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Archive for March, 2008

Women as Tropes

The NY Times is a repeat competitor in the let’s shove women into boxes olympics. This week’s entry: the Magazine’s article about people who remain abstinent into their teens…people at Harvard (gasp!).

Melinda Henneberger* gets to the heart of my complaints on XX factor. In the Times’s oh-so-clever way, they are able to stereotype subliminally. But we are on to you, gray lady.

* surprisingly, this is about the fourth time in a row that I have agreed with her.


And again…

Prisons are a feminist issue.

Last week, the Supreme Court let stand a ruling from the Arizona Supreme Court that requires prisons to provide transportation for incarcerated women seeking abortions. It’s a blow to America’s Toughest Sheriff (TM) Joe Arpaio, who makes his male wards wear pink underwear because he believes that it feminizes them and makes them more docile. Cute, huh?

As Pamela Merritt makes clear in her RH Reality Check post today, prisons are a feminist issue not only because of abortion, but also because of the over two million people incarcerated in the US today, tens if not hundreds of thousands of them are mothers, caregivers, pregnant, or the daughters of women who also found themselves in jail. But I’d argue that we’ve got to push further than Merritt does — it’s not just about protecting reproductive rights for incarcerated women. It’s also about recognizing that prison reform is important for women on the outside — and for their families and communities.

Some Initial Basra Thoughts…

[ 0 ] March 31, 2008 |

This looks to me like a clean victory for Sadr. In the words of the immortal Jim Malone, if you open the door on these people, you have to be prepared to close it; Maliki couldn’t close it, and now he looks pathetic. It’s becoming clear that Maliki or elements within his government asked Sadr to ask for a ceasefire, which indicates that the former believed there was no chance for victory.

The broader point is that the Iraqi central government utterly lacks meaningful coercive capacity. Training is all well and good, but after all the development of skill is something quite different than the development of capacity; the well trained Army that fought in Basra and Baghdad lacked the wherewithal to deliver victory against Sadr’s militia. And of course when the central government tries to exert its authority and fails, it is weakened as a result.

The Surge and the broader tribal strategy has utterly failed to create Iraqi state capacity. Divide and rule is a fine strategy for running a territorial empire, but a poor one for attempting to make a new state.

See Spencer for more.

Worst American Birthdays, vol. 43

[ 14 ] March 31, 2008 |

Michael Alan Weiner — otherwise known as Michael Savage — was born 66 years ago today.

If Savage had been alive during the early 20th century, he would almost certainly have been among those calling for the lynching of Jack Johnson, the African American boxer whose affection for white women drove white men to distraction; the additional fact that Johnson’s birthday happened to be March 31 might have churned Savage’s stomach into a mighty froth.

In his own wretched lifetime, the bigoted talk radio host and erstwhile herbalist has been forced to share his birthday with Barney Frank, Richard Chamberlain, Patrick Leahy, Al Gore, and Cesar Chavez — each of whom contributed in some small small way to the ruin of a country that used to be run by conservative, white, heterosexual men.

Tourney Challenge Leaderboard

[ 0 ] March 31, 2008 |

With two each in the final eleven, the Mackin America Conference and the All-LGM Conference have both done well:

1 Mackin 1, J. Mackin 1060 99.9
2 Client #69, I. Fish 1040 99.6
3 MMGood, f. derf 1000 98.1
4 Axis of Evel Knievel, D. Noon 980 96.1
4 Watkins 1, D. Watkins 980 96.1
4 Smith 1, P. Smith 980 96.1
7 Cecil 1, D. Cecil 970 93.5
8 Hornberg 1, A. Hornberg 960 92.2
9 Death or Glory, c. loar 950 90.5
9 Muirshin Durkin, G. Mackin 950 90.5
9 drip, P. Driscoll 950 90.5

I am forced to point out that picking all four number one seeds represents nothing so much as a failure of imagination, but nevertheless.

Remember to sign up for LGM Baseball Challenge:
League Name: Lawyers, Guns and Money
Password: zevon

MLB Preview I: The AL

[ 15 ] March 31, 2008 |

AL EAST: 1.NYY 2.BOS (WILDCARD) 3. TOR 4. TB. NOT CLOSE TO 4th. BAL There’s obviously not much to choose between the top two, of course; Yankees have the better offense, the Red Sox solider pitching. My guess is that while Girardi will have problems long-term — if he can’t get along well enough with management and the press to survive in Florida, you wonder how he’ll deal with New York — his attention to detail will cause them to jump forward after the more avuncular Torre. The Blue Jays have become a little overrated; their offense is mediocre and their fine pitching too injury-prone to push them into contention. The Rays are also being puffed up a bit (their over/under last I checked was 76); they’re headed in the right direction, but they don’t get on base enough, a 73-year old Troy Percival won’t fix a ghastly bullpen and while I like Shields and Garza Kazmir’s injury and Maddon selecting Hinske over Gomes are ominous signs. They’re a year away at least. Meanwhile, although the Jones trade bodes well for their future this is the year when the Orioles hit rock bottom.

1. DET 2. CLE 3. CHI. 4. KC. 5. MIN Again I’ll go with offense over pitching, albeit without much conviction; I’m not sold on Carmona as an ace or on the Cleveland bullpen-except-the-awful-closer repeating, but if I’m wrong about either they’ll be in the postseason. Getting a better year out of Pronk is key. Still, Detroit could outscore the Yankees and their pitching should be a little better than last year. I like Chicago adding some onbase guys, but their rotation is also shaky and their core ain’t Ordonez/Cabrera/Sheffield/Guillen. The Royals continue their modest improvement. Very modest. The Twins could be over .500 if their pitchers all fulfil their potential, but that seems like a bad bet, like Mauer playing 145 games.

1. LAOFCAUSA 2. SEA 3. OAK 4. TEX The Mariners have become a trendy pick, and I wish I could agree. I see the logic: the Mariners were over .500 last year, and (whatever the long-term cost) added the ace pitcher they’ve lacked, while the the two underrated pitchers that kept the Angles in 1st despite their hacktastic offense will be hurt (one for the year.) The problem is that the Mariners weren’t as good as their record last year, and are an old offense that lacks both power and plate discipline. I could see a really good management team putting the Mariners over the top; alas, the manager was a time-serving bench coach who showed no sign that he knew what he was doing when he took over and was hired anyway, and the GM thought trading Rafael Soriano for Horacio Ramirez was a good idea. Oakland is retooling; they may hang in a little longer than many expect but it won’t involve the postseason. I thought Texas would be OK last year; I’m not falling for that again until some pitchers actually deal with the park successfully.

It’s amazing how far the west has fallen in 5 years…

NL later on Opening Day the Third. But I’ll say this: if you’re anywhere near Vegas, take the Giants under 72 and put $500 on it for me. You’ll thank me in October…

On The Prison Rape Problem

[ 10 ] March 31, 2008 |

Good op-ed from Ezra.


[ 1 ] March 31, 2008 |


I was lucky enough to see Ornette Coleman at Town Hall last Friday, and as expected it was exceptional. It was remarkable at the begining to compare his frail, barely audible vocal introduction and his stunningly rich tone, nearly undiminished. His quartet (drums/upright bass/electric bass) was equal to his playing, completing compelling rearrangements of everything from the prelude to Bach’s Cello Suite #1 (with Ornette on sax, violin, and briefly trumpet) to Dancing in Your Head. It always amazes me to see improvisation at that level of intellect and musicality, tight and empathetic while also freewheeling. (The same band can be heard on Sound Grammar, about which I’ll echo Fred Kaplan.)

Hack Memorial of the Day

[ 14 ] March 31, 2008 |

You really have to hand it to people like Jules Crittenden, who refuse to allow Dith Pran’s near-total total silence on Iraq to deter their efforts to use Pran’s death to cast a thick glaze of approval over the war.

In so doing, Crittenden faithfully evokes the boundlessly misinformed wingnut history of the Cambodian genocide, then attempts to cast the war in Iraq as a grand gesture of vindication:

[H]istory already was blaming the United States for abandoning the Shiites in their failed rebellion after the Gulf War, which led to the murder of 300,000 of them. Some people blame the United States for the Iran-Iraq War and Saddam’s use of poison gas on the Kurds. Mainly people who would like the United States to abandon Iraq.

I suppose this is the sort of thing Crittenden would have been arguing if the US rather than the Vietnamese had invaded Cambodia in 1978. Of course, when right wingers discuss Cambodia, it’s important to remember that their underlying thesis has nothing whatsoever to do with the genocide per se; if it did, you’d at least hear them referring once in a while to the fact that the United States had resisted adding its signature to the UN genocide convention (and would continue to do so until 1988). Instead, they use the killing fields to argue that the US should have continued fighting on behalf of a government in Saigon that was no closer to viability in 1975 than it was in 1954, when the fiction of an independent, non-communist South Vietnam was first conceived.

Victor, Spoils, Etc.

[ 10 ] March 31, 2008 |

Jowei Chen, via Monkey Cage:

In the aftermath of the summer 2004 Florida hurricane season, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) distributed $1.2 billion in disaster aid to Florida residents. This research presents two empirical findings that collectively suggest the Bush administration engaged in vote buying behavior. First, by tracking the geographic location of each aid recipient, the data reveal that FEMA treated applicants from Republican neighborhoods much more favorably than those from Democratic or moderate neighborhoods, even conditioning on hurricane severity, home value, and demographic factors. Second, I compare precinct-level vote counts from the post-hurricane (November 2004) and pre-hurricane (November 2002) elections to measure the effect of FEMA aid on Bush’s vote share. Using a two-stage least squares estimator, this analysis reveals that core Republican voters are easily swayed by FEMA aid – $16,800 buys one additional vote for Bush – while Democrats and moderates are not. Collectively, these results suggest the Bush administration maximized its 2004 vote share by concentrating FEMA disaster aid among core Republicans.

Lots of interesting implications; of course, it’s hardly surprising that administrations (Republican or Democrat) funnel the benefits gained by controlling federal agencies to their own followers. As in Florida, such benefits play both a “Thank You!” and a “Remember me at the polls” roll.

Given that the administration turned FEMA into a well-oiled patronage machine (both internally and externally), you have to wonder at how it reacted to Katrina. Specifically, I wonder whether anyone in a meeting actually made the point that “these folks don’t vote Republican, ain’t gonna vote Republican”, or whether the patronage machine was so well designed to render that statement superfluous.

Rather a Lot of Admirals…

[ 3 ] March 31, 2008 |


Via Defense Statecraft.

Community Theater of the Absurd

[ 5 ] March 30, 2008 |

The national dialogue on race continues inside Mister Leonard Pierce’s head.

One of these days, someone — more specifically, someone who is not me — should compile a list of the memorable short plays written by this generation’s finest bloggers. I don’t think conservatives do this sort of thing, because both science and common sense inform us that your average conservative blogger is a boorish jackass who cares that David Mamet is an inept political thinker but who wouldn’t actually go see a showing of American Buffalo. Consequently, they have no use for the Brechtian alienation that accompanies a reading of, say, “Playing Poker with Dick Cheney.”

Any such list, I think, would also have to include the various works of Matt Duss. Beyond that, I’m drawing a blank, which is why I shouldn’t be the one to compile the list.

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