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Falling Dollar, Falling Empire

It warms my contrarian-economist heart to read the May editorial, you've got it all completely correct.  The big story in the currency market today is that last night's weakening in the dollar happened because Japanese investors shifted money from US government bonds to European government bonds.

If this story picks up steam the dollar fall will sooner or later lead to one of the larger investments banks or hedge funds blowing up on their currency derivative positions, which will in turn lead to a domino effect of financial bankruptcies. The FED will probably try to stop a total collapse by printing even more money which in turn will increase the economic imbalances.


Ed: The dollar has continued to fall rapidly against the Euro this past month.  Neo-cons have begun to say this is a good thing since it will increase exports.  However, it has made all Americans much poorer since imports will cost much more.

America on the Decline

I by chance came across one of your editorials today on called "If you are betting on the $$$, please be forewarned." I found it to be so right on that I went back and read many of your editorials going back to 2000.

You have been most prophetic in your insights and I regret that our Congress and Executive branches don't wake up and smell the coffee. I only see that the $$$ must collapse as there are millions of better places to invest now than the USA. My brother paid $600,000 for a 100 sq. meter house in San Diego last month. Here that is more money than 10,000 families will earn in 25 lifetimes!

I moved most of my $$ into Euros last year (not enough to retire on unfortunately) sensing what you have lucidly explained, and I certainly have no regrets. Although I am from California and lived there for my first 35 years, for the past 18 years I am living in Thailand and India. Seeing the USA from this side makes a whole different picture.  I look forward to reading more of your work in the months to come and wish you all success.

                                                                                     Bill Benedict

Ed: According to a recent US Treasury Report, the USA must implement an immediate 66% increase in federal income taxes to avoid bankruptcy in the coming years.  Paul O'Neil is an honest and patriotic American who was forced out as Treasury Secretary early this year for speaking the truth and threatening the current plan to boost federal spending while cutting taxes.

Some Democrats are Fiscally

 Read your piece about what's wrong with U.S., which is plenty, apparently. But your last paragraph blamed "neo-cons and cheering Democrats" for this state of affairs. That's simple ideology speaking. Last time I checked, the "neo-cons" were aligned with Republicans. Republicans voted for the tax cuts, Republicans pushed for war, Republicans vote for military spending. Please get real. The Democrats are a feeble opposition, primarily because they too are bought and bribed with campaign money, but a Democratic leadership brought the U.S. balanced budgets and surpluses long before almost anyone thought it possible. Then, as you pointed out, a Republican administration took over and led us in a different direction ‹ the same direction, by the way, as another ideology-driven, incompetent president, Ronald Reagan.


Ed: Yes, I should have written that neo-cons are cheered by "most" Democrats, so I've changed that part.  There are several honorable Republican Congressmen too, like Ron Paul.  Educated Americans have realized that the terms Republican/Democrat and Liberal/Conservative are meaningless.  The real distinction is big federal government vs. small government, and fiscally responsible leaders vs. looters.

Neo-Con Garbage

The first is that like many outside the "real" conservative segment of politics, you're over-generalizing with the neo-con garbage.  I don't know who ever came up with that crap but that is all that it is.  FYI, the actual problem is that there are three segments of the conservative movement, all of whom claim to be Republicans but only one of which are "real" conservatives.

The neo-cons are in fact bordering on fascism in many cases, particularly with the whole world domination thing.  There is nothing conservative about them - they ARE the hard right wing.  The most famous example of fascism to date is Nazi Germany - its an ultra-nationalist thing, absolutely nothing "conservative" about it.

The next segment are who we like to call RINOs, Republican In Name Only.  About 20% of the Republican party falls into this category including John McCain, Trent Lott, and many other "conservative" Republicans.  They call themselves conservatives but they're as big a bunch of porkers as the rest of Congress and every bit as corrupt.  When you see the pro-abortion and pro-gay rights Republicans, most of these are RINOs as well.  These are particularly problematic in the Senate and are actually a much bigger force than the fascists which is why domestic spending has exploded and the tax cuts keep getting slashed even though they are desperately needed.

While the Republicans control all of federal government in name, the reality is that at best, about 30% of Congressional Republicans are real conservatives (nearly all of whom are in the House) and virtually none of the administration Republicans are real conservatives except for a handful of token cabinet members in minimal posts.


Kinetic Energy Bombs

Ben Rich in his book "Skunk Works" relates how Lockheed tried to convince the USAF 'blue suits' that slim heavy solid steel bombs dropped from an F-12 (SR-71 fighter version) at M3.0 and 80,000 ft + didn't need an explosive filler. They wouldn't or couldn't accept the idea. A B-52 could certainly handle a  long heavy penetrating bomb on each external wing rack and drop it from 40,000. The bomb would strike supersonic. BTW US Navy 16" Mk8 AP shells at 2700 pounds strike at about 2000 fps at short battle ranges (mv ca 2400fps) and will penetrate 3 feet or so of armor plate, 30 feet or so of reinforced concrete. They use(d?) ammonium picrate as a burster charge.

Terminal guidance is now good enough to allow long bomb ranges such as the above, to hit precision targets. Here is where a simultaneous release of a number of 'Rochling' style steel spears (length/diameter ca 10:1)might be better than a single item. Nice to have a GLD downstairs, though.

Theoretically there is an impact velocity where the heavier solid projectile's added mass due to solid construction yields more kinetic energy than the lesser mass of a hollow bomb plus the chemical energy from its explosive filler. I worked that out once but threw away the papers and forgot the crossover velocity. Up around M2.0, as I vaguely remember.

                                                                               Bjorneby Walter

World War II Bunker Busters

Is there some particular reason that when the US Air Force is looking so very hard for a design of bomb that can strike deeply buried targets or penetrate reinforced concrete, that it seems to ignore weapons designed for this purpose during WW2? Specifically the Barnes Wallis “tallboy” (12,000lb) and “Grand Slam” (22,000lb) bombs. Although the RAF could never lift them to the design release height of 40,000 feet and so had to release at approximately 25,000 feet the “tallboy” could still go through 4.88 meter 16 feet of concrete, or if dropped into earth create a 24 meter (80 feet) deep crater 30 meter (100 feet) across. Additionally one of the prime objectives of the bomb was to produce a coupling effect that would produce a localized earthquake effect thus creating damage far in excess of that obvious from the size of the crater. 

It strikes me that it should be within the capacity of large bombers such as the B-52 or B-1 to carry such bombs, or it could be dropped from a suitable transport aircraft. Equally it seems reasonable to believe that if dropped from the original design height of 40,000 feet the penetration would increase substantially.  Well that is my 2 cents worth, thanks for your magazine, it makes reliably excellent reading.

                                                                                Markus K. Binder

F/A- 22 problems

I have read the F/A-22 report by the GAO.  I'm still uncertain of the reliability of this aircraft.  I work on aging F-15's and all of us mechs are tired of waiting for this mystery a/c.  Would it not be cheaper in the mean time to make a better and stronger F-15 until the engineers fix the mess they created with the 22.  I just can't believe that my AF bought in to this hunk of metal and we haven't got delivery of one yet.  This game with the 22 has gone on since I joined in 90.  It would be like me ordering a vehicle from a company and they haven't delivered.  I live in a area where the local public is asking questions about it and we don't have any answers.  They want answers.  They are wondering why it is taking so long, where is the money going, and when the delivery is.  We aren't dummies that work on these aircraft and are tired of the bureaucratic bull dragging us along.  I understand that my superiors know more about what is going on than us mechs, but it is getting increasingly frustrating working on these old birds and the ops people want us to keep em up like they where new.  Could you provide me with a little more info?  You guys always are in the mix.

                                                                                                 Eric (USAF)

Ed: I understand the basic problem is the software is "buggy".  They've been writing it for over a decade and had personnel turnover and constant changes.  So now the main computer crashes about once an hour.  There is a back up flight control computer so the F-22 doesn't crash, but the pilot loses his radar, fire control, and sensors for a minute while he reboots.  You can imagine this gets annoying on a ten hour mission, and deadly during combat.  They've been trying to fix the software for years, but its millions of lines of complex code.  So what to do?