American Elephants


Themes Loved by the Media, And the Consequences: by The Elephant's Child

If you inquire at Google about unarmed black men being shot by police, you will find that most newspapers in America seem to believe that it is an urgent crisis, young unarmed black men are being shot regularly by white policemen, and racism is sharply on the rise in the country. This piece from the Washington Post, dated August 8, 2015, is dramatic and typical, and remarkably biased.

Let’s examine a few facts. From a study from the American Enterprise Institute: (Do read the whole thing)

If you look beyond recent headlines about race in America, here is a surprising truth: Most black men in America are doing just fine. Most black men are not poor, most black men will not be incarcerated, most black men are gainfully employed, and most black men will marry.

Black men are CEOs of major corporations, Justices on the Supreme Court, Doctors, famous Movie Stars, Lawyers, Professors, Presidents, Inventors, and stars of every major sports team, they are Generals, authors, artists, and I’m pretty sure that most black women are doing just fine as well.

The Washington Post article linked above lists 17 ‘unarmed’ black men shot by police officers in 2015. Yet there were 990 people shot by police in 2015, in most cases armed and threatening. You have to read the numbers carefully, before coming to conclusions.

Here’s Heather MacDonald on the #Black Lives Matter movement, and what they miss about those police shootings, and the Washington Post data on fatal police shootings of civilians. Another article from MacDonald points out that there was a rise in violent crime beginning in the second half of 2014, up 76% in Milwaukee, 60% in St Louis, and 56% in Baltimore, and in most of America’s largest cities. Because of publicity about Ferguson, Baltimore and other cities, police officers were backing off from proactive policing in reaction to the hostility they were encountering in urban areas.

Officers had told me about being surrounded by angry, jeering crowds who cursed and threw water bottles and rocks at them when they tried to make an arrest. Suspects and bystanders stuck cell phones in officers’ faces and refused to comply with lawful orders. Officers were continuing to answer 911 calls with alacrity, but in that large area of discretionary policing—getting out of a squad car at 1 a.m., for example, to question someone who appears to have a gun or may be casing a target—many officers were deciding to simply drive on by rather than risk a volatile, potentially career-ending confrontation that they were under no obligation to instigate.

MacDonald called that “the Ferguson Effect,” and noted that applications to police academies were way down. Young men were not convinced that risking their lives daily to protect the American people was worth it if they were also going to face daily assaults and abuse from the people they were trying to protect.

In National Review, David French recalls the time when it was dangerous to walk outside at night, and black leaders called for a crackdown on crime. And  he notes the dramatic change in New York City when Rudy Giuliani instituted a program of “broken windows policing” and the cops began to see their jobs as preventing crime rather than just solving crimes. The crime wave broke.

And he turns to an essay by Ta-Nehisi Coates in the Atlantic, which sees mass incarceration as consistent with America’s history of slavery and Jim Crow. Coates rejects messages that call for personal responsibility, pays no attention to black voices who cry for safety and justice in their own communities and focuses entirely on white supremacy, plunder and oppression.

To add to the problems of policing, we need to consider the “Butterfield Fallacy.” It is rooted in ideological prejudice. Fox Butterfield was a reporter for the New York Times “whose crime stories served as the archetype for his eponymous fallacy.”

“It has become a comforting story for five straight years, crime has been falling, led by a drop in murder,” Butterfield wrote in 1997. “So why is the number of inmates in prisons and jails around the nation still going up?’  He repeated the trope in 2003: “The nation’s prison population grew 2.6 percent last year, the largest increase since 1999, according to a study by the Justice Department. The jump came despite a small decline in serious crime in 2002.” And in 2004: “The number of inmates in state and federal prisons rose 2.1 percent last year, even as violent crime and property crime fell, according to a study by the Justice Department released yesterday.”

The ‘fallacy’ consists of misidentifying as a paradox, that which is a simple cause-and-effect relationship. When you put more bad guys in prison, crime goes down. This illusion is back in full effect today.

Those on the Left disapprove of sending people to prison because they think it is racially discriminatory. Yet more crimes are committed by black men.

In the upcoming election, Democrats are worried that black Americans who came out so strongly to vote for the first black president, may well not turn out so enthusiastically for either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. It may be merely a coincidence that #Black Lives Matter and the activists who turned out to stir up violence and protest in Ferguson and Baltimore were turned out along with Occupy activists to rouse up racial protests on American campuses where many young people will be voting for the first time.  And wherever there is an opportunity to rouse up racial animus, #Black Lives Matter is right there. If it is a coincidence, it’s an interesting one.

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America Doesn’t Have an Incarceration Problem, It Has a Crime Problem by The Elephant's Child

“In New York City the number of annual murders peaked at 2,245 —a rate  of six per day—in 1990, the first year the Democrat David Dinkins was mayor. After Republican Rudolph Giuliani took office in 1994, there were 1,177 murders in 1995 and 770 in 1997. By 2013, however, New Yorkers had only faint memories of walking the streets in constant fear.” That ‘s from William Voegeli’s essay in Commentary magazine from July 1, 2015.  “Democrats.” he said, “are gearing up to reverse decades of successful policing.

Voegeli reviews the history of our views on crime and punishment, as the political football it usually is. Hillary Clinton made crime the subject of her first major policy address of her 2016 presidential campaign. She called for creating new approaches that would “end the era of mass incarceration” as well as “working with communities to prevent crime, rather than measuring success just by the number of arrests or convictions.”

Heather MacDonald is having none of that. She says America doesn’t have an incarceration problem—it has a crime problem.

President Obama made a press saturated visit to a federal penitentiary in Oklahoma in 2015. “The cell blocks that Obama toured had been evacuated in anticipation of his arrival, but after talking to six carefully prescreened inmates, he drew some conclusions about the path to prison. “These are young people who made mistakes that aren’t that different than the mistakes I made and the mistakes that a lot of you guys made,” the president told the waiting reporters.

The New York Times suggested that there is a fine line between a president and a prisoner. Anyone who had smoked marijuana and tried cocaine could end up in federal prison. Heather MacDonald disagreed.

This conceit was preposterous. It takes a lot more than marijuana or cocaine use to end up in federal prison. But the truth didn’t matter. Obama’s prison tour came in the midst of the biggest delegitimation of law enforcement in recent memory. Activists, politicians, and the media have spent the last year broadcasting a daily message that the criminal-justice system is biased against blacks and insanely draconian. The immediate trigger for that movement, known as Black Lives Matter, has been a series of highly publicized deaths of black males at the hands of the police. But the movement also builds on a long-standing discourse from the academic Left about “mass incarceration,” policing, and race.

September 2015, “Black Lives Matter goes to the White House”

The Obama White House rolled out the red carpet this week for leaders of the racist revolutionary Black Lives Matter movement, providing yet more confirmation that the Obama administration supports its members’ increasingly violent activism.

Black Lives Matter is animated not only by anti-white racism but by a hatred of normal American values, including law and order. Its members denounce the U.S. for imagined institutional racism and discrimination against African-Americans. Members idolize convicted, unrepentant cop-killers Assata Shakur and Mumia Abu Jamal, both of whom are black, and have declared “war” on law enforcement. Its members openly call for police officers to be assassinated.

Yesterday, President Obama commuted the sentences of 61 drug offenders. These were not sentences for selling marijuana, but for dealing in hard and dangerous substances—crack, coke and PCP. The recidivism rate for offenders who commit such crimes exceeds 75 percent within five years, and that’s just the ones who are caught. Drug crimes usually go unreported because customers and dealers don’t report them. This ignores the heroin epidemic that is growing across the nation.

The President claims that the most important thing we can do is reduced the demand for drugs. He has asked for an additional $1 billion for treatment, and drug crimes must be treated as a public health problem, not a criminal problem.

One expert, Columbia University neuropsychopharmacologist Carl Hart explicitly made the case that “drug addiction is a health problem that requires treatment” is exactly the wrong way to look at the use of drugs in the United States.

“Politicians today, whether Republican or Democrat, are comfortable with saying that we don’t want to send people to jail for drugs; we will offer them treatment.” Hart said in Austin. But “the vast majority of people don’t need treatment. We need better public education, and more realistic education. And we’re not getting that.”

Why does he say most people don’t need treatment? Because—contrary to widespread perceptions—the vast majority of drug users aren’t addicts. “When I say drug abuse and drug addiction, I’m thinking of people whose psycho-social functioning is disrupted,” he said later in the talk. But for more than three-quarters of drug users (and we’re not just talking about marijuana here, either), that description doesn’t apply.

This overturns the conventional wisdom on drug addiction, but Hart thinks that’s a good thing. We’ve all been fed a diet of panic-inducing misinformation about what drugs actually do to our brains, he says.

I think #Black Lives Matter, the incarceration “problem, ” the commutation of sentences for drug dealers is all just a case of community organizing to get black Americans to the polls to vote to win an election. Too many “coincidences” and red flags go up.



As The Sun Sinks Slowly in the West, So Does the Solar Industry by The Elephant's Child

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Back in 2010, President Obama hailed a Spanish Company, Abengoa, saying its new solar technology would supply tens of thousands of American homes with renewable power, and create local employment.

Since then the Spanish company has built two American plants, one in Arizona and one in California, which supply electricity to more than 160,000 homes based on the capacity of the solar thermal plants. Remember that “capacity” is what the plants would provide on perfectly sunny days, and ignoring clouds or rain.

It appears that Abengoa got overambitious, and saddled with debt from its expansion, is scrambling to avoid what would be the biggest bankruptcy in Spanish corporate history. Abengoa’s American projects in Gila Bend, Arizona, and Barstow, California, still have around $2 billion in outstanding loans guaranteed by the United States government. The plants were partly financed by $605 million in federal grants and tax credits, besides the federal loan guarantees. The New York Times adds:

“The whole reason Abengoa Solar had to get the guarantee from the government is that no private lender thought the risk was worth it,” the Institute of Energy Research, a prominent renewables critic that has received financing from the oil industry, said in 2011.

Do note the NYT phrasing, and the “oil industry” link doesn’t seem to lead anywhere at all. Abengoa has legal problems as well from shareholders and creditors, with claims of misleading investors, and against individual executives. The company lost $1.3 billion last year and paid employees late.

They’ve also done projects in Central and South America. In 2007 they established the world’s first commercial solar thermal power plant on the outskirts of Seville. That year their stock hit a record high of €7.39 a share. In November, the share price had fallen below 40 euro cents. It’s now hovering around 71 euro cents.

Meanwhile up north in Maine: from Bloomberg:

Despite long winters, a famously foggy coastline and relatively few solar panels in operation, Maine is emerging as a pivotal U.S. state for determining how consumers will pay for power generated by the sun.

U.S. solar installations have boomed more than 10-fold in the past five years, driven in part by a policy known as net metering that requires utilities to pay their customers for extra solar energy from rooftop panels. That’s lowered consumers’ monthly bills, and also cuts into revenue for utilities that still must contend with their own fixed costs — spurring conflict between traditional power companies and solar providers.

The permanent problem with the sun is that sunlight is diffuse. The major greenhouse gas is water vapor, which we recognize as clouds. especially here on the Northwest coast where there is not a speck of blue sky today. Note the lovely photograph of the sun at the top of this post, and — the extensive clouds.

US solar installations have increased by 10-fold in the past five years driven by a federal policy  called net metering that requires utilities to pay their customers for extra solar energy from rooftop panels. That has lowered customers’ monthly bills, but the utilities still have their own fixed costs, and it cuts into their revenue.

Maine has proposed replacing net metering with a system that lets utilities sign 20-year contracts with residential solar customers. And instead of paying the retail price, as called for under current policies, utilities would pay rates set by regulators.

Because this is the Twenty First Century, as we are so frequently reminded, the greens are sure there is a technological fix just around the corner, and energy storage will cease to be a problem. But every known rare earth has been tried and found wanting.

Elon Musk’s Tesla Powerwall is meant to be a daily use battery. Tesla has announced prices of $3,000 and $3,500, but that does not include the inverter, and with installation it comes to $7,340. It requires about 7.5 kilowatt hours to charge the Powerwall, providing about  5.4 kilowatt hours of power once charged. The Institute for Energy Research found that it would require a payback period of 38 years which is almost 4 times the warranty period of 10 years for the Powerwall. Even if solar power were used to charge the Powerwall the payback period would be 31 years. The obvious problem is that for home use, we require electricity most when the sun has gone down.

The government’s idea was that by stimulating greater consumer demand with subsidies, production would increase and costs would go down, but in the meantime the industry believes that solar is a complete non-starter unless utilities are forced to pay extremely unrealistic prices for solar energy produced by households with solar panels. It’s not just Maine, even in sunny Nevada solar requires huge subsidies.

Progressives are sure that the government can just order utilities to charge less for their services, much like ObamaCare just assumes that hospitals and doctors can be forced to accept less payment for their services and all will be well. Most of the problems with our frighteningly large national debt and yearly deficits are due to the fact that Progressives just don’t understand the free market at all. They only understand the pursuit of power and an ever-larger government.



This Is Not A Photoshopped Picture! by The Elephant's Child

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It is not a photoshop, but simply being in the right place at the right time and recognizing what the camera has captured.

I don’t know who took the picture, so I cannot give proper credit. If You know, let me know and I will amend the post.  I just think it’s a riotously funny shot! And remarkably accurate.



“Diversity” Is Bunk, When There is No Diversity of Ideas. by The Elephant's Child

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The Washington Examiner published an article suggesting that the “Media questions whether Senators Rubio and Cruz are really Hispanics.” It is expected that in a political campaign, and this seems to be one of the more unusual ones, thee will be a lot of silly attacks to go with the substantive ones. When our culture decides that “diversity” is the most important thing to address, it leads to some very strange results.

“Diversity” seems to mean dividing people up into groups based on skin color and ethnic origin, if you belong to a recognized minority, you will get a great deal of attention. However, recognized minorities seem to be limited to blacks and Hispanics, Occasionally American Indians are included, but only if you have some activists speaking out, otherwise the tribes are mostly ignored. American blacks include only those who are descended from the slavery culture, and believe they are discriminated against. Those who have become successful and well to do are insulted and called “Uncle Toms.” Blacks  who have immigrated from Africa don’t count, because they are not descended from the horrors of slavery, so they mostly just get on with their lives.

The term “Hispanic” refers, according to the EEOC, as “A person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race. Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) may be the sons of Cuban immigrants , but”the senators only “embrace their Hispanic heritage” when it’s “convenient” said a Nightly Show panel:

“To me, it’s really upsetting especially when it comes to the issue of bilingualism because Rubio speaks perfect Spanish,” contributor Grace Parra said, as the rest of the group nodded along. “Because Rubio speaks perfect Spanish and he never chooses to pull it out.”

“I think race is important to talk about when talking about this because it feels like, in an attempt to get rich, white voters,” she added, “Rubio and Cruz especially have actually alienated Latinos to the point where Latinos don’t trust them … We don’t even necessarily consider them Latino because they haven’t embraced their heritage.”

The New York Times in an op-ed on Feb. 3, explored the arguments that the two are not really Hispanic:

Neither Mr. Cruz nor Mr. Rubio meets conventional expectations of how Latino politicians are supposed to behave. Neither of these candidates claims to s peak for the Hispanic population or derive a crucial portion of their support from Hispanics, and neither bases much of his political identity on being a Latino.

Univision’s Jorge Ramos called them “race traitors” because of their positions on immigration control.

“There is no greater disloyalty than the children of immigrants forgetting their own roots. That is a betrayal,” he wrote.

I have been listening to these two gentlemen since the first days of the campaign, and I would venture that only a Liberal would not know that they are both of Cuban heritage, and are proud Americans. They both talk about their families quite a bit, and their pride in being American and pride in their parents for escaping the communist state of Cuba.

It would seem that if you are not a victim of belonging to a minority group, and suffering from your minority status, but instead taking pride in becoming not only fully American, but a candidate for the office of President of the United States, you will be severely criticized for your offensive behavior. There is something rotten at the heart of this line of thinking.

Sometime back in 1978 there was a famous court case called Bakke vs. University of California. “In that decision, Justice Lewis Powell asserted that an undefined “diversity” could allow taking account of race in college admissions, and it was a “compelling state interest” that justified an exception to Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act’s ban on discrimination by race. In 2003, in Grutter vs Bolinger the Supreme Court reaffirmed the “compelling state interest” of diversity since it provided, as Justice Sandra Day O’Conner argued,”the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body.”

Well, all very nice, but what exactly are the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body? Diversity based on differences in ideas and ideology clearly has benefits to offer, but our universities at present are deeply concerned with allowing no diversity of ideas whatsoever, hence the rise of ‘microaggressions’ and ‘safe spaces,’ and the banning of any speaker who might have an opinion differing from accepted wisdom. You must not offend by offering a new idea. How is it possible that they got so far off track? Education has become indoctrination in correct ways of thinking and correct thought.

Here’s Bruce Thornton, college professor, fellow at the Hoover Institution and the David Horowitz Freedom Center:

Encumbered with a fossilized illiberal ideology, progressives must rely on what Robert Conquest called “thought-blockers”––empty words and phrases that comfort and rouse the party faithful, and camouflage the lack of coherent argument, consistent principles, and empirical evidence. More important, these empty words and phrases that lie at the heart of progressivism are the tools for increasing the progressives’ political power and influence, at the expense of everybody else’s freedom. …

That common feel-good notion of diversity, however, is the “bait” in the ideological “bait and switch” of politicized diversity. The latter is not about the wondrous variety of Americans, especially their political diversity. It is instead the old Marxist fable of American crime and tyranny, enhanced with multicultural identity politics, the clichéd melodrama of white neo-imperialist, neocolonialist oppression of carefully selected innocent “victims” and their superior “cultures.” This diversity, then, is a mechanism for increasing the power and influence of certain ideological factions in society, especially the schools, at the expense of others.



Bill Whittle Reads a Hillary Clinton Children’s Book! by The Elephant's Child

Hey kiddos, it’s time for Uncle Bill to read a story– its a charming tale about a super breed of woman, a true leader from birth, Hilary Clinton! Gather round!!

(h/t: P J Media)



What if the Claims Of The Black Lives Matter Movement are Plain Fiction? by The Elephant's Child

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Five American police officers have been killed in just the last four days. All were killed in the line of duty. The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund said that at least three other U.S. law enforcement officers died from gunfire in the line of duty just this year, and we’re not even halfway through February. Abingdon, Maryland; Fargo, North Dakota; Grand Junction, Colorado; and Riverdale, Georgia.

One hundred and twenty four officers died in the line of duty last year —more than two each week.

A television ad for Hillary Clinton’s campaign that is now airing in South Carolina shows Hillary declaring that “too many encounters with law enforcement end tragically.” She adds later “We have to face up to the hard truth of injustice and systemic racism.”

Bernie Sanders tweeted dramatically about “fighting hard to end racism and reform our broken criminal justice system.” Then he went on ‘the View’ and said “It is not acceptable to see unarmed people being shot by police officers.” Apparently candidates believe that building on the propaganda of the Black Lives Matter movement is the appropriate way to court minority voters.

Heather MacDonald is a recognized expert in matters dealing with policing, with crime, and with the criminal justice system in general and distinguishing fact from fiction. She says:

But what if the Black Lives Matter movement is based on fiction? Not just the fictional account of the 2014 police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., but the utter misrepresentation of police shootings generally.

To judge from Black Lives Matter protesters and their media and political allies, you would think that killer cops pose the biggest threat to young black men today. But this perception, like almost everything else that many people think they know about fatal police shootings, is wrong.

The Washington Post has been gathering data on fatal police shootings over the past year to try to correct acknowledged deficiencies in the federal counts.

Fatal police shootings make up a much bigger proportion of white and Hispanic homicide deaths than black deaths. In 2015, officers killed 662 whites and Hispanics, and 258 blacks. The majority of the victims of police shootings were attacking the officer often with a gun. It is also a myth that white officers are particularly prone to shoot innocent blacks.

A March 2015 report on the Philadelphia Police Department found that black and Hispanic officers were much more likely than white officers to shoot blacks based on the mistaken belief that a civilian is armed. A study of crime scenes where gunfire is involved in 2015, found that black officers in the New York City Police Department were 3.3 times more likely to discharge their weapons than other officers at the scene. There were 6,095 black homicide deaths in 2014, compared with 5,397 homicide deaths of whites and Hispanics combined.

Blacks make up roughly 15 percent of the population, but are 26 percent of police-shooting victims. But as residents of poor black neighborhoods know, violent crimes are disproportionately committed by blacks. The Black Lives Matter movement has been effective in encouraging attacks on the police, which in turn makes policemen reluctant to police black neighborhoods. And a notable consequence is that fewer young men are ready to sign up for the police academy and police work.

Of course there are some bad cops, there are some bad teachers, there  are poor performers in every profession. But police officers sign on to protect the citizens, knowing that they may face danger or death every day, and they just want to be able to go home at night. And the “Black Lives Matter” movement is not quite what you think it is, and not quite what they pretend to be.

 




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