“Since the general civilization of mankind, I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpation” -James Madison

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Oh, yeah.....

Panic has started in Atlanta -- one station as high as $5.87 for the 87-proof variety. The moonbats are crowing about Global Warming and the BushCo/Halliburton conspiracies.

This, from a blip in supply from one area of production (approx 8-12 percent of US supply).

When are the enviromarxists going to see reason and allow us to build more refineries and drill? I agree with them in that we have got to learn as a society to conserve and be more efficient, but in the meantime, can they agree that we have to be as energy-independent as possible?

Those moldy old hippy-music CDs about saving the earth and equality with her creatures won't work very well when the electricity doesn't flow, and you can't afford gas for your generator. And you damn sure won't be getting any new Birkenstocks when the trucks can't roll.

Societal Breakdown

Katrina and the resulting fallouts have provided evidence to something I have been thinking about since shortly after 9/11.

It occurred to me that if the bad guys really knew America, they would not waste time trying to kill lots of people at once in a huge explosion at a major event during, say, the Super Bowl or Macy's parade. Nor would they consider a retread of 9/11 using planes or trains.

No, if you want to beat America, this is how: true terror, not the flash-in-a-pan Big Boom That Kills A Lot Of People At Once. The scary thing is how absolutely simple it would be.

Disclaimer: I do not *want* this to happen; the following is merely a presentation of what I *would* do if I were the bad guys. Fortunately I seem to be the only one reading my blog, so I feel safe that they're not going to stumble upon this and the ol' light bulb will flicker to life.

Small teams, spread throughout the various states (mostly in the "flyover" and red states), hitting vulnerable and unguarded (or lightly so) targets that don't kill anyone or cause any major damage on their own. These targets would be railroad bridges, highway overpasses (especially those that intersect, like Spaghetti Junction in Atlanta, or the Mousetrap in Denver), communication towers, water towers, local airstrips, etc. These "ideal" targets would be out of the major cities mostly, where there is a distinct lack of manpower to guard as well as rebuild, and the costs of bringing in personnel and equipment would be magnified as well as problematic. The idea behind the principal targets is to shut down the transportation and infrastructure systems. If enough roads are made impassable for up to weeks at a time, then our consumer-based economy trips. It is currently running at a sprint, and as anyone knows, it's easier to trip someone running than walking. Local economies will crash, and the macro economy will fracture.

Secondary targets would be grain elevators, stockyards, burning of fields, poisoning of water supplies and livestock, and any attack on agricultural resources.

Tertiary target would include direct assassinations, such as local police chiefs, mayors, city managers, and any other persons of influence in small communities. When the Big Man in a small town is vulnerable, everyone else feels even more so.

Multiple attacks in multiple states, whether coordinated, staggered, or ongoing, would severly undermine the foundations of our economy and infrastructure. The riots we see on the evening news in other places would be in Everytown, USA. There would not be enough help for everyone, and Americans have gotten used to getting help when they're down.

What has any of this to do with Katrina? Look at New Orleans and Gulfport -- a completely helpless government, chaos among the remaining denizens, a breakdown of societal norms, and absolutely no immediate remedies available due to intersecting logistical problems. Here in Atlanta we are facing a fuel crisis due to the severing of our pipelines from Louisiana. Across America we are all facing higher prices and limited supply, for the long term as well as in the short term. It will take months to get oil production back to what is was, which already wasn't enough. Delta Airlines was already facing bankruptcy, in part due to already-high jet fuel prices. Now they've just had many of their flights to the affected area cancelled and the fuel prices are about to skyrocket. Our local economy is about to be hit very hard from multiple whammies -- many newly-laid-off people, loss of a major player in the tax base, high fuel and resupply prices, and a guaranteed taxpayer-funded rescue to reorganize Delta.

New Orleans has always been a small blip, a minor major city with a perenially bad football team but a great party zone. No one has thought about the importance of the city's docks, drills, refineries, and seafood UNTIL WE LOST THEM.

Now this situation is all anyone can talk about. The human tragedy is something I have deliberately not touched on here, as others have said it all and so much better. The point I am making is that this is a one-time natural disaster that has us all reeling a bit, even if we didn't get so much as a drop of rain from that storm. We are an interconnected society.

Can you imagine what would happen if we got up in the morning to reports from around the country of crossroads being destroyed, of water tables poisoned, of entire sections of the country suddenly unable to conduct commerce? The national media would be schizophrenic trying to get the latest reports from various "backwater" affiliates, none of which is a huge story, but which all are big locally. Panic would be everywhere, and there would be no way to fix it all or catch all the bad guys, and they could easily keep doing it.

Take away the electricity, make gasoline and fresh water scarce, make it hard to get food, water, and other supplies into cities, and make the toilets stop working. See New Orleans and Gulf Coast for examples. Multiply this across every major city.

That would bring us down, and it's a good thing the bad guys haven't figured that out yet.

Friday, August 26, 2005


I know of 3 reasons the enviromarxists are directly responsible for current gas/oil issues (it's not a "crisis" Not yet.). In order of importance:

1. Refining. We have not built a new refinery in this country since 1976. If we found oil bubbling up out of convenient natural springs in every backyard, it would do us no good. The U.S. refineries are maxed out, so any new crude would get put on a waiting list. Besides capacity, these things are 30+ years old! Do you have any machines around your house (car, computer, refrigerator, water heater, etc.) that are that old and still work well, if at all? These older refineries are terribly inefficient compared to what we could build today, and require much more intensive and expensive maintenance than a more modern facility would. The enviromarxists, through lawsuits and sympathetic lawmakers at all levels, have successfully prevented all attempts to build more refineries or to even upgrade existing refineries (costs to meet environmental regulations are prohibitively expensive). President Bush has suggested converting abandoned military bases to refineries to no avail. Land that is already secured and set up for large-scale industrialization must sit vacant because the vocal leftists will not allow practical solutions to prevail if they would be performed under a Republican administration. A final complication with refining is the variety of blends that must accomodate the various regulations by state: Gas that could be sold in Kansas can't be sold in California. Gas that would be just fine in Rhode Island isn't allowed in Illinois. And on and on. All the different blends mean market pressure and the dilution of available gasoline for consumers.

2. Drilling. Most would think this is the biggie, but I see Refining Capacity as the major contributor to current and future woes. Drilling is second -- we're all familiar with the enviromarxists' opposition to drilling anywhere, whether it's ANWR or the multiple offshore fields. At some point the external supply will be unavailable and/or unaffordable. Considering that it takes years to find, drill, and develop a workable site, later rather than sooner means more painful for all when the hit comes. America is a land of vast natural resources (or so all the textbooks say). These resources have to be used in order to be resources; otherwise they're just dirt, rocks, etc. I'm as much for clean air and water as anyone, and I don't want unnecessary damage done to beautiful lands and environments. I also know that SOME damage is necessary (how many trees did the developer have to clear for the land on which your house sits? How many trees did it take to build? How about the tar for the roof, or the insulation?), and it can be controlled. Modern techniques allow for more efficiency and less damage. Face it. We have to start drilling NOW.

3. Taxes. The Statist/Leftists' best friend. The surcharges and taxes levied on gasoline continue to rise, and they make up a significant portion of the per-gallon charge we pay at the pump. This is actually part of a larger problem for another essay, but BIG GOVERNMENT MEANS BIG TAXES EVERYWHERE IN LIFE. At some point we have got to get a grip as The People and demand less, not more, from our government, and in so doing, PAY less, not more.

It's simple more refineries, drill for more oil, repeal the taxes. The first two are most important, since failure to do either or both eventually leaves the third irrelevant. Yes, we need to develop alternative sources like nuclear, fusion, etc. In the meantime, however, everyone has to get to work on time. The trucks that bring the latest Birkenstocks and Coldplay CDs and DirectTV systems to the mall have to have affordable and available fuel. The airlines are getting strangled by cost/pricing pressure. Meals-on-Wheels won't go to the po' folks without something in the tank.

This is serious -- it's not just Joe Dude whining about $3 or $4 gallons of gas....once the real crisis hits, we're going to see companies closing or not delivering as much. Transportation will become prohibitively expensive. Tourism goes away. Unrest within our civilization leads to rationing and riots. Dominoes fall, and Atlas Shrugs.

Read Atlas Shrugs, or Dune (melange = oil). I'm sure there are more, but those are the biggies off the top of my head.

More importantly, elect true representatives. Make the calls. Stand up to the enviromarxists. We have to build refineries and drill. Guess what? Then we can leave the Middle East like the Lefties want.....

Michael Yon

Michael Yon is a freelance observer attached to Deuce Four in Mosul. As former Special Forces, he is much more suited to war reporting than Blondie McWarsucks in the hotel in Baghdad.

Go to his site.

READ IT ALL. You're not gonna get anything like this anywhere else, and IMHO that's a damned shame. Whether you're pro- or anti-action in Iraq and elsewhere, you will be treated to straight-ahead accounts of a unit in action, mistakes and all, heroism and all.

he's self-financed, too. Throw him a couple of bucks; consider it a subscription if you must.


Yeah, gas prices.....

Forget the fact that when adjusted for inflation, we're nowhere near a "record" (see policies, Carter, Jimmah; 1979 and 1980; ~$3.00/gallon).

Forget the fact that everywhere are monster vehicles running huge V-8's at 80+ mph with AC blasting full, tailgating anyone with the Nerve to drive at anything under c.

Forget the fact that, like air accidents, the majority of auto accidents can be prevented with breaking 1 link of a chain of consequences.

I grew up in rural Kansas. I know there are people who NEED trucks and SUVs. I now live in Atlanta, and I know that if you have more than 2 kids then governmental interference has created a false need for the SUV. Some businesses require vans, pickups, SUVs. The average family driver does not, and the behemoth-mobile is vanity.

One claim is the alleged safety of the SUV. This is a silly argument -- if one avoids having the accident in the first place, then it doesn't matter whether your Explorer has a higher crash rating than my Civic. To PLAN on an accident (i.e., buying the insurance policy in the form of a bigger, heavier vehicle) is illogical, and gives one a false sense of security. Having a behemoth doesn't free one from the laws of physics, a fact that seems to escape many drivers of these things.

I have yet to encounter a need for a Hummer in Atlanta (or any other city), unless you count the ice storm of 2000, which is irrelevant because everything was shut down anyway and roads were choked with crashed cars. Yeah, your Hummer could go around 'em in the ditch, BUT TO WHERE?????

Anyway, this little diatribe is brought to you as an appeal. An appeal to common sense. An appeal to manners. An appeal to community safety.

What exactly is wrong with driving the speed limit, especially in the slower lanes? What exactly is wrong with slowing down to 25 in the school zone when the lights are on?

I drive a 2001 Honda Civic -- 4 cylinder gas (not hybrid), manual transmission, cruise control. Not huge, not powerful, not fast (although quite zippy eventually if one is so inclined). As the result of gas prices starting to rise a couple of years ago, and a couple of excessive-speed and tailgating scares on my part, plus previous tickets for speeding, I decided to try a bold and daring experiment in summer 2003:

I decided to try driving defensively and within the speed limit.

My results have been quite successful: Efficiency of mileage has gone up (38 MPG city, 43 external highway), stress has gone down (no longer "jockeying for position"), and shock of shocks: it doesn't take me any longer to get anywhere than it used to. I used to HATE driving, and I'm still not a huge fan of it, but the daily commute is no longer the chore it used to be for me, and my overall stress in life has gone significantly down, and it is attributable to this change in behavior. The recent spike in gas prices is but a small annoyance to me, as it costs me approximately $10 more per month than it did 2 years ago. Big deal.

Please don't misunderstand my stance -- I'm not anti-SUV, and I'm not an enviro-weenie (quite the opposite; I wish I had some oil under my yard so I could drill for it), and I'm not out to be a renegade driver.

Just try it for a week or two, perhaps start at your next fillup and keep the behavior till the following one. Drive the speed limit and no faster (maybe +5 if you must). Stop tailgating -- everyone will be happier and safer. Cool it with the NASCAR driving; take your time, and let someone merge in front of you. It's not going to take you any longer, and if the guy in front really is too slow, THERE WILL BE A GAP that you can pass in. Forcing it is dangerous and moronic.

I actually am for local and state crackdowns on speeding and dangerous driving. Once the tickets start, the behavior changes. Works every time it's tried. I'm not a fan of Big Brother, but roadways are public places and if the people can't govern their own behavior then it is a matter for The People to do so.

Hippie? Nope.
Nerd? Probably.
Nice guy? For the most part.
Conservative? You bet.
Libertarian? As much as I realistically can be.

No tickets, no accidents, no real scares (other than those caused by other drivers) since my self-governing behavior has started, and my insurance rates have lowered while the fuel efficiency has risen.

What do you have to lose? You're gonna be stuck in traffic anyway; may as well relax a little and not be a headache or danger to yourself or others.