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Brief Baseball Notes

[ 0 ] June 25, 2007 |

There was something appropriate about Griffey’s first home run yesterday bouncing off Willie Bloomquist’s glove. Both Griffey and the the Seattle fans demonstrated a lot of class this weekend.

Hearty congratulations to the Oregon State Beavers for repeating as College World Series champions. The Ducks lost their baseball team awhile ago for Title IX reasons, so I have no qualms about supporting the Beavs. Repeating in baseball is enormously difficult, and the coaching staff deserves the credit it’s getting. *CLARIFICATION* I’m not “blaming” Title IX for the elimination of Ducks baseball. Of course baseball could have been retained at the expense of football (although, frankly, I’d rather have a good football team than crappy baseball and football teams), and even to the extent that Oregon baseball was a Title IX casualty, the sacrifice was well worth making.

Rest in peace, Rod.

This year’s Baseball Challenge has been an unspeakable disaster for the Lexington Bearded Ducks, but we’re about to turn things around.

Parental Involvement Laws: Turning The Tide?

[ 0 ] June 25, 2007 |

I have a guest post up at Feministe about Helena Silverstein’s new book, which amasses and expands on the data she’s collected about how parental involvement laws — and especially the bypass provisions — actually work on the ground. The answer is that they don’t work well even if you support their goals.

So it’s a good thing that a parental consent bill (and consent laws are especially indefensible; it’s one thing for a minor’s constitutional right to be balanced against the state’s interest in protecting children, and quite another for their right to be abolished entirely although the consequences of being forced to carry a pregnancy to term are considerably more dire for a teenager) has failed in Arizona. (Via Ann.) And even better is that, in the wake of Ayotte New Hampshire’s new legislature has repealed its parental notification law, a particularly striking development given that the law became a test case because it didn’t even contain a health exemption. This is good; while these policies are popular, they’re also bad public policy. Hopefully this will become more widely known.

Darkness, Imprisoning Me

[ 0 ] June 24, 2007 |

This is pretty much the most horrible thing I’ve ever read.

…seriously, take some time and consider whether you want to read it. The article is about the most horribly wounded Iraq War veteran.

"I Can Handle Things! I’m Smart! Not Like Everybody Says…”

[ 0 ] June 24, 2007 |

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Alberto R. Gonzales (L) is Attorney General of the United States.

Seriously, when George W. Bush sees you as a genial weak link..and that sure was nice work
from Smilin’ Joe Lieberman.

They Pull Me Back In…

[ 0 ] June 24, 2007 |

Now that the latest Nader thread has neared the length of an Unfogged one, I guess it’s time for a new one! I think zuzu makes the point that is really the most important:

There’s a lot of talk about Nader on this blog, but I rarely ever see any of Nader’s defenders say exactly what they thought he was going to accomplish in 2000, or 2004, and god help us, 2008. Because I don’t think Ralph hisself knows once the cameras turn his way.

This is really the heart of the issue. Defenses of Nader at this late date always end up turning into attacks on the Democrats. And while I rarely agree with them tout court — they tend to ignore obvious facts like the structure of American institutions, the preferences of the median voter, etc. — they certainly have some merit. But the larger problem is that it’s all a non-sequitur because voting for Nader doesn’t accomplish anything positive. (Or, at least, doesn’t accomplish anything that just voting for Bush straight up wouldn’t accomplish, but in the wake of the hundreds of thousands dead in Iraq, a deficit that will make progressive change much more difficult, the Alto-fied Court, etc. one rarely hears heighten-the-contradictions arguments that eight years of Bush will be worth it because the 2008 Democratic candidate may be slightly to the left of the previous ones. Especially since the frontrunner is less progressive than Gore or Kerry.) The Goldwaterite transformation of the Republican Party wasn’t accomplished by vanity third-party runs, and getting matching funds for the Greens would have done nothing but make it easier for the Republicans to hold office.

As Michael Tomasky pointed out, one only wishes that conservatives were as illogical and indifferent about the strategic ends of their actions as the minority of Greens still defending the man who used them for his own bizarre ends:

During the 2000 campaign, I used to go to bed wishing that the Christian Coalition were as strategically feebleminded, and as psychologically bent on disruption at any price, as the Greens. That way the CCers would have backed Gary Bauer, the laughably unelectable hard-right family values candidate. Then, once Bauer had been winnowed out of the nominating process, they would have claimed that his defeat showed just how corrupt the Republican Party had become from its incurable need to placate the secular humanists and “banking interests.” Then they would have run some nut of their own who’d have made Bauer look like Arthur Vandenburg. Finally, with a few million misguided souls behind them, including at least a couple thousand in Florida, they would have cost George W. Bush the election, no asterisks or question marks. What a wonderful world this would be.

But the Christians are far smarter than these left-wing lions of ideological chastity, and so we are where we are.

Christian conservatives could have formed a third party over, say, Reagan hanging Bork out to dry or Bush I tax increase. Alas, they didn’t, because they actually understand American politics. They understood that for all they were used the GOP was better for the than the Dems, those were the only two options, and they got the Roberts Court as a result. Anyway, to sum up, the costs and benefits of Nader’s 2000 candidacy:

  • Costs: Nader’s goal of electing a very reactionary and exceptionally incompetent president was, alas, realized, with incredible domestic and foreign policy costs.
  • Benefits: None. And, no, the fact that some people got to feel ideologically pure as they effectively voted for Bush (while assuring us that, despite having governed to the right of the Texas legislature, he was a harmless moderate not substantially different than Gore!) doesn’t count.

I’m not really seeing how the tradeoff works here.


[ 0 ] June 24, 2007 |

Tom Hilton looks into Melinda Henneberger and discovers that her random anecdotes just happened to line up with her strong pro-forced-pregnancy views! (“‘…choice,’ make no mistake, is killing the Democratic Party.” It’s scary to think about how much views that aren’t the majority position are hurting them…) What are the odds? And not only that, but she also lined up with the far right on the Schaivo case, complete with appalling, gratuitous slaps at her husband. Another question: it would obviously be too much to ask for her to write about how the disgraceful (and enormously unpopular) Schiavo circus hurt the GOP, but has she ever written an op-ed about how the death penalty is “killing the Republican Party” by costing them the Catholic vote? I know which way I’m betting.

Anyway, as Digby says there’s no genre of op-ed more annoying than this kind of Friedman/Broder special, where well-rewarded pundits tour Real America and find — amazingly enough! — that Real Americans just happen to agree entirely with their a priori views:

That is exactly why I don’t trust this stale and silly convention of DC insiders and elite pundits making anthropological forays into Real America and “reporting” back on the thinking of the electorate. They just reinforce their own preconceived notions and come back to their perch at the top of the political power structure secure in the knowledge that they are just like small town, hard working, regular folks after all.

Give me cold poll numbers any day — and if somebody wants to follow up with interviews of a sample of that sample for an article in the paper, then fine. But the notion that DC pundits have some special way of talking to strangers that translates into something meaningful about the population at large is ridiculous.

Henenberger is anti-choice. Fine. She went out and found some anti-choice people just like her and extrapolated from their conversation that abortion was killing the Democratic party, just as she personally thinks it is. But she never says that. Instead, she pretends that she has conducted some objective reporting which led to the inevitable conclusion that the Democratic party is losing because of abortion. That is shoddy journalism, opinion or not.

And the real brickbats here, of course, belong to the New York Times for not even requiring her to directly acknowledge that her cherry-picked Stories From the Heartland happen to accord with her own views on the subject.

Colbert on, um, porking

[ 0 ] June 24, 2007 |

His choice of words, not mine.

I wrote last week about the hubbub over FOX and CBS’s refusal to run a new Trojan condom ad which uses sex to advertise sex (the horror!). Colbert has one upped me with this hilarious the Word segment.

I couldn’t have said it any better.

The View From Your Massive Cardiac Event

[ 0 ] June 24, 2007 |

Much as I love spending time back in the midwest, it’s not Santa Fe. My summertime resolution to forestall a heart attack has run aground on a reef of bagged snacks, fatty meat, fried edibles, surprisingly inexpensive booze and curded dairy products. I suppose now would be as good a time as any to invest in a personal defibrilator.

Weird. Should my left arm be tingling?

Sunday Maritime Book Review: Sacred Vessels

[ 0 ] June 24, 2007 |

In the course of some actual academic research I happened upon Robert O’Connell’s Sacred Vessels: The Cult of the Battleship and the Rise of the U.S. Navy. Someone (I forget who) also recommended this book in comments a while ago. O’Connell’s a fellow battleship enthusiast, but has come to hate the thing that he would love. His argument is that the battleship in the 20th century is essentially the product of folly. Naval officers (and some civilian policymakers) fell in love with the battleship and supported its development and procurement because the battleship fit into preconceived notions of how naval combat was supposed to be conducted. Although reluctant to give up the battleship, naval officers eventually decided that aircraft carriers fit the mold, and adopted the CV as the capital ship of the post-war age. The submarine, because it lacked the romance normally associated with naval warfare, suffered, as did the destroyer. O’Connell illustrates his account with more than a couple glorious quotes, including Admiral William S. Sims:

Kentucky is not a battleship at all. She is the worst crime in naval construction ever perpetrated by the white race

and, from Representative John S. Williams (D-Mississippi) in 1906:

Whereas the British Sea Monster which we are imitating has been named Dreadnought- an archaic name- this man-o-war is hereby named Skeered O’Nuthin as an expression of our true American spirit; Provided further, that it is hereby made the duty of the first Captain who shall command her to challenge in the nation’s name, the so called Dreadnought to a duel a outrance, to take place… in sight of Long Island and that on the occasion of the combat the President and his cabinet… being fond of the strenuous life, shall be entertained on the quarter-deck as guests of the ship and the nation

The latter suggests that Southern conservatism has not always been attached to a hawkish approach to American foreign policy.

O’Connell focuses on the USN, but his argument necessarily touches on the other navies of the world. Because every navy of consequence (and some of no consequence) pursued battleship construction, it’s untenable to argue that the battleship stems from organizational peculiarities in any one navy. This is an argument that I’m sympathetic with, especially since my dissertation is titled “Transnational Determinants of Military Doctrine”, and the paper I’m writing examines the spread of the dreadnought as a form. However, I wish that O’Connell had explored two issues at a bit more depth. First, the dreadnoughts of the navies of the world differed significantly, as did the appreciation of the aircraft, submarine, and other alternative weapons. I would have liked some account of why different navies pursued the dreadnought in different ways. Second, the primary alternative explanation for why all of the navies of the world would pursue the same kind of ship is that it is rational to do so; the rationality can be conceived of in either a bounded or a traditional sense, with the former explanation focusing on the battleship in preference to other established ship types, and the other in the battleship as the natural product of warship evolution. O’Connell hints at both, but would prefer to reject the idea that naval officers were behaving irrationally in favor of what might be termed “systemic bureaucratic blindness”.

O’Connell doesn’t take seriously enough the possibility that, at least in World War I, the dreadnought may well have been the best option available for control of the sea, and that, for some powers at least, control of the sea was an entirely reasonable object of war. O’Connell emphasizes the danger that the mine and submarine posed to the dreadnought, and suggests (although he’s reluctant to make the argument outright) that a navy based on cruisers, destroyers, subs, etc. would have been better than the concentration on battleships. For some powers this is no doubt true, as both Germany and Russia would have been better served by a sea denial rather than sea control strategy, although I think that the strategic errors would more accurately be placed at the feet of civilian policymakers rather than naval officers, as O’Connell would have us believe. For the US, UK, and Japan, however, it was sensible to try to build ships that, being larger and more heavily armed than the enemies ships, could destroy the latter in battle. Competition inevitably produced larger, more capable ships, and thus the dreadnought form. O’Connell also gives a somewhat misleading account of the performance of the dreadnought in World War I. Not a single dreadnought was lost to submarine attack during the war (one was lost to a mine, and one to surface torpedo boats), and only three (Barham, Royal Oak, and Kongo) were lost to submarines in World War II. Although O’Connell suggests that the standoff between the High Seas Fleet and the Grand Fleet was not expected by naval observers, it wasn’t a surprise to the admirals at the time, who had a very strong sense of how numerical advantage would play out in a major battle, and spent the war trying to manipulate the numbers to their own advantage. At Jutland, for example, Jellicoe’s decision to turn away from the German destroyer attack was motivated by a very sensible appraisal of the strategic situation; the Royal Navy did not need to sink Germany’s dreadnoughts as long as it outnumbered the High Seas Fleet. This can hardly be regarded as a flaw in the weapon system, any more than someone could argue that the ICBM is a useless weapon because it never gets fired. O’Connell also plays a bit fast and loose with some encounters; although naval enthusiasts still debate the encounter between Goeben and Admiral Troubridge’s four armoured cruisers, it’s hardly settled opinion that the smaller, slower, lighter armed cruisers would have been able to destroy Goeben. I would argue just the opposite; Goeben likely would have crippled or destroyed Troubridge’s cruisers without difficulty, specifically because of the characteristics (high speed, heavy guns) that characterized dreadnoughts.

O’Connell gets into interesting ground when he talk about the naval treaties and the run up to World War II, although his discussion is confused. He wants to argue that the limitations of the battleship were possible because everyone realized that the battleship was useless, but this argument obviously makes no sense. If there was generally consensus among civilians that the battleship was an obsolete form, then no limitation on their construction would have been necessary. The market, as it were, would have solved the problem. O’Connell also leaves out a few important facts about the interwar construction and modernization; contrary to his assertion, some of the reconstructions produced very useful units (the Italian modernizations in particular), and the USN made the decision not to modernize its five most modern battleships in favor of newer units. Also, the dreadnought in World War II was more useful than O’Connell suggests, as the German, Italian, and British dreadnoughts regularly saw action, and the faster Japanese and American battleships contributed to the air defense of the carriers.

I wish that O’Connell had turned his focus to the Southern Cone navies, where a genuinely peculiar naval race developed between Argentina, Brazil, and Chile. I suspect that he would have found, as I suggested above, that there were sociological reasons for the adoption of the battleship form, but that they depended more on civilian perception of international prestige than on the preference of naval officers for a particular form of ship. Nevertheless, he makes an interesting argument, one that combines elements of Lynn Eden (organizational frames) with John Meyer (world society). He also tells a lot of interesting stories, particularly about the development and internal politics of the USN. It’s a flawed but useful book.

The Corporate Court

[ 0 ] June 23, 2007 |

Kia Franklin has a post on two new cases that make successful securities litigation more difficult. A few additional notes about the Tellabs case, which came down this week:

  • The case created a standard for surviving a motion to dismiss — that in inference of illegal action should “at least as likely as any plausible opposing inference” — that is unusually difficult. Despite this, Alito concurred to claim that the standard was still too lenient. The corporate donors certainly got what they paid for.
  • Having said that, the problem here is not just about Alito and Roberts. This decision, after all, was 8-1. As I mentioned last week, what we think of as “liberals” on the Court are really more Rockefeller Republicans and DLC Democrats. They seem like liberals compared to Thomas and Alito — especially on the kinds of cultural issues that dominate coverage of the Court — but business cases make it clear that there’s no Douglas or Marshall on the current Court. (If if you’re response is that Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a crazeee liberal, you don’t know what you’re talking about.)
  • And in this particular case, the primary blame (or, if you own a business engaged in potentially shady securities activities, credit) belongs to the Republican Congress. The most interesting part of the case to me is this from Stevens’s dissent: “[Congress] implicitly delegated significant lawmaking authority to the Judiciary in determining how that standard should operate in practice.” Congress does, in fact, do this all the time, but it’s rare for this to be acknowledged openly. And as Stevens points out (and unlike Ledbetter), none of the standards advanced in this case are illogical readings of the statute. Congress wanted to create a tougher standard, and it didn’t specify how much tougher, so any of the three broad standards advanced in this case could plausibly fit the statute. That the Court would fill in a moderately conservative standard isn’t terribly surprising.

Knock Me Over With a Goddamn Feather

[ 0 ] June 22, 2007 |

Huh. I guess, maybe, insurgents run away from superior firepower:

The operational commander of troops battling to drive fighters with Al Qaeda from Baquba said Friday that 80 percent of the top Qaeda leaders in the city fled before the American-led offensive began earlier this week. He compared their flight with the escape of Qaeda leaders from Falluja ahead of an American offensive that recaptured that city in 2004.

In an otherwise upbeat assessment, Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the second-ranking American commander in Iraq, told reporters that leaders of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia had been alerted to the Baquba offensive by widespread public discussion of the American plan to clear the city before the attack began. He portrayed the Qaeda leaders’ escape as cowardice, saying that “when the fight comes, they leave,” abandoning “midlevel” Qaeda leaders and fighters to face the might of American troops — just, he said, as they did in Falluja.

Wow. Who could have predicted that? And while the challenge to Al-Qaeda’s manhood is charming in a fourteenth century kind of way, I seriously doubt that the insurgent leadership is as stupid as, say, Right Blogistan or the braintrust of the Bush administration. Indeed, the idea that fleeing superior numbers, firepower, and technology is somehow “unmanly” is rather quaint; I suspect that insurgents would be happy enough if we threw down our tanks, cruise missiles, fighter jets, and armored personal carriers and settled this dispute by Marquess of Queensbury rules.

Also, it seems that somebody is irritated at the current Golden Child:

Some American officers in Baquba have placed blame for the Qaeda leaders’ flight on public remarks about the offensive in the days before it began by top American commanders, including Gen. David H. Petraeus, the overall commander in Iraq.

But don’t those officers understand that the only real front is the home front, and the only serious battle the PR fight? Compared to the MSM and the Democrats, Al Qaeda poses only a trivial threat to our precious bodily fluids…

On Street Harassment

[ 0 ] June 22, 2007 |

See Ann Friedman, Catherine Andrews, and Unrequited Narcissism. This really is an under-discussed aspect of gender subordination.

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