The "chilling effect" cuts the other way. People need to learn that telling your dad or your boss is not enough... unless you yourself are a child and don't understand what's going on. McQueary was an adult, and he [allegedly] walked away from a child he saw being raped. He went home and consulted with his father about what to do, then went to bed. Now, let's hear your speculation about the content of his discussion with his father. Assume it's your job to write up the scenario for a movie based on what happened. You can fictionalize, but all the facts we know need to be covered. Now what do the McQuearys, son and father, say to each other before they go off to sleep?

BTW, McQueary was just put on indefinite administrative leave.

"Speech-based 'lie detection'? I don't think so."

Mark Liberman excoriates the press for believing some guy who purports to know that Herman Cain is not lying.

Are Pennsylvania hunters upset about the boom in natural gas drilling in the state?

Katharine Seelye deploys some purple prose to help NYT readers think that they are.
STATE GAME LAND 59, Pa. — For those who have ever stalked deer, turkey and bear here in “God’s Country” in north central Pennsylvania, this hunting season is like no other.
God's Country? Yeah, that's the way the folk talk out there in State Game Land 59, Pennsylvania.
For one thing, it is louder. The soundtrack of birds chirping, thorns scraping against a hunter’s brush pants and twigs crunching underfoot is now accompanied by the dull roar of compressor stations and the chugging of big trucks up these hills.
This sounds like one of those NPR reports with a soft-voiced radioman crunching through the leaves.
The Marcellus Shale, a vast reserve of natural gas lies beneath some of this state’s most prized game lands. And now, more and more drills are piercing the hunting grounds. Nine wells have cropped up on this one game land of roughly 7,000 wooded acres in Potter County, and permits have been issued for 19 more.
7,000 wooded acres! Oh my gosh! That's half the size of Manhattan! Before long, what will be left of Pennsylvania?
An old dirt road that meandered up a ridge here has been widened and fortified. Acres of aspen, maple and cherry trees have been cut. In their place is an industrial encampment of rigs, pipes and water-storage ponds, all to support the extraction of natural gas through the process of hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking.
Acres of the most beautiful possible trees that people in NYC are capable of picturing. Aspen! Maple! Cherry! Replaced by — God help us! — industrial equipment! Oh, noooo! We had our heart set on thinking about you Pennsylvania rural types as rust-belters.

Remember Barack Obama, campaigning for President, back in 2008? He said, speaking to elites in San Francisco:
"You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them... And they fell through the Clinton Administration, and the Bush Administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."
Somehow these communities are gonna regenerate... and now, they are regenerating. They've got a fabulous boom in the works. But the NYT would like us to think that the boom is mussing up the old hunting grounds? There's machinery grinding and clanking making it harder to hear the crunch of fallen leaves!
“Who wants to go into their deer stand in the predawn darkness and listen to a compressor station?” lamented Bob Volkmar, 63, an environmental scientist who went grouse hunting the other day through these noisy autumnal woods. “It kind of ruins the experience.”
Volkmar is a hunter, yes, but he's also an an environmental scientist. That is, he's got a pretty sweet job. What does the average Pennsylvania hunter think? Isn't he stoked about the economic development and the potential for good jobs for lots of Pennsylvanians? And doesn't he know plenty of alternative hunting grounds?

Perry goes on Letterman for a "Top Ten Rick Perry Excuses."

You can read the list here, but it's actually pretty fun to watch. Perry is good at doing comedy. In fact, he's so good at doing comedy, he can do comedy without even trying.

I liked #2: "I wanted to help take the heat off my buddy Herman Cain."

But I was especially interested in #10:
Actually there were three reasons I messed up last night: One was the nerves, and two was the headache, and three, um… uh… oops.
What caught my ear was the pronunciation of "oops." Did you notice the difference between the way he said it there and the way he said it at the end of the 53 seconds of hell on Wednesday night? He said it the old-fashioned way, with the "oo" as in "foot." In the debate, he said the "oo" as in "moo," which is a recent and especially girlish way to say it. It's the way Britney Spears pronounces it in "Oops! I Did It Again." (Hey that guy in the space helmet looks like Rick Perry!)

And by the way, there was something painfully school-girlish about the last 10 seconds of the 53 seconds. He starts the list of 3 over again, like a kid who's memorized a list. Then there's the pathetic... "I can't... I can't..." And finally, "oops," said with the Britney Spears pronunciation that seems to express an inane lack of interest in one's own helplessness.

And this extremely weak, girlish ending is especially bad because of the hypermasculine beginning: "And I will tell you, it's 3 agencies of government, when I get there, that are gone." Like he's that Texas gunslinger, comin' in there to git ya. But who's he gonna git? He doesn't even know!

That's why we shouldn't feel sorry for him. He wants to be the guy who's gonna git in there and do big things. He just knows what needs to be done and he's got the balls to do it. But if he doesn't know what he's doing... !!!

"It’s called Zuccotti lung."

"It’s a real thing."

Herman Cain's lawyer, Lin Wood, a defamation expert.

He says he's not there to file lawsuits against the women who are accusing Cain, but to "give him my legal evaluation of whether any of these particular statements are potentially actionable." Whatever he says about filing lawsuits, his presence on Cain's team is a way to caution accusers and, at the very least, influence them to be careful about what they say.

Wood has some interesting names on his list of former clients:
Wood represented Richard Jewell, who was suspected and cleared of the Atlanta Olympic Park bombing and later filed libel suits against media organizations and a local college, some of which were settled.

Wood's other notable clients included John and Patsy Ramsey, suspected but later cleared in the unsolved murder of their daughter, JonBenet Ramsey. The couple filed defamation suits against a number of media companies.

Wood also filed a defamation lawsuit against Vanity Fair magazine writer Dominick Dunne on behalf of former Congressman Gary Condit, who was romantically involved with intern Chandra Levy but never an official suspect in her 2001 murder. The suit was settled for an undisclosed amount.
Those are all people who were dreadfully accused in the press.

Perry's screwup goes viral.


What will you do with all the eleventosity today?

Something special at 11 a.m. and 11 p.m.?

Are you going to keep talking about turning it up to 11 or are you going to get annoyed at people who are debasing the sublime by continually making the same aged rock-music reference?

For variety: Here's the Grateful Dead playing "The Eleven" in 1968.

But who's into variety, when the whole point is sameness? You've got those ones all lined up. Is that exciting? Are you the kind of person who finds lined up numbers exciting... like 999? Or 666?

If you think 11/11/11 is exciting, imagine how folks wet their pants over November 11, 1111, the most digitally lined-up day in the entire history of the world. Mankind will have to survive — and maintain its numerical system — until 11/11/11111 for there to be another day like that.

Did anything happen on 11/11/1111? Not according to Wikipedia's compendium of things that have happened on November 11ths. Perhaps the most interesting — for us Americans, anyway — event that took place on history's thousands of 11/11s is The Mayflower Compact, in 1620. And in 1930:
1930 – Patent number US1781541 is awarded to Albert Einstein and Leó Szilárd for their invention, the Einstein refrigerator.
Albert Einstein invented the refrigerator?!

Speaking of cold, there's only one 11/11/11 event on that list. 11/11/1911, and the event is just that it was a very cold day in the Midwest. Well, it's 30° here in Madison, Wisconsin, and it's supposed to hit 41° at 11 when we reach maximum elevenosity. I think we can handle that.

ADDED: I'm getting justly slaughtered in the comments for not recognizing Veterans Day:

AND: I'm getting cold-shouldered in the comments for minimizing the weather event of 1911. From today's Wisconsin State Journal:
The freakishly warm and humid weather that sunny Saturday set the stage for Rock County's worst weather disaster....

Shortly before 2 p.m., it was 74 degrees. Then, in a matter of minutes, the temperature plummeted 10 degrees in downtown Janesville. By that night, it had fallen to zero.

A massive cold front had slammed into the warm air, unleashing a rash of storms and tornadoes throughout the Midwest.

November 10, 2011

Peggy Noonan found Rick Perry's "brain freeze" "endearing."

I see the point:
Rick Perry's candidacy wasn't going anywhere before the famous 53-second brain freeze. Now it's official. To me it was the first thing he's done that was endearing. You're out there live in front of six million people, they're watching closely, you're under the lights, every word counts—and you blank. You forget the third element of your robotic soundbite. This is human. But we don't want our presidents to be human, we want them to be perfectly prepped and drilled so we can make fun of their inauthenticity.
Ha. Exactly. Speaking of which:
Mitt Romney, of course, did well, and continues to deserve an award for Heroic Self Discipline in the Cutaway Shot. He looks at the other candidates with a benign, encouraging look, as if he'll take no pleasure in it at all when he squashes them like bugs.
Oh, yeah, the split screens with Romney looking on completely crack me up. I've been wracking my brains trying to come up with the right description, and Peggy's take is just perfect.

"Ultrasound of patient’s testicles reveals startling image of a man in agony."

"Tumor stared right back at doctors."

Crooks & Liars falls for anti-Cain hoax.

How dumb do you have to be to think for 2 seconds that was an official Herman Cain webpage?

I have had problems with people impersonating me on Facebook and in comments on a prominent lefty site. When I objected I was mocked because supposedly everyone knows when it's a joke. But obviously, that is not so.

Sarah Palin says: "Fire Eric Holder."

A new Facebook missive:
He’s either lying [about Fast & Furious] or he’s so grossly incompetent and lazy that he didn’t read important life and death briefings from his deputy attorney general and didn’t know about this deadly operation run by people under him. So, which is it? Incompetent, lazy, or lying? No matter which explanation fits, he needs to go.

"A kid would say ‘pizgetti’ instead of spaghetti, and Jeffy would say, ‘Can I wear my short-sleeve pants?'"

The wholesome humor of "The Family Circus" — love it or loathe it — was a changeless fixture of the comics pages for so many years, drawn by Bil Keane, who died on Tuesday at the age of 89.

It was a favorite target for the great comics blogger The Comics Curmudgeon, and here's his tribute to Keane:
We owe him a debt of thanks for providing such a tempting target for mockery over the years — mockery that he was by all accounts incredibly good-natured about (he even collected Family Circus spoofs). His own sense of humor was reportedly a lot edgier than what the strip became best known for, as some of the early panels (like the one from 1960 above) demonstrate. RIP, Big Daddy Keane.

Meanwhile, little Jeffy (age 53) has been writing and drawing the strip for years now, so expect exactly zero changes on that front, and our mockery to continue unabated.
Well, that's nice, but let's click on the "Family Circus" tag and read some of that old mockery:

Love is leaving Obama.

Love had been "a constant presence in the West Wing and by the president’s side during every trip away from home."

Meanwhile, Chief of Staff Bill Daley is slipping away:
In truth... Daley never fully meshed with the tight-knit culture of the White House in the first place...

“Daley never got settled”....

"But what if labor unions and young people joined together on issues beyond repealing Senate Bill 5, the law to restrict union rights in Ohio?"

"Such an alliance has the potential to create a powerful political force. Unions have the experience, organization, money and political know how. Young people have the numbers and the passion."

Linda Killian explores the potential for a serious, ongoing youngsters-and-unions coalition.

She quotes AFL-CIO Political Director, Mike Podhorzer, who says: "The primary goal of unions is to create good paying jobs and that's something that young people can't find these days."  

The primary goal of unions is to create good paying jobs? How is that?

I thought the primary goal of unions was to hold onto and to improve existing jobs, even if it means fewer jobs and shutting out people — like today's young people — who don't currently have jobs. I think a lot of young people like the idea of unions and will come out to rallies and elections in support of unions, and they're not analyzing their own personal interests very well. That's youthful idealism. But how far can you go with that when the interests diverge?

In Wisconsin, I've talked to many young people who are passionate about supporting union members whose jobs are far better than the jobs they have or expect to get any time soon. They seem to believe in the solidarity and to hope — without examining the causality — that the benefits will trickle down to them. Meade and I have challenged various young protesters about the cogency of their thinking, and they don't have a good answer. They want to believe they know who the bad guys are. As the chant goes: "Union busting/It's disgusting."

Having no job at all? That's disgusting too. But you have to figure out who to be disgusted with.

Rioting Penn State students, trying to make the point that "the media is responsible for JoePa going down."

That's one student's interpretation of what the mob was trying to say:
An orderly crowd first filled the lawn in front of Old Main when news of Mr. Paterno’s firing came via students’ cellphones. When the crowd took to the downtown streets, its anger and intensity swelled. Students shouted “We are Penn State.”

Some blew vuvuzelas, others air horns. One young man sounded reveille on a trumpet....

Just before midnight the police lost control of the crowd. Chanting, “Tip the van,” they toppled the news vehicle and then brought down a nearby lamp post. When the police opened up with pepper spray, some in the crowd responded by hurling rocks, cans of soda and flares. They also tore down street signs, tipped over trash cans and newspaper vending boxes and shattered car windows.

Some students noted the irony that they had come out to oppose what they saw as a disgraceful end to Mr. Paterno’s distinguished career as a football coach, and then added to the ignobility of the episode by starting an unruly protest....

As the crowd got more aggressive, so did police officers. Some protesters fought back. One man in gas mask rushed a half dozen police officers in protective gear, blasted one officer with pepper spray underneath his safety mask and then sprinted away. The officer lay on the ground, rubbing his eyes.
I'm interested in the way this protest resembles the Wisconsin protests and the Occupy [Your City] protests and the way it does not. We have a growing culture of protest in America right now. There are certain clichés, like: "We are [X]." So: "We are the 99%" is echoed here as "We are Penn State." There's a group claiming to embody far more people than are present at the protest. There are the vuzuvelas.

But the Penn State protest instantly went into riot mode, with violence galore. That makes it different from the Wisconsin protests, which got very big and went on for weeks and weeks, with lots of noise, but practically nothing that can be called violence and only one truly disorderly night, nearly a month into the protests. And even that did not include a battle with the police. The the Occupy [Your City] protests have likewise dragged on for a long time, in a lot of different places, but people are working reasonably well to control each other, even as criminals and lowlifes can easily join the overnight camps.

But look at Penn State. The young people receive the news that their hero-coach got the boot, and they're there in instant full riot mode. Why the difference? You might say it's an outburst of pure emotion. What happened has already happened. There's no policy to influence, no course of events to sway. There's nothing left to do but howl. But look at that quote I put in the post title, and look at the way the attacks were directed at reporters. There does seem to be a message beyond inarticulate screams of rage and sorrow. It's directed not at the government and not at the banks and the corporations, but at the media. The media was unfair. The media took a great man down. The protesters may be in a frenzy, but — taking that quote for all it's worth — the media had its feeding frenzy on Joe Paterno and destroyed him overnight.

There's a lot to think about here, but I want to highlight the anger at the media. Of all the things that are firing up protesters these days, it is the media that fired the most rage.

November 9, 2011

Paterno and Spanier are out now at Penn State.

That was necessary.

Rick Perry's "oops."

How horrible is it?
Utterly devastating.
Bad, but things like that can happen.
Not such a huge deal. Relax, people.
It's a trifle. Everyone blanks out sometimes, and he seemed good humored. free polls 

ADDED: My son John is live-blogging the debate, and here's how he covered the Perry gaffe:
9:17 - My brother Chris IMs (and gives me permission to quote):
Perry just had the worst moment of any candidate in a debate I think I've ever seen!
Perry started out by saying he was going to list 3 agencies that should be abolished. He said "Education, Commerce" — but then spent a very long time trying to think of the third one. Another candidate suggested: "EPA." Perry jokingly said, "Yeah, the EPA." The moderator asked Perry if he seriously meant the EPA, and he said no. Finally, he admitted he just couldn't think of the rest of his message. Perry ended his segment by actually saying out loud: "Oops!"
UPDATE: Perry comments:
"I'm glad I had my boots on tonight... I stepped in it out there.... I stepped in it, man. Yeah, it was embarrassing. Of course it was."
ADDED: I bet Rick Perry really hates the Energy Department now.

AND: Perry's Intrade stock crashed immediately. Click on "last day." It goes from around 9 to below 4 instantly.

"Interesting, smart liberals are called... conservatives."

Said Meade, just now, as I was reading the poll results and the comments on this post on Herman Cain and expressing my puzzlement about how so few of my readers are liberals. I said: "Why do conservatives find what I'm saying so yummy? I would have thought interesting, smart liberals would love this."

The artist Christo gets approval for his project wrapping the Arkansas River.

The L.A. Times reports:
“Over The River” comprises eight huge, silvery fabric panels spanning 5.9 miles directly above the Arkansas River where it flows through Bighorn Sheep Canyon and the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area....

The project’s hefty environmental impact study showed that threats to native wildlife were many and complex. The huge steel cables required to hang the fabric would stretch from bank to bank, for instance, requiring heavy construction to install. Several mitigation measures were required to protect bighorn sheep, which live and breed in the canyon (hence the name), including construction restrictions from April 15 to June 30 every year. Also, OTR agreed to build habitat improvements and water developments to allow the sheep access to water and new habitat, and to create a fund that would continue to look after the sheep for years after the project is dismantled.
Years ago, I hated Christo. I thought of him as arrogant and elitist, but I don't think that anymore. As I said back when Christo put up "The Gates" in Central Park:
I must admit that's what I thought of Christo for decades, as I read about his projects in various news reports. But I completely changed my mind about him when I watched the Maysles Brothers documentaries ("5 Films About Christo and Jeanne-Claude" ...). I was won over and came to believe that Christo is an art saint.
I think part of the art is the interaction with the local people and the authorities. I think of it as including a performance art component that is about law.

"Will GOP debate be sidetracked by Herman Cain sexual harassment allegations?"

"The Republican debate Wednesday is supposed to focus on the economy. It’s likely, though, that Herman Cain's sexual assault allegations will dog him throughout the debate."

Well, that's absurd. Cain's troubles are playing out in the public arena. We've heard his defense: He didn't do it. I don't want to hear more of that. I want all the candidates to have their shot at distinguishing themselves on the merits. That's especially important if Cain's candidacy is collapsing. I am satisfied with Romney getting the nomination, but I know a lot of people want another option. Tonight is an important opportunity for someone who isn't Cain (or Romney) to move forward.

I'll be covering the debate after some time lag, because I've got an appointment that cuts into the first hour. Please use the comments on this post to talk about the debate when it starts in a couple hours, and I will join you later.

ADDED: Sexual assault allegations?

Woman stabs a man 300 times — allegedly — in sexual activity that got "out of hand."

The 18-year-old man — according to the police affidavit — met the woman on line and traveled from Phoenix to Milwaukee for some consensual activity:
"Once he got to the residence, he was bound and stabbed numerous times over a time frame of what he described as two days," the affidavit states....

Officers followed a blood trail to an apartment in the 900 block of E. Knapp St, where the door to one of the units was open. Inside, there was blood on the floor and on bedding in a bedroom as well as duct tape that appeared to be a restraint, according to the affidavit.

A 22-year-old woman introduced herself to officers, saying, "I think you are here looking for me."...
When police searched the apartment, they found a book entitled "Werewolf's Guide to Life," a necromantic ritual book; and a black folder called "Intro to Sigilborne Spirits." According to various websites, Sigilborne spirits include female werewolf spirits who engage in sexual acts.
Ow-ooh... Werewolves of Milwaukee.

"Cain aide wrongly insists they've 'confirmed' accuser's son works for Politico."

Writes Maggie Haberman in Politico:
"Her son works at POLITICO," [Mark] Block said of Karen Kraushaar, whose name POLITICO printed earlier today after other media outlets made her identity public.

"I've been hearing that all day - you've confirmed that now?" Hannity asked.

"We've confirmed that he does indeed work at POLITICO and that's his mother, yes," said Block.

Block appeared to be referring to former POLITICO reporter Josh Kraushaar, who left for another outlet, National Journal, in 2010.

Josh Kraushaar tweeted earlier in the day, apparently after getting questions, that he's in fact not related to Karen Kraushaar, and simply has the same last name.
Oh, but Mark Block is an outlaw. He takes a drag on that cigarette. He's a rebel. The rules don't apply to him.

Allahpundit predicts:

You’re going to see three camps quickly emerge on this story. Camp one: “I can’t believe Block threw that accusation out there without confirming it.” Camp two: “Maybe … Block was thinking of another reporter?” (Some Cainiacs are already tweeting this.) Camp three: “Josh Kraushaar is lying; he really is Karen’s son. Where’s the birth certificate?” Place your bets now, as Block’s sure to be forced to clarify tomorrow what he meant.
Well, that was written last night, so add to "Camp one": "I can't believe Block didn't immediately clarify what he meant." What an embarrassing screwup!

Were you/are you a Cain supporter?
I never was, but I've liked him, and I'm sorry to see him fail this badly.
I never was, and I'm glad his inexperience is showing up early to keep him from getting nominated.
No, but I'm sorry he's failing, because Obama would beat him.
I was, but I've given up on him.
I was, but I'm in the process of letting go.
I was and I still am. It's a difficult fight, but it's worth it.
I was and I am, even more so now. I'm invigorated to fight this high-tech lynching. free polls 

Obama administration calls Christmas trees "Christmas trees"... and taxes them.

It sound amusingly Grinch-y, but let's be fair. The 15-cent charge is to support a program to "enhance the image of Christmas trees and the Christmas tree industry in the United States."

What makes it very funny to me is that just yesterday, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was lambasted for calling a Christmas tree a "Christmas tree." Linking to my post about that, The Anchoress wisecracks:
See, this is where Governor Walker made his mistake: If you want to call ‘em Christmas Trees, you have to tax them, first. Then you’re allowed.
Now, I said I was going to be fair, so here goes, and this isn't intended to be funny at all. This is intended to focus on the constitutional principles about religion and government. In Wisconsin, we've got a tree in the state capitol, the government's own display. Calling that particular tree a "Christmas tree" adds something to what already is the appearance that the state is endorsing or favoring a holiday that originated with one set of religious groups, the Christians.

In the case of the Department of Agriculture's new Christmas Tree Promotion Board, the government is involving itself with a particular crop and using the name of the crop that is used by those who are in the business of growing that crop. That is, the Department of Agriculture is going about its usual business — which you are welcome to view as too intrusive — and not giving special hands-off treatment to this crop that happens to have an end-use in activities that have some connection to a particular religion.

UPDATE: The Department of Agriculture is delaying the new fee, and a White House spokesman is saying:
"I can tell you unequivocally that the Obama Administration is not taxing Christmas trees. What’s being talked about here is an industry group deciding to impose fees on itself to fund a promotional campaign, similar to how the dairy producers have created the ‘Got Milk?’ campaign."

"It would appear to be the rare case of a pedophile caught in the act, and you’d think a graduate student would know enough to stop the rape and call the police."

"But [Mike] McQueary, who was 28 years old at the time, was a serf in the powerfully paternal Paternoland. According to the report, he called his dad, went home and then the next day went to the coach’s house to tell him."

Writes Maureen Dowd in the New York Times.
Paterno, who has cast himself for 46 years as a moral compass teaching his “kids” values, testified that he did not call the police at the time either. The family man who had faced difficult moments at Brown University as a poor Italian with a Brooklyn accent must have decided that his reputation was more important than justice.
In case you've forgotten, the story Paterno heard — according to the grand jury report — was that McQueary, a graduate assistant coach, saw "a naked boy about 10 years old 'with his hands up against the wall, being subjected to anal intercourse by a naked Sandusky.'"

Now, let's remember how the New York Times reported on the Penn State story a couple days ago. I wrote:
NYT says Joe Paterno "not implicated of wrongdoing in a grand jury report."

That's buried in the last paragraph of today's article — by Mark Viera — on the Penn State scandal, followed by this paean to Paterno:
Paterno helped propel Penn State to the top tiers of college football, and the university had one of the most pristine images in the sport, largely thanks to Paterno and his success in 46 seasons as head coach.
But the indictment did allege facts that implicated Paterno!
The NYT had trouble facing up to the reality that Paterno was implicated in terrible moral wrongs. It's good to see Dowd's column attacking the entire power structure at Penn State. All are to blame. A man who was seen raping children was harbored and protected and empowered for over a decade. Read the entire timeline summarized by Dowd. There's no way Paterno could cut himself off from responsibility once he had knowledge.

UPDATE, 9:56 a.m.: Paterno retirement announced.

"Voters turned a skeptical eye toward conservative-backed measures across the country Tuesday..."

"... rejecting an anti-labor law in Ohio, an anti-abortion measure in Mississippi and a crackdown on voting rights in Maine."

The NYT's Katharine Q. Seelye begins her coverage of yesterday's elections.
Taken together, Tuesday’s results could breathe new life into President Obama’s hopes for his re-election a year from now. But the day was not a wholesale victory for Democrats. Even as voters in Ohio delivered a blow to Gov. John R. Kasich, a Republican, and rejected his attempt to weaken collective bargaining for public employees, they approved a symbolic measure to exempt Ohio residents from the individual mandate required in Mr. Obama’s health care law.
But Obama has never advocated collective bargaining rights for federal workers. His name is all over the health care law. So it's hard to see much good news here. 
And while voters in Mississippi, one of the most conservative states, turned away a measure that would have outlawed all abortions and many forms of contraception and had drawn conservative support from members of both parties, they tightened their voting laws to require some from of government-approved identification....
Actually, it would have been great news for Democrats if Mississippi voters had gone for the extreme anti-abortion law. Democrats would have used that result to scare, motivate, and manipulate voters. It's their very favorite wedge issue. There's much less potential for leveraging the voter ID issue. Seelye reminds us that Democrats portray voter-ID laws as "a thinly disguised attempt to intimidate voters of color," but I suspect that most voters find that sort of race-mongering unpleasant.

(I had to make a "2011 elections" tag for this post, which is another way of saying I having been paying much attention to the off-year elections. Sorry. These are very interesting issues, and I've been following the Wisconsin iterations of the collective bargaining and voter ID issues.)

Security for Gov. Scott Walker costs twice what it cost to protect the previous Wisconsin Governor.

The Milwaukee State Journal reports:
David Erwin, a captain in the State Patrol and the head of the unit that protects the governor, said the threats against Walker have reached a new level. State officials declined to discuss those threats or the governor's security in any detail because they said it might put him at risk.

"Any threats targeting the governor, his family and the lieutenant governor are not comparable to past administrations. Because of the increased threat level, for the first time we need to provide security at this level for the (lieutenant governor) and the governor's family," said a statement by Erwin, who also led the unit when [Jim] Doyle was governor....
Walker, a Republican, has been demonized by his opponents, because of his approach to fixing the state budget, which included withdrawing some collective bargaining rights for some government employees. Doyle, for what it's worth, was a Democrat.
The state has also paid nearly $8.2 million for increased law enforcement at the Capitol this year in the midst of massive demonstrations over the union legislation, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau....

November 8, 2011

"Friday marks The Date That Most Resembles Corduroy."

"I'm so excited I just can't contain myself."

"It’s time to be honest with the 50 million Americans, and hundreds of millions around the world, who use tobacco."

"The benefits they get from tobacco are very real, not imaginary or just the periodic elimination of withdrawal. It’s time to abandon the myth that tobacco is devoid of benefits, and to focus on how we can help smokers continue to derive those benefits with a safer delivery system."

Time to expose the prohibitionists who want to deprive people of the drug that is nicotine.

"Former President Bill Clinton said... presidents should be able to run for a third term as long as they take off some time after their second term."

All right then...

It's Bill Clinton versus George W. Bush... who do you vote for?
Bill Clinton!
George W. Bush! free polls 

Cain: "I have never acted inappropriately with anyone, period."

"The charges and the accusations I absolutely reject: They simply didn't happen. They simply did not happen."
"As [Sharon Bialek] got to the microphone, my first thought was, 'I don't even know who this woman is,' " said Cain. He said he could not remember Bialek from the National Restaurant Association, where he was president and CEO from 1996 to 1999, and "where she said she worked."
Asked about Karen Kraushaar, an accuser whose name was made public Tuesday, Cain called her allegations baseless. "To the best of my recollection that is the one that I recall that filed a complaint, but it was found to be baseless." He said he doesn't remember any of her accusations, except for making a gesture that she was the same height as his wife.

Cain said there was a "machine" trying to keep a businessman out of the White House, and said Sharon Bialek was a "troubled woman" put forward by "the Democrat machine."
"As far as these accusations causing me to back off and maybe withdraw from this primary race, ain't gonna happen, because I am doing this for the American people and for the children and the grandchildren."

Governor Walker calls the Christmas tree a "Christmas tree."

The roughly 30-foot-tall tree was called a Christmas tree from the first display in 1916 until 1985. That's when politicians bowed to concerns about government endorsing religion and started referring to it as a holiday tree.
Said tree is in the Capitol rotunda, which was protest central last winter. Seems like that darned rotunda is a magnet for trouble.
The Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation has opposed the term Christmas tree, saying it offends nonreligious people and amounts to a government endorsement of Christianity.
The president of that group, Annie Laurie Gaylor, called Walker's decision rude and insensitive to non-Christians.

"The reason that it was turned into a holiday tree was to avoid this connotation that the governor chooses one religion over another," she said. "It's essentially a discourtesy by the governor to announce that. He intends that to be a slight and a snub to non-Christians, otherwise he would not do it."
Here's the actual press release from the Governor: "Governor Walker Invites Youth to Decorate the State Capitol Christmas Tree." The term "Christmas tree" appears 6 times in the press release.

By chance, I was teaching the Christmas display cases in my Religion and the Constitution class this afternoon. In one of the cases, Allegheny County v. Greater Pittsburgh ACLU, there's a Christmas tree alongside an 18-foot-tall menorah, which the Supreme Court accepts as not violating the Establishment Clause. The Court says:
The Christmas tree, unlike the menorah, is not itself a religious symbol. Although Christmas trees once carried religious connotations, today they typify the secular celebration of Christmas.... Numerous Americans place Christmas trees in their homes without subscribing to Christian religious beliefs, and when the city's tree stands alone in front of the City-County Building, it is not considered an endorsement of Christian faith.... The widely accepted view of the Christmas tree as the preeminent secular symbol of the Christmas holiday season serves to emphasize the secular component of the message communicated by other elements of an accompanying holiday display, including the Chanukah menorah.
Isn't it funny that in all that discussion of what a secular symbol the Christmas tree is, the Supreme Court keeps calling it a Christmas tree?

"Yes, nothing goes better with a brutal political attack than acoustic guitars and whistling."

That's sarcasm, but I actually think incongruously lighthearted music is captivating.

Can you think of some examples of incongruously lighthearted music accompanying a brutal attack? The "Singin' in the Rain" scene in "Clockwork Orange" comes to mind.

But come on, Jon Huntsman on Mitt Romney is a far cry from ultraviolence.

AND: As for whistling and violence... don't forget "M"!

Search of an Acapulco prison yields 2 peacocks, 100 fighting cocks, 19 prostitutes, and 2 sacks of marijuana.

"Guerrero state spokesman Arturo Martinez... didn’t say how the women, birds and the other banned objects got into the prison. He referred to the peacocks as 'pets.'"

Eric Holder: Fast & Furious was "flawed in its concept, and flawed in its execution."

"It must never happen again."

"The Occupy Wall Street protesters are confronting a classic Manhattan problem: lots of people, not a lot of space."

"So they're solving it in classic Manhattan fashion: arguing about it, making deals and building upward."
The move toward larger tents has some protesters worried. They prefer the privacy of individual dwellings.

"I don't mind them in and of themselves, but if they begin moving up by claiming eminent domain, it would be hypocritical and ironic," said Brian Thomas, a 32-year-old from Maine. "[Larger tents] are sturdy and more handy, but I think it's going to take away people's personal space and that will exacerbate the already rising level of tension."
The individual and the group.

ADDED: This feels like verse 2 of "Like a Rolling Stone":
You’ve gone to the finest school all right, Miss Lonely
But you know you only used to get juiced in it
And nobody has ever taught you how to live on the street
And now you find out you’re gonna have to get used to it
You said you’d never compromise
With the mystery tramp, but now you realize
He’s not selling any alibis
As you stare into the vacuum of his eyes
And ask him do you want to make a deal?
The finest-school kids encounter the mystery tramp and the deal is a real estate deal.

Quizzing the Occupy Wall Street protesters about who's really in bed with the bankers.

Evan Coyne Maloney, via Instapundit.

"Mitt Romney will be the nominee because the other candidates, right now, are a pretty pathetic lot."

Says Erick Erickson, crabbily conceding what everyone basically knows but might like to pretend not to know. The column goes on and on. Conservatism will die, etc. etc.

"I cannot stand him. He's a liar"/"You're fed up with him? I have to deal with him every day."

Sarkozy and Obama, picked up on a live microphone, bitching about Netanyahu.

"A song so titanic that it basically changed the entire trajectory of pop music history."

"The opening is pure bliss and glee and stands as a complete change from the creeping blahness of the early 60s. Instead, we get a charge of guitars and a thump of drums and simple profession..."

List-a-Beefy finally reaches the end of the line, #1 on the list of 100 greatest #1 songs in the history of the Billboard top 100 list.

"Could you put me in touch with that lovely young lady who asked the question, so I can give her a more thorough answer over dinner?"

Said Herman Cain, allegedly, after a speech in Egypt.

This new allegation isn't a claim of sexual harassment, but the active pursuit of relationships with women. Does it fit a pattern in the allegations? I would distinguish the allegations — reported without names and details — that involved his employees. These have to do with making the workplace different for women, a species of sex discrimination in the legal doctrine.

The incident described by Sharon Bialek, like this new one, occurred outside of the workplace, and might be construed as dating. The Bialek allegation involves aggressive groping, which is missing in this new allegation. And it involves a statement that suggests that her effort to enlist his help in finding a job depends on her sexual compliance. So the Bialek allegation has more negative elements than this new one.

But the allegations fit together enough to make us suspect that there is some kind of a pattern. There is a reinforcing effect as these allegations pile up. Our suspicions grow, even if we can imagine a scheme to concoct a bunch of phony stories to ruin the man — a vast left-wing conspiracy, if you will.

The "All-22" footage that the NFL won't let you see.

The WSJ explains about those camera shots "from on high to show the entire field and what all 22 players did on every play" which are most useful for understanding the plays and never shown on TV.
While this shot makes the players look like stick figures, it allows students of the game to see things that are invisible to TV watchers: like what routes the receivers ran, how the defense aligned itself and who made blocks past the line of scrimmage....

Without the expanded frame, fans often have no idea why many plays turn out the way they do, or if the TV analysts are giving them correct information. On a recent Sunday, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith threw a deep pass to tight end Delanie Walker for a 26-yard touchdown. Daryl Johnston, the Fox color man working the game, said Smith's throw was "placed perfectly" and that Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Corey Lynch was "a little bit late getting there."

Greg Cosell, producer of the ESPN program "NFL Matchup," who is one of the few people with access to All-22 footage, said the 49ers had purposely overloaded the right side of the field so each receiver would only be covered by one defender. Lynch, the safety, wasn't late getting there, Cosell says. He was doing his job and covering somebody else. Johnston could not be reached for comment.

Reporting sex abuse to the police.

Instapundit asks:
SO IF IT’S A SCANDAL WHEN PENN STATE OR THE CATHOLIC CHURCH cover up sex abuse, then why isn’t it just as big a scandal when the Occupy groups urge people not to report sexual assaults on-site so that they can “deal with them internally?”
The Penn State and Catholic Church scandals involved child victims. Adults have an obligation to protect children and to stop predators from moving on to other children. When the victim is an adult, she (or he) is capable of consenting to sexual touchings, and depending on the circumstances, there can be room for interpretation and confusion. That may, under some circumstances, justify talking to someone who feels victimized about whether to perceive what happened as a crime and to try to find a resolution that does not bring the police into the situation. So there is a difference between Occupy [Your City] and the Penn State and Catholic Church scandals.

What may be the same, however, in all those cases, is the motivation to protect the organization, to preserve the organization's reputation and power and to put its interests above those of the individual.

And isn't it ironic that the Occupy [Your City] protesters are supposedly outraged over the depredations of corporations — that is, people acting in organization form, pursuing the interests of the entity? They undermine the foundation of their protest if they subordinate the individual to the group.

"U of Illinois Law School Admits To Six Years of False LSAT/GPA Data."

This admission pins all the blame on a single individual who is now gone. "Hmm. That’s certainly convenient."

"Joe Frazier... the better fighter. And the better man."

Dave Anderson says Joe Frazier, who died last night, was better than Muhammad Ali.

Best value law schools — in terms of going into debt, passing the bar, and getting a job.

Wisconsin is #12.

November 7, 2011

Free speech rights prevent government from expressing its anti-smoking message on cigarette packages.

NYT reports:
In a preliminary injunction, Judge Richard J. Leon of United States District Court in Washington ruled that cigarette makers were likely to win a free speech challenge against the proposed labels, which include staged photos of a corpse and of a man breathing smoke out of a tracheotomy hole in his neck.

The judge ruled that the labels were not factual and required the companies to use cigarette packages as billboards for what he described as the government’s “obvious anti-smoking agenda!”...

“It is abundantly clear from viewing these images that the emotional response they were crafted to induce is calculated to provoke the viewer to quit, or never to start, smoking: an objective wholly apart from disseminating purely factual and uncontroversial information,” Judge Leon wrote.
How delightful for the government to be limited in its endless efforts to manipulate our emotions! Stick to the facts?! Why that's so... refreshing!

"In Los Angeles we see many examples of high-profile people losing their lives because of their addiction to prescribed medication."

"To the extent that someone dies as a result of their playing the role of Dr. Feelgood, they will be held accountable," said the prosecutor.

Michael Jackson died, and Dr. Conrad Murray was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter. Let that be a lesson to all the Doctors Feelgood.

Cain accuser, Sharon Bialek: "Just admit what you did. Admit you were inappropriate to people, and then move forward."

So now we have a real accuser:
In her statement to the press, Bialek said that she had been fired at the association after about a year working for the group’s educational foundation in its Chicago office. She said she sought Mr. Cain’s help to find other employment during a trip to Washington about a month after he left the group.

During that trip, she said Mr. Cain had secretly upgraded her hotel room before drinks and dinner that the two had to discuss possible future employment. She said that after dinner, he put his hand on her leg and ran it under her skirt and pulled her head toward his crotch.

“I was surprised and shocked and I said, what are you doing? You know I have a boyfriend,” Ms. Bialek recalled saying. “This is not what I came here for.”

“You want a job, right?” she said Mr. Cain responded. “I asked him to stop and he did.”
And now we have specific details alleged.

ADDED: 459 comments! Good lord! Well, I haven't read them. I don't know what issues you've raised, but I want to assert, firmly, that I have never been inconsistent on the subject of these allegations about Herman Cain. My posts have always been about journalistic ethics and questions of proof and fairness.

In addition, I have been consistent about sexual harassment since long before I began this blog, going back to the Clarence Thomas hearings and through the entire Bill Clinton fiasco. I have not been politically partisan, and I have not sacrificed principles of fairness and due process. If you think I have, I challenge you to challenge me.

"You know Hunter [S. Thompson] typed 'The Great Gatsby'?"

"He'd look at each page Fitzgerald wrote, and he copied it. The entire book. And more than once. Because he wanted to know what it felt like to write a masterpiece. He was so hungry, yeah. Innocent, and yearning."

Says Johnny Depp, who's played the part of Hunter S. Thompson in 2 different movies now.

I'm thinking maybe that would be a good practice for all of us who presume to write. Pick one book, the book that exemplifies the best writing for you, and type it out, to see how it feels, to learn something elemental in that mysterious eyes-to-fingertips interplay.

What's your book?

When George Harrison focused on dying — dying the right way — his wife Olivia intervened and beat his attacker with a fireplace poker.

A summary of what's in the Scorsese documentary "Living in the Material World" (which we watched over the weekend):
“Before I entered the fray,” Olivia said, “[the home intruder Michael Abram] would have finished off George right then and there.” Aghast at what was happening, Olivia grabbed a fireplace poker and began striking the tall, straw-haired intruder with it....

"We spent a lot of time asking ourselves, 'What is the purpose of a sofa?'"

Malcolm Gladwell quotes Walter Isaacson quoting Laurene Powell quoting her husband Steve Jobs.

Powell lived with her fabulously wealthy husband in a house often mostly devoid of furniture, because he didn't want his space infiltrated with anything he didn't feel perfectly sure of.

It would be hard to get fabulously wealthy if all consumers were so resistant to purchasing, but it might be a good attitude for individual consumers to adopt. Especially if you live alone. It's great to appreciate the open, uncluttered space you have and to save your money. But if you live with someone else, she'd better share or at least love that attitude, because if those empty spaces are perceived as deprivations, it's going to hurt — especially if she breaks away and taps into that pile of money you kept instead of blowing on upholstered merchandise.

And then there's the pristine space that is the inside of your body. You can be very fussy about what you let in there, and you can wait and wait until your sure it's exactly right, and then what? From the Isaacson biography:
To the horror of his friends and wife, Jobs decided not to have surgery to remove the tumor, which was the only accepted medical approach. “I really didn’t want them to open up my body...” he told me years later with a hint of regret....

“The big thing was that he really was not ready to open his body,” Powell recalled. “It’s hard to push someone to do that.”
I love the default position of doing nothing. First, do no harm. That's a fine aphorism. A saying I made up that I've relied on for decades and care about immensely is: Better than nothing is a high standard. But it's not such a high standard that it's only beaten by perfection. Perfect is the enemy of good. Now, there's a great saying. Get the cancer surgery that saves your life. And if your wife wants a sofa and she can't explain exactly why... you'd better think about it. Empty space can get really empty.

48% "of 7th to 12th graders experienced sexual harassment in the last school year..."

According to a survey by the American Association of University Women, a nonprofit research organization, which used a broad (and confusing) definition of sexual harassment — "unwelcome sexual behavior that takes place in person or electronically."
Forty-four percent of students said they were harassed “in person” — being subjected to unwelcome comments or jokes, inappropriate touching or sexual intimidation — and 30 percent reported online harassment, like receiving unwelcome comments, jokes or pictures through texts, e-mail, Facebook and other tools, or having sexual rumors, information or pictures spread about them.
I'm guessing that the difference between 44% and 100% is the measure of unwelcomeness. The question included mere comments and jokes. Wouldn't nearly all middle school kids hear such things? The definition does not seem to be limited to comments and jokes that target the individual who answers yes or that persist after the individual has voiced her lack of receptiveness.
“I was called a whore because I have many friends that are boys,” one ninth-grade girl was quoted as saying. An eighth-grade boy, meanwhile, reported, “They spread rumors I was gay because I played on the basketball team.”
These are the comments selected for quoting, so presumably much of the reported harassment is less compelling than that. And yet this sounds like run-of-the-mill teasing. It's not very nice, but isn't it normal childish? I think it's a little funny that both those quotes include points of pride. The girl has a lot of boyfriends. The boy is on the basketball team. It sounds like their "harassers" are jealous and they know it.
The report documents many forms of harassment. The most common was unwelcome sexual comments, gestures or jokes, which was experienced by 46 percent of girls and 22 percent of boys. Separately, 13 percent of girls reported being touched in an unwelcome way, compared with 3 percent of boys; 3.5 percent of girls said they were forced to do something sexual, as did 0.2 percent of boys. About 18 percent of both boys and girls reported being called gay or lesbian in a negative way.
It's important to break down the subcategories of harassment. The touching and, obviously, the forcing are important, but even that information needs to be more fine-grained. You might object to someone touching you on the shoulder. You might feel forced by social norms to hug people you don't particularly want to hug. What counts as "something sexual"? I'm not suggesting bad things don't happen, just looking critically at survey questions that inflate the numbers by grouping things together that don't belong together if we're deciding how outraged we're going to be and what steps we ought to take to intervene.

As for being called gay, that is a special problem. It's not just that it has a sexual aspect, but that it involves perpetuating hostility toward a particular group and it also attacks a central part of a young person's identity (whether the individual is actually gay or not). But, again, let's be careful. Out of 100 instances of a kid getting called "gay," how many are the casual, meaningless proliferation of a bad word and how many truly channel hatefulness?

What is the point of this survey? To get adults exciting about solving a big problem? If so, I want a much more accurate count of genuinely problematic instances.

"Frog fail."

Ha ha ha.

NYT says Joe Paterno "not implicated of wrongdoing in a grand jury report."

That's buried in the last paragraph of today's article — by Mark Viera — on the Penn State scandal, followed by this paean to Paterno:
Paterno helped propel Penn State to the top tiers of college football, and the university had one of the most pristine images in the sport, largely thanks to Paterno and his success in 46 seasons as head coach.
But the indictment did allege facts that implicated Paterno! (Maybe there's something in that strange locution "not implicated of" that I don't understand.)

It's not just the NYT. I'm seeing a lot of news reports that are inanely quick to assert that Paterno did everything right. Here's an exception in the NY Daily News:
Advocates of sexual abuse victims are taking a hard stand against the Penn State athletic department, including venerable football coach Joe Paterno, saying he should face criminal charges for failing to tell police that one of his assistants allegedly sexually assaulted a boy in a Nittany Lions locker room.

“At the very least, he should be fired,” said Robert Hoatson, a Catholic priest who founded an organization called Road to Recovery that counsels abuse survivors.

“Any adult who learns about a child being abused should immediately go to the police,” Hoatson said....

In 2002, Kelly said, a graduate assistant saw Sandusky sexually assault a naked boy in the locker room of the Lasch Football Building on the Penn State campus. The grad student and his father reported the incident to Paterno, who immediately told Curley about the allegation, prosecutors said. Curley and Schultz met with the grad assistant about a week and a half later.

Hoatson said Paterno had a responsibility to tell authorities about the report, especially when it became clear that university officials would not take action.

Why is the New York Times carrying water for Joe Paterno?

November 6, 2011

At the Sunset Café...

... you can talk all night.

"Why publish the story then when you couldn't answer the essential question: What precisely is Herman Cain alleged to have done to these women?"

Howard Kurtz asks Politico's Jonathan Martin. Martin flails desperately, and Kurtz keeps going after him.
MR. KURTZ: I think at a lot of news organizations an editor would have said... you don't have the details of the sexually suggestive behavior that made them angry. Go back and get more. You could have waited, there was nothing forcing you to publish this last Sunday.
Martin blabbers. Kurtz makes him suffer. Watch the video at the link.

Meanwhile, on "Meet the Press," David Gregory had a chance to interrogate Maggie Haberman, whom he identifed as "Politico's reporter covering the Cain story." Gregory asked her absolutely nothing about Politico's behavior. He put up a quote from Cain, saying he'd like to leave the story behind and "get back on message," and asks her "So how does he really do that when there are more questions, which are primarily what?"
MS. MAGGIE HABERMAN: Well, I think among the questions are does he remember the second woman who we reported on? He says he has no memory of her whatsoever. Other media outlets have confirmed that there was another woman who had made some kind of complaint about sexually inappropriate behavior.
MR. GREGORY: Mm-hmm.

MS. HABERMAN: And Mr. Cain's campaign last night not only said they don't want to talk about this anymore, but they, you know, said they were going to email people the code of ethics from the Society of Professional Journalists, and did to one of my colleagues. I think this is where you're going to see the pivot. They are going to say the media is out to get him. I think that it has served them well this week.

MR. GREGORY: Mm-hmm.

MS. HABERMAN: I think that's how he's gotten around some conflicting answers about what's happened. I don't know that he's going to be able to not answer or at least not get asked them anymore, going forward.
At that point, Gregory moves on to another guest. That is, he lobbed Haberman a question that she was able to use to place the burden on Cain to come forward with the details, and Gregory asked nothing. Unless you consider "Mm-hmm" to be something. Haberman mentioned the code of ethics from the Society of Professional Journalists, but that did not rouse Mr. Gregory from his slumbers. Tim Russert would have grilled her. She needed grilling. Why have her on the show and not interrogate her?

Chris Matthews on Barack Obama: "He doesn't like the company of fellow politicians."

This was on "Meet the Press" this morning. David Gregory was asking Matthews about his statement that "Obama is a `transactional' politician; he cuts deals with people, but he doesn't forge bonds. When is he going to bolster this political forces? I keep waiting." Matthews comments:
I know. And he doesn't like the company of fellow politicians. You have to like their company. This forging of bonds is essential in politics. It's what I always thought politics was....

Jack Kennedy started to accumulate troops in high school, when he was in the Navy. He saved the lives of 10 crewmen. They, they looked up to him. He went out and risked his life in the, in the middle of the South Pacific to save their lives. He looked out for his troops. That... word like that gets around. "Hey, this guy looks out for his troops."

The Kennedy party, which my old boss, Tip O'Neill, recognized was a unique party of people that looked out for one guy: Jack Kennedy. And he was their hero. They wore the tie clasp from the PT 109 days. They fought for him, they died for him, they killed his enemies for him. Bobby Kennedy was the number one enforcer. Who is Barack Obama's Bobby Kennedy?...

[JFK]  had to create a political party which was loyal to one person, him. And he built it from the ground up. Obama cuts deals. He raises money, he makes people ambassador, he does all the normal things. But there's no, there's no sealing there.
The reference to making people ambassador is a reference to Jon Huntsman (who was on the show earlier). Matthews imagines Obama's thoughts on the subject: "I made you ambassador to the most important country in the world, and you come back and run against me in the same term?"

In the same vein, Matthews compared Obama to the Clintons:
There are more Clinton people out there today than there are Obama people. Today they're ready to move. If Hillary calls up and says, "I'm going," I mean they're there. She won't do it, but of course. But, I mean, it's--but they're ready....

How sincere was Jon Huntsman when he gave the speech nominating Sarah Palin at the 2008 GOP convention?

He was confronted today on "Meet the Press, for saying "We are looking for a beacon of light to show us the way.... We are looking for Sarah!"
MR. HUNTSMAN: Well, listen, I was asked to introduce her and nominate her because I think I was about the only person who actually knew her after John McCain had, had picked her as a running mate. I was chair of the Western Governors Association, I had worked to a limited extent with Sarah Palin. So when you're looking for somebody who can actually go up and nominate her, I was asked to do it, and I did as told.
I did as told!
[DAVID] GREGORY: So you mean you pumped up the case there? You didn't really believe... that the country was waiting for Sarah Palin?

MR. HUNTSMAN: I, I wanted to help my good friend John McCain. I wanted to help his ticket. I wanted to move the Republicans toward victory, and I stepped up and I did what I thought was right.

MR. GREGORY: You think she was capable of being vice president of the United States?

MR. HUNTSMAN: Oh, I think she would--I think absolutely she was capable of being vice president. She was elected as governor. She served a couple of years well, and I think she would have learned a lot on the job.
That was a good recovery. His first instinct was to disown her, but he remembered which party he is asking to nominate him.

Zuccotti Park "is now a sliver of madness, rife with sex attacks, robberies and vigilante justice."

Says NY Post reporter Candice M. Giove, who spent the night there:
It’s a leaderless bazaar that’s been divided into state-like camps....

There is “Camp Anonymous,” the group best known for anti-Scientology protests.

It’s neighbored by a tent full of vampires, the “Class War” tent and the “Occupy Paw Street” tent, whose residents hand out treats to occupying pets.

There’s also “Camp France” and the “Nic at Night” tent, which supplies the protest with smokes....
It sounds cutesy... I mean, aside from the filth and the crime.

"Under the threat of federal action, everything about kids' food..."

"... from cereal sugar levels to mascots to TV ads, is under scrutiny."

"Who won the Cain-Gingrich debate?"

"It’s pretty clear that Gingrich had the better of this debate," says Ed Morrissey.
He had better command of both the issues and the facts, offered plenty of corroborative studies and resources, and managed to make all of it accessible to the average voter.  Cain did well at times, but twice had to ask Newt to handle questions first, which isn’t exactly a confidence builder.  Cain seemed confused about the difference between defined-benefit and premium-support approaches on Medicare, getting confused between pension plans and health care later on the same point.  While Cain discussed philosophical approaches to these issues confidently, Gingrich had actual data at the ready, and the difference was telling.

"Paterno wasn’t charged, but if Sandusky is guilty, Paterno would be guilty..."

"... just as Penn State’s athletic director and a university vice president, who were charged with perjury and failure to report suspected child abuse on Saturday, would be guilty."

Mike Wise on the Penn State scandal.

You can’t read the 23-page grand jury report and come to any other conclusion; Penn State football and its pristine reputation apparently superseded the alleged sexual assault of a young boy — perhaps as many as eight young boys — over 15 years by Sandusky....

In Warped Sports World, the don’t-ask, don’t-tell, sweep-it-clean behavior is rationalized as loyalty, having your coach’s or teammate’s back, moving on from the problem. It’s seen as a noble quality, putting the team’s needs — the university’s needs — before your own.