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No Phutility Here

[ 0 ] October 30, 2008 |

Congrats to Philadelphia’s local athletic club for winning their professional sports competition. A few notes:

  • The Rays seemed to spend the series proving my egregiously misplaced skepticism retroactively correct. They played like a talented but inexperienced team, symbolized for me by Upton lunging at the first pitch with the (extremely fast) tying run on first in the top of the 8th. They had a lot of terrible ABs against wily but (the marvelous Hamels aside) hittable pitchers. And defensively they seemed to think it was 2007 again.
  • Another addition to my voluminous “people I was wrong about” file is Charlie Manuel. And it will be interesting to see how Amaro does as GM. Gillick has done a terrific job filling out his formidable talent core with a lot of quality spare parts (and also deserves credit for not dealing the underrated Burrell.) It may seem like when a GM arrives with three MVP-calibre players in his lineup his job is easy, but as a fan whose formative sports experience was the early 80s Expos and most recent is the Mets teams the Phillies have humiliated for two straight years and have to be considered the favorites to do so again, it ain’t easy. If the Phillies keep finding Werths and Victorinos while the Mets keep finding Castillos, Chavezes, and Decomposed Corpse of Alouses, they’ll keep beating them. (Of course, this makes it all the more annoying that he conspicuously failed — speaking of teams with formidable talent cores who win much less than they should, although most of that was Woodward — to do this with the Mariners.)
  • It will, of course, to be interesting what happens to Tampa. The bad news is that the only miracle team to have accomplished much of anything else is the 1991 Braves; the good news is that it’s probably the best comparison (although ironically I think you can also make a good case for the Whiz Kid Phillies.) You have to worry about a team with so much young pitching in a division that will leave little margin for error, but they have a lot of impressive talent on both sides of the ball and a seemingly good organization. It will be interesting to watch.

Taking Joe’s Gavel

[ 22 ] October 29, 2008 |

Looks like the idea of stripping Joe Lieberman of his Homeland Security Chairmanship is being floated publicly. Obviously, given his stumping for McCain (including at the GOP convention), the Democratic leadership should show no mercy towards him; the only question is which punishment is most consistent with party interests. I still like the idea of making him commit to voting cloture on every Democratic bill as a condition of keeping his chairmanship, but if Reid thinks that it isn’t necessary just booting him is certainly fine with me.

With respect to the Select Intelligence committee, I would see Rockefeller leaving as good news, but Dianne Feinstein taking over is just marginally less bad news. Easing Byrd out of of his Appropriations chair seems like a good idea too.

Bad Day at the UK

[ 0 ] October 29, 2008 |


University of Kentucky police are investigating who hung an effigy of Democrat Sen. Barack Obama from a tree on the Lexington campus Wednesday morning.

UK President Lee Todd said that UK police have notified federal authorities of the incident. Todd said a professor saw the effigy on the tree near the Rose Street parking garage across from the Mining and Mineral Resources building this morning and called police. The professor then sent Todd an email notifying him of the incident.

UK police took down the effigy and have it as evidence, Todd said. He called the act “deplorable” and says that type of behavior is not tolerated on UK’s campus.

The effigy apparently had a mask of Obama on it and there was reportedly a noose around the effigy’s neck, Todd said.

President Todd and the administration have been very open about the incident, and seem to be handling it as well as could be hoped.

Run, Sarah, Run

[ 5 ] October 29, 2008 |

I hate to admit it, but if I’m still living in Alaska four years from now, I sincerely hope Sarah Palin runs for the presidency, because I could really use the extra writing income. My dogs’ knee surgeries aren’t going to pay for themselves!

A "weakness for extravagance?"

[ 0 ] October 29, 2008 |

So far as contrarianism goes, this is an especially lame effort to question the wisdom of Obama’s half-hour campaign spot:

While Obama hasn’t made many strategic mistakes in his campaign against Republican John McCain, he has, on occasion, shown a weakness for extravagance.

In July, Obama’s visits to Afghanistan and Iraq generated comforting images of the senator with military leaders and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. But his trip ended in Berlin with an image of 200,000 fans, mostly Europeans, chanting Obama’s name.

Yeah, it makes a good bit of sense to question the gross extravagance of Obama turning out so many Europeans to see him — all the way from Europe, even! — who didn’t want to pelt him with vegetables, as recent custom apparently requires. These people probably eat weird cheeses and drink fancy-sounding European wines while receiving inexpensive health care. What a bon vivant! He probably has eight houses! Surely, Obama’s performance would have been that much more impressive if he’d delivered his address to a crowd of dozens while standing in front of lime-green posterboard. That would have really thrown McCain off his game.

The stupid continues:

In August, his campaign navigated the minefield of the Democratic Party’s feuding families to pull off a convention that began healing the wounds between the Clinton and Obama camps. Then it came to its conclusion between two Greek columns where a triumphant Obama delivered an acceptance speech to a football stadium crowd of more than 80,000.

You can really taste the true here. Anyone who would deliver an acceptance speech in front of Greek columns must be some sort of pussified high-brow. I’ll bet his wife even ate lobster that day!

You Almost Had Me, Gatesy

[ 17 ] October 29, 2008 |

I had been mildly warming to the idea of keeping Robert Gates on for a time as Secretary of Defense under a hypothetical Obama administration; he’s done a credible job, and what with the general collapse of the global financial system, the administration will have a lot on its hands in the first months of 2009. And then Gatesy comes out and says something like this:

“To be blunt, there is absolutely no way we can maintain a credible deterrent and reduce the number of weapons in our stockpile without resorting to testing our stockpile or pursuing a modernization program,” Gates says, according to his prepared remarks.

In other words, fund this thing, motherfuckers, or we start testing. The United States concluded the last full-scale underground test of a nuke in 1992, and declared an official moratorium two years later; a return to testing would be a really big deal. In a speech last month on the limits of U.S. power, he alluded — briefly — to the importance of RRW. That part of the speech earned few headlines, but for nuke-watchers, it was a telling moment.

Gates is also teasing out a novel argument for RRW: Everyone else is doing it.

“Currently, the United States is the only declared nuclear power that is neither modernizing its nuclear arsenal nor has the capability to produce a new nuclear warhead. The United Kingdom and France have programs to maintain their deterrent capabilities. China and Russia have embarked on ambitious paths to design and field new weapons”

Um… no. We’ve been through this before. At any plausible size, the US nuclear force will be more than sufficient for the purposes of deterrence. There are very good reasons to believe that US warheads will explode when we want them to, and in any case it doesn’t really matter if 100% of our warheads detonate, 75%, or 50%. With conventional munitions duds are a real problem, since they substantially reduce effectiveness. With nuclear weapons, not so much. With apologies to Matt Duss, I’ve written a short play to illustrate this point:

Setting: Moscow, Kremlin

Vladimir Putin:
I have a fever, Dmitri, and the only cure is the reconquest of the former territory of the Soviet Union. Let’s start with Estonia.

Dmitri Medvedev: Couldn’t hurt; the price of oil is down, and Ivan the Plumber is getting restless. But what of the Americans?

Putin: Have they pursued modernization of their nuclear deterrent?

Medvedev: Why, no; I don’t believe that they have.

Putin: Well, then, no problem. If they launch thousands of nuclear missiles at us in response to our attack on NATO, odds are that some of the warheads won’t detonate.

Medvedev: That’s what I call an in-credible deterrent!

Putin: Heh. Good one. Send in the tanks!

Medvedev: Wait; I thought that was my line.

Putin: We’re not fooling anyone here, Dmitri.


As to whether “everyone else is doing it”, I’d like to see the details of the French and British plans. I’d also like to see some recognition that France and the UK have much smaller nuclear arsenals than the United States, which changes the deterrent equation. Chinese nuclear weapons remain a generation behind their US counterparts, which may explain why China is pursuing modernization. I don’t know much about the Russian program, but given that nuclear warheads don’t actually fight one another, I can’t say I’m all that concerned.

RRW, in my view, remains a waste of time and waste of money. The deterrent logic doesn’t make sense, the “need to keep the laboratories up and running” argument is absurd, and the “everybody else is doing it” case ignores geopolitical reality. Bad idea, Gatesy.

Lies, Dripping Off Your Mouth Like Dirt

[ 9 ] October 29, 2008 |

Apparently pointing out the indisputable fact that the Bush administration lied in the run-up to the Iraq war is now, according to one of the Kagans who pass for a Republican foreign policy intelligentsia, a “conspiracy theory.” Of course. if Kagan knew anything about anything that would be “elitist”, and he’s nothing if not a man of the people by that standard.

Bonus Bush Iraq-related lying here.

Security theater

[ 8 ] October 29, 2008 |

Some thoughts on the way we live now.

The most annoying part of having to take off my shoes (besides the sense that I’m taking part in a ritualistic humiliation of my entire culture, with creeping authoritarian undertones), is the reminder that I really need to buy some new ones.

And if you purchase LGM merchandise within the next 15 minutes you can make that dream a reality.

Pierre Laval Feminist of the Day

[ 0 ] October 29, 2008 |

Elaine Lafferty.

Although, in fairness, when Lafferty asserts that “Sarah Palin supports women’s rights, deeply and passionately,” one can see her point. Palin does clearly support such cherished women’s rights as their right to be subject to state coercion forcing them to bear their rapist’s child, their right to have no viable legal remedies if they get unequal money for equal work, their right to pay for your own rape kits, etc. If you define “feminism” as “bog-standard reactionary Republican anti-women policies…supported by a woman!” then you have to admit Palin qualifies. As for the value of using this standard, you’ll have to use your own judgment…

Speaking of Worthless Crap

[ 0 ] October 29, 2008 |

Before you consider blowing your next paycheck on t-shirts festooned with pictures of my cat shamelessly buggering Cookie Monster, you might take a gander at the “Sarah Palin: Promise for America” store, which provides further evidence that Palin’s advocates have pretty much decided the campaign is over. Here’s the pitch: is proud to release the Sarah Palin: Promise for America series of gifts. Regardless of what happens on election day, we can all take heart that Sarah Palin has helped to begin a movement, a restoration of our nation to the American Promise. These gifts will help us all remember her message and her mission; and we’ll tell the world that we stand with her as our leader.

Yes, by all means let’s remember Sarah Palin’s message.

LGM Meme Goes National!

[ 8 ] October 29, 2008 |

Huh. I see no alternative but to give us the credit for the forthcoming victory.

[Thx to T.S. for the tip.]

Vote for Palin and let God sort it out

[ 33 ] October 28, 2008 |

Shorter Glenn Beck:

Dear Baby Jesus:

Please let John McCain win, then die. Or something.