Sunday, April 30, 2017

Weekend Data Dump

A while back I wondered why so many French fled to Britain to find work when the reason given for allowing so much immigration to France is that the lack of workers (from low birth rates) requires importing workers. In a fascinating essay, the reason proposed for the situation is that working class French can't afford to live in the elite cities where the jobs are located. The French have a solution of course. They ban criticism of society for the plight of the working class. I guess the first rule of Plight Club is don't talk about Plight Club. For America's left which seems to take sick delight in higher death rates of middle aged white working class males, the same thing is happening in their beloved and nuanced France. Thank God nobody wants to suppress freedom of speech here to discuss our problems.

My daughter was selected to go to a girls in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) event (why yes, I am a proud dad, since you ask). What cracks me up is that a local organic market provided food for the event. Which is nice. But nothing says "science" like extolling low-yield, hippie-grown food while reflexively rejecting modern farming methods and GMOs, eh? Related thoughts on never letting a made-up crisis go to waste.

Yes, we need to be vigilant in reminding China that an air defense identification zone is fine but is not an expression of territorial sovereignty. And in an example of why I don't enable comments, some troll wrongly claimed in a comment that we ordered the Russians who recently flew near Alaska to get our of our air defense identification zone. No, we politely escorted the Russians in international air space to let them know we are aware of them. Seriously, we only observed them in international air space.

Reducing corruption strengthens rule of law, which makes governments better, which improves people's lives. And yes, crony capitalism which exists here (some companies and industries are favored over others) counts as corruption.

If the French conventional political parties had addressed societal and economic problems rather than say that even discussing them are out of bounds, the French wouldn't have their election problem. Remember, we have had the same unwillingness to discuss the problems--just saying the people with concerns are "deplorable"--that it nearly gave us Bernie Sanders as the Democratic nominee and did give us Donald Trump as the Republican nominee and president. So the "shut up" Democrats and the "deaf" Republican leadership share the responsibility for our election outcome. Mind you I'm still thrilled that Clinton was denied the presidency by Trump, who will have my gratitude forever just for that. But you have to admit that the shakiness of our political parties comes from failure to address the problems of people not part of the coastal elites.

I think the March for Science was an embarrassment for the participants. Science is about discovering the truth of how our world works. Politics is about who gets what. Those marching for "science" believe they and they alone have arrived at and perfected truth; and those marchers believe that science--even if they are absolutely right on the problem, the solution, and the trade-offs involved in the solution, can be translated into effective government policy without politics making the science just another tool to determine who gets what. So the marchers for science show they understand neither science nor politics. Mind you, I think the organizers understand that quite well. The image of "science" they sell is just one way to support their left-wing policy proposals. Of course, if you think of the marchers as going on a pilgrimage, it all makes sense. Much more here if you really want to think about Earth Day.

At the intersection of Cultural Appropriation and White Supremacy: "American race-faker Rachel Dolezal has returned to the limelight with her first ever visit to Africa on a lecture tour about race – a move which has been met with outrage, calls for a boycott and a string of scathing memes." So a white woman goes to Africa to lecture actual Africans about being black? So she thinks white people understand Black people more than actual Africans? That's got to be problematic.

Should pain and shame be restored to state punishment for crimes? Funny enough, the Twitter mobs use these tactics (yes, putting out location information is potentially dangerous) against the hate-target of the day. But the government can't do it under rule of law. Tip to Instapundit. Let me say that the one argument against shame is that in the past the shame could teach you a lesson and in small communities, people could more easily forgive you. And if not, you could move elsewhere where people don't know your shame and fear of repeating your experience can shape a better life. How do you escape the Internet once shamed?

The French two-step election process is designed to let voter vote with their hearts in the first round and then vote against their fears in the second. This is supposed to ensure the victory of the centrists (who won't rock the boat even if a giant squid jumps in the boat). So Macron is favored. But will fear inspire more French voters in their second round to vote for or against Le Pen? I don't like Le Pen. But she is the only one who even admitted there is a giant squid in the boat. And even if Macron wins, the fear will remain and grow stronger.

Iraqi forces will fight carefully to erase ISIL's toe hold in Mosul. Troops and families of troops are voters, too. That is a victory alone for the long-suffering people of Iraq who have endured Saddam, Sunni jihadis, and Iranian plots to dominate Iraq.

Remember when Sally Field said "You like me! Right now, you like me!" Yeah, this is the opposite. (And yeah, the people who didn't vote last time will vote this time for sure.) That's gotta hurt. Democrats will likely perform triage and apply the coup de grĂ¢ce to Hillary (and Chelsea while they are at it).

American and Egyptian forces have resumed military exercises, in this case Eagle Salute 2017,  which increases the ability to operate against Iranian smuggling in the Red Sea to ship weapons to the Yemen Houthis and Hamas in Gaza, as well as potential action against pirates.

The cause of this development will forever remain a mystery.

The Obama administration was clearly willing to do anything to get Iran's agreement to a deal.  My abysmally low level of nuance clearly makes me unable to appreciate the Smart Diplomacy.

Bill Nye, what guy?  I'd say I'm disappointed in him, but my expectations are now so low that I didn't even blink. I think I almost feel sorry for Nye. Tip to the PJ Media Borg.

It is possible that Trump only wants the UN to slap harsher sanctions on North Korea and made that job easier by convincing the UN Security Council that sanctions are way better than a war that is likely without harsher sanctions.

I really hope that liberals are just a little embarrassed by now that their fantasies of Trump as a Russian puppet and as a fascist are so wrong. Don't like his policies? Fine. That is normal to do. Lord knows he wasn't my first--or tenth--choice. It's not my fault your choice was worse than Trump. But honestly, don't liberals feel silly given that Russian guards aren't staffing detention camps outside of LA with Hollywood actors as inmates?

Yes, for all their supposed European nuance, the French concept of "left" and "right" doesn't really translate well for America. It really would be better to have a spectrum that goes from individual liberty to state control--which would put communists, socialists, and national socialists on the same part of the political spectrum. Really, our media tends to call anyone they don't like "conservatives" or "right-wing."

I suspect we're coming closer to sinking an Iranian Revolutionary Guard vessel the way the Iranians keep harassing our Navy.

I don't write much about EMP attacks, but they are on my radar screen. We should definitely harden our national electricity grid to withstand such a strike, including stockpiling critical equipment that takes a long time to build in order rebuild the critical grid backbone to repair damage more quickly.

Personally, I like the idea of an inheritance tax to prevent a hereditary upper class from forming. There should be an exempt amount for most Americans and to allow family businesses to be passed down easily. I know that puts me apart from Republicans, but in my view such second generation wealthy tend to be very liberal, so there is a practical objective on top of my general objective.

Liberals who look the other way while communists and anarchists pretend to speak for them should not remain silent in the face of far left threats of violence. Targets will organize and fight back if the authorities--who should be doing their jobs--don't stop the leftist thugs. The communists and anarchists want blood in the streets. Do liberals? You guys are paying for the protests (and I was amused to read one site where communists complained that Democrats created a front organization--the Direct Action Alliance--involved in the "protest" in Portland in the first link). Anybody on the left who doesn't oppose those far left thugs should scrape off that COEXIST bumper sticker from their car. Tip to Instapundit. Seriously, why do liberals love the French for everything but their willingness to restore order?

I don't know about this. I think that prior to 1989 Russia was (when it was the Soviet Union) an Asian power. Since then Russia has been a European power with an extended valuable but vulnerable Asian appendage. And the puzzlement of why Russia hasn't diversified relations in Asia to balance reliance on China answers itself: Russia is so weak in Asia that it can't balance China and so appeases China.

You can't see me, but I have on my "I honestly don't care what you think" face. Tip to Instapundit.

Well that's a damned shame.  The Russians will wonder if the Turks (despite the ramming ship being Togo-flagged, it was apparently that ship's fault) had a hand in deliberately sinking that spy ship. Perhaps the Turks learned from the Chinese on using a naval militia to do the dirty work.

To be fair, some men are so wealthy and liberal that they think they can do anything to a woman. Consequences are for the little deplorable people.

One reason I wasn't worried about Trump on foreign policy is that I assumed that by appointing Republicans, President Trump would bend to realities to forge a foreign policy more in line with our interests. Trump isn't an ideologue the way Obama was (is) in forging policy based on his vision of what foreign policy should be (regardless of the reality of the world). Trump has bent to realities. And he is doing it early; unlike President Obama who in many ways persisted in trying to impose his fantasy world beliefs on the world as it exists until the moment he left office.

Our cruise missile submarine Michigan is in Korean waters. We have four of those. If we are seriously going to go after North Korea, I imagine we'd have 3 of them on station. Which we can do. Although we couldn't know they are there, of course. If we didn't want North Korea and China to see Michigan, we wouldn't have seen her.

It is interesting that the Saudis stopped a robotic explosives boat.  It wasn't long ago that a Saudi ship was hit by one. Is this a sign of how long the war has been raging that I am encouraged that the Shia Houthis don't have a ready supply of suicide bombers as Sunni jihadis do?

Of course the Iran deal is even worse than we thought. And that's saying something considering how bad I think it is.

Iraqis who aren't Iranian hand puppets seem to want American troops to stay in Iraq post-Mosul.

Does the Navy have an innovation crisis? Defense of the super carrier as the center of our fleet for sea control and determination to carry out large-scale amphibious warfare in the face of cheap, effective precision weapons guided by cheap, pervasive surveillance networks makes me think the answer could be "yes."

I'd like to note that I wouldn't value Nancy Pelosi's opinion on whether I should have fries with that burger I order, let alone any public policy question. I'm starting to think she's performance art, or something.

Whatever else you may want to say about Saudi Arabia, President Trump's complaint that Saudi Arabia doesn't do enough for their defense is wrong given that the Saudis rank 4th in defense spending and spend 10% of their GDP on defense. And the Saudis took the lead in blunting Iran's drive to expand influence in civil war-wracked Yemen. I'm not sure what the point of Trump's statement is.

I really have no use for the Center for No American Security. Their paper on the view from Russia seems to validate Russian complaints that American efforts to support Ukraine and Georgia are efforts to get proxies in Russia's "near abroad" (former territories) when they are simply helping nations that escaped Russian imperial control; and wrongly terms Syria as part of that "near abroad." Further, painting America as Russia's main threat when we are far from them (and supposedly distracted by fighting jihadis) totally ignores bordering and growing China which has actual territorial claims on Russian territory that Russia took from China (which kind of makes a "century of humiliation" by Western nations pale in comparison, eh?). Yes, Russia relies on nukes to provide the ultimate defense of their massive border. But let's not dignify Russia's fantasy Western threat by going along with it. Also, I think this is nonsense: "Traditional notions of the front and the rear, strong points, flanks and junctions, and combat-contact lines will be largely outmoded." Technology changes but those longstanding notions of warfare are not going away. I have to wonder how much of the Russian information cited is disinformation.

I haven't gone from relief that Hillary Clinton lost to horror that Donald Trump won the 2016 election, as I thought I might. Of course, I was never seriously worried that Trump would result in a worst case scenario from either my perspective or the fantasy fascist dystopia  that liberals conjured up. I figured the office, our vast government, and reality would shape him in better directions. So far so good. So while I am also someone who was not (and still isn't) fond of Trump it isn't accurate to say I'm "pleasantly surprised" at how Trump is doing. It would be more accurate to say that I harbored some fear that I could be wrong on Trump being shaped by outside forces. That fear has not arisen in the first 100 days. Also, when the grading of Trump is so wildly different, you know that the grades are based on ideology and not on simply being president. So no dystopian future. Just politics.

There is no irony in Berkeley starting the "free speech movment" and suppressing free speech today. It was always the "our (left wing) speech movement."

A French amphibious warfare carrier and hundreds of marines (and I assume escorting and support ships) have arrived in the Pacific. While it is a drop in the bucket fleet-wise, it is a significant capability when you note that so much of the tension there involves Chinese threats to small islands. So, welcome France!

There is unrest in the provinces of Russia. Whether this amounts to something more significant is unknown. Putin does have his personally loyal (but is it in practice?) national guard to put down unrest that becomes more significant--or to start a "small" war to make their protests look unpatriotic. I still wonder if the Russian empire, after fragmenting in 1989 and 1991, is done fragmenting.

Poland is working with Ukraine on updating helicopters. Ukraine uses them and Poland while in NATO has a lot of experience with Soviet-made stuff. I assume that former Soviet vassals now in NATO work with Ukraine on armored vehicles and other weapons to upgrade Soviet-era stuff with Western technology to help Ukraine fight the ongoing Russian occupation of Ukrainian territory.

Sadly, hateful eliminationist rhetoric is still part of politics. Tip to Instapundit.

American natural gas to Europe could be as important for defending Europe from Russia as (but not a substitute for, I should add) a full American heavy division sitting in southern Poland.

While I am worried that our Army (and military in general) needs to rebalance for conventional warfare after so many years fighting insurgents, let me note that I was fully on board the need to unbalance the Army (and Marines) for COIN to win on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. I can't forget that our Army didn't want to fully adapt to the Vietnam War to avoid "wrecking" our Army needed to defend NATO, yet got both defeat and a wrecked Army for a decade anyway.

Seriously, this isn't a defense of "science" but of religious fanaticism on a jihad against unbelievers. Tip to Instapundit.

If the Russians are ready to "cooperate" with America on Syria, it means either that the Russians expect America to cooperate with a Russian/Assad win; or it means that the Russians have their nuts in a vice and want help extricating themselves. They grew used to both of those things the prior 8 years.

And a North Korean missile failed on Saturday.  Was this a new KN-17 missile failing or an older Scud missiles fired just because they are getting old and if they work, it's a nice propaganda stunt as valuable training? The article says the former, but the latter is fairly common.

Erdogan's purge continues. If the coup had this many backers, the coup would have worked.

The noose around ISIL-held Raqqa continues to tighten as American-backed militias claw away at the Tabqa region.  I continue to wonder what Assad will do. He has incentive to erase the stain of that Dien Bien Phu moment. Would American firepower try to stop Assad if his troops try to exploit the defeat of ISIL at Tabqa? UPDATE: On Monday, that SDF militia claims to have taken Tabqa.

I mentioned that I dropped Facebook. And I won't go on Twitter. It's just a larger-than-bumper sticker style of communication that rewards mean Tweets and 5-minute hates on the target of the day. As newspaper editors might say, "Democracy dies in snarkness."

I don't know what President Trump was thinking telling the South Koreans they have to pay for the THAAD missile defense system we are installing there and that our trade relations must change. Unless our president is trying to scare South Korean voters away from the left in their upcoming election by raising the possibility that South Korea might face North Korea without our full support, this was dumb. And it probably wasn't wise even if my speculation is near the target.

So ... last year Hillary Clinton was under criminal investigation for her email violations rather than just being peripheral to some vague security review. She damaged national security with her off-the-books email server while Secretary of State--and is apparently getting away with it. Rule of law doesn't look so good when it only applies to the weak and powerless.

Yes, Venezuela's socialist government effed up an oil-wet dream despite the world's fourth largest petroleum reserves. Or are you suggesting that President Obama spent 8 years undermining the glorious socialist experiment there? After all, the only other alternative to admitting the bankruptcy of socialism is to suggest that President Trump is so super competent that he managed this level of sabotage in just 100 days! God help them down there. The ugly is just beginning.

The United Arab Emirates is certainly willing to punch above its weight class. Being useful attracts larger allies, of course.