Return from Mission

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Preventing Sea Blindness: USNI's "Inside the Carrier Air Wing"

Nice effort by USNI News to inform the public about U.S. Navy matters - in this case a look at what's Inside the Carrier Air Wing.

Well worth the short time it takes to read it all.

One of the best ways to prevent "sea blindness" is to keep the sea services in the public eye.

Graphic from USNI News.

ISIS in the Pacific - Homeland Security Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives

Described as:
With ISIS’ continued push to recruit and radicalize around the globe, this hearing will examine the current threat ISIS affiliates and supporters pose to U.S. interests and allies in Southeast Asia. Multiple recent terrorist attacks and public declarations of allegiance by local militant groups, and a growing number of ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria from the region, demonstrate the potential danger this poses.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

China: South China Sea Dominance is Us

China's goals for the South China Sea and dominance of the SCS area laid out excellently in the Sydney Morning Herald's South China Sea: The fight China will take to the brink of war:
Then, last week, in another unmistakeable sign of hardening Chinese determination, Xi made his first public appearance in military uniform and formally claimed the title of commander in chief of China's war-fighting headquarters.

What is Xi doing? What does China hope to achieve? And where is this dispute heading? An eminent Chinese expert, Dr Shi Yinghong, provides answers.

Xi has declared the pursuit of "China's Dream", a national resurgence after centuries of foreign domination. Shi, a professor of international relations at Renmin University in Beijing, says there are three international implications. First, Xi wants China to be acknowledged as a superpower equal to the US. Second, he wants China to become the co-manager of global affairs with the US, a Group of Two for world governance. Third, "China must be the preponderant power in the Western Pacific and have some advantage over the US", he told me. Shi's definition of Chinese aims supports that of the commander of the US Pacific Fleet, Admiral Harry Harris, who says China seeks "hegemony in East Asia".

Shi, who has been an adviser to the State Council, China's cabinet, for the past five years, says this will be "based on an arms build up and the strategic ability to go tit-for-tat with the US and to force the US finally to recognise Chinese preponderance" in China's claimed sphere.

"China," Shi explains, "must be number one in diplomatic influence and economic clout and maybe in [military] force. It wants to prevent the US military's freedom of navigation eventually, and gradually squeeze Vietnam, the Philippines and all the others out of the South China Sea." This is precisely what the region's governments fear.
Read the whole thing.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

North Koreans Pointlessly Launch a Missile from a Submerged Ship

Much to the relief of the captain and crew of a North Korean submarine, "North Korea Test-Fires a Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile". The NORK submarine which appears have a single missile tube didn't sink during the evolution which makes if a "win, win" for the crew as the latest Kim-in-Charge was observing the process and leading cheers or something.
North Korea just staged a second test of its submarine-launched ballistic missile. According to North Korean state media, the April 23 test was observed by ruler Kim Jong-un himself. The launch was conducted from North Korea's only ballistic missile submarine, Gorae ("Whale"), while submerged off the country's east coast. The underwater launch itself appears to have been a success, but the missile crashed shortly afterward into the Sea of Japan.

The missile, known as Pukkuksong-1 ("Polar Star"), is based on the obsolete Cold War-era R-27 ballistic missile. Kim Jong-un says the test means North Korea is "now capable of hitting the heads of the south (sic) Korean puppet forces and the US imperialists anytime as it pleases."

So here's a open letter to the Loathsome One:

Dear Current Kim-in-Charge:
For the last 66 years or so, the "US imperialists" could, at anytime as it pleases them, hit you and yours in the in the head, to borrow your phrase.

The fact that they haven't shows a great deal of patience on their part, especially in light of the provocations you continue to provide.

In fact, I'm pretty sure those "Korean puppet forces" also have forgone many opportunities to turn you and the other Kims-in-Charge into some sort of pasty goo on the floor. 


Because they, unlike your hell-hole  dump of a country, are part of a civilized world to which you will never belong.

Now, here's why your missile launched from a sub is a pointless exercise: Should you ever use such a missile in anger, you will shortly thereafter be a dead former Kim-in-Charge.

Just saying.

Your implacable enemy,

And here's a wonderful video of the great launch, with the most irritating announcer ever: (the real action starts at about 2:58)

Monday, April 25, 2016

A Couple of Odds and Ends

1.  Can we talk in a civil fashion about "climate change?" Or is even raising the possibility of such a discussion grounds to be investigated by over-reaching state attorneys general as some species of fraud or to be hounded by those who cannot understand questioning what they accept as gospel?

2.  In the controversy over North Carolina House Bill 2, how many times has anyone offered to let you read the actual bill? Here it is:

You might note the following: (1) the bill has no impact on private businesses (theaters, gyms, private schools, private universities, restaurants, coffee house, bars, private arenas where sports are played, hotels, motels, stores, shops, salons, barbershops, etc) which are free to allow their patrons to access restrooms and other facilities as they see fit); (2) North Carolina is not a pure
home rule state in which:
. . . an amendment to the state constitution grants cities, municipalities, and/or counties the ability to pass laws to govern themselves as they see fit (so long as they obey the state and federal constitutions)

North Carolina is mostly a non-home rule state:
In other states, only limited authority has been granted to local governments by passage of statutes in the state legislature. In these states, a city or county must obtain permission from the state legislature if it wishes to pass a law or ordinance which is not specifically permitted under existing state legislation. Most non-home rule states apply the principle known as Dillon's Rule to determine the bounds of a municipal government's legal authority.
Why does that matter? HB2 was passed as a response to a city of Charlotte ordinance that the state legislature found to be outside of the power granted to the city by the state legislature. As set out in the Charlotte Observer:
In a one-day specially convened session Wednesday, North Carolina’s legislature passed a sweeping law that reverses a Charlotte ordinance that had extended some rights to people who are gay or transgender.

The law passed by the General Assembly and signed that same night by Gov. Pat McCrory goes further than a narrow elimination of Charlotte’s ordinance, which had generated the most controversy by a change that protected transgender people who use public restrooms based on their gender identity. The new law also nullified local ordinances around the state that would have expanded protections for the LGBT community.

The state has long had laws regulating workplace discrimination, use of public accommodations, minimum wage standards and other business issues. The new law – known as HB2, the Charlotte bathroom bill or, more officially, as the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act – makes it illegal for cities to expand upon those state laws, as more than a dozen cities had done including Charlotte, Raleigh, Chapel Hill and Durham.

North Carolina’s new law sets a statewide definition of classes of people who are protected against discrimination: race, religion, color, national origin, age, handicap or biological sex as designated on a person’s birth certificate. Sexual orientation – people who are gay – was never explicitly protected under state law and is not now, despite recent court decisions that legalized same-sex marriage.
Transgender people who have not taken surgical and legal steps to change the gender noted on their birth certificates have no legal right under state law to use public restrooms of the gender with which they identify. Cities and counties no longer can establish a different standard. Critics of the Charlotte ordinance cite privacy concerns and say it was “social engineering” to allow people born as biological males to enter women’s restrooms.

McCrory’s office says businesses aren’t limited by the bill, and that private companies and private universities can adopt new or keep existing nondiscrimination policies. Private businesses can establish their own practices concerning LGBT employees and customers; the new law does not allow so-called “public policy common law” complaints in state courts to challenge those practices.
Now, some of rub comes when private activities occur in state or municipally owned facilities.

The NFL Carolina Panthers play in Bank of America stadium, which is privately owned. The ownership of that stadium would appear to be free to allow access to restrooms as they choose.

The NBA Charlotte Hornets, however, play in Time Warner Cable Arena, which is owned by the City of Charlotte. The area would appear to be barred from violating state law, either for basketball games or for any concerts held in this or other municipal arenas.

I leave it for you to decide whether the millionaire owners of sports teams should be subsidized in having arenas built at taxpayer expense and, thus, submitting themselves to state regulation of restroom usage.

And the same question can be asked of any city or county that owns such facilities.

Let's try for another clarification from an NC law professor:
“It creates a state-wide non-discrimination ordinance and public accommodations which we’ve never had before, which is a perfectly good thing to do,” Clarke said. “But it, of course, limits the protection categories to race, age, national origin, religion, color and biological sex to avoid any potential expansion of that in the courts.”

Clarke said the law goes beyond the stated goals.

“Then it deals with employment, so it deals with things that are utterly unrelated to LGBT rights, to bathroom usage, to public accommodations. And it deals specifically and directly with employment,” Clarke said.

The law addresses the minimum wage, and does not allow any local government to set a minimum wage.

“The legislature took that power expressly away, so forbade any local government from raising the minimum wage beyond what federal and state law require,” Clarke said.
You might note that the law itself offers up the right of state entities to provide single-occupancy facilities "on demand," as a reasonable accommodation for those individuals whose sexual identity is not drive by their biological sex.

So that's what the big fuss is about. Plus it's an election year and the Republicans control the state legislature which the other party is mobilizing its forces to attempt to change. It is also worth noting that the NC State Attorney General, a Democrat, is running for governor and has decreed his opposition to HB2:
North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said on Tuesday that his office will not go to court to argue to uphold the state law adopted last week that strikes down locally enacted protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Cooper, a Democrat running for governor, called the measure “a national embarrassment” that “will set North Carolina’s economy back if we don’t repeal it.”
He might have added, "But I see it as a tool to be used in trying to get elected governor."

UPDATE: (all bolding above is mine)

3. General Mattis is smart:
But he also noted that the next president will have a lot of problems to deal with, and that the United States is poorly situated to deal with them. Iran, he said, is seeking domination, not peace. Observed Mattis: "(Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei) summed it up very well when he said those who say that the future lies in negotiations, not in missiles, are either ignorant or traitors. ... That is the Supreme Leader. I think we should take him at his word."
yes, it is usually a bad idea to ignore someone who says he wants to kill you.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: George Burns and Gracie Allen and Election Fun with Gracie's "Surprise Party"

From the more or less innocent days of 1940, when some candidates were more fun than others, here are a couple of hours of comedy genius which I think I have in the right order:

As noted here:
During the election year of 1940, Gracie represented the fictitious Surprise Party and advocated nonsense as part of her platform. The "campaign" was successful enough for Gracie to actually receive write-in votes on election day.
"Advocating nonsense" as part of a political party platform?

I guess things haven't really changed all that much in 76 years.

On Midrats 24 April 16 - Episode 329: "Long War Update" With Bill Roggio

Due to circumstances beyond his control, Mr. Roggio had to postpone his visit with Midrats. He will appear at a later date. In lieu of his appearance, CDR Salamander and Eagle1 held a "free for all" discussion of current events. You can find our "Spring Time Free-for-All" here.

We regret any inconvenience.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Friday Film: "Submarine Physical Principles (1940)"

You can change the size of submarines and you can change their power systems, but you can't change the scientific principles under which they operate, which are very well explained in this film: