March 17, 2012

"Have academics really become so political that we are now required to write partisan pamphlets rather than scholarly treatises?"

Scott Douglas Gerber, commenting on the reaction he got to his book "First Principles: The Jurisprudence of Clarence Thomas."
[H]e received a note from a friend who wrote, “I think it is a very worthwhile venture, but one fraught with potential problems.”

"'What potential problems could there be?’ I asked myself upon reading this," Gerber said. "Has academia come to this? Have academics really become so political that we are now required to write partisan pamphlets rather than scholarly treatises? Note that this does not mean I am supporting Clarence Thomas; it does mean, however, that I am not against him."
By the way, I can't find Gerber's book on Amazon or in the iTunes bookstore. My Amazon search for the title turned up a bunch of mismatches, led by "Original Sin: Clarence Thomas and the Failure of the Constitutional Conservatives." Hmmm. [ADDED: The article at the link got the title of the book wrong, and Amazon's search tool isn't good at guessing its way around problems like that. Here's the book, which is called "First Principles," not "Founding Principles." Unfortunately, you can't get it in ebook form.]

Anyway, as the first link above shows, Clarence Thomas marks his 20th year on the Supreme Court this year. Oh, to have been blogging then!
Thomas’ critics strove to mischaracterize his views about the Declaration of Independence during his nomination process in 1991, according to Gerber.

“For example, Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Tribe wrote in a scathing “New York Times” op-ed that Thomas would use the Declaration to turn back the clock to the darkest days of the nation’s history. Quoting Tribe: ‘Most conservatives criticize the judiciary for expanding its powers, creating rights rather than interpreting the constitution. Thomas, judging from his speeches and scholarly writings, seems instead to believe judges should enforce the founders’ natural law philosophy… which he maintains is revealed most completely in the Declaration of Independence. He is the first Supreme Court nominee in 50 years to maintain that natural law should be readily consulted in constitutional interpretation.’

“What critics such as Tribe fail to appreciate was that Thomas was articulating the standard individual rights interpretation of the Declaration, an interpretation shared by Jefferson, Lincoln and Rev. [Martin Luther] King Jr.,” Gerber said. “To secure these rights, the Declaration proclaims, governments are instituted among men.”
Here's that Tribe op-ed in its natural habitat. If only blogging had been around back then, what would we lawprof bloggers have said? It's nice to have Gerber's book — except that it's impossible to get (in the sense that I can't download it into my computer right now. I do have a library!). But the ability to blog these things in real time is something that we now see as an essential check on liberal media. It's frightening in retrospect to think of the one-sided manipulations we simply endured back then.

I'll write a law review article — perhaps one thought — and it might come out in less than a year, if I'm lucky. Oh, but what if the law reviews are looking for "partisan pamphlets"?

Conservatives were boxed in, and blogging opened the box.

"8% Rate St. Patrick’s Day As An Important Holiday."

Says Rasmussen.

Chez Meadhouse, we rate St. Patrick's Day as in important birthday.

Happy birthday, John.

Santorum lost his last Senate race by 17.4 percentage points — "the biggest for any incumbent senator in Pennsylvania since at least the Civil War."

"That eyepopping margin is the chief reason that few people took Mr. Santorum seriously last year when he started running for president."
Mr. Santorum says he was caught in “a meltdown year” for Republicans...
It was 2006.
But if the climate was harsh, Mr. Santorum was part of it. Always brash, he had become a more rancorous figure since he last faced the voters in 2000. He was No. 3 in his party’s leadership and responsible for its messaging, which often meant either defending Mr. Bush or going on the attack.

And he took high-visibility roles on divisive issues, including abortion, homosexuality and the right-to-die case of Terri Schiavo....
The voters to whom he is appealing this year — mainly conservatives and evangelical Christians — are the same core voters he appealed to in Pennsylvania. But in 2006, they were a minority in the state’s general election; now they dominate the Republican primaries. And they are drawn to Mr. Santorum’s moral certitude, his fire-and-brimstone passion, his pugilistic posture of never giving up and never giving in.

"Kony 2012" was viral video. That was one hell of a virus.

"Local police say that Jason Russell, the 33-year-old co-founder of Invisible Children, appeared to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol when he was found by officers 'in his underwear' allegedly vandalizing cars and masturbating in public..."

Quite a symptom.
Russell is one of the founders of the San Diego-based nonprofit behind Kony 2012, a documentary film about Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony and his Lord's Resistance Army. Invisible Children had been trying for years to focus the world's attention on Kony—who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for enlisting child soldiers, among other crimes against humanity—but, after it struck viral gold, the group came under increased scrutiny for how the film portrayed the situation on the ground and how the nonprofit group spent its money.

How did the jury find Dharun Ravi guilty of "bias intimidation"?

Ravi had spied on his Rutgers College roommate, Tyler Clementi, who proceeded to jump off the George Washington Bridge:
“It was pretty hard to think about Tyler, because he wasn’t present to give his thoughts,” said Kashad Leverett, 20, of South Amboy, N.J., after he and 11 other jurors delivered a guilty verdict on all charges, including invasion of privacy and bias intimidation, on Friday. “But in the evidence that was provided, it showed that he believed he was being intimidated because of his sexual orientation.”...
Clementi believed. But how does that reflect on Ravi?
The bias intimidation charges were the most difficult to agree upon, jurors said. And what tipped the scales there, they said, was that Mr. Ravi had discussed spying on Mr. Clementi not just once, but repeatedly, even inviting his online friends to watch Mr. Clementi and the other man in a second encounter.

That, said Ms. Audet, is what elevated the case from one of teenagers behaving cruelly and insensitively to a crime.

“To attempt a second time, is what changed my mind,” she said. “A reasonable person would have closed it and ended it there, not tweeted about it.”
Cruel and unreasonable, but why is it bias intimidation?
An important component of the bias intimidation charges was whether Mr. Clementi felt bullied. Jurors said he left ample evidence that he did: he complained to his resident assistant, he went online to request a room change, he saved screen shots of Mr. Ravi’s more offensive online posts, and he viewed his roommate’s Twitter feed 38 times in the two days before he killed himself by jumping off the George Washington Bridge.

“We’ll never know exactly what he was feeling,” Ms. Audet said. “I can only assume.”
Obviously, Clementi could not be cross-examined.
Mr. Ravi’s lawyer pointed to apologetic texts that Mr. Ravi sent Mr. Clementi, in which he said he had no problem with homosexuality and even had a close friend who was gay....

Mr. Leverett, a student and Twitter user himself, was unmoved. “I can’t speak for everyone on the jury, but me, personally, I believe it was something where he realized what he did was wrong, and it was just too late to amend for what he did.”

Of the apology, Ms. Audet said: “My first impression was to believe what he said. Then, as we started reading stuff, we found things in there that I interpreted more as covering. The friend he claimed was a good friend in high school, that person was never presented as a defense witness. If that person had come forward and said, ‘Hey, we’ve been good friends, and he knows I’m gay and he doesn’t have a problem with it,’ that might have swayed me in the other direction.”
That sounds like Ravi was found guilty because he couldn't disprove a motivation that was inferred based on Clementi's subjective perception. And yet the defense was deprived of much of the evidence of Clementi's subjective state of mind. Emily Bazelon writes:
The suicide note he left behind, along with three Word documents with telltale names—“Gah.docx,” “sorry.docx,” and “Why is everything so painful.docx”—weren’t turned over to the defense or made public. (According to the judge, they weren’t directly relevant to the case against Ravi.)
Not directly relevant? But indirection, coming from Clementi, is what convicted Ravi.

In an earlier article, before the conviction, Bazelon wrote:
If I was on that jury..., I’d want to know what he has to say for himself all these months later. How should we think about the spying from his point of view? Ravi has said he was concerned about M.B.’s scruffy appearance because he’d left his iPad in his room. Maybe, but it’s pretty unconvincing that’s the entire explanation. He was clearly both freaked out and titillated by the idea that gay sex was going on in his bedroom. And if that’s an understandable reaction from an 18-year-old, I’d like to hear Ravi parse out why in his own words.
That sounds like a presumption of guilt, based on a failure of the defendant to testify. Do the liberal values about the rights of the accused evaporate when there's an opportunity to take a stand against homophobia?

Bazelon doesn't mention it, but the "scruffy" M.B. was a 32-year-old man. I could see being freaked out that a scruffy, much older man kept coming to your dorm room to have sex with your roommate, whether the sex was gay or straight. It wasn't just gay sex in the abstract, but a particular sexual situation, involving a specific person who really did not belong in Ravi's private space.

And what did that that specific person, M.B., have to do with the suicide, the suicide that inflamed the jury with pity? Shouldn't the jury have read the suicide note and “Gah.docx,” “sorry.docx,” and “Why is everything so painful.docx”? But the judge excluded that evidence.


Rosie O’Donnell's TV show was just canceled.

Did you even know she had one? Yes, it was on the "little-watched" Oprah Winfrey network. It was little-watched on the little-watched network.

March 16, 2012

At the Late Winter Café...

... I'm in a good mood.

Wait. Why is this article in the "Fashion and Style" section?

In the NYT: "Where is the next Gloria Steinem, and why — decades after the media spotlight first focused on her — has no one emerged to take her place?"

I mean, I was going to say: After all these years and all of the accomplishments of the women's movement, why do we need another Gloria Steinem?

Then I saw that they put this article in the "Fashion and Style" section, and I was all... hmmmm.

Quite aside from all that, the notion that Steinem was the icon of feminism... that's not the way I experienced history. I remember when Ms. Magazine first came out: It was a glossy magazine aimed at middle-class women. And in the 1980s, the academic feminists I knew didn't think much of Gloria Steinem. But she's been around a long time as an important media figure, specializing in an area where a lot has happened. That's something. It's significant, but not crucial.

"I have difficult news," says Ira Glass.

Ira Glass, of the much-acclaimed Public Radio show "This American Life":
We've learned that Mike Daisey's story about Apple in China - which we broadcast in January - contained significant fabrications. We're retracting the story because we can’t vouch for its truth. This is not a story we commissioned. It was an excerpt of Mike Daisey's acclaimed one-man show "The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs," in which he talks about visiting a factory in China that makes iPhones and other Apple products.
The NYT also must retract:
Some of Mr. Daisey’s stories about Foxconn were also included in an online-only Op-Ed article that he wrote for The New York Times last October. He wrote, “I have traveled to southern China and interviewed workers employed in the production of electronics. I spoke with a man whose right hand was permanently curled into a claw from being smashed in a metal press at Foxconn, where he worked assembling Apple laptops and iPads. I showed him my iPad, and he gasped because he’d never seen one turned on. He stroked the screen and marveled at the icons sliding back and forth, the Apple attention to detail in every pixel. He told my translator, ‘It’s a kind of magic.’ ”

According to Mr. Schmitz, the translator said that did not happen. On Friday afternoon, The Times added an editors’ note to the Op-Ed article that reads: “Questions have been raised about the truth of a paragraph in the original version of this article that purported to talk about conditions at Apple’s factory in China. That paragraph has been removed from this version of the article.”

One year ago today at the Wisconsin protests: Althouse goes on Fox News.

To talk about some video I shot.

And Meade shot some of my favorite video from the entire protest season: the guy with the bullhorn calling out "G-g-g-g-governor Goofy."

"The Wisconsin Judicial Commission filed formal ethics allegations Friday against Justice David Prosser..."

At long last, we hear from the Judicial Commission about the infamous "chokehold" incident:
Prosser issued a statement Friday criticizing the Judicial Commission's complaint, suggesting it is politically motivated. He said the commission is "trying to accomplish through this prosecution what some of its members failed to achieve at the ballot box."

"The charges filed by the Judicial Commission are partisan, unreasonable, and largely untrue," Prosser said in a statement. "They will be vigorously contested because I am innocent."...

"This is not about whether Justice Prosser is a good or bad guy," said Franklyn Gimbel, a prominent Milwaukee lawyer who was hired as special prosecutor by the Judicial Commission for this case. "This is not about whether Justice Prosser is a good or bad judge. This is not about his judicial philosophies. It is about whether or not his behavior on June 13, 2011, was violative of the ethical requirements for a judge."
We've talked about this incident many times on this blog:

August 26, 2011: "There never was a "chokehold" in the Wisconsin Supreme Court — so who put that word out there and why?"

August 26, 2011: "I've finally waded through the 'chokehold' investigation file."

August 29, 2011: "The special prosecutor said no criminal charges, but what will the Wisconsin Judicial Commission do about the 'chokehold' incident?"

"And... that is the secret of happiness and virtue — liking what you've got to do."

"All conditioning aims at that: making people like their inescapable social destiny."

The Director said sententiously.

A quote, IM'd from Meade, who's been reading my blog this morning. We share a Kindle account, so he can search for "happiness" in the same books on his iPad that I've got on mine.

He sends 2 more from the same book:

1. "You've got to choose between happiness and what people used to call high art."

2. "Alpha children wear grey. They work much harder than we do, because they're so frightfully clever. I'm awfully glad I'm a Beta, because I don't work so hard. And then we are much better than the Gammas and Deltas. Gammas are stupid. They all wear green, and Delta children wear khaki. Oh no, I don't want to play with Delta children. And Epsilons are still worse. They're too stupid to be able to read or write. Besides they wear black, which is such a beastly color. I'm so glad I'm a Beta."

"I have told myself a hundred times that I would be happy if I were as stupid as my neighbor, and yet I would want no part of that kind of happiness."

"But yet, upon reflection, it seems that to prefer reason to happiness is to be quite insane."

"I broke my theme. Something made me laugh."

And Meade says: "Then you didn't break your theme. Something made you laugh. Something made you happy. Something made you smile."

"Santorum Promises Broad War on Porn."

Broad War?

Look, I know there's a war on women, but whose side are the women on, and weren't they originally provoked by a sexist epithet?

"5 Things You Think Will Make You Happy (But Won't)."

You already know what they are going to be, don't you? It's interesting to be able to think something while simultaneously knowing the opposite.

Perhaps that's a capacity that will make you happy.  And that might explain this.

"Happiness is more like knowledge than like belief."

"There are lots of things we believe but don’t know. Knowledge is not just up to you, it requires the cooperation of the world beyond you — you might be mistaken. Still, even if you’re mistaken, you believe what you believe. Pleasure is like belief that way. But happiness isn’t just up to you. It also requires the cooperation of the world beyond you. Happiness, like knowledge, and unlike belief and pleasure, is not a state of mind."

Writes David Sosa, whose field is philosophy.

"A large Gallup poll has found that by almost any measure, people get happier as they get older..."

"The telephone survey, carried out in 2008, covered more than 340,000 people nationwide, ages 18 to 85..."
On the global measure, people start out at age 18 feeling pretty good about themselves, and then, apparently, life begins to throw curve balls. They feel worse and worse until they hit 50. At that point, there is a sharp reversal, and people keep getting happier as they age. By the time they are 85, they are even more satisfied with themselves than they were at 18.

In measuring immediate well-being — yesterday’s emotional state — the researchers found that stress declines from age 22 onward, reaching its lowest point at 85. Worry stays fairly steady until 50, then sharply drops off. Anger decreases steadily from 18 on, and sadness rises to a peak at 50, declines to 73, then rises slightly again to 85. Enjoyment and happiness have similar curves: they both decrease gradually until we hit 50, rise steadily for the next 25 years, and then decline very slightly at the end, but they never again reach the low point of our early 50s.

"The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness."

"By many objective measures the lives of women in the United States have improved over the past 35 years, yet we show that measures of subjective well-being indicate that women's happiness has declined both absolutely and relative to men. The paradox of women's declining relative well-being is found across various datasets, measures of subjective well-being, and is pervasive across demographic groups and industrialized countries. Relative declines in female happiness have eroded a gender gap in happiness in which women in the 1970s typically reported higher subjective well-being than did men. These declines have continued and a new gender gap is emerging — one with higher subjective well-being for men."

Synopsis of a paper by Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers, linked by Ross Douthat, who says:
It’s true that for all its socioeconomic costs, the decline of marriage hasn’t led to immiseration and upheaval on a grand scale. But at the very least, it’s been associated with a growing happiness gap between the well-educated and the poor... and a decline in female happiness overall. Which suggests that even if we bracket the interests of children entirely and just focus on parents, there’s a strong case that both sexes would be better off if working-class women demanded more of the men in their lives and working-class men demanded more of themselves.

"Romney's Religion of Happiness vs. Gingrich's Religion of Grievance."

A Sarah Posner headline over at Religion Dispatches. Excerpt:
In talking about the Declaration of Independence at a campaign rally..., Mitt Romney emphasized pursuit of happiness. Gingrich, on the other hand, has been emphasizing the "life, liberty" part—as in how the "secular left" wants to take yours away.

Romney wants you to be happy. Gingrich wants you to be aggrieved. Romney doesn't mention religion. Gingrich wants you to think the "secular left" is robbing you of yours. The supposed deprivation of religious freedom is a central facet of Gingrich's attempt to win the religious right vote....

"I think he showed me a cover of a magazine that said 'Happiness Is a Warm Gun.'"

"It was a gun magazine. I just thought it was a fantastic, insane thing to say. A warm gun means you just shot something."
The reference, whether or not intermediately from the magazine, was one of many 1960s riffs on Charles M. Schulz's culturally popular saying, Happiness is a Warm Puppy, which began in the Peanuts comic strip and became a widely sold book.
We've all heard the Beatles song. (It's my longtime personal favorite.) But have you read "Happiness is a Warm Puppy"?

It's a slight book, writes Alan David Doane:
There are perhaps 40 or so concepts visited by Schulz over the course of its orange, pink, red and brown pages, and of course the reader will agree with some and wonder at others. "Happiness is sleeping in your own bed," is one that rings solidly true for me...

"Happiness is some black, orange, yellow, white and pink jelly beans, but no green ones," seems bizarre to me....

"Happiness is one thing to one person and another thing to another person," Schulz finishes up with, showing Linus and Lucy each enjoying their own, separate, things.

"Does Rick Santorum hate freedom and happiness?"

Asks a WaPo blogger (Allen McDuffee), after reading what Cato Institute Executive Vice President David Boaz said:
[Santorum] criticizes the pursuit of happiness! He says, “This is the mantra of the left: I have a right to do what I want to do” and “We have a whole culture that is focused on immediate gratification and the pursuit of happiness ... and it is harming America.” And then he says that what the Founders meant by happiness was “to do the morally right thing.” He really doesn’t like the idea of America as a free society, where adults make their own decisions and sometimes make choices that Santorum disapproves.

The Happiness Bank.

"If you've got a moment of Happiness you don't want to lose - then sign up with me and get it registered while it's still fresh - securing it forever for a future rainy day."


"Psychologist Martin Seligman provides the acronym PERMA to summarize Positive Psychology's correlational findings: humans seem happiest when they have":
  1. Pleasure (tasty foods, warm baths, etc.),
  2. Engagement (or flow, the absorption of an enjoyed yet challenging activity),
  3. Relationships (social ties have turned out to be extremely reliable indicator of happiness),
  4. Meaning (a perceived quest or belonging to something bigger), and
  5. Accomplishments (having realized tangible goals).

"Is there a happiness mantra or motto that you’ve found very helpful?"

"Years ago, when I was researching an article on research into stress, one social scientist passed on a simple tip: 'At some point every day, you have to say, "No more work."' No matter how many tasks remain undone, you have to relax at some point and enjoy the evening."

"Happy people rarely correct their faults..."

"... they consider themselves vindicated, since fortune endorses their evil ways.

Le Duc de La Rochefoucauld, Maxims.

"There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy."

"By being happy, we sow anonymous benefits upon the world, which remain unknown even to ourselves, or when they are disclosed, surprise nobody so much as the benefactor. The other day, a ragged, barefoot boy ran down the street after a marble, with so jolly an air that he set every one he passed into a good humour; one of these persons, who had been delivered from more than usually black thoughts, stopped the little fellow and gave him some money with this remark: 'You see what sometimes comes of looking pleased.' If he had looked pleased before, he had now to look both pleased and mystified. For my part, I justify this encouragement of smiling rather than tearful children; I do not wish to pay for tears anywhere but upon the stage; but I am prepared to deal largely in the opposite commodity. A happy man or woman is a better thing to find than a five-pound note. He or she is a radiating focus of goodwill; and their entrance into a room is as though another candle had been lighted. We need not care whether they could prove the forty-seventh proposition; they do a better thing than that, they practically demonstrate the great Theorem of the Liveableness of Life. Consequently, if a person cannot be happy without remaining idle, idle he should remain. It is a revolutionary precept; but thanks to hunger and the workhouse, one not easily to be abused; and within practical limits, it is one of the most incontestable truths in the whole Body of Morality. Look at one of your industrious fellows for a moment, I beseech you. He sows hurry and reaps indigestion; he puts a vast deal of activity out to interest, and receives a large measure of nervous derangement in return. Either he absents himself entirely from all fellowship, and lives a recluse in a garret, with carpet slippers and a leaden inkpot; or he comes among people swiftly and bitterly, in a contraction of his whole nervous system, to discharge some temper before he returns to work. I do not care how much or how well he works, this fellow is an evil feature in other people’s lives. They would be happier if he were dead. They could easier do without his services in the Circumlocution Office, than they can tolerate his fractious spirits. He poisons life at the well-head. It is better to be beggared out of hand by a scapegrace nephew, than daily hag-ridden by a peevish uncle."

Robert Louis Stevenson, An Apology for Idlers (pp. 10-12). Penguin UK. Kindle Edition.

March 15, 2012

At the Daffodil Café...

... we're just getting started.

One year ago today at the Wisconsin protests: "Hang them all!"

Some people are sick of politics.

The Marion County Election Board finds Sen. Richard Lugar ineligible to vote in his erstwhile home distict.

The vote was 2-1, with the two Democrats on the board deciding that Lugar, a Republican, has abandoned his residence to go live in Washington, where he has been serving in the Senate.

Hey, you need a real address in the state. He had a house, and he sold it.

"The Obama administration has blocked Texas’ new law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls..."

"... saying it would suppress Hispanic voter turnout, and the United Nations is now investigating the fairness of such laws in Texas and other states."
But voters in this country still overwhelmingly support voter ID laws and don’t think they discriminate.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 72% of Likely U.S. Voters believe voters should be required to show photo identification such as a driver’s license before being allowed to vote.

"Slaughterhouses are so filthy that more than half of all meat is contaminated with fecal bacteria."

The message on the toilet paper supplied — by PETA — to the city of Trenton, which, in a budget crunch, was running out.

"While my faith in things has sometimes been challenged, I still believe this is America..."

"... this is a country that is governed by the rule of law; that the truth ultimately will prevail."

"I will not make you a slave, you will live in my 200 story castle where unicorn servants will feed you doughnuts off their horns."

You are "'more awesome than a monkey wearing a tuxedo made out of bacon riding a cyborg unicorn with a lightsaber for the horn on the tip of a space shuttle closing in on Mars, while engulfed in flames."


Massive collapse at the White Cliffs of Dover.

"Kristin Chenoweth Defends GCB from Newt Gingrich Attacks: 'Don't Talk About My Show!'"

Sometimes the political news just seems way too specific.

But, okay, Kristin, you adorable little gnome, bounce your TV show PR off the Republican Party's not-so-adorable big gnome.

Why did Mitt Romney say "Planned Parenthood, we're going to get rid of that"?

I saw that he said that because I just got a fundraising email from Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chair of the Democratic National Committee which begins:
Here's Mitt Romney's proposal for reducing the deficit, according to an interview he gave yesterday:

"Planned Parenthood, we're going to get rid of that."

That's right, he said he'd get rid of Planned Parenthood -- the more than 90-year-old organization that one in five American women has depended on for health care, and that for many women is their only option for cancer screenings, clinical breast exams, and critical preventive care. Apparently, we can't afford it.

Here's what he says we can afford: Protecting and expanding tax cuts for the wealthy, and "that includes the top 1 percent."

Mitt Romney's actually willing to cut off women's access to health care to help fund tax benefits for millionaires and billionaires.

If you had any doubts that these attacks are real, or think they're just a side effect from a nasty GOP primary season, consider this a reality check.
I'm urged to donate to the Democratic Party "to fight back against Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and every Republican in Congress who repeatedly thinks a woman's health is their chip to barter."

I looked up the quote to put it in context. Of course, Romney wasn't talking about hurting Planned Parenthood in any way other than cutting funding:
As for ways to reduce debt, he suggests a few cuts.

"The test is pretty simple. Is the program so critical, it's worth borrowing money from [C]hina to pay for it? And on that basis of course you get rid of Obamacare, that's the easy one. Planned Parenthood, we're going to get rid of that. The subsidy for Amtrak, I'd eliminate that. The National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities," he said.
There you have it. Make of it what you will. The lines are being drawn. Do you want these institutions starved?

"Lucy Bickerton... sued the hightone chatterbox... claiming she worked like a dog, but got stiffed on the pay."

The "hightone chatterbox" — I love The Daily News! — is Charlie Rose.
She says she toiled away 25 hours a week from June to August 2007, researching for the host, putting press packets together, escorting the guests and cleaning up after the show....

State law prohibits unpaid interns unless they are being trained and not performing in place of paid employees....

“Central to the show’s lean production are the substantial number of unpaid interns who work on The Charlie Rose Show each day, but are paid no wages,” Bickerton charges in the suit.
Rose has been running his lean operation with "at least 10 interns doing his bidding," and Bickerton's suit is a class action.

I feel the urge to connect this to the recent uproar over Rush Limbaugh. Liberals are trying to destroy Limbaugh by attacking him for his failure to live up to principles that could be characterized as either liberal or conservative. (Treating women with special respect — is that a feminist or a traditional-values notion?) Now, here's a way to attack the liberal icon Charlie Rose, using what I think are mostly liberal principles: minimum wage, equal pay for equal work, and government-imposed rules about labor relations. Also: ensuring that the children of the wealthy don't get special advantages. (They're the ones that can afford to begin their careers with nonpaying internships.) I assume libertarians and conservatives don't worry about free citizens freely choosing to work for free.

But you can't really compare Charlie Rose to Rush Limbaugh. There's no fun in bringing down Charlie Rose, and, anyway, conservatives aren't salivating at the opportunity to destroy a voice on the left, are they? Just let him keep talking, keep competing in the marketplace of ideas. Let him keep producing audio sound bites for Rush to ridicule.

"Merrimac Ferry opens a month early."

"The outrageously warm mid-March weather has allowed for a 170-year Wisconsin tradition to start a month early."

If this is global warming, I'm sorry, but... there will be winners and losers. It's indelicate to say that, but there it is.

"But there’s something almost otherwordly about how good this screen is."

"For rendered text or high-resolution images, it just looks like a glowing piece of paper."

March 14, 2012

One year ago today at the Wisconsin protests: Teachers bring little children to the Capitol to chant.

"What will you do if they learn the lesson you're teaching them, to denounce legitimate authority when it crosses your heartfelt interests?"

I wrote that quote (to go with a bit of video that caused quite a stir... even got picked up by Fox News).

This quote is by someone else — one "Mrs. Slob, RN" — and appears on a sign: "Dear Scott Walker, Go back to college & take a Civics class. The only brain in your pants, is your Head Up Your Ass! Sincerely, Mrs. Slob, RN."

The guest book at the Capitol includes:
"Jesus Christ/I am a Democrat."

Bad "Luck."

A third horse dies, and the HBO show is canceled.

Greg Smith is leaving Goldman Sachs because it "makes me ill how callously people talk about ripping their clients off."

He writes, in a NYT op-ed:
Over the last 12 months I have seen five different managing directors refer to their own clients as “muppets,” sometimes over internal e-mail. Even after the S.E.C., Fabulous Fab, Abacus, God’s work, Carl Levin, Vampire Squids? No humility? I mean, come on. Integrity? It is eroding. I don’t know of any illegal behavior, but will people push the envelope and pitch lucrative and complicated products to clients even if they are not the simplest investments or the ones most directly aligned with the client’s goals? Absolutely. Every day, in fact.

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that the junior analyst sitting quietly in the corner of the room hearing about “muppets,” “ripping eyeballs out” and “getting paid” doesn’t exactly turn into a model citizen.
Here's a follow-up article in the NYT:
Mr. Smith’s criticism, much more than stories about bonuses or brickbats from the likes of Occupy Wall Street, could be especially painful for Wall Street now.

Wall Street, of course, has always sought profits — but if greed were to be countenanced, it should be long-term greed, not short-term greed, in the words of Gus Levy, who led Goldman Sachs in the 1960s and ’70s. With long-term greed, money was made with clients, not from them. 

50 years ago, in a standup comedy routine, Woody Allen sketched out the idea...

... that would become the much-loved 2011 movie "Midnight in Paris":

(Via Kyle Buchanan.)

Colleges are asking incoming students to declare their sexual orientation.

"Sexual orientation is a part of diversity and cannot be ignored, said Robert Anderson, chair of the Academic Senate of the University of California system.

It's for their own good. The university has services it wants to provide. All the government's intrusions into your private life are for your own good. You will be given what is good for you, so come on now, tell us all about everything.

ADDED: When I started college, at the University of Michigan in 1969, the freshman were all given a test — various multiple choice questions — and it produced a number of different scores, one of which was not revealed to the students (although we figured out the code and were able to read our scores). This score purported to place everyone on a spectrum from very masculine to very feminine, and perhaps the authorities imagined that they could identify the homosexuals.

What were the questions? — you may wonder. Famously, one question was do you prefer cooked or raw carrots. In my family, we only ate raw carrots, so I'd always regarded cooked carrots as gross. I suppose that made the University regard me as more of a lesbian. I seem to remember a question that asked what would you rather do, where one option was to take apart a clock and then put it back together again. I don't know what the other choice was, but I suspect that clock project skewed a lot of the boys gay.

Did a suicide bomber in Afghanistan almost kill Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta?

The NYT reports:
The Pentagon press secretary, George Little, said that Mr. Panetta was never in danger but he could not explain the Afghan’s motive or whether he was a suicide attacker aiming for Mr. Panetta’s plane. Nor could he explain why the Afghan was on fire. "For reasons that are totally unknown to us at this time, our personnel discovered that he was ablaze," Mr. Little said. "He ran, he jumped on to a truck, base personnel put the fire out and he was immediately treated for burn injuries."

Oh! The travails of the lefty comedian! (Hey, did Rush Limbaugh set a trap?)

"Axelrod Cancels on Bill Maher — For Now."
Senior Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod has canceled an appearance on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher that was originally scheduled for later this month....

After the fallout from Rush Limbaugh’s crass insults of Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke, conservatives began arguing that there was a double standard, with Democrats (and the media) far more tolerant when liberal media figures use crass words to describe Republican women, Maher being Exhibit A in their case....

[And] the comedian Louis CK recently pulled out as entertainer at the Radio-TV Correspondents Dinner. This followed criticisms... over the comedian’s past use of offensive language about former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.
And Maher gave $1 million to the pro-Obama Super-PAC.

Rush Limbaugh is a media genius, but I don't think he's enough of a genius to have laid this trap. It has worked as a trap. By going too far, on one well-chosen occasion — picking on a young woman about sex — he got an immense reaction from Rush haters, who smelled blood and imagined that they could use this incident to drive Rush off the air. In making their strong argument, Rush's opponents articulated a rule demonizing those who use offensive language to describe a woman.

Now, Rush is thoroughly familiar with Saul Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals." Here's Rule 4 (pp. 128-129):
Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules. You can kill them with this, for they can no more obey their own rules than the Christian church can live up to Christianity.
In this Fluke incident, many left-liberals have committed to a rule that can now be used to take out some of their most valuable speakers and media outlets.

Let's keep reading Alinsky:
The fourth rule carries within it the fifth rule: Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. It is almost impossible to counterattack ridicule. Also it infuriates the opposition, who then react to your advantage. 
We'll find out who the real masters of ridicule are. Rush has his material, and he's going to use it. Look for Maher to attempt counterattacks with witticisms like "fat fuck." (Which I would think violates a left-wing rule that lefties should be compelled to live up to. I mean, do they accept mocking a person for being overweight like that?)

More Alinsky:
The sixth rule is: A good tactic is one that your people enjoy.* If your people are not having a ball doing it, there is something very wrong with the tactic. 
The asterisk points to a footnote that quotes — of all people — William F. Buckley, Jr.: "Alinsky takes the iconoclast’s pleasure in kicking the biggest behinds in town and the sport is not untempting …"

"Biggest behinds"... mocking the fat... hmmm... it is a tempting sport! Who will win?

"American Idol" contestant will be confronted with his criminal record and kicked off the show.

The drama is on video, which will air on tonight's episode. That should be a ratings boost. Obviously, the news has leaked out so that people will watch:
Jermaine Jones [will be removed from] the show Wednesday [because of] his criminal record, which he hid from Idol's producers. TMZ reports that Jones was charged with two crimes in 2011, one involving violence, and in both instances he gave a fake name to cops when arrested. Even more surprising (particularly for the person responsible for vetting the contestants), Jones also has outstanding warrants.
Interestingly, the linked TMZ report doesn't name Jones. Perhaps it did before. It's a better ratings-goosing teaser if we don't know who the person is. Why didn't they catch the outstanding warrants? How do we know they didn't? This could all have been a set-up. Jones was originally eliminated from the competition at the point where the judges got the numbers down to 12 males and 12 females. Then, at the end of that show, they had a ratings-teasing announcement that they'd decided to bring back one of 4 of the males they had just eliminated, so that the show would go forward the next week with an uneven number of males and females. That was all very odd. I suspect they brought Jones back because they knew they'd be kicking him out later in a shockingly dramatic confrontation.

Through reality-show editing, Jones has been portrayed as a gentle giant (he's huge) and a big "mama's boy." "Mama" has been shown numerous times. Viewers have been encouraged to see him as a big lovable teddy bear. That has been similar to the presentation of Ruben Studdard, who was the ultimate winner in the second season of the series. Studdard is the only black man who has ever won the show, for what that's worth.

Though Santorum got the 2 big wins yesterday, Romney won more delegates.

41 Romney, 35 Santorum...

"John Wilkes Booth Bobbleheads Pulled From Gettysburg Giftshop."

"The $20 dolls come in boxes depicting the inside of Washington D.C.’s Ford's Theatre, where confederate sympathizer Booth shot and killed Lincoln in 1865."

(Via Drudge.)

March 13, 2012

"It's a shame activist Dane County judges continue to stand in the way of common sense."

Said a spokesman for Gov. Scott Walker, after Circuit Judge Richard Niess found that Wisconsin's voter ID law violates the state constitution.
"Today, the second time a judge has ruled against this heinous law, provides Wisconsin a moment to reflect on just what was given away by Scott Walker's tea party Republicans when, instead of focusing on the issues facing our public, they rushed instead to limit their freedoms," said [Democratic Party] chairman Mike Tate....
Here's some detail about the state constitutional provision Niess relied on. It is nothing like the arguments against voter ID laws based on the U.S. Constitution that you may be familiar with. It's about the "Suffrage" section of the state constitution that declares a big group of residents to be qualified electors, then gives the legislature the power to pare away from that group (in 2 specific categories, convicted felons and incompetent persons). To agree with the judge, I think you need to see a person without an ID as a type of person who is being excluded from the right to vote (and not within one of those 2 categories, so not within the legislature's power to exclude).

"Peter Goodwin, a family physician who wrote and campaigned for Oregon's right-to-die law in the 1990s, died Sunday..."

"... after taking a cocktail of lethal drugs prescribed by his doctor, as allowed under the legislation he championed."
Dr. Goodwin said... that his health was deteriorating and he would soon end his life....

"The situation needs thought, it doesn't need hope," he said. "Hope is too ephemeral at that time."

"After Review of Grand Forks Olive Garden, Marilyn Hagerty, 85, Is Talk of Social Media."

"She felt fine about it."
But she didn't care to scroll through the thousands of Twitter and Facebook comments on her writing style. "I'm working on my Sunday column and I'm going to play bridge this afternoon," she explained, "so I don't have time to read all this crap." She didn't apologize for writing about a restaurant where many people like to eat. Her poise under fire endeared her to people who do read all that. Strangers started sending me emails about how much they loved my mom....

My mom has her own style of reviewing restaurants: She doesn't like to say anything bad about the food. Her regular readers read between the lines. If she writes more about the décor than the food, you might want to eat somewhere else....

"As I ate," Mom wrote, "I noticed the vases and planters with permanent flower displays on the ledges. There are several dining areas with arched doorways. And there is a fireplace that adds warmth to the décor."
We talked about this 5 days ago, but it's worth keeping up with Marilyn Hagerty.

"Two schoolgirls committed suicide in an attempt to travel through time..."

"China Daily didn't name the TV series that may have influenced the girls to commit suicide, but notes that popular shows in the country often incorporate time travel into their storylines. The plot typically involves the death of a character, who then goes on to travel to ancient times."

"Can you be a Catholic and practice Buddhism at the same time?"

So-called "religious pluralism":
[Barbara] Johnson’s depiction of her faith mirrors that even of some clergy, including famed Trappist monk Thomas Merton who embraced and deeply studied Buddhism before his death in the 1960s. More recently, two Episcopal priests — including a bishop — described themselves as followers of Christianity and other faiths, one of Zen Buddhism and one of Islam....

“This is so surreal because I was getting closer and closer to my faith,” she said of those who assail her for seeking Communion with her blended faith identities. “I had really integrated my Catholic identity into my larger identity as someone who is very influenced by Buddhist teachings.”...

“Wasn’t the doubting Thomas good because he was in dialogue with his faith? It’s not between me and other Catholics, it’s between me and God.”

One year ago at the Wisconsin protests: Protesters redirect hopes to the Wisconsin Supreme Court election.

"April 5, keep hope alive, vote Kloppenburg."

I photographed damage
done to the door plates and hinges by the protesters.

And the Smithsonian sends a curator to Madison to select protests signs "to document, in general, occasions when American citizens interact with their government and petition... for change."

And Meade removes another war monument desecration — the "Solidarity" T-shirt on the Heg statue.

I do my "won — duh! — in the rotunda" poem.

Will Romney win in Alabama and Mississippi?

And if he does, is it all over?

UPDATE: Email from CNN: "Rick Santorum will win the Alabama Republican primary, CNN projects. Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney are in a close battle for second."

UPDATE 2: Santorum wins Mississippi.

"Women are facing sexual McCarthyism" according to Jennifer Granholm.

"Guys, I’m thinking it’s hard for you to imagine what it’s like to have your most private decisions made for you. By women."
Let’s put it this way: Imagine that you need Viagra. Imagine that a law passed by an 80 percent female Legislature mandates that to obtain a prescription, you have to procure an affidavit from a sexual partner verifying that you are indeed incapable of an erection.

Or maybe, before obtaining a vasectomy, you have to undergo an ultrasound on your testicles — wherein a technician must apply gel and press a hand-held transducer on your private parts. The legislation mandates that you watch images of your sperm on a monitor as a doctor describes the millions of pre-human lives you are about to end.

"I saw a bald eagle flying over the [Wisconsin] Capitol."

Says Meade. "I took that as a sign."

Wikipedia wins.

Britannica folds.

At the Hawk's Café...

... keep a sharp eye on everything.

Patio, lawn, and garden supplies...

... from Amazon.

(If you buy through that link, you will be supporting my writing on this blog, with no extra cost to you.)

"Over at Salon, they’re worried about Obama’s sudden polling crash."

And, "The New York Times caught cocooning in public."

"The U.S. News Law School Rankings Are Out!"

"There’s a surprising amount of movement among the top law schools. And there are some interesting tidbits from elsewhere within the rankings," says David Lat.

Here's a list showing the various gains and losses in rank. (My school, Wisconsin, stays at the same place, #35, but we suffered a loss last year.) The University of Washington went up 10 spots to #20, Arizona [State] soared 14 places to 26. Meanwhile, Illinois plummeted to 35 (to join UW). There is pain in Austin, Texas (falling 3), and cheer in Georgetown, which climbed over Cornell.

Biggest loss in the top 10 is Michigan, falling 3 places to #10. Biggest top 10 gain is Berkeley, up 2 spots to 7. The coveted 2d and 3d places switch hands with Stanford popping up over Harvard.

At Wisconsin, we like to single out the "peer reputation ranking," and Paul Caron has broken out that list. We're #24 on that scale, which, we like to think, extracts the wealth factor.  If only we had more money to bulk up our other numbers, that's where we'd be overall. And: If only we'd go all hardcore on LSAT and GPA admissions instead of the soft factors, we'd be — who knows where? — up there with Texas. But why should we change? Let those other schools stop taking advantage of those factors!

Blah blah blah. If you're not a law school person, you're going to tell me how meaningless this all is. Why am I bothering you with this. If you are a law school person, you know this is our lifeblood. Our hated lifeblood. But our lifeblood nonetheless. It's a marketplace, and the currency is U.S. News ranking.

"If the Greatest Generation was so great, why did they bring up their children to be the Baby Boomers?

"Time for shoveling a little blame on these 'greatest' folk."

Have you heard about the health insurance plan that covers your fresh, organic fruits and vegetables?

It's real!
Last summer, I paid a whole dollar for weekly half-boxes of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables as part of a community supported agriculture program. My health insurer paid the rest.
But wait, there's more:
A meditation-based stress-reduction class I took last year also was eligible for reimbursement...
Meditation! You know what else is stress-reducing? Sex. Why don't health insurers cover that? And I don't mean birth control and Viagra. I mean sex itself. Isn't that where we are going? Sex is a health matter. Insurance is going universal, with extensive government-imposed coverage requirements. I think those who have to pay for sex — people with various (undoubtedly health-related) limitations that preclude their acquiring it free — should be reimbursed.

Yes, you have to legalize prostitution first, but the prospect of something else that people like becoming eligible for government-mandated insurance ought to provide the incentive for legalization. As with marijuana, legalization is achieved through medicalization, and there's never a stage where you're simply free and able to seek pleasure. The old restraints will be removed only for the purpose of locking on the new restraints. You will have sex and drugs, when it's your medicine and when you can be made to pay for everyone else's.

Just wait!

I wrote all that without reading the rest of the column, so I'm amused to see what the columnist — Chris Rickert — actually did with the groundwork that got me going. He goes from meditation to sex too:
You don't have to look far to find that sex — at least the kind of sex society values, i.e., that occurring in loving, mature, committed relationships — is a partner with wellness.... Depending on which studies you believe, sex encourages intimacy, in some cases might reduce depression, provides good exercise, reduces pain and may even reduce the risk of cancer.

If a health insurer is going to buy its customers kohlrabi and celeriac to encourage healthy eating, why shouldn't it buy them contraception to encourage more healthful sex? In the end, everyone wins.
He'd just buy contraception at this point, not an actual sex worker's treatments. That seems so unfair. Them that's got shall get. Those with benefits get more benefits. When will government level the playing field?


Fleebagger nostalgia.
“Fourteen egos, of such varied personalities … were able to stick together for three weeks,” [Wisconsin State Senator Fred] Risser said. “You don’t have that happen very often.”

What's wrong with these kids today?

Todd G. Buchholz and Victoria Buchholz complain about "The Go-Nowhere Generation":
The likelihood of 20-somethings moving to another state has dropped well over 40 percent since the 1980s... The stuck-at-home mentality hits college-educated Americans as well as those without high school degrees. According to the Pew Research Center, the proportion of young adults living at home nearly doubled between 1980 and 2008, before the Great Recession hit. Even bicycle sales are lower now than they were in 2000.
Why don't people pick up and move to the places where the jobs are? Everyone's heard of North Dakota. Why don't they go there?
In the most startling behavioral change among young people... an increasing number of teenagers are not even bothering to get their driver’s licenses. Back in the early 1980s, 80 percent of 18-year-olds proudly strutted out of the D.M.V. with newly minted licenses, according to a study by researchers at the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute. By 2008 — even before the Great Recession — that number had dropped to 65 percent.
Isn't that what the Boomer generation told them to do? Cars are bad. They are destroying the planet. Then, when they avoid driving, we scold them for being — what? — sedentary? unambitious? incurious?!
Perhaps young people are too happy at home checking Facebook. In a study of 15 countries, Michael Sivak, a professor at the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute (who also contributed to the D.M.V. research), found that when young people spent more time on the Internet, they delayed getting their driver’s licenses....
If they were supposed to believe that movie — "An Inconvenient Truth" — that was showed to them by one public school teacher after another, why aren't we celebrating them now for their teeny tiny carbon footprint? Just give them a tiny room and a computer with high-speed internet, and they'll be perfectly happy.
But Generation Y has become Generation Why Bother....
Etc. etc. These kids today! Speaking of "Why Bother," why did we boomers bother to teach them to sneer at aggressive capitalism, consumeristic acquisitiveness, and driving powerful cars if we were going to turn around and whine about their not competing vigorously enough?
Notice how popular the word “random” has become among young people. A Disney TV show called “So Random!” has ranked first in the ratings among tweens. The word has morphed from a precise statistical term to an all-purpose phrase that stresses the illogic and coincidence of life. Unfortunately, societies that emphasize luck over logic are not likely to thrive.
I blame the Baby Boomers, my generation. We propagated doubt that you could work hard and get ahead. Random? That sounds like hippie talk to me.
In the mid-’70s, back when every high school kid longed for his driver’s license and a chance to hit the road and find freedom, Bruce Springsteen wrote his brilliant, exciting album “Born to Run.”
Hello? Have you ever listened to the lyrics on "Born to Run"?! Yes, movement is involved in running, but it was scarcely an optimistic attitude. Springsteen had us running from the "death trap," the "suicide rap" that was the "runaway American Dream." That home town of yours supposedly "rips the bones from your back." Yeah, that's exciting. Hell is exciting. Springsteen wanted to go for a ride on his motorcycle — his "suicide machine" — and then "die with you Wendy on the streets tonight." Yeah, those were the days!

A plague of pigs!

Razor sharp tusks! Attacking humans! They only come out at night!
"They eat everything... They’ll eat the understory in a forest and dig up plants by rooting the ground for insects and roots. They compete with wildlife for food. They’re the most destructive mammal out there."
The most destructive mammal out there... Finally! Pigs have come to save human beings from the shame of being first on the Most Destructive Mammal list.

The man who got us to believe that aerosol spraying was destroying the ozone layer.

F. Sherwood Rowland, dead at 84.
Industry representatives at first disputed Dr. Rowland’s findings, and many skeptical colleagues in the field avoided him. But his findings, achieved in laboratory experiments, were supported 11 years later when British scientists discovered that the stratospheric ozone layer, which blocks harmful ultraviolet rays, had developed a hole over Antarctica....
I have a little trouble understanding that sentence. If you say X causes Y and we discover that Y is true, it doesn't prove that X caused Y. I guess you can say that the theory that X causes Y is "supported" why Y occurs during the period when X is happening. 
“The clarity and startling nature of what Molina and Rowland came up with — the notion that something you could hold in your hand could affect the entire global environment, not just the room in which you were standing — was extraordinary,” Ralph Cicerone, the president of the National Academy of Sciences and a longtime colleague of Dr. Rowland, said in an interview.
The startling thing is that people absorbed the theory and took it seriously enough to change what they were doing. Attempts to scare us into action over global warming have not worked so well, perhaps because we seem to be asked to change everything (and nothing) about the way we live. To deal with the ozone hole scare, we only needed to abandon one chemical — CFCs — so okay, get rid of the CFCs... whatever they were. People will do that.

March 12, 2012

At the Tree-Ring Café...

... you can count your blessings. Meade counts to 89... tree rings.

Obama's approval rating sinks from 50% to 41% in one month.

According to the new CBS News/New York Times survey.

I guess pandering to women isn't all it's cracked up to be. Or did he do it the wrong way? Maybe women don't want to be saved from cutting satire, rough language, and the need to pay for their own sex supplies.

But the standard interpretation is that it's gas prices. All these issues and policies and wars to debate and, in the end, it all comes down to what does gas cost. It's that basic day-to-day expense that isn't about sex.

"My homeless hotspot keeps wandering out of range."

"[B]y literally labelling the person as a 'hotspot,' you are priming an affluent, iPad-toting public to think of that person as a commodity."

"If all BBH are doing is turning these people into an aerial and asking them to stand still then they are just treating homeless people the same way the Victorians did when they asked them to hold posters."

"Eating red meat — any amount and any type — appears to significantly increase the risk of premature death..."

"... according to a long-range study that examined the eating habits and health of more than 110,000 adults for more than 20 years."

"What You Lose When You Sign That Donor Card."

"Most people are surprised to learn that many people who are declared brain dead are never actually tested for higher-brain activity."
The exam for brain death is simple. A doctor splashes ice water in your ears (to look for shivering in the eyes), pokes your eyes with a cotton swab and checks for any gag reflex, among other rudimentary tests. It takes less time than a standard eye exam. Finally, in what's called the apnea test, the ventilator is disconnected to see if you can breathe unassisted....

One year ago at the Wisconsin protest: another march with lots of signs.

4 minutes of video... typical stuff.

Tea Party hating — and homophobia — by the pro-union protesters.

I talked to Andrew Breitbart about the protests. But the link only goes to what was, at the time, a live stream.

Exaggerations, e.g.:
"If Wisconsin surrenders/we'll all hang/Strike now while you still have food on your table."

Teaching kids to read using nonfiction works better.

Aha! Back in '07, I got all sorts of criticism for advocating teaching reading with nonfiction books — science, history, etc. — and now here's the evidence that it is the best method.

At the Ice-and-Lichen Café...

... you should take a close look at everything.

"The dust up over Sleep Train, along with the blowback suffered by Carbonite over that company’s public denunciation of Limbaugh..."

"... demonstrates that the iconic radio talk show host is dealing from a position of strength in the campaign to deprive him of advertisers. One tends to prosper when one advertises on Limbaugh’s show. But cross him, and one will suffer."

Writes the lefty Drudge Retort, noting that Limbaugh hasn't lost listeners (and has probably gained listeners, people who are "curious about what the fuss is all about").

Quoted by Professor Jacobson, who says: "[T]his never has been about those two words or even the three days.  It’s an attempt to intimidate and silence conservative talk radio, so better safe than sorry."

Limbaugh is likely to make this controversy work for him. For years, he's been tweaking the media and using its pushback to generate interesting/funny/pithy material. This pushback may be a lot more than he wanted from that particular tweak, but if he's the master of radio that he purports to be, he'll get it working for him.

How many times have I heard Rush quote Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals: "Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it." (That's Rule 13, in case you're counting. Page 130 in the Vintage, Kindle Edition.)
One of the criteria in picking your target is the target’s vulnerability—where do you have the power to start? Furthermore, any target can always say, “Why do you center on me when there are others to blame as well?” When you “freeze the target,” you disregard these arguments and, for the moment, all the others to blame. Then, as you zero in and freeze your target and carry out your attack, all of the “others” come out of the woodwork very soon. They become visible by their support of the target. The other important point in the choosing of a target is that it must be a personification, not something general and abstract...

Let nothing get you off your target. With this focus comes a polarization. As we have indicated before, all issues must be polarized if action is to follow. The classic statement on polarization comes from Christ: “He that is not with me is against me” (Luke 11:23). He allowed no middle ground to the money-changers in the Temple. One acts decisively only in the conviction that all the angels are on one side and all the devils on the other....
Rush knows he's the target they've picked and the game they are playing. Can he outplay them? With half his brain tied behind his back, just to make it fair?

"I don't think anything can prepare you to hear your own name referenced by a Supreme Court justice as if you are just a policy on paper."

"If I remember correctly, 'Gratz' was referenced in the very first question asked that day. Each time they mentioned my name, I wanted to jump out of my seat and say, 'I'm sitting right here. I'm a real person.'"

Writes Jennifer Gratz, who was the plaintiff in the 2003 Supreme Court case challenging the affirmative action admissions policy at the University of Michigan. (She won. There was a second case, dealing with a more subtle/nuanced approach to affirmative action at the University of Michigan Law School. The plaintiff in that case, Barbara Grutter, lost.)

Gratz is writing now because the Supreme Court just granted certiorari in a case challenging the affirmative action policy at the University of Texas. She (or her ghostwriter) writes:
Before the court hears arguments in [Abigail] Fisher’s case, I hope the justices notice that a lot has happened since Gratz and Grutter were decided.

Immediately following the Michigan decisions, I uprooted my life, resigned from a great job in the software industry and started the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, a statewide ballot initiative that asked Michigan voters to decide if race preferences should continue at the University of Michigan. Overwhelmingly, Michiganders voted to neuter O’Connor’s ruling in the Grutter case, making state-sponsored discrimination unconstitutional in the Wolverine state.

Arizona, Nebraska and New Hampshire followed Michigan’s lead and Oklahoma is poised to ban race preferences this November. A critical mass, 27% of the population, now resides in states where race preferences have been banned by voters. California, Washington and Florida banned race preferences prior to the Michigan decisions.
Which way does that cut? The Supreme Court only said that affirmative action, done subtly, is constitutionally permissible. It doesn't say that it is required! If the people of a state don't like the policy, they are free to outlaw it as a matter of state law, as many states have done. Why would information about states opting out of a permissible policy provide the Supreme Court with additional reason why the policy should be seen as violating the U.S. Constitution? By permitting it but not requiring it, the Supreme Court leaves the policymaking to the states.

It seems to me that the additional information Gratz presents is a reason to leave the constitutional law the way it is. The issue is being worked out in the political arena, the place where Gratz herself has been an effective participant. You can still say, as Gratz has always said, that the Supreme Court ought to perceive a right to be free of racial discrimination in admissions, that classroom diversity isn't the kind of compelling interest that can justify taking race into account as a university assembles a student body.

But right now, we have states free to use affirmative action (if they do it in a sufficiently subtle manner) and free to reject it. That many states have chosen to reject it exhibits our system of federalism at work. It doesn't bolster the argument that there is a right to be free of it! To say that, you'd have to assert that the political popularity of a policy somehow grows or hardens into constitutional requirement. But constitutional rights are what we need to protect us from the depredations of political majorities.

By the way, it's interesting that Gratz used the phrase "critical mass": "A critical mass, 27% of the population, now resides in states where race preferences have been banned by voters." "Critical mass" was a key phrase in Grutter. The law school explained its interest in classroom diversity in terms of the need to gain a "critical mass" of students who were members of "underrepresented" minority groups. The term was "understood to mean a number that encourages underrepresented minority students to participate in the classroom and not feel isolated... or like spokespersons for their race." One expert had testified that "when a critical mass of underrepresented minority students is present, racial stereotypes lose their force because nonminority students learn there is no '"minority viewpoint"' but rather a variety of viewpoints among minority students."

Interestingly, the "critical mass" that the law school sought had to do with the value of different viewpoints, not the idea that if enough people think one thing then a point will be reached when everyone will tip into thinking the same thing. With the law school's notion of critical mass in mind, let's look again at the new information Gratz offers: "A critical mass, 27% of the population, now resides in states where race preferences have been banned by voters." That's good diversity. Good federalism. If the Supreme Court were to identify a constitutional right, it would require 100% of the states to adopt the same policy. It would be anti-diversity, anti-federalism, a choice for uniformity.

We're back to the question of what rights are, not what majorities want. If there really is a right here, then uniformity is the answer. The arguments about whether there is a right, however, remain the same. They are not bolstered by the waning political popularity of affirmative action.

We're 2 weeks from the big Affordable Care Act oral argument...

... and articles shaping your outlook are beginning to pour out. SCOTUSblog has lots of links and summaries. I've been running across a number of these articles, but I don't blog about them if they seem obvious and predictable... unless they have something wrong with them that I want to blog about. And this includes articles front-paged at the NYT website, even when they have striking pictures of the Chief Justice smiling as it's painful to smile. These mainstream media articles tend to focus on personalities. Want to be reminded who Paul Clement is? Check out the Washington Post. Surprised that Scalia's opinion in the medical marijuana case helps the pro-Obamacare side? There's Forbes. Wait. I'll quote Forbes, not for the law, for the language:
Writing for Forbes, Lawrence Hunter describes the White House’s “campaign to hoist the Court on the petard of conservative justice Antonin Scalia’s words,” based on the Justice’s “expansive view of . . . the Commerce Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause.”  
Let's picture this image. Scalia's words will "hoist" — lift up — the Supreme Court. And his words are — it's a metaphor — a "petard":
The word petard comes from the Middle French peter, to break wind, from pet expulsion of intestinal gas, from Latin peditum, from neuter of peditus, past participle of pedere, to break wind; akin to Greek bdein to break wind. (Merriam-Webster) Petard remains a French word meaning a firecracker today (in French slang, it means a handgun, or a marijuana cigarette).
Did Lawrence Hunter just bumble into that super-apt metaphor? Not only are the words of a Supreme Court Justice equated to farting, but Scalia was farting about marijuana, and a "petard" is both farting and a marijuana cigarette!
The word remains in modern usage in the phrase hoist with one's own petard, which means "to be harmed by one's own plan to harm someone else" or "to fall into one's own trap," literally implying that one could be lifted up (hoist, or blown upward) by one's own bomb.
Or fart, right?

By the way, is anyone arguing that insurance companies should be required to cover the cost of marijuana? People are going to doctors, getting a prescription recommendation. Unlike birth control, the marijuana that is openly purchased in America is for a medical — not recreational — purpose. There's the beauty of medicalizing recreational activities. If it's medical, you shouldn't have to pay for your own supplies. And with marijuana, it's all medical.

Think about it.

And pass the petard.

"Steve Jobs, Price Fixer?"

"Government lawyers claim to know how much an e-book should sell for."

"100 Reasons NOT to Go to Graduate School."

A blog. It's up to #79 — "The tyranny of procrastination," a post dated February 27, 2012. Ahem. Get on with it! Is that the title and date you want at the top the day Inside Higher Ed points you out in a column called "Reasons Not to Go to Graduate School"?
Anonymously produced for two years by someone who says the blog is "the result of long experience," the steadily increasing number of comments on posts testifies that its point of view is resonating with many. The posts are a mix of analysis of the job market ("There are very few jobs"), the realities many see in graduate school ("Graduate seminars can be unbearable") and the impact of grad school on individuals' personal lives ("The one-body problem")....

A recent post on "the culture of fear" drew many responses (many of them, consistent with the post, anonymous) about the power gaps in academe. "Why are academics — of all people — afraid of writing (and speaking) honestly about their profession? Why do so many of those who do express themselves feel compelled to do so anonymously? The answer lies in the staggering power imbalance between academics and the people who employ them....
Here's one that caught my eye: "77. It attracts the socially inept."
Graduate school demands that you spend an immense amount of time alone (see Reason 69). It demands sustained interest in highly esoteric subjects. And it demands that you approach those esoteric subjects with the utmost seriousness. You can see how this environment would be attractive to people who are more comfortable in their own thoughts than in the company of others. This applies across academic disciplines. While some graduate students are involved in cutting-edge medical research, others are studying the subtle aspects of postwar Croatian cinema (see Reason 66). Oddly enough, the latter take their work as seriously as the former. Grad school can be compared to an endless fan convention at which all the participants cluster by genre or disciplinary interest, and where every individual is highly invested in a particular sub-sub-sub-genre....

March 11, 2012

At the Pine Needle Café...

... the path is wide.

One year ago today at the Wisconsin protests: "It's become some sort of glamour protest."

"It's all see and be seen now."

Chris Wallace asks John McCain about "Game Change."

On Fox News Sunday today:
WALLACE: What one of the things it says is that for all of your talk about putting country first, that your decision to pick Sarah Palin was pure politics. And here is a clip from the show.

WOODY HARRELSON (as Steve Schmidt): We desperately need a game changing pick. None much these middle aged white guys are game changers.

ED HARRIS (as John McCain): So find me a woman.

WALLACE: "So find me a woman." Simple question, Senator, did that ever happen?

MCCAIN: Of course not.... I thought that she was best qualified person. I thought she had the ability to excite our party and the kind of person that I wanted to see succeed in the political arena. She is very effective and successful governor of a state....
I get the feeling that neither the movie nor John McCain was perfectly accurate.

"Centrist Women Tell of Disenchantment With G.O.P."

NYT headline.

Translation: Democrats are Democrats.

Am I being unfair? Of course, they found women who say they are/were Republicans/independents....
The sudden return of the “culture wars” over the rights of women and their place in society has resulted, the women said, in a distinct change in mood in the past several weeks....

After the talk show host Rush Limbaugh denounced a Georgetown University law student as a “slut” and a “prostitute” for her advocacy of insurance coverage of contraception, some women were critical of Mr. Romney’s tepid response.
Some women!
“Everybody is so busy telling us how we should act in the bedroom, they’re letting the country fall through the cracks,” said Fran Kelley, a retired public school worker in Seattle who voted for Senator John McCain over Mr. Obama in the 2008 election. Of the Republican candidates this year, she added, “They’re nothing but hatemongers trying to control everyone, saying, ‘Live as I live.’ ”

She continued, “If Republicans would stop all this ridiculous talk about contraception, I’d consider voting in November.”
Of course, Democrats started the conversation, but it was a good conversation to start if the goal was to get some Republicans to say some things that could be used against them. Fortunately, Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate who is going to be the nominee, had the sense not to say much. He was "tepid." Good! We don't want the government in our bedroom, so we don't need a passionate President. Let him stay in his office and coolly and calmly do his job, which shouldn't have anything to do with sex. He's not our boyfriend.

Man, I loathe this pandering to women! Don't treat us like we're stupid. Don't act like we need your special protection. Don't buy us things.

"Grey ties are flying off the shelves as wives take inspiration from X-rated bondage novel to dress up their men."

"Hundreds of women write to me every day asking where they can buy grey ties."

Ha ha. This is about that #1 bestselling porn-for-ladies book we were talking about yesterday.

So... is this new-found, book-driven desire a desire to get tied up or to get their men to wear ties? Female sexuality... the timeless mystery.

"I wonder if he realizes that America doesn't want to look at him and listen to him for 4 years."

Says Meade, watching one of the Sunday morning talking-heads shows. He says that right after I say: "I can't believe how bad he looks! What happened to him?"

"White House Works to Shape Debate Over Health Law"... with a prayer vigil.

The quote in the post title is the headline of this NYT article by Robert Pear, which begins by telling us that the White House is undertaking "an aggressive campaign" to milk maximum political advantage out of the upcoming 3 days of Supreme Court oral argument over the Affordable Care Act.
On Wednesday, White House officials summoned dozens of leaders of nonprofit organizations that strongly back the health law to help them coordinate plans for a prayer vigil, press conferences and other events outside the court when justices hear arguments for three days beginning March 26.
Coordinate plans for a prayer vigil?!

That's one way to shape debate, showing people praying to keep Obamacare alive. But why would the White House want to create the impression that they believe that God, influenced by prayer, might sway the Supreme Court? Or is it that they believe that some Supreme Court Justices might be swayed by the spectacle of people praying for a statute to be held constitutional? They can't want us to believe they believe that. Presumably, they just want to promote the belief that Obamacare is terribly important and people desperately want it preserved. Personally, I think Obama is better off politically if the Supreme Court strikes down the law, so for maximum political advantage what he ought to want is simply to impress the electorate with the desperate need for Obamacare, so if its taken away we'll feel outraged instead of relieved.

"The Kony video was made by people whose intentions seem good, even if their ideology and analysis may be a touch simplistic."

It's some great video-making:
First, it has a compelling, simple narrative: Kony is a really bad guy and his capture will end suffering for the people of northern Uganda....

Second, it conveys this message in a seductive way, with film-maker Jason Williams explaining to his five-year-old son that this Kony is a monster and that dad's job is capturing him."
Here's the video with over 70 million views — and 1,265,509 "likes" — in 6 days:

The Kony video and the assumptions behind it have been subjected to searching criticism by scholars like Ethan Zuckerman, who have challenged its simplistic analysis of a complex country and its ideological biases – for example its implicit assumption that Africans are hopeless and that the only solutions to their problems can come from white foreigners. Some have suggested that the Ugandan president, Yoweri Museveni, is no angel either. And there has been a fierce online debate about the ethical dilemmas of viral transmission.

"Kony is like a Rorschach test on to which we inscribe our own simplistically naive ethical calculus," wrote one commentator. Others observe that "sharing" the video gives people the opportunity of salving their consciences without doing anything serious about the problem of northern Uganda....

[And] what if a video with more sinister antecedents were to get this kind of viral boost? It suggests the old saying that "a lie can run round the world before the truth has got its boots on" is acquiring a chilling new resonance.

Rogue U.S. soldier kills 15 civilians in Afghanistan.

"He reportedly left his military base in the early hours of the morning, attacking at least two homes. Nine children are among the dead."
The soldier - who reportedly suffered a breakdown before the attacks - is said to have handed himself over to the US military authorities after carrying out the killings....

"This is going to have very, very bad effect, I believe, and I think it is time the US may have to alter their policy of not allowing their soldiers to be tried in foreign countries," [said Prince Ali Seraj, head of the National Coalition for Dialogue with the Tribes in Afghanistan].

"They’re trying to ban love!"

"It’s not realistic, because grown women fall in love and have affairs with older men, and nobody can legislate against this."

Said the professor.

A city-wide horseback riding event supposedly "fits with this entirely laudable notion that streets don't have to be the sole province of gas-guzzling, carbon-emitting cars and trucks."

According to Chris Rickert, contemplating something like the "Ride the Drive" bike-riding event where major streets in Madison are closed to cars so people can bike all over the streets (instead of just in the bike lanes, which are everywhere, and the bike trails, which are excellent).

But horses? Do horses even do well on concrete? And riding horses can't possibly be more energy efficient and clean than cars.

Fortunately Rickert has a brother-in-law who knows about horses. (He's a farrier.) He tells him that shod horses slip on pavement. Yes, leave the poor beasts alone.

Horse the Drive... what a horrendous idea. And yet... so Madison. There's this restless need to do things... to add amenities. Hey, let's have a trolley! Proposals spring from fuzzy heads. Pure romanticism. It seems environmental. It's environmental and about nature and a love of animals. Except if you look at the actual facts, it doesn't align with any of the values it resonates with inside your head.