Tuesday, August 14, 2018

This is (One Big Reason) Why We Can't Have Nice Things

Well, it's official.
The president* (as Pierce likes to call him, complete with the Maris Asterisk) signed the "John S. McCain, Jr. National Defense Authorization Act". Unsurprisingly, this monster is loaded with goodies for the armed forces, completely in keeping with the GOP-standard line about how We the People are headed for another Pearl Harbor because we just don't have enough things that can kill people and blow shit up.
(Oh, and apparently there's some pretty appalling idiocy in there handing out pork to GOP pals)
Some of this largesse seems to have some utility - apparently the USN really does have some issues with operational numbers - but the whole thing is just another uptick in the ridiculous "let's-throw-money-at-guns" Washington Rules idiocy that is unquestioned in D.C. and in the public press.

Nobody outside the usual dirty hippies of the Left is asking why the hell, in a remarkably Great-Power-untroubled world, We the People need all this stuff.

And, of course, nobody - no legislators, no cable talking news heads, no cabinet officers, certainly not the man in the Oval Office - is questioning or, perhaps, even wondering, why so much of this stuff will end up chasing raggedy-assed villagers around the mountains of Central Asia or the Horn of Africa or the islets of the Philippine archipelago in an endless pursuit of ideology and resentment grown of the death and destruction caused by last year's blowing-shit-up money.

Somehow poor people getting medical care, or building new highways and bridges, or replacing antiquated power plants with new technologies, are just "not affordable". But all this deadly bling? Hell, yeah! Let's throw MORE money at it!

All this would be a hell of a nonsensical way to spend the public coin even if we weren't in the process of handing our wealthiest citizens a massive tax break. But now?

And, yet, what seems to be the biggest single source of public outrage about this bloated monstrosity of a "defense" spending bill is that somehow the guy with the pen failed to tongue-bath the guy that the monstrosity was named for.


Update 8/15: And to remind us again that presidential "signing statements" are one of the most pernicious anti-republican bits of claptrap floating around the Swamp, Comrade President sneaks in a bit of backhander to his pal Pootie:
Included in the bill is "...a ban on spending military funds on “any activity that recognizes the sovereignty of the Russian Federation over Crimea,” the Ukrainian region annexed by Moscow in 2014 in an incursion considered illegal by the United States. He said he would treat the provision and similar ones as “consistent with the president’s exclusive constitutional authorities as commander in chief and as the sole representative of the nation in foreign affairs.”
"Faithfully execute the laws"? Of course not. That's for the Little People.

And Congress, paper-trained by years of deference to Executive power, and cowardice in exercising their duties as the representatives of We the People, will do nothing but cringe, assuming they even bother to react to this.

This isn't even a Left or Right issue. The Chief Executive's job is to execute; execute the laws as written. If he's got a problem with that he needs to get his party to change the laws in Congress, or rely on the judiciary to strike them down. That We the People accept these nonsensical pronouncements is another symptom of the deep rot that has set into our putative Republic.

But, mind you, engaged and intelligent citizens of a vital republic wouldn't have voted in the millions for a tangerine-hued real-estate grifter that lies like a cow shits - endlessly and everywhere. Or for a party the promises to hurt the vast majority of them. A subtle reminder; if your "No. 1 motivating factor is Second Amendment issues" you are a goddamn moron who should not be trusted with the franchise, let alone a firearm.

But this is your republic, America. This is why We can't have nice things.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Space Marines!

From the WP - emphasis mine - :
"After the announcement, President Trump tweeted, “Space Force all the way!” For months, Trump has been calling a Space Force, a new, free-standing military department, with its own chain of command and uniforms. The White House intends to work with lawmakers in submitting legislation by early next year, a senior Administration official said, with the hopes of standing up the department as early as 2020."
Be still, my heart...
Before you laugh too hard, remember that the last time we had a Republican in the White House nearly as unhinged and probably less criminal that the current occupant we got these:
So I can't wait to see how my tax dollars will be well-spent!

And speaking of tax dollars, Charlie Pierce has a nice little piece that draws a pretty bright line between what the American Right and American Left have on offer.

Speaking for the Right, Laura Ingraham reminds us how scary foreign dark people are;
"In some parts of the country, it does seem like the America that we know and love doesn’t exist anymore. Massive demographic changes have been foisted on the American people, and they are changes that none of us ever voted for, and most of us don’t like."
This is, let us remember, about an "immigrant crisis" that is not a crisis because it does not exist.

And, as Pierce notes, it probably sounded better in the original Algonquin.

From the Left...well, I'll let Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez speak for herself as a final comment on the relative value of "Spaaaaace Foooooorce!!!!!";
“We write unlimited blank checks for war. We just wrote a $2 trillion check for that GOP tax cut and nobody asked those folks how they are going to pay for it...Why is it that our pockets are only empty when it comes to education and health care for our kids? Why are our pockets only empty when we talk about 100 percent renewable energy that is going to save this planet and allow our children to thrive?...We only have empty pockets when it comes to the morally right things to do. When it comes to tax cuts for billionaires and when it comes to unlimited war, we seem to be able to invent that money very easily."
As we should always recall when the number of people who subscribe to InfoWars is mentioned, We the People includes some very great fools.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

From the Department of Not Learning From Your Mistakes...

...comes the news that the cunning plan behind the U.S. government's re-imposition of economic sanctions on Iran is the notion of "regime change".

This would be fatheaded in any case, given the history of U.S. farkling about in Iran and the predictably resulting blowback.

But after the spectacular own-goal that was regime change in Iraq it would take a complete moron, or John Bolton (but I repeat myself...), to presume that whatever might succeed the mullahs in Tehran because of U.S. political and military pressure will be anything but a complete foreign policy disaster for American interests in the Middle East and a nightmare for the region that has seen too many of them.

The Trumpkins are here emulating the epigrammatic Bourbons, who supposedly "learned nothing and forgot nothing". One can only assume from this that "making America great again" is functionally indistinguishable from the effect of being repeatedly dropped in your head while a child.

Monday, August 6, 2018


Saudi Arabia has kicked out the Canadian Ambassador to  the Kingdom.   Recalled their ambassador in Ottawa.  And has frozen trade with  Canada.   Will that, I wonder, put an end to the $15-Billion deal with General Dynamics to buy 900 LAV 700s, an export model of the LAV 6.0 fighting vehicle.   But maybe not, the crown prince needs them to eliminate more Yemeni women and children.

All because Canada scolded the Saudis for arresting more ladies who want to drive.

But worse was the statement "Any further step from the Canadian side in that direction will be considered as acknowledgment of our right to interfere in the Canadian domestic affairs,..."

And worst of all was this widely distributed twitter image:

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Tank Biathlon

Having just finished up the Elbrus Ring military mountaineering competition, the focus of Russia’s international military olympics is now on the tank biathlon.  It stresses live fire over rough terrain giving marks for speed and accurate, rapid fire.  “Participating tanks drive a three-lap route of 6–10 km.  During the first lap, crews fire (the main gun) at targets positioned 1,800, 1,700 and 1,500 m distant.  In the second lap, different targets imitating an anti-tank squad and an infantry unit are fired upon.  These targets are at a distance of 600–700 m, and must be engaged with 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun.  In the third lap the tank crews target an anti-tank gun and ATGM unit by use of the turret-mounted heavy machine gun at a distance of 1,200 m.  One or more misses leads to an extra penalty lap of 500 m.  On the final lap tanks have to go through various terrain obstacles; an obstacle missed or improperly traversed adds 10 seconds to the final timing.”
It is held at the Alabino Proving Grounds just southwest of Moscow.  23 countries are reported to be sending tanks and crew to compete this year (five years ago when this event started only four competed).  The US Army and NATO have been invited in the past but have not accepted.

Iran is sending an entry again this year.  Two years ago Iran took last, 12th place out of 12 contestants.  Last year they did better placing seventh.  

Russia has taken the gold medal every year.  That is fitting for the home team, they undoubtedly get to practice on that particular course for months beforehand. Plus they have the latest and greatest gear, for which the biathlon provides a perfect marketing opportunity.   Overseas sales are a big part of these games.

The Strong Europe Tank Challenge hosted by the German Heer and USAREUR just held at Grafenwoehr is somewhat similar.  But at two years junior it seems to have been started in reaction to the one in Russia.  And it is smaller, only eight countries participating vice the 23 at Alabino.  This year there were six NATO countries plus Sweden and the Ukraine in the competition.  Germany won twice, Austria once – Leopards seem to dominate the competition.  And long in the past the Canadian Army used to host a NATO-wide tank competition but that hasn’t been done for two or three decades to my knowledge.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Blockades Work Both Ways

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is now backing up President Rouhani’s statement that Iran will block all Gulf oil exports if Trump blocks Iranian exports.

Can they do it?   Perhaps partially?   If so, how?

But why would they?  Trump is not going to stop oil supplies to China and they are Iran’s biggest customer.   And Chinese oil tankers would love the concession to bring oil to India and other Asian customers.  Plus there is no way Trump can stop oil exports to Turkey without bombing pipelines.  Same for natural gas exports to Turkmenistan – and Trump's buddy in Moscow might object to that. 
In fact Trump is only trying to bully European buyers and perhaps South Korea and japan.  But he is giving waivers.  His deadline is November.



Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Montenegrins! They're like wild beasts, I tell you!

Damn those crazy little bastards!
“Membership in NATO obligates the members to defend any other member that’s attacked,” Carlson said to Trump. “So let’s say Montenegro, which joined last year, is attacked. Why should my son go to Montenegro to defend it from attack?” In response, Trump told Carlson that he understood his concerns. “I’ve asked the same question. Montenegro is a tiny country with very strong people,” the president said. “They’re very aggressive people. They may get aggressive, and congratulations you’re in World War III.”
You have your Montenegrins and your Albanians and your Macedonians and your Serbians and they all just can't wait to get aggressive and next thing you know the nukes are a-flyin! The lamps could go out all over Europe at any time. ANY time, I tell you!