American Elephants

Leftists Indulge in Wishful Thinking. We Get to Pay For It! by The Elephant's Child

Remember all the fuss about stem cells? Candidate Obama was going to restore science to its rightful place in the wake of the dreadful Bush administration which was apparently completely unfamiliar with science or the scientific method. Embryonic stem cells, freed from the religious fundamentalism of the Bushies, would cure diseases, allow the lame to walk and provide scientific honors for those who engaged in federally funded embryonic stem cell research, as well as endless riches for those who developed the wondrous new treatments. President Obama quickly lifted the ban that limited federally funded research to existing lines of cells. (Please note, there was no ban on research).

Dr. Bernadine Healy, former director of the National Institutes of Health, was once an embryonic stem cell enthusiast. She now calls such research “obsolete.” Medical-research insiders know that embryonic stem cell technology is proving to be a dead end. Senator Arlen Specter, (D-PA) said the research “has the most remarkable potential of any scientific discovery ever made with respect to human health.” That statement gives an idea of the enthusiasm. Remarkable potential indeed. Real results were another thing.

First of all, there is the rejection problem. Your body naturally fights off foreign cells, even ones that might help. So cell recipients must permanently use imunosuppresive drugs, which are dangerous themselves. Then there is the unpleasant tendency of ES cells to become cancerous or to form teratomas — tumors that can grow larger than a football and contain hair or teeth.

The problem of rejection may someday be solved, but University of Wisconsin scientist James Thomson, who created the first human ES-cell line, says that treatments and cures could be decades away.

Adult stem cells do not have the problem of rejection, for they come from the patient’s own body.  They have treated scores of illnesses including many cancers, autoimmune disease, cardiovascular disease, immunodeficiency disorders, neural degenerative diseases, anemia and other blood disorders.  They have been used in over 2,000 clinical trials.  No uncomfortable moral questions, just cautious, responsible science.

Although it was long thought that only embryonic cells could become pluripotent, researchers in 2006,  led by Dr. Shinya Yamanaka of Japan’s Kyoto University, were able to reprogram human skin cells to behave like embryonic stem cells.

Several states now fund embryonic stem cell research.  Dead broke California  created a $3 billion research effort with their Proposition 7, and other states such as New York, New Jersey and Connecticut also fund the research, which may be a dead end.  Federal funds are flowing.

We’re investing a remarkable amount of money in things that are supported by enthusiasm rather than science.  Liberals have always been utopians,  attached to a romantic view of  policy: ending climate change, stopping the seas from rising, powering the world with the wind and the sun, curing disease and injury with embryonic stem cells.  It’s not going to happen.   But they always want the rest of us to support their flights of fancy with our taxpayer dollars.

And if their romantic policies don’t work?  They cannot  fail, it’s just that they did not appropriate enough money.

Politicizing Everything May Seem Like a Good Idea In the Short Run. In the Long Run, it is a Disgrace. by The Elephant's Child
July 17, 2009, 1:11 am
Filed under: Law, National Security, Politics, Terrorism | Tags: ,


The political assault on the CIA which has been created by the administration and the Democrats in the House of Representatives is disgraceful.  Not long ago the CIA was in the news with Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, accusing the CIA of lying to Congress about the interrogation of al Qaeda detainees.  The CIA promptly pointed out the authorization by Congress, and the dates on which Ms. Pelosi was briefed.

Then came news of a “secret program” which promptly appeared in the pages of the New York Times which seemed to be intended to kill or capture the top leaders of al Qaeda.  You know, the gentlemen now being targeted by Predator drones in Afghanistan.  Now “assassination” has been banned by order since the Ford administration.  This “secret program” was apparently initiated by a presidential order from George Bush in September, 2001, just after 9/11.  The order was to find a way to kill or capture the leaders of al Qaeda.  Which seemed to be what everybody in the United States wanted (except Code Pink of course) in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The assumption was that Democrats were trying to provide cover for Ms. Pelosi’s embarrassment.  Accusing the nation’s top intelligence agency of lying and not briefing Congress is a pretty serious accusation.

CIA Director Leon Panetta instantly leaped into the fray, and “closed down the program”, which had never done anything much but have meetings to try to figure out how to find the leaders of al Qaeda.  It had essentially been shelved several years previously.  But Mr. Panetta wanted to show Congress that he would brook no shilly-shallying, and reported to the House Intelligence Committee, and the Senate Intelligence Committee the same day.  Not a peep has been heard from the Senate, but the House wants everyone to know that the CIA is the problem, not Ms. Pelosi.

Then came the  insinuation that, um, Dick Cheney had told the CIA not to tell Congress.  Attorney General Eric Holder made appropriate noises about an investigation, and possible prosecution, with no legal cause, which clearly had nothing to do with President Obama’s sinking approval ratings or being lectured for 2 hours by Vladimir Putin about the “real” cold war, or the clear failure of the stimulus bill to reduce unemployment which was over 20 percent in Oregon, Michigan and California.

And of course, if “assassination” is forbidden by law, it doesn’t make the slightest difference whether it is done by a sharpshooter in Afghanistan or a Predator ordered up by Obama.  But that can be overridden by a presidential order anyway.

In the meantime, Admiral Dennis Blair, our chief intelligence officer, stepped forward to announce that there was no legal obligation to brief Congress on a program that never came to fruition.

So all the excitement is about a program that never got off the ground, and was shelved ages ago, the secrets of which have already shown up in the New York Times.  But the politics are fascinating, if you can just figure them out.

It’s demoralizing to the CIA, and damaging to our relations with our allies’ intelligence agencies. The name-calling, the threats of prosecution, the constant effort to distract attention by blaming Bush are a disgrace.  President Obama spent his entire campaign complaining that our military was not chasing down Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan; and denigrating the valliant efforts of our military, where they were changing the face of the Middle East by winning a difficult war and bringing the first free elections and tremors of democracy to Iraq.  The politicization of our intelligence community is a danger to our country.

Michael Ramirez’ splendid cartoons are available at IBD Editorials.

Don’t Tell Me You Thought Waxman-Markey Is About Reducing Our Dependence on Foreign Oil! by The Elephant's Child
July 10, 2009, 10:41 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Energy, Environment | Tags: , ,

Representative Steve King  (R. Iowa) is absolutely correct about Waxman-Markey.   Do you recognize just how preposterous is the idea that we can set the earth’s thermostat 100 years from now 2 degrees cooler?  In the last century, it only warmed one degree, and now it’s cooled again.

“Just two weeks ago, the House of Representatives passed the Waxman-Markey climate bill,” Al Gore said….”President Obama has pushed for the passage of the bill in the Senate and attended a G8 summit this week where he agreed to attempt to keep the Earth’s temperature from rising more than 2 degrees C.”

Gore praised the Congressional climate bill, claiming that “it will dramatically increase the prospects for success” in combating the “crisis” of man-made global warming.

“But it is the awareness itself that will drive the change and one of the ways it will drive the change is through global governance and global agreements.” Oh.

Former French President Jacques Chriac said in November, 2000 that the UN’s Kyoto Protocol represented “The first component of an authentic global governance.”

Former EU Environment Minister Margot Wallstrom said: “Kyoto is about the economy, about leveling the playing field for big businesses worldwide.” Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper once dismissed the UN’s Kyoto Protocol as a “socialist scheme.”

“A climate change response must have at its heart a redistribution of wealth and resources,” said Emma Brindal, a climate justice campaigner coordinator for Friends of the Earth.

They keep telling us what they have in mind.  We really should pay attention.

The Secrets of The Waxman-Markey Climate Bill. No Wonder They Didn’t Want Anybody to Actually Read It. by The Elephant's Child
July 2, 2009, 10:17 pm
Filed under: Economy, Energy, Environment | Tags: , ,

Here is the Must Read Article for the weekend, and for the foreseeable future.  Stephen Spruiell and Kevin Williamson have rounded up 50 reasons why the Waxman-Markey climate bill is part government power-grab, part enviro-fantasy, and should be stopped.   You have no idea of the horrors to be found within its many pages, but of course your representatives have no idea either, because nobody read it before they voted to pass it.

Read it, print it out and pass it around.  Take it to a Tea Party.  Inflict it on your relatives.  Discuss it with your friends.  Challenge the Democrats you know.  You can have all sorts of fun with this.

Everything You Need to Know About President Obama’s Cap-and-Trade Plans. by The Elephant's Child

If you are wondering about “cap-and-trade” or “carbon taxes” or “carbon sequestration” or “global warming” or “climate change,” here is all you need to know. [from Steven Milloy’s new book Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them].

There is no scientific evidence indicating that carbon dioxide, much less man-made carbon dioxide emissions, control or even measurably impact global climate.

Global Warming hysteria is based on hypothetical computer models that have never been validated against real world experience.  The fact that many scientists accept the hypotheses does not make them true.  For that matter, many scientists actively dispute those same hypotheses.

When you are confronted with hysteria about climate change, you might remember these four factual sentences.

Education Is Really Important, Except When It Isn’t. by The Elephant's Child
May 5, 2009, 9:42 pm
Filed under: Politics | Tags: ,

Washington D.C. public schools are some of the worst in the country, and the most expensive.  About 1,700 kids currently receive $7,500 vouchers to attend private schools under Congress’ Opportunity Scholarship Program.  99 percent of the children are black or Hispanic.  Scholarships are awarded on the basis of a lottery, and are a huge hit with parents.

The Department of Education’s just released annual evaluation of the D.C. program shows that voucher recipients are reading a half-grade higher than their peers who didn’t get a scholarship.  The program’s earliest recipients are 19 months ahead of their public school peers.

The Obamas have chosen a private school for their daughters, as have 44 percent of Senators and 36 percent of Representatives according to the Heritage Foundation. (Whether these are Congressmen who have children of school age, or all Congressmen is unclear).

New Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was recently asked “how important was the school district in your decision about where to live.” Mr. Duncan responded: “She goes to Arlington [Virginia] public schools.  That was why we chose where we live, it was the determining factor…I didn’t want to try to save the country’s children and our educational system and jeopardize my own children’s education.”

President Obama and his Education Secretary have promised to support “what works.” But of course they have decided to end the D.C. voucher program and send the poor kids back to the schools where they would never send their own children.


President Obama has apparently said that he will request funding to keep the D.C. voucher program’s current recipients in private school through high school graduation.  No new participants. This will be meaningless unless he also promises to veto any appropriations bill that kills the program outright. Congress will not follow his wishes unless he indicates that this is a priority for him. Over 1,000 parents turned out to protest, indicating that it is a priority for them, which is why Obama is possibly backing down.

Creativity is Easy, You Just Order it Up! And Supply Lots and Lots of Money. by The Elephant's Child
May 4, 2009, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Freedom | Tags: , ,

A week ago, President Obama told the National Academy of Sciences in Washington about his vision of a new era of research and inquiry in which “discovery” is a national priority.

Obama cited the space race as an example of what can be accomplished with large infusions of money. If we can go to the moon, the theory goes, then we can do anything.  But this is a flawed vision of creativity.  Apollo was a pretty difficult, but straightforward engineering problem.

Creativity is often portrayed as a lightbulb going off over the head, or a bolt of lightening striking. It isn’t  like that.  All leaps forward are built on the shoulders of others.  Insight consists of bits and pieces of other people’s work that come together with a connective  idea in the creative  person’s mind.  Or not.  And there is much more “not” than breakthrough.  You can’t just order it up.

A National Priority of Investing 3% of GDP

Obama pledged to push public and private investment in research and development in the United States beyond it’s high point in 1964.  It would take $420 billion a year to reach this level.

A paper by Austan Goolsbee, the President’s economic adviser, points out that the majority of R&D spending is actually just salary payments for R&D workers.

[G]overnment R&D spending raises wages significantly, particularly for scientists related to defense such as physicists and aeronautical engineers. Because of the higher wages conventional estimates of the effectiveness of R&D policy may be 30 to 50 percent too high.

Energy Secretary Chu is giving $30 million over five years to two professors at the University of California, Berkeley, for research on cleaning up power plant pollution. Professors Berend Smit and Donald De Paolo will get $2 million and $4 million a year to seek better ways to clean carbon out of the emissions from power plants and natural gas wells and put it underground.

A Naïve Belief In the Power of Government

Liberal faith in the efficacy of government is amazing to behold.  They believe for scientific breakthroughs,  they have only to supply the money and choose the correct scientist.  They believe in bureaucracy and committees, and look with suspicion on the work of a lone individual.

The pharmaceutical industry used to be one of the country’s most innovative and successful, but excessive and erratic government regulation has pushed development costs into the stratosphere, according to the Hoover Institution’s Dr. Henry I. MIller.  It has made outcomes uncertain and slowed approvals to a trickle.

The chemical industry is another favorite target of government regulators. The EPA has designated pheromones — natural chemicals which in small amounts, prevent male insects from locating the females, thus reducing the number of offspring — as pesticides, and requires expensive testing in order to use them commercially.

Carol Browner, environmental czar; Lisa Jackson, EPA administrator; Kathleen Merrigan, deputy secretary of agriculture and  Joshua Sharfstein deputy FDA commissioner are hostile to modern technology and the industries that use it. None of them, according to Dr. Miller, has shown any understanding or appreciation of science.

A Complete Lack of Confidence in the Private Sector

President Obama and Treasury Secretary Geithner recently announced a need to regulate venture capital firms, on the grounds that they pose a risk to the economy.  Huh? Venture capital is focused on new technology in small startup companies.  By giving these firms the startup money to develop their ideas they are providing the engine for innovation, job creation and growth.  More than any other aspect of our economy, venture capital makes us the envy of the world.

Some have suggested that the Obama administration simply lacks understanding of the free market, that venture capital firms seek economic returns that are not aligned with the political objectives of the administration.  Others suggest  that venture capital can create huge fortunes outside of taxable income, which would also be unacceptable to the administration.

If the administration attempts to control decision-making in every industry in which it gets involved, we are in deep trouble.  There are very few individuals capable of running large business enterprises successfully.   It is a rare talent.  Businesses simply want to keep government off their backs, so they can provide jobs and products  and growth for the economy.

Most of the current crisis was caused by government, by too much regulation, by misguided regulation, by ill-conceived regulation.  It will not be improved by more government control.

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