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Sunday, October 16, 2016

OUR U.S. SENATE IS USELESS AND HOPELESS...But Maybe for a Reason

SOMETHING EXTRAORDINARY HAPPENED YESTERDAY.  THE MOST VISITORS I PREVIOUSLY HAD TO THIS BLOG SITE IN ONE DAY WAS AROUND 3500.  

THE CURRENT 24-HOUR PERIOD...APPROACHING 12,000.  You can read that blog article by scrolling to the next posting.

Specifically, I pick on the U.S. Senate because I once worked there and know too well the skeletons.  You can also say that all governments, save maybe for Singapore--which was a benevolent dictatorship, and now more a beneficent democracy--are also congenitally defective.  The international counterpart of the Senate is the Security Council of the United Nations, and it is worse.  Add the U.S. House of Representatives and the General Assembly as impossibly despairing.  

But Donald Trump is wrong, wrong, wrong...about the United States.  We are great today and will only get better.  Let's start by comparing our military capability.  We would quickly destroy Genghis Khan, the Roman Empire and Great Britain, at their peaks.  Current military spending?

Can you believe we annually spend more than the next nine countries, combined?  But you can be fooled by statistics, for on a per capita basis (million $/person), the top six of seven are not even in the above pie chart:
  • Saudi Arabia  6909
  • Singapore      2385
  • Israel              1882
  • USA                1859
  • Kuwait            1289
  • Norway          1245
  • Greece           1230
Lets talk aircraft carriers, except any naval expert will tell you that in a real war, they're as good as gone.  Aircraft carriers are obsolete, but nevertheless great for posturing and helping out at natural disasters.  The USA has ten in active service...the rest of the world has 9, total.  China?  One, and it started out as an unfinished carrier from the Ukraine...the Ukraine!  It is almost 20 years old, as it was first launched in 1988, but in 1992 it still did not have any electronics.  Towed to Dalian in 1998,  the Liaoning is sort of now operational.  No, that's our USS Gerald Ford to the left, to be commissioned next year at an expected cost of $14 billion.

NINE more Fords will be built, if the Navy has its way.  This is crazy and insane, for two task forces  would be sufficient.

Of course, our Military-Industrial Complex keeps surfacing drawings of the next Chinese carrier to keep Congressional expenditures up.  Five years ago this ship was supposed to be ready by 2015:


  • USA               2802
  • Soviet Union 1204
  • Great Broom   873
  • Germany         824
  • France             822
  •  
  •  
  • China             596
More recently:


The best universities in the world?  The top ten:
  • Harvard
  • Stanford
  • Cal at Berkeley
  • Cambridge
  • MIT
  • Princeton
  • Oxford
  • CalTech
  • Columbia
  • Chicago
Other lists sometimes include UC San Diego, Washington and Yale.  Save for Cambridge and Oxford, all American.

Immigrants keep coming in and very few of our citizens leave.  Sure, there is that odd criminal, tax dodger or idiot that emigrates, but we do have freedom, liberty and a generally free enterprise.  There is no better country.  WE ARE THE BEST, EVER!  Europe is a basket case, China is metastable, Russia is getting really old and Japan will maybe never recover from Fukushima.

But back to the U.S. Senate, from the title at the top, I worked there for three years more than a third of a century ago.  Sorry, I keep using this photo because this is the only one of myself in the chambers.  I'm the youngest guy to the right.  

I wrote original legislation for hydrogen and ocean thermal energy conversion that became law.  I helped initiate the national wind energy program and spearheaded passage of the deep seabed mining legislation.  This is where I encountered the Law of the Sea Treaty.  Thirty four years later, the Senate has still not ratified this treaty.  Oh, there are others awaiting action:
  • International Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize (1949)
  • International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1978)
  • Human Rights (1978)
  • Discrimination Against Women (1980)
  • International Trade in Endangered Species (1983)
  • Convention on Biological Diversity (1993)
  • Law of the Sea (1994)
  • Comprehensive Nuclear Ban Treaty (1997)
  • Illicit Manufacturing and Trafficking in Firearms, etc. (1998)
  • Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (2002)
  • Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution (2007)
There are many more pending:  Ottawa Treaty (land-mine ban), Rights of Child (we are the only holdouts with Somalia), Biological Weapons (we are the only one against this), Rights of Migrant Workers, Suppression of Terrorist Bombings, Status of Refugees, Kyoto Accords (the famous global warming agreement), Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, UN Arms Trade Treaty and Tobacco Control.  Oh, by the way, President Obama's signing of the Paris Global Warming Accord with China's Xi?  The Senate won't ratify it, even if the Democrats gain control.  I Googled, What Treaties has the U.S. Senate recently passed?  Nothing.  You try it. 

Why doesn't the Senate pass most of the above?  You can read books on this subject, but my take is that our country doesn't want to be told by others what to do.  The U.S. Senate is the gatekeeper to keep America Great and Independent from the rest of the world.  Maybe that's why it is what it is.

When I worked there the U.S. Senate was a club for mostly distinguished white men.  In person, they were awkwardly kind to each other.  There is now more animosity and some diversity, as there are 20 women, the largest number ever, although 94% remain Caucasian.  In the House, the majority of Democratic members are now made up of women, Blacks, Hispanics and other ethnic minorities...60%.

True, our infrastructure is a shambles (our airports, for example, are an embarrassment--these are plans for Changi Airport in Singapore), our next generation lacks the right motivation and our inner cities are still in crisis.  Mind you, our slums were even more dangerous in the past, and it it will take another generation or two or three for education and economic factors to better equalize our society.  So we are far from perfect.  But we're getting there.

Look at yourself.  Are you perfect?  We all have flaws, and when we compound these defects in a whole society, perfection is today only a utopian dream.  Some day, I hope, maybe a scenario millennia away, Humanity will attain something close to Paradise.  I'm an optimist.  Religion has co-opted this scenario with a brilliant destination called Heaven.   To my amazement, the great majority of Homo sapiens believes this. Ah, this is Sunday, so let me just leave you with some hope for your Shangri-la, here or elsewhere.  I myself face eternal gloom soon, so will live it up as best as I can now.  In a week I leave, again, for the Orient.

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Typhoon Haima at 85 MPH will soon attain Category 5 strength and cause severe problems for northern Philippines:


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