Today’s topic of conversation: GUNS!

Whenever there is a mass shooting the leftists always turn the conversation to gun “control.” I doubt that the most stalwart 2nd Amendment advocate wouldn’t want to discover a way to stop tragedies like Las Vegas or Sandy Hook Elementary. They just don’t believe that limitation of the 2nd Amendment rights would accomplish that – and neither do I.

Do I have an answer. No. Do I believe Nancy Pelosi or Chuck Schumer has the answer. Definitively not.

But I do have some “facts” to consider:

[Sources: America’s gun culture in 10 charts, BBC News: The facts on “gun related deaths,” The Rugged Individualist]

First, it is true that US homicides are most often committed with a gun.

The graph below shows gun deaths among differing races. If one wishes to reduce “homicides” rather than “suicides,” then the following data are helpful. (And, by the by, the thin “light blue” line are essentially “police related deaths.”) I don’t know anyone arguing that the police should be disarmed (although I’m certain they are out there). As a proportion of the population, African Americans are far more likely to commit murder while Caucasian Americans are far more likely to blow their brains out. I don’t think any liberal would state that the answer to gun homicides is to no longer allow Black Americans to buy guns – NOR WOULD I!

Mass shootings get a lot of media attention but their complete eradication would have essentially no impact on “gun deaths.”

Stephen Paddock was nearly unique. Twenty percent of the US population is over the age of 60 years – that’s around 64,000,000 Americans. Only two mass shootings occurred in that age group.

The chart below speaks for itself. Each instance was very sad. Over the past 26 years 8 of the worst mass shootings have occurred.

We get inundated with the phrase “assault” weapons. The guns used in murders are overwhelmingly hand guns.

The next things to consider are the following:

  • no American can purchase an “automatic” weapon (a weapon that fires multiple rounds with a single trigger pull) – Dear Readers, Since I first posted this many readers have informed me that it is possible to buy an automatic weapon.
  • all semi-automatic weapons work the same way – one must pull the trigger for each discharge of the weapon
  • thus a semiautomatic hand gun, a semiautomatic hunting rifle, and a semiautomatic rifle that looks like a military rifle all work in exactly the same way
  • an American cannot actually buy a military grade weapon – also, military weapons are far too expensive for the vast majority of Americans
  • Americans are allowed to purchase rifles that look like the military equivalent, while still being “one discharge per trigger pull”
  • large magazines are considered to be more dangerous than small magazines because the assailant doesn’t need to reload as often.

So let’s think about this information. First all semiautomatic weapons are the same. One trigger pull results in one discharge. The Orlando assailant was in the Pulse Club for more than three hours. Major Nidal Hassan, the army psychiatrist convicted of the Fort Hood massacre, did his dirty work in 7 minutes. He used a semiautomatic handgun. (And let us not forget that Hassan was attacking trained military on a military base.) He managed to fire 100 rounds between the start of his rampage at 1:20 p.m. and the time he was shot at 1:27 p.m. How many rounds can a handgun shoot in seven minutes? At least 1,500. Modern semiautomatic weapons can discharge a round and load the next bullet into the chamber faster than even the nimblest of fingers can pull the trigger. FBI studies have shown that a novice can fire three shots in less than a second, and a trained shooter can double that. That means an experienced gunman can fire off a 20-round magazine in 3.3 seconds. Reloading takes under two seconds.  The argument about “handguns” versus “assault weapons” is moot.

Handguns are the most commonly used firearm in a homicide and there is little appetite to “ban handguns.”

A bit more on public opinion.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) is the biggest bogeyman of the left. And it is true that the NRA spends upwards of $3 million lobbying legislators. But let’s put that in perspective. The following companies dwarf the NRA’s lobbying.

CNNMoney used data from the Center for Responsive Politics:

  • FedExCorp (FDX): $85.7 million.
  • Exxon Mobil (XOM): $85 million.
  • Lockheed Martin (LMT): $78.8 million.
  • Pfizer (PFE): $77.8 million.
  • Google (GOOG): $62.2 million.


That last chart is too long for the post so I’ll put it in a footnote.

And thanks to CAG for sending the BBC article to me.

Roy Filly

Footnote: Finally, all murders are “not equivalent.” I don’t like the fact that there are many gang members who die by homicide, but I won’t be going to their funerals. By contrast a single innocent bystander death during a drive-by shooting is unconscionable.

The same can be said for terrorist murders. While I hate all terrorists, I am particularly irate about radical Muslim terrorists.

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Rebuilding after disasters: Responsibility of the federal government?

The United States and its territory, Puerto Rico, have been slammed by hurricanes. Harvey, Irma, and Maria – the rather benign names given to the recent three major hurricanes – have created massive and very expensive damage to Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico. So what is the federal governments responsibility?

Virtually all, including The Rugged Individualist, agree that the federal government needs to help save as many lives as possible. The federal government has an Army and can summon other forms of “first response.” The President can activate the National Guard. The federal government has an agency dedicated to this purpose (Federal Emergency Management Agency). We expect… no demand that kind of emergency response from the federal government.

But does the federal government need to “rebuild” Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico after the crisis has passed? If you ask Representative Shiela Jackson, the answer is definitely, “Yes!” She is demanding $150 billion — just for Texas.

[Source: Get Out of the Way, by John Stossel]

Congress already has allocated $15 billion in hurricane relief and, by the by, the House voted 419-3 for the relief package. It appears we have found something with bipartisan support in spades. That, unfortunately, is a drop in the proverbial bucket compared to the total costs of rebuilding lives and infrastructure. Will Congress continue its magnanimity?

If the federal government decides to take on the lion’s share of rebuilding, where will it get the money? It would get the funds from you and me. In essence, the money comes from citizens that live in states and, therefore, is coming from states. And states and local governments know better than Washington how relief money might best be used. Do we really want the federal government to be the “middle man?”

[From the Stossel article] The idea that the federal government must lead in rebuilding is only a recent phenomenon, says the Cato Institute’s Chris Edwards. “Prior to recent decades,” he writes, “private charitable groups and businesses have been central to disaster response.”

In 1906, the massive San Francisco earthquake and fire that followed destroyed 80 percent of the city. Yet that tragedy “is remembered not just for the terrible destruction it caused, but also for the remarkably rapid rebuilding … (The) population recovered to pre-quake levels within just three years, and residents quickly rebuilt about 20,000 buildings.”

The rebuilding was quick because it wasn’t done by a cumbersome government bureaucracy. Rich people and companies donated labor and goods. “Johnson and Johnson quickly loaded rail cars full of donated medical supplies and sent them to San Francisco,” writes Edwards.

Also, “90 percent of San Francisco residents had fire insurance.”

Today in America, even people who live on the edges of oceans don’t buy insurance. “Why pay?” many think. “There probably won’t be a problem, and if there is, government will step in.”

Reliance on the federal government increases with every intervention – more interventions results in more reliance on federal handouts. There was a time when American cultural norms saw accepting government “charity” as a serious failure on their part. I am 100% confident that I would have spent many nights hungry before my father would ever consider asking “for help from the government.”

After Hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans, Habitat for Humanity built 70 homes — quickly. Even the mayor admitted that charities did what his government didn’t. “Private sector does it better and quicker,” he told me. “Not a lot of rules and regulations.”

[From the Stossel article] As Daniel Rothschild of the Mercatus Center puts it, “Unfortunately, the scale of major disasters leads many people to conclude that only governments have the resources to deal with the aftermath. This could not be further from the truth. What makes sustainable rebound possible is the rebuilding of communities and the organizations that support them: businesses, civic groups, religious communities and nonprofits.”

These are interesting alternatives many of us have never considered because GOVERNMENT HAS GOTTEN SO BIG! The fundamental position of this blog site is: Big government is bad government, It’s axiomatic!”

Roy Filly


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Single payer healthcare: Bernie read this!

The Democrats have wanted single payer health care for decades. President Bill Clinton campaigned heavily in 1992 on health care reform. The Clinton health care plan had the goal of providing “single payer universal health care.” And do da’ name Ruby Begonia strike a familiar note (you need to be old enough to remember Amos and Andy and Flip Wilson to know the meaning of that ‘question’)?

Hillary Clinton was drafted by the Clinton Administration to head a new Task Force and sell the plan to the American people, which ultimately backfired. On September 26, 1994, the final compromise Democratic bill was declared dead by Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell. 

Now Bernie Sanders is leading the charge. Interestingly enough, Hillary Clinton has dismissed Sanders’ call for a single-payer healthcare system.

Vermont adopted single payer health care and dropped it – way too expensive. Recently California and New York had single payer health care bills pass one house and stall in the other. Why is that, ask you? Because, answer I, the projected cost in California was $400 billion annually (California State Budget this year is $180 billion). New York estimated as much as $225 billion (New York State Budget this year is $163 billion). The taxes in these states are already among the highest in the nation and would need to more than double.

As astounding as these estimates are, they virtually always grossly underestimate actual costs. For example, in 1996 the California Department of Transportation announced the state would spend seven years and just over $1 billion to replace the eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. But the bridge took 10 years longer and cost $6.4 billion.

[Source: 13 Reasons Why … Single-Payer Would Be a Disaster, by Laura Hollis]

Here are 10 reasons why single payer health care is a bad idea [From the Hollis article]:

  1. Single-payer has problems nearly everywhere it has been implemented. Canada ranks dead last in wait times for care, as compared to 10 other wealthy western nations (including the United States). The United Kingdom’s National Health Service is contending with long wait times, funding deficits and deteriorating patient care.
  2. Countries held up as exemplars of single-payer are a fraction of the size of the United States. Canada has 36 million people. England has 53 million. Australia has 24 million. Finland has 5.5 million — that’s half the size of Los Angeles County. The U.S. has more than 326 million people.
  3. Single-payer hasn’t worked here, either. The news has been filled for years with horror stories about wait times and poor care (or no care) within Veterans’ Affairs (despite its $200 billion budget) and the Indian Health Service. If the government cannot provide care for 9 million veterans (those actually enrolled in the VA health care system) or 5.2 million Native Americans, what makes anyone think they can provide it for 330 million Americans?
  4. Sanders claims his plan will “save money.” Bunk. Politicians’ cost projections are always wrong. In 1965, Medicare was projected to cost $9 billion by 1990. The actual cost was $67 billion (and was $646.2 billion in 2015 – RF). Ditto for Medicaid, which was projected in 1967 to cost $12 billion by 1990 and actually cost $98 billion (and was $545 billion in 2015 – RF). Current projections put the costs of Sanders’ proposal at $32 trillion dollars. If he’s wrong… then we’re bankrupt.
  5. You cannot have socialized medicine and open borders. Democrats don’t want a border wall or deportations. They want lax border enforcement, “sanctuary cities,” chain migration and single-payer health care. In practical terms, this will means tens of millions more people streaming into the country demanding “free” health care. Unsustainable.
  6. When the funding deficits hit — as they always do — then the public discovers the first hard truth: Single-payer isn’t a health care provision system; it is a health care rationing system.
  7. Under rationed health care, innovation dries up and care declines.
  8. There are always unanticipated problems, and government is too big to respond nimbly or change quickly, even when the need is great. A system set up by Congress and run by federal agencies will not be able to be changed except by congressional election, subcommittee hearings, changes to federal regulations or litigation in the federal courts. Who among us can accomplish or afford any of that?
  9. In other words, it will be everything you hate about big insurance companies, on steroids and without options…
  10. Sanders proposes making other private insurance illegal. This is Marxism at its purest, and the mark of a system whose designersknowit will fail. (After all, if a product is great, you don’t have to force people to buy it, and you don’t need to ban the competition.) (In every nation with single payer health services that I have been a visiting professor I questioned the interns and residents about the system – I choose them because they are young enough to still be honest. There is ALWAYS private insurance and the corruption to drive patients toward the fee-for-service physicians was nauseating – these physicians were often their professors and decided who could go forward with their training – RF!)

As bad an idea as this is, GET READY!

Roy Filly


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Big year at the Supreme Court – and it starts today.

Today starts the Supreme Court’s calendar of cases. The appointment of Neil Gorsuch will have a significant impact on Supreme Court decisions. We haven’t seen that impact to date because last year’s court calendar was a bit of snoozer.

This year however, starts with a bang.

[Source: The Supreme Court’s Next Term Will Be One for the Books. Here’s Why. By Meagan Devlin and Elizabeth Slattery]

The Court will hear some important cases early in its term.

Political gerrymandering:

I am not a fan of gerrymandering. As you can see on the left, gerrymandered districts are quite bizarre. However, if one party is allowed to do it then both parties should be allowed to do it. Tomorrow, the Supreme Court will take up legislative redistricting in Gill v. Whitford. This case out of Wisconsin involves the Republican-controlled legislature’s 2011 redistricting plan.

[From the Devlin/Slattery article] A three-judge panel invalidated the plan, finding that the Republican legislature intended to “entrench” its power—despite the fact that the plan complied with traditional criteria, such as compactness and contiguity, and that the Supreme Court has previously declined to hear cases involving partisan gerrymandering, as opposed to racial gerrymandering challenges.

In this case, the challengers have come up with a new theory for challenging a plan that otherwise meets the Supreme Court’s criteria.

This new theory—the “efficiency gap”—claims that votes for one party over a certain threshold are “wasted” and shows that a plan has been drawn to pack voters of one party into a small number of districts.

The issue revolves around the fact that Democrats have come to realize that they influence only a very small portion of the geography of the United States. Their constituents tend to live in large cities. A Democrat candidate might garner 90% of the vote in Chicago, but only needed 50.1% to win. They wish to shove the extra 39.9% into another district. or, at very least, not let Republicans cluster all the Democrats into a single district.

Waters of the U.S.

Shortly, the Supreme Court will hear a case involving so-called “wetlands.” The case challenges the Obama administration’s “Waters of the United States” rule. This is one of my personal pet peeves as there are lots of wetlands where I live (Bay Area). If you own private property that runs afoul of the “rule,” you can be in serious trouble and forget building anything on your property.

[From the Devlin/Slattery article] The Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers issued the rule in 2015 defining which “waters” are subject to regulation under the Clean Water Act. It extends federal control over just about every puddle in America…

Property owners, businesses, and several states went to court to challenge this power grab. Though EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced the government will withdraw the Waters of the U.S. rule, it has not yet done so.

Other Cases:

  • The travel ban.
  • Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, deciding whether a state can force a baker to make custom cakes for same-sex weddings.
  • Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, a challenge to Ohio’s voter roll cleanup process.
  • Carpenter v. United States, which looks at police’s warrantless seizure of cell phone location records.
  • Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council 31—a challenge to public unions forcing nonmembers to subsidize the costs of collective bargaining.

A lot could change. Hopefully we’ll see much less “legislation from the bench.”

Roy Filly

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What makes the “lame-stream” media gleeful?

The left-wing media is beside itself with joy. They have their opportunity to criticize the President for an “inadequate response” to one of the recent devastating hurricanes.

Hurricane Harvey came. The federal, and thus the President’s, response was excellent. They didn’t get a chance to criticize the President. Damn!

Hurricane Irma came. The federal, and thus the President’s, response was excellent. They didn’t get a chance to criticize the President. Damn!

Hurricane Maria hits Puerto Rico and devastates the island. Getting aid to the stricken protectorate is nearly impossible. Perfect.

The President (and frankly no human or group of humans) can get aid to the poor inhabitants quickly. The left-wing media is delighted. They can really lay into the President.

Let’s look at the “inadequate response.”

A mountain of food, water and other vital supplies has arrived in Puerto Rico’s main Port of San Juan. But a shortage of truckers and the island’s devastated infrastructure made it virtually IMPOSSIBLE to move the aid where it was needed. At least 10,000 containers of supplies — including food, water and medicine — are sadly piled up at the San Juan port.

Should the President have sent 1000 Teamsters? Airlifted 1000 18-wheelers? How would he have done that and what would they have done? The airports were INOPERABLE and the roads were IMPASSABLE!

FEMA and its federal partners have been conducting 24-hour operations, working aggressively to restore power and operability of ports and other transportation access points to bring additional commodities and personnel into disaster-affected areas. Inoperable airports and ports have been successfully reopened on the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico to bring in commodities, personnel, and life-saving resources.

The federal support for Hurricane Maria includes air and sea logistical support by the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), U.S. Northern Command, the U.S. Navy, and U.S. Coast Guard, in coordination with the private sector.

Fuel, equipment, and commodities to support the response effort continue to flow through airports and ports, as power is restored and facilities are opened.

The Department of Transportation successfully opened five airports in Puerto Rico, and two airports in the U.S. Virgin Islands, for military and relief flights to bring in commodities, and life saving and life-sustaining resources.  Federal partners established a fuel distribution site in San Juan for federal and local entities to support first responder and critical facility needs.

Hurricane Maria made landfall 10 days ago. FEMA and the federal partners were there when the storm hit, and we will be there throughout the recovery.

Actions underway:

  • Urban Search and Rescue teams, working alongside local law enforcement, covered 100 percent of Puerto Rico and rescued 843 individuals.
  • Power was restored to 59 hospitals in Puerto Rico — these hospitals are operationally able to care for the patients they have or are receiving new patients. Efforts to restore the power grid on the island are on-going among the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Department of Energy, and the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority.
  • Drinking water is being restored; 45 percent of customers now have potable water following testing by the Environmental Protection Agency and local officials.
  • Stores are opening with more than 60 percent of gas stations operating and providing fuel, and 49 percent of grocery and big box stores on the island now open.
  • Commodities, such as food and water, are being delivered and distributed daily to the municipality leadership.
  • The U.S. Coast Guard continues to assess ports, with 70 percent of ports open and conducting operations.
  • Efforts by the Federal Aviation Administration, along with the Department of Defenseenabled the Luis Munoz Marin International Airport (SJU) to accommodate daily commercial flights.
  • Work to clear debris continues; so far 11 highways are cleared of debris and open.
  • There are now over 4,000 National Guard members on the ground, from 21 states and territories across the nation.

I’m sure if the Washington Post, New York Times, Daily KOS, Salon, or CNN news commentators were in charge this all could have been accomplished much sooner.

Roy Filly




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Three Myths about why the South went from Democrat to Republican.

The following video from Prager University is very informative. The left needs to “explain” why the former “Solid South” (the southern states were traditionally united and gave unanimous electoral support to the Democrat Party) changed. Now it is heavily weighted toward the Republican Party.

Leftists need their base to believe that this was due to white racists (“rednecks”) in the South flocking to the “racist-favoring Republican Party”  and away from the “ever-so-nice-we-only-want-to-help-you” Democrat Party. Nope!

And thanks again to CAG for sending this to me.

Roy Filly

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Will the real White Supremacists please stand up!

One of the cleverest political ploys of the late 1900s was when the Democrat Party shifted blame for slavery, Jim Crowe and “white supremacy” from their party to the Republican Party.

But, which party has the unassailable history of racism and oppression?

In a recent well written article by Dinesh DeSousa we find the indisputable, undeniable, unquestionable, incontestable, incontrovertible, and irrefutable facts.

[From the DeSousa article]

  • While the secession debate was between the North and the South, the slavery debate was between a pro-slavery Democratic Party and an anti-slavery Republican Party.
  • Two of the three Democrats that Lincoln identified as the champions of slavery—Stephen Douglas and James Buchanan—were Northerners.  Only one, Roger Taney, was a Southerner.
  • Even after Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, the Democratic platform in 1864 sought a treaty with the Confederacy that would… involve a restoration of slavery.
  • After the Civil War, the Democrats overwhelmingly opposed the Thirteenth Amendment freeing the slaves, the Fourteenth Amendment granting equal rights under law, and the Fifteenth Amendment giving blacks the right to vote.
  • Jim Crow is entirely a legacy of the Democratic Party.  Every segregation law enacted in the South was passed by a Democratic legislature, signed by a Democratic governor, and enforced by Democratic officials.
  • After Republicans shut it down in the late nineteenth century, the Ku Klux Klan was revived in the early twentieth century by a progressive Democratic president, Woodrow Wilson, who screened a pro-KKK movie in the White House.
  • For decades the Klan served, in the words of progressive historian Eric Foner, as “the domestic terrorist arm of the Democratic Party.”  David Duke is an anomaly; virtually every KKK leader for the past 150 years has been a Democrat.
  • As historian Ira Katznelson shows, in order to get the New Deal passed, progressive icon Franklin Delano Roosevelt made deals with racist Democrats to block anti-lynching legislation and to exclude African Americans from most New Deal programs.
  • More Republicans than Democrats proportionately voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fair Housing Bill of 1968.  The main opposition to the civil rights movement came not from the GOP but from racist Democrats.

Finally, it should come as no surprise that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Republican. In that era, almost all black Americans were Republicans. Why? From its founding in 1854 as the anti-slavery party until today, the Republican Party has championed freedom and civil rights for blacks.

And thanks to CAG for sending this to me.

Roy Filly

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House Republicans versus Senate Republicans.

Our Founding Fathers gave us a bicameral legislature. I never doubt the wisdom of the Founding Fathers. However, the respective “rules” of these chambers – not in the Constitution as ratified by the Founding Fathers – make them very different and these differences are particularly manifest during the Trump administration.

Congress sank to a 10% approval rating in August (Quinnipiac University).  This compares to an 18% approval rating in March. Congress’s overall 10% approval is the lowest for Congress in Quinnipiac’s history of data back to 2003. Using Gallup data beyond that, it’s the lowest for Congress in data back to 1974. Support for Congress among independents has also bottomed out, falling from 18% in January to just 8% now. Even Republicans are very disappointed.

I for one concur and had Quinnipiac asked me I would have joined the crowd in my disappointment. However, it is clearly unfair to rank the two chambers in the same breath. Let’s take a look.

[Source: Hannity interview of Paul Ryan on 9-27-17]

Democrats understandably dislike both Houses of Congress since they lost their majorities. But Republicans and independents are furious over the failure to “repeal and replace Obamacare.” But wait. The House did pass “repeal and replace” all the way back in May! The failure was in the Senate.

Indeed, the House of Representatives has been very busy. Momentarily I will show you that they have been busier than any House since and including when George  H. W. Bush was president. The House passed healthcare reform, repeal and replace of the hated Dodd-Frank Bill, penalties against sanctuary cities, more funding for the military (indeed, the House has already passed every appropriations bill), and aid to veterans to name just a very few.

If we look at congressional history we find that the current House of Representatives (under Paul Ryan’s speakership) has passed 337 pieces of legislation. Let’s compare that to previous House accomplishments:

  • Trump          337
  • Obama         284
  • Bush 43       156
  • Clinton         214
  • Bush 41        211

By contrast the Senate has yet to act on 274 of the 337 bills sent (more than 80%). In addition they have yet to confirm 2/3 rds of President Trump’s nominees.

Admittedly, Majority Leader McConnell must deal with Chuck Schumer. He must also deal with the filibuster rule. And finally, and most importantly, he must deal with at least 4 senators who almost always vote with the Democrats. Those 4 senators make the Republican “majority” into a Democrat “majority.”

Kinda’ makes ya’ sick, doesn’t it! Excuse me while I upchuck breakfast!

Roy Filly


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Can Kim Jung-un – or as President Trump likes to call him, “Rocket Man” – devastate America with a single nuclear explosion. Unfortunately, it is within the realm of possibility.

EMP, or an electromagnetic pulse, is a short burst of electromagnetic energy. A hydrogen bomb detonated in the atmosphere can generate an EMP – a big one. Misleading or incorrect information about such weapons, both real and fictional, have become known to the public by means of popular culture. Misleading information includes both exaggeration of EMP effects and downplaying the significance of the EMP threat.

[Sources: Who’s afraid of the big bad pulse, by Sharon E. Burke and Emily Sneider; A North Korean EMP attack – unlikely, by Jack Liu]

The potential for a devastating attack appears real. You will either be comforted or terrified to learn that the United Sates Department of Homeland Security has an EMP Task Force. The Executive Director of the Task Force, Peter Pry, warned Congress just last May that an attack with a powerful enough EMP weapon would kill 9 out of 10 Americans “through starvation, disease, and societal collapse.” Ouch!

Pry described a scenario in which an adversary could detonate a nuclear device in the atmosphere over the United States, which would in turn generate an EMP that would cause catastrophic damage to the nation’s electricity grid, resulting in long-term, national power outages. While this possibility should give pause it is still far more likely that a squirrel gnawing on a power line will cause your electricity to go out before Kin Jung-un can get his nefarious act together.

To carry out such an attack on the United States Mr. Kim would need an intercontinental ballistic missile and a hydrogen bomb. Oops. He seems to have those already if not yet in a configuration that could actually get to the atmosphere above the US for detonation. To say that our retaliation would be severe is a gross understatement. It would be suicide. Unfortunately, Mr. Kim might be just the maniac who would do such a thing.

It is far from a certainty that such a nuclear detonation would cause a prolonged, widespread, and devastating power outage. Some manufacturers of industrial control systems and transformers report that their equipment has been tested and proven robust to such an electromagnetic pulse.

Overall, Mr. Kim has much work to do and a lot to consider before he could even attempt such an attack (footnote). For the moment we can rest easy – an EMP from a nuclear explosion will not be bringing America to its knees any time soon. However, as White House national security adviser HR McMaster said after the latest North Korean missile launch, the United States was running out of patience: “We’ve been kicking the can down the road, and we’re out of road.”

Roy Filly

Footnote (for the physics junkies, but read the last paragraph): From the Liu article:

The generic diagram below shows an EMP to consist of three phases (E1, E2 and E3) occurring over vastly different time scales.[2] Of these, E1 is the most damaging. The others are 100 times (at minimum) less damaging than the first.

Figure 1. The three phases of an EMP threat.

The E1 component of an EMP is a very brief but powerful electromagnetic field that can induce very high voltages in electrical conductors. Damage occurs by causing voltage limits in equipment to be exceeded and happens so fast that ordinary surge protectors cannot effectively protect computers and communications equipment. However, special transient protectors fast enough to suppress this part of an EMP exist and there has been significant progress in hardening critical systems against EMP.

Size Matters

This is an instance where size does matter: the larger the nuclear explosion, the larger the affected area. While technical reports and papers on EMP from nuclear detonations are mostly classified, there is a paper by D. Hafemeister of California Polytechnic Institute that provides sufficient detail to derive a simple rule of thumb on the relationship between affected distance and nuclear device yield. The paper makes some simplifying assumptions:

  • The detonation is spherically symmetric (which may not always be the case);
  • The Earth’s magnetic field is not accounted for;
  • Prompt gamma rays account for 0.3 percent of the total energy of the explosion and are emitted within the first 10 nanoseconds of detonation;
  • About 0.6 percent of the prompt gamma rays produce relativistic electrons that constitute the E1 component of the EMP; and
  • The electric field damage threshold is 15,000 volts/meter or higher in the E1 component.

Plugging in the numbers and presuming these assumptions are appropriate, the rule of thumb is surprisingly simple: D = Y, where D is the maximum damage distance expressed in kilometers and Y is the yield of the blast in kilotons. So, a 20 KT bomb detonated at optimum height would have a maximum EMP damage distance of 20 km; a 1 MT (1,000 KT) bomb would damage out to 1,000 km. The largest North Korean test to date has been estimated to be about 20 KT.


Considering the physics behind EMP and the status of North Korea’s nuclear program to date, doomsday headlines in the press regarding the North’s potential EMP threat are grossly overstated.

North Korea’s nuclear tests have not yet demonstrated sufficient yield to cause damage to large areas through EMP. Moreover, with only a limited arsenal, it would not make sense for the North Koreans to conduct nuclear tests simply to develop EMP weapons.

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Politics in cartoon form.

My last few posts have been pretty heavy; time for some levity.

What more can one say. This cartoon is perfection!

The “debt ceiling” is an oxymoron. For those that argue it is a “bargaining chip,”  they should reexamine the last compromise (sequestration) Congress achieved in “debt ceiling negotiations.” It destroyed our military readiness and debt just kept mounting.

Give it up Democrats. There’s no “there there.” You’re just getting deeper into a hole. The latest revelations on “unmasking” by UN Secretary Powers and electronic eavesdropping on Paul Manafort that likely included the president-elect are embarrassing your party. Won’t you be surprised when Special Counsel Mueller indicts a bunch of Democrats instead of Republicans.

Democrat party paints itself into a corner over Russian hacking claim.

Face it. The Republicans are never going to get this done, cattle prod notwithstanding.

Again, Democrats. Your sidekicks, the “mainstream media” are starting to sound like petulant children. They’re reporting on face-lifts and high heels. Wake up – Americans no longer care that you are mad about losing the election.

I’ll finish with my favorite. Good Lord, woman. You have been trying to explain to the American public for nearly one year why it is you lost the election. We already know why you lost the election. THE VOTERS DIDN’T LIKE YOU.

Roy Filly

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