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Yep, Can’t Wait for That!

[ 39 ] November 5, 2007 |

Ed Driscoll, whose erection seems to have endured for more than four hours:

As Jonah Goldberg has written recently, the Amazon page for his upcoming book has become one of the frontlines in the cold civil war: when it’s not being hacked, it’s subject to the worst sort of derogatory comments and innuendo. I’m about a third of the way through the galleys of Jonah’s book, which makes all of the shadowboxing of the Amazonians all the more astonishing: having not seen the actual contents of the book themselves, it’s fascinating how they’re driving themselves insane over merely a title, a subhead, and a book cover. It will be interesting to see how the dialogue changes once the book starts getting into the hands of readers, and its ideas start being discussed in the Blogosphere and beyond.

Just so as we’re all up to speed on this, here’s a refresher on Doughbob’s “argument,” which of course “has never been made in such detail or with such care”:

Contrary to what most people think, the Nazis were ardent socialists (hence the term “National socialism”). They believed in free health care and guaranteed jobs. They confiscated inherited wealth and spent vast sums on public education. They purged the church from public policy, promoted a new form of pagan spirituality, and inserted the authority of the state into every nook and cranny of daily life. The Nazis declared war on smoking, supported abortion, euthanasia, and gun control. They loathed the free market, provided generous pensions for the elderly, and maintained a strict racial quota system in their universities—where campus speech codes were all the rage. The Nazis led the world in organic farming and alternative medicine. Hitler was a strict vegetarian, and Himmler was an animal rights activist.

I’d like to join Ed Driscoll in gleefully anticipating the day that pinata rolls off the presses and into the strike zone of — among other groups — historians of Nazi Germany and fascist Italy. I know this has probably been pointed out, like, a bazillion times already, but it bears repeating.

Better Zebras Please

[ 72 ] November 4, 2007 |

Surprising as it is to say that I’m happy that the Patriots scored the touchdown to make it 20-17, if the Colts are going to thwart their unbeaten season it would be nice if they did it fair and square, not with the help of beyond-farcical pass interference penalties. Has anyone checked to see if the officiating crew for today’s game has recently been in touch with Tim Donaghy’s bookie? That’s the charitable interpretation; if nobody’s taking money I wouldn’t hire the ref(s) who made the PI calls on Hobbs and Moss to work an intramural flag football game. Not that it would really determine the outcome per se, but in a game of this importance, are minimally competent refs too much to ask?

… I remian ambivalent about this outcome, but one has to concede that making Gregg Easterbrook cry is a major plus.

Project Valour IT

[ 16 ] November 4, 2007 |

Given that I’ve called for the end of the Air Force, I think it’s only fair that LGM join the Air Force Valour IT Project team. The goal of Project Valour IT is to raise money for the purchase of voice-activated laptops for disabled veterans. It seems to me that this is unassailably a good cause; donate if you have a chance.

Sunday Deposed Monarch Blogging: Nguyen Dynasty

[ 0 ] November 4, 2007 |

In 1777 a peasant rebellion resulted in the massacre of the family of Nguyen Phuc Anh, son of feudal nobility in what is now southern Vietnam. The fifteen year old escaped, and returned to his home after the peasant army left to move north. Nguyen Phuc Anh gathered his troops and found important supporters, including a major admiral, and managed eventually to defeat the Tay Son forces in a war that lasted almost twenty years. Nguyen Phuc Anh asked for and received support from France, which helped him unify Vietnam in 1802. He took the name Gia Long and declared himself Emperor of Vietnam at Hue. Gia Long’s twenty-year reign saw much modernization, often with the assistance of the French, but also involved retrenchment and consolidation by conservative elements in Vietnamese society.

French influence steadily grew through the 19th century, and by 1874 France achieved full territorial control of Indochina (Vietnam plus Laos and Cambodia). This control was not without some difficulty; Vietnam has a strong tradition of resistance to foreign invaders, and in many quarters the French were understood to be the successors of the Chinese. Nevertheless, the Vietnamese elite became increasingly attached to French culture and the French colonial system. The Nguyen family suffered various regicides, depositions, and early exiles, and in general lost considerable popular support. By the 20th century, the monarch was seen as little more than a French puppet.

Bao Dai became King of Annam upon the death of his father in 1926. His stay in Vietnam was brief, as he almost immediately returned to France to resume his education. Bao Dai made a habit of periodically visiting his kingdom, and was in Vietnam when the Japanese assumed control of French Indochina in 1941. By 1945, however, the utility of the Vichy authorities had come to its end, and the Japanese coerced the Bao Dai into declaring independence for Vietnam, with himself as Emperor. His empire only lasted a few months, however, as the Communist forces of Ho Chi Minh successfully encouraged the Emperor to abdicate in August 1945. Bao Dai remained briefly in Vietnam before leaving for China and Hong Kong. The French persuaded him to return and occupy the position of head of state in 1949, but he soon proved a threat to Ngo Dinh Diem, and left again for France in 1950. In 1955, Diem officially turned Vietnam into a republic.

Bao Dai displayed little more interest in Vietnam after his exile than he had during his brief reign. Apart from a few statements in 1972 about reconciliation and some contacts with the Vietnamese exile community in the United States, he did not participate in Vietnamese politics. He lived most of the rest of his life in France. In 1997 Bao Dai died and was succeeded by his brother Bao Long, who apart from ten years distinguished service in the French Foreign Legion had a very similar career. Bao Long died in July of this year, and was succeeded by his brother Bao Thang, who has lived most of his sixty-four years in France.

Prospects for a return to the throne are exceedingly unlikely. The dynasty does not appear to be particularly popular even among opponents of the current Vietnamese regime. One major exile group supports restoration of a constitutional monarchy, but its connections with the royal family are sketchy, and its activities were disavowed by Bao Long.

Trivia: The last reigning monarch of what dynasty sold his Kingdom to the British in return for a large pension?

The Good and the Ugly

[ 8 ] November 4, 2007 |

Feingold announces his opposition to Mukasey. Good, even if moot.

I hadn’t intended to write about the sellout by Feinstein and Schumer; it was too depressingly predictable. And, as my essay laying out the case against Mukasey acknowledged, it was as much about symbolism as anything; a good AG is not really an option (although in this case the symbolism is important.) But then Feinstein decided to defend her decision in op-ed form. And, as Elton sums it up:

I’m OK with using any amount of pain to extract information from suspects, as long as we don’t call it torture.

The whole thing is remarkable. Her implication that Mukasey didn’t dodge the key questions…I mean, you want to vote for him for pragmatic reasons, alright, but at least try not to insult our intelligence. And worse, she doesn’t seem to understand the contents of statutes she voted for. California really needs to do better.

Slouching Toward Equality

[ 4 ] November 4, 2007 |

For once, there’s good news from the War on (some classes of people and some) drugs. On Friday, the new crack sentencing guidelines went into effect. The new guidelines will supposedly reduce the average sentence for crack possession from 10 years 1 month to 8 years 10 months. It’s something. But we’re merely slouching toward equality in sentencing, since there remains a huge disparity between sentences for crack and those for powder cocaine. But this is certainly a step. The Bush Department of Justice unsurprisingly opposed the change.

The real (and next) question is whether these new guidelines will be applied retroactively — that is, whether people who are currently incarcerated will get to appeal their sentences based on these new guidelines. The Criminal Law Committee of the American Judicial Conference has announced its support for retroactivity, despite the fact that it would surely flood the courts with appeals to harsh crack sentences. Harlan Protass writing in the LA Times says that the concern about clogging the courts is overblown:

Finally, retroactive application would place no extraordinary burden on the courts. The primary fact necessary to recalculate prison time — the amount of crack involved — already would have been determined in connection with offenders’ original cases. Thus, while the courts likely would be flooded with requests for changed sentences, they wouldn’t have to hold new hearings. Most motions could be dealt with on paper. Experience with other recent changes to federal sentencing laws has shown that the system is capable of revisiting many thousands of cases when justice so requires.

What’s more, it’s exceedingly rare, as Protass notes, to be presented with an opportunity to so neatly and completely reverse a real injustice. Making the new guidelines retroactive would reduce the sentences of over 20,000 current inmates.

So the change is small for sure. But it’s something. And if made retroactive, the new guidelines would become more than just a baby step.

The Peaks Of Wingnuttery

[ 13 ] November 4, 2007 |

A worthy compilation of nominees. I would have to vote for Althouse, but really, they’re all winners! (On the other hand, the standards of podcast wingnuttery established by her claim that NARAL’s house blogger was invited to a meetup by Hillary Clinton’s campaign as part of a conspiracy to get Bill Clinton laid will prove to be invulnerable, and of course the vlogging thing speaks for itself.) Actually, I think that her post about the upsides of policemen summarily executing people for running while wearing a ski jacket would be an equally strong candidate.

With other such worthy candidates as Dean Esmay’s HIV denialism and Powerline’s repeated claims that no memo with a typo and GOP wingnut talking points could be authentic GOP talking points memo (whoops); I would have to nominate J*sh Tr*vino’s thoughtful discussion of liberals’ “bottomless opposition to parents” for serious consideration.

Notes from College Football

[ 8 ] November 4, 2007 |

As the Ducks continue to struggle…

…Jonathan Stewart rules. Consider this a Duck-Sun Devil open thread.

… Ducks no longer struggling. Dixon has 4 passing TDs.

… There is no God. There is no God. There is no God. There is no God.

… Okay; there may well be no God. But it doesn’t appear that an injury to Dennis Dixon is direct evidence of the lack of a deity. Hopefully, that is; at least it looks like he’s okay.


…Ahem. That is, hooray, go Ducks!

…Interesting things that I learned today; former Oregon QB Tony Graziani is related to Rodolfo Graziani, Marshal of Italy and commander of the early disastrous Italian offensives into Egypt in 1940 and 1941. Tony Graziani is currently the QB for the Philadelphia Soul of the Arena Football League…

Score one for NRO

[ 9 ] November 3, 2007 |

Mark Hemingway apparently doesn’t use a spell-checker, but nonetheless — credit where credit is due:

In fact, as I’ve theorized for some time now, Dowd’s aimlessness has become so pronounced that it seems as though her florid sentences could be arranged at random, with little discernable difference to her usual columns. The opening of the New York Times archives has finally given me the opportunity to test this hypothesis.

I spent an afternoon reading Dowd’s columns from the past year, and have produced the world’s first op-ed column mash-up, or MoDo Mad-Libs. Each of the following Maureen Dowd sentences is taken out of context and reassembled into a new whole. The result is somewhat incoherent, disjointed, unintentionally funny, badly lacking context, and an entirely unfair assessment — in other words, it is exactly like a Maureen Dowd column.

‘Tis true. Then again, doesn’t Victor Davis Hanson write for these people?

Ducks Rule; Sun Devils Coincidentally if not Consequently Drool

[ 25 ] November 3, 2007 |

Setting myself up for some nice humiliation, I’m going to predict a 38-20 Oregon victory. Dennis Dixon solidifies his claim on the Heisman.


[ 3 ] November 3, 2007 |

Publishing stuff like this, as well as stuff like Jamie Kirchick’s arguments with the strawmen in his head, seems relevant to questions about how much nepotism was involved in hiring the new editor. If Commentary was meant to be a serious, highbrow intellectual journal, then obviously the hire would be pretty much 100% nepotism. Given that the actual content of the journal seems to be sixth-rate defenses of failed imperialist schemes and feeble Republican hackery, however, J-Pod seems eminently well-qualified. And it also makes the question moot; when the journal isn’t intended to produce anything of value, “is the candidate related to the no-longer-sane former editor?” seems about a good a criterion for choosing an editor as anything.

Best. Posts. Ever.

[ 33 ] November 2, 2007 |

Henley and DeLong start the discussion, with dsquared’s immortal attempt to show that an MBA might actually be useful after all a justified consensus pick. Like one of Henley’s commenters, I have to add Holbo’s epic dissection of Dead Right to the mix. Rather than just adding well-known examples of brilliant analysis, I’d like to also add major examples of a key aspect of blogging: good snark. Dsquared again:

Remember that living well is the best revenge. A simple corollary of this is that maintaining an anime blog is the opposite of “living well” and thus the worst revenge, so if you are in a pissing match with someone who does spend all his time protesting to the Internet that he really does shut his eyes when the naked cartoon children are on screen, honestly, then all you really have to do is sit tight and wait for history to rack up enough points on your side.

See also the Editors on the Wingnut-Wanker continuum, Fafblog’s interview with the religious right, Michael Berube on Roger Simon (“Everything changed for me on September 11. I used to consider myself a Democrat, but thanks to 9/11, I’m outraged by Chappaquiddick”), and of course the Editors again with Poker with Dick Cheney:

Andrew Sullivan: Dick Cheney never said he had a straight. He was very careful about this. His cards can form many different hands. None of these hands alone can beat a pair of twos; but, taken together, the combination of all possible hands presents a more compelling case for taking the pot than simply screaming “Pair of twos! Pair of twos!” as unprincipled liberal critics of the Vice President so often do.

Did The Editors claim to have “a pair of Jews”? Are they anti-Semites as well as racists? Developing …

Zell Miller: As a lifelong liberal Democrat, I believe Dick Cheney, and I hate liberals and Democrats.

William Safire: Why are liberals so obsessed by Dick Cheney’s poker hand? The pot has been taken, the deal is done. If liberals are upset that we are no longer playing by the Marquis of Queensbury patty-cake poker rules, they clearly lack the stomach to play poker in the post-September 11th environment. And why do they never complain about Saddam Hussein’s poker playing, which was a thousand times worse?

Christopher Hitchens: The Left won’t be happy until the pot is divided up equally between Yassar Arafat, Osama bin Laden, and Hitler. Orwell would have seen this.

Any thoughts about either category (or for the worst of all time) welcome in comments…

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