American Elephants


Michelle Malkin Has Some Concerns about Google Too. by The Elephant's Child

Michelle Malkin has warned of Google’s surveillance of our children through their ostensibly educational suite of applications. This, too, was a response to the leaked videos of Google’s “all-hands meeting” after Donald Trump’s election. Google co-founder Sergey Brin suggested that President Donald Trump’s supporters voted for him out of “boredom,” which he further credited as an historical driver of both fascism and communism. That is indeed a pretty weird analysis of the election, and not one I have heard elsewhere. That is so far from what is actually going on in the country, that you have to take notice. Responding to an online question that expressed concern at the growing income disparities between America’s heartland and the coastal regions, Brin responded:

I think everyone’s presuming that some of these folks left behind are specifically the people who voted for Trump. I don’t think the data quite supports that – I know there’s the geographic, roughly speaking, spread [but] Hillary won the lower-income demographic…”

The biggest relationship was whether people had really routine jobs, um, in an area, that correlated highly, uh, with Trump support versus non-routine jobs. There’s actually a lot of historical precedent for boredom being a huge factor in vote choice – and actually in building extremism.

Data shows that boredom led to fascism and also the communist revolutions, I mean there are many other factors too, but, uh, it sort of sneaks up, sometimes, you know, really bad things …”Brin goes on to say that Google should think about how it can improve “governance” and “decision-making.”

How will Google combat the “extremism” that Brin links to Trump support? The co-founder references it himself elsewhere in the clip: the company’s internal think-tank, “Jigsaw,” which has developed tools to redirect users away from “extremist” content in search results on both Google Search and YouTube.

Michelle Malkin said:

Is Google’s role in infiltrating the public schools.,when they talk about boredom, what do they think is the cure? Well, stuffing our kids’ minds and larding up their computers, which are donated by Google and all of these big tech companies into the classrooms with GAFE, which is Google Applications for Education.”

Why? Not because they care about boredom or not, but they’re tracking our kids. Who cares about tracking hijackers and jihadists? They’re spending more money and building more infrastructure to track our kids from the time they get onto the bus until they graduate from college. That’s what they’re focused on.

Google had free reign under the Obama White House, that’s how the FERPA — Family Education Rights and Privacy Act — was completely weakened to allow the third-party sale of our kids’ data, and more needs to be done on that front. I’d like to see the Trump Education Department be doing more to combat that. …

It’s not just their searches,” said Malkin. “It’s not just their curricula. [Google] is starting to track and measure social and emotional and psychological learning to program them to be good workers bees like the ones that we saw all applauding dutifully at the all-hands meeting after the election.

Sergey Brin makes a lot of his status as “immigrant” He was born in Russia, but came to the U.S. at age six, when his parents fled persecution as Jews. I don’t know if these people who struck it rich with an invention that proved to be in great demand, had time aside from their technology studies to learn something about American history and the freedom that brought his family here.

I don’t know, but what the Google people had to say in the purloined video of their meeting, indicates that there is at least one person there who is not completely on board. A little broad daylight on the company may not be welcome, but seems to be necessary.

Michelle Malkin said:

“One last angle I want to get in here… and it’s something that Breitbart’s education reporters have covered… is Google’s role in infiltrating the public schools. When they talk about boredom, what do they think is the cure? Well, stuffing our kids’ minds and larding up their computers, which are donated by Google and all of these big tech companies into the classrooms with GAFE, which is Google Applications for Education.”

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Freedom Isn’t Free, We Have to Keep Working On It! by The Elephant's Child

Thinking about Google and their algorithms. They are supposedly designed to search my traffic and searches on their website so they can sell the information about my interests to advertisers so the advertisers can target me with ads that I am most likely to respond to. Have I got that straight?

If so, they’re doing a #*!#€∂ poor job of it.  I have never seen an ad online that I have responded to. Oddly enough, I would be happy to tell them regularly what advertising would interest me. For free. Advertisers who want to buy information on people who have no interest in their products are free to waste their money.

They could just ask me once or twice a month. How about you? Hunting season, Back to school, upcoming wedding, redecorating, football fan, thinking about a new car, the possibilities are endless. Amazon has made shopping easy for those short of time, and damaged local retailers in the process. But it is inevitable. Those who offer what we want and the least troublesome way to get it, will get our business.

What I’m suggesting is that Google et all don’t have to play dirty—they have deliberately chosen to be sneaky about stealing your privacy and your information, and controlling your ideas, without even considering the possibility of doing it honestly. Free business idea here.

A Google research scientist has quit in response to Google’s secret agreement to move forward with creating a censored search engine approved by the Communist Chinese government for use in China. If you did not read my post on the Chinese government, here is the link. After the videos of Google weekly meetings despairing the election of Donald Trump, and suggesting that they would do whatever it takes to ensure that doesn’t happen again or succeed, it should be quite clear that if they are willing to build a highly censored search engine for Communist China’s control of their people, Democrats whose only goal is control are next. And Europe will be next. Apparently Google can influence and determine elections, and remember that You Tube is part of Google. Prager University is having more of their freedom-oriented videos censored by YouTube.

Republicans are, by nature, inclined to be suspicious of government regulation.  The Obama administration gave us a big dose of that, because the Democrats are, by nature, inclined to want to control whatever annoys them, and they hate Trump’s booming economy, lifting everyone. Nancy Pelosi has said quite specifically that the first thing the Democrat House will do when they get back in control is to dump the tax cuts and get taxes back to where they belong so that Democrats have lots of tax money with which to buy votes. She is sure that all the tax cuts go only to the very rich. Yet the reports from the economy are that average workers have had a better pay increase than CEOs.

Freedom is always under attack from the controllers, and always has to be fought for, hopefully just at the polls. Our Constitution has done our Founders’ best in trying to limit what the government can do, for as we have just seen in the last 8 years—there’s always somebody that thinks they know better, and can fix things. That’s why we try to elect originalists to the Supreme Court, who understand limited government, and why Democrats fight that so hard.



Just About What I Expected. Former President Obama Speaks. by The Elephant's Child

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Former President Barack Obama received an ethics in government award at the University of Illinois, and took advantage of the occasion to trash Donald Trump, claim that  any recovery that was happening started in his administration, and criticized everything about Trump’s presidency, calling it a “dark period” in American history. Periods of progress in America were frequently followed by periods of resistance to change and a “step back”.

Gosh, I can remember back to Obama’s Inauguration, and an excited young black woman was thrilled that she would not have to worry about paying her bills, because Obama was going to pay them. Many black Americans had not believed that a black man could be elected to the presidency, and were justifiably proud and thrilled that it could happen. Many Americans who did not vote for him, thought that having the first black president was probably a good thing for the country.

Obama helped out our black citizens by giving them welfare and health care, and raising taxes to pay for it. Donald Trump has given them jobs—real, good paying jobs, 201,000 new jobs just in August, as worker wages have surged to a nine year high. The new unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.9%.

Obama was grateful that President George W. Bush remained quiet during his presidency, and did not criticize him, and promised to stay quiet during the Trump administration, but the horrors of a surging economy and thousands getting off of food stamps was just too much for him.

Over the past few decades the politics of division and resentment and paranoia has unfortunately found a home in the Republican party.

Obama referred to Trump as a “bully” who deserved to be rejected by the American people. Republicans, he said were appealing to “tribe”by trying to divide people by race and gender. Excuse me, Who is trying to divide Americans by race and gender? That theme seems to be coming out of our universities, and last time I looked, they are not havens of Republicans or conservatives.  He even blasted Republicans for “cozying up to the KGB” He pointed to a rise in white-nationalism and racial division, and attacked Republicans for stoking resentment in order to remain in power.

We are Americans, we’re supposed to stand up to bullies, not follow them,” he said. “We’re supposed to stand up to discrimination. And we’re sure as heck supposed to stand up clearly and unequivocally to Nazi sympathizers.

After any president’s tenure in office, everyone tries to sum up what worked, and what didn’t. Any administration will have high points and failures. George W. was wise to refrain from comment in recognition that future historians will evaluate and sum up the job he did, and his present comments won’t help, and could hinder. Good lesson, Obama might take notice.

More than anything, he attempted to take credit for today’s surging economy.  Good luck with that one.

(slightly updated for clarity)



The Puzzlement of Trading With China by The Elephant's Child

You have probably noticed that I favor columns from Victor Davis Hanson, among others. I think he is an important voice today. Yesterday was no exception with “Trump on the Ground”— which is a comment on contemporary California. Dr. Hansen is currently in Hillsdale for a teaching assignment for some lucky kids at Hillsdale College. Does Trump Get Deserved Credit? he asks. Not necessarily since it wars with the paradox that Trump is now seen by many as useful, but not as presidential. When one is doing well, he has the luxury of dreaming that it might be better to do poorly under a so-called presidential leader. (Do read the whole thing)

Abroad, for all the hatred of Donald Trump, there is a quiet, though usually repressed, recognition that the United States is doing what it long should have been doing—leading the world to an economic recovery, despite Trump’s trash-talking tariffs, and going to the mat with China. Critics concede that China is culpable of all sorts of trade violations. They add in the past that nothing much worked to persuade them to follow the global norms of currency, labor, environmental, and safety regulations, as well as copyright and patent laws. And while they abhor tariffs, they nonetheless have no ideas otherwise how to nudge China to follow the rules of global citizenship.

“The Obama years may have allowed China to infringe on American global power, but under Trump. this tide is turning. As governments around the world watch China’s expanding reach with resignation, the president has signed into law a bill promising to restrict foreign investment in the U.S. Under the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act, the U.S. government has added a powerful tool to block other countries—namely China—from buying up or funneling money into US companies. This is directly protecting vital strategic assets and know-how.”

In 2015 and 16, Beijing’s corporations went on an overseas acquisitions spree that concluded with multibillion dollar deals throughout the U.S., while the Obama administration stood idly by. U.S. intelligence  has long classified Chinese firms as security risks, raising concerns that China is able to access technologies underpinning American military might and economic power. Now the new investment law and the new National Defense Authorization Act prohibits U.S. government agencies from using telecommunications and surveillance products from Chinese technology firms like ZTE and Hyawei, their voices are now codified into U.S. law.

America has been a major destination for Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI) in the last decade, and the largest target of Chinese capital flows since 2005. But even if Chinese President Xi tirelessly touts the supposed benign nature of investments, don’t be fooled: such investments are a favorite, and more surreptitious, weapon in the Chinese arsenal than the military – a weapon China is employing freely given the country cannot compete with U.S. military might in terms of capabilities and global force projection.

China is clearly trying to undermine America’s global power status through money rather than military might. Beijing’s pockets seem deep. Trump must draw some red lines abroad when it comes to Chinese investments. The consequences of Obama’s years of neglect will give China more of an advantage.

 



The Big Singapore Meeting: Big Breakthrough or Waste of Time? by The Elephant's Child

President Trump has gone to Singapore, had a good meeting with Kim Jong Un of North Korea, and returned home to the utter consternation of the media. They were eager for some kind of catastrophe. Trump is too new, too ill-informed about international affairs not to have made a complete mess of it. Here, from the White House, is the joint statement of President Donald J. Trump of the United States of America and Chairman Kim Jong Un of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea at the Singapore Summit. (You might find it fun to look up the Democratic People’s Republics of the world and see just who they are, and how they’re doing.)

The agreement is not all that much. They agree to try to make peace. They agree to try to commit to de-nuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and they will commit to recovering POW/MIA remains. Nancy Pelosi threatened that the Senate would have to confirm it. It’s not a treaty, Nancy, there’s nothing to confirm. They had a meeting and agreed to try to do a little more.

President Trump said that the entire effort was dedicated to Otto Warmbier, the young American who made the mistake of taking a propaganda poster in Korea, whereupon the Koreans threw him into prison, brutally mistreated him and when he was released, he barely got home before he died.

I’m including links to some articles that capture some of the ideas that explain what is going on. The first is “How Twitter Diplomacy Works” by Thomas Farnan. He begins:

President Trump this week will bust 68 years of diplomatic white paper inertia and meet the leader of a nation with which America has been at war since 1950. President Trump this week will bust 68 years of diplomatic white paper inertia and meet the leader of a nation with which America has been at war since 1950. …

Do read the whole thing.

The White House prepared for the meeting carefully. They learned that Kim was a big movie fan with a huge library of movie videos, and they prepared their own—which Trump played for the Chairman on an iPad. Scott Adams (Dilbert) discusses the video brilliantly here:

There has been some angry objection from Conservatives that Mr. Trump buttered up Kim, said he cared about his people, (but he doesn’t and he;s a brutal dictator and murderer. ) Yes, but refer back to the simple statement that we have been at war since 1950.

There are some underlying things that we just don’t know about. North Korea has been a subsidiary of China, and China’s Xi has ambitions. How North Korea fits into that we don’t know. Useful or annoyance? When Kim shot off this last batch of nuclear tests, something happened to his test site, and the mountain collapsed, but we don’t know how bad it was or what it means.

Our media wants to portray the whole thing as a colossal failure of one sort or another. They want Trump embarrassed, disgraced (TDS kicks in here) so you can’t rely on much that they have to say. They’re already going on about the failure of Trump’s G-7 meeting and how he insulted the Canadians etc. ,etc. Here’s some useful commentary on that: American Greatness: “Trump is Right: G7 Needs a Wake-Up Call on Trade.” From Investor’s Business Daily: President Trump Didn’t Sigh G-7’s Leftist Agenda—Smart Move”.

From The Wall Street Journal: Why Trump Clashes With Europe” (subscription barrier), and THE WEEK: “If Europe is serious about challenging Trump, it should actually challenge him” by Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry.

This is not all that much reading, you will find it valuable. There are some important insights here. And keep that one phrase in mind: “68 years of white paper diplomatic inertia.”

 



Jordan Peterson: The Fatal Flaw In Leftist Thought by The Elephant's Child

One can assume that Jordan Peterson became a Clinical Psychologist because he was curious about what makes people tick, and when you get into that there are far more questions than answers. And so he became a professor and keeps studying and analyzing, and the Universities got all weird, and politics got all weird, and the Canadian government began to tell him what language he must use to describe human beings, and that annoyed him most fiercely. And so he has become a public figure with his speeches and videos and the rest of us are able to have the benefit of his thought, for which I am most grateful.  He’s good.



Historian Richard Pipes Has Died at age 94. by The Elephant's Child

Richard Pipes, an invaluable historian of Russia, an aide to President Reagan, has died at age 94. He spent his entire academic career at Harvard, and took his place in the front rank of Russian historians with the publication of Russia Under the Old Regime in 1974.

He had a notable public career, but he regarded himself as first and foremost as a historian of Russian history, politics, and culture. He abandoned chronology and treated his subject by themes, such as the peasantry, the church, the machinery of the state and the intelligentsia. One of his most original contributions was to locate many of Russia’s woes in its failure to evolve beyond its status as a patrimonial state — nullifying the concepts of private property and individual freedom. Everything belonged to the head of the state.

You might want to start with his Modern Library book on Communism as a good introduction. I prize his Property and Freedom. He was a little uncomfortable taking on the subject as a departure from his Russian histories, but it was an important book.




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