American Elephants


Are We Getting Dumber? Or Does It Just Seem That Way? by The Elephant's Child

I just questioned (online) the vaguely remembered claim that most Americans cannot name the three branches of government. It was supposedly only 26% who could not name them, then it got turned around to 75% of Americans could not, and just 26 percent who could, and only 33% who could name a single branch. Well, that’s informative. No wonder President Trump speaks of “Fake News.”

It’s clear that people don’t know how to think about the climate. Popular thinking runs somewhere from total panic because the earth is ending in just 5 years, to this article I ran across today: “A Relatively Painless Guide to Cutting Plastic Out of Your Life.”

Last year may have been the beginning of the end for plastic. It may have taken a while for the average person to wake up to its dangers, but many were shaken into action by the images and videos of plastic’s impact on the natural world that flooded the media in 2018.

A viral video showed a turtle with a straw stuck up its nose. Stories about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch revealed how island-sized trash mounds had collected in the ocean between Hawaii and California. And then there was that National Geographic cover of a plastic bag floating in the water, beneath the scrawled words “Planet or Plastic?” The issue publicized a remarkable statistic: Despite the world’s efforts to recycle, 91 percent ends up in the trash.

What, you are telling me that we have these huge, expensive recycling programs, and they don’t work at all? Not to worry, the plastic in the oceans apparently comes from China, which is actually worrisome. The United States has done a remarkable job of reducing noxious emissions — more than any other country.

This is from SEPP’s weekly newsletter (Science and Environmental Policy Project’ free newsletter)

Appropriate Models: Mathematics is the language of science, but that does not mean that mathematical models correctly describe physical phenomena. Or that a mathematical process in a model used in analyzing physical evidence (data) from observations and / or experiments suitable for one phenomenon is suitable for other phenomena. The model may or may not describe the subject phenomenon. That is one reason why Richard Feynman stated that hypotheses (guesses) must be tested against all relevant data. Experimental data is preferred because other possible influences are controlled to the extent possible, but observational data may be necessary.

Benny Avni writes in the New York Sun that as America’s Democratic Presidential Candidates promote programs borrowed from Europe’s traditional left, Europeans are increasingly pushing back against them. Angela Merkel was blamed for dragging Germany’s Christian Democratic Party too far to the left. France’s National Rally Party beat President Macron’s centrist faction. In Poland, Hungary and Italy, politicians of various right-wing parties are now in power, and anti-leftist parties are on the rise. In Canada, Prime Minister Trudeau is struggling to stay in power after his Liberal party suffered parliamentary seat losses. Lot of Politics out there.

I got my hair cut yesterday, and picked up a copy of the old familiar Readers Digest  in the waiting room. No longer a big thick magazine, it had dieted down to maybe a quarter of an inch thick. Magazines and newspapers are clearly dying. I’m more concerned about the dumbing-down of society. I suspect that the online opinions flashing across computer screens suggest that people don’t read anything of length. Some websites are suggesting, beside their stories, that it is  only a 4 minute, or 6 minute read, to encourage those who have a tiny bit of time to pause long enough for their story. Reminds me to be brief and get to the point. But it suggests that we are becoming more superficial, less informed, and more open to bad information. What do you think?



What is a Fact? Who Says So? Do We Need Fact Checkers? Who Checks Them? by The Elephant's Child

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We seem to be living in a world where nothing is quite the same as it is supposed to be. Ulterior motives, political beliefs, political goals, our view of the world, our understanding of right and wrong, good and evil, true and false. Our news media is failing in its assigned task of informing the public about what is going on, to such an extent that the President of the United States is reduced to calling them “fake news”, and unfortunately, he is correct. They speak and write from a partisan viewpoint.

Susan Crockford is a zoologist who is the world’s greatest expert on polar bears. I posted her State of the Polar Bear Report for 2017 in March last year. Now we find that this accomplished scientist has been stripped of her Adjunct  Professor role by Canada’s  University of Victoria. The problem?
She promotes facts and doesn’t go along with climate activism. When the matter was last considered, the committee voted unanimously in her favour. What changed? Talks she was invited to give to schools in which she probably assured the kids that “the polar bears were just fine and thriving“ generated concern among parents regarding balance.” That concern was “shared with various levels of the university,” according to an April 2017 e-mail from Ann Stahl, then chair of the Anthropology Department.

These vague accusations, leveled by an unknown number of unknown individuals who may or may not have been garden variety climate activists, were first used to expel Crockford from the UVic Speakers Bureau. They then became the impetus to expel her from the UVic academic community altogether. Climate activists come in several guises. Some have become convinced that the climate crisis is a real thing, and we have to do something or the earth is going to end in just a few short years. That’s Greta Thunberg, 16 year-old from Sweden, who just missed getting a Nobel Peace Prize, because someone who actually did something about world peace received it instead.

On the other hand, you have Christiana Figueres, who was
executive secretary of the United Nation’s Framework Convention on Climate Change who admitted that the goal of environmental activists is not to save the world from ecological calamity—but to destroy capitalism. She said, in early February 2015 in Brussels:

This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution.

Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) announced that she was entering the 2020 presidential race, during a snowstorm, because it is a known fact that “climate change is happening.” Well yes, dumb statement. The climate has been changing for millions of years, that does not make it an emergency.

The “Justice Democrats” announced the “Green New Deal” back in March. It is an ignorant pack of lies which some people having not done their homework of studying up, belieeeeved. And it’s still going on. Jane Fonda, as always on the wrong side of an issue, got herself arrested in a DC Climate Protest, claiming that she had been a “climate scientist” for years. Elizabeth Warren is calling for “environmental justice” a transition to the clean energy outlined in the “Green New Deal”. No, the Green New Deal will not provide millions of new jobs, and eliminating fossil fuels would put the economy into an enormous recession. Just do your homework and study up. Find out who are our most respected climate scientists and listen to them.

ADDENDUM: Don’t miss what actually happened here. World’s expert on polar bears visits a school, tells the kids that the polar bears are just fine and multiplying and thriving. Kids go home, tell parents that polar bears are just fine, and mommies get all upset because it doesn’t jibe with their own panic about a dying earth, complain to the university, which fires famous scientist. 2019: Planet Earth.



Accuracy from the Media? by The Elephant's Child

The News Media reported today that President Trump was withdrawing American Troops from Syria, and the general conversation erupted in loud angst. Trump is abandoning the Kurds in Syria, abandoning Iraq, ISIS will return etc. etc. etc. The White House reported that President Trump was moving some American troops around in Syria.  OMG, telephone calls with Turkey’s dictator Erdogan! He spoke to the dictator! Turkey will be attacking the Kurds. How can we abandon our friends the Kurds?

I don’t know about you, but I have no idea what is happening. I suspect that the News Media doesn’t either. I do not find the News Media honest, careful, or trustworthy. Whatever Trump is doing or has done is bad, must be condemned. Continual search for another “bombshell”. Straighten up!

I ran onto this list from Sharyl Atkisson, fearless reporter, an example of independent journalism. She lists 93 Media Mistakes in the Trump Era:

We the media have “fact-checked” President Trump like we have fact-checked no other human being on the planet—and he’s certainly given us plenty to write about. That’s probably why it’s so easy to find lists enumerating and examining his mistakes, missteps and “lies.”

But as self-appointed arbiters of truth, we’ve largely excused our own unprecedented string of fact-challenged reporting. The truth is, formerly well-respected, top news organizations are making repeat, unforced errors in numbers that were unheard of just a couple of years ago.
Our repeat mistakes involve declaring that Trump’s claims are “lies” when they are matters of opinion, or when the truth between conflicting sources is unknowable; taking Trump’s statements and events out of context; reporting secondhand accounts against Trump without attribution as if they’re established fact; relying on untruthful, conflicted sources; and presenting reporter opinions in news stories—without labeling them as opinions.

Here’s the list: Scroll through just a part of it to get the idea, or the whole thing if you are patient. Gives you a good idea of just why the President refers to “Fake News”.

93 Notable Mistakes and Missteps in Major Media Reporting on Donald Trump



A Unified, Coordinated Attack Machine? by The Elephant's Child

…………_______________________________________________________

Have you noticed that the Left keeps changing the meaning of words?

“A globalist is a person that wants the globe to do well, frankly, not caring about our country so much. And you know what? We can’t have that. You know, they have a word. It sort of became old-fashioned. It’s called a nationalist. And I say, really, we’re not supposed to use that word. You know what I am? I’m a nationalist, OK? I’m a nationalist. Nationalist. Use that word.”

…………………………………………….President Donald Trump
……………………………………………………October 22, 2018.

I had no trouble understanding his meaning, Of course I believe in the United States of America and put the country’s well being ahead of any goofy ideas of world government. I have always thought of myself as a nationalist. I love this country and celebrate the freedom that our constitution and our history promise. But apparently the meaning of the word “nationalism” has changed in the minds of the Left.

Chris Cillizza at CNN (of course it is CNN) wrote: “The roots of Adolph Hitler’s rise were built around his emphasis on extreme nationalism – the idea that the only way Germany could be great again was to seize onto the superiority of the German people and drive out those across Europe who refused to acknowledge that superiority.” Actually, Hitler had some other things n his mind than superiority, but the language has changed Nationalism = Nazism.

Clearly, we insulted the leftist media by suggesting that the unhinged mob of partisans screaming and pounding on the doors of the Supreme Court itself were an “unhinged mob.” The media made it clear that they sympathized with Christine Blasey Ford and any and all other accusers of Judge Kavanaugh, but using “mob” terminology for an actual mob was going too far.

The New York Times indulges itself with an assassination fantasy while blaming President Trump for the bombs mailed to members of the Left. They are quick to blame the president’s rhetoric for any increase in violence in our society.

What rhetoric? Why the President called the media “fake news”, and he said that they were “the enemy of the people.” That’s the thing that eats at the media. But continually misreporting the news isn’t exactly helpful. If the media can deliver only politicized news, they are failing in their most basic function which is to help their listeners or readers to understand what is going on in the world. Of course it is much harder to report in an disinterested voice, scrupulously avoiding one’s own partisan beliefs. But journalists seem to have no oath of office, no guardrails, they work only at the peril of instantly losing their job if they are politically incorrect.



A Shooting at Maryland’s Capital-Gazette Newspaper, 5 Dead. by The Elephant's Child

A suspect named Jarrod Ramos was identified as the shooter who killed five journalists on Thursday at Maryland’s The Capital-Gazette newspaper. As soon as news of the shooting appeared, journalists were blaming President Trump. Apparently calling the press “fake news” and suggesting that inaccurate news is harmful to the country means he is responsible for someone killing five journalists. This is why they get called “fake news.”

Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security advisor famously said that journalists were easy—they were 28 years old and didn’t know anything. As I mentioned a new Axios/SurveyMonkeyPoll asked ‘How often do you think news sources report news they know to be fake, false or purposely misleading? Democrats 53%, Independents 79%, GOP 92%.  That should be a huge wake-up call to the journalist profession. Won’t happen.

The suspect had a long standing issue with the newspaper, going back years, long before Donald Trump ran for office. How interesting that supposedly unbiased “journalists” would instantly assume that it was Trump’s fault. Or that it would be assumed that Trump was ripping little children from the arms of their mothers, or that Trump was banning travel from Muslim countries because of racist prejudice against Muslims, or that the Wall on the Southern border was a racist effort to keep brown people from Mexico out of the country. So why would anyone think that “fake news” is a problem?



“Fake News”, Poison Pen, and “Journalism” Today by The Elephant's Child

Here is an article I ran across this morning from The New York Times that is a perfect example of the loony “resistance.” If you want an example of why the president tweets about “fake news”, here you go. Ideally, I would love to see you print it out, take a red pencil, and underline each word and phrase that is poisonously partisan, false, slanted or just plain untrue.  So and so “are said to be thinking”— oh yeah? Who said they “are said”? “Last week, Mr Kelly told senators that the White House was “a miserable place to work”— so what? Many people have said or thought that about their workplace many times when exasperated without it being front page news for the NYT. Sometimes work is hard. That’s why they call it “work.”

Anything that can be phrased to carry a negative connotation is. Anything that can be described in a way unflattering to the President is. The entire article is a perfect example of the poisonous possibilities of the pen—how can you attempt to demonize with every word, every unsourced statement, and snide assumption, and still be considered “a reporter.” I almost never read anything  in the NYT, but occasionally read the headlines to see if anything has changed. But for East Coast lefties—this is what is happening, and what is real. And this is what the President must face every day. That he only responds by calling some of it “fake news” is really quite amazing.

Donald Trump was considered unfit for the presidency by many, who thought of him as a reality TV star. He did do that for fun for a while. Yet we consider a House or Senate term as an excellent qualification for office. So they voted Yea or Nay a number of times and sat through speeches and hearings and contributed what? In Hillary’s case, I read that her only bill during her term in the senate was to name a new Post Office.

Mr.Trump, on the other hand, built things in New York City and environs, doing battle with zoning bureaucrats, regulators, councilmen, lawyers, unions, mob bosses, city councils,  accountants, environmentalists, traffic regulators, pages and pages of regulations, state officials, and who knows what else, and still managed to get things built and make money at it. Sounds like a fairly good course in doing government, but of course doesn’t rate the approval of those who consider him not quite their class, with orange hair and too tanned complexion, and someone who speaks like a person in the construction trades from Queens.

If you did the red pencil thing, or not, now watch the Victor Davis Hanson speech, and think about today’s world. President Trump has surpassed 3% growth, some are expecting it to hit 4% soon. Black unemployment is at the lowest rate ever, and white unemployment is decreasing as well. Business is growing with tax relief and the removal of unnecessary and expensive regulations. The list of accomplishments is growing daily in spite of all the attacks. Tom Steyer is still out there spending millions to try to get the President impeached. And the slowly unwinding story of collusion and Russia and the CIA, Justice, the FBI, the Intelligence Committees of House and Senate, continue to reveal the seamier side of government.



Sharyl Attkisson: All About Fake News! Is it Real? by The Elephant's Child

Here’s Sharyl Attkisson giving a ‘TED Talk’ at the University of Nevada, on the matter of “fake news.” There’s no one better to explain just what the problem is, and why it is a problem. She has had her own battles with truth in journalism, and emerged triumphant.

We depend on the national news media to give us factual, current news. It increasingly seems that reporters have little acquaintance with history, and little understanding of the traditional role of journalism in a free country. Fortunately, the new media allows us to be our own fact checkers. It’s more work for us, but we can track down the truth, if we make the effort.




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