Tuesday, October 31, 2006

RACE IN TENNESSEE: Mickey Kaus makes the point I thought of when I heard about the controversy over the ad that implies Harold Ford cavorts with white women.

The RNC is being accused of trying to inflame whites who don't like black men with white women, but aren't black women also likely to be upset with Ford? There's been a lot of ink spilled about black female resentment of black men "dating white." The ad is "a twofer," Kaus says.
Lyric of the Day:
“She can handle any champagne brunch
A bridal shower with Bacardi punch
Jello shooters full of Smirnoff
But tequila makes her clothes fall off.”
~ Joe Nichols, “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off”

Happy Birthday:
Chiang Kai-Shek
John Keats
Michael Landon
Dan Rather
Jan Vermeer

Sunday, October 29, 2006

GUNG-HO: College Republicans are "the superpower of the student Right," says The American Conservative. And that's not necessarily a good thing for conservatism:

Promoting the party’s candidates and officeholders—and, by extension, their policies—is the College Republicans’ raison d’etre. For most CR chapters that entails steadfast support for the Iraq War. To coincide with the president’s State of the Union address in January, the College Republicans National Committee organized “Finish the Job! Support Our Troops!” rallies on 130 campuses and in Washington. Pro-war and pro-administration lecturers like John Ashcroft and David Horowitz are among the most popular CR-sponsored campus speakers. Horowitz’s hawkish arguments made an especially strong impression on students attending the CR national convention last year. “This isn’t an invasion of Iraq, it’s a liberation—as David Horowitz said,” one attendee insisted to Nation reporter Max Blumenthal.
The piece argues that all the GOP boosterism has made the student movement intellectually flaccid.
KC JOHNSON rounds up the latest Duke lacrosse happenings. I particularly like this gem, from an e-mail sent to Johnson by Alex Rosenberg, a Duke philosophy professor and a member of the infamous "Group of 88."

“Blogs like yours do little but preach to the converted, and when the converted are largely the selfish rich for whom conservatism is but a rationalization for the maintenance of their unearned advantages, it’s really a waste of your time.”
Nothing about justice; no acknowledgement that truth-seeking per se might be a pursuit well worth Johnson's time. To Rosenberg, anything that might have the effect, however tangential, of allowing the "selfish rich" to keep their "unearned advantages" is not worth doing.

Elsewhere, Johnson reports on a recent poll on the Durham D.A. race. It shows Mike Nifong at 46 percent, Lewis Cheek at 28, and Steve Monks at 2, with 24 percent undecided. As Johnson notes, polls like this tend to undercount cell phone users and college students -- i.e., a bunch of Duke students who will be voting against Nifong. And Nifong probably can't count on picking up anything close to a majority of the undecideds.

Given what's been going on in the case recently, you have to assume that the anti-Nifong voters are more energized than Nifong's natural constituency. Turnout should be good for Cheek. Still, it would be nice to see him polling a bit better at this point.
Lyric of the Day:
“Them panty hose ain’t gonna last too long
If the DJ puts Bon Jovi on…”
~ Joe Nichols, “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off”

Happy Birthday:
James Boswell
Richard Dreyfuss
Edmund Halley

Saturday, October 28, 2006

WE SAW The Departed last night, and I agree with David Denby: it's "murderous fun." Violent, but very enjoyable. My mental image of Leonardo DiCaprio is no longer of some guy sloshing around on the Titanic. Marky Mark is also a highlight.
HOW ACCURATE is Wikipedia? One professor experimented by planting false information in a few of the site's entries:

Mr. Halavais expected some of his fabrications to languish online for some time. Like many academics, he was skeptical about a mob-edited publication that called itself an authoritative encyclopedia. But less than three hours after he posted them, all of his false facts had been deleted, thanks to the vigilance of Wikipedia editors who regularly check a page on the Web site that displays recently updated entries.
Some members of the academy aren't fans; they say Wikipedia "devalues the notion of expertise itself."
Lyric of the Day:
“I told her ‘Put an extra layer on.’
I know what happens when she drinks Patrón.”
~ Joe Nichols, “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off”

Happy Birthday:
Nicolas Culpeper
Bill Gates
Julia Roberts
Jonas Salk
Isaac Singer
Evelyn Waugh

Friday, October 27, 2006

FANS OF Eugene Volokh's writing on the "slippery slope" phenomenon will be interested in this post on the NJ gay marriage decision.
830: The highest Scrabble score ever, achieved earlier this month in a church basement in Lexington, Massachusetts.

Here is a photo of the board at the end of the game.
A DUKE FACULTY MEMBER goes public in support of the lacrosse team:

Duke students should expect nothing less from their university. The day they set foot on the Duke Campus for the first time they became members of the Duke family. For most this was the beginning of a life-long relationship that generates intense loyalties and deep love. The assumption is that the relationship is reciprocal, that Duke holds all of its students in high esteem-loves them-and will support them through the rough times as well as the good. Instead, Duke has disowned its lacrosse-playing student athletes. Their treatment has been shameful.
This is the kind of statement many of us have been waiting to hear. Link via KC Johnson, who calls the letter "one of the most important publications of the case to date."

This post from Liestoppers also grabbed me:

All those closely following the case here in the blogosphere have their reasons, and I’d like to explain mine. I graduated from Duke. I am proud of this fact. I had wonderful friends. I’ve been to their weddings in the Duke chapel. I’ve seen their newborn babies dressed in Duke blue. This is why it’s so painful to read this quote from Reade Seligmann:
"I chose Duke to be my home for four years. And to see your professors … go out and slander you and say these horrible, untrue things about you and to have your … administration just … cut us loose for, for, based on nothing. Duke took that stance that “We wouldn’t stand for this behavior.” They didn’t want to take a chance on standing up for the truth. I can’t imagine representing a school that didn’t want to represent me." CBS News 10/17/2006
The reason that this quote is painful is that for all my pride in Duke, I can’t give Reade Seligmann one reason why he should return when this is over. Every word he says above is true.
Below the post, there are other similarly heartsick comments from people who also chose Duke to be their home for four years.

In other news, I got an invitation in the mail today to attend some kind of dinner in DC at which Richard Brodhead and a panel will talk about "Duke's contribution to the world" or something like that. No mention of anything lacrosse-related. A PR campaign is clearly well underway, but I doubt the administration will be able to change the subject as quickly as it would like.
Quote of the Day:
"We are getting into semantics again. If we use words, there is a very grave danger they will be misinterpreted."
~ H. R. Haldeman

Song of the Day:
T'Pau, "Heart and Soul"

Happy Birthday:
John Cleese
H.R. Haldeman
Roy Lichtenstein
Nicolo Paganini
Sylvia Plath
Theodore Roosevelt
Dylan Thomas

Thursday, October 26, 2006

MICKEY KAUS on the NJ gay-rights decision: "[T]he breathtaking speed with which this sort of radical cultural change has gone from being unmentioned to being a litmus test for all 'logical' people is one of the things that worries ordinary voters and turns them into cultural conservatives even though... these voters might be persuaded to try worthy experiments like gay unions and gay marriage."

Whatever your position on gay marriage, I think you have to agree with Kaus's point about the incredibly rapid "litmusization" of the issue. I feel like when I started law school six years ago legal same-sex marriage was talked about as a fairly far-out hypothetical by all but the most hardcore. Now the approved "opinion leader" position seems to be one of weariness and frustration that change isn't happening soon enough, even though those same opinion leaders haven't been advocating it for very long.

Again, I'm certainly not saying it's the wrong position on the merits, just that it's interesting as a sociological point to think about how rapidly opinion has coalesced.
SO I GO TO Atlanta for a couple of days, and when I get back everybody's talking about Michael J. Fox and Rush Limbaugh and the fake Jesus.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Quote of the Day:
"It is a paradoxical but profoundly true and important principle of life that the most likely way to reach a goal is to be aiming not at that goal itself but at some more ambitious goal beyond it."
~ Arnold Toynbee

Song of the Day:
Crystal Method, "Busy Child"

Happy Birthday:
Johnny Carson
Michael Crichton
Doug Flutie
John Heinz

Friday, October 20, 2006

Quote of the Day:
"Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose."
~ Helen Keller

Song of the Day:
Eva Cassidy, "Over the Rainbow"

Happy Birthday:
Art Buchwald
John Dewey
Keith Hernandez
Charles Ives
Bela Lugosi
Mickey Mantle
Tom Petty
Arthur Rimbaud
Christopher Wren

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

LILY'S LAST POST: "About the Kitchen Cabinet" has been updated.
FINGER FORECASTS: This article will make you take a close look at the length of your fingers. (Mine reveal that I have utterly failed to take advantage of innate athletic ability.)
THE WASHINGTON POST'S CAMPAIGN to endear itself to millions of Virginians continues with this blurb comparing Northern Virginia ("NoVa") to the rest of Virginia ("RoVa").

In NoVa, a lab is the family dog. In RoVa, a lab is the family meth business.

In NoVa, a "fur piece" is something a woman wears on a special occasion. In RoVa, a "fur piece" is unit of distance.

It's funny how perspectives shift; for example, one of the world's finest restaurants, The Inn at Little Washington, happens to be located firmly in RoVa (it's in Washington, Virginia -- a tiny town that's a good hour-and-a-half drive from DC). Yet the Post proudly claims it as one of DC's best restaurants, as if were on Clarendon Boulevard instead of off among the meth labs.

Embattled U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum said America has avoided a second terrorist attack for five years because the “Eye of Mordor” has been drawn to Iraq instead.

“As the hobbits are going up Mount Doom, the Eye of Mordor is being drawn somewhere else,” Santorum said, describing the tool the evil Lord Sauron used in search of the magical ring that would consolidate his power over Middle-earth.

“It's being drawn to Iraq and it's not being drawn to the U.S.,” Santorum continued. “You know what? I want to keep it on Iraq. I don't want the Eye to come back here to the United States.”
Take it away, Jon Stewart.
ALTERNATE UNIVERSE: An ex World of Warcraft "guild leader" writes about the toll the game can take:

I am not one to judge a person's situation, but when a father/husband plays a video game all night long, seven days a week, after getting home from work, very involved instances that soak up hours and require concentration, it makes me queasy that I encouraged that. Others include the kids you know aren't doing their homework and confide in you they are failing out of high school or college but don't want to miss their chance at loot, the long-term girl/boyfriend who is skipping out on a date (or their anniversary - I've seen it) to play (and in some cases flirt constantly), the professional taking yet another day off from work to farm mats or grind their reputations up with in-game factions to get "valuable" quest rewards, etc... I'm not one to tell people how to spend their time, but it gets ridiculous when you take a step back.
I had never heard of World of Warcraft until last week, when my husband and I caught an episode of South Park that was a parody of the game. The episode was absolutely hilarious; I hadn't laughed that hard in a while. ("When Hitler rose to power there were a lot of people who 'just stopped playing.' And you know who those people were? The French. Are you French, Clyde? Voulez-vous coucher avec moi, Clyde?")

You can watch the South Park episode here, here, and here. (And don't worry -- it absolutely will not make you want to rush out and buy the game.)

(Link via InstaPundit.)
OUT OF CURIOSITY, Courtland Milloy visited a KKK rally on Saturday:

For starters, the Klan arrived in white vans chauffeured and escorted by U.S. Park Police. Then they were guarded by a phalanx of law enforcement officers from federal, state and local agencies. Civil rights activists in the last century should have been so fortunate.

In a racial irony to top all racial ironies, some of those assigned to protect the Klan were black.
Pretty remarkable that these things still go on. It's a good sign that the people in the pointy hats are usually outnumbered by counterprotesters -- as seemed to be the case with this one.
Movie Quote of the Day:
"You dirtbags have been in third place for five years."
"Oh yeah? Well, you're about to be in... dead place."
~ Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

Song of the Day:
Billy Joel, "And So It Goes"

Happy Birthday:
Chuck Berry
Jesse Helms
Winton Marsalis
Martina Navratilova
George C. Scott

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

FOUNDING FAILURES? David Forte reviews Bruce Ackerman's The Failure of the Founding Fathers: Jefferson, Marshall, and the Rise of Presidential Democracy. Forte writes that the book is part of Ackerman's campaign to "deconstruct American constitutional law and strip any normative authority from the original document."

Ackerman is well aware that originalism has gained the high ground in constitutional interpretation and that its opponents often have been reduced to fighting rear-guard actions based on stare decisis or, at best, to making tactical advances under such opportunistic rubrics as "active liberty." He knows that academic scholarship on the founding has reached such a high level of sophistication that it has been used to understand and decide constitutional cases. He also knows that popular interest in the founders' lives has produced a score of recent bestsellers by respected historians. So Ackerman has gone for the nuclear option: undermine originalism by picturing the founders as nothing more than an 18th-century version of Tammany Hall.
The fact that I had not even heard of this book suggests to me that it may not pack quite the same punch as those recent bestsellers.

Link via The Right Coast.
OF ALL PEOPLE: Andrew Sullivan comes out against "whiny, lesbian complaint-rock."
FOR A DAILY LAUGH, I'll be checking Korea Central News Agency, a "service" of the North Korean government. Today's offerings include a bit about a declaration of "World Food Day," which aims to "settle the food problem worldwide" (of course, some parts of the world have worse food problems than others).

Link via Tuesday Morning Quarterback.
AT BALKINIZATION, Brian Tamanaha writes about the Scalia-Strossen debate I listened to this morning. He quotes a CNN story:

[Scalia] said unelected judges have no place deciding politically charged questions when the Constitution is silent on those issues.

Arguing that liberal judges in the past improperly established new political rights such as abortion, Scalia warned, "Someday, you're going to get a very conservative Supreme Court and regret that approach."
Tamanaha sees this as some sort of chest-thumping threat from a newly animated Scalia, who's going to round up his new friends Sammy and J-Rob and make the ACLU regret the day it was ever formed. But isn't it just what the article said: a warning? Scalia was merely cautioning Strossen that her preferred method of activist judging isn't going to seem so congenial when the judges aren't her kind of activists. With a few exceptions, Scalia's been pretty clearly against judicial activism in his jurisprudence; is it realistic to fear that he's about to lapse into "tit for tat"?

It's interesting how quickly left-leaning legal academics, faced with the prospect of a more conservative court, shout, "No tit for tat! No activism from you -- be consistent!" Consistency and its sibling stare decisis suddenly become the most sacred of judicial principles. Speaking of consistency, it's not exactly a consistent argument for the constitutional principle of vigorous judging to say "Activism only for the policies I favor!" It is, of course, a consistent argument for... left-leaning policies.
IF KARL ROVE has Osama Bin Laden chained in his basement, now would be the time for the big reveal. These Senate polling numbers are nothing but ugly for Republicans. It's all but over in PA and OH, and things look grim for Chafee in Rhode Island too.

Here's InstaPundit's controversial pre-mortem on the GOP majority.
SPORTS COLUMNIST Jason Whitlock says Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson should be in Durham demanding Mike Nifong's resignation:

It is in the best interest of all black people, especially poor black people, that black people with a voice and a platform call for an end to the persecution of the Duke lacrosse players and program.

Speaking out in support of the wealthy Duke players enhances our credibility when we claim that someone poor and black is being treated unfairly. Poor people need that credibility because they can’t afford to make bail, let alone a team of high-priced attorneys.

By remaining silent about this obvious miscarriage of justice, black leadership looks as racist and cowardly as it paints white people who ignore obvious mistreatment of blacks.
Link via John in Carolina.
BLUE, BROWN, OR RED: Loads of comments on the Volokh Conspiracy about which law school textbooks are more aesthetically pleasing. These people appear to have spent a lot more time with their law books than I did.
CONDOLEEZZA RICE: "MORALLY PROVOCATIVE!" No, it's not about the boots. Rice, swearing in Mark Dybul as the new global AIDS coordinator, referred to Dybul's partner's mother as Dybul's "mother in law."

Not to worry; the Family Research Council is all over it:

Peter Sprigg, vice president for policy at the Family Research Council, says the secretary's comments were "profoundly offensive" and fly in the face of the Bush administration's endorsement of a federal marriage protection amendment, though that backing be less than enthusiastic.

"We have to face the fact that putting a homosexual in charge of AIDS policy is a bit like putting the fox in charge of the henhouse," says Sprigg. "But even beyond that, the deferential treatment that was given not only to him but his partner and his partner's family by the Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is very distressing."
Note how the FRC points to the infiltration of the GOP by gay Congressional staffers:

[T]he Rice statement comes in the midst of news stories dealing with the Mark Foley scandal, many of which have talked about the number of homosexual staffers on the Republican payroll. Some pro-family people are starting to wonder if this homosexual influence within the GOP may account for the party's lack of action on social conservative issues. FRC's Tony Perkins says that among the questions that need to be asked are: "Has the social agenda of the GOP been stalled by homosexual members or staffers?"
They've gotten to Condi too! Link from Blue Bayou via Althouse.
IN THE BACKGROUND this morning: I'm listening to an ACLU debate between Justice Antonin Scalia and ACLU president Nadine Strossen, moderated by Pete Williams. It's available on C-SPAN's website. (You need RealPlayer to be your player for RTSP files to view it.)
A LINK BETWEEN television and autism? A new study suggests that "parents may urgently need to know to keep toddlers away from the TV."
NOVA, THE 51ST STATE: The WP declares with palpable relief that "the Washington suburbs have become a political and social world apart from the rest of Virginia."

The evidence? A poll indicates that the Northern Virginia suburbs reject an anti-gay marriage amendment (55 percent to 42 percent), while the rest of the state supports it (58 to 38).
SCARY HOT: We have observed here at the Kitchen Cabinet that variations on the "hooker" theme increasingly dominate Halloween costumes among female revelers of our acquaintance. Somebody else has noticed:

Since when did Halloween costumes become marital aids? The hobo has turned into the Hillbilly Honey. The traditional vampire is now the Mistress of Darkness. I have nothing against playing erotic dress-up, or even mass-market fetishism. I’d just prefer it didn’t converge with a family holiday (and wasn’t sold next to the dryer sheets). If you want to play cheerleader at home, go team. But trick-or-treating with your children in anything featuring latex and cleavage seems like a little too much trick....
Link via Althouse.
AFTER 22 YEARS, a sports fan lets his Sports Illustrated subscription lapse:

[F]ar too often, especially in more recent times, SI did leap onto the tiresome train of repeated “insights” that dominated the rest of sports commentary. I have written at length in this space on SI’s tendency to run the same articles praising the same coaches and athletes–Tom Brady, Roger Clemens, Peyton Manning, Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick–whenever the occasion called for it, often more than once a year, as well as on its tendency to repeat the same observations on the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry several times a year.
Apparently they also wrote too many nice things about Derek Jeter.
Movie Quote of the Day:
"Tattoo on the lower back? Might as well be a bullseye."
~ Wedding Crashers

Song of the Day:
Eric Clapton, "Let It Grow"

Happy Birthday:
Jimmy Breslin
Rita Hayworth
Wyclef Jean
Evel Knievel
Arthur Miller

Monday, October 16, 2006

“THE PRICE OF SAME-SEX MARRIAGE IS PAID BY THE CHILDREN.” Governor disses own state -- think he might be planning a run for something other than governor?
WATCH WHAT YOU SAY: How a flippant comment on a mothers' bulletin board got one English mom into a lot of hot water -- and 35 newspaper articles.
SASS AND CONTEMPT AND CLEVER SHORTCUTS: That's what little boys are made of. The City Journal on how schools shortchange boys:

A female teacher, especially if she has no male children of her own, I’ve noticed, will tend to view boys’ penchant for challenging classroom assignments as disruptive, disrespectful—rude. In my experience, notes home and parent-teacher conferences almost always concern a boy’s behavior in class, usually centering on this kind of conflict. In today’s feminized classroom, with its “cooperative learning” and “inclusiveness,” a student’s demand for assurance of a worthwhile outcome for his effort isn’t met with a reasonable explanation but is considered inimical to the educational process. Yet it’s this very trait, innate to boys and men, that helps explain male success in the hard sciences, math, and business.
And the "solution" is to park boys in special ed, which is now "the single largest budget item, outside of basic operations, in most school districts across the country."
MICHAEL RUBIN remembers how Duke President Richard Brodhead dealt with the murder of a Yale student in 1998, when Brodhead was Dean of Yale College.

The Kitchen Cabinet cheered Brodhead's arrival at Duke in 2003. I had met him once in New Haven and spoken to him only briefly, but some of my YLS friends knew him and had glowing things to say. It seemed to me that Brodhead would be the kind of personable, student-focused leader Duke needed, after several years where fund-and-rankings-raising had seemed to be paramount.

I was therefore particularly reluctant to place much blame on Brodhead this spring when the lacrosse scandal broke. Faced with what looked at the very least like outrageously crass behavior on the part of the lacrosse team and a burgeoning town-gown crisis, he seemed to be doing a decent job.

Since I've been able to focus more on this story over the past few weeks, my opinion of Brodhead and Duke's handling of the situation has fallen precipitously. It started with this lame Q&A posted on the Duke Alumni Association's web site, which patiently explains to us ignorant alumni that of course people are innocent until proven guilty, but that, you see, the faculty have this thing called freedom of speech.

The statement to alumni is insulting. Eighty-eight members of the Duke faculty this spring published a "thank you" to students who had distributed a “wanted” poster of lacrosse players and publicly branded them “rapists.” But in the face of well-documented unethical behavior on the part of the Durham authorities that threatens to deprive Duke students of at least their reputations and at most their very freedom, Duke's message to its alumni is a bunch of condescending blather about how the school can't really do anything but address the on-campus "issues" raised by the case. (My favorite quote: "Academics come first at Duke, although many Duke students also excel in athletics, science, the arts, community service and other fields." The Arts and Sciences faculty will no doubt be interested to learn that their disciplines take a backseat to "academics.")

I was also troubled last week to read that Duke administrators apparently shut down a voter registration drive put on in the parking lot during a Duke football game by a Duke student group advocating the defeat of Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong. According to a letter written to The Chronicle:

The explanations for this interference have ranged from the students' alleged failure to give prior notice (even though such notice was apparently given two weeks in advance and resulted in a number of conversations about logistics) to objections to the "bias" of the participants. The most disturbing explanation is that objections were raised because of a public relations concern that the students involved were motivated by support for the men's lacrosse team.
Finally, this morning I read something I had apparently missed before: In the early hours of the crisis, Duke told lacrosse players not to tell their parents about the potential criminal investigation:

[A]dministrators demanded from the captains a candid account of the evening’s events, allegedly citing a non-existent “student-faculty” privilege to encourage the captains to disclose any criminal activity. Multiple sources confirm that Coach Mike Pressler, apparently acting on orders from above, instructed the other players not to tell their parents about the police inquiry. Meanwhile, Dean Sue Wasiolek arranged for a local lawyer, Wes Covington, to act as a “facilitator” in arranging for a group meeting with police. The night before the meeting, one player broke down and told his father, who happened to be in Durham. Other parents then were informed, and—recognizing the need to obtain competent counsel—postponed the meeting.
If true, this is shocking behavior on the part of the university. As one of KC Johnson's commenters said:

Trying to cut students off from the advice of their parents when they needed it more than at any other time in their lives is the lowest and the most vile thing I could ever imagine a university doing to its students.
And as other commenters noted, in ham-handedly trying to contain the damage, these administrators may have exposed the school to civil liability.

I understand that Duke's early response to the situation was not completely within Brodhead's control. I also understand that town-gown relations are important and that it would be unrealistic to expect Duke's president to mount an all-out attack on the Durham authorities, however outragous their conduct has been. I do not, however, believe that it is too much to ask that Brodhead and Duke drop the pretense that they are morally required to sit on their hands and let "the legal system" do its job, when it is clear that "the legal system" is threatening to grind up three Duke students who are almost certainly innocent. Again, I don't expect dramatic denunciations, but something more than silence and passivity is called for here.

Since I graduated from Duke — no, since I matriculated at Duke — I have loved the school wholeheartedly. I've given it money; I've dreamed of one day being a "Duke parent." Both the money and the dream are on hold for now.
LET'S REVIEW: KC Johnson summarizes the Duke Lacrosse case to date.
LAW SCHOOL DEAN HOTTIES: View the nominees and vote here. The KC has had the opportunity to observe two of the candidates up-close-and-personal at that Hotbed of Hotness, the Yale Law School, and our official position is "no comment."

UPDATE: Here is something that is apparently Not Hot.
BONUS QUOTE OF THE DAY, from an article about Ted Olson's upcoming marriage:

"She's a lovely woman, and she's a tax lawyer," [Senior U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Laurence Silberman] says. Tax lawyers are the most stable and well-adjusted members of the profession, Silberman explains, because "they spend their time working puzzles that no one else understands."
Well put.
EARLIER THIS YEAR a friend of mine came up with a characteristically creative and generous way to celebrate his 30th birthday: He asked friends and family to give him names of our favorite charities, and he would donate to them in our names.

His thoughtful idea forced me to select a favorite charity. Previous objects of my largesse have mainly been my alma maters, places I've worked, and random legal aid groups that campaign for donations at my firm. I wanted to honor my friend's generosity by selecting a really deserving charity, not merely one I'd been associated with.

Of all the sins of totalitarian regimes, suppression of free press may be the one that offends me most, in part because it enables all the other ones. For a long time I'd had a vision of an organization that put out radio broadcasts to people in living under oppression in China and North Korea; I thought there surely such a group must exist. But I searched in vain on lists of reputable charities. It didn't seem to be out there. Ultimately, I ended up choosing the Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation, which promotes educational choice.

This past August, Robert Wone, a 32-year-old Washington attorney, was murdered in a townhouse in Dupont Circle. News reports mentioned that Wone was the new general counsel for an organization called Radio Free Asia. I made a mental note that apparently there was an organization like the one I had been looking for. (Wone's tragic death has been back in the news recently.)

The desperate situation of the people in North Korea has, naturally, been on my mind in the past week, and last night I decided to research Radio Free Asia and see if it might be worthy of my financial support. I explored the organization's website and was surprised that it didn't include any obvious instructions about how to give them money. "They really need a course in how to shill for funds," I was thinking.

This is all a really long way of saying, "Duh!" I can't donate to Radio Free Asia because I'm already giving them money. Radio Free Asia is a creation of the United States government, funded by our tax dollars.

I don't often get choked up – at least not in a good way – when I contemplate how our government spends money, but I very nearly was last night. It's hard to tell exactly how many people we reach with the broadcasts; apparently China tries to block the signal, and I imagine many North Koreans don't have access to radios. But how wonderful – how very American – that we try.
I ONLY WATCHED the 60 Minutes segment on David Kuo last night because it was right after the Duke Lacrosse piece, but boy -- I had a lot to say about it. And all of it -- plus more -- is pretty much said here by Jonah Goldberg.
Movie Quote of the Day:
"Let's just say I could write a hell of a paper on a grown man who dresses up like a flying rodent."
~ Batman

Song of the Day:
Bonnie Somerville, "Winding Road"

Happy Birthday:
David Ben-Gurion
Charles Colson
William O. Douglas
Angela Lansbury
Eugene O’Neill
Noah Webster

Saturday, October 14, 2006

REGARDING THE QUESTION of whether Mark Foley should have been outed for being a hypocrite, Dean Jens e-mails to question whether Foley was guilty of hypocrisy at all:

Why is it "hypocrisy" for a homosexual to support a bill that seems to be anti-homosexual? It seems easier to apply that label -- at least what it used to mean -- to heterosexuals who try to make laws that treat homosexuals worse than heterosexuals. If you seem facially to be discriminating against your own, that seems like an indicator to me that maybe you're sincere about the arguments you're making that the distinctions you're making are material, in a way that favoring your own doesn't.

Someone called Justice Thomas a hypocrite for voting against affirmative action. Well, it was pointed out, the entire Warren court was white -- was it hypocritical for them to oppose segregation? It's less out-of-hand ridiculous to suggest that Thomas or Foley were being politically opportunistic or something, but the term "hypocrisy" is thrown around so carelessly these days that it often seems to land on something that is, based on the evidence presented, exactly the opposite.
Good point. Moreover, in other cases it's seen to be a nefarious thing when a politician votes for something that stands to benefit him personally. Are Congressmen who vote against Congressional pay hikes accused of hypocrisy?
Quote of the Day:
"You can safely assume that you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do."
~ Anne Lamott

Song of the Day:
Procul Harum, "A Whiter Shade Of Pale"

Happy Birthday:
Hannah Arendt
e.e. cummings
John W. Dean III
Dwight Eisenhower
Ralph Lauren
Isaac Mizrahi
Roger Moore
William Penn
John Wooden

Friday, October 13, 2006

MORE CRITICISM of the NYT's coverage of the Duke rape case, this time from New York magazine:

“I’ve never been a source for anyone on any story ever written about the Times,” one reporter at the paper told me. So why on this one? “I’ve never felt so ill over Times coverage.” That’s ill at a paper that published Jayson Blair’s fabrications and Judy Miller on WMD. “It’s institutional,” said one of the several editors to whom I spoke. “You see it again and again, the way the Times lumbers into trouble.”
The piece has much-deserved praise for KC Johnson.
AN OLD ARTICLE explores the surreal landscape of the Demilitarized Zone between the two Koreas:

There are two heavily guarded villages in the DMZ, one in the north and one in the south, which face each other across the minefields. They are visible to tourists, but off-limits for visits. The southern village, Taesongdong, is home to 237 farmers; life is dangerous, but they don't have to pay taxes and they get great prices for their novel produce. The northern village, Kijongdong, looks modern enough, but if you squint through your binoculars, you'll see that the buildings don't even have glass in the windows. It's a lie, a huge Potemkin village designed to give North Korea the appearance of modernity.
The DMZ also has what Sports Illustrated called "the most dangerous hole in golf": hit a stray shot and you might explode a land mine.

Here is a picture of the fake village, which has the world's tallest flagpole.

And here's a entry from Wikipedia with details on four tunnels that have been discovered in the DMZ -- the latest in 1990:

Starting on November 15, 1974, the South discovered four tunnels leading under the DMZ, by use of water-filled pipes dug vertically into the ground near areas of suspected tunnelling activity. ... The north-south directions of the four tunnels, the fact that they do not branch, the progressively more advanced planning of each one (for example, the third tunnel slopes upward slightly as it progresses southward, so that water does not stagnate), and the orientation of the blasting lines within each one indicate that North Korea dug the tunnels, and that their purpose was for invasion, and not coal mining, as the North claimed upon their discovery (no coal can be found in the tunnels, which are dug through granite, but some of the tunnel walls were at some point painted black to give the appearance of coal). The tunnels are each large enough to permit the passage of an entire division in one hour.

This article says it is "generally believed" that there are more than 20 more tunnels under the DMZ, "but the South Korean government will not confirm exact numbers, presumably to prevent panic amongst an already skittish population."

The "demilitarized" area sounds like the most militarized place on the whole peninsula.
THE LEFT AND FREE SPEECH: Peggy Noonan's column this week weaves together the Columbia protestors, CBS News, Barbra Streisand, and Rosie O'Donnell:

There's a pattern here, isn't there?

It is not only about rage and resentment, and how some have come to see them as virtues, as an emblem of rightness. I feel so much, therefore my views are correct and must prevail. It is about something so obvious it is almost embarrassing to state. Free speech means hearing things you like and agree with, and it means allowing others to speak whose views you do not like or agree with. This--listening to the other person with respect and forbearance, and with an acceptance of human diversity--is the price we pay for living in a great democracy. And it is a really low price for such a great thing.
Read the whole thing.
THIS SUNDAY NIGHT, 60 Minutes will air an interview of the "second stripper" in the Duke rape case. KC Johnson comments on the sneak peek from CBS.
TO PARAPHRASE Dorothy L. Sayers, the only sin bloggingheads.tv can commit is to be joyless. This one commits that sin. I couldn't get past the first five minutes.
SHOULD THE MEDIA have outed Mark Foley long ago? Michelangelo Signorile says privacy isn't the only consideration:

The standard should be simple: If a public figure's homosexuality is relevant to a larger story, then the public should know. Foley voted for an anti-gay law, which should have been reason enough for the press corps to expose his hypocrisy. When aspects of a public figure's heterosexuality are relevant — past relationships, marriages, children, divorces and the like — the media dutifully report on them, whether or not the subjects approve of such reporting.
If he'd voted against the anti-gay law, wouldn't his homosexuality be equally relevant? I'm not necessarily against outing people, but I don't think we should make such a fetish of sexual hypocrisy that it gets uniquely harsh punishment.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

UNSERIOUS: The WSJ on Democrats' reaction to the North Korea mess:

[T]he Democrats' instant, soundbite criticism is unserious to the point that it calls into question their sincerity in contributing to a solution. Are Messrs. Reid, Dean, Menendez et al. concerned about nuclear weapons getting into terrorist hands and U.S. ports? They tell us they are. Then perhaps they might publicly call on China and Russia to join the Proliferation Security Initiative, the most successful effort yet to interdict the transfer of illicit weapons.

[I]t would help if just once public discourse on the subject did not instantly degrade into an exercise in cynical political point-scoring. Fat chance.
But "blame Bush" seems to be working as an electoral strategy.

David Broder says voters have been pointing a gun at the GOP for months, and it's almost time to pull the trigger.
MORE ON THE Columbia Minuteman-protest controversy: Jon Stewart says, "Congratulations, protesters, you've managed to make Sean Hannity seem like the reasonable one."
ASSAULT ON MCDREAMY: Dishy gossip on the KC's guilty pleasure.
WAR STORIES: Newsweek profiles a war marriage -- he's in Iraq and she's at home with their two young children. The time apart is putting strain on their relationship, and they argue a lot. She's frustrated: "He isn't here, so it's too bad. I've been alone for over a year and in some ways we are mourning someone who is gone and have to get on with our lives. They need to come home. This needs to come to an end because it's tearing families apart."

Maybe it's because I just saw Flags of Our Fathers, but I'm finding it difficult to muster a lot of sympathy. I'm also not feeling the anti-war vibes Newsweek doubtless wants me to feel. Instead, I'm thinking that it's wonderful that modern technology is such that she gets to communicate with her husband nearly every day. And I'm thinking (or at least hoping) that she'll be a bit embarrassed to read herself telling Newsweek that we should pull out of Iraq because people are having marital problems.
Quote of the Day:
"The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You don't blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny."
~ Albert Ellis

Song of the Day:
Sade, "By Your Side"

Happy Birthday:
Luciano Pavarotti
Edward VI
Sasha Volokh

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

IT JUST GOT more sensitive:

A player-pilot is still a sensitive topic for the Yankees, whose captain, Thurman Munson, was killed in the crash of a plane he was flying in 1979. Lidle, acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies on July 30, said his plane was safe.
The NYT, in an article from about a month ago.
AS A FEW OF YOU have noticed, the Kitchen Cabinet has emerged from hibernation in recent weeks, with a facelift and posts by somebody other than Alan.

Over the past eighteen months or so I’ve barely had time to keep up with the news in any meaningful way, let alone the energy to blog. I’ve missed it.

Happily, circumstances have changed. I got married in August (much of the aforementioned time/energy deficit was due to wedding planning), and my husband's job is allowing us to explore a new part of the country. Two months ago I was a DC law firm associate. These days, I’m living in Alabama and home most of the day – very good blogging conditions.

I've been thinking about the whole anonymity thing – it's so 2002 (and hardly justified by my current status as an Alabama housewife). So I’ll try to find a newish picture that doesn’t involve a wedding gown or a bikini, and unveil the real Lily soon.

Thanks to Alan for continuing to post his thoughtful reviews here. It's great to be back.
I CAN SEE why you won't be seeing this ad on TV. Still, pretty funny. Madeleine Albright's skirt ripping as she bends over to change the tire is a nice touch.
Quote of the Day:
"Every author really wants to have letters printed in the papers. Unable to make the grade, he drops down a rung of the ladder and writes novels."
~ P.G. Wodehouse

Song of the Day:
Zero 7, "In the Waiting Line"

Happy Birthday:
Grace Lin
Jerome Robbins
Eleanor Roosevelt
EVANGELICALS are ready to embrace a Mormon GOP candidate, says Slate.

Everybody talks about Protestant evangelicals as if they're the only people who might have qualms about electing a Mormon president, and if Romney gets them on board he'll have smooth sailing with the rest of the electorate.

My guess is that anti-Mormon sentiment extends far outside the religious right. This certainly suggests that Romney might have bigger problems than James Dobson.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A CALL TO CONSERVATIVES to hold their noses and come out for the GOP on election day, from Bill Bennett:

Look, if you want John Paul Stevens replaced on the Supreme Court with a carbon copy, pro-choice, pro-racial preferences Justice, stay home. ... Two years ago we sent a message by reelecting the President, have things fallen so hard since then that we can't muster those numbers again and see that the good should not be traded in for the bad? You want to rue a day? You will rue a day with John Conyers as head of the House Judiciary and Pat Leahy as head of the Senate Judiciary. Don't do it. Please don't do it.
Not good enough. In fact, pretty embarrassing. It's the kind of lame attempt at button-pushing I'd expect from a mass-mailed fundraising flyer, and it's a shame National Review is letting it clutter The Corner.

Case in point: It is credibility-reducing to intimate that turning the House over to the Democrats for the next two years is going to produce another Justice Stevens. I'll worry about judicial appointments in 2008 and not a minute before.
THIS AFTERNOON I read an article in the New Yorker (not online, unfortunately) about one Richard McNair, a convicted murderer who has escaped repeatedly from prison. He's currently at large after escaping from a federal prison in Louisiana.

This video, caught on the dash-cam of a police car, shows McNair's encounter with a local police officer at a checkpoint. By the end of the video the two men are chatting it up like old pals. The officer apologizes to McNair for inconveniencing him, and the escaped convict goes on his way. Ooops. That's the last confirmed contact anybody's had with McNair.

What's impressive about McNair's performance in the video is how well he's mastering the impulse you'd quite naturally have if you were an escaped convict who'd just been stopped on a country road by a police officer: Run; head for the woods and get out of this situation. He shows no eagerness to get away. Instead he's chatty, curious about the prison break, volunteering lots of (totally made-up) information about himself. Even when the cop is basically shooing him on his way, McNair is drawing out the encounter. The police officer is an easy target for ridicule, but he was dealing with a virtuoso.
I WENT TO an early screening of Flags of Our Fathers tonight. Thumbs-down from me, but some of the people I saw it with liked it.

Variety's review is here.
Quote of the Day:
"It was one of those jolly, happy, bread-crumbling parties where you cough twice before you speak, and then decide not to say it after all."
~ P.G. Wodehouse

Song of the Day:
Alphaville, "Forever Young"

Happy Birthday:
Thelonius Monk
Lawrence Tribe
Guiseppe Verdi

Monday, October 09, 2006

ANN ALTHOUSE on the Foley fallout: "There is a tendency to assume the morals voters are naive, that you can play them and even talk about how you're playing them and they won't see the whole picture that includes you trying to play them."
A NUGGET from Guantanomo:

[E]arlier this year Guantanamo was buying bottled water that had an American flag on the label. Lest this upset the detainees, base personnel were put to work stripping off the labels.
This from Claudia Rosett, who also reports the inmate culture at Guantanomo amounts to "a fully tricked-out al-Qaeda operating cell."
Quote of the Day:
"The drowsy stillness of the afternoon was shattered by what sounded to his strained senses like G. K. Chesterton falling on a sheet of tin."
~ P.G. Wodehouse

Song of the Day:
Simon & Garfunkle, "The Only Living Boy in New York"

Happy Birthday:
Alfred Dreyfus
John Lennon
Sean Lennon

Sunday, October 08, 2006

I WAS GOING A BIT stir-crazy this afternoon after a weekend at home, so we went out this evening. We had sushi at Jinsei, in Homewood's SoHo Square. The sushi was good, and there were several neat little stores nearby. Most were closed for the day, but it was fun to look in the windows.

We went home the long way, and the Hot Light happened to be on at the Krispy Kreme, so we even got dessert.
THESE ARE "statements of fact," according to NYT Supreme Court reporter Linda Greenhouse:

“[The U.S. government] had turned its energy and attention away from upholding the rule of law and toward creating law-free zones at Guantánamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, Haditha, other places around the world, the U.S. Congress, whatever. And let’s not forget the sustained assault on women’s reproductive freedom and the hijacking of public policy by religious fundamentalism.... I feel a growing obligation to reach out across the ridiculous actual barrier that we seem about to build on the Mexican border.”
The NYT's public editor questioned Greenhouse about the propriety, in light of the paper's internal policies against public opinionating by reporters, of her making the above remarks -- and got this response:

Ms. Greenhouse told me she considers her remarks at Harvard to be “statements of fact” — not opinion — that would be allowed to appear in a Times news article. She said The Times has not suggested that she avoid writing stories on any of the topics on which she commented in June. “Any such limits would be completely preposterous,” she said.
Is it just me, or is her characterization of the remarks as "statements of fact" an even bigger red flag than the statements themselves? The NYT has published in its own pages proof that one of its "star" reporters is incapable of distinguishing between her bald opinionating and factual statements suitable for a news article. The only preposterous thing about this is that the paper apparently is going to continue running her op-eds in the news section.
REPORT: U.S. intelligence reports say Fidel Castro has terminal cancer.
THE MORNING AFTER: Lots of people deserve blame for this, but let's start with him.
Quote of the Day:
"Unlike the male codfish which, suddenly finding itself the parent of three million five hundred thousand little codfish, cheerfully resolves to love them all, the British aristocracy is apt to look with a somewhat jaundiced eye on its younger sons."
~ P.G. Wodehouse

Song of the Day:
Coldplay, "Don't Panic"

Happy Birthday:
Matt Biondi
Chevy Chase
Bill Elliot
Jesse Jackson
Juan Peron
Sigourney Weaver

Saturday, October 07, 2006

GONE NUTS: The NYT looks at the the deepening problem of almond theft.
MORE on the Columbia free-speech debacle: University President Lee Bollinger has put out a statement:

It is unacceptable to seek to deprive another person of his or her right of expression through actions such as taking a stage and interrupting the speech. We rightly have a visceral rejection of this behavior, because we all sense how easy it is to slide from our collective commitment to the hard work of intellectual confrontation to the easy path of physical brutishness. When the latter happens, we know instinctively we are all threatened.
You can read lots of Volokh Conspiracy comments on the matter here.
Movie Quote of the Day:
"Aaaa! My neck! My back! My neck and my back! I want a hundred a fifty thousand, but we can settle out of court right now for twenty bucks."
~ Friday

Song of the Day:
Fountains of Wayne, "Stacy's Mom"

Happy Birthday:
Toni Braxton
Yo Yo Ma
Oliver North
Vladimir Putin
Desmond Tutu

Friday, October 06, 2006


In related news, guess who's the only undefeated football team in the ACC.
RICHARD NEUHAUS has thoughts on Judge Pryor's Wednesday WSJ op-ed. (HT: Southern Appeal.)
BEHOLD: How "tolerance" is expressed at Columbia these days.

More: "The Powerline video should be required viewing for anyone who believes that the marketplace of ideas is alive and well on our elite campuses."

More: Columbia's official statement is surprisingly strong: "it is never acceptable for anyone to physically take to a stage and interrupt a speaker."
IN HONOR OF the MLB playoffs: What Your Yankees Shirt Says About You. I wear a very non-Skankee #42.
EATING UP THE ADULATION: The Chicago Bears draw a lot of strength from their fans.
About the Kitchen Cabinet
Coming soon...
Movie Quote of the Day:
"The central message of Buddhism is not 'Every man for himself.'"
~ A Fish Called Wanda

Song of the Day:
The White Stripes, "Seven Nation Army"

Happy Birthday:
Jenny Lind
Elisabeth Shue
George Westinghouse

Thursday, October 05, 2006

IF THE DEMOCRATS can't win control of the House now, says George Will, they need to find a new line of work:

To a Republican Party increasingly defined by the ascendancy of the religious right, the Foley episode is doubly deadly. His behavior was disgusting, and some Republican reactions seem more calculating than indignant.
Will quotes from Ryan Sager's, "The Elephant in the Room: Evangelicals, Libertarians, and the Battle to Control the Republican Party":

"Whereas conservative Christian parents once thought it was inappropriate for public schools to teach their kids about sex, now they want the schools to preach abstinence to children. Whereas conservative Christians used to be unhappy with evolution being taught in public schools, now they want Intelligent Design taught instead (or at least in addition). Whereas conservative Christians used to want the federal government to leave them alone, now they demand that more and more federal funds be directed to local churches and religious groups through Bush's faith-based initiatives program."
Will says this Southern strain of conservatism conflicts with the more libertarian Western strain. Exactly what this has to do with Foley I am not sure.
SHOW OF HANDS: The NYT examines hand-holding and finds that -- at least in romantic relationships -- its symbolism has evolved somewhat:

“It is a lot more intimate to hold hands nowadays than to kiss,” said Joel Kershner, 23. Because of that, he said, reaching for someone’s hand these days has more potential for rejection than leaning in for a smooch at a party where alcohol is flowing.

Libby Tyler, 20, said it was “weird that hand-holding is more serious,” but true. “It’s something that you lead up to,” she said.
It also relaxes the body and reduces stress.
SOME PERSPECTIVE: Jonah Goldberg has an excellent post on the Foley matter. Among other things, he argues that the brouhaha is a sign that America has moved to the right.
Quote of the Day:
"In three words I can sum up everything I have learned about life: it goes on."
~ Robert Frost

Song of the Day:
White Town, "Your Woman"

Happy Birthday:
Chester A. Arthur
Vaclav Havel
David Klepper
Mario Lemieux
Barry Switzer
Horace Walpole

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

IS IT POSSIBLE the Foley scandal could help Republicans in some House races? Imagine you're a swing voter, and this has heightened your interest in Congressional decency -- not in a Republicans-versus-Democrats way, but in a gee-I-hope-my-Congressman-isn't-pervy way.

Imagine further that your local Republican candidate looks somewhat more values-centered than than the Democrat; maybe the Republican has a more identifiably religious background, or talks more about values-laden things like abortion or school prayer. Remember, "values" = "religion" for millions of voters, and it's acknowledged fairly widely that Democrats have a "God problem." If you're this hypothetical voter, might the GOP's traditional "morality" edge balance your local Democratic candidate's edge on some other issue -- the war in Iraq, for example?
BRACE YOURSELVES: Via InstaPundit, a prediction: "Now that the Rubicon has been crossed so close to the election, we should prepare ourselves for an avalanche of Congressional filth, the likes of which will make Clinton's experience look tame by comparison."

After the 2004 election, exit polling produced a brief flurry of interest in "values voting," but the CW quickly reversed course and everybody decided that values weren't really driving much. Should be interesting to see what the exit polls reveal this year in, say, Florida's 16th Congressional District.
HERE'S AN interesting look at what YouTube considers "inappropriate" content. Not having seen the video that was censored, I can't vouch for it myself. Still, it sure sounds like spine-free behavior on the part of YouTube.

Too bad. I'm just discovering the delights of the site. It's allowing me to follow both The Office and Grey's Anatomy without getting TiVo.
SPORTS ROUNDUP: The New Republic has a post-season baseball blog, which predicts "If Mike Mussina outpitches rookie flamethrower Justin Verlander tomorrow night, the Tigers are in serious trouble."

Remember, folks -- those aren't boos; they're moose-calls.

And even the canine world is excited about the National League playoffs.

Also, the excellent Tuesday Morning Quarterback has found yet another new perch this season, this time on espn.com's Page 2.
FIRST TUESDAY and tequila: Dahlia Lithwick chronicles Justice Scalia's "celebration of worm-laden beverages" during yesterday's oral argument. Speaking of fussing oneself into a lather...
COUNTERPOINT: Judge William Pryor offers a response [$] to Sandra Day O'Connor, who wrote about threats to judicial independence in a WSJ op-ed last week.

Justice O'Connor fretted about "intimidation" of judges via ballot initiatives; Judge Pryor notes that the judiciary has faced worse in the past:

To charge that the current disappointment regarding judges is unprecedented is to diminish the sacrifices that earlier giants of the judiciary endured. During the civil rights struggle, the ostracism and abuses suffered by federal judges in the Deep South -- including Frank Johnson, John Minor Wisdom and Skelly Wright -- were far worse than the current criticisms of judicial activism.
Judge Pryor points out that the judiciary is not, in fact, infallible -- and saying so is not only fair but healthy.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

YIKES: The #3 song Brits want played at their funerals is "I've Had the Time of My Life," from Dirty Dancing. (Via Althouse.)
MITT ROMNEY, take note: Only 29 percent of Americans think the country is ready for a Mormon president.

Monday, October 02, 2006

INDIGNATION OVERLOAD: One of Andrew Sullivan's readers is taking a break: "I'm fatigued by [Sullivan's] inability to accept that honest disagreement is possible."