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What’s the Point of Having a Nuke if No One Knows You Have It?

[ 7 ] June 26, 2010 |

This is pretty awesome. Playing as Argentina, I was caught only during the testing stage for my advanced plutonium device (presumably, I was testing near the FalklandsMalvinas). I did take a long and expensive route, however.

Via ArmsControlWonk.


USA v Ghana

[ 11 ] June 26, 2010 |

19:30 (BST), 14:30 (EDT), 11:30 (PDT).

The US MNT plays in its first knock-out match in the World Cup since the glorious 2-0 victory over Mexico in 2002 (UPDATE: forgetting, of course, the match against Germany in the QF in ’02, which I continue to happily do).  These two sides have a deep and stirring history that the media can not stop talking about . . . 1966, 1970, 1972, 1990, 1996 . . . where did it all go wrong? . . . no, wait, that’s England v Germany.  Ghana and the USA have met exactly once, the final group match of 2006, in which Ghana won 2-1 on a sketchy penalty call at the end of the first half.

Ghana don’t score goals.  Indeed, in 13 internationals in 2010, they’ve scored more than one goal once: a 5-2 victory over the mighty Burkina Faso.  Both goals they’ve scored during this tournament were penalties by Rennes forward Asamoah Gyan.  Given that the Guardian projects them to come out in a defensive-minded 4-1-4-1 for this match, and are without Michael Essien during this tournament, expect more of the same.  However, don’t underestimate Ghana; they’re a strong, physical side that will press American players and disrupt any passing set up play.  The US will have to rely on its pace to find space on counter attack.

It looks as though Bradley will make two changes from the side that beat Algeria on Wednesday: Gooch returns in central defence, and Findley partners Altidore up front.

While I’d love to discuss the bracket we’re in and its relative placid ease, I can’t.  I expect Uruguay to get past South Korea, to face the winner of USA v Ghana.  I underestimated Ghana in my predictions back in December (I saw them finishing last in their group), and won’t do so again.

Side note: Asamoah Gyan and US Captain Carlos Bocanegra are teammates at French 1st Division side Stade Rennais.

UPDATE (and this one I did miss): Ghana right back John Paintsil and Clint Dempsey are teammates at Fulham.

Friday Cat Blogging

[ 3 ] June 26, 2010 |

Courtesy of ICanHasCheezburger.

LGM World Cup Challenge Update

[ 0 ] June 25, 2010 |

After group play it’s still anyone’s game, except for those who did really badly during group play:

1 Better Legs on SofasB. Mizelle 24 24 99.6
2 AlSuA. Berry 23 23 98.8
2 timeagan101 1T. Eagan 23 23 98.8
2 Great Russian DinosaursM. Jeffery 23 23 98.8
5 Eccentripity 1E. Cerevic 22 22 97.0
5 greller49 1A. Greller 22 22 97.0
5 The HypnotoadD. Raskin 22 22 97.0
5 bobby lenarduzzid. loveland 22 22 97.0
5 QAS410 1, 22 22 97.0
5 tnpsc 1v. las vegas 22 22 97.0
5 bourbon renewalh. hjklhljkh 22 22 97.0
5 brokenax16 1D. Collins 22 22 97.0
5 Europa05 1m. allen 22 22 97.0

I’m sitting at 21 points, tied for 14th, which is much, much better than I had any reason to expect. Will be cheering hard for USA in tomorrow’s W.E.B. Du Bois Memorial Bowl.

Pompous Hack With No Sense of Shame of the Day

[ 13 ] June 25, 2010 |

Jeffrey Goldberg.   To see a guy who draws a very nice salary despite printing demonstrable falsehoods as propaganda for a war against a country that posed no significant threat to the United States and has led to hundreds of thousands of deaths and the loss of trillions of dollars criticize the standards of other journalists…I just don’t have the chops to properly express the contempt that Goldberg merits.

As for the Weigel “scandal,” it makes “OMG players today use different tacitly-sanctioned PEDs than the players I grew up with did!” look like Watergate by comparison.   I haven’t seen anybody raise any objections to Weigel’s excellent reporting, and if his reporting is good what he says about people on a private listserv is completely irrelevant (and, conversely, if his reporting was unfair it wouldn’t matter if he kept his thoughts about Drudge to himself.)   Apart from providing the umpteenth example of how Republicans are world-class whiners, there’s nothing there.   To the extent that there’s a scandal here, it’s this:

It was ironic, in a way, that it would be the Daily Caller that published e-mails from Journolist. A few weeks ago, its editor, Tucker Carlson, asked if he could join the list. After asking other members, I said no, that the rules had worked so far to protect people, and the members weren’t comfortable changing them. He tried to change my mind, and I offered, instead, to partner with Carlson to start a bipartisan list serv. That didn’t interest him.

Not so much “ironic” as “why this non-scandal culminated as it did.”  (I can’t imagine why Ezra thought Tucker couldn’t be trusted!)  The more guilty party isn’t so much Carlson as the dishonest creep on the list who did his dirty work, but if you’re looking for any actual unethical behavior there you go.    I just hope Weigel lands on his feet quickly, and if the leaker gets fired for some trivial nonsense irrelevant to his or her actual work that would be a nice bonus.

see also.

This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things…

[ 6 ] June 25, 2010 |

Friday Daddy Blogging… Elisha and Miriam

Court: First Amendment Does Not Shield People From Criticism

[ 7 ] June 25, 2010 |

Even more so than the other major opinion release by the Supreme Court on Thursday, the outcome of Doe v. Reed was no surprise to anyone who witnessed the oral argument. The question at issue was whether Washington state is within its rights to require the disclosure of signatures given to a petition to get an initiative on the ballot. The argument made by the anti-same sex marriage group that the First Amendment required that the signatures be kept private, to put it mildly, not very convincing. In essence, the argument seems to dovetail uncomfortably with Sarah Palin’s, er, innovative contention that the First Amendment should protect her from any criticism. But, as Scalia noted in his concurrence, “harsh criticism, short of unlawful action, is a price our people have traditionally been willing to pay for self-governance.” When one considers the fact that under Washington state law individuals citizens who sign initiative petitions are acting in effect as legislators, the idea that they have a constitutional right to not have their identities revealed is especially hard to justify.

So the Court upheld the Washington law on its face, 8-1. However, in another example of Chief Justice Roberts’ oft-cited legendary ability to foster consensus on the Court, eight of the nine justices on the Court issued separate opinions. Among those who agreed that the law was valid, the key division was between Scalia and (to a lesser extent) Stevens, who argued that the law did not burden speech at all, and the rest of the majority, who argued that the law did burden speech but that the burden was justified by the state’s interest in a fair process. Roberts’ opinion for the Court also held open the possibility that the group could prove that in its specific case the requirement was unduly burdensome. While I tend to be skeptical of such “minimalist” moves, in this case there may be some justification for it. While this was, in the words of Stevens’ concurrence, “not a hard case,” it’s possible to imagine circumstances in balancing the relevant interests would be harder.   Thomas’s dissent relied heavily on a couple of Jim Crow-era freedom of association cases, and in those cases mere disclosure really did have an unacceptably chilling effect on political speech and action. However, that was an unusual context — obviously, the rules of ordinary politics do not apply in authoritarian states where a disenfranchised minority is subject to state-sanctioned terror for ordinary political activity.  In most circumstances, the disclosure requirement is obviously consistent with First Amendment principles, and hopefully future applications of the case will reflect this.

[X-Posted to TAPPED.]


[ 5 ] June 24, 2010 |

Obviously, you expect some shift in conceptions of executive power based on partisan shifts in control of the White House.   But for apologists for arbitrary executive torture to suddenly discover creeping Hitlerism in fairly ordinary voluntary legal agreements really is a bit much.

Convicting Bad People Under Bad Law Is No Virtue

[ 3 ] June 24, 2010 |

It’s a good thing that the Supreme Court limited the application of the notoriously abuse-inviting “honest services” anti-fraud provision today. Skilling and Black aren’t sympathetic claimants, and the ruling will be good news for a variety of other assholes, but that’s the same trap that leads to the erosion of civil liberties for people with fewer resources to defend themselves. In a democratic society, people should only be subject to legal sanctions for engaging in conduct specifically proscribed by statute, not because a prosecutor decides that someone is an unsavory character and decides to go after him or her under a statute so broad that almost everybody can be argued to violate it.

As I say at the other place, the other interesting thing about the decision is that it’s another reason to believe that concern about Sotomayor’s record on civil liberties was unfounded. .500 isn’t a great average for selecting Supreme Court justices, but there’s increasing reason to believe that Obama has made at least one superb choice.

Now You Have A Reason To Whine And Cry!

[ 26 ] June 24, 2010 |

I think I feel the way about Italy being eliminated the way most people feel about France. The really weird thing is how attractive I find most of the cultural products of these countries otherwise. Lots of people hate France on principle, but for me the puzzle is how two countries this great produce football teams that are so reprehensible…

The Accountability Problem

[ 17 ] June 24, 2010 |

This is a really crucial point:

Pat Garofalo has more on the policy substance here, noting that about 200,000 jobs could plausibly be lost as a result of the minority’s obstructionism here. And do note that if conditions do worsen many, many, many more Americans will blame Barack Obama for the bad state of things than will blame the Senate minority. The filibuster might not be so pernicious were its impact generally understood by the public, but the intersection of a minority that’s empowered to obstruct and an electorate that holds the majority responsible for policy outcomes is toxic.

The filibuster is indefensible for a whole host of reasons, but this dynamic seems especially difficult to justify. Democratic theory can offer justifications for any number of potentially counter-majoritarian veto points, but it’s hard to imagine circumstances in which it’s a good idea to empower a minority while practically leaving accountability with the majority. The fact that even a lot of progressives retain a sentimental attachment to the filibuster is as baffling as any reality of American politics. It can’t even really be nostalgia — for what, the filibuster of the Civil Rights Act? Even the Capra movie really isn’t that good…

Beach Book Blegging

[ 41 ] June 24, 2010 |

At the invitation of an old friend, my daughter and I will be traveling to Thailand the first two weeks of July, and I’ve been commanded to bring only vacation reading. It’s been awhile since I did any of that and I could use suggestions for humorous, smart, non-war-crimes related non-fiction or other good beach reads.

In the past I’ve enjoyed humorous science writing like Mary Roach’s Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers; funny, twisted memoirs like Augusten Buroughs’ Running With Scissors or Jeannette Walls’ The Glass Castle or social-science-for-laypersons books like More Sex is Better Sex:The Unconventional Wisdom of Economics Heck, I’ll even take a good novel as a last resort. (No mysteries please. Zombie literature ok.)

And it has to be available in paperback. What should I consider? Comment away.