Category Archives: Uncategorized

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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February 6, 2013, 3:36 pm

Not An Original Thought

John F. Kennedy really is a blank slate to be used for whatever grand narrative someone wants to tell about 20th century American politics, foreign policy, or just about anything:

Their next hero, two decades later, is President John F. Kennedy. Startled by the Bay of Pigs fiasco two years earlier, Kennedy in 1963 was supposedly on the verge of rejecting cold war orthodoxy and leading “the United States and the world down a…path of peace and prosperity” along the lines that Wallace had prophetically laid out. But JFK, like Wallace before him, “had many enemies who deplored progressive change.” Stone and Kuznick stop just short of blaming Kennedy’s assassination on those hidden enemies, as Stone did in his conspiracy film JFK (1991). But they say his death handed the country back to those who “would systematically destroy the promise of the Kennedy years as they returned th…

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January 28, 2013, 4:31 am

As shameless and self-serving a plug as you’re likely to see this side of facebook.

Okay, this is as close as I’ll come to shilling for my new book (which, you’ll note, has already been panned by a disgruntled reviewer at Amazon).  My friend Phillip Barron has just built me an author website.  Please check it out if you’d like.  There’s a blog over there that I’m sure I’ll use about as often as I use this one.

Update:  if you’d like to buy the book, it appears to be in stock here and here.

January 19, 2013, 3:30 am

Your Electoral Update For The Day, Nuclear Gerrymandering Edition

The GOP, coming off a substantial defeat in the 2012 election and facing difficult demographic trends, is looking to eke out every last electoral vote they can. The latest strategy is to take advantage of blue states where the GOP nonetheless controls the state government. In Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin, GOP governors and legislatures are putting forward or discussing laws that would split each state’s electoral vote proportional to the votes won by each candidate. In Pennsylvania, for example, Obama got 52% and Romney 47%. In the current system, that meant that Obama got all 20 of Pennsylvania’s electoral votes. In a revised system where the split was strictly by percentage, each candidate would end up with 10 EVs and if the GOP awarded them by Congressional district, as Maine and Nebraska do, Romney might have ended up with *more* EVs in PA than Obama did….

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January 10, 2013, 5:50 pm

A Quick Question, re the Debt Ceiling Limit

So, everyone (that I’ve seen, at least) seems to be assuming that, should the GOP hold the debt ceiling hostage and Obama responds with some form of

That the Republicans will cave in, raise the debt limit, and things will go on as before.

What if they don’t?

What if they simply say “Okay, you want to run things that way, go ahead.” So, they keep passing continuing resolutions (since actual budgets have been beyond the House for a few years), and leave it to Obama to figure out how to circumvent the debt ceiling for that particular bit of spending. Another coin? More 14th amendment invocation? More IOUs?

The Republicans get to hammer the President for continually violating their fiscal prudence, a lovely message going into the 2014 midterms which, after all, are on what most members of the House focus.

Eventually–as with the

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December 19, 2012, 9:54 pm

Erik Loomis on a stick

I don’t blog any more (that’s a discussion for another day — or not).  But since I still have the keys to the place, I’d like to add my voice to a growing chorus supporting Erik Loomis, who, as you may know, is now subject to a deeply hypocritical and craven witch hunt.  I wish I were more surprised by this turn of events, but alas, I’m not.

If you have a moment and are so inclined, the Crooked Timber post linked here and above has some suggestions about how best to express solidarity with Erik.

December 4, 2012, 3:10 am

A Brief Note On Names

Just because a lot of news places seem to have forgotten, the name that really matters in this mess is the “beloved daughter, granddaughter, sister, mother, cousin and friend” Kasandra Perkins.

November 8, 2012, 4:28 am


Duty callsI tend to think that the “someone is wrong on the Internet” meme dominates too much discussion (wait, am I saying that people are wrong about people being wrong?), and so blogs become one long death march about failings, being disappointed, and other general wrongness. Having said that, there is some use in pointing out particular examples. So, perhaps, an aggregate post? Oh, okay.


The GOP evaluates its polling:

Exit polling data also showed that most people continue to blame George W. Bush for the country’s current economic condition. The President’s team was masterful in getting that message out over the last four years. Team Obama also used the abortion issue to their advantage (as Republicans have done in the past) and this helped drive up the base vote.

You mean people actually remembered who was at fault for the economic crash, and understood what the Republican…

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November 7, 2012, 10:36 pm

Your Electoral Update for the Day, Now With Actual Results

This map is not of the actual results, though it does contain some of them. I flipped Ohio, Florida, and Virginia. I wanted to point out that Obama would still have won EVEN IF he had lost those three seemingly critical states.


That’s a remarkable statement for a Democratic candidate. That’s a remarkable statement for *any* Presidential candidate.

November 4, 2012, 4:20 pm

Your Electoral Update For The Day, Averaging the Pundits Edition (NOW! WITH UPDATES!)

The really big development this Presidential cycle has been the popular rise of such statistically-oriented political analysts as Nate Silver. They mix math, polls, GDP, magic sauce, wizardry, SCSI-termination mojo into a prediction about the election that is SCIENTIFIC.

This is not a post about those people, or not entirely about them. Instead, this is a post about aggregating all their (and other pundits) predictions and seeing if the magic of crowd-sourcing and the wisdom of the crowds works in political prognosticating.

So, I gathered as many predictions as I could: Nate Silver’s; Sam Wang’s, Drew Linzer’s, John Scalzi’s, Michael Barone’s, Karl Rove’s, Dick Morris’s, Bickers/Berry, Real Clear Politics, DeSart and Holbrook, Jackman, Election Projection, Lanny Davis, and, finally, the prediction of the students of Cornell in Washington’s Policy and Politics class. [UPDATE: added

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