Our Favorite Statue

The local barbarians have torn down the statue of Hans Christian Heg, the immigrant abolitionist who died in the Civil war trying to free the slaves.  Sigh.  And, of course, we have the suit for a governor so there will be no leadership.  Reading such sad news led us to reading the Atlas Obscura for a little escapism.  Here is the website.  They will tell you about the book if you go there.  We found our favorite statue at the Southern Pole of Inaccessibility (SPI).

And what, you might ask, is the SPI?  It is the point on Antartica farthest from the ocean.  In simple terms, it might be the hardest place to visit in the world.  It also has an average temperature of minus 73 degrees (that is F not C if it matters to you).

And what is the statue?  The notorious Communist dictator Vladimir Lenin.  It, actually a bust on a box, was put there by the Soviets in 1958 when there was a USSR and it was Communist.

It is our favorite because of the combination of subject and location.  Any of the barbarians that what to tear down statues of white men will have a challenge getting there.  Any of the fools that think socialism is a good idea will surely freeze getting there to appreciate it.  It is close to the perfect statue for this day and age.

 

 

COVID-19 And Capitalism

Of course we know that capitalism works better than the command and control systems in socialism.  It is nice to seeKen Langone of Home Depot details examples at NRO. You should read the whole thing several times.  Here is a taste:

It was individual Americans who started socially distancing in March, as COVID-19 took hold in Italy and many mayors and governors were still calling fears of contagion from China overblown, if not bigoted. By the time our leaders came around to the crisis, millions of American workers and their employers were already taking steps to keep each other safer. And while Republicans and Democrats in Washington played politics with financial aid aimed at blunting the great economic pain necessitated by shutdowns, thousands of businesses, trade associations, and patrons were starting relief funds for the most heavily impacted. [Emphasis added]

Capitalism is nimble.  Command and control isn’t nimble and it relies on the controller being right.  Our only quibble with Ken are the words in bold.  Those folks in elected offices are not our leaders.  They are our employees.

Defectors By Joseph Kanon

For the second time Joseph has an American defect to the USSR around 1950 and then enlisted a relative to try to get them back to the USA in the sixties.  We really liked Joseph’s first effort at this plot line, The Prodigal Spy.  We were concerned when we started Defectors (with a backwards R) and saw that the plot appeared so similar.  We really enjoyed Defectors too because the plot differences soon become clear.

Frank Weeks defected from the CIA (The Agency) with his wife Joanna to the USSR circa 1949.  His brother Simon lost his government job because of it but eventually landed on his feet in publishing.  The Weeks are Boston Brahmins so Frank was reviled by his family.  It is now 1961 and Frank wants to write his memoirs and has permission from the KGB (The Service) to work with his brother Simon in Moscow.  Simon comes to Moscow and Frank tells him he has a plan to defect.  Our earliest thought on Defectors was that Joseph didn’t work very hard on this plot.

That thought was wrong.  Defectors and Prodigal are really different books.  First, Simon doesn’t trust Frank and still has feelings for Joanna.  The second reason is the location.  In the earlier book in 1969 Czechoslovakia the locals hate the USSR and The Service.  They might be helpful if they can.  In Moscow it is a different story.  The Service is supreme.  The Service takes good care of the defectors but doesn’t entirely trust them so they are kept together and have their own social circle including neighboring dachas.  That means there are lots of people for Simon not to trust.

There is a mystery in Defectors as well as moral questions from Prodigal.  In Prodigal the reader is waiting for the characters to figure it out.  Here we are not sure if Frank is trying to dump Joanna, perhaps for his widow neighbor, really defect with Joanna, prove his love to The Service, or some surprise.  Where is Joanna, once Simon’s girlfriend, in all of this?  Can we trust any of the other defectors?  And there is the privilege that The Service provides for defectors and other members as they live much better than ordinary Soviets.  We are kept guessing to the end.

Defectors comes in at a nice tight 290 pages.  It might be Joseph’s best.  It is an excellent read.

In The Event Of The Bernie

It looks less likely that The Bernie will be nominated by the Democrats but history, some of it very recent, reminds us that political fortunes change rapidly and unexpectedly.  We generally agree with Ramesh Ponnuru and his discussion of that possibility.  Yes, you should read it all if you haven’t.  Of course, generally agree means that we will have a dissent and addition.   Ramesh predicts that if The Bernie was elected president he wouldn’t get to enact his wish list but:

That doesn’t mean the U.S. would be Venezuela, or even Denmark, by the start of 2022. But it is reasonable to expect that government policy 10 or 20 years from now would be considerably more socialistic than it would be if [The Donald] were re-elected — or if Mr. Biden were elected. [Emphasis added.]

Our dissent is Ramesh’s comparison of the US and Denmark.  The US is Denmark give or take.  The 2019 Heritage ranking of economic freedom has the US at 12th at 76.8 and Denmark 14th at 76.7.  In 2018, Denmark was more economically free than the US.  Now it is possible that Ramesh doesn’t think much of the Heritage rankings (although we know of no other) and has his reasons for thinking that Denmark is less economically free.  Looking at the detail of the Heritage rankings we see that relative to Denmark the US ranks lower on fiscal health and better on government spending, i.e., we spend less.  But, as we show in bold, Ramesh is talking about socialism which should equate to economic freedom rather than just spending.

Our addition is that nominating The Bernie might be enough to tip the scales in the future.  In 1964 the GOP nominated a conservative, Barry Goldwater.  LBJ mollywaumpted Barry and the whole GOP:

Johnson’s landslide victory coincided with the defeat of many conservative Republican Congressmen. The subsequent 89th Congress would pass major legislation such as the Social Security Amendments of 1965 and the Voting Rights Act.

Wikipedia is exactly right when it says in the next sentence:

The long-term realignment of conservatives to the Republican Party continued, culminating in the 1980 presidential victory of Ronald Reagan.

Then in the next election, 1984, Reagan delivered a similar shellacking to the Democrats.  We not saying that nominating The Bernie leads to the socialist equivalent of Ronald Reagan but every conservative should be concerned about that possibility.  So we are mostly glad that the Democrats have closed ranks to stop The Bernie from being nominated.  We hope they are successful.  We are only mostly glad because the Democrats includes the press and we would like to see fair reporting.  The Frontrunner does make some strange statements.  This list is from last year.

We would like to see The Frontrunner, The Bernie, and The Donald all get similar treatment from the press.  It won’t happen.  We don’t want The Bernie nominated or elected president.  We hope that will happen.  Ramesh is right that it would be likely to have a negative impact on our freedom.

Fighting Dishonesty And Foolishness

Fighting socialism is a battle that is never won.  The following post came up on Facebook.  The format of the post would not allow copy and paste so we have tried to reproduce it exactly but typing is not our best skill.  We have bolded items that were in red in the original.  Items in [] are our comments.  The opening post was:

And nobody is advocating Communism. [We’re not sure but we know that The Bernie is a big fan.]

Then there was a link to this post:

This explains the differences perfectly! Spread the word to your non-believer friends/acquaintances.  It needs to perpetuated en masse …

The this is:

Socialism: The government owns most of the major industries. This is an extreme system that seems to fail. [To be more precise: The government owns all the means of production and this system always fails.]

Corporate Socialism: (our current system) The government mostly benefits wealthy corporations.  Most major industries are privately owned (capitalism),  but still receive massive handouts, bailouts [Bankrupt corporations are not wealthy], and other benefits at the expense of the tax payer. [it is important to remember that the poor pay little in taxes and the rich pay large amounts.] It is driven by the corporations’ ability to influence the laws with large amounts of money that results in legislation that favors their ability to make even larger amounts of money.  In this system, the wealthy become more wealthy at the expense of the lower classes.  [Well that is untrue]  This system is essentially a Plutocracy (ruled by the wealthy).

Democratic Socialism: The government mostly benefits the citizens.  [Well, some of them.]  Most major industries are privately owned (capitalism). but they have to stand on their own without handouts from government. [The previous sentence has to be among the most dishonest ever written. The only way to to Green New Deal is extremely large handouts.] The tax burden previously funneled to the wealthy corporations is used to improve the lives of citizens instead.  [Well, at best some of them.  You will need to be in the 51 percent if this is going to be democratic.]  This enables the government to fund improvements to public services such as: Police, Firemen, Libraries, roads and Interstates [Ah, good to see they included a federal item] , Education, and Healthcare.  This system is driven by the people working together and lifting each other up.  In this system the middle class thrives and poverty decreases [as much as under capitalism?] .  This system is more Democratic (ruled by the people) than our current system.

Here is a link to The Bernie’s proposals.  The paragraph about Democratic Socialism is inconsistent with his proposals.  There are many but the first three are: Medicare For All, Green New Deal, and [free} College For All.   You should find out more but we will discuss them very briefly.  It is hard to think of three more divisive proposals.  Medicare for all means if you have insurance you lose it and get what The Bernie is willing to you.

The Green New Deal means among other things the end of fossil fuels.  Related to that The Bernie says:

Ensure a just transition for communities and workers, including fossil fuel workers.

How do you think that will work?  We don’t think it will happen but if it were to happen we would expect substantial violence.  The question that socialism almost always comes to is: will the troops fire on other citizens?

Last is [free] College For All.  Do you think everyone should go to college?  Do you think it should be free?  If it is who does it benefit? Who will it benefit the most? We know the answer to the last two: The wealthy.  It is a very odd way to help the poor.

Become informed and spread the word. The good news is that nominating The Bernie will lead to many MWG posts.  Capitalism works and socialism doesn’t  It doesn’t matter what modifier you attach to socialism.  It is a perennial bad idea.

 

The Threat Of The Bernie

We often describe ourselves as capitalistic orphans because we are the splinter group that doesn’t matter.  The left is anti-capitalism while the right often fails to be pro-capitalism.  Thus, we almost always vote for the GOP but rarely get much satisfaction from it.  Does the possibility of The Bernie being nominated for president by the Democrats change that?

Rich Lowery at NRO is trying to use the threat of The Bernie to get a check from us.  He will get one this year but not right now.  He is right that the National Review has long fought socialism.  He says the NR needs my help to defeat socialism and tells us of the current danger:

The Vermont socialist seeks to fundamentally change the character of the country. He’d make the United States an outlier in the Western world, not in terms of its relatively limited government, but its sweeping activism. He’d blow past Western European social democracies in government profligacy, and bring to the Oval Office a sympathy for America’s enemies not often heard outside academia or Noam Chomsky reading groups.

That he has a hold on a third of the Democratic Party is bad enough; that he’s a rock star to America’s youth is unbelievably depressing.

You notice that us capitalistic orphans do not even get full treatment from Rich.  Foreign policy and America’s enemies also get covered.  He is right that it is depressing that America’s youth is so poorly educated.

Sidebar: We cannot defeat socialism or win with capitalism.  As folks at places like NRO often remind us there are no won or lost causes.  Notice how we saved ourselves finding a link that actually identifies who said there are no won causes or lost causes.  End Sidebar.

Daniel Henninger at the WSJ is less worried about The Bernie.  He thinks The Bernie phenomenon is just a reflection of the Democrats being the incompetence party.  Is the GOP competent?  He says:

It does not mean the U.S. is flirting with socialism. That’s not going to happen. The meaning of Bernie’s ascent is that the Democratic Party, older even than he is, has simply run out of gas.

We are closer to Rich than Daniel.  Daniel’s first sentence above is clearly wrong.  Of course the US is flirting with socialism.  It has been flirting for years.  The more important sentence from Daniel is the second.  We are not ready to be unequivocal like Daniel but are sanguine that organizations like the National Review and WSJ will keep us from economic destruction.  We can’t stop the US from flirting but we should be able to avoid a bad relationship.

The capitalistic orphans can’t stop The Bernie or a slightly less strident version of him from being nominated.  But we can go the full Churchill on him.  We will fight in the election, the House, and the Senate.  We will never give up.

 

 

Role Models

We enjoy Mesut Özil as a soccer player.  He is one of the most talented and creative players in the world.  He is controversial because of his behavior on and off the pitch.  He hates to shoot on goal even more than he loves to make the amazing assist.  His relationship, or lack of it, is one of the reasons that Unai Emery is now the former coach of Arsenal.  It has been a dark time for us Arsenal fans.  And we get Manchester City shortly.  Update: we are down three at halftime.

Mesut plays(ed?) internationally for Germany but he has Turkish heritage too and is a Muslim.  He has been in the news recently for commenting on both China and his fellow Muslims as reported by the English newspaper The Mirror:

[Mesut] took to social media to add his voice to the wave of international outrage about the treatment of the Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking Muslim minority, in the north-western region of Xinjiang.

The Uighur population in the region has been subjected to a campaign of religious and ethnic persecution by the Chinese authorities, with claims that more than a million have been held in detention camps.

[Mesut said] “But Muslims are silent. They won’t make a noise. They have abandoned them. Don’t they know that giving consent for persecution is persecution itself?”

We salute Mesut for bringing up this problem in China but especially for asking questions (as they say in soccer commentary) of his fellow Muslims.  We generally don’t take cues from athletes and so on but to have one stand up to China and his fellow Muslims in one fell swoop is pretty amazing.

And what does his employer, Arsenal, think of his comments?  The Mirror tells us,

“Regarding the comments made by Mesut … on social media, Arsenal must make a clear statement,” it read.

“The content published is [Mesut]’s personal opinion. As a football club, Arsenal has always adhered to the principle of not involving itself in politics.”

Arsenal has not covered itself in glory but it hasn’t gone NBA either.  The Mirror also made the connection between this tweet by another Arsenal player and the Arsenal reaction to it:

On Thursday, the day of the general election in the UK, Hector Bellerin [a Spanish player for Arsenal] tweeted: “Young people across the world have a chance to change what the future can be. Today’s the chance for all the British people to influence what your future and those living here holds. #F**kBoris #GoVote.”

Arsenal did not issue a statement in response to Bellerin’s tweet.

Sidebar: We don’t know the answer but it is an interesting question.  What will be the tax impact of Brexit on folks still in the European Union, like Hector, but working in the UK.  End Sidebar.

Mesut twice spoke up when it would have been more popular to be quiet.  Arsenal did fairly close to the opposite.  Now if Mesut can get us some goals he could be a real role model for folks.

 

 

A Good Day For Freedom

Today, yesterday over there, citizens in the United Kingdom voted for a new parliament.  We love their efficiency.  The election was set in the fall and the voting was December 12.  In the US we have had a number of debates for the primary season that starts in February.  Our general election isn’t for 11 months.  And, in the US, you can start voting several months before the election.  We like our Constitution more than their parliamentary system but we have room for improvement.

We would like to talk about the UK results and the losers reaction to those results.  The election was largely about Brexit.  Jim Geraghty at the Morning Jolt set the stage this morning before the results:

The stakes for the Conservatives and pro-Brexit forces may be win big or go home. There are 650 seats in the U.K. Parliament, meaning to win a majority and control of the government, a party needs 326. The YouGov poll estimates that Conservatives could win anywhere from 367 seats to 311. {Emphasis added]

As the UK has ten parties that have won seats it is hard to get a majority with a single party.  As the Conservatives and UKIP (zero seats to date) are the only pro-Brexit parties, the stakes in the election are high.  Early in our evening the exit polls had projected the Conservatives at 368 seats.  That is one more than the maximum in the quote above.  More recent projections have the Conservatives down a few at 362 and they have just hit a majority, 331 with 49 seats left.  The results should give Boris and the Conservatives control they need to get Brexit done.  Equally important, it would deny Jeremy.  Freedom will be advanced by Brexit.  Then there will be the issue of Scotland and if it should be set free.  The Scottish National Party has tightened its grip on Scotland by gaining 12 seats so far.

Everyone hates to lose.  Especially handball players.  The good thing about most handball players is the only question is usually, “Whose serve or when do we play next?”  The left cannot bear to lose elections and they seem to take the worst possible route in blaming the electorate.  We have seen it in person, “It was the worst day of my life when [some Republican] won.”  We see it in the media and on the media.  Watch next November’s election returns with the sound off and only look at the reporters.  You will know who won.  Here are some comments collected by the Spectator with a few [of our comments] set off:

I cannot imagine how so many people in England can have been quite so stupid. [and how do you feel about Wales, Scotland and the other parts of the United Kingdom?  Then again, the conservatives did really well in England.]

and

BBC exit poll predicts Tories to take 70+ seats. If so – a victory of the old over the young, racists over people of colour, selfishness over the planet. Scotland will leave UK. However it does not feel right compared to on-the-ground.  [Calling folks racists and selfish is a strange way to try and attract voters.  Perhaps you need to widen your ground to fix the last sentence.]

And

This country is utterly, quadrilaterally f**ked.  [Emphasis and ** added.  We don’t understand the adjective in bold.  What four sides are we talking about?]

And

This looks abysmal. The result will be devastating for communities like mine all around the country who are now facing five years of Boris Johnson with unchecked power. I am more fearful for our country than at any point in my lifetime. [How come the right (Conservatives or Republicans) gets unchecked power when they win and the left does not?]

And here is one from PowerLine (they also have most of the ones above):

The country is going to be staggeringly and bitterly divided now.  Worse than under Thatcher.  [It is the biggest conservative majority since Maggie.  How can big majorities lead to bitter division?  So when the right wins, and especially if it wins big, then the country is divided.  When Labor (the big party on the left in the UK) wins the country is …. what?  We wonder how these folks would describe the USA under the 44th president?]

It is amazing how folks that want your vote can insult you and yet they seem to think that this will help them win in the future.  And yet Labor (and the Democrats) will win before too long.  We hope they are neither bitter nor vindictive when they take office.

How Matters

Jon Pavolvitz is getting likes on Facebook for his post I’m Not On The Radical Left, I’m In The Humane Middle.  It has a picture of a winsome lass sitting on the double yellow line of a highway.  Jon says he supports the Declaration of Independence and The Golden Rule so he doesn’t understand why folks call him part of the radical left.  He then goes on to list his beliefs which we reproduce below in bold with our comments.  Other than the first one they are pretty inexplicit.  How you would accomplish these goals matter and determine where you stand.












We suspect that Jon, like many people, doesn’t think much about the other side.  Perhaps he thinks of The Donald as right wing.  We don’t.  There are some nasty folks on both sides of the political divide but, by and large, most of them are trying to solve problems.  Largely, the disputes are about priorities and methods.  For example, it is generally true that people on the left want to raise the minimum wage and people on the right don’t.  There are people on the left that want to raise the minimum wage for nefarious reasons but most of them really think it will help poor people.  Most of the people on the right think it will harm the poor.  Such a difference of opinion doesn’t make either side evil.  We think that folks have often failed in their responsibility to investigate alternative thinking.

 

Good News, Bad News, Good News

We have been enjoying not being a paid pundit.  Those folks had to watch CNN Climate Change Town Hall.  Did we mention that it was seven hours long?  David Harsanyi at the Federalist has a nice summary: It was insane.  Elsewhere at the Federalist they have created their list of the ten craziest things at the Town Hall.  They didn’t even declare this the winner.   The folks who did that are way, way underpaid.  Then, while we were enjoying our week, Robert Mugabe died.  Our initial reaction way very much like Jim Geraghty: What a joy it is to be able to use the past tense for Robert.

Of course, the bad news is that the folks featured on the Town Hall are running for the Democrat nomination for president in 2020.  The “serious” candidates tend to be the most worked up about climate change.  Here is a tweet from the ten craziest things that ranks the candidates on their climate change proposals:

Tonight’s the . Here’s @greenpeaceusa‘s grades for the participating 2020 candidates.

Bernie Sanders: A
Elizabeth Warren: A-
Cory Booker: A-
Kamala Harris: B+
Joe Biden: B+
Julián Castro: B
Pete Buttigieg: B
Beto O’Rourke: B-
Amy Klobuchar: C+
Andrew Yang: C+

Amy gets a C+ for wanting to spend two to three trillion dollars (and we are certain that all cost figures are wildly understated) on climate change.  To get an average or above grade, as all the leaders in the polls did, you have to spend serious money and have serious infringement of freedom.  Nukes?  No thanks (nice song reference John).

The good news is that Big Oil seems to be ignoring all of this.  Of course, most of the fracking is done by smaller outfits and they don’t need to worry about being woke.

Sidebar: We were trying to confirm the last sentence by searching “Who does fracking?”  Almost all of the responses we got were about the “dangers” of fracking.  We still think Big Oil does not lead the fracking parade.  End Sidebar.

But Big Oil is always worried, watch their ads, about where they stands politically because their size makes them vulnerable.  Yet (from the above link):

Major oil companies have approved $50 billion of projects since last year that will not be economically viable if governments implement the Paris Agreement on climate change, think-tank Carbon Tracker said in a report published on Friday.

This is great news as we don’t need to worry about the frackers.  We shall see what happens.  Will the Town Hall insure another term for The Donald?  Will some Democrat be reasonable and popular?  When?  And why did our paragraph change?

Losing Robert and seeing that Big Oil is not too scared makes it net out to a good week.  We are still worried about climate change policy but are happy that our paragraph form changed back.