sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

The Anaconda

An anaconda (much like all constrictor snakes), kills its victim by squeezing them to death. During the American Civil War/War Between the States/War of Northern Aggression, President Lincoln adopted "The Anaconda Plan" wherein a naval blockade of Southern ports kept war material from being exchanged for cotton.

The Anaconda concept is being played out in North Korea and it's about to be installed around Iran. Call it what it is: war by other means.

The Al-Houthi movement, a proxy for Iran, announced a temporary halt to attacks on shipping in raw hope that Saudi Arabia would open the Bab el Mandeb waterway (and access to the Suez Canal) to ships - that contain Iranian oil. 

 On 31 July, the chief of the Houthi Supreme Political Committee, Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, announced, 
"We declare our initiative to halt naval military operations for a specific period and it could be extended and include all battle fronts on the ground if this move is reciprocated by the leadership of the coalition," according to Saba news agency. 
The Houthi defense ministry announced the suspension was for two weeks, subject to extension based on reciprocity by the Saudi-led coalition.

The Saudi response has not yet been reported.

The specific responses the Houthis want are the Saudi government’s agreement to end the ban on oil tankers transiting the Bab el-Mandeb Strait and the coalition to halt the offensive against Hodeidah.

This is the first time that economic pressure has forced the Houthis to make a tactical concession.  

The Saudis and maritime shipping authorities said the ban would remain until the safety of Strait transits could be assured. Al-Houthi’s statement provides no guarantee of prolonged safety and implies just the opposite -- that the safety of shipping in the Strait and the southern Red Sea is subject to Houthi decisions.

The Saudi-led coalition might open discussions with the Houthis, but the terms they offered are likely to be rejected.

Iran is concerned that they may have gone too far, as the world's only true pariah state remaining on the map. President Trump offered a meeting with Iranian leadership, that was completely rejected, as they are keeping up their "death to America" policy. 

The Saudis, and the Arab World are slowly uniting against the Persians and sanctions are about to be renewed with all of their implications as the anaconda squeezes around Iran. Don't look for ships containing Iranian oil to be transiting the Suez Canal anytime soon.

Syria and the Syrian Kurds

The Syrian government and the Kurds have begun preliminary reconciliation talks. During a debriefing on the talks in Damascus, Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) members agreed to continue a “political process” and to address technical issues to build confidence.  

The Syrian government presented a list of 12 terms. Reportedly they included a proposal for a limited federation or an autonomous administration in northern Syria. In the meeting, the YPG and Syrian government representatives agreed that it is not possible to carry on with the current administrative system of the country and that a decentralized state structure is a necessity.

Another term called for the transfer of Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor to the Syrian government. This term also stipulated that the Syrian government would control underground resources (they want the oil and water). 

Both sides agreed that the fight against Daesh/ISIS (the Islamic State) will continue in full solidarity.

The Damascus government demanded that in state institutions and borders, there will not be any symbols other than the Syrian flag and the People’s Protection/Defense Units (YPG) will gradually end its foreign connections because the Syrian government will become its source of supply.

The green dots are key towns held by the SDF and the YPG. The red dots are areas where ISIS/Daesh is still present in small numbers.
The government agreed that none of the YPG terrorists will be arrested due to accusations made during the civil war. Those who are wanted for ordinary crimes, on the other hand, will be handed to Kurdish security forces.

The next step is for the SDC to examine the government’s list of terms and bring their own demands to the next meeting. After discussing the demands of both sides, official negotiations will begin.

You'll notice on the map (right) that the Turks are expanding their territorial gains in Syria and have expressed an interest in keeping what they killed for. Turkey wants to make their captured turf part of the "new Turkish empire". Syria doesn't see it that way and neither do the Kurds.

Syrian Kurds are the first group to begin preliminary reconciliation talks. Most of what they require appears attainable.The Syrian government might be on the path to acquiring a powerful ally in the struggle to drive the Turks out of Syria, as well as to consolidate the defeat of the Islamist terrorists.

The US is behind the scenes in these negotiations as are the Russians. Both the US and Russia want rapprochement between the Kurds and Syria as a hedge against an overly ambitious and imperialistic Turkey. The Turks would like to conquer what the Ottomans once had. The people they'd like to rule feel differently about it.

Send in the Communists to Help

Nicaragua has been following Venezuela down the Socialist utopian path for a long time, but as they run out of other people's money to spend, it's getting worse for them. I recommend that the US send Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, an expert on communism and everything else, to help them through their tough times.

Maybe then, Nicaragua would see that the US only wants to help them out of the bog that they find themselves in.

President Ortega is now blaming President Trump for Nicaraguan internal instability. In an interview, he said he would not allow elections until 2021 as that would set a precedent and “open the door to anarchy.” Regarding the death toll from protests, Ortega said they were exaggerated, noting that 195 rather than 400 people had lost their lives. 

Ortega appears to be copying the political tactics of Venezuelan President Maduro. Like Maduro, Ortega has resorted to blaming the US for the persistent anti-government protests and is using gangs of thugs to intimidate protestors and disrupt demonstrations.

Since mid-April, Nicaragua has been heading slowly but steadily towards a popular uprising that unseats the Ortega administration. The key variable remains the loyalty of the security forces and their responsiveness to the chain of command. For now, that remains intact.

Possibly in addition to the face of American communism, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez*, the US could send Senator Bernie Sanders and Rep. Maxine Waters as a socialist trio representing the most progressive solutions possible? I'm sure that they could help the Nicaraguan socialist movement improve its situation.
* Ocasio-Cortez will face Republican nominee Anthony Pappas in the November 6 general election for a New York House seat.

Welcome to August


President Trump's approval rating remains basically unchanged since May 1. Rasmussen Reports has him at 48% approval. All of the histrionics from the corrupt, lying, elite media haven't budged the needle. The economy is booming and people are working. That means more money and more dignity for working Americans. Unemployment is lower than at any time in many people's lifetimes. In some categories, it's lower than any time since we began to track employment numbers. I'm not tired of winning.

Trump Team, crossing the swamp by Jon McNaughton, who identifies the rest as: 
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley; Defense Secretary Jim Mattis; Housing 
and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson; Attorney General Jeff 
Sessions; first lady Melania Trump; Secretary of State Pompeo; White 
House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders; the president’s daughter Ivanka Trump; 
National Security Adviser Bolton; Kellyanne Conway; and Chief of Staff John Kelly. 
FBI Corruption

It's not a long article. Worth a read in its entirety. Here is an excerpt.
(Boston Herald) Our media’s valiant efforts to distract us notwithstanding, information continues to seep out that underscores how badly a housecleaning is needed in Washington, D.C. 
Last week saw the release of the applications used to obtain warrants from the FISA court to spy on Carter Page, an adviser to the Trump presidential campaign. Obtained by Judicial Watch, the 400-plus pages of (heavily redacted) documents support the conclusions earlier drawn by the House Intelligence Committee (and denounced by Democrats as hysteria): the FISA warrants were obtained through obfuscation and deceit
As various commentators predicted would be proven, the bulk of the information that formed the basis for the FISA warrant applications was the “dossier” of allegations about Donald Trump’s activities in Russia. This dossier was provided to the FBI by British spy Christopher Steele. Steele was hired during the 2016 presidential campaign by opposition research firm Fusion GPS, who was paid by Hillary Clinton’s law firm Perkins Coie, who was paid by the Clinton campaign and the DNC. The allegations were scandalous and completely unverified, in violation of federal statutes and FISA court rules. 
In other words, the FBI used oppo research paid for by the Democrats as justification for government spying on a political opponent and other Americans. 
But there’s more. In another incredible coincidence, Fusion GPS had hired scholar and professor Nellie Ohr as a “paid Russian expert.” Nellie Ohr happens to be married to Bruce Ohr, deputy attorney general in the Justice Department. Bruce Ohr is alleged to have passed his wife’s anti-Trump research to the FBI. He was demoted for failing to disclose not only his wife’s employment with Fusion GPS, but also his own meetings with Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson. 
The FISA court was never told any of that. They were never supposed to know. None of us was ever supposed to know.
Sadly, this sort of chicanery is not a one-off for the FBI. 

Supreme Court

Sometimes, you have to look at what some of the more liberal members of the US Supreme Court say to realize that it's important that we replace them with constitutionalists.
"I would not look to the U.S. Constitution, if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012. I might look at the constitution of South Africa. That was a deliberate attempt to have a fundamental instrument of government that embraced basic human rights, had an independent judiciary. It really is, I think, a great piece of work that was done."  --Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the video clip of the quote above.
Discretionary Spending and Healthcare

A person started giving me a hard time about medical insurance recently. I pointed out that I pay my own way and in terms of discretionary spending (after the taxes are extracted at the point of a bayonet, basic living costs are removed), healthcare insurance accounts for a HUGE portion of what remains.

Small things such as allowing all healthcare plans to compete in all 50 states would reduce healthcare dramatically. The cost of private market healthcare in Arizona without government subsidies is $1,100 per month MORE than what I pay in California. As a result, I'll commute to see my doctor.

Those sorts of discrepancies should not exist, but they do. I have no confidence that Congress will be able to agree on a workable solution to reducing healthcare. So I'll make do. It's worth saving $1,100 per month to cross the border. If CA secedes from the union, that might change the calculus.

I don't know how Medicare changes all that, but it's 3 years away and in the mean time I'll do what I've planned to do. Yes, I could go to the VA but Arizona VA has a bad reputation. Maybe President Trump and team fixed that? But it's a last resort for me. I don't have a lot of wonderful stories to tell about the VA in Long Beach, CA, near where I used to live.

And in California, concealed carry looks like this: