January 26, 2008

Heal Thyself: Clinton supporter Sean Wilentz, on comparisons between Barack Obama and JFK:
Few will disagree that it is very rare for a candidate with as little experience in politics and government as Obama to capture the imagination of so many influential Americans. One way for a candidate like this to minimize his lack of experience is to pluck from the past the names of great presidents who also, supposedly, lacked experience. Early in the campaign, Obama's backers likened him to the supposed neophyte John F. Kennedy. More recently, some have pointed out (as did New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, among others) that Abraham Lincoln served only one "undistinguished" term in the House before he was elected president in 1860.

These comparisons distort the past beyond recognition. By the time he ran for president, JFK had served three terms in the House and twice won election to the Senate, where he was an active member of the Foreign Relations Committee. In total, he had held elective office in Washington for 14 years. Before that, he was, of course, a decorated veteran of World War II, having fought with valor in the South Pacific. Kennedy, the son of a U.S. ambassador to Britain, had closely studied foreign affairs, which led to his first book, "Why England Slept," as well as to a postwar stint in journalism.

(snip)

Historians cannot expect all politicians and their supporters to know as much about American history as, say, John F. Kennedy, who won the Pulitzer Prize for a work of history. But it is reasonable to expect respect for the basic facts -- and not contribute to cheapening the historical currency.
Since it is common knowledge that the Pulitzer Prize won by John Kennedy was for a book actually written by his speechwriter, Ted Sorensen, while his earlier book, which supposedly evidenced how he "closely studied" foreign policy, was a mediocre doctoral thesis re-written by columnist (and Joe Kennedy toady) Arthur Krock, I suppose it would be nice if the Times were to actually find a real historian who could write on this subject.

January 25, 2008

January 24, 2008

According to this LA Times poll, Obama has cut Clinton's lead in the race from 24 to 9 points in just over a month. The other results are predictable: it's a virtual tie on the Republican side, with Giuliani cratering faster than the stock market; both Dems doing as well as the other in head-to-head match-ups with their GOP counterparts; and McCain is the only one who seems competitive right now. Perhaps the two most interesting facts are that there are almost no undecideds in any of the Hillary contests, and that Obama loses about 10% more of the Democratic vote than Clinton, a clear sign that the race-baiting strategy her campaign has followed is working. Each of the Republicans, except for McCain, lose support among the voters, particularly independents, when Barack is the opponent.

January 23, 2008

It's all about KFC... Genius, from one of his Jerry Maguire co-stars:

I never saw a Heath Ledger movie, other than his turn in the forgettable The Brothers Grimm, but the stories of his encounters with non-celebs are heartbreaking to read.

January 22, 2008

One of the nice things about having a Democratic Congress (and having a bankruptcy "reform" measure that was sloppily written) is that we don't necessarily have to repeal bad legislation in order to neuter it. Case in point: the most recent budget appropriates nothing to the Justice Department for audits of schedules and statements filed with the Bankruptcy Court. This means that in those situations where a debtor's income exceeds the median income for his state, which is the standard the 2005 BARF legislation established as the template for determining that a presumption of a bad faith filing exists in Chapter 7, there is no way to independently challenge a debtor's claim of legitimate expenses above and beyond the IRS norms.

Bowing to reality, this week the United States Trustee suspended its auditing of new Chapter 7 cases. Considering how badly underfunded Chapter 7 Trustees are (most of whom consider the work to be pro bono, or a loss leader, for their law firm), the presumption of bad faith rule, which was the most controversial part of the BARF, is, for the time being, a nullity.
Did you know...that Kenyans aren't really black? Me neither.... [link via Daily Kos]
Thirty-five years ago today: A whole bunch o' stuff happened.

January 21, 2008

The Billary Chronicles:
Hillary Clinton tonight:

The facts are that [Obama] said in the last week that he really liked the ideas of the Republicans over the last 10 to 15 years, and we can give you the exact quote.
Well, no, I don't believe she can. But I'd like to see her try. And I'd like to think that her supporters will mind, or even admit it, when it turns out that she can't. There's a difference between saying that a party managed to sell itself as the party of ideas and saying that the ideas were good ones.

The central Republican idea since 1980 has been cutting taxes. And Obama made it clear, in the very same editorial-board interview that the Clintons keep misquoting, that he thinks that idea has been tried and failed.

Update:
Apparently she also re-told the fairy-tale about Obama's voting "present."

Is incurable lying a sexually-transmitted disease?
--Prof. Mark Kleiman, tonight.

I suppose it's Obama's own damn fault; the time to use the Reagan jujitsu is after you win the nomination, and there just aren't a lot of votes to be had in a Democratic primary to be perceived as being pro-Reagan. Still, the Clintons have never had a good rep on that whole "Truth" shtick, and this doesn't help.

As far as the criticism that Bill Clinton is playing too large a role in his wife's campaign, I have to wonder what planet those critics live on. The fact that the former President is taking an active part in his wife's political fortunes is the best reason I can think of for electing Hillary Clinton. The party base still reveres her husband, and the hope that some of his political success might rub off on her seems to be the raison d'etre of her candidacy. It's certainly not her somewhat spotty record in the Senate or her thirty-five years of "experience."
Coming soon to a bookstore near you....

January 20, 2008

The Sunday op-ed section in the local paper of record had a rather light-hearted column (on the increasing death toll in the Rambo films) by John Mueller, who is identified as the holder of the "Woody Hayes Chair of National Security Studies at [The] Ohio State University."



Yes, there is actually an endowed professorship at Columbus named after the late coach.