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Ann Althouse does journalism

[ 82 ] November 7, 2014 |

This was just brought to my attention. Not sure if serious, as the kids say on the Facebook:

[I]t’s a common journalistic practice to begin with an attention-getting anecdote that’s supposed to set up the sober, evidence-based analysis to follow, even though it’s often not all that connected. But this anecdote is just so weird, and it’s lacking in the details I would need to make sense of it even aside from whether it has much to do with the “law-school scam” topic.

Last April, David Frakt, a candidate for the deanship at the Florida Coastal School of Law was giving his job talk, we’re told, discussing “what he saw as the major problems facing the school: sharply declining enrollment, drastically reduced admissions standards, and low morale among employees.”

But midway through Frakt’s statistics-filled PowerPoint presentation, he was interrupted when Dennis Stone, the school’s president, entered the room. (Stone had been alerted to Frakt’s comments by e-mails and texts from faculty members in the room.) Stone told Frakt to stop “insulting” the faculty, and asked him to leave. Startled, Frakt requested that anyone in the room who felt insulted raise his or her hand. When no one did, he attempted to resume his presentation. But Stone told him that if he didn’t leave the premises immediately, security would be called. Frakt packed up his belongings and left.

First, we’re seeing the way social media can work within an institution. A speaker may be in a room, experiencing dominance and control over the group by standing and lecturing while they silently and seemingly politely listen, and yet a whole revolution could be going on in text. Objections to phrasings can be texted and twittered about. No one includes the speaker, who rambles along according to his plan. The audience — instead of interacting in the normal manner of human intercourse through the ages — summons an authority from outside the room, and this clownish character rescues the passive-aggressive audience from their oppression.

(If the lawprofs are modeling this insidious new form of classroom participation, they will get their comeuppance when students use it on them. The professor attempts to conduct a discussion, perhaps of some touchy issue like affirmative action or abortion, and the students look disengaged, but they are really having an intense discussion, hurling accusations around. The professor is a racist. The professor is a sexist. Next thing you know, the dean has been summoned, breaks into the classroom, and conducts and on-the-spot trial. Whoa! Get ready, lawprofs.)

Second, what did the faculty find so insulting that they demanded an intervention from an outsider? What would have been enough to propel Stone into the room to interrupt a candidate — mid-presentation — and kick him out? To threaten to call security?! It doesn’t make sense to portray this — as Campos does — as distress over the same old “law-school scam,” which is about the ratio of jobs to students and the high tuition, and so forth. Even if Frakt presented the statistics vividly and the economic situation at the Florida Coastal School of Law is dismal and disturbing, it would not justify the weird drama. The normal response would be to push the candidate with questions or to look at him blankly and, after the time for the talk was over or close enough to over, drift out of the room having decided to vote against him. It must be something more, and I’m irked at Campos for sticking this anecdote at the top as if it will make readers see the dreadful emergency that is the “law-school scam.”

Can somebody email me about what really happened that day? Without more, I would hypothesize that Frakt said some things about race and/or gender that got texted into what felt like a realization that racial/sexual harassment is going on right now. I would guess that Stone got a message that the school itself was condoning some kind of harassment and that he had an immediate duty to end it. Am I right?

Ironically, of the eleven letters in “Ann Althouse,” not a one of them is an “F”

[ 111 ] July 25, 2013 |

Not even a week after Nate Silver’s departure from The New York Times prompted a generation of pundits to sigh mightily, turn to camera three, and continue talking about the prospect of Palin running in 2016, Ann Althouse defended her corporate masters with this little bit of innumerate lunacy:

I’m blogging this because it’s not an atypical incident and because too many people in America have unrealistic, idealized notions of the goodness of trains and their capacity to whisk everyone around everywhere at high speed.

So how about we take the country synonymous with “high speed” rails and look at it data. The most recent available, from 2011, indicates that 4,612 Japanese people were killed in motor vehicles accidents. How many were killed by trains of any kind [.pdf]?

Now I know what you’re thinking: one is still a lot of people to die on trains of any kind. Althouse is right to be suspicious of them. But care to guess how that one “Others” person died? According to page 79 of the aforelinked report, “a crossing rod that had been stuck in the lowered position was raised by an employee of the railway company, leading to a train colliding with a vehicle that had entered into the crossing.” So the only person killed by a train of any kind in the Land of the High Speed rail was in a car.

Take heed Americans!

Be very afraid!

Put aside the fact that, in 2011, 32,367 people died in car accidents, whereas as 759 were killed in non-high speed rail train accidents. I know 759 isn’t zero, but unless my maths deceive me, it’s quite a bit less than 32,367. But what am I saying?

Don’t be an unrealistic idealist!

Far better to live in a country where more people die on more dangerous tracks than risk being one of the non-existent victims of Japanese high-speed rail disasters!

I occasionally wonder how much They pay Althouse to play a craven jackass online, then I realize They probably just ply her with flowers and an Internet Husband and decide I’d rather not taste this morning’s breakfast again.

Shorter Ann Althouse: Racists can’t be racist because they love their racism.

[ 118 ] September 25, 2012 |

So some of Scott Brown’s staffers were caught tomahawk-chopping while war-whooping, which is absolutely not a traditional means of representing Native Americans as tomahawk-chopping, war-whooping, nothing-noble-about-them savages. There’s no history of American cinema in which Native Americans were a violent bulwark against the tide of civilizing white men eager to manifest their destiny. There’s no history of American literature in which Native Americans played the roles of “Captor #1″ and “Captor #2″ and let’s just call them “Tribe of Captors” in popular captivity narratives that identified war-whooping with lady-taking and child-killing. None of that is real because Ann Althouse said so:

Someone doing the “tomahawk chop” is himself playing the role of Indian. This Indian character making a stereotypical gesture can’t be read as expressing hostility toward Indians. The Indian is his hero.

See? “The Indian is his hero.” Whose hero exactly? According to Althouse anyone doing the tomahawk chop. Which means that she believes that performing a racially offensive can’t be considered racist because the performance itself is necessarily an act of loving emulation. For example, if one of Scott Brown’s white staffers were to create a television show called

It couldn’t be considered racist by definition because its use of the stereotypical Chinese immigrant is evidence of that this white staffer considers Chin-Kee to be “his hero.” In all seriousness, Althouse’s problem is that she’s so ignorant that she doesn’t realize that the stereotype of Native Americans that Brown’s staffers invoke isn’t historically accurate, which is why she can claim, straight-faced, that “these fake Indians, the staffers, are pretending to be real Indians,” when in actuality they’re pretending to be racist stereotypes of Native Americans.

One day I will wake up in a world in which “Ann Althouse” is revealed to be the work of an art collective trying to win a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for the Longest Sustained  Installation of  a Person Who Couldn’t Possibly Exist. I pray that day comes soon.

In the meantime go read my other post. It’ll cleanse this stupid clear off your palate.

UPDATE [SL]: This is even funnier when you remember Althouse’s hallucinations about the subliminally racist pajamas in a Clinton campaign ad.

UPDATE II [SEK]: Wow. I mean. Just wow. Wow. I mean. Just wow. Wow.

Kindergarten Libertariansim, With Prof. Althouse

[ 298 ] April 2, 2012 |

Adam Litpak had a good article noting that Verrilli’s oral argument appealed to Kennedy with the freedom-enhancing qualities of the Affordable Care Act. This motivated Ann Althouse, who didn’t seem to even understand the argument, to respond like a member of their junior high school’s Ayn Rand club participating as their team’s third-stringers at the forensics meet:

“Liberty” is a high abstraction. What is it about the liberty of compulsion to buy an expensive health insurance policy that Justice Kennedy is supposed to find appealing? Just because someone loves liberty doesn’t mean they’re going to love everything you slap a “liberty” label on!

Obviously, as a complacent reactionary who benefits from the security of taxpayer-funded health insurance Althouse can’t grasp why universal health care might be freedom-enhancing, but it’s not at all complicated:

  • First of all, Althouse seems to assume that everyone who is uninsured wouldn’t want affordable insurance if they could get it, as if many people don’t have health insurance because of pre-existing conditions or because it’s not affordable for ordinary workers under the status quo.
  • Once we move past this silly assumption, it’s not difficult to see the point the SG was making.   Universal health care has freedom-enhancing properties in a lot of ways: it allows you to move, or engage in entrepreneurial activities, without losing the employer-based coverage that is the only practical means of obtaining insurance for those who aren’t poor or extremely wealthy.  Mobility, particularly in American constitutionalism, has always been a treasured liberty.  Bankruptcy is, to put it mildly, detrimental to liberty in all kinds of ways.   Beyond that, whether you want to call the security that comes from health coverage freedom-enhancing is a matter of taste, but this security is certainly more valuable to most people that the “freedom” of knowing that you can be bankrupted by an accident or unforeseen illness.
  • The even bigger problem here is that the rugged individualists who go without health insurance are not making a “choice” to be free of state constraint and state-provided benefits.  They are, in fact, making a choice to stick the taxpayers with the bill if they have a medical emergency. Even a moderately sophisticated libertarian understands that the “freedom” to free ride is no freedom at all.   Perhaps Althouse, like the judicial idol she defended so feebly,  would prefer a libertarian dystopia in which people who aren’t lucky enough to have taxpayer-funded health insurance are just left to die from accidents or treatable illnesses.   But whatever they would like the policy baseline to be, what matters both for public policy and for the question of whether the mandate is a necessary and proper part of a concededly constitutional regulatory framework is what the policy baseline under federal, state, and common law actually is.  Kennedy actually showed some signs of understanding this, one of the few bright spots to come from the three days of depressingly inept work by he and his Republican colleagues.

Althouse of the Day

[ 14 ] February 22, 2011 |

George Will is a serious intellectual, so just like other conservatives when he expresses a belief that protests and procedural gimmicks constitute an attempt to “repeal an election,” this must be based on deeply held principles, right? Well, let’s look at whether he believed that the most decisive presidential election year* since 1984 should be “repealed”:

“Great innovations,” said Jefferson, “should not be forced on slender majorities.”

[..]

Liberals say filibusters confuse and frustrate the public. The public does indeed mistakenly believe that government is designed to act quickly in compliance with presidential wishes. But most ideas incubated in the political cauldron of grasping factions are deplorable. Therefore, serving the public involves — mostly involves — saying “no.”

[...]

Liberals are deeply disappointed with the public, which fails to fathom the excellence of their agenda. But their real complaint is with the government’s structure.

Hmm, strange — if I didn’t know better, I’d think that his recent discovery that majorities are immediately entitled to get their way will be abandoned as soon as Madisonian institutions start working in his favor again. And did Will earn the Triple Crown of hackery by arguing that the filibuster was not merely bad but unconstitutional when Democrats used it? Three guesses and the first two don’t count!


*In 1988, the Democrats lost the presidency by a greater margin than McCain did, but broke even in the Senate and were +2 in the House.

Must . . . not . . . make . . . Althouse . . . joke

[ 53 ] February 11, 2011 |

Wisconsin’s new GOP governor is threatening to call in the National Guard to enforce his unilateral revocation of state employee contract rights.

Ann Althouse and the paranoid style

[ 155 ] February 3, 2011 |

One big problem in America today is that people like Glenn Beck are spouting a lot of bizarre conspiratorial paranoid nonsense in “respectable” high-profile media settings, because their employers have found that encouraging crazy people to regale millions of Americans with pernicious lunacy on a daily basis is quite profitable. I wish it wasn’t necessary to point out that this is an undesirable state of affairs. I also wish it wasn’t necessary to point out that pointing out this is an undesirable state of affairs is not an attack on “free speech” in any useful sense of that term.

Still, if wishes were horses, beggars would ride:

Remember when lefties were all about free speech? When did that change? Why did that change? Perhaps the answer is: Free speech was only ever a means to an end. When they got their free speech, made their arguments, and failed to win over the American people, and when in fact the speech from their opponents seemed too successful, they switched to the repression of speech, because the end was never freedom.

This is Professor Althouse’s response to Robert Wright’s suggestion that on the whole it’s a bad thing that Fox News provides Glenn Beck with a multi-million viewer nightly platform, given that he uses it to say lots of certifiably crazy stuff in the guise of “political analysis.”

Now of course phrasing the matter in this way only proves that I am a clueless member of The Left, who has failed to appreciate that, in the literal sense, Fox didn’t “give” Beck his enormous audience: Fox merely facilitated Beck’s extremely successful (from a financial point of view) campaign to transform himself into one of America’s most popular demagogues. Yes indeed: Beck’s career represents a remarkable triumph — both for himself and for Rupert Murdoch’s fabulously profitable brand of gutter journalism — within what the ingenuous Professor Althouse calls “the marketplace of ideas.” That this is the case might give one pause about the value of that metaphor, and the possible failures of that “market.”

In America today, paranoia runs deep — and it seems to be contagious. The quote above is a classic representation of the paranoid style. Consider the identities of Althouse’s crypto-Stalinist bogeymen of the moment: Robert Wright and Scott Lemieux! Again, is it really necessary to point out that someone who claims that, in America today, people like Wright and Lemieux are at the center of a Vast Left Wing Conspiracy to crush political dissent via the “censorship” of Glenn Beck has lost all sense of perspective?

The unadulterated Althouse

[ 32 ] December 26, 2010 |

My parents purchased a new computer, completely devoid of cookies, and I migrated their bookmarks.  My father, with whom I regularly and vehemently disagree, left Lady Ann’s page open about twenty minutes ago and the default advertisement is truly stupendous:

Read more…

“That’s Specious Reasoning, Prof. Althouse.” “Thanks!”

[ 20 ] December 1, 2010 |

Longer Ann Althouse: “Liberals sometimes find violence against women amusing. If you see ‘an irrelevant eighth-rate shock metal band most people have never heard of and its tiny audience’ as representative of ‘liberals.’”

To apply this very compelling logic further, Ted Bundy was a Republican. I mean, you connect the dots!

Ann Althouse defends Rush Limbaugh from accusations of race baiting

[ 0 ] March 6, 2010 |

As Hendrick Hertzberg points out, for people like Althouse the only significant form of racism left in America appears to be the racism of liberals who patronize black people (by electing them president apparently), while falsely accusing conservatives of racism, when they’re the real racists (Harry Reid! The 1964 Civil Rights Act, enacted over the objections of the Democrat Party etc etc).

Hertzberg also points out that he didn’t claim Limbaugh was a racist — only that he used “racist coding.” In any case, what sort of person listens to the audio clip to which Hertzberg links and feels impelled to defend Limbaugh?

And the Ann Althouse Award for Contentlessness in Blogging goes to…

[ 0 ] January 31, 2010 |

Ann Althouse!

It seems to me that the President is the victim of his own ideas about how to do things differently. If he had graciously accepted the inheritance left by George Bush, he wouldn’t have had either of these problems. He squandered an inheritance that he failed to value! Bush—despite his reputation for simplicity—did understand the complexity of the problem, and he had a solution. There was stability. After posturing about “change” in his political campaign, Barack Obama seemed to think that he could apply the immense power he had won to changing things in the real world.

Shorter?

The President suffers from the delusion that he wants to do things differently. If he had just wanted to continue doing what Bush had done, he wouldn’t have wanted to do things differently. Bush understood that stuff is hard, and he solved different hard stuff the same way every time. Obama said he wanted to solve different hard stuff differently during the election, and once he won it, he suckered himself into believing that he could wield the power he won to solve hard stuff his own way.

Second-order shorter:

It seems to me that Ann Althouse often writes about ideas she does not have. If she had ideas, she would write about them instead of the having of them, but because she only writes about the having of them, no one ever knows what they are. Her posts are like pictures of laptops idling on tables at which no one works: ideas could potentially be communicated through them, but for now they deliver no actual content, only the low hum of pointlessly cycling hard drives.

Warning: Because her name has appeared three times in this post, she will, of course, show up in the comments and claim that her vacuousness is actually a vortex into which someone has been sucked. (Someone should alert her to the definition of “vacuum” that doesn’t involve suction.)

Voting the Althouse Way

[ 42 ] December 14, 2007 |

Well at least we know she was also vapid 30 years ago:

I was all set to vote for Jimmy Carter in 1976. I’d voted for Carter in the New York primary when he was still a face in a crowd of candidates. But the day before the election, I saw a TV interview in which a reporter asked Carter what he would do if he didn’t win. He said he’d go back to his peanut farm. This answer — does it seem innocuous to you? — gnawed at me overnight, and, as I was walking to my polling place, I sat down to talk about it with someone who was also planning to vote for Carter, and the two of us changed our vote to Ford. It wasn’t so much Ford. It was Carter. I’d decided he was a small man. He didn’t fit the Presidency. Did Ford? But Ford was already President. In truth, no one deserves to be President. But Ford did not select himself as President. He had only selected himself to represent one legislative district. I found that appealing.

Wow. Good thing she didn’t get a glimpse of Ford in a pair of shorts or something. She might have cast her vote for Lyndon LaRouche instead.

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