American Elephants


Completely Unprepared to Consider Using Common Sense. by The Elephant's Child

Mark Steyn is always brilliant, sometimes he’s just more brilliant than usual. Today he pointed out the specific arrangements we have put in place to make sure that terrorist attacks were unlikely, because an alert citizenry was on the case.  And yet, there was evidence that Major Nidal Hasan deserved attention:

You didn’t have to be “alert” to spot Maj. Nidal Hasan. He’d spent most of the last half-decade walking around with a big neon sign on his head saying “JIHADIST. STAND WELL BACK.” But we (that is to say, almost all of us — and certainly almost anyone who matters in national security and the broader political culture) are now reflexively conditioned to ignore the flashing neon sign. Like those apocryphal Victorian ladies discreetly draping the lasciviously curved legs of their pianos, if a glimpse of hard unpleasant reality peeps through we simply veil it in another layer of fluffy illusions.

“The truth is we’re not prepared to draw a line even after he’s gone ahead and committed mass murder,” Steyn said.  “What happened at Fort Hood was a tragedy,” said Gen. George Casey, the U.S. Army’s Chief of Staff, “but I believe it would be an even greater tragedy if our diversity becomes a tragedy here.”

“Diversity” is more important than 14 dead, dozens wounded?  That is undoubtedly not what he meant, but “diversity” is the ultimate meaningless politically correct notion.

If you have an African-American who immigrated 5 years ago from Ethiopia, and an African-American whose family has lived in America for 150 years, the important thing to them is the color of their skin?  The latter person may have far more in common with someone whose origins were in Mexico, but who was also raised as an army brat. Mothers of toddlers care a lot more about playmates of the same age than their ethnicity.

The differences within ordinary people are far larger than ethnicity.  Political, disinterested, scholarly, cannot read, abused as a child, handicapped, twin, mountain climber, pianist. hunter, animal trainer,potter, vegetarian, homeless, chemist. artist — but only their ethnicity matters?  Please.

The notion that what is important about a person is their race or ethnicity may result in checking off the right little boxes on a census questionnaire but has little to do with the lives of real people. Are those diversity numbers so important?  When it comes to lawsuits, or publicity or promotions the checked-off boxes may matter.  When counting boxes becomes more important than real people,  political correctness does more damage than it is worth.

And shame on you, General Casey.



Eco-Geniuses Cry Doom at Sight of Melting Ice Cubes by American Elephant

Ice figures are pictured on the steps of the concert hall at Gendarmenmarkt

The same liberals who arrogantly claim they want to “return science to it’s rightful place”, are just now learning that ice cubes melt in the summer sun. (They think it represents our impending doom).

Forget the climate, we will be lucky if we survive the next 4 years if this is what passes for scientific enlightenment.



Oh My, We Need Some Remedial Economics 101 Here. by The Elephant's Child

I was still giggling over Nancy Pelosi’s comment on Progressive Health Care: “We will have a cap on costs,  and we will have no cap on benefits, ” when I learned that in Michigan, suffering from some of the highest unemployment  in the country, State Democratic Party Chairman Mark Brewer wants to test support for potential ballot initiatives that will:

“give voters the chance to circumvent recalcitrant politicians in Lansing, he said, demonstrating that Democrats are “on the side of the people.”

The brilliant ideas they are proposing consider:

  • Hiking the minimum wage to $10 an hour for all workers.
  • Cutting utility rates 20% across the board.
  • Imposing a blanket moratorium on home foreclosures for 12 months.
  • Requiring all employers to provide health care to their employees.
  • Hiking, by $100 a week, and extending, for 6 months, unemployment benefits.

Raising the minimum wage will increase the unemployment rate.  Cutting utility rates will cripple Michigan power companies.  Mandating health insurance should shut down any small businesses who were considering staying in Michigan, and no small employer would consider relocating to Michigan. Remaining would be the Democrats and the unemployed, but who would pay for their additional unemployment benefits remains a mystery.

Then Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm has mandated that 20 percent of the state’s power come from renewable resources — and now she wants utilities to cut consumer rates by 20 percent. Yes, she wants utilities to provide more costly power, and cap the prices that customers pay for it.

Last year, Barack Obama named Ms. Granholm to his 17-member economic advisory board.  According to Edward John Craig, she seems to still be active in that role.  At least the climate bill, the budget, the stimulus and the health care reform agenda would seem to indicate that she is.

I knew that Democrats don’t much like the free market, nor do they understand it.  They are deeply suspicious of the profit motive, and antagonistic to business.

That is why we have a stimulus bill that is going to wait a year or two to attempt to stimulate.  That is why, in spite of warnings that fiscal stimulus seldom works, they were sure that more money would make it work.  That is why they are quite sure that dumping large amounts of federal funds into wind turbines and solar panels to produce “clean” electricity will somehow reduce our dependence on foreign oil; and by making the cost of energy far more expensive will somehow create more jobs.  And as Nancy Pelosi claims, by capping costs and making all health care benefits available to millions more people, we will save money.

It seems that we have all stumbled down the rabbit hole, and are lost in a make-believe world.



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.



Another Government Loan to a Surprising Recipient. by The Elephant's Child

Our government has given a $468 million loan to Tesla Motors to build an electric sedan and the battery packs to run it.  When we have been hearing billions and trillions daily, $468 million begins to sound like chump change.  For those unfamiliar with Tesla motors, I have written about their sexy little Tesla Roadster ($110,000) here and here.  It’s a good looking little electric sports car;  when the London Times car guy tested first one and then another, um, there were a few problems.  But for $468 million they should be able to come up with a sedan.

The Chevy Volt is still much hyped by the Obama administration, and if they can get the price ($40,000) down, the  miles it can go up (40 mi.) on a charge, cover the nation with stations where one can plug in to get recharged less than 40 miles apart, and come up with new sources of energy to make the necessary electricity,  then all will be well, if GM can survive long enough to sell one that anybody wants to buy.

The problem is that the Obama administration is attempting to bankrupt the coal companies, deny nuclear permits, deny coal-fired power plant permits, and rely on “clean” wind farms which produce electricity only when the wind blows, which is definitely not all the time.

When the wind does not blow at the right speed, or when it does, there must be full-time back-up from a regular power plant.  Thus if you are depending on wind power you need more power plants, coal-fired or gas-fired, not fewer.  Wind, solar and geothermal are not cost-effective, cannot produce energy at all without vast subsidies, and there is no indication that they can ever become cost-effective.

But I wish Tesla well, I’m just not sure I understand why taxpayers should finance their experiments.

ADDENDUM: How could I forget to mention the $1.6 billion loan to Nissan to develop electric cars.  I got all wrapped up in the $468 million and completely forgot the $1.6 billion.  My bad.



Oh Swell, Now We’re All Going to Jail. by The Elephant's Child

Under a recently introduced bill in the House of Representatives, H.R. 1966, bloggers would face up to two years in prison if they “harass” public figures by criticizing them in a “severe repeated, and hostile” manner, and thereby cause them “substantial emotional distress.”

Will someone please explain to me why Leftists cannot stand to have anyone disagree with them and feel that disagreement must be prevented by law?  Isn’t freedom of speech the first and most important of all our rights in America?  Political speech, especially, is protected by the Constitution.  Did they never read the Constitution?  Do they know no history?

Greg Pollowitz goes on to explain:

U.C. L.A. Law Professor Eugene Volokh, the author of a First Amendment treatise, has concluded that the bill is unconstitutional. …As a federal appeals court noted in DeJohn v. Temple University (2008), “there is no harassment exception to the First Amendment’s free speech clause.” Speech that causes emotional distress can be protected as the Supreme Court made clear in barring a lawsuit by Jerry Falwell over an offensive parody.

Did no one read about Mark Steyn’s experiences with Canada’s human rights nazis?  Did the travails of Salman Rushdie make no impression?  Do people not realize how precious our Bill of Rights is?



Happy Earth Day! But don’t tell me any good news. by The Elephant's Child

Happy Earth Day!  Steve Hayward, author of the Index of Leading Environmental Indicators (14th edition) which mostly consists of the good news.  Today, at NRO,  he points out his favorite tidbit from this year’s edition:

Elizabeth Rosenthal reported in the New York Times of a recent estimate from the Smithsonian Institution research in Central America suggesting that “for every acre of rain forest cut down each year, more than 50 acres of new forest are growing in the tropics on land that was once farmed, logged or ravaged by natural disaster… The new forests, the scientists argue, could blunt the effects of rain forest destruction by absorbing carbon dioxide, the leading heat-trapping gas linked to global warming, one crucial role that rain forests play.  They could also, to a lesser extent, provide habitat for endangered species.”  The next sentence, however, has a drearily predictable beginning: “The idea has stirred outrage among environmentalists,” not because it might be untrue, but because it might blunt support for “vigorous efforts to protect native rain forests.”

Mr. Hayward adds: “Imagine, Environmentalist outrage over potentially good news.”  But then they have a lot of outrage over good news.  The news that the globe is cooling, not warming, has sent them into paroxysms of fury.  Suggest, correctly, that the Arctic and Antarctic have the normal amount of sea ice, or that  polar bears are just fine and adapting to cooler and warmer weather just as they have done for at least 130,000 years, and you have a berzerker on your hands.  They are not interested in good news — or perhaps it’s just that their definition of what is good news is different.




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