American Elephants


How Do You Deal With A Problem That You Refuse to Recognize? by The Elephant's Child

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One of the British papers remarked recently that people were beginning to refer to themselves as ‘English’ rather than ‘British.’I think that is significant, but I’m not quite sure just what it means. The BREXIT exit is still in a state of uncertainty. PM Theresa May was not in favor of leaving the European Union, but believes that the people have spoken and intends to shepherd the nation’s exit. There’s been a  legal ruling that says she has to get approval from Parliament, but I’m not sure of all that either. Across Europe there is rumbling of populism, but what will happen remains unknown.

In Sweden, sexual assault has increased by 70%. Many are saying that Angela Merkel will not survive another election.  Mark Helprin, writing in the Claremont Review of Books suggests that Europe has constantly shifted between unification and dissolution.

The European Continent and for a time even the British Isles have been partially unified—by the Romans, Charlemagne, Spain, Austria, Louis XIV, Napoleon, Hitler, and the European Union.  Even if it didn’t get very far, the Mongols, Muslims, and Turks gave it the college try, and then there was the papacy. The Romans were champions of endurance, but Napoleon’s stint was as short as he was, the empire of the Thousand Year Reich didn’t make it by 995½ years and the Soviets got only halfway across.

As it evolved from the European Coal and Steel Community into the European Economic Community, and the the Schengenized “E.U. plus,” bureaucracy’s pacific conquest of Europe was different, its weapons the ballot box, rubber stamp , and pen. Furthermore, other than in one civil war, the U.S. had shown that 50 states could unite to great advantage.

Now we have Britain ready to leave the E.U., Scotland and Wales want independence, Belgium and Italy want to break in two and Spain in three parts. Yugoslavia is already is pieces, Hungary may either be expelled or quit. Greece is a complete mess, and Marine Le Pen wants France out, and everybody blames Angela Merkel for inviting the Middle East in.

One need not be hostile to the idea of this union to know the essential flaw in its conception, namely the statist assumption that bureaucratic conceit will prevail over geography, history, tradition and individual attachments, preferences, and loyalties. Greek profligacy and German prudence cannot sleep in the same bed. Good luck to the Frenchman who tells an Englishman how much sugar to put in his tea. Rivers, alpine ranges, marshes, and seas have carved into the landscape physical barriers that for millennia have shaped the economics, histories, and cultures of these disparate nations. Unlike the United States—at its founding English in culture and language, with a pressure-relieving wilderness to the west—Europe as it united was a densely populated grudge-filled continent with scores of major languages and their dialects. Its people had been governed in a hundred different ways , fought countless wars, and inherited dozens of philosophical traditions.

Grand designs don’t work. If government becomes a machine, then everything becomes a machine part. This is where the Left’s dream of addressing human needs with a universal mechanism always fails and fails badly. Humanity cannot be fixed. Human nature may be untidy, but any war against that untidiness is designed to fail.

But the question of the invasion of Europe by Islamist “refugees” can be avoided only so long. As I said, Sweden has had an increase of 70% in sexual assaults. There are No-Go areas everywhere, where even the police are reluctant or refuse to go. Angela Merkel invited the refugees; empathy and kindness were presumed to be the way to welcome them. The hordes have more young men than families, and the young men are of military age. They have been instructed by their religion that European women, as unbelievers, are whores and fair game., and assaults are the rule. Hungary has put up a wall and is refusing to admit refugees. ISIS brags that they have sent their forces to Europe. Many of the refugees refuse to work and expect to be supported.

Refugees seem to be from all over, including Russia and Africa. If the morality you have been taught is empathy and religious freedom, it’s very difficult to turn hostile without feeling like a bad person. Syria is obviously a battleground and unsafe, but Syrian passports are cheap and readily available. Terrorist attacks happen and are deadly. Top that mess off with an unaccountable bureaucracy in Brussels that is not responsive to the fears of the people, and there  you are. What do you do, what do you believe and how do you deal with it? Nobody seems ready to decide, but to just wait and see how things work out.   There will be more terrorist attacks.

Our history is not the same as Europe’s, and our immigrants have mostly wanted to become Americans, learned the language, and in a generation or two become indistinguishable from anyone else. But we have had an administration that refuses to identify terrorism by name. And in his “farewell speech” Obama blithely said that we haven’t had any terrorist attacks here. I’m not sure that that is any less avoidance than Europe’s, and the results of avoidance will be undoubtedly be much the same.

 



The EU Has Mandated E10 Gasoline. The Germans Said No. by The Elephant's Child
April 19, 2011, 4:09 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Europe, Freedom, Junk Science, Statism | Tags: , ,

Gasoline, laced with ethanol and known as E10, is ubiquitous in the United States and the EPA is busily trying to force the country to accept E15.  The Germans, on the other hand, will have none of it.

A  European Union directive requires gas stations to sell fuel with 10 percent ethanol content.  The law regulating the introduction of E10 foresees industry penalties should CO2 targets not be met, so the average tank of gasoline will cost more.

Der Spiegel reports that:

An attempt to introduce the biofuel mixture E10 in Germany has been a disaster, after motorists refused to buy the supposed green gasoline.  Car makers, oil companies and politicians have all tried to blame each other for the mess.  Even environmentalists oppose the new fuel. …

German motorists are to blame for the commercial failure of the supposed green gasoline.  The first attempt by politicians to foist a product that is both expensive and environmentally questionable on consumers has failed.  German Environment Minister Norbert Rottgen, who had earlier argued in favor of the fuel, is now as embarrassed as the petroleum industry and the auto industry. …

Of course, drivers are the ones paying for the setback.  Oil companies, like Aral, Shell, Esso and Jet, have already raised their prices to recoup their additional costs.  According to industry information, the cost of converting refineries and filling stations to E-10 was in the triple-digit millions, while reversing the development is unlikely to be much cheaper.

The article includes all the usual political themes.  Drivers are just uninformed, drivers don’t think wheat belongs in their gas tanks with people starving in many countries, the benefits of E10 were not properly explained, and drivers were uncertain if their cars could cope with E10.  Sounds just like our media, except you probably would never find a source that would say “supposed green gasoline.”

The EU had intended to limit emissions in carmakers’ new models to an average of only 120 grams of CO2 per kilometer. Auto makers were uncertain about promoting the fuel.  Even the German Interior Ministry instructed its employees not to fill up their official vehicles with biofuel until further notice.  Auto makers have backed off, have been slow to issue a liability promise for E10 damage.  Motorists are required to show that E10 damaged their engine, a major hurdle.

The car industry blames the oil industry, which has not done a big advertising campaign. The oil companies have little interest in biofuels, beyond doing the bare minimum needed to satisfy the requirement.

Greenpeace says increasing the ethanol content of gasoline is not a sensible climate or environmental protection measure.  BUND (Friends of the Earth) calls the measure ineffective. The London-based Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) and nine other European environmental organizations funded a study that found that  the environmental record of fuel from renewable resources is not positive, but negative. Biofuel, they reported, is “more harmful” to the climate than the fossil fuels it is supposed to replace.

About 27,000 square miles of forest, pasture and wetlands would have to be cultivated as farmland to satisfy the future demand for biofuel in Europe alone, or an area twice the size of Belgium. Corn grown for ethanol is replacing potatoes, raw materials for beer, and food prices are rising. Farmers like higher prices, subsidies confuse the situation, the EU changes its mind and admits that it is wrong about as often as the EPA. In the meantime, can you buy plain old gasoline anywhere here?



The European Union, Not Having Enough to Do, Takes On the Father of the Bride! by The Elephant's Child
May 25, 2010, 8:09 pm
Filed under: Europe, Freedom, United Kingdom | Tags: , ,

David Pryce-Jones, a senior editor at National Review wrote yesterday:

I spent the week-end celebrating a wedding. The bride and bridegroom made a fine couple. The church was very old, with a magnificent Norman arch and medieval wall decorations. Afterwards we repaired to a nearby great house built in the seventeenth century of beautiful grey stone, with a chapel of its own, mullion windows, statues, a vast lawn and gardens which I in my ignorance only then learnt are famous. Everything was perfect, in other words, here was a traditional moment of the kind that has made England what it is, and formed the loyalty of its daughters and sons.

In the course of his speech in her honour, the father of the bride then informed the audience that the European Union has passed a Gender Equality Bill. One provision of this preposterous and impudent measure is that fathers are no longer allowed to give away their daughters in the traditional church ceremony.

Greece is in flames, the Germans close to rebellion, and the entire European Union on the brink of breaking apart with some nations bankrupt beyond help, and the future of the euro is in doubt.  So, of course with everything seemingly falling apart, the bureaucrats in Brussels have decided to prohibit fathers from giving away their daughters in marriage as they have done for centuries.  The bureaucrats have decided that the custom treats daughters as chattel.

Sometimes the real world is so ludicrous that it wouldn’t be believed if it were fiction.



Just a little war far, far away, or… by The Elephant's Child

The crisis in far off Georgia is worrying. Georgia, a former Soviet state, if you look at a map, sits just outside the bear’s den, right on Russia’s border. South Ossetia, a breakaway province of Georgia, wanted to become independent. Georgia reasserted her authority. Russia, massing on the border in the role of “peacekeeper” crossed the border with an additional 10.000 soldiers, and many tanks into South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Russian aircraft bombed a military airfield near Tbilisi. Russia also sent ships to the coast of the Black Sea with reinforcements.

Reports say that Russia attacked not only targets in South Ossetia, but also targeted the major Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) gas and oil pipeline. The pipeline, in which British Petroleum is the lead partner, is important strategically, for it is the only outlet for countries in the region to get their oil to the international market without relying on Russia.

Russia has been what can be charitably described as a bully with their oil and gas, which supplies over a quarter of Europe’s needs. A gas pipeline called the South Caucasus pipeline is being built next to the oil pipeline. It is important to all the states in the region, including Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan. Russia has steadfastly opposed its construction.

Another part of the story has been Georgia’s desire to join NATO, and seek protection from the West. NATO’s refusal to date suggests weakness to the Russians, who keep track of that sort of thing.

Russia has not made much of a secret at her anger over the dissolution of the Soviet Union and loss of Superpower status. With oil funds flowing into a now state-controlled oil industry, the West must take notice. It is reported that Russia has just nationalized half of its wheat crop.

The European Union made bland protests, apparently shocked, shocked, that Russia didn’t realize that we had entered a new era when we solved problems by talking. The United Nations did what they do best, they had a meeting.

John McCain said that “Tensions and hostilities between Georgians and Ossetians are in no way justification for Russian troops crossing an internationally recognized border.” He also called on “Russia to immediately and unconditionally withdraw its forces from the territory of Georgia.”

Barack Obama called for “talks among all sides and said the United States, the UN. Security Council and other parties should try to help bring about a peaceful resolution.” Obama looked forward to an international peacekeeping force under an appropriate UN mandate.” Appropriately wimpy.

Georgia has pulled out of South Ossetia. Russia is in control. Georgia has ordered a cease fire and called for talks. A little war. Lots of dead.

Do you suppose that these events will arouse a slumbering Europe into a realization of the true nature of the world, or will they go on dreaming of a world without conflict? Of armies that are unneeded and unfunded?

Will Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid understand that drilling for our own oil is also a national security issue? That the Strategic Reserve is a – strategic – reserve. Or will they go on making up stories about greedy oil companies, evil speculators, and threatened species (that are multiplying nicely) and, oh yes, the need to save the planet, rising seas, disastrous storms and droughts and all those other mythical results from a one degree warming that stopped ten years ago.

Well, no, probably not.



The way things work across the pond… by The Elephant's Child

Sometimes you run across an article that subtly explains how things work. In Europe there have been marches and speeches about the evils of “Frankenfoods” a name bestowed by Greenpeace on genetically engineered seed. Mother Nature has been genetically engineering food for centuries, but when food scientists learn how to make some crops more resistant to their most troublesome pests, it supposedly gets “scary”.

If you have ever been to the museum at Mesa Verde, you can see tiny ears of corn found in the storerooms of the cliff dwellings, only 2″ to 3″ long, and marvel at how Mother Nature turned them into our modern corn.

The population of the earth is expected to rise until 2050 and then begin declining. The industrialized nations of the West mostly have declining birthrates — that is less than the 2.1 babies per mother that makes a stable population. This increasing population is going to require more food. To produce more food on the same amount of farmland, we are going to have to increase yield — unless we want to turn more forest land into farm fields.

Now European farmers have had a chance to grow genetically modified corn crops, and they are getting higher yields and more revenue than conventional growers. “Scientists from the Joint Research Centre, the EU Commission’s scientific body surveyed more than 400 Spanish farmers who grew Bt maize — the only GM crop allowed for cultivation in the EU.” This is the first time scientists have looked into the impact of GM foods in Europe.

There are real economic advantages for farmers since their crops are not destroyed by pests. EU Commission President Jose Barroso wants to remove regulatory obstacles to counter rising food prices. Nicolas Sarkozy, who will take over the presidency tomorrow, calls for more controls. Environmental groups, of course, attack the GM industry for exploiting the global food crisis in order to win EU approval for their products.

This is how things work in the European Union.



Hooray for the Irish! by The Elephant's Child

Let’s hear a cheer for the Irish! We dance an Irish jig! We thunder on our bohdran! The Treaty of Lisbon, which we have written about before, is intended to be a new constitution for the European Union. The Constitution was turned down earlier by the French and the Dutch. Well! EU Bureaucrats were offended, and to prevent a replay of such rejection, the bureaucrats turned the constitution into a treaty, so that no one would have to bother their little heads about anything so unnecessary as an actual vote. Subject governments quickly approved the “treaty” except for the Irish where the people were guaranteed a vote, by law. Today the Irish rejected the treaty.

This is an American view of something that is admittedly, none of my business. But, to an American mind, giving up your national sovereignty to an unelected, unaccountable bureaucracy should at least be put to a vote.

The French minister for European affairs told LCI television that “The most important thing is that the ratification process must continue in the other countries and then we shall see with the Irish what type of legal arrangement could be found”. So there. Andrew Duff, British MEP said ” I think the Irish prime minister, Brian Cowen, will have to explain himself at the summit.” The New York Times quotes French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner saying: “It would be very, very troubling that we would not be able to count on the Irish who counted a lot on Europe’s money.”

The striking economic growth of Ireland’s economy was due, not to EU subsidies, but to radical tax cuts and deregulation which have boosted the Irish to genuine prosperity. That the Irish might not want to subject their economy to the vast corrupt bureaucracy of the EU. seems more a matter of common sense than rebellion.




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