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Archive for January, 2006

QDR

[ 0 ] January 26, 2006 |

AG is doing some good work on the QDR. Pay attention.

Push Them into the Sea

[ 0 ] January 26, 2006 |

Shorter Ed Morrissey:

Israel should respond to the democratic success of Hamas by pushing all the Palestinians into the Jordan or the Mediterranean. That’ll teach ‘em to elect the wrong folks.

Instapundit characterizes Morrissey as “depressed”. Do depressives often advocate genocide?

Old Boy Network

[ 0 ] January 26, 2006 |

Wally points out the obvious:

espn’s Michael Smith explains why the failure to fill any of the eight vacancies in the NFL with a minority is not simply racism. see, as he explains it it’s because in the nfl it’s a matter of who you know. so it’s not racism in refusing to hire qualified minority candidates because they didn’t hire qualified white guys either! gms generally hired their friends (or almost themselves, in the case of the buffalo bills). i would hope that anyone with a keen ear for gender/racial inequity would have a bullshit meter that goes off whenever someone explains that it’s a matter of social networking, not deliberate exclusion. what a very old and tired excuse for a lack of equity. if the old boys’ club is all white (and all boys!), it’s racist. we dogs are notorious for our sense of smell but surely this smells rotten to you naked apes too?

Which reminds me of something I once wrote about Charles Murray.

… and speaking of Charles Murray, it’s disappointing yet predictable that Lord Saletan doesn’t even entertain the possibility that differences in reactions to violence on the part of American men and women might be cultural, rather than genetic. I suppose acknowledging that would make it harder for him to write his human nature column.

Send Them to Europe

[ 0 ] January 25, 2006 |

From the appropriately dubbed Machiavelli’s Cat, a solution of Swiftian magnitude.

Reproductive Freedom Roundup

[ 0 ] January 25, 2006 |

–Maha points out that Eyal Press’ intermittently interesting NYT Magazine article about his abortion provider father ends on with a clinker: his embrace of the countermobilization myth. And just to make sure he fulfilled his quota of “let’s pretend that anti-choice policies are really in the interests of reproductive freedom” contrarianism, he also repeats the “overturning Roe will return the issue to the states” nonsense. As Maha patiently explains, there’s nothing wrong with his argument that finding a shred of evidence wouldn’t help. She also has an excellent post demonstrating that–contrary to the Will Saletans trying to infer a huge pro-life groundswell from the election of George W. Bush–that public opinion on abortion has been remarkably stable for decades, with a slight pro-choice trend.

–A terrific post by Ampersand providing further details about why, in practice, pro-life policies fail even on their own terms. Ampersand sums up the available choice accurately:

Which brings me to my third question. In a system that forces us to choose between one or the other, which is better: 700,000 murders potentially prevented, or 700,000 murders not prevented plus an official statement calling abortion murder?

I don’t know what Xon’s position is. But the pro-life movement as a whole clearly favors the latter policy. And I find that incomprehensible. Putting abstract principle above 700,000 lives doesn’t seem like a supportable position, to me, and certainly undermines the pro-life claim to be motivated only by caring about what happens to babies.

This is correct. The actual set of policies offered by most American pro-lifers are completely indefensible, even if you think that protecting fetal life is more important than women’s rights. Criminalization is a highly ineffective and inequitable means of deterring abortion (affluent women will get their safe abortions irrespective of the legal regime, and many poor women will inevitably resort to illegal ones) and the other reactionary policies that are generally bundled with abortion regulation significantly increase abortion rates. There’s another interesting element to Ampersand’s post, which is one of the problems with applying simple abstract economic analysis to politics. I’ll talk more about this when I finally get to discussing Gerry Mackie’s work, but economic analyses of politics generally treat policy preferences as independent, when in fact in real politics policy preferences tend to be predictably correlated with other preferences. It is true that–as a matter of formal logic–there is no reason why people can’t support criminalizing abortion while supporting wide access to birth control, rational sex ed, and subsidized child care (and in Europe this isn’t uncommon.) But in the real world of American politics, most people who support the first policy don’t support the other ones, with the result that pro-choice polices both better protect women’s autonomy and lead to fewer abortions.

Nice Guy Eddie, R.I.P.

[ 0 ] January 25, 2006 |

Chris Penn passed away last night.

Casey: Anything Santorum Can Do I Can Do Too!

[ 0 ] January 25, 2006 |

I am on the record of being highly skeptical of Robert Casey Jr.’s claims to be a staunch progressive who happens to be extremely reactionary on women’s rights, but I was also open-minded. Well, just like Ricky “Five Angels” Santorum he’s endorsed the arch-reactionary-on-every-conceivable-issue Sam Alito for the Supreme Court. That’s enough; Casey should not be the Democratic nominee. Chuck Pennacchio doesn’t support the right-of-Scalia Alito, and he deserves the support of Pennsylvania Democrats.

…it’s worth noting as well that Harry Reid–an actually progressive pro-life Democrat–is strongly opposed to Alito, and Russ Feingold will be casting his first vote ever against a Supreme Court nominee. Alito–Scalia or Thomas without even a libertarian streak–will probably the most reactionary Supreme Court justice in over a half-century, and the idea of someone who endorses him being the Democratic candidate for Senate in a state carried by both Gore and Kerry is unacceptable.

…in comments, Susie Madrak notes that another progressive, Alan Sandals, is running in the primary. Definitely check him out too; I don’t know enough to claim whether he or Pennacchio would be preferable.

What’s Worse than MAD?

[ 0 ] January 24, 2006 |

Really, really interesting post by Brad Plumer on a project by Daryl Press and Keir Lieber to determine whether MAD, or Mutual Assured Destruction, still applies to the US-China and US-Russia relationships. They conclude that China and Russia cannot be confidant of maintaining a second strike capability against the US. It would be wrong to say that I’m surprised, but I hadn’t fully thought through the implications of the problem before reading Plumer’s post.

One caveat that I have (not having read the study I can’t fully evaluate it) is that a second strike capability doesn’t have to be absolute, or even probable. If, say, there is a 40% chance that China will be able to launch 5 nuclear missiles at the United States, then the expected utility of a first strike by the US is pretty goddamn low. Try to imagine what kind of foreign policy goal would be worth the incineration of 15 million or so Americans; it’s pretty hard. I’m also kind of doubtful about the likelihood that the US could track down every Russian boomer before they had a chance to launch, but Lieber and Press are both excellent analysts, so I’m sure they’ve done good work.

A second caveat regards the ability of China or Russia to strike US allies. While the Chinese have only a few missiles capable of reaching the US, they have plenty that can hit closer targets. I doubt, again, that an administration could come to the conclusion that a successful first strike was worth the destruction of Tokyo, Warsaw, Seoul, or New Dehli. However, to the extent that the analysis relies on the command and control centers of Russia and China rather than on their actual weapons, Lieber and Press may have that covered, as well.

The US has a number of advantages over our nuclear competitors. Our strategic bomber forces can deliver warheads with little notice. Ohio class boomers can fire extraordinarily accurate ballistic missiles from hidden position with extremely short flight plans. I doubt that the missile defense could actually do anything important, but it probably wouldn’t hurt in the case of an actual shooting war.

What does this mean? Well, clearly China and Russia are not worried about a US attack. Building more nuclear missiles is very cheap, compared to other ways of projecting power. That neither seem to be taking the US seriously as a nuclear threat indicates that they are paying a lot of attention to intentions, rather than to capabilities. Eisenhower was perhaps quite correct to suggest that the only thing worse than losing a nuclear war would be to win one.

Lexblogging: The Kentucky Theater

[ 0 ] January 24, 2006 |

Lexington is blessed with the Kentucky Theater, an institution which would compare well with most of the best theaters in Seattle. The Kentucky Theater has two large theaters, each nearly as big as the downstairs theater at the Varsity or the big old theater at the Guild 45th. The Kentucky Theater is not quite as well appointed as its cousins in Seattle, but it has two other factors in its favor. First, the cost of a regular film is $6.50, and a matinee $4.50. Moreover, the theater screens matinees every day, rather than holding to an afternoon schedule on weekdays. Second, the Kentucky Theater sells beer. It’s in a plastic cup, but goddamn, it’s beer.

It’s almost enough to make me forget that I have to wait four months to get movies like Broken Flowers.

In any case, I saw Brokeback Mountain on Saturday at the Kentucky Theater. I was pleased. I thought that the movie was very strong, including the performances by the principles. What impressed me the most was how Ang Lee used automobiles to convey time and socioeconomic status. From the moment that Jack drives up in his ancient, busted up pickup truck to the end, when Ennis’ daughter arrives at his station wagon in a new sportscar, the cars give us a roadmap to Jack and Ennis’ lives. The film isn’t perfect, although I didn’t have any problem with the way in which Jack Twist met his end; it is left ambiguous enough in the film (if not in the story) to leave us wondering whether Ennis has simply projected his own terrors onto a tragic event.

In other news, Mickey Kaus is a hack. Here’s some friendly advice, Mickey; admitting you’re moving the goalposts while continuing to radically understate the film’s likely take and, in the end, blaming the success of the film on its marketing campaign doesn’t actually mean that you have integrity. The shelf life on too-clever-by-half “liberal” contrarians has run out…

There Is A Blowjob Epidemic!

[ 0 ] January 24, 2006 |

I know it’s only January, but still, it seems pretty likely that Fred Barnes’ new Bush hagiography will be the worst book released by a major press this year. How bad is it? It’s a little too hackish for the extremely stringent standards of the Conservative Book Club! And, really, that makes sense. Given Barnes’ long-standing history of defining conservatism as being in 100% accordance with whatever policies George W. Bush is advancing at a given moment (even if it contradicts the policy Bush was advancing last week which Barnes also felt was optimally conservative, or if it is a policy that no conservative would have defended prior to Bush taking office), who would want to read the thing? I mean, Hugh Hewitt can only buy so many copies.

Google, Swiftly

[ 0 ] January 24, 2006 |

Chuckle.

Students When They’re Paid, Workers When They’re Fired

[ 0 ] January 24, 2006 |

NYU has fir…, er, “terminated the fellowships” of striking TAs. (I’m not sure why they’re being terminated; after all, they’re not employees, so presumably their strike cannot affect undergraduate teaching in any way. Strange.) Information about the Hardship Fund for the TAs can be found here.

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