Howdy All, a few Interesting Items for your information. Enjoy –
In this issue:
- Deaths. When you hang around one location long enough and participate in the political wars, you make friends and enemies. Last week was a particularly ugly week here in Anchorage as I lost two friends and fellow travelers, State Senator Chris Birch and businessman Scott Hawkins. Chris suffered an aorta rupture and Scott succumbed to cancer. Both were in their 60s and in good shape. I crossed paths with Chris Birch decades ago. For some reason, we got along well (likely due to engineering backgrounds) and worked on various issues and campaigns. Chris served on the Chugach Electric Association Board, the Anchorage Assembly, the Alaska House and finally, the Alaska Senate. Through it all, he retained a sense of humor, optimism about both the process and the future, and an unabashed joyful conservatism. While we disagreed on how to get from here to there from time to time, those discussions were always cordial and straightforward. Chris was one of the Good Guys and will be missed. I’ve known Scott Hawkins for nearly as long. He was more moderate in political beliefs, though absolutely as committed to making things better up here as anyone else in political office. He ran for a couple offices, most recently for Governor, but was never elected. Instead, he made his mark in the in the business and economics world over the years, all the while making Alaska just a little better place to live, work and raise a family. He was also one of the Good Guys and will be sorely missed. Sometimes this business just sucks.
- Manifestos. We have seen a bit of a change in the so-called manifestos posted by mass shooters this year, turning their manifestos into trolling documents, intended not to justify their actions, but rather to manipulate the reader into doing things they want them to do. The internet phrase “Don’t feed the troll” is perhaps the best description of what is going on and what not to do in response to these well thought out docuemnts. First example of this was the Christchurch shooter who murdered people in two mosques. His manifesto was intended to bait the media, the Kiwi government, and anyone else possible to prey on the media’s worst tendencies. And it worked beautifully, with the Kiwi government cracking down on free speech, firearms ownership, and transmittal of the manifesto itself. It was a trap laid for journalists and the government. It worked. Likewise, the El Paso shooter’s manifesto was also written to prey upon the worst tendencies of the media reporting after the shooting. And it also worked beautifully, with the media going full racist / white supremacist in their placing of the blame for the shooting squarely on conservatives, President Trump and anyone else on that side of the political fence. These shooters not only murder people, but they also are trolling the media and the online world to get the reaction they demand. Sadly, it has worked far too well this year, meaning we will see more of it.
- Gillette. When you adopt the woke feminist worldview as a company that markets products to men, it should not be surprising that men no longer choose to purchase what you sell. Gillette made this sort of business decision earlier this year with its toxic masculinity ad, the “We Believe” campaign that asked, “Is this the best a man can get?” Not surprisingly, Proctor & Gamble wrote down Gillette’s valuation by a mere $8 billion along with the ad campaign. The CEO is not backing down, defending the campaign as a vehicle to appeal to younger consumers, acknowledging they will be losing some current customers in hopes of turning around its falling market share. It appears that the advertising world has been taken over by the Social Justice Warriors who have no problem scolding consumers who they are trying to get to buy their products. This is corporate suicide, not unlike what Disney did when they put a woman who hated Star Wars in charge of future Star Wars movies. That worked out well too (/sarc).
- Israel. AOC Squad members Rashida Tlaib (D, MI) and Ilhan Omar (D, MN) scheduled themselves a trip to what they called Palestine (Israel) last week. The trip was orchestrated through Miftah, a Palestinian non-profit, pro-terrorist group that has trafficked in the worst of vile anti-Semitism for years. The trip was planned for Hebron in the West Bank, major population centers, and a string of meetings with Palestinian and leftist Israeli non-profits, activists, and international human rights groups, a veritable week’s worth of Israeli-bashing during the runup to yet another Israeli election. The two could have gone with a non-partisan group of congress critters to Israel the week before but chose other arrangements that would allow more grandstanding. President Trump suggested Israel not allow them into the country. Israel refused to allow entry a couple hours later. Tlaib claimed she really wanted to visit her ailing grandmother. The Israeli Minister in charge granted a humanitarian visa to visit with the qualification that there would be no anti-Israel comments, grandstanding, or media events. Tlaib turned down the visa. Perhaps Grandma was not ailing so badly after all. After the visa was cancelled, the media and these democrats did all the expected demonization and name calling of Israel and President Trump. Tlaib and Omar retweeted a cartoon modeled on some anti-Jewish cartoons published to justify Nazi attacks on German Jews in the 1930s. Grandma got herself involved wishing bad things to happen to Trump. The acorn does not fall too far from the tree here as both women reprise Golda Meir’s observation that “Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.” The one thing you have to say about the Squad members is that they are effective. Evil, but very effective in getting their message out. Do not underestimate them or their abilities.
- Castro. Two final thoughts about the Joaquin Castro (D, TX) doxing of Trump supporters in his congressional district for your consideration. First is that this is what it is going to be like if they get their hot little hands on the levers of political power again. There will be punishment for failure to comply, failure to be meek, failure to agree, and any decision to push back. The left will use their power to crush, destroy, eliminate, and annihilate any conservative opposition. An example of the anger and frustration making the rounds a couple weeks ago was an epic rant supposedly from Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee. While those on the left call it a joke, and there is some argument about who actually wrote it, it demonstrates quite nicely the level of anger and frustration the left carries these days. Carry around that much hatred, and sooner or later it gets easy to act upon it. The second reaction to Castro’s doxing was an increase in Trump fundraising by the donors who he doxed. One of the named donors estimated that Castro ended up motivating donors to donate over a million dollars to the Trump reelection campaign since the doxing. The threats didn’t go over well with Texans even in liberal Bexar County (San Antonio). You guys keep this up and you will guarantee Trump carries 48 states.
- China. The Hong Kong protests continued last week as the ChiComs tried to figure out how to control the dissidents. Geography of Hong Kong is such that a Tiananmen Square response – roll the tanks in the middle of the night and kill everything in sight – won’t work. The streets are too narrow, winding, and mountainous for effective tank maneuvers. Worse, Hong Kong is well connected electronically, and every single thing will be broadcast, so the ChiComs have to be careful. They did orchestrate a test run last week shutting down the airport for a while on seemingly spurious grounds. President Trump has come under no small amount of criticism for failing to support the protesters, though I think his support will be in the background as he works through the trade negotiations with China. For his part, Scott Adams believes that China wins this. How they get from where they are to where they want to go is still unknown. Their problem is that if this little chunk of China gets to walk away, it will not be long before other parts of China want out too – Taiwan, Tibet, Macau, for instance. China cannot allow this to happen. They also need the economic output of Hong Kong for their economy to survive. The second China story is the ongoing trade negotiations. These have been used by the media as an excuse to orchestrate yet another stock market crash, likely a test run for a pre-election crash intended to frighten voters not unlike what they orchestrated in 1992, 2004, 2006 and 2008, all of which harmed Republicans and helped democrats. What happens if the ChiComs don’t believe in a win – win agreement? What if they are culturally unable or unwilling to make a deal? Remember that a deal takes two to reach an agreement. If one party does not want to play, you have no deal. Should that happen, what then? As always, the marketplace will reach a place of equilibrium, a place where it can operate, a place where there are tariffs and restrictions in trade between the two countries remain. China likes its current position, its current deal, as it benefits greatly by the theft of American intellectual capital and their ability to copy whatever any US company wants to sell in China. Why change? Why indeed. There may not be an agreement. And this will not be an insurmountable problem, which is a Good Thing.
- Nukes. For some reason, all stories this week are in pairs. This item likewise. The first nuclear story out of Russia this week is the crash and radiation release of what appears to be a nuclear-powered cruise missile. There was an explosion at a military testing base on the White Sea. It killed employees of Rosatom, Russia’s state-owned nuclear energy corporation. Five people died and a number more injured. The Rosatom press release referred to the accident as a liquid propulsion system using isotopes. There was a radiation release that spiked 200x the background levels for a time. The village near the explosion was ordered to evacuate. Speculation is that the SSC-X-9 missile was involved. The US abandoned nuclear missiles and aircraft 50 years ago when it became obvious that it would be very difficult to contain debris created by accidents. The second story is the sadly predictable scare from the local Alaska Public Media, waving the Chernobyl scaremongering red flag as Russia moves a barge-mounted reactor power system from its construction location near St. Petersburg to its operating location at Pevek in Siberia. This involves transit of the northern coast of most of Russia. Greenpeace, ever creative refers to the project as “Chernobyl on ice.” Pevek is located in a mining region. The story was intentionally written to whip up as much anti-nuclear public sentiment as possible, which is not all that difficult to do. What they forget is that reactors have been operating in and under the Arctic for over 60 years in military submarines and surface ships. While safety protocols are different based on which nation you are in, everyone in their own way wants safe operation. Of course, your mileage may vary. I wish the Russians well on this. Hopefully their engineering output is up to the quality necessary for extended operations.
- Costs. The Foundation for Economic Education, FEE ran a piece a couple weeks ago about how air conditioning costs have fallen since 1952. Air conditioning was invented in 1902 as a solution to a publishing company having problems with hot and humid conditions in a factory. Up until the 1950s, it was most used in commercial applications due to its cost. Since 1952, the number of working hours necessary to purchase a home air conditioning unit has fallen by 97%. Another way to look at this is that you can purchase over 36 units for the cost of a single unit in 1952. Air conditioning opened the south, west and mid-America for work during the summer, no small feat. The only bad news it that it also makes Washington DC habitable during the hot months, meaning congress will be in session longer to “help” us.
More later –