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Make It Public

[ 0 ] February 15, 2009 |

The more that’s known about Yoo, Bybee and the Bush administration’s arbitrary torture regime, the better.


[ 0 ] February 14, 2009 |

… what were thoughts on the mythos exposition last night on BSG? My first thoughts:

1. It made more sense than I expected.
2. It left some productive directions to take characters in, especially John and Ellen.
3. It’s good that they wrapped up so many of the major question with five episodes left, such that the primary dramatic events of the conclusion will be character rather than mythos driven.

And obviously, if you don’t want to see spoilers don’t click on the comments.

…and yes, I am a hero. A real, sex-getting hero.

From Colony to Superpower XI: Prelude to Hegemony

[ 0 ] February 14, 2009 |

Read Erik’s contribution first; for some reason he seems to think that Calvin Coolidge was a boring guy. He also talks a bit about US policy towards Latin America and the infant Soviet Union. I think that I found this chapter quite a bit more interesting than he did.

One of the strengths of Herring’s account is that he focuses on the behavior of private actors as much as the government itself. Private actors, from missionaries to bankers to investors, made an enormous contribution to US foreign policy during this decade. Such actors always play a role, of course, but the relative disinterest of Coolidge and Harding to foreign policy made the phenomenon particularly visible during their tenure. Indeed, two of the most important foreign policy programs pursued by these administrations, famine assistance to the Soviet Union and European debt relief, consisted substantially of government coordination of private assistance. The former may have saved the Soviet Union, while the latter preserved, for a while, the European peace. Reparations-driven financial collapse threatened the continent on more than one occasion, and the combination of public and private US diplomacy helped broker continued peace and stability. This accomplishment could not head off either the onset of the Great Depression or the collapse of the post-Great War political settlement, but it did serve to delay continental financial disaster. This pretty much represented the extent of US willingness to engage in a leadership role in European affairs; whether such limited engagement should be seen as admirable restraint or abdication of responsibility is a question for another day…

I had worried a bit about how Herring was going to treat the naval disarmament treaties, given his lack of attention to military affairs in previous chapters. Herring doesn’t disappoint, however; he makes clear the novelty of the treaties, the role that the US played in bringing them about, and the impact they had on Great Power relations in the 1920s. The treaties secured a balance of power between the five major naval players in the international system, and in so doing saved the budgets of Japan and the United Kingdom. That the US played such a pivotal role is notable given that its economy and productive capacity exceeded the other two competitors; it’s not quite right to say that the United States gave up a clear advantage (Japan and the UK had a fraying alliance), but neither is it quite wrong. The treaties placed limits on the number of capital ships allowed to the UK, the US, Japan, France, and Italy, and compelled the scrapping or demilitarization of many warships. In most cases, these warships were less than fifteen years old. It shouldn’t be surprise readers of this site that I think the interwar naval limitation treaties have been understudied in political science.

Herring pays a fair amount of attention to the Peace Progressives, a group of mostly Midwestern, mostly Republican lawmakers. The Peace Progressives believed in both world peace and fiscal responsibility; in so doing they made the (almost heretical in the current political climate) connection that weapons cost money, and that the interest of small government is best served by tight limitations on the size of military forces. The pursuit of international routes to peace (Kellogg-Briand Pact, for example) abetted the interest in fiscal responsibility by reducing the need for large military establishments. I think it’s odd that this combination (preference for low tax, low domestic expenditure, low defense expenditure) seems to occur so rarely in the American political context; perhaps the development of the military-industrial complex served to capture pro-business (such that the term has any meaning…) legislators, or the perceived threat of communism helped purge Republican party doves?

Finally, since I’m so late in producing my contribution, and as blogging time will be short while I’m in NYC, we’ll be pushing back chapter XII until next week.

My bloody valentine

[ 0 ] February 14, 2009 |

My friend Steve, who has been married for more than a decade, points out to me that if you’re married or “in a relationship” as they say on Facebook you’ve got at least four days a year when the gods of consumer capitalism you have decreed that you must let your loved one know she’s really special: Birthday, anniversary, Christmauukah, and Valentine’s Day. After awhile throw in Mother’s Day. After a decade, that means you’re on your 40th or 50th time of performing mandatory specialness rituals.

That’s tough — real tough, even for a guy like Steve, who is all sensitive and stuff. Either you have to spend a lot of money or be extremely creative or, ideally, both. If not, you run the risk of seeming indifferent.

The alternative, of course, is to remain or become single, in which case the Valentine’s Day gods have a different message for you, to wit, You Suck.

Politics: About Conflict

[ 0 ] February 14, 2009 |

This is, of course, right. Once a bill has enough votes to pass how many people vote for it shouldn’t matter, and it will be an inevitable effect of having more ideologically coherent parties. Since this also means more responsible government, that’s fine with me. (This is also a good time to note the extremely high desirability of getting rid of the filibuster.)


[ 0 ] February 13, 2009 |

A tragedy for all the victims and their loved ones, but this seems especially horrible.

Abstinence and Rape

[ 0 ] February 13, 2009 |


This Isn’t Fair…

[ 0 ] February 13, 2009 |

I’m not sure this is what Sergey Georgyevich Gorshkov had in mind when he green-lit the Kirov class battlecruiser:

A Russian nuclear-powered cruiser has captured 10 Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean armed with grenade launchers, automatic rifles and landmines, a navy spokesman said Friday.

“The nuclear cruiser Pyotr Veliky has detained three small pirate boats,” said Igor Dygalo, adding that 10 armed men of Somali citizenship were seized in the operation Thursday.

The pirates had been spotted by the cruiser’s helicopter southeast of the Yemeni island of Socotra in the Indian Ocean, the spokesman told AFP.

“It was visually established how weapons were being dumped from the boats into the sea,” Dygalo said in a separate statement.

Via Galrahn. It appears that the Russians are planning to take the apprehended pirates back to Russia for prosecution. Cold, in every sense of the word.

[ 0 ] February 13, 2009 |

Friday Cat Blogging… Cupcake

Gregg Out

[ 0 ] February 13, 2009 |

Given that it was always a pretty terrible idea, better now than later.

Responses to "Why Tom Zarek Was Right"

[ 0 ] February 13, 2009 |

Concerned Colonial Citizen, fearing reprisals from the authoritarian Roslin-Adama politico-military clique, has gone into hiding. Here are some well considered responses to his letter. Spoileriffic, as always:

Spencer Ackerman:

It is true that the rebel Cylon do not offer supremely meaningful military assets, with the exception of the benefit to tylium efficiency. But that’s a myopic point that misunderstands the sort of war this is. The value the rebel Cylon offer lies in the fact that they understand hostile-Cylon capability, psychology and strategy. Combined with the diminunition in the hostile Cylon’s objective resources, this mixture of assets could be decisive. The hostile Cylon now has his back against the anvil of his new circumstances, and stares at the Colonial hammer perched above his head. All the initiative now rests with the Colonials — if, that is, the fleet takes the decisive step to ally with the rebels. Finally, it is he, and not us, who will have to roll the Hard Six.

Another Concerned Colonial Citizen, via Amanda Marcotte:

I agree that an alliance with the Cylons is hard to swallow, as they did try to kill us all. But the recent discovery that Earth was also wiped out in a nuclear holocaust should impress upon the fleet the value of laying down arms and really considering pacifism. That the entire planet of Earth was populated solely by Cylons should impress upon us this fact—our struggle is not unique, but everyone, regardless of machine or human status, is subject to the same result if they indulge the cycle of violence, which is total annihilation. It’s true that putting our trust in the Cylons means flirting with the end of humanity, but not putting our trust in the Cylons means embracing our end. Given the choice between a 50% chance of utter destruction and a 100% chance of utter destruction, I’ll take the former, thank you very much.

Gaius Baltar, via Jason Sigger:

We have seen clear evidence that the Cylons known as “skinjobs” are capable of rational thought and emotion. They have fought along side of Colonial pilots and were, as the author of the original letter notes, responsible for destroying the main Resurrection hub, which doomed them – as well as the entire Cylon fleet – to mortality. This act ought not be diminished. Their technology is said to be able to increase our FTL drives by a third. Again, this is not an insignificant point – our fleet lives and dies by the supply of tilium fuel that is supplied by one Colonial fuel tanker. We cannot afford to ignore the point that we may not reach a habital planet based on the current reserves, and what if the one tilium fuel tanker is destroyed? It is said that the rebel Cylons are capable of giving birth. As our numbers diminish every week, can we afford to ignore the Sharons and Sixes that may be able to help boister our community?

Jonathan Last:

What was the original Cylon plan? Was it a crusade to kill or convert the pagan humans to monotheism? Was it a plot to create a hybrid species, in the hope they would lead to lasting peace between the cultures? Or was it simply a war of revenge, or expansionist aggression? Or perhaps it was something else altogether. Until we know what the plan was, we cannot make final determinations on the moral standing of the Cylon empire.

Today In Fox News "Liberalism"

[ 1 ] February 12, 2009 |

Shorter Verbatim Wan Juilliams: “Michelle Obama, you know, she’s got this Stokely Carmichael in a designer dress thing going.”

NPR’s Ombudsman, in response, asserts that Williams is “now paid to give his opinion, and with three decades in the news business, it is often a valuable take on today’s politics.” I, for one, would love to hear some actual examples of some of this valuable analysis. But there is something instructive in the idea that if someone has held the same kind of pundit sinecures for decades they must be saying interesting things.