Trumping Europe.

HSBC building in Hong Kong after the Sutherland Springs church shooting. From Ace

Have you been paying attention as the President toured Asia? Quite a lot to think about, none of which have you seen on the news. Don Sarber blogging at The Spectator covers it well.

First, Kim Jong Un did not do squat. He cannot. His nuke program just collapsed — mysteriously — on October 10, likely killing all his scientists and technicians working on the project.

Second, Prime Minister Abe and the Trumps had a good old time. Played golf. Fed fish. Popped in on the emperor — unbowed. And oh, yeah, there was this:

Japan will impose additional sanctions on North Korea in response to the continuing threat posed by the reclusive nation’s missile and nuclear programmes, Japan’s top government spokesman said on Tuesday.

The sanctions, mentioned by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in a joint news conference with U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday, will freeze the assets of nine organizations and 26 individuals, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference.

“The North Korean missile and nuclear issue is a pressing threat unseen before. Its provocative actions, in which it has ignored the severe warnings of international society, are totally unacceptable,” he said.

Then he went to Seoul to talk to the General Assembly:

President Trump told North Korea to “not underestimate us,” in a speech before the South Korea’s National Assembly Wednesday morning local time.

“Do not underestimate us. Do not try us. We will defend our common security, our shared prosperity, and our sacred liberty,” Mr. Trump said.

The president, who has softened his rhetoric on North Korea in recent days, urged other nations including Russia and China to sever economic ties with the rogue state. Mr. Trump, in the middle of his nearly two-week Asia trip, heads to Beijing next.

“The time for excuses is over,” Mr. Trump said. “Now is the time for strength.”

The president spent much of his speech contrasting the success of South Korea with its neighbor to the north, saying South Korea’s success threatens North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s “dark fantasy.” Mr. Trump said North Korea looks to cause trouble abroad to avoid the reality of failure at home.

Then he went to China.

Chairman Xi gave Trump the honor of being the first foreign dignitary to dine in the Forbidden City.

Ever.

The Chinese then signed memorandums of understanding to invest $250 billion (a quarter trillion) in U.S. projects over the next two decades. That includes $83.7 billion in West Virginia.

Guys, West Virginia’s annual GDP is $74.9 billion.

And then in Danang (yeah if you’re my age, no map required, right?)

The current trade imbalance is not acceptable. I do not blame China or any other country, of which there are many, for taking advantage of the United States on trade. If their representatives are able to get away with it, they are just doing their jobs. I wish previous administrations in my country saw what was happening and did something about it. They did not, but I will.

From this day forward, we will compete on a fair and equal basis. We are not going to let the United States be taken advantage of anymore. I am always going to put America first the same way that I expect all of you in this room to put your countries first.

(Applause.)

They applauded because Trump treated them with respect, and he praised them for besting the Americans. Asians don’t often get that from Westerners. Certainly, it is a first for an American president.

You won that round, he told them. We’ll work harder on the next one.

My understanding is Asians want to save face. He gave them that. They can now lose the next round without humiliation because, hey, they won the first round. Fair and square. Without Russian meddling.

Today Trump is in the Philippines — which banned Obama last year.

Meantime, halfway around the world, in Central Europe, there is this, from Warsclerotic

Pictured: The Prime Ministers of the Visegrad Group countries meet in Prague on December 3, 2015. From left to right: Slovakia’s Robert Fico, Poland’s Beata Szydło, Czech Republic’s Bohuslav Sobotka and Hungary’s Viktor Orbán. (Image source: Chancellery of the Prime Minister of Poland)

The US president may be an arch-villain in Western Europe, but in Central Europe, he is a superhero. For years, Central European countries have respectfully disagreed with the Green millenarianism of the EU. Still catching up after 50 years of communism, they do not have the financial means for the “energy transition”. They see no rational reason to exchange their cheap electricity for the most expensive electricity on Earth, with no measurable impact whatsoever on “climate”. Before Trump, they felt alone, and weak in front of the economic (and moral) supremacy of Germany. Now, they know they are not alone.

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Even German Chancellor Angela Merkel recognized that multiculturalism has failed. All scientific studies show that a significant number of Muslims in Europe are fundamentalist; and that thousands of young European Muslims went to Syria to join ISIS. And yet, it is insufferable to Brussels and Berlin, to hear that the people of Central Europe have no intention of following the same path.

The European Court of Human Rights and the Court of Justice of the EU have made sure, through ruling after ruling, that it is virtually impossible to expel a “refugee” after his asylum request has been rejected.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) defines itself as a scientific body, although in reality, unsurprisingly, it is a purely political body. In composition, competence or functioning, there is not a shred of science in the IPCC. Yet, in the name of this “science”, European politicians are extracting from their people trillions in additional taxes, building pyramids of new regulations and inflicting prohibitions in every sphere of human activity.

On immigration, on sustainable development and on many other subjects, the convergence between the United States and Central Europe is now as evident as the new divide between Western Europe and Central Europe.

The European mindset is shifting. Twenty-three of the 28 governments of the European Union now have parliamentarian majorities on the center-right of the political spectrum. Everywhere in Europe, the “left” is on the run.

This is particularly true in Central Europe. The soon-to-be Austrian Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz won the election on an anti-immigration platform and is on the verge of forming a government with the right-wing Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) which owes its own success to the same topic.

In the Czech Republic, political parties on the right now hold 157 of the 200 seats in the Parliament and tycoon Andrej Babis­ ­— “the Czech Trump” — is set to be the next prime minister.

All in all, the “Visegrad Group” peoples — Czechs, Hungarians, Poles and Slovaks — plus the Austrians, have voted in the most conservative governments we have seen in Europe for almost 30 years, since the fall of Margaret Thatcher in the United Kingdom.

You know, sometimes I have the feeling that we Americans have the ability to reinvent ourselves in each generation or so – to present the things that the world need leading in. Maybe that is our definition of leadership. It may well be a figment of an old man’s mind, but to me, the old, drunken men leading Europe, are looking almost as relevant as Nikita Kruschev in 1963.

 

 

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Lights Out!

Illustration on the risk of EMP attacks on the nation’s power grid by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

As far back as when I was in college, farther really, but as solid state equipment increased it was becoming more urgent, warnings have been sounded about an EMP attack. I wrote about it as far back as 2012, here, in relation to Iran. Nothing has changed in all that time, except the threat has gotten worse, especially with the addition of North Korea, and our vulnerability increasingly worse.

Our vulnerability has gotten worse because while vacuum tubes had many weaknesses they had some survivability against current surges, transistors have less, and integrated circuits have almost none. That is why we have to protect them from static electricity. When I was in school, our stereos were beginning to be solid state, our TVs were mostly tube type, our cars had transistor radios but were controlled by mechanical means, and our industry was controlled by men and relays.

Today, all of these things are controlled by solid state electronics, computers, as are trucks, farm equipment, railroad locomotives (and the railroads themselves), and nearly everything else in an advanced civilization. It has become our Achilles heel.

Writing in the Washington Times, Peter Vincent Pry tells us that the bureaucracy again knows how to deal with a threat, kill the messenger.

The Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack terminated on September 30, ironically, the same month North Korea tested an H-bomb it described as “a multifunctional thermonuclear nuke with great destructive power which can be detonated even at high altitudes for superpowerful EMP attack.”

For 17 years, the EMP Commission warned about the existential EMP threat.

Rogue states or terrorists can blackout national electric grids and other life-sustaining critical infrastructures, topple electronic civilization, and kill millions from sea to shining sea, with a single high-altitude nuclear detonation, generating an EMP field covering North America. Natural EMP from a solar superstorm could blackout the whole world. EMP is considered a cyber weapon, not a nuclear weapon, in the military doctrines of Russia, China, North Korea and Iran.

On October 12, before a House Homeland Security Subcommittee chaired by Rep. Scott Perry, the EMP Commission staff delivered a final testimony, lamenting Washington bureaucrats are still oblivious to EMP.

The Department of Defense (DOD), Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Energy (DOE), still largely staffed by Obama-holdovers, did not ask Congress to continue the EMP Commission.

The Secretaries of DOD and DOE ignored repeated requests to meet with the EMP Commission. DOE thinks the EMP threat is unproven and plans to partner with the electric power industry on studying EMP until 2020 and beyond.

DOD is letting DOE waste millions of dollars on unnecessary studies while DOD sits on a mountain of classified studies proving the EMP threat is real — which is why DOD has spent billions EMP hardening military systems.

Experts who have worked on protecting military systems from EMP for decades know how to harden our critical national infrastructure, but electric power organizations such as the Electric Power Research Institute and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation are not asking them for help.

A senior DHS official, speaking anonymously, recently told Fox News that EMP is a “theoretical” threat and lower priority than “real” threats, like cyber-attacks and sabotage. […]

Real world failures of electric grids from various causes indicate nuclear EMP attack would have catastrophic consequences. Big blackouts have been caused by small failures cascading into system-wide failures:

• The Great Northeast Blackout of 2003 — that put 50 million people in the dark for a day, contributed to at least 11 deaths and cost an estimated $6 billion — happened when a power line contacted a tree branch, damaging less than 0.0000001 (0.00001 percent) of the system.

• The New York City Blackout of 1977, that resulted in the arrest of 4,500 looters and injury of 550 police officers, was caused by a lightning strike on a substation that tripped two circuit breakers.

• The Great Northeast Blackout of 1965, that effected 30 million people, happened because a protective relay on a transmission line was improperly set.

• India’s nationwide blackout of July 30-31, 2012 — the largest blackout in history, effecting 670 million people, 9 percent of the world population — was caused by overload of a single high-voltage power line.

In contrast to the above blackouts caused by small-scale failures, nuclear EMP attack would inflict massive widespread damage to electric grids.

A protracted blackout endangering millions will be the inevitable result of the EMP attack described by the North Koreans.

But the EMP Commission won’t be around anymore to help prevent electronic Armageddon.

Via Warsclerotic/Dan Miller

This particular threat is just as theoretical as watching a robber pointing a gun at you, while his finger tightens on the trigger. And it is just that existential to us as a nation.

Dan followed this up with a report from Forbes

Unlike a conventional ICBM which launches and then goes into a suborbital flight before re-entering Earth’s atmosphere, an EMP warhead need not re-enter Earth’s atmosphere before exploding hundreds of kilometers above its target. Super-EMP weapons are designed to produce a high level of gamma rays, which generate the sort of high-frequency electromagnetic pulse that is most damaging to the broadest range of electronics, the report concludes.

And if the EMP device just happens to be part onboard an orbiting satellite, North Korea need only detonate the device remotely via encoded signal. Pry, Chief of Staff of the now de-funded Congressional EMP Commission, told me that at an altitude of 300 kilometers, the resulting electromagnetic pulse would affect all 48 contiguous states.

A warhead fused for an EMP in a satellite or ICBM could work on a timer, via GPS, or using an altimeter, says Pry, a nuclear strategist formerly with the CIA, who has a certificate in nuclear weapons design from the U.S. Air Force nuclear weapons lab. He says North Korea could even rig the warhead to detonate in the event that it was intercepted by our own missile defenses.

The consequences of such a detonation would be dire.

“The U.S. can sustain a population of 320 million people only because of modern technology,” said Pry. “An EMP that blacks-out the electric grid for a year would [decimate] the critical infrastructure necessary to support such a large population.”

In three days, the food supply in local grocery stores would be consumed and the 30-day national food supply in regional warehouses would begin to spoil, says Pry. In one year, he contends that up to 90 percent of the population could perish from starvation, disease, and societal collapse.

After generating gamma-rays that interact with air molecules in Earth’s stratosphere, a so-called fast pulse EMP field of tens of kilovolts would only last a few hundred nanoseconds.

But in the event of such an attack, aircraft electronics would be fried, as well as electronics in air traffic control towers, and navigation systemssays Pry. “Airliners would crash killing many of the 500,000 people flying over North America at any given moment,” he said.

Pry says electro-mechanical systems which regulate the flow of gas through pipelines would spark; causing the gas to ignite and result in massive firestorms in cities and large forest fires.

There would be no water; no communications; and mass transportation would be paralyzed, says Pry. In seven days, he contends that reactors in U.S.’ nuclear power plants would essentially melt down, spreading radioactivity across most of the nation.

What could be done to ensure a quick restoration of the grid?

Some 2000 extra-high voltage (EHV) transformers make up the foundation of the U.S. grid, says Pry. But as he notes, since they each weigh hundreds of tons, they are extraordinarily hard to transport. Thus, if most are destroyed, there’s no quick fix.

So, how do we best protect against an EMP?

The U.S. should be prepared to also include limited surgical strikes to destroy North Korea’s ICBMs, says Pry. But he says the best, safest, and least provocative solution is to EMP-harden the electric grid and other critical infrastructures.

Via (again) Warsclerotic/Dan Miller

When we talked about this in the early seventies in college, we knew then the grid was vulnerable, because many of the control parts are susceptible to this type of damage. It is now at least an order of magnitude worse since control has been centralized and computerized, without regard for hardening against this threat. It has often been said that the best defense is a good offense, in this case, at least in the medium term, the ONLY defense is a good offense.

And understand, while the consequences for the United States are dire indeed, they are also for the world as we know it. America feeds much of the world – and that will end that day, as we go from the indispensable nation to a bunch of people who cannot feed themselves with the tools they have. Just about every machine in America, built since the 70s, will be so much scrap iron. Recovery will take likely centuries. In truth, it won’t happen.

But hey, we won’t have those busybodies from the EMP Commission preaching doom and gloom at us anymore.  As Charlie Sheen would say, “Winning!”

Puerto Rico: A Problem Like Maria

I guess we should take a look at the relief effort in Puerto Rico. They are, after all, Americans, just like us Nebraskans. The thing is, it has become so politicized that one hesitates to talk about it. Both the President and his Twitter account and the Democrats need to shut up and get to work. All this noise is doing more harm than good.

Things are getting done, slowly, near as I can tell. Both the ARRL and the Salvation Army have called for Amateur (Ham) radio operators to help restore communications, and are getting a pretty good response, as they always do.

The way Hurricane Maria blew through the island is in many respects the equivalent of the EMP explosion from the NORKs (or others) that we have talked about here in the effects on the US of the destruction of the power grid. That is what happened on Puerto Rico, except that the computers running it may or may not have been but the physical grid was. That is going to take time (and money) to repair. Meantime, without power, there are no communications either. The landlines are fairly obvious, the same things affect them as the power lines. But even cellphones are no good when the towers have no power for a time, and when their battery’s are dead. That’s why the Hams, most of us have portable stations that (at least on low power) can be run on solar, or bicycle chargers or whatnot. Yes, some of it is a rather old model of communications, but not all, we work with almost all forms of emissions that are in commercial service. In fact, Hams developed many of them.

Water distribution has the same problem, you need electricity to pump water, other than diesel, there is no alternative, and I suspect a lot of power in Puerto Rico is diesel powered anyway.

The power grid on the island has been reported as decrepit for many years, and that is part of the reason for the utter destruction. The LA Times tells us:

Puerto Rico officials say it will likely be four to six months before power is fully restored across the U.S. territory of 3.5 million people. The island’s faltering electrical grid, now crippled by the twin blows of Hurricane Maria and Hurricane Irma, already was struggling to keep the lights on after a history of poor maintenance, poorly trained staff, allegations of corruption and crushing debt.

As recently as 2016, the island suffered a three-day, island-wide blackout as a result of a fire. A private energy consultant noted then that the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority “appears to be running on fumes, and … desperately requires an infusion of capital — monetary, human and intellectual — to restore a functional utility.”

Puerto Ricans in early 2016 were suffering power outages at rates four to five times higher than average U.S. customers, said the report from the Massachusetts-based Synapse Energy Economics.

And then came Maria.

The collapse of the power system has tumbled down the infrastructure chain, making it difficult to pump water supplies — the water authority is one of the power authority’s biggest clients — and also to operate the cellular phone system, which also relies on the power grid.

Residents have been scrounging for scarce fuel to power generators long enough to keep refrigerators and a light or two running. At night, many drag mattresses out to balconies and porches to escape the heat. Hospitals have seen life support systems fail and most business has come to a halt.

Funny how that works, but not funny ‘Ha Ha”. Electricity is quite literally the lifeblood of modern life, without it, we go back a hundred years minimum. That’s why these crackpot renewable energy schemes are so dangerous.

But part of that is also that the island is corrupt, and has been for a long time. From The New York Post:

Jorge Rodriguez, 49, is the Harvard-educated CEO of PACIV, an international engineering firm based in Puerto Rico

For the last 30 years, the Puerto Rican government has been completely inept at handling regular societal needs, so I just don’t see it functioning in a crisis like this one. Even before the hurricane hit, water and power systems were already broken. And our $118 billion debt crisis is a result of government corruption and mismanagement.

The governor Ricardo Rossello has little experience. He’s 36 and never really held a job and never dealt with a budget. His entire administration is totally inexperienced and they have no clue how to handle a crisis of this magnitude.

For instance, shortly after the hurricane hit, the government imposed a curfew from 6 pm to 6 am and then changed it. Now, it’s 7 pm to 5 am, and makes no sense. The curfew has prevented fuel trucks from transporting their loads. These trucks should have been allowed to run for 24 hours to address our needs, but they have been stalled, and so we have massive lines at gas stations and severe shortages of diesel at our hospitals and supermarkets.

I’m really tired of Puerto Rican government officials blaming the federal government for their woes and for not acting fast enough to help people on the island. Last week I had three federal agents in my office and I was so embarrassed; I went out of my way to apologize to them for the attitude of my government and what they have been saying about the US response. When the hurricane hit we had experts from FEMA from all over the US on the ground and I was really proud of their quick response. The first responders and FEMA have all been outstanding in this crisis, and should be supported.

Well, I’m not sure what the cure is for that. We get the government we vote for, and the Puerto Ricans voted for these people. Still, they do appear to be doing their best, but it is not, and never has been, good enough. But even The National Guard can’t show up. From Deanna Fisher at Victory Girls Blog.

Click to enlarge

It’s so bad that not even their National Guard can show up for duty.

But nine days after Hurricane Maria, a striking trend has emerged: Less than half of the 8,000 members of the Puerto Rico National Guard are on duty. Army Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, the top U.S. officer overseeing military operations on the island, attributed this to a combination of factors. Many personnel are dealing with the devastation in their own lives, he said, and some are providing help in their full-time jobs as police, firefighters or other first responders rather than through the Guard.

The comparatively small number of Guard troops on duty in Puerto Rico appears to underscore a disconnect between pleas made on the ground by civilians on the ground since the storm, and the federal government’s relatively modest response at first. It also may have slowed awareness of how bad the destruction was, with fewer personnel responding early and cataloguing needs. […]

And the problem is not that the supplies aren’t present – as you can clearly see behind the mayor. The problem is getting the supplies where they need to be.

Col. Valle is a firsthand witness of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) response supporting FEMA in Puerto Rico, and as a Puerto Rican himself with family members living in the devastation, his passion for the people is second to none. “It’s just not true,” Col. Valle says of the major disconnect today between the perception of a lack of response from Washington verses what is really going on on the ground. “I have family here. My parents’ home is here. My uncles, aunts, cousins, are all here. As a Puerto Rican, I can tell you that the problem has nothing to do with the U.S. military, FEMA, or the DoD.”

“The aid is getting to Puerto Rico. The problem is distribution. The federal government has sent us a lot of help; moving those supplies, in particular, fuel, is the issue right now,” says Col. Valle. Until power can be restored, generators are critical for hospitals and shelter facilities and more. But, and it’s a big but, they can’t get the fuel to run the generators.

They have the generators, water, food, medicine, and fuel on the ground, yet the supplies are not moving across the island as quickly as they’re needed.

“It’s a lack of drivers for the transport trucks, the 18 wheelers. Supplies we have. Trucks we have. There are ships full of supplies, backed up in the ports, waiting to have a vehicle to unload into. However, only 20% of the truck drivers show up to work. These are private citizens in Puerto Rico, paid by companies that are contracted by the government,” says Col. Valle.

Eventually,  it will work out, but not without a lot of angst and pain for all concerned, both aid givers, and aided. The real question is, will Puerto Rico learn from the disaster, as we all learned from Katrina, or simply keep on with same old, same old, and we have to do it all again in 5, 20, or 50 years. That’s their part of the story.

Monday, Monday, so good to me

Steven Hayward over at PowerLine has some TV recommendations for us, at least if we have Amazon Prime. I do but I haven’t watched it yet, but think I will.

Looks pretty funny to me, and Steve says this, “It is a brilliant piece of work, supposedly “found footage” of a Romanian buddy-cop show from the 1980s dubbed into English. It is a wonderful satire of the way a podunk Eastern European nation saw the world in the late stages of the Cold War. ” Certainly better than most of the dreck out there.

He also says this movie looks good to him, and from the trailer, it does, indeed.

What could be funnier than the death of one of the two worst mass murderers of the twentieth century? That sort of thing is why the movies are (or used to be) so much fun. May this sort of thing increase.


On a less welcome note, I assume you saw the impertinence at Wembley stadium yesterday. Personally, I’ve given up on pro football, not so much a boycott as tired of grown men thinking that sports is the be all and end all of life, not to mention that they actually earn those multi-million dollar salaries. I just got tired of the whingeing. But that’s me, not anything that I proselytise about. I don’t really give a dame if they stand, sit, kneel or stay home for the National Anthem. If they are too stupid to realize how good this country has been to them, then nothing they can say or do is worth my time or interest. And it’s not. Nor is it helped, when I do end up watching a bit of a game, to have politics inserted between every play, and so the sports networks and the league itself are just as culpable.

But others care more. Toni Williams over at Victory Girls for one.

The spoiled brats that comprise the players of the NFL participated in the death of American football, as we know it, in England today. At Wembley Stadium in London, the players knelt and locked arms during the National Anthem. The National Anthem of the United States of America. And, then showing how galactically ignorant of history they are, the fools stood for the British National Anthem “God Save The Queen”. Today, the NFL committed “Suicide by Kaepernick”

The title of the article in the United Kingdom news outlet The Sun.comis entitled “TRUMPED NFL players take the knee during national anthem as Jacksonville Jaguars take on Baltimore Ravens at Wembley”. The Sun reported that Shad Khan, an owner of the Jaguars was proud as can be of his gridiron ignoramuses:

Shad Khan said: “It was a privilege to stand on the sidelines with the Jacksonville Jaguars today for the playing of the U.S. national anthem at Wembley Stadium.

“I met our team captains prior to the game to express my support for them, all NFL players and the league following the divisive and contentious remarks by President Trump, and was honoured to be arm in arm with them, their team-mates and our coaches during our anthem.
“Our team and the National Football League reflects our nation, with diversity coming in many forms – race, faith, our views and our goals.

“We have a lot of work to do and we can do it, but the comments of the President make it harder.

“That’s why it’s important for us, and personally for me, to show the world that even if we may differ at times, we can and shoudl be united in the effort to become batter people and a nation.”

Sorry, Shad. May I call you Shad? Good. I have to call bovine manure on that one. There is no diversity in the NFL. They are men who, at a young age, showed certain talents. They were nurtured and coddled and given opportunities that 99.999% of the Universe never get. There are no girls on the team, no super short people, no untalented people. If Colin Kaepernick were truly talented, and not a brainless twit, he would be playing somewhere.

And, you know, that’s the breaking point for me. We have our squabbles here in America, as we should. That’s fine, and it’s always been so. But when we go abroad, we should behave ourselves so as to bring credit on the United States, instead of this new form of ‘The Ugly American’. But overall, I’ll listen to my Boilermakers, which school actually does believe in free speech, and is actually playing fairly decent ball this fall. The NFL can go and choke on its arrogant condescending arrogance and its billions of dollars. I just don’t care, anymore. There are better ways to use my time. (No, not cricket!)

I just don’t pay spoiled children to entertain me, not least because they aren’t

 

 

Video Monday

I was doing things other than writing last night, once in a while, I like to step away from the blog, and recharge, and doing this seven days a week can get to be a pain. Okay, whinge over, and yeah, I volunteered. How about some videos today? Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve watched these, most of them more than once, and I like them. I think you will too. Obviously, you don’t have to watch all of them, watch the ones that interest you, but they all cover some facet of what we do here.

Steve Bannon making sense? Yep, surprising as it is.

Ben Shapiro on why your feeling don’t matter

I wish we could convince the Brits of this because it is obviously true.

The modern world is a Tudor Enterprise. Think about that for a bit. That is what one can accomplish with “the stomach of a king, and yes, a King of England”.

As we change course a bit, just who is smarter? Eh, who cares, really? But Siobahn! 🙂

We’ve said this many times: If you do not have the freedom to fail, you can not succeed.

How we got rich…

How to keep it happening:

Sense a theme here? Yep, there is one. It’s called personal responsibility. If you want to accomplish something, you need to take responsibility for it. Whether you’re Stephan Langton leading the barons to Runnymede, Queen Elizabeth humbling the greatest Empire of the age, our founders doing that humbling thing again, or the guy that wants to start the next Microsoft; you need to own it, to work hard at it, and maybe fail a few times before you get it figured out, not run to Washington, claiming to be a victim. We, the Anglophone nations built the world we live in following these simple rules, seems silly to me to quit doing something that has worked so well.

Although I suppose if I simply desired power over others without reason, simply the power of the clenched fist, I would probably dislike this world, with its emphasis on freedom and justice. Think about that.

Hurricane Season

Untoward brilliance from the Washington Post

Well, no kidding? Seems to me that it always does, always has, and always will. Why? Because the poor have fewer assets, not to mention less ability to run away.

But the remarkable thing about Harvey (apart from the way it stopped over Houston and unloaded however many trillions of gallons of water it did) was that for such a huge storm, and one so severe, was simply how low the death count was, especially in America’s fourth largest city. Steven Hayward has some good thoughts.

One of the remarkable things about this extraordinary catastrophe is how low the death toll has been—less than a dozen. A flood of this magnitude in the developing world usually kills tens of thousands. The 1900 Galveston hurricane killed over 6,000 people; adjusted for population change in the region, that would probably be something like 100,000 today.

It is not individual wealth that has made the difference, though as with all things individuals with more assets are always able to survive and recover from disasters better. It is the collective wealth—both social and material—of our society that has kept the death toll from Harvey at an astonishing minimum. (Our social capital may be more important than assets in the bank at moments like these, as we’ve seen with the remarkable scenes of spontaneous self-help going on in Houston.)

One other remarkable thing. I spoke yesterday with a former high ranking public official from Texas who points out the following: While 10 million people live in the coastal areas hit by the brunt of the storm, only 300,000 lost electricity. The resiliency of the Texas grid has been remarkable. Partly that is the result of Texas deregulating its electricity market much more seriously than any other state, and investing well over $10 billion over the last 15 years to upgrade its transmission infrastructure.

That last paragraph caught my eye, which won’t surprise you, given my background. The 6 P’s come to mind (prior planning prevents p*ss poor performance) as always, and nobody does it better than people spending their own money, like the power companies in Texas. But you know I think I heard last night that more people have already lost their electricity in Peurto Rico with its sole provider PREPO, which is involved in the island’s financial mess, which led to the 2015 passage of PROMESA. I don’t know enough to have a valid opinion but suspect a goodly portion of the Authority is politically (and not conservative) driven. It just, on first acquaintance, smells like that to me.

One of the reasons the storms aren’t so deadly anymore is the amount of money the US has spent and still does, on forecasting. We’ve gotten a huge return on our tax dollars in this area and still do. It’s remarkable really, I’ve been watching the UK’s Sky News this week, and their coverage of Irma, while extensive, always returns to American expertise. Of course, that is natural, Britain gets few hurricanes, and we get quite a few, and it’s easy enough for us to provide warnings to the few British possessions left in the area, not to mention that I’ll bet Cuba (whatever the politics) does as well. As it should be, in protecting ourselves we also protect others.

But Steve is right, the material wealth of Houstonians mattered, but not as much as their willingness, regardless of any other factors to help one another out. Maybe its a function of people who are confident that they will find another meal, or maybe it’s one of America’s heritages, might even have to do with America being more Christian than most places anymore, likely all of those things and more, but it is one of the things that makes America so resilient, that things that almost destroy other societies while a challenge here, there is almost never any doubt that the town, city, state, whatever will be back stronger than ever.

And believing it, it becomes so. In the end, it is a matter of confidence and a hallmark of America. Our heritage comes from many sources, but one of them is that old Irish proverb…

The first duty of the strong is to protect the week.

We saw it in Houston in the last fortnight, and we’ll see it expand with Irma, into the Carribean and perhaps Florida. Not only do we take care of our own, we take care of pretty much anybody who runs afoul of things beyond man’s control.

If you are anywhere close to Irma, keep your head up and your butt down, or better yet, get out of her way.

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