July 19, 2008

A Saturday coffeehouse.

Welcome! Talk!

My nephew made the cut at the U.S. Bank Championship, so I'll be motoring to Milwaukee and back for the 3d day in a row.

What has Obama said about Iraq?

Jim Lindgren:
Indeed, I was happy to see that [McCain's new ad] included a brief example of his view before he started running for President that we should NOT pull out of Iraq because of the destruction that would result from our leaving. This is the position he took in "The Audacity of Hope." Most people think that Obama always opposed continuing the war and always favored pulling out fairly quickly.

Personally, I would prefer that, should Obama clearly pivot on what to do in Iraq, he not be attacked by either the left or the right for flip-flopping, but rather commended for responding to new realities. After all, he is likely to be President, and the earlier he takes a more mature position on the war, the likelier he is to stick with it. Indeed, that Obama has been so slow even to begin changing his position is a worrisome sign. Even if Obama does change his views and decide to stay in Iraq and win a war that is now probably winnable, I wonder whether when he takes office he has the courage to disappoint his supporters, especially when he has to deal with, not only his extravagant promises, but the families of dead soldiers.

One thing I find disturbing about the Obama clips and some recent public comments is the degree to which he is trying to rewrite the history of what his positions were, particularly on the surge. Obama was wrong on the main foreign policy issue of his brief time in the US Senate, the surge, and he should correct his position as quickly and as forthrightly as is politically possible, not pretend that he always thought that the surge would work to reduce violence.
Here's the McCain ad he's talking about.

The First Amendment protects the right to depict animal cruelty.

The new case. And here's an old post where we talked ab0ut the subject at some length.

July 18, 2008

An Althouse coffeehouse.

In case I haven't put up enough substantive posts to give you a place to talk while I drive to Milwaukee for round 2 of the U.S. Bank Open — my nephew's tee time today is 11:55 — this post is here to make a place for the Althouse commentators to roam free — or sit around at small tables and chat.

See ya later.

The uproar about Jesse Jackson saying Obama is “talking down to black people ... telling [n-word] how to behave.”

To jump into the debate a day and a half late, let me feature the presentation on "The View":



A classic Goldberg and Hasselbeck confrontation. Well done by both women, who get very passionate but never go over the edge.

By the way, I think it's pretty clear that Jackson was not himself disparaging black people. It seems obvious that he was angry at Obama for — as he said — talking down to black people. He restated it using the n-word to indicate that it was Obama who was acting as though black people were lowlifes. I don't think Jackson should be pilloried for this.

The 300.

Barack Obama has 300 foreign policy advisors.

So is this a step up from Clintonesque government by polling? A more expert, elite poll?

It's "a tight-knit group of aides supported by a huge 300-person foreign policy campaign bureaucracy, organized like a mini State Department, to assist a candidate whose limited national security experience remains a concern to many voters."

Now, are we supposed to be less concerned?

By contrast, McCain has only 75 foreign policy advisors and "none are organized into teams."
Mr. Obama’s infrastructure funnels hundreds of e-mail messages and reams of position papers and talking points each day to members of the core group, who in turn seek advice or make requests for more information to team members down the line....

Out in the netherworld of the 300, advisers often say they are unclear about what happens to all the policy paragraphs they churn out on request. “It’s all mysterious what we send him and what gets to him,” said Michael A. McFaul, a Russia scholar at Stanford University who leads the Russia and Eurasia team for the Obama campaign.
The President must use other people to do part of his thinking for him. Some kind of structure must exist, and the choice of structure tells us something about the man we are asked to trust to make the final call.

About that anthropogenic global warming consensus.

Daily Tech reports:
In a posting to [the Physics and Society Forum of the American Physical Society], editor Jeffrey Marque explains,"There is a considerable presence within the scientific community of people who do not agree with the IPCC conclusion that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are very probably likely to be primarily responsible for global warming that has occurred since the Industrial Revolution."
The APS is opening its debate with the publication of a paper by Lord Monckton of Brenchley, which concludes that climate sensitivity -- the rate of temperature change a given amount of greenhouse gas will cause -- has been grossly overstated by IPCC modeling. A low sensitivity implies additional atmospheric CO2 will have little effect on global climate.

Larry Gould, Professor of Physics at the University of Hartford and Chairman of the New England Section of the APS, called Monckton's paper an "expose of the IPCC that details numerous exaggerations and "extensive errors"

In an email to DailyTech, Monckton says, "I was dismayed to discover that the IPCC's 2001 and 2007 reports did not devote chapters to the central 'climate sensitivity' question, and did not explain in proper, systematic detail the methods by which they evaluated it. When I began to investigate, it seemed that the IPCC was deliberately concealing and obscuring its method."
Lord Monckton of Brenchley — love the name.

Anyway, the whole point of science is to question and investigate and test. If scientists close ranks when they think that they have enough evidence and that they will have more influence if they claim consensus, they have moved from science to politics. Yet if we see that scientists don't maintain scientific values, the basis for their influence in politics is, ironically, destroyed. Even if you want to abandon ethics and sell out for what you see as the greater good, it won't even work.

Step back from the precipice, scientists! We need you. We have enough politicians.

Bob Wright proposes a "competition to see who can be more civil and at the same time be more disagreeing in a substantively contentious way."

It's supposed to be a competition between "my" commenters and the Bloggingheads commenters:



How could this competition could take place? Which post(s) of mine would be the venue? And who could ever judge whether a group of persons over a series of statements is "more civil and at the same time ... more disagreeing in a substantively contentious way"? How do you even know who counts as the real Althouse commenters and the real Bloggingheads commenters? Some of my commenters are people who would want my side to lose, and they will have an incentive to say really uncivil and unsubstantive things. And some of my best commenters are people who don't engage substantively but do idiosyncratic off-subject things.

But if any Bloggingheads commenters want to drop in over here, on one of the posts that sets up a substantive topic, and try to interact within this community, they can see what it's like here and how it compares to the Bloggingheads comments section. They can write down theirobservations about the experience on this post.

By the same token, I invite my commenters to go to some recent Bloggingheads diavlogs — you don't need to identify yourself as an Althouse commenter when you do that — and experience life as a commenter in that environment. Then come back to this post and talk about it.

So let this be the post where we talk about — and judge! — the competition Bob proposes. But please, don't change the way you comment to try to win (or lose) the competition. If Bob thinks some of what we do is too unsubstantive to be good as he defines good, that's his problem. We should not be shaken away from our right to define our own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of blogging comments.

(Here's the earlier post of mine that Bob refers to at the beginning of the clip.)

July 17, 2008

"But I'm still an embryo/With a long, long way to go."

For some reason I didn't reflexively change the channel when Helen Reddy singing "I Am Woman" came on the radio today, and I even listened to the lyrics, something I probably hadn't done since the 70s. (I've always considered this song annoying and embarrassing.) I was amazed by the line "But I'm still an embryo/With a long, long way to go." Here's this big old feminist anthem, and the woman is calling herself an embryo.

IN THE COMMENTS: Invoking the most well-known line in the song — "I am woman, hear me roar" — Amba writes:
A roaring embryo? That is grotesque.

Actually it explains something about the psychology of abortion: the unready (unReddy?) pregnant woman feels she is in competition with the embryo because she herself has not yet had a chance to fully develop. It's a question of whether she is expected to abort her own development and step aside and put that new embryo at the center. It's indignation at all those thousands of years when it was rarely considered important or even permissible for girls to develop their own gifts and interests, and when at best they had to subordinate doing so to being mothers. It's a making up for lost time kind of thing. (This is the other side of the story, which I can also understand.)
Brillliant. I write that before reading the next comment, from Victoria:
Brilliant!
She goes on:
It's a making up for lost time kind of thing.

Maybe I'm missing the gene which allows people to think in these terms, but this is just absurd.

If you're going to live your life based on a quasi-revenge factor, then don't be surprised if others do too. A man might think: hey, you know the millions of women throughout the ages who suckered men into marriage by getting pregnant?

Guess what ladies? It's payback time today!

Then Maureen Dowd wonders why she can't get a man.
Amba responds:
Hadn't thought of it as revenge -- more a sort of plaintive "Hey, what about me? It's MY turn!" -- but now that you mention it, hmmm. In some of the stories on I'm Not Sorry, e.g., there is a lot of rage, as if the embryo were a parasite that had attacked the woman.

But e.g. this song, it's definitely competitive. "I want to be the one at the center of attention. I want to be the one that's celebrated and anticipated and nurtured. I want to nurture ME!"
chuck b. said:
It's amusing to think that somewhere in the American midwest, today a radio station played "I Am Woman".

Maybe it was a dream.
It amuses me to think that you take comfort in consigning the playing of "I Am Woman" to a place in the "American midwest." I was listening to a channel called 70s on 7 on XM satellite radio.

He actually throws this on top:
Did the masculine women of the American midwest with their tight perms and mom jeans unite in choral joy?
Now, that's just irksome. It irks reader_iam (who lives in Iowa). (I think chuck's in San Francisco.) (Reddy was Australian.) Reader:
Why the "Midwest"? ... [I]t's clear I'm missing something. What is it? That's an actual question. Are either of you willing to plainly state an answer?
Chuck tries to answer:
Why midwest? Well, A-house was driving there, and that song came on, and I thought, Women of the midwest, unite! But there is kind of a jokey-understanding in America about midwestern women being manlyesque, having tight perms, wearing mom jeans.

I'm playing with a crude stereotype, that's all. I could play it with people in other places too.

I don't want to be cruel; I just want to offend. Sarah Silverman is, like, my girlfriend. And she would be my girlfriend if she wasn't with that Jimmy guy, and if I wasn't gay. And if was a lot funnier and more intelligent and Jewy than I really am.

A childhood spent reading Penthouse Letters taught me the other stereotype about midwestern girls... they all attend large midwestern universities and have long, honey-blond hair and tanned, pert little titties.

It's all good.

An atypical day.

Thanks to everyone who wrote in the comments today and helped keep this thing alive. I was up before 5 a.m. to drive 88 miles to the Brown Deer golf course outside of Milwaukee for the U.S. Bank Open, a PGA golf tournament. My nephew, Cliff Kresge, had a 7:10 tee time, and so we had to get started way too early. We gamely walked the course, Cliff shot -4, the golfers wore long pants, and the caddies wore shorts. After all that sun and a Cheesecake Factory lunch, I had to slap myself in the face repeatedly to keep from dozing off during the 88 mile drive back to Madison. We made it home, went to a butterfly exhibit, accomplished a garden walk, had a dinner of pizza and mojitos, bought shoes, and stumbled into a movie — "The Children of Huang Shih" — which, of course, I slept through part of. An atypical day. If anything happened in the news today, I didn't see it.

Keep cool.

Do your thing.

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Keep this place going without me. I've got to drive into the sunrise this morning and I haven't got time to feed the blog. I'll join the conversation when I can.

July 16, 2008

Madison throngs.

For the chamber orchestra:

Amba regretting an abortion: "if an embryo or fetus is regarded as disposable, then you are, too."

I wanted to break out this beautifully written comment that Annie Gottlieb wrote in the comments to yesterday's abortion post (the one that linked to a Bloggingheads episode featuring 2 diavloggers trying to grapple with the realization that the unborn entity isn't "a blob"):
The nonreligious conclusion I came to as the result of lasting (lifelong) regret of an abortion is that if an embryo or fetus is regarded as disposable, then you are, too. I guess it's a version of what Mother Theresa was saying. An individual either is unique and uniquely valuable or isn't. All are or none are. If your existence had happened at the wrong time (I won't use the demeaning word "inconvenient" because sometimes it's little more than that, but sometimes it's a lot worse), you could have been disposed of. Your existence is accidental and contingent.

(Of course if you believe human beings are nothing special, even a plague on the planet, then by all means let's declare open season on 'em and hasten their extinction. Oh, uh, "us" is "them.")

To consider abortion acceptable is to make a philosophical decision about the world without even knowing it.

It's a tricky thing to write into law. Nearly all traditions have recognized the primacy of the mother's life and circumstances (including economic) in the early stages of pregnancy. The irony is that they knew a lot less than we do about what's involved. They really did believe it was a "blob." We know better.

But they also believed pregnancy was something like an act of God. That's why sex was so severely policed. I can understand why Catholics believe that there's a connection between the casual attitude made possible by birth control and a casual attitude toward life itself.

But is that inevitable? If people choose, for a time or for all time, to use sex to "make self" -- to make their own lives and relationships richer, which I do believe is one of its lifegiving uses -- then they should use birth control religiously. One of the big pro-choice arguments is that "birth control fails." Certainly some percentage of that failure rate is due to wrong or careless use of it. The rest -- the true failures -- might be seen as successes of someone who is just hellbent on being here. And the unwitting invitation of such a person should be viewed at all times as one of the ineradicable risks of sex.
Annie has another comment, that links to an important post of hers from 2005:
You know there are pro-life people who would make it mandatory that a woman be shown an ultrasound of her fetus before she can have an abortion.

I was once at the hospital with a woman who was beginning to miscarry, and I watched the live ultrasound. She was, I forget, maybe 8 or 10 weeks pregnant. The embryo/fetus didn't look like a baby yet, but you could see its heart beating.

I wonder if I would have been able to go through with an abortion if I'd seen that.
Thanks for writing all that over here, Amba.

I'm very interested in this idea that sex has become, as you put it, a way to "make self." It reminds me of the way people used to talk about taking drugs — especially LSD — back in the 1960s. It was supposed to be a profound journey of self-actualization. I remember being surprised to see kids only a few years younger than me taking drugs just to have fun or because they had nothing else to do. When you first break from the old traditions, maybe you have to make up a big, weighty story about how you are proceeding onto some higher ground. I'm sure you can use sex for profound self-actualization. In fact, you can still use drugs that way if you set your mind to it. But how many people do?

Hey, New York Times! Okay if we build treehouses in Central Park?

Remember our discussion of the kids in Greenwich, Connecticut who built a Wiffle ball field in a public park — complete with a big wooden wall — and got the New York Times to write a flattering article about their kidly spirit when some homeowners complained about it? Our comments were varied and included things like:
Adults are such control freaks.

Still, you can't build things in a park and expect to get away with it. This is a classic example of Better to ask forgiveness than ask permission. It wasn't a vacant lot owned by some absent landowner....

The compromise is: Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall!
Today, the NYT publishes a set of letters about the article:
1. ...Don’t dismantle that Wiffle ball field. Instead, make time and space for unadulterated play in every neighborhood....

2. ... It is great for kids to “color outside the lines.” That is where intellectual, commercial and artistic innovation originates. These kids should be encouraged by being left alone....

3. ... Do we, the village that is raising these kids, want them to go inside and play Grand Theft Auto...

4. ... Perhaps property value in this Greenwich neighborhood will decline, but in this present market, I doubt anyone is buying. And even if the field is a drainage pit, grass is everlasting and will always grow back. But these kids have only so much childhood left, and soon all they’ll have are memories....

5. In Greenwich, Conn., a town known for its teardowns and mini-mansions, I would think residents would prefer the sounds of kids playing Wiffle ball over the sound of jackhammers and construction crews.

6. To paraphrase a saying, a kid’s right to swing his Wiffle ball bat ends where the other guy’s Nice Overpriced Suburban Escape begins.
With the possible (and very slight) exception of #6, which I've copied in its entirety, all of the letters support the kids' side of the controversy.

What if the kids of Manhattan grabbed some hammers, nails, and old lumber and built a lot of treehouses in Central Park? Would the NYT champion them too?

ADDED: My commenters are stressing the park/lot distinction. The Wiffle ball field is on a city-owned lot that had not been fixed up into what we'd call a park. And here's an article in the Greenwich, Connecticut paper today:
The head of a community policing group wants to create a pocket park on the municipal lot in Riverside where a group of teens - without the town's permission and with some neighborhood opposition - built a miniature Fenway Park for Wiffle ball....

"I can't see the land going unused. They weren't being destructive. They were just kids being kids," [Sam] Romeo said during the group's monthly meeting at the Cos Cob firehouse.

For the half-acre lot to become a pocket park, the Board of Selectmen would have to grant municipal improvement status to the property. The Planning and Zoning Commission would also have to sign-off on the park, which could face a third round of scrutiny from the Representative Town Meeting if the field's opponents request the legislative body's involvement....

About a dozen teens, who range in age from about 13 to 18, spent three weeks clearing the lot of dense thicket and erecting plywood fences in the outfield, including a replica of Fenway's Greeen [sic] Monster, bleachers, foul poles and a back-stop.

"The best thing about it is we built it and don't need permits to play on it," Scott Atkinson, 13, said.

The teens didn't just choose any old sandlot, however. Their field of dreams occupies prime real estate worth an estimated $1.25 million, a nightmare to the owners of several surrounding properties who are demanding that the town call this game off because of noise, traffic and liability issues.

Yesterday, "The Daily Show" and Rush Limbaugh ran with the same joke about the Obama cartoon.

Rush Limbaugh:
Obama and his team are upset over a cartoon on the cover of The New Yorker, a leftist publication, that makes him look like a Muslim, that makes his wife look like a terrorist Muslim, that has the American flag burning in the fireplace, under the portrait of Osama Bin Laden in the Oval Office. The Obama campaign and The Messiah himself were said to be very, very upset over this. Let me ask you a question. Who is it that gets upset over cartoons? Muslims. (Gasping) Dawn's in there saying, "He didn't say that." Yes, I did, I'll say it again. (laughing) I just love tweaking these people. Who is it that gets upset over stupid cartoons? Muslims, intolerant Muslims.
The "Daily Show" clip is 5:39 long — and quite good all the way through — but the relevant joke is at 3:10:



Obama's camp initially agreed that the cartoon was tasteless and offensive.' Really? You know what your response should have been? It's very easy. Here. Let me put the statement out for you: Barack Obama is in no way upset about the cartoon that depicts him as a Muslim extremist, because you know who gets upset about cartoons? Muslim extremists! Of which Obama is not. It's just a #*!&ing cartoon!
Rush did it first. The "Daily Show" did it better, however. It was better to say "Muslim extremists" and not just "Muslims." Rush's joke has an added layer of Rushisms. He has to pause to call The New Yorker a "leftist publication." And he has to step back and find it amusing that he's so outrageous for saying what others will not dare to say. But basically, it's the same joke and a pretty good one.

ADDED: Maybe the 2 comedians ripped off Instapundit.

July 15, 2008

Obama gives a perfect answer — to Larry King — on the New Yorker cartoon.

Here.

Blue convergence.

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A building in Madison, fisheyed.

Another view of it, with the state capitol building in the background:

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The Bob Dylan song that turned on Jimmy Carter is the one that Barack Obama calls a favorite.

I found it odd — and blogged about it here — that Barack Obama named "Maggie's Farm" as his favorite Bob Dylan song. So I sat up and took notice today, watching the movie "Gonzo" — the documentary about Hunter S. Thompson — when they got to the incident in 1974 when the idiosyncratic journalistic was sitting bored out of his skull trying to ignore a Jimmy Carter speech and this line got him all excited:
I grew up as a landowner's son. But I don't think I ever realized the proper interrelationship between the landowner and those who worked on a farm until I heard Dylan's record, "I Ain't Gonna Work on Maggie's Farm No More." So I come here speaking to you today about your subject with a base for my information founded on Reinhold Niebuhr and Bob Dylan.
In my old post I wondered why Obama had come up with "Maggie's Farm":
Do you believe "Maggie's Farm" is one of his favorites, or do you think they just tried to find a political song that had some appropriate rhetoric? The character in the song is perceiving what's wrong with the farm (the country) and is looking for a change.
A commenter over at Expecting Rain — a Dylan fan site — made the Obama connection too:
Hunter Thompson covered the 72 campaign and championed McGovern. After McGovern dropped the ball by choosing that sweaty Eagleton guy for his running mate, Thompson was disillusioned for years until he saw Jimmy Carter make an early campaign speech to Ted Kennedy and a bunch of lawyers, brazenly criticizing the American legal system.

Thompson was rejuvenated. In the speech, Carter quoted a Dylan song, Maggie's Farm, which Obama is citing now. Maggie's Farm is a metaphor for transcending the political system. Dylan plugged in and played it for the acoustic folkies at Newport Folk Festival to say, "I'm not a symbol of the right or the left, I just want to rock and roll."
I don't know whether this means Obama and Carter are soulmates or Obama is cribbing from Carter's playlist or Obama reads Hunter S. Thompson or it's well known among Democratic campaign advisors that you can push some useful buttons by invoking "Maggie's Farm" or what. I'm just noting the linkage.

And I wanted to tell you I saw the movie "Gonzo." Watch the trailer. You will get an accurate impression of the film from this:



It was a bit long and rambling, but a pretty good documentary about a very interesting writer and his wild life and times. Recommended if you like documentaries and can deal with some heavy-handed comparison of Bush to Nixon and Iraq to Vietnam.

IN THE COMMENTS: Palladian writes:
Just once I'd love to hear a politician who would say something like:

"You know, I don't think I've been the same since I heard the 14th unfinished fugue of J.S. Bach's "Art of the Fugue", specifically the point where Bach inserts as a countersubject the notes corresponding to the letters of his own name. It was that moment that I felt a profound connection between humanity and the universe, between numbers and metaphysics. It was that moment, listening to the ailing old Bach's assertion of his selfhood, coded into his own complex and beautiful system, that I felt truly alive and driven to spend my life devoted to the advancement of civilization and humanity."

But no. It's "Maggie's Farm". Fleetwood Mac. Wyclef Jean. You can't be elected if you actually like music anymore.

Will pro-choice activists give any moral weight to the unborn?

They will when they have to.



SUBSTITUTE UPDATE: The video is working now.

ADDED: I have long supported abortion rights, but I cringe at the level of moral reasoning in this short clip. Rebecca Traister says that technological advancement is making it harder to support late-term abortion, and the technological advancement she refers to is not the way doctors can keep a very premature baby alive, but the clarity of the images we now have of the being in utero. As if not being able to see someone deprives him or her of moral significance!

We can't see the people in other countries or in prisons, but we still realize we have to take account of them. Could it possibly be that without advanced imaging technology, you just couldn't summon up the picture of what was inside a 7-months pregnant woman? Why should I listen to the moral reasoning of someone with such a dangerous lack of imagination? And I don't mean to let Michelle Goldberg off the hook. Her baby-or-blob quandary is worse.

IN THE COMMENTS: Paddy O. responds to my comment ("As if not being able to see someone deprives him or her of moral significance!"):
We would want this to be true more than it is a human reality. There's a reason why images have changed global politics over the years. Auschwitz is simply unimaginable. But there are pictures. Movies like Blood Diamond and Hotel Rwanda makes a difference. In exactly the same way that Uncle Tom's Cabin made an impact.

We honestly have a hard time really caring for those we don't know, and can't see. Most of us anyway. That's why brutality likes to stay hidden and de-humanize the brutalized.

If we don't see the victims our rationalizations work. So we commit to not seeing them. We avoid the images. We avoid the stories. Even if we are not proponents we are saved from the burden of becoming opponents by the victims just being blobs, or uncivilized, or 2/3 human.

They don't feel like we do. Don't have pain like we do. So they can work harder, become conveniences to cast off or prize upon our whim.

Images change that. Because we can't help but see ourselves when we see other humans, in native dress or inside the womb. Our rationalizations become strained, even if we are desperate to hold onto them.

Humans are visual creatures who need visual stimulus for our emotions and empathy. Out of sight, out of mind, out of concern.

Technology is changing that in global affairs and in personal choices that seem to actually not just be about our own private choices at all but involve others-- real, feeling humans--whether we like the idea or not.
This is an important point about the power of photography.

Chemerinsky's idea of "Enhancing Government."

Jonathan Adler points to Jon O. McGinnis's review of Erwin Chemerinsky's new book "Enhancing Government: Federalism for the 21st Century. The book sketches out the liberal position on the various federalism issues, and this is the position that — McGinnis aptly asserts — you can expect Obama-appointed Supreme Court Justices to take.

Chemerinsky argues (unsurprisingly) that the Constitution's enumerated powers in fact permit Congress to reach any matter it chooses to regulate. What is left to the states is what Congress deigns to leave to the states. On questions of federal court jurisdiction, Chemerinsky would give the party he would like to advantage — the civil plaintiffs and criminal defendants who assert federal rights — their preference whether to litigate in state or federal court. And Chemerinsky would make it hard for federal law to preempt state law, and this would preserve the regulation of business at dual levels of government, federal and state.

If voters think about Supreme Court appointments at all, they usually focus on the scope of individual constitutional rights (especially abortion). I wish people would pay attention to these federalism issues. As McGinnis writes, the liberal position on federalism is very widespread and elaborately worked out in the legal academy. The Burger and Rehnquist Courts were somewhat successful in keeping this thinking from migrating into the case law. Chemerinsky's idea of federalism is not simply expanding federal power at the expense of the states. It's more complicated (and more policy-oriented in its complication). Even though this approach allows Congress to regulate anything, it preserves state regulation where Congress has not expressly preempted it, and it preserves the power of state courts when a litigant with a federal law right prefers state court. So the liberal idea of "Enhancing Government" is about expansive federal regulatory power combined with enthusiasm for regulating business and enforcing federal rights.

Maybe you like that idea. I'm just saying: Think about it.

Pseudocopulation and proprioception.

Just 2 new words I ran into in articles I happened to read consecutively that have nothing to do with each other. Pseudocopulation is something man-wasps do with orchids that remind them of lady-wasps. And proprioception is your sense of position, which needs to match up with the input from your eyes and inner ears or you'll feel dizzy, which is why reading in a car can make you sick.

By the way, I used to get nauseated immediately if I tried to read in a car, but now it's no problem at all. It's one of the advantages of growing old, I think, along with being able to take naps and feeling pretty happy for no particular reason.

Did you notice how the controversy about the New Yorker cover instantly eclipsed the Bernie Mac story?

Sunday morning, we were all talking about the offensively sexist jokes the comedian Bernie Mac told at a Barack Obama fund-raiser. Suddenly, this inflammatory New Yorker cover appears and everyone is distracted. The Bernie Mac material was Obama's responsibility, and it offended women and those who are sensitive about sexual material. The New Yorker material was not attributable to Obama, was actually an attack on Obama's opponents, and yet nevertheless gave Obama the opportunity to play the an outraged victim of a scurrilous attack.

Wasn't that convenient?

ADDED: Some commenters imagine that I think The New Yorker instantly rushed out a magazine cover in order to eclipse the Bernie Mac controversy. Obviously, that would be a stupid thing to think, and if you think that I thought it, you were indulging yourself in a convenient belief. To make it uncomfortable for you to wallow in that belief, I will need to lengthen this post with a some tedious explication. Much as I hate to use the sledgehammer. Here goes. I think the media seized on that cover and pumped it into a big outrage, and that outrage was very effective in ending the discussion about Bernie Mac. I'm suspicious that the media is trying to help Obama.

Why can't we joke about Obama?

In the NYT, Bill Carter takes the position that Barack Obama is impermeable to good satire. McCain is susceptible to jokes because he has one distinctive mockable quality: old age.
But there has been little humor about Mr. Obama: about his age, his speaking ability, his intelligence, his family, his physique. And within a late-night landscape dominated by white hosts, white writers, and overwhelmingly white audiences, there has been almost none about his race.

“We’re doing jokes about people in his orbit, not really about him,” said Mike Sweeney, the head writer for Mr. O’Brien on “Late Night.” The jokes will come, representatives of the late-night shows said, when Mr. Obama does or says something that defines him — in comedy terms.

“We’re carrion birds,” said Jon Stewart, host of “The Daily Show” on the Comedy Central channel. “We’re sitting up there saying ‘Does he seem weak? Is he dehydrated yet? Let’s attack.’ ”
That is so disingenuous. The best targets are the strong. Any decent political satirist should have an instinct to go after the most powerful individuals. I don't believe Sweeney and Stewart for one minute. The real explanation for the lack of jokes is some combination of the desire for Obama to win and the fear of seeming racist.
“The thing is, he’s not buffoonish in any way,” said Mike Barry, who started writing political jokes for Johnny Carson’s monologues in the waning days of the Johnson administration and has lambasted every presidential candidate since, most recently for Mr. Letterman. “He’s not a comical figure,” Mr. Barry said.
Fire every comic writer who says that and bring in some people with brains and nerve.

July 14, 2008

A 2-café day.

Since Glenn mentioned my name here — "my version of Althousian cafe-photoblogging" — I thought I'd take this:

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(Enlarge.) Actually, it was a 2-café day, so there's also this:

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(Enlarge.) This is still Madison. I'm going to L.A. soon, as noted here — and thanks for all the great suggestions — but this exaggerated caféitude is all found right here in Madison, Wisconsin.

"Disputes over who can dance, how and where, are at least as old as civilization..."

They "arise from the longstanding conflict between the forces of order and hierarchy on the one hand, and the deep human craving for free-spirited joy on the other."

And NYC is the worst
, cracking down on bars where customers happened to sway.

Enough with repressive New York City. Let's all flounce out to the countryside and do what we want!

Reflect.

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The Wit and Humor of Barack Obama.

Okay, I raised the subject of Obama's humorlessness. "I have no response to that" was all he said about that New Yorker cover, and I speculated that he could have laughed. Then I frontpaged a comment — made by my younger son — that read: "He's always been dead serious about everything. Has he ever said anything funny?"

But let's be fair. David — also in those comments — came up with the first example of Obama humor: "You're likable enough, Hillary." I agree that was humor. I note too that it was directed at his opponent, sounded rather mean, and ended up hurting him.

An emailer reminded me of this post of mine from back in January:
I'm not declaring favorites in the presidential campaign, but I've got to say that stuff like this makes me love Obama, at least on a personal level:
Obama began by recalling a moment in Tuesday night's debate when he and his rivals were asked to name their biggest weakness. Obama answered first, saying he has a messy desk and needs help managing paperwork - something his opponents have since used to suggest he's not up to managing the country. Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards said his biggest weakness is that he has a powerful response to seeing pain in others, and Clinton said she gets impatient to bring change to America.

"Because I'm an ordinary person, I thought that they meant, 'What's your biggest weakness?'" Obama said to laughter from a packed house at Rancho High School. "If I had gone last I would have known what the game was. And then I could have said, 'Well, ya know, I like to help old ladies across the street. Sometimes they don't want to be helped. It's terrible.'"
Now, that was good.

So we could write a book called "The Wit and Humor of Barack Obama." But how thick would it be? You know, there was a book called "The Wit and Humor of Richard Nixon." Here's a Time Magazine article about it from 1969:
To many, the fact that Nixon has even a mild sense of humor comes as a surprise. And, in fact, the President did come by the gift of laughter, in public anyway, rather late in life. Perhaps because he felt he had to counterbalance his youth with seriousness for so many years—he was, at 39, the second youngest U.S. Vice President in history—Nixon was until last year the paradigm of sobriety. Then, at about the same time that people started talking about the new Nixon, he began sprinkling his speeches with one-liners.

Few, to be sure, were exactly memorable. "I'm trying to graduate from college myself this fall," Nixon would tell college audiences. "The Electoral College." A few were execrable. "It's one thing to give 'em hell," he said after Hubert Humphrey had made a well-publicized visit to Harry Truman. "It's another to give them Hubert." A new paperback, The Wit & Humor of Richard Nixon is necessarily brief (128 pages), has more than the usual amount of white space and includes Nixon's entire acceptance speech at Miami Beach, which contained not a scintilla of wit.

Some Nixon jokes, however, are genuinely funny. Talking to Virginia Republicans, he gently needled both a local G.O.P. official and himself. While he was preparing the itinerary for his South American trip in 1958, Nixon told how the official, Lee Potter, had noticed one omission. "Why don't you take in Caracas?" Potter had suggested. "It's a fun town." Said Nixon: "It sure was. I got stoned there."



IN THE COMMENTS: Mister Snitch says:
Obama has gotten less spontaneous and genuine (and 'funny') as he has gotten closer to the possibility of being elected. Note also some of the outrageous gaffes, truly worthy of a Dan Quayle or ANY verbal goof Bush might have ever made. He's cracking under the pressure, and it's not going to get any easier from here.

Geez, this was a NEW YORKER cartoon. The thing to say, to ingratiate himself to millions of middle-class Americans, was this: "You know, I never did get those New Yorker cartoons".

Even the New Yorker staff would have appreciated the gibe. And it would all be behind him by now. And us.
It is really hard for him to risk a joke now, but I love that line. We know it resonates: There's a "Seinfeld" episode on the subject:
Elaine: Look at this cartoon in the New Yorker, I don't get this.

Jerry: I don't either.

Elaine: And you're on the fringe of the humor business.

George: Hey!

Elaine: Hey! George look at this.

George: That's cute.

Elaine: You got it?

George: No, never mind.

Elaine: Come on, we're two intelligent people here. We can figure this out. Now we got a dog and a cat in an office.

Jerry: It looks like my accountant's office but there's no pets working there.

Elaine: The cat is saying, "I've enjoyed reading your E-mail."

George: Maybe it's got something to do with that 42 in the corner.

Elaine: It's a page number.

***

[The New Yorker cartoon editor] Mr. Elinoff: Oh! yeah... That's a rather clever jab at inter-office politics, don't you think?

Elaine: Ah, ah... yeah... uh but, why is it that the, that the animals enjoy reading the email?

Mr. Elinoff: Well Miss Benes. Cartoons are like gossamer and one doesn't dissect gossamer... heh... hemm...

Elaine: Well you don't have to dissect if you can just tell me. Why this is suppose to be funny?

Mr. Elinoff: Ha! It's merely a commentary on contemporary mores.er)

Elaine: But, what is the comment?

Mr. Elinoff: It's a slice of life.

Elaine: No it isn't.

Mr. Elinoff: Pun?

Elaine: I don't think so.

Mr Elinoff: Vorshtein?

Elaine: That's not a word.... You have no idea what this means do you?

Mr Elinoff: No.

Elaine: Then why did you print it?

Mr. Elinoff: I liked the kitty.

My to-do list.

1. Write more lists. People love to read lists.

2. ...

"If I can turn the focus on the Beatles on to Christ's message, then that's what we're here to do."

Said John Lennon — in a newly discovered interview from 1969. He was asked about saying that the Beatles had gotten bigger than Jesus Christ:
“It’s just an expression, meaning the Beatles seem to me to have more influence over youth than Christ,” he said.

“Now I wasn’t saying that was a good idea, ’cos I’m one of Christ’s biggest fans. And if I can turn the focus on the Beatles on to Christ’s message, then that’s what we are here to do.”...

“If the Beatles get on the side of Christ, which they always were, and let people know that, then maybe the churches won’t be full, but there’ll be a lot of Christians dancing in the dance halls,” he said....

“Whatever they celebrate, God and Christ, I don’t think it matters as long as they’re aware of him and his message.”

Lennon... said his dislike of institutional religion had been shaped as a 14-year-old when a “ludicrous” vicar banned him from church after he and his friends were “having the giggles”.

He added: “I wasn’t convinced of the vicar’s sincerity anyway.”
So "Imagine no religion" really means: Imagine life without that humorless vicar.

"I myself find that I trust my own writing most, and others seem to trust it most, too, when I sound most like a person from Indianapolis..."

"... which is what I am. What alternatives do I have? The one most vehemently recommended by teachers has no doubt been pressed on you, as well: to write like cultivated Englishmen of a century or more ago."

Writes Kurt Vonnegut, in an excellent and short essay on writing style. He's got 7 rules:
1. Find a subject you care about

2. Do not ramble, though

3. Keep it simple

4. Have guts to cut

5. Sound like yourself

6. Say what you mean

7. Pity the readers
Great rules for bloggers, obviously. In fact, these are rules that seem to say: A great way to write is to blog.

Via Metafilter, where the commenters keep it simple, and somebody links to this cool article on semicolons, which includes the Vonnegut quote:
If you really want to hurt your parents, and you don't have the nerve to be a homosexual, the least you can do is go into the arts. But do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites, standing for absolutely nothing. All they do is show you've been to college.
Anyway, as Hazel Crosby once said: "Nobody has to be ashamed of being a Hoosier... Hoosiers do all right. Lowe and I have been around the world twice, and everywhere we went we found Hoosiers in charge of everything.... Lincoln was a Hoosier, too. He grew up in Spencer County.... I don't know what it is about Hoosiers... but they've sure got something. If somebody was to make a list, they'd be amazed... We Hoosiers got to stick together... Whenever I meet a young Hoosier, I tell them, 'You call me Mom.'"

Is Obama "trying to deflect attention from his own poor surge judgment"...

"... by bringing along as a lightning rod someone whose judgment was even worse than his?"

Mickey Kaus on Obama's decision to bring Chuck Hagel with him to Iraq.

Everybody's talking about The New Yorker... and balls!

The power of cartoons! After devoting an hour to updating my post on the Barry Blitt cover, I go over to Memeorandum to see what else people are blogging about right now, and I see that everybody's talking about that New Yorker cover. I'm actually going to get around to reading that long, apparently well-researched article inside the magazine, the one about whatever it is Barack Obama did to rise to power inside that political mystery that is Chicago, but — as Art Spiegelman once said

Comics "go directly to the id.''


Kick us in the id and we cry out instantly. It will take us a while to do the background reading. Meanwhile, we bloggers will do the foreground writing.

Here's Michelle Malkin, reacting to Obama's reaction: "Grow a pair, Obama."

And Kevin Drum is all at first I thought it was kinda funny....
But at the risk of seeming humorless, that reaction didn't last too long. Maybe it's because this kind of satire just doesn't work, no matter how well it's done. But mostly it's because a few minutes thought convinced me it was gutless. If artist Barry Blitt had some real cojones...
What is this fascination with balls? Jesse Jackson wants to cut Obama's, which presumes their existence. Michelle Malkin thinks they don't exist. Kevin Drum thinks they don't exist on Blitt — they've been oblitterated — though they may somehow exist in fake — or un-Spanish — form. But if Blitt had had real cojones...
... he would have drawn the same cover but shown it as a gigantic word bubble coming out of John McCain's mouth — implying, you see, that this is how McCain wants the world to view Obama. But he didn't. Because that would have been unfair.
Uh... no... because it would have been absurdly cluttered, stupid looking, and hard to draw. Not to mention clunkily literal and no fun at all. Blitt lacks balls because he assumes we have brains?

Drum speculates about what would have happened if his dopey mouth-bubble idea had appeared as a New Yorker cover:
And McCain would have complained about it. And for some reason, the risk that a failed satire would unfairly defame McCain is somehow seen as worse than the risk that a failed satire would unfairly defame Obama.

So: gutless. And whatever else you can say about it, good satire is never gutless.
It's gutless because Obama and not McCain was the one to get mad? Why does Drum even think that makes sense? Surely, The New Yorker's readers overwhelmingly favor Obama. To offend McCain would be stroking their id.

All I can think is that Drum feels threatened by McCain's anger and unthreatened by Obama's anger. Is he still talking about balls?

July 13, 2008

So here's the new New Yorker cover.



Get it?

Obama says:
"I have no response to that."
The campaign adds:
The New Yorker may think, as one of their staff explained to us, that their cover is a satirical lampoon of the caricature Senator Obama's right-wing critics have tried to create. But most readers will see it as tasteless and offensive.

And we agree.

The artist is Barry Blitt, and I have to say that I think the cover is a hilarious spoof of the fears and lies about Obama. Michelle and Barack are in the Oval Office, doing a celebratory fist bump. There's an Osama Bin Laden portrait on the wall and a burning flag in the fireplace. He's a Muslim and she's a revolutionary. Of course, Obama has to push it aside and can scarcely laugh about it.

Or, maybe, I don't know... maybe it would work to laugh. He's been awfully uptight about things lately. And laughing conveys the instant recognition that it's absurd. Why be surly about it? McCain's supposed to be the cranky guy...

IN THE COMMENTS: ricpic says:
Fears and lies my foot!

The dead on truth about these two America haters.

Congrats Blitt.

And congrats to the Hillary camp inside The New Yorker.
It's that last line that's making me frontpage this.

ADDED: Taylor Marsh asks whether The New Yorker would treat John McCain the same way:
Picture a drawing showing a very old man in a wheelchair, his hospital gown adorned with medals... babe of a wife pushing him, as his first wife wipes drool off of McCain's mouth... while Cindy McCain stops to open packages from Chanel. No, I didn't think so either.

Wait. Who's the "babe of a wife" if not Cindy? I don't get the specifics, but I see the point. I think it would be out of bounds because it would be so unappealing. The New Yorker doesn't put drooling disabled persons on the cover. And the Michelle and Barack image has a transgressive, radical chic edge to it, that I suspect excites the magazine's audience.

IN THE COMMENTS: Christopher Althouse Cohen said (about Obama):
He's always been dead serious about everything. Has he ever said anything funny?
Perhaps not. Did you notice how unamused he looked in that interview in which his daughters were so lighthearted? Remember when he got pissy about Maureen Dowd saying that his ears stick out? ("I just want to put you on notice... I was teased relentlessly when I was a kid about my big ears.") His supporters may picture him bringing a youthful spirit into the White House, but look at him. He's actually quite stodgy and censorious. Turn off that television.

Now, this will constitute the "turning the page" that people seem to want so badly, since George Bush likes to joke around. The George Bush page was pushing the envelope. (Is that a mixed metaphor?) I still can't get my mind around the picture of him saying "Goodbye from the world's biggest polluter" and then "punch[ing] the air while grinning widely, as the rest of those present including Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy looked on in shock."

Victoria writes:
[Obama] doesn't poke fun at himself, doesn't use a light touch in his speeches, doesn't seem relaxed at the podium EVER.

It's gotten so that I wonder how he will acquit himself at the annual Smith Dinner....

I can't imagine, simply cannot for a second imagine Obama making fun of his background, his race, or mention his pastor and his rants during the Al Smith dinner.

What a dour, touchy time we will have, if he's elected.
Blake said:
Nah. He'll be the Margaret Dumont to our Marx Brothers.

He'll have a terrible time, tho'.
Good point! He'll be great fun for the comedians. He's a perfect straight man.

Paco Wové said:
When I saw it, I rolled my eyes and thought, Oh, God, it's the New Yorker trying to be all transgressive again....

Oh, yeah, remember all the mileage they got out of this:



From an interview with Spiegelman:
Q: [O]nyour controversial 1993 Valentine's Day New Yorker cover in which, during the conflict between Hasidim and African Americans in Brooklyn, you portray a Hasidic man and a black woman embracing. Values and worlds colliding, meeting.

AS: It didn't come as a shock to me that this got people to sit up and take notice. I'm interested in visual signs...

Q: How does that apply to the New Yorker cover?

AS: The signs are highly recognizable. The sign for Hasid is clear and unavoidable, without the usual anti-Semitic physiognomy that goes with it. The sign for African-American woman is equally unavoidable, without entering into Aunt Jemima stereotypes or anything of the kind. Then there's this other sign that has to do with the Valentine's Card-the kiss, the field of red with the lacy decoration around it, all of it weaving together separate meanings. The irony is you have these two groups that are at each other's throats at each other's lips instead. That's supposed to conjure up carnality and yet Valentine's Day, the image of Valentine's Day, isn't about carnality but a kind of benign romantic love. All those things course through this image and the impossibility of it is what's so entertaining for me. What got people most upset that week was not other magazines with the usual S&M imagery-chains and whips, leather and hurt-but something quite benign on the surface, playing with signs. Reverend Dougherty, a representative of the black community in Crown Heights, was very upset I used a black woman: one more time, he said, a white man was oppressing a black woman. Why didn't I have a black man and a Hasidic woman, he asked on the radio. Maybe he's a good reverend, I don't know, but he's a rotten art director. A Hasidic man is a lot easier to recognize than a woman with a handkerchief on her head. In terms of visual signs you've got one thing that works and one thing that doesn't. Even more important, I answered him, if I had used a black man and Hasidic woman, you'd be complaining I was once again showing the black man as a rapist and defiler of white woman. This shows me the problem has nothing to do with the signs being shown but the reverberation of those signs in people's heads. The same thing happened in op-ed articles. There was an op-ed in the New York Times in which a woman who was very upset about the New Yorker cover writes about the Jew's lascivious lips. Another person, equally upset in the Washington Post, described the Jew's prim lips. Now you know I can't draw lips that are simultaneously lascivious and prim; I'm limited.

Q: Sure you can.

AS: I did. I just drew lips.

Speaking of reading the signs, and back to the comments, George says:
He's wearing a dress.

She's in pants.

And if you hold the cover up to a mirror, it reads 'Rekroy Wen' which means "Kill Whitey" in Tshivenda, the language of Barack's homeland.

The cover date "July 21" is the anniversary of the founding the KIPRP, the Kenyan Islamic People's Revolutionary Party.

He's also crushing the throat of a bald eagle.

Wake up, America!!

The gold and purple river.

Water

Water

(Enlarge: 1, 2.)

Sculpture in the grass.

Thai...

Sculpture in the grass... with a fly

... with fly.

Another entry in my continuing series: Men in shorts.

Man in shorts

So... maybe he's an actor, playing a child, and this is his costume. I really don't know. But do you see my point?

And don't tell me the weather is hot, because: 1. He's wearing long sleeves, and 2. The temperature was about 72° at the time.

How it feels to have a stroke: "my consciousness soared into an all-knowingness, a 'being at one' with the universe..."

Wow! You've got to listen to this phenomenal episode of "Fresh Air," with Jill Bolte Taylor, the brain scientist who observed her own stroke and came through it all to tell the tale. Here's her book, "My Stroke of Insight."

The interview refers to a great YouTube clip that supposedly lots of people have seen, but I hadn't, so maybe you haven't. Here is is:



There's also a nice, long passage from the book at the "Fresh Air" link. Excerpt:
The harder I tried to concentrate, the more fleeting my ideas seemed to be. Instead of finding answers and information, I met a growing sense of peace. As the language centers in my left hemisphere grew increasingly silent, my consciousness soared into an all-knowingness, a "being at one" with the universe, if you will. In a compelling sort of way, it felt like the good road home and I liked it....

IN THE COMMENTS: Some serious questions about Taylor's brain science shake my faith in NPR.

Knox Leon and Vivienne Marcheline.

It's the new Pitt-Jolies!

What's with the names? They gave a new idea for a girl's name: Camille Leon. But no, the boy got the Leon middle, and the girl got Marcheline. Marcheline is Angelina Jolie's mother's name, a fancification of her original name Marcia Lynne. Pitt's parents names were Jane Etta and William Alvin so there's no parental content in Knox Leon. It seems as though Jolie has some notion that boys' names ought to have the letter X in them — as her 2 other boys are Maddox and Pax. Just think of all the names they must have rejected before they hit Knox. Rex... it's a dog's name. Lex... no, Lex Luthor. Max... way too common. Tax... come on, give it a chance: It goes with Brad! Think about it!

By the way, I love Brad Pitt. "Focus! Focus! Focus! Remember the plan! I did my part!"

A golden refection.

Thai pavilion reflected in pool

Thai pavilion reflected in pool

Thai pavilion reflected in pool

Thai pavilion reflected in pool

(The unreflected image is here.)

"I’m disgusted with him."

Lefty Obama supporters displeased. He's — oh no! — a politician... but he was supposed to be different... blah blah blah...

Were the swooning Obama supporters of yore really in love with him, or were they in love with the idea of themselves in love with loving him? They're remembering how beautiful they were back then, when it looked like this:



"Yes We Can"... but, no, we can't even recapture the feeling of the past that was only a few months ago. It's nostalgia now.

Of course, he's a politican. Time to participate in reality. It's beautiful too.

McCain: "Brooke and Mark show me Drudge, obviously, everybody watches, for better or for worse, Drudge."

Incredible how important Drudge has become. That's from an interview by Adam Nagourney and Michael Cooper. (Here's the article on the interview, with audio clips in the sidebar.)
Q: What websites if any do you look at regularly?

Mr. McCain: Brooke and Mark show me Drudge, obviously, everybody watches, for better or for worse, Drudge. Sometimes I look at Politico. Sometimes RealPolitics, sometimes.
He must mean Real Clear Politics.

On blogs:
... I understand the impact of blogs on American politics today and political campaigns. I understand that. And I understand that something appears on one blog, can ricochet all around and get into the evening news, the front page of The New York Times. So, I do pay attention to the blogs. And I am not in any way unappreciative of the impact that they have on entire campaigns and world opinion.

Q: You read newspapers then.
That's almost wistful, isn't it? Newspapers get a mention and the NYT reporter pipes up with "You read newspapers then."
Mr. McCain: I read them most all every day.

Q: You and Obama are both newspaper and book readers. Do you read them in the old paper version or do you read them online?
"The old paper version" — it almost sounds as though the reporters themselves are letting go of the newspaper newspaper.
Mr. McCain: I love to read them in the print form, and the reason why I do is because so much, the prominence of the story matters. If I read a story and say, Oh my God, did you see this? But it’s back on A26, it doesn’t have the impact of what are still – even though it’s declining – what are still, what are hundreds of millions of American picking up an looking at today....
I'm picturing Richard Nixon taking comfort in the New York Times publishing the story of the Watergate break-in on — what was it? — page 19?

Anyway, these days, that story on A26 will be moved to the front by Drudge — which all you newspaper reporters are checking too — and, Drudge or no Drudge, blogger swill bloggers will see any story the newspapers try to downplay, and if it's good, we'll churn it up until the newspapers have to write a story about how all the bloggers are writing about it.

Are "hundreds of millions of Americans" are picking up the newspaper newspaper? The NYT circulation is around one million. USA Today and the Wall Street Journal each have about 2 million. How many Americans get a newspaper? I don't know, but "everybody watches... Drudge."

"Watches"... is that why we love the web? We watch it, like TV.

Watch Matt himself say what his standard the Drudge Report is: "To be completely live, almost as if you're animated, with text":



Hey, Drudge is a strange guy, isn't it? It's hardly surprising that he rarely goes on TV. Yet this oddball leads the way for us, which makes us all pretty strange, don't you think? It must drive Nagourney and Cooper mad.

IN THE COMMENTS: 1jpb writes: "Does [McCain] know that religious conservatives (and non-conservatives) will quickly notice, and object to, his use of the word God?" Good question. I know it's very common among many Americans to blurt out "oh my God" carelessly and for almost no reason at all, but there are also many of us who think it is quite wrong. I, personally, think it's worse than blurting out "fuck" and I don't understand why anyone who has any respect for the 10 Commandments doesn't agree with me. If you're not in a situation where you can spice up your loose talk with "fuck," please don't say "oh my God."

Obama chides Bernie Mac.

Poor Barack Obama! It's another with-friends-like-that-who-needs-enemies-story:
[C]omedian Bernie Mac after an appearance at an Obama fundraiser last night. The comic performed a profanity-laced set at the function which ended with hecklers telling him to get off the stage after a joke that some deemed particularly offensive to women. Obama joked about the fundraiser being a “family affair” when he followed Mac on stage, but the campaign got more serious about criticizing the comedian afterwards:
Toward the end of a 10-minute standup routine at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Chicago, the 50-year-old star of “The Bernie Mac Show” joked about menopause, sexual infidelity and promiscuity, and used occasional crude language.

“My little nephew came to me and he said, ‘Uncle, what’s the difference between a hypothetical question and a realistic question?’” Mac said. “I said, I don’t know, but I said, ‘Go upstairs and ask your mother if she’d make love to the mailman for $50,000.’”

As the joke continued, the punchline evoked an angry response from at least one person in the audience, who said it was offensive to women.
How did it get more offensive? The Chicago Tribune gives a little more detail:
He promised to help Obama and ended his irreverent riff with a joke involving the women in the families and living with two “hoes.”
That summary comes from Ed Morrissey, who calls attention to the offense to women that Obama's "family affair" scolding misses. To say, this is a "family affair" implies that we could talk like this in an adults-only environment — as if there's no difference between sex and sexism. Ed notes that it's particularly bad when Obama needs to win over Hillary-supporters.

Firedoglake attempts humor with heavy-handed sarcasm:
This is potentially game changing. Who would ever have expected such stuff from Bernie Mac? At any rate I don't see how Obama can possibly win in November in the aftermath of this catastrophe.
Oops. You stepped in it. If such talk from Mac was completely predictable, then the Obama campaign is responsible for it. Once again, I've got to say: With friends like this, who needs enemies?

UPDATE: What exactly was the "ho" joke? (Important, considering what happened to Imus.) Jack Tapper has it:
Mac's wife, in the joke, said she sleep "with anyone" for $50,000, and Mac's daughter said the same.

Explained Mac: "Hypothetically speaking, we should have $100,000. But realistically speaking we live with two hos."
So the same week that Obama agonized over letting his daughters do a cute little TV interview, Mac is calling his own daughter a "ho."

And according to my commenter EnigmatiCore, Andrew Dice Clay told the same joke in the 1980s.