October 23, 2010

"I wish I was in my PJ’s."

What President Obama said to a little girl who was wearing pajamas.

In case anyone cares what a bunch of lefty academics in Berkeley are saying at a conference called "Fractures, Alliances, and Mobilizations: Emerging Analyses of the Tea Party Movement."

David Weigel has typed up his notes for your enlightenment. Good lord, the very idea of a Center for the Comparative Study of Right-Wing Movements makes me want to run in the other direction.

"So if something is hard to see or hear, it feels disfluent... We'd found that disfluency led people to think harder about things."

That's a generalization from a study in which readers were better at remembering information written in a difficult-to-read font.

A late night Drudgtaposition.

It's all in the hands:

What is Drudge trying to say about Janet Napolitano?

"... Williams can come out of the closet as a full-on wingnut cartoon character."

"No more living a lie as a one-time journalist playing a fake liberal on Fox News."

Sayeth Josh Marshall.

"I will continue to be intelligent, I vowed, no matter how beautiful I become."

"And then, at, like, the old age of 35, I'll be an incredibly smart and kinda attractive old lady."

Wisconsin vs. Iowa.

"Montee Ball's touchdown with 1:06 left put No. 10 Wisconsin ahead of No. 13 Iowa, and the Badgers defense held at the end to lift UW to a win. A blocked extra point proved to be the difference for Wisconsin."

"They don’t just hate our Republican, conservative, libertarian, strict constructionist, family values guts."

"They hate everybody’s guts. And they hate everybody who has any. Democrats hate men, women, blacks, whites, Hispanics, gays, straights, the rich, the poor, and the middle class."

P. J. O’Rourke works a theme.

"It's just a thing. I worked so hard to get that title."

David Zucker — direct of "Airplane!" — directs a little campaign ad called Call Me Senator":

"[D]eep divisions within the Justice Department... over whether the agency should focus on protecting historically oppressed minorities or enforce laws without regard to race."

Washington Post investigates and reports.

Andrew Breitbart enthuses:
So the Post does what nobody has been able to do – obtain deep sourcing inside the Department confirming what Adams and Coates have been saying for months. This is a devastating piece of work by the Washington Post. This is a rare moment where the old print media has returned to the higher standards of years past, and reported facts. A week from an election, it couldn’t have come at a worse time for Eric Holder.

A Drudgtaposition that didn't last very long — for good reason.

Earlier today, Drudge had this photo juxtaposition:

To become aware of the full — and, I would say, fully intended — subliminal effect, you might need to read the letters — in red — under Michelle Obama's picture: "REPORT: First lady 'likely' to meet 'commercial sex workers' in India!"

Now, expand the frame and see what else was there:

After a few hours, the picture of Michelle disappeared, and the top picture changed from the man-on-man clasp, to this:

There's a secret sex story for close observers of the Drudge Report. Playful, naughty innuendo. I'm not saying that Drudge is suggesting that Barack Obama is gay or that he wants to engage in fellatio with Harry Reid. But that's the funny image of the Drudgtaposition. Then, when Michelle and the phallic symbol were removed, Obama is in the embrace of a woman — a rather boyish-looking woman with mannish glasses — and lots of women are grabbing at him.

If we were to understand the sequence of pictures on Drudge the way we understand panels in a comic strip, we first see Obama approaching an an embrace with a man (who seems to be holding him off at arms' length), and then, in the next, "panel" he finds himself in the eager arms of a person who has some of that masculinity he thought he was about to receive, but who is in fact female.

It reminds me of the sequence in the Stanley Kubrick movie "The Shining," in which the character played by Jack Nicholson enters a bathroom and sees a beautiful, desirable woman in a bathtub. She gets out of the bath, naked, and approaches him for an embrace, and then, once he's holding her, it becomes apparent that she is a dead and rotting old woman.

Does any of this actually say anything about Obama, his sexuality, or his wife? Probably not. It's aimless horsing around, in all likelihood. But we do know Obama is out there this week, trying to woo the women.
The outreach to women — which came on the same day that the White House released a report that said Mr. Obama’s policies, including the health care and economic stimulus bills, have helped women over all — is part of a fevered push to cement a Democratic firewall that White House officials are hoping will stem losses in November.

Women are one of the most important pillars of that wall. “Make sure you’re as fired up and as excited now as you were two years ago,” Mr. Obama told a raucous rally...
Hmm... "fevered push"... "important pillars"... "fired up and... excited"... But that's not Drudge. That's the New York Times.


What's the better spelling of the portmanteau word that combines "Drudge" and "juxtaposition"? Drudgtaposition or Druxtaposition?

Choose one:

pollcode.com free polls

Instead of a Harry hand job, we have a Lewinsky hug

(and let's not forget, that's the photo that essentially launched Drudge's empire)
Click that link. The photo similarity is the amazing.

"So where'm I goin' wrong there, Juan?" — a question from that nice man/monster, Bill O'Reilly.

The Juan Williams moment, prompted by Bill O'Reilly, who just a few days earlier, had this immensely more dramatic-looking moment on "The View":

I got to the Juan Williams video via Donald Sensing (via Instapundit). Sensing has old quotes from Jesse Jackson and Susan Estrich, who both conceded that black men make them anxious in some situations. Jackson's painful admission was that he feels "relieved" when he's walking down the street, hears someone behind him, and looks back and sees that they're white. Estrich said:
Every woman I know, black, white, green or yellow, gets a little bit nervous, if she’s being honest, when she sees an 18-25 year-old black guy dressed in gang attire, walking behind her on the street. I’m not afraid of old black men. I’m not afraid of old white men.
She purports to speak for all women, but limits the nervousness to encounters with "an 18-25 year-old black guy dressed in gang attire, walking behind her on the street." It's funny to see those 2 quotes together. Jackson describes the realistic situation of hearing someone behind you and looking back to see who it is. Estrich too has the person walking behind her, but somehow the nervousness is restricted to the young black man in gang clothes. Her political correctness made her layer in extra details, but if the guy is behind you, you don't see him yet. Were you not nervous just to have someone following you? The supposed revelation of feelings doesn't really add up, which makes the phrase "if she’s being honest" particularly telling.

Now, if Jackson and Estrich could say that, how was Williams different? Actually, there are a lot of differences. I won't try to list them all. But I don't assume that Jackson and Estrich got a free pass for saying what they said. And Williams has gotten a ton of support. It's not all about treating Muslims with more delicacy than black people receive. One thing about Williams is that he made himself available to Bill O'Reilly and gave him support and comfort. I think many people wanted to use that "View" fracas to demonize O'Reilly for good. And then Williams sat down on camera to shine a glow of humanity on the man the good people would have us see as monstrous. And so it became necessary to demonize Williams too.

What are we to make of the new Wikileaks documents?

Read here, including the additional links across the top. There are the details of the hellishness of war, but, beyond that, what are we seeing?

October 22, 2010

At the College Cathedral Café...


... you can see things in the warm light or the cool light...

P1040254 copy

"It's not only the high quality of drugs I had that I attribute my survival to."

"I was very meticulous about how much I took. I'd never put more in to get a little higher. That's where most people f**k up on drugs."

ADDED: To buy the book.

Drudge juxtaposes the Presidents.

What feelings are stirred?

‎"Did I mention I'm fighting against your constitutional rights in court?"

(The quote that is the post title was written by my son Chris as he posted this video on Facebook.)

"I spoke hastily and I apologize to Juan and others for my thoughtless remark."

Apologize? You can't just apologize unless Williams could just apologize. NPR CEO Vivian Schiller must resign.

Schiller spills 'er guts:

And don't you just love the notion that ordinary human feelings are mental disorders that should be kept hidden? In NPR's delightful vision of the future, no one will dare to speak about how they feel and every inappropriate twinge that breaks through your self-protective numbness will be medicalized and treated. Imagine a country that adopts a psychiatric treatment model for political dissent. It's easy if you try.

Bill Clinton: "I called the president the other day, and I said: 'Relax....'"

"'They haven't said anything about you they didn't say about me. The only reason they're being nice to me right now is because I can't run for anything any more.' "

What did Bill Clinton really mean?
Relax, the GOP will get some congressional power, but in the end you'll be reelected.
It's not really all about you. It's all about me.
Let down your guard, so Hillary and I can oust you in 2012.
pollcode.com free polls

"Lillian McEwen breaks her 19-year silence about Justice Clarence Thomas."

The Washington Post has the scoop, including what may be the key sentence: "She has written a memoir, which she is now shopping to publishers."

UPDATE: McEwan in a interview reveals that she had an intimate relationship with Thomas. She says he liked pornography, especially depictions of large breasts. What is the point of revealing something so incredibly banal? Does it corroborate Anita Hill's testimony in any significant way? The issue, in the confirmation hearing, was whether Thomas engaged in sexual harassment in the workplace. McEwan is talking about his private life. First, that's really creepy. Imagine if a man revealed private, sexual things about a woman. McEwan even admits that she's speaking now because she is politically opposed to Clarence Thomas. She doesn't like the way he's deciding the cases.

Since McEwan never says that Thomas talked about pornography in the office, the supposed corroboration is virtually nil. It's true that if we know a man is interested in pornography, it makes it more likely that he talked about that interest somewhere, more likely than if we didn't know whether the man liked pornography. But huge numbers of men are interested in pornography, and only  a small subset of them who pester women by talking about it graphically in the office environment. So it just doesn't matter enough to bring it up.

McEwan also talks about the way Thomas thought about women, but it comes across as sheer speculation. She somehow knows he thought about whether women he met in the office would make good sexual partners. Again, this is perfectly banal. It says little about how he might attempt to initiate a relationship with a coworker. Doesn't nearly every single adult look around at other people and think about whether they are attractive and might make a good sexual partner?

This is just sad and embarrassing.

2 ways of looking at Michelle Obama.

1. She's "an incredibly graceful surrogate” for the President and inspires “warm and fuzzy” feelings.

2. "She's got this Stokely Carmichael-in-a-designer-dress thing going. If she starts talking... her instinct is to start with this blame America, you know, I'm the victim. If that stuff starts to coming out, people will go bananas and she'll go from being the new Jackie O. to being something of an albatross."

#1 is from Nina Totenberg, who still works for NPR. And #2 is from Juan Williams, who used to work for NPR. If statements like #1 are acceptable and statements like #2 get you fired, is that not viewpoint discrimination?

If NPR must now prove it is principled, what a bloodbath is coming!

NPR fired Juan Williams and justified it, via CEO Vivian Schiller, by invoking an official editorial policy:
"[A 'news analyst' has] a very different role than that of a commentator or columnist. News analysts may not take personal public positions on controversial issues; doing so undermines their credibility as analysts, and that's what’s happened in this situation. As you all well know, we offer views of all kinds on your air every day, but those views are expressed by those we interview — not our reporters and analysts....

"... NPR’s ethics code [states]: 'In appearing on TV or other media. ... NPR journalists should not express views they would not air in their role as an NPR journalist. They should not participate in shows ... that encourage punditry and speculation rather than fact-based analysis.”

"More fundamentally, 'In appearing on TV or other media including electronic Web-based forums, NPR journalists  should not express views they would not air in their role as an NPR journalist.'"
Now, NPR is in a position where it must prove that's not a pretext by applying that policy, with comparable severity, to its other on-air personalities. Lefties and righties are getting into this game. The lefties are targeting Mara Liasson. Here's Eric Boehlert at Media Matters:
[I]f you look at NPR's code of ethics, there's simply no way Liasson should be making appearances on Fox....

Liasson is part of the Fox News family. Period. For instance, Liasson appears on the Fox News website as a "Fox News contributor," not as "Fox News contributor to the sorta/kinda serious shows." The only way she'd really be able to defend her continued alliance would be to argue that Fox News in its entirely (i.e. Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity) is a serious endeavor worthy of NPR's status. But if Liasson can't defend all of Fox News, then her half-pregnant approach (i.e. she's only employed by a tiny portion of Fox News) just doesn't fly.
On the right, at the Weekly Standard, Stephen F. Hayes points at Nina Totenberg:
Over the past month, in her regular appearances on “Inside Washington,” she has: criticized a ruling of the Roberts Court as scandalous; claimed that Michelle Obama gives people “warm and fuzzy” feelings; called Bill Clinton “the most gifted politician I’ve ever seen;” and lamented that the Democratic Party is diverse enough to include moderates that want to extend all Bush tax cuts....

Her most partisan comment came when Charles Krauthammer pointed out that 31 Democrats in the House had written to Nancy Pelosi to call for extending the Bush tax cuts, Totenberg wished them out of the party. “When a party actually has a huge majority, it has a huge diversity.  And that is part of the problem that Democrats have.  But would I like it to be otherwise?  Of course.”
Hayes goes on, marshaling the evidence. You get the idea. It's open season on NPR news analysts... with 11 days to go before election day. A grisly October surprise.

October 21, 2010

At the Mendota Moon Café...


... a walk tonight, down by the lake.

"People touch and pose with Adam’s penis for many reasons."

"Because it’s unusual. Because it’s funny. Because it’s just the right combination of naughty and not-too-naughty. Because it’s not in a museum but in a shopping center, where the goods are meant to be handled."

Adam's penis is out there connecting with the people, spreading the love.

Sarah Palin: "Juan Williams: Going Rogue."

A Facebook entry:
... I don’t expect Juan Williams to support me (he’s said some tough things about me in the past) – but I will always support his right and the right of all Americans to speak honestly about the threats this country faces. And for Juan, speaking honestly about these issues isn’t just his right, it’s his job. Up until yesterday, he was doing that job at NPR. Firing him is their loss.

If NPR is unable to tolerate an honest debate about an issue as important as Islamic terrorism, then it’s time for “National Public Radio” to become “National Private Radio.” It’s time for Congress to defund this organization.

Ted Olson says: "It would be appropriate for them to say 'the law has been deemed unconstitutional, we are not going to seek further review of that.'"

I agree.
"It happens every once in awhile at the federal level when the solicitor general, on behalf of the U.S., will confess error or decline to defend a law," said former George W. Bush administration solicitor general Ted Olson, who is leading the legal challenge of California's ban on same-sex marriage. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the state attorney general have both declined to defend the law in court.

"I don't know what is going through the [Obama] administration's thought process on 'don't ask, don't tell'...."
He doesn't know, but I bet he has some ideas. He's too dignified to tell. But I think we know.

Keep rolling.


Hillary says: Don't kill yourself.

I can only imagine the impression this makes on a young, gay person who actually is suicidal. I'm old, heterosexual, and an immense fan of staying alive. But I can't see why would it would help to hear this dreary, robotic intonation of conventional advice from a representative of an administration that is fighting, in courts, against the rights of gay people to serve in the military and to marry.

ADDED: "Tomorrow will be better"... that's the message. I note the red dress. Why not:

AND: I think that song really makes you want to stay alive. Look:

There's so much room for personal taste. To each his own. For love partners and for things that stimulate the will to live.

NPR Fires Juan Williams because of what he said about Muslims.

Williams was on "The O’Reilly Factor":
Mr. O’Reilly said, “The cold truth is that in the world today jihad, aided and abetted by some Muslim nations, is the biggest threat on the planet.”

Mr. Williams said he concurred with Mr. O’Reilly.

He continued: “I mean, look, Bill, I’m not a bigot. You know the kind of books I’ve written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.”

Mr. Williams also made reference to the Pakistani immigrant who pleaded guilty this month to trying to plant a car bomb in Times Square. “He said the war with Muslims, America’s war is just beginning, first drop of blood. I don’t think there’s any way to get away from these facts,” Mr. Williams said.

NPR said in its statement that the remarks “were inconsistent with our editorial standards and practices, and undermined his credibility as a news analyst with NPR.”
Williams managed to be a commentator on both NPR and Fox for quite a while, but I guess it was just too much to see him feeding red meat to O'Reilly just a few days after O'Reilly enraged Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg over the very same subject. These news media — Fox and NPR — want the image they want, and Williams did a great job, fitting into both templates for as long as he did.

The response from lefties and righties is predictable. William Kristol says:
I suspect the powers-that-be at NPR pretty much think what Juan thinks. But the standards of political correctness must be maintained. Pressure groups speaking for allegedly offended Muslims must be propitiated. And so Juan had to go.
Glenn Greenwald says:
Williams' trite attempt to glorify his bigotry as anti-P.C. Speaking of the Truth is inane, as his remarks were suffused with falsehoods...

Whether these latest comments were merely the opportunity they [NPR] were looking for to terminate their relationship with him, or whether it was caused solely by these disgusting comments, is unclear. But what is clear is that the anti-Muslim bigotry he spewed is both the proximate and cited cause....
And so on.

Williams is now free of the need to preserve his relationship with NPR. I'm pretty interested to hear what he'll say now that he's shaken off the chains of PC-radio. Talk to us, Juan!

October 20, 2010

Early evening on the Capital City Trail...


... it was so beautiful...


... with you.

At the Blue Curtain Café...

... we're sincerely implorin' our friends and neighbors.

Hey, I want to be in this book!

I was raised by Delaware!

Should professors use class time to urge students to vote?

I'm getting internal university email telling faculty to do that (with a reminder to keep it "nonpartisan").

Let's not talk too much about Christine O'Donnell.

She's way behind in the polls. Many other things are going on right now, and she is a big distraction. Democratic candidates in this election season are offering us precious little defense of what the Democrats have done with the vast power that was handed to them in 2008.

The 2010 elections should center on critique or defense of what has happened in the last 2 years, and what Republican candidates propose to do about it, not hoary old questions about who will and who won't accept the theory of evolution and who can state constitutional texts and doctrines with precision.

In whose interest is it to make the elections about O'Donnell? What I think I'm seeing is the idea that O'Donnell could be made to seem like: 1. a blithering idiot, and 2. the face of the Republican Party. Then: Watch out for Republicans! Vote for Democrats. That is all such repulsive nonsense.

Slate and Stupid: William Saletan's cocky ignorance of the First Amendment.

I'm turning William Saletan's headline back on him.
.... The key exchange begins just after the 17-minute mark. Here's my transcription:
Coons: The First Amendment establishes the separation, the fact that the federal government shall not establish any religion, and decisional law by the Supreme Court over many, many decades—

O'Donnell: The First Amendment does?
... In expressing her disbelief, she clearly emphasizes the word first.  She seems incredulous not just at Coons' position against government-established religion, but that he bases it on the First Amendment. It's the citation that surprises her.
Perhaps she emphasized "First" because the discussion had been about what local school boards could do, and restrictions on them would need to come out of the 14th Amendment.* Now, Coons does properly restrict his assertion to the federal government at that point, but:
A minute later, O'Donnell brings the discussion back to this question:
O'Donnell: Let me just clarify: You're telling me that the separation of church and state is found in the First Amendment?

Coons: Government shall make no establishment of religion.

O'Donnell: That's in the First Amendment.
Again, you need the audio, and in this case full-screen video, to get her meaning. As she says, "That's in the First Amendment," she stares at Coons with a look of contemptuous amusement. (You can see her expression more clearly in this video, about 7 minutes in.) Then she grins knowingly at somebody in the audience. She thinks Coons has just embarrassed himself.
"Government shall make no establishment of religion" is a blatant misstatement of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. ("Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion...") Now, I'm not trying to skewer Coons for saying that. Coons is doing well enough for speaking purposes. This isn't scholarly writing. But he's open to questioning, and O'Donnell might have pursued the point. Maybe she grinned because she knew he'd said something wrong.

Saletan proceeds, on this scanty evidence, to insist that the real problem with O'Donnell is that she is too confident when she speaks. Supposedly, that makes her "impervious" to new information and arguments, and that would be bad. Yeah, it would be bad. But this is a political debate! It's not the time to make a show of uncertainty and doubt. It's a time to state clear positions so voters can make a choice. I'm sure if O'Donnell had seemed uncertain about what to think, Saletan would have attacked her for her weakness. Instead, he's left criticizing her for "imperviousness." That's really lame. It reminds me of the way people of the left were always calling George Bush "incurious." It might make some sense if an ever-searching, ever-questioning intelligence was demanded of every candidate, across the political spectrum, but it is not.

My working theory is that it's Saletan who is impervious — and incurious. But I will continue, as ever, to search and question (and be, as ever, completely ill-suited to run for political office).


* The 14th Amendment — the Supreme Court has held — incorporates the Establishment Clause and makes it applicable to state and local government. There is, by the way, an impressive argument that the incorporation of the Establishment Clause was a mistake. Justice Thomas makes that argument here. I would not be surprised if O'Donnell would, as Senator, enthusiastically vote to confirm more federal judges who think like Clarence Thomas. And that's certainly something Delaware voters should take into account.

"Once you understand that to the credentialed-instead-of-educated, the Constitution is a wish-fulfillment device..."

"... rather than, you know, an authoritative text, it all makes sense. And there’s no real need to know or care about the words in the text, since it means whatever you want it to mean at the moment."

Says Glenn Reynolds, linking to my post on Coons, O’Donnell, and the Separation of Church and State.

A word needs to be said about the mocking laughter that instantly erupted from the law students in the audience. Presumably, that sound meant we are smart and you are dumb. Where did they learn to treat a guest at their law school — Widener Law School — with such disrespect? They hooted O'Donnell down, and she never got a chance to explain her point. What does that say about the climate for debate in law schools? Not only did they feel energized to squelch the guest they politically opposed, but they felt sure of their own understanding of the law.

I've been studying law myself since 1978, and I still puzzle over things and try to work my way through problems. If a speaker at my school makes a statement that sounds outlandish to me — me with 32 years of studying law — I may display a puzzled expression or a smile, but I hear the person out and entertain the possibility that he has a point and that even if the point is wrong, I will have learned some new perspective on the ways of being wrong or how another human being's mind works. I try to create that atmosphere in the classroom.

What is the atmosphere at Widener? Is there no intellectual curiosity? No love of debate? No grasp of how complex constitutional law problems can be?

ADDED: Here's the video:

At the Statistics Tree Café...


... you can celebrate World Statistics Day.

October 19, 2010

O'Donnell and Coons on the separation of church and state.

Somehow, I can't escape the feeling of obligation to post about this. It's a bit annoying to me, because I cannot stand when people jump to the conclusion that someone they want to believe is stupid is being stupid when they say something that seems wrong. Think first. Is it wrong?

And I hate the converse — the assumption that the supposedly smart person has said something smart. Stop. Slow down. Read/listen closely. It's often the case that what we have is a banal political disagreement. And that's what I think this O'Donnell/Coons thing is.

I really wish I had the verbatim transcript of the colloquy, and that's the main reason I've been dragging my feet posting on this. The reporters aren't presenting the quotes in a reliable fashion. And we need to begin with stark clarity that the text of the Establishment Clause is: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion."

So let's look at the reporting:
"Where in the Constitution is separation of church and state?" O'Donnell asked while Democrat Chris Coons, an attorney, sat a few feet away.
Plainly, the Constitution does not say "separation of church and state," so there's nothing stupid there. It's provocative, because many people like that gloss on the text.
Coons responded that O'Donnell's question "reveals her fundamental misunderstanding of what our Constitution is. ... The First Amendment establishes a separation."
He's talking about interpretations of the text, and she was talking about the text. What we're hearing is 2 individuals talking past each other.
She interrupted to say, "The First Amendment does? ... So you're telling me that the separation of church and state, the phrase 'separation of church and state,' is in the First Amendment?"
She's telling him to pay attention to her limited point about the text.
He noted again the First Amendment's ban on establishment of religion.
Ah, here's where I hate reporters. Give me the quote. I don't think Coons quite gets it. Ah. Here. He says: "Government shall make no establishment of religion."

O'Donnell reacts: "That's in the First Amendment?" And, in fact, it's not. The First Amendment doesn't say "government." It says "Congress." And since the discussion is about what local school boards can do, the difference is highly significant.

Also, it isn't "shall make no establishment of religion." It's "shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." There's a lot one could say about the difference between those 2 phrases, and I won't belabor it here. Suffice it to say that it was not stupid for O'Donnell to say "That's in the First Amendment?" — because it's not. Coons was presenting a version of what's in the cases interpreting the text, not the text itself.

The 2 were talking past each other, trying to look good and make the other look bad. It is a disagreement about law between 2 individuals who are not running for judge. It's not detailed legal analysis. It's a political debate and this is a political disagreement. An important one, no doubt. But it can't be resolved by laughing at one person and calling her an idiot, something I find quite repellent.

"Good morning, Anita Hill, it's Ginny Thomas."

"I just wanted to reach across the airwaves and the years and ask you to consider something. I would love you to consider an apology sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband. So give it some thought and certainly pray about this and come to understand why you did what you did. Okay have a good day."

Now, how could that kind of reaching out possibly work?

"It was just a pro se prisoner petition in a big stack of IFPs that normally would be short-formed with a quick 'Splitless, factbound, I recommend DENY.'"

Orin Kerr puzzles over Justice Sotomayor's "rather remarkable dissent from denial of certiorari in Pitre v. Cain, a pro se Eighth Amendment case brought by a prison inmate whose case was dismissed as “patently frivolous” by the trial court and affirmed by the Fifth Circuit in a short one-paragraph order.

The opinion begins:
Petitioner Anthony Pitre, a Louisiana state prisoner, stopped taking his HIV medication to protest his transfer to a prison facility. He alleges that respondents at the facility punished him for this decision by subjecting him to hard labor in 100-degree heat. According to Pitre, respondents repeatedly denied his requests for lighter duty more appropriate to his medical condition, even after prison officials twice thought his condition sufficiently serious to rush him to an emergency room.
This is the empathy we heard about, is it not?
The Magistrate Judge concluded that Pitre had been “‘hoist by his own petard’”...
And that's not empathy.

Instead of a bike helmet...

... a head airbag.

"Pentagon tells recruiters they can accept openly gay and lesbian recruits, following 'don't ask, don't tell' court ruling."

CNN reports "Breaking News."

ADDED: Here's the article:
The recruiters were told that if a candidate admits he or she is openly gay, and qualify under normal recruiting guidelines, their application can be processed...

The notice also reminded recruiters that they have to "manage expectations" of applicants by informing them that a reversal of the court decision might occur, whereby the "don't ask, don't tell" policy could be reinstated...
So then they'd kick you right back out again. You'll have given them the evidence to do it. I wonder how many people will take advantage of this strange option. It will, I think, make it harder to revoke the policy, so it is perhaps altruistic for a gay person to sign up now and be honest. Obviously, you can also "not tell" and hope for the best.

Althouse is censored by the IRS.

A reader who works at the IRS and has, in the past, read my blog from his computer there — on lunch break, of course — couldn't get through to my blog today. This message came up instead:

The Internal Revenue Service has restricted access to the requested URL.

Reason: The Internal Revenue Service's category "Phishing and Other Frauds" is filtered.

URL: http://althouse.blogspot.com/
By what process and what standard was my blog identified as a "fraud"?

"Few people know it, and he does everything to hide it. But it's true: Homer J. Simpson is Catholic."

Proclaims Osservatore Romano, the official Vatican newspaper, which isn't infallible.

On "Dancing With the Stars," they really try to get Bristol Palin to smile...

... but even with an ape mask over her head part of the time, we see far too much of the poor girl's sad face:

Even when the judges come up with some nice things to say about her dancing, she can't smile. Please, let the girl go home! If you can bear — or ape — to watch the whole clip, you'll hear her, toward the end, say "I hate the jive." She means, presumably, the dance they were doing, "the jive." But wouldn't it be awesome if she were awake enough to mean all this bullshit I've been put through since as long as I can remember?

"Rich professors doth protest too much."

Says Michael Kinsley. And I might want to read that article, but I'm too annoyed by the use of the verb "dost" with a third-person plural subject. I know it's a Shakespearean reference, but in an effort to go literary, he goes illiterate. He goeth illiterate. See? Doth is does, with a lisp. It's not plural.

ADDED: This post wrongly assumes Kinsley writes his own headlines over at Politico. Some unknown headline writer attempting to be literary, went illiterate.

"Oops" — a 10-minute montage of camera-dropping.

By Chris Beckman. Now I know what to do with my digital camera that has a busted viewfinder display...

oops from Chris Beckman on Vimeo.

... just turn on the video, throw it around, download, edit, and repeat until it won't record anymore.

"Also I don't want to be on television. It's become boring, arse-paralysingly brain crippling."

Says Elton John, explaining why he didn't want the job of "American Idol" judge. He kind of indicates that if he'd gone on he too would have been arse-paralysingly boring.

(Please make an extra effort to write high-quality comments. I can picture some really stupid wisecracks. I'm going to set up a special comments policy for this post: If you say anything predictable, I will delete. Let's see if anything survives.)

"Alas, as the guy who first shined a light on Paul’s NoZe membership and the Aqua Buddha prank in GQ this past summer..."

"... I suppose I’m responsible for supplying the raw material for Conway’s disgusting ad. But the reason I wrote about Paul’s college days was not because I thought they revealed anything interesting or significant about his religious faith, or even his attitudes toward illegal drugs. Rather, I wrote about them because I believe they point to traits that are crucial to understanding Rand Paul: namely, his anti-authority streak and his lack of respect for institutions."

Writes Jason Zengerle.

NoZe was a satirical newspaper at Baylor.
Belonging to the NoZe didn’t mean a Baylor student was irreligious or a bad Christian. It simply meant the student didn’t subscribe to—or, at the very least, was questioning toward—all of the very conservative dictates of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Zengerle's point, which Conway might have exploited, is that Paul isn't an old-fashioned, tradition-respecting Republican.

Rush Limbaugh on Maureen Dowd: "I know every detail because I know the guy" she loved and who was cruel to her.

Rush Limbaugh offers a somewhat sympathetic but teasing and gossipy explanation for why Maureen Dowd isn't fun to read anymore:
What happened is that a guy she really had -- she was in love with -- dumped her and was mean to her.  Didn't just dump her, but did it in a mean, mean way.  And she had everything invested in this guy, and she hasn't been the same since this happened.  If I didn't have the scruples I have, I'd give you every detail because I know every detail because I know the guy.  I have heard the guy explain the story, and I got livid! I was livid when I heard the story being told. The guy told me how much fun it was! I said, "Gee whiz! I'm supposed to be the guy with no heart here! I'm the conservative! I'm supposed to be the guy that has no compassion!" (interruption) Oh, yeah, big time liberal.  Oh, no question, absolutely.  At any rate, it's just a sad thing out there.
He doesn't go on to do a riff about how she was in love with Obama or some comic thing. It ends very quickly. 

"Sorry. I knew Icarus—Icarus was a friend of mine. Eliot Spitzer is no Icarus. Prickarus, maybe."

Snazzy writing, of the Esquire kind. Not sure if it's fair or if it even makes much sense, but one feels stimulated and vaguely smart.

"Oh, jeez, oh, jeez, what a great first call of the day. I'm glad you said it and not me."

Is it okay to say a woman is getting fat if she's made America's fat kids her cause? Maybe not, so better put through the caller who'll say it for you.

And then play that issue with other callers. Stuff like this:
CALLER: Hi, Rush. If I sound shaky, I apologize, I'm nervous. I'm so honored to talk to you.

RUSH: You don't sound shaky and you don't sound nervous at all. You don't sound like you're jiggling in the slightest.

CALLER: Oh, not jiggling like Michelle Obama, but anyway, that's another story.

RUSH: I knew she was going to say that, that's why, see, Pavlov's here, all I had to say was jiggling and I knew that you were gonna mention Michelle Obama. Do you think she's gaining weight, too?

CALLER: Yeah, but I'll tell you exactly where it is, it's right around her rear end and her thighs but, you know, that's exactly where it went, but some women gain weight there. It's okay. It's obvious she has put on a few pounds. The reason I'm calling, though, I'm so excited for November 2nd. I'm so excited, you know, my father-in-law refers to it as flushing out the pipes in a clogged toilet. I think it's great. I'm so excited. But as you've said just a few minutes ago in the blame game and Obama blaming other people and blaming Bush, now the American people, I'm just really afraid that this is going to get him reelected in two years.
Notice how he avoided saying it himself, but he couldn't resist bragging about how he knew he could make the caller say that. 

(Both callers were female, by the way. It helps to get women to go after the women on the sensitive female stuff.)

October 18, 2010

"What Is Your American Dream?"

We were walking up State Street yesterday, when we were very politely accosted by this young man who was trying to get people to write their answer to that question in his little spiral notebook.


Meade accepted the challenge, and that gave me the opportunity to ask if I could take the man's photograph. I said I was especially interested in the subject of men in skirts, and he agreed to be photographed and introduced me to the term Utilikilt. There was some talk about its usefulness to, for example, a carpenter.


I observed that it would be a useful defense against plumber's crack (since the back isn't attached to the front beneath the legs, so there's no downward pull when you crouch), and he made the less subtle point that it wasn't good if you had to use a ladder.

Having finished writing in the notebook, Meade asked him how other people had answered the question, and the man — his name is Aaron Heideman — explained his project, which was to travel all over the country — hitchhiking — and find out the different ways people would answer. Some people went for abstractions and some for personal accomplishments or possessions. He gave me his card, his consent to blog his pictures, and his willingness to receive traffic to his blog: americandreamorbust.com.

As we walked away, I asked Meade what he wrote. He said: "To live in freedom."

The eternal student strikes again.

Yes, it's me. In 1981.

Drudge presents: "The Panic O."

Let's analyze today's Drudge juxtaposition of photographs:

The hidden headline "The Panic O" emerged as I framed the screen-grab. It actually says: "The Panic of 2010."

I'm thinking this is just a smattering of Obama pics and means nothing more than Obama is in the news that Matt Drudge found interesting. Aside from the really bizarre eyes in Photo #1, the key thing is a sequence of hand gestures that we might label: 1. goofy little fists, 2. it's about 2 inches long, 3. the big grab, 4. it's huge. I think that sequence was designed to move the eye across the page and to convey the message that Obama is really, really trying to talk us into something.

"I took border security funds... and gave big fat boners."

Come on! Admit it!

"Obama: Voters 'Scared,' Not Thinking Clearly About Election."

A headline, which — I note — is susceptible to repunctuation: Obama Voters Scared, Not Thinking Clearly About Election.


And may I just add that I find the attacks on the Chamber of Commerce incredibly, absurdly out-of-touch with ordinary Americans. Not that I'm an expert on the mind of the ordinary Americans. I've been confined to the remote outpost of Madison, Wisconsin since the 1980s. But I do not believe that demonizing something as dull-sounding as the Chamber of Commerce is going to make any sense to people. The idea that the Chamber of Commerce is ruining America sounds like something a nutty conspiracy theorist would say.

Dumb fight...

... picked.

"In an episode of 'Mythbusters'... President Obama will help determine whether the Greek scientist Archimedes really set fire to an invading Roman fleet using only mirrors and the reflected rays of the sun."

Not only is it odd that Obama is going on this TV show, but the show has already debunked this myth, so they will be redebunking.

They should explore some new myths, like maybe the way some politicians use smoke and mirrors to get voters to think they are capable of amazing miracles.

Why does the government want us to worry about who is doing the speaking?

There's an American tradition of speaking pseudonymously, most prominently exemplified by The Federalist Papers. Why not listen to what is being said and apply your judgment? Have we lost the ability to judge without seeing who's saying it? If our critical thinking is that poor, what's the point of letting us vote?

And listen to how desperate Obama sounds here:
They're fighting back. The empire is striking back. To win this election, they are plowing tens of millions of dollars into front groups. They are running misleading negative ads all across the country.
Why not just argue on the substantive merits of the issues? He's inviting us to think in stark good versus evil style — straight out of fantasy movies. You need to know who is saying something, not what is being said, because you should side with the good guys — his government — not think in any detail about the issues.

I hope you notice that Obama is not talking about the identity of campaign donors. He's talking about independent speakers who don't want to reveal the names of all their donors.

"When this debate ends, you will notice that I will not be shaking his hand tonight."

Rand Paul:

ADDED: Jonathan Chait, a commentator with no affinity for conservatives, writes:
The ugliest, most illiberal political ad of the year may be this one, from Kentucky Democrat Jack Conway:

... The trouble with Conway's ad is that it comes perilously close to saying that non-belief in Christianity is a disqualification for public office. That's a pretty sickening premise for a Democratic campaign.
Consider that the ad has more to do with the question of whether Rand is weird than whether he's irreligious. But, ironically, Conway has made himself seem creepy for throwing all this crap at the screen.

AND: Conway stammers through an attempted explanation of his ad:

AND: Here's a montage of nastiness:

I realize GOP Senate candidate Ken Buck was nervous on "Meet the Press"...

... but, man, this should go down in the annals of misspeaking:
MR. GREGORY:  [H]ow do you pay for [tax cuts]?

MR. BUCK:  Well, the, the--we pay for it by cutting spending.  We also pay for it by growing government.  When we leave money in the hands of taxpayers, they buy things, they pay taxes, they grow government.  It's not a one for one exchange in the first year, but, but it would be bad, in my view--and, and I--every economist I've talked to has told me that it would be bad in a recession to try to increase taxes....

MR. GREGORY [to the Democrat incumbent, Michael Bennet]:  ... Republican leaders don't agree with what [Buck] just said, which is that you have to pay for tax cuts.  So isn't he--aren't you guys more in line, wouldn't you say?

SEN. BENNET:  Well, I didn't--I actually didn't hear him say that.  I heard him say that you pay for it, and also by growing government you pay for it. I'm not quite sure what that means.  But...

MR. BUCK:  Well, let me explain to you.  Here...

SEN. BENNET:  ...my point is, my point is...

MR. BUCK:  ...you grow government because as people have more money they spend the money and government grows.  When we put people back to work, the government grows, we increase revenue and we decrease unemployment benefits.

SEN. BENNET:  Well I'm definitely not interested in growing government, I can tell you that.

MR. BUCK:  I'm sorry, growing the economy.  I apologize.

MR. GREGORY:  Mm-hmm.

MR. BUCK:  Growing the economy.

MR. GREGORY:  You're talking about growing the economy.

MR. BUCK:  Right.
We have an awful lot of inexperienced public speakers out there these days, about to move into positions of great power....

"Obama’s go-slow 'don't ask, don't tell' plan backfires."

The headline in Politico.
In 1993, President Bill Clinton nearly derailed his presidency with an early move to end the military’s ban on gay service members. Aides scrambled to craft the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy as a compromise to get the politically radioactive issue off the new administration’s back.

President Barack Obama’s aides were intent, above all else, on not repeating that experience when it came to carrying out their campaign promise to open up the military to gays, so they moved cautiously.
Give them credit: They found a new way to screw things up.
The result: Obama now faces his own political crisis over the issue that threatens his support from key Democratic constituencies, undermines his relationship with the Pentagon and puts him in the odd position of defending a practice he has denounced as discriminatory and harmful to national security.

“It’s crazy that all this is happening 2½ weeks before a national election,” said Richard Socarides, an adviser to Clinton on gay issues during the ’93 fiasco. “The timing could not be worse for them, but it was fairly predictable that their strategy of postponing and delaying getting into this stuff was, at some point, going to come back to haunt them.”
So, this technique of going slow resulted in the troublesome matter heating up at exactly the point when they least wanted us to notice. Poetic justice.

The article has a lot of detail on the way the lawsuits progressed in court, including the decision not to appeal the 9th Circuit case (Witt) that would have brought the question of the constitutionality of DADT to the Supreme Court — with Elena Kagan, then Solicitor General, defending the statute.

Meanwhile, there was the Log Cabin Republicans' lawsuit, which was filed in 2004 and proceeded terribly slowly under Judge George Schiavelli (a Bush appointee). Schiavelli resigned in 2008, and the new judge, Virginia Phillips, a Clinton appointee, got things going, and she hit Obama with her decision that DADT is unconstitutional on September 9th of this year. Ironically, her decision was based on the heightened scrutiny standard announced in the Witt case that the Obama administration chose not to appeal. Funny, the way a President can't control the courts.
Phillips said it was hard to accept the Justice Department’s arguments that the law was constitutionally sound when Obama was telling audiences that “reversing this policy ... is essential for national security.”

“Obama’s made a lot of statements that we’ve been using as evidence against the government,” said Log Cabin attorney Dan Woods. “They’re in a very awkward position.”
Tangled in their own web.

"Rescued Miners’ Secrecy Pact Erodes in Spotlight."

Oh, no. I sense that the recent joy will melt into tragedy. What personal details do these men know about each other, and what antipathy will arise as they tell each other's stories and disagree about what really happened?
“We’re poor — look at the place we live... you live off our stories, so why can’t we make money from this opportunity to feed our children?”

Miners have asked for as little as $40 and upward of $25,000 for interviews....

“We paid $500 for the interview,” Ari Hirayama of Asahi Shimbun of Japan, said upon exiting the house. “And it felt like he was withholding details.”
33 men with 69 days together. That's over 50,000 hours of human drama to be remembered and put into words — words that men who've always been poor can now sell. What a strange market! So there is the betrayal of the secrecy pact being broken, and the competition for money, in which the most talkative and imaginative men will win the most and, perhaps, cause the most pain.
[One] interview also touched on the crying fits some men had, the unsanitary conditions they endured, even the rumors that some had sexual relations with others underground...
We will never hear the end of this. 

"Because I go barefoot so much, people think I’m an extremist."

"From my perspective, people who wear shoes all everywhere they go, seven days a week, every year of your life, that’s extreme. . . I’m being an extremist. You’re being an extremist. Let’s find a nice, healthy middle ground."

Professor Daniel Howell, the crusader for barefootedness.

Congressman Perlmutter impetuously, petulantly slaps the hand of his challenger during a debate.

The challenger, Ryan Frazier, is being pretty annoying and keeps waggling his finger in what I would say was Perlmutter's air space. This makes me laugh every time I watch:

Poor Perlmutter! He's behaving in an instinctive and not genuinely violent way. It's actually pretty friendly, and Frazier had to know he was wielding that finger annoyingly. But Perlmutter touched! Do not touch! And Frazier does such a perfect "Don’t hit me man. Come on."

To help you organize your reaction to the incident: Perlmutter's the Democrat, Frazier is the Republican.

CORRECTION: I typo'd "laps" for "slaps." Ha ha. What a picture!

"Nobody in Al Qaeda is living in a cave."

Osama and his comrades "live comfortably" in Pakistan — according to "a senior NATO official."

I was in a fisking mood over the weekend.

I had to go after:

1. Robert Gibbs defending Obama's stance on Don't Ask Don't Tell.

2. Maureen Dowd attempting to portray Sharron Angle as a "mean girl."

3. Bill Maher trashing white men who love women like Sarah Palin.

4. Bill Maher portraying Christine O'Donnell as an irritating screwball.

5. Emily Bazelon tarring Christian fundamentalists with homophobia.

October 17, 2010

Posing with parasols.



On Lake Mendota, today.

"On Wisconsin" — the carillon version.

I was idly videoing the waves on Lake Mendota when the carillon started playing...

Computerized projections on the 600-year-old Astronomical Clock on Old Town Square in Prague

Video mapping incorporates the structure of the tower itself into the images (which evoke the history of the years of the clock's existence). It's nearly 10 minutes long — and worth it.

The 600 Years from the macula on Vimeo.

Let's look closely at what White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said today on "Meet the Press" about Don't Ask Don't Tell.

David Gregory did a halfway decent job with the interview, but he moved on before he really nailed down what Gibbs was really saying. Let's read the transcript:
MR. GREGORY: [I]f the president wants the law to go away, if he wants the ban to go away, why is he still supporting the law in the courts?

MR. GIBBS: Well, let's be clear, the president believes the law is discriminatory, unjust and, quite frankly, you have men and women who are willing to lay down their life for this country. They--those people ought to be able to serve. 
Gibbs doesn't say whether Obama thinks the law is unconstitutional.
The law that was struck down that the president opposes, we, we've got a process. One, the House has passed repeal, and we hope the Senate takes up that repeal quickly. They didn't.
Yes, there's a process for repealing statutes, and there's also a process for challenging statutes in court. If the statute is unconstitutional, the courts should declare it a nullity. If the President think the process is repeal by Congress, then he must think the act is constitutional. Right?
MR. GREGORY: ... Is there faith in the Senate that's misplaced? What does the president do if the Senate doesn't act?

MR. GIBBS: Well, we have a process...
a process...
... in place right now to work with the Pentagon for an orderly and disciplined transition from the law that we have now to an era that "don't ask, don't tell" doesn't exist. And I will say this, David, "don't ask, don't tell" will end under this president. The courts have decided, the legislature has, has--is beginning to decide, and the president is firmly in the place of removing "don't ask, don't tell."

MR. GREGORY: But does he believe it's unconstitutional?
Yes! Gregory asks my question!
MR. GIBBS: You know, David, he thinks it's discriminatory and it's unjust and most of all it harms our national security. It's...
In other words: NO, he does not. Say it!
MR. GREGORY: We know his position, though. But if you keep defending...

MR. GIBBS: ...it's time for the law...

MR. GREGORY: ...it in the courts, how does it end? You can pronounce it dead, but how does it end if you keep backing it in the courts?

MR. GIBBS: Yeah, well, it ends with a vote in Congress. 
What?! So, then you mean the court is wrong and that justifies appealing, right?
It's a law, and the most durable solution is to repeal that law. 
Durable? Rights enforced in courts are not sufficiently durable? Is that your position? Or is it that there is no right at all? Maybe the President is being pragmatic and political about rights, and the point is that when courts find rights that Congress isn't ready for, those rights don't hold up too well and therefore it's better to pretend those rights don't exist at all. Or maybe that's all rights are in the President's eyes — whatever the majority — as manifested by Congress — is willing to respect as it goes along doing everything else it wants to do. Come on, Gibbs! Tell us whether the President thinks there are any rights here!
That's what the president asked the House to do and they did, that's what the president--I think there's enough votes to do it in the Senate. 
Oh, really? What makes you think that?
But, again, we have to get through Republican filibuster.
Which is why you obviously don't have the votes. How do you propose to "get through" the filibuster? Clearly, the judicial case is the easy way to end DADT. Why doesn't the President stop fighting against the rights the court found?
It harms our national security. It's discriminatory, it's time for it to end. 
Then stop fighting for it!
And I will say this, David, again, this president will end "don't ask, don't tell," and I think the courts--you're seeing from the courts that their deciding that "don't ask, don't tell," quite frankly, is--has--it's time for it to end, and that time is coming very soon.
Empty, stammering assertions! Exasperating evasions!

David Gregory never forced Gibbs to say whether the President thinks the act is unconstitutional and never forced him to justify fighting for DADT in court. Unlike his predecessor Tim Russert, Gregory lets the guest filibuster until it's time to move on to the next topic. Gregory is sharp, but he's too nice. Too empathetic. He doesn't push on and on with the questions until the obfuscation is painfully embarrassing.

"Create an ‘aura of insufferable tension’ and ‘if they’re interested, they’ll make the first move.'"

The Keith Richards approach to getting women. Aura of insufferable tension. I love that. What does it even mean? Be Keith Richards, and...

Here's where I defend Christian fundamentalists from the charge that they are homophobic bullies.

In case you didn't watch the whole diavlog, you might want to see this 3-minute segment near the end:

What's with powerful women and thick bumpers of bangs?

Drudge is — I think — implicitly asking with this alignment of photographs:

What drives intelligent women to that hairstyle? Are they thinking something like I don't want those feathery bangs...

... or the classic Louise Brooks straight-across look...

... but I can't have my forehead just out there to be gazed at!

What's wrong with foreheads? Is it that the forehead symbolizes the mind, and a woman can't have you looking straight at that? The intelligence must be filtered. There must be a buffer zone of femininity, so there must be some hair veiling the forehead — the theory seems to be. But why the bumper look that we see in the Drudge trio of Angela Merkel, Condoleezza Rice, and Maureen Dowd?

Maureen Dowd on the Sharron Angle/Harry Reid debate.

I smell a whiff of anti-feminism in this focus on laundry and food:
The senator began the debate with a gentle reminiscence about his mother, who took in wash from the brothels in scruffy Searchlight, Nev.

Angle could have told the poignant story of her German immigrant great-grandmother who died trying to save laundry hanging on the clothesline in a South Dakota prairie fire, which Angle wrote about in her self-published book, “Prairie Fire.” But instead the former teacher and assemblywoman began hurling cafeteria insults. “I live in a middle-class neighborhood in Reno, Nevada,” she said. “Senator Reid lives in the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, D.C.”
I thought "Prairie Fire" was William Ayers's "forgotten communist manifesto." Lefties are poetic"A single spark can start a prairie fire" — but apparently Sharron Angle wrote a book about an actual prairie fire. Literal. Righties are so concrete. Dumb as a block.

But, so... Dowd's point is that Sharron Angle is a high-school "mean girl." Hey, I wonder if she read my October 8th piece answering Slate's question "Who gets to be a feminist?" I wrote:
So what am I supposed to care about here? You don't get any special rights or privileges for being a feminist, so what difference does it make? "Who gets to be a feminist?" Is it some high-school clique with mean girls deciding who gets in? Are there guardians at the entrance? The entrance of what? Nothing hinges on it. One woman says, "I am a feminist" and another says, "No, you're not." This is political polemic of a very dull sort.
I see the liberal women as having the exclusionary "mean girl" attitude, but Dowd is trying to pin that stereotype on Angle. How does Angle's failure —  in a political debate — to rhapsodize about an ancestor exclude anyone? I can see that Reid might wish things had stayed sweet and gentle, but how is a political debate a time for hugs? If women are to be in politics, we need to rise above the socialization toward niceness and not hurting anyone's feelings.

And how is it "hurling cafeteria insults" to question Reid about how he got so rich when he's spent nearly his whole career in politics? It certainly wasn't saying my neighborhood is better than yours — which might be mean-girlish. He lives in the Ritz-Carlton in Washington!

Dowd is hot to flip everything around. If you want to talk about mean girls, she's the mean girl! But look at how she portrays herself:
... I was getting jittery....

As the politicians droned on and my Irish skin turned toasty brown, I worried that Governor Brewer might make a citizen’s arrest and I would have to run for my life across the desert. She has, after all, declared open season on anyone with a suspicious skin tone in her state....

After the debate was over, Angle scurried away and so did I — in a different direction. I was feeling jittery again. If she saw me, she might take away my health insurance and spray-paint my locker.
Dowd is my age — nearly 60. Isn't there something really awful about presenting your emotional life in adolescent terms when you are that old? Especially when you're cozily situated on the op-ed page of the New York Times. Here's Dowd's description of Sharron Angle:
Even sober and smiling beneath her girlish bangs, the 61-year-old Angle had the slightly threatening air of the inebriated lady in a country club bar...
Now, click over to Dowd's column and see how she looks: sober and smiling beneath her girlish side-swept bangs, the 58-year-old Dowd has a slightly threatening air. Which is just fine! Don't get me wrong. A columnist should feel threatening. But she's not a timorous girl. Or maybe she is when she gets out in the world, out of her comfort zone. If so, that's not fine. And it's not Sharron Angle's flaw.

"If Brett Favre's penis could talk, what would it say?"... well, Bill Maher made it say something about Sarah Palin.

I laughed and yelled at Bill Maher when I heard this:

I'm sure that, being a political comedian, Maher is perfectly happy that he was capable of generating, alternately, anger and mirth. And good for him for making himself relevant again. I actually love comedy riffs that go to weird stream-of-consciousness places and connect things outrageously, especially when the comedian is hitting the hot buttons of people who don't have an easygoing and big sense of humor. Maher does all that. Of course, he falls way short of the ultimate comedy hero — Lenny Bruce* — because he's not challenging people in his own audience. In fact, he's stroking those people and encouraging a desire they already have: to laugh at someone they want to marginalize.

And by "someone" there, I mean Sarah Palin, not Brett Favre. No one needs much help laughing at Favre at this point. Just tell us what he did and stop and wait for the laughs. Maher's main comedy idea was to connect Favre's sext to Sarah Palin:
To me this story really isn't about sports or sex or how necessary caller ID is. It's about how pathetic and clueless white American males have become because the kind of guy who thinks there are women out there who just cold want to see your cock is the same kind of guy who thinks Sarah Palin is swell and tax cuts pay for themselves....

And if Brett Favre's penis could talk, what would it say? Well, other than no photos please, I think it would say, I'm not a witch. I'm you. Because for hundreds of years, white penises were America. White penises found America. They made the rules and they called the shots, in the workplace, in the home and at the ballot box. But now the unthinkable is happening. White penises are becoming the minority. 2010 was the first year in which more minority babies were born than white babies. This is what conservatives are really upset about. 
And this is what lefties are really upset about: American history is the story of greedy white pricks who need to be cut down.
That the president is black, and the Secretary of State is a woman, and every shortstop is Latino, and every daytime talk show host is a lesbian. And suddenly this country is way off track and needs some serious restoring. 
He's working the old meme about the Tea Party that distracted liberals in 2009. But it's 2010, the election is breathing down your neck, and tarring the Tea Party as angry racists did not work.
If penises could cry, and I believe they can...
That made me laugh, even though he'd lost me with the trite evil white man stuff.
... then white penises are crying all over America. And that's where this crew comes in. The lovely MILFs of the new rank. And their little secret is that their popularity comes exclusively from white men. Look at the polling. Minorities hate them. Women hate them. Only white men like them. 
The only truth I'm hearing ring in that — and I haven't looked at the polling — is that liberals (quite rightly) loathe the strong, attractive women who have emerged on the right. And minorities and women have for many years tended to go for the Democrats. So those minorities and women, polled, will say they oppose Palin. But some minorities and plenty of women lean toward conservatism. If they feel repelled by conservative women like Sarah Palin, wouldn't that be evidence of sexism? By contrast, the white males who love Palin should for being open to women stepping up to political power. If these men only saw the women as sexual beings, they would tear down the political aspirations. They would scoff at and mock them... the way Bill Maher does. I think Maher was aware of that flaw in his comic rant. Here's how he tries to flip it the way he wants to go:
I'm no psychiatrist but I do own a couch. 
This is a concession that he thinks women exist for sexual purposes.
And my theory is that these women represent something those men miss dearly: the traditional idiot housewife.
Maybe you have that theory because that's what you want in a woman. The housewife is a woman who stays home, and conceptualizing women as idiots is something men do when they want to block their aspirations outside of the home. This is what Maher is trying to do to Palin and the other conservative women. How can he pin that mindset on the men who support the women's ascension to power? No one wants an idiot to represent them in government.

Yes, we vote for idiots all the time, but it's because we project our hopes onto them and imagine them to be, in fact, brilliant:


*Here's Dustin Hoffman acting out the most striking example of Bruce challenging his own audience. Very offensive language.

The German muticultural ideal — "multikulti" — has "utterly failed," says Chancellor Angela Merkel.

As Germans slip further into the belief that the country is "overrun by foreigners."

How difficult — liberating? — it must feel for Germans to admit that they feel this way. Merkel is attempting to moderate: "We should not be a country either which gives the impression to the outside world that those who don't speak German immediately or who were not raised speaking German are not welcome here."

Impression. But what is the truth?

"Japan used to be so flashy and upbeat, but now everyone must live in a dark and subdued way."

Japan in decline.