American Elephants

QQQ: Thought for the Day by The Elephant's Child

Historians inescapably both write with the benefit of hindsight and shape the stories they tell. So history always appears much tidier and more dramatic to the reader than the events depicted seemed to those who lived through them day by day. Human beings have to live with a future that is always unknown while enveloped in the fog of mere existence that can be as hard to penetrate as the far better recognized fog of war.

 …………………………………………………………………John Steele Gordon
…………………………………………………………………An Empire of Wealth



California’s Sanctuary Laws Are Unconstitutional by The Elephant's Child

California’s Governor Jerry Brown ran for the nearest microphone to shriek that the Trump administration “is basically going to war against the state of California.” Attorney General Jeff Sessions filed a lawsuit Tuesday against California’s sanctuary state laws. There are three in particular: The Immigrant Worker Protection Act (HB 450); the Inspection and Review of Facilities Housing Federal Detainees law (AB 103); and the California Values Act (SB54). The Trump administration argues that the California laws are unconstitutional under the Supremacy Clause, which states that federal law “shall be the supreme Law of the Land.” The laws prevent corporations and prisons from cooperating with federal authorities.

Governor Jerry Brown tweeted, “At a time of unprecedented political turmoil, Jeff Sessions has come to California to further divide and polarize America. Jeff, these political stunts may be the norm in Washington, but they don’t work here. SAD!!!”

A Survey USA/KPIX poll conducted last week after Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf warned illegal immigrants last week about potential ICE raids. ICE detained more than 200 illegals last week, but a potential 800 illegals, many of whom are criminals escaped. The poll found that 61% in the San Francisco Bay Area — including 65% of whites, 61% Blacks, 59% Hispanics and 53% of Asians — believe local police should help federal authorities detain illegal immigrants. This is not surprising.

Democrats are anxious to increase the numbers of immigrants, particularly Hispanics, because they are apt to vote Democrat as they usually choose a government that offers more services. The American people clearly want the numbers of illegal immigrants cut back sharply. The Democrats are still calling them “undocumented” rather than “illegal” which is telling. And trying to deny the crimes committed.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions flew to California this morning to meet with the California Peace Officers Association, a group that has opposed the State’s sanctuary stance consistently. They have to deal with the criminals. Sessions said:

There is no nullification. There is no secession. Federal law is ‘the supreme law of the land.’  I invite any doubters to Gettysburg, and to the graves of John C. Calhoun and Abraham Lincoln.

California may top the list of badly managed states. The U-Haul measurement shows a steady outflow of people and businesses. Jerry Brown’s high-speed train to nowhere continues to bankrupt the state, the wildfires this last year that devastated the state were unnecessary because of failure to remove dry undergrowth, water problems led to the Oroville Dam disaster and also to the water needs of the great Central Valley which was the breadbasket of the country. San Francisco streets are filled with human feces and homeless. Los Angeles has tried to tackle the removal of a city of homeless camped along the Los Angeles river. But as long as Silicon Valley is happy, the rest of the state can go hang. The freeways are filled with potholes, I am told. I lived in California for too many years and loathe the state. But many like the weather and the beaches. Jerry Brown huffed:

This is really unprecedented for the chief law enforcement officer of the United States to come out to California and act more like Fox News than a law enforcement officer. This is a political stunt,” Brown said. “We know the Trump administration is full of liars. They’ve pled guilty already to the special counsel.”

“This is basically going to war against the state of California, the engine of the American economy. It’s not wise, it’s not right, and it will not stand,” Brown said.

Here’s the Supremacy Clause — Article VI, second clause:

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

Carbon Dioxide, CO2, Is Not Carbon by The Elephant's Child

“The fear of carbon dioxide is largely based on long range forecasts from inadequately-tested climate models that greatly overestimate the short-term temperature change that is occurring in the atmosphere, where the greenhouse effect occurs, also influenced by natural variation. The fear of carbon dioxide is promoted by relatively few scientists, and a great number of supporters. Government policies based on such fears are draining the vitality of our society, which has long been marked by constant striving for improvement, for a better future. TWTW (The Week That Was) will continue to address the fear of carbon dioxide and its associated fears. It will emphasize the benefits of increased carbon dioxide and what little warming it may cause.”

…………………………………………..Science and Environmental Policy Project
………………………………………………………………..Ken Haapala, President

“Climate” Is A Tool For Getting Rid of Capitalism by The Elephant's Child


Susan Crockford, who may be the world’s greatest expert on polar bears, has released the State of the Polar Bear Report for 2017Bad news for the belief in climate doom. The polar bears are doing just fine. Their numbers are stable or have risen slightly since 2005. The predicted 67% decline in polar bear numbers just didn’t happen. Prey were plentiful. There was adequate sea ice in spring and early summer. The only place where polar bear numbers were drastically declining were in computer models based on flawed assumptions.

A new study published in the prestigious journal Nature finds that the global warming doomsday scenarios are not credible. The study finds that if CO2 in the atmosphere doubled, global temperatures would climb at most by 2.4 degrees Celsius, far below what the UN has been claiming for decades— that temperatures would rise by 4.5 degrees or possibly up to 6 degrees. This means that the planet is not as sensitive to changes in CO2 levels as they thought. The projected temperatures were just too high.  The computer models used to project future warming were grossly exaggerating the impact of CO2, as the planet has just not been warming as much as the models claimed it should.

But why were Leftists so sure that the planet was doomed? Why did they call those who were skeptical  — “Deniers”, and attempt to ban their voices and statements from public conversation? Nobody has denied that there is climate change. The climate has been changing for millions of years, and the Medieval Warm Period, the time of the Renaissance, was some of the finest weather known to man. We know about past ice ages. There is a major clue in this video that was published on May 2, 2017. The date is important.

This was supposed to be a video of a Climate March. but quite obviously, that was not what it was about. 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.

Does the Climate March, which was not a march about the climate but of ridding the country of the deplorable Donald Trump, begin to make sense? The Paris Climate Accords which were designed to transfer wealth from the industrial nations to the developing nations, end capitalism, and have no effect whatsoever on the actual climate, explain the Left’s rage at President Trump withdrawing from the Climate Accords, thereby ending them, and do their incessant efforts to impeach him begin to make sense?

I cannot fathom the brain-dead insistence that any failures of socialism or communism were simply because they didn’t do it right. The “If we were in charge it would have been different” refusal to grasp the realities of Venezuela, Cuba, or Soviet Russia itself. Of course there are those who absolutely believe that the globe is warming and we are all going to die if we don’t do something. People cling to their illusions when they deeply believe. It’s hard to admit that you’ve been wrong all along.

(I changed the headline to more accurately fit the reality)


Our governor, Jay Inslee, was sure that a carbon tax would pass now that the Legislature is Democrat controlled, but they wouldn’t go along with him. They dumped it.

Carbon dioxide is not “carbon” and is not a pollutant. It is a natural fertilizer for plants (hark back to your high school biology and photosynthesis) and the slight increase of carbon dioxide in the greenhouse gasses has been greening the planet, feeding more people and erasing fears of famine across the world. The planet is not warming, but cooling slightly, if evidence of snow in the Sahara Desert convinces anybody. The sun seems to be entering a quiet period with fewer sunspots, which seems to predict colder weather. The East Coast just got a cold blast as the news media has been informing us minute by minute, but thankfully it’s taking their attention off the demands for gun control, which doesn’t work either.

Nikolas Cruz, School Discipline, and Misunderstood Statistics. by The Elephant's Child

Even though our legislators, we assume, are trying hard to make good law, they often fail miserably. Laws don’t just establish what one must do or not do, but laws create incentives. All too often the good intent of the legislation creates some very bad incentives that are poorly understood. What is your impression of the frequency and numbers of dead in school shootings? Increased or not? From a lot of the talk, one would think that we have a rash of school shootings, and more victims than ever, but that is not the case. Frequency and numbers are declining.

An article from the Broward County, Florida’s  Sun-Sentinel reported that Nikolas Cruz “kicked doors, cursed at teachers, fought with and threatened classmates and brought a backpack with bullets to school, in 2014 administrators transferred him to an alternate school for students with “emotional and behavioral disabilities” but in 2 years he was returned to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. He was banished for disciplinary violations but “never expelled from school.” Legally he couldn’t be.

Under federal law, the U.S. Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Nikolas Cruz had a right to a “free and appropriate” education at a public school. As special education lawyer Stephanie Langer told the Sun-Sentinel, “You can’t just kick kids out of the public schools because you are afraid of them, or because they are hard to educate.” In Parkland, Florida, that notion overrode the right of other students to an education free from fear, and as it turned out, deprived them of their right to life as well. 

But it was apparently not, or not just, the 1973 law, but extensive meddling by the Obama administration in what they considered the “school to prison pipeline.”

This is a stunning example of the tendency of statistics to confuse and  mislead. The statistics pointed out that 61% of the incarcerated population were Black or Latino, while only 30% were white. Obviously this must be racism at work. A 2007 study by the Advancement Project and Power U Center for Social Change said of every 100 students who were suspended, 15 were black, 7.9 were American Indian, 6.8 were Latino and 4.8 were white. The article includes examples from around the country, and from different sources.

In October, 2015, Heather MacDonald testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in a hearing on proposed legislation to “reform” criminal sentencing by releasing large numbers of felons from federal prisons. The Obama administration was just getting going on their drive to end the disproportionate numbers of Blacks in prison.

The most dangerous misconception about our criminal justice system is that it is pervaded by racial bias. For decades, criminologists have tried to find evidence for that bias, and they have always come up short. In fact, racial differences in criminal offending account for all of the racial disproportionality of blacks in prison.  (my emphasis)

A year later, Heather MacDonald published an important article in City Journal: “Violence in the Halls, Disorder in the Malls” in which she explains that the pathology of the inner city, children without fathers in the home, single mothers with little time, gang culture, are the cause of violence in the schools and violence in malls, and the Obama administration’s destructive efforts to undermine school discipline were to blame. Nikolas Cruz, as a Latino, qualified to be treated with care, to avoid trouble with Education Department authorities.

Once again, we have the usual rush to judgment, and slowly, slowly, the facts begin to come out. Obama went to great lengths to seem the great leader of the Black Community, and increased the calls of racism, where there really wasn’t all that much of it. I guess that’s what he learned in community organizing school. Even if his efforts were well meant, the incentives were poorly understood and have had unfortunate consequences.

Please, Try to Learn Some Facts Before You Speak. by The Elephant's Child

People who know nothing about guns, have never held one in their hands nor fired one, should try to get slightly informed before they start lecturing the rest of the country about banning guns. Nobody needs guns, they will say. Tell that to Oprah, or George and Amal Clooney, the Katzenbergs, or Steven Spielberg who are collectively donating $2 million to the children’s crusade, the “March for Our Lives” — a disgusting politicization of Parkland students’ anguish. And ask if these wealthy folk have bodyguards, and do their bodyguards carry guns?

I grew up in the mountains of Idaho, on 400 acres adjoining National Forest. We had varmints. Coyotes, lynx, bobcats, porcupines, skunks, bears, cougar. Local ranchers had guns. When one of their herd broke a leg or was harmed by other wildlife, they had to be put down. There were no local vets. Coming home from a ride one day, I was blocked from the ford in the river by a coiled rattlesnake, and my horse was having fits. Having to dispatch a rattlesnake with large rocks was fairly scary.  I suppose I was firing a .22 by the time I was six. We usually took a gun along on our early spring picnic to fire at tin cans down on a beach on the Big Salmon River where blooms were out and lambs were newborn. At home we still had a couple of feet of snow. I was fairly deadly with woodrats, but most of the rest of the wildlife was safe from me.

The Left is anxious to ban guns and attack the NRA. I suspect that Lefties are sure that people who grow up in the mountains of Idaho live in compounds of crackpots who all have guns and explosives and may rise up to take their country back.  The statistics on guns are quite clear, banning guns does not solve anything. The scary accessories on a so called “assault weapon” are just to make an ordinary rifle sexier. They don’t do anything useful. Far more people are killed with handguns, blunt objects, knives, and fists. I would bet that Oprah and the others have no idea what the NRA does, or who they are. Virtue signalling.

The Parkland school shooting was a failure of the FBI, the local police, the Sheriff’s office and the school itself. CNN has compounded the reaction with their dishonest use of traumatized children in a scripted Townhall for their own purposes. At Ricochet, a woman from Kentucky writes about an earlier school shooting this year, and the contrasts.  And someone else suggested that people don’t do their homework — that is they don’t do even a small amount of research to see if they know what they are talking about, because they are afraid of having to read something long. A preference for very thin books. Really? Disturbing. Think about the other things they are trying to ban.

The picture at the top was about 5 or 6 miles down the road from our place, where the turnoff for the road up the mountain was. That’s the scary mountains of Idaho, but only one of the lesser peaks.

The Indispensable Man: A Search for the Real George Washington by The Elephant's Child

The George Washington that most of us see most often is the engraving after the Gilbert Stuart portrait on the one dollar bill. Reproductions of the Gilbert Stuart portrait and a portrait of Abraham Lincoln used to hang on the front wall of every elementary classroom when I was growing up, with an American flag standing in the corner.

We all know, I think, that George Washington had dreadful false teeth. A terrible pity, both for the President — because they must have been instruments of torture in his mouth — and because they distract our attention from far more important things about the man. Certainly Washington must have had access to the very best dentists of the day. By 1789, he had only one of his own teeth left. The teeth were horrible-looking contraptions made of substances like hippopotamus ivory, hinged at the back and operated with springs. He complained that they distorted his lips, and they must have distorted his appearance as well.

Gilbert Stuart was the most celebrated of portraitists. He trained in London, and was thought to be a potential successor to the famed Sir Joshua Reynolds. However Stuart was extravagant and fled in debt from London. He turned up in Philadelphia during 1795 , hoping to pay off his creditors by creating a multitude of portraits of the world’s greatest man. Washington sat to him for three separate portraits, and Stuart made hundreds of copies.

According to James Thomas Flexner’s Washington: The Indispensable Man, Washington and Stuart did not get on. The portraitist usually kept his sitters amused and their faces alive by a flood of showy and outrageous talk. Washington always felt uneasy at having to remain still and being stared at and was put out rather than being amused.

Stuart, who felt that “artists were fundamentally superior to all other men including Presidents, resented Washington’s formality. He could not forget what had resulted when, in trying to unstiffen the hero, he had gone to the length of saying, “Now, sir, you must let me forget that you are General Washington and I am Stuart the Painter. Washington replied (as it seemed to him politely), Mr. Stuart need never feel the need for forgetting who he is and who General Washington is.”

Stuart emphasized, as no other portraitist did, the distortions of Washington’s mouth. Flexner suggests that since Stuart was known to have angrily used General Knox’s portrait as the door of his pigsty that perhaps the harm he did to Washington’s historical image was somewhat deliberate.

This life mask by Jean Antoine Houdon gives us more clues as to what Washington actually looked like. He was tall, about 6’2″, and most verbal descriptions mention his ‘roman’ nose, so it was perhaps a little prominent. This is not the face of the Stuart portrait, but looks more probable.

Washington was an outdoorsman who spent much of his life in the saddle, and his complexion would have reflected that — more wrinkles, more weathered. They didn’t have sunglasses and baseball hats with a brim to keep the sun out of the eyes, lots of squinting. The portrait above seems to match the life mask fairly well. A far cry from the disagreeable Gilbert Stuart portrait.

I’m going a bit out on a limb here, but I spent some years in art school attempting to capture likenesses, and the smallest errors in size and distance relationships can lose a likeness completely. Also, people see likenesses differently. Some will insist that two siblings look just alike while others will see no resemblance between the same two. I have no real explanation for that.

I suspect that Gilbert Stuart had such a reputation as a great portraitist, undoubtedly aided by his own self description, that perhaps people were apt to accept his work as the “right” one. Portraits are an odd matter. One tries to capture a mobile. alive face that changes its expression constantly and represent it on a flat surface. If you have ever had photographer’s proofs of pictures of you to choose from, that will explain the problem. They’re all you, but you’ll like some better than others.

Here are “reconstructions” done by a forensic reconstructionist of Washington at his inauguration, as a general, and at around the age of 19. They are startling in their realism. I suspect (nit-picky as I am) that the face is too free of wrinkles, and too pinky-white, and not quite rawboned enough. (I said I was being picky) But they give you a vastly different impression of the man. Haul out a dollar bill and compare. Stuart played a cruel joke on Washington.

Washington didn’t know much about being a general when he was appointed by Congress to lead the American armies, but he was the best we had, and he did fine. His men loved him, and he gradually taught them to be soldiers. He was elected unanimously to be President when he wanted nothing more than to return to Mt.Vernon and retire from public life. The people idolized him. He could have been a king or an emperor, or like some — a dictator for life. But it was he, with his sterling character, who set the nation on the right path. He had a horrible temper, and mostly kept it under firm control. Any of his deeds alone would have made him famous, but in twenty-four years he led the armies, led the country, shaped a constitution, set a nation on its path and then went on home.

The portrait above is by Gilbert Stuart. He made many copies and others made copies of his copies which were sent around the new country so people could see what their new president looked like. Unfortunately, one of them was copied for the engraving on the dollar bill. Just mean.

ADDENDUM: I especially recommend Richard Brookhiser’s Founding Father: Rediscovering George Washington. It is not a life history, but a moral biography, only 199 pages. It’s a rewarding book. I post this every year on Washington’s birthday.

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