The ‘Terror Threat’ in the USA is a Myth

This is a wee bit off topic for F&V, though I do have a “peace and war” block, so it’s not totally unprecedented to venture into this thicket.

If you have not read John Mueller’s “Is there still a terror threat?” in the current Foreign Affairs, it is about time you did! (That link probably works only from a university or other subscriber portal; if you do not have such access, the journal itself is very widely available in those old-fashioned structures called bookstores and libraries.)

This is the abstract:

Despite all the ominous warnings of wily terrorists and imminent attacks, there has been neither a successful strike nor a close call in the United States since 9/11. The reasonable — but rarely heard — explanation is that there are no terrorists within the United States, and few have the means or the inclination to strike from abroad.

And the article ends with a little perspective:

it is worth remembering that the total number of people killed since 9/11 by al Qaeda or al Qaeda­like operatives outside of Afghanistan and Iraq is not much higher than the number who drown in bathtubs in the United States in a single year, and that the lifetime chance of an American being killed by international terrorism is about one in 80,000 — about the same chance of being killed by a comet or a meteor. Even if there were a 9/11-scale attack every three months for the next five years, the likelihood that an individual American would number among the dead would be two hundredths of a percent (or one in 5,000).

Too bad there are no votes to be won by promising to protect people from dangerous bathtubs.

“Insane and Monstrous”

What we did was insane and monstrous, we covered entire towns in cluster bombs…”

These are the words of the head of an IDF rocket unit in the recent Israeli war in Lebanon. He also describes the use of incendiary phosphorous shells on towns, and the firing from Multiple Launch Rocket System platforms that were known to be highly inaccurate–a margin of error of up to 1,200 meters.

So much for the claims of “proportionate” force and “precision” targeting.

The roots of Israel’s strategic unpreparedness

From an essay by Gershon Baskin in the Jerusalem Times, republished at the Meretz USA blog:

The problem’s roots can be found in the policies that were developed and implemented in the days of Chief of Staff Ehud Barak (1991-1995). Barak’s concept, mirroring what he saw in the United States following the first Gulf war was that Israel needed a small, intelligent and sophisticated fighting force. Translating that concept into policy and planning meant investing huge sums first and foremost in the air force, in modern technologies, and in scaling down the reserve forces, depending on elite units of the regular army. Since 1991, Israel invested the major parts of its military budgets into these areas and scaled down the dependence on ground infantry units. The overall dependence of Israel on the air force during the beginning of this war was not because the Chief of Staff came from the air force, but because that was the entire military concept of the IDF since Barak’s time. This concept is good perhaps for the United States when it attacked Kosovo, or even when they launched the attack against the Saddam Hussein regime, but is it the right concept for Israel? Perhaps, if Israel had to go to war against another army it would be right, but it appeared to the quite wrong regarding a war against a guerilla fighting force.

This gives the US too much credit for its own reliance on air power. In Kosova, the US military had a guerrilla army on the ground on its side (and was indeed fighting an adversary that was a state). And in Iraq, the strategy was woefully unprepared for dealing with the inevitable emergence of the post-Hussein resistance. We could probably tell a similar story of strategy unprepared for the situation encountered in Afghanistan.

The post is one of a series at Meretz USA on the aftermath of the recent fighting.

It was an existential threat, right?

Yeah, right.

When [Defense Minister Amir] Peretz took office four months ago, Hezbollah and the missile threat were at the bottom of the priority list senior IDF officers presented him, Peretz says.

In private conversations over the past few days, Peretz said officers did not tell him there was a strategic threat to Israel, and did not present him with all relevant information about the missile threat.

From a Haaretz story, mostly about opposition calls for a full commission of inquiry (and it would be no insiders-investigating-themselves commisson like the 9/11 Commission) into the political as well as military dimensions of this war.

UPDATE: As often happens, Chris forces me to think this through more!

Israeli post-war government-change scenarios

Over at The Head Heeb, I suggested that “stable” was hardly the word to use to describe the Israeli cabinet after the inconclusive war against Hezbollah. While I would expect muddling through because the various parties would be uncertain about the outcome of a no-confidence vote, I also wondered whether the bare majority that formed this government around Ariel Sharon’s “convergence” was still present now, and whether some of the ex-Likudniks who followed Sharon into Kadima would prefer to be back with Likud (either by defecting to that party or bringing Likud into a revamped coalition).

Jonathan took the time for a very thoughtful and detailed reply in his comment thread. I recommend it highly. It is in his post from 10 August, “A Plan for a Non-Defeat.” There are no direct comment permalinks at THH, but his response was posted on 15 August at 07:34 PM (and my comment was at 06:45).

In the response, Jonathan suggests that there are thee ways the current government might be replaced:

    1. New election;
    2. Right-religious bloc invokes “the rule of 61”;
    3. A “palace coup” within the coalition.

I think Jonathan is absolutely right that a new election is unlikely. For one thing, Kadima would expect devastating electoral retribution if a vote happened soon. Labor would also see its seat total reduced by a new election, and even “Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu would have to measure their strength against each other.” (Remember, YB nearly passed Likud as the dominant party on the right in the last election.)

Jonathan:

The “rule of 61” is possible, but I don’t think it’s likely. In order for this to happen, either (1) 11 Kadima MKs would have to defect and Shas would have to put aside its dislike of Bibi [Netanyahu], or (2) the right would have to pull a wild card by reaching out to Avoda [Labor]. I can imagine some Kadima MKs defecting, but I think the odds are against 11 doing so (especially since Bibi and/or Lieberman [of YB] won’t have enough portfolios to buy them all), and I doubt that the right would approach Avoda or that the latter would accept.

So, what about the palace coup, replacing Ehud Olmert in the PM’s chair with Tzipi Livni or another leader of Kadima? It could happen, perhaps as a means for Kadima to reach out to Likud and UTJ for a center-right government, or even leaving the present coalition otherwise intact.

My own (though always subject to revision) take on the situation is that, while there may have been some short-term military gains against the heavier weaponry of Hezbollah, overall this was just short of a debacle for Israel. Little gained at much cost (including internal cost, which is more politically relevant than the havoc rained down on the state, economy, and population of Lebanon, which was not even really a party to the conflict.) However, I learned long ago not to try to engage in predictions of Israeli interparty politics, so I’ll leave it at that for now. As Jonthan concludes, the sitiation is very fluid, and much depends on how well the withdrawal from Lebanon goes over the next few weeks or more.

UPDATE: Jonathan has revised and extended his remarks in a front-page post at THH. In response to one of his commentators, he asks a very pertinent question:

has anyone figured out how to handle a Kadima leadership challenge if one develops? Are the necessary party structures and procedural rules even in place?

Good question, in that the succession from Sharon to Olmert was pretty much a closely held move by Sharon’s circle (and Olmert was already his deputy). The party is anything but institutionalized, unless something has changed recently. Given how, er, eventful, the party’s short period in power had been, it seems unlikely they have clear rules in place for how a leadership challenge would go forward (pun intended).

Hezbollah and the plane plot linked–hardly

Hardly a surprise that Bush would seek to link the plot against planes flying between the USA and UK to his various wars and the Israel-Hezbollah war (which, in the specific way it was fought until the very end–if it has reached an end–was effectively another Bush war of bombardment against “terrorists,” broadly defined). Bush said:

The terrorists attempt to bring down airplanes full of innocent men, women, and children… They kill civilians and American servicemen in Iraq and Afghanistan, and they deliberately hide behind civilians in Lebanon. They are seeking to spread their totalitarian ideology.

It may be good excite-the-base politics, and it may retain some wavering scared swing voters.* But the attempt to weave these events together just doesn’t work. The UK plane plot was thwarted by police and intelligence work, not by the wards in Afghanistan, Iraq, or Lebanon.

As for they–i.e. terrorists– “kill[ing] … servicemen,” by definition that is not true. Tzipi Livni, Israel’s foreign minister (and a former Likudnik who followed Ariel Sharon into Kadima) had it right:

“Somebody who is fighting against Israeli soldiers is an enemy and we will fight back, but I believe that this is not under the definition of terrorism, if the target is a soldier,” Livni said in an interview [on ABC’s Nightline in March…]

Government officials said that Livni was trying to make a distinction, and believed that the international community should make a similar distinction, between terrorism and fighting enemy combatants.

But it so much simpler and more satisfying to call it all a WAR ON TERROR, isn’t it?


* On this, see Political Arithmetik’s analysis of a recent CBS poll, in which we learn the following about “independents”:

29% approve of [Bush’s] overall job performance, but 50% approve of his handling of terrorism. Disapprovals are 62% overall but only 43% for terrorism.

Crossing the Litani? Israeli domestic politics, Olmert’s failings, and the war

Earlier I noted the disagreements between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz over the scope of ground operations. On 9 August, as an expanded ground operation seemed to be drawing close, the Jerusalem Post noted:

So the IDF appears to be finally getting what officers admit they should have asked for from early in this operation – when it became clear that Hizbullah could not be defeated by non-stop airstrikes. The man to thank for the shift, it is said, is Defense Minister Amir Peretz who, for the first time since this war began, seems to be setting the national agenda.

It was Peretz who last Thursday ordered the IDF to begin preparing for a push to the Litani, sparking harsh criticism from some politicians across the spectrum. Today, however, that has changed. Almost everyone, including Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, has lined up behind the defense minister and his conquering-the-Litani plan.

As diplomacy drags on, does this newfound unity at the pinnacle of the Israeli cabinet on tactics mean that the government is playing a smart strategy (perhaps for the first time since this current war began)? That is, was the vote to authorize a major ground offensive, and then to hold off on its immediate implementation, a means to focus the negotiations at the UN on terms more acceptable to Israel? Israel’s key demand is that the Lebanese army must be supported by an international force with “operational capabilities.”

Kadima MK Otniel Schneller met Olmert Thursday and quoted him as saying that “a new proposal is being drafted, which has positive significance that may bring the war to an end. But if the draft is not accepted, there is the Cabinet decision.”

Today, there seem to be signs that the tactic of mobilizing for the ground war may be working, but will it be enough to produce a result, short of full invasion, that is acceptable to Israel? A UN resolution has been agreed by France and the USA, “amid indications that Israel might be willing to accept the draft even though it makes a key concession to Lebanon.”

As for the decision on the ground war, the vote by the Israeli security cabinet was 9-0, with three abstentions.

Vice Prime Minister Shimon Peres (Kadima), Culture and Sport Minister Ophir Paz-Pines (Labor), and Industry and Trade Minister Eli Yishai (Shas) cast the abstaining ballots.

Yishai said after the meeting that he thought the IDF should hit at Lebanese infrastructure and bombard villages from which Katyusha firing on Israel was emanating before sending in more ground troops.

Paz-Pines has consistently voted against expanding the operation since the fighting began, and Peres expressed concern in the meeting that expanding the operation would hinder diplomatic efforts aimed at bringing about a significant change in Lebanon’s political reality.

Tension within the cabinet on such a critical issue is a good thing in and of itself–contrast that with the lack of pluralism within Bush’s war-planning cabal. But in this case, the mix of international and internal pressures yielded an immediate action–massive aerial bombardment –that effectively delayed the initiation of the only action that was ever realistic for either defeating Hizbullah or forcing an active international role. (And yet Yishai remains wedded to the initial strategy, as if Israel’s destroying yet more infrastructure somehow will produce an outcome consistent with Israeli demands.)

Was the cabinet incapable of agreeing on a major ground offensive initially? Or was there actually a consensus that Olmert’s “shock and awe” would somehow cause either Hizbullah to yield, or force Lebanon’s army and the UN to come to the rescue without sacrificing–or at least signalling a clear readiness to sacrifice–large numbers of Israeli soldiers? I have no idea. But it is clear that internal criticism has grown. The criticism includes an essay by columnist Ari Shavit, who writes for a leading Israeli newspaper, Haaretz. Shavri says today that “Olmert cannot remain in the prime minister’s office.” The piece begins begins with a stinger:

Ehud Olmert may decide to accept the French proposal for a cease-fire and unconditional surrender to Hezbollah. That is his privilege. Olmert is a prime minister whom journalists invented, journalists protected, and whose rule journalists preserved.

[…]

However, one thing should be clear: If Olmert runs away now from the war he initiated, he will not be able to remain prime minister for even one more day. Chutzpah has its limits.

In other words, Shavit’s position is that the ground offensive should go forward regardless of the then-current UN draft. And some of his criticism is indeed tactical:

There is no mistake Ehud Olmert did not make this past month. He went to war hastily, without properly gauging the outcome. He blindly followed the military without asking the necessary questions. He mistakenly gambled on air operations, was strangely late with the ground operation, and failed to implement the army’s original plan, much more daring and sophisticated than that which was implemented.

Perhaps rising internal opposition to the tactics was a precondition for Israel’s government taking the serious steps for the ground war that it should have taken on 12 July–that is, if it was to do anything at all other than perhaps very limited reprisals for the taking of the soldiers across the northern border. If this internal opposition is what it took to do the right thing, then Israeli democracy worked. Whether it worked in time for Lebanon’s ever to recover is another question.

The UN vote is at 0100, Israeli time, or just under an hour after the time of this planting.

Olmert and Peretz at odds over offensive

UPDATE, 6 August: I corrected an error below. Thanks to Alex for pointing it out. (The value of peer review on blogs!) Chris has raised an interesting question, also at the propagation bench, to which I responded quickly on Friday afternoon. I have now revised and extended my remarks in that comment.

In some respects, the Haaretz headline and story are unremarkable. Israel has a democratic form of government, after all–and the most democratic subtype, a multiparty-majority coalition; moreover, the prime minister and defense minister are the leaders of different political parties. The policy disagreements that are inevitable in such a set-up lead to a more effective and democratic form of checks and balances than the kind that goes by that term in the USAmerican presidential system. Continue reading

The absence of proportionality to the goal

OK, so I have more to say about the war, after all…

Several days into the fighting, the Israeli Foreign Minister addressed the principle of “proportionality.” She said that the judgment of whether a state’s military retaliation was justified or not had to be based on proportionality to the threat faced by the state.

But this misses the point. In fact, the actions would not even pass the Foreign Minister’s test, as Israel fought this as though it was facing a conventional state enemy in Lebanon, while at the same protesting that it wanted that very state to come to its–Israel’s–aid in fighting what it called simply a terror threat. In other words, the justification, like the strategy, was schizophrenic. Continue reading

Pretty much over

UPDATE (31 July): See Arms and Influence, where Kingdaddy notes in a post entitled “Israel’s Failed Strategy,” among other things, that Israel’s military strategy in recent years has been to swap its “scalpel for a meat cleaver as its military instrument of choice.” The “meat cleaver” here is the over-use of airpower. Kingdaddy also notes, in an earlier post, that “The Bush Administration has watched as two cities, New Orleans and Beirut, have been destroyed.” Indeed.

I’ve been doing my best to stay relatively clear of the Israel-Hezbollah/Lebanon war. But I think that the impact of the news I woke up to this morning–the attack on civilians in Qana (of all places), the cancellation by the Lebanese government of the US Secretary of State’s visit, and the mob attack on UN offices in Beirut–was best summed up by Jonathan:

Well, it’s pretty much over now.”

Nepal: Revolution or democracy?

This post steps outside the specialties of this blog a little bit. One of my academic sidelines is revolution, though I have not published in this area in a while. Recent events in Nepal have looked more like an incipient revolution* than party or electoral politics, with a king having assumed absolute rule a year ago (and having dissolved parliament in 2002) and a Maoist insurgency supposedly controlling much of the countryside.

Shortly before a big opposition demonstration was expected, the king announced he would reinstate parliament. At least for now, this has split the alliance between the parliamentary parties and the Maoists. Those who had been demonstrating are apparently hailing this decision as a victory, while the Maoists are (predictably) calling it a ploy. But I can’t help but feel that the Maoists’ position on this announcement by the king might be the one closer to reality. The parties that accepted a measure well short of what the alliance had been calling for–i.e. an end to the “autocratic monarchy” and elections for a constituent assembly to decide the role of the monarchy and how to deal with the Maoists–need to be careful here. If this is a first step to the constituent assembly, it could be a positive step. But I wonder if the assurances are really there, given this king’s track record.

Then there is the question of how representative these parties that just accepted this offer really are. One can see from a look at the results of the 1991, 1994, and 1999 elections that the party system is fragmented. Nepal uses FPTP, yet many small parties have one or a few seats each. In other words, many of these parties represent small regional constituencies. The largest party in 1999 was the Nepalese Congress Party. It won a manufactured majority of seats on only about 37% of the vote.

One can only infer so much from electoral statistics–though I have been known to infer a lot!–but this is not the look of a party system in which the parties are broadly representative. If all of them are on board with the king’s plan, then, more or less by definition, it implies broad acceptance by the people’s representatives. On the other hand, these party leaders have not been the people’s de-facto representatives for some time–parliament has been dissolved and in the meantime, its constitutional term would have expired–and they have not been tested in an election in an even longer time. In the mean time, “people power” has emerged. The parties have to tread carefully here, or they could find themselves losing ground to the Maoists if the latter’s assessment of the king’s offer as a ploy comes to be seen by masses of Nepalis as accurate.

* The link is to a post at The Head Heeb, in the comments to which, Jonathan and I have discussed the relevance of existing typologies of revolution to Nepal. Jonathan has posted an update.

Why Republicans need not fear a unilateral President Clinton

So, why are so many so-called conservatives in the Republican party and in sympathizing legal circles so willing to advance a doctrine that asserts that the US president has sweeping inherent powers in times of war–even wars declared, paraconstitutionally, by the president himself? Or perhaps herself? Steven Taylor alludes to this puzzle in a post from 16 February, effectively asking those on the right whether they really are willing to countenance the possibility that a President Hillary Clinton or other Democrat might be able to assert such powers.

Ever since the theory of the “unitary executive” (which really ought to be called the unilateral executive) first came to my attention, I have wondered the same thing. But only after reading Steven’s post and pondering it over the last few days did it dawn on me that the answers to this puzzle have been right there in both my own body of academic work, and in a simple understanding of the ideology and constituency base of the Democratic party, as well is in structural conditions that make a politically supported unilateral Democratic President highly improbable. Republicans presumably know how implausible a unilateral President Clinton is, and thus do not fear her.

The broad outline of the connections to my academic work is that certain types of politicians favor a programmatically weak legislature alongside a unilateral executive. A programmatic legislature is one that passes detailed legislation with universal application, which in turn requires that it control the process of implementation to ensure that the executive follows the programmatic mandate. A non-programmatic legislature is one that is more interested in setting broad parameters than in the details of policy, and that is also relatively more inclined to the use of the pork barrel and other means of targeting benefits at the service of powerful constituent groups and campaign contributors. It is no accident, then, that the Republican congress has greatly increased the use of earmarks and established ever-closer relations with big-business lobbies, at the same time that it advances a “theory” of a unilateral executive that can selectively reinterpret statutes and selectively implement them. But all of this concerns domestic policy-making, not foreign policy or the domestic arm of “national security” actions. It is on the latter that I want to keep this post focused.*

The reasons why Republicans need not fear that the expansive inherent powers they are asserting on behalf of the Bush administration in the area of “national security” will come back to haunt them post-Bush have to do with the preferences of the parties and their support bases, and closely related matters such as their internal discipline. They also have to do with structural features of the US political system that make a unilateral Democratic presidency unlikely, even if my assessment of partisan differences were to prove incorrect.

I will list these factors in rough descending order of importance to the question of whether a future Democratic president would be likely to assert inherent “national security” powers such as those being asserted by the current administration, and whether such assertions, if they happened, would harm Republican interests.

1. In the area of foreign policy, Democrats and their supporters do not have an agenda of Global Domination, or more precisely, imperialism. It is not that Democrats are not in favor of advancing the interests of US capital and “security” abroad. It is that they prefer to do so in a tandem with other countries and international organizations while also promoting broader conceptions of the US “national interest.” Republicans know this, and hence a stronger presidency in “national security” policy is not against Republican interests, independently of any given incumbent’s party. Arguably, such a strong presidency, regardless of party, is even in favor of those interests, inasmuch as a presidency with unilateral foreign-policy powers but held by a party whose supporters do not endorse such policies is more capable of acting against the preferences of its own support base.

2. In the domestic side of US “national security” policy, Democrats’ support base would abandon a president, even of their own party, who pursued an expansive invasion of basic civil liberties at home. The Republican party contains principled conservatives (really, they are liberals stuck in the wrong party by the two-party straightjacket) who value civil liberties. But they tend to fall in line behind their party and president on essential matters of inter-partisan conflict (recent example: Specter and others voting for Judge Alito). Democrats would not fall in line. Republicans know this.

3. Somewhat in tension with my first point, while in further development of my second point, party discipline in congress–or at least the absence of clearly articulated opposition from congress–is essential to anything other than short-term unilateral action by the executive. That is, it is one thing to act unilaterally without prior explicit authorization from congress, but another to sustain such action in the face of opposition. So, while a president may be able to act in the short term against her support base or against the manifest wishes of congress (which was my first point), she cannot do so in the longer run unless she has support in the legislature and in her own party, and my second point was that a Democratic president would be unlikely to have such support within her party.

So, taken together, the first three points say that a Democratic president would have a different set of foreign-policy preferences, a lack of intra-partisan support for assertions of extraordinary “national security” powers at home, and could not do these things anyway without such support. But suppose I am wrong and a future President Clinton (or Kerry or Warner, or whoever) does want to take advantage of unilateral powers and does enjoy partisan backing. What are the chances that the conditions that came together to allow Bush to assert such powers would prevail for Clinton (or another Democrat)? Not very.

4. A Democrat is less likely to enjoy unified government, yet support by majorities in both houses is essential to the employment of unilateral powers for partisan gain, and that really is the issue here. If Republicans favor a Democratic president’s assertion of unilateralism, no problem. The risk for them is that a Democrat uses these powers against Republicans and Republican policy preferences much as the Bush administration has used them against Democratic policy preferences. A president facing divided government could not do so. Republicans know this. The House and Senate are somewhat unlikely both to turn Democratic, except perhaps precariously and for short periods (2006-08 or -10?). Partly this assessment is due to gerrymandering (in the House), malapportionment (especially in the Senate, but over time, increasingly so in the House), and partly it is due to campaign-finance imbalances, and the rampant use of earmarks to cement critical local financial support. Democrats are somewhat unlikely to take and hold both houses for more than a term or two, but let’s suppose that they do hold congressional majorities for an extended time. If they do, it will be with a broad an internally diverse party, because the party would have to expand its reach and its “big tentness” in order to secure these majorities (which then gets us back to point 3). Republicans know this.

5. As the Supreme Court becomes ever-more partisan, a Democratic president is less likely to obtain judicial backing for an assertion of disputed unilateral powers, even if that president wants to, even if the Democratic party does not turn on the president for doing so, and even if the party remains unified and controls both houses of Congress. The Court remains an ultimate check on a Democratic president pursuing a narrow partisan agenda with the aid of unilateral powers. Republicans know this.

6. Finally, Democrats can win presidential elections under current conditions only in close contests. The playing field, especially with the electoral college, is stacked against them unless they “run the table” of the most critical swing states, as Gore did in 2000. And we know how that turned out. If you can win only close elections, but it is precisely in those close elections that the other party has the advantages of partisan control of swing-state electoral authorities, and at the end of the day, the Supreme Court, the only Democrat who can win is one who has a broad mandate, and not one with a narrow partisan agenda, a la Bush. Republicans know this.

For a variety of reasons, both partisan and structural, the probability of a Democratic president seeking to assert expansive “wartime” powers abroad and domestically and having the partisan, congressional, and judicial backing to do this against Republican interests is low. I do not know how low, but it is too low to offset the considerable gains they obtain from having one of their own assert such powers. And Republicans know this.

*I have already presented some elements of the domestic-politics side of this story to a degree, in my post on the “Latin Americanization” of the US presidency. There I focused more on the executive itself, and less on the legislature or why some politicians–even legislators–would actually favor such a presidency. Here I want to focus on the partisan differences between Democrats and Republicans, and why these differences mean that Republicans have little to fear from the specter that a future Democratic president might use the unilateral powers in the area of “national security” that this administration claims are inherent.

Play Ball!

The World Baseball Classic will incllude Cuba after all, as the Bush administration issued the license required under the US embargo against transactions with Cuba.* A US Treasury Department official says:

The agreement … ensures no funding will make its way into the hands of the Castro regime.

Or into that nation’s baseball federation, as is the case with all other participants. At least they will be participating.

PLAY BALL!!

*edited in response to a pertinent comment by Chris L. that the Bush administration got the core of what it really wanted, which was an assurance that no money would go to the government. And while I agree with Chris that the Cuban baseball federation is not independent, the US government does allow various forms of limited trade that also face the same “fungibility” problem he refers to, and the Clinton administration allowed the games between the Cuban team and the Orioles without changing the basic embargo policy. So, an exception for baseball would hardly be “silly”–or even all that exceptional.