American Elephants


The Stars and Stripes Forever, Forever New! by The Elephant's Child

I’m a big John Phillip Sousa fan, but Mr. Sousa never dreamed of this performance by Guy Van Dueser. I’m all for brass bands and especially tubas, but I love this one too.



Why Did We Fight the Korean War? by The Elephant's Child

Here’s military historian Victor Davis Hanson to explain, briefly. War is not the worst of things.



The Madness of Fighting Global Warming Will Impoverish the World, and Ignores Engineering Reality by The Elephant's Child

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Professor of Electrical Engineering at Cambridge University Dr. M.J.Kelly wrote in a peer-reviewed journal article that any attempt to fight global warming with green energy will impoverish the world.

Reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions enough to actually slow the natural warming of the globe in a measurable way simply is not possible without reducing worldwide standards of living so much that it would plunge most of the world into poverty, destitution and starvation.

Over the last 200 years, fossil fuels have provided the route out of grinding poverty for many people in the world.This trend is certain to continue for at least the next 20 years based on the technologies of scale that are available today. A rapid decarbonization is simply impossible over the next 20 years unless the trend of a growing number who succeed to improve their lot is stalled by rich and middle class people downgrading their own standard of living.
Current CO2 emissions are not falling rapidly enough to slow global warming largely because most public policy has been focused on developing green energy like wind and solar which may actually increase emissions. These energy systems do not justify the massive costs of the subsidies required to support them.
“It is clear to me that every further step along the current pathway of deploying first-generation renewable energy is locking in immature and uneconomic systems at net loss to the world standard of living. Humanity is owed a serious investigation of how we have gone so far with the decarbonization project without a serious challenge in terms of engineering reality,” Kelly wrote in a press statement.
The total amount of energy created by wind and solar is relatively small, in spite of massive subsidies in place at least since the 1970s. In 2010, wind power alone received $5 billion in subsidies, which dwarfs the $654 million that oil and gas receive in depletion allowances — which are not subsidies.  In 2015, solar and wind power accounted for only 0.6 and 4.7 percent of electricity generated in America, respectively, according to the Energy Information Administration, which does not account for the backup power supplied by conventional power plants.


Understanding the Obvious is Sometimes Difficult by The Elephant's Child

ISIS Executions
I suspect that ISIS is having trouble with their fighters losing enthusiasm for the fight. More deserters. There have been reports in recent days that they are putting the disaffected in cages and dissolving them slowly in acid baths, and/or feeding them to viscous and starving dogs.

That is the idea of terrorism of course — to defeat the enemy by striking terror into his heart. But they seem to be running out of really gruesome ways to dispose of people. Beheading is passé. They’ve tried setting victims on fire in cages, and drowning them in cages — and apparently they are still having trouble with a lack of eagerness and a desire to escape among the militants.

Is this a good sign? It does make the official position of never calling a terrorist a terrorist seem a little silly, doesn’t it. And perhaps releasing “the worst of the worst” from Guantanamo in order to please European leftists isn’t such a good idea after all.

Here’s Charles Krauthammer on “the arc of the moral universe” which Obama insists “is long, but bends towards justice.”



Technology is Changing the World, Faster Than You Think! by The Elephant's Child

Technology has advanced so rapidly that a laptop computer
today is 96% cheaper than a 1994 model
and 1,000 times better.

Some more good news from Economist Mark Perry at the
American Enterprise Institute.

bestbuy1-768x495Best Buy is currently advertising a Dell Inspiron 23.8″ Touch-Screen All-In-One computer for only $650 (without a printer), with about 1,400 tunes more hard drive space (1TB vs, 720MB) and 2,000 times more memory (8GB vs, 4MB) as the 1994 Compaq.

bestbuyYou spend $200 today for a basic laptop that has performance standards infinitely better than the notebooks available in 1994 that cost more than $5,ooo (in 2016 dollars). And you can get computers today with thousands of times more memory, speed, performance and disk storage space than computers in the mid 1990s at a fraction of the price. Sometimes we just accept these advances without really thinking about them and fail to appreciate the benefits of the change.

We hear constantly from Bernie Sanders and other progressives that all the economic gains from the last 20 years have gone only to the top 1% of Americans. But the top 1% could always afford any computer they wanted. It’s the poor, low-income and middle-class Americans who benefit from the “miracle of the marketplace” that now delivers $200 laptops.

Bernie doesn’t want to talk about Venezuela, He says he’s running for president.



How About a Little Really Good News Instead? by The Elephant's Child

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Economic charts may not get framed and put on the wall, but some of them deserve a little celebration. This one represents “the Greatest and Single Most Remarkable Achievement in Human History — the significant reduction of the share of the world’s population living in extreme poverty over the last two hundred years, especially the 84% reduction in just the last 40 years from 60% of the world’s population in 1970 to less than 10% last year. ”

“We can thank the free enterprise system for the remarkable reduction in world poverty. It is America’s gift to the world. “



The Mounting List of Obama Administration Scandals: by The Elephant's Child

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— The new head of the Veterans Administration, Robert McDonald, told reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast that “When you go to Disney, do they measure the number of hours you wait in line? Or what’s important?”

“What’s important is what’s your satisfaction with the experience?”

American Legion National Commander Dale Barnett excoriated McDonald: “The American Legion agrees that the VA secretary’s analogy between Disneyland and VA wait times was an unfortunate comparison because people don’t die while waiting to go on Space Mountain.”

“We also disagree with the substance of his comment because wait times are very important to not just the satisfaction quotient, but in some cases the veterans health,” he said in a statement.

Well, clumsy, at best. Then there was the new study that established that between 1012 and 2015, less than 10 percent of new hires were actually physicians. Lots of lawyers and public affairs officials though.

The Wall Street Journal reported that there were 4,201 errors which mistakenly declared living veterans dead — terminating their benefits. A simple paper mistake for the VA, a nightmare for the vet who has to straighten out the mess.

— Congress is currently attempting to impeach IRS Director Koskinen. It seems the IRS is still trying to keep conservative organizations from gaining the tax-free status to which they are entitled. And as well, they were just never able to find the emails and other documentation that was requested under FOIA requests. A lower court had accepted the IRS statement that targeting had stopped, but it seems that no one has been held to account and the targeting continues today.

Kim Strassel notes that the “IRS team claimed that the fault for some of the scandal rests with the conservative groups for not pushing back hard enough.” They smugly claimed the conservative groups had blown their chance for nonprofit approval when they turned down the “fast track” status if they just agreed to give up their political speech rights. (A Treasury Dept idea.)

A new lawsuit asks a federal court to force the IRS to obey the law.

The IRS also improperly paid out $15.6 billion through the Earned Income Tax Credit Program. The OMB notes that this is a “high risk” program for improper payments, but the IRS says they are “taking steps” to reduce error.

— Federal Bureaucrats announced earlier this year they plan to change the way Medicare Part B pays for drugs. The goal is to save money by getting doctors to alter their treatment choices to the cheapest drugs available. More than 300 cancer clinics have closed over the past decade as Medicare has shrunk payments for cancer care. This would seem to be a venture in bad medicine, which is a usual result in socialized medicine. Those who see “single payer” as a desirable outcome should have some real second thoughts.

The Obama administration frames this experiment as a way to stick it to drug companies and save taxpayers money. They believe that doctors are not prescribing the “right” drugs—meaning the least expensive ones, even if they are the least appropriate. They suggest that doctors are motivated by money, and not their patients’ best interests.

Surely you have noticed how often the administration sneers at “Big Pharma.” The object is not to save lives, but to place the blame for getting rid of cancer-ridden patients before they cost too much money.

— Obama is planning to release another 22 or 23 long time Guantanamo detainees to about half a dozen countries. These are the “worst of the worst” and can be expected to return to the battlefield fairly promptly. Obama is motivated by the opinion of the European  Left who always opposed the Iraq War and assume that Gitmo is an American torture chamber, rather than the model prison it actually is. Not all of the foreign destination countries are ready to be identified, Obama wants to empty Guantanamo by this summer.

— Last year, Congress went to considerable trouble in crafting and passing a consensus bull to replace the outdated and unworkable No Child Left Behind. One of the goals was to reduce federal interference in education which remains a state and local issue. Obama is ignoring the law that he signed, and attempting to rewrite the implementation rules that claim powers specifically denied by the statutory language.

The law specifically states that the federal government may not use it to “mandate equalized spending per pupil for a state, local educational educational agency or school.” But that’s what the Education Department is attempting to do. Sen. Lamar Alexander, Chairman, confronted Education Department John King in a hearing telling him”The plain fact of the matter is that the law specifically says you cannot do it.”

This remains a nation of laws, no matter how much Obama tries to arrogate power to himself by simply claiming them. He says his agenda “can’t wait” for Congress to act.

— ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) has spent at least $18.5 million to fly “unaccompanied children” caught crossing the border illegally, to locations inside the U.S. The numbers shed light on the extent of a program that concerns lawmakers and the federal courts that the federal government is effectively aiding smugglers. The administration has gone to great lengths to ensure the safety of minors, and claims their actions are appropriate. They are transporting minors to facilities run by HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement. ICE said about 10,000 children have been transported by charter flights.

— Obama’s Big Transgender Restroom Diversion is pure Saul Alinsky, the communist who has directed the Left in how to manipulate the American people. “Keep trying new things to keep the opposition off balance. As the opposition masters one approach, hit them from the flank with something new.” If there is a problem (no GDP growth) for which you have no answer, change the discussion and hit them with something new.

Members of the transgender population, about 0.3% of this nation, have managed to relieve themselves for generations in existing restrooms. Imagine the cost of revamping millions of public restrooms, and for such a tiny slice of the population. Now this has become a national cause, a provocation drummed up to divert attention from far more pressing issues.

— I posted “President Obama’s Legacy in 9 Simple Charts from the Federal Reserve“at the end of September last year. Not much has changed.



“The Iran Deal” How Does it Fare After Nearly a Year? by The Elephant's Child

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Much has been written after Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes had a lengthy interview with the New York Times about his part in The Iran Deal, his ‘mind-meld’ with the president, and how they fooled the public into believing that the deal came about only when Iran elected a new “more moderate” administration, rather than admit that the Iran Deal was Obama’s intent from the first days of his presidency. It was all hooey, of course.

Obama undoubtedly turned against the Iraq War when the rest of the progressives did— three months into the war — when it began to look as if George W. Bush might have a great success on his hands. At any rate, Obama believed that he was elected based on his opposition to the Iraq War. Progressives are deeply opposed to wars, unless it’s one of theirs. Though if you asked any number of Americans why Obama was elected, I doubt if any would say it was because of Obama’s opposition to the Iraq War. If you recall, during the campaign in 2007 Obama refused to wear one of those little American flag pins in his buttonhole and to put his hand over his heart during the national anthem, at least until someone told him to cool it, he was offending people.

His interest at some point became getting America out of the Middle East, and turning the whole messy area over to Iran, where the Persians were the more educated and refined nation and better qualified to manage the rest of them. In this, he was apparently urged on by his senior counselor, Valerie Jarrett, who shared his vast experience of living abroad — Obama until he turned 10 in Indonesia, and Jarrett in her first 5 years, in Iran.  Seems a rather odd and ephemeral experience on which to base world-shaping agreements.

We are now nearly a year into the July 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to limit Iranian nuclear proliferation, so how is it going?

Last week, a senior advisor to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards elite al-Quds Force said if the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei gave to order to destroy Israel, the Iranian military had the ability to “raze the Zionist regime in less than eight minutes.” Their armed forces had successfully tested a precision-guided, medium-range ballistic missile, with zero error. They even wrote the words “Israel must be wiped off the earth” on the missiles.

The Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei “underlined that the U.S. hues and cries will by no means influence the development of the country’s missile development program.”

They have engaged in a lot of hue and cry over Iran’s missile capabilities, but they should know that this ballyhoo does not have any influence and they cannot do a damn thing,” Ayatollah Khamenei said, addressing graduation ceremony of Imam Hossein University cadets in Tehran on Monday.

The Obama administration remained unconcerned about the Ayatollah’s bloviations, perhaps as they thought a previous peroration was simply intended as “public relations.”

The Supreme Leader reiterated that we are at an asymmetrical war with global arrogance, and said, “In this war, willpowers are fighting. The stronger willpower will win.”

Just yesterday, the Free Beacon reported that the Obama administration was considering permitting advanced Russian arms sales to Iran. The administration has the power to sanction key Russian arms sales to Iran, but has so far abstained from exercising that right. Russia is apparently transferring their S300 surface-to-air missile systems, an advanced long-range weapon that would boost Iran’s military ability. It is one of the most advanced anti-aircraft missile systems in the world.

The administration considers the Iran Deal the most important of Obama’s achievements, and will go to great lengths to preserve the “nuclear deal.” I have read that Obama just doesn’t believe that Iran would ever actually use a nuclear weapon. I’ve always believed that when your enemy makes threats, you should pay attention.

Here is Victor Davis Hanson writing in the Hoover Institution’s Strategika, “A Year After the Iranian Deal.”

And here is Dr. Hanson’s essay on “How Barack Obama’s Foreign Policy De-Stabilized the World.”

Whether the Obama administration is just terminally naive, or simply hopes that any repudiation of the Iran Deal will fall on his successors’ administration rather than in the last days of his own is an unknown. but as Victor Hanson says:” the next few months may prove the most dangerous since World War II.”



The Miraculous Explosion of Human Progress in the Past Two Centuries by The Elephant's Child

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“Two centuries ago, the average world income per  human (in present day prices) was about $3 a day It had been so since we lived in caves. Now it is $33 a day—which is Brazil’s current level and the level of the U.S. in 1940. Over the past 200 years, the average real income per person—including even such present-day tragedies as Chad and North Korea—has grown by a factor of 10. It is stunning. In countries that adopted trade and economic betterment wholeheartedly, like Japan, Sweden and the U.S., it is more like a factor of 30—even more stunning.” That’s from an article by economist Dierdre McCloskey.

An American, on average earns $130 a day, China is roughly $20 a day, and India at $10 after their release from a crippling socialism of $1 a day. And the growth of material plenty has been stunning. McCloskey quotes Matt Ridley in his book The Rational Optimist (2010) that what happened over the past two centuries is that “ideas started having sex.” There is no end to what people can do when they are set free to have ideas and have the freedom to act upon them. Once you have the ideas, getting the wherewithal to do them is simple because they are so obviously profitable.

“The Great Enrichment of the past two centuries has one primary source: the liberation of ordinary people to pursue their dreams of economic betterment.” How very odd then that the Progressives are so sure that the only route to a better world is for enlightened leaders like themselves to control and regulate the economy, and the people. (As I just said, they really don’t understand cause and effect).

The Heritage Foundation just released their annual report on the tide of red tape that threatens to drown American consumers and businesses. The Obama administration has added 20,642 new regulations during his presidency. More than $22 billion per year in new regulatory costs were imposed on Americans last year.

Professor Richard A. Epstein wrote in an article for the Hoover Institution that:

One of the most disturbing trends in the United States is the relentless concentration of power in the federal government. Ever since the New Deal, the classical liberal vision of limited government and strong property rights has taken a back seat to a progressive vision of a robust administrative state, dominated by supposed experts, whose powers are largely unimpeded by legal constraints. Wholly apart from Congress, the new administrative state has adopted and enforced its own laws and regulations, and is defined by unilateral actions by the President and other members of the executive branch, all of which threaten the system of checks and balances built into the original constitutional design.

The Leftists are so sure of their moral superiority, and that their aims are correct that they feel no need to study up on the questions of the day. Obama frequently notes that some things are “on the right side of history” and others are on “the wrong side of history. “Cosmic forces both agree with him, and are unimpeachable. Anything to do with climate is “settled science”and those who disagree should be punished.

Yet one gets the distinct impression that the president has never read a word of the science, and only seen that which is presented to him as from “unimpeachable sources,” without considering the possibility that there is another view.

The view that it is freedom that releases people to come up with the ideas and that the generation of new ideas leads to more and more creativity, growth and prosperity is so foreign to the philosophy of the Left that they are literally frightened of what people might do if left without the guidance of the enlightened and morally correct public servants of the nation’s capitol. For our “public servants’, Herb Meyer remarked recently, Washington D.C. is not a city, it is a profession.

We must be guided, controlled, and led down the correct paths to a brighter future. There is no other way.

See: “The Myth of Progress” by  Victor Davis Hanson, from the Hoover Institution.

The Rise of American Socialism” by Paul R. Gregory, from the Hoover Institution

 



Leftists Don’t Understand “Cause & Effect” And That Makes a Huge Problem for the Rest of Us! by The Elephant's Child

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Progressives, Liberals, Lefties consistently have trouble understanding cause and effect. I’ve been noticing this for quite a while, particularly in relation to crime. That is where the famous “Butterfield Fallacy” comes in( well, maybe not famous, but it should be.) Fox Butterfield was a reporter for the New York Times, “whose crime stories served as the archetype for his eponymous fallacy.”

“It has become a comforting story for five straight years, crime has been falling, led by a drop in murder,” Butterfield wrote in 1997. “So why is the number of inmates in prisons and jails around the nation still going up?’  He repeated the trope in 2003: “The nation’s prison population grew 2.6 percent last year, the largest increase since 1999, according to a study by the Justice Department. The jump came despite a small decline in serious crime in 2002.” And in 2004: “The number of inmates in state and federal prisons rose 2.1 percent last year, even as violent crime and property crime fell, according to a study by the Justice Department released yesterday.”

The Butterfield Fallacy consists of misidentifying as a paradox, that which is a simple cause-and-effect relationship. You put more bad guys behind bars, and the crime rate goes down. Lefties disapprove of sending people to prison because they believe it to be racially discriminatory. “In 2004 almost 10 percent of American black men were in prison” and it diverts tax money from what should be higher priorities. I’ve written about this a number of times, but I have a hard time recognizing how pervasive the inability to understand cause and effect is.

Today’s problems also include the “Ferguson Effect” which has resulted in policemen being more hesitant to arrest or deal with crime, especially in the black community — because of the blowback from the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson MI.

When the demand for a higher minimum wage began to circulate, we explained that a minimum wage was a starting wage for beginners, and low because they weren’t worth more, and there was no end to the numbers of people who wanted a starting-out job. We explained that most get a raise within the first 6 months. We mentioned automation. But the Lefties said “you can’t raise a family on the minimum wage.” Of course you can’t — the minimum wage is for beginners.

So Lefties are raising the minimum wage legally (government has no business telling businesses how much they must pay workers). Well effect follows cause and Wendy’s Restaurants are installing self-service kiosks in their approximately 6,000 restaurants across the country in the second half of the year. There are 258 Wendy’s in California where the minimum wage has gone up to $10 an hour. The former CEO of McDonalds warned that Robots cost less than paying a $15 minimum wage. Hillary jumped in on the controversy to demand an end to disabled workers’ exemption from minimum wage requirements — and got a stinging rebuke from economist Don Boudreaux.  Cause and effect.

Greenies usually use Denmark as a stunning example of the beneficial use of natural wind power. Well, Denmark is abandoning wind power. Danes’ cost of energy has been climbing and climbing, with 66% of the bill being “green taxes” and only 15% going to energy generation. Denmark’s energy prices were the highest in Europe, and politicians are abandoning wind power as too expensive. Greenies celebrate the natural source of energy, but the problem remains that wind does not blow at the correct speed to generate power even most of the time. They’ve tried to remedy that with taller turbines, more exotic minerals, better designs — doesn’t matter. The cause is the nature of wind, the effect is unaffordability.

In desperation our federal government has raised the numbers of eagles and other birds that the wind farms and solar arrays can chop up or fry each year, But that too is a cause and will have an effect — not yet recognized.  In the meantime, the world’s largest solar array at Ivanpah which has never produced the electricity they promised (cause) and is under enormous pressure to do something — did. It caught on fire.

Keep an eye on the inability of the Left to grasp this simple fact, you will find that it explains a lot.



It’s Not Really About Transgenderism by The Elephant's Child

The Obama Administration’s Department of Health and Human Services has added a new rule change to the Affordable Care Act. All health providers receiving taxpayer dollars must perform sex-change operations or lose their federal funding.

Can government possibly become any more absurd? Sex-change operations do not change anyone’s sex. That is not possible. Sex is determined by your DNA and cutting off temporarily offending organs does not change sex, but merely mutilates. Transgenderism is a dysphoria, or mental problem. Other dysphorias are Anorexia, whose victims see themselves as fat and essentially starve themselves to death. Bodily dysphoria has led victims to amputate healthy limbs, or if they cannot find a surgeon who will do it, amputate Cat mantheir own. Several cases who identify as cats have been reported.

The new rule sates that under Title IX any hospital receiving funding from HHS must “treat individuals consistent with their gender identity.” The administration sent letters to every school district in the country mandating that they open bathrooms lockers rooms and showers to all students, regardless of their biological sex.

The drive for transgender bathrooms is part of the Cultural Marxist attack on modesty and personal privacy. Children should be taught from an early age that sexual behavior is harmless physical gratification, completely unimportant. There are no consequences of physical gratification that cannot be prevented or “taken care of” by a visit to the doctor. Marriage and the family are only lifestyle choices, and not different from any other. Useless people can be disposed of by physician assisted suicide, minor misbehavior should not mean punishment and things like shoplifting, drug use, petty theft, fraud, or forgery should be misdemeanors.

Cultural Marxism demands a compliant state-dependent population who will vote as they are told, and request ever more comforts from an overpowering government. You can see the results in Venezuela, where a hamburger costs $170, and food is getting desperately short. And there’s Cuba, of course. Lots of examples. The kids are being trained in government controlled schools, or haven’t you noticed the nuttiness going on in our colleges? A generation of progressives went a little crazy in the sixties, and they have never really recovered. They don’t want to be told what to do, they want to protest and man the barricades and really want a real revolution, as long as there isn’t any violence and nobody hurts anyone’s feelings.



What Does ISIS Want? by The Elephant's Child




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