Sunday, October 22, 2017

Weekend Data Dump

The Mexican people noticed that the death toll of their recent earthquake was elevated because of corruption that made central Mexico where the quake hit less resilient to damage. Will Puerto Rico demand similar reforms because of what the hurricanes revealed?

Speaking truth to power is one thing when "power" won't retaliate because of decency, freedom, and rule of law; but tolerating speaking truth to a power that is willing to kill you in the most gruesome way imaginable is quite another. Well, the university wouldn't want to catch the attention of some jihadi for tolerating that kind of statement of fact, eh? The Soviets defined opposition to communism as a mental health issue and locked dissidents away to be "treated." American colleges clearly think opposition to their approved views requires mental health intervention (with a "behavior intervention team"), too. I thought we won the damned Cold War. Tip to Instapundit.

Strategypage discusses the Chinese stealth program and the fact that the newly deployed J-20 is a frontal only stealth plane (as I noted recently) that is more of a development to true stealth in the future.

Some murderous sickos slaughtered at least 200 300 in Mogadishu with truck bombs. By the time this is published I'm sure jihadis will be found responsible. Al Shabab is suspected, but the real news is that the original target was the new Turkish base in Somalia. Huh.

The Philippines is nearing the end of the reconquest of the city of Marawi which jihadis had oddly taken.

A tour of Mali and the surrounding territory where jihadis are a problem. The French do a lot in this area where they used to be a colonial power. The jihadi problem a bit to the east is why America's AFRICOM is more active.

Ukraine has found that cheaper and less advanced tanks work better against the AstroTurf rebels in the Donbas. A willingness to fight is more important there. But Ukraine should learn a lesson from Iraq which evolved their tank force in the long Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988) to focus on simple and cheaper tanks suitable to fighting Iranian light infantry only to find that those simple tanks were no match for the advanced American and British tanks that led the offensive to free Kuwait from Iraqi control in 1991. Cheaper tanks weren't the only problem Iraq had, of course, but Russia looms behind the Donbas and would be a different type of foe altogether.

To be fair, Jimmy Kimmel is handicapped in condemning Hollywood's predatory culture given that whole "women jumping on trampolines" thing.

A fascinating debate on free speech. The one woman on the panel threw the victim card really early and tried to make the debate about her (no doubt genuine) painful past. It was really sad to witness. Although it didn't prevent her from being in her current position, I'll say. It strikes me that the pro-censorship side is claiming that free speech is great--eventually. But until then, wise leaders must limit free speech until we are all capable of equally exercising free speech. Which sounds suspiciously like communism where the vanguard of the people must build socialism without allowing a shred of freedom until true communism blooms and the dictatorial state that suppresses freedom on that path magically fades away.

This reflects what I've felt about doctors treating the patient's data rather than the patient. I too had borderline high bad cholesterol. Which is quite an improvement over a decade ago, I should add. But I'm not sure what the drama was in the story. I simply told my doctor that rather than take statins I'd work on making sure I had more fruits and vegetables in my diet. And I've lost some weight and made sure I exercise. My doctor did tell me I was in amazingly good health notwithstanding my age. So I figured why take medication when anything can have side effects? Besides, does taking statins really fight the problem or mask it by lowering the data marker? Anyway, I treated the recommendation as a suggestion and I turned it down. Without any drama. Now if he had said, "We really need to do something about that dangling limb hanging by a thread," I'd do whatever he said I should do!

A French intelligence agent accidentally texted the Islamist target of his surveillance, revealing that French intelligence was on to the man and his comrades. Oops. On the bright side, the Islamist was too eager to reply in order to gloat rather than remaining silent to let the agent think his surveillance wasn't blown a little longer.

Is it really true that the first 100-200 F-35s won't be updated and so will be incapable of being more than training aircraft with no ability to participate in combat? That harms our ability to mount a stealth-only campaign over North Korea in the early hours of a fight. In one sense it might not matter because one way or the other we will need F-35s in training units and so the planes will be unavailable for combat regardless of the planes' capabilities. But still, this seems wrong. Maybe I'm wrong to worry.

I guess there is a multi-step theory of getting Hillary Clinton into the White House. This insanity masquerading as thinking strikes me as likely as the gnome profit plan:

US-backed militias have largely secured Raqqa in Syria by defeating ISIL there. The really big question is whether those forces--and not only the Syrian Kurds--continue to resist Assad and whether they continue to be US-backed in that case.

Democrats have been so eager to find collusion and corruption involving Russia and American politicians that they will surely be ecstatic that it has been found.

Jihadis will remain a problem despite the defeat of ISIL's caliphate until the Moslem world resolves their civil war on who gets to define Islam--the nutballs or the reformers. Defeating the Islamic State caliphate and killing jihadis is essential to shield the West but as a war winner it just buys time for Islam to win the civil war in a way that stops the killing of heretics as jihadis see nearly everyone.

As for state threats to the West, China is the long-term threat because it is growing. States like Russia and North Korea are aggressive but faltering threats that must be stopped before they carry out their threats. There is hope that Russia and North Korea will be self-correcting problems given internal weaknesses. But we can't count on being spared the risk of directly dealing with them--especially North Korea.

God help us all: Could our Navy focus on ship handling a little more and fight "climate change" less? Ships float on the water regardless of the level, you know.

It isn't totally fair to say that Trump defeated ISIL in months while Obama failed over 2-1/2 years to do the job. But it is fair to say that Obama went way too slow. You may recall my repeated complaints that the war was taking way too long to defeat what was a weak Islamic State in Iraq.

Feminists knew about the open secret of Hollywood's treatment of women, including sexual assault. This just demonstrates my long-expressed view that feminists are nothing more than the women's auxiliary of liberalism, willing to tolerate any indignity or crime for the sake of other political goals.

Yes, the practice by the previous administration of encouraging people you like to sue the government so the government can settle the case to do what the government couldn't do without a court order was a terrible abuse of power. Tip to Instapundit.

The Philippines won't attempt to enforce its legally recognized claims in the South China Sea because it figures accepting Chinese gifts is safer. What could possibly go wrong with that strategy?

Useful idiots. Although at this point I think the entire free "Resistance" movement has most of the useful idiots. After all this time, it still seems fairly clear that the intent of Russia was to sow discord, damage the appeal of American democracy, and damage Hillary Clinton who the Russians assumed would win just like virtually every political observer in America--including me, your humble blogger who consumed all that analysis.

It bears repeating that we have Trump in part because Democrats loudly tarred McCain as a senile fascist (neatly book-ended between celebrations of his wise dissent from Republicans Bush and Trump) and damned thoroughly decent Romney as a mean-spirited one percenter. It has been the standard operating procedure all my adult life, really. Is it really so incomprehensible that Trump supporters often defend their support of Trump by saying, "He fights," After unfair attacks on decent politicians that went unanswered, someone who doesn't take that crap is appealing. So enjoy!

Yes, communism (and socialism--remember that the USSR was a socialist state building true communism under their theory) is an inherently evil governing theory and it is impossible for anyone at the top with "pure" motives to make it work right. Tip to Instapundit. I recall a test at Michigan that had the question of whether economic reforms in the USSR meant that the country was less of a totalitarian state. I vigorously denied any such transformation. My basic point was that the state allowing peasants to own a few chickens did nothing to eliminate the fact that the chicken ownership was made possible by a state granting a favor while retaining the power to take them away again and kill or imprison you for resisting--and perhaps even for succeeding with that little bit of "freedom." Why Bernie Sanders has any support at all remains a mystery to me.

A good take on the Harvey Weinstein revelations (tip to Instapundit) about how Hollywood treats women (and some men, it seems) as a sexual buffet. The basic point is that this was all well known in that world but oddly not considered that bad. This is spot on: "The blind eye turned to sexual harassment did (and does) tell us that many people don’t think it’s that wrong. Presumably, companies would not have said 'Well, I don’t like the way Bill kidnaps young children and dismembers them in his basement, but we might lose Acme Pharmaceuticals if we let him go.'" You wondered by Whoopi Goldberg would defend Roman Polanski's drugging and raping of a child by saying it wasn't "rape-rape."? Rape-rape is a stranger--perhaps one who drinks Budweiser--attacking you. What Polanski and Weinstein did was only sort of technically rape but not really. Obviously that kind of thinking went on. And to be honest, while I firmly believed what Polanski did was actual rape, I kind of assumed that the "casting couch" culture was more of a free exchange of sex for advantage. I didn't realize how it was very far from that and more like rape-rape. But I'm not in the industry. And who knew that such rabid feminists as exist in that industry--and we know they are because they loudly condemn Republicans for waging a "war on women"--would refuse to call it rape-rape and let the rest of the country know what was going on? But as I've said, feminists are just the women's auxiliary of liberalism, which trumps all other issues.

Saying a soldier died knowing what they signed up for is an ordinary thing for those in the business to think. I was just a reservist, and as I've said before, that service just gave me faint hints of what soldiers who are sent to war experience. I make no claims to having sacrificed for our country. On this subject, when I started my career just after the Persian Gulf War--when I was still in the Army National Guard--a new colleague asked me if I would have gone to war if mobilized. In some puzzlement, I replied, "Of course. That's what I signed up for." "Well good for you," she replied. She clearly didn't understand that attitude (and as I got to know her I realized she expected me to say I'd have gone to Canada, or something). A nice woman, but the concept of obligation to serve was clearly alien to her. The concept is alien to a lot of people. But not to soldiers.

The Left is sinking into serious Trump Hysteria Condition over the Niger ambush. I haven't gone into the Florida congresswoman kerfuffle sideshow out of respect to the pain that a death in combat unleashes on a family. I can't imagine what that must be like. But I will say that because of that congresswoman, the Left has finally been cured from their belief that anybody who wears a cowboy hat is automatically assumed to be a drooling moron.

New York Times columnist Charlie Blow spoke in Ann Arbor this last week. I don't much like him. Perhaps I only see the really bad stuff because I only see him when I catch a "you'll never believe what this guy wrote" link. But I took my daughter who got extra credit for her AP history class. What his diatribe against Trump had to do with history escapes me. What surprised me was how poorly the man made his case. Selective evidence, mockery, and failure to see that the alleged wrongdoing applied more broadly and even to his own side was amazing. The idea that freedom of the press is under threat is nonsense. He spoke and no secret police broke it up. And no conservative students disrupted the speech. What really got me was his mockery of the idea that many people believe the media makes up bad stories about Trump. This after describing one of the three types of "lies" that Trump uses as the "they say" or "I've heard" [insert lie here] variety. But isn't that exactly what the flood of anti-Trump stories based on a single "unnamed source" (probably a Democrat "Resistance" member in the government) without any corroboration that evaporate after a news cycle are? "They say," indeed. In the end, the speech had more of the feel of a religious sermon delivered to the faithful. As I said, the strength of the reasoning was low. I started out annoyed to sit through his drivel but finished kind of amused, thinking, "That's all you've got?" And I don't even like Trump (although I remain grateful he beat Clinton)! But the poor quality of the arguments put me off. And God help us, but he probably thought he was bravely going into "flyover country" to make his case to the rubes.

In the last data dump, I wondered if we weren't selling Abrams tanks to Taiwan because we decided we needed them to replace war losses or if we didn't want to offend China at this delicate time with North Korea. Well, we're selling tanks to Kuwait. So the latter explanation is more likely.

I find it hilarious that Democrats are reduced to claiming that enforcing the Obamacare law undermines it. It's. the. law, they used to say.

A briefing on disaster relief in Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.