31 October 2019

About Facebook

One of the main reasons that I blog moderately less than I used to is that I post much more than I used to one Facebook, where I post a lot, maybe 300+ times a month.

Facebook is a medium with a bigger audience (1800+ friends), favors very short posts such as one or two sentence comments on links, is very "in the moment", and is bad for reviewing on an archive basis. It is good for documenting lots of isolated instances and examples of larger issues. It is more focused on an audience in Colorado. It also reaches more close personal friends and family, The different nature of the medium means that the kind of material that I post on Facebook is very different from what I blog about, in character, if not always in substance.

For the most part I'm (unsurprisingly) pretty much of a Social Justice Warrior.

What do I post on Facebook about? (Some posts fall in more than one category).

* Examples of bad cops.
* Examples of failures of the criminal justice system.
* Examples of injustice related to immigration.
* Examples of corrupt or abhorrent actions by politicians.
* Examples of inaccurate media reporting.
* Examples of troubling conduct in the name of religion.
* Examples of harm caused by firearms.
* Examples of blatant racism and anti-racist action.
* Examples of blatant homophobia and LGBTQ friendly action.
* Examples of blatant sexism and anti-sexist action.
* Examples of anti-scientific and conspiracy theory thinking.
* Examples of why we shouldn't treat Saudi Arabia as a friend.
* Examples of the failures of our healthcare system and possible solutions.
* Examples of poverty and homelessness as well as measures to abate those problems.
* Examples of problems with gross economic inequality.
* Links about reproductive rights and birth control.
* Urban planning and development stories.
* Public transit stories (especially local ones).
* Promotions of public health and safety, especially vaccinations, new cures and suicide prevention.
* Analysis of the consequences of good and bad policies.
* Interesting new inventions, technologies and scientific discoveries.
* Inspiring quotes and aphorisms.
* Examples of heroism by ordinary people.
* Notable stories about local weather and climate more generally.
* Big international news stories of types that often get little U.S. coverage.
* Cat videos and pictures.
* Birthday wishes for others.
* Rants about everyday life annoyances and triumphs.
* Intriguing food.
* Home team sports triumphs and disappointments.
* Funny and sweet stuff.
* Notable books, movies, TV shows and comics.
* Endorsements of and opposition to issues and candidates that I vote on.
* Analysis of flaws in our political system and possible solutions.
* Pieces about changes in culture, political identity and changing views of religion.
* Missing persons alerts likely to be present in Colorado or near someplace I have many friends.

I also comment about posts from friends that are blatantly and provably false and spread as if they were true.

27 October 2019

Military Technology Quick Hits

(Meta: This is combined post number 9,705 for this blog and its sister blog combined.)


* The Marines has started commissioning ships of "Expeditionary Sea Base" designation in 2015. The revised design, which uses adapted oil tankers, is quite inexpensive and makes it possible to deploy many Marines quickly in places that don't have U.S. bases nearby. 

Even more so than most surface combatants in the U.S. Navy, it isn't very fast and a sitting duck against any near peer with submarines, anti-surface ship missiles, warships, or warplanes that can deploy anti-ship missiles or bombs. It is armed only with 0.50 machine guns and has significant civilian component as its crew. 

But, against countries that lack those capabilities, it a a citadel from which a significant ground force with supporting helicopters and Osprey aircraft can be launched (its deck can't withstand the heat from the exhaust of an F-35B). As Wikipedia explains:
An Expeditionary Transfer Dock (ESD), formerly the Mobile Landing Platform (MLP), and a sub-class variant; the Expeditionary Mobile Base (ESB), formerly the Afloat Forward Staging Base (AFSB), are designed to be a semi-submersible, flexible, modular platform providing the US Navy with the capability to perform large-scale logistics movements such as the transfer of vehicles and equipment from sea to shore. These ships significantly reduce the dependency on foreign ports and provide support in the absence of port availability. 
The ESD and ESB (Expeditionary Mobile Base) and are part of a new ship class added in 2015 with an E as a new designator, similar to the L-class amphibious ships, S-class submarines, A-class auxiliaries and more. These three E-class ships were previously listed as seabasing ships in the Naval Vessel Register. 
In May 2011, General Dynamics NASSCO received a $744 million contract modification to fully fund the construction of the first two ships of the class, USNS Montford Point (ESD-1) and USNS John Glenn (ESD-2). Additional funding of $115 million for long lead time material and advanced design was awarded in August 2011. 
The first ship of the ESD program, USNS Montford Point (ESD-1) was delivered in May 2013, and the second ship, USNS John Glenn (ESD-2), was delivered May 20, 2013. 
In 2012, a third MLP, USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB-3), was added to the contract and reconfigured as an Expeditionary Mobile Base (ESB), or formerly known as an MLP Afloat Forward Staging Base (AFSB). All three ships have been delivered to the U.S. Navy. 
In September 2015, the Navy decided to redesignate the MLP as the Expeditionary Transfer Dock (ESD) and the AFSB as the Expeditionary Mobile Base (ESB). 
The Navy plans to procure six Expeditionary Mobile Bases (ESBs) in total, with a fourth (ESB-6) ordered in FY2018, a fifth (ESB-7) ordered in FY2019, the sixth and final ship, (ESB-8) with an order date yet to be determined. . . . 
The Expeditionary Transfer Dock concept is a large auxiliary support ship to facilitate the 'seabasing' of an amphibious landing force by acting as a floating base or transfer station that can be prepositioned off the target area. Troops, equipment, and cargo would be transferred to the MLP by large-draft ships, from where it can be moved ashore by shallower-draft vessels, landing craft like the Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC), or helicopters. In order to transfer vehicles from the larger ships to the ESD, the vessels were originally to be fitted with a Vehicle Transfer System; a ramp connecting the two ships alongside, and able to compensate for the movements of both vessels while underway. 
USNS John Glenn (T-ESD-2) naming, Feb 2014 
A preliminary design by General Dynamics envisioned a ship that carried six LCACs, with the ability to turn around (dock, unload or load, then launch) two landing craft simultaneously from the stern. The ESDs were to host a brigade-size force, sail at 20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph), and have a maximum range of 9,000 nautical miles (17,000 km; 10,000 mi). Each ship was to cost US$1.5 billion to build, but cutbacks to defense spending planned for the fiscal year 2011 budget forced the downscaling of the design in mid-2009. 
General Dynamics identified the civilian Alaska-class oil tanker (built by the subsidiary National Steel and Shipbuilding Company) as a suitable basis for an "ESD 'Lite'", with the design modified into a float-on/float-off vessel that could be built for US$500 million per ship. As part of the cost trade-off, the Vehicle Transfer System was scrapped in favor of skin-to-skin mooring of a host ship alongside the ESD, and the LCAC complement was reduced to three. The new design is 785 feet (239 m) long, with a beam of 164 feet (50 m), a top speed of over 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph), and a maximum range of 9,500 nautical miles (17,600 km; 10,900 mi). Converteam supply an integrated power system and vessel automation system for the ESD.
* The U.S. Marines are experimenting with U.S. the light aircraft carriers that used to be called "Harrier Carriers" and made up most of the rest of the world's aircraft carrier fleet, to launch squadrons of F-35B short takeoff, vertical landing steal fighters that are the next generation successor to the Harrier aircraft of the same type. Previously, the U.S. Marines had used their ships of the LHA class primarily as helicopter and Osprey carriers.


* The U.S. Navy is testing a new "Naval Strike Missile" with a 100 mile range, which would be deployed on its ships to replace some existing anti-warship missiles which have inferior capabilities to it.

* The Tomahawk Cruise Missile designed for sea to land strikes is being updated to make it more capable.
The Tomahawk cruise missile, carried on 145 U.S. warships . . . first joined the fleet in 1983 and figured prominently in both Persian Gulf wars, but today’s Tomahawk is very different from the cruise missiles used in those conflicts, and tomorrow’s Tomahawks will be something else again. . . . All of the Tomahawks in the fleet will retain their land-attack capability, which enables precise destruction of high-value targets deep in defended territory with minimal collateral damage. Whether they are launched from a surface warship or a submarine, Tomahawks typically hit within ten yards of intended targets using a variety of guidance methods including GPS, inertial navigation, and terrain contour matching. 
What makes Block V different is that contractor Raytheon (a contributor to my think tank) is adding an anti-ship capability and a hard-target kill capability to specific lots of the missile. The “maritime strike” variant will have a new seeker capable of precisely identifying and targeting moving warships at sea. The hard-target kill version will carry an advanced warhead capable of destroying densely-constructed enemy assets previously requiring more specialized munitions. . . . Block V Tomahawk thus presents itself as the most affordable option for bolstering the Navy’s arsenal of long-range precision strike munitions without having to introduce a new weapon into the fleet. The basic footprint of the missile will not change—it will still fit into vertical launchers on surface warships, torpedo tubes on submarines, and other launch systems already extant that the joint force may elect to deploy in the future. (A land-based version of Tomahawk was successfully flight-tested in August.) 
The Navy has taken delivery of over 4,000 Block IV Tomahawks since 2004, about a tenth of which have been used in combat and testing. Naval Air Systems Command intends to update the arsenal to the Block V configuration by purchasing a mix of new missiles and existing missiles that have been enhanced via recertification. Some of the Block Vs will be maritime-strike variants, some will be hard-target killers, and some will be “basic” Block V Tomahawks delivering targeting flexibility and lethality similar to Block IVs. . . . Block V Tomahawks are likely to cost about a million dollars each, which arguably is a bargain for a munition that can reliably take out diverse targets over a thousand miles away worth many times that amount without causing major collateral damage.
* The latest purchases of Virginia class nuclear powered attack submarines will include more submarine to surface missile capabilities to make up for the capacity being lost of converted Ohio class submarines originally designed to carry nuclear missiles and converted to carry conventional ground attack missiles are going out of service.
BAE Systems is providing the Navy with missile payload tubes that would help new Virginia-class submarines carry more Tomahawks or next-generation guided cruise missiles. 
The service will be retiring its fleet of four Ohio-class guided missile submarines in the coming decade and “with that, they lose [a] significant amount of Tomahawk strike capability,” said Jason Warnke, director of launching systems and submarine programs at BAE. 
However, increasing the capabilities of the Virginia-class fast attack submarines in the Navy’s Block V buy will help make up for the loss, he said. BAE’s mission payload tubes are part of the Virginia payload module, which has an 84-foot mid-body section and includes four vertical launch tubes each. 
“It allows the Virginia-class to increase from 12 Tomahawks per submarine to 40,” Warnke said. “It increases the strike capabilities significantly.”

With the purchase of Block V boats, the Navy hopes to integrate significant changes and upgrades, according to a June Congressional Research Service report titled, “Navy Virginia (SSN-774) Class Attack Submarine Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress.” Nine out of 10 subs in the block buy will contain the Virginia payload modules.

* The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps are investigating using cargo drone aircraft, surface ships, submarines, and land vehicles to deliver supplies to troops. The size and nature of the vehicles remains a subject of ongoing deliberation. Early tests of this with converted transport helicopters have been very successful so far.

* The U.S. military is looking into converting UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters into helicopters that can operate as drones or have partial autopilot functions.

Sikorsky has two goals in mind for its optionally manned S-70 helicopter: to make the autonomous technology easy to retrofit on existing aircraft for users like the U.S. Army, and to give pilots various modes of autonomy so they can commit more time toward their mission, according to company officials. 
Sikorsky's original S-70 helicopter model would become the Army's UH-60 Black Hawk and spawn a family of helicopters used by multiple military services.
The standard Black Hawk is designed to carry 11 troops and a crew of three and is outfitted with a couple of machine guns as light armament (basically, it is a flying SUV) or as a medivac flying ambulance, although, in upgraded versions, it can be fitted with "up to 16 Hellfire missiles, as well as 2.75" FFAR (folding fin aerial rocket) rocket pods, FIM-92 Stinger anti-air missiles, as well as aerial mine delivery systems, such as the volcano and the M56 mine delivery system" in lieu of extra fuel or cargo.

* The U.S. Army is using drones that crash into enemy drones to protect Patriot anti-missile batteries. A recent attack on Saudi Arabian oil fields highlighted this vulnerability:

The attack on two major Saudi oil plants by low-flying drones in September highlighted an emerging vulnerability of long-range missile defense systems: The attacking systems were able to evade Patriot PAC-2 surface-to-air missile batteries in order to reach their targets.
* The U.S. military is looking into mounting anti-drone lasers and anti-drone microwave beam weapons on a variety of platforms, sometimes also using their own drones to identify targets.

As the Army moves forward with plans to mount anti-drone lasers on Stryker vehicles, the Air Force is preparing to send its own vehicle-borne laser drone-killers overseas in just a few months. 
Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems received a $23.8 million contract from the Air Force in August for two prototype high-energy laser weapons systems, designed to take out threatening unmanned aerial systems. The plan, according to contracting documents, is to deploy the systems for a year for testing and experimentation, wrapping up the effort by November 2020. ‘ 
At the same time, the Air Force has contracted with Raytheon for a $16 million prototype Phaser high-powered microwave counter-drone system, to be deployed and tested by service personnel within the same timeframe. 
At the Association of the United States Army [AUSA] annual meeting in Washington, D.C., this week, Raytheon executives said one of the high-energy laser systems has already been delivered to the Air Force, and the other will follow shortly. Related: 
"Where overseas, I can't disclose, but it is multiple [combatant commands]," said Evan Hunt, director of business development for high-energy lasers at Raytheon. "They have planned them for multiple different [areas of responsibility]." It will represent the first overseas deployment for the system, a milestone as major defense companies scramble to deliver smart solutions to counter a growing and diverse threat from enemy drones. 
At AUSA, the spherical laser multi-spectral targeting system was mounted on a lightweight Polaris MRZR all-terrain vehicle, a popular transport for special operations troops and small infantry elements. The system uses radar to detect and track unmanned aerial systems as small as commercial quadcopters, delivering data to a targeting screen. A human user can then employ an Xbox controller to lock in on a target and deploy the laser to shoot it down.

* The U.S. Army is trying to develop a howitzer with a 1000 mile range, although why this is a good thing is unclear, when long range cruise missiles and aircraft and drones carrying missiles already do the same thing, in an era when missiles and guided ammunition is replacing all large slug-throwers. I suspect that this is really just a missile launcher cosmetically modified to look like artillery to win in intra-DOD office politics over procurement. But, advocates argue that rounds of this "long range cannon" would be comparatively cheap.
“A lot of that comes down to cost,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville told Defense News in a recent interview. “If we are able to develop the strategic, long-range cannon system, the rounds may be only $400,000 or $500,000 compared to multimillion-dollar rounds. Cost does matter, and we are concerned about cost. There are some, definitely, physics challenges in doing these types of things, and that is the trade-off.”
The argument against that is that in modern, guided munition driven "small wars" we haven't used large volumes of ordinance, so "cheap" ordinance with an expensive delivery system may make less sense than it would have when the U.S. was fighting "big wars" with inaccurate munitions.

* The U.S. Army is also looking at options for automating its artillery in several recent request for proposals for proto-type designs:
A new Army research project calls for developing autonomous systems that can perform functions such as loading shells into cannon. It also follows another project that aims to replace forward observers, who call in artillery fire, with robots.

The research solicitation calls for developing “autonomous robotic systems that are capable of semi- and fully autonomous munitions handling inside a weapons system. Its functions would support loading of projectiles into the cannon breech, setting of charges and propellants, and management of excess case materials inside of the weapons system." 
A M109A6 Paladin, a self-propelled 155-millimeter howitzer, is operated by a crew of four: a commander, driver, gunner and loader. It is not clear which crewmen could be replaced by robots should this technology come to fruition, though the gunner and loader would seem to be prime candidates. At the same time, given advances in self-driving vehicles, it is conceivable that the driver could be replaced by a robot, which would leave the commander as the human element of the system.

But even the Army acknowledges there are risks, such as being hacked. “Potential solutions should consider the need for compact form factors, low electronic signatures, cyber security protections, shock and vibration management, and power supply constraints,” said the research solicitation. . . . 
The Army wants exoskeletons to assist its artillery crews with the physically strenuous task of operating the weapons. – and to keep gunners from going deaf. The project aims to develop “passive or active exoskeleton capabilities to assist crew-served artillery systems. Desired capabilities will mitigate injury due to human manipulation of objects weighing greater than 100 pounds as well as repetitive motion injury. Additional needs include solutions to mitigate the effects of exposure to high decibel acoustic transients and continuous acoustic signatures consistent with crew-served weapons system operations. Potential solutions will address harmful environmental exposure without impairing communication or sensing of the local environment, be capable of sustained operations, and not require extensive training.”

The Army is also eager for autonomous vehicles that can haul ammunition to the big guns. Currently, shells have to be crated, loaded and transported to a depot, and then unloaded, uncrated and transferred to a Field Artillery Ammunition Support Vehicle (FAASV). The FAASV then trundles forward to the artillery batteries, where the ammunition is transferred to the guns by hand. . . . 
The Army is looking for “autonomous robotic systems for transport of munitions in a state of storage to accelerate timelines and reduce personnel requirements. Solutions should enable unmanned unloading of crated and palletized items of various sizes from transport vehicles, and the stocking of primer and fuse boxes, propellant canisters, and uncrated projectiles onto the FAASV or alternative system for transport to the gun line. Alternatively, this system could deliver munitions to the gun line itself.” . . . 
The Army wants autonomous ground vehicles or aerial drones “for autonomous delivery of field artillery munitions from the FAASV, alternate vehicle, to the weapons system for tactical last mile resupply. Technologies must autonomously deliver a payload of sensitive items across unimproved terrain with a minimum payload capacity of 150 lbs. over distances of 1 kilometer or under.”

* The U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, and United Kingdom's military are working together to replace traditional brass casings for its 5.56mm, 7.62mm and .50 caliber small arms and machine gun rounds with stainless steel or polymer casings that would weigh significantly less. A 6.8 mm round that the military is looking into might also have lighter weight casings.

* Research into body armor for troops is developing new materials by mimicking pearls and legos.
The result, the researchers claim, is an extremely tough outer shell with “a more flexible inner backing that's capable of deforming and absorbing projectiles.” This technology could be applied to body armor to benefit humans, a process known as biomimetics. 
The new armor technology takes ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene, or UHMWPE, and adds silica nanoparticles for strength. The result, the Army Research Lab says, is a “lightweight plastic that is 14 times stronger and eight times lighter (less dense) than steel and ideal for absorbing the impact of bullets and other projectiles.” Kevlar, used in many types of armors, is five times stronger than steel
"The material is stiff, strong, and tough," Dr. Shenqiang Ren, project lead and professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at University at Buffalo, told the Army Research Laboratory Public Affairs. "It could be applicable to vests, helmets, and other types of body armor, as well as protective armor for ships, helicopters and other vehicles."

A further benefit is that the armor has high thermal conductivity, allowing it to dissipate heat from kinetic energy faster and absorb transferred energy from bullets and other projectiles.

* The U.S. military is finally developing a militarized Ford Ranger mid-sized pickup truck, presumably (based upon prior reports) for low risk missions on military bases and in domestic settings, because it is much cheaper than a purpose built military vehicle with the same capabilities. But, none of the vehicles have been purchased yet. The Polaris firm that also makes ATVs and the engineering firm Ricardo is handling the military purpose upgrades. What features will the military version have that the civilian one lacks?

Ricardo added a full roll cage equipped with an integrated weapons mount; ballistic glass and floor protection; and heavy-duty bumpers, skid plates and side steps. Ricardo also increased the vehicle’s water fording capability to an unspecified depth; updated the suspension, wheels and brakes to handle the extra weight while improving its overall performance; and installed an electrical system protected against electromagnetic interference. Polaris, which builds several light off-road military vehicles, contributed to the design of the onboard power management and communication systems integration, according to Ricardo.

* A competition is underway to see which of three prototype ground vehicles designed to by airdropped to carry a squad of paratroopers or other forward deployed troops will be purchased. They are uncreatively called Infantry Squad Vehicles. They look a bit like dune buggies. 

The Infantry Squad Vehicle (ISV) is essentially a passenger-carrying truck that can drop out the back of an airplane. Once on the ground, a nine man squad of paratroopers will pile themselves and their equipment in the back and then quickly move out toward their objective. The ISV will allow an airborne assault force to choose a drop zone farther from enemy defenses but still quickly converge on a bridge, highway interchange, or enemy airport. The ISV prioritizes speed over armored protection, an easy choice to make since a heavy armored vehicle can’t be airdropped anyway.
One is from Polaris and called the DAGOR:

"Polaris DAGOR is . . . in service and has a strong background in all-terrain vehicles, which the ISV maybe is more than an actual truck."

One is from Oshkosh and called the Flyer-ISV:

"Oshkosh-Flyer can carry the most stuff and is already in service with the military."

One is from General Motors Defense:

"GM’s ISV is actually based on the Chevy Colorado mid-sized pickup truck, complete with ZR2 off-road suspension package. The vehicle is 70 percent of the commercial vehicle, or commercial parts. The ISV can also carry nine occupants or 3,200 pounds of cargo and passengers." It is the dark horse contender.

* The U.S. Army is considering purchasing the first light tanks it has bought since Vietnam a design called the Griffin II is one of two being considered:

A scale model of the Griffin II
In December 2018, the U.S. Army has chosen two companies to compete for the service’s new light tank program. BAE Systems and General Dynamics will each receive up to $376 million to develop and build 12 light tanks in fourteen months. 
In 2017, the US Army has launched a program called Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) that will purchase 504 light armored vehicles. The Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) vehicle is a new combat vehicle required to address the capability gap identified within the Armys Infantry Brigade Combat Teams (IBCTs). This vehicle would be incorporated in the IBCT structure as a weapon system solution to provide a protected, long-range, cyber-resilient, precision, direct fire capability for early/forcible entry operations. 
The MPF capability is one of the most critical needs for the U.S. Army, particularly for its Infantry Brigade Combat Teams (IBCT) who lack protected, long-range, cyber resilient precision direct fire capability for early entry operations. IBCTs require this capability to be employed in austere and unpredictable locations allowing them to avoid the enemy's strengths and rapidly transition to offensive operations and exploit the initiative. 
According to the request of the U.S. Army, the MPF will be a light tank in the 30-ton class, armed with one 105 or 120mm main gun, and two tanks should be able to be transported into C-17 Globemaster III military transport aircraft. 
In December 2018, the U.S. Army has awarded a $335 million Section 804 Middle Tier Acquisition (MTA) Rapid Prototyping contract to General Dynamics Land Systems to deliver 12 prototype vehicles for the Mobile Protected Firepower program.

The final Mobile Protected Firepower light tank could be delivered to US Army in 2025.
The existing M1-A Abrams heavy tank at 70 tons each has proved not very useful in recent conflicts with most sent to the bone yards because they are slow to deploy, overwhelm foreign bridge and road infrastructure, and provide capabilities that can be obtained with other systems. 

It isn't clear to me that a light tank with a slug throwing large main gun, as opposed to something more like a missile tank, makes sense, but the Army is exploring the possibility anyway.

* In contrast, equipping Stryker armored personnel carriers with anti-armor missiles seems to make more sense.
Beginning in 2022, the Army will start turning large numbers of Stryker infantry carriers into tank-killers by equipping them with remote weapons stations armed with Javelin anti-armor missiles.

The fielding of the Common Remotely Operated Weapons Station-Javelin (CROWS-J) is part of a larger effort to give the basic Stryker infantry carrier more firepower. . . .

Currently, the 2nd Cavalry Regiment is the only Stryker unit that has vehicles equipped with 30mm cannons or early versions of the CROWS-J. But the Army will begin equipping three more Stryker Brigade Combat Teams (SBCT) with both capabilities in 2022, Col. Syd Hills, director of the Stryker Warfighter Forum at I Corps, told Military.com recently. 
"Some will have the CROWS-Javelin, others will have the 30mm cannon," Hills said. "All of the formations will eventually have both. ... We will eventually kit out all nine [Stryker] brigades." 
The CROWS-J is an M153 CROWS II system, made by Kongsberg, that has been modified to launch an FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank missile. In addition to the Javelin, the CROWS II mounts either an M2 .50 caliber machine gun, M240 7.62mm machine gun, or an MK19 40mm grenade launcher. 
A gunner can detect a heavy armor target and destroy it with the CROWS-J out to roughly 3,000 meters from inside the Stryker vehicle, Hills said. 
Aside from infantry carriers, a Stryker brigade also has Anti-Tank Guided Missile Strykers and the Mobile Gun System, which is equipped with a 105mm cannon. 
But the driving force behind this lethality upgrade is that the SBCT is still an infantry-centric force, Hills said. 
"The additional lethality and the additional firepower is a means of force protection; it's meant to provide standoff and firepower so you can get the dismounted troops closer to the objective by using the vehicle to provide a support by fire and protect them so they can go further faster," he said.

Is Faith Protective Against Opioid OD Deaths?

There is evidence that religion is, indeed, the opiate of the masses, in a good way. It is not, however, the whisky of the masses, the meth of the masses, the cocaine of the masses, or particularly protective against suicide.
First, I document that opioid deaths and religiosity are strongly negatively correlated across counties. 
Then, I find that an 8% decrease in religious employment – equivalent to the decrease observed since the height of the Catholic sex abuse scandal – would increase opioid deaths by 4.8 per 100,000, approximately a third of the current opioid epidemic. The effects of religiosity are concentrated in areas with higher Catholic rates before the scandal. 
In contrast, I find no evidence that religiosity affects other drug deaths, suicides, or mortality due to alcoholic liver disease.

According to this MIT economist

Of course, like any observational evidence of this kind, there are myriad potential confounds.

Narrow Thinking As MPD

You can't understand society without rejecting the assumption that people are omniscient. But, thinking of narrow thinking as a sort of multiple personality phenomena is an interesting way to frame it:

I develop an approach, which I term narrow thinking, to break the decision-maker’s ability to perfectly coordinate her multiple decisions. For a narrow thinker, different decisions are based on different, non-nested, information. The narrow thinker then makes each decision with an imperfect understanding of the others. Formally, it is as if the decision-maker is a collection of multiple selves playing an incomplete-information game. The friction effectively attenuates the degree of interaction across decisions and can translate into either over- or under-reaction depending on the environment.

Interesting Possible Government Jobs

What sort of positions might it be good to have in government?

* Consumer Advocate

* Ombudsman

* State Auditor/State Accountability Officer

* State Medical Examiner

* Election Commissioner

* State Budget Officer

* Guardian of the Constitution with the veto power, the pardon power, the power to make judicial appointments, the power to bring suits regarding constitutionality where no one else has standing, to argue as amicus solicitor general on behalf of the state, to issue official interpretations of laws and regulations that are binding on the state in the absence of contrary court rulings, and the power to bring judicial ethics and government employee ethics charges.

* Independent counsel.

* State Poet

* State Champion (an athlete)

* A Board of Regulators to review and approve government regulations.

* Vice Commission

* Disabilities Advocate

* Elder Advocate

* Mental Health Advocate

* Environmental Advocate/Lorax

* Chief Architect

* Voter Registration Advocate

* Worker's Representative

* People's Attorney (who brings criminal and civil enforcement actions in the name of the people and supervises charities) v. State's Attorney (who represents the state as an entity in litigation).

Why Are Red States Economic Failures?

The big issue here is cause and effect. 

Are Red States less affluent because the implement bad policies, or is this a consequence mostly of having people with deep rooted cultures that are ill adapted to current conditions that lead to weak economies and poor policies?

It is certainly true that even elite policy actors frequently are mistaken about why good policies work and why bad policies don't, even when they are right about what policies are good and bad. This often leads to bad solution to real problems.

Razib Khan has noted that lack of support for public libraries in the South that is alive and well today, and outright large rates of illiteracy and poor support for education, dates back to the 1850s at least.
From Theodore Parker’s The great battle between slavery and freedom (1856):

In 1850…Arkansas had 97,402 white persons under twenty, and only 11,050 attending school; while of 210,831 whites of that age in Michigan, 112,175 were at school or college. Last year, Michigan had 132,234 scholars in her public common schools. In 1850, Arkansas contained 64,787 whites over twenty, – but 16,935 of these were unable to read and white; while, out of 184,240 of that age in Michigan, only 8,281 were thus ignorant, – of these, 3009 were foreigns; while, of the 16,935 illiterate persons of Arkansas, only 37 were born out of that State. The Slave State had only 47,852 persons over twenty who could read a word; while the free State had 175,959. Michigan had 107,943 volumes in “libraries other than private,” and Arkansas 420 volumes….
A cultural anti-intellectualism is absolutely a barrier to good policy, especially when the gut instincts of a culture run counter to what makes sense as good policy today, even if it was adaptive in the circumstances in which it arose.

On the other hand, policy differences can lead to immense differences over multi-decade time scales, even in places that once shared a common culture.

South Korea thrived, while North Korea has sunk into squalid totalitarianism. Germany's division into East and West left the West much better off, despite the fact that historically, the economic divide in Germany was between Northern Protestant German and Southern Catholic Germany. The Middle East looked like it had a bright future in the 1970s, and then regressed into religious fundamentalism that also damped the quality of life more generally.

Also, politics, because it is basically a fight for control over monopoly control over everything, can give rise to situations where the incentives of the key actors lock them into a suboptimal state that is very hard to upset from within.

The worst countries in the world, like North Korea, are not necessarily the least stable politically. And, as scores of independence movements and revolutions that were initially successful in the 19th and 20th centuries have taught us, seemingly positive political and economic reforms are often short lived, and degenerate into one party states, dictatorships, or even, as in  the case of North Korea, de facto monarchies.

Are Bad Financial Aid Packages Driving Inequality And Reducing GDP In The U.S.?

The model correctly reaches the somewhat obvious conclusion that the U.S. is not fully meritocratic and that this suppresses our GDP. Its econometric estimate that current measures alleviate a third of current negative effects of financial aid induced inequality is plausible although subject to large margins of error.

But, like most model driving economics papers, this one is somewhat naive and overlooks key points. Most importantly, it overlooks the fact that not everyone can benefit equally from higher education, and that IQ, socio-economic merit, and social class are correlated, although hardly identical. It also overestimates the extent to which higher education spending is causally connected to higher education outcomes for students.

This paper studies the role of the higher education system, including government financial aid and transfers to colleges, in shaping income inequality and intergenerational mobility. I introduce a model of college choice with overlapping generations of heterogeneous households subject to a borrowing constraint and with heterogeneous colleges that maximize quality. 
First, I show that in response to the observed rise in the return to human capital the model yields predictions consistent with increases in five outcomes in the U.S. since 1980: income inequality, tuition, the dispersion of spending per-student across colleges, the exclusion of low-income students from top colleges, and the intergenerational elasticity of earnings (IGE). I quantify the model with rich micro-data from the U.S. About 6% of the observed increase in income inequality results from changes in how students and resources are allocated across colleges
Second, I use the model to run policy counterfactuals. If all students received the same higher education, the Gini coefficient and the IGE would decrease by up to 9% and 33%, respectively. Current government interventions—financial aid and transfers to colleges—decrease the Gini coefficient by 3% and the IGE by 12% compared to a laissez-faire policy. Need-blind admissions can be particularly useful at increasing mobility and correcting for the misallocation of students and resources, thereby increasing GDP, at the expense of slightly higher income inequality.
Damien Capelle, "The Great Gatsby goes to College: Tuition, Inequality and Intergenerational Mobility in the U.S." Princeton University Job Market Paper (October 23, 2019).

My own impressions about what is wrong with the higher education system in the U.S. are as follows:

* The system seriously harms the country by causing non-affluent students not to pursue higher education to their full potential. This is mostly driven by bad financial aid support and not by need driving admissions. Robust, full ride aid packages to less affluent students with academic merit could solve this at a lower cost than the current very inefficient method of partial state support for in state students  regardless of likelihood of success. Europe does not have this problem, while Japan and South Korea have it almost as seriously as the U.S.

* Lots of higher education funds are misspent on students who are likely to drop out because they aren't academically ready for college, and by spending on marginal students from affluent families. Too many students attend before they are academically ready, and many will simply never be academically ready. We would be better off is less higher education spending were targeted to these students and more high school and higher education spending were targeted to more academically capable students. This problem is much worse in Europe than it is in the U.S., but it is less of an issue in Japan and South Korea than in the U.S.

* Higher education overspends on administration and underspends on professors.  Continental Europe, Japan and South Korea all tend to have inferior instructional quality at the higher education level to the U.S., however, one area where the U.S. system shines.

* Our society incurs actively produces suboptimal outcomes for students at the high school level by pushing a liberal arts college preparatory curricula on students who are unlikely to graduate from a four year college, or to benefit greatly from attending a four year college and dropping out, when preparation for a "middle skill" career would serve those students better. The total public spending needed for a non-college preparatory curriculum might even be modestly higher than the existing watered down college preparatory curriculum taught to middle of their class students, but the returns of an alternative to the students and to society would be much higher. Europe, Japan and South Korea all do a better job of creating viable career paths for people not bound for traditional four year curricula than the U.S.

* Our society incurs lots of unnecessary higher education spending by favoring credentials in hiring that individually make sense to obtain, but which had little value to the economy collectively. This is true in academia itself even. Lots of people who would make good instructors who have only masters degrees are squeezed out of that work over people whose teaching abilities are inferior with PhDs. Too many people in the applied health professions like physical therapists are pushed to get PhDs that add little value. School teachers likewise get lots of higher education that adds little value. This is more of a problem in Europe than in the U.S., although the gap is closing, and is less of a problem in Japan and South Korea.

25 October 2019

Who Gained From PG&E Skimping On Maintenance And Who Will Pay For The Consequences?

Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) has been in the spotlight for ignoring routine maintenance of remote power delivery infrastructure that has caused major California wildfires in a manner that has benefited shareholders, and it is true this has provided slight benefit to its stockholders.

Those gains were no doubt a pretty modest share of total profits, however, which were spread over many income oriented, risk averse utility stock and bond investors over many years. And, those profits weren't outrageous.

How much of a profit have PG&E shareholders made over the years?

As a regulated utility, PG&E's profit margin, percentage-wise, has been steady, but nothing to write home about either. The rates it can charge and the expenditures that it can make are all heavily regulated.

Inflation from 1972 to 2019 in the United States has been 614%. 

PG&E has gone bankrupt as a result of the liability caused by the mass wildfires it caused (which raises the question of why its stock is worth anything at all):
PG&E filed for bankruptcy in January after amassing tens of billions of dollars in liability related to two dozen wildfires in recent years. As speculation grew that its equipment might be the cause of the Kincade Fire, its stock price plummeted about 30 percent on Friday to $5.08, a small fraction of its 52-week high of $49.42.
By comparison (see above), PG&E stock prices gained about 400% from 1972 to June 2017, which is about a -1% annual inflation adjusted rate of return. It's stock price has now plunged to -30% from 1972 to 2019, which is equivalent to a -4% annual inflation adjusted rate of return. 

Dividends on PG&E stock in the last decade or so have ranged from 3.1% per year to 4.5% per year. 

So, the total inflation adjusted return from stock and price appreciation in dividends in PG&E has been on the order of 2.1% to 3.5% per year until the summer of 2017 (at 45 year run), and its recent stock price collapse has turned that into a -0.9% to +0.4% per year total return on average over the past 47 years.  The total return including the recent collapse has been worse than investing in risk free treasury bonds (which have returned an inflation adjusted 2.6% per year since 1972), and has been fairly similar to Treasury bonds in the long run excluding the recent collapse.

PG&E currently bonds pay 2.45% per annum (of which there are about $27.6 billion outstanding) which is better than a savings account, but currently carries a significant risk of a default that will wipe out decades or more or interest payment returns and perhaps principal investments as well. Current market prices for PG&E bonds imply that the markets believe that current bondholders are likely to lose on average about 11% of their investment in a bankruptcy from a looming liability for the California wildfires on the order of $30 billion or more.

PG&E has $81.5 billion of assets on its balance sheet, $68.6 billion of liabilities, and $12.7 billion of stockholder equity. A $30 billion liability would wipe out all of the stockholder equity and about 25% of its creditor's claims in a bankruptcy. But, the bond market implicitly is expecting more like a $12.7 billion loss of stockholder equity and  a $7.6 billion loss for creditors for a combined loss of more like $20 billion than $30 billion. 

Thus, risk adverse utility stock and utility bond investors probably take the biggest part of the loss. 

There is insurance in place, but the $1.4 billion policy limits that are only a tiny fraction of the $20-30 billion plus of liability incurred. But, individual property owners and businesses probably also have insurance that will cover much of these losses (that, in turn, have subrogation liability claims against PG&E which probably can't be recovered in full, PG&E made an $11 billion settlement of subrogation claims for the 2017 and 2018 fires), at the cost of driving up insurance rates for future casualty insurance policies.

Future rate payers will have to pay the balance of the damages and will have to restore the infrastructure lost.

By far the most culpable parties in all of this are the PG&E executives who made policy decisions to skimp on maintenance. And, the entire PG&E executive team is predominantly compensated with stock and stock options and will take a huge hit personally (on a percentage basis) as a result. They deserve this but the total amount of their stock and stock option based compensation is still only in the tens of millions of dollars per year combined ($19.45 million for the top eight highest paid employees in the most recent year, who receive an outsized share of all stock and stock option based compensation in the company), which is on the order of 0.1% of the total loss. This pales compared to the $30 billion plus loss from the wildfires due to their poor management decisions.

Also, while conventional private law analysis puts liability for essentially all of the PG&E caused wildfire losses on PG&E, that lack of maintenance isn't the sole cause of the harm. 

Some of it is attributable to climate change making California more arid and hence more at risk of fire (for which PG&E is arguably one of the biggest contributors in California, so it isn't necessarily unfair for it to bear this part of the risk) and some of its attributable to increased population density for which responsibility should, in fairness, be more widely shared, although the role of individual property owner and business insurance coverage in paying for the losses does distribute that burden somewhat.

18 October 2019

What Are People Who Don't Vote Like?

The Pew Study of non-voter demographics is from 2010, but I suspect that not that much has changed on that score in the past decade.

None of this is terribly surprising. But, it does help quantify the electoral impact of low voter turnout in the United States.

Later in the report, it notes that non-voters are somewhat more liberal than voters which goes hand in hand with being less Republican than the general public.

Turnout will continue to be a pivotal issue in the 2020 election.

Religion, Race, Gender, Urbanization and Politics In the United States in 2019

Religion in America in 2019

Today, about two-thirds of American adults are Christian and a third are not Christian. 

About a quarter of American adults of "born again" or evangelical Christians, one fifth are Roman Catholic, about one in six are Christians who do not identify as "born again" or evangelical (roughly speaking, "mainline Christians") and 2% are Mormons, with a tiny percentage being Orthodox Christians or otherwise not classifiable into the categories above.

A little more than one in six American adults are not religious but do not identify as atheists or agnostics. A little less than one in six American adults are atheist, agnostic or adhere to a non-Christian religious faith - 9% of atheists or agnostics, 7% are religious non-Christians (about 2% are Jews, 1% Muslim, 1% Buddhist, 1% Hindu, and 3% "other").

A little more than half of Americans are mainline Christian or not Christian, and a little less than half are "born again" or evangelical Christian, Roman Catholic, or Mormon.

The Intersection of Race, Religion and Politics

In terms of ideology, politics and culture, the picture is a bit more complicated. 

Black Christians who identify as "born again" or as evangelical Christians tend to be politically liberal and to have very different ideas about how a good Christian should live than white Christians who identify the same way. Hispanics who identify as "born again" or as evangelical Christians tend to have political views more similar to white mainline Christians than to white "born again" or evangelical Christians.

White mainline Christians tend to be part of denominations that adhere to relatively liberal views on social issues but to be fairly conservative anyway, while nonwhite mainline Christians tend to be much more liberal personally. White Roman Catholics are culturally and politically very similar to white mainline Christians, while Hispanic Roman Catholics tend to be more politically liberal, and also tend to look different from white Roman Catholics culturally, demographically and socio-economically.

Also, at least among white Christians, those who attend church more often often tend to be more conservative, and those who attend church less often tend to be more liberal.


From the Pew Research Center, "In U.S., Decline of Christianity Continues At Rapid Pace" (October 17, 2019).

The percentage of adults in the United States who identify as Christian has been declining for my entire life. When I was born,  in 1970, about 90% of American adults identified as Christians. As of 2019, that percentage has dropped to about 65%. The percentage of American adults who identify as Christian has declined at a rate of about one percentage point a year since 2007, and more than half a percentage point a year for the entire time period since the early 1970s.

Most of that decline has been among Protestants who now identify as having no religion. Their percentage of the U.S. adult population has dropped by a quarter in that time.

The decline in the percentage of American adults who identify as Roman Catholic has declined at only about half the rate of Protestants. But, this is almost entirely a function of Hispanic Catholic immigration. In the Northeast U.S., where this hasn't been all that much Hispanic Catholic immigration, the percentage of adults who are Catholic has dropped by the same 25% that is seen for Protestants nationally.  In the South and West, where many Catholics are Hispanics with recent immigrant roots, the decline in the percentage of the population that is Catholic has been much more modest.

And, even among adult Hispanics in the U.S., less than half now identify as Catholic. The percentage of Hispanics who are Protestant, Mormon, or Orthodox Christian has basically held steady over the last decade (there was a statistically insignificant increase in the percentage identifying as Protestant from 23% to 24%). But, the percentage who identify as Catholic has fallen from 57% to 47%, while the percentage who identify as non-religious has surged from 15% to 23%, and the percentage who adhere to a non-Christian religion has surged from 1% to 3%. Over time, Hispanics are becoming more similar culturally, religiously and socioeconomically to whites as the process of immigrant assimilation continues relentlessly.

Since 2007, the decline in the percentage of Protestants who identify as "born again" or evangelical, and the decline in mainline Protestants, has taken place at the same rate. And, church attendance among people who identify as Christian has been basically unchanged in that time period.

This shift in religious identity has been demographically broad based and is not driven just by one subgroup (other than younger people). It is a shift that crosses the bounds of race, gender, education and geographic region, and has impacted both Republicans and Democrats although the shift has been bigger for Democrats than for Republicans.

The Generation Gap

This reflects a generational shift. The younger you are in the U.S. today is, the less like you are to be religious, and other studies show that Generation Z (my children's generation) is similar in ideology to the Millennials before them, and maybe a bit more so.

Older generations excepted young people who weren't religious to return to active Christian practice when they got older, but that didn't happen.

Every death in the United States, on average, makes the adult population of the United States less Christian (this population is about 80% Christian). Every child who turns eighteen, on average, makes the adult population of the United States less Christian (this age group is slightly less than 50% Christian).

The parents of older children who are closer to turning eighteen (who are slightly less than 50% Christian) tend to be members of Generation X (who are 67% Christian), like myself. Parents of younger children tend to be Millennials who are slightly less than 50% Christian, and if the persistent trend lines of the last 40 years continue to hold, their children will be Christian in lower percentages than their parents. When they become adults, it wouldn't be unreasonable to estimate that about 35% of them will be Christians.

Younger voters, for reasons very much related to their differing religious preferences are also more likely to vote for Democrats as the results below from the 2018 midterm elections demonstrate (in that election, "Nationally, voters favored Democratic candidates for Congress over Republican candidates by a margin of about 7 percentage points, according to a preliminary estimate by The New York Times.").

Race And Ethnicity In The United States In 2019

The non-Hispanic white population in the United States from 1910 to 1940 was in the range of 88.1% to 88.5% and this percentage has declined every decade since then. 

In 1970 when the overall non-Hispanic white population was 83.5%. The percentage of the population that is non-Hispanic white has decreased in every single U.S. state since 1970. 

In 1990, about 75.6% of the U.S. population was non-Hispanic white and Hawaii was the only U.S. state that was not majority non-Hispanic white. As of 2016, every U.S. state except Hawaii, California, New Mexico, Texas and Nevada was still majority non-Hispanic white, although by 2020, Maryland will also probably no longer be majority non-Hispanic white. (Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia are also not majority non-Hispanic white). 

As of July 2016, the United States was about 61.3% non-Hispanic white, 17.8% Hispanic, and 12.4% non-Hispanic African American, with non-Hispanic people who identify as Asian-American (about 4.8%), mixed race (about 2.2%) Native American or Alaska Native (about 0.9%), Pacific Islander (0.2%) and other (about 0.4%) making up most of the remaining population of the United States. The non-Hispanic white percentage of the U.S. population continues to fall steadily.

The declining percentage of the U.S. population that is non-Hispanic white is due mostly to relative numbers of births and deaths in each category racial and ethnic category, an increasing number of children who are of mixed race, and immigration:
In 2009, approximately 90% of all immigrants came from non-European countries. The U.S. does receive a small number of non-Hispanic white immigrants, mainly from countries such as Brazil, Canada, Poland, Russia, and the UK, as well as Egypt and Iran.


The percentage of Americans who live in urbanized areas has increased every decade from 1790, which it was 5.1%, to 2010, when it was 80.7% (except for a slight increase in the rural population percentage from 1810 to 1820 when the U.S. acquired a great deal of frontier land), and for every decade in each of the four main subregions of the U.S. (Northeast, South, Midwest and West). A majority of the population of every U.S. state today lives in urbanized areas except in Maine, Vermont, West Virginia and Mississippi. Rural areas contain only 19.3% of the population of the United States but cover about 97% of its land area.

The increase in urbanization was 2.7 percentage points from 2000 to 2010, 1.0 percentage points from 1990 to 2000, 4.3 percentage points from 1980 to 1990, and 1.1 percentage points from 1970 to 1980. Over that forty years period, the increase in urbanization was 9.1 percentage points. So, urbanization is a slow, but extremely steady trend, and the urban percentage of the U.S. population will no doubt be higher in 2020 than it was in 2010. Rural populations are older than the U.S. average and have fewer births and more deaths per capita.

Maine is something of an outlier in this regard. It was 51.7% urban in 1950 and has become more rural in every decade since then to 38.7% today (the lowest percentage in the United States).

The Racial, Gender And Religious Political Divide

Republican voters are disproportionately non-Hispanic white and male. For example, in the 2018 midterm elections:

In the 2018 midterm elections, 37% of voters identified as Democrats (and voted 95% for Democrats), 33% identified as Republicans (and vote 94% for Republicans), and 30% identified as unaffiliated (and voted 54% for Democrats). Democratic men made up 14% of voters, Democratic women made up 23% of voters, Republican man made up 17% of voters, Republican women made up 16% of voters, unaffiliated men made up 16% of voters and unaffiliated women made up 13% of voters. Non-Hispanic whites made up 72% voters, 11% of voters were black, 11% of voters were Latino, and 6% of voters were "other" (mostly Asian). The gender divide between the political parties is also apparent in this data.

Based upon the same exit poll data, voters who voted for Republican candidates in 2018 were 85.9% white, 2.3% black, 7.3% Latino, and 4.5% other (mostly Asian), while voters who voted for Democratic candidates in 2018 were 62.3% white, 19.4% black, 14.6% Latino, and 3.8% "other" (mostly Asian). 

People who voted for Republicans were 54% men and 46% women, while people who voted for Democrats were 58% women and 42% men (the number do not total to 100% because some people would not answer or voted for a third-party candidate).

Voters who identify religiously as Christian, and especially white voters who identify as "born again" or evangelical Christian, are particularly likely to support Republicans at the ballot box. Of the 26% of voters in 2018 who identified as white "born again" or evangelical Christian, 75% voted for Republicans, while 66% of those who did not voted for Democrats.

Most Democrats who are white, mixed race, or Asian-American, are not Christians. But, more than 80% of white Republicans are Christian.

Religious “nones” now make up fully one-third of Democrats. And about six-in-ten people who identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party say they attend religious services no more than a few times a year.

The Bleak Demographic Future Of The Republican Party

The Republican Party has increasingly tried to identify itself as a (non-Hispanic) white Christian party more oriented towards small towns and rural areas than urban centers. But, all of the demographics that are at the core of the Republican Party's identity are in decline. 

As explained above, the share of the nation's population that is Christian is steadily falling; the share of the nation's population that is non-Hispanic white is steadily falling; and, the percentage of the nation's population that is rural continues to fall.

The Democratic Party, meanwhile, has become mostly a big tent coalition of non-Christians, and predominantly Christian non-whites (including Hispanics), with an urban orientation. Population density in your neighborhood is one of the better predictors of political affiliation. 

The end analysis is tricky. In the United States, national political power isn't simply a product of how many votes are cast for each party. Electoral votes and U.S. Senate seats must be won state by state and Congressional seats must be won district by district, and those factors due to historical decisions about state boundaries and gerrymandering, mean that it takes almost 57% of the popular vote for Democrats to win the Presidency, the Senate or the House, although the barrier is highest for the Senate, lowest for the House, and in between with respect to the Presidency. Some of this built in systemic advantage is pretty much permanent.

Voter turnout is also tricky. Democratic demographics are less reliable in their voter turnout, on average, than Republican ones, particularly younger voters. And, Republicans in state legislatures and election administration posts have worked hard to maximize that the turnout discrepancy between likely Republican voters and likely Democratic voters. 

But, ultimately, if a political party's base of supporters shrinks year after year, it has to expand its coalition or lose elections. And changing religious identities and the changing racial makeup of the nation, nudged by a slowly increasingly urbanized population, could tip the balance in large key states like Texas and Florida that could tip the balance eventually. Since religious identity is the fastest shifting of these factors, it is potentially the most threatening to the GOP.

This is the political calculus that has made Trump's anti-immigrant and white Christian nationalist rhetoric so popular with Republicans. Non-whites and non-Christians may not be a threat to our nation, but they are definitely a clear and present danger to the future of the Republican party.

Sooner or later, however, fighting against the coming of the night will prove futile, and the Republican party will face inexorable pressure to try to take some constituency from the Democratic Party's coalition into its own. It has lots of plausible choices from which to pick, but needs to decide which changes in its platform and image that could lure in a new constituency is least likely to alienate its existing base.

Also, there are really two tents that need to be considered. The analysis above has focused on rank and file voters and those among them who care enough to become party volunteers. But, each party also needs to mobilize money for its cause, which may come from other quarters. And, a successful party needs both an adequate rank and file constituency to command a majority in national elections, and an adequate coalition of donors to fund those election campaigns, to win. Changes to gain rank and file members and to gain donors must be managed in a way so that the gains on both fronts more than outweighs the losses from existing members of the coalition who prefer the status quo to the proposed changes that would bring in new supporters.

It isn't obvious how such a deal could be brokered, which is why the Republicans are so heavily rallying around Trump and why they are willing to resort to violent rhetoric, violence itself, "cheating" with respect to laws and political norms, and more in order to stay in power without having to deal with the inevitable reality that some day they will need to reform themselves to widen their base of both rank and file voters, among whom they have lost an entire generation, and donors, whom Trump is increasingly alienating.

I wouldn't be surprised if this Gordian knot is eventually broken by some successor political party to the Republican party in the American political landscape replacing it and securing a significant number of defectors from Republican party who are at peace with the necessary changes (and some Democratic defectors who aren't really at home in its currently coalition), perhaps "moderates" to the extent that either major political party still has any, to provide a base with which newly recruited elected officials and party officers can be added.

While most talk about the need for new political parties in the U.S. comes from the political left, it is actually the political right that most direly needs to be having this conversation.