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May 31, 2004

A Crazy Idea for a Boring Day

It's a slow news day and everyone's got memorial day pretty well covered, so just to fill in with something here's a silly idea I had.

There has been considerable debate at many levels about the aircraft mix being flown by the Navy. We’ve retired the A-6 and A-7, and soon the F-14’s are also going the way of the dodo bird. That will leave the Navy with little aside from the F-18 to cover the majority of combat roles that naval aviation may be tasked to provide. Fortunately the F-18 is great aircraft, but it does lack a bit of range, and that's what's worrying some people. Here’s a basic rundown on the history of the problem, and an insane solution I’d like to suggest.


During the Vietnam era the Navy was flying the F-4 Phantom, A-6 Intruder, and the A-7 Corsair II. The F-4 was replaced by the F-14 Tomcat, which could essentially do the job of four F-4’s. When Congress asked the Navy why they couldn’t just buy four times as many F-4’s instead of the F-14s, given that the F-14 cost more than four times as much as the F-4, the Navy replied that they would need four times as many aircraft carriers to provide sufficient parking space. So the Navy got the F-14.

                     F-4 Phantom                                 A-6 Intruder

                     A-7 Corsair II

So for over a decade the Navy flew the F-14, the A-6, and the A-7. The A-7 was getting long in the tooth, and the Navy looked at the Northrop YF-17 which had lost the Air Force lightweight fighter competition to the F-16. The YF-17 looked like the better option to the Navy since it was a twin engine fighter, something they greatly prefer for their operations. The Navy needed a slightly larger aircraft with a longer range, so the YF-17 was scaled up to create the F/A-18 Hornet, a combination fighter and attack aircraft, its chief advantages being high performance compared to the A-7 and low cost compared to the F-14. So through the 80’s we flew a mix of F-14s, A-6s, A-7s, and F-18s.

                    F-14 Tomcat                                      F/A-18 Hornet

Then we retired the A-7, so the Navy flew the F-14, A-6, and F/A-18, with the F-14 handling the long range intercepts, the A-6 handling the long range deep strike mission, and the F/A-18 handling combat and attack missions closer in, or further out with the help of refueling tankers. But the A-6 is a purely subsonic aircraft, and although blessed with long range and payload (comparable to a B-17 in most respects aside from speed) it’s not sufficiently survivable against opposition offered by modern fighters, and the A-6s were getting very old and expensive to maintain. To update the fleet’s capabilities the Navy pursued an aircraft called the A-12, which was to be a long range replacement for the A-6 with stealth capabilities, much like a smaller version of the B-2 bomber. However, the A-12 program hit financial and development problems and crashed and burned like an F-105 (the Thud) hit by ground fire, ending in ugly lawsuits, and leaving the Navy without an equivalent replacement or upgrade to the A-6. Despite many cries of protest, the A-6 was finally retired from service in 1990’s.

This left the Navy with a small gap in long range bombing capabilities, which distressed some in the Navy, but there was no way to get another totally new attack aircraft through Congress. Many argued that with the Soviet Union gone the Navy air role would likely involve littoral combat near the coasts of unstable third world countries, and that the capabilities of an aircraft like the A-6 would probably not be required. The Navy did receive proposals to convert existing F-14Ds into long-range attack aircraft, since the F-14 had plenty of undeveloped potential in the air-to-ground role. By adding extra hard points for bombs the F-14 can be used like a mini B-1 bomber, and could be further optimized for such a role if the Navy felt the need for long-range deep strike was sufficiently important. However, the F-14s are also quite old, and the resulting maintenance problems would limit such a solution to a stop-gap lasting no longer than the F-14’s existing airframes, which are flying with quite a bit of fatigue on them.

The solution chosen by the Navy was to increase the range and payload of the F/A-18 by building a new and bigger F-18, called the F/A-18E Super Hornet. The F-18E was an absolutely ingenious way to sidestep the decade of development most new aircraft designs demand while still providing a good degree of certainty that it would fulfill its requirements, which it has. The Navy is buying very large numbers of the new F/A-18E, which has about 25% more thrust and wing area than the F/A-18. The F/A-18E has had some teething problems, but compared to most new aircraft development it has gone very smoothly. Still, whereas the F/A-18A and C had about a 360 nm combat radius for a strike mission, the F/A-18E in comparison still only has about a 520 nm combat radius. This is a little over half that of the A-6, but of course the A-6 can’t defend the carrier against air attack or maintain air superiority. The A-6 also can't carry its full weapons load at these ranges. The F-18E does have a very versatile weapons load-out, and actually looks rather favorable in comparison to the A-6 in such regards. Here are some further arguments in the Super Hornet's favor.

Along comes 9/11 and we find the Navy using the F-14s as long range bombers in Afghanistan, refueling them once in route and having them strike targets all the way into the north of the country. The smaller F/A-18, however, could only fly as far as Kabul while carrying half the F-14’s bomb load. We again needed those old A-6s for the specialized role requiring payload and long range. The F-14s were filling in admirably, but we only have about 150 of them left, and those are slated for retirement. They are just too old to keep flying without major rework. This will leave the Navy in an interesting predicament, as the carrier decks will have almost nothing but F/A-18’s and F/A-18E’s. Some in the Navy take this lack of range so seriously that they have suggested making every fourth or fifth F-18E into a special F-18E tanker to refuel all the other F-18Es. Apparently the need to retain the deep strike capability is viewed as quite important in naval circles, or they wouldn’t be suggesting such fixes. And their backs are against the wall because they

The Problem

So now to get to the heart of the problem, which is that the F/A-18 has about twice the thrust of the older A-6, and the F/A-18E far more, but can’t match it for both payload and range because of the F-18's small thin wing, which is designed for supersonic combat performance. The limitation certainly isn’t thrust, since the Super Hornet has well over twice the thrust of the older A-6. The wing area would have to change to get the heavy payload and range out of the F/A-18. Yet we can't change the wing on the Hornets without seriously compromising its performance in other areas of the flight envelope. The choice of a wing is a compromise, and a wing that optimizes one aspect of performance will be de-optimizing others. So we're going to have to get clever if we're to squeeze more out of the Super Hornet.

The Tomcat doesn't have much more thrust than the Super Hornet, but it uses the interesting aeronautical trick of having a sweep-wing. With the wings extended, the F-14 has a broad wingspan, and a large wingspan reduces induced drag. Induced drag is the drag component which comes from those vortexes rolling off the tips, which is why sailplanes always have such slender, broad wings. The crucial term is span loading, meaning the load divided by the wingspan, in pounds per foot or other units. But there are other benefits to variable geometry. When swept, the chord, relative to the airstream, is longer from lead edge to trail edge, and so even though the wing retains the same thickness, it is relatively much thinner with respect to the chord, meaning the air doesn't have to get around that thickness quite so abruptly. So the span and area not only reduce, but the apparent thickness of the airfoil section reduces too. On top of all that, of course, the wing becomes swept which helps in supersonic flight.

So if you put all this together you get one of the reasons why the Tomcat could cruise all the way to northern Afghanistan carrying a large bomb load. To also get supersonic performance the Tomcat’s wings sweep back, so in effect the Tomcat is using a set of different wings to meet the different roles, which is a very nice trick. It can be optimized in flight for a couple different areas of the flight envelope.

An Odd Aerodynamic Trick for the Hornets.

There’s no way to pull a similar trick on the Hornets, or is there? Obviously we can’t really touch the design of the Hornets without seriously degrading supersonic combat performance, yet an airliner-style subsonic wing would better optimize it for the long-range deep strike missions. Instead of replacing its existing wing with another one, which isn’t feasible, how about attaching a second wing to hard points underneath and converting the F-18 to a temporary biplane? The idea would be to increase the lift so the Hornet can get massively greater payloads into the air, and then use the aid of the second wing to cruise out to the target with a long range subsonic mission profile just like the A-6. Once nearing the target, or in any situation that warrants, the second wing is dropped just like an external fuel tank and we’re back to having a full performance F/A-18 rolling in on a mission.

In essence, the extra wing would be dropped immediately prior to maneuvering into the strike phase of the mission. This leaves the F-18 fully loaded with fuel and weapons while at the target end of the mission, as if the F-18 just took off fully loaded very close to the target area, having merely to complete the strike and then make the long flight back home to the carrier.

So suppose we design a detachable wing for the F/A-18 having about the same wing area as the existing wing. The wing doesn’t need any control surfaces and can even be designed for only a 3G limit like a commercial transport, since the idea is to simply convert the F/A-18 into a temporary long range transport on the outbound leg of a strike mission. We're making it a temporary transport plane. The extra fuel for the outbound leg is in the thick new wing, which is attached to hard points that are already plumbed for external fuel tanks anyway, so hopefully no design changes at all are required to the aircraft. We’re just attaching a really bizarre drop tank to a hard-point that’s already designed to withstand some pretty tremendous forces. The only change to the aircraft might be some software updates to tell the fight computer that it the flight envelope is restricted with the extra wing, along with some extra parameters to reflect the aircraft's altered aerodynamics.


Let’s look at what would a second wing do for the lift. The limiting factor on an aircraft’s maximum weight is of course the lift from the wing. The wing’s lift is given by the formula L=1/2*rho*S*Cl*V2. In English units L is lift (in pounds of force), rho is air density (0.002378 slugs/cubic foot at sea level), S is the wing area (in square feet), Cl is the coefficient of lift (more about that later, but it usually runs between +-1.2 or so, more as you add flaps and slats), and V is the velocity in feet per second. The Hornet has a wing area of 400 square feet (500 square feet for the Super Hornet), so at sea level and 200 mph (283.3 fps) with a lift coefficient of 1.0 the wing provides 40,922 lbs of force. At a given altitude and velocity, the only way to lift more weight is to either increase the coefficient of lift or increase the wing area. We’re doubling the wing area, but losing a little bit of the gains to interference effects between the two wings.

If we go through some old NACA tables from the 1930’s we can get a pretty good estimate of what such a configuration could provide. At maximum load the F-18E wingtip is 7.8 feet off the deck, so if we put the lower wing within two feet of the deck we could get a gap of about 5.5 feet or so, which is about half the average chord (distance from the front to the back of a wing) of an F-18E. So the Gap/Chord ratio is approximately 0.5. The camber (bend) of the F-18 wing is adjustable, so my numbers here will be a bit crude, but it looks like the biplane configuration should work fine with a maximum wing loading of about 110 lbs/sq foot, slightly less than the 126 lbs/sq foot of the monoplane configuration. If I get a bit conservative and say it will lift 100 to 110 lbs/sq foot then the total lift is increased by 58% to 74%. That gives us a huge increase in maximum takeoff weight. And almost all of that weight is bombs and fuel, probably fuel given the limits on existing hard points.


Don’t worry too much about the drag because the Hornets have thrust to spare to provide supersonic performance; plus we’re burning fuel that it couldn’t have otherwise carried anyway. In addition, for the same span and load a biplane actually has less induced drag than a monoplane, since each wing is working at a far lower coefficient of lift. The reason we went to monoplanes is that by slightly increasing the monoplanes' wingspan its induced drag can be lowered to the same level as the biplane, and without all the interference and struts and such. Biplanes are great for lifting things but tend to have a high parasitic drag, and when our chief limitation was on thrust and our chief goal was speed, the biplane was a bad choice. In this case we’ve got thrust to spare, a deck area limitation on wingspan, no particular speed requirement, and our chief goal is payload. Since the wing is dropped as soon as its drawbacks outweigh its benefits, its addition is simply a plus.


However, we need to make sure the wings worst case lift and drag won’t overstress the mounting pylons and other such questions. If we’re running at a coefficient of lift of 1.2 on the lower wing, it’s induced drag coefficient is given approximately by CL2/(pi*AspectRatio), where aspect ratio is the wingspan divided by the average chord, or distance from leading edge to trailing edge. Sailplanes have huge aspect ratios, often 12:1 or more, whereas stubby fighters have very small ones. Anyway, for a Super Hornet at a maximum launch weight of 65,900 lbs and 155 kts, the lift coefficient is at 1.6, which is extremely high. The induced drag on its 500 sq foot wing will be around 9,600 lbs. The total drag won't nearly double this. The steam catapult currently in use starts off with about a 6 G acceleration, lessening as the launch progresses. The central fuel tank holds 480 gallons, or about 3200 lbs. So the force on the pylon during a catapult shot could peak at about 20,000 lbs. So the center pylon looks strong enough to handle the drag component.

The lift component may present serious stress problems, since the lift from the wing might exceed what a single pylon is designed for to withstand in compression. For example, if 40,000 pounds of force where on just the central pylon, the load would be equivalent to that 3200 pound central fuel tank while the aircraft pulled 12 G's negative. And this is the load when the aircraft is at 1G, not the 3G limit for a transport aircraft. So the force needs to be more distributed, possibly across the central pylon and two outboard pylons, which unfortunately would reduce the weapons load. And this still means that at 3 G's all three pylons are still likely overstressed. A better place to carry the load would be having the second wing apply force to the existing landing gear location, which is already strong enough to support the entire aircraft while slamming into the carrier deck. However this might mean the landing gear would have to remain down to allow an attachment or load bearing contact that can't be transmitted through the landing gear doors. But if you leave the gear down the aerodynamics are horrible and you can't drop the wing without snagging the gear. The airframe around the gear is possible strong enough to withstand the force if it was presented as a distributed load, which would have to be investigated structurally.

In short, the pylons can take the drag but possibly not the lift. The gear locations can certainly take the lift if there's a way to transfer the forces in this area, but this area is also the most difficult part of the design. It might be possible to pull this off, it might not. So of course this whole idea is contingent on a big "maybe".


Currently the maximum weight of the F/18 is around twice the empty weight. A second wing allows us to up the maximum weight by somewhere from 50% to 75%. Even at 58% this means the actual payload of the F-18 (maximum weight minus empty weight) more than doubles, with a maximum weight now at 104,000 lbs instead of about 64,000. Since we’re merely taking off with this weight the wheels and landing gear should handle it, since they are designed for slamming into a carrier deck, even though we’ve likely exceeded their design loads, which include these landing loads. The catapult might be a limitation, since a fully loaded Tomcat only weighs 72,000 lbs, however we’re replacing all the steam catapults with 2 Megawatt linear motors capable of launching a 100,000 lb aircraft at 200 knots. So let’s assume the new design is flyable and launchable.


Since the Super Hornet can already conduct a strike missions over a 500 nm radius in a high-lo-lo-high mission, the plane is already flying 1000 nm on existing internal and external fuel, while carrying a load of ordnance on the outbound leg. Since the extra wing will provide the fuel for the outbound leg, and the payload is dropped on the target, the radius of strike missions should increase to around 1000 nm, doubling the strike radius and getting us four times the area of coverage as we’d otherwise have with an all F-18 deck. And if you really got crazy you might try hanging about 40,000 lbs of bombs off of it instead of fuel, thought I can’t think of a particular target where they’d need to be doing this. But it’s nice to know the capability might be there, if the challenges of providing all the extra hardpoints can be overcome, although at some point you're simply carrying more external ordnance than aerodynamically wise.

Storage and Design

The extra drop-wings could be stuffed into any nook and cranny on the carrier, and need only be used if the Navy finds itself with a target that’s otherwise outside the normal range of the Hornets, so they certainly wouldn’t be used for common missions. They’re just an expedient enhancement useful in a limited range of situations where the target is outside the new range of a carrier strike. Design them to be simple, cheap, and overbuilt, since carefully optimizing them would only result in allowing the F-18 to fly out so far that it couldn’t make it back. We’re basically talking about a crappy WW-II or Korean War era wing, probably with no moveable surfaces. Ideally a prototype experiment would be designed by graduate students on laptops and put together by a guy named Bud with a Miller welder. As long as the program doesn’t become an F/A-18 enhancement requiring thousands of engineer hours and simply remains a bizarre drop tank experiment it should be cheap as dirt to develop, as aviation equipment goes. As an added bonus, not all the drop tanks need to be full sized, since a wide variety of mission capabilities can be toyed with. Some could be full span, some merely the width of the Hornet's folded span for easier set up on a packed carrier deck. All types of configurations are possible, and since the wings are throw aways there’s not much reason not to try out a multitude of different designs, exploring the limits of low-cost throw-away construction.

Since this is for a naval application dropping large wings isn't a problem, since they're falling into the ocean instead of on people's houses. A standard external fuel tank has a pretty predictable impact point when you drop it, unlike a fluttering wing, which may be yet another reason, aside from cost, that this bizarre method hasn't been used before. The Navy faces a greater logistical problem with heavy refueling tankers, and just increasing aircraft range might have greater relative benefits for them as opposed to the Air Force.


There are a host of drawbacks to the idea. Interference drag will likely be fairly high, though as previously noted we have thrust to spare and we're burning fuel that otherwise couldn't be carried. Other drawbacks to fielding such a drop tank are having the people on deck wheeling around large wings in high winds, a recipe for disaster if the wing isn’t mated to a heavy cart. You also have to have a release mechanism which must shift the wing to a negative angle of attack for release, otherwise you'd "release" it but the plane would just keep sitting on the wing, since the wing is still providing positive lift. The release mechanism is probably the most critical component, since as long as you can immediately jettison the wing and the extra payload it allowed, you’re still well within the flight envelope of the unassisted F-18 and recovery from any problem should be fairly simple.

F18EgearThe other major drawback is trying to figure out how to make a drop wing not interfere with the landing gear while still having some structural integrity. The biggest risk comes at takeoff when the gear is down and the wing can't be jettisoned without risking snagging the gear. Other drawbacks are that everyone might laugh at the idea of using a biplane, and having flying scarves come back in fashion. There's also the cost involved, since a refueling tanker doesn't involve disposing of a wing, however cheaply it's built.

Normally crazy ideas like this are immediately rejected, since an ugly but cheap performance enhancement to an existing aircraft is often used as justification to cancel funding on a new aircraft far more suited to the specific role that's being addressed by the proposed enhancement. However in this case there’s no hint that a new long range attack aircraft will be forthcoming, since even the future F-35 lacks the combination of long range and payload. That's why they call it an 'F' instead of a 'B' or an 'A'. There's also a need to have the long range bomber role filled, and this might allow the Hornets to act a bit more like a medium bomber that automatically converts back to a fighter halfway through the mission. Another way to think about it is that it's merely using the staging concept common to rocketry, and the aircraft drops a wing and a tank instead of an engine and a tank. In either event, there's some advantages to the idea, but I really have doubts as to whether anyone would go for such a strange configuration.

The final question is what to name such an odd idea. Obviously you wouldn’t want to call it a biplane lest other services laugh at it. Maybe X-wing or I-wing would be more fitting. Nevertheless, the final name is almost a certainty. During the Vietnam era when the Navy was flying Grumman A-6 Intruders and Douglas A-1 Skyraiders they called them the “Spud” and a “Spad”. The Spad of course was a WW-I biplane, and it rhymes with “Spud”, which is a good comparison between the front end of an A-6 and a potato. Given that the piston-engine plane was nicknamed the “Spad”, in reference to a previous bi-plane, a Super Hornet in this bizarre biplane launch configuration would inevitably be called the “Super-Spad”.

                A-1 Skyraider "Spad"                   F/A-18E "Super Spad"

And that's my stupid idea for the day. Maybe tomorrow I'll note that a biplane on a space shuttle would mean that the lower wing has all the heat absorbing tiles while the upper wing is spared from most of the heat of re-entry. You might be able to double wing area while not increasing the weight as much as with a monoplane that has twice the bottom area, and thus about twice the heat shield weight. I haven't crunched through the math on that one, though, and it might be a non-starter.

May 31, 2004 in Science | Permalink | Comments (25) | TrackBack

Al Qaeda Threatens Italy

The throat slitters are still at it, as this article points out.

Rome - Stinging comments directed at Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and attributed to al-Qaeda were widely reported in the Italian press on Monday, just days ahead of a visit to Rome by United States President George Bush.

The message, posted on an Internet site and attributed to Abdel Aziz al-Muqrin, the head of al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia, claims responsibility for the bloody weekend siege at a housing complex in the eastern Saudi oil city of Al-Khobar, in which 19 foreigners and three Saudis were killed.

It says: "Among the crusaders killed there was also an Italian, whose throat was slit as a gift for the Italian government and its leader, a little stupid and arrogant, who is proud of his hostility towards Islam and of having sent troops to fight Muslims at wars like in Iraq and other countries."

Now what kind of comments did the Agence France Presse writer consider these to be? The opening phrase was "stinging comments". Yes, the French consider someone bragging about slitting Italian throats as just making "stinging comments", as if they're landing debate points against those who side with America and all of Western Civilization, a group that seems less and less likely to include France.

The Italian, 25-year-old Antonio Amato, had recently been hired as the head cook at the upmarket Oasis housing compound in Al-Khobar. He had his throat slit along with eight other foreigners.

His death came a day after the funeral of Fabrizio Quattrocchi, a contractor who was abducted and killed two weeks ago in Iraq, where Italy has 3 000 troops in the US-led coalition.

The foes of freedom seem to have a penchant for kidnapping civilians and slicing their throats, if not outright decapitating them, yet the French seem to delight in their behavior. You'd at least think the French would feel some sympathy for a murdered chef, but this is probably too much to ask from a people so lost into paranoia and anti-Americanism. They probably just note that America has lots of Italian immigrants so Italians must just be some sort of proto-pro-American anyway.

Sergio Romano, a former ambassador, wrote in an editorial in the Corriere della Sera daily on Monday: "Whoever used this attack to address threats to the government has very likely followed the news in Italy. He knows that a large section of the political class disapproves of the presence of our troops in Iraq.

"He knows that Bush's visit could provoke hostile demonstrations. He knows that the country was very taxed by the death of Fabrizio Quattroccchi and the soldier Matteo Vanzan, and that mourning for them caused a lot of emotion. And he thinks Italy, more than other countries, is especially vulnerable."

That large section should note that they're dealing with predators that prey on the weak, and by making their nation look weak they make their fellow countrymen targets. By pandering for peace they're just enboldening killers. There's a reason peace against thugs is rarely achieved by weeping willows and frail reeds, but instead is won by people who stand firm and don't flinch from the worst horrors that trolls and butchers perpetrate in dark shadows. You can't appease these killers because they inhabit their own fantasy world and you can't surrender to them because they merely seek absolute power built on a pile of your bones.

May 31, 2004 in War | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 30, 2004


Sorry about the light posting. Kentucky is getting hit by wave upon wave of thunderstorms and tornadoes. It'll be going on till Monday morning. Dodging and ducking them so far, with a few very close calls. I hate tornadoes.

May 30, 2004 in misc | Permalink | Comments (12) | TrackBack

Memorial Day

Russ at TacJammer has been doing a great job of compiling links to wonderful Memorial Day posts. You need to check it out. It's your one stop linkage headquarters for this weekend.

May 30, 2004 in Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

WaPo on Kerry

This Washington Post editorial on John Kerry shows that nobody is overly thrilled with him.

SEN. JOHN F. KERRY'S 11-day mini-campaign on the theme of national security appears unlikely to produce sensational headlines or seize the country's attention -- which is, on balance, to his credit.

It's to his credit that nobody even pays attention to him, or it's to the voter's credit? And if nobody will pay attention to Kerry during his campaign why the heck would the world pay any attention to him as President?

At a moment when the crisis in Iraq dominates the national discussion, Mr. Kerry is resisting the temptation to distinguish himself from President Bush with bold but irresponsible proposals to abandon the mission, even though that course is favored by many in his party.

Now if he's "resisting the temptation" of "bold but irresponsible proposals" then where is this nation left when he succumbs? Is this a risk we want to take, as we watch the ideas we voted to support get abandoned when Kerry circles an issue? Nobody can yet figure out where the man stands on anything, much less what he stands for, and I'm just not a bit comfortable with having our whole country in the position of throwing dice to guess what he'll be thinking next.

Nor has he adopted the near-hysterical rhetoric of former vice president Al Gore, who has taken to describing Iraq as the greatest strategic catastrophe in American history and calling U.S. handling of foreign detainees an "American gulag."

It seems that Al Gore flushed himself down the toilet with that speech. I guess he can thank MoveOn.Org for the fact that nobody, even at liberal bastions like the Washington Post, will take him seriously after that one. Maybe the left will use him as a stalking horse to fire up the moonbats while allowing the serious candidates to maintain distance and plausible deniability. The big question is whether Al Gore will know he's fallen from serious Presidential candidate to court jester.

Instead, Mr. Kerry is in the process of setting out what looks like a sober and substantial alternative to Mr. Bush's foreign policy, one that correctly identifies the incumbent's greatest failings while accepting the basic imperatives of the war that was forced on the country on Sept. 11, 2001.

That's simply priceless. Whoever wrote that should frame it and put it on their wall, because Allah Pundiit himself couldn't have done better. First of all, if Kerry is "in the process of setting out" then how do we know what his alternative looks like, much less whether it is "sober and substantial". This must be this campaigns desperation angle to make up for his lack of "gravitas". Hopefully if the talking heads can keep a straight face when they say "sober and substantial" the voters won't notice that it's a bunch of BS that by definition lacks substance, since his campaign staff said he wouldn't go into any specifics. All that spin and we're not even halfway through the sentence, amazingly enough. Next we have "correctly identifies the incumbent's greatest failings", which makes you think he has some, like not kicking a couple billion in illegal bribes to Chirac, Shroder, and the Russians while promising not to let their voters know that they'd all been bought out by a genocidal Nazi. And finally, we get to the part that liberals must find so very hard to swallow. After the Dean rage and Gore blather, MoveOn, Answer, Air America, massive street demonstrations by clownsuited dorkks staging shit-ins, the Democratic candidate has accepted the "basic imperatives" of the war, normally referred to as "Bush's Illegal War for Oil" or other moonbat phrase. I wonder how they'll handle hawkish retorts that even their own side's candidate is pro-war? Maybe they'll all go Nader, or maybe they'll rue they day they nominated a self-confessed war criminal.

In his opening speech on the subject Thursday, Mr. Kerry reiterated one of the central tenets of Mr. Bush's policy: Lawless states and terrorists armed with weapons of mass destruction present "the single greatest threat to our security." He said that if an attack on the United States with unconventional weapons "appears imminent . . . I will do whatever is necessary to stop it" and "never cede our security to anyone" -- formulations that take him close to Mr. Bush's preemption doctrine.

Actually, it means somehow their was a brief-case mix up when the Bush and Kerry campaigns crossed path, or else Mr. Kerry heard one of Bush's speechs and espied a position he hadn't taken yet.

Yet Mr. Kerry focused much attention on the president's foremost weakness, his mismanagement of U.S. alliances. The Bush administration, he charged, "bullied when they should have persuaded. They have gone it alone when they should have assembled a team."

I think our team is over 30 other countries, so maybe somebody should give Kerry an update, because it doesn't like he's been paying much attention to world affairs. It's true we don't have France and Germany on our side, but then either one or the other of them is usually our enemy, and lately it looks like both are.

Not only is the truth of that critique glaringly evident in Iraq and elsewhere, but Mr. Kerry is also right to suggest that repairing and reversing the damage probably will require a new president.

Another masterstroke of dizzying spin. When plowing through the completely unsupportable just throw out a "glaringly evident" and charge straight ahead. There was absolutely no way France would side with us, and they themselves have said that as soon as they suspected Iraq might be on the table they decided to use the UN to make sure they US couldn't act under any circumstances. Given the depth of the Iraqi bribes, intelligence contacts, and potential scandal we've uncovered, I can see they had a point. And of course Kerry is desperately searching to come up with any reason that we need a new President.

Though Mr. Bush has belatedly changed course in response to his serial failures in Iraq, there is no evidence that he would pursue a more multilateral foreign policy if reelected.

Ding ding ding! Another winter in Spin-O-Master 2004. What course has changed, how has it changed "belatedly", and what are the aforementioned "serial failures"? They seem to avoid the details, don't they? And then they whip out the "multilateral" canard, despite the fact that we have dozens of countries with us, including our key allies, and excluding those who were being bought out by genocidal Ba'athists while rolling in Oil for Food kickbacks.

Mr. Kerry's promise to "launch and lead a new era of alliances for the post 9/11 world" nevertheless does not add up to a strategy by itself.

Glad they're will to admit the obvious. His position is no deeper than that of the average Miss America contestant, nor more thought out.

Tensions between the United States and countries such as France, Germany and South Korea predate George W. Bush and will not disappear if he leaves office; leaders in those nations have their own ambitions to challenge or contain American power.

Ok, it's on the table. The countries that sought to block our actions in Iraq also want to "challenge" or "contain" American power. Now to a simple fella that means they're against us. So why is it Bush's fault that countries that are against us didn't get on board? Somehow I doubt the Post will dig very deep for an answer to that little conundrum.

Strong alliances require a common strategic vision -- and the vision offered so far by Mr. Kerry is relatively narrow.

Get that. They said the vision offered by Kerry is "narrow". Nearsighted too, but why belabor the point. The truth is, a strong alliance can't be formed where the other country has an ambition to "challenge or contain" American power. Those are the countries we ally against, not with.

His Thursday speech focused on combating threats and on reducing dependence on Middle East oil; this week he will set out policies to block the spread of nuclear weapons.

And I guess he wants to reduce our dependence by not allowing us to drill anywhere, while calling the Saudis nasty names until they slash production just to find out how high the price can really go.

But he has had little to say about the good the United States should seek to accomplish in the world.

Well of course he'd have little to say about that, since he thinks the US is the root of all evil. Being a self-confessed war-criminal before hurling your medals over a fence, or not, at rally thick with anti-American communists, can do that to a person. It's especially daunting when you may be tasked to lead a war on terrorism when it took the FBI an entire year to figure out you weren't a terrorist.

In an interview Friday, the candidate stressed that he has set out the "architecture" of his foreign policy and will talk more about goals and values in coming weeks.

Goals and values will be filled in when he thinks of any. This is still miles from any substance. I guess the WaPo is finally figuring out that they're about to nominate an empty suit with a botox attachment.

Thus far he has spoken more about protecting American companies and workers from foreign competition -- something that hardly promotes alliances -- than about fostering democracy in the Middle East or helping poor nations develop.

And that went nowhere when people took a hard look at all the "outsourcing" he was whining about and realized at best he was stumping for Hawley-Smoote II, and at worst was simply insane.

The emerging Kerry platform suggests that ultimately he would adopt many of the same goals as Mr. Bush. In his latest speech he rightly warned of the terrible consequences of failure in Iraq and, like Mr. Bush, embraced elections and the training of Iraqi security forces as the best way forward. His proposal for a U.N. high commissioner represents a slight upgrade on the deference already given by the White House to U.N. representative Lakhdar Brahimi; his call for a NATO-led military mission already has been aggressively pursued by the Bush administration, with poor results. There are, in fact, few responsible alternatives to the administration's course.

The Bush haters and paranoid moonbats should note that very carefully. The Washington post just admitted that there are "few responsible alternatives" to the administration's course. That might shock more than a few trolls.

Mr. Kerry's argument is that he has a better chance of making it work. It's not a bold offer to voters -- but it's probably the right one.

Unfortunately they veer off course again, because to succeed at difficult tasks you have to stay the course instead of sailing in circles or reversing yourself every two weeks. Nobody in the world is going to take Kerry seriously because nobody in his own party takes him seriously, while those who guard America's interests regard him as a war-criminal, traitor, and liar. This won't be lost on our enemies, either. But I didn't even expect this much admission of Kerry's deep flaws from the Post, so I guess I should be thankful that at least a few clue rays can penetrate their editorial rooms.

May 30, 2004 in Politics | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Steyn on Weakening Hawks

Don't forget your Sunday Steyn fix.

Anyone who votes for the troops to go in should be grown-up enough to know that, when they do, a few of them will kill civilians, bomb schools, abuse prisoners. It happens in every war. These aren't stunning surprises, they're inevitable: it might be a bombed mosque or a hospital, a shattered restaurant or a slaughtered wedding party, but it will certainly be something.

Okay, a freaky West Virginia tramp leading a naked Iraqi round on a dog leash with a pair of Victoria's Secret panties on his head and a banana up his butt, maybe that wasn't so inevitable. But, that innovation aside, the aberrations of war have nothing to do with the only question that matters: despite what will happen along the way, is it worth doing?

Brilliant as usual. Go read the whole thing, and his closing is excellent.

May 30, 2004 in Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

British Institutional Islamophobia

This Guardian piece is notable.

British hostility to Muslims 'could trigger riots'

Hostility towards Islam permeates every part of British society and will spark race riots unless urgent action is taken to integrate Muslim youths into society, according to a devastating report.

The Commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia (CBMI), which is chaired by a key government adviser to the Stephen Lawrence inquiry, warns that more and more Muslims feel excluded from society and simmering tensions, especially in northern English towns, are in danger of boiling over.

Well some of them probably don't feel included in society because they're too busy calling for its destruction in a sea of fire. Or as the now jailed radical Cleric Abu Hamza said, they should embrace death and a "culture of martyrdom".

Members of the commission interviewed scores of British Muslims for their report, which will be published this week and will conclude that Britain is 'institutionally Islamophobic'.

Sounds like the British just feel guilty about not having a culture of 'institutional racism' they can constantly flagellate themselves about.

It emerged last night that the government is considering new laws to stop radical muslim clerics coming from overseas to preach in Britain. According to reports in a Sunday newspaper imams will have to pass a 'civic engagement test' which will include an English language exam and questions on British culture. Public funds will be provided for the training of home-grown clerics in order to halt the influx of militant preachers from the Middle East.

At last at least some small acknowledgement that maybe jihadist or extreme Wahabist clerics fuel the problem. They'll still have trouble with tapes of radical clerics being brought in, though.

The report produces a raft of evidence suggesting that since the 11 September attacks there has been a sharp rise in attacks on followers of Islam and their mosques and a rise in anti-Muslim sentiment across a range of UK institutions. Ahmed Versi, editor of the Muslim News, who gave evidence, said: 'We have reported cases of mosques being firebombed, paint being thrown at mosques, mosques being covered in graffiti, threats made, women being spat upon, eggs being thrown. It is the visible symbols of Islam that are being attacked.'

Maybe they should realize that they're badly outnumbered in Britain, yet wild-eyed splodeydopes who claim to be acting in the name of Islam keep threatening to kill the British. That's kind of a dicey situation for any group.

Dr Richard Stone, chair of the commission and an adviser to Sir William Macpherson's inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence, warns in a foreword to the report that: 'There is now renewed talk of a clash of civilisations, a new global cold war, and mounting concern that the already fragile foothold gained by Muslim communities in Britain is threatened by ignorance and intolerance.'

If he's saying that there's a clash of civilisations and a new global war, his statement that the fragile Muslim foothold in Britain is threatened by "ignorance and intolerance" pretty much indicates which side he's on. And that wouldn't be the side of British civilisation, either. The radical Muslims also talk about establishing footholds, from which they can expand, convert and attack when they've got sufficient strength. Fortunately these radical groups tend to be rather small or we might find out what a clash of civilisations looks like right on the fields of Eton.

Skipping on down to the end, though you should read the whole thing, it says

'Islamophobia in Britain has become institutionalised. If we don't take positive action to embrace the young Muslim men in this country, we are going to have an urgent problem,' Stone said. 'We're going to have real anger and riots with young Muslims pitched against the police.'

While they're off embracing those young Muslim men, they might want to make a quick check for a suicide vest. You never know. But that's the problem you can get into when you let radical clerics preach death and martyrdom without reacting to it.

The report is critical of the media's treatment of Islam, especially its coverage of Abu Hamza, the radical cleric who was arrested last Thursday.

Well if you look at what Abu Hamza was preaching and doing, how could you not be critical?

May 30, 2004 in Politics | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Global Dimming

Here's something new to worry about, for all you worriers. Global Dimming, which is I suppose the opposite of solar warming.

We are all dimmed: Earth's golden age of sunshine has faded

Bank Holiday sunseekers this weekend may find it harder to get a tan. And cinema-goers emerging from the global warming blockbuster, The Day After Tomorrow, will have something new to worry about. For scientists have discovered the awful truth; we are all dimmed.

Now if we've all been "dimming" then why all those stories about how we're all "warming"?

New research shows that much less sunlight is reaching the earth than 50 years ago. "Global dimming", as it has inevitably become called, has been suspected for nearly 20 years, since a Swiss geography researcher, routinely checking sunshine levels across Europe in 1985, found that they had dropped, even on the brightest days. Studies all around the world found similar results, showing drops in sunlight ranging from 2 to 37 per cent since the 1950s.

Now how could anyone possibly not notice a 37 percent drop in sunlight?

The research, published in Science, is the first to prove that the dimming is a global phenomenon. Scientists at the New Jersey and California Institutes of Technology remembered how Leonardo da Vinci had worked out that the dark side of the moon was illuminated by sunlight reflected from the Earth. By measuring this "Earthshine" they worked out that the world is about 10 per cent darker than half a century ago.

So, has any of those little global warming models figured in this 10 percent drop? Have they even figured in clouds yet? Or are we just replacing one version of Chicken Little with another?

Scientists are divided over whether global dimming is a natural phenomenon or caused by pollution, such as soot particles emitted from car exhausts, and global warming, which evaporates more water from the Earth, causing more clouds. Professor Philip R Goode, who led the study, told The Independent on Sunday that the way the dimming has varied suggests that it may be a natural phenomenon.

Well since we've had satellites in orbit for 40 years, you think they might want to check on the data from solar panels and such. We really do keep a close eye on the Watts per square meter, you know.

Whatever the cause, there could be massive effects on farming and on attempts to capture solar energy as the earth "dims down".

Gloom and doom, doom and gloom, just as long as somehow we're all about to die. Although maybe now we should levee sanctions on the EU for not producing enough greenhouse gases and thus risking the onset of another ice age. This presents a huge ethical dilemma for the moonbats, who I'm sure will somehow come up with a theory involving "good" CO2 versus "bad" CO2. Needless to say, capitalist CO2 will be bad, and socialist CO2 will be good.

May 30, 2004 in Science | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 29, 2004

Kerry Vows Something Or Other

Let's see just what John Kerry is babbling about now.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic White House candidate John Kerry vowed on Saturday to rebuild U.S. alliances "shredded" by President Bush and to restore America's international respect.

Exactly what alliances were "shredded"? NATO and our alliances with Japan and South Korea are fine, much to Kerry's chagrin. And Kerry is groveling for the respect of countries that have never respected us in the first place, in case somehow he learned to speak French without hearing a word the French have ever uttered about us.

Hours before Bush was to speak at the dedication of the National World War II memorial, his likely challenger in the Nov. 2 presidential election declared it was "time to answer the call to greatness and lead the world."

Well isn't that what Bush just did? But just because you lead doesn't mean every fuckweasel in Saddam's pocket is going to go along with you.

"It's time to put away pride and stubbornness," Kerry said in the Democrats' weekly radio address. "We must rebuild alliances that have been shredded because an America respected in the world will be an America stronger in the world and safer here at home."

So we'll be stronger in the world by being weaker? By not being so stubborn that we refuse to let countries in bed with our enemies have a veto over the security of the United States? If that's his definition of stubbornness then I want the most obstinate, die-hard mule there is. The French may hate us, but having them like us a little more isn't going to convince Al-Qaeda of a damn thing, except that their attacks are working to bring about the pussification of America.

The Massachusetts senator, who voted for the congressional resolution authorizing Bush to use force in Iraq, has since charged the president rushed to war without adequate international help or a plan to win the peace.

A plan to win the peace is always contingent on winning the war, and to win the war you have to not only vote for it once, but you have to keep voting to see it through. Kerry didn't do that, since he's feckless, reckless, and changes his positions to fit whatever group he's pandering to at the moment.

Kerry said Americans could honor the legacy of those who fought in World War II by building a country once again trusted by other nations.

Please note that most of those who fought in WW II didn't trust us, such as Italy, Germany, Russia, France, China, or Japan.

"America has always drawn its power not only from the might of its weapons, but from the trust and respect of nations around the globe," he said. "From the World Wars to the Cold War and beyond, American-led alliances have been a driving force in the survival of freedom."

Well if we had the trust and respect of nations around the globe why were half of them our enemies in the Word Wars and the Cold War? But that's as nonsensical as anything else the man says, like when he threw the medals then didn't then did, or voted for the war before he voted against it, prior to deciding he wants to keep going with it, after he said he'd pull out.

During the 2000 election campaign, Bush promised a humble foreign policy built on stronger international alliances, but since taking office he has angered some of Washington's traditional friends with moves like abandoning a global warming treaty and invading Iraq.

Cry me a river. Clinton wouldn't sign the treaty and nobody in the Senate voted to ratify it. So how could Bush abandon a treaty that we'd already unanimously rejected before he even got into office? I guess it's just a sign that the people who traditionally despise and undermine America are always searching for an excuse to explain their pathetically biased anti-American behavior.

Kerry, a decorated Vietnam War veteran, has begun an 11-day focus on foreign policy built around Saturday's dedication ceremony, Memorial Day on Monday when the United States honors its war dead and the 60th anniversary of D-Day on June 6.

It would be more accurate to say "Kerry, a self-confessed war criminal and leader of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, has begin an 11-day non-focus in which he wants to avoid specifics about the War, while trying to avoid spitting on all US servicemen this Memorial Day." But of course, if a journalist printed that one they'd likely be out of a job, because nowadays bias comes before truth.

In the same period, Bush plans to give a major speech on Iraq, travel to Normandy, France, for the D-day celebrations and host the G8 summit of the leaders of Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Canada and Russia on Sea Island, about 90 miles south of Savannah, Georgia.

And Chirac happened to invite the Germans to the D-day celebrations, probably out of renewed uncertainly as to which side France was rightly on. After all, France gave birth to many of the Nazi's socialist ideals.

Kerry painted the broad strokes of his foreign policy priorities in Seattle on Thursday, promising to forge a coordinated global alliance against terror, free the United States from its "dangerous dependence" on Middle East oil and end what he described as Bush's divisive bullying tactics.

There are just a few problems there. His staff says he won't get into specifics, so a broad brush is all he has to offer. He's also backing away from the longer term idea of helping establish democracy in the region, so he might as well say that his policy is to keep the status quo into perpetuity. We already have a global alliance against terror, won through Bush's "divisive" bullying, as opposed to Kerryesque pandering and blowing with the winds, and considering how much of the world's oil is in the Middle East we'd still be "dangerously" dependent on it even if we didn't use a drop, since the Middle East will also be the primary determinant of world oil prices. But I guess such nuances are lost in his "broad strokes", which is also a good phrase to describe Kerry jerking off the voters as a substitute for actual ideas.

He will flesh out his agenda in two more speeches -- the first in Florida on Tuesday focusing on the connection between terrorism and weapons of mass destruction and the second in Missouri on Thursday devoted to strengthening the U.S. military to deal with new threats.

He's proposing sending 40,000 more troops in the region by cutting elsewhere in the Pentagon budget, so I reckon that budget cuts in R&D and procurement are how Kerry intends to "strengthen" the military. Then again, maybe he just means he'll put them on a weight training regimen so they don't look like Kerry did in Nam.

On Iraq, Bush and Kerry both believe the United States should stay the course to bring stability to the country. Neither is ready to set a date for withdrawing U.S. troops.

In fact, Kerry said he intends to have them home by the end of his first term, which is the same as Nixon's Vietnamization plan. Remember, a vote for Kerry is still a vote for four more years of war, but the war plan will randomly change every two weeks. But at least he'll have Al-Qaeda surrounded, just like he has every issue surrounded, so we can at least hope they'll surrender in bewilderment when he backs them, then doesn't, then does again.

But Kerry, a 20-year veteran of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he would give greater prominence to international organizations like the United Nations and NATO.

Do what? Give greater "prominence" to them? Does "prominence" mean just face time on the Sunday news shows or actual boots on the ground? And does the UN need more prominence than it's getting from the Oil for Food program, which is being called the largest financial scam in world history, and could we possibly give NATO a little more prominence in Kosovo, where they proved incapable of working in their own back yard without the US shouldering the burden?

"Some of the best armor we could ever give our troops will be allies to fight by their side," he said. "And it's because of those who fought before and those who fight today that it's time to do what it takes to build an America that's once again respected in the world."

Note that John Kerry just implied that a Frenchman stops bullets better than Spectra, which may indeed be true, but a close look at his second sentence is a bit more disturbing. He said that it's because of those who fought before (veterans) and those who fight today (current troops) that it's time to do (we now have to) what it takes to build an America that's once again respected. In short, he's just blamed our current and former soldiers for bringing America disrespect. There's no other way you can parse that sentence. It's because of those who fought/fight that we have to now, once again, build a respected America. Somehow he must've slipped one of his old VVAW lines into his speech.

Kerry will attend the World War II memorial dedication with Joseph Lesniewski, of Erie, Pennsylvania, one of 18 living paratroopers from the Easy Company of the 101st Airborne Division who on D-Day parachuted into enemy territory behind the Normandy beachhead.

I hope Kerry doesn't lose it and start calling him a murdering, raping war-criminal. Then again, it's almost impossible to make a parachute landing without getting an ouchie that's far worse than John Kerry's first Purple Heart wound, so maybe the guy should mention his skinned knee and demand that Kerry push through the paperwork on another medal for him. But of course a paratrooper from the 101st Airborne Division is going to have more respect for the military than that.

May 29, 2004 in Politics | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Cell Phones for Soldiers

Mike at DGCI is posting on an effort to send pre-paid cell phones and calling cards to Iraq. Go see.

May 29, 2004 in War | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack