June 23, 2012

"Wearing Brave Face, Obama Braces for Health Care Ruling."

NYT headline. Article by Jodi Kantor:
Former advisers are emphasizing the many aspects of the bill that are not connected to the mandate, like the subsidies to buy insurance. Some aides even argue privately that losing the mandate could be a political boon, because it would rob Republicans of their core complaint against the law.
Yeah, that's what I've been saying. Plus, Obama would get a new issue: The Supreme Court has too many conservative activists and needs re-balancing; a Democrat should make the next appointment(s). And if the decision goes the other way, Romney will have the corresponding arguments: 1. We need a President who will sign the repeal of Obamacare, and 2. The Supreme Court has too many liberals who don't respect the Constitution and we need a conservative President to re-balance it.

Back to Kantor:

"Should Ann Romney become first lady, perhaps she can promote the therapeutic benefits of horseback riding..."

"... and encourage a culture that funnels the countless unwanted or retired horses to riding farms where emotionally or physically distressed people can enjoy the special communion between human and horse."

Michelle Obama wants to take away your cheeseburgers, but with Ann Romney, everybody gets a pony!

By the way, attacking Ann Romney about her horses was a big mistake, and not just because of this MS/disability angle. Women and horses. It's a thing. Not for all women, but for some women. Do not interfere with a woman and her horse! There's a mystical connection there. Break it up and you create some dangerous energy.
Without question, there is a connection between women and horses. This bond lures both young girls and older women into a web of seduction.

"So there’s a reason why there’s no knives at your table and the forks will be collected. ... And I’m not joking."

Said National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials board member Raquel Regalado to the delegates at its annual conference.

Is this a special Secret Service rule applied to Latinos? Or is this just the first time somebody conspicuously vocalized the policy? Apparently, it's the latter, according to the SS, but the Regalado clip is pretty funny and, unsurprisingly, went viral.

ADDED: This makes me what to quote my favorite verse of Lewis Carroll's "The Hunting of the Snark":
"'You may seek it with thimbles—and seek it with care;
You may hunt it with forks and hope;
You may threaten its life with a railway-share;
You may charm it with smiles and soap—'"
Hope... that's quite the Obama word. Forks and Hope... I love that. I once wrote a Civil Procedure exam with made-up facts that included a restaurant I called Forks and Hope. (That was many years ago, when I wove little jokes into the fact patterns, and if anyone had ever let on that they noticed and felt the oppression of exam-taking lightened a tiny notch, I'd still do it today.)

"Conservatives wanted the White House to stop spending on the health care law until the Supreme Court rules on whether it’s constitutional."

"But the administration has forged ahead, spending at least $2.7 billion since oral arguments in the case ended on March 28. That’s more than double the amount that was handed out in the three-month period leading up to the arguments...."

Why don't more girls sign up for the automotive technology class?

Is that a difficult question? Females were once completely excluded from some things that very few of us wanted to do. That's the way it was when I went to junior high school and the girls were required to study sewing and cooking in the same class period where the boys were forced to do mechanical drawing and shop. Obviously, a few boys would have thrived in sewing and/or cooking (and there are serious careers, full of men, at the end of that line of education). And some girls could have benefited from access to the mechanical drawing/shop track.

It's good that Title IX changed that. But the now-clear wrongness of the total exclusion does not mean that a male/female imbalance is a problem. And yet that's how NPR portrays it in this piece titled "The Shop Class Stigma: What Title IX Didn't Change." See? The assumption is that if male/female balance doesn't ensue, it's because entering a male-dominated field makes females feel stigmatized.

TalkLeft says George Zimmerman "was not the aggressor" — "This is self-defense."

This opinion — by Jeralynn Merritt — is based on poring over the evidence.
Zimmerman... did nothing to provoke Trayvon Martin’s beating him, breaking his nose and slamming his head into concrete. He had every right to respond with deadly force to stop Trayvon’s physical attack on him and to prevent Trayvon from getting control of his weapon.
Much detail — Merritt's interpretation of Zimmerman's various statements — at the link. Excerpt:
George’s suspicion was aroused because he saw someone milling around between houses in the rain. He knew this person didn’t live at the house he was standing by because it had been burglarized before and he knew who lived there. The guy wasn’t exercising. He did nothing to get out of the rain. He thought to himself, who stands out in the rain and stares at houses?...

If the state has no evidence George initiated the verbal confrontation, then the affidavit for probable cause for second degree murder contained a lie....
Read the whole thing. I'm eliding a lot.

"Should We Hire Even More Teachers, Cops, and Firemen?"

"Not if we want the economy to recover any time soon," says Nick Gillespie at Reason.com.
Unless you believe that the primary function of the public sector is to be a jobs program, there is no reason to sweat recent cuts to public-sector jobs, whose numbers, as Mickey Kaus has pointed out, have "been bloating since around 1980."...

As it happens, Nobel-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman and many others (let's call them stimulatarians), seem to believe that a key function of government is precisely to employ lots of people who otherwise would look for work elsewhere....
And check out the caricature of Obama at the first link. All swirly hallucinogenic shapes and psychedelic colors. I showed it to Meade and said "That's the way I was always drawing when I was in high school," and he said he did too. (I'm class of 1969, and he's '72.)

It's "truly stunning" that the result in the Obamacare case hasn't leaked.

Says Ethan Leib (at PrawfsBlag):
Is it possible that no clerk mentioned what s/he is working on to a spouse?  That no spouse with the information mentioned it to a parent or friend, even accidentally?  That no parent or friend let it leak to a sniffing journalist or day trader in the community?  With an aggressive press corps dying for a scoop, well-connected within the community of people that work in and around the Court, doesn't it seem surprising that a secret could be so well kept? 
Perhaps it seems so amazing in contrast to the way other things have leaked — notably the many national security leaks from the Obama White House. Another way of looking at this picture is with the template that everyone is probably doing what they really want to do. Nothing is actually an impressive feat of maintaining secrecy. People can keep secrets. We're surprised when they do only because of the rarity of wanting to keep secrets.

Just an alternate theory.

"Instead of fighting gay marriage, I’d like to help build new coalitions bringing together gays who want to strengthen marriage..."

"with straight people who want to do the same,"  says David Blankenhorn (formerly a conspicuous opponent of gay marriage).
For example, once we accept gay marriage, might we also agree that marrying before having children is a vital cultural value that all of us should do more to embrace? Can we agree that, for all lovers who want their love to last, marriage is preferable to cohabitation? Can we discuss whether both gays and straight people should think twice before denying children born through artificial reproductive technology the right to know and be known by their biological parents?
I don't know what that last question has to do with the rest of it. Putting that aside, he's talking about generic conservative values relating to marriage. I suppose it's easy to "agree" that these things are better than the alternative. It's harder to give up all that sex outside of marriage.

And let's not forget that one of the leading gay-rights voices, Dan Savage, has used his position to push adultery acceptance
[Savage] does not believe in promiscuity; indeed, his attacks on the anonymous-sex, gay-bathhouse culture were once taken as proof of a secret conservative agenda. And he does not believe that monogamy is wrong for all couples or even for most couples. Rather, he says that a more realistic sexual ethic would prize honesty, a little flexibility and, when necessary, forgiveness over absolute monogamy. And he believes nostalgically, like any good conservative, that we might look to the past for some clues.

“The mistake that straight people made,” Savage told me, “was imposing the monogamous expectation on men. Men were never expected to be monogamous. Men had concubines, mistresses and access to prostitutes, until everybody decided marriage had to be egalitar­ian and fairsey.” In the feminist revolution, rather than extending to women “the same latitude and license and pressure-release valve that men had always enjoyed,” we extended to men the confines women had always endured. “And it’s been a disaster for marriage.”
See? Straight people make the "mistake" of not structuring sexual norms around the male. That's the message from one man who's only interested in sex with men. What about women? Well, let them "enjoy" the sexuality that man take to naturally. Liberation, baby. The man who has no desire whatsoever to have sex with bodies like yours says so.

I can't imagine that people like Savage will tone it down because Blankenhorn is now offering to form a coalition. Wouldn't he — as I do — write off Blankenhorn as a guy who's trying to re-leverage his importance? Who needs him?

June 22, 2012

After his lawyer said he'd "probably die of a heart attack" if he were a acquitted...

... Jerry Sandusky is convicted on 45 counts of child sex abuse.

Why are you so selfish?

If you're on the left, you're sensitive about that aren't you? Well, then...
Got a birthday, anniversary, or wedding coming up?

Let your friends know how important this election is to you—register with Obama 2012, and ask for a donation in lieu of a gift. It’s a great way to support the President on your big day. Plus, it’s a gift that we can all appreciate—and goes a lot further than a gravy bowl.

Setting up and sharing your registry page is easy—so get started today.
It's the Obama Event Registry, and I know they are making fun of it over at Hot Air and Instapundit and all those right-wing places that attract the greedy sort of person who doesn't know what it means to truly bleed deep in your heart for the poor and suffering people of the world to whom Barack Obama will minister in his second term when he is finally free of the bonds of the electoral system. It is time to sacrifice — and to display to your friends and family how much you sacrifice — for the betterment of humankind. And if any of them are receiving presents for their wedding/anniversary/birthday, may they feel the shame and, in their weakness, may they know that you are a finer, truer liberal than they.

At the Owl-Shop Café...

... you can get your 70s vibe.

(You can talk about anything you want in the comments, as is the norm in an Althouse blog "café" post. This is also a shopping post, with a link to Amazon, where if you go and buy anything before leaving, you'll be making a contribution to this blog without paying any extra for the product. The photograph is not by me. It's an Amazon photo. I'm not actually recommending these owl-themed products. I'm making an Amazon portal out of them a propos of the post about owls — and 70s nostalgia — earlier today.)

How can the Supreme Court escape from the perception that it's partisan?

Lawprof Barry Friedman is working on the theory that people have lost trust in the Court (or so the polls show) because they perceive the Court as political. (Friedman stresses that politics is different from ideology, ideology being something one actually believes in.)

Okay, so if the Court cares about the public's disapproval and wants to do something about it — which would be, ironically, political — then the Court should work to deflect the perception that it is political.

Well, then, the question becomes why do people perceive the Court as political? One answer is: Because it is political. In which case, people should be congratulated for their perceptiveness. Nice going, people. You are not dupes. But that's me saying that.

What Friedman is saying is that certain cases are making people see the Court as political. What cases?

"We thought if we started calling it the 'Owlpath,' that would help remind people that it gets dark here at night, and that's special...."

Ha ha. You've got to hit these lefties where they feel it.

Oh, owls! l looove owls!

ADDED: Owls were a favorite motif of 1970s females. If you want to revisit that aesthetic, check out this collection of crap at Etsy.

Meade just asked me: "What is it about women and owls?" I blabbered something about:

1. Eyes in front... like a baby... unleashes maternal instinct.

2. It's the bird of prey that — unlike hawks and eagles — doesn't say "bird of prey" to women. (Men like hawks and eagles, which wear their aggressive instinct on the surface. Women, like men, have their aggressive instincts, but they're less out and proud about it.)

AND: Don't forget the decoupage!

Overweight human beings are the equivalent of an extra 242 million people on earth.

According to a new study (via Reason.com).
Although the largest increase in population numbers is expected in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, our results suggest that population increases in the USA will carry more weight than would be implied by numbers alone," researchers wrote.
You know, I don't think an extra 242 million people sounds like that much. (Only 17 million tons!) But — and this is a big but — if these oversize people are in the U.S., they're going to move around in cars, and the more weight they move, the more fossil fuel they consume, the bigger the carbon footprint. So extra weight in America has a greater environmental effect than extra weight in places where people don't engage in so much commuting and traveling.

"[F]ace-to-face networking is dying...."

"Live somewhere cheap and invest time in online networking."

"If they decide this [against ObamaCare] by 5-4, then yes, it’s disheartening to me, because my life was a fraud."

"Here I was, in my silly little office, thinking law mattered, and it really didn’t. What mattered was politics, money, party, and party loyalty."

So said Yale lawprof Akhil Reed Amar to WaPo journ-o-list Ezra Klein, prompting National Review's Matthew J. Franck to turn the question around exactly the way I was going to before I saw that Matthew J. Franck already had:
If the Court goes 5-4 in favor of ObamaCare, will that be, you know, like, a totally okay, nonpartisan, statesmanlike decision?
But really how is a lawprof's life a fraud if it turns out that the Supreme Court is governed by politics, money, party, and party loyalty? As a lawprof myself, I see the Court as an object of study. Whatever it does, my work has meaning.

And looking back at what Professor Amar said, I now think he's being funny. I haven't seen his office, but I'm pretty sure it's damned posh — along with his salary — and not "silly" or "little" at all. Obviously, like any smart conlawprof, he knows that the real world of human beings interpreting the Constitution isn't pure, that human emotion, swirling with everything that affects human beings — politics, money, party, and party loyalty — must play its part. What would law — this law that supposedly matters — be without the human element?

It's inconceivable. Or if you could conceive of it — truly and honestly, without the impurities of humanity (and how would you, you being human?) — I think you would find it to be something alien, inhuman, and brutal, and you would never want to live under the regime called "the rule of law."

But Professor Amar, who is a political creature, with partisan and money-based preferences of his own, plays the role of the Yale law professor, applying political pressure to the Supreme Court and to the larger political mechanism (which includes the 2012 presidential election).

Are you enjoying the theater?

"Imagine what kind of policies people would adopt if this idea that work and family life should balance..."

"... for everyone, was at the forefront of their minds."
There are just countless places we could make changes without hurting productivity, and probably improve it. I frankly hope women and men will read this and start saying “why don’t we do that?” or “why don’t we ask for that?” or “why is this taboo to say?”

"Holley Mangold, 22 and a superheavyweight Olympic weight lifter, is 5-foot-8 and weighs 350 pounds."


Formidable fodder for "fat and fit" fantasies.

White people "are privileged, and that's unfair."

Via James Taranto, who calls it "bizarre" and "reminiscent of that hilarious 'Dear Woman' video we noted last year, in which a succession of wimpy dudes apologize to humanity's distaff half for the putative predations of 'the unconscious masculine.' In one way the 'Un-Fair' video is even weirder: The pallid persons' proclamations of privilege are literally written upon their skin, in what one hopes is water-soluble ink."

Possibly because I read that before I watched the "unfair" video, I thought the new ad had a relatively light touch and made its point well. "Dear Woman," by contrast, hilariously backfires. If you have 8+ minutes and need a laugh this morning, check it out. (If you don't have that much time, just watch for 20 seconds. I bet you'll be laughing.)

Anyway, Taranto has a lot more to say about racial politics. Feel free to discuss, in addition to the relative effectiveness of the 2 videos, whether it's good for American society to push white people to become conscious of the way their race gives them privileges. (Obviously, for one thing, you can't deliver that message solely to white people. If the message goes out, it is also received by nonwhite people, who must hear that they are continually at a disadvantage.)

Prof. Stone says it's "depressing" that the Court's "fleeting expletives" opinion repeatedly used "f***" and "s***"...

... instead of "fuck" and "shit."
In 1971, when the Court held in Cohen v. California that a state could not constitutionally make it a crime to use the word fuck in public, it used the word fuck. In 1978, when the Court upheld the FCC's rule banning the use of "indecent" words over the airwaves, it quoted in full George Carlin's monologue, including the words shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits. Those words, according to Carlin, were the "ones that will curve your spine [and] grow hair on your hands." When the Court of Appeals decided this very case (twice), it had no qualms about using the actual words that were at issue in the case. But Justice Kennedy had to use ***s to avoid saying fuck.

This is not what lawyers and judges do. Lawyers and judges deal with the real world. They deal with murder and greed and rape; they deal with enhanced interrogation and brutality and gruesome wounds; they even deal vaginas (unlike some legislators these days). 
Hey, why did Professor Stone go straight from gruesome wounds to vaginas? Because he's not being careful and sensitive and anticipating all manner of complaints. He's being Carlinesque and confrontational.
... Especially in a First Amendment case, lawyers and judges have to be willing to say the words out loud, even if it makes them uncomfortable. To do otherwise is to deny the realities of the case before them. It is to put their own sensitivities above their obligations to their clients and to the law. It is, in short, unprofessional.
Perhaps the Justices thought that to write out the words made them seem to have an unprofessional favoritism toward the folks who want to be free to (fleetingly) utter expletives.
When Melville Nimmer represented Paul Cohen in the Supreme Court in Cohen v. California, he knew he had to say the word fuck in the Supreme Court for the first time in its history. He also knew that Chief Justice Burger did not want this to happen. Sure enough, when Nimmer approached the lectern to make his argument, Burger leaned over the bench and instructed Nimmer, "Counsel, we are familiar with the facts of this case. You can dispense with them and move directly to your legal argument." To which Nimmer replied, "Of course, Your Honor. Suffice it to say that my client was convicted of disturbing the peace for wearing a jacket in public bearing the words 'Fuck the Draft.'" It was at that moment that he won his case, because lo and behold the walls of the Court did not crumble.
But you see the enthusiasm there. It's not just about willingness to plainly state ugly facts, as in a murder case. Lawyers and judges who must describe brutal murders in plain English are not doing a murder. But to say "Fuck the Draft" in court is to do what Paul Cohen himself did — say "Fuck the Draft" in court. (It wasn't just "in public." He wore his "Fuck the Draft" jacket in a municipal courthouse.)

That Melville Nimmer anecdote thrills us — some of us — because we identify with the expression in those words: Fuck the Draft. The Supreme Court never helped anybody who tried to litigate against the war in Vietnam, so there was emotional fire and resonance to the utterance right there of the words "Fuck the Draft." Professor Stone portrays it as pure, stolid, emotionless professionalism, but I have my doubts.

That said, when I teach Cohen v. California to a law school class, I say "Fuck the Draft," and I say it sincerely believing that not to say it is prissy and unprofessional. And if you said to me Althouse, admit it, you have some fun there with the opportunity to say "Fuck the Draft" with impunity, I would say: The Supreme Court writes "Fuck the Draft," which makes it the affirmative act to avoid saying "fuck," and the default should be passivity.

Which of course means that if I teach the new case — FCC v. Fox Television Stations — I won't be saying "Have you ever tried to get cow shit out of a Prada purse? It’s not so fucking simple,"  which is really what was said on TV by a person whom the Supreme Court amusingly (or professionally) refers to as "a person named Nicole Richie." I'll say "Have you ever tried to get cow s*** out of a Prada purse? It’s not so f ***ing simple."

Actually, I don't know how to say that out loud. I don't know how to be passively professional about asterisks. Anthony Kennedy has left me in a quandry.

As usual.

Another naked cannibal...

... in Florida.
It's the third case of flesh-biting in Florida similar to the Miami incident in as many weeks. On Saturday, Giovanni Martinez allegedly bit into the arm of a hospital nurse and threatened to eat hospital staff's faces off "like that guy in Miami."

5,000 ducks.

Walking in the road, stopping traffic.

June 21, 2012

"More than 5,300 violent assaults have been misreported since 2006..." in Milwaukee.

"An internal department audit shows that 20% of aggravated assaults were underreported as lesser offenses that didn't get counted in the city's violent crime rate during that time."
"This is the highest error rate I have ever heard of," said Samuel Walker, criminology professor at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. "A genuinely independent audit of the department is necessary."

Mayor Tom Barrett praised the department for being transparent about flaws in crime data.

"While there were errors in total crimes reported to the FBI, the Police Department's analysis shows crime trends previously reported are correct," Barrett said. "Milwaukee is a safer city."
Barrett, you will remember, was the Democratic Party's candidate in the recall election against Scott Walker.

Larry Ellison buys Lanai.

A steal?

"Why are people giving money to bullied bus monitor?"

Asks Paul Farhi about "this week's viral video sensation," Karen Klein, whose ordeal has inspired people to hand over what has now totaled up to over $250,00.
Perhaps the Internet, and a few political fundraising cycles, have taught Americans to transform sympathy, support and revulsion into transferable dollars. George Zimmerman certainly found that out when his defense fund began brimming over with contributions.
Money is an amazing substance! It's very easy to give, and it's so highly appreciated. What's the problem?

Assuming there is a problem, one might say it's that the money people feel moved to give isn't evenly distributed in proportion to how well deserved it is. The apportionment is too emotional, too dependent on the vagaries of video and viral pathways.

Or one could say that the money does nothing to fix the problem that is represented by the one instance that got our attention. Now that Klein is a very lucky victim, her tormenters are off the hook. We can laugh. They unwittingly benefited her! They don't have to cough up the $250,000 that we might imagine she could win in damages in a tort case. They made her a star and her fans got a little psychic thrill out of paying the damages. We're all square now. Everybody's a winner.

ADDED: The young man who started the fundraising effort for Klein is now the beneficiary of a fundraising effort on his behalf, launched by somebody else, who thinks he deserves compensation.

"On just about every level" Obama's new anti-Romney ad "is misleading, unfair and untrue..."

"... from the use of 'corporate raider' to its examples of alleged outsourcing. Simply repeating the same debunked claims won’t make them any more correct."

Freudian slip of the day.

In the previous post, I was writing about women who need to be "continually push[ed] to value their insights," and it came out as one of those near-homophone typos: "continually push[ed] to value their insides."

Didn't mean to wander over into "Vagina Monologues" territory.

Well-behaved women don't deserve a spot at Princeton.

The Atlantic has a long article with a title I feel like I've seen a hundred times: "Why Women Still Can’t Have It All."  It's very putting-the-duh-in-dull. I'm not saying you should read it. I just want to talk about the penultimate paragraph:
I continually push the young women in my classes to speak more. 
The author, Anne-Marie Slaughter, is a Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University. Somebody please tell me why Princeton University — Princeton University! — is admitting women who need to be continually pushed to speak more. In the 21st century. They don't deserve the seats they fill. They shouldn't be coddled. They should be flunked out. You get into Princeton and you sit there too timid — or too withholding — to speak? Unacceptable. The teacher shouldn't be prodding you.
They must gain the confidence to value their own insights and questions, and to present them readily. 
Is this kindergarten? This is Princeton! How many applications for admission did Princeton turn down in the process of matriculating these ladies?

Yesterday, I saw the old bumper sticker: "Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History," and we had a conversation about whether the sentiment had any relevance today. I took the position that it did, because women still succumb to the cultural expectation that they should be pleasing and well-liked. It's a problem. Get over it or don't, but why are you occupying classroom space that could be used to good effect by someone who doesn't need a university professor to nurture her to the point where she can "present" her "insights" "readily"? If you'd confessed your limitation on your application form, the university could — and should — have rejected you.
My husband agrees...
A classic feminist line!
... but he actually tries to get the young men in his classes to act more like the women—to speak less and listen more. If women are ever to achieve real equality as leaders, then we have to stop accepting male behavior and male choices as the default and the ideal. 
Yes, men. You need to back off and behave more like the women who need the professor to continually push them to value their insights so that they may present them readily. The future depends on your going beta.
We must insist on changing social policies and bending career tracks to accommodate our choices, too. We have the power to do it if we decide to, and we have many men standing beside us.
Insist. Try a petite stamping of the foot while you insist. Yes, you can, little lady. And little men: Behave yourselves!


Zimmerman's reenactment "may be too perfect," says Chris Cuomo, as if "he checked every box to get himself off the hook for this crime."

I'm transcribing from the video at the link, which includes an article that doesn't contain that text. You can see the whole reenactment in the video too, and the article does have text from the reenactment. I thought the Cuomo analysis was really interesting. Is George Zimmerman's reenactment of the killing of Trayvon Martin too good?

Cuomo also says:
For the prosecution, they can look at this, match it up to the 911 call, they can match it up to witness accounts. We now know Zimmerman's own statement. Somebody may have seen the fight in progress. Huge use for the prosecutors. Measure his demeanor. Does he change his story? How is he? Calm? Too calm? His wounds, on his head... Ballistics. He says where he shot Trayvon and how....

Everything he says — detail by detail — now this could work for or against — is perfect as a justification for what he did...
Interesting to think about how the seeming perfection of the justification is what makes it suspicious and how the prosecutorial mind works its way into that statement to find how to flip it into evidence of guilt.

"Skunk that bit person at Maryland restaurant was rabid."

Oh, good lord.

And I was just reading some Zagat article called "Worst Meal Ever: 21 Tales of Disastrous Dinners." Most were about things like a tuft of hair in the food or insects in the vinegar. Just a skunk in the restaurant is worst than all that. But the skunk in the restaurant bites you. And then on top of all that it's rabid!

Maybe we should eat in.

It's nerve-wracking waiting for the Supreme Court this morning.

We don't know if the health-care case will come out in a few minutes, but it might. Here are descriptions of the cases that might be announced today.

And here's where to read about the announcements as close as you can get to real time, with SCOTUSblog.

UPDATE 1: Alito has the opinion in Knox v. SEIU, which is about requiring state workers to pay for the union's political speech. The union lost in a 6-3 decision. There is a free-speech right to opt out. [Here's the PDF.]

UPDATE 2: There's a decision in the case about the new lower sentences for crack cocaine — applying it to sentences imposed after the Act was passed or crimes committed before the Act. This is a Breyer opinion, with 4 dissenting votes.

UPDATE 3: FCC v. Fox opinion written by Justice Kennedy. This is the case about the FCC's rules on "fleeting expletives," which were challenged as vague. "The decision is very narrow. The analysis section of the opinion is only 5 pages long. It says simply that the FCC didn't give advance notice. It doesn't decide the big questions of the constitutionality of the current policy." So it's not a decision on the free speech issue.

UPDATE 4: The excitement is over. The cases we are so nervous about will wait until next week. Relax!

Romney's 5 sons on Conan.

They're talking about family pranks, including the way Mitt Romney likes to ask a son to smell some food then pushes his face into it.

If Romney does that...
pollcode.com free polls 

Prosecutors want Anders Behring Breivik — who killed 77 and injured 242 persons — to be found insane and given psychiatric treatment.

Breivik himself claims to be sane and wants his political philosophy taken seriously, but the government asks the court to find him insane.
Without a hint of regret, [one prosecutor] said, Breivik had told the court how he had reloaded his gun while victims sat waiting for him to kill them on the island of Utoeya.

Breivik could be seen smiling at times as he listened to the prosecutor.

Does a mortuary science student have free speech right to write Facebook posts about a cadaver?

The Minnesota Supreme Court said no.
The [mortuary science] program's rules specifically require students to be "respectful and discreet" in dealing with cadavers, and not to blog about their cadavers. The university said that Tatro violated these rules with four Facebook status updates in which she talked about her cadaver, whom she named "Bernie." 
The student was actually pretty respectful toward the corpse:
Realized with great sadness that my best friend, Bernie, will no longer be with me as of Friday next week. I wish to accompany him to the retort. Now where will I go or who will I hang with when I need to gather my sanity? Bye, bye Bernie. Lock of hair in my pocket.
If you were "Bernie"'s widow, would that make you mad that you'd allowed the program to use his body for educational purposes? Do you think the university's interests are enough to justify this repression of speech?

Note that the state supreme court's decision was much more limited — relating only to professional programs with standards of conduct — than what the intermediate appellate court had said, which would have permitted the university to "punish off-campus speech that 'materially and substantially disrupted the work and discipline of the university.'"

UPDATE, June 26, 2012: Amanda Tatro, who was only 31, has died. She suffered from a disorder of the central nervous system and "need[ed] electric spinal cord stimulators in her body to be able to move."

June 20, 2012

"Maybe the critics are right... But what am I supposed to do about it — stop painting, change my work completely?"

"I go back into the studio, and there I am at the easel again. I enjoy what I’m doing, and feel good working. Other thoughts are just crowded out."

House Oversight Committee votes to recommend holding Holder in contempt.

It was 23-to-17, along party lines.
“Our purpose has never been to hold the attorney general in contempt,” Mr. Issa said. “Our purpose has always been to get the information the committee needs to complete its work — that it is not only entitled to, but obligated to do.”...

“I treat assertions of executive privilege very seriously, and I believe they should be used only sparingly,” said Representative Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, the panel's ranking Democrat. “In this case, it seems clear that the administration was forced into this position by the committee’s unreasonable insistence on pressing forward with contempt despite the attorney general’s good faith offer.”
ADDED: So what happens if he is voted in contempt?

Polar bear flees its zoo pen in Duluth, escaping the flood.

There was some heavy rain up at Lake Superior today.
“Even though it’s a large white object, it’s pretty nerve racking,” police spokesman Jim Hansen said of the chase for Berlin [the polar bear]. Zoo officials said she was tranquilized by the zoo’s vet and placed in quarantine....

Two seals managed to swim out of the zoo but were quickly recaptured just outside. Wolniakowski said no dangerous animals left the zoo grounds and that all have been secured.

"Hitchcock is the most daring avant-garde filmmaker in America today."

"Besides making previous horror films look like variations of ‘Pollyanna,’ ‘Psycho’ is overlaid with a richly symbolic commentary on the modern world as a public swamp in which human feelings and passions are flushed down the drain."

Wrote Andrew Sarris in 1960, beginning what were to be his lessons in the "auteur theory." He died this morning, at the age of 83.

Business clichés.

89 of them.

ADDED: #53 might strike lawyers as misguided:
It’s not actionable enough/what’s the deliverable? = You guys do the work on refining the idea. I’m too tired.
Years ago I worked at a market research firm that had a video ad that it used to show prospective clients. It went on and on, but the repeated tag line was: Above all, it's actionable!

The "sneaker trend."

Something else that came back from the 80s.

"On one tape she saw Johnny walking into a room and his reaction to seeing me."

"She apparently told him that he never once looked at her the way he looked at me. So she took that bit and put it on her computer as a screen saver in order to watch it over and over again."

Johnny = John Edwards. She = Elizabeth Edwards. Me = Rielle Hunter, who once met Elizabeth Edwards, who "did not look me in the eye. In fact, she appeared to be frightened."

"Why is this so inspirational?"

It's the slinky on a treadmill.

Via Jaltcoh, who warms you up for the epic slinky trek with cats on a treadmill and amazing box on a treadmill.

Gov. Scott Walker, who never finished college, says he personally relates to the new UW on-line flexible degree program.

"I kept thinking I'd go back, got married, had one kid, had another kid, next thing you know . . . you're worrying more about paying for your kids' college education than you are for your own."
While many residents are looking for jobs, many Wisconsin businesses are struggling to find qualified workers with the specific knowledge and skills they need to fill tens of thousands of available positions, Walker said.

The UW System will work with faculty, students and employers to identify which courses of study Wisconsin needs most. Current workforce data identifies strong needs in business and management, health care and information technology....

UW Extension will be responsible for repackaging existing degree programs and breaking down courses into smaller pieces that students can complete on their own time frame, UW System spokesman David Giroux said....
So, for example, let's say you'd like to train for a nursing job, but you are working full time, you don't have all the prerequisites even to begin a nursing program, and the courses you need have only been available in certain semesters, and you're missed the deadlines to begin in the next semester. You map out what you'd need to do and it would take many years to reach your ultimate goal. But if UW plan works right, it seems that you could plunge in to the courses you need immediately, finish them as fast as you can, at home in the evenings, avoiding time away from work and avoiding commuting.

This could be a fabulous way to get to the point where you can qualify for one of these jobs that are actually needed. This seems so much better than complaining about businesses not "creating" jobs for people and trying to taxing or spending programs to get businesses to hire people they wouldn't otherwise want to hire.

Obviously, it must be done well.

"[A] Texas grand jury... said a young father acted within the law when he used his fists to beat a man to death for sexually assaulting his 5-year-old daughter...."

But it's not some simple stamp of approval of a father's right to visit swift justice:
Legal analysts had earlier raised questions about whether the father should have stopped beating Mr. Flores after removing the daughter from danger and whether he would have been less liable if he had used a weapon instead of his fists, because pummeling someone to death can take considerable effort and suggests that revenge may have been a motive.
According to prosecutors, the father was alerted by a witness that the ranch hand was “forcibly carrying” the girl away. He then heard his daughter screaming, and, police say, found the ranch hand behind a barn assaulting the girl. After pulling Flores up, the father repeatedly punched him in the head and neck, where, the coroner said, the blunt force trauma was significant enough to cause death....

The father's emotional 911 call also made clear that there was no sense of nonchalance or satisfaction about what he had done. On the tape, the grand jury heard the father becoming increasingly agitated about whether EMTs would reach the remote ranch in time. "Come on! This guy is going to die on me!" the dad is heard screaming on the 911 call. "I don't know what to do!"

Bloomberg polling has Obama 13 points ahead of Romney.

"Can that possibly be true?"
The firm that conducted the Bloomberg survey, Selzer & Co., is well regarded by polling experts. The margin of error for its likely voter results was 3.6 percentage points.

The poll did not include an over-representation of Democrats, or African-Americans – both groups that skew heavily toward the incumbent. One thing that might account for its result, as compared with other surveys, is that it shows Obama doing better among white voters. The Bloomberg survey has him with 43 percent of the white vote, as opposed to 50 percent for Romney.

"No, said airline security, you can't take this bottle onboard. It exceeds the 100 milliliter limit; it's forbidden."

"But wait, said professor Martin Birchall of Bristol University. This is a medical container. Inside is a trachea, a carefully constructed human windpipe, seeded with 60 million stem cells from a very sick woman in Barcelona. We have just 16 hours to get it into her body...."

"When we dug down to about 80 meters deep, we fished out this long, fleshy object. It’s got a nose and an eye, but we have no idea what it is!"

Great moments in Chinese television.
“As we can all see, this looks like a type of fungus, on both ends of which you’ll find mushroom heads. On this side, you can see what looks like a pair of lips... The object looks very shiny, and it feels really fleshy and meaty, too”...

Summer reading for kids and teens.

Amazon has a nice selection.

Want my personal favorite from childhood? Here.

Drudge propagates the "Obama is like Nixon" meme.

I've already mobilized my "Obama is like Nixon" tag for the occasion. That was the 13th time I used it.

"If we accept the Liverpool Care Pathway we accept that euthanasia is part of the standard way of dying..."

"... as it is now associated with 29 per cent of NHS deaths."

"I have realized that I am not really all that conservative, I just hate the double standard in the mainstream media."

"Six Hundred newspapers would blare Fast and Furious on the front page every day if Bush were in office. President Obama has managed to win office while the NYT and Wash Post are still in business, and can carry the water for him. They will be gone soon, but for now, this will be a 2 day story, 'nothing to see here, keep it moving.'"

So says Fprawl, in the Fast and Furious/Executive Privilege thread.

WaPo's Eric Wemple credits Andrea Mitchell with airing the full context of Romney's "Wawa" remark...

... and seems to accept MSNBC's refusal to give Mitchell's critics a real apology:
In the unedited version, Mitt Romney comes off as highly impressed with Wawa’s sando-kiosks. And in MSNBC’s edited version, Mitt Romney comes off as highly impressed with Wawa’s sando-kiosks.

In a statement sent to me this afternoon, MSNBC stands behind the editing: “MSNBC did not edit anything out of order or out of sequence and at no time did we intend to deceive our viewers.”
But the video at the link, which bills itself as the "full Romney video" is still clipped out of context. It's not "unedited" as Wemple asserts! It lacks the anecdote about the optometrist dealing with government bureaucracy, which is why Romney told the Wawa story: for contrast. The point wasn't: gee whiz, technology is amazing. The point was: Government, unlike private business, lacks the incentives to make things easy and efficient. Yes, the new clip contains a summary to that effect, but the rest of the context is missing. The effort is to make Romney sound as silly and scattered as possible. Under criticism, some of the context was put back. But it was only enough to try to palm it off as context, and the Washington Post is promoting the palm-off.

Look at the full text compared to the MSNBC clip (and compare it to what Wemple displays as the "unedited" clip). It's actually a coherent, incisive speech and there's nice rapport with the audience!

Anyone not blinded by a wishful desire for Obama to win knows that Obama would never have been edited like that. And if somehow a short clip (like MSNBC's original Wawa clip) had gone out and gotten mocked, the mainstream media would have fallen over itself getting out the longest, most favorable form of the context, used the occasion to promote whatever point Obama was making and to praise him for his brilliance and eloquence in making that point, and denounced right-wing media for its nefarious out-of-context attack.

Wemple does go on to say that Wawa really is in the forefront of technology here, and it actually wasn't dumb to get gaga for Wawa. Fine. That too. But the key point — maybe the central theme of Romney's campaign — is that competition, free markets, and capitalism work and he's the guy who really knows about it. He's a pretty exciting candidate when you think about the expertise he's offering to bring to running the federal bureaucracy. That's what the mainstream media doesn't want people to see. Only Obama is exciting. Only Obama is brilliant. But no! Both candidates are brilliant and exciting. The question is which way do you want to go?

Obama exerts executive privilege over Fast and Furious documents.

"In a letter to Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., a Justice Department official said the privilege applies to documents that explain how the department learned that there were problems with the investigation called Operation Fast and Furious."

ADDED: I'm going to add my "Obama is like Nixon" tag. I think a lot of Americans, when they hear "executive privilege" think of Nixon. And, unfortunately for Obama, we've been hearing plenty of talk about Watergate lately, what with the 40-year anniversary of the break-in. Most notably: "Woodward and Bernstein: 40 years after Watergate, Nixon was far worse than we thought." Ironically, that was a mainstream media effort to help Obama.

But Obama has suddenly chosen to look like Nixon. It must be worth it. And without the documents, we must speculate about what is in them.

ALSO: This creates an occasion to look back and see when Presidents other than Nixon have invoked executive privilege. I'm going to rely on Wikipedia, so correct me if I'm wrong. After Nixon, the next President to invoke executive privilege was Bill Clinton, in 1998, trying to keep aides from testifying in the Lewinsky scandal. The district court judge ruled against him. Clinton also used executive privilege to negotiate the terms of his own testimony in the scandal.

George W. Bush used executive privilege a few times, as you can see at the Wikipedia link.

Obamacare might work without the individual mandate, says an "Economic Scene" NYT column...

... by Eduardo Porter, who acknowledges what would seem to be a crushing formula for the destruction of the private insurance business: If everyone can buy insurance at the same price whenever they want, people won't buy until they've got expenses that insurance will cover and that go beyond the price of the insurance, and this will cause the price of the insurance to spiral upward and fewer and fewer people will buy. It makes no sense. But Porter has an idea. Maybe that won't happen.
Yet the portrayal of Americans as pure profit-seeking machines relentlessly on the lookout for a bargain is not entirely accurate....

[T]here is plenty of evidence that other motivations influence our decisions: altruism, for instance. We like to believe we are fair and worthy. And we are willing to sacrifice some gain to fit the norms of society....
Nice generalities, but you're talking about making millions of people apportion a huge chunk of their income to pay for something that they are not getting any benefit from. (They can keep their money, pay their own health-care expenses, and start buying insurance only at the point where the benefit outweighs the cost... which is the standard way we make decision about what to buy: Does the benefit outweigh the cost?)
Social norms explain why we tip a cabdriver we will never see again, why cheaters blush when caught or why people go to the polls despite knowing their individual vote will make no difference. Government programs to help underwater homeowners have been held back for years over fear that they will encourage families who were still current with their mortgage payments to default. However, the evidence so far is that most people who can pay their mortgage do, even if they would profit from walking away.

Social norms can provide a much more powerful incentive than money. A few years ago, a handful of day care centers in Israel tried to get parents to pick up their children on time by imposing a fine for tardiness. Much to their surprise, tardiness mushroomed. The fine had somehow made it acceptable, erasing the shame parents used to feel when they were late. The fine, by contrast, was cheap.

Advocates of health reform argue that the individual mandate will create a social norm that will hold everything together. Without it, people merely have a subsidy to induce them to buy insurance. The mandate turns buying health insurance into the rule of the land, like paying taxes....
None of these examples involve getting people to suddenly start following a new norm. In the Israeli day care situation, parents were given a way to buy out of the old norm, and they did. It was worth it. (And the old norm was weak anyway.) How would you get to a new norm, especially one that expects people to ignore huge new expenses? Especially when the norm is about something a majority of the people have been trying to avoid and that comes from government norm-imposers?

Tipping the taxi driver isn't a new idea, and it doesn't come from the government. It bubbled up through the culture over a long period of time. We don't know why we feel we're supposed to do it and that feeling is enough to get us to let go of a little money. But many — not all — of us do.

How do you "create a social norm"? Surely, it takes more than passing a statute — especially a statute that barely squeaks through the legislature and that is widely denounced for years as unconstitutional. The government tried to require it, that violated our deeply treasured fundamental law, but, yeah, now I'm going to internalize the now-not-required requirement and do it by force of psychological urge to follow norms! That makes no sense.
And yet... for social norms to work, they probably need to be perceived as legitimate. 
Yeah, probably.... Actually, I don't even see how something gets to be called a "social norm" until it's been internalized psychically, which takes a lot more than perceiving it as legitimate. And what we have here is something that's perceived as illegitimate. And this is before any announcement from the Supreme Court saying the government overreached its powers.
Making the mandate work requires convincing Americans that the new health care law is not a plot to destroy the nation. Americans would have to embrace universal coverage as a desirable goal for a rich industrial society.... The Supreme Court’s decision will be beside the point.
No, it won't be. The Supreme Court decision will add to the perception that this is not a norm. And your point is that people will need to feel it is a norm. How do you get there? All you're saying is: It could work if we got there.

The if is utterly empty.

June 19, 2012

At the Garden Bench Café...


... I'll just wait around until somebody says something interesting.

"People like Obama, Bill Clinton, John Edwards, and Tony Blair can talk you into anything."

"I sort of prefer the square, stilted politicians like Romney, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Al Gore. "
To me, they seem more "real," because most normal people would not be very adept at convincing a nation of hundreds of millions that "I'm basically like you; we want the same things." Most ordinary citizens who tried to run for president would probably come off as wooden and unhip. The candidate who can connect with most people is actually unlike most people.

"Today Show Covered Benefits of MS Patients Riding Horses Same Day O'Donnell Mocked Ann Romney For It."

NBC stumbles into some bad luck as Jack Osbourne — Ozzy's son — comes out with an announcement of MS, causing some un-Romney-related coverage of the disease.

How can you possibly avoid saying the wrong thing to someone who's ill?

Instapundit links to an article called "10 things not to say to someone when they’re ill." The things are all things that an ordinary person would think of saying, like "I feel so sorry for you."

It made me want to look up a passage I remembered from David Rakoff's excellent book of essays "Half Empty." Rakoff has cancer, and he's been told the treatment will need to be the amputation of an arm and shoulder. He writes:
A friend asks if I’ve “picked out” my prosthetic yet, as though I’d have my choice of titanium-plated cyborgiana at my disposal, like some amputee Second Life World of Warcraft character. Another friend, upon hearing my news, utters an unedited, “Oh my God, that’s so depressing!” Over supper, I am asked by another, “So if it goes to the lungs, is it all over?”...

But here’s the point I want to make about the stuff people say. Unless someone looks you in the eye and hisses, “You fucking asshole, I can’t wait until you die of this,” people are really trying their best. Just like being happy and sad, you will find yourself on both sides of the equation many times over your lifetime, either saying or hearing the wrong thing. Let’s all give each other a pass, shall we?

"In the college life of Barack Obama in 1961 and 1962, as recounted by his friends and acquaintances in Honolulu, there was no Ann; there was no baby."

Writes David Maraniss, at page 171 of "Barack Obama."
In Neil Abercrombie’s crowd, the antiestablishment group that carried on a movable conversation from the Snack Bar on campus to George’s Inn and Peter Gilpin’s apartment, only Abercrombie himself could dredge up memories of Ann Dunham in 1960. By the following year, the year he was married and had a hapa son, Obama had developed another large network of friends and acquaintances on campus....
Here's what Abercrombie remembered (pp. 157-158):

"I did think of it all on my own."

Jack Andraka, age 15. Watch him get the $75,000 Intel prize...

... and don't click off before you get to the part where he explains — with brilliant clarity — what he invented. And read the article. I love the stuff about his parents:
When he was in grade school, his father, a civil engineer, bought him and his older brother a plastic model river with running water. The boys would throw all kinds of foam boats and objects down the river and see which ones would drown and how different objects would impede the flow. His parents, he says, never really answered any of the questions they had. Go figure it out for yourself, they would say. “I got really into the scientific method of developing a hypothesis and testing it and getting a result and going back to do it again.”
Do you have the nerve to treat your kids like that? Figure it out for yourself!

I love that kid... and his parents (who follow a child-rearing approach that my parents used).

At the Home Office Café...


... we're keeping busy.

(Info on the new furniture here.)

"Sometimes I’m still that little girl."

A photo meme.

Gov. Scott Walker and the University of Wisconsin announce a "self-paced, competency-based" online degree model.

"[S]tudents will be allowed to start classes anytime and earn credit for what they already know...."
“This new model for delivering higher education will help us close the skills gap at an affordable price to get Wisconsin working again,” Walker said in a press release. “As states across the country work to improve access and affordability in higher education, I am proud to support this exciting and innovative University of Wisconsin solution.”
More at this PDF.
This model promises to offer a more personalized college experience to every student in which students can begin and complete courses at any time. Competency exams can be taken from home or work to ensure flexibility and special computer software can be utilized to ensure academic honesty.

One goal is to offer students smaller course segments or “modules.” Rather than molding coursework around a set timeframe, these modules can be designed to contain only the knowledge required within a specific competency. This could benefit working adults who need to start and pause their studies because of work and personal commitments. It could also benefit highly motivated students who are able to move through course materials at a faster pace.

Courses in this new program will be based on competency, not seat time, so students can move on to the next topic when they have mastered the current material.
Competency, not seat time...

"It's something you don't see every day, a patient who arrives awake and speaking with a 3-foot-spear in his head."

A 16-year-old boy survives a fishing accident.
When the teen arrived at the hospital...
The same hospital that houses Ronald Poppo, the man whose face was partially eaten off last month.
... medical staff used rebar cutters and vise grips from the Miami-Dade fire department to cut the shaft protruding from the boy's head so that they could fit him inside a CT scan machine....

It was a stroke of luck for [Yasser] Lopez that no one panicked and attempted to remove the spear before the teen got into surgery, since doing so could have damaged his brain, Bullock added.

"The amazing thing is that the boy is able to speak a little now," Bullock told reporters. "He's saying short sentences, he's out of bed, he's able to make his needs felt."

The teen has no memory of the accident and may never regain those memories, the doctor said.
Scary X-ray at the link.  It calls to mind the famous 19th century character Phineas Gage, who survived a iron rod blown through his head. Notably, Gage experienced a dramatic personality change:
"It's reported that he became what now would be classically described as 'disinhibited' - this is a classic term for what happens to some people after damage to their frontal lobes," says John Aggleton, professor of neuroscience at Cardiff University. "So, he loses his inhibitions, both in a social and emotional context.... Difficult company, to put it mildly."

For specialists, this was a staggering revelation. For the first time, this was evidence that damage to the brain could affect our behaviour and personality....

"It alerted people to the fact that a part of the brain - the frontal lobes - that we associate with sort of planning and intellectual strategies also had this important role in emotion," says Professor Aggleton. "That raised the question how on earth are emotion and intellect linked together?"
The path of the spear through Lopez's brain is different from the rod in Gage's. I'm not attempting to speculate about what effect this new injury might have. Best wishes to young Lopez.

"With plenty of warning to viewers, the film shows what happens at an animal shelter’s last stop..."

"... a fate met by a couple of million dogs each year in the United States. A half-dozen dogs are set into a large metal box. They seem eerily resigned to this moment; no snapping, no squirming, no escape attempts. The lid is shut and sealed, and a worker twists the gas valve. The screams from inside the box are ghastly."

A description of what are probably the most harrowing minutes of the new HBO documentary "One Nation Under Dog." I say probably, because there are also scenes of dogs serving their presumably last days in cages in the shelter — with one dog frantically trying to dig his way under the gate, his paws scraping over the blood-stained concrete. And, in the first segment, covering the law of dangerous dogs, we see a young girl's detached ear and the surgery-prepped site on the side of her head where it will be reattached. By the way, the dog's owner was himself a surgeon, a man who devoted a disturbing amount of time and money to defending his various Rhodesian Ridgebacks from the neighbors they terrorized.

This is an excellent documentary that rolls out the information (and the ultimate message) in a dramatic and compelling way. Simply put, people need to be responsible with their dogs. The ending strongly promotes rescue dogs, and I learned something about where rescue dogs come from. I had thought that it was mostly sick or elderly people getting in touch with the rescue folks and sorrowfully surrendering their beloved pets. Apparently not!

"Most voters don’t think the government is aggressive enough in deporting illegal immigrants but..."

"... agree with President Obama’s decision to allow young people brought here illegally who meet certain criteria to avoid deportation."
... 71% think someone brought to this country illegally when they were under 16 should be allowed to apply for a work permit rather than be deported if they have no criminal record, have graduated from high school or have served in the military. Twenty percent (20%) believe they should be deported anyway. Ten percent (10%) are not sure.

MSNBC takes Romney's "WaWa" remark out of context for the purpose of mockery.

Shame on Andrea Mitchell and Chris Cillizza for their clown work in this travesty of journalism.

You've got to watch the clip, knowing how completely out of context it is. Look at the bullshit blank disbelief mugging they do for the camera. How embarrassing!

Here's something else out of context:
Now I don't need no WaWa
And I know how sweet life can be
So I get myself free... of WaWa
I don't need no WaWa
IN THE COMMENTS: t-man said:
Wawa is the best convenience store chain in the country!...

Also, it isn't WaWa, that would be ridiculous. It is named after the town of Wawa, Pennsylvania.
Yes, there's no internal capital W. I  checked the company's website. I was carrying over the error made a the WasHington PoSt website.

ADDED: Rush Limbaugh is opening his show today with this story. MSNBC is doing it again, he says, connecting it to the doctoring of George Zimmerman's 911 call. "It was blatant and they got caught... and now everybody is ridiculing them."

"The Democratic Party has a good story to tell, but they don’t know how to tell it."

Says Robert Redford. Ironically, he is telling the story that Democrats keep telling: that they have a good story to tell, but they don’t know how to tell it.

I don't think that is a good story. If only we were better propagandists! It's the soothing, mind-numbing story that George Lakoff has been telling them for years.

"Ann suggests that the Supreme Court striking down the law might help Obama's political fortunes."

"Glenn [Loury] disputes this, while observing that conservatives have certainly benefited over the years from the Court's pro-abortion rulings. They discuss the uproar over Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren's Native American ancestry, and, invoking the career of Justice Clarence Thomas, debate the politics of affirmative action. Responding to the failed attempt to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Ann thinks her formerly blue state is turning redder by the day. Glenn defends and Ann criticizes efforts to promote public employment during this recession."

Here's the whole 40-minute discussion:

IN THE COMMENTS: Chip S. said:
I was surprised that Loury defended Warren so much.

His career exemplifies what's best about affirmative action: Making an extra effort to find people with potential who would otherwise be overlooked.

Hers exemplifies the worst aspects of affirmative action: A cynical numbers game that doesn't benefit anyone whose light is actually hidden under a bushel.
As Glenn tells his own story — growing up poor on the south side of Chicago — he would be someone a law school admissions committee would pick out for multiple factors and not a simple race-balancing, box-checking approach to affirmative action. And unlike Elizabeth Warren and other individuals with a claim to some Native American ancestry, Glenn does not have the power to check and uncheck the box depending on whether or not an advantage is available. He can't be creative about his conception of himself when it comes to race.

The David Maraniss bio of Obama is finally available.

After all the talk, you can now buy it: here. I just did. Finally, I can pull things out of it myself.

Meanwhile, here's another one of the advance stories: "9 Tall Tales From Barack Obama's Memoir." That's from BuzzFeed. It's easy to read and has pictures. Example of BuzzFeed's idea of a "tall tale":
5. Obama wrote that he broke up with his New York girlfriend in part because she was white. But his next girlfriend, an anthropologist in Chicago, was also white.
Is that a tall tale? You break up with someone who has a characteristic that troubles you, and then you find yourself drawn to someone else with the same characteristic. Isn't that a perfectly banal pattern for sexual relationships — e.g., the woman who leaves an abusive relationship and then gets into another abusive relationship?
6. Obama cuts out two white college roommates entirely.
A memoir was selective. Told the interesting parts/the parts that fit the template. That's not a tall tale. Obama's book isn't called "Everything About Me, So Far." It's called "Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance." It openly advertises its limited theme.
7. Obama wrote about his high school friends as an alienated, ne'er-do-well "club of disaffection." In fact, most members of the "Choom Gang" were "decent students and athletes" who went on to successful careers.
Hello? Back in those days, being smart + alienated was the norm. Check out some books and movies from that era.
9. In his memoir, Obama mentions he missed out on playing time in high school basketball because he coach preferred players who "play like white boys do." In fact, Obama had to work hard just to make the team, and race had nothing to do with it.
The willful misunderstanding there is obvious to me, and I don't even know much about basketball and the styles of playing it. But here's the relevant passage from Obama's book. Obama's high school friend "Ray" is talking first:
“Well what? Listen, why don’t you get more playing time on the basketball team, huh? At least two guys ahead of you ain’t nothing, and you know it, and they know it. I seen you tear ’em up on the playground, no contest. Why wasn’t I starting on the football squad this season, no matter how many passes the other guy dropped? Tell me we wouldn’t be treated different if we was white. Or Japanese. Or Hawaiian. Or fucking Eskimo.”

“That’s not what I’m saying.”

“So what are you saying?”

“All right, here’s what I’m saying. I’m saying, yeah, it’s harder to get dates because there aren’t any black girls around here. But that don’t make the girls that are here all racist. Maybe they just want somebody that looks like their daddy, or their brother, or whatever, and we ain’t it. I’m saying yeah, I might not get the breaks on the team that some guys get, but they play like white boys do, and that’s the style the coach likes to play, and they’re winning the way they play. I don’t play that way.

“As for your greasy-mouthed self,” I added, reaching for the last of his fries, “I’m saying the coaches may not like you ’cause you’re a smart-assed black man, but it might help if you stopped eating all them fries you eat, making you look six months pregnant. That’s what I’m saying.” “Man, I don’t know why you making excuses for these folks.” Ray got up and crumpled his trash into a tight ball. “Let’s get out of here. Your shit’s getting way too complicated for me.”
In context, you can see that Obama is doing the opposite of racial grievance.

Okay, so I'm officially sick of the bullshit cherry-picking from the David Maraniss bio. I'm glad I finally have the original source to look at on my own. (And I know I'm also part of the problem because I rewarded BuzzFeed with a link. One can try to play the game of blogging in an abstemious, overly pure way, but I don't play that way.)

June 18, 2012

"The world will not look kindly on people who put their kids into public school."

Writes Penelope Trunk (in a post titled "Blueprint for a Woman’s Life," which she wrote last August but keeps in her sidebar under the heading "Big Ideas"):
We all know that learning is best when it’s customized to the child and we all know that public schools are not able to do that effectively. And the truly game-changing private schools cost $40,000 a year.

It’s clear is that homeschooled kids will rule the world when Generation Z enters the workplace. So figure out a way to alleviate mommy guilt by homeschooling your kids to get them on that path. You don’t have to do the teaching yourself. You can pay someone. But you need to get your kids out of a system that everyone knows does not work. (Note: I just realized this. This month. And last week, I decided: I’m taking my kids out of school.)
It was interesting reading that right after reading this HuffPo piece by George Lakoff (and a co-author) called "The Wisconsin Blues." The main point is that progressives need better messaging. The conservatives always manage to put things in terms that resonate with people better, don't you know? Anyway, in his effort to improve left-wing propaganda, Lakoff has this about public schools (which I feel like calling government schools):
[D]emocracy begins with citizens caring about one another and acting responsibly both for oneself and others. The mechanism by which this is achieved is The Public, through which the government provides resources that make private life and private enterprise possible: roads, bridges and sewers, public education, a justice system, clean water and air, pure food, systems for information, energy and transportation, and protection both for and from the corporate world. No one makes it on his or her own. Private life and private enterprise are not possible without The Public. Freedom does not exist without The Public....

Public schools are essential to opportunity... They are also essential to democracy, since democracy requires an educated citizenry at large, as well as trained professionals in every community. Without education of the public, there can be no freedom.

At issue is the future of progressive morality, democracy, freedom, and every aspect of the Public -- and hence the viability of private life and private enterprise in America on a mass scale. The conservative goal is to impose rule by conservative morality on the entire country, and beyond. Eliminating unions and public education are just steps along the way. Only progressive moral force can stop them.

"Generic Congressional Ballot: Republicans 45%, Democrats 38%."

A Rasmussen poll of likely voters.
Republicans have consistently held a modest advantage over Democrats on the Generic Congressional Ballot since June 2009....

Democrats enjoyed a seven-point advantage on the Generic Congressional Ballot when Barack Obama took office as president in January 2009....

"Obama picks John Kerry to play Romney in mock debate rehearsals."

That seems like a terrible idea!
“There is no one that has more experience or understanding of the presidential debate process than John Kerry,” said David Axelrod, Obama’s chief strategist. “He’s an expert debater who has a fundamental mastery of a wide range of issues, including Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts. He’s the obvious choice.”
Who should he have picked? And who should Romney pick to play Obama? I asked that second question out loud and Meade said "Rob Portman!" I see that Portman played Obama for John McCain. (And Portman played Lieberman for Dick Cheney in 2000.)

"When people think about environmental sustainability, they immediately focus on population."

"Actually, when it comes down to it — it's not how many mouths there are to feed, it's how much flesh there is on the planet."
It's sort of creepy to think of the planet as giant, collected mass of flesh, but... [t]he more you weigh, the more calories you need to move around and the more resources you use up in general. So, in that respect, the fatter you are, the more you tax the planet....
I've been on this topic for years, actually. Read my classic post: "If you really believed in global warming, you would turn off your air conditioning," which has a list of things people would do if they were serious about the environmentalism they preach. #1 is "Your weight should be at the low end of normal, indicating that you are not overconsuming the products of agriculture."

Roger Clemens — not guilty.

The charge was perjury — in telling Congress that he'd never used steroids or human growth hormone.
It was a major, especially painful, defeat for the government in its second failed attempt at convicting a player whose legal problems highlighted baseball’s continuing drug woes....

Last spring, Clemens’s initial trial ended in a mistrial on only the second day of testimony when prosecutors bungled by showing the jury inadmissible evidence. Critics said the prosecution of an athlete like Clemens — a seven-time Cy Young Award winner — was a waste of government time and money, but the United States attorney’s office in Washington pressed forward anyway.

This time, the trial lasted much longer. The jurors heard from 46 witnesses over more than eight weeks....

"Cosmo remains the ne plus ultra of usually implausible, occasionally unfathomable, and invariably hilarious sexy tips..."

... so here are the 44 most ridiculous ones.

Did I ever tell you about the job I had (before I went to law school) reading magazines? We produced a monthly report for advertisers that required us to categorize every article in about 100 magazines. I read a lot of magazines circa 1974. Cosmo was nowhere near as explicit about sex back then, but it was always its own special world of implausible pleasure. We spent many hours reading things out loud to each other and cracking up (an activity that's kind of like blogging).

Of these 44, I'm not sure what's most ridiculous because there's a cumulative effect. But I think #37 made me laugh the most:
"Give him a beer facial - the combination of the egg white and the yeast in the hops hydrates and improves skin elasticity... but you can just tell him that your lips can't resist his delicious, beer-flavored face."
I would have laughed more, but the idea of salmonella upsets me.

Freedom Chair.

May I recommend a great work chair? I know a lot of people like Aeron Chairs, but they don't work for me because I sit in a half-lotus position much of the time, so I don't like the hard edge of the seat. And I really wanted something with a headrest. I have a big head, and it needs some rest. Anyway, the Freedom Chair is nice, it adjusts itself when you lean back into it.

We had it delivered today along with a second motorized sit-stand deskHere's my post from a year ago demonstrating the first motorized desk. Obviously, I loved it and Meade was envious, so we now have side-by-side motorized desks in our living space looking out at the old oak tree.

"I'll agree not to mention your racist agenda if you'll agree not to mention my incompetence."

1 of 2 cartoons about Eric Holder and Fast and Furious (with 2 different views of who's guilty of playing racial politics).

Both cartoons do great — and different — caricatures of Holder.

It's the new "Harry Potter."

For ladies.

"Happy father's day - or as they call it in my family, happy brother-in-law's day."

A tweet, from Woody Allen's son Ronan Farrow.
The message was then retweeted by Allen's ex-wife Mia Farrow, who added the word: 'Boom'
Fathers should not marry their daughters. That's clear. But should moms retweet?

200 years ago today, who won the War of 1812?

We like to think we did, but...
[F]or some Canadians, the war is a seminal conflict and its commemoration an important event. Richard Merritt remembers being fed cookies and tales of Canadian heroics in 1812 by "elderly aunts" in Niagara-on-the-Lake, next to Fort George....

Presentation boards inside a former Fort George barrack aim to tell the history from all perspectives. But as he read of America's "overwhelming" numerical advantage and its "shameful retreat" from Fort George, Jim Auker, from Elkhart, Ind., thought: "There's a dig." The presentation's conclusion: "The United States did not succeed in conquering Canada or achieve the 'final expulsion of England from the American continent'."

"I felt most of the comments that people posted [on Althouse] were fair and were constructive and fair criticisms. After all, I did put myself out there."

Says Adam Schabow, whom we talked about here and here, and who calls this blog "a conservative but reasonably fair, good-natured website."

(The quote, at the first link, begins at about 3 minutes.)

Schabow is the guy with the YouTube series "Video a Day Until the Walker Recall," — which included a song called "The War Against Milwaukee and Madison —  and who, on recall election night, emoted lengthily on camera, saying things like: "The end of the U.S.A. as we know it just happened... democracy died tonight." [UPDATE: Sorry, I misread my own old post. Another guy said the "democracy died" quote. Schabow's election night video was sad, but different.]

I think we were pretty nice to Schabow. Is "lambasted" fair? In the new video, he goes on to talk about the radio talk-show guy Charlie Sykes directing people to his video and some truly mean homophobic-style comments that he got because of that. Thanks for not connecting my blog to that kind of thing.

Whatever happened to movie stars?

More evidence of extinction.

"Forced to Early Social Security, Unemployed Pay a Steep Price."

This is a front-page NYT story that seems like it will speak generally about many people choosing early retirement over continuing to search for employment, but it concentrates on one woman, which — for me, least — invites the reader to examine and critique this one woman's choices. Unless she represents most people who go the early-retirement route, the headline is meaningless.

Clare Keany has chosen to retire at age 62 in Palm Springs, California on $1,082 a month in Social Security. An immigrant from Britain, she worked for "nearly three decades" in the United States and was earning $64,000 a year when she lost her job. And she blew "the last of her savings" on a $19,000 mobile home and proceeds to pay $336 a month to park it in Palm Springs.

We're told she's youthful and energetic and doesn't like "living like this." But she was "Forced...."

I don't want to be too critical of this one individual. My problem is with the NYT. I know this is one way they write articles, and I myself have been the one woman in a NYT article. But what do we know when we know what happened to one person?

June 17, 2012

Roberto Unger — one of Obama's former lawprofs — says Obama "must be defeated" because he's not left-wing enough.

This strikes me as typical leftier-than-thou lawprofism, but Instapundit gibes "The funny thing is, Unger’s a big lefty but most of his list of complaints could pretty much come from a Tea Partier."

I'm not going to resolve that discrepancy. I'm just going to say that the video of Unger (at the first link) is incredibly annoying. Better to read the list of complaints.

You guys fell into the "vagina" trap!

Gotcha! Once again. Right between the legs! Eve Ensler flies in for the occasion.

"We have to fight the dangerous streams in culture, the consumerism and narcissism and me-ism that erode the borders of our moral culture."

"We can’t put shallow celebrity before core decency. We have to have a deeper faith in the human spirit. As they say, he who has the heart to help has the right to complain."

Said Cory Booker, interviewed by Maureen Dowd (because her column today is about the decline of character and because Booker once ran into a burning house to save a neighbor).

"Rodney King — the man who was at the center of the infamous Los Angeles riots — was found dead this morning"... at the bottom of a pool.

"He was 47."

"I just want to say, you know, can we, can we all get along? Can we, can we get along? Um, can we stop making it, making it all before, for the older people and the, and the kids..."

At the Father's Day Café...

Richard Althouse

... don't you love your dad?

"If only [racial] change were as swift and simple as a child’s dance recital."

Here's a second article about race giving central, front-page attention on the NYT website this morning. (The previous post discusses the first.)

Reaching out longingly to female readers, this article features a picture of adorable kindergarten girls in pink tutus and white tutus... and — mostly — nonwhite skin. It's a performing arts magnet school, and the serious topic of the article is the federal grant program, dating back to the 1980s, that supposedly helps with racial integration.
The idea was to create a themed curriculum that attracted children from outside a school’s immediate neighborhood to reduce the isolation of one minority group....
About 58 percent of the students in District 14 public schools are Hispanic, 26 percent are black, 12 percent are white and 3 percent are Asian, according to the Education Department. At each of these four elementary magnet schools, Hispanic students represent more than 70 percent of the population.
These are the wrong percentages, for some reason that is supposed to be obvious to you, and the promise of putting their little girls in tutus is intended to lure white parents into doing what the government deems valuable, diluting the minority population. We are assured that "decades of research studies show that children perform better in integrated schools," and then there's much talk about the magnet schools hitting academic targets. But the tutu school in the photo is under investigation for cheating