FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day October 29th through November 1st 2018

FOD Saying of the Day

“Just as the bird needs wings to fly, a leader needs useful information to flow. Leaders learn.” ― Israelmore Ayivor, Leaders’ Ladder 

FOD Trivia Question

What is the only mammal born with horns?

Previous FOD Trivia Answer

In 1977, the Coca Cola Company (and its twenty two bottling companies) was forced out of what country for refusing to reveal its secret formula?  Answer – India.


Vote!  It’s your responsibility as a citizen.


Xi Jinping Says ‘Prepare For War Over South China Sea And Taiwan’

Trade disputes with the US, tariffs, a domestic economic downturn, complaints regarding intellectual property, Taiwan and the South China Sea has caused China to be thoroughly upset with the US and her allies as of late. President Xi Jinping is not a leader who has succeeded at the first blast of anti-Chinese rhetoric in the past and I don’t believe he nor his government is looking for possible alternative behaviors which could lessen tensions with the US.  In fact I suspect they are doubling down as that strategy has worked against less powerful neighbors in the past.  The South China Morning Post is reporting China’s President Xi Jinping has ordered the military region responsible for monitoring the South China Sea and Taiwan to assess the situation it is facing and boost its capabilities so it can handle any emergency.  The Southern Theatre Command has had to bear a “heavy military responsibility” in recent years, state broadcaster CCTV quoted him as saying during an inspection tour made on Thursday as part of his visit to Guangdong province.  “It’s necessary to strengthen the mission … and concentrate preparations for fighting a war,” Xi said. “We need to take all complex situations into consideration and make emergency plans accordingly.  “We have to step up combat readiness exercises, joint exercises and confrontational exercises to enhance servicemen’s capabilities and preparation for war.”  Details of his speech were not released to the public by state media until Friday.  Xi’s visit to the military command was one of several he made during a four-day trip to the south China province aimed at bolstering confidence amid an economic slowdown, and growing trade and strategic disputes with the United States.  Details of his speech came a day after China’s State Councilors General and Defense Minister Wei Fenghe said the country would never give up “one single piece” of its territory and warned that “repeated challenges” to its sovereignty over Taiwan were extremely dangerous and would result in military action.  One of the primary missions of the Southern Theatre Command is overseeing the South China Sea, an area where tensions and military activity involving China, the US and other powers have been growing steadily.  Earlier this month, a Chinese destroyer almost collided with a US warship in the disputed waters after making what the Americans described as an “unsafe and unprofessional” maneuver in an attempt to warn it to leave the area.  Military observers said Xi’s comments were most likely intended to boost morale and reiterate Beijing’s territorial claims in the South China Sea.  “It’s likely intended as a signal to the US in particular and any parties that Beijing perceives to be causing provocation [in the disputed waters],” said Collin Koh, a research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.  Beijing-based analyst Zhou Chenming took a similar view.  “The United States is expected to conduct more freedom of navigation exercises in the South China Sea region, and because it does not recognize [Beijing’s] rights to artificial islands, like Mischief Reef, there will probably be more military friction between the two countries there.”  Koh said Xi’s address to the Southern Theatre Command was also a clear warning to pro-independence forces in Taiwan, as the military region shared responsibility with the Eastern Theatre Command for monitoring the self-ruled island.  Relations between Beijing and Taipei have deteriorated since Tsai Ing-wen from the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party was elected Taiwan’s president in 2016.  (Fireball note: How much is hyperbole, how much in intended for the domestic listener and how much is a creditable threat to US positions is not known, but I expect things to get worse before they get better.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day October 29th through November 1st 2018”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day September 23rd through 27th 2018

FOD Saying of the Day

It is better to deserve honors and not have them, then to have them and not deserve them. – Mark Twain


FOD Trivia Question

What force propels a car forward or stops it?


Previous FOD Trivia Answer

The infamous carnivorous Venus Fly Trap is obliged to devour insects because the surrounding soil is deficient in this chemical.  Answer: Nitrogen


House Finalizes FY’19 DoD Spending Legislation and Trump Drops Threat of Government Shutdown

Military Times is reporting House lawmakers on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed a $674 billion defense appropriations measure that President Donald Trump has promised to sign, ending any last-minute drama about a possible government shutdown.  Late last week, Trump took to social media to blast “this ridiculous Spending Bill” for including too much non-military money and no funds for his planned wall along the border with Mexico.  But on Wednesday, Trump promised that “we’re going to keep the government open.” With the House’s 361-61 vote to finalize the deal, the president has until Sunday night to sign the measure and avoid any disruption in government funding.  Earlier in the day, House Speaker Paul Ryan praised the bill — which also includes full-year funding for the departments of Health and Human Services, Education and Labor — as a plan that “does a lot of the things that we all want to accomplish together.”  House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, called the legislation an unquestioned win for the administration and the country.  “It will be a major achievement for the military,” he told reporters on Tuesday. “I think he understands the achievement of getting a big majority of discretionary money in place before the beginning of the fiscal year.  “I want his signature on the dotted line. With that, for the first time in nine years, the managers at every level of the (Defense) Department will be able to do their job without the ridiculous constraints imposed by continuing resolutions.”  Congress hasn’t finalized the new fiscal year defense budget before the start of the new fiscal year in 10 years. Instead, as lawmakers have debated spending levels, military operations have been funded for multiple months each year through extensions of the previous year budget, a process that Thornberry called harmful to national defense.  “We tend to forget that under a (continuing resolution), you’ve got to spend money on the same things this year that you did last year, whether you need it or not,” he said. “You can have no new starts. All these restrictions.  “This is a chance to finally break out of that, at a time when the world is moving fast and technology is moving just as fast.”  The defense appropriations bill has more than $606 billion in base defense spending and nearly $68 billion more in overseas contingency funds, in line with White House requests and spending targets outlined in the annual defense authorization bill approved earlier this summer.  The measure funds a 2.6 percent pay raise for troops starting next January and a boost in military end strength of 16,400 spread across the active-duty and reserve forces.  Operation and maintenance spending totals $243.2 billion of the defense total, and research and development efforts another $96.1 billion. Defense health and military family programs would receive $34.4 billion.  House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Kay Granger, R-Texas, touted the bill’s investments in air superiority, shipbuilding and ground forces at a press conference beside Ryan, saying, “it all adds up to a pat on the back and money for our military.”  “The most important thing is this is the first time in ten years we’ve gotten a defense bill done on time,” she said. “Working with (Defense) Secretary (Jim) Mattis, he said the money’s important but getting it to us on time, when we have the time to plan and to build is the most important thing.”  Beyond the 77 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters authorized by the 2019 defense policy bill, the spending bill added another 16 for a total of 93. The decision comes as the Pentagon is expected to decide next month whether to move the aircraft into full-rate production.  The Navy’s shipbuilding account got a $2.2 billion boost over the $21.9 billion it asked for, including a 33rd, 34th and 35th littoral combat ship, three more than the 32-ship requirement set by the Navy.  Amphibs also fared especially well, driven both by Congress’ desire to push the Navy to a 355-ship fleet as fast as possible and by the evolving role played by amphibious ships in the Navy’s strategic thinking.  Army weapons and munitions technology development would get a big cash injection, with a $343 million boost over the Army’s $40.44 million request for research, development, technology and evaluation dollars for weapons and munitions technology.  Combined with a minibus of Veterans Affairs and military construction spending finalized earlier this month, nearly 90 percent of the federal government’s spending bills will be in place by the start of fiscal 2019, which is Oct. 1.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day September 23rd through 27th 2018”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day August 28th through September 4th 2018

FOD Saying of the Day

Dress like JFK; speak like Hemingway; work like Henry Ford; party like Gatsby!


FOD Trivia Question

What is the separation of metals from ore by the melting of metals using high amounts of energy.  For example, converting iron oxide to metallic iron by heating is called ____.


Previous FOD Trivia Answer

What 15th century mathematician, physicist, and astronomer who is said to have set the Renaissance’s scientific revolution in motion, pulling modern science out of a magician’s hat of speculative natural philosophy? Answer: Galileo Galilei


Senator John McCain Buried at Naval Academy Cemetery

This past week I attended my reunion at the US Naval Academy.  It was mostly an opportunity to get together with old friends I don’t converse with enough.  It just happened to coincide with the burial of Senator John McCain and reflects well on the friendships we share.  According to Navy Times, his final journey ended Sunday on a grassy hill at the U.S. Naval Academy within view of the Severn River and earshot of midshipmen present and future, and alongside a lifelong friend.  (the burial site is very close to the Hospital Point athletic fields.)  A horse-drawn caisson carrying the senator’s casket led a procession of mourners from the academy’s chapel to its cemetery following a private service. The senator’s widow, Cindy, and his children were among those who walked behind the caisson. Joining them were family and friends as well as members of McCain’s Class of 1958, military leaders and academy midshipmen.  About 1600 a flyover of military aircraft honored the Navy pilot who was shot down over Vietnam and held more than five years as a prisoner of war. The burial was private as per the wishes of McCain, the Arizona Republican and 2008 presidential nominee died Aug. 25 from brain cancer at age 81. One scheduled speaker at the service, Sen. Lindsey Graham, said before the service that he would tell the audience that “nobody loved a soldier more than John McCain, that I bear witness to his commitment to have their back, travel where they go, never let them be forgotten.” Also he expected to pay tribute were David Petraeus, a retired general and former CIA director, and McCain’s son Jack.  As the hearse carrying McCain passed through a gate and into the academy, there was loud applause from the several hundred people lining the street outside on the hot and muggy summer day. Many held their hands over their hearts and waved American flags. Some shouted, “God bless you.”  People in the crowd held signs that read “Senator John McCain Thanks For Serving! Godspeed” and “Rest In Peace Maverick.”  For his final resting place, McCain picked the historic site overlooking the Severn River, not Arlington National Cemetery, where his father and grandfather, both admirals, are buried.  Years ago Chuck Larson, an admiral himself and an ally throughout McCain’s life, reserved four plots at the cemetery — two for McCain and himself, and two for their wives, now widows. Larson died in 2014, and McCain wrote in a recent memoir that he wanted to be buried next to his friend, “near where it began.”  Among the pallbearers on a list provided by McCain’s office were Frank Gamboa, his academy roommate; Defense Secretary Jim Mattis; and two men who were POWs with McCain in Vietnam, John Fer and Everett Alvarez Jr.  Tributes to McCain began Wednesday in Arizona and continued for the remainder of the week. On Saturday, speeches by his daughter Meghan and two former presidents — Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Barack Obama — remembered McCain as a patriot who could bridge painful rivalries. While their remarks made clear their admiration for him, they also represented a repudiation of President Donald Trump’s brand of tough-talking, divisive politics. Trump and McCain were at odds during the 2016 campaign and for much of Trump’s presidency.  “There’s a lesson to be learned this week about John McCain,” said Graham, R-S.C.  “No. 1, Americans appreciate military service. … If you work hard and do your homework and know what you’re talking about, people will listen to you. That if you pick big causes bigger than yourself, you’ll be remembered,” he told “Fox News Sunday.”  “He tried to drain the swamp before it was cool, that you can fight hard and still be respected. If you forgive, people appreciate it, and if you admit to mistakes, you look good as a stronger man. That’s the formula, John McCain. This was a civics lesson for anybody who wanted to listen. Why do we remember this man? Because of the way he conducted his public life.”

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day August 28th through September 4th 2018”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day August 16th through 21st 2018

FOD Saying of the Day

I learned years ago, never wrestle with a pig.  You both get dirty and the besides, the pig likes it.  – George Bernard Shaw


FOD Trivia Question

The first inauguration of Franklin D. Roosevelt as the 32nd President of the United States was held on Saturday, March 4, 1933.  After taking the oath of office, Roosevelt proceeded to deliver his 1,883-word, 20 minute-long inaugural address, best known for his famously pointed reference to “fear itself” in one of its first lines:  So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and of vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. And I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days. The phrase “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” is actually paraphrased from an earlier adage: “Nothing is so much to be feared as fear.”  This was originally penned in 1841 by what famous nature-loving philosopher and author?


Previous FOD Trivia Answer

Who said, “My wife and I were happy for 20 years.  And then we met.”  Answer:  Rodney Dangerfield.



President and Pentagon Postpone Parade

Maybe smarter heads have prevailed.  Military Times is reporting that on Thursday evening (August 16), the Pentagon announced that President Donald J. Trump’s military parade through the nation’s capital will be postponed until 2019.  Department of Defense spokesman Col. Rob Manning told reporters that both the military and White House “have now agreed to explore opportunities in 2019,” delaying the Nov. 10 parade championed by the president to honor the troops and commemorate the centennial of World War I.  No makeup date for the procession has been scheduled but the Pentagon move came hours after The Associated Press and other media outlets reported that military officials pegged the price tag for Trump’s event at $92 million.  That’s at least three times higher than what White House budget director Mick Mulvaney told lawmakers it would cost during Capitol Hill testimony on Feb. 14.  Citing anonymous Pentagon sources, the AP reported that parade planners needed about $50 million to fund aircraft flyovers, equipment, personnel and other expenses. Other agencies would combine to pay a $42 million tab for other expenditures, mostly security along a parade route winding from the White House to the Capitol.  Secretary of Defense James Mattis, a retired Marine four-star general, had defended the parade by saying it arose from Trump’s genuine affection for the armed forces.  (Fireball note:  What the hell does that mean?  I’m sure we could find a better place to spent $92M.)  But many troops privately grumbled about being dragooned to march during what traditionally has been a four-day weekend away from their military duties.  Critics also lambasted the administration for spending tens of millions of dollars on the November spectacle after Trump canceled military maneuvers with South Korea partly because they would cost “a tremendous amount of money,” a sum the military later estimated at $14 million.  Others had questioned whether the procession would resemble the military marches favored by dictators such as North Korea’s strongman Kim Jong-un, who told Trump during nuclear talks that he considered America’s war games with Seoul to be provocative.  But supporters of Trump’s parade pointed to similar celebrations in democracies such as France’s Bastille Day procession.  (Fireball note:  Hey it’s France – it doesn’t count.)  Eyeing Paris, Trump had said that his administration was “going to have to try and top it” in November.  Military support for events in the capital isn’t unusual. More than 5,000 troops from the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard, including reserve and National Guard personnel, supported Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017.  A Department of Defense memo released in March revealed that the president’s November celebration would feature a “heavy air component” but “wheeled vehicles only, no tanks” because of concerns the treads would chew up the capital’s roadways.  That happened in 1991, when Washington officials held a parade to honor troops home from the war in Iraq.  On Thursday, most veterans organizations remained silent about the parade’s postponement, but two groups took to Twitter to praise the decision.  “The American Legion appreciates that our President wants to show in a dramatic fashion our nation’s support for our troops,” National Commander Denise Rohan said. “However, until such time as we can celebrate victory in the War on Terrorism and bring our military home, we think the parade money would be better spent fully funding the Department of Veteran Affairs and giving our troops and their families the best care possible.”  Will C. Fischer, the director of government relations for the left-leaning Vote Vets, added that his group “always felt that blowing millions, and wasting the military’s time, so Trump could feel like a big authoritarian, was a bad idea. We will continue to oppose this parade, if it ever arises again.”  (Fireball note: Thanks for your continued opposition.).


Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day August 16th through 21st 2018”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day June 22nd through 26th 2018

Fireball Saying of the Day

If you know something will go wrong and you do everything to stop it from happening, then something else will go wrong.


SECDEF to Visit China

It’s expected we’ll see US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis on the road to Asia this week.   According to the South China Morning Post, he’ll visit China next week as tensions rise between the two countries over Taiwan and the South China Sea. Mattis said on Wednesday that he would visit Beijing and then Seoul next week, according to South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency.  Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Logan confirmed that Mattis was “travelling to the region next week”, adding that details of the trip would be released on Friday.  Military ties between the United States and China have worsened in the last month, with Washington disinviting Beijing from the multinational RIMPAC military exercise in Hawaii in a response to China’s military build-up in the South China Sea. The Pentagon is also reportedly considering sending warships through the Taiwan Strait and increasing arms sales to Taiwan after Chinese military aircraft, including the H-6K strategic bomber, conducted exercises around the self-ruled island. The tensions between the two countries came to the surface that at the Shangri-La Dialogue security forum in Singapore early this month, when Mattis criticized Beijing for its activities in the disputed waters, including its vast territorial claims and deployment of weapons systems that he said were designed for “intimidation and coercion.”   On the sidelines of the forum, Senior Colonel Zhou Bo, director of the Central Military Commission’s Centre for Security Cooperation, said Mattis’ remarks were ridiculous and the US, not China, was militarizing the South China Sea.  Zhou said China’s land reclamation in the waters was not prohibited by any international law and the US was the main factor contributing to instability in the region.  Mattis also pledged the US’ continued commitment to Taiwan, saying Washington would supply Taiwan with “the defense articles and services necessary to maintain sufficient self-defense.”  Beijing regards the self-ruled island as a wayward province, to be brought under its rule by force if necessary.  “We oppose all unilateral efforts to alter the status quo, and will continue to insist any resolution of differences accord with the will of the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait,” Mattis said.  But Mattis also said “the US will continue to pursue a constructive, results-oriented relationship with China, cooperation whenever possible will be the name of the game.”


Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day June 22nd through 26th 2018”