Posted by Rojas @ 11:20 pm on July 31st 2007

This just in: all candidates doomed

At the beginning of July, John McCain was doomed due to his quarterly fundraising and campaign reshuffle. At mid-month, Obama was doomed because he trailed Hillary in the polls, and Giuliani was doomed because his lead was slipping. Now, Fred Thompson is doomed because his exploratory committee didn’t raise as much money as some people thought it might.

I suppose that it’s no suprise that a story-eager media (and yes, I include the blogosphere in that description) would pounce upon and overplay early election trends. Still…jeeeeeeeez, people. At this stage in the last election cycle, Dick Gephardt was the Democratic frontrunner. And lest ye forget, a month before Iowa 2004, John Kerry’s candidacy was doomed.

Let’s try for some sense of perspective while reporting the trends. I mean, next thing you know, some dingbat will be claiming that Hillary’s doomed, or something.

Posted by Adam @ 12:38 pm on July 31st 2007

Threading the eye of the needle

Byron York quotes a new Gallup poll asking for opinions about named candidates on particular issues.

The only place that a Republican candidate does significantly well is on the ‘War on Terror’, where Giuliani and McCain are close to tied:

  • Giuliani 69
  • McCain 66
  • Clinton 55
  • Obama 53
  • Edwards 48
  • Thompson 42
  • Romney 38

As York points out, in terms of public opinion, McCain’s stronger than he is considered to be in DC; presumably most of America isn’t that interested in McCain’s campaign woes, but just in what they see, so the problems will take a while to filter through to outcomes which most of the electorate care about. Romney’s spent a lot of money, his own and supporters’, to achieve relatively little, although to be fair he’s not aiming at the general population yet, just at a part of the Republican electorate.

The real take-home message here, though, is that Giuliani, or McCain, are facing a struggle even if they won the nomination. Turning a 15 point advantage on terrorism, whilst carrying a lag on nearly everything else, into victory on the national scale, that is threading a needle. Why, it’s almost as if they’d have to increase public fear of terrorism to make that issue a clincher.

Posted by Adam @ 8:31 am on July 31st 2007

Disturbing article description of the day

Last night, the BBC News website’s link to this story was:

Paris Hilton ‘to make singing comeback in futuristic rock musical’

Please God, no.

Posted by Adam @ 8:18 am on July 31st 2007

Bob Gates: a breath of fresh, smart air

Via one of our readers (who knows much about the topics in question), a transcript of Bob Gates addressing the Marine Corps Association. It’s a good read for several reasons; he starts off with some genuinely funny stories (this one is about LBJ at a White House dinner):

Or the time he [LBJ] gave a stag dinner in the White House and Bill Moyers was there and Moyers was a White House staffer seated below the salt, where White House staffers belong. And Johnson asked Moyers to ask the blessing and Moyers started to pray and a few seconds into the prayer, Johnson lifted his said, looked down at Moyers and said, “Bill, I can’t hear you.” And Moyers, without lifting his head, looked and said to the president, “That’s cause I’m not speaking to you.”

He also doesn’t go wildly overboard on claims of being the best in the world, yadda, yadda:

Thus we should never lose sight of the ethos that has made the Marine Corps – where “every Marine is a rifleman” – one of America’s cherished institutions and one of the world’s most feared and respected fighting forces.

A lot of stuff I’ve seen about or to the marines seems to require telling them they’re the best and it’s nice to see the SecDef sticking to a realistic assessment of worth (and, to be fair, I don’t think that anyone would complain at his description of the reputation of the marine corps, which is justifiably strong; persistant claims of being ‘the best’ make me retch, though, given that it’s generally a narrow but unexplained assessment made for encouraging emotional satisfaction through jingoistic assurance).

What’s really interesting and important, however, is Gates’ characterisation of the war effort and what has to be done to win wars like this:

Today, the “three block war” that Commandant Chuck Krulak predicted in the 1990s – where small units would simultaneously conduct combat, stability, and humanitarian operations in urban landscapes – has become a daily reality for American servicemen and women. In these situations, America’s traditional edge in technology, firepower, and logistics provides important tactical advantages, but not the necessary strategic success.

Direct force will no doubt need to be used against our adversaries – ruthlessly and without mercy or apology. But it is also clear that in these kinds of operations, we are not going to kill or capture our way to victory.

Gates also understands the need to pull together with other elements of the US government, where those elements command necessary expertise:

Looking forward, tasks such as standing up and mentoring indigenous armies and police – once the province of Special Forces – are now a key mission for the military as a whole. The same is true for mastering foreign language and civil affairs tasks such as reviving public services and promoting good governance. They have moved from the margins to the mainstream of military thinking, planning, and personnel policies, where they must stay. But as much as the armed forces must be prepared to take on these tasks, the fact remains that much of the necessary expertise belongs in other parts of our government.

So yeah, redefining the way the US conducts war whilst crossing inter-agency boundaries, that’s no easy task let alone when, as he points out, some of the useful capabilities of other agencies has themselves been degraded since the end of the Cold War. On the other hand, the first 6 years of the administration have, in distressingly large part, been characterised by a failure to even recognise what needs be done (instead picking directions from amongst the subset of solutions that remain visible after donning intellectual and ideological blinkers*).

Gates has a big task ahead and, unless he is kept on in the next administration, not that much time to do it. My take, though, is that he’s pointed in the right direction and that is fundamentally important. Anyhow, read the transcript.

*I believe that you Americans call them ‘blinders’.

Posted by Rojas @ 11:49 pm on July 30th 2007

John Roberts and the nuclear option

Earlier this week, Senator Chuck Schumer argued that the Roberts and Alito hearings had involved deliberately misleading statements by the nominees, and that as a consequence the Senate ought to refuse to approve any new administration nominee for the judiciary. One would assume that Schumer was thinking in terms of the lower courts or a possible Stevens retirement. But with the Chief Justice himself now in ill health, a lot of interesting angles suddenly come into play.

It would appear that Roberts will be fine to return to the bench. What, though, if he wasn’t? Bush would certainly nominate someone of similar views to replace him; could the Democrats get away with stonewalling a replacement for Roberts as easily as, say, a replacement for Stevens? Bear in mind that this would likely mean the Supreme Court hearing cases with an even number of justices and no Chief Justice. Seems to me that might carry a political price for the Dems.

Posted by Adam @ 11:16 pm on July 30th 2007

Ted Stevens’ home raided

The home of Ted Stevens, ancient Senator (R) from Alaska, has been raided by the FBI and IRS.

In case any non-US visitors were wondering, this is generally a Bad Thing. The FBI, for example, are notorious for their lack of care when putting any floral arrangements, that they may have disturbed during a search, back together. They are also notorious for their instrumental role in sending evildoers to PMITA Federal Prison.

With the IRS involved, can it be that The Man thinks that Ted ‘Bridge to Nowhere‘ Stevens has been robbing taxpayers at both ends?

Posted by Adam @ 9:06 pm on July 30th 2007

Chief Justice suffers seizure

Breaking wellness news: Chief Justice Roberts has had an unexplained seizure, which led to him suffering a fall. He’s not suffered any lasting damage, fortunately — it has happened once before, without lasting problems — and he’ll be fine for the next session of the Supreme Court.

I’d be a bit freaked out if it were me. Possibly I’d have to reconsider my high-stress and physically demanding lifestyle of computer programming, blogging and listening to the radio.

Posted by Adam @ 8:10 pm on July 30th 2007

Peeve of the day

“Wellness”.

What the hell does it mean?

What exactly was the need for this word? At what point did ‘health’ (or ‘good health’) become insufficiently descriptive?

And don’t get me started on the use of the word ‘solution’ in the IT world.

Posted by Rojas @ 6:09 pm on July 30th 2007

Dissing the DLC

Baffling. Not one single Democratic candidate can be bothered to attend the annual Democratic Leadership Conference event. The organization that catapulted Bill Clinton to stardom is now a pariah within its own party.

Sure, I can understand Hillary ducking out, as she’s vulnerable to accusations of being “too centrist”. Obama? He’s chosen to speak at a middle school instead–and for a candidate who portrays himself as the “candidate of inclusion” to reject dialogue with the center of his own party is frankly a bit irritating. Edwards, who’s trying to run as far to the left as he can–well, there was never a chance at getting him, however much he may have gained from the organization in the past.

But it bears repeating: NOT ONE of the candidates is going. The top three might have lost more than they gained from DLC associations–but can anyone persuade me that the likes of Joe Biden or Chris Dodd wouldn’t have benefitted from having the DLC stage all to himself? In a situation where one is desperately trying to stand out from the field, why not take a chance of this sort? Even given that most Dem primary voters are on the left–NOBODY in the second tier wants to make a play to be the solitary choice for centrists?

Bizarre.

Posted by Rojas @ 5:53 pm on July 30th 2007

Mo can’t fly

Former Daily Show correspondent Mo Rocca, a smart guy who ought to know better, complains about “teachers who clipped his wings.” His complaints don’t appear to involve any actual criticism on the part of the teachers, just a follow-up question related to a project he’d chosen and a difference of opinion on a non-academic matter.

If this is the sort of thing that young Mo considered an obstacle to personal growth, it’s remarkable that he turned out as well as he did. My usual screaming about the culture of self-esteem aside, it seems to me that asking students to reflect on their choices and on the quality of their work is more or less a teacher’s job. It goes without saying that this sort of thing ought to be framed in a way that isn’t deliberately hurtful, of course. On the other hand, at some point in their development kids do indeed need to learn to handle constructive criticism in a rational way.

If a youngster is planning to make an unaided leap from a high place, and isn’t yet capable of maintaining altitude, then a bit of strategic wing-clipping isn’t merely the right thing to do, but the nicest thing as well.

Posted by Adam @ 2:13 pm on July 30th 2007

Tom Bevan, fearless defender of the fairer sex

Tom Bevan feels that Elizabeth Edwards and Michelle Obama are getting a fairer shake than Judy Giuliani and Jeri Thompson:

One of the most remarkable, yet least remarked upon aspects of this year’s presidential race is the disparity in the media coverage of the candidate’s spouses. On one hand, Elizabeth Edwards and Michelle Obama are all sweetness and light, and on the other hand Judy Giuliani and Jeri Thompson are treated as power hungry nuts and you-know-whats.

I am not sure about this. Laura Bush, it seems to me, got more pleasant media coverage than Theresa Heinz-Kerry in 2004, because Laura Bush is easier to like. I confess that I haven’t seen much coverage of Michelle Obama or Jeri Thompson (although Laura put her finger on a potential ‘ick’ issue regarding the Thompson husband-wife team), but how can any sane person be surprised that Elizabeth Edwards does better out of media coverage than Judy Giuliani? I mean, really? Edwards is a pleasant asset to her husband’s campaign even before her sympathetic appeal increased when the inoperability of her cancer became public knowledge. Judy Giuliani and the circumstances of her relationship with Rudy Giuliani, well, that’s a different kettle of fish.

Brad, of course, has long been ahead of the curve on the subject of Judy Giuliani.

Posted by Adam @ 12:37 pm on July 30th 2007

The Ango-US alliance

The BBC have as ‘breaking news’ the fact that Gordon Brown and George W Bush have vowed cooperation.

Well, knock me down with a feather.

I don’t think that there was any doubt that there was going to be a reaffirmation of the Anglo-US alliance; the US is very important to the UK and the US benefits to some extent from strategic alliance with the UK (even if it doesn’t need the UK’s military capability, as such, the UK’s military can work well together with that of the US, which isn’t true of most nations’ militaries, I am informed).

The important thing, surely, is the tone of the relationship and we can’t tell yet how that is going to be; we’ll have to wait until one of the two asks the other to do something.

The president said he found Mr Brown a warm, humorous man, far removed from the “dour Scotsman” image sometimes portrayed by the media.

But did he look into his soul?

UPDATE: Edited a US into a UK. They both begin with U, they both speak English and I have lived in both. Who can tell them apart?

Posted by Adam @ 10:20 pm on July 29th 2007

Passchendaele

The last British survivor of the trenches of the Great War has revisited Passchendaele, at the age of 109, where 250 000 of his comrades died (and over another 200 000 were wounded).

Also interesting are these colour-retouched pictures of Passchendaele.

Never forget, and for good reason.

Posted by Brad @ 8:41 pm on July 29th 2007

neoisolationism

Programming note, I’ll be back in two or three days, though it’ll take probably a full week to get back to fulltime bloggin.

But, I wanted to pass this along. Andrew Sullivan’s Sunday Times article is up, and in it he talks about the reemergence of isolationism in the American political scene:

Obama is taking a gamble that the bubbling discontent with the foreign policy consensus since the end of the cold war – culminating in the invasion of Iraq – might be creating a space for something new in American politics. On the other side of the aisle, Congressman Ron Paul is making the same bet.

Paul has no hope of winning. But his antiwar, isolationist message has catapulted him from oblivion to fourth place among the Republicans in funds on hand – ahead of John McCain. Both Obama and Paul are internet-driven candidacies, crammed with small donations and hyper-enthusiastic volunteers. They are also representative of a budding and clear revival of what can only be called neo-isolationism. And they have the wind in their sails.

I couldn’t agree more. And, in fact, you read it here first, right down to the coinage (though I’m certain somebody else got there first).

My own money quote, since I’m being self-aggrandizing:

…I do believe that this conversation that I’m only giving a very brief sketch of is the central one not just in the Republican primary but for the whole of America, and the world. It is LONG past time that the Republican party took stock of its own direction; the rest of the country already has. It’s not amazing to me that Ron Paul exists in this primary. It amazes me that it’s taken this long for that voice to come out ANYWHERE in modern day Republicanism. It amazes me that there aren’t 5 Ron Pauls up on that stage right now.

I sense the same calm before the lurching storm that Sullivan does, and have been writing about it for a few years now. And remember, it’s still only July. By the time the fall rolls around, I don’t wonder whether enough progress will have been made in Iraq to turn or even mitigate the tide of public opinion–anything is possible, but if you’re putting money on it, there’s only one sane way to bet–I just wonder HOW unpopular the Bushian view of foreign policy will be.

Posted by Adam @ 8:31 pm on July 29th 2007

What is Gingrich’s game?

Gingrich is touting a Clinton-Obama ticket, not to mention talking up Romney, Giuliani and Thompson whilst discarding McCain for having taking positions against those of the base:

The GOP will have three “formidable” choices in Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson, said Gingrich, who is considering whether to get into the race.

Gingrich is ruling out John McCain’s chances among the Republican contenders.

The Arizona senator “has taken positions so deeply at odds with his party’s base that I don’t see how he can get the nomination,” Gingrich said Sunday in a broadcast interview

If positions at odds with the party’s base were all McCain’s problems, Giuliani would be screwed, too. Also, why is Gingrich talking up the guys he presumably would still like to bushwhack? I am guessing that talking up the Clinton-Obama ticket is aimed at scaring the GOP base into donating and getting generally energised, but I don’t see why painting Romney, Giuliani and Thompson with so flattering a light serves his interests unless he’s setting us up for something else.

As an aside, if McCain is toast I’d pick Thompson out of those three if only to screw them for starting so early. Plus, of course, I can’t really support Romney or Giuliani. In any event, I’d far rather McCain recovered to win it.

Posted by Adam @ 12:04 pm on July 29th 2007

Man At Work — videos of the week

I’ve seen Scottish-Australian-American Colin Hay (former frontman of Men At Work) live a couple of times, and it was more than worth the price of admission both times. Here are some videos of him playing solo.

Down Under (with a spoken bit up to about 1:19):

My favourite of the old Men At Work stuff: Overkill

And one of the tunes he’s written since, Beautiful World (from the same set as the Down Under version):

Posted by Adam @ 11:22 am on July 29th 2007

Football triumph for Iraq; the virtues (and pitfalls) of international sport

So, Iraq’s football team have won the Asian Cup, and there is much celebration (including the traditional discharge of firearms into the air).

I often think that the thing that the US really miss out on, given the fact that their main sports don’t have much of an international flavour, is international competition. It can be an extraordinary thing; the rugby World Cup and the last-but-one Ashes cricket series had the whole of England (and, in the case of the cricket, the rest of the UK, too) biting its nails and celebrating together as fantastic sporting competitions went down to the wire. Of course, patriotic or nationalist fervour can get out of hand; from the relatively mild (if distasteful) celebrations of the US 4x100m relay team at the 2000 Olympics* to some of the disgraceful actions of football hooligans (in which regard, unfortunately, the England football team have led the way). If international sport becomes a proxy for war, well, it’s better than being at war, but the sentiments involved are still pretty moronic.

*The US does compete at the highest possible level, and dominate, in much of Track and Field and yet the US public seem relatively disinterested in it apart from at the Olympics (and US TV coverage of the Olympics is pretty poor in any case); I’m not sure why that is.

Posted by Adam @ 8:13 am on July 29th 2007

Cum hoc, ergo propter hoc

The Cum hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacy is that of claiming causation from correlation. Micheal Ledeen has a post on yesterday’s Corner that, it seems to me, struggles to even reach the level of Cum Hoc, ergo propter hoc. In reviewing the statements of two defectors from Islamist violence (one whose buddies tried to blow him up and the other, a significant founder of the Egyptian Islamist movement, who is serving a prison sentence and has had a jailhouse conversion), Ledeen concludes:

Funny, isn’t it, that as the war goes worse for them, they rethink the fundamentals?

Even if the war is going badly for the Islamist nutjobs, which is claimed without support and which, so far as I can see, is hardly clear, it seems to me that the cause of these two ‘defections’ (Ledeen’s word) could well be personal. One got lied to and nearly died and the other is banged up, although I wouldn’t go so far as to claim that those are the cause of the conversions (let alone make a general statement relating to cause).

If we resort to claiming victory in advance of significant evidence that it’s on the way, we marginalise ourselves just as much as the Chicken Littles do. Sure, it’s a throwaway comment but it exposes an underlying assumption that victory is imminent.

Hawks are supposed to be watchful birds, not pigeons with talons.

Posted by Adam @ 7:18 am on July 29th 2007

Arms aid a-go-go

Following the Bush administration’s proposed 20 billion dollars’ worth of military aid to Saudi, it’s been announced that Israel will get a 25% increase in military aid over ten years, leading to a total cost in Israeli military aid of 30 billion dollars over that period (Egypt is up to 13 billion dollars over the ten years). According to the BBC story, this isn’t unrelated to the increase in Saudi aid:

The BBC’s Bethany Bell in Jerusalem says the package is seen as an attempt to allay Israeli concerns over the planned arms deal with Saudi Arabia, reportedly worth $20bn (£9.8bn) over the next decade.

I guess that this is preferable to direct US military involvement — if not the only real choice the administration has, given the current unpopularity of the Iraq mission — but one presumes that Congress are going to chew this all over pretty fine, particularly the aid to Saudi. The rather unique status of Saudi in US foreign policy and the accusations that Saudi is high in the personal estimation of the Bush family (an accusation I don’t buy, personally), will presumably rear their head again. Can the Bush administration carry this through Congress? I can see the increase in aid to Israel (already, I believe, the biggest recipient of US aid in general, although Iraq must be significantly in the lead at the moment) going through, which would be ironic if it really was motivated by a proposed increase in aid to Saudi and other arab nations that didn’t go through.

It’ll be an interesting issue, I think. If Bush can’t get this through, he really is toast; opposition is assembling already. We can hope that at least the silly ‘democracy, the great problem-solver’ rhetoric of the administration is going to fade (because those countries aren’t, with the exception of Israel, you know, democratic).

Posted by Adam @ 2:58 pm on July 28th 2007

The strange case of Mohammed Haneef

Mohammed Haneef, an Indian doctor, was arrested a few weeks ago in Australia, accused of involvement with the Glasgow bombings. It turns out what one of the main guys involved in that was Haneef’s second cousin and Haneef had given him a SIM card from his mobile phone. The case against him wasn’t enormously strong and he was granted bail, wherupon the Australian immigration minister, Kevin Andrews, revoked his immigration status for failiing the ‘character test’, allowing him to be kept incarcerated. Anyhow, the criminal charges were dropped because the case was crap (including misidentifying the location of the offending SIM card by over a hundred miles) and he’s been allowed to leave Australia. He’s still planning to fight for the restoration of his work visa, which seems pretty fair, given that the government appear to have been acting on bad information.

Not the best way for this all to have proceeded, perhaps.

Posted by Adam @ 2:41 pm on July 28th 2007

Headline of the day

Cheney’s heart device replaced“. Go go Robo-Cheney.

Posted by Rojas @ 12:19 am on July 28th 2007

The wheels on the bus go round and round

In the blogosphere, The Crossed Pond is often referred to as “The Bus Driver”–because it’s the blog that takes all the others to school.* Of course, the reality of being an inner-city bus driver can be far more horrifying–not only do you have to deal with excessive sexiness, you must also confront tales of astonishing human shame and degradation.

For whatever reason, the authors of the article in question has decided that the full dramatic effect can only be achieved if the driver reports are read by Seattle’s foremost authors. Give Eric McHenry’s a listen–he totally loses it about seven minutes in.

Posted by Brad @ 4:43 pm on July 27th 2007

The Scott Thomas Row

Not a lot of time to do so myself (back from the monastery on Wed!), but I figured somebody ought to mention the current hysteria about the TNR Baghdad Blogger. It turns out he’s a real person. This is objectionable, apparantly, and all hands in the conservative blogosphere have been called to deck to…well, to post. A lot. Because. ?

I’ve spent half an hour of my very limited online time trying to figure out why I or anybody else should be reading anything any of them have yet posted, and I haven’t come up with a good answer yet. But, I can’t help feel that, in trying, I’ve had some things about the contemporary Republican movement reiterated to me. Everything so far posted about Scott Thomas says miles more about the people doing the baying than about Scott Thomas or TNR, that I can see.

As usual, Sullivan provides all the context you need.

Posted by Rojas @ 1:29 am on July 27th 2007

YouTube: fine for entertainment, bad for debate

Stop the presses: we’ve finally found an issue about which Andrew Sullivan and I disagree.

Sullivan more or less calls the Republicans old fuddy-duddies for waffling over whether to participate in the September YouTube debate. He notes that Giuliani has already ducked out and that Mitt Romney isn’t fond of the idea either. Money quote from Romney:

“I think the presidency ought to be held at a higher level than having to answer questions from a snowman,” he said in an interview yesterday.

Well, here’s the thing: Romney is right. (more…)

Posted by Rojas @ 11:40 pm on July 26th 2007

Big Brother needs a new pair o’ shoes

Bob Weeks, whose Wichita Liberty is one of the most consistently excellent Libertarian blogs out there, notes that the Kansas state government has once again reversed itself on gambling. The state, which at one point endorsed a neo-Christianist position opposing gambling of any kind, has edged away from that position incrementally over the last two decades, and has recently endorses the operation of slot machines and other casino games at some specific racetracks–provided, of course, that all the games are owned by the state.

Bob nails the rationale for the switch:

More importantly, what has changed this year that would cause the state to allow us to gamble in casinos? What has happened that would cause this activity, formerly considered a vice by the state, to be allowed and even desired?

The answer is simple: the anticipation of millions of dollars in new revenue for the state to spend. It is for that reason that the legislature and governor are willing to let the people gamble in casinos.

They changed their mind cheaply, too. The amount of revenue it is estimated casinos would bring to the state is barely more than one percent of the state’s total spending.

There are indeed a few legislators out there who have genuine moral objections to gambling. These would be the ones who continually and consistently attempt to eliminate all government-sponsored gambling–state lotteries included. When a legislator expresses an objection to the legalization of private gambling while supporting state-sponsored gambling, however…well, they’re you’re looking at a monopolist, pure and simple.

And should you hear even a word about “morality” from such a person, respond with a swift kick to the softest, dangliest portion of his or her anatomy.

Posted by James @ 7:37 pm on July 26th 2007

Houston… `;’hic’;`…We have a problem.

It seems a panel investigating Lisa Nowak’s little foray into the little world of Amy Fisher has found that Edwin Eugene (Buzz) Aldrin, Jr. may not be the only one to earn that nickname, but for another reason.

Aviation Week has posted a piece on their website, which, if true, might cause further heat for an already defensive NASA.

Space Shuttle Endevora

It may be that it is not just the astronauts that are bellying up to the bar. It was only a couple of weeks ago that this story was buying the rounds. Seemed NASA’s sign makers forgot the name of their own orbiter. Let’s be fair though, it’s not like these guys are rocket scientists or anything.

Posted by Adam @ 4:11 pm on July 26th 2007

Obama bites back

Obama hit back against the Clinton spiel that he’s prepared to meet with the bad guys without a tough enough approach. Obama said:

“Nobody expects that you would suddenly just sit down with them for coffee without having done the appropriate groundwork. But the question was, would you meet them without preconditions, and part of the Bush doctrine has been to say no,” he said.

“You’ll have to ask Senator Clinton what differentiates her position from theirs,” Obama added.

That was my read on what he said (personally, I think that it’s the sane position and Clinton was making a cheap shot if that is the position that Obama really has) but I didn’t hear the debate so I don’t know whether that’s what Obama was really thinking.

MSNBC just reports that Clinton has hit back a bit; before we cut away from Tucker Carlson to see Michael Vick’s lawyer say that his client is innocent, Carlson was saying that Obama should shut up because he thinks that Hillary is winning. Maybe that’s true — although I don’t think that it’s the result of logical thought, if she is — but I think that Obama pretty much has to go for Hillary because Hillary’s out in front.

In other news, a really important question is “who gets Edwards’ votes if Edwards doesn’t last?” I think that Obama would be favourite to get more of them than Clinton, although that’s just a feeling (I don’t have any data to support it).

Posted by Rojas @ 11:50 am on July 26th 2007

Like it or not, the doctor will see you now.

As it has become customary to complain about the politicization of science under the Bush administration, I figured now might be a time to raise a red flag on a converse problem–the medicalization of politics.

A major study released today has found that obesity is contagious. It’s possible that I’m jumping the gun here, but it seems to me that the groundwork is being laid here for federal policy intervention against this “epidemic disease”. If the past is prologue, we can expect these interventions to manifest themselves in reduced choices and higher prices.

There seems to be a real trend underway to “medicalize” social problems through the declaration of such things as genocide and gun violence as “public health crises.” This winds up being a way in which social control is expanded into areas in which the public would not otherwise welcome it. I don’t know that this is wise from a medical perspective–once people come to identify medical therapy as an unwelcome intruder rather than a desirable service, they may seek it less often.

Posted by James @ 4:15 pm on July 25th 2007

Lancet Iraq death toll study full of holes?

Michelle Malkin may be the result of Ann Coulter, Lou Dobbs, and Lucy Liu getting beamed down to exactly the same coordinates, but this article she has posted on her website today is rather interesting. I personally know about as much about statistics as I do about knitting tea cozies (well, that may be over the top, but I am not talking about it), so I was hoping maybe Adam or some other statistics wonk here might shed some light on the merits of David Kane’s commentary on the Lancet death toll study.

Posted by Rojas @ 4:06 pm on July 25th 2007

Churchill smoked

Ed Morrisey has an intelligent, nuanced take on the firing of Ward Churchill by the University of Colorado.

The actual reasons for the firing–Churchill’s resume lies and distortions of the truth in his research–seem sufficient to justify his dismissal, though Morrisey is correct that the political right probably made a bigger bogeyman of Churchill than his stature ever merited.

For me, Churchill’s biggest academic sin wasn’t his post-9/11 comments, but his support (primarily in his 1996 book, ironically titled “A Native Son”) for an imbecilic and ambiguous movement to “give back the land” to American Indians. This idea, which has obtained truly bizarre currency in the high school and college debate communities, manages to combine all the worst aspects of slavery reparations, American Indian stereotypes, and generic white guilt into one neat little package.

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