American Elephants


How To Win Back Rural Voters, Or Not. by The Elephant's Child

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The Left are having a hard time understanding how they lost the election and why it happened. President Obama cannot understand why rural Americans did not turn out for him and his successor since he did so much for them, plowing so much money into rural communities, for green energy. Democrats firmly “believe that they can win back rural voters by ratcheting up their pre-election mission of moving the country from fossil fuels to green energy.”

They are using calls to drastically reduce carbon emission to convince middle-class voters, many of whom voted for Trump, that green energy can provide thousands of jobs to replace those once held by coal workers. Democrat plans to phase out fossil fuels come despite the president-elect’s campaign to restore lost coal jobs.

“This is fundamentally a jobs message,” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee told reporters last week in reference to Democrats renewed focus on green energy. “We represent a horizon of job creation that is as great or greater than any other industrial sector.”

Our embarrassingly ineffective governor wants to pass a carbon tax to raise an estimated $2 billion in revenue to pay for education and clean energy projects. Uh huh.

They keep saying that green energy projects create lots of jobs. This is nonsense. Wind farms and solar arrays are made elsewhere, installed by the people who build them, and attended by the people who install them. I haven’t seen a single installation anywhere where they brag about all the new jobs. Washington is blessed with the Columbia River which has many electricity producing dams that already are “clean energy.”

Wind energy is a favorite alternative energy source for advocates of all things green — and we use wind energy as an example of what happens when we deviate from using real science: we end up with high-cost, low-benefit boondoggles. (Much the same could be said about solar.)

The main justification for wind energy by its promoters, is that it will substantially reduce the threat of climate change. Unfortunately this is a political science position, not one based on real Science. No scientific assessment has proven that wind energy saves a consequential amount of CO2 — or that it is a NET societal benefit to us. NET, of course, is the key word.

True believers in global warming are essentially members of a religious cult. They have been told that green energy will save the planet from overheating or something devastating anyway. They are passionate, because what can be more noble than saving the planet. They have installed low flow showers and toilets in their homes to save water, while the government that forced the lousy showers and toilets on them insists that we must beware the rise of the seas which will inundate our coastal cities. Saving water because we’re running out and too much water on the coast does not make sense.

Global warming exists in the computer programs of the scientists in universities who have gotten all sorts of funding from the federal government to work on global warming.

Rural people who farm corn in the Midwest are very much in favor of adding vast quantities of ethanol to your gasoline. It has raised the price of corn significantly. Other than corn farmers, rural people are not apt to be true believers. They spend their days with the climate and understand hot summers and cold winters and cool summers and the lack of snow.They understand when environmentalists bewail the potential endangered species in a certain location that there are apt to be plenty more on the other side of the hill. City people who live in apartments don’t have that daily interaction and are apt to be far more gullible.<

I remember when earlier in President Obama’s first term, he and Michelle were visiting one of the Southern Adirondack resorts, and they went for a walk in the woods—apparently the first time they had done so. That’s not what a Westerner thinks of as “woods.” I think that was the first time I really realized how little city people know of nature, and consequently how little they understand of environmentalists claims.

No, you are not going to win over rural voters with “green energy.”

Currently, most of our energy and environmental policies are NOT Science based. Instead these policies have essentially been written by lobbyists representing clients with economic or political agendas. The predictable result is that almost all of these policies cost taxpayers, businesses, etc. considerably more than originally promised — and accomplish significantly less than we were assured. Additionally, there are usually numerous “unintended consequences” of these lobbyist driven policies that make the net effects even worse.

Wind energy is a favorite alternative energy source for advocates of all things green — and we use wind energy as an example of what happens when we deviate from using real science: we end up with high-cost, low-benefit boondoggles. (Much the same could be said about solar.)

The main justification for wind energy by its promoters, is that it will substantially reduce the threat of climate change. Unfortunately this is a political science position, not one based on real Science. No scientific assessment has proven that wind energy saves a consequential amount of CO2 — or that it is a NET societal benefit to us. NET, of course, is the key word.

Democrats, as true believers, are sure that climate change will defeat Donald Trump’s nominees. Mike Pompeo, nominated to the Central Intelligence Agency because of his expertise in intelligence and spycraft, and his mission to defeat terror groups was questioned persistently by Kamala Harris, the new California senator about the scientific consensus on global warming, and asked if he had any reason to doubt NASA’s findings? He responded that he would prefer not to get into the details of the climate debate because the agency’s role is to collect foreign intelligence.

Ben Carson was questioned by Elizabeth Warren  who wanted to learn what the doctor thought about CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions, because flooding poses “a significant risk to public housing.” She also wanted to know what “other actions will you take to adapt to or prevent climate change while you are HUD Secretary.”

Perhaps they are just practicing up for the day when Scott Pruitt will be grilled about leading the Environmental Protection Agency. They really have it in for him. Patty Murray, our very own Washington State Senator called the Oklahoma Attorney General “a climate change denier.” Jean Shaheen of New Hampshire claimed he was a “capitulation to polluters.”

They keep explaining why they lost the election, and they’re right, but it isn’t exactly what they claim, but what they make evident that they do not understand.



The Economic Wit and Wisdom of Thomas Sowell by The Elephant's Child

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The great economist Thomas Sowell has written his last columns, and at age 86, is turning his attention to his photography. He has always had a special genius for stating ideas in a simple but memorable way. When people wanted to honor his long list of columns over the years, they made lists of their favorite Sowell quotations. Here are some of mine and some of economist Mark Perry’s.

  1. ObamaCare: If we cannot afford to pay for doctors, hospitals and pharmaceutical drugs now, how can we afford to pay for doctors, hospitals and pharmaceutical drugs. in addition to a new federal bureaucracy to administer a government run medical system?
  2. Predicting the Future:  Economists are often asked to predict what the economy is going to do. But economic predictions require predicting what politicians are going to do– and nothing is more unpredictable.
  3. Economics vs. Politics: The first lesson of economics is scarcity: There is never enough of anything to satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics.”
  4. Economics vs. Politics: Economics and politics confront the same fundamental problem: What everyone wants adds up to more than there is. Market economies deal with this problem by confronting individuals with the costs of producing what they want, and letting those individuals make their own trade-offs when presented with prices that convey those costs. That leads to self-rationing, in the light of each individual’s own circumstances and preferences.
  5. Predicting the Future: Economists are often asked to predict what the economy is going to do. But economic predictions require predicting what politicians are going to do– and nothing is more unpredictable.
  6. Politicians as Santa Claus: The big question that seldom— if ever— gets asked in the mainstream media is whether these are a net increase in jobs. Since the only resources that the government has are the resources it takes from the private sector, using those resources to create jobs means reducing the resources available to create jobs in the private sector.
  7. Helping the Poor: It was Thomas Edison who brought us electricity, not the Sierra Club.It was the Wright brothers who got us off the ground, not the Federal Aviation Administration. It was Henry Ford who ended the isolation of millions of Americans by making the automobile affordable, not Ralph Nader.
    Those who have helped the poor the most have not been those who have gone around loudly expressing “compassion” for the poor, but those who found ways to make industry more productive and distribution more efficient, so that the poor of today can afford things that the affluent of yesterday could only dream about.
  8. Thomas Sowell on Obama’s Health Care Reform


Political Correctness, Progressivism and the Perpetual War on Real Progress by The Elephant's Child

From Angelo Codevilla: “The Rise of Political Correctness” in the Claremont Review of Books:

The notion of political correctness came into use among Communists in the 1930s as a semi-humorous reminder that the Party’s interest is to be treated as a reality that ranks above reality itself. Because all progressives, Communists included, claim to be about creating new human realities, they are perpetually at war against nature’s laws and limits. But since reality does not yield, progressives end up pretending that they themselves embody those new realities. Hence, any progressive movement’s nominal goal eventually ends up being  subordinated to the urgent, all-important question of the movement’s own power. Because that power is insecure as long as others are able to question the truth of what progressives say about themselves and the world, lprogressive movements end up struggling not so much to create the promised new realities as to force people to speak and act as if these were real: as if what is correct politically—i.e.,what thoughts serve the party’s interest—were correct factually.

Communist states furnish only the most prominent examples of such attempted groupthink. Progressive parties everywhere have sought to monopolize educational and cultural institutions in order to force those under their thumbs to sing their tunes or to shut up. But having brought about the opposite of the prosperity, health, wisdom or happiness that their ideology advertised, they have been unable to force folks to ignore the gap between political correctness and reality.

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This is a pretty good example of how Democrats use “talking points” to get a message across, which is just another form of propaganda— designed to fit an image in your mind. And it is the media that is repeating the talking points. It’s not just repetitive words, but basic ideas, repeated over and over until they seem normal. And this is the media doing Leftist propaganda, not news.

We are told that we must be concerned about feelings: compassion, sympathy, pity, empathy, fellow feeling, care, concern, sensitivity, solicitude, generosity, goodwill, humanitarianism, for the refugees from the Middle East. We have to be nice.

Angela Merkel was just being compassionate when she invited refugees to come to Europe. The refugees were welcomed. They welcomed them with flowers and food and housing. Europe, at Angela Merkel’s invitation, was trying to be nice. She may have lost the next German elections already.

The religion of most of the refugees tells them that Western women are infidels, whores, and it’s fine to rape or mistreat them. So you have “No Go” areas where it is not safe to enter, even for police. The ‘refugees’  don’t want to work, they like being supported. They don’t intend to be assimilated. They are demanding the installation of Sharia law. Europe, overall seems incapable of saying ‘No’ firmly.

Same thing is beginning to happen in this country. Obama is shipping refugees in significant numbers to states that usually vote Republican, The states don’t get to turn them down. If you don’t want to welcome refugees, or object to executive orders or regulations, you are a bad person because you don’t have the proper compassion.

Look again at that list of nice words. You will seldom hear an explanation of just what Sharia Law is, nor of the fact that the refugees are not interested in assimilating, nor in becoming Americans.

More than 4.4 million people are on the wait list to immigrate to the United States. They have applied legally, and want to become Americans, yet Obama is flooding the country with “Syrian refugees” who aren’t necessarily even Syrian, and can’t be vetted. The problem is that Sharia Law and the Islamic way of life are completely incompatible with our way of life.

As I have said, humans are by nature tribal. We want to be with those who share the same background, the same heritage and language, the same customs. Commonalities. Shared experiences. It isn’t about race or ethnicity, though that may matter for some. So what? One of my friends plays tournament bridge, and has friends with whom she shares the pleasure of the game. A nearby shopping center has a food court and adjacent tables often feature a knitting circle, and there is a giant chess board with players from all over, and several games going on at the side.

To Quote Angelo Codevilla again:

Every form of progressivism bases itself on the claim of a special,”scientific.” knowledge of what is wrong with humanity and how to fix it. The formula is straightforward; the world is not as it should be because society’s basic “structural” feature is ordered badly.

As far as I can tell, the source of greatest anger among humanity at the moment is that Leftists are furious at those who disagree with them about the direction of the country, the importance of the Constitution, and the reach of the federal government. That seems to be the basic “structural” feature that is not as it should be. Leftism or progressivism is a religion, and the Left, collectively, are quite as intolerant as the Islamists in our midst. Yet, collectively, they cannot bring themselves to call Islamic terrorism by name.

Human nature is not as it should be, and must be fixed, so that progressives are in charge and no one disagrees with them.  Baldly stated, it’s really not so attractive at all.



Exit Stage Left: Whiny, Self-Justifying, With Elaborate Excuses by The Elephant's Child

obama-olderIn Juno of 2008, a younger Barack Obama spoke eloquently about his future role as a transformative president.

I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth.

The caring for the sick part didn’t work out so well, The Obama bureaucrats could not conceive of a plan where the decisions were left to physicians, and wrapped the medical establishment in a cocoon of regulations; for example, an encounter with a patient was supposed to last just 7½ minutes. Keep an eye on your watch and think that one through.

Young Emily Smith has an unexplained itchy rash, prescription written easily within the time limit. Mrs. Grundy, however, has been having chest pains and is running a fever, is about 40 pounds overweight, and may well have heart disease. 7½ minutes? The failures of ObamaCare, Medicaid, Medicare, the Indian Health Service and VA hospitals have a lot in common. The administrative state, over-regulation, silly rules, and the inability to hold bureaucrats to account adds up. There’s a reason why so many doctors will not accept patients with these versions of government insurance.

The good jobs that were promised have also gone a glimmering. Obama has proudly enumerated all the new jobs created each month, but it turns out that almost all the new jobs created during the Obama administration were part time or temporary jobs. The administration’s conviction that they are smarter than the ordinary people out there has meant an overweening impulse to control and regulate. In 2016, the lame duck administration has added 3,853 regulations, 18 for every law — a record 97,110 pages of red tape. Small business is drowning in them. Three of my favorite small businesses have given up the ghost, and I’ll bet that several of your favorites have too.  All too often, bureaucrats invent new regulations with no idea of how they affect business in the real world. This description of “the Administrative State.” shows clearly how it all happens.

The [Federal Trade] Commission promulgates substantive rules of conduct. The Commission then considers whether to authorize investigations into whether the Commission’s rules have been violated. If the Commission authorizes an investigation, the investigation is conducted by the Commission, which reports its findings to the Commission. If the Commission thinks that the Commission’s findings warrant an enforcement action, the Commission issues a complaint. The Commission’s complaint that a Commission rule has been violated is then prosecuted by the Commission and adjudicated by the Commission. This Commission adjudication can either take place before the full Commission or before a semi-autonomous Commission administrative law judge. If the Commission chooses to adjudicate before an administrative law judge rather than before the Commission and the decision is adverse to the Commission, the Commission can appeal to the Commission. If the Commission ultimately finds a violation, then, and only then, the affected private party can appeal to an Article III court. But the agency decision, even before the bona fide Article III tribunal, possesses a very strong presumption of correctness on matters both of fact and of law. (this comes from Steven Hayward, quoting Boston University Law Professor Gary Lawson in an article for the Harvard Law Review)

The Obama Administration has put forth 25 “midnight regulations” rules that are published between Election Day and before the next president in inaugurated on January 20. According to the American Action For4um, they will cost the economy $44.1 billion. Obama’s eight years in office did not include even one year of economic growth at the normal 3% historical average.

Obama has ordered the EPA to proceed with its controversial Stream Protection Rule—which would make mining so difficult it would make 85 percent of the nation’s coal reserves unrecoverable. On Tuesday he designated most federally owned land in the Arctic Ocean and large swaths off the Atlantic Coast closed to drilling, which would prevent any production of huge reserves of oil and gas.

George W.Bush went to great lengths to make the transition easy for the incoming Obama administration, recognized that his time in the spotlight was over, and refused to comment on his successors failures and mistakes. And even in spite of being blamed for everything that didn’t work out, Mr. Bush remained a gentleman. Mr. Obama learned nothing from his predecessor, and will exit—whiny, self-justifying and full of excuses. In his “exit interview” on CNN with his former advisor David Axlerod, Obama pledged he would abide by tradition and retire with dignity as ex-president. We’ll see about that.



Protests and Protesters, The Standing Rock Sioux Revisited by The Elephant's Child

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In the election just passed, in spite of the death threats and harassment of electors, pleas of celebrities, all but two of Donald Trump’s electors were unswayed. Hillary lost five votes to Colin Powell, Bernie Sanders, and Faith Spotted Eagle. The proprietors of one talk show, at least, thought someone was voting for a bird.

The latter faithless electors, at least four of them, were here in Washington State. The vote for Faith Spotted Eagle came from Robert Satiacum Jr, a member of the Puyallup tribe, here in Western Washington. He explained:

In the words of Robert Satiacum, Jr., the Washington elector who cast that vote, she is “a real leader” who has stood up for environmental causes. The 68 year-old is a member of South Dakota’s Yankton Sioux tribe. A licensed counselor, she began a group known as the Brave Heart Society to help bring back traditional knowledge and culture by working with youth, particularly young women.

On a national level, she is more well known for her environmental activism. In 2013, she led protests against the Keystone pipeline, which would have crossed South Dakota. During the protests, she feared not only environmental contamination but that the “man camps” that the company planned to build to house its primarily-male workforce would lead to violence against women. At the time, she likened the idea to U.S. Army forts in the plains in the 1800s.

Now, she is an ally of the protesters trying to stop the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. In September, she and other tribal leaders in Yankton sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, arguing that the project had failed to receive a proper environmental study.

Even if you are far from the Dakotas, it’s worth understanding what this is all about. Part is the glamour of “Protest.” Mounting the barricades to stand against oppression seems noble, excuses your own flaws, and doesn’t matter, really, if the protest succeeds. That’s why so many celebrities show up at protests. Becoming known for appearing in movies or on television is not exactly a record of great accomplishment, but of playing a bit part in a large collaborative effort often just because you’re pretty or able to follow directions well. Great actors are not usually the ones who show up at protests to get more media attention.

Here are two articles that do a good job.  One is from Commentary, by Naomi Schaffer Riley, and the other is from the Wall Street Journal by North Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer. Our relations with the nation’s Indian tribes is certainly imperfect. But one big major flaw is that the Indian nations don’t really own the land of their reservation. In particular, they cannot drill for the oil and gas that exist under their reservations. They can build casinos which have helped to alleviate the poverty of many reservations, but there would seem to be no reason why they should not be able to exercise their own sovereignty over their own land, except for worthless objections to all fossil fuels by ignorant Greens.

Coming home last night and observing all the lights in the industrial part of Seattle, as well as the high-rise downtown, I was struck by the utter impossibility of powering that vast city with windmills and solar panels, and not biofuels nor algae either. Not going to happen. The two articles tell you a lot about protests, the environmental movement, Native American reservations and the media. Worth understanding. It is not about water. The pipeline crosses the river more than a mile and a half below the reservation. It’s not about reservation land, it is only on private or federal land. It’s not about safety. The pipeline is double strength, has automatic shutoff valves on each side of the river, and is 100 feet below the river next to an existing pipeline.  The pipeline is 93% finished, except for this last little stretch. Pipelines have an outstanding record of safety, oil trains and trucks do not.



Nobel Laureate Ivar Glaever “Global Warming Revisited” by The Elephant's Child

Nobel Laureate Ivar Glaever spoke at the Noble Laureates meeting on July 1, 2015, pointing out the mistakes which Obama makes in his speeches about global warming and shares other facts about the state of the climate. Dr. Glaever is a Norwegian American physicist. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics shared with Leo Esaki and Brian Josephson for their discoveries regarding tunneling phenomena in solids.

He endorsed Obama, but now says: “Global warming is a non-problem. We have to stop wasting huge, I mean huge amounts of money on global warming. Glaever speaks with an extraordinary measure of plain old common sense, which doesn’t appear often in the debate on climate. And he’s correct. It is a religion, and as such, unassailable.

 



The Climate is Not Warming, it’s Cooling! by The Elephant's Child

President Obama knows full well that much of his legacy is going to be erased by the next administration. The Left is already raging over the nomination of Scott Pruitt, the former Attorney General of Oklahoma to head the EPA, and Former Governor of Texas Rick Perry to head the Energy Department. The EPA is struggling to flood the country with every rule they can squeeze out, and President Obama is not going to go quietly.

One of Obama’s final acts will be to try once again to shut down the fossil-fuel industry. He hopes to block the sale of offshore drilling rights in both Alaska and parts of the Atlantic, using a somewhat obscure 1953 law that allows the  president to make more or less  peremptory decisions on oil and gas leases off the coast. He is twisting the law to do so. Up till now, the law has been used sparingly to preserve coral reefs, walrus feeding grounds and marine sanctuaries. But then Obama has never had much respect for law or for the Constitution.

Apparently he wants to preserve his reputation as a champion of climate change. Yesterday he issued  new regulations on coal mining—if you recall, he said early on that he wanted to bankrupt the coal industry, which is already struggling, as are mining communities who have lost crushing numbers of jobs. Congress can reverse regulations proposed within the previous 60 legislative days. Federal rules on fracking on public lands will be reversed, and Republicans will have some allies across the aisle as well.

Obama recently gave his final address to the troops as commander-in-chief, so he blamed President George W. Bush, climate change and the Second Amendment as the reasons why ISIS (He calls it ISIL) keeps getting stronger.

When the all-encompassing panic about increasing CO2 in the atmosphere started it was thought that anything more than 350 ppm would mean catastrophe. But then it breezed  past 400 ppm with no problems and has continued climbing. And what happened? CO2 is a natural fertilizer for plants and essential to life. We have a greening world, increasingly able to feed the hungry. When was the last time you heard about famine (other than in Venezuela)?

The alarm about global warming exists only in the computer climate models, relied on by the IPCC. But once they had entered what we really know about climate, (and we’d made lots of mistakes, like thermometer locations next to air-conditioner vents or surrounded by concrete walls reflecting heat) and confusion about arctic ice that melts in the summer and grows in the winter, and no idea about the action and meaning of clouds.

Then there’s El Nino and La Nina. Currently there has been a record drop in global temperatures as the El Nino warming ends. “Global average temperatures over land have  plummeted by more than 1ºC since the middle of this year—the biggest and steepest fall on record. According to satellite data, the late 2016 temperatures are returning to the levels they were at after the 1998 El Nino. The earth is cooling—not warming.

In February, I think, of 2015, Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nation ‘s Framework Convention on Climate Change admitted in a news conference that the goal of environmental activists was not to save the world from ecological calamity—but to destroy capitalism.

“This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution,” she said.

Well  yes, works well in Venezuela, and a few other such places.

Francis Merton, the Manhattan Contrarian has written a good summary.

Henry I. Miller at National Review: “Trump ‘s nominee for the EPA Administrator could—and should—abolish the agency.”

It ‘s going to be very interesting.




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