Sunday, April 26, 2009

Jaguars Draft Derek Cox, William and Mary Cornerback

The Jacksonville Jaguars have drafted William and Mary cornerback Derek Cox in the third round of the NFL Draft. This Blog previously reported on Cox's NFL quest earlier this month.

According to ESPN, Cox is 6' 0 3/4 inches and 180 lbs. He intercepted four passes this year, two of which he returned for touchdowns. Two of his 12 punt returns went for touchdowns, including one against the Richmond Spiders, who won the FCS championship this year.

Here's a video of Cox returning a reception about 48 yards for a touchdown against N.C. State in the fall of 2008.

Here is a video of an 89 yard punt return against Northeastern, followed by a 12 yard interception return for a touchdown, also against Northeastern.

Here are links to a two part series in the William and Mary Flat Hat about Cox's quest.

This Blog will follow and report on Derek's progress in the NFL. Good luck and Go Tribe !

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Churchill on Taxes, Free Enterprise, and Socialism

It's April 15th, and thus time for some quotes from Winston Churchill about taxes, free enterprise, and socialism.
"There is no such thing as a good tax."

"We contend that for a nation to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle."

"Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy."

"Some people regard private enterprise as a predatory tiger to be shot. Others look on it like a cow they can milk. Not enough people see it as a healthy horse, pulling a sturdy wagon."

"The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries."
Where are such men when we need them !

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Government Loans/Low Rates a Sign of Hope ????

Several weeks ago President Obama was preaching doom and gloom on the economy and warning that failure to adopt his "Stimulus Package" could lead to Depression. Now he tells us there are signs of . . . . Hope! The main tangible sign, the President said, is an increase in loans made under a particular loan program administered by the the Small Business Administration !!!! The Washington Post reports the story here:

This may be the first time in history that a responsible public official has invoked the number of loans made BY THE GOVERNMENT as a plausible indicator of economic progress. The vast majority of small business financing comes through the private sector, often through informal networks of family, friends or old fashioned self-financing. Loans made by the SBA are a drop in the bucket compared to these other mechanisms. Hence, an increase in the number of loans from a particular SBA program is an extremely thin reed on which to base one's economic prognostications.

The President also pointed out that mortgage rates are low now, thereby providing an excellent opportunity for some to refinance their homes. He's exactly right in the sense that folks should consider refinancing as a way of lowering their monthly payments and/or escaping an adjustable rate mortgage. However, interest rates (the price of credit) are low despite massive federal borrowing, precisely because private business and consumers are not demanding credit. Lower demand means lower prices for credit, i.e., lower interest rates. Interest rates were even lower during parts of the Depression for the same reason.

There is another possible explanation for today's low rates, an explanation that could complement the one just provided. The Federal Reserve could be printing money and using it to buy up newly issued Federal Debt, thus improving the demand for US securities, raising their price and lowering interest rates. While this policy COULD stimulate the economy in the medium or longer term, but it would be odd to say that the adoption of a policy that COULD work is a "hopeful sign."

The President's prognostication also raises the following question. What has caused the VERY sudden turn around in the economy's condition ? Certainly not the "stimulus package," most of which has not even taken effect. If in fact the economy IS recovering already, then perhaps there was no need for the stimulus package (and trillions in debt it will bring) in the first place !

Friday, April 10, 2009

Tribe Spring Game in 8 Days !

William and Mary's annual spring football game will take place one week from tomorrow, on Saturday, April 18, at Zable Stadium at 1:00 PM. The game is free and open to the public. Basically the offense will attempt to score on the defense in a controlled scrimmage where hitting the quarterback (who wears a red jersey) is disallowed.

Here is the Tribe's 2009 Spring Football Guide, and extraordinary source of information analogous to the Media Guide that the Athletic Department produces each year.

Also, go to this link for spring practice blogs and photos.

I have attended several spring games, and it's a great opportunity to see some of the new players in action before the first game in September.

I will review the Spring Guide over the weekend and try to blog about some of the highlights before the game next week.

History Channel Alert/Patton 360

Tonight at 9:00 PM Eastern Standard Time the History Channel will be premiering a new series: "Patton 360." Here is the link to the History Channel's website explaining the series and including some biographical information about the General:

Tonight's episode "Blood & Guts" will focus on the period November-December 1942, when the United States and Britain invaded North Africa in "Operation Torch." According to Wikipedia, Patton commanded the so-called Western Task force, tasked with capturing Casablanca. The task force included the U.S. 2d Armored Division and the 9th and 3d Infrantry division.

For those of you who have seen the 1970 movie bearing the General's name, you will recall that the movie's story begins AFTER the allies have taken Casablanca.
Enjoy !

Krauthammer Nails It/Obama's Nuclear Fizzle

Here's a terrific Op-Ed by Charles Krauthammer on the Obama administration's recent foreign and defense policy pronouncements.

Among other things, he notes the juxtaposition of three events:

1) President Obama's call for the elimination of nuclear weapons. As Krauthammer notes, the President announced that:

"Rules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something."

2) North Korea's nearly simultaneous open and notorious launch of a ballistic missile in clear violation of a UN Security Council Resolution.

3) The Security Council's completely feckless response to North Korea's violation. As Krauthammer notes, the Russians and Chinese blocked any sanctions or even condemnation of North Korea's brazen violation.

If President Obama cannot convince the Security Council to vote to condemn North Korea's missile launch, how, pray tell, does he plan to convince every nation in the world (including, by the way, North Korea) to forsake their quest for nuclear weapons ? Like Krauthammer, I doubt that unilateral disarmament by the United States and its allies will convince India, Pakistan, China, etc. to beat their atomic and hydrogen bombs into plowshares !

Althouse (Effortlessly) Rebuts Congressman Frank

Ann Althouse, a Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Wisconsin, has published an excellent Op-Ed in the Chicago Tribune defending Justice Scalia --- as if any defense were needed --- against some silly charges made my Congressman Barney Frank. Among other things Professor Althouse gets off this zinger:

"Either Frank is an incompetent reader or he is deliberately trying to mislead people into believing that justices vote for results in cases the way legislators vote a bill up or down.",0,3951559.story

Althouse also calls attention to --- and criticizes --- the habit of some Supreme Court justices who offer their own opinion of a law as a way of "soothing" those who might otherwise disagree with their opinion. For instance, a Justice might vote to uphold a law while at the same time making it very clear that he or she would not have voted for it if he or she were a member of the legislature. Justice Thomas did exactly that in his dissent in Lawrence v. Texas. Like Justice Scalia, he voted to sustain the law as Constitutional. Unlike Justice Scalia, he hastend to add that he thought the law was an "uncommonly silly law." (Some of you will recall that Justice Stewart said the same thing in Griswold v. Connecticut, dissenting from the Court's decision to void the state's ban on the purchase of contraceptives by married couples.) While some have criticized Justice Scalia for failing to offer his own personal opinions in such instances, Althouse has a different take. As she sees things:

"Scalia is resisting telling us about his personal views because they are irrelevant to the work of a judge, and he's modeling upstanding judicial behavior, saying what the law is and nothing more." and

"You may think it's cruel of Scalia to deprive us of soothing words, but don't be tricked about why he writes like that. Scalia is adhering to the most basic legal proposition that judges must decide cases according to the law and leave the rest to the processes of democracy."

Enough said !

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Are US Aircraft Carriers Vulnerable to Chinese Missile Attack ?

North Korea's missile "exploits" have gained much attention recently. Perhaps more ominous, however, is new that its more powerful neighbor may be perfecting a weapon that could alter the balance of power in parts of the Pacific Theater.

The U.S. Naval institute is reporting that Communist China has developed an intermediate range ballistic missile capable of striking an aircraft carrier from a distance of 2000 kilometers. (Note, it is about 1800 kilometers from Shanghai, China to Tokyo, Japan.) The missle reportedly travels at Mach 10 and can reach its target in as little as 12 minutes. The missile relies upon unmanned aerial vehicles, radar and satellites for guidance. The warhead is apparently conventional and not nuclear, and the missile is based upon the DF-21, pictured above on a mobile launcher, thanks for Max Smith, who took the picture and released it into the public domain. The aircraft carrier pictured is the USS Nimitz.

If the report is accurate, America's ability to project power near China, e.g., defend Taiwan, could be greatly diminished, absent effective counter-measures that could thwart such a missile.  Readers might wonder "didn't we face this sort of threat from the Soviet Union during the Cold War and, if so, were we not then able to neutralize such a threat?" The answer is "yes and no." Yes, we faced a threat of ballistic missiles, but only those with nuclear warheads. Soviet ICBMs were not sufficiently accurate to strike a ship on the high seas. The Soviet's most accurate missile, the SS-18 Satan, deployed 10 warheds with a Circlular Error of Probability (CEP) of 500 meters. That is, one half of such warheads would land outside a 500 meter radius of a fixed target, while the other half would land somewhere within that radius. Note that I have emphasized the term "fixed." In wartime aircraft carriers are anything but a fixed target, but can instead travel at over 30 knots (34.5 miles per hour). That's fast enough to cover 8 miles in fifteen minutes, probably the minimum time it would have taken an SS-18 to reach its target in, say, the Atlantic after launch from the Soviet Union. Moreover, like other ships, aircraft carriers need not travel in straight lines, but can instead make high speed turns or zig zag in case of attack. (For a photo of the USS Nimitz making a high speed turn, go here.) I have heard no indication that the Soviets developed ballistic missile targetting systems capable of hitting such moving targets. Absent use of nuclear warheads, then, ballistic missiles simply were not a threat to ships during the Cold War.

Instead, during the Cold War, the main threat to aircraft carriers came from air launched cruise missiles. Launched from bombers such as the TU-22 "Backfire," such missiles would skim above the ocean torward their targets. The AS-16 "Kickback," for instance, had a range of 300 kilometers and could travel at 5400 Kilometers per hour. the older AS-20 had a shorter range and was slower. At the same time, such missiles could only threaten an aircraft carrier if their bomber platforms could make it to within 300 kilometers (about 200 miles) of their targets without being shot down by the carriers' own fighter aircraft or surface to air missiles deployed on escorting ships. As a last resort, a carrier would rely upon 20 mm radar-targetted Vulcan cannons. Those of you who have read Tom Clancy's "Red Storm Rising" will recall that these various layers of defense were not successful in an early engagement that Clancy portrays, in which the Soviet Naval Air Force sinks the French Carrier Foch and cripples the Nimitz and Saratoga with air launched cruise missiles.

For more on Air to Surface missiles, see this Wikipedia entry:
If the U.S. Naval Institute story is true, then the Chinese must have overcome the obstacles that prevented the Soviets from threatening our fleet with ballistic missiles. If so, there would be several implications to such a development, in no particular order.

1. Hopefully President Obama will ignore Candidate Obama's promise not to "militarize space," whatever that means, exactly. The US should continue to develop its capability to shoot down the sort of satellites that China would employ to guide these missiles.
2. The US may have to accelerate its development of long-range manned and unmanned bombers that can operate from land bases less vulnerable to attack.
3. The US may consider developing smaller, faster, stealthy aircraft carriers less vulnerable to such attacks.

Monday, April 6, 2009

France and Germany Stand Pat/U.S. Continues to Bear Disproportionate Burden

The Associated Press reports that France and Germany have rejected President Obama's request for additional troops for Afghanistan. This despite the AP Headline that the two nations "endorse" President Obama's new strategy for Afghanistan. That strategy, of course, includes a "surge" of NATO forces in the country. The United States, which already deploys 38,000 troops there, is adding another 30,000, to bring our total to 68,000.

According to the French Ministry of Defense, there are about 3,000 French troops in and around Afghanistan.

Britain, by contrast, has announced it will send another 1,000 troops, on top of the 8,000 or so it has altready deployed there. Canada, whose population is just over half that of France (33 million compared to 61 million), maintains 2,500 troops there. Italy, who, like Britain, was also an ally in the Iraq War (Thank you!), deploys nearly 3,000 troops in Afghanistan.

I do not mean to understate the French contribution in the war on Al Qaeda, both in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Indeed, it was France who introduced the Security Council Resolution authorizing the 2001 invasoion of Afghanistan, and 27 French soldiers have died there. And, we all know that France helped America gain her independence in the first place, more than 200 years ago.

At the same time, we also know that, given the impressive capabilities of the French military, the largest in the European Union, it seems that France could do more. And, I don't mean to pick on Franch --- Germany could do more, too! Let's hope both nations reconsider !

Saturday, April 4, 2009


As previously reported on this Blog, tomorrow marks the first race of the 2009 Indianapolis Racing League season, the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Florida. The event will be broadast live on the Versus Channel, beginning at 2:00 PM Eastern Standard Time. Later today, from 4:00 PM until 5:00 PM, Versus will broadcast a "qualifying show," presumably with highlights from qualifying activities on Friday. Here is a list of entrants to the race.

Here is a summary of various drivers' performance in this race from 2005-2008.

Graham Rahal of the USA (born in Columbus, Ohio) won the 2008 event, and media reports suggest he is poised for another good run, having clocked the fastest lap in Friday practice. He is the son of Bobbby Rahal, who won the 1988 Indianapolis 500.

At the same time, the Canadian Press reports that Scott Dixon of New Zealand is favored to win the overall IRL series this year, repeating last year's feat. The photo posted above is of Dixon practicing before the 2007 Indianapolis 500, which this author attended. The Photo is courtesy of cmakin, who makes it available pursuant to a Creative Commons License. Thank you! Here is a link to the photo and other similar one.

Here is the Canadian Press story predicting a Dixon repeat. I suspect he will face stiff competition from Dario Franchitti, who returns to IRL this year after a less than stellar year on the NASCAR circuit.

Flat Hat Story and Editorial on Privatization

Today's Flat Hat contains a brief story on a lecture favoring privatization of the College by Neal McCluskey, associate director of the Center for Educational Freedom at the Cato Institute.


The Flat Hat itself also editorializes about the issue, calling on the College to create a committe "to explore the long term costs and benefits of increased privatization of the College."

While the Editors do not ensorse privatization, they note:

"there could be no better time, given our economic woes, than the present to explore the option. The administration should create a committee to investigate the long-term costs and benefits of increasing privatization at the College."

There has been more talk of privatization in the last year here at William and Mary than in the 13 years before that combined, it seems. An idea that once seemed questionable to many as a matter of policy is gaining traction, as students, faculty, alumni and others from all sides of the spectrum come to realize that our status as a state owned and controlled enterprise prevents the College from realizing its awesome potential. I lay out some of the arguments for privatization in: "Private Greatness," an Op-Ed that responded to the claim by a former President of William and Mary that the College should strive to be "Public and Great." Among other things I argued that our public status was nothing to cheer about and also prevented us from becoming great.

Some wonder why the Commonwealth would EVER agree to allow the College to go private.
Here, in "Private Greatness," I answer this question by proposing a trade: Virginia ceases to appropriate millions to the College each year, and the College keeps the land and buildings on which it currently operates. Since the state appropriates about $40 million per year to the College, privatization would be worth about $1 billion to the state in present value terms at current interest rates.

I am not the only one pushing privatization. Some students have as well. See, for instance, this Op-Ed by Alex Ely:

Friday, April 3, 2009

Russia's New Comrade Obama

Russia's President is hailing President Obama as his "new comrade." The Agence Francais Press has the story.

But please, don't call the President a Socialist !

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Derek Cox's NFL Quest

The Flat Hat is running a two-part series on Derek Cox's quest to land in the NFL. Tribe football fans will recall that Cox, number 37, played cornerback and returned punts. Cox registered 4 interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns. He also returned two punts for touchdowns and made 33 solo tackles. The Flat Hat article reports that Cox is 6'1" 181 lbs and has run a 4.34 40 yard dash. The first part of the article details Cox's childhood aspiration to play football, his current training regimen and admission that playing in the FBS league makes it more difficult to break into the NFL. Here is the article. We wish Derek every success !!!

At this link you can find a great video of an 89 yard punt return for a touchdown against Northeastern in 2008.

Here find a video of Cox's 45 yard interception return against N.C. State.

A Patriotic Poster. Just Because.