May 12, 2012

"I think they would stop calling me white girl if there were white kids... "

"Because my skin is a little lighter and I can’t dance, they call me that. Some of them can’t dance, either.... I could talk the way I talk.... They will say to me, ‘You are so white.’ I tell them, I have two black parents. Do I look white?... I speak a bit more freelance with my friends. Not full sentences. I don’t use big words. They hate it when I do that."

At the Explore Charter School in Brooklyn, there aren't too many white kids.

"Travolta would always request a man for his massage, but after a while no one would take him because of his inappropriate behavior..."

"It got to the point where they couldn’t find any men to take him, and they had to ban him..."
[Michael] Caputo, 55, said male staffers complained about Travolta removing his towel, grinding against the massage table and lifting his butt in the air.

An inquiry into the 3 times Obama called people "faceless" in "Dreams From My Father."

"Dreams From My Father" is, according to its subtitle "A Story of Race and Inheritance," and this post is a story of facelessness — a bloggish riff undertaken without any particular goal in mind. I'd been struck yesterday by Obama's use of the word "faceless" to describe the children who, long ago, surrounded him in the playground and, with a bit of mockery, inspired him to shove the little black girl Coretta.

My search for facelessness was not as long nor as painstaking as Obama's search for his father's dreams. I have the Kindle edition of "Dreams," and I did a word search. I found 2 other appearances of  "faceless." Here is the first one, from his college days as Occidental.
There were enough of us [black students] on campus to constitute a tribe, and when it came to hanging out many of us chose to function like a tribe, staying close together, traveling in packs....

I had stumbled upon one of the well-kept secrets about black people: that most of us weren’t interested in revolt; that most of us were tired of thinking about race all the time; that if we preferred to keep to ourselves it was mainly because that was the easiest way to stop thinking about it, easier than spending all your time mad or trying to guess whatever it was that white folks were thinking about you.
By the way, in the section about Coretta, his reaction to his own behavior is to avoid other people. (He describes this passively: "I was left mostly alone.") He goes home after school, does his homework, and watches a lot of television while eating "the latest snack food" with "Gramps." Obama describes himself as "[n]ested in the soft, forgiving bosom of America’s consumer culture" where he "felt safe. " It was "as if I had dropped into a long hibernation."

Back to the college scene:
So why couldn’t I let it go?

I don’t know. I didn’t have the luxury, I suppose, the certainty of the tribe.... I hadn’t grown up in Compton, or Watts. I had nothing to escape from except my own inner doubt. I was more like the black students who had grown up in the suburbs, kids whose parents had already paid the price of escape. You could spot them right away by the way they talked, the people they sat with in the cafeteria.

When pressed, they would sputter and explain that they refused to be categorized. They weren’t defined by the color of their skin, they would tell you. They were individuals.
Note the potential sarcasm in the use of the word "individuals." Individuality is the opposite of facelessness.
That’s how Joyce liked to talk.
 Uh-oh. Here she comes. It's Joyce. Is she real? Is she concocted? Is she composite and compressed? 
She was a good-looking woman, Joyce was, with her green eyes and honey skin and pouty lips. We lived in the same dorm my freshman year, and all the brothers were after her. One day I asked her if she was going to the Black Students’ Association meeting. She looked at me funny, then started shaking her head like a baby who doesn’t want what it sees on the spoon.

“I’m not black,” Joyce said. “I’m multiracial.”
Do you believe there was really a Joyce who talked like this — so disgustingly disgusted? It doesn't matter. She's a literary device. She's a stereotype — the stereotype of the person who thinks she's an individual.
Then she started telling me about her father, who happened to be Italian and was the sweetest man in the world; and her mother, who happened to be part African and part French and part Native American and part something else. “Why should I have to choose between them?” she asked me. Her voice cracked, and I thought she was going to cry. “It’s not white people who are making me choose. Maybe it used to be that way, but now they’re willing to treat me like a person. No—it’s black people who always have to make everything racial. They’re the ones making me choose. They’re the ones who are telling me that I can’t be who I am….” They, they, they.

That was the problem with people like Joyce. They talked about the richness of their multicultural heritage and it sounded real good, until you noticed that they avoided black people. It wasn’t a matter of conscious choice, necessarily, just a matter of gravitational pull, the way integration always worked, a one-way street. The minority assimilated into the dominant culture, not the other way around.
Have reporters located this "Joyce" person who embodied exactly what he needed a character to embody at this point in the memoir? Or is she really Barack Obama, in the guise of a beautiful lady after whom all the "brothers" lusted?
Only white culture could be neutral and objective. Only white culture could be nonracial, willing to adopt the occasional exotic into its ranks. 
I wonder if that last sentence expresses what he thinks of himself now, about Americans having voted him into the presidency: He's the occasional exotic the white culture adopted.
Only white culture had individuals. And we, the half-breeds...
Half-breed! That's all I ever heard!
... and the college-degreed, take a survey of the situation and think to ourselves, Why should we get lumped in with the losers if we don’t have to? We become only so grateful to lose ourselves in the crowd, America’s happy, faceless marketplace...
The marketplace, where you can hibernate in the forgiving bosom of America’s consumer culture. Notice the flip: If you think of yourself as an individual, paradoxically, you'll melt into the crowd. You'll be faceless.
... and we’re never so outraged as when a cabbie drives past us or the woman in the elevator clutches her purse, not so much because we’re bothered by the fact that such indignities are what less fortunate coloreds have to put up with every single day of their lives—although that’s what we tell ourselves—but because we’re wearing a Brooks Brothers suit and speak impeccable English and yet have somehow been mistaken for an ordinary nigger.

Don’t you know who I am? I’m an individual!
This is a vicious rejection of the desire to be seen as an individual. He equates it to the subordination of black people. Individuality is a con. If you fall for it, you might imagine yourself to be happy and special, but you are really faceless. You've been duped by — by whom? — the "marketplace"? The "consumer culture"? But Obama's truth is: To have identity, you must identify with your identity group.

The final use of the word "faceless," comes up in Chicago as he interacts with a character — composite? — he calls Ruby.  She was a woman in the community he was trying to "organize." As he describes it, she has a lack of self-esteem borne of racial subordination.
If the language, the humor, the stories of ordinary people were the stuff out of which families, communities, economies would have to be built, then I couldn’t separate that strength from the hurt and distortions that lingered inside us. And it was the implications of that fact, I realized, that had most disturbed me when I looked into Ruby’s eyes. 
Ruby has eyes and therefore a face, but she exists in the book to embody a component of a larger entity that needs to "be built." That's what community organizing is: Getting individuals to find identity as a component of the whole. They are "the stuff out of which" things are "built."
The stories that I had been hearing from the leadership, all the records of courage and sacrifice and of great odds, hadn’t simply arisen from struggles with pestilence or drought, or even mere poverty. They had arisen out of a very particular experience with hate. That hate hadn’t gone away; it formed a counternarrative buried deep within each person and at the center of which stood white people—some cruel, some ignorant, sometimes a single face, sometimes just a faceless image of a system claiming power over our lives. I had to ask myself whether the bonds of community could be restored without collectively exorcising that ghostly figure that haunted black dreams. Could Ruby love herself without hating blue eyes?
He "looked into Ruby’s eyes" and he was "disturbed," because he saw "buried" inside her a "ghostly" white person. Looking back out of Ruby's eyes were the blue eyes of that white person, who sometimes had no face at all... and maybe wasn't even a person, but "a system." For the Rubys of Chicago to suffice as the raw material — "the stuff" — out of which the larger entity could "be built," that blue-eyed/faceless white person/system would need to be exorcised.

Notice the connection between facelessness and ghostliness. In yesterday's post — about the incident with the faceless white kids in the playground — I said "It's like he's sleepwalking in ghost world, where human beings are apparitions." And now, I'm seeing that he goes on to say: "For the rest of the afternoon, I was haunted by the look on Coretta’s face...." Faces haunt him.

In the Ruby incident, he speaks of a ghost haunting dreams, and "dreams" is the key word in the book: He's searching for dreams from his father. The good dreams, the dreams he seeks, are the dreams of the black side of his genetic heritage. He would like to exorcise the white component, which is oppressing him, or maybe not really him, but all those other black people with whom he needs to ally — alliance, as opposed to the fraud of being an individual — so he can build something, build something out of the people who have been turned into good building blocks by having the whiteness within extracted.

By conceptualizing a white person buried inside the subordinated black person — Ruby — Obama has found a way to think of all black people as needing the process that he — the half-black person — felt he needed.

Who are these people — Coretta, Joyce, and Ruby? Are they all really Barack, projected onto a female alter ego? He's created faces of females — each time in a context of faceless ghost characters. Who are they... and who is this mysterious man who revealed himself in this haunted-dreams book that we all feel we've almost read, but never very closely? He went on to become that face...



... the face that drew us in.

"Julia" was the Democratic Party's "attempt to make singlehood cool and fresh and new..."

"... in an attempt to court [the single woman] demographic."

Yeah, I know: an "attempt... in an attempt" — it's sloppy writing. In the WaPo (by Jessica Gavora, but I'm linking anyway.
[Julia] is the Democrats’ answer to Romney’s family Christmas card. A nation of women on their own, after all, doesn’t relate very well to fecund portraits of smiling white moms and dads with kids and golden retrievers underfoot. With her spare, faceless affect, Julia is meant to evoke a more modern, independent sensibility — with the exception of her life of endless government dependency, that is.
Faceless! That word came up on the blog yesterday, as we talked about Obama's bullying of the schoolgirl "Coretta." He described the other children — the ones whose chanting caused him to turn on the girl – as "faceless." (They were silhouetted by the sun.)

There are 2 other appearances of the word "faceless" in "Dreams From My Father." But this is going to require a separate post. Just talk about "Julia" here. In the next post, I'm going to tell you about "Joyce."

"Mitt Romney was not at Chappaquiddick. Mitt Romney has not been accused of rape. "

"Mitt Romney did not have an affair with a mob babe. He didn't have an affair with an actress who committed suicide later on. Mitt Romney did not father a child out of wedlock. Mitt Romney did not support the tapping of Martin Luther King's phone. Mitt Romney was never a member of the Ku Klux Klan. Mitt Romney did not lie about his law school grades."

That's Rush Limbaugh, pithily dramatizing the media's double standard.

May 11, 2012

At the Forest Path Café...

Untitled

... you can find your way.

"For my own part I always spell so with lots of f’s and g’s and such like tailey, twirley, loopey things, when my heart is in the tender vein."

Wrote H.G. Wells, who wondered why people "do not grumble more at having to spell correctly" — quoted in this review of "The Language Wars: A History of Proper English." (Which I just bought.)

"Why Gay Rights May Be President Obama’s Biggest Legacy."

Don't tell me. Because everything else is so small?

George Clooney's big party for Obama in a tent — not in his house — on his basketball court.

WaPo reports:
“We raised a lot of money because everybody loves George. They like me, they love him. And rightfully so. Not only is he an unbelievable actor, but he is one of those rare individuals who is at ease with everybody. He seems to occupy a constant state of grace, and uses his extraordinary talents on behalf of something truly important.”
Clooney listened intently to the president throughout, his hands folded as if in prayer and his chin resting on them.
His famous chin. Surely, prayers prayed with hands rested upon that chin are answered.

Psychiatrists exhibit cold feet syndrome.

"In a rare step, doctors on a panel revising psychiatry’s influential diagnostic manual have backed away from two controversial proposals that would have expanded the number of people identified as having psychotic or depressive disorders."

Travolta "has been through this so many times before ... he's been photographed kissing other men..."

"... and for some reason, people just don't care."

Michele Bachman renounces her Swiss citizenship "to make it perfectly clear: I was born in America and I am a proud American citizen."

"I am, and always have been, 100% committed to our United States constitution and the United States of America."

Catching up on the news about Elizabeth Warren.

1. "The University of Pennsylvania, where Warren worked from 1987 to 1994, listed her as a minority in a 'Minority Equity Report.'  The report comes after Harvard Law School claimed Warren as a diversity hire in 1996."

2. "There is nothing left of the claim that Elizabeth Warren is 1/32 Cherokee. The documentary sources have been debunked, and the genealogist and genealogical society which originated the story and upon whom the Warren campaign relies are not talking."

3. As for Warren, she says: "I feel like Scott Brown is raising ugly insinuations and I think he is doing it because he doesn’t want to talk about what is happening to Americas families. Middle class families are getting hammered and 72 hours ago Scott Brown voted to hammer them harder. And that is what this campaign should be about. Whose side do you stand on?"

4. Meanwhile: "Ben Affleck, Matt Damon to host Warren fundraiser."

"‘New York University' Is Added to China’s List of Banned Internet Search Terms."

"Last week, NYU’s law school offered the blind civil-rights lawyer Chen Guangcheng a visiting-scholar position.... Other terms banned... include Mr. Chen’s name, and more than a dozen nicknames for him such as 'sunglasses brother'...."

How do they know the surfer's wave was 78 feet high?

It breaks the 2008 record by 1 foot. 1 foot?! Who does these measurements and how? 
Judges for the awards, considered the official arbiters of big-wave surfing, pored over footage and high-resolution still images from several angles to calculate a more accurate estimate....

They used McNamara’s height in a crouch and the length of his shin bone to help compare it to the wave’s top and bottom....
The measurement is reported in feet, but it's measured in shin bones.

Barrett-supporting filmmaker releases a ridiculous lopped off video of Scott Walker saying "divide and conquer."

You would think after the firings over the badly edited George Zimmerman 911 audio that a journalist who cared about his professional reputation would resist putting out material like what we're seeing coming from Brad Lichtenstein, a documentary filmmaker (who has contributed to Tom Barrett, Governor Walker's opponent in the recall election). The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:
In the video shot on Jan. 18, 2011 - shortly before Walker's controversial budget-repair bill was introduced and spawned mass protests - [Walker donor Diane] Hendricks... told Walker she wanted to discuss "controversial" subjects away from reporters, asking him:

"Any chance we'll ever get to be a completely red state and work on these unions -"

"Oh, yeah," Walker broke in.

"- and become a right-to-work?" Hendricks continued. "What can we do to help you?"

"Well, we're going to start in a couple weeks with our budget adjustment bill," Walker said. "The first step is we're going to deal with collective bargaining for all public employee unions, because you use divide and conquer."
You've got to watch the video clip at the link to hear how starkly it's cut in the middle of a sentence. Very inflammatory. Fortunately, the Journal Sentinel reporters were able to get access to the raw footage:
"So for us," the governor continues, "the base we get for that is the fact that we've got - budgetarily we can't afford not to. If we have collective bargaining agreements in place, there's no way not only the state but local governments can balance things out. . . . That opens the door once we do that. That's your bigger problem right there."

He goes on to talk about curbing liability lawsuits and government regulations.
The inflammation goes away when you let Walker natter on. (Also at the link is new video from Walker stating, today, that he's not seeking right-to-work legislation.)
Lichtenstein said he did not accept any funding for his film from labor or Democratic groups in filming his documentary because of the ethical standards required by the Public Broadcasting Service, which is expected to air the film in the fall, getting his funding instead from groups like The MacArthur Foundation and the Sheldon and Marianne Lubar Family Foundation.

"I have no political agenda with the film and I'm not releasing the trailer to have a political impact in Wisconsin," Lichtenstein said Friday.
Really? Why did you edit the clip like that?
Lichtenstein said he was still talking with his lawyer about a request by the Journal Sentinel to allow the newspaper to post the raw footage of the Walker comments. Reporters for the newspaper have been able to review the raw footage and make a transcript of it to get the context of the conversation.
Pathetic. Still talking with his lawyer. Put up the full clip. You are serving a political agenda. Shame on the Public Broadcasting Service.

Squirrel for lunch? Again?

It's the UW hawk cam. Happening now.

(It was almost precisely this time yesterday that momma hawk flew in with a fresh-killed squirrel.)

Romney and Obama — the leader of the bullies and the follower.

The Washington Post is doubling down on its Romney-the-bully story, with multiple columns today dragging the story out, but let's focus on faux-earnest angsting from Ruth Marcus over the "troubling" story:
So how to think about The Post’s story of Romney and the purportedly gay prep school classmate he bullied? Recklessness is a common side-effect of adolescence — drinking too much, driving too fast. Meannesss is another matter. Yes, teenager are more prone to displaying the primal cruelty of “Mean Girls” and “Lord of the Flies” than their grown-up selves. But the Queen Bees of middle school have an unpleasant tendency to grow into the Real Housewives of Wherever.

Romney’s reported leadership in the episode; his merciless wielding of the scissors to snip off the bleached-blond hair that seemingly so offended his sense of propriety, his continuing cuts in the face of John Lauber’s cries for help — these do not speak well of him. 
Now,  yesterday, when we first looked at this story, I brought up the anecdote in Obama's "Dreams From My Father," in which Obama had "found" himself in the playground horsing around with a "plump and dark" girl named Coretta who "didn’t seem to have many friends." Suddenly, he saw that he was surrounded by "a group of children," whom he describes as "faceless." (This is a literary conceit: Of course, the children had faces, but from his perspective, with "the glare of the sun" behind them, they appeared faceless.) The children chanted "Coretta has a boyfriend!," and Obama "stammered" “She’s not my g-girlfriend,” and then — as the chants continued and poor Coretta stared downward — he shouted "I’m not her boyfriend!" Then he "ran up to Coretta and gave her a slight shove," causing her to "stagger[]" back and look at him. He shouted at the poor girl: "Leave me alone!"
And suddenly Coretta was running, faster and faster, until she disappeared from sight. Appreciative laughs rose around me. Then the bell rang, and the teachers appeared to round us back into class.
Obama was an abject follower, who responded to chants, and gained the reward of "appreciative chants." As an adult, looking back, his descriptions drip with weird passivity. There's zero will involved in his playing with the girl. He simply "found" himself with her. Then the group of "faceless" children were there, then Coretta "disappeared," and then "teachers appeared." It's like he's sleepwalking in ghost world, where human beings are apparitions.

Ruth Marcus says "You want to imagine your future president in the role of the wise-for-his-years leader who intervenes to calm the howling mob of his more foolish peers." Yes, it would be better if Romney's role in boyhood bullying had been to apply his leadership tendency for the good. But Obama's role in boyhood bullying was as a follower of the bullies — responding to the "howling mob."

Let's talk about the "Are You Mom Enough?" Time magazine cover.

Alexandra Petra has a WaPo column titled "Time magazine and our mommy porn fixation", and I'm going to make you click through to it if you want to look at the cover, because if you're going to call that cover "mommy porn," why isn't it also child porn? I'm not going to display the picture here.

(It's a 5 or 6 year old boy sucking on the naked breast of an adult woman.)

ADDED: How old is that child actually? This article says it's "26-year-old mother Jamie Lynne Grumet" with "her near-four-year-old son." Sorry, he looked older to me. I guess the breast milk is promoting growth... or maybe she's tiny.
Ms Grumet told Time she also breastfeeds Aram's five-year-old adopted brother, Samuel, and recalls how she was breastfed by her own mother until the age of six.
So there you have it. Breastfeeding not just for infants and toddlers, but for children who have surpassed toddlerhood. As for the child porn/pedophilia issue I've raised (in response to Petra's rhetoric):
"There are people who tell me they're going to call social services on me or that it's child molestation," Ms Grumet tells Time. "People have to realise this is biologically normal. It's not socially normal. The more people see it, the more it'll become normal in our culture."

WaPo highlights a child's delight in discovering 2 males having sex.

It's horseshoe crab mating time in Delaware.
The arthropod orgy was well underway when Breanne Preisen trudged over the low dune onto the narrow beach, where tens of thousands of horseshoe crabs were getting down to the age-old business of reproduction.

“There’s a female,” Preisen said, pointing at one of the peculiar sea-things crawling along an undeveloped stretch of the Delaware Bay shoreline. “She has a male attached to her.”

Preisen inspected the cluster of horseshoe crabs more closely, then corrected herself: “Two males!” She smiled.
Of course, she smiled. The young girl has been properly educated and enlightened, and The Washington Post approves.

Many years ago, I was a young girl in Delaware, and I found 2 horseshoe crabs and was delighted that they were "attached" — the word I used — to each other. I had no idea what sex they were or, in fact, that they were having sex. If I had realized what they were doing, I wouldn't have grabbed the tail of the one in back and dragged the fucking couple along with me.

"Wisconsin Senate: Thompson (R) 50%, Baldwin (D) 38%."

A new Rasmussen poll.

Only 5% support "some other candidate," which is — I think — awfully bad news for the younger, more crisply conservative candidate Eric Hovde (whom Rasmussen doesn't even mention).

It's also bad news for Baldwin — and I think, for Democrats generally — as Baldwin had been closing in on Thompson last month, getting her percentage up to 44. I'm tempted to speculate about the Walker recall election, which is the main thing we've been hearing about in Wisconsin in the last month. Baldwin's losing so much ground in that last few weeks might suggest that Walker's message is resonating.

ADDED: Hovde's campaign released an internal poll, conducted by North Star Opinion Research from May 6-8, showing Hovde gaining strongly on Thompson since February 7-9, when his name recognition was 27%. It's now 71%. (Thompson's is 100%.) In the earlier poll, Hovde got only 1% of the vote in a ballot test in which Thompson got 38%. In the new poll, Thompson has fallen to 30%, and Hovde is up to 27%. Hovde's Favorable/Unfavorable is 53/5, and Thompson's is 78/18.

"Objects characteristic of business environments, such as briefcases and boardroom tables, make people more competitive..."

"... less cooperative, and less generous. Smells matter too: mere exposure to the scent of an all-purpose cleaner makes people keep their environment cleaner while they eat. In both cases, people were not consciously aware of the effect of the cue on their behavior. Or consider this one: people’s judgments about strangers are affected by whether they are drinking iced coffee or hot coffee! Those given iced coffee are more likely to see other people as more selfish, less sociable, and, well, colder than those who are given hot coffee. This, too, happens quite unconsciously."

From Cass Sunstein and Richard H. Thaler, "Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness" (p. 71). From section of the chapter titled "Following the Herd," which deals with "priming," one of the influences on human behavior that government can figure out how to use.

***

I was searching through my ebook of "Nudge" today after writing that post about offering drug-addicted women $300 to get themselves sterilized. Offering money is the crudest way to incentivize behavior you don't want to compel (or can't — ethically or legally — compel), and I was interested in whether Sunstein and Thaler talked about sterilization. They don't, but they do talk about deterring pregnancy:
Teenage girls who see that other teenagers are having children are more likely to become pregnant themselves. Obesity is contagious. If your best friends get fat, your risk of gaining weight goes up.... (Page 55.)
Teenage pregnancy is a serious problem for many girls, and those who have one child, at (say) eighteen, often become pregnant again within a year or two. Several cities, including Greensboro, North Carolina, have experimented with a “dollar a day” program, by which teenage girls with a baby receive a dollar for each day in which they are not pregnant. Thus far the results have been extremely promising. A dollar a day is a trivial cost to the city, even for a year or two, so the plan’s total cost is extremely low, but the small recurring payment is salient enough to encourage teenage mothers to take steps to avoid getting pregnant again. And because taxpayers end up paying a significant amount for many children born to teenagers, the costs appear to be far less than the benefits. Many people are touting “dollar a day” as a model program for helping reduce teenage pregnancies. (Surely there are more such programs to be invented. Consider that a nudge to think of one.) (Page 234.)
Consider that a nudge to think of one? Are you nudged to rethink free birth control?

ADDED: The notion that hot coffee makes people less selfish and more "sociable" reminds me of the Coffee Party. Remember that? The liberal answer to the Tea Party.

"Backlash Poll: Obama Trails Romney 7%."

Drudge headline in shocking red, linking to the new Rasmussen poll:
The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Friday shows Mitt Romney earning 50% of the vote and President Obama attracting 43% support. Four percent (4%) would vote for a third party candidate, while another three percent (3%) are undecided....

This is the first time Romney has reached the 50% level of support and is his largest lead ever over the president. It comes a week after a disappointing jobs report that raised new questions about the state of the economy....
It comes after Obama embraced same-sex marriage. I would think that was the most notable thing. But maybe people are focused (like a laser beam!) on the economy. They should be!

Paying drug-addicted women $300 to get themselves sterilized.

Project Prevention.
"I think it's really important for people to understand that the majority of women we sterilize are women who have had multiple children and don't want anymore," [said Barbara Harris, founder of the program]. "It's their decision."

"And to say, 'Let's go ahead and let them keep having babies because one day they might decide to clean up and keep one?' It's just not fair," she said. "And it's preventable."

Harris said that the last 20 women she paid to get sterilized had been pregnant a total of 121 times.

Is this good? Is this ethical?
  
pollcode.com free polls 

May 10, 2012

"While it’s great to listen to your kids’ ideas, there’s also a time when dads simply need to be dads."

"In this case, it would’ve been helpful for him to explain to Malia and Sasha that while her friends parents are no doubt lovely people, that’s not a reason to change thousands of years of thinking about marriage. Or that — as great as her friends may be — we know that in general kids do better growing up in a mother/father home. Ideally, fathers help shape their kids’ worldview."

Said Bristol Palin.

Bloodhounds, beagles, and a ferret search mobster's backyard for famous paintings.

The paintings by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Degas and Manet are worth more than a half-billion dollars.

The mobster's wife says "They’re treating him like a dog." A dog. Not a ferret.

A neighbor said that if Gentile had buried a half-billion-dollar’s worth of art in his backyard, “there would have been scuttlebutt... Things get around, no matter how tight lipped you are.”

Here's some background on that art heist (which happened in 1990):

John Edwards wanted Obama to nominate him to the Supreme Court.

Said Leo Hindrey, Edwards’ economic policy adviser, testifying that after Obama won the Iowa caucuses, Edwards ready to give up, wanted Hindery to "to reach out to the Obama campaign and make clear his availability on the ticket" and "We talked about a more elaborate goal of Mr. Edwards, which was to be a Supreme Court justice."

"Obama is lying when he says he didn’t raise taxes on people making less than $250,000.”

An inherent implication, Jonathan Cohn concedes, after promoting the argument that the individual mandate is supported by the taxing power.

"15 Genuinely Interesting Things About Rob Portman."

Hey, that stuff really is interesting.

And let me add #16:

16. Meade once ran into him on a biking trail, and he was doing something with something in a tree, and he just very gregariously explained to Meade that someone had lost a mitten and he was just putting it in the tree hoping I'm putting it in a place where whoever lost it will see it. Meade rode on thinking "What a good guy."

"And when people would stare, Christian would start giggling..."

"... and they would giggle too. People started finding me on Facebook... or recognizing Christian from hearing about him... People started telling me how Christian inspired them."

Lunch is squirrel!

Both hawks are with the babies now, and lunch is served... at the UW hawk cam.

Walker 50%, Barrett 45%.

A new Rasmussen poll of likely voters.
Both candidates draw overwhelming support from voters in their respective parties. Walker holds a 51% to 43% lead over Barrett among voters not affiliated with either political party. Men prefer Walker by a 58% to 40% margin, while women favor Barrett 50% to 43%....
IN THE COMMENTS: jeffmacguy asks:
[C]an someone with some Wisconsin insight please tell me how these people are going to react when Walker wins big? I mean, I know their heads won't literally explode, but I suspect some of the folks who were unhinged during last years sit-ins will react poorly when they realize that there's nothing they can do. 
I believe a process of pre-closure is already very far along. I think a year ago, people were cranked up over the potential for a recall, and there were some satisfying steps along the way: initiating the petition drive, collecting signatures, filing "over a million" signatures, getting 900,000+ signatures declared valid, and  — the climax — getting the recall election certified.

Since then, it's been kind of a drag. Kathleen Falk's pledge to the unions pulled her down. The Blandness of Barrett moved in and caused everyone to understand he was inevitable. I think people stopped putting so much of a stake in the ultimate outcome. They see the defeat coming, not surely yet, but looming in the near distance. They're prepared.

Ah, well, we fought long and hard. We had the glory of the battle. We didn't let Walker have his way without a fight. We called him to account. We made him uneasy. We achieved our goals. The recall election itself was the moral victory. Barrett would not have been able to change anything anyway. Better to be on the outside, criticizing Walker, than to witness Barrett's incapacity to undo Walker's damage. 

They will turn away, hiding their disappointment and saying: "The grapes are sour, and not as ripe as I thought."

The day after Obama evolved, WaPo rolls out a Romney-bullied-a-gay-guy story.

This supposedly happened in high school in 1965:
John Lauber, a soft-spoken new student one year behind Romney, was perpetually teased for his nonconformity and presumed homosexuality. Now he was walking around the all-boys school with bleached-blond hair that draped over one eye, and Romney wasn’t having it.

“He can’t look like that. That’s wrong. Just look at him!” an incensed Romney told Matthew Friedemann, his close friend in the Stevens Hall dorm, according to Friedemann’s recollection....

A few days later, Friedemann entered Stevens Hall off the school’s collegiate quad to find Romney marching out of his own room ahead of a prep school posse shouting about their plan to cut Lauber’s hair. Friedemann followed them to a nearby room where they came upon Lauber, tackled him and pinned him to the ground. As Lauber, his eyes filling with tears, screamed for help, Romney repeatedly clipped his hair with a pair of scissors.

The incident was recalled similarly by five students, who gave their accounts independently of one another....
Romney declined an interview, and a spokeswoman said "The stories of fifty years ago seem exaggerated and off base and Governor Romney has no memory of participating in these incidents."

Another story:
In an English class, Gary Hummel, who was a closeted gay student at the time, recalled that his efforts to speak out in class were punctuated with Romney shouting, “Atta girl!” In the culture of that time and place, that was not entirely out of the norm. Hummel recalled some teachers using similar language.
ADDED: Obama bullied a black girl:

Q: What did Obama do last night?

A: He honored Burt Bacharach and Hal David at a White House concert featuring Sheryl Crow, Diana Krall, Lyle Lovett, Stevie Wonder, Arturo Sandoval, and Mike Myers.
"Above all, [Bacharach and David] stayed true to themselves. And with an unmistakable authenticity, they captured the emotions of our daily lives – the good times, the bad times, and everything in between,” the president said. “They have lived their lives on their own terms, and they’ve taught Americans of all ages to embrace their individual stories, even as we move forward together."
The good times, the bad times... an allusion to the Bacharach song "That's What Friends Are For," which was famously used for an AIDS benefit. Here's the video, featuring, among others Stevie Wonder.

Biden "probably got out a little bit over his skis."

Said Obama, noting that Biden did "out of generosity of spirit" and "But all's well that ends well."

By the way, does anyone think this was all planned, that Biden was sent out to make what would appear to be a gaffe to create the occasion for Obama to seem to need to come forward on this issue?

ADDED: Please vote:

Was Biden's gaffe really a gaffe?
  
pollcode.com free polls 

Human Obama Sculpture.

Ha ha.

(From a slideshow of the "world's worst public art," which is worth clicking through.)

"I don't think the argument for gay rights should hinge on whether you're gay or you know someone who is gay."

"If something is actually bad or morally wrong, you don't try to promote it by talking about the person in your family who does it. You may notice that I've been writing in support of same-sex marriage on this blog for more than 7 years, and I don't think I've ever bolstered the argument with anecdotes of personal experience. In fact, I think it cheapens the argument to blend that in."

That's what I wrote in September 2011, back when Dick Cheney clearly stated his support for same-sex marriage. A reader emailed me that in connection with Obama's statement about same-sex marriage, which was thoroughly bolstered with references to the real people he knows:
I've thought about members of my staff in long-term, committed, same-sex relationships who are raising kids together. Through our efforts to end the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, I've gotten to know some of the gay and lesbian troops who are serving our country with honor and distinction....

Even at my own dinner table, when I look at Sasha and Malia, who have friends whose parents are same-sex couples, I know it wouldn't dawn on them that their friends' parents should be treated differently.
Do our moral values take shape around the activities of the people we happen to know?

"Neither man nor woman has ever sang that good or with that much compassion on this show, ever."

Said Steven Tyler, one of judges on "American Idol" last night who "sounded like the characters in that kids book 'Guess How Much I Love You,' competing to be Ledet's biggest admirer."
The poor judges had peaked too soon and run out of superlatives. They had little left to offer Sanchez, although, as she stood before them, trembling and weeping, they had scraped together what they could.
What judicial drivel this season!

"This interview was conducted by two African-Americans, a man and a woman. It was a subtle touch. And a profound one."

That's Andrew Sullivan telling us about "One small thing I only really noticed until tonight" [sic].

Oh, good lord. What the hell is subtle and profound about it? Is there something special about "a man and a woman"? (That would be ironic, since the interview was all about saying "a man and a woman" is not special.) Is it about 2 black people? Oh, my! What an amazing occasion — 2 black people are talking!

Can we ever settle down and be normal about the fact there are people of different sexes, different races, and different sexual orientations? I wish Andrew Sullivan would be a little more reflective — to the point of experiencing embarrassment — about the sentimental twinges he feels witnessing black people accomplishing something.

"Ann -- Today, I was asked a direct question and gave a direct answer: I believe that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry."

Obama emails:
I hope you'll take a moment to watch the conversation, consider it, and weigh in yourself on behalf of marriage equality:

http://my.barackobama.com/Marriage
I watched. What struck me was how much he struggles to drag the statement out of himself and, specifically, how intently he stared down and to the left. There's some evidence that a person's eye direction indicates whether a person is accessing their memory or making something up. For a left-hander like Obama, looking down and to the left happens when the person is experiencing an internal dialogue — talking to himself.

Back to the email:

The number of women not in the labor force hits an all-time high as 324,000 women leave in the last 2 months.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The labor force includes people who are unemployed but actively looking for work.
This year (in both January and April), only 57.6 percent of the women in the civilian noninstitutional population were in the labor force. That is the lowest rate of labor force participation by American women since April 1993, according to historical data maintained by BLS.

The rate of female participation in the civilian workforce peaked twelve years ago--in April 2000--when hit 60.3 percent...

For both males and females combined, the rate of participation in the labor force dropped to 63.6 percent in April—the lowest rate since December 1981.

Recently, however, women have been leaving the labor force in larger numbers than men.
It would be interesting to know why this has happened. Is it a cultural trend, with families restructuring to single-earner form? Are more women going the "Julia" route, finding succor in the arms of the government? Or is this mostly the government's recategorization of the unemployed, done to keep us from seeing the real unemployment percentage?

May 9, 2012

"A clear example of an architectural hairstyle was the Five Point Geometric Cut, created by Sassoon in 1964 on a young model named Grace Coddington..."

"...who later on became the Fashion Editor of British Vogue. The cut remained unequalled for its absolute geometry and it helped the hairdresser becoming famous all over the world."
In 1965 Sassoon developed a geometric cut to mark the opening of his first salon in America and began experimenting with asymmetries that followed the natural hair growth at the nape.

He created asymmetrical cuts to complement an Emmanuel Ungaro collection or long styles – with hair cut short at the nape and long at the sides with a line that encouraged hair to swing freely but also to fall perfectly into shape for their precise cut – for a Mila Schön catwalk show.
I've seen a lot of hairstyles come and go in my life. (I'm 61.) But I've got to say, there was ONE hairstylist who — as far as I can tell — invented something precisely new and distinctively his. Everyone knew was a Sassoon haircut was.



I wish I could find a perfect photograph of the way the cut made a "W" at the nape. It was so sharp and modern. It was mod, and we all wanted the mod look. It was easy to grow long hair and thick bangs, Patti Boyd style. But the alternative, the 5 points... how could you find anyone in your hometown who could cut hair like that? So glossily brilliant. The best idea for a hairstyle or at least nobody else ever came up with a better one.

Goodbye to Vidal Sassoon. He was 84.

Scott Walker agrees to 2 debates with Tom Barrett.

Barrett wanted 4.

The dates are May 25 and 31. Exciting!

BUT: Will Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch debate her opponent, Madison firefighter and president of the Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin, Mahlon Mitchell?

"A fierce day for my gays and my prez."

Celebrities tweet about Obama's gay marriage embrace.

"Katzenbach finally interrupted and said he knew about the Constitution, but a man could be a damn fool and be constitutional."

From David Halberstam's "The Best and the Brightest" (p. 345), reporting what the Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach said when Secretary of State Dean Rusk, not wanting to pressure LBJ about Vietnam, "gave Katzenbach a long dissertation on the constitutional prerogatives of the President."

Nicholas Katzenbach died yesterday. He was 90.

We need to talk about Keith Judd.



He's the prisoner who won 41% of the vote in the West Virginia Democratic primary.

ADDED: "Why felon Keith Judd did so well against Obama in West Virginia."
The president angered voters with new Environmental Protection Agency policies, which some see as a “war on coal” and have stalled mining permits for the state’s coal mining industry...

Race likely plays some role here. In the 2008 primary, 2 in 10 white West Virginia voters said race was an important factor in their votes, second only to Mississippi. Those voters went for Clinton 8 in 10 times....

Potentially more interesting are the results from North Carolina, where 20 percent of Democratic primary voters chose “no preference” over the president.

"Gay for pay."

"Obama's reversal on same sex marriage comes just days after donors threatened to withhold funds."

ADDED: WaPo says:
A review of Obama’s top bundlers, who have brought in $500,000 or more for the campaign, shows that about one in six publicly identify themselves as gay. His overall list of bundlers also includes a number of gay couples who have wed in jurisdictions where same-sex marriage was legal.

“It’s a very important constituency,” said Los Angeles attorney Dana Perlman, a top Obama bundler who is helping organize a 700-person LGBT fundraiser for the president on June 6. “The community for the most part is wholeheartedly behind this man.”

"Talking about ourselves—whether in a personal conversation or through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter—triggers the same sensation of pleasure in the brain as food or money..."

A new study.
Generally, acts of self disclosure were accompanied by spurts of heightened activity in brain regions belonging to the meso-limbic dopamine system, which is associated with the sense of reward and satisfaction from food, money or sex.
Ah! I thought of a weight-loss epigram: Instead of eating: Tweeting.

I've got another: Don't be a hog: Blog.

Should you crack?

Or not?

Bloomberg's ridiculous photographic bias.

Reporting on yesterday's Wisconsin recall primary, Bloomberg runs this photograph of Tom Barrett...



... which comes straight from Barrett's mayoral office. That is, it's Barrett's own propaganda.

And this picture of Scott Walker...



... taken by a photographer who has a job in the Bloomberg organization either in spite of his inability to shoot a decently lit image or because of his ability to make selected targets look as bad as possible.

The text of the article is equally slanted, largely a collection of quotes from Barrett said from UW-Milwaukee professor Mordecai Lee. Lee is the guy who told us 95% of Republicans would cross over and vote in the Democratic primary, but Walker got 626,538 votes even though he had only nominal opposition in the Republican primary, and the 4 Democrats combined only got  665,436 votes. How many of those 665,436 were Republicans? Anyway, now Lee is feeding Bloomberg crapola like:
“In the 1950s there was a saying, ‘He’s a nice Catholic boy... That’s Tom Barrett. He believes the world is good... He believes in doing good. He believes that in a moral universe, right always wins out.”
And:
“In his view, the November 2010 election was simply an error and he welcomes the opportunity to right the wrong."
It's a moral universe thing. Walker beat Barrett in the regular election, a fair election, a democratic election. But somehow that was a wrong, and the nice Catholic boy is all about righting wrongs in the moral universe. Holy lord, what nonsense. That's the Milwaukee professor's assertion about the candidate's quest to get his hands on power: For the world to be good, I must rule.

Obama's opinion on the issue of same-sex marriage isn't what evolved.

"I’ve just concluded that for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married."

What evolved was his opinion about whether it was worthwhile to admit what he really has thought all along (which you had to be a bit dense not to know).

Pressure on Obama to "evolve" some more on same-sex marriage.

Tune in and witness the evolution before your very eyes in just a few minutes.
The sudden booking suggests an interest on the part of the White House to get Mr. Obama in front of cameras, albeit in a carefully controlled interview setting, as soon as possible.
The presumably friendly interviewer – evolution extractor — is Robin Roberts of "Good Morning America."

UPDATE: Obama evolves, endorses same-sex marriage.

Why didn’t all the people who signed the Walker recall petitions bother to vote yesterday?

There were over 900,000 signatures (supposedly valid signatures) on the petitions. That's over 200,000 people who forced this expensive procedure on the state and then didn't care enough to participate.

Who are those people?
  
pollcode.com free polls 

(Just pick the best answer. Your desire to vote "all of the above" or 2 or 3 of the above can go in the comments. Those answers make boring results in a poll like this. Deal with it. This isn't pollster science I'm doing here.)

Jonathan Chait sees "frightening outlines of a future systemic crisis"...

... in Richard Lugar's defeat. 

I'm seeing outlines of liberals getting really nervous about what is — I suspect — the American voters' preference for some crisp conservatism.

Why didn't Don Draper like "Tomorrow Never Knows"?

A pop culture question asked by NPR music critic Ann Powers. Tomorrow doesn't know and I don't know. I could hazard a guess. I don't watch "Mad Men," but maybe Draper isn't the kind of guy who's in the mood to "lay down all thoughts" and "surrender to the void." Regardless of whether "it is shining" or it was shining back in the 1960s, why did Americans ever willingly consume that lyrical nonsense?

***

By the way, "Mad Men" paid $250,000 to use that recording.

"Tuesday’s recall election was a giant repudiation of Big Labor."

"It was a huge smackdown of the union bosses by a Wisconsin that is 86.5% non-union and tired of all the whining. Gov. Scott Walker was the real winner last night."

The Chronicle of Higher Education fires blogger Naomi Schaefer Riley for mocking university Black Studies programs.

Here's a Wall Street Journal editorial column condemning the Chronicle (including the disclosure that Riley is married to a member of the Journal editorial board):
As best we can make out, the Chronicle's editor, Liz McMillen, fired Naomi Riley for doing what she was hired to do—provide a conservative point of view about current events in academe alongside the paper's roster of mostly not-conservative academic bloggers....
Riley herself has an op-ed over there at the Journal. (It's not like this lady is starving for media outlets.)
Recently, the Chronicle of Higher Education published a cover story called "Black Studies: 'Swaggering Into the Future,'" in which the reporter described how "young black-studies scholars . . . are less consumed than their predecessors with the need to validate the field or explain why they are pursuing doctorates in their discipline." The "5 Up-and-Coming Ph.D. Candidates" described in the piece's sidebar "are rewriting the history of race." While the article suggested some are skeptical of black studies as a discipline, the reporter neglected to quote anyone who is.

Like me. So last week, on the Chronicle's "Brainstorm" blog (where I was paid to be a regular contributor), I suggested that the dissertation topics of the graduate students mentioned were obscure at best and "a collection of left-wing victimization claptrap," at worst.
This is, I think, a little more complex than what Riley's supporters are saying. She mocked individual graduate students. This reminds me of the big Sandra Fluke controversy, which got traction because an established media professional took aim at a student. Riley made fun of dissertation titles and breezily threw out the opinion that the entire field of Black Studies was left-wing crap. Maybe it is. I don't know. I'm not reading the dissertations. It's tempting to riff on intuition and to speak provocatively, and that's what bloggers do. If the Chronicle wants bloggers — readable bloggers, bloggers who spark conversation and debate — they need to get that.

But combining that blogging style with an attack on named, individual students, where you are speaking from a high platform in the established media... that's the problem, and I don't see Riley stepping up and acknowledging it.

Riley, in this new column, proceeds with her critique of the field of Black Studies... or rather the media's resistance to critique:
[A] substantive critique about the content of academic disciplines is simply impossible in the closed bubble of higher education. If you want to know why almost all of the responses to my original post consist of personal attacks on me, along with irrelevant mentions of Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and George Zimmerman, it is because black studies is a cause, not a course of study. By doubting the academic worthiness of black studies, my critics conclude, I am opposed to racial justice—and therefore a racist.
Knowing of this resistance, Riley could have begun her attack with something more sober and fact-based than lampooning the titles of students' dissertations. Maybe she deliberately sought personal attention by writing something too crude and impolite. It certainly worked. I'd never noticed her before and now everyone is talking about her.

May 8, 2012

"Al Qaeda's would-be underwear bomber was CIA informant."

"Officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, say the supposed would-be bomber in Al Qaeda airliner plot was actually an informant working for the CIA."

AND:
A senior American official said the device was sewn into “custom fit” underwear that would have been very difficult to detect even in a careful pat-down. Unlike the device used in the unsuccessful December 2009 plot to blow up an airliner over Detroit, this bomb could be detonated in two ways, in case one failed, the official said.

The main charge was high-grade military explosive that “undoubtedly would have brought down an aircraft,” the official said.

Come on, everybody — let's follow the Wisconsin recall primary returns.

Polls close in about an hour and a half, so come walk by the lake with me and Meade. We've just voted, and we're placing our bets — not with real money! — on the results:



UPDATE 1, 6:35 CT: Turnout in Madison is on track to be "one of the highest in state history for a partisan primary, adding to the already historic nature of the recall of Gov. Scott Walker."

UPDATE 2, 8:08: The polls have closed. I'm following the results at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, here, but nothing's in yet.

UPDATE 3, 9:55: Barrett obviously won... by a lot... so my prediction is shot all to hell. The most interesting number is Walker votes versus all the Democratic votes combined. The strong support for Walker is notable, since he wasn't really opposed, and Republicans could cross over and attempt to influence the Democratic race. So far, most of the evening, Walker has been ahead of that total Democratic vote. Right now, there are 496,936 votes combined for the Democrats, and Walker's lagging at 475,019 — which is 21,927 back, but the point is still clear. Why bother to come out and vote for Walker? Why not cross over and affect the competitive Democratic race?

UPDATE 4, 10:21: In the comments, B astutely analyzes:
The way the numbers are working out, It appears that the total vote for the dems will not even reach what would have been the 800k+ threshold figure to even have a recall. And that ignores any spoiler votes for Falk by Walker supporters.

Does make one wonder, doesn't it. Did that many people, around 200k, decide not to show up, change their minds, sign the recall petition just to get some jerk out of their face, or....

Perhaps we are seeing the real recall petition total here. The total when you can only vote once. And for yourself. Or at least not vote as often or for as many people as you could sign the petition..

Former Bad Boy rapper G. Dep "has suffered the mockery and insults of his fellow prisoners... for confessing to a shooting that he had essentially gotten away with..."

"... only to find out that his victim had died and that he had turned himself in for murder."

Autopsy report on the "Painter of Light" Thomas Kinkade.

Overdose of alcohol and Valium, accidental.

Strange that the comfort and warmth people found in his paintings he had to go looking for in drinking and drugs.

Kids don't care about movie stars.

They don't recognize them in the trailers.

Woman in Chippewa Falls drives car into her husband after an argument about today's recall primary.

According to Police Chief Wendy Stelter:
Officers found the couple had a dispute over who Amanda Radle was voting for in today’s recall primary election for governor.

As she was trying to leave the residence, Jeffrey Radle stood in front of her vehicle in the dead-end alley. That prevented her from leaving.

Amanda nudged Jeffrey with the vehicle numerous times. Jeffrey would retreat and then reestablish his ground. At one point, he climbed onto the hood.

Finally Amanda Radle attempted to drive around her husband. Jeffrey Radle reportedly jumped in front of the vehicle and was struck.
Who was for which candidate? And did anyone get to vote? I'll just guess Amanda was for Falk, and Jeffrey was for Barrett. You might think Jeffrey was for Walker, but a vote for Falk will help Walker, as noted here.

ADDED: I am totally getting into The Chippewa Herald. I took the survey "What do you do when a tornado siren sounds?" (my answer: "none of the above"), and now I'm reading "Couple losing faith in true government representation." And I'm fascinated by this bright-pink owner of a "Custom Weaponry" shop who's "struggling to keep up with demand."

UPDATE: Apparently, Jeffrey was for Walker, and Amanda was for "one of the women candidates" — presumably, Falk, as I originally guessed. Falk was the crossover preference of Walker supporters. Jeffrey was so wrong in so many ways.

Quick! Check out the UW hawk-cam.

It's dinnertime. Rabbit is served.

In other Wisconsin bird news: "Bald eagles recover from eating euthanized cats."

Scott Brown: "Serious questions have been raised about the legitimacy of Elizabeth Warren’s claims to Native American ancestry..."

"... and whether it was appropriate for her to assume minority status as a college professor. Her changing stories, contradictions and refusal to answer legitimate questions have cast doubt on her credibility and called into question the diversity practices at Harvard."
“The best way to satisfy these questions is for Elizabeth Warren to authorize the release of her law school applications and all personnel files from the various universities where she has taught. I have released hundreds of pages of confidential employment records relating to my 32-year career in the National Guard, and I would encourage Professor Warren to do the same with respect to her personnel records and previous applications. As candidates for high public office, we have a duty to be transparent and open and not hide behind a wall of silence in the midst of public controversy.”
The response from a Warren spokesperson is that "Brown is shamelessly attempting to divert attention from his record on the issues that really matter" and that the "questions that have already been answered.”

"Bank of America... sending letters to thousands of homeowners... offering to forgive a portion of the principal balance on their mortgages by an average of $150,000 each."

The idea is to "turn mortgages headed for possible foreclosure into long-term performing loans."

You have to be "at least 60 days behind on payments as of the end of January," so too bad for you if you missed the deadline on... missing deadlines. It's now too late to be too late. A new meaning for the phrase it got late early.

Ron Paul in a 3-way race with Obama and Romney...

... helps Romney!

Anti-Walkerites will have a tough time celebrating a Falk victory.

UW-Milwaukee political scientist Mordecai Lee expects 95% of Republicans voters to cross over in today's recall primary and vote for one of the Democrats — most likely Kathleen Falk, who stands to the left of her Democratic opponent Tom Barrett, because she polls much worse against Scott Walker. But Barrett has been so far ahead of Falk in recent polls, that if Falk wins, it should be interpreted as a victory for Scott Walker, even though Falk has campaigned as an embodiment of the values of the anti-Scott Walker protests.

Ironically, the anti-Walkerites might need to protest.

"The recall election in Wisconsin... 'sets the template for the fall campaign.'"

"If Walker wins... you'll never see Obama defending unions," says Nelson Lichtenstein, an American labor historian at the University of California – Santa Barbara. 
And, he suggests, public-sector unions will gradually lose support. "Out of sight," he said, "out of mind."
He also says:
"All these governors are under tremendous fiscal pressure... If they see the public sector unions can be defeated, this will be seen as an easy way out." Lichtenstein, who calls what Scott Walker is doing an "assault" on public sector unions, makes it clear that he personally doesn't think it would be an easy way out. But he acknowledges that "if Walker ekes it out and wins, it will embolden" other governors, both Republicans and Democrats.
Interesting, especially after the assertion by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka that if Scott Walker wins he'll be "a debilitated governor."

Why the 5th Avenue co-op board rejected Sheik Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, prime minister of Qatar.

Despite his $31.5 million bid:
A big part of the sheik’s problem was his 15 kids, not to mention his two wives and boatload of staffers who accompanied him everywhere, sources said.

There wasn’t “a chance in hell’’ of his offer being accepted, the source added.

The sudden influx of potential foreign residents — young and old — to the storied address would have been in stark contrast to the previous tenant. 
The previous tenants were the doll collection of Huguette Clark, who lived in a hospital for the last 20 years of her life.
Board members were also concerned because, as a foreign head of state, the 52-year-old sheik couldn’t be held accountable for anything that might happen there, they said.

“He had diplomatic immunity,’’ one source noted.

"The action of betraying; betrayal of the trust undertaken by or reposed in any one; breach of faith, treacherous action, treachery."

That is the first definition of "treason," according to the Oxford English Dictionary. (Sorry it's not linkable.)

Obama supporters who express outrage over the use of the word "treason" seem to think the word means nothing but to the crime defined in law — as if the woman Romney talked to wanted Obama tried and executed.

It's as if people who say "property is theft" are freakishly insisting that property owners be prosecuted for larceny.

Think of all the words we use that have more specific legal meanings that do not apply: This job is murder... The rape of the land... Slave to love...

Romney needs to be more like McCain... Obama supporters insist.

Isn't it funny, this "treason" incident? Obama supporters everywhere are chastising Romney and holding up McCain as the exemplar of how to respond to overstatements about Obama:
A backer introduced Romney by slamming President Obama for taking credit for the killing of Osama bin Laden, comparing Obama to Ronald McDonald. And when a woman said Obama should be tried for treason, Romney didn't disagree and asked the woman to follow up her question.

Later, when asked by reporters about the treason comment, Romney said he did not believe the president should be tried.

But by then, the moment was already being compared unfavorably to Sen. John McCain's handling of a similar situation during his 2008 run against Obama.

When a woman said she couldn't trust Obama because "he's an Arab," McCain responded immediately and forcefully: "No, ma'am. He's a decent family man, citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues, and that's what this campaign is all about."
That was awfully nice of McCain, but let's remember he lost. And I think I remember him having a rather exaggerated fear of criticizing Obama. Now, I think McCain had some reason to worry that people in the audience would say something racist or arguably racist or somewhat racial and that anything like that would be exploited by the Obama campaign. But at this point in American history, 4 years later, we are free to criticize Obama. Romney doesn't need to go all beta when an audience member states her antagonism to Obama in a strong way. He doesn't need to scold and discipline Obama's antagonists. Romney's approach to answering the question asked was just fine, though it is perfectly understandable why the Obama campaign would like Romney to get sidetracked into defending Obama.

***

Do you remember the 1964 book "None Dare Call It Treason"?



John A. Stormer's polemic sold 7 million copies in its day. Here's Daniel Pipes reviewing the "25 Years Later" republication, in 1991:
Arguing that the United States had been betrayed by its elite, it is a classic in what Hannah Arendt has called "backstairs political literature." Surprisingly for the genre, it did not contain the usual virulent animosity toward Catholics, Jews, and the like; rather, it blamed communist sympathizers. Nor did it unambiguously point to a plan: "Is there a conspiratorial plan to destroy the United States into which foreign add, planned inflation, distortion of treaty-making powers and disarmament all fit?" Stormer went no further than to resort to a metaphor about the pieces all fitting, whether planned by communists or not.
The "treason" label has a venerable tradition. Anyone who has taught Constitutional Law — like me or the President of the United States — is familiar with the way Chief Justice John Marshall used it in Cohens v. Virginia: to express the wrongness of exceeding the bounds of the Constitution:
It is most true that this Court will not take jurisdiction if it should not; but it is equally true that it must take jurisdiction if it should. The judiciary cannot, as the legislature may, avoid a measure because it approaches the confines of the Constitution. We cannot pass it by because it is doubtful. With whatever doubts, with whatever difficulties, a case may be attended, we must decide it if it be brought before us. We have no more right to decline the exercise of jurisdiction which is given than to usurp that which is not given. The one or the other would be treason to the Constitution.
With Marshall's great example, the word treason belongs in the American tradition of free political speech.

IN THE COMMENTS: Bryan C reminds us of an even earlier venerable use of the word treason in American history. Patrick Henry said: "If this be treason, make the most of it." The country was founded on treason. We celebrate the treason we like.

New underwear...

... bomb.

Goodbye to Maurice Sendak.

We were just talking about his saying "Go to hell"... and now he's gone. Not to hell, I'm sure. He was 83.
A largely self-taught illustrator, Mr. Sendak was at his finest a shtetl Blake, portraying a luminous world, at once lovely and dreadful, suspended between wakefulness and dreaming. In so doing, he was able to convey both the propulsive abandon and the pervasive melancholy of children’s interior lives.

His visual style could range from intricately crosshatched scenes that recalled 19th-century prints to airy watercolors reminiscent of Chagall to bold, bulbous figures inspired by the comic books he loved all his life, with outsize feet that the page could scarcely contain. He never did learn to draw feet, he often said.
Here's an excellent, recent interview with him:
The term "children's illustrator" annoys him, since it seems to belittle his talent. "I have to accept my role. I will never kill myself like Vincent Van Gogh. Nor will I paint beautiful water lilies like Monet. I can't do that. I'm in the idiot role of being a kiddie book person." He and Eugene never considered bringing up children themselves, he says. He's sure he would have messed it up. His brother felt the same way: after their childhood, they were too dysfunctional. "They led desperate lives," he says of his parents. "They should have been crazy. And we – making fun of them. I remember when my brother was dying, he looked at me and his eyes were all teary. And he said, 'Why were we so unkind to Mama?' And I said, 'Don't do that. We were kids, we didn't understand. We didn't know she was crazy.'"

May 7, 2012

"To be honest, I don't know what I want a male for."

"I have some fabulous electronics to use instead. And any woman who tells you she doesn't is lying."

"Together, let's break the glass ceiling to the Governor's office."

A robocall from Kathleen Falk, the evening before the primary in the Scott Walker recall. It's very gender politics:



Who enters an office through the ceiling?

At the Butterfly Café...

P1050610

... you can fill up on purple.

ADDED: Video shows just how many butterflies there were today:

Unity rally?

Called off!

Our casual assessment of yard signs in Madison says anti-Walkerites have resigned themselves to defeat. They've already attained closure. It was enough to force Scott Walker into a recall election. He's been unsettled and harassed. No point saying they're actually supposed to win, then, is there?

"Barack Obama’s decision to base his re-election campaign outside of Washington seems to be working pretty darn well."

"The campaign’s massive, high-rise headquarters in Chicago’s Loop achieves a fine balance between 2008’s hip-casual dorm room (there’s a Ping-Pong table and cheeky homemade signage) and 2012’s systematized Death Star (there are more employees than I have ever seen in a political campaign, with work stations subdivided as ever more employees are added). The place hums from early morning until late at night, designed for maximum efficiency and manifest focus."

This, in Time Magazine, by Mark Halperin, is a particularly silly example of press love for Obama.

Hip-casual dorm room... cheeky homemade signage... systematized Death Star... so embarrassing. Halperin sounds like the new, overeager intern.

Should "post-traumatic stress disorder" be renamed "post-traumatic stress injury"?

And — before you click — can you see the point of the name change?

Least inspiring 1-word campaign slogans.

Inspired by "Forward."

"These seem like completely stupid, idiotic people."

"I don't know how Obama had them in his security force."
They liked to show off their bodies, great bodies, well-defined abs... They liked attention....

I am not to blame for being attractive... They are to blame -- for leaving their duty behind.

Biden says something decent and sound, only to be swallowed back into the inane, unbelievable political script.

Here's Biden being a wholly decent and sensible person....
"I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women and heterosexual men and women marrying one another are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties."
But, no! You can't say that. It's too completely straightforward and reasonable. He couldn't have meant that, the most obvious and ordinary thing to say on the subject of same-sex marriage (unless you're actually opposed to it). He had to be saying... oh, you know, the careful script that's been worked out for the Obama reelection campaign.

My link goes to a long article in the NYT headlined "A Scramble as Biden Backs Same-Sex Marriage," but I'm disappointed that it fails to include the awkward quote that went yesterday. Here it is, officially from a "spokesperson for the vice president":
The vice president was saying what the president has said previously – that committed and loving same-sex couples deserve the same rights and protections enjoyed by all Americans, and that we oppose any effort to rollback those rights. That’s why we stopped defending the constitutionality of section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act in legal challenges and support legislation to repeal it. Beyond that, the Vice President was expressing that he too is evolving on the issue, after meeting so many committed couples and families in this country.
Evolving. Isn't it funny, that the term "evolution" has been appropriated to paper over such bullshit? Why, I remember when "evolution" was the bugaboo of the kind of Biblical sticklers who hate gay marriage!

***

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first meaning of "evolution" is "I. A movement or change of position.  a. Mil. and Navy. A manoeuvre executed by troops or ships to adopt a different tactical formation." Apt! Here's the oldest usage:
1616   J. Bingham in tr. Ælian Tactiks xxviii. 132   The nature of this Euolution is clearely to leaue the File-leaders in front, and Bringers-vp in reare.
Bringers-vp in reare. Really, amusingly, ineffably apt!

ADDED: "They are so sensitive to Biden doing this because, number one, gay money in this election has replaced Wall Street money," said NBC Chief White House Correspondent Chuck Todd.

If you're going to bury a half-million dollars in jewelry along with the dead body...

... you really shouldn't tell the whole world about it. And if your solution is a round-the-clock security guard... well, why would that guy be enough to hold back the nefarious grave-robbers?

Absurd!

It's dangerous to carry a red flag here in Madison.

These mellower approaches to mediating between cars and pedestrians really don't work too well:
Susan Elias never saw the car coming. And the driver never saw her, even though she was holding a red flag....

“What routinely happens, and what is really scary, is that a car will stop,” Sally Lehner said at the meeting, according to a report in the neighborhood news service Madison Commons. “Someone will be really nice and wave 'go ahead.' And then another commuter will come up behind, have no idea that car is stopping because they're letting me go, and nearly hit us.”...

With the population on the city's west side expanding, causing more and more drivers to look for fast routes from the downtown, [Madison Police Capt. Joe] Balles says, the traffic pressure on Monroe Street isn't likely to abate.

“It's got to go beyond red flags. It's got to go beyond enforcement,” he says. “We've got to really start modifying the environment and make it more pedestrian-friendly down there.”
Modifying the environment? How about stop signs, traffic lights, and expensive tickets for violators? Sorry to be old fashioned, but I don't want to pay for a lot of speed humps and islands. I want to make money. Get out there and ticket drivers. And lose that red flag program. It's a dangerous illusion of safety.

(Personally, I have used the red flags to point at evil drivers in an uncivil effort to shame them for driving through where I'm supposed to have the right of way, but it just cranks up pointless inner anger.)

"Prick is a much better word."

Pricking and searing... what's been going on with your conscience?

Bonus: A new Bible-based argument for same-sex marriage.
St. Paul contemned the bad religionists who "forbid people to marry," and — right at that point — said "For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving." Did God not create gay people?

Here we are "in later times." Is your conscience seared or pricked?

Recall candidate Kathleen Falk says: "It takes mom to get people back together. That’s how families do it."

More gender politics:
Falk characterized herself as a woman who has broken through anti-women barriers and glass ceilings all her life, a woman with a “big-tent” theory of bringing people together.

“We just want our opportunity to do what the men have had their opportunity to do,” the 60-year-old mother said. “That’s what’s fair. The fact that we haven’t had a woman governor in 164 years is a little bit lame. I say, if not now, when? But I believe I am the most qualified of all the candidates.”
Speaking of lame! That's the lamest argument I've heard in a long, long time.  Elect me, I'm the female?

You know, she actually does have credentials and experience, but apparently, the voters are too stupid to receive relevant information. Women, women, women. God help us. Have we become a nation of morons?

To be fair, she did also say she had an idea to create jobs "in the wood-pulp industry by finding new uses for that resource, including for jet fuel."

ADDED: Get on your jet plane. It looks like this.

"Hollande’s victory means the end of 'Merkozy,' the Franco-German axis that has enforced the austerity regime of the past two years."

"This would be a 'dangerous' development if that strategy were working, or even had a reasonable chance of working. But it isn’t and doesn’t; it’s time to move on. Europe’s voters, it turns out, are wiser than the Continent’s best and brightest."

Writes Paul Krugman
, opining on the French election. Move on... I understand the impulse, but to what?
One answer — an answer that makes more sense than almost anyone in Europe is willing to admit — would be to break up the euro, Europe’s common currency. Europe wouldn’t be in this fix if Greece still had its drachma, Spain its peseta, Ireland its punt, and so on, because Greece and Spain would have what they now lack: a quick way to restore cost-competitiveness and boost exports, namely devaluation....
But that's not the right answer, per Krugman. That would be "highly disruptive" and "a huge defeat for the 'European project.'" (Can you remember what that is?) Krugman's solution is to abandon "fantasies of prosperity through pain" — "the confidence fairy doesn’t exist" — and grow the economy.