Fossil Fool

A couple of days ago I listened to Joe Rogan’s podcast with Bernie Sanders. The thing with Sanders is he’s actually pretty good at identifying genuine problems. In 2016, what he was saying about blue collar America wasn’t much different from Trump’s message, which is partly why so many of the Bernie Bros couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Hillary. However, Sanders’ solutions to the problems he identifies are terrible, consisting of top-down authoritarianism presiding over a command-and-control economy, much like what he saw in the Soviet Union on his honeymoon. Take for example his proposals for tackling climate change around the hour mark of the podcast:

Sanders has bought wholesale into the nonsense that we have 12 years left to save the planet, but his solutions are even more daft. His proposal is to “tell the fossil fuel industry that their short term profits are not more important than the future of the planet”. He then goes on to say “you cannot keep producing a product which is destroying the planet.” Rogan asks him whether this means he will tell the fossil fuel companies to stop selling their products, and Sanders replies that yes, “this is the bottom line”.

It’s hard to know where to begin with such stupidity. The only major oil and gas companies the US government would have some degree of control over should it issue such an order are ExxonMobil and Chevron. While most international oil companies work overtime not to fall foul of the US government in ordinary circumstances, faced with what amounts to closure orders from a President Sanders they’d cease all cooperation immediately. Sanders talks about the need to work with Russia and others but it’s hard to imagine Gazprom and Rosneft shutting down production because a septuagenarian multi-millionaire from Vermont deems it necessary. Although if Theresa May were still British Prime Minister you could well imagine her closing down BP in order to seal her “legacy”.

But the impossibility of implementing the policy isn’t even the most stupid part. Sanders speaks as though the fossil fuel companies sell products with no utility, as if they don’t underpin the entire way of modern life. He seems to think they’re luxury products we can do without if only the right leadership is shown. I see this with a lot of people: they think cars should be electric, and electricity generated by solar, wind, and hydro power and therefore we don’t need fossil fuels any more. What staggers me is the ignorance among the general public about what fossil fuel products are actually used for. Even making the ludicrous assumption we could switch our cars to electric and generate all electricity from renewables, how do we power planes, ships, and tractors without fossil fuels? Even my erstwhile environmental engineer friend didn’t seem to understand that a demand for fossil fuels will likely remain until the very end of human existence. She didn’t seem to consider the economics of her preferred policies at all, let alone the effects at the margins (i.e on the poor), which puts her in good company with Bernie Sanders and most of the public who subscribe to swivel-eyed environmentalism. One minute Sanders is bemoaning the difficulties low-paid workers face in America, the next he’s saying we should make basic energy products as expensive as diamonds.

As I’ve said before, I have a theory that when a certain number of generations have taken the bottom two levels of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs for granted, the society starts to self-destruct. A critical mass of people simply lose connection with the foundations which prop up their society, start meddling with them, and eventually call for their destruction. I’ve tried to think of a similar instance from history, and the closest I can find is China’s decision in the 15th century to destroy their ships in an effort to isolate themselves from the perils of free trade. And even that doesn’t come close to ordering a halt on fossil fuel production. What’s that saying that whom the Gods would destroy they first make mad? We’re here, folks.

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The Sunshine State

I’m now back in Annecy, my return flights from the US via Heathrow having passed without so much as a minute’s delay. I finally managed to get to sleep around 3:30am last night, having spent the previous afternoon desperate to go to bed.

Other than New York in 2016 I’d not been to the US in years, and had forgotten how big it was. When my brother said he lived in Miami I assumed he actually lived in Miami, not a town called Weston 40 minutes away by car. The Russian I was meeting was staying in Pembroke Pines, which when I looked on Google maps appeared to be just next door to Weston, possibly within walking distance. It turned out it was a 20 minute drive down a 5-lane highway. When you visit the US you need to seriously recalibrate distances in your mind, especially if you live in a medieval town in the French Alps.

Miami wasn’t what I expected. For a start, we didn’t really go there. We spent some time on Hollywood beach, which was really nice, but that isn’t Miami. Miami itself seems to be a collection of high-rise office blocks and the Miami you see on TV is on a huge sandbar called Miami Beach. That consists of a rather ordinary grid of concrete streets filled with cafes, restaurants, and shops which I am told turns pretty wild at night, alongside a beach which is much like any other in Florida. We spent a few hours there overheating and getting lost before visiting the Vizcaya museum and gardens. Built around the time of WWI, this is what passes for an ancient monument in Miami. The other thing about American cities is there is often no city centre, or at least one you can wander around in. Outside of the North East they seem to be a collection of buildings and if you want a particular one – be it a restaurant, office, or shop – you drive to it, park outside, and go in. The only place you can park the car and wander around is inside a strip mall. This is convenient, but doesn’t make it easy when you’re tasked with entertaining a Russian for an evening, especially if she’s the one driving.

As planned, I rented a car and started driving north on my way to Pensacola. American hire cars don’t come with satnavs so I had to use Google Maps on my phone. I’d never used this before and it worked perfectly, but because I’d first used the phone in Nigeria the default voice was Nigerian English and it turned out to be harder to change than you’d expect. So for 20 hours worth of driving all my directions were delivered in a heavy Lagos accent. Once again the sheer size of America became apparent with instructions such as “Merge onto I95 and continue straight for the next 272 miles”. I drove from Fort Lauderdale airport north on I95 and stopped the night somewhere near Cape Canaveral after 3 hours of driving. The next morning I drove due north to Jacksonville then turned 90 degrees left and drove due west on I10 for 5 hours. The 700 mile drive from Fort Lauderdale to Pensacola involves a single, solitary left hand turn. Little wonder Americans think autonomous cars are feasible. The Florida panhandle is dull in the extreme – mile after mile of forests of tall, thin trees – on a dead straight road. Fortunately the experience of driving on American roads (in an underpowered Nissan) was new enough to keep things interesting. I am amazed by what Americans are willing to tow along the highways at speed. I passed pickup trucks doing 70mph in the middle lane towing giant boats behind them. I passed at least three accidents where more than 4 cars had piled into the back of one another like a concertina. I don’t think I’ve seen more than one of them the whole time I’ve been in France. Either American brakes are rubbish, they don’t understand stopping distances, or they spend a lot of time not paying attention.

I had a good time in Pensacola with my friend “Leisure Suit” Larry, who is quite a character. We met in Kuwait in 2004 and got on like a house on fire, despite him being 25 years my senior. As a teenager in the sixties, he’d joined the US army as a paratrooper “in order to raise hell”, serving in Vietnam, Okinawa, and the Dominican Republic. Now retired, Larry was an old-school maintenance man, and had worked in almost all the US states, and visited them all. In addition, he was working in Iran when the Revolution happened, Syria when Reagan slapped sanctions on the country, Basra when the Iranians bombarded it and Algeria when the US bombed Libya back in 1986. Diplomats soon learned that if Larry turned up to work in their country, the regime’s days were numbered. He’d turned up in Venezuela to be a plant manager only to later discover the chap who was supposed to be doing the job had been kidnapped and was being held for ransom in the jungle. His boast was he’d never been around at the start of any project: he only got called in when it was in the shit and all the money had gone. In Pensacola I stayed with he and his wife, to whom he’d been married for 53 years. That’s some effort.

We spent a morning at the nearby museum of naval aviation, Pensacola being the home of the US Navy’s air arm and the Blue Angels display team. This was impressive, filled with just about every aircraft that’s ever been used by the USN and models of each class of aircraft carrier. Here’s a pic of an 8 year old boy in the cockpit of a Phantom, which was surprisingly comfortable.

I was also surprised by how big the F14 Tomcat is: it’s not a small plane.

That afternoon we met up with one of Larry’s sons, a former US Army Ranger, on Pensacola beach and had a swim. Entering the Mexican Gulf is like taking a warm bath. The weather up there is a lot better than in south Florida: less humid and without the interminable thunderstorms which wreck the plans of tourists every afternoon in the summer months. In the evening we went to a extraordinarily popular Irish bar which was about as Irish as I am. The steak was good, though. Before I left Pensacola for the long drive back down south, Larry and I got a picture together.

Fifteen years is a long time, but in many ways not much had changed. I always meant to go and see old Larry again and finally I did. It was well worth the trip.

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Ilhandled

Unsurprisingly, people are rather upset about this:

Goaded on by the president, a crowd at a Donald Trump rally on Wednesday night chanted “send her back! send her back!” in reference to Ilhan Omar, a US congresswoman who arrived almost 30 years ago as a child refugee in the United States.

But it’s important to remember this didn’t come out of a clear blue sky.

If someone who looks, dresses, sounds, and acts foreign stands up as an elected member of the US Congress and continuously slanders millions of ordinary Americans as white supremacists, what do people think is going to happen? That they’ll just take this abuse on the chin? There is no population on earth which would put up with such a person for very long, and Omar and her ilk seem determined to see just how far the tolerance of the American public can be pushed. She’s playing a very dangerous game, and she’s at least half-responsible for making “Send ’em all back!” a slogan in American politics, something which would have been unheard of even two years ago. As I’ve said before:

America has been fortunate so far that white nationalists have tended to be grossly incompetent. This is because there’s been no future in subscribing to it, it’s a dead-end losers’ game. But if Somalis in headscarves are going to spend their time denouncing white people from congress, while at the same time you have a tens of millions of disenfranchised right wingers who happen to be white, an avenue of opportunity might open up. And then instead of the bunglers some competent people arrive on the scene who’ve carefully observed how the ruling classes behave, know how to evade their counterattacks, and form a movement which suddenly becomes too big to shut down. And then the fun really begins.

This has gone far beyond Republicans versus Democrats. The American ruling classes need to get a handle on this woman, and fast.

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Class Struggle

This tweet provides an interesting insight into the mindset of Britain’s ruling classes and those who support them:


To Britain’s Metropolitan professional classes, this shows how beyond the pale Trump is. To me, it shows how catastrophically authoritarian Britain has become. I don’t know what Americans think about it, but I suspect they’re rather glad they’re an independent nation with a constitution which prevents citizens being prosecuted for unapproved speech. In fact, reading this tweet is probably the only thing which would make Americans glad they have the lawyers they do. That’s some achievement.

This story is not unrelated:

Scotland Yard performed a climbdown on Saturday following accusations it had attempted to use the furore over the leaking of comments by the British ambassador about President Trump to silence the British media.

As criticism mounted steadily over the Met’s warning to editors that they faced prosecution if they published leaked government documents, assistant commissioner Neil Basu issued a statement clarifying that the force did not want to stop the press from publishing stories.

His reassurance appeared to represent a U-turn from a statement Basu had issued less than 24 hours earlier in which he warned the “media not to publish leaked government documents that may already be in their possession, or which may be offered to them, and to turn them over to the police or give them back to their rightful owner, Her Majesty’s government”.

The reason the Met performed a U-turn is because it generated howls of outrage from the press, for example:


But you’ll notice that when ordinary people were being prosecuted for off-colour jokes, posting rap lyrics, and mean tweets the press was utterly silent. There’s a reason for this. The ruling classes, for which the mainstream media is simply a propaganda machine, believe they are harbingers of truth whose duty is to inform the plebs on what they must say, do, and think and as such their freedom of speech must not be curtailed. But the plebs are plebs, and who knows what harm they may cause if they’re allowed to go around saying what they like? Therefore, we need rules on allowable speech to keep them in line.

The truth is, free speech is dead in Britain, assuming it was ever alive. What we have here is a fight between different sets of the ruling classes and those who hope to join them over who gets to control the language, while both agreeing that the oiks should be chucked in jail for saying the wrong things.

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Sisters Sledge

Staying on the topic of my brilliant foresight, here’s what I had to say in February:

I have a feeling [Nancy Pelosi’s] biggest challenge is going to be putting a leash on the likes of AOC.

And in January:

The current Democrats are a coalition of lunatics headed by the sort of ultra-privileged, wrinkly old white people they claim to despise. Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer look as though they’re about raise an objection to a black family moving into their gated community, not cede power to an upstart Latina from Queens.

In short, AOC is going to present a far bigger headache for establishment Democrats than she is Republicans in the coming years.

And here we are:

The public spat between Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif, got a lot nastier on Wednesday, with the freshman congresswoman suggesting that the speaker is “singling out” her and her colleagues based on their race.

Pelosi has worked to keep the Democratic caucus in line, specifically four newly-elected outspoken progressives: Ocasio-Cortez, Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass..

However, a feud between Pelosi and the quartet escalated after Congress passed a border funding bill that the four young Democrats opposed. Pelosi discussed the bill, and those in her party who oppose it, in an interview last weekend. She told the New York Times: “All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world, but they didn’t have any following. They’re four people, and that’s how many votes they got.”

Ocasio-Cortez said to The Washington Post on Wednesday that the “persistent singling out” by the Speaker may be more than “outright disrespectful.”

And people say politics is unpredictable these days.

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Malice forethought

Back in December I wrote the following in regards to Somalian congresswoman Ilhan Omar:

Any society which allows rank outsiders to enter and immediately set about agitating for radical change probably won’t last very long. Any society which allows foreigners to take part in their national political process such that they attempt to overturn parts of the constitution, suppress free speech, and denounce the population as racist is engaged in a suicide pact.

Here’s Tucker Carlson a few days ago:

No country can survive being ruled by people who hate it.

There are signs that some people who move here from abroad don’t like this country at all. As we told you last night, one of those people now serves in our Congress.

Think about that for a minute. Our country rescued Ilhan Omar from the single poorest place on Earth. We didn’t do it for the money, we did it because we are kind people. How did she respond to the remarkable gift we gave her?

She scolded us, called us names, showered us with contempt. It’s infuriating. More than that, it is also ominous. The United States admits more immigrants more than any other country on Earth, more than a million every year. The Democratic Party demand we increase that by and admit far more. OK, Americans like immigrants, but immigrants have got to like us back.

That’s the key, it’s essential. Otherwise, the country falls apart.

It appears Tucker has been reading my archives. Good for him. Naturally, Omar’s response was to call him racist. But he also made this very good point:

In some ways, the real villain in the Ilhan Omar story isn’t Omar, it is a group of our fellow Americans. Our cultural gatekeepers who stoke the resentment of new arrivals and turn them into grievance mongers like Ilhan Omar. The left did that to her, and to us. Blame them first.

Indeed: the real problem is not immigrants hating America, it is Americans hating America, and this can easily be extrapolated to the UK and other western countries.

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Ngo Area

Over the weekend the journalist Andy Ngo got attacked by Antifa at a rally in Portland, Oregon:


He ended up in hospital with his face bashed up and bleeding on the brain. There were also reports that milkshakes laced with corrosive liquid concrete were being prepared in advance and handed out to people to throw.

This was allowed to happen because the Mayor of Portland long ago decided Antifa could own the streets, assault people on a whim, and he would order the police to stand by and let it happen. However, if Antifa met with any sort of opposition, the police would be sent in to break things up and the mainstream media ordered to run the narrative that Antifa weren’t to blame. This has been the way of things for Antifa in Portland for at least two years now. The difference this time is they battered someone who enjoys a lot of support from the wider world, whereas up to now they mainly targeted nobodies.

Of course, half the blue checkmark journalists who scream that Trump is waging a war on the free press were quick to defend Antifa’s actions, lay the blame on Ngo for being a provocateur, and declare that he’s not really a journalist. Unfortunately, the right have responded to this in the way they always do, by pointing out the hypocrisy in their one millionth attempt this year to shame the utterly shameless.

As I’ve said before, the right needs to understand what it’s up against. The Portland Mayor and Portland Police are the problem, so there’s no point appealing to them for help, and the same goes in other cities where the administration and police provide protection for lawless mobs who further the interests of the ruling classes. The right needs to work out who its true enemies are and fight them using their brains, not going toe-to-toe in unwinnable street battles or sending some poor sod like Andy Ngo in on his own to get his head kicked in.

Antifa are vulnerable, in part because they are made up of absolute whimps who only attack in groups, but also because they are reactionary as hell. If the right try putting on a march somewhere, Antifa show up in numbers and get it shut down. Well, what’s stopping the right arranging several dozen marches only one of which is a real one, or perhaps none at all, and letting Antifa play whack-a-mole? Charlottesville is generally considered to be a disaster for the alt-right because they provided the bogeyman the left has always warned about, i.e. gangs of neo-Nazis leaping from the shadows, and also because what passed for the alt-right leadership decided to turn this into the battle of Gettysburg. What they should have done is launch the tika-torch defence of the statue and then just melted away, and popped up somewhere else a month later or the next night. You don’t need to agree with the politics of the torch-bearers to acknowledge that it was spontaneous, surprised everyone, was visually effective, and sent liberals into utter meltdown.

That’s what the right needs to get good at, guerrilla tactics which take minimum effort but force their opponents to burn energy and resources in response, only when they arrive everyone’s gone. The North Vietnamese were spectacularly good at this, getting whole American divisions to hack their way through thick jungle chasing ghosts, and popping up somewhere else to hit the stragglers at their most vulnerable. But this will need a change of mindset, to stop appealing to mainstream institutions for help and inclusion and to understand the fight hasn’t just got dirty, it’s been dirty for a very long time.

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Don Johnson

One of the patterns of contemporary politics is that whatever silliness happens in the US arrives on British shores a short time later. Identity politics was born in the corridors of liberal American academia from which it spread first to the political mainstream and then corporations, probably via the HR department. Now we have the likes of David Lammy ranting about white supremacists on a daily basis and British companies leaping on the Pride Month bandwagon and droning on about their trans employees.

The last few days have shown the British left have adopted something else American: mass hysteria as a method of political persuasion. Donald Trump had been a household name for 25 years when he ran for president, and as such there wasn’t much about him which remained unknown. But as soon as he declared himself a Republican the left branded him a hard-right rapist and when he got elected went into a collective meltdown that’s showing no signs of abating. It’s been almost 3 years and they still haven’t got over the fact Hillary lost and a good chunk of the country doesn’t mind Trump. The Democrats have assembled a collection of lunatics to run against him in 2020 on a platform of white people paying black people reparations for slavery, the idea that Trump is literally running concentration camps, and open borders. Good luck with that.

As befitting the pattern, the British left have now gone into hysteria over Boris Johnson who looks set to become the next prime minister. Johnson is very much a known quantity: he has been a public figure in politics for two decades and was mayor of London for two terms between 2008-16. But the left now want us to believe he’s some sort of dangerous, far-right extremist who goes around assaulting women. The latter claim – which they’ve clearly borrowed from their American counterparts’ campaigns against Trump and Brett Kavanaugh – is based on a couple of lefty neighbours of Boris’ girlfriend having skulked around on the landing outside her door, made a recording of a row they were having, and sent it to the police “fearing for her safety”. When the police turned up and said nothing was amiss, the couple sent the recording to The Guardian. And so overnight Boris Johnson becomes an abuser of women, helped along by the self-appointed spokespeople of the Metropolitan chattering classes such as The Secret Barrister:

It is quite clear that Cleverly is taking issue with the couple sending the recording to The Guardian, not reporting to the police what they might have thought was domestic violence. But a barrister’s job is to obfuscate on behalf of their client, which in this case is the mass of hand-wringing Metropolitan liberals for whom she works full time pro bono (less book sales). She is quick to point out that there is nothing illegal about recording your neighbours’ arguments and sending a copy to the police, but issues dark warnings about anyone harassing the couple who have inserted themselves into the middle of this national story of their own volition. Meanwhile, the left is now going after Boris’ girlfriend Carrie Symonds, who didn’t do anything to bring this situation about. The hard left are now camped outside her door, a tactic they’ve learned from Antifa who turned up at Tucker Carlson’s house and sent his wife into hiding. So what does The Secret Barrister have to say about this blatant targeting and harassment of an innocent individual? Nothing, of course. And what do Britain’s feminists have to say? Again, nothing: women are only deemed worthy of privacy, protection from threats, and respect if their politics align with Laurie Penny’s. Otherwise, they’re fair game for all manner of misogynistic abuse.

The harassment of Symonds takes place a few days after feminists and assorted lefties emerged from a 48-hour tantrum after Conservative MP Mark Field threw some annoying Greenpeace protester out of a place she didn’t belong. Politicians and the media squealed that it was assault and normalising violence against women, and feminists declared women deserve special treatment as they are different from men after all. Predictably, Theresa May capitulated and suspended the minister concerned instead of standing up for him, but in doing so may well have driven more party members to back Boris over anyone else. Now I don’t think Boris is a conservative, nor will he make a good prime minister. He’s proven to lack any consistent ideology, is prone to blundering, and it remains to be seen if he really is the man to take Britain out of the EU.

But there is something of the Trump in him, and he’s bringing that to his leadership campaign. He’s refused to take part in the silly TV debates Sky has put on, he’s refused to talk about what happened in his flat, and people are getting the impression he’s the only candidate who won’t simply fold like a cheap suit every time lefty launches another round of faux outrage. American conservatives elected Trump in large part because he wasn’t prepared to grovel and apologise to those who hate them, and instead stood up to them in a way which drove them insane. Now the British left have adopted American political tactics, it’s perhaps not surprising the right are willing to back whichever candidate stands up to them, his politics and character be damned. I suspect the squawking over Mark Field followed immediately by the cynical use of “domestic violence” and the staggering hypocrisy over Carrie Symonds will backfire badly, and Boris will sail into No. 10 with a Trump-like immunity hanging over him. Personally, I hope he keeps making remarks which send the left into an apoplectic rage, and then doubles down and refuses to apologise. So long as he keeps doing that he’ll have my support, and I suspect that of many others.

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Persian Shrug

A few days ago Iran shot down an unmanned US drone, which may or may not have been in Iranian airspace. The US military was prepared to respond with airstrikes but:

Mr Trump … called off strikes after being told 150 people would die.

He tweeted: “10 minutes before the strike I stopped it, not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone.”

Naturally, this being Trump, we find all this out via Twitter from the man himself. Equally naturally, the warmongers aren’t happy:


Bill Kristol is a fat fool who was a cheerleader for the Iraq War. His hatred of Trump is not to do with policy differences but personal ambition: Kristol was all set for a cushy job on the taxpayer dime in a Jeb Bush administration (assuming he’d have beaten Hillary) but Trump upset the apple cart by demolishing his patron and then becoming president. The refrain from the Never Trumpers since the day he was elected has been that Trump is an unstable lunatic who is likely to lash out and plunge the US into a major war without thinking. Only Trump’s done the exact opposite and refused to start a war despite being egged on by neocons and probably half the defence establishment, so suddenly he’s an unreliable peacenik. Here’s General Shapiro:

Do you think Benny boy is going to be pulling on a uniform and volunteering to fight? I sincerely doubt it. War with Iran will be absolutely devastating for all participants: it is not Panama, or even Iraq. Now one of the advantages of using unmanned drones is that shooting one down does not require the same response as if a pilot has been killed or captured. That’s the whole point of using them: while expensive, they are expendable to a much greater degree. The only people who think the US should go to war with Iran over the downing of a drone are unhinged neocons and people who think America and its military should act as Israel’s foreign policy bureau, regardless even of what Israelis themselves might want.

And no, I am not someone who buys into stupid conspiracies that Mossad is blowing up tankers in the Straits of Hormuz in order to goad America into destroying their greatest foe, Iran. There may be plenty of Jewish Americans who think the US should fight Israel’s battles as first priority, and there might be Israelis who want the same thing, but it doesn’t follow that Israel is calling the shots here, nor blowing up tankers. This is as daft as the pipeline theories, or this:


That’s right: the Somali who somehow got elected to the US Congress believes Trump pulling out of a nuclear deal left the Iranians with no choice but to start blowing up Japanese oil tankers.

It’s really come to something when there is violence in the Persian Gulf and Trump is the most sensible, restrained person in the room. I suspect Iran is just being Iran, using terrorism to leverage an advantage somewhere, although who knows what in this case? America ought to keep an eye on things, but it’s really not its business. Not a lot of people know this but most of the oil which leaves the Gulf gets shipped to Asia, not Europe or the US. Sure, oil is fungible which means disruptions to the Middle East supplies affects everyone, but it’s not Americans who are going to be scrabbling around looking for alternative sources, but the Chinese. So let them deal with it, by leaning on the Iranians diplomatically, commercially, or even militarily: I don’t really care. This is not America’s concern, at least for now, and it’s most certainly not ours. If the likes of Shapiro and Kristol want a war, well they can first go here and enroll themselves or their children. Until then, they should sit down and shut up.

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Standing on the shoulders of giants

Want to promote diversity in your institution but don’t know how? Why not turn to Harvard Medical School for inspiration:

The walls were entirely bare. Thirty-one oil portraits of medical and scientific leaders that had made the room distinctive were gone. Images of Harvey Cushing, Soma Weiss, George Thorn, Eugene Braunwald — and other historic figures — had been removed.

Before:

After:

It seems the modern way to welcome women and minorities into organisations is to wipe the achievements of white men from the institutional memory and pretend they never existed. Not that the technique is new, of course:

Back to the article:

Unlike disputed portraits and statuary related to slavery and the Civil War, these men made contributions to medicine and research that stand up well to current scrutiny.

Yes but you don’t understand: they were white and male and therefore Nazis (probably).

Removing all the historic amphitheater portraits — leaving bare walls in their place for the past year — won’t advance diversity. What might? An array of art that reflects today’s rapidly changing physician leadership, while recognizing essential but less male-dominated health-related professions, such as nursing and social work.

Let’s not pander to minorities by removing portraits of exceptional white male physicians but instead we should include art depicting run-of-the-mill social workers. Yes, we wouldn’t want to pander now, would we?

Perhaps a rotating subset of older portraits displayed alongside newly commissioned works — with the reasons for the choices conveyed in historically informed commentary.

This man was a pioneer of brain surgery. This women is…well, a woman. And she’s brown.

Gender and ethnicity must cease being barriers to positions and recognition.

Is that the case now? Is there any minority or woman who you believe ought to have their portrait displayed alongside those which were removed, but was not due to their ethnicity or gender? If there was, I rather suspect you would have named them.

As that day approaches, public portraiture should be reconfigured to promote pride in institutional history, education about the difficult path to progress, and a welcoming environment for today’s diverse communities.

In other words, public portraiture should reflect participation not excellence. This doesn’t sound very much like progress.

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