Streetlight effect and US political leaks

Given the extent of information that is being leaked these days by public employees in the US, one can safely state that a good chunk of NYT and WaPo writes itself but it is strange how nobody is caught for these flagrant violations; unless of course you are not aligned with the Democrats. Behold the Streetlight effect in the following case.

Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond President Jeffrey Lacker resigned on Tuesday as he disclosed his role in the leak of confidential information about the policy options that the Fed was considering in 2012.

Lacker said during a phone conversation with an analyst from Medley Global Advisors in October 2012 that she brought up an “important non-public detail” about Fed policy makers’ discussions before a meeting, according to a statement emailed by law firm McGuireWoods in Richmond, Virginia, on Tuesday. Due to the confidential and sensitive nature of the information, Lacker said he should have declined to comment or immediately ended the call….

The Medley report led to an internal Fed investigation, and Lacker said he failed to provide a full account about his conversation with the analyst in a questionnaire and interview with the Fed’s general counsel in December 2012.The Justice Department and FBI joined the inquiry in 2015 amid pressure from Congress for details about the leak. Lacker said that during that year, he disclosed the breach to law enforcement officials in an interview during their investigation. “In the subsequent 2015 interview with law enforcement officials, I did disclose that the analyst was in possession of confidential information during my October 2, 2012 conversation with her,” Lacker said.

Notice how the Fed, Justice Department, FBI and Congress descended on this leak?

US media (once again) caught doing Obama’s bidding

The latest on Russia -Trump “scandal” is the news that Susan Rice, a National Security Advisor in the Obama administration who is more famous as the Benghazi-fabulist, was central to unmasking the identities of individuals in the Trump transition team. Some background on how this story unfolded from The American Spectator.

How did we find out about Susan Rice’s role in Obamagate? Not from the mainstream media at first, but from a pro-Trump blogger named Mike Cernovich, who says he found out about the Rice story from a disgruntled staffer at a publication unwilling to publish it. In other words, he pulled a Matt Drudge. On Sunday night, Cernovich wrote that he had “been informed that Maggie Haberman has had this story about Susan Rice for at least 48 hours, and has chosen to sit on it in an effort to protect the reputation of former President Barack Obama.”….

Eli Lake, the columnist for Bloomberg who reported on the Rice revelation (Cernovich says that Bloomberg also sat on the story until he broke it),…..

CBC and the Trump travel ban

Anybody recall this headline from CBC about an aggrieved party affected by the Trump travel ban?

Trump travel ban has Iranian scientists looking for new places to do research

Today WaPo shared some facts.

The biggest beneficiary of the system, by far, is India, which produces a steady pipeline of workers trained in math, engineering and science. Seventy one percent of H-1B visa recipients came from India in 2015, according to a 2016 report by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. China comes in second, accounting for nearly 10 percent of H-1B visa recipients.

Notice that these stats are from 2015, i.e. before Darth Trump manifested himself, and that Iranians are not even in the top-10.

The Accidental Superpower

I urge you to read Peter Zeihan’s “The Accidental Superpower: The next generation of American Preeminence and the Coming Global Disorder”.

I will start with Zeihan’s method and professional bias, and then move to his observations.

Zeihan is an American geographer, who used to be a chief researcher at Stratfor, the geo-political analysis firm. The geographer’s deformation professionelle is that material factors of mountain range, rivers, plains, and harbours explain nearly everything about a how a society develops in the long term, and demography explains nearly everything else. Thus you can read books by Zeihan or  George Friedman ( The Next Decade, the Next 100 Years) and never read about culture or religion.

This leaves me somewhat at a loss to sympathize with  their world view. After all, speaking as a culturalist and a sky-hooker, this approach devalues what I think are the primary drivers of society. On the other hand, the emphasis on material factors which shape a culture, and the opportunities a culture is able to find for itself as a result,  is bracing.

Zeihan’s argument proceeds as follows.

  • America has been endowed with enormous natural advantages in terms of climate, available harbours, enormous riverine transport abilities, several thousand miles of isolation from potential enemies, huge areas contiguous to rivers that allow  easy agriculture, and as much energy as it needs.
  • The Bretton Woods agreements at the end of World War 2 said, in essence, that the US Navy would protect all maritime transport, thus obviating the need for nations to build navies to protect shipping, and opened the United States as a market to the signatories to the Agreements. At the end of WW2, the US was by far the most significant market. Thus countries were allowed to export their way out of the calamitous ruin of war. These agreements have been maintained by the US and its navy. Since 1945, says Zeihan, much of the world has been spared the need to fear their neighbours.
  • The stability of these arrangements has been threatened by the baby-bust that started around 1965. Industrialized countries are experiencing aging as never before. What hit Japan a decade ago will hit us all soon enough, with the significant exception of the United States. Consumer market expansion in Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, China, Belgium, Canada, Italy, Russia, Spain, Korea, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Norway, Denmark, Portugal and Finland will have ceased.
  • According to Zeihan, if these societies are no longer consuming en masse, “then much of what limited economic rationale exists for Bretton Woods disappears from the American point of view”.
  • Capital, which is now abundant and therefore cheap, will become much more scarce and expensive.
  • At the same time the United States is approaching energy self-sufficiency through the exploitation of shale oil technologies. This development will further insulate the United States from the world and increase its lack of interest in managing the world’s conflicts. Zeihan foresees that sooner or later, gradually or suddenly, the United States will shift into an isolationist political period. The relatively stable world created by the Bretton Woods framework will disappear and history will resume in its violent and chaotic ways.
  • China will fall apart. Conflicts will resume within Europe. The European Union will dissolve. Russia in in ireversible economic decline. Naval competition will resume. Wars, famines, pestilence, state failure: he predicts it all for the period 2015-2030. At the end of which, the United States will emerge more pre-eminent than ever.

You do not have to believe a word of it to benefit from Zeihan’s bracing and fact-based analysis.

I think Zeihan underestimates the interest that Americans have in a stable world order. I think he underestimates the connectedness of the US to the rest of the world, by any and all means: disease, drugs, the damage of wars, trade, ideologies, immigration, and sympathy for the afflicted.

Nevertheless, Zeihan’s emphasis on demographics and energy is productive. Demographics affords a powerful insight into the  near future. Enormous changes are being inflicted upon the world by changed reproductive patterns, by the decisions taken by billions of women not to have as many children. There is no population boom; that stopped around 1965, before most of the readers of this column were born, I venture to say. World population decline is the largest fact affecting the world in the 21st century. “Gaia’s Revenge” ought to be its title – but that would be my book, not Zeihan’s.

 

 

CNN’s Resident Cannibal Disses Trump

A while back, in the desperate battle for ratings, Reza Aslan, while reporting on some obscure Indian sect, partook in the delights of cannibalism by eating human brains. Perhaps you’re behind the times with the latest culinary trends in the progressive set, no doubt it’s part of the vibrant multicultural diversity most of us rubes are so insensitive to. So, from the “…you want fries with that” department…(here)

Perhaps he’s contracted some brain-rotting disease like kuru as his recent reporting is completely deranged. Regarding US air strikes in Mosul in Iraq, a tweet from this creature reads, ”…Trump promised to carpet bomb cities and murder families. That’s what he’s doing”. Two sentences, all lies.

The fact is, though it probably escapes the room-temperature IQs at CNN, innocent civilians get killed in battles; especially when the opposition is a primitive savage Islamic horde that uses women and children as human shields, uses hospitals and schools as bases for terrorist activity, enslaves and rapes Christian and Yazidi girls, stones women to death, etc. etc.

That said, the order delegating battlefield commanders to call air strikes in Mosul came from…you guessed it, Obama in December of last year. Not that you could glean that information from CNN, they don’t even have any reporters on the ground; they’re busy making up their fake news in their offices.

The Clinton News Network has graduated to the Cannibal News Network. Nice going, airheads.

Rebel Yell

It’s Come to This…3

Through all the fog of media Trump loathing and fake news, a blast of realism from none other than…wait for it…Johnny Rotten of Sex Pistols fame. It’s amazing how a few years under the belt and a bit of raw experience sharpens the mind.

Speaking in an interview on ITV’s Good Morning, Britain (h/t Breitbart here), he opined that President Trump was a kind of punk rock politician, a political Sex Pistol, and was being smeared by the left-wing media. Right on, there. He also would like to shake “fantastic” Nigel Farage’s hand for taking on the elites and giving Britain Brexit (“The working class have spoken”).

But wait, there’s more. After dubbing the Royal Family a “fascist regime” back in the 1970s, he’s mellowed somewhat admitting that he is really quite fond of Her Majesty and he “loved the pagentry” of William and Kate’s wedding. Added to that he thought the lefties who celebrated the death of Margaret Thatcher were “loathsome”.

For someone who burst upon the rock music scene with “Never Mind the Bollocks” in the 70s, that’s quite a change. What a pleasant sight it is to see working class boy made good trashing the smug, privileged liberal elites who feed us their daily drivel in the New York Fake Times, the Clinton News Network, and the National Toast.

Keep stickin’ it to ‘em, Johnny…

Rebel Yell

It has come to this – 2

 

I am struck by how normal this is becoming.

I am appalled by the attitudes of tolerance that have given rise to this.

I am amazed – bewildered – by the fact that our governing elites seem unable to allow us to say what is plainly obvious, that there is a relationship between what Mohammed preached and what some followers of Mohammed do in the name of his religion.

Islamic terrorism is not some kind of statistical accident, but a consequence of the religion’s doctrines, like Lenin out of Karl Marx.

It is not a ‘phobia’ to fear Islamic immigration and influence, it is a rational conclusion.

Why is this even disputed?

My Early Life – Winston Churchill

My Early Life was Winston Churchill’s first best seller, and deservedly so. Written in 1930 about events from his birth in 1874 to 1902, it recounts his not-so-successful school days, his time at Sandhurst, and campaigning on the North-West Frontier against the Pashtuns and in the Sudan against the Islamic forces of the Mahdi. It also covers his capture by the Boers in the war of the same name and his escape from captivity.

He recounts how the thirst for knowledge grew in him from the age of 22 onward. Stationed in India with the his regiment, the 4th Hussars, he spent his time from noon to 5pm, the siesta hours, reading Gibbon, Macaulay, and other great historians, as well as Darwin, Plato, Schopenhauer, Aristotle, and authors now lost to time.

His observations on religion versus science, the fighting qualities of the Pashtuns, the futility of trying to educate young boys in schools, and the pageantry of life in the cavalry,  are bathed in wit and good humour, and not a little tongue in cheek.

Having discussed the beauty of cavalry manoeuvres, in assembled masses of plumed and be-ribboned regiments, he writes:

“It is a shame that War should have flung all this aside in its greedy, base, opportunist march, and should turn instead to chemists in spectacles, and chauffeurs pulling the levers of aeroplanes or machine guns. …War which used to be cruel and magnificent, has now become cruel and squalid. In fact it has been completely spoilt. It is all the fault of Democracy and Science. From the moment that either of these meddlers and muddlers was allowed to take part in actual fighting, the doom of War was sealed. Instead of a small number of well-trained professionals championing their country’s cause with ancient weapons and a beautiful intricacy of archaic manoeuvre, sustained at every moment by the applause of their nation, we now have entire populations, including even women and children, pitted against one another in brutish mutual extermination, and only a set of blear-eyed clerks left to add up the butcher’s bill. From the moment democracy was admitted to, or rather forced itself upon the battlefield, War ceased to be a gentleman’s game”.

“I wonder often whether any generation has seen such astounding revolutions of data and values as those through which we have lived. Scarcely anything materialor established which I was brought up to believe was permanent and vital, has lasted. Everything I was sure or taught to be sure was impossible, has happened”.

I know the feeling, brother Churchill.

More about the book at Wikipedia.

Do yourself a favour and read it. It is short, witty, suitably self-mocking, and a window on a world gone forever by a man who knew it had.

Highway 13

Much has been made of the fact that, during a recent snow storm,  Highway 13, a major artery running through Montreal, was blocked by two truckers who refused to allow tow-truck drivers to remove the blockage their accident had created. The result was that some 300 citizens had to spend the night in a snow storm in a major urban artery, unable to leave, unable to seek help. The cops claim that they could not reach the blockage so that they could not sort out the truckers who had refused to be towed. The truckers claimed they would not move for reasons related to insurance. And all of Quebec society thinks the government failed to respond adequately that night.

The CBC reports that:

Two trucks were involved in the accident that created the blockage near the Hickmore Street exit of Highway 13 shortly after 6 p.m., he said.

One of the trucks had jackknifed across the southbound lanes, leaving no way for traffic behind it to pass — and leaving police unable to get to the scene immediately.

[QPP Police captain] Lapointe said the truck drivers did not co-operate when authorities tried to tow their vehicles, and they could face criminal charges.

“An investigation is ongoing, in the sense that they did not respect the work of police,” he said.

 

 

 

It interests me that this is one of those issues which has galvanized both the people and the government of Quebec. The Premier of Quebec, Philippe Couillard, has fired managers of the Highway 13 and appointed a senior investigator to find out what went on.

Anyone acquainted with Quebec will know there is a tendency to not cooperate for the general good. The lack of social cohesion should not be mistaken for individualism, however. Quebec is a low-trust society, which resulted  from three hundred years of people being organized from the top-down rather than being allowed or encouraged to organize from the bottom-up. [You are invited to read Francis Fukuyama’s book, Trust, if you want to learn more about the relationship between political centralization and lack of social trust.]

What strikes me as hopeful in this situation has been the unanimous opinion of French Quebec that this was an unacceptable situation, and that something had to be done. The Premier, Philippe Couillard, had to be seen to do something, and did.

Andrew Potter wrote in McLean’s magazine that the incident exposed the profound lack of social cohesion in Quebec. Then he had to pull back some of his statements in the article, by way of a Facebook posting. French Canadians  (should I be careful and say “many French Canadians?”)  reacted with fury at being observed in anything less than favourable light, and many English Quebecers thought his portrait overdrawn.

Yet there remains a good deal of truth in what Potter observed in general about Quebec society. It prides itself on its collective or communitarian impulses, while having the smallest networks of personal friends , the lowest levels of vulunteerism, the lowest levels of charitable giving, and the least trust in public institutions or other people,compared to other Canadian provinces.

More particularly:

What exactly went on in the minds of the two truck drivers who refused to let the tow trucks move them off the highway? Why were the tow truck drivers unable to move the trucks? Were they threatened with lawsuits or with violence? Why could the cops have not walked through the blocked cars to the scene, or driven up the other side of the road and crossed the median on foot? My concern is not with systems that failed, although there was no lack of that, my concern is with humans on the spot who failed.

There are other questions that will be asked and answered about why the Provincial Police could not reach the Ministry of Transport. I do not doubt their importance, but for me the really important question is why two truck drivers were able to cause a major urban highway to be blocked for 12 hours, and no one in authority to straighten them out.

Says Andrew Potter:

And then a serious winter storm hits, and there is social breakdown at every stage. In the end, a few truckers refuse to let the towers move them off the highway, and there’s no one in charge to force them to move. The road is blocked, hundreds of cars are abandoned, and some people spend the entire night in their cars, out of gas with no one coming to help. Forget bowling alone. In this instance, Quebecers were freezing, alone.

I thought the reaction of Quebec society to this minor disaster was telling: it was unanimous that something should be done; that some line had been crossed and that government had to be seen to do something, and actually remedy the problem. Yet it remains extremely sensitive to criticism from outsiders. Its inability – or the inability of a large proportion of its people – to endure honest observations from outsiders is not the symptom of a healthy society.

P.S Andrew Potter has resigned from his position as head of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada (March 23, 2017)

 

The Chronicle of Lower Education

Lil’ old Ottawa, capital city of the Great White North, shining outhouse on the banks of the mighty Ottawa river, thrusts its name into the headlines of the world again. The two renowned universities in the city, long-time rivals in the race for leading Bastion of the Absurd, Carleton University and the University of Ottawa, are neck and neck.

The University of Ottawa (affectionately known as U of Zero by Carleton inmates) and Carleton (affectionately known as Cartoon U by U of Zero inmates) are vying for the Bonehead Cup, the academic rival of the Stanley Cup, in the asylum of the Canadian Academy.

A year or so ago, U of Zero commandant, El Presidente Alan Rock, an excrescence of a previous Liberal regime, oversaw the banning of yoga classes on the grounds of “cultural appropriation”. (Will all non-Whites be banned from using computers as they were invented by White people? White men too, shock and horror!)

Not to be outdone, Cartoon U has fought back valiantly, by banning weight scales in the gym. There, that will put a stop to fat-shaming! “Fat Canadian snowflakes need no longer fear the terrifying judgement of gym scales…” as the Daily Telegraph (in Oz) so masterfully put it. Brilliant! That will transform Trigglypuff into the Sugar Plum fairy in the blink of an eye.

Indeed, as universities everywhere retreat from education and transition (?) into indoctrination camps, one wonders if the future supply of psychiatrists will be enough handle the snowflakes as they enter the real world. As for the faculty, there’s no hope for them. As The Donald would say, “SAD!”

Rebel Yell