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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

India Moves to Protect Vital Sea Lane

Naval base to open 31 July:
Aiming to keep an eye on maritime security around the Malacca Straits, a key sea trading route, the Indian Navy will inaugurate a new air base at the southern-most tip of Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
As you can see from the adjacent map (with the Andaman and Nicobar Islands circled) it's a vital location for maritime security in the region.

More at Defence Express:
The Indian Air Force (IAF) has already tried out its potent frontline Sukhoi SU-30 fighter jets from air bases in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The Shibpur airstrip in north Andamans is also planned to be extended from 3,200 feet to 12,000 feet to support all types of aircraft and night-flying operations. Moreover, new airstrips will come up at Kamorta and Little Andaman, while the existing two main runways at Port Blair and Car Nicobar are also being upgraded to facilitate fighter jet, helicopter and heavy transport plane operations. The plans will be implemented in the next few years.

“Plans are afoot to turn Campbell Bay into ‘Operational Turn-Around Bases’ with better refuelling and communication facilities and augmented force levels,” sources added.
And yet more at
"India Now Commands The Strait Of Malacca With Naval Base 'INS Baaz' "
Great Nicobar Island, Campbell Bay Circled

The southern most islands of India are closer to Indonesia than mainland India and will help India gain strategic supremacy in the region. The new base will also boast of an upgraded air base that will be able to operate the newly inducted Hercules C-130J Super Hercules which are meant for special forces' operations.

INS Baaz clearly overlooks the Strait of Malacca from across the Aceh in Indonesia. With this new addition to the already powerful Indian navy, India can kickstart operations if maritime activities in the region are threatened. The Strait of Malacca were once heavily infected with piravy but now the Indian and Indonesian navies monitor it for criminal activities by jointly patrolling their maritime borders.
Runway at Campbell Bay, about 3000 feet long

This new base of the Indian Navy comes at a time when the US is re-balancing its force levels from the Atlantic to Asia-Pacific and will base at least 60% of its naval assets in the Asia-Pacific region. The Strait of Malacca acts as a key link between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean connecting Asia and Africa to East Asia, Australia and the US.

The Indian Navy already operates bases at Port Blair and Car Nicobar in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands chain. INS Baaz is 300 nautical miles south of Car Nicobar naval base and has given the Indian Navy a much wider reach to effectively deter any aggression in the region.

Somali Pirates: Iran Alleges Gulf States "Support" Somali Pirates- which is sort of correct

Sometimes even a blind hog finds an acorn, and, as set out in "Iran accuses Gulf States of supporting Somali piracy" from the Daily News Egypt, even Iran gets something partially right:
The state-run Fars News Agency quoted General Mohammad Nazzeri, of Iran’s navy as claiming, “the pirates of the Gulf of Aden are simple fishers but their sponsors and main leaders are Sheikhs of the United Arab Emirates, Yemen and Saudi Arabia. They provide the Somalis with money, weapons and equipment.”
While the three accused states might not have serious interests in combating piracy, they may host elements that collude with the Somali pirates, those familiar with Somali piracy said.

“’Supporting’ is probably too strong a word. Connections and involvement by citizens of those countries? Yes,” said Peter Eichstaedt, a journalist who has lived and worked in east Africa. “I spoke with pirates and former pirates, and others have documented this as well, who say that Dubai acts as a hub for much of the pirate financial activity. Ransom money is moved in and out of Dubai. Once pirates collect their ransom, fleets of Toyota Land Cruisers are purchased in Dubai, along with other sorts of high-demand items.”

Yemen, said Eichstaedt, may play a contributing role because of its proximity. He says said because of its location across the Gulf of Aden from Somalia, Yemen ends up hosting a lot of clandestine activity. Yemen is also facing acute degradation to its state institutions, which could further incentivise those who operate outside the law to use it as a base.

However, there seems to be no evidence that Yemen formally supports piracy. “Saudi connections are hard to pinpoint,” said Eichstaedt. “Saudi extremists may be supporting the Al Shabab fundamentalist fighters in southern Somalia. The Saudi connections could involve Somalia pirates used to transport weapons and personnel into and out of Somali to support the Al Shabab cause.

“The UAE has invested more than most in combating piracy,” said Bahadur.
Yes, it is a world full of shades of gray.

Under the broadest expansion of General Nazzeri's thought, Toyota "supports" piracy by building Land Cruisers and Yamaha supports them by building outboard motors.

And Iran supports them by producing oil.

Of course, the biggest factor is the lawless nature of Somalia itself.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Sunday on Midrats at 5 pm (Eastern U.S.) - Episode 134: Norman Friedman: "Good Ship, Bad Ship"

Sunday, 29 July 12, Midrats Episode 134: Norman Friedman: "Good Ship, Bad Ship" 07/29 on Blog Talk Radio:
What makes a class of warship a success, a failure, or a missed opportunity? What fundamentals consistently result in a success, and what common threads need to be avoided in order to not repeat the mistakes of the past?

What decision and results we have seen in previous classes of warships are we seeing repeated now, and what are some options for the Navy going forward?

For warship classes from right before WWII to the present, to discuss this and more will be returning guest, Dr. Norman Friedman.

In addition to numeral articles through the years, Dr. Friedman writes a monthly column, "World Naval Developments" in the US Naval Institute's magazine, Proceedings and is the author of many books including U.S. Destroyers: An Illustrated Design History; Unmanned Combat Air Systems; and Naval Weapons of World War One.

As a starting point for our discussion we will be using Dr. Friedman's article in the latest edition of the US Naval Institute's magazine, Naval History, Judging the Good from the Bad.
Catch the show live here (or visit that link later for download or later listen) or listen/download from the Midrats iTunes page.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Sunday on Midrats: Episode 133 - Back to STRAT 07/22/12 on Blog Talk Radio

Episode 133: Back to STRAT 07/22 by Midrats on Blog Talk Radio 5pm Eastern U.S.-
They're back; ICBM, IRBM, SRBM. Strategic forces. Long range strike and long range counter-air.

Some real old ones are coming back in to the lexicon: ABM.

Some new ones have joined the party as well - ASBM and super sonic ASCM.

Of course, they never really left us.

After the post-Soviet softness of the 1990s and the decade plus of COIN and small wars - the big toys are coming back. Old and new.

From Russia, China, Iran, and India - technology is reaching back out and spreading out.

Where does that leave the US military in 2012? Few leaders under the age of 45 even remember operating in the Cold War disciplines that peer technology required; range, EMCON, defense in depth.

Global reach will require more and better AAW, deep strike, I&W - it will also require a renewed understanding that for a Fleet at sea - the enemy gets a vote, and a shot.

Our guest for the full hour to discuss in detail will be Will Dossel, CAPT USN (Ret), a former E-2C NFO with over 3500 hours and 525 traps in the E-2C and other TACAIR. Retiring after 26 years, he held a number of Navy and Joint operational and staff positions afloat and ashore including VAW squadron command, CVN navigator, Deputy Director for Strategy and Policy, Navy Planner, and Reconnaissance Systems Officer. Currently employed as a senior analyst with a top 5 defense firm, he has been heavily involved in the policy and operational side of ballistic and cruise missile defense the past seven years.
Listen live by going here. If you miss the live show, you can still listen to the show there or download it to your computer or pull it from iTunes.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

West Africa Pirates: Attack on Container Ship

Arrow points to area of attack
The headline reads, "Container Ship Pirated Off the Coast of Guinea" which implies a Somali-style ship grab. In reality, however, it was a more typical sea robbery event in which the pirates board, threaten, rob and leave the ship with their loot while the crew carries on.
MV Olivia
© Dragec

From the article:
. . . The safer waters of the Gulf of Guinea however have seen an increased threat and this week a pirate raid was made on the German owned container ship Olivia at around 04:00 hours on the 15th July.

At the request of the Handy Shipping Guide the owners, Bremen based Herm. Dauelsberg, issued a statement saying the vessel was boarded by a group of armed pirates some 20 nautical miles off Conakry who proceeded to rob the crew of valuables. Herm. Dauelsberg confirms that all seafarers on board Olivia are safe and accounted for and that there were no injuries to the crew. Following the attack, the crew has resumed command of the vessel which has now proceeded on her voyage to North Africa.

The Olivia is a 20,000+ dwt box carrier flagged in Liberia and built in 1995. The fact that the pirates did not take control of the vessel typifies the type of attack most often seen in this particular region as compared to East Africa and, although serious and extremely frightening for the crew, compares well with the savagery of the usual Somali piracy incidents.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Somali Pirates: China Reports Fishermen "Rescue"

China rescues fishermen held by Somali pirates for 18 months:
China has rescued a group of 26 fishermen, mainly Chinese and Vietnamese, who were taken from a Taiwanese trawler and had been held by Somali pirates for the last 18 months, the Chinese government has said.
Not much in the way of details have been provided.

UPDATE: A further report:
The crew consisted of 13 mainland Chinese, 12 Vietnamese and one Taiwanese.

Taiwan's foreign ministry said it had assisted in ransom talks between the boat's owner and the pirates, although it didn't say whether a ransom had been paid. It also thanked Beijing for its assistance in the rescue.

Chinese naval forces are looking after the fishermen and taking them to Tanzania, after which they will be sent home.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Persian Gulf: USNS Rappahannock Fires after Vessel ignores warnings

USNS Rappahannock Fires after Vessel ignores warnings:
An embarked security team aboard a U.S. Navy vessel fired upon a small motor vessel after it disregarded warnings and rapidly approached the U.S. ship near Jebel Ali, United Arab Emirates today.

In accordance with Navy force protection procedures, the sailors on the USNS Rappahannock (T-AO 204) used a series of non-lethal, preplanned responses to warn the vessel before resorting to lethal force.

Circled area includes Jebel Ali
The U.S. crew repeatedly attempted to warn the vessel's operators to turn away from their deliberate approach. When those efforts failed to deter the approaching vessel, the security team on the Rappahannock fired rounds from a .50-caliber machine gun.

The incident is under investigation.
UPDATE: Al Jazeera report:
A US navy vessel has fired on an approaching motor boat off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, killing one person and injuring three others, reports said.

Lieutenant Greg Raelson, a spokesman for the navy's Bahrain-based 5th Fleet, said on Monday that sailors aboard the USNS Rappahannock opened fire on the boat after it ignored warnings.

"US ships have an inherent right to self defense against potential threats... The safety of our vessels and our personnel is of the utmost priority," he told Al Jazeera in an email response to a query.

A US consular official in Dubai confirmed the incident, telling the Associated Press that one person was killed and three others injured.

Dozens of police and other Emirati officials crowded around the boat after it docked after the incident in a small Dubai port used by fishermen and sailors. The boat was removed from the port shortly afterward.

Rescue workers were seen carrying one person in a body bag off the white-hulled boat and placing it in an ambulance as fishermen looked on, AP reported.

The boat appeared to be a civilian vessel about 9 meters long and powered by three outboard motors.

Similar boats are used for fishing in the region, though Iran's Revolutionary Guard also employs relatively small, fast-moving craft in the Gulf.
UPDATE2: A timeline from the U.S. Navy:

Chinese frigate runs aground off Philippines - now off the rocks and headed home

"Chinese frigate removed" reports The Philippine Star:
A Jianghu class frigate
A Chinese naval frigate that ran aground close to Palawan while patrolling disputed waters in the West Philippine Sea was refloated yesterday, the Chinese embassy in Manila said.

The embassy, citing a report from its Ministry of National Defense Information Department, said the warship that stalled near Half Moon Shoal (Hasa Hasa) was refloated at around 5 a.m. yesterday.

The stranding occurred Wednesday in a shoal just 60 nautical miles off the town of Rizal in Palawan, within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone. The shoal is part of the Spratly Islands – which the Chinese call Nansha – a string of atolls and islands straddling vital shipping lanes in the South China Sea and believed to be sitting atop vast mineral deposits.
Red circle is around the Spratly Islands, red marker on Palawan, RP

“The grounded frigate near Nansha’s Half Moon Shoal was refloated successfully, with minor damage in the stern part,” the embassy said in a statement posted on its website.

“All the personnel aboard are safe. Now the preparation for return to the port is underway. No contamination has been caused in the incident area,” the update said.

Chinese embassy spokesman Zhang Hua said the vessel would sail back to port with minor damage.

The Department of National Defense (DND) also confirmed the stranded Chinese frigate was refloated.

“Based on reports from the Coast Guard, which has a vessel in the area, the ship is no longer in the Hasa Hasa Shoal,” DND spokesman Peter Galvez said.

UPDATE: ASEAN not much help to the Philippines, as reported in Philippines may not get help from neighbors on sea row:
Following the failure of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to issue a common statement regarding China's activities in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), foreign and Filipino experts believe that the Philippines may be unable to get the help it expects from its neighbors to resolve the dispute.

Saying economic interest of countries in the region may be the deciding factor, analysts said the Philippines' peers in the ASEAN may be unwilling to go out of their way to help the country in its territorial dispute against China.
The power of the Chinese pocketbook and the nearness of its growing navy are in evidence.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

On the LCS: Learning Curve Completion Too Costly

LCS versions
First, read "LCS: Quick Swap Concept Dead" from Defense News, then read CDR Salamander's "Another LCS Shoe Drops", then Galrahn's "The End of the Beginning for LCS".

Now, for some fun quotes from the Defense News piece:
The LCS, according to the assessments, is not able to fulfill most of the fleet missions required by the Navy’s primary strategy document . . .

Equipped with a surface warfare or maritime security mission package, the ships were judged capable of carrying out theater security cooperation and deterrence missions, and maritime security operations, such as anti-piracy.

LCS killer?
But the LCS vessels cannot successfully perform three other core missions envisioned for them — forward presence, sea control or power projection missions — and they can provide only limited humanitarian assistance or disaster relief operations, sources said.

A key LCS failure identified by the OPNAV report, sources said, is its inability to effectively defend against anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs), a weapon carried by hundreds of small, fast-attack craft operated by virtually all potentially hostile navies. These weapons include C-801 and C-802 Chinese missiles, Russian SS-N-2 Styx missiles, European weapons such as the Otomat and Exocet, and U.S.-made Harpoon missiles.

C-802 ASCM boxes on Pakistani warship
Navies that can launch ASCMs include those of China, North Korea, Iran and Syria. The weapons have taken on an added dimension since 2006, when the Israeli corvette Hanit was hit by a C-802 launched by a Hezbollah shore battery in Lebanon. humanitarian assistance or disaster relief operations, sources said.
Rowden also has asked the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) to study replacing the 57mm gun on both LCS designs with a 76mm weapon, similar to the weapon on today’s frigates.
The trouble with that weapon is that it can fit on Freedom LCS 1-class ships, but not on the narrow bow of the trimaran Independence LCS 2-class. “I don’t know if we can get it on both hulls,” Rowden acknowledged.
Now, let me pose a question to you. Suppose you had a choice of going to sea in a ship capable of "carrying out theater security cooperation and deterrence missions" (it can float!) and "maritime security operations, such as anti-piracy" (it can carry a RHIB, s security team and some machine guns and take on guys bobbing about in open boats carrying Ak-47's) or a cruiser or destroyer or even an amphibious ship capable of carrying lots of helicopters and Marines -- which vessel would you pick to go into harm's way and further the national security interests of the U.S.?

A more cost effective pirate fighter?
Which vessel - a job, I have previously suggested could also be done by converted offshore oil service boats at much less cost).

Do we really need to spend $300 million plus for a ship to fight pirates in open boats?
In fact, I doubt if the converted offshore boats could survive an ASCM attack either, but at least they don't cost $400,000,000 each.

Now, let me address a point my friend Galrahn makes in his post:
24 Littoral Combat Ships has always been a reasonable number for moving the most important concepts of the LCS down the road - like learning lessons about smaller crews, developing interchangeable (modular) payload system interfaces, understanding operational and deployment capacities with smaller ships with small crews, getting the training right for ships with rotational crews, and getting a solid understanding of what the operational challenges are when fielding distributed unmanned systems networks at sea.
I disagree with the need to spend additional tax payer money on these LCS ships to "move concepts" or gain the understandings he describes. The U.S. Navy has operated smaller ships with small crews for a couple of hundred years. The entire minesweeper fleet consisted of small, minimally manned crews and, in recent years, there have been "rotational" crewing of such ships. Where the hell are the "lessons learned" from those operations? Why do we need to spend 24 x $300,000,000 to scratch that itch again? I will bet that any former 'sweep CO will be full of useful suggestions on those concepts.

24 LCS hulls is going to be nearly 10% of the fleet of the future. Would you like to send your sons or daughters to sea in a "combatant" that is under-gunned, can't defend itself against known threats and may be carrying the wrong "module" at the wrong time? If so, just have them get the tattoo of a target on their foreheads. It will save time.

Further, if you want to demonstrate and play with "distributed unmanned systems networks at sea" - why not rent a fleet of those offshore oil service boats and go out and play all you want for a fraction of the cost of a single LCS?

No, there may be a perfect job for a vessel like the LCS, but building a couple of dozen is not the way to look for it. Warship capability ought to be driven by strategy, and strategy should not be driven by vessel limitations.

John Patch has some ideas for moving forward.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

On Midrats This Sunday: Episode 132: The Naval Author with R.L.Crossland

Episode 132: The Naval Author with R.L.Crossland 07/15 by Midrats | Blog Talk Radio:
The naval experience is fertile ground for an author of both fiction and non-fiction. How does real world experience inform that author, and how does fiction and non-fiction writing inform those serving today?

Our guest for the full hour will be author R. L. Crossland, Captain, USN (Retired). A SEAL, Captain Crossland served 35 years service, active and reserve, from Vietnam to Afghanistan.

Widely published on maritime unconventional warfare and naval history, he holds a merchant marine captain’s license and is a practicing trial lawyer. He resides in New England.

A graduate of Columbia College with a degree in history, and the Naval War College Command and Staff Course, Crossland has written internationally on the subject of maritime unconventional warfare and includes U. S. Naval Institute Proceedings and the New York Times among his credits. His articles “Rusty Hand of Steel” (Proceedings, December 1979) and “Unconventional Warfare Afloat” (Proceedings, November 1981) were required reading at the Naval War College for several years after their publication. His most recent article (Proceedings August 2009), "Sometimes the Insignificant is Significant," analyzes aspects of the rescue of the Maersk Alabama from Somali pirates.

His second novel, Jade Rooster, a mystery set in the 1913 Asiatic Fleet, allows him to apply his experience to the elements of intrigue that grow when the daily life of a sailor of an emerging navy in the age of coal-driven ships crosses courses with the then growing cross-tensions in the Far East.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Back from the Mountains

Back home again.

Regular blogging will begin shortly.

And those sea bass did a good job defending the homestead.

Remington "anticipated" my trip home in the picture nearby.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

To the Secret Mountain Lair!

Heading for the hills to escape the heat for a brief spell.

Posting may be spotty (well, more spotty than ususal).

Imagine the secret mountain lair as pictured nearby, but without the runway and other buildings:

Travel mode? I'm afraid we are violating the Private Droop rule*:

Home security? Ill tempered sea bass. Mutated, of course:

*H/T: Lone Sentry

Friday, July 06, 2012

Midrats Episode 131: "Afghanistan and Next" Sunday 5pm

Join us Sunday 5pm (Eastern U.S.) for Episode 131: Afghanistan and Next 07/08 by Midrats on Blog Talk Radio :
We have the war with us in Afghanistan that is winding down one phase, and the global security environment in front of us. What is going on now, and what are the options in the near and medium term that the national security decision makers need to make on budget priorities and strategic direction?

Our guest for the full hour will be retired US Army Colonel, Dr. Joseph J. Collins, Professor of National Security Strategy at National War College. He also served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Stability Operations, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, where he did research on economic sanctions, military culture, and national security policy.

Dr. Collins's many publications include books and articles on the Soviet war in Afghanistan, Operation Desert Storm, contemporary U.S. military culture, defense transformation, and homeland defense. including his book, Understanding War in Afghanistan. He writes frequently for Armed Forces Journal and the national security experts' blog of the National Journal.
As always, if you miss the live show, you can catch the episode at the Midrats BlogTalk Radio site or on our iTunes page.

Things You Ought to Read: "I, Pencil"

How about a short piece that, well, ought to warn of the dangers of arrogantly assuming that production of a needed good can be driven from above?

Or, as is written in the introduction to "I, Pencil",
This is a message that humbles the high and mighty. It pricks the inflated egos of those who think they know how to mind everybody else’s business. It explains in plain language why central planning is an exercise in arrogance and futility, or what Nobel laureate and Austrian economist F. A. Hayek aptly termed “the pretence of knowledge.”
You will find the entire work by Lawrence W. Reed here.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Pennsylvania Voter Identification Law: Let the Whining Begin!

Simple rule: No photo ID, no voting booth
Here's the headline: "Stringent voter ID law in Pa. could prevent 750,000 from voting." But if you look behind the numbers the headline is misleading. Here's the report:
New data released by Pennsylvania officials suggests that as many as 750,000 voters in the crucial battleground territory could be impacted by a stringent new voter ID law.

The law, passed this May ostensibly to prevent voter fraud, requires all voters in Pennsylvania to show a valid photo ID at the polls.

Among those acceptable forms of photo ID include a state-issued driver's license, a valid U.S. passport, a U.S. military ID, a government-issued employee ID, an ID card from an accredited Pennsylvania higher learning institution, or a photo ID card issued by a Pennsylvania care facility, such as an assisted living residence or personal care home.

According to the survey, 758,939 voters - 9.2 percent - could not be matched in state databases as having Pennsylvania driver's licenses, the most common form of photo ID in the state.

Of those 9.2 percent, about 22 percent - or 167,566 people - are categorized as "inactive" voters, according to the data. A person can be characterized as an "inactive" voter if he or she has not voted in five years and has not responded to a state inquiry about his or her current address. Federal and state law also mandate that an "inactive voter" be kept on the state registration list until he or she fails to vote in two consecutive general elections for federal office following the notification.

"Even though many voters identified in this comparison as not having PennDOT IDs are 'inactive voters', most of whom have not voted since 2007, we will err on the side of caution and include them in this mailing," said Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele in a statement released alongside the study.

Even if voters are classified as "inactive" with 100 percent accuracy, however, that leaves nearly 600,000 "active" voters who lack driver's licenses and may not be able to cast their votes on Election Day.
Or, if I were to write the story with a different slant:
Approximately 600,000 prospective voters in Pennsylvania need to get off their butts and find their way to a government office at which they can be issued a free photo ID capable of meeting the PA voting standards. "If they are too lazy or inept to get this done, it is doubtful that they should be voting in any case," said I.M. Ahack, a voting analyst from the University of Upper Yursnow, who continued, "After all if they can't find time between now and November to get a photo ID it's kind of sign of a lack of interest, don't you think?"

Another 167,566 former voters seem to have disappeared from the state as they haven't voted in PA in over 5 years and also haven't responded to state efforts to see if they are interested in voting. "Some of them may have moved out of state, gone to prison or died," theorized S.T. Atfreq from the voter registration section of the Demopublican party. "If they have died or moved, it'll be harder to get them registered, I suppose. Given that 750,000 total number reported by PennDOT only refers to those "voters" without driver's licenses it is possible that this whole report is a joke, because there are so many other forms of acceptable ID that some or all of these people may have. After all, I think you need some sort of photo ID to do everything in our society, like have a bank account, travel on an airplane, enter a federal building, and the like, so I think these numbers are way off."

The forms of ID allowed under PA law:

Reining in the Federal Government: "Chief Justice Roberts, You Fox You"

As I wrote earlier, I think that Chief Justice Roberts outwitted the forces pushing "Obamacare."

Here's another voice expressing what I meant, "Chief Justice Roberts, You Fox You" - Emmett Tyrrell:
Firstly, he reiterated two earlier holdings of the Court that ended the expansion of the commerce clause. The expansion of the federal government's reach under the commerce clause is no longer a grave threat to limited government. This offends certain Liberals such as our friends at The New York Times. Well, you win some and lose some, indignados.

Secondly, for the first time since the New Deal, the Court rejected a law for exceeding the spending power of Congress. The Court invalidated the part of Obamacare that gave the federal government the power to coerce state governments to spend money on Medicaid.

Thirdly, the Congress can now tax us for not doing something, but this power is not nearly so dangerous as the power that the Court limited, namely, the commerce power. Laws passed under Congress's power to tax and spend may only take our money. Our recourse against this tax is the same recourse we have been employing since 2009, to wit, mobilizing and going to the polls. In 2010, it led to an historic sweep at the state and federal level. In 2012, the sweep will continue landing Mitt Romney in the White House, where he says he will make repealing and replacing Obamacare his preeminent priority. He can also refuse to enforce the tax by executive order. The next Congress can repeal it using reconciliation to avoid a Senate filibuster if necessary. (emphasis added)
However, the key is to get out the vote and use it to boot out supporters of this awful law.

It is foolish to fault the Court for failing to protect us from the ideologues we allow to be elected to Congress.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Getting Ready for Disasters

As hurricane season nears and we already have had a summer full of odd stormy things, time to review your disaster preparation kits - see Get Ready! Disaster Preparedness Time!

And Are You Prepared for a Hurricane? Earthquake? Flood?:
Plan for 3 to 5 days on your own. It takes that long to mobilize help.
Remember to have tools with which to dig out from under and to move things from driveways, roads and off important things.

A couple of additions: A Self-Powered AM/FM/NOAA Weather Radio with Flashlight, Solar Power and Cell Phone Charger

and a good bow saw.

Water. Water. Water. Don't forget there are probably 40 or more gallons of nice clean water in your home water heater.

China: Big Defense Outlays, Some Cooperation at Sea

The Chinese Navy destroyer Qingdao (DDG 113) U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ben A. Gonzales
The headline reads, "China aligns with India, Japan on piracy patrols" but the headline is misleading.

There is "at sea" cooperation in one area of the world. But underlying that fact is the bigger story, the size of China's fleet:
China is closely cooperating with the navies of Japan and India in patrolling against piracy off Somalia, a sign of the country's greater willingness to work with other nations in safeguarding global trade despite mixed sentiments among Chinese toward the country's main Asian rivals.
"Chinese collaboration with other navies should be welcomed. The hope is that such cooperation will have a positive normative effect on the civilian and military leadership," said Toshi Yoshihara of the U.S. Naval War College.

China joined the Gulf of Aden anti-piracy patrols in late 2008, displaying the fruits of a 500 percent increase in defense outlays over the past 13 years that has allowed the Chinese navy to acquire latest-generation submarines, surface ships, and aircraft, along with an aircraft carrier now undergoing sea trials. In the gulf, it regularly rotates squadrons usually composed of a two warships and a support vessel, accompanied by special forces soldiers.
"It's politically expedient for them to 'go along to get along,' including cooperating with Japan," Rubel said.

Such pragmatism has limits, however. Rubel and Yoshihara say multinational cooperation isn't likely to produce a kinder, gentler Chinese navy when it comes to what China considers its sovereign "core interests," particularly in waters closer to China.

"I don't see this happening anytime soon, but it is certainly worth the effort to shape Chinese norms and perceptions," Yoshihara said.

And whatever breakthroughs are made with Japan and India, the Chinese navy's relationship with the U.S. Navy will remain problematic, particularly with plans by Washington to deploy 60 percent of its fleet worldwide to the Pacific by 2020.