American Elephants


Fair and Balanced, or something like that! by The Elephant's Child
November 22, 2008, 9:43 pm
Filed under: Environment, Global Warming, Uncategorized | Tags: ,

Here at American Elephants, we are passionately partisan, but we always want to be aware of the arguments of the other side.  We are determinedly fair and occasionally impartial, or at least we try.  Monica said “the Earth has a fever”, and the Elephant himself responded: “Needs more cowbell.”

(h/t: Tom Nelson)



A French Infantryman’s Impressions of the Americans He Serves With. by The Elephant's Child
November 22, 2008, 9:03 pm
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Military, Terrorism | Tags: ,

Jean-Marc Liotier has posted a piece written by a French OMLT (Operational Mentoring Liaison Teams) infantry man in Afghanistan, about the Americans soldiers with whom he serves.  It is a rare glimpse through the eyes of a Frenchman of how European soldiers see them.  Anti-Americanism sells papers in Europe as well as here,  so it’s refreshing to read some heartfelt words from someone who serves with our boys.

Here we discover America as it is often depicted; their values are taken to their paroxysm, often amplified by lack of privacy and the loneliness of this outpost in the middle of that Afghan valley.  Honor, motherland — everything here reminds of that: the American flag floating in the wind above the outpost, just like the one on the post parcels.  Even if recruits often originate from the heart of American cities and gang territory no one here has any goal other than to hold high and proud the star spangled banner.  Each man knows he can count on the support of a whole people who provides them through the mail all that an American could miss in such a remote front-line location: books, chewing gums, razorblades, Gatorade, toothpaste etc. in such way that every man is aware of how much the American people backs him in his difficult mission.  And that is a first shock to our preconceptions: the American soldier is no individualist.  The team, the group, the combat team are the focus of all his attention.

And they are impressive warriors!  We have not come across bad ones, as strange as it may seem to you when you know how critical French people can be.  Even if some of them are a bit on the heavy side, all of them provide us everyday with lessons in infantry know-how.  Beyond the wearing of a combat kit that never seem to discomfort them (helmet strap, helmet, combat goggles, rifles etc.) the long hours of watch at the outpost never seem to annoy them in the slightest.  On the one square meter wooden tower above the perimeter wall they stand the five consecutive hours in full battle rattle and night vision goggles on top, their sight unmoving in the directions of likely danger.  No distractions, no pauses, they are like statues nights and days.  At night, all movements are performed in the dark — only a handful of subdued red lights indicate the occasional presence of a soldier on the move.  Same with the vehicles whose lights are covered — everything happens in pitch dark even filling the fuel tanks with the Japy pump.

And combat? If you have seen Rambo you have seen it all — always coming to the rescue when one of our teams gets in trouble, and always in the shortest delay.  That is one of their tricks: they switch from T-shirt and sandals to combat ready in three minutes.   Arriving in contact with the enemy, they way they fight is simple and disconcerting: they just charge! They disembark and assault in stride, they bomb first and ask questions later — which cuts any pussyfooting short.

We seldom hear any harsh word, and from 5AM onwards the camp chores are performed in beautiful order and always with excellent spirit.  A passing American helicopter stops near a stranded vehicle just to check that everything is alright; an American combat team will rush to support ours before even knowing how dangerous that mission is — from what we have been given to to witness, the American soldier is a beautiful and worthy heir to those who liberated France and Europe.

Do read the whole thing which you can find here.



Just when it is all coming apart, here’s another push. by The Elephant's Child
November 21, 2008, 8:37 pm
Filed under: Economy, Energy, Environment, Europe, Global Warming | Tags: , ,

These clueless bureaucrats plan to revamp the entire U.S. economy based on the notion that CO2 is the cause of global warming, and that they can do something about it by bankrupting coal-fired power plants and substituting clean alternative energy. There is no evidence that this is other than fantasy.

Environmentalist dreams of a “clean-energy” economy in the U.S. have long yielded to a glimpse of the price tag.  Now the cost of making the transition — hundreds of billions of dollars — is being offered by President-elect  Obama and his advisers as a selling point. Think New Deal II.  FDR extended the Great Depression by more than seven years with just such experimentation.

They believe that a multibillion-dollar government investment in everything from wind turbines to a “smart” electrical grid is just what is needed to prop up the economy.  The fantasy is millions of government subsidized “green jobs.” Mr. Obama’s theory, which he argued on the campaign trail, is that spending $150 billion over the next decade to boost energy efficiency would create five million jobs.

The jobs would include insulation installers to make houses more energy-efficient, insulation businesses , wind-turbine builders, energy efficient bulb installers, and would displace coal-fired electricity, coal mining and transportation workers. And the existing insulation companies, and wind turbine companies, the coal miners? Construction workers would be required to build greener buildings and rebuild the electrical grid. Direct inquiries about green buildings to Seattle’s Mayor Greg Nichols.  And see Bastiat’s ‘Broken Windows’ theory.

The idea is that big capital investments in green-energy technology will be offset by savings in reduced fossil fuel costs. The rest of the world is looking askance at climate change legislation in a time of global economic turmoil.  New Zealand is looking at competing views on the scientific aspects of climate change. In England, power suppliers are turning back the clock to use coal-fired plants as their main source of electricity in a bid to avoid shortages over the winter. The EU is backing off from their climate change legislation.

The studies that estimate millions of new green jobs do not consider the jobs that are lost elsewhere if the country shifts to more expensive sources of energy. Part of the theory of so many new jobs comes from the fact that jobs in the fossil fuel industry do not require more infrastructure, because it already exists.  New “green’ jobs would require building new infrastructure. The price of oil has dropped substantially in the wake of the financial crisis. It is suggested that the cost will go up even  higher as the financial crisis stabilizes.

Please note that at the same time that they want to switch our economy to energy sources that have shown no evidence whatsoever that they can effectively supply the power that we need, no matter what the investment, they want to destroy the use of fossil fuels because they believe that will save the planet.  But the globe has warmed and cooled in the past, long before there were industry or automobiles or SUVs. The warming and cooling corresponds closely to the activity of the sun, and seems to have no connection to increases of CO2 in the atmosphere.  But it isn’t about CO2, no matter how much they pretend that it is.

Physicist Dr. Thomas P. Sheahen:

“Owing to bad economic conditions, most of the countries in Europe are fleeing from the commitments they once made to the “Kyoto treaty” to reduce emissions of CO2.  Scientists all over the world are speaking up against the notion of a “consensus”, the presumption that “everybody agrees” that global warming is caused by mankind (the AGW hypothesis). Nobody has any confidence any more in long-range computer calculations that are unable to predict the past, let alone the future.  And most of all, people are beginning to remember that CO2 is plant food.”

“This all comes at the time when the incoming administration of Obama seems about to impose draconian and expensive regulations (on CO2 emissions) upon American industry and utilities.”

Consider this quotation from a green enthusiast:

“An authentic green economics system is one that would mark the end of capitalism, and one that would ensure labor rights and organizing, collective ownership and equality are all at the heart of it.  The real green movement has not started yet.”

Steve Hayward added:

“More than 20 years ago political scientist Anthony Downs discerned what he called the “issue-attention cycle,” a five-stage process by which the public and especially the news media grow alarmed over an issue, agitate for action, generate piles of scary headlines, and then begin to draw back as we come to recognize that the problem has been exaggerated or misconceived, and the price tag for action comes in.  While Downs thought that the issue-attention cycle for the environment would last longer than most issues, it appears the mother-of-all-environmental scares — global warming — is following his model and is going to begin to fade like other environmental alarms of the past such as the population bomb and the “we’re running out of everything” scares.”



Should We Bail Out the Automobile Companies? by The Elephant's Child

Detroit cannot make cars at a price the market will bear.

The only question is whether we want to kick the problem down the road, or confront it now.  As long as they cannot make cars at a price that people will pay, they will not have a functional business.  Do we think they should go bankrupt now? Do we think they should go bankrupt later? How often do we intend to bail them out?



Glimpses of the Coming Health Plan. by The Elephant's Child
November 20, 2008, 8:04 pm
Filed under: Economy, Health Care, Socialism | Tags: ,

In a survey of U.S. primary care physicians released this week by the Physicians’ Foundation, nearly half the respondents said that they would seriously consider getting out of the medical business within the next three years if they had an alternative.

The survey sought to find the reasons for an identified exodus among family doctors and internists — the backbone of the health industry. In the survey, the foundation sent questionnaires to more  than 270,000 primary care doctors and more than 50,000 specialists nationwide.

49 percent of the 12,000 respondents said they would consider leaving medicine. There is too much red tape from government agencies and insurance companies and they are overwhelmed in their practices they said.  It is not a problem of too many patients.

At the annual meeting of the American Medical Association last week, a U.S. shortage of 35,000 to 45,000 primary care doctors by 2025 was predicted.

Massachusetts’ new universal health care plan has resulted in many doctors moving out of state.  Texas, on the other hand, has had an inflow of doctors because of a reduction in governmental mandates.

A new survey of health care provision for chronically ill patients ranked Canada eighth out of eight nations surveyed.  The Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation based in New York, polled patients with chronic conditions in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. 60% of patients waited more than 4 weeks for an appointment with a specialist.  58% waited more than 8 weeks.

British patients who need major surgery and can afford it are apparently going to India for their surgery to avoid NHS.  The problems of dirty hospitals, declining service, and failure of the system are subjects of constant reporting in UK papers.

Problems are similar in Canada and France.  I don’t know of any country with socialized medicine that has good results from their program, but I am not familiar with every country.

Ted Kennedy is working hard on a congressional plan for universal health care, and he is lining up powerful interests for support. Backers are sure to use the Senator’s declining health as a sentimental push for his last legislative effort.

Max Baucus is developing a separate plan that would be extraordinarily expensive as it grows the government’s share of health spending though a ballpark estimate is $150 billion a year, but that is probably conservative.  The idea is to fold everyone into a program like Medicare.

These people have been blathering on about 45 million “uninsured” long enough to make people think that there actually are that many people who don’t have insurance and we “must do something”.  The number is phony and a deliberate misrepresentation, in order for Democrats to do what they want.

By 2015 or perhaps sooner, more than 50 % of Americans will not pay any income taxes, and the other 50% will be expected to support not only themselves but the other half of the population as well, and to support the health care expenses of the other half.  We already have the world’s most progressive taxes, but it is not enough.  It is never, never enough.

The first thing that happens when a health care plan is created that we cannot afford is a demand to cut costs. Pay Doctors less, pay nurses less, use cheaper drugs, don’t buy those expensive machines, get along with fewer doctors, fewer nurses, less equipment.  More mandates, more rules.  Don’t do this to free people.

Be very, very careful what you wish for. And be willing to fight to stay free.



Here’s an Important Test for You to Take. by The Elephant's Child

The Intercollegiate Studies Institute has just completed a study to see what Americans know about their own history, government and economics.  Their question — are most people, including college graduates civically illiterate?  Do elected officials know even less than most citizens about civic topics like history, government and economics?  Well, Yes they do.

More than 2,500 randomly selected Americans took ISI’s basic 33-question test on civic literacy and more than 1,700 people failed

The average score was 49 percent or an “F” Elected officials scored even lower than the general public with an average score of 44 percent and only 0,8 percent (or 21) of all surveyed earned an “A.”

Even more discouraging was the fact that over twice as many people know Paula Abdul was a judge on American Idol than know that the phrase “government of the people, by the people, for the people” comes from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

According to ISI, the blame and the solution lie at the doorstep of the nations colleges.  Colleges can, and should play an important role in curing this national epidemic of ignorance.  Parents can help too.  See what your kids know.

The test consists of 33 multiple-choice questions and will take only a few minutes.  See how you will do.  No prizes, and you don’t have to tell anybody.

http://americancivicliteracy.org/resources/quiz.aspx



Must see TV by American Elephant
November 20, 2008, 6:36 am
Filed under: Fun n Games, Humor, Pop Culture | Tags:

I’m still laughing…

(h/t Fail Blog)



Panics, Crazes, Manias and Fads. by The Elephant's Child
November 19, 2008, 9:43 pm
Filed under: Energy, Environment, Liberalism | Tags: , , ,

plumes

The Wall Street Journal today reviewed a new book called Plumes about the fashion craze for ostrich feathers from roughly 1905 to 1914. Ostrich plumes adorned women’s hats, capes, gowns, gloves, shoes and more and it was thought (as in all crazes) that it would last forever.

The famous Tulip mania of 1634 didn’t last so long, but speculation reached dizzying heights.  One collector paid 1,000 pounds of cheese, four oxen, eight pigs, 12 sheep, a bed and a suit of clothes for a single Viceroy tulip bulb.

The demand for beaver hats in England led to our mountain men braving the dangers of the Rockies in the search for fur. The desire for warm beaver hats coincided with the Little Ice Age.  The greatest fur trading company received its charter in1670, just three years before there was a record of ice three feet thick on the Thames River in London.

There are little crazes too, that come and go fairly quickly. Do you remember pet rocks?  Or mood rings? Most of us have only to look back at our high school yearbooks to cringe and remember a few more fads.

Back in the 70s there was a fear that we were entering another ice age for the planet had cooled slightly.

On Monday, NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, which is one of four bodies responsible for monitoring world temperatures, and is run by Al Gore’s chief scientific ally, Dr. James Hansen, announced that last month was the hottest October on record.

This was astonishing.  It had snowed in Boise.  On the day that they were debating climate-change legislation in London, it snowed.  China reported that Tibet had suffered its “worst snowstorm ever”. NOAA had registered 115 lowest-ever temperatures in the US.

These temperature records are used by scientists all over the world in their work.  What happened?  The freak figures were not based on October readings at all, they had just repeated the figures from the previous month.  When that was promptly caught, GISS began hastily revising its figures, and claimed to have discovered a new “hotspot” in the Arctic. Then they said they did not have the resources to maintain proper quality control over their incoming data.

Dr. Hansen set the whole “global warming” scare going in 1988 with his summer testimony to a US Senate committee chaired by Al Gore.  In 2007, he was forced to revise his published figures for US surface temperatures to show that the hottest decade was not the 1990s, as he had claimed, but the 1930s.

Professor Bob Carter points out in Quadrant that:

Climate change knows three realities: science reality, which is what working scientists deal with every day; virtual reality, which is the wholly imaginary world inside computer climate models; and public reality which is the socio-political system within which politicians, business people and the general citizenry work.

The global warming scare is slowly coming apart. The science reality is negating the virtual reality, and the public is becoming dubious.

Fads, crazes and manias come and go. Some last far longer than they should and do far more damage because politicians get involved.

This particular craze has consumed vast funds, and promises to consume far, far more.



The Pirates Strike Again, and are Struck! by The Elephant's Child
November 19, 2008, 7:59 pm
Filed under: Africa, Developing Nations, Terrorism | Tags: , ,

A Hong Kong-registered ship named Delight is the latest to fall into the hands of pirates off the northern coast of Africa.  It is now steaming toward Somalia, where it will undoubtedly be held for ransom as was the Sirius Star pictured below.

The Somali government, such as it is, lacks basic law-enforcement agencies to disrupt pirates. It also has a very long coastline along the Gulf of Aden.  The neighboring countries of Yemen and Djibouti are a little more stable, but have no more capabilities than Somalia.

There have been 90 attacks on ships by Somalian pirates this year.  Commercial vessels in this high-tech era have small, mostly unarmed crews.  The International Maritime Bureau says that pirates are currently holding 15 ships and more than 250 sailors. The pirates are well equipped with modern weapons, satellite phones, GPS trackers and fast attack boats.

It’s left to the modern word to police them.  The Bush Administration set up a global effort called Combined Task Force 150 under the watch of the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet. The current commander is a Commodore of the Danish Royal Navy.

Tuesday, a Somali pirate mother -ship aimed grenade launchers at an Indian naval frigate and tried to ram it.  The Indian ship Tabar returned fire, set the pirate ship on fire and sunk it.  India’s action has probably saved many other ships. At the moment force is the only  way to raise the cost of piracy.

The costs of dysfunctional countries can be severe.  The Combined Task Force has 2.5 million square miles to patrol. That is a lot of ocean.

Diplomacy, and even talks without preconditions, aren’t going to be the answer.



Everything old is new again. by The Elephant's Child

Pirates have seized a Saudi-owned supertanker leaded with more then $100 million worth of crude oil off the coast of Kenya — the largest ship ever hijacked according to U.S. Navy officials. Somali pirates have become increasingly brazen, but this is the first time they have attacked a fully laden oil tanker. “This is unprecedented” the International Herald Tribune quotes a spokesman for the Fifth Fleet, Lt. Nathan Christensen.  “Its the largest ship that we’ve seen pirated.  It’s three times the size of an aircraft carrier.” The supertanker, the Sirius Star, was hijacked more than 450 nautical miles southeast of Mombasa, Kenya, far to the south of previous attacks.  Pirates range over an area from the Gulf of Aden to the Kenyan coast, more than a million square miles.  Most ships do not have heavy security, while the pirates are fast and well armed.  And most are taken for ransom. Shipping firms are usually prepared to pay, for the sums demanded are still low compared with the value of the ships and their cargo. This seems like a remote crime — piracy in 2008? But the International Chamber of Commerce keeps track of Commercial Crimes.  Here is a map of piracy incidents just in 2008. Once it was the Barbary Coast pirates, but now apparently everything old is new again.



What really causes global warming? by The Elephant's Child
November 18, 2008, 8:39 pm
Filed under: Economy, Energy, Global Warming, Science/Technology | Tags: , ,

England is having a bad time with their Green movement.  The Greens have worked for over 40 years to undermine the British economic system and to replace it with a Green autocracy that can control the British population.  Uninvestigated, it all sounded so — caring, and made a good topic of conversation for dinner parties.  When it meant just paying a little more for ‘organic’ veggies, or separating the trash into separate bins, it offered a small noble feeling of doing one’s part.

They, the Greens,  pretty much got away with it. At least until the economic crisis hit and people with calculators began looking at what things would actually cost.  An excellent example is recycling in the UK.  Most of this process has been driven by edicts from the EU — it is the moral thing to do, and you will recycle. But it seems that there is no demand, none whatsoever, for recycled waste.  The British paper, The Observer, reported that:

Huge waste mountains could be sited on military bases under emergency plans to protect Britain’s recycling revolution from the economic downturn.

Local authorities have requested government permission to site rubbish dumps on Ministry of Defense land in order to stockpile growing amounts of recyclable waste for which there is no use and no market.

The Observer is the quintessential right thinking newspaper. Recycling is good.  Therefore we must continue the recycling revolution no matter what the costs.  Can something be “recyclable” if it has no use, and if there is no market at all for it?

A second tactic is the eternal battle against an evil threat. Global warming has become the perpetual threat that demands every sacrifice — democracy, liberty, the destruction of free markets and the establishment of the “Ministry of Truth.” It will be staffed with an army of bureaucrats who will rewrite history, eliminating the Little Ice Age and the Medieval Warm Period, as well as circulating pictures of drowning polar bears and melting glaciers.

The third tactic is the adoption of Green bureaucratic language. Global warming becomes “climate change’.  “Sustainability” becomes the buzz-word of the day.  “Sustainable development” can be encouraged to build wind farms, to bolster the quest for funds, or to pass undesirable laws.  It can also be used to prevent development, block growth and to conjure up a return to an imagined, usually rural, Utopia.

Greens come in many guises, and range from the caring but ill-informed to the totally loony.  Their prescriptions need to be based in observed science and real economics. That shouldn’t be asking too much.

You are being fed a parcel of lies.  Pay attention, read up, and investigate further. Don’t just swallow.

(h/t Climate Change Fraud)



How Obama Got Elected by American Elephant

A new Zogby poll confirms what many of us knew: Obama won the election because of uninformed, misinformed and ignorant supporters.

A documentary, “Media Malpractice…How Obama Got Elected,” addressing the “mainstream” news media’s complicity in keeping voters ignorant and misinformed is in the works. In this preview, the film-maker interviews 12 Obama supporters, randomly selected by another Obama supporter. The results would be funny if they weren’t so frightening:

According to the Zogby poll, a whopping 57.4% of Obama supporters believe erroneously that Republicans are currently in control of congress. The most unpopular congress ever, for good reason, and well over half of Obama voters are exactly wrong about who is controlling it.

And so Obama supporters give even more power to the party that has presided over our current economic collapse. Its not a surprise, but it doesn’t make it any less depressing.

Other results from the poll:

81.8% could NOT correctly say Joe Biden quit a previous campaign because of plagiarism (25% chance by guessing)

82.6% could NOT correctly say that Barack Obama won his first election by getting opponents kicked off the ballot (25% chance by guessing)

88.4% could NOT correctly say that Obama said his policies would likely bankrupt the coal industry and make energy rates skyrocket (25% chance by guessing)

56.1% could NOT correctly say Obama started his political career at the home of two former members of the Weather Underground (25% chance by guessing).

And yet…..

Only 13.7% failed to identify Sarah Palin as the person on which their party spent $150,000 in clothes

Only 6.2% failed to identify Palin as the one with a pregnant teenage daughter

And 86.9 % thought that Palin said that she could see Russia from her “house,” even though that was Tina Fey who said that!!

Only 2.4% got at least 11 correct.

Only .5% got all of them correct. (And we “gave” one answer that was technically not Palin, but actually Tina Fey)

Full poll results here. Story here.




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