I Can’t Drive…55

When I was stationed in Maryland in the early 1980s, an elderly man made it his mission to make sure that people obeyed the speed limit on the Beltway. He would set his cruise control for 55 mph and drive in the left lane.

The Maryland State Police got notice of this and instead of ticketing the guy for impeding traffic, they adopted his method.

A line of Maryland State Police cars would drive the Beltway, three or four abreast, blocking all the lanes, at 55 mph. This is the normal reaction of bureaucracy. Rules must be enforced. Whether or not they make sense and whether or not they achieve their goal is immaterial. In this case, while it did slow people down, it most likely caused other problems with people trying to avoid it. It was finally quietly dropped.

Neal Boortz has a link to a video made by some Georgia State University students that did the same thing in Atlanta. The results were much the same.

Watch the video.

“Rolling Roadblocks” seem to be a popular method with local governments to slow traffic down and creating congestion. Then the politicians can spend millions on “studies” and commissions to figure out what to do about it.

How about just letting the traffic flow?

A Missile Defense System Just Got A Lot More Attractive

TCS Daily – Russia’s Global Roulette

Today, Russia is the lead supplier for Iran’s civilian nuclear efforts, while ignoring that country’s military nuclear program. In December 2005 Russia announced that it would sell Iran $700 million worth of TOR-M1 (SA-15) short-range surface to air missiles, and is now reportedly negotiating a sale of long range anti-aircraft SA-10s (known by their Russian designation S-300). Buttressed by radars and computers, these missile systems could be arrayed in a nation-wide air defense system, which would render any future disarming air strikes all but impossible.

Before 9/11 we were told that a system to prevent against missile attack was a waste of money. The Soviet Union was dead and no one could possibly threaten us with missiles. But Iran’s current obsession with obtaining nuclear weapons and the Russians willingness to sell them delivery systems makes it look a lot more appealing.

Iran is not yet at a point where they are capable of launching missiles on the continental United States, but North Korea either has or is close to having missiles capable of reaching us. I guess under the arguments made before the Iraq War, we should wait until they not only have the capability but are about to use it, before we start thinking about doing anything about it.

But U.S. antimissiles systems in Afghanistan, Iraq and Israel would go a long way to neutralizing Iranian mischief

“Progressive” Jackboots

Midwest Heroes, Media Backlash

There’s a battle going on in the Upper Midwest. The press and the Democratic Party in those parts are pretty well committed to our defeat in Iraq.

But recently a group called “Midwest Heroes” have been running commercials in support of our efforts. The ads feature veterans of OIF as well as “Gold Star” families. For those of you who do not know, “Gold Star” families are families that have lost a loved one in the war. If you read the papers you will know that Cindy Sheenan has been termed to have “absolute moral authority” because of the loss of her son in Iraq. But unlike Cindy, these families support the war, which, unaccountably, lessens their moral authority in the eyes of the war opponents.

This has predictably infuriated the Democrats and the press who have reacted even more predictably. Instead of engaging in a dialogue, they have marshaled their supporters to write TV stations to have the ads pulled from the airways.

That’s right. When faced by dissent, the “progressives” first reaction is to crush it.

They even manage to get huffy about it. One paper, the Minnesota Daily, a college paper saying;

This manufactured propaganda once again showcases the Bush administration’s utter contempt for real democracy and the level it will sink to to sell their failing policies. It is interesting to note that according to a congressional analysis, the Bush administration has spent more than $250 million from taxpayers on “public relations” contracts during its first term, compared to the Clinton administration spent, which spent $128 million over the span of two terms.

The ads are funded by Progress for America, a 527, not the government and Clinton was neither fighting a war, nor was he facing a hostile press.

What they do is conflate the Bush administration and “Midwest Heroes” because they support the same thing, Victory in Iraq. If we accept that as valid then we also have to conflate the Democrats and the MSM with al Qaeda since they also support the same goals, our defeat.

Wishful Thinking

Barry Posen is a professor of Political Science at MIT. In this op-ed in the NYT today he explains why a nuclear Iran will not really be a threat. Obviously his years in the ivory tower of academia has softened his brain.

We Can Live With a Nuclear Iran – New York Times

Iranian nuclear weapons could be put to three dangerous purposes: Iran could give them to terrorists; it could use them to blackmail other states; or it could engage in other kinds of aggressive behavior on the assumption that no one, not even the United States, would accept the risk of trying to invade a nuclear state or to destroy it from the air. The first two threats are improbable and the third is manageable.

He goes on to explain why he comes to that conclusion. But I don’t find it very convincing.

Underlying all his assumptions is the belief, an article of faith in liberal circles, that the Iranian government wants the same things that we do. That the foremost concern of Iranian leaders is the peaceful, prosperous life for all their people. He seems to forget that Iran is ruled by a group of religious fanatics who allow the pretense of a civil government but who actually hold all the power. The Iranian President is a radical that was selected by the Mullahs and elected fairly after the mullahs disallowed any real opposition. That may be representative government in Jimmy Carterland but not to me.

They want the same things as we do, if what we want is to destroy the “Infidel” and if we were willing to strap bomb belts on our children to accomplish this.

The 9/11 Commission Report left a lot to be desired. But one finding was squarely on target. They found that much of the failure to prevent 9/11 could be traced back to “a failure of imagination“. To Mr. Posen the thought of a nuclear armed Iran presenting a threat to us is unimaginable. So he doesn’t.

Unused Intelligence

Good intelligence can be the deciding factor in any conflict. The more you know about your enemy the better. Studying how he thinks, plans and reacts gives you priceless insight into dealing with him.

Unfortunately, gathering, evaluating and analyzing intelligence is not one of our strong suits. We have a kind of distaste for “reading other people’s mail” unless, of course, they are Hollywood celebrities.

Since the 1970s and the hysterical reaction to government abuses that would be considered business as usual in any other society, we have tried to make intelligence gathering a sterile, bloodless practice depending on technology to gather intelligence rather than humans.

If you read things like The Mitrokhin Archive or the Venona papers you will be aware that most of our spying post WWII was a miserable failure. While Stalin was able to place “agents of influence” and fellow travelers in positions throughout our government, our operations were rolled up almost as soon as they were started.

Americans are just to straightforward to be skillful at espionage. Our kids play football and basketball, not chess.

Between WWI and WWII the American cryptographic counterintelligence programs were abolished, an official explaining “Gentlemen don’t read other people’s mail”. It looks to me like we are showing our lack of seriousness in this area yet again.

We have captured thousands of documents in Afghanistan and Iraq. Documents that could show us the inner thoughts, plans and workings of both Al Qaeda and the pre-war Iraqi government. But we don’t seem to be taking advantage of this treasure trove. It continues to be locked away, some in the Middle East and some in the U.S., where it is being translated slowly, if at all.

The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point has a translation and analysis of just a few of the documents captured in Afghanistan. They have recently released it to the public. But don’t look for it on the front page of any of the MSM newspapers, it might contain things that do not fit with the established format.

Austin Bay has some analysis of his own. Be sure to follow the links to the rest of his posts on this subject.

Another overlooked intelligence source is the “Saddam Tapes“. Tapes of the Iraqi dictator in his office discussing things like removing WMD from the country before the invasion. But everyone knows that he didn’t have any of those. So what was he talking about?

All in all, I think we are doing our usual lousy job on Intelligence. Before 9/11 several “progressive” Democrat regularly introduced legislation to reduce or eliminate funding for Intelligence. Their theory was similar to a child hiding under the covers so the monster won’t get him. If you can’t see them, they can’t see you.

Maybe the “progressives ” are onto something There. Why spending huge amounts of money if we’re not getting any product? That would mean that we would be blindsided by terrorists and foreign governments, but that seems to happen with regularity anyhow.

But why are we turning our backs on the mounds of raw intelligence already in our possession?

New Age Survivalists

Every time has had it “doomsdayers”, those who predict that the end of life as we know it is just around the corner. In the 60’s we built bomb shelters, in the 70’s it was the coming Ice Age, in the 80’s it was the coming economic collapse, in the 90’s it was Y2K and now that we are in the new century it is “Global Warming” and “Peak Oil”.

“My Name Is Randy, And I’m Addicted To Oil.” (2/22/2006)

The way Darwin believed we descended from monkeys and Joan of Arc that she was on a mission from God, White and his buddies think the age of affordable energy is rapidly nearing its end. Even voices from the other side of the petroleum divide are starting to back them up: Last year, Chevron CEO David O’Reilly announced, “The era of easy oil is over.”

So what is White doing about it? He’s transformed his own life while carrying the Peak Oil message to the masses. Along the way, his obsession has drawn skepticism from friends and loving tolerance from his conservative family. In fact, depending on how cynical you are, he’s either a walking example of the futility of individual action or a model of the kind of behavior that should make the rest of us a wee bit ashamed.

Ashamed? Me? Not a bit. You’ll pardon me if I fail to get excited. Tin foil hat wearers may run in my family, but I’m not there yet. This appears to me to be just the latest in doomsday prophecies.

The End of Suburbia is a documentary that wows not with production values but with serious (and seriously researched) interviews with some of the biggest names currently sounding the Peak Oil alarm: James Howard Kunstler, Michael Klare, Richard Heinberg, Matthew Simmons and Michael C. Ruppert.

Together they trace America’s increasing dependence on oil and present the case that the peak is real and will dramatically reshape America as we know it. Kunstler goes so far as to suggest the suburbs will become the new slums when most people will no longer be able to afford to live 50 miles from where they work.

Uh-Huh. Then why do so many of the true believers seem to live on spacious country estates far from the high density urban areas that they are sure will be the only places that will be inhabitable? If everyone is going to have to live close to their workplaces, and the workplaces are going to be in urban areas, you would think they would be busily buying up the real estate, wouldn’t you? I don’t see that happening.

As the price of oil increased more sources of oil that were previously uneconomical to use will become profitable and will come on line. As methods of using this oil improve, the price will come down. Other energy sources will be developed because it will be profitable to do so.

I am reminded of a problem we had in the 1960’s with electrical equipment. I think someone wrote a a story of computer that was so complex that even operating at the speed of light it would take thousands of years to answer a question. That’s kind of what we were facing. Increasingly complex electronic equipment was requiring more and more power to operate and as it did, it generated more and more heat.

I used to be Maintenance Chief at an AUTOVON switch.. This was one of the first electronic switches. It was developed in the 1960s because Lyndon Johnson couldn’t pick up the phone and talk to his Generals in Vietnam. He wanted to be able to do that, so a special telephone system was developed. The switch I was at was in Okinawa. It was a 500 line switch that was contained in its own large building with AC for heat dissipation, drew huge amounts of power and required on-site maintenance 24/7. It was expensive to operate, cumbersome and unreliable. It operated in micro seconds, which sounds fast but is actually very, very slow.

Now we throw switches with that many lines into closets and forget about them. Why? Because someone invented the microchip. It solved the problems with power and heat and size and speed, and they have been getting cheaper, smaller and more reliable ever since.

We’ll do the same thing with energy. Not because we all got together and started organic gardens or started riding bicycles in the rain. It will happen because it will be profitable.

Or at least it will unless some fool manages to take the profit out of it. If that happens we probably will be living in caves cursing the darkness.

One Study Negates Years Of Research? Why?

Research rattles forestry school

But the single page in a top science journal Jan. 20 proved as hot as the fire that scorched 500,000 acres of Southwest Oregon. It rattled one of the state’s most prestigious colleges and threatened momentum behind a congressional bill to speed action — including logging — after fires.

So, one page in one study by one graduate student (not even a credentialed scientist) is enough to discard years of prior research? Why is that?

Because it is the environmentalist equivalent of the Resurrection. It fulfills their quasi-religious prophecies and is therefore accepted without contention.

I guess this means that the Forestry scientists that thought their studies showed otherwise are idiots and should be terminated from whatever positions they hold. After all, we’ve been told to trust the science and according to the faithful, this study has shown the science to be all wrong.

But what will happen if someone does another study showing that this one is wrong?

Nothing at all. This is now the Gospel and anyone questioning it will be damned as a heritic.