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Saying the Quiet Parts With a Bullhorn

[ 96 ] January 7, 2016 |

paullepage

Paul LePage, the man for people who feel that Donald Trump’s race-baiting is too subtle and dignified:

Drug dealers with stereotypically black names are importing heroin to Maine and leaving pregnant white women behind when they leave the state again, Gov. Paul LePage (R) told a town hall meeting on Wednesday.

In a response to a woman named Cathy’s question about what he’s doing to combat drug abuse in Maine, LePage touted a bill he’s proposed to institute stiffer criminal penalties on out-of-state drug traffickers.

“Now the traffickers, these aren’t people that take drugs. These are guys by the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty,” LePage said, drawing chuckles from the crowd in Bridgton, ME. “These type of guys that come from CT and NY, they come up here, they sell their heroin, then they go back home.”

“Incidentally, half the time they impregnate a young white girl before they leave,” LePage added. “Which is a real sad thing because then we have another issue that we’ve gotta deal with down the road. We’re gonna make ‘em very severe penalties.”

But he’s really heightening those contradictions!

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Do Legal Victories Make Activists Complacent? [SPOILER: No.]

[ 69 ] January 7, 2016 |

Chris Neal/KANSAN

As far as “reasons why Debbie-Wasserman Schultz should resign” go, it’s pretty far down the list. But Amanda is right that Schultz’s assertions that young women are complacent about reproductive rights are completely wrong:

Insulting the people whose support you’re trying to get is generally frowned upon in politics, so why would Schultz say such a thing about young women? Part of the issue is that sneering at young women for complacency has been an unfortunate habit among feminists for roughly forever, ever since women who marched for suffrage were complaining that these young flappers don’t know how good they’ve got it. Every few years, or months sometimes, there’s a dust-up when some older feminists point a finger at the young ones for supposedly not caring enough, followed by an inevitable debunking where it’s pointed out that young women are, in fact, tying on their shoes and pulling out their protests signs and fighting for their right to control their own fertility. Schultz was probably just regurgitating a thing you hear around, not even thinking about how nasty it sounds to accuse the people who need abortion access the most of caring the least about it.

But is there any evidence that it’s true when it comes to this assumption that young people don’t care? Well, not really. Attitudes about abortion have remained relatively stable since Roe vs. Wade, with the majority of Americans agreeing that abortion should be legal in many or all circumstances. Young people, ages 18-34, are more likely to identify as “pro-choice” than their elders. Women, too, are more likely to identify as “pro-choice” than men.

[…]

Young women have been speaking out against these laws, as well as the attacks on Planned Parenthood. I personally spoke at a rally for Planned Parenthood a few years ago and the crowd that came out and stood in that miserably cold weather on a February afternoon veered young. I’ve been a pro-choice journalist covering the reproductive rights beat for nearly a decade now — including doing a weekly podcast for RH Reality Check for eight years — and I’ve met countless numbers of activists in that time, many of whom became trusted sources and friends. And I can assure you, young women care. College kids, twenty-somethings: Every day they are out there, often doing the thankless behind the scenes work, because they care. After all, it affects them. They are the primary target of these attacks on reproductive rights.

I think D W-S’s assertion is related to a broader assumption — which recently reared its head in CT comments threads — that Roe v. Wade was at least partially counterproductive because it made supporters of reproductive freedom quiescent. Much of the influence of Rosenberg’s The Hollow Hope, for example, has unfortunately been from one of its most weakly supported claims: that litigation and other forms of political activism are a zero-sum game, so even success in the courts might be counterproductive and failure in the courts is a disaster. But this argument really doesn’t hold up. Starting with McCann’s Rights At Work, it’s been debunked in the law & society literature. And in the case of abortion, the argument is frankly bizarre. We’ve been through this multiple times, but in fact supporters of reproductive freedom are among the best-organized and most influential of progressive constituencies. (I wish that advocates for labor or the poor had as much clout with the Clinton administration.) The decline of reproductive rights in some jurisdictions is not the result of complacency or tactical errors by supporters of reproductive rights. It is the result of 1)Anthony Kennedy believes states should have substantial latitude to regulate abortion, and 2)state governments in which no progressive constituencies have any clout will take advantage of this, and it’s delusional to think there’s some secret sauce that could stop this from happening without the intervention of the federal courts.

Another way of making this point would be to look at contemporary American conservatism. Conservatives have used litigation very effectively for decades. Has this made conservative activists more quiescent and less powerful? I wish.

Taking Trump Seriously

[ 173 ] January 7, 2016 |

nbc-fires-donald-trump-after-he-calls-mexicans-rapists-and-drug-runners

Sam Wang:

For comparison I include Hillary Clinton, this year’s overwhelming favorite for the Democratic nomination. This emphasizes the fact that based on polling data, Donald Trump is in as strong a position to get his party’s nomination as Hillary Clinton in 2016, George W. Bush in 2000, or Al Gore in 2000. The one case in which a lead of this size was reversed was the 2008 Democratic nomination, which very was closely fought.

Obviously, polls are not the entire story of the campaign. Unlike past nominees, Trump does not have the national party behind him. In that respect, he is emblematic of the overall weirdness of this year’s GOP primaries.

Other factors are said to influence the nomination process: candidate experience, campaign finance, and party endorsements. These are described in the New York Times feature Who’s Winning the Presidential Campaign? (Here is one entertaining recent discussion over at FiveThirtyEight.) In my view, these factors are likely to matter under normal conditions – until a political party undergoes a major upheaval. That happens about every 40-50 years (see this excellent XKCD explainer graphic). Trump-as-nominee could fairly be seen as such an upheaval. This is one reason to pay attention not just to data pundits, but also to grizzled old historians.

My guess is that Trump’s complete lack of elite support, combined with opposition from a viable candidate with strong base support in Cruz and a potentially viablish candidate with elite support in Rubio, means that he’s still not the most likely Republican nominee. But I can see the case that the fact that Trump has been able to maintain such strong numbers for so long is an indication that we’re in a context where general tendencies just don’t apply. You can make a decent case that Trump should be considered the frontrunner, and a pretty solid case that he should be considered a stronger candidate than Rubio.

Junior and Mike

[ 56 ] January 6, 2016 |

I’m obviously happy to see Ken Griffey Jr. elected to the Hall of Fame — here’s a good roundup of the highlights of his Seattle career. His injuries robbed him of most of the second half of his career, and yet he was still one of the 5 greatest centerfielders ever. Junior got the highest vote percentage of any player in the history of the voting.

And, of course, it’s good to see the greatest-hitting catcher of all time finally get his Cooperstown induction despite his highly troubling back acne. Needless to say, Tim Raines’s failure to win induction is the greatest outrage in the history of history itself, although he and Bagwell (a ridiculous exclusion) are at the level where they’re likely to be inducted.

The exclusion of Barry Bonds, arguably the greatest player in baseball history, and Roger Clemens, arguably the greatest pitcher in baseball history, remains farcical. Their numbers are, at least, going up, suggesting that the arguments of the anti-PED faction in HOF voting might eventually collapse from the weight of their incoherence and stupidity. Clearing some people who haven’t covered baseball for years off the ballot surely helped as well, and I must say that I was greatly amused by the GET YOUR HEAD OUT OF YOUR SLIDERULE AND WATCH THE GAMES crowd expressing outrage about being hoist on their old-fart petard. But, then, few people ever show less evidence of having actually carefully watched baseball games than hacks who go on about bloggers and their mother’s basements. Murray Chass doesn’t even argue “Felix Hernandez should win the Cy Young Award because I watched him play and saw x”; he argues “Felix Hernandez shouldn’t win the Cy Young Award because of one largely useless statistic I’m sentimental about.

The Rubio Con

[ 83 ] January 6, 2016 |

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As I recently noted, Peter Beinart’s Atlantic Monthly cover story married a plausible argument (the American electorate is shifting to the left) with an insane argument (the next Republican president will be to the left of George W. Bush even if that president is elected in 2016.) His argument that the Republicans are shifting to the left relies heavily on the alleged moderation of Marco Rubio:

If America’s demographics have changed since the Bush presidency, so has the climate among conservative intellectuals. There is now an influential community of “reformocons”—in some ways comparable to the New Democratic thinkers of the 1980s—who believe Republicans have focused too much on cutting taxes for the wealthy and not enough on addressing the economic anxieties of the middle and working classes.

The candidate closest to the reformocons is Rubio, who cites several of them by name in his recent book. He says that partially privatizing Social Security, which Bush ran on in 2000 and 2004, is an idea whose “time has passed.” And unlike Bush, and both subsequent Republican presidential nominees, Rubio is not proposing a major cut in the top income-tax rate. Instead, the centerpiece of his economic plan is an expanded child tax credit, which would be available even to Americans who are so poor that they don’t pay income taxes.

Although liberals praised his plan for “upend[ing] the last half century of conservative thinking on taxes,” as The New Republic put it, Rubio included new cuts on taxes of capital gains, dividends, interest, and inherited estates, which overwhelmingly benefit the rich. But despite this, it’s likely that were he elected, Rubio wouldn’t push through as large, or as regressive, a tax cut as Bush did in 2001 and 2003. Partly, that’s because a younger and more ethnically diverse electorate is less tolerant of such policies. Partly, it’s because Rubio’s administration would likely contain a reformocon faction more interested in cutting taxes for the middle class than for the rich. And partly, it’s because the legacy of the Bush tax cuts themselves would make them harder to replicate.

The first thing you’ll notice here is the kind of cherry-picking that people use to argue that there’s no real difference between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. The second thing you’ll notice is that even the cherry-picked examples are mostly wrong:

Rubio burst onto the national scene in 2010 as a self-described “movement conservative” who managed to draw backing from important Establishment Republicans, like the Bush family, and tea party groups. On foreign policy, he has embraced full-scale neoconservatism, winning enthusiastic plaudits from figures in the right-wing intelligentsia, like William Kristol. While much of the Republican Party has recoiled from the excesses of the Bush administration’s wild-eyed response to the 9/11 attacks, Rubio has not. He was one of 32 senators to oppose the USA Freedom Act, which restrained the federal government’s ability to conduct surveillance. He was one of just 21 senators opposing a prohibition on torture, insisting, “I do not support telegraphing to the enemy what interrogation techniques we will or won’t use.” Indeed, Rubio now delights his audiences by promising to torture suspected terrorists, who will “get a one-way ticket to Guantánamo, where we’re going to find out everything they know.”

On social issues, Rubio has endorsed a complete ban on abortions, even in cases of rape and incest (a stance locating Rubio to the right of George W. Bush). He has promised to reverse executive orders protecting LGBT citizens from discrimination and to appoint justices who would reverse same-sex marriage. The centerpiece of Rubio’s domestic policy is a massive tax cut — more than three times the size of the Bush tax cut, and nearly half of which would go to the highest-earning 5 percent of taxpayers. By reducing federal revenue by more than a quarter, Rubio’s plan would dominate all facets of his domestic program, which is otherwise a mix of conventional Republican proposals to eliminate Obamacare, jack up defense spending, and protect retirement benefits for everybody 55 and up. Rubio has voted for the Paul Ryan budget (“by and large, it’s exactly the direction we should be headed”). He has proposed to deregulate the financial system, thrilling Wall Street. (Richard Bove, author of Guardians of Prosperity: Why America Needs Big Banks, wrote a grateful op-ed headlined, “Thank you, Marco Rubio.”)

In sum, Rubio’s platform makes George W. Bush look like John Chafee. To try to get around this, Beinart has to assume facts — Republicans who can win congressional and even the occasional presidential elections running to the far right will moderate themselves in office to accommodate a more liberal electorate, “reformicons” have significant substantive differences from the national Republican platform and have power within the Republican coalition, Republican elected officials will care that upper-class tax cuts don’t produce significant economic growth or pay for themselves — that are the opposite of facts.

Rubio’s ability to convince people in the media that he’s the reasonable, moderate, thinking person’s Republican candidate when there isn’t a hundredth of a cent’s worth of difference between him and Ted Cruz is a real potential electoral asset to the Republican Party. Someone who the media will portray as being well to the left of where he actually is — that’s exactly what you’re looking for if you’re a conservative activist. Whether Republican primary voters will see it that way, I have no idea. And the irony is that Rubio’s unearned reputation for moderation will probably hurt his chances of beating Cruz for the nomination.

Trying to Convince Kennedy

[ 11 ] January 6, 2016 |

anthony_kennedy

The plurality opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey observed that “[t]he ability of women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation has been facilitated by their ability to control their reproductive lives.” This principle has, alas, been more honored in the breach than in the observance by the Supreme Court. A group of lawyers has submitted an amicus brief in Whole Women’s Health v. Cole showing how the Texas anti-abortion statute at issue in the case interferes with this fundamental right:

While Amici come from different regional, religious, racial, and socio-economic backgrounds, and had their abortions for a variety of medical and personal reasons, certain themes repeat throughout their experiences, among them: that they would not have been able to graduate from high school, college, or law school but for their abortions; that abortions provided them with the freedom to escape unhealthy or abusive situations and relationships; and that abortions allowed Amici to delay childbearing until they could be good parents. Most of all, Amici share a common recognition of the critical importance to their careers and their lives of safe access to abortion and the dangers of laws that complicate that path.

Justice Blackmun observed that “[b]ecause motherhood has a dramatic impact on a woman’s educational prospects, employment opportunities, and self-determination, restrictive abortion law deprive her of basic control over her life.” Amici’s experiences bear this out.

These accounts are definitely worth reading. Whether they will persuade Kennedy, who knows, but it’s definitely important to counter the stories of women regretting abortions that Kennedy has relied on in the past.

Paul Bley

[ 8 ] January 5, 2016 |

One of the greatest. R.I.P.

Gun Control and American Politics in 2016

[ 169 ] January 5, 2016 |

CX-U4TDUoAAV4fb

Obama’s gun control speech today was, for whatever it’s worth, excellent. Substantively, the proposed policies probably won’t move the needle much, which isn’t Obama’s fault but that’s the situation we’re in. The preemptive declarations from Republicans that whatever Obama was proposing to do it must be unconstitutional are revealing:

Obama’s proposals are, in terms of gun control policy and executive branch authority, ultimately of minor importance. They’re more important for what they reveal about the Republican party in 2016 than for their substantive content.

First, the ludicrously overwrought Republican reaction to Obama’s statement shows that the party continues to refuse the legitimacy of Obama’s presidency: in that environment, utterly ordinary and plainly legal presidential actions can and will be cited as examples of a tyranny. Maybe next Republicans will start arguing that Obama is violating the US constitution and the will of the people by delivering the State of the Union address rather than letting Paul Ryan do it.

And second, it illustrates that gun control is an issue – like upper-class tax cuts and countless others – where Republican policy can be boiled down to a radical one-note ideological slogan. The effectiveness of a given policy, cost/benefit analysis and so on are all beside the point: if a proposal places any restriction on the sale or possession of guns, Republicans can know in advance that the policies are not merely bad policy but illegal. They can confidently make these assertions without even knowing what the proposed policies are.

But in 1991, former president Ronald Reagan wrote an op-ed endorsing federal gun control legislation; in 2016, Obama proposed to do less on gun control than even Reagan wanted is seen by Reagan-worshipping Republicans as unconscionable tyranny. The Republican race to get far to Reagan’s right makes the prospect of the GOP obtaining unified control of the government a frightening one indeed.

In related news, Mike Huckabee uses the occasion to advocate making abortion first degree murder in all 50 states:

Republicans are Very Serious.

News You Can Use!

[ 50 ] January 5, 2016 |

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The Maoists who edit the New York Times Style and Real Estate sections bring you this report from the about-to-move Four Seasons restaurant. (Martha Stewart gets cookies for her driver, and good for her.) By far my favorite:

Leon Wieseltier

Occupation: Writer and editor

Age: 63

Are you a regular?
I come here sometimes. I’m just lunching with my friend Dr. Kissinger.

What did you have for lunch?
We had the white truffle risotto. Both of us. It was very good.

Tell me about your suit.
The jacket is Zegna. The jeans are Levi’s. The boots are M.L. Leddy’s from Fort Worth, Tex.

And, what will you miss about this place?
It’s spacious. People are spaced far apart so you can actually have conversations.

Do you have a favorite memory here?

Too many; too many.

Nothing that sticks out?
Nothing that I’m going to tell you.

“Terrorist” Is Too Kind

[ 64 ] January 5, 2016 |

mr-plow3_

I think Burneko is on to something here:

The American political lexicon has an appropriate word for the armed men conspicuously loitering in part of Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge instead of going home. It is not terrorist or militia or occupation or revolution or movement or front or army or resistance. The word is jamoke. “Get a load of these sad jamokes!” is the thing you say about them.

Maybe when they are done annexing this remote administrative office’s supply of free park maps and permit application forms, they will liberate rural Oregon’s port-a-johns next. Some of the port-a-johns are heavily fortified with locking doors and hand sanitizer pumps. Surely this will call for siege weaponry.

Imagine the grade of sad, stunted halfwit who decks himself out in paramilitary regalia and lethal weaponry to stage a sit-in at what is for all intents and purposes a remote wildlife park’s visitor’s center. Okay, men, when I kick in the door, you three move on the 74-year-old v0lunteer who shows the birdwatching slideshow to elementary-school field trip groups; if she makes a move, be ready to take her down with force. The rest of us will establish a defensive position behind the cardboard beaver. If bigger goobers than these exist on our planet, you identify them by the bruises from where they poked themselves in the eye while trying to pick their noses.

[…]

A tragicomic thing happens, though, when a handful of slow-witted white dorks in their best Sunday camo decide to take their guns and their entitled, useless, cosmically unserious day-to-day dull-eyed skulking to a minor government shack and pretend it’s some sort of insurrection against tyranny. Liberal internet users’ latent frustration at the disproportionality and unfairness of the way American law enforcement and media treat different kinds of people tips over into a mild derangement that has us likening these shit-for-brains dinguses to friggin’ ISIS. This is understandable! We’re just about a week from an Ohio grand jury deciding that summary execution is a fair consequence for 12-year-old kids who play with toys outdoors; by that standard, the entire state of Oregon should be a radioactive desert right now. This seems a fair thing to point out.

[…]

Here is the thing. These men are not frightening. They are jamokes. They are exactly jamokes. Their guns, on the other hand, are very frightening—for precisely and entirely the same reason and to absolutely the same degree that those same guns would be frightening in the hands of toddlers. Not because the people holding those guns are serious, but because the people holding those guns are not serious.

This, my good buddies, is the entire American pro-gun argument made (embarrassing, oh my God so fucking embarrassing) flesh. A big scary gun lends a degree of real power even to the variety of sad, corny-ass loser who invades and occupies what is essentially a fancy birdhouse in the name of ending tyranny. That is the whole reason to have a big scary gun. Not as a safeguard against home invaders or the totalitarian state, but as a safeguard against a clear-eyed reckoning with plain reality. A gun is—or at least these jamokes hope it is—a Get Out Of Getting Laughed At Free card. When you call these horse’s asses “terrorists,” you are not only dignifying their ridiculous, impotent actions, you are doing them the biggest favor for which they can hope.

And one perennial aspect of this kind of jamokery is, of course, “government benefits for me but not for thee.” The fact that Roscoe Filburn has become a posthumous libertarian hero is entirely appropriate, even if the people lionizing him aren’t in on the joke.

On Asymmetrically Polarized America

[ 116 ] January 4, 2016 |

hillary

Peter Beinart has an article in the Atlantic arguing that the United States is drifting leftward, at least on domestic policy. David Dayen objects. I largely agree with the latter. A few points:

  • The assertion that “[t]he next Republican president will be more liberal than George W. Bush” is transparently wrong. The Republican Party has continued to move to the right, and the next Republican president will be even more reactionary than Bush. If that President has a Republican Senate to work with, the results will be terrifying.
  • While I agree with Dayen’s point on Clinton and taxes, it remains true that the Democratic Party is clearly to the left of where is was in 1976 or 1992. The drift has not been as pronounced as the Republican shift to the right, but it has happened.
  • Like most such arguments, Dayen is excessively focused on the presidency and presidential candidates. It is true that Clinton is not to the left of Barack Obama. But 1)it’s not as if Clinton is the most liberal candidate who could possibly win the Democratic nomination.  She is the prohibitive favorite for reasons that largely transcend ideological positioning; and 2)President Hillary Clinton will be more liberal taking office in 2017 than she would have been in 1993, because the Democratic coalition in Congress has shifted to the left.

NFL Open Thread: The SUPERGENIUS Of Rex Ryan Etc.

[ 187 ] January 3, 2016 |

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Certain elements of Rex Ryan’s failure in Buffalo this year were predictable. Attention to detail has always been a problem, and he was unchanged in that regard: Buffalo saw his usual blizzard of stupid penalties, incomprehensible challenges, and blown timeouts. None of this stuff is helpful, but nor is necessarily fatal. (The Bills will probably not break the penalty record held by…the 2014 Seahawks.) On a bigger picture level, the way Ryan failed in 2015 was rather strange and unpredictable ex ante. The biggest barrier for the Bills going into the year was that a coach who had shown little ability to develop offensive players was going to have to use either a 6th round pick with little NFL experience, a busted 1st round pick, or a proven veteran who’s proven he’s not an NFL-caliber QB. Only Tyrod Taylor proved to be a very capable player. More than capable, actually, this year: 9th in DVOA, 6th in QBR, tied for 5th in the NFL rating. If you had told me Taylor would play that well, I would have set the floor for the Bills as a 6 seed. But the problem is that the Bills defense, bellyflopping from 2nd in DVOA to 29th without an unusually large number of injuries. For Ryan to fail in this way is in fact pretty shocking.

Some people will undoubtedly argue that Ryan is just a complete fraud, but I don’t think that this claim can be justified by his record. In Baltimore, his defenses ranked 6th, 1st, 5th, and 2nd in DVOA. Sure, he was promoted within an established system with a lot of talent, but 1)it is not inevitable that talent on paper will keep producing (cf. the 2015 Bills), 2)no better as a DC than Marvin Lewis or Mike Nolan is still pretty damned good, and 3)by 2008 Ray Lewis was 33 and Ed Reed 30; I don’t think you can say that the defense was effective solely because he had the core Lewis won the Super Bowl with. And then, taking over a Jets team that had ranked 14th and 25th in DVOA the previous two years, he transformed the Jets into the an elite defense (#1 in DVOA in 2009, #5 in 2010) and won four playoff games in two years with Mr. Mark Sanchez. Granted, the run in 2009 was a little fluky — they only made the playoffs because the Colts called off the dogs in Week 16 and beat unimpressive Bengals and Chargers teams in the playoffs. That’s still pretty good for a team with a rookie QB with unimpressive credentials. And the 2010 team was just flat impressive — 11-5, beat Peyton Manning and Tom Brady on the road in the playoffs. With Mark Sanchez. Yes, that was his peak with the team — Sanchez never developed and Idzik was brought in to strip the team to the studs — but Ryan had an excellent track record as a defensive coach coming into 2015. There was nothing in his history that would have made what happened to Buffalo’s defense this year foreseeable. He’s done a lot more with a lot less talent in the past.

What happened? In the Football Outsiders Almanac this year, the guy who wrote the Bills section observed that the team manages personnel as if they carefully studied what Bill Belichick does and then tried to do the exact opposite. I think part of the problem was that Ryan seemed to adapt this philosophy to the coaching level. Belichick, as is well known, does not scheme and gameplan based on a System; he relentlessly focuses on the available talent and the matchups presented in a given week. The reports out of Buffalo — particularly with respect to Mario Williams — seem to suggest that Ryan spent the year trying to squeeze square pegs into round holes because that’s the way he wanted to play. I’m sure that’s part of it, but I don’t think that can explain how badly the Bills defense collapsed. Assuming the Bills keep Ryan, I’m sure it will improve substantially next year, although whether it will be enough to end the Bills playoff drought I don’t know. Taylor seems like an NFL QB but I doubt he’s as good as he looked this year.

Did the Bills make a mistake in hiring him? Possibly. It’s easy with 15 games in the books to look at the Jets, who in Todd Bowles seem to have gotten Ryan’s pre-2015 defensive mind with a higher level of discipline and professionalism, and argue that the Bills blew yet another easy one. But I think it’s more complicated than that. Ryan, as I’ve shown, really does have a strong track record as a defensive coach, and while Bowles was a hot coordinator so was Dan Quinn and that didn’t work out very well for Atlanta. I’m not sure there’s any way of telling before the fact which good coordinators will work as head coaches and which won’t. And after a look at this list of the 10 best non-Chip coaching prospects allegedly out there (Hue Jackson #1! (see comments; on reflection, Jackson is actually a really good prospect) Josh McDaniels #3!) I’d bring Rex back for another year.

A final point. As might have been expected, a lot of reports have surfaced suggesting locker room discontent in Philadelphia, leading some to suggest that Chip Kelly can’t hold an NFL locker room. Is there something to that? Possibly. I’m not wild about hiring coaches with exclusively minor league experience, as working with NFL players is a different and more difficult task than working with NCAA players. (And, obviously, giving full coaching and personnel control of your team to someone with 2 years of NFL experience is insane.) But I’m not sure that Kelly’s style can’t work in the NFL, either. He still had two winning seasons with poor quarterbacks to work with, and as Ryan shows their are equal perils in the “player’s coach” style too. I think Kelly’s inability to make talent judgments was a much bigger source of failure than his distant, authoritarian personality, which doesn’t seem all that different from the best coach in the sport. (I may be wrong, but the reports I read don’t suggest that Kelly treated his players as unprofessionally as some of the master’s lesser disciples.) Coaching professional sports is just a really hard job, and no matter what your style it’s hard to “hold your locker room” if you don’t win.

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