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[ 35 ] February 12, 2008 |

As bean notes, Hilzoy has a good response to Krugman

I have no doubt that most of the venom that Krugman sees comes from Obama supporters. He has, after all, been on an anti-Obama tear for several months now. But he is an economist, and economists should know enough about basic social science techniques to be able to ask: am I working from a genuinely random sample? In the case of, say, Krugman’s email, the answer would have to be: no.

…but then Melissa wrote

Someone has also emailed me private accounts of older female Hillary supporters who reported being intimidated, shouted down, and outright bullied by younger male Obama supporters while caucusing. (Shades of the virtual world, in which female Hillary supporters have been effectively run out of dKos.) There were also reports of male McCain supporters who showed up claiming the specific purpose of intimidating female Hillary supporters.

(And why not? When everyone’s free to take shots at Hillary without serious consequence, it doesn’t exactly send the message that anyone will care if her supporters are treated as fair game for sexist bullying, too.)

Put this in the context of the series of posts Kate and I have written recently, along with the associated comments threads and women bloggers who have linked approvingly to those posts, all of which speak to the very real, if near-totally ignored, phenomenon of women who are hesitant for various reasons to openly support Hillary, and the reality of caucuses requiring public support that the privacy of a voting booth does not—and only someone deeply engaged in willful ignorance could deny that sexism is playing some role in Obama’s caucus wins.

…which seems to me to be relevant to the question. At first I had Hilzoy’s reaction to Krugman’s column, which was that he was making an unwarranted generalization based on his own experience. I’ve also been wandering the comment threads at TalkLeft lately, which have their own share of venomous, unfair attacks on Obama. But after thinking and talking about it, I’m not so sure.

To start off with, this conversation concerns only intra-left attacks; Clinton clearly receives more venom from the right (and from the Chris Matthews-esque center) than Obama has ever received. Even on the left, though, I think that Krugman is partially correct; the problem is that I would categorize many of the venomous attacks on Clinton as “fair”, which makes me forget that they are, in fact, quite venomous. To be a bit more clear on that, I don’t fully agree with attacks on Clinton that are based on her pro-Iraq War vote, and I certainly don’t draw the conclusion that the vote is sufficient reason to vote against Clinton, but I do think that it’s a “fair” line of attack. As such, I tend to discount their venom. There really isn’t anything comparable on the other side, if only because Obama’s record is too short to inspire anger on the scale of Clinton’s war vote (or even elements of her husband’s presidency).

But of course “fair” and “unfair” are in the eye of the beholder, and in any case in an angry comment thread they tend to blend together pretty quickly, such that supporters (especially women) of Clinton seem to get subjected to much nastier attacks than supporters of Obama. As anyone who has paid attention to this blog must know, several recent comment threads have degenerated into nasty, venomous attacks (often launched by myself) against Clinton supporters and “apologists”. Again, I think that these attacks (the bulk of which have revolved around the delegate seating question) are “fair”, but it’s undeniable that more venom has been poured forth against Clinton than against Obama, or that a substantial portion of this venom has little to do with policy differences between the candidates.

But of course this only goes so far, and it doesn’t go as far as Krugman is suggesting. Rather, like Hilzoy argues, I think we’re far, far short of a civil war. I know that I’ll be happy to vote for Clinton in the general election (in fact, I preferred her to Edwards) if it comes to that, and I think that for a variety of reasons that most potential Democratic voters feel the same way. Of course, things could change over the next four months; it could get much nastier than it is right now, especially if the convention leaves one side or the other believing that they’ve been unfairly treated. But I’d say that it’s quite premature to suggest that the debate is going to be dangerous in an electoral sense.

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On Krugman

[ 27 ] February 11, 2008 |

What hilzoy said.

What is up with Paul Krugman? It’s not even just that he has some sort of middle school personal nit to pick with Barack Obama. It’s that…aren’t there more important things for him to be talking about right now? And, even if there weren’t, does he (or any Hillary Clinton supporter, really) want to get into a tit-for-tat in terms of whose campaign and proxies have been meaner? I think not.

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Worst American Birthdays, Vol. 41

[ 17 ] February 11, 2008 |

Nearly 200 years ago, on 11 February 1812, free white child named Alexander Hamilton Stephens was born on a nondescript Georgia farm.

He was a frail, sickly boy whose weight never exceeded a hundred pounds, even as an adult. Born into slavery, a child like Stephens would have spent his life dropping seeds and gathering manure chips; as a part of the master race, however, even a common farmer’s son might look forward to a world beyond the cornrows. Stephens’ knowledge of the Bible — a book from which slavery’s advocates would draw affirmation and reassurance — earned him a scholarship to the University of Georgia, where he studied until his graduation in 1832.

After a successful career as a lawyer, Stephens served his white Georgian brethren as a member of the US House of Representatives from 1843 to 1859. A Whig by party affiliation, Stephens’ tenure in the Congress coincided with one of the most ferocious periods of American political history. In the wake of the Mexican War (which Stephens opposed along with most of his fellow Whigs), both major parties were eventually torn in half over the question of extending slavery into the new territories. Stephens, who by this point owned more than two dozen men and women, supported the rights of slaveholders to bring their property anywhere in the United States. Thus, he supported most of the 1850 compromise, which opened most of the western territories to slavery; he voted for the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which overturned the Missouri Compromise and turned the region into a gangland; and he celebrated the 1857 Dred Scott decision, which asserted that the Federal government could do nothing (short of a Constitutional amendment) to interfere with slavery.

Satisfied that white rights to human property had been secured forever, Stephens retired from the Senate in 1859. When Lincoln swept the free states in 1860 and won the presidency for the Republican party, Stephens — returning quickly to public life — failed to persuade most of his peers in Georgia from breaking away from the Union; unable to steer the hard core secessionists away from the cliff, he nevertheless decided to join them. On his 49th birthday, Alexander Stephens took the oath of office as the Vice President of the Confederate States of America.

A little over a month later, Stephens delivered an address in Savannah that came to be known as the “Cornerstone Speech.” Enumerating the differences between the confederacy and the United States, the Confederate vice president announced that the nation’s founders had been wrong to view slavery as a “necessary evil” and that believers in unversal human equality were mistaken. Instead, Stephens explained that black inferiority and subordination were merely the expression of a “great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.” The Confederacy, therefore, lay closer to nature than any government in human history.

With us, all of the white race, however high or low, rich or poor, are equal in the eye of the law. Not so with the negro. Subordination is his place. He, by nature, or by the curse against Canaan, is fitted for that condition which he occupies in our system. The architect, in the construction of buildings, lays the foundation with the proper material — the granite; then comes the brick or the marble. The substratum of our society is made of the material fitted by nature for it, and by experience we know that it is best, not only for the superior, but for the inferior race, that it should be so. It is, indeed, in conformity with the ordinance of the Creator. It is not for us to inquire into the wisdom of His ordinances, or to question them. For His own purposes, He has made one race to differ from another, as He has made “one star to differ from another star in glory.” The great objects of humanity are best attained when there is conformity to His laws and decrees, in the formation of governments as well as in all things else. Our confederacy is founded upon principles in strict conformity with these laws. This stone which was rejected by the first builders “is become the chief of the corner” — the real “corner-stone” — in our new edifice.

Though Stephens could not imagine any outcome but Southern victory, the Confederacy was obliterated within four years. After spending five months in prison, Stephens resumed his political career. In 1873, he returned to the Congress as a Democrat and served for nearly ten years in the House before ending his life with a brief stint in the Georgia governor’s office.

Although the cornerstone of Stephens’ ideal republic did not survive in the form of the Confederacy, he would have been pleased to know that within a decade after his passing, the principle of “negro” subordination had been reasserted throughout the land.

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Wooden Puppet

[ 0 ] February 11, 2008 |

Good to see the fine folks in Tuscaloosa grasp what the Washington Post was unable to:

Michael Mukasey may have a distinguished career as a judge but as U.S. attorney general, he’s a loser. For all the interest he has shown in the duties of his new office, we may as well have a smiling wooden puppet seated in his chair.

Make that a partisan puppet. By his studied inattention to issues that might embarrass the Republican Party, Mukasey has made it abundantly clear that President Bush pulls his strings.

He has dodged questions on torture techniques advocated by Bush and Vice President Cheney; balked at acting on the firings of U.S. attorneys that led to his predecessor’s sacking; and dragged his heels on investigating the destruction of damning videotapes by the CIA.

His failure to look into an allegation that partisan political interests guided the prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman is part of this dereliction of duty. Although he told the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday that it is inappropriate for politicians to try to influence criminal prosecutions, Mukasey admitted under questioning by Rep. Artur Davis that he has not looked into the Siegelman case allegation. He should. It is a serious charge that demands attention. An Alabama lawyer said in a sworn statement that she heard fellow Republicans discuss White House involvement in pursuing Siegelman’s prosecution. The officials she named have denied the charges, as have federal prosecutors in the case.

Obviously, this is an editorial board that needs 48 hours of immersion in High Contrarianism, stat. Don’t they know that the immense amount of leverage Congress will wield over Mukasey will force him to come clean and pursue ambitious reform projects?

Via Scott Horton, whose article about evidence regarding White House-coordinated selective prosecution in Alabama is very much worth reading.

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The Rumor Mill

[ 108 ] February 11, 2008 |

After David Freddoso raised the alarm earlier today about “new” cases of leprosy in Arkansas, Mark Krikorian quickly lept in to tease out the proper lesson and offer a meaningless gesture of piety:

[T]he appearance of leprosy [in Arkansas] is not because of L’il [sic] Abner and Daisy Mae: “It’s from the Marshall islands; that’s why we’re seeing it,” according to a local doctor. See, Springdale, Ark., has the largest population of Marshallese outside their home islands, brought to America to pluck chickens for Tyson Foods. Oh, this too: “Springdale is also reporting over 100 cases of tuberculosis.”

Any discussion of immigration and disease is potentially inflammatory and needs to be careful and sober. But that doesn’t mean you can simply avert your eyes, which is what we’ve been doing for too long.

What Krikorian means, I’m sure, is that “careful and sober” discussion merely requires that one of the discussants asks that the conversation be “careful and sober.” Here, for instance, are the “careful and sober” words of the physician and political candidate who squealed about the alleged outbreak.

[Dr. Jennifer] Bingham says without cooperation, leprosy, which has no vaccine, and is transmitted through the air, will spread, and could easily become an epidemic. “People absolutely should be concerned. What I’m afraid of, is when people start thinking about it enough, it will already be out of control.”

So now, Bingham, and others like Mayoral candidate Nancy Jenkins, say government help is the next step. Jenkins says she’s angered the federal government has been so lax with border patrol. She says, “We’ve just opened the borders and said, ‘Come on in! Bring your diseases! Bring ‘em!’ Why are we doing that? Those who have it need to be quarantined and treated, or sent back to their country.”

Dr. Bingham is requesting the public take action, and write everyone from legislators, and presidential candidates, to Congress, and the Health Department. She says, “the only way to truly protect our community and our economic growth, is to think of this as a very important, panic-mode attempt to treat leprosy: before it gets out of hand.”

The original story — from which that passage was drawn — has been removed from the KFSM website, prompting all sorts of “careful and sober” speculation about government coverups. As for the heavyweights at The Corner, we might note that actual sobriety and care might have included a quick trip to Google, where Freddoso or Krikorian would have discovered that the original story had been declared complete bullshit a full two days earlier. Whoops!

The Arkansas Department of Health in Little Rock says some Northwest Arkansas doctors have wrong information that’s leading them to fears of leprosy cases.

The health department tells 5News because leprosy is such a rare disease, some Arkansas doctors often don’t have the most up-to-date information on it.

The health department says some doctors have incorrect information to begin with.

Thursday, Springdale Doctor Jennifer Bingham told 5News there were nine cases of leprosy in the Springdale Marshallese population.

Those cases are not new. In fact, the health department has been tracking them for the last two to three years.

Dr. Bingham contends people should be very concerned about contracting the disease. But the Arkansas Department of Health says: not true.

Officials argue there should be no cause for concern about a leprosy outrbreak or epidemic in Northwest Arkansas.

Dr. James Phillips, an infectious disease expert with the Arkansas Department of Health, says only five percent of the population is susceptible to the disease. He says leprosy is not as contagious as a lot of people think it is.

Oh, well. Perhaps Freddoso and Krikorian will warn us next about the swarms of bedbugs and head lice that David Duke’s people have been investigating this month.

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Count The Votes Until Our Frontrunner Is Ahead

[ 0 ] February 11, 2008 |

Via Matt W., the fact that the GOP has “progressed from 2000 where they refused to count Democratic votes, to 2008 where they are now refusing to count their own votes” is indeed very amusing. It’s bizarre for a party to just announce a winner in a close race before counting every vote, and you also have to think that a court inquiry embarrassingly revealing and overturning a trumped-up Potemkin 25.5% “victory” would be far more damaging to McCain that just straightforwardly losing the WA primary in the first place.

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The Non-Shakeup Shakeup

[ 9 ] February 11, 2008 |

So, Patti Solis Doyle, Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, is out. She’s being replaced by longtime Clinton advisor Maggie Williams.

The Clinton camp insists that this is no nervous nellie shakeup. No, no, no signs of trouble in that campaign. Certainly, Clinton has got to be unhappy with last night’s results. But she’s still got the delegate lead. Still, losing her campaign manager (or loosing her) is not going to project an image of confidence in the way things are going.

Meanwhile, Obama took Maine, making this weekend a clean sweep. Back in October, polls showed that Mainers preferred Clinton by a 57-10 margin. Not anymore. On to “Chesapeake Tuesday.”

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The Empty Calculi of Electability

[ 0 ] February 10, 2008 |

Drezner writes

This process meant that the Democrats ran Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, Al Gore, and John Kerry in November. There’s no way that any politico can justify a process that delivers that set of outcomes.

…which reminds me of this excellent post by Lance Mannion on the ghost of John Kerry:

The ghost of John Kerry haunts many of the various discussions about “electability” I’ve read on the web. There seems to be a consensus that Kerry was the nominee in 2004 because Democrats thought he was the most “electable.” There’s also general agreement that the Democrats were out of their minds on that one because Kerry turned out to be highly unelectable… In 2004 Iowa and New Hampshire decided the nomination for the rest of us by handing Howard Dean his hat. Maybe Iowans based their decision on Kerry’s supposed greater “electability.” The rest of us were just along for the ride, hoping that Kerry was in fact electable.

But the proof offered that he wasn’t actually electable is simply that…he wasn’t elected. There’s a sense out there that Kerry should have won. This idea seems to have two meanings in one. Kerry should have won because all the advantages were his and he should have won because in a fair and just universe George W. Bush would have been thrown out of the White House on his ear and by losing to that jamoke Kerry committed a sin and a crime against nature and the nation.

Behind both senses is the belief that, no matter how electable Kerry was, George W. Bush was indisputably not re-electable. Which brings us back to this: The fact that Kerry could not get elected over an obvious loser like Bush is proof that Kerry was unelectable.

Another way to think about this is to try out a counterfactual. What if Gary Hart had prevailed over Walter Mondale in the 1984 Democratic primary, then had gone on to win, say, eight states against Reagan in the general election? Is there a shadow of a doubt that Hart would have become a national joke (four years early, as it turns out), and would have joined the pantheon of utter Democratic failures that Drezner recounts? Moreover, is there even any doubt that supporters of Walter Mondale would be in the first rank of those making such claims?

Political science has some tools for differentiating between a genuinely bad candidate and a candidate in a genuinely difficult campaign, but those tools have failed to trickle into either elite media discourse or the popular conversation. Consequently, we got comments like Drezner’s, which assert that because a group of candidates lost, they must all share the dispositional characteristic of being poor candidates. This is particularly irritating from Drezner, who really should know better, but it’s a distressingly common theme in conversations about past elections.

Lance successfully demolishes much of the myth about Kerry in 2004, particularly that part that might be characterized as “If I and my immediate circle of friends really hated George Bush and thought he should be impeached, then it’s obvious he was a weak candidate, and consequently Kerry was even worse for not beating him”. I think that the other part of this claim, which runs something like “If only we had nominated Dean/Edwards, we would have won this thing,” is just as weak. Maybe Howard Dean could have beaten George Bush by being aggressive and “ballsy”, but then again when he ran assertively to the left in the subset of the population most likely to respond to an assertive leftish campaign he lost 48 states. For the electability of John Edwards I have even less regard; he’s always been attractive because of his perceived ability to appeal to moderate white men, but he’s now demonstrated in two different campaigns that he lacks the ability to appeal to very many people who aren’t moderate white men. Similarly, it’s hardly an endorsement of his electability that he felt vulnerable as an incumbent Senator in his home state, or that he was so badly beaten this time around by a guy who was running for the Illinois state Senate when Edwards was running for Vice President.

I’d also like to think that this cycle has brought the “momentum” theory of primary elections into deep question. The most common narrative of John Kerry’s nomination victory in 2004 is that by winning Iowa he acquired sufficient momentum to roll over the rest of the candidates, irrespective of his or their actual merits. It’s worth thinking, however, about how rarely such a thing actually happens. Of the major party nominees since, say, 1980, how many can we actually say won because of momentum, rather than because they had larger, better organized campaigns from the start? Really, are there ANY other extant examples of what we think happened in 2004 (the nominee rolling over candidates of similar capability because of victories in Iowa and New Hampshire)? And doesn’t this year demonstrate that momentum is rather secondary to the establishment of a good campaign around a candidate that people like, such as Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama? Another way of putting this is that Kerry may have won because of the Iowa momentum in 2004, but it would be a rather unique event in the history of modern primary campaigns, and even if so it says much more about the weakness of his opponents than the contingency of his candidacy.

I guess my point is that the problem with electability issue is even more intractable than it seems. It’s commonly observed now that electability is hard to determine in advance, which is why we should be at least a bit careful about claims that we should prefer one candidate to another because of their chances in November. It’s even worse than that, because we can’t even say all that much (using the tools we’ve been using, anyway) about electability in an election that has already happened. Winning or losing an election really isn’t much better of a determinant of candidate quality than winning or losing a baseball game is determinant of pitcher quality. And it’s doubly unfortunate that we fall into such traps because the language we use to discuss these questions tends to be more dispositional than situational. To return to the counterfactual above, Gary Hart would have lost 42-8 to Ronald Reagan because he was a terrible candidate (dispositional) rather than because he was in a situation where Democrats were unlikely to win (situational).

But then again, that might have saved him some later difficulty.

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Everything Is Good For McCain!

[ 33 ] February 10, 2008 |

Yglesias points out the problems with Ambinder’s claim that “Obama cannot win the states where the majority of Democrats reside”: i.e. it’s a more tendentious way of saying that “Clinton won California,” which I don’t think entitles her to the nomination in itself. But Ambinder goes on to make a straightforwardly illogical assertion:

John McCain’s advisers are probably thinking: woe unto the Democratic nominee who refuses to organize; woe unto the Democratic nominee who appeals to activists perfectly and regular Democrats kinda sorta.

The idea that Obama’s greater appeal to independents and purple-state swing voters makes him a less formidable general election candidate is simply bizarre. Given that the Dems would win New York and California with a Mark Slaughter/Jani Lane ticket, a candidate very well-liked among Democrats isn’t remotely vulnerable there even if primary voters in those states marginally prefer another strong candidate. Meanwhile, his greater appeal to independents and ability to mobilize lower-turnout groups (like young people) has the potential to put states into play that Clinton (who seems strongest in states where the Dems are already a mortal lock) can’t –indeed, this why I think polls showing Obama to be a much stronger opponent for McCain are almost certainly right. (Indeed, I think they understate Obama’s advantage; piling up larger majorities in solidly blue states doesn’t help the Dems in the electoral college.) In theory, it’s possible that the candidate who’s a little stronger in red states would be much more conservative, but in this case that’s not true (which is why Obama has in fact won several blue liberal states, including one in Clinton’s backyard.) For that matter, I’m also not sure why Clinton not spending resources in caucuses she doesn’t think she can win hurts her general election chances, but I always forget that everything is always good for McCain.

To follow-up on Rob’s state-by-state counts, they seem about right. My reasons for thinking that Clinton should still be favored are that 1)The demographics that make Obama a better candidate in the general make Clinton better in the primaries: her older, more female base is more certain to turn out, which makes it harder for Obama to get upsets, and 2)if the delegate count is very close, Clinton has to be favored among the superdelegates. In addition to Wisconsin, to put this beyond the reach of the superdelegates I think Obama needs to pick off one of the big three. Ohio seems like the most likely spot to pick off a state Clinton is expected to win, but a string of victories (Maine tonight would help with the narrative) could create a dynamic that puts the less demographically favorable Texas and Pennsylvania into play.

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Sunday Deposed Monarch Blogging: House Nikloting

[ 4 ] February 10, 2008 |

Niklot, born sometime in the late 11th century, was a chieftain of the Obotrites, a confederacy of Slavic pagan tribes living along the southern coast of the Baltic Sea. The Obotrites and various other northern Slavic tribes were collectively referred to as the Wends. From the establishment of the Holy Roman Empire onward, the Obotrites played an important role in Germanic affairs. The Obotrites also successfully resisted Danish efforts to establish hegemony over the Baltic region.

The German Emperors consistently sought to expand into Wendish territory, and the Wends just as consistently resisted the Germans. In the eleventh century, the growing power of the papacy, among other things, allowed Western Christendom to focus its efforts on doing battle against the infidel, wherever that infidel might be found. This led most notably to a combined Frankish-German invasion of the Holy Land, but also lent ideological purpose to ongoing struggles between Christians and non-Christians in Iberia and the Baltic region. After twenty years of heavy fighting, the Wendish Crusade was launched in 1147, designed to permanently bring Christianity to the Baltic region, and incidentally to expand the lands and power of the Germanic princes. The initial campaign did not succeed, as Niklot successfully resisted a siege of his fortress and ended up buying the Crusaders off. In 1160, however, another campaign managed to catch and kill Niklot, and to disperse the lands of his tribe amongst Saxon lords.

Niklot, however, was survived by a son named Pribislav. After a bitter four year guerrilla campaign that captured or destroyed several Saxon fortresses, Pribislav was restored to power as the Prince of Mecklenburg. Along the way, he had converted to Christianity, and in 1172 he made a pilgrimage along with Henry the Lion to Jerusalem. One of his sons would later participate in the Fifth Crusade. Crusading in the Baltic region would continue at least until the 1386 conversion of Lithuania to Catholicism.

Over time, the rulers of Mecklenburg (they became Dukes in 1347), shed their Slavic origins in favor of German forms. Albert of Mecklenburg ruled Sweden from 1364 until 1389, and for five years ruled both countries with unified title. House Mecklenburg also had some claim to the throne of Norway. The state of Mecklenburg was divided in the 17th and 18th centuries to create Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Mecklenburg-Strelitz. In 1815 the Dukes of Mecklenburg became the Grand Dukes of Mecklenburg, having endured French control for a time. The establishment of the German Empire in 1871 limited but did not eliminate the power of the Grand Dukes, especially in local matters. The Mecklenburgs remained socially and technologically somewhat behind the rest of Germany into the twentieth century.

In Mecklenburg as in the rest of Germany, monarchy did not survive World War I. The Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz committed suicide without issue in 1918, leaving his cousin as the only potential heir. Unfortunately, his cousin had decided in 1914 to join the Russian Army, and renounced any claim to the throne. Just to make sure, the state of Mecklenburg paid Charles Michael (the cousin in question) five million marks in 1921 to further renounce the throne. The Mecklenburg-Schwerin line survived until 2001, when its last heir died and the title Duke of Mecklenburg (arguably) devolved upon Georg Friedrich of House Hohenzollern. The other current claimant of the ducal title is one Georg Borwin, who is related in complicated fashion to the line of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, and who has put forward (with the extinction of the elder Schwerin line) a claim to both Mecklenburgs. Prospects for a return to the throne seem grim. The potential claimants have made no political effort to assert their claims, and hopes for the re-establishment of monarchy in Germany appear quite low. Also, Duke Georg Borwin has displayed little inclination to pursue an actual restoration, either to the Grand Duchy of Mecklenburg or to the thrones of Norway or Sweden. On the upside, however, Queen Juliana of the Netherlands (r. 1948-1996) was a member of House Mecklenburg, and the family remains sufficiently involved in European royal circles to hope for similar such developments in the future.

Trivia: What royal family was deposed in 1960, only to be restored in 2001?

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Wow, Conservatives Really Do Hate McCain

[ 0 ] February 10, 2008 |

Yes, it’s over, but it’s still pretty remarkable that McCain is going to get swept tonight by Mike Huckabee.

On the other side, the Maine caucus tomorrow should be fascinating; Obama absolutely crushed Clinton tonight, and I have to wonder whether it’s going to have an effect on the election tomorrow. If Obama wins Maine, then I think he’s a clear favorite for the nomination, both for momentum reasons and because the delegate advantage is going to start piling up, especially if the victories on Tuesday are as decisive as expected.

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At least she didn’t mention onion rings

[ 0 ] February 9, 2008 |

Saith Ann Althouse [no link, but you know where to find her]:

Really, how bad is it to say “pimped out”? Is it “nappy-headed hos” bad? Did anyone think Shuster was literally calling Chelsea a whore or even making any reference to her womanly virtue? “Pimped out” is a common colloquialism these days. According to the Urban Dictionary, which gives a good read on how young people use words, the connotations having to do with exaggerated fashion and style predominate.

Even if the clear associations with prostitution remain, we often make figurative references to prostitution in speech, and the cause of feminism is not served by requiring special limitations when we’re talking about women. We ought to be able to call a female publicity hound a “media whore.”

Oh, absolutely. Like Ann Althouse, I too look forward to the day when “common colloquialisms” used by “young people” at last supplant the awkward, artificial, and unfairly restricting discourse of the professional news media. If, for instance, Brit Hume were to go ahead and describe Mike Huckabee as a “douchebag,” that would also be perfectly unproblematic, since Urban Dictionary tells us that a douchebag is merely “an individual who has an over-inflated sense of self worth, compounded by a low level of intellegence, behaving ridiculously in front of colleagues with no sense of how moronic he appears.” (Alternately, we learn that the term also refers to “a student or instructor at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.”)

As well, I’m sure that one day soon, Ann Althouse will be there to defend Joe Klein when he describes Obama’s supporters as having given him a “rusty trombone.” After all, we often make figurative references to simultaneous hand/rim jobs in speech, and the cause of polymorphous sexuality is not served by requiring special limitations when we’re talking about presidential candidates.

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