American Elephants


Everything You Wanted to Know About Covid-19 by The Elephant's Child

As the lockdown fades away into masks or no masks, open society, or partly open, or don’t even think about it, or growing revolt, it becomes ever more confusing. At this late date, Kamala Harris has introduced a resolution that says calling Covid-19 the “China Virus” is “hate speech.” So helpful.

It is important, however, to recognize that Democrats are incapable of “hate speech” because they are nice people. And nevermind that viruses are usually called by their place of origin, to distinguish them from other viruses arising elsewhere. West-Nile virus, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, for example. The latter you got from ticks if you wandered around in the sagebrush, which I did a lot as a kid. Got lots of ticks, but no spotted fever.

The authorities, whoever they may be, cannot seem to make up their minds about masks. Some say useless and others say mandatory. We are told that you get the virus by being in range when someone with the disease sneezes or coughs, and the virus may linger in the air, or you will get the virus from touching something that someone with the disease has touched, to the mandatory washing your hands thoroughly as you have been taught.

Other than that, all is perfectly clear. The authorities are changing their minds from taking their information from models to adding up actual statistics, but then you have to consider what actions each country took and how they are different and who did what right.

If you want clear information, visit the think-tanks. Hoover.org, AEI.org, Cato.org, Reason.org, Heritage.org. A vast improvement over today’s media, who keep decorating their posts with terms like “blockbuster”,”bombshell”, and other words especially chosen to rouse interest rather than inform.

It appears from the quantity of masks advertised online that everyone has jumped into a new business of selling masks with funny mouths or monster mouths, or well designed to go with your clothing, or just appealing patterns. They are now, I am told, selling tri-kinis. That’s a bikini with a matching mask.  If, as they are now saying, masks are useless, we have another bunch of businesses going broke.

So there you are, wandering in a mysterious changing world where we mostly don’t have a clue.  But then nobody else seems to have a clue either. We are learning that models don’t work. But, for the most part, Americans are fortunately blessed with a great sense of humor. If you can still laugh, we’ll be alright.



Innovation and Inspiration: Matt Ridley and “How Innovation Works” by The Elephant's Child

I wrote that screed below because I was annoyed, and went to the Hoover Institution website to see what they had had to say. Where I promptly ran into an interview with British Journalist Matt Ridley on Peter Robinson’s Uncommon Knowledge.

Matt Ridley has a new book out: How Innovation Works and the wide-ranging interview starts there and gets more and more fascinating. It is long, so you need to allow plenty of time, but do make the time if you can. There is so much there! I’m going to have to order the book.  Matt Ridley’s How Innovation Works.  Don’t miss it, and set aside time to enjoy the video.



How Do We Decide What is Real and Who to Believe? by The Elephant's Child

Have you ever stopped to think that almost all of which we consider as “the news” is just what someone has said. If they have the qualifications of belonging to a “news” organization, then it is news. But then whatever a “celebrity” says is also apparently considered to be news, although a “celebrity” is merely someone whose name we recognize.

Hollywood people used to hire press agents to make people think that what they said was of note, so that they could eventually become a “celebrity”. Being a “celebrity” meant that they were more apt to get jobs, because more people were apt to be attracted by the recognized name. They don’t need press agents anymore because they have the press itself, who if they can get a quote from someone whose name is recognized, are apt to get that piece published.

Today’s real “news” is that a dam in Michigan broke and flooded everything below, and people had to be evacuated. The rest of it is what somebody said. I find it helpful to understand the difference, because a lot of what somebody said is inaccurate and biased. Twitter now has a new 20 member fact-checking group to weed out any conservatives. The tech people seem a little lacking on the freedom of speech part, and don’t know how to manage it.

So how do we decide where we are going to learn about what is going on in the world around us, who to trust, and what are the guidelines to use?

Fredrich Hayek, the Austrian-American economist and Nobel Laureate, devoted much of his brilliant career to describing how rationalism could never work. How can anything good happen, Hayek asked, if individuals cannot think and act for themselves? Rules preclude initiative. Regimentation precludes evolution. Letting accidents happen, mistakes be made, results in new ideas. Trial and error is the key to all progress. The Soviet system of rules and central planning is doomed to failure. Hayek stated fifty years ago because it kills the human faculty that makes things work.
Philip Howard: The Death of Common Sense

In a liberal society knowledge –not belief– is the rolling critical consensus of a decentralized community of checkers, and nothing else.
Jonathan Rauch, Kindly Inquisitors



In a Disordered Society, A Little Food for Thought by The Elephant's Child

Constitution

In the current situation, I have dragged out some old, but favorite books: Angelo M. Codevilla’s The Ruling Class, and Milton Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom. I suspect a great many of us are sick of being confined, bossed around, and lied to. I think of government as a management group chosen to take care of the details that we cannot individually cope with. I vaguely hope that those we have chosen are up to the job, but don’t expect all that much. and I usually turn out to be more or less correct. In his Foreword. Professor Codevilla says:

It is about the fact that America now divides ever more sharply into two classes, the smaller of which holds the commanding heights of government, from which it disposes in ever greater detail of America’s economic energies, from which it ordains new ways of living as if it had the right to do so, and from which it asserts that that right is based on the majority class’s stupidity, racism, and violent tendencies.

A little later, in another chapter, he adds:

Our Ruling Class’ agenda is power for itself. It seeks and exercises that power through unremarkable patronage and promises thereof, as well as by courting supporters and denigrating opponents. These ordinary means, however, are having remarkable effects on America’s body politic, because their practice is wrapped up in our Ruling Class’ peculiar intellectual and moral pretenses. Chief among these is an ideological belief that it has an exclusive, Gnostic grip on modern science’s secrets. Nevertheless, as we look at how our Ruling Class is making our economic livelihood ever more dependent on itself, at how it is running a system of representation and a legal system quite opposite to those bequeathed to us by our founders, as well as at how it is disaggregating our families and dispiriting our souls, let us keep in mind that this agenda is driven primarily by mundane personal interest. This agenda proceeds from claims that our Ruling Class knows formulae for spreading economic wealth, for engineering social happiness, and for legal and constitutional fairness. It claims as well to be more resistant than the rest of us to the temptation to profit personally from power. In short, it  proceeds from the premise of human inequality and leads to even greater inequality. But, pretenses notwithstanding, our Ruling Class was no more present at the creation of our nation than the rest of us, nor are they any less self interested. Its members too put on their pants one leg at a time.

Does that sound a bit familiar, as if it is touching on the world of today? We Americans like to think that we are the freest people on earth, that the rest of the world envies us as they cope with their difficult governments. We find AOC fascinating because of her absolute ignorance of American history and American beliefs. Today she was back with the idea that we kept illegal immigrant children in cages, to boost her support for Biden, completely unaware that it was the Obama administration which did that.

Charles Schumer spoke up to say that the Democrats would present us with a “Rooseveltian” world, as if that was something to yearn for. They still believe in FDR’s Administration, unaware that his efforts with the Great Depression made it last seven years longer than it should have. Two economists from UCLA, Lee Ohanian and Harold Cole proved that conclusively. Don’t need to do that again. We should have learned what a failure FDR was, but it’s hard to give up your heroes.  Michael Moore has a new movie out admitting that wind farms and solar arrays do not work. How this will sit with the Democrats remains to be seen. They are very open to the “Green New Deal,” unfortunately.

Milton Friedman’s book is an essential for every library. He asks on the second page:

How can we benefit from the promise of government while avoiding the threat to freedom? Two broad principles embodied in our Constitution give an answer that has preserved our freedom so far, though they have been violated repeatedly in practice while proclaimed as precept.

First. the scope of government must be limited. Its major function must be to protect our freedom both from the enemies outside our gates and from our fellow citizens: to preserve law and order, to enforce private contracts, to foster competitive markets. Beyond this major function, government may enable us at times to accomplish jointly what we would find it more difficult or expensive to accomplish severally. However, any such use of government is fraught with danger. We should not and cannot avoid using government in this way. But there should be a clear and large balance of advantages before we do.  By relying privately on voluntary co-operation and private enterprise, in both economic and other activities, we can insure that the private sector is a check on the powers of the governmental sector and an effective protection of freedom of speech, of religion, and of thought.

The second broad principle is that government power must be dispersed. If government is to exercise power, better in the country than in the state, better in the state than in Washington. If I do not like what my local community does, be it in sewage disposal, or zoning, or schools, I can move to another local community, and though few may take this step, the mere possibility acts as a check. If I do not like what my state does, I can move to another. If I do not like what Washington imposes, I have few alternatives in this world of jealous nations.

You see, we are not alone in our discontent. It has been recognized by some of our most celebrated minds. If that gives you some comfort in your locked-down situation. They tell us that meat should be more plentiful in the grocery stores very shortly, but that is dependent on getting everybody in the meat-packing plants in masks and protective gear, I think. The government recognizes the problem and is working on it. Nobody has explained why I could not get any eggs!

The books are available from Amazon, and used copies are really cheap.

 

 



The People Are Getting Restless! by The Elephant's Child

Americans don’t like being bossed around. The corona virus shutdown has gone on too long and people want to get back to normal. They want to go back to work, a good percentage of those who were working from home would just as soon head back to the office. Life has been so disrupted that they just want it to stop. The advisories about the disease have been challenged so much that they don’t know what’s really necessary anymore. Is it really important to stay six feet away from everyone? Different medical experts don’t agree with each other, and nobody knows who is right or wrong.

Protests are breaking out, people are trying to organize bigger protests, Facebook and Twitter are not going to allow their free speech, because they want to control what people may or may not say on their venues, without understanding that their efforts at control are also offensive. President Trump clearly recognizes the need of the public to get back to work, yet COVID-19 is far more infectious than was originally assumed, and he doesn’t want more Americans to die. How much is needed protection of the American people and how much can be ignored because it is too much control?

Democrats are desperately anxious to prevent Donald Trump from winning a second term. Are they still enraged that Hillary won the popular vote, but not, as the Constitution allows, the Electoral College? They intend to get rid of the Electoral College as quickly as possible, so that will not happen again. Does anyone stop to think about where we would be if Hillary had been elected? We would still have the corona virus emergency. When Hillary was Secretary of State in the Obama Administration, one of her Ambassadors in a country under threat from terrorists, had been begging for weeks for more security. Hillary ignored the pleas, and in consequence killed not only her Ambassador, but his aide and two valiant former Navy Seals who were all lost in an attack on the Embassy.  And she would have protected a nation from a poorly understood virus?

On the other hand, Communism and Socialism appeal to some because they offer more control of the people. America exists because earliest settlers objected to British efforts to control and tax her American citizens. The impulse to control the actions and thoughts of other people is buried deep in human nature. People who are quite sure they are right simply want everybody else to do it their way. You see Communism at work in China, with everyone monitored all the time. Correct and obedient behavior will earn you privileges like being able to take a trip on a train or bus.

So here we are. Feisty Americans are sick of the shutdown, and they want it ended now. How will this one play out? The people of other countries react a little differently. Is it just Americans too used to freedom, and having won wars to defend their freedom  to whom it really matters?



Nancy Pelosi’s Big Ideas Turned Out to Be a Big Flop! by The Elephant's Child

pelosi-angry-glare-impeachment-vote-getty-420x315

The Democrats had a big idea. Big coronavirus crisis, Nation in a state of crisis, good time to get some of our ideas that we haven’t been able to get done passed. Republicans can’t turn us down because they need the coronavirus money. So they just stuffed all their ideas right into a modest 1,400 page bill. Headlines were not complimentary: “Politicians Standing in the Way of Emergency Relief”,”Cynical Power Play on Coronavirus Bill Shows Dems’ Far-Left Stripes,” “Tom Cotton Slams Democrats”, “Nancy Pelosi Coronavirus Bill Creates MultiBillion Slush Fund for Elite Liberal Causes.” “Pelosi Coronavirus Bill Creates Multibillion Slush Fund for Elite Liberal Causes,” Pelosi’s Bill  Contains Return of Obama Phones”, “Pelosi’s Bill Imposes Nationwide Ballot Harvesting,”

The list goes on and on, Diversity forced on Corporate Boards, or just read Tom Cotton’ s MUST READ  thread on what she has included in the bill. Wasn’t such a good idea, the outrage was prompt in arriving. Now and then the Democrats reveal just how far left they are, and the American people aren’t. The American people are justifiably frightened by this virus, we don’t know how deadly it will be. The reports from other countries like Iran and Italy are devastating, We don’t know how many Chinese have died from the Wuhan virus, nor do we know if what the Chinese claim can be trusted. Communist governments are not usually forthcoming with anything that reflects badly on them.

Even President Trump’s advisors don’t know how long the virus will last, how many people it is likely to infect, whether it will die off as warm weather comes on, it’s all guesswork. We have had corona viruses before, but each has its own schedule and invasive qualities. Many states have been only very lightly affected. People compare it to the national deaths from the flu, from traffic accidents, but that doesn’t mean much of anything. I’ll bet when the pharmacies start telling us next year to get our flu shots, more of us will pay attention.

President Trump said in his press conference today that he hopes they can relax the control of groups and meetings by Easter so people can go to church on Easter Sunday, but we don’t know. The media, of course, wanted to excoriate him for even suggesting that it would be over by Easter, but if he hadn’t they would be excoriating him for not, or for something else. The Democrat Media has exhibited an irresponsibility that is rather startling in its extent. They don’t like President Trump, and make that clear at every opportunity. No wonder he calls them Fake News.

Since we in the Seattle Area were the first ones hit in this country, perhaps our results will be the first to show when and if it is tapering off. We’ll see. In the meantime, try being a good neighbor. Help out if you can. Give blood. Try not to “stock up” to such a extent that you are leaving your neighbors without. And take care of yourselves.



And About the American Media: by The Elephant's Child

President Donald Trump calls on a reporter during a coronavirus task force briefing at the White House.

from Michael Goodwin at the New York Post:

The coronavirus epidemic is shaking humanity and turning the world upside down. Quick, somebody alert the media.

The Washington press corps is covering one of the largest, continuing stories in recent history the same way it has covered the Trump administration since Day One.

The formula is simple: Whatever the president does is not just wrong, it’s borderline evil. Details at 11.

In the real world, events are unfolding at a pace and scale impossible to comprehend. But at too many news outlets, the aim is not to inform. It’s to render the harshest possible judgment on the man journalists love to hate.

Hollywood celebrities used to have to hire press agents to get their names and faces in the news (for after all, that is how they become and remain “celebrities.)” Now they just have to say something nasty about the president publicly, or to a reporter.  Interesting to see how many “journalists” have become simply press agents for the Hollywood people that nobody wants to hear from anyway.

Americans are stepping up and doing what they can to help, whether it’s giving blood, sewing masks, turning their skills to producing what is needed, or just helping out their neighbors. Pity about the press.

ADDENDUM: Matt Margolis has an excellent column at PJMedia entitled “The Top 10 Lies About President Trump’s Response to the Coronavirus” Extremely useful in the current media climate.




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