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More Thoughts on Whistle-Blowing and National Security

[ 8 ] June 10, 2010 |

The outing of Army Specialist Bradley Manning for his alleged role in leaking classified documents to Wikileaks raises a number of questions in my mind about the relationship between whistle-blowing, human rights and national security. I don’t have a lot of answers, so this post is mostly food for comment fodder. Read more…


Social Media, Politics, and the Academy

[ 7 ] June 10, 2010 |

With apologies for the terrible audio on my end. I’m traveling so this comes to you from a noisy space through a low quality mike.

Henry Farrell and I ramble about Wikileaks, Facebook, academic blogging and whether or not humans may reap positive externalities during the coming zombie plague if the Internet is indeed rewiring our braaaiiiins, making us less appetizing…

LGM World Cup Reminder

[ 5 ] June 10, 2010 |

The World Cup kicks off with Mexico-South Africa tomorrow morning, giving you precious few hours to register and/or update your LGM World Cup Challenge entry.

League Name: Lawyers, Guns and Money
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[ 5 ] June 10, 2010 |

How many Texans does it take to decide whether a university dormitory should be named for a Reconstruction-era Klansman?

[ 20 ] June 10, 2010 |

Nineteen, it seems.

This story has evidently been making the rounds for a few weeks now, though I somehow managed not to hear about it. For background detail, the place to begin is with Thomas Russell, a law professor at Denver University who recently finished a paper (available here) detailing the history of William Stewart Simkins, the Confederate colonel from South Carolina who helped found the KKK in Florida before migrating to Texas at some point midway through Grant’s presidency. After arriving in Texas, Simkins set up a law practice and eventually took a position at the UT law school. He remained there for thirty years (1899-1929), during which time his greatest accomplishment was to deliver an annual lecture in late May — timed to coincide with Dixie or Confederate Day festivities — on the virtues and historical necessity of the KKK during Reconstruction. The first of these commemorative events took place in 1914, the year that DW Griffith filmed Birth of a Nation. Indeed, Simkins’ narrative of the Klan’s rise could easily have been mistaken for Griffith’s screenplay, or for the trilogy of Thomas Dixon novels that inspired it. In his speeches and writings, Simkins bragged openly about assaulting troublesome Negroes during his years with the Invisible Empire. He also crowed about his role in an 1868 railroad heist that liberated a shipment of muskets intended for the Florida militia. And as David Kopel points out, Simkins directed the Klan in three of the most violent counties in the state during the late 1860s; his actual crimes almost certainly included murder.

By the time the US Supreme Court overturned school segregation in 1954, the white supremacists who ran the University of Texas had already been humiliated by the Sweatt ruling (1950), which desegregated the very law school that had once employed Colonel Simkins. As Russell’s paper explains, the university responded to these rulings by creating an admissions architecture intended to limit the number of black students admitted to undergraduate and professional programs. It also decided — five weeks after Brown — to name its new graduate dormitory after a man who’d waged war against the United States, who’d organized and presided over a band of domestic terrorists, and who renewed his Southern bona fides each year by publicly boasting of his assaults upon private citizens and his crimes against the state of Florida.

I’m tempted to write “Only in Texas,” but somehow I’m sure that’s not true…

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Traffic Accidents and Human Security

[ 21 ] June 9, 2010 |

As part of my research project on what does and doesn’t count as a “human security” problem in the minds of practitioners, I’ve collected quite a few ideas about “neglected” human security issues that should get more attention. Among there are traffic accidents – something we tend to tolerate as a fact of modern life but which kill far more people daily than terrorism, war, or crime and are in fact the number of health risk for individuals age 1-34: – one death every 13 minutes on average (as many dead per month as died on 9/11) with young children twice as likely as adults to be victims.

So I’m happy to call readers’ attention to the NYTimes’ latest “Room for Debate.” There is a lot of interesting commentary, and in particular I am now aware of Tom Vanderbilt’s blog, which is worth a look.

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Kausmentum Fail….

[ 27 ] June 9, 2010 |

This is sad:

There is sad news though: birther queen Orly Taitz was viciously trounced in her effort to become California Secretary of State, losing the Republican nomination 3-1 in favor of former NFL player Damon Dunn. (I know.) And yet? Orly Taitz got 368,316 votes in that race. In the Senate race for the Democrat nomination, against Barbara Boxer, Slate blogger Mickey Kaus received just 93,599.

This tragic result could deprive us of the ridiculously entertaining spectacle of the Kaus Senate “campaign”, UNLESS some enterprising Californians come together to form California for Kaus. It’s not surprising that Mickey’s “in your face” ideas would find little fertile ground among the radical leftists and illegal immigrants who constitute 94.7% of California Democratic Party primary voters, but it would be a disaster of epic proportions if Mickey let this minor setback prevent him from continuing to bring his message to the people….

UPDATE [SL]: Last night, the Kaus Kampaign sent me an email reporting that “[t]urnout is reportedly extremely low. That means the Boxer regulars aren’t bothering to vote. If our supporters turn out, we can CATCH THEM NAPPING!” I guess Mickey’s supporters were hibernating, or perhaps in a drunken stupor…


[ 33 ] June 8, 2010 |

Double Standards

[ 30 ] June 8, 2010 |

There is, of course, no defense for Helen Thomas’s anti-Semitic remarks, and in isolation the consequences are unobjectionable. But why Pat Buchanan remains a constant presence on The Serious TeeVee News is also hard to defend or explain, just as I have yet to understand why the adultery of President, Attorney General, and Associate Justice John Edwards makes him History’s Greatest Monster while Rudy Guiliani and John McCain’s adultery didn’t stop them from become beloved media figures.

An Epochal Event

[ 6 ] June 8, 2010 |

Apologies for the light non-existent posting of late; I’m on vacation this week. Apparently, while I was away Glenn Reynolds became a complete hack! Oh wait…

Anyway, I would be remiss if I didn’t note this day in history: California has had many Democratic Senate primaries, and today is certainly one of them. But while blue-state primaries often involve choices between multiple candidates who aren’t obsessively anti-labor and pro-mass-deportation, today’s is pretty unique in that respect. Californian LGM readers should vote accordingly! I will be watching Strasburg’s first start at the Bellagio sports book and then going for a nice dinner examining the results of this major election with intensive interest.

[Picture this post is really an excuse to put up again by FMK.]

David Brooks shows us his “Big Shaggy”

[ 32 ] June 8, 2010 |

So it appears that David Brooks has penned an entire column premised on the observation that a century of social science has failed to provide satisfying explanations for why oil companies would cut corners and wreck an ecosystem; why investment bankers would develop complex financial instruments and wreck an economy; and why governors would have affairs and wreck their marriages. Social science also, apparently, fails to account for why a pitcher would be gracious when an umpire ruins his perfect game, why soldiers would risk their lives in war, or why Kobe Bryant shows “fierce determination” to score a lot of points.

None of this is true, of course — there are vast and relevant heaps of research on each of these phenomena that are evidently too complicated for David Brooks to understand. But the fact that Brooks takes all of these examples and makes them a function of some “inner beast you could call The Big Shaggy” makes me wonder if it isn’t time to retire the nickname “Bobo” after all these years.

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More on Unruly Clients

[ 3 ] June 8, 2010 |

North Korea probably didn’t need this:

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that a North Korean border guard shot dead three Chinese nationals and wounded one last week in an incident in northeast China, prompting the Chinese government to file a formal complaint.

The shootings took place last Friday at the China-North Korea border by the Chinese city of Dandong, in Liaoning Province, said Qin Gang, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, at a regularly scheduled news conference in Beijing. The four shot Chinese were residents of Dandong and were believed by the guard to be engaged in illegal trade across the border, Mr. Qin added, according to a report by the Chinese-language edition of Global Times, an official newspaper…

It was unclear how the shooting incident would affect relations between North Korea and China, which is North Korea’s closest ally in the region. China has been the host of the six-party talks, a series of negotiations among the United States, North Korea, Russia and several Asian nations aimed at curbing North Korea’s nuclear program. Last month, Kim Jong-il, the reclusive North Korean leader, made his first visit to China in four years, crossing the border by train and stopping first in the port city of Dalian, then continuing on to Beijing.

The actions of North Korean leaders have been made more opaque and unpredictable in recent months by what analysts believe is Mr. Kim’s effort to engineer a transfer of power to his third son, Kim Jong-un, 27.

Even if they were smugglers, shooting Chinese nationals as they cross the border is probably not a good way to endear oneself to Beijing. North Korea’s survival depends on Beijing’s tolerance…