Betrayal

It appears that many—perhaps most–of those translators and other Afghans who worked with and supported the US forces will be left behind to face murder by the Taliban.  Establishing refugee status and getting them out of the country appears to be just too much trouble for the bureaucracy, and there is no driving force in the Oval Office to force the bureaucracy to perform.

Meanwhile, Biden/Harris are positioning an open southern border as something that is morally required as our duty to all possible refugees from all imaginable (or imagined) situations all over the world.  But they appear to feel no sense of special obligation to those who have taken great risks by supporting us.

Perhaps if providing formal refugee status is too much trouble, the Afghans could simply be flown to Central America, dropped off in remote areas, and left to make their own ways to the US via the southern border.  They would probably be exposed to a lot less risk that way rather than by remaining in Afghanistan.

 

Juneteenth

So it appears that we are to have a new federal holiday – that day, following on the final defeat of the Confederacy that slaves in Texas were informed by the arriving Union troops that they were now free. I think it’s marvelous, noting the day when the last slaves in a Confederate state were notified by Republicans that they were no longer slaves.

With apologies to Wm. Shakespeare…

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Once Burned, Twice Wary

When I was in college, taking upper division at Cal State University Northridge (a place of no particular fame or note, other than being one of those public unis which used to provide a fair education at relatively low cost) I had a lot of time between some of my classes, and spent many hours in the stacks of the Oviatt Library. On discovering the microfiche newspaper archives, squirreled away in the basement, I undertook a project to read, or at least skim one of them – every daily issue from 1935 to 1945, on reels that covered two weeks at a time. I had already skimmed many of the bound periodicals of the weekly news magazines available – Time, Life, Newsweek and the like – because I had an interest in the period, they were available and what better way to agreeably pass the time between classes? (Both carried the comic strip Terry and the Pirates, which I found fascinating.) I wound up with the Chicago Tribune, after a trial of the Los Angeles Times, because the pages of the Times were scanned from side to side on the reels of microfiche, which made me slightly motion-sick to skim at speed, whereas the Tribune pages were scanned from top to bottom.

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Corruption rules our country today.

I am succumbing to temptation to repeat a post from 4 years ago. The reason is that the problem is now far worse. We do not have just a Principle agent problem, the country is run by corporate renegades and those on foreign payrolls.

The principal–agent problem, in political science and economics, (also known as agency dilemma or the agency problem) occurs when one person or entity (the “agent”) is able to make decisions on behalf of, or that impact, another person or entity: the “principal”.[1] This dilemma exists in circumstances where agents are motivated to act in their own best interests, which are contrary to those of their principals, and is an example of moral hazard.

The Founders were well aware of this problem and tried to protect the citizens with certain provisions of the Constitution.

“No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.”

This provision was violated by Barack Obama who spent billions to subsidize insurance companies to support his “Affordable Care Act” which was not successful.

Of course, the Amendments were intended to protect the rights of the people but the one that has been ignored for 100 years is the Tenth.

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

The Civil War largely ended Federalism.

In recent years, political parties have mislead their voters, the worst offender being the Republican Party. The Democrats posture as the party of the working man but it has become a party with two wings, the rich who want social liberties, and the poor who want to be taken care of. Jay Cost has written a good book about the Democrats Party called, “Spoiled Rotten, which explains the current policies of the party that has adopted “Identity politics” in which race and victim status has become a principal focus. My own review of the book is here.

The Republicans have gradually become the party of small business but the interests of small business are not being considered as paramount as the party seems to be evolving into another party of professional politicians whose personal interest trumps (so to speak) the interests of the voters. The result has been the rebellion of the Tea Party and more recently the election of Dave Brat, an economics professor, to Congress defeating Eric Cantor, a member of the GOP leadership, in 2014.

The election of Donald Trump has presented the GOP Congress with a crisis to which many have responded by retiring. One wonders what the next step of their career will be. Few, I suspect, will return home to the district that elected them. Most will remain in DC as Cantor has done.

Immediately thereafter, Cantor accepted a position as vice chairman of investment bank Moelis & Company. and,

In February 2015, the firm opened its Washington DC office, following the hire of Eric Cantor, former House Majority Leader, in September 2014.

That was bad enough in 2017 but we now have President Ron Klain, elected by no one, with Joe Biden as a prop when he can read his cue cards.

I think Angelo Codevilla’s piece about “The Ruling Class” has the best explanation.

When this majority discovered that virtually no one in a position of power in either party or with a national voice would take their objections seriously, that decisions about their money were being made in bipartisan backroom deals with interested parties, and that the laws on these matters were being voted by people who had not read them, the term “political class” came into use. Then, after those in power changed their plans from buying toxic assets to buying up equity in banks and major industries but refused to explain why, when they reasserted their right to decide ad hoc on these and so many other matters, supposing them to be beyond the general public’s understanding, the American people started referring to those in and around government as the “ruling class.” And in fact Republican and Democratic office holders and their retinues show a similar presumption to dominate and fewer differences in tastes, habits, opinions, and sources of income among one another than between both and the rest of the country. They think, look, and act as a class.

Now, we have a ruling class whose loyalty seems to be to other governments, China, Russia, The EU ? Who are they working for? Biden attacks BREXIT, Supporting the EU over the UK, infuriating the British ruling party. Labour has already ridiculed Biden for his dementia. Who is writing Biden’s speeches ?

Courageous, Eloquent, Disturbing

A teacher’s letter of resignation.

Of course, not all students are true believers. Many pretend to agree because of pressure to conform. I’ve heard from students who want to ask a question but stop for fear of offending someone. I have heard from students who don’t participate in discussions for fear of being ostracized. One student did not want to develop her personal essay — about an experience she had in another country — for fear that it might mean that she was, without even realizing it, racist. In her fear, she actually stopped herself from thinking. This is the very definition of self-censorship. 

Read the whole thing.

Kids who develop under an environment such as the one described will tend to become either cowards or bullies.  (Of course, they may also become both cowards and bullies)

What happens to a business or other organization that employs a high % of people who came of age in such an environment?  What happens to an entire society when many of its citizens–especially citizens in leadership organizations–grew up in atmospheres of conformity and bullying?

See also the comments of a Virginia woman who grew up in Maoist China and sees very disturbing parallels with what is going on at her son’s former high school in Virginia.

June Road Trip In the Hill Country

The Daughter Unit and I, with Wee Jamie the Grandson Unit, made a road trip last Saturday – a completely enjoyable outing, even with the necessity of stopping several times to change Wee Jamie’s diapers on the hour-and a half drive to Kingsland on the Llano and Colorado Rivers. He slept for the most part, and excited the admiration of many, who noted the Overwhelming Cuteness of Wee Jamie. His eyes actually opened once or twice during these occasions.

We had an appointment for a presentation ceremony at the American Legion post in Kingsland for me to be presented with a quilt; the ladies of this organization have been working for several years on a project to present a patriotic-themed quilt to every military veteran who can be identified and nominated for one.

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Single Payer rears its ugly head again.

A fellow I’ve known slightly for many years is editor of the Alpha Omega Alpha medical honorary society magazine, The Pharos. He has a lead editorial in The current issue It is titled “Now is the time to enact a US Healthcare System.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Dick has had a more successful career than I have. Many years ago I knew him and he read his acceptance letter to USC medical school in my apartment. He did well in medical school, almost as well as I did, but his wife agreed to go to New York for a high status internship and residency, setting him on a path to great success. He became a Professor of Medicine and eventually President of the University of Colorado. I have not seen him in years and suspect very little of his time has been spent in the delivery of primary health care “in the trenches” so to speak.

My wife refused to leave Los Angeles and I have, as a result, had a less prestigious career but satisfactory as anyone who has read my Memoir will see. I did harbor some resentment and the marriage ended in divorce after 18 years.

Now let us consider what this academic authority proposes. First, we are now ten years after Obamacare and some level of practicality has crept in.

The “federalism” response to the COVID-19 pandemic, medicine, health care, and the profession of medicine is not working well and needs to change. A serious societal and public review and plan of action for change is needed with regard to why and how the U.S. must improve overall health care and create a new health care system for all Americans. The U.S. is the only developed country in the world that has not determined that health care is a fundamental human right. Universal health care should be considered by all as a social good and a national priority.

There is, of course, no such promise in the US Constitution of a “right” to healthcare although we do have an Amendment forbidding involuntary servitude. Section 1

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Shall the federal government have the right to compel doctors and healthcare providers to provide services ? Right now Medicare pays about 13% of billed charges. This produces ridiculous fees on paper but what is the uninsured to do ? Pay 87% higher prices ? At my last understanding, a doctor may not offer a service for less than his/her/xir Medicare price. Anyway, let us see what is proposed.

The long-standing federalism approach to health care is associated with a lack of leadership, the absence of a solid plan, setup, or organization to manage our national health care. Also it is slow to respond to national and international issues. It has not worked well and leaves the country’s health care system disjointed, confusing, and expensive. The federalism approach, in which all 50 states and five territories each have their own rules, regulations, and financing, has been a barrier to providing health care for every U.S. citizen, regardless of where they reside.

I frankly don’t see the Federalism handicap but suspect nationalization appeals to some. Those darned Red States again.

One option that is often discussed is a single payor system in which the government is the only payor through tax and other revenues and manages health care as a public and social good. Currently in the U.S., the Military Health Care System, Indian Health Services, Veterans Health Administration, and Medicare are all government single payor systems. Medicaid and the Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP) are jointly funded by the federal govern-ment and state governments. All totaled, these government funded programs provide health care coverage for nearly 50 percent of the U.S. population.4

The success of the VA and the Indian Health Service is doubted by many. Both have seen repeated scandals.

The other half of the population is covered under their employer-sponsored health plan; is self-insured; or receives coverage through individual market health plans, including ACA-compliant plans; or completely lack any type of health insurance. Through the private health insurance programs, private insurance companies are re-sponsible for paying claims for their members. Hospitals, physicians, pharmacies, and other health care providers each file claims independently. Obamacare is responsible for a significant segment of the uninsured as small group plans were devastated by Obamacare.

According to Jerry Bonenberger of Babb Insurance in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, “small employer groups with less than 50 full-time employees are experiencing an extraordinary increase in their insurance premiums for 2015. In one case, a professional services firm with 42 full-time employees received an 87% increase in their premiums for next year.”

Through the development of the quasi-independent, apolitical National Health Reserve System (NHRS) pro-posed in the Summer 2020 issue of The Pharos,(1) the U.S. would have a health care system modeled after the Federal Reserve System, allowing for government funded care for half, and private insurance for half. The role of the NHRS would be to govern, integrate, coordinate, and manage a nationwide system of health care, both private and governmental. It would be far more extensive operationally than the Federal Reserve and would be governed and managed by experts, including physicians, health professionals, and others using data, experience, evidence, and planning to operate a national health care system independently with transparency and quasi- independence from politics.

Does anyone really believe that ? At least he wants to get rid of Obamacare although it is too late, as I have repeatedly pointed out. Doctors are no longer small business people but employees with the psychology of employees. Those that are opting out to go to a cash practice are a small minority but that seems the only realistic option. I submitted a rebuttal letter to the journal but doubt it will see the light of day. In it I suggested some reforms on the lines of the French system that I described in multiple blog posts ten years ago. I think the French system would have been a better reform but I doubt that will appeal to the academics who want control. When I was at Dartmouth in 1994-95 I met many of the people who designed Hillarycare, and they were also all academics. Pelosi and Reid who wrote Obamacare (I doubt Obama had anything to do with it) at least learned to include the insurance companies in their plan. In fact, I am sure it was written by insurance lobbyists and 25 year old staff lawyers.

The abysmal implementation of Obamacare suggests that big national scale programming projects are not the federal government’s strong suit. The federalism that my former friend, Dr Byyny, opposes allows for incremental reform and some level of experimentation. A national one-fits-all program failed spectacularly. Another one is likely to fail, as well.

That was 2015.

Poison Fruit of the Poison Tree

Against considerable recent competition in the “Let’s All Hate on White” contest currently going on among our political leadership, the media, academia, national corporations, and the entertainment industry, I must nominate Dr. Aruna Khilanani as a stand-out member of the American team for the ultimate Racism Olympics. Dr. Kilanani identifies as a practicing psychiatrist, at least for the moment. I am not myself qualified as a mental health professional, but I have been around long enough to accurately judge when another person routinely maintains vast colonies of bats in their mental belfry. This woman apparently entertains strange resentments and ultra-violent fantasies of shooting white people for no particular reason than rage, fantasies which were expressed in a lecture at the Yale School of Medicine and only made public this week.

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Xi and Me

It turns out that Xi Jinping and I have something in common: we are both fans of Goethe’s Faust. Indeed, Xi is said to even know the work by heart.

I wonder what aspects of Faust have been particularly meaningful to Xi, both personally and as relates to his current job as Dictator.  Here’s the passage that immediately came to my mind on learning of Xi’s Faust-affinity…

As a reward for services rendered, the Emperor grants Faust a narrow strip of land on the edge of the sea, which Faust intends to turn into a new and enlightened society by reclaiming land from the sea…along the lines of the way that Holland was created, but in a much more intensive manner. Faust’s land-reclamation project goes forward on a very large scale, and is strictly organized on what we would now call Taylorist principles:

Up, workmen, man for man, arise anew!
Let blithely savor what I boldly drew
Seize spade and shovel, each take up his tool!
Fulfill at once what was marked off by rule
Attendance prompt to orders wise
Achieves the most alluring prize
To bring to fruit the most exalted plans
One mind is ample for a thousand hands

Faust’s great plan, though, is spoiled (as he sees it) by an old couple, Philemon and Baucis, who have lived there from time out of mind. “They have a little cottage on the dunes, a chapel with a little bell, a garden full of linden trees. They offer aid and hospitality to shipwrecked sailors and wanderers. Over the years they have become beloved as the one source of life and joy in this wretched land.”

And they will not sell their property, no matter what they are offered. This infuriates Faust…maybe there are practical reasons why he needs this tiny piece of land, but more likely, he simply cannot stand having the development take shape in any form other than precisely the one he has envisaged. Critic Marshall Berman suggests that there is another reason why Faust so badly wants Philemon and Baucis gone: “a collective, impersonal drive that seems to be endemic to modernization: the drive to create a homogeneous environment, a totally modernized space, in which the look and feel of the old world have disappeared without a trace…”

Faust directs Mephisto to solve the problem of the old couple, which task Mephisto assigns to the Three Mighty Men… who resolve the issue by the simple expedient of murdering the pair and burning down their house.

Faust is horrified, or at least says that he is:

So you have turned deaf ears to me
I meant exchange, not robbery
This thoughtless, violent affair
My curse on it, for you to share!

To which the Chorus replies:

That ancient truth we will recite
Give way to force, for might is right
And would you boldly offer strife?
The risk your house, estate–and life.

Xi seems resolved to ensure that the ancient pattern recited by the Chorus will be the one that rules in China.  And there are plenty of influential people in America who reject progress we made in evolving beyond this ancient and brutal pattern..by building a wall consisting of free speech, due process of law, separation of powers, and a written constitution, and fighting to defend that wall.  Such people evidently want to demolish the wall and let the ancient pattern be firmly emplaced here as well…apparently under the assumption that they will be the ones who ultimately direct the Mighty Men.

See Claudia Rosett’s related post: Xi Jinping’s Tianamen Vision is Coming for Us All.

My review of Faust is here.

6 June 1944

(An archive post, for today.)

So this is one of those historic dates that seems to be slipping faster and faster out of sight, receding into a past at such a rate that we who were born afterwards, or long afterwards, can just barely see. But it was such an enormous, monumental enterprise – so longed looked for, so carefully planned and involved so many soldiers, sailors and airmen – of course the memory would linger long afterwards.

Think of looking down from the air, at that great metal armada, spilling out from every harbor, every estuary along England’s coast. Think of the sound of marching footsteps in a thousand encampments, and the silence left as the men marched away, counted out by squad, company and battalion, think of those great parks of tanks and vehicles, slowly emptying out, loaded into the holds of ships and onto the open decks of LSTs. Think of the roar of a thousand airplane engines, the sound of it rattling the china on the shelf, of white contrails scratching straight furrows across the moonless sky.

Think of the planners and architects of this enormous undertaking, the briefers and the specialists in all sorts of arcane specialties, most of whom would never set foot on Gold, Juno, Sword, Omaha or Utah Beach. Many of those in the know would spend the last few days or hours before D-day in guarded lock-down, to preserve security. Think of them pacing up and down, looking out of windows or at blank walls, wondering if there might be one more thing they might have done, or considered, knowing that lives depended upon every tiny minutiae, hoping that they had accounted for everything possible.

Think of the people in country villages, and port towns, seeing the marching soldiers, the grey ships sliding away from quays and wharves, hearing the airplanes, with their wings boldly striped with black and white paint – and knowing that something was up – But only knowing for a certainty that those men, those ships and those planes were heading towards France, and also knowing just as surely that many of them would not return.

Think of the commanders, of Eisenhower and his subordinates, as the minutes ticked slowly down to H-Hour, considering all that was at stake, all the lives that they were putting into this grand effort, this gamble that Europe could be liberated through a force landing from the West. Think of all the diversions and practices, the secrecy and the responsibility, the burden of lives which they carried along with the rank on their shoulders. Eisenhower had in his pocket the draft of an announcement, just in case the invasion failed and he had to break off the grand enterprise; a soldier and commander hoping for the best, but already prepared for the worst.

Think on this day, and how the might of the Nazi Reich was cast down. June 6th was for Hitler the crack of doom, although he would not know for sure for many more months. After this day, his armies only advanced once – everywhere else and at every other time, they fell back upon a Reich in ruins. Think on this while there are still those alive who remember it at first hand.

Tiananmen OSINT

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” — Benjamin Franklin

[Readers are directed to the end of this post for an explanation of my timing and motivation.

UPDATE 6/5, 11 AM CDT: videos embedded!]

I. Anniversary Reconnoiter

At around nine in the morning local time on the thirtieth anniversary of the “June Fourth Incident,” I began a reconnoiter of Tiananmen Square in central Beijing to observe security measures and, if possible, witness any attempt at commemorating the massacre. I accompanied Dr. Andrew R. Cline, professor of media, journalism, and film at Missouri State University in Springfield. We were part of group of eleven people—four students, two faculty, and five others including me—comprising a “Study Away” program from MSU which had spent the previous twelve days in China, flying into Beijing and taking high-speed trains to Xi’an and Xining, then on via the Qinghai–Tibet railway to Lhasa before flying back to Beijing. Of all days, Tuesday 4 June 2019 was designated a free day for the group: no itinerary—and no guide. The remaining nine group members, as it turned out, had other ideas about what to do that day.

Andy’s motivation was broadly journalistic, garnished with a specific interest in whether any actual Marxists would show up. I went along out of a feeling that I had something of a reputation to uphold, and quickly decided during our approach that I would evaluate the security measures and write up a more quantitative report, although I will also pass along some thoughts about the organizational behaviors involved.

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Medicine and Obama’s Third Term.

Obamacare changed American Medicine forever. I am becoming convinced that was a major purpose. Since 1978, Medicine and doctors have become the most regulated sector of the American economy.

Five years ago, I predicted one consequence. A doctor shortage. Why ?

A few years ago, it was reported that 10,000 doctors were leaving UK every year. How has the NHS dealt with this shortage?

By importing third world doctors.

The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) will soon begin a major campaign to recruit health workers from other countries to meet growing staff shortages.

Reports suggest a strategy has been drawn up to target a number of countries around the world, including poorer nations outside Europe.

One estimate in March this year said the NHS will need 5,000 extra nurses every year – three times the figure it currently recruits annually.

But what about the countries that it will recruit from – what impact will it have on them?

Where do non-UK staff come from?
The NHS already recruits globally to meet its staffing needs.

More than 12% of the workforce reported their nationality as not British, according to a report published last year.

How are we dealing with our doctor shortage ? By adding “Practitioners” instead of doctors.

How did this begin? In 1978, a new federal program was created called “Professional Standards Review Organizations.”

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“Green” Energy: Materials-Intensive–And It Matters

There is now considerable momentum behind wind and solar power generation.  In addition to the governments pushing these technologies, there are many companies intending to profit by manufacturing and implementing these systems–also companies intending to get “sustainability” points for using them–and a nontrivial part of the financing industry licking their chops at the prospect of raising the necessary capital.

While wind and solar systems do not directly consume fuels, they do consume capital, that capital representing the labor and materials (and also the energy, in various forms) necessary to manufacture and install them.  Some of these materials are relatively scarce at present, and are sourced from problematic locations under questionable conditions.

Here is an interesting and quite detailed study on “green” materials and sourcing options, from the International Energy Agency.  Worth careful reading for anyone interested in energy issues, technologies, and politics.  Note that in addition to China’s development of its internal resources of the relevant materials, that country is developing strong trade and financing relationships…which may evolve to neo-colonial or even full-colonial relationships…with other countries possessing such resources.

And here are a pair of articles arguing that the only way for the US to acquire the requisite materials for a “green” energy transition will require close collaboration with China…that if the two greatest greenhouse-gas emitters on this planet can’t work together, we’re all going to be living in a more or less literal hell. The authors of these pieces don’t seem to be very concerned about the risks of US dependence on China for our energy supply; they seem more concerned about the risks of a cold war (anti-China) mentality.  (It is also interesting that the word ‘nuclear’ doesn’t appear in either article.)

Comes now a Reuters article, which asserts that: The Biden administration is considering a plan to import the bulk of the materials needed to build electric vehicles and the batteries that power them instead of mining them domestically — a nod to environmental groups that make up a key part of the Democratic constituency, according to a report.  The article goes on to quote an administration source as saying, referring to mining, that “it’s not that hard to dig a hole”…a comment which interestingly echoes Michael Bloomberg’s assertions about farming–“I could teach anybody, even people in this room, no offense intended, to be a farmer…You dig a hole, you put a seed in, you put dirt on top, add water, up comes the corn.”  (Bloomberg also made similarly dismissive remarks about manufacturing jobs)

On the other hand, a post at the Seeking Alpha investment blog asserts that Contrary to Rumors, the Biden Administration is Not Abandoning Lithium–that on the contrary, they want to expand both domestic and international supply of this material.  (The author of this piece also notes critically that the Reuters article did not reference a single named source.)

But even if the Biden administration does throw some money at domestic mining and processing, environmental objections and litigation are likely to slow things down considerably…a Trump-style president might be willing and able to blow past such constraints, but Biden/Harris, given their dependence on their party’s extreme Left, will likely find it easier to placate environmentalists by combining a US emphasis on vehicle electrification and “green” energy with a de facto sourcing policy of acquiring most of the relevant materials from outside the United States–including China–which allowing most US mining and bulk processing initiatives to bog down in red tape.

Here’s a follow-up article from Reuters.

As the IEA article notes, “green” energy represents a shift from a fuel-intensive to a materials-intensive energy system.  Few of the prominent/influential advocates of such a shift seem to have given much thought to where those required materials might actually come from.

Wind and solar are more capital-intensive than are fossil-fuel power sources, and mining requires considerable capital as well.  It seems likely to me that the worldwide push for “green” energy and electric vehicles will drive enough capital demands–whether via government or private financing–to have a material upward impact on interest rates.

American Gulag

Now that we have our very own American ‘Zampolitz” – political enforcers looking over all of our shoulders, tirelessly searching for the tiniest deviation from what has been ordained as orthodox by the wokerati – it looks as if we have our own gulag mini-archipelago. So mini, in fact that it is more of a single island. And mercifully not in Siberia, and the inhabitant prisoners are not being starved and worked to death doing hand labor on massive infrastructure projects. Not yet, anyway.

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The Fear Which Keeps the New Ruling Elite Awake at Night

(Found this short essay through Ace of Spades this morning, and found it interesting. The contempt displayed by our political and social bi-coastal elite towards the flyover country, working class has become especially marked of late.)

Participants in the Jan. 6 event are dangerous because they are unbelievers. They cannot be bribed into drinking the fake, racial grievance Kool-Aid at a time when being a “good citizen” means embracing falsehoods, it is this honesty that truly does make them dangerous.

The America Political Chernobyl

The meltdown wasn’t caused by engineers but by the Soviet political system’s dogma.

 

Nothing enrages my family, friends and colleagues more than when I assert that contemporary US political divisions are the same as those since the beginning of recorded history: ideology, race, and religion, rather than (easily ignored) Trump tweets (or the political spin thereof). So I will proffer that his tweets were divisive in that they challenged Progressive Democratic beliefs regarding these factors, but neither should be accepted on faith if America is to avoid an economic meltdown.

 

Empires and State Religions

The Soviet System’s accomplishments from Stalin’s time – industrialization and WW II, urbanization, restoration and expansion of Imperial Russia, etc., and the space achievements under Khrushchev were so impressive that American intellectuals generally agreed with Khrushchev’s “we will bury you” right up to Chernobyl in 1986. The plant failed because the Soviet system of top-down authority and suppression of the truth forced operators to ignore the inevitable failure and instead follow orders that guaranteed a meltdown.

 

Gorbachev’s glasnost” (openness) and perestroika (restructuring) in response to the disaster removed the pillars of the Soviet system – adherence to beliefs given the status of religious dogma – causing it to collapse, something  Austrian economists had considered inevitable. Russia restored the Orthodox Church, but without any historical political legacy based on individual sovereignty, it morphed into a kleptocratic autocracy and a return to Russian Imperialism and military aggression.

 

Whether or not China discovered America in 1421 (or had a greater Empire than the Incas) it was a mercantilist empire several centuries ahead of the British in scope, science and technology, requiring “tribute” (kowtow) in return for protection and trade. Religion wasn’t an obstacle to entrepreneurial capitalism until Mao replaced de fact religious freedom with communist ideology in the early 20th century. China’s economic liberalization begun in 1978, that eventually led to a flowering of entrepreneurship in China’s attempt to restore and expand its earlier mercantilist empire, was accompanied by some religious freedom. Had political liberalizations followed, China’s demographics – a population four and a half times that of the US – might have already buried us.

 

Churchill may not have saved the British empire in the world wars, but the Empire saved his little island nation. At its 1920 peak it controlled about a quarter of the world’s land mass and population. Britain is a protestant Christian nation, which most analysts conclude fosters property rights and capitalism. The Church of England seceded from the Roman Catholic Church to eliminate the sovereignty of the Pope common to European empires at the time. The British legacy of democratic government and individual freedom and responsibility, the cornerstone of a market economy (admittedly at times too crony and mercantilist) is the source of its economic success and that of its former colonies, including the United States.

 

Uniting church and state elevates political ideology to infallible dogma accepted on faith. The U.S. Founding Fathers, following Britain’s lead, founded a Christian nation that guaranteed individual freedom of religion but forbade the formal establishment of a state religion.

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The Erector Set

Here is an old post from my own blog. I thought it deserved another go.

Glenn Reynolds today has a link to Lionel Trains in the anticipation of Christmas. I had Lionel trains and eventually had HO gauge trains, as well. When I had sons old enough to play with trains, I built an elaborate train set in my garage. Then I learned that southern California is not the place for toy trains. The boys were outdoors all the time and the train set gathered dust.

Another toy that kids today will never have the chance to enjoy is the Erector Set. There is still a small source for this toy but the glory days of the Erector Set were long ago. The toy was invented by A.C. Gilbert in 1913. The story is interesting. Gilbert was a Yale Medical School graduate and had also won a gold medal, for the pole vault, in the 1908 Olympic Games. He had a new design bamboo pole that he used in his winning vault and he sold these, as well as other toys.

Like many residents of New Haven, Connecticut, he often took the train to New York City; and on one trip in 1911 he was inspired with what would be the most popular of his dozens of inventions.

Watching out the train window as some workmen positioned and riveted the steel beams of an electrical power-line tower, Gilbert decided to create a children’s construction kit: not just a toy, but an assemblage of metal beams with evenly spaced holes for bolts to pass through, screws, bolts, pulleys, gears and eventually even engines. A British toy company called Meccano Company was then selling a similar kit, but Gilbert’s Erector set was more realistic and had a number of technical advantages — most notably, steel beams that were not flat but bent lengthwise at a 90-degree angle, so that four of them nested side-to-side formed a very sturdy, square, hollow support beam.

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“The Strategic Genius Behind Allowing Qatari Suitcases of Cash into Gaza”

Via Lex:

Political analysts were likely no less surprised. I’m certainly one of them, having looked on in amazement ever since the reemergence of Hamas violence in early 2018 after three and a half years of quiet. Why did the Israeli government, with Benjamin Netanyahu firmly at its helm, tolerate renewed Hamas missile strikes, then missiles and incendiary balloons, then missiles and incendiary balloons and rioting along the fence dividing Hamas- controlled Gaza and Israel?
 
This is to say nothing of the high-profile visits of the Qatari special envoy, who brought suitcases full of millions of dollar bills to be placed in Hamas coffers—either directly or indirectly with Israel’s permission.
 
[. . .]
 
The mystery was solved on the fourth night of the offensive, when the Israeli Air Force made aviation history by amassing, over the small space of Gaza, 160 fighter jets and other air vehicles to pound and destroy—over a mere 40 minutes—the “Hamas Metro”: a vast array of interlocking tunnels Hamas had dug to protect its command posts, ease the movement of its terrorists, and enable the transport of its missiles and other ordnance.
 
What Netanyahu and the IDF did unto Hezbollah on a much smaller scale two years ago they repeated successfully on a far larger scale against Hamas. Israel, having discovered and then meticulously monitored Hezbollah tunneling activities across the northern border, waited for the expensive tunnels to be dug and then destroyed them just as they were about to be completed. It was Hamas’s turn to be similarly duped.

Read the whole thing.

Giap’s Insight

Via Lex: Hamas’s forever war against Israel has a glitch, and it isn’t Iron Dome

[The two retired Israeli generals] were avid students of military history, including of the Vietnam conflict. They applied for visas and made a special request to the Vietnamese authorities: to meet General Vo Nguyen Giap.
 
Unexpectedly, the request was approved. Giap agreed to meet them. When the Israelis arrived in Vietnam, they sat down with the man who by then had spent decades as his country’s defense minister. It was a long meeting, as [Gen.] Ben Hanan would later recall to Eran Lerman, a former top-ranked IDF intelligence officer and later deputy national security adviser. Lerman, now at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, told the story to this writer.

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Dr. Peter McCullough on the Response to Covid

The best thing I’ve encountered on the medical and governmental responses to Covid: An interview by John Leake with Dr. Peter McCullough.

Interview: https://vimeo.com/553060860 — leaves no doubt about what was known and when.

Dr. McCullough’s background: https://www.cardiometabolichealth.org/peter-mccullough.html

Interviewer, John Leake: https://www.coldalongtime.com/pages/about-us

McCullough is good on integrative medicine, as well as conventional.

A response by the interviewer to a question about motives for hiding effective treatments from the public:

“Dr. McCullough was careful to avoid speculation about motive. He encouraged investigative authors like me to try to figure out why extraordinary occurrences like the fake Lancet report occurred. What he has witnessed has led him to believe that there has been a coordinated effort to suppress early outpatient therapies like Hydroxychloroquine and Ivermectin, even though they have long been FDA approved for treating other conditions. In an effort to ascertain motive, it is useful to consider the record of Pfizer, which pled guilty to US criminal charges and 2009 and has a long rap sheet of civil judgements against it for harmfully misrepresenting its products. The company booked $3.5 billion in revenue from its Emergency Authorization Use vaccine in the first quarter of this year. Following standard investigative practice, a logical inference can be drawn from these facts — namely, that inexpensive outpatient therapies were suppressed in order to pave the way for mandatory mass vaccination. To prove that this was indeed the case will require further investigation.”