American Elephants


Here’s What They Have In Mind For You And Me by The Elephant's Child

Do you often wonder what the Left is going on about? Angelo Codevilla describes them in his book The Ruling Class. He introduces the Ruling Class, the group of  bipartisan political elites who run America. The Ruling Class, educated at prestigious universities, convinced of its own superiority, benefits by raising  taxes and expanding the reach of government. This class maintains that it knows what is best for regular Americans and continues to increase its power over every facet of American life, from family and marriage to the environment, guns and God. I speak of the Left, but Codevilla is speaking of the bipartisan bunch who together run the show, and of course what we are now calling “the deep state.”

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“[P]icking economic winners and losers redirects the American people’s energies to tasks that the political class deems more worthy than what Americans choose for themselves. John Kenneth Galbraith’s characterization of America’s economy as “private wealth amidst public squalor” (The Affluent Society, 1958) encapsulates the complaint of our best and brightest: left to themselves, Americans use land inefficiently in suburbs and exurbs, making it necessary to use energy to transport them to jobs and shopping. Americans drive big cars, eat lots of meat and other unhealthy things, and go to the doctor whenever they feel like it. Americans think it is just to spend the money they earn to satisfy their private desires, even though the Ruling Class knows that Americans must learn to live more densely and closer to work, that they must drive smaller cars, if they drive at all, that they must change their lives to use less energy, that their dietary habits must improve, that they must accept limits on how uch medical care they get, that they must divert ore of their money to support those people, cultural enterprises, and plans for the planet that the Ruling Class deems worthy. So ever-greater taxes and intrusive regulations are the main wrenches by which the American people can be improved (and yes, by which the Ruling Class exercises its privileges and grows.) “

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Here’s Some of the Excitement of “Earth Day” by The Elephant's Child

Yesterday was “Earth Day” which I take no notice of.  Penn State University, however marked the day by announcing that they would refuse to allow a near-century old recreation club— The Penn State Outing Club founded in 1920—to organize the outdoor, student-led trips of camping and hiking . It seems they judge the activities to be too risky. Two other outdoor recreation clubs — the Nittany Grotto Caving Club and the Nittany Divers SCUBA Club have been directed to end trip offerings.

Mark J. Perry Ph.D. a professor of economics at the University of Michigan Flint, writing for the American Enterprise Institute, posted a spectacular list of 18 examples of the spectacularly wrong predictions made around the first “Earth Day” in 1970.

1. Harvard biologist George Wald estimated that “civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.”

2. “We are in an environmental crisis which threatens the survival of this nation, and of the world as a suitable place of human habitation,” wrote Washington University biologist Barry Commoner in the Earth Day issue of the scholarly journal Environment.

3. The day after the first Earth Day, the New York Times editorial page warned, “Man must stop pollution and conserve his resources, not merely to enhance existence but to save the race from intolerable deterioration and possible extinction.”

4. “Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make,” Paul Ehrlich confidently declared in the April 1970 issue of Mademoiselle. “The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.”

Here are the other fourteen: The true believers heard this news, swallowed it
whole, and attributed any suggestion that they were not true to the “deniers.”

A good many of the most hysterical anti-Trump crowd are in despair or fright because he withdrew from the Paris Climate Accords, which would have accomplished nothing, nothing at all for the climate. An amount too  small to be measured, the scientists said.



The Most Vapid Conversation Ever? by The Elephant's Child

This conversation took place about a year ago on Bernie Sanders’ show, featuring Bill Nye, “the science guy” who apparently doesn’t know any. This is perhaps the most vapid, inane, totally empty of thought or meaning conversation I have ever heard.

Science consists of hypotheses that can be tested and the results can be retested by others and come up with the same results. Bill Nye keeps referring to those who do not agree with him as “deniers,”which is just a slur since no one denies that the climate changes. The climate has been changing for millions of years. The climate science that alarmists extol comes out of computer programs, not the real world. And there is no 97% consensus among climate scientists. That has been thoroughly debunked.

James Hansen, former director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, who Nye cites, wrote a paper in 2008 that claimed his climate models showed that exceeding 350 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere would have catastrophic effects. We have long since blown past that point, and the result has been the greening of the Earth. CO2 is a natural fertilizer for plants, and the plant growth is feeding a hungry world.  Plant nurseries keep their greenhouses at somewhere around 1,000 ppm, and the nurserymen are still healthy. Real world evidence clearly shows Hansen’s theory was wrong.

Bernie Sanders serves on Senate committees on the environment and climate. Bill Nye spoke of the rising sea level, and how it would force the people of New Orleans to abandon their homes, and they would leave behind great coils of wire and pipes. These two gentlemen clearly have no idea what they are talking about, but they care deeply about global warming. A situation that seems to be common on the Left.  This level of sheer ignorance should be disturbing.



New York City 1911 by The Elephant's Child

1911. An immaculately preserved film of New York City. (The speed has been corrected and sound added for ambiance.) The film was taken by the Swedish company Svenska Biografteatern on a trip to America.

What happened in 1911? Roald Amundsen reached the South Pole. Marie Curie won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. Charles F. Kettering (US) developed the first practical electrical self-starter for automobiles. Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre (found in 1913 in Italy).  Irving Berlin published “Alexander’s Ragtime Band.” Winston S. Churchill was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty.



Venezuelan Oil Can No Longer Support a Communist Government by The Elephant's Child

Some of you might remember when Venezuela was a beautiful and prosperous nation. But Americans mostly don’t pay that much attention to South America, I suppose because of the language barrier, which is why we pay more attention to our English-speaking allies, and Europe.

The proven oil reserves in Venezuela are recognized as the largest in the world, totaling 297 billion barrels, as of January 1, 2014. In early 2011 the Venezuelan government under Hugo Chavez announced that the nation’s oil reserves had surpassed those of Saudi Arabia, the long-term leader. OPEC said the Saudi reserves stood at 265 billion in 2009.

Wikipedia says “Venezuela’s development of its oil reserves has been affected by political unrest in recent years. In late 2002, nearly half the workers at the state oil company PDVSA went on strike, after which the company fired 18,000 of them.” I think it has been pretty well proven that “state owned” is not a particularly good idea, nor is business trying to play politics.

Reuters reported that state-owned PDVSA is completely falling apart, with workers walking off the job at a frightening pace. The conditions for oil workers have been deteriorating for years with shortages of food, unsafe working conditions, and hyperinflation destroying the value of paychecks. President Nicolas Maduro has sacked the head of PDVSA and handed control to the military in order to keep the armed forces on his side. Major General Manuel Quevado has only accelerated the decline. Apparently every Venezuelan military officer has a Cuban minder.

Venezuelan oil is a very heavy crude, which needs more in the way of refining than light crude, but Venezuelan refineries are breaking down from neglect and lack of investment.

Reuters reports that about 25,000 workers have quit PDVSA between January 2017 and January 2018, a staggering sum. PDVSA employs roughly 146,000 people. Thousands of workers are walking off of job sites, fed up with going to work hungry, putting their lives at risk at rickety refineries, all for a paycheck that fails to cover even the most basic expenses.

Fires have broken out, and the loss of both top-level engineers and managers as well as experienced workers means the losses will only get worse. Refineries are falling apart, and ports are reducing operations because of a lack of workers.

PDVSA accounts for about half the nation’s oil production — the rest are joint ventures. Last Tuesday, Chevron said that two of its workers were arrested. Chevron has not fled the country as many of its peers have, but the arrests may change matters. This is the first direct hit on an international company operating in Venezuela. At some point the costs of operating will become too high. The amount of oil available on the market will decline, the price of oil will increase. Maduro’s grip on the nation will become even more shaky. There’s not that much more available for him to squeeze.



Raul Castro Has Resigned From the Presidency of Cuba by The Elephant's Child

The General Assembly has voted in a new president, the hand-picked former Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel. The Constitution of Cuba is modeled after the Soviet Union’s and similar to modern-day China’s meaning the legislature has full control over who becomes president and who joins his cabinet. The former vice president has a reputation for following orders very successfully.

Many of our news outlets assumed that this was a big deal, but it is not. Raul Castro remains to run the Communist Party, which runs everything else.

Chapter I, Article 5 of the Cuban constitution makes the Communist Party “the superior directing body of society and the State, which organizes and orients the common efforts towards the end of the construction of socialism and advancement of communist society.” This makes the head of the Communist Party—Castro—the “superior” director of the State, above his future successor.

Who remains as commander in chief of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR) of Cuba is not entirely clear from the constitution, as Fidel and Raúl Castro have typically been both president and comandante.

The head of government’s powers are fairly limited:

  • Represent the State and Government and manage general policy
  • Organizing and lead activities by the Council of Ministers
  • Control and attend to the development of activities at the ministries

Last year, Mary Anastasia O’Grady wrote in the Wall Street Journal about a brief uprising of a” Venezuelan National Guard Captain and some 20 others who had gotten some 120 rifles, ammunition and grenades from an armory at Fort Paramacay in Valencia. There were unconfirmed reports of similar raids at other military installations. ”

“The Cuba-controlled military regime put tanks in the streets and unleashed a hunt for the fleeing soldiers.” She added that “Cuba had embedded about 50 high-ranking Cuban military officers, 4,500 Cuban soldiers in nine battalions, and 34,000 doctors and health professionals in Venezuela,  with orders to defend the tyranny with arms. Cuba provides Maduro’s personal security and thousands of other Cubans hold key positions of the State, Government, military and intelligence and counterintelligence services.” What their part is in the starvation in Cuba is unknown.

Burning Cuban flags, when they can be had, is now practically a national pastime in Venezuela because Venezuelans understand the link between their suffering and Havana. The Castro infiltration began over a decade ago when Fidel sent thousands of Cuban agents, designated as teachers and medical personnel, to spread propaganda and establish communist cells in the barrios.

In an August column, O’Grady pointed out that Cuba is not “simply a dictatorship.” For the regime it is a “historical political project” aiming for the establishment of a Cuban-type regime throughout Latin America. The Cubans have taken Nicaragua, Bolivia, Ecuador and are now going after Columbia. Castro is dependent on Venezuelan oil and the money from the narcotics business. Fidel died at 90, and Raul is getting up there. There are a number of younger Castros in government, but future succession is unknown.

Now Venezuela cannot afford to export oil, and is having to import oil itself. The people are starving, and trying to get out of the country. Lefties are always sure that those other people just didn’t do it right, but Communism has a way of always ending up very, very badly.

ADDENDUM: According to Humberto Fontova, writing at Front Page Magazine, “Much of the vital day-to-day functions of the Stalinist regime will remain in the hands of Raul Castro’s son Alejandro Castro-Espin, a KGB-trained colonel in Cuba’s secret police and a fanatical Stalinist. Alejandro denounces the U.S. as “an Empire of Terror” and shrieks that “Cuba will never return to capitalism.” He was the one secretly in charge of “negotiations with” (demands upon) the Obama administration in 2014. Nothing was more vital to the Castro-Family-Crime Syndicate than securing and growing that multi-billion-dollar lifeline from the U.S.  So naturally fanatical Stalinist and secret policeman Alejandro was put in charge of securing and protecting this flow through the Stalinist regime’s jugular.” Fontova adds:

“The annual cash flow from the U.S. to Cuba for almost the past decade (mostly in remittances and travel expenses after Obama opened the spigot) exceeds what the Soviets used to send Cuba at the height of their sponsorship back in the 1970’s and 1980’s. In brief, thanks to Obama, the U.S. became Cuba’s new Sugar Daddy—and just in the nick of time. President Trump has closed this economic lifeline only slightly. We’ll see what happens now with the clear-eyed on Castroism Pompeo and Bolton in charge.”



Meet Tammie Jo Shults, Southwest Airlines Heroine by The Elephant's Child

You may have heard the tragic news of the death of a passenger on Southwest Airlines when an engine caught fire and disintegrated at more than 30,000 feet spraying shrapnel through the fuselage. Metal pieces ruptured a window behind a wing, fatally injuring a passenger in the first airline fatality since 2009, and the first fatality in the history of Southwest Airlines.

Southwest pilot Tammie Jo Schults executed an emergency landing in Philadelphia after the Dallas-bound flight departed from New York’s LaGuardia Airport. In the Wall Street Journal article, an experienced amateur pilot was deeply impressed with her inspiring calm control. He added:

Listen to the cockpit recording of the incident. She is so calm it is amazing. She says that a passenger may have been sucked out of the plane and that they are missing part of the aircraft like she is talking about the time of day. Yes, they train for emergencies and yes, they are expected to land on one engine. But her calm and composure is inspiring. When they tell her to switch from approach to tower frequency she even says, “Good day.”

Someone copied the plane to tower control conversation and posted it on You Tube.

An incredible demonstration of real air traffic control, and how the most professional pilots deal with an emergency. Here’s a real hero for all those whiny women complaining about work and not being paid enough.

Among the offerings at the end of this video is a conversation with a passenger on the plane phones in his story to the local news channel. It is also a rewarding conversation.

At American Thinker, Thomas Lifson extols the management at Southwest Airlines, and points out that in the wake of a tragic accident, there is usually hysteria in the media, resulting in a drop in the company’s stock value, but in this case the airline stock went up in the wake of a disaster.

After she graduated from college, Shults applied to the Air Force, but they wouldn’t allow her to take the test to become a pilot, so she turned to the Navy.

Shults became one of the first female fighter pilots in the history of the U.S. Navy and one of the first women to fly F-18s. She landed her fighter plane on boats at 150 miles per hour and eventually became an instructor. Although she wasn’t allowed to fly in combat, she did fly as an aggressor pilot. After a successful career, she resigned her commission in 1993.

Shults and her husband Dean, are both now captains with Southwest Airlines. Passengers last Tuesday were able to see a calm professional at the moment they most needed one.

ADDENDUM: Southwest Airlines has sent each of the 144 passengers on their deadly flight a $5,000 check with their heartfelt apologies to cover any of their immediate financial needs, after the flight suffered an engine failure and had to make an emergency landing in Philadelphia, on it’s way to Dallas. The letter also says the passengers would separately receive a $1,000 flight voucher for  future travel.

While the National Transportation Safety Board investigates the catastrophic engine failure, the airline’s “primary focus and commitment is to assist you in every way possible,” said the letter, signed by Southwest president Gary C. Kelly.

“We value you as our Customer and hope you will allow us another opportunity to restore your confidence in Southwest as the airline you can count on for your travel needs. In this spirit, we are sending you a check in the amount of $5,000 to cover any of your immediate financial needs. As a tangible gesture of our heartfelt sincerity, we are also sending you a $1,000 travel voucher (in a separate e-mail), which can be used for future travel.”

Tom Lifson said that Southwest had very good management.




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