American Elephants


Let’s have a conversation about freedom. by The Elephant's Child

Thomas Sowell wrote a rousing column today, as he usually does.

Most people on the Left are not opposed to freedom.  They are just in favor of all sorts of things that are incompatible with freedom.

Freedom ultimately means the right of other people to do things that you do not approve of.  Nazis were free to be Nazis under Hitler.  It is only when you are able to do things that other people don’t approve that you are free.

One of the most innocent-sounding examples of the Left’s many impositions of its vision on others is the widespread requirement  by schools and by college-admissions committees that students do “community service.”

There are high schools across the country from which you cannot graduate, and colleges where your application for admission will not be accepted, unless you have engaged in activities arbitrarily defined as “community service.”

The arrogance of commandeering young people’s time, instead of leaving them and their parents free to decide for themselves how to use that time, is exceeded only by the arrogance of imposing your own notions as to what is or is not a service to the community.

Working in a homeless shelter is widely regarded as “community service” — as if aiding and abetting vagrancy is necessarily a service, rather than a disservice, to the community.

Obama has mentioned that college kids working in the college library or hashing in a dining room are not considered community service, while dishing up food in a cafeteria for vagrants is.  Explain that one.

According to campaign promises and statements, by 2012, four years from now, over one half of the population will pay no taxes, and be supported by the other half who work.  This is not freedom.

Dr. Sowell goes on:

Supposedly students are to get a sense of compassion or noblesse oblige from serving others.  But this all depends on who defines compassion.  In practice, it means forcing students to undergo a propaganda experience to make them receptive to the Left’s vision of the world.

I am sure those who favor “community service” requirements would understand the principle behind the objections to this if high-school military exercises were required.

Indeed, many of those who promote compulsory “community service” activities are bitterly opposed to even voluntary military training in high schools or colleges, though many other people regard military training as more of a contribution to society than feeding people who refuse to work.

In other words, people on the left want the right to impose their idea of what is good for society on others — a right that they vehemently deny to those whose idea of what is good for society differs from their own.

I think we are in need of an ongoing conversation about what is meant by “freedom”, how we preserve it, and how we lose it.  And how we go about regaining our freedom if it is lost.



Memo to President-elect Barack Obama: by The Elephant's Child

This is delicious.  The federal government, over the past 16 years, has invested billions of dollars in building a fleet of 112,000 alternative-fuel vehicles to serve as a model for the country’s benighted citizens.

It seemed like a good idea, but bureaucratic brilliance has a way of going haywire.  The expensive effort to put more workers into vehicles powered by ethanol and other alternate fuels ran into the minor problem that there were not fuel stations in place to support them. Oops!

“I call it the ‘Field of Dreams” plan.  If you buy them they will come,” said U.S. Postal Service vehicle operations manager Wayne Corey.  “It hasn’t happened.”

Under a mandate from Congress, federal agencies have gradually enlarged their fleets of alternative-fuel vehicles, most of them “flex-fuel,” capable of running on either gasoline or ethanol-base E85 fuel. Many of the vehicles were sent to locations that were hundreds of miles from a flex-fuel station.  Because of this awkward detail, more than 92 percent of the fuel used in the government’s alternative fuel fleet is simply ordinary gasoline.  A 2005 law requires agencies to seek waivers when a vehicle is more than five miles or 15 minutes from an ethanol pump. More paperwork as well.

The newest versions of flex-fuel vehicles often come only with larger engines than the ones that they replaced in the fleet.  So the program has often increased gasoline consumption and emission rates.

Not to mention the little side issues like the climbing cost of food because we are putting food crops in our gas tanks. Or, of course, the hunger strikes in developing countries.  We can look forward to the rules that Congress develops to save the automobile industry.



Fair and Balanced, or something like that! by The Elephant's Child
November 22, 2008, 9:43 pm
Filed under: Environment, Global Warming, Religion, Uncategorized | Tags: ,

Here at American Elephants, we are passionately partisan, but we always want to be aware of the arguments of the other side.  We are determinedly fair and occasionally impartial, or at least we try.  Monica said “the Earth has a fever”, and the Elephant himself responded: “Needs more cowbell.”

(h/t: Tom Nelson)



Everything old is new again. by The Elephant's Child

Pirates have seized a Saudi-owned supertanker leaded with more then $100 million worth of crude oil off the coast of Kenya — the largest ship ever hijacked according to U.S. Navy officials. Somali pirates have become increasingly brazen, but this is the first time they have attacked a fully laden oil tanker. “This is unprecedented” the International Herald Tribune quotes a spokesman for the Fifth Fleet, Lt. Nathan Christensen.  “Its the largest ship that we’ve seen pirated.  It’s three times the size of an aircraft carrier.” The supertanker, the Sirius Star, was hijacked more than 450 nautical miles southeast of Mombasa, Kenya, far to the south of previous attacks.  Pirates range over an area from the Gulf of Aden to the Kenyan coast, more than a million square miles.  Most ships do not have heavy security, while the pirates are fast and well armed.  And most are taken for ransom. Shipping firms are usually prepared to pay, for the sums demanded are still low compared with the value of the ships and their cargo. This seems like a remote crime — piracy in 2008? But the International Chamber of Commerce keeps track of Commercial Crimes.  Here is a map of piracy incidents just in 2008. Once it was the Barbary Coast pirates, but now apparently everything old is new again.



Words fail me, but this is just what I needed on a Monday. by The Elephant's Child
November 17, 2008, 2:40 pm
Filed under: Entertainment, Humor, Movies, Music, Pop Culture, Uncategorized | Tags: ,

(h/t Jonah Goldberg at the Corner)



The sun, the sun. The spots are back. by The Elephant's Child

After a little over two years of a quiet sun and few solar flares, a new-cycle sunspot group has emerged on Halloween, and been seen over a four-day period in early November.

This is good news.  Warmer is actually better than colder.  People are much more susceptible to suffering from cold weather than from heat. Here is the report with moving pictures too.



Congratulations to our new President-elect! by The Elephant's Child

On January 20th of next year, we will have a new president, and I wish him well.  He was not my choice, but he will be my president, and I wish him luck in dealing with the daunting challenges that face us.

We differed sharply on matters of his policies, his associations and his experience.  He will quickly get experience.  We will see who he chooses for his cabinet. We will continue to fight for the policies we believe in.

Please remember that disagreement and arguing are how we arrive at a way forward. That is what the founding fathers intended.  Attempts to silence those who disagree are attempts to destroy the the world’s most durable constitution.  Read The Federalist Papers, and renew your faith in debate, and read the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence while you’re at it.  Our founding documents have served us well.




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