February 16, 2008

Ready for love?

A question asked by an inexplicably sexy drug store:

DSC_0006.JPG

Next to it, on Montague Street, there's a used bookstore. And some of those titles caught my eye:

DSC_0008.JPG

I like the way Moliere is slotted in between "Pioneer Women" and "Vaginal Politics." "Pioneer Women" is an important book to me. It's the book I chose to read to manage my emotions as I faced the consequences of my decision — a quarter century ago — to move from NYC to Madison, Wisconsin.

"There is no product on the planet that can match that lush, melted-chocolate mouth-feel of milk chocolate."

Are you a dark-chocolate snob or are dark-chocolate snobs just making you feel that you shouldn't want what you really want? Get over it!

Brown shoes do make it.

The NYT says it's a fashion trend for men to wear brown shoes:
BROWN men’s shoes, popular with the aristocracy in the 1930s, when they were championed by the Prince of Wales and Hollywood movie royalty, are being revived in Manhattan. After World War II, the conventional black shoe returned, except among upper-class European men, who continued to wear brown suede wingtip styles with their business suits.
But why did men stop wearing brown shoes? I think everyone got the memo sent out in song form by Frank Zappa, but why did he pick on brown shoes specifically?
The title was inspired by an event covered by Time Magazine reporter Hugh Sidey in 1966. The reporter correctly guessed that something was up when the fastidiously dressed President Lyndon B. Johnson made the fashion faux pas of wearing brown shoes with a gray suit. LBJ flew to Vietnam for a surprise public relations visit later that day.
(Tiny video clip.)

In the slideshow at the first link, you'll see lots of fashionable guys wearing brown shoes with gray suits. So don't think you need a brown suit to wear brown shoes, at least not if you plan to traipse about midtown Manhattan for the fashion photographers.

"I suppose it won't hurt the economy, but it's in many senses like giving a drink to an alcoholic."

Mayor Bloomberg on the federal government's plan to pass out $600 checks to stimulate the economy.

Half-siblings in love.

They met as adults:
"I know that loving my brother in this way is wrong morally and legally, but it just feels right," says 22-year-old Danielle [Heany].

"The only way to explain it is to say that the day I met Nick, I felt I had finally met my soulmate. Everything clicked. I would marry him if I could."

Nick [Cameron], 28, adds: "My feelings are very confused. We are very deeply in love with each other, but sometimes I think 'she's my little sister. I shouldn't be feeling this way.'

"All I know is that for the first time in my life I feel I belong. I should feel ashamed of it, but I don't."
But this is not a case of offspring of a popular sperm donor who learn the truth after they fall in love. These two have the same mother, and they knew they were half-siblings when they met. Their mother, Susan, meaning to make up for the lost family life, introduced them.
It was Susan who reported them to police after walking in on them making love in the autumn of 2006, and shouted in horror: "What you are doing is morally wrong."
Quite aside from the perplexities of the incest taboo, this case seems to involve some serious hostility between mother and children. Why were they having sex where their mother could walk in on them? Is she the audience for their love?

The two now face arrest if they have sex, and though they live together and act very demonstrative in public, they say they will follow the law:
"We have an unbreakable bond. Of course, it will be hard living together and there will always be temptation, but we have decided that we can still love each other without having sex.

"I love Danielle and because of that I don't want to do anything which might put her in prison, and she feels the same way about me. The sexual expression of our feelings is only one part of the relationship."

Danielle, a former hairdresser, adds: "What we can't live without is the closeness and intimacy. We can still talk, we can still go for walks, we can still love each other.

"Legally we can still kiss, still hold hands, still carry on together, we just can't have intercourse."
They may be lying, but unless they let mom walk in on them again, how can the state know?

"Try out magic pants to hide lumps and bumps."

A clothes store company wants its sales staff to look good, but the staff is offended by the style guide. It's upsetting for the company to disclose that it thinks fat people should try to look slimmer. An eating disorder group attacks: "If you are the type of person who needs magic knickers this style guide might add to your insecurities." And the company apologizes: "On reflection, we've made a rather thoughtless mistake. What was intended as magazine-style fashion tips has caused offence which was never intended. We have withdrawn the leaflet and apologised for the error." ("Offence," "apologised"... yes, they are sensitive — and fat — in England too.)

"The IOC considers blogging... as a legitimate form of personal expression and not a form of journalism."

Are you one of the athletes, planning to blog the Olympics? You can do it, but you'll have to limit yourself "solely to [your] own personal Olympic-related experience." And: "Blogs should be dignified and in good taste." Do we hate these rules, or do we really want our athletes to be excellent role models, even if they are conniving, sleazy bastards?

Writing something nonobvious about Rush Limbaugh makes righties and lefties stupid.

So I wrote this post. And the lefty assumes I'm a righty, and the righty assumes I'm a lefty. Both lose the capacity to read, to think anything new, or to say anything interesting.

Update on women I've talked about recently.

1. Heather Mills gets a mere £55 million. And she binds herself to never tell the story of what went on between her and Paul McCartney. It's a settlement of the case, and Mills was proceeding without a lawyer. As you can see from the previous post, Mills had already received a £55 offer and asking for £70 million to £80 million. I speculated that she was going for more money and representing herself to make the movie story of her life juicier with that confrontation in court — remember Angela Bassett telling off Laurence Fishburne in divorce court? — but the secrecy deal rules that out.



2. Jane Fonda apologized. After I lauded her for that deliberate enunciation of the word "cunt" on "The Today Show."
"She didn't say it to be shocking. She was just quoting the title of her scene in 'The Vagina Monologues,'" said Fonda's flack Pat Kingsley. "She didn't come up with the word."

Kingsley said the "Barbarella" actress, who was scheduled to perform the play last night at Madison Square Garden, regretted using the word, insisting "it was a slip."

"She certainly meant no disrespect," Kingsley said.
Oh, bullshit. But kudos to The Daily News. "Flack" — great word. And: "the 'Barbarella' actress." Ha ha. That's not pristine journalism, but so what? Fonda saying "cunt" is not really news.

February 15, 2008

Brooklyn sky, another view.

Sky shape

"I mean, last week I was totally crying watching it" (the "Yes We Can" video)...

"Now just thinking about how choked up I got gives me the creeps."

"Andrew, people my age are too young to remember Bill Clinton. All we have is George W. Bush. The office of the President to us is a mockery."

From from an email Andrew Sullivan published today. I hope the 21-year-old emailer has his hopes 'n' dreams fulfilled. Barack Obama is making him feel that the time is near when he will feel proud of his President, and: "Most people my age have never felt proud of our President." But I had to laugh at the idea that mocking the President began in the year 2001. Bill Clinton was not a figure of fun? The first Bush? Reagan? Carter? Ford? Nixon? LBJ? JFK? Eisenhower? That's as far back as I personally can remember. I won't say most people my age have never felt proud of our President. But I never have. And I don't think that's so terrible. Don't worship leaders. Let the mockery flow on. Even if a guy you like who seems pretty good makes it to the White House.

Congratulations to Jane Fonda!



She's got herself in the news again. You've got to give that woman credit for finding a way — one way or another — to make herself newsworthy decade after decade. The lady is 70. She's some kind of media genius, right? She goes on the "Today" show on Valentine's Day with Eve Ensler, and they're promoting that tired old theater piece that gets reeled out every year to put a damper on Valentine's Day enthusiasm, and they know this means they can say "vagina, vagina, vagina," because it's the name of the play. And then clear as day, knowing absolutely what she's doing, Jane Fonda says "I was asked to do a monologue called 'Cunt.'"

Here's the NSFW video, which includes Meredith Vieira's instant apology: "It was a slip and obviously she apologizes, and so do we. We would do nothing to offend the audience." But it wasn't a slip, and by what authority does Vieira apologize on behalf of Fonda? Let her apologize for NBC, but recognize that Jane Fonda has a mind, the mind of a media genius — a media whore. (I think that's a fair expression.) She did what she wanted to do: Sit there on the couch, looking prim and protesting that she lives in Georgia — as if she's channeling deep-rooted Georgian values — and then crisply enunciating the word "cunt."

And everyone talks about her. Some will tsk. Some will spew. Some will preen with a ridiculous air of superiority and offer a tedious lecture about how "Cunt" actually is the name of a monologue in the play that is all about saying the word "cunt" over and over to transform us through the catharsis of theater into enlightened beings who don't mind anymore if someone says "cunt." So if you had only seen the play — if you weren't so illiterate — you would know that you look terribly ignorant to people in the know who have seen "The Vagina Monologues."

Well, I've seen "The Vagina Monogues." Who hasn't? It plays everywhere, since it says things a lot of people want said and it's so easy to produce and perform — 3 women sit on stools and get to read their lines off index cards. Ensler is a theater genius for thinking it up, and I congratulate her for devising such a brilliantly successful money-making writing project. But it not a very good play, and no one needs to feel inferior for passing it up. It's not like never having seen "Hamlet." And anyone watching "The Today Show" clip can easily see that Fonda is saying the name of her monologue in the play. That's all beside the point. She said the baddest bad word, and she planned to say it. She's not out of control. She did exactly what she wanted to do, and she's got your rapt attention — something she's done for 5 decades.

Object to the content all you want, but give her credit. She's a first-class media genius. For purporting to apologize for her, Meredith Vieira owes Jane Fonda an apology.

"You have a trifecta — gangsters, Italian-Americans, New Jersey — wedded in the popular American imagination."

Justice Samuel Alito opines about "The Sopranos" and the dynamics of prejudice.

Dawn comes to Brooklyn.

Dawn comes to Brooklyn

This morning's fisheye view comes from the rare vantage point of the east terrace and shows the lesser skyline, the Brooklyn skyline.

February 14, 2008

Why did Eric Alterman stop doing Bloggingheads?

Was it something I wrote? Here's what he says:
[Ken] Silverstein's dander is up because he thinks I called him "America's worst pundit." But the rest of the world understood pretty well that I was referring directly to William Kristol, whom I discussed in the previous paragraph.... He then goes to the trouble to find a bunch of things I said in a conversation which, ripped out of context, sound wrong today. But I'm guessing that if I went to the trouble of going back and looking directly at the quotes in question, I could find sufficient qualifiers purposely ignored by Silverstein to demonstrate that I was not saying what he pretends I am. (And don't forget, Silverstein is quoting something I said in conversation, not something I wrote in a monthly magazine. Ann Althouse did the same thing to me in both her blog and in a New York Times op-ed. This is one reason, aside from a lack of time, I stopped doing bloggingheads.tv. It's ridiculous to say something in conversation and to have people treat it as if, well, as if you wrote it in a fact-checked monthly magazine.)
"In conversation"? He said something in a public dialogue on Bloggingheads. It's not like I publicized something he said to me in a private conversation. I have no interest in this current hissyfit about Ken Silverstein, but why drag me into it and insinuate that I did something underhanded? You can read my blog post (and NYT column) for yourself. I took something he said seriously and argued against it. What on earth is his problem? My guess is he has some shame about having uttered the words "I think it would be good if we had some sort of, you know, blogging — you know — council, where we could condemn people." He should also have some shame about attacking me baselessly and totally out of context like this. And he's the one who wanted to enforce standards! Ha!

AND: Speaking of criticism from out of nowhere, can anyone explain why Amanda Marcotte is trashing me here? The closest I can come to understanding her point is that she interprets the phrase "shameless sybarite" as unalloyed praise.

UPDATE: Eric Alterman calls me "insane" in this new post, which — since I'm sitting on the floor at O'Hare with nothing to do — I'm going to fisk:
Ann Althouse is insane, continued: Read her here. The story is this: I made a point, yesterday, about the fact that one tends to be more considered in print, particularly print in a monthly fact-checked magazine, than in casual conversation. She saw her name there and has become hysterical over something I clearly didn't say -- and you can check the tape below -- notably, that bloggingheads.tv somehow constitutes a "private" conversation.
Well, Eric saw my post here and has become hysterical over something I clearly didn't say — and you can read the post above. I didn't say that Eric thought that Bloggingheads is a private conversation. I said he was reacting as if I'd done something underhanded, which might have made sense if I'd repeated something from a private conversation. But since it wasn't at all private, and in fact was especially public, my taking his quote seriously was perfectly justified and not at all underhanded. I didn't like seeing my name dragged down for no reason and I wrote this post to complain. He could have apologized, but instead, he wrote another post and called me insane. That's insane.
She then takes her own, imaginary reading of what I wrote and goes on to speculate that I feel a secret "shame" about what I said.
Actually, Eric, I'm sure you're shameless. That was a joke and a dagger to punish you for attacking me.
This is exactly the kind of thing, I suppose, one would expect from a woman who attacks other women for having boobs.
And Eric, since I never did that, you are lying about me — in an especially sexist way.
Perhaps Althouse should get together with the similarly challenged Ken Silverstein and the two of them can do this kind of thing all the time, but in private.
That's what passes for a masturbatory fantasy in the mind of Alterman.
In the meantime, allow me to recommend a book I just finished teaching to my students, Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death, in a new 20th anniversary edition from Viking, which contains some extremely useful musings on the advantages of thinking in print compared to musing in conversation -- particularly televised conversation. Think before you blog, people; a mind is a terrible thing to waste, and so is my time.
Alterman is incoherent. Blogging is writing. In any case, both speech and writing are valuable. Obviously, when Alterman was teaching that book to his students, he was speaking. We human beings do both, and conversation has a long and honorable tradition, longer than writing. We get a good sense of what people are by hearing them speak. It has a special trustworthiness that writing lacks.

Look at how we insist on hearing our political candidates speak, and we don't get that much out of their policy papers (which others have crafted and polished). We judge people by how they seem when they speak, and I judged Alterman harshly for the revelation of the mind I glimpsed when he said "I think it would be good if we had some sort of, you know, blogging — you know — council, where we could condemn people." Imagine if he were a political candidate and said something like that. It would be the end.
(And I'm not trashing bloggingheads, which is among the best of these conversations. It's just that the medium is by definition limited, and so is my time, which was the main reason I stopped doing them. I told Rob I would be glad to do a few once Why We're Liberals is published because, well, one has to promote one's real work.)
Yeah, he'll go on video to flog his book.

And he did trash Bloggingheads... which he can't go on, because something shockingly repellent oozes out. It's gruesome!

AND: Who's Rob? Does he mean Bob Wright?

The morning fisheye view is so clear-eyed.

DSC_0002.JPG

But last night, I had my night vision:

The BQE

Are you thinking, Althouse, what were you doing that led you into that nightmarish perspective? The answer is: I was walking home after explaining the Eleventh Amendment.

Althouse eats chocolate, tweaks photographs, watches "American Idol"...

... and fails to keep all her body parts out of the aggressive view of the fisheye lens.

DSC_0001.JPG

I skipped blogging the audition phase of the show this year, maybe because it's too much trouble to keep track of everyone — especially on my dinky Brooklyn TV — but I've been watching.

I liked the way they did the Hollywood phase this week. They skipped all the reality show drama created in the past by putting people in groups and letting personality conflicts and artistic differences play havoc with the selection process. Good! I always hated group assignments at school. (But I must say that the coolest "American Idol" performance of all time came from one of the Hollywood week groups.)

This year, Hollywood was all about the on-stage audition. With one exception. We saw Josiah Leming crumple as he lost sleep and freaked out at the band. He was an extremely attractive contestant and we were invited into his lonely little world. The teenager left home and has been living in his car. I think the producers decided he was not emotionally capable of handling the pressure of the show. Speaking to one of the other very young contestants, the judges talked about how psychological readiness is taken into account. That contestant made it, and I think it was a subtle way of telling us why they rejected Josiah. They may toy with youngsters for the amusement of millions, but they draw the line at teenage nervous breakdown.

Here are the final 24 contestants. I've only mentioned one by name so far in my minimal AI blogging and that is the beautiful 16-year-old Alexandréa Lushington. My personal favorite at this point is the 29-year-old Australian Michael Johns, who sang "Bohemian Rhapsody" this week.

So, on to more "American Idol" blogging and fisheye photography! Am I descending into madness? At least I had the sense — I think it's sense! — just now to order another lens — so my lensomania won't be entirely convex.

"I've been fascinated... with the attention paid to me by people who really have not undertaken to understand how I succeed, how I define my success."

You may hate Rush Limbaugh. You may despise him and everyone who listens to him. But do you even understand what he is doing?
I don't think [the mainstream media] understand why I do it, number one. I treat it as a business. My definitions for success have nothing to do with who wins elections, but rather, Is the program growing audience-wise? Are we attracting new sponsors? ...

Now, in terms of the content, I just come here and I try to have fun every day. And I'm honest. I don't say outrageous things I don't believe just to get people in a tizzy....

The second thing that the media doesn't understand — and I think it's because talk radio is outside the Beltway. It's a phenomenon that attracts what I call the people who make the country work. I don't think politicians and elected officials and bureaucrats and even the media are responsible for the greatness of the country. I think it's individual Americans laboring in anonymity, not seeking fame, just trying to get by, play by the rules, work hard, ordinary people doing extraordinary things. And those are the people that listen to talk radio. And the media thinks that they're all hayseeds and hicks without minds of their own....
He's having fun. Doing a radio show.

I've been listening to the show — over the website, without the commercials — for the last month, so I've developed my own opinions about Limbaugh. One thing I've noticed — which doesn't come up in the linked Time interview — is that he has no real affinity for social conservatism. He likes to talk about the "3 legs" to the "stool" of conservatism. (That sounds so wrong!) But this leg man is only interested in 2 legs: national security and economics. He doesn't care about family values and that sort of thing. He's constantly alluding to his interest in having his fun with women and evading any burdensome entanglements. He has absolutely no interest in children. And he brags about his pleasures: parties, good food and drink, cigars, comfy beds, nifty gadgets. He gives every sign of being a shameless sybarite.

Obama's message is just too depressing.

Argues Daniel Henninger:
Unhinge yourself from the mesmerizing voice. What one hears is a message that is largely negative, illustrated with anecdotes of unremitting bleakness. Heavy with class warfare, it is a speech that could have been delivered by a Democrat in 1968, or even 1928.

[OMITTED: Henninger's edit of Obama's Madison speech.]

Unease about the economy is real, but Sen. Obama is selling more than that. He is selling deep grievance over the structure of American society....

Whatever else, Barack Obama isn't talking sunshine in America. He's talking fast and furious. People not yet baptized into Obamamania may start to look past the dazzling theatrics to see a vision of the United States that is quite grim and could wear thin in the general election.
So you think people are going to wake up and realize that they're sick of Obama's negativity? I think Henninger means to say that people will eventually perceive left-wing ideology in the rhetoric and, since most of us are not lefties, we'll say we don't want what he's selling. But will we? Or do we buy the mood and the style and wait until after the election to object to the actual policies?

Why I'm voting for Barack Obama in the Wisconsin primary.

That's the title of a blog post I think I'm going to write over the weekend. I'm not writing it today because it's a big writing project following the model of my "How Kerry lost me" post from September 2004. The idea is to see the blog archive as a site for the archaeology of my own opinion.

With over 200 posts tagged "Obama," I can trace how I reacted to him at various points in time beginning with his speech at the Democratic convention in July 2004:
Now here is a speaker I can stand to listen to. He's modulating his voice and he seems to have the speech memorized, so he doesn't have that awful teleprompter stare. He places some emphasis on personal responsibility. Parents need to turn off the television!...

Obama does a great job delivering the speech, even though the words of the speech are quite banal. There are many references to hope. The speech is blessedly short. Cheers, waving sign
There are many references to hope. Ha ha. That's funny now. Quite banal: Why didn't increased exposure to the same banalities become horrifyingly insipid? Strangely, that first post seems to be something I could have written last Tuesday night. But there is nevertheless a trajectory. My second assessment of Barack Obama — over a year later — is very negative, close to a pledge never to vote for him, written the day the Senate confirmed John Roberts:
Great! Roberts is confirmed by a margin of 78 to 22. As to those 22 Democrats who voted no, they have openly embraced an ideological view of the Court from which they can never credibly step back. For them, appointing Supreme Court Justices is a processes of trying to lock outcomes in place, and we shouldn't believe them if in the future they try to say otherwise....

I hope no one on that list is running for President.
Obama (and Clinton) are on the list, and a few days later I get into a big debate with Amba over whether Obama's reasons for voting no were someone special and different from all the other politicos. Amba was "impressed [with] his civility and collegiality towards those with opposing views" and "surprised at the intensity of [my] venom." I was immune to the Obaman rhetoric:
To me, it doesn't matter what the written justifications his lawyers wrote out are. Those are not the actual reasons. As writing, it amounts to the same blather I heard throughout the hearings....

I'm sure he has excellent lawyers and speechwriters working with him, setting up his career. They take the tone that it is advantageous to take. The bottom line for me is what it is for all of the no-voting Senators. There was no decent reason to oppose [Roberts]....

I'm a fan of no politician. I'm sure plenty of them are decent enough as they ply their trade, and I'm willing to believe Obama is decent enough, but he's an ambitious man with a highly skilled staff.
But I can't go on like this today. As I said, it's a weekend project.

"You've done an inside job on my heart."

Political valentines.

IN THE COMMENTS: "As a matter of fact I DO question the patriotism of his love for you" and more.

February 13, 2008

The BQE.

The BQE

Sir Archy alert.

Our favorite commenter ghost — "dead these 250 Years and more" — has made an appearance in yesterday's "Virtuous vanilla" post.

A sign that young people don't support Hillary Clinton.

Watch this clip of NY Governor Elliot Spitzer on "The Colbert Report." At 0:55, he states that he — as a superdelegate — has pledged his support to Hillary Clinton. There's dead silence from the audience, which had been cheering and responsive when he first came out (and gets noisy again at the end of the clip). Spitzer does a take — which is damned funny if you're an Obama supporter — as if he's thinking: What the hell, did I just imagine there was a studio audience?

IN THE COMMENTS: Fen is all:
Wake up - sleepy head, rub your eyes, get out of bed.
Wake up, the Wicked Witch is dead. She's gone where the goblins go,
Below - below - below. Yo-ho, let's open up and sing and ring the bells out.
Ding Dong' the merry-oh, sing it high, sing it low.
Let them know
The Wicked Witch is dead!
Balfegor responds:
Yes, but she's just been replaced by a Mary Sue!

Well, I haven't tried to hide that over the years, I've become kind of fond Clinton II for being dowdy, dorky, uncool, and serious. I'm disappointed that the Democrats seem to be choosing Obama over someone I could actually have voted for.

Free love! Flowers! Puppies!

Free Love

Flowers

DSC_0002.JPG

Love, love, love. There now, don't you feel all warm and fuzzy for Valentine's Day?

"Listen, I'll never forget you. You were the only guys who would listen to me for a couple of months. Do you think I'd ever forget you?"

John McCain, on the phone with the bloggers, responding to a blogger thanking him for continuing doing phone calls with bloggers.

ADDED AFTER THE CALL: That line really struck me, because I vividly remember being on one of those old blogger calls, listening to him and thinking how sad, he has to act like he doesn't know he hasn't got a chance. I really thought there was no way he could win. On the call today, at one point, Ed Morrissey made the wisecrack that if they make a movie of McCain's campaign, George Romero should direct it. McCain laughed and seemed to appreciate the joke. I wonder if he has watched "Night of the Living Dead." Someone could make a YouTube video, in the style of "Mystery Science Theater," and do a John McCain voiceover to a zombie movie.

MORE: Let's get to some serious stuff now. McCain resisted efforts to push him to reveal anything about his VP selection, but I noticed that — on other questions — he brought up the name Lindsey Graham at least twice.

First, he said he's in contact with Lindsey Graham who is in Baghdad telling him that the Iraqi government has just passed a law that takes some of the steps the U.S. has demanded. (This will show that the war opponents are "absolutely wrong" and "we are obviously succeeding.")

Second, when he was asked if he was concerned about the military commission trials in which 6 Guantanamo detainees are facing the death penalty, he said "no, I would not have concerns," and his reason was that he is relying on what he hears from Lindsey Graham, who is "intimately involved with this whole processs." (The detainees, he said, "don't deserve the protection that a citizen would have," that the procedures "are appropriate," and "I just wish we had done it years ago.")

Asked about rumors that he has plans to resign his Senate seat, he said he had "no inclination" to do so. Asked if it would be fair to ask Huckabee to withdraw from the race, he said he was "not in any way trying to pressure him to get out of the race." He said, "I respect him and I like him" and he's "proud of" the "tenor of the campaign." On the subject of whether it helps to have Huckabee in the race so the media will keep paying attention, he said he would "rather get it wrapped up."

McCain stressed that he would show the "stark" and "dramatic" differences between him and the Democratic candidate, whether it is Obama or Clinton. He wasn't openly assuming that Obama would be the nominee, but he said "Obama has significant wind at his back." He said — beginning with his signature phrase "and, look, let me give you some straight talk" — that Clinton and Obama are really "energizing" things on the Democratic side "and I know I have to do that here."

I would have liked to get my question in — I punched in late — and asked how he would deal with standing next to Obama, who — we can see from his Madison speech — is going to honor McCain for his past service but hold himself out as the man for the future. How will McCain out-energize that? I know McCain said: "I can work 16-18 hrs a day 7 days a week." But that sounds like Hillary's approach. You can be the hardest worker and still lose.

It's going to be quite something when — I assume it's when — those two men stand side-by-side and debate. What an astounding age gap! How different they are in so many other ways. And yet there are some wonderful similarities: Both men offer us a break from old-style partisanship. What a gift the McCain-Obama debates will be!

"Obama acted almost as the primaries were behind him, offering a case against the probable Republican nominee."

Adam Nagourney describes Barack Obama's speech in Madison last night, which turned out to be his victory speech as he won the Potomac primaries:
The sheer consistency of Mr. Obama’s victories over the last few days certainly suggests that many Democratic voters have gotten past whatever reservations they might have had about his electability or his qualifications to be president.

Mr. Obama, in his victory speech in Madison, Wis., acted almost as the primaries were behind him, offering a case against the probable Republican nominee, Senator John McCain of Arizona, as he spoke disparagingly of “Bush-McCain Republicans.” It amounted to a preview of what an Obama-McCain race might be like, and it reduced Mrs. Clinton, at least for one night, to the role of bystander.

“John McCain is an American hero,” Mr. Obama said before a huge, cheering crowd. “We honor his service to our nation. But his priorities don’t address the real problems of the American people, because they are bound to the failed policies of the past.”
So we know the theme of his fall campaign: Honor McCain but label him as "the past." Hillary Clinton can't make that argument. But there must be a corresponding theme for McCain.

Here's the local angle on the Madison speech in the Madison newspaper. Excerpt:
Obama came into the brightly lit arena shaking hands all around as loud music blared. The mostly student crowd was on its feet after waiting, in most cases, more than two hours for him to show up.

"This is how you guys do it in Madison?" Obama said, with an awkward pause before the name of the city. He said he was proud of Doyle's support and thanked Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett for driving to Madison. He twice botched Mayor Dave Cieslewicz's name while thanking him for endorsing him Tuesday.

My blog spot — fisheyed.

The morning blog

You might think this post is too self-referential. Narcissistic. But you have no idea how much I had to contort to get all my body parts out of this fisheye view.

"The Messiah is in town tonight."

Uncle Jimbo goes to the big Barack Obama show in Madison, Wisconsin:

The morning fisheye.

I step out onto the terrace in the rain:

Fisheye view from my terrace

ADDED: Here's the lens.

"It would be absurd to say that you can’t stick something under the fingernails, smack them in the face."

Antonin Scalia lets slip a quote that will enhance the loathing among those who loathe him but that others will easily guess comes from a discussion of the "ticking time-bomb" hypothetical.

The whole context, with audio and transcript, is at the link. Scalia is making the point that Bill Clinton, among many others, has made:
BBC: It’s a question that’s been raised by Alan Derschowitz and other people — this idea of ticking bomb torture. It’s predicated on the basis that you got a plane with nuclear weapons flying toward the White House, you happen to have in your possession — hooray! — the person that has the key information to put everything right, and you stick a needle under his fingernail — you get the answer — and that should be allowed?

SCALIA: And you think it shouldn’t?

BBC: All I’m saying about it, is that it’s a bizarre scenario, because it’s very unlikely that you’re going to have the one person that can give you that information and so if you use that as an excuse to permit torture then perhaps that’s a dangerous thing.
It's an old problem, and I've heard it discussed many times, and frankly what surpises me is not what Scalia said but how smart and articulate the BBC interviewer is. (Here's the whole interview, and you can see the interviewer's name is Clive Coleman.)

It's not just the classy British accent — which so often befogs the minds of Americans. It's the fast, articulate speech, the way he's unfazed when the Supreme Court Justice strikes at him with a question, and his instant formulation of a pithy and cogent response. The typical American journalist would harumph something about who's the interviewer and who's the interviewee.

Clinton can't win on pledged delegates.

But can she still somehow win? Howard Fineman explains:



And, you know, I didn't set out to attack Keith Olbermann again, but...

ADDED: Josh Marshall has this:
Now, Fineman is something of a paragon of the mainstream media. So his comments probably raise some suspicion among some readers.
A paragon of what?
But this is a pretty straightforward mathematical question. Doesn't really matter what Fineman or either campaigns say [sic]. Folks paying close attention are as likely to accurately predict the outcomes as the folks in the campaign. So is this true? Is a pledged delegate win for Clinton no longer a realistic possibility?
AND: Is "pledged delegate" the new term for the elected delegates, to go along with the transition from "superdelegate" to "automatic delegate"?
In a sign that the spin war over the significance of super-delegates is underway in earnest, Harold Ickes told assorted Hillary supporters on a private conference call yesterday that the campaign wants them to start referring to super-delegates as "automatic delegates," according to someone on the call.

The person I spoke to paraphrases Ickes, who is spearheading Hillary's super-delegate hunt, this way: "We're no longer using the phrase super delegates. It creates a wrong impression. They're called automatic delegates. Because that's what they are."
"Pledged delegate" sounds confusing to me, because I've heard plenty of talk about how superdelegates were pledging to vote for one candidate or another.

February 12, 2008

The walk home in the snow.

I've got my new fisheye lens. Just outside the law school, in downtown Brooklyn:

DSC_0023.JPG

Walking toward the Unitarian church on Pierrepont Street.

DSC_0037.JPG

Looking up at the church.

Pierrepont Street

Looking out from my balcony, over the playground, into New York Harbor.

View from the terrace

A big win for Obama in Virginia.

And the Republican race is too close to call. On MSNBC, Chris Matthews is saying that would-be McCain voters switched to the Democratic race and voted for Obama.

ADDED: MSNBC is reporting that Obama took 90% of the black vote in Virginia and 48% of the white vote. If you split the white vote by sex, Obama gets a majority of the men (55%), and Hillary's got the white women (58%). Obama is strong with under 40 voters (66%), independents (62%), those making over $100,000 (61%), and those with a postgraduate education (58%). Olbermann's muttering: "Good grief, he won white men... 55%..."

MORE: Olbermann: "And Obama beat her with the... beat the women... ... beat her in women voters." Later: "And the results are in. NBC news has projected that Senator Barack Obama of Illinios will be the projected winner, uh, hence the use of the word 'projection' 3 times in one sentence."

AND: Tim Russert: "The white, ethnic, blue-collar Democrat is voting for Obama in Virginia and Maryland. What does that mean for Wisconsin — places like Milwaukee and Green Bay? And what does that mean for Texas and Pennsylvania?... It's an indication that his coalition is broadening in a big way tonight."

PLUS: Nice to see Obama's Madison speech is on TV. The Kohl Center is packed full, with an overflow room. The announcer said it seats about 17,000, but that is when it's set up for a basketball game. For a speech, there is a lot more seating on the floor.

ALSO: Obama gave a good speech, though he muffed his first effort at saying Mayor Dave's last name (which I won't even attempt to write... just say "Mayor Dave" and leave it at that). Nice Madison touches: birthplace of progressivism, etc.

The Obama speech ends, and MSNBC takes us to John McCain's speech, already in progress. I think he sounds great and don't really understand why people say he's a bad speaker. He's got real passion and sounds like he means it (and then some). (And I liked when he called that CNN reporter "jerk." It seemed affectionate and good-natured.)

So anyway, the speech ends, and that goofily stuffy Keith Olbermann goes "John McCain, speaking after his 3 victories in the Potomac primaries tonight from Alexandria, Virginia, to the tune of 'Johnny B. Goode, instrumental only..." And no sooner does he get those words out then the incredibly familiar guitar opening to the song is over and we hear Chuck Berry singing "Deep Down in Louisiana..."

Olbermann's haplessness seems like a comedy routine. He wraps his windbaggery up by saying that the rule has to be "always speak before, not after Barack Obama," which makes Chris Matthews giggle and me fume. McCain was good! Obama had the usual Obamatude, but nevertheless, let's keep our wits about us: It was within the range of human capacity. A god did not walk into the Kohl Center tonight.

And that Olbermann has some nerve knocking McCain whe he (Obermann) flubs and garbles every sentence he wanders into and struggles to find a way out of.

Have you noticed the market lately?



The Iowa Electronic Market has shares on Hillary Clinton trading at 0.288 and Obama at 0.700.

"A 'Virtuous vanilla' lip balm and a 'Get Tight with Christ' hand and body cream, featuring a picture of Christ flanked by two adoring women."

Products from a cosmetics line called Looking Good for Jesus, withdrawn in Singapore after Catholics complain. What is the nature of the complaint? I've seen plenty of fancy oil paintings in prestigious museums that pictured Christ flanked by two adoring women.

ADDED: In case you want to compare the image to classy artworks you've gazed upon, here:



TYPO FIXED: I did not mean to write "classic artworks."

"In pimping General David Petraeus and in the violation of everything this country has been assiduously and vigilantly against..."

A Keith Olbermann rant from last September, dug up by vigilant bloggers, whom I salute. Keep up the pimpwatch!

Hey, Meghan McCain has a blog.

Here. (Via Instapundit.) And it's actually bloggy. Like it has this:



(Photo by Heather Brand. Click to enlarge.)

From a post called "It's not the destination, it's the journey..." on Thursday, February 7, 2008 — which I can't figure out how to link to... which is not bloggy....

How boring is he?

The endorsement nobody heard. Poor Fred!

"How can somebody be removed from a job because of the size of his moustache?"

Asks the Supreme Court of India.
Victor Joynath De was grounded by Indian - formerly called Indian Airlines- in 2001 for refusing to shave off his handlebar moustache....

A moustache, if worn, should not extend beyond the upper lip, says the rule book...

The spokesman said that some passengers could be unnerved by such a striking facial feature.
Unnerved. I love that.

But really, doesn't there need to be some limit on moustachery when you're serving the general public?



That's not Mr. De. That's just the most extreme example of a moustache — or "mustache" — I was able to find on the internet in less than one minute. I'm just trying to prove my point that it would be not just unnerving but revolting to have a man with too much moustache serving you food.

"Mustache" is an amusing word. What is its etymology?
1585, from Fr. moustache, from It. mostaccio, from Medieval Gk. moustakion, dim. of Doric mystax (gen. mystakos) "upper lip, mustache," related to mastax "jaws, mouth," lit. "that with which one chews," from PIE base *mnto- "mouth" (see mouth). Borrowed earlier (1551) as mostacchi, from the It. word or its Sp. derivative mostacho. The plural form of this, mustachios, lingers in English. Dutch slang has a useful noun, de befborstel, to refer to the mustache specifically as a tool for stimulating the clitoris; probably from beffen "to stimulate the clitoris with the tongue."
Oh, come on now! That last sentence was uncalled for. I'm unnerved.

"Her first creation... was a 'vaginal vault' made of a cardboard toilet-paper roll, Play-Doh and a badminton shuttlecock..."

"She has also constructed a scrotum using two wood balls linked by a rubber band (vas deferens) and suspended in an extra-large condom filled with oil and peanut butter."

It's not another art show. This is a serious medical project: Designing anatomical models to train doctors to get over their prudishness so they can examine body parts properly:
[Dr. Carla Pugh] often buys penises at adult “novelty” shops, though they are all erect and circumcised, and sometimes welds on rubber tubing used for synthetic intestines when a foreskin is needed....

“We need permission to fail in a safe environment,” [Dr. Richard M. Satava] said. “Aviation has used simulators since 1955 that are now almost indistinguishable from flying real airplanes and have achieved a remarkable safety record. It’s time that health care followed.”

The models need not be particularly high-tech. “A very sophisticated simulator would be too much for a student,” he said. “For simple tasks like a pelvic exam, a simple simulator like Carla’s is actually preferable. You don’t teach a teenager to drive in a million-dollar Ferrari.”

"It's like the Hotel California... You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave."

That would be... Facebook.

"In Clinton World, Whining Often Wins."

Craig Crawford observes:
Funny how the prospect of imminent losses produce spates of Clintonian self-pity that often manage to rally just enough votes to survive....

Once again, dejected Clinton aides are spinning doomsday scenarios. This time, they might be right....
How many cycles of that can you spin?

"8 Questions the Potomac Primary Could Answer."

Dan Balz poses the questions:
1) Will a Sweep by Obama Make Him the Front-Runner?...

2) Will the Clinton-Obama Race Split the Party?...

What gives Democrats heart -- and clearly worries Republicans -- is that the Obama-Clinton contest does not reflect a deep, ideological split within the party....

The endgame will be critical if Democrats hope to avoid the kind of rupture that happened after the Carter-Kennedy battle of 1980. If the losing candidate goes out in a blaze of attacks, the bitterness will linger. If superdelegates appear to run counter to the popular vote, that will put the losing side in a deep funk...

3) Will Edwards Endorse Someone Soon?...

4) Will Obama Catch Clinton Among Superdelegates?

Yes -- if he keeps winning....

... "It'll be a combination of true enthusiasm [for Obama] and the old pol's rule of 'Be for what is going to happen,' " [wrote Republican consultant Mike Murphy].

5) Does a Long Democratic Contest Help McCain?...

Of course.... But the Democratic race has captured the country's attention, and McCain will find it hard to get much attention as long as that battle continues. If it ends in a civil way, the Democratic base will be energized and enthusiastic....

6) Will McCain Prove He Can Win Over Conservatives?...

7) How Long Will Huckabee Keep Going?...

[8)] Which Local Politicians Will Be on the VP Short List?
WaPo left the number "8" off the 8th question. I guess we're not ready to get excited about the VP question yet. Or the "local" (Potomac) politicians aren't too exciting.

Anyway, nice format and analysis from Dan Balz, even if WaPo's editors slacked off on the makeweight questions.

Maybe 7 is a better number. Let me suggest a compression — and reformulation — of 7 and 8:

Is Huckabee running for VP?
My answer is: No. I think Huckabee keeps going because he represents people who are normally taken for granted and who want to remain visible as a distinct bloc. Also, he's like Obama: an upstart political genius. Obama is there for the Democrats saying: Turn the page. Huckabee, too, in his own way, is saying turn the page on the past. You don't have to do what they are telling you to do.

The Wisconsin primary.

Here's some analysis of the Wisconsin primary.
Wisconsin has lots of blue-collar, older and female voters who form the backbone of Hillary Clinton's base.
The "backbone" of the "base"? I wish people would picture their own metaphors for the sake of us readers who see the images in words. I don't like "backbone of the base." If you want to talk about the "base" with a bone metaphor, how about Wisconsin has lots of blue-collar, older and female voters who form Hillary Clinton's pelvis?
It also has plenty of college students, progressives and upper-income independents who favor Barack Obama.
I know, I live in that town. I'm returning there over the weekend — not just to vote — and I'll be interested to see how active things are.

Obama will be in Madison today. As his website puts it: "Obama will be in Madison, WI to talk to supporters at the Kohl Center on February 12th." "Talk to" is funny, because the Kohl Center is a huge arena, seating over 17,000 when it's set up for a basketball game. I'm sorry I'm going to miss that. (If you're going, take pictures and send me links to your Flickr pages and your blogs!) Will Obama pack the Kohl Center? That will be one hell of a rally if the place fills up.

ADDED: If you're at the big rally tonight and can get on the WiFi, comment here and tell us about it while it's going on.

February 11, 2008

I did not have campaign shakeup with that woman, Ms. Solis Doyle.

That's the position taken by Hillary Clinton, as Patti Solis Doyle steps aside and Maggie Williams assumes the role of campaign manager.

Who is this Maggie Williams, and why is she the one to take over the failing campaign? She's never run a political campaign before. Apparently, the big thing about her is that she's the ultimate fierce loyalist:
Even detractors agree with her admirers that Williams would go to the mat for Hillary.

A Kansas City native, Williams, 53, was a central player in the Clinton damage-control machine during the White House years.

In 1995, a uniformed Secret Service officer swore under oath he saw her leave White House lawyer and Hillary confidant Vince Foster's office carrying documents after Foster committed suicide. Williams denied it.

She ran up more than $100,000 in legal bills defending Hillary in various investigations.
Why is this what the campaign needs? (What are they planning to do?!) And, more generally, what does this say about how the Clintons, if elected, will populate the executive branch?

What's the difference between strippers and the "Sex Workers Art Show"?

Stuart Taylor is not about to let Duke University palm off this distinction:
"There is an obvious difference," [Provost Peter Lange said,] "between strippers performing at a private party and a group of artists touring university campuses across the country to present a show with political discussion, musical theater, and displays of sexuality."

So people who take off their clothes and dance for money while others watch are not mere strippers, but rather "artists," if they go on tour, call it "musical theater," and toss in scatological and vulgar political effusions?

As if the nation's campuses were not sufficiently steeped in such stuff already.
Graphic descriptions of the art show at the link.

"Not many 21-year-olds start their Monday with a personal breakfast with Chelsea Clinton, as Rae did this morning at the student union..."

But Rae is someone we call a "superdelegate," and Chelsea is someone we call a... uh... whatever they tell us we're allowed to call her... whatever nice people say about the nice people who are doing whatever they can to close their grip on the most powerful position in the world.

What the Brit learned reading 2 books about the U.S. Supreme Court.

He's lawyer turned columnist, Marcel Berlin:
... I had just finished reading a recent book on the Supreme Court judges: The Nine, by Jeffrey Toobin. What struck me first was how impossible it would be to have such a book here. In the US the nine judges of the highest court are national news: here their equivalent, the 12 law lords, are virtually unknown outside the legal world....

Toobin looks behind the scenes of the court's decision - by a majority of 5-4 - to hand the US presidency to Bush in 2000, following the Florida voting fiasco. His account does not enhance the court's reputation. Reading it made me feel even more strongly than I had before that the case was decided by the majority on primarily political, not legal grounds.

Clarence Thomas, generally regarded as the weakest of the judges, recently published his autobiography, My Grandfather's Son, describing his upbringing as a black child in a poor family in the racist south. It should be an inspiring story. He spoils it by his bitterness, anger, egotism, and the burden of many chips on his shoulders.
Thanks for the pithy summary of your bias.

The McCain response to that Obama video.

Hilarious:



Via John Aravosis. [NOTE: No one could think this video was put out by the McCain campaign. Or so I thought when I titled this post.]

AND: I must add that I find this video hilarious even though I agree with McCain about the Iraq war. And I'm heartened to see that Obama is backing away from any rigid promise to leave Iraq:
"At a time when American casualties are down, at a time when the violence is down, particularly affecting the Iraqi population, is that the right time to try and set time tables for withdrawing all American troops? I mean you talked about…the end of 2009," [Steve] Kroft remarked.

"Yeah, absolutely. I think now is precisely the time. I think that it is very important for us to send a clear signal to the Iraqis that we are not gonna be here permanently. We're not gonna set up permanent bases. That they are going to have to resolve their differences and get their country functioning," Obama said.

"And you pull out according to that time table, regardless of the situation? Even if there’s serious sectarian violence?" Kroft asked.

"No, I always reserve as commander in chief, the right to assess the situation," Obama replied.

"Make no mistake, Mr Obama is a once-in-a-generation possibility."

Writes Clive Crook in the Financial Times:
Admittedly, in many ways he is too good to be true. Hopes of what he might achieve are running out of control. His followers say he is uniquely able to restore US standing in the world, partly by adopting a more conciliatory approach and partly (it seems) by being black.....

What makes Mr Obama remarkable is that his message of hope, resonating so powerfully with black America, is cast to every American, regardless of colour, to Democrats and Republicans alike. This is surpassingly important: a man of outstanding intellect and magnetic personality, he is running on a one-nation platform, as though he merely happened to be black. And the best part is, the whole country is paying attention: polls say that he is more electable in November than Mrs Clinton. In a close election, he could make the difference.

Republicans, of course, are bound to dislike his liberalism – but what is there for Democrats to think about? Why are they even having this conversation? They have been waiting an awfully long time for a politician like Mr Obama. If, having come so close, they still manage to nominate Mrs Clinton, I think it is a choice they will regret for years and maybe decades.
Why are Democrats even having this conversation?

"An uncanny ability to complicate the obvious and sanctify the banal... Bob was charismatic; he was a beacon, a lighthouse. He was also a black hole."

Uh-oh! Suze Rotolo — the girl on the cover of "Blowin’ in the Wind" — is writing her autobiography.

CORRECTION: I mean "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan." "Blowin' in the Wind" is the first song on the album, which I've played thousands of times and allowed to warp my mind in my most formative years:
I'm gonna grow my hair down to my feet so strange
So I look like a walking mountain range
And I'm gonna ride into Omaha on a horse
Out to the country club and the golf course.
Carry the New York Times, shoot a few holes, blow their minds.

"Half the Democrats are going to vote for McCain, and I'm going to be one of them."

Says Mickey Kaus. [WARNING: video.]

For a more subtle analysis of how McCain will succeed within the Electoral College structure, read this.

AND: Don't miss the fact that Mickey's statement is a year old. I'm noticing it because he linked to it today. I knew it was old because he just recorded a Bloggingheads with Bob Wright and he was not wearing that shirt. The funny thing is how much it sounds like something he could say today.

"I don't think I'm going to be bored enough today to read four pages of that..."

Yes, that's what I thought too, when I saw this long, long article in The Atlantic about how women should just go ahead and marry some guy because marriage is really important or some such thing. I don't even want to talk about the basic, boring proposition. I want to know how Lori Gottleib got such a lame piece of work published in The Atlantic....

I guess this is why: so everyone would link to it.

Damn, I don't even want to hit the publish button. Damn.

This reminds me of the best strategy for writing one of those most-cited law review articles. You clearly and strongly state a position that everyone else is going to disagree with. Then when they write their articles, and they need to refer to that position, you'll be the citation.

ADDED: Now, what can I say today that everyone will disagree with?

Maybe she plans to sell the movie rights to her life story.

The role of Heather Mills will be so much juicier with her — not some lawyer — cross-examining Paul McCartney in the big divorce case.

Mills has already refused an offer worth £55 and is seeking £70 million to £80 million, so there is a lot of money at stake, and much of the evidence is about Sir Paul's assets, so you'd think she'd want to keep her lawyers. But apparently she can't get along with them. Couldn't get along with Paul. Couldn't get along with lawyers. Poor girl!

"I'd be more than happy to loan Sen. Obama the winning briefs that helped secure the election of the legitimate winner of the 2000 election."

Says Ted Olson, contemplating the prospect of a lawsuit, brought by Hillary Clinton in Florida state court, over the Democratic Party's refusal to recognize Florida's convention delegates. What if it makes the difference in the nomination and the Florida courts decide in favor of Mrs. Clinton? Would the Supreme Court step in?

"A land of slander and scare; the land of sly innuendo, the poison pen, the anonymous phone call and hustling, pushing, shoving..."

"... the land of smash and grab and anything to win. This is Nixonland."

Said Adlai Stevenson, in 1956, quoted today by Paul Krugman, setting up a discussion of... what? No! You're wrong. He's slamming the Democrats.
The bitterness of the fight for the Democratic nomination is, on the face of it, bizarre....
And who's the new Nixon? No! You're wrong:
I won’t try for fake evenhandedness here: most of the venom I see is coming from supporters of Mr. Obama, who want their hero or nobody. I’m not the first to point out that the Obama campaign seems dangerously close to becoming a cult of personality....

What’s particularly saddening is the way many Obama supporters seem happy with the application of “Clinton rules” — the term a number of observers use for the way pundits and some news organizations treat any action or statement by the Clintons, no matter how innocuous, as proof of evil intent....
I thought Obama was the Kennedy and Hillary was the Nixon. But flip it — there's your column — and let people decide if it makes sense the other way around.

"This is a failure. This is a failure. The troops have succeeded, God bless them."

Nancy Pelosi.

AND: Paired headlines.

"The sacred American principle that all ballots be counted in a free, fair, and transparent manner."

Huckabee cries "outrage" over the " the obvious irregularities in the Washington State Republican precinct caucuses."

"He reached into the birthday cake and just dug out two pieces with his hands."

Well, what are you supposed to do when you're 53 years old and a guest at a party celebrating the 30th birthday of your ex-wife's husband?

"Bye, bye, my life, good-bye."



RIP, Roy Scheider.

"Looking for la langosta blanca - the white lobster."

There's a town where no one needs a real job, because cocaine, tossed overboard by smugglers, washes up on the beach.
"People here now go beachcombing for miles, they walk until the find packets. Even the lobster fisherman now go out with the pretence of fishing but really they are looking for la langosta blanca - the white lobster."

(Via Metafilter.)

Well, what would you do if you happened to live there? Remember, you'd be with all the other people who lived there. Outsiders flow through town, eager to give you cash for whatever you want to sell. It's your decision: Take as much money as you want, use as much cocaine as you want. What would you do? You'd be all:

February 10, 2008

"These accusations that Bill Clinton is a racist I think is just wrong. I just don’t agree with it."

Said President Bush today. What's so funny about that is: It's exactly the way the Clinton campaign would waft an insinuation.

Another good day for Obama.

He wins Maine:
With 70% reporting, Obama had 58% to Hillary's 41%. The surprisingly big victory for Obama came on the same day as the Hillary campaign signaled a recognition of its travails by announcing a shuffling of their inner circle, replacing campaign manager and longtime loyalist Patti Solis Doyle with longtime Hillary confidant Maggie Williams.
And it looks as though Obama is going to win through the rest of February: Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., Wisconsin....

It's a little gruesome. Don't you feel just a little sorry for her?

Dreaming about Wikipedia.

Have you ever dreamed about looking things up in Wikipedia? I have. What were you looking up? I was looking up the number 3. Did you know that Wikipedia has long, elaborate entries on particular numbers. Here's 3. Excerpt:
It is frequently noted by historians of numbers that early counting systems often relied on the three-patterned concept of "One- Two- Many" to describe counting limits. In other words, in their own language equivalent way, early peoples had a word to describe the quantities of one and two, but any quantity beyond this point was simply denoted as "Many". As an extension to this insight, it can also be noted that early counting systems appear to have had limits at the numerals 2, 3, and 4. References to counting limits beyond these three indices do not appear to prevail as consistently in the historical record.
What a great job to be a historian of numbers! Here's the historical progression of the numeral 3 coming to look like our lovely little 3?

Charlize Theron...

... as Hasty Pudding's Woman of the Year:



Photo by Boston Globe's Essdras M. Suarez. More cute pics here.

Obama's big night: "We won North, we won South, we won in between."

Obama wins Washington, Nebraska, and Louisiana. Wide margins everywhere. And — as the quote above says — impressive geographic distribution. Those who would point to Hillary Clinton's consistent lead in the national polls need to remember that the Electoral College determines who wins in the end, and extra votes in California and New York are useless. And neither is popularity in states that will surely go Republican in any close race.

Here's an interactive Electoral College map. You'll see the swing states are beige, and you can pick a year and see who won the various states in past elections. Now, here's a map showing which states Obama and Clinton have won so far. Obama has strong appeal — or Hillary is unappealing — in the nation's midsection. Is a picture of Obama's electability emerging?

We were just talking last night about what the superdelegates can fairly do with their power. One argument is that they must vote to produce the result that would obtain if there were no superdelegates.

But isn't it fair for them to look at who can take the party to victory in the end? Isaac Chotiner argues:
Think of it like this: you are a superdelegate or party boss. You have been undecided but now must choose between two candidates with roughly equal numbers of delegates. Most of all, you want to win in November, which is now only three months away. And while one of your two choices is consistently beating the Republican nominee in polls, the other is consistently losing.
Chotiner hasn't gotten to the point where he sees that it's the Electoral College that matters, but his main idea is that superdelegates will be influenced by data about who's more likely to beat the Republican nominee.

Yesterday, I linked to Chris Bowers, who made this threat:
If the Democratic Party does not nominate the candidate for POTUS that the majority (or plurality) of its participants in primaries and caucuses want it to nominate, then I will quit the Democratic Party... [If the] "super" delegates nominate someone for POTUS other than the person who received the most support during Democratic primaries and caucuses, then I fail to see any reason to continue participating in the Democratic Party. If the Democratic Party is not a democratic institution, then to hell with the Democratic Party.
Well, he sounds angry, but what exactly is the standard?
A 1% lead or more in pledged delegates from all 50 states and every territory. If it falls in between the plus or minus 1% range, I'll cut some lack. Otherwise, none.
So, fine, he's not looking at a national poll or going on the numbers of voters/caucus-goers. This shows some sensitivity toward the electoral map. But he's not taking into account any subtleties of who has support in the states that will be hard-fought in the general election. He throws in the territories, which have no electoral votes, and he doesn't have a good way — as far as I can figure out — to deal with the botched process in the big swing states of Michigan and Florida.

It seems to me that the superdelegates are in a position to account for some complex considerations of democracy as it plays out in our peculiar electoral process. The only reason to lock the superdelegates into a formula the way Bowers wants is that you don't trust them to think in a sophisticated way about legitimate factors. You're afraid of the politics that will go on behind the scenes. I understand that fear, but so will the superdelegates. The check on behind-the-scenes deals and corruption is that they will know the people will be hypervigilant and easily outraged.

ADDED: Here's the way Barack Obama puts it:
My strong belief is that if we end up with the most states and the most pledged delegates from the most voters in the country, that it would be problematic for the political insiders to overturn the judgment of the voters. I think it is also important for superdelegates to think about who will be in the strongest position to defeat John McCain in November and who will be in the strongest position to ensure that we are broadening the base, bringing people who historically have not gotten involved in politics into the fold.
See? He's pushing a subtle, multi-factored approach that serves him well. I assume Mrs. Clinton will do the same. The linked article quotes her saying:
Superdelegates are, by design, supposed to exercise independent judgment. But, of course, if Senator Obama and his campaign continue to push this position, which is really contrary to what the definition of a superdelegate has historically been, I will look forward to receiving the support of Senator Kennedy and Senator Kerry.
Ha ha. It's an old quote. (Both Kennedy and Kerry have declared their support for Obama.) That was mean! Anyway, I look forward to seeing how she puts it to adapt to the changing circumstances.

ADDED: I misread the Clinton quote, which isn't old. It's a sound witticism.