Sunday, May 31, 2020

Weekend Data Dump

China has been very aggressive since they unleashed the Xi Jinping Flu on the world, it seems. Do they figure they're just bouncing the rubble by pushing against neighbors now? I mean, now it is India's turn to see Chinese troops setting up shop on the Indian side of a demarcation line. Indian sources say 5,000 PLA troops have entered the northern region. And India says China has brought up artillery and mechanized forces. What is going on? Are things shakier inside China than it appears? Is China trying to push outward to distract their people from anger? Is this just another round of business as usual for the CCP thugs? Or is China seeking to exploit three decades of outstripping India in economic and military growth?

Say, let's remember that Max Baucus is standing up for China in a most vile way. Via Instapundit.

I'm thinking that Israel needs to dramatically and decisively reverse this lingering recruiting tool for Hezbollah.

Russia is pulling their most expensive commitments out of Libya as costs for their foreign policy mount even as sanctions and the Xi Jinping Flu pandemic harm Russia's ability to pay. Last week I did wonder that Russia is thinking, "Russia's foreign adventures puzzle me. Russia can ill afford their foreign adventures all over the globe as if Russia is a superpower. What on Earth does Putin think Russia will gain by interfering in Libya on the LNA's side? (But the author's idea that we should thwart Putin by supporting the jihadi-friendly recognized GNA government is nonsense.) And Lord, given Russia's finances that barely allow them to interfere in Libya, can Russia really afford to win in Libya? Putin would be like the dog that caught the car. What now?"

Turkey has 10,000 Syrian mercenaries in Libya acting as spearhead forces for the more numerous allied GNA militias.

Yes, corruption is a threat to the PLA Navy, as it is to all elements of China's security forces. Military corruption is a traditional problem in China. The question is whether it affects the combat capability of the navy enough to help enemies beat their navy. Are ships substandard? Are weapon and system capabilities known to enemies? Are operational plans known to enemies? Are officers poor but in command because of corruption? Are sailors trained? That's the problem. We can count ships and look at the numbers of weapon characteristics. We can weigh such quantitative factors. But we have trouble evaluating the invisible factors that can be swayed by fear or wishful thinking.

Unleash the cyber-privateers!

Even if China doesn't have military reasons to take Taiwanese islands in the South China Sea because China has built islands in the region, it is not accurate to say China has no "strategic" reasons to take them. Just signaling that China is willing to start the process of taking Taiwanese territory no matter how small is a big signal of intent to pressure Taiwan.

Britain has a moral duty to help Hong Kong. The 1997 deal was never a good one. The only hope was that by the time Hong Kong was fully incorporated into China in 2047, China wouldn't be a communist dictatorship. But Britain could not wage war to keep Hong Kong. But China should pay a price for their moves to crush Hong Kong's freedoms early. Upgrading British passports to allow people there to flee to Britain is certainly one small step that could be taken. I wonder if America will organize a rescue effort in the South China Sea when the Hong Kong boat people flee to the sea.

Iranian tankers arrived in Venezuela and you'd think the Maduro regime had just won World War II: "'Images of the arrival of the first ship 'Fortune' at our refinery in El Palito. We keep going and WINNING!' wrote Oil Minister Tareck El Aissami on Twitter." But this sums up their "victory:"


I suspect that pandemic deaths in America are inflated due to financial incentives and victimhood status; while other countries deflate their death toll out of national pride or fear of domestic backlash. So hold off on your early judgments of who has failed in enduring and recovering from the Xi Jinping Flu pandemic.

I'm not sure why Democrats are pushing so hard for male-only voting, but if that's what they want, I'm willing to try.

Iran is experiencing financial and battlefield setbacks in Syria. Also, Iraq joins Saudi Arabia as the top two OPEC oil exporters. So our lower oil prices in part are thanks to the Iraq War which finally ended the oil drought from Iraq after Saddam invaded Iran, subsequent Saddam mismanagement and international sanctions, and insurgent sabotage after Saddam was defeated. Finally oil production is increasing. Ideally Iraq would diversify for their self-destructive reliance on oil income.

The French carrier is in the Persian Gulf launching strikes against ISIL. That's great. But I guess the French don't worry about being in a shooting gallery.

I think the horrible behavior of our White House press corps acting like Democratic operatives has earned them McEnany. I wish we didn't need McEnany. But I can't get on board slamming Jonah Goldberg for criticizing her behavior. Aspirationally, I can't disagree with him. If the White House press corps starts acting like journalists rather than self-absorbed scribes for the Democrats, then I'll complain about McEnany acting more like a campaign spokeswoman rather than a press secretary. It takes a village to wreck a press conference. Journalists should stop acting like victims--they're not. Disagree with Jonah. But give him a break--he isn't suddenly a liberal. I have sympathy for his position. Personally I don't like Trump's style. But I remain grateful that he and not Hillary! is president. I don't have to like all his policies (and I resent his views on the war in Iraq, which he should want to defend rather than repeat Obama's mistake), but they are better than the alternative. So I remain loyal to the administration and not the man. And I'll be grateful if the Republican Party can remove Trump's style imprint on the party after Trump is gone--in January 2025. Until then, you conduct policy with the president you have and not the president you wish you had. Does that make me a RINO? Not as far as I'm concerned. And where I live I'm still pretty much considered a Nazi for being right of Bernie Sanders, I suppose. Which says something about the politics in Ann Arbor and nothing about me, of course. And you deal with a partisan press corps you have and not the one you wish you had. I swear, when a journalism school studies the press corps in this era, they'll measure their slavish devotion during the Obama era and their mindless Resistance of the Trump era, and conclude that on average they were perfectly neutral.

These days there is far more worry about feeding the global poor than in getting oil. So a corn-powered cruise missile is stupid.

Glonass, the Russian equivalent of GPS, is living on borrowed time as their satellites age without access to Western electronics and components for replacements.

To be fair, lockdowns are for the little people. Allegedly.

... and my air conditioner died the second day of summer-level weather. I managed to get a service call for the day the high was to drop from the 80s to 71. Oh well. It will be a long summer.

That is a horrifying attitude. Although to be fair, if it simply reflects analysis of reality and does not reflect a desire to prevent economic growth, that's fine. Tip to Instapundit.

Almost four years ago there were Democrats in California making noises about secession from Trump's America. They settled for "sanctuary" policies on immigration control. And now Democrats in California want tons of money from Trump's America. Life is funny.

And through it all, the media averted its eyes from His blinding glory and chiseled his every utterance in stone.

Upon reflection, I can totally see Governor Whitmer's husband doing the "I'm the governor's husband" as a joke. That issue obscures the fact that he was trying to put a boat in the water when he should perhaps be setting an example that the governor wants all of us to follow. A kerfuffle, at best. But this is "gotcha" season and sadly it is played against Republicans with more vigor. Note that suddenly presidential golf is again unacceptable after 8 years of treating complaints about presidential golf as racism.

Nigeria is again killing jihadis with some vigor. Which will have to do until the Islamic world resolves their civil war to suppress the number of eager recruits who want to kill for their faith.  The Xi Jinping Flu has reached Nigeria, but like in much of Africa it seems to be barely noticed among the other causes of death, unlike in the rest of the world. But perhaps they are just early in their infection curve.

It sounds like the liberal white woman and the Black man in the Central Park dog park encounter were both less than sterling examples of our citizenry.

So the F-35B will guarantee American naval dominance over China? Maybe. If they have places to take off and land from. I don't assume our carriers or few air bases close to China will be capable of doing that at the volume needed. Nor will we have the numbers of those planes even if we could spread them out (and supply them) at austere little landing strips all over the western Pacific. The A and C models will be the bulk of the force on land and at sea. And the comparison to Chinese carriers ignores that they will likely fight under an umbrella of land-based missiles and aircraft rather than far out to sea. The B model is a useful plane, but let's not throw panties at it.

Thanks 2020! "Unusual or aggressive rodent behavior."

Chinese and Russian propaganda to shift blame from China for the Xi Jinping Flu to America has precedent in the vile Soviet propaganda campaign to blame AIDS on America. Democrats simply discovered in 2016 what Russia does. It naturally came as a shock to Democrats that the Russians worked against Democrats.

Is China really going to risk war with India? Even as China pushes in the South China Sea region against Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, and other regional states with conflicting claims? Perhaps instead of calling Xi Jinping an emperor we should call him a kaiser.

The media is viewed as making the Xi Jinping Flu pandemic worse by its exaggerations rather than helping by informing us. But the media will still pass out awards to each other at their next gathering, I have no doubt.

Gordon Chang did not say China deliberately spread the Xi Jinping epidemic to the world, despite what the headline says. He noted that if China intended to do that, what would they have done differently? Given that China requires export markets to recover and that the pandemic has shaken those markets and reduced the desire of people to trade with China, I'd say I want harder evidence than that to agree. Even though I've noted much the same possibility in theory myself.

All too true for comfort: "China Issues Stay-At-Home Order To Hong Kong To Prevent Spread Of Democracy".

Why I don't trust the media: part X. A more accurate description of the data would say that Republican districts didn't have the same extreme spike in Xi Jinping Flu cases. That dramatic Democratic district drop in cases still has a way to go to get as good as the Republican districts.

If our media wants to see a national leader abusing the press corps they'll have to look to Canada. With a bonus shutdown of the legislative branch. But if Trudeau is spotted wearing some approved victim group socks, our journalists will squeal like besotted  school girls over him. Tip to Instapundit.

As long as I'm on the media, while it is left-wing choir, I think that is groupthink at work rather than a conspiracy. While things like JournoList did do some orchestration and orientation policing, that was (and probably still is in other forms) a minor part of the bias problem.

I don't like this glimpse of our future.  If this is a once-in-a-century pandemic, will we really go through with it? And if we do, will it be about preventing that low-probability event?

Hah! Although oddly enough, by 1903 the erroneous verdict was in, so why did I learn about the brontosaurus in the first place?  Science is always settled--until it isn't.

China's economic problems--"corruption, bad loans, foreign firms leaving, labor unrest, unreliable economic statistics"--began in 2018 well before the late 2019 outbreak of the Xi Jinping Flu which became a pandemic inflicted even more damage. The corruption fueled by the massive three decades of growth is still present. As is the covid virus despite CCP denials. China under the CCP may very well be just another corrupt dynasty in the long history of China that will eventually fall. But "eventually" could mean decades or centuries, eh? Bonus question: would China risk war with India to distract their own people from the many problems China has? Bonus observation: Russia is running out of the military technology developed during the Cold War and finds it can't design and build better stuff. My question is whether China would instead risk achieving a signal victory over Russia. India could expect help from America. Russia could not.

A celebrity explicitly calls for the assassination of Trump and our media-Democratic complex is unbothered. I'm so old I remember when they got the vapors over a bullshit causal chain of events from bullseye indicators on a campaign map to the shooting of a Congresswoman.

Reading things in light of the last three years' ridiculous charges of Trump-Russia collusion is fascinating. Reading Donald Kagan's 1995 book On the Origins of War and the Preservation of Peace provided a "Huh" moment on page 487. Andrei Sakharov noted Khrushchev's reply to a note from Sakharov before the Cuban Missile Crisis regarding nuclear testing. Khrushchev thought Kennedy was a pushover and wondered why they needed him, prefacing his dismissal of our president with "Look, we helped elect Kennedy last year." What does that mean? Just what did the Russians do--or think they did--to help Kennedy win the 1960 election? I'd never heard anything of the sort on this, although I can think of one book I have that I need to check out.

Perhaps the simulation is reaching its platform limits as it gets bigger and more complicated. A good hardware upgrade might fix it.

Before heavy-lift helicopters, the Army used a land train to help build the Distant Early Warning (DEW) line.

I noted the contrast in media coverage of peaceful--if armed--lockdown protesters in Michigan that likened them to Nazi threats that required harsher responses to the constant reporting of Antifa violence as "largely peaceful" protests: "Oh, and despite some armed protesters, there was no violence and no gunfire. Again, not my kind of protest if I got to design it. But I can only wish the media held Antifa to the same standards of decorum. You remember the 'largely peaceful' descriptions, right?" And then Minneapolis (and later St. Paul) was wracked by riots that the media has called "protests." The media bias is very clear. This is totally separate from the unjustifiable death of a clearly subdued George Floyd at the hands of that city's police. Even if he was guilty of trying to pass a counterfeit $20 bill, being found guilty after a trial is not a death penalty offense. So police should not in effect impose the death penalty for a relatively trifle offense (see also selling "loosies" on the street). To return to the media coverage, seriously, WTF? To beat a dead horse here, if a lockdown protest had included even a trash can fire, reporters would have made it clear that they believed the National Guard should be called out with live ammunition to suppress the "insurrection."

SOUTHCOM gets another asset: "A company-sized advisory team from the Army’s 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade will deploy to Colombia on June 1 to support counter-narcotics operations in the Caribbean, U.S. Southern Command announced Thursday."
An

The violence in Minnesota is reprehensible. The Minneapolis mayor's decision to abandon a police station to the mob is ridiculous. He said he didn't want to kill over a building. He's right enough on that point, as a general rule. That's certainly what my National Guard riot control training taught me. We were told that our job was to make our fellow citizens leave the area or go home. Very few locations were worth killing to defend. A Target store, no. A nuclear power plant, you bet. Riot control doesn't involve killing ideally, and there are equipment and tactics to stop and move people. And most of the people not actively looting and pillaging will go home under those circumstances, leaving the hard core to be arrested. I'll add that I wonder if such a riot would have taken place if there hadn't been a lockdown for so long, making people just a little eager to get outside--even to riot or just watch one. After all, the police officers involved were quickly fired, one has been arrested already, and there is even federal interest in prosecution if a federal crime by the officers is determined to have taken place. Seriously, just who is defending the police conduct in this incident that would justify rioting in the face of government refusal to act? Lileks has more. I heard him say that the masked Antifa scum were involved in fanning the flames. This is not the work of the mythical white nationalist stormtrooper legion of doom, which remains the boogeyman of our left-wing media. Not that there aren't white nationalists, but they remain few and marginalized unlike the Antifa scum who are romanticized by the media and Democrats. Remember, too, that Minneapolis--and I assume every other city with riots--is run by Democrats. I only say this because if Republicans ran the city it would be in every headline and every first sentence on TV news stories about the killing of Floyd and the subsequent disturbances. And blaming Trump is really pretty stupid, all things considered.

The Navy carried out what it called a freedom of navigation operation (FONOP) in the South China Sea: "Mustin‘s transit near the Paracel Islands 'upheld the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea recognized in international law by challenging the restrictions on innocent passage imposed by China, Taiwan, and Vietnam and also by challenging China’s claim to straight baselines enclosing the Paracel Islands,' Lt. j.g. Rachel Maul told USNI News in an email." That's interesting. It isn't a traditional FONOP that challenges claimed control. It is an operation to defend "innocent passage" which normally doesn't challenge claims of control. What limitations does China put on that established right of innocent passage? Also, it isn't just sovereignty claims by China that the US opposes. Our position is clear, the body of water is an international waterway that nobody can claim. And the question of who owns what islands should be done peacefully and not settled by force.

Washtenaw County had its own budding police and protest situation. I don't know if the charges against the woman and her husband and their resisting arrest justified a law enforcement officer punching the woman in the face. But I do know that lockdown protesters are treated far less sympathetically for their lack of social distancing. And I am sure that the couple's link  to "Moorish citizenship" would have gotten more critical attention, with little media sympathy for the adherents "[Taylor city police chief] Blair said Wednesday that since the (the two) claim Moorish citizenship outside the United States, his department has had trouble enforcing local and state laws against the couple. 'They claim they can only answer to federal authorities,' Blair said. Sha’Teina Grady El was the plaintiff in two federal lawsuits filed in the last year against five Taylor police officers for harassment on these grounds, according to court records. The lawsuits were dismissed." (Moorish citizenship is an offshoot of the largely white "sovereign citizen" movement from the 1990s that denied federal government authority--which dominated my work "X-Files" questions). There is some confusion either on the part of Blair or the couple, because the Moorish group denies the authority of all government in America. Filing lawsuits is a tactic to harass the government, as the link on the Moorish citizens explains. I mean, if even the SPLC has this view of the group, perhaps this couple isn't the hill you want to die on for civil rights. Mind you, perhaps the woman should not have been punched for resisting arrest--the video at the first link doesn't exactly scream lack of resistance, eh? Even nutballs have civil rights. But let the investigation handle this and stop with the marching in the streets to block traffic. Also, the original Moorish group was called the "Washitaw Nation." Is the surface similarity of that name to Washtenaw County part of the reason the couple is here? Or were drawn to the ideology?

"Russia Derangement Syndrome" is only an unhealthy obsession in the BS Russia-Trump collusion angle. Otherwise the Russians deserve every bit of it for their hostile behavior toward the West and their slavish obedience to China. I think Russia could have joined the West after the Cold War. But Putin has led Russia into pointless confrontation with NATO, all in order to hide his appeasement of China. Seriously, what is Russia's major malfunction? #WhyRussiaCan'tHaveNiceThings

I wouldn't say that hoping that economic progress will turn China on the path to representative and rule of law democracy was foolishly wrong. What we can say is that China's economic growth hasn't yet reached that end point. We can also say that of course the thug Chinese Communist Party will resist such a transition. Obviously we have to be on our guard as China's military and economic power still under the control of the CCP has outraced any theoretical impetus toward democracy. And of course, we have to appreciate that even a democratic China could be hostile and nationalistic. Personally, I've long been in the camp of preferring a poorer hostile China over the risk of getting a much more powerful China that may or may not be democratic and may or may not be less hostile to America.

Lebanon has agreed to extend the UNIFIL "peacekeeping" force in southern Lebanon on the border of Israel for another year, without any changes that Israel wants to make the force actually useful. Truth in advertising would require that UN force be renamed UNIFAIL, or possibly UNIFUTILE. The only thing that UNIFIL does is shield Hezbollah from Israeli military action.

Apparently upset that Trump said of Minneapolis riots that when the looting starts, the shooting starts, Warren tweeted  "the President of the United States should not be fanning the flames of racism & inciting violence against Black Americans." So Warren is saying that only African Americans loot?

From the "Be careful what you wish for" file, I guess: the nationwide lockdown is over. Who in the media will condemn going outside in groups now?

I don't like how Twitter puts its thumb on the scales for liberals. I don't think the cure of government punishment or regulation is the answer in the long run. But you have to admit that Twitter is asking for this by selectively restricting and editing content rather than being a platform with neutral rules.

If Iran can get the element of surprise they can surely do some damage with their naval arsenal. But after that we'll sink everything they have. 

Yeah, I worry about November. But I always worry. My sense of optimism is restricted to my own life. Tip to Instapundit.

Liberals keep saying that Trump has botched the national response to the Xi Jinping Flu pandemic. It doesn't seem that way to me, least of all because state and local governments have a major role in our system of government. Nor does our result seem out of line with the experience in Western Europe with its left-of-center governments and national health care systems. And this is out of my lane, so I admit I could be wrong. But I'd be more willing to say my judgment about our national government is wrong and liberals are right if liberals didn't throw their panties at Governor Cuomo for his terrible record in New York. Tip to Instapundit.

America paid a price in lives and economic activity to win the first campaign in the war on the Xi Jinping Flu coronavirus pandemic, but the price in lives we paid has been much less than it could have been. And the economic price would have been paid eventually without a lockdown as people simply stopped going to work in that kind of pandemic environment. Now we must continue the mission and try to restore our lives.

"The CNN Center in Atlanta was vandalized on Friday during ongoing protests over the deaths of George Floyd and numerous other black men and women at the hands of police." I'm sure CNN will report that the "protests" outside their headquarters were "largely peaceful." If there is a mix of overwhelmingly peaceful protesters with a cadre of violent scum, just focus on describing the mostly violent scum separately from the peaceful protesters. Protesting is fine. Vandalizing CNN Center is not. You should not lump them together to spread the blame across the lawful and unlawful.

If those Antifa scum provoked the looting and rioting in Minneapolis, the FBI should start a nationwide campaign to round them up and prosecute them. If these cul-de-sac communists want to stage an uprising behind the shield of people who want to protest, put them down hard. RICO? And I guess crossing state borders to participate in violence makes it a federal issue. And from the "Ask and you shall receive" file, Trump declares Antifa a terrorist organization [UPDATE: This doesn't have a legal effect but is a statement of intent to use existing federal laws to get the scumbags]. Get 'em. Bonus for Antifa being a mostly white organization, so Democrats can't go all "That's a racist dog whistle!" on this. To be clear, it is possible to be against police killing people under arrest, for protesters peacefully marching against that, and against the rioting and looting scum like Antifa.

Yes!


Washington, District of Columbia Speed traps. Tip to Instapundit.

The U.S. may send elements of a Security Force Assistance Brigade to Tunisia to train and advise their military for dealing with jihadis, especially with Libya next door. In related news, the last SFAB has been activated, with a Pacific orientation.

It is rather interesting that Russia seriously worries about a Western-instigated revolution. Regardless of my anger at Russian interference in our elections, I spend zero time worrying that Russia might instigate a revolution here.

Nationwide protests and riots over George Floyd's apparently unjustifiable death in Minneapolis have broken out. As I understand it, we have confrontations between largely peaceful protesters (with the usual communist suspects triggering violence) on one side and largely responsible law enforcement officers (who have some small percentage of bad actors) on the other side. In the middle of the Xi Jinping Flu pandemic. That makes total sense. Thanks 2020.

In better news, America is a spacefaring nation again with the successful launch of the SpaceX ship taking astronauts to the International Space Station, where they successfully docked the next day.This is a private company contracted by NASA for the launch. May private companies finally lead to an expansion of our space reach and presence.

I think I raised this possibility before, but Britain may allow up to 3 million Hongkongers  to get British visa rights and a path to citizenship. Good for them. One can hardly expect Britain to wage war on China over Hong Kong's fate. But economic and intelligence reprisals are justified as is efforts to help the victims of China cope. American and regional navies should probably be ready to pick up fleeing refugees at sea, if China goes full communist on Hong Kong and another wave of boat people flee the oppressors.

Damned Russians. I'm frankly shocked that Poland hasn't sought nuclear weapons to keep Russia at bay. #WhyRussiaCan'tHaveNiceThings

Do our colleges value Chinese cash or academic integrity more? Tip to Instapundit.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

The Unbearable Slightness of Being There

What did Russia win in Syria?

I'm not so sure if I want to solve the Syria problem now when it will rescue our enemies Assad, Russia, Iran, and our Blacksheep ally Erdogan's Turkey. And solving their problems will just make the Kurds' problems expand. We have a humanitarian motive, of course, but there are limits to how much we can care about Syrians when our enemies don't care and will exploit our caring for their own ends at our expense.

But this part is a good assessment of Russia's adventure in Syria:

There is no foreseeable dividend for Russia in Syria. It is instead a financial drain, a sinkhole, at a time when falling oil prices and COVID-19 have set back the Russian economy.

I haven't been impressed with Putin's victory there.

When Russia intervened I didn't think he could get much of value and my goal was to make sure he paid a price without the West helping reduce the cost:

So don't panic that Russians are in Syria. If Russia gets a [base] deal [either] to save an Alawite state in the west or to regain control of Syria, Russia will get their bases near the coast. So any worries that Russian troops will get Russia a base if we don't cooperate with Putin are nonsense. Cooperating with Russia will just get Russia the bases without forcing Russia to pay a price for intervention.

Russia does not want to fight for Assad. Putin wants to save Assad as cheaply as possible so he can get back to picking apart eastern Ukraine while consolidating the conquest of Crimea (and then Belarus will be in Putin's crosshairs, prior to focusing on the Baltic states). Our cooperation is key to letting Russia win in Syria on the cheap.

Don't fall for Putin's ploy. Bid him good luck and tell him to have fun storming the castle.

And as the armed opposition fell apart, I wrote:

The Russians bought a pile of trouble to get bases in the Mediterranean Sea region. I don't understand the point of Russia expending effort to get a foothold in Syria. I don't think that it does them any good other than to remind them of their Soviet glory days. And I really don't see the point of Russia's escalating role in eastern Syria.

Russia got a sugar rush from their Syria intervention that will wear off as the grind of dealing with that Hell Hole continues to suck resources from Russia. Putin will need another short and glorious war to restore the rush. And one day the short and glorious war will turn out very obviously badly for Russia.

The naval and air bases in Syria make no sense for a weakened Russia whose blue water fleet is fading away.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Zee Said, Xi Said

So what is Germany's natural view of America?

In the Trump era we hear a lot about how America has forfeited the trust and friendship of our allies, like the Germans:

I'm not saying we shouldn't try to improve our image in Europe, but if Germans think China is better than America in whatever way polls ask, that's Germany's problem. That's nuts. How can German opinion move toward a horrible China at the expense of an allied and democratic America? I don't buy that Germans want American leadership on the Xi Jinping Flu pandemic. If Trump was telling Germans and Europeans what to do, raise your hands if you think Germans would be saluting and executing. Anyone? ...

Anyone? And yes, German opinions of America shot up when Obama was president. But what exactly did that provide America? Help in the Middle East? Rearmament to contain Russia? Cheap schnitzel imports? Their good will and a buck got us a small coffee. So address the issue but don't obsess. There was a lot of BS in that article.

CBS provided a good example of the blame Trump line of attack (via Instapundit):

U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, a staunch ally of President Donald Trump, is to resign from his post after two years that have seen transatlantic relations strained in a way they haven't been for decades. ...

Grenell dismissed accusations that he was interfering in Germany's internal affairs as "absurd," but his overt pressure on Berlin on a number of contentious topics strained ties between the allies[.]

So I found this excerpt from Donald Kagan's On the Origins of War and the Preservation of Peace (p. 482) fascinating:

Kennedy, speaking of the characteristic mistrust the Germans felt toward his administration, compared them to the wife who continually asked her husband if he loved her. "When he keeps saying that he does, she demands, 'But do you really love me?'--and then has him trailed by detectives."

Yeah, I'm think its them and not us.

China is their soul mate? Because of Trump?

America rebuilt Germany rather than destroy it after World War II, embraced and defended them in the Cold War, and championed reunification with East Germany after the Cold War.

But the Germans doubt us and look for fake infidelity, while flirting with communist China?

Maybe democracy and de-Nazification didn't take hold as well as we think. Good to know.

Red Storm Subsiding

The Russian fleet is fading away:

Russia has been trying, since the late 1990s, to build replacements for Cold War era warships. Most of these have reached the end of their useful lives and many of them, while still listed as in service, rarely, if ever, seem to leave port. Russian admirals have been aware of the fact that they won't have much of a navy by the 2020s unless these older ships are replaced. The problem is that the older ships cannot be easily or cheaply refurbished or upgraded because that would cost more than buying new ones, These older ships are not just falling apart, but because there was not any money available right after the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, there were few repairs and no upgrades during the 1990s.

Even the priority of submarines is faltering:

Submarines were one ship type that got priority for new construction even in the 1990s but that has now slowed down. This is critical when it comes to building replacements for the last Cold War class of SSBNs (Nuclear ballistic missile subs) were all completed in the 1980s. These have been quietly retired or “semi-retired” (only going to sea for training). Priority was put on building eight new Borei class SSBNs. These were delayed and the first one did not enter service until 2013. There are now four in service but construction on the other four has been stopped. Some of these are half built but there is simply no money to finish them now. So the SSBN fleet is in danger of shrinking to four subs for a while, maybe a long while.

Russia is a land power. With hug land borders. With a rising China with land claims on Russian territory in the Far East and ambitions in the former Soviet states in Central Asia:

Russia continues to pretend NATO is a military threat while ignoring the growing Chinese threat to retake the Far East territory that Russia grabbed from China in the 19th century.

A fleet makes no sense for Russia:

Russia needs SSBNs for a survivable nuclear deterrent; coastal vessels and SSNs to secure SSBN bastions in the Sea of Okhosk and the Barents Sea; other coastal vessels to protect their coasts from enemy navies in the Sea of Japan, Barents Sea, Baltic Sea, Black Sea, and Caspian Sea; perhaps a few larger ships for show-the-flag operations; and a solid determination not to waste resources on more than that which are more needed for air and ground power to defend their long border.

It isn't just that Russia won't meet their goals for ships and subs, but that Russia is wasting money on trying to achieve those goals at the expense of real defense objectives.

Of course, fixating on NATO in and around Poland makes no sense. Trying to create military power to control Poland and to have a blue water fleet are two of the three traditional sources of Russian weakness, after all.

UPDATE: Dead cat bounce:

Russia has finally completed the refurbishment of one of its oldest large surface warships, the 12,000 ton Moskva. This was the first of the Slava class cruisers and entered service in 1982. ...

At the moment one Slava is based in the Baltic, one in the Black Sea (with frequent trips to the Mediterranean) and the third in the Pacific.

I'm sure they look marvelous.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Warthogs Live to Fight Another Day

Two-hundred and thirty-seven A-10s will survive until 2040 in the Air Force in 7 squadrons (3 active and 4 in reserves):

The U.S. Air Force has finally decided to keep its popular, at least with pilots and infantry, A-10 attack aircraft. Nicknamed "Warthog" or just "hog", the A-10 never got much respect from air force leaders. The new plan reduces the A-10 force by 44 aircraft, to 237. These will equip seven squadrons.

The Air Force spent much of the decade up to this decision trying to kill the A-10.

Even updated, the A-10 will not be allowed to operate in the face of robust air defenses. Which makes sense. An odd fade for a plane built to fight low and slow in the teeth of enemy air defenses. It's a whole new air defense world out there now.

But they are still valuable planes against irregulars and insurgents.

And I think in a conventional battle the plane would be useful against advancing enemy armor that is operating beyond a robust air defense network. So it could mass 30mm anti-tank and smart bomb power where an enemy breaks through friendly lines more quickly than ground forces can get there.

The A-10 can't handle all missions, but it can handle some. And more important in my mind is that the A-10 keeps ground support as a specific Air Force mission that would not get the same attention if the mission was just one of many for multi-role F-35s.

Never Again

The horrible Iran nuclear deal never had any hope of wrecking Iran's nuclear ambitions, but it sure did take a good shot at killing rule of law in America:

So if the Obama administration wasn’t alarmed by Flynn’s nonexistent ties to Russia, why was he Obama’s No. 1 target? Why were officials from the previous administration intercepting his phone calls with the Russian ambassador?

The answer is that Obama saw Flynn as a signal threat to his legacy, which was rooted in his July 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran—the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Flynn had said long before he signed on with the Trump campaign that it was a catastrophe to realign American interests with those of a terror state. And now that the candidate he’d advised was the new president-elect, Flynn was in a position to help undo the deal. To stop Flynn, the outgoing White House ran the same offense it used to sell the Iran deal—they smeared Flynn through the press as an agent of a foreign power, spied on him, and leaked classified intercepts of his conversations to reliable echo chamber allies.

And one line of attack by the Obama administration was to divert the debate into pointless details:

One strategy employed by Rhodes’ echo chamber assets was to engage critics in esoteric debates over details of the Iran deal. For instance, how many centrifuges would Iranian reactors be allowed to spin? Had Iran’s supreme leader declared a genuine fatwa against nuclear weapons? Was this or that nuclear site a military facility?

Among the handful of honest reporters covering the deal, most didn’t have enough information, time, or energy to continue fighting a wall of static noise. And that was the point of Obama’s media campaign—to drown out, smear, and shut down opponents and even skeptics. Thus, echo chamber allies purposefully obscured the core issue.

I was not confused because well before the deal was signed I knew with absolute certainty what the deal would be:

I don't bother speculating on the potential details. The big picture has always been clear to me.

The Iranians will pretend not to have a nuclear weapons program; and we will pretend to believe them.

It was bad enough that Obama destroyed the Senate's treaty approval power to drag the deal across the finish line, lying to the country through the media and friendly think tanks--that echo chamber--in the process.


I just don't get how mullah-run Iran inspires such loyalty among some people.

Then the deal-inspired attack on rule of law went from the Senate to domestic spying and damaging our tradition of peaceful transfer of power.

People involved in this Obama administration plotting need some solid prison time. And any pardons need to be accompanied by truth and reconciliation commission-type public hearings about what the guilty parties did.

Or are we fine with banana republic intrigue in our federal government?

Tip to Instapundit.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

When an Act of War Falls in the Desert and Nobody Admits It

Strategypage discusses Iran's drone program. When did the practice of being able to deny an act of war become effective?

One of these [denied attacks] was the successful use of over twenty armed drones in late 2019 to attack Saudi oil production facilities. Iran attributed this to Shia rebels in Yemen that have substantial, but unofficial, Iran backing. This enables Iran to deny responsibility for the 2019 attack because that would have been an act of war and had some very real and very destructive repercussions for Iran. Instead Iran claimed that the attack was carried out by the Yemeni Shia rebels.

The Saudis were able to collect fragments of the several UAVs involved and reconstruct them. It was obvious that most of these UAVs did not have to range to travel from Yemen to northeast Saudi Arabia. The only other launch area was in nearby Iran.

So what if Iran denies they attacked Saudi Arabia?

Saudi Arabia knows Iran attacked Saudi Arabia. That 2019 attack was an act of war regardless of whether Iran admits they committed an act of war. Why wouldn't the Saudis just treat it as an Iranian act of war?

Not that we aren't guilty of this over Russia's invasion of Ukraine or even over Iran itself.

NOTE: Well, I screwed up the title as I intended it anyway, so why not edit it to make it more accurate?

Protect the Win

Should America remain in Iraq? The mistake of leaving in 2011 and our return in 2014 to wage Iraq War 2.0 seems to make the answer obvious: yes. From a RAND study:

More specifically, the authors recommend that the United States continue to actively support the development of stability and democracy in Iraq; select optimal risk-benefit balance between no withdrawal and limited withdrawal; maintain an enduring advisory mission to help develop Iraq's security forces; and help the Iraqi military improve civil-military relations over time.

I don't think we should reduce our already small footprint. We need to bolster rule of law in the government and security forces, keep training Iraqi security forces, reduce Iranian influence, protect the Kurds and keep them from causing trouble, keep Iraqi forces in the fight against Sunni jihadis, directly attack jihadis, and be capable of holding our positions and attacking hostile forces that threaten our troops if necessary.

Much of this phase of the Iraq War will not be American-led combat missions or even combat at all. But we must wage this fight alongside our Iraqi allies.

On that score, Iraqi Shias are losing their misconceptions about their fellow Shias:

Iraqis are aware of these developments in Lebanon and Katab Hezbollah is accused of working for Iran to achieve Iranian control over Iraq. The head of Katab Hezbollah was killed along with Quds commander Qassem Soleimani back in January. Now the United States is offering a $10 million reward for information about the location of Mohammad Kawtharani, the senior Lebanese Hezbollah in Iraq, where he coordinates Iranian support for and control of Katab Hezbollah. More and more Iraqis are turning against Iran-backed groups in Iraq, where local media are less intimidated by pro-Iran militias and are openly mocking things like the Iranian practice of creating fictitious pro-Iran militia via the Internet. This is typical Iranian propaganda and once had a large following in Iraq. As Iran uses more violence in its efforts to gain control over Iraq, more Iraqis lose their long-held illusions about Iranian goals in Iraq. The growing popular anger in Iran against the religious dictatorship also sends a message to Iraqis that even Iranians don’t trust or like the Iranian government. Both Iranians and Iraqis are defying the Iranian government thugs in both countries and tearing down or defacing posters and billboards promoting the Iranian government and its policies. In Iraqi many local governments are banning pro-Iran posters.

And speaking of the fictitious pro-Iran militias, don't get too worked up over Iran's virtual resistance and believe it is real:

Several new Shia militias have emerged in Iraq since March that claim to have targeted American forces and American-contracted companies. Most of these groups, however, have produced claims with scare, inconsistent, or incorrect details – and little to no visual evidence to corroborate them.

This influx in supposed militias inside Iraq is likely a propaganda game being played by Iran and its allies to create political cover for anti-American activities in the country for more established groups. It also may serve to create a narrative of a far-reaching movement that is opposed to the presence of American troops.

So-called groups like “The People of the Cave,” “The Fist of Guidance,” and “Revenge of Muhandis Brigade” are mentioned. What, no "Mother of Dragons?" (NSFW)

The idea that the left has pushed that overthrowing Saddam was a gift to Iran (and that complaint from the left was pre-Iran nuclear deal Iran worship) was purely nonsense. Naturally we had to resist Iran in Iraq after destroying the Saddam regime. Pulling American troops out of Iraq in 2011 gave Iran a tremendous opportunity to expand their influence when ISIL rose up in 2014. But now, finally, we are able to push back harder. Let's not blow it.

Some American missions can be achieved by forces based outside of Iraq, but there is only so much we can do to replace boots on the ground without risking a defeat in this long win.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

The Opportunity in Crisis

This is an interesting discussion of post-Xi Jinping Flu U.S.-China relations. This in particular leapt out:

The major U.S. weapon against China is economic. Here the virus opens opportunities. The U.S. is dependent on China for vast amounts of products, a supply chain that gave the U.S. the benefit of low-cost manufacturing, and the Chinese an industrial base. The Chinese move is to expel and block the U.S. supply chain, but Beijing can’t do it while also maintaining social stability. And the U.S. has options to replace the Chinese supply chain.

I noted this Chinese export reliance problem:

China has made threats based on their control of key components and ingredients needed to battle the Wuhan Flu. It may be an empty threat that if carried out will only accelerate a decoupling of China's economy from the world in a dangerous--dare I say interesting--time. ...

I suspect China can only slow the decoupling and not stop it. The CCP may not have any choice but to export what we'll take to slow decoupling and hope for the best.

Interesting times, indeed.

Hongkongers are Right to Fear the CCP


For a so-called patient people with the ability to think ahead centuries, the CCP sure seems in a hurry to control Hong Kong fully in violation of their two-decade-old commitment. China is very powerful. Hongkongers should fear what the Chinese Communist Party can do to them. But maybe China should fear Hongkongers.

The United States has spoken out in favor of the Hong Kong people resisting the CCP:

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday condemned China's effort to take over national security legislation in Hong Kong, calling it “a death knell for the high degree of autonomy" that Beijing had promised the territory.

Pompeo called for Beiing to reconsider the move and warned of an unspecified U.S. response if it proceeds. Meanwhile, White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett said China risked a major flight of capital from Hong Kong that would end the territory's status as the financial hub of Asia. Shortly afterward, the Commerce Department announced new restrictions on sensitive exports to China.

Hongkongers will need all the support they can get:

Thousands of demonstrators have been marching through the city centre. Police say 120 have been arrested.

Earlier, 200 senior politicians from around the world issued a joint statement criticising China's plan.

But China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the legislation should be brought in "without the slightest delay".

China is seeking to pass a law that would ban "treason, secession, sedition and subversion" in the territory.

Activists fear it is an attempt to limit freedoms and silence Beijing's opponents.

Pictures here.

Interestingly enough, Taiwan's president has spoken out for the people of Hong Kong:

Taiwan will provide the people of Hong Kong with “necessary assistance”, President Tsai Ing-wen said, after a resurgence in protests in the Chinese ruled territory against newly proposed national security legislation from Beijing.

Welcoming refugees is good.

But perhaps a counterattack by Taiwan and the people of Hong Kong is in order. Taiwan should set up a League of Democracies institute to promote rule of law democracy, with some of those Hong Kong refugees, and welcome participants from around the world. Maybe those 200 statement-signers would be a good list to invite in the first round.

If China fears "treason, secession, sedition and subversion" against the horrible CCP regime, give the bloody autocrats in Peking something to fear.

Various tips to Instapundit.

UPDATE: This could get ugly:

Not since the eve of the 1989 Tiananmen slaughter have we seen China’s communist regime more clearly girding to demolish a vibrant democracy movement. Thirty-one years ago, China’s Communist Party shut down democracy protesters in Beijing by shooting them in the streets. This time the CCP’s target is the former British colony of Hong Kong, where protesters turned out in huge numbers last year to defend the rights and freedoms that China promised them for at least 50 years after the 1997 British handover. Now, while the world grapples with the China-spawned coronavirus pandemic, China is preparing a national security law that would override Hong Kong’s semi-autonomous system. Under this law, as previewed by China’s authorities, Beijing could criminalize any activity in Hong Kong it deems a threat, and send mainland security operatives into Hong Kong as enforcers. Hong Kongers have richly demonstrated that they are a freedom-loving people, unlikely to bow down en masse and obey. The stage is set for a nightmare showdown.

Communists are murderous bastards. Expect the worst.

UPDATE: On Wednesday, Secretary of State Pompeo declared that Hong Kong is "no longer autonomous from China[.]"

Consequences will flow from that declaration. Let's see if our House of Representatives stands with China on this issue.

Monday, May 25, 2020

The CCP Will Destroy the Last Free People in China

China under Chinese Communist Party rule is a bad place with a spark of decency left because it is not fully under CCP rule.

Let's remember that China has concentration camps for Moslems and is ethnically cleansing Xinjiang and Tibet.

China is setting debt traps for poor countries.

China has set up a dystopian surveillance state for all Chinese.

China supports their little nuclear pit bull North Korea to threaten South Korea, Japan, and America.

China claims international waters in the South China Sea and claims territory from neighbors, from India to Taiwan to Russia.

China conducts massive espionage and propaganda on a global scale.

China inflicted a pandemic on the entire world by lying to the world about the outbreak, attempting to deflect blame to the United States.

China is building an economy and a military that could challenge American dominance, which has built and protected the unprecedented global prosperity, expanded liberty, and great power peace that we've enjoyed since World War II (and expanded after the Cold War).

And China is subverting Hong Kong by abandoning their promise to respect Hong Kong's system (and freedom) for fifty years.

Hong Kong is the only place in China still free enough to remember the thousands of Chinese that the Chinese Communist Party murdered in 1989:

Hong Kong people, unable to hold a mass vigil due to coronavirus curbs, should light candles instead to commemorate pro-democracy protesters killed in and around Beijing's Tiananmen Square 31 years ago, an organiser said on Wednesday.

This year's June 4 anniversary is likely to be particularly poignant, following months of sometimes violent anti-government and anti-China unrest in the Chinese-ruled city.
 
If the CCP promises never again to send troops to kill its subjects, check the fine print.

In Memory of the Troops Who Died to Protect Us

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Weekend Data Dump

I swear we're a week away from Democrats saying that we can only end lockdown when Greta Thunberg confirms that global warming is defeated.

The UN-recognized Libyan government captured the al-Waitya airbase southwest of Tripoli from Hiftar's LNA. The base had been key for Hiftar' slow offensive. But Hiftar screwed up. He gave his enemy time. And Turkey used the time to intervene to stop Hiftar.

This is another take on my worry that we so far can't compare one country's experience with and response to the Xi Jinping Flu: "One reason for the higher American and European numbers per million is a better health care system that can identify and count more of the infected and dead. Not all nations are able, or willing, to get accurate numbers. Many nations don’t really notice the deaths covid19 causes because the death rate for covid19 is not much worse than a very bad annual influenza epidemic. Moreover [covid19] is most lethal to those who already have serious medical problems. There are fewer of those in many poor nations that have not got the medical infrastructure to keep the seriously ill alive."

China will continue to erode democracy and rule of law in Hong Kong. For people who allegedly have an amazing long-range planning ability (hah!) the Chinese of the CCP sure are in a hurry to control Hong Kong completely prior to the 50 years of freedom that Hong Kong in theory was granted more than two decades ago. The U.S. spoke out for Hong Kong's pro-democracy protesters. Hong Kongers out protesting the new CCP effort to crush their remnants of freedom faced tear gas fired by Chinese security forces.

Iran's chief nutballs says America will be ejected from Syria and Iraq. Well, if the Iranians didn't fight our efforts to roll back their influence it wouldn't be a war would it? And even when America leaves Syria at some point (assuming Assad is still in charge), Israel isn't going anywhere.

I see that the ayatollah Khamenei is still out there:

Is he auditioning for a Carnac the Magnificent reboot?

Ssss, boom, bah, indeed.

The X-37B is in space again. Is it just me or does this craft get more media attention as time goes on? Scale it up and it can house a boarding party. Which I've wanted even before I came up with the cool name SMOD for the Space Force marines. I like the second breakout of the SMOD acronym. Although I still think STAR is pretty good.

I don't know what kind of mental gymnastics you have to contort your arguments into to reach this conclusion, but safe havens that allow you to plan, train, rest, access the world, gather supplies, and otherwise live without having to expend all your efforts trying to survive in a hostile environment are too valuable to simply dismiss as irrelevant to enabling terrorism.

If Russia is provoked by ex-vassal states wanting to join NATO to prevent them from being future vassal states of Russia, the problem is Russia and not NATO expansion. The ability to excuse any Russian expansionist aims with the justification of Russian paranoia is amazing. Elements of the right are now in the business of making excuses for Russia while Democrats are all General Ripper on the Russians (for the moment). The Xi Jinping Flu pandemic is the thing that makes the most sense these days.

Go figure. The media has forfeited a lot of the trust they once had to sway people in the direction the media wants.

No! Way!

Wait. One nationalized delivery service isn't enough? Hard pass. Tip to Instapundit.

I am open to the possibility that nationwide shutdowns adopted globally in the wake of the Xi Jinping Flu pandemic were a mistake. Not that I blame politicians for starting down that path given the lack of information we had and the horrible models that scared the heck out of politicians. But county- and city-based lockdowns where there were spikes in cases would probably have been better, combined with voluntary self-isolation outside of the lockdowns for those with flu symptoms. But again, this is all outside my lanes. Then again, a nationwide policy of lockdowns may have been a good idea for a month tops, but too many people got carried away with staying locked down until all danger passed. After action views should be plentiful. Hopefully 20/20 hindsight is not used to condemn too harshly. This was outside of everybody's lane, really. Even the ones who thought it was their lane.

Will the post-Xi Jinping geography reduce political polarization? "[The people moving out of dense cities] will likely support those who support their aspirations rather than indulge a never-ending environment of ceaseless, and often pointless, political warfare." How cute to actually believe that!

An actual whistleblower. Bringing Chicago politics to the White House was very harmful.  There better be prison terms and lost pensions resulting from this banana republic behavior. Nicely creased pants don't make it okay. Tip to Instapundit. Funny that our media doesn't celebrate this whistleblower, eh?

I think states had a moral and ethical duty to have responsible fiscal policies that could endure a major setback without disaster.

Just go away Hillary.

Yes, Jake, the Russia-Trump collusion theory was a hoax. And no, saying that does not deny that Russia interfered in our 2016 election. The Russians are liars. As they were when they were still the USSR. And you'd think that there would be some recognition that the whole Resistance thing vastly amplified Russia's small and sadly goofy effort that likely had no effect. Is Tapper that bad at his "journalism" job or is he a partisan hack? I know, the healing power of "and."

Democrats claim to love plans. The Obama "plan" for a pandemic being cited by Democrats and their media allies to attack Trump is not even close to being a plan. Once again, avert your eyes, puny mortals!

Media logic: To reopen a state economy you need to expand testing. Expanded testing will show more infections regardless of whether there are more infections. More identified infections means reopening was a horrible mistake. The media is failing at their basic job in this pandemic.

Reporters who celebrate the legacy of Watergate reporting think that they have no obligation to examine Obamagate until the Trump administration provides the evidence. Journalists don't have that attitude. Democratic operatives have that attitude. Face it, the scandal of domestic spying by the Obama administration is real, and it's spectacular. Or so it appears. I can certainly be persuaded that the smoke doesn't indicate fire because dots are being connected without true relationships. Lord, I want to believe that the Obama administration wasn't capable of this. But if true, when presented with the evidence the journalists will be all "Old news! Move on!" Truly, the dog that did not bark in the night is most unusual--or should be.

Just a reminder that we wouldn't tolerate Aryan Institutes or Putin Institutes, but China runs Confucius Institute propaganda and espionage centers all across America.

One of the X-37B experiments is to test collecting solar power in space and beaming it to a surface collector. In  a high school class we had to write a post-Apocalypse story. Mine was a recovered society that used such capabilities for power, to export to other people around the world, and as a weapon if the beam was tightened. The article says weaponizing it really isn't feasible. The article also says that this is the first experiment for this since the 19th century. I assume they meant 20th century. Also, it isn't my imagination. The Air Force is talking more about this mission. And Space Force is handling the launch even though the craft is Air Force. Perhaps after this experiment the Space Force will take over?

Huh, the head of WHO has a history of covering up three cholera epidemics in his home country Ethiopia. No wonder China backed him for the WHO job.

Israel continues to pound Iranian assets in Syria to prevent Iran from moving weapons to Lebanon for Hezbollah to attack Israel. Iran is building up a protected depot in eastern Syria on the border of Iraq. Everybody involved in Syria wants Iran out. I assume Assad wants Iran out, too. I wonder if the eastern depot will be smashed by Israel when the facility is finished or whether Iraqi forces will cross the border and capture the facility for intelligence and then blow it up on the ground?

The allegation is that Putin bungled the Xi Jinping Flu, but the infection rate is slowing now. Although Dagestan is apparently in rather bad shape. I still don't know how we can compare one country to another with such varied testing and reporting practices. At some point when comparisons are made, researchers will need to establish uniform definitions; and coding all that will require armies of grad students, I imagine.

Trump said he is taking Hydroxychloroquine to reduce the risk of getting the Xi Jinping Flu. Democrats in and out of the media are horrified. I have no opinion on the drug (out of my lanes, as I've often said). But if Democrats truly thought the drug was harmful rather than helpful I suspect they'd have been insisting for the last two months that Trump take it. And on cue:


I suspect that if China invades Taiwan that America will intervene even if it is too late to stop China from getting ashore. An authoritarian Taiwan would not be able to convince Americans for strategic reasons to save them. But a free and democratic Taiwan will move the public--especially post-Xi Jinping Flu--to support saving them from a CCP-run China that is a horror we haven't seen since Nazi Germany. That's my opinion, of course. But honor is a powerful motivator.

I actually did LOL:
 

It seems like only yesterday that Democrats and the media were saying that conservatives should be focused on the Xi Jinping Flu rather than "obsessing" with the now-Democratic Russia collusion scandal. Yet today I find out that Pelosi's House is working on another impeachment. You won't hear the media or other Democrats insisting Pelosi focus on the pandemic instead. Because they didn't the first time. Try to imagine Trump ordering stricter measures to fight the pandemic back then without Democrats bleating that he was trying to distract us from the VERY SOLEMN impeachment trial proceedings.

Governor Cuomo complained that America isn't supporting New York City through the Xi Jinping Flu the way it did after 9/11. I think that is incorrect. America is helping. And rightly so, although I don't want to pay for pre-pandemic fiscal problems. But New York billed people who went to NYC to help by taxing their wages. For the 9/11 analogy to really fit, the 9/11 attackers would have had to land and refuel in NYC before flying off to attack other parts of the country, too. A media that wasn't carrying water for Democrats would find New York's state and NYC responses horrifying. Look, I managed to be happy for California that their far-left leadership seems to have contained the threat well contrary to my expectations (although lockdown seems to be lasting too long now). But then again, I can change my mind because I wasn't trained in a leftist "journalism" school.

If it misleads it leads.


If this keeps up, MoveOn will go back to its original purpose instead of being just one more Democratic advocacy group.

De Blasio threatens to fence off beaches. Wait. What? Walls work?

The Resistance really has no sense of humor.

I swear, the only thing the left can laugh at in this era is some comedian saying "Deplorables are stupid." Their "comedy" is all ideology maintenance now.

I believe I mentioned that military members might not want to separate from service to go into our civilian economy right now.

Before Michigan schools were closed in mid-March I started to prepare for a lockdown by slowly building up supplies. One thing I ordered after not seeing any in stores was a thermometer. My existing one was old and if it died I wanted a spare. I still haven't gotten it and finally complained. The company quickly responded and offered to send another. The staff warned me that it would take a while because it is coming from China. Notwithstanding that I wrote an article about using the Army against China in war and another on adapting amphibious operations under China's A2/AD threat, I decided to assume that the Chinese people are a victim of their CCP government. So I thanked the staff member and gave them the ubiquitous "stay safe" sign off. A little bit of soft diplomacy, eh? And my old thermometer is still working. And I still haven't needed to buy toilet paper--despite not even imagining the need to stock up on that!

Governor Cuomo has asked major league sports to reopen without fans. But in a twist he has decided to send recovering pandemic patients into the stadiums and arenas.

Last week I noted the extremely troubling Obama interference with the incoming Trump administration in contrast to the departing Clinton administration's removal of "W" keys in White House keyboards when Bush 43 won: "If only Obama staffers had confined themselves to removing "D" keys. Hell, they could have gone after the "T" keys, too, and I'd have just chuckled. Instead I want them locked up." It seems like another world then, when that post-2000 incident seemed like a real break with tradition and decorum. Really, what the Obama administration did is no less than trampling on the American tradition of peaceful transfer of power. Russia's amateurish and minuscule election interference in 2016 sought to damage our democracy. The Obama administration and its evil spawn the Resistance are what have seriously damaged our democracy. "Useful idiots" doesn't begin to describe their damaging role. Seriously, if Trump refuses to accept the results of the 2020 election (he won't), what would he do differently than what the Democrats have done since 2016?

Australia should be glad to have gotten this lesson of what life in a region dominated by China will look like all the time. Tip to Instapundit.

We keep learning more about the Xi Jinping Flu. Like how contagious it isn't via surfaces.

I was not enough of an adult to refrain from clicking on the naked college cheerleader scandal link.  Sorry. SFW, FYI. I'd forgotten that competitive cheerleading is a thing. Clothed, of course.

Ethiopia will not delay filling their Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam at the pace Ethiopia wants, regardless of Egypt's and Sudan's concerns about getting enough water downstream of the dam on the Nile River.

Michigan is starting to tentatively open up, beginning with northwest Michigan and the Upper Peninsula. My country is part of the southeast Michigan region hardest hit, so I assume our opening up is last on the list. Which sucks given that we haven't been hit that badly compared to Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties. On the other hand, if Ann Arbor was excluded from southeast Michigan, when we opened up a lot of people from the Detroit area would be rolling into Ann Arbor via the freeways for our open bars and restaurants, which might not be good for us right now. Regardless, the general lockdown is extended to June 12th. I expected a few weeks. That will put us close to three months. What price are we paying for an uncertain gain?

They've got to be effing kidding me.
Nathan Fillion - Reaction - Castle Gif
Tip to Instapundit.

I've never watched the Tiger King series. I almost watched because for a long time when I saw it on Netflix, I thought it was a Michael Palin spoof. Seriously, the Netflix picture really looks like Palin, doesn't it? Once my impression was dispelled, my interest dropped off the chart.

The technology arms race.

Even if he deserves it, Obama will not be prosecuted for "Obamagate." It would tear the country apart. His guilt may be demonstrated--we'll see--but if it is, he'll be pardoned. Then the parties are even (Nixon). But perhaps Obama isn't guilty given that it is possible that the initial concern about Trump was not out of bounds. As I've said, I can see that. What is absolutely wrong was the over-enthusiastic pursuit after Obama departed of the collusion narrative long after the evidence for it fell apart. Unconnected dots were connected to create a fantasy picture. But people will be punished because what they did was wrong and dangerous for our democracy. I'm starting to wonder if James Comey will be the fall guy at the top of the prison pyramid. After all, even the left can hate him for his actions regarding Hillary. He might not be the highest ranking guilty person, but he might be the highest ranking prosecuted person.

Another fake whistle-blower martyr. Journalists aren't very good at providing news; but they are good at being Democratic Party operatives. So mission accomplished, I guess. Tip to Instapundit.

I'm not saying we shouldn't try to improve our image in Europe, but if Germans think China is better than America in whatever way polls ask, that's Germany's problem. That's nuts. How can German opinion move toward a horrible China at the expense of an allied and democratic America? I don't buy that Germans want American leadership on the Xi Jinping Flu pandemic. If Trump was telling Germans and Europeans what to do, raise your hands if you think Germans would be saluting and executing. Anyone?

Anyone? And yes, German opinions of America shot up when Obama was president. But what exactly did that provide America? Help in the Middle East? Rearmament to contain Russia? Cheap schnitzel imports? Their good will and a buck got us a small coffee. So address the issue but don't obsess. There was a lot of BS in that article.

North and South Clusterf*ck. I just don't follow this war that closely because chaos and war seems to be a constant.

Once again, lockdown was for the purpose of bending the (Xi Jinping Flu infection) curve to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed--not to cure the pandemic. And extending the lockdown isn't going to help hospitals (and will hurt them by depriving them of revenue) or cure the pandemic. Yes it will get worse once we open up. That was always the assumption. But do we know it will be worse than the effects of indefinite lockdown? Especially given how model  predictions of doom have vanished into thin air? The pandemic is bad. And it justified action, in my mind. Including a 2-week lockdown--okay, give it 4--but for most parts of the country, this lockdown is starting to look like a murder-suicide pact.

I have to admit, when I first heard that Susan Rice "by the book" comment I thought of Captain Kirk.

Brexit: keep calm and carry on--on time. I don't assume Brexit wins until Britain is out of the European Union. Remainers colluding with the EU will do just about anything to reverse the 2015  referendum.

If Democrats did buy this unicorn in a vain hope to finally get something on Trump, my bet is they keep quiet about this embarrassing face plant and float rumors that Trump bought the unicorn to keep it hidden. Lemons and lemonade, as the expression goes.

Well, Californians can be as generous as they want, I guess. That's how federalism works. As long as Californians pay for it and don't expect the federal government to bail them out.

If this holds up it is good news on the Covi19 front. Tip to Instapundit.

That kind of ambiguity of roles makes it hard to have a nuclear arms control agreement with China.

I was advised that this sort of thing was ruled out by the infusion of Hope and Change. Via Instapundit.

The busy world of special operations command. Great power competition compels a revival of skills for fighting great powers, even as missions remain from the War on Terror as it becomes the Global Troubles.

Hahaha (those are tears of laughter, I swear!):


Hmmm. We're at the "coincidence" level of the "bad luck--coincidence--enemy action" framework of evaluating bad things with the second stealth fighter loss this week at Eglin.

I know I mentioned this before, but the bright side is that the moron was a MSU professor and not a Michigan professor. I honestly would have bet on the latter. Whew. And notice that she just assumed that a wedding picture would be of two heterosexuals. Hater. That God it is still legal for me to micro-care about such nonsense.

The Michigan dam that failed was a known problem back in 1999 and a couple years ago there was federal action to compel remedial measures. Thank God for government regulation. Also, the operator wanted to lower the water level but the state wanted to protect mussels. Nice priority.

The Air Force demonstrated that it could reinforce Japan despite the Xi Jinping Flu pandemic.

The uncertainty about Kim Jong Un's health status was not eliminated by those photo ops earlier in the month.  Also, accurate data about the Xi Jinping Flu has disappeared. Lord knows what the true pandemic situation is in either North Korea or China.In other news, the fire from North Korea in that DMZ incident was an accident caused by inexperienced troops. I would have thought that only trusted and trained troops would be on the DMZ. Also, South Korea had a problem when a remotely controlled HMG could not be fired in response.

The U-2's retirement continues to be put off. The ones we have in service now were built in the 1980s.

If Democrats replace Biden at their convention wouldn't they doing what they feverishly claim Trump might do after November--disregarding the wish of voters? Isn't that a bad look? Of course, that assumes the media wouldn't support the Democrats in urging people to move along because there's nothing to see.

Nearly as many Germans want a close relationship with China as they do with America. I don't believe that they really believe that. But if we are to believe the Germans that they really are barely restrained Nazis, how far are we from a Treaty of Non-Aggression between Germany and the People's Republic of China? But China has a lot of obstacles in its path before it could supplant America, and the author mentions a factor I wrote about here.

When looking for options for virtual game nights I downloaded Messenger without realizing it is a Facebook product. So I got to cancel a Facebook account for a second time.

Obama doesn't want to attend an unveiling of his official portrait at the White House while Trump is in office and the media spins this as Trump shunning Obama. It's so odd that the media is so mistrusted by conservatives.

Is Russia lying about their Xi Jinping Flu casualty numbers? Why shouldn't their firehose of falsehood spray that way, too?

I noticed there was an opinion piece in the local paper urging Republicans to put country over party and vote for Biden. I refrained from reading it lest I find I know the moron. I assure you, I always put country first and that is why I'll vote for Trump.

But our media says China's dictatorial methods ended the Xi Jinping Flu epidemic there! "China’s Communist Party is again seizing factory lines churning out the world’s supply of medical safety gear — sparking fears the country is preparing for a second wave of the coronavirus, American traders in China told The Post." Something is going on in northeast China.

Getting to the FREMM FFG(X). What to do with the LCS that are retired early? How about APD testing for amphibious warfare (membership required)? As an aside, FFG(X)'s a damn big "frigate." I think of it more as Burke Lite.

Americans are more risk averse now than in the past. I noted this before. Or maybe our government and media are just more risk averse, I suppose. What if they had reacted more confidently in the face of the Xi Jinping Flu?

I suspect Biden's lead in polling is fleeting and will only serve to reduce the pressure to replace Biden as the candidate. But what do I know? I didn't believe the polls in 2012 and believed them in 2016.

China has a frowny face: "The U.S government has notified Congress of a possible sale of advanced torpedoes to Taiwan worth around $180 million, further souring already tense ties between Washington and Beijing, which claims Taiwan as Chinese territory." America should tell China that we are simply selling Taiwan our best Personal Protection Equipment (PPE).

#BelieveAllConfederates?

Wait. What? Who's killing grandmas?  I don't want to hear another damn word about how Trump could kill a man in the middle of 5th Avenue and his supporters wouldn't care. (D) after your name is the true shield. Journalism schools are clearly just Democratic Party Finishing Schools.

Well, it's early. With practice you won't even see the lips of Biden's handlers move at all!

Russia's foreign adventures puzzle me. Russia can ill afford their foreign adventures all over the globe as if Russia is a superpower. What on Earth does Putin think Russia will gain by interfering in Libya on the LNA's side? (But the author's idea that we should thwart Putin by supporting the jihadi-friendly recognized GNA government is nonsense.) And Lord, given Russia's finances that barely allow them to interfere in Libya, can Russia really afford to win in Libya? Putin would be like the dog that caught the car. What now? Still, the whole mess is an interesting postscript on the left's Libya War theory that if only America would knock out the dictator and then refuse to get involved, the locals would quickly sort out their differences without our "awful" presence.

Will Hong Kong's fight for freedom eventually be the source of the Chinese Communist Party's defeat? It seems too good to be true. But I noted that the freedom "virus" might be lethal to the CCP in October 2019, funny enough in light of the subsequent Xi Jinping Flu pandemic.

A small torpedo for Navy attack and active anti-torpedo defense. Everybody else is getting smaller weapons that, because of accuracy, can still destroy targets. Does that apply to naval warfare where size still matters when attacking--especially with double-hulled submarines? It seems like CRAW is a good defensive option (if it works) and perhaps for offense when the standard larger torpedoes are overkill. It could be put on surface warships as well--although that seems to have run into a problem--like a RAM/Phalanx point defense weapon against missile attack.

If Erdogan has prompted an anti-Western admiral to resign, I doubt that this is more than a false signal of rejoining the West--because Sultan Erdogan is the architect of Turkey's swing to autocracy and the Middle East. And Turkey finds that its hope to find allies in Russia and Iran isn't working out like Erdogan hoped. Oh well. I'd wait until Erdogan is rejected by Turks before restoring Turkey to NATO's good graces.

Another ex-treaty with Putin's lying, cheating Russia. Russia cheats, so maintaining the "sanctity" of the Open Skies Treaty is just a gift to Putin.

It sounds bad that Biden told an African-American man questioning Biden's policies “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t Black." But watching it, the conversation was friendly and you need that context to appreciate the nature of the comment on that person-to-person level. That said, its nice to see Biden experience the out-of-context treatment usually reserved for Trump. And I will also say that the attitude of that quote among Democrats is all too real. And perhaps that is--or should be--the real outrage. Biden wasn't being insulting to a man. He committed a faux pas by telling the truth about how Democrats view all African Americans. Perhaps African Americans--and other minorities--need a Societal Emancipation Proclamation to grant them freedom of political association.

Hmmm, the Xi Jinping Flu virus was "manipulated in a Chinese laboratory"? Early on experts said it had no signs of being created in a lab. But scientists have told us a lot of things that haven't proven to be true. Still, "manipulated" may be a term of art that makes that claim pretty banal and not an explosive revelation. Outside of my lanes, as I've admitted. Tip to Instapundit.

Baby steps, I suppose. Next they'll admit that Kim's VCR clock is still flashing.

Oh good, jihadi terrorism in Texas at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi. On the bright side, the jihadi scum ball is dead. And the left will have to condemn the man rather than make excuses for his Islamist murderous rage--because he violated lockdown to carry out his attack. That is unforgivable.

Britain seems like--but I assume nothing until the end of the year--it will gain its freedom from the proto-imperial European Union. Now the British people just need to gain their freedom from their own government which may have internalize a lot of dangerous ideas about what state power can be.

Apparently the problem I noted of the F-35 suffering damage at supersonic speeds isn't anywhere near as bad as the initial reports I read made it out to be--and were under very atypical conditions. So that's a relief. The limits will extend time between maintenance and would be lifted in combat with no short-term problem.

The thin green line in Alaska.

Yes, it is very odd that Biden beat Bernie by rallying the non-socialist elements of the Democratic Party, only to allow his candidacy to be the Vanguard of the Bernietariat. It takes a Democrat to surrender after winning, I guess.

Egypt continues to kill jihadis in the Sinai Peninsula. The continuing appeal of jihad is disheartening.

American forces and our Kurdish allies in Syria killed a couple ISIL leaders.  There were plenty of people arguing that America abandoned the Syrian Kurds--not me, of course--and here we see our forces still working against a common enemy.

This guy is clueless. Contrary to his assertions, America is exercising leadership all around the world; Afghanistan and not Iraq a year and a half after 9/11 was the central focus of our response to 9/11; calling Bush 43 a "neocon" grossly misunderstands the term which simply means former leftists who became conservative to resist the USSR; China has a long way to go to surpass American hard power; and we actually won the Iraq War by turning a terror-supporting threat to the region into a terrorist-killing ally. And then I lost the will to keep reading. Hopefully Australians don't look to that guy for strategic advice.

Democrats keep using that word "science." I don't think that means what they think it means. We didn't know it at the time based on what we thought we knew, but I think (but I admit I could be wrong--not my lane as I've said repeatedly) we overreacted to the Xi Jinping Flu. We can't go back in time, of course. So I don't blame leaders for beginning the extreme lockdowns. But we can act now on correcting that mistake, no? Tips to Instapundit.

Constituent services at work in the Pelosi-controlled House of Representatives.

Hiftar vows to keep fighting the recognized national government backed by Turkey.

I have to say I didn't see this one coming. Tip to Instapundit.

Yeah, American soldiers didn't die on the D-Day beaches to destroy a regime of people who disagreed with your plans to create city bike path networks. That type of cheap (and wrong) insult cheapens what they died for in World War II. When everyone you don't like is a Nazi, nobody is. And worse, we ignore that Nazis and Fascists were actually just a version of socialists. Dishonest morons have set the definitions of our debates. Tip to Instapundit.

On my patio with warm weather finally, drinking coffee while birds have breakfast:
Normally this would be a day to walk downtown for a beer or two and lunch. Damn the CCP to Hell.

The 2009 Battle of Kamdesh, Afghanistan, is worthy of a movie which is coming out next month. But more than 17 years after the battle, we still don't have a movie about the Iraq War Battle for Larry, Curly, and Moe during the Baghdad Thunder Run.

It's a short journey from hating America to colluding with our enemies. Tip to Instapundit.