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What Do California and Somalia Have in Common?

[ 0 ] October 9, 2009 |

Considering that it’s this phrase, perhaps now is not the time to apply for a job at a UC poli sci department, especially seeing as how the UC system is operating with a $1.15 billion deficit. To think, the Vice Chancellor of my current institution was somewhat concerned about a mere £10 million deficit. (Incidentally, I’ve published a few things with the UCR political scientist quoted in the article).

But on the bright side, they’re basically giving houses away in Merced.


Laying bare the conservative libido.*

[ 0 ] October 8, 2009 |

Reading over the latest effluvium of John Ziegler, I noticed something odd:

It’s not the fact that there’s a picture of Sarah Palin there—this is John Ziegler after all—it’s that the picture of Sarah Palin has been inserted into a post that has nothing to do with Sarah Palin. Ziegler runs through the tired talking conservative points: Obama, Reverend Wright, the Surge, Oprah, the Olympics, Copenhagen, Tiger Woods, Henry Gates, Chicago, and David Letterman . . . which reminds him of the time he defended the honor of Palin family by protesting outside a CBS studio.

Think about it: Ziegler writes a post that offers a host of photogenic options, but because he mentioned Palin, her image graces it. Of course, he did write, direct and produce a hagiographic treatment of the former governor, meaning he has hundreds, if not thousands of hours of footage that we’re all better off not thinking about what he must do when he watches it.

*As opposed to “Laying Bear,” the secret Eskimo name Ziegler calls her when he and didn’t I just say we’re all better off not thinking about what he must do when he watches that footage?

The GOP Speaks

[ 0 ] October 8, 2009 |

Via Rick Perlstein, I Conor Freidersdorf has a new blog, The GOP Speaks. He’s sent seven innocuous, straightforward questions about the future of the Republican Party to County Republican Party leaders and officers. Their responses are posted without any further commentary or editing.

I Heart Michele Bachmann

[ 0 ] October 8, 2009 |

and I hope that she never goes away. While busy somehow managing to not pass a decent health care reform bill while in the unpatriotic possession of huge Congressional majorities, the Democratic Party have found the time (with the help of PolitiFact) to deconstruct several of her statements on the reform plan. Shockingly, she doesn’t appear to know much at all of what she speaks.

But then, she claims to be barely able to read.

The Sanctions Question

[ 0 ] October 8, 2009 |

Djavad Salehi-Isfahani, via Phil Korsnes:

if Iran is as close to nuclear capability as it is claimed, it should have a strong interest in non-proliferation. Making it difficult for a newcomer to join the nuclear club would enhance the value of its own potential membership and dissuade rivals from taking a similar path. If a major goal of sanctions against Iran is to dissuade other countries from taking the path to nuclear capability that Iran has taken, the possibility to make that case with “Iran as a partner” should be kept in mind…

This doesn’t make much sense to me; we strengthen non-proliferation institutions by not making a fuss about the Iranian nuclear program? Why would anyone ever believe a claim that went like this: “No, seriously; Iran is the LAST country that we’ll tolerate as part of the nuclear club. Nobody else gets in.” Indeed, I suspect that non-proliferation would suffer much more from toleration of and acquiesence in Iran’s nuclear program than in challenge to it, even if Iran manages to get a nuke anyway. There’s some value to both the international opprobrium that comes from violating non-proliferation rules (if Iran violates such rules by moving farther along the road to nukes), and to the added costs created by sanctions against such violation. I happen to think that the NPT has been a wildly successful international institution, and that preserving as much of its essence as possible is a worthy US security goal, and that defending the NPT through tolerating Iranian nukes makes about as much sense as fighting for non-proliferation by browbeating the Japanese into going nuclear.

That said, Salehi-Isfahani’s larger point about the effectiveness of sanctions is well taken. It’s not clear how sanctions lead to either a)regime change, or b)the end of Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Although the Iranian opposition has been surprisingly critical of the regime’s foreign policy stance, I’d still be surprised if aggressive sanctions regime didn’t produce a “rally-round-the-flag” effect. At the same time, I think that international disapproval is something that states take into account when they develop policy, and that the clear demonstration of such disapproval is sensible. Iran’s compliance with the IAEA is twitchy at best, although its announcement of the Qom facility and guarantee to allow inspections improves the situation. It’s key to note, however, that countries announce the existence of nuclear facilities and allow inspections of those facilities because they wish to remain in compliance with international law; agreements matter, and sanctions for flouting agreements also matter.

"Well, Your Honor. We’ve plenty of hearsay and conjecture. Those are kinds of evidence. "

[ 3 ] October 8, 2009 |

“Mr. Perry, don’t you worry. I watched Matlock in a bar last night. The sound wasn’t on, but I think I got the gist of it.”

In comments, Matt points us to this remarkable op-ed from one of Cameron Todd Willingham’s murderers, former prosecutor John H. Jackson. Essentially, Willingham was convicted based on two things: junk-scientific non-evidence that the fire was arson, and the ludicrously implausible testimony of a mentally ill jailhouse snitch. Amazingly, Jackson concedes that the central forensic junk science was “undeniably flawed” and doesn’t mention the snitch’s testimony at all, but continues to assert that Willingham was guilty. Nina Morrison systematically dismantles the remaining “evidence” Jackson cites. To summarize:

  • The vast majority of the potentially damning stuff (assertions that Willingham was a sociopath, assumptions that a fridge blocking the rear entrance was placed there intentionally, ambiguous statements at his daughter’s funeral) inextricably bootstraps from the assumption that the fire was arson. A claim for which there is now, as Jackson admits, no evidence.
  • Remaining is stuff that obviously isn’t evidence of anything (refusing to take an inadmissible polygraph), assertions that he tried to cause a miscarriage that were denied by his wife, evidence that makes clear we wasn’t a saint but don’t constitute anything remotely resembling evidence that he would burn his three daughters alive, and evidence that if anything points to his innocence rather than his guilt (his vehement — indeed, heavens to betsy, “vulgar” — rejection of a plea agreement.)
  • And, finally, the punchline: “ I am convinced that in the absence of any arson testimony, the outcome of the trial would have been unchanged, a fact that did not escape the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.” Well, if the country’s favorite conveyor belt to the death chamber refused to overturn his conviction, I’m convinced!

It would be a disgrace if Willingham was even prosecuted based on this crap. That he was executed…

Will Taiwan Employ Decepticon Technology Against China?

[ 0 ] October 8, 2009 |

Too good:

Via Asian Security Study and War is Boring.

Something that Alarmists Suggest I Should be Alarmed About

[ 0 ] October 8, 2009 |

So I don’t understand; is this something I should be alarmed about? At this point, I don’t even remember where I get all my books; some are sent by publicists, others by magazines, and still others are bought by my department. I’m going to assume that declaring that I get some of the books I review for free means I never have to think about this again.

Deep Mad Men Related Thought

[ 0 ] October 8, 2009 |

Is it just my imagination, or does the Draper marriage resemble the Soprano marriage in a lot of ways? Discuss.

MLB Playoffs ’09: It Takes A Tough Man To Make A Tender Forecast

[ 0 ] October 7, 2009 |

PHI v. COL: Very. very close series. It’s hard to pick a team with the Phillies’ bullpen, and the last month reminds us that while he obviously does the big stuff very well Manuel makes a lot of weird decisions (let’s stick with our 59 ERA+ closer! Why can’t Pedro throw 130 pitches?). If the Rockies had a left-handed starting pitcher, I’d pick them comfortably. But they don’t giving the Phils edges offensively and in the rotation, and it’s not as if the Rockies’ pen is rock solid either. My guess is that the Phillies’ pen doesn’t explode on them until the next round. PHILLIES IN 5.

LA v. STL Obviously, the Cardinals push the “in a short series, depth don’t count” CW to the brink. But I think there’s a lot of truth to it, and I think the Cards are the class of the league. I’m not unduly worried about the Dodgers’s slump, and I must admit I have a hard time accepting “Joel Pineiro and Ryan Franklin, excellent starter and dominant closer” at face value, but I’m taking the Cards here. CARDINALS IN 4.

BOS v. ANA Instinctively, part of me thinks that this is the year the Angels finally beat Boston. But Beckett/Lester is tough to beat in a 5-game series, and the Angels bullpen is (uncharacteristically) a lot worse. Despite the improved Halo offense, I’m going with the secret sauce this time. RED SOX IN 4.

NYY v. MIN Normally, in the baseball playoffs you have to play hunches for series that are a coin flip. Rarely do you see a mismatch like this — it’s not just that the Yankees are vastly better, but 1)the Twins are missing one of their two premium players and 2)they’re the kind of team — with a bunch of OK starters and no real ace — especially likely to get killed in the postseason. The Yanks are better at every spot in the lineup except catcher (where at least part of the time they have a HOF-quality player of their own), have a much better rotation and a better bullpen. So as would be obvious to anyone but a Slate columnist needing to make a buck…WORLD’S GREATEST MANIFESTATION OF EVIL IN 3.

…midwest product and djw are right to note that I blew one position comparison: Span is a lot better than Melky. I’ll still take Swisher over Kubel, though.

Take a number, please

[ 0 ] October 7, 2009 |

Shorter William Jacobson:

It will be a national shame if the press corps fails to devote significant attention to a half-literate blogger’s credulous airport encounter with Bill Ayers.

Get a grip. We’re still waiting to find out what happened to Rodrigo Villalopez, Bill Ferguson, and Curtis “Pookie” Jackson. The Bill Ayers thing can wait for now. Or perhaps Sammy Korir from the African Press International will pick up the story…

…UPDATE [By SL]: In addition, I note that reasonable, moderate, thinking man’s birther Tom Maguire also believes that this should be given Very Serious Consideration. A fine effort, although it’s not quite as funny as his concern trolling about the potentially grave consequences of punking Orly Taitz…

…and the foremost conservative intellectual of our age is on board!

Now we know who one of Andersen’s anonymous sources was.

[ 0 ] October 7, 2009 |

Who anonymously told Christopher Andersen that Bill Ayers wrote Dreams From My Father?

Bill Ayers.

Probably confessed it in the same sneering manner, too … which tells us more about Andersen’s credibility than anything else.