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Monday, January 15, 2018

WE ARE LIVING IN HISTORICAL TIMES

Very little bores me more than history itself.  Sure, World War II and Adolf Hitler combined to make that period especially notable, and the Cold War with the peril of a nuclear winter was fearsome.  But that was more than a quarter century ago, and Russia is today a pale foe of dubious ferocity.  China has no interest in conquering the USA. 

Today, we have the consuming Islamic threat, and while limited to human bombs and similar low-level skirmishes, has the potential to spark another Gulf War and catalyze limited nuclear warfare.  At a more cataclysmic level, we're faced with Kim Jung Un versus Donald Trump and Global Warming. 

Trump, in particular, is especially dangerous to the future of Humanity, for he makes a mockery of anything having to do with the environment.  He pandered to fossil fuel development (moving this year to open offshore oil drilling--save for Florida, where he mostly lives these days) and abrogated the Paris Climate Accord Agreement, while making fun of Kim Jung Un as much as he can, even going so far as to now hate the Wall Street Journal for reporting false news that he has good relations with the Chubby Leader of North Korea.  CNN I can understand, but the WSJ generally admires Republicans. 

Here is my current take on our PUS#45 Donald Trump:
  • He got elected by a previously unimaginable amalgam of anti-Clinton/elite, anti-establishment, xenophobic and American preservationist (supposedly 20% of population--less educated, lower income, immigration skeptics, and, well, racially biased) outsiders.
  • He got just enough votes from this motley crew, that he will not again gain anywhere close to those numbers because his demented tweets have lost almost half of them.
  • Then you add suspicions about his state of mind (see my posting of Fire and Fury), compounding an already known fusion of boastfulness, ego, arrogance, narcissism and misogyny, and you have the most powerful man in the world a finger away from destroying Humanity as we currently know it.
As I posted on Saturday, I already experienced what was kind of a scary moment, that false alarm about North Korean missiles heading to Hawaii.  Actually, I would rate my fear level as two, although the local average of those who got the message must have been something closer to 8, with 9 and 10 being anything from jumping off a cliff to actually doing something you would only if you knew you had twenty minutes to live.    Those above photos over Honolulu are of U.S. nuclear test bombs in the Pacific. 

Why I was mostly non-concerned was that the 15 Craigside announcement system has had so many cry wolf incidents that you really can't take anything coming out of the intercom so serious so seriously.  But I was at least sufficiently jarred to check with the various forms of media.


My larger worry, in any case, is not Kim Jung Un ordering missiles to Hawaii.  Although, if threatened by some coup attempt, he could well order firing off his nuclear arms in spite just to doom his rivals.  In any case, I am a lot more uneasy about my President doing something insanely stupid, which is almost a daily occurrence these days.

Also today there was an op-ed debate in the Star-Advertiser:  Downsize U.S. military in 2018?  You can personally read the con (James Jay Carafano) and pro (John B. Quigly) points of view, but let me summarize (note:  the newspaper mistakenly reversed the logic, so YES means don't downsize, while NO agrees with the question):
  • YES (the italicized comments within the parentheses are mine):
    • Feel free to ignore his tweets, but Trump possesses a remarkable clarity of vision about national security.
    • Trump's strategy is to split the difference between George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
    • We don't have that much military.
    • Over the past four presidents, we have under-invested in our Armed Forces.  (Yes, but the Cold War ended in 1991.  Further see the NO response about much the USA spends on war today compared to other countries.)
    • Military is too small to meet global commitments.
  • NO (my comments are again italicized):
    • There is something called sequestering, which the Congress placed on itself, which limited Defense spending in FY2018 to $590 billion.
    • Congress gave Trump $700 billion, which is causing some legal problems.  The vaunted Military-Industrial Complex got their way.
    • This expanded budget gave the Pentagon more money than what it wanted for equipment and personnel.  The Navy, for example, asked for 8 new ships...and got 13.
    • The current military strategy is higher emphasis on high-tech, but fewer boots on the ground.  The Army, Marine Corps, Air Force and Navy got 16,200 more troops than requested.
    • Russia spends 10% ($70B vs $700B) and China 31% (but 7% compared to the U.S. on a per/capita basis).
    • to quote Quigly:

Our excess is apparent from comparing with other countries. We now spend more on military than is spent by the next highest 11 countries of the world. We account for nearly 40 percent of total world military expenditures.

To repeat, Quigley indicated we spend more on our military than the next 11 (eleven) highest countries, including Russia and China.  And we have no threatening enemy.  According to The Nation just this week:

     Trump Is On His Way to Record-setting Defense Spending in 2018:  as the President doubles  down on wars abroad, companies like Boeing stand to reap billions.

Finally, another piece of history.  On 21 November 2011, the U.S. News and World Report published a debate on the question:


Eight defense spending experts and I (I'm not) were selected to debate this issue.  Votes were compiled.  I lost.  I came in #2 to Representative Ron Paul, who was then a candidate for the Presidency.  Here is my statement.  Oh, Rep. J. Randy Forbes, Chairman of the House Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee also participated.  He came in close to last.  Here is his statement.

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Tropical Cyclone Berguitta's path seems to have moved closer to Reunion:


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