American Elephants

What Liberty Looks Like: by The Elephant's Child

This is a video that I posted originally in early 2015. After wallowing in the horrors of socialist Venezuela, and seeing the folks that Ami Horowitz interviewed who were quite sure that there is nothing wrong with socialism, (You did watch the video below “What’s Wrong With Socialism?” didn’t you?) it seemed time for a small refresher. Here is Bill Whittle explaining why the things that seem utterly inconsequential to us, are in actuality a very big deal in the history of the world. It’s very short, but a bracing reminder of what’s real and what is not.

Sun and Wind and Rainbows and Magic Do Not Power the Planet by The Elephant's Child

A post I wrote back in 2013 is getting another round of attention, as it does now and then. I wrote about abandoned wind turbines, and the misguided notion that wind and sun are free, therefore renewable energy—and to be endlessly subsidized as our most desirable source of power. I hasten to add that I am not a scientist nor do I have any pretense of being one. I was an English major at a time and in a college where the pursuit of knowledge and the critical examination of sources were considered essential.

But I also grew up in the mountains of Idaho on 400 acres with a river running through it, and spent most of my time, winter and summer, outdoors. We had winters with 5′ of snow and winters that were fairly mild. Flood, forest fires, lightning strikes, cougar, bear, lynx and woodrats. (I’m a deadly shot on woodrats. They gather up the cotton from cottonwood trees, store it in the attic of the woodshed and then pee all over it, and have their babies there.) You don’t live outdoors for years interacting with weather, and get all panicky about a few degrees warmer or cooler.

Science is complicated. I just read about a cave discovered in Mexico, a half a mile down, so hot that scientists can only stay for a few minutes, where there are microbes trapped in crystals that could be 50,000 years old, living on minerals like iron and manganese. Lots left on Earth for us to discover yet, diseases to conquer, unknown territory, they are discovering new species every year. The world economy runs on some form of electric power, and not just for our convenience, light and heat. Transportation, manufacturing, business and government are dependent on electricity and their needs are growing constantly, so the more power we need.

People are frightened by nuclear power after the horrific catastrophe in Japan, and the nuclear accident in Russia. We have dams on most of our major rivers, and environmentalists long for free wild rivers. Power good, but dams bad. Environmentalists say that coal, oil and natural gas are all evil, and should “stay in the ground where they belong.” So it’s unsurprising that there is a fetish for energy from the wind and the sun. Surely with our advanced modern technology we can invent wind turbines and solar arrays to harness the free energy of the wind and the sun. Well, no, no we can’t. Or we can, if we’re content to live in extreme poverty.

The wind is terminally, fatally intermittent. When the wind blows, which is not most of the time, it blows in gusts and wafts or gales. What you need is a steady stream of wind and then you get “capacity,” which is what the manufactures of the turbines promise when they are extolling the virtues of wind. Never happens. In winter, when you are freezing, the wind is apt to not blow at all, and the turbines don’t turn. They have already tried most of the really windy places —Altamont Pass in California, the tip of the Hawaiian Islands, they’ve even replaced a lot of the idle turbines in my 2013 post, so now they are moving offshore. There’s a big offshore farm coming online off our East coast shortly. Offshore turbines take a lot more punishment from saltwater and weather. The life of an onshore turbine is 20 years at best, offshore is a lot less.

The sun, on the other hand, is too diffuse. For real power you need really hot sun bearing down, in a cloudless sky. How many cloudless, sunny days do you get? This is the Northwest, where we get rain all the time, and plenty of clouds. The sun also has a habit of sinking beneath the horizon at night, and even more so in the short days of winter. Elon Musk keeps promising battery arrays to take care of that, but it certainly hasn’t happened yet, and his solar farms haven’t been in the news much. Wind turbines have a nasty habit of chopping up bats and birds by the hundreds, birds of prey as well. What that does to our insect population and rodent population I don’t know, but it doesn’t bode well for malaria and Zika. and other disease.

Both of these technologies demand more and more land each year as the need for more and more energy increases, land in quantities simply unavailable.  Look for Robert Bryce’s book: Smaller, Faster, Lighter, Denser, Cheaper. It’s a clear, simple explanation of why wind and solar will remain interesting, but are not a major source of power except in the remote places where any source of power, however limited,  is a bounty.

Here’s the Response to the True Believers’ Faith in Elite Control by The Elephant's Child

This is a perfectly charming video, beautifully illustrated, of a poem by economist Russ Roberts explaining how things work in the story of a wonderful loaf of bread. The perfect answer to the depressing video below of the climate march. Who knew that economists could write poems?

Thanks to Don Boudreaux of Cafe Hayek,

Captured On Video — The Real Agenda of the Climate March by The Elephant's Child

It was at a news conference in Brussels in early February 2015, that Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the United Nation’s Framework Convention on Climate Change, admitted that the goal of environmental activists is not to save the world from ecological calamity—but to destroy capitalism.

“This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution,” she said.

Socialists, intent on the wonders of social justice and the ‘better world’ of their dreams, never, never seem to pay any attention to the monumental failures of socialism everywhere it has been tried. The  past 25 years have witnessed the greatest reduction in global poverty  in the history of the world. An 80 % reduction in world poverty in only 36 years. Globalization, Free markets, free trade, international entrepreneurship. The free enterprise system, American style, which is our gift to the world. This is not the first time some greenie has blurted out the truth behind their campaign to protect the world from the horrors of the carbon dioxide we exhale every time we breathe. Go figure.

As far as that goes, climate change doesn’t really matter to them, it is only another tool in their drive for control. The failures of socialism all over the world never seem to penetrate. There’s the romance of manning the barricades, as seen in Antifa and the anarchists riots and breaking windows and setting fires. I was surprised to see in a video of the rioters in either Portland or Berkeley, I forget which, the women whose masks has slipped  and exposed their gender, with the clubs they carried. Romantic. Look how many celebrate Cuban Communism with Ché t-shirts honoring a nasty killer.

Here, from the Wall Street Journal is an article about the Venezuelan experiment with socialism. “Venezuela is Starving: Once Latin America’s richest country, Venezuela can no longer feed its people, hobbled by the nationalization of farms as well as price and currency controls”

YARE, Venezuela— Jean Pierre Planchart, a year old, has the drawn face of an old man and a cry that is little more than a whimper. His ribs show through his skin. He weighs just 11 pounds.

His mother, Maria Planchart, tried to feed him what she could find combing through the trash—scraps of chicken or potato. She finally took him to a hospital in Caracas, where she prays a rice-milk concoction keeps her son alive.

Well, they just didn’t do it right. The ability to apply expert administration, administrative scientism— the continual search for perfectionism in our ability to apply scientific knowledge to tomorrow’s problems by the elite. All just steps on the way to a glorious future when they are in complete charge.
They believe.

Democrats Are Making a Mess of Things! by The Elephant's Child

Trump is bad at being a tyrant: Brandon Weichert,  American Greatness
The past 100 days have been a disaster-for Democrats: Mark Thiesson, Washington Post
Marches for Science vs. Actual Science: John Hinderaker, Powerline
And What is the Scientific Basis for Imposing Energy Poverty On the Masses?: Francis Menton, Manhattan Contrarian

And then there is this:  A Little Golden Book! Who thought this was a good idea? Perhaps (hopefully) it’s not real. But there are far too many things these days that one assumes blithely that are not real, and it turns out they are. Or perhaps this is the bedtime book that was read to the little progressives and snowflakes inhabiting our colleges.

Or perhaps it’s just a photoshop for a clever comment on our times. Your guess?

From Victor Davis Hanson: Fundamentalist Nihilism, American Greatness

Dr.Hanson considers three separate cases: Nihilist Environmentalism, Nihilist Immigration, and the Factories of Nihilism: Our Universities.

At some point, progressivism begins to collapse by the weight of its own internal contradictions and becomes faith-based. Future anthropologists will have a difficult time sorting out all the bizarre rituals and sacraments of this early 21st-century progressive cult.

In today’s headlines, we have three crystal clear illustrations of the phenomenon. Let’s begin first with the recent case of the four-year California drought (2011-2015)

1) President Obama, Governor Jerry Brown, and California’s legislative leadership all declared the drought to be a result of climate change. Accordingly, it would both be near permanent and demand government intervention to make radical changes in Californians’ lifestyles;

2) Yet in some 120 years of accurate record-keeping, no California drought seems to have lasted much longer than four years;

3) Not a single new reservoir, canal, or aqueduct was started during the drought, although several projects had been envisioned over a half-century earlier in the original blueprints of the state California Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project.

California has not handled the immigration thing well, to say the least. The problems are fairly clear, but the ability of progressives to deal with them is another matter entirely.

The refusal by California universities to hear speakers who might say something offensive to pearl like little ears, which then developed into riots,  is becoming almost commonplace. That is not to say it is acceptable.

A sad story of the failure of Progressivism. Means well. Doesn’t work.

Oh Good Lord, Another March, And Another! by The Elephant's Child

There was a “march” on Saturday, this one for the Climate, just when Energy Department Undersecretary Steven Koonin admitted that in the Obama administration they manipulated the scientific data about the climate to mislead the public. Marches have become so common that I completely missed this one, which was apparently financed by George Soros, all-purpose villain, to the tune of $36 million. But a march for the climate, how perfectly silly. This charming shot is of the aftermath of the march by the folks who care so much about the planet, and recycling, and the pristine outdoors.

Today is May Day, no longer a sweet holiday to celebrate the coming of spring with maypoles and such, but time for another march. You have probably noticed that all these marches are just anti-Trump and have no other real purpose. When May Day became a holiday for socialists and labor union activists, the date was taken over by the Soviet Union and other communist regimes as a propaganda tool, where they could show off their military might and big weapons. Ilya Somin recommends using the day to remind the world of the victims  as a Victims of Communism Day. The one hundredth anniversary of the October Revolution—the Bolshevik takeover of Russia.

The authoritative Black Book of Communism estimates the Soviet victims as a total of 90 to 100 million dead, greater than all the other tyrannies combined. Yet we still have useful idiots who are just sure that Communism is a better system.

The Soviet Union was not the most oppressive communist regime. It probably did not match the even more thoroughgoing totalitarianism of the Khmer Rouge and North Korea. Nor did it kill the most people – a record held by Mao Zedong the Chinese communists. But the Soviet experiment was the principal model for all the later communist states, and it is hard to imagine communists seizing control of so much of the world without it.

So we have thousands of college students who are so ignorant of history that Communism seems quaint, and Bernie Sanders is cute with his great  shock of white hair and lifelong enthusiasm for socialism. Obama opens relations with communist Cuba and all the lefties are anxious to visit and see the charming old cars and crumbling buildings.

We are having a march in Seattle for May Day, workers’ rights,  communism and, of course,  mostly anti-Trump. They carry signs, but they can’t spell or make sense. Tiresome.  In Portland, they are more violent and are breaking windows and setting fires in the street.

Are marches loosing their effectiveness or was there never any effectiveness to begin with? A happy May Day to all, and perhaps we’d better go back to Maypoles and flower baskets and a welcome to Spring.


Where Are the Moderate Muslims? by The Elephant's Child

The Script:

After every new Jihadist attack against the West, politicians reassure us that the atrocity does not represent the true nature of mainstream Islam. Of the 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, they constantly reassure us, the overwhelming majority are as law abiding as any members of any other monotheistic faith. Only a tiny fraction engage in terror. And Islam is a religion of peace. Furthermore, we are told, the great majority of Muslims hold moderate views.

But what does that mean? How moderate are moderate Muslims? Given the threat of radical Islam, it would seem to be a fair question. Let me start to answer it by telling you something of my own story.

I was raised in a middle class Muslim home in Cairo, Egypt. Growing up, I was told, among many other things, the following: That every day that passes on the Islamic nation without a caliphate is a sin. That the failures and miseries of the Muslim world started the moment we Muslims gave up conquests and wars against the infidels. That our prosperity depended on conquering new lands and converting new believers. That anyone who leaves the faith must die. And I also remember how my teachers and my mosque imams reacted to the news of 9/11 when it happened: joy.

My experience was typical, and there is data to prove it: According to the Pew Research Center, 88% of Muslims in Egypt, 62% in Pakistan, 86% in Jordan and 51% in Nigeria believe that any Muslim who chooses to leave Islam should be put to death. Similar, if not identical, numbers are in favor of stoning people who commit adultery, severely punishing those who criticize Muhammad or Islam, and chopping off hands for theft.

All of these practices are a part of the penal code of Islamic law, which is known as Sharia. And 84% of Muslims in South Asia, 77% in Southeast Asia, 74% in the Middle East and North Africa and 64% in Sub-Saharan Africa support Sharia as the law of the land. Less drastic, yet significant, percentages are to be found even among Muslim communities in the West.

So, too, most of the world’s Muslims believe that any acts of violence against Israel, including suicide bombers in buses and restaurants, are justified. Now, does any of this sound moderate to you? Yet if anyone raises these inconvenient truths here in the West, he is sure to be called an Islamophobe, a hater of Islam. Again, my own story is instructive.

In February of 2015, I was yelled at, cursed at, and successfully prevented from speaking at Swarthmore College by students and others who did not agree to what I was saying. Some of them were Muslim women who fit the image of the unveiled, perfect English-speaking, moderate Muslim young woman. Other seeming “moderates” tried and failed to do the same during my speech at Temple University the next day. Some of them, sadly, were students of journalism.


For the complete script, visit…

These videos from Prager University are, I believe, invaluable. Short lessons that give you some food for thought, but take up only a few minutes of your time. Hopefully, the information is more likely to stick. This young man makes clear that the idea of “Islamophobia” and the idea that Sharia law is or should be protected by our First Amendment’s freedom of religion, are completely and dangerously false. Islam is badly in need of a Reformation.

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