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[ 0 ] November 10, 2006 |

Friday Cat Blogging… Frodo


Simply the Best

[ 0 ] November 9, 2006 |

Markus Wolf has shuffled off his mortal coil. In addition to having the best name ever for an elusive super-spy, Wolf placed over 4000 agents in the west, including most famously a top advisor to Willy Brandt. That one brought down a West German government. Many of his spies in NATO weren’t uncovered until after the end of the Cold War and the collapse of East Germany. Wolf rejected offers to work for the CIA as the GDR fell apart.

Of course, Wolf also participated in and helped enable the murderous tyranny of the security services of the German Democratic Republic, activities for which he received a two years suspended sentence. Nevertheless, credit where due. Farewell, master spy.

Every Now and Then

[ 0 ] November 8, 2006 |

I have to hand it to him, Jonah manages to put together a great line every now and again. Were he not his mother’s son, he might have amounted to something in this world, perhaps becoming a minor pop culture pundit instead of an embarassment.

I for one welcome our new Democratic overlords. I’d like to remind them that as a trusted rightwing personality, I can be helpful in rounding up others to toil in their underground sugar caves.

Explainer here.

Of course, one difference between the left and right blogosphere is that no one on the left would need to have that joke explained…

Already with the Blame

[ 0 ] November 8, 2006 |

Shorter Larry Kudlow: Democratic victory likely to lead to world economic depression.

What is Best in Life?

[ 0 ] November 8, 2006 |

The open steppe, fleet horse, falcon on your wrist, wind in your hair?

Wrong! Conan, what is best in life?

To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women!

Lexington Voting

[ 0 ] November 7, 2006 |

Every report I’m hearing indicates that voting in Lexington is going very, very slowly. No apparent reason, as there’s no governor race in Kentucky and the local House race isn’t competitive this year.

And on the Day I Wear My Intrepid Shirt…

[ 0 ] November 6, 2006 |

USS Intrepid is reluctant to move

After 24 years at the same Hudson River pier, the legendary aircraft carrier USS Intrepid was inched out of its berth by powerful tugboats on Monday — but the trip never got under way because it got stuck in the mud as the tide went down. The mission was scrubbed for the day at around 10:30 a.m., according to Dan Bender, a Coast Guard spokesman.

The Intrepid’s giant propellers got stuck in the mud as the tugboats strained to move the behemoth. It eventually began inching backward out of its berth, but moved only a few feet. “We knew it was not going to come out like a cruise ship,” said Matt Woods, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum’s vice president for operations.

The legendary aircraft carrier was being moved to New Jersey for a $60 million overhaul.

I suspect I’d be reluctant to go on a year vacation to Jersey, too.


[ 0 ] November 5, 2006 |

I plead guilty to making the same mistake about Bush’s foreign policy team as Ezra and Ross Douhat:

If you had asked me, circa 1999, to pick out a group of senior GOPers who I would have wanted at the table in a national-security crisis – well, I’m not sure I could have done better than Colin Powell, Dick Cheney, Condi Rice and Donald Rumsfeld, with (in theory, though of course it didn’t turn out that way) Brent Scowcroft whispering in Condi’s ear, and George H.W. whispering in his son’s. This is how the Bush Administration was sold to people, on foreign affairs at least.

Right. I can say with the warm glow of pride that I missed two of the biggest predictive train wrecks of the last seven years, the first being the belief that George W. Bush wasn’t going to be all that different than Al Gore, and the second that the invasion of Iraq would come off with a powerful degree of super-awesomeness. But I admit that I thought the Bush foreign policy team would be, if anything, competent. Evil perhaps, but competent. The man at the top was obviously an idiot, but I was confident that Rummy, Cheney, and Powell would lead him through the wilderness such that foreign affairs would be the area in which we suffered the least damage from the Bush administration.

Looking back, the mistake is only partially excusable. On the national security front, I still think that more could reasonably have been expected from this team. As I’ve argued in the past, Rumsfeld’s initial efforts to bring the brass to heel are quite laudable in concept. On issues of international cooperation, however, I don’t recall if I was either a) blindly optimistic, or b) in one of my neorealist Kenneth Waltz worshipping phases, because I certainly didn’t account for the damage that the administration would do to America’s “soft” power, our international prestige, and the bevy of agreements and regimes that make the international system go.

Oh, but how the veneer of competence has been stripped away…

Sunday Battleship Blogging: HMS Renown

[ 0 ] November 5, 2006 |

HMS Renown was to be the sixth “R” class battleship, but construction was suspended at the beginning of World War I in the expectation that the ship would not be ready by the end of the war. The return of Jackie Fisher to the Royal Navy and the victories at the Falkland Islands and Helgioland Bight changed this calcution, however, and it was decided that Renown and her sister Repulse would be completed as battlecruisers. HMS Renown carried 6 15″ guns in three twin turrets, displaced about 28000 tons, and could make 30 knots. Renown’s armor was on the same scale as previous British battlecruisers, which is to say that it was almost criminally light.

Commissioned in September 1916, Renown fortunately missed the Battle of Jutland. The loss of three battlecruisers convinced the Admiralty that Renown’s protection was too light, resulting in addition of extra armor.Renown participated in the rest of World War I but never engaged the High Seas Fleet. Renown and her sister Repulse were never popular ships in the Royal Navy, as they suffered constant teething problems, such that the ships were nicknamed “Refit” and “Repair”. Retained under the terms of the London Naval Treaty, Renown underwent modernization between 1937 and 1939, resulting in a new superstructure, better fire control, and a greatly enhanced anti-aircraft armament. Renown rejoined the fleet in September 1939, just in time for the war.

Although an older unit, Renown’s high speed made her useful for operations that other old battleships could not undertake. Renown could hunt German raiders, escort fast carriers, and support cruiser flotillas. Her weak armor was a handicap, but used appropriately Renown could make a significant contribution to the war effort. One of Renown’s first operations involved convoy escort and support of British operations in Norway. In service off the latter, Renown encountered the German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau in April 1940. Renown lightly damaged Scharnhorst before the Germans broke off. The German decision to break off contact must be regarded as overly cautious, as the destruction of Renown was well within the capabilities of either German ship, much less both. Scharnhorst’s 11″ guns could easily penetrate Renown’s light armor, and with their high rate of fire and large number of guns, Scharnhorst and Gneisenau could each fire 27 shells per minute to Renown’s 12. Better German fire control and damage absorption capability should have made the fight no contest, but the Germans failed to press their advantage.

Renown participated in operations in the Atlantic and the Med for the next two years, including pursuit of the battleship Bismarck in 1941. In 1944 Renown shifted to the Pacific, operating out of Ceylon and escorting carrier attacks on Japanese bases in Southeast Asia. By mid-1945 Renown was simply worn out, and massive Allied naval superiority meant that she could be placed in reserve before the war ended. After use as a training ship for a couple years, Renown was sold for scrap in 1948.

Trivia: What battleship carried guns designated “40.6cm Special”?

Good Prevails

[ 0 ] November 4, 2006 |

The forces of evil are defeated once again. Let’s hope that this is a good omen for Tuesday.

Rob’s Election Predictions:

House: Dems+26
Senate: Dems+4 (and Lieberman defeats Lamont)

DL-Lexington will be watching the returns at the local Buffalo Wild Wings. My promise: A wing for every seat the Dems pick up.

Need to be More Ruthless…

[ 0 ] November 3, 2006 |

How can we expect to do well in Iraq when, after relieving six insurgents of multiple explosive devices, we just let them go? No way to run a railroad

The United States-led coalition in Iraq said in a statement on Thursday that an Iraqi security patrol had intercepted six “heavily loaded donkeys” carrying dozens of land-mines near the Iran-Iraq border.

“While on routine patrol in eastern Diyala Province, five kilometres from the Iraq-Iran border, Iraqi security forces intercepted six heavily loaded donkeys”, according to a statement posted on the website of the Multi-National Force – Iraq (MNF-I).

“Upon investigation, the patrol discovered six donkeys carrying 53 anti-tank landmines and one anti-tank projectile”, the statement said…

The donkeys were later released unharmed into the local area.

Blood and Guts Peters

[ 0 ] November 3, 2006 |

Everybody’s talking about Ralph Peters “give up on Iraq” bit, and I think that Glenn and Spencer, among others, have demonstrated how dishonest and incoherent his new position is. Peter’s previous argument is also worth some attention, as he summarizes what has come to be the new dodge on the war, the idea that we would have succeeded if we had just been more willing to massacre us some Iraqis.

This argument has become quite common, and goes something like this:

The war was lost because we won too quickly and too cleanly. If the Iraqis had suffered mass casualties on the same level as, say, the Germans or Japanese in World War II, they would have become quiet and docile. Domestic liberals and international organizations can be blamed for our failure since it is they who prevented us from using the necessary brutality.

The argument is popular because it places the blame for defeat squarely upon those least deserving, the UN and the Democratic Party. Moreover, it attributes the problem (implicitly or explicitly) to the fact that liberals aren’t really man enough to acknowledge that slaughtering people is often a necessary part of war. Finally, it depends not in the slightest on any historical analysis. If you don’t present any data, then no data can be critiqued or properly analyzed. All we really have is an assertion of a relationship (more killing=more docility) with a couple of data points invoked (Germany and Japan) while literally thousands of points are ignored. For example, one might mention that, while Germany and Japan suffered heavy casualties in World War II, those casualties were considerably lower than those suffered by other countries that continued to struggle, including Poland, China, and Russia. One might also note that Vietnam suffered casualties far in excess (corrected for population) of either Japan or Germany, yet continued to fight long after the United States had backed away.

So, what we have is an argument that has appalling policy implications (why worry about precision guidance, since killing a few extra is a good thing?), has virtually no evidentiary support, and isn’t even logically compelling (it’s unclear why people react to their neighbors deaths by surrendering, rather than by resisting more vigorously). In short, it’s an argument that’s tailor made for the wingnutosphere.

Cross-posted to TAPPED.

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