American Elephants


Bellevue Police Have Arrested 23 Looters So Far. by The Elephant's Child

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The world is changing around us, and we often don’t notice until we are suddenly confronted with the evidence. In this case, I think I mentioned that BLM protesters turned up in downtown Bellevue, doing their protesty thing, fists raised to indicate how serious they were.

The presence of Bellevue Square, the most affluent mall in the Seattle area, brought potential looters up from South Seattle. And they promptly found looting far more interesting than just plain old protesting. The Square had been closed and locked down for Covid-19, but they knew the stores were all there with luxury goods inside.

We could see, online, bystanders watching while looters came out of the square carrying wastebaskets and garbage cans piled high with loot. Today, however, everybody has a camera. And as the looters came out, bystanders were taking their pictures.

Bellevue police have arrested 23 looters identified so far, from the photos taken by bystanders. They have recovered tens of thousands of dollars of merchandise, as well as alcohol, tobacco, weapons and drugs. Gosh, who knew that while you were getting the clothes for the new school year for free, someone was taking your picture. And the Police Chief even spoke to the crowd to express his sympathy for the George Floyd protest. Didn’t impress the protesters at all. Of course the protesters were far more interested in the looting than in the protesting. Do follow the link above for the King 5 coverage.

I’m appalled that it was allowed to go on so much. If you want some kind of change, act like a grownup, express your objective clearly with evidence, to the people who can make the legal changes which you advocate. Running around with fists raised shouting vulgarities is more plain childish than effective. And looting is simply theft and will be punished by law. Hope you all get significant terms in jail.



Tear Them Down, Civil War Generals and Columbus Too! by The Elephant's Child

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Now we seem to have reached the stage of tearing down statues and destroying monuments, for what purpose is not entirely clear. History has become a bad thing, to be ignored or changed to suit more contemporary minds. Since our schools have been doing a lousy job with history anyway, our people don’t seem to know much history. The center of the current rioting is, of course, the American Civil War, fought between the North and the South, and at the heart of things was slavery. The South lost. The Slaves were freed, and slavery became against the law. So why do they seem to be fighting it all over again 169 years later? Statues of Civil War Generals must be torn down, defaced, destroyed. Places named for Civil War generals need to have their names changed, and Nancy Pelosi wants large numbers of the statues in Statuary Hall (I’ve never been there) removed, although they were put there by the states themselves.

Place names: Fort Bragg, and Fort Benning. Quick, can anybody tell me who is honored with these names of military posts, and cities? Does the name Braxton Bragg ring any bells? Thought not. How about Henry L. Benning? How can these be names that must be removed because of their terrible associations if nobody knows who they are and Forts Bragg and Benning are just names, like Sally or Bill? that serve only to distinguish the bearers from Susan and Sam?

Of course Christopher Columbus has been torn down in the last few days as well. I can guarantee that he had nothing to do with the Civil War, so why? I think it’s the vague thought that he was mean to the native Indians, ignoring the wonders of the Columbian Exchange, and the childhood rhyme “In 14 hundred and ninety two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” That latter verse may be what most kids learned about history in grade school.

Victor Davis Hanson took up the same subject in National Review’s Corner: “On Name Changing and Statue Toppling” . The removal of anything Columbus has been going on longer, but I have no idea what they have in mind. The Nation of Columbia, the Columbia River, Columbia University, and several hundred other things come to mind. Take a moment and look up “The Columbian Exchange” if you are unfamiliar with it.

As I have said, and so many other have said, history is the record of what happened. And for that matter a record of the order in which things happened. If tractors and plows had been developed much earlier, the South would have had no need for slaves to produce their cotton crops for British mills. Remember, it was the British that really started the elimination of slavery when they banned the Atlantic slave trade, and set the Royal Navy to work to stop it..

It’s clear that what must change is a little more attention to the curriculum in our schools. They are doing a lousy job with history, and the historical ignorance out there is having a major effect on politics and our understanding of the world. Hillsdale College offers some free online classes in history, especially American history. If we don’t understand where we have been, and how we have progressed and why, we’re going to make a mess of the future.

I don’t believe that tearing down statues, changing the names of military bases, or re-fighting the Civil War, the War Between the States, will improve the lives of our Black citizens in  the slightest. We have created many programs, opened many doors and clearly, more is needed. Charter schools seem to be doing a good job, but I guess it’s teachers’ unions who fight against them. Perhaps the most important example was the young black kid in Columbus Ohio, who was written up recently for walking 3 miles every day to the public library that offered homework help. He has been offered admission to 12 different colleges, including the one he most wants to attend.



Other Voices About Race And Policing by The Elephant's Child

Aside from the goofiness on Seattle’s Capitol Hill, the discussions about Race and Police are serious and deserve serious thought and discussion.

Heather Mac Donald is a fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research who has written extensively on criminal justice. She has several important books out and here are her comments submitted to the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives in response to the Oversight Hearing on Policing Practices. It is truly important to get the views of someone who is an expert in the field and knowledgeable about the criminal justice and policing. Do read the whole thing if you can make the time. You’ll be glad you did.

Here is Columbia University linguist John McWhorter on “How Anti Racism Hurts Black People.”

And PowerLine included this tweet from Doctor Tyrone Wilson:

Dr. Tyrone Wilson @DrTyroneWilson1

In 8 years of residency and attending as a trauma surgeon, I’ve had 67 young black men end up on my operating table from gunshot wounds.

I CAN’T MAKE THIS CLEAR ENOUGH

NONE OF THEM ENDED UP THERE AT THE HANDS OF POLICE OR A WHITE PERSON.

NONE OF THEM….ZERO#BLMisLiberalBS

Serious subjects, and many of us are inclined to respond to emotion rather than taking the time to study up. The death of George Floyd was surely a terrible act. Suggestions that it was intentional are clearly premature, as the autopsy’s suggest , but such an emotional thing to see his death online, that the whole world was troubled.

Black lives of course matter, and more people than many blacks can conceive want them to succeed and prosper.



Shelby Steele, Longtime Civil Rights Leader, Says “Blacks Have Never Been Less Oppressed” by The Elephant's Child

Shelby Steele had a long interview with Mark Levin last night. He has long been a champion of black civil rights, was a veteran of the civil rights movement in the 1960s, and a bestselling author. He doesn’t think much of the riots and looting that have been dominating the news. Blacks, he says, have never been less oppressed in American society. Blacks, he said flatly, have never faced less oppression, and they simply have to take responsibility for their position at the bottom of any socioeconomic measures.

Steele is a fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, and an author of many books on race relations. Some are White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era, and Shame: How America’s Past Sins Have Polarized Our Country.

This article about the Mark Levin show, includes a video from the show, and much more of the conversation with Steele. I don’t think that the things that are holding blacks back are things that have to be given to them. Demand Charter Schools, they seem to really work well. Demand that public libraries offer homework help. Wait till after you are married to have babies. It mostly helps to have a father in the home. Public libraries have free storytimes, when a librarian reads to the kids, and they get to discover what wonders can be found in a book. Large numbers of companies are anxious to hire black workers, and not just for the scut work. It enhances their reputations to be welcoming to people of many races.



Six Square Blocks in Seattle: Antifa’s Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone by The Elephant's Child

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What an interesting day! I got up late, but while I was sleeping, apparently Antifa rioters were hard at work, capturing a six-block square territory on Seattle’s Capitol Hill, proclaiming it “The Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone“, under their own rules and regulations, seceding from the United States of America and issuing a long list of demands, unsurprisingly silly.

The Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct, under attack from rioters, closed the precinct station down late yesterday, and evacuated before somebody got hurt. By early today the separatists had apparently run out of money and had to beg for food from supporters, beg for people with guns to help protect them, and the City helpfully provided them with dumpsters and porta-potties.

Protesters led by activist Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant occupied City Hall downtown last night for just over an hour, called for the resignation of Mayor Jenny Durkan, and the defunding of the Seattle Police Department. They entered chanting “Whose City Hall? Our City Hall!” and a number of speakers on a range of issues spoke on the importance of Black LGBTQIA+ (Not sure that I can translate that, but you get the idea). “It is about building the kind of political representation that brings the voice of the people into the halls of power and grabs power for ordinary people” Sawant said. :Please stop using Black Lives Matter for your political campaigns, also noting the whiteness of many speakers at recent protests.  Sawant also had critical words for her council colleagues who she called “corporate politicians” and “sellouts.”

There are apparently around 500 residential homes in the area, so they have stationed a fire truck there, just in case. While the mayor claimed to keep the area safe, she told the rioters.

“As the Chief takes this operational step, we will continue to remain focused on what we can and must do to address the systemic inequities that continue to disproportionately impact our Black residents,” she tweeted. “Yesterday, we announced a commitment to invest $100 million dollars into community – in addition to existing city programs — and to work with community to create a Black Commission that will help to amplify black voices in City Hall.” She added “With these operational changes, our city can peacefully move forward together.”

The rioters have declared independence from the city itself, and if they are seceding from the United States as well, they will have to negotiate with President Donald Trump. Which might prove interesting.

The Seattle area is home to an enormous number of colleges and universities, which may have something to do with this. There is the University of Washington, Pacific Lutheran, University of Puget Sound, Seattle University, Seattle Pacific University, Northwest University, Bellevue College, all sorts of Community colleges and Evergreen, a list that does not begin to include all the trade schools and branch locations. And, due to the Corona Virus shutdowns, they are not in session. College kids, having learned protesting in college, have in many cases  been trained in the wonderfulness of socialism as well. There will be lots more excitement, I’m sure, before we can get back to normal life. Some COVID-19 watchers seem to think that because of all the riots and crowds, we’ll  have another bad outbreak in the fall, others don’t think so.

How long our major corporations will be willing to put up with this (Increased taxes for Amazon and Microsoft are a common demand) is an unknown. The rioters seem remarkably free from any knowledge of history, or much of anything else as far as that goes. Certainly young blacks growing up in single-parent households, in bad neighborhoods, don’t see a path to success ahead of them. That is not the fault of the police, who try to keep neighborhoods safe.

Aside from abolishing the police, Seattle protesters have demanded not only amnesty, but free health care and free college. The Black Lives Matter people might pay a little more attention to the young black Ohio teen who walked three miles every day, to go to his public library that offered homework help. He has been offered admission to 12 colleges, including the one he most wants to attend.



Peaceful Protest? Haven’t Seen One Yet. by The Elephant's Child

Well. Take a nation full of cranky people tired of being cooped up by the Covid-19 virus shutdowns, not being able to get what they ordered from the grocery store because other people are apparently hoarding, kids at home going crazy because there is no school, and they are bored, and can’t even go to the park,  college kids home from the universities without summer jobs, everybody pours out into the streets to have a nice peaceful protest.

We know it is a peaceful protest because the media have told us every few minutes that it is a “peaceful protest” as we watch the riots online. You can watch as the “peaceful protesters” beat on the windows of the music shop until it finally gives and they push their way through to reemerge with free brand new guitars which seem to be the most popular instrument. Watch the protesters set Police Cars on fire, looters breaking into every shop that promises to have goods worth stealing, rioters wanting to tear down everything to demonstrate their personal anger, over the death of someone they don’t know. Officials at every level are virtue-signaling like crazy for fear that someone will blame them. They hardly know how to respond to the demands. Abolish the Police Force, Get rid of the mayor. Kill the Pigs!

Sunday has been another day of violence and protests. How much of it is a result of the nation’s college kids home from school, unemployed, confined by the Covid-19 shutdown remains to be seen, but the protesters do seem to be of that general age. Their universities have taught them all sorts of socialist nonsense and they don’t even understand the Constitution, let alone our history. We fought a war over slavery and eliminated it.

Undoubtedly just a coincidence. Minneapolis suffered a lot of damage, buildings burned down, the Third Precinct, home to the police who encountered George Floyd was burned as were many of the adjacent buildings if I understand what I read.

The answer the rioters have come up with is to abolish the police. Just not have police anymore, then we won’t have all this trouble with bad policemen. Brilliant. Why didn’t we think of that before? If we just get rid of the police, then they cannot arrest innocent Blacks and put them in prison. Black lives matter! Easy solution.

The Democrats in Congress are now busy drafting “the most sweeping national police reform bill in  history,” which essentially will give the activists all their little hearts desire. So there you go, what more could you possibly want?

A little crisis going on, and you find out just what your public officials are made of, and it’s not pretty. Pay close attention, for if they behave badly in this situation, you can’t expect much in another and should perhaps look for better representation. The Democrats in the House are determined to demonstrate their outrage too, they might lose some black votes if they don’t.



An Idea Worth Pursuing, With Changes. by The Elephant's Child

I have seen suggestions online for a CoronaVirus Museum. Presumably, what is meant is a formally designated and funded repository for everything we have learned so far about this virus, how it should be treated and what has worked in practice and what has not, rather than a formal memorial to those who lost their lives to the virus.

I think most people who are inclined to “study up”, (my designation for those who try to find more information as opposed to those who don’t like to read and get their information from headlines and what is said by other people), would recognize the need for an ongoing centralized repository for pandemic information.

The underlying suggestion, however is important. For example, I thought from what I read that the Corona Virus belonged in the flu family, and we were told to treat it like the flu, the models seemed to be based on the flu, but according to Dr. Birx, that is not so, it is based on the common cold virus. We still do not know the origin beyond the fact that it came from Wuhan, China. We don’t know if it came from the “wet food” market where they eat cats, dogs and bats and such, or if it came from the Communist Chinese laboratories there, or the University there. And the Communist Chinese government has not been forthcoming with information. Communists don’t like anything that reflects poorly on Communists. We have learned that we should not be purchasing any of our medications from other countries, but making our own. China has undercut our market prices for anything they want to sell to the world, and we Capitalists always go for saving money.

The Federal Government has turned over the management of virus response to the States, and we are beginning to learn what has worked and what has not. Some governors actions made things worse. After all the howling for more hospital space, some of the military hospital installations have never seen a single patient. After all the outcry about the need for ventilators, we have way more than was needed. We need to know what we need to have in storage awaiting another pandemic. And we need to have all the information we have gathered in one or two designated locations, probably something like the University of Washington’s virus model on which everyone is depending, or the University of Pittsburgh’s Medical School which seems to be authoritarian. But we need our best knowledge funded and saved and sorted and available on short notice.

A lot of countries will be rethinking their supply chains. Italy, for example, was heavily dependent on China for everything from food to fashion, and paid a heavy price. An Israeli doctor working in Italy said that they had just decided to deny hospitalization to anyone over 70, and Italy had the oldest population in Europe.

My congressman has sent weekly e-mails on how to react to the virus. I will be writing to suggest legislation establishing formal repositories for what we have learned from this pandemic and funding the gathering and availability of that knowledge. Please consider contacting your own congressman for the same purpose. At present Nancy Pelosi and her Democrats are intent on funding the winning of the next election, rather than anything helpful.



Washington State Governor has Ordered School Closures. by The Elephant's Child

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee has ordered school closure in King, Snohomish and Pierce Counties beginning next Tuesday, March 17 and to remain closed until April 24.

Many employers have encouraged workers to work from home, so perhaps this won’t be such a burden, but many employers have not, and for those folks it’s a problem of possibly leaving children home alone. So parents have several days to figure out how to manage. Good luck to you.

Confirmed cases have increased to 270 (from 234 yesterday) with one additional death reported.



Updating Statistics: We’re Doing Pretty Well. by The Elephant's Child

Imagine my astonishment to learn that I am writing from the center of the novel corona-virus in the United States. Washington state has so far had 11 deaths from the virus, and there are 79 confirmed cases. Health care workers who are caring for patients with COVID-19 are at elevated risk, as are travelers who are returning from international locations where community spread is occurring.  Total cases in the U. S. are 164. 19 states report cases. Of the cases reported, 36 are travel related.

Some schools have closed and are doing lessons online, with loaner computers for those who don’t have them. Some businesses are encouraging workers to work from home if they can. There are some runs on hand sanitizer, toilet paper and more people are having their groceries delivered so they don’t have to go to the store.

Consider that we have brought our people who were in Wuhan, China home, as well as other people who were in China, and travelers who were in bad international locations, and we’re doing pretty well. If you were abroad and COVID-19 happened, you’d probably want to come home too.

Ben Carson said that President Trump has handled the COVID-19 outbreak very, very well. Do recall that before he was Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Dr. Carson was a renowned neurosurgeon, and knows whereof he speaks. So a difficult  time and unfortunate deaths, but we’re doing remarkably well in the face of a worldwide contagion.

ADDENDUM: From a Wall Street Journal opinion piece by Holman Jenkins:

In a startling statement, the WHO’s Michael Ryan claimed in a Monday briefing: “Here we have a disease for which we have no vaccine, no treatment, we don’t fully understand transmission, we don’t fully understand case mortality, but what we have been genuinely heartened by is that unlike influenza, where countries have fought back, where they’ve put in place strong measures, we’ve remarkably seen that the virus is suppressed.”



A Perpetual Motion Machine called Innovation by The Elephant's Child

British columnist Matt Ridley is always worth reading, but yesterday’s column was special.  He wrote:

When you think about it, what has happened to human society in the last 300 years is pretty weird. After trundling along with horses and sailboats, slaves and swords, for millennia, we suddenly got steam engines and search engines, and planes and cars and electricity and computers and social media and DNA sequences. We gave ourselves a perpetual motion machine called innovation. The more we innovated, the more innovation became possible.

It’s by far the biggest story of the last three centuries—the main cause of the decline of extreme poverty to unprecedented levels—yet we know curiously little about why it happened, let alone when and where and how it can be made to continue. It certainly did not start as a result of deliberate policy. Even today, beyond throwing money at scientists in the hope they might start businesses, and subsidies at businesses in the hope they might deliver products, we don’t have much of an idea how to encourage innovation at the political level.

What’s more, free-market economists have been in a special muddle about innovation for a long time. The economics profession spent a couple of centuries assuming that markets tend towards equilibria, through the invisible hand. Hence John Stuart Mill and John Maynard Keynes and pretty well everybody else in between assumed that we would see diminishing returns come to dominate human endeavour. But instead we experienced increasing returns, accelerating invention. As the author David Warsh put it in his book Knowledge and the Wealth of Nations (2006) some years ago, economists obsessed about Adam Smith’s invisible hand but forgot about his pin factory, where specialisation led to innovation.

One of my favorite histories is by John Steele Gordon, who deals with just that: the “Epic History of American Economic Power” in An Empire of Wealth. It’s a great read, and I recommend it enthusiastically. We are seeing all sorts of articles about the horrors of Socialism in the wake of Bernie Sanders, but this one deals with the other part: why Capitalism works and that a state that advances and encourages innovation is a result of a free people and an open society.

How some people can fail to understand those simple facts is apparently due to the failure of our schools and our colleges and universities. Many of our states do not require basic civics and history for graduation, a situation that drastically needs attention. Our colleges and universities are staffed to a significant extent with those who went for graduate degrees as a way to escape the draft for the Vietnamese War. You can hear that echo in banned or protested speakers on campus, and campus demonstrations.



Monday, March 2nd News, For What It’s Worth. by The Elephant's Child
image: artist unknown. via powerline

We have had a second death from Covid-19 Coronavirus, also from the same facility in Kirkland, Washington. Here is the Washington State Department of Health website but use it only if you need it, it’s apt to be busy. Here’s information for the public from Representative Adam Smith:

The public can take everyday actions to protect themselves and help prevent the spread of the virus:

Practice excellent personal hygiene habits, including hand washing, coughing into tissue or elbow, avoid touching eyes, nose, or mouth.

Stay home when sick.

Do not go to the emergency room unless essential. Emergency rooms need to be able to serve those with the most critical needs. If you have symptoms like cough, fever, or other respiratory problems, contact your regular doctor first. Stay informed from reliable sources. Information is changing frequently. Check Public Health Seattle & King County, Washington State Department of Health, and the CDC for updated information.

On the political front, Amy Klobuchar has quit the presidential race, and endorsed Joe Biden. I don’t think Elizabeth Warren has formally withdrawn, but I keep hoping. She was lined up with Bernie Sanders, but went after him strongly at the last debate. Pete Buttigieg has also endorsed Joe Biden.

Tomorrow is what is called Super Tuesday, when a whole bunch of states have their primaries on the same day. 14 states have signed up: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont and Virginia. California is, they say, representative of the primary electorate of the Democrat party, Texas is similar, as the second most populous state, with a large Latinx ) a new and somewhat offensive designation) population.
Chris Matthews has apparently left CNN*.  And welcome to the month of March.

Greta Thunberg had an occasion in Bristol in the United Kingdom last week, urging British schoolchildren to skip school on Friday to protest global warming. About 15,000 people are believed to have attended Bristol Youth Strike 4 Climate rally. It was raining briskly, and the heavy rain turned the grass into mud, making a colossal mess of the rally. The BBC reported that “Ms. Thunberg has been presented as a sort of expert on the environment by alleged adults in the international Press” which covers it nicely.

* Chris Matthews has retired.

ADDENDUM: The Coronavirus death toll here in Washington State has reached 6, all connected to the Senior Care facility in Kirkland. There has been one death in New York.



Why Do the Democrats Hate Trump So Much? by The Elephant's Child

Bernie seems to be the leading Democrat candidate at present, and the Democrats are horrified. The object of the entire Democrat campaign is to get rid of Donald Trump, and they don’t think Bernie has much of a chance to defeat him. The Democrats really, really hate Donald Trump. But the commentary out there is interesting.

The Manhattan Contrarian said flatly:”If You Can’t Articulate A Limiting Principle On Government Expansion, You Get Bernie Sanders.” That was his headline, and he added:

Well, if you’re the party of free stuff, why shouldn’t the guy who offers the most free stuff win? Bernie is clearly willing to outbid all of his rivals in the free stuff auction. What makes you think anybody can beat him by just bidding less?

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez announced her endorsement for the 2020 presidential election. She called for “publicly owned and run health care and education so that we have more freedom over our lives than the private sector provides.”

Brian Riedl, writing in City Journal on October 15, 2019 commiserated with Bernie’s heart attack, and said as long as he remains in the race, it’s worth taking his policy ideas seriously, since he has unveiled expensive new spending proposals on a near-weekly basis. All told, Sanders’s current plans would cost as much as $97.5 trillion over the next decade, and total government spending at all levels would surge to as high as 70 percent of gross domestic product. Approximately half of the American workforce would be employed by the government. The ten-year budget deficit would approach $90 trillion, with average annual deficits exceeding 30 percent of GDP.

And Victor Davis Hanson said yesterday, “Universities Breed Anger, Ignorance, and Ingratitude” “In turning out woke and broke graduates, they have a lot to answer for.”

When you get history and economics all mixed up with “social justice”, you are creating a major problem. I reject the idea that there is any such thing as “social justice” and if you go off chasing it, you are never going to arrive at a destination. It’s nice to dream of a world where nobody is poor, everybody has what they want and need, but that’s not how it works. Life is hard, bad stuff happens, there are accidents, illness, deaths, wars, family troubles, and you have to learn to cope. You don’t succeed by waiting for somebody else to fix things for you. The joy and the pride of arriving at a goal make the coping all worthwhile. We currently have an economy where most anyone that wants a job can find one. The rising is up to you.




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