Things That Grabbed My Attention Yesterday

We’re going to pull back from the daily nonsense today, the Brits are voting and there’s not much new in the Washington nonsense. Let’s take a look at some background on various things. Some days there is just so much good material out there that I can’t decide. It’s a pleasant problem.

Ben Domenech at The Federalist disagrees with Time Magazine’s choice of Greta Thunberg as person of the year, as do I. He says in relation to her…

[…] a teenager who skipped school to travel around the world telling people that they are horrible and the planet is doomed. It’s a living. Perhaps her Malthusian visions will be fulfilled by future experience. But it’s not very likely.

Heh! I wish I’d written that! His choice I also agree with…

In defiance of the most powerful authoritarian regime in the modern world, the protester in Hong Kong has stood against the authority of Red China with courage and dedication. […]

There is no bigger fight. And so, the Hong Kong protester is the Person of the Year.

He’s right. That is the person/people that free people should be honoring.


There’s a remarkable (and remarkably long) essay by George Callaghan at The Duran on the problems (and possible solutions) in British education. Some are specific to Britain and/or England, but many apply to America, as well. My curation software says 45 minutes, it’s well worth it.

I don’t see anything short enough to give you a taste, so if it is an interest of yours, go read it. I agree with all of it that I think applies to the US, I simply don’t know enough about British education to have a valid opinion.


Unintended Consequences has made Britain a frustrating laughingstock for the last three years. Why? Abram N. Shulsky at Law and Liberty has figured out some of the reasons why the British government has gotten so pear-shaped. It’s a danger we face as well, as so many (especially on the left) want to tinker with our constitution.

The recent chaos resulted from two innovations that weren’t entirely consistent with the underlying principles of the British regime: the Fixed-term Parliament Act of 2011 (FTPA) and the Brexit referendum of 2015.  Both were introduced to solve short-term political problems.

It’s an excellent explanation of how the (primarily) Conservative Party has failed to conserve the things that made the Westminster System work.


Walter E. Williams at The Daily Signal tells us that Richard Ebeling, professor of economics at The Citadel, has an essay in the American Institute for Economic Research that clarifies how Capitalism is a morally superior system.

In a key section of his article, Ebeling lays out what he calls the ethical principles of free markets. He says:

The hallmark of a truly free market is that all associations and relationships are based on voluntary agreement and mutual consent. Another way of saying this is that in the free market society, people are morally and legally viewed as sovereign individuals possessing rights to their life, liberty, and honestly acquired property, who may not be coerced into any transaction that they do not consider being to their personal betterment and advantage.

Ebeling says that the rules of a free market are simple and easy to understand:

You don’t kill, you don’t steal, and you don’t cheat through fraud or misrepresentation. You can only improve your own position by improving the circumstances of others. Your talents, abilities, and efforts must all be focused on one thing: What will others take in trade from you for the revenues you want to earn as the source of your own income and profits?

They are both spot on.


Dylan Pahman at Law and Liberty has an essay on why economic nationalism fails.

However, at present economic liberty has fallen out of favor with some who see a sea change in recent events—from the election of President Trump in the United States to Great Britain’s “Brexit” referendum—moving away from a perceived elitist, globalist liberalism and back toward the old order of nation states, not only politically but also economically.

He does an excellent job of laying out the underpinning, and I mostly agree with him, completely in theory in fact. This is the Libertarian/Conservative rationale for free trade, and mostly it is true.

But


Curtis Ellis at American Greatness lays out why Globalism and Progressivism make such a toxic stew.

The reformers of the Progressive era championed safety standards for food, drugs, and labor.

The Pure Food and Drugs Act of 1906 gave birth to the Food and Drug Administration. The chief chemist at the Department of Agriculture had mobilized a coalition of women’s clubs, physicians, and pharmacists to lobby for uniform national standards for patent medicines.

It worked, mostly, although it was and is very expensive. Now add Globalism

Communist China is the world’s largest producer and exporter of “active pharmaceutical ingredients,” the base components drug companies use to manufacture most of the medications found on store shelves across America. Today, 80 percent of prescription drugs consumed in the United States originate in India and China.

Drug companies are not required to disclose the country of origin of the active ingredients in their products. That means consumers are unknowingly exposed to the risks associated with drugs made in China.

What are those risks? Well, in 2008, 100 Americans died after taking the anticoagulant heparin that was made in China. Some of the heparin was fraudulently replaced with chondroitin, a dietary supplement for joint aches.

Now what? The free traders say the Chicoms are the low-cost producer and it makes economic sense for our drug hoses to buy their product. The families of a hundred dead Americans are likely to disagree. And if we are going to use uninspected raw material, what exactly is the point of the FDA?

That’s the kind of real-world problem that always screws up those lovely theoretical solutions. The answer? We don’t really have one yet.

That should be enough to keep you out of trouble for a while! 🙂

Of Elections and Counter Revolutions

Tomorrow Britain votes in a general election, the prime contenders are Boris Johnson of the (not) Conservative Party and Jeremy Corbyn of the CPSU Labour Party. What’s going to happen is anybody’s guess. There are several smaller parties including The Brexit Party that ran the table in the European elections, but has recently waned, although they might pick up a seat or so, there is the UnLiberal Not Democrats who will take remainer votes (maybe) from Labour. UKIP has a few candidates and an outstanding Manifesto, which means little since they’ll be very lucky to get one seat, and more, including The Monster Raving Loony Party which is a good description of this election.

The best write up I’ve seen is this, from Law and Liberty The best ad I’ve seen is this new one from the Conservatives.

Pretty cute, and just a bit Trumpian. That’s important, Britain is fighting the same revolution we are, against their own deep state and the politicians embedded in it. So we’ll see. Not least if Boris can break free from his own swamp background.


Then there is Washington, where the House has gone not so much extra-constitutional as downright anti-constitutional. Well, we know how that plays in Peoria, don’t we? Christopher Knight in American Thinker is good on this.

When I consider Adam Schiff, Nancy Pelosi, and Jerry Nadler maneuvering for impeachment of President Donald Trump, it is with some dark bewilderment. They have no idea what disaster they are courting for themselves and their allies. It will not end well for them. […]

Since the summer of 2015 the hardliners of the Deep State have gazed at Trump with derision, then desperation, and now total destruction in mind. To them the American people simply aren’t meant for a loosening of control and regaining oversight of their own government. Trump’s message resonated with those same American people as had nothing in recent memory. Democracy came to Eastern Europe by ballots and not bullets. So too did American citizenry in flyover country begin to revolt against their elitist masters.

It wasn’t part of “the plan” and perhaps for the first time ever, the Deep State shuddered in fear. The revolution was not only televised, it was splayed across Facebook and Twitter. But if not Trump himself, someone else would have inevitably threatened the entrenched political and media complex. The peril would come. It was only a matter of when. […]

Who among the faces of this “glorious revolution” will win the White House in 2020? It may be the most lackluster field of candidates in modern history. Which alone indicates to me that Trump would be too smart than to level unethical sabotage against any political opponent: Joseph Biden will never be as formidable as even George McGovern. And Adam Schiff as the one who will go down in legend as the man who toppled the President? Oh please….

In short, it’s pretty much all over, but the executions err trials. What could rekindle the whole mess? You know as well as I, and I think Barr and Durham know it as well. If that happens, the half a billion privately owned arms held by the foresight of the founder’s might make an appearance. Not to be wished, it is a doomsday alternative, but it is more likely than at any time since 1865.

IG’s, Impeachment, and Defending the Realm

And so, today, we’re supposed to see the long-anticipated Inspector General report. That’s all to the good, even if, in a properly run country, it should have been a year ago. But a properly run country has little to do with Washington for reasons we have often discussed.

So don’t get your hopes up, the IG has very limited scope and even more limited powers, if they weren’t, I suspect he would not exist. But it is a continuation. Mueller’s report should have been a cold shower, this should be another. The real justice starts (maybe) with Barr. Maybe it starts on November 3, 2020, or maybe it never starts. Who knows?

Clarice Feldman has a good summary at American Thinker which you should read.

The week ended with the President trumping a low pair — congressmen Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler — when White House Counsel Pat Cipollone responded to Congressman Nadler’s demand that the Judiciary Committee be informed if the White House intended to participate in the second act of the impeachment clown show. The letter in sum says, “go right to impeachment so we can have a real trial in the Senate”:

Which over at Ace’s, where they speak American, no doubt elicited the comment “LOLGF”, as it should. It also means, “See you in November, sucker, after the American people fire you.” And that will happen to some, maybe quite a few of these swamp sucking scum. Clarice continues:

Mollie Hemingway who, like me, doesn’t believe the President will be impeached, notes the likely witness list in a Senate hearing, which, unlike the House hearings, operates like a real trial with due process protections.

Among those she thinks would certainly be subpoenaed: Adam Schiff, Eric Ciaramella and his lawyer Mark Zaid, Schiff staffers, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, and Democratic members of Schiff’s Permanent Select Committee on Investigations.

She indicates the trial will have access to extensive declassified materials (declassified by the President) including transcripts of those that Schiff’s committee questioned in closed-door hearings which he has refused to release (probably because they support the President).

A re-examination, this time by hostile questioners, of the parade before Schiff’s committee and a subpoenaing of many of the upper levels of the Obama administration.

Did Nadler’s hearing this week, add a single thing to the Schiff hearings? No, says Hemingway, who very accurately described them:

Of his three witnesses, one was an Elizabeth Warren donor who previously said she couldn’t stand to walk on the same sidewalk as the Trump hotel. Another witness previously said Democrats didn’t even need evidence of crimes committed by the president in order to impeach him. And their third and final witness previously helped run Dianne Feinstein’s anti-Brett Kavanaugh smear operation in 2018.

To those skeptical that any of the wrongdoers at high level will be jailed, she reminds us of other consequences they’d face: lost clearances, extensive legal fees, and vastly diminished reputations.

The end result: an acquittal and ”a massive election victory for Trump.”

First and maybe most important, follow Clarice’s link to Mollie Hemingway, she is amongst, if not the, best journalist in Washington.

Each day this farcical pretense continues the President’s popularity and war chest grows.

It doesn’t take a lot of deep political thought to see where this is headed. Even if the Democrats in the House vote to impeach — and it still isn’t a given that they’ll have the votes — the Senate will never convict.

The president, however, may end up with a campaign war chest the likes of which no incumbent has ever seen.
Impeach him, and he shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.

In short, the House Democratic Caucus has voluntarily become The Committee to Reelect the President.

A palate cleanser, a real patriot on what is important in government. Ann Widdecombe, of the Brexit Party, on Defense of the Realm. Enjoy.

Destroying the Heartland

Did you see Tucker Carlson the other night, talking about Paul Singer? If not, here it is and for that matter, if you did, watch it again.

He’s spot on, judging by what I know. John Daniel Davidson in The Federalist adds detail to what Tucker says.

The point of highlighting the fate of this one town and the role of Singer in its demise isn’t to vilify capitalism or the free market in general, but to point out how the system is engineered to benefit the rich and powerful at the expense of everyone else. As Willis Krumholtz explains nearby in greater detail, the story of Cabela’s and the people of Sidney is an example of “financial engineering that paid a select few off, while the whole suffered.”

This critique goes to the heart of what the political right has been grappling with in the age of Trump. What is the proper role of the government ad public policy in American society? Whose interests should it serve?

Much of what’s behind Trump-era populism, not just in America but across the West, is the dawning realization that the post-Cold War global capitalist system doesn’t necessarily benefit working- and middle-class Americans—or at least that free trade and global capitalism aren’t unmitigated goods. They have costs, and those costs are borne disproportionately by ordinary people, the kind of people who get laid off from Cabela’s for no good reason other than it made Singer a pile of money.

This isn’t just an economic question. The role of government is also at the center of the ongoing Sohrab Amari-David French debate on the right about whether the public sphere can really ever be neutral and what, if anything, conservatives should do to advance what they see as the good. Libertarian-minded conservatives like French look at drag queen story hour and conclude, hey, this is just the price of liberty. We can no more use government power to prohibit drag queens in public libraries than we can use it to prohibit any other kind of free speech

Ahmari and others have challenged this way of thinking, positing that liberty has an object, which is the good, and that government’s role is not just to protect liberty but also to promote and defend the good. Things like stable and intact families, prosperous communities, and vibrant churches and schools aren’t merely what we hope might spring forth from unfettered liberty secured by a neutral and indifferent government; they’re the entire purpose of securing liberty in the first place.

The phrase A more perfect Union comes to mind. Our founders didn’t design a country to make certain individuals rich. They, and we mostly have no objection to that, it is the proper outcome of doing your job well. That doesn’t mean that doing your job well means to destroy the neighborhood or even the region.

Also in The Federalist and also linked above, Willis L. Krumholz gives a very good explanation of how this works.

Delphi, too, is a complicated story. The automotive parts company was coming out of bankruptcy before Singer bought it. That doesn’t excuse the mass-outsourcing of jobs, or policies that allowed this to happen even after a taxpayer bailout, but Singer doesn’t face the sole responsibility for what happened to those jobs.

Yet there’s a dark side to Singer’s brand of capitalism. For example, the case was surely made that Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops had “synergies.” They sell the same stuff, and the stores even look similar. But the two companies were separately profitable. Now, the combined company has a ton of debt, and little room to grow profit aside from cutting costs and using their newly acquired market power to increase prices.

Not only that, if everything is about shareholder returns, it should be noted that most mergers destroy shareholder wealth, not build it.

Hedge funds are different than private equity funds, and there are various types of private equity and hedge fund strategies. Many are totally benign, and often, private equity actually helps firms start up or recover from bankruptcy.

But there is a strain of private equity, known as leveraged buyouts (LBOs), that has been more destructive. In an LBO, a private equity (PE) firm buys a company. But that company is too big and expensive to be bought with the PE money alone, so paying out the existing shareholders requires saddling the company with oodles of debt. Often, 90 percent of the acquisition price is funded via debt.

But the PE firm doesn’t owe that debt, the company does, and some of the debt can even be used to pay the PE firm, and its partners, a dividend. The PE firm then exits the investment by re-taking the company “public” at what the PE firm hopes is a higher share price. At this point the PE firm has made money, and has no ties to the company it used to own, but that company still has the debt load.

OK read the articles and draw your own conclusions, I’m no expert, Thank God since I like to sleep at night, but I’ve watched over the last decade as Cabela’s has gone from being one of my favorite stores to a place I’d just as soon avoid. And closer to me, I’ve watched as Monroe Shock Absorbers has closed a plant that kept a town going, and as whatever Baldwin Filters is now, did the same to another town 10 miles away.

It’s real, it’s happening, and it’s eating the heart out of the middle of the country. Here, for my money, is one of the causes of many of the problems, including the opioids epidemic have their roots.

But Wait, There’s More!

I’m even less of an expert on who owns the GOP, although I’ve my suspicions. But I suspect Ace has a pretty good clue, and he’s one of very few who has the guts to call it as he sees it.

People like Paul Singer control the GOP and are effectively in a conspiracy against actual GOP voters. When Singer’s kid announced he was gay, Paul Singer basically mandated that the GOP become pro-gay marriage, and the GOP complied.

Another billionaire funder, Stanley Hubbard, told, in 2016, his own pet candidate Scott Walker that he must not question the Corporate Class Consensus on birthright citizenship and high levels of tolerated, supposedly illegal immigration.

Hubbard issued his rebuke, and Walker changed his tune to sing the Corporate Class anthem within a day.

Tuesday: Stanley Hubbard, a conservative billionaire who oversees a Minnesota broadcasting company and has donated to Walker’s campaign, confronts Walker on the issue during a lunch in Minnesota. Hubbard strongly opposes ending birthright citizenship, and he tells The Washington Post that he “might really quickly change my allegiance” if Walker pushs for such a repeal. Hubbard says he “did not get a real straight answer” from the candidate, but he comes away ready to write more checks to help Walker, adding, “I got the feeling that he is not at all anxious to talk about taking away those rights.”

A lot of “conservative journalists” are actually bought-and-paid-for propagandists for monied interests. You know how AEI “chairs” work? Specific billionaires fund specific “chairs” and give them to specific propagandists posing as “journalists.”

And

Meanwhile, Paul Singer calls the shots in the GOP. If you ever wonder why the GOP supports so many unpopular positions with incredible zeal and passion (such as vulture capitalism), and why the GOP runs away from some popular issues like border enforcement, and why the GOP takes the Democrat side on issues which are 50/50 (gay stuff, abortion), it’s because very rich liberals like Paul Singer, who have no interest in the GOP or conservatism except to pervert it into a tool to help put more money into their pockets,, have willed it so, and all of our chickenshit “representatives” can’t quit that sweet, sweet plutocrat money.

Pretty much, whenever the GOP is acting in what appears to be an inexplicably stupid or traitorous way, the reason is that, of course, they’re being paid to act that way, and they of course can’t admit that publicly.

It’s time to take this trash out.

Past time, actually. It’s been stinking for decades. But better late than never.

As for Ben Sasse, it was pretty obvious even before he was elected that he was a tool, long since bought and paid for. It’s people like him that cause us to hold our noses and vote for the least evil. It’s also why I almost never vote for an incumbent. And yes, I will be voting against him next year in the primary. In the general, we’ll have to see.

I see Sen Sasse has responded to Tucker Carlson, it is here. You make your own call, I have.

Cheap Stuff Makes You (and America) Cheap

This needs to be said, nay it needs to be shouted from the housetops. From Curtis Ellis, writing in American Greatness.

It’s well past time to ask whether procuring cheap imported consumer goods should be the goal of our foreign trade policy and if it’s the best way to raise Americans’ standard of living.

These questions have been the subject of debate throughout our nation’s history. America’s Founders answered with a resounding “No.”

The tea sold by the British East India Company underpriced the leaf colonial merchants were offering. King George’s prime minister Lord North believed that would convince Americans to buy it. “For,” as North said, “men will always go to the cheapest markets.” The Sons of Liberty tossed it in Boston Harbor instead.

The new nation’s first significant piece of legislation, the Tariff Act of 1789, among other things, sought to prevent lower-cost foreign goods from being dumped in America and smothering our own infant industries.

To those who said America should continue buying its manufactured goods from Great Britain, then the world’s low-cost producer, Thomas Jefferson advised “purchasing nothing foreign where an equivalent of domestic fabric[ation] can be obtained, without regard to difference of price.” (Emphasis added.)

Abraham Lincoln’s economic philosophy gave production primacy over consumption as the way to raise the American standard of living.

The goal is “to produce dear labour, that is, high-priced and valuable labour,” wrote Henry Carey, Lincoln’s economic adviser. High-priced laborers would produce more and be able to spend more. Consumption would rise in tandem with production and earning.

“Every man is a consumer to the whole extent of his production. To that point he will go, and beyond it he cannot go,” Carey wrote.

That is: by earning (producing) more is one able to consume (buy) more.

But the American attitude toward “cheap” was perhaps best summed up by William McKinley in a campaign speech he delivered in 1889:

They say “everything would be so cheap” if we only had free trade. Well, everything would be cheap and everybody would be cheap. I do not prize the word “cheap.” . . . It is the badge of poverty . . . when things were the cheapest, men were the poorest. . . . Cheap? Why, cheap merchandise means cheap men, and cheap men mean a cheap country; and that is not the kind of Government our fathers founded . . . We want labor to be well paid, we want the products of the farm . . . we want everything we make and produce to pay a fair compensation to the producer. That is what makes good times.

Fair compensation to the producer is what makes good times.

Indeed it is so, just as it has always been.

I can remember a day, probably about 40 years ago, when I suddenly needed a new dress shirt, likely I dumped a cup of coffee or something on it. So I did what we all do. I drove over to K Mart (then the most common low-cost retailer) and bought myself a new white broadcloth shirt, yes it had way too much polyester in it, but it got me through the day. The most expensive shirt I ever bought, even though I probably paid less than ten dollars for it. Why? Because I never wore it again.

And also a bad deal for K Mart, it was the last time I was in one of their stores.

In whatever developing country it was made, quality didn’t count for much, and this shirt had a collar point that I could not make lay down properly, even after I removed the stay and put in a removable one. And so the shirt was useless, it wasn’t even a useful rag like a cotton shirt would have been, it was just trash to be disposed of.

These days I rarely wear dress shirts, other than for casual shirts, but mine have labels like Brooks Brothers, Ralph Lauren, and some others. They fit, they’re made properly, and they’re made with quality materials. If I need a cheap one, I buy it on eBay, although I do prefer to buy new ones.

And that is true all through society, I’ve long since found that an American (British, even Japanese) product from twenty years ago is a much better value than the cheap junk from China than Wal Mart sells. Yes, I miss Sam Walton, he really did try to find low-cost American products, but the kids are more interested in lining their pockets, than in providing a reasonable product at a reasonable price.

The only catch is that you have to know a little bit more about what you are doing, and some products simply aren’t made here anymore, like TVs. Well that what we get for buying cheap Chinese crap, we’ve put entire American companies, and their workers, and those that could fix things, out of business. When is the Last time you saw an RCA repairman when I was a kid they were state of the art?

William McKinley had it exactly right:

I do not prize the word “cheap.” . . . It is the badge of poverty . . . when things were the cheapest, men were the poorest. . . . Cheap? Why, cheap merchandise means cheap men, and cheap men mean a cheap country;

And if you are having trouble finding stuff made in the USA, this may help.

What’s Going On in Iran?

Have you been following the (mostly non-) news from Iran? Interesting isn’t it? China and Hong Kong, Iran and the Iranian people, plus the Iraqis and the Lebanese, it’s almost like people like being free. The best I’ve seen is Michael Ledeen in FrontPage Magazine.

The country is on fire. All classes, all tribes from the Persians to the Kurds are fighting the security forces and the Revolutionary Guards, the Basij, and an increasingly divided Hezbollah. The leaders of the regime are unrestrained in their crackdown. In order to keep their actions as far as possible from public view, the leaders have killed off the internet links with the outside world, and despite American boasts that Washington can turn on the internet at will, the regime has kept communications with Iranians at historic minima.

The proximate cause of these demonstrations was an overnight increase in the cost of gasoline. I say “proximate cause” because the anti-regime outbursts had been ongoing for months, if not years. The increased price for gasoline was significant, but not decisive. So far as I can determine, the crowds of demonstrators chanted political slogans, not economic ones. They wanted an end to the Islamic Republic, not lower prices for gas.

The Iranian eruption is only one of many in the region, as Lebanese and Iraqis also joined the protest against Tehran. Iraqis, led by Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, called for an end to the Hezbollah domination of the country as part of a general demand for a thoroughgoing political transformation.

The most radical demand is the downfall of the whole sectarian, political Islamist system. This is the first and most important demand in Tahrir Square — they want a separation of religion and politics. This demand includes the government resigning, especially Adil Abdul-Mahdi, the prime minister.

Now mind, these guys aren’t asking for American boots, they want to be free, but on their terms, which are unlikely to be anything acceptable to Washington, let alone the heartland. But it’s their countries and their people. We can, perhaps, aid and abet a bit, but it’s up to them, to structure their lives as they see fit.

Because make no mistake, Iran under its present rulers is an implacable foe of the United States and keeps us from doing other things in the region that we should be doing. But this isn’t something, like Hong Kong, where one side is demanding democracy on the Anglo-American model.

Why that warning? Morris Ayek witing in en.qantara.de may have that answer.

Here, too, the distinctiveness of Arabic – although it has the same meaning in other languages – is useful in looking at Arab civil wars as wars between social entities. Non-Arab civil wars such as the Russian, the French, the Spanish, the Greek and so forth were between citizens. Groups that identify themselves through modern ideologies and institutions aim at the triumph of these ideologies. Indeed, they may be seen as a concomitant struggle in transition.

Arab civil wars, on the other hand, are wars between kinsfolk, however they may appear in their early stages. The social group becomes partisan, whether sectarian, tribal, party political or ethnic. The key difference between the two types of conflicts is that Arab civil wars have no end. In the non-Arab world, it is the ideology which is defeated, whilst with us Arabs, there can be no end. The Sunni, the Shia, the Alawite and the Christian will remain, like the Arab, the Kurd and the South Sudanese.

Social ties are the true driver

The only point of Arab civil wars is dominion, which is characterised by warlords who live by perpetuating war as a source of wealth, subjugating and plundering. They differ from other civil wars, in which each warring party has sought to build an economy with which to replenish resources and to guarantee victory. Ironically, this revenue-generating model is similar to the normal workings of an Arab economy.

Quite a lot more at the link, and I think it summarized pretty well why Anglo-American style democracy is not going to break out any time soon in the Middle East.

 

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