Search This Blog

Thursday, December 13, 2018

NPSIA Presentation

Today at noon, I gave a talk on "America First, Canada, and the Prospects for Multilateralism." The room seats 18-20 comfortably and my spouse counted 24 people in the NPSIA (Norman Paterson School of International Affairs) Boardroom. I talked for about 40 minutes and then we had roughly 45 minutes of Q&A.

The audience was mostly students and faculty at NPSIA, though a Fulbright Canada program officer, a former principal analyst on international affairs on Parliament Hill, and at least three people from Global Affairs Canada were also in attendance.

The audience members peppered me with good questions that will help with the writing as I move forward on my project. I have a paper due in March when I attend a conference on "Canadian-US Relations" at Iowa State.

Steve Saideman of NPSIA tweeted about the event and snapped a couple of pictures:

This was not actually my research question, but we did discuss this:

The faculty and staff at NPSIA were terrific hosts and I have really enjoyed my time in Ottawa. I'm grateful to Fulbright Canada and to the many patient and accommodating academics at both Carleton and University of Ottawa.

If you are an IR scholar with some level of interest in Canada's relations with the U S, then I recommend you think about applying for this Fulbright opportunity in the future.

Visit this blog's homepage.

For 280 character IR and foreign policy talk, follow me on twitter.

Or for basketball, baseball, movies or other stuff, follow this personal twitter account.

Friday, December 07, 2018

October events

A few weeks ago, I posted about what I did in September during my Fulbright stint in Ottawa, Ontario. This post will summarize my October.

On the 2nd, I attended a Workshop at Carleton on North America 2.0. A group of scholars have been meeting to write an update of Bob Pastor's 2012 book on The North American Idea: A Vision of a Continental Future. I attended a couple of panels and learned a good deal about current and potential ties linking the US, Canada, and Mexico. Coincidentally, Pastor's book was one of the few books I brought to Canada, so I read it in preparation for the meeting.

Based on my "America First" chapter in the forthcoming Canada-US Relations book (in the series on Canada Among Nations), I gave a presentation in David Carment's Canadian Foreign Policy class. Incidentally, I have submitted revised page proofs already and the book is slated to be published on February 14, 2019. On October 15, I attended a presentation about the new USMCA by Chris Sands, who with Carment edited that book.

On October 26, I attended a very interesting panel at Carleton on "Small Wars, Big Data."  It was part of the Conference of Defence Associations meeting, held on campus during Carleton's week of fall break. On the 31st, I attended a presentation on "The War on Terror Gone Wrong" at University of Ottawa by former Canadian diplomat Daniel Livermore.

For my research project on US-Canadian relations, I met fairly regularly with some local academics, read various public speeches by middle power Foreign Ministers, and tried to gain a better understanding of Canadian perspectives. I learned interesting lessons about the domestic appeal of modest anti-Americanism, the great dependence of Canada on trade with US, and the intense interest in the American midterm elections. I voted in Kentucky by dropping my absentee ballot at the American embassy.

During part of October, I also worked on a revision and resubmitted for journal publication my manuscript “Grappling with Dr. Strangelove’s Wargasm Fantasy,” based on a paper I delivered at the 2016 ISSS/ISAC conference at Notre Dame. Earlier this week, I learned that the paper will be appearing as a journal article in International Studies Review.

During the fall weather, my spouse and I walked all over downtown Ottawa (often with our dog Paddy) -- visiting Parliament Hill, the Byward Market, Lansdowne (for the Farmer's Market), the Rideau Canal, etc. We also drove over the Ottawa River to Quebec on Canadian Thanksgiving and hiked in the beautiful Gatineau Park.

Visit this blog's homepage.

For 280 character IR and foreign policy talk, follow me on twitter.

Or for basketball, baseball, movies or other stuff, follow this personal twitter account.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Multilateralism Project

Monday, I submitted page proofs for a chapter in the forthcoming 2019 volume of  Canada Among Nations, an annual book about Canadian foreign policy to be published by Palgrave. David Carment of Carleton's NPSIA and Chris Sands of Johns Hopkins SAIS are editing the volume, entitled Canada–US Relations; Sovereignty or Shared Institutions?

My chapter (4) focuses on "'America First' and US-Canadian Relations." Though Canada is a primary concern, the paper discusses the threat "America First" poses to multilateralism and the liberal international order. As I've previously noted, President Trump has labeled Canada (and other allies) a threat to U.S. national security in order to impose steel and aluminum tariffs on these states. He also called Prime Minister Justin Trudeau "weak and dishonest" and repeatedly threatens to end NAFTA and bring "ruination" to Canada's economy.

My chapter discusses whether Trump's approach to international relations could be viewed as an especially intense version of realism that fails to recognize the potential virtues of multilateralism. Most of the institutions Trump threatens were built during the Cold War with the intent of aligning states with the US versus the Soviet bloc. Trump demonizes China, and at least one chapter in the new volume focuses on this strategy, but the President does not seem to recognize the potential  value of having allies working with the US to counter what he calls unfair and illegal Chinese trade practices. Every relationship is a transaction for Trump, a deal to be won or lost, and America can only win in his view if all other states lose -- even if that means demonizing long-time blue chip allies like Canada and Germany. Each relationship is ultimately bilateral and there is advantage to be taken.

I'm now working on a followup paper for a workshop on US-Canadian relations cohosted by last year's Carleton Fulbright scholar, James McCormick, at Iowa State in March. Former Library of Parliament International Affairs analyst Gerald Schmitz is the other host. I've been invited to submit that paper for consideration in a special issue of Canadian Foreign Policy Journal focusing on “America First”? Meeting the Challenges of the New Nationalism for Canada and the World.”  Schmitz is also helping to organize a one-day round-table in Ottawa on January 25th on "America First" and the International Order. I'm scheduled to partake via Skype.

For that paper and round-table, I'm expanding my work on multilateralism and looking at the proposals various western leaders are floating to save multilateralism in the wake of America First (and other threats), particularly in the areas of free trade and security.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland has since mid-year 2017 called for "finding ways for like-minded democracies to act on our values and fight for the multilateral order." Though Freeland has urged the U.S. to join in the fight to save multilateralism, in October Canada hosted a meeting to fix and reform the WTO. The government invited about a dozen major trading states (including the EU as a single entity in that list). However, notably, the US was not invited to this "like-minded" summit "because it doesn’t share the views of the 13 invited countries, the new Canadian trade minister says."

German Minister for Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas has been calling for "an alliance of multilateralists" linking states like Japan and Canada. He has openly worried about the U.S. threat to the current order, though he too has invited the U.S. to join with its allies in saving multilateralism.

French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian similarly calls for a coalition of goodwill powers to address major international problems (including climate change). In his view, "Europe should align itself with countries like India, Australia, Mexico and other “powerful democracies” that share a commitment to multilateralism." Le Drian says the coalition should work with or without the U.S.

I'll stop with that list for now, but will end by noting that newly reelected Ohio U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D), who is sometimes mentioned as a 2020 presidential hopeful, was quoted in the Toronto Globe and Mail on November 3 outlining a potential alternative US strategy that would target China in a trade confrontation, but in a way that might fit with the multilateral aspirations of America's long-time allies:
Mr. Brown is trying to thread the needle: He trumpets his support for tariffs – and blasts Mr. Renacci for supporting free-trade deals under previous presidents – but criticizes Mr. Trump’s handling of the trade war. 
“You don’t play off steel workers against farmers, you don’t play off industry against agriculture, and he’s done that,” Mr. Brown said in an interview during a stop at a campaign office in a strip mall in Brunswick, Ohio, south of Cleveland. “You [should] align with our allies – Canada and Western Europe and Japan, maybe – to stop serial cheaters like China. But instead he attacked Chrystia Freeland for what she was doing and your Prime Minister.
That approach could signal a Democratic justification for approving the new USMCA and a broader way forward for the party in 2020 -- a majority of the US population supports multilateralism and free trade (perhaps in polarized response to Trump's America First), but middle class blue collar workers in Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania are likely still vulnerable to protectionist appeals by politicians.

Visit this blog's homepage.

For 280 character IR and foreign policy talk, follow me on twitter.

Or for basketball, baseball, movies or other stuff, follow this personal twitter account.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

September events

I've been in Ottawa for months and have barely blogged about my experiences. If you follow me on twitter, then you have a good idea of some of the things I've done.

This post will note a few September highlights.

I arrived in Ottawa on Labour Day weekend and stayed for the first 10 days at a hotel near the airport. Or near this intersection:

On the 14th-15th, I attended Fulbright Orientation at the Lord Elgin hotel just a few minutes walk from my rental house.  This is the view of Ottawa from my hotel room. The building that looks like a castle is a prominent hotel and the multicolored building is an Arts Center.

The group toured various local sights, including Parliament. The bottom photo was taken from the Peace Tower.

On September 27, I attended an event at the Macdonald Laurier Institute for Public Policy (a Canadian think tank) focusing on Russia's Challenge to North American and European Security. The main speaker was Tom Nichols of the Naval War College.

During the month, my spouse and I also took a brief road trip to Hartford, CT, to visit our youngest daughter, who is working in a theater there. I submitted a book chapter that is now in page proofs (more on that soon), and I worked on a revise and resubmit manuscript for a journal.

Visit this blog's homepage.

For 280 character IR and foreign policy talk, follow me on twitter.

Or for basketball, baseball, movies or other stuff, follow this personal twitter account.

Monday, November 05, 2018

1895 murders


This website from the town briefly mentions the crimes, which occurred December 30, 1895. In my family tree, I've seen McFadden spelled numerous ways, including McFadzean, McFadyn, etc.

Update: I finished the book and now realize that the murder in my family pre-dates the crimes James studies. Since he identifies a suspect based on an alleged initial murder, then it would not appear that this crime was committed by the same killer. However, the crime is very similar to many of the crimes discussed in the book.

Visit this blog's homepage.

For 280 character IR and foreign policy talk, follow me on twitter.

Or for basketball, baseball, movies or other stuff, follow this personal twitter account.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Best Bill Murray Films

Bill James tweeted unfavorably about Caddyshack, which led me to make a list of top Bill Murray films. I agree with him about Caddyshack and question our democracy when I see lists like this one.

That list was made quickly. I would rank all of those films above Caddyshack, but I might not put them in that order. Ghostbusters is perhaps too high. Groundhog Day is a personal all-time fave.

Visit this blog's homepage.

For 280 character IR and foreign policy talk, follow me on twitter.

Or for basketball, baseball, movies or other stuff, follow this personal twitter account.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Canadian Thanksgiving

Last weekend was Thanksgiving weekend in Canada, creating a Monday holiday. That night, we went to the nearby Lieutenant's Pump pub and had a traditional turkey dinner with mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and vegetables. There was some CFL football showing on one television, but I was more interested in the Dodger-Braves game on another. By the time the U.S. holiday rolls around, baseball is a distant memory.

My spouse and I took advantage of the long weekend by going for a hike in Gatineau Park, across the Ottawa River in Quebec. It is Fall Rhapsody season, so we were competing for tranquility with plenty of other tourists enjoying the seasonal changes. We ended up altering our destination on the fly as access to Pink Lake was limited on Monday. We ended up hiking around the MacKenzie-King estate.

This photo was taken after the hike at the Huron Lookout:

The far side of the river is Ontario, with Ottawa to the left.

Visit this blog's homepage.

For 280 character IR and foreign policy talk, follow me on twitter.

Or for basketball, baseball, movies or other stuff, follow this personal twitter account.

Monday, October 01, 2018

Trump and Canada

Though news reports suggest a new NAFTA deal is imminent, President Trump was tough on Canada again this week:
“We’re very unhappy with the negotiations and the negotiating style of Canada – we don’t like their representative very much,” Trump told reporters on Wednesday, in an apparent reference to Canada’s foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland.
Trump also claimed that he turned down a meeting [in NY at the UN] with Justin Trudeau to discuss the prospects of a deal “because [Trudeau’s] tariffs are too high and he doesn’t seem to want to move – and I told him: ‘Forget about it.’”
Canadian officials were quick to deny that Trudeau ever requested a meeting.
I'm posting this a little after midnight, so it is possible that there will be a new trade deal by the time you have read this piece.

In any event, living in Canada, there are strong signs that the feeling is mutual. This is a very strong sign: On Friday September 28, the Globe & Mail Washington columnist John Ibbitson published a piece in my morning paper entitled, "NAFTA nightmare is quickly becoming reality."

In that column (online version September 27), Ibbitson explained that "a resolute Prime Minister [Trudeau] and Foreign Affairs Minister [Freeland] refuse to be cowed by this bully of a president, this predator, this Mussolini wannabe."

I read those words over breakfast Friday!!

Saturday, my spouse and I strolled through the Byward Market on a sunny afternoon and came upon this photo in a bakery, where they were selling "Obama cookies" and playing a video of Obama's visit on a constant loop. Thus, the picture provides a parsimonious explanation of Trump's policy toward Canada:

Visit this blog's homepage.

For 280 character IR and foreign policy talk, follow me on twitter.

Or for basketball, baseball, movies or other stuff, follow this personal twitter account.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Well, there's that other thing that I won't even say...

This seems an appropriate moment to listen to Todd Snider's "You Got Away with It."

Incidentally, this blog is now 15 years old. The teen years have been kind of quiet.

Obviously, the blog was most active during the Bush years. George W. is back in the news lately...

If you are interested in my opinions and web activity, you might try following my much more active professional or personal twitter feeds.

Visit this blog's homepage.

For 280 character IR and foreign policy talk, follow me on twitter.

Or for basketball, baseball, movies or other stuff, follow this personal twitter account.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Louisville Sluggers: 2018A champions

I periodically blog about  my fantasy baseball teams -- mostly when they win a championship or make it to the World Series.

My Louisville Sluggers recently won the 2018 A season of the Original Bitnet Fantasy Baseball League. The league members play a long half season before the All Star break and a shorter half season afterwards. During the break, we make cuts and redraft teams to keep it interesting. This post will not cover my mid-season keepers or draft.

Here's the winning 28 man roster from 2018A (with retained players from 2017 in red):

C:   LuCroy OAK
1B: Votto     CIN
2B: Merrifield KC
3B: Arenado COL
SS: Russell CHC
OF: Benintendi BOS
OF: Peralta ARI
OF: Almora CHC
DH: Muncy LAD

SP: Greinke ARI
SP: Stripling LAD
SP: Bauer CLE
SP: Skaggs LAA
SP: E Rodriguez BOS
RP: Rondon HOU
RP: Bradley ARI
RP: Trivino OAK
RP: Williams MIL

We used daily transactions this season for the first time, so I had a number of substitutes that contributed during the week. Plus, I had a couple of good players who were injured during the playoffs. This was my bench:

C:   Flowers ATL
1B: Pearce BOS
2B: Wong STL
IF: Blandino CIN
OF: Buxton MIN
OF: Acuna ATL
SP: Archer TB
SP: Duffy KC
SP: Romano CIN
RP: Brault PIT

Pre-season, I had also retained OF Kevin Keirmaier TB, but I traded him as part of a deal for LuCroy and Stripling on June 4.

The team went 142-76-22 in the regular season. Remember, this is a 24 team head-to-head league with 2 points possible per category. We use 10 categories including these 5 for hitting: HR, SBs, batting average, plate appearances, and runs produced ((R+RBI-HR)/at bats). For pitching, we use these 5 categories: innings pitched, wins, saves, ERA and WHIP. For ties, each team gets one points.

For winning percentage, figure the Sluggers went 153-87, or 0.637. Or the equivalent of 77-44 if that makes it easier.

In the first round of the playoffs, my team beat the Loaded Basses, a young and talented team that was 146-80-14 in the regular season, or 153-87. The Basses roster included stars Mookie Betts, Javy Baez, Alex Bregman, Christian Yelich, Yoan Moncada, Juan Soto, and Garrett Cole. The Sluggers and Basses were the 2nd and 3rd seeded teams in the playoffs with identical records.

Sluggers won that matchup 14-6.

In the World Series, the Sluggers beat the top-seeded Tennessee Valley Authority, a very strong pitching-rich team featuring Trea Turner, Justin Upton, Carlos Carrasco, Chris Sale, Luis Severino, and Craig Kimbrel. TVA was 150-76-14 during the regular season, or 157-83 (0.654). 

This was the Sluggers 9th World Series championship in 12 appearances in the final. TVA fell to 6-2 in the Series. The league has now had 55 seasons of history.

Visit this blog's homepage.

For 280 character IR and foreign policy talk, follow me on twitter.

Or for basketball, baseball, movies or other stuff, follow this personal twitter account.

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Oh Canada

If you've been following the news the past month, you know that Canada hosted the annual G7 meeting and it ended with President Donald Trump bashing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after watching a speech on Air Force One. Trump called Trudeau "dishonest and weak."

Going into the meeting, Trump had already levied new tariffs against Canadian steel and aluminum. In order to justify the use of presidential power to apply the tariffs, Trump had to label Canada a threat to national security.  Remember, the US Constitution gives Congress the power "To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations."

Canadians were surprised, puzzled, and perhaps even angered by the justification for these tariffs, so the meeting was bound to be somewhat tense. Canadian Foreign Minister Chyrstia Freeland called the tariffs "absurd," "unjustified" and "illegal." Canada has imposed retaliatory tariffs that went into effect on July 1. Items now facing higher import taxes include beer kegs, whisky, orange juice, and various metals. 

Last week, I flew to DC to attend a workshop at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) on Canada-US relations. Scholars at Carleton University in Canada annually produce a volume for a series called "Canada Among Nations."  The theme for the newest volume is Canada-US relations and I've been asked to contribute a chapter. Many Canadian scholars were there, including a number of faculty from Carleton, and a few other Americans.

My presentation was on the morning's initial panel: "'America First' and US-Canadian Relations." As you might suspect given my past research and writing on Trump's foreign policies, I argue that the Trump agenda is a threat to multilateralism, alliances (including NATO), and the liberal world order. Canada values all of those institutions, as has the US most of the time since World War II.

Indeed, last September, I proposed this precise research topic for a Fulbright position in Canada...and I got it! This fall, I will be Fulbright Canada Research Chair in Canada-US Relations at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University in Ottawa.

Visit this blog's homepage.

For 280 character IR and foreign policy talk, follow me on twitter.

Or for basketball, baseball, movies or other stuff, follow this personal twitter account.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

May travel

In late May, I attended an academic workshop on "Non-Nuclear Peace" at University of Antwerp in Belgium. My paper was well-received and I look forward to the volume that emerges. More on that later.

My spouse and I visited Dublin the weekend prior to the workshop and then remained in Antwerp for the long Memorial  Day weekend afterwards.

In Dublin, we visited a park near one of Oscar Wilde's homes. It has an interesting and unusual statue of the writer. Some of the public art in Dublin more solemnly acknowledges the history of famine in the country:

We also visited the Kilmainham Gaol (across the street from our Hilton) and took in some other nearby local culture:

Peter Paul Rubens is the most famous artist from Antwerp. We visited his former home, which is now a museum hosting a collection of his art. The statue is nearby, but outdoors:

Belgium, of course, is also known for its beers. The Bier Central bar across the street from the hotel near the train station featured this 120 page catalog of beers on offer. I think all were local. The Hopus was actually my final beer at the Brussels airport. Each beer seemed to have its own glass:

Incidentally, prior to traveling to Dublin, we attended my youngest daughter's college graduation, which was held in Yankee Stadium.

Do you recognize the featured speaker?

Visit this blog's homepage.

For 280 character IR and foreign policy talk, follow me on twitter.

Or for basketball, baseball, movies or other stuff, follow this personal twitter account.

Saturday, April 28, 2018


Last night, my wife and I went to the Mavericks show at the Iroquois Amphitheater. The 9-piece band sounded terrific and it was a beautiful night for outdoor music. The band included not only standard guitarist, drummers, and keyboard musicians, but also men who played the accordion, sax, upright bass, and two trumpets. Two!

Singer Raul Malo is very talented. Back in the day, he could have replaced the lead singer of virtually any given Americana or alt-country band -- and improved their sound.

Strangely, despite these strengths, the entire top section of the venue was nearly empty. This could have been because Louisville is a week out from the Kentucky Derby and there are many competing events all over town.  Yet, I suspect the Maverick's history and set list played a part.

The band was at its peak in the 1990s, so their fans are starting to age out of concerts. The crowd was definitely old for a rock show and few people were singing along with the songs -- very different from how the crowd behaved at the Old Crow Medicine Show performance we attended last year in the same venue. Granted, OCMS was performing Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde, but the crowd knew the band's songs too when they eventually played some hits.

Trampoline, which may be the Maverick's best recording, was released 20 years ago. Within a few years of that recording, the band took a hiatus for about 7 years. Raul Malo had a solo career and sang as part of Los Super Seven. Oh, yes, I have their fantastic Heard it on the X CD -- but all these facts likely made it tough for the Mavericks to sustain a fan base.

The band's set list was kind of strange as well. They apparently had some top 40 (country) hits back in their heyday, but I'm not sure they had a specific single that everyone knows and associates with the band. I recognized most of the songs last night, but I have three of their CDs and am a fan.

The crowd did know (and sing along with) the handful of covers the Mavericks played -- including songs written or made famous by Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Neil Young, the BeeGees and the Drifters. See this, this, this, this, and this. These songs tended to highlight Malo's voice and some were played acoustically with minimal backing from the rest of the band.

Prior to the show, I talked to a number of people who were unfamiliar with the Maverick's music, so I started thinking about how to describe their eclectic sound. I finally ended up with Roy Orbison meets the Buena Vista Social Club. Los Lobos might have sounded like the Mavericks if they had been from Miami instead of LA.

So, about those empty seats: What a Crying Shame! 

Visit this blog's homepage.

For 280 character IR and foreign policy talk, follow me on twitter.

Or for basketball, baseball, movies or other stuff, follow this personal twitter account.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Rock Chalk, Jayhawk!

University of Kansas basketball fans (me included, of course) are excited that this year's team has made the Final Four of the NCAA tournament. For KU, this is a familiar spot. Per Wikipedia, Kansas has previously participated in the Final Four in these years: 1940, 1952, 1953, 1957, 1971, 1974, 1986, 1988, 1991, 1993, 2002, 2003, 2008, and 2012. I started watching Kansas basketball around 1970, which means they've made the Final Four about once every five years during my lifetime as a fan. None of those appearances occured during my four years at Kansas, 1979-1983.

Kansas won the NCAA tournament in 1952, 1988, and 2008, but the school also claims two "mythical" championships from the era prior to the NCAA tournament: 1922 and 1923 (the "Helms championship"). Since the Jayhawk is a mythical bird, rest assured that many other schools count mythical championships awarded by the Helms Athletic Foundation, including Purdue and Stanford.

Meanwhile, University of Kansas students also have a strong history participating in the intercollegiate National Debate Tournament (NDT). Indeed, late Monday March26, the team of seniors Quaram Robinson and Will Katz won the 2018 national championship. This was the sixth time a team from Kansas had achieved this feat, having previously won the NDT in 1954, 1970, 1976, 1983, and 2009. Yes, I was on campus for the 1983 title.

Here's a picture of the latest winners:

Congratulations to these students!! I attended the 2017 NDT in Kansas City last year and met both of them during a reunion hosted by KU. Their accomplishment is truly impressive and undoubtedly reflects a tremendous amount of hard work. Congrats also to coach Scott Harris!

Incidentally, this was the 16th time a Kansas team had been in the Final Four of the NDT: 1948, 1954, 1959, 1970 (2 teams*), 1971, 1973, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1983, 1994, 1999, 2009, 2016, and 2018. The NDT allowed 2 teams per school for many years. It now allows three.

So, it appears 1971 was the only other year Kansas had teams in the Final Four of both basketball and debate. It's a rarity that should be celebrated. More on 1971 below.

Even more rare would be a double victory. The NDT has been won 15 times by Northwestern, 7 times by Harvard, and 6 times by Dartmouth. Neither Northwestern nor Harvard has ever appeared in the NCAA Final Four. Dartmouth did twice, in 1942 and 1944, but lost in the championship game both times. Those appearances occurred before the NDT existed.

Thus, my quick perusal of the list of past winners of these tournaments yields these findings:

In 1962, Ohio State won the NDT, but lost the NCAA tournament championship game.
In 1989, Michigan won the NCAA tournament, but finished 2nd at the NDT.
In 2000, Michigan State won the NCAA tournament, but finished 2nd at the NDT.

Based on my quick perusal, it appears UCLA in 1971 is the only school to win both tournaments in the same year.

Kansas has an opportunity to duplicate that feat this weekend. Rock Chalk!

Visit this blog's homepage.

For 280 character IR and foreign policy talk, follow me on twitter.

Or for basketball, baseball, movies or other stuff, follow this personal twitter account.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Snow day

The region was socked with about 7 inches of snow last night. The public schools and University of Louisville were both closed. This morning, I tweeted this photo of our back deck -- look at the depth of the snow piled on the railing:

This afternoon, I tweeted a picture of Jim Patterson Stadium as it never is on March 21:

Visit this blog's homepage.

For 280 character IR and foreign policy talk, follow me on twitter.

Or for basketball, baseball, movies or other stuff, follow this personal twitter account.

Monday, March 12, 2018


In December 2016, our dog Robey (nickname for Darrowby), was diagnosed with bladder cancer. The veterinarian noted that he was in good spirits and fairly good health, but that the prognosis was likely 6 to 18 months of remaining life. Given his age and the nature of the disease, surgery or other potential treatments did not seem like good options.

It's been 15 months since that initial diagnosis and Robey's health has definitely declined. He's much thinner now -- partly a result of the flu bug he and his sister Paddy contracted last summer at the kennel. There was a particularly horrible day in the first week of their quarantine when I feared he would not survive the flu. However, an emergency trip to the veterinary hospital provided an infusion of fluids and drugs that helped him turn the corner and recover much of his strength. His sister recovered much more quickly from the illness and is now far more energetic and healthy.

For the last few months, we've battled his occasional mild incontinence with a male doggie wrap lined with baby diapers. His mood has been good and I think he really enjoyed recent visits from our two daughters.

Sadly, the last two weeks, Robey has shown much less enthusiasm for his daily walk. About 10 to 12 days ago, he walked very slowly several steps behind me as his sister Paddy charged ahead as she almost always does. He has repeated that lethargic behavior on several other walks since then. Yesterday, my wife cut the walk short for him and I took his sister for a longer stroll around the neighborhood. He was walking so slowly that we caught up before they made it back home.

Robey has also stopped eating regularly -- effectively skipping breakfast on most mornings the last week or so and sometimes barely touching dinner. Twice in the last few days we have served him canned dog food at night, which he really enjoys and he has quickly consumed it mixed with the typical dry food. The past few days, however, he has had trouble keeping any food he consumes down. This morning, he vomited his medicines and it was obvious that last night's dinner had not been digested.

Twice over the weekend, he remained indoors behind the dog door when I parked the car in the garage in the alley and entered the backyard from there. Paddy was outside at the garage door to greet me, as she always is, but her brother clearly decided to continue resting indoors on the floor 75 feet away.

In sum, Robey is ticking all the boxes for a dog near the end of his life. He has been a great dog and we're going to miss him very much when he's gone. This is a photo from this morning -- after a freak March snow shower in Louisville last night:

Update: Robey stopped going on walks and stopped eating. RIP old friend.
~ July 4, 2005 to March 16, 2018.

Visit this blog's homepage.

For 280 character IR and foreign policy talk, follow me on twitter.

Or for basketball, baseball, movies or other stuff, follow this personal twitter account.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Trump on War: Korea edition

I'm compiling some statements and tweets from President Donald Trump concerning various alleged threats to US (or international) security.

This post focuses on North Korea. I may add to it as I find additional material. Note: I'm not currently compiling all the stories based on leaked reports, which claim the administration has seriously considered war with North Korea. The administration withdrew its choice for ambassador to South Korea, reportedly, because he was opposed to so-called "bloody nose" strikes against North Korea.

This is from Trump's remarks prior to a briefing on the Opioid crisis, August 8, 2017:
Q    Any comment on the reports about North Korea’s nuclear capabilities? 
THE PRESIDENT:  North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States.  They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.  He has been very threatening beyond a normal state.  And as I said, they will be met with fire, fury, and, frankly, power, the likes of which this world has never seen before.

More from Trump's speech to the UN on September 19, 2017:
North Korea’s reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles threatens the entire world with unthinkable loss of human life. 
It is an outrage that some nations would not only trade with such a regime, but would arm, supply, and financially support a country that imperils the world with nuclear conflict.  No nation on earth has an interest in seeing this band of criminals arm itself with nuclear weapons and missiles. 
The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.  Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.  The United States is ready, willing and able, but hopefully this will not be necessary.  That’s what the United Nations is all about; that’s what the United Nations is for.  Let’s see how they do 
It is time for North Korea to realize that the denuclearization is its only acceptable future.  The United Nations Security Council recently held two unanimous 15-0 votes adopting hard-hitting resolutions against North Korea, and I want to thank China and Russia for joining the vote to impose sanctions, along with all of the other members of the Security Council.  Thank you to all involved. 
But we must do much more.  It is time for all nations to work together to isolate the Kim regime until it ceases its hostile behavior.
The President spoke in Seoul, South Korea on November 7, 2017. The speech sounded much like the ones George W. Bush used to give about Iraq back in 2002. This is a long excerpt, but it is telling:
The North Korean regime has pursued its nuclear and ballistic missile programs in defiance of every assurance, agreement, and commitment it has made to the United States and its allies. It’s broken all of those commitments. After promising to freeze its plutonium program in 1994, it repeated [reaped] the benefits of the deal and then — and then immediately continued its illicit nuclear activities. 
In 2005, after years of diplomacy, the dictatorship agreed to ultimately abandon its nuclear programs and return to the Treaty on Non-Proliferation. But it never did. And worse, it tested the very weapons it said it was going to give up. In 2009, the United States gave negotiations yet another chance, and offered North Korea the open hand of engagement. The regime responded by sinking a South Korean Navy ship, killing 46 Korean sailors. To this day, it continues to launch missiles over the sovereign territory of Japan and all other neighbors, test nuclear devices, and develop ICBMs to threaten the United States itself. The regime has interpreted America’s past restraint as weakness. This would be a fatal miscalculation. This is a very different administration than the United States has had in the past. 
Today, I hope I speak not only for our countries, but for all civilized nations, when I say to the North: Do not underestimate us, and do not try us. We will defend our common security, our shared prosperity, and our sacred liberty. 
We did not choose to draw here, on this peninsula — (applause) — this magnificent peninsula — the thin line of civilization that runs around the world and down through time. But here it was drawn, and here it remains to this day. It is the line between peace and war, between decency and depravity, between law and tyranny, between hope and total despair. It is a line that has been drawn many times, in many places, throughout history. To hold that line is a choice free nations have always had to make. We have learned together the high cost of weakness and the high stakes of its defense.
America’s men and women in uniform have given their lives in the fight against Nazism, imperialism, Communism and terrorism. 
America does not seek conflict or confrontation, but we will never run from it. History is filled with discarded regimes that have foolishly tested America’s resolve. 
Anyone who doubts the strength or determination of the United States should look to our past, and you will doubt it no longer. We will not permit America or our allies to be blackmailed or attacked. We will not allow American cities to be threatened with destruction. We will not be intimidated. And we will not let the worst atrocities in history be repeated here, on this ground, we fought and died so hard to secure. (Applause.) 
That is why I have come here, to the heart of a free and flourishing Korea, with a message for the peace-loving nations of the world: The time for excuses is over. Now is the time for strength. If you want peace, you must stand strong at all times. (Applause.) The world cannot tolerate the menace of a rogue regime that threatens with nuclear devastation. 
All responsible nations must join forces to isolate the brutal regime of North Korea — to deny it and any form — any form of it. You cannot support, you cannot supply, you cannot accept. We call on every nation, including China and Russia, to fully implement U.N. Security Council resolutions, downgrade diplomatic relations with the regime, and sever all ties of trade and technology. 
It is our responsibility and our duty to confront this danger together — because the longer we wait, the greater the danger grows, and the fewer the options become. (Applause.) And to those nations that choose to ignore this threat, or, worse still, to enable it, the weight of this crisis is on your conscience. 
I also have come here to this peninsula to deliver a message directly to the leader of the North Korean dictatorship: The weapons you are acquiring are not making you safer. They are putting your regime in grave danger. Every step you take down this dark path increases the peril you face.
And Trump's State of the Union address on January 30, 2018:
North Korea’s reckless pursuit of nuclear missiles could very soon threaten our homeland.
We are waging a campaign of maximum pressure to prevent that from happening.
Past experience has taught us that complacency and concessions only invite aggression and provocation.  I will not repeat the mistakes of past administrations that got us into this dangerous position.
We need only look at the depraved character of the North Korean regime to understand the nature of the nuclear threat it could pose to America and our allies.
Otto Warmbier was a hardworking student at the University of Virginia.  On his way to study abroad in Asia, Otto joined a tour to North Korea.  At its conclusion, this wonderful young man was arrested and charged with crimes against the state.  After a shameful trial, the dictatorship sentenced Otto to 15 years of hard labor, before returning him to America last June — horribly injured and on the verge of death.  He passed away just days after his return. 
Otto’s Parents, Fred and Cindy Warmbier, are with us tonight — along with Otto’s brother and sister, Austin and Greta.  You are powerful witnesses to a menace that threatens our world, and your strength inspires us all.  Tonight, we pledge to honor Otto’s memory with American resolve.
Some key tweets, arranged chronologically:

Visit this blog's homepage.

For 140 character IR and foreign policy talk, follow me on twitter.

Or for basketball, baseball, movies or other stuff, follow this personal twitter account.

Friday, March 02, 2018

Oscars for 2017 Films

Rialto Theatre, Edmonton
Source: Provincial Archives of Alberta
The Academy Award ceremonies are Sunday night and my wife and I have again been spending some of our leisure time viewing nominated films and acting performances. Regular readers may recall that we actually managed to see three of the films nominated for best picture during the 2017 calendar year. That was partly because two nominees were out in the summer and were not year-end releases. Still, thanks to various bad weather days in January, we saw six of the nine best picture films prior to the announcement of the Oscars -- all of them in the theater except for one of the early-year movies!

Even though I have seen a fairly good sample of the films and performances, I will as usual update this post as we watch more of these films. Note for future readers: Films and performances shaded in yellow below will indicate additions/edits after the Oscars are awarded (and the original blog posting).

Moreover, as I do each year, I'm going to rank-order the films and acting performances. Obviously, this is my completely subjective perspective -- and hardly an ideal way to think about art. Plus, obviously, I can only rank the performances I watched.

Keep in mind that these are not my predictions about winners in each category. Go to the Hollywood Stock Exchange or other sites if you want predictions based upon betting markets. Spoiler Alert: The Shape of Water is a slight favorite for Best Picture and its director (Guillermo Del Toro) seems to be one of the biggest favorites in a major category.  In other categories, Darkest Hour star Gary Oldman and Three Billboards star Frances McDormand are strongly favored to pick up best acting awards. Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards) and Allison Janney (I, Tonya) are also now highly favored in the supporting roles.

Best picture

The Shape of Water **
Lady Bird **
The Post **
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri **
Dunkirk **
Get Out
Darkest Hour **

Call Me by Your Name
Phantom Thread

Comment: I would have put "I, Tonya" in this category as it was an excellent film. My oldest daughter saw "Call Me By Your Name" and really liked it. My spouse and I think "Phantom Thread" looks like a rental at home.

Best director

I saw four of these films prior to the Oscar announcements:

“Dunkirk,” Christopher Nolan **
“Get Out,” Jordan Peele
“Lady Bird,” Greta Gerwig **
“The Shape of Water,” Guillermo del Toro **

“Phantom Thread,” Paul Thomas Anderson

Best actor in a Leading Role

Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour” **
Daniel Kaluuya, “Get Out”

Timothée Chalamet, “Call Me by Your Name”
Daniel Day-Lewis, “Phantom Thread”
Denzel Washington, “Roman J. Israel, Esq.”

Comment: This actually seems like a weak crop compared to the women. Day-Lewis and Washington are frequent contenders in this category, but neither of their 2017 films made a big splash. Washington's film is on DVD, but we watched "The Florida Project" and "Mudbound" when facing the choice recently.

Best actress in a Leading Role

Remarkable, especially when compared to last year, I also all of these performances prior to the Oscar announcements! This is one tough category as I could see a case for any of these women:

Sally Hawkins, “The Shape of Water” **
Frances McDormand, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” **
Saoirse Ronan, “Lady Bird” **
Margot Robbie, “I, Tonya” **
Meryl Streep, “The Post” **

I'd probably vote for Hawkins because she gave a remarkable and fearless performance that included very little dialogue. Yet, I knew exactly what she was communicating at all times.  McDormand was very good, even excellent, but she's virtually always very good. She won an Oscar for "Fargo" in 1996.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Sam Rockwell, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” **
Richard Jenkins, “The Shape of Water” **
Woody Harrelson, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” **
Willem Dafoe, “The Florida Project”

Christopher Plummer, “All the Money in the World”

I'm not sure about how well Rockwell's character was written, but he was excellent in his performance. Harrelson and Jenkins were also very good, as was Dafoe. This is a strong category.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Allison Janney, “I, Tonya” **
Laurie Metcalf, “Lady Bird” **
Octavia Spencer, “The Shape of Water” **
Mary J. Blige, “Mudbound”

Lesley Manville, “Phantom Thread”

Both Janney and Metcalf were fantastic playing mothers of young women coming-of-age. After seeing "Lady Bird," I was convinced Metcalf was a lock for this award. Then, I saw "I, Tonya." Wow.

Best Documentary Feature

I failed to see any of these before the Oscars:

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail
Faces Places
Last Men in Aleppo
Strong Island

Comment: Netflix had Icarus, Last Men in Aleppo, and Strong Island available to stream prior to the Oscars and Abacus is on Amazon Prime. This is a category that I should have given more attention weeks ago.

Best Foreign Language Film

And I haven't seen these and none seem to be streaming for free on Netflix, Hulu, or Prime:

“A Fantastic Woman” (Chile)
“The Insult” (Lebanon)
“Loveless” (Russia)
“On Body and Soul (Hungary)
“The Square” (Sweden)

** I saw these films or performances in the theater.

Visit this blog's homepage.

For 140 character IR and foreign policy talk, follow me on twitter.

Or for basketball, baseball, movies or other stuff, follow this personal twitter account.