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Bobo’s Burkean Bush

[ 2 ] October 7, 2007 |

Henry Farrell notes a contradiction in Brooks’s embarrassingly belated realization that George W. Bush is not, in fact, a Burke/Oakeshott conservative. My favorite example from the Brooks archives, however, has to be this one:

Because of that legacy, we stink at social engineering. Our government couldn’t even come up with a plan for postwar Iraq — thank goodness, too, because any ”plan” hatched by technocrats in Washington would have been unfit for Iraqi reality.

I tell Oakeshott that the Americans and Iraqis are now involved in an Oakeshottian enterprise. They are muddling through, devising shambolic, ad hoc solutions, and learning through bumbling experience. In the building of free societies, every day feels like a mess, but every year is a step forward.

Yes, an extraordinarily ambitious plan (led by a Secretary of Defense committed to proving theories about warfare that would use as few troops as possible) to depose the government of a society riven by a complex web of sectarian conflicts, economically dependent on a single resource not evenly distributed throughout the country, and long governed by a brutal despotism representing a minority faction and transforming it into a stable pro-American pro-Israeli democracy was an example of the Oakeshottian conservatism of the Bush administration…because they had no idea what the hell they were doing or how they would accomplish their grandiose schemes. Right.

The Iraq War is a case in which Burkean conservatism (or its Foucauldian variants) has a great deal of wisdom to offer, and its advice is “it was an extraordinarily stupid idea.” That Brooks tried to turn this theoretical line into a defense of the war tells you what you need to about him. He was sort of the Oakshottian variant of Hayek-stops-at-the-water’s-edge libertarians, who’s now backtracking after his hack defenses of the war have proven disastrously wrong. I can’t say that I’m terribly interested in what he has to say at this point.

Whinebrenner

[ 3 ] October 7, 2007 |

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George M. Steinbrenner is principal owner of the New York Yankees.

It’s not just the announcers who can see only one possible explanation for Greatest Pitcher In Known Human History Joba Chamberlain giving up a run:

But with his team teetering on the brink of a knockout, the old Steinbrenner came out swinging on Saturday night, putting Torre on immediate notice and ripping into umpire Bruce Froemming, the veteran crew chief from Friday night’s Game 2 who declined to stop play despite an infestation of Lake Erie gnats.

“The umpire was full of [expletive],” Steinbrenner said of the retiring Froemming. “He won’t umpire our games anymore.”

Boo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo. Granted that Froemming should have retired during the Reagan administration, his decision here was unquestionably correct; bugs are part of playing baseball on humid days on Lake Erie. Moreover, the bugs also affected the hitters — for all we know Chamberlain would have given up a three-run homer pitching in a bug-free environment — and amazingly the bugs didn’t prevent Carmona from throwing that great slider, or Rivera from pitching two scoreless innings.

But it’s not only Joba; it’s the Greatest Athlete In History of Mankind who was affected!

In the wake of that Game 2 defeat, Steinbrenner said the Yankees had complained to baseball commissioner Bud Selig about the decision to play on. “[Selig] just said, ‘That’s in the umpires’ hands,’ ” Steinbrenner said. “But Jesus Christ, it was terrible. It messed up the whole team, [Derek] Jeter, all of them.”

Yes, Jeter is one for eight, and has no range, because of the bugs. It’s all the bugs. They somehow knew to affect only one team on the field; amazing.

The bad news here is that Steinbrenner claims that he’ll re-sign A-Rod no matter what. I would especially like to see the Yankees out before Slappy can get hot to increase the pressure to let him walk, but alas Cashman isn’t nearly as dumb as the median fan or pundit.

As for what will happen tonight, I can’t even predict. Part of me sees this like Game 4 last year, with Clemens pulling up gimpy and the Indians getting out to a big lead and the Yankees losing their discipline. Part of me sees the Yankees — as has been their wont — teeing off on Westbrook and getting right back in it. I’ll say this: I think it goes 3 or 5; I don’t see Byrd beating Yankees Stadium Wang. With Sabathia and Carmona both on full rest a Game 5 wouldn’t be awful, but still, it would be immensely desirable for the Indians to put the boot down now.

Broom Purchase By a Tribe on Aisle One

[ 0 ] October 6, 2007 |

I missed much of today’s rare instance of justice on Earth at various parental visitation and birthday party related programed activities. But I left dinner to hear descriptions of the tying run score with Sterling complaining about the bugs, went into the subway, and when I got out Sterling was still complaining against the bugs (although, oddly, they seemed to have less effect on Carmona.) And then, somewhat embarrassingly, me ducking out to the TV at the front of the bar to watch the bottom of tenth and eleventh, and then very embarrassingly me jumping up and down in glee after the Hafner single.

As I’ve said many times, there was little question that the Indians would thump the Yankees…

A First Grade Political Test

[ 1 ] October 5, 2007 |

The major Republican candidates have all endorsed Bush’s appalling veto of S-CHIP. If the Democratic candidate can’t repeatedly hammer his or her opponent throughout the campaign for this, they don’t deserve to win.

Dobson’s Bluff

[ 0 ] October 5, 2007 |

I certainly agree with Yglesias that “It would be a big, big problem for Giuliani’s general election campaign to have any of the major cultural conservative institutions backing a third party candidate. It’s generally very difficult to win when you have a spoiler trying to take you down the way Ross Perot was gunning for H.W. Bush in ’92 or Ralph Nader was taking aim at Gore in 2000.” (It’s particularly important that such a campaign would be primarily an anti-Giuilani campaign, just as electing Bush was the primary purpose of Nader’s campaign.)

One has to question, however, whether or not this is a serious threat. My default assumption that Christian conservatives, in Michael Tomasky’s phrase, “are far smarter than these left-wing lions of ideological chastity.” I think this is pretty clearly an attempt to stop Giuliani in the primaries rather than an actual intention to run a third-party candidate. One reason that Nader and his followers didn’t worry about the Democratic primary is that they’re essentially unappeasable unless the Democrats were willing to commit electoral suicide; any Democratic candidate capable of winning more than 75 electoral votes would be unacceptable, so there was no reason to bother. Dobson, on the other hand, would accept any major candidate other than Giuliani without even a sniff of a third-party run, and he’s trying to assure that it happens. I still think that Giuliani will not be the nominee. If push came to shove, though — granting that a pro-choice Republican winning would be a disaster for the forced pregnancy minority — I’m pretty sure that Dobson will not be indifferent about whether Giuliani or Clinton makes at least the next four years of federal judicial appointments.

That’s Going Too Far!

[ 0 ] October 5, 2007 |

Shorter Verbatim Daily Conservative, in re: one of the corporations that Made Milwaukee Famous sponsoring the Folsom Street Fair: “They’re still crappy beer, now they’re crappy gay beer.” Oh noes! (Alas, Coors would seem to be out too; I’m not sure if Schiltz or Hamm’s have been involved in any Wrongthink.) Remembering that these days Republicans are supposed to be a little more subtle about their gay-bashing, though, Mr. Conservative cites someone who claims that “The fact that it’s a primarily gay event is irrelevant – in their sponsorship of this fair, Miller is supporting public indecency. Public heterosexual contact would be just as offensive.” Oh, yes, if Miller sponsored, say, a Mardi Gras event that involved the public exposure of the female breast, I’m sure the same conservatives would be posting the telephone numbers of Miller executives; that’s completely plausible! Now let those conservative bloggers get back to carefully examining the pictures to see just how pre-verted they are.

When You Fund Health Care for Children, You Fund The Terrorists!

[ 0 ] October 5, 2007 |

The war on parody proceeds at full speed.

UPDATE by bean: . . . and look who’s laughing.

What He Said

[ 0 ] October 4, 2007 |

In response to this excellent Paul Waldman article, Yglesias cuts to the heart of the matter:

I’ll beat that. What’s really, really remarkable is the source of Iowa’s growing significance — arbitrary diktat from the media. If campaign reporters covered Iowa in a manner proportionate to its objective significance — the assignment of a tiny number of delegates by an unrepresentative electorate through an arbitrary and anti-democratic procedure — then Iowa would barely matter at all. But the press, instead of doing that, treats us to this endless valorization of the alleged “authenticity” of Iowa as if the vast majority of Americans who don’t live in all-white rural states are somehow fake.

These narratives of “authenticity” are indeed crucial, because the idea of having the two major candidates for President be effectively selected by a handful of small and unrepresentative rural states, one with a voting system badly designed even by American standards, rather than by the party membership as a whole or at least the party’s elected representatives is transparently indefensible. It’s not as if there aren’t plenty of examples of rational and democratic ways of selecting party leaders to choose from; we’ve just chosen to not to adopt them, and the silly veneration of anachronistic retail politics in Iowa and New Hampshire is a way of ignoring that it’s an incredibly bad way of choosing a President.

The Torture Administration

[ 0 ] October 4, 2007 |

It’s been widely linked, but this is a must-read story:

The debate over how terrorism suspects should be held and questioned began shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, when the Bush administration adopted secret detention and coercive interrogation, both practices the United States had previously denounced when used by other countries. It adopted the new measures without public debate or Congressional vote, choosing to rely instead on the confidential legal advice of a handful of appointees.

[…]

After the Supreme Court ruled in 2006 that the Geneva Conventions applied to prisoners who belonged to Al Qaeda, President Bush for the first time acknowledged the C.I.A.’s secret jails and ordered their inmates moved to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The C.I.A. halted its use of waterboarding, or pouring water over a bound prisoner’s cloth-covered face to induce fear of suffocation.

But in July, after a monthlong debate inside the administration, President Bush signed a new executive order authorizing the use of what the administration calls “enhanced” interrogation techniques — the details remain secret — and officials say the C.I.A. again is holding prisoners in “black sites” overseas. The executive order was reviewed and approved by Mr. Bradbury and the Office of Legal Counsel.

Hilzoy sums up:

These techniques are not just morally abhorrent; they are flatly illegal. One might think that since the President is required by the Constitution to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed”, this might be a bit of a problem. Not for the Bush administration. First, John Yoo wrote his famous “torture memo”, in which he argued that interrogation techniques were illegal only if they produced pain equivalent to organ failure or death. When that memo became public, the administration disowned it. But they also issued another secret opinion reaffirming the legality of the various combinations of techniques described above, and then wrote another secret memo saying that none of the CIA’s interrogation techniques constituted “cruel, inhuman and degrading” treatment.

The techniques in question are repugnant. But in many ways, the administration’s disregard for the law is worse. When your policies violate treaties you have signed and laws that are on the books, you are not supposed to come up with some clever way of explaining that appearances to the contrary, what you’re doing is not illegal at all. You’re supposed to stop doing it. When Congress decides to pass a law banning “cruel, inhuman and degrading” treatment, you are supposed to stop engaging in such treatment, not to redefine “cruel, inhuman and degrading” so that it doesn’t apply to anything you want to do.

Right. The article does an excellent job of detailing how this was made possible by turning the Office of Legal Counsel over to utter hacks willing to make arguments as farcical as they needed to be.

The Blackmun Files

[ 0 ] October 4, 2007 |

This online database of papers from the Blackmun files looks like an immensely valuable resources for scholars and watchers of the Court.

Doing the Bartman

[ 1 ] October 4, 2007 |

If I had have enough reason to hope that the Cubs lose, it’s the fact that many Cubs fans seem to still hold a grudge against against Steve Bartman, whose role in the defeat of the Cubs was trivial at best. First of all, it’s far from clear that Alou catches the ball in the first place. More importantly, the Cubs still had a 3-0 lead with one out and one on. I don’t think that Bartman caused Gonzalez to muff a routine grounder or Prior to spit out the bit or Kyle Farnsworth to be Kyle Farnsworth. Enough already. The Cubs lost because they lost; Bartman had nothing significant to do with it.

Bill Simmons’s entertaining roundup of modes of losing (“Is there another fan experience quite like overtime hockey, when every slap shot, breakaway and centering pass might spell doom, and losing feels 10 times worse than winning feels good (if that makes sense)?,” exactly right) brings up another example that’s always annoyed me: Cardinals fans whining about Denkinger’s blown call in the ’85 World Series. Again, they still had a lead with one on after the call; moreover, the winning runs scored with only one out. I can’t see what Denkinger had to do with, say, the crucial Porter passed ball, or the Cards getting the crap beat out of them in Game 7 (same thing for Bartman, of course.) The Cardinals lost because they deserved to lose.

Guaranteed 100% Accurate Playoff Predictions!

[ 0 ] October 3, 2007 |

Ah, what an interesting year this figures to be. Dammit, why can’t the Mets let me know if I won the playoff ticket lottery? I’m rarin’ to go!

Wait, what?

PHILLIES v. ROCKIES In some ways the most interesting first round matchup. Both teams are fun to watch. The Phillies have a tremendous offense hooked around 3 legitimate MVP candidates and a terrific young starter. The Rockies have a solid offense and a good pitching staff with an outstanding bullpen. The latter, I think, will be decisive in a series played in good and great hitter’s parks. Colorado’s run differential shows them as 4 games better than Philly, and that seems about right. Philly has the home field, but the evidence says pick pitching over offense in the playoffs. Another problem for the Phils: when it comes to Charlie Manuel in the postseason, I’m thinking “Don Zimmer, 1989.” ROCKIES IN FOUR.

DIAMONDBACKS v. CUBS. Your classic symbol of national league mediocrity. Although any team with Webb in its rotation can win a short series, the Diamondbacks are a fluke, a .500 team that somehow lucked into the playoffs. Their bullpen — which is their main strength — outside of Velverde has a lot of ERAs that aren’t backed up by peripherals or past performance. Besides, the Cubs have to carry their fans for a round before choking. Plus, while the Cubs don’t have a great offense its power-heavy oreintation is a good one for the playoffs (cf. their South Side neighbors in 2005.) CUBS IN FOUR.

INDIANS v. YANKEES. Another good matchup. The Yankees have an obvious edge in offense — only Sizeomore and Hafner would start for the Yankees. Basically, the Indians need two great starts from Sabathia and for Carmona to be as good as his 2007 ERA, and I don’t quite see it. And while to find a time when the Yankees lost to a team with a closer whose sole credential for the job is having both Randy Myers makeup and Jeff Reardon pancake foudation you have to go all the way back to 2006, having Borowski at the back end in a short series certainly doesn’t help. Plus, I think the relevant precedent for A-Rod’s playoff performance will be Bonds v. Overmatched Major League Pitching (2002). GREATEST MANIFESTATION OF EVIL ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH IN FOUR.

RED SOX v. ANGELS. Granted, I underrate the Angels every year. Granted, Lackey is the most underrated pitcher in baseball and I’m not surprised that Escobar had a big year. Still, the Angels are more than ten games worse that the Red Sox in run differential despite Ramirez, Ortiz and Drew all having off years that I don’t think mean much in terms of predicting post-season performance; basically, the Red Sox do everything better and have home field. Plus, Guerrero is hurting and I don’t think the Angels’ put-the-ball-in-play approach can work against the Sox defense the way it used to work against the Yankees. SOX IN THREE.

…As several people have noted, the claim about Ortiz is an egregious blunder; particularly before I made the comment I should have actually looked at the data. I stand by Posada over Martinez, although the latter is certainly very good. (I’ll grant that the difference between the two offensively is not as great as it appears in the 2007 stats, but Martinez having a better year throwing than Posada is also anomalous.)

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