Hogan’s Alley Fail

Cop conducting a drug investigation sees armed man, blazes away — and shoots his own image in a mirror. I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t contribute to a passing score on the range.

Turley on Blanket Pardons

Law prof Jonathan Turley, I see from my referrer log, agrees with me that a blanket pardon for Bush administration officials involved in torture is a Constitutionally dubious idea:

A “blanket pardon” would raise serious constitutional and criminal questions, though there is some precedent in the Kennedy and Carter administrations. A traditional pardon is a public document naming individuals who are pardoned for specific crimes. One possibility being discussed is the use of a blanket pardon that would not individually name people but cover anyone associated with the unlawful programs. It would be a terrible precedent, if upheld. A president could pardon the world at the end of an Administration — gutting any accountability for criminal acts.

One of his commenters suggests this needs to be addressed through a Constitutional amendment:

I have thought about this since the Scooter Libby disaster, and would propose one that would be something like “A president may not pardon or commute any one in his/her administration for crimes committed during the administration.”

I agree — and think a blanket pardon would touch off a massive, world-wide controversy with unforeseen political costs for the US. It would invite third-country prosecutions of the Pinochet variety.

Josh Whedon Was There First

All due respect to Niall Ferguson and Tom Barnett, but they’re hardly the only guys to posit a convergence between China and the US. Firefly major domo Josh Whedon has too — and he clearly doesn’t like the idea.

Diplomatic Timing

Tom Barnett for a long time has favored a diplomatic opening to Iran, but now contends that Obama doesn’t need to rush:

My advice? Do nothing before Iran’s presidential election except hint you’d welcome a new attitude from Tehran.

Ahmadinejad is sinking, so [his congratulatory letter to Obama] reveals his personal desperation more than the mullahs’.

Turks as Friends

Turkey’s offer to mediate between the Obama administration and Iran is getting good reviews.

Ezra Klein:

Anne-Marie Slaughter, Ivo Daalder, Susan Rice, and others have for some time been pushing this concept of “strategic leadership,” wherein America begins thinking more about its interests than its preeminence. Part of that means being willing to let allies take a leadership role in the regions where they’re most influential. It’s obvious enough how you do that in, say, Eastern Europe, but less so in the Muslim world. Unless, of course, Turkey is willing to step into a leadership role. And there’s evidence they want to do exactly that.

Patrick Barry:

A bajillion years ago, back when there were Byzantines, they called Istanbul the navel of the world, a metaphor which is at once gross but also useful for understanding Turkey’s traditional role as a node for East-West activity.  For centuries, Turkey has managed to fuse together cultures that to everyone else appared irreconcilable.  Today, for reasons political and economic, cultural and strategic, they seem willing to take on that part again.

A cautionary analogy, however, is the historical fact that Pakistan helped broker the Nixon Administration’s opening to China — to curry favor with both the Americans and Chinese. It didn’t make them a pivot, just a client, and not a particularly reliable one at that.

Russian Sub Accident (?)


Galrahn is puzzled by the recent incident on a Russian sub that killed 20 crew and technicians:

The offending crew member is either a high ranking officer, or there is a conspiracy, there really isn’t much middle ground here. The system is designed so it can be activated locally, in the next adjacent apartment, or from a bridge central control station. There are safeguards that prevent the system from being activated except by a high ranking officer, codes that would prevent just anyone from activating the fire suppression system.

The Downside of Populism

One of Andrew Sullivan’s readers puts his finger on the GOP’s dilemma:

It’s why as a 27-year-old voter, the Republican party has been off the table for me since I could vote in the 2000 election. No matter how much I like or identify with any of “conservative” ideas, I refuse to stand in any tent, now matter how big, with people like Sarah Palin, Jim Broun, and Sean Hannity.

And for all of those “non-kook” conservatives out there scratching their heads about why the country polls “center-right” but voted so strongly for Obama, there is your answer, especially in my generation.

Hot rhetoric and doctrinaire ideology has never commanded majority support in American politics, or anything close to it.

Bubble Real Estate

Matt Ygelsias is (partly) in a forgiving mood about the housing bubble:

Someone who takes out a loan they can’t afford and then defaults doesn’t deserve to be “blamed” for anything. They suffer consequences for their actions. Much as the person who issues a loan the borrower can’t pay back doesn’t really deserve “blame.” Both parties to such a deal suffer from the collapse of the lending agreement. Everyone has an incentive to avoid lending money to bad borrows and an incentive to avoid becoming a bad borrow. But mistakes happen and people do dumb things, and then they bear the consequences. That’s life.

Maybe. But when you look at foreclosure records, as I have, and see that banks were offering and people were accepting home mortgages at consumer-credit levels of interest, you have to wonder.

Intellectual Prerequisite

Galrahn has a mandatory reading list:

if you read this blog and have not read Ian Toll’s book Six Frigates, it is basically a party foul in the context of spilling your red wine on your boss at the Christmas party.

I wouldn’t go quite far, but Toll’s work is excellent particularly for his examination of the economic causes of early U.S. naval confrontations with France and England.

Losing the Well-To-Do

Charlie Cook believes the GOP’s hold on middle-class voters is slipping:

Republicans have lost an enormous amount of support among upscale voters, basically just breaking even among those with household incomes above $50,000 a year, a traditional GOP stronghold. Similarly, McCain’s losing to Obama among college graduates and voters who have attended some college underscores how much the GOP franchise is in trouble. My hunch is that the Republican Party’s focus on social, cultural, and religious issues — most notably, fights over embryonic-stem-cell research and Terri Schiavo — cost its candidates dearly among upscale voters.

While everything he says here is undoubtedly true, I suspect it’s also true that voters in the middle don’t base their decisions about who to vote for on the hot-button social issues as a first-order priority. They vote on bigger things like that economy. Dems in general had the advantage on that in this cycle and Obama in particular was offering a more mainstream, less doctrinaire and less radical set of policy prescriptions than McCain or the GOP.