Trump seems to have a lock on re-election, for many reasons

If you talk to many Democrats now, they think President Trump is finished. Their tendency to light their hair on fire over nothing every hour of every day since June 2015 has always been kind of hilarious, but it is especially hilarious now.

Nancy Pelosi announced today that she will not hold a vote of the full House of Representatives to authorize impeachment. Many observers have taken this as a sign that she does not have the votes to authorize impeachment, or that she is at least sufficiently pragmatic to understand that putting the dozens of Democrats from states that Trump won in 2016 on the record is a Very Bad Idea.

The House of Representatives has, in fact, already held three votes on impeachment. I will forgive you for not knowing what they are, but here’s a list for the unintiated:

  • Impeachment vote #1: 58 Democrats voted in favor of impeaching Trump for the “high crime and misdemeanor” of insulting the NFL anthem protests (12/6/2017);
  • Impeachment vote #2: 66 Democrats voted in favor of impeaching Trump for the “high crime and misdemeanor” of employing the phrase “shithole countries” (1/19/2018);
  • Impeachment vote #3: 95 Democrats voted to impeach Trump for the “high crime and misdemeanor” of insulting The Squad (7/20/2019).

The official record shows that the House of Representatives is full of a lot of deeply unserious and hysterical people. Now they clutch their pearls and hold secret meetings, as if voters are going to embrace impeaching a president behind closed doors in the middle of an election cycle and in lieu of actually caring about public policy.

In reality, they have zero chance of removing Trump from office (since that responsibility falls to a Republican-controlled Senate), and they are simply setting up Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham to hold a show trial with subpoena power *during an election year.* You want endless hearings about how the hell-spawn of Democrats have made millions selling influence in former Soviet states and China months before people head to the polls? I mean, really, are you actually this stupid? Yet that is exactly what they are doing.

Democrats celebrate endless cooked polls as if 1,000 registered voters, with twice as many registered Democrats as the electorate possesses, are evidence that they are on The Right Side of History. The whole purpose of the electoral college is that it requires candidates to develop extremely broad geographical support to win. It’s the diametrical opposite of polling the 1,000 people who are still dumb enough to answer spam phone calls and remain on the line for the survey, which is what a poll is in the modern era.

Meanwhile, Trump is packing stadiums even in blue states and smashing fundraising records. He has certainly already flipped New Hampshire and Minnesota (which he probably would have had in 2016 if he had put any campaign staff there). If he is running against an open borders candidate, then he’ll probably win other close-margin purple states like New Mexico, Colorado, and Nevada, who will see their economies and social fabric destroyed by such policy. And that’s before you get to social issues like how awesome late-term abortion is and why the federal government needs to make puberty blockers more affordable for 9-year-olds. Whoever in the media thinks these issues play well in Peoria is insane.

It also doesn’t help Democrats that their new front-runner, Elizabeth Warren is aggressively going to war with social media executives ahead of an election. Zuckerberg is a total prick and I already deleted my Facebook account, but he has a very clear ability to erase Warren as a candidate in a general election. Only a woman in her 70s would think that was desirable.

My biggest takeaway from the endless, embarrassing Democratic debates is that there is not a single candidate on the left who can beat Trump. The echo chamber seemingly can’t see this, so Trump’s formula of making them say increasingly batshit things purely for the sake of disagreeing with him remains as much of a winning strategy as it was a few years ago.

Ponder this:

The original frontrunner was Biden. A man who is so old that his teeth fall out and his eye explodes on national television. Who can’t talk to a woman without wrapping his arm around her waist or sniffing her hair. Who falsely accused the man who was in a car accident with his deceased wife of being a drunk driver, when his wife tragically veered into his lane and was holding her young child on her lap at the time. (In fact, it was the other driver who was the first to render aid.) Who makes up stories about taking on gangsters at Vermont community pools, meeting with the victims of shootings that happened years after Obama left the White House, clipping coupons in the stock market, blah blah blah. Who has been in Washington longer than middle-aged voters have been alive. Who has a son that is a major shareholder of a shell company of the Chinese government that invests in facial recognition technology for oppressing religious minorities and tech companies that are blacklisted in the US for military espionage. Who can’t make it through a debate without talking about gay bathhouses and record players.

Then you have Elizabeth Warren, who has the charisma of Greta Thunberg. She has a plan for everything, and those plans cost five times the gross domestic product of the United States (not kidding, do the math for yourself). She lied about being a racial minority until she was called out for it in her 70s. She lied about her parents having to elope because her grandparents were so racist they did not want her father to marry her fake racial minority mother. She lied about being fired for being pregnant. She built her career on financial regulation, and banks are just as likely to make a predatory mortgage or jack up credit card rates to pay for bullshit perks as they ever were. She gets freaked out and starts physically shaking when a nobody says she has a “punitive” personality. Trump will probably make her cry on national television.

Then you have Sanders. Sanders has no normal public policy suggestions. He wants a revolution. And by that he means he wants the entire productive component of the US economy to relocate to another country. He thinks he is improving health care by calling premiums taxes instead of premiums. His thinks you want to trade in your private health insurance for the luxury medical care provided by a government agency. His health care plan is not so much Medicare for All, but Veterans Affairs for all. Only Millennials who are still riding on their parents’ insurance think there is no difference. And that is his base.

Then there is Kamala Harris. She built her career as prosecutor on the back of a crime lab that falsified data on hundreds of cases for the sake of getting convictions. She kept an innocent man on death row. She put tons of black men in prison for simple drug offenses. She thinks busing is great education policy.

Then you have Buttigieg. The mayor of a town that barely has 100,000 people. The mayor of Waco, Texas has more responsibility than he does. He adamantly defended an abortionist who had almost 3,o00 corpses of babies in his garage and in the trunks of cars he kept at a storage facility. Yet he’s arguably the only articulate person on the stage.

Then you have Booker, who has never uttered a substantive word in his life. He’s basically a rhetorical placeholder in debates.

Then you have Tulsi, who is basically a closet Republican.

Then you have Klobuchar, who famously ate a salad with a hair comb to send a message to her staffer who dared to forget to pick up a plastic spork at the airport. Sounds normal.

Then you have Yang, who literally tried to buy votes. He’s so irrelevant that no one even cares to point out that’s a crime. His strongest argument for why he should be president is that he’s Asian and everyone knows Asians are good at math.

And Beto, the skateboarding furry who somehow lives in Texas but thinks confiscating guns will be no big deal. He learned that people suffer while at boarding school.

And Castro, who thinks the US government should pay for transgender women to get abortions and evidently has no idea where babies come from. His only significant contribution to the debates has been that he lies more than Biden.

You have to be high to watch these debates and think a single one of these people can beat Trump. And that’s before you get into Pelosi’s own-goals. If you told me that Democrats were secretly working to re-elect Trump, I’d believe you. We aren’t even that far into the election cycle and journalists are trying to make moral cases for not asking candidates about the details of their policy because that only helps Trump out. I mean, really, say that slower and think about what you are suggesting.

Why pulling out of Syria is the only sane decision

I fully support President Trump’s decision to pull US troops out of Syria. I don’t agree with everything Trump does, but in this instance he is displaying exactly the kind of courage in public policy that our country needs right now. I think there are a lot of Americans who quietly agree with me. I do not think these views have been articulated, even by conservative media. So I am going to articulate them here.

First, I am going to cite my personal bias: I am from a military family.

My father was a combat veteran in Vietnam. He was drafted into the Army in 1968-69, the peak of the war over there. He fought as a door gunner on a helicopter gunship with the 101st Airborne. Men fighting in his position had a life expectancy of 30 seconds in battle. Our family considers it a bona fide miracle that he survived. Most of his peers did not.

Like most combat veterans, my father refused to tell many stories about his time in combat. My parents saved the letters they wrote each other during his time there. Well, they saved his letters to her; he was forced to burn her letters after he read them. It was common for the opposing side to steal family correspondence and write vicious things back to soldiers’ loved ones back home. And they could contain sensitive information about the war.

Occasionally, he would see a movie about Vietnam and then he’d go sit in his truck and sob for hours. He had violent nightmares through my entire childhood, and continues to have violent nightmares now that his is in his 70s.

Imagine your dysfunctional government forcing you to experience such horrific and traumatic events that you are having nightmares about them 50 years after the fact. I can tell you from personal experience that combat quite literally re-wires your brain. It permanently changes your neural chemistry and the pathways your mind is willing and able to entertain. The psychological impact of combat on veterans is on par with a profound physical handicap.

My father came home from war in the height of the cultural revolution in the US. He experienced many of the typical things veterans experienced then. He was chewed out by strangers when they saw him in uniform. He attempted to finish college, but his mind was not able to focus on the ordinary concerns of young adults post-combat. He came home one day and threw his medals in the garbage – including his Bronze Star for Valor in Combat, which he earned for fighting in battles like Hamburger Hill.

I come from a family of immigrants, but I am proud to say that every generation of my family has produced a soldier for this country. My grandfather stormed Normandy in World War II. My cousin was stationed in the DMZ in Korea, and knows what it is like to stand guard at a place where a firefight could break out any second. We are a family of warriors, and I love that.

My father has no judgment for Trump for dodging the draft in a war that he himself would have preferred never to have been sent to. He considers that a rational decision. My father had to kill a man on his 21st birthday – an event that most Americans celebrate by going out bar-hopping with friends and getting black-out drunk – who was sneaking into his camp in the middle of the night to slaughter his fellow soldiers. He understood the necessity of that action, but he still struggles with the image of that man’s eyes in the dark night. He had to end that life. The life of someone who probably felt equally justified in what he was about to do. Many people talk about such decisions, from the luxurious position of not having to make them in the world that exists beyond social media, as if they are black-and-white political issues. They absolutely are not.

My father’s situation was not all that different from the experiences of soldiers in the Middle East right now. They are off fighting in wars that most Americans have forgotten or never knew existed. If it weren’t a perceived opportunity to snub Trump, the media would not be covering any aspect of these conflicts right now. In the Common Core era of American education, I doubt most young Americans can point to Syria on a map. Or Yemen, for that matter. Or Somalia. Many were only born when the events that sent us into Afghanistan occurred. There were no actual events that sent us into Iraq. That was a scam. We send soldiers to risk their lives in wars that are, frankly, mostly irrelevant to most Americans. At the very least, they are not understood by most Americans. I am certain our Founding Fathers never anticipated such a situation. Heck, some of these wars have no formal authorization from Congress. That would break the Founding Fathers’ brains.

We have spent essentially $8 trillion on wars in the Middle East in my lifetime. And the same people who can’t find Syria on a map likewise are not experiencing the economic fact of having to pay for those wars. This is not like World War II when food is getting rationed and women can’t buy pantyhose. Where every family knows someone who died in combat and the sacrifices seem necessary and inevitable. The swamp creatures that keep us in these eternal wars are borrowing that money from China and Japan, with interest, and they just re-finance that debt over and over and over again. The cost of servicing the country’s debt alone is starting to become a budget component that should not be ignored. But we just start financing more of the country’s day-to-day operations instead of changing. That’s a problem for future generations. It’s immoral.

Think of the opportunity cost of that spending for a second. Imagine some parallel universe where Americans spent $8 trillion on public schools, infrastructure, or the space program. We would be a very different country right now. The most popular people on the debate stage would not be apologists for Stalin’s ideology. A lot of things have shattered this country and its political discourse, but it’s not hard to see the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as the proximate cause for our own cold civil war.

The thing that pisses me off the most about the wars in the Middle East, however, is this: If we were going to intervene militarily in any region right now, it should be Central America and providing military assistance to Mexico to break apart its drug cartels. The unrest in these countries – which are not on the other side of the world from us, but merely to the south – is creating real humanitarian and economic crises for the US. Right here, on our soil. Yet we keep sending our grandchildren’s treasure to the Middle East. A trillion here, a trillion there. If you challenge that status quo, you must be an irrational, uneducated deplorable.

In the last federal fiscal year, nearly one million people – mostly humanitarian and economic refugees, but accompanied by a not insignificant number of bad actors as well – attempted to cross the southern border. Most of them have nothing and pose nothing but a social cost on the US population. They are experiencing incomprehensible suffering, and the US – wealthy as this nation is – is not in a financial position to support all of them.

Most of the heroin and other drugs on the streets in the US have come across the southern border, and cartels know how to use the humanitarian crisis they have helped create to conceal their evil shadow economy. Every major city in the US now has a homelessness crisis that is really simply a drug crisis. Even the tiny beach town that we live in now has several heroin camps hidden out in the middle of the jungle.

If you bring up these concerns about immigration policy, you are usually deemed a racist or xenophobe, no matter how many good intentions you have. Here in Florida, we live among the refugees from socialism and drug cartels. I can tell you from talking to these people directly that they are not Bernie bros. The naivete of our politics stuns them.

How did we get to the point where we will spend trillions of dollars fighting in wars the US was never logically a counterparty to, while addicts rot in plain view and our southern border is plagued with the destruction of brutal, evil tyrants that are only an hour plane ride away from the US?

There are no heroes in the civil war in Syria, no matter how many crocodile tears the establishment sheds for the Kurds. Our participation in that conflict is not as simple as the media and policymakers who are on defense contractors’ payrolls make it seem. During the Obama administration, the Pentagon and the CIA were arming folks on both sides of the conflict. Americans were seriously paying for US interests to fight each other. As long as more guns get sold, Washington doesn’t complain. For the same reason they don’t care that cancer drugs cost $50,000.

If you want to argue that the US should stay in several conflicts in the Middle East indefinitely, that’s fine. But I want to hear you acknowledge that in saying that, you are also saying that you want kids in the US to get a garbage education. That you want people in the US to sit on bridges with poor safety ratings during their morning commute. That endless wars are more important than health care reform or stabilizing Social Security and Medicare. That sending our youth to make sure the Kurds and Turkish forces play nice is the single biggest political priority to you. Because when you quantify the cost of these wars, that is where it ranks in reality.

Note to self: Take a neighborhood vote before making any changes to the garden

Rest in peace, impatiens.

I have a lot of passions and hobbies. I read a new book every other day or so, have a massive telescope, and love to cook (and visit new restaurants). But my most consuming passion is gardening.

I fell head-over-heels in love with gardening over a decade ago when we bought a house in the country among the rolling thoroughbred horse farms outside Lexington, Kentucky. After reading Barbara Kingsolver’s book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, we plowed a half-acre of land to build the biggest vegetable garden you have ever seen. (No joke, that book will give you some dangerous gardening ambitions. We had FIFTY-SIX varieties of tomatoes in our garden. Do you have any idea how many tomatoes that produces? We started throwing them at each other like juicy red bombs after a while, before we learned that we could donate fresh produce.) I earned enormous blisters chopping limestone with a mattock in order to plant a rose garden overlooking a large creek. It was totally worth it.

I’d like to think that I have matured since then, grown a little wiser and moderate, but I really haven’t. My garden philosophy has always been go big or go home. Enter my specimen garden in Florida.

There are many good reasons to move to Florida. There are still pristine beaches here. The wildlife (and the people) are rather exotic and entertainingly unpredictable. You can get a Cuban sandwich anywhere in town. Tourists pay substantially all of your taxes.

To me, one of the biggest draws was being able to have a garden all year long and to be able to collect tropical plants. Kentucky winters were rough on me psychologically, I’m not going to lie. To look out over land that was drifts of roses and azaleas and see drifts of snow is probably the most depressing thing I can think of, short of something awful happening to a loved one. I tried to survive the winters by looking at flower catalogs and reading books on garden design, but that only exacerbated the problem.

When we moved here, I tore out all the boring landscaping shrubs on our property and planted everything I found in nurseries traveling up and down the coast that seemed fancy and tropical. I started collecting gingers. I made a bank of Hawaiian ti. I went nuts.

But nothing came close to my collection of impatiens. Now I know that when I say impatiens, you think of the little flowers planted in rows in medians outside shopping malls. But in Florida, I discovered that I could grow impatiens that were over three feet tall and would last for years. I made a line of these flowers all along the front of our house with colorful canna lilies and a massive cape honeysuckle from South Africa (not pictured, but they have showers of bright orange flowers).

My gardens quickly became famous in the neighborhood. Every weekend, I would be out working in the yard and ten or fifteen people would come over to talk to me while I worked. I had to give tours around the back yard where the gingers were. People would stop me around town to rave about my green thumb. It was great.

Well, I did something really, really bad yesterday.

I ripped out the impatiens to plant dipladenia, which is a bushy version of mandevilla. Before I planted the new plants, the whole front of the garden was completely bare where the impatiens had been. Cars would drive in front of our house and lock up their brakes. I started to think I was going to get a welfare call from the police.

This morning, I went out to plant the new border and a man stopped to talk to me. He was genuinely angry with me for removing the impatiens. He was actually shaking as he spoke. How are you supposed to react in such a situation? I tried to explain to him that they were starting to look spent and I wanted a change. He got angrier. They were perfectly fine, he said, maybe they needed a little fertilizer. He told me the new plants were not going to be as lovely as the impatiens and I should put impatiens back. I told him that they were no longer selling them in the stores. He took that as further evidence of my poor decision-making. Other cars started to slow down as we chatted, and I thought for a moment I was going to have a mob on my hands. I started to thank God that I am not on Next Door.

You don’t understand, he said. I walk down here every day just to look at your flowers. He knows others who do too. How could you do this to us?

Am I running a public garden here?

I tried to assure him that the process of rebuilding was part of gardening and he should trust that the new garden would be as beautiful as the original. After further rebuttals, I was like, crikey, I can’t resurrect the flowers, get some therapy already.

I had no idea that my whim to pull out the impatiens would be like the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand. I don’t even want to go outside now on the chance that I might get yelled at again. I don’t even want to think about what’s going to happen if the dipladenia don’t take off. We might have to move.

Biden would be worse off if Trump actually understood how bad Hunter’s business deals are

The media coverage of Biden, Inc. has been somewhat amusing, even if it is sort of difficult to care about. But I guess I see it differently having worked in finance for most of my life. I didn’t just hear about these companies five minutes ago.

Hunter Biden seems fairly typical of the hell-spawn of career politicians on both the right and the left. Literally the first thing he did upon finishing law school was go work for one of Daddy’s top donors, MBIA. He created a lobbying firm with the fellow hell-spawn of another career politician that was premised on selling access to the Obama administration. There’s a reason you have tons of video footage of Hunter traveling the world with Daddy. No one else in the world is taking their adult children to work with them. That was for advertising purposes.

If you listen to folks in the media, who have become such waterboys for the Democratic establishment that they portray Hunter Biden as some independently useful, brilliant financial mind and all-around stand up guy – the dude was banging his own brother’s widow right after he died, for crying out loud – all of this was totally innocent.

Frankly, Joe Biden is lucky he’s dealing with Trump, who is vaguely traipsing the globe calling for other people to investigate corruption when he has a vast apparatus for investigation and surveillance at his own disposal. For all the talk about how “dangerous” Trump is, Trump really isn’t using the full powers of the executive branch. I guarantee you none of his predecessors would have passed up this opportunity. This also suggests that Trump himself does not have much of an appreciation of exactly how bad Hunter Biden is.

Hunter announced this weekend that he would be stepping down as director of the Chinese private equity firm that has recently become the subject of so much controversy, BHR Partners. But he’s not divesting from the company. As someone who continues to own a 10% stake in the company, he’ll still be getting rich off his partnership with a shell entity of the Chinese government as Daddy goes around proclaiming to the world that China “is not much of a threat” to the United States. (News flash: They are our biggest threat.)

So what kinds of companies is BHR Partners invested in that will continue to provide generous cash flow to the young Biden?

One current holding is Megvii, which specializes in facial recognition technology. Megvii technology is being used in Beijing’s mass surveillance of Uighurs in Xinjiang, the Muslim minority that the Chinese government has sent en masse to bona fide concentration camps. Who Beijing has targeted for their involuntary organ harvesting programs. Who Beijing has forced to take government spies into their households to report on any unsavory beliefs they might be harboring. Biden is investing in this activity.

Another current BHR Holdings investment is CGN Power Group. This company has actually been blacklisted in the Untied States for stealing technology on behalf of the Chinese government for military use. Hunter Biden’s firm – with him as a director – was instrumental in the company’s 2014 public offering.

The Bidens are lucky that Trump often does not understand his own power. Biden’s connection to a blacklisted enterprise alone should be enough to throw these people in prison. Trump could have people looking at any meetings the Bidens had with representatives of these company’s on taxpayer-funded trips. If Trump were a product of DC, he absolutely would be doing this.

Trump could use his bully pulpit to explain that Hunter Biden was investing in the Chinese’s genocide projects.

Trump could use his bully pulpit to explain that Biden’s company was investing in stealing US technology and giving it to the Chinese military.

Trump could use his bully pulpit to point out that Bidens chose to “correct” this problem by taking their name off the wall at the company while still being one of its largest investors. Meaning after all this grief, they still are all about the Benjamins.

In the long run, however, it doesn’t matter. Biden is unlikely to be the Democratic nominee, not because he’s corrupt, but because he’s geriatric. His teeth fell out and his eye exploded on national television. His mental faculties are so low that he thought he was vice president during the recent Florida school shooting and related some fantasy meeting with survivors. He can’t survive a debate without talking about gay bathhouses and record players.

The sick thing about Washington is that Biden could have easily not thrown his hat in the ring and went and found some beach somewhere, and his worthless son would still be bringing down tens of millions of dollars with zero public attention. They could have continued to collect their economic rents for generations and no one would have even asked any questions, let alone placed them in real legal jeopardy.

Now they have people like Chuck Todd, who are so nervous about talking about Biden’s investments that they physically shut off coverage of the president’s comments when the topic comes up, saying they “cannot in good conscience” share allegations of government corruption with their viewers. It’s for your safety that you don’t know young Biden is bankrolling the slaughter of Muslims in China. It’s for your own safety that you don’t know he is bankrolling espionage. Bury your head in the sand like a good, patriotic American. Don’t waste a single second pondering exactly how fucking depraved the political establishment in this country is.

Fortunately, Americans are not that stupid. When people tell them not to look at something, that only makes them want to see more of it.

California has much, much bigger problems than wildfires

Last weekend, I was out shopping for a new smartphone. As most people who live in Florida were not originally born here, the Millennial behind the counter asked me where I was from. I told her that I have lived in several states, but I grew up in Southern California.

She shrieked with delight at this news. “I love Los Angeles,” she said. “Don’t you just want to move back?”

Nevermind the obvious point that we did have a choice of where to live, and we clearly chose to buy a house on the beach in Florida. But asking me if I am yearning to move back to Los Angeles is a bit like asking me if I am yearning to move to Pyongyang or Tehran. Nope doesn’t exactly cover it.

I’m not so in love with the Kardashians that I want to pay more than half of our household income to taxes at every level of government. To stare at homeless camps and dirty needles in the gutter while sitting in traffic. To listen to lawmakers congratulate themselves on mandating that abortion pills be passed out on college campuses while millions of people in the state are without electricity. “Try to find a cool place to store your insulin” is not the kind of government regime that I am eager to live under. The libertarian customs of Florida may lead to a lot of bizarre and entertaining headlines, but the government here is aggressively functional and not unnecessarily expensive.

The last time I heard about mandatory rolling blackouts, it applied to Puerto Rico – a US territory that ended up going bankrupt and was incapable of managing a natural disaster in the years that followed, resulting in the deaths of thousands of people. They couldn’t keep the power on under normal circumstances, so they were certainly unprepared to deal with a hurricane. Puerto Rico taxpayers had accumulated tens of billions of dollars of debt for infrastructure projects, but you wouldn’t know it if you looked at the decrepit state of their infrastructure. Where did the money go? It went to endless corrupt deals, that’s where.

Now California is witnessing basically the same situation unfold. The California electorate has become increasingly batshit, and they send increasingly batshit people to Sacramento and to the city councils of the state’s largest municipalities. As a result, they’ve taken a paradise and managed it into dysfunction. There is far more concern over policing how people think and talk in California than there is in actually providing essential government services. If you are a middle class resident of California, you are forfeiting the opportunity build any sort of nest egg so that you can live like the poorest people in the Caribbean or Central America. There’s no glamour in that life decision, sorry.

The rolling blackouts in California is not a climate change story. It’s a perfect storm of bad management decisions and rent-seeking green energy contractors.

California gets a lot of well-deserved grief for not clearing publicly managed lands of organic debris, thus ensuring that the state is an epic tinderbox every year. This is something that does not happen here in Florida. Florida ecologists and wildlife officials supervise controlled burns throughout the state to ensure that there’s not a situation where a wildfire among the mangroves poses a threat to a major (or even a minor) city. It also protects the state’s tourism industry, which is a significant component of the state’s economy.

But that’s not where the rolling blackouts came from. California’s investor-owned utilities have dealt with the increasingly batshit people in Sacramento by taking an “if you can’t beat them, join them” attitude in lobbying. And that’s what you are seeing backfiring now.

PG&E went all-in on the green energy projects that California lawmakers and their constituents love. So much so that the company was actively choosing to invest in new green projects rather than make the necessary safety upgrades to its existing transmission systems. Those investment decisions are how California got the deadliest wildfire in state history last year. They had shitty equipment that was past its useful life.

The company now has so little faith in the safety of its equipment that it decided leaving millions of Californians without power during natural cycles of high winds and dry conditions was worth the risk that people might die or be otherwise injured without power. That turning major intersections into four-way stops for days on end was a better idea than burning a large fraction of the state down. Their decision isn’t stupid. The decisions that created this dilemma in the first place were stupid.

The investment bank Credit Suisse estimated that contracts with green energy companies is costing PG&E $2.2 billion more than rates can support EVERY SINGLE YEAR. Over two billion dollars to nurse their liberal political connections, while the utility cannot afford even to inspect their 100,000 miles of power lines, let alone make repairs to them. The utility claims that inspecting the lines alone would require quadrupling their rates. That’s how long they have let their system rot in the service of liberal fantasies.

That’s the opportunity cost of turning your government over to AOC-esque personalities. Your whole system of providing essential government services is screwed beyond repair. The cumulative financial cost of bringing these systems back to normal pretty much ensures the government is going to watch its tax base walk out the door. And that’s going to create a downward spiral in the provision of all kinds of essential services. You are already seeing the warning signs that this is happening in California real estate prices and in the financial struggles of the state’s largest school districts. If you want to see governments that are further along on this trajectory, look at Puerto Rico and Chicago.

Thanks to the tens of billions of dollars in liabilities from the wildfires last year, PG&E has filed for bankruptcy. The utility’s bankruptcy has been a source of absolute chaos. It looks like PG&E shareholders will likely be completely wiped out. It is unlikely that any new controlling party will bring the utility back from the dead. So Californians should not discount the possibility that being without power is their new normal. No one seems to know how the utility is going to survive at this point, and that’s a big problem for the millions of people they support.

The incredible irony in all of this is that the green state of California has been keeping the lights on during this period with privately procured generators running on… wait for it… fossil fuels.

I am all for conservation of the natural environment. But people have to be pragmatic in making decisions as important as how infrastructure is to be managed and maintained. This is one thing the climate hysterics cannot think clearly about, and that’s why they should never be placed in leadership positions and they should not be able to control narratives about government.

The economic value these folks are capable of nuking is unreal.

Absinthe, early auto racing, and John D. Rockefeller’s house

Our family loves serendipity, and today was quite full of it.

We had to drive down to Ormond Beach this morning to check out a posh place for boarding dogs. We are planning to drive down to Fort Lauderdale for the International Boat Show later this month (a weekend full of yachts!) and we can’t take our Jack Russell terrier, Sherlock, with us. In a fit of guilt, we found a puppy amusement park to put him up in.

It’s a little amazing to see what pet hotels have become. This place has private indoor-outdoor suites for dogs, with a swimming pool in the shape of a giant bone and several puppy playgrounds that look like agility courses. Some of the rooms are equipped with webcams so concerned parents can check in on their furbabies anytime they like. The suites also have air conditioning, televisions (so your dog can watch Animal Planet), grooming appointments, daily bowls of ice cream and other treats. Frankly, Sherlock might not want to come home.

The Rose Villa Restaurant in Ormond Beach

We rarely end up in Ormond Beach during the day, so we decided to check out a restaurant I have been wanting to eat at for weeks. The Rose Villa restaurant is in a Victorian house off of Granada Boulevard that was built in the 1800s. It became a bed and breakfast in 1901 and was an adjunct facility for famed industrialist Henry Flagler’s luxury hotel. Celebrity guests who wanted more privacy than Flagler’s hotel could provide stayed there.

The Rose Villa now.
The Rose Villa a century ago.

The walls of the restaurant are decorated with portraits of all of the famous Gilded Age personalities who frequented Ormond Beach, including Flagler, John D. Rockefeller, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Harvey Firestone, Willie Vanderbilt, Glenn Curtiss, Will Rogers, Alexander Winton, Barney Oldfield, Sir Malcolm Campbell, Harrison Olds, and Fred Marriott.

You can always tell an interior from one of Flagler’s establishments. This place has some of the same Charles Lewis Tiffany flourishes that you see at Flagler College or the Lightner Museum in St. Augustine.

One of the dining rooms of the Rose Villa.
A portrait of the great Henry Flagler.
John D. Rockefeller, Flagler’s business partner.

A Digression on the Great Industrialists of the Gilded Age and Florida History

Because the Gilded Age is my favorite period of history, I love Florida history. And I have a minor obsession with Henry Flagler.

Henry Flagler was sort of the Donald Trump of his era, with a similar affection for Florida real estate. Flagler was born into poverty and started his life off as a commodities trader (before commodities trading was cool). Along with Rockefeller, Flagler ultimately founded the Standard Oil Company, America’s first true corporation and the largest monopoly the world had ever seen. Flagler and Rockefeller were not immediately successful, as there was not yet an immense market for oil and petroleum products in the mid-19th century. Then the automobile was invented, and the two men became far and away the richest men on the planet. Rockefeller had so much money later in life that he passed out money to strangers and children he met on the street (and, of course, became a legendary philanthropist). This made him very popular with the kids in Ormond Beach. If you ran into Rockefeller or were his caddy on the golf course, you inevitably got a dime.

Nowadays, corporations have platoons of pathetically overpaid lawyers producing documents the size of phone books to manage legal concerns. Standard Oil’s articles of incorporation fit on a single sheet of paper. From this simple piece of paper, a multinational financial empire was constructed.

Standard Oil Company articles of incorporation.

Flagler literally built the State of Florida after the Civil War, linking a series of luxury hotels from St. Augustine down to the Keys with his railroad and “bridge over the sea.” Then he brought down every filthy rich friend he had from the north, and their friends, and their friends’ friends, and their staff, and their interior designers, and their architects. Without his vision, Florida would still be a tangle of jungle with some burnt-out sugar plantations. Flagler was seemingly a swell boss to have, too. He paid relatively high wages to the men willing to work on exceptionally rough construction sites – with sometimes brutal tropical weather and mosquitoes – many of them the descendants of freed slaves, and provided them with housing and food.

Every major city you see on the eastern coast of Florida exists because Flagler was able to recruit both the labor and consumers necessary to have a sustainable economy. He is truly a giant in American history.

Like Trump, Flagler was a lightning rod for controversy and jealousy, and he was a near-constant topic for the hyenas in the media (who were just as bad then as they are now) during his lifetime. Flagler threw over-the-top parties designed to make his self-righteous critics clutch their pearls. He’d make the world’s greatest industrialists dress in drag, for example. Flagler was hauled before Congress a billion times and he did not give two shits about it. The hyenas were going to hyena, but they’d go home to crappy New York apartments and he’d take his personal train to paradise. That was his attitude.

It’s actually something of a useful lesson for current events: History remembers Henry Flagler. It doesn’t remember the people who wrote about him. I’m sure Trump wakes up and reminds himself of this every day.

(Rockefeller, of course, was the diametrical opposite of Flagler, which is probably why they made great business partners. He kept notebook after notebook full of every penny he spent, how much money he gave away, every tiny little thing he did each day and how he could improve. Rockefeller was consumed with self-improvement and extremely religious. It was like he planned to audit St. Peter’s books when he reached the pearly gates. Well, my notes say…)

A Digression on Primitive Auto Racing (That Was Still Freaking Terrifying)

Unsurprisingly, the oil barons’ best friends were automobile industry tycoons. It was this fraternity who brought the sport of automobile racing to the Daytona area. They built the first generations of supercars for giggles, racing them on the packed white sands of Ormond Beach and Daytona. And the people in the town loved it.

There is a replica of Flagler’s supercar garage in the middle of a park on Ormond Beach with the first race cars in them. They pretty much look like someone attached rockets to a Barcalounger. And, boy, did they go FAST:

J.F. Hathaway, a wealthy manufacturer from Massachusetts and a frequent guest at the Ormond Hotel, came up with the idea of racing cars on the beach.

According to two Volusia County history books, A History of Volusia County and Ormond-on-the-Halifax, Hathaway attended bicycle races held on Ormond Beach between 1900 and 1902 while vacationing at the Ormond Hotel.

Hathaway, who drove a Stanley Steamer, noticed that bicycle tires did not sink into the hard sand along the beach. He suggested to John Anderson and Joseph Price, managers of the hotel, that the beach would be a good place to race cars.

From 1902 to 1935, auto industry giants such as Henry Ford, Louis Chevrolet, F.E. Stanley and Ransom E. Olds brought their cars to race down the beach.

In April 1902, two early auto pioneers met for the first race. Olds, founder of Oldsmobile, and Alexander Winton, creator of the Winton automobile, both bolted down the beach at 57 mph – well short of the existing 77 mph world speed record, set the year before by a Frenchman.

No matter. Word got out in Europe and America that Ormond Beach was an ideal speedway. In 1903, the races were sponsored by the American Automobile Association.

Several land speed records were set in those years. Because long distances were needed to set speed records, the course often was extended south to Daytona Beach.

Ormond and Daytona beaches remained a top draw for speed demons until the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah became popular in the late 1940s.

On Jan. 23, 1904, William K. Vanderbilt set the first world record on the beach when he drove his four-cylinder Mercedes at just over 92 mph. The next year, Arthur McDonald drove a 90-horsepower Napier to 104 mph.

In 1906 a Stanley Steamer driven by Fred Marriott was clocked at 127.6 mph. Marriott later was crowned “Fastest Man on Earth” by the Florida East Coast Automobile Association.

Cigar-chomping Barney Oldfield, perhaps the most famous race-car driver in the world at the time, set a new world speed record on the Ormond-Daytona course in 1907. Driving a German-made Benz called the Blitzen, Oldfield flew down the beach at 131 mph.

From 1908 until the end of World War I, racing faded somewhat in Ormond and Daytona. The beach wasn’t in good shape and the war drew attention and resources away from racing. In the 1920s, the racing world turned its attention to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

But in 1927 beach racing came back in a big way when Major H.O.D. Segrave ran his Sunbeam Mystery S race car from the Daytona Beach Pier 13 miles south to Ponce Inlet. Segrave, for whom a street in Daytona is named, reached 203 mph as a crowd of 15,000 watched.

The last speed record set on the beach came on March 7, 1935, when Sir Malcolm Campbell drove his car, the Bluebird V, to a speed of 276.82 mph. The car is displayed at Daytona USA, a motorsports museum and entertainment complex under construction at the Daytona International Speedway.

In 1936 the American Automobile Association sponsored the first national stock-car race on Daytona Beach. One of the entrants was named Bill France; he later founded the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, or NASCAR. Several other races were held from 1936 until the start of America’s involvement in World War II in 1941.

The first stock-car race after the war was held in the spring of 1946. France was one of the drivers, and during the race his car overturned. Spectators flipped the car back on its wheels, and France finished the race. The next year, France was again involved in the race, not as a driver but as the sponsor. Then he began planning the construction of Daytona International Speedway 5 miles east of the beach; the track opened in 1958.

The first Daytona 500 was run in 1959 and was won by Lee Petty, father of Richard Petty.

Also in the 1950s, the racetrack in Sebring in south Florida became one of the world’s most famous auto racing venues for sports cars.

Most of the world’s most famous sports car manufacturers – Triumph, Austin-Healey, MG , Jaguar, Porsche, Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Maserati, Ferrari and others – competed at Sebring.

One of the first race cars in history. Like I said, someone attached rockets to a recliner.
(We’ll just call this guy the original Florida Man. He needs a bottle of bourbon and an alligator in his seat with him though.)
America’s richest men racing primitive supercars on the sand of Ormond Beach.
I’m not sure what this is, but it looks like fun.

This is Ralph DePalma, who restarted the competition for land speed records after the upper crust took a break to deal with World War I. He was also responsible for the founding of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1911. DePalma broke the land speed record that year in his Packard V-12 at almost 150 mph.

Rodney did not believe me that they were building cars that could go over 270 mph before WWII. I had to show him that article on my phone in the restaurant. (Don’t underestimate the history nerd!)

The downstairs bar at Rose Villa.

Okay, So Back to the Rose Villa

I cannot recommend this restaurant highly enough. The restaurant serves haute Southern food. You can get fried green tomatoes with lobster, a croque madam, and so forth. This is combined with a menu of proper cocktails.

Since it was still brunch, we started off with deviled eggs, served with pork bellies and chow chow. Elise ordered avocado toast. I ordered a “biscuit benedict” served with freshly made lump crab cakes. Rodney had jambalaya. All magnificent.

The Green Fairy

We started off with a round of Sazeracs. Then we moved on to a round of candied bacon old fashioneds. Also all magnificent.

Then… We learned about the upstairs absinthe bar. The only thing that could improve such an awesome restaurant was a speakeasy.

The upstairs bar.

We’ve had the green fairy before at home, but without the ceremony. Rose Villa really gets into the ceremony. They pour the absinthe, dip a sugar cube in it, set it on an absinthe spoon, light the sugar on fire, and then use an absinthe fountain to drip water over the sugar until the absinthe turns a cloudy white. It is wicked fun to watch.

It cracked me up that the bartender felt the need to warn us that absinthe is a sipping drink and not a shooting drink. We explained to her that we understood that shooting 140-proof liquor is probably a bad idea. You’d be surprised, she said. She had a businessman do it once, and it made him violently ill. He barely made it to the bathroom. (This story is even more hilarious when you eventually learn that the restaurant has a traditional water closet for a bathroom, complete with a rope you have to pull to flush. It’s in a Victorian house, after all.)

For the uninitiated, absinthe is a licorice-flavored liquor that is derived from anise and various botanicals (including wormwood). The drink developed a bad reputation in the early 20th century among social conservatives and prohibitionists, who claimed that the drink was addictive and had dangerous psychoactive properties. They mostly hated the drink as it became a symbol of bohemian culture, being loved by such troublemakers as Vincent van Gogh and Ernest Hemingway. Absinthe was banned in the United States and Europe in the 1920s. Since then, the claims about its dangers have been discredited, and it became popular once more starting in the 1990s. It’s a very, very strong liquor (well, the good stuff is, anyway), but it’s pleasant when prepared properly and will leave your mouth tasting like licorice for hours.

The gardens outside Rose Villa.
I thought this was neat. This is the wall of an alley next to the restaurant. They put a series of mirrors on the wall, and let the vines take over the rest. It gives the alley a creepy fairytale vibe.

The Casements

As we were in the neighborhood, we decided to pop over to see John D. Rockefeller’s house on the Intracoastal Waterway. His house – named The Casements, a reference to its heavy, hurricane-proof storm windows – is a museum now.

The Casements
Rockefeller handing a child a dime. He loved giving his wealth away so much that he gave coins away to random people and strangers he met out in public.

After that, we decided to pop over to the beach and stick our toes in the surf. The waves have been incredible lately, but there were many locals wading in despite the red flags flying from the lifeguard stands. And many crazy surfers.

Florida child.

All of this grew out of a trip to a dog hotel. I love living in Florida so much.

Latin – the language of a thousand small victories

I’ve mentioned before that Latin is our daughter’s favorite subject. I even catch her playing her Latin songs for fun when she’s alone. I’m not sure how this happened, except that she is already mature enough to understand the concept of word play.

I took for granted how much studying Latin helps children piece their world together. They develop a considerable English vocabulary simply because the meanings of words become self-evident.

This morning, I was working with Elise on fractions for math. I told her that she could remember that the denominator was on the bottom because it started with a D and the word down also begins with a D. It was a mnemonic device I learned as a child.

She stared at me for a second and replied (rather condescendingly, I might add): “Or, I could just remember that the stem de– in Latin means down, as in decline or descend.” Seriously?

From this word, she also recognizes nomen, the Latin word for name (quid est tuum praenomen … tell me what your name is). Incidentally, this really is how we got the word denominator – you have the number and the total within the class of things you are counting. In theory, the denominator defines (names) what it is that you are counting.

Here I was thinking that would be a difficult word for a seven-year-old child to learn, but she had already decoded it and was ready to move on. I can’t tell you how often this sort of thing happens in our household. So many words are fun puzzles to solve.

I have been reading Victor Davis Hanson’s book Who Killed Homer? The Demise of Classical Education and the Recovery of Greek Wisdom. The book is about cycles in history where studying classical literature (i.e. Greek and Latin literature, the building blocks of a traditional liberal arts education) has come into and out of favor. I highly recommend this book if you enjoy a meta perspective on education. (It’s also good for your sanity if you hate the culture wars… This is not the first unbearably stupid time to be alive, and what is outstanding about western civilization will ultimately persist unharmed.)

We are obviously living in a period where classical education is out of favor in the broader culture of education. Nearly a century ago, there were one million American students studying Latin in any given year. Now Latin is the language of an evil patriarchy and universities apply a curve to SAT scores, as a not insignificant number of American teenagers are completely mystified by the content of their own language.

A young child in the 1930s would think your average college student in 2019 was an imbecile. (Incidentally, we get the word imbecile from bacillus, a device for physical support, like a cane. If you are an imbecile, your mind is a physically weak structure. You have not been given anything to hold you up as a person. A great metaphor for education.)

Dr. Hanson suggests in the book that classical literature has survived because the wisdom of ancient civilizations always find passionate protectors. I am happy to be one of them in this era.