Workin’ in the Mill

Apparently, Craig Bouchard has decided to build a new aluminum mill – in Ashland Kentucky. That’s something that ‘t doesn’t happen very often. In America, at least. Allysia Finley, over at The First Street Journal took a look at it following a story in the Wall Street Journal.

In April the CEO of Braidy Industries, Craig Bouchard, announced his company would build a $1.3 billion aluminum mill in Ashland, Ky., creating 550 jobs. Within the past few weeks, he has received 2,600 applications—many with heart-wrenching personal anecdotes.

Ashland, a small Appalachian town on the Ohio River, was once an industrial powerhouse. Fifty years ago, nearby coal mines churned out cheap energy and raw materials for steel production. But in recent decades the region has suffered a series of blows. In 1998 Ashland Oil relocated to the Cincinnati suburbs. Two years ago, AK Steellaid off 600 workers. Last year CSX Railroad cut 100 jobs due to reduced traffic from the coal mines. Unemployment in Greenup County stands at 8.9%.

Last month President Trump —who won the county with 71% of the vote—ordered an investigation into whether aluminum imports were jeopardizing national security. It’s a step toward the tariffs that protectionists hope will revive America’s Rust Belt. But the best hope for towns like Ashland is innovation and investment by men like Mr. Bouchard.

He’s the kind of businessman who might appear on a union hit list. The CEO cut his chops in derivatives trading before buying the scraps of a bankrupt Chicago steel company in 2003 with his brother James. Within five years, the Bouchard brothers had built their company, Esmark, into the nation’s fourth-largest steel conglomerate.

They sold it for $1.2 billion to the Russian steelmaker Severstal in 2008, shortly before the stock market and steel industry crashed. Thousands of workers subsequently lost their jobs. Mr. Bouchard blames the United Steelworkers. He had first tried to sell a partnership stake in Esmark to the Indian company Essar Steel. But the United Steelworkers sought to force a sale to Severstal, which the union perceived as more labor-friendly. Had the Essar deal been consummated, Mr. Bouchard says, “every one of those people would have their jobs today” because all of the company’s debt would have been paid off.

The episode soured him on organized labor, and it’s one reason he was determined to build his new aluminum plant in a right-to-work state, where workers can’t be compelled to join a union. Before choosing Ashland, he drew up a list of 24 potential sites. The logistics favored Ashland, and Kentucky offered $10 million in tax incentives as well as low-cost electricity. But Mr. Bouchard says he was prepared to build elsewhere had Kentucky’s Republican governor, Matt Bevin, not signed right-to-work legislation in January.

Pay at the plant, which is expected to be up and running in 2020, will start at $50,000 a year and average $70,000—about twice the median household income in Ashland. Workers will also have access to health insurance, fitness facilities and a day-care center.

There’s more at the WSJ link, although it is subscriber only. But there is enough here to draw some conclusions.

First, Ashland is a superb location, especially for heavy industry, on the Ohio River, only a few miles from an Interstate Highway, lots of railroad infrastructure, and lots of unemployed people, both a legacy from coal mining. Nor does it hurt, that the Kentucky government offered $10 million in tax incentives and cheap electricity (aluminum production takes a lot of electricity, I seem to remember).

And finally, Kentucky is a right-to-work state, and Bouchard, like so many of us, has been turned anti-union, by the unions, themselves. Many of us watched as the were the main actors in destroying many of the industries that dominated my childhood, primary steel, the big 3 automakers, and many others. Apparently including Bouchard’s Esmark Steel. Nor does he appear to be exactly planning on exploiting his workers, starting them at $50K, and averaging $70K, that’s a pretty decent living, and working conditions are no longer really a contract condition, they’re a government regulation. Yes, often a silly group of them.

One of the things that the unions used to kill enterprises, and why it is a very silly move anymore to buy a legacy business, are the defined benefit pension plan, Allysia says this.

The pension decisions of decades in the past are still weighing down American manufacturers today. Those decisions cannot all be blamed on unions; management too frequently took decisions concerning pension plans and funding which worked fine for the individual managers in the fifties and sixties, but are unsustainable today. Defined benefit plans are being replaced by 401(k) plans, and the like, plans which do not depend upon the company’s future contributions to those plans. The defined benefit plan, if not properly funded as the company moves along, is, in effect, paying retired personnel a wage for no longer working.

That’s correct, and a good deal of that was taking the easy way out, rather than fighting the union. And by the way, it is not only business, it’s the basic problem (besides corruption, of course) with government, in Chicago, in Detroit, in Illinois, in California, and pretty much anywhere that government employees have unionized, because politicians, being the weak-willed creatures they are, have almost always not funded the retirement systems as required (often the unions haven’t, either).

And that’s why smart people go for a 401k these days, which was originally designed for the self-employed. If you fund it yourself, it tends to get funded, if you depend on other people’s money, well people are subject to the temptation of shinier objects than taking care of those who used to work with them.

Trump in Arabia

Remember this picture of the Swedish PM (and others) in the UAE?

Well, compare and contrast.

See a bit of difference in the attitude that Melania’s dress, and the whole scene portrays? Look, this isn’t earthshaking, there a lot of difference between Sweden and the US, as well as between the UAE and Saudi Arabia. But it does speak to attitude. The US is obviously being respectful, but so are the Saudi’s. The reception tells you, as it should, that the Saudi government has a good deal of respect for President Trump, and also that they want something. Which they do, but then again, Arabs and Americans, and especially this President are traders, and always have been, and signals are important.

It always signifies something, when the President’s daughter, Ivanka, an Orthodox Jew, looks quite comfortable in Riyadh, as here. But then again, what are the Saudi’s really going to say about it. But later today, for the first time (officially) AF 1 will be the first flight directly from Riyadh to Tel Aviv. That too is significant.

It speaks to the growing alignment of the Saudis and this Israelis against the Iranians, and it speaks of the gradual reform that is becoming evident in Saudi Arabia, not least because of America’s growing importance in the oil market, and thus still another way that the Arabs are losing their power.

And he gave a speech, worthy of an American President, here it is.

Now mind, words are not actions, but words often define actions we will take. It strikes me as a very good start.

The Rule of Law (UK Style)

On NEO there are 228 articles dealing with the ‘Rule of Law‘ or so says the search box. It’s been one of the most common topics here since day one. It continues to be, for cause. Here’s why, from the £ Daily Mail.

An ‘extraordinary’ Oxford University student who stabbed her Tinder lover with a bread-knife could be spared jail after a judge said a custodial sentence would damage her future career as a heart surgeon.

Lavinia Woodward, 24,  swiped at her boyfriend with the blade, before stabbing him in the leg.

She then hurled a laptop, a glass and a jam jar at him, during the drink and drug-fuelled clash at Christ Church college, Oxford.

Woodward, who currently lives in Milan, Italy, previously admitted unlawful wounding at an earlier hearing.

Judge Ian Pringle said the offence would normally mean a prison term, but instead delayed sentencing and slapped her with a restraining order to stay drug-free and not to re-offend.

He told the court: ‘It seems to me that if this was a one-off, a complete one-off, to prevent this extraordinary able young lady from not following her long-held desire to enter the profession she wishes to, would be a sentence which would be too severe.

‘What you did will never, I know, leave you but it was pretty awful, and normally it would attract a custodial sentence, whether it is immediate or suspended.’

Prosecutor Cathy Olliver said Woodward met her ex online and at the time of the attack, September 30, her behaviour ‘deteriorated’.

The student’s boyfriend called Woodward’s mother on Skype, and his then-girlfriend punched him in the face before assaulting him with the knife.

Defending, James Sturman QC said his client’s dreams of becoming a surgeon were ‘almost impossible’ as her conviction would have to be disclosed.

Woodward had a ‘very troubled life’, struggled with drug addiction, and had been abused by another ex, Mr Sturman said.

Lavinia Woodward will be sentenced on September 25.

To American eyes, British sentencing looks pretty mild at any time, but even there one would expect a custodial sentence for a drugged binge, including assault with a deadly weapon on one partner, even if one were attending Oxford hoping to be a doctor. You know, us provincial Americans, “You do the crime, you do the time”. Yeah, we know a woman, especially a fairly cute one, won’t catch as severe a sentence usually, that’s a bit wrong, but it’s a cultural thing with us, and not that big a deal, because women usually aren’t as violent as men anyway.

But this is well beyond that point, It’s a hard thing to ruin someone’s future, even for cause, but it seems hardly a good thing for the average Briton to have unstable, drug abusing, prone to violence, heart surgeons. That’s why we take people off the street, not so much to punish them (in theory, anyway) but to help them get their life straightened out.

But I wonder if the Mail provided us with the answer, after all. Here’s another picture of poor Lavinia.

I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I’m pretty sure that ain’t cattle class on Ryanair. Yep, it’s a private jet of some kind, and they are not economy class. Mind, one doesn’t have to be close to being Donald Trump to have one, and they often make business sense, but it is not the way we usually go off to Podunk U, to fulfill our dreams.

I won’t say there is bribery involved here, although there certainly could be, in one manner or another. After all, not all bribes are money, many are access, or influence, or other things, and they may actually be more harmful.

But even that is problematic, what I really suspect is that it is simply class solidarity, can’t send our kind to prison, she’d have to deal with all those [insert your own group] here.

And that is why it is pernicious. What has made Great Britain, America, and very few more countries what we are is that the law applies equally to everyone.

And forgetting that will destroy much of the reason they work.

A Conversion Story

Sadly, not Bookworm, as far as I know.

Bookworm takes a look in the mirror:

Cultural appropriation be damned.  I am finally coming out of the closet as a trans-cultural Redneck and proud of it.  Allow me to explain.

I was raised in the belly of the beast, San Francisco, by European immigrant parents who fully embraced upper class, European culture in all of its arrogant glory.  We didn’t have the money, but I was taught to have all the right attitudes.  They were drilled into me from the cradle: imported cheese, classical music, foreign movies, and a sneering disdain for the ordinary Americans who liked working with their hands, watching fights and drinking beer.

Still, despite this pressure to be an American elite, I kept slipping up. While the family was cooing over a nice runny Brie, I was in my room, squirting quick hits of canned Velveeta in my mouth, hoping no one would catch the tell-tale orange stain around my lips. Instead of being grateful for my Mom’s carefully packed school lunches, complete with brown bread and vegetables, I was desperate to get my hands on my schoolmates’ Wonderbread™ sandwiches and Hostess Twinkie™ snack cakes.

Music was an issue too. I kept my face politely bright when I was dragged to the symphony or the opera, feigning interest in Mozart’s Requiem or Verdi’s Madama Butterfly, but my heart wasn’t in it. Even as the musicians played and the singers sang, I had a separate track in my head playing Slim Whitman, Hoyt Axton, Marty Robbins, and Johnny Cash. I wasn’t a purist, by any means, of course. There was plenty of room throughout my school years for Top 40s music, but opera made me wish I could break out in hives as an excuse to leave the room.

Things got worse when I hit my hard-Left, highly-ranked college. With every passing year, it became harder to feign respect for the professors who droned on at the front of the room, reading off of stale old notes. As they preached Marxism in the classroom, either directly or indirectly, I couldn’t get past the fact that they lived in expensive homes, complete with Hispanic maids and Japanese gardeners, dined out at fine restaurants (organic before it was in), and regularly traveled to (of course) Europe. My classmates revered them; I thought they were pompous, hypocritical windbags, and the fact that I got good grades from parroting their cant back to them only increased my disdain.

It was at college that, for the first time, I grappled with the fact that, despite my upbringing and credentials, I was living a lie. I hated to be something I wasn’t, but I didn’t yet know enough to express what I was. As far as I and everyone else knew, I was just your usual slightly weird Euro-immigrant, Jewish-Liberal Bay Area Democrat.

My years at law school in Texas were the first time in my life that I felt I fit in. Sure, I had still had whole grain brown bread cravings, but saying “y’all” just felt right. It rolled off my tongue, if you know what I mean. And being friendly to people — saying “howdy” to everyone — that felt right too. It was a world away from college’s snide cliques and studied rudeness. I loved hanging out in dives and dancing all night long to the live blues and country bands.

Still, the pull of my upbringing was strong. Instead of giving in to what felt was right for me, I forced myself to return to the rarefied world in which I grew up. It was still too painful to admit to what I really was and I knew that I wasn’t strong enough to face the backlash from family and old friends.

And so for the next two decades, I hid my true self. I listened to NPR, voted Democrat, called myself a feminist, ate at restaurants that served food with names I couldn’t pronounce, periodically went to the symphony, had my collection of gay friends (who always made nasty remarks about women), and pretended I had black friends (in fact, as a young professional in San Francisco, I only knew one black person and, while I liked her, she wasn’t really a friend….). At the same time, I became a cynical, embittered, contrarian person, always pushing back at chimeras. I knew my life was wrong, but I didn’t know what was right.

What changed all this was 9/11. In the subsequent years, I realized I wasn’t a Democrat at all. I was a conservative! Oh. My. God! That was incredibly liberating. Even more liberating was writing a blog that (a) allowed me to express my thoughts without being socially ostracized and (b) put me in contact with people who didn’t sneer at Velveeta in cans, disliked opera, wanted to shoot guns, listened to country and pop music, watched MMA fighting, and thought traveling within America on vacation was cool, not pathetic.

Keep reading, it’s good all the way through A fair amount of it parallels things in mine, although I was never politically liberal, even as a kid it didn’t make sense to me. Yep, one of the few thing dad and I argued about occasionally, he was conservative, but a New Dealer, well I understand why, but don’t condone such contradictions. Maybe that’s why I have a soft spot for Tories, and in fact, anyone who reads too much Burke, and not enough Locke.

I certainly do approve of Daisy Dukes, though! 🙂

Special Counsel

So, we have a Special Prosecutor Counsel. Isn’t that special, well we have it because there is a lot of smoke, not least to find out if there is a fire, swamp gas is burning off, too much grilling in the fog, or somebody bought some army surplus smoke generators and are manufacturing smoke. I think I may know, and so may you, but that doesn’t seem to matter. The farce must play out.

But I suspect it may not go the way the writer of the script thinks, former FBI Director Robert Mueller is fairly obviously well connected, that does not necessarily mean that he is dishonest. He’s also a former Marine Officer decorated for his service in Vietnam. One thing it will do is reduce the volume a bit, and let the Administration do a bit of administrating rather than running around like fools all day long. Well, one hopes anyway!

Best I’ve seen on it comes from Joshuapundit, here’s some…

Rosenstein may even have been told by Trump to appoint a special counsel. It puts this garbage on the back burner somewhat, and will hopefully shut it down. That’s because there’s nothing for Mueller to find on the president and no crime. But just look at Mueller’s actual brief! To supervise the investigation of:

“(i) any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and (ii) any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation; and (iii) any other matters within the scope of 28 C.F.R. §600.4(a).”

Regulation 28 C.F.R. §600.4(a) is part of the federal regulations that authorize appointing a special counsel. It expands a special counsel’s jurisdiction to all crimes, such as perjury or obstruction of justice, that interfere with his original responsibility.To wit, (ii) any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation; and (iii) any other matters within the scope of 28 C.F.R. §600.4(a).”

Think of the ground that could cover! It could definitely include investigating Seth Rich’s murder* and reopening the investigation of the Clinton Foundation that FBI Director Comey closed on Obama AG Loretta Lynch’s orders after she met will Bill Clinton on that plane. It could include compelling testimony from Loretta Lynch herself. It could expand to exploring President Obama’s surveillance of the Trump campaign by President Obama and the clear violations of FISA laws that took place. Imagine some of these juicy scandals coming to light just in time for the midterms…talk about a total reversal of fortune.

In any event, the supposed ‘Comey memo’ if it even exists amounts to hearsay evidence no judge would take seriously. And even if Trump suggested Comey ‘go easy on Flynn’ after he had been fired, that is not obstruction of justice. That crime involves actual overt actions like destroying evidence, perjury, inducing other people to commit perjury, you know, the sort of felonies the Clintons did routinely.

And recall that both ranking member Senators Feinstein (D-CA) and Richard Burr (R-NC),the chairman both said that Trump was not under investigation based on the classified briefing they were given.

Another thing to consider. Comey is a lawyer. As such, he is an officer of the court who is legally obligated to report a crime like obstruction of justice. Yet he did not…until now. That could be grounds for disbarment.

Do read it all at the link above.

Who knows, Special Counsels are official loose cannon, nobody (usually including them) know where an investigation like this is likely to go, and that’s if the Counsel (and staff) are honest. It may be the worst thing Trump could do, it may also be the best, only time will tell.

The British Report

We haven’t followed up with our British friends are doing and saying for a bit. Quite a bit, actually since they have an election coming up next month. If everybody is right, it won’t be exciting, the Conservatives (who aren’t very, in our terms) will roll.

But part of the infection they caught from Europe has to do with free speech, and the left’s (including the BBC)(BIRM) strong drive to stifle it. One of my best friends, Professor John Charmley wrote about it yesterday in Christian Today, here’s some.

An inquisitorial tone is to be expected from the presenters on Radio 4’s Today programme, but on Wednesday May 18 we had that tone of outrage reserved by the BBC for an idea which its presenters consider beyond the pale.

A Liberal Democrat spokesman was confronted with the fact that a decade ago his party leader, Tim Farron, had opposed abortion. Was this, the presenter asked, still the case and would it affect party policy? […]

Under William III, parliament passed a series of Test Acts designed to bar from public life an otherwise qualified man who was not an Anglican. For 150 years Britain was an Anglican confession state, and not until the Catholic Relief Act of 1829 were Roman Catholics permitted to vote in national elections and sit in parliament.

In their original form the Test Acts allowed any non-Anglican who felt able to turn up to take communion a couple of times a year to vote – in other words, anyone who believed what their Catholic faith taught was barred, but those with looser consciences were able to squeeze in.

We now have a modern test Act.

‘Are you now, or have you ever been, in favour of restricting abortion “rights” or have you opposed gay marriage?’ Should you fail to recant, there will be a public roasting. Anyone familiar with Twitter will see the reaction of many progressives to orthodox Christians and it is not pleasant. At the very least, the Christian politician who holds to orthodox teaching on such matters has to be prepared to declare that whatever his or her views, they will have no influence on their conduct in office. […]

Political life is already dominated by a narrow range of people, and the danger of group-think is obvious. The hounding of Tim Farron suggests there are those who wish to apply Test Act mentality to political life. We have recently heard much of the Benedict Option – it sounds as though Farron’s persecutors would like to enforce it. That should be resisted.

John Charmley is an historian and Pro-Vice Chancellor at St Mary’s University, Twickenham.

He’s very correct, and we are starting to see the same BS on our left, It should not be permitted.

On a much lighter note, is there anyone, anywhere who is not fascinated by the Tudors, especially Henry VIII and his daughter Elizabeth? If so, I haven’t met them. And so eminent British historians keep making TV shows about them, and it’s a good thing. I happened to see Suzi’s Tweet the other day, and so watched this episode. Well, it’s hard to go too far wrong when you have Suzi Lipscomb and Dan Jones for presenters, and so it proved here. If you can see it, watch it, and likely it’ll end up here eventually anyway.

gjones #ElizabethI @lilycole @channel5_tv – on now!

And still another one of my friends, Roger Pearse may have solved the mystery of the ages – who first used Abracadabra to make magic.

The first writer to use the phrase “abracadabra” as a magical incantation is, I understand, the (probably) late second century AD medical writer Q. Serenus Sammonicus.  He does so in his two-book medical handbook, the Liber medicinalis, in chapter 51, as a cure for demi-tertian fever, which is perhaps some form of malaria.[1]

Here’s the Latin for chapter 51, from the PHI site:[2]

Hemitritaeo depellendo.

Mortiferum magis est quod Graecis hemitritaeos     51.932 
uulgatur uerbis; hoc nostra dicere lingua  
non potuere ulli, puto, nec uoluere parentes.  
Inscribes chartae quod dicitur abracadabra            935 
saepius et subter repetes, sed detrahe summam  
et magis atque magis desint elementa figuris  
singula, quae semper rapies, et cetera †figes,  
donec in angustum redigatur littera conum:  
his lino nexis collum redimire memento.               940 
Nonnulli memorant adipem prodesse leonis.  
coralium uero si †cocco nectere† uelis  
nec dubites illi ueros miscere smaragdos,  
adsit baca teres niueo pretiosa colore:  
talia languentis conducent uincula collo 945 
letalesque abiget miranda potentia morbos.


 

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