American Elephants


What do College Students Know? by The Elephant's Child

I’m passionate about history. I think it’s imperative for our young people to get a thorough grounding in our history. If we are granting them the privilege of voting, they should know something about our nation and the world. That said, I think most of my own knowledge of history came after I’d graduated from college.

Of course we read reports of kids who can’t find Florida on a map, or who simply have never been taught anything about history. So I shouldn’t be too ready to cast aspersions on ignorant college kids now. If they don’t know anything, it’s not their fault. They have never been taught.

But this video made me cry. If young people know nothing else, they should know what World War II was about, and why it matters. This woman is the daughter of a Holocaust survivor. and she is deeply concerned that students are ill-equipped to understand that there is genocide going on  right now. I’m not even Jewish, though I don’t know what that has to do with anything. Five states require specific education about the Holocaust. There should be more. Unfortunately kids are more apt to be taught about “social justice.” A favorite phrase of the Left — meaningless.

There aren’t all that many survivors left, nor many of those who witnessed it. How can you understand the story of the “Force of the Sun Ladies” in the last post if you do not understand the depths to which humans can descend when radicalized by politics, or religion, or simple greed.

We have a presidential election campaign going on, and so far, voters seem determined to nominate those least equipped to deal with the current problems of the world. It’s a very scary world out there, and the current president has, through his own ignorance of history, weakened America, weakened our military, destroyed relations with our most dependable allies, and increased the chances that we will be attacked here at home with great loss of life.

Edmund Burke said “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it” back in the 1700s, and it has been repeated over and over. Think of it as a plea to learn from history. Teach your kids at home. If you don’t know your own history — study up.



The Attention Is All on Iowa. It Begins. by The Elephant's Child

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Soon the returns from the Iowa Caucuses will be coming in. As someone online remarked today —”the results of the Iowa Caucuses don’t determine the result of the election —  just ask President Santorum.”

It’s a strange year. I forget that there are reporters from all over the world following the candidates and the campaign, not just our own journalists. I was really excited about the campaign at the beginning with such an outstanding bench of Republicans — Scott Walker, Rick Perry, and Bobby Jindal who had all been such successful governors. Uh huh. Apparently the media didn’t like successful governors.

I’m increasingly convinced that the media plays far too large a role in our primary campaigns as do probably meaningless polls when most Americans are just beginning to find out who the candidates are. I’m a political junkie, always have been, but I recognize that most people don’t pay much attention until it’s time for an election. I understand that. You come home tired from work, and want nothing so much as to just relax with something good on TV.

In the Saturday Essay at The Wall Street Journal, John O’Sullivan pointed out “two long-term shocks to the American political system, both gradually coming to a boil in recent decades, and in one short-term shock, which has turned up the gas on them to produce today’s bubbling over.”

The first was the end of the Cold War. But didn’t that happen in 1989? Yes, it did, and it began to loosen the discipline that had kept political parties world-wide either anti-Soviet or “peace-minded,” as their primary orientation. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, they have been released to follow their other instincts.

Mr. O’Sullivan suggests that “behind the two-party curtain, America’s social classes have been changing places in politics. Highly educated and very rich people used to lean Republican, they now increasingly vote for Democrats. Working class Americans no longer feel well represented by the Democrats…and have shifted sharply to the GOP.”

I certainly had not thought in those terms, but it seems possible. We have a big chunk of mega rich here — Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks, and Costco, and they are certainly reliable Democrats. I would suggest that the mega rich have done quite well under the Obama regime, but the working class clearly have suffered.  Everybody I know complains about having lost some of their favorite small businesses, and everyone knows someone who has been laid off.

You have probably seen the results: High turnout. Ted Cruz won significantly with 28 percent. Trump, second at 24 percent with Marco Rubio, a very close 23 percent. Martin O’Malley on the Democrat side and Mike Huckabee have suspended their campaigns. Hillary and Bernie Sanders are essentially tied, in a dead heat. A setback for Hillary, who is not qualified to run.  Technically there are 30 Republican delegates and 44 Democratic delegates. (I don’t know!) Ben Carson placed 4th and Rand Paul 5th.

Also pertinent is an article from the Washington Examiner: Confronting the hard truths of America’s civic illiteracy

Recently, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) released a major report: “The Crisis in Civic Education.” ACTA’s curricular survey of over 1,100 colleges and universities shows that only 18 percent of them require students to take a course in U.S. history or government. In secondary education, the results are equally dismal. In 2014, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) revealed through their civics test that one in four high-school seniors did not have “proficient” civic knowledge. Moreover, over one-third of 12th-grade students did not have “basic” knowledge of American civics. The NAEP governing board has since shot the messenger that brings such bad news by eliminating the high school civics test.

To spell it out, fewer “than 20 percent of American college graduates knew what the effects of the Emancipation Proclamation were; nearly half could not identify the correct term lengths of Congress; and almost 10 percent thought…”Judge Judy” served on the Supreme Court.” Apparently the Millennials are very enthusiastic about Bernie Sanders, but have no clue what socialism is. Perhaps it’s the offer of tuition -free college (not going to happen). Bernie is even more unfamiliar with economics than the Millennials. Do read the whole thing.



Affirmative Action Was Meant Well, But They Didn’t Think It Through. by The Elephant's Child


In searching for answers to the racial angst of black students on their campuses, some universities are turning to — segregation. The University of Connecticut is constructing a living space (dorm) meant specifically for African American males. SCHOLA2RS, an awkward acronym for “SCholastic House of Leaders who are African American Researchers and Scholars”.

Dr. Eric Hines, an assistant professor of educational psychology will serve as faculty advisor to the around 40 students involved with the house.

Dr. Hines claims that SCHOLA2RS House is “a space for African American men to one, come together and validate their experiences that they may have on campus.” Hines further elaborates that the new dorm would also serve as “a space where they can have conversation and also talk with individuals who come from the same background who share the same experience.”

It seems a little awkward for even a psychology professor to suggest that because students are black they “come from the same background and share the same experience.”

There is a program for Women in Math, Science and Engineering, and it is a good way for students with similar interests to be grouped with those who share the same interests.

Commenters asked where the living space was for Caucasian students? SCHOLA2RS is apparently the only dorm segregated by race and gender. It is meant well and while the graduation rate for all students in 2012 was 82.5 percent, for African American males that year it was 54 percent. The school is trying to help, but stuck with numbers of black students who must be admitted to have the right (quota — bad word) diversity. Is segregating on the basis of race and gender more meaningful than say segregating on the basis of interest: Jocks vs. hopeful computer science geeks, or biology students with PE majors?

Most of the racial incidents in other colleges that provoked major protests turned out to be hoaxes, made-up, or just plain false. It is true that at many schools, black students often self-segregate for lunch tables or other occasions. Some have been protests about a statue of a Founder who owned slaves, or a building named for a benefactor who was known to have owned slaves a couple of hundred years ago. That’s when you know the protest is a phony one.

Stirring up feelings of discrimination for political purposes seems like a particularly dirty trick on everybody. But the Left isn’t playing tricks, and it’s not a game. They are at war and the goal is to’ fundamentally transform’ the United States of America to something better where they are more completely in charge. The Republicans assume that Democrats just have different policy preferences, and they are being difficult.

ADDENDUM: The original story about the  University of Connecticut was misleading. The “segregation” of African American males by race and gender is not a separate dorm, but merely a section on one floor of a large dorm. The intent is to help students share their efforts to succeed and to feel more comfortable with others who share their problems. I think my post was misleading, and I apologize.

I believe human beings are tribal by nature. The Middle East is aflame because of the extreme tribal nature of the area. Europe is tribal as nations share a language, traditions and a history, and do not assimilate newcomers easily. Some of the ‘refugees’ coming to Europe find assimilation far more difficult than they expected — nothing is what they expected, they don’t like the accommodations, they don’t like the food, and some just want to go back home.

In America we create our own tribes. I am in touch with some of the kids I grew up with. I’m in touch with a large number of my college friends, I have a collection of former neighbors few of whom know each other. People join clubs, civic organizations, churches. Black students are observed to seek out other black students, and within the voluntary grouping of black students they will find their own tribes of jocks and science majors or kids from their own hometown. It is a worthwhile experiment and hopefully will succeed.



The Racial Protests Aren’t About What You Think They Are! by The Elephant's Child

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In a recent CBS News Special, correspondent Lee Cowan asked the president if, in spite of his promises to be the great uniter, the degree of anger and disagreement was a reflection on his tenure in the White House.  President Obama responded:

The one thing that gnaws on me is the degree of continued polarization. This has gotten worse over the last several years. And I think that in those early months, my expectation was that we could pull the parties together a little more effectively.

“Cowan then asked the president,’Do you wish in hindsight that maybe campaigning on that notion of changing the tone in Washington, do you wish you hadn’t campaigned as hard on that promise?'”

“That’s what the American people believe, and that’s what I still believe,” Obama said, jumping right back into his old ways.” (In other words, don’t blame me)

Ah yes, that is why Obama is governing by executive order so he doesn’t have to engage with Congress, and endure their disagreement. An election is coming up, and black voters might not come out since Obama is no longer on the ballot. It’s necessary for the community organizer-in-chief to stir things up a little. Starting with Ferguson, Missouri, we were told that George Soros was funding organizers to enliven the riots. Organizers from Ferguson went on to Baltimore to make sure there actually were riots.

The reason Mizzou students did not want the media taking pictures was because there were Ferguson and Occupy activists there giving them counsel. The issue is never the issue — the issue is always the revolution. Obama promised us that he intended to fundamentally change the United States of America — we just didn’t understand what he meant.

Breitbart News examined  Twitter accounts in Columbia, Missouri, and found individuals from #Black Lives Matter, who traveled from Ferguson to Baltimore, and Charleston. SC and published photos of them meeting with Student Body President Payton Head.

Paul Sperry explains how Obama is bankrolling a nonstop protest against “invented outrage,” and he’s doing it through Organizing for Action, (formerly Obama’s campaign organization Obama for America) He claims that OFA has trained more than 10,000 leftist organizers, who in turn are training more than 2 million youth in Alinsky street action. “The leftist group, which recently registered as a 501c4 nonprofit eligible for unlimited contributions, holds regular ‘organizing summits’ on college campuses.” And there’s ACORN as well.

Through social media, they mobilize flash mobs against “biased cops,” “climate-change deniers,” “Wall Street predators” and “gun extremists.” They hold rallies against conservative foes of gay marriage, LGBT rights, abortion and amnesty for illegal immigrants.

The president has egged on the #Black Lives Matter protesters and invited the founder to the White House, he assured the Occupy Wall Street protesters that he was on their side. But there is much less racism today, and there are fewer and fewer real targets. “Even professors, deans and chancellors who worship at the altar of diversity and multiculturalism are enduring their wrath, poetically suffering intolerances in the name of tolerance.”

But actions have consequences. The violent protests against the police have meant that police are more reluctant to go into poor black neighborhoods. Police across the country are having trouble finding recruits. Obama is releasing thousands of “non-violent” drug dealers from prison, numbers of them  who were armed when arrested — but they are “non-violent.”

At the Hoover Institution, James Huffman explores “The Real Cause of Campus Racism.” Colleges and Universities have made race and racial differences central to almost everything they do. And to make matters worse, those who accredit our universities make attention to race in admissions and programming a condition of accreditation. (This is an important and challenging essay, do read the whole thing.)

The University of Missouri, where the campus follies started, believed it could win the hearts and minds of black students by throwing its president to the racial protesters. But actions do indeed have consequences. Freshman applications are down 5% from the previous year and graduate student applications have plunged 19%. Pandering would seem to be a failure.

Even Victor Davis Hanson has noticed that polls confirm that Obama is the most polarizing president in recent memory — in a column titled “Still Polarizing After All These Years.” Dr. Hanson summarized the president’s divisiveness over his long seven years in office.  It is an ugly picture.

Obama has lost his party the Congress and most of the state legislatures. He has destroyed the centrist wing of the Democratic Party, and made his media apologists into caricatures of ministry of information megaphones. Obama ushered in an unprecedented any-means-necessary government amorality. Lois Lerner, a politicized IRS and a defunct ICE are its dividends. The secretary of Defense—four so far—is now a cabinet post designed to spawn after-office tell-all indictments of Obama. Scandals are normal now at the VA, IRS, NSA, ATF, EPA, and GSA, and from the AP surveillance and Solyndra to the Benghazi video-did-it talking points. The administration has reduced once-cherished departments such as the Secret Service, State Department, Justice Department and NASA into caricatures of incompetency.



An Admirable Experiment in Free Market Capitalism by The Elephant's Child

In this February 26, 2007 file photograph, Charles Koch, head of Koch Industries, talks passionately about his new book on Market Based Management. (Bo Rader/Wichita Eagle/MCT via Getty Images)

The reliably far left Puffington Post had a long article on the evil doings of the notorious Koch Brothers.  It seems that Charles Koch is attempting to give some poor kids a path out of poverty and into prosperity.The Koch brothers are the source constant attacks from the left because they have the temerity to support free market capitalism, and though they are Libertarians, they occasionally donate to Republican causes. They are also generous and prominent philanthropists, donating wings to hospitals, hundreds of millions to cancer research, for example. They help fund some some organizations and foundations, some purely educational, some partisan, none Progressive — and that’s the problem.

In this particular case, they were encouraging the predominately poor students at Highland Park High School in Topeka, Kansas to enroll in a new, yearlong course “that would provide lessons in basic economic principles and practical instruction on starting a business. Students would receive generous financial incentives including startup capital and scholarships after graduation.” How scary is that?

In some ways, the class looked like a typical high school business course, taught in a Highland Park classroom by a Highland Park teacher. But it was actually run by Youth Entrepreneurs, a nonprofit group created and funded primarily by Charles G. Koch, the billionaire chairman of Koch Industries.

The official mission of Youth Entrepreneurs is to provide kids with “business and entrepreneurial education and experiences that help them prosper and become contributing members of society.” The underlying goal of the program, however, is to impart Koch’s radical free-market ideology to teenagers. In the last school year, the class reached more than 1,000 students across Kansas and Missouri.

Intrepid reporters acquired lesson plans and class materials. They are teaching the kids such subversive things as low taxes and less regulation allow people to prosper, raising the minimum wage hurts workers and slows economic growth. Public assistance harms the poor. Government, in short, is the enemy of liberty. Good Lord! Did you ever hear anything so subversive? Even the headline says “How the Koch Brothers are Buying Their Way Into The Mind of Public School Students.” The Left really hates the Koch Brothers.

Apparently Charles Koch had a hands-on role in the design of the high school curriculum directly reviewing the work of those responsible for setting up the course. (Since he was paying for it, hardly surprising) The goal, the group admitted, was to turn young people into “liberty-advancing agents” before they went to college, where they might learn “harmful” liberal ideas.

The reporters astonishment at the deeply partisan ideas of liberty and free markets is interesting. Clearly they have not had much familiarity with such ideas. Here’s a good example complete with plentiful scare quotes.

They aimed to “inoculate” students against liberal ideas by assigning them to read passages from socialist and Marxist writers, whom they called “bad guys.” These readings would then be compared to works by the “good guys” — free-market economists like Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises.

The Koch Foundation is doing some good work. It’s hard to rise if you cannot see a path ahead. The free market is what has made America not only free, but prosperous. The astonishment and negative attitude of the reporters tells a sad story of the many schools run by the social justice warriors. Corporations are evil, and all good things must be done by the power of government.
Here’s a list from the article of the wrongheaded ideas of these subversive billionaires.

In late 2009, the Koch group made a list of “common economic fallacies” that they believed should be repudiated. These included:

  • Corporatism v. Free-market Capitalism
  • Deregulation is what caused recession in 80s, Economic problems of today
  • Rich get richer at the expense of the poor
  • FDR/New Deal brought us out of the depression
  • Government wealth transfer programs help the poor
  • Private industry incapable of doing functions that public sector has always done
  • Unions protect the employees
  • People with the same job title should be paid the same amount
  • Minimum wage, “living wage,” laws are good for people/society
  • Capitalist societies provide an environment for greed and materialism to flourish
  • Socialist countries do just fine, people have great lives there (using this as proof that socialism works).

Shocking! Giving kids a boost up with lessons in free market capitalism. Do read the whole thing. It is a vision of the leftist mind at work.

NOTE: This post has been revised since first posted. Somehow when I posted it, it lost the first two paragraphs — I was still sleepy I guess.



RIP: Australian Marine Geologist Dr. Robert Carter by The Elephant's Child

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Dr. Bob Carter died of a massive heart attack at age 74. He was an environmental scientist and emeritus professor from James Cook University. He was the author of more than 100 scientific papers, and served as the Chair of the Earth Sciences Discipline Panel of the Australian Research Council.

When the Greens were panicking over the oceans turning acid, he laughed and remarked that as long as there are rocks in the ocean, that won’t happen.

From Anthony Watts:

I traveled with Bob in Australia during my tour in 2010. To say that he was a man of good cheer and resilience would be an understatement. He not only bore the slings and arrows thrown his way by some of the ugliest people in the climate debate, he reciprocated with professionalism and honor, refusing to let them drag him into the quagmire of climate ugliness we have seen from so many climate activists.
His duty, first and foremost was to truth. I’m reminded of this quote:
“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.” ― Isaac Asimov
Bob worked hard to dispel scientific ignorance, and to do it with respect and good cheer. We’ve all lost a great friend and a champion of truth.


Is America Still Racist? by The Elephant's Child

A question that seems appropriate for Martin Luther King Day. Here’s Larry Elder, appearing for Praeger University. President Obama, was elected as the first Black President of the United States, with expectations that he would do much to improve the situation of blacks in the country. Instead his economy has been more devastating to the black community than anyone else.

Worrying about the black vote has meant more welfare and fewer jobs. The Keystone XL pipeline promised 13,000 high paying construction jobs, but that was trumped by Tom Steyer’s promised $100 million to the Democrats for rejecting it. Obama’s excuse was that construction jobs are only ‘temporary.’ Of course they are, but successful work on one construction job means a leg up on the next construction job. The unemployment rate for blacks has been nearly twice the rate for whites.

The Left does not understand the effect of incentives. A study from the University of Chicago concludes that “in response to the recession, several U.S. safety-net programs changed in ways that discouraged employment. Unemployment insurance, for example, was made more generous in multiple ways. Eligibility rules for food stamps were reduced, waivers from work requirements were granted, and the monthly benefit amount was increased.”

People are not apt to look hard for work, or even accept a job offer that is not quite as good as hoped, when remaining unemployed is made more comfortable. Sounds ‘mean,’ perhaps, but what people need and what the country needs is not the comfortable unemployed, but the happy and independent  worker.

The most surprising of Obama’s initiatives was his failure to support the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program. He has worked hard to get rid of it, yet it has benefited so many black children. Inexplicable. But the teacher’s unions don’t like the scholarship program.

The Left has long believed in, essentially, buying votes. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are busily engaged in trying to compete in benefits they will give to those who vote for them. Free college tuition (where does the money come from?), and a false assumption that every child must go to college. Higher taxes on the rich (exceedingly modest benefit) and “the rich” are often those who create jobs. Raising the minimum wage has been clearly shown to be a job destroyer. Universal pre-school may be welcome baby-sitting, but any educational benefits have disappeared by 3rd grade.

What we need is a healthier economy that is creating jobs for everyone. The Obama administration has hampered growth with raised taxes on productivity, and a huge burden of regulation.




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