American Elephants


The Decline and Fall of America’s Educational Excellence by The Elephant's Child

While the nation’s budget watchers pour, with horror,  over the numbers involved in student loans, it seems that students are spending their student loan money to have a really good spring break fun-in-the-sun trip. Perhaps that is an outgrowth of the Obama administration’s insistence that every young person should go to college. Or on the other hand, perhaps parents just put too much emphasis on what fun they had when they were in college. Unfortunately, Congress keeps upping the amount a student can borrow to go to college which directly results in colleges raising tuition. It’s a cycle that must be ended.

This comes in the wake of the riot at Middlebury. Students at Middlebury College in Vermont decided they could not tolerate opinions that differed from their own. Actually, they were acting on hearsay about the work of distinguished scholar Charles Murray, that came from sources such as the Southern Poverty Law Center, and they had no idea at all about Murray’s work or ideas. The protest resulted in a faculty member hospitalized. Dan Henninger of the Wall Street Journal suggests that this event may be a tipping point, though that is not at all sure. The news from our colleges is not, to say the least, encouraging.

Why are the Millennials Protesting?” asks a piece from Townhall.

As for the self-evident, self-centeredness of many millennials, this is partly the result of their upbringing and environment, as they have grown up in a culture of indulgence, a culture of narcissism, a culture of radical, leftist, campus ideology (which often revolves around “my feelings”), a culture of me-focused social media, which finds its ultimate expression in the selfie.

At Pitzer College, there is a current flap about white girls wearing hoop earrings, something claimed to be cultural appropriation of styles that belong to brown and black people. Who knew?

In response to student and faculty activists, Barnard college will divest from companies that “deny” climate change. They have not yet defined what makes one a denier.

Yet the college will not be divesting from fossil fuels in the traditional sense.

Instead, it will take an approach that no other college has taken before, divesting from companies that “deny climate science or otherwise seek to thwart efforts to mitigate the impact of climate change.”

Oddly enough, I have never heard of anyone who denies that the climate is always changing. It’s a natural process. Since the activity of the sun controls the warming and cooling of the planet, this does not promise to be a major point advancing the value of a Barnard education.

There has always been nonsense going on in our colleges. There was a time when it was as tame as goldfish swallowing and panty raids, but that devolved into the much more serious protests against the Vietnam War, largely because students were terrified of being drafted. Which in turn ended up with a lot of educational deferments by those who believed a PhD would keep them out of the war, and resulted in the leftist takeover of American education. Since professors help to choose the new faculty,  leftists did not endorse those who disagree with them politically. Add on the Frankfort School and you have today’s campus problems, and Leftist indoctrination of students.

The essence of all the protests and outrage at the injustices of the world, the renaming of college buildings that celebrated someone who once approved of slavery, and removal of statuary of unapproved forbears is on display. The kids are often away from home for the first time, and experiencing new things without much knowledge of either the present or the past, and the colleges are flush with moral outrage, which seems to be catching.  Reason sums it all up nicely in an article titled “Moral Outrage is Self-Serving, Say Psychologists.

When people publicly rage about perceived injustices that don’t affect them personally, we tend to assume this expression is rooted in altruism—a “disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others.” But new research suggests that professing such third-party concern—what social scientists refer to as “moral outrage”—is often a function of self-interest, wielded to assuage feelings of personal culpability for societal harms or reinforce (to the self and others) one’s own status as a Very Good Person.

The faculty at Middlebury is trying to back down in the face of the riot the protests developed into. Mizzou has had a distinct decline in enrollment, had to shut down some dorms and had a devastating attack on their funding. There are consequences. Faculty and administrators need to start acting like grownups. Bad behavior should not be tolerated, and if the colleges don’t react, their potential customers may well choose somewhere where bad behavior is not tolerated. There is the overall question of free speech, which is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, not a bunch of adolescent students, but of basic manners and decent behavior.

Education does not involve comfortable wallowing in the same old ideas one brought to the institution. Students are expected to meet startling and surprising new ideas and new approaches to everything. There are no “safe spaces” in life, and empathy and moral outrage are not the path to coming face to face with the real world.
Businessmen are beginning to learn that customers aren’t necessarily in tune with business spouting politics. Organized protests are unneeded. People take their dollars elsewhere. Colleges and universities should be learning the same lesson. Mizzou will not be the only university to find their students gone elsewhere. Parents want their kids to learn, not to be indoctrinated in someone else’s politics.



Victor Davis Hanson Goes Right to the Heart of the Matter by The Elephant's Child

—Victor Davis Hanson has a number of recent columns that get right to the heart of the matter. “The Democrat Patient” on January 17. is one such:”Ignoring the symptoms, misdiagnosing the malady, skipping the treatment.”

If progressives were to become empiricists, they would look at the symptoms of the last election and come up with disinterested diagnoses, therapies, and prognoses.

Although their hard-left candidate won the popular vote, even that benchmark was somewhat deceiving — given the outlier role of California and the overwhelming odds in their favor. The Republicans ran a candidate who caused a veritable civil war in their ranks and who was condemned by many of the flagship conservative media outlets. Trump essentially ran against a united Democratic party, the Republican establishment, the mainstream media (both liberal and conservative) — and won.

He was outspent. He was out-organized. He was outpolled and demonized daily as much by Republicans as Democrats. Yet he not only destroyed three political dynasties (the Clintons, Bushes, and Obamas) but also has seemingly rendered the Obama election matrix nontransferable to anyone other than Obama himself.

— On February28, he addressed President Donald Trump himself in “The Metaphysics of Trump:” Paradox:How does a supposedly bad man appoint good people eager to advance a conservative agenda that supposedly more moral Republicans failed to realize?

We variously read that Trump should be impeached, removed, neutralized — or worse. But until he is, are his appointments, executive orders, and impending legislative agenda equally abhorrent?
—On March 8, He took on The News, “Talk Radio, Cable News, the Mainstream Media and the News Revolution” What is their assigned role, and how are they doing? Victor Hanson does a marvelous job of clearing up their roles and who is succeeding and who is a failure. and why.
In the hubbub over Trump’s attack on the media, we sometimes forget that Barack Obama et al. customarily went after talk-radio and cable-news conservatives — whose job, after all, was opinion journalism — as biased, whereas Trump went more after news-gathering organizations who deliver the news under the pretense of straight reporting.
Who has suffered from this ongoing media crackup?
Not conservative opinion journalists on television and radio. The role of talk-radio and cable-news outlets is to interpret the news, and they continue to do that well from a conservative point of view.
But are the mainstream news outlets — AP, Reuters, CNN, the New York Times, the Washington Post, etc. — commensurately doing their quite different jobs?
Hardly, given the epidemic of fake news passed off as disinterested reporting, the hysterias about the Russians, the smearing of officials like Jeff Sessions, or the collusion to undermine the Trump administration in general.
What we are witnessing is an utter inversion in the supposed way the media works. Whereas the task of a Rush Limbaugh or Tucker Carlson is to offer cogent analysis from a more conservative viewpoint on the news of the day, a supposedly disinterested media cannot be relied upon in the same degree to do their quite different job of reporting the days’ events.
Or is the implosion of the mainstream media even more revolutionary?
Clarity of thought, clear expression, and going directly to the heart of the matter. I am a great admirer of Dr. Hanson’s work.


The Middlebury College Disgrace: Leftism, Ignorance and Hate by The Elephant's Child

Last Thursday. March 2, the distinguished Professor Charles Murray was invited to speak at Middlebury College in Vermont on his most recent book Coming Apart and how it related to the recent election. Plans for protests began to emerge, encouraged by several faculty members. The logic, Dr. Murray says, that “since I am a racist, a white supremacist, a white nationalist, a psuedoscientist whose work has been discredited, a sexist, a eugenicist, and (this is a new one) anti-gay, I did not deserve a platform for my hate speech, and hence it was appropriate to keep me from speaking.”

The lecture hall was filled to capacity, about 400, half of whom had come to hear the lecture, the other half to protest. The protesters had scripts to read from and screamed enthusiastically, but had no idea what they were screaming about. The students got violent, the Political Science professor who had agreed to act as moderator for the Q&A session and ask the first three questions herself, was injured and sent to the hospital.

The New York Times coverage of the incident is here. Largely ill-informed and fake news, they used the Southern Poverty Law Center, described as “left-leaning” rather than far-left (which is more accurate) as an “authority.” The photo shows students reading from their scripts. Here is Dr. Murray’s description of the event from AEI where he is a distinguished scholar. Here is a photo of the lovely Middlebury Campus where the yearly cost for tuition, room and board is a startling $61,046 a year. ($6,000 a month).

My great, great uncle was a Middlebury graduate, probably 1838, though he was ill with typhoid one semester. His room and board cost $2.50 a week in the nicest private homes, and his entire education cost no more than $1,000.

Here’s an interview from Hoover’s “Uncommon Knowledge” series by Peter Robinson, when Charles Murray’s Coming Apart had just come out in 2012. Uncommon Knowledge interviews are long (47 min) but completely fascinating, giving you real insight into the scholar. The book explains how over the last 50 years the culture has changed, and changed dramatically. The Founders said that to preserve the free society they were advocating, Americans must possess certain values: 1. religiosity 2. marriage integrity 3. industriousness and 4. plain honesty.  And we are losing that.  Perhaps for good.  And if we do, we will not be the same country we all have loved.

There must be consequences for the Middlebury students. There is no excuse for such behavior, and such ignorant behavior. How many parents are able or willing to spring for $6,000 a month? How many future employers will look askance at a Middlebury degree? Will parents pull their kids out of school and put them to work? Are there consequences?

I had long looked with a bit of disfavor on Dr. Murray because of his division of people into classes, and I had always believed in an America that was essentially a classless society — yet that is precisely what he is arguing. In Coming Apart. We were essentially a classless society, and we are losing that, and it is unhealthy, and may be beyond redeeming. The protesting students have their arguments essentially backwards. Fascinating arguments. While you can see faint glimmers of where the protesters got their ignorant ideas — they would be far better off to have listened carefully and tried to understand. But our American campuses are no longer places of learning, but devolving into something quite different. And that is a huge loss as well.

ADDENDUM: Here is an essay about the Middlebury contretemps by the editors at National Review. A good piece. ” Charles Murray is used to protests. If he opens a box of Cracker Jack, there is no prize at the bottom, just some Haverford College sophomore calling him a racist. If he were protested any more widely, he’d be the Vietnam War. But, usually he is also permitted to speak, free speech being a two-way street.”



Dictionary Definitions by The Elephant's Child

sedition

noun se·di·tion \si-ˈdi-shən\

Legal Definition of sedition

  1. :  the crime of creating a revolt, disturbance, or violence against lawful civil authority with the intent to cause its
    overthrow or destruction



Facing Reality Can Be Really Hard by The Elephant's Child

trump-crowdsAn article in Britain’s Daily Mail about Valerie Jarrett moving into the new home the Obama’s have rented in one of the tonier districts of Washington D.C., just two miles from the White House, has caught a lot of attention. An anonymous family friend reported that “No longer the most powerful man in the world, Obama was just observing Trump and not liking what he saw.”

He was weary and burned out after eight years in office. But Valerie convinced him that he didn’t have any choice if he wanted to save his legacy. And, as usual, he bowed to Valerie’s political wisdom and advice.

In his only public comment against Trump since leaving the presidency, Obama came out in support of the protests opposing President Donald Trump’s executive order to restrict immigration from predominantly Muslim countries.

A spokesman said the former president thinks they’re ‘citizens exercising their Constitutional right to assemble, organize and have their voices heard by their elected officials is exactly what we expect to see when American values are at stake.’

Former president Obama is ready to assume his role as leader of the opposition against President Trump, and he’s going to use his skills as a community organizer to bring Trump down, and get him impeached, beginning with his 30,000 strong OFA campaign organization. This is unprecedented and one would assume — unthinkable. America has always been a country of peaceful transition of powers, as the Constitution envisions.

Obama is mistaken if he thinks they are just citizens exercising their Constitutional right to assemble, etc, etc. He is forever a former president. His successes, if any, and failures will be judged by historians, not by his self-serving books, and for the rest of his life he will be watched and judged for his behavior. Jimmy Carter has been judged harshly for meddling in governmental matters after his term was over.  And all of Obama’s mistakes will be chewed over by historians, and the results of his policies will become clear.  Happens to all of them.

The Left has gone certifiably nuts, and apparently the Obamas have as well. People become Democrats because the Left keeps telling them that the Republicans are mean. It seems to be true because the Left achieves the power they crave by giving people goodies with other people’s money. It doesn’t work, because as Margaret Thatcher used to say “Sooner or later you run out of other peoples money.” Republicans are mean like your father telling you that you can’t have the toys you want because we can’t afford them. You may be mad at your dad for years, but sooner or later you realize he was right.

Republicans talk too much about economics, but they have to because if you don’t get it close to right, millions of people suffer and some die. In eight years, Obama never achieved the average 3% economic growth. He added $10 trillion to the National Debt, decimated the military and put the nation at risk with his misguided Iran Deal. Iran is working with North Korea on nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles. Obama apparently believed that the shouts of “Death to Israel” and “Death to America” were just PR for the locals. We have been at war with Iran since 1979, a simple fact Obama never understood.

The Left were so proud of themselves for electing the First Black President that they never managed to figure out that his programs didn’t work, and endangered the country. They were so sure that Hillary would be elected to continue the Obama years that they simply didn’t grasp the anger and unhappiness of the country. Tom Sowell wrote:

The vision of the Left is not just a vision of the world. For many, it is also a vision of themselves—a very flattering vision of people trying to save the planet, rescue the exploited, create social justice and otherwise be on the side of the angels. This is an exalted vision that few are ready to forego, or to risk one roll of the dice, which is what submitting it to the test of factual evidence amounts to Maybe that is why there are so  many fact-free arguments on the left, whether on gun control, minimum wages, or innumerable other issues—and why they react so viscerally to those who challenge their vision.

They were bewildered, shocked, when Hillary did not win the election. Nobody seemed to understand that people knew she was a compulsive liar, that the email scandal threatened the security of the country with her carelessness and graft. They could not imagine that the American people chose the man with funny hair and an orange tan. They lost 13 Senate seats, 69 House seats, 910 state legislative seats, and 30 legislative chambers.  All their leading people are in their 70s or older. They have no bench.

Donald Trump, who they consider an uncouth joke, just gave a magnificent speech to Congress. He has selected an outstanding cabinet, and is working hard to undo some of the most damaging last minute poison pills Obama inflicted on the next administration. All they can think of is to blame it all on the Russians.



Heading in the Right Direction, Step by Step by The Elephant's Child

—The Senate has confirmed Ryan Zinke as Secretary of the Interior. It’s his first day on the job and he already signed two orders. One overturns the ban on using lead bullets for hunting, and bans fishermen from using lead sinkers on their lines. One of Obama’s little tricks on his very last day in office, via the Fish and Wildlife Administration.

— In a new paper (Stein et al.,2017), scientists find that Arctic sea ice retreat and advance is modulated by variations in solar activity. The sea ice extent is only slightly less than during the coldest centuries of the Little Ice Age (1600s to 1800s).

20 new papers affirm that Modern Climate is in phase with Natural Variability. The Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute used only observational evidence. They found that Arctic sea ice concentration anomalies were as low or lower in the early 1950s than they have been during recent decades.

—Dr. Susan Crockford, Canadian wildlife expert, has released the latest finding on polar bears. Since  2005, the estimated polar bear population has risen from about 22,500 to about 30,000. The bears are doing just fine, and the Global Warming Policy Foundation is calling on the U.S. Administration to re-assess the ‘endangered species’ status of polar bears.

—Since President’s Trump’s travel order was lifted, more than 1,800 refugees from the 7 countries the Obama Administration listed as sources of terrorism  have entered the U.S.

— Those who advocate accepting far greater numbers of refugees claim that no terrorists have attacked the U.S. from those countries. To the contrary, a Study from the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) confirms that 72 terrorists have been convicted in terror cases, in a sharp contrast with assertions by the Ninth Circuit judges who blocked the President’s executive order. The law clearly states that the president may order exactly what he did.

— When President Trump told the Department of Homeland Security Staff on January 24 after he signed two executive orders on immigration enforcement that “This is a law-enforcement agency.” The assembled ICE agents, Border Patrol officers and others burst into applause. That tells you a great deal about how badly Obama gutted immigration enforcement and how devastating that was to employee morale.

— The European Union has told their member states to detain more migrants before deportation. A year ago most European countries were patting themselves on the back for being so open, welcoming and compassionate about the million and a half refugees they allowed into their countries, with no vetting. Terrorist attacks, big ones, have been worldwide news. The riots, attacks on women, rapes have become common and are mostly swept under the rug. Well over a million refugees and migrants are placing a severe drain on state finances and the people are beginning to realize that all is not what they expected. Germany is in the process of deporting tens of thousands of migrants who arrived in 2015. The German taxpayer has had the expense of feeding, clothing, housing and educating the 800,000 migrants welcomed with open arms by Chancellor Merkel. Can they send them back home? Or is it too late.



Who Will Pay for the Great Big Wall? by The Elephant's Child

1200px-us-mexico_border_fencePresident Trump’s  Great Big Wall (popular or unpopular according to your politics) is going to be built. Walls work, if imperfectly. They’ve been working for centuries, see the Great Wall of China. Israel’s wall works well in spite of Palestinian tunnels and efforts to breach. You can’t just put up a wall and expect that the simple barrier will solve all problems. But most of the concern in this country is for the cost of  border wall.

Based on fiscal estimates developed by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NAS) for immigrants by education level, NAS calculates the future fiscal balance immigrants create — taxes paid minus costs. NAS reports fiscal balances as “net present values” which places a lower value on future expenditures than on current expenditures.

Based on the NAS data, illegal border-crossers create an average fiscal burden of approximately $74,422 during their lifetimes, excluding any costs for their U.S. born children. If a border wall stopped between 160,000 and 200,000 illegal crossers—9 to 12 percent of those expected to successfully cross in the next decade—the fiscal savings would equal the $12 to $15 billion cost of the wall.

These are estimates, of course, but the current conversation about Trump’s “Great Big Wall” concern only the cost of a wall, the terrain that is difficult or impossible.

Congress passed the Secure Fence Act of 2006. It’s goal was to help secure America’s borders to decrease illegal entry, drug trafficking and security threats by building 700 miles of physical barriers along the Mexico-U.S. border. On January 23, 2008 the 110th Congress introduced Reinstatement of the Secure Fence act of 2008 which called for Homeland Security to put up 700 additional miles. (Died in Committee)

By April 2009, Homeland Security had built about 613 miles of pedestrian fencing and vehicle barriers (low fence and concrete posts as vehicle barriers) More attempts to reintroduce finish the fence regulations 2010, 2012.  Costs exceeded Border Control’s budget. Never built, and some wouldn’t keep out a jackrabbit.

That’s what I could find. The previous administration had no interest in a border fence, nor in keeping border crossers out.  They were more interested in placing illegal immigrants and refugees in congressional districts where they could influence the vote. And contrary to media insistence, lots of ineligible immigrants voted in the election.

Dozens of Ineligible Aliens Voted in Philadelphia.
Examples in Missouri, North Carolina, and Kentucky.
No, It’s Not a Racist plot.

From AEI: “How to turn off the Latin refugee flood at the source




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