American Elephants


City vs. Country—The Same Old Story by The Elephant's Child

People who don’t pay a lot of attention to political news, and there are lots of them, often wonder about the real difference between parties. There are many who at least claim that they vote for the man, not the party. I ran across a good example in Politico Magazine. I had no idea that Politico had a magazine. Short piece by the editor, one Stephen Heuser, to introduce their “Cities Issue” — “One Nation, Divided by Density”

Pick a city in America, any city. Chances are it’s younger, more diverse and more educated than the countryside around it—and way, way more liberal. The resurgence of the city has been one of the most striking reversals in modern America, as the bleak streets of the 1970s have turned into magnets for a new kind of young, hyperconnected professional, and even wealthy retirees flocking back from their suburbs. It has also created a widening split in a country now wondering what “indivisible” is really supposed to mean.

If you were to pluck a person at random out of the fictional city on our cover, odds are overwhelming that you’d find a Hillary Clinton voter. (In real life, there are big cities—Boston, Washington, San Francisco—where not a single precinct went for Donald Trump.) If you toured the rural landscape below, you’d find nothing but Trump signs in front yards. Politics has become another symptom of a growing cultural gulf. Think pickup trucks vs. subway cars. Church vs. brunch. Diner coffee vs. single-origin beans roasted by a guy selling vinyl LPs. We are one nation, divided by density.

The new president exploited that divide with the genius of someone who understood cities from the inside and was willing to sell them out. It worked, but at what cost? Rural America needs cities to thrive. Cities depend on the people and land around them, more than they like to think. The modern city might feel like a kind of island in a global archipelago, a nucleus of prosperity and avocado toast, but urbanites can no longer afford the smug assumption that the future is theirs. You can smell the fires outside the walls.

Do read the whole thing, there are only 4 more short paragraphs.

It wasn’t just Hillary calling small town and rural America “Deplorables”— it’s what the Left believes. (We’re smart and you’re dumb.) You see it in the media constantly.  The Left does not understand human nature, doesn’t like it, and wants to fix it. They will fix it with other people’s money, giving alms to the poor, food stamps to the hungry, and sending all black children to college. It’s just socialism, as Margaret Thatcher said, “sooner or later, you run out of other people’s money.” So when they run out of money, they expect to have converted everyone to Democrat voters, by giving them stuff.

Smart people don’t have to be “educated” to be knowledgeable. Lots of people graduate from college and remain remarkably ignorant. Silicon Valley billionaires may be technologically brilliant with things cyber, and not very bright about the rest of the world. There are lots of people with degrees in rural America, and there are lots of  prosperous cities in flyover country.

Mr. Heuser goes on about city people and the “creative class”— Lefties like to think of themselves as “the creative class.” They either don’t notice, or don’t care about the wreckage they leave in their wake. In any case, if you are feeling annoyed by the Left, this is quite a splendid example of just why you find them so completely annoying.



The American Left and the American Right: Is It War? by The Elephant's Child

In some ways, it’s really quite amazing that we can talk to our progressive friends. We don’t speak the same language and we definitely don’t define words in the same way.

They speak emotion and future and purification of the human race, we speak of Constitution and laws, economics, innovation and opportunity. They talk endlessly about fairness and diversity. But we don’t mean the same thing, for example, by diversity. For the left it means skin color, ethnicity, country of origin—surface things. Conservatives are interested in diversity of ideas, interests, habits and history, hopes and dreams. The left is terminally interested in gender, to the disadvantage of everyone, and all of its variations which must be noted, celebrated and paraded and now joined forever in shared bathrooms. Conservatives recognize two genders descended from Adam and Eve with the same characteristics those two started with. Conservatives celebrate and respect family. The left tries to destroy it.

There are remarkable numbers of useless phrases in circulation: clean energy, sustainable development, renewable energy, fairness, income inequality, normative framework, undocumented citizens and of course multiculturalism — the NYT recently came up with “incorrect promise.” Some of these constructions are meant to change minds and actions.

Grocery stores celebrate all thing organic,which means quite specifically that they must be grown and fertilized with manure, not chemicals.  Technically it’s all nitrogen, but real animal poop has the extra advantage of possibly infecting you with e-coli. Consider how it is supposed to effect the quality of the sheets for your bed if the cotton from which they were woven was fertilized with steer manure? Organic is pure bunk, and costs about 30% more.

College students are so sensitive to language that they cannot bear to hear ideas or thoughts expressed which disagree with their own ideas.  Free speech is a term that has specific First Amendment meaning for Conservatives, but I’m unclear about just what the Left thinks it means.

The most recent idiocy is perhaps cultural appropriation, which became a big deal on some campus with the idea that large hoop earrings were a cultural appropriation, and should be rejected. This is perhaps the silliest idea they have come up with. Bruce Bawer said it nicely:

For two centuries, America accomplished something that should have previously seemed impossible: the creation of a brand new national identity by individuals who, forsaking old loyalties and joining to make new lives melted away ethnic differences. Hector St. John Crevecour (Letters from an American Farmer) described Americans as “a new race of men” a race that paradoxically had nothing to do with race.” In 1944, Gunnar Myrdal marveled at the fact that Americans of every ethnicity, religion and color shared a more “explicitly expressed system of general  ideals” than the people of any other country in the Western world.”

Lots of cultural appropriation — and good for us.



Where is the Left Going And What Do They Want? by The Elephant's Child

I ran across my notes from a panel discussion on where the Left is going, back in the fall of 2014, and it’s still of interest.

“The left is intellectually dead, and where it is headed toward is authoritarianism.”That was Kevin Williamson, roving correspondent for National Review.

William Voegeli of the Claremont Review of Books argued that “The fundamental assumption of the left is the innate goodness of each person.  This assumption means that they are seeking to undermine the Constitution, which is based on a very different view of human nature. The Constitution pits the different branches of government against each other so that each will keep the others in check.”

As James Madison put it in the Federalist, “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition,” and the Constitution supplies the “defect of better motives” through such balancing.

The Constitution, in other words, expects selfish ambition, and by expecting ambition, Voegeli noted, it legitimizes it—which is precisely what the left does not want to do. The left wants to supply not the “defect of better motives” but rather just “better motives,” Voegeli said. Liberals want to set up a system that allows our latent goodness to “flourish,” and the checks of our constitutional system can be discarded in favor of technocratic, centralized disinterestedness that allows each individual to live an authentic life of his choosing.

“The object is not to have one’s own way so much as to have a way that is one’s own,”



Sun and Wind and Rainbows and Magic Do Not Power the Planet by The Elephant's Child

A post I wrote back in 2013 is getting another round of attention, as it does now and then. I wrote about abandoned wind turbines, and the misguided notion that wind and sun are free, therefore renewable energy—and to be endlessly subsidized as our most desirable source of power. I hasten to add that I am not a scientist nor do I have any pretense of being one. I was an English major at a time and in a college where the pursuit of knowledge and the critical examination of sources were considered essential.

But I also grew up in the mountains of Idaho on 400 acres with a river running through it, and spent most of my time, winter and summer, outdoors. We had winters with 5′ of snow and winters that were fairly mild. Flood, forest fires, lightning strikes, cougar, bear, lynx and woodrats. (I’m a deadly shot on woodrats. They gather up the cotton from cottonwood trees, store it in the attic of the woodshed and then pee all over it, and have their babies there.) You don’t live outdoors for years interacting with weather, and get all panicky about a few degrees warmer or cooler.

Science is complicated. I just read about a cave discovered in Mexico, a half a mile down, so hot that scientists can only stay for a few minutes, where there are microbes trapped in crystals that could be 50,000 years old, living on minerals like iron and manganese. Lots left on Earth for us to discover yet, diseases to conquer, unknown territory, they are discovering new species every year. The world economy runs on some form of electric power, and not just for our convenience, light and heat. Transportation, manufacturing, business and government are dependent on electricity and their needs are growing constantly, so the more power we need.

People are frightened by nuclear power after the horrific catastrophe in Japan, and the nuclear accident in Russia. We have dams on most of our major rivers, and environmentalists long for free wild rivers. Power good, but dams bad. Environmentalists say that coal, oil and natural gas are all evil, and should “stay in the ground where they belong.” So it’s unsurprising that there is a fetish for energy from the wind and the sun. Surely with our advanced modern technology we can invent wind turbines and solar arrays to harness the free energy of the wind and the sun. Well, no, no we can’t. Or we can, if we’re content to live in extreme poverty.

The wind is terminally, fatally intermittent. When the wind blows, which is not most of the time, it blows in gusts and wafts or gales. What you need is a steady stream of wind and then you get “capacity,” which is what the manufactures of the turbines promise when they are extolling the virtues of wind. Never happens. In winter, when you are freezing, the wind is apt to not blow at all, and the turbines don’t turn. They have already tried most of the really windy places —Altamont Pass in California, the tip of the Hawaiian Islands, they’ve even replaced a lot of the idle turbines in my 2013 post, so now they are moving offshore. There’s a big offshore farm coming online off our East coast shortly. Offshore turbines take a lot more punishment from saltwater and weather. The life of an onshore turbine is 20 years at best, offshore is a lot less.

The sun, on the other hand, is too diffuse. For real power you need really hot sun bearing down, in a cloudless sky. How many cloudless, sunny days do you get? This is the Northwest, where we get rain all the time, and plenty of clouds. The sun also has a habit of sinking beneath the horizon at night, and even more so in the short days of winter. Elon Musk keeps promising battery arrays to take care of that, but it certainly hasn’t happened yet, and his solar farms haven’t been in the news much. Wind turbines have a nasty habit of chopping up bats and birds by the hundreds, birds of prey as well. What that does to our insect population and rodent population I don’t know, but it doesn’t bode well for malaria and Zika. and other disease.

Both of these technologies demand more and more land each year as the need for more and more energy increases, land in quantities simply unavailable.  Look for Robert Bryce’s book: Smaller, Faster, Lighter, Denser, Cheaper. It’s a clear, simple explanation of why wind and solar will remain interesting, but are not a major source of power except in the remote places where any source of power, however limited,  is a bounty.



Venezuelans Are Starving. by The Elephant's Child

Venezuelans are starving. Not the kind of starving when you burst into the well stocked kitchen after a football game and demand a sandwich. This is the real kind where 15 percent of the people are eating garbage in order to survive. Scrounging among the refuse thrown out by the city’s restaurants. A majority of Venezuelans go to bed hungry, mass protests and riots are breaking out across the country, and the despised dictator Nicholas Maduro attempts to dump the Venezuelan constitution in order to tighten his grip on power. The oil rich country desperately lacks the basic resources of medicine and power. Hospitals are dirty, empty of supplies and medicines. Venezuela has plenty of oil, but they cannot afford to take it to market to sell it.

Hugo Chavez was elected in 1999, an authoritarian who locked up his opponents, ended press freedom and paid gangs to intimidate poor communities into supporting him. He  promised that the miracle of socialism would feed the poor, help them to realize their dreams with free health care and education for all. He was celebrated by the usual suspects—Noam Chomsky, Jesse Jackson, Oliver Stone, Michael Moore, Sean Penn, but the only person he managed to enrich was his daughter who has become a billionaire and the wealthiest woman in Latin America. Chavez died in April of 2013.

His chosen successor, Nicholas Maduro, has made even more of a mess of things. Inflation is out of control, and the rebellion of the people is growing apace. In a recent speech to loyalists he announced his plan to arm hundreds of thousands of supporters after a years-long campaign to confiscate civilian owned guns. The highest denomination 100 Bolivar note is now worth abut 3 cents in American dollars. Inflation is expected to rise 1,660% this year, The country’s foreign reserves are down to only $10 billion, Venezuela was once Latin America’s richest country.

Protestors turn out in massive crowds, demanding change. Other pictures show the streets in other directions, equally packed with angry Venezuelans. This particular demonstration was because of Maduro’s attempt to upend the constitution.

Investors Business Daily wrote of the bewilderment of reporters at Venezuela’s descent into extreme poverty. The New York Times blamed it on “low prices for oil, the country’s main export and a drought.”The Los Angeles Times  said that it’s only “anti-government protesters” who blame Venezuela’s problems on the policies of Maduro. The Associated Press says “the oil boom and bust” is to blame for the crisis. USA Today said that the reason Venezuelans were hunting dogs and pigeons for food was because” Although Venezuela has the world’s largest petroleum reserves, the country has suffered from a combination of lower oil prices and tight limits on dollar purchases… and most imports.” No mention of socialism. None. IBD surmises that it’s largely because liberal journalists are infatuated with the idea of socialism.

Here’s how the AP lovingly described Chavez:

a political outsider promising to upset the old order and funnel some of the country’s enormous oil wealth to the poor. Poverty rates fell sharply during his administration, and many people continue to see him as a beloved Robin Hood figure who gave them houses, free health care, better education and a place at the table in government.”

IBD suggests that that list of accomplishments sounds remarkably like the Democratic Party platform.

Socialism does not work. Never has, never will. Reporters who are unwilling to face up to the facts and the history will always look for something, anything to blame when the socialist idea inevitably fails.



Oh Good Lord, Another March, And Another! by The Elephant's Child

There was a “march” on Saturday, this one for the Climate, just when Energy Department Undersecretary Steven Koonin admitted that in the Obama administration they manipulated the scientific data about the climate to mislead the public. Marches have become so common that I completely missed this one, which was apparently financed by George Soros, all-purpose villain, to the tune of $36 million. But a march for the climate, how perfectly silly. This charming shot is of the aftermath of the march by the folks who care so much about the planet, and recycling, and the pristine outdoors.

Today is May Day, no longer a sweet holiday to celebrate the coming of spring with maypoles and such, but time for another march. You have probably noticed that all these marches are just anti-Trump and have no other real purpose. When May Day became a holiday for socialists and labor union activists, the date was taken over by the Soviet Union and other communist regimes as a propaganda tool, where they could show off their military might and big weapons. Ilya Somin recommends using the day to remind the world of the victims  as a Victims of Communism Day. The one hundredth anniversary of the October Revolution—the Bolshevik takeover of Russia.

The authoritative Black Book of Communism estimates the Soviet victims as a total of 90 to 100 million dead, greater than all the other tyrannies combined. Yet we still have useful idiots who are just sure that Communism is a better system.

The Soviet Union was not the most oppressive communist regime. It probably did not match the even more thoroughgoing totalitarianism of the Khmer Rouge and North Korea. Nor did it kill the most people – a record held by Mao Zedong the Chinese communists. But the Soviet experiment was the principal model for all the later communist states, and it is hard to imagine communists seizing control of so much of the world without it.

So we have thousands of college students who are so ignorant of history that Communism seems quaint, and Bernie Sanders is cute with his great  shock of white hair and lifelong enthusiasm for socialism. Obama opens relations with communist Cuba and all the lefties are anxious to visit and see the charming old cars and crumbling buildings.

We are having a march in Seattle for May Day, workers’ rights,  communism and, of course,  mostly anti-Trump. They carry signs, but they can’t spell or make sense. Tiresome.  In Portland, they are more violent and are breaking windows and setting fires in the street.

Are marches loosing their effectiveness or was there never any effectiveness to begin with? A happy May Day to all, and perhaps we’d better go back to Maypoles and flower baskets and a welcome to Spring.

 



Cutting the Corporate Tax Will Create Growth. That’s A Good Thing! by The Elephant's Child

To quote John Steele Gordon this morning “Only the brain dead could see Trump’s tax plan as a negative for the economy.Newsweek: “Trump’s Proposed Tax Plan Could Cost the Government $6 Trillion.” Why am I not surprised? Democrats simply do not understand economics. Allowing the people to keep more of their own money is simply incomprehensible to your standard run-of-the-mill Lefty.

Under the new rules, an individual making $35,000 each year would be able to remove $15,000 from their taxable income through the deduction, leaving just $20,000 for the government to tax.

On top of these tax cuts, Trump is expected to outline his proposal to lower the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent. And he will seek to reclassify small, individually-owned businesses that currently file their taxes under the individual code so they are under the corporate tax code instead.

Democrats can only think of the 20% of corporate income that would not be taxed and how can the government possibly get along without that corporate money? Leftist hatred for rich corporations is always a mystifying thing. Everything they wear, eat, use and work with is a product of a large corporation, if they are not government bureaucrats they probably work for a large corporation and they indignantly badmouth corporations and seethe at the exorbitant salaries of American CEOs.

For a business, taxes are just a cost of doing business. Those costs are figured into the price of whatever the business produces, and are paid by the taxpayers who buy the products. If taxes go up, so does the cost of the product. If taxes go down, the business has some extra to expand, to innovate, to create, and the economy grows.

It is very simple, but Democrats do not think in those terms. They want a bigger pile of tax money so they can buy more votes to win elections so they can be in charge. Being in charge means giving nice things to the people, to get their votes, and spreading the wealth around, again so they can be in charge. Being in charge is the goal because they can get rid of all the annoying interference in their goal of a more perfect socialist world where everyone lives in peace and harmony in a world saved from the horrors of global warming and capitalism and guns. Or something like that.

They thought they had glimmers of a real move towards the glorious future with Hillary, and this obnoxious blowhard buffoon smashed it all up and they can’t wait to destroy him or impeach him or put him in prison. They still remain sure that if they can just turn over the right rock, they will find the Russian involvement — in something or other. Good Lord, they are predictable.

From The American Thinker by Thomas Lifson: “Trump tax plan goes for growth”

After President Obama’s two terms of anemic economic growth and huge federal deficits, there is a lot of room for growth in the American economy.  Targeting “seed corn taxes” that obstruct investment is the smart way to spike growth rates, which will bring jobs, increase taxes (in the long run), and swing political approval toward the GOP president and Congress.  It worked for Reagan, and it will work for Trump, if a version of the tax plan becomes law.

The White House briefing and one-page description of President Trump’s plan for tax reform issued yesterday contain the bones of an ambitious plan that could indeed jump-start the economy by lowering corporate income and capital gains tax rates, and by repatriating corporate money held overseas to avoid the punitive 35% levy on overseas profits when they are brought home to the USA.

From Economics21: “No, New York Times: Bush’s Tax Cuts Did Not Disappoint”

Basic economics tells us that if you tax something, you’ll get less of it. True, not all tax cuts are created equal. Successful tax reductions are immediate, permanent, broad-based, and (unlike tax rebates) rely on tax rate reductions to encourage working, saving, and investing. Such well-designed tax policies have a clear record of success.

Nobel Laureate Edward Prescott has shown that much of America’s widening economic advantage over other major economies between the 1970s and 1990s can be traced to America’s decision to lower tax rates while other countries raised them.

Harvard economist Martin Feldstein estimates that a dollar increase in taxes costs the economy 76 cents of growth.

Aside from the constant, furious Democrat insistence of being outraged at anything done by President Trump, they are predictable, predictable predictable. And possibly scared to death that he’ll get his tax plan passed.

Thanks to Obama, America’s corporate tax rate is the highest in the world. Growth has been anemic for 8 long years. A significant cut in the corporate tax rate could raise growth to 3% which is getting closer to the long-term norm —which would create jobs and put those folks who have essentially given up at the idea of working back in business. Hope and growth will do a lot for the country, and the American people.

ADDENDUM: Another contrast in media headlines — Wall Street JournalTrump Unveils Broad Tax-Cut Plan.” The New York Times Tax Overhaul Would Aid Wealthiest.” Like I said Predictable!




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