Saturday, July 29, 2017

Weekend Data Dump

What do you call a handful of suspended college radicals who violently suppress freedom of speech? A good start. Tip to Instapundit.

U.S. Army Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, the top Army officer in Europe, said that NATO is making progress in improving the logistics infrastructure to support eastern NATO, but that it would really help if Germany increased defense spending to improve transportation and air/missile defense networks to bolster the logistics capacity. Personally, I'd like it if the Germans also had plans to lead a NATO offensive into Kaliningrad to remove the source of problem missiles (of the ground-to-ground and air defense varieties).

President Trump spoke of defending the West in a speech in Poland. Note to Poles: Gutting rule of law by undermining the judiciary is not defending the West.

The Army and Marines have cheaper guided artillery rounds via the PGK fuse and guidance kit now. Is this applicable to the Navy, too?

Socialism is failing in Venezuela, a lake of oil underneath them notwithstanding. So what do the socialists think will cure them? More socialism, of course.

Zimbabwe's president-for-life of the country he impoverished is calling on true supporters to attack people committing violence while "pretending" to be his supporters. That could get ugly.

Drug violence in Mexico is spiking up and is spreading out to more of Mexico. If we want to keep the active armed forces free for crises, I can totally see National Guard units mobilized again for duty on the Mexican border as they were a century ago.

The State Department will block Americans from going to North Korea. I'm shocked (and disgusted that people would pay money to that horrible gulag with a UN seat) that this is necessary. But it won't work, as many Americans who traveled to Cuba from Canada for decades can attest. We should have any American planning to go to North Korea sign a document acknowledging that America will risk no members of the military trying to rescue them for being stupid.

Background on our "problem child" kind-of-ally Pakistan. We put up with Pakistan. But we also have little reason to seriously back Pakistan if things get really bad for them. The generals there may think nukes solve all their problems, but they don't. Nukes only prevent India from invading and occupying Pakistan--as if India wants to do that, of course. Rule of law would benefit Pakistan much more.

Even Belgium is buying for their army because of the Russian threat.

Sure, one problem Ukraine had in resisting Russia's near-bloodless conquest of Crimea was that there were leaders in Ukraine's military in Crimea who were pro-Russian. But that wasn't the key. So the fact that Russia recruits ethnic Russians in other former regions of the USSR doesn't mean Russia can repeat the Crimea conquest. Two additional factors were important in the Crimea outcome. One, the only combat unit was a marine battalion. The rest were rear echelon troops who at best could defend their own positions if attacked. Second, Ukrainians had just overthrown the pro-Russian government and the new government had not yet established authority to order troops ill-prepared to fight (which is how the former pro-Russian government wanted the military) into action to resist the Russians. It is also true that more people in Crimea were pro-Russian than in the rest of Ukraine, but I don't think that was really a factor in the short run. The article does mention these other factors, but doesn't flesh them out like it does the leadership issue (which is fine, this is a newspaper article on that aspect and not an intelligence evaluation). Russia's special forces did a good job in Crimea. But don't overstate what they achieved in unique circumstances as if the Russian special forces can repeat the achievement anywhere in the ex-Soviet sphere.

The Supreme Court infamously ruled the Obamacare penalty is a tax and not the government compelling a person to buy a product (insurance), thus upholding the core of the law. Could there be a lawsuit against the federal government demanding that fines and court fees for parking and vehicle moving violations be deductible on federal taxes because they are a (local) tax, too, and not a penalty? Just a thought. I'm not an attorney, of course.

The idea that Trump won because of a racial "backlash" against Obama would be more persuasive if those voters hadn't elected and reelected Obama and if there had actually been an African American candidate up against Trump. And this article that "gets" why Trump lost is just some clueless Democrat coming down on the "stupid" side of the continual debate in liberal circles about whether conservatives are evil or just too stupid to know better. Tip to Instapundit.

With Virginia-class SSNs getting better vertical launch tubes to hold more Tomahawk missiles, we see that the replacement for the Ohio-class SSGNs will be done by spreading out these missiles throughout the submarine fleet rather than in 4 boats.

Destroying a 150-year-old scientific consensus. Kind of neat that an individual can still fight the tide. Although this tide doesn't have large amounts of money reliant on its continued flow. Tip to Instapundit.

Buying T-90s is basically to hold off the Chinese army.

I think somebody needs a COEXIST bumper sticker.

Democrats have a new slogan! "A Better Deal: Better Jobs, Better Wages, Better Future." Given that Schumer, Hillary, Warren, and Sanders are their annoying leaders, I suggest "Make America Grate Again."

The Russians are building up troops on the border with Ukraine. The location is not specified. As Syria settles down a bit, Russia could be getting ready to reignite the simmering war in the Donbas. If timed with a larger-than-advertised Zapad 2017 military exercise, the Russians could both threaten the northern border of Ukraine to tie down Ukrainian troops and serve as a shield or sword against NATO in the Baltic region. Which argues for keeping the pressure on Assad so financially shaky Russia has to choose which adventure to finance.

A single brigade equipped with surveillance cameras tasked with controlling the border to me does not look like China is getting ready for something big in North Korea.

In a sane political world, I would heartily agree that injecting politics into a speech before the Boy Scouts was a breach of presidential protocol and an offense again politicizing every damn aspect of our lives. But no, the left has to turn the "Resistance" dial to 11 and compare the president's speech to Hitler speaking to the Hitler Youth, inflicting collateral damage on a valuable boys' organization in their eagerness to portray Trump as a national socialist dictator. So again, I back away from both the left and the president on this issue. Reducing my television news consumption has been a blessing. And I never have visited the most hyperbolic sources on the Internet. Serenity now.

Just a reminder that Hillary Clinton isn't the only Democrat with an IT problem. Just what have the Democrats in the House been doing? Stepping out of the falling building at the last minute only works in Road Runner cartoons.

The burning sensation means it's working!

I'm not sure how you fix this to balance civil liberties and appropriate intelligence gathering, but I do know that liberals would be up in arms if these violations of civil liberties had been taken by Trump rather than Obama.

I was just recalling that both my children, when they were little, liked me to sleep on the floor next to their beds while they fell asleep at night. I'd have to think fast for why I wasn't really trying to leave if one of them hadn't fallen asleep when I started to crawl out of the room!

Next year, Britain will send a warship to conduct freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea. Thank you, Britain. Sadly, I imagine the small size of the British fleet makes it difficult to do much on short notice so far from home. But the diplomatic support will be welcome. I'm sure the British won't forget this, after all.

Libyans have decided to bring Hiftar in from the cold. Good. Next get rid of the Islamist influence.

I'm sure many will have done exactly this by the time this post publishes, but what the heck:

Chapter 1: The Russians Trick Me Into Using a Private Server
Chapter 2: The Russians Trick Me Into Clinton Foundation Corruption
Chapter 3: Russians Trick Me Into Bland Robotic Policy-Avoiding Personality
Chapter 4: Russians Teach Me How to Rig a Primary Election
Chapter 5: The Russians Trick Me Into Running on My Gender
Chapter 6: The Russians Trick Me Into Ignoring Wisconsin
Chapter 7: The Russians Trick Me Into Ignoring Michigan
Chapter 8: The Russians Trick Me Into Ignoring Pennsylvania
Chapter 9: Russians Teach Me About Maskirova and I Blame the Russians
Chapter 10: I Endured Bill for This, You Ungrateful SOBs!
Chapter 11: You Will Be Forced to Love Me in 2020

The U.S. military has a new air- and now sea-launched (for the Navy) Long Range Anti-Ship Missile. It is a slower but stealthy missile. I noted the competing models here and the start of development for the ship-launched missile here.

It is disappointing that Congress has not repealed and replaced Obamacare. But the complaint that Republicans didn't craft a replacement while President Obama was in office is ridiculous. Why on Earth would Republicans draft a detailed plan that had no chance of passing but which would open up Republicans to nonstop Democratic-Media Complex savage attacks for "killing" Group X? And are you seriously claiming that this bill should have been written during the campaign? Who expected Trump to win? It only made sense to actually write a bill in January 2017 with the new Congress in office. Mind you, I'd like the Republicans to have a sense of urgency. But repeal soon with an effective date at the end of 2018 so there is a deadline and window to replace would be better, I think.

This is why I've long said it is a fool's game to try to control the ever-expanding federal government. Far better to shrink the power and scope of the federal government's reach. Of course, you have to control the federal government to do that ... If Republicans won't act when voters give them the chance to roll back the leviathan, their voters won't bother to vote. I know there is still time to pass something, but with Senator McCain voting that way (to make sure he isn't the target for a Democrat with better aim?), it will be difficult.

American liberals have found a new target for their panty-throwing obsession. (Sorry, Bernie.) Liberals aren't fleeing to Canada--despite their promises--so they now want to bring the face of Canada here. So Hillary has lost to Trump and now to someone who can't even legally be our president? What happened, indeed.

One of my frustrations with the American left has been their new inability to distinguish between illegal immigration and legal immigration set at levels that allow immigrants to integrate (and yes, assimilate, as generations of immigrants have done) into America. As a nation of ideas and not of blood and soil, anyone can be an American by adopting our ideas. If we can dramatically reduce illegal immigration by controlling our borders and fixing the visa system that counts on "visitors" voluntarily leaving when it is time, I would have no problem with legalizing rather than deporting illegals who have jobs and no crimes other than crossing the border on their record. But reversing the order is just a recipe for more illegal immigration.

Truly, this Russian navy planning document is sheer fantasy. But it is silly to claim that because it declines to challenge the US Navy that it is aimed at China when that was the status in the Cold War and when the bulk of the Russian fleet is in the west and would require a long trip to the east to rescue the Pacific Fleet yet just meet a new Tsushima fate.  We can only hope that Russia devotes scarce money to this source of Russian weakness.

I saw Dunkirk. It may be heresy to say that I think it was adequate. As a movie of various soda straw views of the epic evacuation, it was excellent. But you never really had the flow of the evacuation based on constant sinking of ships that gave the impression that the evacuation was failing miserably. Only a single line by a British officer near the end of the movie, saying that Churchill got over 300,000 troops away from the perimeter, finally tells you that the evacuation worked. Up until then you'd think from the movie that every soldier was being bombed and/or drowned. I enjoyed the movie. But was it history?

The biggest problem with self-driving cars is people. Tip to Instapundit. And they mostly talk about uncertainty and exploiting the cars in ways that inconvenience others. But don't under-estimate the ability of people to screw with the robots. I guarantee that it will be a sport for children and child-like adults to toss empty boxes in front of self-driving cars (or fly drones in front of, if you prefer) to watch them screech to a halt or carry out evasive maneuvers. Bank on that.

Are we using an "electricity bomb" that "screws with the enemy’s electronics, disabling them or making them catch fire or even explode, becoming little bombs in of themselves" against ISIL in Syria? (tip to Instapundit) I wonder if it is an F-22 or F-15 with an AESA radar focused on the enemy? The energy would fry unshielded civilian electronics, wouldn't it? And it would heat up metal from the sheer energy, right? Could the effects include exploding electronics or something that seems like that? The first article mentions the AESA radar without using the term.

The Hamburg mystery-motive attacker was a known Islamist. Why are so many "known wolves" allowed to walk free and have the opportunity to kill?

Families of American embassy staff in Venezuela were ordered to leave the country as the crisis there threatens to explode. The death toll has surpassed 100. It must be bad because I can't recall the last time Sean Penn praised the socialist country for its great success. Please, let him explain that President Obama undermined the socialist paradise for 8 years to get Venezuela to this point.

Ukraine has cut off electricity to Russian-occupied Donetsk. It's about time! Make Russia support their conquest. Why wasn't this done before?

This article notes that China would face a nationalist backlash if it backs down in the Doka La Pass stand-off, especially since Xi could use a victory before a fall Communist Party conference.  As I noted, China has experienced a number of losses in foreign policy and another one with India could be problematic for Xi.

Will attempting to isolate the aggressive Iran that is setting fires all around the Middle East and which never even admitted it had a nuclear program  isolate America in the "international community" instead of isolating Iran? If, as the author of this article argues, canceling the Iran "deal" on top of backing out of the pointless Paris climate deal and abandoning the Pacific trade deal that wouldn't have been passed even if Hillary Clinton had won the election will isolate America, the "international community" is a sad joke and should take a long walk on a short pier. The weight of the "international community" is stopping Iran. It won't be much of a speed bump for America.

The Imran Awan Democratic IT issue is starting to look, to me, like possible collusion with potential Pakistani intelligence leaks that could have flowed to jihadis and the Chinese (and maybe to the Russians if the Chinese wanted to share that bonanza with their little sidekick). And obstruction of justice, of course. We even have more cases of smashed hard drives (what is it with Democrats, they seem to seriously hate these cans hard drives). I've noted this odd issue before, puzzled that it was not getting more attention. The best case is that this is just ordinary Democratic corruption and sloppiness. The worst case is why I don't trust most Democrats on national security issues.

California secession backers to the rest of Trump-occupied Amerika:  We're taking the entire margin of Hillary's popular vote majority and leaving you suckers to fend for yourselves. Not that I want California to secede, mind you. China would love it, of course, notwithstanding the loss of the best targets within range of their nuclear missiles. Tip to Instapundit.

Democrats: We were just kidding about a full and comprehensive investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election! Tip to Instapundit.

This isn't just about the state preying on people for revenue in a legal shakedown. It's also a case of unequal treatment under the law for those with the money to pay for the better treatment. Tip, again, to Instapundit.

We think there are still 4,000 fighters and 3,000 paid supporters in ISIL's Iraq branch. One, that's not as high of a tooth-to-tail ratio that I'd think a terror group--even one with a proto-state--would have at this point. ISIL might want to hand out some guns to those ISIL desk jockeys. Two, that's a lot fewer than the 25,000 full-time insurgents we fought during the Iraq War counter-insurgency. This is not an insurmountable problem given the anger most Iraqis who live under ISIL rule have for the thugs. And three, some are still massed trying to hold territory. That opportunity to kill terrorists on a wholesale scale should be seized before they scatter and go underground which will lead to a slower-paced killing campaign against them.

Let me say that I am really happy with my massive reduction in watching TV news that is dominated by lefties turning the dial to 11 to attack Trump for every piddly thing; and fanboys (and girls) of Trump defending whatever he does. I can't help that TV encourages this kind of discourse. I can control whether I consume that product. I choose not to. It's liberating, really.