Ooh, the Rapture Index was at 161, highest in a while. I didn’t know there was a drought in Spain. . .
If Karl Rove gets indicted, it will probably go up a couple points. Liberals and all. Mark of the Beast, you know.
5-1! Big victory at Arizona State.
Their pathetic second half performance against USC notwithstanding, the Ducks are having a very solid year. With the exception of a home game against California, they don’t face a ranked team the rest of the way. They have a decent chance at running the table from here on out.
My hatred of the Washington Huskies aside, I’ve been genuinely surprised by the level of ignorance in Lexington about college football from other parts of the country. I understand that the SEC dominates all attention, and that basketball is really the UK thing anyway, but you would expect more people to at least be aware that Washington was, very recently, a dominant football power.
The Treaty of Versailles drastically limited the size of the postwar Kriegsmarine. Germany would not be allowed any dreadnought battleships. The Germans could keep pre-dreadnought vessels of 10000 tons or less, roughly the size of a heavy cruiser in most navies. Presented with a problem, the German engineers developed a novel solution. They designed the pocket battleships, warships of relatively small size (12000 tons or so), with relatively heavy armamanets (6 11″ guns) that were faster than any ship more powerful than they and more powerful than any ship faster. The pocket battleships were designed as commerce raiders, not as main line units.
Alas, the concept behind the pocket battleships went the way of all technology. The Royal Navy retained three of its battlecruisers, each of which would have no difficulty catching and destroying the German ships. More troubling, the French built Dunkerque and Strasbourg, a pair of battlecruisers that similarly would have meant doom for the German vessels.
In 1933, the new Nazi government was looking for a way to tweak the British and French. The Kriegsmarine realized that building additional pocket battleships would serve no compelling purpose. Accordingly, the navy developed plans for two new ships, MUCH larger than the pocket battleships. These ships became the battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, named after a pair of crack armored cruisers destroyed at the Battle of Falkland Islands. Scharnhorst displaced 33000 tons and carried 9 11″ guns, leftovers from cancelled pocket battleships. Plans to fit Scharnhorst with 6 15″ guns were never carried out. Scharnhorst could make 32 knots, superior to most of the ships of the Royal Navy.
Scharnhorst had an extremely active career. After a couple early raiding cruises, Scharnhorst and Gneisenau helped cover the German landings in Norway. They engaged, without much effect, the British battlecruiser Renown. A month later, the British aircraft carrier Glorious somehow blundered into Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. The German ships quickly destroyed the British carrier, although Scharnhorst took a torpedo hit. In early 1941, Scharnhorst and Gneisenau left Kiel for a very successful two month raiding cruise before pulling into the French naval base at Brest. The Kriegsmarine planned a massive naval operation for May 1941. Scharnhorst and Gneisenau would depart from Brest and lead the Royal Navy to the south. In the meantime, the newly commissioned Bismarck, accompanied by the cruiser Prinz Eugen, would enter the Atlantic through Denmark Straights and wreak havoc on Atlantic convoys. Bismarck, being a battleship, could deal with the older British battleships used to escort convoys. Unfortunately for the Germans, RAF attacks on Brest disabled the facilities and prevented Scharnhorst and Gneisenau from sortieing. Bismarck’s journey was not, erm, successful.
Scharnhorst remained at Brest for the rest of 1941, but increased RAF bombing attacks made the German naval presence untenable. The German ships could not sortie, and could not remain in Brest. The Germans developed a risky plan in which Scharnhorst, Gneisenau, Prinz Eugen, and six destroyers would dash up the English Channel, hopefully avoiding British surface ships, aircraft, and submarines, in an effort to make it to Wilhelmshaven. The plan worked beautifully, and the German fleet escaped with only minor damage. The dash was a great embarassment to the Admiralty and the Royal Air Force.
Scharnhorst remained at Kiel for most of 1942. In early 1943, she proceeded to Norway with Prinz Eugen (Gneisenau had been badly damaged by an RAF attack on Kiel, and would not be returned to service). While in Norway, Scharnhorst operated as part of a “fleet in being” with Prinz Eugen, Tirpitz (the sister of Bismarck), and other ships. These vessels threatened British convoys to Russia, inducing the convoys to occasionally disperse (making the easy prey for U-boats), and forcing the Royal Navy to keep assets in the area.
On Christmas, 1943, Scharnhorst departed Norway in an attempt to catch a British convoy. Unfortunately for the Germans, the Royal Navy received intelligence of the German movements, and dispatched Duke of York with several cruisers and destroyers to intercept. Duke of York was a fast battleship, more heavily armed and armored than Scharnhorst. The German battlecruiser withstood several hits before losing speed, at which point the British cruisers and destroyers closed to make a torpedo attack on Scharnhorst. The ship capsized and sank at 7:45pm on December 26. 36 men from the crew of 1968 were rescued.
Lance has been doing some good work regarding Josh Shenk’s recent Atlantic Monthly article on Abraham Lincoln’s mental health. Coincidentally, I just finished Geoffrey Perret’s Lincoln’s War, which isn’t quite as problematic as McPherson suggests, although it does have some significant factual errors.
One of the themes I touch on in any class dealing with security issues is the relationship between civilian and military authority. People normally come to this issue with a series of preconceptions. Correct or no, most who have a passing familiarity with the Vietnam War supposedly know that Johnson interfered deeply in military affairs and forced the military to fight with “one hand tied behind its back”. They also tend to be aware that the military resented the Clinton administration mightily, and, possibly, that the military also resents Don Rumsfeld. Beyond that, students don’t have much of a conception of the proper role of civilian and military authorities, and they don’t really know what great civilian leadership looks like in a wartime situation (the past five years haven’t helped matters). To remedy this last, I point to Abraham Lincoln as the exemplar of civilian authority in a democracy at war. He provides a useful contrast to the neocons favorite civilian war leader, Winston Churchill, and to George W. Bush.
Given that the operating assumption on civil-military relations today seems to be that civilians should refrain from interfering in military matters, it is remarkable that Lincoln is not more often invoked as a counter-example. Lincoln’s military experience was minimal. He served as both an elected officer and an enlisted man in the Black Hawk War, but saw little action. Lincoln had no military education at a time in which military affairs were increasingly becoming the arena of lifelong professionals. In spite of this, Lincoln had no compunctions about interfering in the military decisions of his generals. He allowed his generals a certain latitude, but demanded results. When results were not forthcoming, generals were dismissed. Lincoln wasn’t afraid of military men, and demonstrated a keen sense of which officers were qualified and which were not. He stayed with the qualified McClellan despite several setbacks, while dismissing or demoting Burnside, Meade, Hooker, and others after single defeats. Most importantly, he was able to identify the best military mind of the generation, U.S. Grant, and elevate him to command at the earliest politically feasible opportunity. Lincoln’s ability to discern military talent puts him well ahead of Winston Churchill, who in neither World War demonstrated much capacity for discriminating between good and bad commanders. At the same time, Lincoln left his military professionals with enough operational and tactical latitude that they could employ their expertise the fullest. The Bush administration (although perhaps not Bush himself) hasn’t been afraid to assert civilian control, but it’s unclear that Rumsfeld and company have the ability to differentiate good military advice and bad. If their reaction to military objections to the Iraq operation is any indication, they don’t really seem to understand that asserting one’s will over the military is less important than getting the military to do the right thing.
Lincoln’s willingness to dismiss commanders wouldn’t have been helpful without a strong strategic sense. Although Perret disagrees, I think that Lincoln rightfully dismissed suggestions that the main Union focus should be against the Mississippi River, and not against Richmond and the Army of Northern Virginia. The Union dominated the Mississipi and the rest of the West in any case, and it’s unclear what good additional focus on that area could have done. Lincoln identified three centers of gravity for the Confederacy. The first was the Army of Northern Virginia. It’s destruction would cripple the Confederacy and leave the border states open to Union occupation. Lincoln understood that McClellan could create the instrument necessary for this job (the Army of the Potomac), and eventually put the Army of the Potomac in the hands of someone who would do the job (Grant). His focus, during the Peninsular Campaign, the Antietam Campaign, and the Gettysburg Campaign was the destruction of Lee’s army, and he relieved McClellan and Meade because neither, despite having the advantage, were capable of pulling that off. Lincoln also understood the symbolic importance of Richmond and the geographic importance of the Mississippi. Lincoln’s strategic sense compares very favorably with that of Churchill, who in both World Wars authorized expensive and pointless operations in secondary theaters. It is perhaps in this area that the Bush administration has failed most disastrously. I doubt that even Churchill would have been deluded enough to believe that attacking Iraq would win the War on Terror. Civilian leaders in war need to have an idea of the enemy center of gravity, the point that is critical to destroying enemy resistance. The Bush administration has proven singularly obtuse on this point, and in fact has managed to strengthen enemy resistance while exhausting American strength.
Lincoln also excelled in ability to provide a conflict with moral and political purpose. He understood better than any other in his party that emancipation, declared too early, would be disastrous for the Union. He successfully restrained his most enthusiatic political supporters from carrying their efforts too far, too soon. Perhaps most important, he supplied the Gettysburg Address and the second inaugural address, which gave rhetorical purpose to the war. In this Lincoln wasn’t really all that much better than Churchill, but was certainly his equal and probably had a more difficult job (convincing people to resist the Nazis is somewhat less difficult that convincing them to kill their countrymen). Oddly, this is the area that the Bush administration has worked hardest upon, turning its formidable PR apparatus toward the goal of winning the war domestically. I wouldn’t exactly say that the Bush effort has been a disaster, because they’ve managed to keep a portion of the population convinced that a disastrous war undertaken for an absurd purpose is actually a good idea, but they haven’t exactly made us forget about Lincoln or Churchill. Part of the problem is that Bush doesn’t seem to understand that rhetoric must be accompanied by action. Lincoln knew that he needed Antietam for the Emancipation Proclamation, and understood that the Battle of Gettysburg supplied an appropriate occasion for the kind of language used in the Address. Churchill’s legendary “Fight in the Hills” speech was delivered on the occasion of an historic defeat for the British people, one that crystallized for them what was at stake in the struggle against Hitler. Bush, as we have seen today, attempts to deliver lofty rhetoric when his polls numbers slip and his cronies come under investigation. The impact, of course, is minimal. It doesn’t help that Bush has difficulty delivering rhetoric of note; while some of his post-9/11 speeches were quite good, his inability to speak the English language in an understandable manner detracts from the message.
As an aside, I don’t think there’s anything odd about the attachment the neocons have to Reagan, Churchill, and George W. Bush. Although “one of these is not like the others” certainly applies to the trio, they have some broad similarities, in particular a fondness for rhetoric before competence. Without going too deeply into World War II history, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that the West is deeply, deeply fortunate that Churchill led the junior partner in the war rather than the senior. As I’ve suggested, while Churchill rhetoric was impressive and consequential, his strategic sense and his ability to evaluate his own commanders is in grave question. For the neocons (and I think they owe much of this to their Straussian heritage) playing a good game is less important than talking a good game. Thus, FDR and George Marshall are forgotten in the Churchill hagiography. The inability of Reagan to actually execute the domestic or foreign policy he talked about is lost in the glory of Morning in America. Dubya seems to be straining the neocons a bit; with their ideas finally in the ascendance, they have discovered that practical competence actually does count for something.
The neocons don’t talk about Lincoln all that much, and I think that the Shenk book gives us some clues as to why. Lincoln is a somber figure, even for a martyr. He was preoccupied with the grave injustices that Americans had committed, with the blood libel that was owed for slavery. He wasn’t an optimist, and couldn’t give a sunny account of the future. He hoped that the future would be better than the past, and worked to make it so, but he understood that this called for radical change. This is a far cry from the sunny visions that Reagan or Bush promote, in which the fundamental justice of America’s cause is to be trumpted to all that will hear, critics be damned. Lincoln didn’t want America to feel good; he wanted America to come to grips with its sins.
That’s not the neoconservative way.
Normally I wouldn’t stoop, but Matt has requested. . .
What everyone forgets about the case of Robert Bork in his confirmation hearings is that regular people watched him, listened to the workings of his fabulous and exotic mind, saw the intensity, the hunger for intellectual engagement, caught the whiff of brandy and cigars and angels dancing, noticed the unusual hair, the ambivalent whiskers, and thought, “Who’s this weirdo?”
Peggy Noonan Mad Libs:
What everyone forgets about the Bond villain turn of Robert Bork in his hip hop period is that regular people watched him, listened to the workings of his fabulous and exotic nuclear powered sea turtle, saw the intensity, the hunger for dominion over the world of man, caught the whiff of seaweed and laser-guided PGMs and Calvin Klein’s Obsession for Supervillains, noticed the unusual superfluous third nipple, the ambivalent monkey cyborg, and thought, “Who’s that guy standing next to Oddjob?”
I can’t be the only one who savored the presence of Lee Tergesen in a Law and Order episode which prominently featured a jailhouse confession to a Muslim cleric.
I have to agree with Scott, and disagree with Wolcott and Mannion. Law and Order has moderately improved this season. Tonight’s was the first episode in a very, very long time where I mildly liked the ADA rather than simply tolerated or completely abhorred her.
What in the name of God is wrong with Florida?
Alligators have clashed with nonnative pythons before in Everglades National Park. But when a 6-foot gator tangled with a 13-foot python recently, the result wasn’t pretty.
The snake apparently tried to swallow the gator whole — and then exploded. Scientists stumbled upon the gory remains last week.
“They were probably evenly matched in size,” Mazzotti said of the latest battle. “If the python got a good grip on the alligator before the alligator got a good grip on him, he could win.”
While the gator may have been injured before the battle began — wounds were found on it that apparently were not caused by python bites — Mazzotti believes it was alive when the battle began. And it may have clawed at the python’s stomach as the snake tried to digest it, leading to the blow up.
The python was found with the gator’s hindquarters protruding from its midsection. Its stomach still surrounded the alligator’s head, shoulders, and forelimbs. The remains were discovered and photographed Sept. 26 by helicopter pilot and wildlife researcher Michael Barron.
In the interest of good taste, I’ll refrain from displaying the picture on this blog. For those with strong stomachs and freakish urges, click here.
Something this hideous can only by Jeb Bush’s fault.
1918 Spanish Influenza? The one that killed between 20 and 40 million people, including almost a million Americans? Turns out that it was bird flu. Very similar, in fact, to the type of avian flu that we’ve been seeing recently in Vietnam and China.
In short, the bird flu is always present among birds. Sometimes it spreads to people, with devastating results. What made 1918 so bad was that the flu mutated such that it could jump from person to person, rather than from bird to person.
Interestingly enough, scientists were able to resurrect the virus because of Abraham Lincoln.
It had seemed hopeless, though, to discover what that virus looked like. Viruses had not been discovered in 1918 and so no one had isolated and saved the one causing that flu. But Dr. Taubenberger recalled that his institute had a warehouse of autopsy tissue, established by President Abraham Lincoln, who had ordered that every time a military doctor examined a patient and took a tissue sample, a sample must also be sent to and stored at the pathology institute. Dr. Taubenberger wondered if he could find lung tissue from soldiers who died of the 1918 flu and, if so, if he could extract the virus.
This is the big one that health security professionals worry about. Even though I’m not the sort to be afraid of military intervention in US politics, I’m not convinced that this is a good idea; I doubt very much that a tight enough quarantine could be established to justify all the shooting of panicked people that would almost certainly happen.
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