Things That Grabbed My Attention Yesterday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

They are both spot on.


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

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

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

But


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Of Elections and Counter Revolutions

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Performance Failure?

So, the Inspector General’s report on Crossfire Hurricane (the counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign) and Carter Page is out. I haven’t read it (and don’t intend to), I have better things to do than read 476 pages of government gobbledegook. But you can if you want to, it’s available here (pdf), from the Justice Department, and Powerline has it in their Scribd as well. What I’m going to do is listen to those who have been proved over time as reliable. One of those is Scott Johnson at PowerLine (linked above), another is Paul Mirendorf, also at PowerLine, and there is also Mollie Hemingway at The Federalist. All three have followed this story much closer than I have, and I have always found them reliable.

The first thing I want to caution you about is to not merely read the executive summary, as so often, it does not match the contents of the document (rather like the IPCC documents, I gather). That is not unusual, everybody and their dog knows that most people only read the executive summary, so you can tell all in the document itself, and spin it like a drill motor in the summary. I think it dishonest, but nobody ever asked me.

By now we all are sick of the phrase “mistakes were made” That seems to come up here as well. In fact, Horowitz documents no less than seventeen serious errors of one kind or another. They happened to all go against the Republicans, but he says he has no evidence of bias. Given an IG’s (lack of) power that is probably so, no one not currently employed by the DOJ has to talk to him, and he has little power. People are not likely to say, “Sure, I broke the law to get Trump”. These people are probably not as smart as they think they are, but they aren’t that stupid.

In any case, seventeen errors and all go one way, the odds of that happening by chance are about 1 in 172,000. That’s slightly worse than getting 3 balls and the Powerball on a ticket. It happens, but not often, in fact, on the last drawing it happened 4 times in Nebraska out of however many million tickets were sold.

And note this, Horowitz said he did not have evidence of political bias, not that there was no political bias, which is what the MSM is already spouting. See the difference in that. Sure, in a sense it’s CYA, but an IG lives in the swamp, what did you expect? Few of us bite the hand that feeds us. IG Horowitz testifies in the Senate tomorrow. Better him than me!

There is going to be a tornado of spin on this, I think. The body of the report, my sources say, is pretty damning for all the players. It also appears that AG Barr and US Attorney Durham, who have actual power, were not amused. Barr said this:

Nothing is more important than the credibility and integrity of the FBI and the Department of Justice. That is why we must hold our investigators and prosecutors to the highest ethical and professional standards. The Inspector General’s investigation has provided critical transparency and accountability, and his work is a credit to the Department of Justice. I would like to thank the Inspector General and his team.

The Inspector General’s report now makes clear that the FBI launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken. It is also clear that, from its inception, the evidence produced by the investigation was consistently exculpatory. Nevertheless, the investigation and surveillance was pushed forward for the duration of the campaign and deep into President Trump’s administration. In the rush to obtain and maintain FISA surveillance of Trump campaign associates, FBI officials misled the FISA court, omitted critical exculpatory facts from their filings, and suppressed or ignored information negating the reliability of their principal source. The Inspector General found the explanations given for these actions unsatisfactory. While most of the misconduct identified by the Inspector General was committed in 2016 and 2017 by a small group of now-former FBI officials, the malfeasance and misfeasance detailed in the Inspector General’s report reflects a clear abuse of the FISA process.

FISA is an essential tool for the protection of the safety of the American people. The Department of Justice and the FBI are committed to taking whatever steps are necessary to rectify the abuses that occurred and to ensure the integrity of the FISA process going forward.

No one is more dismayed about the handling of these FISA applications than Director Wray. I have full confidence in Director Wray and his team at the FBI, as well as the thousands of dedicated line agents who work tirelessly to protect our country. I thank the Director for the comprehensive set of proposed reforms he is announcing today, and I look forward to working with him to implement these and any other appropriate measures.

With respect to DOJ personnel discussed in the report, the Department will follow all appropriate processes and procedures, including as to any potential disciplinary action.

That’s a pretty strong statement when one remembers that this is the Attorney General of the United States. Disciplinary action could well include a vacation at some of the least pleasant places in the United States.

United States Attorney John Durham (who is charged with the criminal investigation) said this:

I have the utmost respect for the mission of the Office of Inspector General and the comprehensive work that went into the report prepared by Mr. Horowitz and his staff. However, our investigation is not limited to developing information from within component parts of the Justice Department. Our investigation has included developing information from other persons and entities, both in the U.S. and outside of the U.S. Based on the evidence collected to date, and while our investigation is ongoing, last month we advised the Inspector General that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened.

And that is the preview (I think) at the end of this rather boring movie.

Putin, Trump, and the EU

Like I said yesterday in comments, I’m bored with the impeachment follies, it’s bullshit and it’s going nowhere, although it may well give President Trump a landslide victory, and that very fact may allow reasonable Democrats to get control of their party. But don’t hold your breath on that either. We’ll come back to it, sadly, when there is something to talk about.

Meantime, it does us no harm to look out over the parapet and see what’s going on in the world. So today, there is an excellent (I think) assessment of Putin by Areg Galstyan at American Thinker. Let’s have a look…

Vladimir Putin has ruled the country since 2000, and over these 19 years, influence groups around him have been fighting each other for a special position and status. Unlike most of his associates, Putin is indeed an ideologically motivated leader who perceives himself not just as a politician and an official, but as a sovereign, such as Peter the Great and Alexander III — the beloved emperors of the current Russian leader.

One of my blogfriends, a Briton living in Siberia, categorically states he is also a Christian, that may be so or it may not be, but he undeniably supports the Russian Orthodox Church, whether out of conviction or statecraft doesn’t really matter. Interesting that Putin and Trump, the two largest nationalist leaders, also profess as Christians, not many others do, as they attend St. Mattress almost every Sunday.

The new ideology that is called Putinism is uniting principles and foundations that have remained unchanged throughout all the historical stages of the development of Russia. Its foundation is the concept of National Democracy. It implies that the process of democratization and the formation of an active civil society is inevitable but it should not be carried out according to any foreign model. The Russian nation, like any other, has its civilizational, social, and cultural features. Today, 190 peoples live in Russia, and most of them retain their language, traditions, and mentality. From this point of view, Moscow is always under the permanent threat of external forces using any interethnic disagreements for their purposes. If, for example, a political decision was made to allow same-sex “marriage” in the deeply conservative regions of the North Caucasus, Tatarstan, and Siberia, riots would begin. And they would lead to the most unpredictable consequences. For a large part of the progressive West, this may sound wild. Yet for Russia, it is a matter of national security.

It is important to understand that Russia is not limited to Moscow or Saint Petersburg. These cities, like any major megalopolises, are centers of the dominance of progressive and liberal ideas. No one will argue with the fact that the United States does not begin and end in New York and California; there are also Texas, Tennessee, Utah, and other states. The victory of Donald Trump vividly demonstrated that it was conditional Texas and Kentucky that were the heart of America, not Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The situation is similar in Russia: Putin is guided by the mood of the regional majority, not the liberal minority of the capital. There are a lot of sensitive problems, and any Russian ruler has to maintain internal balance in order to keep the country’s physical integrity. This is an extremely difficult task. At certain periods of time, Emperor Nicholas II, and then the last general secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU, Mikhail Gorbachev, did not cope with this task. This resulted in the collapse of the Russian Empire and the USSR, respectively. Thus, the essence of Sovereign or National Democracy is in a banal formula: everything has its time. In other words, Putinism advocates an evolutionary rather than a revolutionary model of development.

There is quite a bit more, all of it good.

My takeaway is this, I don’t think Russia is much of a threat to the US. It is a big European/Asian power, yes, and it could do serious harm to the US, but why. The converse is equally true, and I don’t hear any American thinking we should destroy Russia.

We compete yes, especially for oil sales. As an aside, last month for the first time in 70 years we became a net exporter. But providing Germany’s fossil fuel doesn’t translate to a justification for war.

A key point is this, our interests are in fact, while not identical, similar, and until the 1917 revolution, Russia was (more or less) our friend, as much as any great power (saving only Britain) was or is. We pretty much know now (and probably should have before) that a lot of the Washington swamp hasn’t gotten the memo that the cold war is over. I’d guess that there is a similar cabal in the Kremlin. If for no other reason than its good for the arms manufacturers, and their subsidiaries in Washington and Moscow.

But we’re both interested in suppressing terrorism, especially after our ‘experts’ made the mid-east so much worse. And frankly, it is not really in either of our interests to encourage the Chinese, let alone the North Koreans.

NATO was formed 70 years ago to “Keep the Americans in, the Russians out, and the Germans down”. It has done well on the first two, and after the failure of the Soviet Union pretty much failed on the last. That will I suspect have consequences as Europe returns to be the cockpit of internecine conflict. The EU will implode, probably in this decade, and then the great game will restart as the Germans once more try to form a European Empire. In truth, the EU itself is an attempt by Germany to form an empire by economic means rather than military, that is why Macron’s nose is so out of joint.

If as the linked author says, Putin believes in Westphalia, Vienna, and Potsdam and Yalta, then he is pretty much the Russian form of Trump. And as we know, now if we didn’t before we elected him, he’s not out looking around for wars to wage. I doubt Putin is either. Both have better things to do for their countries.

And I think it entirely possible that Putin is more trustworthy than either Macron or Merkel, let alone this new German running the EU.

Impeachment Farce: The Bureaucracy Has Forgotten Who the Boss Is

Sharyl Attkisson wrote an article yesterday in The Hill. She highlights something most of us probably knew but hardly anybody is saying.

There’s an important revelation from the first day of impeachment hearings that I haven’t heard discussed. It has to do with the witnesses’ strange notion of how foreign policy works.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent and Acting Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor both accused President Trump of interfering with U.S. foreign policy in Ukraine. They indicated they differed with Trump’s skepticism of Ukraine’s newest leadership, and they disagreed with Trump’s apparent decision to keep Ukraine at a measured distance while he assessed the situation.

They further said that Trump gave approval for his attorney and adviser, Rudy Giuliani, to develop a communications channel on Ukraine diplomacy that was outside the “regular” diplomatic chain. Some in the media have dubbed that a “shadow campaign.”

The Huffington Post wrote, “State Department officials say Rudy Giuliani’s foreign policy backchannel ‘undercut’ U.S. policy on Ukraine.”

And Ambassador Taylor testified, “The official foreign policy of the United States was undercut by the irregular efforts led by Rudy Giuliani.”

There must be some confusion.

That’s a very kind way of saying it, I think. Actually, I prefer the way Ace put it.

The President, Not Stuffed Shirt Paper-Pushers in the Federal Bureaucracy, Is Invested With the Foreign Policy Power by the Constitution

Which is spot on. From Article II, Section 2:

The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

That’s about as clear as distilled water in a crystal glass. Presidents make foreign policy, not obscure ambassadors and deputy assistant secretaries of state. They do what the president and the secretary of state tell them to, or they should be fired, for cause and without benefits.

And that is the exact problem in Washington (Westminster has the same problem). The bureaucrats have gotten too big for their britches and now think they run the show. That simply is not acceptable. We elect the president not least to run foreign policy as we want it run.

One of the main reasons Trump is president is to end the forever wars that are bleeding the country, without bringing any advantage to it, see Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, and others, where we have, if anything, made bad situations worse. It has, however, been good for arms makers and their sycophants in Washington.

President Eisenhower had some good warnings for us as he said farewell almost half a century ago.

Throughout America’s adventure in free government, our basic purposes have been to keep the peace; to foster progress in human achievement, and to enhance liberty, dignity and integrity among people and among nations. To strive for less would be unworthy of a free and religious people. Any failure traceable to arrogance, or our lack of comprehension or readiness to sacrifice would inflict upon us grievous hurt both at home and abroad. […]

Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United State corporations.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence-economic, political, even spiritual-is felt in every city, every state house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

Essentially, we have failed that charge. And so, now, the time has come to try to repair this oversight, in short, to “Drain the Swamp”. It is going to be a long difficult project, but if we are to remain America, it must succeed.

Patriots not Globalists

I noted an article at The Duran yesterday. While I suspect many of you have not heard of the site, I often enjoy their view,  which is not conventional. Here Matthew Ehret comments on Trump’s speech to the UN. The video clip is at the link: “Future Belongs To Patriots, Not Globalists”: Donald Trump Tells UN.

The author states that:

This powerful intervention broke the narrative that the UN Climate summit or the attempts to impeach him had anything to do with “saving the environment” or “stopping corruption in politics” as those running these operations would have us believe. The reality, as Trump eloquently made clear at this venue, is that the issue now, as it has always been, is truly about the nature of the world order- and whether that order shall be run by sociopathic technocrats under a one world government, or patriots under a community of sovereign nation states.

He’ll get no argument from me on that.

But there’s more. Ehret, I had never heard of so I Duck, Ducked him. He’s an iconoclastic Canadian author, who has done a lot of work on the roots of the ‘Deep State’. It’s probably a good thing for a Canadian to research, more than anyone they sit halfway between Britain and America. He seems to be making the point that the ‘Deep State’ is, in fact, the old British elite’s attempt to reestablish the old Empire, that he says failed about the time of the Boer war.

I think he may be correct. One of the things that I have never understood was  FDR’s antipathy to the Empire. Ehret puts it in opposition to the American system as designed by Hamilton and further extended by Lincoln.

He has authored a 55 page PDF on the origin of the ‘Deep State’ that I found this morning. While I’m only about a fifth of the way through it, I’m finding it fascinating. From the introduction:

“Two systems are before the world; the one looks to increasing the proportion of persons and of capital engaged in trade and transportation, and therefore to diminishing the proportion engaged in  producing commodities with which to trade, with necessarily diminished return to the labour of all; while the other looks to increasing the proportion engaged in the work of production, and         diminishing that engaged in trade and transportation, with increased return to all, giving to the labourer good wages, and to the owner of capital good profits… One looks to under working the Hindoo, and sinking the rest of the world to his level; the other to raising the standard of man throughout the world to our level.

One looks to pauperism, ignorance, depopulation, and barbarism; the other in increasing wealth, comfort, intelligence, combination of action, and civilization. One looks towards universal war; the other towards universal peace. One is the English system; the other we may be proud to call the American system, for it is the only one ever devised the tendency of which was that of elevating while equalizing the condition of man throughout the world.”

– Henry C. Carey, Harmony of Interests, 1856

The PDF is here. I do not know if he is right, nor do I know he is wrong. But, either way, it is by far the most plausible answer to the origin of that shadowy grouping that I have read. If you are interested,  you should too.

 

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