May 10, 2008

It's the reality show where you take the really dopey dumb guys from other reality shows.

You know: Jason Castro from "American Idol," Mark Simmons from "Top Chef," and Erik Reichenback from "Survivor."
I just want to see these three guys living in a house together and see what the hell happens, if anything... Mark, Jason and Erik together making sweet music, tasty eats and getting a bit of redemption while hanging out.

ADDED: Andrew Sullivan is getting all analytical about "American Idol":
Between Jason Castro and David Archuleta, you see two ways of living in the world: one sacrificed to external recognition and one indifferent to it. We all have a bit of each in us in this tabloid, celebrified world. But Jason, to my mind, will probably live a much happier life.

Well, I'm not a Jason Castro or a David Archuleta, but I just want to bring this back to the idea of a new reality show. What 2 characters from other reality shows should we put in a house with David Archuleta and see what happens?

Are there better window boxes anywhere than in Brooklyn Heights?

These appear within one block on Columbia Heights just north of Pierrepont Street:

Window Boxes in Brooklyn Heights

Window Boxes in Brooklyn Heights

Window Boxes in Brooklyn Heights

I'm very impressed by the care taken arranging the plants and know from personal experience that it's a lot of trouble to keep these things watered and unwilted.

ADDED: Notice how all 3 of the designs have structure to them. There's a rhythm to the colors, a horizontal flow of shapes, and a distinct upright element in the center. The first 2 also have a downward plant, while the third one use the elaborate container to make the lower portion of the design interesting. The ups and downs on the box in the center are particularly dramatic. I wish I'd kept track over the course of the year to see how these window boxes change, but I think they are done and redone with the seasons. I also appreciate the shiny clean windows that reflect the trees and bring even more nature to the picture within the window frame. And note how the first window includes a lace curtain with a leafy design. All those layers! I imagine inside there are plants and flowers and maybe furniture upholstered with flowery fabrics, making the view from the inside perspective even more lush.

Here's the post where I reach out to readers 2 ways.

1. I'm thinking of doing a farewell-to-Brooklyn meetup with readers. This will need to be in the next few days. You have to email me (using my first and last name without a space, followed by and say you're interested in attending in order to get the time and place.

2. I'm planning to travel somewhere this summer, probably by car within the United States, but I'm contemplating going further afield. Travel for me means an opportunity to blog about different things — and especially to photoblog. So: where would you like to see me blog from?

Could you wrestle the sensory input and intense emotions into the teaching moment about American slavery this is supposed to be?

I'm all for nude statues in museums, but check out this glamorous slave on display at the Brooklyn Museum:

Glamorous slave with Abe Lincoln

And see who's brooding in the shadows behind her?

Bust of Abraham Lincoln

It's Abe Lincoln. (As sculpted by Augustus Saint-Gaudens in 1922.) The lady is "The Greek Slave," sculpted by Hiram S. Powers, an American, in 1869.

The museum is clearly set up for the benefit of the many schoolchildren who pass through, and I don't know how teachers use this particular juxtaposition, but obviously they are supposed to do something here.

Here's what the museum's website says about the slave statue, which is absurdly out of touch with the slave experience:
Hiram Powers was part of a large community of expatriate American sculptors who lived in Italy in order to obtain the training, materials, and assistants necessary to create monumental Neoclassical sculpture in marble. This work, the last of six versions Powers made (the first version dates from 1841–47), represents the plight of Greek women who were enslaved during their war of independence with the Turks (1821–30). The image of a naked, manacled woman took on added significance in antebellum America, where it came to be associated with this nation's enslaved blacks. When it was exhibited, The Greek Slave attracted large audiences and elicited impassioned commentary from priests, critics, and others sympathetic to the abolitionist cause. For example, one reporter for an antislavery newspaper wrote: "As this elegant statue traverses the land, may many … be awakened to a sense of the enormity of slavery.… Waste not your sympathies on the senseless marble, but reserve some tears for the helpless humanity that lies quivering beneath the lash of American freemen!"
What would you say if you were herding school kids through an art museum and they rounded the corner to see this dramatically lit — dazzlingly white — beautiful naked woman? It would take a long time before the kids would perceive Abe. Could you wrestle the sensory input and intense emotions into the teaching moment about American slavery this is supposed to be?

IN THE COMMENTS: Lots of great stuff but I must highlight this from JohnAnnArbor:
Augustus Saint-Gaudens died in 1907. So what's up with the post-death statue?
Good question for the kids to ask the teacher. I mean, I was just reading the museum's own label:


If I were the teacher, winging it, I'd say:
Well, children, do you think a dead man could sculpt Lincoln? Did he need to die to find Lincoln in Heaven so he could get him to sit for a portrait? [Kids laugh.] Do you think the museum made a mistake on the label? Let's assume it's not a mistake. How could the numbers be right? [Get kids to notice that this is a bronze cast and that Saint-Gaudens probably worked in clay and someone else did the casting, and 1922 is probably the year the bronze was made.]

Michelle won't let Barack pick Hillary as VP.

Robert Novak says:
The Democratic front-runner's wife did not comment on other rival candidates for the party's nomination, but she has been sniping at Clinton since last summer. According to Obama sources, those public utterances do not reveal the extent of her hostility.
And please don't call it the "Queen Bee Syndrome."
Do you know what the Queen Bee Syndrome is? There will not be two women sharing power. One of the women will see to it, that the other woman is under the bus.
That definition of the term came from Rush Limbaugh in the context of saying why Nancy Pelosi would want to prevent Hillary from getting the VP slot:
So Nancy Pelosi... was asked about the concept of a "dream ticket" for the Democrat Party.... The Queen Bee in Washington, Nancy Pelosi, threw "cold water" on this whole idea. She said, "Take it from me -- that won't be the ticket." A bunch of reporters then shouted, 'Why?' Pelosi declined to elaborate. 'Do you want me to go through a lifetime of political gut?' said Pelosi... 'I do think we'll have a dream team -- it just won't be those two names,'" meaning, if Nancy Pelosi has anything to say about it, Hillary Clinton will not be anywhere near the Democrat nomination.... The last thing she wants is Hillary Clinton in the White House. That will render her unnoticeable as speaker of the House. Neutered, if you will. Spayed. So what will happen here (laughter) is that Pelosi, who already holds her seat, is going to do whatever she has to, to see to it that Hillary does not get hers. I mean, it's fine if she stays over there in the Senate, and even better if she goes back to the Senate as a loser.
Do powerful women hate to see other women succeed? Do they want to be the only woman? Or do you think "sisterhood is powerful" at the highest levels? Surely, Michelle Obama has plenty of reason to hate Hillary, but don't you think she wants to be the First Lady? If a woman is Vice President, that woman seems to be above the President's wife. She'd be the first lady.

Michelle would even have competition as the top spouse of the land, what with a former President roaming in and about the VP mansion. He'd catch the spotlight, project the glamour.

And speaking of Bill Clinton... Hillary certainly made it her business over the years to keep other women down whenever those women interfered with her plan to ascend to power via the spousal role. There was no powerful sisterhood then. And now: turnabout! Turnabout is... a bitch.

5,000-year-old dancer.

Egyptian tomb figure, c. 3500 BC

A figure, found in a tomb from pre-dynastic Egypt. On display at the Brooklyn Museum of Art.

"There should be stringent laws, licensing laws, to make sure produce is only used in season and season only."

Gordon Ramsay.

Obama insinuated that McCain is senile, and the wily McCain took advantage.

Look at this, which I think CNN obtusely misheadlined:
McCain's campaign reacted with outrage Thursday to Obama's remark that the senator was “losing his bearings” over the course of the campaign — a phrase they said was a dig at the Arizona senator's age. But McCain himself said Friday the language didn't bother him.

“I ignore it,” McCain said. “I don’t take offense to it.”

Asked if the Obama comment was in fact a reference to his age — and whether that topic was a fair issue in the campaign — McCain said voters are welcome to discuss it.

“Any discussion in my view of any issue that the American people think is legitimate is up to them,” McCain said, adding that the topic of Obama’s former pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright is also fair game.

“Every issue that the American people want to be an issue, if it's part of their discussions, it's fine with me, it's fine with me,” he said. “Just as the Rev. Wright’s remarks. I don’t believe that Sen. Obama shares his views in any way, but he has said it’s a legitimate topic of discussion. If that’s what the American people want to discuss, that’s fine.”
1. When McCain says it didn't bother him, he's demonstrating that he's not the hothead he's reputed to be.

2. He showed that he's sharp and therefore it's wrong to insinuate that he's getting senile.

3. There really is nothing McCain can do about his age, which is plainly visible and which people — including me — are going to think about a lot whether Obama pushes us to think about it or not.

4. McCain highlights that Obama has stepped down from that lofty, inspiration plane where some people think he dwells.

5. (And this is where he really, humorously took advantage.) McCain turned the occasion into an opportunity to restate some of the most worrisome things about Obama as if he wasn't even the one bringing them up.

Well played!

May 9, 2008

"I've been to 57 states."

Whoops! Who's losing it now?

I love the way he pauses and really thinks before adding the "-seven."

AND: Let's try to make a list of the 9 additional states Obama envisions in our audaciously hopeful collection of states. (I'm saying 9 not 7 because he asserts that he's been to 2 less than the total.)

How is it that a picture of me...

... taken 27 years ago... has come to represent The Law Student?

Coming in out of the rain.

Empire Diner

Empire Diner

At the Empire Diner in Chelsea.

Vegetable music.

This is actually a whole YouTube genre. Music played with vegetables. I've been fascinated by music played on things other than musical instruments ever since I saw the Incredible String Band in concert in 1969 and they kicked an old trunk for a bass drum. Or maybe ever since I was a kid in Delaware playing music with a blade of grass:

No, that's not me! We didn't have videocams in the 50s. Plus, that seems to be Canada.

"He regurgitated in his plate of food when I asked him about it. So I knew there was some truth to the story."

For the annals of lie detection.

If John McCain said, 'I got the white vote, baby!' his candidacy would be over."

Peggy Noonan on Hillary.
To play the race card as Mrs. Clinton has, to highlight and encourage a sense that we are crudely divided as a nation, to make your argument a brute and cynical "the black guy can't win but the white girl can" is -- well, so vulgar, so cynical, so cold, that once again a Clinton is making us turn off the television in case the children walk by.

"She has unleashed the gates of hell," a longtime party leader told me. "She's saying, 'He's not one of us.'"

"But they've given a 22-year-old woman the legs and bottom of an 80-year-old."

Is some nefarious paparazzo photoshopping cellulite onto pictures of Mischa Barton's thighs?

Here's the picture.

There's a whole huge genre of celebrity pics that show flaws: cellulite, pimples, pot bellies, rotting skin, bald spots. In the endless barrage of photography we need this break from the usual glossy, plastic prettiness, don't we? We're only human. Or should we be ashamed? Isn't it enough that we demand authentic cellulite, pimples, pot bellies, rotting skin, and bald spots? Keep it honest, paparazzi. Don't spoil our evil fun.

Does this statue of Martin Luther King, Jr. look too much like that statue of Saddam Hussein we pulled down in Baghdad?

WaPo reports:
A powerful federal arts commission is urging that the sculpture of Martin Luther King Jr. proposed for a memorial on the Tidal Basin be reworked because it is too "confrontational" and reminiscent of political art in totalitarian states.

The U.S. Commission of Fine Arts thinks "the colossal scale and Social Realist style of the proposed statue recalls a genre of political sculpture that has recently been pulled down in other countries," commission secretary Thomas Luebke said in a letter in April.

By law, no project like the memorial can go forward without approval from the commission, the federal agency that advises the government on public design and aesthetics in the capital.

A model of the statue has been built in China. The project's chief architect, Ed Jackson Jr., huddled with advisers this week in Ann Arbor, Mich., to discuss ways to address the commission's objections before sculpting of the granite statue begins.

"We said: 'Okay, this is what the commission said. How best can we achieve that and retain what we have accomplished thus far?' "

It is the second time in recent months that the memorial to the slain civil rights leader has come under fire. Last year, critics complained after a Chinese sculptor known for his monumental works of figures such as Mao Zedong was selected to create King and other elements of the memorial in China.
The sculpture — you can see the model of it at the link — is to be 28 feet tall. That's 8 feet taller than the statue of Abraham Lincoln in the Lincoln Monument, but Lincoln is sitting down, so the scale is somewhat smaller. If you've ever seen the Lincoln statue in person, you know it's huge, much bigger than it seems in photographs. It's actually quite weird, I think. But why shouldn't the MLK monument be on a similar scale? And once you decide you want a large statue of a man, what is going to prevent it from looking like social realist sculptures? It's inherent in the concept. If social realist statues bother you, maybe you shouldn't order a colossus.

That said, perceptions of this particular colossus may be affected by 2 things:

1. The knowledge that the sculptor — Lei Yixin — is Chinese and made big statues of Mao Zedong.

2. Racism. You see a black man and you worry that he's angry or on the verge of a violent outburst. This man looks "confrontational."

Now, are these inappropriate considerations that we need to put aside in order to judge the statue properly? It's not obvious.

As to influence #1, the choice of the sculptor has already taken place, and it's not fair to reject him now for what we knew of him then. Nevertheless, we may expect him to express American values and even to exaggerate those values so that an average viewer who knows the sculptor made Mao statues will not see anything Maoist about the MLK statue. The sculptor has got a deficit to make up, and we ought to think about that as we judge his work. That's the argument that it's acceptable to not to overcome influence #1.

As to influence #2, you know very well that you should not be racist. But perhaps we should take into account that people viewing the statue are human and will therefore perceive a statue of a black man through whatever racism remains in their thought patterns. If there is to be a statue honoring a black man, perhaps the sculptor must make a special effort to avoid a depiction that prompts any racist perceptions. That's the argument that it's acceptable not to overcome influence #2 in judging the statue.

Now, with that in mind, what do we think of the Commission's criticism?
Its general design was approved by the seven-member federal commission that year, based on drawings of the Stone of Hope that showed a more subtle image of King, from the waist up, as if he were emerging organically out of the rock, the commission said....

Commission members said the sculpture "now features a stiffly frontal image, static in pose, confrontational in character," Luebke wrote. They "recommended strongly that the sculpture be reworked, both in form and modeling" and cited "precedents of a figure emerging from stone in the works of sculptors such as Michelangelo and Rodin."

The commission objected to what it perceived as the loss of the subtle way King seemed to be coming out of the stone in the drawings, Luebke said.

"I think that the metaphor of Dr. King being merged with the natural forces of this stone is absolutely essential to avoid colossal monumentalization," commission member N. Michael McKinnell said at the April 17 meeting.
So the large block of stone is crucial to the design. It's abstract and metaphorical. I have to agree that it looks like the sculptor wanted to depict a freestanding human figure and mainly annoyed at the restrictive block of stone connected to it. Yet that itself is metaphorical. Those Michelangelo sculptures Luebke is talking about were slaves. Their oneness with the stone expressed slavery. The MLK image should not relate to the stone in quite the same way. I think the real issue here is whether the thing is well sculpted. To my eye, it is not. The figure-stone relationship is not interesting or beautiful.

But the emerging-from-the-stone problem is less troublesome than the crossed arms. Jackson (the architect) defends the stance, and notes that they had a photograph of MLK with his arms crossed like that. But of course, there are innumerable photos of MLK and most of them, I'm sure, would never suggested themselves as a good model for a large statue. The point is the sculptor and his team liked the attitude of confrontation. They wanted MLK the "warrior." One consultant said they rejected the notion of MLK as "pacifist, placid, kind of vanilla." But crossed arms expressed resistance and even rejection. Much as MLK had cause to express such things in his lifetime, the question is what one expression do we now want carved in stone. Shouldn't he be more positive and welcoming? Shouldn't he love us now that we love him?

Or are we only thinking that way because we haven't gotten used to it?

Would you reject the brooding, downcast Lincoln sculpture if you were seeing it for the first time?

Oh, good Lord, he's so depressed! His clothes are horribly sagging. And he's slumping in that chair with his big, gawky hands hanging over those big Roman fasces. Fascism!

May 8, 2008

Why bury trees?

Carbon sequestration!

But wouldn't it be much better to bury paper — like all that newspaper and office paper that we've been wasting energy recycling?

Things draftsmen think that aren't true but make cool drawings.

Let me recommend 2 exhibits at The Drawing Center in SoHo.

First, there are these Frederick Kiesler drawings, exhibited on this curvy glass table that fits well with Kiesler's concept of the "Endless House."


At the first link, you can find the place to click to hear Kiesler describe his Endless House, which supposedly inspired a lot of modern architects, but really seems horribly misguided in so many ways. It actually doesn't hurt us that rooms have flat floors that are floors and then straight walls that are walls and flat ceilings that are ceilings. We really like that. Right angles are perfectly fine too. But it's touching to hear Kiesler explain that this is not so.

Then there are these very cool Yüksel Arslan drawings, which seem intended to denounce capitalism, but that probably cost a lot of money and, in fact, would make fabulous decor for a young and hip rich man's office suite. You need to go see these drawings in person, because there is a lot of tiny detail and script. (Hope you read French!) For example, there are a lot of businessmen with heads made of quarters or dimes and they are shaking hands, engaging in transactions — ooh, the perfidy!

"Lots of Things Like This."

You've got only 2 more days to see "Lots of Things Like This," an exhibition of artworks that satisfy 3 criteria devised by David Eggers:
1. An image
2. Some words (usually referring to the image)
3. A sense of humor
If you don't like anything pretentious, this is the show for you. Check out some of the drawings and little paintings — reproduced in this PDF. Eggers says he just wanted "to put an enjoyable exhibit together, to cover the walls with strange and funny things." Or skip the show, get out a pencil and paper and draw your own image with some words and make it strange and funny. Eggers wrote a little brochure to go with the show, which you can read at the link. It contains many pointedly undeep thoughts like:
Why is it that so many of these artists aren’t so great at spelling? And why is it that when they screw up one of their words, instead of starting over, they just cross the word out and write it again? Many people would choose to start over.
Or maybe you think this is pretentious. Stealth pretentious.

Abu Ayyab al-Masri.



"David Chalmers... admitted he loved some of the negative emotions like sadness, melancholy, anger and jealousy."

The philosophy professor goes against the grain at the happiness conference.

Yesterday's paper.


“Eggheads and African-Americans."

A memorable phrase, a classic encounter:

Man, if my head looked like Paul Begala's, I would not use the term "eggheads." But anyway, isn't he right? Donna Brazile does an excellent job of getting mad on camera, but it's pure pretense. Everyone knows a political strategist has to analyze the various demographic groups.

"Does it not grate on you that Mrs. Clinton's most staunch supporter, most important backer, has been me, Rush Limbaugh...?"

I love this hilarious, multi-layered flight of humor — in the feminist style:
Ladies, doesn't it all sound too familiar? Once again, a woman is told to put her dreams aside to benefit a man, to benefit a party of men. Obama, a freshman senator who has paid no dues, is treated like anointed royalty; while a hard-working woman who has battled her entire life to break the glass ceiling is treated like a leftover meal, and thrown down the garbage disposal. You know how this feels. You've been in Hillary's shoes. You've seen the pretty boys that come in the office, almost no experience. They glad-hand the boss; they take credit for your work, talk a good game with real specifics, and then what happens? They get promoted while you, the hardworking backbone of the office, are told to go fetch the coffee or set up meetings for these dweebs that couldn't carry your bra if they had to.
Read the whole thing. (Or subscribe and listen to the audio.)

"Well, here we are on top of the world, and we have arrived at this peak to stay there forever."

"There is, of course, a thing called history, but history is something unpleasant that happens to other people. We are comfortably outside all of that I am sure."

So wrote the historian Arnold Toynbee, describing his childhood impression — he was 8 in 1897 — of the Diamond Jubilee — the celebration of 60 years of Queen Victoria's monarchy.

Quoted by Fareed Zakaria in "The Future of American Power: How America Can Survive the Rise of the Rest" — a very interesting article that is (qualifiedly) optimistic about America — even though we know what happened to Britain.
The problem today is that the U.S. political system seems to have lost its ability to fix its ailments. The economic problems in the United States today are real, but by and large they are not the product of deep inefficiencies within the U.S. economy, nor are they reflections of cultural decay. They are the consequences of specific government policies. Different policies could quickly and relatively easily move the United States onto a far more stable footing. A set of sensible reforms could be enacted tomorrow to trim wasteful spending and subsidies, increase savings, expand training in science and technology, secure pensions, create a workable immigration process, and achieve significant efficiencies in the use of energy. Policy experts do not have wide disagreements on most of these issues, and none of the proposed measures would require sacrifices reminiscent of wartime hardship, only modest adjustments of existing arrangements. And yet, because of politics, they appear impossible. The U.S. political system has lost the ability to accept some pain now for great gain later on.

As it enters the twenty-first century, the United States is not fundamentally a weak economy or a decadent society. But it has developed a highly dysfunctional politics. What was an antiquated and overly rigid political system to begin with (now about 225 years old) has been captured by money, special interests, a sensationalist media, and ideological attack groups. The result is ceaseless, virulent debate about trivia -- politics as theater -- and very little substance, compromise, or action. A can-do country is now saddled with a do-nothing political process, designed for partisan battle rather than problem solving.
Ceaseless, virulent debate about trivia...

Hmmm.... must move on to the next post.

Okay, guys — put on your pants!

Conservatives are (supposedly) happier than liberals and (supposedly) scientists have discovered why.

Here's the article (and tell me if the reason the scientists have discovered isn't the same thing that left-wing ideology tells us):
Individuals with conservative ideologies are happier than liberal-leaners, and new research pinpoints the reason: Conservatives rationalize social and economic inequalities.
Are conservatives the kind of heartless/head-in-the-sand people who rationalize away troublesome truths? Or do people become conservative to gain the benefits of the rationalizing escape from troublesome truths?
Regardless of marital status, income or church attendance, right-wing individuals reported greater life satisfaction and well-being than left-wingers, the new study found. Conservatives also scored highest on measures of rationalization, which gauge a person's tendency to justify, or explain away, inequalities.

The rationalization measure included statements such as: "It is not really that big a problem if some people have more of a chance in life than others," and "This country would be better off if we worried less about how equal people are."
Face it. Conservatives are assholes. Science says! And don't start rationalizing away what science says, you asshole.
To justify economic inequalities, a person could support the idea of meritocracy, in which people supposedly move up their economic status in society based on hard work and good performance. In that way, one's social class attainment, whether upper, middle or lower, would be perceived as totally fair and justified.

If your beliefs don't justify gaps in status, you could be left frustrated and disheartened, according to the researchers, Jaime Napier and John Jost of New York University. They conducted a U.S.-centric survey and a more internationally focused one to arrive at the findings.

"Our research suggests that inequality takes a greater psychological toll on liberals than on conservatives," the researchers write in the June issue of the journal Psychological Science, "apparently because liberals lack ideological rationalizations that would help them frame inequality in a positive (or at least neutral) light."
They especially lack the rationalization powers that would allow them to frame conservatives as anything but assholes. These liberals must starkly confront the brutal reality that conservatives are too heartless, stupid, greedy, or cowardly to perceive. At least that's the way the liberals like to frame it.

ADDED: Don Surber says factor in age: If older people are happier and older people are more conservative, the pattern is explained. But maybe older people are happier and more conservative because they're prone to rationalize. Those bastards!

Let's judge Hillary Clinton's executive aptitude by the campaign she managed.

Karen Tumulty at Time has a great list of 5 mistakes Clinton made. Let me focus on #2:
Clinton picked people for her team primarily for their loyalty to her, instead of their mastery of the game. That became abundantly clear in a strategy session last year, according to two people who were there. As aides looked over the campaign calendar, chief strategist Mark Penn confidently predicted that an early win in California would put her over the top because she would pick up all the state's 370 delegates.
Wow! Mark Penn's awfulness continues to amaze me. And, of course, it's not really Mark Penn that is so awful, but Hillary for choosing and sticking with Mark Penn.
It sounded smart, but as every high school civics student now knows, Penn was wrong: Democrats, unlike the Republicans, apportion their delegates according to vote totals, rather than allowing any state to award them winner-take-all. Sitting nearby, veteran Democratic insider Harold M. Ickes, who had helped write those rules, was horrified — and let Penn know it. "How can it possibly be," Ickes asked, "that the much vaunted chief strategist doesn't understand proportional allocation?" And yet the strategy remained the same, with the campaign making its bet on big-state victories. Even now, it can seem as if they don't get it. Both Bill and Hillary have noted plaintively that if Democrats had the same winner-take-all rules as Republicans, she'd be the nominee.

Read the whole list of 5. As I said to Jeralyn Merritt in the new Bloggingheads episode, we should judge the candidates' executive aptitude by the campaigns they managed. Seen that way, Hillary Clinton would be an abysmal President.

UPDATE: Penn denies that he lacked understanding of the proportional approach to delegates.

Hillary Clinton for VP?

There's a lot of talk about this exchange
CHARLES GIBSON: Is there any discussion of what kind of an exit strategy there would be?

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: There are various exit strategies right now. Number one would be, go out on a win. So, stay in until West Virginia, where Sen. Clinton is likely the winner, and Kentucky on May 20, and after that, bow out. Two, negotiate for the imposition of Michigan and Florida, to get those delegations seated, declare victory on that, and get out. But the big one, Charlie and this is what some people close to the Clintons are talking about: Is there a way to negotiate a settlement with Barack Obama to have Sen. Clinton on the ticket?

CHARLES GIBSON: And what do they think?

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: It's hard to know. I mean, first of all, would Sen. Obama go for it? Can he get over the bitterness of this campaign? Can he be convinced that it's the strongest ticket? Third, of course, would Sen. Clinton take it? I think if it was offered in the right way, yes.
I hate the idea of Hillary as VP.

Here's Josh Marshall on the subject:
Does Hillary Clinton really want the vice presidency? It seems to me that the senate offers her a better venue for achieving her ambitions and goals personally, politically and in public policy -- and a future in public life with much greater longevity -- than anything she'll find as Barack Obama's number two....

Most people who accept the vice presidency do so either because they believe it will line them up to succeed to the presidency or because it brings them to a level of power and honor their careers held little prospect of bringing them otherwise. But neither applies to Hillary Clinton. She's already of the stature and standing to run for president. She's a genuinely historic figure. And she's already been heavily involved in a successful two term administration.

Remember too that the recent trend for greater vice presidential involvement in key administration decision-making has brought with it a flat requirement that vice presidents be strictly loyal and politically subservient to the president. Quite simply, the vice presidency is beneath Hillary's stature....
Also, I can't understand this notion that Obama would pay Clinton to get out of the race — that is, that his campaign would pay her debts for her. Clinton spent her own money on her campaign. How is it permissible for Obama to refill Clinton's personal bank account? I don't know the election law here. I am simply asking why this outrageous bribery is even allowed.

That last link is also to Josh Marshall, who says:
Helping to retire an opponent's campaign is not unprecedented and can sometimes be justified in the interests of party unity... But using more than $10 million raised in large part by small individual donations to pay back the Clintons who appear to be worth many tens of millions of dollars simply seems wrong....

Frankly, I'm surprised that it's even being suggested. It would be a mistake for the Clintons to ask (and just because people are chattering about it -- don't assume they have or will), a mistake for Obama to offer and one that would risk a severe backlash.

That's not what people gave their money for.
That's for sure.

Hillary Clinton's best argument to the superdelegates.

Look at these Electoral College maps.

"I wish you'd stay in Brooklyn, as Madison is such a PC backwater."

Wrote commenter Kirby Olson in my post with the photograph of a small protest march, taken from my 9th floor window at Brooklyn Law School. He says there are "real events" in New York City and "history is being made. Whereas Madison is from the 80s." He asks the provocative question: "How can you stand to go back?"

By the way, Kirby has a blog called Lutheran Surrealism, and his blogger profile lists his favorite music as Bach and Captain Beefheart, and if you know me, you should know that these things make me more willing to answer his question.

My answer will be a numbered list.

1. What's the difference between looking at an event through a dusty 9th story window and watching it on television? I am able to monitor the news of everywhere from anywhere. The question is what place keeps me alert and attentive and in a state of mind where I can think and write something worthwhile about what I'm seeing.

2. I am constantly encountering protest marches and other sorts of incidents in Madison, and I can photograph them and talk about them in a way that brings more value because: a. So few of you are in Madison, and b. My Madison readers don't normally get the perspective this blog and its commenters bring to the city. It's a plus that Madison is whatever it is that makes Kirby say "PC backwater."

3. Maybe you are concerned that the pleasures of life do not flow to me in Madison and that New York City is, by contrast, a glorious playground. There is suffering and pleasure anywhere. You need life skills, luck, and perspective to enjoy living where you live. I can not only "stand to go back" to Madison, I eagerly anticipate it.

4. ...

May 7, 2008

A new Bloggingheads!

It's me and Jeralyn Merritt again. Topics:
Did the mayor of Gary, IN try to sabotage Hillary’s victory? (08:34)
Jeralyn makes the case for Clinton to stay in (09:39)
Ann fears Obama is too liberal, Jeralyn that he’s not liberal enough (05:59)
Will voters think Obama is angry because he’s black? (08:35)
What’s the real difference between Obama and Hillary? (04:46)
Looking ahead to a McCain Supreme Court (05:19)

ADDED: I just watched the episode and see that I neglected to connect up one thought: Hammond, Indiana got me thinking about Jean Shepherd because Jean Shepherd was from Hammond, Indiana. You know, it's not easy to use the stream-of-consciousness methodology.

"No justice. No peace."


Passing under my Brooklyn Law School office window: a march protesting the acquittal of the police detectives in the Sean Bell shooting. The protesters chanted "No justice. No peace." They also chanted the numbers 1 through 50 — for the 50 bullets shot in the incident. This photo — taken through window glass with an iPhone — shows the entire group in the Brooklyn march, which was 1 of 6 marches in NYC today.



Pick Obama: He's taller.

Plouffe to the superdelegates:
We played by the rules, set by you, the D.N.C. members, and campaigned as hard as we could, in as many places as we could, to acquire delegates. Essentially, the popular vote is not much better as a metric than basing the nominee on which candidate raised more money, has more volunteers, contacted more voters, or is taller.
His argument is, of course, that candidate with the most pledged delegates should get the superdelegates' vote, but, really, why shouldn't the superdelegates take every relevant factor into account? The superdelegates are part of the rules, so it isn't necessary to bind them to any specific "metric" in order to legitimize their role.

Let them consider who is taller if tallness helps the party with the election. And it does, doesn't it? Picture a debate with McCain and Obama. Literally, picture it, the 2 men standing side by side. Obama's height will affect voters' minds whether you like it or not.

McCain's judges.

John McCain gave a speech on judicial appointments yesterday, and it made me want to go back to a conference call he did with bloggers — including me — on April 27, 2007:
Ah. I got my question in just now, which was to invite him to talk about what sort of person he would put on the Supreme Court, and specifically if he would strengthen a conservative majority or if he would work with liberals and others who care about preserving the balance that we've had on the Court for so long. He said he wanted, above all, a person with "a proven record of strict construction." This is "probably a conservative position, but," he said, "I'm proud of that position." He wants judges who won't "legislate." Then, he added that "this is new" and something we may not have heard: he'd like someone who had not just judicial experience but also "some other life experiences," such as time in the military, in a corporation, or in a small business. He would like to see "not just vast judicial knowledge, but also knowledge of the world."
Now, let's see what he said yesterday. Excerpts:
For decades now, some federal judges have taken it upon themselves to pronounce and rule on matters that were never intended to be heard in courts or decided by judges. With a presumption that would have amazed the framers of our Constitution, and legal reasoning that would have mystified them, federal judges today issue rulings and opinions on policy questions that should be decided democratically.
This is the standard conservative criticism of federal judges.
My two prospective opponents and I have very different ideas about the nature and proper exercise of judicial power. We would nominate judges of a different kind, a different caliber, a different understanding of judicial authority and its limits....
Of course, this is right.
One Justice of the Court remarked in a recent opinion that he was basing a conclusion on "my own experience," even though that conclusion found no support in the Constitution, or in applicable statutes, or in the record of the case in front of him. Such candor from the bench is rare and even commendable.
He's referring to Justice Stevens's opinion in the lethal injection case, Baze v. Rees. ("I have relied on my own experience in reaching the conclusion that the imposition of the death penalty represents 'the pointless and needless extinction of life with only marginal contributions to any discernible social or public purposes. A penalty with such negligible returns to the State [is] patently excessive and cruel and unusual punishment violative of the Eighth Amendment.'") Back to McCain:
Sometimes the expressed will of the voters is disregarded by federal judges, as in a 2005 case concerning an aggravated murder in the State of Missouri. As you might recall, the case inspired a Supreme Court opinion that left posterity with a lengthy discourse on international law, the constitutions of other nations, the meaning of life, and "evolving standards of decency." These meditations were in the tradition of "penumbras," "emanations," and other airy constructs the Court has employed over the years as poor substitutes for clear and rigorous constitutional reasoning. The effect of that ruling in the Missouri case was familiar too. When it finally came to the point, the result was to reduce the penalty, disregard our Constitution, and brush off the standards of the people themselves and their elected representatives.
This refers to Justice Kennedy's opinion in Roper v. Simmons. Tremendous hostility was aimed at Kennedy over this opinion, you may remember.

I'm skipping over his discussion of Kelo and the flag pledge case to shorten this post, but, like the whole speech, it's very well composed. McCain has fine legal advisors (and he will have them when he's picking his judges).

He goes on to a long criticism of the Senate's approach to judicial confirmations. He doesn't say how he can appoint fully conservative judges when he needs the Senate's confirmation. Won't some moderation be required — especially if one of the liberal Justices of the Supreme Court steps down? The answer is obviously yes.
Senator Obama in particular likes to talk up his background as a lecturer on law, and also as someone who can work across the aisle to get things done. But when Judge Roberts was nominated, it seemed to bring out more the lecturer in Senator Obama than it did the guy who can get things done. He went right along with the partisan crowd, and was among the 22 senators to vote against this highly qualified nominee. And just where did John Roberts fall short, by the Senator's measure? Well, a justice of the court, as Senator Obama explained it -- and I quote -- should share "one's deepest values, one's core concerns, one's broader perspectives on how the world works, and the depth and breadth of one's empathy."

These vague words attempt to justify judicial activism -- come to think of it, they sound like an activist judge wrote them. And whatever they mean exactly, somehow Senator Obama's standards proved too lofty a standard for a nominee who was brilliant, fair-minded, and learned in the law, a nominee of clear rectitude who had proved more than the equal of any lawyer on the Judiciary Committee, and who today is respected by all as the Chief Justice of the United States. Somehow, by Senator Obama's standard, even Judge Roberts didn't measure up. And neither did Justice Samuel Alito. Apparently, nobody quite fits the bill except for an elite group of activist judges, lawyers, and law professors who think they know wisdom when they see it -- and they see it only in each other.
That's all very well put. It makes it clear that picking — and confirming — judges is not about quality and qualifications. There is an ideological element, and it determined Obama's Senate vote. Now, as President, Obama will be nominating the judges — moderated by what the Senate will accept — but his vote on Roberts makes it plain that he won't pick conservative judges.

McCain notes that he voted for Bill Clinton's nominees to the Supreme Court, Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (The text of his speech on his website misspells her name "Ginsberg," making me wonder whether his legal advisors are as good as I'd thought.) He voted based on quality and out of deference to the President's constitutional role, he says. What? Do you worry that he voted out of a secret love for liberal judges? McCain assures us that he will nominate "people in the cast of John Roberts, Samuel Alito, and my friend the late William Rehnquist -- jurists of the highest caliber who know their own minds, and know the law, and know the difference."

To compare what McCain said in this carefully prepared text to what he said to me in the conference call a year ago: He doesn't fall back on the stock phrase "strict construction" — which is a good thing. Like the judges he says he admires, he now talks about being faithful to what the law requires. His judges aren't "strict" (or narrow) but correct, and those other judges are lawlessly ranging beyond the text. That's the better way to present conservative judicial ideology. He certainly didn't say, as he did to me, that he wants conservative judges. He wants judges who adhere to the law and don't legislate. That's the better way to put it, even if it does worry some people who want assurances that he will give them another Scalia or Thomas. And why shouldn't they worry? He didn't name Scalia and Thomas as his model judges. He named Roberts and Alito (and his "friend" Rehnquist). Does that mean he's a notch removed from the most conservative position? (Does it irk Justice Scalia not to be named here, especially when most of this speech reads like a Scalia speech?)

McCain also didn't talk about appointing persons who have experience in the business world. In fact, he avoided talking about the role of the courts with respect to business and commerce.

He also avoided the subject I tried to get him to talk about a year ago: the balance on the Court. We have lived for a long time with a Court balanced with conservatives, liberals, and swing voters. Do we really want what would happen if we lost a liberal Justice (or Justice Kennedy) and the conservatives got a reliable 5th vote? Do we understand what would happen then? But do we think McCain would give that to us – or that the Senate would let him? Frankly, I don't think so.

"Classes My Top-Tier Law School Should Have Offered as Warnings About the Profession."

Eh. It's a McSweeney's list. Throwing Things pointed me there. I think it's whiny and dumb, but I thought you should know about it. How about a list of warnings about reading McSweeney's?

"Big balls, our Matt. Big brain too."

Andrew Sullivan lauds Drudge. (Because he called Obama "The Nominee.")

The NYT does not say it's time for Hillary Clinton to bow out.

The editorial today is called "It's About the White House," and it's about the importance of defeating John McCain, but if you think it's going to say Hillary needs to withdraw so Obama can concentrate on defeating John McCain, you are wrong.
There are few policy differences between Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama. But there is a vast gulf between Mr. McCain and the two Democrats — and far too little difference between Mr. McCain and President Bush.

Instead of sparring, pointlessly, about who first opposed Nafta or which of these Ivy League-educated lawyers has a more common touch, Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton should explain what they will do to restore the balance of power and protect civil liberties. They need to talk a lot more about addressing the health care crisis and the mortgage crisis and how they would bring American troops home and contain the chaos in Iraq.

Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama can continue to tear each other up and fight over each superdelegate, or they can debate the issues — for the sake of the voters.
Translation: It's just fine for Hillary Clinton to stay in the race. I wish they'd say why there's reason for her to continue instead of pretending there are some issues that could be emphasized and sharpened!

"They need to talk a lot more...." Arrgghhhhh!

"We now know who the Democratic nominee will be."

May 6, 2008

Here's the post to talk about the North Carolina and Indiana primaries.

I'm not live-blogging tonight. Sorry! It's up to you to write something here... at least until quite late.

ADDED: Obama wins North Carolina, as expected. CNN calls it. Hillary is ahead in Indiana though, so I'm predicting stasis. And I am going out. Sorry to pop back in when I said I was leaving.

AND: My son, Christopher Althouse Cohen, is writing a lot in the comments here. At 7:04 ET, he said:
Tim Russert just started talking about "Hillary Clinton's victory in Indiana..." and then corrected himself, "uh, if it happens." Interpret however you like.
Ha ha.

Carry on.

Here's the post to talk about "American Idol."

There are only 4 left, and by "American Idol" tradition — dating back to the Season 1 ouster of Tamyra Gray — this is the week for a shocking early departure. Could it be that a David will leave this week? It's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame night tonight, so David Cook ought to be safe. Could he possibly screw up? Could fans screw up thinking he's safe? Or could David Archuleta fall this week? I'm sure there is plenty of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame crap that is suitable for young Archuleta. Anyway, I'll be watching much later tonight, so carry on without me.

"Michelle Obama seethes with bitterness. While she preaches the gospel according to Barack, she wears resentment and bitterness on her sleeve."

Scott Johnson lights into Michelle Obama.

Here's my post after seeing MO speak in Madison. I didn't see the problem.

Hitchens is on her case too:
I direct your attention to Mrs. Obama's 1985 thesis at Princeton University. Its title (rather limited in scope, given the author and the campus) is "Princeton-Educated Blacks and the Black Community." To describe it as hard to read would be a mistake; the thesis cannot be "read" at all, in the strict sense of the verb. This is because it wasn't written in any known language.
Here's my post on MO's thesis. I didn't see the problem.

So you plant 10,000 mango trees as appeasement for your eco-sins and then the trees die.

I think you should assume that the eco-gods are punishing you for these grandiose gestures that do not erase your hypocrisy.

Is it going to be boring tonight?

Mark Halperin tells you what they're going to tell you:
1. “She did what she had to do.”
2. “She didn’t do what she had to do.”
3. “John McCain is the big winner tonight.”
4. “No matter what, Clinton can’t overtake Obama’s lead in elected delegates.”
5. “There is no way the Democratic Party is going to take the nomination away from an African-American who is the winner of the elected delegate race.”
6. “It was the fight over the gas tax that did it.”
7. “This leaves us right where we were.”
8. “Look at how he did with white, working-class voters in the exit poll.”
9. “People are going to start telling her she needs to get out of this race.”
10. “Once again, he missed a chance to put her away.”
There are 10 more, so go read it.

Are you going to sit there sinking into your sofa while Wolf and his people say the things on that list? Or are you going to be out in the world, perhaps listening to a brilliant artist and sneaking a look at your iPhone under the table now and then to catch the score?

Stray images from a walk in Williamsburg, Part 1.


What does it mean? Who is this man?


I have no interpretations. My response is emptily graphic.

22,500 dead. 41,000 more missing.

Cyclone Nargis. Myanmar.
Shaken by the scope of the disaster, the authorities said they would delay a vote in the worst affected areas on a new constitution that was meant to cement the military’s grip on power....

The postponement of the vote, a centerpiece of government policy, along with an appeal for foreign disaster relief assistance, were difficult concessions by an insular military junta that portrays itself as all-powerful and self-sufficient, analysts said....

The United States, which has led a drive for economic sanctions against Myanmar’s repressive regime, said it would also provide aid, but only if an American disaster team was invited into the country.

The policy was presented by the first lady, Laura Bush, , along with a lecture to the junta about human rights and disaster relief.

"This is a cheap shot," said Aung Nain Oo, a Burmese political analyst who is based in Thailand. "The people are dying. This is no time for a political message to be aired. This is a time for relief. No one is asking for anything like this except the United States."

"Who is this woman you’re sleeping with?" "I’m his wife." "That’s no good here."

Mildred Loving has died at the age of 68. It seems odd that she was only 68. Loving v. Virginia — the case in which the Supreme Court struck down a law that banned interracial marriages — ought to have been decided a long, long time ago. But it was not.
By their own widely reported accounts, Mrs. Loving and her husband, Richard, were in bed in their modest house in Central Point in the early morning of July 11, 1958, five weeks after their wedding, when the county sheriff and two deputies, acting on an anonymous tip, burst into their bedroom and shined flashlights in their eyes. A threatening voice demanded, “Who is this woman you’re sleeping with?”

Mrs. Loving answered, “I’m his wife.”

Mr. Loving pointed to the couple’s marriage certificate hung on the bedroom wall. The sheriff responded, “That’s no good here.”...

After Mr. Loving spent a night in jail and his wife several more, the couple pleaded guilty to violating the Virginia law, the Racial Integrity Act. Under a plea bargain, their one-year prison sentences were suspended on the condition that they leave Virginia and not return together or at the same time for 25 years.

Judge Leon M. Bazile, in language Chief Justice Warren would recall, said that if God had meant for whites and blacks to mix, he would have not placed them on different continents. Judge Bazile reminded the defendants that “as long as you live you will be known as a felon.”

They paid court fees of $36.29 each, moved to Washington and had three children. They returned home occasionally, never together. But times were tough financially, and the Lovings missed family, friends and their easy country lifestyle in the rolling Virginia hills.

By 1963, Mrs. Loving could stand the ostracism no longer. Inspired by the civil rights movement and its march on Washington, she wrote Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and asked for help. He wrote her back, and referred her to the American Civil Liberties Union.

The A.C.L.U. took the case. Its lawyers, Bernard S. Cohen and Philip J. Hirschkop, faced an immediate problem: the Lovings had pleaded guilty and had no right to appeal. So they asked Judge Bazile to set aside his original verdict. When he refused, they appealed. The Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals upheld the lower court, and the case went to the United States Supreme Court.

Mr. Cohen recounted telling Mr. Loving about various legal theories applying to the case. Mr. Loving replied, “Mr. Cohen, tell the court I love my wife, and it is just unfair that I can’t live with her in Virginia.”

One twin sucks the life force out of another.

A terrifying photograph, which seems to be something akin to "The Portrait of Dorian Gray" — except the aging entity is not a painting — it's a living woman!

May 5, 2008

Obama on 6th Street.

Obama mural on 6th Street

Obama mural on 6th Street

Obama mural on 6th Street

In Brooklyn, New York.

AND: Commenter Scrutineer points to this blog post by Steve Sailer that discusses the Obama campaign poster that is similar to the image I photographed here, and notes that it was made by Shepard Fairey, who designed those famous Andre the Giant "Obey" stickers. I found this this interview with Fairey about his Obama posters, and it includes the "Progress" version that I photographed — with different, more American colors:

The colors read as red, white, and blue, though is darker than usual, and the white is darkened to beige. The image I've photographed uses the colors associated with Africa. If this is intended as a pro-Obama image, then, it is a pro-Obama image that is not intended for the general American audience.

Did you notice — in my photograph and in the version of the "Progress" poster at the link — that the "Obey" logo is incorporated into the Obama logo, creating an alarming "Obey Obama" logo? Here, look closely:

Obey Obama

So 2 famous logos — Obama and Obey — are merged into the "Obey Obama" logo! This is an anti-Obama painting then, isn't it?

Based on the interview, it seems that Fairey started off on his own, without connection to the campaign, and he incorporated his "Obey" logo as a way of branding the poster. Now, Sailer is also concerned that Fairey is purveying un-American values because he's adopted the style of Soviet constructivism, but Fairey says:
I think what makes something art is that there's something that makes it enjoyable to look at regardless of the political content of it. I don't believe in the political content of the posters done under Mao or the early Soviet constructivists stuff but it's still really great to look at. It's got to be engaging aesthetically and if it has a point of view, that's even better.
Okay? So is the image ominous? I don't think it was intended to be.

Now, another commenter wants to know if the Obama image really is next to the punk rock girl. This picture shows the degree of proximity:

Obama mural on 6th Street

And while we're looking at pictures, here's a closeup of the area right under the Obama image:


So... is this, like, an installation?

"I cannot live the next 6-8 years behind bars for what both you and I have come to regard as this 'modern day lynching,'..."

"... only to come out of prison in my late 50s a broken, penniless and very much alone woman."

Deborah Jeane Palfrey's suicide note.

That cheese shop on Bedford Avenue.

I loved the literary experience. Click on "enlarge" to read the cheese blurbs:

Literary cheese

Literary cheese

Literary cheese

But in the end, I made my selection not by reading but by letting the cheese seller know what I was looking for. She had 3 ideas and gave me 3 thin slices to test. All 3 were great, so I said, "Can you give me a small amount of each of the 3?" And what I really loved, more than the cheeses and the writing, was that she cut and wrapped a small amount of each of the small cheeses without ever saying anything like "A small amount? Do you mean like 2 or 3 ounces?" She just cut small amounts. The place was truly literary, you see, and there was no need to get arithmetic about it.

So that was the Bedford Cheese Shop in Brooklyn, New York.

"Each episode is a text of inescapable complexity . . . Our received notions of what constitutes a ride are constantly subverted and undermined."

Typical passage from a paper WSJ writer Joseph Rago wrote for lit-crit course. The subject: MTV's "Pimp My Ride." The grade: A. But "Pimp My Ride" is a text of inescapable complexity that undermines and subverts received notions of what constitutes a ride!

Rago rags on Priya Venkatesan — who is supposedly going to sue somebody she's holding responsible for the "hostile working environment" she encountered as an English teacher at Dartmouth College.

"The remarkable thing about the Venkatesan affair, to me, is that her students cared enough to argue," Rago says. Why bother? It's so much easier — and more deviously useful — to figure out what the teacher wants and give it to her — keeping any contempt that you have to yourself.

Now, there's arguing and there's arguing. It's so easy to laugh at Venkatesan — especially when she threatens to sue. But there is a kind of disrespect that can be very wrong in the classroom and that is not about arguing with the ideas. And it can come from race or sex-based hostility to a teacher. So I'd like to hear how the students argued with her. A good teacher should want debate, and it's disrespectful to the students to squelch it.

Rago rests heavily on the notion that lit-crit analysis is stupid and pointless. Why take the course then? If your school offers it and you take it, you can't appropriate the classroom for your destructive antics. I don't know exactly what the students did. Venkatesan seems like an unsympathetic, litigious whiner who's been demanding that students hold still while she indoctrinates them. Because she's suing, she makes it very hard for us to want to try to see it from her point of view.

East Village dog.


So now Obama's supposed to be the hothead?

Give me a break. I'm seeing tons of links to an article headlined "Michelle Obama: Barack has hit boiling point." But read the text people. Michelle Obama didn't say "Barack has hit [the] boiling point." That's some headline writer's (successful) attempt at eyeball-grabbing.

But did she say anything that deserved a paraphrase like that?
Michelle Obama lifted the lid on the irritation felt by the leading Democrat candidate for the White House at the way anti-American outbursts by his pastor, Jeremiah Wright, have dogged his campaign.

He is said to be itching to turn all his fire on John McCain, the Republican candidate, who is benefiting most from Mr Obama's protracted tussle with Hillary Clinton.
Irritation... dogged... itching... fire... tussle... None of these are quotes.
Mrs Obama told a rally in Durham, North Carolina, on Friday that only her husband's desire to change US politics had helped him to control his feelings: "Barack is always thinking three steps ahead – what do we need to do to make change."
Control his feelings... Again, it's not a quote. And it's only an oblique reference to some feelings, but what feelings? Where does she say he's an angry guy? From what I've seen, he's bland and unemotional. I've been wanting to see more fire. I consider him phlegmatic.
Her husband was thinking "I can't let my ego, my anger, my frustration get in the way of the ultimate goal," she said.
So there it is: He has "ego," "anger," and "frustration" as he looks at his problems with Jeremiah Wright, but he's the sort of person who looks ahead and doesn't let these justified emotions trouble him. I'm glad to hear he has any strong emotions at all. Rather than see a wife's revelation that he's secretly an angry guy, I tend to think that she's saying this by design to try to humanize him and make him seem less impassive. The Americans let him know we expected him to be angry at Wright and that we weren't satisfied with his professorial musings in the general area of Wright. So now his campaign is using Michelle to appease us with some evidence of appropriate — but perfectly controlled! — anger. And frankly, even this is hardly anything.

The article also quotes "a senior Democrat strategist privy to Obama's campaign":
"He's sick of the battle against Clinton. He wants to get stuck into McCain. His people have had to remind him that this thing isn't over yet and he needs to focus and put her away."
Sick... Eh. Who isn't sick of the dragged-out primary/caucus season? Get stuck into McCain... That sounds violent, but it's none too articulate, and it's some unnamed insider. And so what? Of course, Obama wants to get past Hillary — "put her away" sounds violent too — and on to McCain. That's a giant so what? in my book.
Mr Axelrod said Mr Obama had been using games of basketball to let off steam.
Let off steam.... Is that supposed to mean he was steamed up? Again, there is nothing here. The man played basketball for the cameras.
In contrast with the Clintons, Mrs Obama said: "We were taught that you don't rip your opponents to pieces, you don't leave them on the roadside."
Do you read that to mean that their niceness is merely superficial and inside they are aboil? There's nothing to support that.

To everyone who's taking the bait and linking to this article to mean Obama has a problem with excessive emotional intensity: You seem like the one in thrall to emotion. Calm down and read the text.

"Yes, we would have had a murderous civil war..."

"... but it would have been quicker than the one we have been baby-sitting for five years."

Ah, to have a way with words!

We're in the East Village.

The lamp post informs us:

East Village

It's a distinctive place:


I love it... though there are things I don't understand:


East Village

And things I don't want to eat:

East Village

But follow those musicians:

East Village

We did.

May 4, 2008


Japanese Garden

Hillary Clinton: "I’m not going to put in my lot with economists."

"Elite opinion is always on the side of doing things that really disadvantages the vast majority of Americans." Idiocy.

"At the stumbling of a horse, at the falling of a tile,... let us... say to ourselves, 'Well, and what if it had been death itself?'"

Michel de Montaigne, "That to Study Philosophy Is to Learn To Die":
Let us disarm [death] of his novelty and strangeness, let us converse and be familiar with him, and have nothing so frequent in our thoughts as death. Upon all occasions represent him to our imagination in his every shape; at the stumbling of a horse, at the falling of a tile, at the least prick with a pin, let us presently consider, and say to ourselves, "Well, and what if it had been death itself?" and, thereupon, let us encourage and fortify ourselves. Let us evermore, amidst our jollity and feasting, set the remembrance of our frail condition before our eyes, never suffering ourselves to be so far transported with our delights, but that we have some intervals of reflecting upon, and considering how many several ways this jollity of ours tends to death, and with how many dangers it threatens it.
Did you know the last word of this essay (in translation) is "foppery"? Surely, you will be better off knowing how Montaigne got from "Cicero says 'that to study philosophy is nothing but to prepare one's self to die'" to "Happy is the death that leaves us no leisure to prepare things for all this foppery."

ADDED: Thanks to The Philosophy Podcast for reading this essay to me — the day after a horse stumbled.

When you try to add a cheerful touch to a depressing place....

... doesn't it just make it more depressing?

Clark Street subway station

Or does it actually cheer you up? If it cheers you up, why does it cheer you up? Because it's a touching tribute to human optimism, because something cheery really is cheery wherever it is, or because it's incongruous and incongruous is funny?

ADDED: This is the Clark Street subway station in Brooklyn Heights:
The first stop in Brooklyn on a west side train is Clark Street. This island platform station is very deep (approx. 100 feet below the street) and has rounded side walls indicating the deep bore construction of the under river tunnel. Access to the street is by elevator. The platforms have sailing ship mosaics and a large "Clark Street/Brooklyn Heights" mosaic name panel. The street level fare control has a directional mosaic to the Hotel St. George.

"I think that it's possible... having the spotlight was something attractive to him."

Barack Obama delicately but humorously slams Jeremiah Wright on "Meet the Press."

"It's the fact that he grew up in Hawaii, and I think he can make change."

The view from Guam.

Obama's secret weapon.

I'm embarrassed to admit what a powerful effect this has on me. More here. Or maybe I'm not embarrassed... to be human.

This is being ridiculed as an attempt to create a women's right to orgasms.

But I don't think that's what this is:
A woman from the governing party in Ecuador has proposed that a women's right to enjoy sexual happiness should be enshrined in the country's law.

Her suggestion has provoked a lively debate in conservative Ecuador.

Maria Soledad Vela, who is helping to rewrite the constitution, says women have traditionally been seen as mere sexual objects or child bearers.

Now, she says, women should have the right to make free, responsible and informed decisions about sex lives.

"People, people...I am not making light of this horse's death, nor am I inviting you to do so. Please keep the comments civil."

Jake Tapper taps the political angle —
... Clinton told supporters..., "I hope that everybody will go to the derby on Saturday and place just a little money on the filly for me. I won’t be able to be there this year -- my daughter is going to be there and so she has strict instructions to bet on Eight Belles."
— and catches hell.

Hillary is smiling and Chelsea is such a good person.

The Daily News makes an article out of the fact that Hillary Clinton in smiling. At least it's a short article.

The Washington Post makes an immense article out of the way we don't know too much about Chelsea Clinton. When she's out campaigning doesn't reflect the "ironic, sarcastic and self-deprecating" attitude of "the pop culture and politics that played out while [people in her generation] grew up in the 1980s, 1990s and onward."
The quest for authenticity frames several of the anxieties surrounding today's young people, and even though she could be more open, Chelsea may embody our generation's professional ideals: she is a well-paid do-gooder. Many in our generation were bred on the optimism of the 1990s economic boom; we cultivated a certain sense of entitlement after seeing so many college graduates strike it rich with quirky, massively influential ideas in Silicon Valley. But the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks made many of us pivot to think about the world and public service, and the Iraq war only hardened many young people's cynicism about newsmakers and reporters.

Maybe Chelsea reached this workplace ideal of neatly combining altruism with affluence at her first job at McKinsey, an elite consulting firm, where she specialized in health care, or possibly now, at her hedge fund.
What? How is Chelsea a do-gooder? What is all this blather about?

"Are we to look at cherry blossoms only in full bloom, at the moon only when it is cloudless?"

Wrote Yoshida Kenkô in one of my favorite books "Essays in Idleness."
"To long for the moon while looking on the rain, to lower the blinds and be unaware of the passing of the spring—these are even more deeply moving. Branches about to blossom or gardens strewn with faded flowers are worthier of our admiration."
I found the quote in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, in an article on Japanese Aesthetics.

Cherry petals

I'm not saying my attitude was anything Japanese —
The blossoms of the Japanese cherry trees are intrinsically no more beautiful than those of, say, the pear or the apple tree: they are more highly valued because of their transience, since they usually begin to fall within a week of their first appearing. It is precisely the evanescence of their beauty that evokes the wistful feeling of mono no aware in the viewer.
— but we paused among the fallen petals yesterday in Brooklyn:

Cherry petals

The branches of that cherry tree are seen in the upper right corner of this photograph, taken at the end of March, before there were any blooms.

WWII Monument

This large, intransient monument is in Cadman Plaza. You can read the inscription on it here.

Did you miss me?

Thanks for keeping things alive here in the comments yesterday, which was a 1 post day for me. Haven't had a 1 post day in a long time. Since beginning, I've never had a 0 post day — and will make a great effort to avoid ever having one — but I think it's good occasionally to leave it at 1 — especially on a Saturday. It was the second to the last Saturday of my sojourn in New York City.