American Elephants


Common Sense is Not Anywhere as Common as Assumed by The Elephant's Child

Mitch Daniels, President of Purdue University, had an excellent article in the Washington Post last Wednesday about GMO foods. The campaign against GMO foods he says, is the kind of foolishness that only rich societies can afford to indulge.

Of the several claims of “anti-science” that clutter our national debates these days, none can be more flagrantly clear than the campaign against modern agricultural technology, most specifically the use of molecular techniques to create genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Here, there are no credibly conflicting studies, no arguments about the validity of computer models, no disruption of an ecosystem nor any adverse human health or even digestive problems, after 5 billion acres have been cultivated cumulatively and trillions of meals consumed.

And yet a concerted, deep-pockets campaign, as relentless as it is baseless, has persuaded a high percentage of Americans and Europeans to avoid GMO products, and to pay premium prices for “non-GMO” or “organic” foods that may in some cases be less safe and less nutritious. Thank goodness the toothpaste makers of the past weren’t cowed so easily; the tubes would have said “No fluoride inside!” and we’d all have many more cavities.

The article is an excellent plea for a little common sense. Mitch Daniels points out that suggesting that the poor in developing countries should fear GMO foods is not just wrong, but immoral. The story of the Green Revolution and the work of Norman Borlaug who should be one of the great heroes of the world should be taught in school.  Golden Rice is a variety of rice (Oryza sativa)  produced through genetic engineering (there are the ‘scary’ words) to biosynthesize beta-carotene in the edible parts of rice. It is intended to produce a fortified food to be grown and consumed in areas where there is a shortage of dietary vitamin A, a deficiency which is estimated to kill 670,000 children under the age of 5 each year.

This is a broad problem of political and scientific ignorance. Ilya Somin of the Volokh Conspiracy added his views on the problem.He links to Reason science writer Ron Bailey and William Saletan of Slate. The basic problem of ignorance is heightened by the very words “genetically engineered” which sound, to the ignorant, really scary. Ilya Somin notes that a 2012 National Science  Foundation survey found that about 25% of Americans don’t know that the Earth revolves around the sun rather than visa versa. There’s a lot about basic knowledge in Ilya Somin’s article that certainly suggests that we have a major problem with our schools. Do read that whole thing too.

I would suggest though, that much of the problem exists because of our grocery stores. Food producers are concerned with their marketing, and inclined to cater to any possible fears of the consumer. Hence you have “low sodium” products, “sugar-free,” “low-fat,” and “No GMO products” among others on every can or carton in the store. If everyone is telling you that GMO is a bad thing, pretty soon you’ll start to believe it.

Another article by Ilya Somin explains the problem of mandatory government warnings where the state of Florida required producers of skim milk that does not contain added vitamins to label it as “imitation milk” which it of course is not. The European Union has imposed mandatory labeling of GMO foods, even though there are no dangers involved. Read the comments on Mitch Daniels’ fine essay. You might wonder if perhaps Leftism is just a cult.

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The Trials and Tribulations of American Elephants by The Elephant's Child


Aside from being exhausted from all the Christmas preparation and execution, I managed to poison my cat. She shares the general markings of this cat, but it is not a picture of her, and honest, I didn’t do it on purpose.

We got some ornamental plants for Christmas, and I left one on the kitchen table while trying to find a stand for it, and Scarlett took a bite. I removed cat from table, shut her in the bathroom to sleep it off, where she has a basket, kitty litter, drinking water and peace and quiet.

When I went to check, she had decorated the entire bathroom except for the ceiling and medicine cabinet with the most spectacular case of diarrhea ever seen. Called the after hours vet, got the number for animal poison control, looked up the plant online.

The online sources I found were mostly neither comprehensive nor authoritative. Called poison control, they said $65 please, here’s your case# and take her to your vet in the morning and your vet can call this number.

She got shots, one an opioid for the pain which has made her really loopy, and there we are. She’ll be loopy for at least another day or two. Setback for her treatment for gastrointestinal problems. Another $200+

Why, you might ask did I call a black cat Scarlett? First page of Gone With the Wind, + the fact that she’s a real bitch. My other cat is twice her size and is daily reminded that Scarlett rules the roost, and it to be obeyed at all times. Such is life among the elephants.

ADDENDUM: The picture of the cat who was not mine prompted a memory of another cat story from 2010, memorable because it was hysterically funny. Comic relief to my day. It’s the story of “Missing Missy, “which may not even be true, but worth reading the whole thing because it gets funnier and funnier. It went viral at the time.



Heather MacDonald On the Universities and the Students by The Elephant's Child

Heather MacDonald is an American political commentator, essayist, attorney and journalist. Wikipedia describes her as a “secular conservative” whatever that is. I guess that must be what I am as well. She is a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a contributing editor to New York’s City Journal, and someone worth paying a lot of attention to. Her latest book is “The War on Cops” which is worth your time. She hangs around precincts a lot and knows whereof she speaks.

Naturally and unfortunately, the Left rejects whatever she says. Bill McGurn wrote a piece called “The Silencing of Heather MacDonald” for The Wall Street Journal.  You can find frequent essays of hers at City Journal.



ISIS Has Lost 98 Percent of The Territory It Once Held by The Elephant's Child

ISIS has lost 98 percent of the territory is once held. The so-called Caliphate has been dramatically reduced. The big gains come after years of micromanaging of the war, and the rejection of a more aggressive strategy that could have shortened the conflict. Obama was very concerned that he might be blamed  for civilian deaths, and his rules of engagement were onerous. Individual target determination was being done in the White House, which added weeks and weeks of time. The limitations actually resulted in greater civilian casualties according to retired Air Force Lt. General David Deptula, the former head of U.S. Air Force Intelligence.

The latest American intelligence assessment says there are fewer than 1,000 ISIS fighters remaining in Iraq and Syria—down from a peak of nearly 45,000 just two years ago.

U.S. officials credit nearly 30,000 U.S.-led coalition airstrikes and regional partners on the ground for killing more than 70,000 jihadists. Meanwhile, only a few thousand have returned home.

The remaining ISIS strongholds are concentrated in a small area along the border of Syria and Iraq. ISIS, at one point, controlled an area the size of Ohio.

While ISIS has been largely defeated, it continues to call on followers around the world to conduct terror attacks during the holidays with a new message sprouting up on Tuesday, and a suicide attack in Kabul on Christmas with ISIS claiming responsibility. It’s part of the terror group’s effort to expand influence into Africa and Afghanistan. The U.S. envoy to the anti-ISIS coalition warned late last week not to expect a complete defeat anytime soon.

The remaining ISIS strongholds are concentrated on the border between Iraq and Syria. ISIS once controlled an area the size of Ohio. They are continuing to call on followers around the world to conduct terror attacks during the holidays. Deptula said the fight with ISIS could have ended much sooner if President Obama had given his commanders in the field more authority. “He micromanaged the war.” Deptula said. “We could have accomplished our objectives through overwhelming air poser in three months, not in three years.”

Al- Qaeda has apparently reappeared in Syria according to Joshua Geltzer , a visiting professor at Georgetown Law School, and author of  “U.S. Counter-Terrorism Strategy and al-Qaeda: Signalling and the Terrorist World-View.” The center for al-Qaeda now seems to be in Syria, not Afghanistan. There is progress, but the threat of terrorism is still intact.

ADDENDUM: John Hinderaker reports at Powerline that Radio Farda is reporting that demonstrations have broken out across Iran, “against high unemployment, a stagnant economy with inflationary prices and expensive overseas military interventions are spreading unpredictably fast in several cities.”

On Friday, protests spread to Kermanshah in the west, Tehran, Esfahan in central Iran, Rasht in the north, Ahvaz in the southwest and even Qom, the religious capital of Shiite clergy in Iran.

Some of the protesters, at least, chanted for a return of “Reza Shah,” the dynasty that was overthrown by the mullahs in 1979.



Saving a Historic Tree at the White House. by The Elephant's Child

The headline in Newsweek magazine read “Melania Trump orders removal of the near-200-year old tree from the White House.” Misleading headline ripe for seeming to be an attack on the First Lady.

The huge Jackson Magnolia, reportedly planted by President Andrew Jackson from a sprout at his Tennessee home two hundred years ago, has become badly damaged and the steel cables that hold it up are failing. Like other living things, trees get old and die.

Experts at the National Arboretum said the tree needs to be radically trimmed. Melania Trump reviewed the findings and agreed to the cutback. She noted that visitors and journalists often stand under the tree during White House events, especially during the liftoff of Marine One.  The wood from the tree will be preserved, and the White House groundskeepers have been growing offshoots of the tree that are now somewhere around eight to ten feet tall. One of those seedlings will eventually be planted in place of the historic tree.

There’s a lesson here about headlines, and some credit due to Melania Trump who ordered the right thing in response to expert opinion. Here’s the tree in 1918.

 



Will Write Again Tomorrow. by The Elephant's Child
December 27, 2017, 10:02 pm
Filed under: Blogging, Domestic Policy, Energy, Humor | Tags: , ,

Sorry. Exhausted from Christmas. Mother Nature blessed us with a surprising White Christmas. All gone now, except for a few remnants on well-insulated roofs here and there. It wasn’t much, just enough to make it pretty on Christmas day. Although I grew up where we had significant snow by Thanksgiving , and could expect a partial thaw at least by Easter, snow in the Seattle region is always a mess. Many hills, much ice, nobody knows how to drive and too few have either snow tires or chains. Go to You Tube and enter simply “snow in Seattle”.  I rest my case.



Sissel Kyrkjebo: Jeg synger julekvad (In Dulci Jubilo) by The Elephant's Child




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