American Elephants


Victor Davis Hanson Explains the Hypocrisy of the University and the Left by The Elephant's Child

Just a short 12 minutes, but Dr. Hanson thoroughly eviscerates the university in particular, and the Left as well. Great fun.

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Science and Health and Science Scaredy-Cats by The Elephant's Child

Oh dear, O dear! I believe this was the evening when we were, all across the world, at precisely Eight o’clock — supposed to turn off all our lights and sit in the dark for an hour to save the earth, or show our empathy for those who are deeply concerned about the climate and the earth and the future. I usually see enough reminders to remember to turn on all my lights to demonstrate my skepticism.

I grew up in Idaho, in what you might call the foothills of the Rockies,  mostly outside, winter or summer. Winter was for sledding, and we had a splendid sledding hill, or building snow forts, but let me not drift off into reminiscing. Some winters we had little snow, not much more than 3 feet on the level. Other years, 5 or 6 feet. Some years we could skate on the river, others not. Been snowed in. When it gets down to 20° below, all the hairs in your nose freeze. The climate has warmed over the last century, somewhere around one degree. The Paris Climate Agreement would not have prevented any measurable amount of warming.

The Paul Erlich’s of the world have always believed in overpopulation and consequent hunger and starvation. Yet what has happened is that the very small amount of increased CO2 in the atmosphere has meant the greening of the planet, less famine and more food.

Most packaged goods in the grocery store will carry the admonition somewhere on the label that there are no GMO ingredients  (genetically modified organisms) in their offering, yet I just saw the notice today that another country (in this case Canada) has approved “golden rice”, a strain of rice to which a carotene-producing gene is added.

In many areas of Asia, vitamin A  is devastatingly rare in the diet of many children, causing blindness and altered immunity. Since rice is the dietary staple, adding it to rice can save children from the deficiency.  Nearly 500 million children are said to be deficient. Yet the usual suspects (the anti-GM foods nuts at Greenpeace) have fits claiming all sorts of disasters from the golden rice. The link is to a story from ASCH which also explains the Gates Foundation’s work in fortifying bananas with beta-carotene for the highlands of East Africa where the dietary staple is bananas. There is another banana in Papua New Guinea that contains so much beta carotene that they are orange, and they can simply transplant the gene that produces it into Africa’s cooking banana.

I wandered a bit all over the planet with this post, which started with telling you that I forgot to turn on all the lights to celebrate President Trump’s exit from the Paris Climate Agreement, the loonies who flunked high school biology and chemistry and are terrified of science, and the advances of science in preventing blindness and death in the children of some areas of Asia. ASCH — the American Council on Science and Health is a dandy website for understanding what’s going on in this part of the world. You can sign up for a free subscription, and they’ll send a brief note to your mailbox with the latest news. The Little Black Book of Junk Science by  Alec Berezow is newly available and is just what the title implies.



California: A Failing Utopian Vision by The Elephant's Child

California is becoming the most watched state in the union. The worst-managed state. threatening secession, or division, insisting on whatever the rest of the country is doing, they will go in another direction. And Washington State is trying to follow in their wake,

Here’s Victor Davis Hanson trying to explain what’s gone wrong and why. Our most populous state, a sanctuary state, broke, and people and businesses are fleeing the state for anywhere where taxes are lower and housing costs are sane. People are living in motor homes, sheds, turning a single apartment into a dormitory. Facebook and Google are apparently building a new town to house their workers.



Empathy, they claim. But Generosity Requires Wealth With Which To Be Generous. by The Elephant's Child

In the countries that most enthusiastically embraced capitalism” some two hundred years ago, real, per capita economic growth has increased by 1.5 percent annually. Owing to the miracle of compound interest, this increase has meant a 19-fold increase in living standards over the past two centuries which, she contends, is a “change in the human condition” that “ranks with the first domestication of plants and animals and the building of the first towns”… this enormous economic result had a cause that was cultural rather than economic. Humans did not suddenly become more acquisitive or creative. Rather “when people treat the marketers and inventors as having some dignity and liberty, innovation takes hold.” The new respectability of bourgeois life, the belief that the creativity of capitalism’s creative destruction more than offset its destruction, was the decisive attitudinal change that rendered human life in the past two centuries decisively different from what it had been throughout the preceding millennia.

This is from William Voegeli’s The Pity Party: A Mean-Spirited Diatribe Against Liberal CompassionAbout Economist Deirdre McCloskey. The quotations are from McCloskey. Voegeli adds: In McCloskey’s view, “I don’t much care how ‘capitalism ‘ is defined, so long as it is not defined a priori to mean vice incarnate.” The default position for modern thinking, however, characterizes :commercial society at the outset to be bad by any standard higher than successful greed.”

You will find Voegeli’s Never Enough on the same page. I recommend both highly. They’ve been out for quite a while so there are very inexpensive used copies as well.



There Are Some Conversations That Shake Up Your Ideas. This Is One of Them. by The Elephant's Child

You probably remember Charles Murray’s speech at Middlebury College back in March last year, that essentially turned into a riot. This video was made about a week after the embarrassing incident. I had never seen it before, and found it to be not only fascinating but a little frightening.

We had lots of similar embarrassing occasions on college campuses across the country since, but the events all have a similarity. Students have no understanding of the meaning of the free speech clause in the Constitution,  and are unprepared to hear speech with which they do not agree, Dr. Murray, a noted political scientist, was invited to speak at the campus by Middlebury Professor and Political Scientist Allison Stanger.

One of the first sources to report on the melee was The American Interest should you need a reminder of what transpired. The involved students should have been disciplined, suspended, or just sent home, because there was no excuse for such behavior. Of course, that didn’t happen, with the confused situation on campus discourse today.As the National Interest story says: “If students (and especially professors…) want to criticize an author, they should read what he has written first.” Clearly, academic rigor has deteriorated, along with majors in things like English and History.

This video was made about a week after the events at Middlebury, but I had not seen it before. The comments by Jonathan Haidt, a Professor at NYU’s Stern School of Business, and Frank Bruni, an op-ed columnist at the New York Times, are a fascinating discussion about the Middlebury Melee and the problems of higher education that brought it about, and the implications of the event. It’s the implications that are important.

Clearly, students had no idea what a political scientist does, nor what Dr. Murray had written about, nor why his writings should be read, nor why his studies are important. How many (mostly conservative) speakers can you think of who have been similarly badly treated on today’s college campuses or banned from speaking in the time since that event?

A college campus is not a “community” it is a campus. The reigning meme seems to be “diversity” but diversity of thought and ideas just doesn’t enter into it at all. The acceptable ideas are that diversity is about race, sex, ethnicity, and representation of groups deemed marginalized, but there are “norms” that exclude all sorts of people. Elite businesses and universities assume that diversity and inclusion (D&I) is not only a means to excellence, but an end in itself. No one should be allowed to question that  evident truth. Community should not be disturbed by disagreement. Richard Epstein remarks:

Having chosen its members, D&I champions next embrace a message of “fairness and protection to all regardless of gender, race, religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation.” But rarely do they face up to the conceptual ambiguities and practical tradeoffs that this grandiose statement conceals.

And here is Thomas Sowell:

Nothing so epitomizes the politically correct gullibility of our times as the magic word “diversity.” The wonders of diversity are proclaimed from the media, extolled in the academy and confirmed in the august chambers of the Supreme Court of the United States. But have you ever seen one speck of hard evidence to support the lofty claims?

Although diversity has become one of the leading buzzwords of our time, it has a history that goes back several generations. In the early twentieth century, the principle of geographic diversity was used to conceal bias against Jews in the admission of students to Harvard and other leading academic institutions.

“Diversity” oddly, does not include diversity of thought or belief. Since there is little diversity among the administration and faculty of most universities, it should not be surprising that both campus and workplace are now considered “communities”, and since communities are supposed to be peaceful places where everyone is truly communal, the observation that they are becoming communes is obviously true, but unacceptable as a comment.

The tech industry, in particular, seems to be a source for much of the groupthink. Businesses seem to believe that they can become advocates for correct political thought, since as Hillary says so often, the places that did not vote for her were clearly ignorant deplorables who did not recognize correct enlightened ideas. Is this all a result of the idea that everyone should get a medal or a gold star and no one should be excluded? Of supervised play, and computers and social media where those who have improper thoughts or words can be blocked or unfriended? If you think about that process, it bears a striking similarity to what is happening on college campuses and in the workplace.

Our public schools are anxious to get all the kids computerized, as that seems to be the necessary element in education for the future. But maybe it isn’t. Maybe that’s why thoughtful people tell college students to avoid any class that has “studies” after its name. Maybe the idea of reducing or eliminating competition is faulty. Maybe everyone shouldn’t get a gold star. Maybe Nancy Pelosi’s call for open borders as opposed to any ideal of  “merit” in admission of immigrants is totally haywire. Canada and Australia admit immigrants by considering what skills or benefits they bring to their new country, much like the most selective schools do, or used to do. The video isn’t very long, but there’s a lot of food for thought there.



The Impossible Dream of Socialism and Social Welfare by The Elephant's Child

From William Voegeli’s Never Enough:

“The socialist dream of organizing an economy around the purposes of advancing social welfare, as it is governmentally determined and meted out, seems destined to remain an abstraction irrelevant to the world’s political and economic needs. One strange result of the collapse of socialism, and the absence of any other credible way to avoid relying on markets is that the welfare state is heavily dependent on the health of capitalism. The government cannot disburse wealth that never gets created, and creating the wealth required for modern, prosperous societies without the knowledge conveyed by prices set in markets appears to be impossible.”



Here’s the Story Behind the National School Walkout by The Elephant's Child

Why am I not surprised? The same progressive groups that were behind the Women’s March to protest the election of Donald Trump, were the progressive groups that planned the “National School Walkout.” Students were asked to “walk out” of school for 17 minutes to “honor” the 17 victims. Instead of a memorial, the walkout became marches and protests to demand “gun control” and demonize any support for the Second Amendment and to blame the National Rifle Association for the “gun violence” in schools.

Sponsors on the Women’s March website are called “partners.” The two premiere sponsors were Planned Parenthood Foundation and the National Resources Defense Council. Others were SEIU, AFL-CIO, GLBTQ, ACLU, Occupy Wall Street, Pussy Hat Project, moveon.org, Center for American Progress, CODEPINK, Communist Party USA, Emily’s List, Human Rights Campaign, and the National Abortion Federation. And many others. The Leftists really like to organize, there are all sorts of little clubs, so you have backing for your protest, power in numbers, and financial backing from George Soros and his cohorts. You can feel good because you’re with “friends.”

—The new “Women’s March Youth Empower webpage” and its “Enough” anti-gun protest cover everything needed for a good protest that will get lots of press attention. The “toolkit” tells the kids that parent support would be helpful to influence the school.

—Suggested chants: “No More Silence, End Gun Violence,” “Guns in schools? We say NO, NRA has got to go,” “Enough is Enough.”

There’s a list of demands too. “We demand that Congress enact an immediate resolution declaring “gun violence” a public health crisis, and dedicating federal funding to research solutions and implement violence intervention programs. We demand Congress recognize all forms of gun violence, including violence committed by police.”

You didn’t think that this was a spontaneous outpouring of emotion from the kids, fearful of their own lives as they grieved for their compatriots in Florida did you?

Any kid’s danger of being shot in an attack on a school is approximately one in 641 million someone calculated. There is no such thing as “gun violence.” Guns are inanimate objects, and require a shooter and bullets, which require a license. More people are killed with fists, clubs of some sort, and pistols than what they are calling “assault weapons” or lately the Center for American Progress has sent out the talking point “Weapons of War.” Which is also nonsense, as military weapons are not available to citizens, unless stolen. What they like to call “assault weapons” are just ordinary rifles duded-up with scopes and fancy magazines to make them look more impressive. They still shoot the same bullet, one pull of the trigger at a time. The majority of gun deaths are suicides, mostly with handguns.

Some of the more ludicrous signs were “18th Century Laws Cannot Regulate 20th Century Weapons,”  and “De-Militarize the Police.” Locally, some students made speeches—one 16-year-old said, according to the local newspaper “When your leaders act like children and your children act like leaders that’s when you know change is coming.” Four years ago, she was 12. The whole purpose of the “walkout” was for an “out of the mouths of children” effect on the country.

The kids were truly sincere in their feelings, and unfortunately being disgracefully used by hard-left adults who couldn’t care less about the kids themselves. The kids were used as an emotional tool to influence the press for maximum attention and to influence people who were horrified by the Parkland attack and want to “do something.” What is dramatically missing from the whole national conversation is information. The loudest voices are the most ill-informed. Unfortunately, all the Left really wants is power and control, and they don’t care who they have to use to get it.




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