Texas Deep Freeze disaster had a backup plan. It failed, as well.


Thomas Ryan Allison/Bloomberg

Texas’ days-long power outages during last February’s deep freeze almost stretched into weeks or even months thanks to a string of failures at “black start” generators.

More than half of the state’s 28 black start generators, which are crucial for bringing a collapsed grid back to life, experienced outages themselves, according to a new report by The Wall Street Journal. Of the 13 primary generators, nine encountered trouble, as did six of 15 secondary generators acting as backups in case the primary backups failed. Some had trouble getting enough fuel to run, while others were damaged by the cold weather.

Every North American grid has black start generators, but there’s no nationwide standard regulating them. Each state or grid operator decides how to operate the generators. Some use a mix of fossil fuel generators and hydroelectric dams…

But Texas no longer has any hydroelectric black start facilities. All of its black start generators use natural gas as a primary fuel, and only 13 generators at six sites can use fuel oil as a backup. When natural gas supplies run short, generators without an alternate fuel source are unable to provide vital services to the grid. Plant operators are required to maintain a reserve supply of fuel, but it wasn’t clear during the February freeze that they were all fulfilling this obligation. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, which manages most of the state’s electrical grid, is reportedly in the process of trying to recover some of the payments made to black start facilities that failed during the outage.

The Black Start facilities were getting regular payments to provide an emergency service. When this disaster struck, they were unable to provide that service. IMHO, they not only do not deserve payment for that immediate incident, they must be able to provide proof of previous readiness or refund payment for some or all of that previous period.

Feds unraveling conspiracy details on the DC riot


Melina Mara/Washington Post

FBI agents around the country are working to unravel the various motives, relationships, goals and actions of the hundreds of Trump supporters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Some inside the bureau have described the Capitol riot investigation as their biggest case since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and a top priority of the agents’ work is to determine the extent to which that violence and chaos was preplanned and coordinated

An indictment Friday night charged a member of the Proud Boys, Dominic Pezzola, 43, of Rochester, N.Y., with conspiracy, saying his actions showed “planning, determination, and coordination.” Another alleged member of the Proud Boys, William Pepe, 31, of Beacon, N.Y., also was charged with conspiracy.

One of the comments cited in the FBI memo declared Trump supporters should go to Washington and get “violent. Stop calling this a march, or rally, or a protest. Go there ready for war. We get our President or we die.”

RTFA. Classic coordination for demonstrations is always fertile ground for folks who prefer violence over public support for whatever political position. Poisonally, I think they need to have their heads examined if they believe they can rollout a Banana Republic coup in a nation with inertia and ennui designed into the genetics of political processes.

Preferably, the exams should be conducted by a prison doctor.

America After Trump

❝ As of this writing, Trump seems highly likely to survive impeachment itself. Many Republican senators fear him even more than they hate him, making 67 Senate votes a high hurdle. Predicting impeachment’s effect on his electoral prospects is tricky, but even in the most favorable scenarios, Trump’s 2020 map is tough. His campaign seems to accept that he will almost certainly lose the popular vote again, and probably by an even bigger margin than in 2016. Trump’s most plausible plan for reelection is to hope that, by inflaming the racial fears of white voters, he can hold most of his 2016 states and possibly flip a couple of others. To do this, he must activate intergroup hatred on a scale not seen since George Wallace—and never considered by an incumbent president since Andrew Johnson.

It might work. The damage Trump could do in a second term would be substantial, and possibly irreversible—starting with the harm that would be done to the legitimacy of the American political system if he once again wins the Electoral College while losing the popular vote…

❝ But what if, as seems more likely at this point, he is defeated? If Trump loses, a cloud will lift from American politics. But the circumstances that produced him will not vanish—and the changes that he wrought will outlast him. Like Lewis Carroll’s Cheshire cat, when Donald Trump fades from the scene, his teeth will linger after him—but unlike the cat’s, those teeth will not be smiling. They will bite and draw blood for years to come…

Even a roundly defeated Trump will bequeath a hard legacy to his Democratic successor, however: fiscal deficits in excess of $1 trillion for years to come; no-win trade wars, not only against China but against the European Union and other friends…under current fiscal and political conditions, a costly progressive agenda stands little chance of being enacted. Medicare for All? Student-debt relief? There won’t be money for those—nor, more pertinent, the votes in the Senate.

RTFA. It’s long, detailed, only a bit wordy – but, hey, it’s David Frum telling the truth from the viewpoint of a conservative willing and able to fight for bipartisan legislation helpful to ordinary folks.

Fake President Fail


Cyrus Vance

❝ Donald Trump has made sweeping claims of presidential immunity in a rush to federal court to block Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance’s subpoena of eight years of tax returns.

❝ Such assertions, Federal Judge Victor Marrero ruled in a persuasive opinion, “would stretch to cover every phase of criminal proceedings, including investigations, grand jury proceedings and subpoenas, indictment, prosecution, arrest, trial conviction and incarceration,” setting up a situation “repugnant to the nation’s governmental structure and constitutional values.”

Sockit to’em, sockit to’em!