American Elephants

Nancy Pelosi Has Not Seen the Videos, but Is Quite Sure they Are Lies, Because Democrat Talking Points. by The Elephant's Child

pelosi-fist-APThe U.S. House of Representatives Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) chimed in on the debate over defunding Planned Parenthood, about as expected. And her response is really quite revealing in a way.She questioned the truthfulness of the videos that show Planned Parenthood employees discussing the harvesting and sale of fetal organs, but admitted that she had not watched any of the videos.

“I don’t stipulate that these videos are real, and the fact is that the [fetal tissue] research that is being criticized … [is] being supported,” Pelosi said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” with Jake Tapper.

“I also know that some of it is not real and you can create any reality that you want,” she said, while admitting that she has not seen the videos, and has only read news reports about them.

This is the so-called information age, but as far as I can tell, schools do not have coursework in how to manage the flow of information. How do you tell what is real? How do you check?  And how do you tell who is telling the truth?

A quick search showed that 1) only 6% rate news Media as very trustworthy, and (2) most voters still get their news from television and consider the news reported by the media trustworthy. 56% of all voters regard the news reported by the media as at least somewhat trustworthy according to Rasmussen.

Gallup said that 44% of Americans have a fair amount or a great deal of confidence in the Mass Media. 55% have not very much confidence or none at all. Note that two different sources are reporting the same news differently.

I have found that most Democrats get their news from Democratic sources, and rely on Democratic talking points to avoid delving deeper into an issue. I have been astonished at Hillary Clinton’s complete dependence on Democratic talking points for her campaign. I had assumed that someone running for the presidency with the experience of being Secretary of State and a senator would have studied long and deeply about how to improve governmental operations.

Polls in general show that Americans support the ability to have an abortion. Attacks on the callousness of Planned Parenthood are usually interpreted as attacks on omen’s right to choose. No one is questioning that right, but there are an awful lot of choices poorly made before one gets to the need for an abortion — like  a poor choice in who to go out with, how much to drink, whether to go to his apartment, and so on and on. Planned Parenthood is not a health care facility. Their business model is abortions, and there is not a single mammogram machine in the whole organization.

The question is whether taxpayers should be forced to support the operations of Planned Parenthood, if they have deep ethical objections to cutting up aborted fetuses and selling the parts. Stem cell research has largely turned to using a patient’s own stem cells. It is a crime to sell aborted baby parts for profit using federal funds.

The Federalist has publishedA Quick and Easy Guide to the Planned Parenthood Videos” The picture is of Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood chief executive, who has just testified before Congress.

Independent, Free, and Self-Directed, Or the Democrat’s Gulag? by The Elephant's Child

At Real Clear Politics (the Real Clear Policy sector) Sherzod Abdukadirov writes about “How Uncle Sam Uses Behavioral Science,” in Mr. Obama’s “executive order urging federal agencies to use behavioral science insights in designing government policies and regulations. The order argues that such insights have the potential to improve consumer welfare through better policy design.”

I wrote about this week or so ago, but I find I’m not ready to leave the subject. It’s straight out of the Marxist playbook, and you can talk about ‘nudges’ or ‘behavioral experiments’, but it’s just plain propaganda designed to make you do what the government wants you to do. No “consumer welfare” about it. If at first they don’t succeed, they will try a little harder.

The example used in Sherzod’s piece is from the Energy Department, with their “Energy Star” appliances. They boast about consumer savings which are supposed to justify the higher price of the appliances.

Unfortunately, the evidence marshaled by the agency for consumer myopia is highly dubious. For example, the latest standard for residential dishwashers promises consumers a savings of $3 over 15 years — it takes twelve years just to cover the higher up-front price — while the standard for clothes dryers delivers $14 in savings over 16 years, with the higher price covered after five years.

That DOE would declare consumers irrational for not chasing trivial, long-term savings defies common sense. And when one considers the fact that another objective for energy-efficiency regulations is to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, it becomes clear that the agency’s motivation may have less to do with improving consumer welfare and more to do with hitting its environmental goals. The use of behavioral insights in policy opens the door for agencies to impose more stringent regulations that aim to advance the administration’s agenda rather than consumer welfare.

This is why everything that the EPA does to take further control of your life and options is cloaked in preventing childhood asthma. Or the noxious twisty lightbulbs or their expensive counterparts. Consider a federal department and you can probably come up with something intended to shut down your options and force you to do something you don’t want to do. Consider ObamaCare.

The Left wants control. They don’t want you to have the option of free speech if it disagrees with them. Obama just said that you couldn’t have freedom of religion if it opposes gay marriage. The federal government will put restrictors in your shower head so you don’t use too much water. Just think of what the feds have done to make driving a car more expensive.

Conservatives talk about freedom, but perhaps that is too broad a term. What we are really talking about is autonomy: the quality or state of being independent, free, and self-directing.  It’s the capacity of a rational individual to make an informed, un-coerced decision. Take away our autonomy and welcome to the Gulag.

The Department of Energy believes that paying more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is a public good. We would suggest that the Department of Energy has not studied the science of carbon dioxide. The Department of Agriculture has ordered that we enrich factory farms by putting the corn crop in our gas tanks. Mrs. Obama has ordered that small school children eat what she tells them to, but because even little children prize their autonomy, they throw the food in the garbage.

Both Barack and Michelle Obama became lawyers. How can you study law in the United States of America and fail to understand the importance of freedom and autonomy? Did they never read the whole Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and not understand what it was about? Obama announced early on that the law was about empathy. And he has repeated that many times, emphasizing how important empathy is to him. Take another look at Dierdre McCloskey’s graph, and what personal autonomy has meant to America.

President Obama’s Legacy In 9 Simple Charts From The Federal Reserve. by The Elephant's Child

CP6eZ_CWsAAyWVe.jpg large(Click to enlarge)

Take your time, read the small print. The nine charts do not, of course cover everything. There’s still the Iran Deal, the mess in Syria, the Taliban’s success in Afghanistan, excessive regulation. It would be easy to chart another nine, and then another. But it is a start on an all too real record. Some Legacy!

A Little Good News for a Change by The Elephant's Child

green-7 by anild sud courtesy eyeTraffic in the Seattle area was impossible yesterday, due to e visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping, and aside from his entourage, there must have been hundreds of newspeople. The rest of us still have our ordinary errands, which became hours long instead of minutes. Should have stayed home.

On the East Coast they have the same problems because of the visit of the Pope. Today, a horrible traffic accident in Seattle between a tour bus and the Duck Bus  (another tourist enterprise), four people killed, forty-four taken to hospitals. It’s clearly time for some good news and Ronald Bailey at the Reason Foundation supplies it, from their latest magazine.

Paul Erlich, notorious spreader of gloom and doom, was deeply concerned with overpopulation, along with his wife biologist Anne Erlich in the March 2013 Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Not only overpopulation, but overconsumption of natural resources, but “global toxification” which has “exposed the human population to myriad subtle poisons.

Hasn’t happened, for the greening of the earth caused by the natural fertilization of plants from increased amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere means more food. Fewer people across the world are going hungry.

Most people think that the risk of dying from cancer is going up because of chemicals and pollution, but even as the number of man-made chemicals has increased, your risk of dying from cancer has been decreasing for more than 40 years. Age-adjusted rates of cancer have been dropping largely because fewer people are smoking,  more Americans are having colonoscopies, and cancers are being diagnosed and treated earlier.

The overall incidence of cancer has been falling by about 0.6 percent a year. Modern medicine has increased the five-year survival rates of cancer patients from 50 percent in the 1970s to 68 percent today. That means that in recent years about 100,000 people each year who would have died are alive today.

Although President George W. Bush has been widely criticized for the Medicare Drug program because of the program’s cost, it has saved a lot of lives by getting needed medications to seniors at prices they could afford. It is the only program that came in at less than the estimated cost because of the “donut hole” incentive that encouraged seniors to use generics when they were as effective as more expensive brand-name medicines. Democrats, who simply do not understand incentives, eliminated the incentive, so costs are higher now.

The Erlichs are still going on about overpopulation and shortage of food, but in most societies women with more education have fewer children. Given current age, sex and education trends world population will most likely peak at 9.6 billion by 2070 and then begin falling. If education levels are pursued more aggressively, would population could top out at 8.9 billion in 2060 before starting to drop. Increased economic opportunities, more education, longer lives, more liberty are all trends that reinforce each other and accelerate the trend of falling global fertility.

In 1950 the average yield in the U.S. for a acre of corn was 51 bushels which would support 5 people for a year.  Today, the yield from an acre of corn is 166 bushels that would supply enough calories to support 16 people for a year. (Since we are a rich country, we’re putting a lot of it in our gas tanks) In India the average is 42 bushels that would support 4 people and in Africa, the yield is an average 32 bushels per acre per year to feed just 3 people. With lots of room for improvement.

Much of the increase in our food supply can be attributed to advances in biotech crops.

The board of directors of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) the largest scientific organization in the United States has, on October 20, 2012 point-blank asserted that “contrary to popular misconceptions, GM crops are the most extensively tested crops ever added to our food supply. There are occasional claims that feeding GM foods to animals causes aberrations ranging from digestive disorders, to sterility tumors and premature death. Although such claims are often sensationalized and receive a great deal of media attention, none have stood up to rigorous scientific scrutiny.” The AAAS board concluded, “indeed, the science is quite clear: crop improvement by the modern molecular techniques of biotechnology is safe.”

The entire article is here, and offers some positive news for those who follow the IPPC’s version of fear about global warming as well.

We still have our worries about the economy, national security, wars and trials and tribulations, education, and the general messed-up state of humanity, but really, there is good news.

And About Socialized Medicine Like The Canadians Have by The Elephant's Child

This is a story we’ve heard before. Usually The Canadians deny it, and the Americans deny it; cross border relations, you know. But as with our VA Health Care, and the Indian Health Service, and the poor Alaska natives living on the Canadian coast who can’t get a simple road to the airport so they can fly out for live-saving care — our Secretary of the Interior denies them a road because it might disturb the birds. Government does many things poorly, and many things very badly. Bureaucracy is an enemy, and the larger it grows the more poorly it works and the worse the results.

Totally Modern Patent Medicine, Totally! by The Elephant's Child

(h/t: Bird Dog@Maggie’s Farm)

Migrants Desperately Seeking Asylum in a Europe That Is Unprepared to Cope by The Elephant's Child

Europe in enduring a massive flow of migrants, fleeing in terror from Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan, North Africa, Egypt and Libya, from the Islamic countries in Asia and the Middle East to Turkey, the Greek Islands, Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary Austria and Germany. They are coming by the thousands, and it is not clear why the sudden exodus. Europe is unprepared. Their economies are not healthy, there is unemployment, yet heartbreaking images such as this strike at the core of compassion in the West.

Certainly many are fleeing ISIS —the terrorist Islamic State — who have made it clear that anyone in their sway who does not pledge allegiance to their cause is in mortal peril. The barbarity of their executions is meant to strike terror in the minds of those who see it.  Look what we do to these people, and what will we do to you? That is the meaning of terrorism, and the purpose.

On the other hand, the preponderance of migrants seem to be young men. Fewer women, no old people; ISIS claims, supposedly, that 4,000 ISIS fighters are among the migrants.The migrants seem to be aiming for those countries with the most elaborate welfare systems. But mostly young men.

The EU has been living in a dreamworld of sorts — formerly warring nations now in agreement on perpetual peace and open borders, one big happy continent. Except that has always been so in the halls of the Union, but not so much in reality. Countries had identities and languages and histories precisely because they shared those particular things. Tribalism is not so far distant. It is, perhaps, the nature of man, and not so easily made over into something else. There has been a lot of pretense there.

The free world has been shaken by the heartbreaking image of a very small Syrian boy, drowned, washed up on a Turkish beach. We are mostly protected from unpleasant sights. Our media is sure that we are not up to facing reality. The horrors that ISIS has dreamed up for mass distribution are blurred or digitized out of recognition. Sorry, you barbarians, your horrors don’t frighten us because we’re not allowed to see them. I suspect that this is a mistake, and it’s better to face reality.

Pictures, however, are often more influential that words. As European nations struggle to decide what they will do about the influx of migrants, that little boy will be there to remind all of empathy and compassion. Some 800,000 newcomers are expected in Germany — about 1% of their population. Even Germany doesn’t have robust economic growth and will have trouble absorbing so many.

Denmark is announcing that they can’t admit any. The Hungarians are building fences. There is talk of using military power to establish safe zones in Syria to contain the exodus. The borders and the fences will return. Europe’s openness has rested on America’s strength. As Bret Stephens says, you can’t have one without the other.

If you are offended by the image, I’m sorry, but I believe our media err in their attempt to “protect” us. It’s not “protective” but just another political lie.


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