April 9, 2016

Overheard... 19 years ago.

Notes written in the back of a book I happened to take down from the shelf. It represents how people talked in a music store in Madison, Wisconsin in 1997:


"Bernie Sanders will win the Wyoming Democratic caucuses... providing his campaign with one more jolt of momentum...."

"The Vermont senator was favored going into the caucuses. Wyoming is similar to other places he's won with big margins: rural, Western and overwhelmingly white. The victory is Sanders' eighth out of the last nine contests, a big morale booster heading into the crucial New York primary on April 19."

"Oh my god, it’s like the Zapruder film—if nothing had happened."

Said Bill Maher about the Corey Lewandowski video.
“But everybody on the left had to say—and this is what I hate when liberals do, when they mimic the stupidity of the right—they had to get on team ‘he almost killed her.’ And this woman said, and she was talking about the whole event, she said, ‘This has to be, aside from my father’s death, the worst experience I’ve gone through,’ and I thought, ‘What a charmed, lucky, clueless white girl life you have lived if that’s the worst thing that happened to you.’ Do we have to politicize everything?”

“[Lewandowski] shouldn’t have been [arrested]! It’s not assault!” Maher exclaimed later, adding, “If you cut in line in a bathroom at a nightclub, would there be an assault charge? Nobody can take someone’s arm anymore in America? That’s assault?”

The tea/sex analogy.

An animation from Emmeline May and Blue Seat Studios (note: language warning):

I found that after seeing this version — with a British voiceover — by the Thames Valley Police:

I found that via Metafilter, where people seemed charmed by the Britishness... even though Blue Seat Studios seems to be located in Providence, Rhode Island.

"According to the prosecutors, [former Speaker of the House Dennis] Hastert gave one boy, a 14-year-old freshman wrestler, a massage in the locker room, then performed an unspecified sex act on him."

"Another boy, Stephen Reinboldt, who died in 1995, was sexually abused by Mr. Hastert throughout high school in the late 1960s and early 1970s, his sister and others told the prosecutors. A third boy, who was 17 and remembered Mr. Hastert sitting in a recliner-type chair with a direct view of the locker room shower stalls, said Mr. Hastert had told him that one way to make his wrestling weight was to get a massage, then performed a sexual act. And prosecutors said Mr. Hastert had massaged another boy’s groin area after asking the boy to stay in his hotel room during a wrestling camp."

The details the federal prosecutor's case against Hastert come out. Hastert was a high school wrestling coach long ago. He has pleaded guilty to a banking violation (related to paying off one of the alleged victims), and he will be sentenced later this month.

"For Americans, and perhaps Anglo-Saxons generally, law is a lowest common denominator of civic morality."

"It’s what we expect everyone to do all the time, and if a law is being widely disobeyed, for us that’s a crisis – we either want to repeal the law or launch a crackdown, but we can’t have people making exceptions on the fly. For Mediterranean cultures, which still shape the thought-world of the Vatican to a significant degree, law is instead more akin to an ideal. It describes a moral aspiration, but realistically it’s understood that many people much of the time will fall short. (If you don’t believe it, come to Italy sometime and watch how the locals approach traffic laws!)"

Writes John L. Allen Jr. — the editor of Crux, which covers the Vatican — explaining how to think about "Amoris Laetitia," the Pope's new exhortation. The Pope didn't change any law, but he encouraged more flexibility applying it.

By the way, I don't agree with Allen that Americans are hot to strictly enforce all the law on the books. And I wish there were more pressure to repeal (and to avoid enacting) the laws we're not willing to enforce, but it seems that a lot of us like aspirational junk cluttering the statute books and making us skittish people uneasy and tempting corrupt officials to selectively prosecute. Just look at Colorado's open commerce in marijuana and the federal Controlled Substances Act. Why isn't that bothering people more? And look at the uproar among pro-lifers when Donald Trump said that if abortions were criminalized the women that have them should encounter some kind of punishment.

"No, we’re not going to wrap this up — I’m going to wrap you up. You go sit down over there and learn something."

Said Steve Miller at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony last night.
"This is how close this whole show came to not happening because of the way the artists are being treated...."
What was his problem?
“The whole process is unpleasant.... They need to respect the artists they say they’re honoring, which they don’t.”
It seems to be about money. He didn't like the licensing agreements for the TV show of the ceremony, and he didn't like the way the tickets were distributed:
“When they told me I was inducted they said, ‘You have two tickets — one for your wife and one for yourself. Want another one? It’s $10,000. Sorry, that’s the way it goes.... What about my band? What about their wives?”
Who benefits from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? When an artist gets in, is he mostly giving or mostly getting?  I guess it depends on the artist. Steve Miller was lucky to get in at all, wasn't he? Maybe they told him that — or suggested as much — when they drove the bargain. They have to put on a show every year, and I wonder if some people — like Miller — are brought in to fill out the concert and maybe they realize that they're second tier and treated as such. I mean, what is the process for getting in?
Janet Morrissey of The New York Times wrote, "With fame and money at stake, it's no surprise that a lot of backstage lobbying goes on. Why any particular act is chosen in any particular year is a mystery to performers as well as outsiders – and committee members say they want to keep it that way." Jon Landau, the chairman of the nominating committee, says they prefer it that way. "We've done a good job of keeping the proceedings nontransparent. It all dies in the room."...
Here's some opinion on the Hall of Fame by Mike Nesmith (in the context of responding to the controversy over whether The Monkees, who are not in, should be):
I can see the HOF is a private enterprise. It seems to operate as a business, and the inductees are there by some action of the owners of the Enterprise. The inductees appear to be chosen at the owner’s pleasure.

This seems proper to me.

It is their business in any case. It does not seem to me that the HOF carries a public mandate, nor should it be compelled to conform to one.

And that may be the rub.

The main argument afoot is that popularity and the history and the work should somehow provide the HOF not only a mandate but also validation that should compel and convince them/it, and also be enforceable.

That doesn’t seem like a good argument, but as I say – I don’t know. I rode out the hurricane in the mobile home that is all that is left standing while all about it are vacant concrete pads and stubbs of power lines.
Yes, I know. He misspelled "stubs." He misspelled "stubs" and his mother invented Liquid Paper. If you look up Mike Nesmith in the modern "Dictionary of Received Ideas," you'll read one thing: His mother invented Liquid Paper. Liquid Paper, not Wite-Out. "Wite" isn't the right way to spell "white," you know. All the errors can be corrected later, so maybe you shouldn't worry about errors anymore. Mike Nesmith moved on after the metaphorical hurricane. He was living in a metaphorical mobile home, not the metaphorical record player designed by I.M. Pei — which is not a misspelling of I Am Pay — which was bankrolled — in part — by the needy people of Cleveland.

April 8, 2016

Who's saying this and what and whom is he saying it about?

"We talk about it, and a number of people have talked about it, including his family. And he knows that it’s a problem. And the first part of solving the problem is recognizing that it exists."

Answer here.

"A Dane County judge on Friday struck down Wisconsin's so-called right-to-work law, finding it violated the state constitution."

"Attorney General Brad Schimel said he would appeal and felt confident it would ultimately be upheld, noting every other state's right-to-work law has survived court challenges."

Dane County = Madison.

Bill Clinton almost wants to apologize.

Today, in Erie, Pennsylvania:
"Now I like and believe in protests. I'd be a hypocrite if I didn't 'cause I engaged in some when I was a kid.... But I never thought I should drown anybody else out. And I confess, maybe it's just a sign of old age, but it bothers me now when that happens. So I did something yesterday in Philadelphia. I almost want to apologize for it, but I want to use it as an example of the danger threatening our country.... I rather vigorously defended my wife, as I am wont to do, and I realized, finally, I was talking past [the protester] the way she was talking past me. We gotta stop that in this country. We gotta listen to each other again."
ADDED: I just want to say that I love the phrasing "I almost want to apologize." It's just lovely snark. It's emphatically not a nonapology (which would be something like "I'm sorry if you were offended"). He's making a point of withholding the apology. He's considered it and decided it's not called for. But he "almost wants" because he's an open, warm-hearted guy who cares about other people. He feels your pain. But the want is incomplete. He's got some restraint. The mind rules over impulse, and an apology is just not deserved.

The Pope exhorts us to "The Joy of Love" ("Amoris Laetitia").

Some excerpts at the NYT.

Here's the part about gay people:
Every person, regardless of sexual orientation, ought to be respected in his or her dignity and treated with consideration, while ‘every sign of unjust discrimination’ is to be carefully avoided, particularly any form of aggression and violence. Such families should be given respectful pastoral guidance, so that those who manifest a homosexual orientation can receive the assistance they need to understand and fully carry out God’s will in their lives.
And gay marriage:
In discussing the dignity and mission of the family, the Synod Fathers observed that, ‘as for proposals to place unions between homosexual persons on the same level as marriage, there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.’ It is unacceptable ‘that local Churches should be subjected to pressure in this matter and that international bodies should make financial aid to poor countries dependent on the introduction of laws to establish ‘marriage’ between persons of the same sex.

"Patient secretly recorded doctors as they operated on her. Should she be so distressed by what she heard?"

I don't know about that.

But it occurred to me: Why aren't we entitled to a recording of what is said around our body when we're under anesthesia? Why should you have to sneak a recording device into your ponytail? You have to be knocked out for the surgery, and all these people have access to your vulnerable body, why shouldn't you have a right to use an artificial device to do what your senses would normally do — monitor what's happening to you? Do the doctors and nurses have an interest in having a private conversation around your body? I'd say you have the greater interest in finding out what's happening to you when you're unconscious. Anyone who wants to make a recording should be able to do it openly. You wouldn't need to take any additional steps to improve the "bedside manner" of doctors and nurses.

What's the argument on the other side? The only halfway decent thing I can think of is that maybe better surgery gets done when doctors and nurses are blowing off steam, blabbing carelessly, aimlessly and not distracted by wondering what the patient will think of it. Remarks about how some body part looks — maybe it helps to say something crude or mean now and then. Maybe it's important not to think of everything from the point of view of a patient who might be sensitive and unduly judgmental.

IN THE COMMENTS: MisterBuddwing said:
Er, Professor, you tackled this very subject last December: http://althouse.blogspot.com/2015/12/after-five-minutes-of-talking-to-you-in.html
That post is about a man who used his cell phone to make a recording, and, in the comments there, john mosby said:
When I had a colonoscopy, I had to put all my clothes and personal effects in a locker, then put on a hospital gown. I assume this was to help keep the procedure room sterile and to avoid "hey, my necklace is missing!" claims. Where the heck did this guy conceal the cellphone?
And I said:
Can't you just buy something like this and pin it inside the hospital gown or hide it in your hair?
That's what the lady in this new article did. I'm not saying she got the idea from me — she did it before I made the suggestion — just that it's not such an odd and paranoid thing to think of getting a tiny USB device and hiding it in your hair.

Let's see... a Clinton joke about head...

... must the jokes write themselves?

I couldn't bring myself to live-blog the final finale of "American Idol"...

... maybe you remember the old, old days of this blog when I did live-blog the show. But I watched. I'll blog a couple news stories about it, and then I want to share an opinion about American people voting, something that transcends the show and relates to the presidential election.

TIME's reviewer says:
The series... was at its best all about democracy. And on Thursday night it provided a sort of recall election, placing the vast majority of its alumni performers into stagings chosen seemingly at random.... Five of them, the so-called White Guys With Guitars who marked the show’s later years in which tween girls were the major voting base, were limited to 20 percent apiece of a David Bowie tribute. Jordin Sparks and Taylor Hicks, two relatively early winners, had arguably less to do than Pia Toscano, who came in ninth place five years ago....
The show began with President Obama — on video, not in the theater — and he looked so bad that I thought it was some anti-Obama political ad. He wasn't properly made up for the camera and he looked really tired. His congratulations to the show morphed into a lecture on voting:
"Voting is the most fundamental and sacred right of our democracy. I believe it should be almost as easy as voting on 'American Idol,' and we're working on that. But when we choose not to vote we surrender that right."
Eh. What bilge. Voting is the most sacred right? Voting in elections should be like voting on "American Idol," where you call and text in multiple votes? And you surrender your right if you don't use it? No, you don't. Just as you have a right not to speak (as part of freedom of speech) and a right not to have a religion (as part of freedom of religion), the right to vote includes the right to abstain. And abstaining when you have no preference in an election makes as much sense as keeping silent when you've got nothing to say and not bothering to act like you have a religion when you don't sincerely believe.

Obama ended by wagging a finger at us and telling us to go to vote.gov and register.

Now, the thing about voting is, I think, Americans don't like to be told what to do. We didn't like being told we were going to vote for Jeb Bush, and we've been putting up an agonizingly long, slow resistance to getting Hillary jammed down our throat.

On this last season of "American Idol," the judges continually acted as if it was already understood that the winner was going to be La'Porsha Renae. We were supposed to vote, but we were supposed to vote for her. [SPOILER ALERT.]

No matter how much progress anybody else made, no matter how hard he worked to win us over, the fix was in. But the "American Idol" establishment couldn't make it happen, and the other guy, Trent Harmon, won:
Harmon tumbled to the stage in surprise as host Ryan Seacrest announced him as the 15th and final winner....

"I know that I have a God-given ability, but I didn't want to take it for granted. I wanted to work so, so hard, and she pushed me to do it," a tearful Harmon said of Renae, who stood poised and smiling by his side.
The judges hurt Renae's case by leaning on us to vote their idea of what is correct. We rebel. Don't tell us what to do.

ADDED: WaPo demagogues it: "Surprising no one, white man bests black woman to become final ‘American Idol’ winner." The first 3 words of that headline are a blatant lie. Most were surprised. And:
As one Twitter user put it: “ANOTHER basic white boy” had triumphed.

Sweden wants love.

"To gin up interest in the Scandinavian country, a Swedish tourism agency created the Swedish Number, 46-771-793-336, a single phone line that connects international callers to randomly selected Swedish volunteers to chat about whatever is on their minds...."
The Swedish Number’s website invites callers to “talk about anything you want.” After I dialed the number... an automated voice responded: “Calling Sweden. You will soon be connected to a random Swede, somewhere in Sweden.”"...

By letting everyday Swedes communicate directly with foreigners, tourism officials hope to present a more authentic picture of the country than one conjured up by a marketing agency, said Magnus Ling, the secretary general and chief executive of the Swedish Tourist Association.

Yes, he acknowledged, the chats could go off the rails. But he had little fear of lewd, meanspirited or even dangerous correspondence — he believed that people have good intentions, he said. And he believed the Swedish people would make good ambassadors for the country.
The linked article is in the NYT. The coverage leans cutesy, and there's zero acknowledgement that Sweden might have a tourism problem based on news reports that might lead women to believe that we are not safe walking alone there.

For example, from last month: "Police defend warning for solo women in northern Sweden." And: "Two 10-year-old schoolgirls molested and a woman's trousers ripped off: Inside the sleepy Swedish town rocked by EIGHT sex attacks in three weeks by migrant men."

"The computer models that predict climate change may be overestimating the cooling power of clouds...."

Using data from instruments aboard the Calipso satellite, which monitors clouds and particles suspended in the atmosphere, the researchers determined that mixed-phase clouds contain more water and less ice than expected. Water droplets reflect more solar radiation back into the sky than ice crystals do. As the atmosphere warms, clouds tend to have more water and less ice in them, and the more watery clouds prevent solar radiation from reaching the earth.... With less ice in the mix to start, however, there is less capacity for water to replace ice.... The result... is more warming.

April 7, 2016

"When your child comes home from school with tales of mean girls, aggressive boys and insensitive teachers, you feel for her, and often you let it show, but maybe you shouldn’t."

"Our kids feed off our emotions and get more distressed when we’re distressed. When my daughter communicates her worries to me, only to have me start worrying too, it definitely makes things worse. She needs me to be strong, but instead I inadvertently send the message that anxiety is the ‘right’ reaction to her problems."

From a WaPo article titled "6 ways good parents contribute to their child’s anxiety."

So after years of cranking up our sensitivity to bullying, it's time to deescalate. How about self-esteem? We overdoing that too? Yes. That's another of the problems found in the "good parents" — which seems to mean the parents who've responded to the mainstream media advice of the last X years:
When you constantly tell people your son is on track for a top college, or your daughter is going to be an Olympic gymnast, you feel like you’re building them up, but eventually the positive affirmation turns to pressure. Compliment your kids when they excel, but don’t make their excellence a reason to expect even more from them. Overly high expectations can create performance anxiety where there used to be joy and personal fulfillment.
The hard part is picking the exact right time to stop listening to advice. Or go back to Dr. Spock's page 1 meta-advice: "TRUST YOURSELF. You know more than you think you do.... Don't take too seriously all that the neighbors say. Don't be overawed by what the experts say. Don't be afraid to trust your own common sense. Bringing up your child won't be a complicated job if you take it easy and trust your own instincts...."

"You are defending the people who killed the lives you say matter. Tell the truth."

Said Bill Clinton to Black Lives Matter protesters:

"On Supreme Court nominations, I’d like to see the number of justices stay at eight, which I believe is legal under the Constitution."

"And then I’d like to see new justices appointed in a way that deadlocks the court for most issues at 4-4. That way their decisions would be more credible to the public because there is only a decision if one side (conservative or liberal) has a defector. In other words, I think the president should be working on making the court credible instead of working to make it biased."

Says Scott Adams.

He didn't really explain how you could keep 4 conservative and 4 liberal, which isn't a problem for me, because the answer is: There is no way. Also, there's an underappreciation of the importance of getting some things decided so we can have some resolution and move on. These are interconnected propositions because the conservatives — assuming we could get and keep 4 — would probably see more value in getting to a clear rule that people can rely on, so the conservatives would be more likely to "defect."

But: Interesting idea, Scott Adams. I get tired of the lawprofs-and-judges answers to these things. Enlarge the circle of who can speak to questions of how the Court should operate.

I like the idea that the Court already seems so political that people can't believe in it and it would build public confidence if the liberal and conservative factions have to agree to get to a decision. And I'll just ignore for the moment that no decision is a type of decision. It affects us.

Suit the suits.

"There is no question that [Cruz] has been a polarizing figure, and it’s kind of ironic that a lot of people who were so critical of him are now jumping on the bandwagon because it suits their needs."

Said Ben Carson.

"Reading is inherently ephemeral, but it feels less so when you’re making your way through a physical book..."

"... which persists when you’ve finished it. It is a monument to the activity of reading. It makes this imaginary activity entirely substantial. But the quiddity of e-reading is that it effaces itself.... There is a disproportionate magic in the way black marks on white paper — or their pixilated facsimiles — stir us into reverie and revise our consciousness. Still, we require proof that it has happened. And that proof is what the books on my shelves continue to offer."

From "Books to Have and to Hold," by the delightfully named Verlyn Klinkenborg, published in the NYT in 2013. I'm reading that today as a consequence of becoming fascinated by the word "quiddity" which I encountered while researching the word "entity," which is illustrated in the OED by a phrase written by the philosopher George Berkeley in 1710: "The positive abstract idea of quiddity, entity, or existence."

We were talking about the word "entity" in the midst of a discussion of Hillary Clinton's use of the word "person":
Hillary Clinton faced criticism from both sides of the abortion debate on Monday after she waded into the fraught argument about when life begins by describing the unborn as a “person.”

Mrs. Clinton, the leading Democratic presidential candidate, made the comment during an interview Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” after she was asked about abortion restrictions and the rights of the unborn.

“The unborn person doesn’t have constitutional rights,” Mrs. Clinton said.
Why did she say "person"? Was it purely a gaffe or did she mean to wink a subtle "I care" at those who are unsettled or anguished at killing the unborn? It's hard, in conversation, to restrict yourself to "the unborn," which is neutral, but formal. Talking about that with Meade, I said that when I teach the abortion cases in law school, I say "the unborn entity." I apologize for the strangeness of the term, which I don't mean to sound humorous or alienating. I genuinely think it's the right word for me — the law-professor person — to use to conduct a professional, balanced examination of the judicial opinions. But I did want to check my perception by looking up the word just now.

I wrote "the law-professor person" in what was, really, a private joke aimed at Meade. He had observed — talking about Hillary's gaffe/non-gaffe — that it's become a tic of modern language to add "person" to moderate a perceived harshness in using a noun to designate someone as a member of a group. Thus, we might think we shouldn't refer to someone as "a white," so we say "a white person." The noun seems to distance and "otherize," but if you plunk "person" after it, it's a milder descriptive — a kinder, gentler adjective. The Chinese becomes a Chinese person. (I guessed that it all started with "Jewish person.") Meade theorized that Hillary had become so used to this linguistic etiquette that it naturally and inconveniently happened to "unborn."

April 6, 2016

"Let him sing me back home with a song I used to hear/Make my old memories come alive..."

"Take me away and turn back the years/Sing me back home before I die...."

Merle Haggard has died... on his 79th birthday.
Mr. Haggard was probably best known for his controversial hit “Okie From Muskogee,” a flippant broadside, released in 1969, that defended conservative heartland values against the hippie counterculture....
Yes, that's how a lot of people my age, including me, first knew him.
He later expressed ambivalence about the song’s message.... “I was dumb as a rock when I wrote ‘Okie From Muskogee,’ ” Mr. Haggard told the Americana music magazine No Depression in 2003. He added, “I sing with a different intention now.”
It's been a long time since we thought of Merle that way. Why, it was only 4 days ago that I embedded him — singing "Mama Tried" — on this blog, here.

ADDED: Merle Haggard, on meeting President Obama:
"It's really almost criminal what they do with our President. He's not conceited. He's very humble about being the President of the United States, especially in comparison to some presidents we've had who come across like they don't need anybody's help. I think he knows he's in over his head. Anybody with any sense who takes that job and thinks they can handle it must be an idiot."

"People became crazed by the idea that they didn’t get it."

"If you rolled it out over weeks, you could have made a case for it. But in the absence of a real presentation, and the presence of so many mistakes, the whole thing became enshrouded in negativity. The social media thing is a killer."

Said the great graphic design artist Milton Glaser — he of the great "I Love New York" campaign — about his work for Rhode Island branding, including "Rhode Island: Cooler and Warmer," which got thrown out summarily after it was mocked on social media.
Mr. Glaser said he felt the use of Iceland in the video and the other mistakes in the rollout prejudiced people against the end product. “We didn’t have a chance,” he said.
I had to make a new tag for Rhode Island. I think it's the very last state I've blogged about — I'd thought I already had a tag for every state — and it's a story of it not getting respect. Oh, Rhode Island. You can use that previous sentence as your slogan if you want.

"On Sunday’s episode of 'Girls,' the show resurrected the story of Kitty Genovese, the 28-year-old bar manager attacked outside her Queens apartment in 1964."

[In the episode,] Hannah, played by [Lena] Dunham, attends a play called “38 Neighbors,” in which audience members are set free to roam through the units of an apartment building, where they encounter actors... who play the neighbors ignoring Genovese’s screams. The attack is rendered with an abstract tableau in the courtyard below: A couple of white dummies posed in a grappling position, lit with blinking red lights and piped with a recording of a woman’s screams. And as the characters of “Girls” move throughout the play and prove more interested in acting out their own minute psychodramas than bearing witness to the crime, Ms. Genovese’s tragedy forms the backdrop for a tragicomic tour through the conflicted state of female empowerment.

“It’s ‘Girls,’ ” [said the writer of the episode, Sarah Heyward]. “Our characters have to be self-involved and focused on their own problems.”

In “Girls” world, the single woman is less at risk of physical threat than a kind of soft social erasure. As Hannah navigates the rooms of the play, she watches as her old friend Jessa (Jemima Kirke) couples up with her ex-boyfriend Adam; her best friend, Marnie (Allison Williams), glibly dismisses Hannah’s relationship problems; and her new boyfriend, Fran (Jake Lacy), is repelled by her odd brand of sexual self-expression....

.... “I was doing some Wikipedia-ing last night, and I had completely forgotten the fact that Kitty was a lesbian,” Hannah says. “Do you think that may have been a factor in what happened to her? Wouldn’t surprise me. Another woman deemed unacceptable by society and left to die for her sins.”
By the way, in case you haven't been watching and you can't tell from that description, the show has leaped to a new level this season. If you've dismissed "Girls" and you have HBO on Demand, go to the beginning of this season and watch. It's very impressive, comically, dramatically, and artistically. The characters are self-involved, but the authorial viewpoint is not that of a self-involved person. The episode was titled "Witnesses," and we, the audience were witnessing the audience at the play, who were witnessing themselves and the actors in the play, who were enacting the witnessing of a murder that took place long ago. At all of those levels of witnessing, there was imperfect attention and understanding. Pay attention! Check it out.

"Everyone mistook a priest for a KKK member last night."

"Last night around 9:15 PM, social media became a furious storm of confusion regarding a man in white robes roaming along 10th St. and purportedly armed with a whip...."

ADDED: Preparing for class today, I ran into exactly the material I was trying to call to mind as I was writing this post. I'm teaching the same-sex marriage case, Obergefell v. Hodges, and I was rereading the post I wrote last June as I was encountering Justice Scalia's dissenting opinion for the first time:
In a straining-to-be-memorable passage, Justice Scalia says the majority hides its usurpation of power "beneath the mummeries and straining-to-be-memorable passages of the opinion." (A "mummery" is a "Ridiculous ceremony (formerly used esp. of religious ritual regarded as pretentious or hypocritical).") That's from the OED, which gives an example of the word from Frederick Lewis Allen's 1931 book "Only Yesterday/An Informal History of the 1920's": "[The Ku Klux Klan's] white robe and hood, its flaming cross, its secrecy, and the preposterous vocabulary of its ritual could be made the vehicle for all that infantile love of hocus-pocus and mummery, that lust for secret adventure, which survives in the adult whose lot is cast in drab places.")
Nothing like a priest.

"Jackie" — who told the discredited fraternity gang rape story published in Rolling Stone — is forced to testify in the defamation lawsuit.

The federal judge Glen E.Conrad has rejected the argument — made by "Jackie"'s lawyers — that testimony will "re-victimize" her and psychologically damage her.
The judge’s order stems from a lawsuit brought by UVA associate dean of students Nicole Eramo, who alleges that Rolling Stone’s Nov. 2014 article cast her as the callous villain of its tale and falsely asserted that she discouraged a student identified only as “Jackie” from taking her rape allegations to the police. Rolling Stone, which apologized to readers for the story, strongly denies that it defamed the university official and declined to comment on Tuesday’s ruling....

Ms. Eramo, in court papers, alleges that Jackie is “a serial liar” who fabricated her claims and served as “Rolling Stone’s sole source for the false tale of rape that it recklessly published.” That makes Jackie’s testimony “highly relevant” to the defamation claims, her lawyers say.
IN THE COMMENTS: Ignorance is Bliss said...

Assumes facts not in evidence.
That made me think of what Patricia J. Williams wrote in her book "The Alchemy of Race and Rights" about Tawana Brawley: Brawley "has been the victim of some unspeakable crime. No matter how she got there. No matter who did it to her and even if she did it to herself."

For the annals of accidental acronyms.

George Mason University’s law school, having changed its name to the Antonin Scalia School of Law, changes the name again. It's now the Antonin Scalia Law School.

How many would-be Kasich voters in Wisconsin switched to Cruz for strategic, anti-Trump reasons?

The Real Clear Politics poll average might support the inference that 6 percentage points of Cruz's final number were people who would have gone for Kasich if they had not been motivated by the desire to stop Trump. Click to enlarge:

Trump got what the polls predicted, about 35%. But Kasich got 6 points less than the predicted 20%. Cruz ended up with 9 points more than what the polls predicted, so it seems as though what Kasich lost, Cruz gained. Cruz picked up even more, presumably the previously undecided.

Donald Trump's Cruz-is-a-puppet statement about the Wisconsin primary is pissy and ungracious, but it's accurate in many ways, as far as I can tell.

That's the statement read to the press by a campaign spokesperson.

Cruz wants to portray the votes he got as votes that were really for him, but a lot of Wisconsinites were voting for him as a way to vote not merely for an open convention but for Paul Ryan. Trump can and should minimize the significance of these votes as votes for Cruz, but they are very real votes against Trump.

ADDED: I've said I think Trump's statement is accurate, but there are a few things I'm not vouching for. I'm not signing onto the idea that Cruz is "lyin'" or that the advertising against Trump was "false" or that he's coordinating illegally with the super PAC or totally controlled by them.

I think it's true that "party bosses" are using Cruz as their tool, but I don't consider that "steal[ing]." It's fair politics. I don't think Cruz is an inanimate object like a puppet or a wooden horse. He has his own plans and his own will, and I don't think he's in league with the people who are using him. I'm sure he understands how people trying to use him, even as he — in lawyerly fashion — characterizes the facts, making them seem to be in his favor, by claiming that he's uniting the party and that the votes cast for him represent support for him and not for another agenda.

As for that last sentence: It may be true that Trump is the only candidate who has a decent chance of getting to the majority of delegates that will secure a first-ballot victory, but there are other ways that delegates can be instrumental in getting to the nomination. As for ultimately defeating "Hillary Clinton, or whomever is the Democratic nominee" — I don't think Trump is the Republican most capable of winning in the general election and "whomever" is bad English.

"Now, Donald, what does Tiffany have of yours and what does Tiffany have of Donald's?"

Donald Trump answers a question — on a 1994 episode of "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" — about his baby daughter.

(Go 2:43 in the video at the link to avoid the tediously extended "Daily Show" set-up.)

ADDED: Since no one seems to be bothering to watch the video, I will add this description that gives away the surprise:
“Well, I think that she’s got a lot of Marla. She’s a really beautiful baby — she’s got Marla’s legs.” Then making a gesture that indicated large breasts, he added, “We don’t know whether or not she’s got this part yet, but time will tell.”

April 5, 2016

Watching the Wisconsin results...

CNN is announcing exit polls, making it look like a big — 10 point — win for Bernie, and a good win for Cruz too.

UPDATE: Cruz wins, up over 50%, with Trump under 30%. I'm listening to Cruz's victory speech, and he predicts he'll get to the 1237 majority.

"But wouldn’t encouraging men to embrace the full range of their humanity benefit women?"

"Why do we continue to limit the emotional lives of males when it serves no one?," asks Andrew Reiner, a teacher of writing, literature, and cultural studies. He explores these questions with an assignment in which his students "engage strangers to explore, firsthand, the socialized norms of masculinity." One student "videotaped himself and then a female friend pretending to cry in the crowded foyer of the university library":
“Why do you think a few young women stopped to see if your female friend was O.K.,” I asked him, “but no one did the same thing for you?”

He crossed his arms, his laser pointer pushing against his bicep like a syringe, and paused. Even at this point in the semester, the students, some of whom had studied gender issues before, seemed blind to their own ingrained assumptions. So his response raised many eyebrows. “It’s like we’re scared,” he said, “that the natural order of things will completely collapse.”

"As you may know by now, when you attack him he will punch back 10 times harder."

"No matter who you are, a man or a woman, he treats everyone equal."

Said Melania Trump, in sentences spoken in that order, one right after the other.

Punching, 10 times harder — man, woman, no difference. There's equality for you ladies, eh? The linked article, in the NYT, is titled "Donald Trump, Stumbling With Women, Enlists Wife to Campaign." Excerpt:
Mr. Trump had previously turned to the women in his life to help counter claims that he is a misogynist. He frequently invokes Melania and his daughter, Ivanka, on the campaign trail, talking about how, behind the scenes, they are the ones urging him to behave “more presidential.”

“Again, my wife: ‘Darling, you’re so brilliant, you’re so bright. Act presidential. It’s so easy for you,’ ” Mr. Trump told a crowd Sunday night in West Allis, Wis., mimicking his wife’s breathy, accented voice. “I said, ‘Darling, I’ve got to win first, you know? I’ve got to win.’ ”
I tried but couldn't find video of Trump imitating his wife calling him brilliant.

One down.

"Panama Papers Scandal Brings Down Iceland’s Prime Minister."

"In the wake of Donald Trump’s abortion gaffes, it should finally be clear that Trump is not a real conservative..."

"... he is the liberal caricature of a conservative."
Since Trump does not actually understand what pro-life conservatives truly believe, he mindlessly echoes the liberal caricature of pro-life conservatives. He mistakenly thinks this is what these conservatives want to hear. They don’t. This is, however, what liberals want to hear. They want a Republican candidate who feeds their false “war on women” narrative. They want to run against the caricature of the pro-life position, because the caricature is ugly. And Trump is giving them precisely what they want....

"I know a married man and father of two who bought a twenty-one-room motel near Denver many years ago in order to become its resident voyeur."

"With the assistance of his wife, he cut rectangular holes measuring six by fourteen inches in the ceilings of more than a dozen rooms. Then he covered the openings with louvred aluminum screens that looked like ventilation grilles but were actually observation vents that allowed him, while he knelt in the attic, to see his guests in the rooms below. He watched them for decades, while keeping an exhaustive written record of what he saw and heard. Never once, during all those years, was he caught."

So begins "The Voyeur's Motel," by Gay Talese. At one point:
I saw what Foos was doing, and I did the same: I got down on my knees and crawled toward the lighted louvres. Then I stretched my neck in order to see as much as I could through the vent, nearly butting heads with Foos as I did so. Finally, I saw a naked couple spread out on the bed below, engaged in oral sex. Foos and I watched for several moments, and then Foos lifted his head and gave me a thumbs-up sign. He whispered that it was the skiing couple from Chicago.

Despite an insistent voice in my head telling me to look away, I continued to observe, bending my head farther down for a closer view. As I did so, I failed to notice that my necktie had slipped down through the slats of the louvred screen and was dangling into the motel room within a few yards of the woman’s head. I realized my carelessness only when Foos grabbed me by the neck and, with his free hand, pulled my tie up through the slats. The couple below saw none of this: the woman’s back was to us, and the man had his eyes closed.
And: "Foos made it clear to me from the beginning that he regarded his voyeurism as serious research, undertaken, in some vague way, for the betterment of society." And: "During the spring of 2013, thirty-three years after I had met him, Foos called me to say that he was ready to go public with his story.... How could he assume that going public with his sinister story would achieve anything positive? It could just as easily provide evidence leading to his arrest, lawsuits, and widespread public outrage. Why did he crave the notoriety?"

RELATED: "Gay Talese has a lady problem -- he can't think of any female writers that inspired him."
Talese... explained that the problem with female journalists was they were limited by their desire to stay above the fray, according to an audience member who spoke to the Washington Post. Amy Littlefield, 29, said that Talese explained "how educated women don’t want to hang out with antisocial people."

His answer seemed to shock the audience, with one person shouting out the name of Joan Didion....
A hashtag happened: #womengaytaleseshouldread.

"Paul Ryan Is Running for President."

Jonathan Chait lays out the evidence. Ryan is in the position where he could make a "Sherman statement" and his statements have fallen short of that extreme (that you won't run if nominated and won't serve if elected).
Begged by conservative talk-show host Hugh Hewitt to save the party, Ryan demurred:
I do believe people put my name in this thing, and I say get my name out of that. This is, if you want to be president, you should go run for president. And that’s just the way I see it ... I think you need to run for president if you’re going to be president, and I’m not running for president. So period, end of story.
This statement is being reported as a firm denial of interest, but it should be understood in context. Ryan’s history is to acquire a reputation as lacking ambition even as he rockets up the ranks....

What’s more, the scenario under which Ryan would get the nomination is one in which the party has denied it to the candidate who received the most primary votes and to the candidate who received the second-most. The party’s primary task would be to defuse their rage and sense of betrayal....  Ryan is positioning himself as a peacemaker between the Trump and anti-Trump factions.
That is, the best way for Ryan to run is to have this appearance of not running.

In a similar doing-by-not-doing way, many of us here in Wisconsin today are voting for Paul Ryan by voting for Ted Cruz: "Wisconsin votes Tuesday for … Paul Ryan!"

"Can You Get Trump To 1,237?"

A great graphic at FiveThirtyEight.

"Communities in northern Japan are being overwhelmed by radioactive wild boars..."

"... which are rampaging across the countryside after being contaminated by the Fukushima nuclear disaster."

"The big test of sexism is whether you can reverse the genders of the people involved and get the same outcome."

"If you can, sexism probably isn’t the issue. And Trump’s tweet about Cruz’ wife is totally reversible. Imagine your favorite female comedian running for office. If she’s married to George Clooney, and someone mocks her husband’s shirtless movie roles, you can certainly imagine a response like Trump’s tweet in which she humorously showcases her mating success compared to her rival. People would think it was hilarious if men were the target. In Trump’s case, confirmation bias caused folks to see this as one more drip in the rainstorm of his sexist behavior. If logic and reason mattered, people would have seen Trump’s tweet as an attempt at humor that is inappropriate by design. That’s why it is funny to some. But on the field of persuasion, it was one more piece of confirmation bias that Trump has a woman problem."

Scott Adams analyzes.

"[Kitty] Genovese, 28, cried: 'Oh, my God, he stabbed me! Help me! Help me!' — and was heard in apartments overhead, perhaps by a dozen people..."

"... the number was never precisely determined. Lights went on. Eyes looked out."
“I heard a girl saying, ‘Help me, help me,’” Robert Mozer testified. “It wasn’t a scream, more of a cry. I got up and looked out, and across the street a girl was kneeling down, and this fellow was bending over her. I hollered: ‘Hey, get out of there! What are you doing?’ He jumped up and ran like a scared rabbit. She got up and walked out of sight, around a corner.”

In his confession, [Winston] Moseley said, “I had a feeling this man would close his window and go back to sleep, and sure enough he did.” In court, he said, “I realized the car was parked where people could see it, and me, so I moved it some distance away.” Mr. Moseley also said he had changed from a stocking cap to a wide-brim hat to cover his face, then walked back to the scene.

“I came back because I’d not finished what I set out to do,” he testified.

He found Ms. Genovese lying in a hallway at the rear of the building. She was “twisting and turning” on the floor, bleeding and still crying for help, he recalled. He resumed his attack, “and I don’t know how many times or where I stabbed her till she was fairly quiet.” Investigators said he stabbed her a dozen times, stifling her last cries and raping her before escaping.
The year was 1964. Winston Moseley died last week at the age of 81 — in prison. We were talking about him here last November, when he — as the longest-serving inmate in New York — was denied parole for the 18th time. The parole board regarded his statement — "I know that I did some terrible things, and I've tried very hard to atone for those things in prison... I think almost 50 years of paying for those crimes is enough" — as "still minimiz[ing] the gravity" of what he had done and "not exhibit[ing] much insight."

The case became symbolic of the "bystander effect" (or "the Kitty Genovese syndrome"). The descriptions of people hearing and doing nothing were exaggerated. In truth, none of the neighbors "saw the attack in its entirety": "Only a few had glimpsed parts of it, or recognized the cries for help. Many thought they had heard lovers or drunks quarreling."

Voting in Wisconsin... the deed is accomplished.

We joined the door-buster group at 7 minutes before 7, with 7 voters ahead of us in line. Meade went to the M-Z line and got signed in as #4 and I had the A-L line and signed in as #12.

So no point advising me what to do anymore. I did what I had to and voted in a way I'd never had to do before.

April 4, 2016

I genuinely don't know...

... who I'm voting for in the primary tomorrow. I am definitely voting and I hope to decide during the walk to the polling place but can easily imagine not deciding until after I've picked up the pen to mark the ballot....

We finally found it: a Hillary sign in Madison, Wisconsin.

Spotted today by Meade:


We'd been looking for a sign — yard sign, bumper sticker, anything — for months.

The biggest leak of all time — The Panama Papers.

How big is it?
WikiLeaks (2010) 1.7GB
HSBC files (2015) 3.3GB
Luxembourg tax files (2014) 4.4GB
Offshore secrets (2013) 260GB
The Panama Papers (2016) 2.6TB
"Are all people who use offshore structures crooks?... Are some people who use offshore structures crooks?..."

Despite student protests, the Princeton board of trustees has voted to keep the name Woodrow Wilson on its various buildings and programs.

Wilson has been a much-loved figure at Princeton, but in September, the Black Justice League, a student activist group, distributed posters around campus that revealed his views on race, including his comment to an African-American leader that, “Segregation is not a humiliation but a benefit, and ought to be so regarded by you gentlemen.”

As president of the United States, Woodrow Wilson reintroduced segregation into the federal work force, admired the Ku Klux Klan and did not believe that black Americans were worthy of full citizenship.
The board also rejected a demand that faculty and staff submit to cultural competency training and that students take a course on the history of a marginalized people. The demand for a place on campus dedicated to black students was, ironically, met.

"It's easy to predict that the Court will reject this claim and let the states keep relying on the longstanding population-based method of redistricting."

I wrote, last December, after reading the oral argument in Evenwel v. Abbott:
Even though there's some principled sense to the eligible-voter-based method, there's also principled support for the existing method. It would need to be much more obvious that there's something wrong with the existing method before the Court would declare that what's been done for so long is not even permissible, especially when it would require states to undertake so much difficult and expensive new work and to draw many new and sure to be contentious lines.

If the Court were anywhere near to making a decision like this, Justice Scalia would have grilled the state's lawyer. In fact, he asked an astounding total of zero questions. This oral argument was interesting in the way it shone a light on the inaccuracy of the concept of "one person, one vote" that we've taken as a stunningly correct precept for half a century. So be a tad less fuzzy-headedly idealistic and face reality. That's always a pretty decent idea.
And now, Scalia is gone and it's zero questions forever. But Scalia's vote was not needed, and the opinion the Court issued just now was unanimous. I haven't had the chance to read it yet, but as you can see from reading my old post, I was most interested in the possibility of using the Guarantee Clause: "The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government." Justice Breyer brought it up at oral argument, suggesting that it could influence the meaning of the Equal Protection Clause with respect to "the kind of democracy where people, whether they choose to vote or whether they don't choose to vote, are going to receive a proportionate representation in Congress."

The opinion for the Court doesn't mention the Guarantee Clause or use the idea of "a republican form of government," but Justice Thomas, writing solo and concurring, has a lot to say about it. Excerpt:

Sometimes the best inclusion is done by exclusion.

I'm trying to read this column "The Day Free Speech Died at Harvard Law School":
In late 2014, during my second year at Harvard Law School, a student group called Students For Inclusion created a blog entitled Socratic Shortcomings. Its commitment, we are told, is to “[foster] productive and contextualized conversations on matters related to race, gender and class.” The site allows students—and anyone really—to post anonymously about events at Harvard Law School.

The site quickly picked up steam, as students gravitated toward a safe and faceless forum, where they could voice their displeasure. For a short while it appeared that the site might encourage open dialogue and actually inspire change.

However, soon thereafter, students began to complain about submissions vanishing into thin air. The moderators, we eventually learned, were selectively publishing submissions and denying others without further explanation. It seems that the Students For Inclusion only wished to include some students....
Isn't this a case for: Get your own damned blog?

The blog is moderated. It doesn't "allow" "anyone" to post there. You can see how it's operated. That's what it is. It's a blog that takes anonymous submissions and has a point of view or a set of points of view that it publishes. Here's the submission page as it looks right now. It "reserve[s] the right to maintain this blog" as "a safe space." There are moderators, and they have standards. They have a vision of the place and they mean to preserve their speech by excluding those who interfere with their idea of the place. That's not anti-free speech. Free speech didn't die.

It's not like Twitter kicking Robert Stacy McCain out of Twitter (which is discussed in the column) because Socratic Shortcomings is on Tumblr and nothing prevents the voices excluded from Socratic Shortcomings from setting up another Tumblr account and inviting submissions and putting them all up without moderation or moderating them to put up exactly whatever they think is excluded from Socratic Shortcomings — the shortcomings of Socratic Shortcomings. Start something like that of your own and you may gain some appreciation for the speech that is furthered by selectivity.

Subtraction is part of creation....

What you don't say is part of what you say. Speech doesn't "die" by editing. It lives. Ask the reader. And get your own damned blog.

How do you vote for Cruz as a way to stop Trump without adding to the appearance of support for Cruz?

Let's say you're trying to figure out how to vote in the Wisconsin primary tomorrow, and either you don't have the option of voting for someone you actually support (because you support no one) or you want to use your vote strategically in the way that you believe is most effective.

It's an open primary, so you can vote for any of the 5 remaining candidates. You could simply pick the least objectionable person in the 5, perhaps John Kasich. But you've seen the analysis that says to vote for Kasich is to help Trump, because — based on polling — only Cruz has a realistic shot at beating Trump in Wisconsin. By helping Cruz get Wisconsin delegates, you advance the cause of keeping Trump from closing in on the 1237 delegates that will get him the nomination on the first ballot at the convention.

And you don't want Trump to get the nomination. You'd like to see the convention get to the second ballot, with the delegates released to begin voting for other candidates. But you're picturing Cruz at that point arguing strenuously that he's the one with the second most votes nationwide, so he's the obvious choice as the alternative to Trump. He'll point at all those votes he got, and all the votes for him will look the same — the people who love him and want him to be President and the people who voted for him only to stop Trump and never liked Cruz at all.

You can't mark your vote to register in a particular way. You can't make it say: Cruz, but only as a device to stop Trump; don't take this to mean I support Cruz. And what if you could? What if Cruz were asked to fight on, undercutting Trump, because he's the only tool available for the job, but he needed to understand that he will not get the nomination. He's not wanted. He's really fighting for someone else — Paul Ryan or Mitt Romney or (I've even heard it said) Scott Walker. If Cruz knew that's what he's really doing, could he accomplish the designated task and take down Trump? Shhh. Don't tell him. He's just our tool.

But many of us voters would like to be able to mark our ballot: Cruz, but only as a means to the end of defeating Trump. Don't take this as any kind of an indication of support for Cruz.

And I realize that this is an iteration of what is always true: The vote is inarticulate. You're only able to vote for someone, not qualify it in any special way. You can't make it say: I don't like half the things you're proposing, but you seem like an honest man. Or: I don't believe a thing you've been saying, but I think you'll be a savvy pragmatist once you're in office doing the job. Or: These candidates are all disgusting, but you're the least disgusting.

April 3, 2016

Why did Donald Trump require John Dickerson to interview him next to a noisy Trump Tower waterfall?

On "Face the Nation" today, Dickerson introduced the interview saying: "We sat down with Mr. Trump on Friday at Trump Tower in New York, which has a very large indoor waterfall which you will hear in the background."

And, yes, indeed, the whole interview is conducted with loud running water in the soundtrack. Now, Trump has other places in Trump Tower to do interviews. He did his "Fox News Sunday" interview on the same day, in Trump Tower, in a quiet space in front of some lovely windows. Trump had to have wanted that sound effect. I'm guessing he's used to doing business next to that distracting waterfall and knows how to ignore it while it messes with the other person's hearing and concentration. (Perhaps it unsettles some people with a feeling of needing to go to the bathroom.)

Making a recording, Dickerson had to have been additionally distracted knowing that he was devoting all his effort into making what was going to be a decidedly inferior product. I thought I could hear the strain in Dickerson's voice as he soldiered on.

This happened on Friday. Was it an April Fool's joke and Dickerson lacked the nerve to demand decent accommodations? We were laughing at how absurd it was.

Anyway, you can check out the video recording here. And here's the transcript. I'll just call attention to a couple things that caught my ear.

First, abortion. Based on the confusion last week, Trump had to be ready for the abortion question — "What would you do to further restrict women's access to abortions as president?" — and he answered incoherently:

"I have something to show you and I think you are going to crack up... I know you have a thick skin. I know you can take it..."

Cartoonist Steve Breen to Hillary Clinton.

"Wisconsin has a nearly unbroken modern-day record of voting for party front-runners in its presidential primary."

And apparently we're about to throw that distinction away. Why?