American Elephants


American Government Grinds Slowly to a Halt. by The Elephant's Child

The essential battle takes place at the decision whether a free people should remain free or whether they need to be controlled and managed — for their own good, of course. At least that’s what the controllers believe. The Left has a deep need to control. You never know what a free person might decide to think, or to do.

If you are alert to this tendency, you begin to see it everywhere. Consider creativity. The government is sure that they can foster new ideas, but we see the result in all the wasteful grants hopeful government agencies make. Creativity is not a collective action. People must be free to make decisions, take action, decide.

The more government grows, the worse it gets. How many different agencies must sign off on one small piece of a project before the next one can even be considered? We started out with law to keep bad people from doing bad things. then we started making laws to tell people how to do things, and laws to tell people what things they must do and when they must do them, and what materials they must use and how many people they must hire and slowly, slowly, government grinds to a halt of its own weight, and it becomes impossible to do anything or get anything done. ‘

We have an outbreak of a deadly disease, and we find that those who were supposed to be in charge don’t know what to do. The hospitals don’t understand the protocols, the press demands that the president appoint an Ebola Czar, but nobody seems to know that there is already an Ebola Czar, and the new man knows nothing about medicine or disease and is not the Ebola Czar, although everyone keeps calling him that, he’s the Ebola Response Coordinator, and a long-time political hack who was chief of staff to both Al Gore and Joe Biden, which is not exactly a recommendation. And that is how government works today.

When you are a true believer with a managed, controlled people, you are sure that whatever problems come up will be solved by another law, or more regulation.  As the economy and the government grind more and more slowly, layer on a large dollop of political correctness so that no one will be offended by incorrect speech, add multiculturalism and race and gender to muck up the mix, and you are getting close to modern society.

When government becomes such a slow-grinding machine, what difference does it make if you reward your supporters and cronies with special projects or special funds. Who’s going to know and who’s going to do anything about it anyway. Then you have a president who, exhausted by Congress’s failure to do what he wants, simply takes matters into his own hands. Because nobody knows how to stop him.



Collectivism: “We’re All In This Together” Doesn’t Work. by The Elephant's Child

Andrew Klavan summed it up pretty well today:

Whatever its pretensions, whatever its claims, statism — progressivism, leftism, socialism — is based on the idea that a small elite intelligentsia can run your life better than you can. They know how to spend your money. They know how to educate your children. They know how to run your health care. They know how to protect you from yourself.

You do not have to talk to a statist very long before he will profess an intense dislike, distrust and even fear of ordinary people. Ordinary people spend money on what they want (TV’s restaurants and cars) rather than what the elite know they ought to want (aluminum foil climate change reversers). Ordinary people teach their children that God created the world rather than a random pattern of mathematic realities that came into being through another random pattern that came…  well, the elite know: it’s random patterns all the way down! Ordinary people will give jobs and business to those who earn them rather than those the elite, in their greater understanding, know are historically deserving because of past oppression. And so on.

Now, of course, with the very elite of the elite running the country, we find that — what do you know? — this statism dodge doesn’t really work all that well. And there are two reasons for this. The first is that the statist premise is wrong. In fact, ordinary people left at liberty to do as they will are actually better at running their lives and businesses and country than the geniuses in Washington. Central planning works great in the imaginations of the elite, but in the real world…  not so much.



Here’s Some Good News For a Change! by The Elephant's Child

The price of crude oil is tumbling downward towards $80 per barrel. The Brent crude price of $82.60 is the cheapest since 2010.”On October 1, Saudi Arabia’s  national oil company announced that it had abandoned a policy of price protection and would start to focus on protecting its market share. Combined with falling global demand and rising supplies elsewhere, oil prices have fallen accordingly.

Natural gas supplies are plentiful and warm weather so far means weak demand, which means lower costs for natural gas.

For our fracking, the break-even price is around $50-$70 bbl. Supply is bulging. Gasoline prices will come down, transportation prices will come down, which means that costs at the grocery store will ease.

States like Iran, Venezuela, and Iraq can only balance their budgets at oil prices ranging from $110 to $135 per barrel. This is good. If oil prices stay below $90 per barrel for any length of time, there will be real financial squeezes, and even regime change in Iran, Bahrain, Ecuador, Venezuela, Algeria, Nigeria, Iraq or Libya and would give Vladimir Putin some real trouble. Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch.

It’s not clear what Saudi Arabia is up to, but they are definitely not approving of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, nor of ISIS’ ambitions either. They may be just protecting their market share, as we are close to surpassing them in production.

If we start exporting natural gas to Europe, that would relax the strangle hold Russia holds over their energy supplies.

It’s good news, just when we need some.



Quarantines and Tests: Finding Out Sooner And Faster. by The Elephant's Child

The Daily Mail reports that the recommended 21-day quarantine period for the Ebola virus may not be long enough. The World Health Organization advises the 21 day quarantine, but the WHO advised on Wednesday that there is a global plague, which can cause “vomiting, marked hypocalcemia, metabolic acidosis, convulsions and , in rare cases, even death. Not Ebola, but the overconsumption of energy drinks.

In Colorado, in the Corgenix lab in Broomfield, scientists are working on a new test—called a lateral flow dipstick type test — that can identify Ebola in 10 minutes, much faster than current methods that can take three days to diagnose. The test works much like a home pregnancy test. A drop of patient’s blood is placed on a test strip, then dropped into a buffer solution. Two lines show a positive result, one line means the test is negative for Ebola. It can be used in the field, and is currently being used to detect the deadly Lassa virus in west Africa. The new test will get the green light in about a year at the earliest, depending on the government.



So We Are Fighting A Politically Correct War? by The Elephant's Child

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This last week,  Bill Gertz reported that “The Obama administration is failing to wage ideological war against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS or ISIS) terrorists over fears that attacking its religious philosophy will violate the constitutional divide between church and state, according to an in-depth inquiry by the Washington Free Beacon.”

“While the government has tried to counter terrorist propaganda, it cannot directly address the warped religious interpretations of groups like ISIL because of the constitutional separation of church and state,” said Quintan Wiktorowicz, a former White House counterterrorism strategist for the Obama administration.

“U.S. officials are prohibited from engaging in debates about Islam, and as a result will need to rely on partners in the Muslim world for this part of the ideological struggle,” he said in an email interview.

In his speech to the UN on September 24, President Obama asked the world body to come up with a plan over the next year designed to counter ISIS and al Qaeda’s ideology. He said ending religious wars through an ideological campaign in the Middle East will be “generational” and led by those who live in the region. No external power, he said, can change “hears and minds,” and as a result the U.S. would support others in the unspecified program of “counter extremist ideology.”

Because officials cannot engage in debates about Islam, it makes it a little difficult to clearly define the religious doctrine you’re talking about. And there seems to be a problem there. Statements by the president and administration spokesmen indicate that they don’t understand ISIS ideology, which would be a needed first step.

Most senior administration officials hold “post modern” or “secular” views, and as a result have almost no ability to understand the religious views of violent terrorists. If you don’t take religion seriously yourself, it is impossible to understand the philosophy of a suicide bomber or someone who cuts off peoples’ heads in the name of jihad.

Senior State Department officials have expressed the idea that ideology does not play a role in Islamist terror which comes from endemic causes like poverty and economic privation or social injustice.

The latest issue of the ISIS English-language magazine Dabiq reveals a bit of their logic. “The Islamic State has long maintained an initiative that sees it waging jihad alongside a dawah [proselytizing campaign] that actively tends to the needs of its people.” The magazine added that the group “fights to defend the Muslims, liberate their lands, and bring an end to tawaghit [the evil corrupt system]. It also sought to legitimize its mass executions, beheadings, and other atrocities as religiously justified responses to all opponents who refuse to submit to its ideology.

President Obama claimed in his September 20 anti ISIS strategy speech that the group is “not Islamic” because it kills Muslims and innocents, something he said no religion condones. A claim disputed by most experts on Islam.

The Obama administration, under pressure from domestic Muslim advocacy organizations, has adopted a politically correct approach toward Islam and terrorism that has removed talk of Islam from current policies and programs — instead they are carrying out policies under the less-specific and DHS-approved title of “countering violent extremism.” If you can’t even call something by its name, you’re not going to have much luck defeating it in the field.

The word Islam has mostly been eliminated from policies and programs, and discussing Islam has been placed out-of-bounds — which means that Islamist ideology cannot be addressed in a significant way. This leads to claims that the U.S. and the West are at war with Islam, which leaves our officialdom tongue-tied. How they have managed to conflate cutting off the heads of American journalists and aid workers with First Amendment constitutional religious issues shown nothing so much as the triumph of either fuzzy thought or no thought at all.

The terrorists, says James Glassman, former undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, have constructed a phony ideology and are trying to take over a whole region. The president must address that. “It is very late in the game, and he needs to devote resources, not just words, to the war of ideas.”

The administration’s point man for propaganda is Rick Stengel, a former Time magazine reporter who is now undersecretary for public diplomacy said in a recent speech “I wold say that there is no battle of ideas with ISIL. ISIL if bereft of ideas, they’re bankrupt of ideas. It’s not an organization that is animated by ideas. It’s a criminal, savage, barbaric organization.” But, oddly, recruits are flowing to ISIS, moved to join in jihad because they are inspired by their ideas.

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Armed vehicles are mostly Toyota pickups with guns mounted in the back. Not so much on ISIS bases or fighters. I don’t know if Obama is approving each strike,  as he said he might do. But we cannot say “war of ideas” and we cannot do anything to “prohibit the free exercise of religion.” Talk about fuzzy thinking!



Seattle City Council In a Fit of Political Correctness Abolished Columbus Day by The Elephant's Child

The Seattle City Council is on track to rival the Berkeley City Council for sheer lunacy. They have just declared that the upcoming Columbus Day shall be abolished in favor of a renamed “Indigenous Peoples Day.” Newly elected Socialist City Council member Kshama Sawant, is an Indian immigrant, a part-time instructor in economics at Seattle Community College, and a bit of a firebrand.

Ms. Sawant’s first big issue was the minimum wage, and she demanded that the Seattle minimum wage at $9.32 (significantly higher than the national minimum) be raised to $15.00.  It passed, but has not yet gone into effect. Highly celebrated by fast food workers and by the folks at Momentum Machines who have a robotic machine that can produce 360 custom hamburgers to order an hour, custom meat grinds for every customer, and never complains, demands a higher wage, nor more benefits or time off.

The Indigenous People’s Day idea suffers from a common Leftist delusion. They choose to judge the people of the past by today’s morality, and flawed ideas of history.  Columbus wasn’t particularly nice to the native people he encountered, but Columbus Day was never a celebration of the man, but of the “discovery” of the Americas. Columbus had nothing to do with North America, anyway. First encounters between stone age native peoples and more advanced Europeans often did not go well. Europeans assumed that illiterate people who could not speak their language or understand their ways were somehow inferior. You can be indignant about that, but it was an understandable reaction.

Contemporary Leftists sneeringly condemn George Washington, the indispensable man, without whose valor and probity, the country we love would not be the country we know today—because he was a slave owner. Slavery, at that time, was the way of the world and completely normal. Machines that replaced human labor were still far in the future.

Blacks owned slaves. Native Americans owned slaves. It was the way things had always been in the world, and was not thought to be wrong or unusual.  Oddly enough, Leftists are very contemptuous of George Washington, but have no problem with Andrew Jackson  (the Father of the Democratic Party) who was one of the largest slave owners in the South, and responsible for the “Trail of Tears” as well. They were citizens of their world and their time, and cannot be judged by today’s morality, or more properly today’s political correctness.

Canada more correctly calls their aborigines “First People,” or “First Nation,” which is more accurate. Native Americans kept slaves, took scalps, lit forests on fire for fun, fought bloody wars, and in some cases were cannibals. Human nature is messy, and that goes for all races. Some are good people, some are not. We struggle to improve, and morals change. Unfortunately, changes are often accomplished by force by the courts or by city councils or state legislatures, who take it upon themselves to force their own ideas on everybody else.

Kshama Sawant, who got her PhD in economics from North Carolina State, apparently joined a movement called “The Socialist Alternative” devoted to “Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism,” fairly recently,  and neglected the part of her economics education devoted to Free Markets and Free People — or considering the state of today’s universities, perhaps that’s just not included anymore. Pity.



That Missing Global Warming Isn’t Hiding In The Oceans After All! by The Elephant's Child

Anthropogenic (human-caused) global warming has always been right up the Left’s view of the world and humanity. We are bad people , despoiling the earth, and it has to be fixed. I think of the Left as the “perpetually discontented.” But when the wise experts in government get the right laws and the right regulations in place, we will have sustainability, and world peace, and greedy rapacious corporations in search of profit will no longer be able to destroy nature, and social justice will reign over all.

It has now been a full 18 years with no global warming. None. That is an unacceptable idea for the Left, and the causes of warming and what warming has caused continue to occupy the green mind. If the warming is missing, where has it gone? What is going on?

The theory was that the “missing heat” is supposedly hiding in the deep oceans. Gerald Meehl of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) told National Geographic in February that:

“Strong trade winds are bringing cooler water to the surface in the equatorial Pacific and mixing more heat into the deeper ocean.”

This meant, National Geographic helpfully summarized, that “the missing heat from global warming is being stored in a deeper warm pool in the western Pacific.”

Kevin Trenberth, father of the deep ocean hidey-hole for missing heat theory, spoke last year to Bloomberg:

In fact, there is mounting evidence that deeper regions of the ocean, down to 2000 meters, are absorbing heat faster than ever, Trenberth said in a phone call. His research shows the oceans began taking on significantly more heat at around the same time the surface warming began to slow in 1998. His widely cited work was published just after the cutoff to be included in the IPCC report.

The irony, says Trenberth, is that when the surface of the planet is unusually sweltering, the Earth actually radiates more heat into the atmosphere, in effect slowing the long-term warming of the planet. And in “hiatus” years, when the surface is cooler, the Earth absorbs more of the sun’s heat deep the oceans, slowly cooking the planet. What you see isn’t always what you get.

Nice try. A new study from a NASA research team, “using a combination of satellite observations and direct measurements taken by a network of 3,000 floating Argo temperature probes, the NASA team set out to calculate temperature changes and thermal expansion in the deep ocean (below 1.24 miles).” It finds that the deep oceans have not warmed since 2005.

James Delingpole explains:

What has happened here, in other words, is that for years the warmists have been fobbing off their teachers with the excuse that “the dog ate their homework.” But it simply won’t wash any more because the teacher has now discovered that they don’t actually own a dog.




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