Tuesday, February 14, 2017
With a reprint of the part of yesterdays entry that was misformatted.
The howling continues; now Mr. Trump’s Secretary of Labor candidate is being hounded by Senator Warren among others, largely because he opposes raising the Federal Minimum Wage.
Andy Puzder’s Grilling
Will the White House let bogus charges beat its Labor nominee?
President Trump’s early troubles are starting to affect his ability to govern—to wit, Democrats think they have a shot at defeating his nominee for Labor Secretary, Andy Puzder. The White House had better get all hands on deck lest it lose a nominee who knows the damage that the Obama labor agenda did to workers. [snip]
Some of the Republican elites are getting nervous. The media hates us! We had better grow, compromise, reach across the aisles – as if the Democrats did anything like that for the past eight years. Yes, Mr. Trump is a populist, a pragmatist, inexperienced in the ways of the Washington elite, choosing people who he believes can get the job done.and willing to replace them if he thinks they can’t; while the old country club establishment Republicans are concerned because that is not popular with the Washington elites. It is not the way things are done. Doesn’t Trump know that?
There will be war to the knife, obstruction opposition, on anything Mr. Trump does now, and some of the judiciary will seize this opportunity to grab as much political power as possible. Mr. Trump has made the concession of writing his executive orders again; the judicial power group smells blood in the water; the Constitutional Crisis continues. Next phase will be the White House Siege Mentality. The media drum beat continues.
Currency Manipulation Is a Real Problem
What’s the point of free-trade deals if governments can wipe out the benefits with monetary maneuvers?
Feb. 13, 2017 7:16 p.m. ET
Passionate defenders of the “global rules-based trading system” should be wary of thinking their views are more informed than President Trump’s. He has been branded a protectionist and thus many conclude he is incapable of exercising world leadership. Meanwhile, those who embrace the virtues of global free trade disregard the fact that the “rules” are not working for many American workers and companies.
Certainly the rules regarding international exchange-rate arrangements are not working. Monetary integrity was the key to making Bretton Woods institutions work when they were created after World War II to prevent future breakdowns in world order due to trade. The international monetary system, devised in 1944, was based on fixed exchange rates linked to a gold-convertible dollar.
No such system exists today. And no real leader can aspire to champion both the logic and the morality of free trade without confronting the practice that undermines both: currency manipulation. [snip]
The problem with free trade is that most free trade agreements aren’t really free trade agreements. Ricardo’s analysis was done in an era of sound money. It makes assumptions about the stability of trade agreements that are simply untrue when the value of money can be changed by fiat; a point once made long ago, but seems to have been forgotten by most economists now. There is no monetary integrity now; US dollars can be printed and loaned at zero or even negative interest (provided you have the proper connections). Mr. Obama’s Treasury Secretary placed Japan on a monitoring list; smaller countries manipulate the value of their currency to ameliorate their debt; and so on. It is all very complex, and few understand it all. Bretton Woods is gone. There is no sound money. Without it, can there be free trade? There can certainly be trade deals; Mr. Trump ran on among other things the notion that the ones we have been making have not been very good.
For those interested, there is also
Free Trade and How the Soybean Helped Make America Great
Farmers like me see promise in the new president but peril in his protectionism.
Feb. 13, 2017 7:07 p.m. ET
The soybean is an American success story, a remarkable crop with a proud history. But the vibrant international market for soybeans may become a victim of President Trump’s approach to trade. This would be a shame, given how strongly American farmers have supported Mr. Trump.
Rich in protein, the soybean has improved millions of people’s diets all around the globe. There were 1.8 million acres of the crop in the U.S. in 1924, and soybean farming has grown massively over the years, with nearly 84 million acres planted across the country in 2016. Our farm had no soybeans in the early 1960s, but today the crop makes up half our acreage.
In my rural county in northwest Missouri, home to plenty of soybean farmers, Mr. Trump received about 75% of the vote. We were drawn to policies like his “two for one” executive order, which requires the removal of two regulations every time a new one is written. The vocal and at times vulgar protests against him have only solidified his support here.
But unease is growing in the more fertile parts of the hinterlands. As his trade policy comes into focus, it’s starting to scare the heck out of farmers. [snip]
The trade dilemma continues.
Rare earths are just the tip of the iceberg
It’s really a much bigger problem.
US military systems have a significant Chinese or Taiwan content. Even some of the “American made” parts are actually counterfeit Chinese manufactured parts inserted into US side supply chains.
It is simply not possible for the US to prosecute a war of any length without Chinese support.
For what it’s worth, the military is aware of this problem. For example, see
and note that these are not new stories.
The problem has been getting Congress interested in the problem.
When we wrote the space plan for Reagan’s transition team (log ago, in 1980), one problem with the strategic defense advocates was that they were separated into warring groups; Teller’s people, Max Hunter’s Gang of Four, General Meyer and the Marshall group’s Homing Overlay, others; one of the accomplishments of those meetings in Larry Niven’s home (then in Tarzana) was the “Treaty of Tarzana” which got all the groups to agree that without space access none of the Strategic Defense systems would work very well. Mr. Reagan adopted SDI, and later made his speech to Congress that Senator Ted Kennedy immediately labeled as Star Wars. And over time the Cold War ended.
A primary concern here is that it takes massive amounts of energy to reclaim many of the rare components…
For some reason this doesn’t preview properly, so here’s the header and brief blurb:
“February 7, 2017 PRESS RELEASE
“What Happened to the Sun over 7,000 Years Ago? Analysis of tree rings reveals highly abnormal solar activity in the mid-Holocene
“An international team led by researchers at Nagoya University, along with US and Swiss colleagues, has identified a new type of solar event and dated it to the year 5480 BC…”
Here’s the original paper, but I don’t have a membership. Jim, perchance do you?
National Academy of Sciences … Special collections highlighting noteworthy articles. Colloquium Papers; Commentaries; Core Concepts; Cozzarelli Prize
And here is a Wikipedia article about the climate of the Holocene:
The Holocene Climate Optimum (HCO) was a warm period during roughly the interval 9,000 to 5,000 years BP. This event has also been known by many other names …
~Stephanie Osborn, “The Interstellar Woman of Mystery”
Award-winning author of the Division One, Gentleman Aegis, and Displaced Detective series
Finally looking at this.
1. I can’t access the paper without paying the fee.
2. Note that this is more or less in the middle of the Holocene Climate Optimum. Reading the Wikipedia article made me wonder a bit about prehistoric SUVs…
3. Given the location in the midst of the Holocene Climate Optimum, the easy assumption is that the sun was more active and the suggested hypothesis of a series of what might be called Super Carringtons caused the 14C anomaly. The inverse situation of a much weaker solar cycle resulting in a magnetic anomaly which permitted a significant increase in cosmic radiation on the earth seems less likely. Not cited is the possibility of an intense extra-solar event, but that possibility cannot be discounted, though such an event should have left a properly dated fossil remnant (e.g something like the Crab nebula) which one would expect to have been observed, unless it was a very intense event at 10s of thousands of light years. If I had to compare the three hypothesis, I would expect a Super-Carrington first, a extra-solar event second, and an anomalous weakening of the solar magnetic field as least likely.
That’s kind of my point. The most probable explanation IS a Carrington-level superflare. Now, mind, the recent data is starting to indicate that such superflares tend to occur in the ‘walls’ of extended minima, either during the descent down to, or the rise up from. And they are able to specifically date this event via tree rings to 5480BC, or about 7500BP as it’s sometimes called.
And that smacks it into the graph in the Wikipedia article at the point where it rises up to the maximum positive excursion.
I would love to get my hands on other solar data for that time frame and later. I know it exists, I just have to dig it up.
~Stephanie Osborn, “The Interstellar Woman of Mystery”
I wonder what a good student of legends would make of this: that’s a time when writing was just being invented, 7500 years before present; did anything survive in legendary accounts?
Thanks for posting my e-mail about Henry Bauer’s blog post about scientific consensus.
About 3/4 of the way down the page at
I notice my signature and the link I provided to Amazon for Henry’s book got dropped. Do you prefer not having links to Amazon? I provided it as a convenience, especially because Amazon always has reviews from other readers. I’m not trying to push Henry’s book. In fact I think it is currently greatly over-priced by his publisher. It was only $21 when I bought it a few years ago. At $35 the cost is prohibitive for the casual amateur that I am.
Last night the formatting got out of control, and some of the material got printed funny and some was just left out. I tried redoing it several times, but my attempts just made it worse. Rather than fool with it, I am reprinting the last part of last night’s exposition here. Apologies. Most of you have seen most all this before.
I give up. The formatting is always bad. I will paste in the missing lines. Here they are:
I have no idea what the formatting problem was, and I don’t particularly want to know; I just hope it never happens again, cutting lines from quoted material and putting half the post up as if it were a block quote. It seems all right now.
Scientific consensus wrong about most great advances.
Dr. Henry Bauer, Professor Emeritus of Chemistry and Dean Emeritus of the College of Arts & Sciences at Virginia Tech, writes about the failures of scientific consensus and the dangers that presents for public policy.
Science: A Danger for Public Policy?!
Posted by Henry Bauer on 2017/02/08
The contemporary scientific consensus has in fact been wrong about many, perhaps even most of the greatest advances in science: Planck and quantums, Wegener and drifting continents, Mendel and quantitative genetic heredity; the scientific consensus and 1976 Nobel Prize for discovering the viral cause of mad-cow diseases was wrong; that stomach ulcers are caused by bacteria had been pooh-poohed by the mainstream consensus for some two decades before adherents of the consensus were willing to examine the evidence and then award a Nobel Prize in 2005.
Historical instances of a mistaken scientific consensus being have seemingly not affected major public policies in catastrophic ways, although one possible precedent for such unhappy influence may be the consensus that supported the eugenics movement around the 1920s, resulting in enforced sterilization of tens of thousands of people in the USA as recently as the latter half of the 20th century.
Nowadays, though, the influence of science is so pervasive that the danger has become quite tangible that major public policies might be based on a scientific consensus that is at best doubtfully valid and at worst demonstrably wrong.
The history of science is unequivocal: Contemporary scientific consensuses have been wrong on some of the most significant issues.
In absence of an impartial comparative analysis, public discourse and public actions are determined by ideology and not by evidence. “Liberals” assert that the mainstream consensus on global warming equals “science” and anyone who properly respects the environment is supposed to accept this scientific consensus. On the other side, many “conservatives” beg to differ, as when Senator Inhofe flourishes a snowball. One doubts that most proponents of either side could give an accurate summary of the pertinent evidence. That is not a very good way to discuss or to make public policy.
Scarce Resources and Money
Dear Doctor Pournelle,
Sometimes I just cannot help myself. I occasionally read something from one of your correspondent’s put forth as “Deep Thought” and it is just so “Can’t see the forest for the trees” that I laugh out loud. I suspect you often are well aware of the unintentional irony, but let it stand without comment. Res ipsa loquitur.
The most recent example is Mr. Alan E Johnson statement that he just cannot accept the allocation of scarce resources, in this case health care, by how much money one has.
One of the few things I know about economics is that you don’t need an “economy” in the strictest sense if you have enough of everything for everyone that needs it. “Economics” is the art/science of allocating scarce resources, and let’s face the Ugly Truth: Nearly Everything On Earth IS A Scarce Resource, at least in the sense that there is not enough for everyone to have as much as they would like to have of almost anything. I think “air” is the only exception requiring that “almost”, and once we start living in pressurized habitats in outer space, we must perforce add it into the equation.
“Money”, aside from it’s great utility as a means of exchange, is a rational tool for allocating resources in all but the most strictly controlled economies. Once you throw out money, you open the door to Government Permits as a means of allocating those scarce resources (i.e.
“Everything”). The Left believes that government is Wise, Beneficial and Much Better at doing things for us than we as individuals can ever be at anything,, and most especially at allocating those scarce things. It is the basic concept of Socialism.
It is increasingly common, apparently thanks to our public schools indoctrination of their students, to hear/read of people acting as if “Common Sense Equals Socialist Thought”. It’s important to point this out from time to time, when someone goes on a bit too much about the Emperor’s Fine New Suit of Clothes!
Snowden on a Stick
It looks like Trump might get a gift from Putin; not a superbowl ring but Snowden:
U.S. intelligence has collected information that Russia is considering turning over Edward Snowden as a “gift” to President Donald Trump — who has called the NSA leaker a “spy” and a “traitor” who deserves to be executed.
That’s according to a senior U.S. official who has analyzed a series of highly sensitive intelligence reports detailing Russian deliberations and who says a Snowden handover is one of various ploys to “curry favor” with Trump. A second source in the intelligence community confirms the intelligence about the Russian conversations and notes it has been gathered since the inauguration.
◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊
Joshua Jordan, KSC
The Spy Revolt Against Trump Begins – Observer
I find the above very troubling. And consistent with what I know about IC corporate culture.
I have of course seen mainstream press attacks on Flynn, whom I do not know. The problem is that the media and press attacks anything Trump does with little regard to importance and not much more to truth. I cannot see the wolf but I hear so many shouts of his coming… I have had little involvement with the company since the 80’s, and know few involved since General Graham died. I do know enough to know things are often not as they seem, and those who say they know are often sincere in their beliefs, but wrong.
[Tuesday: The papers say that General Flynn has resigned. I expect others.]
The AI Threat Isn’t Skynet. It’s the End of the Middle Class | WIRED
I think they underestimate the danger. I believe it could be the start of the end of the species. As a species we are not wired to survive a life with no goals, no accomplishments, etc.
We need to get to Mars, the Moon and the asteroid belts ASAP.
We need a survivor contingent of the species out there living the hard life and continuing our existence.
We need to learn to live in space. Moon Base First.
If Franklin Delano Roosevelt could oppose public-service unions as “organizing against the People,” I don’t see why Republicans approving an education secretary favoring non-public-school choice is unacceptable to Democrats — other than Democrats being in thrall to their donor base controlled by SEIU, that is
By the way, I’ve been enjoying Chaos Manor. Am I becoming more conservative in my old age or are you becoming more anarchistic in yours?
I am a bad anarchist, though. I voted for Trump.
I’m still waiting to add your endorsement of Alongside Night — the Movie to your 1979 endorsement of Alongside Night — The Novel.
Teachers Unions are a conspiracy to rob the taxpayers of benefits of school taxes and thus preserve real education to those who can afford private education.
That mean, stupid, ignorant, lying, fascist, racist, misogynist, traitorous, Nazi Trump
You noted this:
“President Trump is now experiencing that: not only is everything he does mistaken and wrong, it is worse: foolish at best, and more likely just plain evil and mean.”
as an accurate description of the media wide characterization of Trump.
I think it would be instructive for someone to look up the network that sponsored Trump’s long run TV shows, see how he was described by his employers at the time he was on TV and the commercials they ran urging viewers to watch him, and contrast that with how that same network, its subsidiaries, and its employees have characterized him since he began his run for the presidency and subsequent to his election.
You would think that after paying him for several years to host a popular program on their network they would have noticed, and commented on, his now so obvious (to them) faults, but no, his universally odious traits only manifested themselves when he became a leading Republican candidate for president, finally blooming into an existential threat to humanity at large AFTER his election.
It would seem that as a group they are EXTREMELY poor judges of character OR that they are willing to say or do anything to advance a particular political agenda and/or destroy political opponents. Neither case provides a strong argument that their pronouncements about the character of a political opponent should be viewed as credible.
Turnabout is fair play?
Dear Jerry –
In the case of the suit against the Trump travel ban, an obvious question was, “What standing does Washington state have to allow it to bring suit? How can it claim injury?”
The answer given is that the state economy is damaged by the dislocations which the ban produce, and so the state has been injured and has standing to sue.
I find this a most entertaining argument, since it turns the “interstate commerce” argument right around and aims it at the Feds. Since the Federal government has argued, for instance, that growing pot in one’s back yard for personal use means that the grower does not buy in the (illegal) market, and thus affects the interstate economy in marijuana, it seems perfectly reasonable for the state of Washington to claim that its economy is being damaged by the effects on individuals within its borders. Sauce for the goose, etc.
Granted, I don’t think either argument should be allowed to stand, but if the principle is going to be established it certainly seems that it should do so fairly.
The one thing certain is that the law does not much deal in fair play or easy comprehension. Perhaps it should. Perhaps we need a new Twelve Tables.
Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.