Author Archives: Editor of the Fabius Maximus website

About Editor of the Fabius Maximus website

Larry Kummer. See the authors page for more information about me, my co-authors,and the Fabius Maximus website.

The success of the NAZI atomic bomb program can inspire us today

Summary: Why did NAZI Germany not build an atomic bomb, despite their long head start? This is a powerful story of individuals under intense pressure, with conflicting moral obligations and facing great personal risk, deciding to do what’s bestt for America. It is one of the great success stories of WWII, and can inspire us today. Perhaps future historians will ask why America’s scientists built the bomb, unleashing the horrors of the atomic age (with its several close encounters with WWIII).

Atomic bomb explosion

One of the mysteries of WWII is why Germany did not build the atomic bomb. By summer 1939 they had two development programs running. In September they combined under the leadership of Werner Heisenberg, perhaps the world’s most qualified scientist to lead the program in terms of reputation, experience, and skill. Germany had the industrial resources, uranium ore (in Czechoslovakia), scientific talent, and financial resources (see the last section) to build the bomb. But they didn’t.

The US shifted the Manhattan Project into high gear two years after the German program began, on 9 October 1941 when FDR decided to build the bomb. We had an operational reactor in December 1942, which the NAZI’s never accomplished. We exploded the first bomb in July 1945, after three years and nine months of work.

Most of the senior scientists in the NAZI bomb program shared five goals, which produced this disparity of results between their results and ours. First, to not build a bomb. Second, to avoid questions from the Gestapo about treason. Third, to keep their younger scientists out of the army (their enlistment would follow the program’s end). Fourth, to continue their atomic research. Fifth, to avoid persecution by the German people after the war for failing to build the bomb. They accomplished all five goals, one of the rare moral successes of WWII. This demonstration of what individuals can do should inspire us today.

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Edgewood College attacks free speech. We laugh, ignoring its lessons for us all

Summary: Small incidents show the evolution of America. Pay attention, for these trends can be more easily stopped in their early days. See a new confrontation at Edgewood College. The reports about it are mostly mockery. More fools they. It has lessons for both Left and Right, showing the Left in action and illustrating one reason why Americans voted for Trump.

This graphic captures the hidden agenda of the Hate Crime fighters.

Hate Crime and Gavel

The Campus Reform website reports an amazing incident at Edgewood College, a private liberal arts college in Madison, Wisconsin run according to the Dominican tradition. Just we can see Niagara Falls by study of a water droplet, a tiny incident in a small college reveals how America is changing.

Email by Tony Chambers, Vice President for Student Development
to the Edgewood College Community. Links added.

“…Last week our college was violated by an act of cowardly hatred. One of our students initiated a process by which students (…and others) could express their feelings about the election outcome by writing their feelings on sticky notes and placing them on a table located in Wingra Commons. Many intense emotions were shared on the sticky notes representing various perspectives. From a review of the responses, this attempt at providing an avenue for sharing appeared to be a success.

“Unfortunately in a targeted act of intimidation and cowardice this past weekend, someone choose to post a sticky note on the inside window at the Office of Student Diversity and Inclusion (OSDI) in Predolin Hall. A great deal of fear, sadness, and anger among students, faculty, and staff resulted — especially for those that gather in the OSDI space. The message was hateful and harmful against members of our community. It violated every value that this institution considers to be at its core.

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Understanding the causes and making of fake news

Summary: I have been writing about fake news for a decade, during which the problem has grown worse. Now it gets attention, but ignoring the underlying cause. Reporters and analysts follow the usual flattering narrative: us poor snowflakes abused by evil bad guys. Instead we should look at the man in the mirror to see the cause. Demand creates supply.

“{A} man may be allowed to keep poisons in his closet, but not to vend them about for cordials.”
— King of Brobdingnag in Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. It applies well to the production of fake news. The Constitution prevents government action, but not by private media.

We’re not running from an invasion of fake news. Our gullibility causes it.
Fake news

In our free market society, our demand for exciting if fake news creates the supply. As awareness of our gullibility spreads, entrepreneurs and political engineers exploit it. We saw rivers of it during the election, and more afterwards.

What about the uncounted ballots for Trump in States where he has a large lead — so that Clinton really isn’t in the lead (e.g., at the American Thinker)? Google News highlighted this fake news from an obscure new website by an anonymous author. It is a deliberate lie spread by the far right. All ballots are counted. See Snopes debunking of it. Or click through to the sources they cite, such as the DoD’s voter assistance program.

Ditto for the fake news that “three million illegals voted for Clinton“. Ditto for “Pizzagate”, the story that a pedophile ring is operating out of a Clinton-linked pizzeria called Comet Ping Pong. And for “Hillary Clinton and the Phantom Tantrum” — “Unreliable sources are reporting that Clinton had a violent temper tantrum upon learning she had lost the 2016 election”.

Both the Left and Right love fake news, although only the right wallows in it. Exaggerated or outright fake stories about climate change have become SOP to keep the faithful fearful. My favorite was “The North Pole Is Melting” hysteria, circulated after scientists debunked it.

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Stratfor: China’s Economy is Living on Borrowed Time

Summary: Ripples of Trump’s win rock the boats of

Stratfor

China’s Economy: Living on Borrowed Time
Stratfor, 21 November 2016.

Forecast

  • Barring a decision to loosen government controls on credit, investment and home purchases, China’s housing and construction sectors will slow in 2017.
  • Industries that hold the bulk of China’s outstanding corporate debt, including commodities, building materials and other sectors related to construction, will bear the brunt of a sustained housing slump.
  • Sluggish construction growth and skyrocketing debt, coupled with sharp reductions in debt maturity periods, could cause corporate defaults and bankruptcies to spike next year, testing Beijing’s legal and institutional abilities to cope with them.
  • Meanwhile, increasing U.S. protectionism and other international developments could put even more pressure on the Chinese economy, forcing Beijing to trade its economic reforms for greater spending to keep the economy afloat.

Analysis

Next year is shaping up to be a decisive one for China’s economy. In the eight years since the global financial crisis struck, the vitality and importance of low-cost exports — the kind the Chinese economy used to rely on — have steadily declined. Scrambling to prop up the country’s growth and protect its near-universal employment, China’s leaders have embraced monetary and fiscal stimulus measures, causing the country’s outstanding debt to balloon to almost 250% of gross domestic product. Corporate debt, by far the largest share of China’s total debt, has likewise surged by more than 60% to top 165% of GDP. Now, a nationwide debt crisis looms at Beijing’s doorstep amid business defaults and bankruptcies, low industrial profits, winnowing returns on investment and the very real prospect of yet another slowdown in the real estate sector. How well Beijing manages these problems in the months ahead will, to a great extent, determine China’s economic, social and political stability for years to come.

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Have a different Thanksgiving conversation with the family about politics

Let’s do something different this Thanksgiving. As usual, give thanks for what we have and to those who bequeathed it to us. Since eating turkey and watching football is not enough, take an easy first step to reforming America. Instead of fighting about politics with your family, find points of agreement with them about the need to reform America. Make it a pleasant surprise for everyone, and a small but useful one.

The First Thanksgiving

“The First Thanksgiving” by Jean Louis Gerome Ferris (circa 1913).

Showing Up for Racial Justice provides a guide and hotline for people to call if they need help handling tough political discussions with their families on Thanksgiving (charmingly described as “help support white folks in having tough conversations with other white folks”). The resulting food fights will not promote racial justice or anything that might help reform America. But doing the opposite might.

Look across the table and seek to find common ground with those on the other side of the political spectrum. Our elites seek to keep us fragmented and quarreling — and so weak. Promote goodwill for both your family and America by exploring the views of those on the other side of the political spectrum. I will bet that you will find profound areas of agreement, not only about nature of America but also about our immediate needs.

The Founders created Thanksgiving Day understanding that our good fortune was political: the opportunity to build and maintain the Republic.  We have lost that awareness, but today can begin to regain it. Today invite others to help reform America. Awaken their recognition of the Republic’s peril. Discuss the problem. Encourage them to assume a share of responsibility for America and its government — and then act. It’s the ideal after-dinner conversation.

So what do you say when someone asks how we will accomplish this, despite the great forces arrayed against us, despite our divided and weak state? I recommend this answer…

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Ways to deal with those guilty of causing the fake news epidemic

Summary: The surge of talk about fake news highlights this important problem. We have an increasingly tribal view of the world, each tribe with its own lies — and contempt for those who disagree (especially experts). Our gullibility makes us easy to rule. But censorship will not fix the problem because it addresses the effects, not the causes. This post points to the guilty parties.

Unless we see & remember, news is the 21st C's opiate of the masses.

“There’s none so blind as they that won’t see.”
— Jonathan Swift’s Polite Conversation (c. 1738).

Content

  1. Making ourselves dumber.
  2. Causes of fake news?
  3. Reforming America.
  4. Distinguishing good from bad sources.
  5. For More Information.

 

(1) Making ourselves dumber

For ten years the FM website has reported the rise of “fake news” (I wish I had thought of that name). Now journalists have discovered this social disease, from a Buzzfeed study showing that “Fake Election News Stories Outperformed Real News On Facebook“. Both Left and Right see it only in their foes, insisting that their tribal truths are factual.

Comments on the FM website show this dynamic in action. Its diverse readership is ideologically diverse. Readers squeal with rage when their biases are peeled off like scabs and exposed to daylight. It is equally clear on Twitter, as unfollows surge following tweets of facts that disturb the sleep of ideologues on the Left or Right.

Propaganda magnifies the power of our elites. It recruits people to useful causes, prevents people from finding common ground against the 1%, and mints money (fake news sites are baskets of linkbait for advertisers). Zero Hedge is a classic example. Fox News is the ur-example (the Right is more successfully commercial at this game).

Fake news websites institutionalize this process, and profit from it. These engines of disinformation produce slanted streams of over-simplified information and exaggerated conclusions, mockery of those (especially experts) with different viewpoints, and outright lies. These induce and boost tribalism, closing their audience off from other viewpoints, other knowledge, awareness of uncertainties, and the ability to form balanced viewpoints. These websites are, I fear, increasingly becoming one of the major sources of news to Americans. No matter how intelligent and well-educated the readers, relying on these websites makes them dumber.

No wonder we have become polarized as a nation, when we cannot agree on simple facts. How can we find a common future, when we cannot begin discussions about values and trade-offs because each side considers the other — correctly — deluded about simple things.

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The annual Budget Games begin: Trump vs. Congress to control spending

Summary: Now that the Anything But Issues election is over, the media realize that there are issues other than racism and sexism — and debates other than those over the ephemera that dominated the election. Alexander Bolton of The Hill kicks off serious coverage of the Trump administration with “Deficits could stand in the way of Trump’s agenda“. It’s a powerful sequel to yesterday’s post, See the warnings about Trump’s infrastructure plan. It’s betraying populism.

Remember all those GOP tirades about Obama’s deficits?

The GOP majority seems unlikely to allow the fantastic deficits necessary to fund Trump’s promised hat trick of programs: more money for America’s already massive military, rebuilding America’s infrastructure, and tax cuts for the rich. Unfortunately for the 1%, the Federal government doesn’t spend enough on the poor to feasibly balance the budget on their backs. Congress seems likely to fully fund only increases for the military (fertilizing the MIC money tree) and tax cuts for their 1% paymasters.

Net impact on America: zero, leaving only debts for the future — much like the Reagan and Bush Jr. deficits. The tax cuts of those two Presidents came close to wrecking the government’s solvency. Third time’s the charm!

When reading this, remember that a properly led Congress is the most powerful branch of the Federal government. A President inexperienced in managing Congress further boosts their power.

Excerpt from “Deficits could stand in the way of Trump’s agenda
by Alexander Bolton at The Hill.

“Trump called during the campaign for a $1 trillion infrastructure package, $5 trillion in tax cuts, increases in military spending and the repeal ObamaCare, which could cost more than $350 billion over 10 years. At the same time, the president-elect has promised “not to touch” Social Security or make cuts to Medicare.

“…’We did not hear anything about entitlement reform from either of the candidates, and that’s a serious issue,’ said Michael Sargent, a research associate at The Heritage Foundation. ‘You cannot address the growth in spending without addressing entitlement issues.’

”…Congressional Republicans assailed President Obama early in his tenure over soaring federal deficits, which exceeded $1 trillion dollars during his first four years in office. Debt reduction was the main focus of GOP leaders after they took back control of the House in 2010.

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