May 19, 2012

"Not even a busted state fisc can stop Jerry Brown's train to nowhere."

"Transportation experts warn that the 500-mile bullet train from San Francisco to Los Angeles could cost more than $100 billion, though the Governor pegs the price at a mere $68 billion. The state has $12.3 billion in pocket, $9 billion from the state and $3.3 billion from the feds, but Mr. Brown hasn't a clue where he'll get the rest...."
Mr. Brown is hoping that Washington will pony up more than $50 billion, but the feds have committed only $3.3 billion so far—and Republicans intend to claw it back if they take the Senate and White House this fall. If that happens, the state won't have enough money to complete its first 130-mile segment in the lightly populated Central Valley, which in any event wouldn't be operable since the state can't afford to electrify the tracks....
What a disaster! Remember a year and a half ago, when Wisconsin elected a new governor who said he'd kill the high-speed rail deal? I was a single-issue voter for Scott Walker then, and that was my issue. Here's a newspaper article from December 2010: "High-speed rail funds scatter to other states... California gets lion's share."
Wisconsin will keep only a fraction of the $810 million it won in federal high-speed rail money.... California is the big winner, with up to $624 million....

[Exiting Democratic Governor Jim] Doyle called the loss of the high-speed rail funds a "tragic moment for the state of Wisconsin. Eight hundred and ten million dollars that would have gone to create thousands of jobs in Wisconsin will now create jobs in other states... I obviously am deeply saddened to see us take a major step backward."
Ha. It's been so not tragic.
"My congratulations to the workers in California and Florida. As a result of this decision, you will have a merry Christmas," Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said at a news conference. "I'm just sad the same won't happen here in Wisconsin."
Tom Barrett is, of course, the Democratic Party candidate in the recall election against Scott Walker, but back then, he'd just lost the regular election to Walker. The recall election is in 2 weeks. I wonder if he's been asked about these old statements about the damned train and how lucky California was to get that federal cash infusion Scott Walker spurned.

In the empty museum...



... I guess I was the only one with no place better to be.

Why would Obama pretend to have been born in Kenya?

I asked this question the other day, when Breitbart broke the news of that literary agent's brochure that said Obama was born in Kenya. I said:
Where's the advantage in being seen as African African? It certainly isn't a way to get affirmative action from law school admissions and appointments committees. They may crudely care mainly about the way their classrooms look and take advantage of African African applicants, but the theories of affirmative action (especially the legal ones) have to do with black people who come from the American culture with its history of discrimination, prejudice, and disadvantage.
Mark Steyn has a good answer: Obama had reason not to want to be seen as having been born in Hawaii:
After all, if your first book is an exploration of racial identity and has the working title “Journeys in Black and White,” being born in Hawaii doesn’t really help. It’s entirely irrelevant to the twin pillars of contemporary black grievance — American slavery and European imperialism. To 99.99 percent of people, Hawaii is a luxury-vacation destination and nothing else. Whereas Kenya puts you at the heart of what, in an otherwise notably orderly decolonization process by the British, was a bitter and violent struggle against the white man’s rule. Cool! The composite chicks dig it, and the literary agents.
That reminds me of what Rush Limbaugh said yesterday: "Maybe this business he was born in Kenya, maybe it was just compression, you know, like his girlfriend in the book.  Maybe he was just writing it himself as a composite." But Rush's bigger point was:
If you're Barack Obama, wouldn't you rather... people get all absorbed and sidetracked on some blurb in a literary pitch years and years ago?  I can see Obama and his boys sitting in the White House saying, "You know, let's have some fun with the birthers. Let's go ahead and release this thing...." 

"Their strategy for staying alive is to be barely alive at all."

We're talking about "bizarrely low-key bacteria have been found in sediments 100 feet below the sea floor of the Pacific Ocean" — at least 1,000 and maybe millions of years old:
Their metabolism is dialed down to almost nothing, an adaptive advantage in a place with so few resources. The bacteria that survive are the ones that can satisfy themselves with minute traces of oxygen and a parsimonious diet of organic material laid down millions of years ago....
This made me think of the Beatles lyric: "Isn't he a bit like you and me?" Nowhere bacteria, please listen/You don't know what you're missin'...
“These organisms live so slowly that when we look at it at our own time scale, it’s like suspended animation,” said Danish scientist Hans Roy, a biologist at Aarhus University and the lead author of the study. “The main lesson here is that we need to stop looking at life at our own time scale.”
Yes. Exactly! I'm going to readjust to this bacteria point of view. It's a strategy....

Brain injury and genius: the "acquired savant."

"What happens is that there is injury... There is then recruitment of still-intact cortical tissue. There is rewiring [of brain signals] through that intact tissue, and then there is the release of dormant potential within that brain area."

"How Changes in Straight Marriage Paved the Way for Legal Gay Marriage."

An article by Jesse Walker at Reason (linked to this morning by Instapundit). Walker links to an article by historian Stephanie Coontz that describes the changes in marriage over time: Hetereosexual couples married based love and autonomous personal choice (instead of submitting to arranged marriages); heterosexual couples moved away from traditional gender roles; laws governing the obligations of heterosexual couples were rewritten with gender neutrality (to acknowledge the mutability of gender roles). These changes have made it harder to justify denying gay couples the choice to adopt the marriage format for their relationships.

Fine. I support same-sex marriage, and I like this argument in favor of it, as I like so many other arguments in favor of something I favor. But I want to layer in another topic. If opposite-sex marriage couples influence our understanding of same-sex couples, what about the reverse? Once same-sex couples are included in the norm, they will affect the norm.

"With her attitude to the President, who was, like, a Harvard law professor, I'm like, take it down a notch, bitch."

It's Kathy Griffin, critiquing an Elisabeth Hasselbeck performance on "The View." The President had dropped in to share the couch with the ladies. The link goes to Donald Douglas's blog, where the big point is that Obama was not a Harvard law professor, and in fact, he wasn't even — technically — a law professor; he was a senior lecturer; and it wasn't Harvard, it was the University of Chicago; and so Kathy's a fine one to call Elisabeth a "stupid bitch." Video at the link.

All right. First, Kathy Griffin has a comic style. You either like it or you don't. She's all about bitchily ragging on celebrities. Second, "stupid" is not the key criticism from Griffin to Hasselbeck. It's that Hasselbeck is coming at the President with too much of a sassy, challenging edge. And Griffin is actually right about that. You need to treat the President — any President — with respect, even when you intend to give him a hard time and even when he deserves it.

Third — and here's where it gets really interesting to me — he was a Harvard law professor. Put aside the mistakes. This notion that you've got to pay special respect to law professors... as a law professor, I'm fascinated. Now, maybe it's just Harvard law professors that command this odd obeisance. Who knows how far down the U.S. News "Best Law Schools" list you go before Kathy's Etiquette of Respecting the Law Professor peters out? Maybe there's a gentle gradation of decreasing respect as you slide down through the top five, into the basement of the top 15 and beyond. I don't know if there are any shreds of servility to be strewn before those of us in the 30s. But the whole idea amuses me.

And, really, this is one of the great benefits to being a law professor. No, not that I get respect — to the extent that I do. (I mostly get haters who use the phrase "you, a law professor" somewhere in the middle of an attempted push-back.) What I like is that, as a law professor, I'm free of the awe of law professors. And yet, if any of them dropped by for a visit and sat down on my couch for a conversation, I'd be nice to them. But if that couch were really part of a TV set, and I owed my first duty to the people who were bothering to watch, I might go all Hasselbeck on them.

But the President... well, why is the President doing a show like this? Probably because everybody on that couch except Hasselbeck wanted to boost his reelection campaign — slathering the home viewers with amorphous feelings of love for the man who is so wonderful for women. He was there for a super-cushy time on the cushions. Hasselbeck was the only potential edge. Obama supporters would love to dull that edge. Show respect. They're kind of right, of course, as noted above. It's a problem built into the show, "The View." It's a view, all right, but from where? From deep in the cleavage of the mommy party.

May 18, 2012

At the Licorice Café...


... things are velvety soft.

"This week saw the announcement of the latest conclusions of the Copenhagen Consensus..."

"... a project founded by Bjørn Lomborg in which expert economists write detailed papers every four years and then gather to vote on the answer to a simple question: Imagine you had $75 billion to donate to worthwhile causes. What would you do, and where should we start?"

The consensus...

"How Big a Pop for Facebook's IPO?"

23 cents.

"State unions were dealt a setback Friday when a federal judge said they would have to get their members to opt in..."

"... rather than opt out, to having the state deduct union dues from their paychecks." 
What's more, the judge did not rule on dues deductions for unions that he earlier found the state improperly decertified. The state's largest unions were decertified, and the ruling - at least for now - will make it harder for them to get money from dues....

What do you say to the woman who consciously loathes Scott Walker, but has sexual dreams about him?

Well, the Isthmus advice columnist "Tell All" told her:
Clip out the sexiest Tom Barrett photos you can find in newspapers or campaign literature. Scatter them around your house, and save the best one for the bedroom. Look at it every night before you go to sleep. With any luck, your subconscious will do the rest by supplying you with a more suitable sexual partner in your dreams.
And then Meade stopped by the comments. Noting first her line "I should mention that I'm happily married, with an attractive husband," Meade said:
Man, talk about damning with faint praise! Dear Violated: First of all you have not been violated. You have been the violaTOR... of your marriage, of your husband's due respect, and of your own fantasies.

Photos of Tom Barrett? Tell All needs to turn in his newspaper-advice-columnist badge. And the last thing you need is to waste your time with a psychotherapist.

What you need to do is to practice sweet surrender to your husband so that, with any luck, he will discover his manhood and learn that what his wife and most heterosexual women want more than anything is to be sexually dominated by a man who will stand up and be strong, decisive, and confident.

Try this, Violated: Everyday, tell your husband that you approve of him, that you love everything about him, and that he has your open consent and carte blanche in your sexual relationship. Together, just the two of you, over and over again, watch scenes like this one from the movie Casablanca where Ilsa tells Rick that he will have to do the thinking for both of them.

Good luck, Violated. Try to give up thinking of yourself as a victim and remember, if things don't work out in your private love life, you will always have Scott Walker.
Background reading: a column from "Tell All" from April 4, 2009, titled "Should UW law prof Ann Althouse marry her commenter Meade?"

ADDED: Instapundit says: "MEH. CHICKS DIG THE BAD BOYS... In her measly little world, he’s the ultimate bad boy." Exactly.

"Our whole society is based on... making women nod."

Video found after a search for "making women nod" — which I knew was a longstanding Bill Maher theme — which I got the idea to do after writing about Barack Obama saying 51 times in "Dreams From My Father" that people "nodded". It was probably a meaningless writerly tic from a neophyte writer, but perhaps it's significant. Whatever you think of Maher, listen to the montage about  the emasculation of men as manifested in the behavior of making women nod. Then think about the agenda of the Democratic Party, their asserted pacifist position in the so-called War on Women, their mascot "Julia," and things of that sort.

Book reviewer's weapon: the Kindle search.

Chez Amazon, a customer review — voted overwhelmingly "helpful" — complains about bad writing in the form of repetition and proves it via search tool. (The book is the huge lady-porn bestseller "Fifty Shades of Grey: Book One.")
According to my Kindle search function, characters roll their eyes 41 times, Ana bites her lip 35 times, Christian's lips "quirk up" 16 times, Christian "cocks his head to one side" 17 times, characters "purse" their lips 15 times, and characters raise their eyebrows a whopping 50 times. Add to that 80 references to Ana's anthropomorphic "subconscious" (which also rolls its eyes and purses its lips, by the way), 58 references to Ana's "inner goddess," and 92 repetitions of Ana saying some form of "oh crap" (which, depending on the severity of the circumstances, can be intensified to "holy crap," "double crap," or the ultimate "triple crap")....

"50 Shades of Grey" — the audiobook: "Hear it as it was meant to be heard."

NSFW... but really funny. Laughed 'til I cried at phrases like "the front wall of my vagina."

(Via Throwing Things.)

ADDED: The new embed, from the original College Humor website, should work.

"Many in India are asking whether the woman routinely referred to as the most beautiful in the world..."

"... and who occupies a place in Indian popular culture akin to Kate Middleton or Victoria Beckham, has an obligation to her fans to lose weight."

6-months after giving birth, Aishwarya Rai hasn't found her way back to that pre-pregnancy look.

"Divided D.C. Circuit Panel Upholds Constitutionality of Voting Rights Act, Teeing Up Issue for Supreme Court."

The Shelby County case is explained by Rick Hasen over at the Election Law Blog.

From the dissenting opinion by Judge Williams:
Why should voter ID laws from South Carolina and Texas be judged by different criteria (at a minimum, a different burden of persuasion, which is often critical in cases involving competing predictions of effect) from those governing Indiana?...

It goes without saying that racism persists, as evidenced by the odious examples offered by the majority.... But without more evidence distinguishing current conditions in the covered jurisdictions from those in the uncovered ones, § 4(b)’s coverage formula appears to be as obsolete in practice as one would expect, in a dynamic society, for markers 34-to-59 years old.

"Thank you for subscribing to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel! Please allow 48 hours for your account to be set up."

"After this time, please visit to register your account. You will then have complete digital access 7 days a week...."


I have been resisting subscribing to the Journal Sentinel, even though I have much greater use for it than most people, and I only even want the digital edition that costs $0.99 a week. Now, I'm trying to get through to an article, I fill out the form, I type out my credit card number, and the response is I've got to wait 48 hours for access.

Lame. Lame. Lame. Lame.

Dinosaur newspaper businesses... not even close to adapting to the digital word.

UPDATE: I responded to the email, saying I found the delay unacceptable and wanted to cancel the subscription. My email bounced, and in the bounce message, I could see that the email address was: To: Customer Service [ADDED: I needed to take the brackets out to make "custserv+canned.response" display, as it does now.]

Customer Service + canned response.

Here's my non-canned response: You're canned.

"To some legal experts, the new evidence backs up Zimmerman’s original story..."

"... that he followed Trayvon, lost him, and was then attacked with 'mixed martial arts' blows to a point where he feared for his life."
A medical report that was not referenced in the state’s charging affidavit states that Zimmerman sustained a broken nose, two black eyes, and two cuts on the back of his head.

The new forensic facts challenge the second-degree murder charge, which, to stick, requires a jury to be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman acted with malicious recklessness in causing Trayvon’s death, says Alan Dershowitz, a Harvard Law School professor whose criticisms of the prosecution stepped up as the state’s evidence was revealed.

Given the new evidence, “the prosecutor is at least guilty of willful blindness,” says Mr. Dershowitz in a phone interview....

Medical examiners found that Trayvon had THC, the euphoria-inducing compound found in marijuana, in his blood – a potentially salient fact given that Zimmerman told a dispatcher he thought the man he had spotted “was on drugs or something.”...

The report also revealed the FBI findings from one of the most controversial tenets of the case: whether a voice that can be heard screaming for help during a 911 recording was Trayvon or Zimmerman. The FBI was unable to conclusively determine whom the voice belonged to, and was also unable to corroborate suggestions that, at one point, Zimmerman uttered a racial slur.

According to police, Tracy Martin, Trayvon’s dad, said he didn’t believe the voice crying for help belonged to his son. When asked, Officer Chris Serino wrote: "Mr. Martin, clearly emotionally impacted by the recording, quietly responded 'no.' "

The stakes in the case are high. It set off national introspection over so-called Stand Your Ground laws, which critics call “shoot first” laws. Zimmerman is likely to argue his use of that law in a special “mini-trial” to precede a jury trial, in which a judge can dismiss the case outright and shield Zimmerman from civil liability.

Others, meanwhile, worry what impact an acquittal or hung jury could have, sparking columnist Mansfield Frazier at the Daily Beast to suggest that the legal system has a responsibility to help avoid a “large scale racial calamity.”
That makes it sound like Frazier is advocating conviction not based on the legal standards, but on the practical goal of controlling the public's emotions. What did Frazier actually write?
If this case goes all the way to trial, it’s a train wreck waiting to happen. The time is now for strong hands to take the helm and steady the ship of state—not to mention our national racial, political and legal discourse. The paramount concern has to be to avert a large-scale racial calamity....

To my mind, the government offers Zimmerman a plea deal that has him back on the street within this decade, and he accepts it quietly. That seems like a conclusion most reasonable Americans could live with....

If [Zimmerman’s lawyer, Mark] O’Mara were successful in brokering such a resolution, he should be viewed as nothing less than a savior. A protracted murder trial of George Zimmerman is the last thing this country needs right now. America can only dodge so many racial bullets, and a not-guilty verdict in this case could very easily turn the racial cold war into a very hot one.
O'Mara has a professional obligation to represent his client, not the overall good of the nation.  Frazier seems to think he's the voice of reason, but he's calling for the subversion of the legal system. Frazier likes the fact that Zimmerman is "in isolation right now" so he's kept away from "the more rabid right-wingers from getting inside his head and convincing him to take the case to trial, based on the belief that no matter what the evidence shows, in Florida at least one juror will never vote to convict. Unfortunately, this reasoning is not crazy. The South, after all, is still the South."

What?! What about the ordinary legal analysts who don't think the prosecution can prove the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt? There's absolutely nothing rabid, right-wing, or Southern about that opinion.

What caused the "Dark Day" — on May 19, 1780?

It was not a solar eclipse.
With little scientific knowledge amongst the populace in 1780, people would have been afraid. Some lawmakers in Connecticut believed it was the day of judgement. The sense that a decisive moment was afoot would have been bolstered by the fact that during the preceding days, the sun and moon glowed red.
Volcanic dust is one theory, but there's no record of a volcanic eruption then. It could have been a meteorite. It was actually probably a forest fire.

"Those who have visited [the $1 billion house] speak of helipads, a vast library, extravagant dining areas... and even a snow room."

The most expensive house in the world — supposedly — is in Mumbai. It's strangely ugly from the outside. From the inside, it looks like a 5-star hotel.

There was a controversy over whether the vastu shastra was correct.

"She sings like Lana Del Rey on Robitussin, and, well, looks something like Lana Del Rey after a couple decades of Robitussin."

An apt description of Lisa Marie Presley singing last night on "American Idol."

Obama's literary agent used the "born in Kenya" bio from 1991 to 2007.

If it was a mistake, why did it go uncorrected for so long? You could say: That's how sloppy this literary agency is and how inattentive people are to brochures like this. I still wonder how that particular mistake got made. Why would you drift into thinking an American woman gave birth in a foreign country? That is, why would you guess at a fact and guess what is unlikely?

What are the other options? One is that Obama wanted to be thought of as having been born in Kenya, and he deliberately put out false information. Why would he want that? It's not advantageous to his political career, and we know that, if anything, he sought to embed himself more deeply in American culture by going to Chicago and working with poor black people, by attending Jeremiah Wright's church, and even — it's indelicate to say so — by marrying Michelle.

Where's the advantage in being seen as African African? It certainly isn't a way to get affirmative action from law school admissions and appointments committees. They may crudely care mainly about the way their classrooms look and take advantage of African African applicants, but the theories of affirmative action (especially the legal ones) have to do with black people who come from the American culture with its history of discrimination, prejudice, and disadvantage.

Considering that, you might jump to (or closer to) the conclusion that Obama really was born in Kenya. I'm not going there. How would Stanley Ann have traveled to Kenya when she was 18 and pregnant? Where would she have gotten the money? She had a lot of nerve, but would she have thrown herself halfway across the world to put herself, in her most vulnerable time, in a third world hospital? I don't believe it.

I'm as convinced as I need to be that Obama was not born in Kenya. (And I think that, even if he was, he's eligible to be President, since he was an American citizen at birth, being born to an American woman who happened to be traveling.) I'm interested in the possibility that Obama wanted to be thought of as having been born in Kenya. But I'm not going to think that unless I can understand his motivation. As I said above, it would not help him get affirmative action or any mainstream political advantage — quite the opposite. Let's explore the possible motivations: a feeling of alienation from the United States, a desire to connect more deeply to his African roots, a preference for African-style left-wing politics over the American political tradition, perhaps some belief that it's noble to be from Africa.

I can see a way to build a psychic profile of the Obama who dreams of being more truly African. It was in 1989 — 2 years before the publication of the brochure — that Jesse Jackson led a movement to get us to stop saying "black" and start saying "African-American." Here's a contemporaneous NYT article:
The term, used for years in intellectual circles, is gaining currency among many other blacks, who say its use is a sign that they are accepting their difficult past and resolving a long ambivalence toward Africa....

For many, the issue is already settled, not only in their minds but in their hearts. ''Whenever I go to Africa,'' said Roger Wilkins, a senior fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, ''I feel like a person with a legitimate place to stand on this earth. This is the name for all the feelings I've had all these years.''...

Leaders of the movement... say they want to shift the definition of the group from the racial description black to a cultural and ethnic identity that ties the group to its continent of origin and fosters dignity and self-esteem.

''This is deeper than just name recognition,'' said Mr. Jackson who, along with others, called for the change at a news conference in late December. ''Black tells you about skin color and what side of town you live on. African-American evokes discussion of the world.''...
Hilda Whittington, a Chicago lawyer, has been calling herself an African-American since Mr. Jackson's remarks last month and is now planning a trip to West Africa next year. ''After thinking about it, I kind of like it,'' Mrs. Whittington said. ''We should call ourselves African-Americans and get it over with. This is it for me.''...

Now a term that was once considered militant is going mainstream. '''African-American' reflects a post-modern black consciousness,'' said Dr. Roderick Watts, an assistant professor of psychology at Yale University, who last year founded a community group with the name the Association of Agencies Serving African-Americans. ''It has a self-affirming quality that seems to fit right now.''
Nevertheless, I believe the most likely answer is that "born in Kenya" was a mistake, made by some literary agency underling, in a brochure that never inspired close reading, even as the years passed. I mean, there are things in Obama's book that you could pull out today and surprise people with. I was doing that last week. And that book is sitting there in plain sight. Really, it's quite amazing the things we don't notice that are right in front of us.

Pushing back the billionaire who was going to spend $10 million on ads linking Obama to Jeremiah Wright.

Joe Ricketts got a quick political education:
Liberal groups encouraged like-minded investors to drop their accounts with TD Ameritrade, the brokerage firm Mr. Ricketts founded. His family’s plan to seek public financing for improvements to Wrigley Field, home of their baseball team, the Chicago Cubs, ran into new political opposition. And he was forced to write a letter to reporters at his New York news organization,, assuring them he believed that “my personal politics should have absolutely no impact on your work.”

By early afternoon, Mr. Ricketts had announced that he had rejected the ad campaign as out of keeping with his own political style, a day after his aides indicated that it was still under consideration.
In the speech marketplace, and money is a medium of expression. The rich have an advantage... and a vulnerability.
The episode all but ensured that Republicans would remain under intense pressure not to invoke Mr. Wright’s provocative statements so directly for the balance of the campaign. And, in a year when the loosened system of campaign finance regulations is encouraging wealthy individuals to weigh in on behalf of candidates and causes, Mr. Ricketts became a case study in the risks of political neophytes with big checkbooks seeking to play at the highest and roughest levels of politics....

"Campaign finance laws are designed to bring the two Americas together at election time... John Edwards forgot his own rhetoric."

Said the prosecutor to the jury.

"This is a case that should define the difference between a wrong and a crime... between a sin and a felony... John Edwards has confessed his sins. He will serve a life sentence for those. But he has pleaded not guilty to violating the law." — Said the defense attorney.

Which side has the better argument? free polls 

"My Son Looks Like a Girl. So What?"

"My 12-year-old son has hair halfway down his back, and the fact that the bottom half of it is currently pink does not seem to be clarifying anything for anybody: everyone, everywhere assumes he’s a girl."

I'm writing in the New York Times about how everyone thinks my 12-year-old son looks like a girl. So what?

"A man who beheaded and cannibalized a fellow passenger on a Greyhound bus in Canada..."

"... won his bid to leave the grounds of the mental hospital where he is being kept, a criminal review board ruled Thursday."
The board said the passes should only be granted if Li's treatment team believes his condition is stable and that it would be "appropriate and safe for him to leave the locked ward." He will have to be escorted at all times by a staff member and a security officer.
The crime occurred only 4 years ago.

Second-grader — assigned to come to school dressed as a historical figure — chooses MLK Jr. and gets in trouble.

Because he wore blackface.

May 17, 2012

At the Pink Leaf Café...


... You have a sly, equivocating vein.

"Artist wants Jesus Popsicles to stand as statement on fanaticism, violence."

It's a red (frozen wine) popsicle, but when you eat it, you discover the stick is has a cross piece and there's an image of the crucified Christ on it.
Sebastian Errazuriz... said, he concealed [the wine] in a cooler and took it into a church, where it was "inadvertently blessed by the priest while turning wine into the blood of Christ during the Eucharist."

"What do you think? I've resisted all the birther stuff for the last four years."

"But this looks like something else - something in the zone of Elizabeth Warren checking the box for Native American followed by unchecking the box."

Meade starts a conversation over at Isthmus (where they basically loathe him).

ADDED: The people over there in the Isthmus forum don't understand that Meade is quoting a brochure from Obama's literary agent. They think he's just bringing up the old "birther" controversy. The dumbness is deep.

"On The Glenn Show, Glenn [Loury] and Ann discuss the politics of President Obama's recent endorsement of gay marriage."

"The two professors, both of whom have gay sons, defend the religious opponents of gay marriage against the charge of 'bigotry.' They argue that religion can be a force for positive social change, such as during the civil rights movement. Ann laments that politicians so often feel they must demonize their opponents, and Glenn defends Mitt Romney's background in private equity. Ann and Glenn compare the Occupy movement with the Tea Party and find the former lacking. Finally, they celebrate 'the leisure of the theory class' and compare their different approaches to vacationing." (Hyperlinks to the specific items here.)

Goodbye to Donna Summer.

She was 63.

Here's my favorite Donna Summer video:

"A new kind of love and we call it agape/Don't take too long to find/True love transcends all time..."

NPR says Obama and Romney "wade into" — or "weighed in" on — the Scott Walker recall election.

Wait. The headline says they "wade in" and the text says they "weighed in." Those are transcriptions at the NPR website. I prefer "wade in," because it conveys Wisconsin as... swamp-like.

I was writing a more substantial post, but the raw material at NPR was so lame, I deleted what I had. Just one of the many ways I save you time in your busy day.

200 NYC teens will have to retake the SAT because their seats were too close together.

The Daily News reports:
Educational Testing Service, which administers the SATs for the College Board, requires students to sit at least 4 feet apart during the exam to prevent cheating. But a company inspector who conducted a surprise visit that day found that the students were sitting much closer.

An email sent by the company Tuesday informed the kids, who came from 50 city schools, that their results would be invalidated and invited them to retake the test at another location on May 19.... Packer Head of School Bruce Dennis said that there’s no evidence that any of the kids cheated, and he’s looking into a lawsuit to prevent their scores from being scrapped.
Shouldn't the lawsuit be against the Packer Collegiate Institute? It screwed up the seating.

"But 45% of voters believe the justices nominated by President Obama are too liberal, while 40% say their ideologies are about right."

Rasmussen polls.
Thirty-one percent (31%) of voters nationwide regard the overall Supreme Court as being too politically liberal, while 27% see it as too conservative. Another 32% say the court’s ideology is about right....
Close to Goldilocks-pleasing perfection, right?

"It’s recall fatigue."

"I think there’s a lot of at least discerning Democrats on the margin out there who realize this is a big waste of time and money."

AND: Meanwhile, as the Wisconsin State Journal puts it "Democrats shift tactics, pound Walker on John Doe probe." Democrats... generically? Do they mean Tom Barrett, the Democratic candidate or just some Democrats? Now, the John Doe probe is an ongoing investigation, the sort of thing that at some point might produce significant enough charges to warrant removing the governor. That would be a decent use of the recall mechanism, but in fact, under Wisconsin law, after the recall is used once in this term, it won't be available later. Raising the investigation now just points up how wrong it was to resort to recall simply out of opposition to the policies of the governor (and legislature) that the people voted into office in the regular election in 2010.
The investigation by Milwaukee County's district attorney hasn't resonated with voters, but with the June 5 recall less than three weeks away Democrats have started playing up questions about why Walker created a criminal defense fund for himself and whether the governor might face charges next....
Shameful desperation, witlessly flaunting lack of concern for fairness and due process.
Meanwhile, Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm has been quietly investigating Walker's associates during the governor's tenure as Milwaukee County executive. Chisholm, a Democrat, has set the probe up as a so-called John Doe proceeding, meaning his prosecutors can subpoena witnesses and compel them to testify while barring them from speaking publicly about the case....
Quietly. That's some noisy quiet.
Barrett, who has been jabbing the governor on the investigation for weeks, said Wednesday that Walker needs to clear the air because "when people realize what's going on, they're troubled by it."
And this is supposed to be a reason why the governor we elected in 2010 should be replaced by the Milwaukee Democrat who urges us to be "troubled" by insinuations created by a secret investigation conducted by another Milwaukee Democrat. I think we should all use our own judgment in selecting what to be troubled about.
"Either he's being investigated or he expects to be charged," said Sachin Chheda, who chairs the Milwaukee Democratic Party. "What kind of position would the state be in if we don't know the facts, there's an election and there's an indictment after the election?"
What kind of position would the state be in if we put it in the hands of the Milwaukee Democratic Party?

"Minority babies are now majority in United States."

According to the U.S. Census Bureau. 
Population estimates show that 50.4 percent of children younger than 1 last year were Hispanic, black, Asian American or in other minority groups. That’s almost a full percentage point higher than the 49.5 percent of minority babies counted when the decennial census was taken in April 2010. Census Bureau demographers said the tipping point came three months later, in July.
Wait... Were any of those Hispanic babies "white Hispanic"?

Anyway, once you divide people into groups, isn't the majority always "minority"? Or, more accurately, we can decide whether we want to be able to say the majority is minority by choosing which groups — in a heterogeneous, pluralistic society — we want to classify as minority.

Wisconsin protests of the all-you-can-eat-fish-fry kind.

"We asked for more fish, and they refused to give us more fish."

LifeEdited says: "Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy."

The NYT calls that "an awkward manifesto" but conspicuously admires the project of perfecting the small, virtuous, upscale way of life.
[Graham] Hill’s [LifeEdited] has proposed apartment buildings designed around large, open courtyards with units ranging from 300 to 600 square feet. It is quite something to promote studio-apartment living in a state that has so much housing stock available at such a steep discount....

Mr. Hill, whose possessions run to athletic gear and vitamins, has domesticated the apartment with objects belonging to his girlfriend, Kumara Sawyers, a massage therapist and yoga instructor. He chose a globe, an antique camera, an antler and a potted plant, along with a few books....
You know, if you're editing down your possessions, fuck the antler.

"Sandra Day O'Connell (Retired Justice, U.S. Supreme Court)."

How quickly we forget...

From a list of 2012 Law School Commencement Speakers.

IN THE COMMENTS: Mitchell said:
That spelling was chosen after a multifactor balancing test.

Coffee drinkers live longer.

A correlation.
Compared to those who drank no coffee, men who had two or three cups a day were 10 percent less likely to die at any age. For women, it was 13 percent.

Even a single cup a day seemed to lower risk a little: 6 percent in men and 5 percent in women. The strongest effect was in women who had four or five cups a day - a 16 percent lower risk of death.

A close friend of the suicide wife of RFK Jr. says: "She had cause. She was used up and tossed away by Bobby. That was awful."

"She was deeply troubled, abusing alcohol and prescription meds."
"She had grown up with the Kennedy family, having been Kerry’s best friend since they were teenagers,” the friend said.

The marriage broke down amid reports of her addiction and rumors of his involvement with other women.
“She knew Bobby her whole life, and now he rejected her. Tragic.”
They found her body hanging in the barn. She left a note.

IN THE COMMENTS: Jay takes up the theme Another Death in the Kennedy War on Women.

May 16, 2012

"When we faced an uphill climb, with a future not too bright, there was one man for the time, who was promising to fight..."

New Marquette Law School poll has Walker ahead by 6 percentage points (and Romney and Obama tied in Wisconsin).

Full report here:
[W]ith three weeks to go until the recall election Governor Scott Walker has taken a six-percentage point lead over Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, 50-44 percent, among likely voters. Just three percent say they are undecided. In the previous poll, taken April 26-29, Walker held a one-percentage point lead among likely voters, 48-47. Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch holds a 47 to 41-percentage point lead over Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin president Mahlon Mitchell in that recall election, with 10 percent undecided....

Republicans are more likely to say they are “absolutely certain” to vote on June 5, at 91 percent, than are Democrats and independents, both at 83 percent. In other areas of participation, Republicans also have an advantage. Sixty-two percent of Republicans say that they have tried to persuade someone to vote for or against a candidate, compared to 54 percent among Democrats and 48 percent among independents....

At the Hawk Cam Café...


... you can squawk all afternoon.

(Watch the University of Wisconsin red-tailed hawks live here.)

UPDATE: Fresh bunny!

The architect Frank Gehry — responding to complaints — changes his design for the Eisenhower Memorial.

The NYT reports:
Yet Mr. Gehry then went on to present changes that mainly affect the memorial’s bas-relief sculptures — changing them to three-dimensional statues – and did not alter the most controversial element. “I still believe that the sculpture of Eisenhower as a young man looking out on his future accomplishments is a powerful image,” Mr. Gehry wrote....

The image of Eisenhower as a young man is based on remarks he made in 1945 upon his return from World War II to his hometown of Abilene, Kan., where he referred to himself as having once been “a barefoot boy.” There is also a photograph at that age that Mr. Gehry said he drew upon.
From the Dwight D. Eisenhower website:
Even by the standard of the day, the Eisenhower home on southeast Fourth Street in Abilene, Kansas, was small, modest, and-with six growing boys underfoot-crowded....
From their mother, Ida, Dwight and his brothers learned to cook, clean, iron, and sew. On Sunday, the boys were responsible for family meals entirely. David, their father, worked long hours as a refrigeration engineer at nearby Belle Springs Creamery. Still, there was never money enough. Ida recycled David's old clothes for the boys. To his embarrassment, Dwight sometimes had to wear his mother's old high-top, buttoned shoes to school or go barefoot. To earn money for extras, the Eisenhower boys grew and sold vegetables, door to door. For variety, they peddled hot tamales from their mother's Texas recipe.

Penis-print leggings deemed "cute."

Emily, disagreeing with Jezebel:
I mean, not as much from a distance, but when you get close so you can really see the penises, you know? I'll put the close-up view at the bottom of this article so those of you who are all into "having jobs" can keep them.

Maybe it's a testament to my overwhelming love of penis? I think of them sort of like golden retrievers -- friendly, reliable, enthusiastic. And who wouldn't want leggings covered in golden retrievers? CUTE!
For the best view of the (subtle?!) print, go here and use the magnifying glass.

I know... cute... magnifying glass... it's not really what you want to hear when you hear from women in cock-praising department.

"[T]he quiet succor Obama gave to black homophobes with his 'evolving' line on gay marriage was always just as ugly as it was unnecessary..."

... writes John McWhorter article in TNR.
[P]lus, for someone of his demographic and biography, it was more than a little fake. (Did the Harvard Law Review Editor hugging Derrick Bell in that 1991 video really think two men shouldn’t be allowed to get married?)
I love the totally gratuitous homoeroticism McWhorter allowed into his question by having the men hugging.

"Someone of his demographic and biography" is an unusual phrase. Who else has Obama's biography? McWhorter speaks as if this is the sort of person we just know, from experience. But Obama is unique in the history of the world. Who knows who the authentic Obama is? I've read his autobiography, and I got the impression that he himself could never figure it out, and I'm deprived of the actual answer to the question whether he was conning us, and I barely have a guess whether he knew if he was.

If Obama believes in same-sex marriage... what does that even mean for someone of his demographic and biography? Of course, if you go to Harvard Law School and merge/mingle with the elite you get the message of what you're supposed to think, but then... do you really think it? Do you lose touch with what you really think? Of does even that question disguise the real question which is whether there's a real you at the core who thinks anything at all?

(And I'm saying that as a lawprof who has lived amidst the lawprof liberals for more than 3 decades now and who willingly admits that I lost track of what I really thought for myself or whether there was a true self that thought anything at all.)

"John Edwards' defense team rests case in his corruption trial without calling him to the stand."

So the honey-tongued politician chooses not to speak for himself. Wisely, I'm sure.

The quote is from a CNN "breaking news" email.

Scott Walker releases positive job numbers.

And his recall opponent Tom Barrett accuses him of cooking the books.

Aren't all job numbers cooked?

AND: There's also this story about Barrett's wife using public school district email for political purposes in violation of school district policy. Barrett says: "Of course they're going to try and bring my wife into this. I wouldn't be surprised if they try to drag my kids into this. They will do anything they can because they are fighting for their life." And the first comment over there is: "If this story was about Walker's wife instead of Barrett's, the libs would be screaming for his head on a platter. Instead, they're treating it like it's no big deal. Hypocrites."

Fighting for their life... Ugh! I'm so tired of Wisconsin over-dramatizing. I look forward to getting past the recall, which I presume Walker will win and which I believe will restabilize people in reality.

Barrett's line makes me think of all the times I've heard the anti-Walker protesters singing "We are the gentle angry people/And we are singing, singing for our lives." They lost a gubernatorial election and some budget reform legislation passed. No one was dying!

Ironically, Barrett's big campaign theme is that he will "end the civil war" in Wisconsin. You posit a war, then you purport to have the way to end it. How about not creating a phony war in the first place?

Let's be clear: This is about solving budget problems in Wisconsin. It's not a war. No one is dying. If you want to model normalcy, act normal. Be the adult. This isn't a civil war. You're not Abraham Lincoln. It's a pretty damned mundane problem to be solved. What is your solution? Walker was elected. He put his solution through and he stands by it. What is the alternative?

ADDED: Intrade has Walker winning the recall at 82.0%.

UPDATE: Walker's up to 89.5% at Intrade!

Are you traveling to get into the path of the annular solar eclipse?

Here's where you need to go. Get there Sunday.

It's hitting some of the very best national parks and monuments: Arches, Bandelier, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Glen Canyon, Grand Canyon, Great Basin, Natural Bridges, and Petroglyph (which the National Park Service website misspells "Petrolglyph").

Come on, everybody, let's throw a few things in the car and drive. We can do it! Where will you go/would you go if you could? Maybe Great Basin — "in the bull's-eye for the annular solar eclipse."

Who is Deb Fischer — whose "stunning come-from-behind performance" got her the GOP Senate nomination in Nebraska?

Politico reports:
Fischer, a rancher and little-known state lawmaker, maintained a positive, above-the-fray tone while Bruning and state Treasurer Don Stenberg consistently traded blistering barbs. But she also benefited from a flurry of outside spending against Bruning, the front-running establishment favorite for more than a year who watched his polling lead evaporate during the final week of the campaign.
The victory sends Fischer to the general election as a favorite over former Sen. Bob Kerrey, who easily disposed of four lesser-known opponents for a shot at the open seat being left vacant by retiring Sen. Ben Nelson. Nebraska is a must-win for Republicans if they are to acquire the four pickups necessary to flip control of the Senate this fall.
Must win and will win, pretty obviously.

Who is she? I'm up to page 2 of the article where I see that she was "poorly funded," but she released an internal poll that showed her "surging," at which point, she was endorsed by Sarah Palin and Todd Palin. Is she Tea Party?
Fischer’s victory comes just a week after another unlikely insurgent — Indiana state Treasurer Richard Mourdock — ended the 36-year Senate career of Dick Lugar.

While her victory can’t be claimed by outside groups, it will stoke further anti-establishment fear among front-runners sitting on seemingly comfortable polling leads.
Politico won't say Tea Party, but Mourdock was Tea Party. Let's check the Washington Post:
While Fischer’s win wasn’t necessarily a tea party win, it was reminiscent of the insurgent GOP candidacies of 2010, in which a candidate’s character and politics often meant more than money and infrastructure....
What counts as Tea Party? There's this not-necessarily-Tea-Party type of candidate. An interesting category. Let's define it/talk about it.

The Super-O-Rama for President Obama.

Politico reports:
Strapped for cash and facing a tidal wave of big-money Republican attack ads, Democratic super PACs are putting an unlikely plan in motion: the Super-O-Rama.

The kitschy name is for a massive fundraising push at the national convention in Charlotte, where Democrats aim to woo elusive big donors with parties featuring live music, open bars and mingling with “senior Democratic policy leaders,” according to a fundraising appeal....
While he stressed that Super-O-Rama is “still in the planning stages — the only thing that has been decided is the name,” [said Bill Burton, a former aide to President Barack Obama who co-founded Priorities USA] it’s long been part of the plan “to have events to raise money where Democrats are gathered.”
So you've got the moronic name. That's step 1. Step 2: ???? 3: FUNDS!

"When the girl fell on top of her, she stayed under her dead body until the sound of shooting stopped."

Testified Invgrild Stensrud, who was shot by Anders Breivik in the Utoeya Island massacre.

ADDED: More detail here:
"I thought they (the attackers) were exchanging messages but realising he was alone, I think the scream was actually a battle cry," [Stensrud] testified....

"I tried to get to the door behind others and when they got shot, they fell on me. One laid across my chest," she told the trial, which will continue until mid-June. "That's when I got hit in the left thigh. Many were shot lying on the floor.... Next to me (a man) was coughing up blood"...

That person, Glenn Martin Waldenstroem, said Breivik appeared both joyous and angry. "His face looked distorted," said Waldenstroem, 20, who survived being shot in the face. "He looked angry and smiled simultaneously"....

Breivik has said he initially tried to call an end to his killing spree after leaving the cafe, picking up a victim's mobile and phoning police, only to be forced to leave a message.

He continued killing, shouting "you are going to die today, Marxists"....

What happens if you're out on a cruise ship, and someone accuses you of rape?

You might spend the cruise in the brig:
The men, both Orthodox Jews from Israel,... say that after climbing into their beds the first night, they were awakened at 5 a.m. by crew members who made them get dressed “in prison garments issued by Royal Caribbean.”

Without explanation, the staffers paraded [Eviator] Mor and [David] Amsalem “through public areas of the ship to a lock-up facility,” court papers state.

Several hours later, they were told they had been accused of raping an “unidentified woman” who later recanted her allegation and who was examined by a doctor who determined she hadn’t been sexually assaulted.

“Notwithstanding the woman’s recantation and the doctor’s conclusion . . . Royal Caribbean’s arresting agents refused to release plaintiffs or to modify the conditions of their imprisonment,” according to the lawsuit.
Yes, it's a lawsuit. They're only asking for $100 million.

This is one reason I would avoid cruise ships. It's a little city out there. What is the government in that little city? You take it for granted, but you know there will be crime. Rape and accusations of rape must happen all the time. The cruise ship company obviously has its lawyers and its policies and must want to handle these things well enough that news like this never comes out, but obviously, there will be some screwups. I assume Royal Caribbean offered these men a generous settlement, but they want more. The publicity is awful. And yet, people will still pay money to ride those floating cities.

"Why Wrigley Field Must Be Destroyed."

It's the only way for the Cubs to become a winning team. What's so bad about Wrigley?
1. The park is schizo.

.... It looks like a home-run hitter's park, and when the wind blows out, it is. But when the wind screams off the lake, the park turns nasty. Even balls headed for the seats are reduced to routine flies. For the Cubs, MacPhail said, every game might as well be away...
2. Wrigley Field is too damn nice.

Going to the park is so pleasant, the game itself has become secondary. The sunshine, the lake air, the red brick—that's what draws the crowds. The bleachers are filled even when the team is terrible, which takes pressure off of the owners....

3. Losing some of the time makes you want to win; losing all of the time makes you a loser....
Extreme. I like historic preservation, and it's nice for the fans to have a nice day in the park, and convenient for the other teams to have this losing team to beat. But the losing record really is shocking, especially compared to the winning record before the team moved to Wrigley in 1916:
The Cubs pre-Wrigley: 2,971 wins, 2,152 losses.

The Cubs since (before Monday): 7,382 wins, 7,703 losses.

May 15, 2012

New Daily Kos/PPP poll: Walker 50%, Barrett 45%.

Likely voters. That's exactly the same as a month ago.

And in the Senate race: "Democrat Tammy Baldwin down 4-5 points against all comers (45-41 vs. Eric Hovde, 46-42 vs. Mark Neumann, and 47-42 vs. Tommy Thompson)."

"If the Interstate System Were Designed by a Slime Mold."

"[T]he slime mold repeatedly created routes that were strikingly similar to the ones laid out by decades—and sometimes centuries—of human engineering."

"The difficult truth that virtually no politician is prepared to acknowledge is that the road to job creation runs through job destruction."

"Yet it is a truth that workers and voters must understand — and Mitt Romney carries the almost impossible burden of explaining it. The controversy over Bain Capital won’t blow over. The only way forward is to show how his work at Bain contributed to growth, and how the excessive regulation and crony capitalism his fiercest critics advocate is a recipe for stagnation."

From an article by Reihan Salam published last January, which I'm looking at on the occasion of this new ad against Mitt Romney:

"Ear & Wallet Adjustments."


"Fordham piece called Warren Harvard Law's 'first woman of color.'"

Politico reports:
But a 1997 Fordham Law Review piece described her as Harvard Law School's "first woman of color," based, according to the notes at the bottom of the story, on a "telephone interview with Michael Chmura, News Director, Harvard Law (Aug. 6, 1996)."

The mention was in the middle of a lengthy and heavily-annotated Fordham piece on diversity and affirmative action and women. The title of the piece, by Laura Padilla, was "Intersectionality and positionality: Situating women of color in the affirmative action dialogue."...
Yikes. What a title. I remember when titles like that were everywhere.

"Joyce Maynard Adopted Two Girls from Ethiopia Then Gave Them Up."

You remember Joyce Maynard, don't you?
[J.D.] Salinger contacted her after Maynard, at age 18, appeared on the cover of the New York Times Magazine wearing jeans and red sneakers. Long straight hair and bangs, large eyes and lanky arms added to her waif-like appearance.

Maynard called her cover story "An 18-Year-Old Looks Back On Life." Some 25 years later, she published her memoir, At Home in the World, which explores the Salinger relationship in riveting detail.
Here's that old cover story, from 1972. Excerpt:
I had never taken Women's Liberation very seriously. Partly it was the looks of the movement that bothered me. I believed in all the right things, but just as my social conscience evaporated at the prospect of roughing it in some tiny village with the Peace Corps, so my feminist notions disappeared at the thought of giving up eye liner (just when I'd discovered it). Media-vulnerable, I wanted to be on the side of the beautiful, graceful people, and Women's Libbers seemed--except for Gloria Steinem, who was just emerging--plain and graceless. Women's Lib was still new and foreign, suggesting--to kids at an age of still-undefined sexuality--things like lesbianism and bisexuality. (We hadn't mastered one--how could we cope with the possibility of two?)

Besides, male chauvinism had no reality for me. In my family--two girls and two girl- loving parents--females occupied a privileged position. My mother and sister and I had no trouble getting equal status in our household. At school, too, girls seemed never to be discriminated against. (I wonder if I'd see things differently, going back there now.) Our class was run mostly by girls. The boys played soccer and sometimes held office on the student council--amiable figureheads--but it was the girls whose names filled the honor roll and the girls who ran class meetings. While I would never be Homecoming Sweetheart--I knew that--I had power in the school.
And here's what the cover looked like — what J.D. Salinger saw:

New Jersey businesses ban woman because of the color of her skin.


"Naked Came the Stranger"... a literary hoax from 1969.

Written by Mike McGrady, who died the other day at the age of 78.
Intended to be a work of no redeeming social value and even less literary value, “Naked Came the Stranger” by all appearances succeeded estimably on both counts.

Originally issued by Lyle Stuart, an independent publisher known for subversive titles, the novel was a no-holds-barred chronicle of a suburban woman’s sexual liaisons, with each chapter recounting a different escapade:

She has sex with a mobster and sex with a rabbi. She has sex with a hippie and sex with at least one accountant. There is a scene involving a tollbooth, another involving ice cubes and still another featuring a Shetland pony.
If you're just reading about this for the first time, I would expect you to think: What's the hoax? What's the difference between this and some comically careless porn novel?

Obama's name appears in the bios of ALL the other Presidents on the official White House website (except Gerald Ford's).

What an embarrassment!
The Heritage Foundation’s Rory Cooper tweeted that Obama had casually dropped his own name into Ronald Reagan’s official biography on, claiming credit for taking up the mantle of Reagan’s tax reform advocacy with his “Buffett Rule” gimmick. My first thought was, he must be joking. But he wasn’t—it turns out Obama has added bullet points bragging about his own accomplishments to the biographical sketches of every single U.S. president since Calvin Coolidge (except, for some reason, Gerald Ford)....
IN THE COMMENTS: tim in vermont makes perhaps the funniest comment in the history of this blog:
"Like Jesus, Obama also sports the middle initial of 'H'."

NYT/CBS poll: 67% think Obama came out for SSM for political reasons.

"Most Americans suspect that President Obama was motivated by politics, not policy, when he declared his support for same-sex marriage, according to a poll released on Monday, suggesting that the unplanned way it was announced shaped public attitudes."

You mean if it had seemed more planned, it would have looked less political? I think they planned it to look unplanned so it would seem less political, and the 67% opinion would be even higher if they hadn't created the appearance that it was not planned.

But why plan — why deliberately take the position that most Americans reject?
About 4 in 10, or 38 percent, of Americans support same-sex marriage, while 24 percent favor civil unions short of formal marriage. Thirty-three percent oppose any form of legal recognition. When civil unions are eliminated as an option, opposition to same-sex marriage rises to 51 percent, compared with 42 percent support.
And why do people think he's being political if he's taking the position that's rejected?
Mr. Obama’s team is counting on the notion that whatever he might lose in votes or intensity of support will be offset by increased excitement among young voters and his liberal base....
Much of the analysis at the link is about Obama's campaign for reelection. But the survey was of American adults — not voters or even likely voters. 

"Voters now trust likely Republican nominee Mitt Romney more than President Obama..."

"... on all five issues regularly surveyed by Rasmussen Reports, especially when it comes to money."
A new national telephone survey finds that 51% of Likely U.S. Voters trust Romney more than Obama when it comes the economy, while 39% trust the president more....

A month ago, Romney had a similar 49% to 39% lead over the president on the issue of the economy after the two men had been virtually tied in early March....

Romney also now holds a double-digit lead over the president on the issue of taxes: 48% trust him more, while 38% put more faith in Obama....

Forty-five percent (45%) of voters have more confidence in Romney when it comes to health care versus 40% who feel that way about Obama....

Forty-four percent (44%) trust Romney more when it comes to national security, while 42% have more confidence in the president in this area....

Romney continues to edge the president 43% to 40% when it comes to whom voters trust more on energy policy, little changed from April.

MLB fires arbitrator who overturned Ryan Braun's drug suspension.

CBS reports:
MLB informed [Shyam] Das and the players' association of its decision last week. Das had been baseball's permanent arbitrator since 1999, part of what technically is a three-man panel that also includes a representative of management and labor....

Baseball's collective bargaining agreement says the arbitrator can be removed by the players' association or management at any time with written notice.

I just adore a penthouse view... through the glass floor of the bathroom...

... down a 15-storey elevator shaft.

"Will Judicial Commission remake give conservative justices a break?"

This is pretty intra-Wisconsin, but if you've been following the Wisconsin Supreme Court "chokehold" story, you might be interested in this.
Last week Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson released a letter to John Dawson telling him that the court, would not be not re-appointing him to the commission. The letter, signed by Abrahamson and the other two so-called “liberals” on the court, expressed regret at the decision by the conservative majority.

John Dawson, the chairman of the commission, has served on the panel since 2006. With his removal, the panel will be scrubbed of all commissioners who filed ethical complaints against Prosser and two other sitting conservative justices over the past four years.

Man at Walmart —  buying mulch for his marijuana plants — is bitten by a rattlesnake.

BBC reports:
Mica Craig... said the serpent attacked as he reached down to brush away what he thought was a stick from a bag of mulch.

The purchase was intended for his marijuana plants, which Mr Craig said he was licensed to grow for medical reasons.

Why sleep deprivation makes you fat.

"Unfortunately, we have caveman's hard-core wiring... and insufficient sleep in primitive times was read by the body: Danger, store fat."

"So the Obama administration... deliberately put the life of a British agent in jeopardy... someone who had infiltrated al Qaeda."

A much more serious breach of security than the case of Valerie Plame that everyone once cared so deeply about.

"Barack Obama, the first female president."

A predictable headline — don't you feel you thought of it first? — after Newsweek's "The First Gay President," which played off Toni Morrison's famous declaration about Bill Clinton.
Do you regret referring to Bill Clinton as the first black President?...

People misunderstood that phrase. I was deploring the way in which President Clinton was being treated, vis-à-vis the sex scandal that was surrounding him. I said he was being treated like a black on the street, already guilty, already a perp. I have no idea what his real instincts are, in terms of race.
The "first female president" riff comes from WaPo's Dana Milbank. He doesn't mean it in the Toni Morrison way — that Obama's getting the kind of shabby/unfair treatment typically aimed at women — but in the way Morrison was misunderstood. Milbank's evidence for his proposition is that Obama has gone on “The View” 4 times and that he gave a commencement speech at Barnard. Obama is. speaking to women, boosting them, pleasing them, hoping to get something in return. Hello! He's not getting treated like a woman. He's not even acting like a woman. He's acting like a man, angling for the favor of women.

Milbank admits it:
His reelection campaign has been working for months to exploit the considerable gender gap, which puts him far ahead of likely GOP rival Mitt Romney among women. But Monday’s activities veered into pandering, as Obama brazenly flaunted his feminine mystique.
Pandering. Let's consult the OED:
1. trans. To act as a pander to; to minister to the gratification of (another's desire or lust)....

 2. intr. To act as a pander; to minister to the immoral urges or distasteful desires of another, or to gratify a person with such desires. Also in weakened use: to indulge the tastes, whims, or weaknesses of another. Now usu. with to.
Sorry. Pandering to women is not acting like a woman.  (Or being treated like a woman.)

And Milbank doesn't really know what "the feminine mystique" means. Betty Friedan defined her term clearly in her classic book, in the first paragraph of the first chapter, which was famously titled "The Problem With No Name":
The problem lay buried, unspoken, for many years in the minds of American women. It was a strange stirring, a sense of dissatisfaction, a yearning that women suffered in the middle of the twentieth century in the United States. Each suburban wife struggled with it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries, matched slipcover material, ate peanut butter sandwiches with her children, chauffeured Cub Scouts and Brownies, lay beside her husband at night—she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question—“Is this all?”
The "mystique" — she says a few pages later — was the pervasive cultural belief in "feminine fulfillment" in the home...
... the American suburban housewife, kissing their husbands goodbye in front of the picture window, depositing their stationwagonsful of children at school, and smiling as they ran the new electric waxer over the spotless kitchen floor. They baked their own bread, sewed their own and their children’s clothes, kept their new washing machines and dryers running all day. They changed the sheets on the beds twice a week instead of once, took the rug-hooking class in adult education, and pitied their poor frustrated mothers, who had dreamed of having a career. Their only dream was to be perfect wives and mothers; their highest ambition to have five children and a beautiful house, their only fight to get and keep their husbands. They had no thought for the unfeminine problems of the world outside the home; they wanted the men to make the major decisions. They gloried in their role as women, and wrote proudly on the census blank: “Occupation: housewife.”
No way Obama was "flaunting" his feminine fulfillment in the house. Presumably, Dana Milbank (who is a man) thinks he can pontificate about female matters and use a feminist catchphrase and give it whatever meaning it seems to have to him. He's got a longstanding column in the Washington Post, so he feels he can do that. Ironically, that feeling is utterly the opposite of feminism. It's patriarchy. And this patriarch, Milbank, is himself pandering to women. It's funny that he's attempting to flatter and impress women by tagging alongside the man he thinks all the women love, Barack Obama.

Milbank tells us that Obama told the college women that "'Congress would get a lot more done' if more women were there." And Obama gave the women the supposedly good news that "more and more women are out-earning their husbands. You’re more than half of our college graduates and master’s graduates and PhDs." (Presumably, he didn't tell them they're going to have a hell of a time finding a mate on their level.) Milbank goes on:
And they can look good doing it! “You can be stylish and powerful, too,” he said. “That’s Michelle’s advice.” 
And this makes him "a woman"... how? Oh, what's the point of looking for reason in Milbank's lame obeisance to the alpha male?
There were some ironies in the appearance. When the White House asked Barnard for the commencement speaking role, the college dumped its original speaker, Jill Abramson. In addition to being an actual woman, Abramson is the first of her sex to become executive editor of the New York Times.
Obama made no mention of Abramson, but he did mention that he knows the past three Barnard commencement speakers, including Hillary Rodham Clinton, whose presidential aspirations Obama dashed.
Ha ha. Step aside, ladies. The patriarch is here.

May 14, 2012

At the Tablescape Café...


... there's a place for you.

"One of enduring mysteries is how and why a well-regarded genealogical society would rely on an obviously flimsy family newsletter to opine on a hot political topic."

"And, with that, how did they find this obscure family newsletter in the first place, was it from the Warren campaign which also found an obscure Native American cookbook partially authored by a relative of [Elizabeth] Warren?"

"If we consider this to be a civil right, and I do, I don’t think civil rights ought to be left up to a state-by-state approach."

"I think we should have a national policy on this."

Here comes the pull from the left on same-sex marriage. That's James Clyburn, who ranks 3rd among Democrats in the House.

Marriage is actually unusually hard to handle at the state level — which was why Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act. If any state permits same-sex marriage, couples who want to marry can travel to that state. Are you going to allow individual states to decide whether to recognize that marriage? DOMA was a decision to say yes, but Obama has said he believes DOMA to be unconstitutional, and he withdrew from defending it in court. Presumably, in appointing federal judges, he hopes to find individuals who share that legal opinion. And the federal government uses marriage status for many purposes. It must either accept the same-sex marriages from the states or not.

So the federalism solution really doesn't work. I know I said — just this morning — that "Leave it to the states is a fine — truly excellent — way to package the issue and set it to the side." It's not as though I'm not aware of the legal problem. I teach the topic in law school classes frequently. It's only that I think the issue can be politically packaged that way. But I must acknowledge that a truly probing questioner would succeed in opening that package back up, and Clyburn is encouraging that inquiry.

"Wisconsin Dems furious with DNC for refusing to invest big money in Walker recall."

Writes Greg Sargent (who, I've observed, leans distinctly liberal):
The failure to put up the money Wisconsin Dems need to execute their recall plan comes at a time when the national Republican Party is sinking big money into defending Walker, raising fears that the DNC’s reluctance could help tip the race his way.

“We are frustrated by the lack of support from the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Governors Association,” a top Wisconsin Democratic Party official tells me. “Scott Walker has the full support and backing of the Republican Party and all its tentacles. We are not getting similar support.”...

“Scott Walker has made this a national election,” the Wisconsin Dem tells me. “If he wins, he will turn his victory into a national referendum on his ideas about the middle class. It will hurt Democrats nationally. The fact that [national Dems] are sitting on their hands now is so frustrating. The whole ticket stands to lose.”
It suggests that from the inside, the Democrats see Walker winning, and they don't want to spend their money this way. And if they're going to lose, they don't way it to seem as though they viewed this race as a national referendum. They'll want to refute that characterization if the Republicans use it. Denying Tom Barrett the money he needs now builds a foundation for minimizing Walker's win: He grossly outspent us. (By the way, Sargent never mentions the name Tom Barrett.)

Over on Intrade, Scott Walker winning the recall just hit 72.5%.

"I want to have your child. With my looks and your brains, it will be a perfect child!"

"But what if it has my looks and your brains?"

Freaky pic:

Stand back or squint to achieve the best effect.

And here's Einstein in shorts:


Sophia is the new #1 girl's name, knocking Isabella down to second place.

Meanwhile, Jacob continues its dominance in the boy's category.

The up-and-coming boy's name is Mason, jumping 10 places to #2... pretty obviously caused by Kourtney Kardashian naming her kid that.
The fastest rising name for girls: Briella, which jumped 394 spots, to No. 497. Briella Calafiore stars in "Jerseylicious," a reality TV show about battling stylists at a beauty salon in Green Brook, N.J. She's also in a spinoff called "Glam Fairy."

Brantley was the fastest rising name for boys, jumping 416 spots to No. 320. Brantley Gilbert is a singer who had a No. 1 country hit called "Country Must Be Country Wide."
Pop culture, baby.
... Elvis returned to the list at No. 904, after dropping off for a year. When Elvis dropped off the in 2010, it ended a run that had started in 1955.
Pop culture.

Here's the Social Security Administrations chart showing the changes from last year to this year. You can do a search there too. I checked my own name, which is just about to fall off the list, at 996. It was #493 in 2000, and it's dropped almost steadily since then. People in the "Ann" zone are going with Anna, which is #38. Ana, Anne, and Annie are all more popular than Ann.

"What fascinates Althouse about Obama?"

Asks ricpic. And I answer:
Wow. How can you ask? Who is more fascinating than Obama... by which I mean the entire story of everyone relating to Obama?

He is the most interesting character I've seen emerge in my lifetime, perhaps. Simultaneously, he's boring! Which is interesting.

Who do you find more interesting? Romney's not that interesting.

I don't think Presidents should be chosen based on interestingness, but blogging is based on interestingness.

The 8 ghosts that haunt "Dreams From My Father."

This is the second in a series of posts based on the search for a single word in Barack Obama's memoir "Dreams From My Father." I'm proceeding intuitively, choosing a word, and taking advantage of the searchable Kindle text. In Saturday's post, the word was "faceless," chosen because I'd found it striking that Obama had used that word to describe the white children who'd taunted him and led him to be cruel to a little black girl he called Coretta. I found 2 other occurrences of "faceless," and one involved a poor black woman he called Ruby. She was not the faceless one. What was faceless was an image of white people contained within — "buried deep within" — black people who had developed their own identity around "a very particular experience with hate."

Obama portrayed black people as having an inner white person, and he wondered "whether the bonds of community could be restored without collectively exorcising that ghostly figure that haunted black dreams." So that inner white person wasn't real. It was a ghost — a ghost that haunted dreams. The book is "Dreams From My Father," so it's quite significant to find the notion of dreams haunted by white people, and white people conceptualized as ghosts.

So I have selected "ghost" as my word for this second post in the series. I consult my Kindle text and discover there are 8 ghosts in "Dreams From My Father." The inner white-person ghost that distorts the identity of black people like Ruby is Ghost #4. I'll tell you about the other 7 ghosts, but first I want to remind you of another memoir in a genre we might call: minority identity in the midst of white people. That book is  "The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts," by Maxine Hong Kingston, which that came out in 1975.  I'm rather sure Obama knew this book, because Kingston moved to Hawaii in 1967, where Obama lived from 1961-1962, 1963-1967, and 1971-1979. According to the short bio in the Kindle version of "The Woman Warrior," Kingston has been awarded "rare title of 'Living Treasure of Hawai’i.'"

What were these "ghosts" Kingston wrote about in her memoir? They were the people who were not of her race (which was Chinese). Born in 1940, one year after her mother moved to America, Kingston described her perception of Americans with the ghost metaphor:
But America has been full of machines and ghosts—Taxi Ghosts, Bus Ghosts, Police Ghosts, Fire Ghosts, Meter Reader Ghosts, Tree Trimming Ghosts, Five-and-Dime Ghosts. Once upon a time the world was so thick with ghosts, I could hardly breathe; I could hardly walk, limping my way around the White Ghosts and their cars. There were Black Ghosts too, but they were open eyed and full of laughter, more distinct than White Ghosts....
If Obama had over-indulged his propensity to call white people ghosts, he might have seemed too much like Maxine Hong Kingston, and he could not have conveyed the thoughtful, hopeful vibe about race that worked so well for him in the 2008 election season. "Ghost" appears in "The Woman Warrior" far more than 100 times. (A Kindle search maxes out at 100.) There are only 8 "ghosts" in "Dreams From My Father." We have seen #4. Let's encounter the rest.

Ghost #1 is Obama himself, in the introduction, imagining how others see him as "the ghostly image of the tragic mulatto trapped between two worlds":
[S]ome people have a hard time taking me at face value. When people who don’t know me well, black or white, discover my background (and it is usually a discovery, for I ceased to advertise my mother’s race at the age of twelve or thirteen, when I began to suspect that by doing so I was ingratiating myself to whites), I see the split-second adjustments they have to make, the searching of my eyes for some telltale sign. They no longer know who I am. Privately, they guess at my troubled heart, I suppose—the mixed blood, the divided soul, the ghostly image of the tragic mulatto trapped between two worlds. And if I were to explain that no, the tragedy is not mine, or at least not mine alone, it is yours, sons and daughters of Plymouth Rock and Ellis Island, it is yours, children of Africa, it is the tragedy of both my wife’s six-year-old cousin and his white first grade classmates, so that you need not guess at what troubles me, it’s on the nightly news for all to see, and that if we could acknowledge at least that much then the tragic cycle begins to break down … well, I suspect that I sound incurably naive, wedded to lost hopes, like those Communists who peddle their newspapers on the fringes of various college towns. Or worse, I sound like I’m trying to hide from myself.
Is the ghost the white component that he perceives in himself? He doesn't say that. He imagines other people thinking about him. Are those imagined other people seeing his white half as a ghost? He doesn't say that. The ghost is "the tragic mulatto," both black and white, but he disowns that "image." It's in the heads of "people who don’t know me well, black or white," but it's an image that forms — he thinks — when they find out that his mother is white, which is something he admits withholding from people. He withholds — avoids "advertis[ing]" — because he suspects that he is seeking to ingratiate himself with whites. When they find out about the white mother, they see him as a ghost trapped between 2 worlds, but he wants them to know that the tragedy belongs to all Americans — or, that is, he thinks about rambling and ranting about how the tragedy belongs to all Americans and then he brings himself up short with the notion that he sounds like a college-town Communist.

Ghost #2 appears as an adjective — "ghostly" — used to describe the skin of a black man who used skin lightener, whom Obama claims to have seen in a photograph in Life magazine (though I've read that there really was no such photograph in Life). Obama's mother has taken the young boy to the library, where he's come across a collection of old Life magazines.
Eventually I came across a photograph of an older man in dark glasses and a raincoat walking down an empty road. I couldn’t guess what this picture was about; there seemed nothing unusual about the subject. On the next page was another photograph, this one a close-up of the same man’s hands. They had a strange, unnatural pallor, as if blood had been drawn from the flesh. Turning back to the first picture, I now saw that the man’s crinkly hair, his heavy lips and broad, fleshy nose, all had this same uneven, ghostly hue.

He must be terribly sick, I thought. A radiation victim, maybe, or an albino — albino—I had seen one of those on the street a few days before, and my mother had explained about such things. Except when I read the words that went with the picture, that wasn’t it at all. The man had received a chemical treatment, the article explained, to lighten his complexion. He had paid for it with his own money. He expressed some regret about trying to pass himself off as a white man, was sorry about how badly things had turned out. But the results were irreversible. There were thousands of people like him, black men and women back in America who’d undergone the same treatment in response to advertisements that promised happiness as a white person.
I felt my face and neck get hot. My stomach knotted; the type began to blur on the page. Did my mother know about this?
"Ghostly" describes the color achieved by a black man who tried to become white. It's an unpleasant look, the result of delusion and oppression. It's the bad dream of becoming white. A black man imagined he could "pass" as white and that would make him happy, but it didn't work, and he feels regret. He feels regret and Obama feels sick, and Obama wonders whether his white mother understands. She brought him to the safe environs of the library, but he found a clue of the suffering that's out there in the world.
I had a desperate urge to jump out of my seat, to show them what I had learned, to demand some explanation or assurance. But something held me back. As in a dream, I had no voice for my newfound fear. By the time my mother came to take me home, my face wore a smile and the magazines were back in their proper place. The room, the air, was quiet as before.
It seems that he withdrew into whiteness, to walk home quietly with his white mother, into his white life. But the fear was implanted, that his outward life of whiteness was a sickly, ghostly pallor. Understood this way, Ghost #2 is also Obama, as he identifies with the deluded black man who attempted to recolor his skin.

Ghost #3 is Obama's father, as Obama, the young man, experiences disillusionment:
All my life, I had carried a single image of my father, one that I had sometimes rebelled against but had never questioned, one that I had later tried to take as my own. The brilliant scholar, the generous friend, the upstanding leader—my father had been all those things. All those things and more, because except for that one brief visit in Hawaii, he had never been present to foil the image, because I hadn’t seen what perhaps most men see at some point in their lives: their father’s body shrinking, their father’s best hopes dashed, their father’s face lined with grief and regret....

Now, as I sat in the glow of a single light bulb, rocking slightly on a hard-backed chair, that image had suddenly vanished. Replaced by … what? A bitter drunk? An abusive husband? A defeated, lonely bureaucrat? To think that all my life I had been wrestling with nothing more than a ghost! For a moment I felt giddy; if Auma hadn’t been in the room, I would have probably laughed out loud. The king is overthrown, I thought. The emerald curtain is pulled aside. The rabble of my head is free to run riot; I can do what I damn well please. 
The idealized man, the father, didn't really exist. He was nothing more than a ghost. Obama finds that liberating — to be free of the role model. The emerald curtain is pulled aside. There is no great and powerful Oz. The king is overthrown... and the rabble in his head — the revolutionaries — run riot. But then: "The night wore on," and the feeling of liberation faded. He fretted: "Who might protect me from doubt or warn me against all the traps that seem laid in a black man’s soul?" So Ghost #3 is not a white person. It is the absence of a father, the father image he had clung to, now dissipated. 

Ghost #5 appears in Kenya, where Obama has traveled to encounter his extended family. Obama is walking in the city with his half-sister Auma:
Auma and I happened to run into an acquaintance of the Old Man’s outside Barclay’s Bank. I could tell that Auma didn’t remember his name, so I held out my hand and introduced myself. The man smiled and said, “My, my—you have grown so tall. How’s your mother? And your brother Mark—has he graduated from university yet?” 
At first I was confused. Did I know this person? And then Auma explained in a low voice that no, I was a different brother, Barack, who grew up in America, the child of a different mother. David had passed away. And then the awkwardness on all sides—the man nodding his head (“I’m sorry, I didn’t know”) but taking another look at me, as if to make sure what he’d heard was true; Auma trying to appear as if the situation, while sad, was somehow the normal stuff of tragedy; me standing to the side, wondering how to feel after having been mistaken for a ghost.
Ghost #5 is David... or Obama himself, appearing to be David, the half-brother he never knew and never could know, the lost family connection.

Ghost #6 rises up in a dream he has in Africa:
I finally fell asleep, and dreamed I was walking along a village road. Children, dressed only in strings of beads, played in front of the round huts, and several old men waved to me as I passed. But as I went farther along, I began to notice that people were looking behind me fearfully, rushing into their huts as I passed. I heard the growl of a leopard and started to run into the forest, tripping over roots and stumps and vines, until at last I couldn’t run any longer and fell to my knees in the middle of a bright clearing. Panting for breath, I turned around to see the day turned night, and a giant figure looming as tall as the trees, wearing only a loincloth and a ghostly mask. The lifeless eyes bored into me, and I heard a thunderous voice saying only that it was time, and my entire body began to shake violently with the sound, as if I were breaking apart …. 
I jerked up in a sweat, hitting my head against the wall lamp that stuck out above the bunk. In the darkness, my heart slowly evened itself, but I couldn’t get back to sleep again.
This ghost seems to embody all of his fears, but perhaps represents his father. We get the description of body heat and visceral disorder as in the library scene, and a lighting fixture plays a supporting role, as in the "emerald curtain" scene. This dream — a literal dream in a book called "Dreams" — seems to express his difficulty finding his place in Africa.

Ghost #7 is a simile used by Obama's great uncle, in this scene that takes place in Kenya:
His hair was snow-white, his skin like parchment. He was motionless, his eyes closed, his fleshless arms propped on the armrests of his chair. I thought perhaps he was asleep, but when Billy stepped forward the old man’s head tilted in our direction, and I saw a mirror image of the face I’d seen yesterday in Alego, in the faded photograph on Granny’s wall. Billy explained who was there, and the old man nodded and began to speak in a low, quaking voice that seemed to rise out of a chamber beneath the floor. “He says that he is glad you have come,” Roy translated. “He was your grandfather’s brother. He wishes you well.” I said that I was happy to see him, and the old man nodded again.
“He says that many young men have been lost to … the white man’s country. He says his own son is in America and has not come home for many years. Such men are like ghosts, he says. When they die, no one will be there to mourn them. No ancestors will be there to welcome them. So … he says it is good that you have returned.” The old man raised his hand and I shook it gently. As we got up to leave, the old man said something else, and Roy nodded his head before closing the door behind us. “He says that if you hear of his son,” Roy explained, “you should tell him that he should come home.”
Here, the ghost is — as the old man tells it — the black man lost to the white man’s country. Obama's great uncle is speaking specifically about his own son, a man who was born in Africa, who needs to come home and to stay connected to his family so he will be mourned when he dies. Despite the reference to death, the condition of being a ghost occurs during life, wandering about in "the white man's country." Does that make Obama a ghost too, since he lives in America, where he was born, and which must be his home? Obama lacks even the definition of being the African man who has on his our relocated to the white man's country and who could come home to the embrace of the African ancestors. He's gone there, to Africa, but is it home for him? Is America not his country?

What happens next in that scene is that everyone drinks a lot of moonshine, and...
Old faces and young faces all glow like jack-o’-lanterns in the shifting lamplight, laughing and shouting, slumped in dark corners or gesticulating wildly for cigarettes or another drink, anger or joy pitching up to a crest, then just as quickly ebbing away, words of Luo and Swahili and English running together in unrecognizable swirls, the voices wheedling for money or shirts or the bottle, the voices laughing and sobbing, the outstretched hands, the faltering angry voices of my own sodden youth, of Harlem and the South Side; the voices of my father.
That's a long sentence! What's going on there? Unrecognizable swirls. Everyone but the brooding Obama seems to dissolve into drunken chaos. No more ghosts, but the people look like jack-o’-lanterns — they become surreal and ghoulish. And yet, he identifies with them, in an alienated way: They are "my own sodden youth."

The final ghost, Ghost #8, is another simile. We're still in Kenya:
On the last weekend of my stay, Auma and I took the train to the coast and stayed at an old beachfront hotel in Mombasa that had once been a favorite of the Old Man’s. It was a modest, clean place, in August filled mostly with German tourists and American sailors on shore leave. We didn’t do much, just read and swam and walked along the beach, watching pale crabs scurry like ghosts into their sandy holes.
Pale crabs, like ghosts, scurry into holes in the beach. Here's a picture of a Mombasa sand crab. Is there any symbolism here? Maybe Obama just walked on the beach one time with Auma. But it's his father's place, and it's a place that sounds as though it's full of white people — Germans and Americans — who presumably went swimming and sunning on that beach. But Auma and Obama looked at the white crabs, who were like ghosts, and they didn't even see the white people, who were, then — one could say — even more ghostly than the ghosts.