American Elephants


Mindless Protests Have Cost Universities Dearly, Now It’s Football’s Turn. by The Elephant's Child


The news today seems to be entirely about professional sports teams protesting the national anthem because—well, that’s where it gets a little confusing.  I’m not a professional sports fan, and usually pay no attention, so forgive me if I get some of this wrong. Apparently it all began with Colin Kaepernick,  formerly a quarterback with the SF 49’rs, who took to “taking a knee” (two knees is religious and bad, but one knee is a protest?) to protest the National Anthem, because of the oppression of blacks?  That didn’t go over very well, but his winning streak for the 49’rs didn’t last and he’s now a “free agent” which seems to be pro-sports speak for out of a job.

This young man is worth some $22 million, and had a salary of  $10,400,000. which doesn’t sound too oppressed.  So he is obviously concerned about other black people.

We just had a black president and first lady,  for two terms. We have had black Supreme Court justices for years beginning with Thurgood Marshall.  Currently Clarence Thomas serves, but he is a conservative, so he doesn’t count. He is regularly called an “Uncle Tom” and not included in the Smithsonian Black American History Museum. The Congressional Black Caucus currently has 45 members, is described by Wikipedia as a”racial organization,” and you have to be black to belong. There are 6 black CEOs of Fortune 500 companies and one of them is a woman.  Blacks are very active in the movie industry, and Morgan Freeman not only appears in every movie, but is right there whenever a deep voice is needed.

There are black professors in most universities, black novelists appear on the bestseller lists, black historians, black chefs (I’ve recently been getting Stubbs slow-cooker sauce, and recommend it), black fashion designers, black artists, and our music world would be poverty stricken indeed were it not for the contributions of black musicians. Black economists have added immeasurably to our understanding of how economies work — Tom Sowell has a particular genius for explaining things in an uncomplicated way, without jargon, that quickly makes sense, and Walter Williams brings a libertarian approach, but both are called Uncle Toms. Easier to insult than to emulate.

Some believe the Black Lives Matter claims, but their Marxist propaganda does not stand up to actual statistics. Cops shoot far more white men than black. More blacks are incarcerated because they commit more crimes. In general the police are trying to keep the peace and stop criminals from harming others, at great risk to themselves. There are some bad cops, some unjust court cases, and some wrong people blamed for a crime they did not commit. That is not the norm.

Now if you want to count comparable numbers, maybe it is unfair, I haven’t counted. It seems that there is no field that is not wide open to those who strive. On the other hand, our schools are not doing so well. Some schools that serve black neighborhoods are failing the kids, despite, in many cases, spending much more than other schools per pupil. That’s what Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education is trying to fix by promoting charter schools, school choice, and insisting that schools are responsive to the needs of students and the expectations of parents. Reports from our universities reveal that the kids cannot write coherent sentences and whole papers are beyond them. But that is not black kids but all kids. The schools apparently decided that in an era of keyboards, it was no longer necessary to teach writing—in the case of cursive writing, and in the case of putting words together in a way to actually make sense. The demise of cursive writing is unfortunate, for one of the best tricks for remembering something is writing it down, and writing it down at length is important so that you can go back and look at it later and see where you have been stupid.

Former president Obama clearly made race a feature of his administration. He vowed to make trouble for his successor, remaining in Washington to supervise the efforts of his OFA, which seems to be behind much of the attacks on President Trump. The New York Post explains how Obama is funding the anti-Trump resistance, with some funny business with the mortgage crisis settlements, and an improper, maybe unconstitutional, slush fund. He certainly managed to make race a much more prominent problem during his administration.

I don’t think knowledge, or skills, or education, or ability, or ambition has anything to do with the color of anyone’s skin. To the astonishment of most university students today, America was not the only nation that once had slavery. Slavery was common all over the world since long before recorded history. “Native American” nations were warring with and enslaving one another long before Europeans arrived. In the South there were blacks who owned slaves. Slavers from the Mediterranean raided the British isles to capture slaves. The African slave trade mostly went to the sugar islands and South America. America remains unusual in having fought a civil war to end slavery and in making successive laws to stamp out the remnants. Look to the Islamic countries where slavery is still common.

Sunday was a day for sports team protest. They claimed to be protesting President Trump for suggesting that they should be fired for protesting the National Anthem, when so many have fought and died for our country. It was the anthem they insulted, and the country, and the veterans. Owners and coaches may not realize the animosity that our people feel when their country and their flag is insulted. There’s a reason why the Emmys had the fewest viewers ever. There’s a reason why some stadiums are half empty. How about you? Are you boycotting anyone?

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And on the Environmental Front, They Want You to Shut Up. by The Elephant's Child

California City attorneys in San Francisco and Oakland (just across the bridge) have sued five oil companies, BP, Chevron, Conoco Phillips, Exxon Mobile, and Royal Dutch Shell. They are suing them under California law for being a public nuisance.

They filed two coordinated lawsuits on Tuesday—arguing that the courts should hold those companies responsible for climate change, and force them to financially compensate the cities for the harm the plaintiffs claim those companies are causing to the planet.

“For decades, Defendants have known that their fossil fuels pose risks of ‘severe’ and ‘catastrophic’ impacts on the global climate through the works and warnings of their own scientists or through their trade association.”

The climate cult believes. Those who are prospering from fostering panic about the threat to the planet have federal grants, new equipment for their labs, enhanced salaries, assistants, and the eager attention of reporters as well as a yearly trip to some resort for a big climate conference. This is very big business.

Also on Tuesday, Leonardo DiCaprio was speaking at the Yale Climate Conference, where he took to the podium to announce that:

We have watched as storms, wildfires, and droughts have worsened, and as extinctions have become increasingly frequent. And some of us have also listened as the scientific community sounded alarm bells about climate change as far back as the early 1990s.

That’s total bunk. Not a word is true.He added:

“Yet with all of this evidence – the independent scientific warnings, and the mounting economic price tag – there is still an astounding level of willful ignorance and inaction from the people who should be doing the most to protect us, and every other living thing on this planet.”

James Delingpole has great fun debunking the “predictable and scientifically illiterate eco tosh.”

Up North, they are playing around with a complaint filed by Ecojustice, accusing three groups: Friends of Science, the International Climate Science Coalition, and the Heartland Institute for making false and misleading claims about climate change, including that the sun is the main driver of climate change, not carbon dioxide, and that carbon dioxide is not a pollutant.

When it launched its complaint in December, 2015, Ecojustice told the National Observer it would press the Commissioner of Competition to refer the matter to the Attorney-General of Canada for “criminal charges against the denier groups”.

There is a notable trend at the present to rush to the courts, and to attempt to tell those with whom we disagree to shut up. Movie people may feel very passionate about their personal beliefs, but that’s not science. It may be extremely annoying to have people claiming that carbon dioxide is not a pollutant and now that we’ve passed 400 ppm, we’re all going to die, but it’s worthwhile to pause and realize that greenhouses are often filled with air containing 1000 ppm of CO2, and the greenhouses are not filled with dead bodies of nurserymen, but happy plants.



Hillary Demands The Elimination of the Electoral College by The Elephant's Child

Hillary is still touring the country on her perpetual “What Happened” First Woman Whine presentation. She simply cannot get over herself.  She was destined to be the first woman president, and now she is demanding that we eliminate the Electoral College, because she is right and the Founders were wrong.  She joins Maxine Waters on the most embarrassing Democrat list.

There is no such thing as a national popular vote. That is not the way our electoral system works, and ill-informed reporters simply prove that they are unfamiliar with the Constitution as well as the law.

As supposedly the most qualified candidate ever to run, Hillary exhibits an astonishing unfamiliarity with the United States Constitution and the reason why the founders invented an Electoral College. Michael Ramirez explained visually what would happen if we elected presidents by some kind of national popular vote.

In that case only four states would determine who the president should be and the rest of the country could go hang. The other states simply would not count. The electoral college assures that the votes of even the smallest or least populated states matter. And if we are to have a country where everybody matters, it’s important. The number of states and their population has changed a lot since the founders were struggling to do right by succeeding generations, but we should be eternally grateful for their wisdom.

The idea of Hillary’s qualifications for being president were based entirely on her job titles: First Lady, Senator, Defeated Candidate, Secretary of State. I’m not convinced that being married to the President is a qualification. She was elected to a safe Democratic seat when Daniel Patrick Moynihan retired. Her accomplishments as a Senator were carefully enumerated by the Huffington Post. She dropped out to run for the presidency, lost, and Obama appointed her as Secretary of State. The accomplishments in that office amounted to a lot of travel, and a “reset button” for the Russians as a joke, but she could not even get the Russian language correctly translated.

Benghazi was a disaster, her ambassador begged for help, for more security, warned that the situation was getting out of hand, and died along with his aide, and two CIA contractors who were trying to save the embassy staff. It was not the fault of someone who made a video that no one ever saw.

Her “carelessness” with classified documents convinced many voters that she was unqualified for office. Anyone who paid attention to the news knew that Moammar Ghaddafi was a bad guy, but he had given up any effort to get nuclear weapons when he saw what happened to Saddam. But he kept a lid on a very troublesome country. Hillary decided that he should be eliminated, and set loose all sorts of terror. Today the Islamic State controls Libya, and much of the population had to flee for their lives.

Somehow, she never seemed to have done her homework, nor to have studied up to have some expertise on a subject, any subject. But that was just an impression.

Somebody remarked today that the ultimate payback will be when Nikki Haley is inaugurated as the first woman president.



“Homeless Camps Are Infectious Disease Time Bombs” * by The Elephant's Child

(*Headline shamelessly borrowed from Alex Berezow.)
According to HUD statistics, the homelessness problem is greatest in New York City, NY, 75,323, Los Angeles City & County 75,323 and Seattle/King County 10,122. These statistics, the most recent are from 2015. (It apparently takes that long for government computers to massage that much information.) My Seattle suburb is currently beginning to try to deal with our homeless problem with contentious arguments over housing location.

“Homelessness” is a contemporary problem that encompasses the out-of-work people who literally have no home and cannot afford one, those whose problems are alcoholism, drugs, mental health, or just a subcategory of those who enjoy the independence of living on the street. It has been suggested that the problem arose when the do-gooders tackled the idea of people being involuntarily committed to mental hospitals, with the idea that people were committing relatives for reasons unrelated to mental health. So it is much harder to get anyone committed, and many mental hospitals have closed. “Homeless” is another Leftist do-gooder name for much bigger problems.

At the same time addicts have to decide that they need help to overcome their addiction and be able to pay for it. We do not have drug courts that force addicts to accept treatment, and I don’t know if there is any help for those who don’t particularly want to overcome their addiction.  Addicts who have reached the homeless state pose enormous costs on society. Seattle, I believe, has an apartment building for hopeless alcoholics who are constantly picked up by police. It ‘s justified as a place where they can drink themselves to death, but it gets them off the street.

Alex Berezow’s article suggests that a methodology that measures the homeless per 100,000 population is more accurate, and he includes a graph, again for 2015 statistics. Seattle drops down a bit on the list, but is still in the disgusting range.

Funny! As I write this, there is a commercial on the radio for “Hotel California by the Sea” in Bellevue, a luxury hotel for those dealing with addiction problems. Since they go on a bit about their luxury, I assume it is also costly.

Here’s the graph for the first statistics. Clearly, neither is truly accurate, with 2015 numbers, and the problem of city/county/metropolitan area as guideposts to what’s happening. I would be surprised if with current technology, it would not be possible to have more current statistics, but government computers aren’t up to the task.

But what do you do? Seattle has many homeless camps, under the freeways, intruding on public parks. Area churches host homeless camps on a sort of rotating basis, because they are churches and supposed to be “nice.” The camps include drug dealers, prostitution rings, and increasingly, as Berezow reports, homeless camps are infectious disease time bombs. That the rest of  us don’t have to worry too much about infectious disease is due to the strong defense provided by the “pillars” of our public health system. The pillars include chlorination of the water supply, vaccination, and pasteurization of  dairy and other products—add medication. San Diego has had an ongoing outbreak of hepatitis that has hospitalized nearly 300 and killed 16. Streptococcus in Anchorage, Shigella in Portland and Tuberculosis everywhere. The squalor is a threat to society as a whole. The opioid crisis is hitting rural parts of the country as well.

What do we do? We have tried doing nothing, and that isn’t acceptable either. “It is dangerous, costly and inhumane.”



Letting Go by The Elephant's Child

Nobody has mentioned it, but we are seeing an excellent example of what no one really talks about. How to end a presidency or a campaign gracefully. For all the Democrat histrionics about George W. Bush and Iraq, he handled leaving the presidency with grace and character. Clearly he has felt deeply responsible for the war that took place during his tenure as Commander in Chief, and his efforts with wounded warriors, and honoring those who served with his paintings is impressive. But he clearly recognized, early on, that his legacy would be determined by the historians, and there wasn’t all that much he could do about it. What happened — happened.

Former president Barack Obama hasn’t quite come to terms with being a former president. He is working on how he can continue to be active in politics, bought a mansion in one of the tonier sections of Washington D.C. and continues to pursue his celebrity status. What neither he nor Hillary quite seem to understand is that when it’s over—it’s really over, and the party has moved on. They are interested in the future, who are viable candidates, what are viable programs and policies, and the former have no real role to play.

Hillary is embarking on her book tour, and Democrats are not pleased. Her book, which she sees as vindication and explanation for “What Happened” comes across more as a plaintive whine, and Democrats find it uncomfortable and wish she would just go quietly away. She is charging over $2,000 for her book tour appearances (book included). I ran onto a quote from early in Bill’s presidency when she was complaining about being offended, and saying that those giving offense just didn’t like dealing with a “very powerful woman.” Interesting. I never thought of her as powerful, at all.

Jimmy Carter wasn’t ready to deal with the end of his presidency either. He kept trying to interfere disastrously in international relations. I guess having the reins of power in your own hands is a feeling that is hard to give up. Someone should write a little “retiring with grace” book.



Taking Stock of Trumpism by The Elephant's Child

Victor Davis Hanson spoke in May, at Hillsdale College’s Kirby Center in Washington D.C. on “Trumpism.” Where did it come from, where is it going and what has it accomplished? This election was a strange phenomenon, when a political neophyte with no experience in politics at all, won the election over a long term politician, wife of a president, who clearly was owed the opportunity to become the first woman president.

It was impossible. That is surely the source of the Trump Derangement Syndrome. But Democrats operate on talking points, devised and focus group tested words. Surely you have noticed that suddenly all Democrats seem to be speaking the same exact words. It’s an old propaganda technique, if a lie is repeated often enough, people will start to believe it. They’re not getting the response they want fast enough, and yesterday they were trying a new one. Trump is crazy. Mentally deranged. For which he should be encouraged to resign if not be impeached. Let’s see if that one has any staying power.  Dr. Hanson’s speech is a fine remedy. Enjoy.



Conflict, Delusions, Visions, Madness by The Elephant's Child

In Charlottesville, Virginia, a college town, protesters were attempting to tear down a confederate memorial and counter protesters variously described as neo-Nazis, KKK members, white nationalists, with Antifa, and Black Lives Matter.

Leftist news sources immediately  began referring to “white supremacists” to make the whole thing about race. The left has made a great effort to describe President Trump as “a racist president” (he isn’t) though that is simply their defensive cover, always calling any republicans “racist” to disguise their own long history as southern slave holders, Confederates,  opponents of reconstruction, opponents of full citizenship for blacks, and desegregation.

One of the curious things about political opinions is how often the same people line up on opposite sided of different issues. The issues themselves may have no intrinsic connection with each other.They may range from military spending to drug laws to monetary policy to education. Yet the same familiar faces can be found glaring at each other from opposite sides of the political fence, again and again. It happens too often to be coincidence and it is too uncontrolled to be a plot. A closer look at the arguments on both sides often shows that they are reasoning from fundamentally different premises. These different premises—often implicit—are what provide the consistency behind the repeated opposition of individuals and groups on numerous, unrelated issues. They have different visions of how the world works.  (emphasis added)

That’s Thomas Sowell: A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles, 1987.

He goes on to explain that”the ever-changing kaleidoscope of raw reality would defeat the human mind by its complexity, except for the mind’s ability to abstract, to pick out parts and think of them as a whole. This is nowhere more necessary than in social visions and social theory, dealing with the complex and often subconscious interactions of millions of human beings.

We talk of “Trump Derangement Syndrome” to try to explain what is going on, but the thing is better described in a book by Charles Mackay written in 1841: Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds  still available at Amazon. He writes about economic bubbles, the crusades, witch mania, alchemists, the tulip mania, fortune-telling and haunted houses. The book can be downloaded from the Library of Economics and Liberty for free.

An article from the Center for Inquiry contains more recent examples including the Salem Witch Trials, the Orson Welles broadcast of an alien invasion story, and a Seattle Windshield Pitting Epidemic in 1954.

Thursday, Scott Adams (creator of Dilbert) posted an excellent article on his blog “How to Know You’re In a Mass Hysteria Bubble”.

The most visible Mass Hysteria of the moment involves the idea that the United States intentionally elected a racist President. If that statement just triggered you, it might mean you are in the Mass Hysteria bubble. The cool part is that you can’t fact-check my claim you are hallucinating if you are actually hallucinating. But you can read my description of the signs of mass hysteria and see if you check off the boxes.

If you’re in the mass hysteria, recognizing you have all the symptoms of hysteria won’t help you be aware you are in it. That’s not how hallucinations work. Instead, your hallucination will automatically rewrite itself to expel any new data that conflicts with its illusions. …

The reason you can’t easily identify what-the-hell is going on in the country right now is that a powerful mass hysteria is in play. If you see the signs after I point them out, you’re probably not in the hysteria bubble. If you read this and do NOT see the signs, it probably means you’re trapped inside the mass hysteria bubble.

This latter one is probably the most important link, because he is talking about understanding today and today’s bubbles. But Tom Sowell’s A Conflict of Visions belongs in your library.




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