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On Post-War Settlements

[ 12 ] October 9, 2010 |

Quiggin on the end of the Great War:

Despite the emergence of the ever-present nuclear menace, 1945 marked the low point of the 20th century in many ways. At least on the Western side, the peace settlement was far less draconian, and far more successful, than that of 1919. And, for several decades after the end of war, there was fairly steady progress towards a version (scaled-down in important respects, but more ambitious in some others) of those pre-1914 aspirations.

Really? Aren’t several of these propositions at least debatable? First, can we meaningfully use a term such as “on the Western side” when talking about the 1945 settlement? The division of Germany into two political units, and the distribution of significant portions of Germany to Poland and other Eastern European countries is the key element of the 1945 settlement. I don’t see how we can profitably make an analytical division between a “Western” and an “Eastern” response; the relatively light-handed approach of the occupying powers in the West was entirely dependent on the character of Soviet policy in the East.

More importantly, it seems to me that the real lesson that the Allied powers learned from 1919 was that the treatment of Germany was not nearly draconian enough. In 1945, in contrast to 1919, Germany was occupied by four armies, and its political institutions were formally restructured by the occupying powers. It was informally, then formally, divided into two parts. It lost more territory in 1945 than it had lost in 1919. While the German military was severely restricted post-Versailles, after 1945 Germany entirely lost its right to maintain military organizations, and would only partially regain that right in 1955. German political and military officials were put on trial, politically neutralized, and in many cases imprisoned or executed by the occupying powers. The military occupation of Germany by foreign powers continued until, well, now. Moreover, the actual process of winning the war wreaked far more draconian consequences on Germany than the process of Allied victory in World War I, with most German cities, industry, and infrastructure subjected to destructive air and land attack.

In short, I’d reiterate that Allied policy in 1945 was draconian, if appropriately so. I’m also not sure that the postwar settlement should be described as “successful”; while it certainly prevented the emergence of another German effort at European hegemony, this came at the cost of a Europe bitterly divided along military and social lines, an American and British military presence in many Western European states, and Russian political domination of the entirety of Eastern Europe. We can say, at best, that things sort of worked out in the end, but the peaceful collapse of the Soviet Union wasn’t the predictable outcome of a set of policies enacted by responsible leaders in 1945.

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Eroding 4th Amendment Rights For the Poor

[ 7 ] October 9, 2010 |

Here’s one type of overweening state power the Tea Party will resolutely ignore. In fairness, that’s because they’re solely focused on economic is…oh wait.

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Friday Nugget Blogging

[ 9 ] October 8, 2010 |

Mom, what animal does water come from?

Read more…

Christie the Kausian

[ 4 ] October 8, 2010 |

More brilliant governance from Chris Christie:

Before rejecting a compromise with teachers that would have won New Jersey a $400 million federal education grant, Gov. Chris Christie’s main objection was that it would appear that he had given in to the teachers’ union, a former education commissioner testified on Thursday.

[…]

Mr. Schundler recalled that in his conversation with the governor, in May, he had explained that it was the union that had given ground, and that the administration had won nearly everything it wanted. “When the governor came to understand that, his concern became more about how it would be perceived,” he said.

[…]

But New Jersey lost at least 14 points because the teachers’ union, the New Jersey Education Association, refused to endorse the application; the added points from the union’s endorsement would have put the state into fourth or fifth place.

Christie, it would seem, has the same interest in educating the children of his state that Mickey Kaus does: i.e. it “begins and ends with his dislike of the teacher’s unions.” If he has a choice between pissing off teacher’s unions and improving the state’s education system, we know know that he’d choose the former.

Bad Umpiring And Bad Whining

[ 19 ] October 8, 2010 |

This year’s playoffs have reminded us once again that the quality of major league umpiring is unacceptably bad.   Obviously, Hunter Wendelstedt is a nepotism hire who has no business umpiring in the major leagues, let alone being behind the plate in a crucial playoff game.  I’m glad that many prominent sportswriters are pointing this out, and not retreating into nonsensical mush about “the human element” or whatever.

Having said that, when people actually start blaming bad calls for the Twins losing, I get off the bus.    It was bad enough last year, when they were legitimately screwed by the hapless Phil Cuzzi.   As I said at the time, Nathan’s whining about it was particularly unseemly, because if he had done his job Cuzzi’s ineptitude wouldn’t have been an issue.    (His attempt to shift blame may provide some clue as to why he’s 90% of the pitcher Rivera is in the regular season and .000001% of the pitcher Rivera is in the postseason.)   And even after the bad call the Twins had the bases loaded with none out against the back end of the Yankee bullpen and came up with bupkis, and the Yanks made up the run that Cuzzi probably cost them before the Twinkies retired a single batter in the 11th.    But this year it’s worse, because (unlike the Braves and Rays) the Twins have been the net beneficiaries of bad umpiring in the series.   Last night, Pavano may have been on balance the beneficiary of Wendelstedt Amateur Hour (and to his credit, he didn’t blame the umpire).   But the biggest blown call of the series was, of course, the fourth out the Twins received in the bottom of the ninth in game 1, which was almost as bad as the Cuzzi call and much worse than the blown call on Posey’s “steal.”

So the Yankees got a break last night — and they immediately took advantage.   (It’s also worth noting that Berkman illustrates a difference between the Yankees and Rays.    The Yankees filled a hole with a guy who had a 140 OPS+ just one year ago for no talent and not much money; the Rays decided to start the playoffs with a guy who frankly — and tragically — should have retired three years ago hitting fifth, with predictable results.)   The Twins got a huge break in Game 1 — and popped the first pitch up to the third baseman.    That’s why the Yankees are where they are and the Twins are where they are, and the bad umpiring is neither here nor there.

Paladino

[ 3 ] October 8, 2010 |

I still think he’s a bigger trainwreck than O’Donnell, although NY Republicans didn’t blunder as egregiously as Delaware Republicans since they were basically drawing dead anyway.

Blue in the Bluegrass…

[ 0 ] October 8, 2010 |

Congrats to Mr. Media Czech on the Maddow shout out!

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Results, Not Process

[ 22 ] October 8, 2010 |

Tom Maguire, engaging in Principled Opposition to “judicial activists” who came up with the idea that marriage discrimination is inconsistent with the equal protection of the laws: “I just wish that we could have a bit more respect for the democratic process and settle this in legislatures rather than employing this Democratic process of legislating through the courts.”

Shorter Tom Maguire, today: “I don’t care about the federal government’s constitutional authority to regulate interstate commerce, I don’t like the mandate provisions of the ACA, so they must be unconstitutional!   How dare the courts not intervene to strike down the legislation passed by democratically elected majorities and supermajorities!”

Admittedly, as I’ve said before, part of me wishes that Maguire’s position (although I believe it is very wrong as a matter of constitutional law) would prevail, because holding the mandate unconstitutional would (given the other plainly constitutional and very popular provisions requiring that insurers not deny insurance based on pre-existing conditions) destroy the private insurance markets, which would just lead to the state-run insurance that has proven in many other countries to provide better results for less money. Which, again, would be clearly constitutional unless you want to argue that Medicare, Social Security, etc. are also unconstitutional. So, hey, good luck libertarian litigators! Try to get DOMA struck down while you’re at it.

50 Little Hoovers

[ 1 ] October 8, 2010 |

It’s a grim cycle, and it seems likely to get worse before it gets better.

Hack Inadvertently Tells the Truth

[ 8 ] October 8, 2010 |

Freddie “the Beatle” Barnes:

Christie was elected governor of New Jersey last year after giving voters no more than a glimpse of his plans for the state. The reason was simple. Had he laid out his sweeping agenda of spending and tax cuts, he’d have given Democrats an inviting target. They surely would have tried to scare voters away from Christie, and it might have worked.

What you have to particularly like is Barnes suggesting that it would be some kind of dirty pool for the Democrats to point out that Christie was, in fact, the kind of asshole who would kill a desperately needed transit initiative as part of a program of tax cuts for the rich funded by cuts for the poor and middle class. Making your policy positions explicit would be so undemocratic!

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Explosive Arguments

[ 18 ] October 7, 2010 |

Sparks are flying at Duck of Minerva over Landmine Action‘s claim that “explosive violence” is a humanitarian problem. In a recent essay Stephanie Carvin makes “the case against the case against blast weapons,” by which she means “explosive weapons” as described by Landmine Action’s recent report:

“The short version is that it is calling for a ban on so-called ‘blast-weapons’ as a method of warfare… I think that 1) the report is problematic; 2) that there may actually be a case for not banning such weapons – possibly even humanitarian ones. Instead, states AND humanitarians should look to regulation as a more effective alternative.

But as I understand it, Landmine Action is not calling for a complete ban on the weapons. The report only calls on states and global civil society to “strengthen further an underlying presumption that the use of explosive weapons in populated areas is unacceptable” (p. 14). I recently spoke with Director of Policy and Research Richard Moyes and he confirmed that Landmine Action is not proposing an outright ban such as a codified rule in an Additional Protocol to the Convention on Conventional Weapons. Rather, he said simply, “I’d like to see us establish a terrain in which there is a general concern rather than acceptance about the use of explosives in populated areas.”

In other words, Moyes and Carvin seem to be on the same page with respect to regulating conventional explosives. Carvin doesn’t elaborate what regulations she has in mind or why they would be more humanitarian than Moyes’, but some of the organization’s specific proposals include establishing a mechanism to accurately count civilian casualties from explosive violence so some determination can be empirically made about whether these weapons can or cannot be used in a controlled manner; and in particular to reduce their use in specific areas where civilian casualties are likely to be highest.

Carvin does have two deeper critiques about the report that bear further mention. I think both may have some validity but in my view, the first doesn’t actually undermine Moyes’ moral point, and the second merely ducks that point (no pun intended). Read more…

Vetoed!

[ 2 ] October 7, 2010 |

Good.