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Archive for February, 2009

India and China Play the Submarine Game

[ 0 ] February 4, 2009 |

Via Galrahn, a PLAN anti-piracy force was stalked by an Indian submarine:

An Indian Kilo class submarine spooked Chinese warships that were sent to patrol pirate infested waters in the Gulf of Aden and the two navies engaged in an hour long game of ‘hide and seek’ in international waters last month, Chinese media reports have said.

In the first such incident involving Indian and Chinese warships that has come to light, media reports from China said that its warships ‘forced’ the Indian submarine to surface after over an hour of manoeuvres during which anti submarine choppers were scrambled from the Chinese destroyers.

As Galrahn notes, the “forced” claim doesn’t make much sense; unless the Chinese were firing live ordnance, why would the Indian submarine ever surface. Still, it does suggest a PLAN with potentially better anti-submarine chops than has previously been understood.

Leverage, Real And Imagined

[ 0 ] February 4, 2009 |

With respect to the question of whether the stimulus can get 60 votes, Drum outlines what the Democratic leadership should be thinking:

If Republicans really did put up a united front and filibuster the legislation, the Democratic leadership would just turn around and consider the bill under budget reconciliation rules, which require only a majority vote to pass. Sure, they’ve already said they’d prefer not to do that, but if they have to they will. And since the bill is all about short-term spending, it would obviously qualify under reconciliation rules.

So all the public handwringing seems like standard DC negotiating kabuki to me, not a genuine effort to kill the bill. If Republicans filibuster, the public will view them as bitter obstructionists and the bill will pass anyway. It’s hard to see what’s in it for them to go down this road.

In theory, this is of course correct; a filibuster should be both politically damaging and futile for the Republicans, and the Democrats shouldn’t just assume that they need 60 votes but should compel an actual filibuster before just passing the best stimulus they can under reconciliation rules if necessary. The Democrats should realize that the GOP has very little actual leverage here. Whether they do, of course, is another question, and I’m much less optimistic about the answer than Kevin. (Admittedly, it’s hard to tell the difference between concessions being offered to appease Republicans and concessions being offered to appease Blue Dogs.)

The Letter Michael Phelps Should Have Written

[ 0 ] February 3, 2009 |

Yup.

On a related note, see Balko’s work on the Ryan Frederick trial.

"Thank God, right?"

[ 0 ] February 3, 2009 |

This extensive list of relevant quotes from Bill “O’Racist” O’Reilly leaves out one of my favorite examples:

In THE FACTOR “Follow-Up” Segment tonight, we’ve been following the various demographic shifts throughout America, and now the Census Bureau estimates, by the year 2050, white Americans will make up less than 50 percent of the population. How will that change the USA?

Joining us now from Washington is Dr. William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution. Here in the studio, John McManus, the editor in chief of “American Demographics” magazine.

So I guess this is being driven by Hispanics, right, with all the illegal immigration, millions of people coming in here and the higher birth rate among Hispanics in America. That’s what’s driving this?

JOHN MCMANUS, “AMERICAN DEMOGRAPHICS”: The Hispanic population is the greatest increase that we’ll see over the time period that we’re talking about. Illegal immigration is a portion of the story, but it’s the increase in — rapid increase in immigration and birth rate in people of Hispanic origin that we’ll see.

O’REILLY: All right. Because black birth rate is fairly stable, right?

MCMANUS: Proportionately, black birth rate and increases in their population will level out and be less significant in growth in that time period. I think Bill will be able to address the numbers better than I can, but…

O’REILLY: OK. And how about Asian? What’s the situation with that?

MCMANUS: Asian — we’re going to see a 213 percent increase, according to the Census Bureau projection, and so that will be a very rapid increase of the percentage of their population in the U.S. as well.

O’REILLY: All right. Now, Doctor, the Census Bureau really doesn’t tell us how this is going to affect the country. Do you have any theories on it?

WILLIAM FREY, PH.D., BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Well, I really think what’s happening is going to be this phasing out or fading out of the white baby boom population. It is a 50-year time period we’re talking about…

O’REILLY: Yes. We’ll all be dead. Thank God, right?

But it’s all taken out of context!

The 17th Amendment: A Good Thing

[ 0 ] February 3, 2009 |

In re the appointment of Judd Gregg to commerce, Beutler snarks:

Surely Gregg’s desire to replace himself with somebody who will often oppose his new boss’s agenda is evidence of his deep commitment to the administration, the cabinet, and the agency he appears poised to head.

As a reason to dislike the appointment, this is fair. But it should be said that on the merits Gregg is of course right to insist on a Republican replacement. As much as I want 60 seats, it would be ridiculous for Gregg’s personal ambition to effectively overturn the results of the last election.

There is, of course, a way to solve these kinds of problems. As has been mentioned recently on this very blog, I don’t think there can be any serious question that vacated Senate seats should be filled by special election. For executive positions, having an immediate replacement in place is necessary, but that’s not the case with legislators. Until his state does it right, though, Gregg is right to insist on a Republican replacement as a condition for taking the job.

Socialism For Me But Not For Thee

[ 0 ] February 3, 2009 |

Shorter James Cramer: Anybody who believes that merely having a business run so incompetently that you require a massive taxpayer bailout should preclude bonuses is a communist. And let’s be frank, nobody who doesn’t receive at least a six-figure bonus works hard.

In A Shocking Development

[ 0 ] February 3, 2009 |

…bloggers are actually taking useful roles in government. As we’ve mentioned before, Lederman’s hire is especially encouraging but they all look impressive.

And even if he wasn’t a blogger, it’s nice to have Holder rather than Mukasey heading Justice. Wheeler has the rollcall.

No such thing as bad publicity

[ 0 ] February 2, 2009 |

I’d like to think that if you — like Derek the Abstinence Clown — were made of undiluted awesome, you’d rejoice in the opportunity to sow your seed prodigiously, especially if your message consists of the uplifting argument that premarital sex is like being dismembered by machete blades.

Apparently not.

I don’t get it. I mean, Ann Althouse just explained the other day that because a lot of high school kids are still virgins, we really can’t be certain — aside from the reassurances of science — that abstinence education doesn’t work. I find it entirely plausible that someone might view the abstinence clown show and then not get laid for a while. The iron law of post hoc applies here, I’m pretty sure. I can’t pretend to understand why Derek Dye wouldn’t want to take advantage of it.

Deep Thought

[ 0 ] February 2, 2009 |

If only Pajamas Media had put on more blogjams, it could have been the hottest thing since the Victory Caucus.

Good News

[ 0 ] February 2, 2009 |

No matter what we happen to think of the outcome of tonight’s game, I think we can all agree that the Steelers’ victory is good news for John McCain.

Tonight’s Professional Sporting Event

[ 0 ] February 1, 2009 |

Straight-up, you obviously have to pick the Steelers; they’re probably the best team in the league, going up against a team that is better than its regular season record but not that much better. If the game was at Heinz Field, I would take the Steelers giving away the points easily. I would be a little reluctant to give up 7 points to take Pittsburgh on the neutral field, though; Tomlin seems very conservative when he has a lead and Pittsburgh’s offense isn’t great. But, if I had to, I would still probably go Pittsburgh -7 — they’re not going to win again if Big Ben doesn’t play well, but I think he will. And I think we’re going to see that while Jimmy “if the blitz is working, blitz. If they’re shredding your blitz with screens and slants, keep blitzin’!” Johnson as a very overrated defensive coordinator, Dick LeBeau isn’t. The fact that Pittsburgh can apply pressure while maintaining a decent number of DBs will, I think, be the key difference between this game and the NFC championship game.

And, I mean…it’s the Cardinals. Against the Steelers. I’m just not enough of a nihilist to pick the former…

Better history, please

[ 0 ] February 1, 2009 |

Why oh why does anyone take Amity Shlaes seriously? I mean, gadzooks. She’s a terrible economist and an even worse historian. These conditions that are not necessarily related to her lack of training in either discipline. It’s entirely possible, I would imagine, that someone with a degree in literature from Yale could eventually turn into something other than a dishonest hack. Regardless, Shlaes’ misuse of data is scandalous and can only be understood as deliberate; her work wouldn’t earn a passing grade in an undergraduate history course, much less pass through the gauntlet of peer review. (I know, I know. For a paper that just offered a scholarship to Bill Kristol after he was booted from the Times for growing weed in his dorm room, factual errancy is, as the kids say, a feature rather than a bug.)

Dean Baker compares her work to creationists and Flat Earthers, a comparison that is in the very least unkind to the latter, to whom we can’t ascribe a bad-faith ideological agenda. We’d do better to wonder when the Post will be reminding us that congressional reconstruction forced a prostrate South to submit itself to Negro Domination.

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