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Category: Robert Farley

Der Tag

[ 34 ] November 3, 2012 |

Today is the day that was supposed to set the terms on which Pac-12 and the SEC would be decided. The SEC has mostly held serve; if LSU wins at home they’ll likely knock Alabama out of the SEC championship game, and (probably) out of national title contention. Not so much in the Pac-12, where USC’s losses to Stanford and Arizona mean that the Ducks will probably host the Pac-12 championship game regardless of today’s outcome.  Still, USC could effectively end the Ducks national championship hopes, so it remains a pretty important day.

Were I a betting man I would probably take the Ducks -8.5, but I wouldn’t give much more than that. Marcus Mariota has played well, but I wouldn’t say at this point that I’d rather have Mariota running the offense against USC than Darron Thomas. Mariota appears to be more talented than Thomas, but holding it together in a critical game against an excellent opponent on the road is a thing, and Thomas had that as part of his skill set. I wouldn’t be surprised if Mariota turns out to be brilliant, but he has demonstrated a tendency to try to force passes into triple coverage, which won’t play against the Trojans.

Then again, the Trojans lost 39-36 to a team that the Ducks beat 49-0, so it’s hard to be bullish on their chances.  Even in the wins they haven’t looked great.  Barkley has demonstrated a surprising tendency to make significant mistakes, and I don’t like his chances against the Oregon secondary.  That said, USC is sufficiently talented to pull it together for a single game and beat anyone in the country, so there remain grounds for concern.

I’ll also say that the Ducks defense has been even better than I expected.  The 2010 defense was deeply underrated, mostly because surprisingly few people could make the connection that even an excellent defense will give up a lot of points in Chip Kelly’s scheme.  But this is really a fabulous defense; shutting out Arizona (which scored 39 against USC), and holding ASU and UW to seven each in the first half are genuine accomplishments.  USC probably has the best offense the Ducks has faced so far (although Arizona is close), but I’d be pretty surprised if they put up the same 38 that they did last year.

As for the other game, Alabama looks really, really good, and LSU has struggled in a couple of victories.  I think that the nine point spread is fair, in that it would leave me sorely tempted to bet on LSU.  I hope that LSU wins, as that’ll make it less likely that the Ducks will get pushed out of the national championship game in favor of one of the other undefeateds. Incidentally, Kansas State was scheduled to play at Autzen this year, before they opted out; coulda been a great game, but serves to demonstrate the disincentives that elite teams have for playing one another in the preseason.

…[EL] Here’s a great story about the nation’s best running backs coach, Oregon’s Gary Campbell. The underrated reason Oregon is so dominant is an amazing assistant coaching staff, especially at the running backs and offensive line. I’ve followed Oregon football for 30 years, almost the exact same amount of time Campbell has been there. I don’t think they’ve ever had a year with a bad running game.

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Foreign Entanglements: War on Statistics

[ 3 ] November 2, 2012 |

On the latest installment of Foreign Entanglements, Matt and I talk War on Statistics:

We also talk about what the foreign policy wonk space look like if Romney wins, and why there’s such a market for progressive critiques of Obama.

“Frankenforces” and the Future of the Arms Trade in East Asia

[ 12 ] November 1, 2012 |

Interrupting election coverage for this all-important update on the structure of the East Asian arms trade:

An arms relationship represents both an economic and a political commitment. What’s at stake in making such a commitment? While Sino-U.S. competition likely won’t descend into the kind of alliance structure that predominated during the Cold War, some navies could nevertheless find themselves on the “wrong side” of political competition in the Western Pacific, which could leave them vulnerable. Committing to one supplier creates a relationship of dependency, with the client needing to stay in the good graces of the patron in order to maintain access to spares, munitions, and modernization kits. The smaller navies of Southeast Asia need to decide how best to develop force structures in a future which may see competition between the United States and China.

What’s the Game?

[ 116 ] October 31, 2012 |

In the face of polls that increasingly suggest that Obama will win at least the electoral vote, major right bloggers (not just those connected with the Romney campaign) continue to voice confidence in Romney’s chances. This trend has been developing for some time, and has manifested in the War of the Skew, the War on Nate Silver, the War on the Central Limit Theorem, the War on Averages, all of which are part of a broader War on Numbers.

Mitt Romney may win, either because the polls turn at the last moment, or because the polls are wrong.  Every day, something happens that has never happened before.  Nevertheless, I’m curious about how guarantees of victory seem to become increasingly shrill as objective measures show Romney’s chances fading.  Possibilities:

  1. Conservatives genuinely believe that the polling is wrong, that only Rasmussen and Gallup have it right, and that Romney will win 300+ electoral votes.
  2. Conservatives don’t genuinely believe Romney will win, but continue to think that he can win, and  believe that putting an extremely positive spin on bad numbers helps enthusiasm, turnout, etc.
  3. Displays of confidence in Romney are part of intra-movement political posturing; allowing that Obama may win indicates lack of faith, commitment, enthusiasm, et al. In the post-2012 conservative movement landscape, having a reputation as a loyal soldier (even in a lost cause) is seen as a positive good.

Of the three I’m certain there’s some of #1; motivated bias is a strong thing.  I’m curious about the balance of 1 with 2 and 3, however.  Broadly speaking, both 2 and 3 are quite reasonable.  Indeed, conservative optimism in the face of adversity is, in some cases, arguably more sensible than progressive despair. Romney can win,  and its unclear that public recognition of the magnitude of the obstacles to victory is helpful to his cause. And given that the marketplace of conservative thought continues to generously reward a select number of opinion leaders, #3 is also altogether reasonable.

Thoughts?

LGM 2012 Electoral Vote Challenge

[ 147 ] October 29, 2012 |

In keeping LGM’s long history of pointless competition community building, let me announce the 2012 LGM Electoral Vote Challenge.  To enter, create a map here, copy the unique URL (through the “share” button), then paste into a comment. Victor will be determined on the assumption that there will be no “faithless” electors.

  • First tiebreaker: Correct President (If Romney wins 274, a 284 is preferred to 264).
  • Second tiebreaker: Closest to Obama national vote percentage (New York Times) as of November 9, 12pm EST.
  • Third tiebreaker: Closest to Obama margin-of-victory in percent in Massachusetts (New York Times) as of November 9, 12pm EST.

One vote per person, which we will enforce to the best of our ability.

My map is here. This differs from the prediction I made in January only by the shift of Ohio from Romney to Obama. Obama national vote: 49.8%.  Obama MOV in MA: 18.2%

Winner gets a prize selected from the LGM Store.

“The Roots of the Crisis”

[ 39 ] October 25, 2012 |

This is just hopelessly lazy:

To understand the roots of the crisis in Libya, after all, would mean examining how, for years, the United States helped Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi and other Arab leaders hold on to power and terrorize their opponents anywhere in the world, in the name of the “war on terror.” It would mean exposing successive administrations’ rendition and torture policies, and their collusion with despotic Arab regimes to carry them out. Though many Arabs targeted by the United States remained focused exclusively on challenging the regimes in their home countries—and refused to harm civilians to achieve their aims—some came to regard the United States, its assets and civilians as legitimate targets in some circumstances.

There are surely some time periods and some leaders for which the “hold on to power and terrorize their opponents” would be an appropriate description of US policy; in the case of Libya, the US became more willing to cut Qaddafi slack after 2003, in return for cooperation on the Libyan nuclear program and for the assistance of the Libyan intelligence. For approximately the 34 years prior to the nuclear deal of 2003, US policy (pursued with uneven enthusiasm) was to support the overthrow of the Qaddafi regime. It’s entirely reasonable to complain about US willingness to cooperate with the Libyan security services after 2003, but it should bear mention that Qaddafi was rather adept at holding onto power and terrorizing his opponents anywhere in the world without any assistance from the United States. In face, active US opposition was incapable of preventing Qaddafi from undertaking these two projects. Moreover, I don’t recollect that the Nation was particularly enthusiastic about US policy towards Qaddafi prior to 2003.

It isn’t just Qaddafi; I feel like pulling my hair out every time I read that Mubarak was a US puppet/creation. There’s an element of truth to the claim, but only an element; Mubarak was the third in a line of dictators, the first two of whom had demonstrated every capacity for holding onto power even in context of active US opposition. Similarly, the United States has been more and less willing to deal with the Assads over the years (including utilizing Syrian security services), but it makes no sense whatsoever to claim that the resilience of the Assad regime is because of US assistance. Simply because the US is periodically willing to work with a particularly dictator does not indicate that the US is responsible for the survival of said dictator; it may be convenient for domestic opponents to make such an argument, but authoritarian regimes can survive with no assistance whatsoever from the United States.

Vote Gary Johnson!

[ 223 ] October 25, 2012 |

I would like to point out that voting for Gary Johnson is a sign of deep moral seriousness:

Johnson advocates severe near-term fiscal and monetary policy austerity. When we talked at (or rather, outside of) the Republican National Convention, he told me he would cut Medicare spending by 43 percent in the short term. He repeatedly insists that “we are in the midst of a monetary collapse” and says he favors returning the United States to a (deflationary) metallic currency standard. He says he would have opposed TARP and allowed systemically important banks to fail.

In other words, if Johnson had been president in 2008, he would have allowed the U.S. financial system to collapse and the country to fall into depression. And if he became president now, he would do his best to strangle the tepid recovery we are enjoying and turn it into another severe recession.

But when you’re as morally serious as Conor Friedersdorf, the deaths caused by a depression and by the collapse of the US health care system don’t count.

Tigers!

[ 79 ] October 24, 2012 |

I got nothing against the Giants, but as an associate member of the Detroit diaspora, I gotta cheer for the Tigers in this one. Let this serve as an open thread for Game 1.

Final Debate Thoughts: Horses and Bayonets

[ 50 ] October 23, 2012 |

Some thoughts over at the Diplomat on the debate, and on what a Romney administration Navy might look like:

However, the Romney campaign has given little indication as to how it will pay for these increases.  Unless it can reallocate funding from the other services, an increase in the size of the Navy will require a larger defense budget.  The Romney campaign has committed to this, but increasing the budget puts Romney’s other fiscal goals in jeopardy.  Indeed, Lehman’s account of Romney naval policy is notable for its failure to make any choices; new frigate, more submarines, more carrier air groups, LCS, and so forth.  Responding to Cavas’ “Is there any program right now that you would cut?,” Lehman said “I wouldn’t single out any program at this time. I think there’ll be a hard look at all the programs. But that’s not something the campaign is undertaking at this point, and won’t until after the election.”

One more point; Romney walked into the “horses and bayonets” point as if he and his campaign hadn’t been telegraphing the punch for several months. It’s hard to understand how he and his campaign didn’t appreciate that Obama would be able to come up with some kind of response; I suspect that they’re still living in a universe where any suggestion of defense cuts is essentially political poison. There’s no reason whatsoever to think that’s the case right now.

Monday Morning Roundup

[ 3 ] October 22, 2012 |

Starting the week off with some lazy blogging:

WHAT ELSE DID DIE HARD 4 LIE ABOUT?

[ 15 ] October 21, 2012 |

Everything you wanted to know about flying the F-35B:

Foreign Entanglements: Forecasting

[ 52 ] October 20, 2012 |

On this week’s episode of Foreign Entanglements, Matt and Daveed preview Monday’s debate:

In related news, Drezner bitterly (and appropriately) denounces the debate agenda. The disaster of Obama’s Honduras policy, for example, will likely receive little attention

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