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Archive for November, 2005


[ 0 ] November 20, 2005 |

Kudos to the Fresno State Bulldogs, who fought one hell of a fight against USC. They went in to the lair of the finest team in college football and very nearly won. They have no reason to hang their heads.


Sunday Battleship Blogging: HMS Prince of Wales

[ 0 ] November 20, 2005 |

Gun caliber was a big deal in battleship construction. A ship carrying 8 16″ guns may have the same weight of broadside as one carrying 12 14″ guns, but the larger guns have a longer range and more penetrating power than the smaller calibers. Increasing gun calibers during and after World War I, therefore, were a matter of considerable attention. The best British battleships carried 15″ guns, as did the most advanced German vessels. American and Japanese ships carried 14″ guns. Near the end of the war, both the Americans and Japanese laid down ships with 16″ guns. After the war, the Royal Navy planned to trump the IJN and the USN by arming a new class of battleships with 18″ guns.

The Washington Naval Treaty of 1922 ended that dream, and limited gun caliber to 16″. The Royal Navy was granted special dispensation to build two ships with 16″ guns, in order to match the USN and the IJN. The 1930 London Naval Treaty reduced the number of capital ships allocated to each navy, but did not change the gun caliber limitations. The treaties allowed older vessels to be replaced after a certain time, and in the mid 1930s Japan, the United States, and the United Kingdom began to plan for a new generation of battleships. The British, suffering from severe financial constraints, wanted to limit the size and expense of the new battleships as much as possible. Accordingly, the British proposed that all new battleships would be limited to 14″ guns. In a bout of wishful thinking, the Royal Navy designed its newest class of battleships around the 14″ weapon. The 1936 London Naval Treaty established a 14″ limit, but contained a clause that lifted the limit to 16″ if any one of the original signatories did not sign. Japan opted out of the treaty (and began building battleships with 18″ guns), and the United States took advantage of this clause by designing its new ships to carry the 16″ gun.

This left the Royal Navy at a disadvantage. The naval architects tried to solve the problem by equipping the new class of warships with 12 14″ guns in three quadruple turrets. Unfortunately, this led to a top heavy design, and the “B” turret on the design had to be reduced to a twin. Thus, while the new American battleships carried 9 16″ guns and the new Japanese ships 9 18″ guns, the British ships carried only 10 14″ guns. The King George V class had other design flaws, including a very poor turning circle. Their armor scheme was not particularly effective, being worse than any modern battleship other than the German Bismarck. The underwater protection of these ships was also very bad by modern standards. All in all, these were not fine ships, which is surprising given the experience of the Royal Navy and the quality of RN naval architecture at the end of World War I. King George V and her sisters displaced 42000 tons and could make 28 knots.

Prince of Wales was the third unit of the class. While still under construction, she suffered bomb hit that led to severe flooding. Her commissioning was hurried due to the threat posed by the German battleships Bismarck. When Bismarck and Prinz Eugen broke for the Atlantic, Prince of Wales was put to sea before fully working out in trials, and civilian engineers remained on the ship. Prince of Wales accompanied Hood, the best known warship of the Royal Navy at the time. The two battleships, accompanied by several destroyers, steamed north in an attempt to intercept the German ships in the Denmark Straits.

Hood and Prince of Wales were successful, and the battle was joined on the night of May 24, 1941. Hood was struck by a salvo from the Bismarck and, like any good British battlecruiser, promptly exploded and sank. Prince of Wales, although still facing some teething troubles, gave a good account of herself against the German battleship. Although she suffered seven hits (plus several dud shots), she managed to hit Bismarck three times, causing a fuel leak and limiting Bismarck’s speed. Her main armament no longer operative, Prince of Wales broke off the action and began to shadow Bismarck. Because of low fuel, however, Prince of Wales was forced to break off the chase, and played no role in the final destruction of Bismarck.

After six weeks of repairs, Prince of Wales was tasked with transporting Winston Churchill to Newfoundland, where he met with Franklin Roosevelt and helped hammer out the naval strategy of the Western Allies. In October, Prince of Wales was dispatched to Singapore in order to counter the increasing Japanese threat to British possessions. She and the battlecruiser Repulse formed the nucleus of the British Far Eastern Fleet.

The Japanese were well aware the presence and threat that Prince of Wales and Repulse posed to their offensive plans. They detailed the battlecruisers Kongo and Haruna (the former itself built in a British yard) to meet the two Royal Navy ships and protect the invasion fleets. There was no need. The Royal Navy admiral did not believe that Pearl Harbor conclusively demonstrated the lethality of air power against battleships. The Pearl Harbor attack was a surprise; the American ships were at anchor and could not maneuver. Unspoken, perhaps, was the belief that while American ships might be vulnerable to such attacks, British ships certainly were not. On December 8, Admiral Phillips sortied his two ships in an effort to intercept and destroy the Japanese fleets attacking Malaya.

On December 10, Prince of Wales and Repulse were caught in the open sea by 87 Japanese aircraft. Repulse suffered 5 torpedo hits, Prince of Wales 6. Both ships sank, although most of the crews of each were saved. The attacking Japanese planes were, by all accounts, exceptionally polite. They made no effort to attack British destroyers during rescue operations, and it is held that the Japanese squadron leader flew low and waggled his wings above the surviving British ships as Prince of Wales sank. Admiral Phillips gallantly decided to go down with the ship. Winston Churchill felt that the destruction of Prince of Wales and Repulse was a greater blow to Allied seapower than the Pearl Harbor attack. Certainly, it demonstrated that battleships could not hope to survive without support from aircraft, either from carriers or land bases.

Slow Trainwreck Coming

[ 0 ] November 19, 2005 |

Brad R. has a fine roundup of some of the more obscure wingnuts on MondalePlutoNash62Mets Media (TM). And yet, I don’t think any of them can quite reach the heights of this comment from more established OSM (TM) wingnut Dean Esmay, discovered by a commenter at Open Source Poor Man:

I still believe that George W. Bush was the only progressive liberal running for President in 2000, and have no regrets whatsoever in having voted for him.

Well, a conception of “progressive liberalism” that excludes Al Gore but includes Bush’s combination of selectively applied cultural auhtoritarianism and use of the public fisc as a giant kickback operation for monied interests is certainly, ah, unique. (And remember: this is in the 2000 campaign, when Bush was running as an anti-nation-building realist, so he doesn’t even have the alleged relationship between the Iraq War and expanding liberalism to fall back on.) But think of the great OSM stories we have to look forward to:

  • “I Still Believe James McReynolds Was the Only Progressive Liberal on the Supreme Court in 1936.”
  • “I Still Believe That George Wallace Was the Only Progressive Liberal Running For President in 1968.”
  • “I Still Believe That William Taft Was the Only Progressive Liberal, and the Only Thin Man, Running For President in 1912.”
  • “I Still Believe That Tom Coburn is the Only Progressive Liberal in the United States Senate.”
  • “I Still Believe That Zell Miller is the Only Progressive Liberal in the Democratic Party.”
  • “I Still Believe That Ringo Was the Only Talented Songwriter the Beatles Had.”
  • “I Still Believe That George Pipgras Was the Only Quality Hitter on the 1927 Yankees.”

That’ll show the MSM!


[ 0 ] November 19, 2005 |

Today is the 142nd anniversary of the delivery of the Gettysburg Address.


[ 0 ] November 19, 2005 |

I concur with OJ; the system is unfair. You murder your wife, you go to trial, and you get acquitted. That should be it, right? But no, someone then drags you back into court and takes all your money. Clearly unfair. Probably the fault of the trial lawyers. And maybe the Democrats.

”I still don’t get how anyone can be found not guilty of a murder and then be found responsible for it in any way shape or form,” Simpson said in a phone interview from his Florida home. ”… If you’re found not guilty, how can you be found responsible? I’d love to hear how that’s not double jeopardy.”

No Shame

[ 0 ] November 19, 2005 |

Matt is right. There is no biography compelling enough to shame the administration and its goons. And there’s no shortage of people shameless enough to believe the propaganda.

[ 0 ] November 18, 2005 |

Friday Cat Blogging. . . Pippin

The Self-Pity of the Pro-Life Democrat

[ 0 ] November 18, 2005 |

There are a lot of irritating things about Peter Boyer’s recent New Yorker article about Robert Casey’s Senate bid in Pennsylvania. Now, to be clear, I believe that politics is strategic and the art of the possible. I’m all for doing what you have to do to get Rick Santorum out of the Senate, and while an anti-choice President is unacceptable it may be tolerable in some legislators depending on the context. Still, the article hits pretty much every piece of specious conventional wisdom on the subject–assuming without evidence that abortion is a particularly bad issue for Democrats, focusing on lost voters without focusing on voters gained, and discussing Casey Sr. being denied a speech at the 1992 convention while conveniently omitting that Casey Sr. wouldn’t endorse Clinton. But this passage really is particularly infuriating:

What galls Democrats like Tim Roemer is that, even though the Republican core is as doctrinaire on abortion as the Democratic base is, Republicans have managed to create an impression of tolerance for differing opinions within the Party. “As the nineteen-nineties progressed, the Republicans, at least symbolically, became more of the big-tent party, with pro-choice governors, mayors, people like Giuliani and Schwarzenegger, highlighting their versatility on this issue,” Roemer says. “The Democratic Party veered toward putting the flaps down on the tent. They’re steered more by some of these special-interest groups, and, not being able to elect some of the pro-life Democrats in districts, we lost to Republicans.” Roemer speaks from unhappy experience. A few weeks after Kerry gave his talk to America Votes, and as Schumer was trying to sell Party activists on the idea of the pro-life Casey, Roemer launched a campaign to become chairman of the Democratic National Committee. He ran on a platform of national security (he had served on the 9/11 Commission), tolerance of differing views on abortion, and a return to traditional Democratic values. He pointed to the fact that Democrats had lost ninety-six of the hundred fastest-growing counties in the nation–an unpromising trend for a party trying to regain majority status. Roemer was vigorously opposed by pro-choice activists, who lined up behind Howard. Dean’s successful candidacy. “I had some pretty piercing and nasty opposition research done on me in the D.N.C. race that I don’t think the Republicans had done quite so well in my six races for the House of Representatives,” Roemer says.

What a bunch of nonsense. First of all, as I’ve discussed before, you would think that the GOP’s ability to convey the false impression that they’re a “big tent” on abortion while the Democrats are extremists (although the Democratic position isn’t so unpopular that it has to tell its Supreme Court nominees to avoid the subject) just arose in a vacuum. In fact, it happens because dumbass Vichy Democrats like Roemer keep doing things like talking about token speeches at the GOP convention that didn’t mention abortion at all and were made by non-national politicians (one of whom needed a special election because he wouldn’t have been able to win a Republican primary in one of the most liberal states in the country.) And imply that Democrats have some universal pro-choice litmus test while ignoring the fact that the most powerful Democratic politician in the country is pro-life–and even as strident a pro-choicer as I think he’s done a great job–while nobody in the Republican congressional leadership is pro-choice. And wonder why the abortion debate is being fought on Republican-chosen terrain while they fail to mention that the Republican platform endorses a (very unpopular) constitutional amendment that would make abortion first-degree murder in all fifty states.

But there’s another problem here. Roemer, truly the wanker’s wanker, continues to boo-hoo about his being denied the chairmanship of the DNC. What Boyer is allowing Roemer to imply is that he’s a solidly progressive Democrat who happens to be pro-life (like our friends Hugo and Russell), and this is the only reason he was opposed. And, certainly, communitarian lefties should be a welcome part of the progressive movement. But in Roemer’s case, it’s just horseshit. Roemer voted for Bush’s upper-class tax cuts while voting against Clinton’s 1993 budget, and also favored Social Security privitization. Roemer’s not a pro-life progressive; he’s an unprincipled conservative Democrat. And this is far from unusual–in general, Democrats who are anti-choice are much more likely to be reactionary on economic issues. The idea that the Dems are systematically blacklisting solidly progressive pro-lifers is simply not true.

And so I’m not just going to accept on blind faith the assertion that Casey is a staunch progressive who happens to be anti-choice. In the Boyer article, Chuck Schumer argues that Casey’s opposition to reproductive rights isn’t a problem because “[t]here’s no worry on judges.” Really? As eRobin notes, Casey has refused to come out against Alito, although Alito is if anything even more unambiguously reactionary when it comes to worker’s rights than when it comes to reproductive rights. Maybe Casey really is a solid progressive, and certainly he has to be better than Santorum. But let’s remember that Dems who are conservative on choice often sell out on other issues too.

UPDATE: In comments, Matt Weiner notes that Boyer does mention Casey’s non-endorsement in passing; my mistake, although he makes it appear as if the non-endorsement followed his inability to speak rather than vice-versa. He has more on the article here. [edited to distinguish between the two Caseys.]

…More from Matt Stoller.

Like The VRA Never Happened

[ 0 ] November 18, 2005 |

I blogged recently about Georgia’s unconstitutional Voter ID requirement, noting that it would be far more effective in longstanding conservative efforts to suppress the African-American vote than in actually preventing fraud. Don’t believe me? Let’s hear the idealistic sentiments of the law’s chief sponsor:

The chief sponsor of Georgia’s voter identification law told the Justice Department that if black people in her district “are not paid to vote, they don’t go to the polls,” and that if fewer blacks vote as a result of the new law, it is only because it would end such voting fraud.

The newly released Justice Department memo quoting state Rep. Sue Burmeister (R-Augusta) was prepared by department lawyers as the federal government considered whether to approve the new law. It also says that despite Republican assurances the law would not disenfranchise elderly, poor and black voters, Susan Laccetti Meyers, the staff adviser for the Georgia House of Representatives, told the Justice Department “the Legislature did not conduct any statistical analysis of the effect of the photo ID requirement on minority voters.”

Lovely. Also, remember that the federal oversight required by the Voting Rights Act will sunset, and what the consequences of not extending the provisions would be:

Georgia Democrats reacted angrily to the memo and to reports that the department had approved the voter ID law even though staff attorneys recommended against it. They said the law is the most blatant evidence that Georgia’s election laws should remain under federal scrutiny, as required by the 1965 Voting Rights Act, despite attempts by Georgia Republicans to free the state from federal oversight.

Via iocaste, who also notes that the professional lawyers in the Justice Department who rejected the Georgia legislation were overruled by Bush’s goonish hacks. As long as Republicans control the White House, it doesn’t really matter whether the Voting Rights Act is in place or not.

Ralph: The Name That’s Also A Verb

[ 0 ] November 18, 2005 |

Well, my streak of not having any allergic reactions in NYC restuarants–ceratinly a nice contrast to Seattle (“A coke? Would you like some pesto in that?”)–was sure nice while it lasted.

Memo to self–no matter what the assurances, no matter how hard the sell, never order desserts in restaurants, ever. You know better than that.

Poor, Poor Baby

[ 0 ] November 17, 2005 |

A couple quick points in Ward Report Don’s reporting that he’s sick of defending other people’s rights:

  • Defending the outcome in Roe does not in any way require a defense of Harry Blackmun’s particular opinion, which is an accident of history. Burger probably assigned him the opinion because he was shakier about the outcome than anyone else in the majority coalition, and had Douglas been able to assign the opinion he probably would have done the same thing, to lock in the vote. As William Rehnquist noted, the outcome always matters more than the reasoning, and few Supreme Court opinions have the clear reasoning and elegant prose Holmes’ famous dissents; they’re far more often cobbled together by clearks and sometimes fractious coalitions of judges. Anyway, the fact that Blackmun did not effectively locate Roe in the Court’s precedents doesn’t mean it can’t be done–cf. Douglas in Doe v. Bolton and (especially) Stevens’ detailed, careful rebuttal of White in Thornburgh. It just means that Blackmun made a bad argument. Roe, while certainly not required by the court’s precedents, is a perfectly plausible application of them. There’s no reason whatsoever to “wink” in order to defend Roe.
  • If you believe that developing tests to apply constitutional rights is inherently illegitimate, fine, although I think this is silly (and, indeed, would pretty much make constitutional jurisprudence impossible.) But let’s be clear that this means that you also have to abandon–just for starters–Miranda and most of the Court’s church/state jurisprudence.
  • I’m just guessing here, but I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that if the question was whether Griswold applied to laws that required men be chosen at random to get vasectomies as a method of population control, somehow Don would be less wary about defending “judicial activism.” Have you ever noticed how an extremely high percentage of “who gives a shit about Roe anyway (but I’m pro-choice–really!)” arguments come from men living in large urban areas? Strange; I wonder what might account for that.

Via Rox, whose post you should read.

This Will Surprise Anyone Who Knows Me

[ 0 ] November 17, 2005 |

I think there’s a flaw in this quiz:


You are one of life’s enjoyers, determined to get the most you can out of your brief spell on Earth. Probably what first attracted you to atheism was the prospect of liberation from the Ten Commandments, few of which are compatible with a life of pleasure. You play hard and work quite hard, have a strong sense of loyalty and a relaxed but consistent approach to your philosophy.

You can’t see the point of abstract principles and probably wouldn’t lay down your life for a concept though you might for a friend. Something of a champagne humanist, you admire George Bernard Shaw for his cheerful agnosticism and pursuit of sensual rewards and your Hollywood hero is Marlon Brando, who was beautiful, irascible and aimed for goodness in his own tortured way.

Sometimes you might be tempted to allow your own pleasures to take precedence over your ethics. But everyone is striving for that elusive balance between the good and the happy life. You’d probably open another bottle and say there’s no contest.

What kind of humanist are you? Click here to find out.

(Via Feministe).

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