American Elephants


The Standoff At the Bundy Ranch Ends— For Now. by The Elephant's Child

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The Standoff at the O.K. Corral Bundy Ranch is standing off. The overarmed and overaggressive Bureau of Land Management has announced that because of the risk of violence, it is withdrawing its forces, some 200 armed agents, including snipers and guard dogs. The county sheriff negotiated the settlement.

It’s not at all clear what this was all about. The family settled in the area in the late 1800s and has ranched in the area ever since. The federal government has allowed Nevada ranchers to graze their cattle on tracts of adjacent public lands for generations. The federal government later created the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to administer and “protect” the vast “federal lands”* including the land the Bundy family’s livelihood is and was dependent upon.

*These lands are frequently called “federal land.” This is inaccurate. They are public lands, owned by the people, and the government supposedly “manages” them for the American people. I don’t think anyone has challenged this frequently used terminology in court, but they should.

I don’t know about you, but I have a real objection to all these armed forces, SWAT teams, and snipers attached to agencies of the government. The Coast Guard, Border Patrol (we read that they were reduced to firing beanbags), and ICE,need to be armed, but this is really going too far. The federal agency did quite a few dumb things. It tasered Cliven Bundy’s son Ammon, rounded up a bunch of the Bundy cattle, and then fenced off a “First Amendment Area” in the middle of nowhere to demonstrate the protection of an “endangered” desert tortoise.

The federal government told the Bundy family that a tortoise existed on the land and therefore the land’s usage for cattle would have to decrease — attacking the Bundy family livelihood, which has led to a 20-year legal battle.The legal battle would seem to have gone against the Bundy family, but the Bundy family can in fact claim to have enjoyed generations of grazing rights on public land — with an arrangement originating in the 1870s when ranchers were offered those rights an enticement for settling the West.

I have no knowledge of the legal aspects of the case, and I suspect that you can’t fight city hall or the federal government. I am deeply suspicious of any claim of “endangered species,” because those so designated usually aren’t actually endangered, and are only used as a tool to accomplish some other purpose. I don’t believe that the Endangered Species Act has ever “saved” a species. The problem is often a simple increase in the number of predators.

Breitbart has done a fine job of outlining the case, the rumors, the law, and the problems involved. I would suggest that the American people are troubled by our imperialistic government and the increased militarization of so many federal agencies who have no business with SWAT teams and armed attacks on ordinary citizens. The Bureau of Land Management brought the angry resistance on themselves, with overreaction.



Progressives Don’t Really Believe Anything They Say! by The Elephant's Child

Surfing the internet, it is clear that the Obama era is a particularly frustrating period for the Right. Simply trying to understand what the Left is going on about is puzzling, and each passing year reveals the difficulty of defeating those who hold no inviolable positions or beliefs. Above all, what they say they believe has no relation to their own lives. All is fluid, depending on who is about to vote, and for what. Jim Geraghty tackles the Progressive Aristocracy which notes:

[P]rogressives wide-ranging willingness to contradict their own professed principles: gun-control proponents who travel with armed bodyguards, voucher opponents who send their kids to private schools, and minimum-wage-hike advocates who pay their staff less than the minimum wage, among others.

So what do progressives really want? If, as I suspect, the currency of progressivism isn’t policies or results, but emotions, what does that approach build? What kind of a country do you get when political leaders are driven by a desire to feel that they are more enlightened, noble, tolerant, wise, sensitive, conscious, and smart than most other people?

The evidence before us suggests progressives’ ideal society would be one where they enjoy great power to regulate the lives of others and impose restrictions and limitations they themselves would never accept in their own lives. Very few people object to an aristocracy with special rights and privileges as long as they’re in it.

President Obama had a staffer sign  him up for ObamaCare at the DC exchange in symbolic unity with ordinary Americans, but the president’s health care will continue to be provided by the military at Walter Reed, by the White House physician, and by the physician who travels with the president’s extensive entourage when he travels.

Remember when Obama envisioned a future in which Americans would sacrifice their comfort to the need for combating climate change: “We can’t drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times …and then just expect that other countries are going to say ‘okay.’” In the White House, Obama cranks up the thermostat. David Axlerod said: “He’s from Hawaii, OK? He likes it warm. You could grow orchids in there.”

“While touting green technology and lobbying the federal government on environmental policy, Sergey Brin, Larry Page, and Eric Schmidt have put 3.4 million miles on their private jets in recent years, polluting the atmosphere with 100 million pounds of carbon dioxide,” the Blaze reported. Geraghty again:

The party that spent the Bush years screaming about the “Imperial Presidency” overwhelmingly decides that the legislative branch is an unnecessary obstacle to setting its preferred environmental policy. We’ve reached the point where vehemently anti-Bush Democrats in Congress now write-up executive orders for President Obama to implement unilaterally.

The legislative branch matters, until it doesn’t. The filibuster matters, until it doesn’t. Yesterday’s positions get dropped if they interfere with today’s needs. The Right is dealing with extremely adaptive foes who, for the most part, have no hesitation about lying to get what they want.

In the Obama-era Left, a promise repeatedly emphasized with passion and vehemence can and will be suddenly dismissed with a shrug. The highest-profile example of this is “If you like your plan,  you can keep it.” Even today, long after the promise has been declared the “Lie of the Year,” the White House website has a page labeled “Reality Check” that proclaims the accuracy of the pledge:



The Environmental Themes of Aronofsky’s “Noah” by The Elephant's Child

I have not seen Noah, nor do I intend to. Saw the trailers, and Noah as an environmentalist and vegetarian with really bad dialogue left me thinking there were better ways to spend my time.

This summary of, um, “creative interpretation or heretical imagination” — or Noah’s top five environmental intrusions into the biblical textual account convinced me that, much as I like Russell Crowe, I would pass on this one.

The environmental notions of the movie show the extent of the culture wars.

  1. Man’s primary sin is that of destroying the environment.
  2. God prefers animals to humans.
  3. Man is an unwelcome intrusion on the environment.
  4. Taking dominion over the earth means ravaging it.
  5. Man’s task is to reduce his environmental footprint.

The explanations of each theme are here. The author says:

Aronofsky himself sees the movie as an environmentalist sermon of sorts, with anthropogenic global warming as our latest evil to combat. “The water is rising, and we already saw it once,” he commented to CNN on the supposed climate effects predicted by the United Nations. “We are living the second chance that was given to Noah.”

Sounds like a religion to me. The culture wars are getting exceedingly strange.



The Age of Global Warming Is Over: Sanity Returns. by The Elephant's Child

Mankind cannot predict the future. We attempt it constantly. Prediction has become a profession of sorts, with strategists, planners, futurists—and governmental agencies. We’re not always successful with our plans for tomorrow, which should teach us something about prediction, but hope springs eternal.

The IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change, is a prime example. Weather forecasters can predict the future pretty well for the rest of the week, but the IPCC attempts to do a “gigantic weather forecast for a century or more.”And they know that because they have computer programs the tell them so. The total absurdity of such predictions is clearly expressed by Christopher Booker in The  Telegraph:

When future generations come to look back on the alarm over global warming that seized the world towards the end of the 20th century, much will puzzle them as to how such a scare could have arisen. They will wonder why there was such a panic over a 0.4 per cent rise in global temperatures between 1975 and 1998, when similar rises between 1860 and 1880 and 1910 and 1940 had given no cause for concern. They will see these modest rises as just part of a general warming that began at the start of the 19th century, as the world emerged from the Little Ice Age, when the Earth had grown cooler for 400 years.

That’s four-tenths of one percent! And the panic over that 0.4 percent of warming has become a religion, with ardent true believers who want to send “denialists” to prison. That 0.4 percent has drawn forth massive government investment in low-flush toilets, banning lightbulbs, massive wind farms, solar arrays, electric cars, ethanol, biofuels, and pages and pages of regulations. The stage of the panic can be partly measured by the list of things caused by global warming. The amount of money misapplied to preventing global warming, with no visible result, is immeasurable. The totals would be humiliating, and we will probably never know. Wasted. Completely wasted.

Also in The Telegraph, Charles Moore reviews The Age of Global Warming by Rupert Darwall.

The theory of global warming is a gigantic weather forecast for a century or more. However interesting the scientific inquiries involved, therefore, it can have almost no value as a prediction. Yet it is as a prediction that global warming (or, as we are now ordered to call it in the face of a stubbornly parky 21st century, “global weirding”) has captured the political and bureaucratic elites. All the action plans, taxes, green levies, protocols and carbon-emitting flights to massive summit meetings, after all, are not because of what its supporters call “The Science”. Proper science studies what is – which is, in principle, knowable – and is consequently very cautious about the future – which isn’t. No, they are the result of a belief that something big and bad is going to hit us one of these days.

James Delingpole, another Brit, reports on the latest Climate Change Reconsidered report by the NIPCC — the Non-Governmental International Panel on Climate Change, an independent research body funded by the Heartland Institute:

The latest verdict is in on ‘climate change’— and the news is good. The planet is greening, the oceans are blooming, food production is up, animals are thriving and humans are doing better than ever; and all thanks to CO2 and global warming.

Mr. Delingpole summarizes the work of the NIPCC, and the scientific studies which support it. Nice to have a concise summary of where we stand. And the scientists and  ordinary people who disagree with the true believers are not “deniers,” they are skeptics— skeptical that humans are causing a disruption in the climate of the earth, skeptical that computer programs based on a superficial understanding of climate and a lot of sheer guesses can predict the climate 50 to 100 years out, and very skeptical that we should be spending billions to attempt to change the climate.

Do read all three pieces. They’re not long, and they give a good picture of the real world of climate change.

 



EPA Subjects Human Victims to Lethal Pollutants, Doesn’t Warn of Risks! by The Elephant's Child

McCarthy testifies before a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on her nomination to be administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency

The Environmental Protection Agency has for years been basing their actions on the need to protect human beings from dangerous air pollutants and fine particulate matter (PM). The findings of the Office of Inspector General’s March 31 report say the EPA has followed all laws and regulations concerning human studies research.

While the IG’s report absolves the agency of breaking rules, it notes that the EPA did in fact expose human test subjects to concentrated airborne particles or diesel exhaust emissions in five studies done in 2012 and 2011. And it didn’t bother to plainly inform the subjects of the dangers the agency emphasizes in the proposals for their actions. When the EPA tells Congress about a proposed action, they can tell you exactly how many kids will die from asthma, and how many old folks will die from heart attacks. That’s how they get their way. What congressman could risk refusing to save dying kids?

The agency has said that fine particulate matter can cause premature death, a risk for older individuals with cardiovascular disease. A 2003 EPA document says even short-term exposure to PM can result in heart attacks and arrhythmias for people with heart disease. Long-term exposure can result in reduced lung function and even death. A 2006 review by the EPA reiterates that short-term PM exposure can cause “mortality and morbidity.”

“Particulate matter causes premature death. It doesn’t make you sick. It’s directly causal to dying sooner than you should,” former EPA administrator Lisa Jackson told Congress on September 22, 2011. “If we could reduce particulate matter to healthy levels it would have the same impact as find ing a cure for cancer in our county.”

So why has the EPA been subjecting unknowing human guinea pigs to high levels of carcinogens and potentially lethal pollutants in order to justify tough new air quality standards?  The EPA has been carrying out these unethical human experiments in which subjects are made to inhale freshly pumped-in diesel truck exhaust fumes — without advising them of the risk to their health — which the EPA claims may be mortal. Junk Science.com, October 5, 2012:

EPA has admitted to a federal court that it asks human guinea pigs to sacrifice their lives for regulatory purposes — at $12 per hour.

  • Failure to provide/obtain written consent. The Common Rule, as codified in federal regulation 40 CFR 26.117, specifically requires that written informed consent be obtained when risk of serious injury or death is involved in an experiment. As the consent form provided by EPA makes no mention of the risk of death, written consent acknowledging that they are willing sacrifice themselves for EPA regulatory purposes is not obtained.

EPA administrator Gina McCarthy sounds much like her boss. She doesn’t know anything about that, all studies are of the highest quality, etc. etc. etc.

Steven Milloy, founder and proprietor of JunkScience.com, which attempts to inject real science into phony government claims, has impeccable credentials. He writes that the “EPA air pollution scare is debunked by the best data set ever assembled on particulate matter and deaths.” In a subsequent column he explains just what the rules are on different kinds of studies.

Every time the EPA introduces a new policy that results in another power grab, the need for the power grab is couched in terms of how many kids are going to die from asthma, although doctors don’t even know what causes asthma. I find that suspicious. Yet with all the dead kids off there in the not distant future, the EPA is involving kids in their experiments without informing them or their parents of what the EPA believes to be their expected demise. They are deliberately exposing kids with asthma to what they regard as dangerous levels of toxic pollutants— which they then try to cover up. How do they get volunteers? Breitbart dug up some examples.

I am convinced that the EPA is an organization of environmental zealots solely interested in their own power. I have been writing about them for years, and I think the agency should be shut down and permanently shuttered. They exist only because of the bogus environmental scares fostered by the U.N.’s IPCC for political reasons, not scientific ones.

If fine particulate matter is not dangerous to human health, the EPA needs to stop using it to justify its power grabs. If it is dangerous the EPA has no business conducting tests on human subjects. And not to fully inform the poor guinea pigs of the dangers of the tests is beyond despicable.



Slash the Budget of the Department of Agriculture! by The Elephant's Child

Just briefly looking around the USDA website convinced me that the Department of Agriculture has way too many bureaucrats employed, and their conception of what they should be doing is way too broad. I have never known anyone who has paid the slightest attention to the USDA’s guidelines as to just what we should be eating, which is just as well because they have mostly been wrong anyway.

The schools, unfortunately, have to pay attention because they get funding, but anyone who has ever visited a school lunchroom notices that enormous quantities of food end up in the garbage. The kids have mostly hated Michelle Obama’s school lunch program. The USDA’s high carb diet was all wrong, butter is fine, they’re still trying to reduce “greenhouse gas emissions” although carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is what makes plants grow, and apparently, according to the EPA, soon their mission will be to reduce cow flatulence.

The federal Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee is currently working on updating nutritional guidelines to conform with Mrs. Obama’s ideas and new scientific evidence. Mrs. Obama has been behind the drastically altered school lunch menus and the federal push to change restaurants’ most popular items to healthier fare and add calorie counts to every menu. She also has a new nutritional food labeling scheme.

One of the committee members, Miriam Nelson,  feels the guidelines shouldn’t be confined to nutrition, but should include the long-term sustainability and environmental impact of crops recommended for eating.  Another committee member is pushing a “plant-based diet” — suggesting that meat eating is not sustainable.

Another new idea under consideration are federal phone texts to obese citizens warning them regularly of their unhealthy eating behavior.

I pay no attention to the “my plate” guidelines, and I’m sure you don’t either, but the work of this committee guides the food purchases by the feds for government cafeterias, school meals across the country, all branches of the U.S. military and the entire federal prison system.

Michelle has insisted that the White House chef change from sugar to fruit purees to sweeten foods, but the White House consumes six different kinds of pie for Thanksgiving, The state dinner for the president of France came in at 2,500 calories per plate — a more-than-healthy whole day’s allowance. Remember that when you get your text-message from the government telling you what to eat, and reminding you that you are officially categorized as obese.



Six Years Into the “Recovery” And There Still Aren’t Any Jobs. by The Elephant's Child

President Barack Obama’s approval rates are at record lows. Only 26 percent approve of ObamaCare, and Democrats running for re-election have been trying to disassociate themselves from the law as much as possible.

They need a new agenda, and think they have discovered it in rising inequality. Obama has laid out an array of populist proposals: more unemployment insurance, raising the federal minimum wage, giving women “equal pay for equal work”, a perennial favorite already in the law, ignored in the White House—where female staffers are not paid as well as male staffers.

The theory is that Republicans who are vulnerable at the polls can be forced to join them on  these poll-tested issues. It’s good old class warfare, always a winner in desperate situations. But this time it doesn’t seem to be working. People want jobs, not another handout. We are six years into an Obama “recovery” and people still need extensions on their unemployment insurance.

Obama has curiously mastered the art of killing more jobs with every attempt to increase employment. He promotes a national group of manufacturing hubs, as an excellent way to create jobs, but none have gotten off the ground, in spite of taxpayer money invested. At the same time, the EPA continues to shut down coal-fired power stations—killing thousands of jobs.

Vice President Joe Biden did the weekly address while Obama was in Brussels, and began by stating:

There’s no reason in the world why an American working 40 hours a week has to live in poverty. But right now a worker earning the federal minimum wage makes about $14,500 a year. And you all know that’s incredibly hard for an individual to live on, let alone raise a family on.

The minimum wage is a “starter wage” for those who have no skills to offer an employer, but have to learn how to work. The federal poverty level for an individual is $11,670, and someone earning the current federal minimum wage earns more than the federal poverty level. Biden added:

The big difference between giving a raise in the minimum wage instead of a tax break to the very wealthy is the minimum wage worker will go out and spend every penny of it because they’re living on the edge. They’ll spend it in the local economy. They need it to pay their electric bill, put gas in their automobile, to buy fundamental necessities. And this generates economic growth in their communities.

So give money to the poor, vilify the wealthy, because the poor paying their electric bill will stimulate the economy, but the rich building businesses and hiring more workers will not.  There’s the reason why we are in the sixth year of the Obama “recovery” spelled out. Add hundreds of regulations that increase the cost of building businesses and hiring workers, demonstrate with improper use of the IRS that businesses that do not toe the line will be audited, inspected by the ATF, perhaps raided by a SWAT team, and your business practices or your inventory confiscated by the Justice department.

There are enormous numbers of jobs waiting for the president to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, to O.K. the export of liquified natural gas to a needy Europe, and the EPA continues its path of destruction through the entire American economy, and nobody is supposed to notice that they not only kill jobs, but make companies reluctant to take the risk of expanding or hiring.

Kim Strassel, writing in the Wall Street Journal notes that:

Democrats have also become embarrassingly obvious, talking openly of how this agenda was devised not to help Americans, but to punish Republicans and rally the base. The New York Times’s Wednesday headline baldly read, “Democrats, As Part of Midterm Strategy, to Schedule Votes on Pocketbook Issues,” and quoted Sen. Chuck Schumer promising the vote would “mute” complaints about ObamaCare. Subtle, dudes. …

Democrats aren’t backing off; they are all-in for inequality, and they’re betting that a few more dedicated weeks of hammering Republicans as callous will force some movement. Maybe. But for now Americans seem unconvinced that any of their top concerns—a stalled economy, their health-care woes, the U.S.’s humiliation abroad, government dysfunction, soaring debt—are the result of “inequality.” Their president is talking past them.



A Rescued Florida Panther Kitten by The Elephant's Child

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This Florida Panther kitten was rescued on the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge after January’s record cold snap. Biologists from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission discovered the kitten with a dangerously low body temperature, non-responsive and way too young to be separated from his mother. They transported the kitten to the Animal Specialty Hospital of Florida in Naples. Raised by people, he can’t be released to the wild. Once he’s old enough he’ll go to the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park.

Except for small numbers in Florida, the Florida panther, a subspecies of cougar, is extinct or rare in the Eastern United States. Puma concolor

It is the biggest of the small cats, and more closely related to our own pet cats and cheetahs of Africa. Where I grew up, we called them cougars. I never saw one in the wild, though I heard one scream several times. That is something else; “mountain screamer” doesn’t capture the sound. Sounds like a woman screaming in the most terrible agony you can imagine. Here’s a handsome grown-up. They are solitary animals, and occupy a large territory.  (from zooborns.com) a favorite website.mountain-lion

 



Forecasting the Climate: Maybe Not So Bad After All. by The Elephant's Child

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will soon publish the second part of its latest report on the likely impact of climate change. It will reportedly be less frightening than last time around in 2007.

Contrary to media opinion, the real debate has never been between “deniers” and the rest, but between those who think warming is fairly harmless and those who think the future is alarming.

Matt Ridley writes in the Wall Street Journal that a small amount of warming over a long period will probably be a good thing. People can adapt. Satellites have recorded roughly a 14% increase in greenery on the planet over the past 30 years, in all ecosystems.

And if renewable energy had proved by now to be cheap, clean and thrifty in its use of land, then we would be right to address that small risk of a large catastrophe by rushing to replace fossil fuels with first-generation wind, solar and bioenergy. But since these forms of energy have proved expensive, environmentally damaging and land-hungry, it appears that in our efforts to combat warming we may have been taking the economic equivalent of chemotherapy for a cold.

Almost every global environmental scare of the past half century proved exaggerated including the population “bomb,” pesticides, acid rain, the ozone hole, falling sperm counts, genetically engineered crops and killer bees. In every case, institutional scientists gained a lot of funding from the scare and then quietly converged on the view that the problem was much more moderate than the extreme voices had argued. Global warming is no different.

 



March Afternoon, Unbearable Ennui by The Elephant's Child

All About the Little Red Hen by The Elephant's Child

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The Ruling Class is sure they are smarter than the rest of us, and know more about how the world should operate. They find the rest of us a little scary, and believe we need to be directed to do that which will comport with their vision of an improved country. We need to be regulated.

The rest of us are increasingly chafing under the regulation. The more liberal the venue, the more really nice things they want to do to improve things. A case in point is the State of California. Six states—Missouri, Alabama. Iowa, Oklahoma, Kentucky and Nebraska—sued California in federal court last month.

The controversy is all about eggs, or more precisely, about the hens.

California passed a ballot initiative, Proposition 2, in 2008 which mandated that by 2015 all California egg producers must shift to larger cages or “cage-free” housing for its chickens. The Humane Society of the U.S. funded the initiative to the tune of $4.1 million. Anne Wojcicki, wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin, shelled out $100,000 for the initiative. Hedge-fund billionaire and green activist Tom Steyer gave $25,000. In typical liberal fashion, proponents were unaware of the economics and the unintended consequences, but full of   concern for being kind to the chickens.

The costs would be deadly. One 2008 analysis by researchers at the University of California-Davis determined that the changes would bankrupt the state’s then $337 million egg industry. The researchers expected the initiative to raise production costs for California producers by 20%. If the proposal were adopted nationwide, consumers would pay 25% more for eggs “and perhaps much more,” according to the report.

The California legislature in Sacramento decreed in 2010 that no out-of-state business could sell eggs in California unless the hens were raised in bigger cages, or cage free. The motive was purely protectionist to insure that in-state producers were not disadvantaged. A U.S. congressman said if “you can put small cages in Nevada, right across the border and our state can’t prohibit  it, than that’s a problem for us.”

The law is aimed at discriminating against out-of-state businesses by raising their costs. One need go no further than the California Assembly’s own admission for proof. Second, courts do not allow states to regulate interstate commerce if the public safety claim is “illusory”—which it is.

The Law’s defenders allege that hens in current cages are more likely to carry Salmonella to suggest that conventional cages are unsafe. Studies in the journal Poultry Science by the USDA said no differences in frequency of egg contamination were found. Another study in the journal Avian Diseases by USDA and University of Georgia found that among egg-laying hens, the caged housing system provide the lowest horizontal transmission level. The European Union’s animal rights radicals banned hen cages in 2012 led to supply shortages and price shocks. French farmers dumped their eggs in the streets.

The array of eggs in my grocery store offers, beyond the standard white eggs from White Leghorn hens, “cage-free eggs,” organic eggs, extra-large eggs, and my favorite brown eggs from Rhode Island Red hens. It also features a sign warning of a nationwide shortage of some kinds of eggs. I get testy when they’re out of brown.

How nice do you want to be to the chickens? We have coyotes, raccoons, possums. Do you just want the chickens in big cages or cage free? And if cage-free do you mind if the varmints eat the hens? Do you want to become a vegetarian in protest, or are you not all that fond of your vegetables?



An Unusual London Bus Shelter by The Elephant's Child

Pepsi Max surprised London commuters with a very unusual bus shelter. This is brilliant advertising. Memorable, startling, fun, and people who experienced it will talk about it all day, and tell all their friends. What more could a creative director ask?




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