American Elephants


The Decline and Fall of Socialist Venezuela by The Elephant's Child

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( A food line in San Cristobal, Venezuela)

Bernie Sanders is out in the hustings talking about banning fracking, the new way of producing oil and natural gas that has brought down the cost to consumers so dramatically. In Venezuela, the price of oil, Venezuela’s only significant export, has plummeted which means that government income will probably be down by around 40 percent this year. A disaster for this socialist paradise.

The government’s massive borrowing—a legacy of the days when oil prices were far higher, is blamed, but specifically, the lingering death of a beautiful country can be blamed directly on socialism. You will notice that the reporting on the decline and death throes of Venezuela seldom contains any mention of socialism. It is undoubtedly not on the list of approved talking points. They’re having trouble repaying their foreign debt. On top of that there has been a drought, which has meant trouble for the country’s hydropower generation, which in turn has meant that  power is only available part of the time. It’s back to candles if you have any.

The Manhattan Contrarian has been checking left-wing websites: the Huffington Post has a post titled “Why Venezuela is on the Verge of Actual Collapse” on May 20. Five reasons are given: 1. Murder—lots of murder; 2. Low oil prices—not always a good thing;  3. Plummeting economy; 4, Scarcity of essential goods; 5. Widespread corruption.

I particularly like reasons 3 and 4. The economy is collapsing because the economy is collapsing! Why hadn’t we figured that our on our own?

Socialism is unmentioned, though anybody with any knowledge of history has a long list of collapsing economies due to Socialism. It’s what economies that turn to socialism do. I guess you can’t run around badmouthing socialist systems when your presidential candidates seem to think it’s the answer to something or other.

It is, of course, the answer to government control of everyone. Every Progressive has dreams of becoming Ceasar Chavez, or Fidel Castro, or Pol Pot — becoming fabulously rich and being in charge of everything.

Zero Hedge talked to Fernando Aquirre who recorded the hyperinflation in Argentina in 2001, and has followed the story of other collapsing economies.

The greatest points to keep in mind is overwhelming corruption. People get lost on what exactly went wrong in Argentina, in Venezuela, or what’s happening right now in Brazil. What they all have in common is that the people in charge had no real interest in doing things right; they really didn’t care about destroying the country. They just cared about filling their pockets as much as possible.

Think of Venezuela this way: you have a country where water is more expensive than gasoline. What sense does that make? I mean, you had Hugo Chavez walking down the street pointing with his finger saying “Nationalize this. Nationalize that”. And when he was saying “nationalize”, he was saying “Steal this“. He didn’t have any great plans or political grandeur going on in his mind. He just wanted to steal as much as he could.

I know for a fact that they’re slaughtering one another in the streets right now in Venezuela. For at least three years it’s been a case of out-of-control crime and corruption over there. It’s not getting better any time soon unless something changes on a deeper level.

It’s not just that there’s no toilet paper. There’s no medicine, and those dependent on medicines are dying. The middle class person who still has a good job would need two years of wages to pay for a single plane ticket out. Aguirre said that if he was in Venezuela right now he would leave on foot, any way he could. And we have college students who think socialism is a great idea, and ‘feel the bern’ for Bernie.

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Here’s economist Thomas Sowell with “Socialism for the Uninformed

And law professor Glenn Reynolds: “Don’t Be a Sucker for Socialism



Models are Models. Science is Something Different. by The Elephant's Child

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We are so in love with our computers and what they can do, that we often forget what they cannot do. G.I.G.O.— garbage in garbage out. The climate models on which the panic about global warming depends are only very partly based on science. The models themselves aren’t science. There are some scientific facts that are known and accepted. Once  you get beyond that small amount — all is based on modelling. That means you take the known, add some approximations, some guesswork, and your favorite theory and you get a model of the earth’s climate, that may have little to do with the real world.

“Patrick Michaels and David E. Wojick wrote last week in a Cato at Liberty blog post that modelling completely dominates climate change research” What that means  is that climate change science is only about 4% of the whole, and not all climate science is about climate change. They are putting their faith in math calculations rather than scientific observation. The energy and the resources are directed to improving the models, which have a remarkable record of being consistently wrong.They cannot even accurately predict the climate that has already happened.

We have very little understanding of the action of the clouds, though they clearly effect climate. The heat that the models have predicted has not arrived. In science, there are questions, and a hypothesis is developed, then tested through repeated experimentation.” The federal government has spent billions —close to $100 billion since fiscal 2012 —on “science” that is undergirded by failed models.” The models were unable to predict the greening of the world caused by slight increases in CO2. Most of the money goes to improving and upgrading the models, and what most climate scientists will consider improved models to be those that predict greater amounts of warming.

For a more authoritative explanation of Global Warming go here.



BOOM!!! It Was 36 Years Ago Today! by American Elephant
May 18, 2016, 9:18 pm
Filed under: Environment, History, News | Tags:

[Note: the following was originally posted in 2008 on this infamous day]

Chances are, if you’re not from Washington or Oregon, the date May 18th has little meaning to you. Heck, even around here many don’t think of it unless someone reminds them. But I remember — every year. It’s one of the only world events I remember from back then — I was very young after all; but the eruption of Mt. St. Helens on May 18, 1980 was just the kind of event that little boys remember forever.

We were very fortunate; the mountain exploded northwards, but the winds carried the ash-cloud away to the southeast. I remember being somewhat disappointed that the ash wasn’t turning day into night for us like it was for all the people on the television. In fact, we didn’t seem to get any ash-fall at all, much to my chagrin; while people on the other side of the mountain were measuring it in inches, like snow.

So much excitement! …and so little pay off.

About the most exciting thing I personally experienced was standing on my father’s roof to see the enormous plume looking fairly small and unimpressive so many miles away. I’m not sure if we heard the explosion or not. They say people heard it as far as 700 miles away, and we were certainly much closer than that. I think we did — but that could just be my memory playing tricks on me.

So close, and yet so far. But I still remember it every year.

Where were you?

Update: Michael Rubin at the Corner links to an excellent photo montage on the eruption and the aftermath.



Fooling the Public and Manipulating the Media by The Elephant's Child

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On May 5th, The New York Times Magazine published a lengthy interview with Ben Rhodes, President Obama’s deputy national security adviser.  Mr. Rhodes “travels with the president, sees him all day long, and not only writes his speeches and communications strategies but also shapes the content of policy.”

The piece was titled “The Aspiring Novelist Who Became Obama’s Foreign-Policy Guru: How Ben Rhodes rewrote the rules of diplomacy for the digital age” by David Samuels. It was a revealing interview. Mr. Rhodes says he has a sort of mind-meld with the president. Much has been made of the fact that Rhodes was working on an M.F.A. in creative writing, and now he channels the president’s consciousness into an optimistic narrative that shapes the president’s foreign policy.

Rhodes strategized and ran the successful Iran-deal messaging campaign, helped negotiate the opening of American relations with Cuba after a hiatus of more than 50 years and has been a co-writer of all of Obama’s major foreign-policy speeches. “Every day he does 12 jobs, and he does them better than the other people who have those jobs,” Terry Szuplat, the longest-tenured member of the National Security Council speechwriting corps, told me. On the largest and smallest questions alike, the voice in which America speaks to the world is that of Ben Rhodes.

Rhodes is a storyteller who” uses a writer’s tools to advance an agenda that is packaged as politics but is often quite personal.”

His lack of conventional real-world experience of the kind that normally precedes responsibility for the fate of nations — like military or diplomatic service, or even a master’s degree in international relations, rather than creative writing — is still startling.

The revelations of how the campaign to sell the Iran Deal to the public was developed, and though planned from the first days of Obama’s presidency, the “story” of the Iran deal began in 2013 when a “moderate” faction inside the Iranian regime led by Hassan Rouhani beat regime “hard-liners” in an election and then began to pursue a policy of “openness,” which included a newfound willingness to negotiate the dismantling of its illicit nuclear-weapons program.”

The president announced the nuclear deal on July 14, 2015: “Today, after two years of negotiations, the United States, together with our international partners, has achieved something that decades of animosity has not.” Actually the meaningful part of negotiations with Iran took place in mid-2012, many months before Rouhani and the moderate group where chosen in an election among candidates handpicked by the supreme leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. There was never any new reality in Iran nor any moderate faction. With this one bold move, the administration would begin the process of a large- scale disengagement from the Middle East, which had always been Obama’s goal.

With the smug innocence of the morally superior, Mr. Rhodes revealed far too many truths about manipulating the media, his contempt for the press, and how he manages the flow of information. Since the actions of the Obama administration are obviously correct, selling the deal to Congress, and framing the deal as a choice between peace and war was Rhodes strategy.

Guided by his moral superiority, Rhodes neglected to consider that the American people aren’t much on being deliberately lied to, and the media isn’t enthusiastic about being manipulated, and especially about that being publicly revealed.

Articles about Ben Rhodes, about the NYT Magazine piece, and about the lies in presenting the Iran Deal have been forthcoming in a steady flow from all over the world. Congress has invited Mr. Rhodes to come testify about his part in the episode and it is suggested that if he does not turn up voluntarily, he will be subpoenaed.



Vegans are Outraged. I Can’t Stop Giggling. by The Elephant's Child

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Steven Hayward has linked to and written about the “Vegan Green Weenie if the Year” over at Powerline. The whole thing is just so typical of the Left — Posing, posturing, oozing empathy, pretension —  to bring in a celebrity following.

The Guardian exposé is to be found here, with descriptions of their restaurants, of the names of the restaurant’s “affirmation” dishes like the “grateful” kale salad, and the “accepting” sushi bowl.  Be Love Farm is where they raise their vegetables (and their new beef products). “Their website is named Eternal Presence and they invented a board game called The Abounding River Board Game which they said would train players to embrace “an unfamiliar view of Being Abundant” and develop a “spiritual foundation” for looking at money.” Oh my.

CGKC-Food-Cleanse-Menu-2016_1-1(click to enlarge)



Fighting Back Against Political Correctness: by The Elephant's Child

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Here is the most important article you will read this week, or for many weeks. Daniel Greenfield takes on the Republican Party and Political Correctness in a piece titled FIGHTING POLITICAL CORRECTNESS IN THE AGE OF TRUMP: Republicans must stand up to political correctness or lose”

When the left exploited the Charleston church shooting to begin a purge of Confederate flags that extended all the way into reruns of the Dukes of Hazzard, Republicans failed to defy the lynch mobs and even cheered the takedowns, some of which took place under Republican governors, as progress. Congresswoman Candice Miller, a Republican, announced recently that state flags in the Capitol featuring confederate insignia will be taken down due to the “controversy surrounding Confederate imagery”. The “controversy” is another term for the left’s manufactured political correctness.

There are legitimate positions on both sides when it comes to the Confederate flag, but the historical debate is not the issue. Just as it doesn’t matter very much that Harriet Tubman was a Republican. It matters far more that both moves were driven by the social media mobs of political correctness.

Culture wars are not about actual historical facts, but a tribal conflict over culture between clashing groups. This is a conflict in which it mattered a great deal that northeastern elites were lining up to get $400 tickets to see Hamilton, a hip-hop musical praised by many of the same Republicans who wouldn’t be caught dead watching reruns of the Dukes of Hazzard. That New York theater trend led to Southerner Andrew Jackson being displaced on the currency instead of New York’s own Alexander Hamilton.

We have always opposed political correctness, but also laughed at it as, well, stupid.  Our mistake. It is a serious matter.

This is not a battle over facts. It’s a cultural struggle over process. Political correctness is not actually a debate about the events of a past century, but about whether political and economic power should also translate into a cultural dominance so pervasive that it can reach out and strangle everything it dislikes.

Follow the link and read the whole thing. Print it out and read it again, and consider sharing it with your friends and family. You have noticed the attacks on free speech, the bizarre hatred for courses in Western Civilization, the insistence that “black lives matter,” but saying “all lives matter” will get you attacked.

While we are sneering at the latest PC, our freedom of speech is being attacked once again. One of the latest politically correct attacks is that of the attorneys general of a number of states attempting to get massive recompense from ExxonMobil under the RICO laws for denying that climate change is dangerous and life-threatening. Monuments and statues are being removed because the historical figures portrayed had views which we do not approve of today—the very history of our nation is being changed before our eyes. It is silly, but an exercise of power and control.

Add Daniel Greenfield to your personal list of must-read writers. He can be found at www.frontpagemag.com and at www.sultanknish.blogspot.com. “Political correctness isn’t just about politics. It’s about power. It’s about who has it and who doesn’t.”



Target Succumbed to the PC Wars And is Paying a Price. by The Elephant's Child

mrz042816_color-640x360Target announced in the last weeks of April that “transgender customers at its stores are welcome to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity, the latest corporate reaction to a wave of legislation seen by critics as anti-LGBT.

“We welcome transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity,” the retailer said. “Everyone deserves to feel like they belong.”

More than a million consumers have pledged to boycott the retail giant after they announced an “inclusive” policy allowing customers to choose their own identity, and use the facilities of their choice. Their stock price has dropped from an opening price per share of $83.50 on April 19 to today’s $79.71.

Target is attempting to protect the feelings of an approximate 0.2% to 0.3% of the population who are psychologically troubled compared to women and girls who make up roughly one half of the American population, and an even larger percentage of Target customers. There have always been stray males who find some kind of excitement in getting into women’s bathrooms and/or fitting rooms. Children and young girls particularly need protection.  The Federalist listed some of Target’s errors:

  1. Single-Sex Bathrooms Weren’t Discriminatory Yesterday
  2. Target is Solving No Real Problem
  3. Some Men Will Exploit This Policy to Cruise Women’s Restrooms
  4. Target is Risking its Primary Clientele
  5. Gender Identity is Subjective

Gender dysphoria is closely related to other dysphorias like anorexia, which killed Karen Carpenter, bodily dysphoria which leaves sufferers believing that one of their arms or legs should not be there.

There is the case of a man who believed that he really was a cat, and had tattoos, piercings and surgery to get his desired look, another became a devil with horns. It is a psychological problem from which some sufferers eventually recover, or are helped with medical care. To turn it into another weapon in the feminists’ gender wars is deeply unfortunate and unfair to those who suffer. It is clearly not a matter of “choosing one’s identity.” Anorexia is not a joke, and sufferers may die unnecessarily without care.

ADDENDUM: Frisco TX police are seeking the public’s help in identifying a man who was peering over the wall of the changing room and taking cellphone pictures of her. The girl told her parents and Target employees, but the man had already left the store.

ADDENDUM II: thinkprogress: “No, Transgender Protections do Not Justify Men in Women’s Restrooms. A State Agency Just Said So.”

ADDENDUM III: Attorney John Hinderaker takes on the politicization of the Justice Department in general, and the Obama Justice Department’s “Insane Attack of North Carolina” in the bathroom and  locker room matter, in particular.




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