Saturday, October 28, 2017

Weekend Data Dump

Is evacuating the northern part of Seoul within range of North Korean artillery a solution to allow us to deal with North Korea by force if necessary? Sure, that would help in theory. But would South Korea really want to see a portion of their people seek refuge overseas when their birthrate is alarmingly low? A crisis that leaves North Korea still a threat would mean the people might have to evacuate again; and a war even if won would likely wreck their neighborhoods. Would they return once abroad in a safer location? And would such an evacuation in a crisis simply convince North Korea that it was a move prior to America, South Korea, and Japan striking first? I suspect that better warning systems and hardened shelters in Seoul combined with precision fires plus carving out a no-launch zone north of the DMZ around Seoul is the real answer.

The notion that Seoul could be defended from massive numbers of dumb artillery shells and rockets by using an Iron Dome system is nonsense because the defenders will never have enough defensive missiles to shoot down all the incoming rounds. All it can do is defend select point targets and hopefully buy time to destroy the artillery or occupy the artillery positions. To be fair, the author only says important targets can be defended until the enemy artillery is destroyed. But the first page and title wrongly implies that the entire city can be defended with the wonder weapon. How many got to the second page for that caveat?

Social media really is destroying the fabric of our society, where trust is eroding. We're a big country and people have different views. It was better when people couldn't see what other people were thinking. And it was better when the most visible elements of those other people weren't complete jerks and extremists. And unfortunately, it is too easy to assume that the other people's jerks represent what all the other people secretly believe; while excusing your own jerks because their hearts are in the right place even if they are a tad over-enthusiastic from their passion now and again. And social media makes it easy to go down that path to less trust of the motives of fellow Americans. Good grief, people, 95% of your fellow citizens are not awful people even if they have different views (I'll reserve a portion for genuine sociopaths, racists--of all races, communists, anarchists, Nazis, and even the odd Confederate still out there). It is depressing. I know that I sometimes speak of Democrats or liberals in shorthand. What I generally mean is the hard Left. And I always know that it is wrong to generalize from the loudest jerks' voices. That's why I left Facebook and won't go on Twitter. It is wearying to wonder if friends really think I am their caricature of a conservative rather than a person they've known for a while. They probably don't think that, just as I don't. But social media is a constant hammering on that resolve to know better than believe it.

It amuses me that Democrats in Michigan are all in on redistricting "reform." I went threw at least part of three of them and so I know that Democrats were happy to gerrymander as much as the law allowed them without guilt. But now that Republicans have held a lock on the process for a while Democrats want to "reform" them. Yet I am also aware that this highly political job always becomes political even when nonpartisan groups are given the job. I decline to sign their petitions to put it on the ballot. "Reform," indeed.

The problem with regulating hate speech (as if our constitutional freedom of speech even allowed that exception) will always be, who gets to define what hate is? In practice, restricting free speech "for a higher good" is just a weapon the majority can use to club minorities into submission--or at least silence.

The Air Force has had a pilot shortage. Contractors for training has attempted to reduce the gap, for example. And Trump has allowed Air Force retirees to help out. Although the Air Force says it has no plans to use that authority. Why there is no way to use these pilots for non-frontline missions is not clear to me. The Air Force has long been dominated by a "fighter pilot mafia." This shortage, I imagine, will do more to accelerate unmanned planes with robotic software pilots more than any efforts to persuade the leadership.

So why was this Indonesian general denied entry into the United States? I know radical Islam is starting to make inroads into what has been a country with a more laid back strain of Islam. But we have generally good relations with Indonesia. So what's up?

I noted that American warships turned on their beacons to avoid collisions at sea. Strategypage discusses the system and notes that training for American sailors really has deteriorated in the last 5-10 years. I was reticent to conclude that absent knowledge of a causation factor, but I trust that is the case. As a side note, if we are planning to hit North Korea if necessary to halt their nuclear weapons drive, deterioration of training, maintenance, and ammunition stocks during the Obama era would require many months of work to remedy first.

There is a lot of sympathy for the Kurds of Iraq in their confrontation with Iraq. And I do sympathize with the bad deal the Kurds have gotten over the last century. But to be fair to Iraq, do remember that they only occupied territory that the Kurds occupied since 2014 when ISIL drove Iraqi forces from the north. If Iraq is wrong to claim ground with troops outside of talks, so too was the Kurdish government. So Iraq is just going for the status quo ante rather than invading what the Kurds had before 2014. I did say this was a futile Kurdish charge.

It seems like for as long as I have been blogging the Marines have been planning to move a regiment and other assets from Okinawa to Guam. And still problems stand in the way. Inertia is sometimes a scary thing. If China doesn't donate to "Earthjustice," they aren't as smart as we think they are.

Funny, I never like O'Reilly much. Initially it was fun to see someone (finally) push liberals hard. But it got old fast and he seemed like a jerk. And he was. To say the least.

The Russians, naturally, made a major effort to penetrate the office of Secretary of State when Hillary Clinton was the secretary. That's no fault of Hillary Clinton, of course. But the corruption magnet of the Clinton Foundation (as it was designed to be) is her fault. And it is also her fault for setting up a private email server to conduct official business and expose secrets and procedures to the Russians who obviously wanted information on her activities.

Yes, media bias extends to what stories are covered and what questions are asked; as well as what stories are considered non-stories and what questions nobody thinks of asking. It's nice to see some recognition from somebody on the left. I spent a couple decades listening to National Public Radio on my long commutes. Their attempts at balance were laughable and almost always came down to this, "Republicans. Evil or just too ignorant to know better?" And God help us all, but those were the best years, as the media has settled that long debate with the curing power of "and."

Please God, let this happen. "Reality"-based community. The mind boggles. But isn't this essentially what Democrats have been doing since the last election?

Aren't liberals who get bent out of shape over Halloween costumes running afoul of their conviction that everybody can self-identify as whoever they want? Even if just for an evening?

Hillary will win, Hillary will win, Hillary will win!!. HILLARY WILL WIN! ... Trump won.

Strategypage takes a tour of China.

It's funny to see who gets investigated and who doesn't. It's as simple as (via Instapundit) good apples and bad bananas, eh? Reason Number N for why we have Trump.

Deny, deny, deny, deny, deny!! DENY!! ... It's old news.

Actually, the best parody of CNN's "this is an apple" advertisement would simply change the voice-over to say "this is a banana," and go on from there with that simple word switch with "banana." Yeah, democracy dies in fruit salad. Fruit of the loon? Stay with me, I'm on a roll.

The idea that the sale to Russia of 20% of our uranium supply (apart from any Clinton corruption involved) is unimportant because no uranium has been sold overseas is nonsense. How much does Russia learn about our nuclear material processing and system because they are now part of it? Might that not come in handy someday?

Senator McCain has made a career of working against Republican presidents, so the fact that he doesn't like Trump is hardly a stunning development in Republican disunity.

United States Pacific Command is likely to get an Air Force Commander rather than a Navy commander. Whether this is from Navy ship-handling sloppiness or because an air campaign is being planned for North Korea just in case, I don't know.

Thirty-four years ago, the United States invaded the Cuban-supported communist state of Grenada while rescuing American students. This was the first small rollback of communism in defiance of the Brezhnev Doctrine that held that once you go Red you never go back. And we learned the importance of jointness.

As an old Army signal guy, it disturbs me that our communications network might be a major vulnerability.

So about that Steele Dossier. Democrats paid the Russians--far more than the Russians paid for Facebook ads that allegedly swung the election, if you believe Clinton--for obviously nonsense "dirt" about Trump, gave it to the Obama administration, and the government used that information to spy on Trump and then damage the new president, including a special investigator prompted by this whole process. That's what it looks like. The Democrats have spent the last year yelling, "The Russians are coming!" and now we find out the Democrats invited them as their plus one. And paid them. Also, how does this support the notion that the Russians were trying to get Trump elected rather than--as I assumed from the start--trying to damage our system and damage Hillary Clinton, the presumed winner? Ten things to know.

The Iraqi Kurds offered to suspend their independence vote to end the conflict with the Iraqi government. Baghdad wants the vote nullified. The Kurds erred in pushing this and lost territory gained since 2014 for no gain.

I've long held that solving Afghanistan required solving Pakistan. Secretary of State Tillerson visited Pakistan in pursuit of our new regional approach to solving Afghanistan. He wants Pakistan to control their tribal territory sanctuary for Afghanistan jihadis. Let me suggest that we have an alternative to ending the sanctuaries if Pakistan isn't cooperative.

I've noted before that NATO's logistics capacity in the post-Cold War NATO states is inadequate. NATO is starting to work on just how bad that is. The graphic is misleading. Much of NATO's strength is in North America and much of what is on the continent is more suitable to domestic police work. And that's before considering how to move and supply the European forces to the east. Also, it is clearly wrong to claim that NATO now has nearly six times as many planes as NATO had in the Cold War. Also, is that graphic counting only Russian tanks in units while counting all of America's stored tanks? The article would have been better without the graphic if you can't get it right and can't provide the context.

President Trump is going to release (based on his power to block their release which he is not using) secret files on the Kennedy assassination. Let's see if Ted Cruz flees the country before the release date. (I kid, I kid.)

Will crap be honored by professional historians? Tip to Instapundit.

I know the media plays up divisions in the Republican Party. But aren't the divisions in the Democratic Party even worse as the Clinton wing includes the Sanders wing in the blame game alongside Russia for Clinton's 2016 loss?

Strategypage discusses Libya. I've long wondered why we didn't support Hiftar.

I'm thinking the entire Russia-Trump collusion allegation should be called Seinfeldgate because it is a scandal about nothing--even if there is a claim that a lot of nothings constitute a pattern of something.

Six seconds to live.

Venezuela continues the race between poverty that leads to government collapse or totalitarian control that leads to poverty that the people are forced to accept.

I don't know about that. I think some people just need to be killed to protect the rest of us. Although once they've surrendered, killing them outside of legitimate judicial processes should be ruled out. Not because they have measurable humanity but because we do. Although you have to admit that the jihadis would have an easier time if they hadn't acted like inhuman demons when they were free. Tip to Instapundit.

The liberal media wasn't playing the role of useful idiots in the Clinton- engineered post-election Russia obsession, they were Hillary's willing executioners.

The really funny thing in politics is that the pro-Trump people would consider me a RINO. After all, I was horrified that the Republicans would nominate Trump--who until 2016 was a liberal Democrat. And then I was horrified that Hillary Clinton would likely be elected because Republicans nominated the one candidate she could beat. And then on election night, I experienced the unexpected joy of averting the horrors of Hillary Clinton's corrupt family business returning to the White House! And so as much as I still don't like Trump, every day he is in office is a day that Democrats aren't making policy. Even if Trump doesn't do anything good (and I think he has), the simple absence of bad for four years would be a relief. So there you go. The Left can hate me because I laugh at accusations of Russian manipulation and fear of fascism descending on America as nothing but ego-inflating nonsense. That pretense alone makes it easier to defend Trump as Democrats turn the dial to 11 again and again in their "resistance." And yet the pro-Trump right can hate me for not actually liking Trump and wishing he didn't Tweet so much. I'm just hoping the policy successes will be sufficient when Trump leaves office to defend the circus that came along with them as a necessary evil.

An article reporting on a poll of troops found 44% had a positive view while 40% had a negative view. It goes on: "But when broken down by troop class, the results shifted to be more negative for the president." No. No it does not. And math says that can't be true. Subdividing the results cannot make the overall results change to be more negative. What breaking it down shows is that enlisted have a more favorable view while officers have an unfavorable view. When journalists can't get something as simple as this right, is it any wonder that people don't trust reporters to check their bias at the door when they go to work?

I've reported on bomb shortages, which I assume means war reserve stocks are still untouched but the bombs allotted to ongoing operations are in short supply. Regardless, the Air Force is ramping up bomb production. Which would be handy if we have to use a lot all at once someplace.

It bears repeating that while The Handmaid's Tale has been lauded as a resistance to what conservatives want to impose on women (forcing them to be have babies), it is really about Hollywood making women second class citizens and forcing them to have sex. Given the apparent strength of resistance to that long-running quiet scandal of business models, I might just watch the next Oscar's show.