January 27, 2017

The NYT detects a "budding bromance" between Elon Musk and Donald Trump.

The article, by James B. Stewart, is "Elon Musk Has Trump’s Ear, and Wall Street Takes Note." Musk had been anti-Trump before the election — or so he said in his public statements (who can know what is in a man's head?).

I absolutely adore the photograph — by Sasha Maslov — that accompanies this article. The unusual color, composition, and mood made me think of Edward Hopper paintings. Musk looks so alone and so pensive. I'd like to give this painting the title "The Man Who Is Not Smoking" (because of the hand positions and the smoke-like reflection in the background).

Now, back to Stewart's article.
[Musk, at a White House meeting,] broached the subject of a carbon tax. Surprisingly, Mr. Trump didn’t reject it out of hand....

Mr. Musk has broached the subject of the nation’s aging electricity transmission grid in conversations with Mr. Trump, according to an insider with knowledge of the discussions.
Trump lets Musk broach. Fine.
It’s still early in the Trump administration, and some (or all) of this may turn out to be wishful thinking by fans of Mr. Musk, Tesla investors, environmentalists and hopeful space colonists.
Hmm. Seems to me Trump is gathering people in. He lets people approach. Approach and broach. Then what?

66 comments:

James Kahn said...

Musk cozying up to whoever is in power? Shocking!

rehajm said...

Mr. Musk is a sexual predator of Federal tax credits.

buwaya puti said...

Musk depends on his position at court.
Much of his enterprise depends on government policy going his way.
So he, unlike those with established interests, needs to make nice.

eric said...

Maybe together they can make nuclear energy great again.

tcrosse said...

Approach and Broach or
Breach and Impeach.

rehajm said...

Seems to me Trump is gathering people in. He lets people approach. Approach and broach. Then what?

I don't think it's completely absurd to assume he does what benevolent leaders do- listen to everyone, identify common themes and develop policy based on the intersection of this input and your values.

Original Mike said...

"Trump lets Musk broach. Fine."

He listened to Al and Leo, too. Listening is good.

SayAahh said...

Approach and broach. Then what?
Roach.

Bob Boyd said...

When you're a milking machine, everything is a teat.

Bay Area Guy said...

My rough understanding is that much of Musk's business dealings require massive government subsidies and/or tax benefits.

If so, makes sense to be friendly to the Boss.

Why the NYTimes would write about this, remains a mystery.

WisRich said...

Trump want's to spend Government money.

So does Musk.

Very Symbiotic.

David Begley said...

All of the Elon Musk companies are heavily dependent upon the federal government. Tesla exists only because of federal tax credits. Same for Solar City. I think SpacEx has a government deal. The State of NM gave SpacEx big money. Crony capitalist.

And James Stewart is the liberal NYT establishment. Protects Musk.

Tesla made ONLY 70k cars last year. 12m sold total in US. SCAM.

Matthew Sablan said...

Bromance is a word I dislike. Do we call close friendship between women a Sismance? A Heromance? Ok, I guess those just sound terrible, but still. Hate the term.

john said...

Looks like he is waiting for his job interview to begin. And his mom couldn't quite get the cowlick to lay flat.

Nonapod said...

I find the whole concept of carbon taxes pretty insidious and destructive. To me it seems like the way they've been proposed that they'd almost certainly be used by very large businesses to crush all the smaller and medium sized competitors in their market. So you'd end up with a bunch of oligopolies. I guess Socialists love that because it's then just a short step to complete government takeover of the industry in question.

sinz52 said...

Trump has shown a sadistic streak by "bringing people in" to advocate for their views--and then doing precisely the opposite.

He did that with waterboarding.
He did that with global warming.
After his meeting with Elon Musk, Trump will, of course, announce that hyperloops are a pipe dream, global warming is not happening, and Elon Musk is a girly-man.

Original Mike said...

Trump can hand Musk wheelbarrows of cash to make electric cars and bring back coal to pwer them.

David Begley said...

Carbon taxes are a complete non-starter for Trump. He won the coal, oil and gas states.

Bob Boyd said...

Musk is an unparalleled talent at convincing a government to pay for expensive, ambitious, visionary projects.
Maybe Trump wants to send him to meet with the Mexicans about a certain wall.

AJ Lynch said...

I hope Trump takes away the tax credits for electric cars period.

Paul said...

Trump, unlike his predecessor, will give anyone an audience and an opportunity to make their case. He is open to persuasion but obviously has a highly developed BS meter. This is a real leader and he will continue to impress those who are open to him and infuriate while rendering irrelevant those who are not.

Steve Uhr said...

What's the problem people have with SpaceX? Isn't it a good thing when the private sector designs and produces and launches rockets and assumes the risk for failure? SpaceX's reusable rockets will radically reduce the cost of satellite launches and space travel.

Musk knows that this is the best country in the world for entrepreneurs and that is why he left his home in S Africa and became a US citizen. We should feel honored.

Of course SpaceX has a "government deal." How else is the government going to get its military and other satellites into orbit? The Space Shuttle isn't around.

Original Mike said...

"What's the problem people have with SpaceX?"

Who are you asking?

damikesc said...

Apparently, men who do not hate each other are, by default, "in a bromance". Lovely.

In the world, there are people you can do business with. In this world, listening to what people who don't like you want can help you win them over.

Musk is a whore for tax credits.

Perhaps it's odd because, for eight years, that type of thing was not done at the WH.

David said...

Photoshopped. Fake photo.

Steve Uhr said...

NASA still has a lot of climate change propaganda on its website -- climate.nasa.gov. I expect that will disappear in the near future.

Bob Loblaw said...

All of the Elon Musk companies are heavily dependent upon the federal government. Tesla exists only because of federal tax credits. Same for Solar City. I think SpacEx has a government deal.

SpaceX has been getting a fairly steady income from the federal Commercial Crew Transportation Capability contract. To be fair, that's not technically a subsidy, since the company is on the hook for delivering a reliable capsule to take people to the ISS.

The company has a very profitable business model launching commercial payloads, but that's only true to the extent it can launch. SpaceX is supposed to have lost money in 2014 and 2016 due to failures, just scraping by in 2015. The government contract has given them enough breathing room to work the kinks out of the Falcon 9 launcher, so it's not a small thing.

Original Mike said...

SpaceX selling the government launches is great. Tesla sucking subsidies for dubious public benefit, not so much.

Fabi said...

What percentage of sunk and fixed costs of launch vehicle activity is SpaceX amortizing?

Henry said...

The unusual color, composition, and mood made me think of Edward Hopper paintings.

Interesting. The first artist I thought of was Richard Diebenkorn, particularly from the composition, but also the color. I thought of the Ocean Park series, in which an active part of the image is balanced by large geometric ares of modulated color. The Musk image even has similar architectural lines and diagonals.

Diebenkorn like windows too.

Gahrie said...

Musk is an unparalleled talent at convincing a government to pay for expensive, ambitious, visionary projects.

Bullshit.

The subsidies for solar power and electric cars were already in place long before Musk came along. He just took advantage of them, which was the whole reason for creating the subsidies in the first place.

As for SpaceX, that was entirely on his dime until he was able to successful launch a rocket. Then he simply competed against the old school rocket companies for government contracts.

Sebastian said...

"Musk is an unparalleled talent at convincing a government to pay for expensive, ambitious, visionary projects. Maybe Trump wants to send him to meet with the Mexicans about a certain wall." Nah. Musk is into tunnels now. I think the Mexicans would want to talk to him.

n.n said...

Warming. Warming. Warming. Hot!

Catastrophic... Anthropogenic... climate change.

Anyway, the optimal energy solution will be a basket of technologies and natural resources assessed on their merit in context, which will include god particles; organic black blob; hot, odorous air; artificial green blight; and others.

Bob Loblaw said...

What percentage of sunk and fixed costs of launch vehicle activity is SpaceX amortizing?

SpaceX is a private company, and they don't release that kind of information. We only have unofficial bottom-line numbers because somebody leaked them anonymously.

Michael K said...

He might be a guy to do the electricity grid, which desperately needs to be replaced.

The subsidies for electric vehicles are going away. Maybe he knows that and is looking for a related project.

Better grid might make the electric cars more viable in the long run.

SteveM said...

Not only a better grid, but also more power plants are needed to make electric cars more viable.

Fabi said...

SpaceX benefitted greatly from damned near every launch vehicle sunk cost to date. Metallurgy, manufacturing, telemetry, guidance, control, and all the others. They don't carry the NASA overhead burden, the full cost of launch pads, environmental assessments for fuels, and all the others.

Yes they're doing it at a lower cost, but because they can avoid all the above outlays.

Lewis Wetzel said...

Spacex would be out of the launch business if it weren't for the American taxpayer footing the bill.
Space launches are inherently dangerous to equipment and passengers. The bad stuff, on launch and return, tends to happen when there is very little that can be done to avert disaster. Reusable launchers are the Holy Grail of space exploration/exploitation. Actually, a better analogy is to the Oak Island treasure than the Holy Grail.
Spacex's launch failure rate is 7%, compared to an industry wide average of 5%:
http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-spacex-rocket-reliability-1472754973-htmlstory.html
Would you get on an airplane that had a 7% failure rate?

Lewis Wetzel said...

Michael K-
The problem with electrical grids all over the civilized world is that they have sacrificed redundancy for efficiency.

Unknown said...

The most wonderful thing about Trump to this supporter was that he did NOT reject things out of hand.

- Healthcare for all --- Republicans went apoplectic.
- Praising Planned Parenthood --- Republicans went apoplectic.
- Criticizing Trade Deals -- Republicans went apoplectic.
- Now Carbon Tax -- Republicans would have gone apoplectic. But if it makes sense, it makes sense. The only reason to reject something out of hand is because like Abortion, Gun Rights, Taxes, Public Schools...you are so beholden to those issues that even to mention it is blasphemy..

So damn refreshing... And for all of the folks talking like Trump is only doing this to line his pockets or for some sort of ideology, well they are just flat out wrong. They will never admit it because they hate, but they are flat out wrong.

tim in vermont said...

Musk wants a tax on his competition? That's why Democrats like him love government.

tcrosse said...

Electric cars are not really scalable. The grid cannot support many more of them. And the people who are most in favor of them are also the ones who are most against the increase in generating and transmission line capacity they'd require. I'm looking at you, California.

Original Mike said...

"Would you get on an airplane that had a 7% failure rate?".

If it was headed to orbit, maybe. Cleveland? No.

Unknown said...

"After his meeting with Elon Musk, Trump will, of course, announce that hyperloops are a pipe dream, global warming is not happening, and Elon Musk is a girly-man."

Hyperloops may be a pipe dream, I do not recall Trump having much of an opinion on it.
Global Warming ( such a dumb stupid name that it doesn't even mean anything anymore ) is probably happening a little bit, but not enough to wreck an economy. Trumps position will not change on that.
I do not know about the girly-man thing.

The point is your comments are non-sequitur

walter said...

"He lets people approach. Approach and broach. Then what?"
Al Gore has no comment...

Original Mike said...

"Yes they're doing it at a lower cost, but because they can avoid all the above outlays."

Nonetheless, I feel a lot more optimistic about our future in space with them (and other companies) running with the ball than I do NASA.

Fabi said...

SpaceX is fine -- no problem -- but when they brag about being low cost it's not an apples-to-apples comparison.

madAsHell said...

I read these inside-knowledge, fly-on-the-wall accounts of what was said, and I think BULLSHIT. I have to believe Trump never shows his hand. That's just bad poker.

If he does have people spilling the beans to the press, then he needs to dust off his Celebrity Apprentice spiel. "You're Fired!!"

tim in vermont said...

Funny how the people who so fervently believe in catastrophic global warming can only point to press accounts as evidence.

Big Mike said...

(who can know what is in a man's head?)

@Althouse, you mean we men are as opaque to you women as you women are to us men? There really is justice in this world!!!

Matthew Sablan said...

"(who can know what is in a man's head?)"

-- Phrenologists know what's on men's heads.

Dan Osborne said...

I understand peoples beef with Musk, but I dont have a problem with him. And I understand why Trump would warm to him. Musk is a builder of business and a rock star self promoter, just like Trump.

SpaceEX? NASA doesnt actually put things in orbit any longer. Spacex does. So do the Russians. America first!

Tesla? Alot of subsidies... granted. Water under the bridge as far as Trump is concerned. They make a great car and they make it in the USA.

Mars mission? Hyperloop? Why wouldnt Trump want to get behind these? Its the future most Americans want.

EDH said...

"The NYT detects a "budding bromance" between Elon Musk and Donald Trump."

So, will the NYT now have to admit Trump was elected with a "Man-Date"?

"It's a man-date. It's a man-date. This is a man-date."

BDNYC said...

Musk is a leech.

Drago said...

Steve Uhr: "NASA still has a lot of climate change propaganda on its website -- climate.nasa.gov. I expect that will disappear in the near future."

I should hope so since all lefties led by obambi know that NASA's PRIMARY mission is making muslims feel good about their tremendous contribution to space travel.

To paraphrase obama and the left: The most beautiful sound in the solar system will be the Islamic call to prayer across all circuits to our extra-terrestrial bases.

Quick question to the lefties: if an islamist cuts off the heads of Christians in space and there are no sound waves, is it a big deal?...

...Trick Question! It's not a problem here on Earth to the left so of course it won't be a problem in space!

Big Mike said...

I note without comment that not only has Trump now met amicably with Elon Musk, but last Monday he met with union leaders, primarily in the construction industry. I don't know whether any of the leaders he met with had endorsed him, but in marked contrast with his predecessor, he is meeting and listening. One week in office is too soon to tell, but Trump is certainly doing the right things right now.

As to the carbon tax, I'm confident that Trump and his advisors recognize that it would be a regressive tax that would fall most heavily on his base supporters. So it is -- should be -- DOA.

Are W said...

Elon

noun
1. User of big bucks extracted from others.

Guildofcannonballs said...

Mandate mandate mandate.
Trump Trump Trump.

Mandate mandate mandate.
Trump Trump Trump.

Mandate mandate mandate.
Trump Trump Trump.

Go Donald!

Michael K said...

Michael K-
The problem with electrical grids all over the civilized world is that they have sacrificed redundancy for efficiency.


Somebody is going to have to take that on eventually. Maybe Musk is looking for a new challenge that doesn't need subsidy.

Rance Fasoldt said...

Definitely agree on the photo.

Rance Fasoldt said...

I was fascinated by the description made by blogger/podcaster Marco Arment of his researching of a Tesla, and after purchasing it, his experiences driving it. If I recall correctly, he replaced a BMW M5 with a Tesla Model S. I had already been fascinated by the approach of the Tesla company stores, mimicking many of the features that have made Apple Stores among the most successful and pleasant places to explore and purchase their products. Also, throwing out the internal combustion engine results in many other simplifications: in braking, transmission, operation, drive-by-wire, software controls. Want enhanced cruise control? Just update the OS. Plus, performance is awesome! It piques my interest in whatever comes out of Apple regarding cars (I have all their other products).

That said, electric cars don't cut it here in Montana. The distances are vast, weather extreme, and we need pickup trucks, big, robust and 4x4.

buwaya said...

There are great simplifications possible with electric vehicles, but frankly they do nothing much about CO2, or its very difficult to extract an advantage.

The need to provide electricity in large amounts, which means coal and natural gas at reasonable prices, combined with generation, transmission and battery inefficiencies, mean that current fuel-cycles for these are probably no better than gasoline cars as far as CO2. You are simply moving where it is generated.

And besides which the total lifetime CO2 budget of motor vehicles is at least 50% about making the vehicle, not the fuel it consumes. All that steel and aluminum and plastic, the forging and smelting and casting and machining is what does it.

One of the largest CO2_reduction trends ever is the increase in vehicle service life over the last forty years. This is more significant than any increase in milage or energy efficiency.

Recycling even inefficient western cars by selling them to the third world is extremely energy efficient and arguably saves a huge lot of CO2. Better probably than making large numbers of electric cars.

Electricity vs gasoline as such is not a clear case at all.

Gahrie said...

Somebody is going to have to take that on eventually. Maybe Musk is looking for a new challenge that doesn't need subsidy.

Actually his new project is going to be to build tunnels under LA and then put freeways in them to reduce traffic on the surface.

I shit you not.

Rusty said...

Michael K said...
He might be a guy to do the electricity grid, which desperately needs to be replaced.

The subsidies for electric vehicles are going away. Maybe he knows that and is looking for a related project.

Better grid might make the electric cars more viable in the long run.

In order for that to happen there has to be an order of nagnetude chnge in how electricity is stored.
I've mentioned this before. For electric vehicles to really take off they'll have to build one that does everything an F150 can do. Including mileage. Once they have that down electric vehicles will take off.

Bad Lieutenant said...

What is needed for electric vehicles to be efficient is a form of electrical energy storage wherein a hundred pounds of battery, capacitor, flywheel, etc, provides the same number of joules of energy as a hundred pounds of gasoline or diesel fuel. Won't hold my breath.

Bill said...

The Maslov photo reminds me more of Alex Katz than of Hopper (the light on Musk's face), though I see your point.