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Best Miniseries

[ 0 ] February 18, 2006 |

I won’t fully engage, but any list of the best miniseries ever that doesn’t start with I, Claudius and the Dekalog isn’t worth the bandwidth it’s typed on…

[ 0 ] February 17, 2006 |

Friday Cat Blogging… Nelson and Starbuck

It’s an Honor just to be Nominated

[ 0 ] February 16, 2006 |

Will and David Weman point out that LGM has been nominated for best non-European weblog at Fistful of Euros. I’m not sure how that happened, and we currently seem to be trailing in voting 54-2, but we are honored nonetheless.

Thank you also for the several Koufax nominations we have received; LGM promises to make a good faith effort to engage in minimal negative campaigning before voting begins.

Civil War Scenarios

[ 0 ] February 15, 2006 |

Dan at Duck has posed a question in response to this awful series idea:

Thus, I ask readers to suggest better scenarios for a “Second Civil War.” I’ll suggest my own “formal” criteria, but feel free to take issue with me:

1. The issue–or constellation of issues–should be sufficiently polarizing as to (a) appear impossible to resolve through routine political processes or lesser forms of contentious politics and (b) draw a significant part of the US population into the pool of secessionists;
2. The polarization created by the issue should map onto other, long-standing disputes such that resolving the core issue (or issues) threatens other entrenched interests;
3. The balance-of-power has to have shifted against Federal power such that a great many secessionists–and potential secessionists–believe they have a chance of winning the conflict. This could result from exogenous shocks that weaken Federal power, structural changes in the American polity (a robust “New Federalism,” for example), fragmentation of the US military and its chain-of-command, or concerted outside support for the rebellion of a kind that the Feds cannot preclude or nip in the bud.

Scenario 1: Free Cascadia Now!

The militant wing of Evergreen Revolution, also known as the People’s Front for the Liberation of Cascadia, stages a coup designed to seize the levers of the state in urban areas across the Northwest. Unfortunately for the coup plotters, efforts fail in Seattle, Portland, and both Vancouvers, leaving the movement in control only of Eugene and Bellingham. The movement calls for a wide range of revolutionary social and environmental measures, but is crippled by its unwillingness to use any of the coercive apparatus of the state. Federal reaction is swift, but not swift enough to prevent locals from tearing the coup plotters to pieces in a bloody massacre. This outcome leaves everyone more or less satisfied.


Scenario 2:

2006: US military action against Iran successfully delays the Iranian nuclear program, but fails to dislodge Iran’s government. Occupation of parts of Iran, combined with increasingly violent Shiite sectors in Iraq, radically increases the cost of the occupation in both blood and treasure. Concern about oil security increases oil prices to over $100/barrel, severely damaging the US economy.

2008: Sam Brownback wins the Presidency in an election marred by violence and accusations of massive voter fraud.

2009: In the wake of the 2008 Olympics, a Chinese assault on Taiwan achieves complete operational surprise. Chinese forces quickly seize a beachhead and major strongpoints on Formosa. In spite of increasing isolationist sentiment at home (temporarily ameliorated by the aggressive Chinese actions), massive budget deficits, and continuing military action in Iraq, President Brownback decides to commit military force to the defense of Taiwan. The results are disastrous for the United States; US forces are unable to dislodge PLA units, and two US carriers (the Nimitz and the George Washington) are lost to Chinese submarines and surface units. After a coercive air campaign against the PRC government fails to budge the Chinese, President Brownback is forced to conclude a humiliating peace agreement with the PRC.

2010: Continuing trade sanctions against China cause severe economic dislocation in the United States and across the Pacific Rim. In the United States, the worst effects are felt on the West Coast. Chinese support for Iran and Iranian support for Iraqi insurgents results in an ever more deadly and expensive occupation. On the upside, the global economic crisis results in somewhat lower oil prices. Nevertheless, mega tycoon Hugo Chavez successfully purchases Colombia, Peru, and Panama.

2011: Under severe domestic and financial pressure, the United States withdraws from Iraq. The Iraqi government collapses in six weeks. Conservative media elements in the United States begin to pursue a “stab in the back” narrative, blaming the defeat on traitorous leftist elements and the Democratic party. Right wing death squads assassinate several important left wing media and political figures.

2012: In an election marred by brutal violence and massive fraud, President Brownback wins second term in office. In effort to create “national unity” cabinet, President Brownback nominate President Clinton as Secretary of State and President George W. Bush as Secretary of Defense. Sadly, President Clinton is assassinated by a right wing death squad before being confirmed by the Senate.

2013: The governors of Oregon, Washington, California, and Hawaii declare independence from the United States and establish the “Republic of Pacifica”. Large majorities in the Pacific states, impoverished by continuing trade disputes with China and angered by President Brownback’s administration, support the move. The Republic of Pacifica seizes control of military assets within its borders (reduced in size by the previous military and economic disasters) and begins to raise troops. The People’s Republic of China, nervous about supporting a secessionist movement but delighted by the idea of eliminating US military power in the Far East immediately recognizes Pacifica and promises economic and military support.

How’s that for plausible? Sends shivers up your spine, doesn’t it? ;)

Google Chat: Bane of My Existence

[ 0 ] February 15, 2006 |

It’s, uh, just great that I can now chat with anyone who’s online and has a gmail account. That’s going to be really helpful in my efforts to do, oh, anything.

That’s a Capital Idea…

[ 0 ] February 15, 2006 |

Frequent commenter Dittosfan has opened a new group blog, Capital Cadre. The focus is on defense issues, with a little Woody Allen. Check it out.

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.