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

Cardiff University, Chicago, and Purdue

unknown2None of those schools is very good at American football, lately. But they are good at something else, they are good at freedom, especially of speech.

Jonathon Turley is one of the most passionate about free speech, real free speech. Maybe he picked it up at the University of Chicago, where he studied, as I reinforced mine at Purdue. Both schools are outspoken champions of free speech. There are some others, sadly far too few.

But America has a plethora of champions of free speech compared to the UK. That is why is so wonderful to see a UK university join in on the movement. From Turley

Cardiff took a strong stand for free speech in breaking away from other schools which have have imposed stringent speech codes and regulations. The university pledged to end its past censorship and platforming rules. It declared that it would not bar controversial speakers and that “censorship is not the answer.”

Instead, Cardiff passed a motion that was entitled “Challenge, Don’t Censor.” The motion declared that “students are capable of challenging intolerable views through rigorous debate; censorship is not the answer.”

Amen. This is particularly impressive in Europe where free speech is being sharply curtailed.

via Cardiff and Tufts Universities: Two Divergent Paths On Free Speech | JONATHAN TURLEY

Amen, indeed. May their number grow quickly.

Even more amazing,

The stand against being told what they can hear and think echoes the response of a group of sixth-form students, who were due to hear from Milo Yiannopoulos before his speech was shut down by the UK Government.

In an open letter to censorious authorities, pupils from Simon Langton Grammar School expressed their dismay, saying “we do not need to be protected” from controversial speakers.

cardiff

Those students at the Cardiff Student Union and at Simon Langton Grammar School are heroes of free speech, and that is to all our benefit without regard to our, or their politics. Free and unafraid speech is one of the keystones of freedom itself.

Outstanding to all hands, and remember:

Adfyd a ddwg wybodaeth, a gwybodaeth ddoethineb.

Castro, and the Reaction

Mom really did say that if you don’t have anything good to say about someone, especially a dead someone, then say nothing. It’s a good rule, helping avoid social friction and silly irritations.

But I’m not sure that it really holds for public discourse on the death of public enemies. I can’t really imagine Winston Churchill, or Harry Truman, mouthing empty platitudes about Adolph Hitler, can you? That’s why I think the last few days have been quite instructive. Tell me who a man idolizes, and I’ll tell you what he wants to be.

President Obama

At this time of Fidel Castro’s passing, we extend a hand of friendship to the Cuban people. We know that this moment fills Cubans – in Cuba and in the United States – with powerful emotions, recalling the countless ways in which Fidel Castro altered the course of individual lives, families, and of the Cuban nation. History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him.

Former President Jimmy Carter

Rosalynn and I share our sympathies with the Castro family and the Cuban people on the death of Fidel Castro. We remember fondly our visits with him in Cuba and his love of his country. We wish the Cuban citizens peace and prosperity in the years ahead.

Jesse Jackson

In many ways, after 1959, the oppressed the world over joined Castro’s cause of fighting for freedom & liberation-he changed the world. RIP

Canadian Premier Justin Trudeau

It is with deep sorrow that I learned today of the death of Cuba’s longest serving President.

Fidel Castro was a larger than life leader who served his people for almost half a century. A legendary revolutionary and orator, Mr. Castro made significant improvements to the education and healthcare of his island nation.

While a controversial figure, both Mr. Castro’s supporters and detractors recognized his tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people who had a deep and lasting affection for “el Comandante”.

I know my father was very proud to call him a friend and I had the opportunity to meet Fidel when my father passed away. It was also a real honour to meet his three sons and his brother President Raúl Castro during my recent visit to Cuba.

On behalf of all Canadians, Sophie and I offer our deepest condolences to the family, friends and many, many supporters of Mr. Castro. We join the people of Cuba today in mourning the loss of this remarkable leader.

Jeremy Corbyn (British Labour Party leader)

“He managed to bring good quality health services to all the people of Cuba, good quality education to all the people of Cuba and, of course, he had a foreign policy which was global, but particularly important in Southern Africa in supporting Angola against the apartheid regime.”

You can make what you wish of all that, I know I will. But around here we read (and have even lived some) history. And we know some things, such as Fidel Castro actually wanted a nuclear war, even though Cuba would have been wiped out in the first 15 minutes, since at that moment, better than half of the US military was targeted on it.

Here, via Powerline, is an excerpt from a letter Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev sent to Castro after the Cuban missile crisis:

 

In your cable of October 27 you proposed that we be the first to carry out a nuclear strike against the enemy’s territory. Naturally you understand where that would lead us. It would not be a simple strike, but the start of a thermonuclear world war.

Dear Comrade Fidel Castro, I find your proposal to be wrong, even though I understand your reasons. We have lived through a very grave moment, a global thermonuclear war could have broken out. Of course the United States would have suffered enormous losses, but the Soviet Union and the whole socialist bloc would have also suffered greatly.

It is even difficult to say how things would have ended for the Cuban people. First of all, Cuba would have burned in the fires of war. Without a doubt the Cuban people would have fought courageously but, also without a doubt, the Cuban people would have perished heroically.

We struggle against imperialism, not in order to die, but to draw on all of our potential, to lose as little as possible, and later to win more, so as to be a victor and make communism triumph.

But there really are rational people out there.

Former PM @TonyAbbottMHR says Fidel Castro was a brutal dictator and ‘his legacy is a bad one’. #agenda#auspolhttps://t.co/6efamtvlRp

— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust)

US Senator Ted Cruz (R, TX)

Fidel Castro’s death cannot bring back his thousands of victims, nor can it bring comfort to their families. Today we remember them and honor the brave souls who fought the lonely fight against the brutal Communist dictatorship he imposed on Cuba.

US Senator Marco Rubio (R, FL)

Fidel Castro seized power promising to bring freedom and prosperity to Cuba, but his communist regime turned it into an impoverished island prison. Over six decades, millions of Cubans were forced to flee their own country, and those accused of opposing the regime were routinely jailed and even killed.

Sadly, Fidel Castro’s death does not mean freedom for the Cuban people or justice for the democratic activists, religious leaders, and political opponents he and his brother have jailed and persecuted. The dictator has died, but the dictatorship has not. And one thing is clear, history will not absolve Fidel Castro; it will remember him as an evil, murderous dictator who inflicted misery and suffering on his own people.

And above all, President Elect Donald Trump.

Today, the world marks the passing of a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades.

Fidel Castro’s legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights.

While Cuba remains a totalitarian island, it is my hope that today marks a move away from the horrors endured for too long, and toward a future in which the wonderful Cuban people finally live in the freedom they so richly deserve.

Though the tragedies, deaths and pain caused by Fidel Castro cannot be erased, our administration will do all it can to ensure the Cuban people can finally begin their journey toward prosperity and liberty.

I join the many Cuban Americans who supported me so greatly in the presidential campaign, including the Brigade 2506 Veterans Association that endorsed me, with the hope of one day soon seeing a free Cuba.

That is a proper American statement on the death of a tyrant, who spent 60 years butchering his citizens err prisoners. I think Reagan would approve. Simple decency prevents us saying good things about almost purely evil people.

Assuming he likely did not make a good confession, may the Lord grant him his justice, and may his soul burn in Hell forever.

The Individual in the West

marcus-cicero-freedomBookworm went on the National Review cruise this year, and how I envy her! What a glorious opportunity. She’s written a series of posts about it, which you should read. In any case, she wrote a post that she called National Review cruise — let’s talk about the individual in the West. The whole post is well worth your time and is linked below, don’t miss the comments, either, but I want to focus on something she said here.

I’ve been reading Rabbi Joseph Telushkin’s Jewish Literacy, a book I highly recommend, not just for those interested in learning about all things Jewish, but also for those anxious to reconnect with Old Testament knowledge and interesting corners of world history. I especially enjoyed his Biblical discussions, because it’s been some years since I sat down and read the Torah.

What’s so striking about the Torah, of course, and what I believe has kept it the most vibrant book in the Western canon, is that it’s not a book about mass movements or ideological theories. It’s a book about people. Abraham who upends his family to follow a God, Sarah who laughs at that God, Jacob who wrestled with that God, Moses who argued with that God, David who fought for that God, and all the individually-named prophets who spoke for that God. Each person we meet in the Torah is someone we can imagine walking through our own communities today.

The same is true for the New Testament. Jesus is a vividly rendered personality, but so are the others who appear with him. Through their writings, we know Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The Apostles are real people grappling with the burden of a living Messiah whom they know will soon die, only to live again. And Paul — oh, my goodness! Through his letters he is one of the most vibrant people in world history.

But the West’s recognition of real people living in different times doesn’t end with the Bible. We discuss Roman history, not just in terms of battles and empire, but in terms of the personalities whose ambition, honor, greed, etc., made that history happen. When reading Christian-era Western history, names with vivid attached personalities tumble off the page: Charlemagne, William the Conquerer, Joan of Arc, Henry VIII, Cardinal Richelieu, each and every Borgia or Medici, Marie Antoinette, Lord Nelson, our Founders about whose personalities we are intensely interested, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, and even Barack Obama. In all cases, we want to know who they are and what drove them to take actions that are hinge points in history.

This is a remarkably different approach to the past and the president than under statism regimes, which seek at all levels to erase the individual. And I do mean all levels. The cults of personality that totalitarian societies cultivate, as in North Korea, have nothing to do with the real person. They are slickly enameled fakes that are meant to obscure rather than reveal the individual holding such immense power.

I have a theory that this individualism is part of what propelled Trump into office (along with voters’ desperation for a candidate who, no matter how personally tawdry, didn’t have the stink of “business as usual” in Washington). Hillary, as we know, has been endlessly re-packaged and re-presented to the American people.

The reality, as Americans understand, is that with her rigid hair, botoxed face, expensive Mao suits, and prepackaged Leftist rhetoric, she’s just another statist cipher. Her years in the public eye have revealed that the personality behind the presentation is a corrupt and ugly one, but the important thing is that we’re endlessly being sold someone whose public identity is as fake, unrevealing, and poll driven as any cult leader in a totalitarian society.

And then there’s the Donald: Mercurial, defensive, grandiose, self-confident, intuitive, vulgar, quite kind (according to many who know him), unfiltered, and, above all, absolutely real. Yes, there’s definitely a “reality TV” persona, but the overlap between the public and the private Trump is apparently quite strong. With Trump, we don’t get a poll-tested, campaign-consultant-created generic politician. For better or worse, he is an individual in the historic mold.

I think, therefore, that Trump represents something unique to Western Jude-Christian culture: Starting with Abraham and going right up to Trump, individualism matters. We, The People are not movements, we’re not ciphers, we’re not symbols. We are real beings, with individual characters, and we seek that same quality in those who lead us.

via National Review cruise — let’s talk about the individual in the West

She’s on to something here, and it’s important. When the progressives were taking over the academy they ridiculed the so-called ‘Great man theory of history’ propounded by Macauley, by Bancroft, even by Mahan, preferring to denigrate the great captains of history. This suited their revisionist souls but did a disservice to their craft. Bookworm is right, we can walk with the ancients, but we are not mindless ciphers being acted on by indifferent forces. We, the people know that to lead us, we need people who can lead with vision, not simply tell us what to do. Can it be overdone? Of course, it can. We are individuals in a community, one man believing something is usually a crank, but groups of people, acting for their individual and groups benefit are what has driven history, and freedom. Where would we be without a William Marshal, an Oliver Cromwell, a George Washington, A Lord Nelson, an Abraham Lincoln, a Winston Churchill, even a George Patton, or yes, a Donald Trump?

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.

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