Sunday, November 27, 2016

Weekend Data Dump

The Russians have adapted a former nuclear missile submarine for intelligence and "research" purposes. Podmoskovye, a former Delta IV SSBN, can carry special forces along with mini-subs, Strategypage implies.

Yeah, pretty much: "Academia should consider how it contributed to, and reflects Americans’ judgments pertinent to, Donald Trump’s election."

I mentioned that the hostility of Democrats to the concerns of Trump voters contrasts greatly with their urge to understand what we did to make jihadis strike us on September 11, 2001 ("Why do they hate us?"). Little did I know how good my comparison is.

The Royal Navy will soon lack an anti-ship missile in their arsenal. No word on the truth of rumors that anti-ship capabilities will be generated by issuing grappling hooks and cutlasses to their ship crews.

India's shrinking air force has failed to create a sense of urgency in India's procurement bureaucracy. What I figured was the most important defense question for India this decade will also be the next decade's most important defense question. When even ammo is in short supply, India has potentially fatal procurement problems.

It is interesting that the UAE has based jets in Eritrea across from Yemen to support the Sunnis there against Iran-backed Shias. It wasn't so long ago that Iran seemed to be cultivating ties with Eritrea to have a presence on the Red Sea.

The emperor of the Ottoman Empire takes shape. This is not good for NATO. Although Russia getting clear access through the Turkish straits is even less good. Is Turkey seriously flirting with a policy that turns to Russia and China? Or is this blackmail to get the West to back off on human rights questions and bid for Erdogan's loyalty? Yet even if Turkey doesn't leap to the Russia and/or China side (history with Russia makes that less likely to be lasting--but could China alone be the partner of choice?), Turkey seems to be turning away from Europe that doesn't like what Turkey is becoming. Does that distancing lead Turkey to turn away from NATO, too? Just what do you do with a problem like Erdogan?

Democrats spent the election attacking Trump voters as stupid (and evil), and in the aftermath of Trump's victory, have doubled down on the stupidity part by claiming that his supporters were swayed by "fake news." That's the way to win Trump voters back! The claim is questionable. And also, big talk from the side that got their "news" from The Daily Show and the Colbert Report. Note that this story on liberals deciding to seek out alternatives to standard news that lulled liberals into believing Clinton had the election in the bag ends by using as an example that the New York Times has gotten 41,000 new subscribers since the election! Yeah, that source of fake news will get you out of your bubble! Face it, seeking out the Times for your news just shows that more people are buying apartments in The Bubble.

So the EmDrive actually works in theory? And the drive built--while tiny, did work! But I'll wait for a lot more inquiry before I start speculating on star-faring--or interplanetary--missions.

I will never understand why the left considers the protection of legal immigrants and/or citizens by enforcing the rule of law on illegal immigration is somehow discriminatory in a bad way rather than a defense of rule of law. And if the Left goes all out to defend "sanctuary cities" that protects illegal immigrants (where criminals can exploit the decision to look away), perhaps general sanctuary legislation should be passed by Congress to allow local governments to declare themselves sanctuaries against immigration laws--and a host of other federal laws like EPA regulations, firearms restrictions, and health insurance laws, to pick a few out at random. The price would be that the local government would lose certain federal funding in exchange for the freedom to ignore federal law. Perhaps this could be a way to reduce federal power in favor of local control?

I don't think that America should torture prisoners. While I admit that there could be a "ticking nuclear bomb" scenario that would justify such a practice to get information fast from a suspect known to have the information, the need is so great that I have no doubt it would be done regardless of the law on the books. Aside from that, torture as a routine practice doesn't work, because people who know nothing will confess to anything. It is also perfectly reasonable to decide we are willing to pay the price to refuse to waterboard prisoners to get information, as Senator McCain stated. What I don't like is conflating waterboarding with torture. Waterboarding is extremely scary--by simulating the deep fear of drowning. But it does not permanently cripple a person the way McCain is crippled from his actual torture. We are free to decide how we get information and how nice or harsh we want to be consistent with our needs and values--and within the law--without diluting the idea of torture by including waterboarding as a type of torture. I suspect that few in our intelligence community want waterboarding now because we are not in the position we were in immediately after 9/11 of not knowing what al Qaeda was planning and not even knowing what we didn't know.

I really don't like military analyses that ranks our services as weak or marginal, when in fact they are still outstanding forces despite numbers, readiness, training, and equipment issues. Sure, looking closely shows that what is really being ranked is their ability to meet stated goals around the globe. So yeah, we would have problems fighting China, North Korea, ISIL, Russia, and Iran all at once. Yet in any individual fight our military can dominate. Really, how many militaries around the world could be rated at more than marginal or weak under those standards. Good Lord, I tremble how Russia's army would be rated on its abilities to hold off Finland, Sweden, NATO, Iran, China, South Korea, and Japan. Is "laughable" on the rating scale?

The idea that Democrats will reject ultra-liberal Pelosi as minority leader in the House ignores that surviving House Democrats are mostly liberal and in no danger of losing their seats as less liberal Democrats in flyover country could suffer if Democrats double down by choosing Pelosi. So no, I doubt Democrats will choose wisely.

If Republicans are waging a war on science, it isn't working; and Republicans could use a Democratic training and advisory mission from their far more successful efforts. For the Left: "There’s always an apocalypse requiring the expansion of state power."

Hmm. So Iran rejected UNSC Resolution 2231 which is the basis of saying the Iran nuclear deal is a multilateral agreement? Fascinating. I had a class on international law. But other than instilling a lack of respect for it, I didn't learn enough to comment on the implications.

A lot of Democratic operatives pretend to be honest journalists, so why shouldn't Russia Today RT propagandists be denied the right to play that role, too?

Japanese troops sent as peacekeepers to South Sudan will be allowed to fight if necessary. That's a first for overseas Japanese troops since 1945.

Venezuela hated America under Bush 43 after the nutjob Chavez took power. Now the tinpot nutjob, Maduro, in charge down there hopes that after the anti-Bush, Obama, leaves office that relations with America under Trump might improve. If I may be so bold to suggest, if you can't get along with Bush 43 and you can't get along with Obama, the problem just might be with you, Maduro.

Russia is moving Iskander surface-to-surface missiles and S-400 air defense missiles to Kaliningrad, their Kaliningrad exclave bordering Poland and Lithuania on the Baltic Sea. They could interfere with reinforcements being sent to Poland and the Baltic states. Russia rejects our complaints. Which is why in case of war with Russia, taking Kaliningrad should be NATO's first mission.

Yes, the Cult of Hillary was rejected this year. And yes, sometimes Kevin Williamson is pretty funny.

Oh good grief: "The new, high-tech destroyer Zumwalt suffered an engineering casualty Monday evening while passing through the Panama Canal and had to be towed to a berth, the Navy said." Is there a serious problem in quality control these days? Because talk of a 350-ship fleet isn't impressive if that's the case. Or will stealthy tug boats count, too? To be fair, it is a new kind of engine.

The Russian T-80 didn't work out as a replacement tank for the T-72 (an upgraded T-72, the T-90, became the top tank). But thousands were made and apparently 550 are still in important units. The Russians plan an upgrade to the T-80 to bring it up to T-90 standards. Which means I can justify painting some T-80 miniatures that I bought a long time ago, thinking I was getting the newest Russian tank.

In an incident that remains unclear (there may have been an exchange of fire), the Pakistanis say India killed a number of civilians by firing on a civilian bus near the border. As long as Pakistan wages a low-level war on India along the border, civilians intermingled in the area will be at risk. India may have made an error, but Pakistan is not without responsibility.

So Somalia could be a problem for Trump by 2019, it the peacekeeping plans don't change.

Russia continues their subliminal annexation of Georgia's Abkhazia region.

I'm honestly amazed that Zimbabwe has staggered on as long as it has.

Venezuela at least has oil to delay the day of reckoning--which could be next year. How wise is it for China to get nearly half of Venezuela's oil as repayment for loans? Won't desperate Venezuelans learn to hate China as they go hungry and lack medicine even as their sole source of revenue is shipped off to China for long-gone money?

Iraq is working to regularize their militias. This is good. Bring them in the tent, pay them, review them, and begin to pare down the pro-Iranian elements over time.

Russian information war sites? I'm more than happy to have this type of effort given the firehose of falsehood that Russia directs a the West--although I wish that people had been more attentive before the Russians waged war on the Clintons (and Soviets before them) and our mainstream media parroted Soviet lies and propped up the illusion of communist compassion and economic success! But some seem like they might have been included under criteria that would ensnare the New York Times if they were subjected to the same criteria over a long enough period of time. (Let me know when Drudge gets a Pulitzer for their coverage of Russia.) If it makes you feel better, your much admired (and dare I say ruggedly handsome) host does not use those sites, although I have followed links to a literal hand full of them on occasion. Fear not, I can read through a lot of BS from such sites, too.

It is funny that Trump was condemned for refusing ahead of time to accept election results as valid because he wanted to see if he had justification for challenging the vote; but today the Greens with support from Hillary are challenging the election results despite no evidence for a problem. On the bright side, I say Republicans ram through legislation to ensure valid voting based on the sudden interest by Democrats in preventing potential voting fraud.

Rebel forces inside Aleppo seem to be losing ground rapidly. Of course, Assad has to hold what he takes against any insurgency and counter-attack that could develop.

I worry my Weekend Data Dumps are getting out of hand and almost becoming a blog in itself! I find myself unable to simply provide a descriptive link. On this path lies madness, I fear, even though I think it really is a useful overflow bin.