January 15, 2011

At the Frozen Lake Café...

P1050970

... maybe you can catch something.

"That makes it 48-21, and thrills the several thousand fans who are hanging around for the end..."

"... almost all of them Packers fans."

ADDED: I thought it was very eliminationist of the Packers to win that way. Where was the new civility?

Arrested at a town hall meeting led by ABC News Anchor Christiane Amanpour: Eric Fuller, the survivor of the Tucson massacre who said "It looks like Palin, Beck, Sharron Angle and the rest got their first target."

We talked about him here, yesterday. Now, KGUN9 reports:
The theme of the event was "An American Conversation Continued"... When Tucson Tea Party founder Trent Humphries rose to suggest that any conversation about gun control should be put off until after the funerals for all the victims, witnesses say Fuller became agitated. Two told KGUN9 News that finally, Fuller took a picture of Humphries, and said, "You're dead."...

The event wrapped up a short time later. Deputies then escorted Fuller from the room. As he was being led off, Fuller shouted loudly to the room at large. Several witnesses said that what they thought they heard him shout was, "You're all whores!"

Fuller, age 63, is a political operative who specializes in gathering petitions for ballot initiatives. Before the program began, he passed out business cards to people sitting around him that read:

"Signatures
"Expediting Initiatives since 2006
"J. Eric Fuller
"Political Circulator."
Fuller has been charged with one count of threats and intimidation.

"If you’re going to be a diva, then own it."

Says David Lat:
Was this lesson was lost on Yale law professor Amy Chua, the author of an incendiary essay in last weekend’s Wall Street Journal, Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior, and a new book about Eastern versus Western parenting styles, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother?...

After her controversial essay about the superiority of Chinese mothers and hard-ass Asian parenting set the blogosphere on fire — and sent her book rocketing to #5 on the Amazon bestseller list — Chua backtracked a bit, instead of defiantly standing her ground....
Lat read the book and says the WSJ piecce is "a collection of the book’s most inflammatory, anti-Western-parenting portions, collected from far-flung chapters" that "lacks the nuance and the narrative arc of Chua’s full memoir." Nevertheless, the WSJ piece got the book immense attention (including the attention she's as she remakes her image), so how can she complain?

What troubles me about the book is the idea that other parents, with less good sense and less naturally talented children, will extract advice that will lead to child abuse... or something close to it. Children need to play to develop their minds. They need to find intrinsic delight in their experiences. What good is hyper-achievement for its own sake?

"Before We are Democrats or Republicans, We are Americans," said Obama in his weekly address this morning.

And what's the first thing you notice — the difference between today and the speech he gave at the memorial? Right. Different color hair. Gray for the memorial, signifying the wise elder, the father figure. Back to dark hair to signify the vigorous young man, ready to forge ahead, solving problems, and restoring his party's electoral fortunes.

Restoring his party's electoral fortunes?!! Are you aghast that I would say such a thing when the literal message is "Before We are Democrats or Republicans, We are Americans"? But it's clear to me that the GOP is on the political upswing, and it's in the Democratic Party's interest to proclaim a period of low-key nonpartisanship and take away its opponents' momentum.

"The Voodoo Pork is on me if you find yourself in Winston."

So said Lincolnf over there in the Sweet Potato Café, and I'm saying "We will have Voodoo Pork within the year!" But wait a minute...

"I had her heart in my hand... We filled it with blood."

"It still didn’t want to beat. So, it was over. We’re finished.”

At the Sweet Potato Biscuit Café...

P1050954

... what have you been cooking up in biscuit form lately?

"BHTV has had 100 DV (or it seems that way) on Palin and only one BHTV head has ever mounted a real defense of her."

"Althouse did it once. And only because no one else was available. I realize BHTV is a left-wing site, but damn - it gets boring."

An apt comment over at Bloggingheads.

ADDED: "DV" means "diavlog" — that is, a video'd conversation between 2 persons. BHTV supposedly pairs people from different or opposite sides, and there really is a vision of producing something like the "civility" we've been hearing so much about lately. But it seems like I'm go-to Palin defender over there. The commenter is wrong that I only did it once. I've done it many times, and I am not a big Palin supporter. I'm more of a big critic of Palin-hating, and there's been a lot of Palin-hating out there to criticize:

September 5, 2008: I defend Palin in a diavlog with Jane Hamsher.

October 14, 2008: In a diavlog with Ana Marie Cox, I argue that Palin is good for the country — even as I say I'm going to vote against her:



November 5, 2008: In a diavlog with Glenn Reynolds, we both defend Palin.

July 5, 2009: I push back when Michelle Goldberg goes all out against Palin.

November 19, 2009: I'm re-paired with Goldberg and consequently better prepared to push back when she attacks Palin. Famous fireworks in this one, when Goldberg doesn't like it when I — as they say — punch back twice as hard.

November 20, 2010: I'm the one BHTV chose to go up against the author of "Palinisms" (a book mocking Palin).

Another reimagining of the Gadsden flag snake.



Another entry in the "For civility's sake, let's change 'Don't Tread on Me'" challenge. This one, from Mateo, reworks the snake into the 2 snakes of the caduceus and changes the phrase into the physician's precept.

Here's a discussion point for the comments: Is "First, do no harm" a good conservative principle, making this flag something other than mockery of the liberal's call to civility? Or does the presentation of government as medicine work as a critique of liberalism?

"Three years into his first term as president, though, I was feeling the first shivers of concern that something beyond mellowing was affecting my father..."

Ron Reagan speculates and expectorates a juicy lump. Please notice him. Please. He has a book.

IBM's computer "Watson" beats Ken Jennings on "Jeopardy."

Interesting. I think the really unfair part of the matchup was at the buzzer-skill level.

January 14, 2011

I almost forgot! It's my bloggiversary!

I'm surprised that slipped my mind. Maybe because I turned 60 on the 12th. And I don't mean I'm getting old and therefore forgetful. I just got distracted by the big 0 birthday. Anyway, I'm getting in under the wire here in the Central Time Zone.

The blog is 7 years old today.

AND: I should note, once again, that I have posted every single day — including weekends, holidays, etc. — in each of the 7 years.

"In 1970, when I was 22 years old — the same age as Jared Loughner — I was a founder of the Weather Underground, an offshoot of the antiwar group Students for a Democratic Society."

Writes Mark Rudd in the Washington Post:
My willingness to endorse and engage in violence had something to do with an exaggerated sense of my own importance. I wanted to prove myself as a man - a motive exploited by all armies and terrorist groups. I wanted to be a true revolutionary like my guerrilla hero, Ernesto "Che" Guevara. I wanted the chant we used at demonstrations defending the Black Panthers to be more than just words: "The revolution has come/Time to pick up the gun!"

As the Weather Underground believed in the absolute necessity of bombs to address actual moral grievances such as the Vietnam War and racism, Loughner might have believed in the absolute necessity of a Glock to answer his imagined moral grievances....

Now, let's dance!



Chip Ahoy gives us another entry in the "For civility's sake, let's change 'Don't Tread on Me'" challenge.

All we are saying...

is...

Give Snakes A Chance

Another entry in the "For civility's sake, let's change 'Don't Tread on Me'" challenge. This one is from WestVirginiaRebel.

"Why you should never, ever use two spaces after a period."

I'm so relieved to have this in writing!
Most ordinary people would know the one-space rule, too, if it weren't for a quirk of history. In the middle of the last century, a now-outmoded technology—the manual typewriter—invaded the American workplace. To accommodate that machine's shortcomings, everyone began to type wrong. And even though we no longer use typewriters, we all still type like we do.

"This is my genocide school."

A Jared Loughner video.
If the student is unable to locate the external universe, the student is unable to locate the internal universe....
Insane? Or manufacturing evidence of insanity?

MORE: From WaPo:
Far from the undisciplined, semi-delusional dropout described by friends, Jared Loughner appeared to be a young man with laser focus when it came to planning and carrying out a shooting spree outside a strip-mall Safeway last week, local law enforcement authorities alleged Friday....

"Back in the 1960s, who'd have imagined that a septuagenarian white sheriff from Arizona with a hostility to free speech would one day become a hero to the left?"

Let's talk about Clarence Dupnik.
Dupnik made multiple statements drawing connections between conservative "rhetoric" and Saturday's crime.... At a time when most politicians were behaving responsibly, why was Sheriff Dupnik speaking with a reckless disregard for the truth...?...

The Arizona Republic reported Wednesday that Dupnik's department was "refusing to release a wide range of public documents about the man charged in Saturday's shooting rampage that left six dead and more than a dozen wounded." Later that day, the Republic reported, the department relented and released "12 sets of incident reports" about police calls to the Loughner home or Jared Loughner's high school....

It's quite possible that Dupnik simply enjoys shooting off his mouth. 
More likely he enjoys covering his ass. Shame on all the journalists who scurried forward with their big old newsrags to help him cover said ass.'

IN THE COMMENTS: Irene (who knows such things) says:
A juvenile point: the surname "Dupnik" derives from "Dupa," a word used in Slavic- and Baltic-speaking languages. The word "dupa" means "ass."

"Dupnik" can translate as "assman." There is a bawdy dance — usually done at vodka-infused weddings — called the "dupnik," during which the partiers "fist bump" their cheeks.

Jared Loughner shot 35 mm film of himself "posing with a Glock 9mm pistol next to his naked buttocks and dressed in a bright red g-string."

He dropped the film off at Walgreens the day before the massacre.

Perhaps the most surprising part of that is the use of film. Don't most people use digital cameras now, and doesn't anyone taking naked/embarrassing pictures of himself go digital? It must be that Loughner wanted to involve real people in the process of discovering these photographs of the killer clowning with the gun at the very time he was using the gun on a murder spree. It was another way to inflict pain, and he went to some trouble to do it.

Isn't this evidence useful to the prosecution? It shows elaborate planning, I think, including perhaps a plan to appear crazy. Why go to the trouble and expense of using film? Did he not try to time the development of the photographs with the massacre? Or do you think posing with the gun like that makes him seem more crazy and is useful to the defense?

When those tone-down-the-rhetoric guys use the term "eliminationism"...



ADDED: From the comments over there:
You're eliminationist for trying to eliminate me. No, you're eliminationist for calling me an eliminationist when I'm not really trying to eliminate anyone. No, eliminationists claim they're not trying to eliminate anybody but that's the insidious nature of eliminationist denial. Calling you eliminationist when you are in fact eliminationist is not eliminational. Is too. Is not. Stoo. Snot.

"Reince Priebus elected GOP chairman, replaces Michael Steele."

"Priebus won late Friday afternoon after seven rounds of balloting. He received 97 votes out 168 ballots cast."

The Wisconsin guy with the strange name made it.

ADDED: I guess ridicule on "The Daily Show" isn't so bad after all. January 4th:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Top of the GOPs
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire Blog</a>The Daily Show on Facebook

For civility's sake, let's change "Don't Tread on Me"... Part 3.

Awesome Printer takes up my challenge to make the snake friendlier and adopts my rewrite of "Don't Tread on Me":



And Henry (the commenter) comes up with these variations:



"How many other demented people are out there? It looks like Palin, Beck, Sharron Angle and the rest got their first target."

"Their wish for Second Amendment activism has been fulfilled—senseless hatred leading to murder, lunatic fringe anarchism, subscribed to by John Boehner, mainstream rebels with vengeance for all, even nine-year-old girls."

One of the survivors of the Tucson massacre, Eric Fuller, says
that is what he wrote down after staying up "most of the night" in the hospital, trying to calm himself down and organize his thoughts, and writing out (from memory) the text of the Declaration of Independence.

ADDED: Patterico notes:
But you never hear them ask the obvious follow up question: do you still feel this way?  And if you look at the rest of the report, created today, it is obvious that these people are completely dishonest.  They have deliberately skewed every other piece of evidence to indict the right wing, leaving out every piece of evidence that might exonerate their targets.  Why should we think they presented this man’s entire statement?

For civility's sake, let's change "Don't Tread on Me"... Part 2.

Chip Ahoy responds to my request for a redesigned Gadsden flag:







The effort to drag down Sarah Palin for using the term "blood libel" has backfired.

The criticism had to do with wanting to restrict the term to its specific original context, a longstanding vicious lie about the Jewish people. The result of the criticism is that now when someone searches the term "blood libel," they see Sarah Palin, Sarah Palin, Sarah Palin. If the intent of the criticism was to preserve the purity of the reference, it's had the opposite effect. (If the intent of the criticism was to take advantage of a perceived opportunity to take another shot at Sarah Palin, the hypocrisy is too nauseating to describe.)

Meanwhile, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach says "Sarah Palin Is Right About 'Blood Libel.'"

For civility's sake, let's change "Don't Tread on Me" to "Please, Don't Tread on Me."



Or, "Please, when you tread on me, walk gently, but don't worry I won't bite. I'm quite a gentle fellow really. I just have some modest reforms I would like to propose."

Oh, but the snake still looks so awfully angry, with his mouth open, his tongue out, and his tail curved slightly up. Please, help redraw the flag with a friendlier snake — a good citizen snake — and a kindlier message.

"Tread on me, I'll be your friend, we all need somebody to tread on."

"Right now, each side in that debate passionately believes that the other side is wrong."

"And it’s all right for them to say that. What’s not acceptable is the kind of violence and eliminationist rhetoric encouraging violence that has become all too common these past two years."

Writes Paul Krugman, manufacturing a phony problem.
It’s not enough to appeal to the better angels of our nature. We need to have leaders of both parties — or Mr. Obama alone if necessary — declare that both violence and any language hinting at the acceptability of violence are out of bounds. We all want reconciliation, but the road to that goal begins with an agreement that our differences will be settled by the rule of law.
If Krugman had a sharper, fairer eye for what is really needed, he would have walked back his last column — the one where he attributed the Tucson massacre to "toxic rhetoric" on the right.
As Clarence Dupnik, the sheriff responsible for dealing with the Arizona shootings, put it, it’s “the vitriolic rhetoric that we hear day in and day out from people in the radio business and some people in the TV business.” The vast majority of those who listen to that toxic rhetoric stop short of actual violence, but some, inevitably, cross that line....

So will the Arizona massacre make our discourse less toxic? It’s really up to G.O.P. leaders. Will they accept the reality of what’s happening to America, and take a stand against eliminationist rhetoric? Or will they try to dismiss the massacre as the mere act of a deranged individual, and go on as before?
Advocating violence is terrible, but it is also terrible to try to delegitimize vibrant criticism of the government, to have a biased view of where the least valuable speech is coming from, and to connect speech to violence when there is no connection. The truth is we should dismiss the massacre as the mere act of a deranged individual and go on as before. Why should we change because a madman shot people?

Ironically, saying that a massacre can change the course of American politics encourages massacres! Why would you put such a thought into the heads of madmen? Hell, sane men might put the pieces together and plan a massacre to disrupt the work of the politicians who won the last elections. We need to turn away from the bloody slaughter and go on as before.

January 13, 2011

At the Cold Hands Café...

P1050914 - Version 2

... we're taking the gloves off.

"Civility' is the new word for 'censorship.'"/"'Civility' is the new word for 'shut the heck up.'"

If government officials use their speech to try to persuade us not to criticize what they are doing, is that censorship? No. It's not. There's no coercion. If you shut up, it's because they persuaded you. (And maybe you shouldn't be so gullible.)

The 2 quotes in my post title are from today's Rush Limbaugh show. The first quote was a caller who was freaked out by last night's memorial in Tucson. The second is the way Rush reframed it. Rush is right, but the caller was not.

People tell each other to shut up all the time. You have to learn not to accept the pushback. Censorship is when the government coerces you. I'm not hearing a proposal for censorship. Ironically, it would be the least persuasive way to try to get us to shut up. We'd yell and scream. And we'd sue. And win.

Michelle Obama's lesson from the Tucson massacre: Teach your children "the value of tolerance – the practice of assuming the best, rather than the worst, about those around us."

"We can teach them to give others the benefit of the doubt, particularly those with whom they disagree."

Shouldn't we learn to be perceptive, analytical, and aware that some of the individuals among us are, in fact, mentally sick and need something other than tolerance and wishful thinking about how good they might be? So why is the First Lady telling us to teach kids the opposite?
We can also teach our children about the tremendous sacrifices made by the men and women who serve our country and by their families. We can explain to them that although we might not always agree with those who represent us, anyone who enters public life does so because they love their country and want to serve it.
But that's quite obviously untrue! Some people seek power for the wrong reasons or go astray after they've reached power. We need to observe the government with a clear, active, and critical eye. I can certainly understand how someone who holds power would love to turn off the criticism, but that is not the system we have, and it's self-serving for government officials to tell us to inculcate these false beliefs in children.

It would make more sense to teach creationism instead of evolution than to teach these wishful lies about government since children need to learn how to be effective citizens and lulling them into passive admiration of the government undermines the democratic process. Believing or not believing in creationism, by contrast, isn't going to change what happened in the grand expanse of evolutionary time.

Can the police break down your door and burst in on you if they smell marijuana burning?

They don't have a warrant, but no warrant is needed under "exigent circumstances," such as when there is evidence of destruction of evidence. In the case argued in the Supreme Court today, after the police knocked and announced themselves, they heard a toilet flushing. Is that enough?
Kennedy uses this opportunity to ask why the smoking of marijuana itself doesn't constitute the destruction of evidence.

News alert from the NYT: When you cheat on your spouse, the spouse especially hates it when you do it in "the marital bed."

Well, all right then. So much for the old "I was trying to save money." Hotels are expensive! You'd think she'd appreciate your economizing, but apparently not. Experts say! I mean, a few divorce lawyers anecdotalize.

Barehanded snowball fighting, Althouse-style....

P1050914

... in a scarf beautifully knitted by Irene. Wait a minute...

P1050924

... in a hat spiffily hand-knitted by Martha.



Gotcha!

(Seriously, thanks, Irene and Martha, for the cool handmade birthday stuff.)

"For the people who believe that readjusting the Snuggie when you move from the Barcolounger to the mobility scooter is too much work..."

"... comes the Forever Lazy, described as : 'the one piece, lie around, lounge around, full body lazy wear!'"... observes Manolo, adding:
Many thanks to the Manolo’s internet friend Anne for altering him to this.
That's not a reference to me. Anne with an e would be a misspelling, referring to me. But he does have have a typo there. He's thanking Anne "for altering him." I'm sure he means "alerting," but it's a nice Freudian slip, since those giant fleece onesies will destroy your manhood.

The male daycare center worker who is not allowed to change diapers and "has been asked to leave the classroom when diapering was happening."

From an article about how it's bad to be too suspicious about the possibility that a man is a pedophile. 

But excluding the man from the task of diapering... Seems to me the female employees are getting the worse end — excuse the expression — of this particular discrimination.

Anyway, read the whole article. It's called "Eek! A Male!" I got interrupted in the middle of writing about it by a prompting to look at the thing everyone on the internet is supposed to look at right now that could be called "Eek! A Rat!"

"Do you want to reload this page?"

Aha! It's the computers that are fomenting violence in America! We always suspected the machines would find a way to destroy us, and suddenly I see their insidious mechanism. Don't retreat... reload!... this page.
We ... have shut ourselves in: machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical, our cleverness hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little: More than machinery we need humanity; More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost.

The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men...

Don't give yourselves to these unnatural men, machine men, with machine minds and machine hearts. You are not machines. You are not cattle. You are men. You have the love of humanity in your hearts. You don't hate - only the unloved hate. Only the unloved and the unnatural...

You the people have the power, the power to create machines, the power to create happiness. You the people have the power to make life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure. Then in the name of democracy let's use that power....
Do you know the source of that warning about the machines? It's this.

ADDED: Here's a plot summary of the movie I'm quoting from. The character you see there does not represent Hitler. I'm only now realizing that I shouldn't assume everyone knows the movie.

What Obama said — after the Tucson massacre — about "human understanding" and the "old assumptions" we ought to challenge.

Following the advice in the Shaker hymn that followed the President's speech last night, I kept it simple. I highlighted the passage in the speech about how we should take "a good dose of humility" and not "use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on one another." But I'm not a Shaker, and I'm a little wary when the most powerful man in the world advises the masses to be humble and come together as one. So I want to look at what he said just before that:
Scripture tells us that there is evil in the world, and that terrible things happen for reasons that defy human understanding. In the words of Job, "when I looked for light, then came darkness." Bad things happen, and we must guard against simple explanations in the aftermath.
But "there is evil in the world" is a simple explanation!
For the truth is that none of us can know exactly what triggered this vicious attack. 
How about: Jared Loughner is a lunatic? Okay, Obama said "exactly." Yes, I agree with his very minor point that we cannot know the precise content and etiology of Loughner's madness. But as we try to understand the political landscape of the real world where non-insane people live, those details don't matter. We have a simple explanation and it's a damned good one. Yet the President tells me I ought to "guard against" thinking in such simple terms. Why? Sometimes it is simple! Jared Loughner is a lone crazy guy. There is evil in the world and it burst forth last Saturday. It's not like labeling al Qaeda "evil" and moving on, because Loughner wasn't part of a web of activity. I think what we need to "guard against" is using Loughner as an example of some larger problem that we need to solve.

Obama continued:
None of us can know with any certainty what might have stopped those shots from being fired, or what thoughts lurked in the inner recesses of a violent man's mind.
True. We can't know with certainty what his mental processes were, but we are justified in taking it as our working theory that the man was crazy in a way that doesn't relate to the real-world political issues that are worth putting our energy into trying to figure out — other than the real-world issue of identifying and restraining dangerously psychotic persons.
So yes, we must examine all the facts behind this tragedy. We cannot and will not be passive in the face of such violence. We should be willing to challenge old assumptions in order to lessen the prospects of violence in the future.
That's what Obama said just before the passage I highlighted in last night. He goes on to push back those who've used the massacre as an occasion to make partisan political arguments — something he's strongly correct about. All right, then. What are we supposed to examine? We should be willing to challenge old assumptions in order to lessen the prospects of violence in the future. Does he mean old assumptions about the deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill? Does he mean gun control? Does he mean limits on free speech? Now, there are some details we need to hear about and debate. If freedom of speech is the "old assumption" we should be "willing to challenge," I'm going to fight.

January 12, 2011

The last of the Nelsons, David Nelson...

... has died.

Obama in Tucson: "What we can’t do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on one another."

"As we discuss these issues, let each of us do so with a good dose of humility. Rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame, let us use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy, and remind ourselves of all the ways our hopes and dreams are bound together."

This theme of humility was reinforced with the musical selection that followed: The choir sang the old Shaker hymn "Simple Gifts"...
'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free,
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gain'd,
To bow and to bend we shan't be asham'd....

Now We Are 60.



P1050897

"He did not watch TV. He disliked the news. He didn’t listen to political radio. He didn’t take sides. He wasn’t on the left. He wasn’t on the right."

Said one of Jared Loughner's friends.

For those of you who still want to argue, straining against the evidence, that the terrible political rhetoric pushed Loughner over the line, let me help you. I've studied law for 30 years, and I know how to extract an argument using what little is available.

Ready?

Here goes...

The overheated rhetoric in America was so repugnant that Jared Loughner couldn't bear to engage with it. Alienated and left to his own thoughts, he became mentally disordered, leading to the massacre. If only the political debate had been more gentle and inviting, he might have watched television and listened to the radio, and then his mind would have contained more conventional ideas, precluding the insane, murderous thoughts.

AND: I was just talking with Meade about my (deliberately strained) theory, and he said that a young guy like Loughner would not have been drawn in by more politely stated political commentary. A marginal individual — especially a person with a propensity toward violence — would probably be susceptible to more aggressive, more vivid commentary. What did Loughner consume instead of  politics? Wasn't it violent video games and movies? By contrast, the news — even the commentary pundits decry as vicious — would seem bland and insipid.

We've read that Loughner had a grudge against Gabrielle Giffords because she wouldn't answer the question "What is government if words have no meaning?" He seems to have decided she was stupid and fake. If that was his tendency, toned-down rhetoric wouldn't have been what would reincorporate him into the political community where he might be influenced by others and come to believe more normal things. He seems to have wanted to talk philosophically about what's really true, beneath the surface of things, beyond the platitudes.

Now, I think he was psychotic, in which case, none of this explanation applies, but let's assume you want to work with the idea that he was a marginal citizen who might have been normalized if the community socialized him more appropriately with debate and dialogue. What could have reached him? Probably not some namby-pamby paragon of niceness.

If you really believed political rhetoric caused Jared Loughner's killing spree, you wouldn't dare to say it.

Some people displayed a crazed hunger for a vicious murderer who was inspired by the criticism of the government that has been so powerful over the last 2 years. Jared Loughner was not that guy, and, of course, they looked ridiculous and despicable jumping to say that he was.

Now, what if it were really true that incendiary political rhetoric pushed mentally unstable individuals over the edge and caused them to act out murderously? Picture such a mentally unstable person reading and listening to the rhetoric that spewed out over Jared Loughner.

I'm imagining a young man who takes it to heart that the Tea Party and the right wingers are ruining America and thwarting our fine President and the Democrats in Congress who set out to bring us hope and change.

He might think: Oh, if only Jared Loughner really had turned out to be the Tea-Party-inspired wingnut the liberals and lefties originally thought he was! How effective that would have been in squelching the right!

This mentally unstable young man decides that he could be what the left hoped Jared Loughner was. "Loughner2" tweaks his Facebook page with the titles of conservative books and joins various right-wing groups on-line. He sets about making Tea-Party-style pronouncements in the comments sections of various left- and right-wing blogs, stressing the right-wing rhetoric he's heard and restating it with a sharper edge of violence. He stocks his house with books written by the right-wingers most demonized by the left. He hangs a big Gadsden Flag on his living room wall.

Then, believing he is sacrificing himself for the greater good of the liberal cause, Loughner2 goes on his shooting spree. The pundits who revealed their raging hunger for a right-wing murderer will finally have the rich feast they deserve, he tells himself. Loughner2, like Loughner1, grins ghoulishly in his mug shot. He steels himself the hatred of the world and the secret pleasure of reading, from his prison/asylum cell, about the left-wing paradise he has made possible.

Do you think that's an absurd fantasy? Then you don't really believe that inflammatory rhetoric inspires unstable individuals to act. If you're one of those who's been saying it does, then admit that you've been lying. Or take responsibility for the effect your words are now having in the minds of the deranged.

Sarah Palin on the Tucson massacre.


Sarah Palin: "America's Enduring Strength" from Sarah Palin on Vimeo.

Text. Excerpt:
There are those who claim political rhetoric is to blame for the despicable act of this deranged, apparently apolitical criminal. And they claim political debate has somehow gotten more heated just recently. But when was it less heated? Back in those “calm days” when political figures literally settled their differences with dueling pistols? In an ideal world all discourse would be civil and all disagreements cordial. But our Founding Fathers knew they weren’t designing a system for perfect men and women. If men and women were angels, there would be no need for government. 
This is a reference to Federalist #51 ("If men were angels, no government would be necessary.").
Our Founders’ genius was to design a system that helped settle the inevitable conflicts caused by our imperfect passions in civil ways. So, we must condemn violence if our Republic is to endure....
Just days before she was shot, Congresswoman Giffords read the First Amendment on the floor of the House. It was a beautiful moment and more than simply “symbolic,” as some claim, to have the Constitution read by our Congress. I am confident she knew that reading our sacred charter of liberty was more than just “symbolic.” But less than a week after Congresswoman Giffords reaffirmed our protected freedoms, another member of Congress announced that he would propose a law that would criminalize speech he found offensive.
Ah! The irony!
America must be stronger than the evil we saw displayed last week. We are better than the mindless finger-pointing we endured in the wake of the tragedy.
We are.

It's my birthday. I'm 60!

Don't worry, young people. The view looks great from here.

January 11, 2011

"I’ve never been to Vermont. How can I sing a song about a place I’ve never been to?"

"What is the significance of pennies in a stream? What are ski tows?”

Margaret Whiting — who sang "Moonlight in Vermont" — has died at the age of 86.
In her later years, Ms. Whiting was known to many as the unlikely wife of Jack Wrangler (originally John Stillman), a star of gay pornographic films in the 1970s who went on to become a cabaret and theater producer.

Ms. Whiting and Mr. Wrangler, 22 years her junior, met in the 1970s, lived together for many years and married in 1994. She wrote about their relationship in an autobiography, “It Might as Well Be Spring,” saying it was based on similar interests and mutual respect, not sex. When they first became involved, he told her, “I’m gay,” to which she replied, “Only around the edges, dear.”
The answer to the question how to sing about Vermont was: Use your imagination.

Tomorrow is my birthday.

I will be 60.

Any ideas?

"He was a nihilist and loves causing chaos, and that is probably why he did the shooting, along with the fact he was sick in the head."

"I go to a psychiatrist, and he should have been seeing one back in high school... He had the most incredible thoughts, but he could not handle them."

Said a former friend of Jared Loughner's.

"It's the nature of the house churches that worries Iran. It's all about possible converts."

"It's a very specific and pinpoint strike by Iran."

"An armchair official tweeted in to get Camilo DQ’d... What is wrong with people? Have they got nothing better to do?"

Some guy watching the Tournament of Champions on TV got Camilo Villegas disqualified for "flick[ing] away some loose grass Thursday as his ball was rolling down a slope back toward his divot on the 15th hole at Kapalua."
Violating the rule normally incurs a two-shot penalty. But because Villegas had completed his round before his violation was confirmed Friday by the P.G.A., he was disqualified from the Tour’s season-opening event for signing an incorrect scorecard.

Ernie Els suggested the introduction of a deadline beyond which golfers could not be disqualified from a tournament.

“If it’s a rules violation, it should be dealt with,” the South African said. “Should there be a deadline? If you sign your card, it’s done and you can’t do anything about it. If somebody wants to call in, you’ve got to do it before we are done playing.”
Hey, don't violate the rules! I don't agree with Els's idea of a deadline. You're supposed to call the penalty on yourself, not try to get away with it. The disqualification is the incentive needed to protect the honest players.

Bill Clinton: "We cannot be unaware of the fact that, particularly with the internet, there's this huge echo-chamber out there, and anything any of us says falls on the unhinged and the hinged alike, and we just have to be sensitive to it."

On the unhinged and the hinged alike....

I think William Shakespeare said that.
The quality of internet speech is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the unhinged and hinged alike....
ADDED: Violent metaphors are out. Door-frame metaphors are in.

"Disappointment for Katie Holmes over axed Jackie Kennedy series."

1. First, of all: "axed." Should we be saying "axed"? There hasn't be a high-profile ax murder in a while, and now if there is one, The Daily Mail will have to answer for it.

2. Katie Holmes looks a little like Jackie in that get-up, but something's missing — something in the legs and arms proportionality. And that expression! Why is Katie always so sad?!

3. "JFK's niece Maria Shriver, and his daughter, Caroline Kennedy, are reported to have lobbied hard for the History Channel to pull the plug on the series." Katie and Tom less powerful than Maria and Caroline? Noooo!

4. A History Channel spokesperson said: "While the film is produced and acted with the highest quality, after viewing the final product in its totality we have concluded this dramatic interpretation is not fit for the History brand... We recognise historical fiction is an important medium for storytelling and commend all the hard work and passion that has gone into the making of the series, but ultimately deem this as the right programming decision for our network." Find the lies in that statement. Why'd they approve of the production in the first place if that sort of thing isn't "right" for them?

5. Sorry about the "Schwarzenegger" tag. I don't feel like making a separate tag for Maria Shriver.

The Gun-Free Lawmaker Zone Act?

"Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), one of the few pro-gun control Republicans in the House, wants to make it illegal for someone to carry a gun within 1,000 feet of certain high-ranking federal officials, including members of Congress.... Under federal law, it’s illegal to bring a gun within 1,000 feet of a school. King wants to apply that same standard to federal offices, including the president, vice president, members of Congress and federal judges."

Because the murder-free-zone law that protects the rest of us is just not working well enough. The high officials need a double layer of legal protection.

So when you gun-carriers are out and about, you'll to have make sure you know who all the relevant officials are and where they are at all times and stay 1,000 feet away from there. And if, while you're standing back out of the zone, somebody else, some non-respecter of gun-free zones, pulls out a gun and starts shooting, make sure you don't cross the 1,000 foot line when you try to take out the shooter.

Stray anti-Althousiana.



ADDED: Bashed that humungous melon-head into a wall? I feel sorry for the wall!

ADDED:  Ironically, complimenting themselves on their civility, they are uncivil to me!

"Hold It Against Me."

Come on, let's feel good again! There's a new Britney Spears single!

Roger Ailes to Fox News "guys": "I told all of our guys, shut up, tone it down, make your argument intellectually..."

"You don’t have to do it with bombast. I hope the other side does that."

By I hope the other side does that, I think he means he hopes the other side tones it down. But maybe her means he hopes the other side does it with bombast — so that it's the conservatives who are rational and the liberals who are raving.

Wait a minute! What am I saying? Conservatives... liberals... they're all journalists! But Ailes is the one who used the expression "the other side" — which is, I might add, rather militaristic and hence not toned down. Ironically.

***

Let me take one more opportunity to reprint what George Orwell said about dying metaphors:
Dying metaphors. A newly invented metaphor assists thought by evoking a visual image, while on the other hand a metaphor which is technically "dead" (e.g. iron resolution) has in effect reverted to being an ordinary word and can generally be used without loss of vividness. But in between these two classes there is a huge dump of worn-out metaphors which have lost all evocative power and are merely used because they save people the trouble of inventing phrases for themselves. Examples are: Ring the changes on, take up the cudgel for, toe the line, ride roughshod over, stand shoulder to shoulder with, play into the hands of, no axe to grind, grist to the mill, fishing in troubled waters, on the order of the day, Achilles' heel, swan song, hotbed. Many of these are used without knowledge of their meaning (what is a "rift," for instance?), and incompatible metaphors are frequently mixed, a sure sign that the writer is not interested in what he is saying.
Yeah, I know dying metaphors. Dying. Another negative metaphor. A metaphor about a metaphor.

By the way, what is bombast? Bombs must be involved, right?
bombast (n.)
1560s, "cotton padding," corrupted from earlier bombace (1550s), from O.Fr. bombace "cotton, cotton wadding," from L.L. bombacem, acc. of bombax "cotton, 'linteorum aut aliae quaevis quisquiliae,' " a corruption and transferred use of L. bombyx "silk," from Gk. bombyx "silk, silkworm" (which also came to mean "cotton" in Medieval Gk.), from some oriental word, perhaps related to Iranian pambak (modern panba) or Armenian bambok, perhaps ultimately from a PIE root meaning "to twist, wind." From stuffing and padding for clothes or upholstery, meaning extended to "pompous, empty speech" (1580s). Also from the same source are Swed. bomull, Dan. bomuld "cotton," and, via Turkish forms, Mod.Gk. mpampaki, Romanian bumbac, Serbo-Cr. pamuk. Ger. baumwolle "cotton" is probably from the Latin word but altered by folk-etymology to look like "tree wool." Pol. bawelna, Lith. bovelna are partial translations from German.
See? That's exactly what Orwell was talking about! People use the word "bombast" to convey explosiveness, but that is not the original metaphor.

"She was wrapped in her fuzzy blanket, ready to listen to Taylor Swift or play Fruit Ninja on her iPod."

From an op-ed the NYT chose to publish in the wake of the Gabriel Giffords shooting. Please add this to the pile of evidence that the NYT aspires to be the newspaper for soft-hearted, soft-headed women.

IN THE COMMENTS: Mary Beth wins the thread:
I had a discussion with my daughter Amy the other day before I came here to ask her what the most important issue was....
(Link added.)

The Tucson people were good at stopping a shooting spree that might have gone on much longer.

Remember the Virginia Tech shooting, in which the shooter was allowed to reload several times and roam from room to room until he'd shot 32 persons to death and wounded many others?

The culture in Arizona is different:
In my district and in my state, we have a very strong gun culture. I own a gun, members of my family own guns.
Those are the words of Gabrielle Gifford, interviewed in May 2010.

"Come to me. I got shot. I'm with Gabby. I'm okay. I got the guy down."

What Bill Badger said to his wife from the hospital before his phone went dead. That's the quote as reported by the wife. Perhaps he actually said "I'm okay" before "I got shot," which is the order I would prefer to hear news like that.

Here's video of Badger describing the way people restrained Jared Loughner.

January 10, 2011

"Here's a partial list of some of the incidents the left has tried to pin on conservatives."

"The Columbine shooters. The 1995 Oklahoma City bombing... The DC sniper. The New York City Times Square car bomb attempt. They tried to blame that on some Tea Partier angry at the health law, then we find out that was radical Islamists. The February 2010 IRS plane attack in San Antonio. Remember that? It had to be an anti-government clown that flew that plane into the IRS office, had to be. The Pentagon subway shooter. The Fort Hood attack. The Discovery Channel hostage taker. And this guy [John Patrick] Bedell who went into the Pentagon and wanted to shoot these people up. This guy, by the way, is a dead ringer for Loughner. Amy Bishop who shot her colleagues at that Alabama college."

#NoMeta4s.

Twitter takes up arms in the War on Metaphors.

The Story of O.

There's this one and this one.

Both written by authors who hid their identity... as to the second one:
Washington is awash with rumours over the identity of the anonymous author of a new novel written by an Obama insider.
Oh, blah. Does anyone really care? As to the first one, people cared intensely!

Howard Stern excoriates Kathy Lee Gifford for tormenting an autistic boy.

Kathy Lee somehow managed to produce the most unbearably tasteless display I've ever seen on television, and Stern lets her have it. Language alert on the second link, but the first link is much more offensive.

[Second link was wrong before. Fixed.]

"We've always said, you and I, that moral concepts of good and evil and right and wrong don't hold for the intellectually superior."

The teacher is confronted with the acting out of his philosophy in Alfred Hitchcock's "Rope":

There's a war on metaphors.

And I am taking my stand as a dead-end resister!

"What is government if words have no meaning?" — the question Jared Loughner asked Gabrielle Giffords at a "Congress in Your Corner" event in 2007.

Mother Jones reports what he said to his friend Bryce Tierney: "Can you believe it, they wouldn't answer my question." Tierney says, "Ever since that, he thought she was fake, he had something against her." (By the way, 2007 is a year before Sarah Palin emerged on the national scene.)
Loughner would occasionally mention Giffords, according to Tierney: "It wasn't a day-in, day-out thing, but maybe once in a while, if Giffords did something that was ridiculous or passed some stupid law or did something stupid, he related that to people. But the thing I remember most is just that question. I don't remember him stalking her or anything." Tierney notes that Loughner did not display any specific political or ideological bent: "It wasn't like he was in a certain party or went to rallies... It's not like he'd go on political rants." But Loughner did, according to Tierney, believe that government is "fucking us over." He never heard Loughner vent about about the perils of "currency," as Loughner did on one YouTube video he created....
As Loughner and Tierney grew closer, Tierney got used to spending the first ten minutes or so of every day together arguing with Loughner's "nihilist" view of the world. "By the time he was 19 or 20, he was really fascinated with semantics and how the world is really nothing—illusion," Tierney says. Once, Tierney recalls, Loughner told him, "I'm pretty sure I've come to the conclusion that words mean nothing."...

Tierney believes that Loughner was very interested in pushing people's buttons—and that may have been why he listed Hitler's Mein Kampf as one of his favorite books on his YouTube page. (Loughner's mom is Jewish, according to Tierney.)...

Loughner believed that dreams could be a sort of alternative, Matrix-style reality, and "that when you realize you're dreaming, you can do anything, you can create anything," Tierney says....
There's a dream journal, which I'm sure we'll get to read.
... Loughner seemed ticked off by what he believed to be a pervasive authoritarianism. "The government is implying mind control and brainwash on the people by controlling grammar," he wrote in one YouTube video.....

Since hearing of the rampage, Tierney has been trying to figure out why Loughner did what he allegedly did. "More chaos, maybe," he says. "I think the reason he did it was mainly to just promote chaos. He wanted the media to freak out about this whole thing. He wanted exactly what's happening. He wants all of that." Tierney thinks that Loughner's mindset was like the Joker in the most recent Batman movie: "He fucks things up to fuck shit up, there's no rhyme or reason, he wants to watch the world burn. He probably wanted to take everyone out of their monotonous lives: 'Another Saturday, going to go get groceries'—to take people out of these norms that he thought society had trapped us in."
It sounds as though the movies were more a source of inspiration for his craziness than politics.

"Sarah Palin is not to blame for shooting of Gabrielle Giffords; left-wing rhetoric just as vicious."

Ah, now you see why the accusations backfire (if I may dare to use that word): the occasion has been created for conservatives to list every violent-sounding thing any liberals or lefties have ever said about anything.

Knock yourselves out.

If I may use the expression.

AND: Michelle Malkin is rising to the occasion, compiling the list.  I'll just contribute this poster I photographed in the window of a shop here in 2004:

"My son, being a golden boy, who is so good, he didn't do this."

"My son was not Carlos Castro's lover... From the beginning, he never hid his sexuality, which is heterosexual."

A mother's reaction to news about her son (involving murder and mutilation (with a corkscrew)).

Jared Lee Lougher's "frightening, twisted shrine."

Reported by the Daily News:
Hidden within a camouflage tent behind Jared Lee Loughner's home sits an alarming altar with a skull sitting atop a pot filled with shriveled oranges.

A row of ceremonial candles and a bag of potting soil lay nearby, photos reveal....
It's a skull replica, according to the photo caption. I don't know how you can tell from a photo that a candle is "ceremonial" or if/why the potting soil is part of the still life. Would you have found this display frightening if you weren't told it was assembled by a murderer? I'll bet a million American kids have skulls and candles lined up on a shelf or table in their suburban bedrooms and their parents don't even mind.

What's more significant — also at the link — is the way Loughner behaved in his college class. The teacher and the other students believed he was dangerously abnormal. We're very tolerant in America, and we love individuality and freedom. We don't interfere with the usual misfits, loners, free spirits, jerks, and idiots that we encounter all the time. But we ought to be able to take action when we can figure out that someone is truly deranged. Loughner — like the Fort Hood shooter — should have been stopped.

I think the lesson from this recent shooting isn't that American need to tone down their rhetoric. (That's an old issue that politicos are inelegantly and often contemptibly grafting onto the tragedy.) It's that we need to see, understand, and do something about mentally ill persons.

Should you go to law school?

As you may have noticed, the NYT put up a long article about whether it's worth it to go to law school — whether it's a good investment. The article begins with an anecdote about a young man with $250,000 in student loans and compares his situation to that of a person who bought an expensive house and has a big mortgage loan to pay off. Of course, education is different from a house. You can sell the house, but you keep your education in your head.

Both the house and the education may turn out to be worth less than you paid, but the present-day value of a house has to do with what someone else is willing to pay to take it off your hands. You don't sell your education to someone else. You try to get a job. When you buy a house, you have some expectations about how the market price will change over time. When you get an education you have expectations about what kinds of jobs you may be able to get with it. But so much depends on you. You have to have absorb and process the material the school teaches, you need to present yourself appropriately in interviews, and, once you get the job, you have to perform well. Your services are the product. The education was part of making your services worth buying in the job market. But no one ever purchases your education from you.

Now, why focus on law schools? People buy all sorts of education. It's expensive. And students major in plenty of subjects that are far less likely to result in jobs. Here's where we get to the real meat of the article: Do the law schools trick students into thinking they are buying a bigger boost in the job market than they're really going to get? And it's the old U.S. News and World Report problem. As schools vie for higher ranking, they do what they can to produce statistics that factor into the calculation, and one thing is the percentage of "graduates known to be employed nine months after graduation." Law schools today report an average of 93%, which is 9% more than back in 1997, even though everyone knows the job market for law grads has gotten much worse.

Another statistic that counts in the rankings is median starting salary:
Many schools, even those that have failed to break into the U.S. News top 40, state that the median starting salary of graduates in the private sector is $160,000. That seems highly unlikely, given that Harvard and Yale, at the top of the pile, list the exact same figure....
That is to say, the U.S. News rankings are, on their face, unbelievable.
So the glut of diplomas, the dearth of jobs and those candy-coated employment statistics have now yielded a crop of furious young lawyers who say they mortgaged their future under false pretenses. You can sample their rage, and their admonitions, on what are known as law school scam blogs, with names like Shilling Me Softly, Subprime JD and Rose Colored Glasses.

“Avoid this overpriced sewer pit as if your life depended on it,” writes the anonymous author of the blog Third Tier Reality — a reference to the second-to-bottom tier of the U.S. News rankings — in a typically scatological review. “Unless, of course, you think that you will be better off with $110k-$190k in NON-DISCHARGEABLE debt for a degree that qualifies you to wait tables at the Battery Park Bar and Lounge.”

But so far, the warnings have been unheeded. Job openings for lawyers have plunged, but law schools are not dialing back enrollment.... Apparently, there is no shortage of 22-year-olds who think that law school is the perfect place to wait out a lousy economy and the gasoline that fuels this system — federally backed student loans — is still widely available. 
It's important for prospective students to know what they're getting into. But are they being tricked into thinking it will be easy to become a lawyer, make a lot of money, and love your job too? I don't think so. The bad economy has made the odds worse, but students aren't fools. The NYT focuses on one particular individual, who seems to have been especially unrealistic. (You can go to the article to see the details on this one guy. I don't know why he was chosen as the star of the article.) I think most students do think hard about taking on loans and training for the legal profession. You've got to search for the truth and think hard about where your decisions will lead you and if you want to go there.

Quite aside from the economic issues, many people go to law school only to figure out they don't like being a lawyer. But you have to do something in life. What will it be? What else are you going to do? For far too many young people, law school seems like a specific, sensible choice. Three years of education, and you will be highly qualified for a wide array of respectable jobs. If you're reasonably smart and hard working, you will get through it. But it's not a magic ticket to affluence and prestige.

My advice: Know what you're doing! Think!

January 9, 2011

At the Crosshairs Café...

DSC09142

... set your sights on peace and love.

(The photo is from the Tea Party protest that took place here in Madison last April 15th, originally blogged under the title "Any expressions of violence at the Tea Party today?")

"There's a climate of hate out there, all right, but it doesn't derive from the innocuous use of political clichés."

"And former Gov. Palin and the tea party movement are more the targets than the source.... [I]f you're using this event to criticize the 'rhetoric' of Mrs. Palin or others with whom you disagree, then you're either: (a) asserting a connection between the 'rhetoric' and the shooting, which based on evidence to date would be what we call a vicious lie; or (b) you're not, in which case you're just seizing on a tragedy to try to score unrelated political points, which is contemptible. Which is it?"

Glenn Reynolds in the Wall Street Journal.

ADDED: Remember when liberal NYT columnist Charles Blow said this about Sarah Palin: "She’s like the ominous blob in the horror films: the more you shoot at it, the bigger and stronger it becomes." AND: Why did I add that? Just as one example of what I think are many, many expressions of violence aimed at Sarah Palin. This attempt to connect Sarah Palin to the shooting is one of the most ridiculous and despicable political arguments I have ever seen.

"Our spirited political discourse, complete with name-calling, vilification—and, yes, violent imagery—is a good thing."

"Better that angry people unload their fury in public than let it fester and turn septic in private. The wicked direction the American debate often takes is not a sign of danger but of freedom. And I'll punch out the lights of anybody who tries to take it away from me."

Slate's Jack Shafer comes out in favor of free speech.

Can you imagine writing about politics without the violent metaphors (and dead metaphors... yikes!)? You'd have to give up words like campaign! From the Online Etymology Dictionary:
campaign

1640s, "operation of an army in the field," from Fr. campagne "campaign," lit. "open country," from O.Fr. champagne "open country" (suited to military maneuvers), from L.L. campania "level country" (cf. It. campagna, Sp. campaña, Port. campanha), from L. campus "a field" ... Old armies spent winters in quarters and took to the "open field" to seek battle in summer. Extension of meaning from military to political is Amer.Eng. 1809. ...
And you know damned well that the people who are calling for the abandonment of violent metaphor are setting themselves up for hypocrisy when they go back to it. It will be so tedious to point it out when the time comes.

"Argument is war" was used as the first example of a metaphor we live by in the book "Metaphors We Live By":

Pictures from the regatta.

From the Madison Ice Boating photoset by "Lottery Ticket":



"When Althouse says that most gays are just individuals and many reject stereotypes, I say 'You go, girlfriend!' (snap)."

"'Coming out' doesn’t mean coming to terms with the fact you’re gay — it means publicly identifying yourself so the Gay Police can find you and kidnap you into the Gay Borg. It’s easier for the Gay Police to round you up if you believe that Flyover Country is hostile to gays to you move to a Gay Urban Area. Then, the Borg can save expenses for rounding you up since you jumped into the pen voluntarily. For me, the process of accepting my sexuality meant rejecting the gay community because they didn’t offer a model for sexual behavior which had anything to do with my values. All of my friends are straight since my core identities are masculine, Christian, etc. Gay is way down on the list. I am glad that many gays are refusing to join the Borg, even if it means sacrificing the toaster."

A comment over at GayPatriot.

Daniel Hernandez, a 20-year-old intern for Gabrielle Giffords, ran toward the scene of the shootings.

The Arizona Republic reports:
Hernandez said he moved from person to person checking pulses.... One man was already dead. Then he saw Giffords. She had fallen and was lying contorted on the sidewalk. She was bleeding.

Using his hand, Hernandez applied pressure to the entry wound on her forehead. He pulled her into his lap, holding her upright against him so she wouldn't choke on her own blood. Giffords was conscious, but quiet....

Hernandez used his hand to apply pressure until someone from inside Safeway brought him clean smocks from the meat department. He used them to apply pressure on the entrance wound, unaware there was an exit wound. He never let go of her...

"Of course you're afraid, you just kind of have to do what you can.... You just have to be calm and collected... You do no good to anyone if you have a breakdown. . . . It was probably not the best idea to run toward the gunshots, but people needed help."

Roxanna Green said Christina was patriotic and proud to have a September 11, 2001 birthday.

"It was very special to her. She would tell people she was born on a holiday. She would always try to the see the positive in it. She said it was a holiday because it gave hope and everyone came together."

Christina Green died in the Tuscon shootings yesterday.

AND:
Christina was an A student and was interested in politics, so her mother accepted the offer by her friend Susan Hileman to take Christina to the congresswoman’s town hall meeting. John Green told the Arizona Star-News that Christina was such a good speaker, “I could have easily seen her as a politician.”

But Christina also seems to have inherited her family’s baseball genes. She was on the Little League baseball team, its only girl, her mother said.

“She was an athlete, a good dancer, a good gymnast, a good swimmer,” her mother said. “She belonged to Kids Helping Kids charity and tried to help children less fortunate.”

Christina, a slender girl with brownish blonde hair, brown eyes and a gentle smile, also sang in the choir at St. Odilia Roman Catholic Church. At home she took care of pet geckos, but loved frolicking with the dogs and cats of neighbors and friends. In the big-dreams way of children, she told her mother she wanted to be a veterinarian and study at an eastern school like New York University.

A bad omen for the Packers?

Rush Limbaugh laid out the bird theory of this weekend's Wild Card playoff games:
If we were to go Environmentalist Wacko Method this week, every bird team would lose, and lose bad.  What's happening out there?  Birds are falling out of the sky.  Scientists are trying to figure out why.  But if you go the environmentalist wacko route, the Seahawks (birds) lose. Ravens (birds) lose. Eagles (birds) lose.  The only game that doesn't feature a bird team is the Jets and the Colts -- and the Jets, nevertheless, are in the air -- and some birds die because they get sucked in by the jets, but the Jets aren't playing a bird team.  So the environmentalist wacko method for the Jets and Colts, again, you'd have to go Colts on that because Colts are horses -- wild, American history, cavalry, cowboys, Indians, so forth.  Jets, they're just expensive. They pollute, foul mouth, lousy service, all the things you gotta go through to get on one these days at the TSA. You gotta strip search. You'd have to say the Colts.  The environmental wacko method would have the Colts, the Saints, the "Cheaps," and the Packers going the environmental wacko method.
So far he's wrong. The Jets and the Seahawks have won.  So, that's a bad omen for the Packers.

Should we succumb to the temptation to engage in political rhetoric, making generalizations from the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords?

Yesterday, some folks leapt into scoring political points even before the surgeons got to Gabrielle Giffords's brain, before the body of the 9-year-old Christina Green had arrived at the funeral home. They couldn't wait to tell us what's wrong with America — as if there weren't something wrong with them for failing to hold off for a day, while other people were manifesting basic human decency.

These louts took advantage of the silence in the Theater of Respect and soliloquized about how the shooting resulted from and exemplified the terrible things about their political opponents. This either offended or annoyed the other players in the Theater of Respect, depending on whether they were genuinely decent people who mourn suffering or whether they simply felt constrained to behave as if they were.

That was yesterday. Today, it seems that everyone's ready to jump into the big generalizations game. But let's stop and think about this first. From everything we've seen so far, the gunman, Jared Lee Loughner, is deranged. Like many insane people, he connected up ideas that don't really connect:
A series of short videos posted on the Internet, apparently by Mr. Loughner, consist of changing blocs of text that are largely rambling and incoherent. Many take the form of stating a premise and then a logical conclusion that would follow from it.

They speak of being a “conscience dreamer”; becoming a treasurer of a new currency; controlling “English grammar structure”; mentioned brainwashing and suggested that he believed he had powers of mind control.

“In conclusion, my ambition — is for informing literate dreamers about a new currency; in a few days, you know I’m conscience dreaming!”
Ironically, writers purporting to be horrified by what happened yesterday will take the shooting as their  premise and work — with what they think looks like sound reasoning — toward their conclusions.

Now, my question is: Should we resist? The event is vivid. We've got to keep talking and writing. Everyone else is doing it now....

First, you might want to resist because it's the right thing to do not only out of respect for the dead and wounded but also because Jared Loughner is probably just a crazy guy whose acts say nothing about anybody else.

But let's assume you're not that pure. You're a political animal, and you're not too fastidious about using the raw material that comes your way. I'd say you ought to think very hard about whether you want to use this shooting in your political rhetoric. You might want to adhere to the respect for the victims/crazy gunman position because it serves your political interests.

But whose interests are served by chewing up the wounded flesh in the meat grinder of political rhetoric and whose interests are served by pretending to be above all that? Liberals have an interest in creating a big distraction that might undercut the prevailing conservative momentum. To conservatives, I would say: Don't help them.

"[I]t's implausible that Prof. West doesn't know how to form the preterite of succumb..."

Sayeth the linguistics expert, Mark Liberman :
Thus, in my opinion, both Rush Limbaugh and Ann Althouse are piling on for political reasons or because they don't like Cornel West, just as Jacob Weisberg piled on to the Bushisms business.
Thus! I love the way the logical jump about what I (and Rush) did happens in an instant, but the effort to absolve Cornel West is so painstaking.

Thus! In my opinion, Mark Liberman is piling on for political reasons....
It's obvious that Prof. West meant "succumbed", and from the audio evidence, it's clear that he said something that can plausibly be transcribed as "surcame". What both Limbaugh and Althouse assume is that this is the result of an eggcorn, in which the basic verb succumb is re-analyzed as a combination of the prefix sur- and the stem come, and that the preterite of this imagined verb then inherits the irregular form come, to yield surcame.

This is a plausible thing to happen, in the abstract. But a quick Google search shows us that Prof. West has used the verb succumb and its preterite succumbed many dozens of times in his books; and no doubt many more times in his speeches and interviews.
No doubt? I have some doubt. All of the actual examples found by Liberman are in published books, not spontaneous speech. Professor Liberman has failed to consider an obvious hypothesis — that West's books are edited.