Monthly Archives: March 2010

March 31, 2010, 12:47 pm

Military History Carnival #23

The Edge of the American West, in conjunction with H-War, will be hosting the next Military History Carnival, on April 17, 2010. Carnivals are an ancient and hoary Internet tradition, bringing together the best submitted work on a particular topic from around the web:

A blog carnival is like a roving journal, a rotating showcase of interesting writing from around the blogosphere within a particular discipline. Individual bloggers volunteer to host a carnival on their personal blog, acting as chief editor for that edition. It falls to them to collect noteworthy items, and to sort through suggestions from the community, many of which are direct submissions from authors. On the appointed date (carnivals generally keep to a regular schedule) the carnival gets published and the community is treated to a richly annotated feast of new writing in the field.

Submit potential entries via email. …

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March 30, 2010, 6:41 pm


So, the centerpiece of any even-slightly-traditional Seder is a detailed recounting of the Exodus story. But, as I understand it, Biblical archaeologists have complicated things lately by insisting that the Jews weren’t in Egypt for any lengthy period of time during the era in question.* “Hold on, Mr. PhD in Archaeology Smartypants, how do we know this for sure?” asks the obnoxious Jew.** Because the Egyptians were excellent record keepers, even taking detailed note of the many peoples they brutally subjugated. Which is all well and good, at least from the perspective of someone interested in the intersection of history and memory. In other words, it’s not unusual for discrepancies, rooted in methodological, epistemological, or political differences, over how the past is recalled to crop up from time to time.

But then there’s this: why would the long-ago Jews have invented this…

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March 29, 2010, 8:56 am

A semi-rhetorical question…

Do you think that following the suicide bombing of the Moscow subway that anyone writing articles will bother explaining some of the history concerning Chechnya, or will it all get swept under the heading of monolithic radical Islamic extremism?  (Those damn Caucasian Arabs ….!  What about Iran!)*

/annoyed with reporting

*Note for the slow and tendentious:  I am not saying that the suicide bombing is justified.  Killing people is wrong.  It is a source of frustration that a suicide bombing in Moscow by Chechen terrorists is attributed to nothing more than radical Islam, which is apparently the only monolithic religion on the planet.  By parity of reasoning we should respond to the Catholic sex scandals by investigating the Baptist ministers.

March 28, 2010, 5:35 pm


Why is Obama being so mean to Netanyahu? One possibility is that with the Biden flap, “Netanyahu’s government made Obama look bad, undermining the effort against Iran.” But there’s another possibility, as the Instapundit points out:

Possibly Obama just hates Israel and hates Jews. That’s plausible — certainly nothing in his actions suggests otherwise, really.

The President’s deep personal animosity toward Jews is on fine display in this interesting NYT article:

The day had been long, the hour was late, and the young men had not been home in months. So they had cadged some matzo and Manischewitz wine, hoping to create some semblance of the holiday.

Suddenly they heard a familiar voice. “Hey, is this the Seder?” Barack Obama asked, entering the room.

So begins the story of the Obama Seder, now one of the newest, most intimate and least likely of White House traditions. When …

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March 27, 2010, 5:39 pm

All About Eve

John McCain, throwing caution to the wind with a gambler’s recklessness, made Sarah Palin a national name by choosing her as his Vice-Presidential candidate. Now, she’s making him:

Senator John McCain and Sarah Palin embraced on stage here on Friday as they made their first joint campaign appearance since their presidential race, with Ms. Palin assuring Republicans in Arizona that Mr. McCain should not be dispatched from office by a conservative challenger.

Their rally drew “one of the largest crowds” McCain has had since the 2008 presidential run; a crowd McCain is apparently unable to draw by himself.

March 24, 2010, 1:45 pm

Lying Liberal Liars and their Loathsome Lies

Kevin Levin has been having some fun with Larry Schweikart’s recently published — and oddly titled — 48 Liberal Lies About American History. (I mean, only 48? Seriously? He couldn’t find two more? Clearly, he hasn’t reviewed the latest scholarship on George Washington’s ursine sex fetishes and contributions to the early cocaine trade, to say nothing of his extra testicles and his callous disregard for the British children.)

Anyhow, Schweikart — last seen writing a book that should have embarrassed his mother — has discovered some remarkable untruths that are, he claims, standard leftist issue in US History texts.  Among them:

  • “John F. Kennedy was Killed by LBJ and a Secret Team to Prevent Him from Getting Us Out of Vietnam”
  • “Ronald Reagan Knew ‘Star Wars’ Wouldn’t Work but Wanted to Provoke a War with the USSR.”
  • “September 11 Was Not the Work of Terrorists.  It Was a…

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March 23, 2010, 9:10 am

Emergency contraception

A year ago a judge ordered the FDA to reconsider its behind-the-counter classification of emergency contraception. Nothing has happened, and these talking bunnies are (rightly) pissed off about it.

Apart from the added embarrassment of asking an old guy in a lab coat for that pill you take after having sex, there’s the additional risk that the pharmacist will refuse to hand over the goods on the grounds that actually giving you safe and legal medication violates his conscience, which, in my professional opinion, is totally dildos.

It’s irritating for two different reasons: first, the safe and legal part, as well as the idea that it’s part of a pharmacist’s job to hand over those sorts of medications; second, EC is not actually an abortifacient. In some cases it can prevent implantation of a fertilized egg, but that’s not the only way it can be effective, so what the pharmacist…

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March 22, 2010, 9:00 am

Analogies, Obscure, Historical

Obama_NapoleonRegalRegalia500.jpgHealth care reform wasn’t President Obama’s Waterloo, it was his Borodino! William Kristol explains:

Barack Obama was able to muscle his health care plan through, and therefore avoided a legislative defeat that Sen. Jim DeMint had said would be his Waterloo. But Waterloo was always an imperfect analogy. Leaving aside the injustice to Napoleon of comparing Obama to him, the better analogy is Borodino.

“But,” you say, “Borodino? Um, huh? What’s that?”

Kristol elucidates:

Napoleon invaded Russia in June of 1812. On September 7 of that year, the Grande Armée under Napoleon’s command attacked the Russian army near the village of Borodino. Napoleon won the battle, the greatest of the Russian campaign, but at a terrible cost–about a third of his soldiers were killed or wounded. The Russian army was not destroyed, and while Napoleon occupied an abandoned Moscow a week later, the…

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March 21, 2010, 7:31 am

Madame Speaker.

I’ve been saying for many months that if healthcare reform passes, I believe that Obama, for all of his myriad flaws, will be the best President of my lifetime and one of the ten best in the nation’s history. And before you ask, sure, I know that “one of the ten best Presidents” is not an especially august honor (I mean, I think Taft and Fillmore are on that list), and also that Obama has plenty of time to do enough atrocious things to make him one of the ten worst as well. Which reminds me, Eric, Kathy, and I were recently musing that LBJ is both the fifth best and fifth worst President in American history. But that’s a story for another day.

What I really want to talk about today is Nancy Pelosi. I have the sense that she’s wildly underappreciated: both as a powerful symbol — she’s the first female Speaker of the House, after all — and for her effectiveness. I don’t actually…

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March 16, 2010, 12:18 pm

Smoke-filled rooms.

In a recent article in The Nation, Jon Wiener of UC Irvine writes about historians who have worked as expert witnesses or researchers on behalf of Big Tobacco. It’s an interesting piece, I think, not least because it suggests that souls don’t come cheap the expert-witnessing business is lucrative: Kenneth Ludmerer, a historian of medicine at Washington University in St. Louis, apparently made more than $500,000 working for tobacco companies. That’s real money!

But there’s a catch (there always is, right?): it’s a contentious business. Ludmerer and other scholars who have worked on Big Tobacco’s side during litigation claim that they’ve been harassed because of their efforts. Ludmerer asks:

Where is civility in this country? These ad hominem attacks are injurious. I had coronary artery bypass surgery in 2005. I’m sure a lot of the disease came from tension from the comments…

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March 13, 2010, 2:46 pm

Great moments with Mr. Nixon.

My colleagues and I were discussing the craziest Nixonian moments the other day, and we decided to come up with a top ten list.  Here it is.  Add your own favorites in the comments.  (Alternatively, you could do the things the Disney folks did to Lincoln, and pick quotes from a variety of different moments to create a special Nixonian pastiche.)  Some questions to ponder:

– was Nixon really our craziest president, or would they all sound crazy if they’d installed voice-activated taping systems?

– who did Nixon admit to having a crush on (see the 14-second beep in item 10)?

1.  On thinking big (April 25, 1972)

Nixon: I still think we ought to take the North Vietnamese dikes out now. Will that drown people?

Kissinger: About two hundred thousand people.

Nixon: No, no, no, I’d rather use the nuclear bomb. Have you got that, Henry?

Kissinger: That, I think, would just be too much….

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March 11, 2010, 12:08 pm

Wait, how much?

Five?  Five??  Five?!?!? As in, I spent more on a bagel and coffee this morning five the hell what now??



March 8, 2010, 10:03 am

This post reeks of the odorific virtue!

This is actually an interesting article on newish research into the complexity of obesity, but the word “obesogen” is making me laugh.   Obesogens make you obese!  This sleeping pill is chock full of the dormitive virtue!

We need a tag for lame Scholastic jokes.

March 4, 2010, 4:49 pm

Lessons of History

Two stories caught my eye last week, both thanks to Ralph Luker. They concern the practice of history, though in disparate ways. The first is about how Paul Krugman, my favorite economist, came to the study of economics:

With Hari Seldon in mind, Krugman went to Yale, in 1970, intending to study history, but he felt that history was too much about what and not enough about why, so he ended up in economics. Economics, he found, examined the same infinitely complicated social reality that history did but, instead of elucidating its complexity, looked for patterns and rules that made the complexity seem simple. Why did some societies have serfs or slaves and others not? You could talk about culture and national character and climate and changing mores and heroes and revolts and the history of agriculture and the Romans and the Christians and the Middle Ages and all the rest of it; or,…

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March 4, 2010, 6:47 am

The new blue marble.

The early photographs of our planet as seen from space are supposed to have fueled the ecological awareness of the early 1970s, as suddenly everyone could see how small, fragile, and together were all were on the lonely, gemlike earth set in the hostile vacuum. Now NASA has put together a high resolution animation of the earth rotating in space from satellite images.

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