American Elephants

Did you say “wrong track”? by The Elephant's Child
May 15, 2008, 8:42 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

They were back again yesterday with the “America is on the wrong track” thing. Another new poll, I guess. Part of what puts us on the wrong track is the constant proliferation of polls. What does it mean that America is on the wrong track? Says who? And just what do they mean by saying so?

Nobody called me, but I would agree. The artificial price of gasoline is troubling, raised to precarious levels by speculators and a Democrat controlled Congress unwilling to annoy their environmental-activist supporters. The simple and correct response of drilling for more of the oil that we know is there cannot be approved because…?

We cannot build new nuclear plants because wind and solar seem so much more…um…natural and nice. The fact that without vast subsidies (higher taxes) they are not cost effective, is to be ignored. Besides there was Chernobyl and Three Mile Island and where will they put the waste. Did you ever look into any of these supposed problems? Chernobyl was a faulty design, Three Mile Island didn’t hurt anyone, and Yucca Mountain is the safest repository for nuclear waste that can be devised, but I guess you’d rather the nuclear waste sat all over the country in warehouses, perhaps in your neighborhood.

The leaders of an opposition party, which shall remain nameless, have made an unprecedented attack on a war which they authorized and on the Commander-in Chief of that war while American troops were in the field fighting that war. They supported the war until the march-up to Baghdad proved triumphantly successful. When it looked as if President Bush might become a national hero, they turned viciously against the war. Unthinkable to have a popular president. All else has flowed from that moment.

Not quite what others have in mind as “wrong track”. Michael Medved asked those of his listeners last week who really thought President Bush was “the worst president in history” to tell him why. The only constant was the price of gas, over which the President has no control whatsoever. Other reasons cited included the Bilderburgers and Rothschilds, the 9/11 conspiracy, the war for oil conspiracy, the Katrina conspiracy and President Bush’s grandfather. sheesh!

Charles Schumer is out in front of the microphones almost daily trying to portray this as the worst economy since the Great Depression. Unfortunately, the economy is playing him for a fool. Inflation is at 3 percent, down from 4.1% for 2007. Unemployment has dropped to 5.0%. Statistics like these are used to describe a good economy. Some economists are saying that the recession is over. That remains to be seen, but it really, really isn’t the 1930s.

So my idea of “the wrong track” might not be the same as the moonbats, but it is a slightly more sensible reason for thinking something is wrong.

Before you start panicking, do a little research. See if the propaganda the Democrats are handing out has any relation to reality. And relax and take pride in the fabulous country in which you live.

The bare facts about the bear business… by The Elephant's Child

Polar Bear

Are you confused by the whole global warming thing? Do your eyes glaze over and do you quickly turn the page at the very mention? You are not alone.

The Interior Department ruled today that the polar bear will be protected as a threatened species”. The polar bear population across the Arctic has doubled from an estimated 12,000 to 25,000 since 1960. But some scientists believe that sea ice, necessary to the bears, may diminish in future years because of global warming. This is an enormous threat to the American economy.

But there has been no global warming for the past 10 years, and there has been actual cooling for the last 5 years. What’s up with that?

“Threatened” is a term with specific meaning. It means their numbers are declining and the species is likely to become “endangered”. But if the numbers of bears are increasing, then why… Because the predictions of computer climate models said that in future years the sea ice may diminish. But…

But the predictive ability of the climate models is increasingly in question. Meteorologists will tell you that they can predict the weather with some degree of accuracy about 5 to 7 days out. Many scientists say that the climate models have no predictive ability whatsoever.

Well then, how effective is the Endangered Species Act? It’s very hard to tell. In some cases, an order to stop shooting the animal in question meant that the species increased. Many have been de-listed because it turned out that they weren’t threatened or endangered in the first place. Counting species accurately is exceedingly tricky. Do they only live here, or could they live just as well there? Is this a lone population or are there 20 more just over the next ridge? Faulty data is frequent.

The Endangered Species Act is, for many environmentalists, not a law to protect plant and animal species, but a back door means of preventing economic development of some chosen area. It is for others a mythical attachment to the idea of “a balance of nature”, which does not exist, for in nature there is only constant change.

The drive to list the polar bear as endangered is more about drilling for oil in the Arctic than it is about the bears. And the propaganda has been intense. We watched “The Golden Compass” recently, a movie made about a children’s book, a fantasy that includes ice-bears — essentially talking polar bears. To watch the movie, we had to endure a commercial from the WWF featuring a little girl pleading for other children to enlist their parents in the campaign to save the polar bear. Unbelievably crass.

So, it is back to the courts, for both sides have said they will sue.

This is a dreadfully dishonest way to deal with national conundrums. No matter how much the naive urban people dream of a world energized by the power of the sun and the wind and hydroelectric power, it’s not going to happen. At least not in the foreseeable future. And if you don’t like the price of gas, write to the Congressional Democrats — they have a lot to answer for.

In the meantime, no wonder your eyes glaze over…

Here’s to the Happy Couple! by American Elephant

Henry Hager and Jenna Bush exchange vows at the Bush Ranch in Crawford Texas

The wedding photos are here. Looks like it was a beautiful ceremony. Also looks like Henry was keeping his knees bent to keep from fainting. Smart move!

Why Science and Hollywood Don’t Mix by The Elephant's Child

All too often, issues that ought to be scientific debates slop out of their petri dishes and get involved with fashion and enthusiasm. Such has been the case with the stem cell debate. Adult stem cells have been the subject of scientific experiment since the late 1960s.

The stem cell debate began in the 1990s, and as is usual, became a matter of fashion as a succession of celebrities became involved. It reached fever pitch when President Bush limited the study of embryonic stem cells to existing lines. On one side of the battle were the proponents of embryonic stem cells who believed that only cells derived from embryos could become pluripotent and become any other kind of cell. On the other side were those who believed that it was deeply unethical to experiment with human embryos.

Well. Religion and government. Fundamentalists. Abortion enthusiasts. Outrage on both sides. Embryonic stem cells had some real problems. Cells from another individual, even an embryo, involved problems of rejection. And the nature of stem cells, which is to divide and multiply, often divided and multiplied into cancerous growths. Adult stem cells had a long head start, and had been successfully curing laboratory mice and showing great possibilities in human disease.

But Bush was some kind of religious nut, so obviously he was banning the real hope for people, especially celebrities who yearned to walk again or be cured of their disease.

Last November, two teams of scientists announced that they had successfully re-programmed adult cells to function as pluripotent cells. This presented the possibility of a win-win solution — scientists could work with the cells deemed most promising without the ethical conflict. Researchers are excited about the work and it is moving forward quickly. Induced pluripotent stem cells will be not only easier to use, but they would share both nuclear and mitochondrial DNA with the original patient.

Politicians and enthusiasts aren’t ready to give up on the battle, but there is at least hope now that science might win the argument. Wouldn’t that be refreshing.

Conservatives are happier people! by The Elephant's Child

Who would argue against freedom? We’re Americans, and freedom is our birthright, isn’t it? Surprisingly, a lot of people argue against freedom. Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein have a new book out in which they suggest the term “libertarian paternalism” as an alternative to “socialism”. They don’t quite say that, but it clearly is what they have in mind. The book is Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness which Roger Kimball describes thoughtfully at Pajamas Media.

Professors Thaler and Sunstein want to increase the likelihood that people will make the correct decisions that are in their own self interest by giving them little “nudges” here and there. The “correct decisions” are, of course, those that the professors choose. Oddly enough, Liberals seldom grasp the idea that they are infringing upon your freedom. They are only doing it for your own good!

Freedom is, to be sure, frightening. There is no telling what values someone will choose to hold. Decent and well-meaning guardians of values were horrified by the monstrous principles of the Declaration of Independence. It is, of course, out of fear that the guardians preach the inculcation of values, fear of knowledge and thought.

Richard Mitchell

The current crop of Democrats have been telling us, over and over, for months, how completely miserable we are. We have no hope, we are losing jobs, losing income, we cannot get ahead for they keep moving the bar, and we are in the worst depression since the Great Depression. This comes just at the time that economists are declaring the housing crisis over, employment rebounding, growth returning, and the “recession” probably at an end. What a sour bunch.

In the current issue of City Journal, Arthur C. Brooks has an essay Free People Are Happy People, which is based on his new book Gross National Happiness, ” In fact,” he says, “evidence shows that freedom and happiness are strongly linked. But what kind of freedom makes Americans happiest? And what can government best do to promote freedom and help us pursue happiness, as is our inalienable right?”

Freedom and happiness are highly correlated, then; even more significant, several studies have shown that freedom causes happiness….

The data and evidence don’t prove that all kinds of freedom bring equal happiness, or that more freedom is always better than less. For example, what about economic freedom? Pundits and politicians on the left often tell us that a free economy makes for an unhappy population; the disruptions of capitalism make us insecure, and we would prefer the security of generous welfare programs and national health care. But for most people, it turns out, that isn’t true.

Liberals are not happy with this book. (Why am I not surprised) Both book and essay suggest that the Conservative emphasis on liberty makes for happier people. Rejecting the welfare state and rejecting big government pay off. Religious freedom and faith produce happier people. Property rights, freedom to operate a business, trade with other nations (are you paying attention Speaker Pelosi?) ease of investment — all are elements that add to national happiness.

But down inside, you knew that, didn’t you? Freedom is our inalienable right, and free people look to the future with optimism. It’s the people who insist that we are miserable, that the current government is the worst ever, that the country is headed in the wrong direction — and once we feel bad enough, promise that they will make us feel better. They will do all sorts of wonderful things for us, as soon as they raise our taxes, diminish our freedom and take away our liberty — well, then they’ll help us, give us hope and change things. It’s just that the change they have in mind isn’t quite what freedom-loving people had in their minds.

It all makes sense now! by Emerald City Elephant

No wonder Democrats want to spend billions on homes in foreclosure!

Um…Can we talk? by The Elephant's Child

Is there something wrong with a good argument? How do you progress if your ideas never have to stand up to a challenge? Our country was founded on the idea of vigorous debate.

Those who wrote the new Constitution of 1787 and those who supported it could foresee that a clear vote against it in the State ratifying conventions could doom the experiment in democratic government in its infancy. As constitutions go, it is a short document, encouraging debate in every clause. “Each House may determine the Rules of the Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour; and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member.” What greater invitation to debate could you have?

Alexander Hamilton, in an effort to win over his home State of New York, began a series of essays explaining and defending the Constitution. These were published in New York City newspapers under the pseudonym Publius. Two other advocates of this new form of government, James Madison and John Jay, added their contributions. The efforts of these three men resulted in The Federalist Papers, an analysis of the Constitution and an enduring classic of political philosophy. And, perhaps most of all, it was an invitation to discussion and debate.

Discussion and debate were different in a time when books were somewhat rare and there was no radio, no television, and communication with other towns depended on a fast horse. Today we are deluged with printed material, and constant commentary from instant messaging to town hall meetings. We are in communication with the entire world. There is no shortage of ability to debate, and now that we are in a campaign for the Presidency of the United States, there are formal debates — Obama was just complaining about 21 debates — and yet…

The debates are curiously lacking in substance. There are serious matters that need discussion. The foolish effort to put the world’s food into our gas tanks, the curious reluctance to drill for the oil that we know is there. The notion that to increase gas mileage we only have to make a law. There is the strange, gullible belief that there must be some other viable form of energy out there that will solve all our problems, and the closest we can get to real substance is threatening the oil companies and offering to temporarily remove the gas tax for the summer. Could we talk sensibly about nuclear power? Could we discuss the portion of ANWR that was set aside for drilling? Instead we are talking about re-negotiating Free Trade pacts, an insult to our allies. We are pretending that manufacturing jobs have been lost, not to technology, but to NAFTA, which has been a benefit to the three countries involved, and nobody really wants to re-negotiate.

Two candidates are advocating socialized medicine, which has never worked anywhere. Could we debate? Not a chance. Can we talk about the value of cutting the capital gains tax, or reducing corporate taxes to the level of other countries? Can we talk about whether highway funds should be used for other projects? How about importing medicine from other countries? How about a discussion about terrorism, or don’t we believe in that any more. Could we discuss the belief that climate change is a natural phenomenon? Don’t make me laugh.

You could come up with your own list of subjects that need to be discussed, and probably few of them are matters that are part of the current campaign.

Those who disagree with the opinions held by the Left are to be silenced. They will be attacked, smeared, accused, repudiated, denounced. What they will not be — is debated. Yet every advance made by humanity is made through trial and error. We learn by discussing and arguing. We learn from mistakes.

Because we are so reluctant to argue and debate, the public often does not understand what is involved in an issue. When the press departs from objectivity and becomes an advocate, they deprive the public of needed information. When arguments become emotional struggles to win at all costs, liberty is the victim. When someone is smeared instead of debated, it becomes harder to get citizens to stand up for what they believe.

Oh, shame on you, Howard! by The Elephant's Child

Demogogue Dean

Howard Dean, Chairman of the Democrat National Committee, was on FOX News Sunday, yesterday, doing the sort of thing that Democrat National Committee Chairmen usually do — accusing Republicans of “race baiting” because people have been shocked by the sermons of the pastor that Obama extolled as his “spiritual advisor”.

CHRIS WALLACE: Governor, are you suggesting that bringing up Jeremiah Wright is race baiting, and
hate and divisive?

HOWARD DEAN: Yeah, I am suggesting that kind of stuff. I think when you start bringing up candidates that have nothing to do with the issue — when you start bringing up things that have nothing to do with the candidate and nothing to do with the issues, that’s race baiting, and that’s exactly what it is, just like Willie Horton was race baiting so many years ago.

I think we’re going to take a — we’re going to turn the page on this stuff. I tell you, you know, there’s a lot of difference between the Republicans and the Democrats on issues, but the biggest issue of all is we don’t use this kind of stuff. We never have used this kind of stuff, and we’re not going to start now.

My reaction to Pastor Jeremiah Wright was shock. When he said “God Damn America” and blamed America for the attacks of 9/11, I would have arisen in the middle of the sermon and walked out, never to return. I don’t look favorably on anti-Americanism. I recognize the free speech rights of anyone, but I don’t have to stick around and listen. And I’m surprised when others do stick around. And I’m sorry, Dr. Dean, but it’s a character thing, not a race thing.

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