Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Tricky Part About Lying

Poor Mittens.  He has taken so many different positions on the positions that he can't keep them straight.

This is why habitual lying is so tricky.  With the truth, you only need to remember one thing: that which happened or that which you believe.  When you've changed your positions so many times, you can't keep all the various iterations of your "beliefs" straight.

Expect more of these.  It's one reason why the Romney campaign works so hard to keep him away from the press.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Foxwoods, The Wonder Of It All

House wins in the end.

Yesterday, after dropping Thing One and Thing Two off at a UPS facility to be mailed to God knows where,  I dropped by Foxwoods on the way home.

Foxwoods may or may not be the largest casino in the world or the east coast or Connecticut.  I'm not sure. But it's a pretty big deal, I guess.

It's also incredibly sad.

Two years ago, the famdamily took a trip out West and spent the night in Deadwood, because I loved the HBO series.  Gambling is legal there, so the ground floor of our hotel was a "casino", but most of the slots were 1 or 2 cents.  The stakes were awfully small.  And yet, battalions of aging white people hooked up to their oxygen tanks and motoring around on scooters were plopping down their pennies and hitting that button.

Over and over and over again.

Foxwoods wasn't THAT sad.  But it lacked the feverish energy and general adrenal rush of Vegas.  Foxwoods was more a Reno-type sadness.  Vegas is an "experience".  It looms out of the desert and it overwhelms you.  The Strip really has to be seen to be believed.  I don't especially like Vegas, but I can appreciate the showmanship that went in to creating it.

Foxwoods - and Reno and Deadwood and Atlantic City - can't capture that giddy expectation of sin and excess.  They can offer all the same games, but Vegas is Vegas.

Instead, these wanna-be casinos expose the real purpose behind the all-you-can-eat buffets and the bright lights and the big name performers: bilking people out of their money.  It's just so much more naked and exposed for some reason outside of Vegas.

Anyway, within a calender month I have been to Churchill Downs and Foxwoods.  I am glad I did so, but I am equally glad I never will visit those places again.

Actually, I might wind up back at Foxwoods.  They really do get impressive acts there.

Obama Derangement Syndrome

Remember yesterday how I said that the GOP would find a way to blame Obama no matter how the Court ruled?

Well, they found something to blame Obama for that is almost literally unbelievable if it wasn't part of a pattern:

Thursday, June 28, 2012


Yeah, this is better.

I was listening on satellite radio when the decision came down.  They, too, like CNN and Fox got it wrong at first.  Since Roberts insisted on an 18th century reading of the commerce clause, it must have seemed like the mandate was thrown out.

Immediately afterwards, they went pure horserace.  "Who will be helped by this?"  Naturally, it was the Republicans.  For those of you with the gift of short memory spans, during the 2008 campaign, Mark Halperin said that John McCain not remembering how many houses he had was "good news for John McCain".  Similar treatment was bestowed upon Caribou Barbie, the Quitta from Wasilla.

Basically, the guy said this gives Romney a clear angle to attack Obama.

Because, um, the GOP had been lacking angles to attack him previously?  Many Republicans think he both is an acolyte of Jeremiah Wright and a Muslim SIMULTANEOUSLY.  Most think he MIGHT BE FROM KENYA.  They want government out of their Medicare.  If Roberts had not ruled for the taxing power, they would be attacking Obama for passing an unconstitutional law.  Shorter version, the GOP will attack Obama for letting the sun come up in the east, showing his strong east coast liberal elite bias.

Personally, I think the President's speech was quite good and succinct.  I hope he keeps making that case.  With the Court signing off on the law, ACA could indeed become a campaign issue, which might require the President to explain that all those good things that even majorities of Republicans approve of would be ended if Romney gets elected.

Nobody likes the mandate (I mean, it's a Republican idea after all), but the rest of the bill is popular.  If Obama has to defend it, I think he can do a good job.  Not to mention that Romney is perhaps the single worst Republican politician to attack this bill.  It's HIS FREAKING BILL.

As far as the Court goes, I'm not terribly surprised Roberts decided to uphold.  This would have been an overreach not seen since Dred Scott.  The legitimacy of the Court would have been severely tarnished, especially coming on the heels of Bush v Gore and Citizens United.  He doesn't want that.

Plus, and I think this is important, ACA does not gore the corporate ox.  Corporations are likely OK with ACA.  They aren't OK with Obama, but this bill is not a problem for them.  Loss of legitimacy of a Court that is handing them victory after victory would be.  Not to mention, throwing out the mandate but leaving the rest of the bill in place would screw the insurance company.

Roberts merely showed that his natural sympathies are more in line with corporate America than the Republican base.

What's scary as hell is that Kennedy joined the minority.

Part of me thinks that Roberts didn't want a 6-3 decision holding for ACA.  That seems like a slam dunk since Scalito and Thomas are absolutely fucking insane at this point.  A 6-3 decision is about as good as a 9-0 decision given the makeup of the Court.

So maybe he nudged Kennedy into the minority.  We can only hope, because if Kennedy has joined Scalito and Thomas, we are royally screwed.

Told Ya So

On the road doing this from my phone. Got the count wrong, but Roberts' motive correct. My vast Internet credibility is intact.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Fast And Furious Explained

It's pretty much one asshole ATF agent, bureaucratic inertia and the ridiculously lax gun laws of the US in general and Arizona in particular (of course it's Arizona!). Oh, and right wing bloggers, too.

Fortune magazine went and did some quality journalism:

I Put My Vast Internet Credibility On The Line

I think ACA is going to be upheld 6-3, with Roberts writing a John Marshall-like majority opinion that upholds the law but also manages to denigrate its authors.  In fact there might be some restrictions put on the law short of overturning the mandate entirely.

My reasoning?  I like what Booman wrote here.  I find his analysis pretty sharp most of the time.

Find out tomorrow, I guess.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


College Football has finally approved a four team playoff that should give more legitimacy to the national championships.  Boise State may even get a shot.

I blame Obama.

This Clarifies Things

Yeah, Gore would have beaten Bush if the Supreme Court hadn't stopped the recount.  I had always heard the muddled, confused version: "It depends on HOW you counted the votes."  But it turns out Gore would have won even if we had used any of the seven standards,

How's THAT for a counter-factual.  Would O'Connor have held on until 2005 to retire?  Or would Gore have been able to nominate a non-ideologue to the Court?  Would Gore have acted on the "flashing red lights" in August 2001?  The evidence is that the Clinton team had a plan in place for bin Laden, but that the Bush team scrapped it, as they concentrated on China and Iraq as potential threats.

Imagine a world without the current Roberts Court.  Without 9/11 (maybe).  Without the Iraq war (certainly).  With the national debt much, much lower than it it now.

Keep that in mind as we await the inevitable 5-4 decision that will decide whether hundreds of thousands of Americans will die prematurely for lack of health insurance in order to placate that fevered partisan ideology of Scalito and Co.

WTF Is Wrong With These People

The willful mendacity of the GOP is getting alarming.  It's not just that politicians lie - or more usually bend the truth.  Sure, you cite the study that agrees with you while ignoring the four that don't.  I get that.  Standard rhetoric.

 But the modern GOP, led by Prevaricator in Chief Mitt Romney, have basically divorced themselves from objective reality.

Let's build on Scalia's hyperbolic rant discussed yesterday.  John Kyl recently blamed Obama for not supporting an immigration reform bill as Senator.  Except, of course, Obama DID support that bill.

Kyl filibustered it.

Yet, he thinks nothing of saying the EXACT OPPOSITE of objective truth and basically pays no price for it.  (I know he's retiring, but he's still in the Senate GOP leadership.)

Next, we have the Fast and Furious nonsense.  Darrell Issa, Lord Chief Inquisitor of the Nut House, has subscribed to the idea that Fast and Furious - initiated by the Bush Administration - is in fact an Obama plot to take away guns from Americans by giving them to Messicans.

Just go read the litany of crap you have to believe in order to buy into that theory.

I realize a lot of this is just political gamesmanship.


That's a term British sports announcers use for cheating.  I remember watching a South African rugby player head-butting another and the color guy calling it "gamesmanship".  The only control for gamesmanship is the referee.  And unfortunately for the U.S. system of government, the referee is the political press.

While sites like "PolitiFact" were a nice start, they have inevitably degenerated into the usual "both sides do it" trope that allows them to claim they are "objective".  For instance, the Democratic claim that the Ryan plan will "end Medicare as we know it" is ruled the lie of the year, even though the truth of that claim is really how you define "as we know it".  Even in their explanation, they note that the Ryan plan would end Medicare as a single-payer system.  Which is how Medicare is currently known to function.

Our only hope this year is that Mitt Romney is both an unabashed liar and personally unpopular with those who get to know him.  Maybe, just maybe, the press will point out that when Romney makes demonstrably false statements that those statements are demonstrably false.

But I'm not holding my breath.

UPDATE:  This is awesome.  I didn't think I could be anymore attracted to Soledad O'Brien...

Monday, June 25, 2012

Today In Your Judicial Coup D'Etat

Welcome to John C. Calhoun's world.

Fallows hit on something when he called what we are going through now a "coup d'etat".

Today the Court furthered the insanity of Citizens United by ruling against Montana's campaign finance laws, enacted precisely because the uncontrolled spending of mining companies in Montana corrupted that state.  In other words, in the 19th century - in a Citizens United world - we had a laboratory for unregulated campaign finance.  It was so bad, the state decided to regulate it.  It got less bad.  Enter the Roberts Court.  I'm guessing the bad old days are coming back.

Also, too, in Arizona, the Court held against most of the "papieren bitte" "papers please" immigration law.  They did leave in place the idea that someone arrested for, say, drunk and disorderly could have their immigration status checked.  But you can't randomly stop dusky hued people on the street and check their papers.  While the Court left open the possibility that even checking the status of those under arrest could be unconstitutional, the fact is the worst part of the law was struck down.

Reading Scalia's bat-shit insane dissent is a mind into the twisted legal mindset of the Judicial Activist Right.

But there has come to pass, and is with us today, the specter that Arizona and the States that support it predicted: A Federal Govern­ment that does not want to enforce the immigration laws as written, and leaves the States’ borders unprotected against immigrants whom those laws would exclude. So the issue is a stark one. Are the sovereign States at the mercy of the Federal Executive’s refusal to enforce the Nation’s immigration laws?
A good way of answering that question is to ask: Would the States conceivably have entered into the Union if the Constitution itself contained the Court’s holding? Today’s judgment surely fails that test. [...] If securing its territory in this fashion is not within the power of Arizona, we should cease referring to it as a sovereign State.

Let's leave aside the fact that the federal government has actually done a great job in decreasing illegal immigration recently.  That's a fact, so we can't have that, can we Precious.  In reading the rest, I can't help but think that Scalia has the historical literacy of a 7 year old.

First, he is advancing the Compact Theory of Union that was so dearly held by John C. Calhoun and Jefferson Davis.  I guess poor old Arizona has no other choice but to secede!

Secondly, how did Arizona become a state?  Well, first it was a territory.  Before that it was part of Mexico.  It could have become a state sooner than it did, but it had all these Catholic Mexicans living there already ("The NERVE!")  and the US waited until a sufficient number of melanin deprived Protestants moved into the territory before granting it statehood.  The same thing happened in New Mexico.  Sort of the same thing happened in Utah, but that was not about dark skinned Messicans, it was about polygamy.

And now, the mean old 5 judge majority has ruled that Arizona - which was stolen fair and square from Mexico - cannot discriminate against people of Mexican descent.

The sheer number of five judge decisions is frightening as hell.  For all the talk of Earl Warren's unprecedented "judicial activism", Brown was 9-0, Griswold was 7-2, Gideon was 9-0, Engel v Vitale was 6-1 and Baker v Carr was 6-2.  Now there were reasons for this, including the long dominance of the Democratic party over the White House.  But Warren was appointed by Dwight Eisenhower.

Thursday is apparently the day when ACA gets overturned, gutted, partly gutted or preserved.  It will be interesting to see what happens.

Will the five conservatives on the Court rule for the insurance companies and retain the mandate?  Or will the rule for the Tea Party and strike a perfectly legitimate law from the books for nakedly partisan reasons?

The sad thing is, we know three judges will simply rule against it out of pique.

Rule by fiat rather than rule of law.

That's where we're headed.  And if you think it doesn't matter who wins this election, you're an idiot.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

As We Await The Judicial Coup D'Etat

Read this:

And this:


I was stuck behind this guy for an hour.

I drove around JFK yesterday.  I had to go down and pick up some students for the Summer School and they were staggered going through customs.  So I had to make several loops around Terminal Three.

Whoever created the traffic structure of JFK is either an idiot or a sadist.

At some point, airports are going to have to accommodate the post-9/11 "you can't park near an airport" mentality. JFK has a cellphone lot, which is nice - Bradley doesn't - but once you get out of the cell phone lot, you're screwed.

I realize that NYC isn't really built for cars, but there must be someone who can point out that it's almost literally torture to drive there.  And eventually airlines and airports are going to have to change their layouts to cope with the new world of airline security.

It's why I drive whenever I can.

It's also why I hate bin Laden and am glad he was shot in the face.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

River People vs. Backpackers

Church lady wants to know if you are a river person or a back country person.

I've been meaning to write this for a few days now.  Here goes.

For most of my life, I've been a backpacker or a car camper.  I don't do it much anymore because a spinal surgery (and advancing years) has left me with a problem sleeping outdoors on the hard ground with only a stuff sack for neck support.

But I identify with backpacking still.  Which made my experience with river rafters enlightening.

I've decided that river rafters are like pre-Lutheran Catholics and backpackers are Calvinists.

River rafters tend to travel heavy with a great deal of creature comfort.  If you are willing to pay the indulgence in sweat and calloused hands, you can experience the sinful delights of constant beers on the water and gin and tonics in the campsite.  Your good works among the group is your salvation come camp time.  Also, most of the important rituals are conducted in a language that the laity cannot understand.  River rafting is ritual heavy and opaque to the masses.

Backpackers tend to be austere and plain.  Faith in your abilities and your faith in your abilities alone is what will preserve you.  You labor and sweat through the day with a reward of Ramen noodles and maybe some powdered Kool Aid as your only reward.  There are no cots, no air beds.  That is a sinful luxury.  Needless to say there is no beer.  You are but a lonely pilgrim with your sustenance on your back and your back alone.  If it rains, you will be soaked; if it is hot, you will be panting and coated in sweat.  This has all been predestined.

I feel like there was more, but it's been a few days...

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Crap Like This Makes Me Cry

In a good way.

I mean I already saw War Horse today, so I'm about all cried out, you manipulative bastards!

Romney Talks Immigration

Apparently there will be no more self-deportations.  He still didn't say whether he would rescind Obama's executive order, only that he will replace it with something vaguely "different and better" without really describing what that might be.

He then basically says that he will do all the things Obama has done (strengthen border security, avoid splitting up families of illegal immigrants if possible) only that he will do it "better" and in a "bipartisan fashion".  He might actually be able to pull off the latter, because the GOP wouldn't vote for Christmas if Obama proposed it, whereas you know Joe Manchin is just itching to show his independence by pissing on the party that made him a Senator.

That goes to something Gary Wills wrote the other day about third party narcissism.  He basically pointed out that you vote the party, not the man.  The man (or woman) will disappoint you because they are fallible, whereas the party represents a set of agendas and plans that are much more indicative of what will happen once in power.

I think there's real truth in that.  Yes, America is more partisan than ever before, but that might be because the parties are more ideologically different than ever before, with much of that coming from an ideologically extreme GOP.

But don't tell the Beltway Mavens about it, or it's fainting couch time.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

In A Sane World, This Would NOT Be A Bigger Story

So this is why Issa is following up this Fast and Furious nonsense.  It's a Second Amendment conspiracy theory.

In A Sane World, This Would Be A Bigger Story

I Am Now On Twitter

I don't know why exactly...!/GregHawes

On The River

Being out on the river is both labor intensive and provides opportunities to loaf.  On the river, if the current and wind is right, you don't have to paddle much.  You take an insane amount of gear which can provide all sorts of creature comforts, but you also have to pack and unpack it.

This tends to reveal character (more on that tomorrow), and I was struck by what it revealed.  First, I think Most Glorious and Babelicious Wife tended to feel like she was invisible.  She's camped some, but not a lot, and so when tasks needed to be done, she felt it was tough to join in.  This created a weird void for her.  She's usually so competent, so on the ball and so involved in everything that I think she was non-plussed at times.

But mostly I was impressed with the Things.

Thing One has his issues, OK?  Impulse control being probably the foremost among those issues.  But he was just great.  There was another boy on the trip, physically as mature, though a year younger.  Thing One just outshone him.  They had a great time together (unfortunately leaving Thing Two out of their fun at times) but Thing One just was a better "river person".  He cleaned up after himself, he took care of the gear better, he responded to instructions better and mostly he worked harder.  If we can just get him to see school as a river, there's no end to what he can accomplish.

Thing Two does not have nearly those issues.  But he does have a tendency to whine a bit.  His cousin, who was only five, tended to beat on him like a drum.  He tolerated her fists of love with remarkable aplomb.  And tolerating things is important on the river, where you have to create some harmony.

I'll write more on this tomorrow, when I compare River Rafting to Catholicism and  Backpacking to Calvinism.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Ending Radio Silence

After a week out in Colorado, rafting down that river, I am back.  Happily, I missed out on a full week of the silliness and stupidity of our political discourse.

Yay for that.

Regular posting resumes tomorrow.  If you're a regular reader you may have noticed that I've commented less on politics recently.  That may continue until there is something worthwhile to comment on.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

No, It's Not Weird

Apparently the leading pop culture product studied or written about in journals is Buffy the Vampire Slayer, beating out The Simpsons, the Alien movies, the Matrix movies and The Wire.  The jagoffs at Slate think this is weird.  I don't see why.

There have been, what, four or five Alien movies?  Do we count Alien vs Predator?  After the second one, they kind of sucked, or at least they were no longer original.  The first one was very original and creepy and the second was early Cameron at his best: really smart sci-fi.  After that?  Meh.

The Matrix became laughable the minute it took itself seriously.  It's not fodder for academic studies, it's a cautionary tale.

Sadly, I haven't seen The Wire.  That I am a plugged in TV junkie and haven't seen it, says something, I think.  Similarly, I've seen about two hours total of Mad Men.  I get it, it's good.  It's just not my thing.  I'm not going to spend money right now on watching The Wire.  Someday, yes.  But not now.  I can't be alone on this.  How "pop" is pop culture if I haven't seen it.

I'm only shocked that Buffy beat Homer so badly.  I was a huge fan of both Buffy and Angel.  I am a huge fan of Firefly.  The best part of The Avengers were the clearly Whedon-esque touches.  He's a for reals auteur, and I don't throw that term around lightly.  His work says so much more than is on the surface.  It's both readily available and subtle, so it makes for great fodder for scholarly study.  Having said that, The Simpsons is a brilliant satire of modern life.  I'm a bit disappointed in you, TV scholars.

But the disdain that the Slate guys have for Buffy kicking (even more) ass just goes to show that they don't get it.  Although I'm sure they've watched every episode of Mad Men.

Monday, June 11, 2012

New Computer

After my HP Crashtron 2000, I have now been given a Lenovo ThinkPad.

Early returns are that it appears the IT department is attempting to get us all to switch to Macs.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Food Post

My Most Dear And Radiant Wife had a tough time while I was away.  The Things are.... a handful.  Seriously, I don't think you're allowed to start MMA that young.  As she had just finished her trial by Dean's letters, she asked for a nice home cooked meal tonight.

She asked about 4pm.  Had to act.  Apparently tacos was not an option.

I took the basic amatriciana sauce recipe from the new basics cookbook as my starting point.  Typically, I measured little.

About 4ozs of pancetta, fried in olive oil.  I then added half a shallot and about 2/3rds of a white onion, plus a glove of minced garlic.  Next up was about a quart of Campari tomatoes, pureed in the Cuisinart.  A splash of red wine, about a teaspoon of sugar and some salt (unnecessary as it turns out with the pancetta).  Then some chopped basil (about 7 large leaves) from the garden.  Simmer a little to cook off the liquid.

I had about a pound of sea scallops marinating in olive oil, a dash of sherry vinegar, something called Fox Point spice mix from Pensies Spices, the other half of the shallot and some extra ginger.  They marinated about an hour.  Then I seared them over the grill in a grill pan.  Served them over the vermicelli with the homemade sauce.

Perfect on a beautiful June day.

I have hearby resolved, whilst my Lovely and Beatific Wife labors in the salt mines of our teacher's training center, to cook her one fancy meal a week.  At least.  Otherwise, we're eating in the dining hall, because we aren't made of money are we?

The Recent Jobs Report

I have been trying to figure out the recent jobs report and the weakness therein.  I can't say I've read enough analysis, and since I was immersed in the reading, I was unable to get the snap reactions from economic bloggers I trust.  I am now too lazy to search their archives, because it's June, damnit.

Gas prices are falling slowly, so that can't be it, although maybe there was a lagging tendency for demand.

Pent up demand should be high.  That's the basic theory that demand depresses and then explodes with creates the same cycle that caused the recession but in reverse.

The only macro thing that's gotten worse is Europe, but it isn't like some drastic calamity has befallen Europe, it's just muddling along ineffectively with a dysfunctional political system like we have.

The parallels are actually somewhat striking.

At the state level, the US is practicing austerity.  This is also happening at the "state level" in Europe.  Greece, Spain, Italy and so on are being squeezed by austerity, just like the state budgets in America.  At least in this country the federal government provides some funds to states (albeit not enough currently).  The biggest difference is that our central bank is pursuing inflationary monetary policies, and God only knows what the ECB is doing.

So when will it end?  All recessions end, but when will this one end?

I can't quite figure it out.

And I guess no one else can either.


Um, yeah, if we believe in markets, we should be borrowing now to finance an employment boom that would create a self-sustaining recovery so that we could pay off the debt later.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

End Of A Soccer Season

We won!  We managed to beat a team 3-1 that had previously beaten us 4-1.

For whatever reason, winning a U10 soccer game felt better than most victories I've coached, including national championship matches at Blair.

Way to go Demons.

Friday, June 8, 2012


Nice to be back.  The Hound of the Basketcase was probably most delighted to see me.

I have a searing pain in my right shoulder from both the reading and the drive home.  I have and will have intermittent heartburn for weeks if I sit for more than 30 minutes.  My fat makes my stomach look fat.

Four or so days and then it's off to Colorado for river rafting.  One thing I learned from the reading was to love the disconnect from the daily hurlyburly of politics.  History often provides perspective, I just didn't know reading (bad) history exams could do the same.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The End Is Nigh

Four and a half more hours.  Probably 50-60 exams to read.

This year's reading was really poorly run.  The food is always atrocious, but this year we had boxes missing, not enough readers... really bad.

Naturally it happens on the year I drove, expecting to be done at 3:00pm...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Missing My Family

I went out tonight with some friends from a few years ago.  We had a great table and decided to meet up again and bend a few elbows.

We are all roughly the same age.  We told roughly the same stories.

All of us kind of wished we were home.

The reading is a day too long.

Or maybe not.  Maybe it's a day too long so that you can so look forward to being back at home.

I know I can hardly wait.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Snow White And The Huntsman

So, I just got to see a real movie in a a real theater.

I saw Snow White and the Huntsman, and maybe it's just because I don't watch as many movies in the theater as I used to, but that movie was bad ass.

First, you can't watch the movie without being in awe of the visual palette.  That is, I think, a more beautiful movie than Avatar.  I can't recall being as blown away visually in a movie since the last Lord of the Rings movie.

The casting has come in for some criticism, notably Kirsten Stewart as Snow White.  Frankly, I think she was great, until the very end.  She just didn't quite pull off the Joan of Arc thing.  But when she was simple Snow White, fair and good, she was really pretty compelling.  Charlize Theron continues to amaze.  To be THAT good, you have to be wicked smart as an actor.  Outside of Meryl Streep, she might be as good as any actress working.  Whatshisface, Thor, was good, too, until he had to give a speech with some feeling - again at the end.

The dwarfs were amazing, with some of the finest British character actors out there.

But the Dark Forest and the Fairy Realm were, to me, the highlights of the film.  Really magical.  I'm not sure if Thing One is old enough to see it, but I might welcome the opportunity to see it again to see if I was simply too blown away by the visuals.

Aside from the scenery, what I loved about it, was what I loved about the Harry Potter books: the simple power of decency and goodness to overcome evil.

That doesn't get old.

Oh, and Les Miserables is going to be a movie this Christmas.  Looks amazing.

Good Luck Tom Barrett

I think you are going to need it.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Gordon Wood

I saw Gordon Wood speak last night, and I asked him a question about Niebuhr's criticism of classical liberal philosophers - namely that they are too naive when it comes to the power of self-interest.

Wood said that Madison thought he had that covered when he wrote Federalist 10 and 51.  Madison thought states were too self-interested, but a larger republic could be more disinterested.  When Hamilton showed him how active and involved a national government could be, Madison tilted back towards the states.

That explains how the collaborators on the Federalist papers could wind up so far apart politically just a few years later.

I thought it was interesting.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Churchill Downs

I went to the track last night, for my first and perhaps last time.

It is a scene.  First of all, there is no age limit to get in, so there were all these teenagers walking around acting like they were adults. In particular, there were the overly made up Southern girls and the indescribably loud Southern frat boy types.

The power and speed of the horses makes its presence known only in the last few seconds of the race.  Then it's over.  I guess at least NASCAR treats you to that experience hundreds of times in a race.

The pageantry, the silly clothing, the guy who based his look on Larry the Cable Guy, the inevitable lost bets... It was fun.  But it was not the sort of fun that left me eager to come back for more.  You'd have to be pretty good at betting and understanding the horses to make it engaging.  Otherwise, it just felt like putting dollar bills in a shredder.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Nothing To Say

Basically, during the AP exam, you read the same essential essay 9 times out of 10.  Every tenth essay or so, once comes along that is really good or really bad.  But most of the essays I'm reading are fundamentally similar.  But I have to tease out whether there is enough information and analysis to justify a 4 or a 5 on the essay.

After a full day of that, I have little desire to wade into the question of whether or not Zimmerman should have been remanded into custody or the state of the Walker Recall or the crappy jobs report.

Sorry. I'll give a damn next week.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Back In The South

Beside the pasty, slightly overweight AP graders... OK, that's me, I admit it... there are two groups of people at the Galt House.

First are the Southern Belle Wannabes.  They are usually a wee bit on the plump side with gobs of makeup and hair so brittle you fear a stiff wind would render them bald.

Then, we are apparently sharing the hotel with AME Zion convention.  So every time we get on the elevators there are all these African American church ladies in their Sunday fine.

If the elevator plummets to the ground, killing us all, I hope I'm with the bachelorette party, because I don't think I could stand the competition at St. Peter's gate with the church ladies.