September 30, 2006

Feeling Superior.

Hey, I've got a great idea. A great lakes idea. Let's drive all the way up to Lake Superior. I've never seen Lake Superior, and I've lived in Madison for 22 years. I've barely gone north of Wausau. Never seen the North Woods. Fall foliage is peaking up there. We can drive the whole way up in one day, take these officially scenic routes -- 2 and then 13. We'll check out Ashland and Bayfield -- and then drive the whole damned way back. All in one day!

Lake Superior

Lake Superior

Lake Superior

Terse.

Curse?

McCain.

Chicane?

Killer:

"Spiller!"

Ugly?

America?

Pentacle.

Pentagon?

Rubes.

Boobs.

September 29, 2006

Pissy.

Chessy.

Foley.

Folly.

"You do not create terrorism by fighting terrorism."

Said President Bush today. "If that ever becomes the mind-set of the policymakers in Washington, it means we'll go back to the old days of waiting to be attacked -- and then respond."

I caught a glimpse of this on the TV -- I was in that restaurant and didn't hear the audio -- and I was stunned by how rejuvenated the President looked. Reading the text now, I'm thinking these congressional victories have transformed him.

The restaurant where I had a very late lunch alone...

... looks so lonely in the photographs.

Old Fashioned restaurant

Old Fashioned restaurant

Old Fashioned restaurant

ADDED: That ketchup and mustard, it's ironic, right? No one actually needs to squirt such mass quantities of ketchup and -- especially -- mustard on their food. Paired up like that, those two bottles symbolize the couples that should be sitting at the tables but are not. The designer of this retro restaurant -- he is taunting me!

Yes, it was a tad ridiculous to pay $8 million for it...

... but now it isn't even it anymore. You've just constructed a replica of it... and therefore: a monument to your folly.
It was a delicate undertaking, one that required rubberized protective jumpsuits, long tables of medical equipment and more than 224 gallons of formaldehyde. The goal: to replace the decaying tiger shark that floats in one of Mr. Hirst’s best-known works of Conceptual art, “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living.”...

[A]s a result of inadequate preservation efforts, time was not kind to the original, which slowly decomposed until its form changed, its skin grew deeply wrinkled, and the solution in the tank turned murky....

Mr. Hirst acknowledges that once the shark is replaced, art historians will argue that the piece cannot be considered the same artwork.
Yes, exactly.
“It’s a big dilemma,’’ he said. “Artists and conservators have different opinions about what’s important: the original artwork or the original intention. I come from a Conceptual art background, so I think it should be the intention. It’s the same piece. But the jury will be out for a long time to come.’’
People have often asked me how I could go from art school to law school, art being so far removed from law, so very unlike it. But, no, it's not, is it? Original intention. What a wonderful phrase for finessing your interpretation! And may I suggest to Mr. Hirst the notion of a living artwork? Now, that could get you everything you ever want.

It's 1962, Barbie is dressed for a specific event.

What is it? (There is an official correct answer.)

Barbie

Barbie

ADDED: There's also the "official" Althouse blog answer (I've decided).

Distinguished Lecture Series?

Laurie David? It's nice to tell people to use reuseable shopping bags and drive hybrid cars and things like that, but why is the university presenting this as a distinguished lecture? Are there no scholars around to do lectures anymore? Or is Hollywood the source of distinction these days?

"They can crack down on the parties all they want, but it's not going to stop us."

Underage drinking in Madison. The quote is from a 19-year-old UW student. I think a lot of the ugliness described in the article is caused by the too-high drinking age. It's ridiculous that college students aren't allowed to go to a bar or drink at parties, but the dangerous, excessive drinking is another matter entirely.

"We're back to America. We're a melting pot... I love it."

That's the line the "Survivor" editors chose to feature as the segregated teams were integrated in the third episode of the season. So much for the big publicity stunt that got me. It was like some gruesome oversized octopus that slithers its tentacles around your torso and attaches its suckers all over. Speaking of suckers...

Blah! Of course, the pro-integration message is a good one -- it's thoroughly well-scrubbed and wholesome -- but the occasion for saying it was manufactured and the quote itself was extracted from raw footage that no doubt included a lot of grousing and teasing and who knows what. Plus, it came from Parvati, who annoyed the hell out of me last night as she talked to the camera, confessing her scheme of manipulating all the guys on her team with her laughably unsubtle flirting... or as they say over on Television Without Pity, "swooning over the three slabs of hetero manmeat."

Indeed, the fuss about racial difference is over. It never amounted to much, and surely, if anything ugly happened, judicious editing would have kept it from us viewers. And now we can see that it's sex difference that really dominates, not just with Parvati's embarrassing flirting, but with the total capitulation of all the women in the physical challenge. The game consisted of walking in knee-deep water while carrying a 15-pound bag. You could drop out, but only by handing off your bag to one of your teammates. The women all caved right in and left the men holding the bags. Despite the entertainment value of roped-together slabs of hetero manmeat trudging through water, it was pretty disturbing to see the physical disparity depicted so obviously face-slammingly.

Blogging about not blogging about the detainees bill.

Over at Volokh Conspiracy, where commenters had complained about the lack of posts about the detainees bill, Orin Kerr and Ilya Somin have blogged about why they haven't blogged. This is one of the biggest problems for a law blogger. Because you are writing every day about things that happen to be in the news, readers assume that if something in the news is important enough, failure to blog about it means you don't care or you're some kind of fraud. This thinking is magnified when you're a law professor and the news story has legal significance. Yet this may be precisely why you don't blog about it. Unless you have an automatic ideological position -- as many political bloggers do -- you can't just pop out a post. You could put a small block of time into crafting a more thoughtful post, but that would only give it the aura of a legal opinion and you don't want that. Given the complexity of the text under discussion and the legal issues it generates, it is quite resistant to serious blogging by a law professor. Failure to blog should therefore be read as a sign of the law professor's distance from partisanship. It is not that we don't recognize the importance of the matter. It's that we do.

September 28, 2006

Walking home...

I talk on the phone the whole way and the walk goes quickly. In what seems like just a few minutes, I find myself at the entry to the Heights.

Church silhouette

A chorus in the filmosphere: We hate Bush.

That's how I read the first paragraph of this Manohla Dargis movie review:
Is there something in the air, say, the stench of death and decline of empire, to have inspired the recent spate of films about imperial power? Fashionistas of course are already worshiping at the altar of “Marie Antoinette,” with its title bubblehead and hollow charms, while Forest Whitaker devotees are savoring the outré venality of Idi Amin in the rather too enthusiastically entertaining “Last King of Scotland.” Those who think more crowned heads should have rolled in the 18th century, in the meantime, can cozy up to “The Queen,” a sublimely nimble evisceration of that cult of celebrity known as the British royal family.

IN THE COMMENTS: Some purport not to get my point. George, however, does:
You could take the critic's lede sentence and rewrite it as:

"Is there something in the air, say, the manly odor of courage, to have inspired the recent spate of films about staying the course?"

Then you could mention The Guardian, the Kevin Costner Coast Guard movie, Flyboys about WWI aviators, Clint Eastwood's Iwo Jima flick, and the three or four recent football movies.

"Space smells like a 'burned almond cookie.'"

Space blogger.
One night, [Anousheh Ansari] discovered her toes were bruised from gripping bars along the walls of the space station. She informed readers that she uses her big toe to hold herself in one place....
That's a news story about the blog. Here's the blog. Excerpt:
I looked out the window a lot and thought to myself, “I don’t know when I will see this view again.” I tried to play some of my favorite songs. This morning at breakfast I played “Only if you want to” by Enya. It energized me. Throughout the day I kept whistling “Somewhere over the Rainbow” and “My Favorite Things.”

I tried to focus on the positives… Tomorrow I will see my Husband after a long time… I miss him so much. It has been a hard six months for both of us… He is my soul mate. We had been inseparable up until this trip… He has been trying to be the strong tough guy who is the anchor of my life… but I know inside he has been burning up....

My trip is coming to an end but my dreams have just started....

Live long, prosper and be happy my friends…

8 things I did during a phone interview about women political bloggers.

1. Put on my contact lenses.

2. Put on makeup.

3. Flat-ironed my hair.

4. Finished getting dressed (including pants).

5. Checked that the last morning blogpost had published properly.

6. Walked about a mile and a third down to the lake path and in to campus.

7. Admired the clouds.

8. Photographed them.

Lake Mendota

Lake Mendota

Lake Mendota

ADDED: Arty photojournalist is horning in on my cloud-ography concept.

"If you think you've been wronged, it shouldn't take 100 years to investigate the conduct...."

Said Judge Richard Posner at oral argument in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals today in the slavery reparations lawsuit.

"What Do Patricia Dunn and Jeanine Pirro Share in Common?"

Three things!!!

Posts about pants.

I just realized I put up two posts about pants this morning! Uh-oh, now it's three. Cue the Althouse-is-obsessed-with-the-body fiends:

Althouse doesn't seem to be able to deal with the fact that men have legs! Remember how she went insane over the weekend when Bill Clinton showed one inch of shin? I can't believe that woman is a law professor. She probably went to law school because she was thought "legal" meant having to do with legs.

"Fornication pants."

That's a term coined in the 1830s by Brigham Young, who was appalled by pants with buttons visible on the fly. The reminder that pants can be taken off might inflame the passions, because otherwise, you could just forget that clothes are not permanently connected to the body.

Most of the linked article is not fashion, religion, and history. It's present day opinion about blue jeans, like:
I’m especially confused by a style I have lately seen with alarming frequency: the fronts of the legs are light and the inner thighs tinted much darker, giving the wearer not the intended lean-thighed look, but the appearance of someone who is blissfully unaware that she has lost control of her bladder.

"Orphans of the Pacific, you really are orphans now. How will you get home now that all your ships are lost?"

For saying that on the radio in 1944, Iva Toguri D’Aquino -- Tokyo Rose -- was convicted of treason. She died on Tuesday, at the age of 90. Read the whole obituary, here.

And -- to digress -- read this long Q&A with the NYT obituary editor, Bill McDonald. It's quite fascinating. Excerpt:
Q. Goodness. The Obituary Editor. What do people say when they meet you and you tell them your job?...

A. A range of responses. Sometimes it's "Oh, that's, um (long pause) interesting," accompanied by an anxious expression, as if I were wearing a black hood and cape. Others — usually among our millions of devoted readers — will say, "Cool!"
Personally, I think the obituaries are cool. Life stories, told when the story is complete, with each day's selection determined by fate (and editorial judgment).

So, for example, today we see Tokyo Rose along with Edward Albert, the son of Eddie Albert, who played the blind guy in "Butterflies Are Free." And speaking of fate, I see he was exactly my age, which is the sort of thing you notice when you read the obituaries.

Also on the obit page today: "Itsy-Bitsy Bikini, Big Mistake." The Times confesses that it erroneously reported that the man who co-wrote "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini" had died.

There's something so assorted about the assortment of things on the obituary page. Something that I like about it is also what I like about blogging.

Musharref on "The Daily Show."

Did you see Pervez Musharraf do an interview with Jon Stewart the other day? Beautifully done. Loved the Twinkie. And Musharraf was awfully cool -- serious and funny, solid but not stuffy.

"Voters now confront a Republican Party that understands the breadth of the threat but has bungled the central campaign..."

"... and a Democratic Party that is quick to criticize but lacks an understanding of the jihadists and a strategy for confronting them," writes David Brooks, aptly.
Worse, more and more people are falling for the Grand Delusion — the notion that if we just leave the extremists alone, they will leave us alone. On the right, some believe that if we just stop this Wilsonian madness of trying to introduce democracy into the Arab world, we can return to an age of stability and balance. On the left, many people can’t seem to fathom an enemy the U.S. isn’t somehow responsible for. Others think the entire threat has been exaggerated by Karl Rove for the sake of political scaremongering.
If you have TimesSelect, you can read the whole thing. But it's not as though there's an answer to all this.

"My legs would make you ashamed to be a woman."

That's what some reader informed me back in the comments to this old post. I'm trying to get my mind around the idea that the legs of some freakishly storkish man -- he says he's 6'4" and 190 pounds -- would make me ashamed to be a woman.

Anyway, it's fall now. Time for everyone who made the error of wearing shorts to stop for at least 7 months, unless you're playing a sport that requires them or you're somewhere on the globe far from here.

"Our avant-gardist artistic establishment... prefers to exercise its anti-bourgeois animus within the coddled purlieus of bourgeois security."

Brilliant New Criterion editor Roger Kimball writes about the horrendous Hans Neuenfels production of Mozart's opera "Idomeneo":
Mr. Neuenfels's version is Modern German--i.e., gratuitously offensive. It is more Neuenfels than Mozart. Instead of appearing as the harbinger of peace, Idomeneo ends the opera parading the severed heads of Poseidon, Jesus, Buddha and the Prophet Muhammad. How do you spell "anachronistic balderdash"?

Poor Mozart. Mr. Neuenfels is one of those directors more interested in nurturing his own pathologies than in offering a faithful presentation of the geniuses with whose work he has been entrusted.
The production -- which has already been seen, back in 2003 -- seems to be a desecration of Mozart and quite hostile to three religions -- four if anyone's still into Poseidon -- but Deutsche Oper has cancelled the production specifically out of concern for how it will affect Muslims.
There is a certain irony in all this. Our avant-gardist artistic establishment preens itself on being "transgressive," "challenging," "provocative," etc. But it prefers to exercise its anti-bourgeois animus within the coddled purlieus of bourgeois security. It has discovered that there is a big difference between exhibiting photographs of Christ on the cross in a bottle of urine or Madonna having herself "crucified" on her current concert tour and poking fun at Muhammad. The former earns you the delicious obloquy of the Catholic establishment while shoring up your credentials as a brave artistic and moral pioneer. The latter sends murderous hordes into the streets looking for something, or someone, to destroy.

There are plenty of good reasons to refrain from gratuitously insulting other people's religions. For one thing, it is bad manners. One should respect what is respectable in the habits, mores and beliefs of other people.

But this does not mean that we should allow ourselves to be blackmailed by militant fanatics who shelter under the authority of religion and employ the freedoms of Western democracy to attack and undermine those very freedoms.
This is a complex problem. Neuenfels's production takes the easy faux-daring route of "Piss Christ" and the Madonna crucifixion, but at least he had the nerve to hit all religions equality, and not to single out one religion. Perhaps he did that because it wouldn't have made any sense to go after the conventional target of Christianity when it's an opera about the Trojan War. It doesn't make all that much sense to drag Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad into that setting either, but bringing them all in to join their super best friend Poseidon made some kind of crazy sense.

Now that some Muslims have made it painfully obvious that religion-taunting is not an easy game anymore, abandoning it expresses fear, not respect for religion. And continuing to disrespect the religions that don't lash back only highlights that cowardice. Poor transgressive rebel artists! How are they to shock the middle class anymore?

September 27, 2006

"Project Runway."

Michael, who we all think is the nicest contestant, says "I'm going to kill you." Wow. Michael. But he had his reason. Uli got to pick her model before he did, and she took his Nasri. His unniceness is understandable. Nasri is the one model who has stood out all season. (She's the only one whose name I learned.) Her eye is all puffed up today for some reason, but still... She's Nasri. And Uli took her from Michael... our sweetheart... the kindest, gentlest fashion designer ever. Bad Uli. "You have to grab everything which maybe makes your outfit more stunning on the runway," she explains.

The challenge is... anything. And write three words. "Tell a story." "Show your point of view." The usual clichés.

Tension! Michael's stuck. But Uli's relaxed. She's going to be flowy. Laura draws precisely what she wants. Jeffrey's going bizarro, doing the opposite of what they expect. It will be "romantic." The sketch looks awful.

Finally, Michael gets an idea, but he's shot down soon enough by Tim, who says, "You can't just make a pretty dress." But he's hard on them all. To Uli: "Don't. Bore. Nina."

Uli's is the best, and not just because of Nasri. She's completely remade it after the first day. Now, it's not flowy at all. It's short, with a high neck band, and a thin slit down the center. Laura comes in second. Then it seems that either Jeffrey or Michael will go, and both deserve to go based on that challenge. Then, for some crazy reason, they decide to keep them both and eliminate no one. Considering the hard choice that was made cutting the fourth place person in the previous two seasons, it's outrageous that they refused to decide between Jeffrey and Michael when neither had a good claim on the third spot. And Michael's three words were just awful: Sexiness, sensuality, sultry. The all mean the same thing. They all begin with "s." Really, it was Michael who deserved to leave, but Jeffrey was pretty bad too, so they kept them both. Wrong!

It was a cool and -- for me -- not hectic morning.

So that made it a good day to walk to work. (How fortunate I feel to have a job where I have to pause and think whether I want to write "walk to work" or "walk to school.") Along the way, the sky changed, so I got out my camera and took some shots at the peak of Observatory Drive:

University of Wisconsin

University of Wisconsin

Including this one of the observatory:

University of Wisconsin

It was still rather sunny on Bascom Mall when I arrived at my destination:

University of Wisconsin

There is the Beloved Donor Law School Building in the lower right quadrant of that last picture, and I was ensconced in the faculty library there, looking out on the mall when the storm hit. There were even doughnuts left over from this morning's Coffee and Doughnuts presentation. I'll have the glazed. And this coffee. And hours to go before I have to talk about Burnham v. Superior Court. Bliss!

NYT thinks Bush's release of NIE report was politically motivated.

The NYT, under fire for publishing leaked classified information, has this editorial about Bush's release of more of the document that was partially leaked and inaccurately characterized:
It’s hard to think of a president and an administration more devoted to secrecy than President Bush and his team. Except, that is, when it suits Mr. Bush politically to give the public a glimpse of the secrets. And so, yesterday, he ordered the declassification of a fraction of a report by United States intelligence agencies on the global terrorist threat.
Unless you acknowledge the suspicion that you chose to publish a distorted snippet of what was in this report because you wanted to help the Democrats in the fall election, I've got to laugh. And of course, I expect a torrent of comments asking me why I'm still reading the New York Times.

A big WaPo story on the sexy T-shirts teenagers wear.

Come on, should this be a long news story? It's all padded out with phrases that are printed on T-shirts, and surely you get the point after, oh, the fourth one. Or are you telling me it's a serious issue because school officials have to wonder and fret about what, oh, what to do about it?
"We try not to make a huge deal out of it, but we also want to be protecting the school environment," said Rick Mondloch, an associate principal at Robinson Secondary School in Fairfax County, who recently ordered a "Pimps" shirt turned inside out. "These shirts are more risque than they were even five years ago and probably a little more blunt, so you have to be attuned to it."

Robynne Prince, an assistant principal at Eleanor Roosevelt, said: "If there are shirts with obvious sexual connotations, then we know exactly what we're going to do, but there are some students who push the envelope."
Oh, spare me. Why is anyone paid to spend time on this problem? Ban all shirts with any message and move on to trying to do something to educate students. Prince's comment is especially laughable, because it highlights the challenge for those who manufacture those T-shirts teenagers buy: Figure out phrases with sexual connotations that won't be obvious to people who aren't teenagers.

Should I resolve never to answer a telephone survey again?

I'm on the do-not-call list, and when I get a call that slips through one of the loopholes, I usually cut it right off. We do not accept phone solicitations. That's a stock phrase at my end. We do not accept computer-dialed calls at this number. That's what I say when I answer and there's a lag in the response time. But I am sometimes willing to respond to a survey. After last night, however, I think I'm going to add a new stock phrase: We don't do surveys.

I agreed to do a survey, even though I didn't recognize the name of the organization or ask any questions about it. I answered a few questions: how likely am I to vote, my opinion of George Bush, my opinion of Jim Doyle, my opinion of Mark Green (Doyle's Republican challenger in the Wisconsin governor's race). On the latter two questions, I wanted an answer right in the middle, but I couldn't get any closer to the middle than "slightly favorable" or "slightly unfavorable." I said I needed a middle choice. The next question was something like: "Do you think Jim Doyle fights for the middle class?" Now, I think that's a bogus question. Instead of saying, I'm not taking this survey, I once again say I need a choice in the middle. At that point, my questioner says "Thank you for your participation" and rejects me!

On reflection, I assume it was a Doyle campaign operation, seeking to identify voters to prompt to vote on election day. I think it's a fraud to purport to be a survey when that is not your real purpose, and rejecting me before I got it together to reject them irks me so much, I feel like holding it against Doyle. [NOTE: Based on the comments, I believe the call was tied to the Green campaign, so I feel like holding it against Green.]

I don't like to ruin things for the legitimate surveys out there, but I feel ripped off. Should I refuse all surveys in the future or just resolve to be aggressive at that outset and interrogate the telephoner about the nature of the survey? That's a lot of trouble. A phone call disturbs me at home. Why should I permit it to make further inroads into my serenity by dragging me into the role of suspicious interrogator?

September 26, 2006

The day I almost called 911 from a stairwell.

So I put the finishing touches on my notes for a noon hour talk to the Dane County Bar Association and finished my preparation for my two hour 1:20 class and got in the car and drove over to the Monona Hilton where I drove down and down to the lowest level of the garage and parked the car. I took the elevator up with plenty of time to get to the banquet room, settled in, ate some chicken, and took note of the fact that the microphone wasn't working, so I'd have to put some serious energy into projecting my voice to the crowd of 100 lawyers and a few judges. I talked for 55 minutes about the highlights of the last term of the U.S. Supreme Court and left quickly knowing I had 25 minutes to get back to the Law School for my 1:20 class.

The first elevator doesn't want to go anywhere. It keeps chiming and reopening its doors. I get out and get in another elevator, which takes me down to the ground floor but doesn't go all the way down to the lowest level of the parking garage. Is there a stairway? A woman says she knows where there's a stairway, over here, and she's leading me out of the hotel and over to the Madison Club next door. I keep hesitating and saying oh, I don't think I should go that way, but she's sure of it, and I'm still hesitating, so she introduces herself, and I realize she's a Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice, and now I'm willing to go along. I get in the elevator with her, and say I need B1. She pushes a button and the door opens on B4. I can make if from there, surely.

Now I'm out in the stairwell alone, and I assume B1 is up from B4, even though I should remember I'm at the lowest level of the garage. Mistakenly, I run up the stairs. The door -- into the club -- is locked. I look up and see there is no higher door. I run down and find other locked doors. I'm worried about missing class and fighting the thought that I might need to call 911 to get out of the stairwell. I retrace my steps back to the elevator and eventually find a way out of the building and back to the hotel, back to the original elevator bank, and down to my car.

I'm driving like mad, trying to get to class on time. The 60s channel plays Three Dog Night -- "Mama Told Me Not to Come." Oh, yeah, I was just blogging about Three Dog Night the other day. It seems like good luck.

I make it back to my regular parking garage and run to the Law School building and enter by the door next to my classroom, where I arrive exactly on time, but without my books and notes. I tell my ridiculous story and say I need three minutes, rush upstairs for the book and the notes and a cup of coffee and rush back down, breathless, for two straight hours of teaching, including the least teachable Establishment Clause case. (Mitchell v. Helms... ugh!)

Just a crazy lawprof day.

"It will stop all the speculation, all the politics about somebody saying something about Iraq..."

President Bush says about releasing more of the National Intelligence Estimate that was partially leaked the other day. I can't believe the politics and speculation will stop but it's good to have more of the document, here. Excerpt:
United States-led counterterrorism efforts have seriously damaged the leadership of al-Qa’ida and disrupted its operations; however, we judge that al-Qa’ida will continue to pose the greatest threat to the Homeland and US interests abroad by a single terrorist organization. We also assess that the global jihadist movement — which includes al-Qa’ida, affiliated and independent terrorist groups, and emerging networks and cells—is spreading and adapting to counterterrorism efforts....
We assess that the global jihadist movement is decentralized, lacks a coherent global strategy, and is becoming more diffuse. New jihadist networks and cells, with anti-American agendas, are increasingly likely to emerge. The confluence of shared purpose and dispersed actors will make it harder to find and undermine jihadist groups...
We assess that the Iraq jihad is shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and operatives; perceived jihadist success there would inspire more fighters to continue the struggle elsewhere.
• The Iraq conflict has become the "cause celebre" for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of US involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement. Should jihadists leaving Iraq perceive themselves, and be perceived, to have failed, we judge fewer fighters will be inspired to carry on the fight.
So the NIE underscores the importance of victory in Iraq.

Hey, I'm on BloggingHeads.tv!

Watch me with Newsday's Jim Pinkerton, talking on the split-screen. Topics (and times):
Jim McGreevey and the Church of Oprah (06:10)

Bill Clinton and the vast right-wing conspiracy (13:02)

Bill is to Hillary as Chavez is to Ahmadinejad? (05:11)

Leaking just enough intelligence about the effect of the war (12:15)

Did the Pope bumble into the clash of civilizations? (04:49)

Did Bush? (11:30)

Ann brings out the dead bodies (09:46)


ADDED: If you want just the audio, go here.

"We were not left a comprehensive strategy to fight al Qaeda."

Condoleezza Rice responds to the substance of Bill Clinton's FOX News Sunday remarks. That link is to the NY Post article. The NYT report is, by contrast, very minimal, but it does include a line about what she thought of his hot-headed style, as she diplomatically steps back from the invitation to come out and call Clinton a liar: ''No, I'm just saying that, look, there was a lot of passion in that interview.''

Tierney on the “Beyond Bias and Barriers" report.

John Tierney is shocked -- TimesSelect link -- by how "cynical" it was for the National Academy of Sciences to publish its "political tract" about discrimination against female scientists and engineers. There was, he notes, only one man on the 18-person committee, and "he was already on record agreeing with the report’s pre-ordained conclusion: academia must stop favoring male scientists and engineers."

He mocks Donna Shalala (the committee chair) for beginning the report with the story of how she was denied tenure three decades ago and then burying the news that women in science and engineering today are just as likely to get tenure as men.
You can get a sense of its spirit of inquiry from “findings” like this one: “The academic success of girls now equals or exceeds that of boys at the high school and college levels, rendering moot all discussions of the biological and social factors that once produced sex differences in achievement at these levels.”

It may seem moot to the Shalala committee, composed mainly of university administrators and scientists who don’t study sex differences (or are hostile to the idea that they exist). But it’s not moot to the scientists who’ve documented persistent differences.

I consulted half a dozen of these experts about the report, and they all dismissed it as a triumph of politics over science. It’s classic rent-seeking by a special-interest group that stands to get more money and jobs if the recommendations are adopted.

“I am embarrassed,” said Linda Gottfredson of the University of Delaware, “that this female-dominated panel of scientists would ignore decades of scientific evidence to justify an already disproved conclusion, namely, that the sexes do not differ in career-relevant interests and abilities.”
There's a really obvious joke -- just asking to be made -- attributing the lack of scientific rigor to the fact that the panel had so many women on it. But that's just a bad joke. The serious point is that it never was a scientific project. That they let that show is also a joke, but a good one. It saves us the trouble of taking the report seriously, which really isn't a joke at all. There may very well be a real problem in the way women are treated in science and engineering, and they've just encouraged us to shrug it off.

"How can law both benefit from, and constrain, a power that is fundamentally lawless?"

Yale Law Journal has a new symposium issue on executive power. (The quote above is from the introduction (PDF). ) I don't have the time right now to scan the articles and say anything more, but feel free to do that in the comments.

September 25, 2006

"What's human sacrifice... if not sending guys off to Iraq for no reason?"

Mad Mel. Not just for right-wingers anymore.

"[ticked]."

WaPo quotes me, and cleans it up!

"Cyberculture was to be the fulfillment of counterculture."

Edward Rothstein writes about Fred Turner's book “From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism":
Ultimately, of course, such fulfillment was not to be had. But the consequences of the association were profound. One reason for the heady pace of innovation during the 90’s is that the motivation was never purely abstract, but was often accompanied by utopian passions. Software development occurred not just in the private realm, but also among collaborative communities that objected to corporate ownership. Even today’s Wikipedia — the online encyclopedia continuously being written by its users — can be traced to these ideas....

[S]o messianic were expectations, that many failed to see that cyberspace was not really a different realm from the hard-wired world of ordinary experience....
No, no, don't say it. I'm still trying to find counterculture fulfillment!

The "bipartisan love-in" Bill Clinton's "been engaged in over the last several years has resulted in jack-squat."

Says Arianna Huffington interposing deep thoughts for what might otherwise be "popping champagne corks" after Clinton's performance on "Fox New Sunday."

Huh?

Okay, I've got my bearings. You see, Clinton fans thought Clinton ruled. He stuck it to Fox News, you know. They're celebrating. And Arianna's the nerd at the party who wants everyone to sit down and have a serious conversation about what it all means. She begins with the assumption that Bill's been in a "bipartisan love-in," which I take to mean that he's been circumspect and presidential.
I'm glad the Chris Wallace interview is flying all over the internet, but I really hope that one person who will watch it over and over again is Bill Clinton. And that on the fifth or sixth viewing it might occur to him that the more cover he gives Bush and his cronies, the more they're able to increase and entrench their power.
Isn't it disturbing to picture Clinton watching himself on TV over and over again and becoming more and more convinced that he played it just right? Arianna assumes he lacks the intellectual complexity to see in it what people who aren't predisposed to love him find offputting, even shocking. He'd just replay and replay and chortle I rule.

Now that I've seen the reaction on the left, I'm convinced that Clinton went on the show planning to act the way he did. It wasn't Chris Wallace's specific question that set him off. He decided in advance to go on Fox News and unleash an attack on Fox News as soon as when he saw an opening. But he jumped too eagerly at what wasn't really an opening and he jumped weirdly. That he thought he was doing well suggests that he has surrounded himself with people who are pulling him out of the calm, rational center -- what Arianna mocks as a "bipartisan love-in."

But this country is full of people who aren't hotly partisan, who are put off by that strong stuff, and who need to see a demonstration of calm rationality. Now his over-the-top performance is being praised by those people who crowd around him -- that's the real love-in -- and he may succumb to their fawning inducements to hardcore partisanship.

And where is Hillary in all of this? Will she fall into the open arms of the hot partisans too? I'd like to think she's less susceptible to seduction. But it won't help in the long run if her husband inanely cozies up to the kind of people who watched him on Fox News and thought he was just great.

"We must recommit to victory in Afghanistan."

Concludes John Kerry in a WSJ op-ed. Great. Commitment to victory. Does he have anything to say about victory in Iraq?
...the disastrous diversion in Iraq has allowed these radicals the chance to rise again....

Somehow, we ended up with seven times more troops in Iraq--which even the administration now admits had nothing to do with 9/11--than in Afghanistan, where the killers still roam free....

[T]his administration has appropriated nearly four times more in reconstruction funds for Iraq than Afghanistan...

Last year we gave Pakistan only $300 million in economic support, about what we spend in a day in Iraq....
Is commitment to victory in Afghanistan more believable if it comes with commitment to victory in Iraq or if it's presented as an alternative to victory in Iraq?

"I can honestly tell you he never got tired of playing that song."

Danny Flores, RIP. He played the saxophone on the 1957 number 1 hit "Tequila!" You know the lyrics to that song, I bet. Or should I say lyric. And that was Flores growling it.

Don't you just want to get up on the table and dance?

AND: If you're thinking of doing the Pee Wee dance to "Tequila!" and putting on YouTube, you won't be the first.

“I just follow my own common sense... And the hell with the law.”

New York's town and village courts.
Nearly three-quarters of the judges are not lawyers, and many — truck drivers, sewer workers or laborers — have scant grasp of the most basic legal principles. Some never got through high school, and at least one went no further than grade school.

The NYT has done an extensive study of these obscure characters.

September 24, 2006

Audible Althouse #66.

This podcast has a morbid theme! Yet somehow I fall prey to hysterical laughter at one point. You've been warned.

Stream it right through your computer here. But the hysterical and morbid alike fall prey to a subscription on iTunes:
Ann Althouse - Audible Althouse

Unplayable 45s I won't throw out.

Here's "One":

Unplayable 45

This is a perfect example of a song I was embarrassed to like back when it was a big hit but that I'm not the slightest bit embarrassed by today. If you Google "embarrass," the first thing that comes up is Embarrass, Minnesota. I guess I like that.

I don't have much to say about Three Dog Night. Their name is a reference to sleeping with dogs to keep warm. The colder it is, the more dogs you need, so a really cold night is a three dog night, like maybe lots of nights in Embarrass, Minnesota, which I see calls itself "The Cold Spot," and highlights the record low temperatures (-57!).

You could make other band names using the Three Dog Night format -- just an idea for the comments. You know, like: Two Coffee Morning or Ten Blogpost Day. I never bought an album by Three Dog Night. In fact, this single was probably my brother's. Anyway, "One" was written by Harry Nilsson.
One is the loneliest number that you'll ever do
Two can be as bad as one
It's the loneliest number since the number one
And I do have an album by Harry Nilsson, the one most people who have one Harry Nilsson album have: "Nilsson Schmilsson." ("She put the lime in the coconut....")

UPDATE: Don't confuse this "One" with other "Ones." There's:
Darkness imprisoning me
All that I see
Absolute horror
I cannot live
I cannot die
Trapped in myself
Body my holding cell

That's not Harry's song. He also didn't write:
One love
One life
When it's one need
In the night
It's one love

But the song Aimee Mann sings on the "Magnolia" soundtrack: that is the right "One."

I don't usually talk about golf, but...

My nephew Cliff Kresge just won the Oregon Classic on the Nationwide Tour.

Are we safer?

We've heard that question a lot over the past few years. Now:
An intelligence assessment that the war in Iraq increased Islamic radicalism, worsening the terror threat, set off a sharp debate today among American political officials over credit and blame for the war and the broader fight against terrorism....

The new intelligence report, the National Intelligence Estimate, implicitly questioned assertions from Bush administration officials that the United States is now safer from terrorism than it was before Sept. 11, 2001, if not yet entirely safe, and that it would be less so under Democratic leadership.

Comments? You know you have to face up to this.

Clinton on "Fox News Sunday."

You read the transcript yesterday. You saw the clip. Now, you've seen the whole interview. Impressions?

Knowing he was going to get mad, I watched him carefully before he got mad. He had a very relaxed and jovial manner as he mused about his new life of philanthropy. Then Chris Wallace changed the subject and asked this:
When we announced that you were going to be on fox news Sunday, I got a lot of email from viewers, and I got to say I was surprised most of them wanted me to ask you this question. Why didn’t you do more to put Bin Laden and al Qaeda out of business when you were President. There’s a new book out which I suspect you’ve read called the Looming Tower. And it talks about how the fact that when you pulled troops out of Somalia in 1993, Bin Laden said I have seen the frailty and the weakness and the cowardice of US troops. Then there was the bombing of the embassies in Africa and the attack on the USS Cole... And after the attack, the book says, Bin Laden separated his leaders because he expected an attack and there was no response. I understand that hindsight is 20 20.... [T]he question is why didn’t you do more, connect the dots and put them out of business?
Now, Clinton has an answer to this question, and he could have just given it. But he aggressively inserts challenging complaints about Fox News.
I want to talk about the context of which this…arises. I’m being asked this on the FOX network…

So you did FOX’s bidding on this show. You did you nice little conservative hit job on me.
What Wallace asked just doesn't seem to be enough of a "hit job" to justify attacking the interviewer like that. For people who hate Fox News already, it might make sense, but he's on Fox News, being seen by the regular Fox News viewers. How is it a good strategy to rant on the assumption everyone knows Fox News is unfair? He gets irked at Chris Wallace in a personal way: "And you’ve got that little smirk on your face and you think you’re so clever." I hadn't been planning to think about Richard Nixon, but I got a Nixon vibe from this. He lets it show that he thinks about how his enemies are persecuting him.

Clinton leans way forward into Wallace's space. He even jabs him in the knee a few times with his finger. Meanwhile, he seems unaware of his own ungainly body. He's gotten quite fat, and his suits -- which he keeps buttoned -- don't fit him properly anymore. He's sitting with his feet apart and planted on the floor, and the pantlegs get hiked way up so that a wide band of white leg shows above each sock.

In the second half of the interview, he gets back to his original relaxed, jovial style. Pants still hiked up though. Wallace ends the interview, saying "Mr. President, thank you for one of the more unusual interviews." They shake hands, and Clinton, says "Thanks." There's just a glimmer of an expression on his face that seems to say uh-oh, I might have exposed myself out there.

Islamic fascists? Evildoers?

Sheryl Gay Stolberg has a nice essay in the Week in Review about the struggle to figure out what to call the enemy in the war on terrorism (or is it the war on terror?):
[The term "Islamic fascists"] turned up in one of the president’s speeches last year, and resurfaced in August when British authorities foiled a plot to blow up airliners headed for the United States. It was, Mr. Bush said then, “a stark reminder that this nation is at war with Islamic fascists who will use any means to destroy those of us who love freedom.”

By Labor Day, Islamic fascists and Islamo-fascism were the hot new conservative buzzwords.

And then, just as suddenly, they were gone — at least from the president’s lips.

“The debate that we wanted to launch was about an ideological struggle against an enemy that has very specific plans, ambitions and aspirations, much like movements of the past, like fascism and Nazism,” said Dan Bartlett, counselor to the president. Addressing the term Islamic fascists, Mr. Bartlett said, “I’m sure he’ll use it again.”

But it seems unlikely Mr. Bush will use it again, given the outcry it provoked....

David Frum, a former speechwriter for Mr. Bush, said the president turned to “evildoers” right after Sept. 11, 2001, in part because it translated well in Arabic and in part because it appeared in Psalm 27, which Mr. Frum says is one of the president’s favorite psalms. (“When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh.”)

But evildoers has a kind of comic-book sound, and in any event, Mr. Frum says, it isn’t specific enough.
Well, some of it is delivery. I'll bet Ronald Reagan could have sold "evildoers." But really, when did the Biblical start sounding comic-book-y?

Let's consult this article from yesterday's NYT: "Religion and Comic Books: Where Did Superman’s Theology Come From?"
[Peter] Parker had been walking home after competing in a wrestling match, vain in the aftermath of his victory, and as a robber dashed past him, he did nothing. That same robber proceeded to attack and kill Parker’s uncle.

Coming upon the scene, the nephew was struck by such guilt and remorse that he resolved to spend the rest of his life fighting crime.

As any fan of comic books, including Rabbi [Simcha] Weinstein, would recognize, Peter Parker is Spider-Man, created by Stan Lee and drawn initially by Jack Kirby and then Steve Ditko. Parker’s moment of moral awakening occurred in the first issue of the Spider-Man strip, published in 1962 and discovered by Rabbi Weinstein during his own boyhood in the early 80’s.

Something else that Rabbi Weinstein came to learn much more recently was that Lee and Kirby were Jewish — born Stanley Lieber and Jacob Kurtzberg, respectively. So it seemed to the rabbi no accident that their comic resonated with a quintessentially Jewish theological theme....

“... I knew the writers were Jewish. That’s a historical fact. And when I bought all the comics, and gave them my rabbi’s reading, I saw something there. Judaism is filled with superheroes and villains — Samson, Pharaoh. And it’s a religion rich in storytelling and in themes of being moral, ethical, spiritual.”
So the Biblical seems comic-book-y because comic books drew from the Bible. Does that mean we can't take "evildoers" seriously?

Weinstein, by the way, has a whole book on the subject: “Up, Up and Oy Vey!” Here's his website, where he calls himself the "Comic Book Rabbi" and writes about "Jewperheroes."

Imaginative filmmaking about living public figures.

Two weeks ago we were talking -- and talking -- about whether it was wrong for filmmakers -- in "The Path to 9/11" -- to make up scenes and dialogue depicting real public figures engaged in historical events. Here's another example of that sort of thing:
In Stephen Frears’s new movie, “The Queen,” Elizabeth II is shown driving a Range Rover at her family’s remote Scottish retreat, trapped in an unpleasant conversation with her eldest son, Prince Charles.

The subject is Diana, Princess of Wales, whose death that week has sent Britain into a convulsion of collective grief (not shared by the royal family). When an emotionally confused Charles begins to babble about what a good mother Diana was — physically affectionate, full of love — it is clear what he is really saying: “You never hugged me as a child.”

That’s it for him. Abruptly the queen gets out of the car and opens the back door, liberating a passel of eager dogs. Her voice lifts. “Walkies!” she trills.

The situation is of course imagined, the pair played by actors (Helen Mirren as the queen, Alex Jennings as Charles), the dialogue wholly made up and the filmmaker’s undertaking a daring one.
Imagine Queen Elizabeth demanding that the movie be yanked -- britted? -- the way Clinton did about "The Path to 9/11."

Languedoc.

Nina returns for the harvest. Seriously, if you are into wine or France, you need to hang out over on Nina's blog. Even if you abstain from wine and hate France, you might want to go there just because the colors purple and green are beautiful:

"The Netroots Hit Their Limits."

Says Time Magazine:
Moderate Democrats say it with remorse, conservatives with glee, but the conventional wisdom is bipartisan: progressive bloggers are pushing the Democratic Party so far to the left that it will have no chance of capturing the presidency in 2008.

Or maybe the Netroots aren't all that. Make no mistake, these online activists are having a profound impact on the Democrats and on politics in general. But the phenomenon is in its infancy.
But, according to the article, the total number of readers of these blogs is perhaps only about enough to elect a governor in California (if they were all in California), and the total amount of money they've raised in the last year is less than the amount you need to run for Congress in a single district.
No one recognizes the Netroots' limits more than the activists themselves, which is why they are changing their tactics. First of all, they're becoming pragmatic about policy goals.
They're laying off some topics, like gay marriage, and supporting some centrists.
What's more, the Netroots are, paradoxically, attempting to maximize their effectiveness by going off-line.
There's still, fortunately, the need to get out and interact with people in the real world... or at least to run TV ads and make phone calls. How horrific it would be if the strange folk who furiously type away on computer keyboards all day were calling the shots!

Now we know it's a publicity stunt.

Oprah's suing him for running an Oprah for President website, and Patrick Crowe continues to push for Oprah for President. And don't give me that oh, he's a retired math teacher crap. He's selling a book.
Patrick Crowe says he is having a blast promoting talk-show icon Oprah Winfrey for president. Winfrey's lawyers are not.

Crowe has been unofficially campaigning for the first lady of daytime TV for years. The Kansas City man's Web site comes complete with a campaign song and volunteer sign-up. He also sells "Oprah for President" T-shirts.
Please note. I'm not saying Oprah should win. (Her claims are based on copyright and trademark law.) I think there should be plenty of room for people to make websites and write books about public figures. I'm just saying that the guy is obviously not just some character who wants Oprah Winfrey to be President:
"It has become increasingly serious to me," Crowe, who opposes the Bush administration and its foreign policy, told The Kansas City Star for a story Friday. "I know Oprah can do better than that."
Mmm-hmmm. You figured out a way to get attention for your anti-Bush opinions in this noisy world of opinion.

Anyway, would Oprah be a good President? I think she's too litigious.

"I'd like to go back and do the impeachment again."

Says Henry Hyde, who prosecuted Clinton and has had time to reflect on what went wrong:
"I was soft on the treatment we received from the Senate. We couldn't produce a witness without their permission. I should have had the president come in and testify. And if the Senate wouldn't let me, I should have gone before the body and Chief Justice Rehnquist and made a motion. That would have dramatized that the Senate was not letting us try our case. A lot of things could have been done differently."
Oh, yes. It's a shame no one gets much practice at this, isn't it?