American Elephants


If Banning Guns Won’t Work, What Should We Do? by The Elephant's Child

To reach a point where people can begin to talk sensibly about the problem of violence in our schools, you have to wait a while. Probably longer than this. All the people who have never held a gun, nor fired one, have time to insist that banning all guns is the answer. Unfortunately, it’s often the less they know, the more they sound off.

There are no reliable statistics that I could find on gun shootings in schools. Everytown for Gun Safety is an activist gun-banning group, and has listed every incidence when a gun has been discharged in or near a school in their statistics, including on school property when schools are not in session, which includes a suicide in his own car, that sort of thing, which has contaminated most lists.

There are some few sensible suggestions emerging. Most courthouses and state buildings have  metal detectors at their doors, and a guard inside to do something if a metal detector sounds off.  Interesting that government officials are ready to insure protection for themselves, but not for vulnerable students. So the first need is for some proper statistics enumerating the people who have attempted to attack school children as the most vulnerable and precious victims. This is not as easy as it should be. The United States is a big open country with all sorts of news outlets, some of them even reliable. Our news is reported as headlines in most other countries. Because we let it all hang out, so to speak, countries that are more sparing in what they tell the public are shocked by us.

Banning guns is everyone’s first choice, but will not change anything. Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. The kid who was turned in by his grandmother this week because she read his journal, was not only talking about guns, but about making bombs at home.  If metal detectors at every entrance to a school are a good idea, then it detects as someone enters—and who responds to that and what do they do? Is it an armed guard? For every door? Or are all other doors but the main door locked, and checked to make sure they are locked? It gets complicated right off the bat, and needs to be thought through carefully.

The grandmother who called 911 after reading her grandson’s journal here in Snohomish County (Everett) just had to trust that the responders from 911 would know what to do. It would seem that adults in such a situation would be more apt to take action if they knew what and who to reach, and what would result.

It’s agreed that the FBI fouled up very badly by not following up on warnings they received about Nikolas Cruz. They had a definite warning call from someone who knew him and took his threats seriously. His father had died earlier, and his mother had died suddenly and recently from pneumonia. He was expelled from school. Police were reportedly called to the home some 39 times. That’s a remarkable number of red flags and call for help, to FBI and city police, but nothing happened, no one took him in for help. That suggests missing training in when red flags should go up, and in what avenues to follow. Is a jail cell the only answer? Taxpayers are supporting a vast array of agencies that are supposedly trained to deal with situations like these. School shootings are not as common as the gun-control advocates assume, but there have been others. Some of the attacks have been by adults which are a different situation.

Junior high and high school are difficult times for kids. They are dealing with  puberty, and sex education, that currently seems to tell them they they can be any sex they choose, when they are trying to figure out how to be popular like some other kids seem to be, having crushes, wanting to be good at sports or acting or singing or anything like other kids seem to be. Everybody remembers traumatic things from their own high school career. It’s a very emotional time, taking the first steps toward adulthood.

It has been widely, if quietly, reported that teachers are being attacked in their own classrooms, in many cases by unruly students. School districts do not want that to be reported so it is not frequently mentioned, but it happens, perhaps more frequently where there is gang activity. What is being done about that?

When a kid has acted up enough to be expelled from school, had the police called to his home 39 times, and  just lost his mother, that would seem to be a powerful call for help. You would have one very angry kid. What all of this suggests is that all those administrators that the taxpayers are supporting besides the teachers in the classroom, should be planning and working with other agencies to think through the possibilities and come up  with plans so people know what to do and who to call.

What about the kid who uses the internet to learn how to build a bomb? Or learns how to make Molotov cocktails?  Do we still have reform schools? There are a lot of quiet agencies who take on troubled kids in rural settings to straighten them out and set them on a better path. Very expensive. Military schools. Also very expensive. Can states and communities learn from them and put new programs for troubled kids in place? Some used to be encouraged to enlist in the military, and drill sergeants know a thing or two.

Banning assault weapons (aren’t those the scary looking guns with scopes and a military profile) and AK-47s sounds important, and accomplishes nothing at all. Countries that have really gone for banning guns have learned that it does not work. Our cities with the most restrictive gun laws are some of the most violent.

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Some Premature Remarks on A Dreadful Tragedy by The Elephant's Child

Since it is way too early for any solid or real commentary on the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, naturally all the Lefties are running off at the mouth. Guns must be banned, of course, and the NRA banished forever. I finally realized why they are so frantic about the National Rifle Association. The NRA donates to Republicans.

Judd Apatow accused Trump of being “too much of a coward” to buck the NRA. Who is Judd Apatow? Is he some sort of celebrity? Chelsea Handler, whoever she is, said we must elect candidates who are not funded by the NRA who allow kids to go to school and get shot. Patricia Arquette, (the name is vaguely familiar), said that “If people can blame drug dealers for the drug problem then we can blame the NRA for the shooting problem.”  Utterly brilliant commentary. But typical.

I can’t forget our legislators, who are never shy about speaking out. Nancy Pelosi said “We have to be bold. We have to go forward. We cannot let the National Rifle Association—however they get their money and that’s another subject—to decide what the character of America is.” One would assume that the head of the NRA, whoever he is, did the shooting all by himself because he hates American children. Dianne Finestein reminded that she has a bill banning assault weapons.

Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) made a speech on the floor of the Senate, apparently in the midst of the shooting. He said that Congress ‘ “inaction” is “responsible for a level of mass atrocity that happens in this country with zero parallel anywhere else.”

As we speak, there is a horrific scene playing out at a high school in south Florida. Turn on your television right now, you’re going to see scenes of children running for their lives, what looks to be the 19th school shooting in this country, and we have not even hit March. I’m coming to the floor to talk about something else, but let me just note, once again for my colleagues, that this happens nowhere else, other than the United States of America. This epidemic of mass slaughter, this scourge of school shooting after school shooting. It only happens here, not because of coincidence, not because of bad luck, but as a consequence of our inaction. We are responsible for a level of mass atrocity that happens in this country with zero parallel anywhere else.

That was too much for even the left-leaning Washington Post, which explained “No, there haven’t been 18 school shootings in 2018. That number is flat wrong.”

Guns are inanimate objects. Guns do not shoot people. People shoot people. America is a big open country, and we publicize all our faults as well as our triumphs. Guns have probably saved a lot more lives than were ever lost to gun violence.

Israel and Europe have had recent bunch of stabbings. Knives are also inanimate objects, useful in the kitchen and elsewhere, but deadly in the hands of someone intent on killing.

In Nice, France, a terror attack with a large white truck killed 84 people and injured many more on Bastille Day. A truck attack in London left 8 dead, but more than 40 injured, including children. There was a deadly truck attack in Jerusalem. A car was the lethal weapon in Melbourne, Australia. There was an attack with a vehicle in Manhattan on October 31st. And a truck attack in Barcelona, Spain, left 14 dead and 100 injured. So we should immediately ban trucks, cars, and the American Automobile Association.

The 18 year-old shooter is in custody, clearly a troubled kid. The FBI was warned about him last year.

Steve Scalise (R-LA), still recovering from being shot by an enraged  Democrat supporter of Bernie Sanders, said “don’t try to promote your agenda in the middle of a tragedy. One  magic law won’t stop shootings.”

Here in Washington State, authorities arrested an 18 year-old whose grandmother discovered his journal with detailed plans to shoot his high school classmates, and detonate homemade bombs at school, and she called 911.  This happened in Snohomish County on Tuesday.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that recognizing ‘signals and signs’ could prevent shootings, and he’s right.  I have never seen much discussion of the fact that the high school years are difficult and troubling for many kids. I don’t think I know anyone who has not been deeply affected by their years in high school. Making friends, falling in love, trying out for things and failing, finding the world increasingly difficult and confusing, and they are still very young and don’t know anything at all.

John Hinderraker has excellent premature observations.



The Grassley-Graham Memo Is Thoroughly Shocking. Press Snoozes. by The Elephant's Child

The source many of us have turned to for information on the ongoing scandal supposed to involve alleged Russian collusion with the Trump campaign is National Review’s Andrew McCarthy. (McCarthy, you will recall, was the U.S. Attorney who tried the Blind Sheik for the first World Trade Center bombing.) Andy knows what he is talking about. He is not interested in removing Trump from office on some pretext. Just in getting to the bottom of things.

In a word, the Grassley-Graham memo is shocking. Yet, the press barely notices.

Rest assured: If a Republican administration had used unverifiable hearsay from a patently suspect agent of the Republican presidential candidate to gull the FISA court into granting a warrant to spy on an associate of the Democratic nominee’s campaign, it would be covered as the greatest political scandal in a half-century.

Instead, it was the other way around. The Grassley-Graham memo corroborates the claims in the Nunes memo: The Obama Justice Department and FBI used anonymously sourced, Clinton-campaign generated innuendo to convince the FISA court to issue surveillance warrants against Carter Page, and in doing so, they concealed the Clinton campaign’s role. Though the Trump campaign had cut ties with Page shortly before the first warrant was issued in October 2016, the warrant application was based on wild allegations of a corrupt conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Moreover, the warrant meant the FBI could seize not only Page’s forward-going communications but any past emails and texts he may have stored — i.e., his Trump campaign communications.

With its verification by the Grassley-Graham memo, the Nunes memo now has about a thousand times more corroboration than the Steele dossier, the basis of the heinous allegations used by the Justice Department and FBI to get the FISA warrants.

The press howled about the Nunes memo, but the Grassley-Graham memo tells us that we need  a full-blown investigation of whatever possessed the Obama administration to hand such shoddy applications to the FISA court, but how a judge managed to rationalize signing the warrants.

Andrew McCarthy adds “We need full disclosure—the warrants, the applications, the court proceedings. No more games.”

Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Graham chairs a relevant subcommittee. They composed their memo in support of a criminal referral recommending that dossier author Christopher Steele be investigated for making false statements to the FBI (a felony). And they have increased their efforts to get more information unsealed, so the public can see it , even if the press does not cover it.

Here, again is the link to McCarthy’s post. Do read the whole thing. Andy explains the legal matters of the whole thing, and just why it is such a potential bombshell of a scandal. They thought that Hillary would win, and their efforts would never come to light. Obama’s name will go down in history—just not the way he planned.



Today is Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday by The Elephant's Child

Today is  “President’s Day.” As a long time crank, I disapprove of moving days of remembrance to Mondays to make a  3-day weekend. I would prefer that we stuck with Lincoln’s Birthday, and when we get there, to Washington’s Birthday on the 22nd.

Both men deserve special honor. In elementary school, kids used to make log cabins with construction paper or crayon, and Washington got axes and cherry trees. Classrooms had portraits of the two men, and an American flag standing in the corner for the flag salute. I assume I am badly dating myself, but I’m not sure just when these formalities ended.

On Valentine’s Day we had a big decorated box in which to put the valentines for our classmates. The drugstore sold sheets of punch-out valentines in numbers suited to average class size. It was considered tacky not to be completely equal in favoring everyone with a card — even the ones you hated. I don’t think I have seen a picture of a classroom lately that has pictures of either president. I wonder if they still do Valentine’s Day?

Most kids have probably never seen a log cabin, and are unfamiliar with a split rail fence.  The tale about cherry tree and never told a lie is undoubtedly specious, and I don’t remember actually learning much of anything about either man.

Even little kids should learn something about history, but most colleges are dropping any Western Civilization or  American history requirement. The protests we hear on our campuses display a vast ignorance of U.S. History, and world history as well. Troubling.



Why Is Infrastructure Always “Crumbling?” by The Elephant's Child

President Donald Trump announced a $1 trillion infrastructure plan at the State of the Union speech on  January 30. But he had earlier revealed a price tag of $1.7 trillion at a meeting with about a hundred mayors of major American cities. The mayors were excited. Mr. Trump said he wanted all of the projects funded by his plan to be “on time and under budget.”

My question was “what is infrastructure?” Are we talking about the power grid? Concern about EMP attacks? The interstate highways? Airports? The president was complaining about our airports back during the campaign. What infrastructure is the responsibility of the federal government and what is the responsibility of the states or those cities? When thinking about “infrastructure” do people think beyond their own familiar potholes?

Why does it always come with the modifier “crumbling”? We have all sorts of big projects going on all over the country to improve transportation, or other things one would probably identify as “infrastructure”— California has a big high speed rail to nowhere that just keeps costing more and more and going nowhere, that nobody seems to want except Jerry Brown.

We have Light Rail here that nobody wants and seems to be a massive boondoggle. It is building across a floating bridge, and nobody seems to know if that will work. They have added what we call “Lexus Lanes” to the freeways where you have to pay a hefty sum to use them and that has screwed up traffic in the rest of the lanes. Our traffic is nothing to write home about. (Better they should have given trucks and buses their own lane.) In DC I think I read that freeway tolls are over $40  for a single trip. No wonder they are back to talking about flying cars.

Obama was going to accomplish great things with his infrastructure project, but he ran into the “shovel ready” problem, and he simply did not know or understand the problems with permitting and environmental regulations, how long they took and how involved they were. The  Transcontinental Railroad took railroad companies six years to lay 1,907 miles of track, tunneling through mountains at one foot a day, building bridges, all mostly by hand.

California’s bullet train is still slowly building and the new deadline is 2025 for high speed rail from San Francisco to San Diego. The old deadline was 2018, but the first leg will only run from  Madera to Shafter, a small town north of Bakersfield. This was the most “shovel ready”stretch when the Obama administration was passing out stimulus funds. The original plan was for 800 miles of high-speed rail up and running by 2020. It will be only very slightly faster than an airline flight if its ever finished. The project’s lead just announced another $2.9 billion increase in costs for the first 119-mile stretch, mostly for land acquisition. Voters approved the project back when it was estimated to cost $40 billion, and a one-way ticket from San Francisco to LA  was expected to be $55. The most recent estimate is $64 Billion and they are talking about routing it through Silicon Valley for obvious reasons.

Elon Musk is still messing around with his hyperloop project, with some success with his models. His greatest expertise seems to be his ability to get governments to subsidize his ideas. Across the country, many cities are engaged in big transportation projects, and I don’t have an impression of many successes.

I went to Google to see what I could find about Obama’s stimulus,  the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). In general, Democrats thought it was a great success, but were a little thin on explanations of what it accomplished. Since I’m a right-leaning crank, I consulted the Hoover Institution and John B. Taylor and John F. Cogan explained that “more than $1 trillion in federal-deficit spending did little or nothing to help the economy, because it was used to pay down debts and reduce borrowing.”

At Fox News, John R. Lott said that “the states hardest hit received the least money. States with higher bankruptcy, foreclosure and unemployment rates got less money. And lower-income states also received less. It looks like Democrats ended up helping their supporters, including unions and many very wealthy supporters.”

It’s easy to get politicians all enthusiastic about big projects that can crown their term with achievement. Think about Eisenhower’s transcontinental highways, or Hoover Dam. It’s very tempting. Obama’s high speed rail fantasy has led to Jerry Brown’s train to nowhere and apparently to the deadly derailment we just had down by Tacoma. It involved a new stretch of track that bypassed an existing rail line. The train was doing 80 mph when it hit a curve engineered for speeds of 30 mph.

“My high-speed rail proposal will lead to innovations that change the way we travel in America,” Obama boldly proclaimed at the time.

Washington state, however, eagerly took the stimulus money and promised to use it to speed up service between Portland and Seattle on Amtrak’s Cascade line.

One of the big projects — which consumed $187 million — went to build a 14.5 mile high-speed bypass between the cities of DuPont and Tacoma.

The stimulus was advertised as financing “shovel ready” projects, but work on the bypass did not begin until 2013, 5 years after the end of the recession.

President Trump is probably better prepared than most presidents to deal with big construction projects. He understands the hazards and the hubris, and knows what is involved. I’m willing to be convinced.



The Usual Suspects Are Back Again, Trying to “Save the Planet” by The Elephant's Child

Four Democrat senators are demanding that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt recuse himself from repealing a 2015 Obama-era regulation that places significant burdens on fossil fuel energy providers, according to the Washington Post.

Obama’s Clean Power Plan (CPP), an add-on to the Clean Air Act, was meant to curb carbon emissions from fossil fuel fired energy plants in order to conform to the emissions targets agreed to by the United States in the Paris climate accord. President Trump announced last June  that he was pulling the U.S. out of the accord, and Pruitt and the EPA proposed repealing the CPP about three months later. Repealing the regulation could save $33 billion in compliance costs by 2030.

The Democrat senators are Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Edward Markey of Massachusetts, Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Brian Schatz of Hawaii. They claimed that since Pruitt had sued the EPA four times at attorney general of Oklahoma he would not be able to make a fair judgment.

“The evidence for Pruitt’s inalterably [sic.] closed mind on CPP rulemaking is overwhelming,” the senators wrote, according to The Hill. “It falls into three categories: (1) his deep and wide financial ties to the fossil fuel industry which is ferociously opposed to the CPP; (2) his status as a previous petitioner suing the EPA to block the CPP; and (3) his numerous statements denouncing the CPP, questioning the ability to regulate carbon emissions under the [Clean Air Act] as the CPP proposes to do, and casting doubt on climate science.”

Environmentalists and Democrats have never been able to get it through their heads that our economy runs on electricity produced by fossil fuel fueled power plants, that is coal, natural gas, and petroleum products. All the solar arrays and wind turbines that we have installed manage to produce about 4% of our energy needs — when the wind is blowing and the sun is shining on a mostly cloudless day. That’s all.

Carbon dioxide is plant food. It makes plants (including food crops and trees) grow. The planet has been greening because of the very slight rise in the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, and more of the world’s people are getting enough food. Greenies like to think that CO2 is poisonous, but it is what we exhale. Nurserymen pump extra CO2 into their greenhouses to help the growth of the plants therein. You haven’t seen any stories in the news about all the dead bodies in greenhouses have you?

The Paris accords were designed to transfer money from the western nations to the poor countries of the developing world, under the guise of the global warming theme. Would have done nothing for global warming, and very little for the countries it meant to benefit. All about globalism.

The Clean Power Plan is a dumb regulation that should be repealed. It accomplishes nothing, and harms fossil fuel fired power plants for no reason at all except for pleasing environmentalists, who illogically hate fossil fuels. Drop a note to EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, and tell him he’s doing a great job. I’ll bet he isn’t getting a lot of fan letters just now, though he should.



Can Climate Models Predict Climate Change? by The Elephant's Child

No they can’t. Here’s why. Please listen carefully to Dr. William Happer. There is way too much nonsense floating around out there, largely from politicians who are quite sure that declaring themselves as ‘caring about the environment’ is the way to electoral success. Maybe, but it won’t do much for the climate.

You might also visit Dr.Roy Spencer’s website. He’s the scientist who runs the satellites that give us the world temperatures, and he says that we really don’t understand the action of clouds at all.

Hillary was out making a speech today about the drastic changes in climate ahead, and how it was all going to be a problem for women. I kind of lost interest at that point, and didn’t stick around for the rest of it. Something to do with desertification and women having to pack up and move south.

ADDENDUM: I forgot to add a link to Dr.Roy Spencer’s website, though it is available in the sidebar. Good site to explain the basics of global warming science.Good site for those who want to ‘resist’ the alarmist’s insistence that unbelievers should be sent to detention camps to learn correct thinking.




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