Engineering Club Sensible

electoral-smallBy outlook, if not degree, I’m an engineer. My basic question is always, “Will it work, as designed, and can we build and run it on budget (or below)?” As far as I’m concerned, it’s what built the world we live in. It has nothing whatsoever to do with good intentions, it has much indeed to do with elegance. Maybe this is our year because it’s overwhelmingly a real world philosophy. It’s also overtly American, because America epitomizes the practical, yes, Americans are a very idealistic people, but down at bedrock, almost every American asks, “Does it work?”

Catherine Priestley wrote something about this the other day in The Spectator. Here’s some of it.

If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it is that the times are changing. When news of the Trump victory unfolded across the world, we watched from Sydney University’s Manning Bar. Never had it been so packed. Students piled in to watch history, all-consumed by the bright red map of America flashing on the screen.

My engineering friends bought me a beer and together we observed the room. On one side were slumped shoulders, ashen faces and tears from tragic left-wing students, whose world-view had suffered the rejection of the ballot box. The other side was a sea of red caps and raucous applause with each Trump gain; the unmistakable ecstasy of a formerly ostracised group, finally on the ascent.

The engineers are sensible people and don’t really belong to either extreme. Instead, they drink to democracy and are glad that a blow has at last been struck against political correctness. They talk excitedly of how they’d improve the data analysis of flawed polling and have a purely factual discussion about how the construction of the wall might be done. The upending of the status quo means the engineers, typically outsiders who stick to an isolated building on campus far away from frenzied student politics, are now invigorated to participate.

Leading up to Trump’s victory, one could sense change in the air. Doomsday articles threatening stock market crashes, polls that placed Trump firmly behind; all had a Brexit parallel about them. When Joe Hockey addressed the US Studies Centre the week before Trump’s election, he said that 70 per cent of Americans felt the country was heading in the wrong direction. ‘This is normally a game changer in politics,’ he remarked. […]

Although uncertainty is trending, one thing we can be sure of is that Outsiders everywhere are on the rise. In general, they are a broad alignment of people across all parties and factions who share a love of common sense and find themselves more consequential to politics now than they have been for some time. Perhaps they find themselves on the Left, but feel isolated due to the dogma of political correctness and identity politics. Or they are of the Right and have become angry with the authoritarian Insiders who appear to restrict personal freedoms. Either way, they are all members of what the late Christopher Pearson might have termed ‘Club Sensible’. While major parties appear to fragment and shrink in these changing times, Club Sensible’s membership base steadily grows.

via Engineering Club Sensible | The Spectator

I think she’s on to something here. That map at the top of the page, is about as red as I’ve ever seen, and overwhelmingly, the red parts are where people deal with the real world, you know the one where reality rules and good intentions don’t cut it.

Will Trump fix the world? No. But he may well drain at least some of the swamp, although that might anger some of the alligators that are up to our ass. We all know it out here, “No good deed goes unpunished,” we say. That’s all right, we also say, “What must be done, will be done.”

And so far, from the quality of the people he is picking, well, I’m very encouraged. It looks to me like he is picking some of the best of America, and that is the mark of the first-rate leader. That’s something that every grunt on a job site or enlisted soldier knows, but a whole lot of officers forget when they get stars in their eyes. But not all of them.

There’s a reason why 3d US Army had the fewest casualties while conquering the most ground back there in 1944. It was called “Lucky”. If I was an opponent of America’s, I would be praying very hard, because I think its new name may well be ‘Chaos’.

We’ve also been known to say with Jim Lovell, “There are people who make things happen, there are people who
watch things happen, and there are people who wonder what happened. To be successful, you need to be a person who makes things happen.”

bad-decisions

Carrier Blinks, Jobs Stay, Trump Wins |

(AP Photo/Nati Harnik, file)

(AP Photo/Nati Harnik, file)

Well, well, well, look at that, Carrier with all the noise about domestic manufacturing jobs decided it would be a good idea to stay in Indianapolis. Undoubtedly they are correct. From the NY Times

From the earliest days of his campaign, Donald J. Trump made keeping manufacturing jobs in the United States his signature economic issue, and the decision by Carrier, the big air-conditioner company, to move over 2,000 of them from Indiana to Mexico was a tailor-made talking point for him on the stump.

On Thursday, Mr. Trump and Mike Pence, Indiana’s governor and the vice president-elect, plan to appear at Carrier’s Indianapolis factory to announce a deal with the company to keep roughly 1,000 jobs in the state, according to officials with the transition team as well as Carrier.

Mr. Trump will be hard-pressed to alter the economic forces that have hammered the Rust Belt for decades, but forcing Carrier and its parent company, United Technologies, to reverse course is a powerful tactical strike that will hearten his followers even before he takes office.

“I’m ready for him to come,” said Robin Maynard, a 24-year veteran of Carrier who builds high-efficiency furnaces and earns almost $24 an hour as a team leader. “Now I can put my daughter through college without having to look for another job.”

It also signals that Mr. Trump is a different kind of Republican, willing to take on Big Business, at least in individual cases.

And just as only a confirmed anti-Communist like Richard Nixon could go to China, so only a businessman like Mr. Trump could take on corporate America without being called a Bernie Sanders-style socialist. If Barack Obama had tried the same maneuver, he’d probably have drawn criticism for intervening in the free market.

via Carrier Blinks, Jobs Stay, Trump Wins |

The Times goes on with comments from Robert Reich and such. I don’t disagree, part of the reason it worked this time for Trump/Pence is that pence is Indiana’s Governor, and Trump speaks business. I suspect part of it is also that Carrier is owned by United Technologies, one of the big defense contractors, who undoubtedly don’t want any troubles with the administration, if they can help it.

All that said, it’s good news, and it goes to the point that relocating to Mexico is a rather marginal cost-savings, usually. I can remember when we had a Monroe shock absorber plant here, it was the old Rancho suspension plant, built in the 50s or 60s, a few years ago it moved to Mexico, now it’s off in Asia somewhere. Apparently, the Mexicans didn’t work cheap enough either. By the way, they couldn’t get the plant sold, so a few weeks ago they bulldozed it, it ain’t coming back. The tax breaks weren’t good enough, likely.

He won’t win them all, but it’s a good start: when you can save 1000 jobs in December before you are even inaugurated. That’s a thousand jobs that Obama couldn’t have saved.

Trumphalist Friday

Ok, I’ve been serious long enough, let’s just relax, and reflect on what we’ve done this year, nothing less (I think) than end America’s twin dynasties. Wait till we really get going!

 

 

 

I said in my post-election article that America leads again. I think it will be so, as the European elections come, freedom is again on the agenda, and again put there by the Anglo-Saxons as the Europeans call us, or if you prefer the British and Americans. It won’t win everywhere, but it now has a chance, and that is enough. And there is this:

I Watched Donald Trump Blow A Hole Through The European Elite’s Minds

I work in the former industrial heartland of America in operations management for an iconic American brand owned now by a multinational, European-headquartered company. About a year ago, we were informed that our plant and city would host the yearly operations conference and achievement awards for the division to which we belong.

Three hundred executive-level guests from all over the world, Asia, South America, and Europe would descend upon the aging brownfield facility we had turned into a state-of-the-art manufacturing showplace. I am proud of this place, and was thrilled at the news. Just five years ago, I was down in Mexico planning the logistics for the plant that was slated to replace ours by the early 2020s. Through hard work and lean methodologies, however, we rejected that fate—and with a unionized workforce.

The world was now coming to us to figure out our recipe. There was just one problem: The conference was scheduled for November 9 and 10, 2016. I begged and pleaded with my Western European colleagues and superiors, “Can’t we do this a week earlier? A month later or earlier?” I held back on the reason for my hesitation, but finally was forced to admit it, “The U.S. presidential election is scheduled for that week—and you know politics doesn’t always make for a great backdrop.” They told me the date was impossible to move, so I threw myself into the prep work.

And I absolutely love this paragraph of the article.

Overhearing him, I got the impression he had met Trump. In his keynote speech following, he began by addressing the crowd with these words, tinged with irony and disdain: “You have all heard the results—but the sun still rose this morning.” I immediately texted my boss, with whom I shared a secret support of Trump: “And it was somehow brighter and the air smelled like freedom.”

via The Federalist

It really does. What a wonderful fortnight it has been. There’ll be problems, and setbacks, and arguments to come, but you know, I think America is back on track, and again knowing and sharing the dream.

Why the Electoral College? Because State and Regional Diversity Matters.

Thomas Hart Benton

Thomas Hart Benton

One of my very favorite blogs, Grassroots in Nebraska (GIN), has undertaken to explain, pretty much after every election why the electoral college, especially as implemented in Nebraska and Maine, is by far the most fair and equitable method of electing the president. A few highlights.

Where you live, your day-to-day experiences gained through interacting with your physical environment, influence your political viewpoint. The Founders realized this. When the Electoral College was born through compromise in 1787, each former-colony-turned-state had a unique history and perspective giving rise to significant political differences between it and its neighbors. The Founders had to resolve these interstate differences in order to form a more perfect Union. The Electoral College was an important part of the Founders’ efforts to ensure our election process gave voice to these regionally diverse viewpoints.

What critics of the Electoral College fail to realize is the strong influence state and regional diversity continues to exert today. In fact, differences of opinion concerning most hotly contested political issues, past and present, can be traced to the influence of state and regional diversity. Neutering the Electoral College, as 48 states have done with their winner-take-all systems, deadens the impact of intrastate diversity on election outcomes.  Ridding us of the Electoral College entirely, either by amending the Constitution or by the states conspiring to do an end-run around the Constitutional provision by awarding all of their respective electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote, would render our election process deaf, dumb, and blind to both state and regional diversity.  I contend either change makes our electoral process more prone to something the Founders referred to as “the tyranny of the majority” or “mob rule.”

Still skeptical? Some examples are in order: […]

Linda also quoted a non-favorite Nebraskan of mine William Jennings Bryan, in his “Cross of gold” speech, and this I do agree with wholeheartedly.

“But we stand here representing people who are the equals before the law of the largest cities in the state of Massachusetts. When you come before us and tell us that we shall disturb your business interests, we reply that you have disturbed our business interests by your action. We say to you that you have made too limited in its application the definition of a businessman. The man who is employed for wages is as much a businessman as his employer. The attorney in a country town is as much a businessman as the corporation counsel in a great metropolis. The merchant at the crossroads store is as much a businessman as the merchant of New York. The farmer who goes forth in the morning and toils all day, begins in the spring and toils all summer, and by the application of brain and muscle to the natural resources of this country creates wealth, is as much a businessman as the man who goes upon the Board of Trade and bets upon the price of grain. The miners who go 1,000 feet into the earth or climb 2,000 feet upon the cliffs and bring forth from their hiding places the precious metals to be poured in the channels of trade are as much businessmen as the few financial magnates who, in a backroom, corner the money of the world.

“We come to speak for this broader class of businessmen. Ah. my friends, we say not one word against those who live upon the Atlantic Coast; but those hardy pioneers who braved all the dangers of the wilderness, who have made the desert to blossom as the rose —those pioneers away out there, rearing their children near to nature’s heart, where they can mingle their voices with the voices of the birds — out there where they have erected schoolhouses for the education of their children and churches where they praise their Creator, and the cemeteries where sleep the ashes of their dead — are as deserving of the consideration of this party as any people in this country.
. . . . .
“You come to us and tell us that the great cities are in favor of the gold standard. I tell you that the great cities rest upon these broad and fertile prairies. Burn down your cities and leave our farms, and your cities will spring up again as if by magic. But destroy our farms and the grass will grow in the streets of every city in the country.”

True when the Founders were writing the Constitution, true in 1896 when Bryan said it, and yes, it’s still true today. The folks that he was speaking of are those who feed our families, fight our wars, and do all things that have made the United States what it is, the dream of the rest of the world. I’ve been proud all my life to be amongst and one of them. If you would know us, you would be well advised to listen to the lyrics here.

This, this is who we are. If you would know why Donald Trump won, think about those lyrics, and what has happened in the last few years.

via Why the Electoral College? Because State and Regional Diversity Matters. | Grassroots in Nebraska. Do read it and by all means follow the links in her article and in the article linked in them. This is one of the greatest civics lessons you will ever get, and it will come to you painlessly.

The First 100 Days

ap_16315299287682_tnmnteIf you know American history, you know that the first hundred days of a new president – especially one much different than his predecessor – have a legendary quality. That’s been true since 1933 when Franklin Roosevelt forced through all sorts of ’emergency’ measures (most of them unconstitutional) to supposedly relieve the depression. That they didn’t work is in some measure irrelevant.

But Donald Trump has picked up the idea in his “Contract with the Voters of America”. Some highlights.

FIRST, propose a constitutional amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress.

SECOND, a hiring freeze on all federal employees
to reduce the federal workforce through attrition (exempting military, public safety, and public health).

THIRD, a requirement that for every new federal regulation, two existing regulations must be eliminated.

FOURTH, a five-year ban on White House and Congressional officials becoming lobbyists after they leave government service.

FIFTH, a lifetime ban on White House officials lobbying on behalf of a foreign government.

SIXTH, a complete ban on foreign lobbyists raising money for American elections.

And then seven actions

FIRST, I will announce my intention to renegotiate NAFTA or withdraw from the deal under Article 2205.

SECOND, I will announce our withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

THIRD, I will direct the Secretary of the Treasury to label China a currency manipulator.

FOURTH, I will direct the Secretary of Commerce and U.S. Trade Representative to identify all foreign trading abuses that unfairly impact American workers and direct them to use every tool under American and international law to end those abuses immediately.

FIFTH, I will lift the restrictions on the production of $50 trillion dollars’ worth of job-producing American energy reserves, including shale, oil, natural gas and clean coal.

SIXTH, lift the Obama-Clinton roadblocks and allow vital energy infrastructure projects, like the Keystone Pipeline, to move forward.

SEVENTH, cancel billions in payments to U.N. climate change programs and use the money to fix America’s water and environmental infrastructure.

And Five more to do with security and “The Rule of Law”

FIRST, cancel every unconstitutional executive action, memorandum and order issued by President Obama.

SECOND, begin the process of selecting a replacement for Justice Scalia from one of the 20 judges on my list, who will uphold and defend the U.S. Constitution.

THIRD, cancel all federal funding to sanctuary cities.

FOURTH, begin removing the more than two million criminal illegal immigrants from the country and cancel visas to foreign countries that won’t take them back.

FIFTH, suspend immigration from terror-prone regions where vetting cannot safely occur. All vetting of people coming into our country will be considered “extreme vetting.”

And there is also this

screen-shot-2016-11-11-at-7_28_46-am

screen-shot-2016-11-11-at-7_29_05-am

Looks pretty conservative to me, better, in fact, than could be expected. In fact, there are things here I don’t agree with, but I can live with it, it almost has to be better than what is happening now.

Do note that he’ll be lucky to get more than a fraction of the things listed here, but instantly upon inauguration is the best shot he’ll ever have at it.

via Here Is Trump’s Contract With The American Voter — The First 100 Days | Truth Revolt

American politics at its most uncivil

1792 John Trumbull portrait of Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton

1792 John Trumbull portrait of Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton

Tim Stanley wrote in The Spectator last week about American politics. Here is some of it.

To anyone complaining that American politics in 2016 is uncivil, consider this: in 1804, the vice president of the United States shot the former Secretary of the Treasury in a duel. Alexander Hamilton, the retired secretary, probably fired first and aimed into a tree, to show he meant no harm. Vice president Aaron Burr, however, shot Hamilton in the abdomen and left him to die. He went home and had breakfast with a cousin, and failed to mention how he’d spent his morning. A few weeks later, Burr was back at his job, chairing the Senate. President Jefferson, who hated Hamilton, invited him to dinner. Trump calling Clinton a crook doesn’t compare.

Ron Chernow’s magnificent biography of Hamilton is now out in paperback in the UK and has gained fame for inspiring a musical. It also has a lot to say about the early American republic. It was a revolutionary republic, a nation crafted out of ink and imagination. […]

Hamilton argued that the republic needed a sizeable government to survive. As the nation’s first Treasurer, he helped create a national bank and new taxes. He also thought it would be wise to make peace with the British. Inevitably, he was cast as an Anglophile and a monarchist, even a traitor. […]

A talent for business and writing brought him to New England and, through heroic action in the War of Independence, he worked his way onto the staff of George Washington. In other words, Hamilton far better reflected the meritocratic ideals of the American dream than his aristocratic peers ever did.

Chernow argues that Hamilton was actually trying to make the fledgling nation work. Yes, he undermined Jefferson’s ambition of creating a libertarian utopia of family farms. But how could the republic raise arms to defend its people without taxes? How could industry flourish without access to credit? How could the United States survive if it couldn’t pay its debts? Hamilton betrayed America as an ideal when he erected a monstrous new state machinery, maybe, but that machinery was still laughably small. […]

This is America. A rowdy battle of ideals in politics, but a big compromise in practical government.

via American politics at its most uncivil — in 1804

And you know, that is still true, many many of us, on both sides, have a complete set of ideals for the government. When Tim mentioned that the entire USG that Jefferson inherited was 130 people in what we call the civil service, I’ll bet I wasn’t the only one who wished it were still so. But those times were not these, and many remember that Reagan didn’t get everything he wanted either, but neither did Obama, and neither will anybody else. It’s always been a balancing act, and it’s worked pretty well, and it always probably will, as long as we manage to remain true to another of Tim’s paragraphs, I think.

Hamilton’s conservatism was fostered first by witnessing the evils of the Caribbean slave trade and later by the violence of the revolution. He wanted a republic that would balance liberty with order. The mob must never be allowed to get its way.

I think that is what we all know, deep in our bones.

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