April 21, 2012

The nose tube...

... diet.

"The Pineapple And The Hare: Can You Answer Two Bizarre State Exam Questions?"

"A story and two questions on the New York state English exam taken by eighth-graders this week has stumped many — including Jeopardy! star Ken Jennings."

The story was written by the amusing author Daniel Pinkwater, but he didn't write it for the exam, and he didn't write the exam questions.

The story is funny and absurd on its own, but the questions, asked of poor students who are struggling not to appreciate the absurd but to get the answers right, are truly evil:
1. Why did the animals eat the pineapple?
a. they were annoyed
b. they were amused
c. they were hungry
d. they wanted to

2. Who was the wisest?
a. the hare
b. moose
c. crow
d. owl
No decent educator would torment students this way. It's an abuse of humor. The teachers should not be amusing themselves, and I feel sorry for the kids who may take a hatred of silliness forward into their newly gloomy lives.

"We know who the active denialists are – not the people who buy the lies, mind you, but the people who create the lies."

"Let’s start keeping track of them now, and when the famines come, let’s make them pay. Let’s let their houses burn. Let’s swap their safe land for submerged islands. Let’s force them to bear the cost of rising food prices. They broke the climate. Why should the rest of us have to pay for it?"

"In the summer of 1969, Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson, a staunch conservationist, was reading an article about the impact of college teach-ins on anti-war activism..."

"... when he had a flash of inspiration: What if the energy of these student teach-ins could also be harnessed to address environmental concerns?"

Tomorrow is Earth Day. Today, not thinking about Earth Day at all, we happened to go for a long walk in Governor Nelson State Park. It looked like this:


"I don't even know what to say. I don't know what Philip Humber is doing in this list."

"No idea what my name is doing there, but I'm thankful it's there."

There are 21 names on the list now, pitchers of perfect games.

The man who wrote Nixon's enemies list...

... Chuck Colson, dead at 80.

Medical psilocybin.

Easing your way down life's off ramp.

Why not? The boomers are aging. The death panels will be handing out prescriptions.

Turn on, tune in, drop out... indeed.

"Ode to Magritte."

A cool photo portrait... based on this famous painting and this... according to the photographer who can only remember the name of the first one — which is "Rape" — and not the second one — which is called "The Dangerous Liaison."

Looking for the image of "Rape," I got to a blog called WTF Art History — "For everyone interested in art history who has asked, WTF?" There's some amusing stuff there.

"Obama’s race to save the Rust Belt."

A headline at Salon that has us wondering if maybe, just maybe, Obama's race is the cure-all for everything.

Winning the recall election "It will send a powerful, powerful message that you can stick your neck out..."

"... you can make the tough choices and there will be voters helping you along the way," said Gov. Scott Walker yesterday.
"I think when we win, it will not only reaffirm what we did. It will send a powerful message to every politician…in our state and even in our city governments who are trying to take on the tough issues and do the right thing."
That "when we win" language caused the Chicago Tribune to headline its article "Wisconsin Gov. Walker says he'll prevail in recall," but Walker also said:
"[I'm] running to win, but I’m not afraid to lose.” He said the actions he has taken to stabilize Wisconsin finances will last for the long term, “even if people don’t see it the next election.”
Presumably, if he loses he'll be the GOP candidate in the next election, claiming credit for whatever goes well in the next couple of years and blaming Tom Barrett (or whomever) for whatever goes badly.

At the Dark Tree Café...


... why so gloomy?

"I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear..."

"... nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary."

"In France, they’d be unpacking their glorious foods and beverages. En famille! Not so here."

"We tend to like to plump down on a chair or a towel and feel the sun move from one point to the next. Or, in the inevitable quest for romance, we walk the shoreline, holding hands, thinking this is forever thoughts."

And by plump, she really means plump, based on the 7th photograph. Plump and well-oiled.

Reading between the lines, as I always do on Nina's posts — is there another way to read? — I'm sure I see that the people in France know how to live and we Americans do not.
Many people love to just stand in the water to cool off and that’s fun to watch too. Humankind, lusting for that refreshing moment when the waves gently tickle your legs or splash against your buttocks. Conversations in the water.
Plunge, why don't you, Americans? Get in over your ass, like the French!

"Baseball as a Road to God" — the name of a course at NYU.

Taught by John Sexton:
As the president of N.Y.U., Dr. Sexton could certainly teach any course he wanted. And as the former dean of its law school and clerk to a chief justice of the United States, he might have been expected to hold forth on jurisprudence. However, as a child of Brooklyn, as a scholar whose academic robe bears the number 42 in homage to Jackie Robinson, and as a practicing Catholic with a doctoral degree in religion, Dr. Sexton has for more than a dozen years chosen baseball and God as his professorial focus.

“The real idea of the course,” he put it in an interview, “is to develop heightened sensitivity and a noticing capacity. So baseball’s not ‘the’ road to God. For most of us, it isn’t ‘a’ road to God. But it’s a way to notice, to cause us to live more slowly and to watch more keenly and thereby to discover the specialness of our life and our being, and, for some of us, something more than our being.”...

The core of his original reading list — “The Sacred and the Profane,” by the religion historian Mircea Eliade — remains central to the class all these years later. Eliade’s essential insight, at least for Dr. Sexton’s purposes, is his concept of hierophany, meaning the manifestation of the sacred in the world. So, just as much as Stonehenge or the Kaaba or the Western Wall or St. Peter’s Basilica, baseball in Sextonian teaching affords such a locus for faith.
Hey, this reminds me of what my father used to say when I asked him why he didn't go to church. When we kids were little, the parents took us to church — we went here — but later they opted out. My father, who liked to play golf, said "God is every bit as much on the golf course as He is in church." I'm putting a capital "H" on "He," but it's not like he said it with a capital "H." That answer annoyed me, by the way. I was a teenager.

Madison's Mayor Soglin talks about letting nonprofit property owners make voluntary payments instead of taxes.

Voluntary payments? We were just talking about that in the previous post! Who makes charitable contributions to the government? What is Paul Soglin talking about?
Such a program, which would likely exempt smaller nonprofits, could produce several million dollars in annual revenue as service costs rise, state financial support remains unpredictable, and political pressures and changes in state law limit the city's capacity to increase taxes.
This is about bringing in new money, not switching current taxpayers into an optional approach.
The city has roughly 73,800 parcels valued at $21.5 billion, said Dave Gawenda, city treasurer. That includes 1,201 exempt parcels — excluding city, Dane County and Madison schools property — valued at $5.7 billion. If state and university property is excluded, the city exempts nearly $1.5 billion in nonprofit property, which would produce about $15 million in revenue for the city if fully taxed.
Currently, 17 tax-exempt entities have negotiated arrangements with the city — usually after a change to the property — to make payments in lieu of taxes that will total $877,000 for 2012.

No one envisions the city will seek to get the full tax payment from all nonprofits.

In Boston, under its new program, nonprofits that own property valued at more than $15 million are asked to increase payments over five years until they reach 25 percent of what they'd pay if they didn't have nonprofit tax status, the city's website says. The system also gives nonprofits credits for providing benefits to the community.
Can someone explain to me why they pay voluntarily? It's not truly voluntary, is it? There's some lurking coercion, some extortion, isn't there?

IN THE COMMENTS: Irene said:
"Mandatory volunteerism" is the progressive's way of treating everyone like children. It's one of my favorite oxymorons.

Schools first introduce this approach by requiring children to participate in mandatory duties shaded vaguely as "voluntary" activities that benefit the community. Example: "Earth Day cleanup" for the grade schoolers or "orientations" for first-year law students that require arboretum clean-up or Habitat-for Humanity work.

If tax payment is shrouded in "voluntary" language, it makes the maliable feel like they are participating in the general good. Part of the progressive community. Part of the group think.

Elizabeth Warren chose not to pay a voluntary higher tax rate, which is an official option in Massachusetts.

No one takes that option, now, do they? But Warren — the Harvard lawprof who's trying to wrest Teddy Kennedy's Senate seat out from under Scott Brown, a Republican — has been lambasting Brown for voting against the so-called millionaire's tax.

As Warren deftly — and professorily — put it: "I paid the taxes that I legally owed. I did not make a charitable contribution to the state." Yeah, who expects anybody to make a charitable contribution to the state?

The state is all about compulsion. It's a crisp, cold force that says you owe, and we will punish you if you don't pay. So you do exactly that (if you're reasonably competent and rational). There's no warmth and love left over. If you're feeling charitable, you go looking for something more specific upon which to lavish your love-in-the-form of money. In fact, it would be kind of screwy to love the government like that, to put your love-money into the general pot from which the state pays all its general expenses, even if you want the people of the state to put you in a position to cause the government to rack up even more expenses.
Brown’s campaign called Warren a hypocrite for not checking the optional higher tax rate on her personal income. “The problem with running a campaign based on self-righteousness and moral superiority is that you had better live up to the same standard you would impose on everyone else," said the incumbent's campaign manager, Jim Barnett, in a statement. The Brown team said Warren earned over $700,000 in 2011, adding, “This is the sort of hypocrisy and double-speak voters are sick and tired of hearing from politicians, especially those who can't keep their hands out of others' pocketbooks."
Is it really self-righteousness and moral superiority?  Or is it a crisp cold calculation of what each person's share of the expenses is? You will be billed for that, and you will pay in a calm and orderly manner. There will be no love exchanged, no enthusiasm. It's just your share, that you owe, as determined by the democratic majority, who like to think that more is owed by those other people, those millionaires, and not little me. And it's not that $700,000 doesn't make Warren a good target for the democratic majority who would like to require more from somebody — somebody else. Obviously, she is. And I think she would agree!

When your vision is of the majority making the cold calculation and assessment, all you need to do to avoid hypocrisy is to pay what you owe... coolly and emotionlessly, with no extra gushings of love or cash.

Is Warren a hypocrite on the theory that she can't keep her "hands out of others' pocketbooks"? If she had a seat in the Senate and enough political sway, would she not vote to increase the tax rate for people who make $700,000 (or $500,000 or $200,000 or even $100,000)? I think she would. It's not politically wise to say that, but I assume she'd jack up tax rates if she could. In a calm, calculated manner. And everyone should pay their share, as determined by the government, to cover the expenses of the government, as determined by the government, in a Democracy where the people gave her — and people like her — seats in Congress.

There's no self-righteousness and moral superiority anywhere in this vision for America. It's just gray, bland exaction and compliance.

April 20, 2012

"In an unusual move during the more than 2-hour bail hearing, Mr. Zimmerman... briefly took the stand and offered an apology to the victim’s parents..."

"... who were in the courtroom."
“I wanted to say I am sorry for the loss of your son,” Mr. Zimmerman, 28, said, speaking publicly for the first time about the Feb. 26 shooting. “I did not know how old he was. I thought he was a little bit younger than I am. I did not know if he was armed or not.”...

According to their lawyer, Benjamin Crump, Mr. Martin’s family was “completely devastated” by the judge’s decision that Mr. Zimmerman could be freed on such a low bail [$150,000]. He also described Mr. Zimmerman’s apology from the stand as “self-serving” and said he considered it a ploy to help win his release from jail.

"The boy should know where his dinner is coming from. What do you think, Barry?"

More meat-oriented education from Lolo, Barack Obama's stepfather, as told by Obama in his memoir "Dreams From My Father." This scene occurs when Obama, age 6, first arrives from Hawaii in his new home in Jakarta:
[T]he man who had carried our luggage was standing in the backyard with a rust-colored hen tucked under his arm and a long knife in his right hand. He said something to Lolo, who nodded and called over to my mother and me. My mother told me to wait where I was and sent Lolo a questioning glance.

“Don’t you think he’s a little young?”

Lolo shrugged and looked down at me. “The boy should know where his dinner is coming from. What do you think, Barry?” I looked at my mother, then turned back to face the man holding the chicken. Lolo nodded again, and I watched the man set the bird down, pinning it gently under one knee and pulling its neck out across a narrow gutter.

Radical Locavore.

A Bizarro cartoon, arrived at via the Wikipedia article "Self-cannibalism," which I found seconds after speculating out loud "I wonder if anyone has ever gotten so hungry they've eaten parts of their own body?," which arose out of a conversation with Meade, who was talking about military training for survival behind enemy lines. For example:
Trainees are taught that when stranded in the field, they should eat what they can find, which can include turtles, snakes, insects and other things normally considered unappetizing. The training helps them overcome their food aversions.

... [A] running joke is that "food is a crutch" because survival school teaches soldiers how to overcome physical stress like hunger by using mental strength.

A Special Forces captain swallows a worm to the delight of his fellow trainees. Asked what it tasted like, the captain said, "Dirt. And kind of like a worm. Kind of fishy. Kind of fishy. "
You can imagine why we were talking about that. Just reabsorbing and digesting the classic Obama text: "I was introduced to dog meat (tough), snake meat (tougher), and roasted grasshopper (crunchy)."

I was saying: Isn't it interesting that he spoke of the texture, but not the taste? I was going to riff in the direction of portraying Obama as coolly Spock-like — missing one of the 5 senses, but then I veered toward literary analysis. It's a neatly compressed comic line: tough... tougher... crunchy. He sticks with the textures because it's funny to struggle through the tough sequence — tough, tougher — and then get — not what comes next grammatically: toughest — but crunchy! because — ha ha — we all know, whether we eat them or not, that insects are crunchy. In those few words,

"When I took the weapon in my hand, it was like 100 voices in my head saying 'don't do it, don't do it.'"

"I was walking with rifle in my hand, in a bag. I thought, it's now or never. That minute seemed to last for a year."

Eat what you're told — a precept that appears and reappears in the life of Barack Obama.

First, there was the young Obama, as described by Obama himself, in terms of taking instruction from his stepfather:
“With Lolo, I learned how to eat small green chili peppers raw with dinner (plenty of rice), and, away from the dinner table, I was introduced to dog meat (tough), snake meat (tougher), and roasted grasshopper (crunchy). Like many Indonesians, Lolo followed a brand of Islam that could make room for the remnants of more ancient animist and Hindu faiths. He explained that a man took on the powers of whatever he ate: One day soon, he promised, he would bring home a piece of tiger meat for us to share.”
Notice how the individual will of the child is missing. The father figure teaches; the child learns how to eat. He receives instruction. He has feelings in that he reports the texture (but not the taste) of the various foods, but we hear absolutely nothing about whether he resisted these impositions or felt any sort of disgust. What happened happened. He was in Indonesia, things were like this there, Lolo had his ideas, and Obama existed in that milieu, which was tough/crunchy and infused with spiritual beliefs.

And now, Obama, President of the United States, is married to a woman who purports to teach us all how to eat. She's not forcing us to do anything. And despite some recent talk on the subject, the government has never undertaken to require us to eat broccoli. But young Obama wasn't forced to eat dog. He "learned." He was "introduced." (Fido, meet Barack. Barack, meet Fido... meat Fido.) It's instruction, not compulsion.

And maybe you will eat what you're told.


"After months of depicting Mr. Romney as the ultimate squishy, double-talking, no-core soul, Team Obama is shifting gears."

"Senior administration officials, along with Democratic and campaign officials, all say their strategy moving forward will be to tell the world that Mr. Romney has a core after all — and it’s deep red."

Suddenly, Mitt Romney is a big old right-winger.

"He was my bosom buddy friend to the end, one of the last true great spirits of my or any other generation."

"This is just so sad to talk about. I still can remember the first day I met him and the last day I saw him. We go back pretty far and had been through some trials together. I'm going to miss him, as I'm sure a whole lot of others will too."

Bob Dylan, on the death of Levon Helm.

From a list of links at that link, I see that Rolling Stone once rated Levon Helm the 91st greatest singer of all time. From the explanation why:
Since Papa Garth Hudson didn't really sing, I always felt that, vocally, Levon was the father figure in the Band. He always seems strong and confident, like a father calling you home, or sometimes scolding you. The beauty in Richard Manuel's singing was often the sense of pain and darkness he conveyed. Rick Danko had a lot of melancholy to his voice as well, but he could also be a little more goofy. They were all different shades of color in the crayon box, and Levon's voice is the equivalent of a sturdy old farmhouse that has stood for years in the fields, weathering all kinds of change yet remaining unmovable.
I don't follow the bands today. Do they still have bands where different singers sing differently?

"My Hispanic surname is from my adoptive, now deceased, father. Since childhood I was told I was Hispanic."

"And unlike my blue-eyed, sandy-haired mother, I have dark hair and dark eyes and look Hispanic. This is the ethnicity that’s been checked off for me on all school and other forms. My parents always told me this might give me an edge for college admissions or some government jobs. I have recently found out I’m not Hispanic. My mother told me my biological father was Mediterranean, maybe Armenian. I make good grades and was accepted into a good college on my own merits. I've been offered a substantial financial scholarship available only for Hispanic students. Is it ethical to take it?"

If you think the answer so obviously "no" that anyone getting as far as writing it down should see that to ask the question is to demonstrate to yourself that the answer is "no," then you should read the advice columnist Emily Yoffe, who answers "yes."

Have you seen the cover of Newsweek?

5 or 10 years ago, it was a routine, almost daily practice for me to wander around a bookstore and so I always knew what was on the covers of the usual magazines like Newsweek. You could catch my eye. Nowadays, my daily glancing about is done on line, and crafty editors can't grab me with striking covers. But I did notice this:

Now, that's really silly. Who is this "working woman"? I guess by "working woman," Newsweek means a fashion model. And for all the striving to convey sexuality, the particular woman — with her plank chest and clothes-hanger shoulders — epitomizes abstemiousness, not lust of any kind. Anyway, had I seen that on the newsstand, I would have laughed at the embarrassingly striving effort to lure me into checking out the article. Don't I want to know "Why Surrender Is a Feminist Dream"? Uh, no. I was with the radical feminists back in the late 1980s/early 1990s when it seemed very important to take "The Story of O" seriously. And to despise Katie Roiphe, by the way. Who is the author of the Newsweek cover story, though her name isn't on the cover.

Why did the feminists attack Roiphe back then? The daughter of a famous feminist, she'd come out with a book "The Morning After: Fear, Sex and Feminism" when she was only 26, undermining the work of feminists who'd strained to expand the category of behavior to which the term "rape" attaches:
Writing for The New Yorker, Katha Pollitt delivered a scathing review of The Morning After, writing, "It is a careless and irresponsible performance, poorly argued and full of misrepresentations, slapdash research, and gossip. She may be, as she implies, the rare grad student who has actually read 'Clarissa,' but when it comes to rape and harassment she has not done her homework."
Oh, but that was nearly 20 years ago. I haven't been keeping track of Katie Roiphe since then, though I see I have a tag for her. I don't remember mentioning her on the blog before, but obviously I have. Anyway, she's getting cranked through the Tina-Brownified Newsweek that I'm not going to read, but I did notice the Virginia Heffernan attack on Roiphe's cover story:
Tina, my onetime boss, from whom in the late 1990s I learned the dark arts of buzz production...
Were vibrators involved?
... loves to seduce and betray female writers. And she's got skills. As she once proudly told the editorial team at her short-lived magazine Talk, she likes to ask lady writers to deliver humiliating "personal histories" that feature self-loathing and lurid intimate disclosures, on the promise that they can publish anonymously.

Once the droning, predictable, scandalous articles are done—Daphne Merkin likes to be spanked!!!!!—Tina appeals to the writer's vanity. The article is terse and fearless and elegant! You're Joan Didion! (always Joan Didion). You must put your name on this!

Disgrace. You want to know about gender politics during this trumped-up "war on women"? That's one way power is wielded between women—the alpha girl feigns sympathy to get her henchwoman to confess or act out and then sits back and sneers—and it's no joke. 
I'm cutting a lot here. Please read the whole thing. Roiphe, per Heffernan, "sneers" at the "older, suburban, possibly Midwestern woman" who is titillated by this popular new porn book "Shades of Grey," and this supposedly entertaining sneering is leveraged by Roiphe's own sexual confessions:
Tina has forced Roiphe into this uncomfortable pose, and in public (does any woman really want to boast, "I'm more twisted and accustomed to sexual violence than anyone!"), and Roiphe comparably trusses up Newsweek readers. Over a series of bad-faith and gibberish paragraphs, she sets up the reader as a hayseed who is turned on by lite porn because she's never seen how they do it in Berlin or whatever; or—worse still—so unsuccessfully feminine and so outside of the charmed circle of female literary power that she's satisfied by regular guys who don't hit her. 
The real sadism, it seems, comes from the powerful editor (Brown) who once oppressed Heffernan, who longs to get the upper hand at long last. Now, that's lurid (but not at all sexy, unless you're way more into the world of publishing newsrags than I am).

Anyway, I'm reading Heffernan, because I wandered by Slate this morning and saw a piece that successfully caught my eye with the title "Why Is Virginia Heffernan Being Sexist Toward Katie Roiphe?" It was written by a character with the silly name J. Bryan Lowder. He says:
Heffernan suggests that Roiphe has been “humiliated” by the article, but, by my reading, it’s the former who’s actually out to humiliate the latter in some twisted form of victim-blaming. It’s as if Heffernan is saying, “Tina Brown editorially raped you, Katie Roiphe, so why don’t you just slink away in disgrace!”
Key words: by my reading. Heffernan had her reading and you, J. Bryan, have yours. And your reading is that her reading is not the right reading. Readings, readings, readings. If it's all readings, we can choose which one to read, can't we? And Heffernan is more readable. And she's got the inside experience with Brown. Meanwhile — I just got to the end of J. Bryan's cryin' and I see he's "a former student and research assistant of Roiphe’s." Ha. I stand by my choice of readings.

April 19, 2012

"If being a louse were a crime, John Edwards would hang for it."

"But he is instead facing prison for alleged campaign-finance violations, and it is our obligation to come unenthusiastically to his defense. He may be guilty of bribery, and if he were a sitting senator he would likely be guilty of gross ethics violations, but the facts do not support prosecuting Edwards under campaign-finance laws."

Say the editors of The National Review.

"Levon Helm, who helped to forge a deep-rooted American music as the drummer and singer for the Band..."

"... died on Thursday in Manhattan. He was 71 and lived in Woodstock, N.Y."
Mr. Helm gave his drums a muffled, bottom-heavy sound that placed them in the foundation of the arrangements, and his tom-toms were tuned so that their pitch would bend downward as the tone faded. Mr. Helm didn’t call attention to himself. Three bass-drum thumps at the start of one of the Band’s anthems, “The Weight,” were all that he needed to establish the song’s gravity.
Beautiful. So sorry to lose this man.

"Show you're proud to be a Democrat—claim your free bumper sticker!"

Says the Democratic National Committee, at this page where I was sent by email that said: "Show people exactly where you stand in this year's election." But look at the sticker:

Is that really out-and-proud about being a Democrat? Not a Republican. It seems modest and even a bit ashamed, sort of like well, at least I'm not a Republican.

"Yeah, it’s wrong to make a woman feel emasculated on what should be one of the most empowering days of her life..."

".... but it’s not rape."

Speaking of precision with words... emasculate? Either figurative language is okay or it's not. Take a position.

"Reading fiction is important."

"It is a vital means of imagining a life other than our own, which in turn makes us more empathetic beings. Following complex story lines stretches our brains beyond the 140 characters of sound-bite thinking, and staying within the world of a novel gives us the ability to be quiet and alone, two skills that are disappearing faster than the polar icecaps."

"Shaving your balding head is like breaking up with someone before he or she can break up with you."

"Or like marching into your boss’s office and saying: 'You can’t fire me. I quit.'"
After all, nothing screams “gradual decline” like thinning or retreating hair. It’s a constant voice of anxiety whining, “It’s only going to get worse!” But with a shaved head, it can’t get any worse. There’s no voice of anxiety. You’ve already gone ahead and chosen the nuclear option.

"A double-vanilla ticket will be attacked as un-diverse by the media."

Double-vanilla! Michael Barone uses the term in discussing Mitt Romney's reasons for picking a white male VP. (His "vanilla" males are Paul Ryan, Rob Portman, Mitch Daniels, and Bob McDonnell.)

Did Barone invent that term? He says "what opponents might call a double-vanilla ticket." Do opponents already say that or is that a Barone invention?

Is "double vanilla" an acceptable term?
pollcode.com free polls 

Warren Buffet has "devoted the vast majority of his wealth to those around the world who are suffering, or sick, or in need of help."

President Obama writes for Time Magazines "100 Most Influential People" list (which, of course, he also appears on).

Is it really true? The vast majority of his wealth? The majority would be >50%, but what's the vast majority? That would have to be something upwards of 90%, right? Buffet's given that much of his money away? Or does the truth of the statement depend on the meaning of the word "devoted"? A big old capitalist could claim that investing in your own burgeoning business is devoting your wealth to the greater good. And there's also room to maneuver inside the phrase "those... in need of help." Your friends and family and you yourself need help, right?

ADDED: Based on the comments to this post and a quick read of the "Philanthropy" section of Buffet's Wikipedia bio, I can see that the "devotion" to which our President refers is Buffet's announced plans for what will happen to his money after he dies. Buffet doesn't "believe in dynastic wealth." And there's also the "Gates-Buffett Giving Pledge," which is a pledge — not a legal obligation — to give at least 50% — the majority, possible not the vast majority — to charity. But Buffet has made statements of intent to leave 99% of his wealth to charity.

In the comments, Hoosier Daddy says: "Anyone ask Warren why he's not donating his wealth to the IRS rather than some private charity?" Quayle says: "So if Buffet voluntarily devoted his wealth, why do we need the government to take wealth by force?"

"Obesity is a manifestation of a cultural deprivation in its most displeasing-to-look-at form."

Just a quote from this Politico article "10 little-known facts about Ted Nugent."

Here's a quote from me, chez Meadhouse, just now: "Boy, Ted Nugent is really getting himself some great publicity."

Or do you think he's got a problem because he said something bad? It's Ted Nugent! How is this bad for him? He's a bad boy. Bad is good. And now the Secret Service men are hot on his trail, just when the Secret Service men aren't really well set up to receive publicity.
Secret Service officials planning a wild night of fun in Colombia did some of their own advanced work last week, booking a party space at the Hotel Caribe before heading out to the night clubs, hotel sources tell ABC News exclusively.
ABC needs editors. The term is "advance work," not "advanced work," which sounds like something they'd give you in the gifted class, which you don't belong in if you write like that.
As first reported by ABC, the men went to the “Pley Club” brothel, where they drank expensive whiskey and bragged that they worked for President Obama. The men were also serviced by prostitutes at the club.
But the night didn’t end there. The men brought women from the Pley Club back to the hotel and also picked up additional escorts from other clubs and venues around town, sources tell ABC News.
But, hey, they're tracking down Ted Nugent, who might be threatening the President... who, by the way, is threatening poodles.

Man, I am experiencing cultural deprivation in a most displeasing-to-look-at form.

UPDATE: Nugent cleared:
"Good, solid, professional meeting concluding that I have never made any threats of violence towards anyone. The meeting could not have gone better."

If you wanted to improve your writing by specializing in one part of speech...

... pick verbs.

"Do poor urban neighborhoods lack places to buy fresh produce and is that contributing to obesity?"

Myth of the "food desert" debunked.
Within a couple of miles of almost any urban neighborhood, “you can get basically any type of food,” said Roland Sturm of the RAND Corporation, lead author of one of the studies. “Maybe we should call it a food swamp rather than a desert,” he said....

In one neighborhood in Camden, N.J., where 80 percent of children are eligible for a free school lunch, children bought empanadas, sodas and candy at a grocer, while adults said they had no trouble finding produce. Wedged in among fast food restaurants, convenience stores, sit-down restaurants, take-out Chinese and pizza parlors were three places with abundant produce: Pathmark and Save-A-Lot supermarkets and a produce stand.
People are just making bad choices. Time once again for the liberal meme: Choice won't make you happy. Cue Barry "Paradox of Choice" Schwartz to tell us once again that "When the choice set is larger, people tend to make worse choices."

The Obama-eats-dog story is needed to nullify the Shame-of-Seamus tale.

I understand why Obama opponents are frying this story to a crisp, e.g., James Taranto:
One time Barack Obama went to an Indian restaurant and ordered the lassi. Was he ever disappointed when the waiter brought him a yogurt drink!
And Instapundit... just go over there and scroll. It's brimming with Obama-eats-dog nuggets. Like this link to "Dogs Against Obama" — which corresponds to the much promoted "Dogs Against Romney."

My preference would be for everyone to stop talking about the dog stories, but that's not how speech works. No one notices that some speakers are refraining from speaking. In a free-speech marketplace of ideas, you've got to provide more speech. You might say, well, let's be high-minded about this and say things like: Let's avoid distractions and discuss things that really matter, like the economy. But that won't drive the Seamus story away. You've got to offer an equivalent product in the marketplace of ideas, and Obama-eats-dog is that product.

ADDED: The Obama-eats-dog meme makes jokes — especially visual humor — incredibly easy. Everybody's suddenly a photoshop comic genius with stuff like this:

You can scream for mercy now, but the cat is out of the bag the dog is out of the strapped-to-the-top-of-the-car kennel.

April 18, 2012

At the Back-to-Back Café...


... you don't have to get along.

"I tell him, 'Baby, my cash money'... They never told me they were with Obama... They were very discreet."

The "high-priced escort" and the Secret Service agents.
There was a language gap between the woman, who said she was 24 and declined to give her full name, and the American who sat beside her at the bar and eventually invited her to his room. She agreed, stopped on the way to buy condoms but told him he would have to give her a gift. He asked how much. Not knowing he worked for Mr. Obama but figuring he was well heeled, she said, she told him $800.

The price alone, she said, indicates she is an escort, not a prostitute. “You have higher rank,” she said. “An escort is someone who a man can take out to dinner. She can dress nicely, wear nice makeup, speak and act like a lady. That’s me.”
In the end, though, he offered her $30, a really insulting amount. Hence the scene.

UPDATE: Blogger unpublished this post and said "Your content has violated our Illegal activities policy." This post is a link to a New York Times article that quotes and comments on the article. Once again, Blogger has interpreted a report about prostitution as participation in prostitution. 

UPDATE 2: Blogger quickly reinstated this post. I appreciate that. But I do hope it improves its crime detection. 

Goodbye to Dick Clark.

Eternally young, he was 82.

We watched "Bandstand" all the time after school in the 1960s. I remember when it was Little Stevie Wonder's 13th birthday and he played his big hit song "Fingertips" on that show. That was such a long time ago. I can't find that.

But I found this:

"Dog Wars Escalate: Barack Obama Ate Dog Meat."

Oh, my. The war on women wasn't titillating enough. Now, it's the war on dogs.

What's the worse atrocity in the war on dogs?
pollcode.com free polls 

"Judge who signed Walker recall petition to stay on John Doe case."

"Milwaukee County Judge Dennis Cimpl said Wednesday he would not step aside from hearing a criminal case against a county appointee of Gov. Scott Walker, arguing his signing of a recall petition against Walker wasn't evidence of bias."
The embezzlement case against Kevin Kavanaugh has nothing to do with Walker, Cimpl said, who nonetheless argued that his support for making Walker face voters in a recall didn't mean the judge held any animosity toward the governor.

"It has nothing to do with Scott Walker as a person," Cimpl said in court. "I voted for Scott Walker as county executive two times. I thought he did a decent job as county executive.

65% of like voters agree with the adage: "A government powerful enough to do everything you want is also powerful enough to take away everything you have."

A new Rasmussen poll. (Only 23% disagree.)
Just 10% of all voters believe the government should be allowed to do anything that a majority of voters want. Seventy-nine percent (79%) say there should be legal limits on government to protect the natural and civil rights of individuals. Ten percent (10%) more are not sure.

Ninety-two percent (92%) agree that it is important for there to be strict limits on government so that it cannot take away individual rights and freedom, and that includes 72% who think it’s Very Important. 
I find it bizarre that there are any Americans of the "likely voter" persuasion who think the majority should always prevail over the individual. Maybe they didn't understand the question. Maybe they think that the majority in America is such that it would never agree to anything seriously violative of anything that ought to be conceived of as an individual right.  

The poll also asked "Which is more important: ensuring that leaders are selected by voters or insuring that there are strict limits on government so that it cannot take away individual rights and freedom?" 54% chose rights. Only 37% chose democracy first.

Do you think Rasmussen is doing this poll now in an effort to embolden the Supreme Court as it considers the health-care law... or, more modestly, that it's prepping the public to embrace a decision striking down the law? I note the absence of a question about whether the federal government has only limited, enumerated powers, which would be the basis for striking down the law. That case is not about individual rights. But speaking of unasked poll questions, I'd like to see a poll that asked whether the requirement that everyone buy comprehensive health insurance is more of a problem because it may exceed Congress's enumerated powers or because it may infringe on individual rights.

Even though this poll didn't ask the legally relevant question, the linked article reporting the poll ends with a reference to an earlier poll that said 69% think Congress lacks the power to require everyone to buy health insurance and 54% expect Supreme Court to strike down that requirement.

By the way, Rasmussen divides its "likely voters" into 2 categories: "Political Class" and "Mainstream." On the question whether democracy or rights were more important, there was a radical divergence, with 85% of the Political Class putting democracy first and 62% of Mainstream folks putting rights first. Now, what's really fascinating is to think about that divergence in connection with the questions they use to figure out whether to put the various poll respondents into the Mainstream or the Political Class category:
-- Generally speaking, when it comes to important national issues, whose judgment do you trust more - the American people or America’s political leaders?

-- Some people believe that the federal government has become a special interest group that looks out primarily for its own interests. Has the federal government become a special interest group?

-- Do government and big business often work together in ways that hurt consumers and investors?
That is, you are categorized as "Political Class" if you don't trust the people and you do trust the government. Why are these the people who think "ensuring that leaders are selected by voters" is more important than "insuring that there are strict limits on government so that it cannot take away individual rights and freedom"? It would seem that these people — whoever they are! — are not really big enthusiasts about democracy. It's more that they are against "strict limits on government" — which was the phrase in the question asking for a preference for democracy or rights. To pick rights, you had to warm up to the concept of "strict limits on government so that it cannot take away individual rights and freedom."

Strict is a strong word, and it can rub you either way when you hear the pollster ask the question. It will jump out, but which way will it jump out? The populist "Mainstream" people may, perhaps, pull up the notion of staunchly defended rights against a potentially oppressive government. The "Political Class" person, by contrast, pictures government hampered by overstated, inflated ideas about supposed rights.

What pops into your head when you hear the phrase "strict limits on government so that it cannot take away individual rights and freedom"?

pollcode.com free polls 

And please don't complain about the way I've phrased the poll. I'm not trying to be a professional-style pollster! Just pick the answer that's closer to how you feel. If you want to expatiate about the actual images that rolled through your head, tell us all about it in the comments.

"Although women tend to love the notion of government control more than men do, it is women who will be told they'll have to cut back."

"On treatments. And years. You know we've been taking more than our share."

That's the end of a post I wrote in 2009, which is quoted chez Instapundit this morning (and sending me traffic). Glenn is linking to something about men not going in for the kind of routine screening tests that women tend to get.  He quips: "It’s all about fairness. When women’s life expectancy is reduced to match men’s that’ll be fair. It’s Buffett-rule logic applied to health care. . . "

Ouch! Anyway, there's also a new article at the NYT pushing us back about screening:
Certainly, the rationale behind screening seems obvious. The earlier cancers are diagnosed, the more often lives will be saved, right? With enough screening, we might even stop cancer.

If only. Finding cancer early isn’t enough. To reduce cancer deaths, treatment must work, yet it doesn’t always. Second, it must work better when started earlier. But for some cancers, later treatment works as well. (That’s why there is no big push for testicular cancer screening — it is usually curable at any stage.)
Usually curable at any stage? I'm just going to move on and assume my guess about why is true.
... So how can we be confident that getting a screening test regularly is a good idea? The only way to be sure is to look at the results of randomized trials comparing cancer deaths in screened and unscreened people. Even when screening “works” in such trials, the size of the benefit observed is surprisingly low: Generally, regular screening reduces fatalities from various cancers between 15 percent and 25 percent.

What does that mean? Think about a “20 percent off” sale at a store. Whether you save a lot or a little depends on the item’s regular price. You’ll get huge savings on a diamond ring, pennies on a pack of gum.
Wait. I'm trying to catch up with your metaphors, NYT. I'm picturing the typical NYT reader assuming: The diamond ring is my breasts. The pack of gum is your testicles.

A torture victim cannot sue the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian Liberation Organization under the Torture Victim Protection Act of 1991.

Says a unanimous Supreme Court, in an opinion (PDF) written by Justice Sotomayor. Sotomayor — why, by the way was nominated by a President who said was looking for a Justice with "empathy" — explained that the statute created a claim against "individuals," and that word only includes natural human beings and not artificial entities.
And no one, we hazard to guess, refers in normal parlance to an organization as an “individual.”...

Congress does not, in the ordinary course, employ the word any differently. The Dictionary Act instructs that “[i]n determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, unless the context indicates otherwise . . . the wor[d] ‘person’ . . . include[s] corporations, companies, associations, firms, partnerships, societies, and joint stock companies, as well as individuals.” 1 U. S. C. §1 (emphasis added). With the phrase “as well as,” the definition marks “individual” as distinct from the list of artificial entities that precedes it.
In law, it's the norm to see an organization as a "person," but not as an "individual."

ADDED: My post title, picking up language in the case syllabus, says "Palestinian Liberation Organization" when the real name of the defendant is "Palestine Liberation Organization." The same error appears in Sotormayor's opinion for the majority and Breyer's concurring opinion.

"Capitalism pays for socialism."

Says Alderman Mark Clear at the Madison City Council meeting last night, which denied Occupy Madison an extension of its permit to maintain an encampment on a city block which is slated for development. Full context at the end of this post.

ADDED: This seems like a good place to repeat that old Margaret Thatcher adage: "The trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money."

"Once our babymaking days are over, fat is stored in larger quantities and also stored more centrally, where it is easiest to carry about."

"That way, if times get tough we can use it for our own survival, thus freeing up food for our younger relatives."

Should we not honor fat, including — precisely — the very thing we've been hating: the way we get fat in middle age?
These changes strongly suggest that middle age is a controlled and preprogrammed process not of decline but of development....

[Middle age is] a resilient, healthy, energy-efficient and productive phase of life that has laid the foundations for our species’s success. Indeed, the multiple roles of middle-aged people in human societies are so complex and intertwined, it could be argued that they are the most impressive living things yet produced by natural selection.
The fat middle of middle age is an advantage evolution built into the human animal.

By the way energy-efficient is the right term. People who complain about their "slow metabolism" as if it's dysfunctional are not thinking straight. They're just sad they can't without consequences be the fuel-guzzlers they'd love to be. (If we personalized our cars more, we might see our gas-guzzler cars as lovable gourmands, taking lusty pleasure in scarfing down lots of extra food. And — lucky them! — they never put on a pound!)

Madison's Mayor Soglin: "That is the most reactionary, right-wing, tea party argument I have heard.”

Said to a defender of the Occupy Madison encampment, which has occupied a city-owned parking lot since last fall.
Allen [from Occupy] “tea party argument?”

Mayor, says “yes”, that is the most selfish, right-wing, tea party argument I heard, I listened to it on Tuesday night, and to me that was the most offensive thing I heard all evening. That the site didn’t cost anything, that there was no public expense.

Allen asks what was the public expense that would not be spent three or four times as much if these people were out in the community?

Mayor says the city has a public health department. Who pays for it?

Allen says “How many people out there were served by the Public Health Department?”

The mayor says you are missing the point.

Allen says I guess I am.
And last night, after a long meeting, the City Council voted against extending the permit to use the parking lot.

But you should have heard the crying and pleading from dedicated Madison folk about how important it was to keep open this wholly unregulated, health-code flouting shanty town, which, it was argued, was housing the homeless.

ADDED: I was rushing to an early morning appointment as I put this post up, so let me elaborate a little.

"A squirrel, eating a rose!"

April 17, 2012

"This is not a natural illness. It's an intentional act to poison schoolgirls."

"We are 100 percent sure that the water they drunk inside their classes was poisoned. This is either the work of those who are against girls' education or irresponsible armed individuals."

If you really want to locate the "war on women," check out Afghanistan.

Wait. The Secret Service Scandal has to do with homosexuality?

Oh... I see what you're saying.

Man, that's stupid.

"To say that Chelsea’s hire hurts the credibility of television news is a debate for J-school deans."

"But there is a larger issue at stake here for our American psyche: Chelsea is a Clinton, ergo, she deserves a place in our heart, alongside her parents. So why can’t we connect?"

Oh, who cares? We should feel good about ourselves for not connecting.

"What is the connection between my being pro-life and working at Hooters?"

"Is there a hypocritical angle here that I’m not aware of? Is Hooters performing abortions?"

Crazy gender politics at the Wisconsin level.

Via Melissa Clouthier, who details how "Governor Scott Walker’s campaign spokeswoman Ciara Matthews finds herself on the receiving end of misogyny by feminists and leftist press."

Via Instapundit, who says, sarcastically, "Slut Shaming Is Okay When Feminists Do It."

ADDED: Wait. Cloutier originated the quote "Slut Shaming Is Okay When Feminists Do It." Instapundit added: "Don't be silly. Everything is okay when feminists do it."

Personally, I wouldn't concede that those people are feminists, but I can anticipate the pushback I'll get for trying to rescue the word from those who would abuse it. I know some of you don't think that effort is worth anything. But I do.

At the Anonymous Café...


... you don't have to say who you are.

Ex-GSA chief Martha Johnson resigns and (non)apologizes: "I will mourn for the rest of my life the loss of my appointment."

It starts out well: "I will mourn for the rest of my life..."

But what does she mourn? The loss of my appointment. She lost her job over this. That's what really hurts.

I just wanted to highlight that, in case you were distracted by the much flashier incident of Jeff Neely taking the 5th.

"Barack Obama made an uncharacteristic error, more akin to those of his predecessor George W Bush, by referring to the Falkland Islands as the Maldives."

Now, there's a pathetic subheadline.

They don't even say it seems more akin... which it does because the media pounced on anything that was a Bush misstep. Obama, by contrast, has been portrayed as a mastermind. He, the great genius, made a gaffe?!

I'll let somebody else compile a list of Obama's 30 dumbest gaffes, put it next to an equivalent list for Bush. Here's a start: 57 states.

I'll bet the 2 lists are damned... akin.

"Get her off the stage right now" — said of Trayvon's mother...

... who's not on script but speaking like a human being with her own moral core.
"One of the things that I still believe in, a person should apologize when they are actually remorseful for what they've done. I believe it was an accident. I believe that it just got out of control and he couldn't turn the clock back. I would ask him, did he know that that was a minor, that that was a teenager, and that he did not have a weapon?"
What would you do if you were monitoring a dark, rainy world and you suddenly encountered someone who had a mind of her own and said what she really thought?

She doesn't look like she belongs here.... get her off the stage right now....

April 16, 2012

Gallup headlines "Romney, Obama in Tight Race as Gallup Daily Tracking Begins."

Reading that, I just assumed Romney was ahead, which he is, by 2 points. If it had been reversed, and Obama had 47 and Romney 45, do you think they'd have said "Romney, Obama in Tight Race as Gallup Daily Tracking Begins"?

Now, what's interesting is that both Democrats and Republicans back their own guy 90%. The difference is in the independents, who break 45% for Romney and only 39% for Obama.

That's a poll of registered voters, so it's very important to factor in the likelihood of voting. 80% of Romney voters say they "definitely will vote" and only 76% of Obama voters say that. Independents are also at the 76% likely level. So... tight race? That's all you can say?

Of course, Rasmussen has been doing a daily tracking poll of likely voters for a long time. Today's poll put Romney at 47% and Obama at 44.

Scott Walker crushes the competition...

... in the Daily Kos's Public Policy Polling poll.
These numbers show a drop for Democrats from PPP's last survey of the race, which of course makes you ask, why? What's changed? Our pollster, Tom Jensen, offers his thoughts:
The biggest change is probably that this was our first time using a likely voter screen...
Ah ha ha ha! They finally polled likely voters. Oh, how lovely it was living in fantasy land. What's changed??!!! They decided to try... the real world.

What an embarrassment!

"The best advice I ever got on where to meet a woman was..."

"... to go out and buy all the magazines that women are reading about where to meet men, find out where you're supposed to be, and go there."

"I am not for or against living together, but I am for young adults knowing that, far from safeguarding against divorce and unhappiness..."

"... moving in with someone can increase your chances of making a mistake — or of spending too much time on a mistake."

Pro-Walker signage.

At Saturday's Tax Day rally, as photographed by Meade:


That's actually David Blaska, by the way. (Should we be repurposing the female candidate's name like that? Doesn't it make it harder to bitch about Sly mocking Rebecca Kleefisch?)

I don't know who this is, but I like the composition:


And I like this composition and don't know who this guy is, who looks like he's in more of a relationship with me than he really is:


Meade says I backed up into him, which accounts for the composition.

By the way, lots of people came up to me and asked me if I was Ann Althouse, and I invariably confessed that I was (and am). They all said they read the blog and liked it or thanked me for it, and none of them said "Where's Meade?," which made me realize all the more that those people at those other rallies who come up to me and say "Where's Laurence?" are really creepy.

"Physicist writes four-page math paper to beat $400 traffic ticket."

"The paper concludes that due to the officer's placement, the sneeze and the obstructing car, the cop's 'perception of reality did not properly reflect reality.'"

Potential "upset" in the Wisconsin recall race.

From a Journal Sentinel column titled "John Doe probe looms over Walker's recall election":
Republican activists will be upset if Milwaukee prosecutors file complaints against additional Walker aides before [the recall election on] June 5, arguing that the Democratic district attorney would be trying to influence the election.

But Democrats will be equally upset if charges wait until after the election, especially if Walker wins. Likewise, Republicans would accuse [Milwaukee County District Attorney John] Chisholm of trying to use the courts to tar the governor coming out of the recall race.
"Upset" is a funny word. Did you know that it originally meant "Set up, erected, raised up" (OED)? How did it get... upset? I think the origin is in the stomach. The meaning "Physically disordered" is "said esp. of the stomach." It seems to be the same "up" we find in "throw up" and "upchuck"!

64% of likely voters think voter fraud is a problem and 74% think voter ID laws don't discriminate.

According to a new Rasmussen poll.
This includes 35% who consider it a Very Serious problem and seven percent (7%) who view it as Not At All Serious....

Eighty-two percent (82%) believe all voters should be required to prove their identity before being allowed to vote. Only 14% oppose such a requirement.

Just 21% think laws requiring photo identification at the polls discriminate against some voters. Seventy-three percent (73%) disagree and feel that such laws do not discriminate.
Support for voter ID laws has increased over the years. It was 72% in June 2006 (as opposed to 82% today). The notion that these laws are discriminatory is losing ground. Last month, 67% said the laws don't discriminate, and 73% say that now.
Most voters across partisan lines express confidence in election results, but Democrats are more confident than the others. A plurality (49%) of voters in President Obama’s party consider voter fraud a serious problem in America today, but that compares to 84% of Republicans and 58% of voters not affiliated with either of the major parties.
What accounts for that split? Do people feel more confident that the voting is accurate if they think the fraudulent votes, if any, are coming in on their side? (And conversely, that people worry about fraud when they picture the bad votes counting for the other side?)

Will this poll make Democrats think they should abandon their attacks on voter ID laws? I don't think so. Whatever people think consciously when asked these poll questions, the issue works as a way to keep massaging brains with the message that racial discrimination is ever out there, ready to burst forth, unless constant vigilance is maintained, and only the Democratic Party will maintain that vigilance for you. After all, they keep talking about these terrible voter ID laws. 

Paul Ryan invokes the Catholic "principle of subsidiarity" in support of small-government politics.

NPR reports, noting something Ryan said on the Christian Broadcasting Network:
"Through our civic organizations, through our churches, through our charities — through all of our different groups where we interact with people as a community — that's how we advance the common good," Ryan said.
NPR gets a counterpoint from a polisci prof at Catholic University:
But Stephen Schneck... says he thinks Ryan is "completely missing the boat and not understanding the real heart, the real core, of Catholic social teaching."

Schneck says Catholicism sees everyone as part of a mystical body, serving one another. True, the New Testament does not specifically speak to the government's role. "But charities and individuals and churches can't do it all," Schneck says. "When charities are already stretched to their limit, Catholic social teaching expects the state to step up and to fill that gap."
I'm no expert on Catholic doctrine, but it seems to me that the key difference is whether you want individuals and relatively small associations of individuals to experience the inward motivations and choices to be charitable in giving and ministering to others, or whether you want a rational, overarching system that determines what everyone must give and what everyone ought to receive. In the second view, you care more about meeting all the needs, and you don't depend on the various individuals deciding to be good. In the first view, the needs create opportunities and tests for everyone to notice and to care enough to do something, to give. If you set up a governmental structure to deal with those needs, then everyone can move on and assume needs are being met, the experts will tweak the structure and get the taxing and spending something reasonably close to right.

So, now can you figure out how Jesus wants you to vote?

Red states and blue states.

A helpful depiction, which appears at the Wikipedia article "Red states and blue states," which I was reading in an effort to determine whether it's true — as I'd long assumed — that Republicans got the color red because if red had been assigned to the more leftward party, it would insinuate Communism. I read the entire "Origins of the color scheme" section, and there's a complicated story going back to 1888. ("Grover Cleveland and Benjamin Harrison used maps that coded blue for the Republicans, the color Cleveland perceived to represent the Union and 'Lincoln's Party,' and red for the Democrats.") Apparently, things have gone back and forth, and the current fixed color assignment dates back to the post-Election Day squabbles of the year 2000:
In the days following the 2000 election, whose outcome was unclear for some time after election day, major media outlets began conforming to the same color scheme because the electoral map was continually in view, and conformity made for easy and instant viewer comprehension.
Ha ha. Love the super-bland Wikipediaese. Whose outcome was unclear for some time after election day... The election results were so confusing, that MSM decided to bestow some clarity upon us. At least we could understand one thing: Blue means Democrat. Red means Republican. And we gripped tight to that childish simplification ever after.

"Breivik finally shows real emotion..."

"... apparently moved to tears by his 12-minute Youtube film on the supposed 'Cultural Marxist' onslaught on Europe. This outlines the alleged threat to western civilisation, before hailing past heroes, including Vlad the Impaler. It was when he appeared that Breivik broke down."

At other times, watching video related to the Norway murders, Breivik sits "fiddling with his tie as he watches, a blank expression on his face."

Let's review the newest ads in the Wisconsin recall race.

Tom Barrett — the Milwaukee mayor who is running in the Democratic primary — has an ad in which state senator Jon Erpenbach — who, we hear, "helped lead the fight" in the "war" that Scott Walker started —  does all the talking:

We see pictures of the protesters filling the state capitol rotunda. Erpenbach is being used to vouch for Barrett's fidelity to the ideals and agenda of the protesters.

Next is Kathleen Falk — the former Dane County executive, also running in the Democratic primary:

Like Barrett's ad, this one begins with a black and white photograph and a female voiceover. Barrett had a picture of mean-looking Scott Walker and an unnamed script-reader telling us about the "war in Wisconsin." Falk's ad has a super-cute picture of Falk as a little girl, and the voice is Falk's — she grew up in Milwaukee and Waukesha county. There's tinkling piano music. Then we see, in color, Kathleen Falk, sitting in a warmly sunlit room, her hands clasped around a warm yellow mug. She's murmuring about "simple Wisconsin values" — "work hard, be honest" — "trust," "truth." She brings people together: "That's the Wisconsin way."

Isn't the comparison interesting? Barrett — over there in Milwaukee — needs to connect himself to the protests in Madison, and he employs the handsome Erpenbach to assure us he's down with the struggle. Falk — who really was here during the protests and is a Dane County politician — relocates herself to Milwaukee and Waukesha, Barrett's neck of the state. There are no views of the protests or even of anyplace that reminds us of Madison. She represents "Wisconsin values" and "the Wisconsin way," which "our leaders" have "lost sight of." She doesn't even name Scott Walker.

Here's Doug La Follette. He's Wisconsin's Secretary of State, also running in the Democratic primary. He begins with a little mechanical cow, representing Wisconsin. It used to work, but it has stopped working, "because Scott Walker has betrayed the Wisconsin idea." The mechanical cow walks, then stops walking, at which point we see some unpleasant-looking protesters:

"It's time for a steady hand," says the voiceover, as we see La Follette's hands winding up the little cow and sending it to continue walking again. Okay.

The other candidate in the primary is Kathleen Vinehout, who's a state senator. Here's her YouTube channel, which doesn't seem to have any ads. I started looking at this video, because it seemed like the closest thing to an ad over there:

When I clicked through to get the code to embed that video, I saw it had "0 views"! I was the first view on that, which I'm not really even sure she wants people to see. She's giving a speech in some dark bar or casino-like place. I don't know if anyone is listening, but at 1:12, somebody off-camera drops something metallic. A pan, perhaps. Apparently, La Follette's campaign is just not modest enough to embody Wisconsin values. Undercutting the minimalism of La Follette — it's not easy!

Tax Day oratory.

If you're wondering how the crowd was harangued at the Tax Day rally here in Madison on Saturday, I haven't processed any good video clips from what we recorded. But others, with more stable and well-positioned equipment have. You can watch Vicki McKenna and Dana Loesch. And here's some singing from Krista Branch (of "I Am America" fame).

Here, Meade took this picture of Branch belting:


Here are some non-Tea Party guys mocking the National Anthem.

ADDED: Here's the video I took during the National Anthem. (You can see Meade at "rockets red glare.")

April 15, 2012

"Once upon a time there was a little red hen named Kathleen."

Writes Meade:
She lived in a party of Democrats with a cat named Tom and others and they all lived in a pretty little state which the little red hen Kathleen liked to keep clean and tidy and unionized. The little red hen Kathleen worked hard. The cat Tom liked to sleep in the sun in Milwaukee.

One day the little red hen Kathleen was working in the garden when she found a grain of discontent.

"Who will help me nurture this grain of discontent?" she asked.

"Not I," purred the cat Tom from his sunny patch in Milwaukee.

"I’ve got other things to do, and I don’t have it in me to be a good enough mother to a fifth child."

"I delight in newborn babies with their delicate weightlessness, the curl of their small fingers around my thumb, but the best thing about them now is that they belong to other people. I don’t want to bear them, feed them, bring them up, be responsible for them."

A woman, Susan Heath, writing in the present tense, describes her feelings about getting an abortion she had 34 years ago.  Now, she says, "I don’t have and never have had a single qualm about not bringing that child into the world. I know many women who have grieved greatly over the children they decided not to have, and I am thankful to have been spared that agonizing sadness of guilt and regret. I also know many women who, like me, have felt only gratitude and relief at having been able to take control over their lives safely and legally."

For a less sententious application of literary talent to the topic of abortion, check out comedienne Sarah Silverman: "Got a quickie aborsh in case R v W gets overturned" — tweeted, with pics of the actually-not-pregnant Silverman pushing out her abdomen and then sucking it way in, before-and-after style.

I take it Silverman's view of abortion is just about exactly the same as Heath's: That abortion should be legal and that women really do think carefully before getting an abortion. That's how I read the comedy and the precious, serious — curled-tiny-fingers — writing.

2 writing styles. Do you have a preference?

The present-day use of the recall in Wisconsin is far out of line with the intent of its framers.

Christian Schneider has a detailed history of the amendment to the Wisconsin constitution:
During the debate of the recall amendment, progressives argued that the recall was appropriate because it would rarely be used. That argument is now forever moot.

"The Amazing, Untrue Story Of A Sept. 11 Survivor."

Tania Head... who had "some crazy need to be a star, and that's what she wanted to be, and she became that."

Lost at age 5, with no place names, but only visual memory, a man, 25 years later, uses Google Earth to find his way back to his mother.

This is an amazing story!
"It was just like being Superman. You are able to go over and take a photo mentally and ask, 'Does this match?' And when you say, 'No', you keep on going and going and going."

Eventually Saroo hit on a more effective strategy. "I multiplied the time I was on the train, about 14 hours, with the speed of Indian trains and I came up with a rough distance, about 1,200km."

He drew a circle on a map with its centre in Calcutta, with its radius about the distance he thought he had travelled. Incredibly, he soon discovered what he was looking for: Khandwa. "When I found it, I zoomed down and bang, it just came up. I navigated it all the way from the waterfall where I used to play."

Anti-Walker counterprotesters at the Tax Day rally.


AND: This guy with the anarchy flag blew a loud whistle:


Dressing like Abe Lincoln and kissing a baby — it's Scott Walker's challenger for the Republican slot in the recall election.

It's Arthur Kohl-Riggs, whom we encountered at yesterday's Tax Day rally:


You may recognize him from many of the videos Meade and I made during last year's protests, though I didn't identify him by name back then. Here are 2. Here's an article about how he got on the primary ballot and why he's doing it:
Arthur Kohl-Riggs, a scruffy-haired 23-year-old political activist who used to serve pizza at the Children’s Museum in Madison until a few weeks ago, says he is not a "fake Republican."...

He describes himself as a “progressive Republican,” following the political lines of former Wisconsin Sen. Robert "Fighting Bob" La Follette and Abraham Lincoln....

And the reason Kohl-Riggs wants his name on the GOP ballot is because he wants to force Republicans to vote for Gov. Scott Walker in the primary instead of meddling in the Democratic primary, he said.
I find it hard to believe that Walker has to win a primary and become a party nominee. I would have thought he'd be on the recall election ballot as the incumbent. I can see in the state constitution (PDF) that the incumbent is "deemed to have filed for the recall election," and:
For any partisan office, a recall primary shall be held for each political party which is by law entitled to a separate ballot and from which more than one candidate competes for the party’s nomination in the recall election. The person receiving the highest number of votes in the recall primary for each political party shall be that party’s candidate in the recall election. Independent candidates and candidates representing political parties not entitled by law to a separate ballot shall be shown on the ballot for the recall election only.
Here's the relevant statute (PDF):
(e) For any partisan office, a recall primary shall be held for each political party which is entitled to a separate ballot under s. 5.62 (1) (b) or (2) and from which more than one candidate competes for the party’s nomination in the recall election. The primary ballot shall be prepared in accordance with s. 5.62, insofar as applicable. The person receiving the highest number of votes in the recall primary for each political party shall be that party’s candidate in the recall election. Independent candidates shall be shown on the ballot for the recall election only.
I think it's bizarre and maddening that the people of Wisconsin, having voted Walker into a 4-year term of office now must vote again, not just once, but twice. I understand the concern that Walker supporters might try to skew the Democratic primary — though it's not easy to see which way they'd want to skew it — but I think a lot of people are really sick of having to keep voting and revoting to keep what we've already voted for (and sick of having to pay for all of it).

Medical marijuana that doesn't get you high.

This tests the good faith of those who favor access to marijuana for medicinal purposes.

I particularly like the horticulturalist's name: Bill Althouse.
McAhren and Althouse started trying to breed up the CBD and breed down the THC, hoping to find a sweet spot that would provide a plant that offered optimal medicinal value with no high.

A few weeks ago, they hit the jackpot. McAhren and Althouse proudly showed me two tall, gangly plants of the new marijuana strain they call A Todo Madre – “perfect” – their miracle plant....

Althouse, who was abused as a child and was diagnosed with PTSD, is a licensed medical marijuana user as well as a producer. He tried the new plant and found it relieved his anxiety but didn’t make him feel high. “It’s a sense of well-being rather than a sense of euphoria or a high,” he said. Smoking the CBD strain didn’t bring any big “aha” moment, Althouse said. “It’s like, ‘I had a great day today.’ ”

"Whether competition among governments is good or bad comes down to the philosophical questions of what you want government to do and how much you fear government power."

Econprof N. Gregory Mankiw explains a really basic point about federalism for NYT readers:
If the government’s job is merely to provide services, like roads, schools and courts, competition among governmental producers may be as good a discipline as competition among private producers. But if government’s job is also to remedy many of life’s inequities, you may want a stronger centralized government, unchecked by competition.
A really basic point, as I said, but it's a point everyone should have down pat.

"It's fun to laugh at those Secret Service hooker antics..."

"... especially when it turns out that the whole scandal exploded because of a dispute about 47 bucks, but the truth is, this attitude of irresponsibility and entitlement has been an issue with the Secret Service for a while."

That links here:
One of 11 elite agents assigned to ensure President Obama’s protection at a summit meeting in Cartagena, Colombia, was busted after his lady of the evening refused to leave his hotel room in the morning without her fee.

That woman was one of 11 hookers hired by the agents.... An expert on the Secret Service yesterday said that, although the agents involved in the scandal were not breaking Colombian law, most of them are married and could have been exposed to blackmail.
Quite aside from whether prostitution is legal, whether anybody's married, and whether anyone is ripping anybody off, I don't see why Secret Service agents are engaging in any kind of partying at any time during at trip like this.

Tommy Thompson "raises more than GOP foes... in the U.S. Senate race" says the Wisconsin State Journal headline.

But let's take a closer look. His campaign says he's raised "roughly $660,000 in the first quarter of 2012," but ex-congressman Mark Neumann has reported $654,000, which is obviously also roughly $660,000.

And then there's Eric Hovde, whom the Journal calls a "newcomer." He hasn't held office before. He's "raised almost $110,000 since he entered the race just over a month ago." One month, times 3, is $330,000, so maybe in a quarter, he'd raise half of what Thompson and Neumann have raised. Except that Thompson and Neumann are very well known Wisconsin politicians. Hovde's just getting started. He raised $110,000 in one month. And he seems to have his own money to spend. He was a hedge fund manager, and they say he has $1.6 million on hand, which I assume encourages donors. 

And it's the Hovde ad we keep seeing on TV (mainly during Brewers games):

Looking for that ad — which I think is impressive — I ran across this other ad of his, which I hadn't noticed on TV:

3 seconds in and I said, out loud, "Wow. I see why he's doing so well" and Meade said, "Yeah." Do I need to spell it out? Here's a clue:

Here's another:

Is "liberation" an outdated word?

Yesterday, I wrote "Wouldn't it be a kick in the head if it turned out feminism served, above all, the interests of commerce and not individual liberation?"

In the comments, Leslyn said:
I don't give a flying fuck if it does. I care that it serves my individual "liberation." An outdated word. Young women (and men) are past the time of needing liberation. We have moved into empowerment.

If that also serves commercial interests (which it does), that's a nice side-effect.
I found that sad and strange for reasons that Palladian expressed a bit later:
What a bunch of grim comments. We were given our incredibly brief, beautiful lives above the soil, and what have we done with them? Worried about careers and taxes and other meaningless nonsense.

Tomorrow isn't promised to us. Death is eternal. What matters is love, and beauty, and survival.

I dream of this edifice of falsehood crashing to rubble at our happy feet.

Do what you need to survive, so that you can live in love and beauty as long as you can. Nothing else matters at all.
Let's think about liberation. What happened to that word over the years? Around 1970, everyone said "women's liberation" or "women's liberation movement," and then "liberation" was dropped. Why?

The Oxford English Dictionary has as its "1b" definition: "Freedom from restrictive or discriminatory social conventions and attitudes." The history of "liberation," used this way, goes back to 1798:
1798 Analyt. Rev. July 35 The consequences from the liberation of women reasonably to be expected, are, such as seldom fail to ensue, when any individuals, or societies, or classes of mankind are restored to their natural rights.

1888 Rep. Internat. Council Women 441 You can obtain the complete liberation of women only by working for the liberation of humanity.

1911 A. G. Chater tr. E. Key Love & Marriage vi. 203 Real liberation for women is thus impossible; the only thing possible is a new division of the burdens.

1971 Black Scholar Jan. 58/1 Those in the struggle have to deal with black separatists because they stand today as a potent obstacle to full black liberation.

1976 Listener 8 Jan. 4/2 Sexual repression and totalitarianism, on one side, and sexual liberation and revolution, on the other.

1984 A. Maupin Babycakes ix. 40 It was no longer a question of butch vs. femme, liberation vs. oppression.

2001 Genre May 37/1 Gay activists in this country and around the world were using the pink triangle as a symbol of activism and liberation. 
Isn't it interesting that the quotes are all about women until 1971, when you get "black liberation"? Did women flee from the word when black people moved in? Did "liberation" begin to sound too radical? Did the OED 1b meaning, upon encountering race, merge uncomfortably with the 2a meaning — "The action of freeing a region or its people from an oppressor or enemy force; the result of this"?

Did burgeoning sexual connotations undermine the word's usefulness? This isn't liberation in the sense of sexual liberation, the women's liberation movement wanted men to know: This isn't about sex (you're not getting more); this is about money (we're getting more). Was it something about gay people moving into the feminist territory and the women needing to draw a distinction? Women's movement leaders openly fought off what they called "the lavender menace":
[Betty] Friedan, and some other straight feminists as well, worried that the association [with lesbianism] would hamstring feminists' ability to achieve serious political change, and that stereotypes of "mannish" and "man-hating" lesbians would provide an easy way to dismiss the movement. Under her direction, NOW attempted to distance itself from lesbian causes – including omitting the New York chapter of the Daughters of Bilitis from the list of sponsors of the First Congress to Unite Women in November 1969. 
Get the sex out... get the left-wing revolutionary connotations out. Let's not say "liberation" anymore. If you think the word is outdated, that in itself is significant. Why don't you want to talk about whether the individual is escaping from restrictive or discriminatory social conventions and attitudes? Don't be afraid. I want to talk about whether we are liberated or whether we've followed a path of enslavement — serving the interests of commerce.

As I said in yesterday's post: It was right when we were questioning devoting our lives to commerce — when "turn on, tune in, drop out" was fascinating — that a movement came along and injected women — half the population — with highly commercial ambition. That fed the gigantic engine of the economy for the next 4 decades. And now, the professional, highly organized, intensely busy woman is celebrated in our culture, and the hippie is a figure of fun.  And yet... what matters is love, and beauty, and survival. Live in love and beauty as long as you can.

IN THE COMMENTS: Meade said:
Fear of flying fuck.