• on a comment on Some Thoughts on Cegelis over 8 years ago

    From the DCCC:

    The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) serves as the official national Democratic campaign committee charged with recruiting, assisting, funding, and electing Democrats to the U. S. House of Representatives.

    Their job is to place Democrats in the House of Representatives.  I'd generally rather they not do that by involving themselves in contested primaries, but this oft-repeated line that they're not "supposed" to do so is a total red herring.  They're "supposed" to win, by whatever (legal) means necessary.

  • on a comment on Some Thoughts on Cegelis over 8 years ago

    Mistakes aside, you've done a valuable service to the community by providing a constant stream of useful information about the district and the Cegelis campaign.  While you're probably wise to post what you just did, in my personal opinion, your apologies are as unnecessary as Matt's and Chris'.

  • Yup, Tippecanoe sure liked killing Indians too.  A gruesome, beloved pastime of many of our early leaders, I'm afraid.

    I'd vote for James K. Polk, because TMBG had a cool song about him.  Of course, he had it in for the Mexicans.

  • I don't find the Hitler comparison particularly helpful.  If you want to say that someone was absolutely evil, might as well say "the devil" and be done with it; and, unfortunately, the national leaders in the founding generation and its successor generation - including Jackson and Van Buren - were without exception a pretty intensely racist bunch by modern standards.

    But let's not sugar coat things, here.  There's every reason to believe Jackson knew the signers of the Treaty of New Echota didn't have the authority to negotiate on behalf of the Cherokee.  His negotiators used a common trick at the time: find nearly anyone who will mark an "X" on the line, whether or not they can reasonably be said to have the authority to negotiate on behalf of their people - and then (as Van Buren ultimately did) send in the army to enforce the provisions of the treaty.

    Not sure where you get the $68mill figure from, by the way; got a source on that?  I'll have to look it up, but that sounds vastly inflated, I thought it was more like $4-5 million.

    Jackson is also famous for looking the other way while Georgia tried to annex Cherokee lands with the assistance of some heavy duty thuggery by the Dahlonega gold rushers.  This was the subject of the Supreme Court case, which Georgia - not Jackson - lost.  But it was a politically convenient marriage - Jackson's removal policies were supported by Georgia's legal harassment and the gold rushers' thuggery, because it provided some pretty significant motivation for Cherokees to take the best deal they could and get out.  Which, of course, the Cherokee leadership declined to do anyway.

    Not Hitler, no.  But not exactly "honorable" either.  And while much of your comment has some justification, this is bizarre:

    And by the way, Jackson didn't have a crystal ball. He always conducted himself with honor. He most likely had no idea that following Indian removal, America would selfishly act to marginalize the tribes that had been removed.

    That sounds suspiciously like hero worship.  What is your basis for saying he "likely had no idea" that America would marginalize the tribes?  

  • comment on a post Polling Project: Fourth Release over 8 years ago

    It is interesting, though, that amongst supporters, the administration's "throw it all at the wall and see what sticks" approach to explaining their decision has worked.  Even though only 7.4% say "free Iraq," every other explanation provided in support echos one or another of the rationalizations provided by Bush & co. across time (we were attacked first, better there than here, fight terrorism, etc.)  Many are current explanations that Bush still uses now and again as part of the mix.

    It's almost as though we have a core of Americans who trust the President on this issue period, and will just pick out whichever of the shifting explanations sounds best to them.  I.e., "hear what you want to hear, ignore the rest."

  • comment on a post Polling Project: Third Release over 8 years ago

    This is great stuff.  I would counsel being a little more careful about how you discuss the first question, though.  The question didn't ask whether people have "ever" or have "never" followed the recommendations of the Homeland Security dept, which implicitly adds more weight to past actions & small measures.  (Disclosure: I can explain why if anyone cares, but were I polled, I'm almost certain I'd switch "no" to "yes" if the caller added the word "ever" to the question.)

    No complaint about the wording of the question, just the interpretation above.  The US Newswire release was great, and IMHO didn't overinterpret at all.  I think your question gets very well at whether overall people are presently paying any attention to what DHS says.  Clearly, the answer is "no."

  • comment on a post Oregon assisted suicide law upheld over 8 years ago
    Thomas' dissent is different, and a reminder that he's not just a conservative political tool, but something a little more dangerous.

    He implies that the jurisprudence that allows the Attorney General such far reaching power under the CSA is flawed in the first place (he said this more directly in his dissent to Raich).  But he says the current decision is in error because it's inconsistent with precedent on statutory interpretation while skirting the constitutional questions.  So, his dissent is contingent on the fact that the commerce clause and separation-of-powers questions weren't reopened.  Here's a telling quote:

    While the scope of the CSA and the Attorney General's power thereunder are sweeping, such expansive federal legislation and broad grants of authority to administrative agencies are merely the inevitable and inexorable consequence of this Court's Commerce Clause and separation-of-powers jurisprudence.

    The reason I mention this is because Thomas is actually a really fascinating and rather scary character.  He's:

    1.  Likely very extreme, if he ever truly had his way - a "constitution in exile" judge.  These are the words of someone who wants to revisit the scope of the Commerce Clause beyond what the Renquist court was willing to do (we already knew this), and probably wants to reconsider precedent regarding Congressional delegation of legislative authority through the administrative rulemaking process.  A regulatory agency like the EPA might be effectively unable to operate both on federalism and non-delegation doctrine grounds under a Thomas court.

    2.  Very consistent.  Not a conservative tool in the political sense.  Instead, a regressive in a legal sense.

    He's been underestimated, IMHO, and is more dangerous than I think many on the left have been prepared to allow.  It's far past time to put to rest the sense that he's some bumbling follower of a judge that slipped onto the court.  If you go through enough of his dissents, it's clear that this guy has a guiding star.
  • Hmm.  Well, it's an overstatement.  But I can almost sympathize.
  • BTW, why were they calling the Democratic leadership "incompetent?"  Alito?
  • It was sort of wonkish.  Not a regular political speech.  This is part of the reason I liked it, but it doesn't fit the profile of speeches political reporters usually chase.
  • For a while at least, it was the main featured story on cnn.com, until it was supplanted by the Golden Globes.  It's still at the top of the front page.  abcnews.com has it as one of their "top headlines," msnbc.com as one of their three "top stories," cbsnews.com as their top politics story.  I also heard it mentioned on NPR on the way home today.  He's had a pretty substantial impact with this one.

    It was a great speech, by the way.  I'm proud of the way that Gore, the man who should have been president, has become a kind of conscience of the nation since 2000.

  • on a comment on Howard Dean Crushes Wolf Blitzer over 8 years ago
    No, not at all, totally understood.  Actually, let me apologize if my comment sounded like a lecture, it sure wasn't intended that way.  I'd actually be extremely interested in hearing more about your experiences in Cuba, if you've any interest in describing them.  Like I said, I've had friends with first hand experience, but not first hand experience myself from which to draw insights.

    And I believe you on the rum and parties. ;)

  • on a comment on Howard Dean Crushes Wolf Blitzer over 8 years ago
    My experiences are personal.  As far as Cuba goes, Castro, dictator though he may be, has not been embezelling billions into his Swiss bank accounts.  He has been totally committed to building schools and hospitals and functioning infrastructure.  I was encouraged as a US medical student to go anywhere I wanted and talk to anyone I wanted to.  I was encouraged to ask people where their school was, their doctor's office, what kind of job they had, and if I could see where they lived, to ensure it was habitable.  And I did.  Great rum and cigars, by the way, and man those Cubans know how to party.

    I've been gingerly avoiding this conversation, but I'm going to interject something here.

    Cuba has been very careful about managing its image apropos the health care system.  They've been bringing people in with "free access" for decades to help spread the word about their success; I know two folks who had this experience many years apart.  That's fine, there is certainly a level of reality to what such observers see, and I believe strongly that some contact - even if filtered - is better than none.  

    But you must understand that there are subtle, and not so subtle ways to manipulate "free access" where necessary to sustain an untarnished image.

    Dr. Desi Mendoza was tried for spreading enemy propaganda when he revealed to foreign journalists that there was a Dengue epidemic (that didn't officially exist) in Santiago de Cuba.  What's so important in the context of this conversation, however, is not the relatively run-of-the-mill detainment of someone in a totalitarian state for speaking out of turn.  He spoke out because the epidemic wasn't being managed properly.  The principal concern of the authorities in the early stages of the epidemic had been information management rather than public health, since it was a point of pride that Dengue had been eradicated from Cuba.

    My intention is not to dismiss Cuba's "socialist medicine" out of hand, or scorn their investment in health care infrastructure.  The problem is that in a totalitarian context, free access and truth are both something of a mirage.  All the investment in infrastructure in the world doesn't change the fact that impediments to the flow of information are a fundamental block to the effective practice of public health.  When information has to be managed through a propaganda machine, aside from the individual human rights dangers, that management in and of itself diminishes the capability of the health care system to do its job.

    There's an interesting bit of research that was done in the late 90s on the Cuban implementation of socialist medicine, by the way, that is neither rabidly anti-Cuban like most official US government statements, nor uncritical of the official Cuban claims about public health efficacy.  To my knowledge, it was never translated for a popular audience, so it's not a light read.  But if you're interested, e-mail me and I'll shoot off the reference.

  • comment on a post Getting a Sense on the Opposition to Alito over 8 years ago
    we need to stop this geeky, lying freeper

    ...I have to object to that remark.  ;)

  • My concern about that question isn't so much that it's biased, but just that it doesn't carry much meaning.  I'm not sure I'd know how to answer that one, if someone called me and I believed in President Bush's policy.  He claims he wants to bring them home "as soon as possible," too, but without a timetable - tied instead to some kind of progress on the ground.  This leaves the problem: who would answer "keep them there?"  People who are even more hawkish than the President?  Or people who believe in permanent military bases (in which case it's the same as 4b)?  Or would some people supporting the President's policy answer one way and some answer another, depending not on real differences in opinion, but different interpretations of the language?

    I think the clearest distinction you can make that people will understand is between a timetable-based approach, and an approach that is based on certain events happening regardless of how long that takes (events that may take a very long time, and/or never occur.)

    E.g. - this wording is not honed - but something like:

    Should troops be kept in Iraq as long as necessary until the President believes the country is secure, or should a timetable be established for their return?

    With a subquestion about different lengths of a timetable - with "immediate" being one of the options.


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