American Elephants


Assigned Reading by The Elephant's Child

The new American history by Wilfred M. McClay has had excellent reviews and I’m giving it as Christmas gifts, but I haven’t read it yet.

Land of Hope: An Invitation to the Great American Story

Another I like is John Steele Gordon’s

An Empire of Wealth:
The Epic History of American Economic Power

Essential:
The Black Book of Communism
Crimes, Terror, Repression

Communism
A History
By Richard Pipes

The Black Book is huge, over 700 pages, Richard Pipes book is small at 160 pages, but dense. Read both.

It’s clearly time to know a lot more about China than we do. The unknown story of:

MAO
by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday

Two from Bernard Lewis:

The Middle East:
A Brief History of the Last 2000 Years

What Went Wrong
The Clash Between Islam and Modernity in the Middle East

And I like this:
Voices of 1776
The Story of the American Revolution in the Words
of Those Who Were There
by Richard Wheeler

And let me add:
1491
New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus
By Charles C. Mann



Americans Are Getting Dumber! Here’s Proof. by The Elephant's Child

I wrote a couple of days ago a post about people seeming to get dumber. When you read quite a bit of opinion, you become sure of it. Rasmussen, the big polling company, said today that, and I quote, “Democrats really don’t like America and think it’s time to move on from the culture that got us here,”

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that just 38% of Likely Democratic Voters believe American society is generally fair and decent. Fifty-one percent (51%) say it’s unfair and discriminatory.

By comparison, 74% of Republicans and unaffiliated voters by a 49% to 36% margin view American society as fair and decent.

Look, let’s get back to basics. You should have learned by the time you are five or six, at least,that Life Is Hard. You fall down and get hurt, you don’t like the food your mother made you eat. You can elaborate far beyond that. Bad marriages, people you love die, disappointments, problems, failure, owing money, illness, disease. It’s just not all sweetness and light. With time, you can get the good stuff to outweigh the bad and shrug off the rest of it.

It’s not just Twitter, though they are a problem. How many pictures have you seen of young people seated somewhere, each and every one interacting with their phone, ignoring those around them? ‘Social Media’ but not much is social about it. We’re told that our young people in college think it would be fine to change our form of government to Communism.  They reached 18 years of age and know nothing? Nothing at all. We are deeply in trouble.

Adam Schiff is basking in his moments of fame, and trying desperately to hype up his moment. A Vice President of the United States has used his position to get his kid a job on a foreign country’s Energy Company’s Board of  Directors at an enormous salary of $83,000 a month, for which he has no qualifications whatsoever, and we are supposed to think it’s all about his father (the former Vice President of the United States) being a rival for the 2020 election? Perhaps Mr. Biden had no felonious intent, and just thought it was nice that these people wanted his son on the board because they liked him and…Sorry, there is no way that does not smell to high heaven. Yes, we know that former government officials get big payoffs from the private sector, book deals, fancy estates, from those looking to use the influence of a big name. But that’s not the way it is supposed to be. We honor our past presidents, even the ones we didn’t  like.

George W. went on home and led outdoor trips for wounded vets, and painted their portraits.  After it was discovered that Harry Truman was living off his army pension and little more, and had the integrity to avoid post-presidential money grubbing, Congress increased presidential pay significantly and a pension was provided so that future presidents were protected from any possible penury.

The news from the Trump presidency is pretty outstanding. Did you know that? The increases in median household income under Donald Trump are very large. Based on Census Bureau monthly data, from January 2017 when Donald Trump entered office through August 2019, middle-class household incomes have risen from $61,000 to an all time high of $66,000 — in 2019 dollars, adjusted for inflation.

The left freaked out for understandable reasons. They are especially agitated because median household incomes have risen by $5,000 under Trump, compared to $1,100 in seven years under President Barack Obama. The data also undermines the case against Trump. Elizabeth Warren likes to say in every speech, “The middle class has been left behind by Trump’s policies.” That’s flat-out wrong.

The self-proclaimed “fact-checkers” on the left went to work to try to discredit the numbers. This includes The Washington Post, PolitiFact and others.

As an aside, we have a big problem in America when the “fact-checkers” are all playing for the liberal team. A case in point is the liberal PolitiFact, which used the screaming headline “Trump’s Shaky $5,000 Boast.” The Post gave Trump two Pinocchios for claiming these income gains and said “Trump Inflates His Economic Record.”

A standard complaint is that these numbers are assembled by a private organization called Sentier Research. But the two Sentier statisticians who analyzed this month’s Census Current Population Survey — a gold mine of economic information — are probably the most knowledgeable people in the country on this data.

Stephen Moore, whose commentary this is, goes on to show how the media has tried to spin this news. If you are interested in liberal spin, this is an excellent example. Do they really just want to get Trump out of there before anyone catches on to what an outstanding job he is doing? You might also enjoy The American Mind’s explanation of the Culture War 2.0, and the changing Rules of Engagement. It’s a 12 minute read, they say.  (I told you, they are having to go to great lengths to get unwilling people to read, and we are getting dumber. ) We have to read to get informed, to know what is true and what is not, and how we are being manipulated. We have to fight back.

“Occasio-Cortez Dismisses Fears Democratic Party Moving Too Far Left: “We Are Bringing the Party Home” Yesterday’s headline at Breitbart.

 



Absolutely Entitled to Be In Charge! by The Elephant's Child

It is certainly clear that Democrats believe they are entitled to run things, to be in charge. Three years later, and they still have not gotten over it. “Entitled” seems to be the key word. They should be in charge – because they are morally superior. They are compassionate. They care.

Republicans clearly do not care. They make it clear every day. Desperate people looking for a better life, and Republicans want to build walls to keep them out. They want to send people to prison just for smoking a joint. They have this cruel police force called ICE that wants to track down immigrants living quietly in this country and deport them. They want to tell women what they can do with their bodies, and deny them health care when they need it most. They clearly do not really care about the people at all.

The earth is facing a horrible doom because Republicans won’t face facts and move to clean renewable energy, and stop the evil oil pipelines that are despoiling the planet, because they favor Big Oil companies instead of clean natural wind and solar energy. It’s very clear that Republican care far more about budgets and big corporations than they do about the American people.

If you just keep their moral superiority in mind, everything will become clearer and less argumentative. They are really trying to improve things. Just see what they are offering to do to improve your lives. Rein in those big corporations that are polluting the planet. Medicare for all, not just the old folks. Compassion for all.  Social Justice for all. More equality. More fairness. What more could you ask?



Jack Dorsey Has Banned Political Advertising From Twitter by The Elephant's Child

What precisely is “hate speech”? Everybody talks about it, but it seems to boil down to — speech you don’t like. It is mentioned all the time, but what makes it hateful? We have had a fairly new entrant in the judging speech area in the popular name of Twitter. Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter has announced that he is going to ban all political ads from the platform. This follows a long discussion about political ads in general and the Twitter workforce apparently wanting to ban all Republican ads. Law and Liberty.org made fairly short work of that.

Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, is basking in accolades for his decision to ban all political ads from his platform. That is Twitter’s call to make, but if Dorsey is going to wrap himself in a populist defense of the common man’s voice, he might conjure a justification whose posture toward that man is less condescending.

Dorsey argued that the reach of political messages “should be earned, not bought.” To what extent anything on Twitter is “earned” through 280 characters of substantive, nuanced political conversation is questionable. Shallow outrage is likelier to “earn” retweets, which is not to say that Twitter—which can encourage concision, a precondition of wit—does not have its place. Regardless, Dorsey’s claim is the populist celebration of social media: Anyone can speak and, with a sufficiently compelling message, reach a limitless audience.

Yet Dorsey’s reason for pulling political ads is that the same everyday people whose voices deserve projection are so easily duped by readily disprovable claims that they must be protected from seeing them in the first place. A people that cannot exercise sufficient discernment to separate propaganda from information has no business governing itself. Why a people Dorsey so characterizes is qualified to participate in his call for “more forward-looking political ad regulation,” which he acknowledges is “very difficult” but which is actually very unconstitutional, is unclear.

The United States of America was founded on the idea of freedom of speech, but the current generation is a little short in the history department, and doesn’t seem to understand the meaning. What Dorsey means by his statement that “political messages should be earned, not bought” is another mystery. How do we have free speech while calling much of the conversation out there “hate speech?” Does calling the winner of the last election and the people who voted for him “Deplorables” count as “hate speech”or do you have to add in her conclusion that God had picked her out to be the president of the United States? Or just the names she called those who voted for the other side?

Free Speech is hard to understand. You are free to disagree, but you don’t get to demand that you not be allowed to say your piece. You are, of course, responsible for what you say, but you don’t get to be banned.

“There is no such thing as government regulated free speech.”

That’s from Barry Brownstein writing at FEE. “Without Free Speech, All Speech Becomes Government Speech.

When I viewed this video, I wondered if it was a hoax. I thought it must be a group of actors trying to make a point about how far restrictions on speech have gone. Unfortunately, the video captures reality in Scotland in 2019.

The video picks up an exchange between a Scottish high school teacher and a student. The class was asked to sign up for a website, and according to the student, the teacher commented on how old fashioned the website was for listing only two sexes. The student, Murray, remarked, “But sir there’s only two genders,” and the teacher insisted they continue the discussion outside the classroom.

Much of the problem is located in our schools, and though this example took place in Scotland, you probably could have found the same conversation on any one of a good many American campuses.

There is a clear reason why the very first Amendment to the Constitution says Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech…Too bad the folks in Silicon Valley don’t seem to get it. Or understand why it is needed.



Are We Getting Dumber? Or Does It Just Seem That Way? by The Elephant's Child

I just questioned (online) the vaguely remembered claim that most Americans cannot name the three branches of government. It was supposedly only 26% who could not name them, then it got turned around to 75% of Americans could not, and just 26 percent who could, and only 33% who could name a single branch. Well, that’s informative. No wonder President Trump speaks of “Fake News.”

It’s clear that people don’t know how to think about the climate. Popular thinking runs somewhere from total panic because the earth is ending in just 5 years, to this article I ran across today: “A Relatively Painless Guide to Cutting Plastic Out of Your Life.”

Last year may have been the beginning of the end for plastic. It may have taken a while for the average person to wake up to its dangers, but many were shaken into action by the images and videos of plastic’s impact on the natural world that flooded the media in 2018.

A viral video showed a turtle with a straw stuck up its nose. Stories about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch revealed how island-sized trash mounds had collected in the ocean between Hawaii and California. And then there was that National Geographic cover of a plastic bag floating in the water, beneath the scrawled words “Planet or Plastic?” The issue publicized a remarkable statistic: Despite the world’s efforts to recycle, 91 percent ends up in the trash.

What, you are telling me that we have these huge, expensive recycling programs, and they don’t work at all? Not to worry, the plastic in the oceans apparently comes from China, which is actually worrisome. The United States has done a remarkable job of reducing noxious emissions — more than any other country.

This is from SEPP’s weekly newsletter (Science and Environmental Policy Project’ free newsletter)

Appropriate Models: Mathematics is the language of science, but that does not mean that mathematical models correctly describe physical phenomena. Or that a mathematical process in a model used in analyzing physical evidence (data) from observations and / or experiments suitable for one phenomenon is suitable for other phenomena. The model may or may not describe the subject phenomenon. That is one reason why Richard Feynman stated that hypotheses (guesses) must be tested against all relevant data. Experimental data is preferred because other possible influences are controlled to the extent possible, but observational data may be necessary.

Benny Avni writes in the New York Sun that as America’s Democratic Presidential Candidates promote programs borrowed from Europe’s traditional left, Europeans are increasingly pushing back against them. Angela Merkel was blamed for dragging Germany’s Christian Democratic Party too far to the left. France’s National Rally Party beat President Macron’s centrist faction. In Poland, Hungary and Italy, politicians of various right-wing parties are now in power, and anti-leftist parties are on the rise. In Canada, Prime Minister Trudeau is struggling to stay in power after his Liberal party suffered parliamentary seat losses. Lot of Politics out there.

I got my hair cut yesterday, and picked up a copy of the old familiar Readers Digest  in the waiting room. No longer a big thick magazine, it had dieted down to maybe a quarter of an inch thick. Magazines and newspapers are clearly dying. I’m more concerned about the dumbing-down of society. I suspect that the online opinions flashing across computer screens suggest that people don’t read anything of length. Some websites are suggesting, beside their stories, that it is  only a 4 minute, or 6 minute read, to encourage those who have a tiny bit of time to pause long enough for their story. Reminds me to be brief and get to the point. But it suggests that we are becoming more superficial, less informed, and more open to bad information. What do you think?



A Little Useful Basic Information from Real Scientists by The Elephant's Child

This is an older video, but a very good one. Dr. Richard Lindzen is one of our most respected scientists, and this simple video does a good job of clarifying the situation.

Here’s another (also older) from”Conversations that Matter” with Dr. William Happer, from Princeton University.

Most of the warming, rise of the oceans, all the stuff you hear so much panic about is measured in millimeters. If you don’t have a ruler that includes millimeters look it up. And as to warming:

The world’s 76 best Tide gauges show a mean 0.34 mm per year rise. “negligible acceleration”. There is no sign of climate models predicting sharply warming acceleration or sea level rise.

There are now around 31 different climate computer programs (the serious ones). They put in what we know, and what we think maybe we know, and a bunch of intelligent guesses. And they especially don’t know what to do about clouds. Clearly clouds have an effect on warming. Yesterday was cloudy and windy. Today the sky was blue with little wisps of transparent cloudiness. But what that influence is and what is means is a mystery. They are mostly moving.

In cities, where a lot of the measurements take place, there is a huge urban heat island effect with concrete absorbing the heat from the sun, and furnace exhaust systems, concrete pavement, concrete walls.

There’s an enormous amount that we just don’t know. And what we don’t know doesn’t seem to be a cause for alarm. Sorry, Greta. Several years ago, Christiana Figueres, who was the general secretary of the IPCC, admitted in a radio broadcast that Climate Alarmism was the best opportunity we had, to rid the world of the evils of Capitalism. Perhaps that’s where AOC  gets her “Green New Deal.” Pay more attention to scientists other scientists respect, and less to movie has-beens like Jane Fonda or Leonardo Di Caprio. Better yet, study up on your own.



Beto Has Left the Arena! by The Elephant's Child

Beto O’Rourke announced today that he is exiting the race for the presidency, to resounding cheers. He has a nice smile of the all-American boy type, but a strange conception of what will endear him to America’s voters. I thought inviting us to come along while he got his teeth cleaned (just like you ordinary folk out there) was more than a little weird.

Then a little over a week ago, on National Period Day (who knew?) he announced that “women across the country do not have access to the period products they need” and he was supporting the Menstrual Equity Act. On MSNBCs Politics Nation, he shot off his mouth once again, comparing the Trump administration to Adolf’ Hitler’s Third Reich.

“There is so much that is resonant of the Third Reich in this administration. Whether it is attempting to ban all people of one religion and saying that Muslims are somehow inherently dangerous or defective or disqualified,” O’Rourke said. “Outside of Nazi Germany, it is hard for me to find another modern democracy that had the audacity to say something like this and then this idea from Goebbels and Hitler that the bigger the lie and the more often you repeat it, the more likely people are to believe it. That is Donald Trump to a tee.

Breitbart’s announcement of Beto’s withdrawal from the 2020 race drew over 9,800 comments which I did not read. If you want more of him, here’s this.




%d bloggers like this: