OF MG, and Lotus, and Jaguar, and Chevy and Dodge

1953_mg_td-pic-7992610729001336577I don’t know how many of you became fans of Top Gear, the UK version, I never really got into the US version. The UK version could perhaps be best described as ‘quirky’. In truth, it was a good bit like a bunch of drunken teenagers playing with their dad’s quarter of a million dollar cars on TV.

Yes, there was some real information conveyed but mostly it was about how fast you can wear out a set of tires. That’s fine, I remember those days fondly, myself, and in many ways that’s what it was about.

The lead presenter, Jeremy Clarkson, whom I gather had much to do with reinventing the show as a ‘bloke show’ as I described above, actually is a fairly intelligent guys, and a British patriot as well. He has a show out about what happened to the British car industry and it’s pretty good.

Like most guys my age, I grew up loving cars, especially those ones with names like Charger, GTO, Cutlass, Camaro, or pretty much anything with a bowtie combined with the letters SS. It was a good world, cars were reasonably priced, and gasoline was about a quarter a gallon. Then the EPA and Arabs showed up and the party ended, and much else besides. When the exhaust recommendation made almost all cars pretty much into boxes as exciting as mom’s washing machine, most of us went to trucks, and that is about the only reason that the US makers survived. Nobody else in the world seems to be able to make a proper pick-up, only Toyota even came close.

But Britain was different. My first encounter with a British car was an MG TC (or maybe TD) when I was in college. It was slow, rough riding, ridiculously small, colder than a witch’s body part encased in brass, completely unreliable, and leaked like a sieve. You know, something else, I loved that fool thing, if dad would have let me, I’d have bought one myself. The thing is, the one I drove, it belonged to a friend, was about a 1960 model, of a pre-war car, and very few changes had been made. It got its start here when some of them came home with our soldiers, next best thing to a British bride, I think. :)

Then somebody showed up with a Lotus, it was all of the above, except slow. My biggest trouble with it was, in fact, that at 20 years old or so, I could just about, almost, get into the fool thing. The one that was around was bright yellow. We called it ‘arrest me yellow’, in fact, and the car was nicknamed the Screaming Yellow Zonker, and it was very apt.

Then like us all, I went to work and mostly drove Chevys and Dodges, and maybe an occasional Buick. They weren’t bad, really, for appliances, but nobody ever called a LeSabre a screaming yellow zonker.

Our nanny state pretty much made it too expensive for almost any interesting car to be sold here, and if it was, it was so compromised by regulation, that it wasn’t worth it anyway, that’s why we got aberrations like Mustang IIs, there wasn’t anything even close to reasonable.

Apparently Britain was a bit smarter, which wouldn’t have been hard, because all those interesting cars kept getting built and sold. Not all were British; Renault, Fiat, Ferrari and such kept on, you just hardly ever saw them in the US. We got what GM wanted, and we the customers were increasingly irrelevant.

In any case, the Brits had/have trouble with the auto industry as well, and Clarkson does, I think a fair job at describing what its problems were that pretty much killed it. It’s still unfolding here, but our auto industry (and many others as well) are following the same path, so this is kind of a prophecy of what the future will bring here as well, if we don’t change our ways.

Enjoy the video, in any case.

Ukip MP Douglas Carswell Threatened by Protesters in London

I don’t know, but I doubt you happened to catch this story from The Guardian yesterday. It tends to remind us that not all opposition is as civil as it should be, and Britain does have its share of nutters.

The Ukip MP, Douglas Carswell, has been escorted away in a police van after he was surrounded by anti-austerity protesters in central London.

Carswell later tweeted that he had been waiting for a bus when he was attacked by a crowd, describing it as “very very nasty”.

The MP said he had been engaged in peaceful discussions with a small group before being confronted by far larger numbers shouting insults such as “Ukip scum”.

It got extremely, extremely nasty. Their intentions were pretty murderous and I needed a lot of police officers to prevent them from attacking me,” he said, after being taken by officers to another stop to get his bus.

I was stunned. I think MPs should be able to go about their business. It was incredibly intimidating. It was like a lynch mob on the streets of London. I thought this was a country where we had democracy and discussed the issues. 

It just got incredibly ugly. It was an attempted lynching. I am in a state of shock. I do not want to have to worry about going about my business.”

Ukip MP Douglas Carswell surrounded by anti-austerity protesters in London |

Politics | The Guardian.

First, and perhaps least important, how refreshing is it to think of an MP taking a bus? Seen any Congresscritters (or even their junior staffers) doing that lately? Yeah, me either/ Maybe they’d be a bit more in touch with us ordinary mortals if the got out of their limos, and took the bus (or the subway).

But the second and the main point is that in a democratic system there simply isn’t any room for intimidation, and the threat of violence. The left, which the anti-austerity demonstrators represent, lost the election in the UK, to honorable convictions and I think good sense. It’s up to them to come back with a better campaign.

Frankly it’s not all that many years ago that this type of outburst could read to the reading of the Riot Act and use of armed troops to disperse the demonstration. One hesitates to say it was a valid reaction then, so often it got out of hand but one can easily understand how it happened.

In a strange way, we’re seeing the reverse side of the coin in Baltimore, where the police have found so little support from their leadership (and the prosecutor) that they have become afraid to enforce the law, and so society has in great measure, simply collapsed.

Our civilization walks, and always has, a fine line between tyranny of the right and of the left, and if we succumb to either it can be very difficult to return, especially without the good will of all sides, and that seems in increasingly short supply.

 

Around the Web This Week

6a76f4a3-4ad2-4ae2-8a3b-c092e85586afSort of a compendium of odds and ends today, without a lot of commentary from me.

My dearest friend, partner and editor here, Jessica, is celebrating the third anniversary of her blog today, although she is only present in spirit, because of her health problems. My post about it is here.

The Federalist had a bit more on the Amtrak wreck, I think he makes some valid points, especially regarding the unseemliness of many reactions.

The deadly Amtrak derailment this week spawned a frenzy of sleazy opportunism on social media as lefties rushed to declare—before any evidence of the cause of the accident was available—that it clearly showed the need for more federal billions to subsidize Amtrak.

As the official investigation has released actual information, it seems likely that the real cause was excessive speed: the train was traveling at more than 100 miles per hour as it entered a tight curve where the safe limit was 50 miles per hour. How is more government spending supposed to prevent this kind of operator error?

Oh, and contrary to the media’s “Amtrak fan fiction,” as Sean Davis calls it, Congress just authorized $1.4 billion in new subsidies to Amtrak less than five months ago. So there goes that narrative.

There is obviously something unseemly about this—far more unseemly than a violinist distraught over not being able to retrieve the source of her livelihood. This is a tragedy in which people were killed and injured, yet many a media hack’s first thought was about how to score political points against Republicans.

More at The Federalist

National Review has something to say about Paul Krugman’s Pretense of Economic Knowledge

It is wrong to call economics “the dismal science.” Dismal, yes; science, no.

Econometrics and mathematical modeling are enormously valuable, but they also contribute to the pretense of knowledge, which is a lethal intellectual epidemic to which the scientist manqués of the economics world are especially vulnerable. There are competing factions and schools of thought within the proper sciences, of course, but the outsize role played by economic schools — from New Keynesians to Austrians — is evidence of the corrupting influence of politics, which distorts economic analysis in both its weak form (simple political affiliation) and its strong form (servile political advocacy). And as with the scientific case of freelancing gadflies such as Neil deGrasse Tyson, economists damage their individual and corporate credibility the farther they stray from their fields of genuine expertise. It is no surprise that, e.g., purported science guy Bill Nye until recently held foolish and ignorant views on genetically modified crops, views of which he has, to his credit,repented. Nye, who holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering, is more a science enthusiast than a scientist, much less a scientist with any particular expertise in agricultural genetics. There is no reason to suppose that he has particularly well-informed views on any given question, and the temptations of cultural affiliation — the people who are terrified of GMOs are many of the same people who care deeply about climate change and the contents of Texas high-school biology curricula — often lead us astray.

More at National Review

As all know, I’m no particular fan of Jeb Bush, not least because I think there must be a Democrat not named Clinton, and a Republican not named Bush qualified to run for President. I’m not much of a fan of dynasties (at least in America, I rather like Queen Elizabeth, although Prince Charles, not so much, which highlights the problem). In any case, Jeb said some very cogent things about Christianity last weekend at Liberty University.

[…] Giving a fiery speech last month at Tina Brown’s “Women in the World Summit,” Clinton plainly said: “Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed” so that women can have unfettered access to “reproductive health care and safe childbirth.”

One would like to imagine that Clinton was speaking only about primitive cultures where children are forced into marriage and childbearing, or where genital cutting is common. But we know that she also meant religious conservatives closer to home whose beliefs get in the way. She explicitly criticized Hobby Lobby for not paying for its employees’ contraception.

By contrast, Jeb Bush, who will become the GOP nominee if Republicans are smart, assumed a much different tone and direction in his recent commencement address at Liberty University.

“How strange, in our own time, to hear Christianity spoken of as some sort of backward and oppressive force,” he said. “It’s a depressing fact that when some people think of Christianity and of Judeo-Christian values, they think of something static, narrow and outdated. . . . I cannot think of any more subversive moral idea ever loosed on the world than ‘the last shall be first, and the first last.’ ”

He also spoke of what our world would have been like without the “unalloyed compassion, such genuine love, such thorough altruism,” as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. described Christianity.

It would be defined, Bush said, by “power without restraint, conflict without reconciliation, oppression without deliverance, corruption without reformation, tragedy without renewal.”

He’s right, of course. More at The Washington Post.

And three links on the British general election, which may well have lessons for us, as well

Dan Hannan: Left’s hatred devoured its own election campaign

Charles Utley: Time to Reflect on the Past and the Future

UEA’s Eastminster: UEA’s experts react to the General Election 2015 result

Enjoy!

UK to build the world’s first tidal lagoon power plants

This actually could be a good idea. Of course, like all potentially good ideas, it’s not new. I can remember reading about it back in the seventies, which doesn’t mean that it hasn’t become viable since.

It’s easy to forget that it’s possible to generate electricity not by burning coal or splitting atoms, but using the power of the sea. One company has thought long and hard about the process and is set to change the way Britain generates its renewable energy. Under new plans, Tidal Lagoon Power hopes to build the world’s first lagoon power plants, creating six giant structures — four of which will be built in Wales, with two in England — that will harness powerful coastal tides and generate as much as 8 percent of the UK’s total power.

The company has already put its best foot forward, starting work on a £1 billion plant in Swansea that already has the backing of energy secretary Ed Davey. Even though it’ll be one of the smallest installations, the lagoon will measure five miles across and stretch two miles out to sea, serving not only as significant power source but also as destination for locals. It’ll work by isolating a large space of water, which drives a series of turbines set into the wall as the tidal levels rise and fall throughout the day.

The UK government is keen to back renewable energy projects, so the £30 billion investment needed to build the ambitious lagoons will be met by taxpayers. Wales will host three lagoons in Cardiff, Newport and Colwyn Bay (as well as the one in Swansea) and there’ll be one in Bridgwater Bay, Somerset and another in West Cumbria.

The good thing about tidal power is that barring a lunar catastrophe, sea movements are completely predictable. Wind turbines can stall if it’s a particularly calm day, while solar panels only achieve maximum output when it’s clear and sunny. Marine experts have their reservations, including fears that fish could be sucked into turbines, but Tidal Lagoon Power believes the lagoons will ultimately benefit local ecosystems by serving as artificial reefs.

More at UK to build the world’s first tidal lagoon power plants, including video.

You know, I could support this type of renewable energy, it has its attractions, if they were willing to bet their own money on it. But they aren’t. They want to do it the corrupt way, betting the taxpayers money, so they’ll get rich, no matter what. The proper model is to build it with your own money, and get rich or lose your shirt.

That’s the way Britain (and the US) did it in the nineteenth century, and history is littered with failures but also incredible successes, sometime both for the same people.

And so, for me, it’s not a viable plan, because they don’t believe in it enough to bet their own money and so why should I?

It’s simply another corrupt corporatist scheme to bilk the taxpayers, this time the British ones, and enrich ‘special interests’.

Hat tip to “The Unit” for the link. :)

Is The Clinton Foundation Just A Foreign Laundering Scheme?

150220_POL_Hillary.jpg.CROP.promovar-mediumlargeI’ve always thought it sad that we have commented more or less forever that we have the best Congress money can buy. particularly since it so often seems true. We deserve better but we are lazy and don’t demand it, so we don’t get it.

Still this nonsense just leaves me shaking my head in bewilderment that anybody thinks that an aging woman with no accomplishments should be president, after she sold out the US State Department to the highest bidder.

BloombergPolitics reported this morning that the Clinton Foundation refused to disclose the identities of at least 1,100 donors, most of whom are not U.S. citizens, to a Clinton Foundation affiliate. The donations were routed through the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership (Canada), or CGEPartnership, a Canadian charitable organization. That organization then effectively bundled the foreign donations and sent them along to the Clinton Foundation itself, and it did all of this without ever disclosing the individual foreign sources of the income.

If that sounds to you like more of a laundering operation than a charitable organization, that’s because it certainly looks like more of a laundering operation than a charitable organization. In this case, however, rather than taking cash from blatantly illegal activities (as far as we know) and then cleaning it up by running it through legitimate businesses before it ends up at its final destination, the Clinton Foundation mops up cash from wealthy foreigners, bundles it within a larger organization to hide the money’s original source, and then funnels the cash from that legitimate charity right into the Clinton Foundation coffers.

After the New York Times uncovered the connections between uranium mining magnate Frank Giustra, his Canadian charitable organization, the Clinton Foundation, and official actions taken by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that benefitted Giustra’s global uranium mining operations, the Clinton Foundation immediately entered spin mode.

Is The Clinton Foundation Just A Foreign Laundering Scheme?.

Hillary Clinton; likely the best candidate for US president that Foreign money can buy!

Is that what we really should have?

The Left’s Burning Cities

Breitbart.com

Breitbart.com

I suppose it’s time to say something about Baltimore, not that I have anything overly pertinent to add. I have noticed though (as has David French, in the linked article) that what is going on is really nothing more than two of the Democratic Party’s prized identity political groups: public employee unions, and welfare recipients, having a disagreement.

In Baltimore, as the National Guard steps in, curfews are imposed, and business owners pick up the pieces from their burned-out, looted stores, let’s not forget why one more American city has been torn apart by racial violence. Blue America has failed at social justice. It has failed at equality. It has failed at accountability. Its competing constituencies are engaged in street battles, and any exploration of “root causes” must necessarily include decades of failed policies — all imposed by steadfastly Democratic mayors and city leaders.

Are the riots caused by the Baltimore Police Department’s “documented history” of abuse? Which party has run Baltimore and allowed its police officers to allegedly run amok? Going deeper, which American political movement lionizes public-employee unions, fiercely protecting them from even the most basic reform? Public-employee unions render employee discipline difficult and often impossible. Jobs are functionally guaranteed for life, and rogue officers can count on the best representation money can buy — courtesy of Blue America.

Continue reading The Left’s Burning Cities | National Review Online.

As always seems to be the case, people despair when they don’t have the self-respect that a job, almost any job, engenders. We innately know, deep within in us, the difference between earning something and simply being given it. And frankly, it’s hard to imagine a much more hostile place, in America, than the city of Baltimore to start a business that would provide jobs. Michael Tanner noticed this as well:

The unemployment rate in Baltimore in February was 8.4 percent, compared with just 5.5 percent nationally. In the Sandtown–Winchester/Harlem Park area, which is near the center of the unrest, more than half of the people did not have jobs, according to a February 2015 report from the Justice Policy Institute and the Prison Policy Initiative.

One reason for this is the city’s — and the state’s — unremitting hostility to business. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce reports that only seven states and the District of Columbia have a worse business climate than Maryland. The state’s tax burden is huge and growing. According to the Tax Foundation’s State Business Tax Climate Index, Maryland ranks a dismal 40th in terms of business taxes, and an even worse 45th in terms of personal-income taxes. According to this report, Maryland is one of just a few states where the personal-income tax creates “an unnecessary drag on economic activity.” The state’s small businesses face the nation’s seventh-highest marginal tax rates.

As if that were not bad enough, the city of Baltimore adds one of the highest property taxes among comparable cities. Despite a recent modest reduction in property-tax rates, Baltimore still has a tax rate more than twice the rate of most of the rest of the state. A recent study by the Minnesota Center for Fiscal Excellence and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy ranked Baltimore twelfth out of 53 major cities in terms of high property taxes. When the city taxes are combined with state taxes, Baltimore ends up with the ninth worst tax burden out of 50 major American cities.

Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/417619/poverty-despair-and-big-government-michael-tanner

Not where I would start a business, would you? And so, the cycle will continue, until it doesn’t of course, because at some point the politicians will run out of other people’s money.

And at that point, real poverty will ensue. When people find out that they have nowhere to spend their welfare benefits, not even MacDonald’s, what will happen? I don’t know, and doubt anyone else does either,.

I suspect, if we are lucky, Detroit does

 

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