November 26, 2011

"Werner Herzog meditates on the Google logo."

Roger Ebert is fooled by what is a very funny parody of Werner Herzog (which you should get if you've seen the movie "Grizzly Man"):

Looking (unsuccessfully) for the relevant clip from "Grizzly Man" — "I believe the common character of the universe is not harmony, but hostility, chaos and murder" — I found this video made by a guy who finds that when he reads Anton Chekov short stories, he hears the words in his head in Werner Herzog's voice:

(The words are from the Chekov story "Gusev.")

"Pakistan Tells U.S. to 'Vacate' Air Base as Border Strike Inflames Tensions."

"... Islamabad had already ordered the country's border crossings into Afghanistan closed, blocking off NATO supply lines, after the strike."

MEANWHILE: "Obama and family take in basketball game, chat with Bill Murray." He did comment on current events, noting that the tentative deal to end the NBA lockout seems to be "a good deal."

"Black Friday sales rose 6.6% from a year ago..."

"Online sales grew 24.3%..."

Graphic conception-to-birth depiction.

Should this video affect what we think about abortion?
Pro-life advocates are giving the video rave reviews. While the nation continues to be divided on the abortion issue, some believe that the growth and expansion of technology is beginning to impact how individuals view the issue. The ability to see graphic details about the development of a fetus, they believe, makes it more difficult to accept abortion without sincere questions about life’s beginnings.

Some Amazon shopping links.

May I recommend...
Visit Amazon's Home Kitchen and Lawn Gift Guide

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By using any of these links and continuing on from there to buy whatever you want on Amazon, you'll be sending about 7% of the price to me, which I interpret as an expression from you that you appreciate the writing I'm doing here for you. You don't pay anything more for your purchases. Thanks in advance.

Climategate collusion.

"More than 5,000 documents have been leaked online purporting to be the correspondence of climate scientists at the University of East Anglia who were previously accused of ‘massaging’ evidence of man-made climate change."

Romney has got to be lying...

... when he says he doesn't use any "product" to hold his hair in place.

ADDED: Actually, it's only his hairstylist who says there's no product. Romney's not on record with this denial.

Occupy Wall Street is "overwhelmingly white."

Stacey Patton, in the Washington Post, deploys the same phrase that was used against the Tea Party. When journalists used "overwhelmingly white" against the Tea Party, they were showing a predictable aversion to conservative things. To say the same thing about OWS is, however, to deviate from the journalistic norm. You'd expect journalists to flatter and coddle the OWS folk.

But this column isn't about diminishing OWS for excluding/repelling black people. Patton is inquiring into why black people don't join up with a movement you're supposed to think they ought to want to join:
African Americans share white Americans’ anger about corporate greed and corruption, and blacks have a rich history of protesting injustice in United States. So why aren’t they Occupying?
The "rich history of protesting injustice" was about racial injustice, not left-wing class warfare. Some people like to mush those 2 things together, but where a movement begins with left-wing economic ideology, why should you expect black people to join up en masse?
From America’s birthing pains to the civil rights protests of the 1960s, blacks have never been afraid to fight for economic or social justice....
Afraid?  People declining to "occupy Wall Street" aren't afraid. It's demagoguery to insinuate that black people have opted out because they are afraid.
In 1969, James Forman, former executive secretary of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), a civil rights organization, called on blacks to not perpetuate capitalism or contribute to the exploitation of blacks in the United States and elsewhere. He urged black workers to take over America by sabotaging U.S. factories and ports “while the brothers fight guerrilla warfare in the street.” And Huey Newton and the Black Panther Party renounced the American Dream as defective and called for the destruction of the capitalist system.
This is exactly the kind of linking of racial injustice to left-wing ideology that most people reject.

GQ list of "25 least Influential People Alive" includes Barack Obama.

Ha ha. It all depends on what the meaning of "influential" is.

This sends me not to GQ, but to the Online Etymology Dictionary:
influence (n.)
late 14c., an astrological term, "streaming ethereal power from the stars acting upon character or destiny of men," from O.Fr. influence "emanation from the stars that acts upon one's character and destiny" (13c.), also "a flow of water," from M.L. influentia "a flowing in" (also used in the astrological sense), from L. influentem (nom. influens), prp. of influere "to flow into," from in- "into, in, on, upon" (see in- (2)) + fluere "to flow" (see fluent). Meaning "exercise of personal power by human beings" is from mid-15c.; meaning "exertion of unseen influence by persons" is from 1580s (a sense already in M.L., e.g. Aquinas). Under the influence "drunk" first attested 1866.
Streaming ethereal power, eh? That sounds like something he's tried to do, oh, maybe years ago. Thank God — thank the stars — he couldn't.
1580s, "flowing freely" (of water, also of speech), from L. fluentem (nom. fluens) "lax, relaxed," figuratively "flowing, fluent," prp. of fluere "to flow, stream, run, melt," from PIE *bhleugw-, extended form of *bhleu- "to swell, well up, overflow" (cf. L. flumen "river;" Gk. phluein "to boil over, bubble up," phlein "to abound"), an extension of base *bhel- (2); see bole. Used interchangeably with fluid in Elizabethan times. Related: Fluently.
Flowing, streaming, melting, welling up, swelling, boiling over, bubbling up... but when we say "fluent" these days, we're usually speaking about speaking: fluent speech. But this idea of fluency began with a word about bubbling up, not streaming down from the stars, and that ground-up flowing concept takes us to the fascinating word "bole":
early 14c., from O.N. bolr "tree trunk," from P.Gmc. *bulas (cf. M.Du. bolle "trunk of a tree"), from PIE *bhel- (2) "to blow, swell" (cf. Gk. phyllon "leaf," phallos "swollen penis;" L. flos "flower," florere "to blossom, flourish," folium "leaf;" O.Prus. balsinis "cushion;" O.N. belgr "bag, bellows;" O.E. bolla "pot, cup, bowl;" O.Ir. bolgaim "I swell," blath "blossom, flower," bolach "pimple," bolg "bag;" Bret. bolc'h "flax pod;" Serb. buljiti "to stare, be bug-eyed;" Serbo-Cr. blazina "pillow").
Swollen penis! Blossom! Pillow! Pimple! We've come to an odd spot on this etymological path. We begin with influence, which came from the stars, and we found our way to flowing water and then to a swelling tree trunk or phallus.  Keep in mind that we are talking about politics.

But this is a blog post, so I've got to stop now. Your turn to speak. Flow on, burst forth, see if you can influence anybody.

The NYT editorializes against traditional classroom teaching in law schools.

Instead of a curriculum taught largely through professors’ grilling of students about appellate cases, some schools are offering more apprentice-style learning in legal clinics and more courses that train students for their multiple future roles as advocates and counselors, negotiators and deal-shapers, and problem-solvers.
Of course, law school clinics have been around for decades, but they don't overwhelm the coursework. If they did, law school would become much more expensive for students. And yet it's apprentice-style learning! If learning law doesn't involve deep study of difficult materials, why should you have to go to law school at all? If apprentice work is best, why not have apprenticeships?
The case method has been the foundation of legal education for 140 years. Its premise was that students would learn legal reasoning by studying appellate rulings. That approach treated law as a form of science and as a source of truth.

That vision was dated by the 1920s. It was a relic by the 1960s. Law is now regarded as a means rather than an end, a tool for solving problems. In reforming themselves, law schools have the chance to help reinvigorate the legal profession and rebuild public confidence in what lawyers can provide.
So... forget science and truth. Law is a means to an end. Got that? Can you understand why the NYT thinks that you, the public, would have more confidence in lawyers if you would only see them as deal-shapers and problem solvers who only use law because it's a means to an end? Would you look upon the law with newfound admiration if you thought that only unsophisticated people imagine that law has something to do with reasoning from principle and the accurate interpretation of texts?

By the way, if classroom teaching is suspect these days, and apprentice-style learning is better, why are we trapping all our youngsters in buildings with desks and books and blackboards and teachers? Why not devote half the school day to letting the students work cleaning the buildings and cooking and serving the meals? Newt Gingrich said it last week:
Most of these schools ought to get rid of the unionized janitors, have one master janitor and pay local students to take care of the school. The kids would actually do work, they would have cash, they would have pride in the schools, they'd begin the process of rising.
It's a clinic. Students learn the ways of real-life practical work. Of course, Newt's idea is different from the law school clinic, because law students pay tuition for the benefit of learning through practice, while Newt's teenage janitors would get paid.

November 25, 2011

"No matter what I do... the kissing, the hugging... I'm more interested in what's going on on Mars...

Arnold Schwarzenegger seems to think the point of a DVD commentary track is to tell us what we can already obviously see happening in the movie... as displayed — hilariously — in this collection of clips from "Total Recall":

Is he an idiot? Does he think we're idiots? Or is this Arnold's amazingly sly way of saying commentary tracks are worthless?

(Via Metafilter.)

Where am I? What am I doing here?


I just wanted to be the first person on the internet to write that word.

"[Herman] Cain avoided some of the most heated moments of the 1960s, and he said his recollections of that era are hazy."

"He said he doesn't recall being aware of Dr. King, a 1948 graduate of Morehouse, ever visiting the campus, including a convocation during Mr. Cain's senior year at which Dr. King was the featured speaker and the glee club performed. Mr. Cain sang baritone for the glee club all four years at Morehouse."

Excerpt from "Herman Cain's Political Education," in the Wall Street Journal.
Some Morehouse graduates have criticized Mr. Cain for being disengaged from the civil-rights movement. Horace Bohannon Jr., who sometimes shared lecture notes with Mr. Cain as an underclassman and later became a follower of Stokely Carmichael and his "black power" movement, said he perceived in Mr. Cain a disdain for students who became more deeply involved in the turmoil of those days. "We were hellbent on changing this society and the structure of the South," he said. "There was sort of a resentment toward us by Herman."

But others from that era say that many students at the school focused on preparing for careers, and that some faculty members discouraged open participation in marches and similar activity.

"Most of the Morehouse fellows did not participate," said Wesley D. Clement, a classmate of Mr. Cain who is now an eye surgeon in Charlotte, N.C. "Your main target and goal was to prepare yourself for business and life. Not that we were ignorant of what was going on or didn't favor what was going on. But we were not involved in the things that some people would have called more radical at that time."

"Frank Miller and the rise of cryptofascist Hollywood."

Rick Moody attacks "Batman" writer/artist Frank Miller who attacked Occupy Wall Street. Miller said:
Everybody’s been too damn polite about this nonsense:

The “Occupy” movement, whether displaying itself on Wall Street or in the streets of Oakland (which has, with unspeakable cowardice, embraced it) is anything but an exercise of our blessed First Amendment. “Occupy” is nothing but a pack of louts, thieves, and rapists, an unruly mob, fed by Woodstock-era nostalgia and putrid false righteousness. These clowns can do nothing but harm America.

“Occupy” is nothing short of a clumsy, poorly-expressed attempt at anarchy, to the extent that the “movement” – HAH! Some “movement”, except if the word “bowel” is attached - is anything more than an ugly fashion statement by a bunch of iPhone, iPad wielding spoiled brats who should stop getting in the way of working people and find jobs for themselves.
That's about half of it. It goes on in that vein, then ends with a single-word paragraph: "Schmucks."

Rick Moody — who's a writer best known for "The Ice Storm" — uses Miller's diatribe to launch his own diatribe about how Hollywood action movies are fascist propaganda. (Moody doesn't entertain the notion that OWS might be fascist. He blithely links Miller and fascism to the conservative side of the political spectrum.) Moody sorts through the evidence: "True Lies, the abominable 1994 James Cameron film (featuring Republican governor-to-be Arnold Schwarzenegger)...  the expensive and aesthetically pretentious Gladiator (2000), which I still contend is an allegory about George W Bush's candidacy for president..."
The types of men (almost always men) who have historically favoured the action film genre, it's safe to say, are often, if not always, politically conservative: Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Chuck Norris, Mel Gibson, even Clint Eastwood (former Republican mayor of Carmel, California), all proud defenders of a conservative agenda, and/or justifiers of vigilantism....
There are so many action films. I'm sure plenty of them involve liberals. That wouldn't undermine Moody's point that action films are fascist and Hollywood is fascist. It would help it. But he can't go all Jonah Goldberg and talk about liberal fascism, because then how will you get your abominable, aesthetically pretentious novels about boring people in the suburbs made into glossy Oscar-bait movies? Moody says:
American movies, in the main, often agree with Frank Miller, that endless war against a ruthless enemy is good, and military service is good, that killing makes you a man, that capitalism must prevail, that if you would just get a job (preferably a corporate job, for all honest work is corporate) you would quit complaining. American movies say these things, but they are more polite about it, lest they should offend. The kind of comic-book-oriented cinema that has afflicted Hollywood for 10 years now, since Spider-Man, has degraded the cinematic art, and has varnished over what was once a humanist form, so Hollywood can do little but repeat the platitudes of the 1%. And yet Hollywood tries still not to offend.
I agree with him that "comic-book-oriented cinema... has degraded the cinematic art," but imagine a 10-year-long craze for "Ice Storm"-type stuff. I mean, if you want to talk about degradation! America would need to be insane in the first place to go crazy for that deadly genre, but imagine. Action is preferable to a suicidal funk.

Moody ends his mood piece with a call for a boycott of Frank Miller's films. Actually, he says: "And we might repay the favor [of Frank Miller's 'reminding us that our allegedly democratic political system, which increases inequality and decreases class mobility, which is mostly interested in keeping the disenfranchised where they are, requires a mindless, propagandistic (or "cryptofascist") storytelling medium to distract its citizenry'] by avoiding purchase of tickets to Miller's films."

Which is so much less pithy than "Schmucks."

Pepper-sprayed protesters had "encircled" the police and told them "if they wanted to clear the path they would have to go through us."

That's the description coming from one of the sprayed protesters. According to Elli Pearson, the protesters had linked arms in a way that sounds as though the police were stuck in the center and the protesters refused to allow them out of the encirclement.

What sort of place should you want to live in as you get old? A place with "non-Western ideas about healing"?

From a discussion with an architect (Wid Chapman) and a gerontologist (Jeffrey P. Rosenfeld):
Along with grab bars (which are frequently mentioned in your book, though none is visible in the pictures), what makes a house suitable for aging?...

Mr. Rosenfeld: When you mentioned grab bars, it reminded me that most of the homes in the book speak to a Western medical aesthetic, but a few support non-Western ideas about healing. There’s one in particular, Bioscleave, in East Hampton, N.Y., that builds on the idea of reversible destiny: that the home can challenge and stimulate inhabitants to keep them youthful. Everything about that home is colorful. It’s angular. It’s full of intentional surprises and quirks.

I’m glad you mentioned Bioscleave. I wanted to ask about the sloping, textured floors the architects designed to make walking more of an “adventure.” Isn’t that the kind of adventure that can lead to a broken hip?

Mr. Rosenfeld: The house is occupied by a person who lives there part time. A mature person. I haven’t dared ask her age, but I can say that neither of her hips is broken.
Colorful, angular... stimulate and challenge... this made me think of crib toys. They're thinking of old people like babies. I found that repulsive. We've thought a lot about moving to a simpler house, which would also be the house where we'd grow old — hopefully, extremely old. (I see that in the discussion, the gerontologist says he's "beginning to think about how [he and his wife are] going to deal with our inevitable aging." But getting old is not inevitable. It's preferable!)

What Meade and I have talked about wanting is a completely uncluttered, cleanly modern place. I don't look to the walls and floors for stimulation. I want a place that doesn't distract and bother me while I'm doing what I want to do, like read or talk to somebody.

Bioscleave sounds utterly insulting, like old people are babies. Then I looked it up. My lord! It's like old people are hamsters!

Ridiculous! Hilarious! And who cleans that place? Especially of all the blood.

I'm looking at that word "Bioscleave." "Bios" is the Greek word for life in the sense of one's life, course or way of living, lifetime. "Cleave" is a word that famously has 2 meanings. It's an auto-antonym. It can refer to clinging — let's say, to life — or to separation — which, in the case of life, would refer to death.

Take a look at that Bioscleave again. If they try to take you there... get out. I don't want your Hamster Habitat of Death. And I'm not charmed by your burbling about "non-Western" ideas. I don't want your Bioscleave just like I don't want your acupuncture. I want an ultra-Western ultra-modern house to go with my ultra-Western modern medicine.

Black Friday.

Are you shopping today? There's always Amazon, rolling out great deals here on on hourly basis.

Some extra links:
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November 24, 2011

At the Thanksgiving Dinner Café...

... you can eat anything you want. (That's what I ate last night.)

"We wish the people of Wisconsin would take care of their own business and leave us, and [Big Mountain Jesus], totally alone."

A 50-year-old statue in Montana, put up by the local Knights of Columbus to honor soldiers who had seen statues like this while serving in Italy in World War II, is attacked as unconstitutional by the Freedom From Religion Foundation of Madison, Wisconsin.

The monument is also a local landmark:
“People say, ‘Meet at Jesus at 11.’ Skiers take pictures with him, wrap him up in clothing and put Mardi Gras beads on him.”
Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation says: “It’s terribly important that the religious right not be allowed to manipulate this situation.” (But her organization picked the fight!)

Here's the  “Save Big Mountain Jesus Statue” Facebook page, which links to this article that pre-dates the current controversy:
“I was out on the mountain, kind of exploring,” [Dan Graves] recalled, taking a break from work last week to recount his first encounter with the statue. “Of course, through the fog and the haze, I saw Christ, with his outstretched hands.”

“It was a little surreal,” Graves added.

Anyone who skis or hikes or bikes along Big Mountain’s slopes has likely had a similarly jarring encounter: coming around a bend near the top of Chair 2 to find the life-like concrete rendering of Jesus Christ, gazing out over Whitefish Lake and the Flathead Valley beyond, from a perch above where the trail splits into Ed’s Run, Hibernation and Hellroaring.
So the placement in the landscape heightens the spirituality of the encounter with the religious symbol, but I think removing the statue is not necessary to comply with the Establishment Clause. I go back to what Justice Breyer wrote in one of the 10 Commandments cases that the Supreme Court decided in 2005. Breyer — it's important to note — was the only member of the Court in the majority in both cases.

Justice Breyer quoted the 1963 school prayer opinion written by Justice Goldberg: "[U]ntutored devotion to the concept of neutrality can lead to invocation or approval of results which partake not simply of that noninterference and noninvolvement with the religious which the Constitution commands, but of a brooding and pervasive devotion to the secular and a passive, or even active, hostility to the religious."

And Breyer concluded that taking down the old stone monument in Texas would "exhibit a hostility toward religion that has no place in our Establishment Clause traditions" and "encourage disputes concerning the removal of longstanding depictions of the Ten Commandments from public buildings across the Nation," which would "create the very kind of religiously based divisiveness that the Establishment Clause seeks to avoid."

Big Mountain Jesus is a 50-year-old part of the landscape, so it's probably a good idea to take Justice Breyer's advice seriously and ski clear of divisiveness and a brooding and pervasive devotion to the secular. 

Green Bay Packers, still undefeated.

That's Aaron Rodgers, just now, doing his "Justice Prosser" imitation.

"If you're guilty of a crime, you get more support from the state when you're released than if you're innocent."

"They have no authority over people whose conviction is overturned... There is nothing crafted to deal with this kind of situation."

Says Keith Findley, commenting on the case of a man who was freed 2 years ago (with help from the Wisconsin Innocence Project, which Findley direct), and who is now back in jail.

Justice Stevens writes of his "extreme distaste for debates about campaign financing."

That's from his new book "Five Chiefs: A Supreme Court Memoir," and it refers to his experience immediately upon his ascent to the Supreme Court in 1976, when the Justices were deciding Buckley v. Valeo. He goes on:
That distaste never abated, and I have felt ever since that the Court would be best served by inserting itself into campaign finance debates with less frequency. 
The Court would be best served, eh? The questions have to do with what the Constitution says about  freedom of speech, so one must wonder why he'd think in terms of what serves the Court best as opposed to what the Constitution means or at least what serves the people best.
That view may have had an impact on the unusually long dissent that I wrote during my last term on the Court against the Court’s overreaching in the Citizens United case...
In addition to my overriding hostile reaction to the subjects discussed in Buckley, I also recall puzzlement about why the Court failed to endorse the position expressed by Justice White in his dissent. He effectively explained why the distinction between limitations on contributions (which the Court upheld) and the limitations on expenditures (which the Court invalidated) did not make much sense, and why the Court should have respected the congressional judgment that effective campaigns could be conducted within the limits established by the statute. Time has vindicated his prediction that without “limits on total expenditures, campaign costs will inevitably and endlessly escalate.” He thought it quite proper for Congress to limit the amount of money that a candidate or his family could spend on a campaign in order “to discourage any notion that the outcome of elections is primarily a function of money.”
That is, he favors limiting speech so that people don't get the wrong idea (the wrong idea being that money affects elections). Under the system we have, as the majority of the Supreme Court has interpreted the Constitution, candidates can spend all the money they want trying to get elected and people are free to get the "notion" that money affects the outcome of elections.

Justice Stevens continues:
The majority’s response to Justice White relied on the rhetorical flourish that “the concept that government may restrict the speech of some elements of our society in order to enhance the relative voice of others is wholly foreign to the First Amendment.” The assumption underlying that colorful argument...
... is that limitations on the quantity of speech in public debates are just as obnoxious as limitations on the content of what a speaker has to say. 
That is to say, it's not really so bad for the government to tell a candidate: We think you've said enough.
But there is nothing even arguably unfair about evenhanded rules that limit the amount of speech that can be voiced in certain times or places or by certain means, such as sound trucks. If we view an election as a species of debate between two adversaries, equalizing the amount of time (or money) that each can spend in an attempt to persuade the decision-makers is fully consistent with the First Amendment. Otherwise, appellate court rules limiting the time that the adversaries spend in oral arguments would be invalid because they limit the speech of one adversary in order to enhance the relative voice of his or her opponent.
He's equating the formal conditions within the confines of the appellate courtroom to the speech that takes place in the entirety of all of the forums in which a candidate might speak: all of the city squares and auditoriums, all of the TV and radio channels, all of the print media, and the entirety of the internet!

There's very little mention of Citizens United in Stevens's book, perhaps because the opinion wasn't written by the Chief Justice, and the subject of the book is Chief Justices. But he does mention it, musing that, based on Roberts opinion in Snyder v. Phelps, "perhaps I should give him a passing grade in First Amendment law."
But for reasons that it took me ninety pages to explain in my dissent in the Citizens United campaign finance case, his decision to join the majority in that case prevents me from doing so.
That's it. He doesn't even attempt to explain Citizens United to the general reader, who's expected to accept that the Court got it wrong but it would take 90 pages to explain why. Citizens United — which we covered in my conlaw class yesterday — is indeed damned pesky to absorb, and there's something disturbing about a case that purports to tell us something fundamental about political speech in our democracy, but that cannot be talked about in straightforward terms. If he's so right and the other side is so wrong, he should be able to say why in a clear, readable few pages. Instead, what we get is either way overcomplicated, so you'll have to go read 90 pages, or it's insultingly oversimplified: John Roberts flunks!

Here's the 90-page dissenting opinion, in case you're up for reading it. As we say on the limitless internet: Read the whole thing. I'll bet very few people have read the whole thing. Justice Stevens delves into the history of Americans' attitudes about corporations. (In Citizens United, the majority emphasized free speech, not the source of the speech, while the dissenters made a distinction between individuals and corporations and would have accepted limits on speech when it comes from corporations.) Stevens wrote about the fear of corporations in early American history. He quotes Lawrence Friedman's "A History of American Law": “The word ‘soulless’ constantly recurs in debates over corporations… . Corporations, it was feared, could concentrate the worst urges of whole groups of men”). Later in his opinion, Stevens augments that anxiety about corporations with his own words: "corporations have no consciences, no beliefs, no feelings, no thoughts, no desires."

Here's the whole "soulless" paragraph from Professor Friedman's book:
The word “soulless” constantly recurs in debates over corporations. Everyone knew that corporations were really run by human beings. Yet, the word was not completely inappropriate. Corporations did not die, and there was no real limit to their size, or their greed. Corporations might aggregate the worst urges of whole groups of men. No considerations of family, friendship, or morality, would temper their powers. People hated and distrusted corporations, the way some people came to fear the soulless computer—machines that can join together the wit, skill, power, and malevolence of infinite numbers of minds.
Thank God my computer is soulless! I'm using it to write this post, and I wouldn't like it to insert any morality, beliefs, feelings, thoughts, and desires, between me and you, as I invite you to aggregate your possibly evil urges here in the comments. With the power of the soulless computer we can join together the wit, skill, power, and malevolence of infinite numbers of minds.

How scary is that?

The pepper-spray cop's "dissonantly casual body language in the context of violence brings to mind the photos from Abu Ghraib..."

"... Lynndie England smiling and giving the camera a thumbs-up in front of tortured prisoners. And, in a fit of macabre recursion, some of the casually pepper-spraying cop meme images reference those very photos from Abu Ghraib. Lynndie and [John] Pike, two 'bad apples' taking the fall for systemic problems with the institutions each represent."

Says Xeni Jardin in a Guardian piece that I found after I noticed (on my own) the similarity between the Pike and England iconic photographs. Jardin was thinking of the thumb's-up photo. I was thinking of the man-on-a-leash photo, which seems more apt because of the impassive expression, though, I must say, looking at England's face now, after seeing the pepper-spray cop, I'm seeing some human expression, a mournful look. Expression is relative. If we get used to completely dead faces, the subtlest tinge of humanity will pop.

(And here's the special Thanksgiving iteration of the pepper-spray meme.)

"The question is not whether but how will the student section at Camp Randall Stadium humiliate their Penn State foes?"

"I'm guessing they make a show of wearing shower caps and bath towels. Just a guess. I know that's gross and insensitive but so are those college kids, as were we at that age."

"Three American college students arrested Monday on suspicion of throwing Molotov cocktails..."

"...  during a protest in Cairo against Egypt's ruling military council were released Thursday..."

In other Molotov cocktail news: "Molotov madman who said on YouTube he would bomb Macy's is out of jail and back at Zuccotti Park."

Obama's religion-free Thanksgiving address.

"As Americans, each of us has our own list of things and people to be thankful for. But there are some blessings we all share....
But no matter how tough things are right now, we still give thanks for that most American of blessings, the chance to determine our own destiny. The problems we face didn’t develop overnight, and we won’t solve them overnight. But we will solve them. All it takes is for each of us to do our part. 
And God's help? I'm noticing the lack of religion in the address. The closest he gets is the use of the word "blessings."
With all the partisanship and gridlock here in Washington, it’s easy to wonder if such unity is really possible. But think about what’s happening at this very moment: Americans from all walks of life are coming together as one people, grateful for the blessings of family, community, and country.

If we keep that spirit alive, if we support each other, and look out for each other, and remember that we’re all in this together, then I know that we too will overcome the challenges of our time.
Again, an absence of God. We'll solve our problems by coming together as a community, not with the help of God, though you are free to conceptualize this coming together in religious terms. I'm not criticizing, just taking note.

Here's what Thomas Jefferson said about Thanksgiving:
I consider the government of the United States as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises... Certainly no power to prescribe any religious exercise, or to assume authority in religious discipline, has been delegated to the general government.... But it is only proposed that I should recommend, not prescribe a day of fasting and prayer. That is, that I should indirectly assume to the United States an authority over religious exercises, which the Constitution has directly precluded them from... civil powers alone have been given to the President of the United States and no authority to direct the religious exercises of his constituents.

"Recently, I've been taking a series of executive actions that don't require congressional approval."

"Well, here's another one. We can't wait to pardon these turkeys."

(I love the complete lack of enthusiasm from the daughters, including declining to laugh at dad's jokes.)

"Typo Leads To Wrong Candidate’s Election In Connecticut."

“I understand that mistakes are made, but this one is especially unfortunate,” said Republican Town Committee Chairman Tom Szewczyk.
He added that if the younger Butler was to be sworn in and resign to let his father take the post, it would serve as a violation of Connecticut State’s election law. “This would also be a huge disservice to our voters.”

Sting, "Girl from the North Country"... Mark Knopfler – "Restless Farewell"...

Jackson Browne, "Love Minus Zero/No Limit
"...  Bryan Ferry, "Bob Dylan’s Dream"... Carly Simon, "Just Like a Woman
"... Bad Religion, "It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue"... My Chemical Romance, "Desolation Row"... Ke$ha, "Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right
... Taj Mahal, "Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream"... Dave Matthews Band, "All Along the Watchtower"... Kris Kristofferson, "Quinn The Eskimo"... Eric Burdon, "Gotta Serve Somebody"... Marianne Faithful, "Baby Let Me Follow You Down"... Pete Seeger, "Forever Young"...

The full list. The one I'd be most interested in hearing? Oddly enough, it's Taj Mahal doing "Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream"... which just by chance is kind of Thanksgiving-appropriate:
I was riding on the Mayflower
When I thought I spied some land...
“I think I’ll call it America”
I said as we hit land
I took a deep breath
I fell down, I could not stand
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Here at Meadhouse, it's pre-dawn and we're eating pancakes. (We just invented peanut butter pancakes.) I'd give you an Amazon link for that Bob Dylan cover songs album so you could buy it, but it's not available yet. Feel free to buy something else at Amazon. For example, here's Taj Mahal album I really like. Listen to the title track.

November 23, 2011

Penn State defense strategy: McQueary's credibility.

The Wall Street Journal reports:
The lawyers point out that they believe Mr. Paterno's testimony matches that of their clients. "All of them testified that Mr. McQueary did not tell any of them that he witnessed anal sodomy on March 1, 2002."...

The shower story "is a graphic image provided by a third-party witness," says Wesley Oliver, a professor of criminal law at Widener School of Law in Harrisburg, Pa. "Other stories [in the grand jury presentment] about touching are more ambiguous."

“What is this mac-and-cheese? Is it a black thing?"

Pat Robertson, getting up to speed on Thanksgiving and macaroni and cheese.

Mullet arrested in haircut attack.

It's not funny.

Running out of targets...

... in the assassinate-an-al-Qaeda-leader game.

The word "law" only appears once on the NYT list of "100 Notable Books of 2011."

Maybe the New York Times is missing some great law books, but this is some kind of read on something that ought to matter to legal academics and other law folk.

What's the one book? It's "Rights Gone Wrong/How Law Corrupts the Struggle for Equality," by Richard Thompson Ford. Here's the NYT review of it by Jeffrey Rosen:
In “Rights Gone Wrong,” Richard Thompson Ford, a law professor at Stanford, argues that both the progressive left and the colorblind right are guilty of the same error: defining discrimination too abstractly and condemning it too categorically, with similarly perverse results....

Ford does not offer an equivocal, cautious, middle-of-the-road critique of civil rights law....

Ford ends his stimulating polemic by arguing for a more “nuanced” approach to civil rights. He calls for the return of thoughtful, pragmatic judges who will take the time to distinguish justified from unjustified acts of discrimination, rejecting selfish or perverse claims of “rights gone wrong” while protecting people from truly invidious indignities.


Get some Amazon deals... using that link, please, and you'll be showing some love for the Althouse blog... without spending any more money than you're spending on that stuff you're buying.

Rasmussen: Generic Republican 46%, Obama 43%.

That's this week. Last week, Obama was up 45/44. But in the previous 18 weeks, the "generic Republican" was up. So, something happened in the last 2 weeks, perhaps. Yes, it might all be margin-of-error static, but assume something happened that caused the dip and resurgence... what was it?

"Key social conservatives secretly meet to stop Romney in Iowa."

CNN reports:
One attendee at the meeting earlier this week told CNN they wanted "to see if they could come to a consensus of who they might endorse."...

"If you want to stop Romney you're probably going to have to have some organization [and] some money," the source said. "Somebody who's at 5% or 6% in the polls, and they endorse, I don't think that does any good."...

Participants were said to have narrowed their focus down to four candidates: Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.
That leaves our Ron Paul and Herman Cain.

Social conservatives will have the best chance of success if they pick:
Michele Bachmann
Rick Perry
Newt Gingrich
Rick Santorum free polls 

The idea of social conservatives backing one of those 4 is:
Good, because it's the best way to stop Romney, who is bad on social conservative issues.
Good, because it helps stop Romney, who just isn't my favorite candidate.
Good, because it helps stop Romney, the best GOP candidate, and I'm for Obama.
Bad, because it might stop Romney, the GOP candidate most able to stop Obama.
Bad, because it might stop Romney, and I'm for Romney for a number of reasons.
Bad, because it will help the social conservatism cause, which I oppose. free polls 

Woody Allen's 2 super-powers.

Over the last couple days, we watched the lengthy PBS documentary about Woody Allen. I know a lot of my readers haven't been watching his movies and think of him only in terms of his sexual misdeeds. Exclude that topic for the comments on this new post. All that has been said. Noted. If you must say that again, go to the link above and put it in that comments thread. I want to say something new, based on the documentary, which is overwhelmingly about Allen's work. If you don't know his movies or don't want to talk about the ideas about writing that I'm going to raise, please don't comment in this new thread.

Woody Allen has directed a movie a year — almost precisely — every year since 1969. He's an astounding movie-making machine. It's really quite bizarre. He's a monument not so much to hard work, but to consistently cranking out work, much of it quite excellent. As a writer, he's a lot like a blogger. He just keeps going. It's what he does, quite aligned with living itself. I love that.

Now, it suddenly occurred to me that his achievement is propelled by 2 super-powers — one which he knew he had from his teenage years and another that he discovered through Diane Keaton. (I'll try to finds the specific lines in the documentary that support my theory and transcribe them for you, but I don't have time for that now).

Super-power #1: Automatically thinking of one-line jokes. It's harder for him to stop his thoughts from taking the form of jokes than to think of them (he says). As a teenager, he got a job making $20,000 a year writing jokes. He had to write 50 jokes a day. It wasn't difficult for him.

Super-power #2: As a man, taking the woman's perspective. We see this power burst forth in his fabulous movie "Annie Hall." Allen gives credit to Diane Keaton, whom he worked with in the earlier films "Sleeper" and "Love and Death," for getting him interested in taking on the feeling of being inside the woman's head and writing from there. In this position, he experienced a flow of ideas, that let him write wonderful scenes for actresses, like this one, from "Hannah and Her Sisters," which is used in the documentary as an illustration of his style of writing from the woman's perspective:

You can say that he doesn't really achieve the female perspective or that women aren't really quite like that, but that isn't the point. The point is that his sense of being inside a woman's head empowers him to produce writing that often works for the viewer, including many, many women who love and identify with scenes like that. He's a man, with male thoughts, projecting those thoughts into women's minds. What a powerful force that is, the male with something of his own that he wants to put inside the woman. It makes the urge to write like the sexual urge. That's creative flow. If you can put that force behind your writing... it's a super-power.

The media seem to have decided that what Gingrich said about immigration is the big story from last night's GOP debate.

So let's read the text:
BLITZER: Back in the '80s... you voted for legislation that had a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants...  Some called it amnesty then; they still call it amnesty now. What would you do if you were President of the United States, with these millions of illegal immigrants, many of whom have been in this country for a long time?

GINGRICH: Let me start and just say I think that we ought to have an H-1 visa that goes with every graduate degree in math, science and engineering so that people stay here. You know, about five blocks down the street, you'll see a statue of Einstein. Einstein came here as an immigrant. So let's be clear how much the United States has drawn upon the world to be richer, better and more inclusive.

I did vote for the Simpson-Mazzoli Act. Ronald Reagan, in his diary, says he signed it -- and we were supposed to have 300,000 people get amnesty. There were 3 million. But he signed it because we were going to get two things in return. We were going to get control of the border and we were going to get a guest worker program with employer enforcement.

We got neither. So I think you've got to deal with this as a comprehensive approach that starts with controlling the border.... I believe ultimately you have to find some system -- once you've put every piece in place, which includes the guest worker program, you need something like a World War II Selective Service Board that, frankly, reviews the people who are here.

If you're here -- if you've come here recently, you have no ties to this country, you ought to go home. period. If you've been here 25 years and you got three kids and two grandkids, you've been paying taxes and obeying the law, you belong to a local church, I don't think we're going to separate you from your family, uproot you forcefully and kick you out.

The Creeble Foundation is a very good red card program that says you get to be legal, but you don't get a pass to citizenship. And so there's a way to ultimately end up with a country where there's no more illegality, but you haven't automatically given amnesty to anyone.
Bachmann is called upon to respond. (Blitzer did a great job last night of creating mini-one-on-one debates within the debate.) She said it was amnesty and she worried about the vast numbers of people who would be able to take advantage of the program. Gingrich then got the floor again:
GINGRICH: Well, I mean, two things, first of all, in the DREAM Act, the one part that I like is the one which allows people who came here with their parents to join the U.S. military, which they could have done if they were back home, and if they serve on it with the U.S. military to acquire citizenship, which is something any foreigner can do.

And I don't see any reason to punish somebody who came here at three years of age, but who wants to serve the United States of America. I specifically did not say we'd make the 11 million people legal.

I do suggest if you go back to your district, and you find people who have been here 25 years and have two generations of family and have been paying taxes and are in a local church, as somebody who believes strongly in family, you'll have a hard time explaining why that particular subset is being broken up and forced to leave, given the fact that they've been law-abiding citizens for 25 years.
Blitzer then called on Bachmann, who, despite what Gingrich just said he "specifically did not say," says "I think the speaker just said that that would make 11 people -- 11 million people who are here illegally now legal." That one-on-one really highlighted Gingrich's superior intelligence and sophistication. Clearly, Gingrich has the ability to reach out to many Americans who feel empathy toward the people who are in the county illegally and to take a middle position that balances a large set of interests. I like that, but obviously the red-meat fans have something to complain about. He put some vegetables on their dish.

November 22, 2011

The PBS documentary on Woody Allen.

I enjoyed it quite a bit. Here, you can watch the whole thing on line. I particularly liked all the detail about working methods, intense work ethic, and working for the sake of working, without looking for admiration. If you're wondering how the Mia Farrow stuff was handled, it was all about her fine work as an actress, and not one word was said against her. There was no effort to excuse or defend Allen for his betrayal of Farrow. And, in my view, that's how it has to be. There's nothing to be gained by trying to explain his side of the story. Did she somehow do something wrong? Some reason to empathize with Allen? It doesn't matter. It would not improve his reputation for us to hear that, and the impression I get is that Allen doesn't care about about correcting any misimpressions. He just works and works. It's life, and he hates death.

"Joe Paterno clashed repeatedly with the university's former chief disciplinarian over how harshly to punish players who got into trouble, internal emails suggest..."

"... shedding new light on the school's effort to balance its reputation as a magnet for scholar-athletes with the demands of running a nationally dominant football program."

ABA has found 14 of 185 of Obama's potential judicial nominees "not qualified."

The NYT has learned through sources. We're not told who these individuals are, and we may never know, because they won't be nominated. But the NYT says that the ABA panel found that 6 of the 14 lacked sufficient experience, 5 had temperament issues, 3 were short on competence, and 3 had ethics problems. (3 fell short in more than one category.)
Officials of Mr. Obama’s legal team have met several times with the chairman of the bar association panel over the last year to raise concerns over the number of negative ratings, and have raised the possibility that the panel’s emphasis on trial experience may have a disparate impact on female and minority lawyers because they may have been less likely to become litigators.
Another way of putting that would seem to be that Obama is overreaching in an effort to name more women and minorities.

The ABA is rejecting 7.5% of Obama's potential nominees after rejecting only 2% for each of the previous 2 Presidents.

Tonight's Republican debate.

I'm watching, but too tired to live-blog. My son John is live-blogging, and maybe some readers here will add comments.

Group offers $10,000 reward for info leading to arrests for the destruction of signed recall Walker petitions.

"One Wisconsin Now... launched the effort after anonymous posts appeared online from people who said they would gather signatures to recall Republican Gov. Scott Walker but then destroy the petitions instead of turning them in."

"Six Issues to Watch for at Tonight’s Republican Debate."

From the WSJ Washington Wire:
1. What to do about defense cuts?...

2. How much has Herman Cain studied?...

3. What about the unrest in Egypt?...

4. Who dislikes Iran the most?...

5. How does Newt Gingrich react to being a front-runner? Since the last debate, talk of a “Gingrich surge” has turned from speculation to a reality, according to recent national polls as well as some surveys in early primary and caucus states. Expect Mr. Gingrich to be standing front and center next to Mitt Romney and to get his fair share of questions. The former House speaker has wooed conservatives this year almost entirely with his debate performances. How will he chide the moderators this time, and is he more willing to attack his rivals?

6. How does Rep. Ron Paul explain being Ron Paul?...

"Fox News Viewers Know Less Than People Who Don't Watch Any News: Study."

There's a headline from HuffPo, which surely doesn't contribute to the deterioration of one's knowledge... does it?

By the way, here's Skeptoid's "Top 10 Worst Anti-Science Websites." HuffPo makes the list:
HuffPo aggressively promotes worthless alternative medicine such as homeopathy, detoxification, and the thoroughly debunked vaccine-autism link. In 2009, published a lengthy critique of HuffPo's unscientific (and often exactly wrong) health advice, subtitled Why bogus treatments and crackpot medical theories dominate "The Internet Newspaper". HuffPo's tradition is neither new nor just a once-in-a-while thing.

Science journalists have repeatedly taken HuffPo to task for this, and repeatedly been rebuffed or not allowed to submit fact-based rebuttals. HuffPo's anti-science stance on health and medicine appears to be deliberately systematic and is unquestionably pervasive.
People who read HuffPo's medical coverage know more than people who read other news sites. The problem is that so much of that extra stuff they know is a total crap. And, unlike confusion about whether protesters in Syria and Egypt have taken down their governments, believing that crap can lead to death.

"I'd Rather Live By The Side Of The Road."

This morning at Meadhouse, Meade turns on Lulu Belle & Scotty. What led you there? I wanted to know. Were you reading about Occupy Wall Street and contemplating alternatives?

"Researchers inserted the human cells into the brains of mice where they successfully integrated themselves into the wiring."

"Then the UW team applied a new technology, using light to stimulate the human cells and watching as they in turn activated mouse brain cells."
In a lab dish, the brain cells or neurons began firing simultaneously "like a power surge lighting up a building," said Jason Weick, an assistant scientist...

Weick said the use of light stimulation, called optogenetics, raises the possibility of modifying transplanted brain cells, in effect turning them up or down like the dimmer control on a light....

In the experiments with live mice, the UW researchers anesthetized the animals, inserted a needle into precise areas of the brain and injected the human neurons. The scientists selected a target for the cells where the brain's architecture is well defined and the cells would have a good chance to integrate into the circuitry: the mouse hippocampus. The hippocampus is the part of the brain in which memories are formed, organized and stored.
Here's what it looked like:

Man, I may need a dimmer switch for my brain... to modulate the fear.

Or... what am I saying? Hooray for the University of Wisconsin, and onward to treating Parkinson's and Lou Gehrig's diseases.

IN THE COMMENTS: Ignorance is Bliss said: "She tried to warn you, but would you listen?"

"He accepted death as a side-effect of stopping the noise."

Explains the psychiatrist of Robert McIndoe, 52, who allegedly killed himself because of the tinnitus he got from a Them Crooked Vultures concert.

"Madison School District ordered to turn over sick notes."

Wisconsin State Journal reports on what was a victory for the State Journal:
State Journal editor John Smalley said the court ruling was a victory for open records and government accountability. He said the newspaper was not planning to publish individual teacher names but rather report on the general nature of the sick notes the district received from employees.

"We felt all along the records were an important part of an important story in our community," Smalley said. "Now we'll be able to review and better understand how the school district handled the delicate matter of dealing with all these sick notes."...

The district had argued that the notes contain medically sensitive information and would cause "embarrassment and annoyance" to most of the teachers involved...

Schools in Madison were closed for four days in February as teachers coordinated a sick-out to attend protests on the Capitol Square of Gov. Scott Walker's curtailing of collective bargaining rights for most public workers. The district required absent teachers to submit notes from doctors if they were legitimately sick. Those who didn't were docked pay.

"The Republican ideology is one of FOOLS and CLOWNS."

Don't miss Crack Skull Bob's rendition of last Sunday's talk show heads.

"The Most Insane Job-Interview Tips Ever"... from Duke's Women Law Students Association.

Jezebel says:
The tone of this handout really owes much to Glamour.
Consider getting fitted for a bra. Fitters at lingerie stores should not only check your proper band width but also how the shape of the cup fits.
If any law students fail to get jobs at firms, they can always fall back on these tips and become bra fitters.
Nordstrom also offers a decent selection of bras. We also like the Maidenform line available at Kohl's. WLSA is not supporting Victoria's Secret because they market to pre-teens. However, some of our members have also had poor bra fitting experiences there.
Victoria's Secret has made the tragic mistake of crossing the WLSA. They will pay for their crimes.

Newt Gingrich sickens Mika Brzezinski.

"I'm so disgusted by that that something horrible is going to come . . . I, I, am I alone here? Am I over-reacting? I'm sickened by that... Who is this man? Who does he think he is? And why is he surging in the polls? I don't get it. I mean to hear Newt Gingrich standing on literally his high horse, after taking advantage of the system, cashing in, being the biggest, literally the biggest hypocrite in the Repubican field, probably in politics today. The biggest hypocrite.... It's disgusting. It's absolutely disgusting. It's a very angry way to start the show. I'm extremely sorry. But it's the first time I'd seen that. And it literally made my skin crawl."


IN THE COMMENTS: Pogo writes: "How high was the horse he stood on?/Pretty damn acrobatic for a fat man./And how was the dismount?"

That made me think of the original Occupy Wall Street Adbusters ad:

You know, Mika was reacting to something Newt said about OWS. (You can hear it at the link.) Perhaps someone can photoshop that lady on the Wall Street Bull into a Newt balancing on tiptoe on a horse.

"I've never spent $200 for a Lego set."

"The most I've spent was the $150 for the Modular Houses, and even that made me cringe a bit. They're so darned fun and detailed that I just can't help myself. From a price to piece standpoint, the set is still less than 10 cents per piece."

It's the Frank Lloyd Wright Robie House. Seems like a great family Christmas present.


And while I'm Amazoning... please buy your Christmas and other holiday presents and all presents for yourself and others through the Althouse portal to Amazon (which is always linked right under this blog's name). You can send a little money my way without paying anything more for your things. And by the way,  you can save 55% today on "Lion King" and "Cars" Director's editions sets. But I'm fascinated by these Lego sets. Here's Fallingwater. Seems like you could play with your kids and teach them (and yourself) about architecture.

"[L]aw school is a very risky (and expensive) investment..."

"... it should not be entered into lightly."

That doesn't mean you shouldn't enter into it heavily.

November 21, 2011

"Congress's special deficit-cutting committee bowed to reality Monday and called it quits..."

"... with both sides having concluded it was easier to swallow failure than any of the possible compromise deals offered...."
Members of both parties are worried about the impact of the automatic cuts, but it would be even more difficult for them to come to a comprehensive budget agreement to supplant them in an election year than it was for the special deficit committee.

"[A]mnesiacs can lose all memory of their past lives, and yet remember music."

"When British conductor and musician Clive Wearing contracted a brain infection in 1985 he was left with a memory span of only 10 seconds...."
But despite being acknowledged by doctors as having one of the most severe cases of amnesia ever, his musical ability and much of his musical memory was intact....

"If you give Clive a new piece of music he sight reads it and plays it on the piano, but you can't say he's learnt it," [said his wife].... "Clive has no knowledge of ever having played the piano or whether he still can."...

"Even though he's had a piano in his own room for 26 years he doesn't know it until it's pointed out to him."

When did articles all start to begin "When did...?"?

"When Did the GOP Lose Touch With Reality?"

"When Did Liberals Become So Unreasonable?"

The pepper-spray meme goes viral.

More where that came from: here.

Mountain bike dog.

Lily Shreds trailside. on

Via Metafilter.

Should Obama not run for re-election in 2012?

That's the meme of the day over at Memeorandum. Patrick Caddell and Douglas E. Schoen have this piece in the Wall Street Journal: "The Hillary Moment: President Obama can't win by running a constructive campaign, and he won't be able to govern if he does win a second term." Investor's Business Daily has picked it up: "The 'Dump Obama' movement has begun; Guess who'd replace him?"

I think it's ridiculous to pressure the incumbent candidate to step down, especially to cede the floor to the person he beat to get the job in the first place. The fact is, he's President, and that has a powerful effect on our minds. We can certainly see him as President. Everyone else is a puny upstart (until they prove otherwise). Now, perhaps I'm more of a sucker for incumbents than most people. Only twice in my life — and I've voted since 1972 — have I declined to vote for the Democratic presidential candidate, and both times, it was for an incumbent Republican. I'm referring to the 1976 and the 2004 elections. In both cases, I could visualize the President as President, but not the challenger.

Now, let me be clear. I have argued that Obama shouldn't want to run for a second term. Back on April 3d of this year, I indulged in some imaginative mind-reading, but that wasn't about how the Democratic Party could increase its chances of winning in 2012. It was a flight of fancy into Obama's psyche:
If he is reelected, then that will be the end of running for President. He'll be 54 years old, and what will he do? Move to Hawaii and play golf? But he could move to Hawaii and play golf in January 2013, if that's an enticing prospect. And, if he does, he won't have maxed out his eligibility for being President. He can tantalize us, year after year, with the possibility that he would run for another term — a fascinatingly out-of-sequence term. The thing he's best at is running for President. Why let that game expire? He could toy with it in 2016, when he's 58, and in 2020, when he's a clear-visioned 62, and in 2024, when he's a well-seasoned 66, and in 2028, when he's a beneficent elder, offering his services once again, because his country longs for the golden days of 2011. It will never end, as long as the icon of hope and change — oh, my lord, I typo'd "hope and chains"! — walks the face of the earth... unless he serves that second term.
So, I can see Obama choosing to withdraw, with some magnificent long-term life plan. But pressure him out? Ridiculous! Whatever his poll numbers now, whatever the pain and suffering, he's got a long campaign ahead of him. The campaigning Obama is the one we know best. Sure, he'll have a lot to answer for, but it's not a question of whether we're happy about what's been going on these last few years. It will be a choice between him and that other guy (or gal). And I'm betting he'll win.

ADDED: Here's a May 1st post talking about Mickey Kaus saying Obama shouldn't run:
I'm not saying Mickey stole my idea. In fact, our ideas are completely different (except for picturing Obama not running). Mickey portrays Obama as a big old failure who ought to get out gracefully and give another Democrat a clean shot. Meade and I were fantasizing from Obama's perspective — what his life really feels like to him and how to milk the pleasure of being Obama for all it's worth.

Prediction: Russ Feingold will run against Scott Walker in the recall election...

... if there is a recall election. I'm not predicting that the governor's antagonists will succeed in getting 540,208 signatures in 60 days, which is what they need to force an election. Once they've snapped up the easy signatures in Madison they've got to venture out to chillier places. For example, at yesterday's Packer game:

(Ha ha. The last guy in that video is great)

I'm only saying that if they get the signatures, Russ Feingold — despite repeated statements to the contrary — will step forward and run to take the governorship away from Scott Walker.

The fact that the signature effort may fail is just one of the reasons why Russ Feingold has taken the official position that he will not run. Yes, some people might be more willing to sign the recall petition if they knew the strongest-polling Democrat was ready to go, but the signature-gathering-effort would turn into a discussion about whether Feingold is preferable to Walker, and — as I read Feingold's mind — Feingold would prefer for people to leave him out of it and concentrate on how bad Scott Walker is.

By disclaiming the desire to take power, Feingold is able to present himself as a statesman, appearing at numerous anti-Walker events to bolster the morale of the protesters and, seemingly selflessly,  to criticize Walker. Here he was at Saturday's recall rally. Here he was at the Walkerville protest in June. And here he was embodying the Wisconsin protests for Netroots Nation people. That was back in March, before he'd done much at Wisconsin protests (oddly enough!), but when folks outside of Wisconsin, like FireDogLake, were straining to connect Feingold to the protests. FireDogLake noted that "practically every rally in Madison has included some variant of a 'Feingold for Governor' sign."

Back then, Feingold had only appeared at — I think — one anti-Walker protest: On February 18th, he marched with some firefighters. That was 2 days after he announced that he was starting a new organization called "Progressives United" (which hasn't made much... progress), about a month after he signed on to teach "Current Legal Issues: The U.S. Senate" at Marquette Law School, and 3 months after he was humiliated by the loss of his Senate seat to a political newby, the tea partier Ron Johnson.

As the protest season unrolled, and Walker-haters chanted "Recall Walker" and carried signs picturing Feingold with the slogan "This is what a Governor looks like," Feingold had to be careful not to look too eager to grab the governorship. Under Wisconsin law, there could not be a recall election until early 2012, and the time-line had to be managed. Feingold figured out — I'm guessing — that he needed to stay in the background, act as though he wanted nothing for himself, and let the demand build. People would have to beg to run.

If and when the recall Walker campaign come to fruition, there will be a painful, embarrassing dearth of willing Democratic candidates. The cry will reach a crescendo: Help us, Russ Feingold, you're our only hope!

And then, not for himself, not because he lost the Senate seat, not because he'd like to set himself up for a run at the presidency in 2016, but humbly, out of a pressing sense of duty, for the sake of the People of Wisconsin, Reluctant Russ will step forward. Oh, the liberal love that will gush forth that day!

Will he win? I don't know. He could be rehumiliated. First, that tea partier Ron Johnson, and next, that weasel Walker!

But what else can Feingold do with himself? Teach more courses about law and politics at Marquette? No, he has big ambitions, and the most ambitious path leads to the presidency. Russ wanted the presidency in 2008, (and his campaign collapsed early). What is the one thing that would — by far — help launch Feingold to the presidency if anything is going to launch him? Executive experience — successful executive experience — running a state.

He can't wait until 2014 — when Walker's term runs out — to run for governor. He must have realized that when he lost his Senate seat. This recall is exactly what he needs to restore his political career. Note that he declined to run for the Senate seat Herb Kohl is vacating. Why? I think it's that he already had fixed his ambition on the governor position. Why? It would be too small an accomplishment to crawl back to the Senate, where Ron Johnson is sitting in his seat. And the Senate is not a good path to the presidency. Feingold learned that the last time around, in the 2008 campaign. You need executive experience (or you need to be Barack Obama). Senator doesn't cut it. Especially for 2016, after Barack Obama.

So you take over as Governor of Wisconsin. You bring peace to our state after all of this discord. The liberals lapse into a snooze of bliss. Realistically, they know you can't do anything, because the Republicans hold the legislature. All you need to be is our dear Russ, the liberal, who ended the pain that was Scott Walker. While the liberals are sated and sleeping it off, Russ will build his new reputation. He'll demonstrate bipartisanship, working with the Republican legislature, gathering in a few symbolic accomplishments. The economic outlook will probably brighten — with Walker's reforms remaining in place — and Governor Feingold will glow over every tick upward. Feingold will seem so mature and moderate, so responsible and effective, so intelligent... so excellent!

Blah blah blah...  

President Feingold!!!

"Pepper Spray Outrage."

UC—Davis feels the pain, after a viral video shows a campus police officer spraying students with pepper spray as they were seated on the sidewalk, as if they were some pesky weeds growing between the cracks and he was wielding the Roundup.

Penn State University Professor John McCarthy, "who has written extensively about campus protest and about police response to protest... said that campus police should first err on the side of permitting protest."
But if there is a need to clear a space, the standard response in a situation such as that at Davis, in which students are threatening no one, is to issue a warning and then to remove students one by one. Pepper spray would never be used in such a situation, he said.
Was there some idea that physically manhandling the students would have looked worse? I think we've learned that it doesn't!

Scott Turow advocates amending the Constitution to restrict free speech.

It's never been done, but he thinks it's time now, and he recommends this push for a constitutional amendment as the next step for the Occupy Wall Street movement.

November 20, 2011

It's intermission.

You can talk about anything you want.

"I have to wonder about the perspective of anyone who considers Althouse 'a crazed right-wing blog'..."

"... what with her voting for Obama in 2008 and all. Clearly, she’s extreme!"

From a discussion based on a blog post by a lefty lawprof who just can't understand why "right-wing" lawprof blogs get so many more readers than lefty lawprof blogs. The answers are so obvious and his whining is so unattractive that I can't be bothered spelling it out, but I'm sure said lefty lawprof won't really mind, since he's got so many other lefty lawprofs to look to for succour. With all that in-house comfort, are you surprised he's so flabby?

"Paying Students To Quit Law School."

A proposal from 2 Yale lawprofs Akhil Reed Amar and Ian Ayres.

"The deficit-reduction supercommittee, stuck in a partisan deadlock, faces an almost certain collapse..."

"... raising the threat of disruptive military spending cuts and a resurgent public anger at Congress as it struggles with the basic tasks of governance."
That expected failure injects a greater uncertainty into the nation's political and economic landscape heading into a volatile election year....

Some critics, mostly Republicans, have faulted President Barack Obama for keeping his distance from the committee for months after submitting his own deficit plan. But the outcome could create a political opening for Mr. Obama, bolstering a presidential campaign strategy of running against an ostensibly incompetent Congress.

Remontant foxglove.

That's the first thing we notice upon leaving the house today. We drive over to the east side of town to check out the signs...

... and get some coffee....

Waiting for my small cappuccino, I have plenty of time to read the parody lyrics taped to the espresso machine.

“I love Madison. It’s a ‘real’ place. It has a sense of itself... It is what it is, and it’s fun to watch.”

That's a quote from me in an article about me at WPRI—Wisconsin's Free Market Think Tank, written by Sunny Schubert, whom I talked to over coffee for about an hour.
But [Althouse] gets irked by the insistence of so many residents that “this is a town for the left and if you don’t think like us, you don’t belong here.”

Ironically, she says, “These are people who like to think of themselves as so kind and gentle.” She is amused by the “self-love involved when you think your policies are so right, nobody could possibly disagree with you.”

Russ Feingold: "The big lie is beginning. The big lie is that this is an out-of-state movement...."

He was speaking about the movement to recall Scott Walker at a rally in Madison, Wisconsin yesterday.

"The big lie"? The "big lie" is a lie that has "a certain force of credibility" precisely because it is so big:
[T]he broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying.
Those aren't Feingold's words. Those are the words of Adolf Hitler, which Feingold evoked when he used the historically resonant expression "the big lie." In accusing his opponents of employing "the big lie," Feingold is likening them to Hitler.

Let me remind you that the Wisconsin protesters have been equating Scott Walker with Hitler since last winter.  From last March, here's a protester explaining why Scott Walker is like Hitler. Here's another explanation, from a woman with a sign portraying Scott Walker as Hitler. Here's a photo I took last February. I vividly remember this woman:


I asked her if she thought Scott Walker was like Hitler...
... and she said "Yes." So I said, "Are you saying that you think fascism could come to America," and she said, "It's what's happening."
Russ Feingold is a very intelligent and informed man. His allusion to Hitler is subtle, not — I think — accidental. He's sounding the deep chord. His speech continues:
"How can they even say it with a straight face? This movement is so grass-roots, so red-and-white Wisconsin, that it is absolutely ridiculous to say that."
Can you look at this picture of a truck parked on the Capitol Square during yesterday's rally and maintain a straight face?

It says: "Kentucky/West Virginia/Indiana." (And here's a golden oldie from last March: "Chicago is up in the house... Everyone left is from Chicago.")

Feingold continues:
Now, we've got a great football team. They may not be #1, except for a couple little problems there, but they're darned close, but when it comes to grass-roots activism that is all Badger, we are #1.
All right. Quite aside from the truth of the assertion that the recall movement is totally in-state and grass-roots, how can he say "Now, we've got a great football team. They may not be #1"? We've got a great football team that is most certainly #1, but it's not in Madison, Wisconsin. It's in Green Bay. You can even hear an audience member yell out "Two!" in a prompt that Feingold could have heard. But it's a Madison, Wisconsin crowd, and Feingold is Madison-focused. He used the expression "red-and-white Wisconsin" as if the colors of the University of Wisconsin—Madison were the state colors. Red-and-white Wisconsin? What about green-gold-and-white Wisconsin? Feingold is unwittingly displaying that he is out of touch with the rest of the state — which voted him out of the U.S. Senate in 2010, despite his vast popularity in Madison.

And this is the state that voted in Scott Walker. The people of Madison never supported him, but they weren't in synch with the majority of the state in 2010. Now, it's a year later, and the people of Madison want to force another election, using the recall mechanism from the Wisconsin constitution, which doesn't limit the reasons why we might recall a governor. Russ Feingold addressed the question of when recalls are justified:
Our law says you can be recalled if you simply attack the people of the State of Wisconsin, and that is what this is all about. 
The state constitution says no such thing. "Attack the people"? It is for us, the people of Wisconsin, to decide when and why we want to use the recall device. There's no attack-the-people standard, whatever that's supposed to mean. Feingold attempts to infuse meaning into his made-up standard:
Now, I'm going to be the first to say I don't believe you should do recalls just any old time. I don't think that's a good idea. I think it could be damaging. 
I agree!
For example, I don't think it would be a valid basis to recall Walker because he ruined our chances to have a railroad system. I mean that was totally dumb. It was $800 million from the federal government that he just threw away. 
He just threw it away. Isn't it shocking to think of federal money like that? The federal government is deeply in debt. There is no money to throw away. Once the federal government offers money for some specific purpose it may seem to acquire reality, and if you are completely fixated on what you want for yourself, you may think, I'd better snap that up now or I'm going to lose it, but that's a delusion. There is no money. And if we'd taken the money for the railroad line (to connect Madison to Milwaukee), we would have been on the hook — as a state — for endless additional expenses over the years.

But according to Feingold, the railroad "was our future." It's not right to recall Scott Walker over that, however, Feingold says, because "he said he was going to do that." (That is true. It's why I voted for Walker.) What Walker didn't say, and what is therefore the reason to recall him, Feingold says, "was that he was going to go at the basic collective bargaining rights and voting rights of every citizen in this state. That's a big deal. That goes to the foundation of who we are."

Now, Walker didn't go after "the basic collective bargaining rights... of every citizen in this state." He only went after some of the collective bargaining rights of some public employees. And he didn't go after the "voting rights of every citizen in this state" — only the "rights" of citizens who haven't yet acquired a state-issued photo ID.

But Feingold is stirring up the crowd. And the fact is, he's a great speaker. He ends: "Where do I sign?" and signs a recall petition.

Our recall procedure requires an election with an opposition candidate, and what's the point of going through the collection of all these signatures unless the governor can be ousted? Who will oppose Scott Walker? The only candidate with a real chance, it seems, is Russ Feingold, but Russ says he's not running. That's what he's saying now, before the signatures are collected. I happen to believe that if there is a recall election, Feingold will run. But that is a subject for another post.