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Category: Robert Farley

Tommy Gun: For Shooting Dangerous or Delicious Animals

[ 43 ] July 2, 2011 |

Reading CJ Chivers’ The Gun, which is more of a history of automatic firearms than of the AK-47 itself. He mentions this advertisement, which is just 95 kinds of awesome. The idea of fighting off rustlers and other miscreants with a Tommy gun is shockingly appealing to me.  It’s not quite the same as hunting deer with an AK on full automatic, but it’s still a very interesting cultural artifact.  The Tommy gun itself became a symbol of (ultra sexy) gangsterism shortly after its introduction, but Thompson first tried to sell it to gangsters by putting it in a cowboy/Western setting. A couple of thoughts:

1. Are there any Westerns that feature a Tommy gun?  I know we see automatic weapons in The Outlaw Josey Wales and A Fistful of Dollars, but I can’t remember any submachine guns, even ahistorical ones.

2. If the answer to the first question is “No,” does anyone else think that Clint Eastwood has the responsibility to direct and star in a Tommy gun themed Western before he dies?

UPDATE [SL]: The basis for the script is already out there!

I Remember that War!

[ 12 ] July 1, 2011 |

Oh, now here we go:

I’d say Saakashvili doesn’t deserve Garcia, but they actually do a pretty good job.

We Can’t Look Weak in Front of the French…

[ 73 ] July 1, 2011 |

DSK case collapses, apparently. See Jeralyn and Emptywheel.

Some thoughts:

  1. When the news broke last night there was a brief spasm of NYT blaming, comparing the linked article to a similar article about William Kennedy Smith’s accuser. However, the NYT article in this case relies mostly on leaks from the NYC DA office, rather than independent investigation. This is not an anti-victim hit piece, but rather a report on how the DA office now views the case.
  2. Just because a woman lies about her connections with convicted felons doesn’t mean that she can’t be raped. However, when the only evidence of rape (as opposed to consensual sex) is the testimony of an unreliable victim, it does mean that a) it’s difficult to convict in a court of law, and b) we should be extremely careful about phrasing descriptors of the accused; innocent until proven guilty also applies to vaguely unpleasant Frenchmen. If the defendant is poor and black, of course, feel free to dispense with the former.
  3. In the United States, this case really hit a sweet spot; lefties willing to believe the worst of a powerful man with a history of sexual harassment, and righties willing to believe the worst of a Frenchman.  Turns out we all should have been more skeptical of the procedural competence of the NYPD.
  4. As is best practice in such events, I went back and searched for stupid things that I’d written about the case. Fortunately, not too bad; there was still plenty of unsavory victim-blaming, although Ben Stein and BHL will have some justification for being insufferable. There are obvious parallels with Julian Assange.  That said, there is also an important distinction between rape apologia and “I know him, and don’t believe he could have done it,” and in this case we had both.
  5. Nothing, NOTHING, that has happened in this case changes anything about my belief that it will be a fantastic season-opener for Law and Order SVU, which is a show that I don’t actually watch.

Prompt Global Strike and Executive Power

[ 6 ] June 29, 2011 |

My column this week is on the technological implications of the Obama administration’s excuse for avoiding the WPR:

In the future, however, presidents may resort to airpower in order to avoid congressional limitations on their executive power. A longer-range concern is that as the United States continues to develop technologies that increase the distance between “shooter” and target, such as advanced drones and Prompt Global Strike, power over decisions of military and security policy would shift even more radically away from Congress and toward the executive… In the short term, members of Congress concerned about executive control over war-making powers might be best advised to pay closer attention to procurement decisions. If the president continues to claim the right to use certain weapons of war without Congressional oversight, then Congress is clearly within its powers to deny those weapons to the president, or at least to demand accountability.




[ 24 ] June 28, 2011 |

Over the past two weeks I have driven thousands of miles, attended two bachelor’s parties, witnessed two weddings, and gained six pounds.  I’ve been only periodically in touch with the inter-tubes during the time, so please forgive the paucity of blogging.  Home by Wednesday night, with luck. Some random stuff I don’t have time to blog about:

Don’t be surprised by a couple more posts of this nature while I clear out the Google Reader backlog.

NATO: What is it Good For?

[ 13 ] June 22, 2011 |

My thoughts on Gates’ NATO speech:

It is worth noting, however, that protection of Libyan civilians through airstrikes sits so far outside NATO’s founding purpose that the framers of the 1949 treaty that brought the alliance into existence would hardly recognize the mission. NATO is a tool that has been effectively repurposed since the end of the Cold War, but tools are not infinitely malleable. So while the alliance may not be the ideal tool for managing military intervention in Europe’s “near abroad,” that does not mean that the organization is — or risks becoming — useless. Instead of disparaging allies, it would make more sense for critics to consider what NATO can and cannot do, and adapt their expectations accordingly.

Mr. Potter!

[ 39 ] June 21, 2011 |


Meanwhile, opinions about Henry Potter’s character have changed over the years. In light of the housing-market crisis, the fiscally responsible banker may not have been such a bad guy after all. The loans that he tried to prevent George Bailey from handing out were essentially subprime mortgages. Mr. Potter may have just been trying to stop the poor citizens of Bedford Falls from over-leveraging themselves. Who’s the evil capitalist now?

Mr. Potter didn’t want to hand out subprime mortgages because he would have been exposed in case of loan failure. If he had been able to sell those mortgages to a company that could bundle them and resell them as “risk free” assets, everyone in Pottersville would have received a loan. Indeed, given the rules it might have been fiscally irresponsible for Potter to behave in any other way.
And this, of course:

Data, College, and State Power

[ 26 ] June 20, 2011 |

I don’t know enough about the subject, so I guess I’ll just ask.  Is this to be taken seriously?

Last week’s announcement of new rules to bear down on career colleges like the University of Phoenix, which offer degrees in programs like Health Administration and Criminal Justice Administration, weren’t designed to force those questions. These programs come under a different section in the Higher Education Act, excluding them from regulations for how much money their graduates make. But the new rules — the gainful employment rules, as they’re called — could push federal regulators to start peering under the hood of more traditional colleges majors, according to reporting by Inside Higher Ed.

The issue is that the new regulations create the regulatory structure and a political vacuum ripe for more regulations. The rules, which penalize career colleges whose students cannot repay their loans, inaugurate what Kevin Carey, policy director for the Think Tank Education Sector, calls in the article a “new era of widely available data about how much college graduates earn and what kind of jobs they take.” He goes on to describe how, now that the beast is built, it will be easier for government to expand into other areas of education regulation. Once government policymakers can wield this data, it is only a matter of time before calls to clamp down on and curb federal spending throughout higher ed are heard.

…to be clear, my question here is not about the for profit institutions, but rather about the use of regulations targeting for profit institutions against traditional majors.

While I’m Enjoying Sunny Long Island…

[ 4 ] June 15, 2011 |

I’m traveling, and thus unfamiliar with any arguments, debates, quarrels, or skirmishes that may have developed over the past few days. However, I do have a couple of links. First, this week’s columnnis about reputation and the decision to remain in Afghanistan. Second, I wrote a guest post at The Will and the Wallet about my security assistance column from two weeks ago.

And Here We Are…

[ 101 ] June 12, 2011 |

Huh.  I wonder why the United States didn’t invade Libya for its oil at some point between 1991 and 2003. I also kinda wonder why, if we’re invading Libya for its oil, the war isn’t already over.  The interests of Britain, France, and the United States don’t exactly coincide where oil drilling and oil concessions are concerned, which makes it odd that one of the three hasn’t stepped up to finish the job, and presumably to ensure the access of domestic oil investors. Finally, I’m mildly curious why we haven’t yet invaded Venezuela; as we know, “the U.S. has long made clear that it will not tolerate hostile or disobedient rulers in countries where it believes it has vital interests, and that’s particularly true in oil rich nations (which is one reason for the American obsession with Iran).”  While I remain deeply skeptical about both the decision to intervene in Libya and the course that intervention has taken, I suppose you can count me as someone– somewhere– who doubts that oil is the driving consideration for US involvement in Libya.

I look forward to Glenn explaining why this rhetorical question: “Is there anyone — anywhere — who actually believes that these aren’t the driving considerations in why we’re waging this war in Libya?” and this statement: “That’s not to say that Gaddafi’s “resource nationalism” is the only or even overriding motive for the war in Libya,” aren’t contradictory; the first clearly implies that anyone who believes that oil isn’t the driving consideration for why we’re waging war in Libya is  a dupe, while the second allows that oil may not be the only, or even overriding, motive for the war in Libya.   It would have been nice if Glenn had made more clear what a radical retreat his “Update”, which reads in part “It’s just hard to believe that any rational person would believe that the war in Libya is unrelated to the fact that Gaddafi has been increasingly obstructionist in allowing Western oil companies access to that nation’s oil and that Libya is so rich in oil,” is from his initial post, which is explicit in claiming that the United States, Britain, and France have launched a war for oil.


For Sale!

[ 25 ] June 8, 2011 |

My recent comments notwithstanding, it should go without saying that my endorsement is most definitely for sale.  I, and indeed most of the other contributors to LGM, will happily shill for whatever you happen to be selling, provided you meet our very reasonable prices.  Of course, pricing depends on profile of contributor (Lemieux and I require top dollar, the rest of the band rather less), subject matter (Campos demands extra for weight loss product endorsements, and Noon’s coveted recommendation of anti-vax literature costs a pretty penny), nature of endorsement (if you want djw to actually use your hair product, or Loomis to use your hair loss product, you’ve got to be willing to open the wallet). Kaufman and Brockington are also available in the unlikely event that you can think of something that you’d want to have either of them endorse.

How About We Try a Day Without Bullshit?

[ 54 ] June 8, 2011 |

A couple of weeks ago, Mackenzie Eaglen and Bryan McGrath published “A Day Without Seapower,” a nightmare scenario in which Barack Obama breaks the coffee machine at the Heritage Foundation, among other depredations. I take some issue with elements of their case:

The most recent entry into this genre also comes courtesy of the Heritage Foundation, with an assist from the Weekly Standard. Mackenzie Eaglen and Bryan McGrath have penned an essay arguing that the United States needs to strengthen its commitment to seapower in order to maintain not only its global influence, but also the modern global economic system. Detailed at length in a Heritage Foundation report and in a briefer version at the Weekly Standard, Eaglen and McGrath’s nightmare scenario depicts the United States circa 2025 as a broken country, friendless and at the mercy of a nefarious coalition made up of China, Russia, India, Korea, Iran, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Palestine and Syria. Not pretty and altogether alarming. But before we beg the authors to save us, we might want to consider whether the wool is being pulled over our eyes. How does this dreadful state of affairs come about?

Two additional thoughts:

  1. This kind of nonsense highlights the need for robust progressive defense infrastructure. The problem with Heritage Foundation bullshit is that on relatively technical defense issues like this, there’s often very little pushback from knowledgeable progressives. It will surprise no one to find that I think that seapower is pretty important, and that there’s a clear progressive case to be made for a seapower-focused national security strategy. While things have certainly gotten better over the last couple years, we too often cede the field to Heritage Foundation bullshit artists.
  2. The lack of progressive infrastructure on these issues creates additional problems of opportunity. Mackenzie Eaglen is a Heritage Foundation hack; she’s paid to lie in the service of powerful defense interests. Not really my cup of tea, but I can respect that on some level; everybody’s got to make a living. Bryan McGrath is different; I’d like to think that if he had the opportunity to write a high profile brief in favor of seapower that didn’t involve a string of events somewhat less likely than a maritime oriented alien invasion. This isn’t to absolve McGrath; no matter how much I cared about seapower, I would never have put my name on garbage like this. Nevertheless, it would be nice if progressives offered some institutional alternatives.