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Carville: If Only Democrats Were All Southern Conservatives

[ 0 ] February 23, 2008 |

Of course person whose opinions nobody cares about James Carville wants Harold Ford to replace Howard Dean. After all, this is the man who thought that Zell Miller would be a great vice presidential candidate

…the context is that Ford is carrying water for New England Republican Chris Shays.

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B-2 Down!

[ 0 ] February 23, 2008 |

OH NOES!

A B-2 stealth bomber plunged to the ground shortly after taking off from an air base in Guam on Saturday, the first time one crashed, but both pilots ejected safely, Air Force officials said.

The aircraft was taking off with three others on their last flight out of Guam after a four-month deployment, part of a continuous U.S. bomber presence in the western Pacific. After the crash, the other three bombers were being kept on Guam, said Maj. Eric Hilliard at Hickham Air Force Base in Hawaii. At least one B-2 bomber had taken off safely from Andersen Air Force Base but was brought back when another aircraft plunged to the ground.

There were no injuries on the ground or damage to buildings, and no munitions were on board. Each B-2 bomber costs about $1.2 billion to build.

Tragic; now we’re down to only twenty of a bomber that has a ready rate of about 20%. If you doubt the importance of the B-2 to the US defense establishment, I invite you to revisit Robert Kaplan’s Atlantic article of last September, although I must warn you to be careful, because I’m not sure that they mopped the floor after Kaplan’s last visit. Recall that the B-2 forced the collapse the Soviet Union, put the fear of a righteous Mormon God in China, laid low the Serbs in Kosovo, brought about the destruction of Saddam Hussein, made great coffee, won an Academy Award for film editing, heavily influenced the Pixies, invented the DVD format, fed stray puppies in its spare time, and most importantly would soon crush Adolf Hitler Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

With the loss of one of the 21 B-2s, we now have only 95.2% of that goodness. I’m not sure how I’ll go on; be strong. This is a safe place, so in comments, please feel free to tell us what the B-2 meant to you.

…addendum by d: I can’t speak for Rob, but perhaps Tom Keifer can . . .

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Bush Idiocy of the Day

[ 0 ] February 23, 2008 |

I sometimes wonder if President Bush brushes his teeth without thinking idiotic ideological thoughts (I’m going to go with no). Today’s example? Bush is seeking to reinstate the Washington, DC needle-exchange ban. The ban had been in place for quite some time, and Congress only this past year revoked it. Needle exchanges are important generally to preventing HIV, but they’re especially vital to DC. The Times explains why:

The nation’s capital has the country’s highest rate of H.I.V. infection, and a recent report by the District of Columbia’s health department found that more than 20 percent of the city’s AIDS cases could be traced to intravenous drug users. Now that Washington has a chance to fight back, the White House must not be allowed to hobble that effort.

Why Bush is spending his precious time meddling with Washington, DC’s policies is beyond me. Aren’t there bigger problems, like, I dunno, a failed imperial war or a tanking economy? I guess (and this is no surprise) that his willingness to do wink-wink favors for the wingnut right knows no bounds.

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Transition

[ 26 ] February 23, 2008 |

Randy Paul helpfully explains why Castro is bad even if he led only the 34th worst regime since 1900. Police state dictatorships are never particularly admirable; it seems to me that US policy should in general be that the institutions of such regimes ought to change in broadly democratic directions. This doesn’t imply that all such regimes are equal, or that such a policy requires invasion, embargo, etc., or that there’s anything admirable or consistent about current or historical US foreign policy in this area etc. etc. etc. As such, for me the single greatest crime of US policy towards Cuba is that for the last fifty years it essentially guaranteed Castro’s hold on power, especially in the last twenty years as the rest of Latin America has steadily transitioned towards democracy.

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Dolphin Queen Update

[ 12 ] February 23, 2008 |

Shorter Peggy Noonan:

I would respect Mr. and Mrs. Obama more if they were sharecroppers.

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Question…

[ 0 ] February 23, 2008 |

Now that they’ve burned our embassy, does this count as the start of Serbia “being at war with us?” Or could we start counting from 1999? Or 1995? Listen, all I want to know is when we can start assassinating Serbian scientists…

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The Lost Art of Undergraduate Paper Title Writing

[ 25 ] February 22, 2008 |

When undergraduates bother to write titles for their papers, they tend not to be very good. I offer the rare exception to the rule, from a just-submitted essay addressing the domestic politics of the early Cold War:

“Best Contain Yo’ Self Before Communism Claim Yo’ Self.”

I dunno. Maybe it’s the unseasonably nice weather we’re having today, but that pretty much made grading fun for about half a minute. The rest of the paper was pretty smart, too.

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McCain Secretly Agrees With Me!

[ 6 ] February 22, 2008 |

The myth that never dies.

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"My master was a good man"

[ 0 ] February 22, 2008 |

I’m not quite sure how to sum this up, but it’s sung by a white guy from the vantage point of a black guy describing his pride at having fought on behalf of the white guy who owned him.

If you can’t make it through the entire tune without tossing a shoe through the computer screen, here’s the song’s money shot:

I’m a ragged rebel soldier, and I fought all through the war
Lord I am a ragged rebel, yes I fought all through the war
Them Yankees couldn’t kill me, nor the things I’s fighting for
I fought to save my family, southern vines and whipoorwills
I fought to save my Dixie, my home, my cotton fields
You may not believe me, but things was just that way
and black is nothing other than a darker shade of rebel grey…

Golf claps all around for the innovative use of the possessive pronoun “my.”

I suppose it’s really not a point worth making, but I’ll just observe in passing that if you can’t find an actual black guy to write and sing a song about what a gas it was to serve as a black confederate soldier, you should probably reconsider the entire project.

Via Kevin Civil War Memory, which is without question the best resource on the web for demolishing the myth of black confederates.

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The Expansion of Religious Exemptions To Deny Women Health Care Continues

[ 26 ] February 22, 2008 |

Most of our readers are familiar with wingnut pharmacists claiming that they should be exempt from doing their jobs for religious reasons. In Canada, some doctors are apparently extending this to pap smears.

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Opponents Beware

[ 0 ] February 22, 2008 |

Happy birthday to George Washington.

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Better Policies: Sometimes Even Easier To Sell

[ 28 ] February 22, 2008 |

I had it on while doing other work and then watched it at the gym, so I didn’t see at all, but it should be noted that I don’t know whether it’s happy or sad that it was surprising to see a presidential candidate would say this:

And it’s absolutely true that I think our policy has been a failure. I mean, the fact is, is that during my entire lifetime, and Senator Clinton’s entire lifetime, you essentially have seen a Cuba that has been isolated, but has not made progress when it comes to the issues of political rights and personal freedoms that are so important to the people of Cuba.

In a sane world, this would be the starting point of a rational policy as opposed to an unusual claim, but once again thank Article II for giving relatively small constituencies in a few key states wildly disproportionate power.

To give the optimistic take on the debate tonight, in a rare triumph of public reason having the better policy on the merits was a considerable advantage to the debater. Clinton is at a bit of a disadvantage on her best issue, because while mandates are the better policy they can be a tougher sell politically, but she parried Obama bringing up garnishing wages very effectively. On the other hand, on the biggest American issue of the young century, Obama cut right to the heart of the matter:

But it also means using our military wisely. And on what I believe was the single most important foreign policy decision of this generation, whether or not to go to war in Iraq, I believe I showed the judgment of a commander in chief. And I think that Senator Clinton was wrong in her judgments on that.

[...]

And I think that, when we’re having a debate with John McCain, it is going to be much easier for the candidate who was opposed to the concept of invading Iraq in the first place to have a debate about the wisdom of that decision…

(APPLAUSE)

… than having to argue about the tactics subsequent to the decision.

Exactly right, and also proves the political benefits of good policy judgments at a larger level. As Clinton showed tonight, she isn’t a bad candidate, at all; very smart, likable, tough-minded. She continued to waste time with the “plagiarism” idiocy, but her closing (as has been noted elsewhere) was outstanding. Obama has gifts she doesn’t, but she’s a good candidate who would make a good president. But getting the biggest issue of her Senate tenure wrong, which also produces a clear political liability in the 2008 election, creates a prima facie case against her when up against a credible anti-war candidate. Among a majority of Democrats, she hasn’t overcome this (correctly, in my view.) But it’s hard to imagine that had she voted the right way her initial lead wouldn’t have been beyond even the ability of Mark Penn to screw up, especially since Obama may well have sat out this race. I think there’s a lesson there.

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