American Elephants

A Drill: Can The Government Respond to A Power Grid Collapse? by The Elephant's Child

America at night

An electrical grid joint drill simulation is being planned in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Power grid vulnerabilities are finally getting some attention from the government.

We’ve been talking about it for years, but there have been no reports about what is being done, except that the EPA is vigorously attempting to shut down all power-producing coal-fired power plants because the environmental loonies at the Sierra Club don’t like coal. They assume incorrectly that global warming, in which they believe with religious fervor, is caused by CO² produced by coal-fired power plants. They are big on fervor, short on science.

A simulation which will focus on both physical and cyber attacks will take place in November. The disaster drill is being described as a crisis practice unlike anything the real power grid has ever experienced. The GridEX II drill on November 13–14 will focus primarily on how governments will react if the electrical grid fails and, for instance, the food supply chain collapses, and the requirements for everyday necessities.

The problem is that there are so many players. Thousands of utility workers, business executives, National Guard officers, F.B.I. antiterrorism experts and officials from all sorts of government agencies from the three countries.

Previous exercises have assumed that the grid would be back in order relatively quickly, but that is not necessarily a reasonable assumption. The real goal of the drill is to see how governments would react if the supply chain went down. From the performance of FEMA in Hurricane Sandy, confidence is fairly low. But the point is to educate the government on what their expectation should  and shouldn’t be.

The grid is essential for almost everything. Consider your grocer: no lights, no refrigeration, no operating deli, no coffee, no cash registers, but the doors wouldn’t open anyway. The grid is controlled by investor-owned companies or municipal or regional agencies. Ninety-nine percent of military facilities rely on commercial power, including the White House. The utilities have grid operations expertise, the government has the intelligence operation, the standing army, the three-letter agencies.

The expertise involves running 5,800 major power plants and 450,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines, monitored and controlled by a vast mix of devices installed over decades. Some utilities rely on their own antique computer protocols, others rely on Windows-based systems that are common to many industries, but they may be vulnerable to malware. Sometimes utility engineers and law enforcement officials speak different languages.

An effort led by former CIA Director James Woolsey is gearing up to pressure state legislatures to force utilities to protect equipment against an electromagnetic pulse, which cold be a huge expense for utilities.

The utility industry argues that the government has extensive information on threats but keeps it classified. Government officials acknowledge the problem but insist utility executives get security clearances. Congress is debating laws that could impose new standards, but many in the industry doubt that such laws could pass.

That’s how governments bumble along. Will a big simulation light a fire under all the players? Strong leadership from the top can make all the difference, but is anybody really serious about this? It remains to be seen. That’s one reason why conservatives push for smaller more-efficient government.

Fancy Fried Favorites Vie For the Big Tex Choice Award! by The Elephant's Child

In keeping with our State Fair theme, The State Fair of Texas has a “Big Tex Choice Award,” a fried food award for the most — maybe just the “MOST“. Past winners have been Fried Coke, Deep Fried Jambalaya, Deep-Fried Bubblegum ?, Deep Fried Latte and Deep-Fried Butter. Why? I guess because you have a big deep fryer and a vivid imagination.


This Texas-shaped morsel is melted cheese, dipped in a zesty southwestern egg wash and coated in panko breadcrumbs, then deep fried golden brown and crunchy on the outside, steamy and creamy on the inside! Served with a side of red, white and blue tortilla chips and a choice of homemade “salsafied” sour cream or cheesy queso (sic). Each one proudly flies the flag of the Lone Star State and is deep fried in the heart of Texas!

Fox News pictures the eight finalists, with enough of a recipe for you to create them at home if you wish. Besides Fernie’s Deep Fried King Ranch Casserole (above), there is 2). Awesome Deep Fried Nutella®, 3) Deep Fried Cuban Roll, 4) Fried Thanksgiving Dinner, 5) Golden Fried Millionaire Pie, 6) Spinach Dip Bites, 7) Southern Style Chicken-Fried Meatloaf, and 8) Texas Fried Fireball.

Step right up, Ladies and Gentlemen. Do you have a cast-iron stomach? Tums are available at the drugstore right across the street from the fair entrance. Vote for your favorite!

Deep fried bubblegum? Why?


A Level of Intensity Just Muscular Enough Not to Get Mocked by The Elephant's Child


Syria.  The U.S. goal is “not to get mocked?” We are going to attack sooner or later, but time is not of the essence, we can do it any time. We’re not going to attack Assad, nor his chemical weapons supplies, and we don’t want to hurt anyone.

A U.S. official said that the initial target lists included fewer than 50 sites, including air bases where Syria’s Russian-made attack helicopters are. The list includes command and control centers as well as a variety of conventional military targets. Perhaps two to three missiles would be aimed at each site.

What the hell is this? Don Rumsfeld remarked that “De-mystifying what you’re going to do to the enemy is — mindless. …There hasn’t been any indication from the administration in respect to what our national interest is.”

Mark Steyn thoughtfully added:

So what do we want in Syria? Obama can’t say, other than for him to look muscular without being mocked, like a camp bodybuilder admiring himself in the gym mirror. …

Meanwhile, the hyperpower is going to war because Obama wandered off prompter and accidentally made a threat. So he has to make good on it, or America will lose its credibility. But he only wants to make good on it in a perfunctory and ineffectual way. So America will lose its credibility, anyway.

Everybody is commenting. Vladimir Putin said he is sure that the attack was the work of rebels trying to provoke international— and especially American — involvement in the Syrian conflict. The government of Bashar al Assad, he said, would have no reason to use chemical weapons at a time when it had gained the upper hand in the fighting.

U.S. Intelligence agencies had indications three days beforehand that the Syrian regime was poised to launch a lethal chemical attack that killed more than a thousand people.

This kind of thing promotes endless speculation, which is of course useless, since you can’t get into another person’s mind, but you speculate anyway. Obama has been quoted some time back saying he didn’t believe anyone should be able to have a gun. I wonder if he has ever been to a war movie, or read any military history? He came of age when it was fashionable among lefties to protest all wars, in mindless ignorance of what they were actually about.

I spent a good part of last Sunday at Seattle’s Museum of Flight touring a B-17, admiring what was at the time, the brand new Navy Corsair, and the astonishingly huge X-15 Blackbird. I have always read military books. I cannot imagine being so unfamiliar with things military that I would confuse corps and corpse. But if you identify something as bad or evil, you’re not apt to pursue information about that subject, and you turn for information to the writers and historians who agree with you.  Trouble is, your ignorance usually catches up with you, especially when you’re trying to sound in charge.

No rush. Obama will consult with Congress, though he says, he is perfectly entitled to act on his own. Here’s the actual quote from the Los Angeles Times:

One U.S. official who has been briefed on the options on Syria said he believed the White House would seek a level of intensity “just muscular enough not to get mocked” but not so devastating that it would prompt a response from Syrian allies Iran and Russia.

Three-Dimensional Illusions in Street Art by The Elephant's Child

(h/t: Maggie’s Farm)


Who is Really Protesting and What Exactly Do They Want? by The Elephant's Child

Fast Food Protests

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is trying to unionize the fast-food industry. Fast food workers (augmented by hired strikers) are striking restaurants in major cities, to demand that employers should hike their wages to $15 an hour. Because they want more money.

“On Strike: Can’t Survive on $7.25.” Workers are targeting a whole industry. They want more pay, and they want to unionize because SEIU is telling them that if they strike they can get $15 an hour for the same work the are doing now. SEIU is not telling them about the jobs that would be lost, nor is SEIU telling them that there is now a robot hamburger maker that can make better hamburgers faster and cheaper. They can be replaced. Permanently.

Unions in general are a little fuzzy about the laws of supply and demand. Union interest is in acquiring more union members and more union dues because that gives them more political power. Unions portray the fast food industry as ruthless and exploitative. Phil Hickey, who started out washing dishes in a Big Boy restaurant and now owns nine of his own restaurants, and is chairman of the National Restaurant Association, writes in the Wall Street Journal:

Consider the facts about the minimum wage. The majority of workers who earn a minimum wage in the United States work outside of the restaurant industry. In reality, only 5% of the 10 million restaurant employees earn the minimum wage. Those who do are predominantly teenagers working part-time jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 71% of minimum-wage employees in the restaurant industry are under the age of 25; 47% are teenagers.

Striking fast-food workers seem not to have noticed that our economy is in the tank, that people are being laid off full-time jobs, and the only real job growth is in part-time jobs specifically because of ObamaCare regulations.Many fear that we are becoming a part-time nation. The best performing business in the current economy is the temporary-worker industry. Small businesses are closing their doors at an alarming rate, and the unemployment rate is as low as it is because of the huge increase in part-time work.

Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour simply eliminates entry-level positions, for employers will hire only experienced workers. A “living wage” is a nice turn of phrase, but meaningless. Why $15? Why not $25, or $50? Do workers expect to stay in that entry-level position, or do they intend to advance? How does a worker go from washing dishes to owning nine restaurants? Is that a potential career open to all those people now protesting?

Looking at Google Image pictures of striking fast-food workers, I was struck by the absence of the young people I encounter at fast food restaurants.  The visible older “strikers” seemed to be the same strikers last seen in purple SEIU tee shirts. Doesn’t lend much credibility to their protest.

Can Democrats Fool All of Their Base All of The Time? by The Elephant's Child

The Democrats real history with race and slavery is not something on which they choose to dwell. They have chosen instead, a pleasant tale in which they are the heroes of the civil rights movement — who have freed black Americans from oppression and restored the civil rights to which they are entitled. They have uplifted poor blacks with generous welfare; they have occasionally fought for better schools if the teachers union approves; they have given them affirmative action so they can attend college; and they have given them generous student loans and permanent debt; They have provided food stamps; and 47 job training programs, all ineffective; and built free housing. They have given them free phones.

Democrats have had some success with their pleasant little fantasy about race. So they are betting that they can win the midterm election next year by telling black people that requiring a person to show photo ID in order to vote — is an attempt by Republicans to deny their right to vote.

This is so outrageous that  you cannot see how anyone would fall for it. But Democrats are pursing it with a full court press. Attorney General Eric Holder is suing states to block any requirement that voters  prove their identity, because it is racist. There are very few people who do not have picture ID. You need a photo ID to cash a check, to open a bank account, to get food stamps, to get on an airplane, and to enter the building housing Eric Holder’s Justice Department. Photo ID is available to anyone, for free, from a drivers license bureau. So asking to see ID is clearly a racist act.

Politico, always ready to toe the party line, gives it the full agitprop treatment:

The irony of the historical forces colliding at that moment won’t be lost on anyone. The nation’s first African-American president, standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial where Martin Luther King Jr. stood 50 years earlier, will speak at a time when many African-Americans and other minorities feel that the Voting Rights Act — one of the proudest accomplishments of the civil rights movement — is being dismantled.

The backdrop for the big event is a surge in voter ID laws and other restrictive election measures, and the legal fight the Obama administration has picked with Texas to stop the wave. It’s suing to block the state’s voter ID law from taking effect, a clear signal to other states to think twice before they pass any more restrictions on voting rights.

The other portion of this phony political ploy is the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was intended to prohibit discrimination such as poll taxes, refusal to allow a qualified voter to vote, any form of intimidation, any “test or device” such as a literacy test, or residency requirements that require more than 30 days between registering and voting. The act requires election materials and assistance for a single language minority or illiteracy. The act required certain Southern states who had engaged in such discriminatory practices to get a pre-clearance before making any changes to their voting requirements.

Eric Holder is attempting to claim that because blacks and Hispanics are more apt than white citizens not to have photo ID ( Proof of that illogical claim?) requiring photo ID is a form of discrimination and the state should be required to get pre-clearance and be prevented from requiring such ID. Perhaps the Justice Department should be prevented from requiring photo ID from anyone who wants to enter their building. If it is “racist” for Texas, it is also racist for the Justice Department.

The Court found, June 25, 3013, in Shelby County v. Holder, since blacks were voting in larger percentages than white citizens and had been doing so for many years, that discrimination had ended, and requiring pre-clearance was thus unconstitutional. The pre-clearance part of the law had thus served its intent, and was no longer needed. The Obama administration had no intention of giving up that amount of control. Obama stated that the Supreme Court made a “mistake” on voting rights, but he ignores the Court unless they agree with him. Only the pre-clearance part of the Act was struck down, the rest remains in force. So this whole political ploy is a pretty risky maneuver.

Democrats have no accomplishments to boost their electoral chances next year. The economy has not improved, most of the jobs created have been part time, the only reason the unemployment rate is as low as it is, is because so many people have dropped out of the labor force entirely. Wages are down, and household net worth has decreased sharply. ObamaCare is an unworkable train wreck. The people who have really gotten the short end of the stick are Black Americans, with double digit unemployment numbers, and young black people’s unemployment rate is twice that. Obama’s promises to black Americans were just words to keep them believing.

Economist Thomas Sowell explained Obama’s approach:

Like other truly talented phonies, Barack Obama concentrates his skills on the effect of his words on other people— most of whom do not have the time to become knowledgeable about the things he is talking about. Whether what he says bears any relationship to the facts is politically irrelevant. A talented con man or a slick politician does not waste his time trying to convince knowledgeable skeptics. His job is to keep the true believers believing. He is not going to convince the others anyway.

Eleanor Holmes Norton, Representative of the District of Columbia. by The Elephant's Child

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton represents the District of Columbia, and though she can sit on committees and voice her opinion, she has no vote. Democrats are anxious to make the District a state, since it is reliably Democratic. They want to win. Nevermind rules, ethics or Constitution. They want permanent power and they want the rest of us to shut up. They don’t like dissent. Transforming members of Congress into lobbyists? Fine.

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton left a voicemail for a lobbyist in which she brazenly begs for a “contribution.” It’s a not-so-subtle reminder of how legalized bribery is the standard operating procedure in Washington. Until money is taken out of politics, this kind of corruption will only get worse and worse. The Young Turks host Cenk Uygur breaks it down.

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