Howdy All, a few Interesting Items for your information. Enjoy –
In this issue:
- Soleimani. President Trump took out the head of Iran’s military, Qassem Soleimani in an airstrike on the road outside Baghdad airport perhaps 10 days ago. The strike, likely using a Hellfire missile from a drone, also removed the head (figuratively and literally) of one of the largest Shiite militias in Iraq. The road to the airport was a favorite location for Iranian IUDs targeting US troops to and from the airport every single day in the years following the Second Gulf War. Ironically, it was Soleimani who came up with the concept, the factories producing the weapons in Iran, their smuggling into Iraq, and their use against US and other allied forces in the 17 years following that war. What comes around, goes around. The strike was significant, as Soleimani was intimately involved in planning and execution of the attack on the US embassy in Baghdad the previous week. He was also the brains behind the Benghazi attack. Apparently, he thought that Trump had been bitten by the appeasement bug like his previous four predecessors. Trump hadn’t. In response, Iranians immediately went into their Death to America routine, turning out massive crowds for his funeral. His remains were identified by a finger with a ring on it. They were flown back to Tehran in a cardboard box that got an entire row of seats on one side of the aisle. The Iranian response to the strike was to launch at least 12 (and perhaps as many as 22) short range ballistic missiles from Iran into Iraq. These targeted a US base in western Iraq, though at least one hit Erbil in northern Iraq. At least four of the missiles failed shortly after launch. The Iranians also warned Iraq that a strike was inbound, and that warning somehow made its way to the US. For their part, the Iranian military did not cause any US casualties, which is Trump’s red line, which may or may not be intentional. Iranian air defense was sufficiently on edge that they mistakenly identified a Ukrainian airliner on climb out from Baghdad as an enemy and shot it down with a surface to air missile. The pilot retained control long enough to start making a turn back toward the airport before exploding. Soleimani was perhaps the most powerful secular official in the entire nation, second only in actual power to the Ayatollah. He was busily creating proxy armies in Iraq, Yemen and Syria like he had with Hezbollah in Lebanon, as a vehicle to control the governments and populations and continue his war on the proudly Infidel. The goal as always is to remove the US from the Middle East and Israel from the face of the earth. Soleimani was sufficiently contemptuous of US action to brazenly fly into Baghdad. His recent choice to expand his operations targeting embassies and consulates was what ultimately sealed his fate. Apparently, there were at least four similar attacks far along in the planning process.
- Reaction. The reaction to the shootdown was predictable and in some cases, hilarious, as democrats and their media cheerleaders immediately went into terminal appeasement mode. Not only did they beg forgiveness from the Iranians for the strike, but they actively lionized Soleimani, who was by all accounts a vicious murderer of everyone across the Middle East who was not a slavish supporter of the Iranian revolution and his interpretation of it. Most interesting analysis (at least to me) came from Scott Adams who suggested that Soleimani might have been the largest speed bump on the road to a peace deal between the US and Iran. In short, he believes that Soleimani was sufficiently large in Iran (totally in charge of the military, state security and all the industries that support and enable them), that the Mullahs were not in charge at all. As such, we might be closer to peace than ever before rather than war. Democrat presidential candidates universally blasted the strike, accusing Trump of acting recklessly and taking us closer to war. Their media cheerleaders spent most of the time lionizing Soleimani, warning of full-scale war with Iran, and questioning Trump’s (lack of) decision-making process. The strike also led to multiple memes, most of them hilarious, one of which is at the beginning of this item. Democrats in the House criticized Trump for not telling congress before the strike, something they would have immediately leaked to their media cronies who would in turn tip off the Iranians. Final reaction was a House resolution ratcheting back Trump’s ability to conduct warfare without congressional approval. It should be brought to the floor of the Senate early this week. Reaction in Iran was not quite what was expected with the orchestrated anti-US riots looking tightly scripted. Soleimani did not just kill people outside Iran. As the head of state security and military, he had killed many, many Iranians protesting, something that was well known on the street. He was not nearly as beloved as the Iranian regime and US media would have us believe. We appear to be living in Interesting Times.
- Oz. There have been a series of brush fires mainly in eastern Oz over the last month. Reaction to these have been sadly predictable, with one side claiming mismanagement and the other claiming climate change. As it turns out, what is actually going on is a combination of mismanagement of the public lands and arson. Like we saw in California, when you set up a management structure that all but prohibits removal of flammable undergrowth, sooner or later, that undergrowth will burn. While controlled burns are part of the national fire control program in Oz, due to green obstructionism, their use is few and far between. Add to that the over 183 arrests so far for arson, and you have a big, big problem. While all this is happening, climate alarmists are claiming this mismanagement and wanton destruction is evidence of climate change. Hardly.
- Wolves. The latest green attack on ranchers and hunters is coming in the form of a ballot initiative to reintroduce grey wolves into Colorado. The Rocky Mountain Wolf Action Fund submitted over 211,000 signatures to put the ballot measure on the 2020 ballot. Wolf predation is a large, growing problem in six other states that they have been reintroduced into. In Wyoming, they have knocked elk population down 90% of what it was before the wolves were reintroduced. Livestock owners are supposedly compensated for their losses. Unfortunately, when those losses occur on the open range and the carcass is not discovered until days to weeks afterwards. Wolf predation is not able to be proven and compensation claims denied. In Colorado, the greens propose that compensation come out of an existing wildlife management cash fund currently funded by hunting license sales. This ballot initiative targets hunters in two ways. First by actively targeting what they hunt by reintroducing a primary predator. Second, by swinging all management monies to compensating ranchers for losses due to wolves. Somehow, I don’t think this is an accident.
- Offutt. You can write all the rules and regulations you want to write, but when you promote blithering idiots to command, it really doesn’t matter what those written words say or mean. Latest example of this comes from Offutt Air Force Base, whose newly installed 55th Wing Commander decreed that the transportation of privately owned firearms on the base with few exceptions are prohibited. Ownership and carry of weapons by military members, their families and other employees and contractors has been a growing issue ever since Army Major Hasan shot up Fort Hood, killing 13 and injuring 30 more. The latest example of this was at Pensacola when a Saudi aviation student opened fire on a receiving room for new students. While the O’Bama regime did their level best to ignore the Fort Hood shooting, public outcry and congress didn’t. Legislation was passed allowing non-military police to carry on base at the discretion of commanders. Of course, most of that discretion was used to turn military installations into free fire zones for Islamists. Perhaps we need a modification of the UCMJ to more finely focus the attention of cowardly Commanders on reality. For example, any commander who does not allow concealed carry on base will be liable for prison time or worse under a charge of dereliction of duty should a terrorist attack happen on base under his or her watch.
- Climate. Forbes ran an extended article just after New Year’s Day about how billionaires Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg managed to corrupt climate science. What these guys have done was to take an extreme outlier future climate scenario from the UN IPCC, adopt it as the most likely one, and sell it as the climate future waiting for all of us unless their recommendations were immediately adopted. There are a lot of scenarios out there, lots of model results, and these guys intentionally took the most unlikely, most hair-raising and most intentionally frightening one, pushing it via political campaigns well-orchestrated by non-profits and NGOs they funded in an attempt to turn and corrupt public opinion in support of their preferred solution. Names involved in this cabal included Steyer, Bloomberg, Bill McKibben, John Podesta and former Bush Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson. Their groups created economic impact reports based on the extreme climate scenario designed to document the predicted future economic crash due to climate change. In short, their billions were spent crying wolf, and they’ve been doing this since 2014.
- Reefs. One of the things we have seen in academia is a coordinated assault on free speech, especially targeting dissenting views on various climate scares. Susan Crockford’s firing from University of Victoria over her research proving that polar bears are not threatened is a recent example. Another firing was Peter Ridd by James Cook University (JCU) in Oz. His expertise is in the Great Barrier Reef, which is incessantly held up as dying due to manmade global warming due to CO2 emissions. Ridd did actual science and found that the reef is very healthy and none of the pathologies trotted out by the glo-warmers are taking place, though fertilizer runoff from farming does damage the reefs. (Solution? Quit overusing fertilizer. What a concept.) For this, JCU started taking disciplinary action against him 2016 culminating in his firing. He sued and won reinstatement. JCU has appealed. Interesting article out of Jo Nova last week finds that nobody doing actual science on the Great Barrier Reef has been sufficiently interested in claims of its shrinking growth rates (which would lead to an inevitable decline in overall coverage of the reef) to take any measurements for the last 15 years. The claim of decline was made using measurements taken 1990 – 2005. If that decline had continued until today, another 15 years later, the total reef coverage would have shrunk by 30%. It hasn’t. Have they stopped taking measurements? Or (more likely) have more recent measurements found things that do not support their previously conclusions and have quietly shelved the entire discussion? Basic question for the climatistas continue: If this is so serious and real, why do you have to make things up?
- Leviathan. Guess who else just became a natural gas exporter? The Israelis started pumping natural gas from their new Leviathan natural gas field at year’s end. There is so much natural gas in the field 130 km west from Haifa that they are setting up export agreements with Egypt and Jordan for the natural gas. Pipeline segments for import are generally underwater, out of the reach of Palestinian terrorists. Greece and Cyprus are getting into the act, signing offshore natural gas import / export agreements for natural gas out of the eastern Mediterranean. Looks like the Turks are going to get themselves involved with claims over large sections of the eastern Med. But in this one, the Israelis are first. And they are now energy independent.
More later –