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The GOP’s Collective Action Problem, And Ours

[ 81 ] August 5, 2014 |

The Republican House vote on the “deport them all” bill last week would appear to be a political puzzle. Not only was the vote obviously contrary to the long-term interests of the party, but the vote was nothing but symbolic politics. It’s one thing to make a political sacrifice for major substantive ends, but to shoot yourself in the foot for nothing?

Only, as Nate Cohn points out, it’s unlikely to hurt most of the individual Republicans running in marginal districts. Indeed, those Republicans have more to fear from winger primary voters than general election voters, so on an individual level casting symbolic votes that indicate fealty to whatever crackpot idea has just emerged from the fever swamp is perfectly rational. What’s in the collective interest of the party going forward may not be in the individual interest of particular members of Congress.

Over time, this will make it difficult for the GOP as currently constituted to win presidential elections. But their current advantage in the House and natural advantage in the Senate will attenuate the damage, and they could take the country down before they lose badly enough to veer towards collective rationality.

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Battleships!

[ 94 ] August 4, 2014 |
"Japanese battleship Nagato" by IJN - The Maru Special No. 29 "Japanese Submarine Tenders and Auxiliary Submarine Tenders". Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Japanese_battleship_Nagato.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Japanese_battleship_Nagato.jpg

“Japanese battleship Nagato” by IJN – The Maru Special No. 29 “Japanese Submarine Tenders and Auxiliary Submarine Tenders”. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons - 

As occasionally hinted over the past year, I’ve been considering a book project built around a collection of Sunday Battleship Blogging posts of yore. This project may finally be coming to fruition, but I’m struggling with the title. As Thucydides once said, “when you’re too lazy to think for yourself, crowdsource it.”

Thus, my query to all of you: What would be a good title for collection of sixty-some-odd vignettes on battleships? The winning entry (if any) receives an autographed copy of the book, assuming it all comes together.

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A Reminder: Texas Murdered An Almost Certainly Innocent Man

[ 150 ] August 4, 2014 |

You will be shocked to know that the jailhouse informant telling a farcically implausible story that, sadly, was the best evidence against Cameron Todd Willingham was lying when he said that he wasn’t promised anything by the prosecution in exchange for his manufactured testimony.

Let’s also remember that if the man who presided over the execution didn’t have an IQ at least 40 points below the median Fox and Friends host he probably would have been the Republican candidate for president in 2012.

..since I just received the book, as a commenter observes I should also mention Carlos DeLuna as a probably innocent person executed by the state of Texas.

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And the winner of this year’s “DUDE! THAT’S SUPPOSED TO BE THE SUBTEXT!” Award is…

[ 150 ] August 4, 2014 |

Alabama Representative Mo Brooks.

Because Jesus-fucking-Christ what is wrong with you?

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Vultures

[ 61 ] August 4, 2014 |

At the same time that U.S. courts are limiting the ability of foreign citizens to sue American corporations for their malfeasance abroad, they are facilitating U.S. banking companies to collect debts from poor developing world nations, as Saskia Sassen explores. Elliott Associates essentially goes after poor nations and their debt, taking a no holds barred approach to collect that debt with no concern for long term economic growth in those countries, the poverty it creates, or international relations. Essentially, Elliott Associates is capitalism at its purest and least acceptable, a system that exists only for shareholders and to hell with the rest of the world. Obviously, this should be stopped and Elliott Associates’ assets expropriated and returned to the nations it has devoured.

Given all this, it makes sense that Argentina would just default on its debt. Good move.

Okay, that’s not entirely fair. After all, it’s been 13 years since the last time it did. That’s not bad for Argentina, which has now defaulted eight times in its 200-year history. But this latest one was certainly its strangest. Argentina didn’t default because it couldn’t pay its bondholders. It defaulted because a New York judge wouldn’t let it pay its bondholders—not unless it also paid the hedge funds that were holding out for a better deal on its old defaulted debt.

That’s where Elliott Associates comes in. I hope the company never receives a peso.

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Washington Post Op-Ed Sinecures, Conversely, Are Determined By Pure Merit

[ 42 ] August 4, 2014 |

Shorter syndicated columnist William F. George: Those stupid Democrats, letting their obsession with race and gender derail the otherwise unstoppable presidential campaign of Sherrod Brown. Republicans don’t believe in “identity politics”; we choose the most qualified candidates for any position, and this candidate should presumptively be a white guy, with the occasional token thrown in to make clear that there’s no Republican “War on Women.”

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The Trip North

[ 15 ] August 4, 2014 |

Alfredo Corchado has a powerful story of the plight of Central American migrants trying to move through Mexico to get to the United States. Heartbreaking stories about people we should be welcoming into the United States.

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The Wages of the Industrial Food System

[ 11 ] August 4, 2014 |

The obscene use of fertilizer and chemicals leads to algae blooms that make the water supply of Toledo undrinkable. The problem is exacerbated by the non-native zebra mussels that eliminate animals that eat the algae to create a perfect storm of 21st century environmental disaster.

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Minimizing Civilian Casualties

[ 136 ] August 4, 2014 |

Paging William Saletan:

An examination of an Israeli barrage that put a line of at least 10 shells through a United Nations school sheltering displaced Palestinians here last week suggests that Israeli troops paid little heed to warnings to safeguard such sites and may have unleashed weapons inappropriate for urban areas despite rising alarm over civilian deaths.

Inspection of the damage, a preliminary United Nations review that collected 30 pieces of shrapnel, and interviews with two dozen witnesses indicate that the predawn strikes on Wednesday, July 30, that killed 21 people at the school, in the crowded Jabaliya refugee camp, were likely to have come from heavy artillery not designed for precision use.

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Honduras

[ 88 ] August 3, 2014 |

When Republicans want to send children back to Central America, this is the horror they want to send them back to. In the 2010s, we often look at U.S. immigration policy toward Jews in 1930s Germany, refusing to allow them in even though it was clear their lives were on the line, as an immoral and horrible period in American history defined by racism and fear of a people not like “us.” I don’t see much difference between that and not allowing children to escape rape and murder in Central America because they are brown and speak Spanish and don’t have proper papers.

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How Republican Judges Are Facilitating Corporate Exploitation Abroad

[ 27 ] August 3, 2014 |

Right-wing judges have consistently narrowed the use of American courts in recent years to crack down on corporations who engage in extremely egregious behavior abroad that violates human rights. Such is the case in the recent decision by a Reagan-appointed judge to throw out a lawsuit against Chiquita (formerly United Fruit) for paying Colombian paramilitary organizations. The company claims it was extorted by the paramilitaries, the Colombian people behind the lawsuit hold Chiquita responsible for the at least some of the deaths caused by the paramilitaries. In any case, it is quite clear that Chiquita knew it was violating U.S. anti-terrorism statutes in making these payments and didn’t care, which certainly makes one suspicious of its claims throughout not the case (not to mention its own history in violating the civil rights of millions of Latin American citizens over the decades).

The same principle of right-wing judges shielding American corporations from the consequences of their actions abroad also then applies to the violation of labor rights and environmental degradation. The American court system could and should be used to hold these corporations responsible for their global behavior, but for the judges of a political party that doesn’t want corporations held responsible for the domestic behavior, obviously that’s a non-starter, allowing the Thomas-Alito views to win.

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Today in Rich Liberal NIMBY Hypocrisy

[ 79 ] August 3, 2014 |

Shorter residents of luxury Brooklyn Heights condos: “We love the idea of affordable housing, but if it affects our view, send them to Newark.

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