American Elephants

The Art of Political War And the Art of a Political Response by The Elephant's Child

Republicans prefer their presidential candidates to be experienced governors who are practiced at dealing with difficult legislatures, lots of state agencies and troublesome problems that pop up unexpectedly—so when they are elected they can move into the White House more or less knowing what they are doing.

Democrats prefer glamorous candidates that they can admire. They fell in love with FDR, Jack Kennedy, Bill Clinton and Obama. Republicans seldom go to that extreme, though they have liked some better than others.

We elected Donald Trump, who, having spent his life in a very liberal New York City, is not as intense a Republican, or perhaps only lately a Republican. Nevertheless, he saw something disturbingly wrong with the Obama administration’s America, and he wants to fix it —  hence the “Make America Great Again” baseball caps and the “draining the swamp rhetoric.” He hit a chord in vast numbers of angry American voters.

The White House and the presidential job were a bit startling to this Chief Executive Officer of his own empire, It’s far more intense than he had expected. Democrats in the Senate slow-walked every appointment that they could. Maxine Waters got in front of every available camera to insist on impeaching the president. Selecting the best person for each cabinet post means lots of interviews, lots of recommendations to sort through, and at 120 days he has finally completed the appointments.

I can sort of imagine the problems. He has his campaign staff with him, but many of the most important cabinet officers are still new to him. Each of them must start right in with a brand new office of old Washington hands, some willing, many unfriendly leftovers. Many of the appointments seem to be outstanding. Nikki Haley has hit the ground running at the UN. Some of the new people aren’t Republicans at all. Suspicions abound. Old familiar staff and family and new staff are sizing each other up and trying to decide if they can possibly work together.

Congress is moving at a slow crawl. The news media is hostile and trying to make a catastrophe out of every word by, about and from the President. The Democrats cannot accept the verdict of the American people and are trying to bring down this president. There are “Never Trumpers” among the Republicans. The Democrats really struck pay-dirt when they found the 5 year old tape of the presidential candidate  making “locker-room comments” about women attracted to celebrities. Someone remarked that it was a “class issue”, and because of that comment, the elites determined that he was lower class, and thereby beyond the pale. Uneeded complications.

Trump is meeting with a wide variety of our most repellent foreign leaders in coming days, at his invitation. I think he just wants to size them up himself, rather than just rely on what he is being told. Some are disturbed that he is willing to meet with these heads of state.

The new staff is still sorting itself out and not satisfactorily. Some will be replaced, which will lead to further attacks from the Democrats. Staff dissension will be sorted out, communication will improve, and progress will be made. Bite your tongue. Allow the White House time to sort out the newness,  they are under attack in an unexpected war. We’ve got an outstanding bunch of people there. Use your annoyance and anger to attack the left’s unrelenting venom.

Democrats are unaccustomed to any possibility that Republicans might actually respond. They remind us frequently that Mitch McConnell said early in Obama’s first term that his number one goal was to make sure that Obama was a one-term president, and how rude and crass a comment! That was apparently the whole of the Republican attack on the new Democrat president. Republicans are far too polite to really go on offense. They need your help. Hang in there. Praise the successes, and try not to criticize the flops too much. They need your encouragement, not  your criticism. It’s still very early on.



Misconceptions About Wind: Basic Arithmetic by The Elephant's Child

Here’s the headline from an article in the Spectator, dated May 13: “Wind turbines are neither clean nor green and they provide zero global energy” with the subhead “We urgently need to stop the ecological posturing and invest in gas and nuclear.” The post is from Matt Ridley.

The Global Wind Energy Council recently released its latest report, excitedly boasting that ‘the proliferation of wind energy into the global power market continues at a furious pace, after it was revealed that more than 54 gigawatts of clean renewable wind power was installed across the global market last year’.

You may have got the impression from announcements like that, and from the obligatory pictures of wind turbines in any BBC story or airport advert about energy, that wind power is making a big contribution to world energy today. You would be wrong. Its contribution is still, after decades — nay centuries — of development, trivial to the point of irrelevance.

Here’s a quiz; no conferring. To the nearest whole number, what percentage of the world’s energy consumption was supplied by wind power in 2014, the last year for which there are reliable figures? Was it 20 per cent, 10 per cent or 5 per cent? None of the above: it was 0 per cent. That is to say, to the nearest whole number, there is still no wind power on Earth.

Basic math. World energy demand has been growing about two percent a year for nearly 40 years. Between 2012 and 2014 it grew, according to International Energy agency data, just under 2,000 terawatt-hours. If all that had to be supplied by wind turbines—just that and no more—how many new turbines would have to be built? Nearly 350,000. A two-megawatt turbine can produce about 0.005 terawatt-hours per annum. That’s 1½ times as many as have been built in the world since governments first started subsidizing them with taxpayer money.

Wind farms typically have a density of about 50 acres per megawatt, at that density, that many turbines would need a land area larger than the entire British Isles. In 50 years, if we kept this up, we would have covered a land area the size of Russia. But there’s more, hidden pollution, rare earths, the materials required, how turbines are made. Do read the whole article.  Matt Ridley is always worth our attention.

It just turns out to be that wind and solar are essentially very costly and extremely useless pursuits. Aside from the intermittency problem, the arithmetic just doesn’t work. Lot of people  have made some big money on the subsidies though.

Sun and Wind and Rainbows and Magic Do Not Power the Planet by The Elephant's Child

A post I wrote back in 2013 is getting another round of attention, as it does now and then. I wrote about abandoned wind turbines, and the misguided notion that wind and sun are free, therefore renewable energy—and to be endlessly subsidized as our most desirable source of power. I hasten to add that I am not a scientist nor do I have any pretense of being one. I was an English major at a time and in a college where the pursuit of knowledge and the critical examination of sources were considered essential.

But I also grew up in the mountains of Idaho on 400 acres with a river running through it, and spent most of my time, winter and summer, outdoors. We had winters with 5′ of snow and winters that were fairly mild. Flood, forest fires, lightning strikes, cougar, bear, lynx and woodrats. (I’m a deadly shot on woodrats. They gather up the cotton from cottonwood trees, store it in the attic of the woodshed and then pee all over it, and have their babies there.) You don’t live outdoors for years interacting with weather, and get all panicky about a few degrees warmer or cooler.

Science is complicated. I just read about a cave discovered in Mexico, a half a mile down, so hot that scientists can only stay for a few minutes, where there are microbes trapped in crystals that could be 50,000 years old, living on minerals like iron and manganese. Lots left on Earth for us to discover yet, diseases to conquer, unknown territory, they are discovering new species every year. The world economy runs on some form of electric power, and not just for our convenience, light and heat. Transportation, manufacturing, business and government are dependent on electricity and their needs are growing constantly, so the more power we need.

People are frightened by nuclear power after the horrific catastrophe in Japan, and the nuclear accident in Russia. We have dams on most of our major rivers, and environmentalists long for free wild rivers. Power good, but dams bad. Environmentalists say that coal, oil and natural gas are all evil, and should “stay in the ground where they belong.” So it’s unsurprising that there is a fetish for energy from the wind and the sun. Surely with our advanced modern technology we can invent wind turbines and solar arrays to harness the free energy of the wind and the sun. Well, no, no we can’t. Or we can, if we’re content to live in extreme poverty.

The wind is terminally, fatally intermittent. When the wind blows, which is not most of the time, it blows in gusts and wafts or gales. What you need is a steady stream of wind and then you get “capacity,” which is what the manufactures of the turbines promise when they are extolling the virtues of wind. Never happens. In winter, when you are freezing, the wind is apt to not blow at all, and the turbines don’t turn. They have already tried most of the really windy places —Altamont Pass in California, the tip of the Hawaiian Islands, they’ve even replaced a lot of the idle turbines in my 2013 post, so now they are moving offshore. There’s a big offshore farm coming online off our East coast shortly. Offshore turbines take a lot more punishment from saltwater and weather. The life of an onshore turbine is 20 years at best, offshore is a lot less.

The sun, on the other hand, is too diffuse. For real power you need really hot sun bearing down, in a cloudless sky. How many cloudless, sunny days do you get? This is the Northwest, where we get rain all the time, and plenty of clouds. The sun also has a habit of sinking beneath the horizon at night, and even more so in the short days of winter. Elon Musk keeps promising battery arrays to take care of that, but it certainly hasn’t happened yet, and his solar farms haven’t been in the news much. Wind turbines have a nasty habit of chopping up bats and birds by the hundreds, birds of prey as well. What that does to our insect population and rodent population I don’t know, but it doesn’t bode well for malaria and Zika. and other disease.

Both of these technologies demand more and more land each year as the need for more and more energy increases, land in quantities simply unavailable.  Look for Robert Bryce’s book: Smaller, Faster, Lighter, Denser, Cheaper. It’s a clear, simple explanation of why wind and solar will remain interesting, but are not a major source of power except in the remote places where any source of power, however limited,  is a bounty.

Captured On Video — The Real Agenda of the Climate March by The Elephant's Child

It was at a news conference in Brussels in early February 2015, that Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the United Nation’s Framework Convention on Climate Change, admitted that the goal of environmental activists is 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.

Socialists, intent on the wonders of social justice and the ‘better world’ of their dreams, never, never seem to pay any attention to the monumental failures of socialism everywhere it has been tried. The  past 25 years have witnessed the greatest reduction in global poverty  in the history of the world. An 80 % reduction in world poverty in only 36 years. Globalization, Free markets, free trade, international entrepreneurship. The free enterprise system, American style, which is our gift to the world. This is not the first time some greenie has blurted out the truth behind their campaign to protect the world from the horrors of the carbon dioxide we exhale every time we breathe. Go figure.

As far as that goes, climate change doesn’t really matter to them, it is only another tool in their drive for control. The failures of socialism all over the world never seem to penetrate. There’s the romance of manning the barricades, as seen in Antifa and the anarchists riots and breaking windows and setting fires. I was surprised to see in a video of the rioters in either Portland or Berkeley, I forget which, the women whose masks has slipped  and exposed their gender, with the clubs they carried. Romantic. Look how many celebrate Cuban Communism with Ché t-shirts honoring a nasty killer.

Here, from the Wall Street Journal is an article about the Venezuelan experiment with socialism. “Venezuela is Starving: Once Latin America’s richest country, Venezuela can no longer feed its people, hobbled by the nationalization of farms as well as price and currency controls”

YARE, Venezuela— Jean Pierre Planchart, a year old, has the drawn face of an old man and a cry that is little more than a whimper. His ribs show through his skin. He weighs just 11 pounds.

His mother, Maria Planchart, tried to feed him what she could find combing through the trash—scraps of chicken or potato. She finally took him to a hospital in Caracas, where she prays a rice-milk concoction keeps her son alive.

Well, they just didn’t do it right. The ability to apply expert administration, administrative scientism— the continual search for perfectionism in our ability to apply scientific knowledge to tomorrow’s problems by the elite. All just steps on the way to a glorious future when they are in complete charge.
They believe.

Some Reality About Renewable Energy by The Elephant's Child

Marches for climate, marches for science. The interesting thing is that the marchers can’t be bothered with studying up on the subject, but just go by what they read on Facebook or what the celebrities have to say. They call for “renewable” energy without much idea of what renewable energy is. The most  renewable is of course hydropower, but then they object to dams in the rivers, not so much for spawning fish, but because of a romantic ideal of wild rivers.

Wind energy, they believe is renewable, because the wind is free. The wind may be free, but those huge turbines cost an arm and a leg. Not only that, but wind comes with incurable intermittency. Wind simply does not blow steadily. According to Robert Bryce’s Smaller, Faster, Lighter, Denser, Cheaper, wind energy has a power density of 1 watt per square meter.

Wind turbines have a deleterious effect on wildlife. A 2013 peer-reviewed estimate found wind turbines killing 900,000 bats and 573,000 birds each year, including 83,000 birds of prey. Over a time period when wind capacity tripled, the number of eagles killed increased twelve fold between 1997 and 2012. Eliminating that number of birds and bats would seem to mean greater health threats from insect borne disease like malaria or Zika, but I have seen no estimates for that.

The world’s wind turbines have 284 megawatts of capacity. They produced 521 terawatt hours of electricity. To keep up with electricity demand, you would have to add four times the current wind energy capacity each year. U.S. capacity in 2012 was 60,000 megawatts. Wind and solar cannot keep up with current demand—much less displace displace significant quantities of hydrocarbons.

The 60,000 megawatt capacity reduced global CO2 emissions by 2/10ths of 1 percent. To stop growth of CO2 emissions would require turbines covering a land area the size of Manhattan Island every single day.

Economist Mark Perry at AEI produced the above chart. A New York Times article “Today’s Energy Jobs Are in Solar, Not Coal,” the reporter, Nadja Popovich wrote “Last year, the solar industry employed many more Americans (373,807) than coal (160,119), while wind power topped 100,000 jobs.” Mark Perry added:

To start, despite a huge workforce of almost 400,000 solar workers (about 20 percent of electric power payrolls in 2016), that sector produced an insignificant share, less than 1 percent, of the electric power generated in the United States last year (EIA data here). And that’s a lot of solar workers: about the same as the combined number of employees working at Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Apple, Johnson & Johnson, Microsoft, Pfizer, Ford Motor Company and Procter & Gamble.

Bottom Line: The goal of America’s energy sector isn’t to create as many jobs as possible (as the NYT article would apparently have us believe) especially the politically-favored and heavily-subsidized renewable energy jobs. Rather, the economic goal is to produce as much electric power as possible at the lowest possible cost, and that means we want the fewest number of energy workers!

Here’s another good article from Master Resource—explaining why renewables cost more.

Anthony Watts reports that the NOAA Tide Gauge Data shows no coastal sea level rise acceleration. Sea level rise occurs in inches per century, not 10 and fifteen feet. If you are concerned about rising seas, you might want to read this article, If not, never mind.

Democrats Are Making a Mess of Things! by The Elephant's Child

Trump is bad at being a tyrant: Brandon Weichert,  American Greatness
The past 100 days have been a disaster-for Democrats: Mark Thiesson, Washington Post
Marches for Science vs. Actual Science: John Hinderaker, Powerline
And What is the Scientific Basis for Imposing Energy Poverty On the Masses?: Francis Menton, Manhattan Contrarian

And then there is this:  A Little Golden Book! Who thought this was a good idea? Perhaps (hopefully) it’s not real. But there are far too many things these days that one assumes blithely that are not real, and it turns out they are. Or perhaps this is the bedtime book that was read to the little progressives and snowflakes inhabiting our colleges.

Or perhaps it’s just a photoshop for a clever comment on our times. Your guess?

From Victor Davis Hanson: Fundamentalist Nihilism, American Greatness

Dr.Hanson considers three separate cases: Nihilist Environmentalism, Nihilist Immigration, and the Factories of Nihilism: Our Universities.

At some point, progressivism begins to collapse by the weight of its own internal contradictions and becomes faith-based. Future anthropologists will have a difficult time sorting out all the bizarre rituals and sacraments of this early 21st-century progressive cult.

In today’s headlines, we have three crystal clear illustrations of the phenomenon. Let’s begin first with the recent case of the four-year California drought (2011-2015)

1) President Obama, Governor Jerry Brown, and California’s legislative leadership all declared the drought to be a result of climate change. Accordingly, it would both be near permanent and demand government intervention to make radical changes in Californians’ lifestyles;

2) Yet in some 120 years of accurate record-keeping, no California drought seems to have lasted much longer than four years;

3) Not a single new reservoir, canal, or aqueduct was started during the drought, although several projects had been envisioned over a half-century earlier in the original blueprints of the state California Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project.

California has not handled the immigration thing well, to say the least. The problems are fairly clear, but the ability of progressives to deal with them is another matter entirely.

The refusal by California universities to hear speakers who might say something offensive to pearl like little ears, which then developed into riots,  is becoming almost commonplace. That is not to say it is acceptable.

A sad story of the failure of Progressivism. Means well. Doesn’t work.

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.

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