American Elephants


American History Lives On In Lexington, Massachusetts by The Elephant's Child

Battle_of_Lexington_DetailApril 19, 1775, some 700 British troops arrived in Lexington and came upon 77 militiamen gathered on the town green. A British major yelled “Throw down your arms! Ye villains,ye rebels!” The vastly outnumbered militiamen had been ordered by their commander to disperse when a shot rang out. No one knows which side fired first, but several British volleys were unleashed before order could be restored. When the smoke cleared, eight militiamen lay dead and nine were wounded, while only one Redcoat was injured. The British troops marched on to Concord to search for rebel arms.

The “shot heard round the world” was fired at Concord Bridge, and nearly 2,000 militiamen harassed the British from behind trees, walls and houses as they returned to Boston, 18 miles away.

Students at Lexington High School are presumably conscious of local history, so the dance committee picked “American Pride” as the theme for their upcoming dance.

Students said the administration canceled an “American Pride” dance because it excluded other nationalities, despite the theme getting the most votes from the dance committee.

School officials defended their decision and added they are willing to tweak the theme in order for everyone to be included.

Well, there you go. Is anyone surprised that a public school would feel that “national pride” would be “more inclusive.” Blah, blah, diverse demography of our community. The idea of America is that people from many nations and many different origins can come to America and become Americans. Supposedly, that is why they are here — to become Americans.

The results were predictable, a little publicity and the school caved, the “National Pride” Dance was rescheduled for late April and students can even wear red, white and blue if they so choose.

This needs more than a sigh, and a “there they go again” response. It is ubiquitous in our school systems. “Diversity” and “social justice” and “inclusiveness” are just a few of the words that indicate a mindset that inflicts the establishment that is supposed to be teaching our children reading with understanding, writing with clarity, mastering mathematics, understanding the basic sciences of biology, chemistry and physics, learning about history and government.

We know from international comparisons that our schools are doing a lousy job of that, and graduating kids who cannot master the basics, but they’re well up on the Left’s touchy-feely pap. We are losing our country, and losing the future because we are not alarmed enough. Most of us can’t yank our kids out of school and afford a private school, or quit our jobs and homeschool. Are you ready to attend some school board meetings and raise hell? Did you actually know anything about the school board members you voted for? Do you read your kids’ textbooks and talk to them about their assignments?

You will notice the little militiaman on the school sign. The kids get it, but the staff doesn’t.

“People consider America to be a melting pot, so the fact that it was even considered offensive is what people are a little surprised about,” said student Sneha Rao.

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Today is National Freedom of Information Day by The Elephant's Child

9271_1280x800As the highlight of Sunshine Week, the White House celebrates by removing the federal regulation that subjects the Office of the Administration to FOIA requests. Actually many agencies within the federal government won’t respond to FOIA requests until they are successfully sued. ‘Others play the waiting game, the “we can’t find it” game, and the “fine, but it’ ll cost you” game, and now the Office of the Administration will play the “We don’t have to”game.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration set a record again for censoring government files or outright denying access to them last year under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, according to a new analysis of federal data by The Associated Press.

The government took longer to turn over files when it provided any, said more regularly that it couldn’t find documents and refused a record number of times to turn over files quickly that might be especially newsworthy.

It also acknowledged in nearly 1 in 3 cases that its initial decisions to withhold or censor records were improper under the law — but only when it was challenged.

The administration’s backlog of unanswered requests has grown to more than 200,000, growing by 55 percent just this last year. it also cut by 375 people the number of full time employees paid to look for the records requested. The Freedom of Information Law is heralded globally as a model for transparent government. Much celebrated, but  fitfully complied with. More than ever, it censored materials that it turned over, or fully denied access to them — in 250,581 cases.

The American Civil Liberties Union received a 15 page response to a request for information on the Justice Department’s policy of intercepting text messages on cellphones — every single page was blacked out from top to bottom.

Heavy redactions are a common government trick, and agencies are adept at exploiting any ambiguity in the law to prevent the release of requested records. The Washington Examiner has a list of some of the outrageous avoidance techniques that demonstrate just how far an agency will go. It’s not clear if they are actually trying to hide something or if they are just exercising what they believe to be their prerogatives, as important government agencies.

Remember the protective nature of bureaucracy and their reluctance to release anything that might reflect badly upon them. Transparency and truth-telling are dangerous steps. Who knows just how they might use that information? They might try to eliminate an agency, or cut its funding. Better to hunker down and stall.



“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

obama-signs-obamacare

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.




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