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Jesus the the F-22

[ 0 ] February 13, 2006 |

Michael at The Reaction has a nice post on backtracking within the Air Force on the rules established to prevent evangelicals from abusing their positions in order to promote their religion:

One hopes that superior officers will be “sensitive” to the concerns of subordinates, but will that always be the case? What if free religious expression is perceived in some cases as insensitivity? Does the military need that? After all: “The guidelines were first issued in late August after allegations that evangelical Christian commanders, coaches and cadets at the Air Force Academy had pressured cadets of other faiths.”

Among the services that make up the United States military the Air Force has always been my least favorite. I am fascinated, of course, by the Navy, and I deeply respect the Army. The Air Force, not so much. Part of this antipathy has to do with what I think is an essentially naive approach to war; the idea that wars can be won at relatively low cost from a distance, an idea that I think has been (and will continue to be) extraordinarily destructive to the foreign policy of the United States. Note that I’m not just picking on Bush, here; I think that the Clinton administration was too often seduced by the notion that a few air strikes could solve difficult problems in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kosovo.

A second cause of my antipathy towards the Air Force comes from its pre-history, specifically, the experience of the Army Air Force in World War II. USAAF officers, including Curtis LeMay and others, decided that the Air Force would win its independence from the Army through a focus on strategic bombing, which was supposed to present a way of winning wars independent of the Army or the Navy. In short, this thinking was disastrous. Even setting aside the moral questions associated with the incineration of masses of civilians, the practical effect of the strategic bombing campaigns was minimal. World War II was won in Europe by the Red Army and the US Army, and in Asia by the United States Navy. This is not the story that the Air Force would like to tell or to hear, so they undertook to make up their own story, in which strategic bombing played a significant role. In an important sense, the Air Force was the first of the postwar revisionists. The USAAF played a major role in World War II, but its primary contribution was in support of ground and naval operations.

The accusations about evangelicals don’t make the situation any better. I very much believe that the Air Force is shot through with evagelical Christians who refuse to distinguish between their faith and their service. I recall speaking with a US Army major about this question once. Although he was a conservative, he explained to me that he found the situation in the Air Force appalling; qualified officers who were not part of evangelical Christian “cliques” could not get promoted, and their ideas were ignored. I suppose that the sad thing about this problem is that the rules established to prevent such behavior probably don’t work anyway, given what I suspect is rampant lack of enforcement.

John Cole is indispensible on this matter.

It’s Because He Loves Them so Much….

[ 0 ] February 13, 2006 |

It’s good to see that Brokeback has gotten so deeply under Mickey’s skin. First, he couldn’t imagine enjoying the film because he’s genetically predisposed to be disgusted at homosexual sex. Then, he became deeply concerned about how the nasty liberals were going to lay a guilt trip on him for not liking the movie. Then, he predicted that the film would fail to manage $50 million domestic box office. Since that one collapsed, his line has been that red-staters aren’t watching the film like Frank Rich said they would.

Mickey’s fifth explanation of his vitriol against Brokeback Mountain eschews reference to the genetic disposition that prevents him and other strong, red-blooded, heterosexual men like him from enjoying a film with two gay characters. The reason he, first, dramatically underestimated Brokeback’s take (under $50 million, according to Mickey; currently $66 million and counting on a $14 million investment) and, since then, has been poring over Brokeback’s box office geography with a magnifying glass is that he cares so much about liberals, and doesn’t want to see them hurt…

Bloggers are allowed to point it out (he says defensively)–especially if it’s B.S. the mainstream press has no particular interest in pointing out (because it kills the story, or because they’ll seem homophobic).** But this B.S. falls into a special category: the sort of gratifying myth that in the past has helped lull liberals (and gay rights activists who may or may not be liberals) into wild overconfidence.

Ah, yes. Well, thank you, Mickey, but I’d like to say, on behalf of the entire Left (and I think I’m on solid ground with this one), that we would prefer to continue without your assistance. More specifically, we would like you to be on the OTHER side; you’re far more helpful to the left as a genuine conservative than as a pretend Democrat. First, you suggest that Brokeback won’t make any money because heterosexuals won’t watch such things, then, somehow, you manage to suggest that it will win lots of awards because heterosexuals can’t watch such things without disgust, then you point out the utterly unsurprising fact that Brokeback won’t do as well in Utah as it does in New York (and somehow convince yourself that this is controversial). Frankly, that’s exactly the degree of intellectual acumen that I hope to find in a conservative journalist; your “skills” as a writer and (ahem) editor are also exactly what I would like to see in a writer for the Weekly Standard…

Makes Just as Much Sense as the Last One…

[ 0 ] February 13, 2006 |


Apocalyptic Scenario #3: American Civil War – Part Deux!
“A House Divided” – Network: ABC
Writer: Andrew David Chapman
Odds You’ll Be Seeing it in the Fall: I’ll put this one at 30%.
In the near-future, the unthinkable has happened. A Liberal President is back in power. How liberal? Well, he’s raised taxes to the point where Middle America has had just about enough. A small group of farmers have decided “Hell No!” They’re not paying anymore. One of these farmers, a good-natured retired Gulf War II vet, just trying to get by and raise his family, through a series of highly believable government mishaps, and the manipulations of a well-stocked Kansas militia, ends up becoming the head of this escalating conflict. As the pilot ends, Northern Kansas succeeds from the United States.
What’s great about “House” is that my one-paragraph summary barely scratches the surface of what’s going on in this pilot. Once I was done reading it, I realized I had no idea where I really stood in this hypothetical conflict. There is no right side and wrong side in this one. It’s complicated. It’s relevant. It’s worth having on the air, just so the angry talking heads on cable news have something in Hollywood to bloviate about once Brokeback-mania dies down. It’s incendiary stuff, and it’s solid, powerful writing.

Yeah; just what we need to balance out all those raving left-wingers in Hollywood. Shooting damn dirty liberals is justified, as long as they raise your taxes high enough.

I’d like to think that this doesn’t have a chance of making the fall schedule, and not simply for its extraordinarily reactionary politics. It looks too controversial and, probably, too expensive. Nevertheless, stupider things have happened…


[ 0 ] February 12, 2006 |


Sunday Battleship Blogging: Tirpitz

[ 0 ] February 12, 2006 |

Tirpitz was the final result of forty (interrupted) years of German battleship design. In construction she was very similar to her sister Bismarck, although slightly larger and with a few minor modifications. When commissioned in February 1941, she became the largest battleship in the world, a title she would retain until the commissioning of the Japanese Yamato in December of that year.

Tirpitz was, fittingly, named after Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz. Admiral Tirpitz was critical in driving the coalition that made Imperial Germany a major naval power. He presided over the construction of the High Seas Fleet, and helped to force his country into a naval race with Great Britain. In an important sense Bismarck and Tirpitz represented the beginning and end of the German Empire. Bismarck created the Empire in 1871. Tirpitz helped lead it into war with Great Britain, and eventual destruction, between 1900 and 1918.

The battleship Tirpitz displaced 52000 tons, making her larger in size than any battleships other than the Japanese Yamatos and the US Iowas. She carried 8 15″ guns in four twin superfiring turrets, and could make 31 knots. Tirpitz was heavily armored, although the armor was not as well arranged as it could have been. Like all German battleships, Tirpitz had a very wide beam, which made the ship very difficult to sink.

Neither Tirpitz nor her sister compared favorably with foreign battleship designs. The German designers are not really at fault for this, as the Treaty of Versailles not only prohibited German battleship construction, but confiscated Germany’s existing battleships. Whereas every other navy had older ships that could be refit, rebuilt, and experimented upon, the Kriegsmarine was forced to start from scratch. Tirpitz had a lot of problems. While extremely difficult to sink, she was not terribly hard to disable. Electrical systems necessary to full function were left unarmored. The excellent fire control points were easily knocked out even by small calibre shells. Tirpitz had a very poor anti-aircraft armament, at a time when aircraft were becoming especially lethal to battleships. Finally, Tirpitz was dreadfully underarmed for a ship of her size. The German 15″ gun had excellent range, muzzle velocity, and accuracy, but lacked the weight of other weapons. While Tirpitz and her sister were the third largest class of battleships constructed, the weight of their broadside was somewhat less than that of USS New York, a ship constructed in 1914. In this Tirpitz was no different than any other German battleship; with the exceptions of Baden and Bayern, every German battleship from 1908 until 1944 was underarmed relative to foreign contemporaries.

Thus, while Tirpitz and her sister Bismarck had a formidable reputation, they were not competitive with the modern ships constructed in other navies. Prince of Wales, had she not suffered teething difficulties in the Battle of Denmark Straits, could probably have defeated Bismarck. Tirpitz had the good fortune to avoid enemy capital ships. A meeting with any of the modern US battleships, all of which carried more powerful main batteries and radar controlled firing systems, would likely have been disastrous for the Germans. The French Richielieu was also an all-around superior unit. This did not mean, however, that Tirpitz posed no threat. As the Battle of Denmark Straits demonstrated, a single lucky hit could result in the destruction of any capital ship. The marginal superiority of the Allied battleships could not be relied upon as a guarantee of victory. As it turned out, despite her problems Tirpitz managed to tie down serious Allied naval assets for most of World War II.

Tirpitz was still conducting trials when Bismarck undertook her disastrous cruise of May 1941. Following the destruction of Bismarck, Tirpitz was deployed, along with the other major surviving German surface units, to Norway. From Norway, Tirpitz could threaten to attack Allied convoys to the Soviet Union or to make a break for the Atlantic. Tirpitz engaged in three major actions, including two convoy raids and an attack on Allied installations on Spitsbergen. Although Tirpitz did not actually engage any foes, one of the raids disrupted a convoy, leading to the destruction of most of its ships. Tirpitz spent most of her time docked in various Norwegian fjords, and acquired the nickname “Lonely Queen of the North” from locals.

In mid 1943, the Allies decided to seek a permanent solution to the Tirpitz problem. If Tirpitz would not emerge to be destroyed, then the Allies would take the war to Norway. The first attack on Tirpitz involved miniature submarines, and successfully disabled Tirpitz for a few months. Six major air attacks later, the British started using 5 ton “Tallboy” bombs to attack Tirpitz. The first such attack crippled Tirpitz and ended her career as a useful major unit. Subsequent attacks did further damage, and on November 12 Tirpitz was hit by three “tallboys” during Operation Catechism. She capsized and sank with a thousand men. After the war, Tirpitz was scrapped over the course of nine years. Her bow remains in place.

Although Gneisenau and some other major German units survived, Tirpitz represented the last real Atlantic threat faced by the Allies.

Trivia Question: What was the first dreadnought battleship to carry 14″ guns?


[ 0 ] February 11, 2006 |


Evangelical Christians seem sincere in their desire to help build healthy, lasting marriages. Well, if that’s their goal, encouraging gay men to enter into straight marriages is a peculiar strategy. Every straight marriage that includes a gay husband is one Web-browser-history check away from an ugly divorce.

Oddly, I typically can’t stand any of Dan Savage’s writing; I started skipping Savage Love by about my third time through The Stranger. He does seem to be a fine editor, however.

Ain’t Small Town Life Great?

[ 0 ] February 11, 2006 |

Call me an elitist snob, but…

When Wendy DeVore, the drama teacher at Fulton High here, staged the musical “Grease,” about high school students in the 1950′s, she carefully changed the script to avoid causing offense in this small town.


A month after the performances in November, three letters arrived on the desk of Mark Enderle, Fulton’s superintendent of schools. Although the letters did not say so, the three writers were members of a small group linked by e-mail, all members of the same congregation, Callaway Christian Church.

Each criticized the show, complaining that scenes of drinking, smoking and a couple kissing went too far, and glorified conduct that the community tries to discourage. One letter, from someone who had not seen the show but only heard about it, criticized “immoral behavior veiled behind the excuse of acting out a play.”

Dr. Enderle watched a video of the play, ultimately agreeing that “Grease” was unsuitable for the high school, despite his having approved it beforehand, without looking at the script. Hoping to avoid similar complaints in the future, he decided to ban the scheduled spring play, “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller.

Isn’t the act of banning the Crucible some kind of super cliche, so densely packed with cliche-matter that it threatens to draw in everything around it?

[ 0 ] February 10, 2006 |

Friday Cat Blogging… Starbuck and Nelson

That word, I do not think it means what you think it means

[ 0 ] February 9, 2006 |

Matt is quite correct; Rich Lowry ought not be allowed to appropriate the term “neorealist”:

Rich Lowry’s trying to coin a term “neo-realist” for that brand of foreign policy thinker who just so happens to mix and match their realpolitik and their idealism to match up with roughly whatever George W. Bush is doing in any given situation. He notes that The Wall Street Journal used “neo-realist” as a description for Condoleezza Rice and her circle earlier this week. It’s a trend!

It’s a trend and it’s got to stop. “Neorealism” already has an established meaning in international relations jargon — the people who, following Kenneth Waltz, have sought to formalize and systematize the earlier “classical realism” of Hans Morgenthau, etc.

Lowry wants to think that a neo-realist is someone who combines the idealism of neocons (chuckle) and the hard-headedness of realists. Since neorealism has been a functioning term of international relations theory since 1979, and since several of its proponents are prominent in both academic and public circles (particularly Mearsheimer and Waltz), and since (especially) neorealism as it stands means almost precisely the opposite of what Lowry would have it stand for, I think that Lowry should give it some thought and try to find a new phrase.

May I suggest “neocon with a hangover”?

Save Neorealism.

I Hate Them So Much!!!!

[ 0 ] February 8, 2006 |

Shorter Mickey:

Sometimes my need to pretend I’m a Democrat conflicts with my visceral hatred of all actual Democrats.

In Defense of my (Weak) Defense of the Secretary of Defense

[ 0 ] February 7, 2006 |

Nick has called me out. That was quick…

Elsewhere, I must respectfully dissent from Robert Farley’s faint praise for Rumsfeld’s effectiveness at the Defense Department. His utter contempt for post-war contingency planning has left an insufficient number of soldiers in harm’s way with insufficient body armor or armored Humvees. The Military Police still don’t get enough respect to match their efforts in Iraq. Meanwhile, despite the obvious importance of the Army and Marines, procurement plans for the expensive F22 fighter and DD(X) destroyer go unchecked. I’m all for a strong defense, but I think we’ll have enough lead time to build new ships and planes should China suddenly get very bellicose. I Eeven the small things have gone wrong; DARPA has moved away from longer-term, blue sky research towards short-term work for defense contractors. The DoD continues to fight increases in pay and surivor benefits. And so on, and so on.

A couple of points to be made:

First, I didn’t (and didn’t intend to) defend Rumsfeld’s handling of the Iraq War. This is, and will in the future, be the central measure of his tenure, and he has failed utterly and repeatedly to handle the war in an effective fashion.

As for the DD(X), it replaced a previous advanced design that projected the construction of 32 ships. In 2001, the expectation was that 12 ships would be built. Now, the projection is 7, and there are serious questions as to whether more than the initial 2 will ever be constructed. This is hardly a vision of a program gone “unchecked”. Now, it could be reasonably argued that Rumsfeld has not played a crucial role in reducing the DD(X) program, but it can also be argued that he hasn’t pushed very hard for it. A similar story could be told about the F-22. The Clinton administration expectation for F-22 production was 339 aircraft. That number is now 183, and again may drop.

Now, it could be argued that Rumsfeld should have done a better job of killing these two programs, but is that terribly realistic? The Secretary of Defense is not an autocrat. He cannot simply kill defense programs. The services want the DD(X) and the F-22 badly. Their supporters in Congress want the DD(X) and the F-22 badly. Let’s not have unreasonable expectations about the capacity of a SecDef to do this job. Killing those programs is simply not on the table, at least not thus far.

On the question of pay and survivor benefits, I do not know enough about them to be able to comment usefully on the appropriateness of those critiques. It’s certainly possible that survivor benefits are too low, and that Rumsfeld is responsible. On the other hand, survivors will invariably request higher benefits, and Departments of Defense will invariably oppose such requests. This process does not necessarily indicate anything about competence. The question of pay is quite similar, except that it’s even more complicated. There are a fair number of people who argue that no military pay gap exists, or at least that other benefits (material and social) make up for that gap. In any case, the debate over military pay began in the 1990s, prior to Rumsfeld’s tenure.

A couple of final points: Nick argues that the Pentagon has erred in focusing more money toward short-term research projects, but it’s not clear to me that this is a mistake, given that the US is currently engaged in a couple of wars. Also, I am not nearly as willing as Nick to believe that the elimination of position of Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict is a bad thing; the elimination of a bureaucratic layer does not necessarily reflect a lack of interest in that project. AG says:

Here we have Rumsfeld pissed off at his SO/LIC policy office. For what, it’s hard to say, because USSOCOM is one of his favorite children. If I had to guess, I’d say that the ASD(SO/LIC) office has screwed the pooch in their failed attempts to come up with a successful combating terrorism strategy. Combined with the lack of ability to manage a counterinsurgency campaign in the Middle East and inability to articulate a combating WMD terrorism policy, maybe he lost patience and told The Dark Prince (Cambone) to fix it.

Really too interesting. Of course, the real funny stuff is that Rummie thinks he can imperially wave his hand and make this office disappear without Congress raising the issue with him.

Indeed, I find it very difficult to believe that Rummy has given up his infatuation with special ops or his more recent interest in low intensity operations. Again, I can’t argue conclusively that this is a good idea, but I can’t conclude that it’s a bad one, either.

Token Reds Blogging

[ 0 ] February 7, 2006 |


This year, it looks as if the Reds will trot out the worst defensive center fielder in baseball. He will be accompanied by the worst defensive right fielder in baseball. Fortunately, the Red also have terrible pitching and play in a hitters park, so it’s not as if I’ll notice.