January 21, 2012

Urban Dictionary Word of the Day: Congressional Review.

"To loosely read or breeze through a document, likely missing a fair amount of the information contained within."
How tough will the upgrade be?
I'm not too sure, I only gave the guide a Congressional Review.

Did Gingrich win?

I'm hearing reports that he's the projected winner (in South Carolina), but it looks even with 1% reporting.

ADDED: The link above goes to CNN. Here's Wapo.

MORE SHOCKING NEWS: Heidi Klum and Seal are getting divorced! 

AND: I know, I know. Exit polls. But remember exit polls in 2004? Here's what I wrote that strange November evening:
Yes, I care a lot about the outcome of the election, and I'm sitting here waiting for the news to come in, sampling the dribbled out exit polls, and fretting. But at the same time, I feel complete assurance that as soon as the outcome is known, I'll fully accept it. Either man will make a decent enough President. I think Bush deserves to continue in office, but if it is to be Kerry, Kerry can handle the job too.... It is equanimity that flows through me. Time for a nice glass of win, a plate of pasta with Bolognese sauce, and a calm absorption of reality.

UPDATE: "A nice glass of win" -- ah, so hope does live on! Time for a nice glass of wine and toast to hope! A glass to be refilled later, perhaps, in a quenching of sorrow!

ANOTHER UPDATE: 10:53 p.m. Maybe I am going to get that nice glass of win after all. I'm really surprised. I let those exit polls affect me. Then I called up my sister in Florida and ended up talking with her for a long time, just watching the numbers on the TV screen with the sound off, so I wasn't getting any punditizing and wasn't drawing conclusions about much of anything. I got off the phone, and it took a while for me to absorb it, but eventually I got the message that everything was trending toward Bush.
Seal got pissed when Heidi asked him for an open marriage with Newt?

I think Gingrich is going to win in South Carolina.

And then what will happen?

ADDED: Gingrich is doing well because of his performance in the debates. Perhaps if Gingrich is the candidate, Obama won't debate him. Why give him a chance to shine? Here's why. Obama will predict that the majority of Americans will prefer the nice man who is President over the strange and brash man who is attempting to crush him. Think how we felt back in 2000 when this happened:

All Obama will need to do is stand his ground and be the normal person, and Gingrich will look like a jackass. Do not fear the Newt. He is self-limiting. Just like ManBearPig.

Now, picture Mitt Romney and Barack Obama in a debate. Come on, wake up and picture them. Hey! Come on! Look, it will be 2 low-key stammerers lulling you into a deep slumber. But before you drift off, something emotional will happen to you. One man will have made you feel some warmth. You'll care about him. Not you, my readers, the majority of you. But you, the American voters, the majority of you. You will feel something that you won't ever need to subject to a process of rational judgment. You will float on, half-asleep and into your polling place where you will make your mark next to the name Barack Obama.

Prosecutor invokes 5th amendment privilege in the Fast & Furious investigation.

"The chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney's Office in Arizona has cited his Fifth Amendment rights... before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee...."

PETA appeals denial of roadside memorials for cows that died in the wrecks of 2 cattle-hauling trucks.

"The state previously denied the application, saying the [Illinois] Roadside Memorial Act specifies that only relatives who lost loved ones in highway crashes may request memorials."

So, it's not that the dead were not human. It's that nonhuman animals have relatives who are incapable of requesting a memorial. PETA says "the cows suffered and are 'worthy of remembering.'" But Illinois can't be accused of discriminating against nonhuman animals, which seems to be the issue PETA is pushing. Roadside memorials are for relatives who request them, and no relatives of the dead have applied. And let's be sensible, even assuming cattle remember their dead relatives, symbolic displays don't jog their memories.

"Ask me an interesting question... and I'll answer 10-15 every week..."

A simple enough Twitter project, by Yoko Ono.
do you consider the internet to be a nutopian space?
It is one of the nutopian spaces....

I recently watched the film LET IT BE and I wonder why you didn’t smile through the whole thing. You have such a lovely smile.
My smile was erased....

How do you always stay so grounded? So often I find myself floating away from all this.
Look at the steps we take when we walk. Our steps are made of floating and grounding, each time we take the step. So don’t worry. You are grounding and floating, every day, as you walk. You should walk more.
Ha ha. I like Yoko Ono. I was thinking of her today because I was thinking of my habit of thinking up ideas for books, which I don't write. That made me think of Yoko's old book "Grapefruit," which — yes, it is a book — describes projects, things that could be done easily, things that could be done but are too tedious or too hard to do, and things that are completely impossible. The descriptions are charmingly minimal. I'd quote some, but you'd get the wrong idea. Go over to the link and check some pages out. You can search inside the book. Try, for example, searching for "cloud."

It seems that the real project is stating one imagined project after another. Think of it, then let it go. Imagine all the unwritten books. Have you read them?

Cougar mascot rejected as offensive to women.

It was the students' top choice, but "principal Mary Bailey said carries an ugly connotation that is disrespectful to women."

Mary Bailey? Where have I heard that name before?

"She's an old maid... she never married... she's just about to close up the library."

Judge Posner includes a photograph of Bob Marley in an opinion and sloughs off worries about copyright.

The case was about dreadlocks (and the prison officials who cut them off), and Posner said his use of the photo fit the "fair use" doctrine:
"It's not as if we're selling our opinions in competition with a photographer... Using the photo in a judicial opinion couldn't conceivably be hurting the copyright holder."
Posner did not give the photographer credit, though it's a commercial photographer who uses Getty Images to collect fees. But Posner just grabbed the photo from the internet. He says "With the Internet, it's extraordinarily easy to find photographs of anything," so there's a good chance he encountered the photograph on a website that didn't name the photographer.

Posner seems to think it's quite fun to toss photographs into judicial opinions. It reminds me of the way some judges like to quote song lyrics or lines from movies. Blogging, I always feel that it's more questionable to use an image that someone else created than it is to cut and paste a block of text, but why should that be? I quote blocks of text all the time, but I remember, when I started blogging, worrying quite a bit about whether it was acceptable to copy that much text, so I'm relieved to hear a judge take a broad view of fair use and set an example.

Here's an opinion where Posner includes a picture of an ostrich with its head in the sand and a picture of (presumably) a lawyer with his head in the sand as he criticizes a lawyer who failed to cite a case that should have been cited. The lawyer filed a grievance against Posner for funning with him like that. The grievance was dismissed, and Posner offers the classic nonapology "I'm sorry he was upset by it."

There's more going on here than copyright. There's also the idea that judges are supposed to be neutral and sober. They wield power against real individuals, and it's a power that's supposed to come solely from law, not from any will of the judge's own. In that light, when the judge displays that he's enjoying the experience or playing to the crowd, entertaining the audience, we may fear that he's doing something wrong. This is why most judicial opinions are so godawful tedious, as the judges all sound alike and phrase everything in the dullest possible way. And there are no pictures!

This reminds me. We lawprofs have to make students read these texts, and we use casebooks that have edited the tediously verbose writings down, but the casebooks are still ponderous — in more ways that one. I'd like to take iBooks Author — an amusing new app — throw all the cases I assign into it. (All the judicial opinions are in the public domain, so there's no copyright issue at all.) Edit the cases down, summarize some things, and embed some pictures in a Posneresque way.

For example, take Griswold v. Connecticut (the old birth control case that flummoxed Mitt Romney in the debate the other day). There's a point in Justice Harlan's concurring opinion where he writes:
The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment stands, in my opinion, on its own bottom.
That's just begging for a photograph grabbed from the internet.

Should Althouse use iBooks Author to write a Posneresquely amusing Constitutional Law casebook?
No. It would be undignified and unserious and thus not usable in a real law school class.
Yes. Students (and other readers) will love it.
No. It won't be that good. It might be annoying. And Althouse has better things to spend time on.
Yes. I'd like to see Althouse's creative energy drained away in this idiotic project.

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IN THE COMMENTS: Freeman Hunt said:
Posner is The Crack Emcee of judicial opinions?

January 20, 2012

Recall cam.

High drama, in Wisconsin.

Lukewarm comedy.

"Occupy the Courts" protests hit the U.S. Supreme Court building and other federal courthouses today.

Why pick on the courts? The protesters wanted to express the opinion that Citizens United was decided the wrong way. As if it's admirable for courts to decide cases the way protesting throngs want them decided!

The protesters say they'd like a constitutional amendment. Cut back on the First Amendment? I remember a few years ago when there was a clamor to cut back the First Amendment to protect the flag which the Supreme Court said people had a free-speech right to desecrate. It turned out to be an embarrassment for everyone who didn't revere the Bill of Rights.
Asked if a constitutional amendment is a realistic goal, Joan Stallard, a demonstrator from D.C., said, “The constitution has been amended 27 times, and we can do it again.” She said more and more of the public is beginning to understand “the power of corporations in our political system” and will be receptive to a constitutional chance.
Yeah, but we never cut back the First Amendment.

"Senate Delays Vote on Piracy Bill as House Balks, Too."

Okay. But why doesn't that NYT news story have the word "Dodd" in it? This story the NYT put up last night had "Dodd" in it. Have you noticed the role of the former Senator in the SOPA fight? He's kind of a lobbyist (for the movie industry), except that he can't actually be a lobbyist, because it's illegal for a former Senator to lobby Congress in his first 2 years out of office.
Hired as the consummate Washington insider to carry the film industry’s banner on crucial issues like piracy, Mr. Dodd ended up being more coach than player.
He's more of a coach, less of a player, because it's illegal to be a player — if in this ridiculous sports metaphor, a "player" is a lobbyist — so he's less of a player.
He helped devise a strategy that called for his coalition to line up a strong array of legislative sponsors and supporters behind two similar laws — the Stop Online Piracy Act in the House, and the Protect I.P. Act in the Senate — and then to move them through the Congress quickly before possible opposition from tech companies could coalesce.
Oh, my! Isn't that elegantly phrased! It's nice to be nice to Mr. Dodd — who plotted behind the scenes to ram this thing through Congress before it was noticed by "tech companies" — i.e., all the ordinary people who like to use the internet.
But slow pacing gave the Internet and free speech advocates time to wake up and mobilize, turning what might have been a relatively simple exercise for Mr. Dodd and his allies into a bitter struggle.
His plot failed, but it should have been easy for the consummate insider, don't-call-him-a-lobbyist, Mr. Dodd.
The delays violated a cardinal rule among professional lobbyists, who generally believe the worst enemy of a proposed law is the legislative clock.
Oh, those damned delays, foiling the plots of consummate insiders, violating the rules of professional lobbyists, of which Mr. Dodd is not one, because that would be illegal.

Why are textbook publishers going along with the transition to ebooks?

Because students won't be able to buy used textbooks anymore.

Why are the schools going along? Presumably, the price to students will be kept reasonably low, at least enough to make up for the lack of cheap used books. Since the publishers (and authors) don't make money on resold used books, that's a new income stream to them, and they ought to respond by making the new copies cheaper.

(By the way, I've downloaded the new iBooks Author app and have started throwing together an experimental project to see how things flow. It seems pretty intuitive so far. I like the way you can easily toss in photos. If it works, the idea is to upload it to iTunes, and perhaps charge some piddling amount for it.)

The Gingrich grandiosity.

Mitt Romney just put out this press release — a compendium of Newt Gingrich's "grandiose thoughts" over the years. It's pretty amusing, e.g., "I Have An Enormous Personal Ambition. I Want To Shift The Entire Planet. And I’m Doing It. … I Represent Real Power."

The occasion for the press release is, no doubt, the discussion of grandiosity at last night's debate. Rick Santorum started it. The moderator, John King, had just pointed out that Gingrich has been saying there should be only one conservative in the race now to face off against the seemingly inevitable Romney nomination, and it should be Gingrich, because Santorum doesn't have "any of the knowledge for how to do something on this scale."

Santorum said:
Grandiosity has never been a problem with Newt Gingrich. He -- he handles it very, very well. (Cheers, applause.) And that's really one of the issues here, folks....
With Gingrich, Santorum said, you've always got to worry "that something's going to pop." Meanwhile, Santorum — by his own assurances — is a "steady... solid" guy.

King then turned to Gingrich and asked what he meant by "the knowledge for how to do something on this scale." Gingrich laid out his past accomplishments and finally came around to the "grandiosity" accusation:
You're right: I think grandiose thoughts. This is a grandiose country of big people doing big things, and we need leadership prepared to take on big projects. (Cheers, applause.)
That was an elegant rejoinder (and a warning to those of us who want a break from the federal government doing "big things"). Santorum spoke next, giving Gingrich "his due on grandiose ideas and grandiose projects" but faulting him on execution, the reason why "he was thrown out by the conservatives."

Romney then raised his hand to come into the conversation, and he went into a pretty babbly sequence of words that included:
If we want people who spent their life and their career -- most of their career in Washington, we have three people on the stage who've -- well, I take that back. We got a doctor down here who spent most of his time in the -- in the surgical suite -- well, not surgery -- the birthing suite.
Now you asked me a(n) entirely different question. What do you -- what's -- (laughter) --
He looks over to Gingrich for help, and Gingrich is all "Beats me. I don't know. Where are we at, John?" Romney struggles to find a track:
Let's -- let's -- let me -- let me say -- let me say one -- one of the things I find amusing is listening -- is listening to how -- how much credit is taken in Washington for what goes on on Main Street. I -- I mean, Mr. Speaker, it was -- it was -- you talk about all the things you did with Ronald Reagan and -- and -- and the Reagan revolution and the jobs created during the Reagan years and so forth. I mean, I looked at the Reagan diary. You're mentioned once in Ronald Reagan's diary. And it's -- and in the diary, he says you had an idea in a meeting of -- of young congressmen, and it wasn't a very good idea, and he dismissed it. That -- that's the entire mention. And -- I mean, he mentions George Bush a hundred times. He even mentions my dad once.
Dad! Help!

But anyway... Gingrich was grandiose, and Mitt put out a press release to enumerate lots of things that he didn't have in his head to spew out at the right point in the debate last night.

Should we be outraged at how little Mitt Romney (like Warren Buffet) pays in taxes?

The Wall Street Journal notes that Romney (like Warren Buffet) makes his money from investments, so the income he receives has already been taxed "at the corporate tax rate of 35%." The 15% tax he pays sounds unfairly low, compared to the tax rate on wages and salaries, but it's not low at all if you see it as a second tax.
All income from businesses is eventually passed through to the owners, so to ignore business taxes creates a statistical illusion that makes it appear that the rich pay less than they really do. By this logic, if the corporate tax rate were raised to, say, 60% from today's 35% and the dividend and capital gains tax were cut to zero, it would appear that business owners were getting away with paying no federal tax at all.

This all-too-conveniently confuses the incidence of a tax with the burden of a tax. The marginal tax rate on every additional dollar of capital gains and dividend income from corporate profits can reach as high as 44.75% at the federal level (assuming a company pays the 35% top corporate rate), not 15%....

[T]he average effective tax rate on the richest 1% is already twice as high as that of the middle class.
But Romney needs to be able to explain this persuasively to the American people. He needs to be able to explain this while his opponents are gleefully screeching "15%!" It's a good test of his ability to be persuasive, as a good candidate must be. So step up and take the test, Mitt!

"You're a Supreme Court Justice. I'm not. That gives you the right to judge things. That's very convenient."

Stephen Colbert interviews Justice Stevens:

Did you see the story about the architecture professor whose extravagantly architectonic house caught on fire?

It's in the Daily News:
Shortly before noon on Tuesday, firefighters received a report that the waterfront home of 76-year-old Gamal El-Zoghby was ablaze. They doused the flames, and were checking for hidden pockets of flame behind the walls by pulling down panels of sheet rock, when [a 'magazine from the 1970s with pornographic images of pre-pubescent girls'] fell from behind one of the panels....
El-Zoghby, who teaches "Judgment and Criticism of Architectural Expressions" at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, has been charged with child endangerment and put on leave of absence from his work. One magazine, stuck behind the wall, of the house that he built following the "principles of astronomy, mathematics, philosophy" with windows "positioned to capture the sunrise and sunset at the spring and autumn equinoxes...."
He named the house "The Parousium" from the Greek word "parousia," meaning "presence or appearance."
Appearances matter. The story, as presented in the Daily News, looks awful for the aging professor. Perhaps the "magazine from the 1970s" was some kind of art journal. Were the "images" even photographs? Perhaps they were drawings or paintings.


Parousia is a term used importantly in the New Testament:
The word is used 24 times in the New Testament. Of these, 6 uses refer to the coming of individuals... The other 17 times refer 16 times to the Second Coming of Christ, and in one case to the coming of the "Day of God" (2Pe.3:12, see also The Day of the Lord).
Matthew 24:27:
For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
And so you orient your house toward the sunlight... and the light that catches you unawares is a fire.

Unawares means "without design."  Without design, in the overdesigned house of the design professor.

"The moral fiber in America is dwindling away... It's pajamas today; what is it going to be tomorrow? Walking around in your underwear?"

So said a school official in Shreveport Louisiana, fretting about the loungewear trend among young teenage girls.

I love the logic. It takes me back to 1965, when I was in 8th grade, and I got sent to the vice principal's office for wearing miniskirts. In an effort to reason with me, he said: What will it be next? Girls coming to school in bikinis? That made zero sense to me. It came out of his imagination. I was into being fashionable, and we girls were required to wear skirts in those days. I wanted the skirt to be trendy. If I were about breaking rules I would have worn jeans. I wouldn't have leaped to wearing a bathing suit!

In a similar vein, the girls today who wear pajama and sweat pants to school aren't on a path toward underwear. They've got to wear something and they've found clothes that are extremely comfy and also on trend. It wouldn't be comfortable to show up in nothing below the waist but panties. That's a picture in the mind of the school official. Get that picture out of your head. You're working with children!

January 19, 2012

Why is Sarah Palin calling people "dumb arses"?

"Newt Gingrich’s ex-wife is getting ready to reveal all, again — she has already done that, it seems, like a few times.... The liberal media... and some of that GOP holier-than-thou machine overplayed their hand this time... I call them ‘dumb arses...."

Is she like Madonna, gone British all of a sudden?

"If we can do public water fountains..."

"... why can't we do public ChapStick stations?"

"(I'm picturing a 2 ft. log of ChapStick, that any citizen could walk up and rub their face against.)"

In Wisconsin, we call drinking fountains "bubblers," so I guess that would be a rubbler.

There will be a lot less autism...

... now that the experts are redefining autism to include less.
At a time when school budgets for special education are stretched, the new diagnosis could herald more pitched battles. Tens of thousands of people receive state-backed services to help offset the disorders’ disabling effects, which include sometimes severe learning and social problems, and the diagnosis is in many ways central to their lives. Close networks of parents have bonded over common experiences with children; and the children, too, may grow to find a sense of their own identity in their struggle with the disorder.
Is the controversy really about how much money the government must spend? Or is it really about helping people with their feelings about their children? Or... I know this seems really weird... could it be... I'm afraid to say it!... could it be that there really is a specific disease and scientists want to be rigorously scientific about what the disease is?

Debate tonight, at 8 Eastern Time... and it's an important one.

Perry's out, which means there are only 4 candidates left, and — have you noticed? — only one candidate with experience as a state governor. Plus, there's all the new dirt on Newt, who just got endorsed by Perry, and semi-endorsed by Palin, and we just found out Santorum won in Iowa. It should be great fun. Hang out here.

1. Gingrich floats out, blimp-like. Santorum looks loose and happy. Citadel kids sing the national anthem beautifully. Santorum and Romney sing along, but Paul and Gingrich do not.

2. Intros: Rick Santorum thanks the people of Iowa. Mitt Romney tells us about his family, "the joy of my life." Gingrich notes he's a Georgian, "at home in the South." Ron Paul says he's "the only U.S. veteran on the stage tonight."

3. Sad-face Newt is asked about the Marianne interview and "open marriage." Newt's "appalled that [John King] would begin a debate on a topic like that." We all "know personal pain." To bring up this subject is "despicable." He's "astounded" that CNN would begin a debate with "trash like that." And don't try to blame ABC. "I am tired of the elite media protecting Barack Obama by attacking Republicans."

4. Do the others think Gingrich's past personal failings are an issue? Santorum believes in forgiveness, both from a religious and an American political perspective. Romney: "John, let's get on to the real issues. That's all I've got to say." Paul is proud that his "wife of 54 years is with me tonight."

5. Romney is going to defend capitalism. And: "We're going to stuff it down [Obama's] throat."

6. (My son John is live-blogging here.) Much attention to the subject of returning veterans.

7. If we repeal Obamacare, what happens to the people with pre-existing conditions and young people who are able to be on their parents' insurance to the age of 26? The important thing is to get rid of Obamacare, Romney says, but "we'll make it work" — through markets. Gingrich says the way to help young people is through jobs. Santorum says Romney and Gingrich don't "present the clear contrast" to Obamacare (because of their health-care activities in the past — "playing footsies with the left").

8. Romney contrasts Romneycare to Obamacare and takes credit for having shown he cares. He Romneycares. Santorum lights into him. "You don't draw a distinction that's going to be effective for us."

9. Gingrich says: "I was wrong and I figured it out. You were wrong and you didn't." Santorum's all: It took you 12 years. Not good enough!

10. Ron Paul — he's the doctor — wants to talk about the larger issue government involvement in  medicine, which even Santorum has supported. All the programs will go bankrupt, he says.

11. Santorum "Newt's a friend. I love him. But at times, you've just got sort of that worrisome moment that something's gonna pop and we can't afford that in a nominee. We need someone... I'm not the most flamboyant" — hmmm — "and I don't get the biggest applause lines here, but I'm steady, I'm solid, I'm not going to go out and do things that you're going to worry about." Meade says "It sounds like he's trying to talk his dad into giving him the keys to the car."

12. I say: "Santorum's on fire." Then: "He is flamboyant."

13. Santorum plays the "I was there card" against Newt. In Congress, Gingrich "was thrown out by the conservatives... I knew what the problems were. It was an idea a minute. No discipline. No ability to be able to pull things together." Santorum takes credit for "blowing the lid" off a scandal that Gingrich knew about and did nothing about for 12 years.

14. Gingrich defends himself, which sets up a careful statement by Romney about how we need someone who hasn't spent most of his career in Congress. Romney professes amusement at the way Gingrich takes credit for so much that happened during the Reagan administration, but Reagan's autobiography only mentions Gingrich once.

15. Lots of talk about releasing tax records. Romney does a much better job of talking about the subject than he did at the last debate. His best point: He's not ashamed of his success in business.

16. A question about SOPA. Gingrich: "You're asking a conservative about the economic interests of Hollywood." Let the copyright holders pursue their own remedies. Romney: "The law as written is far too... threatening to freedom of speech." It would have a depressing effect on the internet. "I'm standing for freedom." Ron Paul: "I was the first Republican... to oppose this law." Santorum opposes the law but thinks the rights of copyright holders should be protected, and the government does have a role. "I'm for free [sic] but... property rights should be respected."

17. If you had your campaign to do over, what would you do differently? Gingrich would throw out all the "regular consultants" and forget about trying to figure out how to be a "normal candidate." He'd go straight for his big ideas and he'd use the internet to get them out. Romney would work harder to get 25 more votes in Iowa "that's for sure." More seriously, he'd have spent less time talking about other Republicans and more talking about Barack Obama. Santorum wouldn't change a thing. He's amazed at his own success, which was "an affirmation to me of the great process we have." Ron Paul would speak "a little slower" and improve his message delivery.

If you watched tonight's debate... who won?

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Lefty bloggers irked that SOPA activism is moving Republicans and not Democrats in Congress.

David Dayen at Firedoglake:
The problematic figures here are the institutional Congressional Democrats, the ones who don’t have an election coming up, or whose seats are safe, who simply welcome the campaign checks, mostly from the entertainment industry, and the power and influence that goes along with them....
The Tea Party, Dayen says, has "struck fear" into the Republican Party, but the Democrats don't respond to their grassroots because "the progressive movement inspires laughter." Quoting Kos:
You have an entire wired generation focused on this issue like a laser, fighting like hell to protect their online freedoms, and it’s FUCKING REPUBLICANS who are playing the heroes by dropping support?

Those goddam Democrats would rather keep collecting their Hollywood checks....
Fascinating. There's long been this assumption that young people take their political cues from the entertainment industry, but it's pretty obvious that no matter how much they like movies and music, they care more about what they personally do on the internet than the entertainment industry's financial interests.

Urban Dictionary defines "SOPA."

"The shittiest piece of legislation the U.S. government ever came up with."
uhm, whats that internet thing again? is that what all the kiddies are stealing music with? we better fix that...
Or maybe they were thinking: People don't hate Congress enough. What can we do about that?

"Prosecutors Banned From 'Jaw-Jacking' Outside Judge's Chambers."


"Apple has just announced iBooks 2 for the iPad... calling them a 'new textbook experience.'"

"The newly designed books are graphical, interactive, and make use of features like 3D imaging, embedded video, and multitouch gestures. The company seems to be taking cues from several applications which have been available for the iPad such as Frog Dissection and Solar System, both of which Apple called out at the event. They're also beefing up the notetaking functionality of the iPad, and the books will be available for purchase in the iBookstore directly. Apple has also announced that, at least for the titles it's making available today, the price will be $14.99, and it's just announced its first series of publishing partners, which includes Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, McGraw-Hill, and Pearson."

Okay, but how about some law casebooks? I've been lugging those damned things around for 35 years! (I'm complaining, but I've gotten these heavy tomes free for the last 28 years. My students pay 10 times $14.99 for the book I make them buy. And they have to shell out another $30 for the supplement to bring it up to date, which would be a non-issue for an ebook. And I'm talking about books that are mostly the text of court cases, which are in the public domain.)

"Obama Fights Back Against Koch Brothers in New Ad."

NYT headline for an article that includes this embedded ad (which refers to "secretive oil billionaires attacking President Obama"):

And here's the ad — linked in the article — that the Obama as is fighting back against:

What do you think? Did Obama "punch back twice as hard"?

"No, no, that is not a marriage," said Marianne Gingrich.

Was she talking about marriage between a man and another man or a woman and another woman, which, of course, Newt Gingrich excludes from the definition of marriage? No, she was talking about a marriage between a man (Newt) and a woman (her) in which the woman does not have the man all to herself but will share him with another woman (Callista, who accepted the concept of sharing):

video platform video management video solutions video player

ADDED: If the embedded video doesn't work for you, go here.

UPDATE: Just watched the "Frontline" interview. I thought it was nothing (aside from the strange allegations against Marianne having to do with meeting with an arms dealer and asking for $10 million). Basically, it's the same story we always knew. He had an affair, and then they got divorced. I don't really understand her motivation to go on camera to say that. She seems like a very grim and sad woman.

What determines whether Scott Walker's name appears in the Wisconsin State Journal?

Let's draw inferences from these 2 related examples:

1. Scott Walker's name does not appear in today's article "Spectrum Brands to move headquarters to Middleton."
The company, whose brands include Rayovac, Remington and Cutter, said in a news release that it is shelving plans to move its base to Miramar, Fla., home of Russell Hobbs. Spectrum Brands bought the small appliance company in 2010.
2. Scott Walker's name appears in this column about how "anti-government right-wingers" like to say that government "doesn't create jobs."
If the government does not create jobs, then why did Republicans such as Scott Walker and Ron Johnson make job creation pillars of their campaigns for government jobs? Why did the Walker regime throw $4 million at Spectrum Brands... under the guise of job creation or retention?

Protesters chant "Shame! Shame!" after Gov. Walker reads the MLK Day proclamation.

Shame, indeed.

"The Day the LOLcats Died."

Congress has made me afraid to embed this, so I'll just link, which is scary too. Damn them!

(Via No Silence Here, via Instapundit.)

"What is it Gingrich is afraid his wife of 18 years is going to remember incorrectly?"

"And what could be so bad that it would eclipse all that many Christian conservatives have already forgiven and forgotten about his history?"

We already have Marianne Gingrich's 2010 interview with Esquire. WaPo's Melinda Henneberger summarizes them:
1. Newt actually started seeing his geometry teacher, the first Mrs. Newt Gingrich, when he was only 16....

2. Early in their marriage, she had to take over the budget "because it was too stressful for Newt."...

3. ... "You know what he hated most?” Marianne says. “When they talked about him being fat. That weight thing was personal."...

4. That after his Congressional career ended in scandal, he pretty much fell apart: "There were times... when he wasn’t functioning. He started yelling at people, which he’d never done before, and he’d get weirdly ‘overfocused’ on getting things done — manic, as if he was running out of time. He took to taking meetings while eating, slurping his food, as if he wasn’t aware or didn’t care how strange it looked."...

5. That he has lost his way and wants more than anything a lifestyle that’s “opulent” or “self-indulgent.”...

6. That he begged her to “tolerate” his affair with Callista, his third and current wife....

7. That his conversion to Catholicism "has no meaning."...

8. That he might go ahead and run for president anyway, because "he doesn’t connect things like normal people."
I've elided Henneberger's sloughing off of each of these items. She thinks Marianne will have to come up with something new and worse to destroy Newt. But I'm not so sure. Who bothered with the Esquire article back in 2010? The point is to throw this stuff right in our face now, when we're excited about judging Newt. To see the ex-wife's face as she lets this stuff out... it's titillating. We'll pay attention. We'll make clips of the juiciest seconds. The experience of receiving the tidbits will be entirely different. They don't have to be new tidbits to feel vividly new. Picture it.

Now, picture Mitt, a man with a spotless personal life. (And by "spotless," I don't mean to cause you to start thinking about that dog again. The worst thing he's ever done seems to be to have transported and cleaned his dog in a way that he believed was good but was probably not.)

Suddenly, Santorum is the winner of the Iowa caucuses.

Ah! What could have been!

What could have been?

"Every time an NYU Law prof reuses an old exam (to the outrage of students), I have to write an entirely new post..."

"even though the underlying issues of laziness and disregard for student concerns are the same. But if I were employed by NYU, I wouldn’t even have to go through the motions, I could just take the most recent post I wrote decrying the NYU Law faculty doing this, change the dates, and go back to watching the Australian Open on television. Does anybody know if NYU is hiring?"

Blogging is hard work, lawproffing not so much... according to Elie Mystal, who is a blogger and not a law professor. I'm both, though I'm not an NYU professor. I am an NYU Law grad, though, so I have a selfish interest in defending the school. But I won't. I've never reused an exam, by the way. Not in 25+ years of lawproffing. I've never even taken an old exam question and reworked it into a new question.

What's my opinion on the question whether blogging and lawproffing are hard work? The individual has an immense amount of control — of course, I love that — and you can make both enterprises extremely difficult or fairly easy. The range is different though. The easiest approach to law professing is significantly harder than the easiest approach to blogging. There's no upper limit on how hard both can be. The correlation between hard word and quality work, however — as always — is a mystery.

"A professor lost his long legal fight to keep thousands of foreign musical scores, books, and other copyrighted works in the public domain..."

"... when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against him on Wednesday in a case that will affect scholars and artists around the country."
The scholar is Lawrence Golan, a music professor and conductor at the University of Denver. He argued that the U.S. Congress did not have the legal authority to remove works from the public domain. It did so in 1994, when the Congress changed U.S. copyright law to conform with an international copyright agreement. The new law reapplied copyright to millions of works that had long been free for anyone to use without permission.
It's really Congress's fault, but the Court might have saved us from this unpleasant legislative imposition. There were 2 dissenters, 2 of my favorite Supreme Court Justices, Stephen Breyer and Samuel Alito — one liberal and one conservative, which makes 2 seem like more than 2.
"Neither the Copyright and Patent Clause nor the First Amendment, we hold, makes the public domain, in any and all cases, a territory that works may never exit," declared the majority opinion, which was written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

In a dissenting opinion, Justice Stephen G. Breyer, writing for himself and Justice Samuel A. Alito, faulted the Congressional action. "The fact that, by withdrawing material from the public domain, the statute inhibits an important pre-existing flow of information is sufficient, when combined with the other features of the statute that I have discussed, to convince me that the Copyright Clause, interpreted in the light of the First Amendment, does not authorize Congress to enact this statute," he wrote.
The case is Golan v. Holder. Here's the full text.

Rick Perry will say he's dropping out.

He'll say it during before tonight's debate (on CNN), say CNN sources.

He was this year's Fred Thompson — looks good from a distance, but doesn't sound right in the debates.

ADDED: "I believe that Newt is a conservative visionary who can transform our country. We have had our differences, which campaigns will inevitably have. Newt is not perfect, but who among us is?"

January 18, 2012

Are you from Texas?

"I keep getting these Giant fans that keep rubbing it in. That's the worst part."

Scott Walker in New York on "Fox and Friends":

Go back to the beginning if you want to hear him "Friend"ing it up about the recall.

Now that he has a baby girl, Jay-Z will eschew the word "bitch."

Is that enough?

Is it even admirable? If you do something only when you've acquired a self-interest, it seems to me it would be more admirable to continue doing what you were doing before.

AND: Apparently, Jay-Z is taking my advice.

Who will run against Scott Walker in the Wisconsin recall election?

Kathleen Falk says she's running.

Here she is YouTubing her hat into the ring.

Is it possible to do good "back-end moderation" of comments on a high-traffic blog?

At Volokh Conspiracy, Orin Kerr goes on at some length on the subject but ends up saying, in a word: no.

My blog gets about the same amount of traffic as his. (A little more, actually, lately.) And with Meade's help, my blog now goes with "back-end moderation," as discussed here. It was hard to get around the realization that this is the best approach and that it can actually be done. It does involve paying a lot of attention, applying judgment, and remembering who's said what and what you've done about it in the past. This is a behind-the-scenes role, and maybe it's too Meade-specific for other bloggers to use. But it's working for me.

Those people who think Citizens United was wrong because it saw corporations as people with free speech rights...

... what do they think about Google's stand against SOPA? Google is a big old corporation with way too much money and power....

"Suddenly... I stumbled and ended up in one of the lifeboats."

The hilarious pratfalls of the Cowardly Captain of the Costa Concordia.

Obama rejects the Keystone pipeline.

I'm sure that was a very tough call for him. It wasn't so much a question of whether he should make the right decision or do what would help him get re-elected. It was which way to decide would better help him get re-elected.

Only one-third of new partners at big law firms are female.

Does that make you think it's harder or easier to make partner if you enter a big law firm and you are female?
Most people who end up in Biglaw have no desire to make partner. They want to do it for a few years, pay off their debts, and build up some credentials so they can do what they really want to do. But some people show up at the firm so hungry for the brass ring that they can taste it. You know what they say: “Making partner is like winning a pie-eating contest where the prize is more pie.” Yet there isn’t a lot of analysis and study about what one actually has to do to win this career race.
See the point of my question?

"Trying to understand the waterways of America..."

Yesterday, we were driving on I-55 I-270...

IN THE COMMENTS: Scott M says:

"I’m a ’60s, West Coast, liberal, radical, artsy, dyed-in-the-wool 99 percenter before there was such a thing."

Said George Lucas, who has $3.2 billion.

Sorry to link a second time to the same article, but I find George Lucas and the NYT article fawning over him just so hilarious. This I-am-the-99% quote comes in the context of talking about Lucas's girlfriend of 5 years, Mellody Hobson. Lucas is 67. The article declines to tell us how old she is, but a quick Google shows she's 42. Lucas has made a movie about black people and Hobson is black "and a friend of the Obamas’ and Oprah Winfrey’s." Lucas is calling himself a 99 percenter in the context of contrasting himself to her:
“And she’s an East Coast, Princeton grad, Wall Street fund manager, knows all the big players, works in the big world. You would never think that we would get together, have anything in common. But when we did, we realized we had everything in common. It was the most unlikely coupling.”
He doesn't know "big players" and work in the "big world"?!  What delusion!

What delusion? It's the delusion of a ’60s lefty who imagines himself at one with some idea he has of the underclass.

It's interesting that his girlfriend is a buddy with all the Obama people. At the time of the AF1 panic-inducing flyover of Manhattan, it was redtails accompanying the plane. That has never been explained. A lot of people speculated it was related to this film.
Thanks for reminding us of that! Here's a NY Post article from April 27, 2009:
A jumbo jet being chased by a F-16 fighter jets buzzed Lower Manhattan this morning, panicking New Yorkers, many of whom were forced to evacuate their office buildings.

President Obama was in Washington at the time, but the low-flying 747 circling the Statue of Liberty was one of the planes used as Air Force One, sources said...
Here's my post reacting to the official story, which was that the flight was for the purpose of taking an inexplicably crappy photograph.

AND: Remember that 2009 Halloween party at the White House that we just found out about: "George Lucas sent the original Chewbacca to mingle with invited guests."

"The fact that Daley’s appointment did not work out shouldn’t, perhaps, come as a surprise."

"As a millionaire boardroom Democrat, he was out of step with an increasingly populist political climate. And as someone without much personal connection with Obama, his margin of error was likely slim from the very start. In the end, the most interesting question about Daley’s rise and fall probably pertains to President Obama’s management style—namely, why he decided to hire Daley into such a precarious position to begin with."

Paul Starobin, writing in TNR, actually blames Obama a little bit for something. That's surprising! Now, that's the last paragraph of the article, stating "the most interesting question." Who really cares about Daley? Let's get some sharp analysis of "President Obama’s management style." Or is that supposed to be an eternal enigma?

George Lucas is "moving away from the business, from the company, from all this kind of stuff."

He's not going to make movies anymore? It seems to me he bowed out of movie-making a long time ago. But he's back and saying I'm not going to play anymore because movie executives weren't interested in the movie he made. Don't they know who he is?! Don't they care about about black people?! The movie's about the Tuskegee Airmen, and Lucas is acting as if a historically and racially important subject means that the movie is important and as if executives should bow down when a movie is important when there's no reason to think anything other than that they care about whether a whole lot of people want to see a movie and historical and racial importance is not what brings out the big crowds.

Lucas's whining is too funny. It was his "Star Wars" that ended the great movie period of the early 1970s and got the business focused on giant blockbusters. And now he's supposedly going to "to devote the rest of his life to what cineastes in the 1970s used to call personal films. They’ll be small in scope, esoteric in subject and screened mostly in art houses." Well, fine. I look forward to seeing more ironies pile up on top of each other.

Side question: Is the Tuskegee Airmen movie — "Red Tails" — any good?
All preview screenings are wildly optimistic celebrations of the possible. But this was different. This was a rally. “On Jan. 20,” an 89-year-old Tuskegee ace named Roscoe C. Brown Jr., told the crowd, “every African-American in this country ought to go see ‘Red Tails.’ ” Desirée Rogers, who is now C.E.O. of Johnson Publishing Company, said she was splashing “Red Tails” on the cover of Ebony. And Al Sharpton, sounding like a “Star Wars” fanboy in 1977, later insisted that “it’s probably one of the best movies I’ve ever seen!”
In other words, it's medicinal. It's medicine that "every African-American in this country" is supposed to take. The rich white man made it. Buy it!
He slipped into a kind of Socratic conversation with an imaginary studio head.

“I’m making it for black teenagers.”

“And you’re doing it as a throwback movie? You’re not going to do it as a hip, happening-now, music-video kind of movie?”

“No, that’s not a smart thing to do. There’s not really going to be a lot of swearing in it. There’s probably not going to be a huge amount of blood in it. Nobody’s head’s going to get blown off.”

“And you’re going to be very patriotic — you’re making a black movie that’s patriotic?”

“They have a right to have their history just like anybody else does,” Lucas said. “And they have a right to have it kind of Hollywood-ized and aggrandized and made corny and wonderful just like anybody else does. Even if that’s not the fashion right now.”
They have a right to their history... made into a craptastic Hollywood blockbuster? That is, you appropriated black history and absorbed it into the kind of overblown bullshit you made America love? This is all about George Lucas. It's not about rights for black people. It's about you, and if it's awful, it's because you made an awful movie. And you made the movies awful. And now you're going to flounce off and make art movies....

Please just go away.

"If I don't win the primary Saturday, we will probably nominate a moderate... And the odds are fairly high he will lose to Obama."

Newt Gingrich concocts something of an ultimatum.

Should a $13,500 sleep pod be part of the office decor — sending the message that napping is company policy?

"It's jelly-bean shaped..."

(That's not what it looked like to me.)

"Imagine a World Without Free Knowledge."

Wikipedia blacks out.

"Thinking of getting into the leg-breaking business, so I can profitably sell crutches later."

Anthony Bourdain on Paula Deen.

January 17, 2012

What vegans say.

My favorite out of a whole lot of videos I watched after getting sucked into the YouTube genre "Shit [blanks] Say."

"Los Angeles Makes Condom Use Mandatory for Adult Film Actors."

The NYT reports:
“Clearly this is about the government overreaching and intruding into consenting adults’ decisions,” said Diane Duke, the chief executive of the Free Speech Coalition, a trade group for the pornography business. “Our standards and protocols are extremely effective and are working. They are taking something they know nothing about and imposing their morality on our industry.”
Can you make the argument that constitutional rights are violated?

On the day Democrats file 1 million recall signatures, Governor Scott Walker does an interview with Rush Limbaugh.

We're already discussing the filed petitions here, so this post is about the interview. Here's the transcript, which reveals what I think will be Walker's central theme in the recall campaign:
WALKER: People have seen no matter how many attack ads from the big government union bosses, the bottom line is the reforms are working.

RUSH: And so they're living the reforms that you've made, they're actually demonstrable.

WALKER: Yeah, we have a great choice here. We don't even know who the candidate is against us yet other than we know the real opponent will be this money coming in from out of state from these government unions, but in the end it's a real choice. You can go back to the days of double-digit tax increases, billion-dollar budget deficits, and record job loss, because in the three years before I took office Wisconsin lost 150,000 private sector jobs, or we can move forward and ultimately be in a position where we can move the state forward. We've had a net increase of jobs this year. We balanced the budget without tax increases. We did it the old-fashioned way. We made structural changes that think more about the next generation than just about the next election. And we were able to protect core services by making these reforms. That's where I think the majority of people in our state want to go... I think the facts, if given a chance to get out, will ultimately allow us to yet again earn the trust of a majority of people in our state.
Walker is going to argue the facts, the results.

Whiteout at Culver's.

Photo 30

In Rochelle, Illinois. Less than 100 miles from home. Restored by cheeseburgers and onion rings, we soldier on.

UPDATE: We're safe at home in Madison.

"He said he wanted it back, and we will send him one."

He = Obama. It = drone. We = Iran. One = toy version of it.

Democrats say they are filing 1 million signatures on the recall Walker petitions...

... which are due today. With only 540,208 needed, they'll have to find an awful lot of invalid signatures if a recall election is to be averted.
The paper petitions, weighing 1.5 tons, were delivered by truck to the state Government Accountability Board's office two blocks from the Capitol in Madison. The board, which runs state elections, will then take them to a secure state building that will be guarded by Capitol Police until all the petitions are electronically scanned over several days.

Next begins the months-long process of reviewing the petitions. If the accountability board determines enough valid signatures have been filed it will call elections, which may occur in June or later.

At the Austin Café...


... we're not in Austin. We're halfway home to Madison. Greetings from Springfield, Missouri — one of America's many Springfields — where we won't be much longer. It's time to throw our things back in the car and head straight back into winter.

Please use this post to talk about whatever you want. I'll be reading on the iPad in the car.

Taking art school seriously.

"Art School Confidential really sort of characterized the art school of the ’60s... This was a partying, drug-ridden era and it wasn’t considered a serious environment."

I thought there wasn't supposed to be any current controversy over contraception.

That's the approach Mitt Romney took at the January 7th debate when George Stephanopolulos peppered him with questions about Griswold (the old Supreme Court case).

But in fact there is a live controversy. It's not about whether states can ban contraceptives (the issue in Griswold). It's about the Obama administration's rules implementing health insurance requirements:
Should colleges where religious authorities preach against some methods of contraception be required to offer health insurance that covers those contraceptive methods at no cost?...

The rule, which will take effect Aug. 1, exempts religious employers from the requirement to offer health plans that cover contraceptives only if the employers meet specific guidelines. The organization’s purpose must be to inculcate religious values, it must primarily employ and serve people with the same religious beliefs, and it must be considered a nonprofit organization under provisions of the tax code that cover churches and religious orders.

But many religious colleges say the exemption is too narrow: “even Jesus couldn’t live it,” Galligan-Stierle said, because he ministered to people of other faiths.

Facebook gives Politico access to Facebook's private status messages and comments.

But you're not supposed to mind because the process is automated.
[E]very post and comment — both public and private — by a U.S. user that mentions a presidential candidate’s name will be fed through a sentiment analysis tool that spits out anonymized measures of the general U.S. Facebook population.

January 16, 2012

Andrew Sullivan misunderstands why I did not read his "Why Are Obama's Critics So Dumb?" article.

He writes:
I wondered when I wrote this what the reaction would tell me. Just browsing at a few of the right-wing blogs, I see that they have attacked it without actually, you know, reading it. Althouse is a classic example:
I don't even want to read it. It just seems like red meat for Obama fans. And what a cliché! Republicans are stupid.
Half the article is devoted to liberals and Democrats! But it would be too much for her to actually read it.
If you look at my blog post, it's a reaction to the Newsweek cover, beginning with some analysis of the photograph of Obama and continuing to the question that Newsweek framed for the purpose of getting people to buy the magazine. Inside was Sullivan's article, which I did not have time to read. Not that Sullivan could know this, but we had to drive halfway across the country today. Another way of putting that is: I have a life. I can't read everything. Generally, I scan the web in the morning and find some things that feel bloggable to me. Today, it was the Newsweek cover photo and headline, and that's what I wrote about. Writing about the headline, I had the reaction that it doesn't work on me. It doesn't make me want to read. It's insulting! That is a journalistic failure by Newsweek.

Now, quite possibly Newsweek sold the article short, and I was fair enough to Sullivan not to presume to know what he said. But he has melded his web presence — once fiercely independent and alive — to the rotting corpse that is Newsweek, and he bears some responsibility for his predicament. Judging from his blog post, I think he wants his article to be taken as a sane, sober, balanced assessment of Obama's presidency, but he has opted to wrap himself in Newsweek — how much money is that worth to him? — and doing that, he loses many of the readers he purports to mean to speak to and persuade.

But how sober and balanced is he really? I can't help noticing that in talking about me, he wasn't fair. He called me "right-wing," and yet I'm a political moderate, liberal on the social issues, and I voted for Obama.

So there I was, en route from Texas to Wisconsin, pulling in the 3G on my iPad, and I could see that I had an engraved invitation from Andrew Sullivan to read his article. I read it out loud, as Meade drove. (Meade is my husband, and — speaking of personal insults to me from Andrew Sullivan — Sullivan insulted us for deciding to marry!)

The cover really does misrepresent the article. The internal headline is: "How Obama's Long Game Will Outsmart His Critics." Note the difference between calling the critics "dumb" and saying Obama will "outsmart" his critics. Sullivan does a good job of marshaling the evidence that Obama has done a pretty good job — not that it's impossible to quibble. (Sullivan claims that Obama has "not had a single significant scandal to his name." What about Fast & Furious?!) But his central theme is that Obama has an 8-year rather than a 4-year plan, so we need to reelect him to "recapitalize him to entrench what he has done already and make it irreversible."

I know that last quote will make many of my readers think: That's exactly why we need to oust him! The changes he's made need to be reversed, and if we don't act now, it will be too late. 

But maybe if you take the time to read the article, you'll agree that some of what Obama has done is admirable. It's still a separate question whether we should want 4 more years of him rather than the alternative. It might be better for the country to have Mitt Romney step in and give the Republican Party a chance to take ownership of the economy and national defense. Four years ago I saw the benefit of the Democratic Party having its turn in power after the Bush years left so many people feeling frustrated and excluded.

In short, Sullivan's article is elaborate and well articulated, but it doesn't answer all the questions, and it certainly doesn't answer the insulting and off-putting question "Why Are Obama's Critics So Dumb?" I don't expect Sullivan to address the larger journalistic question in which his career is embedded, but it's obvious that Newsweek fully intended to drag in some readers with that red-meat title, and in doing that, it knowingly repelled others like me. I'm not the slightest bit apologetic for passing over an article that didn't appeal to me. I can't read the entire internet. Like every other reader, I have to make choices about what I'm going to read, and that's a choice that must necessarily be made without reading the article.

If I choose not to read the article, must I also choose not to blog about it? Of course not. I'm careful not to say anything I can't fairly say. I don't assert that I know what's in an article I haven't read, but criticizing media, I often have very good reason to write about why I'm not reading something. I analyze covers as covers and headlines as headlines. I think that's entirely appropriate.

Sunset in Muskogee.




Tonight's debate.

We've been driving all day, but we caught some of the debate along the way, and we're watching the tail end of it now. I'll try to catch up through Jaltcoh's blog.

ADDED: Note to Mitt Romney: The word "legislation," properly pronounced, does not begin with "lettuce."

The 5th oldest tree in the world burns down.

Guess how old the tree was before you look.

"Politicians and political operatives far beyond Wisconsin will be watching closely..."

"... not just for what the recall effort may imply for other states’ leaders who are considering cuts to workers’ benefits and union powers as a way to solve budget problems, but also as a sign for the presidential race."
... In 2008, Mr. Obama won here by almost 14 percentage points, and a Republican presidential candidate has not won Wisconsin since 1984. But overwhelming Republican victories in 2010 and a State Supreme Court election in 2011... has raised new questions for races in the fall, including a United States Senate seat left open by the retirement of Herb Kohl, a Democrat.

“It’s an early skirmish, a dry run, a fight of proxies and laboratory for experimentation,” Mordecai Lee, a former state legislator who teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, said of the recall’s significance for the presidential election.

On both sides, the recall could create a testing ground for larger national themes about collective bargaining and unions, and build volunteer and political operations (not to mention a list of some 720,000 recall signers) long before fall.
I'd say it's more than just an early test. It's a place to shape public opinion. An immense amount of money will be spent focusing attention on a pretty specific set of issues: government employees (and their benefits and unions) and how to balance the budget. Presumably Mitt Romney will have the Republican nomination sewn up and presidential politics may be in a bit of a lull. I'm picturing national party politics overshadowed by the crisply ideological fight we're having here in Wisconsin. Suddenly, the spokesperson for conservatism will be the little seen but oft-denounced Scott Walker. And holding up the liberal end of the argument will be... somebody. We don't know who. I wonder how that will work out.

I happen to believe Russ Feingold will step forward, even though he's said he won't.  (I explained why back here.)

Newsweek's "Why Are Obama's Critics So Dumb?" cover story and photo.

First, the photo. Why that photo? Some people think he looks awful — old, squinty, puffy — but I think it's an effort to evoke the old "HOPE" poster. Actually, it looks more like "hope" than the original Shepard Fairey image, which looks a little hunched-up and blank by comparison. The new image shows Obama, burdened and beleaguered, having sacrificed his youth for us, peering into the future... and yes, there is still hope.

Second, the article, by Andrew Sullivan. Based on the cover headline — "Why Are Obama's Critics So Dumb?" — I don't even want to read it. It just seems like red meat for Obama fans. And what a cliché! Republicans are stupid. That's what they always say. It's not just red meat, it's the same old red meat they always serve. You know, you have to be kind of dumb to be so easily pulled in by the assurance that you're with the smart people and those other people are stupid.

For the article under that headline to be any good, it would need to offer criticisms of Obama that are ostensibly smarter than the what the supposedly dumb critics are putting forth. A mere defense of Obama — you've got to be dumb not to appreciate him — would be so insipid.

UPDATE: I respond to Sullivan's complaining about my failure to read his article.

January 15, 2012

Huntsman dropping out.

Endorsing Romney.

At the Number 12 Café...


... we're in Austin, Texas, but we're rooting for you.

This is such a terrible "Modern Love" love story.

How can you be this bad a judge of character?

Things only said once.

I like that tag, but I've only used it once (until now). I didn't create that tag to use it only once. I thought it had potential. Or I wouldn't have created it. Oh, the blog paths that seem open and then are never walked down!

"He’s not excusing Loughner, just describing what an isolated lifestyle in Arizona can do to people."

"The state ranks 48th among places where 'people trade favors with neighbors' and 45th among places where people eat dinner with their families.... The murders make Arizonans wonder if they’re leading mean, unexamined lives.... Isolation is slowly ruining Arizona, and ruining the rest of the country at a slower pace."


"Isn't a Bainful Turnaround What America Needs?"

Larry Kudlow frames the question.

"President Obama and his family headed out to church this morning for the third time in a month..."

"... the latest sign that the president may be using religion to boost his image as the campaign heats up."

At the Scrambled Café...


... there's no need to rush. Hang around and talk about whatever interests you.

Miss Wisconsin.

Miss America.