August 9, 2008

Bernie Mac, RIP.

I'm sad to see that Bernie Mac has died — of pneumonia — at age 50.

We were just talking about him a couple weeks ago, when he performed at an Obama event:
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....

He promised to help Obama and ended his irreverent riff with a joke involving the women in the families and living with two “hoes.”

"When do journalists have to 'protect' readers from Untruth masking itself as dissent or skepticism?"

Asks Ron Rosenbaum.

The L.A. Mannequin Photographs.

NOISOLPX:

L.A. Mannequin

Men with heads... women without heads:

L.A. Mannequin

Mannequin caught in 60s a-go-go revelry:


L.A. Mannequin

Your lonely photographer:

L.A. Mannequin

"Am waiting for Mickey Kaus's first bloggingheads.tv appearance after this..."

Says Ben (the Tiger) in the comments to the second Edwards post from last night. And, yeah, I'm thinking, the only thing interesting to me about the story at this point is how Mickey Kaus will act when he gets back on Bloggingheads.

Here he is on the subject last Decemberbefore the primaries started, when Kaus was signaling to Democrats that there was a time bomb under one of their potential candidates.

"My mind is focused on the job that I have to do and the job that I want to do. It's just easy for me to do that. I don't know why."

A cool article about the empty head of Michael Phelps.
He swings his wings and slaps his back with a thwap once, then twice, then part-way around a final time. It is not, he says, a ploy to intimidate. It is rote, not even an afterthought, because it involves no thought.

August 8, 2008

"Because of a recent string of hurtful and absurd lies in a tabloid publication...."

We've gone over 200 comments on the Edwards post, which doesn't make it impossible to comment, but only makes the comments hard to find. (Click on "post a comment," scroll to the bottom of the page, then click on "newer" — ridiculous, no?) So this is another Edwards post. Carry on here.

Let's look at the statement published at Kos under the name of Elizabeth Edwards:
Our family has been through a lot. Some caused by nature, some caused by human weakness, and some – most recently – caused by the desire for sensationalism and profit without any regard for the human consequences. None of these has been easy. But we have stood with one another through them all. Although John believes he should stand alone and take the consequences of his action now, when the door closes behind him, he has his family waiting for him.

John made a terrible mistake in 2006. The fact that it is a mistake that many others have made before him did not make it any easier for me to hear when he told me what he had done. But he did tell me. And we began a long and painful process in 2006, a process oddly made somewhat easier with my diagnosis in March of 2007. This was our private matter, and I frankly wanted it to be private because as painful as it was I did not want to have to play it out on a public stage as well. Because of a recent string of hurtful and absurd lies in a tabloid publication, because of a picture falsely suggesting that John was spending time with a child it wrongly alleged he had fathered outside our marriage, our private matter could no longer be wholly private.
So he wasn't at the hotel with the child? Or he was there with the child that he didn't father? Blah. Did you watch him on "Nightline." I didn't. I never watch "Nightline."

UPDATE: A partial transcript of the "Nightline" interview. Excerpts:
[BOB] WOODRUFF:& How long did it last and when exactly did it end?

JOHN EDWARDS: [refuses to answer.]...

WOODRUFF: I know this is a very difficult question, but were you in love with [Rielle Hunter]?

EDWARDS: [Answers in the present tense that he is "in love with one woman," his wife Elizabeth. Woodruff doesn't figure out that he should insist on an answer to the question that was asked in the past tense.]

WOODRUFF: Your wife, Elizabeth, is probably the most admired and beloved person in this country, she's had enormous sympathy because she's also gone through cancer, how could you have done this?
Probably the most admired and beloved person in this country.... Where did that come from? Woodruff is a ninny. "How could you have done this?" is a pretty silly question anyway. Why doesn't he just slap Edwards in the face and shout "you beast!"? Edwards gives a long answer that boils down to the fact that he was selfish and egomaniacal — and running for VP can do that to a man.

Woodruff asks about the picture of Edwards holding the baby, and Edwards goes on about how he can't say what that picture is. Woodruff has the wit to ask him, "But are you saying you don't remember holding that child of Miss Hunter?" Edwards, tellingly, goes back to the photograph:
EDWARDS: I'm saying you asked me about this photograph, I don't know anything about that photograph, I don't know who that baby is. I don't know if the picture has been altered, manufactured, if it's a picture of me taken some other time, holding another baby -- I have no idea. I was not at this meeting holding a child for my photograph to be taken I can tell you that.
Pay attention here. He does not say he didn't hold the child. He only says he didn't pose for a photograph and is refusing to authenticate the photograph. This has a real smokescreen feeling to it that to me this suggests that he did hold the baby.

Woodruff follows up:
WOODRUFF: You did say you did meet her at a hotel in California.

EDWARDS: She was there, Mr. McGovern was present, and that's where the meeting took place.

WOODRUFF: But you don't remember a baby being there?

EDWARDS: No.
Finally, cornered, he says "no." A lie?

Rude animation requested and produced.

I requested it here, and Chip Ahoy provided it here.

And here's his nicer Obama animation.

ADDED: And speaking of the creative commenters around here, I love the "airport bar" meme that developed in this thread — which has commenters talking about commenters.

John Edwards admits he lied about Rielle Hunter.

But somehow after all this, he's not the baby's father? Ugh! Who cares? Go away now, and become the irrelevant man that you are.

Imagine if he'd gotten the nomination. What a selfish bastard — to run for the nomination while parading his cancerous wife about and knowing that if he won this story could have come out at any time — maybe in October — screwing up his party's chances!

Go away now.

ADDED: Stephen Spruiell on why JE would admit the affair and deny fathering the child:
Elizabeth Edwards was diagnosed with incurable cancer in late March of 2007. Rielle Hunter's baby was born in late February of 2008. That means that if Edwards is the father, he was definitely still carrying on the affair with Hunter after he knew his wife's cancer was back.
Yeah, but why come clean and still be dirty? Doesn't that just make you more of a sleazeball? Or is the idea that we're all supposed to understand that Elizabeth must be allowed some peace and shut up about the baby? I get it, but go away.

AND: Let's say there's a paternity test on that baby and it turns out John Edwards is the father. Can John stick by his story that he broke off the affair before Elizabeth's cancer diagnosis? Of course, he can! John Edwards knows how to use his lawyerly skill to sell a story. Remember that lawprof who testified that his cleaning lady might have impregnated herself after stealing semen that he kept in his office refrigerator? Well, Rielle Hunter had better access to John Edwards's semen than that.

She could easily easily have captured and preserved some of it in case she needed it later. She might have thought about how Monica Lewinsky kept that semen-stained dress all that time. (Wasn't that weird?!) You never know when you might need to protect yourself with some semen evidence to prove one thing or another. Then, maybe for revenge or to assuage her sadness over the end of the affair, she got the little jar out of the fridge and impregnated herself. And that was some quality genetic material — good for the production of an adorable, lovable, intelligent, glossy-haired child. Hunter, a woman with a loudly ticking biological clock, must have looked longingly at the splooge many a time....

John can tell that story in a way that will have us in the palm of his hand.

UPDATE: Edwards's statement. Most interesting sentence:
When a supermarket tabloid told a version of the story, I used the fact that the story contained many falsities to deny it. But being 99% honest is no longer enough.

AND: With more than 200 comments here, I recommend commenting on the new Edwards post.

"Likelihood of you being FEMALE is 9%/Likelihood of you being MALE is 91%."

Okay, thanks for the info.

Via Instapundit, who's much more likely to be female than I am (50%), via Megan McArdle, who's practically all female (99%).

ADDE: The websites I read that are really masculinizing me are Drudge (2.08 male/female ratio), PGA Tour (also 2.08 — they don't know I have a family member on the tour), Real Clear Politics (1.82), and Rush Limbaugh (1.99). I read a lot of things that are very close to 1. The only really feminizing thing that got counted is Television Without Pity (0.32).

The iPhone app that costs $999 and gives you a tiny gemstone icon that opens to a larger glowing image.

I Am Rich.

Apple removed it. But why? Is it a fraud?



It is what it is.
Created by iPhone developer Armin Heinrich, the original blurb for the... download read: "The red icon on your iPhone or iPod Touch always reminds you (and others when you show it to them) that you were able to afford this… It’s a work of art with no hidden function at all."
It's perfect conceptual art, now, isn't it?

ADDED: I paid 99¢ for the very charming Koi app.

Worst pop culture curses.

Campbell's Chunky Soup?

ADDED: I've fixed the link. And I'm still laughing at the complete wrongness of the accidental link, which was something I'd copied when I was going to so something more on this post. The struggle to understand this post in the comments is really funny — especially the effort to "kozinski."

"America is no longer what it could be, what it once was. And I say to myself, I don’t want that future for my children."



Interesting clip. One response is to say it's awfully negative, especially for talking to a little girl. But Obama has 2 little daughters. He should know how to talk to them. Are we not supposed to let kids see that we know that the world isn't perfect?

What's striking to me is that Obama didn't try harder to defend himself against the predictable accusations that he doesn't love America enough — accusations that were especially predictable after the things his opponents said about his Berlin speech. Perhaps Obama was actually being honest and respectful of the child's real competence.

The Obama salute.

Why is anyone paying any attention to this self-promotion by some lame Los Angeles "creative agency"? If this design came from the Obama campaign it would deserve the kind of vociferous ridicule we saw in response to the Obama seal. If the design was excellent it would deserve the admiration we saw for the independently produced "Progress" poster. But the Obama salute — which looks like a hand gesture for "fuck me" — is just stupid and bad and not from the Obama campaign, so it's nothing at all.

IN THE COMMENTS: AllenS said:
It's the universal sign for the onion ring.
That's a reference to my old onion rings postmore here — where I said "the 'O' of an onion ring is a vagina symbol." Which is why I'm saying now that the salute looks like it means "fuck me." It's a way to say "here's my vagina," just like the upraised middle finger means "here's my penis."

Bleeper said:
When rotated 90 degrees forward and oscillated, The Big Jerk Off.
Paging Chip Ahoy. Remember when he did that thing to my vortex on Melrose?

"This is sounding more and more like the Republican convention of 1976."

"That whole convention, Ronald Reagan kicked butt. Every speech he gave was far better than Gerald Ford. But Gerald Ford was the incumbent, and the old party hacks were not going to upset the apple cart now, and everybody knew they were nominating the wrong guy. "

From the brilliant Rush Limbaugh monologue about what Hillary Clinton is up to right now.
Folks, I think there's some of that going on in the Democrat Party now, that they have nominated the wrong person. This guy should be up by 10 to 15 points; the Drive-Bys writing stories about why isn't that happening. Now Mrs. Clinton saying, we gotta get... her name in nomination -- so that people don't walk away unhappy, "dissatisfied"?... You know that old Bill is out there working the phones. "I warned you people. I warned you. I tried to tell you, but he threw the race card out on me and distracted everybody, and I had to run around and defend myself on race. I'm the first black president of this country, and I had to run around and tell everybody, 'I'm not a racist.' I warned you. I said, 'This is not gonna work. This guy can't win. He can't get enough votes, get enough support, and he's got no experience at all.'

"Look, he had all that media coverage over there when he went over, that 'summer intern tour,' as Limbaugh calls it. He's exactly right about that, and what happened? His numbers fell, and keep falling. I tried to warn you."
Rush is at his best — and he knows it — when he's telling us in blunt terms what various Democrats must be thinking.

When "Above the Law Idol" really starts to feel like "American Idol."

I've said that judging this competition, I don't feel like the Paula, but when I saw this, I felt like Paula that time Corey Clark — scroll to 2:10 — went all Paula! I compare you to a kiss from a rose!



UPDATE: The second round of judging is up.

When you set out to destroy someone's good name, are you responsible to the other people who happen to have that name?

Matthew C. Ryan is not the most unusual name. It's not unique, but it's also not John Smith — a name so common that when you hear something bad about someone with that name, you don't assume it relates to any particular person with that name. If you hear Matthew C. Ryan, you may very well assume it's the Matthew C. Ryan you know. This is especially so when the name is also tied to a specific place — in this case, the University of Texas in Austin, Texas.

A Google search for Matthew C. Ryan today yields a mere 797 hits, and this is after all the stories telling us one of the names behind the pseudonyms in the lawsuit brought by the Yale law students who had some mean, nasty thing written about them on the AutoAdmit website. Surely, before the release of the name, a Google search would show that it is surprisingly rare worldwide and that there is another Matthew C. Ryan at the the University of Texas. But they sent the name out anyway, and the damage has been done.

Now, is that a tort? The lawprof lawyer who is representing the plaintiffs is enthused about the expansion of tort liability for speech that damages reputation or causes emotional distress, so it will be sad if he can't enjoy the expansive theories of tort law that may come in the form of a lawsuit filed by Matthew C. Ryan. But the pleasure is there for fans of irony and poetic justice. To top it all off, Matthew C. Ryan is a lawprof lawyer. Sweet!

Yes, you could say a lawprof lawyer should have a thick skin and tough it out. Hey, I thought the Yale law students would do better to show the world — and their future clients and employers — that they have thick skins and can tough it out. But they brought a lawsuit. They wanted to show that there are consequences for the things you say that hurt people, consequences that courts should enforce.

Well, then.

Lawsuits. They breed.

August 7, 2008

:D.

:(.

"Gee whiz, this is so — I'm sorry, ladies and gentlemen, for appearing so hysterical about this. I'm trying to remain coherent..."

Rush Limbaugh, blowing a gasket over tire inflation — which could kill you, you know!

Brett.

Jet.

"The jury was dead-on in refusing to let Hamdan off as the hapless, ill-educated flunky portrayed by his defense lawyers..."

"... and it was equally right in recognizing that he was not an Al Qaeda mastermind," says the Daily News. Meanwhile, at the New York Times, there's the editorial "Guilty as Ordered."

UPDATE: At the sentencing hearing, Hamdan speaks:
"It was a sorry or sad thing to see innocent people killed... I personally present my apologies to them if anything what I did have caused them pain."

He told the military panel deciding his sentence that he had continued working for Mr. bin Laden after a terror attack in 2000 only because he felt he had no options....

UPDATE 2: The sentence is 5 ½ years.

"I feel sick. I hope I don't vomit on this dress. I look so put together otherwise. Barf will ruin it."

"I will not look at you directly. Your shirt gives me vertigo. I told you that earlier. But I look sort of adorable, don't I?"

Andrew Sullivan's contest: Make videos about McCain's old age.

Here's the challenge:
It seems to me a legitimate and not too rude a subject to bring up in the campaign.S here's an opening challege: craft an ad that legitimately and fairly raises the issue of whether he is too old to lead; and one less high-minded one that strings clips of gaffes, stumbles, mental blocks in public, and mistakes to make the guy seem like Abraham Simpson on a bad day. put "YouTube ad contest" in the contents line.
Hey, is it legitimate and fair to point to the typos as evidence of Sullivan's competence?

You know, I'm concerned about McCain's age, but I'm also concerned about ageism, and it's a terrible and offensive idea to promote prejudice against the old by connecting the candidate to stereotypes about the old.

Imagine if a blogger who supported McCain as much as Sullivan supports Obama invited readers to edit together video clips that would make Obama look like a racist stereotype of a black person.

And remember: Old people are a huge demographic group, known for — among other things — voting.

There is a very appropriate way to judge whether an individual old person or black person or female person or gay person or disabled person is competent to serve as President: Look at the individual.

Glenn Reynolds polls his readers on their choice for President.

Vote and see — or just look — at who his readers are picking. As Dan at 4:17 AM says: "Just in case Glenn was wondering who reads his blog..."

So... let's see who's reading the Althouse blog:

Who will you vote for in November?
Bob Barr
John McCain
Barack Obama
Ralph Nader
None Of The Above
pollcode.com free polls


IN THE COMMENTS: Simon writes:
Ann, I'd think that you of all people would include an option "I haven't decided" in such a poll!

Well, I was word-for-word replicating Glenn's poll. I voted in both polls assuming the election was being held today. I may or may not reveal how I voted, but you can vote on how you think I voted:

How did Althouse vote?
John McCain
Barack Obama
  
pollcode.com free polls

ADDED: Ha ha. "How did Althouse vote?" is showing absolute neutrality — 50-50. See? It really has been cruel neutrality around here~

McCain or Obama — who had the better experience his first time...

... at the movies?
"I think I may have teared up at the end..."...

"Oh, yeah, I cried.''
And how about favorite TV shows? Isn't it obvious which one is Obama and which one is McCain?
"I think M*A*S*H was probably my favorite. [My wife's] favorite is The Dick Van Dyke Show, which she sometimes now watches [in reruns]. I have to say The Dick Van Dyke Show ranks right up there.''...

'There are shows [my wife and I] agree on. We like the reruns of Seinfeld. I really like Curb Your Enthusiasm. I kind of like Dexter, too, although it certainly has a macabre side to it. I'll tell you that [my wife] likes Big Love — I haven't watched it much, but she enjoys that. And I like The Wire a lot, too. That's a great show.''

"I ate orange slices topped with crushed olives, oil, and fennel seeds... I ate cabbage and beans with garlic and oil, and even that was mesmerizing."

Posh vegetarian cookery.
[Marco] Folicaldi believes in using “too much” garlic, and he’s not shy about large quantities of olive oil or cheese either, so the food is consistently strong-flavored and rich.
Vegetarianism is no more a weight-loss strategy than meat-eating.

"Any person of color who likes stuff on ["Stuff White People Like"] has been accused of being white at some point in their life."

TNR interviews Christian Lander of "Stuff White People Like."

"Is Obama the End of Black Politics?"

Asks Matt Bai in the NYT Magazine.

Hillary keeps hearing about that "incredible pent-up desire."

And she's thinking about how to satisfy it.



"People want to feel like, okay, it's a catharsis."

August 6, 2008

Discuss.



ADDED: Uncle Jimbo makes the comparison:
Atta - Islamist extremist member of a death cult dedicated to the murder of as many people who disagree with their religious views as possible. Ringleader of plot to fly loaded airliners into the twin towers, White House and the Capitol building. Succeeded in killing almost 3,000 people.

Motivation - A far too common interpretation of Islam and a desire to put the entire world under the totalitarian, iron sandal of Sharia law.

Ivins - A pitiful nerd scientist obsessed with a sorority whose member had (quite obviously correctly) spurned his advances. Mentally unstable, increasingly more deranged, begins mailing packages and letters under assumed names. Eventually goes all the way around the bend and sends anthrax to a number of places killing five.

Motivation - He's a freakin' nuttah, who eventually snapped and indulged his mania and his need for employment by creating a domestic terror incident.
The idea is that they are completely different. I agree that they are different, but I wanted to move you to examine yourself. Many of us look at that picture of Mohammad Atta and think we can see evil. That is one of the most loathsome photographs in history. And then there's Ivins, smiling, nerdy, twinkly... we'd never pick out that face as a terrorist. We need to become skeptical of our own ability to see evil in a photograph.

What does Barack Obama really think about affirmative action?

I read something that surprised me in today's Maureen Dowd column: "Obama didn’t even tell Harvard Law School that he was black on his application."

He didn't?

Googling, I find "Delicate Obama Path on Class and Race Preferences," by Rachel L. Swarns, which I glossed over when came out 3 days ago.

Why didn't I pay more attention to this? Something about that headline? Something about the first few paragraphs?
In 1990, as his fellow students rallied to protest the dearth of black professors at Harvard Law School, Barack Obama wrote a vigorous defense of affirmative action. The campus was in an uproar over questions of race, and Mr. Obama, then the first black president of The Harvard Law Review, decided to take a stand.

Mr. Obama said he had “undoubtedly benefited from affirmative action” in his own academic career, and he praised the intellectual heft and wide-ranging views of his diverse staff.

“The success of the program speaks for itself,” he said of the law review’s affirmative action policy in a letter published in the school’s student newspaper.

Mr. Obama, a Democrat, has continued to support race-based affirmative action, calling it “absolutely necessary” when he was a state senator in Illinois and criticizing the Supreme Court for curtailing it in his time in the United States Senate. But in his presidential campaign, he has unsettled some black supporters by focusing increasingly on class and suggesting that poor whites should at times be given preference over more privileged blacks.
I read about this far the other day. My impression was that Obama, like most students of that era, supported affirmative action — it's what all the good people do — and knew he'd benefited from it. And now, he's refurbishing his position to serve his political ends. The article goes on to talk about his well-known concessions about how perhaps affluent black kids like his own should not get in on the affirmative action. Yawn. [CORRECTED to read "should not get in on..." A typo.]

But keep reading — past many paragraphs:
Former classmates say Mr. Obama chose not to mention his race in his application to Harvard Law School to avoid benefiting from affirmative action, an assertion that his campaign declined to confirm or deny.
I don't remember reading that before. This is important. How would former classmates know this? He would have to have talked about it. They may be misrembering or misreporting what they heard from him (or heard second-hand), but if not, we know 2 things: 1. He declined to show his race on his application, and 2. He chose to talk about that with other students.

Actually, we don't really know #1, because: 1. He might have misremembered or misreported how he filled out his application, and 2. One could decline to answer the specific question about race on the application form but still reveal one's race in the personal essay. I would imagine that Obama's essay explained his unusual parentage and his story of life in diverse places dealing with all sorts of people. That is, I think that the Admissions Committee would have seen strong diversity factors in his application even if he declined to check a what's-your-race box and that they'd figure out that he would serve the school's interest in having darker faces among all the white faces in the classroom. In fact, I'm guessing the campaign doesn't want to talk about this point because of this complexity.

Obama may well have believed that it wasn't right for him, a son of a Kenyan man and a white American woman, to apply for benefits that were designed for the descendants of American slaves, and for that reason, declined to check the race box. But it's possible that Obama chose to hide his race on his law school application because he actually opposed affirmative action.

That he voiced his support for it when he was in law school may not mean that much, because it is so extremely common for law students to say nice things about affirmative action in order to get along with others and to be thought well of. And it's not surprising that as the president of Harvard Law Review, he would compliment his staff and not disrespect the individuals who got their places by affirmative action.

More nuance:
“His work was with those who didn’t have much, and they were black, Hispanic and white,” said Gerald Kellman, who hired Mr. Obama to help organize poor families in Chicago. “He never had much inclination to use affirmative action as a tool then. He wanted to level the playing field by providing early childhood education programs, access to good schools.”

Even as Mr. Obama embraced more traditional liberal views of affirmative action, he was rarely doctrinaire. As a student, Mr. Obama sometimes engaged in and sometimes avoided the bitter racial debates on campus.

As an undergraduate at Occidental College, for instance, he declined to get involved in student efforts to push for affirmative action and minority hiring. At Harvard, he spoke at a rally in support of students who condemned the school administration for failing to offer tenure to any of its professors who were black women.

But he and other editors at the law review were ambivalent when some students argued that women should benefit from the review’s affirmative action policy....

“He was clearly unambiguously in favor of affirmative action as a policy matter, but he recognized some of the ambiguities and the nuances in the argument that the most passionate affirmative action supporters often did not,” said Bradford A. Berenson, who served as associate White House counsel under President Bush and worked on the law review with Mr. Obama.

Mr. Obama was sympathetic to minority students who argued that affirmative action undermined them in the eyes of their white colleagues. But he said he never felt that way at Harvard.

“I have not personally felt stigmatized,” Mr. Obama wrote in his letter to the editor in 1990.

That changed after law school.

A federal judge once asked a friend of Mr. Obama’s whether he had been “elected on the merits” as law review president, Mr. Obama told The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education in 2001. He said the question came up again when he applied for a job as a professor at the University of Chicago Law School.

Mr. Obama has not described how he felt then. But as a state senator, he spoke with empathy about accomplished minority students at elite universities who sometimes lived “under a cloud they could not erase.”
There's some resonance with what Clarence Thomas has said:
But at Yale, Thomas sensed he was being treated differently by teachers and fellow students. The law school had a program that set aside a certain number of slots for minority students.

"I honestly, honestly believed that Yale thought that having a kid who came from working people in the South, who had grown up through segregation, that this kid who had prospered, who had done well every single place he'd ever been, whether an all-white school, all-black school, he's always done well. He will do well here. And it will benefit both him and Yale," Thomas says. "That's what I thought. Well, that isn't what it was converted to."

"It was converted to, 'Well, you're here because you're black,'" Thomas explains.

Thomas did well at Yale, graduating somewhere in the middle of his class, but he says it was the first time anybody had tried to put him in a box because of his race, and whatever benefits he accrued from being there were tarnished when it came time to graduate.

"You know, I was in debt. I needed a job. And I couldn’t get a job," Thomas says.

"Not even with a Yale law degree?" [Steve] Kroft asks.

"I couldn’t get a job. And I just saw the discounting of my degree happen before my eyes," Thomas says.

Asked why he thinks that is, Thomas says, "That degree meant one thing for whites and another thing for blacks…it was discounted."

"You write in the book that your Yale degree was worth 15 cents," Kroft remarks.

"Well, you know Steve, I have still a 15 cents sticker on the frame that my law degree is in," Thomas says. "It's tainted. So I just leave it in the basement."
Of course, as a Democratic politician, Barack Obama would never state his doubts about affirmative action in such a vividly harsh way — even if he thought exactly the same thing.

What does Barack Obama really think about affirmative action?

The fact is we don't know.

But we don't know a lot of things about Barack Obama.

"For McCain, being cool meant being a rogue, not a policy wonk; but Obama manages to be a cool College Bowl type...."

And it must irk McCain that the cooler cool these days is the nerd cool, says Maureen Dowd. Her column is all about the envy McCain must feel for Obama, but I wanted to focus on the transformation of cool.

Obama is making schoolwork, studying, and showing your braininess cool. That's good for the kids, people.

I love the new Paris Hilton ad — discussed in the previous post — because she — the emblematic airhead — now sees it in her interest to act really smart. She probably is reasonably smart: She's built a very successful career while making it look effortless. It was cool to (seem to) be a big dummy. And she's picked up the new trend: Being openly intelligent.

What a great trend!

August 5, 2008

Paris Hilton does a pro-McCain ad!

See more funny videos at Funny or Die


Oh? You think it's not pro-McCain? Explain why!

(And I'll tell you why you're wrong.)

ADDED, 12 hours later: I guess I owe you an explanation. My reason for calling this a pro-McCain ad is this. First, of course, Paris Hilton is promoting herself, as she always does. She exploited the opportunity that the McCain ad gave her, as she exploits every opportunity. That's very free-market capitalistic of her, but that's not my big reason. McCain's ad presented her as an airhead (for the purpose of suggesting that Obama is also an airhead), so here she is suddenly being very smart. Her ad has her saying something that we are supposed to accept as exactly what a very smart person would say if they weren't limited by constraints of party politics. She presents her answer on oil as a "hybrid" of the 2 candidates' positions, but listen to it! It's McCain's position. She supports off-shore drilling, with appropriate environmental safeguards, as we encourage the development of alternative energy sources.

That's McCain's position! Secret message of the ad: The smart position is McCain's position and not Obama's.

Now, you might want to say that all that funny stuff at the beginning about McCain's age is anti-McCain. No, it's not! It's McCain's position. McCain is constantly making jokes about how old he is. How many times has he said "I'm older than dirt and more scarred than Frankenstein"?

Finally, Hilton is giving the "biggest celebrity" ad another big boost. That ad has already worked, but it was coming to the end of it's life cycle. Hilton jolted it back alive.



FROM THE COMMENTS (that predate my explanation): Ben (The Tiger) said:
How is it pro-McCain?

1. Well... there's no hint of pulling back from her lifestyle. Looking to where she can fly next is not unlike McCain's call for the sound of fifty thousand Harleys.

2. Her position is very much like McCain's -- drill, but not everywhere. (I'd prefer more drilling.)

3. If she really wanted to skewer McCain, she'd do more than make fun of his age in a way that he did himself on SNL.

4. Obama not seriously engaged.

5. Again, she's not backing down from the American life of excess. There will be no scolding of people's life choices. That doesn't fit with the environmentalist movement.

6. She left the door totally open for the McCain riposte -- "Paris Hilton supports drilling! Paris Hilton has a better energy policy than Barack Obama!"

***

So the ad's objectively pro-McCain.

Was it intentionally pro-McCain?

I suspect so -- I don't think she's dumb.

But then, I'm prejudiced -- I'm a McCain fan.
Beldar said:
I don't think the ad's intentions, other than furthering the popularity ambitions of Ms. Hilton, are at all clear.

Because I already had a view of Obama as (mostly) humorless and of McCain as being willing to poke fun at himself ("older than dirt"), I was inclined to take her comments about the "really old guy" as fond teasing. But honestly, that's me projecting sly wit onto Ms. Hilton that I'm not at all sure she intended.

The ad does McCain palpable damage by its strong suggestion that he opposes conservation. He doesn't. As others have pointed out, what she describes as the "Paris Hilton position" is in fact essentially the McCain position (a combination of prudent development and conservation). In fairness, the McCain campaign itself has muddied these waters by choosing to lampoon Obama for suggesting that people check their tire pressure, which in fact is a perfectly good conservation suggestion, albeit wholly inadequate by itself.

I'm not at all sure why, Prof. A, you think this video cuts so unequivocally in McCain's favor. I think you may be crediting the "average" viewer, or at least large numbers of viewers, with more subtlety and discrimination than they in fact possess, but I eagerly await your promised explanation.
Ben (The Tiger) responds:
I want to see Althouse's explanation, but I think it's telling that almost all the right-wingers whose reactions I've read think that the spot was charming, whatever else they've thought about Paris Hilton in the past. (And I do, too.)
Yeah, and Beldar, the unclarity of Hilton's position is what makes it effective. An openly pro-McCain ad would not be effective. Her above-party-politics pose is .... hot.

Greg Toombs said...
The ad is 90% about McCain (when it's not about Paris) and 10% the 'other guy'/Barack.

Specific McMentions:

1) He's the oldest celebrity in the world
2) like super old
3) dancing a sin & beer in a bucket examples
4) is McCain ready to lead
5) wrinkly, white-haired guy
6) thanks, white-haired dude
7) Paris' energy plan endorses McCain's drilling plus his $300 million battery prize
8) three McCain pictures - none of Barack

It's all about McCain.

When it's not about Paris.
J Lee said:
What makes the ad pro-McCain in large part isn't just what it says, but the McCain camp's reaction to the ad.

Watching how the morning network news shows tried to play it today, the spin was "Paris Hilton strikes back at McCain ad", which is where it would have stayed if they had their way. Unfortunately, they were forced to also cover the McCain camp's reply that credited Ms. Hilton with having a better energy policy than Barack Obama. Had the McCain camp responded with the same sort of humorless "whatever" remark the Obama people did, it would have freed up the big media folks to paint this exclusively as a slap-down of Maverick and his original ad.

Now, here's something different, and very smart, from LB-Philadelphia PA (who has only commented once before, back last year):
Has anyone else picked up on the subliminal racism of the "best tan" comment? I mean, Obama is seriously tanned and he's from Hawaii. It's code, I tell you, code!
Interesting, but is that pro- or anti-Obama point?

"An image right there... of the Leaning Tower of Pisa and ... the Washington Monument.... You tell me why those 2 phallic symbols are placed there..."

NYT columnist Bob Herbert gets embarrassingly mixed up about the image of the Victory Column in Obama's "biggest celebrity" commercial.



Hey, what about the use of Britney Spears in that ad? Spears!! Get it? Everyone knows spears area phallic symbols! Racist too, I might add.

Come on, Bob. Don't give up just because you got the monuments wrong. It's still a phallic symbol, and that ad is full of symbols that just won't quit.

Britney Spears and Paris Hilton.

Brit + Paris = Europe!

-ney + Hilton = knee + hotel = blatant sexual imagery.

Al Franken says "Wisconsin sucks."

Al Franken is a comedian running for Senator in Minnesota, where insulting Wisconsin is considered hilarious.

Obayhma.

I thought I could be the first to write that, but I'm not. Still, I'm writing it anyway. It's the Brangelina form of naming a couple. But everyone does it, and it's hard to be first.

McRomaine.



Am I first with that?

It's not a fast-food salad.

It's:

I call Barack Obama to account for picking another bland, midwestern pretty boy.

(This is assuming the choice is Evan Bayh.)

"The Demon With a Glass Hand."

Yesterday, we were talking about the Bradbury Building in downtown L.A.

Bradbury Building

Someone emailed to say that "The Demon With a Glass Hand" — an episode of "Outer Limits," written by Harlan Ellison — was filmed in the Bradbury Building. I love the Bradbury Building, and I love "Outer Limits," which I watched when it originally aired, back in the 1960s, on Friday nights, just before "The Twilight Zone."

And, look, aren't we lucky? You can watch "The Demon With a Glass Hand" on YouTube: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

Don't...

... laugh.

Bayh?

The buzz says Bayh:
Senator Obama is headed for Elkhart, Indiana, tomorrow, where he is scheduled to campaign with Senator Bayh, who is being described in some quarters as the "safe" choice for Mr. Obama as a running mate. As a former chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council, Mr. Bayh might be seen as a centrist who can help make good on Mr. Obama's talk of working to bridge party differences and unite America.
But the NY Sun says Bayh "has lurched to the left in an effort to make himself palatable to the party's base of hard-left activists and special interest groups":
He voted against the confirmation of Chief Justice Roberts....

Mr. Bayh has also lost his bearings in pursued of the left wing of organized labor...

He has pandered on the Constitution, as one of just 14 Democrats in 2006 who backed an amendment giving Congress the power to ban flag-burning. On January 22, 2004, he voted against school vouchers in Washington, D.C., a bill that more reasonable Democrats such as Senators Feinstein and Schumer supported. He filibustered to block a vote on confirming John Bolton as the Bush administration's ambassador at the United Nations....
Hmmm. I realize I have no opinion on Evan Bayh. I can't even picture him. I've never progressed beyond the stage of making an effort not to call him Birch Bayh. Okay, I just looked at a picture of him. I still can't picture him.

ADDED: The reason I can't picture Bayh is that after I look at a photograph of him, my attempt to picture him calls up a picture of John Edwards. What is it with these candidates wanting their partner to be a bland pretty boy? I remember when George H.W. Bush picked the boyishly good-looking Dan Quayle, but Kerry and now, apparently, Obama are following the pattern. It's ironic that after all that talk about how he doesn't look like all those other Presidents "on the dollar bills," Obama is choosing a man for his looks. Is this supposed to appeal to women? What's notable is that he passed up Hillary Clinton, the person with the strongest claim to the position, and that's going to irritated a lot of her supporters.

AND: I vlog my objection to the Bayh choice.

IN THE COMMENTS: Tara van Brederode says:
I kind of like the sound of "Obama/Bayh" ... though I can't help turning it into the Hindi "Obama Bhai," which means "Obama [my] brother." Then again, there's "Obama Bai," for the "kthxsbai" LOL-cat crowd. And I suppose McCain can make hay with "Obama bye." Or the capitalists: "Obama buy."
kthxsbai.

Would you trust a law professor to be President?

Okay, this annoys me, because Steve H. asserts that I was annoyed by something, which I wasn't — I was just making fun of him — but I'm going to talk about it anyway, not to demonstrate that I'm nowhere near as irascible as you may think, but because it looks somewhat interesting.

Titled "The Dalai Obama v. Karma/Pedal Your Tricycle Back to the Faculty Lounge," it begins with an assertion that Steve has the "wonderful feeling" that Obama has "royally shafted himself over the last month," a time period which, I note, includes the "fortnight" Andrew Sullivan has termed "objectively miraculous" for Obama. (Actually, it would be objectively miraculous if Obama could royally shaft himself.)

But Steve's idea of the self-shafting consists Obama's failure to admit that he was wrong about the surge, his waffling on offshore drilling, and his increasingly apparent egotism. He connects egotism to law professing and says he's "horrified by the prospect of a law professor running the country" (the point he's supposedly made before that supposedly annoyed me).

What's so bad about lawprofs? Steve thinks they are the "idiot-savants of the profession," who couldn't "hack it" in legal practice, and took "asylum" in the cushy world of law school where we are paid too much — he estimates the salary at $100,000 — and work very little — he estimates 15 hours a week. In Steve's view, most lawprofs are "pathetic," "socialist nutwads," who act "brave and rebellious, while working tenured jobs with outstanding benefits, and while toeing the administration line with a scrupulousness worthy of OCD." We "rebel by doing exactly what people in authority tell" us to do. Protected from the demands of the real world we ran away from, lawprofs spend our lives concocting phony theories that would self-destruct on contact with the real world.

That's Steve's theory anyway.

So let's see.

1. Of course, it's fun to attack lawprofs, and many of us have retreated from the demands of clients, billable hours, and the practical application of legal knowledge. It's fun to attack lawyers too, and not being the lawyer type could be seen as a good thing. A lawyer must work in the client's interest — which is why everyone else is rightly suspicious of him — but a law professor wants to take a wider view and be free to look at problems from different perspectives.

2. Obama did not retreat from the world to become a law professor. He even turned down the job of full-time, tenured lawprof. He was always pursuing his political career, working as a legislator, or doing "community organizing," while putting in extra hours hashing through the constitutional law cases with students. He was only attracted to the teaching side of the lawprof job, the part that puts you in a lively room full of demanding, competitive individuals. He entirely eschewed scholarship, so it's irrelevant that a lot of lawprofs while away their time with unworkable theories or sucking up to other academics.

3. You certainly wouldn't want a typical lawprof to be President, but Obama was a lawprof the way Bill and Hillary Clinton were lawprofs. That is, he's a politician. Basically, we always get a politician for President.

August 4, 2008

"Is anyone as unsurprised as I am that he's a Leo?"

There you have it, friends. The most inane Andrew Sullivan post about Barack Obama ever.

The Bradbury Building in downtown L.A.

Bradbury Building

Bradbury Building

Bradbury Building

Just a few of my fisheye views of the great building.

Here's some "Blade Runner"-specific info.

The photo-puzzle of the day.

DSC_0213

What L.A. building is this a small part of? What movie do most people refer to when they talk about this building? What much-less-talked-about movie did Althouse recognize this building from?

(Enlarge.)

UPDATE: Question 1 answered quickly by Randy and Paul, simultaneously at 11:41, and Paul also got question 2. UWS Guy got question 3, the really hard one, at 11:25. Before you click to the comments, here's video from the movie I remembered. Did you see it?

"The one thing that was most vivid to me was watching that bugger spit my teeth out."

Memories of a bear attack.

"It is within the power of writers and artists to do much more: to defeat the lie!"

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn has died. One of the giants of human history.
In the autumn of 1961, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was a 43-year-old high school teacher of physics and astronomy in Ryazan, a city some 70 miles south of Moscow. He had been there since 1956, when his sentence of perpetual exile in a dusty region of Kazakhstan was suspended. Aside from his teaching duties, he was writing and rewriting stories he had conceived while confined in prisons and labor camps since 1944.

One story, a short novel, was “A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich,” an account of a single day in an icy prison camp written in the voice of an inmate named Ivan Denisovich Shukov, a bricklayer. With little sentimentality, he recounts the trials and sufferings of “zeks,” as the prisoners were known, peasants who were willing to risk punishment and pain as they seek seemingly small advantages like a few more minutes before a fire. He also reveals their survival skills, their loyalty to their work brigade and their pride.

The day ends with the prisoner in his bunk. “Shukov felt pleased with his life as he went to sleep,” Mr. Solzhenitsyn wrote. Shukov was pleased because, among other things, he had not been put in an isolation cell, and his brigade had avoided a work assignment in a place unprotected from the bitter wind, and he had swiped some extra gruel, and had been able to buy a bit of tobacco from another prisoner.

“The end of an unclouded day. Almost a happy one,” Mr. Solzhenitsyn wrote, adding: “Just one of the 3,653 days of his sentence, from bell to bell. The extra three days were for leap years.”

Mr. Solzhenitsyn typed the story single spaced, using both sides to save paper.
Much, much more at the link, but let me add this:
His rare public appearances could turn into hectoring jeremiads. Delivering the commencement address at Harvard in 1978, he called the country of his sanctuary spiritually weak and mired in vulgar materialism. Americans, he said, speaking in Russian through a translator, were cowardly. Few were willing to die for their ideals, he said. He condemned both the United States government and American society for its “hasty” capitulation in Vietnam. And he criticized the country’s music as intolerable and attacked its unfettered press, accusing it of violations of privacy.

Many in the West did not know what to make of the man. He was perceived as a great writer and hero who had defied the Russian authorities. Yet he seemed willing to lash out at everyone else as well — democrats, secularists, capitalists, liberals and consumers.
Here's that Harvard speech. Read it. I'll just excerpt at part about our legal system:
Western society has given itself the organization best suited to its purposes, based, I would say, on the letter of the law. The limits of human rights and righteousness are determined by a system of laws; such limits are very broad. People in the West have acquired considerable skill in using, interpreting and manipulating law, even though laws tend to be too complicated for an average person to understand without the help of an expert. Any conflict is solved according to the letter of the law and this is considered to be the supreme solution. If one is right from a legal point of view, nothing more is required, nobody may mention that one could still not be entirely right, and urge self-restraint, a willingness to renounce such legal rights, sacrifice and selfless risk: it would sound simply absurd. One almost never sees voluntary self-restraint. Everybody operates at the extreme limit of those legal frames. An oil company is legally blameless when it purchases an invention of a new type of energy in order to prevent its use. A food product manufacturer is legally blameless when he poisons his produce to make it last longer: after all, people are free not to buy it.

I have spent all my life under a communist regime and I will tell you that a society without any objective legal scale is a terrible one indeed. But a society with no other scale but the legal one is not quite worthy of man either. A society which is based on the letter of the law and never reaches any higher is taking very scarce advantage of the high level of human possibilities. The letter of the law is too cold and formal to have a beneficial influence on society. Whenever the tissue of life is woven of legalistic relations, there is an atmosphere of moral mediocrity, paralyzing man's noblest impulses.

And it will be simply impossible to stand through the trials of this threatening century with only the support of a legalistic structure.

Andrew Sullivan reflects on whether he's "delusional" to say that Obama "had an 'objectively miraculous' fortnight."

Fortnight. That's already funny. Imagine if a candidate said "fortnight." He'd lose.

Anyway, "objectively miraculous." Even if you think that, shouldn't you quit offering up the raw material for this kind of mockery?



It's nice that Sullivan is reflecting on the possibility that he's overgushed. But he stands by his position:
What I meant is simply that it's remarkable that a first-term senator's proposals on Iraq, having been decried as defeat and surrender by McCain and Bush, came to be endorsed by the Iraqi "government," and that McCain and Bush had to adjust their own views accordingly. It's rare that any American politician who is not president would bring hundreds of thousands of foreigners into the streets of Berlin. It's rare that a Democratic nominee would be endorsed by the most successful young right-of-center politician in Britain, and be hailed by the conservative president of France. It's rare that such a newbie could pull off a complicated and pitfall-laden foreign tour without any noticeable gaffes or blunders.
Remarkable ≠ miraculous. And it would be a hell of a miracle to do all that and lose ground in the polls, which is what happened.
McCain is attacking Obama as a celebrity because Obama gave him no opening to attack him as an incompetent or unready on the world stage.
But the celebrity ad is very much an attack on Obama as unready — as is the follow-on "miracle" ad embedded above. McCain turned Obama's European success against him — and closed up the gap in the polls. Why not call that "objectively miraculous"?

I think by "objectively," Sullivan means "subjectively."

"Barack Obama does have an ideological core."

Stanley Kurtz on "Barack Obama's Lost Years":
[T]he time between his first campaign for the Illinois State Senate in 1995 and his race for U.S. Senate in 2004-can fairly be called the "lost years," the period Obama seems least eager to talk about.
But Obama wrote 40 columns for the Hyde Park Herald during those years, from which Kurtz extracts that Obama is "profoundly race-conscious" and "exceedingly liberal." I'm not so sure. Wasn't Obama saying what was politically advantageous for him to say at the time, in Chicago? And wasn't it good leverage for him to begin his climb to power in Chicago? I'm not convinced Obama is motivated by ideology.

IN THE COMMENTS: EnigmatiCore responds:
Would it be safe to say that he either:

* Is motivated by ideology, which evidence suggests is extremely liberal,

or

* Is not motivated by ideology but rather political expediency, and would be working with a Congress that is likely to be very liberal, meaning he would have to take non-expeditious stands in order to go against them?
I agree that if he's motivated by ideology, he's liberal, though maybe not all that extremely. I think it's more likely that he's a politician seeking prestige and power, and I agree that we need to analyze how he would interact with a liberal Congress. But I do not assume that he will go along with a runaway liberal agenda. In fact, I'm concerned that McCain may be more oriented toward getting along with the Democratic Congress. Obama, unlike McCain, will want to be reelected, so he will take account of what the people want and establish his independence from the deeply vested interests of the congressional Democrats. McCain has a lifetime of strong ties developed within Congress, and Obama has scarcely spent any time in the place. So I'm thinking Obama will be more finely attuned to what is good for the country and less beholden to Congress.

Fleshy things in New York Magazine that you might want to talk about.

1. The Montauk monster:



2. The new new face:

John Kerry does a terrible job of representing Barack Obama on "Meet the Press."

As Joe Lieberman dominated every exchange, John Kerry seemed to think it would work to sit back and make Stan Laurel faces:



Kerry's performance hit rock bottom when he struggled to keep up with Obama's latest position on offshore oil drilling:
MR. BROKAW: Let's, let's talk about energy for a moment, if we can, because there have been several developments this past week that are important. A bipartisan coalition of 10 senators...

SEN. KERRY: Yes.

MR. BROKAW: ...five Democrats, five Republicans--want to expand offshore drilling and they want to end a tax credit on oil companies. Senator Obama, in the past, has often said that he's opposed to offshore drilling.... Now, having said that, here's what Senator Obama had to say over the weekend: "My interest is in making sure that we've got the kind of comprehensive energy policy that can bring down gas prices. ... If, in order to get that passed, we have to compromise in terms of a careful, well thought-out drilling strategy that was carefully circumscribed to avoid significant environmental damage--I don't want to be so rigid that we can't get something done." I can already hear the bloggers saying, "Flip-flop." Here's a guy who just...

SEN. KERRY: Sure.

MR. BROKAW: ...a couple of months ago said, "No way we're going to do this," now he's opened the possibility of it again. Two weeks ago on this program Vice President Al Gore, who's the godfather in the Democratic Party of energy policies, said, "No way should we drill offshore."

SEN. KERRY: I agree with Al Gore, and I don't want to. But, but Barack Obama...

MR. BROKAW: You, you--so you don't agree with Senator Obama?

SEN. KERRY: Well, I don't agree--here's, here's what I think his position is demonstrating. He still believes we should not drill offshore.
What?!
MR. BROKAW: But he's prepared to do it if necessary.

SEN. KERRY: He has not changed--what he's prepared to do, Tom, is break America's gridlock by honoring a bipartisan effort if that is the only way to move us towards alternative and renewable fuels and, and, and an energy policy that's comprehensive. I think what you see in the response on this drilling is really the difference in how they might govern. Barack Obama doesn't want to drill offshore, doesn't believe it's the thing to do.
What?! So you're saying that Obama's newest statements on the subject are just some meaningless politicking that you won't even pretend to believe temporarily while he gets himself elected?
There's a very--there's a four-state carefully circumscribed proposal in that, that, in that initiative that, that could conceivably allow some drilling.
that, that... that, that...

Can anyone listen to this part? Kerry gives off the signal that he's going to blather and smokescreen and do that thing his erstwhile fans called "nuance" in 2004.

could conceivably allow some drilling....

But what? But we shouldn't believe it will lead to any drilling?
He doesn't want to do that.
He doesn't? So Obama muddied his position, opened himself up to the accusation that he's flip-flopped, and the take away point really is just that he doesn't want drilling? Thanks a lot, Kerry.

Obama, do not send Kerry out to represent you again. He's terrible.
But if that's what gets us to the energy independence and to the other efforts, I think Joe Lieberman actually supports--now, he didn't support drilling. He's changed and moves in that direction.
"He" — who? I can't even tell if he's talking about Obama or Lieberman. So the point is, I think, that Obama wants to get some legislation through and he's willing to accept some provision that happens to be in it because it only opens a possibility of drilling, and he doesn't support drilling? I thought Obama wanted people to think he was open to offshore drilling, but Kerry is squelching that belief. How is Kerry trying to help Obama?
But here's the bottom line.
Go to the transcript for the news that oil companies make too much money and need to be taxed more. Let's skip a step ahead, and pick up in the middle what Lieberman's saying when he gets the floor again:
... John McCain says we need to drill offshore. That's American oil, we need to bring it into the market to help lower gas prices and make us energy independent. Barack Obama says, this weekend, maybe, and, and, if, but. He did not endorse--he did not come out with a strong decision, Obama, and say, "I'm for offshore drilling." And I predict to you he'll find reasons not to be for it if this comes to a vote in the Senate.

SEN. KERRY: Are you for it now? Have you changed?

SEN. LIEBERMAN: I am for it...

SEN. KERRY: You've changed.
Oh, so Kerry was talking about Lieberman before. That's a distraction. We're talking about Obama and McCain, aren't we? Or is Kerry more concerned about the Senate-level debate about what legislation gets passed?
SEN. LIEBERMAN: ...because of the crisis. That's...

SEN. KERRY: You're now for it.

SEN. LIEBERMAN: ...absolutely right, because of the facts.

I want to take a minute from a personal perspective...

MR. BROKAW: Are you--you're--and you're not for it, Senator Kerry, under any circumstances.

SEN. KERRY: It is an absolutely fraudulent offering to America.
Is this helpful to Obama, who's been reframing his position?
SEN. LIEBERMAN: It, it is not.

SEN. KERRY: Drilling--let me tell you why. We only...

SEN. LIEBERMAN: My buddy here is filibustering this morning.
Yes, exactly! Kerry is being a Senator. Has he forgotten his role of helping Obama? But he wasn't invited onto "Meet the Press" to do his Senate work.
SEN. KERRY: We only have, we only have 3 percent of the world's oil reserves. Sixty-five percent of the oil comes from the Mideast. The problem with global climate change is oil. The problem for our security is our dependency on oil.

MR. BROKAW: So what you're saying...

SEN. KERRY: If we go out and drill more oil, even temporarily, when it doesn't come to the pump for about seven years, you're not dealing with the real crisis, which is moving America's innovation...
The same old Democratic talking points... I thought Obama trying to get away from that.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Well...

SEN. KERRY: ...and creativity, the creation of new fuel.

SEN. LIEBERMAN: ...here, here's the difference. Here, here's the difference. Senator Obama, Senator Kerry say no to offshore drilling, no to nuclear power and...

SEN. KERRY: No, I don't say no to nuclear power.

SEN. LIEBERMAN: OK, hold on. Senator Obama certainly does. John McCain says we got to have all of the above. In the short term, we need to drill for American oil where we can find it and get it safely. That's offshore. Secondly, John McCain has presented--and we need nuclear power. Secondly, John McCain has presented the most bold alternative energy--wind, solar, electric car, hydrogen car--proposals that are around today.

I want to say just a word about the, the racial question here. And I, I speak personally. In the first place, the McCain campaign is, to use Barack Obama's words, raising the question is he a risky guy? But it has nothing to do with his name or his skin color. It has to do with his lack of experience and bad judgment, his unreadiness to be president. When you use the expressions that Senator Obama did three times this week, you're making a personal insult to John McCain.

I, I know John McCain. I've been with him for 20 years, private and public. This man does not have a bigoted bone in his body. His wife and he adopted a baby from Bangladesh, who, who they love. It's just wrong for Senator Obama to have done that. It was right for the campaign to call him on it. Let me just add a final word, Tom. In 2000, Al Gore gave me the extraordinary honor of being the first Jewish-American to run for national office, and Al Gore said he had confidence in the American people that they would judge me based on my record, not on my religion. And I urge Barack Obama to have the same faith in the American people that they will judge him on his record, or lack of record, certainly not on his name or his race.

MR. BROKAW: All right. We want to move on if we can.
Yes, let's move on, now that Joe Lieberman has just done a triumphant 2-part dance on the supine carcass of John Kerry. And that's it for the discussion of oil drilling. Is Brokaw playing it straight, biased against Obama, or just painfully aware that John Kerry is pathetically incapable or perversely unwilling to help Barack Obama?

John Amato way overestimates our awe of Duran Duran.



So this is the guy who made his way in the blogging world at Crooks and Liars by embedding video clips chosen to make various individuals look foolish? Ah, the poetry!

Something about adding that video to "The Sandwich Manifesto" made me want to embed this clip of John.

August 3, 2008

Here's the exact moment when I switched to the fisheye lens in L.A. — and I never went back.

It was my first day in the city, July 27, and I was just setting foot on Melrose Avenue for my first photo walk. Time: 11:45 PDT. I wanted to photograph the Fred Segal store:

DSC_0002

I realized I had the fisheye in my bag, and this is the first fisheye shot:

DSC_0004

L.A. crystalized for me in extravagantly bent form at that moment. It was all fisheye from there.

L.A. photograph.

DSC_0043

I was so happy when I got this photograph. I exclaimed "That was a quad!" (Enlarge.)

Walking down Melrose Avenue, looking through the fisheye lens, I was trying to catch diverse elements in one shot. The lens, of course, sweeps many things into view as I walk along, and people and cars move all around me. I had noticed that car before it parked, and I got excited when it parked near near that funky motel sign. As I was squaring up those 2 elements, I became aware of that huge photograph of a more or less naked woman at the right. As I adjusted the shot to include that photograph, an interesting woman walked into the frame, providing a fourth element. 1. The sign, + 2. the car + 3. the photograph + 4. the woman = a quad. I love when that happens. I mean, I love a 3, but that was a 4.

Melrose Avenue, my favorite photo walk in L.A. — not that I've walked everywhere. Of course, I haven't. And now, I'm back in Madison, but I have many, many more L.A. photographs to come. This one, I think, is my favorite. It's certainly the one that made me the happiest at the time.

The Sandwich Manifesto.

We have gone too long and too far with the evolving meaning of the sandwich. It is time to return to the original intent. John Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich, may not have been the first person to want his food inside 2 slices of bread, but the thing is certainly named after him, and we know his specific purpose: He didn't want to have to stop what he was doing and he didn't want to get any sloppy meat grease on his playing cards or his books and papers. (There's some dispute about whether he was absorbed in gambling or serious professional work.)

But the original intent of the sandwich is clear: To take messy food and make it neat and convenient. You want a substantial meal, but you want to have it on a plate over to the side, so you can continue doing something else. You want to be able to reach over without paying attention, pick it up in one hand, and easily take a bite and put it down again. You shouldn't have to use your fingers to poke stray pieces in before you pick it up. No sauce should drip out. You shouldn't have to use both hands and lean over the plate and expect your bite to eject miscellaneous items from the other side of the bread. You hands should remain clean.

Sandwich makers, quit trying to impress me with piles of slippery ingredients uncontrolled by inadequate bread. The bread must be in charge of the filling. Nothing should be falling out. I don't want to struggle with these slovenly concoctions anymore. I don't want the job of reassembling what you have assembled. I want to sit here and type on my laptop keyboard, use my mouse, and eat a meal at the same time without even thinking about grease and drips. This desire traces back through the whole noble tradition of Sandwich, which you need to respect and value.

In the name of the fourth Earl of Sandwich, return to the original intent.

ADDED: "It's a complete catastrophe!"

On the Santa Monica pier.

The amusement park:

On the Santa Monica pier

Things you might not notice unless you go to the enlargement: pigeons on the roller coaster, toddler has a red squirt gun, the man in front is not eating a hot dog (but a striated pastry of some sort).

Note: We see men in shorts here, but I don't disapprove. It's the beach and the shorts are longish. Many men are wearing heavy blue jeans, which seems unwise. I think the striated pastry guy has the best fashion sense: lightweight, light-colored, long pants.

The merry-go-round:

On the Santa Monica pier

The Lobster — a pretty good restaurant, with a great view:

On the Santa Monica pier

Obama "had yet to learn to be laught at" and sometimes "a deeper shade of hauteur... overspread his features."

Maureen Dowd thinks Jane Austen's description of Mr. Darcy apply well to Barack Obama:
If Obama is Mr. Darcy, with “his pride, his abominable pride,” then America is Elizabeth Bennet, spirited, playful, democratic, financially strained, and caught up in certain prejudices....

In this political version of “Pride and Prejudice,” the prejudice is racial...

So the novelistic tension of the 2008 race is this: Can Obama overcome his pride and Hyde Park hauteur and win America over?

Can America overcome its prejudice to elect the first black president? And can it move past its biases to figure out if Obama’s supposed conceit is really just the protective shield and defense mechanism of someone who grew up half white and half black, a perpetual outsider whose father deserted him and whose mother, while loving, sometimes did so as well?

Can Miss Bennet teach Mr. Darcy to let down his guard, be more sportive, and laugh at himself?
If we're going to get all English proffy, heavy on the race-and-gender talk, shouldn't we critique Dowd for portraying the black man's pursuit of political office as a sexual exploit?

***

I like this little statement at the end of Dowd's column:
Frank Rich is off today.
Isn't Frank Rich always off?

"The only dependable test for gender is the truth of a person’s life, the lives we live each day."

"Surely the best judge of a person’s gender is not a degrading, questionable examination. The best judge of a person’s gender is what lies within her, or his, heart."

When we need to categorize people by sex/gender — for the Olympics, for example — what is the right way to do it? The quote above is from an op-ed by Jennifer Finney Boylan.The quote struck me because what's in someone's heart seems to me to be a terrible test, because it demands another test — the test of what is in a person's heart — and people lie. Certainly, some athletes will lie.

But even if we could accurately see the contents of your heart the way we can see the contents of your pants and your chromosomes, would we want your subjective beliefs to determine who you get to compete against? It's one thing to leave people alone as they live their private lives, quite another to set up an athletic competition where there will be winners and losers.

How does Boylan propose to look into hearts?
A quick look at the reality of an athlete’s life ought to settle the question.
Absurd! Where is this picture of "the reality of an athlete's life" for us to take a "quick look" at? And even if there was such a picture and it could not be faked, what aspects of life are female and what are male? You can't answer the question without using sexist stereotypes that are not only offensive but have very little application to high-level athletes. Obsession with sports and competition is stereotypically male. If we took Boylan's laughable test seriously, there'd be no athlete left in the female category.

Boylan has an alternate conclusion:
Maybe ... Olympic officials have to learn to live with ambiguity, and make peace with a world in which things are not always quantifiable and clear.

That, if you ask me, would be a good thing, not just for Olympians, but for us all.
It's fine to recommend that we appreciate ambiguity, but athletic contests need rules and those who enforce them have to make decisions. It's funny how Boylan wants us to believe in her "quick look" at lifestyle test but wants us to accept that biology is endlessly ambiguous.

There may be some difficult cases at the biological level, but rules should be devised to deal with those cases fairly. As Boylan notes, the Olympic rules permit individuals who have gone through sex reassignment surgery to compete as the sex the surgery has modeled them after. Whether that rule was a good idea is another question. It seems to be accepted because the treatment degrades athletic ability, so the former man does not have the usual advantage a man would have competing with women. But there is no reason to devise a rule that allows men to compete with women because they feel like women.

***

Boylan is the author of “She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders,” described by Booklist here:
In this autobiography, she details her lifelong struggle with her burgeoning femaleness and the path she followed to become a female, both physically and mentally. For 40 years, the author lived as a man, seemingly happy and even marrying a woman and fathering two children. At a certain point, though, she realized that she couldn't suppress her desire to live as a female and so eventually went through all the steps to become female, including sexual reassignment surgery. There is something troubling about Boylan's lighthearted tone, and while she hints at it, there is no really clear depiction of the havoc this transition must have wreaked on her married life (Boylan's wife was clearly devastated) and on her children (who at times refer to her as boygirl or maddy).