October 31, 2014

"The GOP’s chances of winning the Senate are 68.5 percent, according to the FiveThirtyEight forecast..."

"... its highest figure of the year."

"Dude, why aren’t you hitting on her? Dude, why aren’t you trying to pick up more women? Why aren’t you yelling that at her?"

Imagining the pressure from other men that leads men to harass women on the street.

"Justice Department investigators have all but concluded they do not have a strong enough case to bring civil rights charges against Darren Wilson..."

"... the white police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Mo., law enforcement officials said."

Your Halloween hangout.

Cousin Itt and the Plague Doctor dropped by Meadhouse at 6:30:

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I was so impressed, I put that at the top of the post, originally published beginning at this point:

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That's an old pic. From 2009. I'm looking back on old Halloweens blogged in years past. The nicest one was the first year of blogging, 2004:

"Who you vote for is your secret. But whether or not you vote is public record... We will be reviewing voting records..."

". . . to determine whether you joined your neighbors who voted in 2014.... If you do not vote this year, we will be interested to hear why not."

Letter from the New York State Democratic Committee that The New York Post paraphrases for headline purposes: "Democrats: Vote or we’ll kick your ass."

That's in the style of the notorious Daily News headline from the 70s: "FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD."

"The most important single election next Tuesday is for governor of Wisconsin."

Writes James Taranto:
The incumbent, Scott Walker, was elected in the Republican wave of 2010 and embarked in 2011 on a serious, substantive program of reform. He succeeded in his effort to eliminate “collective bargaining” for most government employees, a boon to the state fisc and a blow to politicians, mostly Democrats, who benefit from public-sector electioneering at taxpayer expense.
Taranto delves into the did-Trek-fire-Mary-Burke controversy that we've been discussing on this blog and wonders why Burke relied so heavily on the "biographical campaign" that makes her vulnerable to an attack like that.
Why isn’t Burke running a substantive campaign? As Collin Roth... observed in February: “Mary Burke has been largely incoherent on Act 10,” the collective-bargaining reform law. “Sometimes she opposes, sometimes she likes the healthcare and pension provisions, sometimes she wants to reinstate collective bargaining rights, and sometimes she simply didn’t like that the law was divisive.”

One possible answer is that she doesn’t think a full-throated campaign of opposition would win the election.... Yet even if Walker’s reforms are secure, a loss for him next Tuesday would be a huge victory for Big Labor—a show of union power that would discourage other governors from undertaking similar reforms by sending the message that success is politically fatal. 
I don't see how refraining from full-throated opposition means Walker's reforms are secure. We've often seen moderation in a campaign followed by something much more skewed after the election is won. I know back in 2011, many Wisconsinites felt Scott Walker did too much, too harshly when he got elected.

I'll resist ranting about how terribly Barack Obama disappointed those who, back in 2008, believed he was offering a transcendent new and beautiful politics that would bring us peace and good... brotherhood....

"There is Critical Race Theory scholarship connecting a preference for formality to race," I said in a post speculating about why Clarence Thomas might have said "I like formality."

I was expressing skepticism about the cue in the NYT (from Adam Liptak) to interpret Justice Thomas's statement to mean that "he was content with the way things are." (This was in reference to the way the Supreme Court Justices communicate by paper memo, and not by email or in face-to-face discussions.)

I said:
I could think of some other ways to interpret those 3 words and don't like being told to think of Justice Thomas as complacent and stiff. A person might like formality without being content with the way things are. A preference for formality can arise out of discomfort and mistrust. What kind of person shies away from free-wheeling banter and wants things put in writing?
I dropped a rare footnote: "There is Critical Race Theory scholarship connecting a preference for formality to race. Citation to come." That was 3 days ago, and at least one commenter has signaled he's still waiting. Did I think he'd forget?

I'd known all along what I wanted to cite, the Patricia J. Williams book from 20 years ago called "Alchemy of Race and Rights: Diary of a Law Professor." Unfortunately, that's not on Kindle, so needing to find my hard copy slowed me down.

In Chapter 8, "The Pain of Word Bondage," Williams describes the willingness of her colleague Peter Gabel to rent an apartment with no written agreement, to hand over a $900 cash deposit to strangers without even getting the keys. She, a black, female law professor, could not share his warm feeling for informality:
… I was raised to be acutely conscious of the likelihood that no matter what degree of professional I am, people will greet and dismiss my black femaleness as unreliable, untrustworthy, hostile, angry, powerless, irrational, and probably destitute. Futility and despair are very real parts of my response. So it helps me to clarify boundary; to show that I can speak the language of lease is my way of enhancing trust in me in my business affairs. As black, I have been given by this society a strong sense of myself as already too familiar, personal, subordinate to white people. I am still evolving from being treated as three-fifths of a human, a subpart of the white estate. I grew up in a neighborhood where landlords would not sign leases with their poor black tenants, and demanded that the rent be paid in cash; although superficially resembling Peter's transactions, such informality in most white-on-black situations signals distrust, not trust. Unlike Peter, I am still engaged in the struggle to set up transactions at arm's length, as legitimately commercial, and to portray myself as a bargainer of separate worth, distinct power, sufficient rights to manipulate commerce.

Peter, I speculate, would say that a lease or any other formal mechanism would introduce distrust into his relationships and he would suffer alienation, leading to the commodification of his being and the degradation of his person to property. For me, in contrast, the lack of formal relation to the other would leave me estranged. It would risk figurative isolation from that creative commerce by which I may be recognized as whole, by which I may feed and clothe and shelter myself, by which I may be seen as equal — even if I am a stranger. For me, stranger-stranger relations are better than stranger-chattel.
Now, take that observation and test out whether it could be similar to what Clarence Thomas was thinking when he said "I like formality."

"A witness says Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo exploded during a test flight over California’s Mojave Desert."

"Photographer Ken Brown says the space tourism craft was released from the plane that carries it to high altitude, ignited its rocket motor and then exploded."

I've always been against space tourism. I'm sorry to hear of the death and the injury, but this is not a good way for rich people to try to find fulfillment in life.

"Before President Obama, whose brown eyes are opaque when you look into them, presidents have been more known for blue eyes…."

"The ones with brown eyes, Richard Nixon and L.B.J., came a cropper."

And:
George Washington, blue-gray eyes; John Adams, blue; Thomas Jefferson, hazel; James Madison, brown; James Monroe, blue-gray; John Quincy Adams, black; Andrew Jackson, blue (Old Stonewall-blue eyes?); Martin Van Buren, blue; William Henry Harrison, brown. John Tyler, blue; James Polk, gray; Zachary Taylor, hazel (it figures); Millard Fillmore, blue; Franklin Pierce, gray; James Buchanan, blue; Abraham Lincoln, gray (huh?); Andrew Johnson, black; Ulysses S. Grant, blue. Rutherford B. Hayes, blue; James Garfield, blue; Chester A. Arthur, black (of course); Grover Cleveland, blue (but only once); Benjamin Harrison, blue; William McKinley, blue-gray; Theodore Roosevelt, blue (come on); William Howard Taft, blue; Woodrow Wilson, blue-gray; Warren G. Harding, gray. Calvin Coolidge, blue; Herbert Hoover, hazel (stop laughing); Franklin D. Roosevelt, blue; Harry Truman, blue; Dwight D. Eisenhower, blue (I know, I didn`t believe it, either); John F. Kennedy, blue; Lyndon B. Johnson, brown; Richard Nixon, brown; Gerald Ford, blue; Jimmy Carter, hazel (don't say it); Ronald Reagan, blue.
ADDED: I didn't really mean for this to be a separate post, but I accidentally published what was the draft of a comment to go in the "Eye Implants" thread, where I said something hyperbolic about blue eyes and got called on it. I don't delete posts. Ever. Not in 10+ years.

Now, Meade is telling me that we're just playing and we didn't even have a snow bet this year, that I'm remembering a bet we made last year...

... as we argue about what the standard for "snow" really was, and he hews to the theory that it was about whether the sidewalks needed at least a sweeping if not a shoveling, and I say it had to do with noticeable sticking on the ground, at least a dusting. Dusting, sweeping... all that is broomed away by the realization that perhaps we did not even have a snow bet this year.

But one thing is certain. We have a bet on the Wisconsin gubernatorial race, and that's a bet we put in writing the day we made it. Want to see the writing?

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"I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me."

"Being gay has given me a deeper understanding of what it means to be in the minority and provided a window into the challenges that people in other minority groups deal with every day. It’s made me more empathetic, which has led to a richer life. It’s been tough and uncomfortable at times, but it has given me the confidence to be myself, to follow my own path, and to rise above adversity and bigotry. It’s also given me the skin of a rhinoceros, which comes in handy when you’re the CEO of Apple."

Writes Tim Cook.

Eye color implants.

"I looked in the mirror and I was, like, they’re amazing."

ADDED: "The Bluest Eye is a 1970 novel by American author Toni Morrison.... The title The Bluest Eye refers to Pecola's fervent wishes for beautiful blue eyes. She is rarely developed during the story, which is purposely done to underscore the actions of the other characters. Her insanity at the end of the novel is her only way to escape the world where she cannot be beautiful and to get the blue eyes she desires from the beginning of the novel."

How to think about the question "Was Mary Burke fired from Trek?"

Christian Schneider offers 4 pointers:
1.  The debate seems to be largely one of semantics...
If your father and brother decided they wanted to remove you from your position in the family company, they wouldn't label you "fired." They'd probably do what they could to shield you.
2.  When asked for sales number from Burke’s European days by the Associated Press, John Burke said that he “did not have detailed financial records from that far back, but there was one year where the company had a loss.” The idea that a multimillion dollar corporation that operates around the world doesn’t keep financial records from 20 years ago is preposterous.  If there are no records, then where does Mary Burke get the numbers that she raised sales from $3 million to $50 million? Further, how is it that Trek has enough institutional memory to trash its ex-employees who are named in the initial story, but can’t seem to remember why Mary Burke left the company?...
These are Schneider's substantive points. Point 3 is just tweaking liberals for treating this one secretive big corporation differently from others. Point 4 refers to the assertion made (by whom?) that Burke "moved Trek’s European offices from Frankfurt, Germany to Amsterdam because she 'didn’t care for the German people' and because Amsterdam 'better reflected her lifestyle.'" I don't see what that has to do with whether Burke was fired, and Schneider seems to be repeating what he admits is "entirely hearsay" because it might offend the many people of German extraction who live in Milwaukee, "the most German city in America."

Anyway, that hearsay, even if true, is paraphrase. A preference for Amsterdam as a base for an American bike company might be quite sound, and who knows what casual things one might say explaining that decision to confidantes?

ADDED: Another former Trek employee comes forward, this time in defense of Mary Burke: "As Mary does everything, she put her heart and soul into the task," Denise DeMarb wrote. "Did she make mistakes, probably. Was she under pressure, certainly. Did she perform a huge feat — yes she did." DeMarb is president pro tem of the Madison city council.

A thuddingly simplistic interpretation of the risks advertising on "The Daily Show."

Jaime Fuller at WaPo points out the "Daily Show" bit where Jon Stewart acknowledges that Koch Industries is one of the show's sponsors and runs a parody of their ad in which the voiceover listing good things the company does is replaced by a list of bad things, like "rearranging polar bears" and "lubricating birds."

Fuller articulates the "lesson": "Make sure that the content surrounding your ad buy doesn't disagree with you and have the ability to try and neutralize the effectiveness of your ad. Because they probably will."

That's a thuddingly simplistic interpretation. It could be a perfectly good choice for Koch Industries to put its ad on "The Daily Show" even knowing that it would trigger the parody.

"The Daily Show" continually slams the Koch brothers, whether they advertise on the show or not. At least the ad provides some counterweight, some nudge toward skepticism about the world view presented on the show. And the parody is so heavy-handed that some listeners might begin to think: Is it really that bad? Or even: What are liberals so afraid of here?

Some independent thoughts might arise. Like: Dark money? Don't Democrats have their own "dark money"? And: There's something creepy about fixing upon and demonizing 2 particular American citizens.

"I don’t care who you are, if you’re African-American in this country, you know what the deal is … the deal that you’re black."

Said Spike Lee, who was asked what he tells his own children about race. It was: "People who get in trouble are the people who forget they’re black."

"If the court puts Texas back under federal preclearance, it will be a victory for Eric Holder and the Department of Justice..."

"... which is using lawsuits in Texas and North Carolina as test cases to try to restore preclearance to those states that seem to be engaging in the most discrimination. The DOJ got lucky to draw as the trial judge in the Texas voter ID case Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos, an Obama appointee who drafted a well-reasoned and comprehensive opinion slamming the state of Texas for discriminatory and unconstitutional conduct."

Writes lawprof Richard Hasen at Talking Points Memo.

To you, this may be Halloween.

To me, it was the last day I could win my snow bet with Meade...

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... and I won.

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October 30, 2014