American Elephants


Did you turn your lights off? Why? by The Elephant's Child

Last night at the appointed hour (8:00 pm local time, “Global Hour” — see “The NUPs Strike Again!” below) I turned on all the lights and looked out the window. I was appalled. The neighbors just below had their porch lights on, but across the valley it was a sea of darkness. Surely I couldn’t be living in such a sea of greenies. Then I realized that I wasn’t. It was snowing, and I couldn’t see across the valley.

The NUPs (naive urban people) had thought to make some important environmental point by turning off the world’s lights for one hour. I am unsure of what the point was. World Jump Day‘s purpose was a little clearer –if everyone in the world jumped at the same time, it would alter the orbit of the earth slightly and improve something or other. I’m not much on candlelight vigils or marches with big puppets either. I suspect that the time involved could be better spent reading up on the problem that is of such concern.

The problem is that if the concern is “global warming” or “global cooling” or even the revised formulation “climate change”, the implication is that there is some right temperature from which variation is a worrisome thing. Which is clearly nonsense. I’m personally in favor of something ranging from 70° to 78°, but I have skiers in the family.

It is worth noting that true believers, such as Al Gore, will not tolerate disagreement. In a preview clip from his coming appearance on 60Minutes this week, he refers to climate skeptics as “few” and “flat-earth people”. And this is typical. Just mention NASA’s Aqua satellite and note the blank stares or rude language that ensues. Bjorn Lomborg, author of the splendid The Skeptical Environmentalist, has been the recipient of attacks almost as violent as those visited upon the publication of the Danish cartoons. Lomborg, a professor of statistics, merely took official government statistics and explained clearly what they indicated.

It is very worth following up on the previous link, and reading the whole thing. This paragraph is especially worth remembering:

Well-meaning intellectual movements, from communism to post-structuralism, have a poor history of absorbing inconvenient fact or challenges to fundamental precepts. We should not ignore or suppress good indicators on the environment, though they have become extremely rare now. It is tempting to the layman to embrace with enthusiasm the latest bleak scenario because it fits the darkness of our soul, the prevailing cultural pessimism. The imagination, as Wallace Stevens once said, is always at the end of an era. But we should be asking, or expecting others to ask, for the provenance of the data, the assumptions fed into the computer model, the response of the peer review community, and so on. Pessimism is intellectually delicious, even thrilling, but the matter before us is too serious for mere self-pleasuring.



A Movie Hollywood Won’t Make, and Liberals Won’t Watch by American Elephant

And one people should see. Especially liberals — if only they’d pull their heads out of the sand long enough.

This is the highly anticipated “Fitna”, a short-film (15 minutes) from Dutch politician Geert Wilders. As you may recall, the Netherlands has been besieged by violence from Islamic fundamentalists angry over cartoon depictions of Mohammad and criticism of Islam. This is his answer. He describes it as “a call to shake off the creeping tyranny of Islamization.”

YouTube cuts the film into two parts. Keep in mind, “Fitna” addresses Islamic fundamentalism and as such shows graphic violence. Powerful. Do watch.



Understanding affirmative action… by The Elephant's Child

The idea of “affirmative action” is widely misunderstood.  Philosophy Professor John R. Searle of the University of California at Berkeley explained it very well in an article in Reason Magazine in February of 2000.

[A]ffirmative action had a disastrous effect.  We created two universities during affirmative action.  We had a super-elite university of people who were admitted on the most competitive criteria in the history of the university, but then we had this other university of people who could not have been admitted on those criteria, and who had to have special courses and special departments set up for them.

Now affirmative action meant two completely different things.  When it first started out the definition was that we were going to take affirmative actions to see that people who would never have tried to get into the university before would be encouraged and trained so that they could get admission.  I was all for that — that we were going to get people into the competition.  What happened though, and this was the catastrophic effect, is that race and ethnicity became criteria, not for encouraging people to enter the competition, but for judging the competition.



Brave New World by The Elephant's Child

Is this the world of the future? Gordon Brown announced last summer, plans for 10 eco-towns in response to the housing shortage in Britain. Half of the households in eco-towns will have to live without a car, and those that have one will be limited to a speed-limit of 15mph.

These new towns will have about 20,000 residents each, and such amenities as skateboard parks will be included to help achieve community cohesion. Rainwater will be captured and wastewater recycled so there is no overall increase in water demand.

The Secretary of State for Communities and the Minister for Housing and Planning have other plans. Happy socialist plans to assure that everyone gets along. The possibility of limiting Britain’s open door immigration policies to ease the housing crisis seems never to have occurred to anyone.

Melanie Phillips, author of Londonistan, has a must-read article from the Daily Mail about what is happening to England, and what seems to be her inexorable future.

Glowing descriptions of the eco-communities of the future sound uncomfortably familiar to the glowing descriptions of gracious apartment buildings in “modern housing projects” that were described to us many years ago. The notion that government can do a better job of planning our future than we can, is fairly frightening.

There’ll always be an England
And England shall be free
If England means as much to you
As England means to me.

 



Cool Site of the Day by Emerald City Elephant
March 27, 2008, 1:38 am
Filed under: Blogging, Pop Culture, Science/Technology | Tags: , , , , ,

They’re not your father’s Lego’s. (Be sure to scroll down and watch the video at the bottom)



The NUPs Strike Again! by The Elephant's Child

8PM Saturday night, March 29 is designated as “Earth Hour”. The Greenies want us to turn off our lights for one hour, to demonstrate something or other. If you are interested, just google “Earth Hour 2008″. If you think it is a crock, consider yourself an Illumination Activist. Turn on all household lights, any heaters, air conditioners, automobile headlights, the stove’s self-cleaning cycle, the TV. all kitchen appliances, the stereo. Or have a Carbon Party.

David Warren not long ago wrote a column in which he spoke of “Naive Urban People”. I refer to them as NUPs. They love wild animals, particularly babies, and Nature — which they observe from their car windows. The average visit to the Grand Canyon — one of the wonders of the world — lasts 20 minutes. NUPs are deeply concerned about “global warming” and can’t be bothered to read up and find out what it is all about. They are careful to recycle, but don’t ask what it costs their municipal government. They are urban people, deeply uninformed about the natural world and how it works.

Perhaps you remember World Jump Day. A typical NUP production. You can Google that one too.



Liberal lies and Democrat hypocrisy… by The Elephant's Child

The education establishment continually provides entertainment. Today the National Heroes Tour of some of the most honored veterans of the Iraq War was scheduled to appear at Forest Lake High School in the Minneapolis/St Paul area. Pete Hegseth, founder of Vets for Freedom, the sponsor of the tour, is an alumnus of that high school.

Apparently in “The Democratic Underground” forums there was an announcement of a press conference by unidentified groups to oppose the appearance. They expressed outrage that Vets for Freedom were going to meet with students to “indoctrinate them on the joys of war” according to reporter Katherine Kersten. They called on members to oppose the appearance and listed contact numbers for the principal, the school board president and the district office. So, of course, the school promptly canceled.

On short notice, the vets moved their program to an American Legion hall, and the venue was packed to overflowing, including some students who skipped school to attend. It seems that some people seem to think that veterans speaking about their experiences is a “political event”, even if others just want to hear from vets about their experiences.

The University of North Dakota is sponsoring a lecture by 1960s Weather Underground bomber Bill Ayers, now a “distinguished professor of education” at the University of Illinois, Chicago. Ayers says in his book that he participated in the bombing of the New York City’s police headquarters in 1970, the Capitol Building in 1971 and the Pentagon in 1972, committed in the name of ending the Vietnam War. He was not convicted because prosecutors and the FBI mismanaged the case. He said in an interview with the New York Times that “I don’t regret setting bombs. I feel we didn’t do enough”. This, however, is apparently not a “political event”.

Columbia University invited Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak, and the President of Columbia University spoke harshly to the Iranian. Columbia University professors planned to go to Iran to apologize to Ahmadinejad, who runs a terrorist regime, for the harsh words of the university president. This also was not a “political event”.

Iran favors the disappearance of Israel, the murder of homosexuals, and the stoning to death of those convicted of adultery, among other things. I suspect that the National Heroes Tour would not be welcomed at Columbia, nor would a speaker from the Boy Scouts of America. “Political Events”. Go figure.



Happy Easter! by American Elephant
March 23, 2008, 6:59 pm
Filed under: Religion

The Resurrection



Blogging on Painkillers… by American Elephant
March 23, 2008, 5:11 pm
Filed under: Blogging

…is next to impossible.

I had my gall bladder removed last Thursday, with some complications, and I’ve been high as a kite on painkillers ever since. I’ve tried a couple of times to post something to the blog, but found that with my current gnat-like attention-span I can barely string two thoughts together, let alone write about them.

I apologize for the lack of new posts, my fellow elephants are supposed to be taking up the slack, and have reassured me they will. And I will be back up and blogging just as soon as possible.



War and Peace, Judgment and Consequences. by The Elephant's Child

Today is the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq five years ago. The moonbats are out supposedly protesting the war, but in reality protesting America, President Bush and Vice President Cheney. The peace movement is neo-Communist, and has very little to do with peace. Peace is a tactical ideal and an ideological response to the perceived failures of American society. Activists use reactions to the war as a way to encourage radical political change at home. ANSWER is the largest of the groups, but there is also United for Peace and Justice, Code Pink, Not In Our Name, the Green Party and the Institute for Policy Studies. They have a deep hostility to any use of American power. The kerfuffle in Washington D.C. can be seen in all its glory here.

President Bush gave a speech at the Pentagon. He recalled the invasion and the fight with Saddam’s army, and then moved on to the post-war phase, acknowledging that it has been more difficult and taken longer than expected. But al Qaeda staked everything on driving us out of Iraq. The President said:

The surge has done more than turn the situation in Iraq around — it has opened the door to a major strategic victory in the broader war on terror. For the terrorists, Iraq was supposed to be the place where al Qaeda rallied Arab masses to drive America out. Instead, Iraq has become the place where Arabs joined with Americans to drive al Qaeda out. In Iraq, we are witnessing the first large-scale Arab uprising against Osama bin Laden, his grim ideology, and his murderous network. And the significance of this development cannot be overstated.

The terrorist movement feeds on a sense of inevitability, and claims to rise on the tide of history. The accomplishments of the surge in Iraq are exposing this myth and discrediting the extremists. When Iraqi and American forces finish the job, the effects will reverberate far beyond Iraq’s borders.

It is worth reading the whole speech which can be found here.

Barack Obama also gave a speech today on Iraq wherein he attempted to show his superior judgment of being against the war while he was still in the Illinois legislature. He began with a quotation from Woodrow Wilson about ‘never going to war unless you must’ by a president who led us into a European war in which we had no national interest.

He went on to say that there was “no hard evidence that Iraq had those stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction”, apparently unaware that President Bush never claimed that Iraq had stockpiles of anything, but that it was important to prevent Saddam from acquiring nuclear weapons, something we knew he was anxious to do.

And what would Barack Obama do in the oval office? When our inspectors were expelled from Iraq in December of 1998, they concluded that Iraq was still withholding drawings showing the latest state of its nuclear weapons design. They also found that Iraq was withholding and not accounting for documents, materials and equipment belonging to its most advanced nuclear weapon design team. They determined that Iraq had an efficient nuclear bomb design. Every Western intelligence agency told us that Iraq was producing or could immediately resume production of chemical and biological weapons. We had reports of materials that Iraq had procured. We had information that Iraq continued to buy prohibited weapons components in spite of sanctions. Iraq was also shooting daily at our planes patrolling the no-fly-zones. Is it really good judgment to announce that you oppose a war to keep America safe?

Barack says that the war has lasted longer than World War I, World War II, and the Civil War. That is true. What is the proper length for a war? The Cold War lasted over 50 years. Barak demonstrates his ignorance of what the war is about by repeating the common liberal idiocy that it is only a war against Osama bin Laden and should take place in Afghanistan.

“In 2oo2, when the fateful decisions about Iraq were made, there was a President for whom ideology overrode pragmatism, and there were too many politicians in Washington who spent too little time reading the intelligence reports, and too much time reading public opinion. The lesson of Iraq is that when we are making decisions about matters as grave as war, we need a policy rooted in reason and facts, not ideology and politics.” Barack said.

The editors of The New Republic (hardly a publication of the vast right-wing conspiracy) said at the time:

It has been a long time since this journal felt so despondent about the Democratic Party. The United States is today engaged in perhaps the most important foreign policy debate in a generation. In response to a reverberating catastrophe and a terrifying threat, the administration of George W. Bush has proposed a radical new doctrine to govern America’s role in the world, one that commits the United States to war in Iraq and perhaps beyond… Retired American diplomats and generals worry that war with Iraq could radicalize much of the Muslim world. The highbrow press increasingly writes and talks of little else. And yet with the possible exception of Joe Lieberman, the leaders of the Democratic Party have nothing serious to say.

Oh, the party leaders speak: They appear on talk shows; they write op-eds; they convene congressional hearings. But most of what they say is best understood as highly articulate evasiveness. They have devised a series of formulations designed to make the party appear to be offering a clear response to the president’s proposed war, when it is actually doing the opposite….The Democrats are a party of bystanders, a party without a position on the issue that matters most.

Barack claims that the war has made us less safe, but while Islamist attacks have occurred all over Europe, and in much of the world, there have been no successful attacks in the United States. “We still have the wrong strategy” Barak says, in spite of its evident success. It is quite possible for someone who does not have access to intelligence reports to gain an understanding of what the war is about, who we are fighting, and why. Unfortunately, the party of bystanders is not interested in gaining that understanding. Judgment? No. Barack Obama’s Iraq speech is available here.

You might be interested in what Newt Gingrich has to say:



Another Black Spot on Al Gore’s Record by The Elephant's Child

Al Gore

Al Gore has a lot to answer for. He didn’t really understand the science that he rushed to popularize with fear-mongering about rising sea levels and a dying earth. Bureaucrats, with little understanding of the science, rushed to legislate to prevent “global catastrophe”.

When the buzz among the cognoscenti reaches a certain level, the pressure to do something becomes difficult to resist. And buzz often comes in forms of preconceived notions and oft-repeated slogans such as “big oil” or “addiction to oil”,”renewable energy”and above all “biofuels“.

A liberal Congress quickly fell victim to the common liberal delusion, as David Horowitz once said, that good intentions, earnestly expressed, are good policy. “Big oil” is obviously evil (gas prices are too high and they are making too much money). Forgotten in the haste to do something is the realization that nothing moves in this country that is not powered by petroleum. So of course they provided vast subsidies for ethanol, made for the most part in this country from corn.

But there are consequences. The U.N. World Food Program is preparing to ration food aid for the world’s hungriest poor. The richest countries are burning food in their automobile gas tanks. The mandates for biofuels by the wealthiest countries have doubled and tripled world food prices in less than three years. WFP costs are rising by millions of dollars each week, but donations aren’t keeping pace. The Program is trying to feed 70 million people, but can’t afford to meet their commitments.

Three years ago, the price of corn was $1.86 a bushel, now it is over $5.00. You have probably noticed rising prices in your grocery. Corn is not only in most cereals, but as cornstarch, as a sweetener, a thickener is found on most shelves. At the meat counter corn is in most animal feed. In paste form, it is in the drywall.

Pakistan says it will reimpose food rationing. China’s food inflation rate is 18.2%. In Yemen prices of staples have nearly doubled and at least a dozen people have been killed in food riots. The poor in much of the Third World spend over 60% of their income on food. It is expected that American farmers will plant 30% more corn this year than last, directed to the higher prices they receive for subsidized biofuel.

But ethanol delivers less energy per gallon than gasoline. Studies suggest that it pollutes more, and can only be used in engines specially designed for ethanol. Demand for better food is growing as millions of Indians and Chinese enter the middle class.

The EU is committed to provide 10% of its transportation fuel from biofuels, grown both in Europe and in Indonesia and Thailand; and they are unwilling to consider that burning food crops in our gas tanks has anything to do with high food prices.

The most extreme environmentalists hope to eliminate — from a good portion of the human life on this planet — to all of it. They have told us so often enough. So there is a little more to their refusal to allow drilling in proven oil fields in Alaska and in coastal waters than many people realize.



Michigan Won’t Revote by American Elephant
March 18, 2008, 9:13 am
Filed under: News, Politics | Tags: , , , , ,

The Michigan legislature must approve any re-vote. The votes aren’t there.




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