American Elephants


Can You Trust “Big Data?” Not Really, Nor Little Data Either. by The Elephant's Child

big-data-skills-in-demand-are-a-mix-of-old-and-new-v21You have a computer by which you can visit this blog. So tell me, how do you get your news? The younger Millennials seem to get theirs from Facebook and Twitter and other social sites. Democrats rely on reliably Progressive websites, and Republicans assume from that bit of information that Democrats are unfamiliar with any websites that disagree with their conclusions.

Do you depend on “name” websites that you trust because everybody else seems to list them? Do you pay attention to a lot of individual bloggers (well, you’re here, so possibly you do.) What I’m getting at is who can you believe and who do you trust? What got me off on that theme was an article from February 22 of this year about “Big Data” in the Wall Street Journal, by Michael Malone. If the link doesn’t work, Google it, and do read the comments.

I wasn’t quite sure what “Big Data” was, compared to—little Data, so I looked it up. Merriam Webster: data: 1. factual information (as measurements or statistics) used as a basis for reasoning or calculation. 2. information output by a sensing device or organ that includes both useful and irrelevant or redundant information and must be processed to be meaningful. 3. information in numerical form that can be digitally transmitted or processed. That is, perhaps, helpful, but not exactly confidence building.

Hillary Clinton’s ‘Invisible Guiding Hand‘ had a statistician behind ever strategic decision named Elan Kriegel.”To understand Kriegel’s role is to understand how Clinton has run her campaign—precise and efficient, meticulous and effective, and, yes, at times more mathematical than inspirational. Clinton advisers say almost no major decision is made…without first consulting Kriegel. ” That worked out well. But is perhaps a clue to Hillary’s uninspiring campaign.

At Maggie’s Farm, one of the group of authors had an article last year that I saved titled “Are We Overly Reliant on Data?” And his reflections on daring to ask the question.

A USAToday headline from September: The “VA quit sending performance data to national health quality site.” Saw an article today about a veteran who was unable to get the care he needed when a wound was full of maggots in a VA Hospital, and shortly died of sepsis.

From Climate Depot: “Italian meteorologist Colonel Paolo Ernan: Data manipulated to make people believe in global warming.” Well, yes.  It has long been apparent that alarm about global warming exists only in the computer programs devised to emulate the real climate of the Earth. They put into their programs what we know about climate, what we think we know, what they thought was likely and lots of pure guesswork. We know a little about El Nino and La Nina, for example, but we don’t know or understand much of anything about the actions of clouds. And if you want to know what is going to happen in 50 years, you’ll have to wait for 50 years to find out if you were right.

Holman Jenkins, writing in the Wall Street Journal at the end of August, 2014, “Big Data and Chicago’s Traffic-cam Scandal.”

Big data techniques are new in the world. It will take time to know how to feel about them and whether and how they should be legally corralled. For sheer inanity, though, there’s no beating a recent White House report quivering about the alleged menace of “digital redlining,” or the use of big-data marketing tactics in ways that supposedly disadvantage minority groups.

This alarm rests on an extravagant misunderstanding. Redlining was a crude method banks used to avoid losses in bad neighborhoods even at the cost of missing some profitable transactions—exactly the inefficiency big data is meant to improve upon. Failing to lure an eligible customer into a sale, after all, is hardly the goal of any business.

The real danger of the new technologies lies elsewhere, which the White House slightly touches upon in some of its fretting about police surveillance. The danger is microscopic regulation of our daily activities that we will invite on ourselves through the democratic process.

It seems that when you hear the term “The data tells us…” a caution flag should rise. You need to investigate a lot further. But everyone is relying on data, especially ‘big data.’ Hillary did, and is paying the price.  Her team pretty much shut Bill out. Bill certainly has some major problems with, um, integrity, but he has always had excellent political instincts. On the other hand, Hillary does not have any. But there you go, water under the bridge.

Who can you trust? Not much of anybody. Whatever it is, check it out. Governments at all levels are too ready to rely on what they are told is authoritative. We are all too dependent on our computers, but they are changing our world, and our dependence is making us more vulnerable.



Donald Trump’s New Social Contract and Industrial Policy by The Elephant's Child

Donald Trump, president and chief executive of Trump Organization Inc. and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, stands for a photograph after a Bloomberg Television interview at his campaign headquarters in Trump Tower in New York, U.S., on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015. According to Trump, Janet Yellen's decision to delay hiking interest rates is motivated by politics. Photographer: John Taggart/Bloomberg via Getty Images *** Local Capton *** Donald Trump

Editor in chief of American Thinker Thomas Lifson has two important articles today, explaining Donald Trump’s Carrier deal. There has been much angst about the jobs saved at Carrier in the wake of tax incentives from the State of Indiana, because there are still a significant number of jobs going to Mexico. We misunderstand what Trump is doing, Lifson says, and explains what the President-elect has in mind. Do read both pieces, they really are important. What Trump intends:

He has announced that, reigning globalist economic theory to the contrary notwithstanding, the United States must maintain a manufacturing sector. The shift of manufacturing to low wage countries is not a law of nature, not an inevitability, and not a path that America will take in the future. We cannot abandon the regions of our country that have devoted themselves to manufacturing.  He has not mentioned the national security dimension of such a policy, but it is obvious to all but a few theorists that you cannot maintain a strong nation if you depend on others to do your manufacturing.

The combination of information technology, robotics, new materials, and many other advances (including management advances such as lean manufacturing and continuous improvement organizational disciplines) has squeezed low value labor out of manufacturing.  Global companies that locate within their most important market are able to create serious competitive advantages over companies assembling products in low wage companies through flexibility and rapid response time.

The second of the two companion pieces is “The Key to Trump’s Carrier deal: Next-generation manufacturing.” Do read both articles. There is a lot of important insight here.

Progressives are confident of their own knowledge and expertise, and feel completely confident in their ability to issue rules and regulations (backed up with enormous penalties to make sure you understand their importance) so that you will run your business in a way that the progressives find more agreeable. When I was looking for a new car last year, I learned the extent to which automobile design and performance has been changed and controlled by the EPA’s fuel efficiency standards. More aluminum, more substitution of light things for heavy things. One dealer said the outside mirrors would go soon because of that. Some have said that higher highway fatalities are probably due to the Fuel efficiency standards.

The addition of ethanol to gasoline, deadly for small engines like lawn mowers and appliances, has been shown to accomplish nothing in the prevention of greenhouse gases, and was a deal with the corn lobby to get enough votes to pass the 1990 Clean Air Act. Useless, but a highly expensive boondoggle that affected far more things than the amount of CO2 in car exhaust.

The federal demand to show calorie numbers for fast food on signs and menus has been shown to be completely ineffective because people don’t care. They know fast food is more caloric than an ordinary meal, but they want it because it’s fast and tasty. For the industry, the costs are enormous, but federal regulators are not interested in that. Ditto the drive for a $15 minimum wage, which is simply an unemployment program for the beginning or unskilled worker. McDonalds is already committed to a nationwide program of installing computer kiosks to replace workers.

The EPA is probably the biggest offender. Their ideas about what is environmentally friendly are weak on science and heavy on agency power and control. It’s an agency of zealots, and should be abolished. That may not happen, but their power will be cut back. Myron Ebell will be a terrific advisor on the EPA and it’s overreach.



Here’s the Incoming Cabinet So Far by The Elephant's Child

Feb. 2, 2010 "Because of a predicted snowstorm, I spent the night sleeping in my office knowing how bad the roads would be the following day. Early the next morning, I walked around the White House grounds and made several photographs using a tripod so I could shoot at a slow shutter speed. Mrs. Obama liked this picture so much that she chose to use it on the official White House Christmas card." (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

Courtesy of Jim Geraghty at National Review, here’s a list of the incoming cabinet so far: It’s a pretty impressive group!

Attorney General: Senator Jeff Sessions.

Secretary of Defense: General James Mattis

Secretary of Health and Human Services:Representative Tom Price

Secretary of Transportation: Former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao

Secretary of Education: Philanthropist Betsy DeVos

Treasury Secretary: Banker Steven Mnunchin

Secretary of Commerce: Financier Wilbur Ross

Ambassador to the United Nations: Governor Nikki Haley

White House Chief of Staff: House RNC Chairman Reince Priebus

National Security Advisor: Former Defense Intelligence Agency director Michal Flynn

CIA Director: Representative Mike Pompeo.

Administrator Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services: Indiana health-policy consultant Seema Verma

Marine General James Mattis will need a waiver from Congress, as he has only been retired for three years, and the law specifies military officers must be retired for seven years. General George Marshall required such a waiver, which was promptly given, as will be the waiver for General Mattis.

Senator Kirsten Gillebrand, who replaced Hillary in the Senate, and reportedly has presidential ambitions, says she will oppose General Mattis’ appointment. I guess she will take advantage of any opportunity to get attention. You’ve probably noticed that Democrats are really having a hard time accepting the new reality.



The Continuing Saga of the Election Recount by The Elephant's Child

Jill Stein’s campaign to raise money to challenge the vote in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan is apparently going nowhere rapidly. Pennsylvania informed her that the deadline was last Monday—a week ago, not today. Wisconsin said they weren’t going to do a recount. And Michigan just finished laboriously counting the ballots from the election for the first time, and Trump won healthily.

Haven’t seen any response from Dr. Stein, but she would seem to retain her 1% in the final tally, if it’s any comfort. Sorry about that.

ADDENDUM:  When she filed her challenge to Wisconsin election results, Jill Stein assumed that the recount would be done by hand. State officials decided that counties would not be forced to do a hand recount of ballots. Officials decided a machine recount would do, unanimously. Now Stein is suing to force a hand recount. “We must recount the votes so we can build trust in our election system” she said in a statement. Since Wisconsin voting machines are not connected to the internet, hacking is unlikely.  Officials said no recount will happen until she pays the $3.5 million fee ahead of time.The Democrat Elections Commission chairman cited a 2011 hand recount that changed only 300 votes out of 1.5 million as the basis for declaring a machine recount adequate. Real drama out in the hustings. (what are ‘hustings’ anyway?) Merriam Webster: “Hustings are where babies are kissed, flesh is pressed and media events are staged.

ADDENDUM II: After the first day of Jill Stein’s vaunted recount in Michigan, joined by Hillary, Hillary has gained 1 vote. She needs only 22,000 more for the election to be tied. Stein filed a petition with Michigan’s state Board of Canvassers on Wednesday, asking for a manual recount of every vote cast in Michigan in the presidential election. She also is leading efforts to force recounts in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, claiming her goal is to “ensure the integrity and accuracy of the vote.”But not so fast! Michigan’s Republican attorney general filed a lawsuit on Friday to halt the vote recount attempt pursued in the state by Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein.

Michigan voters rejected Stein’s candidacy by massive margins but her refusal to accept that state verified result poses an expensive and risky threat to hard-working taxpayers and abuses the intent of Michigan law,” Bil Schuette said in a statement/

“We have asked the court to end the recount which Stein is pursuing in violation of Michigan laws that protect the integrity of our elections. It is inexcusable for Stein to put Michigan voters at risk of paying millions and potentially losing their voice in the Electoral College in the process”.



Who Voted For Donald Trump Anyway? by The Elephant's Child

construction-worker-hard-hatFirst it was Hillary with her sneering reference to “the Deplorables,” then others began to speak of the “uneducated white working class.” Almost sounds like the old line about “poor white trash.” So who did vote for Trump? The media has insisted that it’s people who worked in dying industries and have lost their jobs. Both Bill and Hillary actually expressed their contempt for coal miners— on the stump. The media talks about manufacturing jobs that are ending and will never come back.

On October 20, 2008, Senator Barack Obama declared “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.” President Obama set about fundamental transformation. First they transformed key institutions, shifting power from the people’s sovereignty, ignoring the Constitution and separation of powers, to a centralized administrative state, where an elite exercised executive, legislative and judicial powers without the consent of the people or their elected representatives. The progressive worldview bases its civic morality on the centrality of ascribed group identity and group consciousness, particularly race, ethnicity, and gender. Group interests get priority. Professor John Marini  writes:

The new, transformed civic morality of the progressive narrative also divides Americans between dominant or “oppressor” groups—whites, males, native-born, Christians, heterosexuals—and victim or “oppressed” groups—racial, ethnic, and linguistic minorities; women; LGBT individuals, and “undocumented” immigrants. Progressive politics doesn’t seek the national interest or the common good. Its purpose is to promote “marginalized” or “oppressed” groups against “dominant” or “oppressor” groups.

“This strategy,” Marini notes “requires the systematic mobilization of animosity.” Progressive identity politics, camouflaged under the rubric of “diversity,” is “a new kind of civil religion,” he says. Its enforcement takes the form of political correctness, carried out by the administrative state and private sector bureaucrats and activists within those institutions of a politicized civil society progressives have captured, which includes the media, universities, schools, major corporations, and even, apparently, professional athletic associations.

Global concerns come before national interests. American sovereignty should be surrendered to supranational authority, like UN treaties on the environment, children’s rights and the laws of war. Hillary promised her first 100 days would look for legislation to provide work permits for millions of border crossers and amnesty legislation. She supported all of Obama’s executive orders and plans to bypass Congress just like Obama did. Who could object to that?

Not just out-of-work uneducated working class. How about policemen who have seen their fellows gunned down by Black Lives Matter Marxists? Firemen, small businessmen whose businesses have been ruined with foolish regulation. Three of my favorite small businesses have disappeared. Hairdressers, crane operators, plumbers and electricians, landscaping contractors, builders, insurance salesmen. There are folks who found out they couldn’t keep their doctor, and the big jumps in cost for ObamaCare voided a lot of Obama promises. How about soldiers who returned from securing Iraq to see Obama waste their efforts and the efforts of their friends who did not make it back, by failing to secure the peace. Or veterans who, seeking medical help from the VA, found themselves unable to get a timely appointment or who saw friends die while on a wait list.

The list of people whose lives and occupations have been directly affected by blundering, backward, progressive ideas is long and growing, and not really accurately described by terms such as “the deplorables” or “uneducated  white working class.” The media is inclined to latch on to convenient catch-phrases, shorthand for people of whom they disapprove, add in political correctness and a goodly supply of empathy to show how caring they are, and you have our current journalism.

The media was shocked when Mr. Trump called in the leaders of the major news organizations to bawl them out for their campaign coverage.  The media executives agreed that the meeting would be off-the-record, and promptly described the event to the rest of the media. Reporters were shocked, but the people cheered. The underlying assumption from progressives and pundits was that “Trump’s voters were angry because the government was not doing enough for them, not that it was doing too much to them.” Big difference and big and important lack of understanding.

So the progressives continue to indulge their fury that Hillary, for whom they may or may not have voted, didn’t win and Trump did. Democrats are attacking Electoral College electors who are not committed by law — with death threats. Jill Stein, who attracted a teeny percentage of the vote, is attempting to lead a demand for a recount, though why she would have standing is a question.

The Left has frequently behaved badly when they have lost elections, but this year they seem to have exceeded all bounds. Democrats haven’t behaved this badly since Republicans told them they couldn’t own slaves any more.



A Look at the Real American Crisis! by The Elephant's Child

screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-8-49-06-pm-600x463The picture in the post below of the young man holding a homemade sign saying “DEPORT FASHISOM!” was pretty typical. He probably has no idea what fascism is. One of the biggest problems of the Left is that they believe their own propaganda.

Lots of very big words flung around: populism, illiberalism, misogyny, historicism, positivism and of course, the inevitable and constant “racism,” that offer nothing in the way of understanding. John Marini offered some real understanding in the Claremont Review of Books. The piece is long, and I had to look up the big words, but it’s worth your time and provides real food for thought.

Since the end of the Cold War, American leaders have understood their offices in terms of global and administrative rule, rather than political rule on behalf of the American people and the sovereignty of the American nation. Yet those offices were established on the foundation of the moral authority of the people and their Constitution. Once elected or appointed, politicians and bureaucrats have utilized their will, in both domestic and foreign policy, in an unrestrained manner on behalf of bureaucratic rule. They govern on the implicit premise of elections as plebiscites, but it is no longer clear who confers the legitimacy of an electoral mandate. Bureaucratic rule has become so pervasive that it is no longer clear that government is legitimized by the consent of the governed. Rather it is the consent of the various national—and often international—social, economic, political, and cultural interest groups that determine the outcome of elections. True political rule requires, at a minimum, the participation of citizens in their own rule, even if not in government itself. But this is possible only when people understand themselves as citizens and when the regime recognizes them as citizens. This requires distinguishing American citizens from all others and identifying them as one people.

American elections have increasingly been framed by Washington professionals. Social scientists, media pundits, and policy professionals may tilt liberal or conservative and may differ in their party preferences, but they are united in their dependence upon intellectual authority, derived from empirical science and its methodology, in their understanding of politics and economics. At the same time, historicism or (critical theory) has established itself as the closest thing to a public philosophy when it comes to understanding history, society, and culture. Applied to elections, the empirical method required that politics be understood in terms of measurable and quantifiable aggregates. This proved compatible with the positivist understanding of law and interest group liberalism. Critical post-modern theory established personal autonomy and group diversity as central to what is morally defensible in terms of public policy. As a result, political partisanship and analysis has focused on race, class, gender, and other such demographics, to provide the kind of information that has become central to the shaping and predicting of elections and to legitimize dividing the electorate into categories that came to be understood in moral terms. Consequently, political campaigns have made a science of dividing the electorate into groups and reassembling them as voting blocs committed to specific policies and issues denominated by the demographic categories themselves. This strategy requires the systematic mobilization of animosity to ensure participation by identifying and magnifying what it is that must be opposed.

Do read the whole thing. Mr. Trump has brought in a great assortment of free market experts for advice as he works on filling out his cabinet and advisory team.

Here’s an astonishing fact about the expansion of the administrative state. President Jimmy Carter’s National Security Council numbered 25 people. Barack Obama’s National Security Council is over 400 people.



“It’s a Republic If You Can Keep It” by The Elephant's Child

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elephant-sized-770x415xtThe pollsters and ballot analysts have a lot to answer for. To accomplish their ends, they separate the American people into a wide variety of pigeonholes—the working class, college-educated women, the rich, illegal immigrants, felons, residents of the inner-cities, millennials, aging baby-boomers. As if separating people into groups tells you, not just how people will vote, but who they are and what their issues are. Because those labels are broadcast over and over, there is the assumption that some important knowledge about the people has been portrayed. Not so.

People are individuals, and human nature doesn’t fit nicely into slots. The Left’s constant drive is for “diversity”which is their bow to people of different races. The Media latches on to convenient tags, without giving much thought to whether or not the tags actually fit anything. Human beings are tribal, it’s how we are made. We form little tribes of those who share the same interests and ideas, and we may belong to several distinct and different tribes. The Left rejects that idea, and wants to realign us into groups and neighborhoods that conform more closely to their ideas of what is proper. Colleges put in all sorts of affirmative action programs, try to reorganize people into more correct groups, and then cannot understand why all the black students sit at the same table in the student union.  It is not, by the way, racism.

The Left always claims that Republicans collectively and individually are “Racist.”Anyone with the slightest smattering of history knows this to be absurd, but apparently far too many Americans have little historic knowledge.

College educated women were going for Hillary in a big way, we were told. I’m a college educated woman, and I certainly felt no compulsion to vote for Hillary Clinton, nor did any of my friends who are also college educated women. We’re pretty well informed as to what Hillary has been up to for the past 30 years, and reject her categorically as being unqualified for the job.

There’s a big difference between being anti illegal immigration, and being anti-immigration. We welcome immigrants but want them to apply and get in line. It’s hardly fair for those who have applied and have been on the waiting list for years, when the president forbids the Border Patrol from preventing anyone from crossing the border, and invites state officials to register them to vote.

Why should anyone be angry? Isn’t the jobs report improving all the time? 14.8 million  private sector jobs have been created since February 2010.  Obama brags about that. But the population grew by 16.4 million. Labor force participation ticked upward at 62.7%, but when the recession ended in June 2009 — 65.7 % of the adult population was in the labor force. Some improvement!

There are 94,539 people not in the labor force as of October 2016,who have looked for a job in the past 12 months, but have more or less given up.

Here’s a study from last year. Employees of the federal government earn far more than their counterparts in the private sector, according to a study by the Cato Institute.

The study found that federal government workers earned an average of $84,153 in 2014 compared to the private sector’s average of $56, 350. Cato based its findings on figures from the U  S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. (BEA)

But when adding in benefits pay for federal workers, the difference becomes more dramatic. Federal employees made $119,934 in total compensation last year, while private sector workers earned $67,246, a difference of over $52,000, or 78 percent.

Add to that a link to a program from UC San Diego that is a guide to U.S. Government Acronyms and Abbreviations. Click on a letter, any letter. Yes, that is how bloated our federal government has become. Not quite what the founders envisioned.

There is talk of bigotry, nationalism, globalism, misogyny, and populism among other epithets flung around. But they are missing the point entirely. I may have voted against Hillary. Others voted against political correctness, many more at the eight-year long recession that just never seemed to recover. The labels don’t even begin to cover it. The media too often forgets that the convenient labels they find so useful in meeting a deadline— sway opinion, damage real people with real concerns. We are real people out here. The newly elected president is an ordinary flawed human being, as is the current president. They will make mistakes, they always do.

It remains a Republic, if we can keep it.




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