Sunday, December 24, 2017

Weekend Data Dump

Poland will update its 300 T-72 tanks as an interim step. This upgrade would be of use to Ukraine, I imagine, in updating their large inventory of older Soviet-designed tanks.

Say, as long as our country is in a mood to tear down statues of past heroes, can we start ripping out stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame to punish those warriors of the war on women who have been exposed? No? Why not?

Sweden is reestablishing an army unit to garrison their strategic Gotland Island in the Baltic Sea, which has been virtually undefended since 2005. Russia's return as a threat is the reason, of course.

It's always amusing when international socialists discover that national socialists are so darned similar to them! Americans should despise both flavors of destruction.


The "world's first artificial intelligence citizen" in Saudi Arabia is calling for women's rights there. Which is safer than an actual Saudi woman calling for that. And yes, it is a publicity stunt and not an actual AI.

I've mentioned China's Confucius Institutes that China has set up at universities around the world. They are the forward defense of China's control at home to lessen news and opinion that China's rulers don't like and which they have to block if produced. They attempt to "to monopolize ideas, suppress alternative narratives, and exploit partner institutions." Obviously if the news and opinion isn't produced the Chinese don't have to block it at home.

Russia punches above their weight. I agree. Which means that Russia's reputation will falter when somebody in a higher weight class punches back. But that doesn't mean Russia is no threat. As long as Russia targets weakness, they pose a danger.

How is it possible for liberals to claim the new tax law "takes away" health care when all it does it take away the penalty for not purchasing it? If people don't have health insurance won't it be because people choose not to buy it absent a penalty? Of course, I was confused way back when why we needed to penalize people for not buying health insurance if the problem was that people "couldn't get" insurance. You'd think people would jump at the chance if that was the problem. Apparently not.

Speaking of that bill, while the left seems to be misrepresenting the bill's effects a lot, one thing I've noticed that bill supporters seem to ignore is that while the standard deduction is nearly doubled, I think the personal exemption is eliminated. So the nearly doubled standard deduction will be mostly negated by the loss of the personal exemption. If I understand this provision. Which I might not. Or it might no longer be accurate. Mind you, it still reduces the tax burden especially with a small cut in the federal tax rate.

And yes, I'm disgusted by the crocodile tears that liberals shed over the deficit from a tax cut. That deficit argument never works on them when discussing more spending. Why is it only compassion to spend tax money on people but never compassion to refrain from taking it from them in the first place? If we're going to have the deficit anyway, I'd rather have lower taxes that might at least keep the economy growing. Honestly, the only hope of lowering the deficit is to get the economy moving so that tax receipts race ahead of appetites for spending programs as we experienced during the late Clinton era. Of course, back then we had divided partisan control of government, welfare reform, and the post-Cold War defense savings to help with the spending side.

More on the Cheesestapo in Wisconsin. Democrats should be in jail over this. And the media would pay a whole lot more attention and actually work up some outrage if Republicans did it.

Well, it is well established that he gets a thrill up his leg at work. Tip to Instapundit.

And in completely unrelated news, the special counsel has begun to look into allegations of Trump collusion with space aliens to win the 2016 election, citing the glaring omission of a space wall in Trump's promises to stop illegal immigration. FBI agent Mulder was unavailable for comment.

As I understand it, liberals think that Trump is destroying freedom of the press by criticizing the press. Get back to me on that accusation when the press corps is browbeaten into coverage of Trump as adoring as the media gave Obama without any pressure.

And once more, stop making every damn routine piddly thing into CATASTROPHE FOR THE REPUBLIC!!! People, you're embarrassing yourselves.

Yes, American nuclear weapons aren't really launched from the president's "football" with him at all times: "Lower-level military commanders can act on their own if the US comes under attack and the president can’t respond in time." I mentioned this decentralized nature of nukes a month ago in a data dump (7th paragraph). Honestly, given our conventional superiority and geography, I'd be happy if there were no nukes. Russia would disagree given their inability to defend their long border otherwise. And the goal is unachievable because cheating to have even a small number of nuclear weapons would provide such great advantage.

India's "Tejas" light combat aircraft project isn't producing a useful light fighter aircraft. But it is producing experience in building a fighter with a locally produced engine that could pay off in the future. So it isn't fair to say it is a complete waste. But it is fair to say that it harmed Indian security to pretend the project was for the former rather than the latter objective.

Linda Sarsour was a vile and loathsome terror apologist before this #MeToo news--on the side of the Weinstein faction--was alleged. Really, in what alternate universe can an Islamist be an advocate for women? Sarsour backs a war on everyone else. Why would women be immune?

Just ... no.

While this sounds like really scary oppression and control, remember that this is run by reasonably enlightened autocrats, as the odious Tom Friedman put it.

Not dead--just vewy vewy quiet. While this is good news, I suppose it just adds another victim for global warming to kill.

Hunger in North Korea is NOT our fault. We simply can't care more for North Korean than the North Korean leaders care about their people who don't care how many people have to die to get nuclear weapons. If we do, who cares for Americans who could be nuked by North Korea?

Another Inflategate in New England. So where is Tom Brady?

I  certainly hope we've managed to tamp down the Iraq-Kurd tensions that boiled over into armed conflict two months ago. But there are rumors of more. I assume Iran is involved in pushing for clashes to keep the pot boiling and provide opportunities to strengthen pro-Iran militias in Iraq.

Sexual assault and sexual harassment are obviously horrible crimes. And there are actions that are just boorish even if not rising to the level of a crime. But the way the Democratic Party is going, it won't be long before they establish the Junior Anti-Sex League. You'll love the head-to-toe Empowerment Cloak. (Now available in 50 shades of gray!)

The Founders' design might have been sound enough to discourage tribalism. Sadly--and dangerously--concentration of so much power in Washington, D.C. with the ever growing federal government has encouraged the growth of super tribes to amass the power to control WDC. And one problem is that when the federal government is so complex and massive, the ability of the people to understand it all decreases. Hence the temptation to leave governance it to "experts" who are better able to pretend they know how to guide the behemoth. And I do think that blaming Speaker Gingrich is a bit much. I remember the 1980s and the demonization of Reagan and Republicans. It may be that after four decades in the House minority, a lot of resentment built up in Republicans and a leader had to break the habit of being the loyal opposition when they achieved majority status. But Haidt has a point about the effects, I think, although I'd never really thought about it those terms. And yeah, the situation is desperate but not serious, eh? I too don't think we are doomed. America has bounced back from threats before and I think we will do it again with this threat. Sending power back to the states so California can be California and Texas can be Texas, without either believing that making the other state be just like their own is the only way to "be" would help, I think. Most people are decent sorts. Don't let the zealots on both sides set the terms of the debate and make you hate "the other."

It can hardly be a shock that the Russia-seeking missile the Democrats fired with the intent to hit Republicans has circled back to target the Left. Greens are just communists who recycle; and communists loved the anti-American USSR but are willing to adore just an anti-American Russia without communism. Love the one you're with if you can't be with the one you love, I suppose.

It really really annoys me when Democratic politicians claim that corporate tax rate cuts are "permanent" while those for individuals are not. No Congress can bind a future Congress and any tax cut can be reversed at any time with new legislation just as any tax cut that "expires" can be renewed by a future Congress. And these people know better than to make the claim but still they do. And they wonder why their polling numbers are so low.

The Democratic effort to get Senator Franken to resign over sexual harassment charges is so pre-Roy Moore. To his credit, Franken still plans to resign in the new year.

I always thought that leftists going on about "food deserts" was BS, and it is.

It seems to me that Democrats are claiming that the tax cut act will actually increase the taxes of middle class people in the long run by assuming more national debt that the same people will have to be taxed to repay in the future. I'd buy that reasoning if we can also use it when deciding when to spend more money on programs that also increase the national debt. That's different because shut up? And a related interesting factoid: there is no established definition of "middle class." It is very flexible depending on what you want to argue. Always check the "definitions section," I say.

Only in America could young people think so highly of socialism--because they live in a free market society that insulates them from the effects of living in a socialist state. Or maybe they're just stupid.

These people are disgusting as well as nuts. Imagine the horrors of the Internet reverting to the legal structure of 2014!

Russia doesn't like American sanctions put on 5 individuals over human rights abuses. Russia promises to retaliate in kind. So Russia's "retaliation" for economic sanctions on Russia is to sanction Americans willing to to do business with Russia? Are they clear on the concept?

A second North Korean soldier defected across the DMZ. A few more and it is a trend. Or a new way to infiltrate soldiers into the south, I suppose. I'm sure North Korea would like it if South Korean troops were more likely to shoot potential defectors just to be sure rather than rescue and welcome them.

The Marine Corps would like to pivot to Europe and the Pacific where threats are growing, shedding Middle East responsibilities. In theory that is fine. But the Marines will always be the most significant "ally" to fight alongside the U.S. Army when it is sent to war. So whatever the Marine want and plan for, they shouldn't sell off their desert gear and tan paint stockpiles.

Austin Bay looks at the new national security strategy. I've yet to look at it. But the basic concept is that national power can't rely on military power and must use all elements of national power to solve, delay, or change problems. With Chinese economic power rising, our economic dominance has eroded. So our military power that rests on that base is losing its dominance in conventional warfare. So yes, all elements of power need to work together just as our military power is far more joint than it was decades ago. And calls to link UN votes to our aid is part of that, clearly. Most narrowly this approach is a response to the plea of our military for the rest of the government to take on roles that by default get dumped on the military on top of military jobs (nation-building, in essence).

Drone wars are welcomed by Niger to fight jihadis. There are about 50 locations where Americans operate from under the AFRICOM umbrella, with the Djibouti facilities the only real "base" on the continent. I continue to advocate The AFRICOM Queen to provide mobile assistance in the littorals.

Strategypage looks at Iraq issues, including the Kurds and Iran.

Nikki Haley already has executive experience as a governor. And in the UN she is getting experience in foreign relations. She could be a powerful candidate for president if she can bring together these skills. Hell, Hillary Clinton would have to support her, eh?

Socialism descends into murder of opponents and shallow graves in Venezuela, as it so often does when autocrats use socialism's alleged "caring" as a pretext to cling to continued rule.

California really is effing up a wet dream, aren't they? Sadly, Governor Brown prefers to seek solutions with faith in--and fear of--his god rather than in engineering.

Sonofabitch. I want companies to have personal data on 3 x 5 cards only, at this point.

A tour of another bloody mess called Sudan (and South Sudan). I bet those people wish they got half the attention that the Palestinians manage to get.

Another bizarre talking point is that Americans won't like the "uncertainty" of a tax cut that ends in 8 years (if not renewed or otherwise changed before then). Oh please. Who has any certainty that they will be alive in 8 years or have their job (not everybody has tenure or civil service protection) let alone worry about what their tax rate will be in 8 years? I assure you, people will be happy to have more money for now without worrying what will happen to it in 8 friggin' years. This is a massively stupid criticism. But they persist.

A history of how American artillery lost the barrage to became a precision weapon.

Given that I just heard a Democrat say that the Congressional inquiry into Hillary's activities while Secretary of State is misplaced because Congress has other domestic priorities it should be working on, I have to assume Democrats are worried. Because last I checked they were all in on the Russia-Trump collusion priority that has turned up nothing, and not quite so concerned about other domestic priorities.

Is it a bubble yet? At least they didn't rename themselves Long Tulip Bulbs. Tip to Instapundit.

Schumer and Pelosi haven't slammed Democratic states for reducing corporate tax rates since 2012 even as they've used the recent tax act to accuse Trump of being a pawn of corporations. I just don't even listen to those two anymore. It's just background lamentations that signify victory. It's all Apocalypse, all the time, for those hacks and their adoring moron supporters (and yes, Tom Steyer continues to be a moron with his moronic televised jihad). I swear, just being a happy person is the probably the worst rebuke to liberals that I can offer. I'm happy even when they are in torment (and I was happy during the Obama years--you may have noticed on this blog that it wasn't an 8-year panic attack for me) every day over every damn little thing. Although I think this gives Democrats and advantage in that their supporters are far more motivated to activism because of their emotional health issues.

"[The] practices of leaking, ignoring and twisting intelligence for political gain were ingrained in how the [Obama] administration conducted national security policy." Perhaps this is true for more than just the Obama administration, but did those who paid attention really need this reporting to know it was true for Obama? The Syria revelations show what I believed all along: President Obama provided aid to rebels to avoid blame for not doing anything rather than to defeat Assad. But none of this was revealed by the press when it might have mattered. Democracy really does die in darkness, as we're now told.

The opposition conceded defeat in Honduras. I don't understand why there was "a vote controversy" over the victory of the conservative president in Honduras when before the election everyone expected him to win the election. Isn't the controversy just leftists refusing to accept the results of an election? Street theater should not overturn actual votes no matter how much the protesters "care." Mind you, I'm against voter fraud. Although if there was, I wouldn't have punished Honduras to give them a leftist leader any more than I would have intervened to give them a conservative leader. We can't and shouldn't intervene everywhere.


ISIL still clings to some territory in Syria where US-backed forces fight them. We say that some are escaping west because the pro-Syrian forces have porous defenses unable to block them. This speaks to the small force-to-space ratio that pro-Syrian forces have in the east that make the map depiction of sparsely populated eastern territory between the core west and the Euphrates River valley in the east more impressive than it is.