Sunday, January 29, 2017

Weekend Data Dump

Turkey has aligned itself with Russia--newly entrenched in bases on the coast--and Iran on Syria, saying Assad could stay in a deal. After years of trying and failing to get the Obama administration to back Turkey's efforts to defeat Assad, Turkey has decided to go with what they perceive as the strong horse. Sadly, President Trump who seems inclined to increase cooperation with Putin to fight ISIL, probably isn't seen as more amenable to resisting Assad. We shall see.

It is likely that the Trump administration will face a North Korean Missile Crisis during his term of office as the Pillsbury Nuke Boy gets ICBMs and nuclear warheads for them. I remain grateful that President Obama didn't bookend his horrible nuclear deal with Iran by forging another farcical agreement with North Korea.

I don't understand why liberals are in full Nazi fear mode over Trump. Other than this is what they do for any Republican, obviously. I have problems with Trump over his liberalism and statism on so many things--but otherwise he is not outside a standard deviation from the norm policy-wise. It's not like the Democrats didn't give us a similar man before. But no, liberals turn it up to "11" every time, which explains why leftists tend to be the ones rioting and otherwise disturbing the peace (the post-inauguration "women's" march of liberal women and their men's auxiliary was peaceful, I should note). But the anarchists and their communist brethren have discovered one big change--the authorities aren't handling the crimes committed while flinging flaming "democracy" through windows with kid gloves any more. Good. Pity every journalist won't take every opportunity to ask Democratic officials if they reject this kind of violence. Tips to Instapundit.

Heh. I admit I was convinced that this was a parody by the end of the first paragraph. But I read on just in case. Tip to Instapundit.

So the media is upset that Trump didn't offer pledges to unity at his inauguration address? No doubt. It worked so well when President Obama appealed for unity. Of course, Democratic appeals for unity after the 2008 election were just an ill-disguised offer to Republicans for their surrender.

When American men went off to fight real fascism in World War II, they went off for the duration plus one year. When American women went off to fight faux fascism in Washington, D.C. a week ago, they went for the weekend. So no Tommy the Typist counter-parts to Rosie the Riveter from last weekend? Tip to Instapundit. (One of the problems of posting a week ahead is that others can beat me to a good idea. But this is arguably better! Also tip to Instapundit.)

Yes, as I've written repeatedly here, the federal government is just too damn big. Who controls it should not matter so much.

China is claiming success for the end of their one-child policy. But is this a success of the two-child policy or just people no longer bribing officials to ignore the birth of girls under the one-child policy? Scroll down to the "Beneficial Corruption" part.

Yemen forces took the port of Mokha from Shia rebels aligned with Iran. Not only will this help to stop Iranian weapons from flowing to the rebels, it will reduce the ability of Iran's friends to launch missiles at our ships again.

"Maduro’s government will reach its breaking point this year." Where will the collateral damage flow?

I am horrified that Fox News hired Marie Harf as a contributor. Maybe after taking her integrity out of the blind trust she had to put it in to be a State Department spokeswoman, I'll be surprised. But after the first time I watched her during which she acted like she is still a spokesperson for the Obama administration, I don't think there will be any surprises.

The whole Inauguration-gate attendance thing is silly. The first time I saw the press secretary's initial comments it was clear to me that he was speaking about a combined worldwide audience. Yes, he also defended the on-site audience size, which was stupid, but he absolutely asserted a combined record. Are Trump critics unable to listen to actual words? Does their rage turn their brains off? The press is driving me nuts. I'm not a Trump fan. But the press is just wrong. And so are liberal critics who join them on this issue. They took an issue that made me wonder why Spicer was bothering to vent and instead made me wonder if the critics can even process information. Stop turning everything to 11! If they really think we are reliving the rise of Hitler--as if they have any clue about the history--just stop this petty nonsense.

Strategypage notes that India's state-owned armaments body is essentially Pakistan's (and China's) secret weapon to undermine India's military.

Austin Bay writes that we need to help friends and allies oppose Chinese efforts to turn the South China Sea into a Chinese lake (or city, actually). But he says our Navy has been carrying out freedom of navigation operations in the region. But are we really doing that? Or are these just innocent passage missions dressed up as freedom of navigation operations?  If we do an actual, unambiguous FONOP, it should be well supported just in case.

I have no doubt that North Korea is going downhill. They've been rotting away for a long time. They should collapse. At some point. But they've gone so low that I can't tell what the bottom is. Is the regime's time really numbered? More from Strategypage.

Jihadis have pounded FSA rebels in Syria. Why we don't support friendly rebels in the western part of Syria more is beyond me. Do we want Assad to win this war and get back to the business of killing Americans and Israelis?

I see we now have an alternative to being an "asshat." Ah, progress. Tip to Instapundit.

President Obama said we should not be out of step with advanced democracies by requiring voter identification. To be in step with our fellow democracies, we'd actually need to require voter ID. Whether that statement by the president qualifies as "fake news" I leave to you. While fraud is not a factor at the presidential level (thank you electoral college fraud firewalls), we can't know the effect on lower levels because we just don't know what we don't know. That's my take on that article via RCI.

Russia's economic and financial problems are growing. So far military operations in Syria and Ukraine are distracting the Russian people. Will growing Russian domestic problems be met with growing Russian aggression to cope? Libya seems like the safest place to gain headlines without risking a real war, while bolstering Russian efforts in both Crimea and Syria.

Turkey is waiting to see if their long-desired goal of safe zones for Syrians inside Syria is something President Trump really wants. Here's a good SSI discussion of the issue. Potentially this could derail the unnatural Turkish friendship with long-time foes in Russia, Iran, and Syria (scroll to the "Syria" section). Although I wonder if Turkey's increasingly autocratic and Islamist-friendly Erdogan would see a Russia no longer bordering Turkey as a more natural ally.

The Left and their media allies don't like Trump's attitude toward the press corps? They can thank their savior, The One, for setting the precedent. Without a leg tingle, it's way different, I guess. Tip to Instapundit.

Step away from the ladder arguments. There will be renewed arguing about building a wall on the southern border. If some lefty with a self-congratulatory smirk says that the answer to a 20-foot wall is a 21-foot ladder as if that settles the argument, I will resort to interpretive dance in retaliation. That response is stupid. Any physical barrier that is not defended by people can be penetrated by people. The Great Wall of China, for example, was not designed to keep people out. It was designed to identify raider intrusions and then slow down the raiders while escaping with their loot long enough for friendly forces to respond to the incursion. Barriers on the Mexican border can only slow down determined illegal crossers to buy time for border patrol personnel to intercept them. Okay, I'm done now.

Holy Dissent is BACK, baby! If federal employees had done this for the prior 8 years, they would have been labeled racists. If Hillary had won the last election, they'd be misogynists. But because orange will not be considered the new black, the media will not raise any objections at all.

President Trump seems to have inherited a self-purging State Department. Stop, don't, come back. Although the scope is actually pretty small. So this is more outrage theater than anything.

President Obama was only more popular than Carter, Ford, and Truman, of post-war presidents. Digest that, eh? Tip to Instapundit, who always said that another Carter administration was the best case scenario for President Obama.

Here's a story of Iraqi troops exchanging fire with ISIL across the Tigris River dividing line between Iraq-held eastern Mosul and ISIL-held western Mosul. It sure seems like the theme of the news is that the Iraqis will storm across the river to liberate western Mosul. Why the assault won't come from the south and west (with an air assault to support it at some point) is beyond me.

Huh: "The Women’s March on Washington last week featured as a speaker convicted felon Donna Hylton who, along with several others, kidnapped a man and then tortured him to death." If a Tea Party rally had a participant with a parking ticket the whole thing was condemned by the media as a fascist enterprise. But this is just empowering, I guess. How does this fit into the fake-real news divide? Tip to Instapundit.

Iran is complaining that America is pausing entry from certain countries and says they will ban Americans from going to Iran. Good! Since this has been an easy method for Iran to seize American hostages, I'm all in favor of having no Americans in Iran.

So Trump might be right about anger management issues in the countries selected for the pause in entry: "Arabs and Iranians planning U.S. trips reacted with fury on Saturday to new American travel curbs they said were insulting and discriminatory, as five Iraqis and a Yemeni were stopped from boarding a New York-bound flight in Cairo." Reacting with fury? Nothing like proving a point so quickly.

This American military briefing reveals that the Iraqis will hold eastern Mosul with multiple brigades under their 16th division. Does this mean that the Iraqis are thinning out the line with a good defensive line--the river--to help them defend against any ISIL counter-attacks, allowing the spearhead forces to move to the west side of the Tigris to attack from the south and west? Or will the Iraqis build up behind that shield to launch an assault across a defended river line?

The JLTV replacement for the HMMWV, which replaced the jeep, is coming into service. It is designed from the ground up for survivability rather than being a "soft" vehicle poorly suited to protect occupants under fire.  And when I say soft, I mean soft. The vehicle I drove had vinyl doors on a metal frame with cloudy vinyl windows. It didn't keep out the cold let alone anything more lethal. But I did like it more than the 2-1/2 ton truck I drove before that.

American special forces conducted a ground raid on al Qaeda targets in Yemen, backed by attack helicopters. We lost one operator. The raid is odd. Why not an air strike? Were we trying to capture someone? For real yucks, we got a "fake news" Gordie Howe hat trick: "A provincial official said the helicopters targeted a hospital, school and mosque." What? No puppy and kitten shelter targeted, too?

We were seeking information and we say we got it. I assume we grabbed laptops and whatnot. No word on the type of special forces. Was there a carrier large or small nearby or was the base in Djibouti the source of the aircraft? UPDATE: This was a SEAL raid and the aircraft lost was an Osprey. We did grab electronic devices. The Makin Island amphibious group is in 5th fleet. So it could have been sea-based. But it is also close to our special operations base in Djibouti. UPDATE: The Makin Island and their Marine contingent were recently at Djibouti practicing a raid on an enemy communications facility, which sounds an awful lot like a rehearsal for the Yemen mission. The group has V-22s and gunships (early reports could be wrong on saying Apache helicopter gunships rather than Marine Cobras were involved). So I suspect this was a mission carried out by the Makin Island group from the sea. And we resumed our usual programming with a drone strike in Yemen. I suspect that was a rapid intel evaluation from material seized in the raid. UPDATE: In a first for my data dumps, I promoted this series of stories and updates into a regular post, with further information.