Saturday, April 22, 2017

Weekend Data Dump

This is an interesting article on the French Foreign Legion. If it is a death cult, it is not very good considering the low casualty rate of the modern era. Or it is a virtual death cult. Tough mind you, but not exactly a death wish to join.

Will opening up to trade with Cuba unravel the communist dictatorship? I'd be happy if it does. So far the Chinese communists seem to have managed to maintain power while allowing trade. I'd be happy if that unraveled the communist dictatorship, too.

Is Bleeding Kansas Berkeley what we want in America? While it is no shock that the communist/anarchist "Antifa" (anti-"fascist") storm troopers have motivated opposition street fighters, I take no pleasure in this. The end of this road is bad. Is this what we want our politics to become? If the damn local authorities (under sympathetic leftists--and I mean really sympathetic leftists) had dealt with the black-clad violent communists and anarchists in the first place, we wouldn't see people taking their own protection into their own hands. Tips to Instapundit.

You go, dead girls! Yeah, I'd forgotten about that weird conference call. Oddly, the media didn't remind us last year. And again, tip to Instapundit.

American airpower is mostly grounded these days. That has to change, if that understatement suffices. Our potential foes are likely worse off. But if one of them initiates hostilities they will work to bring their availability rates up before they strike while we will still be in a low state initially. But is the real problem--which is less likely to be solved with an infusion of money--a tolerance for bad leadership?

The Saudi-led coalition backing the Sunni-dominated government of Yemen continues to make slow progress. It's a slowly developing victory, but it is progress for defeating Iran on that front, at least.

America is now battling Iran for influence in Iraq. The Obama administration abandoned the field to the Iranians when we left Iraq in 2011. If we are serious, we have the advantage over Iran despite Iran's operations that go back to the 1979 Iran revolution. Despite the common Shia ties, Iraq's Shias are Arab and not Persian like the Iranian Shias who run Iran (as a rump empire, Iran has sizable and diverse minorities). So most Shias don't want Iran to dominate Iraq. The Arab Sunnis who sided with us in 2008 (the Awakening) despite our role in overthrowing their minority rule of Iraq in 2003 will back us against Iran. And the Kurds have long been pro-American since we stood with them following the 1991 war against Iraq. Let's hope the Iraqi government and American government are on the same page about continuing America's role in Iraq after ISIL's caliphate is dispersed.

Marine helicopters are now using drop tanks to extend their range, which is useful for the distances encountered in the Pacific.

Since last year's campaign season, I've been worried about Afghanistan's ability to hold in the face of Taliban encroachment that is inflicting heavy casualties. With ISIL's caliphate going down in Iraq and Syria (and Libya), the role of Afghanistan as a sanctuary for terrorists will resume, making it a pre-9/11 threat as a launching point for attacks on the West. So yes, we need a new strategy for the region that defeats the jihadis there. America led the West into Afghanistan because of 9/11. We need to remain to win to prevent another 9/11. I continue to think that focusing on strengthening the artificial central state is problematic as the bulwark against the jihadis, but I will defer to the experts. Oh, and for real yucks, the Russians and Iranians who the last administration banked on becoming our best friends are involved up to their denials in Afghanistan now (and unless I am sorely mistaken, the weapon in that picture is an automatic grenade launcher and not a heavy machine gun).

Apparently frustrated that he can't bamboozle American secretaries of state like Clinton and Kerry, after meeting with Tillerson the Russian foreign minister Lavrov decided to pick on an American journalist. Well, sh*t rolls downhill, as the expression goes.

Liberal fake news is rising. But liberals will still look down on stupid conservatives. Personally, my experience has been that fake liberal news has been a problem for a long time. Tip to Instapundit.

As they are everywhere (outside Russia), the Russians are involved in secession movements in America. Remember, little green men aren't just for Ukraine. Never say the Russians don't think big. When you consider the record of pro-Russian decisions by the last administration, it all makes sense. Born in Kenya? Hah! Try Kolyma! (And good God, yes I'm kidding.)

Heh. The Navy wouldn't think of anything like that.

Marijuana doesn't make you a better mom. It makes you not care if you are or not. And Doritos.

In 2008, Democratic voters denied Hillary Clinton the presidency. In 2016 all voters denied Hillary Clinton the presidency. But only the latter election is a symptom of voter misogyny.  I sometimes find it easier to plumb the motivations of Kim Jong-Un than of our leftist brethren here.

Leftist protesters fixated on President Trump's unreleased tax returns, wondering if they reveal any wrongdoing, are a danger to the liberals. Seriously, does anybody believe the IRS wouldn't have taken action long ago if there was suspicious activity? The Leftist activist are an eye tick away from claiming that Trump's taxes were prepared in Kenya. So drive on activists!

This is odd. Why was there such a disconnect between public statements on the Carl Vinson battlegroup and its actual sailing away from the peninsula? It could be a way of preventing expectations of action by showing up earlier than wanted while raising the threat of the carrier group. It may be that other assets--like subs and anti-missile defenses--need to move in and so the presence of the carrier wasn't needed yet. Or it could be that diplomatic moves delayed the need for the carrier presence. Or it could be a screw up. I don't actually suspect the latter as the explanation, but you never know. It would be illuminating to see the Vinson group commander's face when he says, "POTUS thinks we're where?"

The Great Liberal Hope Jon Ossoff failed to top 50% in the special Congressional election in Georgia. So he will face likely defeat against Republican Karen Handel who led the crowded Republican pack in the second phase. I assume Handel will win because, as Madeleine Albright has explained to women, "There's a special place in hell for women who don't help each other."

I'm sure liberals will cheer at claiming the scalp of Bill O'Reilly (whether he is guilty or innocent), but I honestly couldn't care less about him. I tend not to watch talking head shows like his. Other than The Five and the Greg Gutfeld Show, which have good entertainment value, I find the partisans of Fox News Channel no more illuminating--and only somewhat less annoying--than the partisans on CNN or MSNBC (or on the main networks, for that matter). So the Left can enjoy their scalp. If he did wrong he should be punished. But say, about your superiority dance. Tip to Instapundit.

I thought maybe my phone charging cord was going bad, with intermittent connection for recharging. But then I used a toothpick to gently remove a build up of lint in the charging port, and all is well. Your results may differ.

I'm perplexed at the statement that North Korea has 10-25 nuclear weapons. I thought North Korea hadn't yet miniaturized and ruggedized nuclear devices sufficiently to be called warheads. How did I miss that evolution? The key to using force to stop a state from getting nukes is to strike before they get nukes--not after. Isn't this concept from Pre-emptive Strike 101?

I'm unhappy that President Trump congratulated Turkey's Ergodan for engineering via referendum a legal autocracy. This development is not good for the West any way you look at it. But then again, President Obama elevated Erdogan as a favored "tame" Islamist in the Moslem world; and I'm not a liberal Democrat upset with the Bush freedom agenda that sought to support democracy in Moslem countries. So I assume Democrats are saluting this display of pro-Erdogan realpolitik in action.

"If you see something say something" doesn't apply to potential Islamist terror because if you are wrong the outrage mobs will tag you as "Islamophobic." But by all means let your imagination run wild if you see a father with their child. Yeah, I had experiences with my toddler son and daughter that follow that thinking. My small son had swollen eyes from yellow jacket stings and I got dagger stares in line at a pharmacy from one woman until I raised up the antibiotics I was waiting to pay for while holding my son. The woman changed totally, saying that happened to her grandchild. With my daughter at a theater, I let her go into a women's room unattended (she was more interested in running off to the bathroom than in seeing the movie, so that wasn't our first trip and I decided that rather than taking her into the men's room with me, I'd try this) while I stood outside close to the door to hear if she had any problems--or if the bathroom wasn't empty as it sounded. That was fine until a bunch of tweens trooped in looking at me in horror standing there. I avoided eye contact and said nothing until some moms came along with the same look and I explained that my very young daughter was in there. Again, things changed with an explanation and various girls checked on my daughter and gave me status updates. Thankfully my experience involved people capable of adjusting their notions when a reasonable explanation was given. But there is no social stigma for failing to adjust, it seems. Tip to Instapundit.

I vote that we retire "shock and awe" to describe a bad-ass blitz with the new North Korean expression "super-mighty preemptive strike." If we have to go after the Kim regime, I hope it is called Operation SMIPS.

It occurs to me that if we make North Korea worry enough that China is considering intervening in North Korea to end the problem that President Trump says is China's responsibility, then North Korea might do something against China that provokes China to do exactly that.

The idea that a threat of violence by protesters justifies canceling the speech of someone the proto-fascist "protesters" don't like is 100% wrong. Imagine if in the Civil Rights era segregationist governments had cancelled civil rights speakers "for their safety" because masked and hooded "protesters" (in Klan white rather than the anarchist black today) threatened violence. Would that have been acceptable logic or would have state troopers, National Guard, or even active Army troops have been sent in to protect the people exercising their rights? Tip to Instapundit.

Just when you think we've reached Peak Stupid, something else comes along. The "tiny house" movement "appropriates" poverty? I just thought the movement was stupid. Say, is being thin actually appropriating starvation? Now this is getting fun! Of course, now I hate the tiny house people seeming more rational than the utterly stupid "appropriation" nutjobs.

I'm really not worried about a couple Russian "nuclear capable" aircraft flying near Alaska. It's Superpower Theater for the Russians.

Russia is expanding the use of military contractors and is using them in Syria and Ukraine, in particular. Strategypage has more and looks at the wider picture. If you like, you can see a collection of posts from The Dignified Rant on private warfare, with commentary, for only 99 cents!

Turkey may buy Russian S-400 air defense missiles. Other than possibly a sign of Turkey's drift to autocracy and Russian friendship, I don't know whether I should be worried that Russia will know the weaknesses of Turkish air defenses or whether I should be happy NATO could get a really close look at Russia's S-400 system.

Romania, by contrast, will buy Patriot air defense missiles. Which should reliably shoot down Russian aircraft if necessary.

I didn't realize how many drugs I must have been using at the time, because I totally missed the Apocalypse that experts predicted on the first Earth Day. The end is always nigh, for some people. Tip to Instapundit.

Is anyone really shocked that Palestinians tried to smuggle explosives into Israel labeled as medical supplies? No good deed goes unpunished.

One year ago, my dad died. /NOTHING FOLLOWS/