Sunday, May 21, 2017

Weekend Data Dump

Let's save this advice: "'I'm trying to keep this apolitical but I can't help myself ... the principle that no one, no one in this country is above the law and we need a Justice Department, not an obstruction of justice department,' [Senator Elizabeth] Warren said." I guess this principle didn't apply when Obama's attorney general met Bill Clinton on her plane at an airport and, they said, only chatted about family and grandkids and whatnot. Nobody ever asked them if written or digital information changed hands, I'll note. So if Hillary Clinton does get charged over her off-the-books email system and mass purge of emails from her secretary of state days, I'll haul that quote out.

Well sure, God sides with the big battalions, and all that. But leadership is not irrelevant unless you don't care how high the body count gets and if you think your people will tolerate any level of losses.

Strategypage looks at the situations in reviving Colombia and collapsing Venezuela. I worry that Maduro will try to cope with looming collapse by going to war with the Netherlands in an effort to rally the people around a foreign threat.

The apple doesn't kill far from the tree, apparently. Ah, family businesses. Just a reminder that ISIL is not the entire world of jihadis who need to be killed. Al Qaeda is also still out there.

North Korea fired what appears to be a long-range missile with an artificially short arc, but one that landed fairly close (60 miles) from Russian territory. Why did North Korea do that? Is Russia fine with that? I'm not sure whether it would be more worrying from Moscow's point of view if the impact site was deliberate or accidental.

Well that's not good: Four Montreal airport screeners were found to have become radicalized (of the Islamist variety). So the re-screening checked out. What about anybody allowed to bypass screening?

As an aid to Democrats let me say that many Republicans don't actually like Trump. He received a smaller percentage of the primary vote than Sanders got in your primary (although I admit that in large measure that reflects the mostly 2-candidate race that you guys had--how much of that was due to Hillary-DNC collaboration you might ask), so that shows you he wasn't that popular among Republicans. But when Democrats turn the "resistance" dial to 11 on every little damn thing Trump does or says, you make it difficult for Republicans to join you in criticizing Trump. If you force a choice between Trump and your spittle-flecked ravings and black-clad rioters, the choice is easy every single time. Related thoughts that seem about right. I'll never be happy that we had the choice of a clown or a crook in 2016. But I can't be unhappy that we dodged the long history of corruption.

A mass ransomware infection has hit the world. Last year I discovered some version on my computer. Lord knows how it got there because I do not click on attachments or links from unknown (and confirmed) senders. But it never triggered. Apparently I'm not ransom-worthy. I suspect this one is state-sponsored for some purpose. Crooks would want to remain low key to encourage payment rather than freaking out the world with the scale and mobilizing intelligence agency and software company collaboration to battle the attack. (In a pre-publication update, North Korea seems behind this.)

About a week ago Syrian forces moved "toward" the Iraqi and Jordanian borders at Sabaa Biyar. The Syrians and militia allies occupied an area abandoned by ISIL as they contract to hold positions at Raqqa and points east. But towards the border is not at the border. The town is over 50 miles from the borders, FYI. For a second there, until I looked at a map, I thought this was pretty provocative move regarding Iraq and Jordan. It will be big news if Syrian forces attack American-backed militias that eject ISIL from Syrian territory, not occupying abandoned territory. (And after I write this section, pro-Syrian forces did move toward the border where Americans are and got bombed for their troubles on Thursday.)

If you wonder why jihadis, Russians, North Koreans, and probably even Canadians think America is easy to defeat.


Wow! Eight years of hope and change were surprisingly ineffective, it seems.

Disorganized and splintered hatred is better than hatred with a territory and people to command and plunder.

Azerbaijan destroyed an Armenian Osa air defense vehicle in a disputed region that Armenia holds. Armenia hosts Russian troops.

This is why I think Republicans need a sense of urgency on enacting legislation while they have a slender Senate majority along with the House and Oval Office. Accidents, actuarial facts of life, or deranged assassins can upset the best-laid 18-month plan for legislation.

The Democrats are an eye tic away from going on about their precious bodily fluids. I wish they had been this determined to confront the Russians in the Cold War--or even just before our last presidential election.

I'll withhold judgment on maintaining the Iran nuclear deal to see if we can make Iran howl within the horrible deal (Obama gave away too much up front, remember, making ending the deal problematic on that score). But I suspect that we'd be better off ending the pretense of a deal that relies on Iran pretending not to have nuclear weapons ambitions and relies on America pretending to believe the Iranians.

I'm just going to have to accept that Peak Stupid isn't going to arrive in my lifetime. I'm not even sure how to respond to that complaint. Please keep in mind that I spent many years at the University of Michigan and live in Ann Arbor without being absorbed by the Borg Stupid. Although as one friend said of me, living here has had remarkably little effect on me. Nobody has ever accused me of being a conformist, I guess.

I'm not fully on board the idea that geography is destiny. But I'm sympathetic. Stratfor looks at the Middle East. If you fear President Trump, you might want to sign on for the view, however. So you know, I assumed interests would shape Trump's policies more than the reverse. And I will say that our foreign policy is easier with a friendly Iraq that fights rather than supports terrorism. Remember what we would have chosen if we hadn't destroyed the Saddam regime.

From the "Advice it Would Have Been Good to Give Eight Years Ago" files. So put down the pen and phone? It is good advice, mind you. Just oddly belated.

If the media-political complex is making America ungovernable, is that a bad thing if it leads to states picking up the slack on all the things that aren't national that the federal government gathered to itself over the last 90 years? And perhaps when the federal government is more restricted to truly national (and foreign) affairs, it will be able to govern as the stakes for control go down. I like having a republic. Direct democracy threatens to undermine rule of law as far as I'm concerned and just become a tyranny of the majority.

Is the UN-recognized Libyan government bringing Haftar into the government or just trying to de-fang him?

Despite being a person of the left, the new South Korean president sees South Korea and America working closely to stop North Korea. Sometimes reality narrows your options, eh?

American artillery has so far fired 6,000 rounds of smart ammo in support of Iraqi operations to take Mosul.

The Baltic states have learned a lesson from Ukraine's dependence on Russian energy by tying their electric grid to the EU just in case Russia is less than reliable. Now if only the EU would make itself less reliant on Russian energy. On the bright side, Russia's Kaliningrad exclave has electricity supply lines going through NATO territory.

The fight against ISIL in Iraq still goes on in western Anbar notwithstanding the focus on Mosul.

I see the nutjob left doesn't even want me to be able to measure when we approach Peak Stupid. I don't want to hear one more Goddamn thing about liberals being uniquely pro-science.

What will they think of next?

Rouhani won reelection as Iranian Nutball in Chief. Remember, in Iran a "moderate" is the candidate pre-screened by the nutball mullahs who doesn't randomly yell "Death to America!" in English while discussing recent rain patterns. In America, liberals are still more upset that Trump won.

I noted an article on Russia's use of 600 bloggers/social media posters and $19 million to persuade Crimeans that the Russian invaders were the good guys: "To accomplish this, social cyber attackers appealed to the pro-Russian population of Crimea by spreading rumors of hate and fear." Funny enough, the Russians are amateurs compared to what the Democrats have done here since the Trump election.

New York, where voter suppression is just okey dokey with the courts and which doesn't upset any liberals.

The planetary defense shield is up! Tip to Instapundit.