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Cult of Toughness, Part XXVII

[ 0 ] March 10, 2010 |

Attackerman:

Rove says that getting rid of Rumsfeld — which, of course, the Bush administration ultimately did — would’ve “damaged the military’s faith in Bush as commander in chief.” Actually, you know what really did damage the military’s faith in Bush as commander in chief? Retaining Donald Rumsfeld in the face of failure after failure after failure.

There’s something really interesting to this; the uniformed military loathed Rumsfeld with wild abandon, a point which was certainly not lost on Rumsfeld (he cultivated and enjoyed their hate) or Rove. I suspect that the issue here wasn’t so much “the military will lose faith if we dump Rummy,” but rather “the military will interpret the dumping of Rummy as a sign of weakness.” This makes sense in context of the Bush/neocon vision of the world, in which the enemy (whether terrorist, Communist, or Democrat) only understands strength; I’m just mildly surprised that the Bush administration apparently viewed the uniformed military of the United States as an enemy to be intimidated.

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Contrarian Pundits Are Not An Electoral Coalition

[ 0 ] March 9, 2010 |

Via Ailes, Mikey Kaus explains the rationale for his right-wing vanity campaign:

“I believe in affirmative government and spending gobs of money,” he said. But, “I want to let people know that there are people that disagree with the party orthodoxy” on unions and amnesty-first immigration reform.

He already has a platform for his outspoken views, kausfiles.com, with a sizeable audience. So why make a seemingly quixotic Senate run?

He says he can reach people that he didn’t with his blog. And, “the time is right.”

Public disapproval of unions is at an all-time high, he notes.

“People really hate the GM bailout.” Kaus supported saving GM and Chrysler but said, “The UAW got us into this mess, so I think they should have taken a pay cut and made more concessions.”

[…]

You don’t have to be a wild-eyed libertarian to realize something is very wrong with that. But, as Kaus points out, “You can’t find a Democrat politician criticizing the teachers unions.”

That silence is hurting the liberal cause. “Unions are what make affirmative government unpalatable,” he said.

The standard objections to Kaus’s everything-is-a-nail approach to seeing labor as the root problem of everything apply; that one union has negotiated an excessively cumbersome doesn’t mean that labor negotiations are bad, there’s little reason to believe that labor protections are a major factor in poor school performance, and blaming the UAW rather than management for the problems with American auto manufacturers is implausible in the extreme. (I note, for example, that the justifiably well-regarded Malibu, CTS, and Silverado are all UAW-made, while the pieceashit Aveo is not; it’s almost enough to make me think we’re not looking at the key variable here.)

But what really kills me is the idea that unions are standing in the way of the expansive welfare state Kaus pretends to want. The truth is something like the reverse — without labor, progressive politics as an electoral force is in a hopeless position. How, exactly, does Kaus propose replacing the organizational and GOTV support that labor provides? It’s almost enough to make me think he doesn’t care about progressive policy outcomes at all…

Inept Troll Of The Day

[ 0 ] March 9, 2010 |

Stanley Fish. Generally, it’s good to wait until there’s some evidence you’re right before you do an “I told you so” column in defense of a stupid thesis, but…

I guess I have to link to this again.

Yay! The Foreigners Have Been Chased Away!

[ 0 ] March 9, 2010 |

The military procurement field has been made safe for Boeing:

European defense and aerospace consortium EADS and its U.S. partner, Northrop Grumman, have handed an apparent $35 billion dollar gift to rival Boeing — by packing up and going home.

In late February, the Air Force launched a contest to replace its fleet of Eisenhower-era KC-135 aerial refueling tankers. The Air Force envisioned spending $11.7 billion on the new planes over the next five years; over the life of the program, the service plans to buy a total of 179 aircraft, orders worth a potential $35 billion.

But Northrop and EADS complained that the guidelines weighed the contest in Boeing’s favor, and threatened to pull out of the contest unless the service revised the request for bids. And that’s exactly what happened today.

God bless America. I, for one, can rest safer knowing that Boeing will face no competition in its ongoing effort to purchase the entire US Congress.

Happy International Women’s Day. Unless You’re Born Female in China.

[ 0 ] March 8, 2010 |

The Economist has a damning article about son preference and female infanticide in East Asia, and the negative impacts on societies and regional stability as well as on girls. Heartening to see an important global gender issue make the front page of such an influential weekly (though why it took them so long escapes me – Valerie Hudson and Andrea den Boer’s influential article, appeared in International Security almost ten years ago; now the Economist is writing as if it has “discovered” high sex-ratio societies just in time for International Women’s Day.)

Well, so be it. But while the Economist has global elites’ attention fleetingly focused on gender and “gendercide,” because of how it affects the state-system, let me update the framework on offer slightly:

a) In the past decade since Hudson and den Boer first called attention to Asia’s “Bare Branches” problem, they have also been working on developing a dataset of gender empowerment indicators that among other things has allowed them to test the hypothesis that gender equality, not democracy, is actually the best predictor of pacifist relations between sovereign governments. And gender equality means a whole lot more than keeping little girls alive. Let Obama think about that as he revamps Bush’s democracy promotion agenda in the service of global stability.

b) Ultimately, let’s not confuse global stability with human rights. “Securitizing” a problem like this can be useful, as I’ve often argued, but it can backfire. Natalie Hudson’s new book argues that the advocacy language that got women’s rights on the agenda at the UN Security Council has also hobbled it at the policy implementation stage. I can see the point of making policymakers care about female infanticide because the knock-on effects are bad for whole societies. But I’d like to think that we’d want it to end even if that weren’t the case: killing anyone because of the genitals they were born with is simply wrong.

c) This brings me to a final comment. As an advocacy trope it works… sort of. But as a concept “gendercide” ala Mary Warren has been usefully picked apart and expanded to include a whole range of mass killing practices in the last two decades – including those targeting men. It would be a shame to see it become synonymous now primarily with the issue of sex-selective abortion as a security problem.

Happy International Women’s Day. Unless You’re Born Female in China.

[ 0 ] March 8, 2010 |

The Economist has a damning article about son preference and female infanticide in East Asia, and the negative impacts on societies and regional stability as well as on girls. Heartening to see an important global gender issue make the front page of such an influential weekly (though why it took them so long escapes me – Valerie Hudson and Andrea den Boer’s influential article, appeared in International Security almost ten years ago; now the Economist is writing as if it has “discovered” high sex-ratio societies just in time for International Women’s Day.)

Well, so be it. But while the Economist has global elites’ attention fleetingly focused on gender and “gendercide,” because of how it affects the state-system, let me update the framework on offer slightly:

a) In the past decade since Hudson and den Boer first called attention to Asia’s “Bare Branches” problem, they have also been working on developing a dataset of gender empowerment indicators that among other things has allowed them to test the hypothesis that gender equality, not democracy, is actually the best predictor of pacifist relations between sovereign governments. And gender equality means a whole lot more than keeping little girls alive. Let Obama think about that as he revamps Bush’s democracy promotion agenda in the service of global stability.

b) Ultimately, let’s not confuse global stability with human rights. “Securitizing” a problem like this can be useful, as I’ve often argued, but it can backfire. Natalie Hudson’s new book argues that the advocacy language that got women’s rights on the agenda at the UN Security Council has also hobbled it at the policy implementation stage. I can see the point of making policymakers care about female infanticide because the knock-on effects are bad for whole societies. But I’d like to think that we’d want it to end even if that weren’t the case: killing anyone because of the genitals they were born with is simply wrong.

c) This brings me to a final comment. As an advocacy trope it works… sort of. But as a concept “gendercide” ala Mary Warren has been usefully picked apart and expanded to include a whole range of mass killing practices in the last two decades – including those targeting men. It would be a shame to see it become synonymous now primarily with the issue of sex-selective abortion as a security problem.

RSS Issues

[ 0 ] March 8, 2010 |

We realize that there are some issues with the RSS feed this morning; this is part of the transition. Please remain calm.

Best,

Management

"Does Conrad need to stop by Politico’s offices with a picture book and some finger puppets?"

[ 0 ] March 8, 2010 |

Shorter Mike Allen: “I’m stealing my employers’ money. OK, my hypothetical employers who care about informing the public.”

Evidence on the Tory Strategy of Targeting Marginals

[ 0 ] March 8, 2010 |

Can be found here. In short, it looks to be successful. Longer, the BPIX poll that was released yesterday is being touted as having a large enough sample size to say something about the marginals that the Tories are targeting, and claims the swing in said seats is significantly higher than the national swing.

Note, this poll shows a Tory plurality of only 2% over Labour, whereas over the past several weeks YouGov has settled into a 5% to 6% range, with that one “blip” of 2% last weekend. A uniform swing would produce a C 252 / L 309 / LD 56 distribution — in all likelihood a Labour minority government. In order to gain a plurality share of the seats, the Tories would have to take 29 additional seats off of Labour (not the Lib Dems, but Labour); to obtain an outright albeit narrow governing majority, they would need 74 seats in addition to what a uniform national swing would predict.

Unfortunately, nothing on this poll appears to be available aside from the superficial information I’ve discussed above. I’m especially keen to know how, and to what degree, the marginals were oversampled. While an N of 5655 is impressive for a poll of this nature, a purely random sampling would equate into an N of 8.7 for each of the 650 constituencies. Of course, they didn’t sample in purely random fashion as some form of stratified sampling was certainly employed, but still, how large can the N be for the 75 or so odd marginals that the Tories are targeting?

I Called It.

[ 0 ] March 8, 2010 |

Hurt Locker wins best picture. Christoph Waltz wins best supporting actor.

On the persistent metafictions of Alan Moore

[ 0 ] March 8, 2010 |

I can’t wait until the new site goes live and I can tuck bulky material below the fold. In the meantime, if you’re interested in the rhetorical chicanery of early Alan Moore (particularly in Miracleman), you can find an analysis of it here.

Oscars

[ 0 ] March 7, 2010 |

A good question: should the acting categories at the Oscars be gender-neutral? Certainly, in the abstract I think Elsesser is correct that the gender segregation is indefensible: acting is acting. I take the point in response that in our actual unjust world gender-neutral awards would lead to the underrepresentation of women. My guess, though, is that acting is the one category in which women least need further recognition — and award for women who direct would have much greater egalitarian effects, I think, particularly in terms of encouraging studios to find talent. (It’s hard to imagine that a Lynne Ramsay or Tamara Jenkins would find it so hard to get capital if they had a chance at a directing Oscar.)

Tonight’s will win/should win:

Best Picture: Dances With Expensive Smurfs/No strong preference, in that I liked all the ones I saw very much and all were flawed. Basterds, I guess, although without second viewings that’s pretty tentative.

Director: Bigelow/Fine with me, although Tarantino’s work was also exceptional.

Actor: Bridges/Can’t say, haven’t seen Crazy Heart. I’d certainly be happy to see Bridges win.

Actress: Bullock/Haven’t seen The Blind Side, although I doubt that matters. I’d vote for Mulligan, although Streep was certainly terrific.

Supporting Actor: Waltz/Well, it’s the only one I’ve seen, but…Waltz.

Supporting Actress: Mo’Nique/Can’t say, haven’t seen Precious. I will say that I thought Farmiga was terrific.