October 22, 2011

At Occupy Madison, the occupation is accomplished not so much with human beings.



It's more... vegetables and corrugated cardboard:



Who knew you could claim an entire city park for yourself with litter? "Occupy Everything," indeed.



Later, there are a few more folks there, all male, for some reason...

Herman Cain and numerology.

I've already expressed my concerns...
It's not conservative to trash the entire system of funding the federal government and replace it with something concocted more out of numerology than economics.
... but Michelle Cottle really makes the connection:
In Chapter Nine of This Is Herman Cain—entitled “‘Forty-Five’—A Special Number,” Cain notes that his “conception, gestation, and birth all occurred within” the year 1945 (true of pretty much anyone born in the last three months of that year). He then launches into a detailed account of how “45 keeps on popping up as I go about the business of being elected—you guessed it—as the forty-fifth president of the United States of America.”

"'We need organic feed'?"

"Perhaps some kind person should bring them a couple of big bags of Purina Monkey Chow."

"Wisconsin should know we're coming... our lineman are getting after the quarterback. And they're going to hurt him."

Said Michigan State safety Isaiah Lewis the other day about Wisconsin's quarterback Russell Wilson.

Well, the game is on right now, and after the first play, Isaiah Lewis was holding his wrist, complaining, and had to be looked after and escorted off the field.

Be careful, delicate Spartans!

UPDATE: Karma is a bitch.

"Occupy Wall Street, Occupy State Street, Occupy Everything and Never Give It Back!"

That's the chant at one point in this video — shot by Meade and me, edited by me — of the Occupy Madison protest at the Capitol Square today here in Madison, Wisconsin. The Dane County Farmers' Market was going on at the same time and, as you'll see, one farmer-vendor takes action.



ADDED: These protesters have a variety of topics, but they keep coming back to Monsanto and GMO. At 1:50, when the chant is "Organic feed/Is what we need," a Farmers' Market vendor — who has walked right up to them — retorts "What we need is for you to get out of here!" She continues: "We can't make any money with you guys yelling around here and scaring the customers! Get out of here!"

At the Roundleaf Café...



... drop in for a while.

"It is a picture that seems at first to be quite beautiful."

"Only as the eye lingers do you fully realise its shocking context."

"Lech Walesa Not Attending #OccupyWallStreet in New York After Discovering Hard-Left Organizers."

"Discovering" = hearing from Breitbart's Big Government.

"[W]hen your product is so repulsive that no one wants to buy it in the open market..."

"... you have to somehow find a way to borrow the market for someone else's more attractive product."

"I cannot stop until I feel like I've conquered it."

It being the pumpkin. It's Ray Villafane, the master of pumpkin carving.

"But He Gave Up Golf."

Remember how the press treated George Bush?

(Story at the link originally blogged here.)

"Who are these people who live in Manhattan expecting peace and quiet? New York is loud, dirty, and fabulous!"

Who are these people who need to sleep at night and object to human feces on their doorstep? New York is loud, dirty, and fabulous!

"Jewish groups that have sensitive antennas for eruptions of bigotry have not criticized the protesters."

The NYT takes a look at whether there's anti-Semitism in Occupy Wall Street. The quote in the post title in the NYT characterization of the sounds of the absence of criticism. We get a specific quote from a representative of one Jewish group:
Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, ... said, “There are manifestations in the movement of anti-Semitism, but they are not expressing or representing a larger view.” 
Foxman observed that polls show that 1 in 6 Americans think Jews have too much political and economic power: “So it’s not surprising that in a movement that deals with economic issues you’re going to get bigots that believe in this stereotype....."

Romney: "President Obama’s astonishing failure to secure an orderly transition in Iraq..."

"... has unnecessarily put at risk the victories that were won through the blood and sacrifice of thousands of American men and women."

Obama campaign answers: "Mitt Romney didn't lay out a plan to end the war in Iraq in his foreign policy agenda - he barely even mentioned Iraq - but he is apparently willing to leave American troops there without identifying a new mission."

ADDED: Spencer Ackerman: "But the fact is America’s military efforts in Iraq aren’t coming to an end. They are instead entering a new phase. On January 1, 2012, the State Department will command a hired army of about 5,500 security contractors, all to protect the largest U.S. diplomatic presence anywhere overseas."

"The Occupy Austin rally enjoys a calm, relaxing sunset."

"Presumably it's a little more active earlier in the day."



(Video by my son Chris.)

October 21, 2011

Cattails.



This evening on Lake Wingra.

A new student organization based on modesty, chastity, marriage and charity.

The Anscombe Society.

ADDED: The Anscombe Society is new at the University of Texas, but it's been around a while, and, in fact, I've blogged about it before — here.

Wingra sunset.





This evening.

Anticipating disruption from Occupy Philadelphia, Eric Cantor cancels his speech on income equality at the University of Pennsylvania.

The Daily Pennsylvanian reports that a sophomore said, "Yeah, it’s definitely really ironic." And an English professor said, "I think it’s a shame that a speech at a university should not occur because of some fear that there will be skeptics and critics in the audience."

The word "audience" refers to people listening. Didn't these protesters intend to chant or shout or otherwise wreck the speech? If a university arranges a speaking event for someone who is invited as an honored guest and the event transmogrifies into one in which he will serve as a platform for other people who want to yell out their ideas, then the university should expect him to decline to participate in what has become an alternate event of a sort that he would never have accepted if it had been the original invitation. To portray the erstwhile honored guest as fearful of critics and skeptics is demagoguery.

You can read the speech Cantor would have given here. Excerpt:
There are politicians and others who want to demonize people that have earned success in certain sectors of our society....

Instead of talking about a fair share or spending time trying to push those at the top down, elected leaders in Washington should be trying to ensure that everyone has a fair shot and the opportunity to earn success up the ladder. The goal shouldn’t be for everyone to meet in the middle of the ladder....

We must ensure that those who abuse the rules are punished. We must ensure that the solution to wealth disparity is wealth mobility. We must give everyone the chance to move up. Stability plus mobility equals agility. In an agile economy and an agile society, people are climbing and succeeding.

Justice Scalia defines "pizza."

"I do indeed like so-called 'deep dish pizza.' It's very tasty... But it should not be called pizza. It should be called a tomato pie. Real pizza is Neapolitan. It is thin. It is chewy and crispy, OK?"

Okay.* I know... words have meaning. And Justice Scalia is the man to tell us what that meaning is.

_________

* I know Justice Scalia spells "okay" "OK," okay? But I don't. Example:
Unlike a clear constitutional holding that racial preferences in state educational institutions are impermissible, or even a clear anticonstitutional holding that racial preferences in state educational institutions are OK, today’s Grutter-Gratz split double header seems perversely designed to prolong the controversy and the litigation.
Ah... notice the baseball. There's baseball in the above-linked article too. Asked by his Chicago audience "White Sox or Cubs?," Scalia said "Yankees."

At the You're-Almost-There Café...



... hurry up! We're talking about everything.

"I really do not know that anything has ever been more exciting than diagramming sentences."

"I suppose other things may be more exciting to others when they are at school but to me undoubtedly when I was at school the really completely exciting thing was diagramming sentences and that has been to me ever since the one thing that has been completely exciting and completely completing."

Diagram that! is the implicit challenge from Gertrude Stein – whose sentences are devilishly devoid of commas.
Stein hates commas passionately. I wish she were just a little more fond of them, LOL. Even I have a nagging desire to insert commas in her prose!
Commas are servile and have no life of their own... what does a comma do, a comma does nothing but make easy a thing that if you like it enough is easy enough without the comma.
She uses them instead of question marks, though, because she hates them even more! She says the question mark looks like "a brand on cattle."

"John Carlos, who saluted Black Power with raised fists at 1968 Olympics, addresses Occupy Madison."

That and he's in town for the Wisconsin Book Festival with a book to promote.
After Carlos finished speaking to the group huddled together by the Occupy Madison camp in Veterans Park, listeners purchased the new book he co-wrote with sportswriter Dave Zirin, titled The John Carlos Story: The Sports Moment That Changed the World.

John Pope waited in a short line for Carlos to autograph his copy. "[Carlos] was at the top of his athletic prowess and instead of coming home as a hero, he came home as someone who was despised by a lot of people because he took a real serious stand against a lot of issues," he said.
And that's what it's all about, kids: taking a real serious stand against a lot of issues. And moving merchandise.

Writing with dashes.

Do you like dashes? I do. There are certain ways of using dashes that I particularly admire. Rather than try to explain what I like so much, I'll give you an example. This is from the Charles Dickens novel, "Bleak House." The narrator is encountering the mother of a child who has just fallen down a flight of stairs.
Mrs. Jellyby, whose face reflected none of the uneasiness which we could not help showing in our own faces as the dear child's head recorded its passage with a bump on every stair — Richard afterwards said he counted seven, besides one for the landing — received us with perfect equanimity.
Doesn't that sentence make you feel like diagramming it... just for fun?

I like sentences like that — I think — because I like conversational side roads especially when they get you back to the main road. That relates to the way I feel about blogging. For example, the reason I was out there in Project Gutenberg searching for "Africa" on a webpage that contained the entire text of what is — in paperback — a 544-page book is that — like everyone else who checked Memeorandum today — I got waylaid by a NY Post story titled "Florida banker's wife left family to join Wall Street protesters."
A married mother of four from Florida ditched her family to become part of the raggedy mob in Zuccotti Park -- keeping the park clean by day and keeping herself warm at night with the help of a young waiter from Brooklyn.

“I’m not planning on going home,” an unapologetic Stacey Hessler, 38, told The Post yesterday.

“I have no idea what the future holds, but I’m here indefinitely. Forever,” said Hessler, whose home in DeLand sits 911 miles from the tarp she’s been sleeping under.
Hessler — who ironically is married to a banker — arrived 12 days ago and planned to stay for a week, but changed her plans after cozying up to some like-minded radicals, including Rami Shamir, 30, a waiter at a French bistro in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn.
Hey, check the dashes: "— who ironically is married to a banker —." Ironic? Or not ironic at all? It's just what you'd expect if you were reading a novel about a woman married to a banker. Stacey Hessler immediately called to mind Mrs. Jellyby. Remember Mrs. Jellyby? She's a minor character in "Bleak House." Here's a summary/spoiler:
[Mrs. Jellyby] resolutely devotes every waking hour to the “Borrioboola-Gha venture.” The reader never discovers the details of the endeavor except that it involves the settlement of impoverished Britons among African natives with the goal of supporting themselves through coffee growing.

Mrs. Jellyby is convinced that no other undertaking in life is so worthwhile, or would solve so many problems at a stroke. Dickens’s interest is not in the project, however, but rather in Mrs. Jellyby, who is so wedded to her work that she has no time for her several children, with the exception of Caddy, a daughter she has conscripted as her secretary. Ink-spattered Caddy puts in nearly as many hours as her mother in the daily task of answering letters and sending out literature about Borrioboola-Gha.

Caddy, however, has come to hate the very word “Africa” or any word that has the remotest suggestion of causes. For her, causes simply mean the ruin of family life. Mrs. Jellyby’s husband eventually becomes suicidal and, though surviving despair, is last seen in the book with his head resting despondently on a wall.

In the book’s postscript, we discover that the Borrioboola-Gha project failed after the local king sold the project’s volunteers into slavery in order to buy rum. Mrs. Jellyby quickly found another cause to occupy her time, “a mission with more correspondence than the old one,” thus providing a happy ending for a permanent campaigner.
Like a sentence with well-deployed dashes, it all comes together in the end.

Evidence and ideology.

Looking at basically the same problem, the Wall Street Journal gravitates toward reform that breaks the hold of unions, and the NYT finds new reasons to keep government spending flowing into the same old program.

Soft-headed writing in the NYT about "alternative medicine."

This is just plain awful writing in in the "Well" section of the NYT, by Anahad O'Connor:
Is your doctor open to alternative medicine?...

Research shows that despite longstanding resistance, alternative medicine is gaining ground in some doctors’ offices too. A study by Harvard Medical School in May found that one in 30 Americans — as many as six million people — used an alternative therapy after a doctor recommended it, and a recent report in the journal Health Services Research found that doctors and nurses are increasingly likely to try alternative or complementary medicines themselves.

But what are doctors using, and which alternative and complementary medicines would they trust enough to recommend to a patient or use in their practice? In a new occasional series, Well will talk to doctors around the country to find out what nontraditional medicines or therapies they sometimes recommend or use themselves.
The rest of the column is about turmeric — the spice — and after a fair amount of blather, you get to this:
A study published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 2009 compared the active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, with ibuprofen for pain relief in 107 people with knee osteoarthritis. The curcumin eased pain and improved function about as well as the ibuprofen....
So, there is a specific chemical and it's been studied and proven effective. As the 3d comment over there says: "With that scientific proof it is not alternative therapy."

The NYT is prompting readers to "open" themselves to the intriguing possibilities of "alternative medicine." But the effectiveness of curcumin as a pain reliever proves nothing more generally about an alternative path in medicine. People get the idea that something works or doesn't work and if that observation is verified through science, it's not alternative anymore. Study all the "alternative medicine" remedies and decide whether they are real or fake. Quit grouping the real and the fake together. Do science. Why is that difficult? Who is the NYT coddling and conning here? It's disgusting.

"The big thing was that he really was not ready to open his body," said Steve Jobs's wife...

... attempting to explain why Jobs avoided surgery for the cancer that ultimately killed him.
“It’s hard to push someone to do that.” She did try, however... “The body exists to serve the spirit,” she argued.

When he did take the path of surgery and science, Mr. Jobs did so with passion and curiosity, sparing no expense, pushing the frontiers of new treatments.
Notice the consistent theme: avoiding the conventional. (The Apple slogan was "Think Different." )

Just getting the obvious surgery... that's for drones... that's for... a garden of pure ideology... secure from the pests of any contradictory true thoughts... Our Unification of Thoughts... ordinary people who don't use Apple products....

Accordingly, first the diets and acupuncture and then pushing the frontiers of medicine...

Normalphobia.

I love the products that flowed from that fear, but cancer has its own ideas.



It can kill you.

"I felt that women betraying each other was something I was investigating at the time."

Said Tori Amos, explaining the origin of the song "Cornflake Girl":
The idea of that, and how quote-unquote friends can really hurt each other deeply, and the idea that the enemy is out there somewhere, but really, where we get hurt usually comes from people we are close to. So “Cornflake Girl” really was about two women, that one felt that the other had really betrayed her.
The inspiration came from Alice Walker’s book "The Temple Of My Familiar":
In the book, they talked about how young girls would be taken to a place for female circumcision, whether it was out in the desert of Africa or what have you, usually by somebody they trusted. A mother, a grandmother, somebody they loved, and of course the person that was doing this to them, taking them to the whatever you want to call it, the hacker or the mutilator, thought that they were doing the right thing, or else the girl wouldn’t be able to get married. They justify their betrayal, and that was really what prompted the idea of “Cornflake Girl.”
But wait, says Adam (at Throwing Things), what about that story about how "she beat out Sarah Jessica Parker to star in an ad for Kellogg's Just Right cereal?"



Just Right cereal... female genital mutilation... it's hard to imagine a greater disparity in sources for a song. And yet... everything goes into the mix, doesn't it? You read books about all sorts of drastic and dramatic occurrences and your own life ticks on with its miniature but important-to-you events, it all swirls around in your poet-brain, and out pop a song (and, over the years, out pop stories about whether the song came from).

This isn't journalism. It's art, and the only test is: it's a great song.

"National Merit has never been transparent about, for example, the ethnic diversity of the people who receive National Merit scholarships."

Said William Fitzsimmons, the admissions dean at Harvard, quoted in an article that reports that NYU — like at least 8 other schools — has withdrawn from the National Merit scholarship program, which distributes money based on PSAT scores.
“National Merit has developed a kind of grandeur that is misguided,” said Lawrence Momo, director of college counseling at the private Trinity School... “The mythology that has been created about it in the public imagination is overblown.”
Dropping out of this test-based merit system because of racial/ethic disparities — assuming that's what's going on here — is distinctly different from adopting an affirmative action program to correct for disparities caused by the use of test scores in admissions.

In the Supreme Court case Grutter v. Bollinger, which approved of the University of Michigan Law School's use of race as a "plus factor" in admissions, Justice Clarence Thomas, in dissent, blamed the law school for creating the disparity itself by relying on the standardized test:
[N]o modern law school can claim ignorance of the poor performance of blacks, relatively speaking, on the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). Nevertheless, law schools continue to use the test and then attempt to “correct” for black underperformance by using racial discrimination in admissions so as to obtain their aesthetic student body... The Law School itself admits that the test is imperfect, as it must, given that it regularly admits students who score at or below 150 (the national median) on the test....

Having decided to use the LSAT, the Law School must accept the constitutional burdens that come with this decision. The Law School may freely continue to employ the LSAT and other allegedly merit-based standards in whatever fashion it likes. What the Equal Protection Clause forbids, but the Court today allows, is the use of these standards hand-in-hand with racial discrimination....
Ending reliance on a standardized test is exactly the solution Clarence Thomas suggested. It does not classify individuals by race or ethnicity.

You need some skepticism to go with that empathy.

"Madison's con artists"... and the students who respond to them.
One student, who asked to remain anonymous, said "Misty Gaines" approached her on Library Mall saying she was depressed, three months pregnant and in an abusive relationship.

The student, a sophomore, said she fell for the story and ultimately, "under pressure," gave Gaines $100 for a hotel, believing Gaines when she said all the Madison shelters were full.
$100! Was that her parents' hard-earned money she handed over?

October 20, 2011

At the Night Owl Café...



... there's nothing to see, but love calls.

"It’s a guerrilla campaign that is secretly filmed and features a cinema full of burly scary looking men..."

"... with the only 2 seats in the place being sold to unsuspecting couples. As you’ll see from the video below most of the people who walk in pick up on the intimidating atmosphere and leave immediately rather than taking the last 2 seats in the theater...."

"Until the teachers' unions were broken, there was almost no hope for education reform."

Steve Jobs told Barack Obama, when they met in the fall of 2010.
Jobs proposed allowing principals to hire and fire teachers based on merit, that schools stay open until 6 p.m. and that they be open 11 months a year.

Autumn sunset.





A well-made Occupy Wall Street commercial...



... supposedly set to run on national TV.

What will people do with a searchable database of the names on the "Recall Scott Walker" petition?

In the comments to the previous post, alan markus suggested another poll — inspired by this discussion at on an Isthmus forum — about what people would do with a searchable database of the names and addresses of those who sign the petition to recall Scott Walker. I'm not using alan's options. This poll — like all my polls — represents my musings on the subject.

If I could search a database of signers of the "Recall Scott Walker" petition, I would:
1. Look for fake names and names that shouldn't be there, e.g. Ann Althouse, to check for fraud.
2. Look for names of people I know or work with just out of curiosity.
3. Look up names because I might want to shun or otherwise punish people who sign.
4. Look up names because I might want to shun or otherwise punish people who HAVEN'T signed.
5. #1 and #2.
6. #1 and #3.
7. I wouldn't look up names at all.
  
pollcode.com free polls 

Who should sign the petition to recall Scott Walker?

After writing the previous post, I've framed this question. Don't answer at all if you think no one should sign the petition.

A Wisconsinite should sign the recall Walker petition if he or she...
Prefers a different governor, without regard for how the actual election will go.
Opposes Walker and believes it's likely that the recall opponent will win.
Wants Wisconsin to go through the exercise of examining Walker's performance as governor.
Likes Walker and wants to set up an opportunity for him to campaign and acquire a new mandate.
Thinks a recall election will have a good effect framing issues and opinions for the fall elections.
  
pollcode.com free polls 

Do you think Wisconsinites should sign the petition?
Yes.
No, and that's why I didn't vote in the poll above.
No, but I still picked the best option in the poll about.
  
pollcode.com free polls 

Answering these polls, did you engage in any trickery?
No. I was completely honest.
Yes. I tried to bamboozle Walker opponents into doing what would hurt their interests.
Yes. I tried to bamboozle Walker fans into doing what would hurt their interests.
  
pollcode.com free polls 

Who's going to run against Scott Walker in the recall election?

Assuming enough signatures are collected for a recall, there needs to be a candidate. Who's it supposed to be? Shouldn't the people asked to sign the recall petition want to know? Here's a little interview with former U.S. Rep. David Obey on the subject, and Obey himself has been suggested as a candidate. But look at him:


Slouching with his pot belly aimed at the camera and repeatedly scratching his ratty beard, he can't be serious about running. Why would Walker opponents want to set up a race that will give Walker a big platform for promoting himself unless the other guy (or gal) has a great fighting chance?

In the interview, Obey cites the names Tom Barrett and Herb Kohl. Barrett is the Milwaukee mayor who already lost to Walker (back in 2010). And Kohl is 76 and retiring from his not-too-onerous seat in the U.S. Senate. Assuming he'd run against Walker, how good a fight would Kohl put up against the 43-year-old governor who will be battling for everything he's worked for and defending himself after year's worth of over-the-top assaults on his integrity?

By the way, Obey is quoted — at the link — saying that the new Wisconsin law requiring that voters show an ID card "is not only a recallable issue; it ought to be an impeachable issue." You'd impeach elected officials for passing legislation? Ridiculous. Of course, if you had the votes in the legislature to impeach, you'd have the votes to repeal the legislation, so Obey is simply spluttering from his out-of-office dream world.

ADDED: Let me take Obey's nutty idea about impeachment and run with it. If we get a new governor through the recall of Scott Walker, the ouster of the governor ought to be seen as an impeachable offense. Let the Republican legislature impeach the new Governor Obey/Kohl/Barrett/Feingold. Why not? The Democrats have set the theme: Use anything and everything you can get your hands on to defeat your opponent. As one possible future governor likes to say: "This game's not over until we win."

The photos of Bob Dylan on "The Times They Are A-Changin'" and George Harrison on "All Things Must Pass"...

... were both made by Barry Feinstein... who died today at the age of 80.

You can see the iconic Bob-as-Woody-Guthrie pic and the George-with-gnomes pic along with lots of other cool photos at the official Barry Feinstein website. And here's a book of Feinstein's pictures of Dylan. I hear it's got a lovely picture of Bob kissing Mary Travers.

Can we talk about Michele Bachmann's fingernails? We never talk about the male candidates' fingernails.

Feminist analysis marches on claws its way forward:
“A rounder nail is more elegant,” celebrity manicurist Kimmie Kyees said in the LA Times. “But then there are some people who love a super square shape with pointy edges.” Kyees cited Kim Kardashian as one of the celebrities who sports square nails.

But “Squared-off at the tip, her high-gloss french manicure never varies at all, and acrylic extensions help her to achieve lengths that are visible even from the nosebleed section,” wrote the Huffington Post’s Christina Wilkie and Lauren Rothman. “We’ve even heard them clickety-clacking against her debate podiums a few times, which means the rest of America heard it, too — even if they were unaware of where the noise was coming from.”

Unsurprisingly, there has been no discussion of the length, color or cleanliness of Bachmann’s opponents’ fingernails. 
Because it's not really about the male/female distinction here. It's about different types of women. Put down you sexism detector. Pick up your cattiness sensor.

"QUESTION: Why Is Class Hatred Morally Superior To Race Hatred?"

A post, at Instapundit.

QUESTION: Why is that supposed to be at all a difficult question?

"Herman Cain Tells Piers Morgan That He Is Anti-Abortion, Yet Pro-Choice?"

Mediate has that headline, as if it's hard to fathom. But I think most Americans are anti-abortion yet pro-choice. I am.

As I view the clip at the link — and it cuts off just at the point where I'd ask a few more questions — Herman Cain believes abortion should be legal. He can maintain his own opinion that abortion is always wrong and, at the same time, that it is the woman's decision and that it is not the role of government to intervene.

In the clip, he says the same thing about homosexuality. He thinks that it's wrong, and also that it's not the government's role to prevent anyone from choosing to engage in homosexual behavior. Piers Morgan drags him into the question whether homosexuality is inborn, and the 2 men never draw the distinction between homosexual orientation and homosexual behavior. Whether it's inborn or not, there's a choice about acting out on your desires, and since Cain — I think! — sees that choice as belonging to the individual and not to the government, the science question about the origin of homosexual orientation is irrelevant. I love the idea of freedom of choice, based on a commitment to freedom, as opposed to a concession to the hard facts of biology. (And I remember when people who supported gay rights were enthusiastic about sexual orientation as a choice and got quite angry at a scientist who studied sexual orientation at the biological level.)

What's missing from that Mediaite clip — perhaps not from the interview as a whole — is whether Cain wants to see the Supreme Court overrule the cases that find constitutional rights to choose abortion and to choose to engage in homosexual behavior. You can't tell from the statement in the clip that he thinks there are rights that preclude legislation. Cain might be saying that he wouldn't sign legislation depriving the individual of those choices, but that his disapproval of that legislation doesn't mean that there is a constitutional right — which is what his favorite Supreme Court justice says about such things.

Qadeadfi.

A new spelling.

"Amanda Knox sez, I may not like Italy..."

"... but I love City Market's take and bake pizza. I take it home and slice it myself."

October 19, 2011

At the Chrysanthemum Café...



... you can talk about anything you want.

"Man orders size 14.5 slipper and gets size 1,450 after 'mistranslation in China.'"

The slipper is the size of a grizzly bear.

"Does this writer's capacity for language expand my capacity to think and to feel?"

The test — proposed by Jeanette Winterson — for what counts as literature.
We are nervous about anything that seems elitist or inaccessible, and we apologise for the arts in a way that we never do for science.

Nobody blames maths for being difficult – and it isn't difficult – but it is different, and demands some time and effort. It is another kind of language. Literature is also another kind of language. I don't mean literature is obscure or rarefied or precious – that's no test of a book – rather it is operating on a different level to our everyday exchanges of information and conversation.
From an essay involving an controversy about who won and who didn't win a literary prize, something I really don't care about. But the test... the test is interesting. I don't know whether it's right, and actually I don't care. What difference does it make, the definition of "literature"? Unless you care about the prize. But it seems interesting, even though I don't care if it succeeds in testing what it purports to test. And frankly, I think it's quite silly to care about the 2 capacities. It's a double aptitude test, looking backward at the capacity the writer brought to the project of writing the thing and forward to the increased capacity the reader took away from reading it. What about the reading itself?

Would you like a giant painting of a woman in full radiant bride mode?

The woman, who was 19 when she posed, died last January at 80. Nobody in her family wants it, they say because it's just way too big. It's 6 feet by 4 feet, with a chunky frame and a built-in light.
"She was very proud of that picture," Grace said of her mother. "If company was coming over, that light was going on. We would tease her. I used to call it the dartboard."

Irma was a beautiful woman. The portrait freezes her in her blond, blue-eyed prime and flowing satin dress. She is smiling and looking up and into the future.
Who would want it? (It's free.) Could a hipster decorator imbue it with irony by hanging it in the right way in the right place? Might an artist repaint it, adding bizarre and disturbing extra touches? Of course, a photographer could cut out the face and do portraits of people who stick their face through it. And the woman's own children already thought of using it as a target.

Ideas?

"As I name a few Republican candidates for president please tell me the ONE word that comes to mind..."

It's a WaPo-Pew poll, eliciting the first reaction to the names Herman Cain, Rick Perry, and Mitt Romney. For each man, there is one word that clearly comes out on top. Can you guess?

9-9-9, Texas, and Mormon, respectively. It's interesting that the first 5 words for Cain in rank order are positive. In fact, "interesting" is the 3d word. The first negative word, #6, is "inexperience/not experienced."

Perry does much worse in the mental reflex test. After Texas, we come to "no" and "idiot/idiotic."

The #1 word for Romney — "Mormon" — is also #1 by a wide margin. Is it strange that "black" for Cain is only #8 when "Mormon" is so clearly the first attribute assigned to Romney?

"Windmills to shut at night following demise of rare bat."

It's so sad when goodnesses collide.

Can't we just make bats evil again? So the windmills can save us?

"His ignorance was as remarkable as his knowledge."

Who?
Of contemporary literature, philosophy and politics he appeared to know next to nothing. Upon my quoting Thomas Carlyle, he inquired in the naivest way who he might be and what he had done. My surprise reached a climax, however, when I found incidentally that he was ignorant of the Copernican Theory and of the composition of the Solar System. That any civilized human being in this nineteenth century should not be aware that the earth travelled round the sun appeared to me to be such an extraordinary fact that I could hardly realize it.

"You appear to be astonished," he said, smiling at my expression of surprise. "Now that I do know it I shall do my best to forget it."

"To forget it!"

"You see," he explained, "I consider that a man's brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things, so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now the skillful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of these he has a large assortment, and all in the most perfect order. It is a mistake to think that that little room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent. Depend upon it there comes a time when for every addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones."

"But the Solar System!" I protested.

"What the deuce is it to me?" he interrupted impatiently: "you say that we go round the sun. If we went round the moon it would not make a pennyworth of difference to me or to my work."
Just something I ran into when I Googled the phrase "mental furniture," which came up during the conversation excerpted in the previous post. We'd been talking about how people have opinions and beliefs that are like rooms that they've got arranged some way that they like or they're used to, and if you want to come in and say maybe the sofa would be better on the other side of the room, and they're not up for moving it over there to check your theory, well... you can understand how they feel.

They're happy enough with the rooms they've got. They feel comfortable. They can't be spending all their time moving furniture about, thinking about whether some piece earns the space it takes up, always ready to drag something ugly or useless out to the curb, and going shopping for the perfect new tables and chairs. They want to live in those rooms they've already furnished. Why can't you be a more pleasant guest?

"Plenty of people on the right and on the left are not comfortable with a free marketplace of ideas."

Says Meade, after I read him a blog post that calls me "obtuse" for writing about how 2 men were talking past each other about affirmative action. This blogger simply agreed with the man who stated the crisply clear position that race discrimination is always wrong and bad, and since I did not — I was more interested in the way the 2 men could not interact — I was obtuse.

My response to Meade was: "A lot of people don't really like shopping."

"Name something you put in your mouth, but don't swallow."

Daytime television, sexy as ever.

"Mature, very big, aggressive" lions, bears, and wolves are on the loose in Ohio.

"Schools closed and motorists were warned to stay in their vehicles as officers with assault rifles patrolled a rural area in eastern Ohio Wednesday, a day after police killed dozens of escaped animals from a wild-animal preserve, where the owner was found dead."
Tuesday night, more than 50 law enforcement officials... patrolled the 40-acre (16-hectare) farm and the surrounding areas in cars and trucks, often in rainy downpours. [Muskingum County Sheriff Matt] Lutz said they were concerned about big cats and bears hiding in the dark and in trees.
Here's some video.

"Real World: Occupy Wall Street? MTV Issues Casting Call for Protesters."

Great idea. A protest itself is a lot like a reality show anyway. There's a lot posing and performing for cameras. With MTV involved, there will be better editing and more poking into the details of the motivations of individuals and the interpersonal friction. As they say on in the "Real World" introduction: find out what happens... when people stop being polite... and start getting real. Scoff if you like, but I bet it's more real than what we get in the news.

And, MTV? If you want some protest vibe for your show, how about "Real World Madison"?

I feel like I'm supposed to talk about this.



Eh. What's the big deal? Some overtalking. Men get slightly irritated at each other. So what? The CNN commentators prompted us to think about whether this means one or both of these guys is "unlikable." It's meaningless.

October 18, 2011

At the Serenity Café...



... I'm off tonight. I know there was a debate. Feel free to talk about it or anything else. I watched it. We talked amongst ourselves here at Meadhouse. But any written commentary will have to wait until morning.

ADDED: Here's my son John's live-blog of the debate.

"Harry? Harry? Harry?"

"This is your wake-up call."

I love the way the newsfolk handle it.

"Except for the art supplies, there wasn’t a single thing in this room that would tell someone, 'Art is made here.'"

"It was kind of astounding. It was like Dylan was painting in a witness protection program."

Writes Richard Prince in the NYRB.
I didn’t ask a lot of things. I didn’t need to. I just enjoyed the experience. I liked a painting called La Belle Cascade because it looked to me like one of Cézanne’s Bathers. And Cézanne’s Bathers are some of my favorite works of art: The paint is nice and thin, like it’s been applied directly on the wall of a Roman emperor’s home. I’m not sure of the time they’re set in—it could be any time. And the geometry is interesting. It’s real. The lines break up the space as if he was anticipating Cubism.
Oh, really? Well, you know, speaking of geometry, did you hear about the time the geometry of innocence flesh on the bone caused Galileo’s math book to get thrown at Delilah who was sitting worthlessly alone? The tears on her cheeks were from laughter.

Taking race into account — simply wrong or rather complex?

Louis Molepske, a Democratic member of the Wisconsin Assembly, questions Roger Clegg, president of Center for Equal Opportunity, which has released a study that supposedly shows that the University of Wisconsin has engaged in serious race discrimination in its admission process for the undergrad program and the law school. Clegg responds. This short clip — shot by Meade, edited by me —  shows that the 2 men are not on the same page about affirmative action.



The colloquy took place at a hearing on October 17, 2011,  before the Assembly Committee on Colleges and Universities.

Molepske utters a classic quote: "We got a lot of white people in Wisconsin."

ADDED: Here's the thing. The University's policies align with the Supreme Court's case law, which permits race discrimination narrowly tailored to serve the goal of classroom diversity. Clegg performs moral clarity: He says race discrimination is "wrong" and "bad." That's something he just knows, quite aside from the CEO's study. He asserts it in answer to any question from someone who thinks there's something more complicated here — that is, someone who would leave it to the University to design and implement its own admissions policy.

That's why the 2 men talk past each other.

"President Obama and the Democratic leadership are making a critical error in embracing the Occupy Wall Street movement..."

"... and it may cost them the 2012 election, "says pollster Douglas Schoen (in the Wall Street Journal).
The protesters have a distinct ideology and are bound by a deep commitment to radical left-wing policies. On Oct. 10 and 11, Arielle Alter Confino, a senior researcher at my polling firm, interviewed nearly 200 protesters in New York's Zuccotti Park. Our findings probably represent the first systematic random sample of Occupy Wall Street opinion.

Our research shows clearly that the movement doesn't represent unemployed America and is not ideologically diverse. Rather, it comprises an unrepresentative segment of the electorate that believes in radical redistribution of wealth, civil disobedience and, in some instances, violence. Half (52%) have participated in a political movement before, virtually all (98%) say they would support civil disobedience to achieve their goals, and nearly one-third (31%) would support violence to advance their agenda....

Sixty-five percent say that government has a moral responsibility to guarantee all citizens access to affordable health care, a college education, and a secure retirement—no matter the cost. By a large margin (77%-22%), they support raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans, but 58% oppose raising taxes for everybody, with only 36% in favor. And by a close margin, protesters are divided on whether the bank bailouts were necessary (49%) or unnecessary (51%).
It's obviously risky for Obama to identify too closely with these people, but there are also risks in distancing himself. If you look at the various statements by Obama and his advisers, I think you'll see that they have positioned themselves in the middle ground with the message: We understand the protests as an emotional expression about current economic conditions. There's no identification with the protesters' abstract ideology or policy proposals — which Schoen's polling may reveal, but which are not that apparent in the protests. So Obama may have the right strategy: Characterize the protests as inarticulate cries of pain about problems that are real and that affect all Americans.

Schoen cites the 1970 elections — the midterm of the Nixon administration — when Democrats should have gained ground but lost by "aligning too closely with the antiwar movement hurt Democrats [as] many middle-class and working-class Americans ended up supporting hawkish candidates who condemned student disruptions." The Democrats who won, Schoen says, were the ones who acted enthusiastic about law and order. So Schoen — who was a pollster for Bill Clinton — recommends that Democrats eschew the "huge new spending programs and tax increases" that the protesters would like and please moderates by "opposing bailouts and broad-based tax increases."

But let's examine the 1970 analogy. The antiwar protesters pushed a very specific policy: ending the Vietnam War. A politician couldn't characterize their noise as an inarticulate cry of pain. If you sided with them, you were opposed to the war.

So I'm not convinced that moderate voters will punish Obama for taking his "I feel your pain" approach to the protesters. The rest of America also feels that pain, and Obama is good at performing empathy. Make it all very general and emotional, and let that emotional fuzz further obscure the already vague policy notions in the mushy heads of the protesters.

True, moderate Americans dislike disorder, but how hard is that to deal with? Up to a point, merge it with the "expression of pain" interpretation. And if it goes too far and there is actual violence, you do what all the moderate folk do when there is violence: Deplore it.

"Sotheby's to sell real drawing by fake artist."

"The London auction house said Monday it is offering a drawing by the talented but fictional American abstract expressionist Nat Tate."

You can see the drawing — "Bridge No. 114" — and read about the creation of Nat Tate by writer William Boyd here.
It all started in 1998. I was on the editorial board of Modern Painters magazine, then a very classy and influential art quarterly, and one day in a meeting the editor of the magazine, Karen Wright, wondered out loud if there was a way we could introduce some fiction into the mix of artists' profiles, exhibition reviews and general essays in which the magazine specialised. I don't know what made me speak out but I said, without really thinking: "Why don't I invent an artist?" And so Nat Tate was born.
So Boyd wrote his story, making Tate an Abstract Expressionist who gets depressed about his art after meeting Picasso* and ends up burning all his artwork and committing suicide.** Boyd allowed his fictional story to be published as a glossy art book with illustrations of artwork, and it was presented as if it were about a real artist. That it, it was a joke — the launch party was on an April Fool's Day 1998 — or, if you prefer, a hoax. People fell for it. The truth was revealed. Boyd professes himself hurt that it was called a hoax and not a joke. (Contemplate the hoax/joke distinction.)

Dogged by the accusations of hoax, Boyd conceived closure:
If this fictional artist could sell an artwork for real money then the Nat Tate story would have reached some kind of apotheosis and consummation. So I "found" another Nat Tate drawing – one from his famous bridge sequence... Sotheby's had form when it came to selling art by fictional artists, having successfully auctioned a Bruno Hat painting some years previously. Hat was a spoof artist that a group of bright young things had invented in 1929 and staged an exhibition of his work in a London town-house.... Hook consulted with colleagues and in due course I was told the sale was on...
Presumably, the form attends to all the incipient legal issues. If you go looking for closure, you surely don't want to touch off litigation. But the notion of closure is also fictional, no? I hadn't remembered the 12-year old story, and now I'm propagating it.

Actually, I like the idea of a fictional artist, and the artwork itself is real. (I've read "The Recognitions" by William Gaddis — "a masterwork about art and forgery, and the increasingly thin line between the counterfeit and the fake.") In the blogosphere, boring, humorless people express outrage when pranksters and artists experiment with "sockpuppets." It's too hard to play in this complex world we've made for ourselves. (Why did we go to all this trouble to exclude play?!)

But Boyd duly anticipates outrage. The proceeds from the sale of "Bridge No. 114" will go to a charity. Artist's Benevolent Institution. Wouldn't it be funny if that the name of William Boyd's bank account? No, you're not laughing? You're one of the killjoys!
_____________________________

*And Braque. Seriously, why kill yourself over Braque? What cherry on the top of a depression sundae is Braque? I'd have to read the book to tell you. There, I just bought the book. I'll tell you later. You, the 2 people who read this blog and want to know how Braque augmented Picasso in the emotional arc toward a fictional suicide.

** He uses the same suicide method — jumping off the Staten Island ferry — used by Spalding Gray. I hope Gray didn't read this book, looking, perhaps for inspiration.

ADDED: From Boyd's book:
... Nat felt vastly more at ease with Braque than with Picasso and gladly accepted when Braque offered to show him around his studio. Braque was then reworking his painting La Terrasse, which he had begun some eleven years earlier, a fact that Tate found astonishing, not to say incomprehensible. He was also deeply moved and captivated by some of the smaller elongated landscapes and seascapes in the studio. Apparently Tate ventured the opinion that they reminded him of van Gogh’s late landscapes. After gently correcting Tate’s pronunciation (‘Van Go? Non, mon ami, jamais’), Braque commented that he ‘regarded van Gogh as a great painter of night.’ The observation seemed to trouble Nat unduly, as if it was prophetic or gnomic in some sinister way... There is a photograph of the fête champêtre that Nat and Barkasian had with Braque and his family and friends during that visit, taken by Barkasian, one assumes, as he is absent from the picture. Braque himself sits at the centre of the table, dappled with autumn sunshine, while the women of the household fuss over the food and the placement. Nat stands close to the master, on his left, a plate in his hand, almost as if he is about to serve him. But his gaze is unfocused, he looks out of frame, at something in the middle distance, or perhaps just lost in his darkening thoughts. Nothing would ever be the same again.
So what was it about Braque that could drive you to suicide? His douchebag pronunciation of "Van Gogh"? His high school French? (I can talk French like that: Oui, mon ami, toujours!) Or was it the fact that — unlike an Abstract Expressionist — he fussed over a painting for 11 years, and — unlike an Abstract Expressionist — he maintained a calm and pretty domestic life? Dammit, that's it! I can't take it anymore!

October 17, 2011

WI Assemblyman Mark Pocan confronts CEO president Roger Clegg, calling him "some guy" who "came all the way from Virginia" to tell us what "all us flyover country folk don't know."

I've already blogged a few times about the report of the Center for Equal Opportunity — here, here, and here — but what happened today was a hearing at the state Capitol before the Assembly Committee on Colleges and Universities. Clegg was invited to explain the Center's report, which accused the University of Wisconsin undergrad program and law school of violating the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution through our use of race as a factor in the admissions process.

Mark Pocan, a Democratic Assemblyman who represents much of Madison, lit into Clegg, as you can see in this clip, shot by Meade. Pocan is saying the report lacks detail on student transfers and academic performance, then yells at Clegg for being "some guy" who has flown in "to pontificate at the importance you brought from the east coast to us." Clegg is a very mild mannered advocate, so the contrast between the 2 men is pretty rich:



Here's the Wisconsin State Journal report on the hearing:
"There is overwhelming evidence that the University of Wisconsin in engaging in racial and ethnic discrimination, and it should stop," Clegg told the committee during a tense hearing. "In a country like ours, the only system that will work is one that plays no racial favorites. Anything else is a recipe for disaster — for division, strife and balkanization."
Paul DeLuca Jr., UW-Madison provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, stressed that academic performance remains the key factor in admissions. At the same time, though, the school wants to build a diverse student body.

He pointed out that Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen issued a 2007 opinion that found the school's admissions approach complied with a 2003 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that race can be one of many admission considerations. He also pointed out that only 14 percent of UW-Madison students are minorities....
Whether the University complies with the standard laid down in the Supreme Court case law is, of course, crucial, but the state legislature has the power to impose a stricter standard on the University (if it thinks that's a good idea). In addition, it's possible that the CEO plans to use this case to get affirmative action back into the Supreme Court with the hope of changing the legal doctrine.

Ron Paul's plan to cut $1 trillion in one year...

... and eliminate 5 cabinet-level agencies.

"Sybil" was a hoax...

... we learn after all these years. But what about the reaction to "Sybil"?
Soon, “multiple personality disorder,” or MPD, became an officially recognized diagnosis, and a handful of cases exploded into 40,000 reported sufferers, nearly all of them female. The repressed-memory industry was born. Only in the last decade or so has the psychiatric profession begun to question the validity of Sybilmania.
Why weren't we — and all those doctors — much more skeptical all along? It was a ridiculously lurid story —"scenes of Sybil’s demented mother defecating on lawns, conducting lesbian orgies and raping her daughter with kitchen utensils." Why did we believe that? And what other hoaxes are we believing?

"I bought a 3,600-square-foot house when I was 19."

"My friends who would come over would wonder when my parents were coming home. 'No, they’re never coming home,' I said to them. 'This is mine.'"

Said Dan Schneider, who made his own money using his aptitude for business and management.  (It's a really cool interview at the link.)

"As your leader in the Senate of the United States, it is my bounden duty to tell you that this thing is about as popular as a crab in a whorehouse."

"You will split your own party if you insist on pursuing it. And, Mr. President, I do not think I myself will be able to support you on this ill-conceived scheme."

Said Everett Dirksen to Richard Nixon, according to "RN: The Memoirs of Richard Nixon."

"This thing" was affirmative action — the so-called "Philadelphia Plan" that "would require all contractors working on federally funded construction projects to pledge a good faith effort toward the goal of hiring a representative number of minority workers." Congressional conservatives "considered it heretical for a Republican President." Unions were also opposed: "George Meany hit the roof, charging that the administration was making the unions a whipping boy and trying to score 'brownie points' with civil rights groups."

In his memoir, Nixon expressed disappointment that he "received only lukewarm support from most of the national black leaders," who, he speculated, were "more interested in dramatic tokenism than in the hard fight for actual progress."

(Why am I posting this now? I just ran across it as I was preparing to begin teaching the affirmative action cases in Conlaw2 today. Coincidentally, the Wisconsin State Assembly Committee on Colleges and Universities is holding a hearing today on "the process for admissions at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In particular, the committee and speakers will focus on the findings contained in two studies by the Center for Equal Opportunity (CEO): 1.) Racial and Ethnic Preferences in Undergraduate Admissions at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.... 2.) Racial and Ethnic Preferences in Admissions at the University of Wisconsin Law School...")

Now that the Brewers have lost, are we supposed to be for Texas or St. Louis?

I've decided Texas, because, if Texas wins, at least George Bush will be happy.

"At the end of the day, you have to be bigger than politics."

It's Hillary Clinton, out there doing politics again.
“I'm really old-fashioned. I feel I have made my contribution," Clinton said. "I’m very grateful I’ve had a chance to serve, but I think it’s time for others to step up." Writing, teaching, and working on issues that affect women and girls will be in her future, Clinton assured NBC's Savannah Guthrie; that and relaxing at home.
Mmm. Yeah. So... that means she's running, right?
She praised Obama for doing “an excellent job under the most difficult circumstances.”
Yes. I see. 
Clinton attributed her current popularity simply to her two decades in the public eye. “Because I have been on the public consciousness for so long and on the television screens and people's homes, I think there is a comfort,” Clinton said.
Oh, there's comfort all right. Like I'm comfortable saying she's doing what she can right now to get to the presidency. It's a long, winding road. And right now, she's looking forward to helping women and girls...  relaxing at home... shall we say: baking cookies?

Rasmussen: Cain 43%, Obama 41%.

The latest poll.

Peace Mom.

Mom Peace Flag

A flag... seen at the peace march in Madison last Saturday.

"OccupyDC Emails Show MSM, Dylan Ratigan, Working With Protesters To Craft Message."

Dana Loesch reveals.
Big Journalism has learned that the Occupy Washington DC movement is working with well-known media members to craft its demands and messaging while these media members report on the movement. Someone has made the emails from the Occupy D.C. email distro public and searchable. The names in the list are a veritable who’s who in media....

In these emails we see MSNBC’s Ratigan, hawking his book in the footnotes, instructing occupiers on how properly to present their demands and messages while simultaneously appearing on television reporting “objectively” on the story (when he’s not taking part in the protests himself as content.)...

We know that the original movement was kicked off by a Soros-funded group called Adbusters; that union groups and radicals routinely overthrow leadership unfriendly to an occupation of the occupation (check out how Occupy St. Louis was hijacked by ACORN off-shoot MORE); and now we know that media, including MSNBC itself, is apparently helping occupiers better influence the public by both writing their messages and giving them a platform.
Here's the searchable data base.

Does the Stolen Valor Act violate free speech rights?

The Supreme Court has decided to answer that question in the case involving Xavier Alvarez, who was prosecuted for claiming — while running for office — that he'd won the Medal of Honor. The 9th Circuit overturned the conviction on First Amendment grounds.
Chief Judge Alex Kozinski... said people often tell lies about themselves in day-to-day social interactions. He said it would be "terrifying" if people could be prosecuted for merely telling lies....

"Parenting, I’ve come to understand, is about loving my child today. Now."

"In fact, for any parent, anywhere, that’s all there is."

"Publishers are terrified and don’t know what to do."

Amazon isn't just selling books — it's replacing the publishers. 
It has set up a flagship line run by a publishing veteran, Laurence Kirshbaum, to bring out brand-name fiction and nonfiction. It signed its first deal with the self-help author Tim Ferriss. Last week it announced a memoir by the actress and director Penny Marshall, for which it paid $800,000, a person with direct knowledge of the deal said.

Cornel West — protesting Citizens United — gets himself arrested on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Reported by Susan Brooks Thisltethwaite at the Washington Post's "On Faith" blog:
The Supreme Court was a fitting venue for this demonstration both to honor Dr. King and demonstrate solidarity with the #OWS (Occupy Wall Street) movement. As Dr. West said prior to being arrested, there is “a relation between corporate greed and what goes on too often in Supreme Court decisions.”

In Democracy Matters, West makes this point in far greater detail “(The) illicit marriage of corporate and political elites — so blatant and flagrant in our time — not only undermines the trust of informed citizens in those who rule over them. It also promotes the pervasive sleepwalking of the populace, who see that the false prophets are handsomely rewarded with money, status, and access to more power.” (p. 4)
How is that "far greater detail"? With no reference to Supreme Court at all, it seems like less detail. Or by "detail," did Ms. Thisltethwaite mean verbosity? Thisltethwaite continues:
Here’s the point: If you are content to think that corporations are people and money is speech, as the Supreme Court decided in the by a vote of 5-4, in their Citizens United v Federal Election Commission decision, then indeed you are sleepwalking through your citizenship and giving over your faith to false prophets.

I believe, when future accounts of this era are written, historians will judge that the wake up call for many people in America was in early 2010 with that Supreme Court decision. The winter of 2010 is what led to the #OWS demonstrations in the fall of 2011.
Can we as citizens accept this definition of person, and of speech? This is what Dr. West, by his action on the steps of the Supreme Court, is asking us to stop and ponder. Corporation as person? A soulless legal entity as human being? No. We can’t and we must not. As I have written before, God didn’t create corporations.
And God didn't create The Washington Post, which is a corporation. Could Congress criminalize WaPo's reporting about political candidates  in the 2-month period preceding an election? It would protect us from distorted ravings like yours, Ms. Thisltethwaite. What do you say? You must say yes! I mean, if you care about coherence. And I know you don't.
... Dr. West did not call for anger, he actually called for “deep love” in his remarks before his arrest, and he spoke his solidarity even with the police, those who were about to arrest him.

This is worthy of another jail, at another time. In 1963, Dr. King wrote, in his Letter from Birmingham Jail....

About those Guy Fawkes — V for Vendetta — masks.

I've paid some attention to them in my photographs from Wisconsin protests — here and here — and I see Instapundit is featuring a picture from the Occupy Wall Street affair. So what does it mean when the protesters of today wear that mask? Is it a sign of some nefarious terrorist element? (I've read the plot summary of "V for Vendetta.") Or is it just the generic disguise these days, like those dumb "Scream" masks a few years ago or the sheet-with-eye-holes ghost costume from back in the days when kids made their own costumes?

I'm thinking it's the generic disguise. Today, I went to my Amazon Associates page and here's the collection of things Amazon thinks I might want to link to:



I poke around a bit and see that the V for Vendetta Mask is the #1 item on Amazon's Best Sellers in Novelty & Special Use Clothing. It's beating out the Where's Waldo, the Harry Potter, and the Full Body Spandex Suit.

"[T]he naked figure in the model’s limited repertoire of poses gets kind of repetitious after a while..."

"... while all the variously clothed forms of the drawers in all their natural attitudes are endlessly fascinating. And the opportunity to draw Doug’s hairy leg is worth it all."

Have you done enough figure drawing to know this feeling? I have!

By the way, I love the use of the word "drawers" when the topic is nakedness... and the use of the word "naked" instead of the formal "nude." (I've already discussed the nude/naked distinction at some length — "at some length" seem so wrong! — here.)

"Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain has cast himself as the outsider, the pizza magnate with real-world experience..."

"... But Cain's economic ideas, support and organization have close ties to two billionaire brothers who bankroll right-leaning causes through their group Americans for Prosperity."
Cain's campaign manager and a number of aides have worked for Americans for Prosperity, or AFP, the advocacy group founded with support from billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, which lobbies for lower taxes and less government regulation and spending. Cain credits a businessman who served on an AFP advisory board with helping devise his "9-9-9" plan to rewrite the nation's tax code. And his years of speaking at AFP events have given the businessman and radio host a network of loyal grassroots fans.

"Uh, officer... Leave those kids alone... I want them to vote for me."



A juxtaposition at Drudge right now, linking to a Financial Times article titled "Obama extends support for protesters." Excerpt:
On Sunday, Mr Obama honoured Martin Luther King at a dedication to a new memorial on National Mall in Washington. Referring to protests that have spread from Wall Street to London, Rome and elsewhere, Mr Obama said: “Dr King would want us to challenge the excesses of Wall Street without demonising those who work there.” Mr Obama had previously said the protests “express the frustration” of ordinary Americans with the financial sector.
So that's what counts as "more support"? It sounds to me as though he's undermining the message of the protesters who are demonizing the Wall Street crowd. Of course, he's got lots of friends among the demons, but he wants the protest kids to feel like they're his friends too. If only they would see how we all need each other, then peace will guide the planets, and love will steer the stars.

October 16, 2011

"Demands are disempowering since they require someone else to respond."

"It’s not like we couldn’t come up with any, but I don’t think people would vote for them."

"War Appropriations/The Bottomless Pit."





At yesterday's peace march.

"The world is starved for love."



Young girl with a sign at the peace march, yesterday, in Madison.

"I have the facts to back this up... I am the 99%."



(A protester in Madison, yesterday.)

At the Protest Dog Café...



... you can talk about anything you want. Including the Brewers game, which is what we're talking about here at Meadhouse.

UPDATE: Sadness at Meadhouse. It was not to be.

15 race cars crash...

... the video.

"2 dots of ink from a Belgian cartoonist’s pen can express more wit and artistry..."

"... than £82 million of the best 3D special effects Hollywood can conjure."

"Ignore me. Go shopping."



A sign at yesterday's peace march.

Herman Cain nailed "Meet the Press."

In my opinion, and I was quite critical of Cain after the last debate. Here's the transcript and video. I'll add a few comments to this post soon.

ADDED: I thought David Gregory really lost his cool early on, as he was questioning Cain about 9-9-9. If you watch the video, you can see he's agitated and grimacing in a way that really lacks the usual polished journalist quality. To excerpt the transcript bits that hint of this attitude:
The reality of the plan is that some people pay more, some people pay less.... You're saying [prices] actually go down?... This isn't about behavior, Mr. Cain, this is about whether you pay--if you don't pay taxes now, and you now have income tax and a sales tax, you pay more in taxes.... Mr. Cain, we talked to independent analysts ourselves.... We're not just reading newspaper clips here...  They tell us, they've looked at this, based on what's available of the plan, and it's incontrovertible.
Gregory's experts are incontrovertible? What kind of a question is that? How does Cain deal with this barrage of disbelief from Gregory? He stands his ground and explains his program:
Some people will pay more, but most people would pay less is my argument.... Who will pay more?  The people who spend more money on new goods. The sales tax only applies to people who buy new goods, not used goods....
This discussion got me thinking about the positive side of switching to sales tax. With a progressive income tax, the political process sets different percentages for different income levels, so, for example, the majority can vote jack up the taxes on other people — "the rich" — and those other people can work on extracting various exemptions and credits and so forth in an elaborate, inscrutable government system. With a sales tax, you control what you pay through your shopping decisions. Every time you forgo a purchase or buy used goods — and isn't that good for the environment? — you pay no tax. And every time you choose smaller amounts or cheaper goods, you pay less tax. Now, you have various needs that you have to meet, but you have far more control, and you aren't at the mercy of the ever-ongoing machinations of the political process.

My point is: After the debate last week, I was thinking about the negative aspects of the sales tax, but as he was talking about it on "Meet the Press" today, I felt open-minded about the potential benefits. And that was while Gregory was going for the jugular.

MORE: Gregory asked about the Occupy Wall Street movement: "Do you empathize, as the president does, with the message of those Wall Street protesters?" Gregory invites him to express empathy, a concept Obama has actively promoted (which Gregory prompts us to recall). Cain homes in on the premise that there is a message and proceeds right to criticism of Obama:
What is their message?  That's what's unclear.  If that message is, "Let's punish the rich," I don't empathize with that message.  They should be protesting the White House.  The White House has basically enacted failed economic policies.  The White House and the Democrats have spent $1 trillion that did not work.  Now the president wants to pass another $450 billion. They have their frustrations directed at the wrong group.  That's what I'm saying. 
Nice clarity and brevity and excellent sharp perception of the opportunity in the question asked.

AND: Gregory confronted him with an extreme statement he made back in February: "The objective of the liberals is to destroy this country" and followed up with a pointed "You think liberals actually seek to do that, that that's their mission, to destroy the economy?"

Cain stood his ground: "It is their mission.  Because they do not believe in a stronger America, in my opinion. Yes."

Gregory let it go at that and moved on to another one of Cain's presumably insufficiently thoughtful statements: "You've also said that stupid people are ruining America.... Who exactly are you talking about?"
MR. CAIN:  People who are uninformed.  People who will not look at an alternate idea.  People who are so dug in with partisanship and partisan politics.  Open-mindedness is what's going to save this country.  The reason that my message is appealing is because it's simple and people can understand it.  You know, a good idea transcends party politics...
Somehow, the next question on Gregory's list was: "Is race a factor in this campaign?" Obviously, Cain's answer is going to be no. I'm more interested in why Gregory jumped from "stupid people" to race. Gregory next displays the new Newsweek cover, which calls Cain "the Anti-Obama," and starts to put together a question: "You've actually talked a bit about race, though, and you've created a contrast between yourself and your experience as an African-American, a term you don't like, by the way."

So suddenly the topic is the terminology of race: African-American or black American, which Cain prefers. Gregory asks why. Cain says:
Because my roots go back through slavery in this country.  Yes, they came from Africa, but the roots of my heritage are in the United States of America.  So I consider myself a black American.
That's a very rich statement. Slavery is a heritage. But Gregory goes for the implicit distinction between Cain and Obama: "So you draw some distinction between yourself and your experiences as a black man in America and the experience of President Obama."

Cain says:
Absolutely.  I came from very humble beginnings.  My mother was a maid, my father was a barber and janitor and a chauffeur.  We, we had to, we had to learn--do things the old-fashioned way.  We had to work for it.  I--my parents never saw themselves as a victim, so I didn't learn how to be a victim.  I didn't have anything given to me.  I had to work very hard in order to be able to go to school and work my way through school....
Notice how simply and vividly he struck a chord — the classic black American experience — and made it resonate for anyone who works for living. There is a quality of nobility, that fits with the idea of heritage. Gregory is at a complete loss, I think, to do anything with this:
MR. GREGORY:  You actually said President Obama's outside the mainstream.  So you're making a different, more of a social cultural background distinction between you and the president.

MR. CAIN:  More experiential.  Look at his experiences vs. my experiences. It was more at a contrast of experiential differences than anything else.

MR. GREGORY:  Let's talk about foreign policy...
YET MORE: I liked the way, when asked to name his model for the ideal Supreme Court justice, he focused on Clarence Thomas:
I believe that Justice Clarence Thomas, despite all of the attacks that he gets from the left, he basically rules and makes his decisions, in my opinion, based upon the Constitution and solid legal thinking. Justice Clarence Thomas is one of my models.

MR. GREGORY: Has he been targeted unfairly, you think?

MR. CAIN: I think he has been targeted unfairly.
Gregory declines to follow up about what the unfairness was. He moves on to the topic of Cain's wife Gloria, who's been invisible so far. He gave a lovely explanation:
My wife and I, we have a family life, and she is maintaining the calmness and the tranquility of that family life so, when I do get a day off of the campaign trail, I can go home and enjoy my family.
She's his wife, not America's wife. Home is a refuge. That's a good traditionalist message.