Sunday, January 01, 2017

Weekend Data Dump

It amazes me that Democrats continue to whine about minority voter suppression as a reason for Hillary Clinton's loss. How effective was that voter suppression when Clinton actually won the popular vote in the 2016 (as they annoyingly keep bringing up, irrelevant though it is)? And why did voter suppression work in 2014 when Republicans won elections but fail in 2012 when President Obama won? Why did voter suppression work in 2010 but fail in 2008 and again in 2006? Why is a fluctuation in voter turnout blamed on nefarious Republican voter suppression when minority (and majority) votes go up and down? Shouldn't actual voter suppression be more consistently effective?  And since this alleged suppression isn't consistently effective, shouldn't that expose the lie that Democratic voters are suppressed?

Is Britain returning "east of Suez" to bolster friendships in the Persian Gulf? Britain's military is far smaller than nearly a half century ago when Britain pulled out of  the region. I'd rather see the British focus on the northern flank of NATO, from Norway to Poland. But perhaps arms sales to the Arab oil exporting states are motivating this move?

I used to think that donation transparency was a reasonable idea, but given how the left tries to bully opponents into silence, I changed my mind about that idea quite some time ago.

Of course Hezbollah wants Aleppo to be the signal of the end of the civil war in Syria. Hezbollah suffered heavy casualties bolstering Assad and a lot of Shias in Lebanon who did the dying aren't thrilled by that prospect continuing. Note too that Hezbollah recognizes that if there is no settlement that Assad needs to defend Aleppo if he wants to hold it.

America made Middle East peace between the Palestinians and Israel harder by refusing to veto a Security Council resolution that condemns Israeli settlements without demanding that the Palestinians end their objective to eliminate Israel or at least murder Jews until that glorious day can be achieved. I have never bought the notion that American liberals embrace that Middle East problems can't be solved until the priority problem of Israeli-Palestinian peace is achieved first. Arab countries clearly see Islamist jihadis and Iran as their main problems, which have nothing to do with Israel. Indeed, Israel is increasingly seen by Arab states as an ally against the terror and Iranian problems that plague Israel and Arab states alike.

Of course, Stratfor writes that the geography and history of the region makes any UNSC resolution--including the recent one--fairly meaningless.

Could the Russian cyber-war effort against the American election prove to be a Pearl Harbor moment that rallies America to seriously fight back? Could be. I already think the Russian effort to discredit our system and harm a future President Clinton failed. While Russia clearly helped Trump, I don't think he believed Clinton would lose any more than most analysts here did, relying on the same data. And the sight of people voting for Trump despite the hostility of the press and power structure can't have been comforting to Putin. And now, Russia may find that the effort backfired even more if it awakens a cyber-giant.

A charitable organization in Portugal--with a lot of city financial support--has installed the first "solidarity lockers" in front of a Lisbon train station. The lockers are provided to the homeless on one-year terms to hold their stuff. So a prime terrorist target now has large lockers temporarily owned by very poor people. I'm sure no jihadi terrorists would ever consider paying some homeless guy (likely with the guy unaware of the connection) to use their locker to store weapons and explosives for an attack on that train station.

I seriously believe that the whole UN Security Council resolution abstention kerfuffle regarding Israeli settlements is part of the president's goal of becoming UN Secretary General. He is a post-American citizen of the world, eh? Seriously, we must have been behind the resolution. Would we really violate our long-standing policy by abstaining on a resolution we didn't craft? And that will cement President Obama's campaign to be the next Secretary General (in quite a few years, I admit, after the next one's term expires).

Russia indignantly denies they were involved in a massive doping scandal to pump up their athletes for the Olympics and other international events. But remember that Russia denies invading Ukraine, too.

I've long expected China's fast run at economic expansion to end, which will cause problems for China's communist rulers who maintain a monopoly on political rule. But China rolls along. But the problems that could lead to an economic crisis continue to roll along, too, without being resolved. I do worry that when economic growth stops legitimizing communist rule, the rulers will pump of the nationalism with a foreign crisis to rally the people around their monopoly rule.

If you wonder why Venezuela might become the first foreign policy crisis rather than the usual suspects in a race to be first. It got ugly fast, as National Review noted in citing that reporter's work on the issue.

I don't have a lot to add about the poor morale and funding of our ICBM crews and equipment other than to say this is a huge problem that must be resolved. Unhappy people are vulnerable to mistakes and subversion. Our nukes are too important to leave in that state of affairs. I'd hope.

There was a terror attack in Baghdad. My sense from the news flow is that these are less frequent, which shows that taking Fallujah and other areas near Baghdad worked to deprive ISIL of launching pads for these assaults in the "Baghdad belt."

Here's a tweet from NASA: "If all of Greenland's ice melted, it would raise sea level ~23 ft. That's enough to put coastlines throughout the world under water." Are you scared? Do you need to go and change your armor? Well, if this happens, it would likely take nearly 7,000 years to occur. So you can sign that multi-year apartment lease on beachfront property if you want. Could we have another "imminent" debate on this? When the global warmers have to mislead on every darned thing, do you wonder why I'm a skeptic of their claims?

If education is so important, why do we spend so much money adding highly paid non-teaching employees to college and K-12 staffs who seem to do nothing but deal with increasingly numerous government regulations and initiatives?

Military health experts are warning against energy drink over-use. Sure. But what are the health risks of falling asleep on duty with enemies around? This is interesting: "The CDC reports that service members who drink three or more energy drinks per day are significantly more likely to report sleeping fewer than four hours per night. They are also more likely to report disrupted sleep and other illnesses." I'd be curious to know whether those who sleep fewer than 4 hours drink 3 or more energy drinks as a result, or whether it is vice versa. That would be important causation to know, right?

Iraqi troops continue to advance into Mosul exclusively on the east bank of the Tigris River. If the Iraqis really do keep advancing through Mosul from the east, via a river assault that sends the Iraqi troops into western Mosul with the southern forces acting as the anvil rather than the hammer, I will be shocked.

The Russians hacked a Vermont utility. Well, one of their computers, anyway (link added as an update, via Instapundit). But I assume this means that the Russians wanted Hillary Clinton to be the Democratic nominee and were prepared to act against Bernie Sanders' home state if it looked like he might win. For shame, Putin. Bernie honeymooned in the USSR, for Pete's sake!

Question: If President Obama truly believes that being on the "right side of history" means he does not have to intervene against bad actors since those bad actors will ultimately fail under the weight of history's inexorable push to rightness, why did he engineer that anti-Israel resolution in the UN Security Council that he then refused to veto? If Israel is on the wrong side of history, shouldn't history deal with Israel? Or has that Obama administration "right side of history" talk just been an excuse to do nothing to defend American interests?

A useful summary of the Russian effort to influence our election. One, I believe Russia was active. Two, I don't think Russia was trying to get Trump elected, just damage Clinton the winner. And three, I don't see Russia's effort having much of an effect on voters' views of both well-known candidates. Hillary did win the popular vote, remember. Which while irrelevant for the outcome based on electoral votes, is surely relevant to Russian persuasion of voters, eh? Note too that the intelligence summary whipped together in record time for the administration is mostly advice on how to keep your computer from being penetrated. Tip to Instapundit.