American Elephants

A Little Good News for a Change by The Elephant's Child

green-7 by anild sud courtesy eyeTraffic in the Seattle area was impossible yesterday, due to e visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping, and aside from his entourage, there must have been hundreds of newspeople. The rest of us still have our ordinary errands, which became hours long instead of minutes. Should have stayed home.

On the East Coast they have the same problems because of the visit of the Pope. Today, a horrible traffic accident in Seattle between a tour bus and the Duck Bus  (another tourist enterprise), four people killed, forty-four taken to hospitals. It’s clearly time for some good news and Ronald Bailey at the Reason Foundation supplies it, from their latest magazine.

Paul Erlich, notorious spreader of gloom and doom, was deeply concerned with overpopulation, along with his wife biologist Anne Erlich in the March 2013 Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Not only overpopulation, but overconsumption of natural resources, but “global toxification” which has “exposed the human population to myriad subtle poisons.

Hasn’t happened, for the greening of the earth caused by the natural fertilization of plants from increased amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere means more food. Fewer people across the world are going hungry.

Most people think that the risk of dying from cancer is going up because of chemicals and pollution, but even as the number of man-made chemicals has increased, your risk of dying from cancer has been decreasing for more than 40 years. Age-adjusted rates of cancer have been dropping largely because fewer people are smoking,  more Americans are having colonoscopies, and cancers are being diagnosed and treated earlier.

The overall incidence of cancer has been falling by about 0.6 percent a year. Modern medicine has increased the five-year survival rates of cancer patients from 50 percent in the 1970s to 68 percent today. That means that in recent years about 100,000 people each year who would have died are alive today.

Although President George W. Bush has been widely criticized for the Medicare Drug program because of the program’s cost, it has saved a lot of lives by getting needed medications to seniors at prices they could afford. It is the only program that came in at less than the estimated cost because of the “donut hole” incentive that encouraged seniors to use generics when they were as effective as more expensive brand-name medicines. Democrats, who simply do not understand incentives, eliminated the incentive, so costs are higher now.

The Erlichs are still going on about overpopulation and shortage of food, but in most societies women with more education have fewer children. Given current age, sex and education trends world population will most likely peak at 9.6 billion by 2070 and then begin falling. If education levels are pursued more aggressively, would population could top out at 8.9 billion in 2060 before starting to drop. Increased economic opportunities, more education, longer lives, more liberty are all trends that reinforce each other and accelerate the trend of falling global fertility.

In 1950 the average yield in the U.S. for a acre of corn was 51 bushels which would support 5 people for a year.  Today, the yield from an acre of corn is 166 bushels that would supply enough calories to support 16 people for a year. (Since we are a rich country, we’re putting a lot of it in our gas tanks) In India the average is 42 bushels that would support 4 people and in Africa, the yield is an average 32 bushels per acre per year to feed just 3 people. With lots of room for improvement.

Much of the increase in our food supply can be attributed to advances in biotech crops.

The board of directors of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) the largest scientific organization in the United States has, on October 20, 2012 point-blank asserted that “contrary to popular misconceptions, GM crops are the most extensively tested crops ever added to our food supply. There are occasional claims that feeding GM foods to animals causes aberrations ranging from digestive disorders, to sterility tumors and premature death. Although such claims are often sensationalized and receive a great deal of media attention, none have stood up to rigorous scientific scrutiny.” The AAAS board concluded, “indeed, the science is quite clear: crop improvement by the modern molecular techniques of biotechnology is safe.”

The entire article is here, and offers some positive news for those who follow the IPPC’s version of fear about global warming as well.

We still have our worries about the economy, national security, wars and trials and tribulations, education, and the general messed-up state of humanity, but really, there is good news.

All Because of Democrat Talking Points! by The Elephant's Child

California Governor Jerry Brown, sometimes referred to as “Governor Moonbeam,”is at it again. He wants to control greenhouse gas emissions. That’s the climate change agenda of the country’s most prominent Democrats. They have pledged to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions by 80% by 2050. They’ve given this the clever slogan “80 by 50.”

Earlier this month, by just two votes the Assembly rejected SB32 which would have required the state to reach 80 by 50. Pushing the bill was the state’s Democratic leadership, the governor and  U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein. President Obama has repeatedly endorsed the plan as have all of the candidates for the Presidency except Jim Webb.

What, asks Robert Bryce of the Manhattan Institute, would this mean to real people, or the citizens of California? Residents of California would be asked to night1emit less carbon dioxide than do the current residents of North Korea. Surely you have seen the satellite pictures of North Korea at night. That one bright spot is undoubtedly Kim Jong Un’s palace.

Wind and s0lar energy cannot accomplish the desired reduction — they require vast acreages of land and 24/7 backup from a conventional power source.  Nuclear energy would do the trick, but Democrats and environmentalists are totally opposed to nuclear energy, and building nuclear energy plants is not cheap. Germany estimates that for them to reach the 80 by 50 target would cost another $1.3 trillion. For us it would be over $5 trillion.

That brings us to an interesting article from Phillip Rucker of the Washington Post. He asks if Democrats and Republicans are talking about the same country? Of course we are not. Democrats follow Democrat talking points. They all march to the same tune. They are interested in income inequality, although their policies do nothing to reduce it. They simply accept climate change as a crisis, not because they have ever looked into the science, but because they just accept Democrat talking points as gospel. They care desperately about workplace equality for women, although equal pay for equal jobs has been the law since 1963. Other than a campaign issue, they don’t pay any attention to the law anyway. Women in the White House are paid less for the same job, as are, I have read, women in Hillary’s campaign.

On climate change, I refer you to my previous post, about 20 scientists  asking that climate deniers be prosecuted for their beliefs. It turns out that the organization responsible for the letter to the President asking for skeptics to be prosecuted is almost entirely funded by U.S. taxpayers. Scientists with the Institute of Global Environment and Society gets millions from taxpayers, and the lead scientist gets a six-figure salary for part-time work.

On top of that, we have the Associated Press changing the language. The AP announced today that it will no longer use the terms “climate change deniers” or “climate change skeptics” to refer to “those who don’t believe the world is warming or don’t accept climate science.”

The wire service sets the style standard for many news organizations. They announced they will refer to “individuals who reject climate change” as “climate change doubters” or “those who reject mainstream climate science.”  Oh please! Could I possibly ask for a better demonstration of why I seldom pay attention to news from the Associated Press? The American people’s trust in Mass Media has returned to an all-time low at 40% who believe the news is reported fairly and accurately.

The scientists who do not accept the work of the IPCC, don’t accept it because it is not correct, and designed for a political point, not a scientific point. The earth is always warming and cooling as it has done for millions of years. We have had periods much warmer than today as the Medieval Warm Period when grapes grew in England, and the Vikings farmed in Iceland. It’s known as the finest climate ever, and led to the Renaissance. We have also had Ice Ages, and more recently the Little Ice Age in the 1800s.

Another day, another battle over whether of not climate change is a catastrophe. Representative Paul Gosar (R-AZ) has filed Articles of Impeachment against EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, with 20 other members of Congress because she committed perjury and made several false statements at multiple congressional hearings, and as a result is guilty of  high crimes and misdemeanors.

Two Down, Fourteen to Go. by The Elephant's Child

I’m really troubled. The two most accomplished governors in the country have both suspended their campaigns for the Republican nomination. Rick Perry administered a state that created most of the new jobs in the country. Liberals predicted that Texas would go bust along with oil prices when they started to drop, but 2014 was the year that oil prices fell to $53 a barrel in December from more than $107 in June.

But Austin has little exposure to the energy industry, and business other than government is booming. Texas has no personal or corporate income tax, and job growth continues to soar. Texas is in the business of wealth creation, not redistribution.

Scott Walker shifted power from unions to workers, where it belongs. Wisconsin has outdone the nation on most economic indicators. The unemployment rate is lower than the national average, and improving. After four years of Gov. Walker, more Wisconsinites are employed and his policies are clearly working. Add in an attempt to recall him, death threats to his family, protests at his parent’s home, and the use of law enforcement as a political instrument in an attempt to undo election results. Above all, he clearly has a steel spine, something we have all been wishing for.

Well, sour grapes. Walker, perhaps rose to the top too soon,too fast, and the vast number of candidates, hostile unions determined to destroy him,  a liberal media that regarded him as the most dangerous man in the bunch — liberals will do anything to silence those who disagree, and someone who is successful in overturning everything in the original progressive state is very dangerous to the liberal agenda.

I expected some to drop out, but not my two favorites while the less deserving, hang on. It’s politics, and the unexpected usually happens.

ADDENDUM: I’ve read dozens of other commentary on Scott Walkers suspension of his campaign. The only satisfying answer, setting aside the snark, is that he entered the race on a vast wave of enthusiasm, and the campaign spent way too much money in the first weeks, and as yet people are just getting acquainted with the candidates, and not really ready to settle on a single favorite. The too much money spent too early wasn’t getting replenished that fast. He just ran out of money and poll numbers.

Is Barack Obama the Most Poisonously Partisan President in American History? by The Elephant's Child


Poisonously partisan. That is probably the shortest and clearest description of the eight years of the Obama administration. Every department, agency and bureau has been politicized. Barack Obama is fiercely competitive, but he apparently never learned that to make things work — you need cooperation.

It’s far harder and more intellectually challenging to work together with people with whom you generally disagree for the good of the nation — a nation with over 300 million different opinions and desires. Obama has his own peculiar vision, and he is going to impose it on us all. Don’t even think of trying to stop him.

Surely you have noticed that the Obama administration is increasingly intolerant of those who disagree with them on any subject. The remarkable letter from 20 scientists to request that those who disagree with them about the science of climate change should be prosecuted is only one of the most recent examples.

Another is the exclusion of Hillsdale College, a 1,500 student liberal arts college in Michigan, ranked as the 67th best liberal arts college in the country, from the Obama extolled new “College Scorecard”, because it “Isn’t a real two-to four year college.” A lot of their graduates would be astonished at that one. The problem is that Hillsdale (founded in 1844) does not accept any federal funding (including federal student loans) in order to be free of federal regulatory control. Do not look for lot of gender studies courses, nor much emphasis on “triggering” and hate speech. They don’t embarrass themselves by banning speakers with unconventional ideas, but instead print up excerpts for their free speech digest which goes (free) to some 3 million subscribers. (I am one)

Leftist professors are systematically indoctrinating their students into believing that 9/11 was all our fault. A freshman-level English class taught at several major universities across the country called “the Literature of 9/11” focuses entirely on the writings from the perspective if the Islamic terrorists rather than the 3,000 Americans killed in the attack. Terrorists are portrayed as “freedom fighters” driven by oppressive U.S. foreign policies.

How’s this for partisanship? There are 8.8 million legal US immigrants eligible for citizenship. Obama wants to get them all through the citizenship process before the 2016 election. He will allow credit card payments instead of cash for the fees, and he is waiving qualifications, such as the requirement that new citizens agree to be called upon for military service if they are needed. He wants them registered to vote before the election.

The war on religion is serious and intense. Many Leftists have expressed a desire to get rid of the first amendment. They oppose freedom of speech — because those on the right disagree. Those on the right also are far better informed about the real importance of the Bill of Rights and what it means. The Left hates freedom of religion and the people who oppose abortion because of their religious views. Catholics like Nancy Pelosi pander a bit by insisting it’s all about women’s health. Opposition to gay marriage is considered a hate crime.

On the eve of Pope Francis’s arrival in the United States, the Vatican has taken offense at the Obama administration’s decision to invite to the pope’s welcoming ceremony transgender activists, the first openly gay Episcopal bishop and an activist nun who leads a group criticized by the Vatican for its silence on abortion and euthanasia. This is purposeful, and unbelievably ill-mannered. Obama’s latest pettiness seeks to embarrass his guest in order to make a domestic political point about “tolerance” and “diversity.” As Rick Moran said: “The Catholic Church is not a democracy. The pope can’t “change his mind” about gay marriage like so many Democrats do.”

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has advocated for women in combat, the Marine Corps intends to prohibit women in several front line combat roles. It has to do with some simple things like 68 pound packs and sharpshooting ability. Obama’s female nominee for  Under Secretary of the Navy, wants women in combat. She says “this is not just using the military for social engineering.” Of course it is. There’s a bit of difference between piloting an airplane as she did,  and carrying a 68 lb. pack, carrying a fellow soldier out of the line of fire. Men and women are different,  and remain so in spite of social engineering.

The Obama administration’s efforts to unconstitutionally bypass Congress with executive orders, arbitrary suspension of laws or simple non-enforcement, and exempting party loyalists from legal accountability is a disgrace. Obama is often called a professor of Constitutional Law, but he was only a part-time instructor of civil rights law. He does not take the Constitution seriously, which means that he doesn’t understand just what the United States Constitution, the world’s oldest and most revered, really means to the freedom of man. No cities on shining hills for Obama.

Do the folks objecting so vociferously to “birthright babies” ever stop to think about just why those mothers are so determined to get their children American citizenship?

Do You Dare To Disagree? You Must Go To Jail! by The Elephant's Child

slide_272890_1944640_freeThey are panicking! Some climate people have bet the farm on a dangerously warming earth, and the need to instantly switch to clean natural energy so we aren’t polluting the world by burning nasty coal and using nasty gasoline and creating the CO2 in the atmosphere that is causing all the trouble. It’s our fault. But we are promised a colder winter, the claims of a lack of sea ice in the Arctic and Antarctic are disproved by satellite photography. There’s millions and millions of subsidies and grants building wind farms and solar arrays, and they are still not producing much energy at all.

The science of global warming is so settled that 20 climate scientists have written to President Obama to ask him to prosecute the people who “have knowingly deceived the American people about the risks of climate change as a means to forestall America’s response to climate change.” They want him to use the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) — a law enacted to take down organized crime syndicates. The 20 scientists repeated the claims made by radical green groups that those who have had the colossal nerve to disagree with them — have engaged in a misinformation campaign to confuse the public on global warming.

It is CO2, carbon dioxide produced by humans in their capitalist greed for money. Obama should be sympathetic, he claimed his election was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to halt and the earth began to heal. Activists have successfully pressured governments to declare CO2 a pollutant and to take drastic action to reduce the amount entering the atmosphere. And down with Capitalism too!

The folks at Heartland Institute have come up with an excellent mental exercise to explain about carbon dioxide. Picture a large football stadium that will hold about 10,000 people in the stands. Assume that each person in the stadium represents a small volume of one type of gas.

•Nitrogen (N2)  ………….. 78% of the Atmosphere……………….  7,800 people

•Oxygen (O2)    ………….. 21% of the Atmosphere………………… 2,100 people

•Argon (A))…………………….1% of the Atmosphere…………………   100 people

•Carbon Dioxide (CO2)0.038% of the Atmosphere………………….. 4 people

Carbon dioxide makes up only 4 parts in 10,0000. Historically low.
Approximately 2 % of the atmosphere is water vapor or clouds.

Moreover, those who name CO2 as a pollutant are not concerned with the 4 parts, but only with 1 part–the portion added during the past 150 years by the burning of fossil fuels. This 1/10,000 increase is the target of the Kyoto Protocol.

Remember high school biology and photosynthesis? After Nitrogen, Oxygen is the most common gas. The leaves of trees and other plants take in CO2 from the atmosphere, retaining the carbon for plant food, while releasing the O2 back into the atmosphere.

The present level of CO2 in the atmosphere is extremely low by historical standards. If atmospheric CO2 is significantly reduced, it is more likely that slower plant growth could affect world food supplies while having little effect on global warming. The life of all plants and animals on Earth is dependent on CO2 for food and oxygen.

Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. It is the staff of life for our planet.

What if they find out? The EPA gets in big trouble, grants for climate studies vanish, wind farms go quiet and the turbines sit there rusting. The birds can fly free and not face being chopped up, and I don’t know what they do with the solar arrays. A lot of crony capitalists lose their subsidies and their shirts. And global warming skeptics don’t go to jail after all.

Are Americans Really Angry? Or Is It Something Else Entirely? by The Elephant's Child

Obama-Libya-Remains_Horo-635x357If you read a lot of headlines, it would seem the Americans are really angry. But what are they angry about? If man-on-the-street interviews are to be believed (Obviously six or eight participants are not a meaningful sample) they don’t know what they are talking about. Or do they?

Matthew Continetti summed it up nicely in one paragraph in the Weekly Standard.

What is happening in the world? When one looks at recent news, one can’t help feeling a sense of bewilderment. A storied Olympian announces his new gender on the cover of Vanity Fair, the Supreme Court declares same-sex marriage a constitutional right, racial violence returns to St. Louis and Baltimore, police are ambushed and murdered in New York City and Houston, murder is on the rise, Democratic candidates apologize for saying all lives matter, “trigger warnings” precede the teaching of Ovid at university, the president unilaterally amnesties millions of illegal immigrants, politically correct mobs use social media to silence dissent and intimidate heretics, hundreds of thousands of migrants flood into Europe, a slowing Chinese economy causes volatility in the U.S. stock market, more than 70 percent of Americans say they are unhappy with the direction of the country, and the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination is a billionaire television star who promises to deport illegal aliens, oppose free trade, raise taxes on hedge funds, and establish a national health plan where “you can get everything in Obamacare, but much more.”

And it’s all true. I could, however have written an entirely different paragraph with different worries that would be equally true. People have been shocked by the sheer barbarism of ISIS, and nobody does anything to stop it. Or is it the regulations that are imposed on us by executive order rather than by the people we elected to Congress. We thought that people of other races were melding ever more completely into American society, and instead we have riots and killings and a breakdown of law enforcement relations with American blacks. China is building a military base in the middle of the South China Sea on islands they are building on some reefs. Russia is invading the Ukraine, threatening the Baltic States, claiming the North Pole as its own territory. And the president is urging the EPA on in its quest to shut down he coal-fired power plants providing 40 percent of our electricity in favor of wind farms and solar arrays that produce very little energy at enormous expense in taxpayer subsidies. That’s just a few of mine, and I’m sure you could each come up with your own list.

Here are four important voices explaining why we are where we are:

Victor Davis Hanson: Is Obama Correctable? Here and abroad, the Obama administration damages whatever it touches.

Richard A. Epstein: The Consequences of Obama’s Weakness
Bad consequences follow when a United States President thinks that he an counter forces of terrorism and world disorder on the cheap without the use or threat of ground forces.

Noah Rothman: The Culmination of Obama’s Indulgent Foreign Policy Much ink has been wasted over the course of this presidency attempting to identify (or to invent) something that could be reasonably considered an Obama doctrine.

Walter Russell Mead: Fecklessness 101: The endgame in Syria: Apparently the Obama administration turned down a Russian offer to dump Assad…because the Administration was sure he was going to fall on his own.

Australia Changes Prime Ministers by The Elephant's Child

150914-turnbullAustralia’s Liberal party has given the Prime Minister’s job to Malcolm Turnbull today, a mere two years after Prime Minister Tony Abbott won a strong election mandate. Their Liberal Party is the conservative one in Australia, opposed by the Labor  Party.

Mr. Turnbull, who won the vote among Liberal MPs 54-44, was also exacting some political revenge. The 60-year-old former barrister and venture capitalist had been the Liberal leader in opposition until late 2009, when Mr. Abbott challenged him and won by one vote. Mr. Turnbull had made the mistake of endorsing the expensive and unpopular carbon tax pushed by the Labor Party government.

Mr. Abbott’s opposition to the carbon tax helped bring the center-right Liberals back to power, and Mr. Turnbull now says he’ll keep the Abbott government’s climate policy. But his earlier support for faddish climate-change regulation illustrates the doubts about his convictions among the Liberal rank and file. He is more socially liberal than Mr. Abbott, which will help among young people on same-sex marriage, but he is also seen as someone without firm convictions.

Mr. Turnbull is closer to the business community than is Mr. Abbott, and he’ll need its help because his main challenge is reviving economic growth. Australia hasn’t had a recession in 24 years as it rode the global commodity boom, but growth slowed to 0.2% in the second quarter thanks to falling Chinese demand and the world-wide commodity bust.

When the world is in turmoil, the people get restless. Australia has been very dependent on commodities and more competitive in a range of global goods and services. Mr. Abbott made policy on the fly, and made decisions to cut spending on areas that he had promised to protect and to raise taxes without preparing the public.

Mr. Turnbull will have to make the case that Australia needs to become less dependent on commodities and more competitive across a whole range of global goods and services. He is a little more left than his predecessor. He says he will keep the Abbott government’s climate policy, though he’s earlier supported climate change regulation. The Aussie’s distaste for a carbon tax is what won the election for Mr. Abbott.

Australia’s ruling party has given the job of Prime Minister to Malcolm Turnbull turning out Tony Abbott a mere two years after Mr. Abbott won the job with a strong election mandate.

Mr. Turnbull, who won the vote among Liberal MPs 54-44, was also exacting some political revenge. The 60-year-old former barrister and venture capitalist had been the Liberal leader in opposition until late 2009, when Mr. Abbott challenged him and won by one vote. Mr. Turnbull had made the mistake of endorsing the expensive and unpopular carbon tax pushed by the Labor Party government.

Mr. Abbott’s opposition to the carbon tax helped bring the center-right Liberals back to power, and Mr. Turnbull now says he’ll keep the Abbott government’s climate policy. But his earlier support for faddish climate-change regulation illustrates the doubts about his convictions among the Liberal rank and file. He is more socially liberal than Mr. Abbott, which will help among young people on same-sex marriage, but he is also seen as someone without firm convictions.


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