Video Thursday

How about some videos today?

Prime Minister May is coming over this week. What could be the best outcome for her, and for us? I think Dan Hannan has it right. Let’s do this, cousins.

 

This is how we all capitalize on Brexit, and the deal making Trump. A bit more, from BBC 4, of all places. Mind, like so many Americans, I grew up loving the BBC, but it has become nearly as bad as MSLSD the last few years.

And here’s the guy that made such a thing possible, Nigel Farage.

 

Here’s an interview the PM did earlier in the week. She makes sense, but my word the condescenion and bias that Andrew Marr shows is just incredible. And remember that the BBC is owned by the government, and tax supported.

 

And some British common sense from Piers Morgan. Yeah, me too, the world is changing

 

 

Let’s wrap up with a members only Right Angle from Bill Whittle

 

 

And that was the week that was. Wow!

A Bit of American Leadership

Follow Me

Follow Me

Sometimes that’s all it takes to change the world. Recently, Paul Bonecelli, wrote in The Federalist:

President-elect Trump’s nomination of Rex Tillerson is clear evidence that Trump wants to change U.S. foreign policy and its posture in the world. For him, arguably no other choice would do but of an outsider with a record of setting and achieving goals internationally.

That’s good, because the American people want a fundamental transformation of our foreign policy. They want an about-face in not just our policy but also our posture. Over the last eight years we have seen President Obama avoid conflicts whenever he could while an aggressor advanced its own interests (China). We have seen him reluctantly engage in conflicts but with no plan or intention to win (Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, the Islamic State). We have also seen him make one-sided deals favoring our enemies in order to burnish his image with the Nobel and academic crowd (Iran, Cuba).

Americans have seen all this and the collateral damage that ensues: our erstwhile allies express doubt about our commitments to them in the face of our enemy’s aggression, and our enemies gather courage and leverage as they press toward their goals, which are always national and always strengthen the ruling cliques in these countries.

What have American goals been under Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry? Whatever the ill-defined international community thinks they should be, from war and peace to climate change to refugees to trade. Obama and Kerry have not defined and defended American interests first and then sought to convince allies and enemies to join or accommodate us, respectively. Rather, Obama and Kerry have accepted whatever our opponents and various international bodies want to offer us.

via Rex Tillerson Is The Change America Needs And Our Enemies Deserve

Yep, and it’s putting it very kindly as well. I note that in World War II, the American people never flinched, even as the casualties mounted towards the end of the war, in the horrific campaigns in the Ardennes, on Iwo, and Okinawa, nor would they have in the Invasion of Japan. But they did in Korea, in Vietnam, and now in the GWOT. I don’t think America changed all that much, through Vietnam, it was mostly the same people. It was that the government went about the whole war thing half-heartedly, without trying for a victory. And the last eight years have been even worse, as the Obama administration bobbed about like dismasted Hobie Cat instead of the once magnificent ship of state.

And that’s why Trump, and especially Tillerson. Like him or not (I do), he, like his boss, always fights his corner, and does it effectively, and he does it creatively, and more often than not, he has won. Did you see this, from WAPO, via Powerline

Chavez responded by nationalizing ExxonMobil’s considerable assets in the country, which the company valued at $10 billion. The losses were a big blow to Tillerson, who reportedly took the seizure as a personal affront.

Only Tillerson didn’t get mad, at least in public. He got even.

Guyana, one of the poorest countries in South America, adjoins Venezuela to the East. ExxonMobil got rights to explore for oil off Guyana’s coast, and in May 2015, the company made a stunning announcement:

In the deep blue waters 120 miles off Guyana’s coast, the company scored a major oil discovery: as much as 1.4 billion barrels of high-quality crude. Tillerson told company shareholders the well, Liza-1, was the largest oil find anywhere in the world that year.

For tiny Guyana (population 800,000), the continent’s only English-speaking country and one of its poorest, it was a fortune-changing event, certain to mark a “before and after” in a country long isolated by language and geography.

And now, Venezuela is starving in failure, and Guyana is getting rich. All because of American leadership. More is going to happen, too. And not just in South America.

If you recall, Britain help draft and voted for the execrable UN Resolution 2334, just a couple weeks ago. But then in a stunning reversal, PM May sent Kerry to the naughty step for attempting to interfere with internal Israeli politics, and turned what was supposed to be culmination of Obama’s anti-Israel policy – the so-called Paris peace talks into a farce. All because Trump agreed with the American people that one doesn’t send one’s best friend to the end of the queue, one supports them. And what’s even better? This is

I note that both the FTSE and the Dow are up.I doubt it’s coincidental.

Reagan and Thatcher redux? Unlikely, but it would be wise to at least let Trump take the oath first. But we are beginning to see a more congenial atmosphere in the world already. There will be setbacks, there will likely be trouble, for oxen will be gored, and there will be alarums in the night, and rumors of war. But, those are all things that will happen anyway, and it is better for the people of the world, as opposed to their rulers, for the Great Republic to shape events than to be shaped by them.

And so, we end with two truths.

  1. One more day until the inauguration. And look what Trump has already accomplished!
  2. Hillary Clinton will never be president.

Ordinary Joes

6347747233_c1b8cd67cc_z

I’m going to talk about the upcoming Presidency some this week, and I think Jessica, in this post, speaks to part of the reason Trump won, and I thought it more reasonable to simply repost her article, than to extensively quote from it. We will be looking at some of the reasons but it surely looks to me like one of them is that Trump simply feels ‘real’ to those of us outside the Beltway.

Another thing that I see, is something else she spoke about several times, quite a few of our early presidents were wealthy men, Washington amongst them, who because they had no need for more money, were incorruptible. Of course, there are those, and I think the Clintons among them, for whom enough is never enough, but that isn’t universal.

The third obvious theme is that Trump quite obviously loves America, as we do, and as most of the left seems not to. Trump may or may not be a Christian as we understand the term, but it seems that at a minimum he is willing to accept that we Christians have some valid points, and perhaps that it is our morals that built this country into what it has become. We’ll see, I suppose, and here’s Jessica. Neo.

On my own blog yesterday I wrote a post on St. Joseph – ‘an ordinary Joe’. I hope no one finds it in poor taste to call a Saint that, but for me, that’s the point of him for us other ordinary folk. Neo here speaks, like so many of those who post here, as one of ‘we the people’. From where I sit a long a way aways, the problem I see is the one you guys have – no one is listening to Ordinary Joes.  We, like you, have a bunch of Fancy Dans, guys and gals for whom politics is everything and who get a good living from it; but like you, we don’t think they understand us – or even want to.

The politicians aren’t like us – they are obsessed with politics for a start. Through my co-author I know a few professional politicians, and when they come home they are full of who is ‘in and who is ‘out’ and what job x is getting, or who y is sleeping with; they are fixated on the process. Perhaps they weren’t all like this, and of course, we know they are not and that there are some, like Rebecca Hamilton, who set the most marvelous example; but do these politicians prosper in their profession? How many of them get to ‘the top’?

When that smooth-talking guy Tony Blair wooed us UK voters, I was in my teens, and because I am not easily impressed by such guys, I kept a tight hand on my virtue; I wish others had, as he thoroughly debauched the economy and political life. He rode the great tide of easy money and he made the sorts of promises which seducers to innocent young ladies; but when she woke up and found herself pregnant, where was he to be found? Why, nowhere, he’d found another mistress – money.

There was a time when politicians paid to be politicians because they were wealthy enough to spend their own money on public life. Men like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were not plutocrats or millionaires, but they had enough and they loved off it and served the Republic. Even very recently, someone like Harry S Truman could leave public office no wealthier than he entered it. Over here the other successful Labour leader, Clement Attlee, had his wife drive him round when he campaigned against the great Winston Churchill in 1945. They used to stop by the side of the road and have a picnic, and then she’s drive Clem off to give a speech somewhere. He, too, left office no richer than he had entered it.

Ordinary Joes could relate to Harry S or Attlee. No one had to agree with their politics, and they could be nasty ‘sobs’ when they wanted, but they were like us – they lived in the world we lived in. Attlee looked like a provincial bank manager, Truman-like he ran a drapers store or sold dry goods. When Attlee was pictured smoking a pipe it was because he smoked a pipe; when his later successor, Harold Wilson was so pictured, it was because it was a good ‘image’; made him look down to earth and one of the people, even when he wasn’t.

But hey, at least back then they wanted to look like us. Now they don’t care, they flaunt their wealthy connections and their jets and their privilege. Nothing is too good for the representatives of the people. Shame about the people themselves – where’d it all go wrong?

‘If Russia and Saudi Arabia lead, rest will follow’…

american-oil-producers-must-collaborate-if-oil-prices-are-to-reboundor so says the Saudi energy minister on this historic oil deal. Well, maybe they will. But what if North America doesn’t follow?

Let’s see, he’s talking about

On Saturday, twelve non-OPEC countries, including Azerbaijan, Oman, Mexico, Sudan, South Sudan, Bahrain, Malaysia, Equatorial Guinea, Bolivia, Kazakhstan and Russia, agreed to cut oil production by 558,000 barrels per day (b/d) under the deal with the OPEC members.

OPEC members also confirmed their commitment to the plan to reduce the oil supply by 1.2 million b/d. This, together with the commitments made by non-OPEC states, would lead to the total reduction of oil production by about 1.7-1.8 million b/d, Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak said at the press conference.

They tried this before, of course. The most famous one was in 1973 when they thought they could scare the United States into abandoning Israel. That part didn’t work, but it did rather mess us up, not least as the defense department discovered it had between one day and two weeks of reserves. That’s why, ever since, defense has been burning other people’s oil, mostly. But you know 2017 is not 1973. Here’s some more

He then said that he “does not expect the US government to react to this in any way” to the Saturday deal as it has “not reacted in the past and let the market respond.”

via ‘If Russia & Saudi Arabia lead, rest will follow’: Saudi energy minister on historic oil deal |

He’s probably right about that, one hopes so. Still, I do expect President Trump to open up a bunch of federal land for exploration and/or drilling. That means there are two rather large gorillas in the room here. A lot of American wells are mothballed because their cost of production is not quite profitable, right now. By the way, when I looked last night Crude closed at $51.50 a barrel. Here’s the chart from infomine

American companies, as a rule, don’t do things that don’t make a profit, and they don’t think they will at these prices. Fair enough, I’m sure they know their cost of production and shipping quite well. Bring the price a bit higher, and a bunch of Americans will go back to work.

The other gorilla? Canada is the same story, maybe more so, extracting all that oil in the tar sands is not all that cheap, and unless the pipelines get built which is increasingly likely, they’re a long way from their markets. That too is likely to change with the administration in Washington. So, a lot of North Americans may well be going back to good paying jobs, our balance of payments may well improve, and if we do this right, we can continue to take money out of Saudia Arabia, Russia, Iran, and other not so friendly nations.

Sounds pretty good to me, and you know, if I and my friends are making more money, I could probably afford another 25 or 50¢ a gallon for fuel. And if we get it rolling, we will be.

It’s also a textbook example of why monopolies don’t work

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

The Beautiful Lie

Have you seen this, yet? It has about 600,000 views on YouTube.

Steven Heyward over at PowerLine comments, “Here you will take in a typically politicized student, at South Africa’s University of Cape Town, arguing that “Science as a whole is a product of western modernity, and the whole thing should be scratched off.” The audience laughs with approval at this apparent bold transgression, and when someone interjects, at about the one minute mark, that “It’s not true,” he is shouted down and demanded to make an apologize for having violated their “progressive safe space.” Chairman Mao would have been proud.”

Quite. As Steve says, then the nonsense resumes,

Steven Novella of the NeuroLogicaBlog summarizes it thus:

She gives as an example that Newton saw an apple fall, made up gravity, wrote down some equations, and now that is scientific truth imposed on the world forever (seriously, I am not exaggerating this one bit).

The other pillar of her position is that in Africa there are practitioners of black magic who can summon a lightening bolt at their enemy. This is not explainable by “Western” science, and yet this is African knowledge, and therefore is an example of Western colonialism suppressing indigenous wisdom.

via Academic Absurdity of the Week: Who’s Against Science Again? | Power Line

Wow! Just Wow!

But as Steve also says, it allows us to introduce Dan Sarewitz’s essay in The New Atlantis, “Saving Science,”

I’ll give you the opening, as Steve did, but while very important, this essay is long, it’s also wide ranging , well written, fascinating, and I think pretty much on the money, but make a pot of coffee, because you’ll be a while.

20160816_tna49sarewitzendlessfrontiercoverw300Science, pride of modernity, our one source of objective knowledge, is in deep trouble. Stoked by fifty years of growing public investments, scientists are more productive than ever, pouring out millions of articles in thousands of journals covering an ever-expanding array of fields and phenomena. But much of this supposed knowledge is turning out to be contestable, unreliable, unusable, or flat-out wrong. From metastatic cancer to climate change to growth economics to dietary standards, science that is supposed to yield clarity and solutions is in many instances leading instead to contradiction, controversy, and confusion. Along the way it is also undermining the four-hundred-year-old idea that wise human action can be built on a foundation of independently verifiable truths. Science is trapped in a self-destructive vortex; to escape, it will have to abdicate its protected political status and embrace both its limits and its accountability to the rest of society.

The story of how things got to this state is difficult to unravel, in no small part because the scientific enterprise is so well-defended by walls of hype, myth, and denial. But much of the problem can be traced back to a bald-faced but beautiful lie upon which rests the political and cultural power of science. This lie received its most compelling articulation just as America was about to embark on an extended period of extraordinary scientific, technological, and economic growth. It goes like this:

Scientific progress on a broad front results from the free play of free intellects, working on subjects of their own choice, in the manner dictated by their curiosity for exploration of the unknown.

“The free play of free intellects…dictated by their curiosity”

So deeply embedded in our cultural psyche that it seems like an echo of common sense, this powerful vision of science comes from Vannevar Bush, the M.I.T. engineer who had been the architect of the nation’s World War II research enterprise, which delivered the atomic bomb and helped to advance microwave radar, mass production of antibiotics, and other technologies crucial to the Allied victory. He became justly famous in the process. Featured on thecover of Time magazine, he was dubbed the “General of Physics.” As the war drew to a close, Bush envisioned transitioning American science to a new era of peace, where top academic scientists would continue to receive the robust government funding they had grown accustomed to since Pearl Harbor but would no longer be shackled to the narrow dictates of military need and application, not to mention discipline and secrecy. Instead, as he put it in his July 1945 report Science, The Endless Frontier, by pursuing “research in the purest realms of science” scientists would build the foundation for “new products and new processes” to deliver health, full employment, and military security to the nation.

From this perspective, the lie as Bush told it was perhaps less a conscious effort to deceive than a seductive manipulation, for political aims, of widely held beliefs about the purity of science. Indeed, Bush’s efforts to establish the conditions for generous and long-term investments in science were extraordinarily successful, with U.S. federal funding for “basic research” rising from $265 million in 1953 to $38 billion in 2012, a twentyfold increase when adjusted for inflation. More impressive still was the increase for basic research at universities and colleges, which rose from $82 million to $24 billion, a more than fortyfold increase when adjusted for inflation. By contrast, government spending on more “applied research” at universities was much less generous, rising to just under $10 billion. The power of the lie was palpable: “the free play of free intellects” would provide the knowledge that the nation needed to confront the challenges of the future.

To go along with all that money, the beautiful lie provided a politically brilliant rationale for public spending with little public accountability. Politicians delivered taxpayer funding to scientists, but only scientists could evaluate the research they were doing. Outside efforts to guide the course of science would only interfere with its free and unpredictable advance.

We are, of course, free to agree or disagree with what he says. I’m inclined to agree, particularly since I have always found that unless you have some sort of a destination in mind for any endeavor, well, how will you know you’re making progress.

Steve also says that this sort of nonsense is even more prevalent in social science. I’ll easily forbear from arguing with that thesis.

%d bloggers like this: