Monday, 31 May 2004

Libertarian futures

More thoughts on libertarianism and the efficacy of the Libertarian Party from Will Baude, who is looking for some sort of cross-party soft-libertarian caucus to take up the mantle of advancing libertarianism. He also writes:

I’d also like to see a group with the microphone and legitimacy of a national party that didn’t run fringe candidates but rather conducted in-depth research into the voting records and announced positions of candidates in every house, senate, and presidential race, and announced how closely they hewed to libertarian orthodoxy (on those things—unlike, say, war—where such an orthodoxy exists).

The Republican Liberty Caucus does this—or at least did this for a while—by compiling two “interest group” ratings for legislators—one each for economic and personal liberty.* Not sure if they still do it… anyway, I used the ratings in at least one iteration of the now-legendary impeachment paper. Unfortunately you can’t find RLC publicity standing on the street outside their headquarters, much less in the halls of power or the public discourse; however, I think that Republicans who want to push their party in a more libertarian direction won’t find a better place to put their money.

Memorial Day

I spent Memorial Day afternoon at the funeral of my uncle, Bill Sides. Bill Sides was a World War II veteran, who served with the 236th Engineers in China, Burma, and India.

This was the first funeral I’ve been to with military honor guard. The graveside ceremony was simple but moving. One soldier, out of sight, played “Taps,” while two others folded the flag that was draped over the coffin into a right triangle with only the stars showing. Each of the three soldiers saluted the folded flag before presenting it to a family member.

The complex of meanings that this ceremony invokes surely differ from viewer to viewer, and I find it difficult to sum up in words what I felt on seeing it. Suffice it to say that the ceremony managed to honor at the same time both my uncle as an individual, and all America’s military veterans who have passed on.

Increasing the price of Jäger

Only a few hours left to buy BlogMatrix Jäger at the low introductory price of $10 US, versus the still-low new price of $15 US. I’d probably buy it myself if I lived more than 1% of my life in Windows…

W(h)ither the LP?

Doug Allen wonders what the best future approach for the Libertarian Party is. In the comments on Allen’s post, Skip Oliva writes:

The LP’s flaw is that they focus exclusively on electoral politics, which is a high-cost, low-yield means of communicating your message when you’re a third-party. I’d like to see more LP activism in things like administrative law (which is where I focus my attention) and areas that aren’t the focus of popular and media attention, areas that could use some principles to shine a light on government abuse.

I think the larger question is whether a political party (e.g. the LP) is the best vehicle to advance those goals in the contemporary U.S. political system. I have previously written why I think not; rather, I think the best front is to support organizations like the Institute for Justice and the Cato Institute that work on the legal and interest articulation side of the spectrum. Groups like Cato and IJ have institutional advantages over political parties for pursuing goals outside the electoral process—most notably, the ability to attract tax-deductable donations.

Sean Hackbarth has some thoughts on Allen’s post as well.

Keep them hoggies rollin’

James Joyner finds large gatherings of bikers to be something of an inconvenience but nonetheless, in this instance, in service of a worthy cause. He’s got a link to a WaPo account of the Rolling Thunder biker rally, which I suppose will be nothing new to those of us with Harley aficionados in the family. I was previously unaware that Rolling Thunder made political endorsements, however.

Agenda setting

Dan Drezner takes a look at the results of the survey of the blog-reading habits of media professionals he conducted with Henry Farrell, and has some surprising findings.

One minor caveat to his analysis: I don’t think the Daily Kos counts as a “newly emerging blog,” as it’s been around longer than I have, although the current “community” format for it inspired by Kuro5hin (and powered by the same software, Scoop) is relatively new.


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Apologies for the brief downtime earlier today… we’re experiencing what might be called “power difficulties” here in Oxvegas, magnified by the fact that the BIOS on the machine that currently hosts Signifying Nothing has no “power on automatically when AC comes back on” setting. Hopefully things are now back to normal.

Bad(narik) Idea

Like Brock, I can’t be excited about the Libertarians’ nomination of Michael Badnarik. And his enthusiasm for non-alcoholic beer makes me wonder about some other possible faults he may have—like, perhaps, support for the designated-hitter rule or liking the taste of broccoli.

Elsewhere: MNSlog misidentified Brock as a Republican (thanks for correcting it ☺), Q and O considers this evidence that the LP is a collection of “losertarians,” and Brian J. Noggle reminds us that he and his wife met Badnarik earlier this year in a basement. Oh, and some dude named Glenn Reynolds has some links. Heh.

Libertarians nominate crackpot

I learned from Mike Hollihan that the Libertarian party has nominated Michael Badnarik for president.

So despite my threats, I won’t be voting Libertarian in November. I couldn’t bring myself to vote for someone who doesn’t respect the eighth amendment.

UPDATE: According to the Blogcritics article linked to above, "Badnarik is clearly a genuine connoisseur of N/A beer." Like I said, he's a crackpot.

Sunday, 30 May 2004

Fat Bastard: 9/11

Well, the conspiracy theorists will have to spin a new yarn about Disney burying Michael Moore’s apolitical magnum opus for political ends, as the Weinstein brothers have snagged themselves a sweetheart deal to get Disney to sell themselves the rights to Fahrenheit: 9/11.

So now we’ll all get to see if it measures up in over-the-top melodramatic impact to The Day After Tomorrow, which Julian Sanchez characterizes as a virtual ad for Bush/Cheney 2004, while a commenter at Dan Drezner’s place calls it “the Left Behind for the environmental left.” More importantly, this news goes to show you that free speech, even when illicitly pursued on someone else’s dime (apparently the Weinstein boys don’t quite understand this whole “owner-employee” relationship thing), is alive and well in America. Hallelujah!

Saturday, 29 May 2004

Butt Cleavage

Both Trio and the Superintendent think there’s too much “ass crack” on display in American educational establishments. Great minds…

Measuring America

So as not to disappoint Robert Prather, I’ll provide a very brief review of Measuring America by Andro Linklater (which I finally got around to finishing a few days ago, and which is June’s Signifying Nothing Book of the Month).

Overall, I found it an engaging read. Linklater frames the story, as I suppose is the current trend in popular history narratives, around historical figures of interest, mostly surveyors but a few political figures (Thomas Jefferson chief among them) as well. It is as much a history of the standardization of weights and measures as it is of geography. I think perhaps the most interesting thing I learned from the book was that Jefferson’s francophilia did not extend to adopting the metric system; instead, he favored a decimalized system based on the “traditional” (but as-yet unstandardized) units.

There were a couple of minor disappointments for me. First and foremost, the book didn’t quite explain how surveying actually works, which I suppose might be a bit technical but seems to underlie a lot of the discussion. As a result, I still know more about how GPS works than the simple geometry that underlies traditional surveying. The other disappointment is the sloppily-assembled measures appendix, which contains quite a few typographical errors and appears to be a transcribed copy of a NIST web page.

Of course, the political scientist in me might have more strongly emphasized that one of the enumerated powers of Congress was:

To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures[.]

That alone is a powerful statement of how seriously the Constitution’s Framers considered the issue of standardization, even though it took several decades for the American customary system to be adopted (ultimately, under the direction of a staunch advocate of metrification).

Anyway, I found it a quite enjoyable read, and it’s rekindled my interest in digging through the stack of books I’ve been meaning to read to find my copy of Longitude; my vague recollection is that the ability to determine longitude depended on producing an accurate chronometer (time-keeping piece), but I’m sure there’s more to it than that.

Liberals get worldly

Matt Yglesias broadens his perspective with a trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, with the following observation:

I’ve been surprised to discover that southerners really do say “y’all” all the time.

Meanwhile, Kevin Drum discovers that people in different parts of the country refer to carbonated soft drinks by different names. There may be hope for John Kerry in flyover country yet…

Reading my own obituary

Well, not exactly. While ego-surfing last night, I came across this obituary for “Uncle Brock Sides,” a Confederate veteran who died in Texas in 1914.

On this page, there’s also mention of a Brock Sides, who may or may not be the Confedarate veteran mentioned above. This Brock Sides would be my third cousin twice removed, if I'm counting generations correctly. His great-great uncle, Benjamin Franklin Sides (a popular name for children born in 1786, I suppose), was my great-great-great grandfather.

And another Brock Sides was a Gilchrist Studios National Poetry Month Contest winner in 2000, at the age of 13, for this anti-abortion poem.

Youthful good looks

Josh Chafetz isn’t entirely thrilled about his appearance being compared by Jonah Goldberg to that of a college sophomore.

You think that’s bad? My mom thinks my dissertation chair (who’s quite a bit older than me) looks younger than I do, at 28-and-change.

Friday, 28 May 2004

If in doubt, tunnel through port 53

Now, this is an interesting (if somewhat scary) hack:

nstx allows you to pass IP packets via DNS queries. This allows you to use standard network protocols when otherwise only DNS would be available.

Color me impressed.

Source is key

Here’s a statement to ponder (no fair reading the source first):

The Madrid railway bombings were perceived by Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda to have advanced their cause. Al Qaeda may perceive that a large-scale attack in the United States this summer or fall would lead to similar consequences.

That, to me, reads pretty much like a statement of fact: al-Qaeda may believe (correctly or incorrectly) that a large-scale attack on the United States will advance their cause. I think they’d be incredibly wrong on that point, but, nonetheless, I think it’s a fair statement for a politician to make.

The privileges and responsibilities thereof

Laura of Apartment 11D notes the downside of receiving an honorary doctorate:

What Jon Stewart didn’t know was that after receiving his honorary PhD, the Comedy Channel cut his salary to $45,000 a year, transferred him out of New York City to a small rural town in Pennsylvania, and forced him to grade 150 essays on “how a bill becomes a law.”

The wag might contribute:

  • $45,000 a year? Where can I get that deal? (Though I did interview for the “small rural town in Pennsylvania” bit, and I certainly cannot complain about the salary I am getting in the fall, particularly for a non-tenure-track position.)
  • His own bloody fault for assigning 150 students the same essay question. Mix it up a little!

Also of note: if you look at the photo, it looks like Dr. Stewart is wearing an olive green crew-neck T-shirt underneath his hood and gown. Classy.

Thursday, 27 May 2004


Mark A.R. Kleiman thinks Airbus is a pretty honest name for the company’s aircraft. Considering that economy-class air travel is essentially equivalent to riding Greyhound these days (with the exception that the hassle at the airport replaces getting drooled on by hobos), Boeing might be due for a name change as well.

That said, I was pleasantly surprised by both the Boeing 717 and the service provided by AirTran on my recent trip to Pennsylvania. The aircraft (a semi-decent regional jet service to and from DFW from Memphis, and a 1930s-tech prop plane in and out of Lawton that made me feel like I was living a World War II-era propaganda film) and service provided by American Eagle on my less-recent trip to Oklahoma, however, left much to be desired. These combined experiences have done little to entice me back to employing economy class air travel for any voluntary trip of less than 1000 miles.

Nosering chic

For the second time in two days, I have been waited on at a restaurant on the Oxford Square (last night, Proud Larry’s; tonight, Old Venice Pizza Company) by a waitress with a stud nosering. I guess they must be “in” now.


I think there’s a reasonable argument to be made supporting media outlets’ decisions to not name alleged rape victims, including that of Kobe Bryant’s accuser. That argument would seem to extend to also not naming her alleged past and present sexual partners, but apparently it doesn’t, which strikes me as a very odd double standard to be upholding in this day and age.

Fake Tennessean does 180 on Fake Iraqi Patriot

Robert Garcia Tagorda documents nicely Al Gore’s minor Ahmed Chalabi problem—namely, that he also treated Chalabi as a credible figure in the Iraqi exile community, at least until it came time for him to follow Howard Dean down the road of ex-DLCer dementia.

For the record, I found Chalabi less than credible, and was hardly a fan of Judith Miller’s Iraq WMD reporting, largely based on information provided by Chalabi’s pals, at the time either.

Just a little downtime

The cause of our 48-hour outage earlier this week: a borderline failing DSLAM card at the telephone exchange about a half-mile down the street. Just in case you were curious…

Vaguely tenurable activity

Here’s a brief article on Quantian (a “live Linux” CD with lots of scientific and mathematical goodies on it) I’m working on with a fellow Debianista for submission to The Political Methodologist, our humble little organized section newsletter. Any comments or feedback would be appreciated.

In someone’s name

Ted Barlow has an eminently sensible post on how relatives of political candidates should be treated (and, as is par for the course, attracts a bevy of moonbats in the comments who disagree).

However, being a single male, I reserve the right to make light of how Jenna and/or Barbara Bush dress if they get Alexandra Kerry’d. That’s just the American way.

Wednesday, 26 May 2004

If it’s sleaze, it leads

Both Nick Troester and Brian J. Noggle note Michelle Malkin’s Wednesday column on the literati set’s embrace of Jessica Cutler (“Washingtonienne”) and Ana Marie Cox (“Wonkette”). I’m not sure I agree with everything Malkin says, but I too find something slightly unseemly about this glorification of skanking one’s way to the top.

Apropos of the same topic, Sara Butler wonders if Culter’s actions are another strike against female interns in Washington who want to be taken seriously.

Update: Joy Larkin agrees with Malkin as well.

Happy Blogiversary, Robert!

Insults Unpunished turns two today. Congrats to Robert Prather on achieving this milestone!

Monday, 24 May 2004


Congratulations to Scipio of The Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy on winning his defendant’s case at his first trial. I won’t swear to it, but it sounds like he had fun or something.

Broder late than never

Geitner Simmons finds David Broder finally figuring out that those of us who somehow figured out that McCain-Feingold was a disaster waiting to happen were right.

Of course, many of the parties involved—President Bush included—thought the Supreme Court would bail them out of having made such a terrible piece of legislation. They were wrong, and now we’re all stuck with the consequences—the establishment of sham media organizations (NRA News, Air America Radio) to circumvent advertising restrictions, the undisclosed funnelling of cash to 527 organizations, the granting of even more institutional advantages to incumbent politicians, and the further emasculation of the American political party system. Coupled with the Court’s unwillingness to curtail the increasingly fraudulent redistricting practices of state legislatures, one might realistically despair of the prospects for legitimate republican government.

Sunday, 23 May 2004

This one's for my homies (particularly Will Baude)

Click here to make comments go away.

Paying for one's own imprisonment

Micha Ghertner, who is far from a knee-jerk right-winger, and who is in my opinion one of the smartest bloggers out there, argues that prisoners should pay for their “room and board” while in prison:

Whatever your thoughts may be on charging wrongfully convicted prisoners for room and board, it makes even more sense to charge the guilty for their prison expenses. Why should taxpayers be forced to pay for other people’s crimes? Ideally, prisoners should be forced to work while in prison to pay off the costs of their confinement, rather than impose an additional burden upon them when they are released.

I’m of the opinion, based on my reading of David Friedman (whom I know Ghertner is familiar with), that inefficient punishments like imprisonment and execution should be expensive for the government. Otherwise, there’s too much incentive to just “lock ‘em up and throw away the key.” Ideally, the cost to the government of locking someone up should be exactly the same as the cost to the person being locked up. That way, the government will lock someone up only if the marginal benefit to society is greater than the cost to the person imprisoned.

This is especially true when a large portion of those imprisoned are being held for things that shouldn’t be crimes in the first place, such as drug crimes.

UPDATE: TChris at TalkLeft writes:

Every few months, it's worth remembering that your tax dollars are being spent to incarcerate Tommy Chong so that the Justice Department could send a message about pot pipes and bhongs.

It's a good thing imprisonment is so expensive to the taxpayers. Otherwise, there would be a lot more Tommy Chongs. (Link via Crooked Timber.)

Absolute and relative deprivation

Brock mentions below the hypothesis that a significant portion of the value of real property in the suburbs is related to school quality, and that improving inner-city schools would reduce this value.

It seems to me that parents, for the most part, want good schools rather than better schools. While the Memphis city school system does exhibit this relationship—property values in the White Station High enrollment zone are higher than those in, say, the Ridgeway or Egypt Central zones—I’m not sure this applies once a certain baseline is crossed; I don’t believe there is this contrast among property values between Germantown, Houston, and Collierville high schools in the (separate) Shelby County district, even though I’m fairly certain there is an academic pecking order among these schools.

The only areas we might expect this effect is where jurisdictional transfers take place: for example, where new annexations by Memphis shunt students in southeast Shelby County from the county system (e.g. Germantown High) to the city system (e.g. Kirby High, which has never had a very good reputation). In these cases, we’d expect a precipitous drop in property values, particularly for “middle-class” homes; my anecdotal impression is that this, in fact, did take place. But I’m not sure the same effect would have been there if students had been sent to known “good” city schools like Ridgeway or Cordova.

The Big Eh-lection

Well, the big election north of the border is finally on, after months of buildup. Matt Yglesias has an ongoing discussion in his comments; I generally agree that it’s the Liberals’ election to lose, and the structural features of Canadian politics favor the Liberals emerging as the largest party—even if they don’t receive an absolute majority of the 308 seats up for grabs. There is widespread disaffection with the Liberals—in part due to several financial fiascos, in part because neither current prime minister Paul Martin nor ex-premier Jean Chrétien had a large fan club to begin with, but that’s unlikely to translate into a plurality win for the new Conservative Party of Canada, and the largest party is almost certain to be the one invited by the governor-general to form a government.

Realistically, there are about five possible governments that could emerge:

  • A majority Liberal government. If you’ve got money to wager, this is the odds-on favorite, even with the horrible approval ratings the Liberals have. Requires an outright majority (155+ seats).
  • A Liberal-New Democratic Party coalition. The problem with this arrangement is that Martin is trying to move the Liberals to the right and repair relations with the United States; the NDP is populated by hardcore leftists and harbors strongly anti-American sentiments, which would radically complicate Martin’s attempts at rapproachment. Realistically only likely if the Liberals win below 150 seats, but still have a plurality.
  • A minority Liberal government, depending on floating support on individual pieces of legislation. Probably unstable over the long term, but more politically palatable than a Liberal-NDP coalition, and increasingly likely if the Liberals are very close to a majority (say 150–154 seats).
  • A (probably short-term) Conservative-Bloc Québecois government. Both parties favor devolution of power from the federal government to the provinces, and a short-term agenda focusing on these issues—increased provincial autonomy, reform of the Senate to make it an elected body—might be palatable. In the long term, though, the contrast between the Canadian nationalist Conservatives and the Québecois nationalist Bloc along with the contrast between Conservative laissez-faire economics and BQ social democracy, would force new elections—but ones where both parties would be institutionally advantaged due to an elected upper chamber acting as a check on the (presumably Liberal) new government.

Anyway, this one will be fascinating to watch, and—thankfully—it’ll all be over in about a month, unlike the slow-motion trainwreck on this side of the border.

Education and Incentives

Matthew Yglesias notes today that, at least in theory, affluent families in good school districts have little incentive to push for improving educations in bad school districts. If we could wave a magic wand and improve the quality of underperforming rural and urban school districts, "suburban property owners are screwed, since a significant proportion of their home equity is tied up in the proposition that owning property in District X entitles your children to a superior education."

Here's a bit of anecdata to support this, from an article in today's Commercial Appeal (obnoxious registration required) about White Station High School, a Memphis public school with a very high reputation:

It's that mystique that ratchets up home prices in the neighborhoods around White Station High, and causes homes to sell 10 days faster than most Zip Codes in the metro Memphis area. Prudential Realtor Laura Zarecor sold her clients' home at 4792 Cole in two weeks. One open house is all it took.


The Iraq “Wedding Party” Attack story is getting attention at Belmont Club, and it seems more complex than it first appeared; U.S. Central Command* indicates that the attack was actually directed at a meeting of insurgent forces and that the location of the attack was a way-station for foreign fighters entering the country from Syria.

Fahrenheit: 911 Pounds

Well, this award will definitely make Michael Moore even more insufferable than he is already. And, here’s your “laugh test” moment:

“I did not set out to make a political film,” Mr. Moore said at a news conference after the ceremony. “I want people to leave thinking that was a good way to spend two hours. The art of this, the cinema, comes before the politics.”

I’m sure that’s what Leni Riefenstahl said too.

Saturday, 22 May 2004

Get this guy an appointment with Fishkin and Ackerman

The nice thing about being a lazy blogger is that if you want to fisk something, chances are someone else—in this case, Nick Troester—will have beaten you to it. But, lest I be accused of excessive laziness, allow me to pile on. The piece in Slate is called “Why We Hate Voting: And how to make it fun again,” by Thomas Geoghegan. Here’s a free hint: anyone who confuses civic duty with “fun” isn’t very normal to begin with. Shall we commence?

Usually, the outcome of a presidential election “depends on the turnout of the Democrats.” So says Nelson Polsby of the University of California-Berkeley. For once, I agree with a political scientist. I take Polsby to mean “Democrats” as a term of art for “most people.” By “Democrats” he means people with hourly jobs, high-school dropouts, high-school grads, single moms, single dads—anyone at or below the median household income.

But let’s narrow “Democrats” to people way down the income ladder, whose voting rate is usually less than 40 percent. Waitresses. Claims adjusters. College kids with loans. If the turnout among these people hits 50 percent, the Republicans are in trouble. Get it up to 60 percent, and Bush won’t even come close.

Actually, I think Dr. Polsby means “Democrats,” as in people who are predisposed to vote for Democratic candidates. In political science terms, we call these people “party identifiers”—they have a psychological attachment to their preferred political party. And we’ve called them party identifiers ever since 1960, when The American Voter came out.

I’ll grant that some earlier research, known as the Columbia school or sociological approach, argued that vote choice was largely a function of socioeconomic status, but The American Voter showed demography to be a rather distant causal influence on vote choice. Only African-Americans (a group oddly omitted from Geoghegan’s definition of “Democrats,” though perhaps this omission is understandable when you realize that he’s dealing with the limosine liberal set who read Slate) show the sort of bloc voting in American society that Geoghegan attributes to American social and economic groups. Union members and “blue-collar” workers, for example, are only weakly Democratic, as are singles, on the order of 60–40. And even then there can be significant cross-over effects; the “Reagan Democrats” were hardly a myth.

I know that the country’s turned to the right. But we’d still have the New Deal if voters were turning out at New Deal-type rates. (Between 1936 and 1968, voter turnout in presidential elections fell below 56 percent just once. Since 1968, it has never exceeded 56 percent.) So how can Democrats get the turnout of all eligibles up to 65 percent?

I doubt that seriously. One important causal factor Geoghegan omits is the lowering of the national voting age in 1970, which brought in a new cohort of voters who were unlikely to vote. Moreover, recent scholarship suggests that low apparent turnout in the U.S. is due to an increase in the non-eligible population (felons and non-citizens, which aren’t part of the “voting age population” used for redistricting) and the use of frequent elections (U.S. jurisdictions average at least one election per year, including local and state elections and primaries, while most other industrialized democracies only have elections, on average, every two years—and typically have elections for national office at different times from elections to local offices). The fact that the U.S. holds elections on weekdays rather than weekends is also an important factor in lowering turnout.

What are Geoghegan’s remedies?

First, offer two ballots, a long one and a short one. Let’s call the short one Fast Ballot. President. Congress. Governor if there’s a race on. That’s all. You’re done. Someone else will vote the long ballot.

Nick already explained what an idiotic idea this is. But in many states (including, I believe, Illinois), you can vote a party-line ballot just as easily. It seems more productive to encourage the adoption of (or return of) party-line boxes on ballots, then. (You can thank the Progressives for getting rid of party-line voting in many states.)

His second remedy apparently revolves around making the entire election process an excuse to go on a bender. No, I’m serious:

One free drink. Let’s take the 10 biggest population centers. In each one, set up a business-type council, full of media types and celebrities, to push voting. In September and October, have them sign up bars and restaurants to put up a red-white-and-blue logo on Election Night. What does the logo mean? With your ballot stub, first drink is on the house. Soon everybody will want to have a logo, the way in the New Deal, businesses showcased the Blue Eagle. Put the word out on college campuses. Get them to compete to throw the biggest party. Pump it up, the way we’ve done with Halloween.

No doubt, the Progressives are rolling over in their graves at this idea (you can thank them, too, for laws that require bars and liquor stores to be closed on Election Day in some states). In most (all?) states, it’s illegal to offer an inducement for voting—even if that inducement is given without regard to vote choice. From a theoretical point of view, I don’t think such laws are worthwhile—in fact, I actually wrote a paper on Philippine politics once that argued (in part) that citizens ought to have the right to sell their vote to the highest bidder. Regardless, this proposal is simultaneously idiotic and impractical (and illegal, to boot; not that that’s ever stopped any campaign tactic in the past, mind you).

Furthermore, the premise that any of this will help the Democrats is, simply put, absurd, and borders on patronizing: apparently, Geoghegan conceives of the Democratic base as a bunch of louts who can only be encouraged to vote if they are given a really dumbed-down ballot and are promised a pint of Pabst Blue Ribbon for their trouble. If this is what Democratic elites think of their own supporters, they should count their lucky stars if any of them bother to show up in November to cast a ballot for John F. Kerry—assuming he deigns to accept the nomination before then, that is.

PPPoE advice

Setting maxfail 0 in /etc/ppp/peers/dsl-provider will save you hours of headaches. Trust me on this.

The sound of silence

Mainly this is a post to say “I’m not dead.” But it will also contain a few random thoughts:

  • Ole Miss beat LSU 7–6 tonight in the first of a three game weekend series. The Rebels are hoping to finish the regular season with an outright SEC regular season title, a high seed in the SEC tournament, and positioned to host an NCAA Regional in early June.
  • I’m almost done reading Measuring America, probably the first recreational book reading I’ve done in about a year.
  • Never in my life has the term “fabulous” been applied (by me or someone else) to scheduling a meeting, but it happened this week. This was the result. Ok, it’s not the world’s spiffiest website, but it’ll do.
  • The Power of the Blogosphere: it’s pretty safe to say I’d never have pondered this question (probably NSFW) at Note-It Posts without Dana’s prompting.
  • The Power of the Blogosphere Part Deux: Russell Arben Fox has some typically thoughful comments on public education in Arkansas and in the nation.

Oh, last, but not least: I would have posted this several hours ago but my DSL connection went down inexplicably.

Thursday, 20 May 2004

Harold Ford, Jr., denies being at Moonie event

Back in March, I reported that Memphis Congressman Harold Ford, Jr., was among those in attendance at a coronation ceremony for the Rev. Sun Myung Moon in the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington.

According to local reporter Jackson Baker, Ford is denying having been at the ceremony. Baker quotes Ford as saying, “Unfortunately, public officials’ names often get used without their permission.”

Be sure to check out the blog of Moon-watcher John Gorenfeld.

Honor societies

Nick Troester apparently missed the point of being in the National Honor Society in high school: the only reason to join NHS was to have some extracurriculars to put on your college application.

My amusing NHS anecdote: the fact I wasn’t a member of NHS was actually something of a surprise to my classmates—and the Forest High NHS adviser. Everyone just assumed I had the GPA to get in, being one of the class geniuses and all, but I never did. Except for my name on a few plaques here and there, where quantitative measures were not the sole measure of merit, my academic honors are, in fact, quite limited—no Phi Beta Kappa, no cum laude, no Pi Sigma Alpha membership to speak of. Yet still they let me stay in school long enough to get a Ph.D. Go figure.

Apropos of the same post, I also went down to the worst defeat in Forest High School history* when I ran for senior class president, the event that kicked off my part-time career as an also-ran political candidate.

Comments on comments

To answer Will Baude: My fundamental position on comments remains unchanged. However, the software that drives Signifying Nothing (and the neglected Bazaar), LSblog, needs a comments feature, and this is the only place I have to test it. So, you will be subjected to it during testing.

I don’t plan on opening comments on every single post during testing, mind you. That, of course, is also a test. And then we’ll go back to our old, comment-free existence and live happily ever after, unless Brock decides he likes comments.

BTW, I can add a cookie pref to not show comments to you, if you want it.

Wednesday, 19 May 2004

And $2 will buy you a cup of coffee

Well, we’ll try this whole “comments” thing for a day or two (against my better judgment, mind you) and see how it goes. If nothing else, it will give me a chance to play with the IP blacklist feature.

It’s actually a pretty slick setup under the hood… you can use HTML or Textile markup, or intermingle the two, and you’ve got a reasonably complete subset of HTML to work with (no DHTML or images, but pretty much all the text formatting stuff is there, with the exception of CSS). About the only thing missing is a preview function, and that’s just because I’m pretty much lazy.

So, here’s your topic to start with, a good British telly question: was/is Julia Sawalha hotter on Absolutely Fabulous or Jonathan Creek? (And no spoilers on Jonathan Creek, please, we’re hopelessly behind on this side of the pond.)

Tuesday, 18 May 2004

Death of a showman

Tony Randall is dead. His death is clearly a loss for humanity at large, and for those of us who were fans of his work. On the other hand, since I had the foresight to pick him in the Dead Pool… score!

Monday, 17 May 2004

Road Trip!

I just got back from a day-long excursion to Jackson, with the twin goals of scoping out apartment complexes and showing one parental unit around the Millsaps campus. Fun but tiring.

Congratulations Newlyweds

I just want to extend my congratulations to all couples, gay and straight, who were married in the state of Massachusetts on this historic day. May your marriage bring you as much happiness as mine has to me.

We'll have a gay old time

It’s Monday, so that means same-sex marriage is on in the Bay State. For suitable discussion, see James Joyner, Steven Jens, OxBlog, and Kevin Drum. For apoplexy, go visit Clayton “Even Worse Volokh Conspirator than David Bernstein” Cramer.

First daughters

Say what you will about George and Laura Bush, but I suspect at least they raised their daughters to wear underwear when appearing in public (NSFW), even if they did use fake ID’s around Austin while attending UT (shock, horror, college undergraduates drinking under the age of 21).

What’s even more scary is that, aside from the obvious attributes on display, Ms. Kerry looks pretty much like a younger John F. Kerry in drag.

Update: More at Outside the Beltway and Ogged, the latter of whom blames flash photography for the explicitness of the photo.

Sunday, 16 May 2004


Like Moe Lane, I generally take Seymour Hersh’s journalism with a huge grain of salt—and immediately suspected a fresh round of “inside the beltway” fingerpointing as the source for the latest revelations, which purportedly trace the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib all the way to Donald Rumsfeld’s desk. Now, however, I’m not so sure. And, clearly if Rumsfeld (or his inferiors, like Defense Undersecretary Stephen A. Cambone) condoned or specifically authorized the abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib, he/they should be fired and prosecuted—and if the president won’t can him/them, Congress can and should impeach and remove Rumsfeld (and/or Cambone) from office.

More at OTB and Matt Yglesias.

The decline of WordPerfect

Steven Taylor notes that WordPerfect 12 has just been released, even though it last gained a new feature, by my estimation, circa WordPerfect 9.

These days, if I have to use a word processor (which usually means, “I have to read someone else’s Word file”), I’ll use either or StarOffice; now that they have native PDF export, they do pretty much everything I need a word processor to do. But pretty much anything I write myself (from letters to my vita to conference papers) I end up doing in LaTeX these days.

Saturday, 15 May 2004

Princes of Florence

I played two games of Princes of Florence this afternoon at Cafe Francisco downtown.

The theme of the game is Medici-era Florence, and the goal of the game is to gain the most prestige, which you get by building a magnificent Palazzo, with lots of buildings and landscapes, and by commissioning works from artisans, artists, and scholars.

Turns in the game consist of two phases, an auction phase and an action phase. In the auction phase, players bid to add landscapes to their Palazzo and hire architects and jesters. In the action phase, players build buildings and commission works. Each artisan, artist, and scholar has a preferred type of building to work in, a preferred type of landscape for recretation, and a preferred freedom (travel, opinion, or religion), which makes the works they produce more valuable.

There are three things about this game that make it one of my favorites.

First, the auction mechanic acts as a natural balancing mechanism for the game. There can be no consistent winning strategy for the game. If there were a winning strategy, everyone would pursue it in the auction phase, bidding up the value of the items. This would give an advantage to anyone not pursuing that strategy, since they could buy the items they need cheaply.

Second, the game appeals to the amateur economist in me, since it illustrates so well the concept of opportunity cost. Each player can only buy one item in each turn’s auction, so even if you get a good deal on, e.g., hiring a jester, you might have gotten a better deal on hiring an architect. The game is won by getting a better deal than everyone else at the auction.

Third, the goal of the game illustrates Aristotle’s virtue of magnificence. It’s good to earn money, but only because it lets you do great things with it.

If you live in the Memphis area and would like to play Princes of Florence or other strategy board games, you should sign up for the Memphis Strategy Board Gaming Community Yahoo group. We meet to play games at least twice a month, once in downtown or midtown, and once out east.

Price discrimination

I get four or five credit card offers per week in the mail, and I usually just throw them away without even looking at them.

Today, though, my wife and I both received credit card offers from CapitalOne. On the outside of each envelope were terms for balance transfers. My envelope offered

2.99% fixed APR for life on all balances transferred.

My wife’s envelope, on the other hand offered

3.99% fixed APR for life on all balances transferred.

My wife's reaction to this blatant inequity: “I didn’t want their crummy credit card anyway.” Neither did I.

Eulogy for Nick Berg

I suppose the whole blogosphere will be linking to it soon, but I’m linking to it anyway, because everyone should read this:

Tacitus posts a eulogy for Nick Berg, written by JakeV, a friend of Mr. Berg.

Link via Obsidian Wings.

Blog Post of the Year

It’s a little early to nominate entries for Best Blog Post of 2004, I suppose, but I think it will be hard to beat Mark Kleiman’s list of five epistemic principles for thinking about politics:

  1. Being aware of your own tendency, and those of your allies, to demonize the opposition.
  2. Being more skeptical of news that tends to confirm your presuppositions, and more credulous of news that tends to challenge them, than is comfortable.
  3. Trying to imagine how the people whose actions you dislike can see those actions as justified.
  4. Discounting somewhat, in figuring out how far you're justified in going to make sure your side wins, your subjective certainty that you're right. Given that means and procedures are immediate and easy to see, while outcomes are hard to see, this means giving more weight to means and procedures, and less to outcomes, than a simple decision analysis based on your current beliefs would justify.
  5. And still, in spite of your carefully-cultivated doubts, fighting hard for what you believe in, because if the people capable of irony allow irony to demobilize them, the fanatics will win.

Free Beer

Mark Lane of the Miami Herald urges everyone to support the Truth, Beauty, Decency, Cute Little Children and Free Beer for Everyone (with Proper ID) Act of 2004.

If I could add one amendment to the U.S. Constitution, it would be something like Article II, Section 17 of the Tennessee Constitution:

No bill shall become a law which embraces more than one subject, that subject to be expressed in the title. All acts which repeal, revive or amend former laws, shall recite in their caption, or otherwise, the title or substance of the law repealed, revived or amended.

Tennessee courts have struck down laws because of this Constitutional provision, notably the “toy towns” bill of 1997.

But I’d settle for a Constitutional provision forbidding the use of contrived acronyms in the titles of bills.

Theorists agree: the APSR sucks

Chris Bertram of Crooked Timber solicits contributions for the best political philosophy and (normative) political theory articles of the past decade.

I roughly estimate two dozen nominations so far. Exactly one of them appeared in The American Political Science Review. Open question: is there any subfield of political science that is well-represented by the travesty that is the contemporary APSR?

King of All Media (or at least of BuzzMachine)

Hei Lun of Begging to Differ, in response to a commenter of Jeff Jarvis’, hypothesizes that the only voter whose intended vote choice has been changed by Howard Stern’s tirades against the Bush administration—never mind that many of his tormentors are Democrats in Congress and in the FCC—is named Jeff Jarvis. That sounds about right.


Some polling outfit made the mistake of calling James Joyner. Hilarity ensues.

Blogger Spam

Has anyone else been getting unsolicited bulk emails from an outfit called, which appears to be some sort of anti-Dan Rather site?

Just curious. They’re about to be introduced to my procmail filter…

Friday, 14 May 2004

No comment

Will Baude continues to justify Crescat Sententia‘s “No Comments” policy, for essentially the same reason that SN doesn’t carry comments. Well, that and the fact I don’t have the Copious Free Time™ necessary to remove troll infestations from my comments.

However, there is some fiddling behind the scenes here to add a comments facility to everyone’s favorite blogging platform, LSblog, because other bloggers are not similarly enlightened. Once that’s done, probably this weekend, I’ll release a new tarball, as there appears to be renewed interest in alternatives to Movable Type. Once the rudiments of the comment code are finished, I may open comments on a couple of posts (including this one) for testing purposes.

Little Green Volokhs

David Bernstein posts another blog entry in his seeming quest to turn the Volokh Conspiracy into LGF.

Personally I don’t think that T-shirts designed to foment ill-will between religious groups on campus are “cool.”

Being the expert

Something I’ve discussed here on the blog on occassion, and when I had dinner with the chair/other half of the department at Future Employer™, is my wrestling with what it means to be “the professor”—the assumed expert in all things political, even those things far afield from my relatively narrow specialization. Being “the professor” does, in and of itself, create an expectation of authority—I’m the jackass standing at the front of the room, pontificating about congressional committees or Ted Lowi’s typology of domestic public policy, and that confers some natural (and perhaps unearned) authority.

That, of course, will get a young faculty member far. But sometimes it’s not enough. I taught—or, at least, was scheduled to teach—a class the afternoon of 9/11, and I didn’t have the first thing to say that made any sense, yet I was the one my students turned to for answers. If asked today, I couldn’t begin to explain the pure evil behind the beheadings of Daniel Pearl and Nick Berg at the hands of al-Qaeda, or the vile acts of American soldiers at Abu Ghraib. I suppose the best I can do is cope as best as I can, even if sometimes I won’t be the universal expert my students expect I should be.

Wednesday, 12 May 2004

DSL withdrawal

Being at the ass-end of a CDMA 1X wireless link is even worse than dialup (about the same throughput, but around 400 ms latency on pings). But at least it’s (cough) free and easy, at least until my phone battery drains and I need to recharge it…

Gainful employment

As you may have noticed over on the sidebar, I’ve accepted a one-year position as a visiting assistant professor in the political science department at Millsaps College (formerly known as BCITS), a private, selective liberal arts college in Jackson, Mississippi, starting in August 2004. I’m really looking forward to working with my fellow faculty and future students while I continue the search for that elusive tenure-track job in the fall—don’t worry, the “soap opera” will continue on that front, at least!

Not even past

Conrad of The Gweilo Diaries notes the reopening of an investigation into the 1955 Emmitt Till murder; Till’s murder by white supremicists is generally regarded as a catalyst for the civil rights movement in Mississippi.

Today, the Clarion-Ledger website carried a long article on the reopening of the case.

Monday, 10 May 2004


Amber Taylor takes note of a new way to figure out blacked-out words in redacted documents and the new Yale typeface.

When I’m rich and famous, I’ll probably buy a license for Economist, although for now I’m using’s University Old Style (a.k.a. ITC Berkeley Old Style) for a lot of my correspondence and papers.

Who's crying now?

Alex Tabarrok links to a debunking of the rather lame “smart states voted for Gore” hypothesis—on the basis that there’s no state-level IQ data for anyone to reach such a conclusion.

However, there is individual-level data in the 2000 American National Election Study, conducted by the University of Michigan, and this data supports an opposite conclusion: the mean level of both intelligence and political information-holding for Gore voters was lower than for Bush voters. Not much lower, mind you, but the difference is statistically significant.


APSA wants $237 from me for my membership renewal and to register for the 2004 annual meeting. I should have stayed unemployed…


You can tell you’re a political science geek when you get all gushy about a review copy of a political science textbook

Sunday, 9 May 2004

Requiem for a tie

In addition to my fondness for hats, I also like ties. (They're pretty much the only part of a man's business wardrobe that can be expressive.)

So I was horrified this morning to discover, upon removing the laundry from the washing machine, that I had accidently laundered my favorite tie. It was based on a Frank Lloyd Wright stained glass window from the Coonley Playhouse in Riverside, Illinois. It's the blue one:

Here's a picture of the original stained glass window, now housed at the Museum of Modern Art.

Saturday, 8 May 2004

Civil discussions

Steven Taylor has apparently decided his life isn’t complicated enough, so he’s decided to rile up the legions of Confederate apologists in the blogosphere, using that whole “logic” and “documentary evidence” thing to prove—quelle horreur—that the Civil War, was in fact, about slavery, and there’s no way to explain it otherwise. Start here, then go to the front page, because there’s a zone-flood in progress.

Them boys are commencin'

Commencement was hot and icky… think of sitting and standing for two hours in a solid black, winter-weight cap and gown. Gov. Haley Barbour’s address was a tad more political in spots than I might have liked, but I think his message—“believe in God, believe your country and your state, and believe in yourself”—was a good one. (I half expected entire departments to walk out when, at one point in the speech, he categorically rejected moral relativism.) People who study rhetoric would have had a field day with his speech. I can definitely see how he does well on the stump—Ronnie Musgrove never struck me as much of an orator, and that alone may have made the difference between them in the last gubernatorial race.

In other news, it looks like a neighborhood cat has adopted me, and I haven’t the faintest clue why. My original working hypothesis was that it’s one of my friend Alfie’s cats, and it recognizes me from having visited his place, but I don’t think this is one of them. If it’s still here tomorrow, I’ll have to figure out something to do with it—I’m shocked the neighborhood pack of dogs hasn’t killed it, though.

Friday, 7 May 2004


Well, that was something. Somehow, though, the rental service managed to give me the wrong color hood (white instead of dark blue)... a problem rectified after the ceremony by swapping hoods with someone who didn’t plan on attending the commencement exercises in the morning.

Plus, I got to catch up with a couple of people I’d met in other departments along the way who finished this past year. And, I learned that Brock missed out on getting the coolest looking regalia on display by far ☺.

You were just a waste of time

Josh Chafetz asks the $64,000 question in American public opinion polling:

[W]hat, exactly, is the point of continually doing nationwide polls when all that matters are the states? I mean, I know nationwide polls are a lot cheaper, but just making up the results would be cheaper still, and only marginally more relevant.

Well, I don’t know that nationwide polling is truly irrelevant; the state-level poll results would be close to a simple linear function of the national polling number, although the effects of campaign advertising—concentrated in the “battleground states”—will cause divergence from linearity.

But due to statistical theory, and the closeness of presidential elections, you’d have to survey a lot more people to get accurate state-level data… realistically, a sample less than 500 per state is useless, which means polling 25,500 people (including D.C.) per survey—and you’re still getting a sampling error of ±4.5% per state. So the best that you can do is pretty much what’s done in practice—you do national surveys augmented by state-level surveys in states that are a priori believed to be close.

Thursday, 6 May 2004

Not my president (but for the grace of God)

Stephen Karlson has the latest missive from Shelby Thames to his faculty, staff, and students at Southern Miss. With any luck, maybe the four new members of the IHL board will decide this stooge is far more hassle than he’s worth.

Stellar trajectories

Michael Jennings watches a lot of movies aimed at the teen set in the hopes of spotting future stars—or at least, that’s his excuse. Like Michael, I am perplexed at the lack of success Alicia Silverstone has had in her career—of course, I thought Blast from the Past was one of the best romantic comedies in recent years (enhanced by Dave Foley’s role as Alicia’s “queer eye for the straight gal” roommate), and was probably one of a dozen people to actually see the film, so that may be the problem.


Xrlq is the latest blogger to bemoan the continued decline of Reason magazine under Nick Gillespie’s tutelage.


BCITS made me an offer today. I nearly drove off the road.

Bounce, baby, out the door

I think I’m home tonight. I may even get to stay in the same place for more than two days. The Big Hooding in less than 48 hrs.

Had a very nice visit at “the best college in [the state]” today* as my undergrad student escort proclaimed it, and had no reason to disagree with her assessment. Nice faculty (even if I’d be half the department), nice salary, nice teaching load (3–3), nice location (the prospect of a Rebel season ticket renewal is a definite plus), good students (whose idol-worship compares favorably with some ex-colleagues’ acolytes, and who didn’t even require a plaintive “Bueller?”), BMOC status, travel money, Division III competition against one of the alma maters. What more could a political scientist want?

Oh, yeah, tenure (the one thing the job doesn’t come with a shot at, at least not unless I were to get the tenure-track position when it is advertised in the fall)… which at TBCITS might actually mean something, contra the inactions of Mississippi’s illustrious IHL. (I mean, as long as the kids are getting their learn on, who cares about the faculty?)

Hopefully in a couple of weeks I will have time to deal with the bloody R&R and the damned impeachment paper and the thrice-cursed Hillary (Clinton, not Duff) piece. Then I’ll be stoked for Year II of “Chris on the Market.”

Wednesday, 5 May 2004

Why three-fifths?

Will Baude, at the prompting of Jacob T. Levy, ponders the Three-Fifths Compromise. I don’t have a better theory than Will’s; I always just figured that’s the offer the southern delegates proffered after a few rounds and that’s what stuck.

I suppose another possibility is that it reflected the assumed ratios of voting populations around 1787—so as to balance voting between relatively free North with the more populous but part-slave South—but I don’t have the numbers in front of me to prove it.

Notes from flyover country

I’m off for an interview in two hours. But, in the meantime, check out Dan Drezner’s post on the impending takeover of Newsworld International by Al Gore. Because what CBC’s “National” needed to be a rip-roaring success south of the border was the one-two excitement punch of Peter Mansbridge and Al Gore. (Of course, it might also help if they didn’t talk about Canada for 90% of the show…)

Also, a data point for you: on the way here (a state capital within a leisurely drive of Memphis, Tenn.), I passed not one, but two, hotels prominently featuring high-speed Internet access on their billboards—at the same exit. Pretty amazing considering almost nobody would have thought high-speed Internet was a needed hotel amenity even three years ago (and I still visit major hotels that have no high-speed access in most rooms—or, rather, pass them up in favor of other hotels, as the case may be).

Tuesday, 4 May 2004

On the road again (and again)

No substantive comments for now… I have to work on a job talk for tomorrow. Gotta love short-notice campus interviews.

Monday, 3 May 2004

Peace in our time

James Joyner is perplexed by the current Israeli political situation:

Matt Yglesias points to Shinui Party chairman and minister of justice, Yosef Lapid’s threats to leave the coalition and force new elections if Sharon doesn’t come up with a new plan and notes, “If the Likud insists that the plan be halted and Shinui insists that it be implemented, then there’s going to have to be new elections which, presumably, Likud will lose.” I haven’t seen any Israeli opinion polls and it may well be that they’re sufficiently fed up with Sharon as to want to dump him. Still, a Labor victory seems unlikely to me.

The Sharon plan was rejected because it wasn’t far enough to the right, seeming to give too much away in exchange for nothing. Labour is much more conciliatory. So, if anything, I would predict that Likud would drop Sharon in favor of a more hard-line leader. Likud would likely win fewer seats in the Knesset than it has now with extreme right fringe parties picking up more support. Lukud would then form a coalition which would be drawn even further to the right.

There are a few different dynamics going on: for one, the Sharon plan was only voted on by members of the Likud party (and a small fraction thereof—on the order of 10% of the membership)—it has not faced a popular referendum, which probably would be much more supportive. After all, Likud was essentially founded as an aggressively Zionist, “greater Israel” party that basically rejected the idea of “land for peace.” For another, the plan got less support than one might otherwise expect due to a terrorist attack on Gaza settlers on the eve of the vote.

The big questions are:

  1. Whether the parliamentary Likud can continue to support the Sharon plan, despite its repudiation by the Likud base. If Likud stays behind Sharon, he can take the plan to the voters and, if necessary, swap the religious parties in the coalition for Labor—who do support the plan—or carry on as a minority coalition for a while, scraping together votes as needed. If Likud doesn’t stay the course, then the party will probably fragment and either the Sharonists will join with Labor and Shinui in a coalition, or new elections will be called.
  2. How the parties would fare in a new election. If Likud dumps Sharon (who has legal troubles, in addition to the Gaza plan, as a handicap), it is doubtful that they will pick up nearly as much support as they now have, which opens the door for a Labor-led coalition under Shimon Peres, most likely with the left-wing Meretz and Shinui on board—a coalition that is likely to go even further than the Sharon pullout, but probably would continue the security fence. On the other hand, if Sharon sticks around, the Likud will probably do better—but will have a tough time articulating a position on the Sharon plan, which may lead to the fragmentation anticipated above.
  3. Whether Sharon’s domestic legal troubles will force a change at the top for reasons orthogonal to the pull-out plan.

Contra Yglesias, it looks like the Likud rank-and-file don’t seem to “get” it: by sabotaging the Sharon plan, despite its overwhelming public support, they have pretty much opened the door for either a Labor-led coalition that will go even further or an irreconcilable split within their own party between the “land for peace” wing represented (ironically) by Sharon and the Netanayu rejectionist wing. This suggests poor long-term thinking on the part of Likud voters.

Nor do I quite understand the cheap shot that Yglesias takes at the Bush administration, except on the domestic politics “hammer-nail” theory. There’s only so much mucking around in Israel’s internal politics that an administration can do before it backfires, and the current push for the Sharon plan has been rapidly approaching that line as it is.

Stretch run

Oh, so now everyone wants to interview me. Where were all these folks in February?

Ah well, the more interviews I have before the two week clock starts, the better. Having options is nice.

Sunday, 2 May 2004

The Florida Effect

Brian J. Noggle is displeased that the St. Louis city fathers are now attributing the town’s failure to be “cool” to a “lack of gays and bohemians,” instead of the common-sense perspective of attributing it to the fact that it’s freaking St. Louis.

What I want to know is: since when have Czechs been cool?

Saturday, 1 May 2004

Toast returns from haitus

Unlike those TV shows you like that get yanked from the air, the one-and-only PoliBlog Toast-O-Meter is back, in time for the annual worldwide commemorations of the Struggles of the Proletariat. Appropriately enough, the trials and tribulations of the presidential campaign of wealthy “consumer activist” proletarian hero Ralph Nader are prominently featured.

Holding the moral high ground

Eugene Volokh links approvingly to Glenn Reynolds, who approvingly quotes Kim du Toit (to whom I will not link), regarding recently reported mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners:
If they're found guilty, I hope these assholes go to jail.

Because when the Islamist pricks do this kind of thing to our soldiers, I want to be able to go after them with a vengeful spirit.

Why not just hope those assholes go to jail because what they did was morally wrong? By adding the qualification, it seems as if the only reason Profs. Volokh and Reynolds are outraged is that the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners (or “alleged” mistreatment, as Prof. Volokh writes) will no longer let Americans hold the moral high ground in the ongoing war in Iraq.

To be fair, the quote Reynolds pulls from Citizen Smash does recognizes the wrongness of mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners. But the quote from du Toit is the most prominent one in Reynolds’s post.

UPDATE: More on Reynolds's reaction from Jim Henley. Henley points out that "[i]t takes four sentences for Glenn Reynolds to start whining about John Kerry in his attempt to condemn the Abu Ghraib abuses," and also notes that Dan Drezner "devotes most of his passion to resenting that Arabs have gotten indignant about it."

Huzzah and kudos

Congratulations to Will Baude on his decision to turn to the Dark Side slightly improve the labor market for graduating Ph.D.s in 2009 or so accept an offer to attend Yale Law School this coming fall.

And—no matter what Brian Leiter tells you—they ALL suck are really good scholarly communities.