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[ 0 ] November 2, 2009 |

Yglesias, in discussing the UK’s salutary anti-texting-while-driving laws:

This trend [in reduced fatalities from accidents] is great, and we should be trying to continue it. One way to do so is to get serious about the dangers involved in cell phone use, including texting, while driving. Since these technologies are new, we know for certain that people are perfectly capable of getting along in life without using mobile phones while driving their cars. We also know that using them is very dangerous. Under the circumstances, fairly harsh, well-publicized penalties are called for. This is a situation where deterrence really ought to work extremely well.

Really, legal intervention in a case in which people substantially endanger the lives of other people for a (usually trivial) gain in convenience shouldn’t be even mildly controversial.


Grand Pedro à Montréal

[ 0 ] November 2, 2009 |

Great stuff from Jonah Keri; it’s especially nice to revisit the hidden perfect game in San Diego. (I think the Expos had a leadoff runner on in the 9th but couldn’t get him home.) I will only add that 1)Showing the prescience for which am I justly famed I was not merely ambivalent about but strongly opposed to trading DeShields to get Pedro, and 2)while Sanders charging the mound after being hit by an 0-2 pitch 5 outs from a perfect game (I was at that one) is the best example of the “Pedro is a head-hunter” meme, I also enjoyed one post-unintentional-HBP scrum in which Pedro was extensively lectured by a cashing one-last-check Mark Davis. (Perhaps the lecture was titled “how to sign an enormous contract and immediately become the worst closer in baseball.”)

On Jeffrey Goldberg

[ 0 ] November 2, 2009 |

Indeed. And let’s not forget that he pushed fictitious Iraq/Al Qaeda connections almost as hard as Stephen Hayes himself. And, of course:

In five years, however, I believe that the coming invasion of Iraq will be remembered as an act of profound morality.

Proving, once again, that apparently your prestige as a pundit can never be reduced by saying dumb and/or erroneous things, as long as they’re in favor of war.

That Electoral Repudiation Was Just A Big Mistake!

[ 0 ] November 2, 2009 |

Shorter Col. Mustard: My meaningless cliches mean more than your actual evidence ever could! And the defeat of conservative politicians just proves the point that this is a country that completely rejects progressive politics and loves conservatives! And the fact that Obama is trying to implement the platform he ran on proves that he really put one over on the American public.

SRBMs Shifting Straits Balance Towards PRC?

[ 0 ] November 2, 2009 |

A few years ago, a student of mine worked out the implications of a large scale Chinese SRBM (short range ballistic missile) attack on Taiwan. He argued that the attack was, based on the historic resilience of regimes to coercion by air assault, unlikely by itself to break the will of the Taiwanese government to resist. It won’t surprise readers of this blog to learn that I agreed with this conclusion. However, he didn’t really go into the implications of a conventional ballistic missile attack launched against military targets on Taiwan, in particular Taiwan’s air bases and fighter aircraft. At Foreign Policy, David Shlapak has an article based on the recent RAND study he co-authored on the likely course and outcome of a PRC-Taiwan conflict. Shlapak argues that a preparatory ballistic missile assault on Taiwan would stand a very high chance of devastating the Taiwanese air force, and of giving China air superiority in any conflict. GPS guidance has rendered SRBMs radically more accurate, improving their ability to strike air bases and other military infrastructure.

Although I haven’t read the RAND study, the argument seems pretty compelling to me. I would suggest a few caveats:

  1. It seems highly unlikely that a PRC-Taiwan war would result from a surprise Chinese attack. Rather, Taiwanese forces would probably be at high alert. This means that a larger percentage of the fighter force would be aloft at time of attack. However, if the airbases themselves are rendered unusable, this doesn’t matter very much.
  2. Shlapak suggests that US air bases would also be vulnerable to Chinese SRBM or MRBM attack. While this is technically possible, I suspect the Chinese would be deeply reluctant to escalate the conflict through attacks on US targets, including airbases in friendly countries. While we couldn’t necessarily expect to have full freedom of action from Guam or elsewhere, I doubt that US forces would fall victim to a surprise attack.

Shlapak argues that dispersing assets, hardening shelters, and increasing missile defense capabilities are the only real options that the Taiwanese have. In this context, I concur with the last point; missile defense may be nearly useless in a strategic nuclear sense, but it’s helpful against a large scale conventional ballistic missile attack. However, SRBMs are cheaper than interceptors; it seems likely that the Chinese will simply be able to overwhelm any Taiwanese system with sheer numbers.

I think that the takeaway is this; there was a long window in which Taiwan was probably capable of preventing a Chinese invasion, even assuming no US intervention. That period is closed, or closing; the balance between Taiwan and China, sans the development of Taiwanese nuclear weapons, is moving inexorably in China’s direction. This does not mean that war is inevitable, as China has lots of fabulous reasons for not launching a war of conquest. I think that it does, however, mean that China has greater leverage over Taiwan on a whole host of issues of dispute between the two states. It also means that the United States faces a more difficult choice regarding its level of engagement if the PRC-Taiwan relationship goes hot.

Deep Thought

[ 0 ] November 2, 2009 |

It takes a hitter of the caliber of Pedro Feliz to homer off the greatest pitcher athlete in Yankee known human history.

UPDATE: Clearly, Slappy Rordriguez will never be able to hit in the clutch.

…More from Neyer.

Pundit’s Fallacy of the Day

[ 0 ] November 1, 2009 |

It’s indeed true that Galston not only doesn’t seem to talk to any economists, but apparently doesn’t talk to any other political scientists, most of whom would in fact tell him that making unemployment significantly worse in order to appeal to what voters answer about an abstract and isolated poll question would be an insane political strategy.

And All That…

[ 0 ] October 31, 2009 |

Go Ducks, go Phils, go have a safe and happy Halloween!

Open thread for all three…

Daddy Blogging (Special Saturday Edition)

[ 0 ] October 31, 2009 |

Available at an LGM-approved retailer near you.

By that standard, we’re all already everybody else.

[ 0 ] October 31, 2009 |

I understand from all my email that Jack Cashill has posted another Obama/Ayers article. I wonder what non-tendentious conclusions he’ll draw this time?

  1. Ayers and Obama both describe the crisis in the Chicago school system as “perpetual.”
  2. Ayers and Obama both complain about increasingly larger educational bureaucracies.
  3. Ayers and Obama both criticize the “status quo.”

In short, the liberal politician and the liberal academics both air liberal grievances. For some reason, Cashill finds this compelling. The reason, of course, is that Cashill’s not that bright. Need more proof?

  1. Ayers and a ’60s radical in Obama’s book both bitch about the Man.
  2. Ayers and a ’60s radical in Obama’s book both think education is a tool belonging to the Man.

Cashill is actually shocked by the fact that Bill Ayers, a ’60s radical, makes statements similar to those made by ’60s radicals. He believes the fact that Bill Ayers, a ’60s radical, and other ’60s radical use the same language to be incriminating.

He must be the only person to watch a Cheech and Chong movie sober and wonder, on account of them talking so similarly, whether they weren’t actually the same person.

Scozzafava Out

[ 0 ] October 31, 2009 |

Conservative third-party candidate knocks GOP nominee out of the race in NY-23.

I think we can be pretty confident that this won’t be followed by a series of claims about how Republicans are bad for having a “litmus test” on abortion, despite the fact that their position is the minority one…

The Tories and Europe: More of "What the Hell"?

[ 0 ] October 31, 2009 |

I was going to write something about this, but that’s too easy: the “drug czar” of the UK gets the sack for very publicly disagreeing with the Government’s drug policy, and terms Gordon Brown and the cabinet “irrational luddites”. He has a point, but it’s too simple to point out the hilarity of a Government, in its waning days, ignoring its chief scientific advisory panel on drugs. Could they be scrounging for votes instead?

Rather, I’m perplexed by this bit of amateur diplomatic tomfoolery. What the hell is Cameron playing at? First, partially through the hack handedness of the otherwise steady William Hague, shadow foreign minister, Tony Blair’s chances of being named the new EU President have faded dramatically. While it looks as though it is typical Euro-dithering that has led to the rejection of a Blair candidacy, it doesn’t help to have the opposition in your own country (and likely next Government) publicly reject you.
I have to admit, I don’t understand this for two reasons. First, why threateningly come out against one of your own citizens for the top job? It smacks of petty politics domestically, and in to the EU the threatening tone of Hague’s remarks instantly remind all and sundry of the not-exactly-cooperative approach adopted by earlier Tory administrations. Second, I don’t see the value in European leaders wanting a “chairman rather than a chief”. A recognizable, public face as the putative leader or figurehead representing the EU will help not only abroad, but within the EU itself. Not noted for its democratic transparency, distrusted by more than just the British, and perceived to be run by faceless Eurocrats in Brussels, such a “president” would help raise the profile of the EU within the EU.
Then the Tories did themselves no favors with Cameron’s recent stunt in writing a letter to the Czech president which appears to be encouraging the Czech president to delay being the final signatory to the Lisbon treaty until after a Tory election victory in (likely) May of 2010. It’s always sound to piss off, say, Sarkozy, Merkel, and José Luiz Rodríguez Zapatero, the latter of whom matters because Spain will hold the rotating EU presidency from January to July of 2010. The Tories will already have the lion share of the anti-EU vote in 2010, so I’m not too sure just what they’re playing at.