The End of the Tank in Warfare

The End of the Tank in Warfare, by Tim Kirby. The US Marine Corps is getting rid of its tanks, because new technologies render them obsolete. Anther king of the battlefield is retiring, like knights and legions before them.

The cliché that we are always planning to fight our “father’s war” is proven to be true time and again over the course of history. The conservatively-minded well-trained generals of the Confederacy expected a purely Napoleonic campaign of musket and bayonet, and what they got was the dawn of industrialized war. The French were sure that WWI would involve volley fire and cavalry looking sharp in their bright red “pantaloons”. And, the U.S. entered Vietnam with the mindset and strategies of fighting the Axis powers, “if we just drop enough bombs, they’ll surrender for sure”. …

However, this restructure of the Marines could be the exception to the rule.

During the Iraq War(s) it became apparent that the U.S. with forces designed to fight a Cold War were perfect for crushing Saddam Hussein’s traditional army within days. Now holding the very same country during an insurgency with those forces, that is another story.

The Abrams which performed brilliantly against Iraq’s tanks became a sitting duck in tight urban environments where it could be hit and crippled by local yokels with primitive RPGs. Urban environments provide opportunities to strike a tank from angles that reduce the effectiveness of its armor. …

Essentially, big armored targets are not as useful for war in the 21st century, when the offensive weapons that can take them out are extremely cheap by comparison, and new generations of cheap(er) anti-tank weapons continue to be developed. …

The core of the decision to restructure seems to have come from wargames in 2018-2019. These exercises played out a proxy style conflict between the U.S. and other entities in the sands of the Middle-East. The Marine Times broke down the results of the wargames as follows…

But tanks and armored vehicles have had trouble surviving against the threat of precision strike and the plethora of drone and reconnaissance systems flooding conflict zones across the Middle East.”

They also presented experience from Turkey’s moves in Syria that support the theory that tanks are going out of fashion quickly…

“Turkey posted videos highlighting a mixed role of drones, Paladin artillery systems and aircraft pounding Syrian armor from the skies over the course of several days. The Syrian army appeared helpless to defend from the onslaught of long range systems. Even tanks camouflaged by buildings and bushes were no match for sensors and thermal imaging watching from the skies.”

These exercises probably were the nail in the coffin for the Abrams and a big motivation to buy more drones.

Lots of tank porn and some interesting commentary on US Marine tankers:

Patterns of COVID-19 Mortality and Vitamin D: An Indonesian Study

Patterns of COVID-19 Mortality and Vitamin D: An Indonesian Study. By Glenn Reynolds.

A Facebook friend’s succinct summary of the findings in this study:

Just under half (49.7%) of cases had normal vitamin D status, and only 4% of them died. Just over a quarter (27%) had insufficient vitamin D status, and most of them (88%) died. Just under a quarter (23%) had deficient vitamin D status, and almost all of them (99%) died.

This is one thing you can do — get more sun. It also helps explain why countries in summer and countries near the equator are not being hit as hard by the virus.

The Economy: It’s Different This Time

The Economy: It’s Different This Time. By Charles Hugh Smith.

Here are a few of the many consequential differences between all previous recessions and the current situation:

1. Households have never been so dependent on debt as a substitute for stagnating wages.

2. Real earnings (adjusted for inflation) have never been so stagnant for the bottom 90% for so long.

3. Corporations have never been so dependent on debt (selling bonds or taking on loans) to fund money-losing operations (see Netflix) or stock buybacks designed to saddle the company with debt service expenses to enrich insiders.

4. The stock market has never been so dependent on … stock buybacks … to push valuations higher.

5. The economy has never been so dependent on absurdly overvalued stock valuations to prop up pension funds and the spending of the top 10% who own 85% of all stocks, i.e. “the wealth effect.”

6. The economy and the stock market have never been so dependent on central bank free money for financiers and corporations, money creation for the few at the expense of the many, what amounts to an embezzlement scheme.

7. Federal statistics have never been so gamed, rigged or distorted to support a neofeudal agenda of claiming a level of wide-spread prosperity that is entirely fictitious. …

9. The economy has never been in such thrall to sociopaths who have mastered the exploitation of the letter of the law while completely overturning the spirit of the law.

10. Households and companies have never been so dependent on “free money” gained from asset appreciation based on speculation, not an actual increase in productivity or value. …

14. The corrupt linkage of political power, media ownership, “national security” agencies and corporate power has never been so widely accepted as “normal” and “unavoidable.”

15. Primary institutions such as higher education, healthcare and national defense have never been so dysfunctional, ineffective, sclerotic, resistant to reform or costly.

16. The economy has never been so dependent on constant central bank manipulation of the stock and housing markets. …

We are coming to the crescendo of a three hundred year experiment in money and banking. It began as European states — needing money to raise armies — relaxed the restrictions of centuries on fractional reserve banking, and created central banks. Allowing some the privilege of creating money out of thin air is pretty much a one-way path, and we are about to enter a new phase.

Trump says China wants him to lose his bid for re-election

Trump says China wants him to lose his bid for re-election, by Steve Holland.

President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he believes China’s handling of the coronavirus is proof that Beijing “will do anything they can” to make him lose his re-election bid in November. …

Asked whether he was considering the use of tariffs or even debt write-offs for China, Trump would not offer specifics. “There are many things I can do,” he said. “We’re looking for what happened.”

“China will do anything they can to have me lose this race,” said Trump. He said he believes Beijing wants his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, to win the race to ease the pressure Trump has placed on China over trade and other issues.

“They’re constantly using public relations to try to make it like they’re innocent parties,” he said of Chinese officials.

Trump erupts at campaign team as his poll numbers slide

Trump erupts at campaign team as his poll numbers slide, by Zeke Miller.

President Donald Trump erupted at his top political advisers last week when they presented him with worrisome polling data that showed his support eroding in a series of battleground states as his response to the coronavirus comes under criticism. …

While Trump saw some of the best approval ratings of his presidency during the early weeks of the crisis, aides highlighted the growing political cost of the crisis and the unforced errors by Trump in his freewheeling press briefings.

Trump reacted with defiance, incredulous that he could be losing to someone he viewed as a weak candidate.

“I am not f—-ing losing to Joe Biden,” he repeated in a series of heated conference calls with his top campaign officials, according to five people with knowledge of the conversations. …

The message to the president was sobering: Trump was trailing the former Democratic vice president in many key battleground states, he was told, and would have lost the Electoral College if the election had been held earlier this month. …

“We built the greatest economy in the world,” Trump has said publicly. “I’ll do it a second time.”

Trump’s political team warned that the president’s path to reelection depends on how quickly he can bring about a recovery.

COVID death tolls could be 60% higher than official numbers

COVID death tolls could be 60% higher than official numbers, by Joanne Nova. Combined stats from 13 European countries, by the Financial Times:

People are dying of heart attacks because they are too scared to go to hospital, but equally, Covid is causing heart attacks and strokes that might never have happened. It’s fair to ask how many deaths are due to Coronavirus and how many are due to the lockdown, but it’s not realistic to expect that we can do an autopsy on every single patient. And as the Financial Times team points out, the excess deaths also occur in the regions of the UK with the highest infection rates — which suggests they are due to the virus, not just collateral damage. Though people will also be less willing to visit a hospital in a zone where there are more cases. On the other hand, in areas with lockdowns but no major outbreaks, the mortality rates are 10% below normal (see many US states). So these peaks could have been even higher but the lockdown saved some people from catching the normal flu or dying in a car accident.

Here’s How the Media Will Fix Biden’s #MeToo Problem

Here’s How the Media Will Fix Biden’s #MeToo Problem. By Larry O’Connor.

Pressure is mounting for former Vice President Joe Biden to finally address the allegations made by Tara Reade, a former staffer when Biden was a senator in the mid-1990s.

Up until now, the legacy media has formed a bit of a barricade around the Democrat’s presumptive nominee for president by simply ignoring the story altogether, a privilege they did not afford now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation process. …

The double standard in how media outlets treated unfounded, uncorroborated allegations against Kavanaugh and their outright denial of the mere existence of the much more credible and detailed allegations against Biden borders on the criminally absurd.

How the left/media will play this blatant hypocrisy:

Biden will grant an exclusive, one-on-one interview with a friendly, female journalist (I mean, there are many to choose from.) The interview will probably be for 60 Minutes (Leslie Stahl, I’m thinking) and the interview will be pre-recorded so the news outlet will have the opportunity to make Biden look his best.

Biden will have well-rehearsed and tested answers to questions about Reade’s allegations. His wife, Jill Biden, will be sitting next to him and she will do much of the heavy lifting. Both Bidens will pretend that this whole ordeal has been such a burden and they will thread the needle of dragging Reade through the slime while still maintaining that women should be believed, just not this woman.

And five to seven minutes later it will be over. And that will be that.

No other news outlet will feel compelled to raise the issue. No other Democrat will need to answer to Ms. Reade’s allegations. They’ll all have the same rehearsed answer. “Joe’s already spoken to these allegations. It’s old news. Nobody cares. Move on.”

And the media will, in fact, move on.

This is how they do it. It’s how they’ve done it in the past. It’s how they’ll do it this time.

The job of the media is to make the left look good.

The Hard Road Ahead

The Hard Road Ahead, by Rod Dreher.

There are no miracle drugs yet proven. Herd immunity is much too far away, expensive in lives and economic dislocation, and short-lived even if we could achieve it. Lifting restrictions risks a second wave, as has already happened in Singapore and Germany. Apart from getting more sun, what can we do? The short-term outlook is grim.

I doubt very much that most Americans will be able and willing, either psychologically or economically, to continue this lockdown for much longer. What happens when big, angry crowds of people who have lost their livelihoods, their homes, and their futures take to the streets demanding action — and the government is incapable of giving it to them?

This is the stuff of which revolutions are made. I’ve been saying in this space for some time — long before the pandemic — that the United States is in a pre-totalitarian state, according to the measures laid out by Hannah Arendt in The Origins of Totalitarianism. Widespread loneliness, social atomization, loss of faith in institutions, a mania for ideology — these and other factors were present and worsening before the pandemic struck. What kept us together in spite of them was our relative wealth.

Now, because of the coronavirus, we are staring into the face of mass impoverishment — and nobody, except for the superrich, is safe from it. Keep in mind too that the failure of the Russian imperial government to respond effectively to the 1891-92 famine there profoundly undermined confidence in the regime, and helped set the stage for the later revolution.

hat-tip Stephen Neil

The Loss Of Dignity

The Loss Of Dignity, by the Z-Man.

If you step back and think about it, the normal man can probably list a dozen things he cannot say in public that he grew up hearing on television, usually as jokes. Then the jokes were no longer welcome in polite company and soon they were deemed “not funny” by the sorts of people who worry about such things. The same was true of simple observations about the world. Somehow noticing the obvious became impolite, then it became taboo and finally prohibited.

The reverse is true as well. Middle-aged men can probably think of a dozen things that were unimaginable or unheard of, which are now fully normal. Of course, normal is one of those things that is now prohibited. It implies that something can be abnormal or weird and that itself is forbidden. The proliferation of novel identities and activities that demand to be treated with dignity and respect is a function of the old restraints having been eliminated.  …

Of course, none of what we generally call political correctness is intended to be uplifting or inspirational. The commissars of public morality like to pretend it is inspiring, but that’s just a way to entertain themselves. These new identity groups are not demanding the rest of us seek some higher plane of existence or challenge our limitations. In fact, it is always in the opposite directions. It’s a demand to lower standards and give up on our quaint notions of self-respect and human dignity. …

The death of dignity:

Modern liberal democracy awards dignity by default. We are supposed to respect all choices and all behaviors as being equal. There are no standards against which to measure human behavior, other than the standard of absolute, unconditional acceptance. As a result, the most inventively degenerate and base activities spring from the culture, almost like a test of the community’s tolerance. Instead of looking up to the heavens for inspiration, liberal democracies look down in the gutter.

Dignity comes from maintaining one’s obligations to his position in the social order, but that requires a fidelity to a social order.

If everyone must get prizes, no one really gets a prize. Even our six year old worked that out, after receiving a prize at school assembly — quite indifferent, because everyone knew that everyone got one prize sometime during the school year.

Wuhan lab ‘most likely’ coronavirus source, U.S. government analysis finds

Wuhan lab ‘most likely’ coronavirus source, U.S. government analysis finds, by Bill Gertz.

“All other possible places of the virus’ origin have been proven to be highly unlikely,” the document concludes. A copy of the report, compiled this month, was obtained by The Washington Times. …

The document, compiled from open sources and not a finished product, says there is no smoking gun to blame the virus on either the Wuhan Institute of Virology [WIV] or the Wuhan branch of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, both located in the city where the first outbreaks were reported. …

Patient zero probably worked at the WIV:

Another piece of circumstantial evidence cited in the paper is the mysterious disappearance of Huang Yanling. Those seeking the origin of SARS-CoV-2 suspect the laboratory worker is “patient zero,” the first known human infected with the virus.

“Huang worked at WIV but she is the only WIV employee whose biography, profile and picture have been deleted by WIV on its website, fueling speculation of foul play,” the report said.

The institute issued a firm denial. It said Ms. Huang is healthy and has left the institute and moved to another province to work.

“But Huang herself has never appeared in public and she has since disappeared,” the report said, noting that her whereabouts fueled widespread inquiries among Chinese on the internet.

China in March imposed restrictions on all publication regarding the origin of the virus.