Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Once again our boundless thanks go out to Pirate’s Cove and The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!

Moving along:  Will Donald Trump be America’s Deng Xiaoping?  Possibly.  Excerpt:

Deng, like all of us, was not perfect, but he clearly had a political genius and incredible courage in his ability to battle and ultimately defeat the monolithic power of  Mao Zedong, who had jailed him and had his son pushed out a window (the son has spent the rest of his life as a paraplegic). It’s the stuff of great novels. (Yes, I realize Maoism still lingers in China, but, as I mentioned, nothing’s perfect.)

Back in 1961, at the height of Mao’s reign and three years before the publication of the Chairman’s Little Red Book, Deng slyly and metaphorically attacked the ideological rigidity of communism with one simple statement (dare I call it a tweet?  If so, it was the most potent tweet of all time): “I don’t care if a cat is black or white, so long as it catches mice.”

Simple as it is, that bears repeating: “I don’t care if a cat is black or white, so long as it catches mice.”

There are minor variations in the various translations but they all have the same pragmatic, anti-ideological import. The Chinese evidently never forgot it, because, although many still may pretend-profess to be communists, they are in reality Dengists. This has led to the world’s most succesful crony capitalism, but, again as I said, nothing’s perfect. Whatever the case, modern China is a giant improvement with Deng Xiaoping’s fingerprints all over it. The unbelievable Shanghai skyline — that’s Deng.

I’ve seen Shanghai.  It’s a prosperous, modern city, even if it is a bit – no, a lot – filthy.   My impression of Shanghai’s Pudong district, where stuff gets built, is that it’s rather like a beehive.  Tons of activity, everybody in the place always seems to be on their way somewhere.  Everybody seems to have a purpose.  Everything is humming, just like the aforementioned beehive.

And, yes, Deng is responsible for a lot of that.  Why?  He was less ideological, more pragmatic.

President Trump is a lot like that.  He won election not by being a lockstep Republican, like most of his primary opponents; he won election by being a deal-maker, a guy with a vision of how to make America better – great, he says, but most voters will settle for better.  And whether or not you may agree with President Trump’s actions in the 50 days since he took office, you will agree that he is moving aggressively on his agenda.  Like most top businessmen, he’s moving, not proposing, not advocating, but doing.

I’ve known plenty of CEOs and top-level corporate types in my career.  I know the type.

But here’s what he has to get; he doesn’t have the power he had as a CEO; he doesn’t have the power Deng Xiaoping had.  But he has the reputation of being a deal-maker.

It is on that rock he has built his church.  (Irony intended.)  It is on that rock that his Presidency will succeed or fail.

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.

Animal’s Daily Random Thoughts

Can Human Evolution Be Controlled?  Sure, we do it all the time.  Every time we choose a mate, every time our species favors blue eyes, or black hair, or living in a cold/warm/temperate climate.  But intentionally?  Sure, we do that all the time too.

It seems how people smell doesn’t much enter into it.

On to other things:  The Baby Boomers aren’t responsible for all the world’s ills.  Who knew?  As a member of the youngest cohort of that aging generation, I heartily agree; only individuals, not groups, can bear responsibility.  There are no group responsibilities, no group rights, only individuals.

From our good friend Jillian Becker:  Raising a mercenary army of racists on public funds.  One has to wonder of what possible use are classes in “white privilege” and such racist (yes, racist, in the truest sense of the word) are.   Educational institutions are, or at least should be, tasked with one purpose:  To produce young adults with marketable skills, so that they may become responsible, productive citizens.  Bullshit classes like this do nothing to that end; they only inculcate a new generation of racists.

Yes, goddammit, racists.  They are teaching young people to judge their fellows by the color of their skin, not by the content of their character.  That is fucking racism.  It’s despicable, and taking money to teach such tripe is fraud.

Walter Williams has some thoughts on the topic as well.

On a brighter note:  Want a $25,000 taco?

Me neither.

On that note, we return you to your Thursday, already in progress.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

What happens when safe spaces aren’t safe?  Look around at any number of the anti-free speech protests going on, and you’ll find out.  Excerpt:

At Middlebury College last week, Charles Murray needed a safe space — literally.

In a significant escalation of the campus speech wars, protesters hooted down the conservative scholar in a lecture hall and then roughed up a Middlebury faculty member escorting him to a car.

The Middlebury administration commendably tried to do the right thing and stand by Murray’s right to be heard, but was overwhelmed by a yowling mob with all the manners and intellectual openness of a gang of British soccer hooligans.

Sometime soon, we may yearn for the days when college students were merely childish and closed-minded. If campus protests of speech begin to more routinely slide into violence, Middlebury will be remembered as a watershed.

First, there was the target. Charles Murray is controversial — mainly for his book, “The Bell Curve,” about IQ — but he is one of the most significant social scientists of our age.

Here’s the clincher:

Protesters found the room and pounded on the windows and pulled fire alarms. When Murray and Stanger exited at the end of the live-stream and headed for their getaway car, protesters assailed them. They shoved and grabbed Stanger, who was shaken up and later went to the hospital, and pounded on the car and tried to obstruct it.

Stanger wrote afterward that she “feared for my life.”And for what offense? Talking to someone who thinks differently than the average Middlebury faculty member or student.

It’s popular among those on the Left to compare anyone to the poltical right of Leon Trotsky as a Nazi.  But it’s the sturmtruppen of the Left that is engaging in brownshirt tactics on our campuses today.  Who the bloody hell do these punks think they are?

I’d challenge anyone on any side of this issue to point to one instance – just one – where the roles where reversed, where right-wing thugs shut down a peaceful speaking appearance by a liberal speaker.

I already know what the answer will be:

Animal’s Daily Crazy Norks News

The bat-guano crazy Norks, the denizens of that isolated Stalinist state led by a stunted gargoyle with bad hair from a long line of stunted gargoyles with bad hair, is supposedly training to hit the United States.

Yeah, right.  Excerpt:

Nuclear-armed North Korea said Tuesday its missile launches were training for a strike on US bases in Japan, as global condemnation of the regime swelled.

Three of the four missiles fired Monday came down provocatively close to US ally Japan, in waters that are part of its exclusive economic zone, representing a challenge to US President Donald Trump.

In a phone call, Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe warned that the threat from North Korea had “entered a new stage”.

The UN Security Council scheduled an emergency meeting for Wednesday after a request by Washington and Tokyo to discuss additional measures following the launch.

Under UN resolutions, Pyongyang is barred from any use of ballistic missile technology, and the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, said on Twitter that the world “won’t allow” North Korea to continue on its “destructive path”.

But six sets of UN sanctions since its first nuclear test in 2006 have failed to halt its drive for what it insists are defensive weapons.

Of course, these missiles aren’t defensive weapons.  They can’t be.  They are offensive weapons, ones which Kim Jong Un (the aforementioned stunted little gargoyle with bad hair) has no intention of using.

This is some damnably expensive saber-rattling for a country where most of the citizens are on the edge of starvation.  But saber-rattling is precisely what it is, and it has a purpose; whenever the Norks do it, they are angling for something or another; shipments of food, oil, or easing of some sanctions or other.  They do this because so far it’s worked for them every time.

It might be interesting to see what President Trump might do.  And, again, that may be why the Norks are rattling this particular saber at this particular moment.  They may want to find out.

Threatening America’s best ally in the Pacific may not be the smartest way to go about it.

Goodbye Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks once again to Pirate’s Cove and The Other McCain for the Rule Five linkery!

Ever ridden in an Uber car?  I do this rather a lot, in fact will be using an Uber service provider later today to take me from San Francisco airport down to Silicon Valley.  I use Uber frequently, and have always been very happy with the service.

But some government regulators don’t like Uber.  They are trying to crack down on Uber, and Uber is fighting back.  Good for them.  Excerpt:

As Uber faces some public relations problems right now connected to complaints of sexual harrassment and mistreatment of its drivers, The New York Times has what it apparently thinks is an expose of sorts. It doesn’t. Or at least it doesn’t from the perspective of the lives of ordinary people.

The way journalist Mike Isaac has approached this story betrays a type of media bias that seems to naturally assume that government regulators are in charge of us all, and those who are trying to find ways to work around them are up to no good.

To wit, Uber uses a tool called “Greyball” to circumvent officials. It’s a tool that Uber says is designed to help it deny ride requests to people who violate their terms of service, disrupt the system, or threaten their drivers. They also have been using it to operate in places where government officials have been trying to shut them down.

The story of the technology itself is genuinely fascinating, but it’s caught up in this concept that Uber’s behavior is villainous, possibly even illegal, though the expert Isaac consulted, a fellow Times contributor, could only make vague claims.

This tool essentially creates a fake ghost version of Uber. People who are “greyballed” could order cars via Uber’s map and could watch them travel around. But the Uber drivers always canceled when the customer ordered a pickup. The cars were not actually real. They were fabricated by the app to trick the user into wasting time, without the user realizing they had been secretly been banned and maybe starting a new account.

Uber used this tool to operate in Portland, Oregon, as regulators attempted to use sting operations to catch them and shut them down.

The nerve of Uber!  Assuming that people should have the ability to enter into a completely voluntary transaction with another person for a ride to the airport, or to dinner, or home from a bar – without government permission!

In most places it’s not just overbearing bureaucrats trying to shut Uber down; it’s the taxicab companies, who are using the Aristocracy of Pull to try to preserve their outmoded business model.  I’ve ridden in plenty of taxis as well; they tend strongly towards dirty, smelly cars and rude drivers.  Uber cars are clean – why?  Because their drivers own them.

This is cronyism of the worst sort.  Good on Uber for defying these overreaching bureaucrats.  I will continue to throw them my business in support.

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.

I’m a Lumberjack…

Over at The Daley Gator, blogger pal Doug Hagin had an article (rightly) criticizing Bill Nye, the engineer who pretends to be a science guy; but the thing that jumped out at me was this photo.

I commented:  Regarding Lumberjack Guy above – look at those soft white hands! This gomer has never been near an axe or chainsaw in his life. The “outdoor” setting is probably at the edge of the parking lot for the photography studio.

We see plenty of these types around now; flannel and neck-beards have suddenly become popular among Millennial townies.  What will it be next – camouflage and Confederate flags?

Hey, everyone has the right to wear what they like.  I tend towards boots and my big gus-crown cowboy hats, even when bumming around town.  Now I grew up in a rural setting, and have run many a chainsaw and axe in my life – still do, from time to time.

But I can’t help looking down my nose a little bit at douchebaggery like that exhibited by the guy illustrated at top.  Wearing flannel and a neckbeard doesn’t make you manly.

Doing manly things, practicing the Manly Arts – that does.

Deep thoughts, news of the day, totty and the Manly Arts.