November 19, 2012, 7:01 pm
The wolves are out for David Petraeus now that he’s shown such horrendous personal judgment and lost his untouchable position. There are two forms that I’ve noticed thus far. There’s the “I served under Petraeus and he was awful!” form. There’s the “Petraeus wasn’t a man’s general, he was an effete-namby-pamby-type general.”
The “I Served With Him” Genre
In the former category, we have this (warning! Naughty language), written by “Hawkeye Pierce”:
I’ve detested Petraeus for a long, long time. I’ve tried writing about him for a decade, but nobody seemed to listen. He was bulletproof back then—not so anymore. Now’s the time for me to tell you all about this self-serving shithead and what it was like being his bitch for years.
Pierce’s complaints? When Petraeus took over, he made his soldiers get uniform haircuts, practice holding the grips of their rifles consistently, had them…
November 15, 2012, 11:01 pm
Eisenhower at the German surrender. Summersby in the background
Oh shoot. Almost immediately after nobly declaiming on how too many blog posts are about “someone is wrong on the Internet” I find myself writing another one, this time about the historical parallels between the Petraueus scandal and Dwight D. Eisenhower’s relationship with Kay Summersby. Amy Davidson, at the New Yorker, argues that comparing the two is “sophistry.” Davidson starts with the quite reasonable argument that:
Is it good that a scandal about Eisenhower didn’t disrupt the war in Europe? Yes, but that means we were lucky, not that Ike did everything right. It’s a reason to be glad that an earlier general was reasonably careful about his (still alleged) affair—not to give a later one license to cheat.
She is exactly right. The “everyone is doing it” defense is not one that carries much weight past, well,…
November 8, 2012, 4:28 am
I 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…
November 7, 2012, 10:36 pm
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 6, 2012, 8:15 pm
In 1917, Arden Andrews went to enlist in the US Navy, to help fight World War I. He was 17 years old, and, unfortunately, underweight. His daughter wrote of it later:
When Arden tried to enlist in the Navy late in 1917, he was turned down because he was 3 pounds under the minimum weight requirement. He promptly went to the nearest grocery store, bought 4 pounds, (just to be sure) and sat down on the curb and ate them.
Returning to the enlistment office, he was weighed again and found just over the minimum. Bananas, it seemed, had saved the day.
 Library of Congress, Veterans History Project, AFC 2001/001/3046 Andrews, Arden Dudley, Memoirs.
November 6, 2012, 1:47 pm
The use of words and phrases, associated with presidential elections, over the last century, from the Google Ngram viewer:
More as I think of them.
UPDATE: Per tadlegler’s suggestion in the comments, “flip-flop”:
and, on my own, “vote fraud”:
UPDATE II: per chemstudent’s suggestion, “bipartisan,” and “campaign contribution:”
November 4, 2012, 4:20 pm
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 …
October 24, 2012, 3:26 pm
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 …
October 17, 2012, 12:06 am
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 13, 2012, 7:34 pm
During the Battle of Antietam, McClellan’s left wing, commanded by General Ambrose Burnside, had a tough time getting across Antietam Creek. In particular, they found it difficult to rush successfully the Lower Bridge, and were held up for several hours by a minimal Confederate force on the heights overhead. But, did they need the bridge to cross the creek? Well:
I think the answer is pretty clear, if slightly damp.
(In response to reaxx’s question. Photo by Elisabeth K. Boas).
October 10, 2012, 9:17 pm
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!).
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…
October 9, 2012, 7:33 pm
In honor of Andrew Sullivan’s post-debate freakout, I re-ran my earlier electoral update. This time, I used polls from after the debate or, if none were available, from before the debate but giving Romney a five-point bounce. Unlike last time, I decided to fill in all the states, because otherwise WHAT KIND OF PUNDITRY IS THIS?
So, again using the tool at 270towin.com, this is the map:
The final score, based off of this map? Obama 276, Romney 262. The debate has certainly thrown the results of the election more into doubt than they have been in a while. A shift of any of the substantial swing states (ie not Nevada, NH, or Iowa) from this allocation from Obama to Romney gives the GOP the victory. Yes, Virginia, I’m looking at you.
* Republicans react to bad news by deciding that the entire world is conspiring against them. Democrats react by having meltdowns and engaging in
October 5, 2012, 6:14 pm
I’ve commented on this before, but the topic has a elegiac fascination. Every memory passes from earth eventually, but sometimes, when an organization has been built to commemorate that event, the passing becomes more public. Thus, too, with the Submarine Veterans of World War II:
It was difficult for the national organization to find members able to serve as officers and to complete all of the administrative tasks. In their last roster, published 10 years ago, the pages listing the deceased members outnumbered those listing active members.
“The guys said, ‘I was all for staying. My shipmate came to the convention with me. He’s gone now and I don’t feel like coming,’“ said Kraus, 91, of Crescent Springs, Ky.
The organization officially disbanded this year. Local chapters could continue if they felt like it. The memories–a few of them–survive in a form, in oral…
October 5, 2012, 12:14 am
September 26, 2012, 3:37 pm
To get a sense of the race today, and using the invaluable tool at 270 to win, I awarded all the swing states in which either candidate is polling on average more than 5 points or more ahead of their opponent (actually, Romney is not ahead by five points or more in any of the swing states, so it was just Obama). The result was this map:
Doing it that way, the electoral college tally as of today is Obama 265, Romney 191, five short of an Obama victory.
(The latest Republican meme, by the way is that the polls are desperately skewed in Obama’s favor, owing to a large-scale conspiracy of the MSM. This conspiracy apparently includes Fox, which is apparently rejecting its role as part of the vast rightwing conspiracy. There is now a site to unskew the polls, which, not shockingly, has Romney substantially ahead. I am reminded of the fall of 2004, when Democrats religiously insisted…