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Rudy Giuliani: Authoritarian

[ 7 ] October 28, 2007 |

Via Yglesias, two of the key things you need to know about Giuliani:

Beyond religious issues, a second conservative trait defined Giuliani’s tenure: his Cheney-esque appetite for executive power. In 1999, for example, he directed (without the City Council’s permission) the police to permanently confiscate the cars of people charged with drunken driving — even if the suspects were later acquitted.

[…]

The fanciful notion of Giuliani’s liberalism also omits the pi¿ce de r¿sistance of his mayorship: his flagrantly undemocratic bid to stay in office for an extra three months after Sept. 11, 2001. During earlier crises, even World War II, U.S. elections had always managed to proceed normally. But Giuliani maneuvered for weeks to remain mayor after his term-limited exit date. Only as normalcy returned to New York did his power grab fail.

If you think that John Yoo has an excessively narrow view of executive powers, you’ll love Rudy.

Would You Like That JD Neat, on the Rocks, or Injected Into Your Cock?

[ 0 ] October 28, 2007 |

I’m not sure that this is an optimally healthy lifestyle.

We Have A Game!

[ 6 ] October 28, 2007 |

Now if they could only force them to bring Gagne in, things could get really interesting. Even Kaz’s bizarre stolen base down 6-2 may have paid off, because if the infield is playing a DP depth I don’t think Tulowitzki’s grounder gets through…

…well, OK, scratch that.

Gail Collins: There To Make MoDo and Bobo Look Smart

[ 28 ] October 27, 2007 |

I forgot to blog about this on Thursday, but this has to rank as one of the most remarkable recent paragraphs written on the increasingly embarrassing NYT op-ed page:

Lately, anti-Huckabee conservatives have been suggesting he’s soft on crime. The story involves an Arkansas man, Wayne DuMond, who was accused of kidnapping and raping a high school cheerleader in 1985. While he was free awaiting trial, masked men broke into his home, beat and castrated him. His testicles wound up in a jar of formaldehyde, on display on the desk of the local sheriff. At the trial, he was sentenced to life plus 20 years. When Huckabee became governor, DuMond was still in an apparently hopeless situation, though theoretically eligible for parole. Huckabee championed his cause, and wrote him a congratulatory letter when he was finally released in 1999. Then in 2000 DuMond moved to Kansas City, where he sexually assaulted and murdered a woman who lived near his home.

“There’s nothing you can say, but my gosh, it’s the thing you pray never happens,” the clearly tortured Huckabee recently told The National Review. “And it did.” If by some miracle he became the presidential nominee, there would obviously be many opportunities to point out that Michael Dukakis never sent a letter to Willie Horton celebrating his furlough.

Why do the leaders of the religious right keep sidling away from a Baptist minister whose greatest political sin seems to have been showing compassion to a prisoner who appeared to deserve it?

Tristero and Somerby point out the rather massive gap in the story here: that DuMond was released not out of some independent sense of compassion but because a wingnut campaign on his behalf was launched because the woman DuMond raped was a distant relative of Bill Clinton. There also doesn’t seem to be any corroborating evidence that DuMond was the victim of a vigilante attack, which is the presumed source of the “compassion” allegedly demonstrated by Huckabee (unless Collins wants to argue for early parole for serial rapists on the merits.) This was not just a parole that happened under Huckabee’s watch, but one he personally intervened to secure. Was this result of a careful assessment of the facts? Where did he get the information that made him decide that keeping DuMond in prison was unjust? Er:

The state official who advised Huckabee on the Dumond case confirmed that the governor knew very little about Ashley Stevens’ case:

“I don’t believe that he had access to, or read, the law enforcement records or parole commission’s files — even by then,” the official said. “He already seemed to have made up his mind, and his knowledge of the case appeared to be limited to a large degree as to what people had told him, what Jay Cole had told him, and what he had read in the New York Post.”

Jay Cole, like Huckabee, is a Baptist minister, pastor for the Mission Fellowship Bible Church in Fayetteville and a close friend of the governor and his wife. On the ultra-conservative radio program he hosts, Cole has championed the cause of Wayne Dumond for more than a decade.

Cole has repeatedly claimed that Dumond’s various travails are the result of Ashley Stevens’ distant relationship to Bill Clinton.

The governor was also apparently relying on information he got from Steve Dunleavy, first as a correspondent for the tabloid television show “A Current Affair” and later as a columnist for the New York Post.

Much of what Dunleavy has written about the Dumond saga has been either unverified or is demonstrably untrue. Dunleavy has all but accused Ashley Stevens of having fabricated her rape, derisively referring to her in one column as a “so-called victim,” and brusquely asserting in another, “That rape never happened.”

The columnist wrote that Dumond was a “Vietnam veteran with no record” when in fact he did have a criminal record. He claimed there existed DNA evidence by “one of the most respected DNA experts in the country” to exonerate Dumond, even though there was no such evidence. He wrote that Bill Clinton had personally intervened to keep Dumond in prison, even though Clinton had recused himself in 1990 from any involvement in the case because of his distant relationship with Stevens.

“The problem with the governor is that he listens to Jay Cole and reads Steve Dunleavy and believes them … without doing other substantative work,” the state official said.

Had Huckabee examined in detail the parole board’s files regarding Dumond, he would have known Dumond had compiled a lengthy criminal resume.

Interesting definition of “compassion” there. The bottom line is that a woman is dead, not as a tragic consequence of an imperfect parole system but because Huckabee went along with crackpot anti-Clinton conspiracy nuts and released someone with a significant history of violence and sexual assault. Seems like something worth considering when determining if someone would make a good president for me. But that would mean returning to the lunatic war on the Clintons, in which the Times was frequently complicit, and we can’t have that!

The Overrated Led By the Even More Overrated

[ 16 ] October 27, 2007 |

The glorious effects of the reign of Charlie Weis, Super Genius (TM):

Weis’ Fighting Irish now stand at 1-7. This record is only the faintest indicator of just how awful Notre Dame is. They have lost nine of their last 10 games, by an average of 24 points. None has been close. While Notre Dame has suffered very few injuries, three of its opponents have had to play the Irish without their starting quarterbacks. Two of those teams, USC and Michigan, nonetheless beat Notre Dame by a larger margin than either has beaten any other opponent so far this year. Notre Dame’s lone win came against UCLA, which had been forced to use its third-string quarterback, a walk-on. In that game, Notre Dame compiled just 140 yards of offense, but won with the help of seven Bruin turnovers, five of them hand-delivered courtesy of the hapless walk-on signal-caller.

Just how bad is Notre Dame? Of the 119 teams in Division I-A, ND is 119th in total offense, 119th in rushing offense, 112th in passing offense, and 118th in scoring. If Notre Dame had doubled its scoring output, it would still rank 108th. If it doubled its rushing output (currently 34 yards a game), it would barely eke out Duke for 118th place.

The only thing not to like is that we’ll lose the annual pleasure of Notre Dame being humiliatingly demolished in a bowl game. On the other hand, this is one more BCS bowl a year with some chance of having a competitive game.

Maybe I’m wrong, but it also seems to me that Weis is getting off relatively unscathed here. Callahan is having an awful-but-not-quite-this-awful year with a proud team, and people in Lincoln want his head on a pointed stick. I haven’t sensed this with Weis.

The Beauchamp Response

[ 12 ] October 26, 2007 |

I’ve long been skeptical about the Beauchamp stories, and wouldn’t be surprised if more elements of them were proven false. Having said that, though, I see nothing objectionable here. Obviously, 1)there’s no reason to uncritically believe the self-serving results of an investigation the Army refuses to make public, and 2)a recantation under the supervision of his superiors is hardly credible, especially if it’s subsequently withdrawn without his supervisor’s presence. The other thing to note is that the easy way out for TNR would be to just throw Beauchamp under the bus, since nothing of any significance turns on the veracity of his stories (contrary to the myths being spun about these cases, nobody cared about his diaries until right-wing bloggers made a big deal about them, and nobody’s case against the war turns on the bad behavior of some individual soldiers), especially since it’s not as if the magazine is against the war anyway. I think Foer deserves credit for backing up his writer until actual verifiable evidence that further aspects of his stories are false (and “they don’t sound right” or “no soldiers would ever do anything against the rules” certainly don’t count) emerges.

UPDATE: A correspondent points out that Beauchamp didn’t even retract his story to the military. but simply refused to say anything.

UPDATE THE SECOND: A roundup of wingnuttery on the subject from John Cole.

About Time

[ 16 ] October 26, 2007 |

Georgia Supreme Court rules, 4-3, that Genarlow Wilson’s 10-year sentence for receiving a consensual blow-job from a 15 year-old when he was 17 was cruel and unusual punishment.

The Case Against Mukasey

[ 0 ] October 26, 2007 |

I lay it out in a new article at TAP.

This is a difficult question; I fully expected to support the nomination, and I certainly don’t think that there will be a better candidate. The bottom line for me is that nobody is going to act as a good AG for this administration, so it’s more important for the Senate to send a signal that opposition to arbitrary executive power and torture should be non-negotiable issues (and defining torture as not-torture and nominally opposing torture but removing any checks on executive power that could actually prevent it are not going to fool anybody.)

Moral Relativist Of The Day

[ 7 ] October 26, 2007 |

Rudy Giuliani.

This is a distinction that many Iraq dead-enders don’t seem to grasp, but it’s quite straightforward, so let me help. “Torture is wrong” is –right or wrong — not a moral relativist position. “Torture is wrong when other people do it but OK when we do it” is pretty much the definition of a moral relativist position, and indeed the kind that is especially odious: exempting yourself from the standards from which you hold others. You’re welcome!

Tough Gig

[ 0 ] October 26, 2007 |

Hank Steinbrenner:

“I think the most important thing is, whoever we hire, give him a chance. Because he’s not getting the ’96 Yankees. He’s getting a younger team, and for the most part, it’s a transition period, so give him a little while.”

Yeah, you have to show great patience with a manager given that paucity of talent to work with. Right. Assuming the major free agents return, the ’96 Yankees are clearly better than the ’08 Yankees at the following positions:

  • Centerfield
  • First base, assuming they don’t sign someone better than Tino “Even More Overrated Than Mattingly” Martinez

And, er, that’s it. O’Neill and Abreu are a wash, although I grant that Abreu has much lower Water Coolers Destroyed and Bitching Incessantly About Belt-High Pitches Down the Middle Called Strikes averages. Jeter ’08 is obviously better than Jeter ’96, even granting the regression in his defense. And some of remaining edges are, of course, massive: one of the 10 best players ever against the shell of Wade Boggs and Charlie Hayes, Cano against Duncan (although Duncan did have a fluke season in ’96 itself,) Matsui/Damon against Ice Williams, bordeline HOFer Jorge Posada against Joe Girardi. The ’96 Yankees did have a veteran rotation, but apart from Cone’s 11 starts it was merely good; Petite was a little better, but it seems likely that Wang/Hughes/Chamberlain will outpitch Key/Rogers/Doc (ERA+s of the latter 3: 107, 107, 100.)

Even granting that the earlier team had an excellent bench (one thing Torre deserves credit for, and which largely got away from him in later years) and more bullpen depth, please. Whoever manages the team in ’07 ’08 will have far more to work with and merits a high level of impatience.

Spot the Missing Variable!

[ 10 ] October 25, 2007 |

Roger Cohen complains that “Germany, Spain and Italy” are being insufficiently “flexible” about the use of military force. And it would probably be desirable for these countries to send more troops to Afghanistan, although to claim that this makes them “pacifist” is silly. The huge hole in the argument here, though, is that Cohen doesn’t seem to spend much time wondering why these countries aren’t enthusiastic about providing resources to an American-led invasion at this point. Have Italy and Spain always been this reluctant about deploying troops? Might there have been, say, some events of very recent vintage that made them more reluctant? Hmm, I’m trying to think…

This is another classic example of liberal hawk narcissism, the idea that we could somehow fight a dream war in Iraq rather than the one being fought by George Bush. At any rate, hawks can’t have it both ways. They can’t applaud Bush for ignoring European opinion and blundering into an American-dominated military operation in Iraq, despite the lack of either a serious security threat or a viable reconstruction plan, and then complain about how the countries Bush systematically alienated won’t help the United States out of other jams. Cohen, as always, lets his pet war of the hook and pretends that this “pacifism” — in two cases attributed to countries whose pacifism oddly didn’t prevent their previous governments from going into Iraq, which is one reason why they’re the previous governments — just sort of emerged in a vacuum. In the real world, of course, squandering goodwill towards the United States is another reason why Iraq was a very stupid idea.

World Serious

[ 43 ] October 25, 2007 |

A good roundup from Nate Silver. The Red Sox are not only the best team in baseball but are, on paper, as well-designed for the playoffs as can be. On the other hand, the Rockies are a better team than their regular season record suggests. One concern for Boston would be that I’m not sure that their rotation 2-4 is as good as the numbers suggests; Schilling had nothing even in his Game 6 win, and Dice-K seems out of gas. Should be a competitive series overall, although you have to pick Boston in 6. If Beckett loses, though, all bets are off. Like most neutral observers I’ll be cheering for the Rockies but obviously it’s a low-risk low-reward series for me.

Did they just call John Williams the most accomplished composer of our times?

…see also Charlie Pierce on the great Washington Heights virtuoso.

…I was hoping the Jeff Francis would restore the honor of Canadian pitchers after the unpleasantness in the other dugout, but I guess not…

…What am I talking about? Brilliant clutch pitching from Cy Young Gagne.

…Responding to McCarver’s bizarre claim that these were not “your grandfather’s Rockies,” a commenter notes that “My father’s Rockies was a hockey team coached by Don Cherry.” Wasn’t that Hardy Astrom pitching in the eighth for the Yankees Red Sox tonight? I suppose it would be pushing it to note that I once went to a hockey school where one of the coaches was the guy who recorded the only shutout in the (hockey) Rockies’ history…

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