American Elephants


Anti-Bullying Bill Infringes on Free Speech by The Elephant's Child

Being opposed to bullying is a currently righteous position. Who could possibly be in favor of bullying, being mean, offending, or cruel — offending? Where do you draw the line? How about right where the Bill of Rights does? Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech. The current flap is about celebrity Paula Deen apparently using the dreaded “N” word 20 or 30 years ago. I am not familiar with Ms. Deen, who I understand is a celebrity chef and writes cookbooks. What I have gleaned from the media is that decades ago, she used a forbidden word, and for that crime, she is to be shunned, disgraced, her business ruined, and her livelihood destroyed. Really?

This has gone too far. We have called it “political correctness” and don’t exactly know what to do with it. We cringe, try to laugh it off, and are embarrassed by those who insist on taking it seriously. If a male, in the workplace, touches a woman’s arm to get her attention, he may find himself in trouble with Human Resources for a sexual assault, or for that matter for telling a woman that she looks nice. The U.S. military has in recent years become politically correct. The increasing inclusion of women and homosexuals has added to the tension. The current military concern is about sexual assault. One would think it would be about winning wars, but that’s not on the agenda. Unfortunately it turns out that most of the victims of sexual assault — are men.

You must not offend. If you offend, you will be punished. What offends depends entirely on the person offended, not on your own judgment or intent. The punishment will be dire, because the object is to stamp out all offensive speech. Or to rephrase it’s about control.

Life is hard, bad things will happen. You will be offended, perhaps deeply. Your feelings will be hurt. You will be embarrassed, humiliated, and shamed.  There is no law that anyone can make that will protect you from offense. When you have the opportunity, you might remind people of the meaning of that precious First Amendment.

 



The Bill of Rights Was Ratified 222 Years Ago. How Come They Still Don’t Get It? by The Elephant's Child

“I was expelled from Syracuse University for comments that I posted on Facebook.”

Syracuse University School of Education graduate student Matthew Werenczak was just trying to finish his masters degree early when he decided to take a summer course that involved tutoring at a local middle school. But after a comment he posted on Facebook about an experience he had at the school caught the attention of the Syracuse administration, Werenczak would be lucky if he graduated at all.

On the first day of Werenczak’s tutoring program at Danforth Middle School, he and another Syracuse student were introduced to their students by a member of the Concerned Citizens Action Program (CCAP). They happened to be the only two white people in the room. Shortly after the introduction, in the presence of Werenczak and the other white student teacher, the CCAP member, who is black, said that he thought that the city schools should hire more teachers from historically black colleges.

“This [comment] offended me, as well as the other student teacher in the room,” says Werenczak in FIRE’s latest video. “It just seemed inappropriate considering that the two student teachers happened to be from Syracuse and a not a historically black college.”

So Werenczak took to Facebook to write about the incident.

“Just making sure we’re okay with racism,” wrote Werenczak. “It’s not enough I’m … tutoring in the worst school in the city, I suppose I oughta be black or stay in my own side of town.”

“I was kind of trying to see if my friends or other peers, classmates would have a similar reaction to what I had,” says Werenczak about the reason for his posting the comment.

One reaction Werenczak didn’t see coming was an expulsion from the School of Education for the Facebook comments, which the school described as “unprofessional, offensive, and insensitive.” The school told Werenczak he could avoid expulsion by voluntarily withdrawing, or he could fulfill several requirements in order to gain a chance of “re-admittance.”

When Werenczak fulfilled the requirements and was still not readmitted to the school, he contacted FIRE for help.

“Hours after FIRE took the case public, Syracuse University backed down and I was brought back [into the program] and later graduated.”

Why is it always the educators in our universities that don’ t grasp freedom of speech. Our colleges and universities are  hotbeds of attempting to censor speech that they don’t like. Thank goodness for FIRE.



The White House, Gutted and Rebuilt From the Inside Out. by The Elephant's Child

white-house-construction-1950
During the Depression and the War years of the Roosevelt administration, the White House’s annual repair budget was neglected. When Harry Truman became president in 1945, he wanted to build an addition on the south side of the West Wing. Ground was broken and appropriations made by Congress, but Congress had second thoughts and recalled the funding. That irritated Mr. Truman, so he decided to build a balcony on the South Portico using money already allotted for White House maintenance. Usual flap, public objection, but the balcony was constructed according to plan.

Once they started poking around the construction of the White House, it was discovered that the main body of the mansion was structurally unsound. Floors no longer just creaked, they swayed. The president’s bathtub was sinking into the floor. A leg of Margaret’s piano broke through the floor in what is today the Private Dining Room. Engineers did a thorough assessment of the whole building, and found plaster in a corner of the East Room sagging as much as 18 inches. Wooden beams had been weakened by cutting and drilling for plumbing and wiring that the mansion did not have over 150 years, and the addition of the steel roof and full third floor in 1927 added weight the building could no longer handle. They declared the whole building on the verge of collapse.

Plans were discussed to demolish the building and build it in the same design, but Truman went to Congress and requested the funding to rebuild the White House from the inside out, leaving the stout brick outer walls, largely on the same plan as the original house— very much the way President James Madison had done after the British burned it in the War of 1812.

The old interior was dismantled, leaving the house as a shell with two modern wings. Some of the existing interior detail was saved, especially fireplace mantles. The mansion was then rebuilt, using concrete and steel beams in place of the original wooden posts.

During the reconstruction, Harry and Bess Truman moved to Blair House across the street. Blair House was a combination of two adjoining houses built by the prominent Blair family. It became the official guest residence for visiting dignitaries in 1942, as it is today.

The Telegraph, in Britain, just published a fascinating group of pictures of the White House being gutted and restored. The Trumans moved back in, in March of 1952.  Here is a link to the White House Museum for a tour of the Mansion, the only tour you will get in the present, as President Obama has shut down the tours, which have been conducted by volunteers, to erroneously claim that saving the money they didn’t pay the volunteers was necessary because of the dreaded sequester.  Enjoy your tour. You will see more on this virtual tour than you would in the White House anyway.



Our Northern Border is More Complicated Than You Thought! by The Elephant's Child

With a new Immigration Bill being battled in Congress, we’re hearing a lot about the southern border and all its problems, but we don’t hear as much about our northern border. It too is a long border, but with some surprising history and  odd facts. That straight line you see on maps is not quite as simple as it looks.

Borders are complicated. We had wars over our southern border which we won, and some Mexicans want a do-over. That’s not the way it works. We had several wars over our northern border, our Revolution, the War of 1812, and don’t forget the Pig War  and 54-40 or Fight!  If you don’t know that history, you’ll have to look it up. This is a fun video.

(h/t Vanderleun)



Mexico is Outraged! How Dare You Try to Secure Your Border! by The Elephant's Child

Mexodus-24-bridge-flags-web

With Obama off on his African Vacation, the news has been much centered on the battle over an immigration bill in the Senate. The bill that emerged from the Senate would double the number of Border Patrol agents along the southern border with Mexico, and the number of drones guarding them from above would triple. The measure also would provide 700 miles of fencing along the border and around-the-clock surveillance flights with drones. (Since there are no teeth in the bill, and huge amounts of pork, it is unlikely to be taken seriously by the House.)

This has ignited fury in Mexico, where officials rushed to any available microphone to flood the Spanish-language media expressing their outrage. One renowned academic insisted that deploying more federal agents is tantamount to an increase in human rights violations. One Mexican congressman (Fernando Belaunzaran) said “we are friends and neighbors” as is repeated ad nauseam, but the U.S. is about to militarize the border with Mexico as if we were at war.”

The fact remains that our southern border is dangerously porous, and it’s not just humble migrants seeking a better life who cross the border. Drugs, criminal gangs, and terrorists are all part of the mix. But our hypocritical friends south of the border prefer that we have open borders, for it relieves their problems with their poorest citizens, and helps to support their economy.

Not only that, but the remittances, such as Western Union Moneygrams from the United States represent the second largest source of income for Mexico, second only to the Mexican oil industry. In 2009, Mexican workers, mostly illegal aliens, sent home $21.2 billion in such transfers. According to the Inter-American Development Bank, all of Latin America received $69.2 billion in remittances from the U.S. in 2009 alone. The U.S. Post Office now offers now offers a wire transfer service, but only to Latin American countries.  In May 2012, wire transfers totaled $2.34 billion.

Between June 2009 and June 2010 immigrants have gained 656,000 jobs while U.S. born workers lost 1.2 million jobs during the same period. The Pew study found that 57% of those referred to as “immigrant” workers were actually non-citizens.

Mexico annually deports more illegal aliens than the United States does. Under Mexican law, it is a felony to be an illegal alien in Mexico. Mexico welcomes only foreigners who will be useful to Mexican society. Foreigners are admitted into Mexico “according to their possibilities of contributing to national progress.” Immigration officials must ensure that immigrants will be useful elements and that they have the necessary funds for their sustenance” and for their dependents. Foreigners will be barred if their presence upsets “the equilibrium of the national demographics, when they do not behave like good citizens in their own country, when they have broken Mexican laws, and when they are not found to be physically or mentally healthy.

A National Population Registry keeps track of ‘every single individual who comprises the population of the country,” and verifies each individual’s identity. A National Catalog of Foreigners tracks foreign tourists and immigrants and assigns each individual with a unique tracking number. And don’t even think of fake immigration papers or false signatures. Foreigners who violate the terms of their visa may get 6 years in prison.  There’s more, lots more, but you get the idea.

Mexico has its own problems with corruption and poverty, criminals and the drug cartels, but sending their own problems across the border because it is financially attractive helps them avoid cleaning house at home. We need to understand what the demonstrations here and the hysteria coming from Mexican officials actually mean. It is more complicated than just a matter of Democrats wanting more low-skilled, low-paid migrants to become reliable Democrat voters.




Obama v. Putin. It’s Not a Fair Fight. by The Elephant's Child

aaaobamaputinSaid Rudy Giuliani :

“Who would you
give greater odds
would catch
a fugitive,
a former KGB agent
or a former
community
organizer?..

Obama doesn’t
know how to
play this game.
This is why,
I wasn’t kidding,
this is an
experienced
manipulator
of intelligence,
of world power,
against a man
who has extremely
not very
well-developed
views and
no experience
doing this,”
Giuliani said.

“This is the price
we pay for
voting for an
inexperienced
president. …
This is incompetence
because we
elected a president
who was never
prepared
to be president,
and he
hasn’t figured
the job out
yet.

 

(h/t: Vanderleun)



“When Big Government Saved America” and Other Lefty Myths by The Elephant's Child

While following a link to an article that turned out not to be of any interest, I ran across an article entitled “When Big Government Saved America.” I do try to keep up with the wandering of leftist minds, but this noxious notion made me curious.

The recent bridge collapse along I-5 north of Seattle was in some ways a freak accident, yet to many Americans it seemed emblematic of a public sector in crisis. As gridlock and dysfunction reign, the U.S. government seems to lack the capacity to adopt even the most popular and necessary measures—even to maintain the physical structures upon which American life depends. In the meantime, this crisis of the public sector is mirrored by—and fed by—Americans’ lack of faith in public institutions.

The recent bridge collapse along I-5 north of Seattle was in some ways a freak accident? No it was a freak accident. a Tractor-trailer with a too-wide load hit a major support on one section of the bridge, and it collapsed. I knew they were trying to make a big deal of it. It was not “emblematic of a public sector in crisis,” and the physical structures “upon which American life depends,” which had been surveyed in the previous 6 months, was replaced in two weeks with a temporary span.

Eighty years ago this month as Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first “hundred days” wound to a close amid the Great Depression, the United States was in far worse shape than it is today. And yet, then, the American government responded to economic catastrophe not by treating public services as extravagancies to be traded off in the name of “belt tightening,” but rather by expanding them dramatically. They not only built what by some measures was the most generous social spending regime in the world, but also a political culture in which public institutions were trusted and esteemed far more than they are today.

There was certainly generous spending. Roosevelt set right off in 1933 with the National Industrial Recovery Act (the NRA), the most revolutionary act ever. It allowed American industrialists to collaborate to set the prices of their products, the wages and hours that went into making them. Antitrust laws were suspended. Leaders of industries were invited to sit down together and write “codes of fair competition” that would be binding on everyone in their industry, and subject to a fine or jail term if he violated the code. So what you had was a conspiracy against the public, and that went well.

FDR never had to work, and always had an allowance from his mother. Everyone who knew him agreed that he had no business sense and no financial sense. He failed in every business venture he undertook, and did not learn from his mistakes. But he was charming.  FDR was quite sure that price-fixing was a good idea, and that competition was a bad thing. As Henry Morgenthau, the Secretary of the Treasury, and one of the architects of the New Deal said:

We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. …We have never made good on our promises. I say after eight years of this administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started…and an enormous debt to boot.

Mason Williams, the author of this piece, and of a new book about New York City, FDR and La Guardia is apparently a newly-minted PhD in History, who will begin his first teaching job in the fall. He is a victim of conventional leftist wisdom that FDR saved America from the Great Depression. He didn’t. FDR’s vast experimentation made things worse, and the depression far longer than it needed to be. Nor did World War II end the depression. The assumption was that all the war work at home, building military equipment that put people back to work ended the downturn. But during the war wages and prices were fixed, goods were rationed, and the war materials the factories turned out were consumed in the course of the war. It took quite a few years after the war for America to recover, as UCLA economist Lee Ohanian and Harold Cole have shown. Price-fixing never, never works.

There was a scene in Anton Myrer’s great novel of World War II, Once an Eagle, of the day Roosevelt died. When they heard the news on the radio, the woman said” The President was carrying everything on his hands. Everything. Now the fat will be in the fire, along with everything else He was so brave,” she murmured.

“FDR? Baloney” said her government insider companion, “He was a power-drunk egocentric and the prince of political manipulators. But he could make them go the way he wanted.”

That was just a novel. The myth of Roosevelt’s deft handling of two of our worst crises — the Great Depression and World War II — has endured, and encouraged the left to always try to emulate his failed policies— to our great misfortune.  That was eighty years ago, and some learn from history, while others never examine their presumptions and prejudices.



Robert Bryce Explains Energy, Somebody Tell Mr. Obama by The Elephant's Child

Robert Bryce is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a long-time journalist specializing in energy issues. His book: Power Hungry  is a guide to all things fuel. This brief conversation with Steven Hayward at a meeting of the Breakthrough Institute covers a lot of ground. Any idea that fossil fuels can be replaced by “renewables” is utterly false.

He speaks of “scale,” to help us understand. We use about 250 million barrels of oil-equivalents a day. But instead of talking millions of barrels he calls it instead— Saudi Arabias, for 8.2 million barrels of oil.

We use 30 Saudi Arabias —primary energy, all forms, a day.
That works out to:

  • 10 Saudi Arabias of oil
  • 9 Saudi Arabias of coal
  • 7  Saudi Arabias of natural gas
  • 2 Saudi Arabias of hydropower
  • 1.5 Saudi Arabias of nuclear energy
  • 0.5 Saudi Arabias of all non-hydro renewables

He explains “energy density”— how much energy (or oomph) is contained in a given amount of fuel.

Gas has 80 times as much energy density as the most powerful lithium batteries. If we were going to replace our existing power sources with wind — wind contains only one watt of power per square meter— we would need a wind farm of three hundred thousand square kilometers, or an area the size of Italy.

The idea that we can just shut down our coal-fired power plants and supplant them with renewable energy is not going to work. It’s called brownouts and blackouts.

(h/t: Powerline)

 



Matt Ridley: Fossil Fuels Are Greening the Planet! by The Elephant's Child

In this modern age we are inclined to be perhaps over-impressed with our technological abilities. New things appear every day, and they seem so cool that we expect more than  they can deliver.  Devising computer programs to simulate the environment seemed like a natural. You just put in the science that we know for sure and what we’re pretty sure of, and we may have to add some  educated guesses, and voilá we can predict what the climate will be in 5, 10, 50 years —why not? That’s where we got in trouble. We thought we knew more than we did, and some of what we thought we knew turned out to be wrong, well, that’s just how things go astray.

And they did go astray. The models told them that the climate of the earth was inexorably warming. You’ve heard Obama: he wants to stop the rise of the seas, save you all from hurricanes, (he didn’t do too well with Sandy), and he wants to do it all with the use of wind and solar— clean energy — and get rid of nasty, dirty fossil fuels. I posted this video of a lecture by Matt Ridley earlier this year, but it seems to be time to post it again.

He does a splendid job of explaining the connections, why  things have changed and what our use of fossil fuels had done to make the planet greener, use less land, feed more people,  It is absolutely amazing, and utterly devastating to the entire argument of the Greens.  Fossil fuels are good? Our whole effort to stop the use of fossil fuels is misguided? Yes, but don’t expect anyone to change their mind. It is not a thought process, it is ideology, or religion, and they are true believers.



The Greening of Planet Earth Continues by The Elephant's Child

The true story of “Carbon Pollution.” Somebody tell Mr. Obama.



Obama’s Climate Action Plan to Kill Jobs, Impoverish America. by The Elephant's Child

President Obama made a dramatic speech about climate, about which he apparently knows nothing whatsoever, and headed off on his very expensive African vacation. He told students at Georgetown University that he doesn’t have “much patience for anyone who denies that this challenge is real.” The “challenge” is climate change, which nobody denies. The climate is always changing. He is concerned about “carbon pollution” —except that carbon is not “pollution” but one of the building blocks of life.

Obama actually said that “ninety-seven percent of scientists” “acknowledged that the planet is warming and human activity is contributing to it.” Well, no, that’s not true either. Scientists do question the degree to which human activity causes changes in climate, if any. It doesn’t matter if one hundred percent of all scientists acknowledge anything. Science isn’t determined by a show of hands, but by observable evidence.

It’s hard to know just what motivates Mr. Obama. If climate change is a matter of ideology, it demonstrates that Obama is not open to changing his mind when the information has changed. Richard Epstein who knows him from the University of Chicago and through his own next-door neighbor, has said that Obama does not change his mind. If he once believed something, he believes it today and tomorrow. That would indicate that at some point he received knowledge and sees no reason to change. Another possibility is the need to pay back his supporters in the Big Green non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for their support and financial backing in his elections. What is most interesting is his lack of interest in the 12 million people who are out-of-work and cannot find employment.

Mr. Obama’s “climate action plan” would be an extensive and intrusive reorganization of the entire economy. The most consequential parts of the plan would attack the U.S. electric industry, whose coal-fired plants account for at least 37% of America’s electricity. The idea that you can just shut off a whole sector and replace it with wind and solar energy is ludicrous. Wind energy may be “clean” but it isn’t constant. Promoters talk about “capacity’ which means what a turbine could produce if you had steady wind blowing at just the right speed. Doesn’t happen. Wind comes in gusts, gales, wafts, and may not blow at all for days or weeks at a time. When it does not blow, it requires backup from a conventional coal or gas-fired power plant, which must stand ready all the time to produce electricity when the wind does not blow. Ditto solar. You have noticed that the sun slides beneath the horizon each night (when you need lights) and is not visible on cloudy or stormy days.

After he ran for reelection, Obama vowed to make jobs and economic growth his number one priority. In May, a Gallup poll  and a Pew Research poll found similar priorities 86-90% said creating more jobs should be the top priority in Washington.  “Dealing with global warming” came in dead last at 28%. Gun control and immigration were only slightly more interesting.  Almost everything Obama has done this year will put an additional drag on growth.

In general, every $1 billion spent complying with an EPA rule threatens 16,000 jobs and cuts GDP by $1.2 billion, and the EPA is squirreling away writing new rules. Last month the administration quietly raised the “social cost’ of carbon by 60% in a regulatory finding about microwave  ovens.

Me. Obama also declared that he will approve the Keystone XL pipeline “only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.” Carbon is not a pollutant.The Keystone XL pipeline represents about 13,000 union construction jobs, 7,000 manufacturing jobs and an estimated 250,000 jobs over the life of the pipeline. Apparently Big Green trumps Big Labor. Labor badly wants the pipeline.

The most stunning revelation from the big climate speech is the utter contempt that Obama has for the American people. He talks concern for the economy and jobs, but his actions are devoted to killing even more.  He talks about helping the poor, but aside from welfare, there’s no there there. No jobs, don’t talk about the rise in electricity rates, talk about health (?). It would be a disaster for the American worker, but there’s always unemployment and food stamps.




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