Destructive Interference

Soon there will be no manly men left. General Motors is now selling giant pickup trucks and massive SUVs with active noise cancellation – while you drive along, above it all, you won’t hear the engine roar or the tires rumble. Little microphones in the cabin will pick that up and a bunch of little speakers will fight back.

It’s actually quite simple:

Sound is a pressure wave, which consists of alternating periods of compression and rarefaction. A noise-cancellation speaker emits a sound wave with the same amplitude but with inverted phase (also known as antiphase) to the original sound. The waves combine to form a new wave, in a process called interference, and effectively cancel each other out – an effect which is called destructive interference.

Modern active noise control is generally achieved through the use of analog circuits or digital signal processing. Adaptive algorithms are designed to analyze the waveform of the background aural or non-aural noise, then, based on the specific algorithm, generate a signal that will either phase shift or invert the polarity of the original signal. This inverted signal (in antiphase) is then amplified and a transducer creates a sound wave directly proportional to the amplitude of the original waveform, creating destructive interference.

And that’s that. You won’t hear the rumble and roar – it’ll be cancelled out, along with loud transients, like gunshots or the screams of pedestrians. The cabin will be quiet as a tomb, although that may not be the best way to put it – but Bose has been selling headphones that do this for many years. Someone was going to license their technology sooner or later.

Still, something is lost. What’s the point in spending fifty thousand dollars on one of these massive monsters if you can’t hear it rumble and roar when you tear across town to buy groceries? You might as well be a little old lady in an old Buick sedan.

And what’s the point in spending seven million dollars on the eighth investigation of what happened at Benghazi, the one that will finally prove that Hillary Clinton actually murdered our ambassador in Libya, and releasing the results a few weeks before the Democratic National Convention, to royally screw the Democrats, if ISIS has active noise cancellation? They do. They cancelled the Republican noise:

Multiple explosions and gunfire rocked Turkey’s largest airport Tuesday night, killing at least 36 people and injuring more than 140 others, the latest in a string of potent attacks to hit the country.

Three suicide bombers carried out the assault on Istanbul’s Ataturk airport, Europe’s third-busiest, arriving in a taxi shortly before 10 p.m., Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım told reporters.

At least one of the assailants opened fire with a Kalashnikov rifle outside the international arrivals entrance before blowing himself up, according to Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag. Another managed to get inside the building and was shot by police in the international departures area on the first floor before detonating his explosives, according to video footage of the incident.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but Turkey has been the target of recent attacks from Kurdish militants and the extremist group Islamic State, based in nearby Syria.

It had been the Republicans’ day. Look! Benghazi! And then it wasn’t their day.

Things in Istanbul were more important. ISIS is going to kill us all – but of course it’s not that simple. Turkey has been in a semi-hot war with Syria for years – they want Assad gone. But ISIS wants Assad gone too. That’s an alignment. They’re on the same side – but the Kurds want Assad gone too, and there are three Kurdish separatist groups in Turkey that want to carve out their own country from Turkey, and one of them – the PKK – is really a terrorist organization. They’re all fighting ISIS – and Turkey too – and we arm and support the Kurds in Syria and northern Iraq. We fight alongside them, but of course we don’t fight Turkey, our ally – even if our Kurds kind of hate Turkey. Everything over there seems to cancel out everything else – but our ally, Turkey, was attacked by ISIS, unless it was the Kurds, also our ally, except for the PKK of course. Of course Turkey and Israel just restored full diplomatic relations after four years of anger and silence. Maybe it was the Palestinians. But it was ISIS. Go figure.

Given all that, who wants to talk about Benghazi? It seems there wasn’t much to say anyway:

A final report issued by the Republican-majority committee that investigated the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, found fault with virtually every element of the executive-branch response to the attacks but provided no new evidence of specific wrongdoing by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

A committee news release said the report “fundamentally changes the public’s understanding of the 2012 terrorist attacks that killed four Americans,” including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens.

But while it contains voluminous additional details of what happened before, during and after the attacks on State Department and CIA compounds in Benghazi, the report’s overall narrative does not substantively differ from previous investigations, hearings and news accounts over the years.

For the most part, it describes what it says Clinton and other senior officials should have known and should have done, amid systemic failures across the administration’s national-security apparatus.

Release of the report Tuesday, the day after minority Democrats on the House Select Committee on Benghazi separately published their own conclusions, is likely to draw additional criticism over the $7 million price tag for the two-year investigation.

That it did:

Democrats called the inquiry a witch hunt, designed and dragged out by the GOP to coincide with and undermine Clinton’s presidential campaign. Begun in partisan acrimony, the exercise ended with the two sides not on speaking terms, refusing to sign each other’s reports or even share them before release.

Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), who charged the Obama administration with delaying the committee’s work with a slow release of documents and other information, said in a statement accompanying the majority report that he had “promised to conduct this investigation in a manner worthy of the American people’s respect, and worthy of the memory of those who died. That is exactly what my colleagues and I have done.”

“I simply ask the American people to read this report for themselves, look at the evidence we have collected, and reach their own conclusions,” Rep. Gowdy said.

The original target was fine with that:

Clinton, at a campaign event in Denver, said the committee had “found nothing – nothing – to contradict” the findings of a State Department-named accountability board or previous congressional inquiries.

“So while this unfortunately took on a partisan tinge, I want us to stay focused on what I’ve always wanted us to stay focused on, which is the work of diplomacy and development,” she said.

“I’ll leave it to others to characterize this report, but I think it’s pretty clear it’s time to move on,” Clinton added.

Others may not feel that way, but if you want to nail Hillary, find your own damned smoking gun:

Rather than draw conclusions, the report’s more than 800 pages tell a story, via documents and witness testimony, divided into several parts – a timeline of the attacks, internal and public government communications about them, and the events that led up to them. Separate sections criticize administration compliance with the investigation and offer recommendations for the future.

This was about policies and procedures, which angered those who did want to nail Hillary:

Two of the majority members who were outspokenly critical of the administration during committee hearings, Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), appended their own commentary to the report, with more sharply written charges that officials – and Clinton in particular – failed to protect the diplomatic facility and to adequately respond to the attacks, misled the public about Benghazi and did not cooperate with the investigation.

Pompeo, in a news conference with committee Republicans, called the administration’s failure to launch a rescue mission to Benghazi “morally reprehensible.”

That was the general idea:

The report reserves most of its sharpest criticism for the Defense Department, while not disputing Pentagon statements that aid would not have arrived in time to save the lives of Stevens and State Department communications specialist Sean Smith at the diplomatic compound, or CIA security contractors Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods at the CIA annex.

They should have done what was pointless, because it was the right thing to do? Okay, fine, but at the news conference as the report was released Dana Milbank saw this:

They had vowed to best the seven prior congressional investigations and the Obama administration’s own probe. Instead, they ended their investigation this week with three more competing reports: one by committee Democrats, one by Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) and the committee’s Republican majority, and one by a rump group of conservatives on the panel. There’s still no smoking gun from Benghazi – just a lot more smoke.

Had Gowdy found evidence that the military could have saved the lives of the four Americans? “I don’t know,” Gowdy said.

Had he proved that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton acted on political motives? “I don’t have a background in the ‘why,’ ” Gowdy demurred.

Do his findings support the allegation on bumper stickers and T-shirts across the land claiming “Clinton Lied, People Died”? “You don’t see that T-shirt on me, and you’ve never seen that bumper sticker on any of my vehicles,” Gowdy replied.

Gowdy went out of his way not to mention Clinton in his opening statement at a news conference Tuesday. He said he would be “shocked” if people concluded the report is about her.

Then it got even more interesting:

Rep. Mike Pompeo (Kan.), who wrote a separate report with Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio), proclaimed Clinton’s actions during the Benghazi attacks “morally reprehensible” and said relatives of the slain “have every right to be disgusted” with the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.

NBC’s Luke Russert asked Gowdy about that “morally reprehensible” allegation.

“You read the report, you will not see any of those quotes,” the chairman replied.

But Pompeo stepped to the microphone and said he “absolutely” believes Clinton’s behavior was morally reprehensible – something he believes “in my heart.”

Here we have more destructive interference – one Republican sound wave canceled out by its opposite – but Milbank maintains that was inevitable:

If having a legitimate probe was the goal, Gowdy was probably doomed from the start. He launched with a show of fairness. But Republicans, including Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), eventually confessed the panel’s political aims. Democrats grew more antagonistic, and Gowdy, after promising his report was “not going to come out in the middle of 2016,” released his report just before the political conventions.

Gowdy apparently lost hard-liners on his own panel. Pompeo and Jordan, in their rival report, alleged that Clinton’s State Department was “seemingly more concerned with politics and Secretary Clinton’s legacy than with protecting its people in Benghazi,” and they said the Obama administration was “so focused on the next election that it lost sight of its duty to tell the American people the truth.”

They faulted Clinton for a “lapse in judgment that may well haunt our nation for years to come.” And they thought it “plausible” to conclude that she forced Americans to stay in dangerous conditions because “to leave Benghazi would have been viewed as her failure.”

Pompeo, at Tuesday’s news conference with Gowdy, added that Clinton chose “to put political expediency and politics ahead of the men and women on the ground.”

Gowdy didn’t say that. He wouldn’t say that. Which is it? And there was the other noise:

If Republicans leveled wild accusations, Democrats went the other way, issuing their own report categorically asserting that the Pentagon “could not have done anything differently” to save those killed, that “Secretary Clinton never personally denied any requests for additional security in Benghazi,” that intelligence assessments “were not influenced by political considerations” and that officials “did not make intentionally misleading statements.”

This was more destructive interference:

Between the reckless accusations and the nothing-to-see-here defenses, there was one obvious truth: “There does not appear to be a smoking gun,” CNN’s Dana Bash informed her viewers before Gowdy entered the room.

Nor even a warm slingshot. The few revelations the panel advertised as “new” – that no military assets had been deployed to Benghazi, that embassy security staff had been ordered to change uniforms, that Clinton had been planning a visit to Libya – had mostly been uncovered in previous investigations.

Gowdy, with slicked gray hair, lavender tie and fitted suit, offered what sounded like an excuse for the absence of a bombshell. “It is always better to be the first committee to investigate, and it is always better to investigate as contemporaneously to an incident or to an event as can be done,” he said. “Our committee did not have the luxury of either one of those.”

All the noise from both sides cancelled everything out, except Steve M at No More Mister Nice Blog suggests it didn’t:

The Republicans have won on Benghazi. To much of America the incident in which four people died was the worst foreign policy failure imaginable. The investigations may be over now that we have today’s two Republican reports – one report, ostensibly objective, that’s offered as the voice of the committee as a whole, plus one extra-tendentious report from two hard-right committee members – but the stench will linger.

The notion that the U.S. response to the Benghazi attacks pushed the limits of unspeakable evil and malignant neglect has been promoted so relentlessly that even if Americans are told that other administrations have suffered deaths of diplomatic personnel – far more deaths, in many cases, I don’t think the public can even process that notion. How could anything be worse than Benghazi? Look how much righteous outrage it’s engendered!

That’s the noise that cannot be cancelled out, but it really is noise. Steve M notes Jane Mayer. Writing in 2014, about Lebanon in the Reagan years:

Around dawn on October 23, 1983, I was in Beirut, Lebanon, when a suicide bomber drove a truck laden with the equivalent of twenty-one thousand pounds of TNT into the heart of a U.S. Marine compound, killing two hundred and forty-one servicemen. The U.S. military command, which regarded the Marines’ presence as a non-combative, “peace-keeping mission,” had left a vehicle gate wide open, and ordered the sentries to keep their weapons unloaded. The only real resistance the suicide bomber had encountered was a scrim of concertina wire. When I arrived on the scene a short while later to report on it for the Wall Street Journal, the Marine barracks were flattened. From beneath the dusty, smoking slabs of collapsed concrete, piteous American voices could be heard, begging for help. Thirteen more American servicemen later died from injuries, making it the single deadliest attack on American Marines since the Battle of Iwo Jima.

Six months earlier, militants had bombed the U.S. embassy in Beirut, too, killing sixty-three more people, including seventeen Americans. Among the dead were seven CIA officers, including the agency’s top analyst in the Middle East, an immensely valuable intelligence asset, and the Beirut station chief.

There were more than enough opportunities to lay blame for the horrific losses at high U.S. officials’ feet. But unlike today’s Congress, congressmen did not talk of impeaching Ronald Reagan, who was then President, nor were any subpoenas sent to cabinet members.

There was a genuinely bipartisan congressional investigation, and recommendations, and that was that, even though there was more to come:

In March of 1984, three months after Congress issued its report, militants struck American officials in Beirut again, this time kidnapping the CIA’s station chief, Bill Buckley. Buckley was tortured and, eventually, murdered… Congress held no public hearings, and pointed fingers at the perpetrators, not at political rivals. …

The story in Beirut wasn’t over. In September of 1984, for the third time in eighteen months, jihadists bombed a U.S. government outpost in Beirut yet again. President Reagan acknowledged that the new security precautions that had been advocated by Congress hadn’t yet been implemented at the U.S. embassy annex that had been hit. The problem, the President admitted, was that the repairs hadn’t quite been completed on time. As he put it, “Anyone who’s ever had their kitchen done over knows that it never gets done as soon as you wish it would.”

Steve M:

That last attack happened less than two months before a presidential election. Democrats didn’t scour the record looking for evidence that the president took the incident lightly…

Hillary Clinton has been demonized for Benghazi by a party that regards Ronald Reagan as a god among men. In both cases, history has been written by the propaganda victors.

Steve M seems a bit bitter, but it’s all noise:

An executive at the Trump Organization and special counsel to Donald Trump posted a meme accusing Hillary Clinton of “murdering an ambassador” on Tuesday, shortly before the House Benghazi Committee released its report.

Michael Cohen tweeted news of a new NBC/WSJ poll with a meme depicting the former Secretary of State, saying, “This picture says it all!”

“I presided over $6 billion lost at the State Department, sold uranium to the Russians through my faux charity, illegally deleted public records, and murdered an ambassador,” the all-caps meme of Clinton reads. “ELECT ME!”

The special counsel to Donald Trump, a fine lawyer one supposes, tweets out that Hillary Clinton is a murderer. Perhaps he was just fooling around. Perhaps he’ll demand that she be charged with murder. Who knows? He can play coy for now.

No, that one sort of cancels itself out – Donald Trump has not followed his special counsel’s lead, yet – unless, in four years, the 2020 House Select Committee on Benghazi finds that President Hillary Clinton (not Bill of course) was responsible for those four deaths in Benghazi all those years ago, and since there’s no statute of limitations on murder, she should now be charged with murder, which would mean immediate impeachment of course, and then be tried and executed. After all, if she wins the presidency and the Republicans maintain control of the House – both quite likely – there will be another House Select Committee on Benghazi. There’ll always be another House Select Committee on Benghazi. There’ll always be noise.

What America needs is more political active noise cancellation, more destructive interference, and it doesn’t have to be another massive ISIS attack. Heck, a sex scandal would do. Where’s Larry Craig when you need him?

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About Alan

The editor is a former systems manager for a large California-based HMO, and a former senior systems manager for Northrop, Hughes-Raytheon, Computer Sciences Corporation, Perot Systems and other such organizations. One position was managing the financial and payroll systems for a large hospital chain. And somewhere in there was a two-year stint in Canada running the systems shop at a General Motors locomotive factory - in London, Ontario. That explains Canadian matters scattered through these pages. Otherwise, think large-scale HR, payroll, financial and manufacturing systems. A résumé is available if you wish. The editor has a graduate degree in Eighteenth-Century British Literature from Duke University where he was a National Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and taught English and music in upstate New York in the seventies, and then in the early eighties moved to California and left teaching. The editor currently resides in Hollywood California, a block north of the Sunset Strip.
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