Category Archives: Totty

Who doesn’t love pretty girls?

Rule Five Energy Finds Friday

Our economy, like it or not, runs on oil, and it looks like two oil companies have just found a metric shitload of it (for the record, that’s 1.14 standard shitloads) in Alaska.  And there’s more.  Excerpt:

Spanish oil giant Repsol (REPYY) has revealed the largest U.S. onshore oil discovery in 30 years, located in Alaska’s North Slope.

Repsol and joint venture partner Armstrong Energy claim to have found a massive conventional oil play that holds up to 1.2 billion barrels of recoverable light crude. The discovery was confirmed after Repsol drilled two test wells during the 2016-2017 winter season. According to the company, the area was previously considered to be a mature oil basin. Oil is expected to flow beginning in 2021, with a potential rate approaching 120,000 barrels per day.

Denver-based Armstrong, a privately held exploration company, operates the North Slope project and holds a 75% working interest in the Horseshoe discovery. The Repsol discovery follows the revelation of what geologists believe is the largest shale oil play in the country.

In November, the U.S. Geological Survey said the Midland Basin, which is part of the oil-rich Permian shale play, is estimated to contain 20 billion barrels of oil and 1.6 billion barrels of natural gas. The new figures would make the Midland Basin about three times bigger than North Dakota’s Bakken formation.

Exxon is betting on these finds – betting big.

President Trump has already opened the door his predecessor closed on the Dakota Access and Keystone pipelines.  Opening that door will being another shitload (metric or standard, you choose) of Canadian crude into American refineries, and protests from environmentalist radicals aside, that’s manifestly a Good Thing for President Trump’s stated goal of kick-starting the American economy.

Why?  That’s simple.  As stated, our economy runs on oil and natural gas.  More domestic sources mean less energy we have to purchase from other countries.  A significant amount of those other countries don’t like us very much, and at present we’re sending them a lot of American petrodollars.

But more to the point, the laws of supply and demand obtain here.  A find this size, once developed – and it looks like the North Slope finds will be coming online pretty quickly – will reduce the price of oil (which, I remind you, is a fungible commodity with a global market) significantly.

Want to kick-start the economy?  Cheap energy is the best way to do that.  It doesn’t matter what your company does, what product they build, what service they provide, they need energy to do it.  Solar and wind power don’t produce enough for a modern industrial economy.

And there’s more.  Take a look at your computer, or your tablet, or your cellular phone; whatever you are using to read these virtual pages.  A good part of it’s material, whatever it is, derives from petroleum.  Take a look at your car; if it’s a recent model a good part of it’s high-tech, modernly engineered structure is plastic; plastics derived from petroleum.

Our modern technological economy runs on oil and gas.  Repsol and Armstrong have just changed the oil and gas game with this discovery.  President Trump may take the credit for the boom that should result (and in the case of the pipelines, he does deserve a bit of the credit) but Repsol and Armstrong are the names to watch for the next couple of years.

Rule Five Killing Big Bird Friday

From one of our favorite libertarian scribes, John Stossel, comes this piece on the Trump Administration’s promise to cut a particular piece of fat from the Imperial budget.   Excerpt:

Next week, Donald Trump releases his new budget. It’s expected to cut spending on things like the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Good!

Government has no business funding art. When politicians decide which ideas deserve a boost, art is debased. When they use your money to shape the culture, they shape it in ways that make culture friendlier to government.

As The Federalist’s Elizabeth Harrington points out, the National Endowment for the Arts doesn’t give grants to sculpture honoring the Second Amendment or exhibitions on the benefits of traditional marriage. They fund a play about “lesbian activists who oppose gun ownership” and “art installations about climate change.”

The grant-making establishment is proudly leftist. A Trump administration won’t change that. During the Bush II years, lefty causes got funding, but I can’t find any project with a conservative agenda.

It’s not just the politics that are wrong. Government arts funding doesn’t even go to the needy. Arts grants tend to go to people who got prior arts grants.

But here’s the real money quote:

The New York Times ran the headline: “Why Art Matters.” Of course it matters. But “art” is different from “government-funded art.”

New York Magazine ran a photo of Big Bird, or rather a protester dressed as Big Bird, wearing a sign saying “Keep your mitts off me!” What New York doesn’t say is that the picture is three years old, and Big Bird’s employer, “Sesame Street,” no longer gets government funds.

We confronted the article writer, Eric Levitz. He said, “Big Bird has long functioned as a symbol of public broadcasting … Still, considering ‘Sesame Street’s’ switch to HBO, I concede that some could have been misled.”

You bet.

Big Bird doesn’t need government help. “Sesame Street” is so rich that it paid one of its performers more than $800,000.

I can’t add much to Mr. Stossel’s words, but I will offer some of Robert Heinlein’s words:  “A government-subsidized artist is an incompetent whore.”  I couldn’t agree more.

There are a lot of artists in the Animal family.  The Old Man is a Midwestern artist of note, and has been since the late Sixties.  He still paints today and just recently put out a book of paintings of Iowa wildflowers and birds.  For many years he had a reserved spot in the Iowa Capitol where one of his paintings hung.  One of my daughters is a freelance graphic artist and designer, and another is in a reputable art school studying to be a commercial graphic artist.

None of them have ever taken a public dime for their art, and none ever will.

All of Mr. Stossel’s arguments are great, but I’ll counter with a simpler one;  nowhere in the Constitution is the Imperial government allowed to disperse taxpayer funds to prop up artists who can’t make money by selling their work in the open market.  The Tenth Amendment prohibits the Imperial government from doing anything that the Constitution does not specifically allow.

That, True Believers, should be the end of the discussion.

Rule Five Dissolving EU Friday

Is the EU coming apart at the seams?  Yes, and it should.  Excerpt:

At its core, what is the EU? And why, despite its vast resources, does it seem perpetually unable to make sense of the world and meet its objectives? The two answers lie hidden in the EU’s very DNA.

First, there’s the EU’s primary internal contradiction: EU federalism is an ideology that propagates post-ideologism; a culturally amorphous post-ideological world.

A cosmopolitan easy going agnostic world, in which the single market and currency have made nationalism obsolete. Indeed, a world where the European Parliament invites a long haired bearded shemale to perform in front of its building and announces him/her as “The voice of Europe” singing for equality, without anyone batting an eye.

The EU’s core problem, however, is that in its way of viewing and engaging the world beyond Brussels’ boundaries, it is acting as if the world has already arrived at this so badly coveted post-cultural/ideological end station.

This is why the EU’s foreign minister is convinced political Islam should be part of the solution for Europe’s bicultural malaise. It is why for almost a decade now, the EU is maintaining it is reasonable to expect a German fiscal discipline from Greece ― a country in which tax evasion has been a central pillar of its culture ever since it was conquered by the Ottoman Empire some 600 years ago. It is why the EU fails to grasp the fact it’s deepening the migration crisis by acting as a ferry service for human traffickers. It is why the EU refuses to acknowledge an inherently expansionist religion like Islam views Europe’s open borders as an invitation to conquest. And it is why it was caught off guard by the mass rapes in Cologne etc. Because in the EU’s world, man in its natural state never existed and the Rape of the Sabine Women was never told.

In short, the EU is treating the world as if it’s already an earthly EUtopia in which everything can be solved through dialogue and the right subsidies. And that’s why it will keep on chasing facts until its imminent demise.

You should read also author Jillian Becker’s comments on the situation here.  Excerpt:

Why was the corrupt and undemocratic European Union (EU) brought into existence?

The Germans wanted to dissolve their guilt  – for starting two world wars and perpetrating the Holocaust – in the sea of a European superstate. Which they knew they could dominate through their economic strength.

The French wanted to be part of an entity that was more populous, more prosperous, and more powerful than the United States of America, even though it meant sharing power.

The ambitious politicians of Western Europe wanted a bigger stage to strut on. As well as a perpetual ride on a gravy train.

That last sentence is key.  The EU was doomed to fail from the very beginning.  Nations like the United Kingdom, Germany and France have very little in common, culturally and economically, with the PIGS nations – Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain.  The former have been tasked with supporting the easy living and generous retirements of the latter for a couple of generations now.

Asking these nations to share a common currency and economy is too much to expect from any body politic.  One has to expect the industrious Germans are growing as rapidly tired of supporting the PIGS as they are of Frau Merkel’s unlimited acceptance of Middle Eastern refugees.

The backlash has already begun in Europe.  The last time a sudden rise of European nationalism happened, it resulted in a world war.  This time, it may just result in the saving of Europe from the ash heap of history.

Rule Five Balkanization Friday

Should we break up the USA?  I’d prefer not to, but here from the Mises Institute is another idea.  Excerpt:

Some of our assumptions are so deeply embedded that we cannot perceive them ourselves.

Case in point: everyone takes for granted that it’s normal for a country of 320 million to be dictated to by a single central authority. The only debate we’re permitted to have is who should be selected to carry out this grotesque and inhumane function.

Here’s the debate we should be having instead: what if we simply abandoned this quixotic mission, and went our separate ways? It’s an idea that’s gaining traction — much too late, to be sure, but better late than never.

For a long time it seemed as if the idea of secession was unlikely to take hold in modern America. Schoolchildren, after all, are told to associate secession with slavery and treason. American journalists treat the idea as if it were self-evidently ridiculous and contemptible (an attitude they curiously do not adopt when faced with US war propaganda, I might add).

And yet all it took was the election of Donald Trump for the alleged toxicity of secession to vanish entirely. The left’s principled opposition to secession and devotion to the holy Union went promptly out the window on November 8, 2016. Today, about one in three Californians polled favors the Golden State’s secession from the Union.

In other words, some people seem to be coming to the conclusion that the whole system is rotten and should be abandoned.

As far as how this would happen?  Author Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr. doesn’t offer a mechanism, but he offers a reason:

When I say go our separate ways, I don’t mean “the left” goes one way and “the right” goes another. I mean the left goes one way and everyone else — rather a diverse group indeed — goes another. People who live for moral posturing, to broadcast their superiority over everyone else, and to steamroll differences in the name of “diversity,” should go one way, and everyone who rolls his eyes at all this should go another.

“No people and no part of a people,” said Ludwig von Mises nearly one hundred years ago, “shall be held against its will in a political association that it does not want.” So much wisdom in that simple sentiment. And so much conflict and anguish could be avoided if only we’d heed it.

What’s interesting is that the talk about secession these days is coming mostly from disaffected California lefties, disappointed that Her Imperial Majesty Hillary I lost the election they expected her to win.  A few surveys have up to one-third of Californians thinking secession is a good idea.

They should ask South Carolina how that worked out for them.

Seriously, the Rockwell article in discussion here is based on the libertarian argument that no people should be held in a political arrangement against their will, quoting as it does Ludiwg von Mises himself.  But the problem is that libertarians are a pretty small minority of the population, and when those 1/3 of Californians discover all of the problems they’d face in an actual secession attempt, they’d almost certainly change their minds.

I’ve discussed the idea of the United States balkanization before.  It will probably happen someday, in some form.  But I doubt it will be any time soon, no matter who is sitting at this moment in the Imperial Mansion.

Rule Five Asian Alliances Friday

Last weekend, President Trump spent the weekend with the one man that represents America’s best and truest ally in the Pacific save only Australia – Japan.  The Japan Times had this to say about their meeting.  Excerpt:

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe might have got exactly what he wanted in his summit with U.S. President Donald Trump. Abe’s three-day visit to the United States, the first since the inauguration of the Trump administration, was marked by friendly overtones and included two nights of dinners in a row and golfing in Palm Beach, Florida, where the president hosted the Japanese leader at his winter estate. Trump gave assurances to Abe over the bilateral security alliance while remaining silent over his earlier aggressive criticism of Japan over trade and currency issues.

But if Trump had merely tamed his protectionist pitch to play up his friendly rapport with Abe, those issues may have just been set aside to be taken up later in the “bilateral dialogue framework” that the two leaders agreed to create to discuss trade and investment matters. A close aide to Abe reportedly said the two leaders confirmed that the trade disputes of the 1980s were a “thing of the past.” But Trump’s remarks before the meeting had been enough to raise the specter of the bitter trade friction between the two countries. It’s not clear whether Abe succeeded in changing the minds of the U.S. president during the talks. The government needs to hold Japan’s ground in the upcoming dialogue.

But here’s the real money (hah) quote – bear in mind this article is written from Japan’s point of view:

What’s worrisome about Trump’s views on trade issues is that they may not be shaped by a correct understanding of the relevant facts. In singling out Japan — along with China — as countries that engage in trade practices that are “not fair” to American firms during his earlier talks with U.S. business leaders, the president reportedly claimed that countries such as Japan “charge a lot of tax” on U.S. products and said that “if they’re going to charge tax to our countries — if as an example, we sell a car into Japan and they do things to us that make it impossible to sell cars in Japan. … It’s not fair.” Separately, he effectively charged that Japan and China manipulate the exchange rates to drive their currencies lower against the dollar — on which he blamed the U.S. trade deficits.

Japan needs the United States, probably more than we need them.  I’ve done a fair amount of business there, and all three companies I’ve worked with sell over half of their output to Americans and American companies.   That makes us their most important market.

It’s odd to my WW2-generation parents – they’ve told me so themselves – but it’s in America’s best interests to maintain a solid working relationship with Japan, not least of which is because of the stare-down our island allies are having with China.  Two major trade partners are snapping at each other, which puts President Trump in a damned delicate situation.

Here’s what I found encouraging about last weekend’s events, at least as far as American-Japanese relations are concerned – the President and Prime Minister Abe appear to get along very well personally, playing golf together and by all appearances enjoying a fine dinner with spouses and aides at Trump’s Florida resort.

Why is that encouraging?  Because of something I’ve learned over almost fifteen years of self-employment:  People do business with people they like.  A good personal relationship with Prime Minister Abe will make it easier for President Trump, a man of business, to do business with Japan.

I confess to some selfish motive here.  I’ve done business in Japan, have lived and worked there, and I have had and always will have a very real fondness for the place and it’s people.  I want to do business there again.  I hope President Trump and Prime Minister Abe agree on a trade deal to make that possible.