Rebellious

Americans – both those born on this soil and those who weren’t but who got here as fast as they could – are natural rebels, stiff-necked, stubborn, and not inclined to bow the knee and truckle to those who think they are our betters. Oh, it might not seem so in these dolorous times; too many of our fellows seem just too ready to be passive, landless serfs with an appetite for crumbs and approving notice from the wanna-be-nobility’s table, and too damned many outright want to be the nobles, or their willing henchmen/women/whatever. But a preponderance of us are not that ready to be pushed into servitude to the State – witness the drubbing at the pools that the voters of Wyoming gave to the presumed princess-heir of the landed house of Cheney yesterday. Losing an election by a 40% margin is not just the voters saying ‘no, thanks’, it’s the voters escorting the candidate to the city limits, brandishing buckets of tar and bales of feathers while snarling, ‘…and don’t come back!’
Ah well – I have long disapproved of political dynasties – the Kennedys, the Bushes, the Murkowskis, the Gores and their similar and lesser-known political ilk. The only political dynasty that was ever any good for America as republic and in the long term was that of John Adams, and that was back in the day when we all were pretty adamant that there would be no patents of nobility issued, tither formally or otherwise in this blessed experiment in citizen governance. For myself, I hated the choice I had between two scions of political dynasties in the 2000 election. What – a choice between two sons of political privilege? I think I held my nose and voted blindly, and can’t remember who for, not that it made much of a difference then or now. Although one of the two has retreated to a relatively quiet life in Texas, and the other has chosen to humiliate himself on the international stage as one of those campaigners for radical actions to oppose climate change, traveling hither and yon at great expense on energy-spewing jets.

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The Raid on Mar-a-Lago.

The FBI raid on Trump’s residence is unprecedented in American history. The pretext for the raid and the refusal to allow Trump’s lawyers to witness what was done is also a gross deviation from normal behavior.

Conservative Treehouse a pretty good theory of the reasons.

The motives of the DOJ and FBI are clear when you have a full comprehension of the background. However, it’s the threats and betrayals against President Trump that most people have a hard time understanding. Why he was blocked is clear, but how Trump was blocked is where you realize the scale of the threat that exists within this corrupt system.

Trump has for years been promising to declassify documents showing how the “Russiagate” conspiracy developed, including the FBI role in it.

By the time we get to September of 2018 the basic outlines of the Trump-Russia targeting operation were clear. However, the Robert Mueller investigation was at its apex, and anyone in/around Donald Trump was under investigation for ancillary issues that had nothing to do with Russia.

It was into this fray of constant false narratives that President Trump first made statements that he would declassify documents related to his targeting. It was after Trump made those statements when the real motives of putting Robert Mueller as a special counsel became clear.

With Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused from anything to do with the Trump-Russia investigation, it was Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein who delivered the message to President Trump in September of 2018, shortly before the midterm election, that any action by him to release documents, now under the purview of the Mueller special counsel, would be considered an act of “obstruction” by the DOJ/FBI people charged with investigating him.

What he might have done is to bring some of those documents with him when he left the White House. Of course, that is speculation since the warrant was never disclosed to the Trump lawyers.

In essence the DOJ and FBI, along with white house counsel and a collaborating senate and media, kept President Trump from declassifying and releasing documents by threatening him with impeachment and/or prosecution if he defied their authority. The threats created a useful Sword of Damocles, and blocked Trump from acting to make documents public.

In the months that followed President Trump frequently made public statements and tweets about the frustration of documents not being declassified and released despite his instructions to do so. Many Trump supporters also began expressing frustration.

The external debate and consternation surrounded how the Administrative State has seemingly boxed-in President Trump through the use of the Mueller/Weissman counterintelligence probe, authorized by Rod Rosenstein, where President Trump was the target of the investigation.

A widely held supporter perspective was that President Trump could expose the fraudulent origination of the counterintelligence investigation; of which he is now a target; if he were to declassify a series of documents as requested by congress and allies of his administration. This approach would hopefully remove the sword of Damocles.

I had a suspicion that Trump might have been in contact with the FBI whistleblowers mentioned by Senators Grassley and Johnson. That is also a reasonable theory.

Newsweek has a typical left wing excuse.

The raid on Mar-a-Lago was based largely on information from an FBI confidential human source, one who was able to identify what classified documents former President Trump was still hiding and even the location of those documents, two senior government officials told Newsweek.

This is ludicrous as the FBI with full cooperation by Trump, searched these boxes of records in June. They even required their own padlock to seal the room.

Both senior government officials say the raid was scheduled with no political motive, the FBI solely intent on recovering highly classified documents that were illegally removed from the White House.

I doubt a 10 year old child would believe this rot.

A threshold has been crossed. Many on the left seem to cheer this on as their obsessive hatred of Trump and his voters is unending. I just hope Trump has good personal security. I don’t trust the Secret Service any more than I trust the FBI.

The Light of Rutupaie Going Out

Rutupaie, the modern Richborough Castle, in Kent, England – was once the site of a notable Roman military garrison graced by an enormous marble triumphal arch visible to ships arriving in the port, a tall lighthouse, and a thriving civilian town with an amphitheater. The lighthouse and the triumphal arch are long gone, but a large portion of the circuit of twenty-five-foot-high walls still remain visible above ground. This was the terminus of Watling Streat, a keystone in the network of carefully engineered roads which covered Britain like a net. It was most likely the site of the original Roman bridgehead in the time of the Emperor Claudius, which would in large part become the province of Britannia. Rutupaie became the major port of entry all throughout the four centuries that Roman power held sway over that far and misty isle, their ships and galleys guided into safe harbor after dark by the fire atop the lighthouse.

In one of the opening chapters of the novel The Lantern Bearers, a young Roman-British soldier makes his decision to remain in Britain when the legions are finally and officially withdrawn by order of the Emperor. Having deserted his unit as they are on the point of departure for the last time, he lights the great fire atop the lighthouse, as the galleys row away on the evening tide; a last defiant fire, as darkness descends. Peter Grant, who blogs at Bayou Renaissance Man noted this week that Rosemary Sutcliff’s series of novels about the Romans in Britain and the long, slow, painful dying of Roman civilization there were being republished at a reasonable price in eBook. This reminded me again of my very favorite historical author; The finest and most evocative historical novel ever in English is either the Rider of the White Horse or her retelling of the Arthurian epic, Sword at Sunset. Marion Zimmer Bradley’s version, The Mists of Avalon, is overwrought trash in comparison.

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Nancy Pelosi and I Have Something in Common

…both of us will benefit from increases in the price of Nvidia stock.

Paul Pelosi acquired 20,000 shares of NVDA (via a call option exercise) in June of this year.  I’ve been an NVDA shareholder for several years, and sold part of the position at prices considerably more favorable than today’s price of $178/share.

Given that the CHIPS act, which is intended to benefit the US semiconductor industry, is now before Congress, concerns have been raised about whether Paul Pelosi’s purchase might have been influenced by insider information related by his wife.

I note that Nvidia is not thrilled with the bill as currently drafted: it provides benefits for semiconductor manufacturing companies, and Nvidia is not a manufacturer…it is a  ‘fabless semiconductor company’, ie, a design, software, and marketing house.  The actual manufacturing is done by contract manufacturers, especially Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company.  Some market participants do,  however, have hopes that in the final version of the bill the subsides will be expanded to encompass chip-design companies.

The bill would include ‘guardrails’ to prohibit recipients of the subsidies from making investments to expand chip manufacturing capacity in countries of concern, namely China. There may be an exemption for countries-of-concern whether that chips being made are at >28nm notes, ie, a long way from high-end.  But one industry analyst said:

The guardrail doesn’t change that most of Intel’s or Texas Instruments’ test and packaging is done in China and will continue to be done in China. What use are new fabs for national security if they have to go to China for test and packaging anyways?

I think there are a couple of issues here.  First is the issue of Congresspeople potentially profiting from inside information.  The Pelosi buy does look very bad from this standpoint, especially when there are headlines associating Nancy Pelosi’s support for the CHIPS bill with increases in certain stocks–which include NVDA.  It’s quite possible that this particular transaction is an innocent one, given that the bill as it stands is not one that Nvidia would have preferred, and also that NVDA price is now low enough, in the context of recent history and the general excellence and positioning of the company, that one could develop an entirely reasonable ‘buy’ case without benefit of any inside information.  But the issue of officeholders profiting from inside information is a serious one, and becomes more serious with every further entwinement of government into the details of the economy.

But there is an even more important issue: Do we really want the level of investment in particular industries to be largely controlled by government?  It is true that the semiconductor industry is vital to the US economy and to US national defense…but this is true of a lot of other industries as well.  How about pharmaceuticals and their precursor materials, for example?…I seem to remember threats from Chinese sources to let American burn in the fire of Covid by withholding pharmaceuticals.  What about large transformers, which are vital to the electrical grid and take a long time to manufacture?  What about key minerals, many of which are in fact present in the United States but are mostly sourced from elsewhere because of legal and cultural hostility toward mining?  What about machine tools?

I have low confidence in the ability of Congress, or of government in general, to determine what industries and what specific segments of those industries are truly vital.  There are many complex interconnections which are not easily understood.  I remember that during the pandemic, GE Healthcare was asked to produce a large number of ventilators in an accelerated timeframe. It turned out that they were using a very small contractor…a 3D printing shop, IIRC…which had been shut down as ‘nonessential’.

I’d prefer to see legislative solutions which improve the US business climate for manufacturers in general and for ‘thing’ businesses in general, to the crafting of specific ‘solutions’ for specific industries.  Legislation should deal with the general case as much as possible, rather than functioning as a Reverse Bill of Attainder.  But developing such legislation requires ability to think in abstract terms, and is not a comfortable to politicians who think mainly in terms of interest groups to be used or placated.

Here is the text of the CHIPS bill.

There is also a proposed broader US competitiveness bill, the United States Innovation and Competition Act.

Here’s a WSJ Opinion piece on the CHIPS bill and its proposed galactic expansions.

And here’s Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger and Ford CEO Jim Farley arguing the case for semiconductor subsidization.

Thoughts?

 

 

 

 

 

Starvation and Centralization

It’s now well-known that the nation of Sri Lanka has been reduced to poverty, hunger, and chaos by top-down policies requiring organic farming and forbidding the use of artificial fertilizers.  Western ‘experts’ who encouraged them onto this path are nowhere to be seen, and some of their historical posts/tweets have been deleted.

I’m reminded of a passage in Arthur Koestler’s novel Darkness at Noon.  The protagonist, Rubashov, is an Old Bolshevik who has been arrested by the Stalinist regime, and the book represents his musings while awaiting trial and likely execution.

A short time ago, our leading agriculturalist, B., was shot with thirty of his collaborators because he maintained the opinion that nitrate artificial manure was superior to potash. No. 1 is all for potash; therefore B. and the thirty had to be liquidated as saboteurs. In a nationally centralized agriculture, the alternative of nitrate or potash is of enormous importance : it can decide the issue of the next war. If No. 1 was in the right, history will absolve him … If he was wrong … 

Note that phrase in a nationally centralized agriculture.  When things are centralized, decisions become overwhelmingly important. There will be strong pressure against allowing dissidents to ‘interfere with’ what has been determined to be the One Best Way.

Of course, it is theoretically possible for a maker of centralized decisions to decide that parallel and differing paths must be pursued.  This even sometimes happens in practice.  In the Manhattan Project to develop the atomic bomb, designs were developed for use of two different types of fissionables (Plutonium and U-235) and three or four different methods for the separation of Uranium isotopes were pursued.

But the multiple-paths approach rarely seems to happen in practice.  The kind of people who rise to become key decision-makers in government rarely possess a great depth of nuance, and they are greatly influenced by confirmation bias, motivate reasoning, and political marketing considerations.

And even the most brilliant and thoughtful individuals can be wrong in a big way.  Vannevar Bush, who was FDR’s science advisor during WWII, was an unquestionably brilliant and creative man who, along with his many other contributions,  invented the mechanical analog computer and envisaged the concept of hypertext, long before the Internet and the World Wide Web.  Yet, regarding the prospect of intercontinental ballistic missiles, he wrote in 1945:

The people who have been writing these things that annoy me have been talking about a 3,000-mile, high-angle rocket, shot from one continent to another, carrying an atomic bomb, and so directed as to be a precise weapon, which would land exactly on a certain target, such as a city. I say, technically I don’t think anybody in the world knows how to do such a thing, and 1 feel confident it will not be done for a very long period of time to come. I wish the American public would leave that out of their thinking.

If Dr Bush had had complete control over American defense and aerospace research, it is likely that the US would have been much later in ICBM deployment than it in fact was.  We cannot know what the consequences of such lateness would have been, but it’s safe to say that they would not have been good.

And how likely is it that any significant number of our current experts in economics, social sciences, and various other sciences–and their political sponsors and makers of relevant decisions in various countries–are anywhere near as perceptive and forward thinking as Dr Bush was?…let alone more nearly infallible?

Want to bet your and your family’s food supply on it?