American Elephants


Fantasy and Talking Points In Search of a Legacy for Obama by The Elephant's Child

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The Democrat’s Convention platform is slowly being revealed, unprobable bit by bit. It will include a plan to get the United States completely off of fossil fuels by 2050. Oh dear. Not going to happen.  Who writes these talking points? Doesn’t anyone ever check in with reality?

President Barack Obama met at a “Three Amigos” summit in Ottawa this week with  Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada and President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico. The three NAFTA partners will pledge that in less than 10 years, half of North America’s energy will come from “clean” sources. The administration patted itself on the back and called it “ambitious.” How about “improbable” or “a joke?”

The U.S. accounts for three quarters of the energy produced by the three countries., so living up to the agreement falls on the U.S. According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration, so-called “clean energy”— nuclear, hydro electric, solar, wind, biomass makes up a total of less than one-fifth of U.S. energy production.

Nuclear accounts for around 8% of all clean energy, and California plans to shut down Diablo Canyon, their last nuke, which produces two times more energy than all of California’s solar arrays put together. The environmentalists who are energy-literate are beginning to understand that only nuclear power is currently capable of generating significant amounts of baseload electricity. The first new nuclear plant is starting up in Tennessee with environmental support. Biomass accounts for 4%, solar and wind put together only 3% of our energy needs and hydroelectric a little more than 2%. Environmentalists oppose hydro, because they don’t like damming up rivers, and most of the good spots are already taken.

Even if they went whole hog for Nuclear energy, it wouldn’t make any difference over the next decade.The permitting, construction and approval steps alone would take more than 9 years. Obama said he was sure that some 15 year-old was working on a new energy source in his bedroom, or perhaps it was his garage.

But that leaves wind, solar and biomass. Production levels from these sources would have to increase by something like 470% in nine years to add up to half of the nation’s energy production. Well, maybe everyone will have forgotten his silly pledge in 9 years. Keep trying, maybe you’ll find something to claim as a legacy.



Does Anyone Remember Who Spoke at their Graduation Ceremony? by The Elephant's Child

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As long as we’re looking for the lighter side of the current Political Campaign, President Obama just gave the commencement speech at Rutgers University. It must be exciting for new graduates to have the President of the United States speak at their ceremony.

After a couple of obligatory congratulations to the graduates and the name dropping of their favorite watering holes and greasy spoons, the President used his speech to tear into Donald Trump’s trade agenda, his Muslim ban, and his planned great big wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. He didn’t mention Mr. Trump by name, but it was rather obvious.

‘The world is more interconnected than ever before. And it’s becoming more connected every day. Building walls won’t change that,’ Obama said.

‘To help ourselves, we’ve got to help others, not pull up the drawbridge and try to keep the world out,’ Obama said.

He added:

‘It’s part of human nature, especially in times of change and uncertainty to want to look back at a long forgotten imaginary past when everything worked and the economy worked,’ Obama said.

And America did pretty much whatever it wanted around the world. Guess what, it ain’t so? The good old days weren’t all that good.’

As Mr. Obama was deploring Mr. Trump’s wall, the Secret Service is proposing to replace the White House Fence to double its height, from the current about six feet to nearly 14 feet and provide other measures to deter would-be intruders. “They want to build a fence that is tougher, taller, and stronger.” A great big fence.  The old proverb is “good fences make good neighbors,”used by Robert Frost, but not exactly what either the Secret Service nor President Obama has in mind. But then, perhaps I’m just easily amused.

I vaguely remember who gave the graduation speech at my college commencement, but cannot remember his name or what he said. What I do remember most clearly of that day, was getting bombed by a seagull who deposited an indiscretion on my cap and gown. Maybe the Rutgers grads won’t remember a thing either.



The Hidden Ramifications of a Drop in the Price of a Gallon of Gas by The Elephant's Child

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The price of oil has dived, which is a boon for Americans who are filling up their gas tanks, partly as a result of ‘Fracking,’ and partly because the Saudis have opened the spigot on their oil reserves. For drivers, it’s a wonderful drop in the cost of commuting, and a bit more freedom in the family budget. For oil field workers, it has meant layoffs for many.  For investors in oil futures, it’s scary. For many businesses it’s a drop in their costs and a welcome boost in the bottom line.

For the Saudis, it means that Iran loses money on the sale of their oil because their break-even cost is far higher than the current cost of a barrel of oil. The Saudis fear major attacks by ISIS or Iran. The intricacies of Middle East relationships are fascinating but puzzling. Most Middle East countries are composed of tribes with different religions, different histories and different cultures.

Here at home, an article from Bloomberg Business chronicles just how complicated it all is, yet we need to understand. Laredo, Texas is a border town. One hundred and fifteen million people cross into Texas legally from Mexico every year, most of them just on a shopping expedition. By some estimates those shoppers are responsible for one of every two retail dollars spent in Laredo. They buy jeans, smart phones, toys, products that are more costly or not available in Nuevo Laredo. The peso has dropped 26 percent in relation to the dollar.

What’s different this year is that Eagle Ford, one of the big oil fields behind the surge in U.S. oil output in the past half-decade h as slashed production in response to the drop in the price of oil. Many of the storefronts on the downtown’s main commercial drag, and others near the river are boarded up or braced with metal grids over the windows.  Silvia Guerra’s popular turquoise-colored crepe satin priced at $8.50 a yard, cost Mexicans 127 pesos last year and is 152 pesos today.

Crude prices have plummeted 70 percent since June 2014, idling oil rigs. All Texas border cities are feeling the pinch, but Laredo’s merchants say business is off 50 percent or more.  Laredo has four international bridges, and is the country’s biggest inland port.

Sylvia Guerra’s store has racks of dresses and colorful rolls of fabric, but purchases are rare, and her business is dead. She suspects she will be out of business by May. Her husband has lost his job leasing drilling equipment for Weatherford International Plc. Their daughter is an administrator for Baker Hughes Inc. in San Antonio was told her position is at risk after major layoffs at the oil services company. Their son who supervises fracking operations for C&J Energy Services has seen his paycheck shrink so much he’s looking for an additional part-time job.

It’s just interesting to see how a change in the price of a barrel of oil plays out around the world, and around the country. It’s a lot more complicated than we think.

Today’s price of a gallon of regular gas at the pump, and a year ago:

In Washington State today: $2.09.  A year ago, it was $2.82. In California today: $2,45.  A year ago, it was $3,94. In Texas today, gas is $1.60, a year ago it averaged $2.25. In Ohio, the average is $1.87, down from $2,38 a year ago. And in Pennsylvania, the average today is $1.91, while a year ago it was 2.60. Being close to a refinery helps, as does having a handy oil field in your backyard. As you can see, it is a significant drop in the family budget, depending on how many miles you drive in a week.

Of course state officials have noticed that you aren’t paying quite so much for gas and see this as a dandy opportunity to raise gas taxes.



“Diversity” Is Bunk, When There is No Diversity of Ideas. by The Elephant's Child

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The Washington Examiner published an article suggesting that the “Media questions whether Senators Rubio and Cruz are really Hispanics.” It is expected that in a political campaign, and this seems to be one of the more unusual ones, thee will be a lot of silly attacks to go with the substantive ones. When our culture decides that “diversity” is the most important thing to address, it leads to some very strange results.

“Diversity” seems to mean dividing people up into groups based on skin color and ethnic origin, if you belong to a recognized minority, you will get a great deal of attention. However, recognized minorities seem to be limited to blacks and Hispanics, Occasionally American Indians are included, but only if you have some activists speaking out, otherwise the tribes are mostly ignored. American blacks include only those who are descended from the slavery culture, and believe they are discriminated against. Those who have become successful and well to do are insulted and called “Uncle Toms.” Blacks  who have immigrated from Africa don’t count, because they are not descended from the horrors of slavery, so they mostly just get on with their lives.

The term “Hispanic” refers, according to the EEOC, as “A person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race. Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) may be the sons of Cuban immigrants , but”the senators only “embrace their Hispanic heritage” when it’s “convenient” said a Nightly Show panel:

“To me, it’s really upsetting especially when it comes to the issue of bilingualism because Rubio speaks perfect Spanish,” contributor Grace Parra said, as the rest of the group nodded along. “Because Rubio speaks perfect Spanish and he never chooses to pull it out.”

“I think race is important to talk about when talking about this because it feels like, in an attempt to get rich, white voters,” she added, “Rubio and Cruz especially have actually alienated Latinos to the point where Latinos don’t trust them … We don’t even necessarily consider them Latino because they haven’t embraced their heritage.”

The New York Times in an op-ed on Feb. 3, explored the arguments that the two are not really Hispanic:

Neither Mr. Cruz nor Mr. Rubio meets conventional expectations of how Latino politicians are supposed to behave. Neither of these candidates claims to s peak for the Hispanic population or derive a crucial portion of their support from Hispanics, and neither bases much of his political identity on being a Latino.

Univision’s Jorge Ramos called them “race traitors” because of their positions on immigration control.

“There is no greater disloyalty than the children of immigrants forgetting their own roots. That is a betrayal,” he wrote.

I have been listening to these two gentlemen since the first days of the campaign, and I would venture that only a Liberal would not know that they are both of Cuban heritage, and are proud Americans. They both talk about their families quite a bit, and their pride in being American and pride in their parents for escaping the communist state of Cuba.

It would seem that if you are not a victim of belonging to a minority group, and suffering from your minority status, but instead taking pride in becoming not only fully American, but a candidate for the office of President of the United States, you will be severely criticized for your offensive behavior. There is something rotten at the heart of this line of thinking.

Sometime back in 1978 there was a famous court case called Bakke vs. University of California. “In that decision, Justice Lewis Powell asserted that an undefined “diversity” could allow taking account of race in college admissions, and it was a “compelling state interest” that justified an exception to Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act’s ban on discrimination by race. In 2003, in Grutter vs Bolinger the Supreme Court reaffirmed the “compelling state interest” of diversity since it provided, as Justice Sandra Day O’Conner argued,”the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body.”

Well, all very nice, but what exactly are the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body? Diversity based on differences in ideas and ideology clearly has benefits to offer, but our universities at present are deeply concerned with allowing no diversity of ideas whatsoever, hence the rise of ‘microaggressions’ and ‘safe spaces,’ and the banning of any speaker who might have an opinion differing from accepted wisdom. You must not offend by offering a new idea. How is it possible that they got so far off track? Education has become indoctrination in correct ways of thinking and correct thought.

Here’s Bruce Thornton, college professor, fellow at the Hoover Institution and the David Horowitz Freedom Center:

Encumbered with a fossilized illiberal ideology, progressives must rely on what Robert Conquest called “thought-blockers”––empty words and phrases that comfort and rouse the party faithful, and camouflage the lack of coherent argument, consistent principles, and empirical evidence. More important, these empty words and phrases that lie at the heart of progressivism are the tools for increasing the progressives’ political power and influence, at the expense of everybody else’s freedom. …

That common feel-good notion of diversity, however, is the “bait” in the ideological “bait and switch” of politicized diversity. The latter is not about the wondrous variety of Americans, especially their political diversity. It is instead the old Marxist fable of American crime and tyranny, enhanced with multicultural identity politics, the clichéd melodrama of white neo-imperialist, neocolonialist oppression of carefully selected innocent “victims” and their superior “cultures.” This diversity, then, is a mechanism for increasing the power and influence of certain ideological factions in society, especially the schools, at the expense of others.



Obama’s Very Bad, No Good, Terrible Week. by The Elephant's Child

A federal judge ruled Tuesday the Obama administration may not use executive privilege to keep requested documents regarding Operation Fast and Furious from Congress, and ordered the administration to turn them over. Makes you wonder how many attorneys are professionally involved in Freedom of Information Act  (FOIA)  litigation full time.

Since he lost his congressional majority, unlike most previous presidents, Mr. Obama has attempted to govern entirely by executive authority, just ignoring any laws or regulations or constitutional requirements might get in his way. He may get his way on some issues, but he is enraging the country.

“The Department of Justice (DOJ) has already revealed the sum and substance of the very material it is now seeking to withhold,” District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson wrote. “Since any harm that would flow from the disclosures sought here would be merely incremental, the records must be produced.”

The administration has been fighting over records related to the operation that ended up killing a Border Patrol officer for years. The House voted in 2012 to hold former Attorney General Eric Holder in Contempt of Congress for withholding the records. A federal judge ordered the DOJ to turn over the documents sought by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in August, 2014, and rejected claims of executive privilege, and they turned over some 60,000 pages then, but still attempted to shield more.



About Fences and Priorities. by The Elephant's Child

mexico-wall-pedestrian-image1According to the Washington Examiner, only 36 miles of effective double-layer fencing has been erected along the U.S.– Mexico border.

Sixty-six percent or 1,300 miles have no fencing. This is despite repeated congressional demands, and a congressional bank account of $2,5 billion. Congress has asked for 700 miles of fencing.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) says that different types of fencing has been put up along the border, the cost so far is  $7.1 million per mile.

— 1,300 miles have no fencing (66.5%)

— 299.8 miles have vehicle fence (15.3%)

— 316.6 miles of pedestrian fence (16.2%)

— 36.3 miles of double-layer fencing (.02%)

— The current total for primary fencing to be 352.9 miles. 316.6 single layer plus 36.3 miles of double layer = 352.9 miles of primary fencing.

What’s more, no fencing is currently being erected on the empty 1,300 miles.

A Senate official said that the 2006 Secure Fence Act required 700 miles of double-layer fencing because Border Patrol members said double layer works best. Reports indicated that illegal immigrants can easily scale single fences.

Donald Trump is not going to build a great big wall, and Mexico is certainly not going to pay for it. That’s just braggadocio. But an accurate count of what we have, how much it costs and what is being done may be useful. Checking in with what other countries are doing may be more useful as would details of what works and what doesn’t.



Another Day in the Life of a Border Patrol Agent, Not Quite a Day Like All Days. by The Elephant's Child

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Jose Manuel Marino-Najera is suing the Border Patrol. It seems he sustained dog bites after entering America illegally with a supply of drugs. He apparently became an illegal immigrant after he chose to have coyotes (human smugglers) help him get across the U.S. border with Mexico. To get their help, he allegedly had to agree to carry a large bag full of marijuana for the drug cartel.

The coyotes band of illegals made it into Arizona and reportedly decided to get some rest under a tree while recovering from alleged dehydration. Marino-Najera and his fellow illegals fell asleep and were awakened only when a Border Patrol dog arrived on the scene and began the job he was trained for—sniffing for drugs.

Marino-Najera claimed a Border Patrol dog was “mauling” his hand when he woke and saw the agents. He alleges that the U. S . Border Patrol agents ignored his cries and shouts for help —allowing the dog to” tear apart” his hands for “several minutes.” His lawsuit claims the Border Patrol agents did not call off the dog until they walked over to arrest him. Because the dog was aiding the Border  Patrol in their law enforcement duties, Marino-Najera claims that he deserves compensation from the federal government (us) for his injuries.

Bill Riser, the attorney assigned as public defender, maintains that Marino-Najera is entitled to sue because the injuries occurred on American soil. He claimed the illegal act of border crossing, coupled with being a mule for drugs had no bearing on his client’s standing to file a lawsuit against the Border Patrol.  Another in a long list of interesting claims by public defenders. You can’t make this stuff up.
(h/t: Weasel Zippers)




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