American Elephants

Don’t Panic! It’s Only Junk Science! by The Elephant's Child

— Whole flocks of dead birds are dropping from the sky.  Government testing?  Fireworks?  A climate disaster?  Recently 5,000 blackbirds fell dead in Arkansas.  Hundreds of dead birds covered the Morganza Highway in Louisiana on Monday.  Dozens of jackdaws in Sweden fell from the sky.  And a few hundred turtle doves in Italy.  It is perfectly normal.

The questions that are naturally asked are: Is there a common cause, is this a sign of a coming apocalypse, is this a result of some environmental disaster?  Biologists say that it is unlikely.

The U.S. Geological Survey’s National Wildlife Health Center has been tracking mass animal deaths since the 1970s. “Large mortality events in wildlife aren’t that uncommon” said Paul Slota. “In the last 10 years we have logged 188 cases just involving birds, with mortality exceeding 1,000 animals per event.”

Causes vary.  Some starve. Some eat toxic food or get poisoned by people. Some die in severe weather. Some die from viral or bacterial illness or pollution.  In many cases the cause remains a mystery.

— The great scare that purported to find a link between childhood vaccination and autism is reported in the British Journal of Medicine to be an “elaborate fraud.” The story that so alarmed mothers came from a study by Wakefield, et al, was the only study that made such claims.  The office of Research Integrity in the U.S. found that not one of the 12 cases reported in the 1998 Lancet was free of misrepresentation or undisclosed alteration, and that in no single case could the medical records be fully reconciled with the descriptions, diagnoses, or histories published in the journal.

Great damage has been done to public health, fueled by unbalanced media reporting.  Children have gone without needed vaccination because of fearful mothers.  Measles was declared endemic in England and Wales for the first time in 14 years in 2008.  The link to vaccination was a charade, a fraud, a lie.

— You may never have heard of the “Great Garbage Patch” of plastic bottles and Styrofoam and other plastic debris — twice the size of Texas — and growing tenfold each decade since the 1950s.  Nevermind.  An Oregon State University professor of oceanography, Angelicque White, found that the actual size of the supposed horror was “grossly exaggerated” and was, at most, about 1% of the bulk of Texas.  The idea that it was growing tenfold each decade was also found to be — rubbish.

— The eco-warriors promoting “localism” in food are neglecting the vast boon to mankind in the ability to obtain food that is not local. Once people were restricted to what could be grown locally or preserved, for refrigeration and transportation were not available. Today, mid-winter, I can buy fresh strawberries, fresh blueberries, fresh pineapple, melons, all sorts of vegetables and flowers unavailable before today’s fast air-transport, and at reasonable prices. Local food production and energy production have traditionally been destructive.  It’s a fashion fad, not science.

— In February 2009, Nobel Laureate and Energy Secretary Steven Chu pontificated without evidence that California farms would dry up and blow away since as much as 90 percent of the annual Sierra snowpack would disappear. Long-term studies of the central Sierra snowpack show average snow levels unchanged over the last 90 years.  Many California farms are indeed drying up — but as a result of government’s cutoff of irrigation, not nature’s.

Democrat Congresswoman Shot in Arizona! by American Elephant
January 8, 2011, 11:27 am
Filed under: News, Politics | Tags: ,

Update: KOLD News 13 reports that Giffords is still in surgery as of 11:36 AM, and that reports of her death are premature. Let’s hope they are right. (Reuters, NPR, Drudge, FOX and others were reporting she had died.) Headline altered.

Update: Details are still sketchy and sometimes contradictory, but several sources report the Congresswoman is expected to pull through. No idea if that means a full recovery or with mental impairment. Others are not so lucky; several people were killed including a child and a Federal Judge. Five others are reported in critical condition and five in stable condition.

The gunman has apparently been identified as 22 year old Jared Laughner, while another man has been arrested in connection to the shooting, and police are reportedly seeking another.

Original post:


Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and six others died after a gunman opened fire at a public event on Saturday, the Pima County, Ariz., sheriff’s office confirms.

The 40-year-old Democrat, who was re-elected to her third term in November, was hosting a “Congress on Your Corner” event at a Safeway in northwest Tucson when a gunman ran up and started shooting, according to Peter Michaels, news director of Arizona Public Media.

At least three other people, including members of her staff, were injured. Giffords was transported to University Medical Center in Tucson.

Giffords was talking to a couple when the suspect ran up and fired indiscriminately from about four feet away, Michaels said.

The suspect ran off and was tackled by a bystander. He was taken into custody. Witnesses described him as in his late teens or early 20s.

Giffords was first elected to represent Arizona’s 8th District in 2006. The “Congress on Your Corner” events allow constituents to present their concerns directly to her.

Giffords was married to astronaut Mark Kelly, a veteran of Desert Storm. They have two children. [NPR]

The facts are still coming in. Speculation is rampant. Motive is unknown at this point. God bless the victims and their loved ones.

(h/t HotAir)

Liberals are Threatened by the Constitution. by The Elephant's Child

The controversy about the Democrats’ reaction to the Republican ordered reading of the Constitution in the House of Representatives at the opening of the 112th Congress has been fascinating.  Democrats are outraged!  At the reading of the Constitution!

It is really worth spending a little time reading some of the commentary, for this is an important and urgent controversy, and the Democrats don’t like this attention to our founding document although they swear allegiance to it. Do take the time to read these.

— Seth Lipsky explains “Why the Constitution vexes the left,” in the New York Post.

The reason for all this alarm is that taking the Constitution seriously threatens the whole Liberal project.  Liberals, with the Obama administration in the vanguard, want a vast expansion of federal power.  Yet the Constitution grants the government only limited powers, and it enumerates them carefully, one by one.

— Peter Berkowitz, scholar and essayist, addresses “What Would a Return to the Constitution Entail?”

In fact, an informed and thoughtful return to the Constitution will take seriously the devotion to individual liberty and limited government shared by the original Federalist proponents of the Constitution and their Anti-Federalist opponents.  It will learn from the intricately separated and blended political institutions that the Constitution established to impose restraint and allow for energy and efficiency.  And it should culminate in the recovery of the spirit of political moderation that the Constitution embodies and on which its preservation depends.

— Peter Wehner, writing at the Commentary Magazine website writes “Why the Constitution – and What it Means – Matters”

With members of Congress having just sworn to support and defend the Constitution, it’s not at all clear why reading its text should give rise to such ridicule.  Except, of course, if you don’t take the Constitution all that seriously; and especially if you consider it to be an obstacle to your ambitions.  In that case, the game is to mock and sneer at those who attempt to reconnect American government to its founding charter.

— The Wall Street Journal makes a little fun before turning to a more serious point, in “The Constitutional Power Hour.

Of Washington’s many scandals, nothing compares to the one perpetrated this week by House Republicans.  They plan to have the Constitution read aloud on the House floor today word for word if you can believe the effrontery, and yesterday they even passed a rule requiring that from now on Members must cite the constitutional authority for every piece of legislation they write.

How dare these rabble-rousers.  Don’t they understand the Constitution is whatever Congress, or judges, or liberal law professors say it is?

— Jonah Goldberg is more direct: “Got a problem with the Constitution?

They call their sacred text: “The U.S. Constitution.” It’s a funny thing.  You’s think that the Constitution — the document every elected official, significant government appointee, soldier and naturalized citizen swears to uphold — wold be like hot dogs or apple pie in our political system.  Who’s against the Constitution?  Yet at times, no subject seems to stew the bowels of liberals more than the idea that we should — or even can — be loyal to it.

An obstacle to their ambitions; the idea that we should–or can– be loyal to it; the game is to mock and sneer; the Constitution threatens the whole liberal project.  That should tell you how very important this controversy is.

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