June 21, 2014

Lake Wingra, this evening... I stayed on the shore...

Meade took Zeus out...

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... and together...

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... they floated away into a tiny little red + orange dot amid all that blue and green"

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Want to hear Whitney Houston's exuberant 80s pop song "How Will I Know" slowed way down, sad, and sung by a guy?

I thought not, but here it is anyway. I liked it.

For reference: here's Whitney.

"24 Things No One Tells You About Leaving Texas."

"Once you leave heaven, earth just isn’t all that."

Oh, you think you could do 24 things about a state you left and now miss? Try!

"The Supreme Court just dealt a major blow to patent trolls."

"On Thursday, the court upheld the notion that an idea alone can’t be patented, deciding unanimously that merely implementing an idea on a computer isn’t enough to transform it into a patentable invention."

"George Will's Rape Column Was Edited By A Bunch Of Men."

Headline at Talking Points Memo for an article that is written by a man. I don't know who edited it, but this man, is named Dylan Scott. I know... "Dylan" could be a woman's name, but here's his picture...



I don't want to be too gender-normative, but — and I stress that I am speaking as a woman with long experience, 60+ years, as a female in the highly gendered social stratifications of America — I say he's a man. And who are the editors at TPM? It's not easy to get to a page of faces of TPM editors, maybe because it would be a bunch of men.

But Scott is only linking to a piece in The Washington Post itself: "George Will sexual-assault column: Editors were all male," written (ironically) by another man — jeez, these guys are everywhere — Erik Wemple.



But, anyway, that terrible George Will...



... whose picture, uploaded here, displayed super-large in compose mode and, in html, had the word "bigwill" in the code — can I get a trigger warning? — that terrible George "Bigwill" Will, according to Erik "Bigchin" Wemple, apparently, "knew what he wanted to say," which I translate to mean: It's not that the editors were all male; nobody can stop Bigwill.

Bigwill wanted to speak up for due process:
Education Department lawyers disregard pesky arithmetic and elementary due process. Threatening to withdraw federal funding, the department mandates adoption of a minimal “preponderance of the evidence” standard when adjudicating sexual assault charges between males and the female “survivors” — note the language of prejudgment. Combine this with capacious definitions of sexual assault that can include not only forcible sexual penetration but also nonconsensual touching. Then add the doctrine that the consent of a female who has been drinking might not protect a male from being found guilty of rape. Then comes costly litigation against institutions that have denied due process to males they accuse of what society considers serious felonies.
Due process was the fixation of that bunch of men who adopted the Bill of Rights. Who was speaking for the women?



Out with that phallocratic due process bullshit! "Sentence first — verdict afterwards"!



And if our commitment to the vindication of rape victims inflames us and the niceties of procedure get less than their due, and if young male lives are crushed for years...



... what's that supposed to be a picture of? Looks like a bunch of men. Let's not dwell on that. $40 million dollars will be paid. Justice now... settlement afterwards. These are the ways of the bunch of men that have been running this country all too long.

Solution: Female Power. Hillary Clinton stands ready to restructure the old stratifications. This woman has amazing experience, including that time she sent a rape victim "through hell."

I Know Why the Caged Bird Cannot Read My Beloved World.

In a piece titled "Royalties and Teaching Help Fill Bank Accounts of Justices," the NYT reports:
Justice Sonia Sotomayor did not report any book earnings in 2013, though she received nearly $2 million in advances in 2012 for her memoir. Sales may not have exceeded the advances.
Oh, really?

How many copies of the book "My Beloved World" would need to be sold to cover a $2 million advance?

Is it ridiculous to think that such a book would sell that much? Maybe not. Look: It sits atop Amazon's "Best Sellers in Hispanic & Latino Biographies" list. Doesn't it fit the agenda of public schools that have been assigning "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" all these years?

I'm thinking about "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," not because of the recent death of the author, Maya Angelou, but because there was a post up at Andrew Sullivan's place yesterday titled "Do Critics Really Matter?," which quotes a Evgenia Peretz Vanity Fair piece about Donna Tartt's book "The Goldfinch":

The press ignored the Scott Walker/John Doe story "when 2 judges ruled against the prosecutors' theory of the case," and now it "broadcasts that theory as if it were a fact, not a discredited accusation."

Write the editors of The Wall Street Journal, noting the "breathless page-one stories" about Walker's "criminal scheme" to coordinate campaign activities that didn't make it clear that all we were reading was "a prosecutorial theory floated to justify a secret grand-jury fishing expedition," that the documents were coming out as a result of a thus-far-successful civil-rights case against the prosecutors, and that "the two judges who have looked closely at the evidence have found no violations of law."
To the contrary, both judges have ruled that the prosecutors' theory of illegal campaign coordination is faulty and itself a violation of the defendants' right to free political speech. The document dump amounts to prosecutors losing in court but then having the press treat the prosecutors' claims as if they were the gospel truth.
Much more detail at the link. The details are complicated enough that you might feel tempted to forgive the press for jumping on the spicy "criminal scheme" business and not bothering to explain all the surrounding legalistic material, but I'll bet what determines whether you succumb to that temptation is whether you oppose Walker or not. And, of course, there is every reason to suspect that the press chose its presentation because it opposes Walker and snapped at the opportunity to try to bring him down.
[T]he document dump is serving a political purpose that prosecutors have intended from the start—to tarnish Mr. Walker as he seeks re-election.... This is typical of the behavior of Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisholm and Assistant DAs Bruce Landgraf and David Robles from the beginning. The Democrats hired [special prosecutor Francis] Schmitz, a nominal Republican, as special prosecutor to put a nonpartisan gloss on an investigation that the DAs realized would be seen for the political prosecution it was.
ADDED: My link may cause you to hit a pay wall. I really don't know why the WSJ wants to keep this editorial from having the effect the editors' words show they want. Anyway, try googling some text I've quoted and go in through the link you get that way.

Lady Gaga self-censors her rape-y video.

"Riffing on Gaga’s hip surgery last year, the video opens with her on an operating table being felt up by [R.] Kelly, who then sedates her and messes around with her unconscious body with help from a team of scantily clad nurses."

Why film it in the first place? It must have seemed like a good idea at the time, last October, but then, in December, an article came out in the Village Voice, collecting the new stories into one spot thus displaying a vivid portrait of Kelly's history as a sexual predator.

We're told that "Gaga distanced herself from Kelly immediately following the Village Voice piece, and has kept away in the months since." It's not as though those stories weren't already out there, and Gaga chose to make this video giving up her naked body — consciously — for the acting out of a sexual assault on a naked unconscious female character. (Clip viewable here.)

She knew exactly what she was doing, and all that had changed— to which she reacted "immediately" — was a conspicuous Village Voice article. The video was intended to stimulate a certain amount of outrage. It's the old game of succès de scandale, and her move was calibrated on the presumption of the public's vague memories of many old stories about Kelly. The Village Voice threw the calculation off.

Apparently, there's not no such thing as bad publicity

Why did Lady Gaga make but then pull the video?
  
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June 20, 2014

David Mamet forces a Milwaukee theater to cancel its production of his play "Oleanna" because it cast a male in a female role.

The Alchemist Theatre must shut down the production after only 1 performance (before which the sex of the "Carol" actor was kept hidden):
"Oleanna," introduced to audiences shortly after the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas hearings in 1991, centers on the relationship between a professor and a female student who accuses him of harassment and rape....

In a statement issued Friday evening, Erica Case and Aaron Kopec, owners of Alchemist Theatre, said: "We excitedly brought this story to the stage because even though it was written years ago, the unfortunate story that it tells is still relevant today. We auditioned for this show looking for the best talent, not looking for a gender. When Ben Parman auditioned we saw the reality that this relationship, which is more about power, is not gender-specific but gender-neutral. We stayed true to each of David Mamet's powerful words and did not change the character of Carol but allowed the reality of gender and relationship fluidity to add to the impact of the story...."
Do you think Mamet overreacted? I'd like to hear his point of view. This seems heavy handed toward regional theater, but I assume the license has terms and the terms were violated. Why didn't the theater seek permission before committing to this path?

Lake Mendota today.

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I rode my own bike down the lake path and locked it up when I got to the Union Terrace (which you see in the pictures). I walked up State Street — stopping at a café and a couple stores (where I bought nothing) — to the Capitol Square, where got a B-Cycle for the downhill back on State Street. I returned the B-Cycle at the station by the Kollege Klub, walked back through the Union Terrace, and liberated my own bike for the ride back along the lake path and home.

A very mellow Last Day of Spring.

When employees without children get envious of the accommodations made for employees with children.

You get ideas like this, expressed by a female lawyer at a big NYC law firm:
At a recent Women Lawyers meeting, we had a lively conversation discussing the notion that while large law firms have come to respect the obligations of female associates as mothers, this respect for commitments outside of the office hasn’t yet transcended to young associates who aren’t parents, both female and male for that matter. The discussion centered on the fact that no one would question or fault a woman for being unavailable on a team as a result of “having a baby”, but that other engagements may not receive the same amount of deference. In an effort to find solutions and not simply highlight problems, it was suggested that all associates on a team should be awarded a “baby” every so often – a hobby, engagement or event for which they are unapologetically unavailable and on which the rest of the team volunteers to cover, without question.

PBS Newshour looks at racial disparities in Madison, Wisconsin.

Gwen Ifill begins: "The college town of Madison, Wisconsin is not the sort of place that leaps to mind when it comes to the discussion of racial disparities."

First of all, it's not a town. It's a city. And why isn't it "the sort of place that leaps to mind"? There's zero attention to that question. The word "liberal" does not appear in the report. Can we infer that Madison's strongly liberal politics have caused the disparities? The segment proceeds to highlight the efforts of the well-meaning white people of Madison, such as sending a social worker into the homes of young black mothers to help them play with their toddlers properly. 

We see a black middle school principal, and he says with quiet confidence and a smile: "When a student identifies a purpose for being in the classroom, and you enhance that with a culturally relevant curriculum, that’s when the light comes on. That’s when the education truly happens."

Have we, the liberal people of Madison, Wisconsin failed to show students that there is a purpose to education and failed to provide a culturally relevant curriculum, so that these are new things that could be done? The principal's statement is anodyne.

And we see a black minister — who has a program called "Justified Anger" — but his most substantive complaint is that black people are "rarely asked what we think, and that doesn’t dignify us."
So we’re the topic of every discussion, we’re the subject of every report, and we don’t get to interject, we don’t get to submit, we don’t get to say anything.
But what does he think should be done?

If you're going to come to Madison to cover the topic of racial disparities, you ought to have some meat about why Madison, specifically, has this problem. Everybody's so damned polite, including the get-angry guy.

Music video without the music — but with the sounds of tapping feet and so forth — is ineffably silly.

Here's David Bowie and Mick Jagger:



From "All Music Videos Are Weird/And this music-free rendition of Dancing in the Streets proves it," (which includes the original video with the music).

Is it that music videos are weird or that dancing itself is weird? I was walking down the street the other day, and I saw a man miming with these extravagant waving arm movements and squatting and slinking leg action. I thought: I've got to write about this in my notebook of strange things I've been seeing. Then I noticed he had iPod headphones in. Suddenly, it's not at all strange.

"You ask taxpayers to hang on to seven years of their personal tax information in case they’re ever audited, and you can’t keep six months’ worth of employee emails?"

Said Paul Ryan, in what the NYT is characterizing as a "shouting match":
"Sitting here listening to this testimony, I don’t believe it,” Representative Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, told the commissioner, John Koskinen, at a hearing of the Ways and Means Committee. “That’s your problem. No one believes you.”
Video:

Adventures in nonfiction narrative e-publishing.

Tony Horwitz disappears into thin air (to pinch a phrase from nonfiction narrative bound-paper-object publishing).

I'm reading that NYT op-ed right now because the link was sent to me by a fiction writer whom I'm trying to prod to take e-publishing seriously. Horwitz tells a horror story and ends by resituating himself in the (dying?) world of old-fashioned real-object book publishing.

But Horwitz is writing in the nonfiction narrative genre, which is what is getting taught to the privileged kids at Harvard, by Jill Abramson, who was ousted by the NYT, which is flailing in the digital age.

Horwitz notes that most of stuff on the e-book best-seller list is fiction, and I think the e-market for fiction, especially genre fiction, is much better. I'm thinking maybe there's more e-hope for the fiction writer than for the nonfiction narrator, especially if the fiction is in a genre like sci-fi or YA (Young Adult).

My correspondent used YA as a verb, as in: When my serious literary novel didn't sell, I YA'd it, but it still didn't sell.

I had an idea for an app: YA it 4 U.  Put any e-text into it — "The Scarlet Letter," say, or whatever the authorities are inflicting on kids these days — and it rewrites it according to the conventions of Young Adult literature.

Most of what I know about YA comes from the cool New Yorker article: "The Teen Whisperer: How the author of 'The Fault in Our Stars' built an ardent army of fans." I take it that the conventions to be programmed into my app are: "narrated in a clever, confiding voice," with characters like "sweetly intellectual teen-age boys" and "complicated, charismatic girls," "funny," with "story lines propelled by spontaneous road trips and outrageous pranks," and feeding "a youthfully insatiable appetite for big questions" like "What is an honorable life? How do we wrest meaning from the unexpected death of someone close to us? What do we do when we realize that we’re not as special as we thought we were?"

Well, clearly you could YA "The Scarlet Letter." But can you program a robot to YA "The Scarlet Letter"? That's a question, but not, I suspect, the kind of "big question" for which these kids today have an "insatiable appetite." What counts as a cheeseburger of a question and what is an arugula question? Surely not that, right?

Under the European Union's Institute for Gender Equality, the authorities perform genital examination on schoolchildren without their parents’ consent.

They are looking for evidence of the crime of genital mutilation... and finding it. 
School health services in the small Swedish city of Norrköping have found 60 cases of female genital mutilation (FGM) among schoolgirls since March, with evidence of mutilation found in all 30 girls in one class, 28 of the most severe form.

"The Robot Restaurant is an absolute blast. We had fun from the moment we entered..."

"... and I’m still not sure my brain has been able to process everything we saw. As much as the crazy show, we loved watching the spectators sitting across from us. Without exception, they had their eyes wide open and huge smiles plastered across their faces. Just like us."



How much stimulation do you want in a restaurant? I have seen Chuck E. Cheese's, and I don't ever want to see anything like that again, and I'd like to think that if I did ever find my way to Japan, I would not fall — because it's Japanese! — for what looks to me like the nightmare you have after eating at Chuck E. Cheese's.

A palate cleanser, from the annals of cheese dreams:

Mayor Bill de Blasio meets a campaign promise to fulfill a "moral obligation to right this injustice" — the imprisonment of 5 men convicted in the Central Park jogger case.

The settlement of $40 million represents about $1 million for per year in prison for each man. By contrast, Mayor Bloomberg had fought the civil lawsuit arguing that the men were prosecuted in good faith at the time:
In 2011, a senior corporation counsel lawyer said that the charges had been supported by “abundant probable cause, including confessions that withstood intense scrutiny, in full and fair pretrial hearings and at two lengthy public trials.”

In early 2013, the city’s Law Department echoed those views. “The case is not about whether the teens were wrongly convicted,” a department spokeswoman said. “It’s about whether prosecutors and police deliberately engaged in misconduct.”
The convictions were vacated after an investigation by the Manhattan district attorney, who "found DNA and other evidence that the woman had been raped and beaten not by the five teenagers but by another man, Matias Reyes, a convicted rapist and murderer who had confessed to acting alone in the attack."

So, on the one hand, you have de Blasio approach, which I think is that the city has a moral obligation to pay compensation, based on the years spent in prison for a crime we now feel sure these men did not do. On the other hand, you have the Bloomberg approach, which withholds compensation except where there is a violation of law giving rise to a civil claim, and that did not happen if the prosecutors behaved ethically in seeking the conviction based on the evidence they had at the time.

Choose one.
  
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A new tag: "homophobia politics."

Yesterday, I said that I'm watching the "Emerging trend" of "Democrats insinuating that Republican politicians are gay," and I wanted a tag to express what I'm trying to say. The idea is that there is a background idea that a Republican politician is vulnerable to rumors of homosexuality on the theory that those who might vote for this person have an animus toward gay people.

This is only a background idea, not something to say directly. Obviously, you can't just blurt out your suspicions of gayness the way Brian Schweitzer stupidly did (described at the link). You need to find ways to insinuate, to say it without saying it — and I have long had a tag for that kind of thing: unsaid things.

Unsaid things is one of my favorite topics, and things that fall into this category are things that, aptly enough, most people would leave unsaid. There's a convention in human society not to outline the secret motives of others. As long as someone hasn't actually said something, you ought not to act as though you know what that thing is. But I'm here to transgress on that convention. I think I can and should do it because:

1. I know how to frame sentences so that I don't say what I don't know (using any number of phrases like I suspect that and What X could be thinking is or One might speculate that…).

2. It is my belief that high-level political players do a lot of dirty work this way.

3. Some of the worst human impulses — such as racism and sexism — are released by this kind of messaging. I have a racial politics tag and a gender politics tag, so homophobia politics belongs in the tag set.

4. I blog based on what I find interesting, and I think that there is nothing more interesting than the inside of other people's heads. Every day I celebrate the wonder of having a human mind of my own, and it is fascinating to look around at other people and know that each one of them contains an equivalent universe.

5. I have heard the moralistic chiding to take people at their word, but that can't be the general rule, not if you want to be a competent citizen in a democracy. In some human relationships, you might choose to take another person at his word, but that in itself is a decision based on an assessment of what you think is in that other person's head.

6. I've been part of the law and lawyer-manufacturing enterprise for 3 and a half decades, and I know an awful lot about the way language is used in manipulative ways to put ideas in other people's head without saying things that you have reason not to say. Lawyers' arguments and judges' opinions necessarily leave unsaid the things that don't belong within the legal framework. (Revisit item #1, supra.)

7. I've been pushed back so many times over 10 years of blogging. I have heard about how this sort of thing is unbecoming, unseemly, and unmannerly, and how no one is going to like me anymore if I don't stop. Which is to say, I've built up my toughness, and it makes me particularly fit to do something that needs to be done.

June 19, 2014

"Sara expresses her feelings to Rocky."

P1100324

That's photo #5 in a 7-photo sequence at Meade's blog, The Puparazzo.

"Wisconsin's 'Deep State' hasn’t given up on Scott Walker."

"This is just a spoiling attack to try to keep him out of action for 2016," says Instapundit, linking to my post today on the document release showing that prosecutors in the John Doe investigation were working on the theory that Scott Walker was at the center of a "criminal scheme" interacting with groups that supported him in the recall election.

That prompts Ace to look into this term "deep state":
Searching the web for "The Deep State," I find Bill Moyers discussing it in an American context. (Turkey and Egypt are also said to have "deep states.")

He of course claims that it's a conservative-tilting permanent state forever thwarting the aspirations of "the People."
Here's the Wikipedia article on "deep state."

ADDED: Looking around at some local Madison sites and at some less-local lefty sites, I see a scary love of prosecutorial aggression and overreach. The slavering enthusiasm is so off-putting, so much at odds with the liberal values I believe in, that I feel pushed away onto the side of conservatives with whom I have little reason to affiliate. 

Hero...

... and his heroine.

"[T]he clearest signal yet that the fashion industry has finally hit porn chic fatigue."

 American Apparel ousts CEO Dov Charney.
It only took repeated allegations of sexual misconduct. And... a net loss of $106 million in 2013 and a $37 million loss in 2012....

As a brand, it also relied on provocative advertising campaigns to give its mostly generic wares a lucrative sizzle. Those ads often featured crude snapshots of young female employees in compromising position...

[I]t’s hard not to connect American Apparel’s porn-ish advertising with Charney’s own views about women....
That's Robin Givhan in WaPo. What is Charney accused of? Here:
Charney has been the subject of several lawsuits alleging inappropriate sexual conduct with female employees. He has acknowledged having sexual relationships with workers, but said they were consensual.
How can you "brand" your clothes as transgressively sexual when transgressive sex is going on?

"Baroque-Era Drawings Reveal Early Ideas About Evolution."

"Charles Le Brun (1619-1690) used his artistry to compare human and animal faces, later inspiring Charles Darwin to write The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals."

Vogue Knitting rereleased a popular 1991 sweater, and on Facebook, people are calling it the "Vagina Sweater."

An emailer tells me. Here's the sweater:



Looking for the Facebook mentions, I stumbled onto this unrelated story about "vaginal knitting" performance art:
"I'm spending 28 days knitting from wool that I've inserted in my vagina," the Melbourne-based artist explains in the video [at the link]. "Everyday I take a new skein of wool that's been wound so that it will unravel from the centre and I stick it up inside me... and then I pull out the thread and knit."
Wool! Wool itches. I'd recommend silk yarn for your vaginal knitting art stunts.
[T]he performance project aims to address taboos surrounding female genitals and a woman's body in general...  [Feminist artist Casey] Jenkins... promises to work non-stop during the days she's knitting, come hell or high water... or menstruation.
The menstruation is the best part. And it makes me want to see the Vagina Sweater done with some color variations. Also, I think the term should be "Vulva Sweater." I'd like to address the taboo against confining "vagina" to its proper place.

"Prosecutors accuse Gov. Scott Walker of personally overseeing a sweeping 'criminal scheme' to illegally coordinate fundraising and campaign activity among conservative groups..."

"... in a broad effort to help him — as well as Republican senators — fend off recalls targeting them in 2011 and 2012, court documents unsealed Thursday show."
In the documents, which were unsealed by [Seventh U.S. Circuit Court Judge Frank H. Easterbrook] court judge Thursday morning, prosecutors described what they called a "criminal scheme" to circumvent state campaign finance and election laws....
Lawyers for Wisconsin Club for Growth respond:
"These documents show how the John Doe prosecutors adopted a blatantly unconstitutional interpretation of Wisconsin law that they used to launch a secret criminal investigation targeting conservatives throughout Wisconsin. That legal theory has now been rejected by two courts," said Andrew Grossman of Baker Hostetler, the law firm representing Club for Growth. "Sunlight is the best disinfectant, and this is a story that needs to be told to prevent more abuses and to hold the John Doe prosecutors accountable for violating the rights of Wisconsinites."
IN THE COMMENTS: rcommal said:
Note the inconsistent use of tense in this piece. It's the "tell" that its goal is not to illuminate but to mislead. Reportage, my ass.
ADDED: The NYT says:
Legal filings by the prosecutors provided a rare view of the inner workings of a far-flung network of conservative nonprofit groups that have come to play a decisive role in national and state elections, moving hundreds of millions of dollars into campaigns by avoiding traditional political action committees that face tougher disclosure requirements.

Some of the groups, in Wisconsin and elsewhere, appear to serve as little more than conduits for funneling money from donors around the country to an array of allied organizations with ties to specific constituencies, such as gun owners or abortion opponents. Prosecutors allege that the groups in Wisconsin coordinated closely with allies of Mr. Walker both in the state and in Washington, with Mr. Walker’s campaign consultants simultaneously advising him on political strategy and television advertising while also raising money and directing the activities of an array of outside groups.

What does it look and sound like when a big corporate CEO goes all out trying to be hip and cool?

It looks like T-Mobile's CEO John Legere. You've got to play the video to know how awful it is. It's so much more than that he's saying AT&T and Verizon are "fuckers" that hate you and are "raping" you. It's his glowing self-love and... I've got to stop thinking about it.

I got that link via Reddit, where it's #1 on the "hot" list, and scanning the comments, I see they love him. They can have him.

"[W]e only live once and every day spent living your principles is a day at liberty. It is clear that history is on our side."

Julian Assange, doing an "Ask Me Anything," earlier today on Reddit, in an answer to the question: "If you had a chance to do this all again, would you, and what changes would you make?"

Emerging trend: Democrats insinuating that Republican politicians are gay.

I'm saying this is a trend to watch, because I'm seeing the second example of something within one week.

Last weekend, I noticed that the Alec MacGillis hit piece on Scott Walker in The New Republic, which was mostly racial politics, had some material that I believe was intended to float the rumor that Scott Walker is a closeted gay man.

And today, here's CNN reporting that Former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer recently said in an interview:
"If you were just a regular person, you turned on the TV, and you saw Eric Cantor talking, I would say — and I'm fine with gay people, that's all right — but my gaydar is 60-70 percent."

"Don't hold this against me, but I'm going to blurt it out. How do I say this ... men in the South, they are a little effeminate... They just have effeminate mannerisms."
Now, I had to Google Schweitzer's name to find out that he's a Democrat, so that CNN article is also an example of another much more well-documented trend: mainstream media omitting the party affiliation of a Democrat who says or does anything bad or stupid (or submerging the party affiliation under enough boring paragraphs that it's as good as omitted).

Anyway, why would Schweitzer say something so stupid? It makes no sense. Should non-gay people be talking about their "gaydar"? Who brags about 60-70% gaydar? That seems like a high fail rate. And if he's not himself looking for sexual adventures, how does he know whether he's right or not, especially as he's purporting to detect gayness in men who are not openly gay? And, worst of all, if he thinks Southern men are just effeminate, doesn't that imply that Cantor would fall within the 30-40% who set off Schweitzer's gaydar but are not gay? I guess Schweitzer — who admits he knows he's just blurting crap out — just wanted to say that Cantor seems gay and then to take it back by saying, oh, but he's Southern, and Southern men always seem gay to me — which gratuitously insults both Southern men and gay men (and, in a way, women!).

How could Schweitzer go that badly wrong? Where did all that come from. Here's my suspicion. He operates with a backroom culture where people really do talk like that. The idea of floating the rumor that a Republican politician is gay comes up all the time, as does the idea that Southern men seem gay because they are effeminate. But the strategy would be to say something that puts the idea in our head without actually saying it. It's not the talking point, but the secret notes behind the talking point. Schweitzer just blurted out the secret notes.

Schweitzer seems to be really dumb. The trick is to do it in a smart way, so it's deniable and the person calling you on it seems delusional or weird. For example, back in 2005, I blogged about how I thought that the NYT tried to create the impression that Supreme Court nominee John Roberts was gay. I pointed to a lot of things about the NYT's presentation, including a photo layout that included Roberts wearing plaid pants. I got pushed back, ridiculed for talking about plaid pants. The NYT had the deniability it sought if, in fact, it sought to put that idea in my head.

This is a technique that requires some skill and subtlety, so if there is an idea in that Democratic Party backroom to screw up Republicans with gay rumors, they'd better take care who they let into that room. They've got to keep that kind of strategizing in the closet. They'd better have some good radar about who's too dumb/inarticulate to work that game. They've got to filter out the Schweitzers.

Meanwhile, you've got MacGillis (on Walker) and the writers and editors who put together that John Roberts piece. These are people who are capable of playing a subtler game, and that's the game I'm watching... in case it's really happening.

I need a good tag for this trend watch, but for now I'll revive the old "plaidgate."

ADDED: I think Obama used this technique on Romney back in April 2012.

AND: I've decided to make the new tag "homophobia politics."

"The word 'innovate' — to make new — used to have chiefly negative connotations..."

"... it signified excessive novelty, without purpose or end. Edmund Burke called the French Revolution a 'revolt of innovation'; Federalists declared themselves to be 'enemies to innovation.' George Washington, on his deathbed, was said to have uttered these words: 'Beware of innovation in politics.' Noah Webster warned in his dictionary, in 1828, 'It is often dangerous to innovate on the customs of a nation.'"

From "The Disruption Machine/What the gospel of innovation gets wrong," an excellent New Yorker article by Jill Lepore.

"No, that’s not a video of a bee rescuing its friend from a spider."

"So, sorry, this is not a noble, brave act, much as I might like it to be. This is just two clumsy bees trying to find their way home."

Via Metafilter, where somebody says "I choose to bee-lieve," and somebody else says "Americans subliminally overestimated the authority of the guy who posted the video, since nature documentaries tend to have British narrators."

(I blogged the viral hero bee video back here.)

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch dispatches George Will and swaps in the "compassionate conservative" Michael Gerson.

"The change has been under consideration for several months, but a column published June 5, in which Mr. Will suggested that sexual assault victims on college campuses enjoy a privileged status, made the decision easier."
The column was offensive and inaccurate; we apologize for publishing it. We have heard from both conservative and liberal readers asking for new conservative voices. We believe Mr. Gerson’s addition to our op-ed page will be a refreshing and revitalizing change.
Because what's more refreshing and revitalizing than caving to the demands of nonconservatives who posed as outraged over something they pretended to misunderstand?

ADDED: I've hardly noticed Michael Gerson over the years, though he's been a WaPo columnist since 2007. I've got 3 post tagged with his name (and 21 with George Will's). I tend to think that a liberal newspaper like The Washington Post will have relatively bland conservative columnists, and I'd always thought of Will as innocuous, but the standard of noxiousness is low/phony when liberals are judging conservatives.

Here's Gerson's first column as the Post-Dispatch's not-Will: "The reality conservatives must face." Uh oh. I think I know where that is going: Conservatives must be more like liberals or they won't win elections. Now, let me read it:
Let me stipulate that reform conservatism is the best hope of a Republican Party struggling to attract middle-class voters...

Some conservatives are trying to make common cause with tea party populism, which may be open to pro-middle-class reforms, but certainly not on immigration...

... the face of America is changing...

The ideal [presidential] nominee, therefore, would have tea party populist roots, middle-class sensibilities, a policy interest in social mobility and a conspicuously welcoming approach to immigration.
Exactly what I expected.

"For the Annals of Narcissism: "Actually, I feel sorry for him... Maybe, if he had a taken the time to listen to me over the years, maybe he’d be a little smarter than he is..."

"... and be a little less ignorant and maybe he’d have a few more friends. He likes to live in his own little bubble. In all seriousness, what I’ve heard about Cruz is that he knows himself and nobody else, basically."

It takes one to know one, they say.

The quote is from Representative Peter King.

When is it okay to say "I know you feel that you’re a victim... If you would be more careful, maybe you wouldn’t be victimized as frequently"?

Will we ever get back to old-school victim-blaming?

The quote is from Claire McCaskill.

The context is of course nothing anywhere near advising women to take precautions and learn how to defend against sexual assaults, which is why I stripped out the context to expose the abstract concept of demanding that people activate themselves to deflect the offenses of others.

The actual context is Dr. Mehmet Oz, who has talked about products on his TV show but doesn't (he says) authorize the use of his name, his image, or his quotes as these products are marketed. He testified this week at a Senate hearing on weight-loss scams, like green coffee extract, which Dr. Oz called "the No. 1 miracle in a bottle to burn your fat." Asked "why you need to say this stuff [when] you know it’s not true," Dr. Oz said something inane about challenging the "orthodoxy" of scientifically tested medicine with "alternative medical therapies," which he likened to "the power of prayer." He offered people hope, he insisted, and he said he doesn't make money on the sale of these products:
"I do not endorse any products or receive any money from any products that are sold... I have never allowed my image to be used in any ad."

Claire McCaskill, the Democratic Missouri senator who chaired the hearing, was not having any of that. “I know you feel that you’re a victim,” she said. “If you would be more careful, maybe you wouldn’t be victimized as frequently.”
This hardcore resistance to the plea of victimhood is context-specific for McCaskill, who has vigilantly policed statements about women and rape. Remember, she won reelection in Missouri by demolishing Todd Akin over something inept he said about rape.

June 18, 2014

"Tornadicly, Toby."

That's Meade's title for a set of pics about Toby, the Labradoodle, but I'll just show you this one picture of Toby not looking all that much like a tornado:

P1100121

(He looks like a baby Yeti there, no?)

"Before I unfollow you, you make me sick. I will never again read a word you write. Rest in peace, little rabbit."

Author Jeanette Winterson gets a big reaction to her tweet — with half-skinned rabbit photograph — "Rabbit ate my parsley. I am eating the rabbit."

In other meat-and-Twitter news — also with graphic photography — in Yulin, China, they celebrate the solstice "by slaughtering thousands of dogs, simmering their meat in hotpots, and serving them with litchis and booze to locals and visitors":
But China’s growing numbers of pet owners are paying attention—and they and their supporters are pressuring locals to stop the slaughter. Animal rights activists, law professors and lawyers say the festival is illegal... Some celebrities have taken to Sina Weibo (SINA), China’s answer to Twitter (TWTR), to denounce dog consumption.

Gay utopia...

... or ghetto?

"The Scientific Way to Cut a Cake."

For the annals of viral advertising...

I'll happily carry the virus for "Hello Flo's Period Starter Kit":



Don't forget the Vagician!

At the Pinkness Café...

Untitled

... you can talk about whatever you want.

"Twitter unblocks 'blasphemous' tweets in Pakistan."

But it retains other country-specific blocks:
• Restrictions in Germany against a neo-Nazi account
• A ban in France against a series of homophobic tweets
• Censorship in India of claims that a soft drinks company had distributed contaminated products

Chuck Todd says Obama's "over," Cheney says he's "so wrong about so much," the GOP has the votes to impeach, and "Obama Meets Giant, Talking Robot Giraffe at White House."

Drudge tells a dire story:



Click image to enlarge

Links: "so over," "so wrong about so much," impeachment, and talking robot giraffe.

"Sleep is the most moronic fraternity in the world, with the heaviest dues and the crudest rituals."

"It is a mental torture I find debasing … I simply cannot get used to the nightly betrayal of reason, humanity, genius."

"It’s the roads themselves that cause traffic."

"We found that there’s this perfect one-to-one relationship."
If a city had increased its road capacity by 10 percent between 1980 and 1990, then the amount of driving in that city went up by 10 percent. If the amount of roads in the same city then went up by 11 percent between 1990 and 2000, the total number of miles driven also went up by 11 percent. It’s like the two figures were moving in perfect lockstep, changing at the same exact rate.

Reading TNR's "Unelectable Whiteness of Scott Walker" is "like going to a movie called 'Godzilla,' only to find out that it's a Keira Knightley Victorian era period piece."

Christian Schneider "kept waiting for a single example of Walker's 'toxic racial politics' and found exactly none."
In monster movies, directors have to make a decision as to when to finally reveal the monster. Audiences generally get at least a half hour of rustling trees and shaking water glasses before the monster finally bursts onto the screen.

But in MacGillis' article, though the trees rustle and the water ripples, the monster never appears.

Hillary Clinton says something quite like Mitt Romney's old 47% remark.

When I opened this blog at 7:15 a.m., I said I had 2 things I wanted to write about from the Hillary Town Hall transcript. I got the first thing out at 9:27 — it's not easy! — "Hillary Clinton cannot let you hold a viewpoint about guns that is terrorizing the vast majority of Americans."

Now, it's almost noon, and I've got to tell you the other thing, which is something I am going to connect to Mitt Romney's infamous "47%" remark. You remember the "SECRET VIDEO: Romney Tells Millionaire Donors What He REALLY Thinks of Obama Voters" that hurt him more than anything in the 2012 election. He said that there were "47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what," who believe what they believe — "that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it" — and it was his "job... not to worry about those people," because he could "never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."

"U.S. patent office cancels Redskins trademark registration, says name is disparaging."

Wow!
The ruling does not mean that the Redskins have to change the name of the team. It does affect whether the team and the NFL can make money from merchandising because it limits the team’s legal options when others use the logos and the name on T shirts, sweatshirts, beer glasses and license plate holders.
So everyone can make money selling Redskins gear? (There are appeals to come, of course.)

ADDED: Here's the Redskins' statement on the decision, expressing confidence that they will win on appeal (as, in fact, they have won twice before).

"Ben ('Two Pricks') Jonson."

"One of the first to codify the rules of punctuation in English was the playwright Ben Jonson--or rather, Ben:Jonson, who included the colon (he called it the 'pause' or 'two pricks') in his signature. In the final chapter of The English Grammar (1640), Jonson briefly discusses the primary functions of the comma, parenthesis, period, colon, question mark (the 'interrogation'), and exclamation point (the 'admiration')."

From "A Brief History of Punctuation/Where Do the Marks of Punctuation Come From and Who Made Up the Rules?"

Oh, no! I didn't need to see that!

John Kerry and Leonardo DiCaprio embracing.

It's not the man-on-man love that bothers me. Or even the married person swayed by a playboy. It's the grotesquerie of politicians finding love with the Hollywood stars.

Once more you open the door/And you're here in my heart/And my heart will go on and on...

No. Could you close that door please? Separation of entertainment and politics. Entertainment indulges us with fantasy and escape. Keep that out of politics. It's disgusting.

Hillary Clinton cannot let you hold a viewpoint about guns that is terrorizing the vast majority of Americans.

At yesterday's CNN Town Hall with Hillary Clinton, a Maryland teacher named Gail Santa Maria expressed concern about school shootings and asked whether "reinstating the ban on assault weapons and banning high capacity magazines would do any good?" Hillary broke in and said: "Yes, I do. I do." That got loud, sustained applause from the very friendly audience.

Gail Santa Maria had put one thing in question form, and that was enough to send Hillary Clinton into her "guns" riff. When Hillary got to the end of that riff, Gail Santa Maria said: "My question is, why does anyone..." And the moderator, Christiane Amanpour, cut her off with a stern "You just had a question. Sorry, ma'am" and moved on. That made me feel bad for the school teacher, who was an unusually timorous lady. And yet... the pacing cannot slow way down for humble little people like this.

But in fact, the school teacher was not too timorous to talk over Hillary and say "74 more" when Hillary said the line "the horrors of the shootings at Sandy Hook and now we've had more in the time since." Hillary's "more" triggered the teacher's "74 more," a repetition of the dubious factoid that is getting lodged in voters' brains. Hillary herself never uttered the dubious factoid, but her "more" made the timid schoolteacher say "74 more." No one is accountable for that heavily inflated number, but we heard it. We heard it as if we were hearing our own internal voice. Yes, we already know that. The number is 74.

Now, let's get into the substance of Hillary's "guns" riff, which contains the amazing assertion that I've put in the post title. She begins:

CNN is annoying me.

I want to blog 2 things from the "town hall" show Hillary Clinton did on CNN yesterday. I need the transcript. I google "hillary town hall transcript" and the first hit is:
CNN Town Hall: Hillary Clinton's Hard Choices - CNN.com
www.cnn.com/hillarytownhall/ CNN
CNN Town Hall: Hillary Clinton's Hard Choices. ... CNN TV · HLN · Transcripts · About us · Full Site · Feedback. © 2014 Cable News Network, Inc. A Time Warner ...
That ought to work, right? Wrong. I get to a page with practically nothing on it but this:



I need Plan B for finding the transcript, and Hillary's continual waving is mesmerizing in the most irritating possible way. It's not as though she's saying "Hi, Ann." It's "Hi Tumblr." I guess CNN thinks that's hip and cool, because all the kids these day use Tumblr, but the inane emptiness of it all is making me feel that CNN has no decent idea of how to be a compelling, serious news site. Hillary is doing a town hall to explain her way past Benghazi and on to the presidency. "Hi Tumblr" is no better an explanation than "What difference at this point does it make?"

But maybe CNN and Hillary's people — they must be in on it, because they have control, right? — think a breezier, younger Hillary is necessary and these social media things must be done these days for that certain sector of the electorate, those people who feel their way to the voting booth, those people who pushed The Likeable One past her in 2008.

Eventually, I scroll to the bottom of what is a long page, and absolutely the last thing on the page, in tiny, faint print is "transcripts," which I click on and get to a page that begins with a calendar where I can click on yesterday's date and go to a page with a list where I find "CNN Town Hall - Hillary Clinton's Hard Choices" and click through, at last to the page with the transcript.

Hi, Transcript.

I'm going to do 2 more posts, covering 2 things that — as I watched last night — I made a mental note to blog this morning. I think these are things that no one has noticed yet and that you'll find striking once I've pointed them out.

ADDED: I'm finding this post very hard to proofread because I have to view it in HTML mode to keep Hillary from waving at me distractingly.

June 17, 2014

"Dana Milbank's Heritage disaster."

Dylan Byers explains.

I'm 34.

According to "Can We Guess Your Real Age?"

Megyn Kelly has some trouble with Dinesh D'Souza's America/child molester analogy.

"Look at it this way: If I was in a family and I believed my dad was some kind of serial killer or a child molester, I would still love him. He would be part of my family, but I’d do everything I could to prevent him from doing evil actions. I would think that would be good for the world and for my dad. So with Obama, he believes he is doing the world a favor and America a favor by controlling this rogue elephant that is the United States."

In the context of the (arguably) destroyed IRS email, let's revisit an old question: Why didn't Richard Nixon destroy the Watergate tapes?

I've taught the Watergate Tapes case — United States v. Nixon — for 20 years, and I think I always include what I believe is a central question about that case and about law more generally: Why didn't Richard Nixon destroy the Watergate tapes?

Nixon had possession of the tapes, and no physical force prevented his people from starting an "accidental" fire or causing a chance encounter with magnets... Yeah, bitch, magnets....



Here's the description in the book "The Brethren" of how Nixon reacted to the news of the Supreme Court's decision:
His Chief of Staff, Alexander M. Haig, told him that the Supreme Court decision had just come down. Nixon had seriously contemplated not complying if he lost, or merely turning over excerpts of the tapes or edited transcripts. He had counted on there being some exception for national security matters, and at least one dissent. He had hoped there would be some “air” in the opinion. 

“Unanimous?” Nixon guessed.

“Unanimous,” Haig said. “There is no air in it at all.”

“None at all?” Nixon asked.

“It’s tight as a drum.”

After a few hours spent complaining to his aides about the Court and the Justices, Nixon decided that he had no choice but to comply. Seventeen days later, he resigned.
So, why didn't Richard Nixon destroy the Watergate tapes? 3 ideas for an answer:

1. Nixon was part of the American culture of the rule of law that had grown and deepened over the years. We were long past the days when Andrew Jackson (supposedly) said: "John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it!" This is the answer I've always liked, and I can see that if I like it too much I'm falling prey to the age-old human foible of believing what you want to believe.

2. Nixon knew that if he said the tapes were destroyed, no one would accept any attempt to explain it away as a mishap, and he'd be impeached forthwith. It was nothing other than the best self-serving political move he could make at that point.

3. Nixon was, in fact, a fool not to destroy the tapes.
"I had bad advice, bad advice from well-intentioned lawyers who had sort of a cockeyed notion that I would be destroying evidence," Nixon said years later in a videotaped interview. "I should have destroyed them."
Let's compare the IRS email story. There are some differences:

1. Nixon was more hated and people weren't apt to cut him any slack, and Obama, whatever he does, is relentlessly liked.

2. The press was bearing down hard on Nixon — "They're after me! The president. They hate my guts. That's what they're after." — and the press is ever ready to give Obama a boost.

3. Nixon seemed tricky and shifty, unlike Obama, whose lies seem less... lie-like.

4. Tapes are bigger, bulkier objects, and email is evanescent.

5. Nixon, actually, at some level, felt shame about transgressing what another branch of government says is the law, and Obama has great confidence in asserting his view of the law and sticking to it. 

6. The Watergate scandal was about unlawful actions intended to help reelect the President, and... oh, wait... that's not a difference.

It was 20 years ago today...

... that we watched a 90-minute TV show that consisted of a white SUV driving on an LA freeway. It was experienced as very exciting because the SUV contained a famous person and we were told that he was pointing a .357 Magnum at his head and maybe we'd get to see it live — a celebrity blowing his head off.

"Scott Walker is the closest person the Republican Party has to an early favorite..."

"... and not simply because of Chris Christie’s nosedive from grace or because Jeb Bush is still waffling about his intentions," writes The New Republic, in email seeking subscribers and flaunting its big hit piece on Walker, "The unelectable whiteness of Scott Walker/journey through the poisonous, racially divided world that produced a Republican star."


Click to enlarge.

The email continues:
Walker has implemented an impeccably conservative agenda in a state that has gone Democratic in seven straight presidential elections. Unlike Mitt Romney, or, for that matter, John McCain, he is beloved by the conservative base, but he has the mien of a mainstream candidate, not a favorite of the fringe.
That's damned close to a confession that the people at TNR see Walker as a big threat and are acting on the motivation to take him down while they can, to portray him as toxic and untouchable to would-be donors.

But the email does proceed as if TNR is simply concerned that uninformed Republicans may make a mistake:
Anyone who believes that he is the Republican to save his party—let alone the one to win a presidential election—needs to understand the toxic and ruptured landscape he will leave behind in Wisconsin.

In the latest issue of The New Republic, senior editor Alec MacGillis takes a journey through the poisonous, racially divided world that produced a Republican star.
TNR is trying to help.

"Justices utter the word 'certiorari' as often as New York police say 'perpetrator.'"

And strangely enough, almost every Justice has his own special pronunciation of the word. They all say the first syllable the same — "ser" — but after that, it's a free for all.
Justice Clarence Thomas has probably the most unique take...
Wouldn't you know?!
... pronouncing the first two syllables as "sertzee." Several justices pronounce the last syllable as "eye," while others say "ee." Justice Anthony Kennedy...  is the only justice to pronounce it “ser-shee-or-ARR-eye,” so that the end rhymes with "far cry." Befitting her upbringing in fast-talking New York, Justice Sonia Sotomayor drops an entire syllable, pronouncing the word as “ser-shee-ARR-ee.”

Who said "Whatever I have or don’t have, you did not help me build it"?

Sounds right-wing — doesn't it? — like a direct affront to Elizabeth "you didn't build that" Warren. (Hey, I like that "You Didn't Build That" has its own Wikipedia page. I have a "you didn't build that" tag.)

But the speaker of the quote in this post title is — did you guess? — Al Sharpton. Al Sharpton was telling off Charles Rangel. Rangel, 84, is running for reelection to the congressional seat he's held since 1970 and has a couple challengers in the primary. Criticizing  Rangel's generation, the Harlem "Gang of Four" and the founders of the Congressional Black Caucus, Sharpton said:
“Part of the problem is that they didn’t groom their replacements.... When you don’t groom your replacements, and you operate like you’re going to live forever, then people in the next generation, that you did not invest in, start taking steps themselves. That’s where I think a Michael Walrond and an Adriano Espaillat come from.”
Walrond and Espaillat are the 2 challengers. Espaillat, like Sharpton himself, is 59. Walrond is 42.
“Whatever I have or don’t have, you did not help me build it,” [Sharpton] said, referring to Mr. Rangel’s colleagues. “So what you can’t do is come to me and say I owe you. I built my reputation, influence, whatever you want to call it, because I fought civil rights issues and people responded. None of them put me in position. It’s just that simple.”

I thought of a clever argument that could be used to sell the story that some computer snafu ate all that Lois Lerner email.

It seems as though no one — not even the administration's fans in the mainstream media — accepts the explanation, which demands that we believe that the IRS's approach to handling email was mind-bogglingly incompetent.

Here's my idea for an argument: Call attention to the big screw-up with the Obamacare website. You wouldn't have believed that a computer system that big, that important, and that well-funded would be so abysmally bad, but we know it was.

Think about it. If you hadn't yet seen that atrocious roll out of the Obamacare website, and you heard a prediction of what it would be like — and that prediction was what we now know happened — you would have said: That's ridiculous! It cannot be that bad.

It was that bad!

Okay. That's my free advice to IRS-scandal fighters. Go ahead and use it. And feel free to use the larger version of this argument whenever you get in trouble: We're not evil. We're just terribly incompetent.

ADDED: Today, there are new claims that of computer crashes destroying more email from additional IRS investigation targets.

I'm getting a late start here this morning, because we spent a wakeful hour in the middle of the night sitting in the basement...

... while tornadoes taunted our segment of Wisconsin.

I don't think I'd ever heard the tornado warning sirens go off repeatedly. Normally, they go off once, and you're supposed to respond and check media reports to figure out how long to stay in the basement. But last night, the sirens went off at least 3 times. I guess they were trying to wake more people up or to convince sluggish deniers to haul ourselves out of bed and go downstairs. I think this was the only time in over 30 years in Madison when I've gone down in the basement after getting in bed and falling asleep.

But fortunately, sleep loss and a late start to blogging are the only damage at Meadhouse, and I'm happy to see that no one in the area got hurt, though I see "at least 23 homes were damaged and at least six had their roofs torn off."

June 16, 2014

Hey!

P1080567

Meade's dog blog is no longer called Dogging Meade. It got too burdensome fending off the idiotic Brit slang, especially face-to-face with strangers. These are nice people who feel good about nice pictures of their nice dogs. Edginess isn't apt. The new name is:

The Puparazzo!

Get there. Every day. For your smiling dogs. Not posed in somebody's house. But out and captured being dog-like, photographed by the great Puparazzo, the inimitable Meade.

Why can't I just eat my waffle?

"Mary Burke accuses Scott Walker of 'waffling' on gay marriage issue."

"YouTube's Biggest Draw Plays Games, Earns $4 Million a Year."

"Cussing, Comic Videogame Reviewer PewDiePie Has 27 Million Subscribers."
Felix Kjellberg... A native of Gothenburg, the seemingly modest Swede... simply plays games and allows his audience—mostly teenagers—to peer in on his experience and hear random opinions interspersed with odd behavior. He contorts, screeches, swears, sings and even "twerks" to portray his feelings.
Here's an example:



So the secret to making $4 million a year is: 1. Be a very cute guy. 2. Be childlike and silly. 3. Play in a way that makes the viewer feel she is not alone but is playing with you.

And that's why Felix Kjellberg is a 4-millionaire and you're not.

Rush Limbaugh takes on TNR's "Unelectable Whiteness of Scott Walker" and (in the process) says my name.

I was already listening to that section of the podcast of today's show when Meade — prompted by this rhhardin comment ("Althouse got a mention and quote on Rush at 14:15 eastern" — let me know Rush said my name today. So I just missed the weird experience of listening to a show and suddenly hearing my name. Instead I had the somewhat more unsettling experience of listening waiting for my name to come up, and I think my immediate response was something like "uh oh." Because much as I like what I write to get lifted up by one form of media or another, whenever something is grabbed and used, it's used for someone else's purposes.

So Rush was talking about how Scott Walker is a great model for what the GOP needs to do to win, which is to stand on conservative principle and ignore the advice to move to the middle. And:

"It turns out that judges with daughters are more likely to vote in favor of women’s rights than ones with only sons."

"The effect, a new study found, is most pronounced among male judges appointed by Republican presidents, like Chief Justice Rehnquist," reports Adam Liptak, in the NYT.
The new study considered some 2,500 votes by 224 federal appeals court judges. “Having at least one daughter,” it concluded, “corresponds to a 7 percent increase in the proportion of cases in which a judge will vote in a feminist direction.”

Additional daughters do not seem to matter. But the effect of having a daughter is even larger when you limit the comparison to judges with only one child.

“Having one daughter as opposed to one son,” the study found, “is linked to an even higher 16 percent increase in the proportion of gender-related cases decided in a feminist direction.”
If we assume the study accurately detected a "daughter effect," what would account for it? One might guess it's that parents are attuned to things that might advantage or disadvantage their own children. Or maybe the daughters tend to support the "feminist direction" and make influential arguments to their fathers (and mothers) or make their fathers (and mothers) feel moved to please their daughters.

"Malia Obama has been working as a production assistant on the Los Angeles set of Halle Berry‘s TV series 'Extant'..."

"... the upcoming CBS sci-fi produced by top Obama bundler Steven Spielberg."

Is this wrong somehow? She's not skipping school. It's summer vacation, and she's working, working with the stars. Maybe someone else's teenager would like the slot that went to the President's daughter, but she's reportedly "an aspiring filmmaker."

Is this a campaign finance issue? Daughters of politicians getting glamorous summer jobs from campaign contributors? Any potential for corruption there?

ADDED: Bad timing for this story, so soon after "Chelsea Clinton paid $600K by NBC." Last paragraph at that link:
Yet Clinton’s appointment did not mark the first time NBC Universal had hired children of high-ranking politicians. In 2009, it hired George W. Bush’s daughter Jenna Bush Hager to serve as a correspondent on the “Today” show. In 2011, it hired Sen. John McCain’s daughter Meghan McCain as a contributor on MSNBC.
Why are all these stories about daughters? Is it because we keep choosing — for our high-ranking politicians — men with daughters? Is it because big media more easily accommodates females? Or do females find it easier to hop onto a career path built with political favors?

AND: Whatever they're giving Malia, it seems they're getting their money's worth in PR. I'd never heard of the TV show "Extant." And Halle Berry shifting into television is an indication of her waning star power. But... suddenly, Malia!! "Extant" and Halle Berry's career are... extant.

In case you hadn't noticed, Halle Berry's career is so well known to be in bad shape that people talk about "The Halle Berry Effect." What could be more helpful than juxtaposing her radiant face with the radiant daughter of the most radiant face in all of history?

The NYT's Paul Krugman and Thomas Friedman made me want to rail against listicles that are not in list form, but instead I'm going to give you my proposal to avoid what Krugman warns are going to be "terrible" consequences.

"There are three things we know about man-made global warming. First, the consequences will be terrible if we don’t take quick action to limit carbon emissions."

So begins Paul Krugman, in a column titled "Interests, Ideology and Climate," and I was going to complain about NYT columns that hook us with the announcement that there's a list to follow but then the list isn't list-y enough. It doesn't pop with numbers and boldface and the other format conventions of the genre known as listicle.

But in fact, Krugman gets the second and third item out in the next 2 sentences: "Second, in pure economic terms the required action shouldn’t be hard to take: emission controls, done right, would probably slow economic growth, but not by much. Third, the politics of action are nonetheless very difficult."

So, good enough. It's not like I'm a fan of listicles. It's just that I'm annoyed by the invitation to a listicle that utterly buries the items, as exemplified by Thomas Friedman's new column "5 Principles for Iraq." Try finding the five items: "the first is... The second principle for me derives from... Principle No. 3... Fourth:... Finally...." He doesn't even say "5" or "Fifth," just "Finally"!

Is that supposed to feel erudite? Anyway, there's some interesting material in there, like, "in Iraq today, my enemy’s enemy is my enemy," which means what you think it means: Sunnis and Shiites killing each other is good news. Or, no, he can't say that. He says Sunni nor Shiite leaders are bad. And it's because they don't share our values. They are not "inclusive." The leaders are not inclusive, that is.

So enough with the not-quite-listicles bugaboo. I'm going to take Krugman's first thing absolutely seriously. We need "quick action to limit carbon emissions." Here's my proposal: Everyone who cares about man-made global warming should abstain from air travel. Look at this chart, from a 2013 article titled "Your Biggest Carbon Sin May Be Air Travel":



Sin! That's a heavy-handed word, but once you know the facts, if you are certain (as Paul Krugman is) of the calamity that is man-made global warming, it is a sin to continue to travel by air. I'm using moral suasion here, but many of those who believe as Krugman does support government intervention in markets, and it would be easy to propose taxes on air travel. How about extremely heavy taxes, used to support much better roads for the cars and buses we should be using?

Why am I saying we should be using cars and buses? Because cars and buses are what get us to work and through the errands of daily life in and around where we live. Airplanes are for those longer trips, which are almost entirely dispensable. They are frivolities that have no place in the current emergency.

Quick action is needed: Everyone stop flying now.

If an open-casket funeral is acceptable, then what's wrong with posing the corpse in a sitting position?

2 recent examples, both in New Orleans:

"Mickey Easterling... causally [sic] sitting on an iron bench, wearing a magnificent hat with a glass of champagne in one hand and a cigarette holder in the other."
“She's in a Leonardo outfit,” says Sammy Steele who did Mickey’s hair and make-up. “And I actually dressed her tonight for the occasion.... It’s like something out a department store window in New York. On 5th Ave.... This is what she requested.  She's sitting in a garden scenery to depict her back yard. This is what she wanted.  No stone was left unturned for this memorial.”

“She looks wonderful,” says one bystander. “She looks just like Mickey.”
"[Miriam] Burbank’s daughters had a vision and presented it to funeral directors at Charbonnet Funeral Home...."
“They said they didn’t want a traditional religious type service,” Intern Funeral Director Lyelle Bellard said. “That she was just one of those people that just enjoyed life enjoyed living, just enjoyed people.”

Burbank is sitting at a table wearing Saints colors. Her fingernails are even painted black and gold. She’s got her Busch beer and menthol cigarettes....

“When I walked in, I feel like I was in her house and I didn’t hurt so much,” sister Sherline Burbank said. “Because it’s more of her, and it’s like she’s not dead. It’s not like a funeral home. It’s like she’s just in the room with us.”
Is this acceptable?
  
pollcode.com free polls 

ADDED: They say nothing is certain but taxes and taxidermy.

"But when she was not in character, with some combination of purple hair, purple lipstick, trowel-heavy purple eye shadow and beet juice as cheek color..."

"... she looked like the prettiest girl at the prom — a soignée brunette with a shoulder-length bouffant, delicate features and maximum false eyelashes."

She was Ultra Violet — Isabelle Collin Dufresne — one of Warhol's "superstars." She died Saturday at the age of 78.

Here's her website.

She wrote a book: "Famous For 15 Minutes: My Years with Andy Warhol." It begins with a description of Andy Warhol's funeral — "a farewell service for the shy, near-blind, bald, gay albino from ethnic Pittsburgh who dominated the art world for two decades" and "streaked across the sky, a dazzling media meteor, who, in another time or place, could have been a Napoleon or a Hitler."

Here's an interview with her:

The New Republic finally put its racial smear of Scott Walker up on its website.

Here's the scurrilous hit piece, "The Unelectable Whiteness of Scott Walker," which I first saw in my iPad on Saturday. The article went up Sunday evening, after I'd posted about it 3 times Saturday afternoon, Saturday evening, and Sunday morning. My posts:

Saturday afternoon: "Look at the new New Republic cover, smearing Scott Walker for his 'toxic strain of racial politics.'" This post displays the cover, with what I read as a strangely sexualized headline "Scott Walker Is So Hot Right Now"* and the puzzling sub-head "Too bad he owes his success to a toxic strain of racial politics." I noted that headline inside at the article itself (which is also the headline on the TNR website now) was "The Unelectable Whiteness of Scott Walker." Sub-head: "A Journey Through the Poisonous World That Produced a Republican Star." I read the article and opined that TNR had nothing racial to say about Walker himself. Walker built his political career in the Milwaukee area, and the article is mostly about the racial demographics of the place and 2 talk radio hosts who are popular there.

Saturday evening: "... I almost feel as though I am bullying The New Republic at this point." The article was still not up, and I took that as a digital-age failure for TNR's editor and publisher, Chris Hughes (who, as the co-founder of Facebook, had seemed as though he was going to make TNR very digitally sharp, which was why I subscribed, and why I got early access via iPad).

Sunday morning: "When is it considered acceptable, in polite company, to refer to the excessive 'whiteness' of a public figure?"
Why did the editors of The New Republic — that venerable journal — think it was acceptable to title an article "The Unelectable Whiteness of Scott Walker"? 
I did not give the typical conservative answer, which would be: Because it's liberal, and liberals can and will do to conservatives what conservatives can't get away with doing to liberals. That old rule of thumb is reasonably apt, but I don't think it is generally acceptable among liberals to use "whiteness" as the key word in an attack. I have a different answer, which you can read at the link.

Also, the Sunday morning post ends with a clipped out passage that I believe is intended to float the rumor that Scott Walker is a closeted homosexual:
Walker had an easy smile and impressive 1980s mullet, and he played on the football team, but his friends would apologize if they swore in his presence, and he wasn’t much for chasing girls. “He was a very nice-looking young man, always very neat in appearance,” says Neill Flood, the town’s fire chief, whose daughter was a year ahead of Walker in school. “He was the kind of guy who liked everyone, and everyone liked him. There was never any physical attraction for Scott, girls being all over him.” On Scott’s prom night, his mother recalls, he, his date, and some friends stayed up very late talking politics.
The girls hung "all over him," but "There was never any physical attraction for Scott"? He was "very neat in appearance" and not "much for chasing girls"? He spent prom night — a classic time for sexual adventures — talking about politics? I'm going to write a separate post on this topic, because I remember when the NYT tried a move like this when John Roberts was nominated to the Supreme Court.
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* I'm told "so hot right now" may be an allusion to the movie "Zoolander."

June 15, 2014

Romney 2016.

Do you think it's "bizarre speculation"?

It's exactly what crossed my mind as I watched him on today's "Meet the Press."  He talked about Iraq and the Eric Cantor loss, but I'll quote on what he said about Hillary Clinton, who, we might presume, would be his opponent, and in fact, the question was: "If you were running for president again, and if she were the Democratic nominee, what's the playbook to beat her?"