American Elephants


What? You Mean Rioting Is Against the Law? by The Elephant's Child

dc-riotsNBC News has reported that 209 Inauguration Day rioters have so far been indicted for felony rioting charges. They will face a fine of up to $25,000 and a maximum of 10 years in prison. 230 people were arrested during President Donald Trump’s inauguration on January 20, but several cases have been dismissed.

Federal investigators were still going over hundreds of hours of video, some of it captured by undercover Washington D.C. police officers during the riots and protests, and many still photos. D.C. officers wore body cameras while on duty at the protests. Defense attorneys for the rioters have said that many of their clients are college students who live outside of Washington D.C., Maryland or Virginia. Poor victims, of course.  Who Knew? There are Consequences for Bad Behavior.



As I Was Saying: Human Nature 101. A Required Course. by The Elephant's Child

If you accept or tolerate bad behavior you will get more of it.

Headline from Breitbart: “Exclusive—Women Nationwide Cut Up Nordstrom’s Cards, Plan Boycotts After Political Decision to Drop Ivanka Trump Line.”  It would have been cheaper to hire some extra guards.

This is a strange political season. Democrats were absolutely confident that they could expect another four or eight years in charge of the government and the country, with Hillary. Because people seemed to like President Obama they thought it was a home run. They didn’t pay attention to the vast numbers of people who believed the country was going in the wrong direction. Democrats lost not just the White House, but straight down the line to city councils. And they lost to a man with an orange complexion and funny hair who often said rude things.

The latter is probably more important to Progressives because they are more superficial in their thinking. They are unconcerned about the threat from Islamic terrorism, and had no problem with the Obama administration’s refusal to use the term. They are unconcerned with graft and Hillary’s use of an illegal private email server that left top-secret State Department communications open to any enemy who cared to look. Progressives care about control. It is essential that they remain in charge, and they were gobsmacked by the loss of power. They have no bench of promising, well known young candidates.

The University of California, still mopping up after an estimated $100,000 damage, already has one of the organizers speaking out to call the Berkeley Riot “Stunningly Successful” and warns of a repeat if Milo returns to the college. “We are happy with the results,” Ronald Cruz, a former student,  told the Chronicle. “We were able to meet Mr Yiannopoulos’ fascist message with massive resistance.”

I would be surprised if he tries to after his humiliating defeat,” he declared. “But if he wants to be defeated again, he will be if he tries.”

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the damage to downtown Berkeley was around  $400,000 – $500,000. Pre-orders for Milo’s book Dangerous were soaring at Amazon.

Following the riot in Berkeley, Mayor Jesse Arreguin repeatedly smeared MILO as a “white nationalist” and declared that he would not be welcome back in the city, while several celebrities and news outlets expressed support for the riot, including Hollywood director Judd Apatow, who deleted his tweet shortly after, and Fusion, who smeared MILO as a “Nazi” and praised rioters before also deleting their tweet.

So rioters are welcome in any American city, will not be disturbed in their vandalism. Free speech is not permitted. The usual epithets of Nazi, fascist, Hitler etc. are applied to a speaker, not to the criminal behavior which is completely tolerated—because they’re mad that they lost the election.

Janet Napolitano might take notice that the University of Missouri  lost so many prospective students because of protests and rioting on campus that they have had to shut down dorms and struggle with sharply declining revenue. Parents took their kids and their money elsewhere.

Americans are not accustomed to major businesses playing politics. Donations by participants are expected.  But corporations encouraging their workers to demonstrate or protest against the president? Refusing to do business with the daughter of the President of the United States? Surrendering to political threats? Unacceptable.

When there is a riot and no one stops it, rioters are not put in jail for disturbing the peace — you have given power to the rioters. Next time it will be worse.



Memo to Peter E. Nordstrom & Janet Napolitano, Re: Human Nature 101 by The Elephant's Child

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When confronted with young thugs ( I do observe the Che tee shirt and “We need Socialism”sign, and probably Mexican flag). In the case of the University of California at Berkeley, the Black Bloc who threaten to, or  do create havoc when you surrender immediately to their silly demands, you will get more of the same behavior. If they can bully you into dumping a supplier, what will they bully you into next, Mr. Nordstrom? Mrs. Napolitano, you have taught the Black Bloc that you are so frightened of them that you will stand down your police force and let them do whatever they want. Human Nature 101. They will.

Businesses who engage publicly in politics are apt to find that their customers are just as able, or even more, to engage in politics as well, and take their business elsewhere for a very long time.

This time the Black Bloc and Anarchists have learned that a little breaking of windows, setting fires and scrawling signs on buildings, or destroying banks will get little, if any response—they’ll be back to do even worse. It’s clear that they enjoy creating havoc.

In Seattle, the anarchists turned out to disrupt the World Trade Organization Meeting. They were successful. Now, every time there is something to protest—surprise, there they are again.

In his last hours as president, Barack Obama pardoned 78 federal prisoners and commuted the sentences of 153 others. Most were convicted of drug crimes —selling and trafficking, not being caught with a joint. At least one of them is already back behind bars, being found with a couple of pounds of cocaine. Nice going, Mr. President. Obviously, anyone convicted of a drug crime is convicted because of “racism,” not because of anything they did.

The reason we have laws, courts and prisons is not because we are a bunch of meanies. It’s because the bad behavior of a few hurts ordinary citizens, and we want to prevent more bad behavior, and hopefully teach those who behave badly not to do it again.

Incentives matter—because ordinary people respond to them. Plain human nature.  Wise to keep it in mind.

P.S. Probably not Nordstrom regulars. It’s the rest of us who are.



Planned Protests, Anarchists, Baseball Bats and Hammers by The Elephant's Child

berkeley_riot-1486069721-1414The Riots at the University of California at Berkeley were also not spontaneous. The “Black Bloc” arrived well equipped with metal baseball bats, hammers and clubs, The Black Bloc is not a group, but a tactic adopted by anti-capitalists and anarchists. According to Discover the Networks, they view capitalism as an “intrinsically violent and repressive” system that “cannot be reformed or mitigated.” Who’s intrinsically violent and repressive? The damage is estimated at $100,000 and rumors indicate that the police were told to stand down. Whether campus police or town police, or if true, I don’t know. Clearly the anarchists were there.

Black Bloc is not an organization, but rather a protest tactic employed by anti-capitalists and anarchists. Clad in black helmets, black ski masks, and black garments to conceal their faces and whatever distinctive clothing they may be wearing underneath their dark coverings, Black Bloc radicals make their presence felt by participating in all manner of left-wing demonstrations against free-market capitalism and Western culture; they generally are far outnumbered by fellow protesters who, while like minded, are more traditionally attired. Because the Black Blockers hide their identities, they are often able to engage in criminal behavior—most notably property destruction—with impunity. In instances where they are pursued by police—whom they contemptuously regard as nothing more than “guard dogs for the rich”—fleeing Black Bloc protesters typically shed their dark coverings and blend quietly into the surrounding crowd. When they are not protesting, these activists organize and communicate with one another mainly through Internet chat groups and websites.

The animating core belief of Black Block, as explained in the Green Mountain Anarchist Collective’s Black Bloc Papers, is that “private property—and capitalism, by extension—is intrinsically violent and repressive and cannot be reformed or mitigated.” Lamenting “all the violence committed in the name of private property rights,” this document charges that “corporate private property” in particular “is itself infinitely more violent than any action taken against it.” By this logic, the destruction of a storefront window can be redefined and justified as the laudable creation of “a vent to let some fresh air into the oppressive atmosphere of a retail outlet.”

We had around 300 of them here at the 1999 WTO protests, smashing windows and destroying property of multinational corporations, and helped force the meeting to collapse. They turn up whenever there’s a chance of a good riot,May Day, the Occupy riots.  Seem remarkably ill-informed but really like to uselessly smash things up. Do read the whole thing.

The riots at Berkeley trying to prevent Milo Yiannopoulus from speaking at the event to which he was invited, managed to make his message available to millions on the internet, and promote sales of his book. Nice work! But those weren’t spontaneous either, and Black bloc anarchists smashed up the campus and the streets of Berkeley, and of course banks (capitalists).

The Democrat establishment, the Left, has been gobsmacked. They have been firmly removed from power. They were expecting another, perhaps, eight years of the commanding heights, and they are no longer in control of much of anything. They have no bench, no heroes, and they don’t know what to do. Maxine Waters is a perfect example. She wants President Trump impeached right now. Never mind “the high crimes and misdemeanors bit.” She wants him out. They’re old. They have no new ideas. They don’t know what to do, and their predicament is just beginning to sink in.

I suspect they are doing an outstanding job of discarding all of those Obama voters who, fed up, voted for Trump. Democrats keep whining about the “popular vote.” But it is the popular vote individually in the states that matters, and Trump won those. If California manages to secede, which some of us are devoutly hoping for, Republicans will run the country for years and years to come.



How Do You Deal With A Problem That You Refuse to Recognize? by The Elephant's Child

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One of the British papers remarked recently that people were beginning to refer to themselves as ‘English’ rather than ‘British.’I think that is significant, but I’m not quite sure just what it means. The BREXIT exit is still in a state of uncertainty. PM Theresa May was not in favor of leaving the European Union, but believes that the people have spoken and intends to shepherd the nation’s exit. There’s been a  legal ruling that says she has to get approval from Parliament, but I’m not sure of all that either. Across Europe there is rumbling of populism, but what will happen remains unknown.

In Sweden, sexual assault has increased by 70%. Many are saying that Angela Merkel will not survive another election.  Mark Helprin, writing in the Claremont Review of Books suggests that Europe has constantly shifted between unification and dissolution.

The European Continent and for a time even the British Isles have been partially unified—by the Romans, Charlemagne, Spain, Austria, Louis XIV, Napoleon, Hitler, and the European Union.  Even if it didn’t get very far, the Mongols, Muslims, and Turks gave it the college try, and then there was the papacy. The Romans were champions of endurance, but Napoleon’s stint was as short as he was, the empire of the Thousand Year Reich didn’t make it by 995½ years and the Soviets got only halfway across.

As it evolved from the European Coal and Steel Community into the European Economic Community, and the the Schengenized “E.U. plus,” bureaucracy’s pacific conquest of Europe was different, its weapons the ballot box, rubber stamp , and pen. Furthermore, other than in one civil war, the U.S. had shown that 50 states could unite to great advantage.

Now we have Britain ready to leave the E.U., Scotland and Wales want independence, Belgium and Italy want to break in two and Spain in three parts. Yugoslavia is already is pieces, Hungary may either be expelled or quit. Greece is a complete mess, and Marine Le Pen wants France out, and everybody blames Angela Merkel for inviting the Middle East in.

One need not be hostile to the idea of this union to know the essential flaw in its conception, namely the statist assumption that bureaucratic conceit will prevail over geography, history, tradition and individual attachments, preferences, and loyalties. Greek profligacy and German prudence cannot sleep in the same bed. Good luck to the Frenchman who tells an Englishman how much sugar to put in his tea. Rivers, alpine ranges, marshes, and seas have carved into the landscape physical barriers that for millennia have shaped the economics, histories, and cultures of these disparate nations. Unlike the United States—at its founding English in culture and language, with a pressure-relieving wilderness to the west—Europe as it united was a densely populated grudge-filled continent with scores of major languages and their dialects. Its people had been governed in a hundred different ways , fought countless wars, and inherited dozens of philosophical traditions.

Grand designs don’t work. If government becomes a machine, then everything becomes a machine part. This is where the Left’s dream of addressing human needs with a universal mechanism always fails and fails badly. Humanity cannot be fixed. Human nature may be untidy, but any war against that untidiness is designed to fail.

But the question of the invasion of Europe by Islamist “refugees” can be avoided only so long. As I said, Sweden has had an increase of 70% in sexual assaults. There are No-Go areas everywhere, where even the police are reluctant or refuse to go. Angela Merkel invited the refugees; empathy and kindness were presumed to be the way to welcome them. The hordes have more young men than families, and the young men are of military age. They have been instructed by their religion that European women, as unbelievers, are whores and fair game., and assaults are the rule. Hungary has put up a wall and is refusing to admit refugees. ISIS brags that they have sent their forces to Europe. Many of the refugees refuse to work and expect to be supported.

Refugees seem to be from all over, including Russia and Africa. If the morality you have been taught is empathy and religious freedom, it’s very difficult to turn hostile without feeling like a bad person. Syria is obviously a battleground and unsafe, but Syrian passports are cheap and readily available. Terrorist attacks happen and are deadly. Top that mess off with an unaccountable bureaucracy in Brussels that is not responsive to the fears of the people, and there  you are. What do you do, what do you believe and how do you deal with it? Nobody seems ready to decide, but to just wait and see how things work out.   There will be more terrorist attacks.

Our history is not the same as Europe’s, and our immigrants have mostly wanted to become Americans, learned the language, and in a generation or two become indistinguishable from anyone else. But we have had an administration that refuses to identify terrorism by name. And in his “farewell speech” Obama blithely said that we haven’t had any terrorist attacks here. I’m not sure that that is any less avoidance than Europe’s, and the results of avoidance will be undoubtedly be much the same.

 



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 every 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.

ADDENDUM: Rereading this, I’m not at all sure I made myself clear. I am not railing at data. It is simply a fact of life, and as we use our computers, our choices and comments and what we just looked at becomes data. The search engines on which we rely for information— rely on us for information they can sell to marketers. If you drop by Amazon, as I did, find that they are having a sale on bras, you will be followed around the internet with a choice selection of what you looked at, all day.   As algorithms develop and refine searches, they will only get more intrusive. And we need good data, yet there is always the danger of over-dependence. Our only defense is a highly-developed common sense.

The case of computerized climate science is important. Climate alarmism, the belief that Earth is in danger, that the climate is changing and we have to save mankind has always been completely phony, but there are millions of true believers. The climate has been changing for millions of years. There are warm periods and ice ages. When the thermometers that the computer programs depend on for their data are situated next to air-conditioner vents or where acres of concrete reflect heat onto them, or they back up to a trash burner, the data is not going to be good. Ice cores help to tell about the past, tree rings are not so infallible.Satellite records are excellent, but don’t stretch far into the past.The rise of the oceans is measured in millimeters, not feet and in spite of Michael Mann’s claim that we’ll all be in trouble if the CO2 gets above 350 ppm,  greenhouses happily pump in 1,000 ppm to help their plants grow —you know there is something haywire about their data. Yet because the data is politically popular and governments act upon it, it becomes dangerous.



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.




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