American Elephants

Ten Sci-Fi Weapons That Actually Exist Now. by The Elephant's Child

Those little green or brown plastic army men become more outdated every day. The look of things is changing, the gear looks like it came out of some science fiction adventure. This article from Wired pictures ten weapons from a very real sci-fi arsenal. Laser weapons, robots, sonic blasters and puke rays — all real, and some have already made it to the battlefield. These futuristic weapons are being tested today. Veterans won’t recognize the battlefield. The field of weapons is always changing. It’s been a long time since Kentucky long rifles, muzzle loaders and powder horns, and the descendants of the Gatling gun are unrecognizable. Time marches on.

Happy Thanksgiving, and Are You Wearing Hairnets? by The Elephant's Child

Tee hee. Those who believe that government is good and more government probably better, need to really think, and try to make connections between events in the real world and their ideas about politics. There are examples all around us, and some are so interesting that they get published for the rest of us to read about.

— “The New York City Department of Health has been dispatching workers to storm-ravaged areas across the five boroughs as part of an outreach to ensure that volunteers are informed on proper food-handling and other safety issues. But the presence of health officials has caused some confusion as to where the city is drawing the line between advisement and enforcement.”

Bobby Eustace, an 11 year veteran with the NYC fire department said that on Sunday, he and his fellow firefighters from Ladder 27 in the Bronx were issued a notice of violation for not maintaining restaurant standards in a tent set up to feed victims and first responders at Breezy Point in Queens.

It’s just a little ridiculous. The inspector came up and asked if we were wearing hairnets. I told him “We have helmets. This is a disaster area.” Then he asked if we had gloves and thermometers for food. I said, “Yeah we have rectal and oral. Which one do you want ?” He wasn’t amused.

The Health Department worker then checked off a list of violations at the relief tent, including not having an HVAC system and fire extinguisher. (Ladder 27 doesn’t count?)

He told us that he might come back to see if we fixed the violations. But what can we do? We are just going to keep going until a professional catering company can help take over, Eustace said, adding that firefighters across the cit together have been contributing about $800 a day out of their own pockets to feeding victims in areas hit hard by Sandy.

A spokeswoman for the NYC Department of Health said it was just an outreach to inform volunteers on the proper way to handle food. We went out just to give recommendations. It was only an advisory role.

“Maybe that’s the intent, but that’s not what happened,” Eustace said. Personally, I was hoping we got one of those letter grade they give restaurants. We were hoping for an A letter grade.”


Thanksgiving Thoughts by The Elephant's Child

     They must come into, and go through a vast and a roaring Wilderness, where they must be bruised with many pressures, humbled under many overbearing difficulties…before they could possess that good Land which abounded with all prosperity, flowed with milk and honey.

— The Reverend Thomas Hooker
The Application of Redemption, 1659


     The Puritans in the Wilderness—away from Old World centers of learning, far from great university libraries, threatened daily by the thousand and one hardships and perils of a savage “America—were poorly situated for elaborating a theology and disputing its fine points. For such an enterprise John Calvin in Switzerland or William Ames in Holland was much better located. But for testing a theology, for seeing whether Zion could be rebuilt if men abandoned the false foundations of the centuries since Jesus—for this New England offered a rare opportunity.
 …..So it was that although the Puritans in the New World made the Calvinist theology their point of departure, they made it precisely that and nothing else. From it they departed at once into the practical life. Down to the middle of the 18th century, there was hardly an important work of speculative theology produced in New England.

—Daniel J. Boorstin
The Americans: The Colonial Experience

     Perhaps because their basic theoretical questions had been settled, the Puritans were able to concentrate on human and practical problems. And strangely enough, those problems were a preview of the ones which would continue to trouble American political thought. They were concerned less with the ends of society than with its organization and less with making the community good than with making it effective, with insuring the integrity and self-restraint of its leaders, and with preventing its government from being oppressive.

— Daniel J. Boorstin
The Americans: The Colonial Experience


     If the world is becoming rapidly Americanized as once it became Romanized, the reason lies not in our weapons, but in the fact that others want what we have and are willing, often eager, to adopt our ways in order to have them too. The relentless spread of democracy and capitalism in recent decades, to a large extent in the light of the American example, is a peaceful and largely welcomed conquest —at least by the people if often not by the elites who have seen their own power slipping away. It is a conquest more subtle, more pervasive, and, in a likelihood, more permanent than any known before.

— John Steele Gordon
An Empire of Wealth

     Technologically the eastern Indians were Neolithic, using sophisticated tools but lacking metal. Their culture was a highly advanced one, however, using hundreds of different materials and techniques in what James Fenimore Cooper, two centuries later would call “the gentle art of the forest.” Developed over thousands of years of extracting a living from the land, these arts, taught to the e=settlers, would more than once save them from disaster and even extinction as they struggled to establish themselves in the unfamiliar New World.
…..The more technologically advanced culture that these settlers brought with them and traded with the Indians, however, would, in turn destroy the latter. Once the Indians became used to the superior metal tools,cloth, and firearms of the Europeans, the skills needed to use the raw materials at hand began to disappear. Before long, the Indians had no choice but to trade for what they needed on increasingly unequal terms and inevitably, lost their economic sovereignty. Once that was gone, their political sovereignty and the rest of their culture soon followed.

— John Steele Gordon
An Empire of Wealth

Thanksgiving Greetings From The Marvelous Michael Ramirez. by The Elephant's Child

(click to enlarge)

A Few Words From Mark Steyn That I Liked: by The Elephant's Child

The one identity we’re not encouraged to trumpet is the one that enables us to trumpet all the others; our identity as citizens of a very particular kind of society, built on the rule of law, property rights, freedom of expression and the universal franchise.


The framework that the Founding Fathers devised to unite a baker’s dozen of small homogeneous colonies on the Atlantic coast roved strong enough to expand across a continent and halfway round the glove to Hawaii.  That’s why the British have successfully exported Westminster constitutions to Belize, Papua New Guinea, and India, the world’s largest democracy, mainly Hindu but with a minority population of 150 million Muslims (that’s some minority) who to their credit have no interest in the fetid swamp of militant Islamism in which so many of their co-religionists elsewhere are festering.  Of the world’s fifty most free nations, half were once ruled by Britain.  That’s the sort of thing most countries would boast about, not teach in schools as a shameful legacy of oppression.

“Unlearning Liberty” by The Elephant's Child

Greg Lukianoff, president of FIRE, on Unlearning Liberty, talks about the problem of campus censorship, speech  codes that limit free speech, and the failure to understand the First Amendment. FIRE does a wonderful job for kids who run afoul of speech codes and the nonsensical idea that no matter what, you must not offend anyone.

Reports That Came Out After The Election by The Elephant's Child

Now they tell us. There are an array of things that have come out since the election that show just how weak the economy is, and demonstrate why President Obama would prefer to be off doing a photo-op in the far East, where no one is asking uncomfortable questions about things like the recovery, for instance.

Poverty is climbing, just in time for Thanksgiving. California is the most spectacular failure of our time. A beautiful state with natural wealth that once seemed to be a land of opportunity.40 years of liberal governance have brought the state to destitution. The government is broke and productive citizens and their businesses are fleeing the state for anywhere where they will be better treated. Calls up my favorite Walter Wriston quotation:

Capital will go where it is wanted and stay where it is well treated. It will flee from manipulation or onerous regulation of its value or use and no governmental power can restrain it for long.

The Golden State’s poverty rate is a whopping 23.5 percent — higher than the District of Columbia, at 23.2 percent and even Florida at 19.5 percent. California does have a higher cost of living, but cities are going bankrupt right and left. People are packing up and moving out, an action common to Democrat-run states who are losing their wealthiest and most productive citizens. In the meantime, San Francisco is banning nudity, except for parades.

Earnings are falling. Real average hourly earnings dropped in October for the third months in a row, and are now down 2% from what they were when Obama took office. National Restaurant chains are moving to reduce employees hours to 28. Obama lowered the definition of full-time work to 30 hours a week, to jack up the number of full-time-workers, so they have to go below that to make them part-time. This is because of the onerous costs and fines when ObamaCare takes effect on Jan.1.

Food-stamp enrollment is exploding. Another report, conveniently timed for release after the election, found food stamp enrollment has skyrocketed by more than 420,000 in August.The number of people on food stamps has climbed more than 15 million under Obama. They would probably prefer to have jobs. A bipartisan group of Democrat and Republican Senators have requested the White House reconsider it’s position on the Keystone XL pipeline, which would provide hundreds of needed jobs in construction and thousands of spinoff jobs.

Inflation is creeping up.The annual inflation rate climbed to 2.2% in October, the third consecutive monthly increase. Perhaps you’ve noticed the shrinking size of a what used to be a 5 lb. sack of sugar or flour.

Coal-fired power plants are closing. A report from the Liberal Union of concerned Scientists released a week after the election finds that as many as 353 coal-fired plants will close as a result of Obama’s environmental regulations. If you have power outages this winter, contact the White House.

Small Banks are disappearing. Fortune reported 3 days after the election that the “overwhelming conclusion” of industry analysts was that Dodd-Frank would cause thousands of small banks to disappear. One month before the election, the same reporter at the same magazine blasted Romney for saying during a presidential debate that Dodd-Frank was” killing regional and small banks.”

Yes, it’s a weak recovery. It didn’t have to be like this. It is weak because of poor choices made. We could change direction.


You Won, Why Are You So Angry? by The Elephant's Child

Steven Hayward has an article in the post-election “Now What” edition of National Review,behind a subscriber firewall. He included the lede in a post at Powerline, which is worth consideration:

Conservatives are natural pessimists, based on a realism about fallible human nature that fuels our opposition to the coercive utopianism of the Left. The Founders shared this pessimism about human nature and the weakness of democracy, and kept it at the forefront of their minds as they designed our political institutions: “If men were angels,” and all that. But the conservative pessimism after the GOP’s poor showing in this election is  overdone. The Republican party and the conservative movement were said to be finished after Barry Goldwater’s landslide loss in 1964, and again in 1976, when the aftermath of Watergate and Jimmy Carter’s narrow presidential win installed Democratic supermajorities in both houses of Congress. In 1977, voters who identified with the Republican party fell to an all-time low of 21 percent.

What has surprised me is the number of angry lefties calling in to Conservative talk shows, furious that Republicans are not wallowing enough in their defeat, and not giving up and just quitting our repugnant habit of disagreeing with them.

If you start looking for it, you will find a common rage among Democrats that we have the gall to disagree with them. It’s very odd, but I suspect it is because they have no answers to our arguments, and that makes them even angrier. A “Win at All Costs” goal may get you across the finish line, but it doesn’t offer much in the good government line.

Dirty Secrets at the EPA by The Elephant's Child

What do you suppose President Obama’s initial instruction were to his agency heads: Lisa Jackson at the EPA, Dr. Steven Chu at Energy, Ken Salazar at Interior and Tom Vilsack at Agriculture? “Go forth and regulate. Wrap American business in enough red tape to hamstring their efforts to grow or prosper. Restrict energy wherever you can, favoring 21st Century green power, use lots of ethanol— fuel of the future, and try to get rid of dirty coal.”

One would hope that such orders were improbable, but the results would seem to indicate something along those lines. Thanks to the EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice, public grants of up to $30,000 are being made available to anyone able to claim to build “healthy, sustainable and green communities” or create “green collar jobs.”

I’m not sure what “environmental justice” is. We have a system of justice already, formulated by Legislature, supposedly expressing the will of the people, and administered by the judiciary. It is called the Judicial System. So what is this other thing? Environmental justice must be something outside the regular judicial system, perhaps emanating from the EPA which seems to have its own rules.

Oddly enough, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is already in deepwater with both a federal Court and Congress in a case alleging that it conducted illegal experiments on human beings over the past decade.  Based on Freedom of Information Act released documents, the EPA is being accused of exposing hundreds of people over the last decade to extraordinarily high levels of air pollutants, including diesel exhaust and particulate matter known as PM2.5. The experiments were run at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.

Steve Milloy’s excellent Junk Science website has followed the story. “Many study subjects were health-impaired; suffering from asthma, metabolic syndrome, and old age (up to 75 years). Financially needy, they enrolled in these experiments for $12 per hour.” As laboratory rats.

The EPA began imposing restrictions on the use of PM2.5, a major component of diesel exhaust fumes in 1997, after it found that long-term exposure could be fatal. The EPA further tightened regulations in 2004, and said it believed PM2.5 could actually kill after short-term exposure.  EPA administrator Lisa Jackson even testified before Congress in September 2011 that “particulate matter causes premature death. It doesn’t make you sick.  It’s directly causal to dying sooner than you should.” The EPA, as a result, imposed stringent regulations regarding PM2.5, all predicated on their own determination that it’s a killer.

When the Reagan administration took office and found similar types of experiments being conducted, it immediately banned them. No such action has so far been taken  in the case of the EPA. It was just let’s just experiment on real people — for the greater good. If federal law finds the EPA culpable, criminal proceedings could follow.

The EPA has been no stranger in federal courts, or state courts. Their enthusiasm for shutting down the coal industry is challenged by a new study is further bad news for the agency. The report Economic implications of Recent and Anticipated EPA Regulations Affecting the Electricity Sector claims EPA regulations affecting the U.S. Coal industry would cost 1.5 million jobs over the next presidential term. CO2 emissions have fallen sharply in the U.S., without regulation, due to increased use of natural gas. The NERA study warns that EPA regulations affecting coal-fired electricity power generation would cost in industry $200 to $220 billion from 2013 to 2034.

The EPA is set to regulate the largest “polluters” to reduce the amount of CO2 emitted to the air. Yet CO2,which we exhale, is a natural  fertilizer that makes plants grow. At the Congressional hearing in March dealing with this regulation, Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) asked the EPA’s Chief of Air Programs and Greenhouse Gas Regulations if she knew what the level of CO2 is right now in the atmosphere. She said she didn’t have that figure. In greenhouses, growers raise the levels of CO2 to 1,000 parts per million  to increase growth. It is currently around 390 ppm. The levels of CO2 in the atmosphere have been both much higher and much lower in the past. It is not at all certain that so-called global warming is caused by CO2 in the atmosphere. We have not had any warming for the past 15 years, it has been both much warmer in the past and much cooler.  We are  presently in a cooling phase.

The EPA has spent much of the last four years in court, and their batting average is not good. And there is lots more to come. EPA administrators have been using a series of hidden or “alias” email accounts, which is against federal law. “Richard Windsor” is one of the alias names used by Ms. Jackson to keep her email from those who ask for it. So there will be more court appearances. Lisa Jackson is now said to be departing the agency and returning to her native New Jersey. Quite a flood of people departing the Obama administration.

Has the Government Gone Completely Nuts? by The Elephant's Child

The Central Intelligence Agency, the CIA, created in 1947 by President Harry Truman to replace the Wartime OSS, now protects us all — by operating a special center dedicated to global warming. What?

It was launched under President Obama in 2009, and known as the Center on Climate Change and National Security, and it operates under a cloak of secrecy that rejects all public-records requests. It is considered an exclusive unit that is led by “senior specialists.”

As the agency suffers through a huge scandal this month, it has come out with a startling report exposing the national security dangers of global warming. Climate change is accelerating at such a fast pace that it will put severe strains on U.S. military and Intelligence agencies in coming years, the CIA -sanctioned study found. The changes will trigger increasingly disruptive developments around the world as well.

Scientific evidence indicates that the global climate is moving outside the bounds of past experience and can be expected to put new stresses on societies around the world, prompting examination of a variety of plausible scenarios through which climate change might pose or alter security risks for the United States,” according to a summary from the report. It goes on to offer an improved understanding of the links between climate and security as well as the ability to anticipate potential security risks arising from “climate phenomena.

Keeping with the CIA’s primary mission of gathering foreign intelligence, the report focuses on climate-related “social and political stresses outside the United States.” It outlines security risks that might “exceed the capacity of affected populations to cope and respond.” How exactly will this occur? Seemingly unrelated events exacerbated by climate change will cause an unpredictable crisis in water and energy supplies, food markets and public health systems…

Well, climate is changing, just as it always does. We haven’t had any warming at all for over fifteen years, and the planet has been cooling slightly. But these guys seem to be getting their advice from the Society of Environmental Journalists who don’t talk to scientists either, they learn from each other. If the EPA keeps insisting that we put our food crops in our gas tanks, we may have some shortages of food supplies. But there is no sign yet of another Little Ice Age.  But that doesn’t seem to be what the Center has in mind:

Its charter is not the science of climate change, but the national security impact of phenomena such as desertification, rising sea levels, population shifts, and heightened competition for natural resources. The Center will provide support to American policymakers as they negotiate, implement, and verify international agreements on environmental issues. That is something the CIA has done for years. “Decision makers need information and analysis on the effects climate change can have on security. The CIA is well positioned to deliver that intelligence,” said Director Leon Panetta.

Why on earth is the CIA involved? President Obama may be the last of the ‘true believers’ in alarmist climate change along with Al Gore and Bill McKibben. But it’s not just the CIA. According to a new report on financial waste in the Department of Defense, the Pentagon initiated more renewable energy projects in 2010 — the year measured— than any other federal agency, including the Energy Department and the EPA. Senator Tom Coburn released a report highlighting Defense programs that are wasteful, duplicative, or superfluous:

The federal government launched 679 renewable energy initiatives in 2010 including those at the Department of Energy. The Department of Defense accounted for 116 initiatives,more than any other department or agency. By contrast, DOE started less than 100.

There is currently no comprehensive inventory of which federal agencies are implementing renewable energy-related initiatives and the types of initiatives they are implementing. In light of efforts to balance the federal budget and target spending on activities that will most effectively meet national needs, the lack of available information on agencies’ renewable energy initiatives has further raised congressional concerns about the ability to identify whether efforts are fragmented, duplicative, or operating at cross-purposes.

The military’s “green push,” notes Heritage, needlessly bleeds scarce resources away from core missions to advance a political agenda.

The Pentagon and the environmental movement seem to have found common cause by linking America’s national security to the basic tenets of the President’s green agenda. The DOD bureaucracy benefits by securing resources to engage in climate change and alternative energy research, and the green movement benefits by keeping its agenda alive. Unfortunately, there are real costs for national security, energy technology, the taxpayer, and the American consumer.

So al Qaeda is back, stronger than ever, the Middle East is aflame, the president is attempting to burnish his nonexistent foreign policy credentials by visiting Myanmar, and demonstrating how peaceful he is by cutting the military back to bare bones in a dangerous world. He will save the world by running what military we have left on ethanol?

ADDENDUM:According to The Hill’s E² Wire, 11/19/12, The CIA Center on Climate Change and National Security has closed. The agency’s work on climate change has been transferred to a new office.

“The CIA for several years has studied the national security implications of climate change. As part of a broader realignment of analytic resources, this work continues to be performed by a dedicated team in a new office that looks at economic and energy matters affecting America’s national security. The mission and the resources devoted to it remain essentially unchanged,” Ebitz said in a statement to The Hill.

The CIA is one of multiple federal agencies to explore the nexus between climate change and security — sometimes drawing GOP criticism in the process.

The article does not identify “the new office.” The most interesting description of the previous office says “it operates under a cloak of secrecy that rejects all public record requests.”

A Note to the Media: by The Elephant's Child

This may surprise you, but I’m not interested in the salacious details of General David Petraeus’ affair, nor those of his biographer. No interest. Zero.

What I am interested in — is why our Ambassador to Libya was in Benghazi, unguarded,  at a facility with clearly inadequate protection, in a city so dangerous that other nations had long since pulled out? Who thought this was a good idea and why? If the facility in Benghazi was important, why wasn’t it better protected? If it wasn’t worth protecting, why was the Ambassador there?

Images and information started flowing to the American capitol almost immediately. There was apparently a drone overhead. A battle raged at the poorly protected consulate and at the “annex” for nine hours while people died, and while those in the administration watched and did nothing. Why?

The two brave SEALS who were apparently contract employees of the CIA who stepped forward to rescue other workers at the consulate or the annex called repeatedly for help, which was denied. Indecision? Attempt to avoid getting involved? We have had numerous excuses, lots of avoidance, no answers. Many of the answers should be provided by Secretary Clinton who was in charge of the Ambassador, the workers at the consulate, and the security provisions for them.

Whose decision was it that the Ambassador, the technology guy, and the two former SEALS should be there and for what reason? Why was there no extra security on 9/11, let alone just ordinary security? When they were attacked, why was there no instant response? Why was there no response for the nine hours of the battle? This says to all employees of the American government, including the military, that we don’t have their back, and they cannot count on the American government for help or rescue.

Both the State Department and the Obama Administration have a long record of refusing to accept the blame for anything. Whatever it is, it was Bush’s fault. And a convenient hurricane and storm surge presented the opportunity for the press to turn to the more comfortable territory of storm damage and the General and Sex. The storm damage is real, but the Petraeus scandal is a sideshow.

U.N.Secretary Rice’s orchestrated tour of the Sunday shows to spread lies about the catastrophe, far too late to be believable, destroyed any hope she might have held of being Secretary of State. Lying to the American people may be common at the State Department, but you can’t seek nomination with that record. The President, in turn,was indignant. Not about the four needlessly dead Americans, but that anyone would dare to criticize his ambassador to the U.N.  It’s clear that lying to the American people does not rank as particularly important in his book.

There’s an ongoing investigation, we are told. It will apparently ongo until we have forgotten entirely and can’t remember what the fuss was all about. I care far less about finding which terrorist from the al Qaeda associated group was responsible, than in finding which members of the administration were responsible for our lack of response.

The real scandal is the American media, who have forgotten what journalism is supposed to be about, if they ever knew.  Your job is to hold feet to the fire, ask difficult questions, search for truth; and attempt to keep the government honest. If you can’t do that, why are you there? How do you justify your existence?

A Little History for Today. by The Elephant's Child
November 17, 2012, 9:10 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Freedom, History, Politics, Taxes | Tags: , ,

Ronald Reagan in 1975, on Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show.”



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