Sunday, May 19, 2019

Weekend Data Dump

I dismiss conspiracy theories because I deny that people are skilled enough to direct any type of deep well-planned plot that they can push to conclusion. I wish we were that capable! (Well, not really--freedom and all that.) So while I am sympathetic to the view that nobody is really running the show in Washington, I think it is clear that people actually are in charge in Washington and they do have the ability to affect all of us with their power. It's just that the people in charge don't have the ability to affect us in the way they plan to do because they lack the knowledge and ability to treat the world like a finely tuned machine that gives predictable outputs. Which means it is a huge mistake for Republicans to think that putting different people in charge in Washington is the way to fix things. Make Washington less important to running the entire country outside of true national responsibilities when states could do the job is the smart thing to do in the long run. I know I'm being picky and that Jonah would probably agree with my quibble. But if I can't quibble why even blog at all?

Speaking of the illusion of control, Peak Stupid never seems to reach its apex, does it?

I never believed bitcoins are immune to theft. People secured them and people can steal them.

After working to protect the 2018 election from cyber-attacks, the military's cyber assets will be used to protect the 2020 election. Good.

Russia stood with Iran over Iran's nuclear ambitions while the Iranians say that rolling back their commitments to the nuclear deal are perfectly legal. Well of course that is legal. As the Obama State Department admitted, the nuclear deal is not legally binding.

If Islam is to win its civil war over who gets to define Islam, these nutball training centers need to be banned.

Congo's Ebola epidemic is hanging on because of violence, mistrust of the government, and faith in non-scientific "healing," But it isn't a "global emergency," so we've got that going for us. Which is nice.

Skyrocketing attacks on Jews in New York City have nothing to do with white nationalists. So it is ignored by the media. Jews are another group clearly losing the Intersectional Olympics victim ranking contest. Tip to Instapundit.

Well it would certainly be nice if this was truly the time for Venezuela's military to rise up against Maduro, but I doubt it. And if this survives to Sunday night without being promoted to a regular post because it is the time, the time has not come yet.

Sometimes stuff happens.

I fear for our Navy officers when I read this absolute nonsense from a national security professor at the Naval War College. I don't even know how to respond to what is clearly a fantasy view of the world. No administration chaos. No self-destruction by the administration. No adversaries thanking their lucky stars at their great fortune to be alive at this moment.

To be fair, mandatory Earth Hour-style blackouts lasting a long time will reduce carbon emissions a good deal. So you go, California! Tip to Instapundit.

So is this the sort of sophisticated and nuanced European policies that America should adopt?

My, that is a riddle wrapped in an enigma. Tip to Instapundit.

Washington, D.C., may allow citizens to issue parking tickets. Aside from the issue of those people getting beaten up, if this goes through San Francisco will say "Hold my soy latte'" and pass an ordinance allowing citizens to impeach a sitting president. Tip to Instapundit. And a "heh" for this suggestion from Green on what to name the program: "Standardized Ticketing and Safety Inducement program, or'“STASI.'"

It is hard to celebrate Assad victories, but at least Assad's forces are killing al Qaeda jihadis in Syria rather than supporting jihadis as Assad did during the Iraq War when he funneled them through Syria to infiltrate Iraq and kill our troops and our friends and allies there.

It sounds like Turkey wants to halt the Russian-backed Syrian offensive against jihadi rebels still holding out in Idlib.

I didn't see how Obama didn't know about Hillary's off-the-books unsecured email server, thinking the only way he might not know is that he completely cut Hillary off from communicating with him because he didn't trust her. Well, it's the former. But I still find it hard to believe that the knowledge was gained in December 2012. Did nobody in the White House notice the previous four years? Really? I kind of wish it was the latter.

Yemen's rebels backed by Iran continue to slowly lose the war against the Saudi coalition-backed government. The rebels don't seem too sincere about letting the port at Hodeidah open for humanitarian aid. The last time the rebels turned over the port to the "coast guard" it was packed with rebels.

Post-Bouteflika Algeria is still sorting out. Who knows if they will be part of an Arab Spring 2.0.

Wise Guy returns from the bone yard.

After decades of procurement nightmare India has bought American MH-60s for anti-submarine and anti-ship missions. In wartime between India and China I assume China's main naval effort in the Indian Ocean would be with nuclear submarines and anti-ship ballistic missiles launched from China.

Well of course we have a range of military options against Iran and of course the president will review them. But a ground invasion of Iran is highly unlikely given the amount of troops it would need. We could put 6 combat brigades in Kuwait to defend that country and to deter an Iranian invasion of Iraq.  And we might seize or raze Iranian islands--with Kharg's oil export facilities being the highest value target--and oil platform bases in the Persian Gulf. And we may hit Iranian missile and naval targets in Iran itself. But an invasion is almost completely off the table, in my opinion.

This author thinks the China-Russia alliance is real and based on mutual interests. I put this here just for contrary information. I think they are allies of convenience with each hoping America will fight the other half of the pairing and so kill two birds with one stone. And I think Russia is essentially conducting a policy of appeasement toward a stronger and growing China out of weakness, with Russian hostility toward the West concealing that appeasement. But I could be wrong.

Modi has failed to really combat corruption in India. India needs to reduce corruption to have a hope of surpassing China in the long run. It was easier when the point of comparison was Pakistan.

Post-Cold War NATO expansion was a good thing. (And congratulations to the author for getting the required shot in at Trump so he doesn't risk seeming pro-Trump.) The idea that we caused Russian aggression--as if it is a new thing that sprung into existence after NATO expansion--is disgusting. We were supposed to avoid collecting the hard-fought victory in the Cold War? We were to leave a gray zone of conflicting territorial claims and post-communist regimes that could have played NATO off against Russia or becomes despotic and aggressive to neighbors out of fear of the return of Russia--as Russia has often charged west? It amazes me that "realists" argue NATO expansion caused Russian aggression. In the Cold War, I certainly considered myself a foreign policy realist. When did they abandon realism?

Did Israel just encourage Hezbollah to be more forceful against Israel by not stomping on Hamas following a rocket barrage? Or did Israel deflect Iran's attempt to sacrifice Hamas in Gaza in order to save a more valuable Hezbollah in Lebanon from a day of reckoning?

No, they get to be criticized just like any other politicians. This complaint is more about de-legitimizing complaints about them. Or does her logic apply to criticism of Trump, too?

The failure of the last Trump-Kim summit has increased the internal pressure on Kim Jong-un. Also, Russians continue to help North Korea in defiance of international sanctions. Naturally.

In the last data dump where I highlighted NATO's return to Norway, I noted that Soviet Arctic units weren't that good, specifically mentioning "over-snow" vehicles that were no such thing. Strategypage looks at Norway and notes that the Russians were able to buy actual Arctic-capable equipment for their 8,000-strong Arctic Brigade before sanctions kicked in after Russia's 2014 invasion of Ukraine.

I'll note that I've long blogged about the threat of a rising China to America.

I don't know if democracy is dead in Turkey, but it is certainly pining for the fjords--or resting. But who can blame Erdogan when even the British who have a long tradition of democracy and rule of law insist on a re-vote on Brexit because it went the "wrong" way?

The United States declares war on Huawei.

I've noted the Iranian propaganda that has demonized Saudi Arabia's role in the Yemen civil war. Let's look at how Iran carries out their propaganda war, shall we?

Suspicions were first raised when Putin won it a record 37 times in a row. With this ice dancing routine. He did stick the landing, you must admit.

I don't assume that if push comes to shove with Iran that Britain won't back us. We are close allies. But that doesn't mean our policies are 100% in harmony. If the Iranians interfere with oil shipments, you can be sure it will get the attention of Europeans. Keep in mind that Britain is rather consumed with the Brexit issue. The last thing they need is a military confrontation mucking up that process. And in 1987 when we needed help against Iran to safeguard friendly gulf shipping, Britain's Thatcher who faced an election didn't want to look like Reagan's "poodle." Britain and other Europeans rejected our requests for minesweepers until Iranian actions got scary enough to convince them to join America in the Gulf. Remember too that broadly speaking Britain shares our threat assessment of Iran.

As China's navy expands in numbers and sophistication, we console ourselves that our personnel quality is superior. Ship handling accidents call that into question. And China's quality is getting better.

The American government cut off all passenger and cargo flights between the United States and Venezuela. I'm not sure how much of either is going on, so I don't know if it is more than symbolic.

Pro-Maduro American brain-dead evil morons activists were finally ejected from their occupation of the Venezuelan embassy in Washington, D.C. Guaido staff were able to take possession.

I'm glad my admission to Michigan wasn't tainted by something like this. Although in the long run, I do favor putting the resources and attention into lower income area schools to reduce disparities once those kids are taking the test. But that attention aspect has to include getting rid of the troublemakers and actual criminals who sabotage the ability of the good kids to learn. And say, will the work ethic of high school students with high "adversity scores" go up or down with that knowledge?

Obama's head of the CIA and head of the FBI were "once" communists? Well what a shock. I guess we can fill in a couple slots if Bernie wins in 2020. Well, and Maduro gets to be his Secretary of Energy, I suppose. Tip to Instapundit. UPDATE: Never mind about the head of the FBI being communist. While he said that, in context he was clearly joking about once voting for Carter and then voting for Reagan.

I don't like paying Taliban travel expenses. They can use their drug profits.

That whole Iranian missiles on boats report apparently refers to Iran putting cruise missiles on sailing vessels easily lost in civilian traffic. The missiles could be fired from the boats. This and more will be released to the public, presumably when it can be scrubbed to avoid revealing sources and methods we don't want known. Of course, the question will remain about whether we are connecting dots that paint a coherent picture or not. Iranian hostility to America is a constant, of course.

Is Russia's passport offer to Ukrainians designed to encourage Ukrainians in Russian-occupied Donbas to move to Russia to alleviate a looming labor shortage?

More and more it looks like Remainers in Britain will defeat the 2016 vote of the British people for exiting the European Union. The vote was supposed to settle the question. But Remainers unexpectedly narrowly lost the vote and they did not accept it. Perhaps I'm too much of a pessimist in believing the proto-empire will crush Britain. Maybe Britain will get out while they can with no deal and then negotiate terms at least as good as the EU is willing to give to rogue state Iran, eh? Will the EU be less interested in a trade deal with prosperous Britain which actually contributes to European defense than with an evil Iran that seeks nuclear weapons to threaten European interests?

Somebody unclear on the concept of how to punish 25 old white men. Tip to Instapundit.

We can't care more about North Korea's people than North Korea's rulers do. If we do, we allow Kim Jong-Un to hold his own people hostage for our good behavior. So no, don't feed those hungry people. Let Kim divert military spending to buying food. When North Korea has no nuclear infrastructure and no weapons, then we can talk.

I sincerely doubt Maduro is going to negotiate an end to his rule in these talks in Norway. At best it is an open channel Maduro can use if things start to go really badly for him on the ground in Venezuela.

Contrary to polling, Australia's conservative Liberal party won reelection. This is lesson in tolerance and free speech. Australia's media, like ours, told the people that certain conservative views are deplorable. People with those views reacted by not revealing their opinions that were deemed bad. The left was then unaware that their political positions were not backed by the majority. And when the people voted, they voted their concealed opinions and defeated the left in a surprise result. Maybe when the left gets hurt enough by undermining freedom of speech and tolerance it will embrace those features of public debate.

In the last data dump I noted news from the Holy Roman Empire. Now we know the deaths by crossbow were because "a German sex guru specializing in medieval bondage directed lesbian sex slaves in bizarre murder-suicide[]" as part of a "medieval sex cult." I suppose this is better than rampaging across Europe, but Germans really need to focus their energy a little better.

Speaking of medieval sex cults, people upset over the last season of Game of Thrones and demanding a remake need to get an effing life.

Alyssa Milano's sex strike to oppose restrictions on abortion seems to have failed. I imagine that most people figured a Hollywood sex strike would be followed as much as Hollywood stars who rage against poverty, global warming, guns, and sexual harassment yet still fly around in jets and live in mansions, play in bloody gun-filled movies while protected by armed guards, and never said a word despite the sexual predators in their business.

In response to Iranian low-level attacks on oil exports in the Gulf region, Arab states increased patrols in the Gulf while America exercised in the Arabian Sea.