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Further Indications that the World Has Changed

[ 16 ] May 14, 2008 |

The Chinese appear to be stealing an effective and marketable Russian weapon design; the Russian response is to threaten a lawsuit:

Russia is getting more and more upset at what it sees as Chinese making unauthorized use of Russian military technology. The latest irritation is the new Chinese diesel electric sub design, the Type 39A, or Yuan class. They look just like the Russian Kilo class…. The Russian sub building organizations are not amused, and are warning China of legal action if Yuans are offered for export (and in direct completion with the Kilos.)

Ah… I remember when this kind of problem was handled through bitter claims of ideological revisionism, dire threats of military action, and the rumbling of artillery along the Ussuri River. Now it all comes down to the lawyers…

Via Information Dissemination.

…Incidentally, we’re working on a paper on the intersection of intellectual property law and military procurement; if anyone knows a ton (or even a few pounds) about the issue, please drop me a line.

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Crude Stereotypes: Not Progressive

[ 60 ] May 14, 2008 |

Reading some comment threads about the now-meaningless WV primary, I feel compelled to quote the GOS:

To all you Obama supporters tempted to belittle or insult West Virginia, just remember how annoying it has been when the Clinton camp has done that to Obama states like Idaho and Utah and Mississippi. A 50-state strategy means just that. You don’t go around insulting states.

Speaking of Mississippi, this is indeed encouraging news.

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The Vote Fraud Fraud: Citzenship Requirements Edition

[ 0 ] May 14, 2008 |

The Times:

The Missouri legislature is, as Ian Urbina reported in The Times on Monday, on the verge of passing an amendment to the State Constitution that would require proof of citizenship from anyone registering to vote. In addition to the Missouri amendment, which would require voter approval, Florida, Kansas, South Carolina and other states are considering similar rules.

There is no evidence that voting by noncitizens is a significant problem. Illegal immigrants do their best to remain in the shadows, to avoid attracting government attention and risking deportation. It is hard to imagine that many would walk into a polling place, in the presence of challengers and police, and try to cast a ballot.

There is, however, ample evidence that a requirement of proof of citizenship will keep many eligible voters from voting. Many people do not have birth certificates or other acceptable proof of citizenship, and for some people, that proof is not available. One Missouri voter, Lillie Lewis, said at a news conference last week that officials in Mississippi, where she was born, told her they had no record of her birth.

This would seem to have the possibility to disenfranchise substantially more people than the Indiana law, with just as little connection to an actual problem.

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The Sacrifice We Make

[ 25 ] May 14, 2008 |

Like the President, I gave up golf in order to honor the sacrifice of our soldiers in Iraq. Last year, I gave up non-diet pop to honor our soldiers in Afghanistan. In 2006, I gave up fried cheese in order to honor our soldiers in Portugal. In 2005, I gave up Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas in order to honor our soldiers in Okinawa. In 2004, I gave up Rocky Mountain oysters in order to honor our soldiers in Germany. In 2003, I gave up reading Tom Friedman in order to honor our soldiers in Bahrain. In 2002, I gave up lutefisk in order to honor our soldiers in Cuba. In 2001, I gave up pheasant hunting for Lent; to be honest, that one was rather an easy sacrifice.

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Flash of the Blade

[ 0 ] May 13, 2008 |

I took a two-credit foil fencing class during my first semester of college. At least half of us, I imagine, were there because we’d listened to too much Iron Maiden in high school. To my surprise, fencing was absolutely the most grueling sport I’ve ever attempted; for someone like myself whose reflexes are substandard, fencing involves a tremendous amount of wild arm-flailing, all of which is supposed to be accomplished from a devastatingly painful semi-crouched position. During the end-of-the-semester tournament, I lost a 45-minute match to a guy who — being even more uncoordinated and violent than I — managed to snap a foil in half against my chest. (Matches, I should mention, typically don’t last more than a few minutes, and blades don’t typically break during routine play. When we approached the instructor to explain that we’d destroyed one, her only response was to ask, “Well, how the fuck did that happen?”)

Anyhow, I earned B for the semester, as the written exam also turned out to be impossibly difficult.

All of this is mere preface to this bit of insanity from Australia:

Bye-bye bingo, so long sewing. The old folk at this seniors’ home have found a new activity to sharpen their wits and tone their bodies – fencing.

The group at Melbourne’s Catholic Homes Corpus Christi, most of them retired priests and nuns, have spent the past nine months studying swordplay and are learning to leave their walking sticks behind and lunge like Zorro. . . .

About 16 residents older than 80, including 93-year-old Sister Delores Kirby, now take part in the Monday sessions.

Kirby, a retired nun from the Faithful Companions of Jesus order, said: “It’s very unusual at our age – it’s a challenge. I’m always a bit afraid I might fall over.”

I’ll bet she does.


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Presidential Statement of the Day

[ 0 ] May 13, 2008 |

Herbert Hoover, in a letter to Chesla Sherlock, managing editor of The Ladies’ Home Journal, 13 May 1932:

A home and the home owner are the best credit risks in our country. There is no character credit comparable to a family struggling to own its home. But finance of homes too often continues on terms comparable to the credit extended by a pawnbroker. The family willing to work, save their money, apply the savings to payment for their house is not only a sound basis of credit but a sound basis for the nation. Every interest in life ties them to maximum effort to succeed. They must have credit upon terms adjusted to their little of cash and their much of character.

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The Hillary Metaphors

[ 0 ] May 13, 2008 |

Good one from Pollak.

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Safe to Return to Supporting "Tort Reform"

[ 0 ] May 13, 2008 |

Bork settles frivolous lawsuit.

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GOP: Party of the Working Class?

[ 14 ] May 13, 2008 |

Via Roy Edroso, Ross Douthat claims that “the GOP is now a working-class party.” The linked article, as you might suspect, does little to actually substantiate the claim as it is riddled with obvious errors, such as ignoring the fact that donations need to be a minimum level to be reported, not accounting for the fact that Democrats have substantially more donations in total, etc. The key strategy, though, is to define “working class” by a series of arbitrarily chosen professions rather than by income, which is crucial. After all, when it comes to actual support at the ballot box Republican support consistently increases as income level does, and this has been the case since 1972.

Douthat anticipates the objection, saying that he’s using “class defined by education and culture more than income, just to be clear; there are plenty of skilled craftsmen who make more money than teachers and journalists and academics.” But while I can understand not wanting to reduce “class” solely to income, to count people with well-above-median incomes as “working class” is to distort the term beyond its usual meaning. Even more problematically, to define class by “culture” is just a straightforward tautology. I concede that if one defines people with reactionary cultural views as “working class” this makes the GOP much more working class, but obviously this isn’t a very useful definition.

I’ll have more to see about Larry Bartels’s fine new book later, but this also seems like a good time to mention his finding that people with high incomes are more likely to vote on cultural issues than people with lower incomes.

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[ 0 ] May 13, 2008 |

I finally picked up my copy of Rick Perlstein’s new book, which I’ve been looking forward to for a while. I was also happy to see it get the front-page slot in the Times book review, although it might have been preferable for the gig to go to someone other than skin care consultant Rowena syndicated columnist William F. George. Although I suppose once you consider the plausible set of “people Tanenhaus would choose to review a major new book by a liberal,” it could have been a lot worse…

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Presidential Statement of the Day

[ 39 ] May 13, 2008 |

Theodore Roosevelt, in a message to Congress following the eruption of Mont Pele on the island of Martinique, 12 May 1902:

One of the greatest calamities in history has fallen upon our neighboring island of Martinique. The consul of the United States at Guadeloupe has telegraphed from Fort de France, under date of yesterday, that the disaster is complete; that the city of St. Pierre has ceased to exist; and that the American consul and his family have perished. He is informed that 30,000 people have lost their lives and that 50,000 are homeless and hungry; that there is urgent need of all kinds of provisions, and that the visit of vessels for the work of supply and rescue is imperatively required . . . .

I have directed the departments of the Treasury, of War, and of the Navy to take such measures for the relief of these stricken people as lies within the Executive discretion, and I earnestly commend this case of unexampled disaster to the generous consideration of the Congress. For this purpose I recommend that an appropriation of $500,000 be made, to be immediately available.

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Open Mic Night

[ 15 ] May 12, 2008 |

I haven’t read enough Edward Luttwak to say for certain that he’s an unprincipled hack, but I know enough to be certain that his knowledge of Islamic law and religion is insufficient for the forum he’s been offered. His central premise is almost too laughable for commentary; he insists not only that Barack Obama not only would be unlikely to improve the standing of the US in the Middle East, but that a disputed fact about Obama’s religious biography — an irrelevance that matters only to non-Muslim American wingnuts — would motivate swarms of assassins into actions.

I won’t bother to psychoanalyze Luttwak’s fantasy here, since it would obviously be improper to suggest that he or anyone else dreams of Barack Obama’s violent death at the hands of religious zealots. But the fact that New York Times would publish what essentially amounts to a recycled Daniel Pipes column — originally published in Front Page Magazine, no less — is really goddamned pathetic.

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