September 29, 2012

"[M]ale DNA — likely left over from pregnancy with a male fetus — can persist in a woman’s brain throughout her life."

"Although the biological impact of this foreign DNA is unclear, the study also found that women with more male DNA in their brains were less likely to have suffered from Alzheimer’s disease...."

"12 Proposed U.S. States That Didn’t Make the Cut."

Including Superior.

"[W]hen libertarians reacted to moral dilemmas and in other tests, they displayed less emotion..."

"... less empathy and less disgust than either conservatives or liberals."
They appeared to use "cold" calculation to reach utilitarian conclusions about whether (for instance) to save lives by sacrificing fewer lives. They reached correct, rather than intuitive, answers to math and logic problems, and they enjoyed "effortful and thoughtful cognitive tasks" more than others do.
The researchers found that libertarians had the most "masculine" psychological profile, while liberals had the most feminine, and these results held up even when they examined each gender separately, which "may explain why libertarianism appeals to men more than women."

CBS distorts what Ann Romney said about Mitt Romney's "mental well-being."

The headline at CBS is:
Ann Romney: If elected, "mental well-being" Mitt's biggest challenge
She was asked what her "biggest worry is if her husband does in fact become President." I got the quote from the video here at 6:14, where you can see that the inquiry is about Ann Romney's feelings. She answers:
"I think my biggest concern, obviously, would just be for his mental well-being. I have all the confidence in the world in his ability, in his decisiveness and his leadership skills, in his understanding of the economy, in his understanding of what's missing right now in the economy - you know, the pieces that are missing to get this jump-started.... So for me I think it would just be the emotional part of it."
She was asked about her worry, not what his biggest challenge would be. She didn't say he was mentally challenged. She expressed confidence in his ability to do everything, and then characterized herself as caring for his emotions, which is the traditional wifely role. To present that as some sort of secret revelation of emotional problems is just wrong.

Did you watch the Tammy and Tommy debate?

I did, and one of the things I said out loud while watching it was: "I'm glad I didn't blog that I was going to live-blog this." I had, however, blogged to predict that it would be boring, which it mostly was.

We did get some laughs, especially when Tommy said "I built Wisconsin," which he later modifed to "We built Wisconsin." I lost count of the number of times he said he was governor "for 14 years," which was nearly always followed by the statement that he lowered "taxes 91 times," which tied to Tammy having no "record to run on" and being "a taxer and a spender." Those were his talking points.

"We don't begrudge Ms. Warren's handsome earnings or her stands on legal principle..."

"... even if those principles do happen to underscore the complex nature of both the law and modern economy."
But when she talks about "the millionaires and billionaires" who supposedly "wrecked our economy" and "still strut around Congress, no shame, demanding favors, and acting like we should thank them"—as she put it at the Charlotte convention—perhaps she ought to recall her own legal strutting.

By the way, Harvard requires its professors to report any extracurricular consulting activities, but Ms. Warren is refusing to disclose this list so voters can decide for themselves if she's really a handmaid to the plutocrats disguised as Robin Hood through November 6. It would be instructive to learn what other corporations, and maybe even a billionaire, have had her on their payrolls.

"Ban all performative weddings, ban all crazy expenditures... Ban the marriage pages in The New York Times."

"Ban those things that turn otherwise sensible people to start buying into that fantasy," says Virginia Rutter — great name — a professor of — take a guess — sociology, quoted in a NYT "Fashion and Style" piece, written by Matt Richtel, who's mostly airing his own "whimsical" notion that marriage could be a 20-year renewable contract.

Richtel quotes another a professor of — take a guess — sociology, Pepper Schwartz — great name — saying, “We’re remarkably not innovative about marriage even though almost all the environmental conditions, writ large, have changed... We haven’t scrutinized it. We’ve been picking at it like a scab, and it’s not going to heal that way.”

But wouldn't being innovative be picking at it? What's Pepper planning to do to this scab? Sociology professors... can we just pick at them?

As to Professor Rutter and her objection to "performative weddings"... well, I'm more concerned about her attraction to the word "ban"... she decries emotionality while sounding utterly emotional. And who are these "otherwise sensible people"? Human beings get involved in all sorts of ideas and practices entailing love and beauty and religion and hope and sex and money. There's no stripping away of all that. It is humanity itself, not a fantasy (or a scab!).

"Why are you making this about race?"

Elspeth Reeve answers a question she's been asked after her "How Racist Is the Obama Phone Video?," which I linked, approvingly, yesterday.
This is a he-who-smelt-it-dealt-it argument. Or, as Stephen Colbert's persona likes to say, "I don't see race." This line of argument wants to change the subject to something, anything other than race. Hey, what about free phones?! Patterico at Patterico's Pontifications tried defending the video, saying, "The above video is hilarious. It is representative of a group of Obama voters who feel entitled to handouts from government. It does not matter what the color of the speaker is. It’s news... Conservatives should not have to shy away from such amusing examples of entitlement mentality simply because the particular proponent of that mentality happens to be black." This is intellectually dishonest, at best. We await Patterico delving into the minutiae of the Universal Service Fund. Until then, it's just "hilarious." Specifically, it's hilarious because it uses one person to portray a huge group of people in a negative way is. The point of the video -- and the reason Drudge and Limbaugh hyped it -- is to say, this is what Obama voters look like: black, poor, stupid, and after your money. The video's subject wasn't picked out because she "happens to be black," she was picked out because she is black. Lee Atwater, strategist for Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, explained how this works way back in 1981 -- better to talk about cutting taxes and bussing, because it's "a hell of a lot more abstract than 'Ni***r, ni***r.'" Of course, this Internet meme isn't all that abstract.
If it's insufficiently abstract, it won't work. Our conscious anti-racism filters may keep the material from reaching us. In fact, as I said in my post yesterday, what I feel happening to me emotionally — and what I'm guessing may happen to other middle-of-the-road types like me — is repulsion away from the Romney side. It's not Romney's fault, he can't control what his supporters say in their efforts to promote him, but he needs to be a more dominant figure in his own campaign. Voters need to associate him with a clear and compelling message that doesn't feel connected to this racial material coming from other sources.

"Reading that Althouse thing about the 'fear' of black people, I mean, who 'fears' black people because of that phone clip?"

"Who 'fears' black folks, period? Or gays? Everything you hear these days is about fears and phobia and hate. I usually dismiss it as rhetoric, but I am starting to wonder if that isn’t what is motivating a great deal of the citizens of this country. Maybe they really are afraid of their own shadow and hate the things that scare them."

So says commenter B Moe over in the comments to an open thread at Protein Wisdom — which I noticed because I saw traffic coming from there because, unlike the Freepers, at least they open up the pathway so readers can see the object of their criticism for themselves.

And then McGehee says:

"I used to enjoy reading Althouse's blog because she wrote about some interesting topics, but this blatant display of Liberal emotionalism, racism..."

"... and lack of self-awareness combined with a sickening display of sanctimony is disturbing. It's as if you found out a good friend is secretly a child molester."

There's a denouncement of me over at Free Republic, talking about my post "Just How Racist Is the 'Obama Phone' Video?," notably not linking to my post, just characterizing it, as they curl up into to their people-who-see-racism-are-racists cocoon.

Obama 48%, Romney 46%.

Rasmussen tracking poll. With "leaners": Obama 49%, Romney 47%.

Swing state tracking poll: Obama 47%, Romney 45%.

September 28, 2012

"Just How Racist Is the 'Obama Phone' Video?"

Elspeth Reeve has good analysis at the Atlantic Wire. I had a big problem with Rush Limbaugh playing this clip over and over on his show yesterday. There's some kind of political point to be be made about they way some people become dependent on government or unrealistic about what government can or should do, but there's an emotional level, below the rational mind, that this video/audio can reach, and when someone repeatedly plays it, as Rush did, it seems as though he's trying to stir up racial fears.

Decent people whose rational minds would reject explicit racial material can be emotionally manipulated. They get their fears stirred up. If this is what Romney supporters think they need to do to get their man elected, I hope they fail. And, frankly, I think they will fail. If people in the middle — like me — get the impression that fear of black people is supposed to be the reason to vote for Romney, we're going to vote for Obama. That's the America I believe in. I think I'm right about that.

"We really messed up, and we are all really sorry. That didn’t belong on TV."

Shep Smith, after Fox News shows a man shoot himself in the head.
"Sometimes we see a lot of things that we don’t let get to you – because it’s not time appropriate, it’s insensitive, and it’s just wrong. And that was wrong."


Sorry about the downage. But I got some fabulous help and we are back.

Talk about anything you want in the comments... including how desperate you felt when the blog was semi-inaccessible and how cool it is for things to flow smoothly. On the blog, I mean. And everywhere!

Andrew Sullivan denies that there was any anti-Semitic meaning...

... when he wrote:
The usual would-be policeman of Washington's discourse on all things to do with Israel, Jeffrey Goldberg, takes a break from the Jewish holidays to consign yet another member of the thinking classes to the ranks of "something much darker."
... which Goldberg called a "low blow" 8 days ago. Today, Sullivan is all "apologies if I was misunderstood." And he denies membership in "the thought-police" while maintaining the presumption that Goldberg belongs:
... I will occasionally note homophobia - but usually of the obvious, fanatical, religious kind, not parsing metaphors of fellow columnists for "dog-whistles" and "code". And I have a long record of exactly the same for anti-Semitism....

...I have long, relentlessly lambasted the main gay rights lobby, HRC, while Goldblog is always anti-anti-AIPAC, just as he is always anti-anti-settlements.

... Let me just say that when Goldblog treats John Mearsheimer, Stephen Walt, Kenneth Waltz, Phil Weiss, or Daniel Larison in the same way I treat my opponents on the issue of marriage rights, I will agree that he is not a member of the thought-police....
By the way, Goldberg calls himself "Goldblog," so that's not a dog-whistle (or telling typo).

Tammy vs. Tommy.

Debate tonight. 8 Central Time.

The first of 3 debates. I don't know if we can take it. I expect it to be boring, but you never know.

"With Republicans everywhere wondering what has happened to the Mitt Romney campaign..."

"... people who know the candidate personally and professionally offer a simple explanation: It’s the candidate himself."

ADDED: The mainstream media are using a tactic reminiscent of grade school, alpha kids spreading the idea nobody likes this one kid. Not even for any particular reason. Just: Ew, nobody likes him. Hoping to influence the beta kids. Probably succeeding!

Professor Jacobson drops a "bombshell" on Elizabeth Warren.

And I'm only quoting the word "bombshell" because it's from someone who's been defending Warren from Jacobson's attack: "With this bombshell, I would no longer view the case against her as weak."

"If you don't think becoming a lawyer is the correct life choice for anyone ever, you have probably snorted, laughed..."

"... and said the following things to a lawyer-in-training: that I will become a professional liar, that I will have to sleep my way into a partnership or a good job or a higher salary because I am a woman, that I will have to wear suits 24/7, that my life won't really be like the show Suits even though I pray to the Jew god for that daily (but who doesn't want to work with Harvey Specter?!!), that I will hate my life and become an alcoholic and/or kill myself one day, and that I will make six-figures or be forced to work as volunteer in public interest law."

Some scribbling I read at XOJane because Above the Law said: "A tipster writes: 'PLEASE address this trash pile of an article… I’m begging you.' Well, here you go."

"Oops — could Penguin be S.O.L., thanks to the S.O.L.?"

"This is why you shouldn’t sue a Yale-trained litigatrix who used to work at Boies Schiller."

"Little girls are packing heat in support of Paul Ryan..."

"... after he took flak for buying his daughter hunting gear."

ADDED: Here's another guns and fathers story in the news today:
A woman who was alone in the house believed someone was breaking in and called [Jeffrey Giuliano], who lives next door, and he grabbed a gun and went outside to investigate, police said.
The father confronted someone wearing a black ski mask and black clothing and then fired his gun when the person went at him with a shiny weapon in his hand, police said.
The gunshot was fatal, and under the mask was the face of Giuliano's 15-year-old son Tyler.

Madison, where the powerful bike lobby pushes for policies that will get 20% of workers commuting by bike...

... bicycle commuting dropped to only 4.69% in 2011. The previous year it was 6.03%.

The bike lobby folks disparage the survey, which asked people how they got to work in the previous week. Maybe the question was asked after a week of nasty weather. Of course, here in Wisconsin, it's frequently too cold or rainy for anyone other than a hardcore bicyclist.
The number of people walking (8.38 percent) and using a motorcycle (0.15 percent) to get to work edged down slightly. The number who said they took public transportation to work (8.79 percent) inched up, and those who drove to work alone rose to 65.46 percent from 63.42 percent.
This is America, people. We drive. We have a lifestyle built on cars. Do you mind?
Arthur Ross, Madison's pedestrian-bicycle coordinator, could not be reached Thursday for comment, but data from the city paint a picture of steady growth for bike commuters. According to a 2011 report by the city's traffic engineering department, the annual average volume on the John Nolen Drive and Brittingham Park bike paths has steadily climbed since 1987, when an average of 400 bikes per day used the paths. In 2011, the number, according to the bike counts, had more than doubled to about 975 bikes per day.
Yes, but are these people biking to work? Or are we talking about people who bike for exercise/pleasure on weekends and off hours, mostly concentrated in the pleasantest times of the year? I know I bike those paths a lot, but not as a method of commuting.

Meanwhile the 20% goal lives on, with influential politicos hyping expensive improvements (or supposed improvements) as if people will shift to bicycle commuting. I find it amusing that my liberal city puts so much tax money into amenities that serve, overwhelmingly, its white male population.

"The Wisconsin Supreme Court said Thursday it wouldn't hear challenges to the state's voter ID law until an appeals court hears the cases..."

"... a setback for Republicans who wanted voters to have to show a photo ID to vote in November's election."

"Surgeons removed the rear quarter of Jamie Hilton's skull and placed in her abdomen..."

"... so that the bone would remain sterile and nourished as her brain swelling subsided."

So much for the hot, passionate artist boyfriend type.

Last November we were talking about a nicely done Katy Perry video called "The One That Got Away." Remember?
Don't most rich old ladies regret marrying the dull bastard who got them all their stuff and wish they'd spent their lives with the hot, passionate artist who ran off that one night when they'd had that big fight?

Don't ask me. That's not what I did with my life, but it's a fine old cultural meme — that the wives of rich men are so unhappy and that they wish they'd gone down the other road, the one with all that hot sex and emotional turbulence — and it's pithily realized in Katy Perry's new video "The One That Got Away." (I'm watching this because my son Chris emailed me to say: "I'm not generally a Katy Perry fan, but I think this new video is great and very emotionally effective.")
The One she was talking about was her real-life lost love Johnny Lewis. He's dead now, after a bizarre murderous incident:
Neighbours called police after hearing a woman screaming and witnessing Lewis attack two men with a piece of wood out the front of Davis' property, where the actor was understood to be renting a room.

The other victims - a neighbour and a handyman - were badly beaten after the tussle, which lasted between 3-4 minutes and began when Lewis tried to break into the neighbour's home, according to TMZ.

The men Lewis fought with told officers he showed 'super-human strength' and was 'phenomenally strong.' In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, the neighbour said Lewis was hardly deterred by the blows he took, that it was like 'hitting him with a fly swatter.'

Lewis, who dated Perry in 2006 and regularly graced the red carpet with the pop star, then apparently climbed onto the roof. It is unclear whether Lewis jumped or fell to his death.
He got away.

September 27, 2012

"New Justice Department Documents Show Huge Increase in Warrantless Electronic Surveillance."

The ACLU reports on "documents, handed over by the government only after months of litigation."

"Feds Arrest Producer Of Controversial Anti-Islam Film On Probation Violation Charge."

"Investigators have not yet provided details about how Nakoula allegedly violated probation, but it seems clear that his involvement in the 'Innocence of Muslim' production is central to the government's new charge."

At the Garlic Harvest Café...


... everything is named and labeled.

"A definitive timeline of administration statements on the Libya attack."

Let's look at all the statements, in order. On the 12th, we were told that what happened in Libya was "clearly a complex attack." On the 13th, there was the muddying swirl about "protests taking place in different countries across the world that are responding to the movie that has circulated on the Internet." Note that doesn't specify the murder of the ambassador in Libya.

Then, on the 16th, we heard Susan E. Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, stolidly deliver the talking points on "Face the Nation":
“Based on the best information we have to date ... it began spontaneously...
What's the scope of "it"?
... in Benghazi as a reaction to what had transpired some hours earlier in Cairo, where, of course, as you know, there was a violent protest outside of our embassy sparked by this hateful video. But soon after that spontaneous protest began outside of our consulate in Benghazi, we believe that it looks like extremist elements, individuals, joined in that effort with heavy weapons of the sort that are, unfortunately, readily now available in Libya post-revolution. And that it spun from there into something much, much more violent.... We do not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this was premeditated or preplanned.”
So there first thing that happened was the video-related protests, and then others joined in, but we don't know whether they did that spur of the moment or if it was planned. "We do not have information" about those"extremist elements, individuals," but we do have "the best information" about things beginning spontaneously.

On the 20th, Jay Carney was saying "It is, I think, self-evident that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack," but claiming a lack of info on whether it was "a significantly preplanned attack" and asserting however much it might have been preplanned — what does "pre-" add to "planned"? — it was still "opportunism, taking advantage of and exploiting what was happening as a result of reaction to the video that was found to be offensive." Note the clever merger of the planned attack with the cover provided by the offense taken at the video.

Obama kept stressing the video and avoiding saying "terrorism," though Hillary Clinton called it terrorism on the 21st. Confronted with her statement on the 25th, Obama would only say we're "still doing an investigation, and "it wasn’t just a mob action." That was on "The View."

Yesterday, Carney was asked whether "there any reason why the President did not — he was asked point-blank in The View interview, is this a terrorist attack, yes or no?  Is there any reason why he didn’t say yes?" Jeez, "The View" was too tough. Carney said:
“He answered the question that he was asked, and there's no reason that he chose the words he did beyond trying to provide a full explanation of his views and his assessment that we need to await further information that the investigation will uncover.  But it is certainly the case that it is our view as an administration, the President’s view, that it was a terrorist attack.”
It's our view and his view, but he wouldn't say it on "The View."

"Yes, I’m a baptized Sikh woman with facial hair."

"Yes, I realize that my gender is often confused and I look different than most women. However, baptized Sikhs believe in the sacredness of this body — it is a gift that has been given to us by the Divine Being (which is genderless, actually) and, must keep it intact as a submission to the divine will."

More debate — at the University of Wisconsin — about affirmative action.

You might remember last September, there was a huge crowd for a debate about affirmative action...
As Meade and I walked home, I called the students "admirable" for not getting out of hand and shouting down the speakers, and Meade made fun of my low standard. I said, "It's Wisconsin. Kudos for not rioting."
Earlier in the day, there was an outbreak of something that either was or was not violence, and students — mostly undergrad, not law students — were passionate but reasonably controlled at the debate later on. (Here's video I shot and edited.)

Tonight's debate, focusing on the pending Supreme Court case Texas v. Fisher, should be a more modest event — at the law school at 6:15. My colleague Larry Church will once again take the pro side on affirmative action, but he's got a different sparring partner, lawprof Rick Esenberg. Last year, the anti-affirmative action side was taken by Roger Clegg, president of the Center for Equal Opportunity, which was mounting an attack on the admissions policies at the University of Wisconsin. Fisher is about undergraduate admissions at the University of Texas.

Ahmadinejad's underlings in Manhattan go shopping at Payless, Costco, Walgreens and Duane Reade.

They love America... in the form of discount stores:
The two-term president was criticized at home for bringing an estimated 140 people along for his final UN speech as Iran’s leader.

“Many . . . have only traveled there for a picnic,” sniped Mansour Haghighatpour, deputy head of the parliamentary committee on national security.

The delegation insider disagreed, saying the guests wanted no part of jewelry stores, boutiques or high-end retailers — like the plush Lord & Taylor directly across Fifth Ave. from the Payless.

Instead, they preferred any drugstore where they could stock up on over-the-counter medication....

The cut-rate shopping sprees come despite an assortment of landmarks within walking distance of the hotel: Central Park, Rockefeller Center and Carnegie Hall... [But] the Iranian visitors did make sightseeing trips to one unlikely destination: The Statue of Liberty.
Unlikely? Really? Stores with shelves and shelves of cheap shoes and cheap Tylenol are a big thrill. Maybe not for you, but if it is for them, that says something about the liberty we take for granted.

"Romney’s tongue-tied eloquence."

Fareed Zakaria is back, back to kick Romney in the mouth, back from exile, presumably now purged of his plagiarism sins. Let's see how eloquent his eloquence critique is:
As President Obama has surged in the polls, Republicans have been quick to identify the problem: Mitt Romney. Peggy Noonan eloquently voiced what many conservatives believe when she said that Romney’s campaign has been a “rolling calamity.” Others have been equally critical of his candidacy. And yet, shouldn’t it puzzle us that Romney is so “incompetent” (also from Noonan), given his deserved reputation for, well, competence? He founded one of this country’s most successful financial firms, turned around the flailing Salt Lake City Olympics and was a successful governor. How did he get so clumsy so fast?
Rasmussen has the candidates locked in a tie. They're 46/46 again today, same as yesterday, and pretty much the same for the past week.  But if you want to find Obama surging, there are polls to satisfy your urge for the surge. These polls are grotesquely oversampling Democrats, to the point where the joke has become obvious, but maybe you can find your pleasure there, if you're also the sort that listens to Peggy Noonan as the exemplar of what conservatives are thinking. She eloquently voiced the opinion you want to hear: Romney’s campaign has been a “rolling calamity.”

If you bother to keep reading — and it's likely both Obama fans and Romney fans stopped at "rolling calamity," either pleased or disgusted — you'll see many paragraphs asserting that Romney doesn't want to talk about taxes and illegal immigration. He's "tongue-tied" because there's "a new kind of political correctness" in the GOP:
They cannot speak certain words (taxes) or speculate about certain ideas (immigration amnesty) because these are forbidden.... As a result, he has twisted himself into a pretzel, speaking vacuously... That’s a straitjacket that even Peggy Noonan’s eloquence cannot get him out of.
I'm picturing Peggy using her tongue to untwist a pretzel. Or is she unbuckling a straitjacket? Marvelous writing, Fareed. Did you make that all up yourself?

Does "exceptionalism" = "swagger" in the mind of the Washington Post?

"Obama, Romney differ on need for U.S. 'swagger.'" That's the headline on the WaPo front page now, linking to a story with the headline "Obama, Romney differ on U.S. exceptionalism."

The word put in quotes is "swagger," and that ought to mean somebody said that. The word appears once in the article. After a few sentences on Romney's "far tougher approach to the world" and Obama's emphasis on "diplomacy and partnerships, and American assistance where wanted without heavy-handed demands from the top," we get:
“It’s very clear in reading and hearing what the two candidates have to say that, at least rhetorically, there would be a significant change under President Romney,” said Karl F. Inderfurth, an assistant secretary of state in the Bill Clinton administration who is now a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Inderfurth, who is not working with either campaign, said some of the “swagger” of the George W. Bush administration would return to U.S. foreign policy under Romney.

“Obama has tried to tone that down, and he has faced pushback for doing so,” he said.
So, apparently Inderfurth used the word "swagger," perhaps only to characterize the feeling some people got from George Bush (that cowboy), but Romney has never — as far as I can see — said we need "swagger," and Romney's manner seems wholly different from George Bush's. It seems modest and mannerly. The word "swagger" seems more applicable to Obama, who's been killing enemies with drones and likes to point out that he killed bin Laden.

It's rather annoying to see WaPo quote a supposed expert telling us what's "very clear" in the rhetoric and then slap the label "swagger" on it. Show us the rhetoric, and let us judge. I'm displaying your rhetoric, so my readers can judge.
Until now, the campaign has been concerned mostly with the economy, and foreign policy has been viewed largely as a strength for the president, who was behind the killing of Osama bin Laden.

But the recent unrest in the Muslim world — revealed in the attack in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11 that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans — has exposed Obama politically and been seized upon by Romney as a product of what he calls the president’s weak engagement of the world.
So, I suspect, you're putting out this article, with that front-page headline, in an effort to help shore up the fortunes of your favored candidate. Let's find a way to scare voters... equate Romney with Bush!
The conflicting philosophies Obama and Romney outlined this week are consistent in large part with their life experiences.
Those backgrounds have given each a different vantage on the world — a former chief executive’s broad-strokes view of how it should work and a former community organizer’s details-matter assessment — and different opinions about the best way to promote U.S. interests at a time of fiscal constraint at home and rapid change abroad.
What?! You're just going to make generalizations about the 2 men based on what they did in the parts of their careers when they were not politicians, and Romney's long career as a business executive is translated into a "broad-strokes view of how it should work" and Obama's short bit of time performing the little-examined role of "community organizer" shows he's a details guy! And the suggestion is that Obama actually got things done while Romney floated above it all with ideas about what "should work." Businessfolk can just believe in big dreams? Is there any evidence at all the Romney didn't have to pay attention to the facts on the ground as he went about these business enterprises, that he didn't get tested over and over by whether things actually did work?

September 26, 2012

"Some people always don't get something, but I figured describing PowerPoint as having been invented to euthanize cattle would make the satire clear."

Said Politico's Roger Simon, referring to something that appeared on page 2 of his satire. Don't you know about satire?! You r dum.

I call bullshit. People don't read and read down into an article. Simon intentionally put a fake quote out there knowing it would be taken as real. You have to get 2/3 of the way into his piece to see the euthanize-cattle nudge. That's not the way people read these days.

Here you can see page 1. Who would click to page 2?

This was a deliberate attempt to pollute the public debate, to promote Simon's candidate. He would never fun with Obama like that. He kept his deniability, but he put it way down where no one would read. His writing doesn't merit the click to page 2.

Everyone's winking at Drudge right now.

Here's the archived page, so you can click all the links. Here's Drudge itself.

Now, let's analyze the winkage. The main headline is Hillary, acknowledging her recent dissembling about Libya. She was just bullshitting before. Meanwhile, Obama's "GETTING SERIOUS," planning a 3-day debate prep. And Putin wants Obama to win. What's Michelle winking about? If the kids feel hungry after the lunches she's skimpified, let them eat cake snack.
"It's not surprising that some youngsters will in the middle of the day be hungry," [Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said]... "We understand that change is difficult... Some folks love it, some folks have had questions about it, but that's to be expected..."

Under the new regulations, cafeterias are required to serve twice as many fruits and vegetables while limiting proteins and carbohydrates. For an average high school student, that means two baked fish nuggets, a cup of vegetables, half a cup of mashed potatoes, one whole grain roll and 8 ounces of fat free milk is the fuel that served to get them through their last four hours of classes.
Regardless of how tall you are, whether you're in a growth spurt, and whether you're active and athletic. Everyone must pay — with their own bodies, as they are trapped in compulsory schooling — for the subset of kids who eat more than their bodies need. One size fits all. Uniformity. 

Anyway, I'm getting off topic. The main topic is: Everyone's winking. That means: It's all bullshit now, don't you know?

Whatever happened to theme songs on sit-coms?

(Via Metafilter.)

Beatles-themed wedding.

Great pics!

Madonna "was being ironic on stage" when she said we have "a Black Muslim in the White House."

“Yes, I know Obama is not a Muslim — though I know that plenty of people in this country think he is. And what if he were? The point I was making is that a good man is a good man, no matter who he prays to. I don’t care what religion Obama is — nor should anyone else in America.”

Should on-stage performers dumb it down for the people who aren't sophisticated enough to process humor?

I'm sure it's all very amusing for Madonna, who gets big publicity and looks "edgy" again. People call her stupid, and then she one-ups them and can seem — certainly to herself — to be quite smart. (Did you hear she has an IQ of 140? Same as Hillary Clinton. And Shakira.)

Others wielding humor have more to worry about. Like Romney with his "trees are just the right height" and, more recently, about those airplane windows that "don’t open. I don’t know why they don’t do that." People aren't going to get it if they don't want to get it, if they're looking for material to use to say you're an idiot.

And Romney can't make the Madonna move and call his antagonists dumb. Mitt Romney — who, like Madonna, was born in Michigan, where the trees are just the right height — has an estimated IQ  in the range of 130 to 139, which is smart enough to choose whether to dumb it down in self-defense.

ADDED: Look at how Paul Ryan's antagonists are trying to hurt him by pretending not to get his sense of humor. Are they stupid or pretending to be stupid? Tobin Harshaw writes:
There is no underestimating the literal-mindedness of the American reader: Years ago when I worked at the Times we published a satirical op-ed column by Steve Martin riffing on the idea that a NASA Mars probe had discovered millions of kittens on the Red Planet. Shortly thereafter, a subscriber sent a terse letter to the editor asking us to "inform your science correspondent" that the lack of oxygen on Mars made kitten infestation highly unlikely.
Wait. Why is Harshaw assuming the letter-writer wasn't doing humor?

AND: Wait. Ryan never even made those "Stench" remarks. A Politico writer made them up and intended it as satire.  I thought they were good enough jokes to be believable as the casual humor of a relatively young man, and I would have appreciated them as such. Harshaw is attacking Ryan's antagonists as so hostile that they didn't pick up that it was humor. I didn't pick up that it was humor, and I was defending Ryan. That's all very odd.

ALSO: I like the way Drudge is putting it: "MEDIA 'SATIRE' HIT PIECE ON PAUL RYAN BACKFIRES.../O'Donnell, Krugman 'fooled'..." Drudge is, I think, insinuating that Politico's Roger Simon intended to be misunderstood, for the Ryan quotes to be believed, and then to reveal that it was satire after the damage was done.

MORE: Fake quotes live on as real. Remember Sarah Palin's most famous quote: "I can see Russia from my house."

"Less than a month after reopening, the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool is full of algae, a sea of green overshadowing the nearly two-year, $34 million renovation of the famous site."

"This is a direct consequence of the fact that this is a green project,” said spokeswoman Carol Johnson. “The conditions are pretty good for algae, once it gets in there.”
Visitors to the pool described it as similar to “split pea soup,” “muddy,” like the “surface of the moon” and “icky-looking.”

“It doesn’t look like a $34 million circulation job,” Jim Carroll, 85, of Wisconsin said as he looked out over the pool....

“It doesn’t reflect well on the city at all,” Carolyn Rossinsky, 49, of Miami said as she sat near the pool.

“It looks like green fluff,” she added.
You wanted green... and you got it.

"The one thing you can say about the standard high-heeled shoe..."

"... in response to entirely reasonable criticisms that they’re painful, physically damaging and ultimately a little sexist, is that they’re aesthetically pleasing."
We think that has a lot to do with why they’ve become a classic and why women’s footwear hasn’t really changed all that much in the last 50 years...

But these? We’re sorry, we love Miuccia and her entirely original ideas, but these are just plain ugly to us. Seriously ugly. Aggressively ugly.
Astounding shoe pics at the link.

This is what Wisconsin protesting looks like...

... these days.

Last year's vast crowds were a magnet for all sorts of people, and some of them were individuals with problems of their own, looking for meaning within a group. As the crowds disperse, who is left? What can they do? Where is the meaning?

If the seeming meaning they found does not remain and cannot be revived, perhaps these once-lost souls feel that they are dying.

"I'm not a weakling and a censor like you."

"And I actually wish I could interact with what you have if it had some value beyond your typical Althouse is being stupid again. (Really intelligent to come up with that, little schoolboys.)"

(Careful, with the link within the link that I link to at that link. That's the blog I'm punishing with traffic starvation.)

Obama 46%, Romney 46%.

In the Rasmussen daily presidential tracking poll. If you push undecideds and get an answer — that is, you include "leaners" — the Obama number stays the same, and Romney goes up to 48%.

It's amazing that with all the events of the last couple weeks, especially the shift of focus to terrorism but also the media's constant pounding on Romney, that that candidates stay locked in a tie. Is there some inherent balancing mechanism in the American electorate? It must drive the politicos bonkers. It relaxes and amuses me — me, one of the undecideds.

I won't even lean. Go ahead push me. I won't turn into a "leaner" that can be included on one side or the other. I have the American inherent balancing mechanism.

Violent mobs erupt in Wisconsin after the publication of crude Vince Lombardi cartoons.

"Protestors demonstrated against the images throughout the Badger State yesterday, with violent egging and cow-tipping incidents reported in Oconomowac, Pewaukee, Sheboygan, Ozaukee, Antigo, Oshkosh, Waubeno, Wauwautosa, Waunewoc, Wyocena, Waubeka, and Washawonamowackapeepee."

September 25, 2012

"Some of the replacement referees working for the NFL... aren't even good enough for the Lingerie Football League..."

"... it was revealed on Tuesday."
The LFL, which fields women playing in bras and skimpy underwear, announced that it had fired several of the referees now calling prime time NFL games for 'on-field incompetent officiating.'

Bagel head.

A Japanese body modification trend.

"On issues related to the military and foreign policy, Obama’s worse than Bush, 'in the sense that he’s more aggressive, more illegal worldwide."

Said Ralph Nader, calling Obama a “war criminal."
“He’s gone beyond George W. Bush in drones, for example. He thinks the world is his plate, that national sovereignties mean nothing, drones can go anywhere. They can kill anybody that he suspects and every Tuesday he makes the call on who lives and who dies, supposed suspects in places like Yemen and Pakistan and Afghanistan, and that is a war crime and he ought to be held to account.”

"We are more likely to be receptive to good news than bad..."

"... and a team at UCL has gone some way to explaining why we prefer to look on the bright side."
"We believe the left inferior frontal gyrus is normally inhibiting other parts of the brain from learning from bad news. But by interfering with the left IFG we're releasing this inhibition," says [Cognitive neuroscientist Tali] Sharot...

Chris Chambers, a cognitive neuroscientist at Cardiff University, said one surprise was that TMS had such a specific effect, apparently without affecting other aspects of behaviour, such as emotional arousal or attention....

Should we try to base our views more on bad news? Probably not. The good news bias tends to be less common in people with depression, suggesting the optimists' view of life is good for our wellbeing and helps to motivate us.
If what we get wrong helps us live, there is a rightness that's different from truth. So much of what is beautiful and wonderful about human life is full of inaccuracies and distortions.

If you had the power to true us up would you dare use it?

"Federal authorities on Tuesday took legal action against 71 medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles County..."

"... part of an ongoing campaign to crack down on the establishments."
“Over the past several years, we have seen an explosion of commercial marijuana stores -– an explosion that is being driven by the massive profits associated with marijuana distribution,” said U.S. Atty. André Birotte Jr. in a statement.  “As today’s operations make clear, the sale and distribution of marijuana violates federal law, and we intend to enforce the law. Even those stores not targeted today should understand that they cannot continue to profit in violation of the law.”
That makes it sound — it's strange and yet familiar — as though what the government opposes is profit. Not drugs.

"2013 bacon shortage 'unavoidable.'"

It's all about the drought and the cost of soy and corn. We eat bacon every day at Meadhouse, so this is alarming news.

Obama at the U.N.: "[A] crude and disgusting video sparked outrage throughout the Muslim world."

"I know there are some who ask why we don’t just ban such a video.... The answer is enshrined in our laws: our Constitution protects the right to practice free speech."
“Like me, the majority of Americans are Christian, and yet we do not ban blasphemy against our most sacred beliefs," he said. "As President of our country, and Commander-in-Chief of our military, I accept that people are going to call me awful things every day, and I will always defend their right to do so. Americans have fought and died around the globe to protect the right of all people to express their views--even views that we profoundly disagree with.

“Now, I know that not all countries in this body share this understanding of the protection of free speech. We recognize that," said Obama. “But in 2012, at a time when anyone with a cell phone can spread offensive views around the world with the click of a button, the notion that we can control the flow of information is obsolete. The question, then, is how do we respond. And on this we must agree: there is no speech that justifies mindless violence."

Justice Stevens rejects the idea that legal expertise is the reason why judges have the last word on the meaning of the Constitution.

The retired Justice is reviewing Sanford Levinson's new book "Framed: America’s Fifty-One Constitutions and the Crisis of Governance."  Levinson has offered 3 different reasons why judges have this role in our system of separated powers:
[F]irst, that they are experts in the law in the same way that rocket scientists have a field of expertise; second, that they are gifted with exceptional wisdom; or third, that the terms of their office liberate them from “political” constraints. He correctly rejects the first answer because the number of dissenting opinions belies the suggestion that there is only one permissible answer to the kind of question that courts consider. He correctly rejects the second answer because he agrees with Justice Holmes that “the life of the law is not logic, but experience.” While he concludes that the third answer depends on one’s views about the empirical consequences of election of judges, in my judgment, he accurately identifies the controlling criterion in this sentence: “Life tenure and the liberation from political accountability would remove certain incentives that lead ordinary leaders to betray the public good.”

Did Scott Brown staffers make anti-Indian gestures at a rally?

I'm not saying it was good or wise for them to make the "tomahawk chop" gesture while yelling in a way that the news report characterizes as an "Indian war whoop." And Scott Brown has said he doesn't condone that sort of acting out, but I just want to specify that the staffers' gesturing and noise-making doesn't count as antagonism toward Native Americans.

Someone doing the "tomahawk chop" is himself playing the role of Indian. This Indian character making a stereotypical gesture can't be read as expressing hostility toward Indians. The Indian is his hero. At a certain level of political correctness, the tomahawk chop is considered offensive to Native Americans, but somehow it's not offensive enough to have stopped Atlanta Braves fans from doing it.

Anyway, these fake Indians, the staffers, are pretending to be real Indians, miming an attack on Elizabeth Warren on the ground that she's a fake Indian. There's a lot of fakery in there, but no one is expressing the view that it's bad to be Indian. That's all I wanted to say, and I do understand how real Indians might prefer not to be represented as stereotypical characters. And maybe they'd object even more if a non-Indian got a great job from an employer who was practicing affirmative action in hiring or self-promoting by claiming diversity.

Harry Reid goes holier-than-thou, Mormon-style, on Mitt Romney.

Is that okay? Because if that's okay, should we dissect Obama's religion?

Should we go at both Romney and Obama for how well they embody the religion they espouse? free polls 

"What's behind all the... hype?" — asks the Washington Post, revealingly.

The WaPo seems to be brimming with optimism about the sunny prospects of our handsome President. Look at him striding forward silhouetted against blue skies.

But look closely, there across the top. Yes, the new poll — Lead widens! — and there's Elizabeth Warren — Gloves are off! — but then the facade slips. See it?

"What's behind all this kale hype?"

Yeah! Hype! I keep seeing it everywhere! Ridiculous promotion! Ridiculous promotion of... a vegetable. You know, that one: Kale!!! Why's everybody talking about kale?!! Kale! It's on everyone's lips! Kale! We're gonna live forever! Kale! I'm gonna learn how to fly! On Air Force One!!!11!!1! I got more in me, and you can set it free, I can catch the moon in my hands. Don't you know who I am? Barack Obama. And Kale! We're gonna live forever. I feel it coming together. People will see me and cry. Kale! I'm gonna make it to heaven! He went to Harvard not Yale! Kale!

And have you heard? WE'RE EATING MORE BEETS!

"Freedoms must not interfere with the freedoms of others," said Ahmadinejad.

"If someone insults, what would you do? ... Is insulting other people not a form of crime?"

In other words, it's irrelevant that the U.S. government didn't make the "Innocence of Muslims" video. In this frame of thinking, the government should be protecting people from infringement of their freedom not to be insulted.

Ahmadinejad also talked about Salman Rushdie: "Where is he now?... Is he in the United States? If he is, you shouldn't broadcast that for his own safety."

(Most of the linked article is about Ahmadinejad's opinion of Israel — it doesn't belong in the Middle East and will be removed.)

(By the way, in my home town, a man was arrested for what the news report characterizes as insulting journalists. If insulting people is going to be a crime, you'd think the least sympathetic victims would be journalists.)

"More Americans now commit suicide than are killed in car crashes as miserable economy takes its toll.”

That's the headline asserting causation based on correlation and... there actually isn't even correlation.

Quite apart from that, if car crashes decrease and suicides increase, maybe all that is really happening is that the car crash method of suicide is becoming less popular. That is, previously, some suicides were hidden within the car crash numbers. Suicide numbers will go up if the method used for a suicide makes it crushingly clear it wasn't an accident. I'll speculate that guns cause a high proportion of suicides in part for this reason.

Wisconsin state senator Jon Erpenbach tweets the NFL commissioner's phone number...

... because, you know, those damned replacement officials and Jennings caught that ball and offensive pass interference and arrrggghhhh come on people let's harass Roger Goodell.

ADDED: "Twitter Lynch Mob: Let’s kill NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell."

And: "Scott Walker: ‘Return the real refs’; Libs cry hypocrisy over unions, spew venom."

"Will Obama Free the Blind Sheik?"

A WSJ op-ed by Michael B. Mukasey, who presided over the trial of Omar Abdel Rahman and sentenced him to life in prison.
Abdel Rahman was convicted in 1995 of participating in a seditious conspiracy that included the [Meir] Kahane murder, the 1993 WTC bombing, and a plot to blow up other landmarks in New York and to assassinate Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak when he visited the United Nations....

In 1997, members of Abdel Rahman's organization... murdered more than 60 tourists at Luxor, Egypt, and inserted notes in the body cavities of several victims demanding the Blind Sheik's release. Also in the mid-1990s, Abdel Rahman contrived from jail to issue the fatwa that Osama bin Laden cited as authorization to carry out the 9/11 attacks. The sheik's confinement was on bin Laden's list of grievances meant to justify that atrocity.

... Abdel Rahman has been a totemic figure to Islamists since 1981, when his pronouncements gave a group of Egyptian army officers the spiritual justification for assassinating President Anwar Sadat. The officers were hanged, but Abdel Rahman successfully defended himself at trial by arguing that he had simply been opining on issues of Islamic law and should not face censure for that in a Muslim country.
Mukasey reviews the evidence that the Obama administration is contemplating releasing him, including the "excruciatingly lawyered" sounding statement of officials. For example, Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who, before Congress, asked "whether there is an intention 'at any time to release the Blind Sheikh,'" said, "Well, let me just say this. I know of no such intention."

September 24, 2012

"German squirrels are robots"/"Now that's Parkour!"

Top comments for:

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 is leaving kids hungry.

Or so they sing:

Link to video via Drudge, who also links to:

The crime of insulting journalists.

As the Wisconsin State Journal puts it:
Jeremy Ryan, 24, of Madison is accused of hurling taunts and insults at journalists, including singing insulting songs about the death of a longtime journalist, Richard Wheeler. Wheeler died suddenly in November 2011, and the Capitol press room was named for him after his death.

Ryan also shouted derogatory names for news organizations, including the State Journal....

Packers got robbed.

Shocking officiating.

"Fiasco of a referee situation" — announcers.

ADDED: Video here.

The chameleon work

... of the illustrious Chip Ahoy, who explains his methodology for taking my photographs and perceiving the animal hiding therein. He found the chameleon in the hot peppers I displayed today:

It's that curled tail that gave it away! Chip points us back to the old poodle in the carpet:

The very well disguised elephant in the blue tile wall:

And my personal favorite, the giraffe in the woods:

Let's not get too distracted by the State Department spokeman's saying "Fuck Off" and "Have a good life"...

... to that BuzzFeed reporter, Michael Hastings. There's so much more of immensely great importance in their email exchange about what that spokesman — Phillippe Reines — had been trying to get us to think about CNN's use of the Chris Stevens journal, found at the site of the murder in Benghazi, after our diplomatic personnel fled the scene.

Hastings emailed an excellent set of questions:
Why didn't the State Department search the consulate and find AMB Steven's diary first? What other potential valuable intelligence was left behind that could have been picked up by apparently anyone searching the grounds? Was any classified or top secret material also left? Do you still feel that there was adequate security at the compound, considering it was not only overrun but sensitive personal effects and possibly other intelligence remained out for anyone passing through to pick up? Your statement on CNN sounded pretty defensive--do you think it's the media's responsibility to help secure State Department assets overseas after they've been attacked?
And Reines couldn't or wouldn't answer these questions. He continued those pretty defensive efforts to shift the focus to CNN. When Hastings pressed him, Reines resorted to "Fuck Off" and "Have a good life." Those nasty comebacks shouldn't be the story. They should direct us to the set of questions. Those are great questions, and the State Department will not answer them. Without answers, they feel like questions that answer themselves.

I've been thinking a lot today about about the verb "to like."

First, I was struck by the Democratic pollster who said, about Romney, "Ultimately, people don’t like this guy. If they don’t like someone, it’s hard to get people to vote for him — particularly to fire someone they do like."

And then later today, I overheard a professor — I won't say who — telling students they will be meeting representatives of 2 groups, one conservative and one liberal, and that they "would like" the liberals. These particular conservatives, he said, were more effective pursuing their aims — some field of policy that I won't identify — but the liberals, you will like.

At the Hot Pepper Café...


... we're just getting warmed up.

Grand gesticulations over things small and large.

At Drudge just now now (click to enlarge):

In the right column, we've got Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day swearing and gesticulating over his show time getting cut down to 1 minute.

In the middle column, it's Senate candidate/lawprof Elizabeth Warren:
If you keep scrolling, beyond my screen grab, there's also:
... On defensive again over heritage claim
And a picture of a stink bug...

... "Feds brace for historic stink bug outbreak..."

Only 23% of likely voters think the killing of Christopher Stevens was a "spontaneous reactions to an anti-Islamic video."

57% say it was "planned in advance." And 85% "believe it is likely that terrorists were involved."
Younger voters are far less convinced than their elders that the protests at U.S. embassies in the Middle East have been planned in advance. Female voters are not as sure of that as male voters are.
I'm guessing that the more you like President Obama, the more you've been influenced by the administration's propaganda about the "Innocence of Muslims" video.
The government last week spent $70,000 in Pakistan to run a television ad featuring President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton denouncing the video in hopes of limiting protests there.
They don't have to run that ad in the United States, where the mainstream media carries their message free of charge. Here's what they showed in Pakistan:

What's that red flag with the pentagram behind her? It seems kind of Satanic. Is it this:

What's going on there? And, more importantly, should we fly into a rage and take to the streets?

Obama on "60 Minutes": "I’m the first one to confess that the spirit that I brought to Washington, that I wanted to see instituted..."

"... where we weren’t constantly in a political slugfest but were focused more on problem-solving that, you know, I haven’t fully accomplished that, haven’t even come close in some cases."

This sentence poses an interesting rhetorical conundrum. If your goal is to avoid constantly being in a slugfest and you are ever not in a slugfest, you have achieved that goal. You could even say you have fully accomplished it, since it was such a low bar, not being constantly in a slugfest.

But obviously Obama did not mean that, since he's confessing failure, though not complete failure. He hasn't fully accomplished what he wanted. But maybe looking at that elaborate, professorily built-up sentence, I'm seeing the opposite of my first reading, and I want to say that he has completely failed. If it's an on-and-off slugfest, it's really still a slugfest. Even a real-life boxing match has rounds and little rest periods. You can't claim to have partially accomplished a change in the slugfestiveness as long as the slugfestivities keep popping up.

The thing is: Our Professor-President has a way of stringing phrases along in what actually ultimately congeals into a sentence that is weirdly arranged but completely grammatical, that conveys the feeling of intelligence and thoughtfulness but — if you pull it apart — yields no significant meaning. But you're not supposed to pull it apart. Why would you do that? It was so lovely, so lulling... so likeable.

Nancy Pelosi objects to Mitt Romney's "Mute Button" ad.

Because she would never ever put any President on mute.
"As speaker and as Democratic leader, any call from the president would be treated with great formality and respect," Pelosi said. "There was absolutely no situation in which either President Bush or President Obama were cut off from speaking. I respect the office of the President and the office of the Speaker, including the historic nature of any communication between these two offices."
Here's the ad, which gets its assertion of fact from Bob Woodward's book:

ADDED: A possible middle ground is: Pelosi had a button that kept the sound at her end from passing through to the President. His voice would still be heard, and he would never be cut off, but she would be free to talk over him and have conversations with whoever was with her. That would make her statement completely true and — ah! I just checked the book text — it would make Woodward's reporting precisely accurate:
Pelosi reached over and pressed the mute button on her phone. They could hear Obama, but now he couldn’t hear them. The president continued speaking, his disembodied voice filling the room, and the two leaders got back to the hard numbers.
Woodward never said she muted the President, and Pelosi's starchy outrage does not include a denial that she muted herself.

"I never knew I’d be on TV as a gay man, but I love the pictures of hairy chests that you’re sending me."

Said Eric Stonestreet, who just won an Emmy for best actor in a comedy for "Modern Family," which I've never seen, but I'd heard of Stonestreet, because I indulge in the guilty pleasure of reading The Daily Mail, and it had pictures of the beautiful actress Charlize Theron purportedly in a relationship with this man. She's "said to have fallen" for him. Okay. Looks aren't everything.

"The window is narrowing for Romney, and he’s in deep, deep trouble."

Said Democratic pollster Celinda Lake, who worked on the  POLITICO/George Washington University Battleground Poll, which showed Obama ahead but not beyond the margin of error. Thanks for your highly professional opinion there, Ms. Lake! She burbles on:
"Ultimately, people don’t like this guy. If they don’t like someone, it’s hard to get people to vote for him — particularly to fire someone they do like."
Deep, deep. Like... like... like. Here's an opinion-taker/shaper who seems to need to say her key words at least twice. So, thanks for the info! What a terrible, terrible man this Mitt Romney is! We do not like him. No no no no no.

But, speaking of liking and not liking to fire people, old man Romney — the villainous wretch! — said it well:

"I like being able to fire people who provide services to me."

Clint Eastwood said it well — if real-time grappling for thoughts is good — in his empty-chair speech:
[Y]ou, we -- we own this country. We -- we own it. It is not you owning it, and not politicians owning it. Politicians are employees of ours. And -- so -- they are just going to come around and beg for votes every few years. It is the same old deal. But I just think it is important that you realize , that you're the best in the world. Whether you are a Democrat or Republican or whether you're libertarian or whatever, you are the best. And we should not ever forget that. And when somebody does not do the job, we got to let them go.

The top female ad icons of "all time."

According to Ad Age. I put "all time" in quotes, because they don't go back to Elizabethan England, let alone the Stone Age. But they don't overvalue recent years, like most "all time" lists. One is from 2008, but after that, you have to go back to the "Where's the beef lady?" in 1984, which was the year I got my first videotape machine and acquired the power to fast-forward. So 9 out of 10 of these ladies are very familiar to me, but... who's Flo?

September 23, 2012

At the Sunset-of-Ice-Cream Café...


... wake up and smell the autumn.

"We are just awakening to the need for some scrutiny or oversight or public attention to the decisions of the most powerful private speech controllers..."

... lawprof Tim Wu told the NYT, which has an article that seems to be searching for a way to legitimate making private companies like Google suppress free speech.
Mr. Wu offered some unsolicited advice: Why not set up an oversight board of regional experts or serious YouTube users from around the world to make the especially tough decisions?
Oh, yeah, an oversight board of regional experts.... Isn't that what you want? Panels of regional experts bearing down on the free speech we have through private internet services like YouTube?

ADDED: Here's that conversation I had with Bob Wright last year about the applicability of free speech values to the work of private corporations.

Remember when "women, the dominant sex, dropped their babies in birth buckets..."

"... during pit stops at the chariot races while passive, adoring males chewed on umbilical cords like beef jerky"?

"'I am not particularly happy with Obama,' the retired auto-parts storeowner said of the man he supported in 2008."

"His wife, walking beside him on the Military Ridge state trail, overheard him voicing doubt. 'What about my reproductive rights?' she asked, clearly upset. 'No, we are voting for Obama!'"

Auto-parts... lady parts... somewhere in Wisconsin. 
Discussing his uncertainty, the retired couple walked off along the popular recreational trail in this small town...
How old does a woman have to be before she stops thinking first and above all about her reproductive rights? Well, at least they are still "discussing his uncertainty" as they walk away, even though she made a declarative statement about how the 2 of them are voting. Maybe he needed to work through his feelings to understand why he is so fuzzy about his reasons for doing what he is going to do.

"US State Dept. blasts CNN report on Christopher Stevens' diary."

Why? Because it contravened the wishes of the family.
CNN broke a pledge to the late ambassador's family that it wouldn't report on the diary, said State Department spokesman Philippe Reines, a senior adviser to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton...

The public has a right to know what CNN learned from "multiple sources" about fears and warnings of a terror threat before the Benghazi attack, the channel said, "which are now raising questions about why the State Department didn't do more to protect Ambassador Stevens and other U.S. personnel."...

"Whose first instinct is to remove from a crime scene the diary of a man killed along with three other Americans serving our country, read it, transcribe it, email it around your newsroom for others to read" and then call the family?" Reines asked.
I'm glad CNN did this. The State Department — it's obvious, isn't it? — wanted to suppress this information, and CNN got it out. This is a major international event, and I don't accept privatizing it.  Yes, there is a grieving family, but the State Department, which calls CNN "disgusting," is hiding behind that family. That's disgusting.
In its online story, CNN said it found the journal on the "floor of the largely unsecured consulate compound where he was fatally wounded."
Why wasn't the crime scene secured? If CNN hadn't taken the journal, where would it be now? Having taken it, they shouldn't read it? Having read it, they shouldn't use it? 
Asked to comment on CNN's report that Stevens was concerned about a "hit list," Reines referred to a news conference last Thursday at which Clinton was asked about it. 
"I have absolutely no information or reason to believe that there's any basis for that," Clinton had said.
Why didn't Clinton know anything? Or was she lying? I'm sick of this suppression. Our ambassador was assassinated, the State Department has been lying or dissembling, and we're asked to be distracted by the family's wishes... as asserted by the State Department in cover-your-ass mode... or worse.

ADDED: Did CNN "pledge" to the family that it wouldn't use the information from the journal in its reporting? I'm trying to find the answer to that question (as I simply don't trust the State Department's choice of words). Here's what the WSJ has:
CNN said on its website that it notified the Stevens family "within hours" that it had the journal. The Stevens family then reached out to the State Department, which arranged a telephone conference call between members of the family and CNN. In that call, the family asked the news organization to return the journal and to not publish or broadcast any of its contents, according to a Stevens family member and State Department officials.

Family members and State Department officials said CNN agreed during the Sept. 14 conference call to hold off on using the diary until the family had a chance to review its contents.
Family members and State Department officials said CNN agreed... What did CNN "agree" to? This isn't in quotes, so it's hard to judge what was agreed to. CNN didn't quote the journal or say it had it. They did use the material to build a report that had more than one source. It seems as though the State Department leaned on CNN, and I don't know what the family's concern was — perhaps more personal things in the journal. Or was the family dutifully backing the State Department — which didn't want to reveal the security lapses?
"Some of that information was found in a personal journal of Ambassador Stevens in his handwriting," Mr. Cooper told viewers [on his Friday show]. "We came upon the journal through our reporting and notified the family. At their request, we returned that journal to them. We reported what we found newsworthy in the ambassador's writings."
That implies that they did not report other things that they did not find newsworthy.
CNN added in a statement on its website, "For CNN, the ambassador's writings served as tips about the situation in Libya, and in Benghazi in particular. CNN took the newsworthy tips and corroborated them with other sources."
If the argument is that CNN broke an agreement, I want precision and I don't see it. I repeat that I'm glad CNN got this information to us and didn't supinely pass along the State Department's talking points (which were wrong).

Obama 46%, Romney 46%.

Today's Rasmussen tracking poll.
When “leaners” are included, the candidates are tied at 48%. Leaners are those who are initially uncommitted to the two leading candidates but lean towards one of them when asked a follow-up question.
Isn't it strange how the candidates are so precisely locked in an even standoff, when the newspapers are pounding it into our heads that the pathetic, miserable Romney hasn't got a chance? Where would Romney be now if the media gave him something close to equal treatment? Is it possible that the media's desperate boosting of their candidate is causing the electorate to tune out or even skew in the other direction? I think so. I find myself repelled by media bias. I've built up my defenses, which means I've now internalized the elaboration of the conservative position. I'm not even that conservative — I just know where the bias is, and I need to perform the correction for my own sense of balance.

Am I the only one who does this?

"A Pakistani imam, Abdul Wahid Qasmi, once told me that President Bill Clinton burned to death scores of Americans for criticizing Jesus."

"If America can execute blasphemers, he said, why can’t Pakistan?"

Nicholas D. Kristof challenged that statement, and the imam opened a book "and began reading triumphantly about the 1993 raid on David Koresh’s cult in Waco, Tex."

A NYT headline: "Mitt Romney Says, 'I Am The Confidence Fairy!''"

But Romney never said "I Am The Confidence Fairy!" There's some other Romney quote — some dull thing about economics — and then Paul Krugman says: "In effect, Romney was saying, 'I am the confidence fairy!'"

Krugman really, really wants Romney to lose. So, presumably, does the NYT. I don't have a problem with an opinion writer paraphrasing somebody's quote like that. It's the use of quotation marks in the headline that's wrong.