American Elephants


Thomas Sowell Has Some Explaining for Us: by The Elephant's Child

This is an oldie, but worth reviewing for its appropriateness for today. A fascinating interview with Thomas Sowell about “intellectuals”. Do make time to watch the whole thing, It throws a lot of light upon what is happening in our present day, how to consider what’s going on. Whats the matter with intellectuals anyway? Aren’t they smarter than the rest of us? Shouldn’t we listen to them?

So whose opinion matters? See the previous post on “Opinion.

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Found In An Old Stack of Papers by The Elephant's Child

Going through a stack of papers, and I found this brief summary of the Obama presidency, dated May 20, 2009:

“A well-put summary of Obama’s presidency from Heritage:”

By cloaking his domestic agenda in terms of economic recovery, President Obama and his team of liberals have been able to pass the largest spending bill in history, repeal welfare reform, set us on the course to socialized healthcare, advance a very costly energy policy, impose high costs on productive people and enact unprecedented expansions of governmental power. Furthermore, by cutting the defense budget and ordering the closing of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, the President demonstrates his complacency toward national security and undermines our ability to respond to future attacks.

All in just two sentences!

 



Election Results Continue to Trickle In. by The Elephant's Child

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Digesting the election results. Some excellent results, some really dreadful. Here in Washington State, we apparently defeated the “green” carbon tax proposal which was an attempt to start a nationwide bid for a national carbon tax. Our governor tried to get it through the legislature and failed, but I guess nationally they thought this was a “green” state where it would be an easy pass.

We failed to get rid of Senator Maria Cantwell, which was a disappointment. We have two useless senators, both Democrats, and since the Democrats go by seniority, Patty Murray is now in the leadership, which explains a lot. The coastal belt, like in Oregon and California is heavily Blue, and the rest of the more rural part of the state decisively Republican.

You probably saw the press conference at the White House where Cnn’s Jim Acosta tried to take on the President of the United States, and lost his press credentials. Rude, wouldn’t surrender the microphone, struck a White House intern who tried to take the microphone away, and when it was removed kept right on talking and preventing other reporters from their turns. Good riddance. American journalism depends on freedom of the press, but when they present the facts on the ground with their own partisan slant, it deprives the people of the facts they need to understand what is going on.

Anastasia Ocasia Cortez won her election and will serve in the House, which is unfortunate as she doesn’t seem to know anything at all. “Beto” (Robert Francis) O’Rourke lost to Ted Cruz quite properly. Hollywood is dismayed as they fell in love with “Beto” as they liked his looks, and are anxious to see him run for the Presidency. (Which should tell you a lot about Hollywood).

Perhaps you noticed that when the media reported the Senate results, they said Republicans “clung” to the Senate, as if that was just a case of desperate luck.  Lots of races still undecided. Fox News committed a dirty trick, in declaring the Democrats as having won the House before people on the West Coast had even voted.

This election did expose a wide gap in understanding of the Constitution and the reasons its provisions have proved to stand the test of time. Democrats do not understand the basic structure of the government. The House represents the population, the people of the states. The Senate represents the States. Each state gets two Senators, without reference to population numbers. The least populous State gets the same vote as the most populous.

Democrats just discovered that when Hillary won the popular vote and lost the election because of the structure of the electoral college which is designed to prevent the populous states from bullying the little states with it’s population size. Which is a very good thing. The most populous states are badly run, and everyone is fleeing to locales with lower taxes, lower crime, lower debt and fewer sanctuary cities.



Public Opinion Isn’t What Its Cracked-Up to Be by The Elephant's Child

Thomas Jefferson said that our democracy rests on a “decent respect to the opinions of mankind” In a long essay Democracy and its Discontents: Reflections on Everyday America, (1971), Daniel Boorstin,  the late Librarian of Congress suggests that “we suffer from a disease different from that which any society before us has suffered. I call it “overcommunication.”

He suggests that we could actually define the rise of civilization as the rise of communication, and sharing of information and knowledge. This is called the information age, and so it is. Communicate means to impart information, knowledge or the like, to impart or convey knowledge of or inform a person of, to tell. But there is an indispensable counterpart, the right to listen – or not to listen – begins to disappear. I am sitting in front of my computer monitor, listening on Tune-in Radio to a local radio station because on the actual radio (which is turned off) there is too much static. I am writing as I listen, but can search for a bit of information I lack, turn to any one of dozens of websites for other opinion or information.

Daniel Boorstin goes on to suggest that we have too much communication, too many opinions, and the good manners that did, or at least should, accompany opinion has gone a-glimmering.You only have to read the comments section on any popular website. It’s not just good manners that have disappeared. Comments are vulgar, ugly, scatological and often ungrammatical, and give opinion a bad name. .

The progress of civilization depends on the ability of people to develop a more self-controlled attitude about what they say – and how, when and where. In the early days, there was a town crier, who called out the important news as he walked around the town. Riders brought the news of an election – days after it happened, depending on how big and important your town was. The news from England in the 1700’s probably took about 6 months. Think the invention of the steam engine, the Panama Canal, the Pony Express, canals, railroads, the telegraph, the telephone, photography. I saw a brief video yesterday of President Trump talking to reporters in the Oval Office. A huge mob of people with microphones on long poles and cameras — and think of all the inventions involved in that brief occasion that was brought across the continent to my desk in the Pacific Northwest, shortly after it actually happened.

Boorstin is right, there is too much opinion, you can’t get away from it. The websites that offer news offer opinions not just from those who make the news and those who record it and disseminate it, but opinions from people who have the opportunity to express their opinions because they are “celebrities”, which means that we know their names because they did something to get their name known, like sing, or tell jokes, or act on television or on the screen. (This is a personal bugaboo.) I don’t think that having their names made public, whether we recognize it or not, qualifies them to have their opinions listened to – nor does the content of their opinions qualify as “news.” So Boorstin is absolutely correct there is way too much opinion, and you can’t get away from it. I would like to know what is happening without the intrusion of Cher, or any of the other formerly famous who cannot wait to get their opinions out there.

It’s opinion that is the problem. Opinion was once something personal, thought (as Boorstin says, “Opinions then, are distinguished by the strength with which they are held rather than the authenticity with which their conclusions  are demonstrable.”) And we have reached the point where there is Big Opinion, or as it is usually called, Public Opinion. Public Opinion is more important and somehow more respectable than private opinion. We have Opinion Leaders, Opinion Writers, huge polling businesses to tally Public Opinion. Opinion has moved from something that should be kept to yourself, to a controlling voice in our society.



Oddly, This Is What The Democrats Oppose! Keep That in Mind by The Elephant's Child

The one identity we’re not encouraged to trumpet is the one that enables us to trumpet all the others, our identity as citizens of a very particular kind of society, built on the rule of law, property rights, freedom of expression, and the universal franchise.……………………………..

Mark Steyn: “The Silver Virus: The West’s Anti-Westernism:”.The New Criterion: Feb. ’02

In the Western myth, many have found exactly what they were looking for. Significantly, the images and the simple story of the western legend first caught on in the early nineteenth century, those years when the young Republic, like a proud and gawky adolescent was trying to decide who and what it was. This myth has been around ever since, simply because it has always done its job.
The legend is rooted in a story with which just about anyone can identify. It tells what happened when ordinary people moved into an extraordinary land. Often enough they overcame the challenges that they met there, but the real point of the story is not what happened to the land, but what happened to the people. They were changed, the legend insists—transformed, reborn. And they were better for it. The ordeal in the wilderness created the American, we believe, free-thinking, open, tough, optimistic, self-reliant—the litany goes on and on. The western hero has embodied these virtues and this message. He is us, only a little bigger, tougher, braver. From James Fenimore Cooper to John Wayne, whenever someone has told us this story and has done it well, we have clapped and made him rich.

………………Robert  G. Athearn: The Mythic West: University Press of Kansas. 1986

The framework that the Founders devised to unite a baker’s dozen of small homogeneous colonies on the Atlantic coast proved strong enough to expand across a continent and halfway round the globe to Hawaii. That’s why the British have successfully exported Westminster constitutions to Belize, Papua New Guinea, and India, the world’s largest democracy, mainly Hindu but with a minority population of 150 million Muslims (that’s some minority) who to their credit have no interest in the fetid swamp of militant Islamism in which so many of their co-religionists elsewhere are festering. Of the world’s fifty most free nations, half were once ruled by Britain. That’s the sort of thing most countries would boast about, not teach in schools as a shameful legacy of oppression.
……………………………………………………………………………………Mark Steyn: Ibid

Our county was not predestined to prosper, it did so through choices made at its Founding and renewed every generation since: the choices of freedom over rule, property over collectivization, the liberty of the individual human spirit over the dictates of the enlightened few. We should be thankful for the wisdom of our ancestors in creating this heritage, and mindful of our stewardship as we are called to carry forward this idea called America.…………………………

……………………………James S. Robbins: “Pilgrim Parable” NRO, November 27, 2002



The Democrats Insist This Election Is About Trump by The Elephant's Child

Everything in the “news” today seems to be speculation about the mid-term elections. Nobody knows anything, including the polls. (recall last election)
The most interesting comment I have seen came from Mark Levin, who asked: “Aren’t you getting tired of being called Nazis?” Yes I am. See the previous post on the degradation and politicization of language.

No, Donald Trump is not a Nazi. To the extent to which he is “authoritarian,” that’s why we have presidents – to get things done. And he’s done a pretty impressive bunch of things: When President Trump was elected, Nov. 8th 2016, the DOW stood at 18,332 and has moved up to 26,964. During President Trump’s first year in office, 2017, the DOW has closed at new record all-time highs – 103 times.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 250,000 new jobs were created in October. More people are working in the US than ever before and unemployment is at 50 year lows. In Trump’s first two years, the economy has gained over 4.3 million jobs. If you recall, President Obama said that the economy could not grow at a rate greater than 2% – It was a new era and we just had to get used to it.

The Washington Examiner lists 289 accomplishments in just 20 months. All of which the Democrats hate. But the tax cuts and relief from burdensome regulations have left businesses free to expand, build, improve and hire. People get the courage to act on their ideas and dreams, and introduce new products. I guess that since these were done by the hated Trump, all are derided as evil or wrong, and would be instantly eliminated by the Democrats.

African-American, Hispanic, and Asian-American unemployment rates have reached record lows. Women’s unemployment is at the lowest rate in nearly 65 years.

For all that, President Trump has been called a Fascist, Nazi, Racist, Anti-Semite (his daughter, son in law, and their children are all Jewish), and until he was elected President – nobody ever called him a racist. It’s not just that the insults are misplaced, but that they are so dumb. There are true-believers in the horrors of Climate Change (think nutty Tom Steyer) who are sure that getting us out of the Paris Climate Accords means that the planet will die next month or something, but President Trump was right. It was simply a plan to transfer as much American money to Africa as possible, and the goal of “climate change” is not to keep the planet from warming, but to destroy Capitalism.

Do look at the long accomplishment list.  As they said, It’s 20 months of promise-keeping. Oddly, the Democrats, always right on top of things, have insisted that this mid-term election should be a referendum on Trump, even though he is not on the ballot.

ADDENDUM: I should add that the reason the Democrats have insisted that this election should be about Trump, is because they are sure that hating Trump and all his accomplishments is a universal belief amongst all  but the stupidest Deplorables, and because as David Gerlernter said “Have you noticed that the Democrats have no issues?” And they don’t – other than raising taxes promptly and eliminating all the other useful things Trump has done. They really and truly just don’t understand basic economics.



Weaponized Words: Language is Today’s Disruptive Technology by The Elephant's Child
pexels-photo-1309899Charles Hill explains that language is arguably the most fundamental human tool. In history, at certain times, when language has undergone major changes, it has disrupted the world order. This is such a time.

“A language revolution is under way, propelled by an eruption of electronic communication technologies that, while enhancing productivity, are also creating social and political chaos. The e-revolution in communication is challenging, even threatening, the conduct of responsible governance. Thanks to digital technologies, marginal sociopaths are being empowered to organize and act collectively as never before; dictatorial regimes are perfecting powerful tools to monitor and suppress entire populations; and instantaneous popular judgments on political issues are beginning to overwhelm representative government as designed by the founders to avoid the chaos-producing “direct” democracy of premodern societies. …

Today’s social media distort this relationship. Instant communication by way of platforms such as Twitter makes it possible for individuals to immediately express the slightest emotionally disruptive and damaging reaction to events or ideas to a worldwide audience. Opinions and private outbursts once perceived as self-harmful blunders, resolved by improving one’s repressive subconscious mechanisms, are now instantly exposed to multitudes in a permanent form. Civilization depends upon the time and ability to contain such eruptions; the “discontents” created by acts of self-control are the price of civil society. Were every discontent expressed, the public sphere would collapse as “all communication, all the time,instantly produces a surrounding effect. As the astute columnist Peggy Noonan wrote, we are agitating and exciting the unstable sector of the population, a sector that increasingly grows larger, a Pandora’s box of once-subconscious partisan venom breaking open as no one becomes able to suppress the slightest discontent.

As the individual is “liberated” by the ability to promulgate unconstrained feelings in every direction, the governing regimes of the world are gaining new powers of surveillance, intrusion, and control over their populations. The 2011 “Arab spring” uprisings were considered at first to be made possible by the new language-spreading technologies in every young person’s hand; it was widely agreed, at the time, that such tools of expression would be beyond the abilities of dictators to control. Such an assumption was foolhardy; the Arab spring was crushed in a few short months as the old powers—colonels, hereditary monarchs, strong-armed clans with puppet “parliaments”—regained control even as they were assaulted by even more ideologically autocratic radicals claiming religious dominion.

“For the rest of this essay, go here.

Strange times. We are already seeing the dictatorial regime in China increasingly controlling the lives of ordinary citizens. And here at home we are seeing the journalism profession being transformed by partisan politics into something unrecognizable as a profession or a purveyor of truth. Our universities are indoctrinating rather than educating our children.




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