“Lies, misrepresentations and sources that don’t exist”

The desperation of the left in trying to find something, anything, to pin on PDT has reached a new level of intensity with the release of Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury. Based on the tried and true process, now being perfected across the media, of all the news I can make up that fits the narrative, we have even among the least credible statements ever made, that PDT didn’t really want to win the White House at all. Since the book is policy free from what I have read so far, nothing in it is likely to affect Trump’s electability. It will be the same empty heads on the left who think Obama was just peachy versus those who would like to see the American Republic continue on into the future. This is PDT’s response in the story about the book from The Oz.

“I authorised Zero access to White House (actually turned him down many times) for author of phony book! I never spoke to him for book. Full of lies, misrepresentations and sources that don’t exist,” Mr Trump tweeted on Thursday.

But Wolff countered: “I absolutely spoke to the President. Whether he realised it was an interview or not. I don’t know, but it certainly was not off the record.”

“Lies, misrepresentations and sources that don’t exist.” Sounds like everything else you find out about PDT in the media. There is such a hunger for anything that attempts to damage The President among the left that if anyone can be thought of as deranged it is his enemies. For a different view, you might try this: The Great Experiment by Victor Davis Hanson. First there were eight years of a far-left “progressive” agenda to be followed by four or even eight years of conservative governance. That is the experiment.

Whatever Donald J. Trump’s political past and vociferous present, his first year of governance is most certainly as hard conservative as Barack Obama’s eight years were hard progressive. We are watching a rare experiment in political governance play out, as we go, in back-to-back fashion, from one pole to its opposite.

Among Obama’s signature foreign policies were “lead from behind” in Libya; quietude during the Iranian anti-theocratic protests; strategic patience with North Korea; the multifaceted and often clandestine efforts to swing the Iran deal; the Russian “reset”; realignment away from Israel, Egypt, and the Gulf monarchies; and rapprochement with Cuba, Venezuela, and the South American Communist and socialist states. . . .

[Domestically] identity politics, progressive policing of ideas on campus, an end to campus free expression that only empowered hate speech, the politicization and expansion of the deep state, along with open borders and new laxities governing citizenship and voting would usher in new, kinder and gentler race, ethnicity, and gender agendas. A single EPA director, one high IRS commissioner, or a federal-appeals-court justice would now exercise far more political power than any congressional committee. The “law” — in the sense of customary non-surveillance of American citizens, disinterested attorneys general, or a nonpartisan bureaucracy — was redefined as whatever would best serve social justice and equality.

On the economic side, more regulations, larger government, more entitlements, higher taxes, zero interest rates, and doubling the national debt were designed to redistribute income and “spread the wealth.” The idea that the stock market could get much higher, that GDP could ever hit 3 percent or above, or that industry and manufacturing would return to the U.S. was caricatured as the ossified pipe dreams of discredited supply-siders.

And in contrast we now have and can look forward to more of this:

Free-market economics, deterrent foreign policies, and conservative cultural reform that are championed in the abstract in think tanks, on radio and television by conservative pundits, and in magazines and journals by conservative intellectuals are currently being put to work concretely in the real world, a rare occurrence. Or they’re being implemented as least as much as possible with a president and a Congress of the same party behind them and within a set tenure.

All sounds good to me. What I can’t work out is why it doesn’t all sound good to them.

Posted in American politics | 55 Comments

Open Forum: January 6, 2018

Posted in Open Forum | 1,808 Comments

So who has the scariest biggest red button after all?

After you’ve been negotiating with unions in the New York property market, what’s so tough about international relations? According to the story that has just been released, North Korea agrees to high-level talks with South Korea on Jan. 9.

Seoul says North Korea has agreed to hold high-level talks with South Korea next Tuesday.

Unification Ministry spokesman Baik Tae-hyun said Friday that North Korea has accepted Seoul’s offer to meet at the border village of Panmunjom that day to discuss how to cooperate on next month’s Winter Olympics and how to improve overall ties.

The announcement came hours after the United States said it has agreed to delay joint military exercises with South Korea until after the Winter Olympics. The Games are to be held in the South Korean city of Pyeongchang.

The rival Koreas are seeking to improve their strained ties after a period of rising tension over the North’s push to expand its nuclear and missile arsenals.

It’s only a step, but a trip of a thousand miles must start with that single step.

And now for Iran.

Posted in International | 22 Comments

Amazing. Migrants boost crime rates in Germany

Who would have expected it?

Posted in Cultural Issues, Rafe | 22 Comments

Antonin Scalia

Antonin Scalia was an associate Justice of the US Supreme Court. Although Spartacus is not a legal scholar or lawyer (recall prior disclosure about being able to see his reflection in a mirror), Spartacus considers the late Justice Scalia was on of the best Supreme Court judges ever.

Nominated to the Supreme Court in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan, Justice Scalia also holds a special place in Spartacus’ heart because it was Scalia’s words that inspired Spartacus to write (to the extent that what he produces is actually “writing”).

In response to an interviewer question about whether he ever penned a reply letter to a newspaper or other hostile correspondence, Scalia replied that he has written many letters in response; and then binned them all. That, for Spartacus, was the invitation to put finger to keyboard.  Many years of Spartacus’ written rants also went into the bin.

Justice Scalia unexpectedly died in February 2016 and his replacement to the US Supreme Court was a political battle of the highest order. It could be argued that the battle to replace Justice Scalia contributed in some way to the election of President Donald Trump.

Upon his death, President Obama nominated Merrick Garland as his replacement. And so commenced a 12 month battle for the control of the US Supreme Court.

The US Constitution requires that Supreme Court Justices (and many other roles) be nominated by the President and confirmed by the US Sentate. The majority leader of the Senate then as now was Senator Mitch McConnell. Senator McConnell refused to even allow a hearing to consider the nomination of Judge Garland on the basis that it was an election year and the 45th President, whomever it would be, should be allowed to nominate the successor to Justice Scalia, rather than the lame duck 44th President (Obama).

It was a high risk strategy given the then expectations of a Hillary Clinton presidency.

To cut a long story short, Judge Garland was not appointed and Judge Neil Gorsich was. Many commentators have suggested that the appointed of Gorsich to the US Supreme Court has possibly been the most important, most consequential and most lasting decision made President Trump. At least so far.

But back to Justice Scalia.

Over the holidays, Spartacus has been reading a book on the collected speeches of Justice Scalia. It is called Scalia Speaks and here it is. Spartacus is perhaps 2/3 through, but the last speech read was by Scalia given in Poland in 2009. The speech was titled Mullahs of the West: Judges as Moral Arbiters. A copy of this speech is available here.

Like pretty much all of Scalia’s writings, the speech was clear, crisp and beautifully argued.

Obviously there are differences between the governing model of Australia and the US, but notwithstanding, Spartacus would commend this relatively short document to all Cats. Here is a small sample – connected but not contiguous sentences:

In the first half of the last century, American political theory was obsessed with the expert. The key to effective government, it was thought, was to take the direction of government agencies out of the hands of politicians, and to place it within the control of men experienced and knowledgeable within the various fields of government regulation.

….

It is fair to say that the project was a grand failure – for two basic reasons. First, and most important, it was discovered (and this should have been no surprise) that many of the most important issues to be decided by government agencies – even agencies dealing with seemingly technical fields such as telecommunications and transportation-have no right or wrong answers that experts can discover. They involve social preferences which, in a democracy, can only be expressed through the political process.

Australian energy, telecommunications and what other policies have been handed over to the “experts”.

Follow I Am Spartacus on Twitter at @Ey_am_Spartacus

Posted in Uncategorized | 15 Comments

Frydenberg falling short in his attempts to defray regulatory-induced energy costs

The following is a condensed version of an article I have had published in Quadrant on-line

The Australian broke a story about dissension in the Coalition ranks regarding the “in principle” decision, announced by Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg, to allow Australian firms to acquit their carbon dioxide emission obligations by buying overseas credits. 

Mr Frydenberg said this merely advanced a decision to “consider” these measures taken when Tony Abbott was at the helm.  And when Mr Abbott and others denounced the option of overseas emissions purchases, which will, of course, be either totally bogus or downright fraudulent, Minister Frydenberg made a smart-alec comment: “It is worth noting that Mr Abbott’s position on international permits is closer to the Greens than that of Australia’s big employers.”

Perhaps Minister Frydenberg was simply trying to claim a continuity of support for what he saw as the least-worst option available to him, but bagging his former leader made him appear to be undermining a rival to his likely and widely mooted ambition of becoming the next leader of the Liberal Party.

Faced by the reverence of Mr Turnbull, and his departmental head, Martin Parkinson, for wind and solar energy, the Frydenberg strategy has been to ensure the costs of the policy are fully understood, including requiring the inherent unreliability of “renewable” plant is recognised by forcing those contracting to buy it also to buy a “firming” contract as insurance for when it is unavailable.  This feeds into the National Energy Guarantee, which will allegedly provide us reliable energy at $110-115 per MWh (a little over twice the price that would be available under the coal-based system now being deliberately destroyed).  It will also provide a pathway to meeting Australia’s targets under the Paris Climate Change Agreement which specify emission reductions of 26%-28% (50-52 per cent per capita) on 2005 levels by 2030.

The progress on that path — how each year’s target will be set and what disciplines will enforce it — are all left unexplained.

These matters take on an ethereal nature when set against the reality of international developments.  Now that Trump has taken the US out of the Paris Agreement, countries having agreed to abatement measures account for only one quarter of global emissions.  Even their one-quarter share of emissions overstates their importance since any carbon taxing actions they take will ensure their energy-intensive industries shift to developed countries with no carbon taxes.  Australia is already seeing this with the departure of aluminium smelters, previously the nations’ paramount manufacturing sector (Kurri Kurri in NSW and Point Henry in Victoria have already closed).

Compounding this is the actions of President Trump in making the US more business friendly.  Not only has the president rejected the Paris Agreement, reversing the Obama Era restraints on coal and gas, but his taxation reforms and deregulatory agendas are proving extremely attractive.  The Pratt organisation, the Visy group of companies, has committed to a $2 billion expansion of its US pulp and paper business. Australia is too uncompetitive for the Pratts to make such an investment at home.

The search is on for palliatives to the damage from wind and solar.  The Prime Minister’s favoured Snowy 2 pumped-hydro plan was initially costed at $2 billion.  But the feasibility study puts this at $4 billion, with one observer estimating an outcome price at over $8 billion for a largely worthless investment.

Australia seems a long distance from adopting the novel Trump solution of allowing the market to operate freely and without subsidies, a system that at the turn of the present century gave us the cheapest electricity on earth.

Posted in Uncategorized | 32 Comments

Economic theory and junk science

You may have heard me mention once or twice before that Keynesian economics is junk science, but just in case you missed it I am going to mention it again. What has brought all this to mind is reading the front page story in The Oz in the context of the booming economy in the US. In The Oz we have this: Bill shock as standard of living slumps. In the United States we have this: US private sector added 250,000 jobs in Dec, vs estimate of 190,000: ADP. It also mentions that “the report helped send the Dow to break the 25,000 mark for the first time”. Of course, here in Australia we have something else instead:

Australians have endured their longest period of falling living standards in more than a quarter of a century as growth in costs outstripped earnings for the fifth consecutive quarter, leaving households worse off than they were six years ago.

The moronic focus on public spending to lift our economies is such dead stupidity, but even more dead stupidity is that economists continue with Y=C+I+G as the mantra of macroeconomic thought. I have just been sent my copyedited article that will be published in June: “Making Sense of Classical Theory”. It is an attempt to remind others that there was not only an economic theory before the publication of The General Theory in 1936, but that theory was vastly superior to the theory that disfigures our economic textbooks today.

As it happens, I have just been re-reading the third edition of my Free Market Economics. There is, unfortunately, nothing like it. Perfectly clear and as easy to read as a blog post but entirely framed around classical economic theory. The economics of John Stuart Mill, the greatest economist who has ever lived, recast for the 21st century. If you don’t want to buy it yourself, just get your library to buy a copy.

The reality remains that our living standards will continue to descend if those who make policy continue to believe that public expenditures like the Snowy Mountain Project Mark II will make the economy grow. It will, in exactly the same way as the NBN.

Posted in Classical Economics | 35 Comments

Government and Transport Technology

Further to Spartacus’ rant the other day about the pathway to the elimination of cash, consider the evolution of self driving cars.

Lets us not fool ourselves. Self driving cars are coming.  Don’t believe Spartacus. Listen to Bob Lutz, a former vice chairman and head of product development at General Motors and also former senior executive with Ford, Chrysler, BMW and Opel. According to Mr Lutz:

The end state will be the fully autonomous module with no capability for the driver to exercise command. You will call for it, it will arrive at your location, you’ll get in, input your destination and go to the freeway.

We are not there yet, but it is not a matter of technology.  The technology is pretty much here already.  What is not yet developed is the social and regulatory architecture.

Consider for example a car hurtling along when a young child runs out in front. There is not sufficient time or space for the car to stop and its only options are either to hit the child or to swerve away and hit another car killing its occupants. What should the driver do?

With a human driver, given the limited time to decide, the driver will revert to instinct or reflex and the outcome would have a randomness to it.  But with self driving cars, the car’s computer would be programmed to make pre-determined assessments. The car’s response could be random or the car’s response would be to preserve other drivers on the road or to preserve the child.  The self driving car’s computer may even have an algorithm that estimates the age of the “road runner” and may have different options depending on the age of runner.  These decisions would need to be decided and coded in advance. And the legislative and insurance architecture would need to be in sync.

But consider if all the cars on the road were self driving. In the scenario above, the car could swerve away from the child and the other car will synchronously swerve away too, thus protecting everyone. But that synchronization could only happen if both cars are self driving.

And so it will be argued that it is safer for everyone if no-one drives and so for this and other reasons governments will outlaw human driving. Fewer accidents. Less traffic because of speed and navigation optimisation across cars.

So now with every single payment and receipt being tracked and logged because of the elimination of cash, most every single movement will be tracked and logged also. And in a bonus, because the transport will have to be paid for, the payment for the movement will also be tracked and logged.

Now there are clearly some pluses to this. No more traffic fines. No more parking fines. No more parking meters. But don’t think for a second that state and local governments will re-engineer themselves for a lower tax revenue life. Perhaps they will start selling your movement data.

But the big state is about to get even bigger.  All in the name of consumer outcomes.

Follow I Am Spartacus on Twitter at @Ey_am_Spartacus

Posted in Uncategorized | 43 Comments

Musical interlude

Posted in Libertarians don't live by argument alone | 5 Comments

If their presenters are this stupid what must the people who watch be like?

Let me rejig the post so that the punchline comes first.

Of course, the bit about Trump and North Korea, which is discussed next, might be compared with this from Instapundit right now.

What really is there to say after what comes next? There is no irony deep enough to cover it. We are far out and beyond even the wildest extension of Muggridge’s Law anyone could possibly imagine.

So now this from Twitchy: CNN busts fake news: Trump doesn’t REALLY have a big NUKE button on his desk. Be sure you read the final bit of this post just to see where we are at.

An actual nuclear blast would feel like a bit of an understatement at this point now that we’ve felt the shockwaves of President Trump’s tweet Tuesday night reverberate through social media and the press. In case you missed it, here it is again, currently hovering just above 420,000 likes:

North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the “Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!

Sure, CNN thought it was breaking news and wondered if threatening a nuclear strike violated Twitter’s terms of service. Check out this clip of Fox News’ Greg Gutfeld busting a gut over it:

Perhaps in a bid to calm the country’s nerves a bit, CNN’s Chris Cillizza did a bit of fact-checking Wednesday, revealing that President Trump doesn’t actually have a big button on his desk that launches nuclear missiles at North Korea.

No, Trump doesn’t have a big nuclear button on his desk | Analysis by @CillizzaCNN http://cnn.it/2DZHvEj 

Cillizza reports:

Practically speaking, it makes lots and lots of sense that there is no nuclear button on the president’s desk. As a clumsy person myself, I can imagine a president accidentally bumping into it — or tripping and landing a hand on it. Not good.

Now, that said: The power to launch a nuclear strike does rest entirely in the hands of Trump. Or, more accurately, in the hands of a small rotating group of military personnel who carry a briefcase that contains the nuclear codes.

Yeah, we know … remember the time Vice President Joe Biden in a speech pointed out the military aide who travels with him carrying the nuclear launch codes? CNN didn’t seem flustered about that, though.

Is everyone a little calmer now, or was that piece written just to soothe Brian Stetler and Anderson Cooper?

Now to return to what I have already placed at the top of this post. A comparison of the competence of the current president with Bill Clinton in their ability to handle nuclear weaponry. This, to repeat, is from Instapundit right now.

What really is there to say after that? There is no irony deep enough to cover this. We are far out and beyond even the wildest extension of Muggridge’s Law anyone could possibly imagine.

Posted in Media, Politics of the Left | 33 Comments