American Elephants


What If You Have A Party and Nobody Comes? by The Elephant's Child

World leaders are expected to meet as at the United Nations Climate Summit on September 21 to announce plans for reducing carbon emissions. Unfortunately, world leaders are staying home. It’s turning into a bit of an embarrassment for President Obama and UN Secretary General Bank Ki-Moon.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott can’t make it because he has a country to run. Chinese President XI Jinping and new Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have also indicated they won’t attend. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper will not be attending. And even Angela Merkel, President of very, very green Germany just can’t make it.

Well, some people do pay attention to the news. The Antarctic ice is at the greatest extent ever measured. Arctic ice is expansive and growing. There has been no warming at all, none, for seventeen years and eleven months. We’ve had snow in September in the northern Midwest and New England. The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere continues to grow—which supposedly means that world climate is getting warmer—but the climate is not getting warmer, but cooler.  So possibly the increase in the benign gas that we exhale each time we breathe, the one that is a natural fertilizer for plants, is not the cause of the 1º of warming that occurred over the last hundred years? Well, yes. Exactly.

The sun, which does have a lot to do with climate, has gone quiet, and all the vast dollars and crony capitalism that have gone into finding an alternative source of energy in solar and wind energy has been for naught? Yep.

“There is essentially zero evidence that carbon dioxide from human activities is causing catastrophic climate change:” Australian geologist Dr. Bob Carter.

Climatologist Dr. Judith Curry warns of decades of possible global cooling: Suggests the “current cool phase will continue until the 2030s.”

Leonardo DiCaprio: “How we respond to the climate crisis in the coming years will likely determine the fate of humanity and our planet.”

Nancy  Pelosi: “Republicans winning the Senate would be the end of civilization.”

Activist green groups are drumming up a way to use the federal courts to force Americans to drastically reduce their energy consumption whether or not Obama signs a new climate change treaty in Paris next year.

The EPA plans to propose and finalize regulations establishing first-ever carbon dioxide (CO²) regulations for jet aircraft.

The Obama administration is reading the Clean Air Act to require a climate policy never intended or approved by Congress, and intends to negotiate an international agreement that would not survive a Senate vote on ratification.

Green organizations are planning a big climate march in conjunction with the UN Climate meeting. They are concerned about “climate justice” which seems to have nothing to do with climate (which they can’t affect anyway) and everything to do  with ‘justice” which seems to be about putting the people in charge, destroying large corporations, and redistributing income. They are particularly interested in the particular large corporations who extract energy from Mother Earth and use it to power civilization, but that is secondary to “justice.”

Emails obtained through Freedom of Information Act show that Obama’s EPA is in collusion with “green” lobby groups — the report details the conflicts of interest, “unalterably closed minds,” internal activism and influence of outside interest groups on the Obama Administration EPA. Documents raise questions about the legality of EPA rules.

The EPA also wants to garnish your wages if they accuse you of something, without any court order. How do they get that power? They just announce that they have it. That is apparently the way that some 30 government agencies have granted themselves the power to garnish your wages.  There are more problems with big government that we ever knew.



Thirteen Year-Old Truant Forced Out of D.C. Public Schools by The Elephant's Child

Avery Gagliano has been playing the piano since she was five years old. She was a straight A student at Alice Deal Middle School, and the Jack Kent Cook Honors Scholarship recipient at the Levin School of Music. She was chosen to join 11 other musicians from around the world to play in Munich last year at the Lang Lang Foundation Junior Camp.

Avery’s parents tried to persuade the school system to excuse her travels, when she was chosen by the Foundation to tour the world as an international music ambassador. Her parents created a portfolio of her musical achievements and academic record, and drafted an independent study plan for the days she would miss while touring the world.

In March, Avery traveled to Connecticut for a piano competition. She won the Grand Prix award for her performance of a Chopin Waltz and when she returned to school —a truancy officer was called. D.C. bureaucrats label any student with 10 “unexcused absences” as a truant. The truancy law gives school officials the option of deciding what an unexcused absence is. Not for a very young piano prodigy.  Rules are rules and all that. The truancy office and the school wouldn’t budge. Here she is in Munich last year.

Avery has been forced to spend her eighth grade year as a homeschooler, and the Gaglianos are not happy.

“We decided to home-school her because of all the issues, because it was like a punch in the gut to have to face the fight again this year,” Gagliano told the Post. “We didn’t want to do this. We want to be part of the public school system. Avery has been in public school since kindergarten. She’s a great success story for the schools.”

Avery’s accolades include studying in the Inaugural Lang Lang Junior Music Camp in Munich, Germany, as well as under Dr. Veda Kaplinsky at the Aspen Music Festival. She was also featured in a NPR broadcast program “From The Top” and a two-hour PBS documentary titled “Arts and the Mind” that was broadcast nationwide. All the awards would not convince the D.C. public schools to recognize or reward Avery’s talent. But a little publicity did.

After a column about Avery was published in The Washington Post, Chancellor Kaya Henderson issued a statement saying the column was wrong and they would like to have Avery back at Alice Deal Middle School. They claimed they had excused Avery’s absences for international travel. But during summer vacation the family received another letter telling them their daughter was truant, and enclosed a helpful brochure on the possible police and Child and Family Services intervention for students who are truant.

We have all been reading and clucking over the idiocy coming out of our public school systems. It hardly seems a week goes by without another case being reported. What is clear is that school administrators need some remedial training in plain old common sense. It seems to be missing. Political correctness and mindless adherence to regulations  is the order of the day—from children who are suspended for chewing a pop tart into a gun shape (or the state of Idaho) to punishing prodigies for their excellence. It goes on and on.

Let’s hear it for home schooling and charter schools. If the public schools cannot do a decent job of educating the next generation—fire them.



It’s Simple. Democrats Do Not Know How to Do Growth. by The Elephant's Child

“A prominent Democratic polling firm has found that voters don’t view reducing income inequality as a top priority. Instead, they want economic growth.”
(emphasis added) WSJ columnist William Galston has the story:

Surveys of 3,000 Americans conducted between January and March of 2014 by the Global Strategy Group found that fully 78% thought that it was important for Congress to promote an agenda of economic growth that would benefit all Americans. Support for policies that help the middle class and bolster equal opportunity for everyone were also highly rated. Strategies to spread wealth more evenly and reduce income inequality received the least support. 53% believe that fostering economic growth is ‘extremely important,’ compared with only 30% who take that view about narrowing income inequality.” (emphasis added)

Well, well, well, well. But I thought that reducing income inequality was the bright shining goal of all Democrats. This is a leftist polling group! The results didn’t receive much attention when they were released in April, nor since. James Freeman suggests that  “the findings would have rudely interrupted the months-long media celebration of Thomas Piketty and his error-filled and widely unread book on income inequality. And the survey data suggest that the core message of President Obama and his political outfit Organizing for Action is off target. From increasing the minimum wage to forgiving federal student loans to mandating more pay for women, the Obama economic message is all about redistributing wealth, not creating it.”

Specifically, Mr. Galston notes that by “a remarkable margin of 64 percentage points (80% to 16%)” voters “opt for a candidate who focuses on more economic growth to one who emphasizes less income inequality.”

Trouble is, there is a deep secret on the Left. Democrats do not know how to create growth. The basic idea behind this version of the Democratic Party is that all good things are done by government, and only by government.  All the stuff that Obama has done to benefit his cronies — the wind farms, the solar arrays, the rejection of the Keystone pipeline extension, the rejection of private enterprise are meant to create growth, but to reward Obama’s bundlers and supporters first. Cast your mind back across the Obama administration’s efforts at progress. Any rapid economic growth there? Anywhere?

Have you not noticed that whenever the subject comes up, Obama starts talking about roads and bridges or infrastructure—apparently with no recognition of the fact that such governmental projects require layers and layers of permissions and plans and approvals and fundraising that would put any such project off for at least five years, probably more with the usual environmental lawsuits. Any jobs involved go only to union workers, but that is by design. Jobs for ordinary people seem not to be involved. Who listens to the people anyhow?

War on Women. ObamaCare. Minimum Wage. Renewable Energy. Building from the Middle Class Out. More Government Job Training. Economic Patriotism.

Their new focus on “economic patriotism” is exactly the problem. They cannot conceive of allowing American companies to escape any taxes by moving, and the only solution is to devise laws to prevent their doing so. I rest my case.



What Was Missing In Obama’s Foreign Policy by The Elephant's Child

From Defense analyst Nadia Schadlow writing at warontherocks.com — via the WSJ’s Notable & Quotable column Sept. 7, 2014:

President Obama’s commitment to reducing America’s reliance on the military instrument of power is well-known. It has been a constant theme of his presidency—from his first presidential campaign through his major speech on foreign policy at West Point earlier this year. It is therefore paradoxical that the administration’s foreign policy outlook and operational style have made use of the military instrument almost unavoidable. By failing to understand that the space between war and peace is not an empty one—but a landscape churning with political, economic, and security competitions that require constant attention—American foreign policy risks being reduced to a reactive and tactical emphasis on the military instrument by default. . . .

The tactical mindset that dominates national security decision-making prioritizes military means over political ends and confuses activity (such as the bombing of enemy positions) with progress. Because the use of military force is not connected to operational plans for subsequent political consolidation, the United States vacates the space between war and peace. And because they cannot match American military power directly, it is in this space—battlegrounds of perception, coercion, mass atrocity—that America’s enemies and adversaries prefer to operate.

“the space between war and peace is not an empty one—but a landscape churning with political, economic, and security competitions that require constant attention.” I love it when someone calls to our attention something seemingly obvious to which we pay little attention, and changes the pattern of our thought.

Excellent website. Add warontherocks to your  choice website list!



Democrat Attempt to End Freedom of Speech Failed. by The Elephant's Child

The Democrats attempt to rewrite the Constitution and amend the First Amendment to curtail the rights of Americans to free political speech has died in the Senate. It needed 60 votes to advance. Free political speech is the very essence of liberty, and the envy of the world.

Fifty-four Senate Democrats actually voted to give Congress the power to “regulate and set reasonable limits on the raising and spending of money by candidates and others to influence elections.” Think through what that would mean.

Some, such as Senator Bernie Sanders (S-VT) said the amendment would allow Democrats to enact more of their preferred legislation. Exactly. Democrats want to be completely in charge, without any interference from those pesky Republicans. They just want Republicans gone — so they can rule.

This bunch rejects 223 years of liberty and political freedom guaranteed by the Bill of Rights since it was ratified in 1791 — because they want their own way. No arguments. No questioning our policies. No criticism. No unpleasant speech. Can they win elections without cheating?

Somebody remarked that there used to be a “Sandinista wing” of the Democrat Party. Not anymore, it’s entirely Sandinista now.



Democrats Are Trying to Repeal the First Amendment! by The Elephant's Child

Democrats don’t like the give and take of normal political disagreement. They don’t want to argue and discuss and give a little to get what they want. They want to win, to be in charge completely, and to bring an end to the Republican party entirely, and just have us go away. No dissension, no arguments. Just begone.

And they especially want to repeal the First Amendment by allowing Congress to prohibit or restrict participation in political campaigns. Democrats like to claim that this is simply reversing the effect of the Citizens United and McCutcheon cases. but the bill sponsored by Senator Tom Udall goes much further than that. This is a remarkably bad bill, favored by Harry Reid and most Senate Democrats.

Congress shall have power to regulate the raising and spending of money and in-kind equivalents with respect to Federal elections, including through setting limits on—

(1) the amount of contributions to candidates for nomination for election to, or for election to, Federal office; and

(2) the amount of funds that may be spent by, in support of, or in opposition to such candidates. …

Nothing in this article shall be construed to grant Congress the power to abridge the freedom of the press.

The states would be given similar powers to restrict participation in state elections.

Congress could thus set extremely low contribution and spending levels which would guarantee the re-election of incumbents. Could they set a high level for incumbents and a low level for challengers? Why not? Even the ACLU has come out in opposition. They pointed out some of the implications:

Congress could be allowed to restrict the publication of Secretary Hillary Clinton’s memoir “Hard Choices” were she to run for office.

Congress could criminalize a blog on the Huffington Post by the president of the League of Conservation Voters accusing Senator Marco Rubio of being a “climate change denier.”

A district attorney running for reelection could selectively prosecute political opponents using state campaign finance restrictions.

A state election agency, run by a corrupt patronage appointee, could use state law to limit speech by anti-corruption groups supporting reform.

In the absence of any real convictions, Democrats claim their real goal is “social justice.” but of course there is no such thing. There is just one kind of justice which is embodied in our laws and our courts. It has grown out of English Common Law, which in turn has grown out of decisions by judges and courts over the centuries.

Their real goal is winning. Being in charge. When they win elections, they can prosper from being part of the government and making laws the way they want to and directing the country — like offering everyone free health care, for example. That worked out well.

This is the general atmosphere in which Democrats are trying to gut the First Amendment to the Constitution. They just can’t handle all that freedom of political speech — especially when it comes from Republicans.



U.S. Has Dropped to 17th in Economic Freedom! by The Elephant's Child

Flag_of_the_United_States_Picture

The Fraser Institute, a British Columbia think tank in Vancouver, studies economic freedom in the world, and regularly ranks countries in order of the economic freedom they grant. Between 1980 and 2000, the United States has ranked third behind the two city states of Hong Kong and Singapore.

In the latest survey, the United States has fallen to 17th out of the 152 countries the Fraser Institute has surveyed. Seventeenth! The survey’s authors suggest the legal system of the U.S., protection of property rights, freedom of international trade and increasing regulations are stifling economic freedom in the United States.  Worse, the US has tied Venezuela (which comes in dead last —152nd — for the largest reduction in economic freedom ratings.

The Fraser Institute study said “Unless policies undermining economic freedom are reversed, the future annual growth of the US economy will be half its historic average of 3%.”

The Top Ten Economically Free Countries Are:

  1. Hong Kong
  2. Singapore
  3. New Zealand
  4. Switzerland
  5. United Arab Emirates
  6. Mauritius
  7. Finland
  8. Bahrain
  9. Canada
  10. Australia

Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain have tumbled down the rankings over the past thirty years. Switzerland fell to 4th from 2nd, but the U.S. decline from 3rd to 17th was one of the largest — except for Greece which fell from 33rd to 78th, Italy fell from 49th to 70th, and Luxembourg fell from 6th to 25th.

Denmark, Finland, Iceland, New Zealand, Poland, Sweden and the United Kingdom (from 17th up to 9th), have all markedly improved.

The Bottom Ten

  1. Algeria
  2. Democratic Republic of the Congo
  3. Burundi
  4. Central African Republic
  5. Angola
  6. Chad
  7. Zimbabwe
  8. Republic of Congo
  9. Myanmar
  10. Venezuela

Countries formerly colonized by the United Kingdom have done better than countries colonized by other European colonial powers, which the authors attributed to the English common law system left behind by colonial administrators.

The English common law system provides for greater stability and protection under the law than French civil law. Under English common law legal changes occur as a result of precedents derived from judicial decisions rendered by judges. This leads to more gradual changes and greater constraint on the ability of political decision-makers to alter the law. No such check is present under civil law. Former English colonies had a higher mean per-capita income of $4,415 compared to others $3,725.

The object of the Left is always more control of the economy. And they just controlled us into the biggest drop, a tie with Venezuela, in the entire study. President Obama frequently remarks that excessive regulation has nothing to do with business. Nothing to see here, just move along. Of course over-regulation puts a damper on business, and on entrepreneurship. Who wants to start a new business when they don’t know what might be regulated next? There is a reason why so many businesses are sitting on hoards of cash. Business keeps telling the administration, and the administration keeps ignoring the problem. That’s what they are talking about when they speak of “the business climate.” High taxes and over-regulation adds up to a bad business climate.




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