This week I bit-off too much from the Navy Times and didn't have time to cut it down. Apologies.

I seem to drift too often into negative territory when I scribble about world events these days. I guess that's to be expected at 80, as I reel-off the remainder of my life. Good things happen also and are maybe too often ignored. But it's not the good stuff that's getting us in trouble.

I think of the Catholic Church for example, because it's the oldest and largest religion in the world. Its precipitous decline should be a point of interest if only for that reason, but even more so if this degeneration is shown to be intentional, which it is.

I wonder if our Navy is any healthier than the Church. The answer is a startling "No".

It seems our Navy was first to cave to incessant feminist demands to be involved in active combat positions equal to men. Feminism is at the heart of American military deficiencies. Women have always been essential to the American armed forces, primarily as nurses and technicians. The extraordinary heroism of female nurses during the Vietnam War especially exemplifies this. But the push to enlist women into combat positions, particularly aboard war ships and submarines, has proven to be a disaster for readiness, discipline, and mechanical operations. This is a fact that, due to instant and severe retribution (loss of rank) these issues are often ignored.

The fact is women are often unable to handle much of the heavy, difficult, dangerous workloads necessitated in handling shipboard equipment. This has nothing to do with intelligence, it has everything to do with physical strength. This is a fact (hotly disputed by feminists) in all combat branches of all services. Many studies prove this.

But the first, universal, historical objection to women in combat is their special, honored status as creators of our future. They bear the children of the next generation. No army has ever fielded women into combat for this reason. Exceptions due to emergency situations prove the rule. So, when the deck is on fire, slick with fuel and falling steel, the call should not be for small hands and weak wrists to save the ship and rescue the men.

After the numerous problems with women in combat (pregnancies, health issues, children, fraternizing with shipmates and physical fitness) there is the eternal problem of men taking orders from women in combat. Say what you want - it's a fact infused in a man's primordial understanding of a duty to protect women. Hard to deal with the opposite situation. Despite what the United Nations (and most social philosophers) may think, there's no such thing as gender equality - except absolute dignity. Men will never bear children and women will never be stronger than men.

On the practical side of the Navy's problems is, a serious shortage of sailors, serious lack of maintenance, serious lack of ships, and a very serious lack of traditional military ethics. Take the case of Fat Leonard, the bribery and corruption scandal.

"Since 2013, 31 people have been criminally charged in connection with the Fat Leonard bribery and corruption scandal. According to investigators, by November 2017, more than 440 people — including 60 admirals — have come under scrutiny under the inquiry." "As of September 2018, 30 people have pleaded guilty; 12 others have been charged (including eight Navy officers who were indicted in March 2017); four admirals were disciplined by the military; two others, four-star admiral Robert Willard and three-star Joe Donnelly, were known to be under investigation." I haven't followed-up on this case, but I believe it's the largest investigation in Navy history.

As for serious lack of training: "Magnifying the 7th Fleet’s troubles, and the Navy’s broader state of decline, were brutal and sudden budget cuts during the Obama administration by a Congress riven by continued partisan enmity."

"The Navy had seen its budget cut by almost 25 percent in real dollars in the 1990s, after the Cold War ended. The 600 ships the Navy boasted in the late 1980s would shrink by half. Then, the administration of George W. Bush committed America to two long and frustrating land wars."

"The efficiencies even included eliminating a requirement for ship captains to post lookouts on both sides of ships, a cut that would later prove crucial when the Fitzgerald’s crew failed to see a fast-closing cargo ship until it was too late."

"Clemons served as XO of the sister Arleigh Burke-class destroyer Fitzgerald from August 2017 to December 2017 — after the ship collided with a commercial vessel off Japan in June of that year, killing seven sailors."

"Promising a “workforce for the 21st century,” Clark’s team tried out new training and staffing ideas, including a decision that officers no longer needed to attend months of classroom training to learn the intricacies of operating billion-dollar warships. Instead, aspiring Surface Warfare Officers, charged with everything from driving ships to launching missiles, could learn mostly at sea with the help of packets of CDs. The program was widely derided by sailors as “SWOS in a Box.” "Four years later, confusion over the [destroyer] McCain’s new steering system caused the ship to turn in front of an oil tanker."

The 7th Fleet is hurt most seriously by lack of maintenance and shortage of experienced staff.

"A legion of poorly trained junior officers aboard the ships were being promoted, Balisle warned, creating a generation of unprepared leaders."

"When the Navy had 600 ships, about 100 were at sea at any given time. With half as many ships, the Navy still keeps about 100 at sea. In other words, as the Navy shrunk its fleet, it increased the workload on its sailors."

"The Navy’s surface forces needed $3.5 billion, he said, just to fix what was wrong with training alone."

The specter of a “hollow” Navy was expressed by senior officers.

"Three years later, the Fitzgerald would set sail with many of its computers and software out of date. For instance, its primary navigation system, known as the Voyage Management System, was running on Windows 2000 — the oldest version among ships based in Japan. Sailors would say that the navigation system would wrongly plot their position or the position of other ships."

"In January 2017, the USS Antietam, a guided missile cruiser on loan from the 3rd Fleet, ran aground on a shoal in the Tokyo Bay, in part because its skipper was in a rush that morning to get underway. No one was injured, but the ship gushed hundreds of gallons of hydraulic oil into the sea."

"They put together a troubling statistical picture: The fleet’s pace of operations was the highest in the Navy. Training was down. Certifications, which crews received after proving they were prepared to handle crucial war-fighting duties, had dropped from 93 percent completed in 2014 to 62 percent in 2016. That year, only two of the fleet’s 11 destroyers and cruisers received all recommended maintenance. One ship only got a quarter of its scheduled upkeep."

"It's hardly the picture the Navy’s top command presented to Congress. Indeed, on Feb. 7, 2017, four-star Adm. William Moran, vice chief of naval operations, testified before the House Committee on Armed Services. The Navy was in top shape, he testified. Overseas fleets, including the 7th, he said, were “operationally ready to respond to any challenge … and they have the training and resources they need to win any fight that might arise.”

That was a lie.

On Aug. 21, 2017, Aucoin got the call that another of his destroyers was involved in an avoidable crash. This one was worse than the last. Ten sailors dead.

First, the Catholic Church going down from criminal prelate activity, and now our Navy going down due to Congressional criminal negligence.

Next week maybe another piece of the problem.