President Trump has been making news with desire to close trade gaps with China, Europe, Mexico and Canada, attempting to counter trade practices that make it significantly more difficult to export to these countries and have resulted in a significant trade gap with the world. While we keep focusing on these big countries, I think we’re missing opportunities that are presenting themselves in Africa.
I really liked Anthony Bourdain’s shows. And while I don’t know Kate Spade, I didn’t like the news that she also committed suicide.
But I’ve written before on suicide (here, if you’d like an older article), and I’ve been watching young people over the last ten years. I honestly don’t think it’s going to get any better in the short term.
A friend of mine that was ordained last year happened to be passing through the area, so I invited him to join my family for dinner. He’s visited us before, and every time he does my kids and wife line up questions galore about Catholicism, what they hear in school, and other topics. After the kids went to bed, I asked Father what the latest challenge he’s had with things the Pope says.
Plenty of people like and don’t like Pope Francis, but similar to President Trump, I think he gets misquoted a lot. Anytime I have non-Catholic friends gleefully tell me they heard the Pope support homosexual unions, or abortion, or some other crazy thing, I normally do a bit of digging first before finding that they referenced a CNN article instead of actually reading source documentation.
I’m lucky. This week, I’m at a Navy veteran’s group to present a well deserved award to one of my Sailors. It’s held in a nice hotel, and the group of veterans are great to hang out with. You’d think everything would be great.
But there are problems, specifically one problem: I’m the youngest person in the group. This veteran’s group, like so many others, is struggling to attract new veteran’s into its membership. Young enlisted Sailors, and especially young officers, just aren’t joining groups like AMVETS, American Legion or the VFW like they have in the past. This isn’t a new phenomenon, but it’s becoming a big concern now as our World War 2, Vietnam Conflict and Korean Conflict veterans are passing away in large numbers. These groups are at risk of disappearing altogether.
I am completely confused by the headlines. First, any North Korea article is being buried by small news, like a woman smiling in her mug shot after a DUI-induced murder. I mean, yes, it’s a sad story, but hardly historic. So when I do search for North Korea, I get this:
So I’m thinking, wow, what did we do?
We stopped an exercise.
Seriously? That’s huge? It’s no where near Yuuuuge, and certainly not huge. Let’s rack and stack for a second.
What has North Korea done:
1. Shook hands with South Korean President
2. Said he would negotiate with President Trump.
3. Said he would stop nuclear testing, and took measures to do so.
4. Released some prisoners.
What the US did:
1. Stopped flying some bombers.
2. Suspended some exercises.
Seriously. Vox makes a big deal that the bombers are nuclear capable. So? We have loads of nuclear weapons that can hit North Korea now. Like, without flying bombers. And we have plenty of non-nuclear options, from Tomahawks to artillery. That doesn’t count what Japan and South Korea could use.
We just gave the equivalent of a “free glass of water with a full meal purchase” “concession” to North Korea. If anything, we saved money in fuel costs and pilot OPTEMPO. It literally cost us nothing. North Korea can’t get back the prisoners or reverse some of the dismantling of its nuclear site. Our bombers could be flying tomorrow if we wanted. We have done nothing that can’t be undone in a matter of minutes.
Trump gave North Korea this “concession” because it’s dumb and doesn’t matter. Would you throw away a monumental deal over an inconsequential detail? I sure wouldn’t.
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Nuclear power is not doing well. The cheap fracking of natural gas and oil, while it is putting a crimp on our enemies, is also hurting the nuclear industry. Already racked with the high cost of regulation (we’re talking millions per plant), no compensation for carbon emission and a lack of public understanding about what nuclear power actually is, the nuclear industry is failing. Plants are closing around the US, and the workforce is not attracting the best and brightest. As the workforce ages and less plants are available, we have the risk that US nuclear power is going to go extinct. Except for the United States Navy and China, nuclear power seems on the way out the door.
“We’ll be so much more efficient doing this at Fleet Forces.”
I cringed when I heard these words. I was working at Second Fleet, about ready to transfer, and I heard one of the smart-ass bureaucrats from Fleet Forces tell me this. My reply was sharp “Really? You have no idea what we do here.” And I was right. At the time, Second Fleet handled all the training, certification and day to day problems for the entire East Coast of the Navy. Every CASREP, every SITREP, all of it flowed through the Second Fleet Battle Watch. Our purpose was to use the 3 stars of our boss to fight for training time, materials and whatever else the fleet needed to deploy successfully.
But the Navy wanted to “save money,” so we were told that Second Fleet would be dissolved, and all functions taken by the behemoth command known as Fleet Forces. Almost instantly afterwards, TF-80 stood up. We had lots of powerpoint to justify TF-80, with “readiness kill chain” and other fun phrasing, but in reality TF-80 was the fill in for Second Fleet, because all those “efficiencies” weren’t really happening. Then, after 7 years of watching fleet training go down the toilet and us surge units to fill spaces for combatant commanders, now we’re bringing Second Fleet back. Heck, we’re even thinking about bringing back a NATO command in Norfolk to address things like integrating allies into Carrier Strike Groups (gee, didn’t we have that before?).
I’ve managed to buy and sell a few homes due to constant military moves. While plenty of people will try to talk metrics on homes, whether it’s price per square foot or something like that, the reality of whether it was “worth it” is whether you made more money selling the home than what is cost you. Oddly enough, how much a home is worth is actually pretty simple: it’s worth as much as someone is willing to pay for it. If someone offers to buy your house for $250,000, and has the money to do it, it doesn’t matter whether the house is actually WORTH that much. To that person, it’s worth $250K.
In Britain, we’re asking the same question now about human life: how much is Alfie Evans life worth? It’s becoming less about cost (although I’m sure that’s an issue) and much more about power. On one hand, to Alfie’s parents, his life is worth every possible shot that human medicine can offer. No matter how distant a shot, it’s worth the chance that he will improve and give them more time on earth. Continue reading “But what is it worth to you?”
I’m ecstatic to see that North Korea is not only talking about denuclearization, but is also willing to conduct direct negotiations with the U.S. and end the Korean War. In the past, it seemed all we ever got from North Korea was more demands with little promise of anything in return. Sure, it could all be a ruse, but I’m guessing that there is at least a little bit of genuine desire for peace.
Most people in the U.S. are probably thinking of a peace treaty and eventual reunified Korea, with the accompanying butterflies and rainbows. However, there are two darker aspects we should probably consider:
Continue reading “Some undesirable end states for Korea”
Last night President Trump announced strikes into Syria in response to Syrian use of chemical weapons. Less broadcast was that both the UK and France participated in the strikes. Even less broadcast was that we were in this situation not that long ago, with a “red line” set by President Obama that was subsequently crossed, with no subsequent action taken.
Having to stand up to aggressive regimes around the world sucks. I can’t imagine the frustration of any American that has to politically negotiate with Syria, North Korea or Iran. Given their normal antics and the occasional grand standing, I would be infuriated on a regular basis.