American Elephants


It Isn’t Really About Religious Liberty, That’s Just an Excuse! by The Elephant's Child

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Today’s big Kerfuffle is about the Religious Freedom law that Indiana’s Governor Mike Pence just signed into law. It is simply a state-level version of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) which imposes a “strict scrutiny” legal standard when state or local governments pass laws that interfere with the free exercise of religion. Governor Pence and Indiana’s legislators have been denounced as gay-hating bigots, a claim never made when President Bill Clinton signed the federal RFRA, or even about the people and officials of the 20 states with a RFRA. There are another dozen or so states that also have constitutional provisions that are similar.

Ssssh!  It’s not about religious freedom. It about Mike Pence who has been a successful and accomplished governor, is nice looking, very likeable, and who is one of a number of outstanding governors who might well run for the office of the President of the United States. This is what today’s far-left progressives do. The issue is never the issue. And this one is about an attempt to attack Mike Pence and disqualify him as a potential Republican candidate.

If you remember, Rick Perry was disqualified as a potential Republican candidate because of the way he melted down in the debates last time. Melted down? Well, not exactly. He went blank on a third agency he wanted to mention and couldn’t think of it. Something that has happened to lots of us. But the actual small blank moment has been boosted into a “complete disqualification.” Who says? Well, all those news people.

Then there was Chris Christie. It was the bridge thing. He was accused of deliberately blocking a bridge in order to influence votes by making commuters angry. He was absolved of the accusation, but the issue has been boosted into a “complete disqualification.”

Then there was Governor Scott Walker. A New York Times writer accused him of slashing the funds for schools and laying off teachers. Ooops! The writer was Gail Collins, and the slashing of funds, such as it was, happened in the previous administration before Scott Walker took office.

Ted Cruz, who just announced his candidacy, has already been accused as being even more unprepared for office than former state senate backbencher who kept voting present, and was a community organizer. He has been tarred with the McCarthy label, and many more drastic accusations will be forthcoming. What could scare the hard left more? He is conservative, has a link to the immigrant community, speaks Spanish, is an accomplished attorney who has argued for the State of Texas before the Supreme Court many times and often successfully, and is admittedly brilliant.

This is the pattern for the Left. Republican candidates will be portrayed as waging war on women and minorities, favoring only the rich, inflicting pain on working families to benefit the wealthy few, not caring about the poor and vulnerable, while Republicans say the left is using class warfare tactics, or being divisive. Democrats go for the throat, Republicans are too polite to do so, and try to explain how lower taxes for everyone will benefit the economy.

So the issue (religious freedom) is not the issue. The real issue is getting rid of Republican candidates who might be attractive to voters. Attacking religious fundamentalists (the anti-religion crowd has never gotten over Hobby Lobby). Distracting national attention from the poisonous Iran deal negotiations. And finding someone to replace Hillary who is building up a huge scandal with her email evasion before she even declares as a candidate.



“The Political Assault On Climate Skeptics” by The Elephant's Child

David Horowitz said to always remember that with Progressives, the issue is never the issue. In that light, consider the current Progressive campaign to attack climate science “deniers,” as they call us, on every front. So what’s happening?

Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, the chairman of the UN’s intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has resigned from the IPCC, brought about by allegations of sexual harassment. Christopher Booker says “he should have resigned in 2012 when the IPCC report was shown to have been full of wildly unscientific errors emanating from green activists.

Then evidence appeared that NOAA has been tampering with climate data, adjusting it to show the “warming trend” that the Obama administration was claiming as evidence to support the veto of the Keystone Pipeline, the executive action closing the Arctic Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration, the millions going to Obama cronies for solar arrays and wind farms. A federal judge in Texas has held up Obama’s Amnesty, and noticed that White House lawyers neglected to mention that Obama had already given work permits to 100,000 illegals

Republicans are not only interfering in Obama’a Iran negotiations, but challenging them, and pointing out evidence that Obama’s strategy is not exactly what will create peace in the Middle East. Progressives need a distraction to point the media in the right direction. The issue is not the issue.

Democrats have launched a major campaign to discredit academics, politicians and climate scientists who are skeptical of man-made global warming. Representative Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee, has demanded that seven universities reveal the funding sources of affiliated scientists who are skeptical of man-made global warming. The information demanded is voluminous in quantity, (they want the e-mails too), and beyond annoying. Steven Hayward reveals the ignorance of the House Committee’s demands. As Hayward said, “Is the good congressman really telling us that he is incapable of assessing factual claims and judgments about the wisdom of policy on the merits alone?”Be interesting if we demanded the funding sources for Democrats who purvey discredited falsehoods about climate change.

Companies with a direct financial interest in climate and air-quality standards are funding environmental research that influences state and federal regulation and shapes public understanding of climate scientists,” Grijalva wrote to the presidents of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Georgia Institute of Technology, Pepperdine University, Arizona State University, the University of Alabama, University of Colorado and University of Delaware.

Scientists targeted are some of the most respected in the field, but they are skeptical, with good reason. MIT’s Dr. Richard Lindzen, Georgia Tech’s Dr. Judith Curry, Colorado’s Dr. Roger Pielke Jr., and the University of Alabama’s John Christy and Roy Spencer. Word has gone out from Organizing for Action, Obama’s campaign organization, to join in on targeting climate change deniers.

Christy and Spencer operate the Remote Sensing Systems satellite dataset, which since the weather stations have been shown to be undependable due to locations next to AC hot air vents, concrete walls reflecting heat, and trash burners, are the only reliable temperature data on a worldwide basis. That shows no significant warming trend for more than 18 years.

Dr. Pielke has presented research that shows that global warming is not making weather more extreme. “It is misleading and just plain incorrect to claim that disasters associated with hurricanes, tornadoes, floods or droughts have increased on climate timescales either in the U.S. or globally.

Particularly attacked was Dr. Wei-Hock “Willie” Soon, a researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. after a New York Times article claiming that Dr.Soon had received $1.25 million in  undisclosed money from fossil fuel companies. Corporate funding! As opposed to money from billionaire Tom Steyer or the secretive Democracy Alliance, for example?

Three Democratic senators (Barbara Boxer, Edward Markey and Sheldon Whitehouse) have asked more than 100 energy companies and trade groups to provide details on their research spending.

Their objective? To find out whether the organizations “are funding scientific studies designed to confuse the public and avoid taking action to cut carbon pollution, and whether the funded scientists fail to disclose the sources of their funding in scientific publications or in testimony to legislators.”

The witch hunt is particularly revealing, for none of the perpetrators actually know anything about climate science whatsoever. What they know is “the 97 percent,” the “majority of climate scientists,” cutting “carbon pollution.” As is common with progressives, they know talking points, without understanding that talking points are not science. They are just repeating political charges that have no basis in fact.

Here is MIT’s Dr. Richard Lindzen appearing on Fox News:

These guys think saying climate changes, saying it gets warmer or colder by a few tenths of a degree should be taken as evidence that the end of the world is coming. And it completely ignores the fact that until this hysteria, climate scientists used to refer to the warm periods in our history as optima.

Here is a reprint of Dr. Richard Lindzen’s article in the Wall Street Journal about “The political Assault on Climate Skeptics,” which is an excellent summary of the sheer stupidity of the useless Congressional attempt to discredit the top climate scientists.



“We Need To Face Reality. There Is No Planet B.” by The Elephant's Child

U.S. Secretary of State Kerry speaks about the Ukraine crisis after his meetings with other foreign ministers in Paris

Secretary of State John Kerry delivered a haughty speech on climate change at the Atlantic Council in Washington on Thursday. He is upset that those Republican yokels don’t understand that climate change is happening and that humans are largely responsible, and those facts should be as universally accepted as the law of gravity.

Well, we yokels do accept the laws of gravity, not so much because Sir Isaac Newton said so, but because it is an observable truth. I would be most gratified if the dishes I drop would float for a while before falling, so I could catch them before they break, but gravity triumphs every time.

No one denies that climate change is happening. The climate is always changing, always will. It has been far warmer in the past, and far colder as well. We  have all heard of Ice Ages. What we are skeptical about is that the current warming phase occurs only in computer climate programs — not in the real world. In the real world, where accurate temperatures across the world are measured by satellites, there hasn’t been any warming for eighteen years. Mr. Kerry said:

Now folks, we literally do not have the time to waste debating whether we can say ‘climate change.’ We have to talk about how we solve climate change. Because no matter how much people want to bury their heads in the sand, it will not alter the fact that 97 percent of peer-reviewed climate studies confirm that climate change is happening and that human activity is largely responsible.”

Oh dear, the 97% “consensus” (2013) Cook et. al. has been refuted in scholarly peer-reviewed journals, major news media, public policy organizations and think tanks, credentialed scientists. 100 percent of the former say that warming has nearly stopped.

I’ll bet Mr. Kerry has never read any of the science, but only accepted what he believes to be the conventional wisdom.  He insisted that last year was the warmest of all, (it wasn’t even close ) and added that “I don’t mean to sound haughty” — when has he ever not? I’m not sure that you can be a skeptic and a member of the Obama administration.

He issued a passionate call for nations to forgo the short-term lure of “outdated” fossil fuels — “The bottom line is that we can’t only factor in the price of immediate energy needs. We have to factor in the cost of long-term carbon pollution. We have to factor in survival.”

“We need to face reality,” he added. “There is no ‘Planet B.’”

Joe Biden made a speech along exactly the same line. “Climate Change is as real as the law of gravity” so that is apparently the administration’s approved line of the day. It is a concerted Democratic assault on “deniers,”or those who do not follow the party line on climate change orthodoxy.  Why? Because as with all progressive campaigns, the issue is never the issue.

The computer climate simulations put in what information we knew about the climate for sure, which wasn’t much, some assumptions, some complete guesses, and unfortunately could not predict the climate of today—when we already knew the correct answer. There is a lot that remains unknown — especially the action of clouds, and if you are a cloud-watcher, that difficulty is easy to understand.

When new Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell first spoke to her department, she said  “I hope there aren’t any deniers here!” That orthodoxy is clearly expected in the Obama administration, and it is clearly expected in the Science departments of many universities.

Climate science, because of governmental interest — which includes grants, prestige, higher salaries. For the university more interest, more money, better equipment. Aside from government grants, there is money from NGOs and even some corporations. If the world is really heating up dangerously a lot of people want to know about it. Scientists in many different departments suddenly found that they could write a good grant proposal and suddenly they were climate scientists and in the money.

The list of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) dependent on global warming panic for their funding and livelihood is long, and you know the big ones. NRDC, Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Wilderness Society, World Wildlife Fund, Nature Conservancy, National Audubon Society,Environmental Defense Fund—that’s just a few of the biggies. There are literally hundreds more.

They have depended on emotional appeals to raise money and entice activists to the cause — first, it was baby harp seals who were being clubbed to death, then the spotted owl, and finally the Greens latched on to the polar bears as their standard-bearer. Not enough ice, the bears were endangered, going to go extinct if you didn’t cough up enough funding. The bears were never endangered, though they did get them labeled “threatened, but better surveys certified that the bears were just fine, increasing in numbers, and Arctic ice melts in the summer and grows in the winter, and in recent winters of “polar vortexes” is more extensive than ever.

It seems, however, that Mr. Kerry’s speech and Mr. Biden’s speech are only the tip of a fairly massive iceberg floating along under the surface. More to come.

 



A Question of Character. by The Elephant's Child

hillary clintonHillary’s greatest problem is that though she has a profound interest in politics, she has really lousy political instincts. That is a sense of the right thing to do and a sense for how one’s actions will appear to others. The Clinton administration was full of controversy, the travel office scandal erupted early, as did Hillary’s expectation of being Bill’s co-president.

What she learned instead was a defensiveness and self-protective attitude that led to lies and concealment. Bill had pretty good political instincts, and a good-old-boy, aw-shucks grin that served him pretty well. You would think that observing Lois Lerner and her e-mail scandal would have alerted Hillary to potential troubles, but instead it led her to have her own private server installed in her home. Secretiveness replaced openness. When you try to pretend openness as a protective pose — nobody believes you anyway. It’s too late.

Good political instincts would have prevented the whole catastrophe of Benghazi. Deposing Muammar Gaddafi, refusing security to the ambassadorial mission, denial of the nature of the terrorist attackers, refusing help to the embattled American contractors, and then the absurd attempt to blame it all on a short, dumb video, and then Hillary met the plane with the bodies returning to the United States, and assured mourning parents that they would get the guy who made the video.

Any careful read of Hillary’s history should prevent her from ever being considered as “the first woman president” which seems to be her aim. I don’t accept the idea of first of this sex, first of this ethnicity, first of this color. That is not what is important about a person’s qualifications, but rather their accomplishments and their character. Can we trust them with high office? Do they have a good understanding of American history and character? Do they have a good mind? Do they have good political instincts?  Trust it to the Left to always put the emphasis on the wrong things.



Iran Proceeds Resolutely On It’s Way, Ignoring the Talks. by The Elephant's Child

AP080923010567 Iran on Sunday unveiled their new cruise missile that it claimed would extend the Islamic Republic’s potential range to 2,500 kilometers, placing cities like Budapest, Warsaw and Athens within striking difference. Their intercontinental ballistic missiles are not part of the nuclear talks with Iran, we are told. Tehran has refused to include their growing missile-development program as part of the negotiations. It is not any part of the deal, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reminded us last week in his speech to Congress.

The Soumar missile, as it is known in Iran, is a copy of the Soviet Kh-55 which was stolen from the Ukraine in 2001 and apparently reverse engineered in Iran. It flies at low altitude and is thus hard for radar to detect. The payload is reportedly in the 200-kilogram range, not yet capable of delivering a nuclear device. It does, however raise the question of U.S. plans to station missile defense systems in Europe. Russia has long contended that Iranian missiles threaten neither Europe nor the U.S.. This is an interesting development, if it was taken without Russian consent.

Back when he as a mere candidate, Barack Obama said that diplomacy with rogue regimes was an important issue “The notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them… is ridiculous,’ he declared in 2007. “If countries like Iran are willing to unclench their fist, they will find an extended hand from us,” he told Al-Arabiya. He has been so determined on a deal that he hasn’t let anything stand in the way — not Congress, not our allies, and especially not the facts.

Unfortunately, the State Department does not conduct after-action reports, forcing participants to confront their mistakes, like the Army does. The State Department has no clear metrics for such measurement. Michael Rubin notes that:

Too many American diplomats dismiss the need to consider mistakes. Instead, many are committed to the belief that talking is a cost-free, risk-free strategy. Testifying before the Senate in support of Obama’s outreach to Iran, Nicholas Burns, the second undersecretary of state for foreign affairs under George W. Bush, promised, “We will be no worse off if we try diplomacy and fail.”

We project our American understandings onto other countries with different cultures — who see entering into discussions as a weak response, and lifting the sanctions as complete surrender. Ignorance of an adversary’s true intentions can kill. Obama seems to believe that Iranians are reasonable people who really want the same things we do. Obama’s foolish rush into a deal with Iran would be disastrous.

Every U.S. administration has attempted to bring Iran into the family of nations in spite of its rhetoric and in spite of its actions. It’s hard for nations who yearn for peace to understand those that yearn for the apocalypse. In the  year before Obama agreed to talks with Iran, the Iranian economy had shrunk by 5.4 percent. To bring them to the table, Obama has released more than $11 billion to Iran. The only two times Iran has reversed course after swearing to a course of no compromises have been when Iran was close to collapse. Michael Rubin says — Only one thing will deter Iran: “forcing the regime to choose between its nuclear ambition and its survival.” Pretending to delay them for ten years is pathetic.

Does Obama think his deal will deter Iran? Does he believe that ten years will let him off the hook? Or does he simply have no understanding of the consequences of his actions nor consider the possibility that he might indeed be wrong.



But We Were Sure It Would Save Money! by The Elephant's Child

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One of Obama’s big promises about ObamaCare was that once people had the wonderful new “Affordable Care”insurance,  emergency room use would sharply decline and the country would save all sorts of money on medical care. Conservatives knew that was bunk, but the Affordable Care Act passed without a single Republican vote — for good reason, and really, not because we hate the president. We just hate his health care bill.

A peculiarity of Progressives is that they decide a policy would be another step on the path to a ‘better world,’ but they don’t spend much effort on analyzing how it would actually work. They have enrolled lots more people who were uninsured in Medicaid. They feel wonderful about that — all ‘Lady Bountiful’. That they have at the same time, in order to make it affordable, cut back so far on what they will pay doctors, that nobody in need of health care can find a doctor who will accept Medicaid’s low payment. Voila! Increased use of emergency rooms.

ABC reports that Bakersfield Memorial Hospital broke records and now serve 300 people daily in the ER. A Registered Nurse, Jenny Wilson, with Memorial Hospital explains that they have developed a fast track system that categorizes the patients based on illness and directs the less serious cases with sprains, cold or cough to get quick treatment and then releases them.

A Los Angeles Times article confirmed that according to state records, Los Angeles County’s 74 emergency rooms, 11 treated an additional 2,000 patients or more in the first six months of 2014 compared with the same time in 2013.

The VA scandal arose when veterans died before they could finally get an appointment to be seen. Higher-ups demanded that hospitals see more patients in less time in order to save money, but hospitals could not meet the demand, so in order to save their jobs, they parked people on hidden wait lists. Apparently nobody asked if it was possible to do what was requested. It wasn’t. But veterans inconveniently died when forced to wait too long.

ObamaCare was going to save all sorts of money by computerizing everybody’s records, so everybody could share them, and the federal government would have national records of the nation’s health that they could study and find even more ways to save money. Hospitals and clinics, at great expense and trouble have indeed computerized.

My local hospital and all the associated clinics are getting used to the system, though it means that in most cases the doctor spends his time interacting with the computer instead of the patient. That’s a problem. An even larger problem is that hospitals can’t talk to each other. Their systems were separately designed, and the programming cannot and will not connect unless re-done. Affordable Care isn’t affordable.

Rules create incentives, regulations have consequences— often unintended. That is true in all of life. Progressives eyes are so fixed on the warm feelings to be engendered by their action that they just don’t expect any untoward consequences. Need proof? These are the people who think they can run up the national debt to $18 trillion, without understanding that they have to pay it back.



Is There No End To Obama’s Drive to Control Everything With “Executive Orders?” by The Elephant's Child

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President Barack Obama seems to be indignant that we had a wave election, putting the Republicans in charge of Congress and has determined to just go ahead and do what he wants to anyway.  And he has apparently instructed Democrats in Congress to do the same. Democrats are convinced that their vision of moral and social progress is the pathway to a “better world.” “Their belief in a redeemed future accounts for their political passion and for their furious personal assaults on those who stand in their way.” Slipping into full tyrant mode is not a problem. Republicans are the enemies of the just and the good, and defeating them at every opportunity is a step forward.

So Monday, President Barack Obama introduced his plan for a progressive takeover of state and local policing.

We have a great opportunity… to really transform how we think about community law enforcement relations,” he said Monday.

“We need to seize that opportunity… this is something that I’m going to stay very focused on in the months to come,” Obama said, as he touted a new interim report from his Task Force on 21st Century Policing.

Obama also instructed his media allies to help federalize policing, and to sideline the critics of centralized policing rules. “I expect our friends in the media to really focus on what’s in this report and pay attention to it,” he instructed.

This is, of course, derived from Ferguson, and the police shooting of “the unarmed young black man” that was endlessly played up by Mr. Obama, his deputies, Al Sharpton, and the Justice Department. Timing, however, is everything.

The Justice Department today announced that it will not charge former Ferguson MO police office Darren Wilson with any civil rights violations in the “racially charged” shooting death of Michael Brown. Encouraged by the administration, the St. Louis County grand jury’s decision not to charge Wilson in the shooting set off massive protests, rioting and looting in the area and around the country. I have never quite grasped just why looting is a viable response to angry feelings.

In order to clean up the record, outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder admitted that the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” slogan used by Democrat activists endlessly since August 2014 was a complete falsehood. He acknowledged the fake story as he released the results of the Justice Department’s investigation of the Ferguson shooting.

Instead, Holder suggested the media and Americans recognize the fakery. “It remains not only valid – but essential – to question how such a strong alternative version of events was able to take hold so swiftly, and be accepted so readily,” he said.

The town had a “highly toxic environment, defined by mistrust and resentment, stoked by years of bad feelings, and spurred by illegal and misguided [police] practices – [so] it is not difficult to imagine how a single tragic incident set off the city of Ferguson like a powder keg,” he said.

Those claims of police abuse are being used by Holder to promote President Barack Obama’s new effort to federalize police practices in states and localities.

The report also admitted that Police Officer Darren Wilson’s description of the incident was completely accurate and confirmed by witnesses.

An incident hyped up by the lapdog media and the administration was an attempt to bring out a big black vote in the 2014 election, but the issue was not only the issue, but part of Obama’s plan to federalize the police force.




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