Sunday, September 11, 2016
The ‘False Economy’
With Donald Trump’s use over Labor Day of the phrase the “false economy” we finally have a candidate who is getting to the bottom of the so-called Obama recovery. On the one hand the President’s approval ratings are above 50%. On the other hand, vast majorities think the country is moving in the wrong direction. Official unemployment is below 5%, but because the job participation rate is at its lowest point in decades. The government has racked up more debt than all previous administrations combined. Yet it has eked out growth of less than 2%.
To millions of Americans this is just unreal — and Mr. Trump, in the most important and even radical feature of his demarche, lays the blame at the clay feet of the Federal Reserve. The GOP nominee, speaking to newspapermen on his campaign plane, accused the Fed, as Reuters paraphrased him, “of keeping interest rates low to help President Barack Obama.” He’d been asked about interest rates. Said The Donald: “They’re keeping the rates down so that everything else doesn’t go down. We have a very false economy,” he said.
We don’t think we’ve heard a presidential candidate talk about the economy in quite this way — at least not since Congressman Ron Paul, whom James Grant likes to call the “party of one,” sought the GOP nomination. Not that Mr. Trump’s ideas are so heretical. “At some point the rates are going to have to change,” Reuters quoted him as saying. Both the Wall Street Journal and economist David Malpass have been making that point for months (or years). “The only thing that is strong,” Reuters quoted Mr. Trump as saying, “is the artificial stock market.”
This strikes us as a positive development in Mr. Trump’s campaign. It puts him in front on the economy and leaves Mrs. Clinton with few options than to put a falsely rosy tint on an economy that has stranded tens of millions of Americans. She has abandoned, in the Trans Pacific Partnership, the very trade agreement that she once praised as ideal and that is a lynchpin to the pivot to Asia for which the administration forsook victory in the Middle East. And she offers little but tax increases, spending, borrowing, and regulation as a forward strategy.
Mr. Trump, by contrast, can take the next step and address the monetary question. If the Fed has failed — and it is not the only central bank that has had and that has found itself without further monetary ammunition — can monetary reform be far behind? The most significant monetary move in the past month, in our view, was the endorsement by the Wall Street Journal of a proper monetary commission, which is now before the Senate. That would put the GOP candidate on the same page with the Speaker, Paul Ryan, and Congressman Kevin Brady.
Chairman Brady has been plumping for a centennial monetary commission for several years now, starting when he was chairman of the Joint Economic Committee and continuing into his chairmanship of Ways and Means. What an alignment of leadership he and Messrs. Ryan and Trump and a Vice President Pence could provide. The commission would open up the whole question of monetary policy, including whether to return America to a system of a dollar defined in gold. In using the phrase “false economy” Mr. Trump has signaled that he comprehends that we need to reconnect the economy to some measure of value that is real.
UK to Build a Wall — Sound Familiar?
Great Britain will build a wall in Calais, France, in order to help prevent illegal immigration. The recent surge of migrants coming into Europe from the middle east has been cited as one of the primary factors in the UK’s recent vote to exit the European Union. The British plan is to build a 13 foot wall around the port of Calais, which is the busiest port between the two countries. The Brits say that the wall is needed to better prevent illegal immigrants from jumping on board ships or intercepting vehicles in order to gain entry into the UK where they can then lodge applications as asylum seekers.
Donald Trump and his pledge to build a wall along the American southern border with Mexico has been much maligned by Hillary Clinton who once supported a wall herself, Democrats and some Republicans as a ridiculous and impractical plan. Yet Trump and company have repeatedly highlighted the effectiveness of walls — such as the wall separating Israel from the Palestinian West Bank, which has been credited with helping to limit terrorist attacks. As Trump said to a crowd in New Hampshire last year, “You ask Israel whether or not a wall works.” Well, it appears that the British government certainly thinks that it does.
China claims to have developed radar that can detect STEALTH jets
The F35 will be obsolete before it is fully operational. Its only strong feature is its stealth capacity. It is slow and unmaneuverable otherwise. There have been reports of Russia defeating stealth too
A Chinese firm has claimed that they have developed radar technology that can detect stealth jets. The quantum radar was reportedly created by Intelligent Perception Technology, a branch of defence and electronics firm CETC.
They claim it is capable of detecting a target at a range of 60 miles and according to the Xinhua news agency, it was successfully tested last month.
It is believed the radar uses quantum entanglement photons, which means it has better detection capabilities than conventional systems. This means it can more easily track modern aircraft that use stealth technology or baffle enemy radar.
The new technology also comes after China launched the world's first quantum communications satellite, which uses quantum entanglement to solve codes.
Navy Mismanagement of Carrier Force Bites America
The Navy is in a world of hurt. It’s less than half the size it was when Ronald Reagan left office. Carrier air wings have fewer combat aircraft than they did in 1991 — about 33% less. We’ve gone from 15 carriers to 10. Now, the Navy’s newest carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), may not be able to deploy on time, leaving America short one more carrier.
That’s not a good thing. The ChiComs have played a Cersei Lannister gambit in the South China Sea — and that puts American allies like the Philippines in a bind. America also has to confront the presence of China’s DF-21 anti-ship ballistic missile — which, while overhyped, still inflicts virtual attrition on a Navy with too few hulls.
How did we get here? First, the Navy chose to prematurely retire the USS Enterprise (CVN 65), banking on the Ford being ready to fill in. Even though Newport News Shipbuilding could have done a second overhaul on the Big E, the Obama administration ignored the growing threats from China, Iran (which has been harassing American ships), and the Islamic State (not to mention the fact that the Russian reset wasn’t quite working), and went ahead with the scrapping process. Second, the Obama administration began to scrap seven older carriers that were being kept in reserve.
Did we mention the world was getting more dangerous while we junk eight major strategic assets?
It took almost seven years from laying the Gerald R. Ford’s keel to getting her to this point, and even then, with all of the new technology on board — like the electromagnetic catapults, the AN/SPY-3 radar, and new arresting gear — it may take time even after she’s commissioned for her to be ready to deploy.
You’d think that Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus would have acted to address this before it got too severe. But Mabus has been more interested in dissing Navy heroes who don’t buy into the politically correct changes in DOD policy he and others have been pushing.
Sadly, the Navy’s carrier force isn’t the only place there the mismanagement of our forces has been a continuing trend. Three of the Navy’s Freedom-class littoral combat ships have suffered damage to their engines. The Marine Corps has been struggling to find sufficient numbers of flyable F/A-18 Hornets. The Air Force is falling short of pilots. Army OH-58s are getting older as proposed replacements like the RAH-66 and ARH-70 fall victim to the budget axe. Even ground troops could see defense cuts rob them of the game-changing XM25 “Punisher,” officially known as the Counter Defilade Target Engagement (CDTE) System, even though it performed well in operational testing in Afghanistan.
Cuts like these, not to mention the onslaught of political correctness and social engineering, don’t just hurt the material performance of our troops. As Mark Alexander wrote Wednesday, they also kill the military’s most valuable resource — morale. That means troops, some with combat experience, may retire or not re-enlist, creating a vicious cycle of declining readiness due to subpar training due to loss of experience.
Reversing this trend won’t be easy, but it will be essential. Because an unprepared military invites aggression — which will be far more expensive in money, equipment and lives than it would have been to properly maintain our forces in the first place.
So how were those defense cuts a bargain, again?
The Coast Guard Needs a Boost
U.S. maritime borders should be secured, too
The U.S.-Mexico border gets a lot of attention. Yet here’s what many people don’t realize: It’s probably the shortest of the borders the United States has. The U.S.-Canadian border is longer, at 5,525 miles to 1,960. And America’s largest border is its 12,380-mile coastline — 65% longer than the combined land borders the U.S. shares with its northern and southern neighbors. Yet Customs and Border Protection, which handles the land border, has about 50% more personnel than the U.S. Coast Guard. Does something seem wrong with this picture?
It should. The Coast Guard, the smallest of America’s Armed Forces — and the only one not under the Department of Defense — has multiple missions: It is the primary maritime search-and-rescue agency; it’s responsible for interdicting drugs and migrants; and provides port security, law enforcement, national security missions, environmental protection, maritime safety, maintenance of navigation aids, and tracking of icebergs. It doesn’t just have a full plate — it has a full buffet table. In 2014, the commander of United States Southern Command, General John Kelly, admitted that 75% of drug smugglers were getting through.
Yet the Coast Guard could very well end up with fewer hulls available to put into the water — and that makes it unlikely that the percentage of smugglers getting through will go down. Plans call for eight Bertholf-class “national security” cutters to replace 12 Hamilton-class high-endurance cutters. That process is well underway, and the Hamiltons are being handed over to allies like the Philippines, giving them a needed boost (although far from what may be necessary to deal with an aggressive China). But eight hulls cannot cover 12 locations, no matter how good each individual vessel is. Quantity matters.
The same issue is emerging with the Coast Guard’s plans to replace 14 active Reliance-class and 13 Bear-class medium endurance cutters. The Offshore Patrol Cutter program plans to purchase 25 cutters to replace 27 for $484 million each. That’s pretty expensive, and here’s the kicker — there may be a better option already in service with most of the R&D already done.
The Freedom-class littoral combat ship has had its problems, to put it mildly. However, in 2010, USS Freedom racked up four drug busts in a SOUTHCOM deployment that lasted 47 days, and it made those four busts while also carrying out three “theater security cooperation” port visits. Furthermore, each of those vessels costs only $362 million — and with no R&D, the Coast Guard could afford 33 vessels for the $12.1 billion that the Offshore Patrol Cutter is slated to cost. That would give the Coast Guard 41 major cutters, as opposed to the 33 that they would have if current plans went into effect. And a bulk buy like this could further reduce the price.
But the Coast Guard has other problems, including a grand total of just 210 aircraft and helicopters. That total should be much higher, and in 2014, the Coast Guard retired its fastest aircraft, the HU-25 Guardian — hampering its ability to respond quickly to drug smuggling or other emergencies. The Coast Guard could also get some of its own eyes in the sky by getting in on the Navy’s purchase of the E-2D Hawkeye radar plane. Buying a dozen of those planes would cost about $2.15 billion — a little over 25% more than the ransom we recently paid to Iran for four hostages. It would do far more to make Americans safe.
Securing America’s maritime borders will be a need in the future — particularly if the U.S.-Mexico border is ever secured. Drug cartels will be looking for a new route to deliver their product, and if the Coast Guard is stretched too thin, the sea may very well become their avenue of choice.
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Posted by JR at 12:30 AM