Category Archives: Uncategorized

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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October 24, 2012, 3:26 pm

Your Electoral Update, Candidate Frequent Flyer Miles Edition

We hear that lots of states are now in play that weren’t before: Pennsylvania, Arizona, and so on. But where do the candidates think the votes are? Where are they actually going to rally the faithful and convince the unconvinced? Just about exactly where you would expect. President Obama is winging around the country:


California and Illinois are likely fundraising visits; the others are exactly the swing states that everyone’s been watching all along.

How about the campaign with the Big Mo? Governor Romney is heading over the next few days to Nevada, Iowa, Ohio, and Virginia, exactly where you would expect. Sorry, I couldn’t find a fancy graphic on the Romney campaign web site.

But perhaps the VP candidates are stealthily heading to newly viable swing states? Nope. They’re both in Ohio today.

The odd thing is that, after all the muss and fuss of the past six months, all the …

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October 17, 2012, 12:06 am

The Dead, With An Occasional Remembrance

The last lines of Shiloh by Charles Allen:

The birds are singing today,
Where wounded and dying men
Once laid and breathed their life away,
A quiet peace with music now and then.

The cornfield this past weekend, a month after sesquicentennial celebrations, was mostly silent, too.

October 10, 2012, 9:17 pm

Scouting Antietam

I’m teaching a Cornell Adult University course this week on the Battle of Antietam. The course starts tomorrow, but I scouted various parts of the battlefield today, to check them out and refresh my memory. I took photographs to share (warning! Large file sizes!).

IMG 1914

The War Correspondent’s Arch, at Gathland State Park, where the Battle of Crampton’s Gap took place. It’s a fascinating spot, deep in Maryland’s back woods, up in mountains, but intersecting with the Appalachian Trail. Bill van Gilder, a local potter, who lives near by, told me of sending messages to friends who live near the Trail in North Carolina, via hikers who come through the area. Turnaround time? About three months.

After Gathland, I moved on to the Antietam battlefield, starting with Burnside’s Bridge. I tried the exciting new panorama feature in my iPhone and got this of Burnside’s Bridge and its…

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October 5, 2012, 12:14 am

RIP, 1969-2012

Big Bird

August 21, 2012, 11:41 pm

So Sayeth Quite A Lot Of Us

Tim Burke pithily summarizes Niall Ferguson at the end of a post:

I don’t have to regard Ferguson as a professional by the standards of any of my worlds, as a person entitled to say that he’s inside any of those sets [scholar, intellectual, expert], . He’s left for other climes, and they’re welcome to him.

Worth reading the whole thing.

(FYI, “Gentleman Reading Mail, Part II,” originally scheduled for Monday, has been shifted to Wednesday. My apologies: SOS (start of school))

August 17, 2012, 11:58 pm

Disaster, Hubris, and Other Catastrophes, All From An Undisclosed Location

Grover Norquist on Paul Ryan:

Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist says that although he didn’t want Paul Ryan to be the GOP vice presidential nominee at first, he is now pleased with the pick and predicts that he will do for domestic policy what Dick Cheney did for national security.

Sometimes, the jokes are just too easy.

August 17, 2012, 5:04 pm

Glenn Beck Saves The Day

Or, at least, his publishing arm:

David Barton, author of The Jefferson Lies, which Thomas Nelson pulled from shelves last week, is in negotiations to publish a new edition of the book with Mercury Ink, Glenn Beck’s publishing arm

Whew. America will not have to go a day without access to the book that HNN commenters voted the “The Least Credible History Book In Print.” This blog has already made its feelings known.