Category Archives: Uncategorized

October 12, 2013, 5:02 pm

Today in GOP Dumbness

Rep. John Fleming, (R-LA):

Perhaps he sees this as the best opportunity for him to win the House in 2014. It’s very clear to us he does not now, and never had, any intentions of negotiating.

Perhaps he was fooled by the part where President Obama said he wouldn’t negotiate until the government was reopened. Easy mistake, really.

October 11, 2013, 5:33 pm

I Shall Now Shoot Myself In The Foot. And Your Foot. And The Foot Of The Guy Next To You.

Ezra Klein makes a nice point about the GOP’s profound strategic stupidity:

It’s hard to overstate the magnitude of the GOP’s strategic failure here: Obamacare’s launch has been awful. More than a week after the federal insurance marketplaces opened, most people can’t purchase insurance on the first try. But Republicans have chosen such a wildly unpopular strategy to oppose it that they’ve helped both Obamacare and its author in the polls.

It takes a great deal to be more political inept than the Democrats, but the Republicans have somehow managed it.

October 4, 2013, 5:37 pm

The World Series of Poker, Syria Edition

PUB SSGN Ohio Class Poster lgGalrahn, over at Information Dissemination, suggests that the Obama administration never had any intent of striking at Syria:

These two pictures combined tell us something important: The President of the United States never intended to conduct military strikes against Syria in response to the chemical weapons attack that took place on August 21st. He was bluffing. The President was never playing chess, but he was never playing checkers either; President Obama was playing poker.

His analysis is based on looking at US military capabilities in the Eastern Mediterranean. To mount a strike on Syria would have required ships with substantial amount of firepower, either in the form of cruise missiles or aircraft. The latter was unlikely, as the Syrian air defenses could be expected to inflict casualties on manned aircraft, a political problem for President Obama. That limits the use of air…

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June 25, 2013, 12:54 am

Waiting For The Constitution

Outside the Supreme Court, June 24, 2013:


June 4, 2013, 6:06 pm

“A Mere Thing Of Wax:” A Random Note On Marbury v. Madison

Chief Justice Marshall
220px John Marshall by Henry Inman 1832

One of the delights of reading Marbury v. Madison is the logical bind that John Marshall puts Thomas Jefferson. Marshall will give Jefferson what he wants in the case, but only if Jefferson concedes that the Supreme Court can decide the constitutionality of laws, something Jefferson resolutely did not want to do. Writing to Abigail Adams after the decision, Jefferson said:

The Constitution . . . meant that its coordinate branches should be checks on each other. But the opinion which gives to the judges the right to decide what laws are constitutional and what not, not only for themselves in their own sphere of action but for the Legislature and Executive also in their spheres, would make the Judiciary a despotic branch

President Jefferson
220px Thomas Jefferson by Rembrandt Peale 1800

He did not change his mind, writing in 1820:

To consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions …

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May 6, 2013, 4:49 pm

It’s Still Easier To Be An Effective President If Your Party Owns Both Houses (aka, A Quick Note On One Reason Why LBJ Was Effective In Ways Obama Is Not) Now! With More Wrestling.


As a followup to the FDR post:

88th Congress (January 1963 – January 1965):

63 Democrats,
35 Republicans

258 Democrats,
177 Republicans

89th Congress (January 1965 – January 1967):

Senate: 68 Democrats, 32 Republicans
House: 295 Democrats, 140 Republicans

90th Congress (January 1967 – January 1969):

Senate:64 Democrats, 35 Republicans
House: 247 Democrats, 187 Republicans

The caveat here is that many of the Democrats were southern, and LBJ’s signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (CRA) alienated quite a few of them (Much honor to “Smilin’ Ralph” Yarborough, Democratic Senator of Texas, and the only Southern Democrat in the Senate to vote for the CRA). The flip side, of course, is there was still that rare and mythical beast, a liberal Republican, in those times. Six of those Republicans voted for the CRA, helping break the filibuster.

This is not to a…

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April 17, 2013, 3:04 pm

This Blog Loves Vin Scully

2012 11 02 WoodcutimageoftheSwordofDamocles

During last night’s play-by-play, Vin Sculley (the legendary Dodgers’ announcer) invoked the Sword of Damocles to talk about Chad Billingsley, the pitcher:

He pitches ‘with the Sword of Damocles over his head.’ That’s an old Greek legend. The ruler was Dionysus, and he had a guy in the courtier – in the court – who would always talk about how great the ruler had it. So finally, the ruler said, ‘Ok. I’ll tell you how great it is.’ – the pitch is high, ball two – and he had a big dinner for Damocles and there at the head of the table was the chair and the beautiful table set up. Damocles sat down and directly above his head was a huge sword and it was tied by one horse hair.

The perfection there, of course, is the momentary interjection: “high, ball two.”

It is only appropriate that the batter then hit a home run.

April 15, 2013, 4:26 pm

Comment Policy

This is one of those “So I can point to it later” posts. The comment policy here at Edge is fairly loose in some ways and fairly tight in others. I think of Edge as as personal space and commenters as guests. They’re very welcome, welcome to come chat, come agree or disagree, come criticize or support, as long they’re polite and don’t overstay their welcome. I’ll usually warn folks if they’re not abiding by the policy. I may tell people to leave a thread if they’re not cooperating. I may ask folks to drop a particular discussion thread if it doesn’t fit with the post (or I don’t think it’s productive).

John Scalzi’s comment policy is well worth a read, especially this part:

You are welcome to comment. I like comment threads with a wide spread of thoughts and opinions, and I take what I feel is well-justified pride in the general high quality of the comment threads on the site. I …

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April 11, 2013, 2:18 am

Miscarriage of Justice, Air Force Edition

So–to be clear–it’s not okay for the accuser to have inconsistencies in her testimony:

Franklin, commander of the 3rd Air Force at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, said a host of details led to his decision, including that the victim turned down offers to be driven home from the party, didn’t accurately describe the house layout and gave a version of events that he did not find credible.

but it is for the defendant:

He acknowledged that Wilkerson didn’t pass a polygraph test and that there were some differences between the colonel’s version of events and his wife’s

Actually, it even means good things:

Wilkerson’s wife’s account of the events differed in some details from her husband’s, but Franklin said the conflicts suggested that the two didn’t collude on a manufactured story.

Good to know whose word counts, and whose doesn’t. This is, obviously, for values of…

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April 10, 2013, 4:59 pm

Wait, Whose Plantation Now?

Photo from Duke University Library Special Collections

Patrick Rael returns! This time with a guest post on some odd (to put it politely) ways of remembering slavery:

On Sean Hannity’s April 8 television show, Scripps Howard News Service columnist Star Parker likened modern “liberal” Democrats to antebellum slave owners.

When we look at who is behind this strategy, the liberal Democrats have not changed their M.O. This is not a new strategy, they used it during slavery. Remember, every time the word ‘freedom’ was mentioned and African Americans at that time heard about freedom — if you ran away, they would bring you back to that plantation — the overseer — the overseer today is the Congressional Black Caucus, their exclusive job is to keep them on the plantation, keep them uneducated, and keep them unarmed. And this was the same job as the overseer of the slave…

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April 6, 2013, 3:49 pm

Is It Just Possible That Americans Define Good Health Differently Than You?

“Nine in 10 Americans say they’re in good health. They’re wrong“:

This flies a bit in the face of what public health research tells us about how healthy Americans are. More than one-third are obese, according to the most recent Centers for Disease Control numbers. About 10 percent of Americans live with a chronic condition, like diabetes or high blood pressure. This data suggests there’s some space between how healthy we think we are, and how healthy we actually are.

It might be more interesting to figure out what Americans mean by “good health” rather than simply deciding that they’re wrong.

March 28, 2013, 1:10 pm

Oh Noes! Success!

From the same genre as “The Democrats should throw the 2008 presidential election and make the GOP handle the economic crisis” and “Roe v. Wade actually hurt abortion rights,” we have the New York Times opining that the political success of the gay rights movement may–GASP!–have negative effects:

But momentum in the political world for gay rights could actually limit momentum in the legal world. While the court may throw out a federal law defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman, the justices signaled over two days of arguments that they might not feel compelled to intervene further, since the democratic process seems to be playing out on its own, state by state, elected official by elected official.

The prospect that gay rights advocates may become a victim of their own political success was underscored during arguments on Wednesday over the constitutionality of the…

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March 15, 2013, 1:19 am

Rank amateurs.

The US News and World Report education issue is out! As ever, USNWR has taken on the critical task of ranking colleges and universities, including specific departments, and made a complete mess of the job. Kieran Healy has a couple of typically excellent posts on the subject (here and here). He concludes that USNWR‘s methods and conclusions are arrant nonsense and suggests that crowdsourcing the ranking of sociology departments might make more sense. Eric Rauchway, my once and future co-blogger, invites you to go here if you’re interested in doing the same for history departments.

March 14, 2013, 1:53 pm

Randomly Noted

This blog (I can say that, since I’m the only one who (&)(*&)*& posts around here) approves of the Veronica Mars Kickstarter project.

It does not approve of Google Reader shutting down:

This blog finishes by noting that yesterday–the day a new Pope was anointed (crowned? elected? appointed?)–those two issues were trending on Twitter, while the Pope was not.

February 11, 2013, 7:11 pm

God Has Set Us Up Over Kings And Kingdoms


The last time the pope retired was in 1415, when Gregory XII resigned to try and resolve the Western Schism. Now, there was partisanship for you, partisanship which makes our divided politics look like a scuffle in the park. At one point, there were three people claiming to be the Pope in the west, one based in Rome, one in Avignon, and one in Pisa. The period of the Avignon Papacy was started, as most things are, by secular politics. The Pope of the time, Boniface VIII , and the French King, Philip IV, had a running feud centering around the limits of papal power in France. Philip thought there were rather a lot of limits; Boniface did not agree.

This led to the issuance, in 1302, of the Bull Unam Sanctam, which asserted the Church’s authority over all kingdoms temporal (the quote in the title comes from it). Philip did not take Boniface’s statement lightly and…

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