Not a day goes by wherein someone is not trying to influence your thoughts, attitudes and behaviors. It can be a company using an advertisement on the internet, television, billboard or magazine. It can be a political figure or activist in a news story, an op-ed or a Tweet. It can even be that annoying jingle you remember from watching Saturday morning cartoons as a kid that still makes you buy a certain brand of chewing gum. More dangerously, it could be propaganda or mis/dis-information intended to deceive, mislead and divide.
The Industrial Revolutions improved living standards for people in most nations where technology proliferated. Populations in modern societies are not overly concerned with accessing food or water on a daily basis. In particular, the availability of clean, fresh water is a reasonable expectation throughout the modern world. However, a growing lack of water (“water scarcity”), propelled by continued technological advancement and high demand, is creating a global crisis. This resource scarcity will change long-held expectations and demonstrate the capacity to disrupt the security and stability of entire regions.
With the foundations of global stability being challenged by disruptive powers such as Russia and China, and rogues like North Korea and Iran, there’s scarcely been a more dangerous time to loose faith in each other and our government system. Yet, from social issues to economy and politics to defense, the U.S. struggles to deflect deliberate efforts to speed the loss of our national identity and unity. Make no mistake, “we the people” are the target in this diabolical campaign.
The devastation in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico has been terrifying, engaging multiple FEMA regions and significant military support to rescue, recover and rebuild. While Puerto Rico has only limited electric power, mainly due to decades old negligence of their electric grid utilities to ensure resiliency to hurricanes, we know that it will happen again if allowed to retain their aged and fragile power generation, above ground transmission and distribution lines (wooden poles).
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the failure of the Federal Aviation Administration in the lead up to 9/11 and the failure of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to properly regulate the nuclear power industry. Now we’ve gone from the ridiculous to the sublime. Kim Jong Un has threatened to conduct a nuclear electromagnetic pulse missile test over the Pacific. Hawaii and Guam have issued warnings and distributed guidance to their citizens regarding precautions to take in the event of such an attack. The situation is dire because our government has failed to heed a decade of warnings from the Congressional Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse Attack. A nuclear EMP attack would destroy electronics everywhere and black out our electric grid for an extended period. It would cripple the critical infrastructure necessary to maintain modern civilization. Our nuclear power plants would lose the electricity required to cool reactor cores and spent fuel pools. They would overheat and begin to spread toxins in about three weeks. The EMP Commission has said that millions of Americans would die from starvation, disease and the resulting societal collapse.
As George Washington became our first president in 1789, he turned to solid political leadership for this brand new adventure of the American republic. To help with the administration of the newly formed government, Washington collected a modestly sized group of department heads, the cabinet, to help him conduct the daily business of governing. The group consisted of Thomas Jefferson as his Secretary of State, Henry Knox, Secretary of War, and Edmund Jennings Randolph, the Attorney General (although not an official cabinet position until 1870). To round out the cabinet of four, Alexander Hamilton became the first Secretary of Treasury, and proved to be one of the most influential department secretaries of all time. Determined, organized, and visionary all describe Hamilton very well.
Last month, news broke that the congressional committee studying the threat of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack on the United States was being forced to disband–at the same time North Korea specifically threatened an EMP attack as part of it’s alarming increase in nuclear tests. This is widely considered to be the complete opposite approach to protecting our nation’s national security in a mostly anarchic international environment. In fact, just six months ago, most experts thought North Korea’s nuclear arsenal was primitive, some academics claiming it had as few as 6 A-Bombs.
Over the weekend, in a dim corner of Washington D.C. and in a quiet recess of the Pentagon, a national security tragedy occurred with little notice or fanfare. On Sept. 30, the Congressional Commission to Assess the Threat of Electromagnetic Pulse to the United States of America (or EMP Commission) was shut down indefinitely. Since 2000, the EMP Commission, an unpaid team of leading scientists, engineers, and security experts has worked tirelessly to test, understand, and uncover risks posed to our nation’s civil and military infrastructure by Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP). EMP is a well known physical electromagnetic phenomena generated by a nuclear or special weapon or coronial mass ejection (CME).
“Rogue state” is a self-deluding Western foreign policy term that has helped China eschew responsibility for enabling North Korea’s aggressive nuclear weaponization, and it is time to call China a sponsor of lawless North Korean behavior that it has a duty to reverse, including irresponsible nuclear proliferation. Other Western terms for North Korea have included “outlaw” and “renegade” – terms that focused responsibility on the Kim Dynasty and minimized China’s role as North Korea’s top trade, aid, and political sponsor. Outlaw, rogue, and renegade replaced Cold War terms such as proxy, client, and satellite in the lexicon of U.S. administrations eager to put the 20th Century Cold War behind them.
Communism, Fascism, Progressivism, Conservatism, Liberalism, Libertarianism, Nazism. What do all these “isms” mean, where do the Alt-Right and ANTIFAS fit in, and do most Americans have any clue what to make of it all? If you search for political spectrum charts on the Internet, you will find disparity. For example, some place Fascism on the far right while others show it on the far left next to Communism and Socialism. You also might gain an idea of whether or not the chart’s creator was of liberal or conservative persuasion based simply on the positioning of Republicans and Democrats in relation to the middle, or the historical figures used to illustrate terms.
Radicalization and violent extremism are topics of concern that have become much more pronounced in recent years (Sedgwick, 2010), and radicalization can be defined as the development of extremist ideologies and beliefs (Borum, 2011). Many factors influence individuals to turn from nonviolent to violent ideologies, including propaganda on the Internet (Maher, 2007), social networks and communications with other extremists (Sageman, 2004), political leaders and authority figures (Moghaddam, 2005), and intergroup conflict (McCauley & Moskalenko, 2011). Any of these factors individually, or a combination thereof, may contribute as catalysts for heightened radicalization (Bubolz & Simi, 2015).
Newly elected Missouri Governor Eric Greitens recently issued an executive order to create a prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) in Missouri. The governor’s newest executive order erects a system markedly different from the plan proposed by the legislature earlier this year and is actually quite different than most drug monitoring programs across the country. Specifically, the governor’s plan calls for the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services to create a database that will target “pill mills” that pump out prescription drugs at “dangerous and unlawful levels.” The department will work with private sector partners to obtain de-identified data that can be used to target abusers. Furthermore, the governor declared in his executive order that he issued the order primarily due to the failure of the legislature to pass its own version of PDMP during the legislative session that runs from January to May.
This is the fourth in a series of short essays focusing on our constitutional history and constitutional leaders, all of whom had a significant impact. This series will attempt to relate the unique features that defined their leadership with an eye toward elucidation of our constitutional system as well as a deeper understanding of our national history. Although he may have been short in stature (about 5’4”), James Madison cast a long shadow among the Founders. He constructed the concept of many of the features we now take for granted in our American constitutional system, among them checks and balances and the separation of powers. A good argument could be made that Madison constructed the constitutional framework that has kept our country functioning for over 200 years.
The debate surrounding the extent to which America is vulnerable to both man-made or naturally occurring electromagnetic pulse (EMP) and natural geomagnetic disturbance (GMD) has become superheated. To some, the dangers these phenomena pose are believed to be existential, while others portray EMP defense advocates as mad and believe its dangers unfounded or debatable. However, Duke Energy Corp. recently became an advocate for EMP/GMD defense by releasing its plan to link multiple power stations in an effort to create resiliency for its operations and customers. What is the root of the debate? The answer, as with many emerging national security issues, is nuanced and complex.
This is the third in a series of short essays focusing on our constitutional history and constitutional leaders, all of whom had a significant impact. This series will attempt to relate the unique features that defined their leadership with an eye toward elucidation of our constitutional system as well as a deeper understanding of our national history. If Thomas Jefferson had been an airplane, he would have been named the Spirit of America. He articulated the vision that has contributed to the development path of the United States since its beginning.