Sunday, January 15, 2017

Weekend Data Dump

I don't understand why Americans who are opposed to a wall on our porous southern border are so committed to thinking anyone who supports a wall is anti-immigrant. America was built by immigrants. I'm a fan. My family came to America. But what I am also in favor of is sovereignty that gives America the right to say which and how many immigrants get to come in. Remember, we all agree immigration built America. So setting the terms of immigration to make sure that immigration continues to benefit America should be a no-brainer--even for opponents of the wall. In time, if given the opportunity, immigrant communities assimilate. We are a nation of ideas and not of blood and soil, so anyone can become and American. I support a wall--or more accurately, immigration controls. It could include walls where appropriate. And a wall has to be defended, of course, or it is worthless. But it has to be one part of controls that include visa over-stays and fines on businesses who hire illegal aliens. I want immigration. And I want it on our terms. [Okay, I just noticed that I basically wrote this in the last weekend data dump without remembering it. Grant me I am consistent, at least!]

American tanks and heavy equipment are heading to eastern NATO to begin exercises at the end of the month. There was a time prior to Russia's invasion of Ukraine that we had no heavy armor in Europe after pulling the last tanks out. Yet the Russians claimed we were out to get them. And now the tanks are back in small numbers. More will arrive if Putin keeps acting the way he is.

Stratfor writes about China's attempts to break out of the island chains that could allow America to strangle Chinese trade, especially vital imports. It's interesting--although I question the aside that America is bad at counter-insurgency. We did win in Iraq--the Obama administration boasted about it. And even in Vietnam we defeated the insurgency. Sadly North Vietnamese armor led a conventional invasion that conquered South Vietnam. But I digress.  The interesting thing about sea lines of communication is that they go from China to some other destination. While we would want to hold the line at the offshore island chains for many other reasons, even if China captures all of them via alliance or invasion, our fleet and air power could operate in the western Indian Ocean or eastern Pacific to halt oil exports to China very far from China. And that's apart from our ability to take the ports with ground troops and prevent the tankers from sailing. China's ports are vulnerable to strikes and minefields. So China hasn't even solved their end of the sea line of communication issue, let alone the distant ends.

Here's an interesting piece on British trade options post-Brexit. Assuming the empire lets Britain go, of course. Which I don't assume is a given. Plenty of Brits still want to bend the knee to Brussels, remember.

For all the worries about whether President Trump will stand up to Russia in NATO, our NATO allies in the Baltics are worried right now about whether President Obama will provide leadership to protect them: “,They’re scared to death of Russia,' Army Gen. Raymond Thomas told The New York Times after a visit to Lithuania. 'They are very open about that. They’re desperate for our leadership.'” Tip to Instapundit.

It won't happen, but if progressives in California who feel so alienated get their wish and secede from the United States of America (tip to Instapundit), they will be abandoning their progressive brethren to Republican rule for a generation at least.

As Republicans learn to love Julian Assange and Democrats learn to hate the Russians (and the reverse), I like to think that my even keel on my views earns me credibility. Whether or not I am right or wrong, I do not blow with the wind on such basic things just because it is politically convenient. I'd like to think I'd be that way even if I wasn't a nonpartisan research analyst for a couple decades.

I assume that Yemen government operations (backed by the Saudi coalition) against Iranian supported Shia rebels near the Red Sea are being done at our government's urging to help protect our ships that have come under fire in the region from Iran's Houthi allies there.

Strategypage has more on the analog drones we sent to Ukraine that Russians promptly hacked. I guess we didn't want to risk our digital drones. But isn't that a good reason to send them now to see if they can survive in a Russian hacking environment rather than blissfully go on unaware of flaws until revealed in a war we are in?

Is it any wonder our reputation in the Arab world is reeling under President Obama? Now we find that we actually sent Iran--the prime enemy of many Arab states--at least $10 billion in cash, gold, and other assets--on top of the economic relief and green light to Iran's nuclear program that Iran swears has nothing to do with nuclear weapons. Tip to Instapundit.

When the band played their rifles.

To help Afghan forces defend Helmand province, we decided to send 300 Marines there.

Indonesia has a lot of people. So it isn't shocking that some will become jihadis. The Indonesian government continues to battle them.

Meryl Streep complained that Republicans are against foreigners in America. As I noted at the first data dump above, it seems that the Left really has a problem distinguishing between being against illegal immigration and for controlling our border to regulate legal immigration as we see fit on the one hand, and being against "foreigners" or all immigrants on the other hand. Those are different things. I'm for controlling our borders and I'm for regulated immigration. Streep and her cheering fans can't see that? Why? I thought they were the ones who intuitively grasped nuance. Was Streep really suggesting that those foreign actors in Hollywood are here illegally? Tip to Instapundit.

Oh come on! This kerfuffle has to be an example of the dread "cultural appropriation," no? At least President Akufo-Addo didn't talk about his ancestors' long days in the coal mines and playing football after.

Our new Iranian pals essentially made a mock attack run with their small boats at one of our warship in the Strait of Hormuz. This stuff is common and so just makes the data dump. When the Iranians actually fire at or ram one of our ships, rest assured I'll bump it to its own post.

So Meryl Streep defended the honor of Hollywood against Donald Trump who said women would let a powerful man grab their p***y and who seems to have mocked a disabled man, which deeply troubled Streep; but Hollywood pretty much considers an actress "handicapped" if she is over 35 and Streep herself gave a child raper a standing ovation. I don't want to hear one damn word about morality from her ilk. Tip to Instapundit.

I think anyone who has served in uniform can share the joy of ending the scourge of Aquaflage for the Navy.

Stereotypes held by the well-educated deplorables. This is true: "[The working class] are also widely thought to be intolerant. But as far as I can tell, no class and no political faction dominates the market in intolerance." Indeed. As I've said many times on this blog, it is a crime against language that "liberal minded" is considered to be the same as "open minded." Tip to Instapundit.

Do liberals still want us to be more like sophisticated transnational Europeans? "EU Commissioner Guenther Oettinger defended himself on Monday over controversial remarks he made about women, homosexuals and Chinese people." But I freely admit I am deficient in nuance.

This Strategypage post on Segway-based target robots to train marksmanship to American troops is pretty awesome. I just had pop-up "Ivan" targets way back when.

China sent their Liaoning carrier task force--or just a group of ships if I overstate their ability to fight as a unit--through the Taiwan Strait. Taiwan sent planes and ships to watch the transit. This was propaganda because China would no more risk their carrier so close to Taiwan than we would send ours close to China.

Give the Littoral Combat Ship time. Sure, I'm on board the notion that the new LCS can work through the teething problems of this new type of ship. But I strenuously deny that the LCS can ever be a replacement for smaller vessels like the Cyclone class for working close to enemy shores. The LCS is too fragile and too expensive to be considered a ship for working in the littorals. Ever. Under virtually any circumstances.

The Germans are expanding their military presence in Mali (to 1,000 troops). Think of it as the first line of defense to prevent mass migration that affects Germany. 

Will the Democrats so eager to investigate the possibility that Russia has compromising information on Donald Trump have the same enthusiasm for looking into what all those deleted "personal emails on Chelsea's wedding and yoga lessons" that Hillary Clinton wrote on her personal, off-the-books private email server contained and whether the Russians have had compromising information on Hillary and other Democrats? That question was rhetorical, I hasten to add. 

Jonah Goldberg writes that the president's farewell rally--in addition to being a big wet kiss to himself--demonstrated how President Obama believes that democracy works when you agree with him but fails when you resist. It has always been a matter of the Progressive Borg assimilating all resistance. As I wrote in 2011, that whole post-2008 election "52 to 48" campaign where tilty-headed leftists asked McCain voters to "join" them was always a thinly disguised offer to accept the complete surrender of conservatives--not any type of offer to work together. The whole misbegotten Obamacare legislation process showed that.

Rail guns continue to be developed, although there are a lot of engineering problems to solve before they are a weapon and not a science fair project. 

Defense policy made me a Republican when I was young. As the Democratic Party demonstrates its utter contempt for working class people who refuse to shut up and remain on the liberal plantation, my politics are anchored more fully. And it increases my sympathy for Trump, who I long detested. Liberal elites have long enjoyed despising the working class, which feeds their wholly unearned sense of superiority. I find it kind of funny that poor white Democrats in the 19th century South backed their wealthy slave-owning elites at least in part because the existence of slavery gave even the poorest free white person a class of people they could look down on. Break into small groups and discuss.

I have no problem with an investigation into the FBI's conduct during the election if it includes the underlying illegal Clinton email server (and illegal transmission of classified material and illegal erasing of emails) and the question of whether the Attorney General Lynch-Bill Clinton tarmac meeting that both parties insist did not involve any "discussion" of the Hillary email case was legal. In particular I want to know if the denial that they "discussed" the case is a denial limited to spoken communication. Was there written or other communication on the subject in that highly problematic encounter? Or will Bill Clinton insist he had no "communication relations with that woman--Loretta Lynch" on that plane? The blinders of the established press is amazing. In asking why President Obama did nothing to stop the known Russian efforts prior to the election, Ignatius doesn't even consider the possibility that the efforts were having zero effect on voters. Of course, there is a reason why the press doesn't even think to ask some questions.

America approved sending an additional 130 tons of Uranium to Iran, on top of what they had and have purchased. No worries, in it's "original form" it is harmless, the Obama administration claims! Iran would never ever use it for nuclear warhead. Or send it to their close friend North Korea to make nuclear warhead for Iran, eh? This article says the shipment is meant to encourage Iran to remain "committed" to the agreement. Wait. What? We have to keep bribing them? I must admit I'd be pretty committed to a deal that gave me everything I want. What's next, sending the mullah nutballs a fully functioning squadron of Minuteman III nuclear missiles to keep Iran "committed" to the deal?

The 2011 Arab Spring was a disappointment for those who wanted democracy and rule of law. It showed a longing for an alternative to autocracy or Islamist rule. Which is a good sign for the long run. But in the short run we have civil war in Syria and budding civil war in Libya, with Egypt right back where they started with autocracy. Only in Tunisia was there some success. And there, resentment over lack of economic progress for rural Tunisians has sparked new protests and riots. Could there be an Arab Re-Spring?

I'd be shocked if Russia didn't have something to do with this provocation: "A Serbian train halted at the border with Kosovo and bearing signs reading "Kosovo is Serbian," has fueled a major crisis in the Balkans and escalated a potential Russia-West row over dominance in the heart of the Balkans." Remember, Russia recently "donated" MiG-29 fighters and T-72 tanks to Serbia, as I recently noted. UPDATE: More on the potential crisis. Russia is not mentioned as a potential instigator. UPDATE: Remember that Russia has long wanted "revenge" for the Kosovo War.