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Archive for April, 2012

The War on Parody

[ 26 ] April 14, 2012 |

Tennessee has decided to extend it beyond the blogosphere.


The Sublime, the Ridiculous, and the Indefensible

[ 78 ] April 13, 2012 |

The best postseason in sports has, in fact, been tremendous so far. And in addition to the many exceptionally good games — and the Flyers/Penguins series could be one of the best first-round matchups ever — we have the high comedy of Ryan Kesler’s auditions for the Azzurri:

Above: necessary and sufficient grounds for Drew Doughty immediately being awarded the Conn Smythe trophy.

Alas, one blemish on the otherwise great playoff is the failure to suspend Shea Weber. It’s true that it’s the time of the game that is causing people to call for a harsher punishment than might otherwise be merited, but the thing is that the time of the game is relevant. With a lot of time left in a close game, the disincentives created by penalties are important. The hit Bitz got suspended for was more dangerous than the Weber play, but the major penalty he was assessed has a huge impact on the game (as the Kings scored a PP goal that would prove decisive.) But with the game over, suspensions are the only sanction, and it’s a bad precedent to let it slide with a trivial fine. Weber should have at least gotten a game, and Red Wings fans are right to be agitated. I blame Berube’s failure to do any hockey blogging this year…

Not Just Bad Policy, Unconstitutional Policy

[ 36 ] April 13, 2012 |

As I mentioned below, yesterday Arizona governor Jan Brewer signed a draconian abortion law that, among other things, effectively bans abortions after 18 weeks after conception. This law, like other attempts by state legislatures to ban pre-viability abortions, represents a substantial dilution of a woman’s right to choose. In addition, it’s worth noting that the law is plainly unconstitutional under current law.

Planned Parenthood v. Casey was a substantial retreat from Roe v. Wade, and a lot of the legislation passed by state legislatures that restricts a woman’s reproductive freedom was encouraged by the largely toothless “undue burden” standard the Court established to evaluate abortion regulations. But bans on abortion after 18 or 20 weeks — bans that precede viability — are clearly unconstitutional even under Casey. From the joint opinion written by Justices O’Connor, Kennedy, and Souter:

It must be stated at the outset and with clarity that Roe’s essential holding, the holding we reaffirm, has three parts. First is a recognition of the right of the woman to choose to have an abortion before viability and to obtain it without undue interference from the State. Before viability, the State’s interests are not strong enough to support a prohibition of abortion or the imposition of a substantial obstacle to the woman’s effective right to elect the procedure.

The state cannot prohibit abortion before viability — the Court’s opinion is unambiguous on this point. There is no “fetal pain” exception, and nor should there be. As Caitlin Borgmann of the CUNY School of Law has shown, the “fetal pain” justification is a political strategy used by the anti-choice movement to equate fetuses with children, while “the research on fetal pain is at best inconclusive.” Whether Justice Kennedy would stand by the opinion he signed should a case concerning the constitutionality of such laws come to the Supreme Court is unclear. But as of now, the lower courts are required to stop such bills from going into effect by the plain language of Supreme Court precedent.

Well, That Was Postmature…

[ 16 ] April 13, 2012 |

Peretz will no longer be permitted to undermine the reputation of the New Republic.

Soldier Dogs

[ 8 ] April 13, 2012 |

This story on dogs in the military reminded me of the odd memorial at the University of Tennessee for the dogs killed in the battle to liberate Guam in 1944.


[ 49 ] April 13, 2012 |

Corey Robin on the Cory Booker superhero story:

The whole story speaks to a quintessentially American love of amateurism and cowboy theatrics, but it also speaks to our neoliberal age: like the superhero of comic-book lore, Booker is a stand-in, a compensation in this case for a public sector that doesn’t work. And the reason it doesn’t work—the reason we put more stock in the antics of a Batman Mayor than a well paid and well trained city employee—is that we’ve made it not work: through tax cuts, privatization, and outsourcing, policies that Booker himself often supports.

Foreign Entanglements: Sanctions Now, Sanctions Tomorrow, Sanctions Forever?

[ 1 ] April 13, 2012 |

Michael Singh and Matt Duss have a very good conversation on Iran sanctions policy in the latest Foreign Entanglements:

With any luck, Mark Dubowitz of FDD and I will be having a conversation early next week on the same topic.

Rosen’s Kinsleyian Gaffe

[ 73 ] April 13, 2012 |

To echo what Erik says below, I’m reluctant to wade into a fake-scandal about a Democratic “strategist.” But since it’s inspired some good writing, I will note that 1)for Ann Romney to suggest that (the enormously difficult!) task of raising five children means that she therefore understands the struggle of poverty is obscene, and 2)her husband in his public life has shown less than no interest in either alleviating poverty or in helping mothers who lack the advantages of enormous wealth and privilege.

Sustainable Meat and Localized Agriculture

[ 127 ] April 13, 2012 |

I don’t agree with all of James McWilliams’ attack on localized agriculture, but it is useful correction to the fawning deification of Michael Pollan, backyard chickens, grass-fed beef, etc. All of those things have their very important qualities, but if we are really serious about creating more environmentally-sustainable food without cutting back on meat consumption (and let’s be honest, as a society we are not serious about this), we should be aware that these are complex questions without easy answers.


[ 20 ] April 13, 2012 |

It’s great that an essentially accurate comment about the wife of a plutocrat has started to attract the national attention away from the murder of Trayvon Martin. We need to get back to priorities after all.

Wingnut of the Day

[ 38 ] April 13, 2012 |

Jan Brewer.

Clinton and the Cooperative Strategy

[ 9 ] April 12, 2012 |

Hillary Clinton spoke at the United States Naval Academy on Tuesday, touching on relations with North Korea and China. In light of the failure of the latest DPRK test, these comments were of some interest.  More important to my mind, however, was the extent to which Clinton adopted the Navy’s framework for thinking about US grand strategy in the Asia Pacific.  I have a piece up at Foreign Policy arguing such:

But the delivery of this speech as part of the Forrestal Lecture Series at the United States Naval Academy was no accident. Clinton was not shy about connecting the Asian pivot with Secretary of Defense James V. Forrestal and with the Navy, as the speech made clear that the primary responsibility for managing military affairs in the Asia Pacific region will fall on the Navy, with the U.S. Air Force presumably playing a significant supporting role. The critical insight came in discussion of the nature of U.S. Navy responsibility; Clinton lauded not the Navy’s combat capability in the manner of Alfred T. Mahan, but rather emphasized that the Navy helps shape the contours of political conflict in the Asia Pacific through a wide variety of means, not least direct contact with regional navies. According to Clinton, “each year U.S. Navy ships, and sailors and marines, participate in more than 170 bilateral and multilateral exercises, and conduct more than 250 port visits in the region. … This allows us to respond more quickly and efficiently when we have to work together with partners.” She invoked the partnership between the U.S. Navy and its Japanese counterpart, the Maritime Self Defense Force, in the wake of the Kobe earthquake as fruit of the multilateral policy. The U.S. Navy’s ability to conduct multifaceted relief operations in the Asia Pacific littoral (a capability that the Chinese Navy currently lacks) highlights the persistent utility of a U.S. leadership role; the U.S. Navy effectively makes itself an indispensible part of any major multilateral maritime operation. Clinton repeatedly invoked themes of maritime security as a positive-sum game, partnership building, freedom of navigation, and multilateral dispute resolution.

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