American Elephants


Globalization: The Dream and the Nightmare by The Elephant's Child

climate-change

Here I was, posting Jonathan Haidt’s commentary on Globalization, and I turned to American Greatness, and conveniently, there was Victor Davis Hanson, writing even more extensively about globalization.

After World War II, only the United States possessed the capital, the military, freedom, and the international good will to arrest the spread of global Stalinism. To save the fragile postwar West, America was soon willing to rebuild and rearm war-torn former democracies. Over seven decades, it intervened in proxy wars against Soviet and Chinese clients, and radical rogue regimes. It accepted asymmetrical and unfavorable trade as the price of leading and saving the West. America became the sole patron for dozens of needy clients—with no time limit on such asymmetry.

Yet what would become the globalized project was predicated on lots of flawed, but unquestioned assumptions:

The great wealth and power of the United States was limitless. It alone could afford to subsidize other nations. Any commercial or military wound was always considered superficial and well worth the cost of protecting the civilized order.

Only by piling up huge surpluses with the United States and avoiding costly defense expenditure through American military subsidies, could the shattered nations of Asia and Europe supposedly regain their security, prosperity and freedom. There was no shelf life on such dependencies.

Do read the whole thing. This is a major contention point with the Democrats in their current mental and moral breakdown. If we are going to fight back, we have to know what we are talking about.

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Common Sense is Not Anywhere as Common as Assumed by The Elephant's Child

Mitch Daniels, President of Purdue University, had an excellent article in the Washington Post last Wednesday about GMO foods. The campaign against GMO foods he says, is the kind of foolishness that only rich societies can afford to indulge.

Of the several claims of “anti-science” that clutter our national debates these days, none can be more flagrantly clear than the campaign against modern agricultural technology, most specifically the use of molecular techniques to create genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Here, there are no credibly conflicting studies, no arguments about the validity of computer models, no disruption of an ecosystem nor any adverse human health or even digestive problems, after 5 billion acres have been cultivated cumulatively and trillions of meals consumed.

And yet a concerted, deep-pockets campaign, as relentless as it is baseless, has persuaded a high percentage of Americans and Europeans to avoid GMO products, and to pay premium prices for “non-GMO” or “organic” foods that may in some cases be less safe and less nutritious. Thank goodness the toothpaste makers of the past weren’t cowed so easily; the tubes would have said “No fluoride inside!” and we’d all have many more cavities.

The article is an excellent plea for a little common sense. Mitch Daniels points out that suggesting that the poor in developing countries should fear GMO foods is not just wrong, but immoral. The story of the Green Revolution and the work of Norman Borlaug who should be one of the great heroes of the world should be taught in school.  Golden Rice is a variety of rice (Oryza sativa)  produced through genetic engineering (there are the ‘scary’ words) to biosynthesize beta-carotene in the edible parts of rice. It is intended to produce a fortified food to be grown and consumed in areas where there is a shortage of dietary vitamin A, a deficiency which is estimated to kill 670,000 children under the age of 5 each year.

This is a broad problem of political and scientific ignorance. Ilya Somin of the Volokh Conspiracy added his views on the problem.He links to Reason science writer Ron Bailey and William Saletan of Slate. The basic problem of ignorance is heightened by the very words “genetically engineered” which sound, to the ignorant, really scary. Ilya Somin notes that a 2012 National Science  Foundation survey found that about 25% of Americans don’t know that the Earth revolves around the sun rather than visa versa. There’s a lot about basic knowledge in Ilya Somin’s article that certainly suggests that we have a major problem with our schools. Do read that whole thing too.

I would suggest though, that much of the problem exists because of our grocery stores. Food producers are concerned with their marketing, and inclined to cater to any possible fears of the consumer. Hence you have “low sodium” products, “sugar-free,” “low-fat,” and “No GMO products” among others on every can or carton in the store. If everyone is telling you that GMO is a bad thing, pretty soon you’ll start to believe it.

Another article by Ilya Somin explains the problem of mandatory government warnings where the state of Florida required producers of skim milk that does not contain added vitamins to label it as “imitation milk” which it of course is not. The European Union has imposed mandatory labeling of GMO foods, even though there are no dangers involved. Read the comments on Mitch Daniels’ fine essay. You might wonder if perhaps Leftism is just a cult.



Even The Democrats Should Be A Little Grateful by The Elephant's Child


Democrats were quite sure that by now we would be mired in a global recession, with the end of the world just around the corner. Tom Steyer is still pursing his attempts to impeach Donald Trump, sure that he has committed some high crime, but nobody has found one just yet.

Americans have a lot to be grateful for, though Democrats aren’t much on gratitude either. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the NASDAQ and S&P 500 have been hitting one new record high after another. The Wilshire 5000 Index says that some $3.4 trillion in new wealth has been created since the Inauguration, and $5.4 trillion since President Trump’s election.  Some global recession! Business is confident again.

In the second quarter, the real GDP hit 3.1 percent increase, and 3.0 in the third quarter, and the New York Federal Reserve predicts that the 4th quarter output will expand by 3.8 percent. The average feeble GD growth in the Obama years was 1.5 percent. Even the IMF expects the global GDP to rise by 3.5 percent this year.

Unemployment is at 4.1 percent—a 17-year low.  New unemployment claims were the lowest since 1974. American companies are expanding their operations here instead of shipping jobs overseas. Foreign firms are planning new facilities and creating jobs here. Taiwan’s Foxconn will spend $10 billion on a new electronics plant in Wisconsin, (3000 employees) and Beijing has agreed to invest $84 billion in new energy projects in West Virginia.

The Keystone XL pipeline and the Dakota Access Pipeline are under construction with 42,000 jobs to be created.  The War on Coal is gone. The fake Paris Climate Accords are over. Obama’s Clean Power Plan,  $993 billion waste of economic sabotage is gone. For every new regulation from the Trump administration, 16 unnecessary regulations are gone.

President Trump signed legislation that enabled the Department of Veterans Affairs to fire incompetent or corrupt officials. So far, the VA has sacked more than 500, suspended 200 and demoted 33. He has also endorsed bills that give vets a greater choice in their own health care.

These numbers come from an essay by Deroy Murdock in National Review just before Thanksgiving, suggesting that there truly is quite a bit to be thankful for. It is certainly not Leftist big government, nor conservative nattering over every tick of the tax bill. It’s plain, common sense middle-of-the-road centrist progress. There’s lots more as well.

The Justice Department is investigating Harvard University for possibly discriminating against Americans of Asian descent who argue that they are being rejected in favor of less qualified applicants of other ethnicities. And good for the Justice Department.

President Trump has appointed a commission to investigate the glitches in our entire system of casting ballots and how it can be made tamper-proof. VP Pence chairs the effort. Does that put an end to the Democracy Alliance’s Secretary of State Project? And there is Obama’s announced effort to work with Eric Holder to prevent any Republican Gerrymandering: of electoral districts. I think it was Judicial Watch that estimated there were 1,100,000 illegal aliens who voted for Hillary.

ICE has arrested 97,482 illegal aliens as of October 27. Among those arrested 70 percent were convicted criminals. In an international operation from September to November 267 members of the deadly immigrant gang MS-13 have been arrested. Gang members are largely from El Salvador, with some from Honduras and Mexico.

That sounds like a remarkable amount of progress to me.



The First Year of the Battle by The Elephant's Child

Much is being made of the fact this is the one year anniversary of Donald Trump’s election to the presidency of the United States. And a very strange year it has been.

At the website American Greatness (recommended) Scott Gerber, a law professor at Ohio Northern University, has reviewed the past year. The liberal media began calling for the undermining of Trump’s presidency from almost the moment he was elected. President Trump frequently refers to the daily barrage of attacks as a “witch hunt”— and it has been. I knew it was bad, but Dr. Gerber puts it all together into a fascinating but damning essay. Do read the whole thing.

The liberal media began calling for the undermining of Trump’s presidency from almost the moment he was elected. For example, on November 17, 2016, Paul Waldman opined in the Washington Post that President-elect Trump “shouldn’t ever be treated like an ordinary president with whom Democrats just have some substantive disagreements,” while Dahlia Lithwick and David S. Cohen insisted in the New York Times on December 14, “As Monday’s Electoral College vote approaches, Democrats should be fighting tooth and nail.”

With respect to the Electoral College itself, Theodore G. Venetoulis proclaimed in the Baltimore Sun that it was “the electors’ duty” to reject Trump and let the U.S. House of Representatives pick the president.

For the Left, their entire reason for existence is being in control. From being in charge, all blessings flow:  big donations, graft, obsequious attendants, attention of the media, fame, fortune, publisher’s willing to publish, television appearances, large gifts, big salaries, recognition, even the possibility of making the history books, wealth and position. And the reason for all those ‘blessings’ is their stated desire to make everybody more equal.  And thus you are supposed to believe their cries to soak the rich, and succor the poor in making the bounty of America more available to all. Uh huh.

The Left has always treated Republican presidents badly. Eisenhower, in spite of winning a rather large war in Europe, was supposed to be not very bright man from Kansas who was more interested in golf than world events. And everyone knows about Nixon.  Ronald Reagan was a minor movie star, not very bright, and shockingly inept on the world stage, embarrassing in his meetings with Gorbachev. Both Bushes got the full treatment, in spite of the fact that the senior President Bush was a real war hero. George W. got us into an unnecessary war, ran it badly, “Bush lied,people died”, and although there weren’t any nukes, there were vast quantities of poison gasses. But everybody was tortured at Gitmo, and look how badly he performed with Hurricane Katrina. Iraq was a success until Obama snatched defeat from the path of victory. Democrats have always been rotten, but this time they have a young, ill-informed and passionately partisan media, easy to manipulate, as Ben Rhodes has told us.

President Donald Trump is doing a pretty remarkable job. The market is reaching new all-time highs, unemployment is low, consumer confidence is soaring, the cabinet is outstanding and getting important things done (which the Left really hates). His current Asian tour is impressive. His judicial nominees are outstanding, if the Senate will just get busy and confirm them all. I guess the problem is really us. We should be loudly celebrating the accomplishments. The Left runs on talking points and attempting to control the national conversation. Republicans are not inclined to brag and celebrate loudly, which I guess we should be doing. It is all about the national conversation and allowing Democrats to control that is a big mistake. This time they really have gone too far.

 



Donald Trump’s Generals: The Most Renowned Wartime Commanders of Their Generation by The Elephant's Child

A blog called “Breaking Defense” has written well on Trump’s Generals. The Left, constantly looking for something horrible in Trump’s plans, finds the naming of so many retired military men to top positions will possibly undermine the principal of civilian control—as if Constitutional niceties are of enormous concern to the  Left—who have been ignoring that ancient document at their convenience for the last eight years. I’m getting really tired of the Left and their antics.

Donald Trump’s decision to lean heavily on generals in building his national security team has been received with sighs of relief by many foreign policy and national security experts. By the nature of their profession, senior military leaders tend to be pragmatic internationalists who know how to run large organizations. They understand from experience how the world works. They are generally disciplined and well-read. Having come of age on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq, these generals are also intimately familiar with the horrors of war, and the second- and third-order consequences of firing the first shot. …

Indeed, the generals likely to form the top ranks of a Trump administration are among the most renowned wartime commanders of their generation. As the presumptive Secretary of Defense, retired Marine Corps General Jim “Mad Dog” Mattis will have as his chief military adviser Marine Corps General Joseph “Fighting Joe” Dunford, appointed by Obama as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Both flag officers earned their nicknames the old fashioned way during multiple combat tours. They are also close to retired Marine Corps General John Kelly, another combat veteran and the former commander of US Southern Command, who will reportedly serve as Trump’s Secretary of Homeland Security. According to a knowledgeable source, it was Mattis who took upon himself the heartbreaking task of telling John Kelly that his son, 1st Lieutenant Robert Michael Kelly, had been killed in Afghanistan in 2010.

Trump’s Generals, Part 2: Jim Mattis vs. Iran

Trump’s Generals, Part 3: Mike Flynn vs. Al Qaeda

Trump’s Generals, Part4: John Kelly vs. The Narco-Terrorists

Like many Republicans, when President Elect Trump announced his first nominees for cabinet positions, I was reassured that Mr. Trump knew what he was doing and was getting excellent advice. After 8 years of an administration that assured us that they were completely in control of foreign policy, but could not manage to call the enemy by name or even admit that it was an enemy (junior varsity?) I was delighted. It’s a pretty impressive national security lineup. Get acquainted.



Uncommon Knowledge: Victor Davis Hanson by The Elephant's Child

Victor Davis Hanson on grand strategy, immigration, and the coming election.  It’s a fascinating conversation, worth every minute. I hope you can find time.

 



Why World War II Matters — Victor Davis Hanson by The Elephant's Child


Here’s a fascinating lecture by Victor Davis Hanson on why World War II matters. It ended 71 years ago, ancient history. The very last of those who served in the war are nearly all gone, and even those who really remember are passing on. How do we make those to whom it is ancient history, who may not even know who was fighting or why they were fighting or why it matters understand?

Dr. Hanson, Central Valley farmer, college professor, military historian, columnist, author and fellow at the Hoover Institution is presented here by the Hillsdale College History Department. Enjoy. It’s well worth your time.




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