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Good Enough for Me…

[ 11 ] April 16, 2008 |

I don’t know; I thought Hillary’s shot-downing was pretty awesome.

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That Ain’t No Good… I Mean, That’s Really Good…

[ 12 ] April 16, 2008 |

I guess that “purge” of the Iraqi Army wasn’t as efficient as Mickey Kaus suggested…

A company of Iraqi soldiers abandoned their positions on Tuesday night in Sadr City, defying American soldiers who implored them to hold the line against Shiite militias.

The retreat left a crucial stretch of road on the front lines undefended for hours and led to a tense series of exchanges between American soldiers and about 50 Iraqi troops who were fleeing.

Capt. Logan Veath, a company commander in the 25th Infantry Division, pleaded with the Iraqi major who was leading his troops away from the Sadr City fight, urging him to return to the front.

“If you turn around and go back up the street those soldiers will follow you,” Captain Veath said. “If you tuck tail and cowardly run away they will follow up that way, too.”

Captain Veath’s pleas failed, and senior American and Iraqi commanders mounted an urgent effort to regain the lost ground. An elite Iraqi unit was rushed in and with the support of the Americans began to fight its way north.

Admittedly, turning the desertion of thousands of troops into good news was kind of difficult, but Mickey managed, and it earned him an Insty link. I guess that this latest desertion is also really good news…

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Frakking Awesome…

[ 0 ] April 16, 2008 |

I’ve always thought the French had a talent for cinema. Contacts with professional experience tell me that shooting out a car engine from a moving helicopter is bloody difficult.

Via Information Dissemination, my new favorite blog…

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The Centrist Assumption Fallacy

[ 8 ] April 15, 2008 |

Excellent point about the tendency to assume that because lots of people in their respective parties (or ex-parties as the case may be) hate McCain and Lieberman their positions must be centrist:

Joe Lieberman says Barack Obama’s “got some positions that are far to the left of me and I think mainstream America.” Andrew asks what Lieberman can mean by this. I assume Lieberman is referring to Obama’s overwhelmingly majoritarian position on Iraq. After all, it’s been the key conceit of “centrists” like McCain and Lieberman ever since 2002 that to be for war in Iraq but somewhat aloof from the Bush administration is the centrist position. After all, it’s the view adhered to be John McCain and Joe Lieberman and McCain and Lieberman are well known moderates so their views must be moderate ones and mainstream and anyone to their left is “far left.”

That’s the central conceit of McCainism and Liebermanism alike, and it’s important to both of them to just keep repeating over and over again. After all, if they stop saying it someone might notice that whether or not either or both of them hold centrist views on some issues, they’re the two most extreme hawks in the Senate at a time when 60+ percent of the population agrees with the orthodox liberal view that we need to lay down a marker for leaving Iraq.

A similar dynamic is often at work in the very successful “liberals believe in judicial activism, while conservatives believe in judicial restraint” scam. If the Supreme Court reached a different conclusion about the Constitution’s requirements than Robert Bork, it was therefore “countermajoritarian.” And this is true even if a Supreme Court decision is so overwhelmingly popular that post-Bork conservative nominees feel compelled to evade or give dishonest answers to questions about their positions opposing it.

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And Make it Snappy!

[ 6 ] April 15, 2008 |

One more way that the criminal (in)justice system is whittling away at the small pleasures in life for the incarcerated in a Florida county: now their loved ones have to write extra teeny tiny. That’s because now, based on a new directive, they will only be allowed to receive postcards. No S.W.A.K. allowed.

Here’s more:

Pictures will have to be printed on postcards, and envelopes won’t be allowed, unless they contain legal correspondence.

Capt. Tom Eberhardt, assistant commander of corrections services, said the new policy is in response to the biohazard threat that locked down Charlotte County Jail last month when a mail clerk fell ill after opening a letter containing a white powdered substance.

“That’s happening more and more in the country because of the times we’re living in,” Eberhardt said. “We’re doing this for the safety and security of the staff and the inmates.”

As acallidryas says in her post (linked above), this is a serious overreaction. There’s no indication that the white powder was a biohazard and the jail has already strengthened its mail-checking procedures. For many people, the letters from home and the pictures contained in them are the most frequent and strongest connection to home. Nevermind that many incarcerated men and women participate in correspondence courses (how’s THAT going work?).

Beyond being just plain silly, the program helps ensure that recidivism rates will remain high. How? Well, it’s commonly accepted that people who return home to a family or other community support are less likely to reoffend. The harder it becomes for people to stay in meaningful touch with those family members, the harder it will be for them to reconnect with family upon community re-entry.

The Second Chance Act (signed into law last week) is a great step. But what happens between that first chance and the second one matters a whole lot too.

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The Dream Life of Glenn Reynolds

[ 15 ] April 15, 2008 |

It involves robots and, one suspects, a mop.

A song in honor of the perfesser’s misfit love.

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Carrier Blogging

[ 28 ] April 15, 2008 |

A couple of aircraft carrier related links for your afternoon…

  • Via Danger Room, Martin Sieff has a new series at UPI on the vulnerability of carriers to submarine attack. Galrahn has a very useful critique here, pointing out in particular that the ASW component of the typical carrier battle group has shrunk in the past fifteen years. I’d add that several of Sieff’s historical assertions are plainly wrong; there were only 24 Essex class carriers, not “over 40″, and only 17 were commissioned prior to the end of the war. Also, interwar naval theorists and tacticians thought a lot about the threat that aircraft and submarines could pose to capital ships. Like Sieff, I wonder about the vulnerability of the modern supercarrier to attack, a subject which was discussed in this thread. No one has ever tried to sink a 90000 ton warship with a conventional torpedo before; I suspect that it would be rather a difficult task, even if a Chinese submarine got the drop on a US carrier.
  • An LGM correspondent forwards this, in which a Russian admiral again declares that the Russian Navy is planning to build five or six new carriers, and divide them between the Northern and the Pacific fleets. The target date? 2050, which is still probably a bit optimistic, given Russia’s history with carrier aviation.
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Subjective Intent Isn’t the Issue

[ 0 ] April 15, 2008 |

One thing to say about this thread, which has won a coveted Belle Waring Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence in Trolldom, is that given the inevitable displays of racism we’re going to see as Obama runs for president we’re going to be seeing a lot more of one of the central arguments there. That is, the “you can’t say that anything is racist, including an experienced border state politician calling an adult African-American man “boy,” without unequivocal evidence of that person’s intent” argument. The beauty of this standard — which his trolls also used to defend George Allen — is that you can never prove racism because the knowledge in question is unknowable. How can you know to an absolute certainty what’s in David Duke’s mind? You can’t.

It’s essentially irrelevant anyway. It’s fair to use people’s statements to make inferences about intent in most cases, but more importantly the intent doesn’t matter; the comment is racist whatever was in Davis’s mind. Just as George Wallace’s ringing defenses of apartheid were racist even if they were in considerable measure just political posturing. When it comes to public rhetoric, it’s public meanings not private intent that matters.

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[ 23 ] April 14, 2008 |

Fans of the corporate pranksters known as The Yes Men will recall their straight-faced proposal to students at SUNY-Plattsburgh that McDonald’s recycle human shit and feed it to consumers in the developing world.

Today, via aimai, we read of this:

Scientists using federal grants spread fertilizer made from human and industrial wastes on yards in poor, black neighborhoods to test whether it might protect children from lead poisoning in the soil. Families were assured the sludge was safe and were never told about any potential risks.

Nine low-income families in Baltimore row houses agreed to let researchers till the sewage sludge into their yards and plant new grass. In exchange, they were given food coupons as well as the free lawns as part of a study published in 2005 and funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

. . . There is no evidence there was any medical follow-up.

Comparable research was conducted by the Agriculture Department and Environmental Protection Agency in a similarly poor, black neighborhood in East St. Louis, Ill. Residents there also were not told of the potential risks.

Of course, no one seems to know what the potential risks might actually be, since — surprisingly or unsurprisingly, depending on your point of view — there are few data on the health effects of sludge exposure and consumption in children.

Perhaps the data gap could be filled it HUD would simply pay someone to mix the sludge with the kids’ oatmeal.

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What Real Informed Consent Would Look Like

[ 0 ] April 14, 2008 |

We all know that so-called “informed consent” abortion laws are totally BS, since the laws are not ensuring informed consent so much as endorsing government coercion of doctors, care providers, and pregnant women.

Which is why I was so happy to see Ema at the Well Timed Period take on what a real informed consent bill would look like — particularly on the heels of new statistics about the prevalence of post-partum depression. Bottom line: it wouldn’t look anything like the laws we see now.


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Red-Baiting, Live From 43rd Street!

[ 10 ] April 14, 2008 |

When did Bob Owens get a gig with the NYT op-ed page? Nobody tells me anything anymore.

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"I can handle things! I’m smart! Not like everybody says…"

[ 0 ] April 14, 2008 |

Poor Fredo.

In related news, see Gene Healy on John Yoo and the Neoconstitution.

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