American Elephants

12 Principles for a 21st century conservatism by The Elephant's Child

Jordan Peterson is a professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto in Canada. He also a clinical psychologist, and an important voice in today’s world. He is honest, and has thought deeply about what he says, and he thinks out loud and shares the process with you. His mind is well connected to his mouth, and he talks with his hands as well.

He clarifies the most basic things. Things that no one is making clear in our world as it is today. You will hear the audience burst into applause when they realize just how very basic those things are.

This is a very long video that is really worth your while. It might change your life. It is the answer to the previous video about how Sweden has gone so badly astray.

(The introduction is way too long, you can skip some of it.)


President Trump Refused to Join the Paris Climate Accord. Here’s Why. by The Elephant's Child

Angela Merkel is furious that President Trump refused to join in the Paris Climate Accord. As Roy Spencer PhD admits, it would make no measurable difference. It is Dr. Spencer and Dr. Christie at the University of Alabama at Huntsville who run the satellites and weather balloons that give us our most accurate measurements of climate around the world. Climate science has been dominated by the assertion that the following 5 general points are indisputable. They range from scientific to economic.

1) global warming is occurring, will continue to occur, and will have dangerous consequences

2) the warming is mostly, if not totally, caused by our CO2 emissions

3) there are no benefits to our CO2 emissions, either direct (biological) or indirect (economic)

4) we can reduce our CO2 emissions to a level that we avoid a substantial amount of the expected damage

5) the cost of reducing CO2 emissions is low enough to make it worthwhile (e.g. mandating much more wind, solar, etc.)

For things like the Paris Climate Agreement to make much sense, Spenser says, all five must be essentially true. There is peer reviewed and published analysis in science and economics which would allow one to contest each of the five claims.

A growing volume of evidence undercuts “consensus” science. Already 285 Scientific Papers published in 2017 support a skeptical position on Climate alarm. They cast doubt on the position that anthropogenic CO2 emissions function as the climate’s fundamental control knob, or that otherwise question the efficacy of climate models, or the related “consensus” positions commonly endorsed by policy makers and mainstream media.

Climate science is not settled.

Modern temperatures, sea levels, and extreme weather events are neither unusual nor unprecedented. Many regions of the Earth are cooler now than they have been for most of the last 10,000 years.

Natural factors such as the Sun (84 papers), multi-decadal oceanic-atmospheric oscillations such as the NAO, AMO/PDO, ENSO (31 papers), decadal-scale cloud cover variations, and internal variability in general have exerted a significant influence on weather and climate changes during both the past and present. Detecting a clear anthropogenic forcing signal amidst the noise of unforced natural variability may therefore be difficult.

And current emissions-mitigation policies, especially related to the advocacy for renewables, are often costly, ineffective, and perhaps even harmful to the environment. On the other hand, elevated CO2 and a warmer climate provide unheralded benefits to the biosphere (i.e., a greener planet and enhanced crop yields).

For a list of the papers and links to them, click on this link, and scroll down.

In the United States, despite tens of billions of dollars in government subsidies provided, an EIA report on energy production shows that wind and solar combined provided only 3.2% of U.S. energy in 2016. 90% of 2016 U.S.Energy production was provided by fossil fuels, nuclear and hydro, with rising petroleum and natural gas use while the use of coal has declined.

The mainstream media continues to hype the role of heavily subsidized renewable energy, the reality of energy use continues to be dependent on fossil fuels, nuclear and hydropower energy sources.

EPA Director Scott Pruitt Moves to Rescind the Absurd “Navigable Waters of the United States” Rule by The Elephant's Child

In the picture above, behold the “Navigable Waters of the United States,”absurd, of course. Scott Pruitt, the new director of the EPA, announced Tuesday  that the Trump administration is moving to rescind the Obama administration’s absurd “Waters of the United States” regulatory overreach. The idea, was a massive power-grab by the Obama EPA that gave the federal government effective authority over millions of acres of American farmland and all sorts of other privately owned acreage.

Under the Clean Water Rule,  the EPA was given authority over the “Navigable” Waters of the United States and all “tributaries”  would be regulated by the federal government. Broadly defined, this meant that anything moist that eventually flowed into something that could be defined as a tributary because it eventually flowed into a “navigable river” could be controlled and regulated by the EPA for the federal government.  More than a bit of a stretch.

That put rural America in panic mode. Farmers, ranchers, dairymen and all sorts of rural people recognized what havoc such a rule could cause.

But the American Farm Bureau Foundation warned that a plain-reading of WOTUS meant that federal regulatory control could be asserted over any land surface that had ever experienced rain flow, had been flooded, or had irrigation ditches. Farmers argued that the federal regulatory redefinition could usurp state control of water use for America’s entire 247,417,282 acres used in row-crop cultivation.

The origin of the rule is found in the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, which was expanded with the “Rivers and Harbors Appropriation Act of 1899,” and then the “Clean Water Act of 1972” which aimed to protect America’s public drinking water from contamination. There’s a good example of federal rulemaking and how it can worm its way through agencies and committees.

The proposed rule change will be published in the Federal Register, under Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2017-0203, the public will have a 30-day comment period to “review and revise “the definition of the “Waters of the United States’ Rule.”

This is consistent with the Executive Order signed by President Trump aimed at “Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism and Economic Growth by Reviewing the Waters of the United States’ Rule.”

Here’s What Happened Last Fall at Yale University by The Elephant's Child

I don’t know how closely you have been following the general insanity on campus in this country, the violence, intolerance and suppression of free speech. At Yale this all began with, of all things, Halloween costumes. Do watch the whole 12 minutes of this We the Internet documentary, it’s an important part of understanding what is going on.

It’s the language war again. This time it is “cultural appropriation” —obviously a bad thing to appropriate someone else’s culture—like tacos, or Chicken Vindaloo, or French perfume? German beer?

It’s clearly time to return to “in loco parentis” or “in the place of parents”, which was once the way college faculty and administrators regarded themselves as the teachers and supervisors of a big group of kids who didn’t know very much and were there to learn how to be grown-ups. In those days, these kids would have promptly been sent home to reflect and beg for readmission at some point.

But then the Sixties arrived, and Vietnam protests by kids who were scared to death they would get drafted and were therefore virulently anti-war. Without getting into the morality of the war, kids rioted and scared faculty and administrators to death. They invaded offices, did a lot of damage, and proclaimed themselves adults, and not to be bossed around by a bunch of timid eggheads, or something like that.

And so it was. Colleges once had “hours” times when kids had to be in their dorms. Kids not conforming to the hours got longer hours when they had to be in their dorms, were promptly sent home at any offense for readjustment, and might not get back in until the next semester. It was a big deal. 18 and 19 year-olds knew they were not adults, and didn’t expect to be treated as such. A new survey reveals that Millenials believe that you don’t become an “adult” until age 30.

And the children have been running the institutions ever since. A significant part of the faculty were Vietnam protesters who avoided the draft with educational deferments to get their PhDs, and since faculties take part in new hiring decisions, mostly refused to hire conservatives who went off to war and made it back. What will happen to this generation of children who won’t grow up, who need “safe spaces” to protect them from words they don’t like, and consider it their right to act out when someone says words they don’t like? Who will hire them? Who will support them until they reach the ripe old age of 30? Going to be interesting to say the least.

The Teacher, The School System, The City Council, the Legislature. the Governor and Maybe Even the Courts Will Tell You the Schools Need More Money! It’s All Lies! by The Elephant's Child

What about America’s public education? There are a lot of complaints about K-12 as well. Many hope that Betsy DeVos, the newly confirmed Secretary of Education, can make a big difference in the schools that are failing our most-at-risk children in poor neighborhoods. She is a big proponent of school choice, which allows parents to choose where their child should go to school—something well-to-do parents do quite naturally without realizing that choice is not available to all. One of the great tragedies of the Obama administration was the president’s failure to support the nation’s capitol’s Opportunity Scholarships which have changed the lives of poor kids.

Most ordinary Americans support their community schools, and believe public education to be a good thing. Yet college professors are complaining that their incoming students don’t know anything. There was a small note of cheer this week when I ran across an article that said “Cursive Writing Is Making a Much- Needed Comeback in Schools.” Alabama and Louisiana passed laws in 2016 that mandate cursive proficiency in public schools, the latest in 14 states that require cursive. Fads, unfortunately, pass through the education system destroying everything in their wake. There is a generation out there who never learned cursive skills. They hold a pencil awkwardly, and write in big block letters.

Penmanship proponents say writing words in an unbroken line of swooshing l’s and three-humped m’s is just a faster, easier way of taking notes. Others say students should be able to understand documents written in cursive, such as, say, a letter from Grandma. And still more say it’s just a good life skill to have, especially when it comes to signing your name.

A remarkable amount of dross comes out of the schools of education. When computers arrived on the scene, they decided everyone would communicate with keyboards, and all kids needed was to learn “keyboarding.” You also have to learn how to read other people’s handwriting. I was lucky in that my father and an aunt had the world’s most execrable handwriting possible, and learning to cope with them made me pretty good at deciphering anyone’s scribbles.

The act of handwriting helps to fix the thought in the mind. You learn better if you write it down. That’s why people intuitively write lists, directions, rules and anything they want to remember. The more you write things down the better you will do in the memory department. This is an actual scientific fact. It’s all very nice to have things in 12 to 15 point type in a clear font, but the teeny keyboards you can pull up on your phone are not an improvement on a pencil and a scrap of paper. (If this kind of thing is of interest to you, try to get your hands on the 4 books by Richard Mitchell, beginning with “Less Than Words Can Say” or simply Google “Richard Mitchell underground grammarian,” and you will have access to his works)

“Diversity” is another fad that swept the schools. Children obviously couldn’t learn properly unless the classroom had a wide array of skin tones, ethnicity, countries of origin, language, etc., etc.  That schools were supposed to be about reading, writing and arithmetic, as they used to say, escaped the educators in the education schools. Teachers used to learn how to teach in “Normal Schools.” These were 2-year schools that covered the basics of grammar school. (There was also once a reason why they called it “Grammar” school) By the time kids got to high school, it was a bit more demanding so teachers gradually were required to have a college degree. Departments of Economics, Philosophy, Physics, that sort of thing, were apt to look down on Departments engaged in how to draw the letters of the alphabet on a blackboard, and unimpressed with PhDs in Education, which has made Professors of Education very sensitive, and apt to fall for the latest new thing.

Even more recent is the discovery that many black adolescent boys behave badly in school, and get sent to the principal, sent home or expelled more frequently than white adolescent boys. Obviously racism. And the cure is to just not expel or punish those who misbehave if they are black. If you know anything about kids, this is an invitation for more bad behavior. There is a rash of teachers being attacked in schools across the country. Science says successful students need hours of physical activity every day. They don’t get enough exercise. Boys particularly. But we have to protect children from physical dangers. Did you ever wonder where the teeter-totters went? Or what happened to the swings and the merry-go-round?

Parents trek to the schools for parent-teacher conferences and the teacher tells them how splendidly their kid is doing, and you assume all is well. But you have not learned the basic lesson of the schools. All problems are to be solved with more money. Class size is deemed to be a major problem, if the classes were smaller your kid would get more attention. More money. Even the courts have gotten into the money problem ordering states cough up equally for all districts everywhere. Some of the best schooling I ever had was in a one-room country schoolhouse with a very good teacher, a pump on the front porch, a stove in the classroom and two separate outhouses in the separate back corners of the property. It’s not the money, it’s not the playground (there wasn’t one, just fields) it’s not fancy equipment. It’s a skilled teacher. And the Schools of Education are failing, and it’s not their money either.


The Decline and Fall of America’s Educational Excellence by The Elephant's Child

While the nation’s budget watchers pour, with horror,  over the numbers involved in student loans, it seems that students are spending their student loan money to have a really good spring break fun-in-the-sun trip. Perhaps that is an outgrowth of the Obama administration’s insistence that every young person should go to college. Or on the other hand, perhaps parents just put too much emphasis on what fun they had when they were in college. Unfortunately, Congress keeps upping the amount a student can borrow to go to college which directly results in colleges raising tuition. It’s a cycle that must be ended.

This comes in the wake of the riot at Middlebury. Students at Middlebury College in Vermont decided they could not tolerate opinions that differed from their own. Actually, they were acting on hearsay about the work of distinguished scholar Charles Murray, that came from sources such as the Southern Poverty Law Center, and they had no idea at all about Murray’s work or ideas. The protest resulted in a faculty member hospitalized. Dan Henninger of the Wall Street Journal suggests that this event may be a tipping point, though that is not at all sure. The news from our colleges is not, to say the least, encouraging.

Why are the Millennials Protesting?” asks a piece from Townhall.

As for the self-evident, self-centeredness of many millennials, this is partly the result of their upbringing and environment, as they have grown up in a culture of indulgence, a culture of narcissism, a culture of radical, leftist, campus ideology (which often revolves around “my feelings”), a culture of me-focused social media, which finds its ultimate expression in the selfie.

At Pitzer College, there is a current flap about white girls wearing hoop earrings, something claimed to be cultural appropriation of styles that belong to brown and black people. Who knew?

In response to student and faculty activists, Barnard college will divest from companies that “deny” climate change. They have not yet defined what makes one a denier.

Yet the college will not be divesting from fossil fuels in the traditional sense.

Instead, it will take an approach that no other college has taken before, divesting from companies that “deny climate science or otherwise seek to thwart efforts to mitigate the impact of climate change.”

Oddly enough, I have never heard of anyone who denies that the climate is always changing. It’s a natural process. Since the activity of the sun controls the warming and cooling of the planet, this does not promise to be a major point advancing the value of a Barnard education.

There has always been nonsense going on in our colleges. There was a time when it was as tame as goldfish swallowing and panty raids, but that devolved into the much more serious protests against the Vietnam War, largely because students were terrified of being drafted. Which in turn ended up with a lot of educational deferments by those who believed a PhD would keep them out of the war, and resulted in the leftist takeover of American education. Since professors help to choose the new faculty,  leftists did not endorse those who disagree with them politically. Add on the Frankfort School and you have today’s campus problems, and Leftist indoctrination of students.

The essence of all the protests and outrage at the injustices of the world, the renaming of college buildings that celebrated someone who once approved of slavery, and removal of statuary of unapproved forbears is on display. The kids are often away from home for the first time, and experiencing new things without much knowledge of either the present or the past, and the colleges are flush with moral outrage, which seems to be catching.  Reason sums it all up nicely in an article titled “Moral Outrage is Self-Serving, Say Psychologists.

When people publicly rage about perceived injustices that don’t affect them personally, we tend to assume this expression is rooted in altruism—a “disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others.” But new research suggests that professing such third-party concern—what social scientists refer to as “moral outrage”—is often a function of self-interest, wielded to assuage feelings of personal culpability for societal harms or reinforce (to the self and others) one’s own status as a Very Good Person.

The faculty at Middlebury is trying to back down in the face of the riot the protests developed into. Mizzou has had a distinct decline in enrollment, had to shut down some dorms and had a devastating attack on their funding. There are consequences. Faculty and administrators need to start acting like grownups. Bad behavior should not be tolerated, and if the colleges don’t react, their potential customers may well choose somewhere where bad behavior is not tolerated. There is the overall question of free speech, which is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, not a bunch of adolescent students, but of basic manners and decent behavior.

Education does not involve comfortable wallowing in the same old ideas one brought to the institution. Students are expected to meet startling and surprising new ideas and new approaches to everything. There are no “safe spaces” in life, and empathy and moral outrage are not the path to coming face to face with the real world.
Businessmen are beginning to learn that customers aren’t necessarily in tune with business spouting politics. Organized protests are unneeded. People take their dollars elsewhere. Colleges and universities should be learning the same lesson. Mizzou will not be the only university to find their students gone elsewhere. Parents want their kids to learn, not to be indoctrinated in someone else’s politics.

The Middlebury College Disgrace: Leftism, Ignorance and Hate by The Elephant's Child

Last Thursday. March 2, the distinguished Professor Charles Murray was invited to speak at Middlebury College in Vermont on his most recent book Coming Apart and how it related to the recent election. Plans for protests began to emerge, encouraged by several faculty members. The logic, Dr. Murray says, that “since I am a racist, a white supremacist, a white nationalist, a psuedoscientist whose work has been discredited, a sexist, a eugenicist, and (this is a new one) anti-gay, I did not deserve a platform for my hate speech, and hence it was appropriate to keep me from speaking.”

The lecture hall was filled to capacity, about 400, half of whom had come to hear the lecture, the other half to protest. The protesters had scripts to read from and screamed enthusiastically, but had no idea what they were screaming about. The students got violent, the Political Science professor who had agreed to act as moderator for the Q&A session and ask the first three questions herself, was injured and sent to the hospital.

The New York Times coverage of the incident is here. Largely ill-informed and fake news, they used the Southern Poverty Law Center, described as “left-leaning” rather than far-left (which is more accurate) as an “authority.” The photo shows students reading from their scripts. Here is Dr. Murray’s description of the event from AEI where he is a distinguished scholar. Here is a photo of the lovely Middlebury Campus where the yearly cost for tuition, room and board is a startling $61,046 a year. ($6,000 a month).

My great, great uncle was a Middlebury graduate, probably 1838, though he was ill with typhoid one semester. His room and board cost $2.50 a week in the nicest private homes, and his entire education cost no more than $1,000.

Here’s an interview from Hoover’s “Uncommon Knowledge” series by Peter Robinson, when Charles Murray’s Coming Apart had just come out in 2012. Uncommon Knowledge interviews are long (47 min) but completely fascinating, giving you real insight into the scholar. The book explains how over the last 50 years the culture has changed, and changed dramatically. The Founders said that to preserve the free society they were advocating, Americans must possess certain values: 1. religiosity 2. marriage integrity 3. industriousness and 4. plain honesty.  And we are losing that.  Perhaps for good.  And if we do, we will not be the same country we all have loved.

There must be consequences for the Middlebury students. There is no excuse for such behavior, and such ignorant behavior. How many parents are able or willing to spring for $6,000 a month? How many future employers will look askance at a Middlebury degree? Will parents pull their kids out of school and put them to work? Are there consequences?

I had long looked with a bit of disfavor on Dr. Murray because of his division of people into classes, and I had always believed in an America that was essentially a classless society — yet that is precisely what he is arguing. In Coming Apart. We were essentially a classless society, and we are losing that, and it is unhealthy, and may be beyond redeeming. The protesting students have their arguments essentially backwards. Fascinating arguments. While you can see faint glimmers of where the protesters got their ignorant ideas — they would be far better off to have listened carefully and tried to understand. But our American campuses are no longer places of learning, but devolving into something quite different. And that is a huge loss as well.

ADDENDUM: Here is an essay about the Middlebury contretemps by the editors at National Review. A good piece. ” Charles Murray is used to protests. If he opens a box of Cracker Jack, there is no prize at the bottom, just some Haverford College sophomore calling him a racist. If he were protested any more widely, he’d be the Vietnam War. But, usually he is also permitted to speak, free speech being a two-way street.”

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