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December 11, 2007


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Dave MB

Here's a TPM summary of the Post's obsession with my candidate's hair:


I see no reason to dispute Brad DeLong's contention that the Post will be gone in four years and might as well be gone sooner.

And if centrist views like Prof. Maranto's and yours are marginalized in academia as right-wing, how does that comport with centrist academics like Delong and Krugman being marginalized as shrill partisans in the political comment world?

Noel Maurer

Dave, I'm confused. Either I wrote a really really bad post, or I'm missing a joke in your last paragraph, because my point is that said views are /not/ marginalized in academia even though Maranto seems to be claiming that they are.

If the former, I'm going to rewrite the post. If the latter, please explain ... I think I'm a little overworked today.

Dave MB

I intended to agree with you that Prof. Maranto's contention is absurd. (I have also seen no evidence at UMass that centrist economic views are marginalized.) Sorry if I was unclear -- typepad ate my first attempt to comment and I was trying to be terser the second time.

Noel Maurer

Ah, gotcha. Thanks for the clarification: the first clause of that sentence led me to think I had mistakenly argued the opposite of what I intended.


Dude. It's fairly simple. The guy is saying things which are contrary to fact. There are two possibilities: he's suffering from an error of perception, or he's telling untruths. They're not mutually exclusive.

(Villanova, a bastion of the ideological left? One of the nation's premier Catholic universities and better business schools? also their basketball team.)

Given his overall rhetorical strategy, I would say that he's knowingly presenting untruths. Attempting to legitimize former Black Panther David Horowitz as a mainstream if conservative commenter on academia, instead of the sad guilt-racked mentally disturbed man he is, that's the cherry on top of this fecal sandwich.

Here's an interesting Morton's fork. Professional courtesy prohibits fellow academics from calling this fellow a liar, but non-academics will be presumed not to know what life is really like in the ivory tower.

But *I'll* cheerfully do it.

Carlos ... you should get yrself familiar with Catholics of the sort who refrain from re-enacting the passion. Am shocked by (at?) yr wrongness! Eyes like saucers!! !!!


The Thirteenth Station is Badger Liquor.


(Villanova, a bastion of the ideological left? One of the nation's premier Catholic universities and better business schools? also their basketball team.)


Somebody should do an analysis of politically aligned schools versus athletic performance. Thinking it over, all big football schools strike me as probably more conservative than none, but that may be a function of size.


when you are wrong, you should say you are wrong. like Baby's dad.


I'm sorry, but I'm not seeing Villanova as a bastion of ideological leftists. I know you know what one looks like!

I don't mean to be confrontational, but perhaps you could provide an example, like a controversial professor (other than this bozo) or something.

As for its Catholicism, they seem more conservative than Fordham, less so than Notre Dame, and entirely unexceptional except to the professionally offended. Yeah, none of them are that Domino's pizza guy's university, but that doesn't seem to be what you're saying.


fordham, pffft. every order is more conservative than the jesuits, and maybe that's the point, but Carlos, to say about augustinians "oh, well, not a bastion of lefticism," well, that's wrong. especially on the issues this guy is writing about which have everything to do with peace, justice, war, the equitable & moral division of resources, etc. serve it up like Dr Houseman when you're ready.


Okay, I see what you mean.

It adds an interesting wrinkle if this guy felt ostracized because his religious colleagues thought he was an amoral twit.

I wonder what his CV is like? [googles] Bachelor's, Maryland. PhD, Minnesota. Assistant prof at Lafayette College before Villanova. [more googles] Favorable excerpts in Frontpagemag, Townhall, and David Horowitz's zine throughout the early 2000s.

Gosh, maybe this guy isn't a centrist at all, but a member of the radical right.

Dennis Brennan

I live a block from Nova's campus-- I can hear their football games from inside my house. It doesn't strike me as a particularly liberal campus at all. The undergrads seem to be more interested in Big 5 basketball and the Lancaster Avenue bars than in ideology. (The "Holy War", used in reference to Nova, means the basketball rivalry with St. Joe's.)


yah, well, it wasn't my intention to talk about The Guy, really. but you see my point, I think, which (necessarily talking about The Guy, which I was trying to avoid) is just: shore thing, The Guy is certainly wrong about his interpretation of what means centrism, etc, but it is not (as you seemed to shorthand) because villanova is not far enough to the left. and I was surprised that you just ... I thought it lacked yr characteristic thoroughness. am also right this minute v v seriously distracted by male child singing along passionately to Band of Horses, but any lack of completion here is just par for the dizzy course, natch.

Jussi Jalonen

"I certainly believe that resisting Soviet aggression was a good thing." Hm, well.

That was not how it was phrased, Noel. The statement was "the United States was right to fight and win the Cold War". The sentence implies the United States as taking direct initiative, not merely reacting in resistance to "aggression".

Moreover, it also implies that the eventual victory in the Cold War was due to the said initiative taken by the United States - and that because the outcome was good, also the actions that contributed to it were good. "Right to fight, right to win".

Given certain political manoeuvres orchestrated by the United States in some corners of the world during the Cold War, this makes about as much sense as using the eventual victory over the Third Reich as a justification for all the Soviet actions during the Second World War.

But I digress. Still, given the characteristic American ideological priors, the qualification of "resisting Soviet aggression" as a "good thing" would usually seem to depend on where, when, how and by whom the Soviet aggression was resisted.


J. J.

Noel Maurer

This is, as always, a fascinating digression, Jussi.

I may have changed Prof. Maranto's meaning when I reinterpreted him. All I can say is that your alternate interpretation of the words that the author did use does not, in point of fact, denote a particularly "commonplace" American position ... but that, I think, is your point.

As to the last two paragraphs, however, I'm not sure if you are addressing me or Prof. Maranto. On the assumption that you were addressing me, I have to say that I think you're making a somewhat unfair point.

I happen to think Soviet resistance to Nazi aggression was a good thing. Yet I would be rather taken aback if you read that to mean that I supported, say, the Winter War or the Katyn Massacre.

I also happen to think that American resistance to Soviet aggression was a good thing. I would be similarly taken aback if you read that to mean that I supported, say, the 1954 Guatemalan coup or the 1965 decision to escalate the Vietnam War.

Especially since there wasn't a lot of Soviet aggression being resisted in either case.

In that sense, I don't think that it is necessary to qualify /my/ statement.


Here is an Unfogged thread similarly skeptical of the Maranto op-ed:


Jussi Jalonen

Oh, I was mostly just making a general comment with that middle sentence of "right to fight, right to win". Although it was, as the quote indicated, also intended as a possible address to Maranto.

The thing is, I don't know Maranto well enough. For all I know, he could be one of those chaps who regards the events that you just mentioned as an integral and necessary part of fighting the Cold War, and actually does consider them justified.

If he has openly and consistently expressed those opinions, well, I would not be at all surprised if he has managed to run into trouble, not just in the academic circles and in the United States, but anywhere.

And if that has happened, of course he would be left with the impression that he's a victim of political persecution, no? Because it would be his holy conviction that the United States was "right to fight and right to win", and in his worldview, the Guatemalan coup, the American support of the UNITA, the Contra involvement and whatnot were all necessary prerequisites to the Soviet downfall.

As I said, I don't know Maranto. But if he fits the above description, you may have indeed changed his meaning when you rephrased the words. The simple reason being that you two would have very different viewpoints on how the Cold War was actually, historically, fought and won. Simply put, Maranto might consider the Cold War a bilateral conflict, whereas you might consider it a multilateral conflict.

(Me, I'm a pragmatic. For example, I think that the Cuban involvement in Angola was probably, on balance, beneficial, mainly because the it managed to discredit the USSR and humiliate the South Africa at the same time. And, of course, it introduced baseball to Angola.)

Back to your thoughts, since you phrased your statement the way you did, I am a bit curious when exactly do you think that the United States "resisted Soviet aggression" during the Cold War? The only example that comes to my mind is Korea, and even that was mostly a case of resisting two loose Soviet proxies.

And, as said, there were situations when the United States was, even in its most hawkish mode, less than favourably inclined towards actually resisting Soviet aggression. As I said; where, when, how and by whom.


J. J.

Noel Maurer

I was thinking of some very straightforward events, really, nothing that should surprise you. In fact, I'm a little reluctant to answer, because my answers are either obvious or (as you'll see) incredibly hedged.

American resistance to Soviet aggression? Well, there's quite a bit from the early decade, and in keeping with the cold nature of the Cold War, only Korea involved shooting.

The 1946 confrontation over Iran. The February 1947 decision to take over support for Greece and Turkey from Britain. The meddling in the 1948 Italian election. (Which set a very bad precedent for other places, as any honest observer has to admit.) The 1949 establishment of NATO. The Marshall Plan, broadly speaking. And, as you mention, the Korean War. All of these required the U.S. to expend resources, and all were motivated by the threat (in my opinion, real at the time) of Soviet expansion.

The later Cold War, as you say, can only be viewed as a multilateral conflict. In general, most active and unilateral U.S. efforts to oppose what it perceived as Soviet aggression were, well, at best counterproductive. Guatemala, Guyana, Iran, Vietnam, Angola (did baseball catch on there?) ... a long and painful list.

That is not to say that there are no U.S.-driven anti-Soviet efforts that I am either conflicted or agnostic about. (Beyond the continuing large defense expenditures that constituted the meat of the Cold War, and that I view as astoundingly positive.)

Central American policy in the 1980s would be an example --- I am fairly directly familiar with El Salvador and Nicaragua, at the time and rather later, and I honestly can't decide whether the U.S. role was positive, negative, or neutral. I bounce back-and-forth for two reasons. First, the Sandinistas became Soviet-backed (pardon the following) sons-of-bitches who spit in Jimmy Carter's face (I like Jimmy Carter). I do not honestly do not know what would have happened had Carter and his successors not recognized that the regime had decided to throw its fate in with the "socialist community" with all that entailed. Second, the Salvadorean civil war was a bloody and brutal affair, and the CIA trucked with some unforgiveable characters ... but I cannot shake myself of the strong informed instinct (for it isn't more than that) that the level and length of the violence would have been worse sans American involvement.

Afghan policy at the same time would be a lesser example; I currently tend towards viewing it as a postive.

Finally, I am open-minded about Gaddis's argument that changing Western defense policy was instrumental in aiding Gorbachev's rise to power. (This argument could well be wrong, of course.)



I'm not sure whether you're right or not. On the one hand, the Big Ten is certainly conservative; deeply, deeply conservative (excluding Northwestern and Michigan). OTOH, it exists in the busted out rust belt and relatively close to crazy Jesus territory, so the bigger football schools tend to be more conservative by geography than by design.

OTOH, there's Oregon, which is more liberal than, say, Ohio or Penn State. I'm not sure where I'd rank Stanford. The Hoover Institute is a big negative handicap, but, if we move beyond bowl games and to, say, Olympic medals, if you made Stanford a country, it has a hell of a lot of medals in its own right.

The real problem with the above analysis is, of course, the private universities against the land grants. Though school size does matter in the other directions--most schools have to accept the fairies and the fags, though hostility levels vary, surely. The bigger the football program, the worse the drinking problem, like UVA or BU/BC.

I think I could fake a nice regression line here, but numbers let me lie better than my random jibbering does.

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