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Archive for July, 2005

[ 0 ] July 15, 2005 |

Friday Cat Blogging. . . Stromboli


Selig: We Must Crush the Dominican Republic

[ 0 ] July 14, 2005 |

This really seems out of line:

After saying he’ll be playing for the Dominican Republic at the World Baseball Classic, it appears that Alex Rodriguez doesn’t have a say in choice of teams.

Shortly after Rodriguez told that he would “make the Dominicans feel proud,” Bud Selig told Rodriguez that it’s a commissioner’s decision, Newsday reported.

I find Rodriguez’ decision mildly curious, given that he was born and has been raised in the United States, but he holds dual citizenship and it seems fitting that the decision on which country to represent should lie with him. Exactly how far should Selig’s discretion extend, and what kind of decision rule (other than player choice) should be implemented?

My answer, of course, is that Selig’s authority shouldn’t extend beyond the end of his nose, but that’s a debate for another day.

Run Straight Down

[ 0 ] July 14, 2005 |

Apparently the ratings for Tucker Carlson’s heavily promoted, unwatchable MSNBC wankfest started off badly and got steadily worse. I’m sure this won’t persuade any network execs that there are any options besides recycling a self-impressed conservative hack in prime time….

"Thank goodness he’s drawn attention away from my shirt."

[ 0 ] July 14, 2005 |

Not that I can actually celebrate any person’s injury, but a fine day for Yankee-haters. Chien-Ming Wang “Computers” is going on the DL, possibly out for the season, on the same day as Bob Klapisch correctly noted that he’s kept him in the race. Even more amusingly, on Friday in Fenway the Yankees are apparently going with the pitching-like stylings of Mr. Tim Redding. Not only does Redding have a lifetime ERA over 5, but this year after 30 innings he’s sporting a nifty 9.10 ERA–and this in San Diego, a park where runs are roughly as common as supermodels at a Star Trek convention. Next up: Dave LaPoint.

In fairness to the Yankees, though, who could have predicted that Pavano and Wright would get hurt?

And yet somehow you can see the bastards somehow winning 3 out of 4…

LGM Baseball Challenge, Season 2

[ 0 ] July 13, 2005 |

Congrats to Erik Loomis on his glorious, come-from-behind victory in the Lawyers, Guns and Money/ESPN Baseball Challenge.

The game resets after the All Star Break, so let me lay down the challenge once again. Those who would presume to test their baseball prognostication ability against the gentlemen of LGM should go to the Baseball Challenge page, register, then join the “Lawyers, Guns and Money” league. The password is “zevon”. Registration is free, as is the game.

Fox News: Give Rove a Medal

[ 0 ] July 13, 2005 |

You just knew that the difficult spot Karl Rove finds himself in would put a fair bit of stress on the already highly elastic boundaries of right-wing justificatory postmodernism. Sane people don’t try to predict the precise contours of such an exercise (if you twist your brain into such a position, you run the risk it’ll never return to normal), we just wait with a sense of dread and fascination to see what they come up with. Lightweights like Jonah Goldberg and David Brooks are willing to please, but their minds still resemble their original human form to be up to the task before us. Bring in the big guns: John Gibson.

If I were a touch more paranoid and/or narcissistic, I’d think John Gibson of Fox News was an invention of my enemies–an unholy and unnatural creation designed and programmed to say precisely those things most likely to make my head explode. After the Olympics-bombing connection drivel, I thought he’d have to rest up a bit before he had the energy to try anything as advanced as this. To think I was naive enough to think the Brit “Time to Buy” Hume was the closest thing to the personification of the black, black soul of Fox News. Hume’s staggeringly cold-blooded greed is so vastly preferable to what Gibson has to offer. I don’t know how I ever thought they were in the same league.

Speaking of wingnuttery making people’s heads explode, note that the proprietor of Axis of Evel Kneivel has returned from his vacation. Humor, righteous indignation, frustration–it’s in there!

It does me great pain. . .

[ 0 ] July 13, 2005 |

when idiots misunderstand the Battle of Guadalcanal.

Wretchard, at the Belmont Club, is a moron:

Bin Laden understood and accepted that American logistics, technology and science would be superior to his own. What he was less prepared to believe was the possibility that their fighting spirit would be equal or greater than his. Sixty two years ago the Imperial Japanese Navy fought the USN for three straight days and nights in the waters surrounding Guadalcanal, from November 12-15, 1942. Both sides fought at point-blank range in some cases. Two USN Admirals, Scott and Callahan, died in a single night. Still the IJN and USN came on. Only after the USS Washington sank the battlecruiser Kirishima on November 15th did the Japanese break off. But it was not the material loss that shocked the Japanese: losses were about even on both sides; it was the realization that USN would not give up.

So much is wrong with this; Wolcott does an effective job of demolishing the hyper-masculinity of Wretchard’s argument. Let’s be frank, if Al Qaeda were given the option of fighting Americans by Marquess of Queensbury rules on an open field in the middle of Afghanistan, they’d leap at it. Winning a war, in spite of what the boys at Belmont think, is not about having a larger set of balls.

Anyway, I’d like to challenge the empirical assertion made above about the naval battles surrounding Guadalcanal. Wretchard would like us to believe that the USN and the IJN clashed without decisive result, but that the Japanese gave up after coming to understand the US “will to fight.”

Would it surprise you to discover that this is not a plausible interpretation of the empirical evidence?

First, the naval battles around Savo Island all happened at night, because US air power dominated during the daylight hours. Surprisingly, this had nothing to do with will; the US possessed more operational aircraft carriers and a local airfield. The battles in question happened between November 12 and November 15. In the first major action, a large group of US cruisers and destroyers met a Japanese task force and turned it back with heavy losses on both sides. The central achievement of the Americans was to heavily damage the Japanese battlecruiser Hiei. Without US air superiority, however, the Hiei would have escaped. American material supremacy carried the day, and the Japanese scuttled Hiei after repeated air attacks.

Two nights later, the Japanese sent another task force to bombard Henderson Field. This force included the battlecruiser Kirishima, two heavy cruisers, and a number of destroyers. The Kirishima was built in 1914, had eight 14″ guns, and was lightly armored, like most battlecruisers. To oppose this force, the United States deployed the battleships Washington and South Dakota. Both of these ships were larger than the Kirishima, carried 9 16″ guns (of a much newer vintage than the weapons on the Kirishima) and had been commissioned in 1941 and 1942, respectively.

In short, it wasn’t a fair fight. The US deployed two modern fast battleships, each of which alone should have been able to destroy the Japanese ship without difficulty. This is as it should be; only the weaker side wants a fair fight. The stronger side relies upon its technical and material superiority. In this case, the Japanese did quite well. The Kirishima scored repeated hits on the South Dakota, and heavily damaged the latter before falling victim to the guns of the Washington.

The Japanese withdrawal had nothing whatsoever to do with a realization of the manliness of the US Navy. It had everything to do with the loss, two nights apart, of half the battlecruiser strength of the IJN. It also had something to do with the realization that the USN possessed clear and insurmountable material superiority in the area.

Here’s something to remember; only fascists believe that will, courage, and testosterone win wars. Sensible people think that it requires better weapons than the other side.

UPDATE: Jackdaw in comments and Dan Nexon of Duck of Minerva point out, of course, that doctrine, training, and morale also play a critical role in victory. My error, which is particularly bizarre given that my dissertation is about military doctrine. . . Anyway, the general point still holds, which is that military success comes to quality military organizations fighting with quality weapons, not to the side most adept at chest-thumping.

The "Falling Revenues" of "Liberal Hollywood"

[ 0 ] July 13, 2005 |

Via Roger,screenwriter John Rogers definitively demolishes the second half of the above oft-repeated bit of conservative received wisdom. In addition, why don’t we look at Glenn Reynolds’ claim about Hollywood’s “falling revenues.” Just for the hell of it, why don’t we look at some actual data about the “falling revenues” of “liberal Hollywood”:

Box Office Revenue, domestic, change from previous year:

2004: +2.5%
2003: +0.2%
2002: +9.0%
2001: +9.8%
2000: +2.9%
1999: +7.2%
1998: +9.2%

You get the idea. Revenues have been slightly off so far this year, but 1)it’s a long year, and 2)if there is a decline, it will be the first one since 1991.

So, we are left to conclude that either 1)Hollywood has become more “out of touch” with people since January 1 2005 (and was a bastion of profitable conservative pandering as recently as 2002), or 2)Glenn Reynolds is a hack who makes stuff up in accordance with his reactionary political biases. I report, you decide!

Telling the Miller’s Tale

[ 0 ] July 13, 2005 |

As Atrios notes, this Salon article is just awful. If I can highlight one particularly illogical argument:

Compelling a reporter to reveal his or her sources to the police turns that reporter into a police agent, and that’s not acceptable, even in unsavory circumstances like these. No reporter can be expected to check out the legality or ethics or motivations of all sources in advance. All sorts of surprising people talk to reporters when they probably shouldn’t, for all sorts of personal and political and psychological reasons. If journalists can only receive confidential information from the saintly and the pure of heart, the entire enterprise might as well become “The View.”

The most obvious problem is that this logic, if taken seriously, would mean that the government could never compel anyone to reveal information. Anybody who has information about criminal activity, in this sense, is acting as a “police agent.” Someone may tell anybody, not just a reporter, things about criminal activity, for a variety of reasons. Since nobody thinks that an ordinary citizen can’t be compelled to reveal this information, this argument gets O’Hehir nowhere. And then, to make things worse he drags in a ridiculous red herring about relying on “the saintly and pure of heart.” To state the obvious, there’s a rather expansive middle ground between “saint” and “breaking federal law,” one that in fact most of us occupy. You can give all sorts of information to reporters, for a variety of bad motives, with an expectation of confidentiality so long as you aren’t breaking the law.

The fact that so many self-serving and specious arguments are advanced to defend a reporter’s privilege does not, of course, mean that some federal protection isn’t desirable; it probably is. But I am becoming completely convinced that the kind of nearly categorical privilege that would be necessary to protect Miller is not a good policy; I certainly have yet to hear a decent argument for it. (And it’s also becoming obvious that I did the right thing by not re-upping my Salon subscription.)

As an addendum, this is a really good point–the holier-than-thou stance of the NYT is relatively cost-free, since (unlike Time) they were not facing any financial penalty.

…to follow up on a discussion in comments, I will concede that O’Hehir gets one thing right:

Even if you believe that Judith Miller is nothing more than “a shill for the Bush administration” (a Florida reader) or “a co-conspirator in a government coverup” (a Missouri reader), she’s still entitled to the same constitutional protections as Greg Palast and Amy Goodman.

Yes. Miller has exactly the same constitutional right to refuse to respond to a subpoena as Palast and Goodman: none whatsover.

Random Seattle Thoughts

[ 0 ] July 13, 2005 |

In my last days as a resident. . .

For those not native, Seattle lacks good mass transit. We have no trains. Part of the reason for this lies with the fatal terror of any reasonable taxation.

Nevertheless, Seattle approved a monorail a couple years ago. This was supposed to link Ballard and south Seattle, a noble goal and a good start. Unfortunately, the monorail has run into difficulties, and now faces the prospect of oblivion.

Why is this?

I think that Seattle lacks sufficient corruption to maintain a major public works project. Organized crime hasn’t played a big role in Seattle politics since the late 1960s, when the police could apparently execute anyone they liked (See McQ, which is a terrible movie but a nice glimpse of late 60’s and early 70’s Seattle). We like to think of corruption as a phenomenon that limit government activity, and not as one that enables it. Yet, let me suggest that if Seattle were MORE mobbed up, then whatever construction agency won the bid for the monorail would have significant contacts with organized crime. These organized crime organizations would have the coercive capacity necessary to intimidate property owners along 2nd Avenue (one of the premier opposition groups) into terrified submission. The monorail would then proceed without difficult, with much of the public funding ending up in mafia hands. Yet, the monorail would be built, and Seattlites would have mass transit.


Dominican Republic

[ 0 ] July 12, 2005 |

Alex Rodriguez has decided to play for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic.


I’m probably missing someone, but this is what the Dominican team looks like to me:

DH: David Ortiz
1B: Albert Pujols
2B: Alfonso Soriano
SS: Miguel Tejada
3B: Alex Rodriguez
RF: Moises Alou
CF: Vladimir Guerrero
LF: Manny Ramirez
C: Miguel Olivo (!?)
Util Inf: Adrian Beltre
Util Inf: Aramis Ramirez
Util Inf: Luis Castillo
SP: Pedro Martinez, Bartolo Colon
RP: Damaso Marte, Luis Vizcaino, Julio Mateo, Octavio Dotel

Catcher is the weak spot; I may be missing someone. Guerrero might be a bit stretched at center, and I might move Ramirez, Castillo, or Beltre into the infield so that Soriano could be moved to center. I might also be forgetting about some good Dominican center fielders.

All in all, though, this is an impressive team. A team assembled of US born players would have a lot more depth at pitching, and obviously a better catcher, but I’m not sure it would be competitive overall. A-Rod makes a pretty huge difference, and it’s not a stretch to argue that, with Barry Bonds still on the DL, Ramirez, Guerrero, Pujols, A-Rod, and Tejada are each better than any US born players at their respective positions. Indeed, I wouldn’t have cause to quibble with a list of the ten best players in baseball today that included all of them. . .

Suicide Bombing

[ 0 ] July 12, 2005 |

Robert Pape has an article on suicide bombing in the new APSR (What? Something interesting in the APSR? The hell you say!). Kevin Drum publishes an extract of an interview with Pape here, and Dan Drezner has a longer discussion here. The argument seems pretty interesting, as it puts to bed the notion that suicide bombing is at all connected with any particular religion, and instead suggests that suicide bombings tend to correlate with foreign military occupations that involve religious differences. Pape also suggests that suicide bombings are reasonably effective ways to get the attention of Western democracies.

Read Drezner and Drum for more. Let me say, however, that I am very happy that reasonable, rational sounding genocidal maniacs do not populate comment threads here at LGM.

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