American Elephants

Samuel Eliot Morrison: “Admiral of the Ocean Sea” by The Elephant's Child

History_Ask_History_Did_Columbus_Really_Discover_America_SF_still_624x352How about we just call this “Make Fun Of History Day?” Or ‘I feel so superior because we don’t do the bad thing that our ancestors used to do.’ Tear down the Jefferson Memorial because Thomas Jefferson owned slaves. Destroy his statues!  End history.  This is beyond silly. History is what actually happened. Our knowledge of what went on in another time is limited to the writings of the time. Slavery, at the time, was simply an accepted custom, as was indenture. Teachers were often indentured servants, as were others with little money and needed skills. We look back at the institution of slavery now and realize that it was a horror for those who were enslaved, but that is our mores or customs of today.

Some day in the future, people may find our dangerous way of driving cars on freeways with so many accidents hard to understand. It’s not our business to judge the past, only to learn from it. Besides, if Jefferson had not done anything else, the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark Expedition alone make him worthy of that beautiful memorial.

So pay no attention to those trying to rewrite history. Here’s an excerpt from Samuel Eliot Morrison’s biography of Christopher Columbus Admiral of the Ocean Seas: A Life of Christopher Columbus. Learn a little about him instead.

At the end of 1492 most men in Western Europe felt exceedingly gloomy about the future. Christian civilization appeared to be shrinking in area and dividing into hostile units as its sphere contracted. For over a century there had been no important advance in natural science and registration in the universities dwindled as the instruction they offered became increasingly jejune and lifeless. Institutions were decaying, well-meaning people were growing cynical or desperate, and many intelligent men, for want of something better to do, were endeavoring to escape the present through studying the pagan past. . . .

Yet, even as the chroniclers of Nuremberg were correcting their proofs from Koberger’s press, a Spanish caravel named Nina scudded before a winter gale into Lisbon with news of a discovery that was to give old Europe another chance. In a few years we find the mental picture completely changed. Strong monarchs are stamping out privy conspiracy and rebellion; the Church, purged and chastened by the Protestant Reformation, puts her house in order; new ideas flare up throughout Italy, France, Germany and the northern nations; faith in God revives and the human spirit is renewed. The change is complete and startling: “A new envisagement of the world has begun, and men are no longer sighing after the imaginary golden age that lay in the distant past, but speculating as to the golden age that might possibly lie in the oncoming future.”

Christopher Columbus belonged to an age that was past, yet he became the sign and symbol of this new age of hope, glory and accomplishment. His medieval faith impelled him to a modern solution: Expansion.

Thanks to Instapundit for the excerpt.

Chicago Has Had 16 Mass Shootings This Year. The President Didn’t Notice. by The Elephant's Child

President Obama does not intend to be restrained by custom, regulation or Constitution. When a 26 year old student fatally shot nine people and injured nine others on campus, then killed himself, President Obama announced that any such incident should be politicized, and promptly ordered the nation’s news media to politicize it.

He has flown to Roseburg, Oregon to commiserate with the families. I don’t know if having the president there to sympathize helps any, but it is a dreadful tragedy, and I’m sure the president wants to help.

The President’s home town, Chicago, has had 16 mass shootings this year, 48 since 2013 A mass-shooting is categorized as when 4 or more people are wounded in a single shooting incident, but there is no official government database or definition of a “mass shooting” though the FBI defines a “mass murder” as 4 or more victims killed.

The shootings that don’t spark national debates are the ones in inner cities, where the shootings are often categorized as gang-related and the victims are poor minorities. In other words: the ones that happen in Chicago.

Professor James Alan Fox, who co-wrote “Mass Shootings In America,” said there are several key characteristics of inner-city mass shootings that distinguish them from the ones that tend to garner national attention.

For one, the shooter’s profiles are different, Fox said. Their motives are different, too: In urban areas, the violence often stems from interpersonal disputes and criminal activity, Fox said.

“It’s crooks killing crooks,” he said of inner-city violence. “It seems like, in school shootings, the victims are more innocent.”

“Chicago has strict gun control laws, so there is no political capital to be harvested by paying attention to mass shootings there.”

(h/t: Thomas Lifson, American Thinker)

Plastic Bags Are a Great Modern Invention! by The Elephant's Child

bags2 As long as I’m on a roll, let’s address the plastic bag problem. Actually, there is no plastic bag problem, but a problem with aggressive Greens. I’ve written about plastic bags way too often. Just enter “plastic bags” in the search bar over Bob Hope’s head in the sidebar. You can learn how this all came about, the dangers of cloth bags, the cost-benefit effect, and all about City Councils’ overbearing regulations.

Seattle, always sensitive to ‘sustainability’ problems or sensitivity among their residents, essentially bans paper and plastic bags. They will charge you if you don’t bring your own cloth bag. Which may be fine and dandy for  a single person living in a small apartment just a few blocks from the grocery store.

I don’t particularly enjoy grocery shopping — it’s just another task, so I try to go no more than once a week. I load up something over 20 plastic bags. I’m supposed to buy 30 cloth bags and wash them (necessary for safety) between each use? I have ranted far too many times, but Katherine Mangu-Ward writing in Reason magazine says:

Plastic bags for retail purchases are banned or taxed in more than 200 municipalities and a dozen countries, from San Francisco to South Africa, Bellingham to Bangladesh. Each region serves up its own custom blend of alarmist rhetoric; coastal areas blame the wispy totes for everything from asphyxiated sea turtles to melting glaciers, while inland banners decry the bags’ role in urban landscape pollution and thoughtless consumerism.

But a closer look at the facts and figures reveals shaky science and the uncritical repetition of improbable statistics tossed about to shore up the case for a mostly aesthetic, symbolic act of conservation.

Her article is thorough and well done, and worth your time. She has traced the plastic bag back to it’s beginnings, and covers the dangers inherent in cloth bags, though I’m not sure she emphasizes them enough. But finally, she admits to cultural and economic pressures, and uses cloth bags herself.

I remain defiant and unreformed. The objections to modern plastic bags are ill informed, the dangers of unwashed cloth bags too severe, and besides I have two cats and I need plastic bags for the kitty litter, and the other noxious things that turn up around my house in the woods.

I’m also getting really tired of the ‘public service announcements’ that are designed to make me hew to the green agenda, and whatever new idea the EPA has this week.

When Talking Immigration, Ususally No Two People Are Talking About The Same Thing. by The Elephant's Child

pic_embed920_042815_SM_Amnesty-Rally-GThe biggest problem with writing about the immigration issue is usually that no two people are actually talking about the same thing. There are those who look benignly on the issue and proclaim that immigrants have greatly benefitted the United States, ‘melting pot’ and all that. And they are absolutely correct.

The assumption is that our illegal immigrant problem is located on our southern border and entirely Hispanic. Pundits have made fun of Governor Scott Walker for suggesting that there is a problem with our border in Canada. We may be annoyed with Mexico at present, but we love Canadians.

Walker is quite correct. There is a different, much less publicized form of illegal immigrant coming in from Canada. U.S, Customs and Border Protection  (CPB) has apprehended border jumpers from Albania, The Czech Republic, Israel and India. The downturn in our employment numbers has had the benefit of lowering the incentive to try to get in. They cross the waterways by boat, jet ski or by swimming, and Wisconsin is on the border.

There are H1B immigrants. Obama has granted their wives permission to take jobs. The August jobs report came in with only 173,000 new jobs, and only 62.6 percent of working age Americans actually working. Disney not only fired their tech workers — to be replaced by H1B immigrants, but forced them to train their replacements or lose their severance pay.

We  have illegal aliens marching in the streets with signs proclaiming that “No Human Being Is Illegal,” which is a fatuous statement. According to Merriam Webster: il•le•gal (adj.) not allowed by law, or not according to or authorized by law. Simple clear definition. No racial or ethnic prejudice is involved. Alien (noun) a person who was born in different country and is not a citizen of the country in which he now lives. A foreign born resident who has not been naturalized and is still a subject or citizen of a foreign country. The illegal-immigration lobby has banned the term ” illegal alien.”

There is an assumption by some that illegal aliens are here because they want to be Americans. Yet, in 2001 Christopher Jenks reported that “Roughly 10 % of the American population now speaks Spanish at home.”

Many Mexicans…see themselves as sojourners who will return home once they have made some money. The typical Mexican male earns about half what a non-Latino white earns, so if he compares himself to other Americans he is likely to feel like a failure. But if he compares himself to the Mexicans with whom he grew up, he is likely to feel quite successful. So he clings to his Mexican identity, sends money back to his parents, goes home for holidays with gifts that his relatives could not otherwise afford, tries to buy property in Mexico for his retirement, and retains his Mexican citizenship.

Victor Davis Hanson writes in an important column about some of the current problems. Do read the whole thing.

“Mexico and Central American nations receive $50 billion a year in remittances from their expatriate citizens in the United States. But if illegal aliens were impoverished and exploited as their home countries alleged, how could they transfer such monumental sums back home — and why would not their mother countries worry about the ensuing burdens placed upon their low-wage-earning citizens abroad?”

“Then the myth arose that criminality among illegal aliens was in fact lower that found in the general population, as if it mattered not at all that a quarter of all federal prisoners were in the United States illegally, or that some states reported that more than a fourth of their felonies were attributable to illegal aliens, or that around 20,000 illegal aliens from south of the border were routinely incarcerated in California prisons alone. Completely lost in the back and forth was the old notion that an immigrant, legal or illegal, was supposed to be a guest, whose behavior should be the model, rather than defended as no worse than those whom he joined.”

The State Department only occasionally releases numbers of people on the waiting list for family based immigration. In 2009, they reported that more than 2.7 million people were awaiting interviews overseas for their immigrant visa. There were also another 2.7 million waiting in the United States for USCIS to process their family visa application. Visa demand at that time was more than 20 times what our law allows in annual visa issuances. That’s for family members of legal immigrants.

Canada and Australia limit their numbers of immigrants roughly as Harvard and Stanford limit their admissions. They have many applicants and see no reason why they should not admit only those most qualified and most likely to be of the most value to the country. Why is this not a sound idea?

In 2012, 4.6 million individuals world-wide who had been approved to be sponsored for green cards by U.S. citizens had to step aside for a while in order for the USCIS to process the deferred action applications of people hoping to qualify under the Obama administration’s Dreamers Scheme.

None of this has anything to do with the influx of illegals and unaccompanied children who arrive on top of Mexican trains to be greeted at the border and disseminated by the Obama administration all over the 50 states. Few have reported back to Immigration as they were told to do, and have just dissolved into the general population.

Partisan politics has intruded on legal immigration laws. Democrats want more Democrat voters, and are anxious to get them registered to vote, ignoring our voting laws as well as our immigration laws. It’s little wonder that Donald Trump has struck a sensitive chord in the general electorate.  Unfortunately his only solution is to build a great big wall — across all 2,000 miles of our southern border.

The EPA Is A Lawless, Rogue Agency That Should Be Abolished. by The Elephant's Child

unofficial-stream-small-custom-e1339556645568We have complained about Congress’ inclination to pass a broad law and turn the clarifying, defining and rulemaking functions over to a federal agency. That’s not quite fair, except in the case of the Clean Water Act (CWA).

The Clean Water Act regulates the discharge of pollution into navigable waters. Rather than limit the definition of “navigable waters” to mean waters that are interstate and navigable in fact—the Clean Water Act broadens the definition of “navigable waters” so as to include non-navigable waters in order to give federal regulators a greater degree of environmental oversight. It was passed in 1972, with some specific exclusions, and has been a fairly steady source of litigation ever since.

In 2006, in Rapanos v. United States, four left-leaning justices ruled that there are no limits on federal jurisdiction. Four right-leaning justices ruled that federal jurisdiction is limited to “relatively permanent, standing, or continuously flowing bodies of water forming geographic features.” One justice (Kennedy) wrote that a water or wetland constitutes “navigable waters” under the Act if it possesses a “significant nexus” to waters that are navigable in fact or that could reasonably be so made.  You see the problem.

In May of this year, the EPA and the USACE (the Army Corps of Engineers) interpreted the Rapanos decision in the broadest fashion they could and promulgated the “Waters of the United States” rule, supposedly to clarify federal jurisdiction.

  • The EPA colluded with environmental special interests at the Sierra Club to manipulate the public comment period, in possible violation of federal anti-lobbying laws, as reported by The New York Times.
  • Also, the EPA ignored state input during the public comment period, in blatant contravention of the principles of cooperative federalism established by the Clean Water Act.

It’s all based on the term “significant nexus,” and ephemeral streams were added to federal jurisdiction, so all the feds have to do is claim jurisdiction—ant the argument can be made that everything is connected. Including ponds, ditches and puddles.

Fast forward to last Thursday August 27: a federal judge in North Dakota blocked the new Obama administration rule that would  the federal government jurisdiction over some state waterways.give

U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson of North Dakota issued a temporary injunction against the rule, which gives the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers authority to protect some streams, tributaries and wetlands under the Clean Water Act. The rule was scheduled to take effect Friday.

“The risk of irreparable harm to the states is both imminent and likely,” Erickson said in blocking the rule from taking effect.

Thirteen states led by North Dakota were involved in the lawsuit: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, South Dakota and Wyoming.

August 28, Headline, Fox News: “EPA says clean water rule in effect despite court ruling” (Heather MacDonald: “lawlessness breeds lawlessness”) Apparently— never mind the federal court, we’re going to do what want! The EPA says the rule will safeguard drinking water for millions of Americans. Well, of course you have noticed the millions of Americans dropping dead from drinking puddle water and ditch water. The American Farm Bureau has declared war. Lawsuits to block the regulation are pending across the country, Congress has moved to thwart it, The White House has threatened to veto.  Opposition, however comes from both parties, businesses and most states.

The EPA has become known as an out-of-control rogue agency, and is probably the most hated agency in the government— though that designation may be up for grabs. When the head of the executive branch makes law on his own, ignores laws at his pleasure, and in general ignores his sacred oath, the agencies under his direction do the same. “Lawlessness breeds lawlessness.”

In the wake of the Gold King Mine spill of 3 or more million gallons of  toxic mine tailings into the Animus River, turning the river a nasty mustard color, the EPA is undoubtedly anxious to get news about their agency out of the nation’s consciousness.Bad timing. Now that the toxic waters have progressed to Lake Powell and past, the media has quietly dropped the daily pictures—just as they are about to reach Grand Canyon National Park. There is a limit to the amount of bad news an agency can cope with.

Not a Lot of Media Coverage of the Decline and Fall of the EPA by The Elephant's Child

gty_mine_wastewater_spill_03_jc_150811_4x3_992-e1439327486898-620x266Have you noticed that there is not a lot of media coverage about the big EPA toxic mine tailings spill? Have you noticed that EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy is not out in the Navajo lands consulting with Navajo Nation president Russell Begaye? The spill has been quietly upped from one million gallons to three million gallons, but that’s pretty complicated math and probably nobody knows.

This is very big and very bad news for the EPA and for the Obama Administration. It has been six days, and we still don’t know just what happened, just how toxic the surge is, and how long-lasting it will be. They have spoken of  toxic metals, lead, arsenic, cadmium (which I assume is responsible for the yellow color) and what else? There are lots of farms and ranches. How do they cope with water being trucked in, and what do they do with their livestock?

Perhaps the national press will take notice when the plume of yellow muck reaches the Grand Canyon National Park. I have been interested to see the utter contempt with which many seem to regard the Environmental Protection Agency.

Republicans Have a Deep, Talented and Accomplished Field. by The Elephant's Child

Republican presidential candidates (L-R), former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, former Texas Governor Rick Perry, former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, former HP CEO Carly Fiorina and former New York Governor George Pataki, pose before the start of a Fox-sponsored forum for lower polling candidates held before the first official Republican presidential candidates debate of the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign in Cleveland, Ohio, August 6, 2015. (Photo: Aaron Josefczyk/Reuters)

I wasn’t really pleased with the debate last night. Republicans have a stunning array of outstanding candidates. The two-tier format relegated some to a lesser tier that everyone is trying to find a better name for, because at this point so early in the campaign this was just the first introduction of many of these governors of ‘other states’ whose faces and ideas were unfamiliar, and polls this early are meaningless. The media, of course, cannot wait to make a dramatic horse race of it.

Republicans have a deep, talented field and it is going to be hard to choose among them. Each of us has some we would eliminate right off, but those might well be someone else’s favorites. I don’t favor the media’s “gotcha” questions. “You said something entirely different last month is Kalamazoo, which statement do you actually mean?” That’s not what I want to know.

I cannot remember a time when there were so many deeply serious questions. The president has decided to ignore our three houses of government and take legislative function into his own hands, what do we do about it? Many believe that President Obama’s “Iran Deal” signs a death warrant for America and Israel, as that is Iran’s clear aim. Our president cannot bring himself to say ‘Islamic terrorism’ or ‘Islamic radicalism’ which has clearly had an effect on our foreign policy?

What does Obama intend by surrendering to Cuba, and what does he hope to gain and why? With so many trouble spots all over the world, why are we attempting to reduce the size and effectiveness of our military forces? With so many cyber-attacks on our national security and government computers, what would you do about it? Is there any other country in the world where the government subsidizes abortion and selling the body parts, or bodies, of aborted babies? Why should we be the leader in this ghoulish practice?

The president’s unilateral “Clean Power Plan” intends to arbitrarily remove more than 30 percent of our electricity-generating capacity from the national grid, for what many believe is completely flawed reasons, in the face of a world that is not warming, but growing colder. Cold kills. What would you do about it? Vladimir Putin has just laid claim to the North Pole. China has claimed the South China Sea and intends to defend their claim with artificial islands it is building. Your response? This has been the worst recovery since World War II. How would you turn it around? Our economy over the last 7 years has been one of exceptional growth of government, and even more, one of excessive regulation. What would  you do about that?

If we are deeply troubled by the problems we face, we want to know which candidates are also troubled, and what they believe are the potential answers. The Democrats got us into this mess.


Moderators seem to believe they must ask hard questions, but those they think of as ‘hard’ are not the ones we’re worried about. And I know I’m leaving out a lot. Trump is whining that the moderators weren’t nice to him.


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