American Elephants


What the Heck is “Hate Speech” Anyway? by The Elephant's Child

I do worry rather a lot about language, perhaps because I was an English major. More correctly, because the Left attempts to control the dialogue by changing the meaning of words. Immigration or immigrant is one example, by conflating the term with illegal immigrant, illegal alien, (both perfectly acceptable and accurate terms) refugees (and how that word is defined). But I have posed this question before.

The more problematic case of language is much more difficult.  The words are “hate speech.” Exactly what is hate speech? From the current dialogue, it is apparently any speech that you don’t agree with. Clearly that is an impossible definition, yet that is the basic problem in college campuses all across the country.

Students have been taught that they do not have to listen to speech that offends their delicate sensibilities by not agreeing with their preconceived ideas. Enough professors have spoken out in the media to indicate their despair that the students they are expected to teach—simply don’t know anything. They are unfamiliar with the most basic history, geography, civics and science. Not the hard stuff. They don’t know who won the Civil War. They don’t know who we fought in the Revolution. I could go on at length, but just those two missing facts summarize the situation fairly well.

Headlines from the battle: “Student activists demand college ‘take action’ against conservative journalists.” American Thinker.  “Students claim Objective ‘Truth’ is a ‘White Supremacist Myth,”Breitbart. “Why Colleges Have a Right to Reject Hateful Speakers Like Ann Coulter” New Republic.  “It’s Time to Crush Campus Censorship” National Review, “Those ‘Snowflakes’ Have Chilling Effects Even Beyond the Campus” WSJ, “On Political Correctness” The American Scholar  “Report: Women’s and gender studies courses have increased 300% since 1990” The College Fix  “College makes it easier to graduate by requiring students to learn less: The College Fix.  Those are just a few of dozens.

Middlebury has become famous for rioting to refuse to listen to Dr. Charles Murray, a noted social scientist.  Claremont students refused to hear Heather MacDonald. It was very clear that the students had no idea whatsoever what the speakers represented, or what they might say. In the case of Dr. Murray, the Southern Poverty Law Center (a far-left fringe group made false claims about Dr. Murray). In the case of Heather MacDonald, it was “Black Lives Matter” giving a completely false impression of what she might say. Sad. The kids in both cases would have profited from and learned something valuable from the speeches.

The students are wrapped up in the idea that they should not have to listen to anyone with whom they might disagree, and completely ignorant of the facts. The fault lies with faculty and administration who should have packed up the offenders the following morning and sent them home to perhaps be admitted the following semester — if they had learned anything. That’s what happened to friends of mine for significantly lesser offenses, but that was a long time ago.

You see how the words “hate speech” have corrupted the situation. There is no such thing as hate speech. There are inflammatory words, there is incitement to riot,  there’s shouting ‘fire’ in a crowded theater, but I submit there is no such thing as hate speech. We are watching daily, people thrown in prison, sentenced to hard labor for 15 or 20 years, as the fat junior Kim just did to two Americans, as happens throughout the Middle East — and some people can’t get it through their heads that the Freedom of Speech guaranteed to us by the Constitution matters. There aren’t all that many places in the world where you can’t be jailed for speaking your mind. In a moment in time when the language out there (do you read the comments?) has been vile, insulting, vulgar, and just plain offensive. Well, we do live in interesting times.

ADDENDUM: Over at the Federalist, John Daniel Davidson also wrote about Hate Speech, and wrote even more thoroughly about what it is and isn’t, and it’s very well done. The photo at the top of his post is not of college students, but of older folks with pre-printed signs from the “antiwar committee” urging viewers to “Stop the War on Muslims at Home and Abroad,” “Unite Against Islamophobia,” “End Racism,” and “Stop Racism, Islamophobia and War!” It should be observed that there is no war on Muslims, no such thing as Islamophobia, our problems with radical Islam have to do with their war on the West, their habit of chopping off heads, throwing people off of tall buildings, or burning them alive if we don’t submit to their radical religion. We have not yet declared war, since Obama abruptly pulled the troops out of a hard-won peaceful Iraq, but he has left a nuclear North Korea and a nuclear Iran for his successor to deal with. Again the Federalist photo is a good example of using language inaccurately to make their point, which thanks to our Constitution, they are completely free to do. But we are also completely free to make fun of them.



Quotation of the Day by The Elephant's Child

As soon as journalists, while pretending to provide information, consider that they have the right to present current happenings in such a way as to orient  public opinion in a manner they regard as salutary, democracy is amputated of one of its major supports. It is affected just as perniciously as it is by a corrupt judiciary or electoral fraud. Totalitarianism can only live thanks to falsehood, and democracy survive thanks to truth.

—Jean-Francois Revel: The Flight From Truth                    



Not “Earth Day” Anymore, Now It’s “The March for Science” by The Elephant's Child

This will be an interesting weekend. Today is Earth Day, so naturally there is a march somewhere.  Ah hah!: It is the March for (Political) Science in our nation’s capitol, described by the Washington Times:

Take the Women’s March on Washington, slash its attendance, throw in Bill Nye “the science guy,” and you have the formula for Saturday’s March for Science, the latest in this year’s series of anti-Trump protests.

Framed as a defense of scientific inquiry, the Earth Day march offered a lesson in political science as speakers urged thousands of rain-soaked attendees to fight President Trump’s “anti-science” agenda by advocating more federal funding for research.

“This is about last November’s election,” said Denis Hayes, coordinator of the first Earth Day in 1970. “Did America somehow vote to melt the polar ice caps and kill the coral reefs and acidify the oceans? Did we vote to reduce the EPA’s research budget by a whopping 42 percent? Did we vote to defund safe drinking water by one third?”

I don’t know who Denis Hayes is, but the polar ice caps have a habit of melting every summer and freezing up every winter, as it has done for centuries. Renowned Australian geologist Ian Plimer wrote in  Heaven and Earth:

Climate has always changed. It always has and it always will. Sea level has always changed. Ice sheets come and go. Life always changes. Extinctions of life are normal. Planet Earth is dynamic and evolving. Climate changes are cyclical and random. I would be really concerned if there were no changes to Earth over time. In the light of large rapid climate changes,  just how much do humans really change climate?

The Earth’s climate is driven by the receipt and  redistribution of solar energy. Without this, there would be no life on Earth. Despite well documented linkages between  climate and solar activity, the Sun tends to be brushed aside as the driver of climate  on Earth  in place of a trace gas (carbon dioxide – CO2), most of which derives from natural processes. The CO2 in the atmosphere is only 0.001% of the total CO2 held in the oceans, surface rocks, air, soils and life.

Although we are in one of the many warm periods between glacial stages in the current ice age, there is a significant amount of ice remaining in the polar regions. Polar ice has been present for less than 20% of geological time, life on Earth for more than 80% of time and liquid water on Earth for 90% of time. Planet Earth is a warm wet volcanic greenhouse planet, which is naturally recovering from glacial times and is naturally warming. Cooling has also occurred in the current interglacial times. Earth has warmed and cooled on all time scales, whether they be geological, archeological, historical or within our own lifetime. The key questions are: How much of this warming can be attributed to human activity?

If we humans are warming the planet now, how do we explain the alternating cool and warm periods during the current post-glacial warming?

Anthony Watts has a marvelous collection of pictures from the march. On the one pictured at the top here, he remarked: “Seems that the Union of Concerned Scientists has a lot of hate. This is from their Twitter feed, but note they are too timid to put their organization name on any of the posters.  Losers.”

You will notice that the pre-printed sign at the bottom of the picture says “Scientists for Racial Equity;, Climate Justice, Gender Equality, Economic Justice, Indigenous Rights and Environmental Justice” which does give some clues to the thought process of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“Earth Day” has been losing it’s luster. Fewer and fewer people believe in the need for panic, so they tried changing Earth Day into a “March for Science.” Bill Nye ‘the science guy’ turned up in DC, along with the constantly publicity-seeking Michael Mann, and the current Dr. Who turned up in London.

There’s a major reason why the scientists who are insulted as being “anti-science” or “deniers” or “skeptics” write and speak more frequently when they retire and are free to speak out. Until there was suddenly panic about global warming, the rise of the oceans, arctic melting, departments like astrophysics, ocean geology, and climate science were quiet backwaters in the science buildings of universities. With panic, funding arrived. Departments expanded, super computers and expensive equipment were purchased, and grants became very available. Unfortunately many of those deeply interested in climate change thought they could model the climate of the Earth on more powerful computers, which is where most of the junk science comes from. The climate is too complex, there is too much we just don’t understand— like the action of clouds. The “March for Science”  is all about funding, and not about science at all. And in the current climate it’s mostly about the Left hating Trump.

“Global Warming” has always been a far left effort to destroy capitalism, as Christiana Figureres, the Executive Secretary of the United Nation’s Framework Convention on Climate Change confirmed that in Brussels in 2015. Steven Koonin, a theoretical physicist who served as undersecretary of energy for science during President Obama’s first term, wrote in the Wall Street Journal Thursday that “the general public is largely unaware of the intense debates within climate science. He advocates a “Red Team-Blue Team” process for climate science as the best practice for high-consequence situations.

A happy Earth Day to you all, and if you are a “skeptic” as I am, turn on lots of lights this evening to illuminate the night.  “I Speak For The Trees ” indeed! Can you possibly not realize how silly that statement is?



Immigration. Legal and Illegal, and the Difference. by The Elephant's Child

As promised, ICE has expanded their campaign to deport illegal immigrants with criminal records. They have announced the seizure of 368 illegals in seven states and Washington D.C. That’s a 250 percent increase over the 106 deportations announced a week ago.

ICE especially targeted members of the violent MS-13 gang and those illegals who had been charged with sex crimes against kids. In just one five day roundup in and around Washington D.C. and Northern Virginia, 82 illegals from 26 countries were arrested. Of those 82 individuals, 68 of those had previous criminal records for crimes like robbery, larceny and drug distribution. Two of the remaining 14 had ties to MS-13, two had final orders for removal, and two had pending local charges. The remainder had unlawfully entered the United States in violation of immigration laws.

158 were arrested in Texas. ICE is targeting convicted criminal aliens. The simple notion that President Trump means business has significantly curbed the flow of illegal immigration across the border.

Activists frequently contend that the United States is a “nation of immigrants”, which, if you go back to the 1630s is accurate, but has nothing to do with anything. Immigrants currently represent about 13.5 percent of the American population, the highest percentage in over 100 years. But then they consistently say that we have 11 million illegal aliens in the country, but they have been using the same number for years, and there is a strong suspicion that nobody knows. Everyone likes to think of America as welcoming and open, but this is not the case. Countries have borders and laws that determine how one becomes a legal immigrant.

Immigrants are apt to band together with others of the same background, and often engage in the same occupations. There is often a language barrier. Americans are frequently suspicious of those who do not speak their language. This has been going on since the beginnings of the country, and is well documented in books like David Hackett Fischer’s Albion’s Seed and Bernard Bailyn’s The Peopling of British North America. New waves of immigrants were not always welcomed, the Scots-Irish went to the Carolinas, the Germans to Germantown in Pennsylvania, the Quakers to Pennsylvania and of course the Dutch to New York.

We don’t know much about how many can be comfortably absorbed by the nation’s schools and infrastructure. Here is a map from the Center for Immigration Studies showing the percentages of  public school students from immigrant  households. In 1980, about 7 percent of public school students came from immigrant homes, in 1990, it was 11 percent and in 2015 about 23 percent of public school students came from immigrant homes or almost one in four, in 700 immigrant-heavy districts.

In 2015, between one-fourth and one-third of public school students from immigrant households were the children of illegal immigrants. The remainder were the children of legal immigrants. This is simply a reminder that there are real costs for illegal immigrants.

The Obama administration encouraged both legal and illegal immigration. They believed that immigrants would be more likely to support the Democratic Party, and made an effort to settle immigrants and refugees in districts where they would help to switch the vote to Democrats. You might notice that Obama ended the acceptance of refugees from Cuba, who were unlikely to support the Democrats after Communist Cuba.

For those who claim that we cannot afford a wall on our southern border, or those who think a wall would be mean, there is a cost for illegal immigrants—schools, welfare, the courts. During a lifetime of an illegal immigrant they create an average fiscal burden of $74,722. If a border wall stopped between 9 to 12 percent of those expected to successfully cross the border, the fiscal savings would equal the $12 to $15 billion cost of the wall.

Those on the Left usually consider the case of immigrants or refugees as a matter of feelings. If you do not sympathize deeply with those who want to come to the United States legally or illegally, then you are a bad person. Not all refugees want to leave their own countries, they just want temporary safety. Those on the Left believe in open borders, the more the merrier. I believe that countries get to choose how many immigrants and who they are.

Sweden has just had a belated wake-up call, learning that some of the migrants they welcomed to their country steal trucks and drive them into crowds to kill as many Swedes as possible. And a CNN reporter just had a wake-up interview with a Syrian refugee.

Not what the CNN host expected. Her expression is priceless.



Victor Davis Hanson’s Take on the Decline and Fall of the Left by The Elephant's Child



Clear Language Matters. Make Fine Distinctions, Insist on Free Speech and Clear Speech. by The Elephant's Child

The situation in Syria was not only an affront to international law, but a probe of sorts to test the new president of the United States. President Trump’s response was prompt and direct, but careful. It was not, as the Democrats try to claim, the start of a war, or a sign of the belligerence of an out-of-control administration. It was a very specific and limited missile strike against the specific airbase that had launched the Sarin Gas attack on Syrian rebels by their own administration. Because it was directed  so specifically, it announced that poison gas attacks were simply not acceptable, and this strike was a clear warning that we are a powerful nation and we are capable of much more. There will be no more statements of “red lines” that are not observed.

America means business. It was not, as has been claimed, an attack on Assad. The Russians and Syrians were warned, so there would be little or no loss of life. These distinctions are important. The free world approved.

Democrats are not good at distinctions. They are more comfortable with generalities. Hillary was interviewed by the New York Times Nicholas Kristof at the “Women in the World” summit. Kristof asked Hillary:

I have to ask fundamentally, a man who bragged about sexual assault won the election and won 53 percent of the white women’s vote. What does that say about the challenges that one faces in women’s empowerment, that in effect misogyny won with a lot of women voters?

In the first place, Trump did not brag about sexual assault. He spoke of women and celebrity and said that when you are a celebrity, some women will let you do anything you want to them.  He did not say that he had done anything.

Hillary immediately blamed everything on identity politics: misogynyshe lost because she is a woman. The country is just not ready for  the first woman president. Fine distinctions: Hillary ran for the presidency because she wanted to be the first woman president, not because there were things she wanted to do to improve the country or help Americans. That’s why her brief career in the Senate was marked only by a bill to name a post office, and her career as Secretary of State resulted only in Benghazi and a record amount of air travel miles. There were no accomplishments. The change was her gender. She promised to continue all the accomplishments of the Obama administration but to do it as a woman.

Nikki Haley, a woman, has made a real difference in her brief time as Ambassador to the United Nations. People are already suggesting that she can be the first woman president. She has demonstrated over and over competence, authority, determination, and things have shifted because of it.

In this strange new universe, a real-estate developer and reality-TV celebrity with no political experience whatsoever, obviously won the election because he is a man. Identity politics is the controlling theme. You can be decide your identity and your gender by your feelings of the moment, which, making fine distinctions — is clearly nuts.

The Left, in their drive for ever more control, believe that when they achieve full control,  they will fix human nature, so we are all more complacent and cooperative. Unfortunately human nature is immutable, unchanging and quite definitely unfixable.

Insist on fine distinctions. Don’t let them get away with sloppy thinking. Insist on free speech. Hold college and university authorities to task for allowing bad behavior to destroy the educational process. Speak out.

Surely you have noticed that what the Left advocates are abstractions. Social justice —there is no such thing. We have laws and courts, and they don’t do social justice. Equality —you can have equality under the law, but you can’t make people equal, some are smarter, some are more beautiful, some are stronger, some are older. Diversity—to the Left refers only to skin color, certainly not to diversity of ideas. Our values —one of Obama’s favorites, “that’s not who we are as Americans.”



Desperate Democrats Embarrass Themselves In Another Confirmation Hearing by The Elephant's Child

With the exposure of the Susan Rice story, and the dreadful sarin gas attack in Syria by the Assad administration on his own people other things escape our attention. The confirmation hearings for Dr. Scott Gottlieb who the president has nominated to run the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) didn’t get a lot of notice.

Our very own Seattle Senator Patty Murray and other Democrats devoted the morning to attacking Dr. Gottlieb for his “unprecedented financial entanglements” because he has consulted for various companies and invested in health-care start-ups. (Possibly because that is his area of expertise?) Sheldon Whitehouse suggested “dark money operations,” which is a strange description of financial disclosures available to all on the internet. Bernie Sanders tweeted that it was a “disgrace” to have an FDA commissioner who has taken money from drug companies.

These are the same committee Democrats who attacked Betsy DeVos for not having enough experience in public education, nor experience in government.  Consistency and hypocrisy are ongoing problems for the Democrats.

Dr. Gottlieb not only disclosed all his work in accordance with government rules and will liquidate his investments, he agreed to recuse himself for a year on decisions involving his past interests. He also promised to follow directions from the HHS ethics office and to be an “impartial and independent advocate for the public health.”

Another remarkable ugly charge was that Dr. Gottlieb would not address the opioid crisis because he has worked with companies that produce painkillers. Desperate Democrats, out of power, are having trouble finding believable or even sane talking points.

Dr. Gottlieb has called the opioid crisis “a public emergency on the order of Ebola and Zika” and suggested an “all-of-the-above” strategy that would include creating new painkillers that were less addictive and better patient care. He hopes to increase generic drug competition. He offered a tutorial in how companies exploit the regulatory barriers to competition for their commercial advantage,

He has written about how the FDA can unleash innovation without compromising public safety. Democrats, always confused about the evils of “profit” have forgotten about the immense value of expertise. This is another of President Trump’s outstanding nominees, so of course he should be attacked. It will be good to have someone who understands the needs of patients and their doctors and the pharmaceutical industry in that office.




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