sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Friday, February 5, 2016

An Opportunity for Japan

The (peace loving) Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), or North Korea, has been warming up its launch sites for another ballistic missile test to try and get attention that the last underground nuclear test didn't seem to garner. They claimed that they tested a thermonuclear weapon (hydrogen bomb), but nobody believes it. It's that sort of disrespect that drives Dear Leader nuts. But he's crazy as a shit house rat, so crazier than that means that he needs to launch a missile somewhere, at something. Any direction will do except toward China since the other worker's paradise pays their bills and feeds their starving people. (Dear Leader exempts himself from starving)

Dear Leader Kim Jong Un, the only fat guy in North Korea
You can be executed for calling Dear Leader, 'fat" in the DPRK--
but I'm not in the DPRK.
Every time the DPRK wants the world to pay attention to them, they go through this process to remind people that they're still around and are still willing to stir up trouble. It's what they do.

But it may be different this time because the Japanese want to try out their new American anti ballistic missiles.  The Americans would like to see the real-world test of the system as well. The Japanese are tired of taking crap from their North Korean neighbors. I sense a convergence of interests.

Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani said on 3 February that he had ordered the Self-Defense Forces to intercept a North Korean ballistic missile if necessary. Nakatani said arrangements are currently being made to deploy the Patriot Advanced Capability-3, or PAC-3, surface-to-air missile systems in Okinawa Prefecture, over which North Korea's ballistic missile might fly. PAC-3 systems will likely be deployed on Miyakojima and Ishigakijima.

The Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force also has destroyers equipped with Standard Missiles capable of shooting down a North Korean ballistic missile if it's launched into the Sea of Japan. The question for the Japanese is whether the Navy or the Air Force will be able to paint the silhouette of  a North Korean missile on the side of something. The competition is intense. 

The Tokyo government sent a formal protest of the North’s notice of a “satellite launch.” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the so-called satellite launch would violate UN Security Council resolutions.
"It -- the 'satellite' launch -- actually means a ballistic missile launch," Abe said during a meeting of the House of Representatives Budget Committee. "Following a nuclear test, it clearly violates UN Security Council resolutions and is a grave provocation to our country's security."
JMSDF Ashigara (Murasame class destroyer)
The Japanese are serious about shooting down a rocket or missile if it violates Japanese airspace over a major island. The deployment of PAC-3 anti-missile systems on Miyako or Ishigaki islands would indicate Japan might try to down the missile for violating the airspace of even the smaller islands. Prime Minister Abe at least has given himself and the Self-Defense Forces that option. 

Patriot PAC-3 Missile System
It would be good practice for the PAC-3 teams, but the country would need to be prepared for North Korean retaliation. Civil defense measures would be ordered in both countries.

The information about a missile launch from a mobile missile launcher is very early and has not confirmed by separate sources. North Korea has the capability to test military missiles off the east coast during the launch window for the space launch off the west coast. Such a diversion would stretch and test US and Allied missile detection and destruction capabilities. 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Cruz Scandalized by Campaign Behavior

There are a lot of serious Ted Cruz supporters that read my blog. I don't take issue with you but the calls from the Cruz Campaign to precinct captains AFTER they verified that Dr. Carson was not dropping out of the race is going to dog Sen. Cruz. It's politics at its dirtiest. Worthy of a Clinton.

The thing that most surprises me is that Sen. Cruz didn't fire the people involved immediately. He didn't. He apologized to Dr. Carson but he's still running in New Hampshire talking about his big win in Iowa. Nobody knows whether or not he won or not. It's like the six-coin-toss thing with Hillary Clinton's people.

(Breitbart) Nancy Bliesman, a precinct captain for Cruz in Crawford County, Iowa, told Breitbart News that she received two voice mails–one at 7:07 p.m. Central Standard Time (CST), and one at 7:29 p.m.–on the night of the Iowa caucuses, which began at 7:00 p.m.

The first call came from a woman with a phone number out of Galveston, Texas at 7:07 p.m. (transcript follows audio):[inaudible]…from the Ted Cruz campaign, calling to get to a precinct captain, and it has just been announced that Ben Carson is taking a leave of absence from the campaign trail, so it is very important that you tell any Ben Carson voters that for tonight, uh, that they not waste a vote on Ben Carson, and vote for Ted Cruz. He is taking a leave of absence from his campaign. All right? Thank you. Bye.

The second voicemail was left at 7:29 p.m. from an Iowa phone number that Breitbart News traced back to a Cruz campaign volunteer hotline.

"Hello, this is the Cruz campaign with breaking news: Dr. Ben Carson will be [garbled] suspending campaigning following tonight’s caucuses. Please inform any Carson caucus goers of this news and urge them to caucus for Ted instead. Thank you. Good night.

Turkey - Friend or Foe?

Since the 24 hour news cycle in the US is focused on the primary election process, I thought to update this blog's readers on what is going on elsewhere because there are implications for the US in the near and longer terms.

Turkey is theoretically an ally of the United States. So is Pakistan. Pakistan created the Taliban and continued to support them during the war there up to the present day. Without Pakistan there would be no Taliban. That is also Turkey’s role in supporting the Syrian opposition. It provides the same style of safe haven and logistics for the Syrian opposition that Pakistan provides for the Afghan Taliban. Without Turkey’s support, most of the opposition would collapse.

Yesterday, the UN Special Envoy for Syria announced a pause in the Syrian peace talks in Geneva until 25 February. In his press statement, Staffan de Mistura said that, based on the first week of talks, he concluded that more work needs to be done by the stakeholders. He said the UN staff is prepared for talks.

The Syrian Opposition (various groups backed primarily by Turkey - partially because they will attack the Kurds as a Turkish cat's paw) took a large hit militarily and it shifted the situation on the ground for them. Thus their negotiating position changed and they needed to regroup.

The Syrian government and allied forces consisting of Russian and Cuban advisors succeeded in cutting the main line of communications from Aleppo to Turkey.

The behavior of the opposition negotiators suggests that the Syrian/Russian offensive caught them off-guard. They appear to have been outsmarted by the government. Had they suspected a major offensive to reduce opposition in Aleppo, they would not have sent a team to Geneva.

Ria Novosti reported on 3 February that a Russian military advisor was killed in Syria.
"The Russian military advisor in Syria was carrying out tasks to do with providing assistance to the Syrian army in mastering new arms supplied under the existing interstate military-technical cooperation contracts," an unnamed source in the Defense Ministry was quoted as saying. 
"On 1 February, the officer sustained a fatal wound as a result of mortar shelling by ISIL terrorists of the military garrison where one of the Syrian army formations is deployed," the source said.
This is the second Russian officer to be killed in Syria and acknowledged by the Russian government. The first was the Su-24 fighter-bomber pilot. The Russians did not release the location of the incident. Nevertheless, considering the short range of mortar fire, the officer was with the combat forces. Several reports in the past two months related that some Russian ground advisors are focused on improving Syrian artillery.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov suggested that there can be no lasting cease-fire in Syria if smuggling continues between Turkey and areas of the country not controlled by the government in Damascus. Lavrov's remarks, which he made on a visit to Oman on 3 February.
"As far as the specific issue of a cease-fire is concerned, we have our ideas about it, ideas that are purely pragmatic and dictated by the need to ensure that this cease-fire can happen in practice," Lavrov said.  
"For the cease-fire to work, a key component is to stop smuggling across the Turkish-Syrian border, which has become one of the most pressing tasks. It is a supply line for the militants. Without cutting it, it is hard to expect the cease-fire regime to materialize."
The US Government understands the role that Turkey has played in the development and sustenance of ISIL, but has been reluctant to mention it because Turkey is a member of NATO, and hosts a US Military presence to a far greater extent than Pakistan ever has. Incirlik Air Base (home to the 39th Air Base Wing) supports most of the UAV/Drone activity in the Middle East and provides a hub useful to the US in the event that there would be a need to "gear up" for activities in Iraq and Syria. In the past, the Turks have been less than hospitable when it came to America projecting other than drone strike-related activity along their southern border. Much of that opposition has come because US strikes against ISIL often damage their own supported interests in ISIL controlled territory.

Turkey is both an American friend and foe -- does that sound familiar?

There was a time when an increasingly secular Turkey had a close allied relationship to the US. Increasing hard line Islamists in the Turkish government has eroded that relationship considerably.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Does Bernie Sanders need a Food Taster?

It's interesting to see Bernie Sanders shuffle around with his wife, no evident security, pulling his little roll-aboard bag, in need of coffee and a Danish to get the motor started. The Bern is grumpy, but he's 75 and he's earned it.

Contrast that if you will to Hillary Clinton and a full Secret Service Detail, an army of handlers (working on her next 'reset'), advisors, and food tasters.
I don't think that Bernie Sanders would do a swan dive into his oatmeal without assistance and the Clinton machine is known for making that happen.
Sanders needs some sort of bullet proof clothing, loyal retainers and a food taster (there is a precedent)(Barack's food tasters) to keep him safe since he's now a clear and present danger to the pre-anointed Queen of America. Any Byzantine satrap would take the same precautions. Is Bernie? I don't know. That remains to be seen. Will he make it to the convention or will he end up playing in the same harp band as Vince Foster?

Could Sanders (cold as a marble slab) still win the Democratic Party's nomination if somebody put a voodoo hex on him - "Weekend at Bernie's" style???

Absent Sanders, Clinton in heavy custody, who might fill the void?

After all, Hillary Clinton herself said that she ran as the third Obama term. And we known that Barack doesn't want to leave his cushy job at the White House if he can't be UN Secretary General or the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.


Does Ted need a food taster? 

Could Ted end up looking like Grandpa Munster after a dose
of 'cough syrup'? Best ask Dr. Carson.
This is how the headline read: Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson on Tuesday pointedly accused Ted Cruz’s campaign of spreading false rumors during the Iowa caucuses claiming the retired neurosurgeon was suspending his bid, in a coordinated effort to seal Cruz’s victory Monday night.

Cruz apologized. But everyone knows that he's pulled every filthy election trick that he can to puff his numbers. To me, that puts him at the bottom of my list. To the neurosurgeon, familiar with what causes the brain to work, and to make it not work...maybe Cruz needs a food taster too?

Clinton Claims a Big Win

The media talking heads were crowing like roosters at dawn that Hillary Clinton won the Democratic Caucus in Iowa last night, (by something on the order of .3%). 

Clinton ascended the dias to accept accolades but she's a political animal and knows that Bernie Sanders dealt her a serious blow.

She tied a 74 year old socialist who isn't even a Democrat, and proposes a maximum tax rate of 90%. They come out of Iowa with the same number of delegates to the national convention. If that is a win, I think that her opponents in the opposition party will cede it to her. 49 more states to go until the nomination provided that she's not indicted by the Justice Department.

The Democratic Party's mandarins have to be secretly concerned that she has such a bad showing in Iowa. At one point, she was 50% ahead of Sanders. He closed the lead down to nearly an even score. What does that portend for the Party of Obama?

If they need somebody stronger, Barack can tell DOJ to indict the Bitch of Benghazi, opening up a window for Biden or some other luminary to run against Sanders for the nomination. Or they can wedge an acceptable vice president in under Sanders and he can die in office. These things happen.

The people who had to show big in Iowa such as Huckabee (dropped out) and O'Malley (dropped out), Fiorina, Glimore, Santorum, Jeb!, Christie and Kasich were all blistered.  Carson, who hoped to appeal to the hard core religious vote, finished in fourth place and he's not expected to do well in New Hampshire next week. He may remain in the race for a couple of weeks but the money will dry up. Carson is a rich man, but not rich (or stupid) enough to self-fund a campaign where people aren't supporting him. The Republicans have had a three way race for a while and it remains between Trump, Rubio and Cruz.  The others are trying to steal a little thunder but all they're going to end up doing is humiliating themselves if they stay in through the end of the month. 

Jeb! vowed to remain in it to the end even though he only managed 3% of the R vote in Iowa. He has the money and the ego to do it.

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Morning After, The Day Before

The results of the Iowa Caucus are not yet in and the airwaves are clogged with opinions. I'll summarize my feelings on the matter briefly by reading the tea leaves.

It doesn't matter who in the Democratic Party wins or loses because the FBI will refer the criminal investigation it's conducting on Hillary Clinton to the Justice Department for prosecution.
(yes, I realize that I may be showing faith in a system that was clearly broken during the years of ObamaNation - sorry if I'm too much of a Pollyanna)
The shrill, pear-shaped lesbian, pictured far left, will shift her delegates (tearfully) to somebody other than Bernie. Possibly Joe Biden? Sanders won't be allowed to be the Democratic Party's nominee even if he wins because the Party will change the rules on him if he's close.

That will cause an upheaval because there is a groundswell of angst and revulsion among a certain class of Democrats, resulting in Sanders forming a third party ("The Progressive Party?").
It's always the Democrats who snicker when Republicans threaten to form a third party, but the snickering may stop if this happens. Or they could arrange for Bernie to have a convenient heart attack. He's like 100 isn't he? If they need advice on how to manage that, they have Bill and Hillary close at hand and they can consult - for a fee.
For all of the struggle that the GOP is having in the nominating process, it's nothing compared to what will happen to the Democrats because of their failure to allow an honest nominating process within their political party.

And moving on, the Sunday talk shows will be full of pundits who are working to sway voters this way or that in order to preserve their pocket books (for the most part), which are filled by parasites who lap at the troughs of those who own the Washington Beltway.

There are other things going on in America, but nobody is reporting on them with any interest. I get it. The focus is on the big show and can we reverse the damage done to the nation over the past 7 years?

Sunday, January 31, 2016

A Local Crisis

Photo of the back yard. Note moisture.
It's not really that much of a crisis. In Southern California, crisis can best be defined by temperatures below 60 at night and any measurable amount of rain. Since the local news is defining it as a winter storm crisis, I thought that it might be worth blogging about. You will note that in the photo (right) a battle lantern has been laid out on the table.

If the chairs are wet, how can I bar-b-que my steak and enjoy it there in nature? Ok, the more that I think of it, the more that it's turning into a crisis. We will convert the filet into stew meat and will eat soup at the hacienda tonight (since nobody in SoCal goes out in the rain unless they are pressed to). Here, the freeways turn into parking lots, much as one would expect from a zombie apocalypse, except that there are no zombies afoot -- that I know of. There are Muslims, but they seem to be staying in.

If it rains like this next weekend, the outdoor BBQ Super Bowl party will
be placed in jeopardy. I wonder if we would qualify for Federal Disaster
funding through FEMA? Note, the wind knocked a pool chair over.
Some of you are asking yourselves whether or not I've gone off my rocker. I assure you that I have, but that's beside the point. People in Southern California are looking for your pity that we must deal with rain.

There are many differences between living in the city and living in the country. One of them is mud. Even if I go out now, in the rain (and naturally it would be brave of me to do so), I'd just be walking on concrete pavement, an asphalt street or grass. No mud. No need for mud rooms in a home. Winter clothes are the same as non-winter clothes here.

It's a day to stay in, write creatively and make warm soup.