American Elephants


Sometime it’s What You Don’t Know That Really Hurts! by The Elephant's Child

shockedbaldeagleA splendid essay by Angelo Codevilla in the Fall Claremont Review of Books on “The Rise of Political Correctness” points out that :

Every form of progressivism bases itself on the claim of a special “scientific,” knowledge of what is wrong with humanity and how to fix it. The formula is straightforward: the world is not as it should be because society’s basic “structural” feature is ordered badly. Everything else is “superstructure” meaning that it merely reflects society’s fundamental feature “For Marx and his followers that feature is conflict over the means of production in “present day society.” From the dawn of time, this class warfare has led to “contradictions”: between types of work, town and country, oppressors or oppressed, and so on. The proletariat’s victory in that conflict will establish a new reality by crushing all contradictions out of existence. Other branches of progressivism point to a different structural problem. For Freudians it’s sexual maladjustment, for followers of Rousseau it’s social constraint, for positivists it is the insufficient application of scientific method, for others it is oppression of one race by another. Once control of society passes exclusively into the hands of the proper set of progressives, each sect’s contradictions must disappear as the basic structural program is straightened out.

At the Democrat convention before Obama won his first election, Michelle Obama spoke of her husband’s speech about how “the world as it is just won’t do” and “the world as it should be,”and how much that inspired her.

The Left just doesn’t like the world as it is, and it doesn’t like human nature—which they believe must be “fixed.” This is a remarkable idea, for human nature is by definition not “fixable”. Human nature refers to the general psychological characteristics, feelings and behavioral traits of humankind regarded as shared by all humans. What the Left really means—is “fixing”     those who have the nerve to disagree. You have probably noticed the absurd response to the election of Donald Trump instead of Hillary.

At our colleges and universities, there is a drive to “fix” history, by removing statues, changing names of buildings or programs, hiding the real history so no one will be offended by people living a couple of hundred years ago who owned slaves, or thought slavery was normal, without any understanding whatsoever that history is what happened. We have not yet managed to invent time travel. and you cannot change the past. In an era when the meaning of words is changed, people can change their gender to however they identify at the moment, religion becomes an enemy to be eliminated rather than a solace. Family is an outdated form, one’s personal plumbing and where to use it is merely a matter of preference rather than a rule or a custom.

The Left is wants a world where everybody is equal, and to move towards that goal they believe that you must tax those who are rich or have too much and give to those who do not have enough. That is their vision of economics. You will notice that how new money is  created doesn’t seem to be in the mix. When they are fully in control of the reins of government, they believe that new ideas will come from those enlightened people in government. Oddly, they are deeply opposed to businessmen (or businesswomen) as oppressors of the workers, and insist on issuing more and more regulations to control the actions of business. They don’t like the free market, and don’t grasp the idea of the wisdom of the people and their free transactions in a free market as a source of innovation, wealth, and new ideas. They despise CEOs of large corporations. Those who serve in a proper Leftist government are the enlightened who control and regulate the rest.

They simply cannot comprehend that an increase in the minimum wage for beginning workers is an unemployment program for the least accomplished or rawest beginners. If you explain that McDonalds has announced their plan to install self serve kiosks across the country, they are indignant that a business would do such a thing. They cannot understand that lowering or removing corporate taxes is good for the economy because corporations don’t pay taxes. Taxes are simply a cost of doing business for a corporation, and it is the customers (you and me) who pay for it. When you don’t understand the basic rules of economics, you keep messing up, and the citizens are the ones who get hurt. What if it turns out that Trump is a good president? What will the Left do then?



Dr. Ben Carson Has Been Appointed to Head HUD by The Elephant's Child

635796540008804109-xxx-ben-carson-32President-elect Donald Trump has announced the appointment of Dr, Ben Carson to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Senate Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi gravitated to the nearest microphone to announce that the choice of Ben Carson to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development was “a disconcerting and disturbingly unqualified choice.”  In the statement she released she said “there is no evidence that Dr. Carson brings the necessary credentials to hold a position with such immense responsibilities and impact on families and communities across  America. ”

I really had to laugh. HUD is especially concerned with poor inner-city neighborhoods, and the problems involved, and under the current administration, an attempt to reach a leftist ideal of proper diversity by moving poor inner-city residents into middle class and upper class neighborhoods, which they attempt to accomplish by threats to cut off federal funding. To quote from Dr. Carson:

I grew up in a neighborhood most Americans were told never to drive through. I saw bullets, drugs and death in the same places I played tag and ball with my friends. Both of my older cousins died on the streets where I lived. I thought that was my destiny.

But my mother didn’t. She changed all of that.She saved my brother and me from being killed on those streets with nothing but a library card.

My mother knew what the problems were and she shielded me and my brother from them. I can tell you that she wasn’t worried about Socialist senators from tiny rural states. “Black Lives Matter” could learn from her to focus on the real sources of our hopelessness.

Ben Carson didn’t pontificate about the plight of inner-city blacks, he lived it. Can’t deal with  immense responsibility? Try separating conjoined babies joined at the head. Management skills? Try managing a large group of physicians. What a splendid idea to enlist someone who knows the problems from the inside instead of just following the standard party line.

He’ll do fine, and may even accomplish something truly important.



Sometimes a Picture Speaks More Loudly than Words by The Elephant's Child

piepline-protest

The Standing Rock Sioux, a tribe of about 10,000, are leading the protests against the Dakota Access pipeline, which they claim could pollute the Missouri River, the tribe’s main source of drinking water, and harm cultural lands and tribal burial grounds.

The tribe is working with the environmental group Earthjustice and has filed suit against the Army Corps of Engineers, claiming the government didn’t properly consult them before approving the section of pipeline that runs near the reservation.

Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the pipeline, says it has followed state and federal rules, met with Native American tribes, and proposed different versions of the pipeline route. The pipeline is 92 percent complete, only the small portion near the reservation is being contested. The pipeline does not enter the Standing Rock reservation.

Aseem Prakash, director of the Center for Environmental Politics at the University of Washington contends that the conflict reflects deeper-seated grievances of Native Americans. Years of injustices and their preferences not adequately taken into account. The pipeline goes through private land, not the reservation, but the tribe contends the land was acquired improperly and actually belongs to them by the terms of a 1851 treaty with the US government.

North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple ordered a mandatory evacuation of protesters. A group of military veterans have said they will join the tribes’ protest. CNN says ‘hundreds’ of veterans, but that’s CNN. There’s apparently a lot of fossil-fuel hatred in the mix as well. You can tell how deeply serious it all is by the fact that Jane Fonda and someone named Shailene Woodley turned up to serve Thanksgiving dinner to the protesters.

President Obama, who had approved the pipeline, reneged and halted it. The Army Corps of Engineers who had approved the pipeline reneged, and said they would have to reroute it, and that’s where it is at the moment. The map above, though humorous, clearly indicates the absurdity of the whole thing. Donald Trump is probably not up to either being fearful of fossil fuels, nor particularly sensitive to Native American angst about an 1851 Treaty that they’ve decided was unfair.

If the oil cannot be transported safely by a pipeline, it will be transported unsafely by train or truck.



Sharyl Attkisson On Truth and Integrity by The Elephant's Child



Can You Trust “Big Data?” Not Really, Nor Little Data Either. by The Elephant's Child

big-data-skills-in-demand-are-a-mix-of-old-and-new-v21You have a computer by which you can visit this blog. So tell me, how do you get your news? The younger Millennials seem to get theirs from Facebook and Twitter and other social sites. Democrats rely on reliably Progressive websites, and Republicans assume from that bit of information that Democrats are unfamiliar with any websites that disagree with their conclusions.

Do you depend on “name” websites that you trust because everybody else seems to list them? Do you pay attention to a lot of individual bloggers (well, you’re here, so possibly you do.) What I’m getting at is who can you believe and who do you trust? What got me off on that theme was an article from February 22 of this year about “Big Data” in the Wall Street Journal, by Michael Malone. If the link doesn’t work, Google it, and do read the comments.

I wasn’t quite sure what “Big Data” was, compared to—little Data, so I looked it up. Merriam Webster: data: 1. factual information (as measurements or statistics) used as a basis for reasoning or calculation. 2. information output by a sensing device or organ that includes both useful and irrelevant or redundant information and must be processed to be meaningful. 3. information in numerical form that can be digitally transmitted or processed. That is, perhaps, helpful, but not exactly confidence building.

Hillary Clinton’s ‘Invisible Guiding Hand‘ had a statistician behind every strategic decision named Elan Kriegel.”To understand Kriegel’s role is to understand how Clinton has run her campaign—precise and efficient, meticulous and effective, and, yes, at times more mathematical than inspirational. Clinton advisers say almost no major decision is made…without first consulting Kriegel. ” That worked out well. But is perhaps a clue to Hillary’s uninspiring campaign.

At Maggie’s Farm, one of the group of authors had an article last year that I saved titled “Are We Overly Reliant on Data?” And his reflections on daring to ask the question.

A USAToday headline from September: The “VA quit sending performance data to national health quality site.” Saw an article today about a veteran who was unable to get the care he needed when a wound was full of maggots in a VA Hospital, and shortly died of sepsis.

From Climate Depot: “Italian meteorologist Colonel Paolo Ernan: Data manipulated to make people believe in global warming.” Well, yes.  It has long been apparent that alarm about global warming exists only in the computer programs devised to emulate the real climate of the Earth. They put into their programs what we know about climate, what we think we know, what they thought was likely and lots of pure guesswork. We know a little about El Nino and La Nina, for example, but we don’t know or understand much of anything about the actions of clouds. And if you want to know what is going to happen in 50 years, you’ll have to wait for 50 years to find out if you were right.

Holman Jenkins, writing in the Wall Street Journal at the end of August, 2014, “Big Data and Chicago’s Traffic-cam Scandal.”

Big data techniques are new in the world. It will take time to know how to feel about them and whether and how they should be legally corralled. For sheer inanity, though, there’s no beating a recent White House report quivering about the alleged menace of “digital redlining,” or the use of big-data marketing tactics in ways that supposedly disadvantage minority groups.

This alarm rests on an extravagant misunderstanding. Redlining was a crude method banks used to avoid losses in bad neighborhoods even at the cost of missing some profitable transactions—exactly the inefficiency big data is meant to improve upon. Failing to lure an eligible customer into a sale, after all, is hardly the goal of any business.

The real danger of the new technologies lies elsewhere, which the White House slightly touches upon in some of its fretting about police surveillance. The danger is microscopic regulation of our daily activities that we will invite on ourselves through the democratic process.

It seems that when you hear the term “The data tells us…” a caution flag should rise. You need to investigate a lot further. But everyone is relying on data, especially ‘big data.’ Hillary did, and is paying the price.  Her team pretty much shut Bill out. Bill certainly has some major problems with, um, integrity, but he has always had excellent political instincts. On the other hand, Hillary does not have any. But there you go, water under the bridge.

Who can you trust? Not much of anybody. Whatever it is, check it out. Governments at all levels are too ready to rely on what they are told is authoritative. We are all too dependent on our computers, but they are changing our world, and our dependence is making us more vulnerable.

ADDENDUM: Rereading this, I’m not at all sure I made myself clear. I am not railing at data. It is simply a fact of life, and as we use our computers, our choices and comments and what we just looked at becomes data. The search engines on which we rely for information— rely on us for information they can sell to marketers. If you drop by Amazon, as I did, find that they are having a sale on bras, you will be followed around the internet with a choice selection of what you looked at, all day.   As algorithms develop and refine searches, they will only get more intrusive. And we need good data, yet there is always the danger of over-dependence. Our only defense is a highly-developed common sense.

The case of computerized climate science is important. Climate alarmism, the belief that Earth is in danger, that the climate is changing and we have to save mankind has always been completely phony, but there are millions of true believers. The climate has been changing for millions of years. There are warm periods and ice ages. When the thermometers that the computer programs depend on for their data are situated next to air-conditioner vents or where acres of concrete reflect heat onto them, or they back up to a trash burner, the data is not going to be good. Ice cores help to tell about the past, tree rings are not so infallible.Satellite records are excellent, but don’t stretch far into the past.The rise of the oceans is measured in millimeters, not feet and in spite of Michael Mann’s claim that we’ll all be in trouble if the CO2 gets above 350 ppm,  greenhouses happily pump in 1,000 ppm to help their plants grow —you know there is something haywire about their data. Yet because the data is politically popular and governments act upon it, it becomes dangerous.



Donald Trump’s New Social Contract and Industrial Policy by The Elephant's Child

Donald Trump, president and chief executive of Trump Organization Inc. and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, stands for a photograph after a Bloomberg Television interview at his campaign headquarters in Trump Tower in New York, U.S., on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015. According to Trump, Janet Yellen's decision to delay hiking interest rates is motivated by politics. Photographer: John Taggart/Bloomberg via Getty Images *** Local Capton *** Donald Trump

Editor in chief of American Thinker Thomas Lifson has two important articles today, explaining Donald Trump’s Carrier deal. There has been much angst about the jobs saved at Carrier in the wake of tax incentives from the State of Indiana, because there are still a significant number of jobs going to Mexico. We misunderstand what Trump is doing, Lifson says, and explains what the President-elect has in mind. Do read both pieces, they really are important. What Trump intends:

He has announced that, reigning globalist economic theory to the contrary notwithstanding, the United States must maintain a manufacturing sector. The shift of manufacturing to low wage countries is not a law of nature, not an inevitability, and not a path that America will take in the future. We cannot abandon the regions of our country that have devoted themselves to manufacturing.  He has not mentioned the national security dimension of such a policy, but it is obvious to all but a few theorists that you cannot maintain a strong nation if you depend on others to do your manufacturing.

The combination of information technology, robotics, new materials, and many other advances (including management advances such as lean manufacturing and continuous improvement organizational disciplines) has squeezed low value labor out of manufacturing.  Global companies that locate within their most important market are able to create serious competitive advantages over companies assembling products in low wage companies through flexibility and rapid response time.

The second of the two companion pieces is “The Key to Trump’s Carrier deal: Next-generation manufacturing.” Do read both articles. There is a lot of important insight here.

Progressives are confident of their own knowledge and expertise, and feel completely confident in their ability to issue rules and regulations (backed up with enormous penalties to make sure you understand their importance) so that you will run your business in a way that the progressives find more agreeable. When I was looking for a new car last year, I learned the extent to which automobile design and performance has been changed and controlled by the EPA’s fuel efficiency standards. More aluminum, more substitution of light things for heavy things. One dealer said the outside mirrors would go soon because of that. Some have said that higher highway fatalities are probably due to the Fuel efficiency standards.

The addition of ethanol to gasoline, deadly for small engines like lawn mowers and appliances, has been shown to accomplish nothing in the prevention of greenhouse gases, and was a deal with the corn lobby to get enough votes to pass the 1990 Clean Air Act. Useless, but a highly expensive boondoggle that affected far more things than the amount of CO2 in car exhaust.

The federal demand to show calorie numbers for fast food on signs and menus has been shown to be completely ineffective because people don’t care. They know fast food is more caloric than an ordinary meal, but they want it because it’s fast and tasty. For the industry, the costs are enormous, but federal regulators are not interested in that. Ditto the drive for a $15 minimum wage, which is simply an unemployment program for the beginning or unskilled worker. McDonalds is already committed to a nationwide program of installing computer kiosks to replace workers.

The EPA is probably the biggest offender. Their ideas about what is environmentally friendly are weak on science and heavy on agency power and control. It’s an agency of zealots, and should be abolished. That may not happen, but their power will be cut back. Myron Ebell will be a terrific advisor on the EPA and it’s overreach.



Here’s the Incoming Cabinet So Far by The Elephant's Child

Feb. 2, 2010

Courtesy of Jim Geraghty at National Review, here’s a list of the incoming cabinet so far: It’s a pretty impressive group!

Attorney General: Senator Jeff Sessions.

Secretary of Defense: General James Mattis

Secretary of Health and Human Services: Representative Tom Price

Secretary of Transportation: Former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao

Secretary of Education: Philanthropist Betsy DeVos

Treasury Secretary: Banker Steven Mnunchin

Secretary of Commerce: Financier Wilbur Ross

Deputy secretary of Commerce: Todd Rickets, co-owner of Chicago Cubs

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development: Dr. Ben Carson

Ambassador to the United Nations: Governor Nikki Haley

White House Chief of Staff: House RNC Chairman Reince Priebus

National Security Advisor: Former Defense Intelligence Agency director Michal Flynn

Deputy National Security Advisor: K.T. McFarland. Fox News Analyst who served in the Reagan Administration.

Department of Homeland Security: Marine General John Kelly (Ret) Former head of Southern Command, with special concern for Mexican border, and Gitmo.

CIA Director: Representative Mike Pompeo.

EPA Director: Oklahoma Attorney General, Republican Scott Pruitt

Administrator Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services: Indiana health-policy consultant Seema Verma

White House counsel: Donald McGahn partner at Jones Day who served as campaign counsel.McGahn is a former chairman of the Federal Election Commission.

Marine General James Mattis will need a waiver from Congress, as he has only been retired for three years, and the law specifies military officers must be retired for seven years. General George Marshall required such a waiver, which was promptly given, as will be the waiver for General Mattis.

Senator Kirsten Gillebrand, who replaced Hillary in the Senate, and reportedly has presidential ambitions, says she will oppose General Mattis’ appointment. I guess she will take advantage of any opportunity to get attention. You’ve probably noticed that Democrats are really having a hard time accepting the new reality.




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