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Archive for June, 2009

In Praise of Fehr

[ 0 ] June 24, 2009 |

I strongly endorse Sheehan’s remarks, especially with respect to the comparison with Upshaw:

Don Fehr took on this task and did it very well for a quarter-century. He did it as his peers in the NFL, NBA, and NHL all lost major labor battles and saw their unions weakened, or in the NFL’s case completely broken and turned into a house union. The relative popularity of Fehr and his NFL counterpart, the late Gene Upshaw, ran in inverse proportion to how good each man was at his job of representing the athletes in their charge. Since 1983, when Fehr took over following the brief, unlamented stint of Ken Moffatt, the MLBPA has established itself as the most powerful players’ association in sports, and one of the few successful unions in American labor. They won three grievances over collusion at a time when free agency was still in relative infancy. They beat management in the courts when necessary. Under Fehr’s watch, we’re into the longest stretch of labor peace since the players were serfs.

For this, Fehr became a reviled figure, first for not caving in to MLB’s demands in 1994 and leading the players into a strike that lasted through the World Series, then for defending the principle of privacy, the right to refuse unwarranted searches, and the sanctity of collective bargaining, all as the public, management, and a grandstanding Congressional committee looked to trample all three.


Rafsanjani isn’t Wasting HIS Time Eating Ice Cream . . .

[ 0 ] June 24, 2009 |

I don’t think it has been linked here yet — I’ve been behind on my LGM reading and posting as the last two days were a sea of meetings, but this was forwarded to me by a colleague who “does” Iran.  I won’t go into too much detail, but suffice it to say that she knows Iran well.  The core argument of the piece is that Rafsanjani knows precisely what he is doing in the midst of all this, and he is attempting to “outflank supreme leader Khamenei” et al.  

When chatting about it before (and, admittedly, during) one of the meetings over the past two days, we both were shocked at just how ineptly Khamenei and allies have played this.  Dude, game theory.  Check it out.  But it may be a little late, as the linked article suggests:

“To a certain degree, hardliners now find themselves caught in a cycle of doom: they must crack down on protesters if they are to have any chance of retaining power, but doing so only causes more and more clerics to align against them.”

If the linked analysis has legs, it could be interesting . . . 

Is This a "Sanford Goes to Argentina" Moment?

[ 0 ] June 24, 2009 |


Gov. Mark Sanford arrived in the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport this morning, having wrapped up a seven-day visit to Buenos Aires, Argentina, he said. Sanford said he had not been hiking along the Appalachian Trail, as his staff said in a Tuesday statement to the media.

Sanford’s whereabouts had been unknown since Thursday, and the mystery surrounding his absence fueled speculation about where he had been and who’s in charge in his absence. His emergence Wednesday ended the mystery.

Sanford, in an exclusive interview with The State, said he decided at the last minute to go to the South American country to recharge after a difficult legislative session in which he battled with lawmakers over how to spend federal stimulus money.

Well, there goes one GOP Presidential hopeful. I’m just glad that someone is back in control of South Carolina’s nuclear weapons.

Spain v USA

[ 1 ] June 24, 2009 |
Kicks off 19:30 (BST), 14:30 (EDT), 11:30 (PDT).  I think I have the times right this time, but the aforementioned “love of my life” from the previous post on the Egypt match did take a certain delight in my public embarrassment.

In my first post on the Confederations Cup back on June 15, I said one thing that appears prescient in retrospect, ” . . . who knows, with just a bit of luck, maybe they make it out of the group.”  As Paul points out, by the final group stage match, luck was definitely required.  

I also stated in that first post that the “Smart money’s on Spain to win this thing, of course.”  I still have to agree with this initial assessment of the tournament.  Indeed, if Spain draw or win, they will set a record of 36 straight matches without defeat.  For such record book purposes, if a match goes to penalties, which this one would do in the event of a draw, it counts as a draw even if Spain were to lose the penalty shootout.  Thus when I argue with my British / European friends and colleagues that the USA were the only side to take a point off of Italy in the 2006 World Cup, it’s technically not true, as France held Italy to a draw in the final.  When I make this claim, I oddly fail to elaborate on such pedantic details.
Bocanegra should be fit, and Sacha Kljestan is back from suspension, thus well rested.  While Kljestan may well be correct in his assertion that it is “time for them to lose one”, this loss by Spain is more likely to be Brazil in the final than the USA in the semi-final.  I look forward to a third-place match between the USA and the hosts, South Africa.  It’s this degree of optimism that prevented me from heading to the bookies before the Egypt match with £10 for the USA to advance . . . 

Justice Chicago-style

[ 0 ] June 24, 2009 |

Judge John J. Fleming thought this didn’t merit any jail time, because a two-minute vicious beating of an 115-pound woman by a 250-pound drunk psychopath only resulted in “some bumps and bruises.”

Of course part of this is that scumbag cops are protected routinely by the system (I had to laugh when I read that the perpetrator “had no previous criminal record” — this was the third person he beat up that day!), but the more interesting possibility is that the judge sincerely believes this wasn’t a serious crime, even though the victim testified to suffering serious long-term psychological damage.

He seems to be using an interpretive frame in which this is a “barroom fight,” as opposed to a vicious beating of a small relatively weak person by a big strong one. (The victim had refused to serve the assailant any more drinks).

At least the Chicago police department is trying to fire the guy. The determinative hearing is in a couple of weeks.

Meanwhile the learned judge has a retention election coming up.

The Supreme Court and the Clean Water Act

[ 0 ] June 23, 2009 |

While the Court’s decision not to strike down Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act — at least, not yet — was probably the best outcome that could have been expected, the same was certainly not true of another of the Court’s decisions yesterday, which went along with a Bush administration decision allowing a company to dump large amounts of extremely toxic chemicals into a a lake on the grounds that the toxic slurry was “fill material” rather than a “pollutant,” and hence a permit could be granted by the Army Corps of Engineers rather than the EPA.


[ 0 ] June 23, 2009 |

Good one. I suppose seeing the world-historical importance of Obama eating ice cream while there is any injustice anywhere in the world is a close cousin to warbloggers who believe that linking to Steven Den Beste posts and saying “heh” is a form of combat, or warboggers who believe that changing their font to green — and maybe even posting staggeringly unfunny null anaology twitters — is of world-historical importance…

You are Correct, Sir!

[ 0 ] June 23, 2009 |

Ed McMahon has passed. I guess now I’ll never be on Star Search…

All we need is a voluntary, free-spirited, open-ended program of procreative racial deconstruction

[ 0 ] June 23, 2009 |

Now that Mark Sanford has turned up doing some sort of wingnut imitation of Bill Bryson, my personal pet theory as to his whereabouts can be safely dismissed.


Conservertarian False Equivalence, Meet Facts

[ 0 ] June 23, 2009 |


It is true that some countries have controlled costs, and therefore made it easier to afford coverage for more people. It is also true that some countries have cut marginal tax rates, and thereby actually raised the tax revenue they collected.


McArdle’s comparison — some countries have cut taxes and thereby raised revenues, some countries have controlled costs with universal coverage — turns out to be true if you replace the first “some” with “zero” and the second “some” with “all.” Other than that, great comparison!

Game, set…although, in fairness, it must be said that Democratic presidents will probably be unwilling to engage in the avoidance of public frozen custard eating that would allow these savings to be realized.

Denounce! Renounce! Etc.

[ 0 ] June 23, 2009 |

In trying to break down the “Obama Should Denounce!” crowd into some subsets, I came up with the following five groups:

  1. Obama is being quiet because he thinks that US intervention would cause the situation in Iran to deteriorate; he’s wrong about that.
  2. Obama is being quiet because he thinks that the US can still win concessions from Iran on the nuclear program, and doesn’t want to endanger that possibility; he’s either a) wrong about the possibility of winning concessions, or b)the game isn’t worth the candle.
  3. Obama is weak, indecisive, and objectively pro-Ahmadinejad.
  4. Obama is pro-Ahmadinejad.
  5. I don’t really know anything about this, but any opportunity to criticize the Obama administration is worth taking.

These groups are not mutually exclusive. Daniel “Go Ahmadinejad!” Pipes probably fits most comfortably into Group 5. Group 4 includes such luminaries of American punditry as Andy McCarthy and Victor Davis Hanson. Group 3 is a touch harder to categorize, because it overlaps a lot with #2, but I’d say it’s a view that’s broadly shared across the wingnutosphere. Group 2, I think, includes Charles Krauthammer, Paul Wolfowitz, and some of the smarter folks at the Corner. Group 1 includes, once you cut through the manifest crazy, Christopher Hitchens.

I think, thus far, that Obama has handled the situation fabulously well. I’m guessing that he believes that any US intervention will backfire, and that the US will need to talk to Iran in the future, whether or not Ahmadinejad remains President. I think he’s definitely correct about the first. I also suspect that it is going to be extremely difficult to carry out any engagement strategy with Iran going forward. If the regime survives, it will be because of the loyalty and brutality of its security forces. With that brutality on display on US televisions (if only rarely) it will be much more difficult for Obama to build any domestic support for talks. Moreover, it’s not clear that he should; knowing that the Iranian regime was repressive before these latest incidents, and acknowledging that many US allies in the region don’t even bother with the fiction of elections doesn’t change the fact that it’s an ugly bit of business. I’d rather, other things being equal, not have my President engage with Iran while the current group of thugs is in power. Finally, I do think that the repression has opened greater opportunity for what might be termed a non-interventionist coercive strategy; this is to say that more and tougher sanctions against the regime are on the table now than was the case two weeks ago.

Now Available Exclusively at LGM!

[ 0 ] June 23, 2009 |

After three fine years, I have left TAPPED, more or less by mutual agreement*. It was an honor to write daily for the American Prospect, and I hope to publish there in the future in a different capacity. The three or four of you who have followed both blogs will have noted that style and content was quite a bit different. TAPPED favored longer, wonkier posts, without a lot of space for nonsense. I was contractually allowed to cross-post one third of my TAPPED product to LGM, but in practice it ended up being less than that, simply because I didn’t feel that many of the TAPPED posts fit well with LGM. In the short to medium term, I’ll probably be posting a bit more to LGM, and the posts will be a little wonkier.

*Rob (to self): I’m pretty busy; maybe I should quit TAPPED.
TAPPED: Hey, Farley? You’re laid off. Hit the road.
Rob: Okay… (to self) I would also like a gold plated Mercedes, with a bag of $100 bills in the passenger seat.

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