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Archive for April, 2007

The Blogroll Issue

[ 0 ] April 2, 2007 |

Lauren links to this argument about the “purging” of blogrolls by A-List bloggers. While I agree that there are plenty of good bloggers who get less traffic than (I think) they deserve and who I wish got more links, I’m not really sure about these kinds of arguments in general.

First, I think it’s worth noting how small the stakes are here. As it happens, we were “purged” from the mighty Eschaton blogroll during the “amnesty.” As far as I can tell–and I’m not obsessive about sitemeter numbers, but I do try to check and see if any posts are generating traffic periodically–the effect on traffic is very small. Atrios links certainly have a major impact (not just immediately but in adding new readers), but he’s linked to us several times after removing us from his blogroll, so I don’t see that it’s made much difference. Not being on someone’s blogroll won’t stop someone from linking to a post they find interesting. (FWIW, Atrios has also kept or added a significant number of blogs that get comparable or less traffic than us; I don’t see any reason to believe that there’s some systematic effort to exclude smaller blogs.) In addition, the only blogrolls we’ve gotten significant traffic from are Yglesias’ and Wolcott’s, which generate disproportionate traffic because they’re selective. The goal of more comprehensive blogrolls just means that they won’t generate more than negligible traffic, and if for some reason you care about it they can’t really confer status either.

None of this is to be against comprehensive blogrolls, per se; I’m glad that people like Shakes compile them so I can check out something I might not otherwise read. I guess what I’m arguing for is idiosyncrasy. Link to blogs and posts you like; maintain the blogroll you think is appropriate. I link much more to longer, wonkier posts and much less to activist blogs because that’s what I read and blog about. I share Chris’ disappointment that blogs with more detailed content are less popular. But I’m not crazy about the idea that blogrolls (or systematic linkage) should reflect highly self-conscious patterns of what people think they should be doing. It’s true that I’ve seen more conservative blogs try to do more of this; in my judgment, most of these blogs are also terrible. Blogroll what you read or what you’d particularly like to bring attention to — I think it’s that simple. And the composition of blogrolls isn’t any kind of matter of justice.


What’s the Matter with Georgia?

[ 0 ] April 2, 2007 |

Erik Loomis made more or less this same point a few weeks back, but it bears repeating: when it comes to Confederate nostalgia, Georgia is rubbish. What, after all, can be said about a state whose voters expelled the governor because they didn’t like the flag he signed into law? Yeah, the barbeque is great, and we must give due thanks to the state that brought forth Fletcher Henderson, MLK, James Dickey and Nipsey Russell . . . but c’mon, y’all. I know this is a hard month for Southern nationalists — your ancestors started and lost an epic war of choice four Aprils apart during the 1860s — but this is just pathetic:

In January, the [Georgia] House passed a resolution, with no objections, proclaiming 2007 as the Year of Robert E. Lee, the general who commanded the Confederate forces.

Since 1995, 67 resolutions or bills have been introduced referring to Confederates, such as those commending the Sons of the Confederacy or allowing drivers to purchase commemorative license plates for their cars.

Each year, a resolution typically sails through proclaiming April Confederate History and Heritage Month, sponsored variously by Republicans and Democrats.

This year, Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, introduced Senate Bill 283 on March 1, before DuBose publicly called for Georgia’s apology. Though it has passed in other years, the Heritage Month bill died Monday without coming to a vote before the whole Senate.

And this is just batshit, collaborationist insanity:

As the state Legislature ponders whether to apologize for slavery, the Cobb County Commission on Tuesday honored April as Confederate History and Heritage Month — with a black commissioner making the proclamation.

Commissioner Annette Kesting said she had no trouble honoring the Confederate cause.

“They were fighting for their families and their history,” said Kesting. She added that this is the third year in a row that she has made the April proclamation for the commission. “Everyone is entitled to their history.”

If by “history” she means “undermedicated delusions,” I suppose she has a point.


[ 0 ] April 1, 2007 |

Ah, only 2 and a half innings into Opening Day Night, and Tony LaRussa, Super Genius (TM) throws out the first wankoff “look at me! I’m ever so clever!” strategery of the season. A suicide squeeze down 2-0 in the 3rd inning? What the hell? Well, it was certainly consistent with my rooting interests, so more power to him.

Worst American Birthdays, vol. IX

[ 0 ] April 1, 2007 |

Sam Alito turns 57 today. You may have read about him somewhere before.

Rather than subject the good judge to the usual garroting, I’m going to allow the birthday boy to describe himself:

But as one of the blogosphere’s great non-partisan voices has observed, there are “varieties of judicial conservatives, just as there are varieties of political conservatives.”

There are also varieties of the plague; given the choice, you’d really have to prefer the bubonic to either the pneumonic or septicemic. To argue otherwise would be to expose oneself as a shrill partisan.

Slick Willey

[ 0 ] April 1, 2007 |

In the wake of the discussion of the smears of Bill Clinton and Jessica Valenti I allude to below, debate about Clinton has resumed in some comments sections. What drives me crazy is that many liberal commenters seem to take various Clinton Tall Tales at face value, accepting that he’s a “sexual predator” but merely quibbling over the severity of the incidents. Whatever the ethical problems involved, the consensual Lewinsky scandal could not come close to justifying this label. The key to those arguing that Clinton is guilty of some kind of actual assault, then, is Kathleen Willey, and many comments sections have rolled over and played dead when apologists for Althouse and the rest of the Clinton Smear Machine have brought her up.

The problem? Her story was so strikingly lacking in credibility that Ken Starr’s office wouldn’t move forward with it. Josh Marshall:

But Willey didn’t merely hurt Clinton. It was also on her say-so, and to sustain her credibility, that the OIC pursued a merciless prosecution against Julie Hiatt Steele, one of the bit players in the Lewinsky saga, but one of the most damaged. Steele was a onetime friend of Willey’s who first said Willey had confided in her about the groping incident shortly after it happened. Steele later recanted this story and told the grand jury that Willey had put her up to it — testimony that won her an indictment from the OIC for obstruction of justice and a series of bizarre side investigations into matters as far afield as the legality of the adoption of her daughter. (The case ended in a mistrial in May 1999.)

So how credible is Kathleen Willey? Apparently, not very credible at all. And that’s not the word from some Clinton lapdog, but from the OIC itself. Appendix B of Ray’s report analyzes Willey’s accusations and concludes, rather hermetically, that “there was insufficient evidence to prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that President Clinton’s testimony regarding Kathleen Willey was false.” But that conclusion is a comic understatement when read in the context of the report’s Appendix B. The OIC lawyers couldn’t even convince themselves that Willey was credible, let alone prove it beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury. They had already concluded that Willey was a liar.

For instance, as Appendix B explains, Willey’s testimony in the Jones suit differed from what she told the Lewinsky grand jury. It was contradicted by the testimony of other witnesses friendly to the OIC. And, most damning, during the period when Willey was cooperating with the OIC under an immunity agreement, the OIC caught her in a lie about her relationship with a former boyfriend. (As the report phrases it, with oblique understatement, “Following Willey’s acknowledgment [of the lie], the Independent Counsel agreed not to prosecute her for false statements in this regard.”)

In other words, the OIC did not opt to forego prosecution of President Clinton on the Willey front because it could not prove Willey’s credibility to a jury: They themselves believed she was not a credible witness. That makes you wonder why the OIC lawyers pursued their case against Julie Hiatt Steele based purely on Willey’s word. And if the OIC now thinks Willey isn’t credible, why didn’t this get a bit more play in the press? (And should we wait around, in Part 2 of the report, for an apology to Julie Hiatt Steele?)

See also Bob Somerby. Can we know, to an absolute certainty, that Clinton didn’t “grope” Willey without her consent? No. But to assert her story as simple fact is ridiculous. I mean, if Ken Starr won’t go forward with it, I think you have to presume Clinton innocent. Same thing with Paula Jones; unlike Lewinsky, that would be a serious case of sexual harassment, except that the case was thrown out of court. The evidence that Bill Clinton is a sexual predator, in other words, is scant at best. Liberals really need to stop accepting right-wing smear narratives as proven fact.

Rumsfeld Speaks!

[ 0 ] April 1, 2007 |

The TD gets an exclusive

She’s Engaging In Shameless Revisionism. Just Ask Her!

[ 0 ] April 1, 2007 |

Sorry to return to this, but I found it while researching something else and it’s too good to pass up. Althouse, you may recall, has justified her unprovoked rage at GFR by claiming that she was merely engaging in a sober political discussion about feminism and Bill Clinton, and liberals who claim that she was engaging in personal attacks are being horribly, horribly unfair to her, and even worse is when they label her very serious political arguments the “Jessica Valenti breast controversy,” which is a grievous insult. Evidently, it’s not exactly news that her rationalizations are utter nonsense. But I now call to the witness stand…Ann Althouse:

No, you’ve mischaracterized the original post, which mocked the bloggers for effusing over Clinton. A commenter made a wisecrack about Monica Lewinsky. The person you refer to as “woman with the rack” showed up in the comments to refocus things on her, at which point, I decided to write a post making fun of her for sort of unwittingly and indirectly claiming to be good-looking.

To write the post, I visited her blog and saw that it was loaded with breast images! She was a total breast-blogger! How is that not hilarious? I then made fun of her ridiculous hypocrisy.

Well, I think that’s settled.

LGM Tourney Challenge

[ 0 ] April 1, 2007 |

The 2007 Tourney Challenge has resolved itself into a head-to-head conflict between J. Mackin and J. James. If the Buckeyes of Ohio State defeat the Florida Gators tomorrow, J. Mackin takes home the LGM Certificate of Championship-ness, suitable for framing. If Florida prevails, J. James wins that honor.

Also, remember to sign up for the Baseball Challenge:

League Name: Lawyers, Guns and Money
password: zevon

Sunday Deposed Monarch Blogging: House of Singh

[ 0 ] April 1, 2007 |

The modern state of Jammu was created in 1820 by Rajit Singh, Maharajah of a Sikh kingdom in Punjab. A kingdom had existed in Jammu since ancient times, as in many of the other territories that lay between the Hindu and Islamic civilizations, Jammu and Kashmir were often overrun by invaders from either side. Rajit Singh conquered Jammu in the process of creating a Sikh empire in Punjab, bringing the mostly Muslim population of Jammu under rule of an alien religion for the first time in centuries. Maharajah Singh then conferred the title Raja upon Gulab Singh, head of a junior branch of what had been the ruling family of Jammu since roughly the 9th century. Gulab Singh had initially served in the armies that fought Maharajah Singh, but sought service within the latter’s court after the fall of Jammu and eventually ably commanded some of the Maharajah’s armies.

Gulab Singh’s reward was Jammu, and he made the most of his opportunity. By force of arms the Raja expanded his territory, fighting against Afghans, Tibetans, and Chinese, as well as local enemies. Raja Singh remained neutral in the bloody Anglo-Sikh wars of the mid 19th century, and in 1846 became, for all intents and purposes, a vassal of the British state. The British conferred the title of Maharajah on Singh and confirmed his rulership of Jammu and Kashmir. After weathering several rebellions and considerabl intrigue, Gubal Singh died in 1857 and passed the kingdom to his son.

In 1925 Gulab Singh’s great grandson, Hari Singh, ascended to the throne of Jammu and Kashmir. Despite the fact that most of his subjects were Muslim, Maharajah Singh resisted inclusion in Pakistan in 1947. During the Partition between India and Pakistan, rulers of individual princely states were typically allowed to determine which country to join. Hari Singh disliked Congress, but disliked the Muslim League more, and for a time attempted to carve out a space for Jammu and Kashmir as an independent state. Jockeying between Pakistan and India made this impossible; in late 1947 a group of Pakistani tribesmen entered Kashmir, and Indian troops responded. In spite of the preference of his subjects, Maharajah Singh, a Hindu, decided to join India. This decision helped spark the First Indo-Pakistani War, which resulted in the de facto division of Kashmir between Pakistan and India. At that point everything became fine and Kashmir has not ever been heard from again.

The state government of Jammu and Kashmir terminated Hari Singh’s reign in 1951. His only son, Karan Singh, was made President of the province at the same time, and Governor of the state of Jammu and Kashmir in 1964. Hari Singh died in 1961, but his son’s political career continued to develop. He successively became Indian Minister for Tourism, Minister for Health, and Minister of Education between 1967 and 1980. In 1990 he was named Ambassador to the United States. Karan Singh has written several books, and has recently been mentioned as a possible candidate for the Presidency of India, a largely ceremonial position. Prospects for a return to the throne seem grim, as Mr. Singh seems to have better prospects, and there is little support in the area for the return of a Hindu monarch.

Trivia: What country’s 20th century experiment with constitutional monarchy lasted only two months and five days?

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