Sunday, June 23, 2019

Weekend Data Dump

The Army is getting heavier. When the latest round of two brigades upgrading, the active Army will have 11 armored, 7 Stryker, and 13 infantry brigades; while the National Guard will have 5, 2, and 20. I like to note brigade counts when I see them for future reference.

As I get older I believe less and less that people are basically good. I think it is easy to think people are basically good when you live in a good country. But that is because a good country reinforces the impulses to be good and reduces the desire to be evil through both societal pressure and legal sanction. And more and more I fear that we don't value the structures in our country that allow us the luxury to believe people are basically good. If those structures weaken, we'll miss them.

So what's up with political Europe's effort to replace geographic Europe? In my view, the European Union technocratic ruling class--supposedly "a disinterested class committed to efficiency and governance"--is not only not competent enough to trust to govern without proper oversight, but they are far from "disinterested" in how they rule. They--as human beings--have an interest in themselves and don't ever forget that. I think it is America's interests to have a geographic Europe and not a political Europe.

The story is neat, but shouldn’t the Asian cultures be hauled off to Woke Court for cultural appropriation? Isn’t that how this whole borrowing from other cultures thing works, according to The woke crowd?

It's not even a Grenada-level crisis let alone our generation's World War II, so calm the ef down.

Seriously, Russia thought they could "trade" Venezuela to America in exchange for America abandoning Ukraine?  I guess Putin thinks that Hillary's "reset" button is still working, or something. Honestly, sometimes I think the funniest thing (although not for the suffering Venezuelan people, of course) that could happen would be for Russia to "win" Venezuela and be responsible for propping up that inept tyrant Maduro. As if modern Russian security interests would be enhanced by having a dependent vassal state in South America. As if Russia is made of money they can dump on such a pointless objective.

See? Not everything has to be a political battle to the death. If even most states ban abortion, volunteer private actions can provide an answer.

Maybe something odd is going on with our tourists' health in the Dominican Republic, but it seems to me that this is kind of a normal death rate that is simply getting a lot of media attention.

In stark contrast, celebrities wouldn't even tell jokes about Obama, recall. Tip to Instapundit.

China's economy has unquestionably greatly expanded and improved over the last 30 years or so. But their statistics are still suspect and other measures may be needed to get more accurate estimates in the short term apart from the broad long-term changes.

More (anecdotal) evidence that the supply of hate crimes is insufficient to meet the demands of activists and their media partners.

The British are finally thinking about upgrading their old tanks and infantry fighting vehicles

It is interesting that so many on the left insist we must focus on doing things now for future generations. Which is fine, as far as it goes (that is, it shouldn't go so far as to support doing stupid things for future generations). But the left has very little concern for doing things now that reflect the experience of past generations, even if we don't understand their reasons for what they left to us.

France gave notice that their military presence in West Africa to fight jihadis isn't open ended.

Democrats like to complain that Republicans don’t “own” the American flag. As I’ve quipped, that charge would work better if they didn’t react to it the way vampires react to sunlight and Holy Water. Democrats only haul out the flag during election season. But the flag isn’t wrapping paper for any country they wish to give us. The flag represents our constitutional republic under our Constitution. And it is distressing that our First and Second Amendments are becoming Republican-only values. Are Democrats going through our bill of rights in numerical order to abandon them?

Oh good, a government—the British one this time—has the power to say what is it is not a “harmful” gender stereotype.

European governments used to comfort themselves by insisting that the Iraq War caused their jihadi problem. I always thought that 9/11 was a glaring hole in that theory. Regardless, Europeans seem to know better now.

How the enemy became the most lethal threat to our troops in combat.

Because they both hate the West and democratic freedom?

If the majority of drug addicts on the West Coast are addicts, housing subsidies or zoning changes are worthless for helping people who will buy drugs before shelter.

I’ve often said our war on terror is really a holding action while the Islamic world resolves its civil war over whether jihadis get to define Islam for all Moslems. Well, here’s a dose of “that’s going to take a while.

The Russians are still trying to build an NCO corps to make their army more effective.

The Iranian attack on a Japanese tanker was a big "eff you" to Japan who hoped to use diplomacy on resolving the low-level crisis (no, I'm not worried we want war because sanctions are clearly hurting the now over-extended Iranian efforts around the Middle East; and I think even the Iranians recognize war would make a bad situation worse). And while we may need to strike back at Iran when they hit us, our lack of direct oil imports from the region means we can insist on taking on only a supporting role--because general economic prosperity is needed to encourage our trade--to local allies and their well-armed friendly customers if they feel the need to protect the tanker traffic.

Even if Trump is as bad as those who hate Trump say he is, it is horrible that Democrats are trying to destroy our institutions--undermining a lawfully elected president with fantasy accusations of Russian collusion, ending the Electoral College, packing the Supreme Court, ending the ideal of nonpartisan news reporting, allowing non-citizens or imprisoned felons or minors to vote, to name just those that come to mind--in the name of ... wait for it ... their charge that Trump is destroying our institutions. In Roman history I recall a warning that it was better to endure bad emperors than to wage civil war to remove them because Rome could endure a bad emperor but that accepting that civil war is a legitimate tool to change emperors would destroy the empire. Democrats should understand that destroying the institutions that allowed Trump to win (perhaps look harder in the mirror to deal with the fact that you selected a horrible candidate who managed to lose to Trump!) will harm them in the future, even if they don't care about the harm to America. And note that I never rejected Obama as our legitimately elected president. Not one damn time. If Democrats weren't acting so much worse than Trump, who I've disliked for a long time as TDR records, I'd have qualms--guilt even--about voting for Trump in 2020. Right now I'm fine with it. That situation is clearly unlikely to change between now and then.

This discussion of China's power and influence is interesting. China doesn't seem to be getting much for their financial investment. But is using UN General Assembly votes a real measure of influence when GA votes are meaningless and can be a cheap way to curry favor in a cost-free display without any real consequences? I just don't know if that data is used because it is available rather than because it is a good measure.

Well thanks you bastards. I'd suggest that we respond by helping their main threats get nuclear weapons, but both countries already have nukes to threaten the other.

Okay, this is kind of funny. If Russia provokes the West out of a self esteem issue to prove to themselves that they matter, a chart using this site showing the frequency of the word "Soviet" in the New York Times from 1970 to 1991 and another chart showing the frequency of the word "Russia" from 1992 to 2017 has to be humbling for Putin. Even at its peak in 2017 (the last year available), use of "Russia" doesn't even get close to matching the nadir of the mention "Soviet" in 1977.  This is imperfect, of course. Perhaps a search of "soviet" and "USSR" would be more accurate in the earlier period. But I'm hoping editorial practice would at least require spelling out the first use. And the site does not generate links to each which is why I describe them instead of linking charts I generated.

Socialism operates on "from each according to their ability and to each according to their need." Sadly for that theory, only the latter part is compatible with humans as we exist in the real world. Still, in Venezuela you have to admit that stealing from the dead is fine under their theory because the dead need so little. Hoarders! And ultimately more dead can be created to steal from. That also works under their theory of governance.

In your dreams, nutballs. I don't think the Iranians are anywhere near completing the kill chain to make that claim believable.

I noted Ukraine's new jager unit. Strategypage has more on the unit.

Wow, has the unjustified panic over GMO in America really broken? If so, what other panics might fade in the absence of actual disaster?

Recognizing valor--by the numbers.

Is China's effort to push a Hong Kong extradition bill a sign of Chinese political weakness? One can hope. Because we can't make China a better place with friendly policies. I've long said that China's economic rise had a large component of moving peasants into factories, and that simple input is fading in importance. These may be interesting times.

Fake news. Tip to Instapundit. But if the purpose is to advance a political party rather than inform, it's all good.

Not just inept, corrupt, and willing to risk our national security with her security violations, she's also just plain awful. If Trump did nothing other than preventing her from leading America, he'd have my eternal gratitude.

I enjoyed my now-annual trip to the middle of nowhere which allows me to test my ability to go a couple weeks without beer. Success!

The Navy has enough of a problem with efficiently building warships without Congress bouncing the cost-overun rubble.

I still care about the dangerously high national debt, but I've grown weary of caring when any reduced spending or increased taxation (or just increased revenue from growth) is swamped by increased spending in other areas. I'm in the class that will be hammered. The rich can ride out high inflation and the poor have little to lose while the government will still provide a safety net. People in my position will find they need that safety net as our modest assets are made worthless by inflation. Every president and Congress does worse than the earlier ones. Have a super sparkly day. Tip to Instapundit.

I fully support this idiocy.

Venezuela teeters on the edge of collapse, barely sustained only by an invasion of American dollars. Maduro clings to power amidst the exploding poverty. Does Hollywood still applaud Venezuelan socialism?

Russia's government: not only a bunch of bastards abroad!

I'm getting a bad feeling about this summer. I'm seeing more "shark summer" stories that seem to rise in the absence of actual news. That can't last.

So is the purpose of this visit to lay down the law on de-nuclearizing or to collude in keeping China's pet psycho properly aimed at China's foes?

I find it humorous that Democrats claimed Trump would wreck our economy when he was elected, but when the economy took off after his election and policies took effect, Democrats claimed that the good news is because of Obama.

To be fair, she's also comfortable being ignorant.

Erdogan says Turkey will take delivery of Russian S-400 air defense missiles next month. So consequences will rain down on Turkey. Which is good, because we have an Erdogan crisis and not an S-400 crisis. This re-vote in Istanbul smacks of tyranny, although I should be happy Erdogan can't--yet--just order the results he wants ahead of time. And (tip to Instapundit) a late whoa: Erdogan lost the do-over election in Istanbul big time. If Erdogan lets this vote stand, of course.

Hiftar's (or Haftar) offensive to take Tripoli continues to crawl, meaning he's having trouble bringing up reinforcements without stripping areas he holds of troops that might risk losing those areas to a counter-attack.

Good grief, we can't actually trust business links found on Google maps.

A century ago the defeated Germans scuttled their fleet in British harbors.  I've read, long ago, that those ships remained a source of high quality steel uncontaminated by radioactivity (from above-ground nuclear tests) during the Cold War. I assume that is still true.

China deployed J-10 fighters to Woody Island in the South China Sea--a first. If China uses those fighters to try to enforce their illegal territorial claims in the region, American and allied aircraft that defy those claims will be under threat.

While I am in general in support of general purpose troops rather than specializing in one type of combat, this author is right that the Army has gone too far in consolidating MOS types for the infantry.

I've noted that complaints about Trump exploitation of "emergency" provisions to divert money for border barriers because the situation is not a true emergency is nonsensical. The provision is just a word and the word is defined in the statute. If the statutes allowed the power for a "crisis" or a "problem" or a mere "inconvenience" the power would be exactly the same. Note that in Oregon legislation can become law upon the governor's signature if the bill has an "emergency" statement added to it. Do Oregonians really battle over what is an "emergency" or not? In Michigan, we simply call that giving a bill "immediate effect" without any loaded words. But they are the same thing. So just stop.

I remain conflicted over whether the charge that America operates "concentration camps" on our southern border is more ignorant than it is offensive.

The Senate vote to deny arms sales to Saudi Arabia continues to reflect the success of Iran's propaganda effort.

Seeking a "stable" Iran now while nutball mullahs run the country simply locks in place the nutball rulers. So, no.

Our friends the Chinese.

The Navy is sending the hospital ship Comfort back south to help Venezuelan refugees fleeing Maduro's socialist paradise.

American communists praise the policies of the Democratic Party. If I was as partisan as Democrats who claim that tiny alt-Right support for Trump means that all people who support Trump are deplorable alt-Righters, I'd ask why do genocidal and dictatorial communists find the Democratic Party so appealing? Doesn't that support by a small number of beyond-deplorable communists bitterly clinging to Marx and guns mean that all Democrats are supporters of genocide and tyranny? Why does the concept of "tainting" only apply to Republicans? The fact is that people extend support for various reasons, and so the support of scum can be based on factors that don't motivate the vast majority of people who support the same people or organizations. See how easy it is not to be a judgmental partisan hack?

F**k you! F**k me. Fascinating. Tip to Instapundit.

Okay, at this point Skynet is just playing with us the way cats toy with mice, right? My stockpile of incandescent bulbs doesn't torment me. Tip to Instapundit.

Those noting that Iran backed down after a 1988 naval clash with America in the Persian Gulf should note that Iran was at war with Iraq at that time, and getting their ass handed to them and losing the will to fight after nearly 8 years of stalemated attrition. We were a secondary enemy. Indeed, the Ayatollah Khomeini tried--and failed--to use the clash with America to rally Iranians to renew their support for the war with Iraq. Iran soon accepted a ceasefire with Iraq. So the situation now in any potential clash with Iran in the Persian Gulf is way different and I wouldn't draw parallels between then and now too closely.