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Sunday Deposed Monarch Blogging: Al-Qasimi Dynasty

[ 2 ] December 10, 2007 |

The Al-Qasimi family rose to prominence as religious and temporal leaders in the 16th century in what is now northern Yemen. Of the Shi’ite faith, the Al-Qasimi led resistance to the Ottoman Empire and to tribes from the area of modern Saudi Arabia, winning independence in the 17th century, but losing it in the 19th. As Ottoman power receded in the early 20th century, Yemen reasserted itself politically under Imam Abdullah, winning autonomy in 1913 and independence in 1918. In 1926 Imam Abdullah declared the Kingdom of Yemen, and himself King Yahya Muhammad Hamid ed-Din. The Kingdom of Yemen occupied the territory later known as North Yemen.

The first years of the Kingdom were consumed with conflict against both the House of Saud and the British Empire. Yemen and Saudi Arabia competed for territory on the peninsula, and Yemen refused to recognize its southern boundary with the British Aden Protectorate, cobbled together from Ottoman holdings at the end of World War I. The conflict was eventually settled in 1934. King Yahya Muhammad died in a coup in 1948, and was succeeded by his 57 year old son, Ahmad bin Yahya. Under the rule of Ahmad bin Yahya Yemen would briefly become part of the United Arab States (with Egypt and Syria), and continued its efforts to bring about the end of the British protectorate over Aden.

Ahmad bin Yahya died peacefully in 1962. His son, King Muhammad Al-Badr, ruled for only eight days before being deposed in a coup. Muhammad Al-Badr survived the coup and fled into the wilderness, where he helped lead resistance to military rule. This resistance eventually developed into a proxy war between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, with the Egyptians supporting the government and the Saudis supporting the King. Inevitably the conflict took on a larger significance, with the Egyptians receiving Soviet support and the Royalists receiving assistance from Iran and the United Kingdom. Although initially optimistic about the prospects for victory, the Egyptians quickly became bogged down in Yemen, letting their military posture against Israel suffer and contributing to their defeat in 1967. After the Six Day War the Egyptians began a draw down and disengagement from Yemen, finally leaving in 1971. The Royalists weren’t able to capitalize completely, and Saudi Arabia withdrew its support in 1970. A compromise peace was eventually agreed to, and the King left for exile in the United Kingdom.

King Muhammad Al-Badr died in 1996, and was succeeded as claimant by his son, Ageel bin Muhammad Al-Badr. Discontent continues in Yemen, both in the north and between the north and what briefly became South Yemen following the British evacuation east of Suez. Prospects for a return to the throne are uncertain, but probably not high.

No trivia; Deposed Monarch Blogging will return on January 6, 2008.

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Cooperstown Union-Busting

[ 0 ] December 9, 2007 |

Fay Vincent has more. I didn’t know this, but apparently the new inductee brought the same level of competence and integrity to his post-baseball career:

When Kuhn was pushed out of baseball — as I was years later — he went back to his law firm. In 1988, he and another lawyer started a new firm that was expected to be a grandly successful practice. At the end of 1989, Myerson & Kuhn filed for bankruptcy. At this point, Kuhn moved to Florida — a move that his creditors’ lawyers said was made to claim the protection of that state’s homestead exemption.

Under that law, the home of a debtor may not be used to satisfy debts, and so Kuhn, with a large, valuable and recently purchased Florida residence, was literally home free. In effect, he thumbed his nose at the banks and court in New York, and he left his partners, some of whom he had vigorously recruited, holding a huge empty bag. One such former partner, a tax expert, complained bitterly to me when I was in baseball. He has since died but I wonder how he would have felt about this latest honor by an institution that claims to value character when it considers candidates.

The members of the committee that elected Bowie Kuhn and passed on Marvin Miller should feel ashamed. But they do not. They almost surely believe that Miller and the union won the war, but they refuse him the honor of his victory. This is a set of actions by little men making small-minded decisions.

As King Kaufman points out, even leaving aside the unconscionable exclusion of Miller the election of Kuhn itself is ridiculous. He wasn’t even a competent union-buster; it would be like putting Bill Frist into the Political Hall of Fame.

This silliness also reflects the recurrent pattern James identified in The Politics of Glory. The Hall of Fame creates rules that make it virtually impossible to elect anybody; this won’t hold, because the Hall need new members; and then the rules are changed in a way that makes the arbitrary selection of transparently unqualified members (in many cases cronies of the selection committee) inevitable. Stacking the selection committee primarily to exclude one obviously overqualified individual seems to be a new twist, though.

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The Children Of Ezra

[ 3 ] December 9, 2007 |

With Ezra Klein moving to the American Prospect, his weekend crew — featuring many excellent bloggers and friends of LGM — have started a blog of their own. Very much worth checking out/bookmarking.

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The "Liberal" Republican Candidate!

[ 5 ] December 8, 2007 |

Mike Huckabee favored quarantining people with AIDS…in 1992. But he doesn’t favor tax cuts even if they would involve ignoring court orders, so clearly he’s some sort of free-thinking anarchist!

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Time Horizons

[ 0 ] December 8, 2007 |

Sully makes a good point:

Notice also that this isn’t the ticking time bomb case that Charles [Krauthammer] has previously invoked to defend torture. There was no imminent threat to hundreds of thousands of people; we had no way of knowing for sure that Zubaydah had any knowledge of such a devastating threat; and we have no independent way of knowing whether the information he allegedly gave up under torture was factually accurate. And so in the initial cases of torture under this administration, we discover it was used simply because we had no good intelligence of future threats; and we decided to use torture for a fishing expedition. So much for the rare exception to the rule.

Right; this was pretty damned far from the justificatory apparatus that conservatives have invoked in defense of various forms of torture. Then again, it’s rather in the same vein as hawkish claims about “pre-emptive war”. If this administration understands pre-emption as the justification for the invasion of any country that might develop the capability to launch an attack at some point in the next two decades, then it’s hardly a leap to imagine that they consider the “ticking time bomb” scenario as justification for the torture of anyone who might threaten the US in the near or distant future.

And while I’m generally skeptical of “slippery slope” arguments (it seems to me political life is about drawing lines, then arguing about which way they should move), it’s hard to disagree with the following:

The defenders of torture are always saying that it can be used “judiciously” and in extremely limited circumstances, that it can be controlled within the executive branch; that it need not metastasize into a Agstress broader policy, and need not trickle down to others. But from all the facts we now know, this executive decision to rescind the Geneva Conventions began with cases that were already beneath the “ticking time bomb” scenario, and within months spread like wildfire across every theater of combat, including every major branch of the armed services, leading to scores of deaths in interrogation, almost casual if brutal torture of (often innocent) suspects in Afghanistan and Iraq, secret torture sites in Eastern Europe, God knows what in outsourced torture in the grim redoubts of Uzbek, Syrian, Jordanian and Egyptian police states, and, of course, the excrescence of Abu Ghraib, which Bush had the gall to say he had nothing to do with.

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Hard to Believe, but We’re Doing Pretty Well

[ 11 ] December 8, 2007 |

There’s a lot of sturm und drang about the state of abortion laws in this country — and rightly so. Several states are trying an end run around Roe by constitutionally enshrining fetal life from the moment of conception; the Supreme Court doesn’t think women are full citizens and issues decisions that sound more like 1947 than 2007; and in 87% of American counties, there is no abortion provider.

But still. Looking at the map that Good Magazine has put together (via Jezebel) of the world’s abortion laws, we’re in comparatively good shape. Most equitorial and sub-equitorial women, it seems, are screwed. One nit to pick, though: Good’s map puts the US in a category of countries (58 of them) in which abortion is permitted with no restrictions. That’s not actually true of abortion in the U.S.; it wasn’t true under the Roe framework and it’s sure as hell not true under the Casey framework that Gonzales v. Carhart virtually gutted. In the U.S., there are countless restrictions on access to abortion: waiting periods, notification laws, a federal ban on one type of abortion procedure, “informed” consent laws. The list goes on. So as much as I’m thankful for the U.S.’s relative liberalism with regard to abortion, I also think it does us no good to paint a picture far rosier than the one we deal with here on the ground.

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I Guess They Were Right….

[ 12 ] December 8, 2007 |

So Alfonso Cuaron’s Great Expectations was on HBO not long ago, and since I’d never seen it I decided I’d give it a try. It looked terrible and got awful reviews, but all of Cuaron’s other films are great, causing me to wonder whether it was misunderstood.

It, uh… wasn’t misunderstood. God, that was a terrible movie. I mean damn, it just wasn’t any good. I have to wonder whether Cuaron was actually on some kind of bender during the making of the film, necessitating the handing over of directorial duties to Ethan Hawke. Bleh. Ick.

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Duck and Cover!

[ 0 ] December 7, 2007 |

If you’re Treason-in-Defense-of-Slavery Yankee, the fact that Franklin Foer still has a job pretty much has you breathing into a paper bag several times an hour.

But when he’s not calling for Foer’s head to be mounted on end of a pikestaff, TIDOS — the Dwight Schrute of the blogosphere — has taken to dispensing survival tips to his readers. If, for instance, you’ve never thought about how to survive a hail of bullets in a shopping mall — a circumstance that Sudden Jihadists are determined that all of us face someday — Gomer’s your man. Among the priceless tips:

Once you make it outside, keep moving. Put as much physical space and as many physical objects between you and the scene as possible.

So if I understand him correctly, when the shooting starts, I should . . . um . . . run? Well I’ll be damned.

Just so we’re clear on this, the contributors to Lawyers, Guns and Money have no meaningful counsel to offer on mall rampages, carjackings, street muggings, boar attacks, cat scratch fever, hot dog fingers, or getting shot in the face by Dick Cheney. Rob has, however, done his part to warn us about the Zombie Menace and the Day of the Monkeys that looms before us like a dark, hairy cloud — but as this site has always been primarily devoted to news and information that are genuinely useful, you would only expect as much.

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Friday Cat Blogging

[ 30 ] December 7, 2007 |

Henry applies the “you hump it, you own it” principle to yet another of my daughter’s toys.

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Baseball’s Own Hugh Hewitt

[ 0 ] December 7, 2007 |

Mr. Kenny Williams:

Reacting Wednesday to the blockbuster deal that sent power-hitting third baseman Miguel Cabrera and former All-Star left-hander Dontrelle Willis from the Florida Marlins to the Detroit Tigers — wrecking the Sox’ latest offseason plans — Williams said: ‘‘All this has done is put the Tigers in a better position to contend with us.”

Yes, contend with you. I’m sure you believe that!

Apparently, Williams is also the prime candidate to be the idiot who takes Juan Pierre off the Dodgers’ hands; that seems about right. Which reminds me, it really should be noted that the much-maligned-by-anti-Beane-nitwits Paul Depodesta was about a hundred times better as a GM than Ned Coletti, although in fairness the Mets never would have had their incredible stretch run this year without Paul LoDuca’s incredible clutchiosity and leadertude. And you could never wina World Series with a character like J.D. Drew on your team. Advantage: Bill Plaschke!

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The Objectively Great Mitt Romney’s Objectively Great War On Constitutional Values

[ 0 ] December 7, 2007 |

I’m not sure — objectively! — that Yglesias or Cole fully understand the extent to which — objectively! — Mitt Romney’s speech was without question the greatest in the history of American political discourse. When even a dispassionate analyst like Hugh Hewitt can — objectively! — see the greatness of Romney’s attack on the non-religious and staunch opposition to the secular polity established by the Constitution, backed up by such brilliant analysts as Sean Hannity and Michael Medved, I can only conclude that only the most embarrassing hack could fail to see Mitt Romney as the greatest orator in the history of mankind. Objectively!

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Destroying Torture Tapes

[ 17 ] December 7, 2007 |

The CIA deliberately destroyed tapes of two of its “severe interrogations.” The First Rule of the Bush administration: it can always get worse. Marty Lederman correctly calls out Jay Rockefeller, who at the very least has been sitting on this information since 2006, for yet again shedding crocodile tears after failing to do anything when it mattered. Marcy Wheeler, among other good points, notes that this will be the first major test for Mukasey, “a clear case of obstruction of justice involving Goss and a bunch of other people.” We’ll see if there’s been any progress from the Gonzales regime soon enough…

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