Why Trump is president

June 25, 2019

Mark Steyn:

If respectable politicians are forbidden to raise certain subjects, the voters will turn to unrespectable ones. The people are telling their rulers something important here. The longer the ruling class – in Washington, London, Paris and elsewhere – refuse to listen, the worse it is going to be.

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Climate change

June 5, 2019

After seeing yet another post today about “climate change” and “denying science” I thought I’d post my thoughts on the subject, in the form of questions and my answers.

Q: Is the climate changing?
A: Yes. The climate is always changing, and always has been changing.
Q: Is human activity, in particular the burning of fossil fuels, affecting the climate?
A: Yes, CO2 is a greenhouse gas. Other human activities also have the potential to affect climate.
Q: Will human emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gasses cause serious harm to the environment, including runaway heating of the atmosphere?
A: Here’s where it gets interesting. There are models, based on scientific properties of greenhouse gasses and other scientifically measured factors, that show results along these lines. However, models like this have been around since the late 1990’s, and still haven’t produced a track record of accurately predicting future climate change. How could this be? Well, the climate is a complicated thing, and including all the factors that affect it in your model is quite difficult. For example, most climate models assume solar radiation hitting the earth is constant, but it actually varies. (Some of our best models of solar activity predict that we are entering a period of reduced solar radiation, which if nothing else were affecting the climate would lead to significant cooling.) So the claim that “Science!” proves continued use of fossil fuels will doom us is a serious exaggeration.
Q: Is it imperative that the government Do Something™ to prevent catastrophic climate change?
A: The track record of massive government programs to fix large problems is not very good. I believe that, even if the worst predictions of climate models turned out to be correct, the odds that government action would ameliorate the problem are infinitesimally small, while the odds it would make things worse are high.

Edited to add: You’ll note that the last question isn’t really about science, it’s about public policy. However, most of the “climate change” discussion is really about those policy issues, with “science” invoked to justify the policy.

The adult in the room

June 1, 2019

The United States is truly blessed to have William Barr as our current Attorney General.

Nobility

March 13, 2019

This is exactly right.”

A lot of current events can be understood once you realize that degrees from prestigious universities function in our society in a manner similar to titles of nobility in traditional European society. And whatever his faults, President Trump was elected by speaking for and to the modern equivalents of peasants or serfs. Much of the opposition (I almost said “unhinged opposition”) he has faced derives from people who see his election as a threat to their status and class.

Maturity

January 17, 2019

So Nancy Pelosi told Donald Trump he couldn’t give the State of the Union until the shutdown is over. Then he told her she can’t go on her trip until it’s over. I’m glad our government is run by such mature people.

If I ever run for president, one of my promises will be to always do the State of the Union as a written document, not as a speech. If I remember correctly, that’s what all presidents did until Woodrow Wilson, one of our worst presidents. The deal where the president makes a big, televised speech only contributes to our unhealthy deification of the presidency.

(My campaign slogan will be: “I’m not going to solve your problems.” My reason for running would be that too many people are looking for a president to take care of them, but no one could vote for me with that illusion.)

What he said

January 16, 2019

Donald Trump is a symptom of a new kind of class warfare raging at home and abroad

But the New Class isn’t limited to communist countries, really. Around the world in the postwar era, power was taken up by unelected professional and managerial elites. To understand what’s going on with President Donald Trump and his opposition, and in other countries as diverse as France, Hungary, Italy and Brazil, it’s important to realize that the post-World War II institutional arrangements of the Western democracies are being renegotiated, and that those democracies’ professional and managerial elites don’t like that very much, because they have done very well under those arrangements.  And, like all elites who are doing very well, they don’t want that to change.

The postwar era saw the creation of international institutions ranging from NATO to the United Nations to the World Bank, along with a proliferation of think tanks and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to accompany them. It saw the vast expansion of higher education in the United States, and the transformation of academic degrees into something close to must-haves for the upper-middle class. It saw a great expansion of power on the part of media organizations, and on the part of government bureaucrats and lobbyists, both of whose numbers increased enormously.

But after the turn of the millennium, other Americans, much like the workers and peasants in the old Soviet Union, started to notice that while the New Class was doing quite well (America’s richest counties now surround Washington, D.C.), things weren’t going so well for them. And what made it more upsetting was that — while the Soviet Union’s apparatchiks at least pretended to like the workers and peasants — members of America’s ruling class seemed to view ordinary Americans with something like contempt, using terms such as “bitter clingers,” “deplorables” and flyover people.

I think this is exactly right. There’s a lot I don’t like about Donald Trump, but he has spoken for and to people who our economy and culture have been leaving behind. Until those of us with good educations and urban lifestyles learn some humility and develop some respect for the people not like us, things will only get worse.

Vale MMXVIII, Ave MMXIX

January 1, 2019

Well, it was a crazy year. I have hopes that the next one will be better, though.