Sunday, June 18, 2017

Weekend Data Dump

Ah, Harvard. Basically, this is why I quit the American Historical Association back in 1991. Most in the profession just don't do history very well, it seems. Best and brightest, indeed.

I have no problem if blue states want to cripple their economies by adhering to Paris climate agreement standards. Enjoy! (But can Connecticut afford to do this?) I'm sure German automakers and Russian oil oligarchs will send a few bucks their way to encourage those states. And I'm sure that states that don't secede from American policy on this issue will do just fine. The states interested in upholding the Paris agreement have a quarter of America's GDP. America has a quarter of the global GDP. So if these states abide by their share of America's theoretical commitment to contributing to the agreement through 2030 (and if the rest of the world goes along with their own commitments--some of whom "committed" to emitting more and more CO2 for a while, recall), then those states will have the planet-saving effect by 2100 of preventing the planet from warming 0.003125 degrees Celsius (the entire world under those conditions would prevent .05 degrees Celsius warming, which means America would have responsibility for about .0125 degrees C (actually more since America is expected to do more than China and India who do nothing positive, but let's keep it simple). So states with a quarter of America's GDP would be expected to cover a quarter of that, or 0.003125 degrees Celsius of planet saving. Yay!

Democrats announce a Resistance Summer. Yawn. Even the Taliban have a greater sense of urgency given they announced a Spring Offensive weeks ago.

The Democratic Party has problems. Really, only the friendly mass media conceals the decline by shrilly amplifying Democratic policies (and anger management issues).

While I am sure that many on the left are sure Trump somehow inspired the Manchester terror attack, it looks like the bomber began his planning a year earlier. During the Obama administration. When hope and change ruled. When the world loved our president. Before any "Moslem ban" (no, it isn't) was issued. When--oh, you get the point. The jihadis hate all of us, people. Even those who shop at Whole Foods and proudly sport a COEXIST bumper sticker on their Prius.

You know, this is one of the best things I read this month. Despite the loud voices of mindless rage that the online world pours out, most people are just decent sorts living their lives without being defined by Twitter mob outrage. We all need that reminder, I think.

I'm not hostile to an administrative state if it remains within its proper role. But it is about time the federal administrative rules process is clubbed into submission.  A bureaucracy delegated to write rules to implement statutes is necessary to prevent statutes from becoming unwieldy in technical details. But legislative deference to policy experts in the bureaucracy requires reciprocal deference from those experts and the executive branch to the language and intent of statutes that guide the rules, rather than using the rules process to create wholly new quasi-statutes. I was an APA guy in my career and never understood why the state legislature threw away its ability to provide oversight to the rule-making process without a fight.

I will say that France and Europe are stepping up to police an admittedly smaller front in the war on terror in Mali and the surrounding regions. Best to nip this stuff in the bud. We help, too, of course.

Wait, so it is okay for a New York City millionaire to slam the media and undermine its credibility? Duly noted.

While there is much talk of the new Russian Armata tank design, Russia is far more likely to have upgraded older models like this new version of the T-72. And affording many of those could be a problem.

What's the matter with Portland, Oregon?

A reminder that "green on blue" attacks on Western troops by Afghan troops is usually an anger management issue arising from the society. Green on green (Afghan troops killing other Afghan troops) attacks just don't get the same publicity. And I'd bet good money that there are a lot of "red on red" attacks we never hear about.

Yeah, this has long scared the heck our of me. I've always kept eyes on my children when they are in the water rather than lie back and close my eyes. I've never really accepted the view of a beautiful coast--it's a big bad waiting to kill. Even the smaller cement version.

Dissent is not the highest form of Islam. This is not a normal reaction. Why liberals aren't the biggest cheerleaders for the war against jihadi terrorists and ideology is beyond me. But no, worry that theocracy is around the corner here in America under Trump. That's normal to worry about.

If "democracy dies in darkness," it is just as true that staring at the sun for so long blinds you. Sure, discussing Trump to the exclusion of almost anything else rather than policies drives ratings. But when journalistic bias converges with political bias, the results can't be good for democracy.

The Left: "Violent eliminationist rhetoric--as we define it--promotes assassinations." Oh, it's directed at Trump? Never mind. That's not how they define it, of course. This is where the expression "false patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel" applies. And as long as we're at that post, I guess the Left will have to start saying "dissent assassination porn is the highest form of patriotism the Resistance."

"America is no longer a force for stability in the Gulf[.]" If you define "stability" as refusing to stop Iranian aggression and terrorism, and going along with Iran's nuclear ambitions, then yeah, America is no longer a force for stability in the Gulf. What we are now is a force for defeating Iran. That's what editors with a functioning brain stem would call it. That is something that will promote stability in the Gulf. But no, the editors have proclaimed that Obama gave us stability for our time in the Gulf. My how The Economist has fallen.

After 7 months of leaks that Trump was under investigation for Russia "collusion" (is that like offering "flexibility," perchance?), Comey said Trump was not actually under investigation. Suddenly there is a new leak that now--really--Trump is under investigation for obstruction of justice despite no underlying crime. This is banana republic stuff.

Okay, that was seriously odd. If the objective was to show the cabinet backing rather than backstabbing the president, there had to have been a better way to show a united front. Unless I'm missing some important context. Which is possible, all things considered. (Later: I finally listened to the entire clip rather than relying on the story. Yeah, there is context. First full cabinet meeting after finally making it through Democratic blockage in Senate. So there was a ceremonial aspect to this. And Trump started by praising his cabinet members. Nor did Trump "invite" his cabinet to compliment him. The oddness disappeared. Shame on me for accepting the framing of the issue. Why did I trust a HuffPost author--Igor Bobic--to interpret for me? Big mistake. How many people took the time to watch the video rather than just accept Bobic's slant?)

Terrorism motives die in darkness. Or in relentless spin, I suppose.

Oxford will let female students take their history exams home to answer. Just the women. All Oxford did is cheapen the value of a first-class degree for all women who have them--even those who don't need to take them home to complete. Do these people think these things through? Best and brightest, indeed. Tip to Instapundit.

Even if liberals achieved their dream of banning and confiscating all firearms from even law-abiding Americans, criminals and terrorists would still be able to get weapons. Or will liberals suddenly be in favor of tight controls of our land borders to prevent the influx of illegal guns for criminals and terrorists? Remember, criminals and terrorists are by definition willing to break laws for the purpose of thievery and murder. So violating gun laws is a minor factor.

Your political opponents are not evil. A Bernie Sanders and Rachel Maddow fan shot Republican Representative Scalise who is in rough shape and wounded 4 others (including 2 police) while Republicans were preparing for the Congressional baseball game. Given how Democrats react to any attack regardless of the facts by blaming Republicans, I should be blaming hate-filled Democratic and MSNBC rhetoric that has been flooding our society the last 7 months with a "climate of hate"--when it hasn't actually justified violence. But I won't. Just as the vast overwhelming majority of Republicans don't commit crimes because of over-the-top rhetoric (and just as the overwhelming majority of legal gun owners don't commit gun crimes), I can't in good conscience blame the violent and criminal choice of one rabid leftist on all liberals who have ignorantly flung the charge of "Nazi!" at Trump and Republicans. Yes, I think we make a mistake in thinking that the very visible media and Twitter hate truly reflect all of America in regard to the threat of political violence. But I will blame liberals for raising the war on civil discourse (through political language and refusal to restrain their "Antifa" storm troopers) to levels that make it impossible for them to even talk to their political opponents. Yes, the overwhelming majority of even the intolerant left aren't willing to resort to violence. But the intolerant left is figuratively killing debate by defining their opponents as evil.  Killing political debate is dangerous because if politics and rule of law for resolving politics are crippled, actual wide scale violence will be how differences are settled. That outcome will make Putin smile. Just stop. Your political opponents are not evil.

In related thoughts, you will struggle to find political insults or demonization of political opponents on The Dignified Rant (I'd say you absolutely won't find that, but your definitions may vary; and perhaps I had a bad day or two where I slipped up that I don't remember). In part that is because this is a defense and foreign affairs blog, to be sure. But in the Obama era, despite my conviction that he was a poor president, I did not ever resort to violence-friendly rhetoric. I worked from the assumption that President Obama was largely wrong and unjustifiably arrogant--but not evil. And consider that I've never been shy about the need to kill our actual foreign enemies. So it isn't some general thing. I'm fully capable of distinguishing between foreign enemies and domestic opponents.

Sure, the UAE may want to leverage the Saudi-led dispute with Qatar to get America to move our base from Qatar to the UAE, but I don't believe that is a major cause of the dispute revolving around Qatar ties to Iran and Islamists.  Besides, in a carrot-and-sticks approach to Qatar, America should hardly walk away from Qatar if the purpose of the pressure is to redirect Qatar away from Iran and Islamists a bit more rather than push Qatar fully into Iran's arms. Say, here's a carrot now. How nice we get to be the "good cop" in the good cop/bad cop routine. (Funny, I originally wrote that as "good cop/bad coup". My typo might have been more accurate.)

Otto Warmbier was released by North Korea. Warmbier didn't deserve to be imprisoned for the BS charges he was convicted of violating. But let's not forget that gulag tourists like Warmbier function as props to an evil regime that their hard currency hands over to the gulag. Warmbier apparently thought it would be an adventure to see close up--totally safe as the tour group promised--a regime that abuses its people. The regime turned on him despite the promise. Then it was no longer fun and games. I hope Warmbier recovers from the ordeal and health crisis that sent him into a coma while imprisoned. But I hope others who would finance the gulag with a UN seat learn a lesson from this episode.

Michigan resident James McCloughan will receive the Medal of Honor for his actions in battle in the Vietnam War. Render hand salute.

It is good that President Obama's opening to Cuba has been reversed (in part). It shocked me that supporters of President Obama's opening to Cuba said that since the American isolation of Cuba "hadn't worked" we had to give it up. One, so tenacious evil is to be given credit for being so tenacious? And two, it is wrong to say the isolation did not work. It weakened Cuba and prevented it from being a bigger threat--while also refusing to openly side with that evil. The idea that the measure of success for isolation was compelling Cuba to be a free democracy was always a false standard, although a free democratic Cuba has always been the ultimate goal. And it really annoyed me that just as Venezuela (picking up from the former Soviet Union) was faltering in its subsidy for Cuba that President Obama had taken on that role. No more.

Ordinary Democrats should reconsider leaning forward in Le Resistance. Sure, prominent entertainers and news people are doing it, but for them it is "marketing" their popularity and not "resisting" a dictatorship. Consequences are for the little people, remember.

Now that I think about it, isn't the preening faux "Resistance" against Trump culturally appropriating French resistance to actual dangerous Nazis in World War II?

Hackers tried to influence the 2015 Canadian election but failed. Wait. What? So the hackers weren't trying to get that one-man boy band Justin Trudeau elected?  Go figure.

An Iranian missile-armed ship harassed 3 US ships in the Strait of Hormuz. This is far more dangerous than speed boats flitting around our ships.  Because the Iranian missiles could inflict serious damage on our ships, our ships need to have a lower threshold for shooting first to prevent the Iranian ship from taking a shot at us. We can't afford to be lulled into passivity that gives Iran a chance at shooting first with deadly effect.