May 7, 2005

President Garfield's "spine, removed during autopsy, was passed around to jurors during the trial of his assassin."

Now there's a lurid detail, extracted from Sarah Vowell's "Assassination Vacation," in this NYT review. It's a book about presidential assassins:
We learn ... that the canny thespian John Wilkes Booth, stalking Lincoln that fateful April evening at Ford's Theater, waited for a surefire laugh line to cover his shot; and that the line, a rejoinder in which a female character is dismissed as a ''sockdologizing old man trap,'' hasn't aged all that well. Still, as Vowell writes, ''it is a comfort of sorts to know that the bullet hit Lincoln mid-guffaw. . . . At least his last conscious moment was a hoot.''

I like Sarah Vowell -- from "This American Life" -- and am glad she'll get more attention for her books now that everyone loves her as the voice of Violet, from "The Incredibles." I was just seeing her on C-Span, promoting this book, and she was quite charming, with her cute but profound voice and her flat but expressive intonation.

(I'd buy this as an audiobook, but it's not available on CDs -- only cassette. Too bad!) [ADDED: That's wrong. It is on CD -- at the link provided. Sorry. I've ordered it.]

UPDATE: A reader notes that Vowell makes a special contribution to the deluxe "Incredibles" DVD set, in a piece called "Vowellet":
Author/cast member Sarah Vowell (NPR's This American Life) talks about her first foray into movie voice-overs--daughter Violet--and the unlikelihood of her being a superhero. The feature is unlike anything we've seen on a Disney or Pixar DVD extra, but who else would consider Abe Lincoln an action figure?
Sounds like the new book figures into that.

Dangerous, fugitive cat.

Sentenced to beheading -- in Chile.

Booker, who won in the Supreme Court, gets the same 30-year sentence.

"Too old to become involved in criminal activity? Not on your life, counselor. He'll never be too old," said Judge Shabaz as he handed Freddie Joe Booker the same 30-year sentence he gave him back before Booker fought his way to a victory in the U.S. Supreme Court last January. The Court found a Sixth Amendment problem with the Federal Sentencing Guidelines that led it to reframe the Guidelines as discretionary rather than mandatory. It remains to be seen how much the Booker decision will change things at ground level:
Assistant U.S. Attorney John Vaudreuil said the Booker decision hasn't caused more defendants in this federal district to choose trials over pleas because both Judge Barbara Crabb and Shabaz continue follow the guidelines.

"I can only speak to what's happening here, but our judges look at the guidelines and have largely determined them to be appropriate...Both (judges) have made it clear that one of the goals of following the guidelines is to keep a uniform approach to sentencing cases across the country," Vaudreuil said.

Dylanology.

A roomful of Bob Dylan fans talk about Bob Dylan at the top level of "Dylan geekiness."
One theme running through the evening was Mr. Dylan's aversion to pleasing. The panelists agreed that in the 1980's, in particular, the singer seemed bent on distancing himself from fans, musicians, even his own music. Mr. Hultkrans compared him to Kafka - hiding his best work in drawers.

There was also the question of whether Mr. Dylan is in decline. The writer Luc Sante, who had been a scheduled panelist, apparently held that the period of 1965 to 1967 was the high-water mark, but Mr. Lethem disagreed. "I see" his genius "arising, with equal uncanniness, however fugitive," he said. "There are songs and performances that are as much of the part of the Godhead now as ever."

I agree with Luc Sante. The albums in those years -- "Bringing It All Back Home," "Highway 61 Revisited," and "Blonde On Blonde" -- are the ones I really care about. They seem to be the essence of Dylan, the reason Dylan matters so much. But why? When I read the words to the songs on later albums, many of them seem just as good. I note that it was on the album after "Blonde On Blonde" that Dylan stopped singing in that distinctive voice, that voice we all want to use when we do our Dylan imitations. It seemed like such a ridiculous way to sing.

(Remember the video of the making of "We Are the World," when Dylan didn't know how to sing his lines, and Stevie Wonder sang them for him, using the mid-60s Dylan singing style?)

But there was something mystical about that crazy way to sing that we all lost when Dylan came back after his motorcycle accident with "John Wesley Harding."

The world has never been the same.

UPDATE: Interestingly -- I'm just noticing this -- my ex-husband Richard Cohen was up and blogging about Bob Dylan before I was. His is a dream, analyzed, about Dylan. I'm a little unnerved that Richard ends his post:
A weird phenomenon that often happens when I dream: waking up, I realize that the whole dream was a code for the title of a song or a line for a song. In this case, “All I really want to do is baby be friends with you.”

The weird thing about that is that most of the time I was writing this post, I was planning on titling it with a line from "All I Really Want To Do." I started writing my post because of the line in the article, "One theme running through the evening was Mr. Dylan's aversion to pleasing," which I thought would go well with the song line "I don't want to satisfy you." When I finally got around to searching for "satisfy" on bobdylan.com, where was that line I remembered? I saw I was only imagining it. There are two other "-ify" words-- "simplify" and "classify" -- but not "satisfy." Was there some other line about refusing to please that I could substitute? No. That's just not the way the words of the song go at all. It's good not to be simplified and classified. Why did I transform that into something that would be bad to be denied: you do want to be satisfied. Still, in some way, refusing to please is the unspoken theme of the song. Dylan is saying don't expect me to be your conventional boyfriend -- "I don't want to meet your kin." I will define a new male-female relationship, and it's not all the things you come to me believing you want.

So I ended up thinking about that song a lot this morning -- and damned if my ex-husband isn't mulling it over too. That's just eerie! And weirdly, his "realization" that that song fits that dream seems off, at least if we're to believe his analysis of the dream. But "I ain't lookin' to compete with you" and "I ain't lookin' to... Analyze you." So I'll end this already excessively revealing update right here. Or should I add a Dylan quote? "Nothing is revealed."

The extreme dazzle of extreme celebrity?

The defense witnesses in the Michael Jackson case are putting on an amazing display of the effect of celebrity on the human mind:
During the South American tour, [said the mother of Brett Barnes, who, at age 12, slept with Jackson during two 6-month-long concert tours,] she and her husband had discussed whether their son should be sleeping with Mr. Jackson, but only in terms of whether it was an "imposition" on Mr. Jackson....

Joy Robson, the mother of Wade Robson, now 22, said it was "not a problem" that Mr. Jackson was spending nights with her son beginning 15 years ago. "Nothing ever crossed my mind...."

Or should we say these witnesses must be lying? Even if you decide that Jackson is innocent and trustworthy, how can the opposite never cross your mind?

Mary, graffiti, brown paint, and "Engine Shampoo."

I see a lot has happened recently to the underpass salt stain some people believed to be a miraculous appearance of the Virgin Mary.

Are we ready to start blogging about the '08 election?

Or are we still too tired of presidential campaign blogging? Well, surely we're at least too tired of John Kerry. But here he is, begging for attention. Could there be better evidence of his lack of political skill than his failure to go away and stay away long enough for us to forget how tedious we found him last time? Even during the final months of the '04 campaign, he was always doing best when he was keeping the lowest profile. The strategy that won him the nomination was to hold back, seem adult and dignified, and wait for everyone else to scamper ahead and slip on all of the banana peels. The only way he could ever get the '08 nomination is for the same damned thing to happen again.

Maureen Dowd's chimeras.

Maureen Dowd riffs on the idea of the chimera -- a mythological monster combining parts of different animals. She notes but doesn't seem to take any position on the fears about research that combines human stem cells with animal embryos, then moves on to the place that she usually moves on to: criticizing Republicans.

First, the two Bush wars:
President Bush's experiments in Afghanistan and Iraq created his own chimeras, by injecting feudal and tribal societies with the cells of democracy, and blending warring factions and sects. Some of the forces unleashed are promising; others are frightening.
And then the party itself:
The Republican Party is now a chimera, too, a mutant of old guard Republicans, who want government kept out of our lives, and evangelical Christians, who want government to legislate religion into our lives.

But exploiting God for political ends has set off powerful, scary forces in America: a retreat on teaching evolution, most recently in Kansas; fights over sex education, even in the blue states and blue suburbs of Maryland; a demonizing of gays; and a fear of stem cell research, which could lead to more of a "culture of life" than keeping one vegetative woman hooked up to a feeding tube.

Even as scientists issue rules on chimeras in labs, a spine-tingling he-monster with the power to drag us back into the pre-Darwinian dark ages is slouching around Washington. It's a fire-breathing creature with the head of W., the body of Bill Frist and the serpent tail of Tom DeLay.
Is the scary thing she's perceiving the combination of different things or the components that she would disapprove of whether they were in solo form or not?

I would have thought that the need to combine small factions into a larger party to achieve national power is a source of moderation.

Time to reread The Federalist, Number 10:
AMONG the numerous advantages promised by a well constructed Union, none deserves to be more accurately developed than its tendency to break and control the violence of faction....

The smaller the society, the fewer probably will be the distinct parties and interests composing it; the fewer the distinct parties and interests, the more frequently will a majority be found of the same party; and the smaller the number of individuals composing a majority, and the smaller the compass within which they are placed, the more easily will they concert and execute their plans of oppression. Extend the sphere, and you take in a greater variety of parties and interests; you make it less probable that a majority of the whole will have a common motive to invade the rights of other citizens; or if such a common motive exists, it will be more difficult for all who feel it to discover their own strength, and to act in unison with each other. Besides other impediments, it may be remarked, that where there is a consciousness of unjust or dishonorable purposes, a communication is always checked by distrust, in proportion to the number whose concurrence is necessary....

The influence of factious leaders may kindle a flame within their particular States, but will be unable to spread a general conflagration through the other States: a religious sect, may degenerate into a political faction in a part of the Confederacy; but the variety of sects dispersed over the entire face of it, must secure the national Councils against any danger from that source: a rage for paper money, for an abolition of debts, for an equal division of property, or for any other improper or wicked project, will be less apt to pervade the whole body of the Union, than a particular member of it; in the same proportion as such a malady is more likely to taint a particular county or district, than an entire State.
To bring it back to Dowd's genetic metaphor: let's remember the good of hybrid vigor and the disadvantages of inbreeding. Politically, inclusion, diversity, and assimilation seem to work better than exclusion and the enforcement of ideological purity. Is it any wonder the Republicans have outplayed the Democrats recently?

UPDATE: Here's Captain Ed's reaction to Dowd's column. One point:
Dowd's argument is that democracy somehow is not only foreign to Arabs, but unnatural -- about as racist an argument that the New York Times has allowed in its editorial pages in decades.

And let me add that the whole fear of the chimera struck me as awfully similar to old racist fears about "miscegenation." Just substitute "mongrel" -- as in "mongrelization of the races" -- for the fancy-schmancy word "chimera." The horror of mixing divergent lines? It's a rather ugly metaphor.

May 6, 2005

Do whatever your mother taught you to do.

My Madisonian co-bloggers are all blogging about Mother's Day, which I've blogged about only in the context of making fun of a moronic ad. Tonya is training her son to behave properly on days of celebration. And in Tonya's comments, Nina's all "To be able to celebrate another with full pomp and ceremony, down to the last flower, is totally awesome." Nina, on her own blog, is writing about Mother's Day in her usual elliptical style. Oscar has a kind of tribute to "Blogger Moms" and links to me. Am I supposed to be one of the "Moms Who Blog"? Much as I like links and recognition in general, I don't belong on a list of "Moms Who Blog." There are plenty of women who blog about being mothers, and they should be linked on the occasion of Mother's Day. But not by me: I don't read blogs like that and have no idea which ones are good. While I may mention an occasional thing about one of my sons, it's not the main thing I do over here. This isn't a Momblog. Do I have anything to say about Mother's Day? Well, I just got everyone twisted up over my complaints about big weddings, so maybe I shouldn't kick another one of femaledom's sacred cows. I should find a sacred bull to kick. I won't interfere with your weekend of maternal adoration. Do whatever your mother taught you to do. About everything.

UPDATE: Is this post too cranky? I say no. I'd be irked to be called a Law Professor Mom, after all. I'm taking a feminist position here. But I did want to add that Tonya's dialogues with her son are really hilarious. So, though I don't read Momblogs, I do always read Tonya's blog, and I highly recommend the post linked above, which has one of those dialogues.

"Always go for the jugular. Never agonize in an opinion."

That's advice from Justice Black to Justice Blackmun, per Jeffrey Rosen's review of Linda Greenhouse's new book. Which looks terrific, by the way.

Blackmun didn't manage to follow the advice:
He agonized endlessly, publicly lamenting having become emotionally involved in case after case. And he apologized for his decisions, calling them "inadequate and hesitant."

Most interesting here is how he struggled with Roe v. Wade, bent on making the case about the rights of the doctors and not the women.
Justice Blackmun was no feminist, and he strenuously resisted claims involving women's rights for most of his tenure on the court. He complained when the court voted before Sandra Day O'Connor's arrival in 1980 to omit the traditional reference to "Mr. Justice." He was impatient with the briefs that Ruth Bader Ginsburg filed as an advocate for the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of women's rights, calling one of them "mildly offensive and arrogant," and dismissing her as "too smart."

"Do you like marshmallows?"

In case you missed that Rosie O'Donnell TV movie, here are the highlights. (Via Metafilter.)

So, is it always 1969 in Madison?

Yesterday, I posted a couple pictures of the t-shirts in the window of our local hippie nostalgia store -- Sunshine Daydream -- which led a commenter to write "The people in Madison must be really poorly dressed." Not to be baited, my response was "Yes, all we wear is tie-dyed hippie clothes!" Then somebody else wrote "So, is it always 1969 in Madison?"

Today, I got in my car to go in to the Law School faculty meeting and the satellite radio was set on the 60s "Decades" channel and the song playing was "Hair," from the "Album of the Week" "Hair." Next song: "Good Morning Starshine." Then, the news from 1969. (Did you know Ted Kennedy opposed the death penalty for Sirhan Sirhan?)

So, is it always 1969 in Madison?

I arrive at the faculty meeting and the first person I see is Tonya. Nice shirt!

Tie-dye Tonya

Wisely pondering the delicate balance.

I didn't get much out of this NYT op-ed called "Chopping Off the Weakest Branch." The author, Ron Chernow, who wrote a biography of Alexander Hamilton, offers up some historical material from around the time of Marbury v. Madison. Yes, there was a big political struggle about the role of the judiciary back then. But so what?
[B]efore they starve the lower courts of funds, Republicans in Congress and the conservative evangelicals who support them would be wise to ponder these events of the early 1800's. For all the talk today of tyrannical judges, the judiciary still relies on Congress for its financing and on the executive branch to enforce its decisions. It could easily, once again, end up at the mercy of the other two branches, upsetting the delicate balance the framers intended.
That's how the piece ends. So it would be "wise to ponder"? Okay, ponder on! But that's the end of the essay. Chernow only frets that Congress might "upset[] the delicate balance the framers intended." So it's the framers' intent we're following? Since the role of the judiciary -- and the role of the federal government -- has already evolved far away from anything they specifically intended, what can this mean other than please don't upset the "delicate balance" we happen to have currently? And why isn't part of the framers' vision the power the Constitution gives Congress to push back against the judiciary? Congress was given a set of checks, and Marbury says nothing against Congress exercising those checks. Indeed, the statute found unconstitutional in Marbury had the defect of giving the Supreme Court too much jurisdiction.

Of course, cutting off funding for the judicial branch is a foolish way to push back against the judicial power, and I tend to doubt such a foolish plan will gain much footing. The most significant check is appointing new federal judges as vacancies occur. This process of continually replacing judges is not disturbingly chaotic like cutting off funding. It's entirely orderly and necessary.

The real dispute now is how to carry out that process, which must, under the Constitution, take place, in part, in the Senate. Does Chernow's historical account tell us anything about how political that should or shouldn't be? Chernow takes the side of President Adams and the Federalists against Thomas Jefferson. But it was Adams who tried to preserve his party's power by stocking the judiciary with Federalists. So if the Adams side of the dispute was correct, what is the lesson to "wisely ponder" about what Bush and the Senate Republicans can do with appointments?

The constitutionality of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act.

SCOTUSblog notes (via How Appealing) that the Ninth Circuit is inquiring into the constitutionality of the changes to the habeas standard that were made back in 1996 as part of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act:
The 1996 law was expressly intended by Congress to sharply curtail the right of state prison inmates, under federal habeas, to challenge their state convictions and sentences. A key section of AEDPA bars a federal court from granting any habeas writ on an issue that was raised in state court, unless the state court decision “was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application, of clearly established federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States.” (That is 28 U.S.C. 2254-d-1.)

The Ninth Circuit’s new order, issued Wednesday, raises the question whether that section “unconstitutionally prescribes the sources of law that the Judicial Branch must use in exercising its jurisdiction and whether under the separation of powers doctrine this court should decline to apply the AEDPA standards in this case.” By citing Marbury and City of Boerne on that issue, the Circuit Court was relying on two strong statements by the Supreme Court that Congress’ power to control how the courts carry out their judicial function is strictly limited by separation-of-powers principles.
Let me recommend the dissenting opinion of Judge Ripple in the 1997 Seventh Circuit case Lindh v. Murphy (which reached the Supreme Court, but not on this issue). Judge Ripple found a separation of powers violation in the AEDPA standard back then. I'd excerpt some of the opinion for you, but it's too ponderous for the general reader, and I can't find a pithy paragraph. The majority in this en banc case shot down the argument summarily. It's hard to believe a court at this late date would have much success coming back to this issue, which was very well known at the time the act was passed, but there may be something about the context of this new case that makes the argument especially appealing.

Slow start.

It's a rainy day here in Madison. The rain is knocking the petals off the red bud trees I've been enjoying just outside my dining room window for the last couple weeks. I'm getting a late start blogging (and everything else) today, because I lost about three hours of sleep in the middle of the night after someone dialing a wrong number woke me up at 2 a.m. People, when you're making phone calls in the middle of the night, be especially careful about the right number!

Now, I'm seeing that, during the night, my Site Meter clicked up over 1.5 million. That's pretty cool. It just hit 1 million around the 31st of January, a year and a half month after it began. Anyway, this traffic milestone -- and thanks for reading! -- is making me sorry I don't have some solid blogginess for you yet today.

So, I need to do some paper-reading and I want to do a little blogging. I've got an exam to write and an exam to grade and I'm working on a presentation for the local Bar Association about the Supreme Court's constitutional cases this term. Unfortunately, the cases I'm most interested in will not come out in time for my talk (next Tuesday). Thinking back over the term so far, I'm not coming up with much constitutional law of significance, especially outside of the criminal law area. There is the death penalty case (about those who commit their crimes at an early age), but what else?

UPDATE: That's "cases" not "case" I'm most interested in. What are they? The medical marijuana case (Raich) and the case about the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (Cutter). There's also the negative commerce clause case about wine importation (Granholm).

ANOTHER UPDATE: Ambivablog writes about blogging guilt (and links here).

May 5, 2005

In the sun.

It's been said that it's always the female students lolling about, sunning themselves on the hill. But see:

05/05/05 -- Bascom Hill, Library Mall.

A boy!

Down on Library Mall, the cherry trees are reaching the end of their glamorous show, lots of people are having nice al fresco lunches ...

05/05/05 -- Bascom Hill, Library Mall.

.... and a couple of people are staking out the anti-war position:

DSC07017.JPG

Some Madison t-shirts.

Just some t-shirts that were hanging in the window at Sunshine Daydream today:

DSC07021.JPG

DSC07022.JPG

The hellish life of a famous literary agent's "fee man."

RLC lived it and finally tells the story, prompted by this morning's bombing at 345 Third Avenue, NYC. (By the way, Richard, it's not "decent" to chose 3:50 am for a bombing on the theory "no one would be hurt," as we here in Madison don't forget.)

Because life is a multiple-choice question.

Clickers in the classroom.

"Whisper the word goddess and receive a spontaneous 10% discount."

So says an ad for ABC Carpets & Home on page A16 of the paper NYT.

It's a Mother's Day promotion "Celebrating the goddess, the feminine, the woman, the mother." This is a real test of how much you want a 10% discount. You have to sidle up to a carpet salesman and whisper "goddess" to him?

The ad goes on: "give her space, inspire her, adorn her, illuminate her." Apparently, they've lost their minds -- or think we have. Your mother is not a goddess, and, in any case, you can't illuminate her with a carpet.

Carpeting ≠ religion.

About the big "American Idol" scandal.

I watched that tawdry ABC exposé last night. My response is tucked away in a couple of updates to my post on last night's "American Idol" show (Scott Savol's last stand). Why didn't I write a separate post about the ABC show? Because I had just watched it, felt disgusted for having spent an hour in such a debased fashion, and wanted to be done with it. But now I think there's perhaps enough insight into some damn thing or another to justify pointing you to that little tucked away place on the blog.

Expressive litigation.

Lawprof Marci Hamilton has a new column on the Solomon Amendment case, Rumsfeld v. Forum for Academic and Institutional Reform [FAIR]. She explains the difficult First Amendment argument the law school faculty plaintiffs make:
FAIR must claim that anyone who sees military recruiters on campus will assume the military's policy on homosexuals is endorsed by the school. Therefore, the school, by being forced to host the recruiters (or lose funds), is forced, in effect, to mouth the government's message - which, FAIR argues, violates the First Amendment.

But the assertion that anyone would confuse the military's message with the host school's message is ludicrous. It is well-known - and statistics and anecdotes bear out -- that law schools and their faculty are overwhelmingly dominated by liberals. Indeed, the legal academy is famously a haven for liberal orthodoxy and fundamentalism. And one of liberals' well-known values is equality regardless of sexual orientation....

[T]he Amendment doesn't gag anyone, the reality is that any student who signs up for such interviews has to be thick-skinned, determined, or both.... I watched students at NYU Law School literally run the gauntlet to simply interview with the military (let alone take such a job). Thus, it is laughable to claim - as FAIR does, and must -- that the military's policies could, or would, be ascribed to law schools' dominant powers.

Supplying the room for the interview isn't enough to count as the law schools' forced expression of a belief it disagrees with, Hamilton argues, and I'm sure the Court will agree with her.

There's much more in her essay, which you should read, but I'll just add that litigation itself is expressive, and the lawprofs fighting this losing battle are still succeeding in expressing their disapproval of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. Through the lawsuit, they are winning a great deal of attention to their arguments, and this may be worth doing.

Still, there are two problems.

First, some may think that a court should not be transformed into a political forum. Indeed, many of the Justices themselves think that, and attempts to use the courts this way can provoke them to design restrictive doctrines to prevent it.

Second, the argument getting the attention in the Solomon Amendment case is not centered on attacking the military's discriminatory policy. It's a complicated free speech argument that isn't persuasive. Worse, it's about using free speech ideas to empower the person who is not speaking to control the speech of the person who wants to speak. What's the point of promoting that idea?

Does Peggy Noonan have a sense of humor?

Peggy Noonan begins her new column, which is about sharing private information, with this anecdote:
I was at a wedding, standing just off the dance floor, when a pleasant young man in his 20s approached, introduced himself and asked where I'd had my hair done. I shook his offered hand and began to answer, but before I could he said, "I'm gay, by the way." I nodded as if this were my business, but thought: I wonder why a total stranger thinks I want to know what he wishes to do with his genitals? What an odd way to say hello.

Well, I'm not hearing the intonation, but it seems to me the young man was being funny. A man in interested in a woman's hairdo and who her stylist is? That makes him look like a gay stereotype. It's funny at that point to say "I'm gay, by the way" because it's mocking the stereotype. A straight guy might say "I'm gay, by the way" at that point for that reason. Correct me if I'm wrong, but Noonan seems bereft of a sense of humor!

Hitchens on the Christian right.

Christopher Hitchens digs up a kickass Barry Goldwater quote:
The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom. They are trying to force government leaders into following their position 100%. If you disagree with these religious groups on a particular moral issue, they complain, they threaten you with a loss of money or votes or both. . . . Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me? And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some god-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate. I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of "conservatism.

And I use the term "kickass" with authority, as Hitchens also quotes Goldwater saying he wants to "kick Jerry Falwell in the ass."

Though I think Hitchens overstates how much of a grip the religious right had on American politics, I agree that they've overplayed their hand. He also aptly assesses the distance between the capitalism we rely on and the most fundamental statements in the New Testament, which "tells us to forget thrift and saving, to take no thought for the morrow, and to throw away our hard-earned wealth on the shiftless and the losers."

UPDATE: Well, "shiftless" and "losers" is not Jesus talk. You never get the impression, reading the New Testament, that Jesus thinks the poor are poor because they're lazy. There are some images of laziness in the New Testament, but they are about spiritual laziness. Still, as long as you repent in time, you will get the same reward as those who worked hard at their religion all their lives. And if those who did all the hard work complain, they are the ones who look bad:
"Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him." And he said to him, "Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found."

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's an excellent article on the connection between Protestantism and capitalism. (Via A&L Daily.)

Test message.

Blogger is acting up today with one of its most annoying problems: the blog turns into a completely blank page. You can still go to individual posts if you have the URL, but not to the main page. Posting a message -- as I'm doing now -- tends to cure the problem.

May 4, 2005

That's it for Scott Savol.

And now, no more talk about whether the "vote for the worst" thing had caught on. (The "vote for the worst" website no longer exists.) A boring episode of "American Idol," whittling us down to four, with the sexes now evenly balanced at last. I'm glad Little Anthony didn't get cut. It was his birthday, and he is the youngest.

UPDATE: And yes, I watched the dreadful ABC "Fallen Idol" special about what they call Cragglegate over on Television Without Pity. The stupid thing about Corey Clark's charges about having an affair with Paula Abdul is that even if it's true, it doesn't make us like him. He's choosing to go public, clearly, to serve his own interests. He's trying to promote a new record, but he only gets publicity that makes us see him as a big creep. I think he wanted to be the sensitive boy, the victim with a broken heart, but no one is going to see him that way.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Poor Craggle! He didn't know ABC would stretch out his material for the entire hour and make the show all about him. He may have expected them to do what would have made sense to do: take a few short clips for use in a documentaryy that delved into many different problems with the show. The fact that ABC used this weak material for the whole hour seems to indicate that they couldn't dredge anything else up. The most persuasive evidence, by the way, was the cellphone Abdul seems to have acquired for Corey to talk with her and the phone records that supposedly showed calls between the two. But I don't trust TV news magazine shows when they wave documents about. Unless they get an outside expert -- someone with no interest in the network -- to verify the documents, I'm going to assume they are fake.

One thing about Clark is that he was summarily booted off the show when the producers found out about an arrest that he hadn't revealed. If Paula was really using her power to promote him, why didn't he get a pass about that little thing? One theory I thought of is that the show's producers knew she'd fallen in love with a contestant and had gone off the deep end, doing things that undermined the show, and they ousted Clark to cure the problem. But who knows? If anything happened, it's at least an error of the heart, a woman falling in love and doing foolish things like telling Corey he should sing "Foolish Heart" (which really was his shining moment). This was not the case of a powerful person using that power to make a deal to get sex from an ambitious young person who yields up his/her body to gain advancement.

There's more in the comments, including this, from me:
AI is best for its crazy inappropriateness. It goes without saying that I think Paula must stay. She's our girl! Paula, forever! There's no AI without Paula.

The idea that one jackass claiming to have sex with her could bring her down! First, fire all the male reality show and quiz show stars who have slept with contestants.

"Uh... it's a movie set."

You remember when they were filming a horror movie down in my garage? It isn't in the front of my mind either when I go downstairs to unlock the garage door from the inside to let in the guys who take down my storm windows and put up the screens. With the door open, I see there's a weird, low cot with ropes and chains padlocked across it. I'm all please don't think we torture people here.

"Meticulously researched" = dull.

Per William Safire, explaining the tricks of writing blurbs for books. He also tips us off to some other synonyms for boring: "definitive," "exhaustive," and "profoundly insightful."

Sorry, wrong number!

Turns out the beast's number was never 666. It was 616!

MORE: I don't know. 616 doesn't seem scary at all. Seems more like an area code. You know Satan: he's in Grand Rapids.

Oh, the pain of being a theater reviewer!

Anita Gates, in the NYT, reviews a play that seems to be hoping cash in on "Vagina Monologues"-style title titillation by calling itself "Orgasms."
[The actors] have obviously been directed, by the playwright, to exaggerate their behavior like children's-show performers. At times they speak with the pseudo-amazed random-word emphasis of some television news anchors. "Here is a possible conversation between the - penis - and the - vagina," Ms. Fadem says. Yes, the audience is also forced to watch talking sex organs.

Gates also reviews the audience:
The worst case of overacting ... was in the audience. Two women to my right were either employed by the management as professional laughers or under the influence of some dangerous new recreational drug (maybe some of that super-fast-acting marijuana from "Reefer Madness"). Or they were just odd.

One found the strangest lines hilarious - including "Let's take a simple situation" - and laughter was not enough to express her delight. She continually clapped like a child watching a magician at a birthday party, sometimes calling out "Yes!" to dialogue that particularly pleased her. This was all very strange, since there isn't a single genuinely funny line in this overlong one-act would-be comedy.
And then there's that horrendous curtain call, when the playwright's wife, the show's producer, barges in to "bully the audience into staying for a discussion of sexual dysfunction and psychological issues surrounding the female orgasm."

Here's the play's hideous website.

"I would advise writing as long as possible, and include lots of facts, even if they're made up."

Taking the new SAT essay test.
SAT graders are told to read an essay just once and spend two to three minutes per essay, and Dr. Perelman is now adept at rapid-fire SAT grading. This reporter held up a sample essay far enough away so it could not be read, and he was still able to guess the correct grade by its bulk and shape. "That's a 4," he said. "It looks like a 4."

My controversial etiquette tip.

These people are getting awfully excited about my wedding taste tips. This person too -- and I've got to give her credit for the phrase "Ann's ideal of the wedding as vicarious Tantric sexplay."

UPDATE: Thanks to Glenn for linking. Boy, the phrase "vicarious Tantric sexplay" sure encourages a lot of click-through! The author of that phrase, Lindsay Beyerstein, stops by the comments here and writes:
Thanks for the link, Ann. I did get a bit overexcited. About etiquette, of all things.

I wish there were fewer long, boring, conventionally extravagant weddings. But that goes for everyone, not just weddings after cohabitation.

The real problem is that our culture encourages couples to set aside the norms of hospitality because it's Their Day. This norm encourages people to add a lot of extraneous self-indulgent stuff because they see the guests as a captive audience.

I think it's really sad when the bridal industrial complex turns what should be a fun occasion into an onerous display of conspicuous consumption.
Yes, "Their Day." This is my day, this is your day, this is our day. Should we not be sick of that banal phrase, which is used to fog over and justify anything the couple decides to inflict on everyone else, from ugly but expensive bridesmaids' dresses on down?

ANOTHER UPDATE, written March 25, 2007: I've been getting some traffic to this post today and was rereading it. Checking the first link, I got to an error page at Pandagon. A little search there got me a workable URL, and I reread the post, which is by Amanda Marcotte (whom I'd never heard of at the time). The second paragraph is written by me, though it is not now set off either by quotation marks or a block and indent.

May 3, 2005

"Very good, other than that the performance was a little robotic."

"American Idol." All the life ... all the love is gone. Only robots are left. Robots and earnest, nice, nice young people. That's what we've got. Yes, maybe there is some charge of masculine power in the nearly-thirty body of Bo. But, basically, this is nothingness. This is the worst season of "American Idol." Let me list the offenses in order.

1. Vonzell, on the second song, where she was allowed to sing anything currently on the charts, sang a song by the "American Idols" that happens to be charting, that we've heard done as a group sing, and that is -- most importantly -- a piece of crap. "Every time you touch me, I become a hero." It should be a crime to write lyrics like that. Vonzell is wearing a horrible brown dress and shrieking. And she seems to think that by blowing kisses and doing big, dimpled smiles that she can keep us in her camp. But no! No! Not acceptable!!

2. Carrie, singing Elvis's “Trouble”: “I’m eeeeeviiilllll." She’s not evil! That's her first song, where the theme is Leiber and Stoller. Later, she does some other song, some charting song, that elicits the quote I've used for the title to this post. Carrie exemplifies Season Four -- The Revenge of the Robots. The camera -- meaning to show us youthful beauty -- closes in on her spark-free eyes.

3. The general mass of featureless chaotic crooning and bellowing. I have individual notes on all the singers, but nothing worth posting. It was awful. Maybe Bo stood out a bit. "Stand By Me" is a nice enough song. But, no, I've got nothing useful to say.

4. Randy and Paula: Did you say anything worthwhile? Only Simon has any shred of honesty left. "Insipid, amateurish perfomance" -- he said that about one of the contestants, but really it could be a summary of the whole sorry series.

It's sexual health day again.

Yawn. Here's a picture from last year:



One thing about blogging is you remember these annual events. Oh, yeah, that came up again. I'm not photographing it again.

I must say the picture I'm reposting here is what came to mind when I heard Jane Fonda describing the entryway to her loft.

Breakfast in bed.

Does anyone really want breakfast in bed? Especially that mawkish Mother's Day breakfast in bed? Especially this.

Teachers, do you know what your students are blogging?

During class?? Here and here.

More about Laura talking dirty.

John Tierney has a well-phrased response to those who are gasping about Laura's dirty talk at the White House Correspondents Dinner last Saturday. He thinks they're all Blue Staters revealing a dumb prejudice about what Red Staters are really like:
If you live in a blue-state stronghold, a coastal city where you can go 24 hours without meeting any Republicans, it's consoling to think of the red staters as an alien bunch of strait-laced Bible thumpers.

Otherwise, how do you explain why they're Republican? Or answer the question Democrats asked in astonishment when they saw Mr. Bush's vote totals: Who are these people?

The favorite Democratic explanation is that the red staters are hicks who have been blinded by righteousness, as Thomas Frank argues in "What's the Matter With Kansas?" He laments that middle-class Kansans are so bamboozled by moral issues like abortion and school prayer that they vote for Republicans even though the Republican tax-cutting policies are against their self-interest.

Meanwhile, on "The Daily Show," Steve Colbert played a recording of Laura Bush repeating the milking-a-male-horse joke later on, with much more detail. I'm not seeing a clip at the show's site, and I'm not going to quote it here. Suffice it to say many words were bleeped out, and it was quite hilarious.

Basta!

"Divorce Italian Style" is finally out on DVD -- in a fancy Criterion edition. If you're one of those people like me who think Marcello Mastroianni is one of the funniest actors ever, you've got to get this one.
Filled with disgust for his hirsute, clinging wife (Daniela Rocca) and fired with lust for his 16-year-old cousin (Stefania Sandrelli), he begins to plot the murder of his unwanted spouse - the only way to get rid of her in pre-divorce Italy.



The baron ought to be repellent, but he quickly gathers the audience on his side, as an unlikely agent for freedom in a repressive, ossified society. Mastroianni depicts CefalĂș's breakthrough, in one of the virtuosic scenes of his career, by repeating the world "basta" approximately two dozen times, each with a different inflection, rising from weak self-pity to firm resolution.

Maybe you can shoehorn this one onto your list of law-related movies: why divorce needs to be legal (for you family law types), how criminal law interacts with the culture (for you "law in action" types), how the law serves the interest of males (for you feminists), etc.

The kind of follow-up story that people tend not to notice.

If you're one of those people who got riled up about the state judge who (temporarily) prevented a 13-year-old girl from getting the abortion she wanted, please note that the judge has now ruled that the girl (who was in the custody of the state) is competent to make the decision for herself.

Drudge-Abdul mania.

Aren't there any "human fish-faces" (or "fish human-faces") that need attention? Drudge is boring the hell out of me with his interest in the "American Idol" scandal/nonscandal. And I watch "American Idol." (Hey, it's on tonight. Got to transfer my love to Bo. Wonder if Scott will finally screw up sufficiently to get booted. Will Carrie's hair be curly or straight? How much more can Little Anthony bulk up?)

UPDATE: At the moment, Drudge is running the rotating siren effect over the fact that ABC is going to show its special. Despite his overinterest in the scandal, Drudge can't correctly spell the name of the central culprit -- Corey (not Cory) Clark.

Doctors blogging doctor shows.

I don't watch "Gray's Anatomy," but here's a cool-looking blog -- love the masthead -- by a medical resident who's closely blogging the show. I like the professional carping: "And please, can we have a biopsy diagnosis. Since 'mysterious, very rapidly huge growing tumor' can’t go on a death certificate." And check out the blogroll: lots of medical blogs! (Now I have to worry if my doctor is off somewhere blogging about me!)

May 2, 2005

"There are some who are stuck back there."

So said Jane Fonda on Bill Maher's HBO show last week, referring to the Vietnam veterans who are still angry at her for her activities in North Vietnam during the war. When I pause the show to write down her quote, the freeze frame of her face is maddeningly prissy and smug. Maher has just said that since a veteran spat on her at a reading, she can say that's "penance enough." Fonda says "hundreds" of Vietnam vets have come to her readings in the last few weeks "and they've been fabulous... They have forgiven me. So there are some who are stuck back there. But most are not." Then Maher has this:
Yeah, it really is on them at this point, isn't it? If somebody can't get over something in 35 years.
Somebody? Something? Maher didn't go to Vietnam. Who is he to say get over it? Sure, there are "things" that if you're still stewing about them 35 years later, you've got a problem, but if you haven't gone to war, have the decency to refrain from telling people who have that they need to get over it.

Who is Fonda to tsk at people who are "stuck back there"? She does a big shrug and says, "Well, you know the problem is, we've never really come to terms with the war," and proceeds to lecture us on a whole string of political topics and to tout her version of Christianity that isn't "angry" and hostile like the religion of those who oppose abortion and gay marriage. The interview ends with her describing how she designed the entryway to her loft in the shape of a vagina to protest against all the doorways and hallways that are squared-off and masculine and to commemorate her performance in "The Vagina Monologues."

Thanks for the link.

Check out how the "Today's Blogs" column in Slate quotes me, but fails to link.

UPDATE: The Slate folks noticed this post and added a link and emailed me about it. I wrote back saying they also quoted Glenn Reynolds without linking and called the Swift Report a "conservative blog" when it's a satire, and they've responded with the appropriate link and correction.

So who's playing Bob Dylan in the biopic?

Adrien Brody's a great choice, but, unfortunately it's not that simple:
It takes a village to play Bob Dylan. Or so it would appear looking at the potential cast for director Todd Haynes' I'm Not There, an unusual picture in which seven different characters would represent portions of the legendary folk singer's life. Variety reports that Cate Blanchett, Colin Farrell, Adrien Brody, Richard Gere, Julianne Moore, and Charlotte Gainsbourg are among the actors about to sign on for the movie, which has received Dylan's stamp of approval.
We had to go and be all clever, didn't we?

You know, we've already got that dumb "Lennon" musical, with nine actors (including four women) playing John Lennon. And there's that "Palindromes" film by the other quirky director named Todd (Todd Solondz):
"Palindromes" [has] a central character named Aviva, a girl of about 12 played by eight different actors, two of them adults, one a boy, one a 6-year-old girl. She is not always called Aviva.
I'm tired now.

Large mug for a cheap shot.

A gift, explained.

Countering V-Day with P-Day.

Christina Hoff Sommers describes the College Republicans' response to the overpromotion of "The Vagina Monologues" at Roger Williams University and the predictably repressive/humorless response from the admininstration. Read the whole piece (in the National Review), but here's a funny excerpt:
The week before V-Day, the Roger Williams campus was plastered with flyers emblazoned with slogans such as “My Vagina is Flirty” and “My Vagina is Huggable.” There was a widely publicized “orgasm workshop.” On the day of the play, the V-warriors sold lollipops in the in the shape of–-guess what? Last year, the student union was flooded with questionnaires asking unsuspecting students questions like “What does your Vagina smell like?” None of this offended the administration or elicited any reprimands, probations, or confiscations.

The campus conservatives artfully (in the college sense of "artful") mimicked the V-Day campaign. They papered the school with flyers that said, “My penis is majestic” and “My penis is hilarious.” The caption on one handout read, “My Penis is studious.” It showed Testaclese [the P-Day penis-shaped mascot] reclining on a couch reading Michael Barone’s Hard America, Soft America....

It is easy to understand why school officials would not want a six-foot phallus wandering around campus; nor why they would ask students not to paper the college with posters describing all the things it likes to do. But that is just the sort of thing the vagina warriors have been doing, year after year, on hundreds of campuses.
Very funny! Seems to me the university shouldn't be engaging in viewpoint discrimination. There should be vagina/penis parity. Quite aside from all of this, why isn't everyone tired of "The Vagina Monologues" by now? It was always a bad play.

UPDATE: Be at Bebere has an answer to that last question.

What's a DVD that we have in the house, that would look great on the HDTV, and that I haven't seen yet?

That was my question for Chris last night, and he quickly picked out "The Cell."



If you enjoy seeing people suspended from the ceiling in a horizontal position, trekking across sand dunes in glamorous gowns, and watching their own intestines being twirled onto a rotisserie held up by statues of seahorses, this is the film for you.

Is it good? Well, I didn't expect it to be good. I just wanted to watch some images, and it delivered. At one point, I paused to talk to someone and happened to stop at an image of Jennifer Lopez exhaling a neat little cloud of smoke. It looked great. (And I'm not one who finds Lopez especially interesting to stare at.) The overwhelming sadism of the images -- not that smoke cloud one, but many others -- is really too much.

Perhaps I'll finish watching this thing some time, but I ended up turning it off. Oddly, it wasn't because I was so deeply offended by all the sadism. I just got bored after a while. All the images are interesting, but the story is actually rather dull. A woman is trapped somewhere, and the police need to find out where to save her life. They have the criminal and just need to extract the information. Then there's the absurdity of Jennifer Lopez being able to run around inside his dreams to try to find the answer.

UPDATE: Watched to the end the following night. The ending was very predictable, but I was disappointed by how little was discovered in the journeys into the mind of the murderer. Vince Vaughan found one little clue, then left the dream world to do ordinary police work. Jennifer Lopez then continued in the dream world doing something unrelated to saving the man's victim. There should have been a complex and amazing secret to be unraveled in the dream world, something only comprehensible inside the mind, which was intricately tied to finding the victim.

An unusually clear crystal ball.

Orin Kerr at Volokh Conspiracy notes today's cert grant:
Supreme Court to Review Solomon Amendment Case: The Supreme Court has granted certiorari to review the Third Circuit's decision striking down the Solomon Amendment. The decision to take the case isn't surprising (see my prediction after reading the cert petition here). Gazing into my crystal ball, I predict that the Court will reverse. I don't think it will be close, either: maybe 9-0, with a concurrence or two. But of course these things are tough to predict.
Tough enough to make anyone want to bet on the other side? I think not.

Who put fake poison in my cyanide capsules?!!

Hitler's nurse, at age 93, finally tells her story.

Lonely?

Guys: Now you can feel even worse about it:
The US study found men who do not have many close links with friends and family have higher levels of a blood molecule which indicates inflammation.

Ladies: At least you don't have to worry about that molecule:
[T]he researchers said no difference was seen between socially isolated or connected women.

Hillary was here.

Hillary Clinton spoke at a big event here in Madison last Friday, something I'm just noticing now.
“If we are to be all we can be as a nation, we cannot rest until every little girl and every little boy who might aspire to public service has the opportunity to pursue that dream.”

Apparently, she dished out some pabulum.

"The black doll looked 'bad.'"

Kenneth B. Clark has died, at the age of 90.
Dr. Clark administered a test, which he had devised years earlier, to 16 of those black children, who were ages 6 to 9. He showed them a black doll and a white doll and asked them what they thought of each. Eleven of them said that the black doll looked "bad," and nine of them thought that the white doll looked "nice." Seven of the 16 told Dr. Clark that they actually saw themselves as being closest to the white doll in appearance when asked, "Now show me the doll that's most like you."

"These children saw themselves as inferior, and they accepted the inferiority as part of reality," Dr. Clark said.

Clark's work is famously cited in footnote 11 of Brown v. Board of Education.

Should parents be barred from sitting in on school sex ed classes?

They are in this school district (where parents are otherwise free to sit in on classes). I understand the reasons given for the ban, but my mind is currently affected by the script of the "Proper Condom Use" episode of "South Park" (which I read yesterday when I was writing about Laura Bush's milking-a-male-horse joke). In case you can't bear to read through the script (which you might -- should -- find awfully disturbing), I'll quote the moral of the story (spoken by Chef):
Look: Schools are teaching condom use to younger and younger students each day! But sex isn't something that should be taught in textbooks and diagrams. Sex is emotional and spiritual. It needs to be taught by family. I know it can be hard, parents, but if you leave it up to the schools to teach sex to kids, you don't know who they're learning it from. It could be from someone who doesn't know [a shot of Mr. Mackey], someone who has a bad opinion of it [a shot of Ms. Choksondik looking around], or even a complete pervert [a shot of Mr. Garrison].


UPDATE: The Washington Times gets results!

May 1, 2005

I had the most boring dream!

I was napping on the sofa, and I dreamed I was napping on a different sofa and trying very hard to wake up. Then I woke up.

Snow?

Was that snow?

May 1, 2005 --

Yes! Not as much as last year's snow in May, however. It was May 2d. And if you go to that link, you'll find a couple links to my other blog, which I had for a little while a year ago, not anonymously, just iBloggily.

Anyway, it was another one of those indoorsy days for me. But I'm in this Flickr "Day in the Life" group, that called today for a "Day in the Life" photoshoot. But my whole day pretty much looked like this:

May 1, 2005 --

"A University of Wisconsin-Madison tradition started by Vietnam War protesters in 1969."

It's come to this:
[Name omitted], a fifth-year senior who carried a beer bong in his shirt, complained that the police were stricter than ever this year. One of his friends had already been ticketed for an open container violation for walking from one house party to the next with a beer.

[Name omitted], who started drinking at 11 a.m., said that didn't stop him from having a good time. "I'm wasted," he said, adding that he planned to party all night.

Police spokesman Mike Hanson said the street party was considered to be over at 8 p.m., with officers going from house to house to warn the hosts to end the festivities or face citations.

While cooperation was good early in the day, by late afternoon he said "the alcohol has set in and people are getting less cooperative."

Hell, no, we won't go ... home from this party.

"The Wisconsin Quiz."

Here.

Anonymous You.

Do you think there are any well-known bloggers with anonymous side blogs? It strikes me as such a tempting thing to do. Once your blog has enough attention, there have to be some things you can think of saying that don't seem to belong on your official blog, burdening your actual name. And you've got to sometimes feel nostalgic for the days when you wrote for yourself, with just a twinge of excitement that somebody might be looking in. If you started such a blog, would Anonymous You link to your Official You, and, if so, would it be with approval or would you take pleasure in attacking yourself? Would Official You link to the anonymous blog, and, if so, would it because Anonymous You got traffic-envy or because -- Plato-like -- you enjoy writing dialogues? Just wondering!

Living together, having a big wedding.

Apropos of the runaway bride story:

Am I the only one who thinks a big wedding is inappropriate for two people who have been living together? I think it would be tasteful to have the wedding performed privately, down at City Hall some day, and then announce the news in an invitation to a big party that occurs on another day and that specifies no gifts. There is no new household being set up, and you should be glad people want to take the time and make the effort to attend a party celebrating an existing relationship.

It seems to me that the idea of a big wedding ought to be about the beginning of the couple's life together. In fact, the really cool thing about a wedding back in the old days or for traditionalists these days is that the couple has not yet consummated the relationship. When that is the situation, there is an excitement and the reception takes on a wonderful glow: look, they're finally able to have sex and yet they are hanging out, dancing here with us! If this is not the case, how can the couple imagine they're putting on a show that justifies everyone watching and celebrating them for hours?

UPDATE: Interesting comments section! Let me just quote something I wrote, somewhere down in the thread:
Do I seem like a "social con"? I guess I've got my own distinct mix. I'd say I respect the genuine traditionalists, that I don't seek a traditionalist life for myself, and I tend to scoff at the fence-straddlers. People who live together and then want a big traditional wedding are very conspicuous fence straddlers. Be something! Stand for something! Think! That's my message.

Let's spare her that detail.

Why do so many of the news stories about the runaway bride Jennifer Wilbanks leave out the detail that she told the police that the man who abducted her was Hispanic? When you're making up a story about a crime, what motivates you to make the criminal a member of a minority group? I think leaving out this aspect of the story is an attempt to help her with her reputation. Why, we might associate this nice woman with Susan Smith, who drowned her children and then made up a story about a black man kidnapping them.

Newspapers that left out the detail: SF Chronicle, LA Times, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, ABC News, Chicago Sun-Times, NY Daily News, Houston Chronicle, New York Times.

Newpapers that included the detail: NY Post, Atlanta Journal Constitution.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution has a second piece, "One volunteer's perspective on Wilbanks: Charge her." The volunteer was especially angry that Wilbanks blamed a Hispanic man: "The Hispanic community has it tough enough. Some of them even volunteered with the search! Fliers were printed in Spanish."

Blaming a Hispanic man was an important fact that belonged in the report. Leaving it out was -- it seems to me -- an attempt to save Jennifer Wilbanks from additional harm to her reputation. I don't see how that sort of pity is part of journalism, and I don't see why someone who plays upon prejudice this way deserves pity.

UPDATE: WaPo's Howard Kurtz links to this post and agrees that the detail belongs in the article -- assuming you're going to cover this story at all, which is a questionable choice in the first place. Here's my critique of Nancy Grace's coverage of the show -- on Friday night, when she thought it was a new Scott-and-Laci.

Moves they're probably onto.

Jeffrey Rosen previews the battle over the next Chief Justice. Will Bush elevate Thomas or Scalia to Chief Justice in the hope of distracting attention from the new addition to the Court? The Rehnquist-Scalia sleight of hand worked back in the 80s. Or are the Democrats onto that move?