Friday, 10 October 2003

Mary Rosh, meet Benny Smith

Apparently, researching guns makes you adopt alternate personas that defend your work. Or maybe it’s just being an academic fraud that does…

Internal contradictions

One of Karl Marx’s most famous aphorisms is that capitalism would eventually collapse due to its own internal contradictions. While old Karl wasn’t a very good prescriptivist (ask the Russians or the Chinese), he did come up with a useful coinage. And, today, Pieter Dorsman of Peaktalk takes up that theme in discussing the future of Canada, on the day that the leaders of Alberta and British Columbia signed an agreement on interprovincial cooperation that might be the precursor of a secessionist movement in the Canadian West. One telling reason why the provinces might cooperate:

Almost one-quarter of Canada’s population lives in the two provinces. In 2002, Alberta and B.C. produced $300-billion worth of goods and services, one-third of the national total.

In other words, the per-capita contribution to national GDP of Alberta and British Columbia is 50 percent higher than that of the rest of Canada. And now, these provinces face serious damage to that economic power in the form of Ottawa’s insistence on ratifying the Kyoto accord, which will undercut their advantages in natural resource production.

One is reminded of the situation of the American South prior to the Civil War. To say it was about slavery is both true and to miss the point; the abolition of slavery would have severely damaged the economies of the Southern states, and the leaders of the southern states saw no alternative for preserving their economies but secession. They gravely miscalculated in thinking that the rest of the country would accept that, and quite clearly were wrong to have adopted slavery as the basis of their economies in the first place, but to them secession was preferable to economic collapse.

Is this analogy perfect? Not really. Canada’s central government doesn’t have the military power to prevent secession, and probably wouldn’t be permitted by its Supreme Court (or, more likely, by the United States) to use it even if it did, and the global warming issue is not as morally unambiguous as slavery. But the fundamental lesson—that preserving a region’s economic strength may be a cause for secession—is still valid.

Rush's drug problem

Brett Cashman, while expressing sympathy for Rush Limbaugh’s addiction to painkillers, has this to say:

But what I will say is this: to the extent that Rush is the target of a criminal probe into the sale and use of illegal drugs? This is an example of chickens coming home to roost. Rush has long been an inveterate drug warrior, and has trash-talked crack addicts and suggested that drug offenders are just like ordinary criminals. Well, Rush, it’s looking like you may be one of those drug offenders, now. Should we treat you like an ordinary criminal?

I’d rather not, personally. But so long as conservatives insist on being at the vanguard of the War on Some Drugs, crap like this is going to continue to happen.

That sounds about right to me. And it’s not just conservatives; after all, Bill Clinton and Al Gore, both drug users in their youth, weren’t exactly unenthusiastic drug warriors either.

(The snarky side of me would attribute Rush’s addiction to all that time he spent hanging out with former cocaine addict Michael Irvin on Sunday NFL Countdown.)

Steven Taylor dislikes Newsweek’s hit piece, Stephen Green (VodkaPundit) is also critical (for slightly different reasons), and Arthur Silber, who wants Rush to go to the Big House (not, mind you, the one in Ann Arbor), engenders an interesting discussion.

Musgrove "sounds like Pat Buchanan"

Mike Hollihan has been repeatedly exposed to Ronnie Musgrove’s ad campaign, and notes that the Musgrove campaign is trying to tap nativist sentiments to keep him in office. Musgrove barely won in 1999 against former congressman Mike Parker, who a number of my friends (more knowledgeable than I about Mississippi politics at the time) considered a closet Klansman. Haley Barbour is going to be a stiff challenge for him.

Overall, I think Musgrove’s been a bit of a mixed bag. He’s let the legislature get away with papering over a huge budget deficit in the coming fiscal year (in no small part due to a huge increase in education spending in the election year budget), and he’s run a number of state departments like a racial spoils system for certain state legislators—most notably, the state’s health bureaucracy. On the other hand, he’s held the line on taxes and mostly behaved sensibly, although his ad campaign is becoming a giant embarassment.

I think the big strike against Barbour is that he’s never held a major office in the state. Both candidates have been spending obscene amounts of effort in this campaign courting the Christian right, so that issue (which normally would dispose me to vote for Democrats) is a wash. On the other hand, the real power’s arguably in the lieutenant governor’s office, where the race is between apparent raving lunatic Amy Tuck (R this week) and Barbara Blackmon (D). And, generally, Barbour has run a less sleazy campaign than Musgrove. So unless something changes in the next month, I’ll probably be voting for Barbour.

Not Quite Tea and Crumpets has some interesting thoughts on this year’s races too. I’d forgotten about the $50 million that Musgrove and his pals in the legislature swiped from the Department of Transportation to balance this year’s budget (so if you want to know why our state’s highway projects are behind schedule, that’s one big reason).

SEC Week 7 prognostications

As always, home team in CAPS, record in brackets.
Auburn [3-2/2-0] 27, ARKANSAS [4-0/1-0] 21 [JP/GamePlan]
Tommy Tuberville's Auburn Tigers roll into Fayetteville trying to keep their recent hot streak alive. Both teams spend most of their time on the ground, so this will probably be a fairly low-scoring affair (particularly due to neither team having a very proficient passing QB). I give Auburn the edge, mainly because they've faced more adversity than the Razorbacks in recent weeks.
VANDERBILT [1-5/0-2] 31, Navy [3-2] 20.
Despite Navy's win over Air Force last week, I have to give the edge to the home team in this one, if only because the Commodores deserve a I-A win this year, and this is their best remaining chance for one.
OLE MISS [3-2/2-0] 51, Arkansas State [3-3] 13.
The Rebels face their final tune-up before starting into the heart of their SEC schedule. Expect the Indians to be held to a couple of field goals against the first team defense, with a late TD against the second team. Sophomore QB Micheal Spurlock should see significant playing time in the 3rd and 4th quarters.
Memphis [3-2] 31, MISSISSIPPI STATE [1-4/1-1] 21.
Memphis comes into town with a “revenge game” mindset motivated by Memphis defensive coordinator Joe Lee Dunn, who took the fall for State's 3-8 2002 campaign. While State comes off a win against Vandy-of-the-east Vanderbilt, Memphis is a more complete team all-around (that nonetheless inexplicably lost to UAB last week) than either the Commodores or this year's Bulldogs.
Southern Mississippi [3-2] 24, ALABAMA [2-4/1-2] 17.
The Golden Eagles have a golden opportunity to catch a Crimson Tide team riddled by both injuries and an ineffective offense (and which may be looking ahead to its road date with Ole Miss on October 18). Mike Shula's honeymoon in Tuscaloosa could be over if Alabama can't execute this week.
LOUISIANA STATE [5-0/2-0] 31, Florida [3-3/1-2] 21 [CBS].
One thing's certain: if the Gator team that played in the second half of its game with Ole Miss last week is making the trip to Baton Rouge, they're in serious trouble. The good news for Florida is that if they can execute this week, and Georgia beats UT, they're back in the SEC East race.
Georgia [4-1/2-1] 28, TENNESSEE [4-1/2-1] 21 [ESPN2].
The premiere matchup of the week, this game is likely to crown the SEC East champion (barring a comeback by Florida). Ultimately Georgia has played better in tight games than UT, and aren't afraid of hostile road games, and thus I give the edge to the Bulldogs.

What's wrong with Paul Krugman

Matthew Stinson has the definitive word on the topic in comments at Dan Drezner’s place.

Pejman dissects Krugman’s latest. Apparently Krugman has concluded that it is truly impossible for him to be both honest and polite at the same time, at least when writing for the New York Times. Wow. Simply wow. You’d think that acquiring that skill would be a prerequisite for finishing grad school.

Well, that didn't last long

The search for a replacement mascot for Colonel Reb is over, according to Friday’s Daily Mississippian. His replacement: nothing. Advantage: me.