American Elephants


“Kill Chic” by Victor Davis Hanson by The Elephant's Child


Kalashnikov AK47

If you read anything today, read this outstanding piece by Victor Davis Hanson, and share it with friends.

In movies, novels, music, and art, progressives murder their enemies, including presidents, in myriad ways.

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom.

We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping flesh, as if it is some sort of macabre ballet. Rap music has institutionalized violence against women and the police — to the tune of billions in profits, largely as a way for suburban kids to find vicarious street authenticity. And this idea of metaphorically cutting, bleeding, or shooting those whom you don’t like without real consequences has seeped into the national political dialogue.

For example, why does popular culture wink and nod at the widespread metaphorical killing of Republican presidents? Liberals used to believe that words mattered and images had consequences; the casual glorification of carnage trivialized violence and only made it more acceptable — and likely.

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I Goofed. by The Elephant's Child

I see that I have once again been mistaken. President’s Day is this coming Monday, and I thought it was connected to Lincoln’s birthday rather than Washington’s. My tradition has been to recall the birthdays of the two rather than to celebrate the federal day off.  I apologize.



Some Premature Remarks on A Dreadful Tragedy by The Elephant's Child

Since it is way too early for any solid or real commentary on the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, naturally all the Lefties are running off at the mouth. Guns must be banned, of course, and the NRA banished forever. I finally realized why they are so frantic about the National Rifle Association. The NRA donates to Republicans.

Judd Apatow accused Trump of being “too much of a coward” to buck the NRA. Who is Judd Apatow? Is he some sort of celebrity? Chelsea Handler, whoever she is, said we must elect candidates who are not funded by the NRA who allow kids to go to school and get shot. Patricia Arquette, (the name is vaguely familiar), said that “If people can blame drug dealers for the drug problem then we can blame the NRA for the shooting problem.”  Utterly brilliant commentary. But typical.

I can’t forget our legislators, who are never shy about speaking out. Nancy Pelosi said “We have to be bold. We have to go forward. We cannot let the National Rifle Association—however they get their money and that’s another subject—to decide what the character of America is.” One would assume that the head of the NRA, whoever he is, did the shooting all by himself because he hates American children. Dianne Finestein reminded that she has a bill banning assault weapons.

Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) made a speech on the floor of the Senate, apparently in the midst of the shooting. He said that Congress ‘ “inaction” is “responsible for a level of mass atrocity that happens in this country with zero parallel anywhere else.”

As we speak, there is a horrific scene playing out at a high school in south Florida. Turn on your television right now, you’re going to see scenes of children running for their lives, what looks to be the 19th school shooting in this country, and we have not even hit March. I’m coming to the floor to talk about something else, but let me just note, once again for my colleagues, that this happens nowhere else, other than the United States of America. This epidemic of mass slaughter, this scourge of school shooting after school shooting. It only happens here, not because of coincidence, not because of bad luck, but as a consequence of our inaction. We are responsible for a level of mass atrocity that happens in this country with zero parallel anywhere else.

That was too much for even the left-leaning Washington Post, which explained “No, there haven’t been 18 school shootings in 2018. That number is flat wrong.”

Guns are inanimate objects. Guns do not shoot people. People shoot people. America is a big open country, and we publicize all our faults as well as our triumphs. Guns have probably saved a lot more lives than were ever lost to gun violence.

Israel and Europe have had recent bunch of stabbings. Knives are also inanimate objects, useful in the kitchen and elsewhere, but deadly in the hands of someone intent on killing.

In Nice, France, a terror attack with a large white truck killed 84 people and injured many more on Bastille Day. A truck attack in London left 8 dead, but more than 40 injured, including children. There was a deadly truck attack in Jerusalem. A car was the lethal weapon in Melbourne, Australia. There was an attack with a vehicle in Manhattan on October 31st. And a truck attack in Barcelona, Spain, left 14 dead and 100 injured. So we should immediately ban trucks, cars, and the American Automobile Association.

The 18 year-old shooter is in custody, clearly a troubled kid. The FBI was warned about him last year.

Steve Scalise (R-LA), still recovering from being shot by an enraged  Democrat supporter of Bernie Sanders, said “don’t try to promote your agenda in the middle of a tragedy. One  magic law won’t stop shootings.”

Here in Washington State, authorities arrested an 18 year-old whose grandmother discovered his journal with detailed plans to shoot his high school classmates, and detonate homemade bombs at school, and she called 911.  This happened in Snohomish County on Tuesday.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that recognizing ‘signals and signs’ could prevent shootings, and he’s right.  I have never seen much discussion of the fact that the high school years are difficult and troubling for many kids. I don’t think I know anyone who has not been deeply affected by their years in high school. Making friends, falling in love, trying out for things and failing, finding the world increasingly difficult and confusing, and they are still very young and don’t know anything at all.

John Hinderraker has excellent premature observations.



The Grassley-Graham Memo Is Thoroughly Shocking. Press Snoozes. by The Elephant's Child

The source many of us have turned to for information on the ongoing scandal supposed to involve alleged Russian collusion with the Trump campaign is National Review’s Andrew McCarthy. (McCarthy, you will recall, was the U.S. Attorney who tried the Blind Sheik for the first World Trade Center bombing.) Andy knows what he is talking about. He is not interested in removing Trump from office on some pretext. Just in getting to the bottom of things.

In a word, the Grassley-Graham memo is shocking. Yet, the press barely notices.

Rest assured: If a Republican administration had used unverifiable hearsay from a patently suspect agent of the Republican presidential candidate to gull the FISA court into granting a warrant to spy on an associate of the Democratic nominee’s campaign, it would be covered as the greatest political scandal in a half-century.

Instead, it was the other way around. The Grassley-Graham memo corroborates the claims in the Nunes memo: The Obama Justice Department and FBI used anonymously sourced, Clinton-campaign generated innuendo to convince the FISA court to issue surveillance warrants against Carter Page, and in doing so, they concealed the Clinton campaign’s role. Though the Trump campaign had cut ties with Page shortly before the first warrant was issued in October 2016, the warrant application was based on wild allegations of a corrupt conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Moreover, the warrant meant the FBI could seize not only Page’s forward-going communications but any past emails and texts he may have stored — i.e., his Trump campaign communications.

With its verification by the Grassley-Graham memo, the Nunes memo now has about a thousand times more corroboration than the Steele dossier, the basis of the heinous allegations used by the Justice Department and FBI to get the FISA warrants.

The press howled about the Nunes memo, but the Grassley-Graham memo tells us that we need  a full-blown investigation of whatever possessed the Obama administration to hand such shoddy applications to the FISA court, but how a judge managed to rationalize signing the warrants.

Andrew McCarthy adds “We need full disclosure—the warrants, the applications, the court proceedings. No more games.”

Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Graham chairs a relevant subcommittee. They composed their memo in support of a criminal referral recommending that dossier author Christopher Steele be investigated for making false statements to the FBI (a felony). And they have increased their efforts to get more information unsealed, so the public can see it , even if the press does not cover it.

Here, again is the link to McCarthy’s post. Do read the whole thing. Andy explains the legal matters of the whole thing, and just why it is such a potential bombshell of a scandal. They thought that Hillary would win, and their efforts would never come to light. Obama’s name will go down in history—just not the way he planned.



Why Is Infrastructure Always “Crumbling?” by The Elephant's Child

President Donald Trump announced a $1 trillion infrastructure plan at the State of the Union speech on  January 30. But he had earlier revealed a price tag of $1.7 trillion at a meeting with about a hundred mayors of major American cities. The mayors were excited. Mr. Trump said he wanted all of the projects funded by his plan to be “on time and under budget.”

My question was “what is infrastructure?” Are we talking about the power grid? Concern about EMP attacks? The interstate highways? Airports? The president was complaining about our airports back during the campaign. What infrastructure is the responsibility of the federal government and what is the responsibility of the states or those cities? When thinking about “infrastructure” do people think beyond their own familiar potholes?

Why does it always come with the modifier “crumbling”? We have all sorts of big projects going on all over the country to improve transportation, or other things one would probably identify as “infrastructure”— California has a big high speed rail to nowhere that just keeps costing more and more and going nowhere, that nobody seems to want except Jerry Brown.

We have Light Rail here that nobody wants and seems to be a massive boondoggle. It is building across a floating bridge, and nobody seems to know if that will work. They have added what we call “Lexus Lanes” to the freeways where you have to pay a hefty sum to use them and that has screwed up traffic in the rest of the lanes. Our traffic is nothing to write home about. (Better they should have given trucks and buses their own lane.) In DC I think I read that freeway tolls are over $40  for a single trip. No wonder they are back to talking about flying cars.

Obama was going to accomplish great things with his infrastructure project, but he ran into the “shovel ready” problem, and he simply did not know or understand the problems with permitting and environmental regulations, how long they took and how involved they were. The  Transcontinental Railroad took railroad companies six years to lay 1,907 miles of track, tunneling through mountains at one foot a day, building bridges, all mostly by hand.

California’s bullet train is still slowly building and the new deadline is 2025 for high speed rail from San Francisco to San Diego. The old deadline was 2018, but the first leg will only run from  Madera to Shafter, a small town north of Bakersfield. This was the most “shovel ready”stretch when the Obama administration was passing out stimulus funds. The original plan was for 800 miles of high-speed rail up and running by 2020. It will be only very slightly faster than an airline flight if its ever finished. The project’s lead just announced another $2.9 billion increase in costs for the first 119-mile stretch, mostly for land acquisition. Voters approved the project back when it was estimated to cost $40 billion, and a one-way ticket from San Francisco to LA  was expected to be $55. The most recent estimate is $64 Billion and they are talking about routing it through Silicon Valley for obvious reasons.

Elon Musk is still messing around with his hyperloop project, with some success with his models. His greatest expertise seems to be his ability to get governments to subsidize his ideas. Across the country, many cities are engaged in big transportation projects, and I don’t have an impression of many successes.

I went to Google to see what I could find about Obama’s stimulus,  the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). In general, Democrats thought it was a great success, but were a little thin on explanations of what it accomplished. Since I’m a right-leaning crank, I consulted the Hoover Institution and John B. Taylor and John F. Cogan explained that “more than $1 trillion in federal-deficit spending did little or nothing to help the economy, because it was used to pay down debts and reduce borrowing.”

At Fox News, John R. Lott said that “the states hardest hit received the least money. States with higher bankruptcy, foreclosure and unemployment rates got less money. And lower-income states also received less. It looks like Democrats ended up helping their supporters, including unions and many very wealthy supporters.”

It’s easy to get politicians all enthusiastic about big projects that can crown their term with achievement. Think about Eisenhower’s transcontinental highways, or Hoover Dam. It’s very tempting. Obama’s high speed rail fantasy has led to Jerry Brown’s train to nowhere and apparently to the deadly derailment we just had down by Tacoma. It involved a new stretch of track that bypassed an existing rail line. The train was doing 80 mph when it hit a curve engineered for speeds of 30 mph.

“My high-speed rail proposal will lead to innovations that change the way we travel in America,” Obama boldly proclaimed at the time.

Washington state, however, eagerly took the stimulus money and promised to use it to speed up service between Portland and Seattle on Amtrak’s Cascade line.

One of the big projects — which consumed $187 million — went to build a 14.5 mile high-speed bypass between the cities of DuPont and Tacoma.

The stimulus was advertised as financing “shovel ready” projects, but work on the bypass did not begin until 2013, 5 years after the end of the recession.

President Trump is probably better prepared than most presidents to deal with big construction projects. He understands the hazards and the hubris, and knows what is involved. I’m willing to be convinced.



Can Climate Models Predict Climate Change? by The Elephant's Child

No they can’t. Here’s why. Please listen carefully to Dr. William Happer. There is way too much nonsense floating around out there, largely from politicians who are quite sure that declaring themselves as ‘caring about the environment’ is the way to electoral success. Maybe, but it won’t do much for the climate.

You might also visit Dr.Roy Spencer’s website. He’s the scientist who runs the satellites that give us the world temperatures, and he says that we really don’t understand the action of clouds at all.

Hillary was out making a speech today about the drastic changes in climate ahead, and how it was all going to be a problem for women. I kind of lost interest at that point, and didn’t stick around for the rest of it. Something to do with desertification and women having to pack up and move south.

ADDENDUM: I forgot to add a link to Dr.Roy Spencer’s website, though it is available in the sidebar. Good site to explain the basics of global warming science.Good site for those who want to ‘resist’ the alarmist’s insistence that unbelievers should be sent to detention camps to learn correct thinking.



Are You Missing the Elephant in the Room? by The Elephant's Child

The left-wing media is frantically busy fact-checking every word of the State of the Union Speech, defiantly positive that it was all a pack of lies. Yet the American people not only approved of the speech, they really liked it. Trump’s approval rating is up significantly, and that will not do.

Interest in the Super Bowl was way down, many people simply turned it off, extending their rejection of professional football throughout the season. At the Emmys, host Stephen Colbert promised an all-out assault on Trump, and the ratings came in at an all time low. The Grammys took an all-time 24% nosedive to 10 million fewer viewers. CNN, the noted fake news network, has had a ratings disaster, not one program  ranked in the top 23. Movie attendance for Hollywood movies has reached a 24 year low.

Is it possible that there is a message here in all these collapsing ratings? What could it be? How come everything seems to be going down just as things are looking so decisively up? Taxes are way down, and the incomes of ordinary people are way up. Businesses are hiring, employment is up, unemployment is way down. Business is busy passing out bonuses, which on top of a tax cut is very good news for a lot of families.

The left-wing media is apparently so busy fact-checking the State of the Union speech and the Nunes memo, and their general fury at all things Trump, that they simply  haven’t noticed these statistical details in the news.




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