American Elephants


A Complete and Unverifiable Explanation of Most Everything by The Elephant's Child

Are you paying attention to the news? It is difficult. James Comey has been unjustly fired, Comey deserved to be fired. Comey kept memos of his conversations. Comey is very close  to Senator Schumer. Comey refuses to testify before Congress. Former FBI Director Robert Mueller will head the investigation into Russia ties. Robert Mueller and Comey are old friends. Robert Mueller is widely respected.

The storm has been gathering for more than a week. It started when Trump impetuously fired the FBI director, James Comey, claiming at first that he did so on the advice of Rosenstein. Then the president changed his story and told NBC News that he was going to fire Comey anyway and that part of this was because the bureau’s Russia investigation was dragging on.

The Comey camp soon struck back. First his allies leaked that Trump had asked Comey for his loyalty back in January over dinner. Then in a more damaging story, the New York Times reported on a memo Comey had written to record a conversation in which Trump asked him to drop the investigation into Michael Flynn, the national security adviser Trump fired after three weeks on the job.

To state the obvious, all of this made Trump look like he had something to hide. And it did not take long for Democrats to seize on this theme, mounting a campaign for a special counsel as a condition to approve the next FBI director.

If you read all that or the equivalent, and there is lots of equivalent out there, you know no more than you did before you started reading. Here’s The American Conservative:

America is in crisis. It is a crisis of greater magnitude than any the country has faced in its history, with the exception of the Civil War. It is a crisis long in the making—and likely to be with us long into the future. It is a crisis so thoroughly rooted in the American polity that it’s difficult to see how it can be resolved in any kind of smooth or even peaceful way. Looking to the future from this particular point in time, just about every possible course of action appears certain to deepen the crisis.

What is it? Some believe it stems specifically from the election of Donald Trump, a man supremely unfit for the presidency, and will abate when he can be removed from office. These people are right about one thing: Trump is supremely unfit for his White House job. But that isn’t the central crisis; it is merely a symptom of it, though it seems increasingly to be reaching crisis proportions of its own.

The President who is so unfit for the presidency has assembled the most impressive national security team, perhaps since Eisenhower: James Mattis, John Kelly, H.R. McMaster,  Nikki Haley. His appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court is outstanding. Executive orders have begun the task of whittling down the abusive powers of the rogue EPA.  Illegal immigration is reportedly down around 70%. He’s working to simplify the tax code and business regulation to boost the private sector.His cabinet appointments are outstanding. Today he is leaving on a trip to meet some of the heads of state of our allies and some who are not. He has been criticized for meeting with Erdogan, and Abbas, yet he clearly wants to get a feel for who these people are, rather than just read the intelligence dossiers.

Trump is described as crude, uncouth — and he tweets. Democrats, in the meantime, seem unable to utter a simple sentence without the F-word or the S-word. They suggest in the crudest way incest, that Melania Trump was of low morals, attack the Trump children, late night “comics” compete to see who can be most vulgar, and who can do the most repellent imitation. Maxine Waters waffles between demanding Trump’s impeachment, being confident that she can turn up an impeachable offenses and denying that she ever asked for his impeachment.

Trump promised to deport criminal aliens, so many sanctuary cities have redoubled their efforts to protect illegal immigrants.

The policy has evolved into active non-cooperation with federal law enforcement, to the extent that Chicago, San Francisco, and New York City, for example, will not comply with requests to detain illegal immigrants unless they have recently been convicted of a serious crime and a judicial warrant accompanies the request. Federal immigration authorities have been banned from operating within municipal jails, and sanctuary cities will not expend any resources in assisting these agents.

Despite these efforts, it has not been possible for cities to protect their illegal aliens from deportation to the extent that sanctuary advocates demand. Cities cannot forbid federal officers from arresting criminal aliens in their homes, on the streets, or in courthouses. The best way to deter possible deportation, sanctuary advocates contend, is to limit interactions between illegal immigrants and the criminal-justice system, not in the traditional way—by obeying the law—but rather, by not enforcing the law. If there are no arrests, then there is no criminal record to base deportation orders on.

And so it goes. Somehow it is Donald Trump who is uncouth, not the real president, illegal, impeachable, unfit for office, yet he seems to be accomplishing quite a lot. And the once-respected fourth estate labors on enlightening and elucidating the affairs of the nation and the world, or whatever it is that they are doing, And we are all living in some dystopian alternate universe aren’t we?  It’s all very confusing.

 



Misconceptions About Wind: Basic Arithmetic by The Elephant's Child

Here’s the headline from an article in the Spectator, dated May 13: “Wind turbines are neither clean nor green and they provide zero global energy” with the subhead “We urgently need to stop the ecological posturing and invest in gas and nuclear.” The post is from Matt Ridley.

The Global Wind Energy Council recently released its latest report, excitedly boasting that ‘the proliferation of wind energy into the global power market continues at a furious pace, after it was revealed that more than 54 gigawatts of clean renewable wind power was installed across the global market last year’.

You may have got the impression from announcements like that, and from the obligatory pictures of wind turbines in any BBC story or airport advert about energy, that wind power is making a big contribution to world energy today. You would be wrong. Its contribution is still, after decades — nay centuries — of development, trivial to the point of irrelevance.

Here’s a quiz; no conferring. To the nearest whole number, what percentage of the world’s energy consumption was supplied by wind power in 2014, the last year for which there are reliable figures? Was it 20 per cent, 10 per cent or 5 per cent? None of the above: it was 0 per cent. That is to say, to the nearest whole number, there is still no wind power on Earth.

Basic math. World energy demand has been growing about two percent a year for nearly 40 years. Between 2012 and 2014 it grew, according to International Energy agency data, just under 2,000 terawatt-hours. If all that had to be supplied by wind turbines—just that and no more—how many new turbines would have to be built? Nearly 350,000. A two-megawatt turbine can produce about 0.005 terawatt-hours per annum. That’s 1½ times as many as have been built in the world since governments first started subsidizing them with taxpayer money.

Wind farms typically have a density of about 50 acres per megawatt, at that density, that many turbines would need a land area larger than the entire British Isles. In 50 years, if we kept this up, we would have covered a land area the size of Russia. But there’s more, hidden pollution, rare earths, the materials required, how turbines are made. Do read the whole article.  Matt Ridley is always worth our attention.

It just turns out to be that wind and solar are essentially very costly and extremely useless pursuits. Aside from the intermittency problem, the arithmetic just doesn’t work. Lot of people  have made some big money on the subsidies though.



The American Left and the American Right: Is It War? by The Elephant's Child

In some ways, it’s really quite amazing that we can talk to our progressive friends. We don’t speak the same language and we definitely don’t define words in the same way.

They speak emotion and future and purification of the human race, we speak of Constitution and laws, economics, innovation and opportunity. They talk endlessly about fairness and diversity. But we don’t mean the same thing, for example, by diversity. For the left it means skin color, ethnicity, country of origin—surface things. Conservatives are interested in diversity of ideas, interests, habits and history, hopes and dreams. The left is terminally interested in gender, to the disadvantage of everyone, and all of its variations which must be noted, celebrated and paraded and now joined forever in shared bathrooms. Conservatives recognize two genders descended from Adam and Eve with the same characteristics those two started with. Conservatives celebrate and respect family. The left tries to destroy it.

There are remarkable numbers of useless phrases in circulation: clean energy, sustainable development, renewable energy, fairness, income inequality, normative framework, undocumented citizens and of course multiculturalism — the NYT recently came up with “incorrect promise.” Some of these constructions are meant to change minds and actions.

Grocery stores celebrate all thing organic,which means quite specifically that they must be grown and fertilized with manure, not chemicals.  Technically it’s all nitrogen, but real animal poop has the extra advantage of possibly infecting you with e-coli. Consider how it is supposed to effect the quality of the sheets for your bed if the cotton from which they were woven was fertilized with steer manure? Organic is pure bunk, and costs about 30% more.

College students are so sensitive to language that they cannot bear to hear ideas or thoughts expressed which disagree with their own ideas.  Free speech is a term that has specific First Amendment meaning for Conservatives, but I’m unclear about just what the Left thinks it means.

The most recent idiocy is perhaps cultural appropriation, which became a big deal on some campus with the idea that large hoop earrings were a cultural appropriation, and should be rejected. This is perhaps the silliest idea they have come up with. Bruce Bawer said it nicely:

For two centuries, America accomplished something that should have previously seemed impossible: the creation of a brand new national identity by individuals who, forsaking old loyalties and joining to make new lives melted away ethnic differences. Hector St. John Crevecour (Letters from an American Farmer) described Americans as “a new race of men” a race that paradoxically had nothing to do with race.” In 1944, Gunnar Myrdal marveled at the fact that Americans of every ethnicity, religion and color shared a more “explicitly expressed system of general  ideals” than the people of any other country in the Western world.”

Lots of cultural appropriation — and good for us.



Sun and Wind and Rainbows and Magic Do Not Power the Planet by The Elephant's Child

A post I wrote back in 2013 is getting another round of attention, as it does now and then. I wrote about abandoned wind turbines, and the misguided notion that wind and sun are free, therefore renewable energy—and to be endlessly subsidized as our most desirable source of power. I hasten to add that I am not a scientist nor do I have any pretense of being one. I was an English major at a time and in a college where the pursuit of knowledge and the critical examination of sources were considered essential.

But I also grew up in the mountains of Idaho on 400 acres with a river running through it, and spent most of my time, winter and summer, outdoors. We had winters with 5′ of snow and winters that were fairly mild. Flood, forest fires, lightning strikes, cougar, bear, lynx and woodrats. (I’m a deadly shot on woodrats. They gather up the cotton from cottonwood trees, store it in the attic of the woodshed and then pee all over it, and have their babies there.) You don’t live outdoors for years interacting with weather, and get all panicky about a few degrees warmer or cooler.

Science is complicated. I just read about a cave discovered in Mexico, a half a mile down, so hot that scientists can only stay for a few minutes, where there are microbes trapped in crystals that could be 50,000 years old, living on minerals like iron and manganese. Lots left on Earth for us to discover yet, diseases to conquer, unknown territory, they are discovering new species every year. The world economy runs on some form of electric power, and not just for our convenience, light and heat. Transportation, manufacturing, business and government are dependent on electricity and their needs are growing constantly, so the more power we need.

People are frightened by nuclear power after the horrific catastrophe in Japan, and the nuclear accident in Russia. We have dams on most of our major rivers, and environmentalists long for free wild rivers. Power good, but dams bad. Environmentalists say that coal, oil and natural gas are all evil, and should “stay in the ground where they belong.” So it’s unsurprising that there is a fetish for energy from the wind and the sun. Surely with our advanced modern technology we can invent wind turbines and solar arrays to harness the free energy of the wind and the sun. Well, no, no we can’t. Or we can, if we’re content to live in extreme poverty.

The wind is terminally, fatally intermittent. When the wind blows, which is not most of the time, it blows in gusts and wafts or gales. What you need is a steady stream of wind and then you get “capacity,” which is what the manufactures of the turbines promise when they are extolling the virtues of wind. Never happens. In winter, when you are freezing, the wind is apt to not blow at all, and the turbines don’t turn. They have already tried most of the really windy places —Altamont Pass in California, the tip of the Hawaiian Islands, they’ve even replaced a lot of the idle turbines in my 2013 post, so now they are moving offshore. There’s a big offshore farm coming online off our East coast shortly. Offshore turbines take a lot more punishment from saltwater and weather. The life of an onshore turbine is 20 years at best, offshore is a lot less.

The sun, on the other hand, is too diffuse. For real power you need really hot sun bearing down, in a cloudless sky. How many cloudless, sunny days do you get? This is the Northwest, where we get rain all the time, and plenty of clouds. The sun also has a habit of sinking beneath the horizon at night, and even more so in the short days of winter. Elon Musk keeps promising battery arrays to take care of that, but it certainly hasn’t happened yet, and his solar farms haven’t been in the news much. Wind turbines have a nasty habit of chopping up bats and birds by the hundreds, birds of prey as well. What that does to our insect population and rodent population I don’t know, but it doesn’t bode well for malaria and Zika. and other disease.

Both of these technologies demand more and more land each year as the need for more and more energy increases, land in quantities simply unavailable.  Look for Robert Bryce’s book: Smaller, Faster, Lighter, Denser, Cheaper. It’s a clear, simple explanation of why wind and solar will remain interesting, but are not a major source of power except in the remote places where any source of power, however limited,  is a bounty.



Here’s the Response to the True Believers’ Faith in Elite Control by The Elephant's Child

http://wonderfulloaf.org/

This is a perfectly charming video, beautifully illustrated, of a poem by economist Russ Roberts explaining how things work in the story of a wonderful loaf of bread. The perfect answer to the depressing video below of the climate march. Who knew that economists could write poems?

Thanks to Don Boudreaux of Cafe Hayek,



American Indians Are Still Getting a Raw Deal by The Elephant's Child

Keep this in mind when considering health care. The federal government is incapable of doing good health care (except for Congress) and the Indian Health Service is a prime example, along with the VA.



What the Heck is “Hate Speech” Anyway? by The Elephant's Child

I do worry rather a lot about language, perhaps because I was an English major. More correctly, because the Left attempts to control the dialogue by changing the meaning of words. Immigration or immigrant is one example, by conflating the term with illegal immigrant, illegal alien, (both perfectly acceptable and accurate terms) refugees (and how that word is defined). But I have posed this question before.

The more problematic case of language is much more difficult.  The words are “hate speech.” Exactly what is hate speech? From the current dialogue, it is apparently any speech that you don’t agree with. Clearly that is an impossible definition, yet that is the basic problem in college campuses all across the country.

Students have been taught that they do not have to listen to speech that offends their delicate sensibilities by not agreeing with their preconceived ideas. Enough professors have spoken out in the media to indicate their despair that the students they are expected to teach—simply don’t know anything. They are unfamiliar with the most basic history, geography, civics and science. Not the hard stuff. They don’t know who won the Civil War. They don’t know who we fought in the Revolution. I could go on at length, but just those two missing facts summarize the situation fairly well.

Headlines from the battle: “Student activists demand college ‘take action’ against conservative journalists.” American Thinker.  “Students claim Objective ‘Truth’ is a ‘White Supremacist Myth,”Breitbart. “Why Colleges Have a Right to Reject Hateful Speakers Like Ann Coulter” New Republic.  “It’s Time to Crush Campus Censorship” National Review, “Those ‘Snowflakes’ Have Chilling Effects Even Beyond the Campus” WSJ, “On Political Correctness” The American Scholar  “Report: Women’s and gender studies courses have increased 300% since 1990” The College Fix  “College makes it easier to graduate by requiring students to learn less: The College Fix.  Those are just a few of dozens.

Middlebury has become famous for rioting to refuse to listen to Dr. Charles Murray, a noted social scientist.  Claremont students refused to hear Heather MacDonald. It was very clear that the students had no idea whatsoever what the speakers represented, or what they might say. In the case of Dr. Murray, the Southern Poverty Law Center (a far-left fringe group made false claims about Dr. Murray). In the case of Heather MacDonald, it was “Black Lives Matter” giving a completely false impression of what she might say. Sad. The kids in both cases would have profited from and learned something valuable from the speeches.

The students are wrapped up in the idea that they should not have to listen to anyone with whom they might disagree, and completely ignorant of the facts. The fault lies with faculty and administration who should have packed up the offenders the following morning and sent them home to perhaps be admitted the following semester — if they had learned anything. That’s what happened to friends of mine for significantly lesser offenses, but that was a long time ago.

You see how the words “hate speech” have corrupted the situation. There is no such thing as hate speech. There are inflammatory words, there is incitement to riot,  there’s shouting ‘fire’ in a crowded theater, but I submit there is no such thing as hate speech. We are watching daily, people thrown in prison, sentenced to hard labor for 15 or 20 years, as the fat junior Kim just did to two Americans, as happens throughout the Middle East — and some people can’t get it through their heads that the Freedom of Speech guaranteed to us by the Constitution matters. There aren’t all that many places in the world where you can’t be jailed for speaking your mind. In a moment in time when the language out there (do you read the comments?) has been vile, insulting, vulgar, and just plain offensive. Well, we do live in interesting times.

ADDENDUM: Over at the Federalist, John Daniel Davidson also wrote about Hate Speech, and wrote even more thoroughly about what it is and isn’t, and it’s very well done. The photo at the top of his post is not of college students, but of older folks with pre-printed signs from the “antiwar committee” urging viewers to “Stop the War on Muslims at Home and Abroad,” “Unite Against Islamophobia,” “End Racism,” and “Stop Racism, Islamophobia and War!” It should be observed that there is no war on Muslims, no such thing as Islamophobia, our problems with radical Islam have to do with their war on the West, their habit of chopping off heads, throwing people off of tall buildings, or burning them alive if we don’t submit to their radical religion. We have not yet declared war, since Obama abruptly pulled the troops out of a hard-won peaceful Iraq, but he has left a nuclear North Korea and a nuclear Iran for his successor to deal with. Again the Federalist photo is a good example of using language inaccurately to make their point, which thanks to our Constitution, they are completely free to do. But we are also completely free to make fun of them.




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