Monday, March 31, 2014

A Tale of Missing Obvious Clues About Russia

(Image by Bob Gorrell)
Sometime last week, Russia got booted out of the G-8, forcing this international cabal of the top industrial nations to make pen & ink changes on their office plaques and business cards.

Despite these feeble actions Soviet Russian troops are still occupying the Crimea, while even more military might remains poised along the Ukrainian border. 

Sultan Knish eloquently explains why real, hard power trumps cool, soft power in this Tale of Two Centuries

Meanwhile, In From the Cold gives us a warm-up exercise on what our intel analysts missed--despite detecting the bear bare-chested czar's troop movements.

The on-going Ukrainian Crisis is just one act in the Post American World play.  Once again, Sultan Knish warns the civilized world faces an impending darkness if it fails to get it's collective act together.

An Hour With Mark Steyn

(Mark Steyn celebrating the dismissal of the Canadian lawsuit)
For any of you who've read my ramblings on this blog know that Mark Steyn is my favorite commentator.  Despite his "doom-mongering" I love his glib, tongue-in-cheek style.  Even when he's talking, or writing about bad news, he always manages to get a chuckle out of me.

It's all in the presentation.



As such, he's one of the few commentators I read on my days off, when I want to take a break from the bleak headlines.

 
Last week, Mark's website posted excerpts from his speech at a Conservative Conference in Ottawa.  On Friday, he decided to post the whole kit and caboodle for his fans' enjoyment.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Washington Landslide Update #6: Reported Missing Now Down to 30

As of yesterday, it's been a week since the landslide hit the community near Oso, WA. 

Yet the grim work of recovering remains continues.  This is proving difficult because searchers haven't found very many whole-bodies--only partial remains.

The silver-ish lining in all this is:  Officials reduce the tally of missing to 30.

Tomorrow's Obamacare Deadline Postponed

(Image by Lisa Benson)
Obamacare was never really popular to begin with.  Back in 2010, about 50% of the population was opposed to it--but it still managed to get passed.  Now, only 26% of Americans support the law of the land.

Many Democrats are trying to distance themselves from Obamacare, while Harry Reid is trying to lie about the lie he told about Obamacare horror stories being lies

Meanwhile, it was announced last week that the looming deadline that all Americans have to prove they have healthcare has been postponed--indefinitely, due to "extraordinary circumstances." 

Daniel Mitchell believes the White House is in panic mode and considers Obamacare a mulitfaceted farce

True from a political standpoint, but many, like the now uninsured Ann Coulter, aren't laughing.


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Back to Barbarism for Earth Hour



I've never heard of "Earth Hour" until now, a day late for this year's feeble attempt to save the planet.  Apparently, the silly practice of shutting off the lights for 60 minutes in the evening since 2008

Somehow, I've been living in the dark these past half-a-dozen years.  According to Mark Steyn, I missed the Great Earth Hour in London of 2011.

Ignorance truly is bliss.

The link to Ed Driscoll's article of 2011, illuminates what's wrong with Earth Hour:  It celebrates ignorance, poverty and backwardness

As long as I don't live under a Permanent Earth Hour, I intend to keep my lights on every time I need them.



The Flex Factor Towards Russia

(Image by Michael Ramirez)
Obama's "flexibility" towards Russia--and other adversary nations--is setting the tone for a more dangerous world

In a similar tone, the Diplomad warns of making making moral equivalent arguments about America and Russia

Now Putin is many things, (dictator, thug, etc.), but "VDH" warns Putin is everything but stupid.

(Image by Lisa Benson)

Friday, March 28, 2014

Washington Landslide Update #5: Number Reported Missing Down to 90

It's often very hard to obtain a definitive number of casualties caused by natural disasters, especially when the event is still unfolding and is more often then not a scene of near-total chaos.

This mudslide is proving no different. Early estimates of 176 people missing have been trimmed down to 90.

I've told folks who live outside the Pacific Northwest that this area is prone to landslides, mudslides and avalanches.  The above article compares this disaster with the Stevens Pass Avalanche of 1910.


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Washington Landslide Update #4: Finding Victims

A friend of mine on Facebook asked about how effective the emergency response has been along with the media coverage.

Here's part of my answer:

The biggest problem is the mud is so thick and treacherous that rescue workers can't get very far into the disaster area.  News crews are kept at a distance for their own safety and so they don't get in the way of rescue teams.  So they're left on the outskirts with little to do but speculate--like they've been doing about Flight MH370--and wait for press conferences.

Here's the latest from the Seattle Times:  They are finding people now: Grim mudslide search expands.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Washington Landslide Update #3: The Search Intensifies

The official title of this event is the Highway 530 Mudslide.  FEMA and the WA State National Guard are still looking for survivors.

From the Seattle Times:  Heartbreaking Search Intensifies in Mudslide Zone

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Being Smart is Not Transferable

(Image by Michael Ramirez)
One of the reasons why Our Dear Leader wants little or nothing to do with foreign policy is because he's too busy trumpeting the joys of Obamacare.

The problem is:  America's youth want little or nothing to do with Obamacare.

(Image by Gary Varvel)

Then there's the You Can't Fix Stupid Factor.

And speaking of stupid, many-a-Democrat in Congress who voted for Obamacare, wish they hadn't...

(Image by Michael Ramirez) 


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Putin Advancing to the Winner's Bracket?

(Image by Gary Varvel)

In response to Russia's seizure of Crimea, Our Dear Leader announced sanctions--against 11 oligarchs (7 Russians and 4 Ukrainians) that "undermined Ukrainian sovereignty."

Are you kidding me?

We can't even sanction an even-dozen Ruskie mob bosses?

By the way, here's what The Diplomad had to say about sanctions some time ago and he's proved correct.

It's not like the word "sanction" means the same as it does in the movie The Eiger Sanction.  In fact, the sanctions are so wimpy one of the sanctioned openly mocked Obama's "consequences" on Twitter.

(Image by Nate Beeler)
Now that Putin's moved closer to the Winner's Bracket in this Foreign Affairs March Madness, what's Putin's next move?

For one Ukrainian university professor, Czar Putin's end game is the the complete conquest of the Ukraine, possibly within the next several days.  

Then what?  Will Soviet Russian tanks remain in the Ukraine, especially when there's lots of ethnic Russians in other neighboring countries that are "at risk."  

True, this is all speculation but no one bothered to stop Hitler from taking over all of Czechoslovakia in 1938.  And we all know how that turned out.
But short of war, what can we do if the situation escalates? 

Comrade Karla Senior, wondered why we should bother:

Aside from pondering the logic of how Russia might be guilty of annexation of a territory traditionally Russian, I must confess to significant embarrassment.  I refer to a speech I just listened to by a representative of the U.S. government on the same subject.   What right has the U.S. Government to threaten a foreign government with nasty comments about anything? 

Which another friend responded and led to the following discussion...

The U.S. and Russia (and others) signed an agreement recognizing and guaranteeing the rights of Ukraine's borders as they stood in 1994, in exchange for Ukraine denuclearization.  Russia's invasion is a complete violation of that agreement; a U.S. and European response is both legal and morally correct.  It's as simple as that.
I certainly don't advocate a war over Crimea.  However, we need to nip this sort of activity in the bud by imposing a cost, or we'll end up seeing the ChiComs in Taiwan and the Senkakus, Iran spreading around the Middle East, and Russia encroaching (or worse) into places where we have an actual legal obligation to fight (like Poland, Rumania and the Baltic states).
Obama's policies and lead from behind stupidity did not make Russia invade Ukraine.  It did, however, not prevent it.  It was crystal clear his abject failure in Syria would have repercussions, I just did not dream we'd see them so quickly.

You’ve explained the reason for my chagrin.   I heard Obama’s speech.   For a variety of reasons I don’t advocate war over the Crimea but sometimes I wonder if there is not something he can do, rather than merely issue notes about displeasure, and explain.    Even if we were strong enough, I would not advocate a ‘warlike’ move over the Crimea, not even the threat of war.  There’s too much more to that situation than with the Ukraine.    But if Ukraine’s independence is not to be guaranteed, what use is there in just ‘talking about’ it?    What about an immediate move to establish that ‘nuclear’ shield with Poland – and the three reestablished Baltic states?  
Something concrete.    Maybe it wouldn’t get Russia’s attention, but it would be better than doing nothing, as ‘the West’ did in ’38.   There may well have been no guarantee that the Austrian with the Chaplin mustache would have been intimidated even if Europe had tried to resist back then, but we’ll never know for certain.   Even if it only might have delayed him for a bit.
I just can’t avoid the impression we are living through the beginning of something that has happened before, and with very similar results. 

You mention a couple of really good steps we could take - strong, harsh steps that would get Putin's attention and make his move seem like strategic overreach.  Going back to the missile defense stations in Eastern Europe is a good step.  Other military moves to reinforce our commitment to NATO would be good.  These are things that are defensive in nature (not that Russia would see it that way). Longer term, massive energy expansion in this country and elsewhere will only hurt countries like Russia, Iran and the Saudis and help our friends. 
The bottom line is that we can't continue to posture but not back it up (like we did so terribly in Syria).  This is not 1938 -- Russia too weak, though it should be pointed out that so is NATO (except for the U.S.).  We may not be the world's policeman, but it is incumbent on the U.S. to lead this and get the Germans and others to follow.
Oh, one other thing bugging me.  All the State Dept and leftie weenies talking on the news keep talking about deescalation.  Wow, they picked up one word in Diplomacy 101.  They miss the point that this is not just about deescalation, but about escalation control.  We need to be able to not only lower tension, but RAISE it when there is a reason to do so, which I believe there is right now.  Being constantly in one mindframe is foolish.  Right now, we need to ratchet tensions up to get Putin to reconsider his actions (past and future) and make him realize there will be costs to his aggression.  Unfortunately, as John Bolton said of Kerry's meeting with Lavrov, it was like sending a cupcake to negotiate with a steak knife.

Comrade Karla and a cohort joined in and finished the discussion...

The problem is, bottom line, that this administration has already decided what they won't do-- a fairly idiotic way of conducting foreign policy, but one that has been the hallmark of Obama's worldview from day one.  I feel like we can only watch it unravel.

Agree on the parallels. Your thought that Obama won't lift a finger is sadly true or seems to be.  Russia is not going to execute the Schlieffen Plan any time soon, but they ARE a menace to Easter and Central Europe. We could stop this on a dime if we wanted to. 

Everyone's chalked the Crimea up as lost, so here's a few suggestions.  Of course we probably wouldn't be in this foreign policy mess if Our Dear Leader was tough on real adversaries, instead of political opponents...

(Image by Eric Allie)

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Consolidating Gains in the Crimea



(Image by Jerry Holbert)
 
Today Crimeans went to the polls and cast their lots on whether to remain part of the Ukraine or to join Mother Russia.

Of course, thanks to last month's military military intervention, the Crimea has already been incorporated into Mother Russia. 

Oh and there was this natural gas station--just outside the Crimea border--that also needed to be annexed.

The tepid US/EU response:  Mull over sanctions and John Kerry issued an "ultimatum" to Russia, ordering Putin to reverse course on the Crimea.

With the referendum well under way at this time, we'll see how things pan out come Monday morning.

We might as well write Putin an "...angry letter telling him how angry we are."

The Diplomad rolls-in



(Image by: Gary Varvel)


The Disappearance of Flight MH370



Image by Steve Breen
I usually don't write about airline mishaps, but last week's dissappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 has everyone baffled.  Especially since it deliberately turned around and flew--somewhere--for several hours.

Now the search is focused on the vast expanse of the Indian Ocean

The Malaysian Police are currently focusing their attention on the aircraft's pilots since they're the only individuals we currently know of who're capable of flying the plane, disabling the transponder, etc.

Some consider this the greatest aviation mystery in history.

Whether it is or not, speculation is running rampant among the news agencies.

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Future of War

(Image by Robert Ariaill)

Our Dear Leader is hell-bent on gutting our military.

While this may not be earth-shattering news to anyone who's paid attention, what is alarming is the magnitude of damage being done to our nation's ability to defend itself and its interests abroad.

Despite China's saber-rattling, PACOM's (Pacific Command) commander still believes climate change is our Number "Yi" Threat.  (Or for Cantonese, as opposed to Mandarin Chinese--Number "Jat").

Things are so bad our Secretary of Defense "Cluster Chuck" can't even concoct a coherent strategy for the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR).

The friend who brought this article to our attention made the following observations:

- we have ditched the win-hold-win strategy (itself a replacement for the two simultaneous war paradigm) for a win-wave hands concept. in other words, we think we can deal with one major regional fight, but anything beyond that we will have to rely on "imposing unacceptable costs" for anything beyond that. I interpret that as cruise missiles and maybe some air strikes, not exactly the way to deter a determined adversary.

- There is no real strategy in the supposed strategy document. it reads like a planning and procurement document,as it lays out a lot of "buy this" and "spend on that" sort of programming guidance. Our strategy remains "Asia-Pacific," whatever that really means (the previous article makes that clear - Climate Change!)

- Speaking of AGW, there is a good deal of that sort of language shoe-horned into the document at the direction of the White House. They live in a weird, alternative fantasy world where 1 degree of temperature change is far deadlier than Iranian nukes. John Kerry's statement that climate change is a "weapon of mass destruction" is consistent with White House policy - it was not a flippant or one-off comment.

 - The DoD and White House have opted to focus on future capabilities and technologies at the expense of current capability and readiness.  While this is the same thing we did in the 90s (and which I thought then and now was the right thing to do), we do not have the luxury of trading the present for the future.  We have multiple, overlapping and immediate issues to deal with.  Cutting current capability and readiness will lead to short and medium term dangers that we should not allow.  The real answer is to do both, but that is not in the cards with the leftie Dems and the growing isolationist GOPers.

 - All previous references to "global" or "forward deployed" posture or strategy have been subtly altered to "homeland defense."  This is a strong statement that our focus is being drawn homeward and that we are slowly letting go of 70 years of forward defense.  This will lead to all sorts of troubles in the decades to come if not reversed.

- Overall, this document codifies America's choice to accept decline as the way of the future. We've all known all along that no external enemy could destroy America, but it could certainly be done from the inside. Well, here we are. My main hope now is that our many enemies will over-play their hand and Americans will wake up and smell the blood and cordite before it is too late. 

Meanwhile Russia's action-figure czar has transformed his army into a lean, mean fighting machine.

To which, this friend observed Czar Putin's actions in the Ukraine will most likely be the template used by our host of adversaries:

...basically, Russia, China, North Korea, Iran and other potential enemies have figured out that the way to beat the U.S. is to move quickly, take and hold ground, and present the U.S. with a fait accompli.  All of our wars since 1990 have invovled long, slow build-ups of power.  if you can keep the U.S. out long enough to take and hold the ground you want, and rpevent the U.S. from building up adjacent to the war zone, we will not be inclined to do a bloody, forced entry.  Crimea is a good test case of this -- we could not respond with force if we wanted to (I don't think we should, but that is another story).  When the time comes, China will do the same with Taiwan and/or the Senkakus.  

The future of war is here.

(Hence the title of this post).

As long as the Obamanistas get overcome by events beyond the Ramparts of Civilization, we can only watch the world burn...

(Image:  The late John Candy derived from the movie Stripes

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Upskirt Uproar

(Image by Jerry Holbert)
A few days ago a Massachusetts judge ruled that a pervert taking "upskirt" photos wasn't breaking the law.

About two days after this ruling, the MA Legislature and Governor's Office moved swiftly to amend the law, making upskirt photos a misdemeanor.

One man responded to the judge's ruling on Townhall with this comment:  "...Who were waging the "war on women" again?


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Outmatched and Outmanuevered

(Image by Robert Ariaill)

Despite Obama & Co's blathering about the "costs" Putin will pay for snatching the Crimea, the fact is we've been outmaneuvered militarily on the ground.  No matter what retribution--if any--the US and EU concoct, Putin presented the world with a diplomatic fait a compli.  Austin Bay explains how military maneuver creates facts on the ground.

Paul Greenberg reminds us that when a dirty job needs to be done, Russian czars send in the Cossacks.


(Image by Gary McCoy)

In this contest of wills, the leaders of America and Russia couldn't be any more different while still being categorized as being part of the same species.  Ralph Peters nails it with his comment that Putin believes in Russia, Obama does not believe in this country.

The Diplomad follows-up and illustrates what happens when a pajama boy confronts a cage fighter.

This Ain't Cold War II

(Image by Gary Varvel)
There's been a lot of chatter lately comparing the Ukrainian Crisis with the Cold War.  One of my friends is fed up with this analogy and plans on writing an op-ed illustrating the current situation is more along the lines of Great Power Rivalry of the 19th through early 20th Century.  Peter Beinart sort of beat him to it with is How the War on Terror Ends article.

(Image by Bob Gorrell)


Whether it's 1914 or 1938 all over again, what are we doing to counter Putin's seizing of the Crimea? As of now, we're sending half-a-dozen F-15s plus a tanker to Poland.  While this may seem like feeble gunboat diplomacy (to use a 19th Century term), it's something.

Hopefully, we'll do more for the Ukrainians than we did for the Hungarians in 1956, or the Czechs in 1968.

(Image by Steve Kelly)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Foreign Policy Fantasies

(Image by Robert Ariaill)
As the Ukrainian Crisis continues to escalate, some in the media are beginning to realize that Obama's foreign policy is based on fantasy and they're getting a hefty dose of reality right now.

Having such a pushover for a president makes makes wars more likely.

While the end-game of all this remains murky, Bayard & Holmes has provided Part 2 of their Ukrainian Conquest Timeline (2001--Present) and then discusses the power of gas.

(Image by Bob Gorrell)
As the Russian invasion unfolded over the weekend, Obama declared it was Happy Hour for the DNC.

Hey, at least he wasn't out playing golf, right? 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Crisis in the Crimea

(Image by Bob Gorrell)

Weekends are usually quiet for me and my on-line friends.

Not this one.

My e-mail inbox was flooded with message traffic--all of them about the Crisis in the Crimea.

Here's the latest from AP, via Yahoo News.

As a couple friends pointed out:

Russia dusted off it's invasion playbook--take the airports and key government buildings first, then get the local leader to request intervention.

This was all preceded by reports from "sources within the intelligence community" that Russia isn't about to invade the Ukraine.

One friend posed this question:

This is the same “US Intel” that said Iran wasn't working on nuclear weapons in 2007, right?  

To which another responded:


The same intel that said Iraq had WMD, the Bay of Pigs will work out just fine, North Korea is not going to invade South Korea, Japan is not going to attack east, etc etc etc...
The IC's [Intelligence Community's] failures are legion.

True.  Maybe they should have listened to Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney.

Despite my feelings about Obama, this crisis would tax any president and their administration.

However, Obama certainly hasn't helped matters any...

(Image by Michael Ramirez)
...not to mention all his foreign policy faux pas. 

The Diplomad, as usual doesn't cut this "misadministration" any slack

Charles Krauthammer makes some suggestions.  

While the world "scrambles" as Russia tightens it's grip on the Crimea, Bayard & Holmes put together a Timeline of the Ukrainian Conquest

A Reuters article asks:  How far will Putin go? 

Probably as far as he wants to until someone stops him.