Open Thread

So, Ralph Northam (D-In Deep Doo Doo) is, so far, refusing to quit after a photo was found of him either in blackface or a Klan outfit (it still isn’t clear just which of the two he was). Though rumors fly that he will quit. Some Democrats are calling for him to step down, others are standing by him…and the MSM is just furious. At us; for noticing. Banner week for the Democrats: infanticide, closet racism and Pelosi’s approval rating dropping like a rock. Best joke so far: we’re keeping Northam comfortable while we discuss whether his governorship is viable.

Meanwhile, the Democrats are starting to line up against Trump for 2020. Latest entrant: Cory Booker. T Bone could not be reached for comment.

They all seem like ill-educated clowns, to me: but, then again, maybe I’m not the right guy to judge. I’d like to think that none of them have a chance, but each of them is running because they are sure that if they get the Democrat nomination, the entirety of the global Establishment will move heaven and earth to get them elected. Against all that, we’ll have Trump and us. Who will prove the stronger? Time will tell.

I’m betting on Trump and us.

Apparently there is a lot of discounting for prescription drugs but you and I don’t get to see it: Trump wants to make it so we do. Outside the limelight, Trump and his Administration just keep working away to make things better for regular folks. He should be re-elected with 60% of the vote. If we had an honest media, he would.

Trump is also rebuilding our Navy: we just let out a contract two build two Ford Class carriers at once. The carriers are good. Saving money by building two at once is great. Best of all is the maintenance of a large, experienced workforce for such things. We get into a shooting war with a major power, we might have to replace sunk and damaged carriers in a hurry, and we’ll need the skilled people to do it.

Battleships

From the “see, it isn’t just me” files:

Stealth is one way to keep from getting hit, and the United States leads the way in the development of stealthy destroyers. But stealth defeats the purpose of a FONOP (Freedom of Navigation Operation), which is to be seen. An old-fashioned battleship is a ship to be seen—and in a big way. But there’s no need for the Navy to build an old-fashioned battleship in the twenty-first century when it can build a new-fashioned battleship instead.

A contemporary battleship would combine advanced armor materials with automated damage control to produce a ship that is virtually unsinkable. Its offensive armaments might be mission-specific, but its key attribute would be survivability. It would be a ship that could be put in harm’s way in the reasonable expectation of coming home in one piece.

This “battleship of the future” could solve the challenge posed by China’s emerging anti-access / area denial (A2/AD) strategy for excluding the United States from the western Pacific.

I think we made a bit of a mistake by disposing of the battleship – and, in a real sense, also disposing of what was once called a “heavy cruiser”.

It is completely understandable why we went with a carrier Navy – carriers won the naval war of World War Two. Well, carriers and submarines (little noticed in the American mind is how our submarines successfully carried out the massacre of sea-borne trade in the Pacific that the Germans failed to do in the Atlantic). Battleships in WWII were only really useful for shore bombardment and while the Marines still grumble about the Navy not having a solid short-bombardment weapon, it was decided that the Navy money we spend will be spent on carriers and their attendant ships and equipment. And, to be sure, this is a wise investment – and, in fact, I think we should have 15 active carrier battle groups rather than the 10 or so we have now. But I also think we need very big, massively armed and very survivable ships in addition to carriers. We need battleships.

A modern battleship will not be a mere duplicate of the Iowa class ships – the last battleships we built. In dimensions, they might be similar, or even larger – but I doubt we’ll need 12 inches of armor plate given modern materials. Nor would we need 16 inch guns; eventually we’ll have a railgun or something similar, but meanwhile advances in technology probably would allow us to have an 8 or 10 inch gun and be able to simply clobber whatever needed clobbering with guns. But the main armament of such a ship would be missiles. Anti-ship missiles. Anti-air missiles. Anti-sub missiles. Lots and lots of them. It should be nuclear powered. Capable of well more than 35 knots speed. It should be built with a maximum of automation to keep crew numbers as low as possible. And it should be able to take a punch as well as throw one.

A ship like that, added to a carrier battle group or operating as a battleship force would be a distinct deterrent to anyone wanting to challenge us on the seas. Short of a suicidal nuclear attack, sinking such a force would require so much effort as to be not worth the cost. The bottom line for me is that the United States Navy is the first and last line of defense of the United States. All the other armed forces are important, but only the Navy secures us against invasion and ensures our ability to project power around the globe. A US fleet cruising off the Chinese coast is something to give even the most aggressive pause…and as long as our fleet is supreme, no one really dares engage in cross-ocean military actions.

Let’s build some battleships.

Dealing With China’s Aircraft Carrier

How Obama is dealing with it:

As China’s first aircraft carrier takes to the open seas today for its inaugural sea trials, the U.S. government directed a pointed question at the Chinese military: Why would you need a warship like that?

“We would welcome any kind of explanation that China would like to give for needing this kind of equipment,” U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters today. “We have had concerns for some time and we’ve been quite open with them with regard to the lack of transparency from China regarding its power projection and its lack of access and denial of capabilities.”…

Why would they want a carrier?  Uh, here’s a clue, guys – to challenge us.  You know, the only nation with a genuine navy and a substantial carrier force.

Now, there are two actual ways we can deal with this – grimly announce that we will always maintain at least three aircraft carriers for each Chinese carrier, or we can “Copenhagen” it.

Asserting that we’ll always build sufficient to be overwhelmingly powerful is essentially what Britain did in the early 20th century when challenged in battleships by Imperial Germany – after a certain point, asserting to Germany that Britain would lay two keels to one in order to maintain an overwhelmingly superior force no matter what the Germans built.  This is a fine response, but it does tend to a long-term increasing of tensions…in other words, it is an arms race.

The other way – “Copenhagen” – involves sinking the Chinese carrier.  The reason for describing it as “Copenhagen” is because in 1801 the British attacked and destroyed the Danish fleet in Copenhagen because of a concern that it might cooperate with the French against Britain.  This does have its attendant risk of full scale war, but it also is a complete solution to the problem…even if there is a war, one side then lacks a fleet to prosecute the war, so the conflict becomes rather one-sided.

I’d prefer we just sent a submarine over to Chinese waters and sank the blasted Chinese carrier.  They have no business having such weapons – the seas belong to us, won at great cost in blood and treasure and as we keep them freely open for navigation, no one has any need to challenge the United States in this area.  Unless, of course, they are envisioning a life-and-death struggle with us.  China is either just idiotically flexing muscle, or is seeking to be an existential challenge to the United States.  In neither case is it worth our while to just sit tight and let China build up a fleet.

But, you say, wouldn’t China go to war with us if we did that?  I doubt it.  Remember, the rulers of China are corrupt despots sitting atop an increasingly restive Chinese population.  Their economy is teetering on the edge of disaster and only massive exports to the United States keeps them afloat.  They don’t, at this time, have the capability of projecting power against the United States, nor our main Pacific bases.  War with us at this juncture would be entirely too costly – and so they won’t do it.  They’d complain and threaten and bluster…but at the end of the day they’d just have to take it.  And learn a valuable lesson – don’t bother putting money in to a fleet because when you put it to sea, we’re just going to sink it.

At any event, we do need a President who won’t have his staff merely ask stupid questions – anything is better than idiocy in policy.