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Some Details on Chinese Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile Program

[ 0 ] September 17, 2008 |

Defense News (unfortunately, no link) has an article providing some additional detail on Chinese efforts to develop an anti-ship ballistic missile. The platform appears to be a DF-21 MRBM (Medium Range Ballistic Missile) which has a range of about 2500 km. The article confirms that terminal guidance of the missile remains the sticking point. A modern ballistic missile with GPS guidance is easily accurate enough to hit an aircraft carrier, but one of the advantages of aircraft carriers over islands is that they move; in the time that it would take to identify the carrier, give the order to launch the missile, and wait for the missile to arrive, the radius of action of a carrier at top speed makes a hit quite unlikely. Thus, the ballistic missile needs some kind of guidance system that will allow it to re-target the aircraft carrier once it re-enters the atmosphere.

The article indicates that the Chinese are aiming at having this capability by 2015. Whether that’s technologically feasible is unclear. Some comments at a previous post on this subject also make the point that China may lack the surveillance and satellite capacity to find carriers at sea in time to actually hit them with missiles; the Defense News article concurs, and notes that China is also making a big investment in such assets, although to date it’s capabilities are still insufficient.

The point of all of this is to increase China’s capability for deterring US intervention in a China-Taiwan dispute, intervention which would rely heavily on aircraft carriers. Anti-ship ballistic missiles are only one part of an arsenal (including air-to-ship missiles, ship-to-ship missiles, and submarines) intended to make the USN nervous about using its carriers anywhere near Taiwan, and consequently to make the US political leadership nervous about intervening. This doesn’t mean that the Chinese intend to seize Taiwan at any specific time in the future, but it does mean that the Chinese leadership believes that such a seizure may at some point be necessary.

Masters of the Universe to the Rescue

[ 44 ] September 17, 2008 |

This may be an extremely naive question — I’m sure it is — but how is it exactly that the U.S. government can essentially nationalize a firm with $100 billion in sales and one trillion dollars in assets in a matter of hours, with no legislative action of any kind other than a phone call to Harry Reid?

I mean do they just go to a big ATM or something?

As Atrios notes, in real dollars this rescue operation is more than 25 times larger than the infamous 1979 bailout of Chrysler, when both Congress and the presidency were in the hands of socialists, if I remember the history course I took from Newt Gingrich and Phil Gramm correctly.

That took an act of Congress. But in this wondrous new age everything — from multi-trillion dollar wars, to the sudden covert nationalization of whole industries (what justification will there be now for not bailing out the automakers, especially given their pension liabilities?) — goes straight onto the national credit card, with hardly any visible input or oversight from our elected officials.

Or, to put it another way, in America today profit is privatized but risk is increasingly socialized. It’s a form of crony capitalism that would make Russian oligarchs blush.

War Squishes Democracy

[ 4 ] September 16, 2008 |

Bad, but hardly surprising:

The Kremlin controls much of the Russian media, and Putin occasionally meets with friendly groups of senior journalists to answer questions and guide news coverage…. The message to the 30 or so media executives at the gathering was clear: With Russia occupying parts of Georgia and locked in perhaps its most serious conflict with the West since the Cold War, they should be especially vigilant against reporting anything that the government might find objectionable.

The media was under siege in Russia even before the war, but I suspect that this is part of a general relationship between war and media openness.

"We’d like to see more sunshine"

[ 0 ] September 16, 2008 |

These are worth another look in light of the week’s events.

Fan Mail

[ 67 ] September 16, 2008 |

In case you haven’t been reading enough about Sarah Palin, I have another piece up at the Minnesota Independent. Some people like it. Others, not so much:

Exhibit A:

Professor of History…with a liberal agenda, perhaps? I think we need to clean out our colleges and universities and get rid of the dead weight socialists/marxists/communists polluting the faculty.

Exhibit B:

Just another whining, everything is bad, liberal college teacher that cannot think or reason past his tunnnel vision outlook of life.

Exhibit C:

David Noon… you’re just another liberal leftist lunatic with a gripe at all your classmates who did an MBA and went on to become succesful managers and CEOs… while you sat and plodded your way around the library hoping your leftist ideals would manifest themselves in a divine form and save you from your miserable self…

such a pity… why dont you go to some socialist paradise and spout your moonbat nonsense there.

Hell you might even be made VP

And Exhibit D:

Another liberal inspired rant from a hopelessly narrow minded commie foot solder in a state funded position. YOU PEOPLE!

On another subject-when will so called objective minded journalists turn their attentions to investigating all of the college and university teachers and professors who have made a practice of exploiting vulnerable young women in grades for sex exchange?

Heh. Indeed.

Nuclear Families

[ 0 ] September 16, 2008 |

This is such an interesting article;I don’t know quite what to think of it.

The president of Switzerland stepped to a podium in Bern last May and read a statement confirming rumors that had swirled through the capital for months. The government, he acknowledged, had indeed destroyed a huge trove of computer files and other material documenting the business dealings of a family of Swiss engineers suspected of helping smuggle nuclear technology to Libya and Iran.

The files were of particular interest not only to Swiss prosecutors but to international atomic inspectors working to unwind the activities of Abdul Qadeer Khan, the Pakistani bomb pioneer-turned-nuclear black marketeer.

Read the rest. As far as I can understand, the CIA flipped a Swiss family that was acting as a conduit for nuclear know how and equipment to reach Libya and Iran. This family (a father and two sons) were part of the Khan nuclear smuggling network. When they ran short on funds, they decided to cooperate with the CIA and send faulty equipment to the Libyans and the Iranians. Swiss prosecutors assembled a large amount of evidence on the family, and planned to prosecute. The US government was extremely reluctant to have the details of the relationship out in the open (the files also contained sensitive data about how to construct parts of a nuclear weapons operation), and heavily pressured the Swiss government to either turn over the files or destroy them. The Swiss, apparently, have decided on the latter.

I guess… um… good job? You hate to see the destruction of evidence (both from a legal and a historical perspective), but I can’t argue with the purpose behind the CIA’s activity, or with its desire to keep elements of that relationship secret. Moreover, there should certainly be some incentive for members of nuclear smuggling networks to cooperate with authorities. It’s probably good that the Tinner family isn’t prosecuted; future cooperative individuals might be dissuaded if they knew that cooperation would produce a paper trail that might lead to home country prosecution. The ideal outcome would perhaps have been for the Swiss to grant some form of immunity, and to have kept the documents under lock and key after they had been examined by nuclear weapons inspectors.

All that said, this really does fit in the Bush administration approach to non-proliferation, which is based on the principle of unilateral action (intelligence and military operations combined with intimidation). I suspect it’s not accidental that the administration prefers destruction of the information to transfer of it to the relevant non-proliferation organizations. While that approach may pay some dividends at some times, it’s not a good long term strategy; international non-proliferation efforts have a remarkable record of success in the last forty years.

Please give a warm welcome to today’s new GOP presidential candidate: John McJennings Bryan

[ 0 ] September 16, 2008 |

24 hours ago one of McCain’s chief economic advisers announced that talk of serious economic trouble was all the fault of Barack Obama frightening everybody for crass political gain. This morning McCain wants a 9/11-style commission to investigate why greedy Eastern financiers have been allowed to rob America’s workers blind.

McCain on MSNBC: “I was talking about the fundamentals of America, which is the workers, their productivity, their innovation, their incredible performance for many, many years. And what I was saying is and it’s clear if you look at my remarks and that is that Wall Street has betrayed us. They’ve broken the social contract between capitalism and the average citizen and the worker. And workers are paying a very heavy price while a lot of them are not only emerging unscathed but some of them are left with packages of a hundred million dollars or so. This is a result of excess and greed and corruption. And that’s exactly what is plaguing Americans today. And we got to fix it and we’ve got to update our regulatory system. We have to have a 9/11 commission to find out what went wrong and to fix what’s going to happen in the future so this never ever happens again. And as president, I guarantee you, it will never happen again.”

I’m surprised the Cross of Gold wasn’t in there too.
Tomorrow: John McCain marries Rudy Giuliani in a Wiccan river ceremony and names Bootsy Collins Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Belated Recognition of the Obvious

[ 7 ] September 16, 2008 |

She’s been on a roll lately, but IB’s take on the new Richard Cohen column is one of her better lines:

He’s kinda like a kid who, upon discovering that there is no Santa Claus, attempts to locate the precise moment in time that Jolly St. Nick ceased to exist.

I suppose some people might be inclined to be charitable since he’s seen the light. But I’m inclined to simply agree with Brad DeLong, who correctly notes that “Richard Cohen’s fantasy McCain never existed–save in the mind of Richard Cohen, the journalist-as-puppy.” Everything unsavory about McCain’s current campaign, including the lying and flip-flops, were perfectly evident during the 2000 primaries. As Somerby recently put it:

For most of us, an obvious thought will come to mind when a person walks away from his stated principles; we’ll think he was perhaps pretending when he claimed these as his principles. In fact, McCain misstated the truth all through Campaign 2000, about George W. Bush and Al Gore. He had a major race-man running his South Carolina campaign; he made robo-calls about Bush in Michigan, then lied to the press corps about them. But the press corps was on this greatest saint’s side, and so they chose not to notice.

And precisely because of the bogus narrative of Saint McCain the press so carefully cultivated, these too-little-too-late departures from the Straight Talk Express are unfortunately unlikely to have much effect.

Is Sarah Palin a compulsive liar, or is she actually delusional?

[ 0 ] September 16, 2008 |

Increasingly, that seems to be the choice. The weird insistence on sticking to the obviously false claim about saying “thanks but no thanks” to the Bridge to Nowhere is beginning to look like a pattern. Tonight at a fundraiser in Ohio, she re-told an already debunked story about her teleprompter not working during her VP acceptance speech. That story was fed to righty blogs by McCain’s people on the night of the speech, and flew around the world a couple of times before being definitively shot down by a bunch of first-hand witnesses, who were watching the teleprompter during the speech.

The possibilities seem to be:

(1) There was a slight glitch in the teleprompter at some point that was so subtle that none of the journalists following the speech on the teleprompter noticed it, but Palin noticed it, mentioned it to the McCain people, and now two weeks later is still making a mountain out of a molehill because she’s enjoying the hero worship this kind of thing engenders.

(2) She got nervous during the speech and thought the teleprompter was malfunctioning at some point when it wasn’t. Otherwise, same as (1).

(3) She’s a sociopath and made the whole thing up.

I guess we’ll find out, especially if she becomes president . . .

At least there are some signs that some of the media are beginning to get uncomfortable with the possibility of somebody who may be sort of nuts may get to run the country without ever holding a press conference or answering a real question from a real journalist.

Richard Wright RIP

[ 0 ] September 16, 2008 |


[ 0 ] September 15, 2008 |

The fairy tale continues:

“The important thing is she’s vetoed a half a billion dollars in earmark projects — far, far in excess of her predecessor and she’s given money back to the taxpayers and she’s cut their taxes, so I’m happy with her record,” McCain said.

Um, the answer to all of these would be “no.”

(1) Palin vetoed $231 million in 2007; many of the items were renewed for the 2008 budget, which Palin chopped by $268 million. Sure, that might look like $500 million, but when you consider that funding was restored for many of those projects, while others were vetoed two years in a row, you come up with a significantly smaller figure. And when you consider the fact that Palin signed the two largest state budgets in Alaskan history — the latter of which was plumped by a windfall revenue tax on the oil companies — the math looks even sillier. Speaking of which….

(2) Palin has not “given back money to the taxpayers” because the state does not collect significant amounts of revenue from taxpayers. We have no state income tax; what little the state does receive from ordinary schlubs comes from regressive taxes on alcohol, cigarettes, and gambling. In fact, however, he vast proportion of state revenue comes from the oil companies and the federal government. When the legislature passed an energy rebate this summer, giving eligible state residents a one-time $1200 payment, they were able to do so only because of rising oil prices and because of the new, higher taxes the state had levied on resource extraction. It’s simply not true that the state “returned” money to the people.

(3) While it’s true that the state suspended its 8-cent gas tax for a year, it’s also true that Alaskans pay the highest gas prices in the country right now. And while gas prices have dropped in recent weeks, the reduction has pretty much tracked with the national declines — which is to say, the suspension of the gas tax has been, as everyone who knows what they’re talking about will tell you a nice gift to the oil companies.

Everything is Feminism

[ 46 ] September 15, 2008 |

Cathy Young has an attempted feminist defense of Sarah Palin (endorsed, natch, by Ann Althouse.) The fundamental problem with the argument is that there’s no inherent value to having lots of people call themselves feminists, per se. The point is to get people to endorse feminist principles, and on this count Palin’s record is utterly dismal, at least the way most people would define feminism. Young and Althouse are welcome to try to argue that feminism can encompass forcing (poor) women to carry pregnancies to term, imposing a effective tax on rape victims, and interpreting laws in ways that make it easier for businesses to pay women less for the same work (even if your interpretation is manifestly contrary to the purpose of the statute and not compelled by its language.) But somehow I’m guessing most feminists aren’t going to find the Palin vision of feminist policy very attractive.

It’s also unclear in what way the pork-begging, culturally reactionary Palin in any way represents “can-do” feminism free from government assistance, as Young claims. Is it perhaps the substantial per diem she gets from the government to help her feed her family at home? Does it only count as government support if you aren’t already affluent?