Seriously, but not Literally

This could be a book review, except all I’ve read is the Amazon excerpt, which was enough to sell me the book, which I’ll likely read today – it’s that good. What book is that? This one: The Great Revolt: Inside the Populist Coalition Reshaping American Politics, by Salena Zito and Brad Todd, Crown Forum, New York.

Thing is, I’m one of the people she’s writing about (no, not personally) but their background is my background, it is our shared history – in the breadbasket and manufactury of America. We are the people who elected Trump. Why? Because we had simply had enough of what many, likely most, of us see as the uniparty.

Time for something new. And Trump speaks our language, blunt, to the point, always looking out for America First. It was Zito that first described so well how we take Trump, then and now: We take him seriously, but not literally. That’s also how we take each other. How a Brooklyn born, Manhatten based multi-millionaire builder/CEO manages to sound like us is remarkable, but he does, and on 20 January 2017, a president of the old America took office. After all, he is the President of the United States, not the freakin’ world.

Fred Siegal of City Journal has a good review of the book up there, here is an excerpt from that.

Despite Trump’s narrow margin of victory—just 77,000 votes—in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, Zito and Todd see the 2016 election as representing a tectonic shift in America’s electoral plates. “Far from a fluke, the 2016 election was a product of Obama’s globalist conceits that produced defective trade deals, open borders and an aggressive secularism.” Trump’s victory was his triumph, not the Republican Party’s.  Neither the two-time Obama voters who switched to Trump nor the habitual nonvoters who came out to the polls in 2016 saw much to rally around in the GOP. Their ties are to Trump, a finding with implications for the upcoming midterms.

“Eighty-nine percent of Trump voters represented in the Great Revolt Survey agree with the statement ‘Republicans and Democrats in Washington are both guilty of leading the country down the wrong path,’” Zito and Todd write. An Iowa voter insisted that the “only person that is able to turn me against Trump is Trump.” Similarly, in economically hard-hit Ashtabula, Ohio, east of Cleveland, a voter said: “So to ask me what would extricate me from Trump would be like asking me to remove me from myself, from my family, and from my community.” The most important issues for voters in the authors’ survey were “restoring manufacturing jobs, protecting Medicare and social security and appointing conservatives to the Supreme Court to protect religious liberty being threatened by assertive Hilary Clinton Progressives.” One interviewee said that NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, “is no longer an acronym—it’s a noun, and a profanity.”

It’s interesting that as this goes on, not to mention the hysterical bleating from the Democrats and the Never-Trumpers (in whom I fail to discern any difference) the president’s support from Hispanics and Blacks is starting to rise, not surprisingly, a rising tide really does lift all boats, and their lives are getting better. Even most of the Republican party seems to be starting to see the light, not least because it’s fairly easy to primary a candidate, even to the Senate level, especially with a popular president providing the tar and feathers.

Zito and Tod see American politics as a tectonic process, huge groups crashing into each other and changing. They have at least a fair amount of right. The morphing of the Whigs and others into the nascent Republican party in the 1850s was one. Don’t forget they fielded their first candidate for president in 1856, Lincoln was only the second. The Democratic Party’s switch to Progressivism in Wilson’s term, soon followed by Roosevelt paved the way for the welfare state.

This may well be the next, as the center of America, the people (and their sons and daughters, and grandsons and granddaughters) who fight America’s wars, build and fix America’s machines, and feed the world, once again bring their common sense, reality-based outlook to the governance of the country.

I don’t think it will end with Trump, either, there is an optimism in the air. And when the most open and largest market in the world starts flexing its muscles, the world will change, and not for the better for snowflakes and bureaucrats anywhere in the world. Have I mentioned that the Atlanta Federal Reserve is predicting an annual growth rate of 4.7% in this quarter? We’ve only just begun.

There’s an old Negro spiritual that says it well:

Get on Board, little chillun’, Get on board.



Strangling in Red Tape

True – Code of Federal Regulations governing small business

This is interesting, from Jack Doll, writing in The Federalist.

In his seminal and controversial books “The Bell Curve”and “Coming Apart,” Charles Murray makes the compelling case that differences in intelligence between groups is creating a chasm between the rich and the poor that is only widening. In the modern age, the ability to critically think, read at an advanced level, and perform complex mathematics makes the difference between working in engineering, accounting, law, or the sandwich line at Subway.

This is not to say there isn’t worth in these non-intelligence-intensive fields. My father was a firefighter and although he didn’t have to perform calculus to do his job, the people he saved were likely eternally grateful either way. And, as Uncle Eddie in the hilarious TV show “Grounded for Life” once said, “If everyone could do anything they wanted, who would make the sandwiches?”

Well, if you say so. It might be true for making sandwiches at Subway, but being a firefighter, or at least living through being a firefighter, is certainly a way of making a living that requires intelligence. Think about it, you drive up to a building engulfed in flames, you have to decide whether to enter or whether it’s going to collapse, whether the heat is too high to survive, and many other real-life decisions that must be taken right now. I do not think the author means to demean his father here, but those of us that deal with things in real-life and real-time, see things not as something interesting to write about over the next few days, but as problems that have to be solved real-quick using the knowledge that we already have. One can learn a lot from books, and I’d bet that firefighters do, but the best knowledge comes from experience. The old saying is this, “Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment, hopefully, someone else’s”.

In all seriousness, however, the “intelligence gap” is a worsening problem that partially helps explain the rise of Donald Trump. In the book “Shattered,” Amie Parnes and Jonathan Allen quote Hillary Clinton aides who rave about Hillary’s policy “wonkiness” (a word only used in Washington DC). They detail how Hillary Clinton could have discussions for hours about the nuances of law and schemes to help “the children” or “women” (classic Hillary talking points). All of that sounds wonderful. Hillary acolytes who read that book I could barely get through might come out saying “she’s so smart, why on Earth isn’t she President?” They also unwittingly answer their own question.

Hillary Clinton’s plans, in reality, are Rube Goldberg machines. Rube Goldberg was a comic strip author who drew complex machines that accomplished a simple goal. For example a “self-operating napkin” (per Wikipedia) would operate as such: [Goldberg was also an engineer, UC Berkeley, ’04. Neo]

This, on the other hand, is an excellent and true point, with the extra added benefit of requiring even more bureaucrats to administer. Win, win, only the people lose, and who cares about them, other than their tax money.

Soup spoon (A) is raised to mouth, pulling string (B) and thereby jerking ladle (C), which throws cracker (D) past parrot (E). Parrot jumps after cracker and perch (F) tilts, upsetting seeds (G) into pail (H). Extra weight in pail pulls cord (I), which opens and ignites lighter (J), setting off skyrocket (K), which causes sickle (L) to cut string (M), allowing pendulum with attached napkin to swing back and forth, thereby wiping chin”

The usual definition of a Rube Goldberg contraption is a mechanism to accomplish a simple task involving a ridiculously overcomplicated series of devices. It is a perennial fun subject in engineering. When I was at Purdue, and continuing till this day, I think, the Engineering school sponsors a contest to design and make work the most ridiculous machines. It is the opposite of elegant design, which is enough to accomplish the mission and not a bit more. See the Golden Gate Bridge for an elegant example.

Enough is important though, see Galloping Gertie. And I’d bet somewhere in that organization there was an engineer, draftsman, or construction worker who knew what was going to happen to that bridge. There always is. But too much is just as bad, wasting resources, time, and money. It may not catastrophically fail, although sometimes it will, but it will never work properly.

One of the major issues with these regulatory schemes is that high-IQ people who love details (and are extraordinarily boring at parties) are too caught up with their own Rube Goldberg machines to see the obvious. It is reminiscent of the character of Lucifer in John Milton’s Paradise Lost. Lucifer (or Satan) is highly intelligent and rational (which explains why he is God’s highest angel). However, he is banished from God’s heavenly kingdom because he attempts an insurrection, as he believes himself to be as high as God. Rationality falls in love with its own creation and falls. Regulation creates unforeseen issues, which are papered over by more regulations. Eventually what we’re left with is a 20,000-page bill which is almost predestined to fail.

He’s speaking here of the Obamacare, which not only failed quicker than Galloping Gertie but was basically impossible to build, these designed pieces could not be made to fit. In my world, there is a chasm between the engineers, who can design the most amazing things, and the people who have to build them and make them work. Over 90% of the time, if built as designed, it won’t work, and can’t be made to. But good practical people can modify it, dink around and make it work, often better than the original design called for. It takes both.

The problem with people like Hillary, Obama, and a bunch of others, especially in Washington, is that they have no real world experience, they’ve lived their entire life off the government’s teat. The government produces nothing, and neither do the people who work for it (other, perhaps, than red tape and trouble) which they far too often use to hamstring the productive people who make a good life possible. Nothing new there, really, its always been that way.

Read his article, it’s a good one.


The Week in Pictures

And that is the name of that tune!

And heeere’s Brenna!

And some friends! Call it a bonus!

From Bookworm, PowerLine and Twitchy, have a good day!

Jack and the California Beanstalk

Last month I referred to an article that Kurt Schlichter wrote in Townhall. As usual, when you’re over the target, the Colonel has been taking some flack. He clarified a few things a few days ago, especially in relation to the preposterous article that Jack Dorsey, one of the founders of Twitter endorsed. His new Townhall article is here.

Tech titan Jack Dorsey of San Francisco-based social media platform Twitter applauded an article in something called Medium in which some other hipster CEO described how liberals intend to crush Normal Americans into serfdom in a bloodless “civil war.”

Here it is.


It will just sort of happen. Why? Because. Americans will simply decide to be like California because of reasons and phew, no more troublesome conservatives and Gaia is saved!

So basically, wishing.

Well, that’s a kind of war plan. Perhaps by unleashing the power of hoping so they can utterly subjugate the half of America that voted against Felonia Milhous von Pantsuit and drive the people who actually operate and defend this country into silent obedience.

Or not.

Now, I know what you’re saying. You’re saying, “Why do a bunch of San Francisco dorks think that 150 million Americans with 300 million guns are just going to give up their rights and their say in their own governance and submit to the commands of people who eat kale by choice?” That’s a fair question, and they have an answer.

Because you just are.

I didn’t say it was a good answer.

Recently I wrote a long column here describing the ugly realities of an actual Second Civil War – realities that are much uglier for the anti-freedom liberal side in terms of terrain, combat power, and morale. […]

That’s the article I referred, of course. And yes, I have read the article in Medium as well. It’s the most fantastical bit of wishful thinking I ever read. If that’s the level of this guy’s thinking he couldn’t properly manage a broom, And Jack is no better.

They want to silence you too, and every other patriot. But that’s a short-sighted tactic because people who are silenced, particularly uppity Americans who take their natural rights seriously, won’t just shrug and give up. They will stew and fume at the injustice of their oppression and then they will radicalize and then, because they have been wrongfully denied access to the means of participation in the governance of their own society, they will inevitably exercise their power in the only way left to them. They will rebel. They have before. Sometimes it’s peaceful – like by electing Donald Trump. But if peaceful doesn’t work, they are going to give not being peaceful a try. That’s just human nature.

This is where the liars pounce again with their fussy fauxtrage – leftists love violence directed at Normal Americans – but facts are facts. If the liberal plan to drive non-liberal Americans from the public square – the NRA, Laura Ingraham, and even Kevin Williamson silencing campaigns are just some recent examples – succeeds, it will only succeed for a little while. The fact is that if Normal people are barred from “legitimate” participation, they will participate “illegitimately.” Just ask the redcoats how taxation without representation worked out.

Here’s a hint: We Americans have good teeth and don’t eat spotted dick.

Bolt down that pressure cooker lid and turn up the fire, well ever see a steam explosion? This will be worse.

[…] But there are problems with using California as a role model, starting with the fact that California sucks.

Oh, it doesn’t suck for rich guys living by the beach like Jack and his hipster buddies. California is pretty great for bros like him. But the guys who cut his lawn and wash his Tesla and feed his pet pandas, well, not so much. The article claims, “California Democrats actually cared about average citizens.” Yeah, uh huh. Drive 10 miles inland from the beach and California dreamin’ becomes California nightmarin’.

California is a bankrupt failed state that is essentially Illinois with palm trees and better weather. Outside the coastal urban enclaves where Jack and his pals mingle, drinking kombucha and apologizing for their white privilege to their baffled servants, it’s a crowded, decaying disaster. Bums wander the streets, littering the sidewalks with human waste. Crime is rising. Illegal aliens abound, more welcome in the Golden State than actual Americans. California is an example all right, but a cautionary one.

In fact, the middle class in California is escaping just as fast as they can. It won’t be long until it’s Jack and his buddies, and illegal aliens, with damned few in the middle. The key point for the rest of us is to make sure they know why California went so bad, and don’t vote for it where they wash up. It’s already a problem in Montana, Colorado, and Texas. Texas seems to have a fair handle on it, the others not so much.

They are correct when they say “[i]n this current period of American politics, at this juncture in our history, there’s no way that a bipartisan path provides the way forward.” Yep, true. They are also correct when they observe that, “America today does exhibit some of the core elements that move a society from what normally is the process of working out political differences toward the slippery slope of civil war.” Yep, also true, and it ought to scare the hell out of them.

If the liberals ever get their wish for a new civil war, my money is on the side with all the guns.

Yep, and that will be the end of the story, or maybe more likely, a new beginning.

Social Constructionism’s Epistemic Rabbit-Hole

This is the Samizdata quote of the day from yesterday, and it leads to a most interesting article by Kåre Fog in Quillette. Not a particularly easy read, but very valuable and highly recommended.

From this laborious work, and from all my other efforts in this field, I have drawn the conclusion that the evidence for social constructionism is a mirage in the desert. It does not exist. Most people in the humanities – including those who are able to express their opinions freely without fear of being fired – presuppose that gender roles are social constructs, and that the results obtained by natural scientists are determined by their social and political environment. Thousands of pages of academic ‘research’ express such notions, and thousands of university students are taught that this is how things are. But it is all hot air. The whole scenario is reminiscent of The Emperor’s New Clothes – nobody listens to the little boy who alone has the courage to point out that the Emperor is naked.

Much of this material – and Judith Butler’s obscurantism, in particular – functions like a Latin liturgy. It is not meant to be understood. About 600 years ago, the clergy in England supposedly existed to combat evil and make the world a better place. The sermons were in Latin, and the Bible was only available in Latin, so laypeople had no means of verifying what the clergy told them about religious doctrine. When a number of idealists translated the Bible into English so that common people could read and understand it, the idea – in principle, anyway – was that this would give more people direct access to God’s word. But instead of embracing this opportunity, the clergy fought all attempts at translation. And when the Bible became available in a language that people understood, the clergy burned the English translations, and those who distributed them were caught and executed. Given the choice of either supporting the wider dissemination of God’s word or preserving their own power and authority, they chose the latter.

A similar pattern of motivated self-interest is in evidence today (although opponents are no longer executed). Social constructionism has transformed the humanities departments of many universities into a kind of postmodern clerisy. In its own understanding, this clerical class strives to improve the world by insisting that all differences between groups of people are social constructs that testify to the unfairness of society. Society, therefore, can and must be reconstructed to dismantle these iniquities. But if wide-ranging social change is being demanded, then the basis for those demands needs to be firmly established first. Scholars ought to be labouring to prove the extent to which such differences are indeed social constructs and the extent to which disparities can be mitigated or dispelled by the radical reorganisation of social policy and even society itself. But this step in the process is simply absent. Instead, theorists make claims without bothering to substantiate them. Confronted with a choice between the disinterested pursuit of truth and understanding, or preserving their ideologies and positions of influence, they consistently opt for the latter.

And so, large swathes of the humanities and social sciences have been corrupted by ideology. Pockets of integrity remain but they are the minority, and they are only tolerated so long as they do not contradict the central planks of the accepted narrative. The unhappy result is that our universities are corroding, and our students will graduate with nothing more than the ability to further corrode the rest of society.

These are the concluding paragraphs of the paper and summarize very well what is documented in it. Many of us often wonder why the scientific method is falling into disrepute, and here is our documented answer. Do read it, and take it to heart, it will clarify many things.

Of Cars and Definitions of Efficiency

Yesterday, I was reading an article at PA Pundits, that highlighted that CAFE mileage standards, which were implemented during the oil crisis during the seventies, have rather severely distorted the market, not to mention killed Americans.

A good example is corporate average fuel economy (CAFÉ) standards on vehicles. Originally enacted in 1975 to offset the impacts of the OPEC oil embargo and US oil price controls, and slow the rapid depletion of oil reserves, the mileage standards grew increasingly stringent. During the Obama years, the earlier justifications were replaced with claims that a vastly tougher 54.5 mpg standard would somehow help prevent “dangerous manmade climate change.”

However, EPA’s own analysis showed that the new mileage standard would have brought emission reductions of a barely perceptible 3 billion tons of CO2 over the lifetime of vehicles covered by the new standards – out of an estimated two trillion tons of CO2 emitted worldwide during the same period.

That meaningless 0.15% savings was fraudulent enough. But as Competitive Enterprise Institute general counsel Sam Kazman, other analysts and I have often pointed out, the real impact of these rules has always been on people. CAFÉ standards kill, maim and paralyze drivers and passengers – because they force auto makers to downsize and plasticize cars and light trucks, making them less crashworthy.

Insurance industry and other studies found that the earlier 27.5 mpg standard resulted in 2,200 to 3,900 additional fatalities every year, and hundreds of thousands of additional serious injuries, in collisions with cars, trucks, buses, trees and other objects. Minority and other poor families suffer disproportionate injuries and deaths, because they can least afford the higher priced cars and light trucks with advanced safety features. One can only imagine the extra tolls that would be associated with the 54.5 mpg rule.

I’d say it exacerbated the trend, but he certainly is right, but competition was making American cars lighter already, not to mention shorter lived. An example, someplace around 1968 or so my dad acquired a 1961 Dodge Pioneer, it was supposed to be my high school car when we got it fixed up. We started on the bodywork, the previous owner had apparently been in few accidents with it. Then we made a discovery, the engine was pretty much wrecked, (he also ran it out of oil) it could be fixed, but it was going to take considerable money. It didn’t help that this was the old polysphere 318, good engine but even then uncommon. Eventually, we abandoned the project and pulled it out behind the shed. I wasn’t too sad, the 61 Dodge may have been the ugliest car ever made in America. On the other hand, this one had been my dad’s company car when it was new. I rode in it one winter from Indiana to Dallas, to Tuscon, to the Grand Canyon, and home in two weeks and three days of that was a convention dad had to go to. It was also the last unairconditioned car he had. 🙂

So it sat out there, bare metal and all. Eventually, in the mid-seventies, I ended up with a 1970 Polara, a stupidly practical car for a young man, I didn’t love it exactly, but it sure worked well. Late in the decade, I bought something else, mostly because I was tired of the Polara, and the gas tank was rusting on the inside to the point that it stalled the car, for the second time. It only had about 375,000 miles on it, so it was kind of a shame. It was also starting to rust rather badly. It ended up out back next to the 61, and dad and I both commented that the 61 had less rust than the 70, after standing with bare metal for a decade. They didn’t make them that way anymore.

The thing about both of them was that if you took care of them (and didn’t live in country where they salted the roads) there was little reason you couldn’t drive them a half million miles, or more if you maintained them. Try that with a new car. To start with, the systems are too complex for most technicians to understand, they’ve been turned into part changers directed by a computer. Cars have become disposable, good for just a hair over what the warranty says, boring too, I think.

And that is pretty much the case with a lot of things. They are considerably more efficient, use less energy, steel, whatever. Sadly the tradeoff is that you’ll end up buying a new just a few years down the road, probably before you’ve paid it off. To me, that’s a false efficiency, buy it once and maintain it is my definition of efficiency. I could use a new car, by the way. What am I looking at? A 1960 Dodge, of course. Real American steel and should last the rest of my life. What could be better? Mileage should be about 15-20 mpg, I think, and there are things I can do to make it better if necessary. Looks something like this:

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