American Elephants


Fooling the Public and Manipulating the Media by The Elephant's Child

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On May 5th, The New York Times Magazine published a lengthy interview with Ben Rhodes, President Obama’s deputy national security adviser.  Mr. Rhodes “travels with the president, sees him all day long, and not only writes his speeches and communications strategies but also shapes the content of policy.”

The piece was titled “The Aspiring Novelist Who Became Obama’s Foreign-Policy Guru: How Ben Rhodes rewrote the rules of diplomacy for the digital age” by David Samuels. It was a revealing interview. Mr. Rhodes says he has a sort of mind-meld with the president. Much has been made of the fact that Rhodes was working on an M.F.A. in creative writing, and now he channels the president’s consciousness into an optimistic narrative that shapes the president’s foreign policy.

Rhodes strategized and ran the successful Iran-deal messaging campaign, helped negotiate the opening of American relations with Cuba after a hiatus of more than 50 years and has been a co-writer of all of Obama’s major foreign-policy speeches. “Every day he does 12 jobs, and he does them better than the other people who have those jobs,” Terry Szuplat, the longest-tenured member of the National Security Council speechwriting corps, told me. On the largest and smallest questions alike, the voice in which America speaks to the world is that of Ben Rhodes.

Rhodes is a storyteller who” uses a writer’s tools to advance an agenda that is packaged as politics but is often quite personal.”

His lack of conventional real-world experience of the kind that normally precedes responsibility for the fate of nations — like military or diplomatic service, or even a master’s degree in international relations, rather than creative writing — is still startling.

The revelations of how the campaign to sell the Iran Deal to the public was developed, and though planned from the first days of Obama’s presidency, the “story” of the Iran deal began in 2013 when a “moderate” faction inside the Iranian regime led by Hassan Rouhani beat regime “hard-liners” in an election and then began to pursue a policy of “openness,” which included a newfound willingness to negotiate the dismantling of its illicit nuclear-weapons program.”

The president announced the nuclear deal on July 14, 2015: “Today, after two years of negotiations, the United States, together with our international partners, has achieved something that decades of animosity has not.” Actually the meaningful part of negotiations with Iran took place in mid-2012, many months before Rouhani and the moderate group where chosen in an election among candidates handpicked by the supreme leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. There was never any new reality in Iran nor any moderate faction. With this one bold move, the administration would begin the process of a large- scale disengagement from the Middle East, which had always been Obama’s goal.

With the smug innocence of the morally superior, Mr. Rhodes revealed far too many truths about manipulating the media, his contempt for the press, and how he manages the flow of information. Since the actions of the Obama administration are obviously correct, selling the deal to Congress, and framing the deal as a choice between peace and war was Rhodes strategy.

Guided by his moral superiority, Rhodes neglected to consider that the American people aren’t much on being deliberately lied to, and the media isn’t enthusiastic about being manipulated, and especially about that being publicly revealed.

Articles about Ben Rhodes, about the NYT Magazine piece, and about the lies in presenting the Iran Deal have been forthcoming in a steady flow from all over the world. Congress has invited Mr. Rhodes to come testify about his part in the episode and it is suggested that if he does not turn up voluntarily, he will be subpoenaed.



Let’s Have Some Really Good News for a Change! by The Elephant's Child

Here at home, the plumbing disaster has evolved into a replace a bathroom adventure. Sorry about the light blogging, but some days that just the way it goes. This is merely the beginning.

So I will turn to good news for a change. How’s this for a headline? “The Era of Great Famines is Over” Here’s Paul Ehrlich writing in The Population Bomb in 1968,

The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate.

—India has been suffering from widespread drought in 11 states across the country, yet the country’s foodgrain production is actually set to grow marginally, the third advance estimates released by the agriculture ministry on Monday showed. The grain production for human consumption for 2015-2016 is estimated at 252.23 million tons, marginally higher than the 252.92 million tones produced in 2014-2015 according to the data. If the estimates hold up, it implies that the damage to the farm economy is less than was feared, but also demonstrates a bit of resilience of Indian agriculture to a deficit monsoon.

—Ethiopia is moving from being “the world’s symbol of mass famines to fending off starvation.” Ethiopia could choose to avoid another disaster because “Famine isn’t caused by overpopulation, and as Ethiopia’s experience shows, it’s not a necessary consequence of drought. Politics creates famine, and politics can stop it.” The New York Times, May 8 , 2016

—South Africa aims to be malaria free by 2018. The National Health Department in confident that they can reduce locally transmitted cases to zero, because they have already managed to reduce cases dramatically.

Malaria accounts for 40 percent of all public health spending on the continent, killing up to 438,000 people each year mainly in sub-Saharan Africa.

But, the World Health Organization (WHO)’s world malaria report for 2015 states that there’s been a major decline in global malaria cases and deaths since the year 2000, with the mortality rate decreasing by 60 percent.

—In the middle of the political season, everyone seems to be angry, unhappy with Congress because they didn’t stop Obama from using his phone and his pen to accomplish all the things that he could not get through Congress, and decided to accomplish by executive order.. The media is fascinated with following unpredictable candidates around, so we aren’t hearing all that much from the rest of the world.  From Guy Sorman at City Journal:

Worry over America’s recent economic stagnation, however justified, shouldn’t obscure the fact that the American economy remains Number One in the world. The United States holds 4.5 percent of the world’s population but produces a staggering 22 percent of the world’s output—a fraction that has remained fairly stable for two decades, despite growing competition from emerging countries. Not only is the American economy the biggest in absolute terms, with a GDP twice the size of China’s; it’s also near the top in per-capita income, currently a bit over $48,000 per year. Only a few small countries blessed with abundant natural resources or a concentration of financial services, such as Norway and Luxembourg, can claim higher averages.

“America’s predominance isn’t new; indeed, it has existed since the early nineteenth century.” By the 1830s American per-capita income was already the highest in the world. It wasn’t just our size and natural resources, for other countries had those attributes.

They couldn’t compete with Americas strong intellectual property rights. The U.S, Constitution was the first in history to protect intellectual property rights, and “secured for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” Two hundred years later, the U.S. has more patents in force —1.8 million—than any other nation. American wages were significantly higher than those in Europe, which meant that landowners needed high levels of productivity, which meant that the mechanization of agriculture got under way in America before it did overseas.

America’s enormous territory and “the freedom people had to move and work across it” encouraged an advanced division of labor, which is essential to high productivity.

Globalization is having the same effect today, making prices drop by assigning the production of goods to countries that are relatively efficient at making them.

Immigration has been another component of American economic dynamism, for evident quantitative reasons: national GDP grows when total population and productivity increase simultaneously. But this effect has worked particularly well in the United States because its immigrants have tended to be young, energetic, and open to American values. Immigration is a self-selecting process: those who find the courage to leave behind their roots, traditions, and family often have an entrepreneurial spirit.

Guy Sorman adds:

In the current sluggish economic environment, the remarkable history of American dynamism is thus more instructive than ever. America’s economic might is rooted in an entrepreneurial culture and a passion for innovation and risk-taking, traits nourished by the nation’s commitment to the rule of law, property rights, and a predictable set of tax and regulatory policies. Policymakers have lost sight of these fundamental principles in recent years. The next era of American prosperity will be hastened when they return to them.

Do read the whole thing. It’s not long.



Mark Steyn Has Taken a Principled Stand Against Climate Alarmism by The Elephant's Child

Published on Apr 25, 2016

For the New Criterion, Ben Weingarten, commentator and Founder & CEO of ChangeUp Media sits down with Mark Steyn, international bestselling author, political pundit, cultural critic and hardened climate change dissenter Mark Steyn for an in-depth interview.

During their discussion, Weingarten and Steyn discuss the chilling of free speech by the climate alarmists and their enablers in the political and legal system, the stakes of the defamation suit filed against Steyn by climate scientist Dr. Michael E. Mann over a critical blog post, why it is the scientific community that resembles a racket rather than demonized “Big Oil,” the misogyny of the “climate cabal” and its attack on Dr. Judith Curry, the parallels between climate supremacists and Islamic supremacists, why the West should celebrate increasing levels of carbon dioxide and much more.



A Truly Weird Electoral Season. by The Elephant's Child

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They are voting in Indiana, and the polls will be closing soon. I do not understand this presidential campaign at all. We are told that the people are really angry. According to the media and Donald Trump, they are angry about illegal immigration, and unfair trade policy that is negatively affecting our country. According to exit polls, the people are not particularly concerned about immigration as it is far down the list of concerns, and majorities prefer a path to citizenship.

Mr. Trump is going to build a huge big wall. And he is going to put big tariffs on any country that isn’t being fair. He’s going to be nicer to our friends so we will be closer, but he will insist that they pay a larger share of  the cost of protecting them from radical Islam. He liked World War II and the Cold War, but is against any foreign adventures since.

What the people seem to be angry about is the economy, the lack of jobs, jobs going to immigrants, they are fearful about terrorism, angry about the ridiculous hooplah over women’s restrooms being open to men, the increased cost of ObamaCare, the lack of jobs and economic growth, and increased inflation while salaries have not risen at all. Jobs have vanished on coal country, employment is down in oil and gas country because of the drop in the price of oil, some manufacturing jobs have gone overseas because of high corporate taxes, and some high-tech jobs have gone to H1-B immigrants.

All of these problems are the direct result of policies of the Obama administration. The stimulus didn’t work. Republicans warned that ObamaCare was not going to work and would cost more, not less; every Republican voted against he initial law, and have voted to repeal the act five times, Obama has vetoed their efforts each time. Jobs have gone to offshore companies as a direct result of the highest corporate tax in the world. The rise of ISIS and the war in Syria and the Middle East is a direct result of Obama pulling the troops out of Iraq too soon. President Obama vowed early to bankrupt the coal companies, which he has done in a misguided and fruitless battle against catastrophic global warming which exists only in the computer programs of the IPCC. And in refusing to utter the words Islamic terrorism, Obama has skewed all of our perceptions of  the Middle East and what is happening.

So the people are furious with the Republicans? Huh?

They blame the policies of the Obama administration on the Republicans? They don’t think the Republicans have done enough to stop the administration?

This is the first time, as far as I know, when a President of the United States has deliberately decided that “he has a phone and a pen” and he will accomplish by executive order or actions of agencies whatever he wants, and that he will pay no attention to the Constitution of the United States of America, because he believes it to be a tired old document that needs repealing or fixing.  The remedies available are to proceed through the courts in one lawsuit or another or to impeach the president. The Republicans have voted to repeal ObamaCare five times, Obama has vetoed every bill.

Results are in from Indiana, and Donald Trump has enough votes that he will be the presumptive nominee, for he is sure to pick up enough from states like California and Washington, for example, from the remainder of states left.  Ted Cruz has suspended his campaign.

I am not and have not been a Trump supporter. I do not understand what they hope for from what little Mr. Trump has had to say in his speeches.  His supporters seem to put a lot of faith in “Make America Great Again”  and “America First” which was a discredited slogan from  the America First Committee which was highly non-interventionist in the days just before World War II. I guess they see it as patriotism and strength. I see it as lacking in evidence.

We’ll see. Mr. Trump hasn’t even released his tax returns, and is due to face trial for fraud regarding his promotion of Trump University.  But then the case against Hillary proceeds slowly as well. What a weird, weird electoral season.



The Earth is Greening From CO2, And That’s a Very Good Thing. by The Elephant's Child

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The U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay against the Environmental Protection Agency’s global warming plan in February. But EPA officials are moving right ahead with a central part of the Clean Power Plan (CPP). They’ve devised a song and dance way to get around the order from the court. Court orders don’t have the authority under this administration that they once did.

The EPA submitted a proposal to the White House for green energy subsidies for states that meet the federally mandated carbon dioxide reduction goals early. The Clean Energy Incentive Program would give “credit for power generated by new wind and solar projects in 2020 and 2021” and a “double credit for energy efficiency measures in low-income communities,” according to Politico’s Morning Energy. …

EPA argues it’s doing this for states that want to voluntarily cut emissions — despite this being part of CPP.

“Many states and tribes have indicated that they plan to move forward voluntarily to work to cut carbon pollution from power plants and have asked the agency to continue providing support and developing tools that may support those efforts, including the CEIP,” reads a statement provided to Politico from EPA.

A report says that the Earth is turning greener because of carbon dioxide emissions, but America is not doing its part. Other countries are pumping out more CO2, shutting down wind farms, and the United States has cut its output. In 2000, America pumped out 5,868 million metric tons of CO2, then 6,001 million metric tons in 2007, and the figure fell to 5,406 in 2014. This means an increase in growing season over 25% to 50% of the global vegetated areas, which means more hungry people are fed, and more small children live to grow up.

Theoretically we all learned about photosynthesis in junior high or high school. More CO2 means more plant life. We breathe in the air, use the oxygen, and exhale CO2. If CO2 were poisonous or dangerous we’d all be dead from breathing on each other.

A new study says that if the extra green leaves prompted by rising CO2 levels were laid in a carpet, it would cover twice the continental USA.

Climate skeptics argue the findings show that the extra CO2 is actually benefiting the planet.

The new study is published in the journal Nature Climate Change by a team of 32 authors from 24 institution in eight countries. But the numbers don’t count in science. What counts is what the evidence proves.

Norwegian scientists, according to a 30-year long study, are finding that plants adapt well to differing environmental conditions — in contrast to claims that plants won’t be able to adapt from the climate worriers. “There is a kind of flexibility in the genetic material, …much like a ‘molecular thermostat’ that can shift the growth cycle of the plant” said Carl Gunnar Fossdal of the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research. “This phenomenon has great importance for the discussion around climate change.” The scientists speculate that animals adapt in the same way, suggesting that the evidence linking global warming to extinctions is sparse.

The Climate Change Lobby, like much of the rest of the Left, doesn’t like disagreement, nor studies that contradict their firmly-held truths. They want to shut the contrary voices up. No skeptics allowed. That’s why the word “skeptic” never passes the green lips — it’s always deniers — like holocaust deniers,  you see. They don’t accept mild rebukes, nor proof of error. It’s their way or the highway. They have too much invested in changing the world and ending nasty capitalism.



“Notable & Quotable” by The Elephant's Child

The Wall Street Journal included these lines from the Mayo Clinic’s online entry on narcissistic personality disorder in their “Notable & Quotable” column.

If you have narcissistic personality disorder, you may come across as conceited, boastful or pretentious. You often monopolize conversations. You may belittle or look down on people you perceive as inferior. You may feel a sense of entitlement—and when you don’t receive special treatment, you may become impatient or angry. You may insist on having “the best” of everything—for instance, the best car, athletic club or medical care.

At the same time, you have trouble handling anything that may be perceived as criticism. You may have secret feelings of insecurity, shame, vulnerability and humiliation. To feel better, you may react with rage or contempt and try to belittle the other person to make yourself appear superior. Or you may feel depressed and moody because you fall short of perfection. . . .

[The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-5] . . . criteria for narcissistic personality disorder include these features:

Having an exaggerated sense of self-importance

Expecting to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it

Exaggerating your achievements and talents

Being preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate . . .

Behaving in an arrogant or haughty manner



Keeping the Government’s Hands Off Your Pocketbook! by The Elephant's Child

History Professor Burton Folsom of Hillsdale College explains carefully why government investments usually fail. Professor Folsom has demolished The Myth of the Robber Barons, Explained in New Deal or Raw Deal how FDR’s economic legacy has damaged America, and now with Uncle Sam Can’t Count: A History of Failed Government Investments from Beaver Pelts to Green Energy and in this short video for Prager University, he explains why Big New Ideas are better left to private entrepreneurs.

It’s a matter of incentives. When entrepreneurs invest their own hard earned money, they are careful and thrifty, I have not yet seen a bill for Obama’s investments in Big Ideas like Solyndra, Ivanpah, Solar City, and all the rest, and there’s the high-speed railroad to nowhere supposedly abuilding in California.

There are some lessons here to pay close attention to. Some presidents want to build monuments to themselves, and members of Congress are subject to the same temptations.




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