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I hope this isn’t some sort of sign

[ 0 ] January 14, 2010 |

If you type a word into Google, it will pull up the most common searches that begin with that word. Currently, the three most common searches that begin with “Is” are (in order):

(1) Is Lady Gaga a man?

(2) Is Lady Gaga a hermaphrodite?

(3) Is the world coming to an end in 2012?


Comedy Gold

[ 0 ] January 14, 2010 |

[Photo: Nashville Post via Yglesias.]

Given that he’d be drawing dead even if he were running a competent campaign (or even showed some recognition that the race he’s considering is a closed Democratic primary in New York), I’m definitely hoping he goes through with it. Watching a DLC honcho and media darling getting beaten like Royals second-stringers against the 1927 Yankees will be richly entertaining.

Sad Week In Memphis

[ 0 ] January 14, 2010 |

Willie Mitchell
and Jay Reatard, R.I.P. Carrie Brownstein urges us to think of Mitchell not just as a great producer, but as a terrfic musician in his own right.

Addendum: [from PC]: Also Teddy Pendergrass.

I always thought that Al Green being from Grand Rapids Michigan was kind of like Lenny Bruce being from Salt Lake City (for the uninitiated Gerald Ford is one of the funkier people to ever come out of GR).

US Maritime Assistance to Haiti

[ 0 ] January 14, 2010 |

Galrahn, David Axe, and the folks at the USNI blog are closely covering US maritime assistance to Haiti. Both the USN and the USCG are on the way; the Coast Guard is responding first, largely due to proximity and preparedness. In terms of specific ships, USS Carl Vinson, USS Bataan, USS Fort McHenry, and USS Carter Hall all appear to be on the way. The hospital ship USNS Comfort is also responding.

For a case study of how US amphibious/maritime forces can respond to disaster, I recommend Bruce Elleman’s Waves of Hope, which examines the US response to the 2004 tsunami.

New LGM Contributor

[ 0 ] January 14, 2010 |


I am pleased to announce that Dr. Charli Carpenter, Professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, will join Lawyers, Guns and Money. Charli also blogs at Duck of Minerva and Current Intelligence, specializing in foreign policy, international law, and human security. Medium and long-term readers will recall that she served in a guest stint several months ago, during which she demonstrated her value as a technician of empire. We are delighted that Charli is joining LGM; please extend her a hale and hearty welcome.

The Constitutionality of the Filibuster

[ 0 ] January 13, 2010 |

Sad, but true. I’m particularly wary of trying to construct an argument that the filibuster is unconstitutional using the same kind of logic that’s used to argue that health care reform is unconstitutional. I’m also puzzled by the attempt — which will be familiar to people who read stuff analyzing the legitimacy of judicial review — to claim that there’s something unusual or constitutionally deviant about a counter-majoritarian rule within the American political system. Pretty much everything about the Senate was constructed to be counter-majoritarian. This makes it a very bad political institution, but it makes it hard to claim that individual instances of counter-majoritarian rules explicitly permitted by the text are implicitly unconstitutional.

As an addendum, I suppose it’s worth addressing Geoghegan’s assertion that “we needn’t rule out the possibility of a Supreme Court case. Surely, the court would not allow the Senate to ignore either the obvious intent of the Constitution.” On this, Matt is of course correct that the Supreme Court would probably not even hear the case, and if it did I would be willing to bet serious money that it would uphold the filibuster with a minimum of 8 votes, in terms probably similar to Nixon v. U.S..


[ 0 ] January 13, 2010 |

Awful, awful news in Haiti. [via the TD, who has links to aid agencies.)

You look marvelous

[ 0 ] January 13, 2010 |

Lane Kiffin’s head coaching resume includes stints with the Oakland Raiders, the University of Tennessee (9th winningest program in major college football history) and now USC (seventh winningest program of all time).

Lane Kiffin has never won more than seven games in a season.

Lane Kiffin is 34 years old.

I wonder what his views are on affirmative action?

Two questions for Glenn Reynolds

[ 0 ] January 12, 2010 |

(1)If Massoud Ali Mohammadi was killed by the Iranian government because he was reportedly sympathetic to opponents of it, would that terrorism?

(2) If on the other hand he was working an an atomic weapons program for the Iranian government, and was as a consequence quietly killed by the CIA, would that be terrorism?

This is an open book exam. Please be sure to support your answer with specific references to the relevant legal texts and doctrines.

Jon Stewart hearts LGM

[ 0 ] January 12, 2010 |

This is somehow reminiscent of this and this.

Who is the Protagonist in this Movie?

[ 0 ] January 12, 2010 |

I don’t really understand how a 70 minute review of a terrible movie could be incomparably awesome, but there you go.

No There There

[ 0 ] January 12, 2010 |

The brutal truth is that even a political scientist can sometimes enjoy a gossipy account of public figures, and sometimes a focus on people can reveal useful things. The Brethren, for example. Take the story of Warren Burger having his aides bring out an elaborate silver tea service for a picnic, to the great amusement of Rehnquist and his clerks; funny in itself, but it also tells you something about why the much smarter and much less pompous Rehnquist would become a successful Chief Justice while Burger wasn’t. It’s not a great book, but it has actual insights in addition to being entertaining (if sometimes of dubious reliability.)

Based on the excerpts and summaries, though, the latest Mark Helperin book not only fails to be about politics for the most part but usually fails even as gossip. If you can find any alleged “revelations” about the Clintons here that are simultaneously 1)interesting, and 2)not known to anyone with an even passing knowledge of the campaign, you’re one up on me. Apparently, Hillary Clinton is a…politician! Who wanted to win! Who sometimes hired less than competent people! And who uses language that wouldn’t pass muster at David Broder Finishing School! And journalists remain obsessed with her husband’s sex life although it’s no longer even colarably relevant to an active candidate’s fitness for office! This is almost as shocking as finding out that Mark McGwire used PEDs during a time in which there weren’t any rules against them.

And perhaps I’m too jaded, but I felt the same way about these supposedly explosive revelations about the Edwardses. Most notable about the excerpt is the casual misogyny; for the most part, Edwards is seen as an admittedly megalomaniac (A politician! With an ego! That may be more shocking than an athlete using PEDs!) but near-passive cipher torn between his stalker mistress and his insane wife. And, frankly, I don’t really see Elizabeth Edwards as unsympathetic here. The authors seem confident that people who admired Elizabeth Edwards will be stunned to see the mask pulled off “Saint Elizabeth,” but since I’m not 12 years old I didn’t like Elizabeth Edwards because I assumed that she never swore at campaign workers. And with the possible exception of the not-very-credible alleged scene from Damage (“As their aides tried to avert their eyes, she tore off her blouse, exposing herself. “Look at me!” she wailed at John and then staggered, nearly falling to the ground,”) I’m also puzzled by the authors’ repeated assertions and insinuations that Elizabeth’s reactions to John’s infidelity were somehow unusual or inappropriate. The Villager mindset is very strange; we’re meant to assume that a political candidate’s infidelity is so serious that it should presumptively disqualify (a Democrat) from office, but if the candidate’s wife reacts to being betrayed with anything more emotional than an angrily arched eyebrow, she can be written off as totally crazy. (Although, of course, women are in a Catch-22 here; as Hillary Clinton can attest, not being emotional enough about your husband’s infidelity is also supposed to be very troubling.)

For reasons I may or may not get into in another post, there’s little reason to trust the authors, but even if you do there doesn’t seem to be much of interest here.

UPDATE: Even worse, they’ve forced me to agree with — nay, actively applaud — Lee Siegel. [Via Dana Goldtsein.]