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Time Saver

[ 0 ] January 11, 2008 |

Here’s the only thing you actually need to know about Alex Koppelman’s inverview with Doughy Pantload:

[K:] You’ve talked about Mussolini remaining on the left and remaining a socialist, and in your book you’ve got a lot of quotes from the 1920s about that, but I’m wondering — how does that fit in with what he wrote and said later, especially “The Doctrine of Fascism” in 1932?

[DP:]I’d need to know specifically what he wrote in “The Doctrine of Fascism.” It’s been about three years since I’ve read it.

If you don’t know what’s in La Dottrina del Fascismo, you should just go ahead and admit that you’ve never read the fucking thing.

Also, the dumbest book ever now has the dumbest blog ever, which — as the horizon recedes even further — also seems to have the dumbest readers ever.

[Dave Neiwert] seems to think you are less qualified to propound your thesis than, say, a tenured professor of history at some hoo-hah university. I consider that hogwash. I have read your comments and posts for several years now. I may disagree with you (a lot) — but you are every bit as qualified to research the literature and distill it into a book as any professor. I also trust you to have done what you did with diligence and integrity. That’s perhaps the most important reason I’m reading your book.

Yep. A vote for Jonah is a vote for integrity.

I’ll be hanging myself from the rafters now.

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The Vote Fraud Fraud

[ 2 ] January 11, 2008 |

More from Amanda Terkel.

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Hack Economist of the Week

[ 17 ] January 11, 2008 |

Shorter Steven Landsburg:

A regressive sales tax plan that (barring the creation of a massive state apparatus for investigation and enforcement) would encourage fraud, drive up government spending, and (barring a constitutional amendment to abolish an earlier constitutional amendment) give birth to yet another level to the tax bureaucracy? Why, it’s a libertarian’s wet dream!

…UPDATE (BY SL): Jon Chait points out that Landsburg also posits the potential for a progressive consumption tax, charging different amounts for different people at the cash register. Because rich people would never pay cash or use poor people as fronts to buy stuff under such a system. And three ponies!

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The Case Against Clinton

[ 59 ] January 11, 2008 |

Publius, while accepting the validity of grievances against the frequently sexist coverage of her campaign, tries to make it. To me, #1 remains the most persuasive. I think Obama might have a marginally more progressive domestic policy, but the differences are narrow enough that this could be mistaken. But it’s hard for me to get around the fact that Clinton completely botched the most important issue of the Bush era. (Moreover, I’m not willing to assume that her vote for the war was an “insincere political gamble;” that’s possible, but I think we have to accept the possibility that she voted for the war because she supported the war.) See also Ann Friedman on this issue.

And her pro-war vote is not merely problematic on the merits; it’s also bad politics. On the “Clinton electability” issue, as Ygelsias says Drum is narrowly right but takes on only the weakest version of the argument. I have never argued that Clinton is “unelectable,” and it’s likely that the structural conditions in November will make any Democratic candidate a favorite over any Republican. But this doesn’t mean that Clinton/McCain isn’t the worst plausible matchup for the Democrats. And even assuming that head-to-head polls aren’t useful at this point, the fact that Clinton took the Republican position on the most important issue and hence will be unable to exploit an issue that should favor the Dems will surely be a problem. And there are a variety of other areas in which Obama has more upside. Obama has the ability to mobilize voters who generally turn out in relatively smaller numbers, while Clinton’s core constituency (older women) already votes at disproportionately high levels. And while we don’t know for certain that Obama’s lower negatives and favorable media coverage will hold up, the worst that can happen is dropping to Clinton’s levels, and it’s more likely that he would be a better candidate than Clinton in those areas. (And I’m not arguing that conservatives won’t attack Obama; the question is how much right-wing critiques will penetrate the mainstream media and swing voters.)

Now, if you want to argue that given a candidate than can win a primary “electability” is just too unpredictable a factor to be meaningful, that’s fair enough; but I don’t really see a good progressive case for Clinton on the merits either.

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My Panel

[ 78 ] January 11, 2008 |

Just finished my panel presentation, and I’m happy to say that I’ve achieved a new personal record in panel attendance. We had three presenters, no discussant, and two audience members (one of whom wandered in halfway through the panel). 4.5 beats the previous record of 5, set at the 1998 Pacific Northwest Political Science Association conference.

The world continues to conspire to keep the masses ignorant of Mahan, Dreadnought, and National Identity….

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Big Easy

[ 38 ] January 10, 2008 |

So, I’m in New Orleans for the next three days for the Southern Political Science Association conference. Anything to do here?

…and yes, I’d certainly be up for an NO LGM Happy Hour if there is a sufficient critical mass…

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When Science Attacks

[ 22 ] January 10, 2008 |

Damn.

What happens if you give an elephant LSD? On Friday August 3, 1962, a group of Oklahoma City researchers decided to find out.

Warren Thomas, Director of the City Zoo, fired a cartridge-syringe containing 297 milligrams of LSD into Tusko the Elephant’s rump. With Thomas were two scientific colleagues from the University of Oklahoma School of Medicine, Louis Jolyon West and Chester M. Pierce.

297 milligrams is a lot of LSD — about 3000 times the level of a typical human dose. In fact, it remains the largest dose of LSD ever given to a living creature. The researchers figured that, if they were going to give an elephant LSD, they better not give him too little. . . .

Whatever the reason for the experiment, it almost immediately went awry. Tusko reacted to the shot as if a bee had stung him. He trumpeted around his pen for a few minutes, and then keeled over on his side. Horrified, the researchers tried to revive him, but about an hour later he was dead. The three scientists sheepishly concluded that, “It appears that the elephant is highly sensitive to the effects of LSD.”

There are 19 more of these, all from Alex Boese’s list of “Top 20 Most Bizarre Experiments of All Time.” Several classics from 20th century American social psychologists make the list — the Milgram and Stanford Prison experiments are included, naturally — but the Soviet scientists really take the cake. There’s Vladimir Demikhov, who grafted the head and torso of a puppy onto a German shepherd in 1954 Sergei Brukhonenko, who chopped the head off a dog and kept it alive with a crude heart-lung machine in 1928; and Ilya Ivanov, who sought in the 1930s to interbreed humans and various apes.

And the less said about Stubbins Ffirth — Philadelphia’s “vomit-drinking doctor” — the better.

(via The Kircher Society)

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"I’m not a Hillary supporter, but …"

[ 13 ] January 10, 2008 |

Rebecca Traister explains her one-day support for Clinton in response to her sexist trashing by the media. Violet Socks describes it in fiction form.

While it’s hard to establish definitively, it does seem likely that the egregious sexism of the media played at least some role in Clinton’s win.

…relatedly, a blogger at Swampland (via) is inventing a mythical catfight between Pelosi and Clinton because…another (male) member of Congress endorsed Obama. I’m serious. Expect her on the Times op-ed page — if it’s still in business — within the decade unless they decide to give it to Althouse or Camille Paglia instead. The first commenter: “Someday political historians will write books on the damage done to political journalism by the legacy of Maureen Dowd. This will be good for at least a footnote for somebody.” Indeed.

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Give ’til it Hurts

[ 0 ] January 10, 2008 |


I, too, would like to urge conservative bloggers to “man the oars” for Fred Thompson.

Really. I can’t imagine a wiser investment. Sure, he’s going to get creamed in Michigan, Nevada and Florida, but . . . um . . . dude, his wife is hot, or something.

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The NYT Against LBJ

[ 33 ] January 10, 2008 |

The NYT has a very strange criticism of Hillary Clinton, which was also made by Dowd on Monday:

Why Mrs. Clinton would compare herself to Mr. Johnson, who escalated the war in Vietnam into a generational disaster, was baffling enough. It was hard to escape the distasteful implication that a black man needed the help of a white man to effect change.

Sandy Levinson has the appropriate response:

I find this astonishingly ignorant and, indeed, almost offensive. Speaking as someone who opposed the Vietnam War and published (with Doris Kearns) an article in The New Republic suggesting that the left organize a third party in order to assure the defeat of President Johnson should he run again in 1968, I have no problem describing the war in Vietnam as “a generational disaster.” That being said, I also believe that Lyndon B. Johnson was, by a large measure, the greatest domestic policy president in our history, at least as significant as FDR as an agent of “change” (the mantra of the day). Indeed, he gave the single greatest speech of any president in my lifetime, the “we shall overcome” speech when he introduced the Voting Rights Act in1965 following the Selma debacle and, more to the point, accepted the death of the Democratic Party in which he had thrived precisely by pushing for the full inclusion of African-Americans in the polity. Those who believe that the Supreme Court is unique in being a “forum of principle” might ask themselves if anything other than principle is a better explanation of Johnson’s willingness to jettison the Democratic Party as it then existed.

Perhaps the Times’ editorial writer is simply appallingly ignorant of that aspect of the Johnson presidency. There is a lot of nostalgia being expressed these days for JFK. He didn’t hold a candle to Johnson as an agent of genuine domestic change. Why can’t the Times recognize that, even if it wants, altogether properly, to go on to say that the tragedy of LBJ was his inability/unwillingness to accept American defeat in Vietnam (perhaps itself based on “principle,” which proves, among other things, that “principled” commitments are not necessarily worthy of support)?

Clinton is open to criticism on a number of fronts, but to praise LBJ in the context of civil rights is entirely unobjectionable.

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On the Voter ID Case

[ 5 ] January 10, 2008 |

I have more thoughts here.

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Dunlap Makes the Case…

[ 10 ] January 10, 2008 |

…for abolishing the Air Force better than I ever could. In a rather incoherent op-ed in yesterday’s NYT, Major General Charles Dunlap makes the following series of claims:

  1. The military success of the Surge is due to an increase in “boots on the ground”; so much for those “boots on the ground zealots“.
  2. The counter-insurgency manual still sucks, but its proponents misunderstand its key tenets, which are much more forceful than commonly believed, even though it still sucks.
  3. The Air Force really won the Surge, through a substantial expansion in airstrikes.
  4. Actually, the Surge didn’t work, because the only success we’ve seen is due to segregation of neighborhoods and cozying up to Sunni tribal leaders, so consequently the counter-insurgency manual still sucks.
  5. And then there’s Russia, which proves we need more F-22s. Why won’t anyone think of the Russians?

If you don’t believe me, read it yourself. Building and burning strawmen is a time-honored strategy of the op-ed, but the author ought, at the very least, make sure that the flaming strawmen are consistent with one another. In any case, Dunlap seems to have a substantial misunderstanding of the connection between points 1, 2, and 3. The success of a counter-insurgency strategy depends on the production of good intelligence for the use of force. Every such strategy will have both protection and projection components; the key is that the protection component, if well done, is supposed to make the projection component more effective. The reason we saw a substantial increase in airstrikes during the spring and summer was not that the gloves were coming off, as Dunlap or Ralph Peters would have you believe, but rather because the intelligence provided through better protection (which was a function of both changes in tactics and an increase in troops) produced better targeting opportunities.

Point number four is true enough, but irrelevant to Dunlap’s argument. The decrepitude of the F-15 is actually lending some weight to the F-22 argument; thirty years old airframes are both prone to failure and expensive to maintain. But then, the big debates about the F-22 have always been more about the price and the pace (do we really need a lot of them now?) than whether or not the purchase should be made.

Cross-posted to TAPPED.

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