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When The Obvious Needs Restating

[ 0 ] July 30, 2007 |

Oh, and to add to what Matt says here one interesting thing about the panel is that Rosen immediately conceded that while the quality of legal craftsmanship may be normatively important it has no impact on the public’s perception of the courts. This is empirically demonstrable — see Terri Peretti, for example — and it’s also common sense. Given that almost nobody without a professional obligation to do so reads judicial opinions, it’s highly implausible to claim there will be a public backlash to the courts if their reasoning isn’t good enough.

It’s also worth noting that while the public supports the ruling upholding the idiotic “partial birth” legislation, it supports it by less of a margin that it supports the legislation in the first instance, which is precisely the opposite of what the backlash theory would predict.


[ 0 ] July 29, 2007 |

The conference was really good; I strongly recommend it if you’re interested in such things. I was on a panel about anti-judicial backlash with the Reva Seigel, Robert Post, Roger Wilkins and Jeff Rosen, moderated by Edward “Closed Chambers” Lazurus. Although frequently timorous in social contexts I’ve rarely been at all nervous about public speaking, but given the shockingly large crowd (at academic conferences, I’m used to more like 5 audience members, and which as you can see was certainly not because of my presence!) and the high-wattage co-panelists it was a humbling experience, but I think a productive one. It was also filmed for C-SPAN, so it will probably be shown on a weekend late night so that the alcoholics, angry loners, and/or unemployables in our audience will be able to judge for themselves.

I will have more later, but the most important thing to note is that the Post-Seigel paper on backlash in available online. It’s brilliant, rich stuff. Two points worthy of emphasis: 1)in addition to the many empirical problems with the judicial backlash claims, it’s not clear why conflict avoidance should be such a high priority, and 2)claims made by people like Falwell about having been changed immediately by Roe tend to be retrospective projection, not supported by contemporaneous evidence. (The second point was also made recently by Michelle Goldberg.)

Civilized Discourse

[ 0 ] July 29, 2007 |

Intriguing results from an empirical study of Crooked Timber. See, this is why they’ve never invited any of us; those meanness stats would go through the roof the next time Althouse posted about the moderate pro-feminist views of Sam Alito…

"Fred Thompson Facts" . . .

[ 0 ] July 29, 2007 |

. . . fixed by your friends at the Sadly, No! Research Consortium.

I’m not sure what “Lawyers, Guns and Money Facts” would be, but speaking purely for myself, they’d be pretty goddamned boring.


[ 0 ] July 29, 2007 |

I’m sure the facts and quotations in this story have all been fabricated by anti-war zealots:

Iraq is facing a hidden healthcare and social crisis over the soaring number of amputations, largely of lower limbs, necessitated by the daily explosions and violence gripping the country.

In the north of Iraq, the Red Crescent Society and the director general for health services in Mosul have told US forces, there is a requirement for up to 3,000 replacement limbs a year. If that estimate is applied across the country, it suggests an acute and looming long-term health challenge that has been largely ignored by the world.

. . . The problem is the nature of the war itself, which has involved a very high incidence of blast injuries from car bombs and suicide bombers, as well as collateral injuries caused to civilians by blasts from US airstrikes, numbers of which have increased fivefold since early 2006.

This is a valuable reminder that — ground “surge” aside — there has been a surge in the air campaign over Iraq as well, with predictable consequences for civilians. In this piece, Peter Beaumont goes on to note that the prosthetics available to Iraqis are based on antiquated models at least 30 years old; private foundations, including one created in memory of Marla Ruzicka are trying to pick up the slack.

Whenever I read these kinds of stories, I can’t help but remember this classic moment from March 2003:

There’s a lot of money to pay for this that doesn’t have to be U.S. taxpayer money, and it starts with the assets of the Iraqi people and on a rough recollection, the oil revenues of that country could bring between $50 and $100 billion over the course of the next two or three years. We’re dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon.

To those folks who claim a withdrawal of American troops will mean that we’ve “abandoned” the Iraqi people, I say this: Prove to me that we haven’t already.

Sunday Battleship Blogging: USS Massachusetts

[ 2 ] July 29, 2007 |

The four ships of the South Dakota class were a follow up to the two ship North Carolina class. Initial plans for the South Dakotas had called for a reduction in speed from the 27 knots of North Carolina to 23, which would allow them to operate with the older ships of the battle line. However, it soon became apparent that most new foreign battleships had speeds in excess of 27 knots. The decision was made to increase the speed of the South Dakotas, while at the same time keeping the improved protection that had been worked into the design. The result was not completely satisfactory. The South Dakotas were more heavily armored than their predecessors on a slightly smaller hull, but at the expense of weaker underwater protection and an extremely cramped engineering section. Nevertheless, the South Dakotas were extremely effective ships, the only ships to fulfill the Washington Naval Treaty requirements while carrying 16″ guns, being protected against 16″ shells, and having a speed of 27+ knots. They also had a large and effective anti-aircraft armament.

USS Massachusetts, third of the class, carried 9 16″ guns, displaced 35000 tons, and could make 27 knots. She was commissioned in May 1942, and five months later joined Operation Torch, the US invasion of French North Africa. Although it was hoped that French resistance to the invasion would be minimal, a major French naval presence at Casablanca threatened to disrupt the operation. The incomplete but operational Jean Bart, a new French battleship, was accompanied by several large French destroyers. Massachusetts and several escorts were detailed to subdue this force. On November 8, while supporting landings near Casablanca, Massachusetts came under fire from Jean Bart. Massachusetts replied, hitting Jean Bart several times. Massachusetts and her escorts then opened fire on and sank a pair of French destroyers. French shore batteries inflicted superficial damage on Massachusetts, the scars of which are still evident on her decks today.

After a truce was concluded with the French, USS Massachusetts was dispatched to the Pacific, arriving in March 1943. The rest of her career would be consumed with carrier escort, convoy escort, and shore bombardment. At the Battle of Leyte Gulf, Massachusetts was part of the force that narrowly missed engaging Kurita’s battleships off Samar Island. She and the carriers she escorted operated against Formosa, Kwajelein, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and mainland Japan in 1944 and 1945. Her final mission was against an industrial complex at Hamamatsu on August 9, 1945, and it is thought by many that the last 16″ shell fired in anger in World War II came from Massachusetts.

USS Massachusetts returned to the States, and decommissioned in 1947. She would remain in reserve for 15 years. Because of the cramped conditions of the South Dakotas, the Navy preferred to use Washington and North Carolina as training vessels. Their slow speed relative to the Iowas prevented their reactivation for the Korean War. In the late 1950s, the USN began disposing of its remaining slow battleships, first the “Big Five”, then the SoDaks and the North Carolinas. Fortunately, a group of veterans from Massachusetts state put together a campaign to raise the money to save USS Massachusetts and convert her into a memorial. She was berthed at Battleship Cove in Fall River, Massachusetts in 1965, and remains there today. To date, she is the only of the eight surviving dreadnought battleships that the author has personally visited.

Funniest Thing You’ll Read this Weekend

[ 0 ] July 28, 2007 |


In this “reimagining” of the beloved occasionally moderately funny 80′s comedy series, a disillusioned high-powered executive, tired of a life of moral compromise, leaves Wall Street to run a cozy little hotel in a small Vermont town. His dream of rural tranquility is shattered when he runs afoul of Larry, Darryl, and Darryl, local psychotic inbred marijuana-smugglers who rule the town. While initially packing up his Benz and running for his life, Bob soon recognizes the clear moral choice before him, and is reborn as a shotgun-wielding avenger/hotelier in a place where violence is the only law, and everybody’s baked. This is not your uncle from North Jersey’s Newhart.

Read the whole thing for the A-Team, the Beverly Hillbillies, and Knight Rider.

. . . from d: Mike Schilling adds, in comments at Alterdestiny, “How about a version of M*A*S*H set during the Viet Nam war that’s really about Iraq?”

Al Gore=Hitler

[ 0 ] July 28, 2007 |


“Al Gore’s not going to be rounding up Jews and exterminating them. It is the same tactic, however. The goal is different. The goal is globalization. The goal is global carbon tax. The goal is the United Nations running the world. That is the goal. Back in the 1930s, the goal was get rid of all of the Jews and have one global government.” He continued: “You got to have an enemy to fight. And when you have an enemy to fight, then you can unite the entire world behind you, and you seize power. That was Hitler’s plan. His enemy: the Jew. Al Gore’s enemy, the U.N.’s enemy: global warming.” Beck added: “Then you get the scientists — eugenics. You get the scientists — global warming. Then you have to discredit the scientists who say, ‘That’s not right.’ And you must silence all dissenting voices. That’s what Hitler did.”

Via Rick Perlstein. And yes, this man is employed by a major cable television news network, and its name isn’t Fox. The dastardly liberal media, at work again…

If There Were a Dunce of the Week…

[ 0 ] July 28, 2007 |

…as many of you have predicted, it would be Gonzo. (Sigh. If only he actually were gonzo.)

My favorite moment this week (and I quote from his testimony): “I’m not aware, sitting here today, of any other U.S. attorney who was asked to leave. Except there were other instances, quite frankly, where a U.S. attorney who was asked to leave for legitimate cause.”

Jon Stewart’s response: “It would appear to many observers that the A.G. just admitted that some of the lawyers were fired for not legitimate cause.”

Eat the Rich; But First, Snack on Service Workers

[ 0 ] July 28, 2007 |

This, from Crazy Jesus Dolphin Lady, has got to be one of the strangest complaints about economic inequality I’ve ever read. After wondering what on God’s green earth billionaires actually do for a living, and after vaguely mourning that the “gap between rich and poor is great,” Noonan opens up about what she perceives to be one of great social corrosives begotten by the “new Gilded Age”:

There are good things and bad in the Gilded Age, pluses and minuses. I write here of a minus. It has to do with our manners, the ones we show each other on the street. I think riches, or the pursuit of riches, has made us ruder. You’d think broad comfort would assuage certain hungers. It has not. It has sharpened them.

Fabulous. In an era of “broad comfort” — when actual hunger and food insecurity has increased over the past decade — Noonan thinks we’ve all become a bunch of Goops. This is batshit. Regardless, her real annoyance here is not the hyper-rich — whose wealth she finds hopelessly incomprehensible — but the service workers who won’t keep their proper distance. In a sequence best described as the literary lovechild of James Lileks and Ann Althouse, Noonan deciphers the miseries of the age:

Here’s a moment in the pushiness of the Gilded Age. I walk into a shop on Madison Avenue daydreaming, trying to remember what it was I thought last week I should pick up, what was it . . .

“Hi! Let me help you find what you’re looking for!” She is a saleswoman, cracking gum with intensity, about 25 years old, and she has made a beeline to her mark. That would be me.

. . . What they are forcing you to do is engage. If you engage–”Um, thanks”–you have a relationship. If you have a relationship, it’s easier for them to turn you upside down and shake the coins from your pockets.

. . . There are strategies. You can do the full Garbo: “Leave me alone.” But they’ll think you’re a shoplifter and watch you. Or the strong lady with boundaries: “Thank you, if I need help I’ll ask.” But your reverie is broken. Or the acquiescent person: “Take me under your leadership, oh aggressively friendly salesperson.” But this is bowing to the pushiness of the Gilded Age.

No. “Bowing to the pushiness of the Gilded Age” means proposing tax cuts that would extend more than $11 billion in tax savings to the heirs of the Mars candy company while knocking $420 million from a program that provides heating assistance to the poor. Pushy, reverie-smashing service workers, I would submit, offer us no testimony whatsoever to the virtues or vices of the “new Gilded Age.” Undeterred, Noonan continues to scold the help throughout the rest of the column — berating sidewalk petitioners here, griping about restaurant servers there — while trying to maintain her status (perceived by Peggy Noonan alone) as a plain old middle-class girl from North Jersey.

Perhaps after gnawing her arm from beneath the president, Noonan’s wound has gone septic; perhaps when she wakes up each day, her head is simply filled with calliope music that must be transliterated into the semblance of political commentary. I really don’t know.

. . . Tom Hilton takes a few swings at the Dolphin Lady as well:

She never notices that the very rich don’t give a shit about the other 99.9% of the world? Or that across the economic spectrum, in ways minor and major, people have largely abandoned any notion of the public good? Or that in doing so, people are responding to a quarter century of indoctrination by Peggy’s ideological compatriots, beginning with her former boss? That this is a world she helped to create?

Arguments that I’m Supposed to Take Seriously for Some Reason

[ 0 ] July 27, 2007 |


More generally, I think a moderate tone is a good idea in these things. Otherwise, you run a high risk of looking like a jerk when you have to admit you’re wrong; or a real jerk when you pretend the whole thing never happened. Posts on what embarassing morons your opponents will be bitterly regretted if, say, it turns out that there is no such contractor at Beauchamp’s base; as will fulminations about left-wing lies if Beauchamp’s stories are corroborated at his court martial. Safer to say that your best judgement lies one way or another, and leave it at that.

But that’s not quite right, is it? At least at LGM, we’ve been somewhat skeptical of the story’s veracity from the beginning. We have not argued that the things that Beauchamp says happened indeed happened; indeed, while we’ve maintained that the stories are plausible, we’ve had our doubts as to particular details. For my own part, learning tha Beauchamp has indeed served in Iraq lends credence to his story. But that’s not really the point of the post that Megan cites. The boys at Blackfive, Michelle Malkin, Glenn Reynolds, and so forth have asserted that the story cannot be true for… some reason. Americans wouldn’t do that; nothing that the New Republic publishes can be trusted (except, presumably, for all of their pro-war stories and pro-war editorials); Beauchamp is a loser who writes poetry, and therefore must by lying, etc.

While it may turn out that Beauchamp is manufacturing this stuff out of whole cloth, none of the attacks that the wingnutosphere have launched have emanated even the faintest whiff of a good faith argument. Rather, they’ve depended on ad hominem assault, character assassination, non-sequiter contentions, and direct intimidation. I would grant a mild exception to the initial Goldfarb post, which at least tried to deal with the substance of the TNR diary.

But TNR’s defenders seem to think that it is a defense to say, “Well, everyone who’s talking about this is evil; and also, bad things happen in war.” Both could be true, and wouldn’t tell us whether *these* bad things happen. Some bad things mostly don’t happen in war (at least, not recreationally): squads don’t all start, say, cutting each other’s genitals off in the rec hall… Those aren’t idle questions; they need an answer better than “I friggin’ loathe Michelle Malkin.”

Sure, but that misses the point of my, and Digby’s, and Glenn’s posts rather dramatically. Michelle Malkin and Uncle Jimbo at Blackfive may actually be right about this case, but that doesn’t legitimate the approach that they’re taking. I suppose that I would ask Megan this: Do you think that there is any piece of evidence that Scott Thomas Beauchamp could provide that would convince Michelle Malkin and her crew that his story was legitimate? Do you remember the Jamal Hussein fiasco? Have you noted how many residents of right blogistan still insist that the weapons of mass destruction are in Syria, and that Saddam Hussein had close operational links with Al Qaeda? Do you understand why I’m bringing all of these up at the same time?

See also Ezra.

Fill in the Blank Friday Blogging

[ 0 ] July 27, 2007 |

So I don’t know about all you folks, but I am not so much a cat person. So much as I like the cute kitty photos each Friday (thanks, Rob!), I’m thinking about adding my own special flavor to the weekly standards.

With that, dear readership, I am requesting your help. What would you like to see (within reason)? Friday puppy blogging? Dunce of the week? A Friday Random Ten? Movie of the week?

Help me help you.

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