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Category: Robert Farley

Rose Bowl

[ 23 ] January 2, 2012 |


2011 Prediction Review

[ 31 ] January 1, 2012 |

In accordance with the requirements of the Pundit-Blogger Accountability Act of 2010, here is my review of last year’s predictions:

World Series Champion: Philadelphia Phillies
College Football National Champion: Oregon Ducks
Heisman Trophy Winner: LaMichael James
North Korean Nuclear Tests: 1
South Korean Fatalities due to North Korean military action: 25
Russian Nuclear Submarine Accidents: 1
Israeli Strikes on Iran: 0
Sarah Palin Presidential Candidacies: 1
December 2011 Unemployment: 9.2% (8.6%)
Barack Obama approval rate: 50.1% (44.9%)
US GDP Growth, 3rd quarter 2011: 3.1% (1.8%)
Iraq Coalition Military Fatalities: 48 (54)
Afghanistan Coalition Military Fatalities: 650 (565)
Best Picture: Social Network
NFL #1 Draft Pick: Andrew Luck
Victor, Kentucky Gubernatorial: David Williams
# of Jonathan Pollards released: 0
US Supreme Court Vacancies: 1

And of course, I also placed dead last in the LGM World Cup Challenge. Thank God the Russians came through with the submarine thing, else this might have been embarrassing.

2012, and remember that past performance is no guarantee of future results:

World Series Champion: Texas Rangers
College Basketball National Champion: Kentucky Wildcats
Israeli Strikes on Iran:0
3rd Quarter 2012 GDP Growth: 2.0%
Number of Syrian Presidents named Assad on 12/31/12: 1
North Korean nuclear tests: 1
November 2012 Unemployment: 8.1%
Democratic seats, Senate: 47
Democratic seats, House: 220
GOP Presidential Nominee: Mitt Romney
Barack Obama Electoral Votes: 272
Afghanistan Coalition fatalities: 485

Happy New Year!

[ 11 ] December 31, 2011 |

Want to pause before the festivities begin and wish all of our readers a Happy New Year! Everyone at LGM is deeply grateful that you’ve chosen to spend your time reading, sharing, and commenting on our posts. It’s a level of attention that we certainly never expected, and probably don’t deserve. Nevertheless, we’ll try as best we can to continue to put together worthwhile content.

Thank you! Happy New Year! And whether you’re going out or staying in…

Don’t Project Your Artifice on Me

[ 38 ] December 31, 2011 |

A new meme is born?

Navel Gazing!

[ 37 ] December 30, 2011 |

LGM’s Top Ten posts from 2011:

1 Living a Lie Campos
2 Mystery of Cowardice Campos
3 What is Violent Rhetoric? Kaufman
4 The Many Lies of Joe Paterno Campos
5 The War on Drugs vs. the Constitution Lemieux
6 You Don’t Know How Lucky You are Boy, Back in the DPRK Farley
7 50000 People are Taking the LSAT Tomorrow Campos
8 On Bullshit and Law Schools Campos
9 In the Hollywood Woman’s Picture Abortion is Never an Option Lemieux
10 Where to Put Dan Savage Farley

We’d like to thank everyone for a fabulous year.  November 2011 was LGM’s highest traffic month on record, with October and December of this year behind only October of 2008.  Couldn’t do it without the little people, etc. etc.

Update: (PC)


Russia-India Cooperation

[ 8 ] December 29, 2011 |

Finishing a book manuscript, and so haven’t had much time for serious blogging recently.  Nevertheless, would like to drag everyone’s attention to Dmitry Gorenburg’s excellent series on Russia’s military relationship with India.  First part examines naval, second part ground and air, third part joint projects.

There’s a lot of interest here.  From a strategic point of view, the Indo-Russian relationship suggests that there’s something wrong with geopolitical scenarios that don’t take balance-of-power considerations between the three Eurasian giants seriously; I’m not looking at any one in particular, of course, but… From a technical point of view, I think it’s interesting how dependent both China and India continue to be on updated Soviet technology. I think that Feng might have more to say on this, but there’s a fascinating contrast between India and China as customers of Russian military tech.  India is a better international intellectual property citizen than China, and also lacks any serious security flashpoints with Russia.  On the other hand, China seems to be interested in pushing beyond what Russian technology can offer, even if major questions about the quality of the product of the Chinese military-industrial complex remain.

Cross-posted at ID.

A Rare Defense of the Irish

[ 100 ] December 29, 2011 |

Erm… awkward…

Five thousand Irish soldiers who swapped uniforms to fight for the British against Hitler went on to suffer years of persecution. One of them, 92-year-old Phil Farrington, took part in the D-Day landings and helped liberate the German death camp at Bergen-Belsen – but he wears his medals in secret.

Even to this day, he has nightmares that he will be arrested by the authorities and imprisoned for his wartime service. “They would come and get me, yes they would,” he said in a frail voice at his home in the docks area of Dublin. And his 25-year-old grandson, Patrick, confirmed: “I see the fear in him even today, even after 65 years.”

Mr Farrington’s fears are not groundless. He was one of about 5,000 Irish soldiers who deserted their own neutral army to join the war against fascism and who were brutally punished on their return home as a result. They were formally dismissed from the Irish army, stripped of all pay and pension rights, and prevented from finding work by being banned for seven years from any employment paid for by state or government funds.

A special “list” was drawn up containing their names and addresses, and circulated to every government department, town hall and railway station – anywhere the men might look for a job.

I don’t know enough about the situation to evaluate the accuracy of these claims, but assuming the story is correct in its broadest lines, let’s take a moment here to defend the indefensible:

1. Uniformed soldiers who desert are deserters; it doesn’t matter how noble the cause they deserted for. An army, and the government that the army is part of, cannot be expected to excuse desertion without incurring dramatically negative consequences for army cohesion and morale. This is not to say that there cannot be morally compelling individual reasons to desert, just that a modern army is under no institutional responsibility to respect those reasons.

2. The belief that the United Kingdom posed the most immediate and substantial threat to Ireland during World War II was hardly absurd or unreasonable. The UK considered preventive military intervention in Ireland on several occasions, wisely deciding to strike deals with the Irish government instead. In this context, the degree of support in Ireland for Germany isn’t surprising, nor is it surprising that the Irish Army would react poorly to soldiers who deserted to the British Army.

The post-war treatment of colonial soldiers who served with Free French forces during World War II is, to my mind, a greater injustice.  That said, persecution of deserters didn’t have to persist for very long.  States regularly excuse incidences of mass disobedience when political conditions change, and the world has been pretty comfortable with the notion that Nazi Germany was uniquely evil for quite a while.  A public amnesty is certainly long overdue.

Grades Go Down, But OOH SHINY

[ 10 ] December 28, 2011 |


A team of University of Oregon economists probes one of life’s age-old questions: Is there a relationship between academic gender gaps and a university’s football team’s performance?

The answer looks to be yes. In a National Bureau of Economic Research paper this month, economists Jason Lindo, Issac Swenson and Glen Waddell tracked how much female students at the University of Oregon were outperforming male students on grade point averages. They then mapped that against the number of wins the school’s football team had that season. And they found that, when the Oregon Ducks did better, the male students did worse.

Done? Then allow me to retort.

On broadly the same topic, here are the Bowl Mania standings to date:

1 Dyon1Go00ose 165 96.6
2 aintthatprettyracobeen 153 93.5
2 Drunken Warthogssde1015 153 93.5
4 ADDFTAVII 152 93.1
4 Memphis Jayjshinola 152 93.1
6 No, the other Spartansehlimbach 149 92.2
6 You Shumockcjcarr 149 92.2
6 UnleashtheFurycabotgk 149 92.2
9 Lexington Bearded Ducksfarls0 145 90.8
10 Lafayette’s FinestUKEvan 144 90.4
10 Fighting Red Frozensahsarmiento 144 90.4

This year the system allows you to adjust “confidence” rankings for unplayed games up and down until game time. Good to know if you suddenly get a strange feeling about the UCLA-Illinois game…

In Defense of Henry Clay?

[ 24 ] December 26, 2011 |


Now that I’ve got started, what is it with the adulation of Clay, Calhoun and Webster? Sure, they were the leading figures in the US in the decades leading up to the Civil War, but isn’t that like saying that Clemenceau, Hindenburg and Chamberlain played comparable roles between 1919 and 1939?

Some thoughts, acknowledging at the start that I can see Henry Clay’s house from my front porch:

  • As Quiggin notes, there’s a big difference between Calhoun and the other two. Calhoun was a resolute, committed, principled defender of slavery. Clay was a slaveholder, but never displayed much of a political interest in defending the institution, and was never particularly identified with “slave power”. Lincoln, of course, held Clay in very high esteem.
  • I think that (outside of the state of Kentucky) Clay’s legacy has always been mixed. Failed ambition rarely seems to be held in high regard in US politics, and Clay was certainly ambitious, having effectively run for President for two and a half decades. Clay is almost universally viewed as a skilled legislator, although it’s interesting that this also seems to be a relatively rare path to canonization in American political life.
  • Clay’s most important legacy is probably the American system, which involved the Federal government in the active development of the US economy, especially in the West. Obviously this itself represents a deeply complicated legacy, both in terms of environmental impact and relations with Native Americans, but on the basic concept of government intervention in the economy Clay was certainly more correct than his opponents.
  • While I’m happy to accept Ta-Nehisi Coates argument that we ought not think of the Civil War as a tragedy, I’m not sure it follows to say that attempting to prevent the war was an ignoble endeavour. Clay understood that any war would be extremely destructive, and that the Union might not survive the conflict. Although this certainly wasn’t his intention, delaying the war surely improved the prospects for Northern victory, and for the abolition of slavery. Again, Lincoln’s esteem for Clay should carry some weight on this question.

Working through all of that, I find myself wondering how Clay managed to achieve secular sainthood in the first place. It’s not that there’s any particular stain on his record, but rather that every part of his career was mixed, and every achievement bound up in a set of debates that were complex even at the time. Canonization often requires the dismissal of complexity in favor of a simple narrative, but in the context of Clay this is impossible. Would be interested to hear from the historians on how esteem for Clay came to be.

Where’s Dinesh D’Souza? Can He Get in on this Action?

[ 71 ] December 24, 2011 |

Niall Ferguson on Newt Gingrich:

I just read the transcripts of some lectures [Newt Gingrich] gave in the 1990s on “Renewing American Civilization.” They positively fizz with historical insights and brilliant brain waves. They make the case against big government as vividly as anything you’ll ever read.

Not really the time, Niall, to make Pankaj Mishra’s case

Why Do All These Racist Liberals Insist Fox News is Racist?

[ 96 ] December 23, 2011 |

I just want to point out that this is totally not racist:

A Fox News guest said that “you might want to say” President Obama looks like “a skinny, ghetto crackhead.”

Brent Bozell, of the conservative Media Research Center, appeared on Fox Thursday night, where guest host Mark Steyn showed a clip of MSNBC’s Chris Matthews saying that Newt Gingrich “looks like a car bomber.”

Steyn said that aside from anything else, Newt doesn’t even look like a car bomber, but a “big, cuddly, slightly older Winnie the Poo.”

“How long do you think Sean Hannity’s show would last if four times in one sentence, he made a comment about, say, the President of the United States, and said that he looked like a skinny, ghetto crackhead?” Bozell wondered. “Which, by the way, you might want to say that Barack Obama does.”

If you think that Bozell’s comment was racist, then you’re almost certainly a racist.  I mean, the fact that Bozell couldn’t think of any comparison for Obama other than “skinny, ghetto crackhead” obviously doesn’t reveal that he has any deeper attitudes about the position of African-Americans in the United States.

Next Steps with North Korea

[ 9 ] December 21, 2011 |

Two bits about North Korea this morning. First, in my WPR column I argue that the transition will likely involve factional conflict in North Korea, and that it’s worth reaching out to some of these factions:

It is wrong to say that the U.S. can “wipe the slate clean” with the new North Korean leadership, but the Group of Six could approach new talks under the premise that the past decade of bad blood was the responsibility of the previous ruler. No one believes this to be true, but diplomacy often requires public adherence to untruths. Moreover, a public diplomatic entreaty might increase the strength of the most moderate — or financially “flexible” — factions within the DPRK. If such entreaties fail, there will always be time for harsher measures in the future.

On Monday I was on the Alyona Show, talking North Korea transition and policy:

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