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Getting Ready for the big Game

[ 9 ] February 1, 2008 |

explanation here.

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One Endorsement She Shouldn’t Accept

[ 12 ] February 1, 2008 |

Apparently, Ann Coulter thinks Hillary Clinton is more conservative than John McCain, and will endorse and campaign for Clinton if McCain is the GOP nominee. I kid you not. Evidence below:

Now, if I were one of Hillary’s advisors, I would say NO to that endorsement and offer of “help.”

In other endorsement news, MoveOn today endorsed Barack Obama. Of course, the GOP is already trying to use the endorsement against him.

Nice study in contrasts, eh?

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Today In Spurious Media Bias Accusations

[ 0 ] February 1, 2008 |

The thing is, it’s not hard to find plenty of examples of anti-Clinton bias on the part of the EMM – ESS – EMM. However, the Times not trumpeting Clinton’s “victory” in the Pajamas Media Straw Poll Florida non-primary really isn’t the example you want to go with, unless you’re outraged that the Times didn’t put the Tigers’s stirring 2007 Grapefruit League victory above the fold of the sports page. Jarvis also claims that the DNC’s decision was “unconstitutional.” While I agree that the draconian actions against Florida and Michigan were excessive, I must admit that I’m unaware of the constitutional provision that requires parties to seat delegates for their conventions irrespective of whether or not states follow their procedures. (Maybe it’s the same super-secret provision the Court relied on in Bush v. Gore.) And to once again point out the obvious, going along with the farcical spin of the Clinton campaign and pretending that a non-election was an election does not retroactively enfranchise Florida voters.

I would make fun of the Treason In Defense of Slavery Yankee’s arguments Roy also flags except that I don’t even understand them.

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A Momentary Lapse of Hegemonic Decline

[ 7 ] February 1, 2008 |

The Parag Khanna excerpt continues to produce some interesting discussion. Yglesias:

In 1945-46 the U.S. economy completely dominated the world, contributing some absurdly high share of total output. Every other significant country on earth had been completely destroyed by war, and we had a monopoly on nuclear weapons. Over time, this dominant position unraveled.

To which Drezner replies:

Yglesias is completely correct that the U.S. had nowhere to go but down after 1945 — a year in which we had the nuclear monopoly and were responsible for 50% of global economic output. Nevertheless, the U.S. resurgence in the nineties was not an illusion. The simple fact is that all of the potential peer competitors to the United States — Germany, Japan and the USSR — either stagnated or broke apart. At the same time, U.S. GDP and productivity growth surged. The revival of U.S. relative power was not a mirage.

This is a good point, and one that’s probably not mentioned enough. The story of how the neoconservative position on American hegemony developed in the 1970s and 1980s should be familiar by now, but the impact of the relative economic growth during the 1990s has probably been under-studied. In 1990 it wasn’t uncommon to see arguments that Japan and a Germany-driven Europe would be the premier world economic actors by, well, now. By 1995 this position was no longer tenable; setting the collapse of the USSR aside for a moment, the Japanese and German economies both stagnated while relatively fast US growth resumed. This was a situation which hegemonic-stability theorists in the 1970s didn’t foresee, and it probably goes some distance towards explaining how theories of American exceptionalism and consequently of the necessity of strong American hegemony became popular in the mid-1990s.

To put it another way, the ideas behind Kristol and Kagan’s 1996 Foreign Affairs article Towards a Neo-Reaganite Foreign Policy have a long history, but relative American economic strength in 1996 made them plausible and attractive to a larger audience.

Cross-posted to TAPPED.

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[ 0 ] February 1, 2008 |

Friday Cat Blogging… Nelson and Starbuck

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Bar-None Most Misleading Headline of the Week

[ 0 ] February 1, 2008 |

This one from the NY Times:

Tainted Drugs Tied to Maker of Abortion Pill

Based on that headline, you’d think all the company does is make abortion pills, and that it was those abortion pills (AKA RU-486) that were tainted.

But no. Here’s the article lede:

A huge state-owned Chinese pharmaceutical company that exports to dozens of countries, including the United States, is at the center of a nationwide drug scandal after nearly 200 Chinese cancer patients were paralyzed or otherwise harmed last summer by contaminated leukemia drugs.

Yes, it’s true that the company is the sole supplier of RU-486 to the U.S., but that drug is made in a totally different factory than the tainted leukemia drug. And I’d of course support stricter quality standards in all of that company’s plants. But this article is actually not at all about mifepristone/RU-486.

Is the Times really that desperate for circulation that it’s willing to use the specter of abortion scare tactic to drive online readership up? Sheesh.

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Assrocket Agonistes

[ 16 ] February 1, 2008 |

Hinderaker writes:

Mitt Romney unleashed the N-word on John McCain today, accusing him of using campaign tactics “reminiscent of the Nixon era.” “I don’t think I want to see our party go back to that kind of campaigning,” Romney said. He was referring to McCain’s misleading charge that Romney, like Congressional Democrats, had advocated a timetable for withdrawing from Iraq.

I agree with Romney’s complaint about McCain’s attack, but I’m not sure the Nixon comparison is apt. My recollection of Nixon’s career is that he was at least as often the target as the perpetrator of unfair attacks. For example, it’s hard to think of a charge made in the midst of a Presidential campaign more misleading than John Kennedy’s invocation of a fictitious “missile gap” with its attendant implication that Nixon was soft on Communism.

Oh, for the love of — the missile gap? Are you shitting me? Kennedy’s dishonesty on this issue is hardly a settled matter among historians; he certainly accepted estimates of Soviet capacity (from Eisenhower’s own Air Force) that turned out later to be exaggerated, and he didn’t allow competing data from the CIA to alter his campaign message, but no one who isn’t a desperate Nixon apologist would argue that Kennedy’s use of the issue was remotely “Nixonian.” To at least his mild credit, Kennedy later acknowledged that he’d overplayed the issue.

By contrast, Tricky Dick — a man pathologically incapable of remorse — was one of the greatest fabricators and demagogues ever to compete for American political office. Forget Donald Segretti’s successful rat-fucking of the 1972 Muskie campaign, or the Gemstone project that led directly to the Watergate burglary, or any of the rest of it. Let’s just recall Nixon’s inaugural campaigns for the House (1946) and Senate (1950), both of which were abjectly dishonest — and, in the latter race against Helen Douglas, misogynist — operations that founded and set the tone for his career.

In the ’46 campaign, Nixon ended Jerry Voorhis’ career after five terms in the House by claiming that Voorhis had accepted the endorsement of a “communist” group (CIO-PAC) that he had in fact rejected. Nixon repeated the lie at every turn, though, including at one of their debates, where he waved a piece of paper that was supposed to have furnished “proof” of the endorsement. It didn’t — the endorsement had been offered by a completely unrelated organization. The truth of the matter (which Nixon knew) did nothing to deter him, and he won the race. Four years later, after delivering Alger Hiss’ head on a platter to the anti-communist right, Nixon smeared his way into the Senate by duplicating the venality his 1946 campaign. This time, Helen Douglas was the target. Nixon deliberately distorted her voting record to bolster false accusations about Douglas’ “fellow traveler” sympathies; he famously described her as being “pink right down to her underwear”; and he pursued an anti-Semitic whisper campaign to remind voters that Douglas’ husband was Jewish. The vote in November 1950 wasn’t even close.

It takes a special kind of hack to diminish Nixon’s legacy to the point at which he seems to have peers. But I suppose that’s why blogs like Powerline exist.

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"Heh, how does Iron Man go to the bathroom?"

[ 1 ] January 31, 2008 |

This may be Mr. Duss’ finest work.

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LBJ: The Civil Rights President

[ 0 ] January 31, 2008 |

I was happy to see Ted Kennedy endorse Barack Obama, but he apparently did it in at least some measure for a silly reason:

There’s more to Sen. Edward Kennedy’s endorsement of Barack Obama than meets the eye. Apparently, part of the reason why the liberal lion from Massachusetts embraced Obama was because of a perceived slight at the Kennedy family’s civil rights legacy by the other Democratic presidential primary frontrunner, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.).

Sources say Kennedy was privately furious at Clinton for her praise of President Lyndon Baines Johnson for getting the 1964 Civil Rights Act accomplished. Jealously guarding the legacy of the Kennedy family dynasty, Senator Kennedy felt Clinton’s LBJ comments were an implicit slight of his brother, President John F. Kennedy, who first proposed the landmark civil rights initiative in a famous televised civil rights address in June 1963.

One anonymous source described Kennedy as having a “meltdown” in reaction to Clinton’s comments. Another source close to the Kennedy family says Senator Kennedy was upset about two instances that occurred on a single day of campaigning in New Hampshire on Jan. 7, a day before the state’s primary.

I suppose the fact that he’s related to JFK gives him marginally more of an excuse to defend his brother’s legacy, but the fact is that JFK consistently dragged his feet on civil rights while LBJ actually got the two most important pieces of civil rights legislation since Reconstruction passed. Clinton’s comments were not only unexceptionable but obviously correct.

…commenters are correct to note that the sourcing on this isn’t exactly airtight.

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Hack of the Day

[ 0 ] January 31, 2008 |

Jake Tapper decontextualizes and distorts the perfectly clear statements of Bill Clinton.

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A Point of Personal Interest

[ 0 ] January 31, 2008 |

This post is going to reveal more about me than I usually share in the blog-o-sphere, but oh well. It’s for a good cause.

When I was an undergraduate at Yale, I ate breakfast at the Yankee Doodle Coffee Shop, affectionately known as “The Doodle,” every Friday. Some of my favorite college moments were sitting in the twelve-stool diner, eating my $2 deliciously fluffy scrambled eggs with an English Muffin, and chatting with the owner and operator Rick Beckwith, whose grandfather first opened the Doodle 58 years ago. I never competed in the doodle hamburger eating competition because I knew I had no shot at coming close to the record of 26, or 27, or 28. But I dream about those eggs.

And now, because of “financial considerations” the Doodle, which has been open since 1950 in the same spot, is closed. The Yale-funded gentrification that swept Urban Outfitters, J. Crew, and Au Bon Pain into New Haven has now robbed the city of one of its real treasures (and yes, New Haven haters, there are treasures in the city).

But hopefully the Doodle will not remain closed forever. There’s a movement afoot to Save the Doodle.

Save the Doodle!

All of which is just to ask that any of you who have any connection to Yale, have ever eaten at the Doodle while passing through New Haven, have ever had a favorite coffee shop drive out of business by the big chain stores, please help save the Doodle. And then, when it reopens, make a little trip to New Haven and try the scrambled eggs.

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A Clerisy of Clerisies

[ 14 ] January 31, 2008 |

Via Yglesias, Dean Baker has some tough words for the Washington Post and the Beltway media more generally:

Rather than acknowledge that the experts on whom they rely had badly misunderstood the problems facing the economy, the Post just acted as though nothing had changed. “Everyone agrees we need stimulus.” Isn’t that simple?

This refusal to acknowledge fallibility stems from the same sort of anti-democratic impulse displayed by the Soviet-era press. Just as the Soviet press wanted the public to trust the wisdom of the party bosses, the Post and other pillars of the elite media want the public to believe that the experts who are the insiders on the decision-making process in Washington are uniquely qualified to craft policy.

Quite right. This reminds me of the debate several months ago about the “foreign policy clerisy”, one facet of which investigated whether the foreign policy clerisy was unique or simply one of several communities of experts who essentially controlled the parameters of policy discussion. I leaned pretty heavily towards the latter position, and Baker seems to agree:

Of course this is true for all areas of public policy, not just economic policy. Does anyone who failed to recognize that invading Iraq would lead to a long and costly occupation deserve to be viewed as an expert on Middle East policy? But the Post and other elite media outlets perform a beautification process whereby even the most enormous mistakes are conveniently swept under the rug.

Misunderstanding the economy’s weakness earlier this month is trivial compared to the much more grandiose mistake of failing to recognize the $8 trillion housing bubble, or before that, a $10 trillion stock bubble. If performance mattered, then the experts who got things so hugely wrong would no longer be the ones shaping public policy. Instead, with the Washington Post style beautification process, experts can jump from policy disaster to policy disaster and never have their failures affect their standing.

If we are ever to have an open debate on economics, or any other area of public policy, we will need media that honestly discuss policy failures and that hold those in charge accountable. In the current situation, the economic disaster facing the economy was entirely preventable, but the Federal Reserve and the rest of the inside crew were either too incompetent to recognize the housing bubble or felt the short-term benefits outweighed the costs that the country would inevitably face when the bubble burst. The Post and most other major news outlets chose to hide any serious debate on the problems posed by the bubble on the way up, and they would like to prevent any discussion of this massive policy failure even in retrospect.

In a related development, Matt Duss and I are currently working on a project that investigates the origins of the foreign policy clerisy, and includes some musings about its coming collapse. We’ll keep you updated.

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