Strangling in Red Tape

True – Code of Federal Regulations governing small business

This is interesting, from Jack Doll, writing in The Federalist.

In his seminal and controversial books “The Bell Curve”and “Coming Apart,” Charles Murray makes the compelling case that differences in intelligence between groups is creating a chasm between the rich and the poor that is only widening. In the modern age, the ability to critically think, read at an advanced level, and perform complex mathematics makes the difference between working in engineering, accounting, law, or the sandwich line at Subway.

This is not to say there isn’t worth in these non-intelligence-intensive fields. My father was a firefighter and although he didn’t have to perform calculus to do his job, the people he saved were likely eternally grateful either way. And, as Uncle Eddie in the hilarious TV show “Grounded for Life” once said, “If everyone could do anything they wanted, who would make the sandwiches?”

Well, if you say so. It might be true for making sandwiches at Subway, but being a firefighter, or at least living through being a firefighter, is certainly a way of making a living that requires intelligence. Think about it, you drive up to a building engulfed in flames, you have to decide whether to enter or whether it’s going to collapse, whether the heat is too high to survive, and many other real-life decisions that must be taken right now. I do not think the author means to demean his father here, but those of us that deal with things in real-life and real-time, see things not as something interesting to write about over the next few days, but as problems that have to be solved real-quick using the knowledge that we already have. One can learn a lot from books, and I’d bet that firefighters do, but the best knowledge comes from experience. The old saying is this, “Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment, hopefully, someone else’s”.

In all seriousness, however, the “intelligence gap” is a worsening problem that partially helps explain the rise of Donald Trump. In the book “Shattered,” Amie Parnes and Jonathan Allen quote Hillary Clinton aides who rave about Hillary’s policy “wonkiness” (a word only used in Washington DC). They detail how Hillary Clinton could have discussions for hours about the nuances of law and schemes to help “the children” or “women” (classic Hillary talking points). All of that sounds wonderful. Hillary acolytes who read that book I could barely get through might come out saying “she’s so smart, why on Earth isn’t she President?” They also unwittingly answer their own question.

Hillary Clinton’s plans, in reality, are Rube Goldberg machines. Rube Goldberg was a comic strip author who drew complex machines that accomplished a simple goal. For example a “self-operating napkin” (per Wikipedia) would operate as such: [Goldberg was also an engineer, UC Berkeley, ’04. Neo]

This, on the other hand, is an excellent and true point, with the extra added benefit of requiring even more bureaucrats to administer. Win, win, only the people lose, and who cares about them, other than their tax money.

Soup spoon (A) is raised to mouth, pulling string (B) and thereby jerking ladle (C), which throws cracker (D) past parrot (E). Parrot jumps after cracker and perch (F) tilts, upsetting seeds (G) into pail (H). Extra weight in pail pulls cord (I), which opens and ignites lighter (J), setting off skyrocket (K), which causes sickle (L) to cut string (M), allowing pendulum with attached napkin to swing back and forth, thereby wiping chin”

The usual definition of a Rube Goldberg contraption is a mechanism to accomplish a simple task involving a ridiculously overcomplicated series of devices. It is a perennial fun subject in engineering. When I was at Purdue, and continuing till this day, I think, the Engineering school sponsors a contest to design and make work the most ridiculous machines. It is the opposite of elegant design, which is enough to accomplish the mission and not a bit more. See the Golden Gate Bridge for an elegant example.

Enough is important though, see Galloping Gertie. And I’d bet somewhere in that organization there was an engineer, draftsman, or construction worker who knew what was going to happen to that bridge. There always is. But too much is just as bad, wasting resources, time, and money. It may not catastrophically fail, although sometimes it will, but it will never work properly.

One of the major issues with these regulatory schemes is that high-IQ people who love details (and are extraordinarily boring at parties) are too caught up with their own Rube Goldberg machines to see the obvious. It is reminiscent of the character of Lucifer in John Milton’s Paradise Lost. Lucifer (or Satan) is highly intelligent and rational (which explains why he is God’s highest angel). However, he is banished from God’s heavenly kingdom because he attempts an insurrection, as he believes himself to be as high as God. Rationality falls in love with its own creation and falls. Regulation creates unforeseen issues, which are papered over by more regulations. Eventually what we’re left with is a 20,000-page bill which is almost predestined to fail.

He’s speaking here of the Obamacare, which not only failed quicker than Galloping Gertie but was basically impossible to build, these designed pieces could not be made to fit. In my world, there is a chasm between the engineers, who can design the most amazing things, and the people who have to build them and make them work. Over 90% of the time, if built as designed, it won’t work, and can’t be made to. But good practical people can modify it, dink around and make it work, often better than the original design called for. It takes both.

The problem with people like Hillary, Obama, and a bunch of others, especially in Washington, is that they have no real world experience, they’ve lived their entire life off the government’s teat. The government produces nothing, and neither do the people who work for it (other, perhaps, than red tape and trouble) which they far too often use to hamstring the productive people who make a good life possible. Nothing new there, really, its always been that way.

Read his article, it’s a good one.



Horsepower and the Police

Things that can’t go on, don’t. We all know that, but we don’t have to like it. In my lifetime, America has had two types of car guys, normal guys that like to go fast, and cops that like to go fast – sometimes chasing the first group. When I was young, it was reasonably good natured on both sides, as long as it didn’t get too crazy.

But I come from an age when engine sizes were measured in cubic inches, and the ones you really wanted started with a 4 followed by two more numbers. 401, 409, 425, 440, and above all 426 followed by Hemi, the elephant itself, If you liked to be both comfortable and fast, you could add 472 and 500. The ones starting with 3 were ok, and you could get to the second gas station, but they weren’t the same. Note that there isn’t anything new about it, either, Packard had a 473 cubic inch V-12 in the late 30s. Yes, I still want one of those, and you can buy one for less than $200K, a bargain!

The guys with the bubble gum machines on top were not very different. America’s a big place, so are were American cars, there was a lot of ground to cover, and it needed to be done real quick.

What brought this on? Ford has announced the end of the Taurus, their last reasonable sized, rear wheel drive car, in other words: suitable for police use. That leaves the Dodge Charger, and its days are probably numbered as well. Why? Well, there is a story in that.

Back in the early seventies, civilians were driving cars with names like Camaro, Firebird, Charger, Challenger, Cutlass, Mustang, and some others. Most were pretty crude, with maybe an AM radio, but a proper gauge package, four-speed transmission, limited slip differential, and serious horsepower. The only thing they couldn’t pass was a gas station, but who really cared when we were paying 50¢ or so a gallon for gas.

But then we resupplied Israel during and after the Yom Kippur war, and the Arabs got irritated and started raising the price of crude oil, and the insurance companies decided they’d had enough of teenagers with powerful cars, and insurance became unaffordable. At that point, Uncle stepped in and mandated fuel mileage standards, and the party was over. For us and for Detroit too.

Essentially that triple whammy killed the American car industry, poor quality control didn’t help, but there wasn’t anything new about that. The knock on effects had much to do with the death of American steel as well. And so the rust belt became the rust belt. I lived there, I watched it happen. The rust belt was caused by the US government, never forget it.

So, what did we do? We soldiered on for a few years with pretenders, like Malibus with 305 2 bbl engines, but Detroit still had some marketing savvy, and soon the workaday American pickup got comfortable, and got most of the toys we had in the sixties, including the big engines, eventually things like Cummins Turbo Diesels (a transplant from an industrial engine) with anything up to somewhere around 750 horsepower. At that point most of us car guys became truck guys.

That set off the sourpusses at the EPA so they’ve been trying to rein that in as well, but they’re having trouble managing that, Americans aren’t as docile as we used to be, and the country hasn’t gotten any smaller, and our motto is still, “Real quick” just as d Tocqueville noticed way back when. And in truth when the Kabuki theater of TSA got going, driving became even more attractive.

The Police are doing the exact same thing we did, more and more they are driving SUVs and Pickups, because if anything they’re carrying more stuff around with them, and it ain’t gonna fit in a smart car, and a Prius ain’t gonna catch many bank robbers.

Unintended consequences, damned near killed America, but we’re still here, bitchin’, moanin’, and getting on with it. And that is how we got both Donald Trump, and Scot Pruitt.

More on this at The American Spectator.

The System IS the Scam

I grew up watching Chicago television, and the obvious and ongoing corruption was not so much normal as a cost of doing business, like the flames shooting out of the blast furnaces at US Steel. It just was, always had been, and likely always would. As somebody at Second City Cop said recently, the last time Chicago Aldercreatures were honest was sometime before early 1837. But it was honest corruption, in a sense. You could get things done, it just cost a ridiculous amount, and often wasn’t done all that well. But not too many people died, and the pols got rich, so…

But, this, even by that standard is ridiculous. From The American Spectator.

The best rackets are legitimate.

A century ago, the people accepted flagrant public corruption. Dim cynicism the popular spirit, it’s likely they’d still be so disposed today. But the politicians and their swarms of supplicants have acquired subtlety and subterfuge. Why press their luck?

We still have the graft and boodle that Lincoln Steffens chronicled in The Shame of the Cities, but now it’s all above-board. The best schemes are almost indistinguishable from the regular function of government. Almost. In the back rooms, somebody puts in a word for somebody, somebody threatens somebody, but that’s the part we don’t hear about.

It’s the bad luck of Terry McAuliffe, the Clinton barnacle-turned-Democratic governor of Virginia and a rumored presidential candidate in 2020, that his wheedling and arm-twisting inside the federal bureaucracy is now a matter of public record. He got sued last week, along with Hillary Clinton’s brother Anthony Rodham, accused of running “a $120 million scam” to defraud Chinese immigrants.

Did McAuliffe break the law? That’s almost beside the point. The essence of modern graft is crony capitalism — you don’t break the law, you make the law work for you.

The game: set up an obstacle, then offer a way past it for a price. We usually think of crony capitalism as tilting the field in favor of one company or one industry through preferential regulation, but McAuliffe’s arrangement was an even purer form. After all, what is the nature of government? It is to forbid, to restrict, to alter affairs from their natural course. Government creates problems and then pretends to offer a solution.

The EB-5 investor visa program is one long chain of government-created problems and solutions.

Foreign direct investment is of course an unalloyed good for the U.S. economy, but immigration law stands in the way of many potential investors. The laissez-faire thing to do would be to make visas freely available and get out of the way, but that would be too simple.

Much better to complicate it with all sorts of rules and red tape, that can’t all be complied with so the only solution is to buy yourself some interest (otherwise known as pull).

McAuliffe was one of the guys who ran GreenTech, a company whose business model was designed to fit even more government regulations and incentives: GreenTech made electric cars, little Neighborhood Electric Vehicles that go 25 mph, and cost $16,000. You’ll notice I said “made,” and not “sold,” as there has been zero consumer interest in a pricey golf cart that can’t even hold golf clubs. […]

That had a lot to do with why the state of Virginia had refused to get involved with the project, despite McAuliffe’s pull there. In 2009, the state’s veteran economic development director told colleagues, “(I) still can’t get my head around this being anything other than a visa-for-sale scheme with potential national security implications.”

When an economic development official, whose business is crony capitalism, finds your model suspect, I think you’re due some congratulations. That’s like making Louis C.K. blush.

Eventually, McAuliffe set up shop in Mississippi, thanks to $8 million in land, grants, and other incentives. The state is now in litigation to claw back $6.4 million from the company.

It’s true when the influence peddlers think your scheme is too blatant a fraud, well maybe your scheme is, uh fraudulent.

The real problem, the more general problem, is that the government is in any position to be assessing the viability of a commercial venture, one that’s bent out of shape from the start thanks to political dictates.

If we’re going to do investor visas, they ought to be straightforward, and useful for any type of legitimate investment in American business. Allowing unapproved start-ups, of course, could open the door to different sorts of scams — a fake business goes belly-up and slips the cash back to its “investors.”

But that is a different problem, one with reasonably straightforward solutions, if one wants to solve problems, rather than create new ones to solve, for a price. Usually a very high price.

Railsplitters, Tailors, and Government Bureaus

Speaking of the CFPB, this is interesting, from The Federalist.

Although the Reconstruction Era has gotten more mainstream attention lately, to most Americans the Andrew Johnson administration is still a part of the dusty past. The CFPB dispute is, as David Harsanyi explained earlier this week, about which employee has the right to occupy the office of CFPB director. So did the dispute that led to Johnson’s impeachment and near-conviction. Only in that case, the office in question was of much greater importance: secretary of war.

In the days following the Civil War, the secretary of war (a predecessor to the secretary of defense, but without jurisdiction over the navy) occupied an important position in domestic politics, as his job included presiding over the reconstruction of the conquered Confederacy. After Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, his successor, Johnson, seemed to be in accord with Secretary of War Edwin Stanton and the Republican-dominated Congress on how to accomplish this.

Things soon changed. Johnson returned to his pre-war Democratic Party loyalty and worked to re-admit the Southern states to the Union quickly, with no other changes than a de jure abolition of slavery. Stanton and congressional leaders saw their task as larger, and wanted to ensure greater equality for the former slaves in fact as well as in law. As Johnson gradually replaced Lincoln appointees in the cabinet, Stanton was increasingly the only voice in the administration for a vigorous scheme of occupying and rebuilding in the South.

Stanton’s allies in Congress worked to protect him by passing the Tenure of Office Act in 1867. The act decreed that any officer appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate could not be removed by the president unless the Senate approved. Johnson saw the act for what it was—a curtailment of executive power—and vetoed it, but Congress overrode the veto and the bill became a law. The president no longer had control over his own appointees.

Johnson initially acted in accordance with the law and suspended Stanton while Congress was in recess, selecting Commanding General Ulysses S. Grant to serve as acting secretary in his stead. Stanton went along with this, as Grant was closer to congressional Republicans in his views than to Johnson. When the recess ended, the Senate refused to concur in Stanton’s removal, and Grant returned the office to him. Then Johnson declared the Tenure of Office Act unconstitutional and said Stanton’s removal was valid. He appointed Maj. Gen. Lorenzo Thomas to the “vacancy” and instructed him to report to the War Department for work.

Stanton refused to accept Thomas’s appointment and declined to yield the office. Thomas took the office across the hall, and both men declared themselves the true secretary of war. Stanton retained the keys to the office and did not leave the room, eating and sleeping there for months to prevent Thomas from seizing it.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives voted articles of impeachment against Johnson, specifically for his open violation of the law, but more generally for his obstruction of Congress’s plans for Reconstruction. The Senate fell one vote short of conviction, and Johnson remained in the White House. With Grant nominated for president and Johnson on the way out, Stanton gave up the fight and relinquished the office.

Rule Without Consequences

The stakes of the fight over the CFPB directorship are far lower, but the precedents of the Stanton-Thomas affair provide a guideline for how the current quarrel should proceed, both legally and politically.

The Tenure of Office Act of 1867 and the Dodd-Frank Act, which created the CFPB, both aim at the same result: removing the power from the president to control members of his administration. The Tenure of Office Act’s authors were concerned with keeping Johnson from overturning Lincoln’s legacy. Dodd-Frank’s authors had a wider goal in mind: removing politics from government. This fits the general progressive belief that we would be better governed by unelected technocrats than by politicians who must take popular opinion into account.

It is a strange take on a republic, and at odds with the Founding Fathers’ opinions. They knew that the government would contain officers who wished to trample the people’s rights. It has been true of every government, elected or unelected, since mankind emerged from the state of nature. The government of the people, by the people, and for the people acknowledges that the people in question are all flawed. As James Madison famously wrote in Federalist 51:

If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.

Do read it all.

And, in fine, that was much of the point of the Constitution, to throw sand in the gears of the government.  The founders knew, even better than we do, the cry of the American to his government, “Leave me alone!”. After all they fought a war, against the greatest empire of the age for that very reason. But as long as men (and women) seek personal advantage from government (and that is until Christ returns) the vigilance of the citizens will always be required.

Ronnie was absolutely right about the most feared words in the language, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help”.

A Privileged Miracle

Interesting how things get turned on their head when one really thinks about them. Kind of like a revolution. to wit.

A young person said this recently:

“The Founders were all white privileged men”

To which the answer was:

“Yes. And your point is?”

“They wrote the Constitution to protect their interests. It was stacked for rich white men from the beginning.”

Which is also mostly true at the time.

“Do you know what the ‘true’ Miracle was in Philadelphia in that hot summer of 1787?” he was asked.

The real miracle was that they did not establish a kingdom or an oligarchy forever. Which they very easily could have done and some, including Alexander Hamilton, wanted to see done.

The Founders turned to the writings of John Locke and other classical liberal thinkers not only to set the predicate for the Constitution with the immortal words “all men are created equal” in Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence in 1776, but also to pour the concrete foundation of our country with principles to establish the first free democratic republic which has been copied the world over to set people free for the last 228 years.

Our Founders had every power at their disposal to set up a parliamentary government to serve a king. But they didn’t. George Washington voluntarily retired to his farm and distillery at Mount Vernon and set the paradigm for citizen-politicians ever since.

Our Founders had every power at their disposal to set up an oligarchical form of government similar to the ancient Greeks in Athens. The “rich white privileged men” in Philadelphia didn’t have to mention equality for everyone or free speech, religion, press, assembly or the right to petition the government for anyone else but members of the oligarchy, but they did.

Instead of 100 percent serving their own narrow interests, they fought tooth-and-nail over provisions in the Constitution to enable a free flow of commerce and trade, a strong centralized national defense and individual freedoms and liberties unlike the world had ever seen before. Their aversion to total concentration of power in the hands of King George III led them to go to the other end of the spectrum to set up a system of government that does its darndest to frustrate and prevent capricious actions on the part of a president or even small groups of one faction or the other in the U.S. Senate versus the U.S. House.

All true, you know as is the rest at The ‘Real’ Miracle In Philadelphia, 1787

And that, of course, is why the left is forever trying to redefine terms, everything they falsely advocate for, is already available, although, like anything worthwhile, it does have a cost. And that is their problem, they think that with the power of the gun, they can make all this good stuff free. But you can not make people think, innovate or be productive. You always end up back with the old Soviet folk saying, “We pretend to work as long as they pretend to pay us.”

But that system works fine for the Nomenklatura as long as there are German appliances to be bought, doesn’t work at all for the people even close to the bottom of the ladder, such as the middle class in Venezuela. The thing is, socialism runs on envy. It’s not that you have your ball and can take it home, it’s that you have a ball and I don’t, but I’m not willing to do what you did to buy that ball. But it’s bad for you to have something I don’t, so I’ll destroy it. And then there will be no ball to play with.

Mind, I didn’t say they make any rational sense, they don’t. They’re just vindictive, irrational people, who since they are not happy, think we all should be unhappy.

I feel sorry for them, really I do. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to let them write the rules. It’s a very long time since I played football with Lucy, and there is a reason for that.

Lights Out!

Illustration on the risk of EMP attacks on the nation’s power grid by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

As far back as when I was in college, farther really, but as solid state equipment increased it was becoming more urgent, warnings have been sounded about an EMP attack. I wrote about it as far back as 2012, here, in relation to Iran. Nothing has changed in all that time, except the threat has gotten worse, especially with the addition of North Korea, and our vulnerability increasingly worse.

Our vulnerability has gotten worse because while vacuum tubes had many weaknesses they had some survivability against current surges, transistors have less, and integrated circuits have almost none. That is why we have to protect them from static electricity. When I was in school, our stereos were beginning to be solid state, our TVs were mostly tube type, our cars had transistor radios but were controlled by mechanical means, and our industry was controlled by men and relays.

Today, all of these things are controlled by solid state electronics, computers, as are trucks, farm equipment, railroad locomotives (and the railroads themselves), and nearly everything else in an advanced civilization. It has become our Achilles heel.

Writing in the Washington Times, Peter Vincent Pry tells us that the bureaucracy again knows how to deal with a threat, kill the messenger.

The Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack terminated on September 30, ironically, the same month North Korea tested an H-bomb it described as “a multifunctional thermonuclear nuke with great destructive power which can be detonated even at high altitudes for superpowerful EMP attack.”

For 17 years, the EMP Commission warned about the existential EMP threat.

Rogue states or terrorists can blackout national electric grids and other life-sustaining critical infrastructures, topple electronic civilization, and kill millions from sea to shining sea, with a single high-altitude nuclear detonation, generating an EMP field covering North America. Natural EMP from a solar superstorm could blackout the whole world. EMP is considered a cyber weapon, not a nuclear weapon, in the military doctrines of Russia, China, North Korea and Iran.

On October 12, before a House Homeland Security Subcommittee chaired by Rep. Scott Perry, the EMP Commission staff delivered a final testimony, lamenting Washington bureaucrats are still oblivious to EMP.

The Department of Defense (DOD), Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Energy (DOE), still largely staffed by Obama-holdovers, did not ask Congress to continue the EMP Commission.

The Secretaries of DOD and DOE ignored repeated requests to meet with the EMP Commission. DOE thinks the EMP threat is unproven and plans to partner with the electric power industry on studying EMP until 2020 and beyond.

DOD is letting DOE waste millions of dollars on unnecessary studies while DOD sits on a mountain of classified studies proving the EMP threat is real — which is why DOD has spent billions EMP hardening military systems.

Experts who have worked on protecting military systems from EMP for decades know how to harden our critical national infrastructure, but electric power organizations such as the Electric Power Research Institute and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation are not asking them for help.

A senior DHS official, speaking anonymously, recently told Fox News that EMP is a “theoretical” threat and lower priority than “real” threats, like cyber-attacks and sabotage. […]

Real world failures of electric grids from various causes indicate nuclear EMP attack would have catastrophic consequences. Big blackouts have been caused by small failures cascading into system-wide failures:

• The Great Northeast Blackout of 2003 — that put 50 million people in the dark for a day, contributed to at least 11 deaths and cost an estimated $6 billion — happened when a power line contacted a tree branch, damaging less than 0.0000001 (0.00001 percent) of the system.

• The New York City Blackout of 1977, that resulted in the arrest of 4,500 looters and injury of 550 police officers, was caused by a lightning strike on a substation that tripped two circuit breakers.

• The Great Northeast Blackout of 1965, that effected 30 million people, happened because a protective relay on a transmission line was improperly set.

• India’s nationwide blackout of July 30-31, 2012 — the largest blackout in history, effecting 670 million people, 9 percent of the world population — was caused by overload of a single high-voltage power line.

In contrast to the above blackouts caused by small-scale failures, nuclear EMP attack would inflict massive widespread damage to electric grids.

A protracted blackout endangering millions will be the inevitable result of the EMP attack described by the North Koreans.

But the EMP Commission won’t be around anymore to help prevent electronic Armageddon.

Via Warsclerotic/Dan Miller

This particular threat is just as theoretical as watching a robber pointing a gun at you, while his finger tightens on the trigger. And it is just that existential to us as a nation.

Dan followed this up with a report from Forbes

Unlike a conventional ICBM which launches and then goes into a suborbital flight before re-entering Earth’s atmosphere, an EMP warhead need not re-enter Earth’s atmosphere before exploding hundreds of kilometers above its target. Super-EMP weapons are designed to produce a high level of gamma rays, which generate the sort of high-frequency electromagnetic pulse that is most damaging to the broadest range of electronics, the report concludes.

And if the EMP device just happens to be part onboard an orbiting satellite, North Korea need only detonate the device remotely via encoded signal. Pry, Chief of Staff of the now de-funded Congressional EMP Commission, told me that at an altitude of 300 kilometers, the resulting electromagnetic pulse would affect all 48 contiguous states.

A warhead fused for an EMP in a satellite or ICBM could work on a timer, via GPS, or using an altimeter, says Pry, a nuclear strategist formerly with the CIA, who has a certificate in nuclear weapons design from the U.S. Air Force nuclear weapons lab. He says North Korea could even rig the warhead to detonate in the event that it was intercepted by our own missile defenses.

The consequences of such a detonation would be dire.

“The U.S. can sustain a population of 320 million people only because of modern technology,” said Pry. “An EMP that blacks-out the electric grid for a year would [decimate] the critical infrastructure necessary to support such a large population.”

In three days, the food supply in local grocery stores would be consumed and the 30-day national food supply in regional warehouses would begin to spoil, says Pry. In one year, he contends that up to 90 percent of the population could perish from starvation, disease, and societal collapse.

After generating gamma-rays that interact with air molecules in Earth’s stratosphere, a so-called fast pulse EMP field of tens of kilovolts would only last a few hundred nanoseconds.

But in the event of such an attack, aircraft electronics would be fried, as well as electronics in air traffic control towers, and navigation systemssays Pry. “Airliners would crash killing many of the 500,000 people flying over North America at any given moment,” he said.

Pry says electro-mechanical systems which regulate the flow of gas through pipelines would spark; causing the gas to ignite and result in massive firestorms in cities and large forest fires.

There would be no water; no communications; and mass transportation would be paralyzed, says Pry. In seven days, he contends that reactors in U.S.’ nuclear power plants would essentially melt down, spreading radioactivity across most of the nation.

What could be done to ensure a quick restoration of the grid?

Some 2000 extra-high voltage (EHV) transformers make up the foundation of the U.S. grid, says Pry. But as he notes, since they each weigh hundreds of tons, they are extraordinarily hard to transport. Thus, if most are destroyed, there’s no quick fix.

So, how do we best protect against an EMP?

The U.S. should be prepared to also include limited surgical strikes to destroy North Korea’s ICBMs, says Pry. But he says the best, safest, and least provocative solution is to EMP-harden the electric grid and other critical infrastructures.

Via (again) Warsclerotic/Dan Miller

When we talked about this in the early seventies in college, we knew then the grid was vulnerable, because many of the control parts are susceptible to this type of damage. It is now at least an order of magnitude worse since control has been centralized and computerized, without regard for hardening against this threat. It has often been said that the best defense is a good offense, in this case, at least in the medium term, the ONLY defense is a good offense.

And understand, while the consequences for the United States are dire indeed, they are also for the world as we know it. America feeds much of the world – and that will end that day, as we go from the indispensable nation to a bunch of people who cannot feed themselves with the tools they have. Just about every machine in America, built since the 70s, will be so much scrap iron. Recovery will take likely centuries. In truth, it won’t happen.

But hey, we won’t have those busybodies from the EMP Commission preaching doom and gloom at us anymore.  As Charlie Sheen would say, “Winning!”

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