December 9, 2010, 12:48 am
So tonight President Obama appeared on Mythbusters, asking Adam and Jamie to revist the Archimedes death ray, which they had tested and busted twice before.
Which is to say, Barack Obama got some of the country’s coolest and most creative people to implement a policy that had already, for known and well established reasons, failed. Twice.
I’m sure it wasn’t meant as a metaphor.
July 16, 2010, 4:18 am
Kevin Drum gets it exactly right.
Here’s the good news: this record of progressive accomplishment officially makes Obama the most successful domestic Democratic president of the last 40 years. And here’s the bad news: this shoddy collection of centrist, watered down, corporatist sellout legislation was all it took to make Obama the most successful domestic Democratic president of the last 40 years. Take your pick.
July 11, 2010, 10:15 am
It’s long since become conventional wisdom that it took the Democratic Clinton administration to bring elements of the Reagan revolution to fruition, just as it would take the New Labour Blair government to bring elements of the Thatcher revolution to fruition. Will we someday be saying that it took the Democratic Obama administration to bring elements of the G. W. Bush revolution to fruition?
June 24, 2010, 5:07 am
There oughta be an axiom of regulation, that if you’re changing the rules in such a way that will make you sound grossly culpable when something goes wrong, you shouldn’t do it.
June 21, 2010, 10:22 am
In response to the Mississippi River flood of 1927, the administration of Calvin Coolidge dispatched Herbert Hoover to serve as what we would nowadays call the “czar” of the flood relief effort. Among other tasks, Hoover set about raising money for a cleanup and reconstruction fund. From John M. Barry, Rising Tide:
On May 24, he [Hoover] called a meeting of thirty Memphis bankers and businessmen at the Peabody and told them their quota was $200,000…. Those assembled shifted uncomfortably. One man protested. Suddenly, Hoover began to curse, his words as rough as those he had used decades before to miners a thousand miles from civilization. Then he made a simple promise. About 25,000 black refugees were in camps in Memphis. It was 2 P.M. He gave them to 5 P.M. that day to deliver pledges for the money. “If not,” he warned, “I’ll start sending your niggers north, starting tonight.”… By…
May 21, 2010, 9:45 am
Rand Paul keeps on giving.
“What I don’t like from the president’s administration is this sort of, ‘I’ll put my boot heel on the throat of BP,’” Paul said in an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “I think that sounds really un-American in his criticism of business.”
This is yet another thrilling episode pitting the modern Republican Party against the scientific community.
Tensions between the Obama administration and the scientific community over the gulf oil spill are escalating, with prominent oceanographers accusing the government of failing to conduct an adequate scientific analysis of the damage and of allowing BP to obscure the spill’s true scope.
We can also file this under “I Miss Republicans,” and the enduring mystery of why academics don’t vote Republican more than they do.
May 14, 2010, 10:22 am
Public reports are starting to say what a bunch of fairly knowledgeable people have been quietly saying: the Deepwater Horizon oil spill is a Very Bad Thing because nobody knows how bad it is: nobody knows how much oil is down there or how fast it’s flowing, and therefore nobody knows how long this will go on. What we do seem to know is we don’t know how to stop it:
“We don’t have any idea how to stop this,” Simmons said of the Gulf leak. Some of the proposed strategies—such as temporarily plugging the leaking pipe with a jet of golf balls and other material—are a “joke,” he added.
“We really are in unprecedented waters.”…
If the oil can’t be stopped, the underground reservoir may continue bleeding until it’s dry, Simmons suggested.
The most recent estimates are that the leaking wellhead has been spewing 5,000 barrels (210,000 gallons, or 795,000 liters) of oil a day.
And the …
April 16, 2010, 12:35 pm
It’s no wonder that this is happening on Barack Hussein Obama’s watch. I mean, am I right or what? And by this, I mean the fact that if Elana Kagan, the chalk pick* as President Obama’s choice to replace John Paul Stevens, is nominated and confirmed, there will be no white Anglo-Saxon Protestants left on the Supreme Court. Not one! Think about it: there will be six Catholics** and three Jews**** charged with interpreting the United States Constitution, the most sacred document in the history of ever. Somebody fetch me some tea; I’m ready to party.
* What does this expression mean? No, I’m not going to look it up. That’s cheating.
** Alito, Kennedy, Roberts, Scalia, Sotomayor, and Thomas.***
*** “Thomas is Catholic?” you’re saying to yourself. “Yes”, I’m saying back at you. Because it’s true: the man is Catholic.
**** Breyer, Ginsburg, and, in this nightmarish parallel…
April 2, 2010, 8:38 am
From Nate Silver, a social scientific lapse.
A study purporting to find a connection between stimulus spending and the partisanship of a district suffers from an obvious flaw. But in so doing, it provides an example of why it’s important to retain some common sense — and some sense of context — when conducting a statistical analysis.
The study, by Veronique de Rugy of George Mason University and the National Review, claims that congressional districts which elected a Democrat to the Congress received a larger amount of stimulus finds by a margin which is statistically significant even after controlling for certain other effects like the unemployment rate. However, the study does not control for at least one other variable that is overwhelmingly important in determining the dispensation of stimulus funds.
The variable in question is in fact pretty obvious if you simply look at the…
March 22, 2010, 9:00 am
Health 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?”
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…
January 26, 2010, 10:08 am
As we hear of the progress of the healthcare bill and the innovative rhetoric about a need for a spending cap, I am less reminded of any Roosevelts or Lincoln, and more of Grover Cleveland, the Great Non-Consecutive One, so brilliantly penciled in by Richard Hofstadter:
a taxpayer’s dream, the ideal bourgeois statesman for his time: out of heartfelt conviction he gave to the interests what many a lesser politician might have sold them for a price. He was the flower of American political culture in the Gilded Age.
Granted, the current occupant is more svelte, but that too is in keeping with ideal bourgeois norms; they’ve just shifted.
November 25, 2009, 11:25 am
In a funny coincidence, Eid al Adha (the commemoration of Ibrahim/Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son) falls on Friday this year, which means that Thursday is the day of Arafat. And that’s a big day for fasting for people not on the pilgrimage. Not mandatory, but extra-supererogatory.
So, this should be a fun Thanksgiving! Fast starts about quarter to six in the morning and ends about quarter to five in the evening. Good times. Actually pretty light compared to the longer days of Ramadan, but still, I’ll take any excuse to whine.
Eid al Adha doesn’t have presents like Eid al Fitr does, but it does involve goat sacrifice (the meat is donated to the poor). Decadent western types like myself just have it done via various charities (that way I can designate the donation for places I’m feeling particularly bad about) but old-school guys will go to the farm and do their own…
September 17, 2009, 5:15 pm
For purely academic reasons, I’ve never understood the argument that we should ignore Rush Limbaugh because he’s simply an entertainer who says outrageous things that millions of people are merely entertained by. I didn’t read the complete works of Silas Weir Mitchell because they were good—they are almost uniformly awful—I read them because they were popular. I was interested not in the content of his thought—it is almost uniformly mediocre—but in why his contemporaries found it so wildly appealing. If you want to learn which ideas and ideologies literate Americans in 1900 found comforting, you do not consult Henry James: you turn to the inartistic novels that parroted their prejudices back to them in a language they already understood. So when people say that we should dismiss Limbaugh on the grounds that he only says outrageous things to sell his product, I’m never …