American Elephants

“D” for Driving Right Into the Abyss. by The Elephant's Child

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The marvelous Michael Ramirez has a gift for the visual metaphor. Obama went on and on for months with his idea of Republicans putting us in the ditch, and ‘R’ for  reverse and Republican, and ‘D’ for drive and Democrat. You can see his wonderful political cartoons ever day at, and purchase his book containing many of his best as well.

This time it’s Obama and crew who are driving us into the pit. It seems incomprehensible that they can look at our budgetary situation and resort to budget gimmicks that actually increase spending, and do nothing to actually improve our budget mess.  He even wants another $300 billion or so for another stimulus.

Paul Ryan on “The Path to Prosperity” by The Elephant's Child

While everyone else seems to be trying desperately to avoid making waves, Paul Ryan is trying to save the country.  In the face of Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats’ absolute refusal to produce a budget for nearly three years, it is enormously encouraging to have someone there — wading in to the intricacies of the budget — and trying to find a way out.

A lot of us regret that he is not running for President, but he believes he can make a greater difference where he is, and that seems to be exactly the case. Godspeed, Mr. Ryan.

Absolutely Awesome Lego Science Models by The Elephant's Child
March 20, 2012, 7:29 am
Filed under: Fun n Games, Science/Technology | Tags: , ,

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Those wonderful little blocks do more and more. Max Shepherd, a biomedical engineering major built a robotic Lego arm that mimics a human arm and hand’s range of motion. He has been building Lego models since he was 10 years old.  His Lego limb can flex and spread its fingers, curl its thumb, make a fist, rotate its wrist, and if desired— flip people off.

This article from Wired has sixteen fascinating science models; things undreamed of when you were ten years old. So if your kid gets all wrapped-up in making models from his Lego blocks, it may be more than just a game — it may be a fabulous future career.

Just don’t leave them on the floor. It really hurts when you step on a block in your bare feet.

Obama Resets Our Relations With The World! by The Elephant's Child

(This clip comes from Danish Broadcasting Corporation DR’s Detektor. The host is Thomas Buch-Anderson.)

UK Prime Minister David Cameron told a state dinner given by the President of the United States in his honor this week, that Barack Obama has “pressed the reset button on the moral authority of the entire free world”

Mr. Cameron’s effusions were met with some scorn at home. British journalist Melanie Phillips summed up Mr. Obama’s “reset” of relations:

  • Neutered American power abroad and extended the reach of the state at home
  • Appeased Iran while dumping on its designated target of annihilation, Israel
  • Appeased the Palestinians while dumping on the state they vow to destroy, Israel
  • Given Iran time to bring its genocide nuclear bomb to fruition
  • Helped consolidate in power the repressive and murderous Iranian regime by ignoring the plight of its political dissidents, women, gays and other victims of Iranian state terror
  • Allowed Iran to become the regional hegemon, thus in turn pushing moderate Arab states into its arms
  • Empowered the fanatical Islamist Muslim Brotherhood throughout the Arab world
  • Helped bring to power a regime in Egypt which is oppressive to its own people and hostile to Israel and the west
  • Helped bring to power a regime in Libya which is oppressive to its own people and hostile to Israel and the west
  • Stood by and done nothing while President Assad butchers untold thousands of Syrian citizens
  • Surrendered in Afghanistan
  • Abandoned Iraq to the enemies of the west
  • Downplayed Islamist aggression at home, eg by declaring the 2009 Fort Hood massacre, where an Islamist terrorist killed 13 American soldiers and wounded 29 more, ‘work place violence’ not a terrorist attack
  • Taken the side of Argentinian aggression against Britain over the Falkland Islands (at least until this week when he agreed to return to a neutral position)
  • Sought to deny freedom of religious conscience at home by forcing Catholics to sign up to abortion and contraception services (and his backtracking compromise was scarcely any better)
  • Attacked free enterprise, as in his blockage of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, while ruinously increasing American debt through public spending designed to increase state power over people’s lives.

And that’s just one British journalist.

What is Conventional Wisdom and Where Does It Come From? by The Elephant's Child

Talking points come down from Think Progress or Media Matters and are repeated  in the same exact words by liberal pundits and members of Congress, over and over. We see examples of the technique constantly. At the moment it is the “War on Women,”  It’s sort of a “throw it up against the wall and see what sticks.’ If repetition works to make it seem like reality, they will continue. If it doesn’t work, they will either redefine the problem, or simply go on to the next one. Repetition is the key, as I explained. The very quotable Richard Mitchell said it succinctly:

The intellectual climate of the nation today came from the public schools, where almost every one of us was schooled in the work of the mind.  We are a people who imagine that we are weighing important issues when we exchange generalizations and well-known opinions.  We decide how to vote or what to buy according to whim or fancied self-interest, either of which is easily engendered in us by the manipulation of language, which we have neither the will nor the ability to analyze.  We believe that we can reach conclusions without having the faintest idea of the difference between inferences and statements of fact, often without any suspicions that there are such things and that they are different.  We are easily persuaded and repersuaded by what seems authoritative, without any notion of those attributes and abilities that characterize authority.  We do not notice elementary fallacies in logic, it doesn’t even occur to us to look for them, few of us are even aware that such things exist. We make no regular distinction between those kinds of things that can be known and objectively verified and those that can only be believed or not. Nor are we likely to examine, when we believe or not, the induced predispositions that may make us do the one or the other. We are easy prey.

We are easily persuaded by what is fashionable, or popular — or cool.  A celebrity is defined as someone who is famous for being famous — granted, many have actually accomplished something; we usually identify them by their accomplishment. But there are others who are famous simply because we have seen their names or pictures. We make judgments about people by how they are dressed, or by their appearance, their grooming. We are drawn to sunny happy people, cute children, puppies and kittens, American flags and apple pie.

Politicians play on our perceptions with all the tools of their profession. They know all the tricks. We don’t have to fall for it.  Here is a fascinating social experiment  about perception. Food for thought.  I guess awareness of our own fallibility and a healthy sense of humor are the best defense.

Getting hard to keep the sense of humor active.

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