American Elephants

A Conversation With Dr.William Voegeli. by The Elephant's Child

William Voegeli is the author of the new book Never Enough: America’s Limitless Welfare State.  He is a visiting scholar at Claremont McKenna College’s Henry Salvatori Center for the study of Individual Freedom in the Modern World.

In this interview at, Dr. Voegeli traces recent federal government expansion back to President Franklin Roosevelt’s introduction of “a Second Bill of Rights” that called for the right to housing, education, and medical care. ” The denial of the possibility that there is an endpoint [to the welfare state] is crucial to the liberal enterprise,” Dr. Voegeli says.

This is a good one, and well worth your time.

Rediscovered! Not Extinct After All! by The Elephant's Child

Here are fourteen animals thought to be extinct, and then rediscovered hundreds or thousands of years later.  The Okapi is a shy, forest-dwelling animal, first discovered in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in 1901, but had not been found in the park since 1959, and was thought to have died out.  A survey in 2006 in the Virunga park found 17 okapi tracks and other evidence of its presence.  A pretty animal who looks as if he had been assembled from parts of others.

The Cuban Solenodon is not one you would care to meet in a dark alley, but interesting.  I have always been suspicious of environmentalist claims about endangered or extinct species. Wild species are usually adept at avoiding humans, and things that no longer exist in one place may simply have moved.  Plants and animals adapt, and wildlife does not always stay where we expect it to.  Rediscovered!  We humans don’t always know as much as we think we do.

Ideology, Illegal Power Grab, and the E.P.A. by The Elephant's Child

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is determined to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, which was not something the act was designed to do.  The act was meant to clean up air pollution.  Greenhouse gases are not air pollution.

The term “greenhouse gases’ creates mischief because it suggests a thick blanket of something-or-other holding in the climate, like the glass in a greenhouse holds in the warmer air that makes plants grow.  It’s not like that.

In a greenhouse, the nurserymen pipe in carbon dioxide (CO2) in far greater concentration than we find in the atmosphere, because CO2 is one of the building blocks of life,  a natural fertilizer that makes plants grow.  When we breathe in, our bodies take in oxygen, and we breathe out CO2.  Plants take in CO2.  Surely you remember a little about photosynthesis from high school biology.

The problem with using the Clean Air Act is that it would force churches, schools, warehouses, and other sources to obtain permits, both costly and time-consuming.  It would wreak havoc with the economy and create a huge backlash.

The EPA is attempting to rewrite the Clean Air Act “administratively” by a “tailoring rule,” which would reduce the number of regulated sources.  The problem with that approach is that is illegal.  The EPA has no authority to rewrite the law.  To make that work the EPA would need every state with a State Implementation Plan to rewrite all its statutory thresholds as well.

Well, Don’t mess with Texas! Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and Chairman Bryan W. Shaw of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality saw the “tailoring rule” for what it is — a massive power grab and centralization of authority.  They wrote to the EPA:

In order to deter challenges to your plan for centralized control of industrial development through the issuance of permits for greenhouse gases, you have called upon each state to declare its allegiance to the Environmental Protection Agency’s recently enacted greenhouse gas regulations – regulations that are plainly contrary to U.S. laws. … To encourage acquiescence with your unsupported findings you threaten to usurp state enforcement authority and to federalize the permitting program of any state that fails to pledge their fealty to the Environmental Protection Agency. On behalf of the State of Texas, we write to inform you that Texas has neither the authority nor the intention of interpreting, ignoring or amending its laws in order to compel the permitting of greenhouse gas emissions.

The Obama administration could learn a lot from Texas.  It is the nation’s energy-production capital.  The air is cleaner today than it was in 2000 although the state’s population has increased by nearly 3.5 million people.  According to DOE and EPA data, since 2000, Texas’ CO2 emissions from fossil fuel usage have fallen more than those of almost any other state and any country except Germany.

Washington is attempting to “federalize the air-permitting process and force Texas to ignore their own state laws and the plain language of the Clean Air Act in order to allow an illegal rewriting of the federal statute.  But Texas has neither ‘the authority nor the intention’ of doing so.

Enormous mischief was caused by the Supreme Court ruling that allowed the EPA to regulate CO2 — if it was determined to be a harmful pollutant.  Which of course they decided it was, without any evidence that it was so.

Alan Carlin, a senior analyst at the EPA’s National Center for Environmental Economics and a colleague presented a 98-page analysis questioning the scientific foundation for the administration’s climate change policies.  They noted that the science behind man-made global warming is inconclusive at best.  It pointed out that global temperatures were on a downward trend and noted the problems with climate models. It highlighted new research that contradicts alarmist warming, and asked for a serious review of the science by the EPA.

The report earned Mr. Carlin an email from his boss, Al McGartland, forbidding him from “any direct communication” with anyone outside of  his office with regard to his analysis.  When Mr. Carlin again tried to disseminate his analysis, Mr. McGartland ordered: “The administrator and the administration have decided to move forward on endangerment, and your comments do not help the legal or policy case for this decision. …Another email “I don’t want you to spend any additional EPA time on climate change.  No papers, no research etc, at least until we see what EPA is going to do with Climate.”

Did someone say something about transparency?

The Political Class Doesn’t Know How to Create Jobs! by The Elephant's Child

Brian Calle,columnist and editorial writer for the Orange County Register got fed up with jobs programs that didn’t work, and ever-gloomier unemployment reports, so he decided to ask business owners why they weren’t hiring.  It resulted in an ongoing, multimedia project called “The CEO Solutions Series” in which business owners diagnose the problem and propose solutions.  Here,  Reason TV’s Ted Balaker sat down with Calle to see what business leaders are saying, and why they’re afraid to even complain about public policy.

John Stossel, in a column titled “Where Are the New Jobs?” quotes the Washington Post:

Corporate profits are soaring.  Companies are sitting on billions of dollars of cash.  And still, they’ve yet to amp up hiring or make major investments.

The political class want more stimulus, and more jobs programs.  Somehow paying businesses to hire people seems economically foolish, but that hasn’t stopped the political class yet.  Ordinary people are not spending, and are saving like mad.  So why isn’t the economy recovering?  After previous recessions, unemployment didn’t get stuck at 10 percent, with no letup in sight.  Stossel says:

The problem today is that the economy is not being left alone. Instead, it is haunted by uncertainty on a hundred fronts. When rules are unintelligible and unpredictable, when new workers are potential threats because of Labor Department regulations, businesses have little confidence to hire. President Obama’s vaunted legislative record not only left entrepreneurs with the burden of bigger government, it also makes it impossible for them to accurately estimate the new burden.

In at least three big areas — health insurance, financial regulation and taxes — no one can know what will happen.

New intrusive rules for health insurance are yet to be written, and those rules will affect hiring, since most health insurance is provided by employers.

The Dodd-Frank 2,300 page finance regulatory act will contain at least 243 new formal rule-makings yet to be made by 11 different federal agencies.  Congress doesn’t do the hard stuff itself.

The George W. Bush tax cuts may be allowed to expire, or maybe not.  Democrats want to get rid of them, simply because they hate George W. Bush and Republicans, but they are getting a little queasy about it since the economy is not performing as they expected.

Fear! Nobody knows what is coming down the pike, and the guardrails aren’t holding. Custom is cast aside, laws are ignored, the Constitution is fudged.  No one knows what the rules will be, nor what will happen to those who have the courage to speak out.  Uncertainty rules, and everyone hunkers down and waits to see just what will happen.

That isn’t something you can fix by injecting more taxpayer borrowed money into the economy.  It is not easy to restore confidence when it has been destroyed.  Some of the transparency that was promised would help.  Follow the rules.  Observe the laws.  Mean what  you say, and say what you mean.  Speak the truth.

How Do We Get Rid of Political Correctness? by The Elephant's Child

How did political correctness come to be so dominant in our culture?  It is a creation of, by, and for the bureaucracy — and it says: Thou Shalt not offend! How absolutely ridiculous is that?  If you offend, you may be called down to Human Resources!  You may be called on the proverbial carpet. You may even lose your job.

To avoid offending, truth must be banished. We must think correct thoughts. We must conform. This is hardly new. George Orwell’s 1984 was published in 1949. The modern version of political correctness came about in the 1980s, and a quick visit to Wikipedia can give you the history. There are Politically Correct Dictionaries, and a website: with  links to the latest bad examples.

We laugh at examples. Everyone can come up with an absurd example that they have encountered, but it goes on, and on, and gets worse.

What started me on this train of thought was a post on the blog ‘View from the Right,’ by Lawrence Auster, on the release of the Pentagon Report on the Fort Hood Massacre:

The report states that the Army’s commitment to ethnic and racial diversity at all costs pushed career-conscious Army brass to remain silent and do nothing when Maj. Nidal Hasan repeatedly and openly expressed his belief in jihad Holy War against infidels, his hostility to the United States, and his sympathy for terrorists, even after some of his fellow officers had stated concerns about him. Among its top recommendations the report urges a downgrading of the importance of diversity in the ranks and close screening of Muslim service members for jihadist beliefs….

This is, of course, NOT what the “Pentagon Final Fort Hood Shooting Review” actually says. It is merely what it should have said. Mr. Auster includes the real story.  The underlying story, however, is horrifying. Thirteen people were killed and 32 were wounded because career-conscious Army brass were paralyzed by political correctness.

We are not alone. Many European governments bureaucracies are even more politically correct. Ever more matters on which we must conform are listed. Campus speech codes, hate speech, the mosque controversy, groups that may not be criticized, things that may not be said. The silly examples, like the small child expelled for bringing an inch-long toy-soldier gun to school, are constant, and anesthetize us to the deadly serious problems created, and the lives damaged.

What a horrible example the Pentagon final report is. People died because of political correctness, and the Pentagon remains too politically correct to say in clear language that — that is what happened. If they cannot honestly say what happened, then they cannot prevent the same thing from happening again.

Do we need instructors in precise language? Do we need classes in leadership that teach how to use the ‘REJECTED’ stamp? New classes for teacher training? Required classes for education management? Campus speech codes are illegal under the Constitution which guarantees freedom of speech, yet it takes costly lawsuits to protect students who unwittingly offend.

Multiculturalism is bunk. Some cultures are truly horrible, and some are far better than others. Diversity is nonsense. People are far more diverse by factors other than their skin color or ethnicity or gender— none of which matter much. You must be free to offend, or there can be no truth. And without truth, we’re in deep trouble.

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