March 10, 2012

At the Stop Sign Café...

... you could be starting something.

One year ago today at the Wisconsin protests: A man wheeled a large pile of...

...shit that had a "Hello My Name Is Scott Walker" sign stuck in it.

They were posing for democracy and crying for liberty.

The NYT contained some "[r]idiculous downplaying of the chaotic scenes that have been unfolding for the last 18 hours."

Jesse Jackson returned.

"100 protesters were removed from the antechamber to the Wisconsin Assembly chamber which will, imminently, vote on the bill passed last night by the Senate."

"Retire to the dirt, usurper of American freedom."

Sign at a protest before a speech by Justice Antonin Scalia at Wesleyan University.

"Who's going to save you when you get attacked?"

Here's what today's rally at the Wisconsin Capitol was like for me:

If you don't know the "last time" that's referred to at 1:08, it's when I was attacked on August 12, 2011.

Note that I am taunted for not having a husband at my side, and how, later, Meade is mocked for failing to save me from the earlier attack. That's some weird sexism. I appear alone in a crowd and people I don't know address me by name, ask repeatedly "Where's Laurence?" and add "Who's going to save you when you get attacked?" Yes, they are smiling and the vocal intonations are sassy. Well, the video is there for your assessment. Please discuss.

Bonus giant papier maché Scott Walker at the end.

ADDED: At 0:33, the woman says: "Your new husband — it's so sad." I think she means to rub it in that I am alone. I get the sense that these people are trying to make me and then Meade and me angry, which isn't going to happen. I really mostly just couldn't understand why they were so dumb. They seem to feel empowered by their numbers and my aloneness, but they can see I'm filming, and they're only interested in harassing me because I've put things on the internet in the past. Are they so into the moment that they don't have a clue that I'm going to put up this blog post?

Wisconsin Senate Democrats are losing some union members.

"Lyle Balistreri... represents more than 15-thousand construction trades workers in southeast Wisconsin, men and women who would have benefited from the mining reform bill."
"For the Senate Democrats to vote against this bill is a sign that they're not with us. They're certainly not job creators, and in fact they're job killers. And I'm sick and tired of the partisan politics in the State of Wisconsin. The working people in the state of are taking a beating. Democrats and Republicans are at each other's throats, and this sort of thing has to stop."
ADDED: David Blaska writes:
Real people in economically depressed Northern Wisconsin are paying the price for the Democratic Party’s fealty to government employee unions. Who has declared war on the middle class? Democrats have....

Legislative Democrats defeated the mining bill in order to sabotage the governor’s job-creation efforts. Those Democrats intend to play working men and women off each other: they’ll happily trade the industrial unions, whose numbers have been declining for decades, in exchange for the more numerous and more prosperous teachers unions and AFSCME affiliates.

At the Wisconsin protests today — one year after protesters stormed the Capitol.

As the Wisconsin State Journal puts it: "Union members rallied outside the Wisconsin Capitol on Saturday to mark the anniversary of the Republican-led Legislature's passage of a hotly-disputed measure that stripped most public union workers of collective bargaining rights."

How do they know who's a union member? There was a huge crowd, including lots of children (and dogs!) on this sunny warm Saturday:

They couldn't have all been union members. But I saw lots of generic printed signs and flags, and there were massive trucks painted with "Teamsters" and "Boilermakers" imagery.

Speaking of imagery, here's a woman holding a sign depicting Governor Scott Walker's head emerging from a hairy asshole. The sign reads "Buttholes for Billionaire$:

Another sign depicts Scott Walker peeing on the words "Public Employees." Walker has a Hitler mustache and the words read "Gov. Dick Tater":

(Is this sexist, an insult to all men, to call one man a "dick"?)

The socialists were there:

They want to tax the rich.

There were puppeteers... who had trouble wrangling the papier maché Scott Walker in the March wind:

There was this young woman aligning Governor Walker with murderers Ed Gein and Jeffrey Dahmer:

"Wisconsin regrets Ed Gein, Jeffrey Dahmer, and Scott Walker." Oh, there's always so much to regret. Grisly mass murders... balancing the state budget...

... spending a beautiful Saturday photographing the deeply aggrieved.

At the Aconite Café...

... it's still winter, and yet...

Ah, but I see winter aconite is poison:
In Greek and Roman mythology, Medea tried to kill Theseus by poisoning him by putting aconite in his wine, in that culture thought to be the saliva of Cerberus, the three-headed dog who guarded the Underworld. Hercules dragged Cerberus up from the Underworld, while the dog turned his face away from the light, barking and depositing saliva along the path. The saliva hardened in the soil and produced its lethal poison in the plants that grew from the soil. Because it was formed and grew on hard stones, farmers called it 'aconite' (from the Greek akone, meaning 'whetstone').
Medea is an anagram for Meade. Meade, who knows all about plants and who, upon seeing this photograph, said "winter aconite." Checking anagrams... Ann, I erect it, ow!... Well, well. The subject Meadhouse fan fiction has already come up on the blog today.

What is the carbon footprint of the 340-ton rock transported on a 196-wheel vehicle on an 11-day journey to an art museum in L.A.?

And why doesn't The New York Times, celebrating the project on its website front page, question the environmentalism of this project?

It's art precisely because it has no practical use. Meanwhile, driving a mid-sized car or turning on an incandescent lightbulb is an environmental sin, characteristic of our ordinary lives, for which the NYT never tires of shaming us.


We talked about this art work last month: here.

Here's the rock's Twitter feed: "I'm going to sleep like a rock tonight..." etc. etc.

"And yet the perception is that last week was bad for Republicans and good for the Dems. What gives?"

Says Instapundit, noting today's Rasmussen tracking poll that has Romney at 48, Obama 43 and even Santorum at 46, with Obama at 45.

As an example of that perception he's referring to, check out Jonathan Chait:
Today's report that the economy added 227,000 jobs last month, and far more than expected the previous two months,  seems as good an occasion as any to take stock of President Obama’s electoral standing.

Obama has clearly improved his position.... Pretty much everything has moved his way all at once. The recovery, which stalled last year, is picking up speed, and perceptions of the economy are improving along with it. The Republican candidates have all hurtled rightward and lost popularity in the center. Obama has managed to establish a contrast against the wildly unpopular Republican House rather than allow himself to be sucked down into its dysfunction.
And here's Rush Limbaugh — the infamous Rush Limbaugh — on his show yesterday, talking about the media as "now just willing accomplices of the Democrat Party." Excerpt:
Just remember, folks, in 2005, 2006, unemployment in this country was at 5% under the hated, despised, and dreaded George W. Bush.  "Job Growth Remains Brisk in February."  "Healthcare Continues to Lead Employment Growth,"  "Employment Grows Solidly for Third Straight Month."  So the new normal is more than twice as high as unacceptable unemployment under Bush.  The new normal, what the media says is a roaring economy; what the media says is a steady economic upbeat; what the media says is job market improving; what the media says is brisk job growth.  Eight-point-three percent unemployment is more than twice as high as what was unacceptable unemployment during George W. Bush. 

Bill Maher to Rush Limbaugh: "You know what, Rush, when you can stand up in front of an audience of 3,000 people all the time like I do..."

I've already blogged about what Bill Maher said on his show last night about Rush Limbaugh, so forgive me if you've already had enough of the Maher-Limbaugh topic, but this really is something else and I have something different to say. Maher said:
The word that they're upset about. I never said on this show.
What is he referring to? He did call Sarah Palin a "dumb twat" on the show. (See?)
It was in my standup act, which I consider the last bastion of free speech. 
The word, apparently, is "cunt," and he used it in his standup show. He tones it down a notch for HBO.
There's a reason people compare me to George Carlin — 'cause we're standup comedians. 
By the way, "twat" wasn't even on  Carlin's original list of "Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television." "Cunt" was. Later, Carlin expanded the list, and "twat" got on along with "fart" and "turd." It's like a late year in the history of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, when The Beatles and The Rolling Stones got in long ago, like 2002 and they're getting around to Gene Pitney and Brenda Lee. It's an analogy! I don't owe Brenda an apology. If people are too dumb to handle analogies, why do we even have democracy? Let's just make Obama king, stop talking about politics, and spend our lives dancing and singing.

Did you watch that Carlin clip? Astounding! Maher cites "people" who compare him to George Carlin. He doesn't dare claim the comparison sprang out of his own semi-bald dome. But I'll compare him to Carlin: Bill Maher is not at all as funny or perceptive as George Carlin. Now that's a comparison. What did those other people who compared Maher to Carlin say? I'd like to know, because I'd like to do a comparison comparison. I think mine is better.

Back to this quote from last night that I'm trying to analyze:
Rush Limbaugh likes to say he's a comedian. 
No, he doesn't! Rush's critics like to call him a comedian. When it suits their purposes. Other times they like to say he's the spokesman for the Republican Party. And that's what Rush likes to say. I listen to the show all the time, so I know what he likes to say. Unlike a lot of people who love to hate Rush and simply react to out-of-context quotes they've been fed.

But Rush uses humor. He likes to "use absurdity to illustrate the absurd."

Mayer continues:
You know what, Rush, when you can stand up in front of an audience of 3,000 people all the time like I do and make them spill their fuckin' guts out and laugh their asses off for 90 minutes, you're a comedian. 
Rush doesn't do theater shows — which tend to be scripted with crafted jokes told one after the other — and let's grant Maher that Rush would be bad at that. But Rush does sit down at a microphone 3 hours a day, 5 days a week and hold the attention of not 3,000 people but many millions. For 20 years. Maher could not do that. These are different activities. Both deploy humor as they talk about politics, but they do it in a different way. Maher's bragging that he's doing much more than Rush... it's as off as the implication that he's as good as Carlin.
But you're not a comedian. And when you do that, I say, my rule: You get a little extra leeway. 
Each humorist can decide for himself how much leeway he's going to take. And people will decide whether to give it to him. He can't dictate a rule, except as a joke. You don't get the leeway because you do standup comedy (or a radio show using absurdity to illustrate absurdity). You get what people feel like giving you. And what we feel is a response to what you do. It's a mystery why we feel the way we do. We're not following any rules. It's a personal relationship, like love.
But if I offended women, I'm sorry. I don't have a problem saying I'm sorry. 
Oh, but you do, Bill. Because that is not an apology. It's easy to say "I'm sorry" in the sorry-if-you-are-offended form, i.e., a nonapology.
I don't know why women would want to align themselves with Sarah Palin. I don't know why an insult to her is an insult to all women, but if it is, I'm sorry.
If... and obviously, you don't think it is. The joke — not a terribly good one, not anything that's going to make us spill our "fuckin' guts" out over— is that women shouldn't see Sarah Palin as one of the women who count. If we can isolate her over there with the bad people, we can call her a name that is specific to women: a "cunt." Is the use of a woman-specific insult something that switches the subject to all women? That is, is "cunt" like a racist epithet? If one black person is called the n-word, the topic ceases to be whether that one black person is a bad guy. Or is "cunt" like "dick"? If one guy is called a "dick," we stay on topic: the way that one guy is a "dick." I wrote "cunt," "dick," and "n-word," so you can see what my answer is. I'm for sexual equality... and abandoning the famously hurtful racial epithet.

So let humorists of all kinds select the language they want to use. Let them be gentle or cutting. There are all sorts of things you can do with words. There are no rules. There are no 7 dirty words for TV or extra leeway for extracting puke from 3,000 theater-ticket buyers. There is a mystery to using words to reach other human beings, and you're all on your own.

A soft-porn, pulpy romance novel hits #1 on the NYT ebook list...

... and the NYT writes a lifestyle-trends-type article about it.
“Fifty Shades of Grey” and the two other titles in the series were written by a British author named E L James, a former television executive who began the trilogy by posting fan fiction online. The books, which were released in the last year, center on the lives (and affection for whips, chains and handcuffs) of Christian Grey, a rich, handsome tycoon, and Anastasia Steele, an innocent college student, who enter into a dominant-submissive relationship....
Steele. Always Steele. "Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Jim Steele."

Recognize that quote? It's on page 123 of "The Catcher in the Rye." Holden Caulfield is introducing himself to a prostitute. He also claims to be 22, which he's not, causing her to say "Like fun you are" and him to observe "It was a funny thing to say. It sounded like a real kid. You'd think a prostitute and all would say 'Like hell you are' or 'Cut the crap' instead of 'Like fun you are.'" So the prostitute is too young and so is he and he felt peculiar. "Sexy was about the last thing I was feeling. I felt much more depressed than sexy."

But lots of women today are feeling really sexy and not depressed when they read about the handsome tycoon whipping the innocent girl who has the manly name of Steele. She's Steele, he's Grey. Who really has the power in this S&M relationship? (← Thoroughly conventional intriguing/boring question.)
“It’s relighting a fire under a lot of marriages,” said Lyss Stern, the founder of and one of the early fans of the series. “I think it makes you feel sexy again, reading the books.”...

“Women just feel like it’s O.K. to read it,” [said a Long Island woman who didn't want her name printed]. “It’s taboo for women to admit that they watch pornography, but for some reason it’s O.K. to admit that they’re reading this book.”...

“What I found fascinating is that there are all these supermotivated, smart, educated women saying this was like the greatest thing they’ve ever read,” said Meg Lazarus, a 38-year-old former lawyer in Scarsdale, whose friends and acquaintances have been buzzing about the book. “I don’t get it. There’s a lot of violence, and this guy is abhorrent sometimes.”
Buzzing. The vibrator reference also appears in the headline: "Discreetly Digital, Erotic Novel Sets American Women Abuzz."

Anyone remember when the Anais Nin book "Delta of Venus" was a best seller, back in the 1970s? It was the erotic book that all the ladies who thought they were above reading pornography were suddenly able to read. But "Delta of Venus" was considered high-quality literature, and that was a big part of why women — the NYT-reading-type woman — felt okay about reading it. Look at it — very classy literary vibe.

No one is saying "Shades of Grey" is quality literature. They're just saying it's effective as pornography. It's sexually arousing. But isn't that true of endless romance novels with handsome tycoons in them? What made it okay to read? There's a quote in the article: "in the 21st century, women have the ability to read this kind of material without anybody knowing what they’re reading, because they can read them on their iPads and Kindles." But that still doesn't say what made everyone converge on the same porn novel at the same time, making it #1? According to the NYT, it seems to be extremely strong internet word-of-mouth. A Barnes & Noble VP says: "I think this shows very clearly what the blog network can do."

Blogs! They can do everything. They can make ladies in Scarsdale plow through a plodding, stupid novel about a rich man with a riding crop and the innocent little lamb who loves him.

March 9, 2012

"Extreme busyness, whether at school or college, kirk or market, is a symptom of deficient vitality..."

"... and a faculty for idleness implies a catholic appetite and a strong sense of personal identity. There is a sort of dead-alive, hackneyed people about, who are scarcely conscious of living except in the exercise of some conventional occupation."

Robert Louis Stevenson,  An Apology for Idlers (Kindle Locations 122-125).

On his show tonight, Bill Maher says he's not defending Rush Limbaugh.

"I'm defending living in a country where people don't have to be afraid that they might go out of the bounds for one minute. Do we all want to be talking like White House spokesmen?... I would rather put up with Rush Limbaugh and live in a country where people do have freedom of speech. And the people who I've heard who say 'You know what, when they put pressure on his sponsors the system is working' — no, it's not. That's the system being manipulated. I lived through that 10 years ago."


Here's Maher's tweet that people interpreted as defending Limbaugh.

Here's the information about what happened to Maher 10 years ago. His late-night ABC show "Politically Incorrect" was canceled after a controversy over an edgy remark he made one week after the September 11th. ("We have been the cowards, lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away. That's cowardly. Staying in the airplane when it hits the building, say what you want about it, it's not cowardly.")


Maher went on to criticize that "fat fuck" Limbaugh: Right-wingers have made a "false equivalence" between Limbaugh and him. "I am a potty mouth. That's different from a misogynist."

At the Target Café...

... I'm afraid of all the metaphors.

If Obama could say "Maybe you’re better off not having the surgery, but taking painkillers" to an elderly woman with a bad heart...

... then, in parallel fashion, why shouldn't the government tell young women who want birth control that they are better off using condoms rather than more expensive methods? Condoms, after all, give protection against STDs as well as pregnancy. It would control costs: no doctor visits needed, no calamitous side-effects to treat. Make free condoms plentifully available everywhere.

Remember, Obama took some heat for standing up to the woman who talked about the "spirit" of her 100-year-old mother. If old people are going to get pills instead of surgery, why shouldn't young people have to accept condoms? And shouldn't the government be promoting condoms for disease control anyway?

What will happen to all the left-wing comedians after all the attention to Limbaugh's "slut" controversy?

Here's Greta Van Susteren kicking up a storm about Louis C.K. being the headliner at the Radio and Television Correspondents Association Dinner. Apparently, Louis C.K. has said some rather nasty things about a woman named Sarah Palin.

Meanwhile, Gloria Allred thinks Rush Limbaugh should be prosecuted for his ill-received prostitution metaphor.

UPDATE: Louis C.K. pulls out. Now they have a big opportunity to get someone totally inoffensive and bore the pants off everyone. Can I say "pants"? Is that okay in nambypamby America?

One year ago today at the Wisconsin protests: Protesters storm the Capitol.

"Meade, who is in the building now, tells me, by phone, that he saw a window on the Wisconsin Avenue side of the building opened and protesters entering through that window."


"Chaos at the Wisconsin Capitol tonight.... people entering, as the state troopers stand by."

"Shortly after 8 p.m., hundreds of protesters gathered outside the locked King Street entrance to the Capitol, chanting 'Break down the door!' and 'General strike!'"

"Fists and uvulas waving..."

Grim determination.

Police overwhelmed.

"An increasing number of affluent women with affluent husbands are casting off the chains of professional work..."

Writes James Taranto, noting a new Federal Reserve study showing a decline in the number of highly educated women with highly educated husbands in the workforce. (Between 1976 and 1992, there was an increase.)
"The trend is not limited to top earners," Reuters notes. "It has been detected among households earning around $80,000 per year." But $80,000 goes a lot further in the middle of the country than it does in New York or San Francisco. A husband has to be fairly affluent for his wife to be able to afford to stay home: "Only a few households can afford to give up a good second income."...

Marriage and male responsibility for families were once the norm at all levels of American society. Feminism was supposed to liberate women from dependency on men. Instead it has helped to create a two-tiered culture in which the norm is for women to be "chained to a desk," but those who hit the jackpot in the mating game can realistically aspire to escape that status. Nice going, ladies. Happy International Women's Day.
Oh, my.  I'm not going to try to say everything that's wrong with that. I'll just say:

1. A family is an economic unit, and the adults in it should think carefully and clearly about their needs and interests. It may very often work out better, both financially and in terms of happiness, for one person to specialize in bringing in the money, freeing up the partner to contribute in other ways, through child-rearing, homemaking, community service, developing social connections, and innumerable other things that a person not tied to a job can do. There is absolutely no reason that the spouse in the job-free position needs to be the wife.

2. Male or female, a working person can find himself/herself in a stultifying or otherwise unpleasant job, and a job-free spouse may find himself/herself lacking power in an abusive relationship. There's no one answer to how to stay out of the many bad positions a human being can get into. You can go too far protecting yourself from dysfunctional dependency on a lackluster job or a lackluster jobless life. And you can go too far clinging to one or the other.  People need to pay attention to the details of their own lives and exercise good judgment as they make their own individual decisions. You can get into trouble using big ideologies to make those decisions.

3. Feminism opened up some new ways of thinking about various life decisions. If women are simply trying to be good feminists and not thinking about their own individual wants and needs, then they're unlikely to be any better off than if they'd unthinkingly followed the old-fashioned traditions. And they're not even good feminists, because they're just doing what they think other people want them to do. Good traditionalists are reflective too. Think for yourself!

4. Is there a "mating game" with "jackpots," in which some women just get lucky? That sounds like a loser's theory. I think there's some skill involved. And it's not a matter of finding the person with the most wealth. A man being rich is like a girl being pretty...

... but you might be happier shopping for a mate a few levels down from the top of the wealth/beauty pyramid. Shop well. Make good decisions. And stop being envious of everyone else. Get your own life in order.

End unpaid internships, drop the SAT for college admissions, and stop requiring a college degree for jobs where it's not needed.

Charles Murray has some ideas about narrowing class differences in America.

Solve the birth control controversy by selling the pill over the counter.

Says Nick Gillespie, quoting Virginia Postrel. That's the libertarian analysis. But isn't there some need for a doctor's exam? Obviously, the doctors must think so, and they have so much to gain if Obamacare covers everything. Meanwhile, Instapundit notes that his "wife’s heart attack was probably caused by birth-control pills." You can say the doctor's visits she had didn't prevent that, but would there be even more heart attacks and other calamities if women could just grab these items off the shelf? I have no idea, but then I never liked the idea of taking pills for birth control. Pills change the structure of your body, including your brain, do they not? You become a different person. Not that I thought I was such a wonderful person — back in the pre-self-esteem days — but I wanted to know that whatever I was was really me and not a drug.

"Do you ever recognize how critical you are? Just curious."

"Thank you for sharing that. I have choir practice tonight."

Crack Skull Bob — the other Crack — eavesdrops on can't help hearing those Christians "of a certain type" over there at the next table. They're so earnest!

"Thank you for your requests last week and this week to restart your voiced endorsement in local markets of The Rush Limbaugh Show..."

"... Unfortunately, your public comments were not well received by our audience, and did not accurately portray either Rush Limbaugh’s character or the intent of his remarks. Thus, we regret to inform you that Rush will be unable to endorse Sleep Train in the future."

The "voiced endorsement" is an intimate relationship between advertiser and radio personality. These endorsements put a deep impression into the listener's brain. Whenever I see Gold Bond Powder — usually on a low shelf in the drug store — I still hear the voice of Barry Farber, coming to me from 50 years ago, personally explaining this product I would never have noticed otherwise. I mean, I think I pick it out among all the other products because Barry Farber created and nurtured that consumer-product bond — that Gold Bond — all those many decades ago. I Googled to see if I could find an old Barry Farber Gold Bond endorsement, and what came up at the top of my results is my old blog post from last year, relating Rush Limbaugh to Barry Farber. In the comments, I write:
It's the kind of radio ad where the host starts talking about the product, and you might be fooled at first about whether it's an ad or not. It's like what Barry Farber used to do with Gold Bond Powder. Rush used to do it with mattresses and hot water heaters. It's a long-time traditional style of radio ad.
Mattresses. You've got millions of people associating your mattresses with Rush Limbaugh — yes, what an image! but it's indelible — and then you kick him out of bed. All those people you met through your mattress-mate, they don't want to be your friends anymore. And you find out you didn't really have other friends, and then Rush won't take you back. It's a lonely life! An empty mattress!

"How can people take the love out of science and bring hate into religion so easily?"

Leave Miley alone!

If Holder chuckled "That would be true" about the existence of a debate within the administration about that memo.

Then he admitted that the memo — whose existence had not been admitted — exists.

"McCain’s parting words to her — an admonition that she not ally herself with 'Limbaugh and the other extremists'..."

"... is perhaps the most gruesomely ironic line of dialogue delivered down the somewhat arduous home stretch."


Our first Bible reading of the day, at Meadhouse, was Jeremiah 18, "The Potter and the Clay."

Never mind how it came up in our conversation: What do you make of it?

Romney's dog.

Sorry, I'm fond of the Romnster, but I love this New Yorker cover:

And here's the article: "What Presidents Talk About When They Talk About Dogs."
If a politician can’t talk about dogs without sounding slightly deranged, what hope does he have?

"I reserved the phrase 'contraceptive sponges' very clearly and specifically..."

"... for people who demand subsidies without offering any reasons beyond the fact that they’d prefer to be subsidized. In other words, the targets of this phrase are people who have not actually stated any views on the matter at hand, namely how do we know when a subsidy is justified."

University of Rochester Professor Steven Landsburg schooling Joel Seligman, the president of that university, on the meaning of free speech and vigorous debate.

Via Instapundit, who suspects that Seligman intended to chill "the speech of faculty who are less eminent than Steven Landsburg."

And Professor Jacobson says: "Why did the President of the University feel the need to get involved? Is he the thought policeman? Sure, the President of the University is entitled to an opinion, but it’s clear that he was trying to tamp down a dissenting view using the power of his presidency."

Jacobson also embeds a video the University of Rochester admissions department and asks: "Will President Seligman accept responsibility and apologize for Univ. of Rochester not celebrating diversity in this video?" Ha. I watched the video before reading that question, and what I said out loud was: "Apparently, they don't have enough male students at that school." That video is desperately projecting maleness. It's all white too, which I think is mostly Jacobson's point, but the exaggerated masculinity is funny in connection with the current controversy, which is about protecting women from the feeling disrespected.

March 8, 2012


... approaches lions.

"I cut the feet off my pantyhose and wore them underneath... But they rolled up my legs all night."

"I remember thinking, 'I've got to figure out how to make this.' I'd never worked in fashion or retail. I just needed an undergarment that didn't exist."

How Sara Blakeley invented Spanx... and became a billionaire.

"Russia jails female punk band members."

"The band [Pussy Riot] first gained notoriety performing in Red Square on a cold January afternoon with the song 'Putin wet his pants" performed in dayglo balaclavas and mini dresses."

One year ago today at the Wisconsin protests: a big deal is made out of Meade's having attended Scott Walker's budget address.

This guy at The Awl sees some sort of scandal: "What kind of special access was granted to the assembly chamber that day? How did everyone get in?"

Paranoia strikes deep...

"Senator McCain, though convincingly played by [Ed] Harris, is a secondary character..."

"... decent and sympathetic to his running mate’s plight but preoccupied with his own problems. Ms. Palin dominates as a disarming egotist whose presumption is balanced by charisma and animal cunning — and in this film, as in life, she has the last smirk."

AND: "Republicans pan HBO Palin movie."

At the Treehugger Café...

... go vegetarian! and read a book!

"My wife's parents are very frequently suggesting that we should move from Minneapolis to North Dakota..."

"... because they keep hearing that there's an oil boom out there and we need to go be part of it."
When I saw this article, I briefly thought that I should send it to them with a note along the lines of "THIS IS WHY WE DON'T WANT TO MOVE TO NORTH DAKOTA."

But I immediately realized that their response would be: "WHY NOT? IT HAS AN OLIVE GARDEN!"

"A goat? In this restaurant? Eating pizza? No!"

Well... yeah.

"Keith Haring's Men's Room Mural Is As NSFW As You'd Imagine."

"Penises grow human heads with mouths that suck the toes of other human shapes that in turn contort into Mobius-strips of sucking, performing Escher-like convolutions as one body part morphs into another."


"The costly web cameras put in place in Russia's polling stations to combat fraud served a dual purpose..."

"... giving viewers an unusual glimpse of the lives of people all over the country — from small Chechen villages to Tyumen nightlife and beyond."
Anyone with an Internet connection could rove the land, spying on a range of buildings that work as polling stations during elections — from schools to sanatoriums and even private homes....

In Tyumen, a party at a polling station quickly went viral as the 60th birthday party of a man called Nikolai was caught on camera, complete with slow "sexy" dancing and vodka-drinking toasts to Nikolai's young age....

One of the most widely discussed polling stations was a private house in the village of Meseda in Chechnya, where one of the elections commission officials, a woman in her 50s, could be seen with her husband and baby, with a blue sheet hung up to hide the voting "booth." The baby proved especially popular among viewers and users of Twitter.

Is Althouse drifting leftward?

Is Althouse drifting leftward? free polls 

"Breitbart’s Obama Video Is a Total Dud."

Says Brett Smiley at New York Magazine.

I agree. In the video — which appears in long form at the link — Obama is a Harvard Law student introducing a highly respected Harvard Law professor, and he does an outstanding job, displaying the  now-familiar charm, and even breaking the tension and getting a laugh from a crowd of protesters that had been displaying a grim, aggrieved demeanor. I am impressed by Obama's mildness and moderation in this video, and I remember very well the controversy that led to Professor Derrick Bell's protest in 1990. I was a visiting professor at Boston University Law School in the fall of 1990, and I used to attend a reading group called "FemCrits" that included BU, Harvard, and other female law professors in the area. I saw and heard plenty of the radical lawprofs of that era, and Barack Obama does not come across as their acolyte. He seems independently well-grounded and perhaps even aloof from the controversy. Obama had just been elected president of the Harvard Law Review, its first black president. That put him in a position where he may have been called upon to do the introduction, and he handles the task with diplomacy and aplomb. What I see in that video is a great and natural politician, not some hardcore radical.

"The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw, and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do."

The title of the new Fiona Apple album.

"The political reaction to 'slut' was opportunistic, of course, but it worked with a lot of women..."

"... because — apparently, even in this age of sexual liberation and 'slut pride' — women are still somehow deeply affected by charges of wanton and undiscriminating sexual behavior," writes Glenn Reynolds, looking at the conflicts under the surface of sex-positive feminism.
This might even account for the importance of the contraceptive issue, because mandated contraceptive coverage may be seen as representing not just a modest monetary benefit, but also perhaps some sort of societal validation. I would have thought that a strong independent woman wouldn’t need a stamp of societal approval for her choices, but apparently I would have been wrong. I leave it to the evolutionary-psych folks to work out why the “slut” charge retains such power in liberated times.

Apparently, however, it is especially wrong to “slut-shame” even though lefties feel no compunction about shaming people regarding other personal choices — from not recycling to owning an SUV to, worst of all, being a Republican. As I say, there’s something more going on here. And if the “shaming” part of slut-shaming isn’t bad, because shaming is fine in other contexts, then it must be the “slut” part.
Who did the shaming? Conservatives, including Rush Limbaugh, were characterizing sex as nothing more lowly than private recreational activity. The idea was: You have to pay for that yourself. It was the other side that seized upon that argument and imposed a new, politically motivated interpretation on it, that the woman was shamed. The wounded woman — wounded in the "war on women" — should then seek succor in the arms of the Democratic Party, who would care for what are health needs (not recreational supplies!).

Realistically, this should be a policy debate about insurance coverage, but minds must be manipulated, so competing templates are offered. What should a woman prefer, to be thought of as a strong free agent, doing what she chooses, with the government as far from her sex life as possible or a government that sees her as vulnerable, easily wounded, and in need of protection and support?

One answer is: I'm for whichever side gives me $1,000. That's what's really frightening.

"I believe in working with the hearts of people, and not locking them up."

Says Pat Robertson, advocating the legalization of marijuana.
"I really believe we should treat marijuana the way we treat beverage alcohol... I’ve never used marijuana and I don’t intend to, but it’s just one of those things that I think: this war on drugs just hasn’t succeeded."...

Mr. Robertson said he enjoyed a glass of wine now and then — “When I was in college, I hit it pretty hard, but that was before Christ.” He added that he did not think marijuana appeared in the Bible, though he noted that “Jesus made water into wine.”

“I don’t think he was a teetotaler,” he said.
Now, of course, Pat Roberson has said a lot of hare-brained things over the years, — but that doesn't mean he's always wrong. I was going to look up and post about his worst opinions, but I got sidetracked into this question whether marijuana appears in the Bible. You just know there will be pages on the internet talking about marijuana in the Bible. For example:
God said, "Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed which is upon the face of all the earth.…To you it will be for meat." … And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. (Genesis 1:29-31) The Bible predicts some herb's prohibition. "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times, some shall … speak lies in hypocrisy … commanding to abstain from meats which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. (Paul: 1 Timothy 4:1-3)

The Bible speaks of a special plant. "I will raise up for them a plant of renown, and they shall be no more consumed with hunger in the land, neither bear the shame of the heathen any more." (Ezekiel 34:29) A healing plant. On either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare 12 manner of fruits, and yielding her fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. (Revelations 22:1-2) A gift from God.

"Martin Sheen commanded the stage with his impassioned portrayal of an attorney arguing for gay-marriage rights..."

"... Jane Lynch inspired instant response as a vehement same-sex marriage opponent; Brad Pitt dazzled as a judge. It was all part of the star-studded West Coast premiere of '8,' a play about the 2010 federal court fight against Proposition 8, the gay-marriage ban that California voters approved in 2008."

Also in the performance: George Clooney, Kevin Bacon, Jamie Lee Curtis, Christine Lahti, George Takei, John C. Reilly, Chris Colfer, Matthew Morrison, and Jesse Tyler Ferguson.

Here, they put it on line (at least for the coming week):

University president lambastes professor-blogger for finding some good in Rush Limbaugh's anti-Fluke rant.

It's Joel Seligman, president of the University of Rochester, issuing a statement:
I was deeply disappointed to read UR Professor Steve Landsburg’s recent blogs praising Rush Limbaugh for a “spot-on analogy” with respect to his offensive remarks about Georgetown student Sandra Fluke (although Landsburg parted company with Limbaugh for calling Fluke a “slut”). Landsburg went further. He stated that Ms. Fluke’s position deserved “only to be ridiculed, mocked and jeered.” He further stated that the right word for her position was “extortionist,” characterized those who disagreed with his view as “contraceptive sponges,” and added that there is nothing wrong with being paid for sex.
Contraceptive sponges... now, that is clever.
... I am outraged that any professor would demean a student in this fashion. To openly ridicule, mock, or jeer a student in this way is about the most offensive thing a professor can do. We are here to educate, to nurture, to inspire, not to engage in character assassination.
To openly ridicule, mock, or jeer a student in your classroom may be one of the most offensive things a professor can do, but when a student is a political activist who testifies before a congressional subcommittee on a specific policy question that you disagree with, it's not that horrible to blog about that. (It's not the approach I, as a professor, felt like taking. If you look at my first post on the subject, I said "I've been avoiding weighing in on this subject, in part because, as a law professor, I don't like talking about an individual law student," and then my discussion wasn't about the young woman, but all the political leveraging that was going on.)

Of course, Seligman is a political actor. He's got to deal with his intra-university constituencies. I'd like to know who's been pressuring him to push back Landsburg.
Landsburg now has made himself newsworthy as one of Limbaugh’s few defenders. I wish he had focused instead on the ideal of a university as an institution that promotes the free exchange of ideas and lively debate at its best in an atmosphere of civil discourse in which the dignity of every individual is respected.
Lively, but not too lively, apparently. And please don't stick out "as one of Limbaugh’s few defenders." The more people are all on one side of an issue, in Seligman's view, the more important it is for everybody to get over on that side. And Landsburg ought to focus on... what? Some abstract ideal that Seligman seems to be violating in the process of mushily stating?

Here's the Inside Higher Ed article that pointed me to Seligman's statement. Added facts:
On Wednesday, about 30 students protested Landsburg's comments by coming to one of his courses and standing between him and the class while he continued to lecture.... They left after 15 minutes but then came back at the end of the class.
And the university president sides with the students... in lofty pursuit of the free exchange of ideas and lively debate in an atmosphere of civil discourse in which the dignity of every individual is respected. Okay.

"We are here to educate, to nurture, to inspire, not to engage in character assassination." Where's the character assassination? Landsburg disagreed with the policy Sandra Fluke promoted. In Congress. Professors have the obligation to "nurture" and "inspire" her from afar by refraining from taking on her ideas? Is that some special kid-gloves treatment for women? Ironically, that would be sexist. Should we be patting the female political activist on the head and murmuring good for you for speaking up? That is dismissive. It's better feminism to react to what a woman in politics says and to respond to her with full force the way you would to a man. And that's what Landsburg did:
[W]hile Ms. Fluke herself deserves the same basic respect we owe to any human being, her position — which is what’s at issue here — deserves none whatseover. It deserves only to be ridiculed, mocked and jeered. To treat it with respect would be a travesty....

To his credit, Rush stepped in to provide the requisite mockery. To his far greater credit, he did so with a spot-on analogy: If I can reasonably be required to pay for someone else’s sex life (absent any argument about externalities or other market failures), then I can reasonably demand to share in the benefits. His dense and humorless critics notwithstanding, I am 99% sure that Rush doesn’t actually advocate mandatory on-line sex videos. What he advocates is logical consistency and an appreciation for ethical symmetry. So do I. Color me jealous for not having thought of this analogy myself.
Now, Landsburg's an economist. Note the references to externalities or other market failures. He goes on to say a little something about prostitution. He goes on find the the analogy to prostitution flawed. Fluke is, he says, more of an "extortionist" — an "extortionist with an overweening sense of entitlement." For some reason Seligman thought he needed to throw in his position on prostitution:
I totally disagree with Landsburg that there is nothing wrong with being paid for sex.  
Landsburg, rejecting the prostitution analogy, had written "Ms. Fluke is not in fact demanding to be paid for sex. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)" Seligman continues:
Having been a Dean of two law schools with clinics that addressed violence against women, I am all too aware of the terrible correlation between prostitution and the physical and emotional demeaning of women.
Oh, a correlation? Well, then, by all means, totally disagree with a professor who entertains the notion that the exchange of money for sex might not in itself be wrong. Because you're all about the free exchange of ideas and lively debate!

March 7, 2012

One year ago today an the Wisconsin protests: the "fleebaggers" holed up in Illinois.

"Oh, come on! That's absurd.... I cannot understand why the Democratic senators should get more because of the way they've behaved. What kind of an example will that set for the future? No one will accept the outcome of an election anymore."

"Let's all create a backstory for this excruciatingly sad American Apparel model."

"You may know Guillaume as American Apparel's centerpiece briefs model, but I know him as the mournful French-Canadian asexual who is allergic to most foods and metals. He realized he wasn't like other people when he saw his father cry at his grandmother's funeral and felt nothing...."

"The book is helping white folks who otherwise would have simply dismissed that idea understand why so many people believe it."

The idea is that the war on drugs is "a system of racial control comparable to slavery and Jim Crow."

(Here's the book.)

"Judge who blocked Voter ID law signed Walker recall petition."


"The one thing that's being tamped down here is, we're losing characters... The place needs character, and characters."

"When I got here, you had Jim Traficant, you had Barney, and then Dennis came..." says Rep. Steven C. LaTourette (R-Ohio), a nine-term veteran, reflecting on Kucinich's loss yesterday in a primary "in a newly drawn district against his once-close ally, Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio)."

Well... does Joe the Plumber count as a character? Actually, he "almost lost his House bid to an obscure auctioneer named Steve Kraus — when the dust settled, Wurzelbacher escaped with a narrow 51 to 48 percent victory."

"Obama loses Dem primary in 15 Oklahoma counties."

Beaten by Operation Rescue founder Randall Terry.

Unveiling the new iPad.

"Apple has its feet firmly planted in the post-PC future."

Rush Limbaugh: "I have not lost 28 sponsors... They lie... Everything is fine on the business side... There is nothing to worry about."

Rush, on the radio just now. He explains:  Sponsors are both local and national. The 600+ stations sell their own ads, and Rush doesn't even know who those local sponsors are. These sponsors don't cancel their ads on the station, they just put in an order that their ads not run during the Rush time slot. Things like this happen every day, and not just to Rush. "It's part of the business," but because there's attention to Rush's current problem, there are reports of these local advertisers putting in these orders, and the local stations don't even lose any revenue.

The left is just putting out propaganda, trying to create the impression that Rush's show is over. They are portraying local advertisers as if they were Rush's national advertisers. The 28 advertisers, at the 600+ stations, amount to virtually nothing in what is a pool of something like 18,000 advertisers at the local level.

He doesn't talk about how many of his national sponsors have canceled, but there must be some, because at one point, he talked said "2 of the sponsors who have cancelled have asked to return... one of them is practically begging," so there must be some.

"Twitter is unspeakably irritating. Twitter stands for everything I oppose."

"It's hard to cite facts or create an argument in 140 characters … It's like if Kafka had decided to make a video semaphoring The Metamorphosis. Or it's like writing a novel without the letter 'P'… It's the ultimate irresponsible medium. People I care about are readers… particularly serious readers and writers, these are my people. And we do not like to yak about ourselves."

Said big-shot writer Jonathan Franzen, which led to the Twitter fad #JonathanFranzenhates:
According to tweeters' yakking, the novelist hates everything from "Emoticons, because it takes 600 pages to accurately convey emotion", to puppies, people who hate Jar Jar Binks, and cameras, because "real pictures should be painted".
Hey, wait. Those tweeters are not yakking about themselves. Franzen threw in that extra concept: narcissism, self-obsesssion, inwardness. It wasn't just about how long or short writing good writing ought to be. It was also a moralistic judgment about what should absorb a decent person's attention. Ah! But Mr. Novelist, what about you? Could you yak about yourself long enough to tell the truth about whether your lengthy scribblings are about yourself?

I've only read one Jonathan Franzen book, "The Discomfort Zone," and it was all about him, him yakking about himself. That's why I read it. It's a memoir. He's more famous for novels, and I tend to read nonfiction, so I've read his memoir. But those novels... I'm guessing they involve all sorts of fictional characters who are more or less processed versions of himself. And they yak... for 600 pages.

Meanwhile, many tweeters look outward and are not self-absorbed at all.

"Can you concentrate on Flaubert when your cute cat is only a few feet away, or give your true devotion to Mr. Darcy when people are swimming in a pool nearby?"

"People who read books on paper are realizing that while they really want to be reading Dostoyevsky, the real world around them is pretty distracting with all of its opportunities for interacting with people, buying things in stores, and drinking coffee."

Alex Madrigal lampoons that NYT article about ebooks that we were talking about a couple days ago.

"We originally called it soylent pink."

Lunchtime for the kiddies.

The government official who called it that doesn't know his movies very well. Or... at least I hope he doesn't know his movies very well.
"We looked at the product and we objected to it because it used connective tissues instead of muscle. It was simply not nutritionally equivalent [to ground beef]. My main objection was that it was not meat."
So the problem is not that the meat is the meat of the human animal.

By the way, "pink slime" is a movie reference too. Remember "The Green Slime"? That was back in the day when "green" seemed evil and gross. It was 1968, during that brief shining moment when American culture abounded with hippies, but the environmentalists had not yet arrived. I'm thinking of hippies, because I remember how "The Green Slime" was recommended to me at the time: "All the heads are seeing 'Green Slime.'"

Speaking of heads and reindulging in the green-or-pink slime of American pop culture in the 1960s, here's the bathroom scene from The Monkees movie "Head." Don't worry. It's a slime-free, meat-free bathroom, but don't open the medicine cabinet...

... and remember nobody ever lends money to a man with a sense of humor.

Absurd hyperventilating about Romney's not completely quick journey toward the GOP nomination.

I'm talking about stuff like this:
A Super Tuesday Nailbiter Puts Romney on His Heels

With a shockingly thin margin in Ohio, Mitt Romney has a shaky Super Tuesday and Rick Santorum claims a moral victory.
But then... that's the one I linked to. You can see why they do it. Sensationalism. It's embarrassing, but it's a way of life in the media.

IN THE COMMENTS: chickenlittle said:
I don't quite fathom the "put on his heels" idiom. Does it mean like making a dog heel? Does mean put on woman's heels? Or it is a "round heels" reference?
Romney said he wasn't going to set his hair on fire, and I don't think he's going to don stilettos. "Round heels" is an old-fashioned expression signifying women who are easy to tip over. Rush Limbaugh resurrected it in one of his Sandra Fluke rants last week. ("OK, so, she’s not a slut. She’s round-heeled.")

I don't think Romney is cooling his heels or taking to his heels or showing a clean pair of heels. He's certainly not hairy at the heel. ("The Colonel delivered himself of the opinion that Godfrey Burrows was slightly hairy at the heel, a pronouncement which baffled Poirot completely.")

And it's got nothing to do with that Marvin Gaye song "Sexual Heeling." (Arf!)

I think the relevant idiom the headline writer intended to approximate is: rock back on one's heels. I'm visualizing a comics version of Mitt Romney, dramatically angled backwards. Aw! In my mind's eye, he looks just like Dagwood. And Ann is Blondie. 

ADDED: For Dylan fans:
Take me on a trip upon your magic swirlin’ ship
My senses have been stripped, my hands can’t feel to grip
My toes too numb to step
Wait only for my boot heels to be wanderin’
Seen you turn the corner, seen your boot heels spark
Seen you in the daylight, and watched you in the dark

Well, the sword swallower, he comes up to you
And then he kneels
He crosses himself
And then he clicks his high heels

You have slayed me, you have made me
I got to laugh halfways off my heels
I got to know, babe, will you surround me?
So I can tell if I’m really real

March 6, 2012

At the Pug Café...

... you're so adorable.

"Hate to defend #RushLimbaugh but he apologized..."

"... liberals looking bad not accepting. Also hate intimidation by sponsor pullout," tweets Bill Maher.

Via Instapundit, who notes that Carbonite stock "set a new, and much lower, 52-week low today."

It's so lame of these companies to drop Rush after all the money they invested in building their reputation with people who like Rush. They had ongoing momentum from the accumulated advertising, and now they've nullified it. Where do they get the new customers? They've given in to people who are trying to win a political victory. Those people are happy about it, but are they going to buy that Carbonite stuff? I doubt it.

ADDED: Sarah Palin in Facebook:
Pres. Obama says he called Sandra Fluke because of his daughters. For the sake of everyone's daughter, why doesn't his super PAC return the $1 million he got from a rabid misogynist?
"Rabid misogynist" = Bill Maher (who called Sarah Palin a "cunt").

And, to show just how thick these interconnections really are: Instapundit is telling his readers that if they cancel their cable (to buy a Roku box), then "For added mischief, when you cancel cable, you can tell the company that it’s because of Bill Maher."

Obama says he doesn't want Malia and Sasha to be "attacked or called horrible names when they’re being good citizens."

Milking Flukegate.

"Photographers mistake 66-year-old Debbie Harry for Lindsay Lohan."

Great moments in pop-culture freakish aging.

One year ago today at the Wisconsin protests: Meade encountered the cleaning crew scraping stickers off the marble.

Some interesting video, in which Meade tries to figure out just how damaging the tape was. He's able to talk to a worker, but the supervisor intervenes and even lays his hands on Meade. (This is the same man who pleads guilty later in the year for a confrontation that occurs in July, in which a protester's balloon is popped.) There's also a woman who says (about Meade): "They're filming that really well and that's what everybody in America thinks this is about — how much work it is to clean up after us." So, covering the protests, also we covered the fear that the coverage was causing.

"You 'bout ready to go check out Super Tuesday?"


"I'm ready for Mitt to clinch everything in his large mitts... in his grasping paws, known as 'mitts.'"

Let's watch the Super Tuesday returns together. The excitement begins momentarily.

UPDATE 1: Romney wins Virginia and Vermont, and Gingrich wins Georgia.

UPDATE 2: Gingrich's speech was too much about himself. It seemed vain and wound-licking. Santorum conveyed real passion. I think he reaches into the hearts of the people who experience life as a moral trial. When he said our rights come not from government, but — as it says in the Declaration of Independence — from our Creator, it got a big cheer. That's something Americans really feel, and Santorum is that America. Mitt Romney did a nice job of looking lovingly at his wife Ann, as she ticked off a long list of people to thank. Romney then recited his speech, staying on-task, talking about the economy, pushing emphasis into his voice at the places where emotion belonged. He keeps up his smile, he seems to be a good man. Giving speeches is not his thing, but he's got to do it and he's committed to it.

UPDATE 3: Santorum has now won 3: Oklahoma, Tennessee, and North Dakota. 3 too for Romney: Virginia, Vermont, and Massachusetts.

UPDATE 4: CNN is explaining why Romney is going to pull ahead in Ohio. The later reporting counties — like Cleveland's — are big by population and strongly favor Romney.

UPDATE 5: Chris Wallace on Fox News says: "The biggest state that Romney won tonight is Georgia, because it allows Newt Gingrich to stay in the race and splits the anti-Romney vote."

UPDATE 6, at 10:15 Central Time: CNN hasn't called Ohio, but it seems to me that they've given out the answer: Romney will win, since the rural counties are all reported and the rest of the vote is coming from the more densely populated areas where Romney is strong. In fact, John King just said, "When you look at this map tonight, it is very hard — very hard, I would say, it's impossible, looking at the places that are still out now in the vote count tonight — for me to see a path for Senator Santorum to come back... I can't find a mathematical path for Senator Santorum to get back."

"We’re chopping off the head of LulzSec."

FBI news.

Via Metafilter:
THey should really make sad-face Guy Fawkes masks for occasions like this...

"You have commented on violence against men in advertising..."

"... and recently about Holdren's ad nuttiness," emails a reader. "I thought you might like the McDonald's Shamrock shake ad."

"As near as I can tell the overriding message is buy your crazy wife a Shamrock Shake and she will blow you."

You... or a leprechaun.

Have you heard about the Online Underground-high-speed Railroad System or OURS and the Fugitive Non-Human Commodity Act?

If so, you've been reading the Isthmus forum discussion that began with Jason Joyce asking what Rick Santorum could have meant by the "grave moral wrong" of birth control. Kenneth Burns responded with the conventional snark: "It's that every sperm is sacred." Meade said:
How do you define "birth control", Jason? Does abortion qualify as birth control? How about late-term abortion? (You can google "late term abortion" and watch a video of one if you don't know what that is.)
That was inflammatory and distracting, but it highlighted the limit built into the term "contraception" that's missing from "birth control."

Attacks on Meade follow, including some weird sexism. Somebody calls him "Lawrence Elizabeth Meade." That commenter drags me in — even though I've never commented at Isthmus: "What's Mrs. Althouse's medical history on the subject?" (Note the sexism of using "Mrs." on a woman who has kept her maiden name.)

It's really hard to get people to focus on the question, which demands that people who don't agree with Santorum put themselves inside his head and understand how he experiences the idea that birth control is gravely wrong. It's especially hard when you introduce the actual policy question of whether people who believe it's a grave moral wrong should pay into an insurance fund that reimburses people who use it. Does the involvement in moral wrong carry over to that indirect connection to it? I would have said no, but Meade made the analogy to slavery:

The misguided attack on Sandra Fluke continues, displaying irritating ignorance about women law students.

Robert Stacy McCain, I'm looking at you. Rush Limbaugh has apologized, but McCain bullies on:
Rather belatedly, we are becoming aware that this supposedly typical Georgetown coed is not very typical at all...
McCain links to a blog post from The College Politico, which begins:
Sandra Fluke is being sold by the left as something she’s not. Namely a random co-ed from Georgetown law who found herself mixed up in the latest front of the culture war who was simply looking to make sure needy women had access to birth control. That, of course, is not the case.

As many have already uncovered Sandra Fluke she is, in reality, a 30 year old long time liberal activist who enrolled at Georgetown with the express purpose of fighting for the school to pay for students’ birth control. She has been pushing for mandated coverage of contraceptives at Georgetown for at least three years...
Random co-ed?! She's a law student! I've been in law schools since 1978, and I've never heard female law students called "co-eds." What the hell is a co-ed? Even as a word for female undergraduates, it's like you're from 1931. Here's the original teenage heartthrob, Rudy Vallée, singing his great old college song, "Betty Co-ed":
Betty Co-ed has lips of red for Harvard,
Betty Co-ed has eyes of Yale's deep blue,
Betty Co-ed's a golden head for Princeton,
Her dress I guess is black for old Purdue!
I first learned the names of famous universities hearing that song on an LP of college songs that my parents had. The cover photo had rows of pretty girls each holding up a pennant with the name of a college on it.
Betty Co-ed's a smile for Pennsylvania,
Her heart is Dartmouth's treasure, so 'tis said,
Betty Co-ed is loved by every college boy,
But I'm the one who's loved by Betty Co-ed!
Here's the 1931 Max Fleischer film, featuring a Betty Boop prototype and Rudy Vallée saying "hi ho!" and starting a bouncing-ball singalong:

Now, Betty has a lot of boyfriends. Some may even call her a "slut." That was back in the day when a girl on campus caused quite a hubbub. Did Betty put out? What birth-control did Betty use? How much did it cost? Who paid? I don't know, but how many voters of today remember what college was like back when Rudy Vallée was making women swoon?

Now, Vallée's a fascinating character in the history of pop culture:
Vallée... was perhaps the first complete example of the 20th century mass media pop star. Flappers mobbed him wherever he went. His live appearances were usually sold out, and even if his singing could hardly be heard in those venues not yet equipped with the new electronic microphones, his screaming female fans went home happy if they had caught sight of his lips through the opening of the trademark megaphone he sang through.
Vallee had a gentle voice:
Vallée became the most prominent and, arguably, the first of a new style of popular singer, the crooner. Previously, popular singers needed strong projecting voices to fill theaters in the days before the electric microphone. Crooners had soft voices that were well suited to the intimacy of the new medium of the radio.
Ah, the radio! You can't sound too harsh on the radio, especially when you're pouring your sounds into the ears of women. I know one older woman who, finding Rush too harsh, has moved on Bill Bennett, who seems caring.

But back to my point: co-ed.  This is an old-fashioned label to stick on a woman, and it shouldn't be used anymore even to apply to undergraduates. But you just sound ignorant to call a female law student a "co-ed." And that ignorance continues with this talk of Sandra Fluke not being "a random co-ed." None of the students at an elite law school like Georgetown are "random." There's an elaborate, multi-factored admissions process, and it specifically looks for applicants who aren't coming straight from college but have taken time and shown engagement with social and political issues.

A "30 year old long time liberal activist" sounds exactly like the kind of person who would apply to law school and get accepted with enthusiasm, because the schools want students who will contribute to the classroom discussions about the things we talk about in law school, like sex discrimination. This is what classroom diversity means. And we want students who will take their law school education and use it different ways, especially in political activism. So what if Fluke "enrolled at Georgetown with the express purpose of fighting for the school to pay for students’ birth control"? I have no idea if that's why she selected Georgetown, but it's not a bad thing, it's not something law schools don't like, and it's not an unusual orientation for a law student to have.

McCain also tells us that Fluke has argued that it's sex discrimination for insurance not to cover "gender-reassignment" surgery. Sorry, this is typical law-journal material. Of course, an advocate in the category she belongs to would make arguments like this. Argue with these arguments all you want. But it doesn't make Sandra Fluke some nefarious pseudo law student. She sounds like a typical excellent law student at an elite law school.

Which is to say: the personal put-downs sound old-fashioned and sexist.

The right wing stepped in it with Fluke. Having stepped in it, they keep smushing around in it.

As a woman, as a law professor, as a woman law professor, I don't want to be seen anywhere near these guys. Could you start acting normal about women participating in public debate?

Now let's have a serious debate about insurance. Yeah. It's not much fun at all. But you've got to quit having your fun with women and sex — in this context! — or you are going to alienate more and more women voters — and men voters — every day. Good lord! It's super Tuesday. We should be talking about Mitt Romney, not Sandra Fluke. Yeah: Mitt Romney and insurance. Boring. Too bad.

"In Loss For Gay Couples, Celebrity Shrink Gets Mortgage Deduction Shrunk."

This Forbes article — via TaxProf — makes it look like gay couples are getting ripped off by the federal government. They can't be married for federal tax purposes, but they are treated as a single unit in being limited to deducting interest on only $1.1 million in mortgage debt. But if you read all the way to the end of the article, you'll see that the Tax Court was treating them the same as all other taxpayers who live together and jointly own property. That would include unmarried heterosexual couples, 2 friends living together without a sexual relationship, 2 sisters, a parent and child, etc. etc.

"Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery named 2012 Laboratory of the Year."

By R&D Magazine:
“It’s meant to help the nonscientists interact with both scientists and with the people who work in the building to facilitate our getting ideas from outside the walls of the scientific lab, and that’s a very unusual and extraordinary opportunity"...
We love the campus building, which is perfectly positioned at the midpoint of my walk to work. Not that I find myself interacting with scientists when I go there.

"Black students, especially boys, face much harsher discipline in public schools than other students..."

"... according to new data from the Department of Education."
One in five black boys and more than one in 10 black girls received an out-of-school suspension. Over all, black students were three and a half times as likely to be suspended or expelled than their white peers.

And in districts that reported expulsions under zero-tolerance policies, Hispanic and black students represent 45 percent of the student body, but 56 percent of those expelled under such policies.
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan characterized these findings as a "civil rights" problem, a violation of "the principle of equity at the heart of the American promise." But what is the real problem here? Is it believed that the teachers are racially prejudiced? Are there "white" (or middle class) standards of behavior that are used unfairly to judge and punish black children? Are there female standards of behavior that are used to judge boys?

These are very uncomfortable and disturbing statistics, and the solutions are far from clear. But certainly, you can't even out the numbers by going after white kids. There needs to be one set of rules and individuals must be treated as individuals, based on what they did. That's a "principle of equity" that cannot be abandoned.

But there are some subtleties here. For example, I suspect that teachers notice boy misbehavior and overlook the things girls do. I saw some outright sex discrimination in one class here in Madison, where the boys were all stamped as bad and disciplined as a group. The boys did act up in a way that annoyed the teacher. They bonded in a way the teacher perceived as ganglike, with their own culture and slang. Meanwhile, the girls had their culture, but it involved signals and looks, and things that perhaps the teacher saw as sweet and harmless and reasonably allied with the educational effort.

Also, here in liberal Madison, I was always astounded to attend an assembly and see the teachers singling out black kids for discipline. Didn't the teachers worry about how bad that looked? Presumably, they saw misbehavior, but something is seriously wrong, and the adults are responsible for conditions at school. You need discipline, but discipline has to work, and it shouldn't be sending a negative message to the rest of the children who see what is happening and draw their own conclusions.

One solution is to develop charter schools with different models of learning that are responsive to the needs of children who succumb to misbehavior in traditional schools. Here in Madison, there's the proposal for the Madison Prep school, but it has faced opposition. Teachers unions want unionized teachers. The ACLU will litigate if it's an all-boys school. Read the whole story at the link.

Bin Laden was not buried at sea.

According to Wikileaked documents, his body was brought to the United States on a CIA plane.

So we had this respectful burial at sea, which was intended to impress/mollify/appease whomever, and now it turns out it never happened. I think messages of respect can be meaningful, even if they are lies, but they must be believed. The messenger needs a reputation for honesty. And the exposure of one lie — especially one this big — makes all your other messages suspect.

Should Obama apologize? What's the point? It will not be believed.

IN THE COMMENTS: Many people don't like the way I've phrased this post. Traditional guy says: "this was a leak from a gossipy analysis done by Stratfor which is not a US Government entity but is a private seller of rumors."

And fleetusa said: "This is no longer on Drudge. Error? Internet Mischief?" I original got to the story I linked to through Drudge. It was the top story at Drudge an hour ago, with a photo of bin Laden. I wonder if someone in the administration asked/pressured Drudge to take it down. It is harmful to American interests. I wouldn't have posted if it hadn't been so conspicuously proclaimed on Drudge.

March 5, 2012

At the Late Winter Café...

... come on in here.

One year ago today at the Wisconsin protests: Solidarity for a while.

"2 men who had been at odds in an earlier video are now having a friendly chat, as 2 and then 3 women sing "Solidarity Forever," and then it's back to loud chant — 'Si Se Puede.'"

And: "[D]oes anyone have a good voice? Can anyone get the national anthem started? And if everyone sings the national anthem, will anyone sing the state song?"

"Spiders might soon give you goosebumps in a good way."

"Strands of spider silk have been used to make violin strings that have a unique and thrilling sound, thanks perhaps to the way the strands deform when twisted."

"Unknown animals are appearing all over the place you know, global warming and all that."

Wrote Chip Ahoy in the comments to last night's post "Fox news," about our sighting of a fox running across the frozen Lake Mendota. Chip added, "Still, whatever it is, clearly between wolves, coyotes, bobcats, and humans, it is bobcats that pose the greatest hazard to survival in the wild." He linked to this:

Now, Chip Ahoy is an amazingly great commenter. We are blessed with his exalted presence. But there was another commenter who impressed me greatly yesterday. It was Mr. Forward, who invented — as far as I can tell — a whole new commenting game. He wrote:
One year ago today at the Wisconsin protests, Fox News utters a bizarre sentence played over the years, "We can not afford to indulge this madness, everything Mark Twain wanted to eat when he arrived home at Meadhouse."

Apologize, atheists, accusing others of taking pills at the Snowhill Cafe. It's completely bizarre, a symbolic victory, one year ago today.
Do you get it? He's pasted together bits from my blog posts of the last few days into a fanciful vignette. I'd love to see more of these, I thought, and then I did. For there was Chip Ahoy, in the very next comment — 3 hours later, in the middle of the night — and he's all:

"[R]eferences to size, power or sexual potency (direct or implied) could be banned from automobile advertising."

According to a book co-authored by John P. Holdren, the White House science adviser to President Barack Obama.

(Via I Hate the Media.)

The Rush Limbaugh show is on in a few minutes. I'm live-blogging it.

11:06 CT: "I knew it was getting bad..." He got a busy signal trying to call himself to cancel his own advertising for his Two If By Tea product. He begins with a joke. Then gets serious. He's going to explain what the apology really means. And people haven't understood it. His error was "becoming like" his critics by using "those 2 words." He tries to "maintain a very high level of integrity," and those 2 words were "uncalled for... and I, again, sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke." He never thought she was "either of those 2 words." He never uses those words, he asserts, and by using those words "I descended to their level." If you descend to the level of your opponent, he says, "They win." "There was no ulterior motive... no speaking in code... That's why I apologized."

11:10: At this point, Limbaugh details the the time line of the controversy, beginning with Issa's hearing. "Democrats tried to play a game" with that hearing. The hearing was originally not about contraception, but because Obama has a problem with women voters, Democrats decided to make the hearing about contraception and therefore to replace their male witness with the female Sandra Fluke (in violation of the committee's rules), Limbaugh said. This led to the spectacle of Fluke's exclusion, and then the Democrats' subcommittee staged testimony with Fluke, which, Rush asserts, showed her not to be the kind of expert who belonged on Issa's panel. Fluke "gave vague examples based on unnamed friends."

11:18: Georgetown is a Catholic University, Limbaugh says. Fluke didn't need to choose to attend that institution. "Why are you really there? Actually, they know what they're doing. They intentionally" choose institutions like this in order to work within them, trying to change them, he says. And Obama is trying to force these institutions to pay for birth control, over their moral objections. And the Democrats used Fluke to advance their agenda, he says. He wishes he'd said that last week. He focused on the idea of her having frequent sex because he's trying to be entertaining and it was relatively easy to do. That was the wrong focus. "I acted too much like the leftists who despise me.... It's way beneath me. It was wrong. I apologize — because I succumbed."

11:27: "The left... the media... giddy that some advertisers are leaving the program." But these advertisers have "done very well" through using his show to reach his audience. "They've decided they don't want you.... This show is about you, not the advertisers." He knows he's successful because of the listeners.

11:33: Intro music to this next segment is "Higher Ground." The previous segment began with "She Bop." Rush says he rejects millions of dollars in advertising because he puts the audience above the advertisers. He rejected GM, he says.

11:35: "The advertisers who don't want you — fine, we'll replace them." He criticizes those "on the left" who pressured the advertisers. That's not something he and his people do.

11:37: "I'm not waiting for apologizing from people on the left" who say "despicable" things. He mentions Bill Maher and Sarah Palin. "Don't expect apologies." He's portraying himself as on a higher level — "Higher Ground" — than his critics. He apologizes (for sinking to their level), and they don't apologize (it's their level). And they don't respect you, the people who make up his audience, who mean so much to him.

11:38: He quotes Tocqueville: "It is indeed difficult to imagine how men who have entirely renounced the habit of managing their own affairs could be successful in choosing those who ought to lead them. It is impossible to believe that a liberal, energetic, and wise government can ever emerge from the ballots of a nation of servants." That sets up a more general attack on Obama and the Democrats.

11:52: I won't live-blog all 3 hours of the show, but I'll listen to the rest on podcast later. To sum up:
1. Rush emphasized his high values and his apology for falling from them.

2. He characterized the left as consistently behaving at the level that he unfortunately descended to and as never apologizing for that behavior.

3. He wishes he'd emphasized what really matters, which is how the Democrats played Issa's committee to try to help Obama with his problem appealing to women voters. [ADDED: I note that he helped the Dems win at this game.]

4. He loves his listeners and does the show for them, not the advertisers, of whom he has plenty champing at the bit to get onto the program.

"Slut meant female dog once too."

Comments rhhardin, in the "What exactly did Rush Limbaugh apologize for?" post, below. That made me look up "slut" in the Online Etymology Dictionary:

c.1400, "a dirty, slovenly, or untidy woman," probably cognate with dialectal Ger. Schlutt "slovenly woman," dialectal Swed. slata "idle woman, slut," and Du. slodder "slut," but the ultimate origin is doubtful. Chaucer uses sluttish (late 14c.) in reference to the appearance of an untidy man. Also "a kitchen maid, a drudge" (mid-15c.; hard pieces in a bread loaf from imperfect kneading were called slut's pennies, 18c.). Meaning "woman of loose character, bold hussy" is attested from mid-15c.; playful use of the word, without implication of loose morals, is attested from 1660s.
Our little girl Susan is a most admirable slut, and pleases us mightily. [Pepys, diary, Feb. 21, 1664]
Sometimes used 19c. as a euphemism for bitch to describe a female dog. There is a group of North Sea Germanic words in sl- that mean "sloppy," and also "slovenly woman," and that tend to evolve toward "woman of loose morals" (cf. slattern, also English dial. slummock "a dirty, untidy, or slovenly person," 1861; M.Du. slore "a sluttish woman").
What provoked rh to talk about the bitch/slut connection was Richard Lawrence Cohen saying:
Is Fluke going to sue, or is she suing, this son of a bitch for defamation? I would think it's defamation per se.
Which prompted me to say:
Is Limbaugh's mother going to sue you for calling her a dog? She's clearly not a dog.