Amb. Henry F. Cooper, Chairman Lt. Gen. Daniel Graham, Founder
High Frontier . . Building Truly Effective Defenses . . . Reagan’s Vision Lives!
E-Mail Message 141022
Who you gonna believe, me or your lying eyes?
By Ambassador Henry F. Cooper
October 22, 2014
“[The federal government’s] purpose is to safeguard the American people and pursue our interests in the world, not to solve the world’s problems on our dime and, occasionally, by using us as laboratory mice. As free people, we can try to save the planet. The federal government, however, was not created to do it for us, much less to coerce us into implausible “humanitarian” schemes that always manage to line some crony’s pocket. National interest is our government’s only reliable compass, yet it has been discarded.” ~Andy McCarthy
I’ve taken my title this week from a noted question associated with a routine in a 1933 black and white movie, Duck Soup, which involved a scene involving what appeared to be a mirror image, but actually was a staged presentation by Groucho Marx and his brother, Chico. (Click here for a YouTube presentation, which in addition to its humor illustrates considerable talent.)
This humorous presentation reminds me of the false game the administration is playing, generally echoed by the mainstream media and other administration acolytes. And there are also bi-partisan congressional threatening overtones—and from appointed officials and/or commissions that are supposed to be protecting us.
“We the people” need to understand these issues and guard against actions that are claimed to assure our security while actually undermining it.
The Administration Follies.
Andy McCarthy wrote a humorous, but all too accurate critique of this charade in his October 18th National Review Online article, entitled “Incompetence Meets Mendacity in Obama Administration’s Ebola Response.” He notes that politics is actually about real life and real stakes—and cannot forever be stage-managed as a “narrative” with “optics,” a daily show focused on how the lead character is affected by the latest crisis.
The public is waking up to the charade . . . and even some of the mainstream media are awakening, especially as Ebola concerns grow . . . and it gets personal as folks wonder if they are threatened; and if they are threatened, whether they will have doctors they trust and support from the powers that be. Click here for Andy’s full article, the most memorable paragraph of which ridicules a number of chapters in this continuing charade:
“Of course you can keep your health coverage, and your doctor. And we’ll cover everyone while your premiums plummet. Meanwhile, al-Qaeda is “decimated” and these Islamic State guys are just the jayvee team. In fact (fact?), they’re not even Islamic — although they may not be quite as “secular” as the Muslim Brotherhood. Just extremists. (Extreme about what? Don’t ask.) Jihad is just a “purification of the self” . . . or, at most, “workplace violence.” Benghazi? A spontaneous “protest” incited by a video. The President was not told it was a terrorist attack . . . except by the Secretary of Defense right after it started — long before he responded by . . . going to Vegas, where he promptly announced al-Qaeda was “on the path to defeat.” Still, rest assured that the State Department’s top priority is the safety of American personnel . . . although we did reduce security in Benghazi after our facility was bombed. And rest assured that the Justice Department would never ever let guns walk . . . except for the thousands its Fast and Furious program transferred to violent gangs — who’ve used them in who knows how many crimes, including the murder of a Border Patrol agent. Still, at least there’s “not a smidgen of corruption” at the IRS, where citizens are harassed, evidence keeps disappearing, and the official at the center of it all takes the Fifth to avoid giving incriminating testimony. No matter. Just take heart that Ebola is not coming to the United States . . . um, well, if it does come there will be no outbreak . . . but, er, if there is an outbreak, we have careful protocols and health-care professionals fully trained to deal with it . . . and even if the protocols don’t work and the professionals don’t have adequate training, we’ll have a rigorous monitoring program for anyone who is exposed . . . or maybe a self-monitoring program for people who will isolate themselves . . . unless, of course, we tell them to go ahead and hop on a plane. Well, look, at least we can promise there won’t be a “serious” outbreak.”
And then . . . ? This summary did not include a number of other questionable White House decisions that defy common sense, e.g., the restrained military operations intended to “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS or the point of appointing another layer of bureaucracy to deal with Ebola with a political operative as an “experienced” Czar in the White House . . . Click here for Andy McCarthy’s in-depth elaboration of Ron Klain’s role as the administration’s point man on the Solyndra solar energy fraud that cost tax-payers a half-billion dollars—largess for administration cronies. And I could go on and on . . .
I can’t help noting another curiosity. Administration spokespersons and their acolytes argue against the common sense banning of air travel into the U.S. by citizens of West Africa and other nations experiencing the Ebola epidemic because, they say, it would then be more difficult to monitor the traffic through our porous borders. But the administration has refused to support closing these same borders to illegal traffic, no doubt because that would impede potential future voters who will live on U.S. government largess. Now there are rumors of efforts to provide amnesty to these illegals. Stay tuned on that.
So will we ever get answers to the growing list of questions of the government’s incompetence and/or mendacity (giving them the benefit of the doubt), especially since, as McCarthy wrote, their answers to date have been so purposely, patently, and pervasively false. It seems as if nothing and no one can be trusted—every time our perils intensify, our government erects another house in its Potemkin village.
This is not just a problem with the Obama administration, the Executive Branch under his leadership, or even just with the Democrat Party. Recent polls show the American people trust our congress even less that they trust the President. And for good reasons.
Just to take one example (of major concern to the High Frontier family) to illustrate this growing non-partisan problem, consider the repeated congressional failures to assure, through Congress’ Constitutionally mandated legislative powers, that the electric power grid can survive and continue operating after a manmade or natural electromagnetic pulse (EMP) event.
Of course, the Executive Branch could and should be doing this without congressional intervention. But Congress is supposed to oversee the Executive Branch and assure that it has sound programs to protect “We the People”—and is demonstrably failing at this Constitutional mandate.
After January, members of Congress will again be introducing bi-partisan legislation to this end—essentially the same that has been blocked for the past two congresses in the Republican-controlled House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
In my opinion, Congressman Fred Upton (R-Mich) was right in his penetrating questions for Dr. Thomas Frieden during his testimony on the Ebola crisis. Mr. Upton challenged the CDC Director for not taking common-sense actions to protect the American People from an Ebola epidemic—like blocking air traffic from nations experiencing the epidemic, just as over 20 other nations, including within Africa, are doing. (Click here for a pertinent YouTube exchange.)
But someone needs to hold Chairman Upton to the same standard, especially regarding his personal refusal for the past three years even to bring up common sense legislation, in the same Energy and Commerce Committee that he chairs, to require sound regulation of the electric power industry in their management of the electric grid.
Indications are that such legislation would pass with bipartisan support, not only in this committee which has jurisdiction over this subject, but in the entire House of Representatives. Hopefully the Senate would follow as well.
Must we wait until after a disaster for the Republican leadership to demand that Congress deal with this issue?
I have written before about the dysfunctional current regulatory arrangement created by the congress—the “toothless” Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and its alleged implementing arm, the North American Electric Reliability Cooperation (NERC).
NERC is little more than a “non-profit” lobbying group for the electric power industry—which is not, repeat not, responsibly assessing the vulnerability of the electric grid or taking measures to assure it can survive and operate after a major manmade or natural EMP event. And FERC, which is supposed to be the regulating authority, doesn’t have the authority to enforce sound regulations—even if they write them. And as discussed below, they are failing at that task as well—all under the purview of both the Executive and Legislative Branches.
Click here, for my June 24th discussion of the dysfunctional executive and congressional branches, as well as the NERC/FERC arrangement. As I noted there, Congress has given the public a situation analogous to having only medicine provided by the old West’s medicine man and we have only his claims of wonder drugs and our common sense to decide about usage.
In the case of the electric power grid, we don’t even have the possibility of applying our own common sense, which would not tolerate the current situation.
So, we are at the mercy of events entirely beyond our control—that need not be. But one day we will surely suffer the consequences for a natural EMP event that, unless we prepare for it, could lead to the death of up to 9-out-of-10 Americans.
Who you gonna believe? Let’s look a bit further into this dysfunctional creation of Congress.
The Latest FERC/NERC Charade.
A recent example of this failed regulatory arrangement could be paraphrased into yet another version paralleling McCarthy’s “Incompetence Meets Mendacity” article discussed above. This time this charge would be directed at FERC, a federal agency that alleges to be protecting the public interest by regulating the electric power companies, especially in dealing with a Natural EMP, also called a geomagnetic disturbance (GMD), caused by a major solar storm.
Last week, on October 16, 2014, the FERC issued its Order No. 797-A, denying rehearing of “Reliability Standard for Geomagnetic Disturbance Operations” in response to an appeal of the Foundation for Resilient Societies. (Full disclosure: I am a member of Foundation’s Board of Directors.) In this legal filing, Resilient Societies had urged the four FERC commissioners to reject a recently passed standard of NERC that would provide scant protection for the American public while providing a liability shield for electric utilities and delaying serious remediation of the existing and known vulnerabilities.
Bear in mind that the Oak Ridge National Laboratory concluded that a major solar storms could leave 130 million Americans without power for over a year. (Click here to read “Electromagnetic Pulse: Effects on the U.S. Power Grid; Executive Summary.”) Despite this unquestionably competent assessment that is well known to the FERC, the FERC commissioners issued a ruling that defies common sense. For example,
- No mandatory drills or practice of procedures are needed to cope with solar storms because “such requirements would be inconsistent with the Commission’s explanation in Order No. 779 stating that the First Stage GMD Reliability Standards should not contain specific, ‘one-size-fits-all’ operating procedures.” Translation: at FERC, we don’t like to put too many requirements on electric utilities, even when the lives of 130 million Americans are at stake.
- “Further, while Foundation suggests that the Commission meant for the First Stage GMD Reliability Standards to address a ‘severe solar storm,’ that was not the case.” Translation: any standard to address a severe solar storm will not take effect for another five years, if ever.
- “Regarding geomagnetic induced current monitoring specifically, in Order No. 797 the Commission determined that geomagnetic induced current monitoring requirements should be addressed in the Second Stage GMD Reliability Standards.” Translation: while solar storm monitors are commercially available for only $15,000 apiece and can be immediately installed, utilities can instead opt to “fly blind” through solar storms for the next five years because we say it’s OK.
In effect, The FERC commissioners take the position that utilities don’t need:
- Practice to cope with solar storms because…FERC says they don’t need to practice. No competent engineer in any field would accept this idea that you don’t need training and practice to assure confidence in operating any complicated system.
- To immediately plan for a severe solar storm because…FERC says this can wait until later. They must really have an in with the Creator of the Universe.
- Instrumentation to monitor solar storms because…FERC says this can wait until later. Any good engineer wants careful instrumentation to measure and cope with important effects, especially those that could be associated with catastrophic conditions.
In short, the FERC commissioners are engaged in delusional and/or arrogant thinking—that the utilities can execute complicated protection plans perfectly without practice, that a severe solar storm will wait for their bureaucratic schedule, and that willful blindness during storms is OK as long as FERC says it is OK.
Unfortunately, the Sun does not take orders from FERC. The next five years are the active backside of the Solar Cycle 24, when the Sun will send solar storms crashing into the earth’s magnetic field.
Note for emphasis: a major solar storm two years ago produced a “near miss” of Planet Earth that could have sent the U.S. “just-in-time” economy back into the 18th century without the life supporting benefits of an agrarian society. Click here for an important NASA press release, “Near Miss: The Solar Superstorm of July 2012.” NASA, a preeminent technical body, helpfully tells us the chance of a catastrophic storm is 12% each decade.
As we consider what would happen to our great country if a solar storm shuts off 130 million citizens from electric power for over a year, who are you going to believe, our best scientists and engineers or the FERC fiction machine?
Then There’s Manmade EMP, Especially Threats from the South.
Today is the 52nd anniversary of President Kennedy’s TV broadcast announcing to the American people that Soviet ships were placing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles in Cuba—and that these nuclear armed missiles could, if permitted to be fully developed, represented a mortal threat to America.
I remember it well. I watched it in New York University’s Student Union instead of attending classes important to my PhD aspirations—and hurried home in New Jersey to assure my wife and young daughters were safe.
These were the days in which the government was a bit more attuned to the public interest than it seems to be today. President Kennedy leveled with us—and we prepared to “duck and cover” as we had been taught in even earlier times. We were more self-reliant then.
We now know, the situation was worse that the President and advisors actually knew at the time. For example, after the end of the Cold War we learned that the nuclear weapons were already in Cuba and Fidel Castro wanted to keep them. Happily, Soviet General Secretary Nikita Khrushchev overruled Castro and they were removed as the Cuban Crisis wound down. In the exchange for ending the crisis at the time, we also now know we removed our nuclear-armed missiles from Turkey.
Many believe this crisis was the closest we came to nuclear war during the Cold War. Collectively, we dodged an existential bullet.
Today, we are now confronting another existential threat from the South as we have repeatedly discussed, most recently in our October 8th message (Click here.).
We remain vulnerable to nuclear armed missiles that could come from that direction, either from vessels in the Gulf of Mexico or southern sites—e.g., in Venezuela. And satellites coming over the South Polar region also could carry nuclear weapons from North Korea or Iran—or several other states.
Any could detonate a nuclear weapon above the atmosphere over the United States to produce an even more devastating EMP than that produced by solar storms discussed above. We continue to dawdle at our peril. Again, we need leaders with common sense to end this condition.
My October 8th message elaborated the fact that our missile defense programs remain focused on the North Korean and Iranian intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) threat that approaches the U.S. from over the North Pole, ignoring two other imminent threats—perhaps more imminent threats—from the South. We need initiatives to end these vulnerabilities by employing already developed systems—at minimal cost.
My October 8th message provided a graphic describing the needed initiatives to counter the satellite-delivered EMP threat—and I would note that North Korea is even now preparing to launch another satellite on that threatening trajectory over the South Polar region. As best I can tell, we are unprepared to counter it.
The figure below summarizes how we can counter the threat from vessels in the Gulf of Mexico and/or Latin America. In short, we could deploy Aegis Ashore sites like one that is nearing operational status in Romania and one in Poland planned to be operational in 2018.
No new development costs should be required—just buy what has already been developed to defend our Allies against ballistic missile attack and put it on several military bases around the Gulf.
The above figure illustrates the Aegis Ashore components and possible military bases on which they might be deployed (in a football field size area). I will include this chart in my briefing this morning to interested South Carolinians. I will be informing them about the threat and how they can help counter it.
Note that the 263rd Army Air and Missile Defense Command, located in Anderson, SC, is commanded by an National Guard Major General, who also reports to the 3-star commanders of AF North on Tyndall AFB in Panama City, FL and Army North on Ft. Sam Houston, TX—both of whom are direct reports to the Commander of Northern Command in Colorado Springs, the command responsible for homeland defense of our nation.
As you know, I am a strong proponent of engaging the National Guard and local authorities in countering this existential threat—because Washington is so badly broken. My briefing this morning is just one more step in engaging in that effort, especially among South Carolinians. I’ll follow up on my progress among other powers that be in my native state—and keep you informed of my progress.
So, as you view this evolving scene, “Are you gonna believe me, or your lying eyes?”
Near Term High Frontier Plans.
Given the lethargy in Washington, we will continue informing all who will listen, about the existential threat and expanding our work with the National Guard to help them gain knowledge and workable plans to help harden the electric power grid and counter the threat. This work will go hand in hand with efforts of State legislators who are seeking to expand on the excellent work of those in Maine and Virginia, who have passed legislation requiring serious studies of the threat and the needed countermeasures to protect the electric power grid.
The most recent bill passed in record time without a single negative vote in Virginia can be used as a ready pattern.
We are working with South Carolina National Guard to plan tabletop exercises to help them understand how best to engage constructively with private citizens and their local and state representatives and other authorities to understand and respond to this serious threat. We also are supporting related activities in neighboring and other states.
We are informing SC state legislators and senators about the threat and what can be done to deal with it—hopefully they will follow Maine and Virginia in seeking to harden the electric power grid. We also expect support from Cong. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) whose district includes my SC farm—and who is a member of the Congressional EMP Caucus seeking passage of the Shield Act and the Infrastructure Protection Act, as well as other SC representatives.
We will be working with members of the EMP Coalition and others who are seeking to take our message across the country—especially with Bob Newman, a former Adjutant General of Virginia, to help us link our SC plans more broadly and especially into Virginia and the National Capital region.
What can you do?
Join us in praying for our nation, and for a rebirth of the freedom sought, achieved and passed to us by those who came before us.
Help us to spread our message to the grass roots and to encourage all “powers that be” to provide for the common defense as they are sworn to do.
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