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A Common Thread


In times of crisis, people often retreat to militarism, nationalism, and extreme respect for authority. This is part of why an aggressive foreign policy is so counterproductive; every time we rattle our saber at Iran, for example, we empower the theocracy and the establishment government and hurt the resistance. Our showy disdain for Russia, the…

Sandhill Crane Pair, Wander Lake, Fairbanks

Autumn Cranes


The surest sign of autumn is when the Sandhill Cranes arrive at Creamer’s Refuge, staging for their fall migration to the Southwest U.S. Sure, the leaves are just starting to turn. We haven’t had a really hard frost yet. But the Cranes are staging, and very soon, some morning when the wind is out of…

Chart by Tom Dougherty, Practical Politicking

Watching the Elephants Eat Their Own


Conservative blogger and policy wonk Tom Dougherty recently discovered and reported that the Tea Party is a fraud. He wonders aloud is the Tea Party might not just be a Ponzi scheme. Dougherty raises two questions that interest WC. First, he thoroughly documents that 85-90% of political contributions to organizations like the Tea Party Leadership…

Whimbrel, Denali Highway

In Defense of Birding


Sunday morning, August 24, 2014, WC will lead a tour of “Birding Hotspots” in Fairbanks, as a part of the annual Sandhill Crane Festival. Yes, it’s a shame they can’t find someone better qualified to lead it, but there it is. Perhaps the birding tour is entrusted to WC’s feeble skills because, really, there aren’t many species in…

Daniel Ellsberg, 2014, courtesy of WikiCommons

Edward Snowden in Perspective: Daniel Ellsberg


Edward Snowden isn’t going away. The recent extended article in Wired demonstrates that. To provide some perspective on Snowden, WC is revisiting earlier instances of leaks of classified documents. We’ll start with Daniel Ellsberg, the RAND Corporation employee who leaked The Pentagon Papers to the press. Daniel Ellsberg was a highly respected military analyst at the RAND Corporation. He was…

91% of the time, the candidate that spends the most wins

Department of Redundancy Department: Follow the Money


It’s a truism in political science that money alone doesn’t determine outcomes of elections, except when it does. Message matters, too. Except when it is buried in money. Prof. Steven Levitt performed a seminal study of repeat meetings of the same Congressional candidates over time. Levitt found that changes in campaign spending produce negligible changes in electoral outcomes when…