December 24, 2011

"Bengals WR Jerome Simpson flips over a Cardinals defender..."

"... and into the end zone to score one of the prettiest touchdowns you'll ever see."

"Christianity Remains Dominant Religion in the United States."

"This Christmas season, 78% of American adults identify with some form of Christian religion. Less than 2% are Jewish, less than 1% are Muslim, and 15% do not have a religious identity. This means that 95% of all Americans who have a religious identity are Christians."

A new Gallup poll.

The FedEx publicity nightmare YouTube video that has over 6 million views...

... in less than 5 days:

"Next time Holder speaks, someone should run to a judge for a TRO."

"And file a race-discrimination suit against whoever’s hosting him. Every single time...."

That's mainly a joke, but this isn't:
... I anticipate that South Carolina (and Texas) will take the preclearance decisions to a three judge court in DC, with direct appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.  I further expect that in this litigation, South Carolina (and Texas) will argue, among other arguments, that Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional...
If review is expedited — which seems likely — the Supreme Court will be looking at this question and perhaps striking down the provision during the 2012 campaigns. Which party would be helped by that issue? Democrats will be positioned to preen about their concern for racial equality, and that puts Republicans in the position of championing the importance of leaving states alone to do things their own way, which — for some people at least — is a reminder of the bad old days when there clearly was discrimination and some states — mainly the states that are now stuck with the preclearance procedure — pontificated about "states' rights."

Nevertheless, I think the Republicans will be better off if this becomes an issue. First, people who reflexively impose that "bad old days" template are probably already voting for Democrats. Second, huge majorities of Americans support voter ID requirements, which means that few people buy into the race pandering. Third, playing the race card backfires once people clearly see that's all that's going on. And fourth, there really is something screwy about treating a few states differently from the other states, and if if a high-profile Supreme Court case makes people notice this strangeness, they'll be suspicious of the politicians and lawyers who strain to make the argument that it's right.

"The Worst-Dressed Man in the World."

An impressive achievement, is it not? Of course, it's easy to be bad. But it's not easy to be the worst.

"Five years ago, a relatively unknown (and unhinged) director began one of the wildest experiments in film history."

"Armed with total creative control, he invaded a Ukrainian city, marshaled a cast of thousands and thousands, and constructed a totalitarian society in which the cameras are always rolling and the actors never go home."
Life on the project has a way of sucking people in. Since 2008, more than a few crew members stopped pretending this was a temporary gig and have moved to Kharkov. Most are fresh out of film school, but several have left behind serious careers. Some moved their families to Kharkov. Others started new families right here....
"The Movie Set That Ate Itself" by Michael Idov. (This essay was pointed out in David Brooks's "Sidney Awards" column, which talks about a couple other things that I'd blog if it were not Christmas Eve Day. They are too horrible to mention today.)

ADDED: But Instapundit just mentioned one of them.

"Tommy [Thompson] was beside himself that [Scott] Walker was so dogmatic."

"We had lots of conversations about this — about how it was going to do nothing but cause chaos, and it was bad for the state. Businesses aren't going to move here in the middle of all this conflict."

A Democratic Wisconsin state senator talks to The Progressive's Ruth Coniff about his purported conversations last winter with Tommy Thompson about Scott Walker.
"After a certain point, Walker quit taking Tommy's phone calls... I think Tommy was giving him advice he didn't want to hear."

Democratic State Senator Bob Jauch says that during the crisis, after he and 13 other state Democrats had fled the state to stall a vote on the collective bargaining issue, he spoke with former officials in Tommy Thompson's administration who said Thompson was trying to persuade Walker to reach a deal. "I heard it from three different people who talked to him," says Jauch....
"I said, 'Tommy, you and I could have solved this whole thing over a cup of coffee.'" Jauch says. "Tommy put his hands on my shoulders and said, 'Bob, it would have been a pot of coffee, but absolutely we could have solved it.' " ...
"Tommy Thompson spent his career unifying Wisconsin," Jauch adds. "It has to be stressful for him to watch Governor Walker divide the state."
Hmmm. Jauch is a Democrat, and Tommy Thompson is running for for office right now (trying to get the U.S. Senate seat Herb Kohl is vacating). Thompson — as the linked article notes — is getting criticized from the right for being too moderate. It doesn't help Thompson's candidacy to have Democrats slathering him with love. Read the whole article. There are more quotes from Democrats who think Thompson is just dreamy compared to Walker.

By the way, if Walker is ousted in a recall — highly unlikely, in my view — I'd like to see him vie for that Herb Kohl Senate seat.

And look: Scott Walker was proclaimed "Governor of the Year" by Governors Journal.

Barbara Walters to Barack Obama: "If you were a superhero and you could have one super power, what would it be?"

Ridiculous premise for a question. He is a superhero.

Of course, Obama is smart enough to whip out the official, mentally healthy answer: "Flying." Only creepy people say "invisibility." Why am I saying that? Listen to the great old "This American Life" segment "Invisible Man vs. Hawkman."

ADDED: "If you could be any superhero, who would it be?" is one of the tricky job interview questions the Wall Street Journal has in its article today: "How to Ace a Google Interview/Brain teasers like the ones used for hiring by the Internet giant are spreading to other picky employers." What's the right answer to these questions? Who knows? What superhero? Uh... JobGettingMan.
Weird interview questions have become a meme, like a joke or a viral video. It's catchiness, rather than proof of their effectiveness, that keeps them in circulation at many companies....

The deep, dark secret of human resources is that traditional job interviews don't work very well.
By the way, I have an answer that would ace the Google question, which is: You're suddenly shrunk to the size of a nickel and thrown into a blender. "The blades start moving in 60 seconds. What do you do?"

I'd say: What is the basis of my knowledge of what's going to happen 60 seconds into the future? Every blender I've ever seen reacts instantly and only when somebody pushes a button. There must be person who threw me in the blender who is also informing me of what he intends to do in 60 seconds. But why would someone this evil tell me the truth? But whether he's lying or not, he's interested in what I will do in the next 60 seconds, rather like you, the interviewer, are interested in what I'll do in the next 60 seconds. Presumably, desperate flailing is not what will get me this job, keep evil blender truthteller from killing me, or influence the mysterious lying blender guy to let me out, so I think I should do a fascinating dance. I would tell a long, fascinating story, like Scheherazade — who delayed her execution — but I'm assuming there's a fairly soundproof lid on the blender, so I'm resorting to dance. Wanna see?

Gingrich and Perry fail to make it onto the primary ballot in Virginia.

What a screwup! You have to get 10,000 signatures....
Perry’s campaign told state election officials it had submitted 11,911 signatures, and Gingrich’s campaign said it submitted 11,050 signatures. State party officials spent Friday night validating the signatures.
... valid signatures.

Whatever happened to Ian of Ian & Silvia?

"I don't think we were playing very well back then, but it didn't matter... Folk was huge, and the shows were permeated by an incredible energy."

Here's "Four Strong Winds." Judge for yourself.

Here's his new memoir. He looks like Ronald Reagan on the cover, but he's doing that Reagan-ing in Canada, where he was born.
I didn't like going from being a top-of-the-pile folk duo to a discredited schlock act, from prince and princess of the whole thing to nothing. I got pretty angry about it. Around 1970 Sylvia and I went to see the Flying Burrito Brothers at a little joint in Manhattan. They were loud and out of tune, but we could see that they were going somewhere, and I was stewing because I thought we were much better than they were.
Even though they weren't very good! Ian "got drunk" and "yell[ed] at Sylvia." Aw.

They were the model for Mitch and Mickey in "A Mighty Wind"... weren't they?

Oh, that's not the right way to begin Christmas Eve Day!

That first post. False internet trash. Let me start over with this, which Meade just IM'd me.

ADDED: "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" is perhaps the last song Christians should embrace. Not only is it bereft of every reference to Christianity short of the word "Christmas," it refers to goddesses from another religion: "through the years, we all will be together if The Fates allow."
The Moirae, Moerae or Moirai (in Greek Μοῖραι – the "apportioners", often called The Fates), in Greek mythology, were the white-robed incarnations of destiny... They controlled the metaphorical thread of life of every mortal from birth to death, and it was impossible for anyone to act over his own destiny....
Supposedly, the original lyric actually was "if the Lord allows," and "The Fates" were swapped in to make it secular... which is offensive to anyone who believes in the religion of the ancient Greeks.
If someone broke his boundaries, thus getting more than his ordained part, then he would be punished. By extension moira was one's portion or part in destiny which consisted of good and bad moments as it was predetermined by the Moirae (Fates) and it was impossible for anyone to get more than his ordained part.
Are you trying to get more than your pre-ordained allotment? If so, you will be punished. Perhaps some Americans today really do believe in that ancient dogma... without the goddess imagery to make it feel profound and scarily beautiful.

When Ariana says "simply no there there" about a white hot story about a GOP presidential candidate, that's the definition of "false Internet garbage"...

Which is what the Perry campaign called Glen Maxey's self-published book "Head Figure Head: The Search for the Hidden Life of Rick Perry":
Initially, Maxey was collaborating with a reporter ("The Journalist") for a "National News Outlet" – unidentified in the book, but outed last week by Politico as Jason Cherkis of the Huffington Post. It eventually became clear that Cherkis' story was unlikely to be published. (Despite editorial and legal clearance, Ariana Huffington spiked it, last week telling Politico's Ken Vogel, there was "simply no there there.")

December 23, 2011

The unseen Frank Lloyd Wright house.

This is how close we got to Samara when we were in West Lafayette, Indiana the other day.

This just looks closer:

But here's a delightful 10-minute video interviewing the original owner of the house in the house where he still lives:

Bill Clinton had Newt's number.

And he played him!

Clinton is the master!

"There's a very militant atheist movement that's trying to drive out vestiges of the truth."

"They're trying to deny the truth that this nation is founded on Christian principles... These people, atheists, a number of them... are bound and determined to drive away from any public place any manifestation that Americans are God-loving people... This is not fair, this is not just."

The atheists in the "War on Christmas" take up a beachhead... in Santa Monica.

"The Democratic-controlled Senate" and "the Republican-controlled House of Representatives" do that "payroll tax cut" they've been fussing over.

But I just want to talk about CNN's grammar. In an effort to avoid saying "Democrat" for "Democratic," CNN has said "Democratic" when it makes no sense. "Democratic" is only an adjective, and Democrats are annoyed when Republicans use "Democrat" as an adjective instead of "Democratic," but when you want a noun, you need to say "Democrat."

I could imagine thinking an adverb was needed with "-controlled," but then it would be "Democratically-controlled" and "Republican-controlled" would lack parallelism. But you don't use an adjective to modify an adjective, and
"-controlled" is obviously an adjective.

CNN is overcorrecting itself out of fear of lapsing into the conservative shibboleth "Democrat" for "Democratic."

ADDED: Test my point with another example, used with "-controlled": A school controlled by parents could be called a "parent-controlled" school. You wouldn't dream of calling it a "parental-controlled" school. You might consider "parentally-controlled" (and wouldn't you drop the hyphen?). "Parentally controlled school" wouldn't be grammatically wrong, but it would have the wrong meaning. It would be a school that was controlled in a parental fashion by who-knows-who, not a school controlled by parents.

"Newt was a solitary boy whose extreme nearsightedness made it extremely difficult for him to recognize people until he was about 12..."

I am a jaded blogger whose extreme fussiness about writing and psychoanalyzing makes it extremely difficult for me to believe that the extreme overuser of the word "extreme," Gail Sheehy, has actually written a fine article about the extremely weird and painful childhood of the man who might have been called "Newt the McPherson," after the "big, brawling man" who impregnated his mother when she was 16, but who acquired the last name of the "bar-fighting bread-truck driver" who married her shortly thereafter.
From heroes in history books and cowboy movies [young Newt Gingrich] extracted idealizations of himself. It was in the darkened theater of the mind, the local cheese box of a movie theater in Hummelstown, that he had his awakening, “a moment where I realized, I can be a leader,” he said.

He would watch John Wayne kill the bad guys four or five times in a row and go home to try aping the laconic lope of the 6-foot-4 actor. This was not easy for a short, pudgy boy. Nevertheless, he said, “I imprinted John Wayne … as my model of behavior. I was a 50-year-old at 9.”

When Newt dared, at 15, to break the old man’s curfew of 11 p.m., Bob Gingrich recalled, with an intimidating pantomime, how he “grabbed him by the lapels and I smashed him against the wall. Then I dropped him. He didn’t do it again.”
Yikes. Read the whole thing, if you can.

Cabins... cabins...

.... cabins...

That's just page 1 of 23, so find the "Next" link at the bottom and keep going.

Via Metafilter... where comments range from "God, some of those are utterly beautiful and brilliant" to "Many of those cabins appear to have been designed by people who have absolutely no idea what it's like to live in the country."

In a state that has lost its mind...

...  a motel with a "Kochsucker" sign.

LAT article on Mitt's marriage illustrated with a photo of Ann Romney seemingly biting some other man's nose.

Let's close in on the photo:

It's generally a lovely picture of the couple, and it's nicely new, taken this week. Is there some journalistic rule against photoshopping a ludicrous stray face part out of a picture? It almost looks photoshopped in. It's completely absurd to have that nose — it looks like Bob Hope's nose — right between her teeth. And the intimacy of her connection to her husband is mocked by wedging a mystery man into the tiny space between them.

The title of the article — "Spotlight on Romney's marriage casts shadow on Gingrich's past" — seems designed to distract us from the distinct charm of Ann Romney's story...
... how her husband comforted her in her "hardest hour," when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (telling her he didn't care if they ate cold cereal every night for the rest of their lives); and how he used to call home during his business trips when she was a young mother of five sons to say, "Remember, Ann, what you are doing is more important than what I am doing."

He teases her publicly about her "fiscal discipline." She corrects him aloud when he misspeaks at his events. They hold hands. They exchange tender glances. The chemistry between them is unmistakable.
Unmistakable even with a strange man's nose and grimace stuck in and the accusation — read the whole article — that Mitt Romney is calling attention to his marriage in order to make voters think ill of Newt Gingrich, the admitted adulterer on his third wife, a woman young enough to be his daughter.

George H.W. Bush endorses Romney, because of his "stability, experience, principles. He’s a fine person."

"I just think he’s mature and reasonable — not a bomb-thrower... I’ve got to be a little careful because I like Perry; he’s our governor."

ADDED: By contrast, Rush Limbaugh bashes Romney for declining to call Obama a "socialist."  Romney — responding to Bill O'Reilly's "Is Obama a socialist?" — said:
You know, I prefer to use the term that he's just over his head.  I consider him a big government liberal Democrat.  I think, as you look at his policies, you conclude that he thinks Europe got it right, and we got it wrong.  I think Europe got it wrong.  I think Europe is not working in Europe, and I'll battle him on that day in and day out. But I'm probably not gonna be calling him names so much as calling him a failure.

"'The Iron Lady' locates class as an important and largely ignored element of Mrs. Thatcher's struggle."

Writes Peggy Noonan:
The leftist intelligentsia of her day, which claimed loyalty to and identification with the poor and marginalized, was shot through with snobs and snobbery. Underneath their egalitarian chatter was (and to some degree still is) a hidden, hungry admiration for and desire to be associated with the well-named and well-connected. The top of the right, the Tories, who said they stood for tradition, the rights of the oppressed middle and the greatness of England, was heavily populated by a more familiar kind of snob, those who took more overt pleasure in their titles and pedigree, and wealth. They were not eager for change.

Both left and right looked down on women, especially style-less grinds and grocers' daughters who thought they were the equal of the boys. The movie suggests Mrs. Thatcher's defiance of the snobs while depicting her defeat of the snobs.

Marquette Law School gets into the political polling business...

... with Charles Franklin, who is a University of Wisconsin political science professor.
"There are a host of things we'll be able to look at from time to time to paint a much deeper and broader picture of how people feel about the direction the state is headed in, both good and bad," says Franklin.

"It's not a state of one mind," he adds of Wisconsin, a perennial swing state in elections. "It's also not a state of two minds. There are a lot more mixed feelings in both parties."
"It's not a state of one mind... It's also not a state of two minds..." It's a state that has lost its mind.
Many have questioned why a law school is getting into the polling business, Franklin says. But he notes Marquette Law School has already become a "public policy crossroads" by hosting political debates and issue forums. The polling project is an extension of that, he says.

Franklin says Wisconsin is poorly served by the limited polling currently done. Most media organizations are no longer willing or can't afford to conduct polls. And the few polls done by partisan organizations are quickly dismissed by critics as biased, even when they are solid.
Should a law school be in the polling business? If so, and if the polling expert is a UW prof, why is that law school Marquette and not Wisconsin?  Questions, questions. Some of which can be answered through polling. Anyway, I'm excited by the prospect of getting uniquely high quality polls about our uniquely weirdly political state, Wisconsin.

December 22, 2011

"I’ve always given books to friends and family for Christmas presents... books are the only gifts in the world that anybody would ever want to receive."

So says poet and novelist Jay Parini, one of the respondents to the NYT questions "What is the best book you have ever received as a gift? What are your favorite books to give to friends?" Parini recommends... oh, who cares? I like Jane Smiley's response:
I learned not to give books as gifts the year I turned 13 and very carefully and with much forethought went to the book section at Stix, Baer and Fuller, in Brentwood, Mo., and purchased a copy of “Six Crises,” by Richard Nixon, for my mother. My mother had been a newspaperwoman for many years, was politically vocal, and definitely was a Republican. When I placed the package under the tree, I was extremely proud of myself.

When she unwrapped it, she turned it over in her hands with a bemused look, and she was only minimally grateful. I noticed that when it got put on a bookshelf, the bookshelf was in my room. I doubt that she ever opened it.

Have I ever received a book? No one would dare. A reader's tastes are peculiar....

Therefore: The gift certificate is a giver's best friend...
Dare I recommend an Amazon gift certificate? Anyway, I told you 2 years ago: Don't give books! I said it back in '09...

"Now I wish I could write you a melody so plain/That could hold you dear lady from going insane..."

"That could ease you and cool you and cease the pain/Of your useless and pointless knowledge..."

Oh, it's crossed my mind occasionally, over the last 25 years, to resort to a Bob Dylan lyric — notably, that one — when a law student has asked me for the wrong kind of answer. I managed to resist. Now, imagine a law professor — a Harvard Law professor — making an exam out of 2 nothing questions and tossing in a Dylan quote as a taunt — "'There must be some way out of here,' said the joker to the thief/'There’s too much confusion, I can’t get no relief,'"

Via Instapundit, Elie Mystal gives Professor Charles Nesson a pass.

That exam — which you can read at the last link — reminds me of an anxiety dream I once had. I suddenly realized I had to give an exam. The students were all in the room ready to go, and I had nothing to hand out. All I could think of to do was to walk up and begin to write on the blackboard, making up the exam questions as I formed the letters of the words. Beginning with a Dylan quote would be a useful way to stall while scrambling for something that could plausibly be considered an exam question.... before going insane.

"I want a baby doll and a waterproof with a hood and a pair of gloves..."

"... and a toffee apple and a gold penny and a silver sixpence and a long toffee."

100-year-old letter to Santa, found up a chimney.

The NYT hopes against hope to get subscription money from students and faculty.

Email received this morning:
Dear Reader,

Your complimentary digital subscription, which you were specially chosen to receive earlier this year, will expire at the end of the year.

But because you qualify for our education rate, you can extend your subscription, and continue to enjoy unlimited access to and all our apps, at 50% off the regular rate. These savings are yours for as long as you continue to have a college or university affiliation as a student, faculty or staff member with a valid school e-mail address, which usually ends in .edu.

At the Disembodied Café...

... are you still available?

And unto them a child is born.

A tiny new Weiner.

I love when a politician's cute son does the talking for him.

Merry Christmas, from Rand/Ron Paul. Now, shut up all you people who are being so mean about Ron Paul.

It's Christmastime. Time to calm down and be of good cheer or whatever... while the politicians work overtime getting their full-scale attacks ready for next week.

You may have noticed the new comments policy around here.

My new message above the comments composition window is:
I value all comments made in good faith. Try to understand this concept. It's not about your point of view or your mode of expression. We love disputes and diversity. But I won't allow bad faith commenters to leverage their destructiveness on my commitment to free speech.
Following this new policy and with Meade helping me, we've been deleting commenters we believe are writing in the comments with the purpose of wrecking the forum and driving away the people who enjoy the comments section as a place of free expression.

It's hard to draw this line, and it's possible that we're seeing some commenters the wrong way. The message at the comments window also says "If your comments are deleted and you don't understand why, write to Meade, who is helping me with this," but Meade tells me no one has yet emailed him, so I tend to think we've identified the "bad faithers." Meade says "There are about a dozen. Call them 'The Dirty Dozen.'"

Now, we can also err the other way. There might be a commenter who impresses us with a clever form of expression, even as he hurls insults. My orientation toward free speech has made me very tolerant of people like that, even when they attack me and the commenters here. I've gone very far defending edgy and harsh expression. That's part of why my new policy is about the good faith/bad faith distinction. That distinction depends on the writer's purpose, and purpose can be hard to discern, especially in clever writers.

In this context, there was a commenter who offended a lot of people, but he crafted his comments quite creatively. We delete him now as one of the bad faithers, but there are some ex-commenters who — elsewhere on the internet — excoriate me for leaving his comments up as long as I did. I'm not going to link to these folks whose idea of a good time is attacking me. I'm just going to invite them — and anybody else who's been following this dispute — to click "more" and see a comment that should take them aback.

"You know, a one-term president with some balls who actually got stuff done..."

"... would have been, in the long run of the country, much better."

Matt Damon, purporting to speak for "a lot of people who worked for Obama at the grassroots level."
"If the Democrats think that they didn't have a mandate — people are literally without any focus or leadership, just wandering out into the streets to yell right now because they're pissed off... Just imagine if they had a leader."

"There are plenty of American Muslim patriots who will defend American freedoms."

"But you can’t be anti-Islam and find those allies."

"A wave of coordinated explosions ripped across Baghdad early on Thursday, killing at least 63 people..."

"... wounding more than 180 and jolting a country already unsettled by a deepening political crisis and the absence of American troops."

I think it's 3 a.m. in Hawaii and a phone is ringing.

ADDED: Am I being unfair? I don't think Obama has left for Hawaii yet. Here's The Hill yesterday:
The president left the White House on Wednesday afternoon to do some Christmas shopping for his family, buying a Wii video game and other items. But he would not say if he would be there to hand-deliver the gifts or not.

Even if there’s no ideal time for a presidential vacation, this one comes at a particularly inopportune moment. For weeks, Obama has insisted that lawmakers stay in town to pass the tax extension. Otherwise, as he said earlier this month, “we can all spend Christmas here together.”

Now, with the payroll tax extension compromise unsettled, and members of Congress already back at home, does Obama up and leave, too? Or will the president be forced to spend the holidays at an empty White House with the Yule Log on TV, listening to Elvis Presley’s “Blue Christmas”?
Poor Obama! He's so lonely. And the press is even revealing what presents he bought.

Madison settles for $10,000 to the men who openly wore guns in at a Culver's.

The incident — in which the "Culver's Five" were arrested — occurred back in 2010 when concealed carry was still illegal, but open carry was not. The charges for "obstructing justice" were dropped and the men filed a lawsuit, which is now dropped.

Culver's, in case you don't know, is this:



Did you notice?

Onward, into the light... to summer.

Too many wolves...

... in Wisconsin.

Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin.

Not quite Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher... but still....

Scribble specialists.

The job that is figuring out terrible handwriting. `

December 21, 2011

At the Dough Shack...

... in West Lafayette, Indiana, at dawn, today. A closer look reveals the text...

"At this stage, Republicans would do best to cut their losses and find a way to extend the payroll holiday quickly."

Says the very nervous Wall Street Journal:
Then go home and return in January with a united House-Senate strategy that forces Democrats to make specific policy choices that highlight the differences between the parties on spending, taxes and regulation. Wisconsin freshman Senator Ron Johnson has been floating a useful agenda for such a strategy. The alternative is more chaotic retreat and the return of all-Democratic rule.

How about...

... an iPod nano with the watchband that lets you wear it as a watch?

Or buy whatever you like from Amazon.

And, to state the obvious, an Amazon gift card is a really easy gift.

"From our family to yours, blessings of the season."

Fighting the recall with all-out blandness, it's Scott Walker.

"That dad gorilla is awesome."

"I've done exactly what he's doing on a million walks."
1) OK, we can stop and look at this thing.
2) *touch child lightly* Let's move on?
3) *sits down for the long haul*
4) *finally gets up and moves on to drag children in wake*

"The 50 Best Political Quotes For 2011."

According to Right Wing News. Hey, #47 is from me.

$250,000 in government subsidy for every Volt sold.



A clothes store in West Lafayette, Indiana, photographed this morning at 7.

If a public school does a seasonal, multicultural concert with songs like "Feliz Navidad" and "Hava Nagila"...

... can it remove the song "Raghupati Ragava Raja Ram" — which refers to the Hindu gods Sita and Rama and contains the line "God or Allah is your name" — after various parents complain?

If you think it's unconstitutional, is it a violation of free speech, freedom of religion, or the Establishment Clause?

"We gave Saddam a fair trial, and we will give Hashemi a fair trial too."

Assurances to the Kurds, who are urged to hand over Tariq al-Hashemi, Iraq's VP, a Sunni Muslim, accused of terrorism. The President of Iraq is Shiite, and the U.S. pulled its military out of the country a few days ago.

"You cannot change the country unless you are interesting and attract attention."

"And to do that, you have to have a group."

What Nixon told Newt, who proceeded to form the Conservative Opportunity Society.

"[D]uring the 1980s, the North Korean government embarked on a policy of radical self-sufficiency known as juche."

"Farmers were expected to overcome mother nature and grow enough crops to feed the entire population. To do it, they relied on heaps of chemical fertilizer. But that crutch was yanked away in 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed."

"How Kim Jong Il Starved North Korea."

"Romney leads Obama."

"For the first time in PPP's monthly national polling since July 2010 Mitt Romney's taken a lead, albeit a small one, over Barack Obama."
He's up 47-45.

Romney has two main things going for him. He leads the President 45-36 with independents. And he's also benefiting from a much more unified party with 88% of Republicans committed to voting for him while only 83% of Democrats say they'll vote for Obama.
So much for the meme "anybody but Romney" is the choice of the Republican Party. But Romney has, I think, gotten the message that Republicans want a real conservative. Isn't it good for the Republicans that Romney has gotten that message, while voters in the middle have gotten the message that Romney is moderate?

December 20, 2011

"Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul is in a bid to make history in Iowa."

"Can he become the first marginal, conspiracy-minded congressman with an embarrassing catalog of racist material published under his name to win the caucuses?"

The National Review's Rich Lowry goes hardcore.

The "Lie of the Year" isn't a lie!

Translation: The "Lie of the Year" came from Democrats.

At the Still-Green Café...

... you've got plenty of time, to hang out here and talk.

And while you're at it, if you've got any shopping to do, please send me some Christmas love by using the Althouse portal to Amazon.

Madison school board votes down charter school designed to lift up poor minority kids.

It was a terrible clash between Madison interests: unionists against those who wanted to find innovative ways to serve the interests of the most downtrodden members of society.

Urban League of Greater Madison President Kaleem Caire immediately announced that he would sue the board for racial discrimination: "We are going to challenge this school district like they’ve never been challenged before, I swear to God."

From the comments at the link:
This was never about Unions. Mr. Caire's tea party pals play the union card because they understand how divisive and powerful it can be.

This was an attempt by the Urban League to create a private school with public money. Their attempt has failed. That Mr. Caire is now apparently going to sue (and further drain resources that could be used to close the achievement gap), reinforces the assertion that the real objective is to put public money into private pockets.

Mr. Caire is behaving like a professional victim.
When liberals attack liberals! What to look for: 1. They'll call each other conservatives. 2. Race card. 3. Lawsuit!

ADDED: If you leverage your proposal on race — thinking that's a great way to get Madison liberals to give you what you want — when they vote it down, do you get to cry race discrimination? Seems to me, that's counting race twice. Or... to put it another way... it's arguing that affirmative action is not merely permitted, but required.

I think Caire should show his good faith by withdrawing the race card and declining to sue. He lost a political fight. The place to fight a political fight is in the political arena. You're competing for taxpayer money, so prove your commitment to not wasting taxpayer money by not draining it through litigation. Caire should focus on the next election. Try to put people who support the charter school on the school board.

"God Bless the Whole World"... "Love > Fear"...

... "Don't Fuck With Wisconsin."


"I like to play chess. I moved to a small town and nobody played chess there..."

"... but one guy challenged me to checkers. I always thought it was kind of a simple game, but I accepted. And he beat me nine or ten games in a row. That’s sort of like living in a small town. It’s a simple game, but it’s played at a higher level."

Quoted here. Worth contemplating. Seems like a metaphor for all kinds of things.

I like to write scholarly dissertations. I moved to the internet and nobody wrote scholarly dissertations there, but one blogger fisked one of my paragraphs. I always thought blogging was kind of a simple game, but I started a blog to defend myself. And that blogger shredded my first nine or ten posts. That’s sort of like living on the internet. It’s a simple game, but it’s played at a higher level.

10 things wrong with the Freedom From Religion Foundation's atheist nativity scene.

(Here's my video showing the details of the creche, which is on the first floor of the Wisconsin Capitol, near some other holiday displays. You should watch the video to understand this list.)

1. Of the many figures in the display, only one is naked, ans it is a woman. This is the "clothed male, naked female" fantasy — promoted, presumably unwittingly.

2. The naked woman is Venus (the famous Botticelli Venus), and Venus is a goddess, a supernatural religious character, and therefore inconsistent with the overall theme of the display, which is that there is only the natural world and it's all we need.

3. The baby in the manger is huge in relation to the Venus figure, who is ostensibly the mother, so that is some scary cephalopelvic disproproportion, and yet naked Venus shows no signs of the C-section she would have needed to avoid death, unless we're to assume that baby got out of her body in some miraculous way, which is inconsistent with the theme of the display.

4. Atheism is promoted through a set of quotes from prominent figures — Thomas Jefferson, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Emma Goldman, and Mark Twain — in other words, by reference to the revered words of authority figures, which is the same method of arriving at beliefs used by religionists — whom we're invited to disrespect for thinking like that.

5. A sign says "may reason prevail" and ends: "Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds," which is not even a remotely credible belief, because it is falsified by every example of a person who is moved to altruism and charity by religion. Reason doesn't prevail on the very sign that says "may reason prevail."

6. In 2 places, the display invokes the solstice as an occasion for contemplating the natural world as the totality of what is. We're told it's "the reason for the season." Reason is a buzz word for these atheists, but what reason is there for a reason-fixated atheist to pay any special attention to the solstice? It seems they've gotten their atheism mixed up with paganism, which betrays the religious component of their thought structure.

7. There's a sign saying "Thou shalt not steal" — a quote from God, as reported in the Bible.

8. Right behind the "Thou shalt not steal" sign, there's an array of brochures titled "About FFR's Natural Nativity," which I think they want you to take, but I didn't take one because of the intimidating God quote about stealing.

9. There's a sign that says "Heathen's Greetings," but "heathen" is a religious designation. "Heathenism" is Germanic neopaganism.

10. Unless only one heathen is greeting us, they've got the apostrophe in the wrong place in "Heathen's."

Not speaking (Kim Jong) ill of the dead.

"Smart and ruthless."/"Diplomats who dealt with him describe Kim as shrewd and calculating."/"In a demented sort of way, brilliant."/"Tactically brilliant."/"A very cunning person and very smart person."/"Was profoundly important around the world. I actually met him when I traveled there with Madeleine Albright."

A media montage put together chez Rush Limbaugh, who comments:
Bush was the devil. George W. Bush was stupid, and he was the devil. He was the devil incarnate and Kim Jong-il, now Kim Jong-dead, very cunning, very smart person, profoundly important around the world. "I actually met him when I traveled there with Madeleine Albright." Speaking of Madeleine Albright, here she is, a montage of her on Kim Jong-il, now Kim Jong-dead, between 2003-2006.

ALBRIGHT: He said that he would really have loved to have been a movie director. He knew a lot about American movies and had suggestions for Oscar nominations and, you know, he also liked American sports, he liked Michael Jordan. It was possible to talk with him. He's not a nut. I think that's the main kind of point. I think that it's important actually not to make fun. He wanted me to e-mail with him. I think the thing that's interesting, Larry, is I do not believe that he's crazy. I know a lot of people have said that. I don't think so.

RUSH: It's a montage of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright talking about Kim Jong-il, now Kim Jong-dead. He was a murdering tyrant. His people are among the poorest in the world and he's spoken of here in reverent terms. The best thing he had going for him, as far as these people are concerned, was he's not a Republican, he wasn't a conservative. Hitler and Stalin both loved American movies, too. This guy loved Michael Jordan. Wow, there's really a lot to recommend him. Bachmann and Perry are stupid. Kim Jong-il, not a nut, it would be a mistake to say that he's a nut.

December 19, 2011

The atheist creche in the Wisconsin Capitol rotunda.

We checked out the Christmas displays today...

A few special, edible/drinkable gift ideas.





Althouse's favorite crackers.

Jelly beans.


Truffle & salt.

Fever Tree ginger beer.

"But why would anyone — much less a law professor — leave a comment like that up on her blog..."

"To prove that she’s not a wimpy feminist? Got that right, sister!"

If sisterhood were powerful, sister, you might have pointed out that comment to me and asked me if I would delete it, and maybe waited to see if I would take it down — or if I would not, why I would not — before writing a blog post in the Chronicle of Higher Education insulting me for things people have written in my comments that you don't even know whether I've read, which, in fact, I had not.

But I take down things like that when I find out about them, and now that I've taken it down, it can only be read in your blog post.


Turkeys and Jesus.

11 minutes of walking and driving, with Althouse and Meade... and turkeys and Jesus.

My Dinner with Bill Ayers.

A coming attraction, by Tucker Carlson.

Real crying or fake crying?

What to make of these vast public displays of grief in North Korea over the death of Kim Jong-Il?

Real or fake?
Fake. They're just doing what they're forced to do.
Real. They're doing what they've been conditioned to do.
This culture is so far gone that real and fake are basically the same thing.
This culture is so alien to us that out of humility we should not judge. free polls 

"He portrayed the Irish as drunken apes, and the image still remains today."

The New Jersey Ancient Order of Hibernians opposes inclusion of Thomas Nast — the great 19th century political cartoonist — in the New Jersey Hall of Fame.
Nast—whose drawings gave rise to Uncle Sam, Santa Claus and the elephant and donkey that symbolize the American political parties—was critical of the Irish as supporters of Tammany Hall. He pilloried the Vatican for trying to recruit children from public schools into parochial institutions....

Nast was an abolitionist who supported equal treatment for blacks and Asians. The anti-Irish tenure of his cartoons was a product of the times...
Here's Nast's "Uncle Same's Thanksgiving Dinner" in which Uncle Sam and Columbia serve murdered bird to a bunch of racial and ethnic stereotypes:

(Enlarge to see the outrageous details.)

"Top Ten Peacemakers in the Science-Religion Wars."

The 2011 list, assembled by Paul Wallace at Religion Dispatches.

John Stewart is #8, for mocking the American Atheists who sued about the 9/11 cross.

Lots more at the link. #1 is Terence Malick for the movie "The Tree of Life":
It is indeed a strange and beautiful world. Malick, in his graceful and courageous film, reminds us that it is made stranger and more beautiful the more we open ourselves to it.

Both the closed-hearted scientism of atheist hardliners and the narrow creationism of religious fundamentalists kill our strange and beautiful world by flattening it beyond repair.

The problem with relying on private charity.

Criticize government spending all you want, but the right-wing preference for private citizens making decisions about where to make their altruistic expenditures has never impressed me. It's stuff like this. Of all the problems to throw $4.5 million at, this guy chooses panda fucking. Look. Deal with it. The pandas have lost the will to live. Yes, they look cute to us, because we mistake the black fur around their eyes for huge eyes. But from the inside, it's grim. They don't want babies. Don't force it on them. Keep your charitable hands off my panda body. The pandas have said no. What part of panda no don't you understand?

1% of the population of Wisconsin applies for a concealed carry permit.

In less than 6 weeks.

Was North Korea modeled on "1984"?

Christopher Hitchens speculates:

(Via Jaltcoh.)

If there is a heaven...

... Christopher Hitchens gets in.

ADDED: You may remember the religion I proposed.

Today's big deals...

... at Amazon.

Do you worry about an electromagnetic pulse attack?

Gingrich does.
"Such an event would destroy our complex, delicate high tech digital society in an instant and throw all our lives back to an existence equal to that of the Middle Ages," he wrote in an introduction to "One Second After," a 2009 science-fiction novel by William Forstchen. He has returned to this theme during the campaign.

The usual media suspects have recently run skeptical stories on his "doomsday vision" and "silly science." They claim that terrorists aren't close to getting a nuclear weapon and that no country would dare try an EMP attack. But then few imagined a terror attack using airplanes against the twin towers or anthrax in letters.

Iowa professor expatiates on why Iowa's not fit to play such a big part in deciding who gets to be President.

Here's Stephen Bloom's long article in The Atlantic. It's clever and funny.

And now here come the earnest, humorless boosters of the state, such as University of Iowa president Sally Mason: "As president of the University, I have the opportunity to travel far and wide across this great state frequently, and the Iowa I see is one of strong, hard-working and creative people."

And as I have the opportunity to read far and wide across the blatherings of Iowans reacting to Bloom frequently, the Iowa I see is one of earnest, boring people.

"Which Christmas carol lyric depicts your life?"

A pop quiz:
a. “Bring me flesh and bring me wine, bring me pine logs hither.”

b. “BlackBerry on our hip and then it gave a little flicker. . . . Came to realize my homie Bieber hit me on the Twitter. Then I hit him back despite I had some food on my finger.”
That quiz (in the NYT) is really just a cute way — assuming the NYT is capable of being cute — for the NYT to tell you it knows about the pop recording "Drummer Boy," which, it asserts, is "excellent."

Having found the lyric genuinely amusing, I listened to the song and found it immensely annoying. I think I'd managed thus far in life to avoid hearing the voice of Justin Bieber. It's so irritating!... especially when accompanied by constant snare drumming, which is, apparently, regarded as essential, even when layering in rap, for anybody doing a new arrangement of that always awful song "Drummer Boy."

Which reminds me, if you ever feel like giving me a gift, and you think all you've got to give is that drum number you're threatening to perform, realize you are making a mistake. There's also the gift of silence. I'd prefer that. I know baby Jesus reputedly appreciated the gift of drumming — according to that nasty song — but consider the possibility that Jesus was just being nice. I know, politeness is a quality alien to infants, but — come on! — it was Jesus! Put the damned drum away.

What I like about the quiz, though, is that much as I identify with "Bring me flesh and bring me wine," I'm thousands of times more likely to eat while using a high-tech device than in front of a blazing fire.

December 18, 2011

Kim Jong-il... I didn't even know he was ill.

But he died. A stroke has downed the "Dear Leader," at the age of 69.

The death triad of Christopher Hitchens and Vaclav Havel deserved at better third, but... good riddance.

ADDED: "I’d like to think God let Havel and Hitchens pick the third." That's a great way to make sense of the bizarre triad. And I like the unstated assumption that God would especially love that big old atheist Hitchens.

At the Winter Twilight Café...

... walk quietly with us.

"Pop the champagne, '72 Dolphins. Go nuts."

"The Packers' pursuit of perfection is officially over."

The Freedom From Religion Foundation applies for a permit to set up a "slightly blasphemous" solstice display in the Wisconsin Capitol rotunda...

... in response to the nativity scene already set up by Wisconsin Family Action.

Freedom From Religion is cagily referring to a display with "a different type of wise people." I'm not sure where they will get decent looking statuary, but I'm picturing figures of Charles Darwin, Einstein, and — why not? — Christopher Hitchens, gathered around... what?... a microscope and a telescope.

Meade suggests a depiction of a young couple camping out at Occupy Madison, sitting solemnly at a table stacked with brochures about abortion rights. Arriving at the scene, via bicycle, are 3 bearded UW professors.

You've heard of the Anti-Christ. This is the anti-creche. Let's generate some more ideas for what this display might look like.

"Sobriety, wisdom and judgment."

The Des Moines Register endorses Romney.

Free 1-day shipping...

... on lots of items at Amazon.

And thanks to everyone who contributes to the Althouse blog by entering Amazon through my links. It costs you nothing, and yet I really appreciate your generosity.

Meade's mud.

Meade declares that he has arrived at a great new method of making coffee. This isn't how he made it for me, but something he did for himself this morning.

"That's what they call 'mud,'" I say, getting my camera out. As I'm blogging the photographs, he wants to put the instructions his way: "Step 1: Buy the best coffee beans you can afford. Step 2: Grind as fine as possible. Step 3: Put ground coffee in a mug, pour hot water over it, stir. Step 4: Allow 1 minute for grounds to settle — for mud to settle — to the bottom. Step 5: Profit! Enjoy! Salut!"

I'm all excited because mud is a theme here on the blog lately. Writing yesterday about The House of Fallen Timbers, I was thinking  about Henry David Thoreau, who built his cabin in the woods. I dug out an old quote about that, and got quite absorbed in a passing reference to Thoreau's concern with "how to get my living honestly, with freedom left for my proper pursuits." What are these "proper pursuits" that are not getting your living, and how much do you try to make time — to make freedom — for the things that are not living-getting? Do you even think in those terms? Perhaps you see getting your living as your proper pursuit, and it involves no loss of freedom. But then why do you see it that way? If you did not see it that way, what would you see? What would be your proper pursuit if it was not doing your job for the purpose of making a living? Perhaps there is another way to make coffee.

But Meade's mud took me back to the comments on the "Fallen Timbers" post. In the comments over there, Milwaukee said:
Henry David Thoreau is much more impressive if one doesn't learn that his mum wondered [sic] out once a week to collect, and drop off, laundry. But he did give us some things to think about, and I have a few favorite quotes, attributable to him, which I mangle. Specifically, the one about 'want to live, so as when I came to die, find that I had not lived.' and the different drummer thang.
Ah, it hurt me to see him diminished like that, because Thoreau had a big effect on me as a teenager, when I was thinking about how I wanted to live — what my proper pursuit was. There was one quote in particular, not any of the ones Milwaukee mangled. It was something with a distinctive word — mud — which made it easy to Google.  I found it and wrote this in the comments on the "Fallen Timbers" post:
I was assigned to give the "invocation" at my high school graduation, and I based it on a Thoreau quote. Afterwards, some people — including a nun — criticized me for not making a more conventional prayer.

Now, I teach Religion and the Constitution in law school, including the case where the Supreme Court nixed all graduation prayers.

My rights were soooo violated, and I was only trying to share a Thoreau quote that impressed me.

And now I share Thoreau quotes with all the world.

This was the quote:
"Let us settle ourselves, and work and wedge our feet downward through the mud and slush of opinion, and prejudice, and tradition, and delusion, and appearance, that alluvion which covers the globe, through Paris and London, through New York and Boston and Concord, through Church and State, through poetry and philosophy and religion, till we come to a hard bottom and rocks in place, which we can call reality, and say, This is, and no mistake; and then begin, having a point d'appui, below freshet and frost and fire, a place where you might found a wall or a state, or set a lamp-post safely, or perhaps a gauge, not a Nilometer, but a Realometer, that future ages might know how deep a freshet of shams and appearances had gathered from time to time. If you stand right fronting and face to face to a fact, you will see the sun glimmer on both its surfaces, as if it were a cimeter, and feel its sweet edge dividing you through the heart and marrow, and so you will happily conclude your mortal career. Be it life or death, we crave only reality. If we are really dying, let us hear the rattle in our throats and feel cold in the extremities; if we are alive, let us go about our business."
Are you going about your business?


"Life is made up of marble and mud." — Nathaniel Hawthorne

"Roses have thorns, and silver fountains mud... And loathsome canker lives in sweetest bud. " — Shakespeare

"I made all my generals out of mud." — Napoleon Bonaparte

"We sit in the mud... and reach for the stars." — Ivan Turgenev

"I have tried to lift France out of the mud. But she will return to her errors and vomitings. I cannot prevent the French from being French." — Charles de Gaulle

"Let us settle ourselves, and work and wedge our feet downward through the mud and slush of opinion, and prejudice, and tradition, and delusion, and appearance..." — Thoreau

"My own brain is to me the most unaccountable of machinery - always buzzing, humming, soaring roaring, diving, and then buried in mud. And why? What's this passion for?" — Virginia Woolf

"They teach anything in universities today. You can major in mud pies." — Orson Welles

"POLITICIAN, n. An eel in the fundamental mud upon which the superstructure of organized society is reared. When he wriggles he mistakes the agitation of his tail for the trembling of the edifice. As compared with the statesman, he suffers the disadvantage of being alive." — Ambrose Bierce (from "The Devil's Dictionary")

"'As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.' Having said these things, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva.' Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and said to him, 'Go, wash in the pool of Siloam" (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing." — John 9:5-7

"The broad-backed hippopotamus/Rests on his belly in the mud..." — T.S. Eliot

"Truth and love must prevail over lies and hatred."

Vaclav Havel, RIP.
An avowed peacenik whose heroes included rockers like Frank Zappa, he never quite shed his flower-child past and often signed his name with a small heart as a flourish.


Incredibly, this is not the most horrifying elevator story of the last few days.

This is.

ADDED: His face half-burned, a man turns himself into the police, telling a story of revenge for $2,000 debt.

Deadline Hollywood summarizes the movie and TV history of men dressed as women...

On the occasion of the new TV show "Work It" (which we talked about yesterday):
While it may have deeper implications today than it did decades ago, men dressing like women is one of the oldest forms of comedy. It is at the heart of one of the best feature comedies ever made, Some Like It Hot, as well as several other classic comedy films, Tootsie, Mrs. Doubtfire and The Birdcage, and it has had a presence on TV, most notably with the 1980 series Bosom Buddies starring Tom Hanks, and Saturday Night Live where male cast members regularly impersonate female celebrities. And then there is the British school of comedy with Monty Python and Benny Hill. ABC’s president Paul Lee brought up his heritage when explaining his decision to pick up Work It to critics at the summer TCA press tour. “I’m a Brit, it is in my contract that I have to do one cross-dressing show a year,” he said. “I was brought up on Monty Python. What can I do?” As a fellow European who also grew up with Monty Python and Benny Hill, I can actually relate to that...."
I can see the Brit excuse, but it's really awful, if you're going to indulge in argument by listmaking like that, to leave out the most prominent — in more ways than one — cross-dresser in the history of television, the man who was called Mr. Television, Milton Berle.

Here's a great clip of Berle in drag — in a guest spot on Lucille Ball's show.  (If you've only got 2 seconds to spare, click here.)

By the way, what a concentration of comic acting in that 5-minute clip, from everybody involved, including Desi Arnaz, who, if he showed up on TV today, would probably elicit criticism from some dignity-protecting group that doesn't care whether or not comedy has room to breathe.