Barrel Strength

Over-Proof Opinion, Smoothly Aged Insight

Reagan versus Trump


The people who elected Obama elected Trump. More importantly, the people who elected Ronald Reagan elected Trump. This is the more important contradiction in my mind. Reagan and Trump both threw down the gauntlet to their respective establishments in their times. Both represented conservative insurrections. Both came to power against all the weight of the media and the political establishments of their days. I remember the brouhaha of Reagan coming to power in 1980, and it resembles the current frenzy about Trump, though perhaps the Trumpophobia is even more deranged than the anti-Reagansim of the elites.

In terms of policy Reagan stood for the opening of markets, an invigorating and sincere anti-Communism, a process of de-regulation from the policies set down by the New Deal, and confrontation with the then Soviet Union.

Trump stands for almost the opposite, but not quite: an increased control of access to the US market, and an acceptance, within limits, of Russia’s interests and legitimacy. In contradistinction to Reagan and the Soviet Union, Trump holds that Russia is not the focus of evil in the modern world, and challenges the Democratic party and security establishment line that Russia is the prime enemy.

Each was elected as a candidate of the Republican party.  Each was elected by voters who rebelled against the presumed truths of their social betters, the Democrats and the media. Both were elected by an older, whiter electorate than their Democratic opponents obtained. Both were seeking to change the conventional agenda. Yet the net direction of the policies of Trump and Reagan may be opposite one another. How is this apparent contradiction to be reconciled?

In one sense, what they are both seeking to preserve is the United States of America, but each had a different idea of the principal threat. For Reagan, it was Communism, which looked like it might have prevailed if matters had continued as they had under Jimmy Carter. For Trump, it is the very concept of a United States itself. By this I mean that he may have foreseen that the path the US is on will lead to a pauperized working class west of the Alleghenies and that unlimited  immigration would reduce the US to something like the southern Confederacy, with wealth accruing to the top and a middle class wholly dependent upon the slave owners. To bring the message up to date, replace “slave” with “robot” and you get a rough idea of the expected outcome. I do not say he had exactly this image in mind, only that he does not like where de-industrialization is taking the US.

I find myself returning to the piece I wrote before Christmas, “Globalization, National Sovereignty and Democratic Politics”.

Trump has gone for a combination of national sovereignty and democratic politics. Hillary was working for hyper-globalization and democratic politics. And Reagan in his time may never have thought about hyper-globalization, though the forces unleashed by his administration have led to it.

My argument is that the same  sorts of people who elected Reagan elected Trump. Thirty seven years after 1980, the issues have changed. I have changed. My priorities have changed. And I would rather live in a coherent nation than live in the best hotel in the world, whether it be called Canada or the United States.


Cliodynamics and projection of political instability

Peter Urchin is a scientist, author and founder of a new transdisciplinary field of Cliodynamics (from Clio, the muse of history, and dynamics, the study of why things change with time), which uses the tools of complexity science and cultural evolution to study the dynamics of historical empires and modern nation-states. It is the “area of research at the intersection of historical macrosociology, economic history/cliometrics, mathematical modeling of long-term social processes, and the construction and analysis of historical databases.”

In 2010 he stated the following:

Quantitative historical analysis reveals that complex human societies are affected by recurrent — and predictable — waves of political instability (P. Turchin and S. A. Nefedov Secular Cycles Princeton Univ. Press; 2009). In the United States, we have stagnating or declining real wages, a growing gap between rich and poor, overproduction of young graduates with advanced degrees, and exploding public debt. These seemingly disparate social indicators are actually related to each other dynamically. They all experienced turning points during the 1970s. Historically, such developments have served as leading indicators of looming political instability.

Very long ‘secular cycles’ interact with shorter-term processes. In the United States, 50-year instability spikes occurred around 1870, 1920 and 1970, so another could be due around 2020. We are also entering a dip in the so-called Kondratiev wave, which traces 40-60-year economic-growth cycles. This could mean that future recessions will be severe. In addition, the next decade will see a rapid growth in the number of people in their twenties, like the youth bulge that accompanied the turbulence of the 1960s and 1970s. All these cycles look set to peak in the years around 2020.

He has since updated his views.

My research showed that about 40 seemingly disparate (but, according to cliodynamics, related) social indicators experienced turning points during the 1970s. Historically, such developments have served as leading indicators of political turmoil. My model indicated that social instability and political violence would peak in the 2020s…

My model tracks a number of factors. Some reflect the developments that have been noticed and extensively discussed: growing income and wealth inequality, stagnating and even declining well-being of most Americans, growing political fragmentation and governmental dysfunction (see Return of the Oppressed). But most social scientists and political commentators tend to focus on a particular slice of the problem. It’s not broadly appreciated that these developments are all interconnected. Our society is a system in which different parts affect each other, often in unexpected ways.

Furthermore, there is another important development that has been missed by most commentators: the key role of “elite overproduction” in driving waves of political violence, both in historical societies and in our own (see Blame Rich, Overeducated Elites as Our Society Frays). As I wrote three years ago, “Increasing inequality leads not only to the growth of top fortunes; it also results in greater numbers of wealth-holders. The ‘1 percent’ becomes ‘2 percent.’ Or even more. … from 1983 to 2010 the number of American households worth at least $10 million grew to 350,000 from 66,000. Rich Americans tend to be more politically active than the rest of the population. … In technical terms, such a situation is known as ‘elite overproduction.’ … Elite overproduction generally leads to more intra-elite competition that gradually undermines the spirit of cooperation, which is followed by ideological polarization and fragmentation of the political class. This happens because the more contenders there are, the more of them end up on the losing side. A large class of disgruntled elite-wannabes, often well-educated and highly capable, has been denied access to elite positions.”

“Republicans to gut ethics office”, flavour added

Once again BBC hyperventilates about the misdeeds of Republicans and informs us of the following.

Republicans have ditched a plan to gut the independent body that investigates political misconduct after a backlash.

The lawmakers’ surprise vote to strip the Office of Congressional Ethics of its independence prompted public uproar and a dressing down from Donald Trump…

The secretive move, which overshadowed the first day of the 115th Congress, was reversed in an emergency meeting.

Perhaps some background material is in order to put this in perspective.

Jun 10, 2010 (recall that during this period Democrats controlled the House and the Senate). Liberal publication Politico informs us of the following:

Lawmakers seek to gut ethics office

The Office of Congressional Ethics, a powerful symbol of Democrats’ promise to “drain the swamp” in Washington, is in danger of having its power stripped after the midterm elections.

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus have led the charge, airing complaints about the aggressive, independent panel in a private session with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last month, and they’ve drafted a resolution that, if approved, would severely curtail the panel’s power.

Jan 2, 2017. Liberal publication WaPo informs us of the following:

The 119-to-74 vote during a GOP conference meeting means that the House rules package expected to be adopted Tuesday, the first day of the 115th Congress, would rename the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) as the Office of Congressional Complaint Review and place it under the oversight of the House Ethics Committee.

Under the proposed new rules, the office could not employ a spokesman, investigate anonymous tips or refer criminal wrongdoing to prosecutors without the express consent of the Ethics Committee, which would gain the power to summarily end any OCE probe.

The OCE was created in 2008 to address concerns that the Ethics Committee had been too timid in pursuing allegations of wrongdoing by House members. Under the current House ethics regime, the OCE is empowered to release a public report of its findings even if the Ethics Committee chooses not to take further action against a member.

The move to place the OCE under the Ethics Committee’s aegis stands to please many lawmakers who have been wary of having their dirty laundry aired by the independent entity, but some Republicans feared that rolling back a high-profile ethical reform would send a negative message as the GOP assumes unified control in Washington.

A bit of a different perspective than BBC, don’t you think? On top of that, this perspective is from liberal publications, which highlights how out of touch BBC has become.

Barrelstrength year-end exchange over data, Hillary and Trump

In which the contributors to BS and friends of the contributors discuss data analytics

Dramatis Personae:

Arran Gold, numbers guy; Rebel Yell, chief scientist; Duke of Toronto, financial doomist; Dalwhinnie, Tory squire and Avatar of Enlightenment.

Arran Gold started it by sending the following article to the BS list. It went as follows:

How Analytical Models Failed Clinton

Her campaign was so confident in its data that it opted not to do tracking polls in states that decided the election.

The Novem­ber elec­tions pit­ted Demo­crats against Re­pub­lic­ans, con­ser­vat­ives against lib­er­als, Trump-style pop­u­lists and tea parti­ers against the es­tab­lish­ment and con­ven­tion­al politi­cians. An­oth­er con­test, fol­lowed mainly by polit­ic­al afi­cion­ados, matched tra­di­tion­al poll­sters against newly fash­ion­able ana­lyt­ics wiz­ards, some of whom—pre­ten­tiously in my opin­ion—called them­selves “data sci­ent­ists.”

It was well known that tra­di­tion­al polling was hav­ing prob­lems. The numb­ing ef­fect of bil­lions of tele­market­ing calls and the ad­vent of caller ID and voice mail had re­duced re­sponse rates (the per­cent­age of com­pleted in­ter­views for every hun­dred at­tempts) from the 40s a couple of dec­ades ago to the high single di­gits. As they struggled to get truly rep­res­ent­at­ive samples, poll­sters “weighted” their data more than ever be­fore, mak­ing as­sump­tions of what the elect­or­ate would look like on elec­tion days that were weeks, months, or even a year or more away.

You can read the rest of the article at the hyperlink. It offered a view of  the election what was beside the point, as if any improved techniques could have saved Hillary.


Dalwhinnie responded:


I am sure Rebel Yell and his statistician William Briggs will have something to say about this. For my part, the bias of this report is that better numbers could have told Clinton something and would have helped her make better decisions about ad-buys.

No. This election was not won or lost on polls directing ad-buys.

In an important  sense, this article doesn’t “get it”. Clinton lost because pride went before a fall, because Democratic votes are excessively concentrated in urban areas , and enough people voted in the right states in the right proportions for Trump to win, and that was because they had someone to believe in.

This is just more shouting at the bar.

Arran Gold responded in his characteristically polite way:

She never went to Wisconsin. The best explanation I have seen is that Putin put a cloaking device on that state so her campaign never saw it. She did go to Arizona and there was even talk of her taking Texas. That is just dumb.

That article was written by Charlie Cook of Cook Political Report who is non-partisan so there is no “get it” because his job is to analyze political campaigns. Is HRC a born loser, yes, but what should she have done differently? That is the question Cook is addressing.


He added:

Here is another example of Clinton’s approach being wrong.

Hillary Clinton’s Vaunted GOTV [ get out the vote ] Operation May Have Turned Out Trump Voters
A focus on big data over people may have backfired.


Clinton-was-gonna-lose-anyways doesn’t address the question on how to improve on a data driven campaign strategy next time around.


Rebel Yell then interposed:

Basically, the Clinton campaign believed their own bullshit about the voters.  And Trump. Big mistake.
Never assume away the capabilities of the enemy. The Clinton campaign outspent, out-organized and out-everything else the Trump campaign, but they still lost because it wasn’t about that.  It was about motivated voters getting to polls and doing it big time for Trump. If you get 30,000 people to rallies all over the country and have another 10,000 lined up waiting to get in, then that should tell you something.
As far as the polls go, the decline and fall of supposed whizz-kid Nate Silver should be a lesson to all.  He was totally wrong about Trump right up to election day and into the evening. Professor Briggs, Scott Adams and Don Surber (new book: Trump the Press) were on to Trump a year before anyone else was taking him seriously, not really because of stats, but just because they were listening to what Trump was saying and how the voters were reacting to him.
Always, the limits of error and polling sample size are never mentioned in all this.  Once you do that, you can see how absurdly small are the sample sizes (and where they come from) and large are the error bars.  Put those together and anyone can win.
Then, look at the size of the Trump rallies….the enthusiasm. I mean, haven’t these clowns watched Triumph of the Will?
It was a truly major disaster for the pollsters. Another one of many. They fell for the latest fad—in this case, Big Data.
Also, it’s not that she didn’t “get the message across” or anything like that.  The voters DIDN’T LIKE THE MESSAGE!  They got it all right. That’s why they voted for Trump.
Rebel Yell
He then added:

Of course their approach was wrong, but it was little to do with data.  Look, a chunk of the electorate is going to vote Republican, whatever, and a chunk Democrat, whatever.

If I’m a floating voter who may vote Clinton, or may vote Trump, you want my vote.  If you call me and my buddies ignorant, racist, xenophobic, prejudiced whatevers, because we’re thinking of voting for Trump, do you really think that I would consider voting for you?  Is that the approach that is going to attract voters? Big Data has nothing to do with it; it’s just common sense when you consider the attitude of the Democrat toady media and the progressive left.
The Clinton campaign, despite its obsession with hi-tech stuff, was the stupidest campaign I’ve seen in a long time.  And BTW, the Remainiacs in the UK did the same thing during the EU Referendum vote.  Look where that got them.
If you are running a candidate who is a lying, crooked, plastic robot who tries to do human imitations, at least try to make her seem human.  The overweening, oceanic sense of entitlement that oozed from her every pore was enough to make a maggot gag, but the campaign did everything to impress that on the voters.  Trump’s bloviating, brash approach was a big feature, not a bug, in his system.  He talked like ordinary people.  That’s how he got to them.  Scott Adams was on to this from day one.  And all his predictions turned out to be correct.  All of them.  No Big Data required.
The Duke of Toronto then bestirred himself from the sofa to write:
Well Ranted Rebel Yell
Stupid is a Stupid does…..they were sold a Bill of Goods for delivery of election results (based on using an untested process I should mention)  by some pencil necked geeks with higher maths and not much else. Occam’s razor applies in explaining the event  as your last mail underlines.
Arran Gold then found the piece of data that tells the important story. It appears that people who liked neither candidate voted for Trump by considerable margins.

The Hidden Group that Won the Election for Trump: Exit Poll Analysis from Edison Research

By: Larry Rosin “I don’t think there’s ever been two more unlikeable candidates,’ said Michael Che during the Weekend Update sketch on Saturday Night Live this week.  “Not one time in this election have I heard anyone say: ‘You know what? I like them both.'” The data from the Exit Polls conducted by Edison Research for the National Election Pool show Mr. Che to be correct – an extremely small portion of the voting public (only 2%) told our exit pollsters they had a favorable view of both.  While most voters did have a favorable view of one of the two major candidates – an astonishing 18% of the electorate told us they had an unfavorable opinion of both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.  And this is the group that won the election for Trump. …..

The story gets even more pronounced when we look at the states that swung the election to Trump.  In each of the cases in the table below, the votes gained by people who said: “I don’t like Trump but I’m going to vote for him anyhow” is greater than his total margin in these states.  In other words – it was the “Neithers” who pushed Trump over the top in these states and ultimately won him the election.

State % “Neithers” Trump Clinton
Wisconsin 22% 60% 23%
Pennsylvania 17% 56% 31%
Michigan 20% 50% 29%
Florida 14% 61% 24%
North Carolina 15% 63% 28%

The “Neithers” are more likely to be men (61%) and are more likely to be age 30-44 than in the younger or older age groups.  They are 78% white, as compared to the total electorate which is 70%. One of the most intriguing aspects of the “Neithers” is that a significant portion of those who were unfavorable to both Clinton and Trump were favorable to President Obama.  Nearly half of those who didn’t like either of this year’s two major candidates do have a favorable impression of President Obama – and a significant portion of this group voted for Trump. The 2016 election was unique in so many ways.  One distinguishing characteristic is just how many people had an unfavorable impression of both of the major party candidates.  To be sure, some of these people decided not to vote for either – Gary Johnson and Jill Stein combined for 18% of the vote among the “Neithers.”  However in the end, far more people who liked neither candidate chose Donald Trump and that provided him with his margin of victory in the battleground states.

The last mentioned article is both persuasive and relevant. It asked the right questions, and gets the right answers.  I particularly like the fact that many of the Trump votes liked Obama. The same nation elected them both.



1789, 1917, 1848, 1989, 2016?

The Political Year 2016

Dear Friends:


1066, 1789, 1939, 1848, 1968, 1989: all years that evoke ideas of revolution, war and discontinuous change. The question I ask is whether 2016 will be one of those years. I do not know yet. In many years of writing my Christmas letter, I cannot recall a year in which it occurred to me that this was one of those times. I cannot recall writing a Christmas letter as far back as 1989-1990 when Russian communism collapsed, as a Marxist would say, from its internal contradictions.

When Soviet Communism collapsed, something we had expected to be fixed and immutable disappeared. After all, we had been told for ages by the likes of Gwynne Dyer and others that it was a permanent part of the life of mankind and we had better get used to it. Several years were needed to adapt to its disappearance. It was like leaning against a wind when the wind stops and the sun comes out. The Russian state reverted to autocracy, but without illusions that its form of society and economy represented the inevitable outcome of objectively determinable historical forces, to which other countries would sooner or later submit.

I expect something of the same nature is underway in the West 26 years later. I cannot be sure, but I think the electorate is revolting against what they have been told by every organ of proper opinion that they must believe. In other words, what happened first in Eastern Europe in 1989 is proceeding westward through Western Europe and has arrived in North America.

Throughout the past summer I have heard apparently sane and well educated Americans go completely nuts on the subject of the Donald. There is no need to dwell upon that here. I hold in my wallet a Canadian $100 bill, earned in a bet just before Christmas, 2015, that Trump would beat Hillary. I felt sure of it at the time. The onslaught of negative press, the smear campaign throughout the year, made me doubt he could win. I ought to have had more faith in the American people, perhaps, but the same people who elected Trump had elected Obama twice.


If I am right, something is happening in the public mood. We shall be slower to see it in Canada because we have more reason to be satisfied with our system of government. Nevertheless, 2016 may signal a change in public mood. If 1968 marked the beginning of this period, the outbreak of the baby boomer post-World-War-2 revolt, this one may be in the reverse direction, away from permissiveness and towards a tightening up of the naively hopeful assumptions that guided us for the past fifty years.


Let us start with climate alarmism.

I will suggest for your consideration that, despite numerous fundamental differences, Marxism has been replaced by climate alarmism, as the dominating impulse of the political left. In turn, climate alarmism is the idea driving the people who are most upset with the world and who believe that action must be taken to save the planet from human depredations.  Ecological concerns provide a legitimacy to the political engineering of social and economic outcomes. Appearing to care for the environment, “climate change” and “global warming” endow our politicians with the belief that they are saving the planet even as they hobble the economy with high energy costs. They do this by making renewable resources (e.g.windmills) artificially price-competitive with fossil fuels, and by energy taxes, which raise the costs of production throughout the value-chain. Climate alarmism provides a ready basis of electoral strength for those who espouse these ideas, so that a politician can wreck the economy and still get elected. Witness Ontario or Germany under Angela Merkel.


The global warming scare is founded on a scientific idea, which is to say, something capable of being proven wrong. If it could not be proven wrong it would not be science. It would be a religion. The theory is that humans are loading the atmosphere with carbon dioxide (CO2), and that the CO2 will raise global temperatures by many degrees and thereby cause disastrous climate changes, such as desertification, sea level rises, and excessively rapid changes to the living spaces of wildlife. Cause leading to effect.

The first part of the global warming thesis is absolutely correct. Since World War 2 we have increased the amount of atmospheric CO2 to over 400 parts per million. It is the deductions from that observed fact which is almost wholly unwarranted: uncontrolled and large increases of global temperature.


Have the predicted increases of global temperature taken place? No. The observed ranges of global warming are less by several degrees centigrade than the most conservative estimates of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC’s estimates are based on computer models, and as we all know, models are based on inputs and assumptions. Do you think the model-builders might be biased? That they might have an ideological and career interest in having their theories confirmed by facts? And in hiding the tiresome gap between what their models have predicted and the sorry fact that global temperatures are not rising faster than they have in times past, from natural causes?


Vast amounts of money by governments have been spent to “prove” that man’s activities (burning fossil fuels)  are the exclusive cause of global warming, and that this tendency is extremely dangerous. You cannot read a newspaper today without reading about some catastrophe that we are causing through our burning fossil fuels.

The amount of government money being spent on research to prove these notions is in the billions, with governments firmly pressing their thumbs down on one side of the balance.


Worse, the discussion has been embittered by the fact that one side feels it is saving the earth, and the other thinks “hey wait a minute, I am less persuaded”. One side believes it cannot be wrong, and the other has no such passionate conviction. One side is promulgating religious belief, and the other is gingerly attempting to do science. As has been shown by the release of the Climategate emails a few years back, significant hiding and fudging of the data has taken place. Where is the missing heat? If the AGW theory is correct there is a lot of missing heat. If the theory is wrong there is nothing to explain, since the heat was never captured in the first place


As with religion, when one side cannot be wrong, deviation, no matter how small, is no longer error, but heresy. It is not enough to claim there is some global warming – which is true – it is required that you believe that we humans alone are causing it and that unless drastic abatement of our energy use takes place, we are doomed. This is religion, with Gaia in the place of God, and as scientific idea, it is complete rubbish. As a religious idea it has its merits, but so does Wotan.


I could spend pages on this subject without changing anyone’s mind on the issue, but I will venture a few observations. As little as 11,000 years ago, Canada resembled Greenland, with Ottawa under 4,000 feet of ice, and Toronto under 2,000.  That Canada is ice-free in summer except for the northern Arctic islands says that there has been global warming from natural causes, and global freezing before that.

Second, in the last two billion years, 80% of the time there has been no ice at the earth’s poles. We are in one of those periods in the life of planet earth when it is cold.  The world that has been getting colder for the past 30 million years as CO2 has been leached out of the atmosphere for various natural causes, and humans are putting it back in, just in time to prevent, possibly, the recurrence of next advance of the ice, which is scheduled to happen in the next 2-5,000 years. In that cheeky suggestion, humans are taking out of the ground “sequestered” carbon dioxide and putting it back into the atmosphere from which it has been leeched for the past thirty million years.

Just as with the supposedly “scientific” socialism of Karl Marx, I am confidently expecting climate alarmism and its basis, man-caused global warming,  to be tossed on the garbage dump of history, like cholesterol, phlogiston, the ether, and the idea of humors controlling the body. All junk. All believed in their time, and all rubbish.

For reasons I will explain, I think 2016 will be linked to the beginning of the end of the dominance of this idea.

The evaporation of Political Correctness

The second thing whose end I can foresee, or whose power we can see evaporating, is political correctness. The theory goes like this. If all humans are equal, in every way, then disparities in their respective collective and individual attainments can only be explained in terms of oppressions and disadvantages. (The issue goes away as soon as you realize that humans are unequal in ways as powerful and important as the ways in which they are equal, but that idea is never explored, let alone embraced).

This belief (axiom really) has led to the proliferation of “isms” and “phobias” which are, in essence, thought crimes. Sexism, racism, classism, heightism, body shaming, and so forth: there is a new one every month. And you are presumptively guilty if you use the wrong term for some group in some context.

Hence “youths” torched 1500 cars in riots in France last year. Terrorism is the product of social disadvantage, and so is crime. No one is at fault if everyone else is at fault.

The effects of political correctness are more insidious than that, however. Take names changing for groups. They used to be Eskimos (which is Athabaskan for “eaters of raw meat”, and now they are Inuit. Now suppose you witness a gas station robbery and the –admittedly unlikely perpetrator is a –what do you call him? –Inuit? But the robbery occurred in Arizona, where they still sue “eskimo” for Eskimos. The point of PC, and this is the deep result of not being sure what anything or anyone is named any more – is to force people to keep their observations to themselves, because to share their observations is to share their views on race, sex, class, religion, and other topics on which one is forbidden to have views about human differences.

Thus people become walled off from each other and are made to feel the need for someone to give them permission to speak. I guarantee you that that permission is not forthcoming. By the time you have found the politically correct term for someone in Iowa, it has evolved into something different in New York. And you are a socially cripple for saying as much aloud, only we cannot use the word “cripple”.

The ultimate goal of PC, as far as I can see, is to cause people not to trust one another with their thoughts. It is really a formidable form of political control, without the need for a KGB or a Gestapo.

If my analysis has not been offensive enough so far, it is about to achieve a new level of deplorability. You know where this is going. The US election this year produced an upset to established opinion on economics, trade, political correctness, the role of the media, climate alarmism, and God knows what else.

Trump. His name is Trump, and he just threw over the applecart in an election the closest parallel to which was Andrew Jackson’s in 1828. Out of the backwoods came Jackson against the coastal elite of the Federalist party. Jackson is still on the $20 bill, and John Adams is not. I am not an admirer of Andrew Jackson on the whole, and by the time Trump is done with the US Presidency I may no longer be an admirer of his. On the other hand I think right now he could be as important as Reagan was in transforming a dispirited America into something, as the phrase comes to mind, “great again”.

His choices for cabinet appointments concerning energy show that he has embraced the view that climate alarmism is ill-founded, and that liberating US energy production will make the country a globally competitive powerhouse.

On the subject of energy policy, Trump has appointed people to government posts who will rip into the man-caused global warming consensus and liberate oil and gas production in the US. Costs of manufacturing will go down, and direct employment in domestic energy production will go up. These will be the real world benefits, greater prosperity, even as places like Canada and Germany hobble their economies with the “clean energy” delusion.

More important, from my point of view, the heresy sniffers and persecutors of science are about to face the debate they have been avoiding these past twenty years (“settled science”, “97% of scientists agree”) . To a great extent, I expect the defunding of the obviously biased research directed at proving the existence of large global temperature increases (greater than 1 centigrade degree a century). Those paid to wring their hands about impending climate catastrophes will have to get a real job.

Climate alarmism has had the same effect in the natural sciences as Lysenko had in Soviet biology, but the recovery can begin as soon as the catastrophists face some actual competition for the research dollars which the government allocates.

Like communism when it fell, the theory of man-caused global warming thing will go poof! And in a few years we will forget how much we were in the thrall of this ludicrous pseudo-religion. People who think themselves clever will no longer be parroting the approved lines in conversation, and something like debate will once more be socially tolerated.

As to political correctness, its tide is apparently at the height. Since no one legislated it, no legislative change can completely fix it. What then will happen to it?


Here is an intimation of how I think it will be pushed back. One time during the election I watched Trump dealing with a bunch of reporters. He issue concerned the disabled, as I recollect, but it could have concerned any group which has been assigned sacred victim status. An Hispanic-American reporter in suit and tie started to make a fuss about the term “disabled” in the usual way this is done, by expressing moral outrage at the use of one term to designate the afflicted over another. It went like this:

“I am inconceivably offended by the use of that term”. Not quite but close enough for rhetorical purposes. So Trump asked him: “What term would you use?” The reporter replied with some 12-syllable euphemism. Trump considered it for a moment and said: “No, I’ll use disabled”. And that was the end of it. Unlike most politicians, Trump did not cave in to this pseudo-outrage on the part of the reporter and issue blushing apologies for his insensitivity and promise to put himself in a consciousness-heightening sensitivity session of the kind to which people are now directed by campus administrators/thought police.

I think that the US President, as the head of state as well as the head of government, has an important role in determining how far the euphemism nonsense of political correctness will be carried. There was a story in the 1980s that the Salvation Army was about to be kicked out of a Washington DC shopping mall for collecting money at Christmas, on some specious grounds of separation of church and state. Barbara Bush arranged for television cameras to film her putting a $20 bill into the Salvation Army’s lucite sphere at the mall, and that put an end to the matter.


It will take moral leadership of a different kind to expand the range of what can be said instead of constantly contracting it, as has been the case since I went to university 45 years ago. It may take as many decades, perhaps, to remove as it has taken decades to erect the edifice of speech control under which we are now living. Or it may go poof!, like communism did, when people shuck it off.

We all want to live in a liberal and tolerant society, where we all try to see that people will be treated fairly. I assume if you are reading this you feel the same way too. This PC stuff has nothing to do with fairness or tolerance; it is the impulse to enforce conformity of thought, and to prevent people from reaching obvious conclusions on the basis of observed facts. Future ages will mock us in derision for our version of political correctness, even as they suffer under newer forms of the same disease.

2016 saw the Brexit vote and the Trump election victory. Both signaled the rejection by significant sections of the population that all is working out well, that we are happy with what we see happening in society, that our media are reliable and concerned with facts, that unlimited immigration is what we want, that Islamic terrorism should not be called for what it is, or dealt with, and that we are happy not being able or permitted to discuss any of these feelings and observations in polite company, let alone in public.

Consequently, will 2016 be recalled as a revolutionary year on the scale of the French or Russian revolutions? Probably not. But it will mark one of those episodes where the rot was arrested, where repairs were begun, and where evil in the world started to be reduced.

Patriotism is not racism. A sensible and manly defence of liberty is not fascism. The poor of the earth are not sacred victims. It should not feel like a brave or politically dangerous thing to say any of these truths.

Happy new year!

























The fall of the Dark Tower, the Barad Dur, or the Impending Collapse of the Global Warming Hysteria:



The most significant and predictable impact of the Trump Presidency will be the collapse of the global warming hysteria that has gripped policy makers for the last ten years, or longer.

To repeat, the world’s climate is constantly changing. The issue is whether the effect of all the CO2 we are putting into the air is causing some or all of the observed, and rather small, amount of global warming.

Three facts are observed.

  • Atmospheric CO2 is climbing past 400 parts per million, and it is not conceivable that the increase of CO2 has some other origin than human.
  • Atmospheric temperatures show significantly less increase than the computers models of the IPCC have predicted. [This alone ought to be enough to dismiss the alarm, if AGW were a scientific proposition.]
  • Politicians and civil servants have created and sustained the global warming hysteria, for various reasons: increased tax revenues, the appearance of doing something about a world-threatening problem, and the greater control over the economy which  anthropogenic global warming (AGW) justifies.

In an excellent essay in The Manhattan Contrarian, the author points to Trumps cabinet appointments in energy and the environment, and draws the following conclusions.

Now the backers of the global warming alarm will not only be called upon to debate, but will face the likelihood of being called before a highly skeptical if not hostile EPA to answer all of the hard questions that they have avoided answering for the last eight years.  Questions like:  Why are recorded temperatures, particularly from satellites and weather balloons, so much lower than the alarmist models had predicted?  How do you explain an almost-20-year “pause” in increasing temperatures even as CO2 emissions have accelerated?  What are the details of the adjustments to the surface temperature record that have somehow reduced recorded temperatures from the 1930s and 40s, and thereby enabled continued claims of “warmest year ever” when raw temperature data show warmer years 70 and 80 years ago?  Suddenly, the usual hand-waving (“the science is settled”) is not going to be good enough any more.  What now?

As the Contrarian writes, of the $28 billion the US Department of Energy spends annually, roughly half of it went to global warming research and energy investment predicated on the replacement of fossil fuels. These projects will all disappear once the spigot of government funding is turned off. The AGW fanatics will have to find useful jobs, and the corrupted scientists can go back to measuring things without recourse to false doctrines.

Like Sauron’s tower, the Barad-Dür,  AGW will collapse when the Ring of Green Power is melted, and Trump is about to toss the Ring of Green Power into the cleansing fire of rational skepticism. What an unlikely Frodo! What an inconceivable Gollum!





Victor Davis Hanson says truth; please listen

I cannot say more, or better, than Professor Hanson.

Who is smart and who is stupid?

Who is ethical and who is not?

The Democrats are in ruin. The Republicans are in control. Obama has left the ruin of the Democratic Party behind him.

“Hillary has created a crime syndicate”.

“Trump had all the right enemies”.

“Win or not this was not going to be a ‘lose nobly’ campaign”.

“There was never a ‘never Hillary’ movement on the Left. There ought to have been”.

“Trump has animal cunning”.

“You don’t know what illegal immigration is until you have found a dead body on your property”.

” Trump put the Clintons in permanent retirement”.

“80,000 voters in Detroit who voted for Obama did not turn out for Hillary.”












How little divergence is needed to become a heretic


Heretic, according to the Oxford Dictionary, means:

  1. A person believing in or practising religious heresy.
 1.1 A person holding an opinion at odds with what is generally accepted

Middle English: from Old French heretique, via ecclesiastical Latin from Greek hairetikos able to choose (in ecclesiastical Greek, heretical), from haireomai choose.


How interesting is the original Greek meaning: able to choose! Which implies that the orthodox are unable to choose, because they do not allow themselves, or are not allowed, freedom of choice in what they believe.

Today’s interesting article is published on Judith Curry’s blog, setting out the travails of Roger Pielke Jr., Scott Adams, Matt Ridley, and other lukewarmers and non-alarmists.

At the end of the article Judith Curry observes:

The truly astonishing thing about all this is how little climate heretics – such as myself, Roger Pielke, and Matt Ridley – actually diverge from the consensus science position: RP Jr. hews strictly to the IPCC consensus; Matt Ridley is on the lukewarm side of the IPCC consensus, and I have stated that the uncertainties are too large to justify high confidence in the consensus statements.

The point of all orthodoxies of belief is that deviation is not merely error, it is a sin. When “scientists”, people committed to evidence and disproof of theories, become heresy sniffers, they have passed outside of science into belief. To make my point clear: I do not need to believe that things drop to the ground, it is demonstrable.  Belief is reserved for things which cannot be proven. Like Darwin or God.

I remain committed to the idea that progress in  science consists of making hypotheses from observations, seeing their implications, taking the implications seriously enough to test them, and then setting out to find under what conditions the theory fails to explain the implications.   See the entry on Sir Karl Popper here for a detailed explanation of this approach.

[ A theory can be useful even it is not a complete explanation for everything within its range, such as, for instance, Darwin’s theory of  natural selection. Lest the heresy sniffers go into over-drive, the reason why natural selection is incomplete is simple: thirteen years later, Darwin wrote another theory of evolution complementary to the first, called sexual selection, in which the drivers of evolution are the sexual congregants themselves, and are non-random].

Back to the politics of climate change. It is no use denying climate change; it is like denying gravity. But the people who shout “climate change!”  assume that we humans are driving the change, preponderantly or exclusively, and that it can be abated economically, and must be abated to forestall planetary disaster.  “Climate change” is a weighted slogan more than an ever-present reality.

Hence Trump’s announcement of a climate skeptic, Scott Pruitt,  to head the Environmental Protection Agency marks a huge change from the “science” policies of the Obama regime. Without ever making a big fuss of his climate policies during the election campaign, Trump managed to evince a skepticism that gave us lukewarmers heart. Pruitt’s appointment constitutes a much needed policy change of the largest kind.

In short, you do not need to be a global warming denialist to be treated as a heretic. You need only be less frenzied in your agreement with the Party Line. A Trump cabinet full of “heretics” is welcome. Some actual thinking might be allowed in government as a result.

Globalization, national sovereignty and democratic politics

Earlier this year, an economist named Dani Rodrik published an article of some importance, that in part helps explain Trump’s victory.

I am leaving aside the racial-cultural element of anti-whiteism discussed recently in Identity Politics, the Polite and Rude Versions. That explanation has real but limited application, just as has this economically-oriented approach.

Briefly, Rodrik called it the trilemma of the world economy, and the trick is: you can only have two of the three outcomes.

According to Rodrik, the choice is among the nation state, democratic politics, and international economic integration. You can get any two but not three, in full. I will question this assertion more fully below, because in the end I think one is left, in the globalized economic order, with neither state nor democracy. Let us begin with the issue of national sovereignty.

Rodrik cited the economic writer Andrew Evans Pritchard on why the latter  supported Brexit.

“Stripped of distractions, it comes down to an elemental choice: whether to restore the full self-government of this nation, or to continue living under a higher supranational regime, ruled by a European Council that we do not elect in any meaningful sense, and that the British people can never remove, even when it persists in error.

We are deciding whether to be guided by a Commission with quasi-executive powers that operates more like the priesthood of the 13th Century papacy than a modern civil service; and whether to submit to a European Court (ECJ) that claims sweeping supremacy, with no right of appeal.

It is whether you think the nation states of Europe are the only authentic fora of democracy, be it in this country, or Sweden, or the Netherlands, or France ….”

This is exactly the argument I have made about Brexit: that to remain in the EU was to revert England to a form of government last seen in the pre-Reformation Tudor era, where parliament had very limited jurisdiction and the Papacy (think Cardinal Wolsey) had very large jurisdiction. In this case replace the Papacy and Church with the European Commission and the European Court of Justice. Nowadays the Remainders get to play the role of Catholics in a protestantizing Britain. Think of Henry VIII as an early Brexiter.

Rodrik himself thought the the European Union could successfully combine a hyper-integrated common market with democratic politics. After the treatment that Greece received in the past couple of years, he no longer believed so.


In regards to the United States and Trump, there is no ambiguity to be found. If the United States has to abandon deeper economic integration in order to preserve its nationhood, then it will do so. It will restrict illegal immigration, and raise the price of the labour of those already within its borders. If that means Americans will pay more at Wal-Mart, so be it. If economic integration with China requires some tougher enforcement of rules, then Trump will get China’s attention by beefing up the security and recognition of Taiwan.

Hillary Clinton stood for tighter economic integration and democratic politics, at the expense of the nation state.  Trump stands for a stronger assertion of the nation state and democratic politics, with economic integration the relatively less important.

To my mind, the degree of loss of national sovereignty implied in hyper-globalization ultimately means a lessening of the range and effect democratic politics as well., because in the modern age the state acts as the expression of the popular will, as transcribed and translated though constitutional arrangements. In order to make economic integration work, there must be dispute settlement, and for dispute settlement to work, the will of the people – as expressed through local legislatures – must be frustrated by the property rights of corporations and other economic actors to be compensated for any limitation on their treaty-based “rights” to earn money.

It is entirely possible to have states without democratic arrangements, as ancient and recent polities attest, but is difficult to conceive democratic arrangements without a stet in which they are housed and expressed.

Consider international copyright regimes. If Canada pursues a cultural policy favouring domestic television and movie production, it will inevitably limit, or try to limit, the economic presence of foreign copyright-holding interests on its airwaves. This is Canadian broadcasting policy, tout court.  Full economic integration of the kind foreseen in the Transpacific Partnership implies the right to sue for the violation of economic rights of a corporation by a host government. [See for example, investor-state dispute settlement mechanisms, in the Wikipedia article just cited.]

Thus I arrive at the Dalwhinnie proposition: the perfection of global trade demands a degree of extra-parliamentary adjudication that puts and end to popular sovereignty. Democratic institutions become irrelevant.

In the long run, it is not a trilemma among state sovereignty, democratic politics, and globalization. You do not get a choice among any two, if global economic integration is to be perfected. You get one: transnational global economic and political integration. National level democracies and state sovereignties would be held down by a web of rule making that is extra-parliamentary. Votes would cease to matter – as they have in most national referenda in Europe about the European Union, whether to leave or join.

That would explain the recent revolts against the consensus of the Volvo-drivers.

Accordingly, the Trump victory is no small thing. It is, truly, an American Brexit.