American Elephants

The Age of Global Warming Is Over: Sanity Returns. by The Elephant's Child

Mankind cannot predict the future. We attempt it constantly. Prediction has become a profession of sorts, with strategists, planners, futurists—and governmental agencies. We’re not always successful with our plans for tomorrow, which should teach us something about prediction, but hope springs eternal.

The IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change, is a prime example. Weather forecasters can predict the future pretty well for the rest of the week, but the IPCC attempts to do a “gigantic weather forecast for a century or more.”And they know that because they have computer programs the tell them so. The total absurdity of such predictions is clearly expressed by Christopher Booker in The  Telegraph:

When future generations come to look back on the alarm over global warming that seized the world towards the end of the 20th century, much will puzzle them as to how such a scare could have arisen. They will wonder why there was such a panic over a 0.4 per cent rise in global temperatures between 1975 and 1998, when similar rises between 1860 and 1880 and 1910 and 1940 had given no cause for concern. They will see these modest rises as just part of a general warming that began at the start of the 19th century, as the world emerged from the Little Ice Age, when the Earth had grown cooler for 400 years.

That’s four-tenths of one percent! And the panic over that 0.4 percent of warming has become a religion, with ardent true believers who want to send “denialists” to prison. That 0.4 percent has drawn forth massive government investment in low-flush toilets, banning lightbulbs, massive wind farms, solar arrays, electric cars, ethanol, biofuels, and pages and pages of regulations. The stage of the panic can be partly measured by the list of things caused by global warming. The amount of money misapplied to preventing global warming, with no visible result, is immeasurable. The totals would be humiliating, and we will probably never know. Wasted. Completely wasted.

Also in The Telegraph, Charles Moore reviews The Age of Global Warming by Rupert Darwall.

The theory of global warming is a gigantic weather forecast for a century or more. However interesting the scientific inquiries involved, therefore, it can have almost no value as a prediction. Yet it is as a prediction that global warming (or, as we are now ordered to call it in the face of a stubbornly parky 21st century, “global weirding”) has captured the political and bureaucratic elites. All the action plans, taxes, green levies, protocols and carbon-emitting flights to massive summit meetings, after all, are not because of what its supporters call “The Science”. Proper science studies what is – which is, in principle, knowable – and is consequently very cautious about the future – which isn’t. No, they are the result of a belief that something big and bad is going to hit us one of these days.

James Delingpole, another Brit, reports on the latest Climate Change Reconsidered report by the NIPCC — the Non-Governmental International Panel on Climate Change, an independent research body funded by the Heartland Institute:

The latest verdict is in on ‘climate change’— and the news is good. The planet is greening, the oceans are blooming, food production is up, animals are thriving and humans are doing better than ever; and all thanks to CO2 and global warming.

Mr. Delingpole summarizes the work of the NIPCC, and the scientific studies which support it. Nice to have a concise summary of where we stand. And the scientists and  ordinary people who disagree with the true believers are not “deniers,” they are skeptics— skeptical that humans are causing a disruption in the climate of the earth, skeptical that computer programs based on a superficial understanding of climate and a lot of sheer guesses can predict the climate 50 to 100 years out, and very skeptical that we should be spending billions to attempt to change the climate.

Do read all three pieces. They’re not long, and they give a good picture of the real world of climate change.


A Brief Trip Down Memory Lane: by The Elephant's Child

The foreign policy favored by liberalism and pursued by the Clinton administration reflects a coherent vision of the world—coherent, consistent, and dangerously at odds with the realities of the international system. This misguided foreign policy…rests on three shaky pillars:

  1. Internationalism (i.e. the belief in the moral, legal, and strategic primacy of international institutions over mere “national interests”).
  2. Legalism (i.e. the belief that safety and security ar achieved through treaties—international agreements on such matters as chemical weapons, nuclear nonproliferation an anti-ballistic missiles).
  3. humanitarianism (i.e. the belief that the primary world role of the United States is—to quote Secretary of State Madeline Albright—to “terminate the abominable injustices and conditions that still plague civilization”).

In reality…the “international community” is nothing more than a fiction. [It is] a state of nature with no enforcer and  no universally recognized norms. Anarchy is kept in check, today, as always, not by some hollow bureaucracy on the East River, but by the will and power of the Great Powers, and today, in particular, of the one great super-power. The administration’s penchant for treaties—a hopelessly utopian project—and the third pillar stems from an abiding liberal antipathy to any notion of national interest—thus it is only “disinterested intervention’ that is pristine enough to justify the use of force.

Charles Krauthammer: “A World Imagined” The New Republic, March 15, 1999

The more things change, the more they stay the same.


Forecasting the Climate: Maybe Not So Bad After All. by The Elephant's Child

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will soon publish the second part of its latest report on the likely impact of climate change. It will reportedly be less frightening than last time around in 2007.

Contrary to media opinion, the real debate has never been between “deniers” and the rest, but between those who think warming is fairly harmless and those who think the future is alarming.

Matt Ridley writes in the Wall Street Journal that a small amount of warming over a long period will probably be a good thing. People can adapt. Satellites have recorded roughly a 14% increase in greenery on the planet over the past 30 years, in all ecosystems.

And if renewable energy had proved by now to be cheap, clean and thrifty in its use of land, then we would be right to address that small risk of a large catastrophe by rushing to replace fossil fuels with first-generation wind, solar and bioenergy. But since these forms of energy have proved expensive, environmentally damaging and land-hungry, it appears that in our efforts to combat warming we may have been taking the economic equivalent of chemotherapy for a cold.

Almost every global environmental scare of the past half century proved exaggerated including the population “bomb,” pesticides, acid rain, the ozone hole, falling sperm counts, genetically engineered crops and killer bees. In every case, institutional scientists gained a lot of funding from the scare and then quietly converged on the view that the problem was much more moderate than the extreme voices had argued. Global warming is no different.


Now Obama’s Giving the Internet Away to the International Community by The Elephant's Child

“U.S. Officials plan to relinquish federal control over the administration of the internet to something called the “global internet community,” which is full of tyrants to whom the free flow of information is a threat.” (Investors)

“The Commerce Department said Friday it plans to relinquish its oversight of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, which manages a number of technical functions that serve as signposts to help computers locate the correct servers and websites. …

Alan Marcus, senior director of the World Economic Forum, said “the NSA tarnished the U.S. stewardship” of the Web. Mr Marcus said the U.S. needs to relinquish control over the Web before new leadership can emerge. “There are real issues that get clouded” by US. leadership, he said.” (Wall Street Journal)

“The Internet is often described as a miracle of self-regulation, which is almost true. The exception is that the United States government has had ultimate control from the beginning. Washington has used this oversight only to ensure that the Internet runs efficiently and openly, without political pressure from any country.

This was the happy state of affairs until last Friday, when the Obama administration made the surprise announcement it will relinquish its oversight of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or Icann, which assigns and maintains domain names and Web addresses for the Internet. Russia, China and other authoritarian governments have already been working to redesign the Internet more to their liking, and now they will no doubt leap to fill the power vacuum caused by America’s unilateral retreat.” (L. Gordon Crovitz: The Wall Street Journal)

Our president has always been a communitarian, a globalist; he has proclaimed himself a “proud citizen of the world.”The administration was caught flat-footed at an International Telecommunications Union (ITU), a UN agency, conference in 2012 stage-managed by authoritarian governments. Google organized an online campaign with a petition that”a free and open world depends on a free and open web.” A former Obama aide called it “the chosen vehicle for regimes for whom the free and open Internet is seen as an existential threat.”

Regimes in Russia, China, and Iran are notable for denying their citizens access to the Internet, controlling speech, and using propaganda as a force to control their people. The United Nations was a ‘we are the world’ fantasy that quickly became one of the earth’s most corrupt organizations. Consider the IPCC, Oil for Food, and the Blue Helmet reputation for child rape. We are still in massive denial of the obvious, and keep insisting that it is worthy.

Obama’s view of Freedom is truly Orwellian. He wants the Democrats to reclaim the word “freedom” as their own; but what he means by it is deeper dependence on government. So we have to be cautious when he suggests that some action will give us more freedom.

The National Journal cautions that the Obama administration is opening the door to an internet takeover by Russia, China, or other countries that are eager to censor speech and limit the flow of ideas.

Investors again: “In 2008, the Internet trade journal Cnet reported the ITU was quietly drafting technical standards, proposed by the Chinese government, to define methods of tracing the original source of Internet communications and potentially curbing the ability of users to remain anonymous. Regimes in places such as Russia and Iran also want an ITU rule letting them monitor traffic routed through or to their countries, allowing them to eavesdrop or block access. …

Before Russia invaded Georgia in 2008, Moscow launched attacks against its Internet infrastructure with coordinated barrages of millions of requests, known as distributed denial-of-service attacks, which overloaded and effectively shut down Georgian servers.

Today, the largely self-regulating Internet means no one has to ask for permission to launch a site and no government can tell network operators how to do their jobs. The Internet freely crosses international boundaries, making it difficult for governments to censor. To many governments, the Internet is a threat to statist goals.”

Charles CW Cooke at National Review: We might worry about who is reading our e-mails, but we don’t fret about the Internet being restricted at its core. We may be concerned about the lack of free communication in other countries, but we don’t have to sweat about those countries’ governments shutting off our access here. And yet, having grown cocky in its maturity, the U.S. government is now considering inviting those countries’ censors to the table and giving them a vote on how to fix a problem that never was. Why?

From National Journal:”Coming Soon: Free Internet From Space. Outernet wants to use tiny satellites to take the whole world online — even in countries where dictators wish they wouldn’t.” Is this the solution?

We’d probably better re-read Orwell’s 1984 too, to remind ourselves of the potential when free communication and free speech are not allowed.

Unprepared for the Office to Which He Aspired. by The Elephant's Child

The Russian absorption of the Crimea seems to be a done deal. Obama is ordering sanctions, but apparently on the wrong people. One would think that they could at least sanction the bank accounts of people who would mind and do something about it. This is what Russia has been doing since the end of the Cold War— when it sees weakness and vacillation, they slide in.

The big problem is that our lack of understanding of how the world works, speaks loudly to the rest of the world. Putin, former KGB Colonel,  knows what he is doing and has a good idea about what he can get away with. Russia is a mess. Life expectancy is around 55. Their manufactured goods are only for home use, and are not competitive on the world market. What they do have is lots of oil and natural gas, which Europe, due to their romance with wind and solar, and fear of global warming, desperately needs. Europe can thus be blackmailed. They have relied for too long on an American superpower which they can no longer trust.

On September 17, 2009, President Barack Obama officially announced that he would abandon the Eastern European missile shield. The new man in the White House apparently felt that his “mandate” meant that he was free not only to break with the past, but to undo it.  No scruples about reneging on long-term commitments of his country when they interfered with his own plans. So he scrapped the treaties George W.Bush had signed with Poland and the Czech Republic. The latter countries were not exactly pleased.

“Catastrophic for Poland” a spokeswoman at the Polish Ministry of Defense said. Lech Walesa, former president of Poland and founder of Solidarity observed with bitterness: “I can see what kind of policy the Obama administration is pursuing toward this part of Europe. The way we are being approached needs to change.”Aleksander Szczyglo, the minister of defense at the time, told the press: “From the point of view of our interests, every U.S. soldier, every U.S. base on Polish territory, increases our security and binds us to the United States by a closer alliance.”

Continuity in international relations is essential. You just can’t jerk other countries around. The U.S. has historically respected it’s treaties, even those that the Senate did not ratify. We now have an administration unconstrained by preceding commitments. Nations whose good-faith gestures and risks are snubbed may have a very different view. Simply dumping treaty commitments may seem unimportant at the time, but it is the kind of thing that reverberates around the world affecting countries willingness to act in concert with us. Diplomacy by “reset button” damages our relations with everyone.

In a joint statement on December 4, 2009, the president of the United States, Barack Obama and the president of Russia, Dimitry Medvedev, confirmed the assurances of security to Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus given on the heels of these countries consent in 1994 to give up their nuclear weapons. According to the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances, the signatories pledged to “Respect Ukrainian independence and sovereignty within its existing borders” and “Refrain from the threat or use of force against Ukraine.” The Russians ignored the memorandum, but one does not expect much of Russia. Apparently one does not expect much of the United States either.

The Syrian Catastrophe by The Elephant's Child


The Obama administration’s Syria policy has been a blunder of historic proportions. When he might have intervened effectively, he dithered, When he did intervene it was ineffectual. When the situation was manageable, it was neglected. Nevertheless, this is not the responsibility of the U.S. government. It is the responsibility of Bashar Assad and his supporters, al Qaeda and other radical Muslims who have forcibly taken over the opposition to Assad.

This photograph was taken late last month. The scene is Yarmouk, a district of Damascus that is populated mostly by Palestinian “refugees” and has been the scene of heavy fighting. The U.N. is passing out food packages and the starving people are hoping to get something to eat. This is truly an example of a picture being worth more than a thousand words. (Click to enlarge)

(h/t: Powerline)

The Eternal Optimism of the United Nations by The Elephant's Child

The United Nations was the culmination of fuzzy ideas that somehow an organization with the proper administration would let us all get along by talking things over, or something like that. United in our diversity, a bastion of tolerance, no competition, passivity and sufferance. There is always some new idea for unity,  but pretty thoughts don’t overcome basic human nature.

Newly elected members Britain and France will serve on the U.N. Human Rights Council with — Saudi Arabia, one of the worlds most notorious abusers of human rights. No one opposed giving Riyadh the authority to pass judgment on the West’s record of human rights: yet as the delegates were voting, the Saudi religious police were killing and raping Christian migrant workers from Africa and Asia as part of a countrywide crackdown on foreigners.

Reports show that at least 10 Ethiopians have been killed and more than a dozen raped since the Kingdom began its immigrant roundup in early November. Saudi police rounded up Filipino workers, mostly Catholic and threw them in crowded cells where they were “treated like animals.” Police chained their feet together and left them shackled for several days. An estimated 6,700 Filipino workers are being held in Saudi prisons. Saudi Arabia only renounced slavery in 1973, more or less.

Amnesty International found last May that workers were being subjected to slave-like conditions and many had been tortured. A Sri Lankan was found to have had 24 nails and a needle driven into her hands after she complained about her heavy workload.

Non-Muslim migrants with legal permits to work in the Kingdom were denied fundamental rights, including the right to work. This is a hallmark of Saudi religious and racial bigotry. It is hoped, though unlikely, that the Saudi government will decline the invitation to serve on the Human Rights Council, as it recently did its seat on the U.N. Security Council.

But they wonder why we don’t have much respect for the United Nations.

Foreign Policy and Umbrella Men by The Elephant's Child

Once Upon a Time, there was Munich, and Neville Chamberlain waving a piece of paper and proudly proclaiming “Peace in Our Time!” If we don’t learn from history, we’re apt to get in trouble.

40 Maps That Help You Understand the World: by The Elephant's Child


A Visual Representation of World Population Distribution.  (click to enlarge)


U.S Map of the Highest Paid Public Employees by State. (click to enlarge)

Here are the entire 40 maps. They make you think a little differently about the world from the distribution of McDonald’s across the world to which side of the road the world drives on.

Nearly One Billion People Have Escaped Extreme Poverty in 20 Years, Thanks to Free-Market Capitalism by The Elephant's Child

From Economist Mark Perry at AEI, an excerpt from The Economist:

The world’s achievement in the field of poverty reduction is, by almost any measure, impressive. Although many of the original Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) —such as cutting maternal mortality by three-quarters and child mortality by two-thirds—will not be met, the aim of halving global poverty between 1990 and 2015 was achieved five years early.

The MDGs may have helped marginally, by creating a yardstick for measuring progress, and by focusing minds on the evil of poverty. Most of the credit, however, must go to capitalism and free trade, for they enable economies to grow—and it was growth, principally, that has eased destitution.

The world now knows how to reduce poverty. A lot of targeted policies—basic social safety nets and cash-transfer schemes help. So does binning policies like fuel subsidies to Indonesia’s middle class and China’s hukou household-registration system that boost inequality. But the biggest poverty-reduction measure of all is liberalizing markets to let poor people get richer. That means freeing trade between countries (Africa is still cruelly punished by tariffs) and within them (China’s real great leap forward occurred because it allowed private business to grow). Both India and Africa are crowded with monopolies and restrictive practices.

Many Westerners have reacted to recession by seeking to constrain markets and roll globalization back in their own countries, and they want to export these ideas to the developing world, too. It does not need such advice. It is doing quite nicely, largely thanks to the same economic principles that helped the developed world grow rich and could pull the poorest of the poor out of destitution.

The President Will Apologize to the World Because Muslims Stormed our Embassies and Killed Our Ambassador. by The Elephant's Child

Walter Russell Mead, registered Democrat and excellent essayist, Friday:

We should all be very glad that we have a Democratic president right now; otherwise the news would be terrible. We would be seeing a rash of horrible and depressing stories in the newspapers about strategic failure, with unremitting second guessing and belittling of a  president who agonized for months before the surge and then saw his plan fail. We’d be hearing non-stop reports in the media about the incompetent and klutzy leader who torpedoed his own policy by announcing a withdrawal date; the man who tried to please everybody and do everything—and failed at all he tried.

This whole thing is really difficult for Mr. Obama. He had a view of the Middle East that has not, shall we say, turned out well. He believed firmly that his experience of growing up in Indonesia, and his memories of the call to prayer in the morning hours, would be meaningful to Muslims. He believed that the previous administration’s War in Iraq was wrong, largely because anything done by the Bush administration had to be wrong, and if he, as a new president, disavowed everything Bush and apologized for being the American bully that Muslims seemed to think we were; then we would  have a new era of peace and goodwill, and he would be celebrated as a hero and a peacemaker.July 2012

Didn’t work out that way.

In a May, 2011 speech at the State Department, Obama took credit for the Islamists’ rise to power as part of his broader Mideast strategy to free them from the “repression” of despots, while ending their “suspicion” and “mistrust” of America resulting from the War on Terror.

“That’s why, two years ago in Cairo, I began our engagement based upon mutual interests and mutual respect,” Obama announced. IBD listed the steps Obama has taken :

  • 2009 — Obama made a pilgrimage to Cairo to deliver an apologetic speech to Muslims, and managed to infuriate the Mubarak regime by inviting the banned Muslim Brotherhood leaders to attend. Obama snubbed Mubarak, who was not present nor mentioned.
  • 2009 — Obama blamed Mideast hostility toward Israel and the West on “Colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to Muslims” He also promised to withdraw U.S. troops from Muslim lands and push for the creation of a Palestinian state, saying “The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements.  The Brotherhood applauded wildly.
  • 2009 — Obama appoints Rashid Hussain — an Islamist tied to the Brotherhood, as U.S. envoy to the Saudi-based Organization of Islamic Cooperation which works closely with the brotherhood.
  • 2010 — Hussain travels to Egypt to meet with the Grand Mufti of the Brotherhood, followed by Obama who makes another trip to Egypt.
  • 2010 — Sec. of State Clinton lifts visa ban on Egyptian-born grandson of Brotherhood founder Hassan al Banna. Tariq Ramadan, a suspected terrorist on the U.S. watch list, is warmly received in Washington. (Clinton’s closest adviser Huma Abedin has extensive brotherhood ties in the region.)
  • 2011 —White House fails to back Mubarak in a coup organized by the Brotherhood
  • 2011 — Obama sends intelligence Czar James Clapper to testify at Capitol Hill. He tells Congress the Brotherhood is a moderate “largely secular” organization.
  • 2011 — Clinton sends special coordinator for Middle East transitions William Taylor to Cairo to give Brotherhood leaders special training to prepare for the post-Mubarak elections.
  • 2011 — State Department formalizes ties with Egypt’s once-outlawed, terror-tied Brotherhood, allowing diplomats to deal directly with  Brotherhood party officials.
  • April 2012 —The administration quietly releases $1.5 billion in military aid to the new Egyptian regime and vows to get additional billions from the IMF and World Bank. It also taps Overseas Private Investment Corp, a US agency, to underwrite $2 billion in private investment in Egypt and other Arab Spring states. And it  forgave up to $1 billion in Egyptian debt. Aren’t we generous!
  • June 2012 — Clinton granted visa to banned Egyptian terrorist who with Brotherhood officials from Egypt met with Obama’s deputy national security adviser to demand the release of the Egyptian Blind Sheik terrorist sentenced to life in prison for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
  • July 2012 — Obama invites Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi to visit the White House in September. He is expected to demand Obama free the Blind Sheik.
  • September 2012 — Mr. Obama plans to address the United Nations next week to apologize to all the Muslims of the World for our First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech, even unpleasant speech.   He will undoubtedly say that violence is never the answer. Except when it is.

This is potentially the biggest scandal of Obama’s presidency, although he’s garnering quite a few. The Blind Sheik, Omar Abdel Rahman, is a convicted terrorist rivaling Osama bin Laden in importance and reverence among al Qaeda followers. Andrew McCarthy, who prosecuted the Blind Sheik expects the plan is to agree to the terrorist’s release, but not to have it become public — until after the election. So many things are being put off till after the election that one would think that Mr. Obama is trying to put something over on the public.

His craven apologies to Muslims because they riot and storm embassies and kill our Ambassador and each other is beyond shameful. Barack Obama came to office promising to repair relations with the Islamic world. What he could not accomplish with his own presidency, his name, his childhood in Indonesia, he would achieve through “smart diplomacy.” Instead his efforts have been crowned with mistakes, incompetence and failure.

On Being Nice to Muslims, Or Not. by The Elephant's Child

Last December, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) pushed through a U.N. resolution with the enthusiastic cooperation of the Obama administration, which was to condemn the stereotyping, negative profiling and stigmatization of people based on their religion. Team Obama led the way. No member state called for a recorded vote on the text, so it was adopted “by consensus.”

They have been trying to pass this for years, though strongly opposed by Western democracies. The resolution received a smaller number of votes each year.  Critics regard this as a measure to outlaw valid and critical scrutiny of Islamic teachings. Many OIC states have controversial blasphemy laws at home.

This year the text was revised, dropped the “defamation” language, and included a paragraph that reaffirmed “the positive role that the exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the full respect for the freedom to seek, receive and impart information can play in strengthening democracy and combating religious intolerance.”

More bureaucratese about discrimination on the grounds of religion, violations of human rights, concern about incitement to religious hatred and the failure of some states to “combat this burgeoning trend.” Also knock off the religious profiling.

This has had the expected influence in Islamic countries to control storming embassies, crucifying Copts, shooting rockets at Israeli civilians, killing American ambassadors, and that sort of thing.  That is, no influence at all.

The intent, of course, is to make people stop criticizing Muslims. You are not supposed to notice the screaming angry Muslims firing RPGs and climbing the walls of the embassies. And stop claiming that Iran is trying to perfect a nuclear weapon, when it’s only about peaceful nuclear energy.

A Senior Iranian official says U.S. President Barack Obama could face legal action in connection with the production of an anti-Islam movie by an American Jew. “A complaint could be filed with US courts against Obama for his violation of articles 18 and 27 of the ICCPR, adopted by the United Nations, which stipulates that the religion and the rights of minorities should be respected, said Javed Mohammadi, the deputy head of the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution.

I think this falls under the category of “Hoist with his own petard”, or maybe not, I’m not too sure about my understanding of petards. Maybe it’s just tit for tat.


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