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Obituary Sunday

[ 14 ] September 12, 2010 |

Jefferson Thomas, R.I.P. We should never forget the courage of the young men and women who actually had to put their lives on the line to attend school in the face of state violence or state-sanctioned violence.

Claude Chabrol
, R.I.P. His skills were indeed relatively undiminished; 2006’s The Comedy of Power is also very sharp.


On destroying the Towers before 9/11

[ 10 ] September 11, 2010 |

Because I’m a little worried about bandwidth issues (and know that everyone’s not into the minutiae of comic history), instead of posting it in full, I’m just going to slap a link to my bit about Liefeld and McFarlane’s wanton destruction of downtown Manhattan in 1991.  I’ll be finishing up my series on War Is Boring and “The Suitcase” shortly, but as I mentioned in the comments yesterday, I seem to have caught a case of the stupid and feel unequipped to handle the likes of Axe and Getzinger.  Liefeld and McFarlane, however…

“I Hate Tennessee”

[ 12 ] September 10, 2010 |

In honor of tomorrow’s Oregon-Tennessee tilt, I feel compelled to repost this:

Loomis and I are leaving for MordorKnoxville early tomorrow morning. Pray for our safe return.

Jim Crow Returns To 11CA

[ 29 ] September 10, 2010 |

Ah, the American judicial system.   An employer engages in racial discrimination sufficiently egregious that an Alabama jury find it illegal.     The 11th Circuit throws out the verdict.    Its reasoning is so specious that a unanimous Supreme Court rejects it.  Another jury finds the discrimination illegal.    In the finest Jim Crow traditions, 11CA once again decides to interpose itself between federal civil rights law and a plaintiff’s rights, throwing out the verdict again.    Sometimes it can be hard to see the progress…

On Attempts to Turn MLK Into K-Lo

[ 4 ] September 9, 2010 |

This is so good I’d be linking it even if it didn’t mention Edroso….

Friday Nugget Blogging

[ 36 ] September 9, 2010 |

Mom. High-school is really depressing. No wonder so many kids drop out. Did you know that during the Holocaust doctors used to do science experiments on children? Like cutting twins in half and sewing their body parts together?

No. I didn’t know. Or at least, I didn’t know that you were going to know that… at the tender age of fourteen.
Read more…

And I Declare the Browns +2.5 at Tampa Smooth Scooter’s Lock of the Week!

[ 6 ] September 9, 2010 |

This is normally Farley’s department, but with insufficient notice I’ve created a Pigskin Pick ‘Em group for those degenerate LGM readers who just have to not-bet.     Info is the usual:

Group:  Lawyers, Guns and Money

Password: zevon

See you there!   I also recommend this article about Donovan McNabb in the meantime.

UPDATE BY ROB: You’re stealing my bit! Also, note that the Pigskin league is of the spread variety. As usual, a prize will be awarded for first place. Speaking of which, here are the latest Baseball Challenge standings:

1 Feces FlingersB. Drunk 2689 7199 98.4
2 free leonardM. Ricci 2523 7113 97.8
3 HeadlessThompson GunnerS. Hickey 2727 7097 97.6
4 C. Quentin’s UnicornA. Katz 2674 7087 97.5
5 Dwarf MammothsT. Mohr 2683 6997 96.7
6 DeepKarmaB. Ladd 2831 6980 96.5
7 Greinke Uber Alles!J. Murray 2683 6850 94.9
8 Lamar KardashianD. Howard 2634 6799 94.2
9 Better Arms on ChairsB. Mizelle 2567 6761 93.7
10 Ambulance ChasersJ. Shurberg 2520 6749 93.6

“State Secrets” Swallow the Constitution

[ 26 ] September 9, 2010 |

I largely echo what Adam, Glenn, and Nick Baumann have to say about yesterday’s disgraceful 9th Circuit ruling upholding the Obama administration’s efforts to shield the government’s arbitrary-rendition-for-torture program from scrutiny.   It’s worth remembering what’s at stake here.   The majority opinion, before sadly eating the oysters, details some of the grotesque abuses our government is responsible for.   To choose one example:

Plaintiff Ahmed Agiza, an Egyptian national who had been seeking asylum in Sweden, was captured by Swedish authorities, allegedly transferred to American custody and flown to Egypt. In Egypt, he claims he was held for five weeks “in a squalid, windowless, and frigid cell,” where he was “severely and repeatedly beaten” and subjected to electric shock through electrodes attached to his ear lobes, nipples and genitals. Agiza was held in detention for two and a half years, after which he was given a six-hour trial before a military court, convicted and sentenced to 15 years in Egyptian prison. According to plaintiffs, “[v]irtually every aspect of Agiza’s rendition, including his torture in Egypt, has been publicly acknowledged by the Swedish government.”

I should note here that in a brief, remarkable concurring opinion Judge Carlos Bea argued that even these allegations should be considered state secrets. Under this logic, the use of torture is inherently not subject to legal review because any interrogation techniques that might be used against suspected terrorists are state secrets. The most depressing thing is that this authoritarian Catch-22 differs from the majority’s reasoning more in degree than in kind.

The bare majority of the 9th Circuit deserves all of the criticism it gets for this decision. Shielding the government from any accountability for arbitrary detention and torture before even giving the alleged victims a day in court is a grotesque abdication of basic judicial responsibilities, and indeed despite the pose of deference represents “judicial activism” in the most pejorative sense. As Judge Hawkins — not exactly a staunch libertarian — wrote in his dissent, “The state secrets doctrine is a judicial construct without foundation in the Constitution, yet its application often trumps what we ordinarily consider to be due process of law. This case now presents a classic illustration.” This case represents the judiciary failing at its most fundamental responsibility — ensuring that state violence be applied lawfully.

But we shouldn’t forget who bears the most responsibility — George W. Bush, whose administration performed the renditions, and Barack Obama, whose administration has worked hard to ensure that Bush’s victims are denied their basic due process. There’s no way around the fact that Obama has been a bitter disappointment on this issue, and on this issue he can’t blame James Madison for tying his hands.

Idiots Against Immunization

[ 21 ] September 9, 2010 |

The efforts of people such as Dr. Jenny McCarthy seem to be having their desired effect.

Mad Men: Structural Oppresion in “The Suitcase”

[ 23 ] September 8, 2010 |

“The Suitcase” may well be the best episode of Mad Men to date.  Not that admiration necessarily precludes critique, but as I may gush a little bit about Jennifer Getzinger‘s direction or Jon Hamm and Elisabeth Moss’s acting, I wanted to make it clear that 1) what follows is not an appreciation and 2) I may bear down a little harder on the episode’s only flawed moment so everyone knows this isn’t an appreciation.  “The Suitcase” opens with the distribution of tickets to an “Exclusive Theater Telecast” of the Ali-Liston rematch.  That these advertising folk are attending a viewing instead of the fight itself is no doubt significant, but not significant enough to dwell on in light of everything else going on in this episode, the first hint of which happens here:

Getzinger places Danny Strong’s “Danny Siegel” in what is clearly a subordinate position, which is ironic because 1) Draper is confidently predicting a Liston victory in the fight, and 2) Draper had coopted Siegel’s idea earlier and is therefore his superior in name alone.  Peggy will later remind Draper of this fact and precipitate the first of Draper’s many breakdowns, but for the moment it is enough to note that the framing of this shot militates against its manifest content and move on to Don receiving the news that the wife of the man whose name he stole is about to die:

Note how severely the camera frames this moment: a) despite being quite a distance from each other, the lamps on the desks in the foreground and background simultaneously occupy the center of the frame; b) the lights on the ceiling and the angles of the wall suggest a classic one-point perspective terminating in an unseen vanishing point; c) Draper and his secretary are not simply balanced, they are equidistant from both the each other and their side of the frame; d) as are the secretaries in the background); e) coupled with the suggestion of an unseen vanishing point, the symmetry of Draper and his secretary occupy the same position relative to the architecture of the building and the lines of perspective.  Let me show you what I mean as best I can given my limited Photoshop skills:

Now that I’ve cleared that up, compare the above with the shot that immediately follows:

The severely ordered world of the previous shot is unbalanced by the switch from a medium long to a conversational medium shot, with the overall effect being that a symmetrical abyss seems to have opened up behind Draper.  By shifting the camera slightly off-center, however, Getzinger creates the impression that this orderly abyss has opened up to swallow Draper and Draper alone.  At the bottom of it?

Read more…

Which Direction in China?

[ 0 ] September 8, 2010 |

I wonder what Yasheng Huang would think of this argument…

During its decades of rapid growth, China thrived by allowing once-suppressed private entrepreneurs to prosper, often at the expense of the old, inefficient state sector of the economy.

Now, whether in the coal-rich regions of Shanxi Province, the steel mills of the northern industrial heartland, or the airlines flying overhead, it is often China’s state-run companies that are on the march.

As the Chinese government has grown richer — and more worried about sustaining its high-octane growth — it has pumped public money into companies that it expects to upgrade the industrial base and employ more people. The beneficiaries are state-owned interests that many analysts had assumed would gradually wither away in the face of private-sector competition.

New data from the World Bank show that the proportion of industrial production by companies controlled by the Chinese state edged up last year, checking a slow but seemingly inevitable eclipse. Moreover, investment by state-controlled companies skyrocketed, driven by hundreds of billions of dollars of government spending and state bank lending to combat the global financial crisis.

Huang argued that the Chinese economy moved heavily towards the private (mostly rural) sector in the 1980s, only to retrench in favor of the state owned public sector and foreign direct investment in the 1990s and the first half of the 2000s. This retrenchment produced high levels of inequality and reduced innovation and productivity growth. Under the leadership of Hu Jintao, Huang argues that the pendulum has swung back in the other direction, in favor of private enterprise. I’m curious whether the Great Recession has halted that process, and reaffirmed the move back towards state intervention. It’s certainly a plausible interpretation of events, although there isn’t as of yet a lot of data on precisely what’s happening. If Huang is correct about the productivity imbalance between the Chinese public and private sectors (he argues that the latter is much more productive), and if the Great Recession has shifted the direction of Chinese economic policy, then the long term consequences could be severe in terms of inequality (more) and productivity (less).

Security Sector Reform in Our Communities

[ 3 ] September 8, 2010 |

Women’s Justice Center in California asks how law enforcement could be made more responsive to the needs to children and women, particularly in domestic violence situations. They suggest Civilian Oversight Boards could be the answer, but only if citizens exercise oversight of the Oversight Boards to assure they have the specific qualities to make civilian review work for women.