How many times has your computer “froze up” on you? No matter the brand or type sometimes these little electronic wizards just have a mind of their own and won’t comply with the commands you give them or if they do it takes much, much longer than you wanted or expected. Those tiny computers that are now becoming an integral part of all auto parts is concerning. Toyota is at the top of the list now with worries about acceleration and braking but that is only the tip of a coming avalanche. I really don’t want to be barreling down the road at 60 miles an hour and hit the brakes to discover they don’t work or else that there is a two second time delay. Two seconds may seem like a really short time but at that speed you are covering couple hundred feet. In an emergency you take less than a second to hit the brake. It is a matter of life and death. I think it is much safer to have well calibrated mechanical devices that respond directly to your body actions. I am sure the chances of electronic failure or quite low but the brakes getting the wrong signal at the wrong time is a horrifying thought. They now also have those keyless electronic starter systems. First that will inconvenient as the devil when you can’t start your car and it has to be towed in just to replace a chip or reboot a system and worse what happens when you can’t get the car to turn off? Newer is not always better.
If any form of the health care bill currently proposed by the White House passes it will lead to some truly epic Supreme Court cases down the road. It will dramatically call into question anew the meaning of Article One, Section Eight and the interstate commerce clause. How does my health impact interstate commerce? Does my health status affect interstate commerce any more than my daily use of water? Whether I use 10 gallons a day or 100 gallons does that affect interstate commerce? If you think it does then the EPA or some other Federal agency could have the authority to specify exactly how much I can use and ration our water use. Health and water are important matters and can have certain regulations and laws concerning their use or abuse. But, but, but, it has been the States that have historically been granted the right to control such matters. This is because of the limitations of the powers of Congress in Article One and the corresponding retention of powers of the States under the Tenth Amendment. We have no national law regarding the ownership and transfer of ownership of real property in the US. That is a matter of State law and each State has its own laws regarding real estate. It takes no imagination to realize how important a topic property rights are. Does my ownership of my home affect interstate commerce? Some would probably say it does regardless of how nebulous it may be. If anything and everything affects interstate commerce then we no longer have a Federal system of government but a centrally controlled government and the States become mere provinces of the central government, mere administrative tools for national policy to be implemented. That was not the intent of our Founders and I don’t believe most of us would prefer that system of government. There is also the little problem again of the Constitution. Article Four, Section Four requires that the US shall guarantee to every State a Republican form of government. Total control of our economy from Washington would destroy that provision’s meaning.
The Pentagon is going through another of its internal reviews about the nature and formation of our armed forces. The general idea is that the traditional forces are not nimble enough to meet the demands of the 21st century. The concept is to make the forces smaller in unit size and more specialized in their method of operations. To review the military is always a good idea. That old saw about the military always fighting the last war is a good one with lots of truth to it. We all tend to go with what we know and the generals and admirals know what they did when the were younger officers and will naturally bend in that methodology when faced with a new challenge. Often the old method doesn’t comport with the new facts on the battlefield and bad results can occur. However it is best not to throw out the baby with the bath water. Regardless of technical and tactical changes in battlefields there will always be the danger of the large scale clash with an enemy. I do hope the military won’t abandon completely the formation and training of the traditional forces for large land and sea battles. We will have the need for divisions, not only brigades and we will have the need for more ships in the Navy than just aircraft carriers and their escorts. The Chinese are rapidly building their military power on both land and sea. Who knows where their Communist leaders will want to expand their hegemony? Especially in a few years when the demographers predict a serious decline in their population and an aging population that will be even more demanding on their economy than ours. Battleships for example are considered very old school. However as recently as the Iraq War of ’92 we used the old Missouri to good effect. Both offensively and defensively there is something very intimidating and encouraging (depending on whether you are on the receiving end or benefitting from the salvos) about those huge 16 inch guns pounding away. We don’t have even one of those today. Cruise missiles are great but sometimes volume is more important than pin point accuracy. Don’t believe for one minute we have “evolved” beyond the era when an all out bare knuckle conflict is possible. Sadly, we aren’t there yet and for the moment the US is still the best hope for a better world regardless of our shortcomings.
Of course health care premiums are going up again. They will continue to do so until the States reform the process so that all of us become “shoppers” rather than merely users of health care. Empowering the people to bargain for the best prices just as we do for cars or cereal will reduce prices quicker than anything. http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com
In the military there is the old principle about assuming for planning purposes that if there is something your enemy can do you best plan on them doing it. If you rummaged around the bowels of the Pentagon you would find someplace where there were dozens are probably hundreds of books that were the War Plans worked up by Operations officers on staff there. For years the military has always tried to anticipate where the next conflict might be and with whom. They draw up detailed plans about how to respond to lots of different scenarios. You assume that country X attacks country Y and that we have to defend Y. They draw up the plans about which units will be deployed to the battle, how they will get there, what the logistical needs will be, the type of gear and equipment that will be required by the troops, which weapons will be the most useful and lots and lots of other details. Often they test drive these plans with war games where different sides take to the “field” on the game board and the referree decides who handled the battle best. When going through this exercise the planners do use the assumption that if the enemy can do something then you better plan for them doing it. If there is a bridge that they can take because they have more troops in the area, you better assume when your forces arrive later they will have to fight for the bridge and that it will be destroyed if you defeat them on your side of the river. So you will need an engineer battlion near by for a Baily Bridge or pontoon bridge to replace it.
That same principle and planning should apply today with regard to our dealings with Iran and N. Korea. They clearly have nuclear capability and they have made direct threats to use them. The really dangerous part is that they have missiles for the delivery system. If they attack, either one, we had best plan on losses to the Navy. The gatling gun defenses on those ships have never been tried in true combat situations and Murphey’s Law will come into play sure as the world. You are reminded of the effectiveness of those Exocet missiles against the British Navy during the Falkland’s war. If our political leaders will stay out of the way I trust the military to devise the best defense and response to any attack by these two. The smart thing is to take out those weapons systems before they are operational. Then they will not do what they cannot do.
The same principle applies to the cyber attacks that have been launched against us. So far those incursions into our systems have been weak and not concentrated or very sophisticated. But you know darn well that somewhere there are hackers who are very sophisticated and and have access to the latest equipment and software and for money would be only to glad to destroy our economic infrastructure. Our power grids and water supplies could be subject to very severe harm that would cost us untold billions to repair not to mention the harm it would have on the population doing without power or water for a few weeks. An attack on the Stock Exchange or the New York Federal Reserve is also a very scary thought. What if for a period of several weeks no one could prove they owned stocks or the assets in their IRA’s or 401K’s? If you couldn’t access your money then our economy would be ground to a halt. If such an attack is made you better assume that you will not be able to use your credit card. None of them will work or those that do will not be trusted by the merchants because the upstream system is so clogged. Also imagine a world without PC’s or cell phones or Iphones for a couple of weeks. I don’t know what preparations we are making to defend against these attacks but I sure hope someone much smarter than me is working on it very hard. Whether I like it or not our world is dependent on the use of those computers for all our vital economic activities and indeed for the basics of life like water and power. Those Islamist terrorists would love nothing better than to bring the West to its knees with such an attack. Osama would do it in a heart beat. Plan for it.
If Russia can cause us trouble with oil prices they will. I don’t think they will militarily attack in the foreseeable future but they sure aren’t our pals. I heard yesterday that the Russian were all on board with the reduction of carbon emissions and climate control efforts. I literally almost fell out of my car when I heard that one. The Russians don’t have an alturistic bone in their body. The only difference between them and the French is that they don’t speak French. They look out for themselves and no one else. That has been their history for centuries now. Do you believe the Russians give a tinker’s toot about the envoirnment? Have you seen what they have done to the Aral Sea, the Caspian, and their other major waterways. Oil is their best money source at the present time. They want the world to need lots of oil and they want to sell it at the highest price they can get. I don’t care what annoucement they make they will in fact not lift a finger to reduce the consumption of oil. It is not in their best interests and only the insanely naive would believe they would sacrifice anything for polar bears or the poor Bangledeshis from rising sea waters. I think some of that attitude goes back to their Communist heritage. That ideology doesn’t acknowledge any Higher Power or higher purpose for man other than what it before them right now. Food on the table and a roof over their heads and they are good to go. What do I know. But I will bet anyone that even though they might sign this or that envoirnmental accord that in fact they will not do anything to reduce emissions. They love that money pouring in. They will likewise do nothing to keep the price of oil low. Higher prices equals higher profits for them. They don’t want to kill the golden goose but they sure will push it to its limits.
We are the Can Do people and we need to apply that gumption to the several tasks at hand we face these days. We face some hard choices but so did our ancestors. Nice words don’t make enemies into friends; nor rivals into partners in an particular enterprise. www.olcranky.wordpress.com