American Elephants


Trump’s Pointed Venezuela Speech Starts Things Moving by The Elephant's Child

President Trump delivered an excellent speech in Miami directed at the Venezuelans and Hispanics in the audience. We have food aid waiting near the border to be delivered to the starving people in Venezuela. Now Brazil has assembled caravan of food for the Venezuelans in cooperation with the U.S. and said it’s whether socialist dictator Maduro likes it or not.

Maduro, of course, denies that there is any shortage of anything, and will block any shipments. Brazil’s new right-leaning President Jair Bolsonaro has recognized newly elected Juan Guaidó as the legitimate president of Venezuela. So far the Venezuelan military is backing Maduro, but that will not continue indefinitely, in the nature of things. Maduro will be lucky to escape with his life, but where would he go?

With the U.S. and Brazil standing up for ordinary humanitarianism, things will start to move and other nations, fearful of acting on their own, will join in. That too is in the nature of things. You can think back to other times and other dictators and how they were deposed. We can usually learn from history, even if the ignorant try to hide what what happened, to proclaim their own virtue. Famously said: “The Truth Will Out.”

Advertisements


A Search For The Real George Washington by The Elephant's Child

The George Washington that most of us see most often is the engraving after the Gilbert Stuart portrait on the one dollar bill. Reproductions of the Gilbert Stuart portrait and a portrait of Abraham Lincoln used to hang on the front wall of every elementary classroom when I was growing up, with an American flag standing in the corner.

We all know, I think, that George Washington had dreadful false teeth. A terrible pity, both for the President — because they must have been instruments of torture in his mouth — and because they distract our attention from far more important things about the man. Certainly Washington must have had access to the very best dentists of the day. By 1789, he had only one of his own teeth left. The teeth were horrible-looking contraptions made of substances like hippopotamus ivory, hinged at the back and operated with springs. He complained that they distorted his lips, and they must have distorted his appearance as well.

Gilbert Stuart was the most celebrated of portraitists. He trained in London, and was thought to be a potential successor to the famed Sir Joshua Reynolds. However Stuart was extravagant and fled in debt from London. He turned up in Philadelphia during 1795 , hoping to pay off his creditors by creating a multitude of portraits of the world’s greatest man. Washington sat to him for three separate portraits, and Stuart made hundreds of copies.

According to James Thomas Flexner’s Washington: The Indispensable Man, Washington and Stuart did not get on. The portraitist usually kept his sitters amused and their faces alive by a flood of showy and outrageous talk. Washington always felt
According to James Thomas Flexner’s Washington: The Indispensable Man, Washington and Stuart did not get on. The portraitist usually kept his sitters amused and their faces alive by a flood of showy and outrageous talk. Washington always felt uneasy at having to remain still and being stared at and was put out rather than being amused.

Stuart, who felt that “artists were fundamentally superior to all other men including Presidents, resented Washington’s formality. He could not forget what had resulted when, in trying to unstiffen the hero, he had gone to the length of saying, “Now, sir, you must let me forget that you are General Washington and I am Stuart the Painter. Washington replied (as it seemed to him politely), Mr. Stuart need never feel the need for forgetting who he is and who General Washington is.”

Stuart emphasized, as no other portraitist did, the distortions of Washington’s mouth. Flexner suggests that since Stuart was known to have angrily used General Knox’s portrait as the door of his pigsty that perhaps the harm he did to Washington’s historical image was somewhat deliberate.

This life mask by Jean Antoine Houdon gives us more clues as to what Washington actually looked like. He was tall, about 6’2″, and most verbal descriptions mention his ‘roman’ nose, so it was perhaps a little prominent. This is not the face of the Stuart portrait, but looks more probable.

Washington was an outdoorsman who spent much of his life in the saddle, and his complexion would have reflected that — more wrinkles, more weathered. They didn’t have sunglasses and baseball hats with a brim to keep the sun out of the eyes, lots of squinting. The portrait above seems to match the life mask fairly well. A far cry from the disagreeable Gilbert Stuart portrait.

I’m going a bit out on a limb here, but I spent some years in art school attempting to capture likenesses, and the smallest errors in size and distance relationships can lose a likeness completely. Also, people see likenesses differently. Some will insist that two siblings look just alike while others will see no resemblance between the same two. I have no real explanation for that.

I suspect that Gilbert Stuart had such a reputation as a great portraitist, undoubtedly aided by his own self description, that perhaps people were apt to accept his work as the “right” one. Portraits are an odd matter. One tries to capture a mobile. alive face that changes its expression constantly and represent it on a flat surface. If you have ever had photographer’s proofs of pictures of you to choose from, that will explain the problem. They’re all you, but you’ll like some better than others.

Here are “reconstructions” done by a forensic reconstructionist of Washington at his inauguration, as a general, and at around the age of 19. They are startling in their realism. I suspect (nit-picky as I am) that the face is too free of wrinkles, and too pinky-white, and not quite rawboned enough. (I said I was being picky) But they give you a vastly different impression of the man. Haul out a dollar bill and compare. Stuart played a cruel joke on Washington.

Washington didn’t know much about being a general when he was appointed by Congress to lead the American armies, but he was the best we had, and he did fine. His men loved him, and he gradually taught them to be soldiers. He was elected unanimously to be President when he wanted nothing more than to return to Mt.Vernon and retire from public life. The people idolized him. He could have been a king or an emperor, or like some — a dictator for life. But it was he, with his sterling character, who set the nation on the right path. He had a horrible temper, and mostly kept it under firm control. Any of his deeds alone would have made him famous, but in twenty-four years he led the armies, led the country, shaped a constitution, set a nation on its path and then went on home.

The portrait above is by Gilbert Stuart. He made many copies and others made copies of his copies which were sent around the new country so people could see what their new president looked like. Unfortunately, one of them was copied for the engraving on the dollar bill. Just mean.

ADDENDUM: I especially recommend Richard Brookhiser’s
Founding Father: Rediscovering George Washington. It is not a life history, but a moral biography, only 199 pages. It’s a rewarding book. I post this every year on Washington’s birthday.



National Emergency? You Can’t Do That! by The Elephant's Child

2015-08-09-1439094491-3569838-Schumer

President Trump did exactly what he said he would, and declared a national emergency over the border, and of course the Democrats exploded in feigned outrage. I did mention that Obama declared a national emergency something like 13 times, so the hissy-fit seems somewhat misplaced, but of course it is all in the preparation for the upcoming court fights. Democrats want open borders. The illegal votes are important for them, and they’re hoping to switch enough votes in targeted states to increase their control of the House of Representatives to make it more permanent. They really don’t like to be out of power.

And of course, they deny every tiny bit of information on which the president has based his declaration of an emergency. Fewer illegals crossing the border now, no drugs except at the ports of entry, and they’ve given more money for technology to find the drugs that are coming through. Attacks on the president’s character, his information, his knowledge, and the usual claim that his only possible reason for not wanting illegal immigrants from Central America is that they are “brown people.” And how interesting that at the same time, they refuse to see or acknowledge the ‘Angel’ families who have lost members of their family to criminal illegal aliens.

Some of the vast field of would-be candidates for the 2020 nomination are joining the push for tearing down existing walls. Pandering to the illegals already here for their illegal votes? Nancy Pelosi outlined the Democrats game plan early on. The governing law is the National Emergencies Act of 1974. The Free Beacon covers the law thoroughly, Everybody plans to sue, picking the most favorable to their cause venue, and it will wind its way through the courts, probably ending at the Supreme Court. White House lawyers seem to believe they have a winning case.

Democrat’s position on the border has been clear for some time. Obama’s invention of the DACA amnesty was clearly illegal, and the results have been even worse than anticipated. Few have gone to college, and a large percentage never finished high school. The fraud rate has been estimated at 40%-50%, and very few have enlisted in the military. What is most discouraging is the Left’s drive for absolute power which is more appropriate to other kinds of governance like Russia or China. What’s the old saying –”Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The results are playing out for all to see in Venezuela, where children are starving to death, because there is no food, and Maduro will not relinquish the presidency even though he has been voted out legally. Nor will he allow the food aid we have sent – into the country. Wonderful system, socialism.



“A Known Fact That Climate Change Is Happening” by The Elephant's Child

oceanwater

Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) announced that she is entering the 2020 presidential race, during a snowstorm, and said that it is a known fact that “climate change is happening”.

Klobuchar said Trump’s tweet that mocked her for talking about climate change while standing in a snowstorm is “so wrong.”

“I’m sorry if it still snows in the world, but the point is that we know climate change is happening,” Klobuchar argued. “Just this last year it was one of the fourth hottest years in the history of the world. That’s what’s happening right now. We see this Greenland ice sheet melting. Look at those wildfires in Colorado and California, where you [have had] a dad trying to get through a fire trying to calm his kid down in a car. That’s what’s happening right now in this country. So that’s why I think we cannot ignore it.”

Well, no, no, no, and your entire statement is completely wrong, Senator. The last year, 2018, was the 6th warmest year in the now–40 year satellite record of lower troposphere temperature variations. 25/100ths of one degree Centigrade warmer.

Senator Schumer believes. He announced that the hurricanes were caused by Global Warming. Jerry Brown said that California’s wildfires, drought, and floods were all caused by Global Warming and he wanted to put up his very own satellite to measure the CO² in the atmosphere so he could be prepared.
The new California governor seems to be ready to pursue the same theme. Our Gov. Jay Inslee tried to prevent fossil fuels from shipping from our ports because of Global Warming. I vaguely remember that some Lefty environmental organization was offering help to Democrat governors, linking them to other governors who faced  similar problems, helping to solve them, getting them lots of publicity, that sort of thing, but I cannot remember the details enough to search for an answer.

They have clearly been warned about “the deniers,” obviously conservatives who do not believe in Global Warming, which is the only correct position. They seem to group-believe.  Do remember that in early February of 2015, at a news conference in Brussels, Christiana Figueres, the General Secretary of the IPPC, admitted that the goal of environmental activists is not to save the world from ecological calamity — but to destroy capitalism.

“This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution,” she said.

They don’t care about the environment, it’s a tool in their drive for control. Then, when everyone is truly equal (except for the wise folks who will lead the way) there will be no more rich and poor — you know the rest, you’ve heard it all before. Those others just didn’t do it right. It’s just hard to understand why they believe.



Reforming Our Education System, One Small Step At A Time by The Elephant's Child

I’m beginning to think we need  a new course somewhere in our education system. It should focus on the history of the world – in the sense of the big sweep of time from the Big Bang down to the present. The movements of people across the globe, the inventions and discoveries that changed the world, like the domestication of animals, the invention of the wheel, that sort of thing. In one sense, to grasp history, you need a sense of the big picture, and we have way too many people that simply do not have one.

The other thing that seems to be missing is a real sense of what it means to be human, which seems to be missing in this age of “identity politics”.

The current trend is to erase any history of which one does not approve, which shows nothing so much as a complete ignorance of what history is. The attempt to tear down Confederate monuments and change the names of buildings was a shameful attempt at “virtue signaling” to demonstrate what a good person the “signaler” is. The purpose of history is to show where we have been so that we can learn from our successes and our mistakes. Historians bemoan the history that is missing because of all the stuff that gets thrown away. Tearing down history because you disapprove of it is deeply shameful — but the virtue signalers are utterly clueless.



The State of the Union Speech by The Elephant's Child

Oh excellent, excellent and most excellent. President Trump gave his best speech yet. Democrats were all prepared to go on and on about his lying and bragging. Not going to work. He explained his accomplishments for the country, why they needed to be done, and how they are working. He explained his hopes for the country and for the world, and asked for their help in getting it done.

I saw Nancy Pelosi all in white, but it took a while to realize that all the Democrat women were in white, symbolizing something or other. I apparently missed the explanation. I thought they were imitating Cuba’s Women in White, with their usual lack of comprehension of Communism, but I understand that they were thinking of themselves as “suffragettes” who nobody remembers and have nothing to do with white clothes as far as I can remember. I’m female, but definitely not a feminist, and find them  embarrassing. They seemed to have lot of trouble figuring out when to stand and when to sit, when to smile and when to scowl. Speaker Pelosi seemed to have big chunk of lemon in her cheek which she bit down on in the more stressful moments. (The cheering, the shouts of USA, USA!)

Chuck Schumer said that Stacey Abrams was a wonderful speaker, so I was interested but completely unfamiliar with her. I guess nobody checked on what she was going to say. Yea Unions! Boo depriving the people of their votes? Huh? Nice family stories, but utterly ill-informed about what is happening in the United States, except for Democrat propaganda. Little children in cages and all that. Seems like a nice lady. She tried to make a big deal out of the government shutdown, which was an inconvenience, but ruined no one’s life. I’m afraid that she was chosen as the first African-American woman to give the response to a State of the Union speech. Democrats think like that. The actuality of what is said isn’t that important.

Really funny to listen to the media’s comments pre-speech. Senator Schumer’s anticipatory comments were an absolute disgrace. He should be ashamed. There is really no place for that. Schumer has been in Congress since 1981. The venom of the Left knows no bounds.



Economics Can Be Fun, Honest! Short Lessons: by The Elephant's Child

If I am complaining about someone’s lack of knowledge about economics, it seems only fair to try to remedy that. For your own value or to share, I always enjoyed this brief series.+

Dr. Madsen Pirie, President of the Adam Smith Institute is explaining how basic economics is based on fundamental understanding of human nature.

Economics often seems too complicated for us everyday mortals, but it’s just based on understanding the real world. The workings of the market, the everyday buying and selling, profit and loss, tell us, if we choose to pay attention, how money, trade and markets really work.

Never fear, these are all really, really short, and worth your time.

Economics can be fun, and here’s another lesson: Economics is fun, Part 2. All about Price. How do products get priced, and what is the right price?

Part 3 is about Specialization. This is not about those puzzling charts and graphs,  and how Money, Trade and Markets really work.

Part 4 is about Trade and how countries become rich.

Part 5 is about Time and Investment.

Part 6 of Economics is fun is about Money:

There are more, but so far you have invested around ten minutes. If you want more, go to You Tube and enter “Economics is fun” and start with lesson 7. You are better armored against the  remarkable statements of our politicians on the stump. A little knowledge, as they say, is a dangerous thing. You might try them out on your kids if they are the right age.

 




%d bloggers like this: