American Elephants

The Silly Season: Campaign Speeches and Promises. by The Elephant's Child

Hillary%20explains_HillaryExlainsDemocrats are a constant puzzlement to me. They march in lockstep, seldom disagree with one another, and operate on the same talking points, which is regularly proved when they all use the same words to describe their position on an issue. Do they fight quietly in the fabled back rooms, never allowing their disagreements to reach public attention? I’m beginning to suspect that their connection to real issues currently before the public — is a little scanty.

Republicans are always all over the map, squabbling about who is conservative and who is not conservative enough, who is a RHINO, and its hard to get agreement on any single issue. That is supposed to be a fault, but it is simply the voice of freedom, and the way things are supposed to be. We are humans with human failings.

Hillary Clinton spoke on Saturday at the “Blue Jamboree” in Charleston S.C.. She said if she is elected president, she can create enough green energy to power every home in America by the end of her second term.

By the end of my first term, we will have installed a half a billion more solar panels, and by the end of my second term, enough clean energy to power every home in America.

She said her plan to subsidize alternative sources of energy would not entail a middle class tax hike. In fact, she would reduce taxes for working class families. She’s going to be fighting for that.

She said her plan to reform health care would bring costs down without raising taxes. And accused Republicans who want to repeal the Affordable Care Act as being driven by “political ideology” rather than a desire to “take care of people.” She would be willing to hold “senior level executives of companies accountable when they make decisions that cause the rest of the economy the troubles that we saw.”

Good Grief! The slightest familiarity with the news of the world would tell her that Spain and Germany started out years ago with just such exaggerated claims, and discovered, over time, that it didn’t work. The largest and most advanced $2.2 billion high-tech solar array in the Mojave Desert, Ivanpah,  is a colossal flop, producing only 40% of the promised electricity.

Solar energy produces a grand 0.3 or three-tenths of one percent of America’s electricity. If the governmental subsidies end, the solar arrays shut down, but Hillary is going to fix that and have everybody running on the vastly more expensive form of electricity from solar panels. Uh huh.  If that doesn’t work just throw America’s CEOs in the pokey.  And Republicans are driven by “political ideology?”

May 29 was the date when the Obama administration had to concede that the U.S. auto fleet cannot practically consume enough ethanol to fulfill Congress’s quotas. So Obama announced a new program so motorists can consume more ethanol. The U.S. must subsidize ethanol because the U.S. already subsidizes ethanol. Ethanol is corrosive and damages the engines and fuels systems of today’s cars and trucks (damages not covered by factory warranties), and damages ordinary pumps, piping and storage tanks.

The Agriculture Dept. will pull dollars from a New Deal outfit, the Commodity Credit Corp. that was created in 1933 to “stabilize, support and protect farm income and prices” for grants for states to build special equipment to service the 6 out of every 100 vehicles that can run, maybe, on the higher ethanol blends. A little government hokey-pokey there, but the point of the subsidy seems to be saving the subsidy — not the taxpayers.

You have probably seen pictures of the thick smog in China, and the Chinese people wearing gas masks. That is not carbon dioxide pollution. CO2 is not a pollutant, but what we exhale. You learned, supposedly, in high school biology about photosynthesis. You exhale CO2, the plants take it in as fertilizer and release the oxygen.  It’s a good thing, and completely unrelated to “global warming.”

Bernie Sanders called, on Saturday, for the Republicans to abandon the corrupting influence of the Koch Brothers and other wealthy energy magnates. “This is a party that rejects science and refuses to understand that climate change is real.” Bernie is quite sure that the rise of ISIS can be attributed to global warming. But then way back in 1941, a scientist was claiming that global warming caused Hitler. Warmer temperatures “may produce a trend toward dictatorial governments.People are more docile and easily led in warm weather.”

So there you go. Nothing new under the sun. Same old, Same old.

A Short Essay on Modern Life, Or Something Like That. by The Elephant's Child

4886682532_b29722fd6b_bI had to go to the grocery store yesterday for a few things, and I was annoyed when they hadn’t gotten in any more strawberries. And I considered my annoyance. End of November in the Great Northwest and there are no fresh strawberries? How quickly we get used to the comforts of modern life. I can certainly remember when strawberries came in the few weeks when the local strawberry fields actually had fruit on the vine.

I picked up a package of 3″ x 5″ scratch pads — the kind you write your grocery list on, and discovered that the package of 4 pads was — imported from China. So there you go. Two direct reminders of how times have changed and in spite of all our complaining, we are blessed with plenty.

So I bought a package of fresh raspberries instead, and added two containers of fresh blueberries and went on home.  (Sorry!  I’m easily amused.)

Those Senseless Campus Protests Are Not What They Seem by The Elephant's Child

Campus-Protests-Michigan-8Barack Obama was famously a community organizer before he ventured into Illinois politics. I should have read Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals, but I haven’t. My impression is that it is a course in how to manipulate people. Obama really took to Rules for Radicals, and according to Paul Sperry, writing in the New York Post, it has been a hallmark of his presidency.

The senseless protests we’re seeing break out on the campuses of the University of Missouri, Yale and other colleges, as well as on bridges and highway overpasses and outside police stations, are precisely the kind of thing Obama was trained to organize while attending leftist agitation schools founded by Chicago communist Saul Alinsky. He learned to a fare-thee-well how to “rub raw the sores of discontent.”

Obama. Sperry says, has trained more than 10,000 leftist organizers, who, in turn, are training more than 2 million youths in Alinsky street tactics. This is being done by his former campaign organization OFA, now Organizing for Action, registered as a 501c4 nonprofit eligible for unlimited contributions. The leftist group holds regular “organizing summits” on college campuses.

Through social media, they mobilize flash mobs against “biased cops,” “climate-change deniers,” “Wall Street predators” and “gun extremists.” They hold rallies against conservative foes of gay marriage, LGBT rights, abortion and amnesty for illegal immigrants.

Young agitators have also been trained by AmeriCorps and My Brothers Keeper, the “racial justice” group founded in the wake of the death of Trayvon Martin in Florida. They agitate for “school discipline reform” or alternatives to suspensions and expulsions.

These three federally sponsored projects share manpower, resources and radical agendas with Black Lives Matter and Occupy Wall Street.

Well, that would explain a lot of the senseless protests now inflicting college campuses. It is becoming clear that the accusations of racial attacks and racial epithets simply don’t pan out. N-word insults are not heard by anyone else,  the person who threatened to ‘shoot every black kid on campus’ is a black kid.  A Columbia student claims to be traumatized by reading about white people.Some black students seem to be demanding — segregation. But radicalized kids are getting administrators and professors to resign. Ginni Thomas explores the same question from the perspective of the National Association of Scholars.

At National Review, David French says “the campus culture wars aren’t about “victims” or “racial injustice” or “safe spaces.” …They’re revolutionaries, and the revolution they seek is nothing less than the overthrow of our constitutional republic, beginning with our universities.

This is a movement built from the ground up around power and coercion. They hate free speech because free speech represents nothing but a threat — a chance for dissenters to expose the bankruptcy of their ideas. They hate due process because due process stands in the way of class-based justice, of identity-based jurisprudence. They hate the orthodox Christian faith because it rejects their sexual ideology and places the human conscience beyond the reach of mortal man.

Francine’s Interview — France by The Elephant's Child

Born in August, 1933, Francine Christophe was deported with her mother to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1944. Released the following year, she continues to share her experience and memories with the younger generation.

(h/t: Maggie’s Farm)

Why is College So Expensive? Is It Worth It? by The Elephant's Child

b083ddd2-e58a-4a80-a72a-6af0700c5f16So why is College so expensive anyway? Parents who have a child about to enter the American university system are stunned by how much tuition has gone up — way more than normal inflation would amount to.

There are a number of big items at play here. During World War II, the young men went to war, not to college. That meant that colleges and universities limped along with women and 4F men. Even a lot of younger professors were called up. When the war ended in 1945, the G.I.Bill flooded the university system with returned G.I.s and often their new wives. Colleges had to provide housing for married students, and their new babies — the beginnings of the Baby Boom.

Beginning in 1946, and increasing exponentially through the boom’s high water mark in 1957 was a generation that found everything crowded from maternity wards to law school. From 1958 till 1964, the boom gradually ebbed. When the boomers were ready for college, colleges expanded to be ready for them. New dorms, new classrooms new buildings, expanded campuses, and even new colleges. When the baby boom ended and we got back to “normal” — colleges were facing a dearth of students to fill their expanded campuses. Colleges added amenities to attract students, and more amenities.

The federal government stepped in to guarantee student loans, which got the universities off the hook. There had always been scholarships for outstanding students, but student loans meant that universities could charge more because the government guaranteed the loans. There was no push-back from the government on the cost of college, kids could borrow what the colleges charged. Employers demanded college degrees

During the war years, professors salaries were held down, and many had summer jobs to make ends meet. When the baby boom arrived, professors wanted more pay and more free time for research, writing and counseling students. Large lecture classes were turned over to adjuncts who were paid far, far less. Professors with doctorates pointed out that CEO salaries were skyrocketing and they were better educated and deserved better. Inflation.

Inflation meant that everything cost more, and not just college. Food, houses, all kinds of goods. What it meant was is that in most case, both parents had to go to work, and families were smaller. What it meant for American universities was retrenchment. Employers were demanding college degrees, partly because primary education was poorly training students. That was a big benefit for colleges because more kids headed for college with big student loans. Big student loans meant that colleges could charge more. The federal government was subsidizing increased tuition. The politicians insisted that every child should go to college. Not true, some kids are not suited for college, and there are fine professions that do not require college degrees.

The end of the baby boom, and the smaller generation produced by the baby boomers because of inflation and working mothers wasn’t enough to fill up the university system. Some colleges closed, others went for more amenities. Climbing walls, bigger libraries, bigger swimming pools, tennis courts and student unions. More landscaping, sculpture. Professor salaries topped the $200,000 mark, and football coaches earned more, way more, that university presidents.

But they have reached a point of no return. To please students, classes have become silly. Gender studies in all its variations, ethnic studies, social justice, political correctness, speech codes, and on and on until we have today’s little “snowflakes,” who are so confused that they assume a right to be coddled, to never face disagreement or offense, but only sheltered kindness. Which means they protest against speakers who have different ideas than their own.

But Marco Rubio was right. Welders make a lot more than philosophy majors. There are high-paying jobs that do not require a college degree. Parents are home-schooling their kids, or forming charter schools that are part of the public school system but more effective. Teachers unions are fighting back, determined to remain in charge and applying all the political pressure of all the dues collected from teachers to get their way. Parents hate, with reason, Common Core, and the whole idea of a federally-directed curriculum. Federal bureaucrats do not know what is best. Times are always a-changing. Just what comes next will be a battle.

Here I should recommend a couple of books: Great Expectations by Landon Y. Jones, a popular study of the baby boom generation (1980). Essential reading for boomers, their kids, and the following generation who are stuck with paying for Medicare for the retiring boomers. Great fun. The other is really a trilogy, a marvelously funny academic satire by David Lodge, a former British professor.  The books are Changing Places, Small World, and Nice Work, now conveniently offered in one volume. It may be satire, but you learn a lot about academe.

I wonder how many full professors teach a full 15 hour schedule?

Is This the Start of Something Big? by The Elephant's Child

—Knoxville, Iowa:  The town had placed a temporary memorial to fallen soldiers in their city park. It was a silhouette display of a kneeling soldier with a white cross, meant to help the town raise the soldier-memorial-knoxville-IA-WHO-HD-640x480money for a permanent memorial. A citizen, an atheist citizen, complained demanding that it be removed because of the Christian cross, claiming that it violated the separation of church and state. The city council promptly folded in fear of a court fight. In response some 2,000 small white crosses were planted in front yards all over town. The voters promptly voted out the town council.

—In the three states where the proportion of residents without health insurance declined the most, Arkansas, Kentucky and West Virginia, all elected Republican Senate candidates who oppose the Affordable Care Act. Control of the West Virginia House of Delegates flipped from Democrats to Republicans. Arkansas elected Republican supermajorities to both house and senate along with a Republican governor.

— Croatia’s conservative opposition won the country’s first election since it joined the European Union in 2013 in response to the migrant issue, seeking stricter border controls to manage the flow of people crossing the small Adriatic state of 4.4 million. This follows a landmark victory by opposition conservatives in Poland last month. The Polish Law and Justice party pledges to oppose mandatory quotas for relocation of migrants in the EU.

—Violence erupted in the streets of Berlin as thousands of 2E343CFA00000578-0-image-a-88_1446926053681anti-immigration protesters took to the streets to protest against Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door refugee policy. Refugees have turned out to be quite demanding, rejecting food not to their taste, and expecting full welfare benefits.

— Washington State voters have approved an initiative to cut the state sales tax if lawmakers don’t allow a vote on a constitutional amendment requiring a two-thirds majority for a tax increase. Voters in this left coast state have made it clear that they want the authority to amend their state constitution to require a supermajority to approve a tax increase. Voters have repeatedly approved ballot measures requiring a two-thirds majority for any tax hike.  The initiative specifies it will lower the state sales tax from 6.5% to 5.5% if the legislature does not follow through.

—Last November, President Obama expanded eligibility for a program the president set up in 2012 to allow immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally as children to get “deferred action” status and be eligible to work legally. The new effort also included a new initiative to grant the same status to illegal immigrants who are the parents of U.S. citizens or green card holders. Up to 5 million people were estimated to be eligible. Republicans objected, claiming the president was exceeding his authority under the Constitution.  Judge Andrew Hanen blocked the effort nationwide, saying that the changes to immigration were so significant that the administration needed to put them out for official notice and comment before moving forward. Obama appealed. The 5th Circuit praised Hanen’s ruling, calling it “impressive and thorough.” The Appeals court said — you can’t do that. The Fifth Circuit asserted that the separation of powers remains the law of the land, and the president must follow the rule of law, just like everybody else.

—Perhaps this is just a hungering for people to stand up and say, as the Court did to President Obama — You can’t do that! Europeans are beginning to stand up to the EU and to their governments who have gone too far. College administrators seem frightened by students behaving badly, and at a loss to know what to do. I’ve been nattering on about one example or another for quite a while. Are these examples signs of something or other, or is it just wishful thinking?

The Progressive Gitmo Myth. by The Elephant's Child

guantanamo_protest_cc_img5When I had just finished the last post on Guantanamo Bay, I ran across a post last year, from Hoover fellow Bruce Thornton, entitled “The Progressive Gitmo Myth.” He added several points that are especially pertinent. Do read the whole thing.

For Obama’s liberal base, Gitmo has been part of a larger narrative of American tyranny, particularly George Bush’s alleged lawlessness in waging an “illegal” and “unnecessary” war in Iraq. Once Howard Dean’s anti-war presidential primary insurgency took off after the war began in 2003, mainstream Democrats began endorsing the far-left “Bush lied” analysis of the war that John Edwards, John Kerry, and Hillary Clinton had voted for based on the same intelligence that led to the Bush administration’s decision. With the anti-war movement providing the visuals for television news, the left’s distorted history of Vietnam was resurrected to provide the template for the war in Iraq, particularly the charge that the Bush administration had lied about Hussein’s WMDs, just as Lyndon Johnson had allegedly fabricated the Gulf of Tonkin incident to justify escalating U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Soon the whole litany of American militarist evils was applied to Iraq and the war against terrorists and their enablers. Torture, illegal detention, and abuse of prisoners were staples of that catalogue, and for leftists Gitmo fit the bill.

Soon we were hearing that Gitmo was a “gulag,” “the Bermuda Triangle of human rights,” a “shocking affront to democracy,” and a “national disgrace.” The New York Times, paying heed to charges by detainees trained to lie, said Guantanamo exemplified “harsh, indefinite detention without formal charges or legal recourse” and recalled “the Soviet Union’s sprawling network of Stalinist penal colonies.” Such hysteria, of course, has no basis in fact.

In 2004, a report by Albert T. Church III concluded, “We can confidentially state that based upon our investigation, we found nothing that would in any way substantiate detainees’ allegations of torture or violent physical abuse at GTMO.” Almost all the interrogations at Gitmo were conducted according to the Army Field Manual approved by Obama himself. Conditions for the prisoners at Gitmo far outstrip those in most prisons, including in the United States. Jihadists involved in planning, aiding, and participating in the murders of Americans can play sports, work out on gym equipment, hang out with their comrades, learn English, take art lessons, peruse a library of 14,000 Arab-language books, and view satellite television, including Al Jazeera. They get first-class health care and nutrition, and their food is prepared according to halal standards of ritual purity––all that good grub has led to the “Gitmo gut.” Islamic holidays are respected, Korans handled by guards with delicate care, magazines censored to remove images disturbing to pious Muslims, and arrows painted on the floors pointing to Mecca to guide the prisoners in their daily prayers. Rush Limbaugh is justified in calling Guantánamo “Club Gitmo.”

Yet despite these facts, the myth has arisen that the existence of Gitmo, as the Wall Street Journal summarized liberal thinking, “symbolizes prisoner abuse, serving as a propaganda tool for extremists and complicating counterterrorism efforts with allies.” The incoherence of this argument points to the larger problems of American foreign policy in dealing with jihadism.

Goodness, if everybody doesn’t love us, there must be something really terrible about America. We really don’t need to give a bunch of terrorists the constitutional rights enjoyed by American citizens, nor the pro bono legal counsel. They will be back to beheading their enemies directly.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 7,495 other followers

%d bloggers like this: