Friday, January 10, 2003

The Prisoner's Dilemma

Multiple personalities are entitled to multiple Miranda warnings.
Send Smarter Lawyers, Bigger Guns and More Money

Senator Max Baucus (D-Montana) thinks the best way to stimulate the economy is give states a free, one time payment of $75 billion:

"A majority of states across the nation are facing large budget deficits this year," Baucus said. "My bill would provide immediate stimulus that would help states balance their budgets, re-hire laid off workers and provide assistance to critical state programs."

Assume for a moment this is a good idea and actually happens. On just what, do you suppose, the Democrats would blame this additional $75 billion in deficit spending? Bush's "leadership" for helping the states or, just maybe, on a "massive tax give-away to the richest one percent of the American people"?
Send Lawyers, Guns and Money

In a more just world, Gray Davis could build seventy-five foot bronze statues to himself like the Great Leader himself, Kim Jong-Il, declare himself the God Emperor of California and save the Republican party the trouble. There won't be a useful opposition.

But something caught my ear --- I only let Governor Davis offend one sense at a time --- in his State of the State Speech:

In the months that followed September 11th, no state in America did more to protect its people and vital assets. State and local law enforcement have answered our nation's call without question and without hesitation - but they shouldn't have to do it without compensation. So, tonight, I call upon the President and Congress to fully fund the cost for all 50 states of defending our freedom here at home.

And he's right. One of the great Republican rallying cries of the early 1990s was an effort to ban Unfunded Mandates --- the practice of the Federal government forcing states to pay for Federal government programs --- the Enron off-balance sheet partnerships for the Midnight Basketball crowd. The Unfunded Mandate Reform Act of 1995 exempted almost everything, of course, not least then-existing mandates.

But the principle is worth defending. If the Federal Government (now Republican) thinks the states are the best to carry out Homeland Security, and forces local police to work overtime or buy an extra bomb-sniffing dog, the Federal Government ought to pay for it.

Thursday, January 09, 2003

The East Is Red

The Chinese have put down their marker on the pass line. They'll take no big risks in the next few years as they develop some manned spaceflight experience. But I'm guessing -- and I have no information about this -- that the Chinese are going to push to do a circumlunar flight in time for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The Chinese, for all the propaganda reasons Russia sent up Yuri Gagarin in 1961 and Armstrong and Aldrin landed on the moon in 1969, want an indigenous manned space program. They have excellent rocket technology -- technology we keep telling them not to sell to the Pakistani, among others -- so this doesn't have the ICBM "throw-weight" subtext of the Cold War. But they want to be a Superpower and a proper superpower has cosmonauts.

So the Chinese have declared their desire to put a man in space this year (their cosmonauts are styled "taikonauts" by the English press in Singapore and Malaysia and the excellent Go Taikonauts! website, but are officially the more difficult "yuhangyuan" ("man-space navigator" I think)) and put one on the moon by about 2015. Since 1999, they have put four unmanned Shenzhou ("Divine Vessel") space capsules in orbit --- the latest in December 2002. They have now commited themselves to putting their first taikonaut into orbit this year. The program is measured, but still ambitious. And there's no reason to think they'll fail.

But what then? There certainly is the official word that they will build some sort of small space station, much smaller than the International Space Station, to be sure, and likely on par with the early, pre-Mir, Salyut space stations. They'll do that, but that's going to be good for domestic politics, but I think they'll still get a big yawn from the rest of the world.

Once you can into orbit, the moon isn't all that hard, if you don't want to land on it. While our first mission, Apollo 8, used the very large Saturn V to go there in December 1968, we could have gotten there sooner by launching a Gemini and docking it with a Centaur upper stage booster, like this. The propaganda, I think, would be quite stunning if their first Taikonaut greeted the Opening Ceremonies from lunar orbit.

Just a hunch. But you heard it here first.

North Korean "Joy Brigades" and South Korean "Comfort Girls"

You'd think a country that was the victim of vicious, institutional, assembly-line prostitution at the hands of the Japanese Imperial Army (the "Comfort Women") would be a little more critical of a supposed fellow-countryman who brings in attractive junior high school girls to "entertain" his Army Officer Corps.

"There are other strange details about [Kim Jong-Il], according to Dr. Post. "He's recruited these 'joy brigades,' where he finds these attractive young women as early as junior high to entertain senior officials." Kim Jong Il also lives in a seven-story "pleasure palace," Post says, "and sees himself as a great creative force"

(I'm guessing that "entertain" isn't short-hand for the North Korean sport of propaganda card-flipping (Scroll down toward the end).)

But as Instapundit points out, South Korea has a whole bunch of reasons to prop up this horrible regime in North Korea. Hit up Instapundit and his link to the always terrific Howard Kurtz.