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.

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