American Elephants


“The Great Liberal Freakout” by The Elephant's Child

Steven Hayward posted this review of “The Great Liberal Freakout” at Powerline yesterday. It’s so good it’s worth repeating.

The head of the Joint Center for Political Studies, which the Washington Post describes as a “respected liberal think tank,” reacted to Trump’s landslide thus: “When you consider that in the climate we’re in—rising violence, the Ku Klux Klan—it is exceedingly frightening.” Castro, still with us, said right before the election: “We sometimes have the feeling that we are living in the time preceding the election of Adolf Hitler as Chancellor of Germany.”  Claremont College professor John Roth wrote: “I could not help remembering how economic turmoil had conspired with Nazi nationalism and militarism—all intensified by Germany’s defeat in World War I—to send the world reeling into catastrophe… It is not entirely mistaken to contemplate our post-election state with fear and trembling.”  Esquire writer Harry Stein says that the voters who supported Trump were like the “good Germans” in “Hitler’s Germany.”  Sociologist Alan Wolfe is up in the New Left Review: “The worst nightmares of the American left appear to have come true.” And he doubles down in The Nation: “[T]he United States has embarked on a course so deeply reactionary, so negative and mean-spirited, so chauvinistic and self-deceptive that our times may soon rival the McCarthy era.” The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, keeper of the “Doomsday Clock” that purported to judge the risk of nuclear annihilation, has moved the hands on the clock from seven to four minutes before midnight.

Oh wait, did I say this was the reaction to Trump??  Sorry—these are what the left was saying the day after Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980. Some things never change.



Americans Want Their Self Government Back, And They Want it Now! by The Elephant's Child

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There was a time, not too long ago, when news was conveyed largely by radio, newspapers, and magazines. Television added several channels and commentators who became celebrities because they kept us in touch with the world, and we trusted them. TV added more channels and cable, reality shows, and we began to trust them a little less. With the advent of the computer and cell phones and hundreds  of online magazines, not to mention blogs — newspapers are dying, though many are still alive online, and our trust is largely gone.

A common photograph of kids today is of a group, each intent on their own cell phone and social media, mostly unaware of what is going on around them. Roving reporters with microphone and recorder try to find out what the man-in-the-street knows about history, politics, or current events. The answer, uniformly, is not much of anything.  Response on college campuses is equally embarrassing.

So we are deep in “the information age” and nobody knows much  of anything.

The continuing question is “Why Are Voters So Angry?” most recently answered by Myron Magnet, editor-at-large at City Journal. He says firmly that the people want their self-government back.

Haunting this year’s presidential contest is the sense that the U.S. government no longer belongs to the people and no longer represents them. And this uneasy feeling is not misplaced. It reflects the real state of affairs.

We have lost the government we learned about in civics class, with its democratic election of representatives to do the voters’ will in framing laws, which the president vows to execute faithfully, unless the Supreme Court rules them unconstitutional. That small government of limited powers that the Founders designed, hedged with checks and balances, hasn’t operated for a century. All its parts still have their old names and appear to be carrying out their old functions. But in fact, a Nnew kind of government has grown up inside the old structure, like those parasites hatched in another organism that grow by eating up their host from within, until the adult creature bursts out of the host’s carcass. This transformation is not an evolution but a usurpation.

What has now largely displaced the Founders’ government is what’s called the Administrative State—a transformation premeditated by its main architect, Woodrow Wilson. The thin-skinned, self-righteous college-professor president, who thought himself enlightened far beyond the citizenry, dismissed the Declaration of Independence’s inalienable rights as so much outmoded “nonsense,” and he rejected the Founders’ clunky constitutional machinery as obsolete. (See “It’s Not Your Founding Fathers’ Republic Any More,” Summer 2014.) What a modern country needed, he said, was a “living constitution” that would keep pace with the fast-changing times by continual, Darwinian adaptation, as he called it, effected by federal courts acting as a permanent constitutional convention.
…………………..(Do read the whole thing, it’s rewarding)

When did you start to get ticked off? When they took away your lightbulbs and made you buy those twisty things?  Or was it when you read about the EPA case against the Sacketts who started to build their dream home on the shores of Priest Lake in Northern Idaho, and the EPA charged them with building  in a wetland and charged them a $37,500 fine for each day they hadn’t restored the property to it’s original condition? Or was it the orange river from the Gold King Mine Disaster? ObamaCare, and you found out you couldn’t keep your doctor after all? Or when you found out that veterans were dying while they waited to get an appointment at the VA? Or the scandals at the IRS, HHS, ICE, DOJ, or was it the terrorist attacks for which Obama couldn’t find the motive, and couldn’t call it anything behind “violent extremism.” Or was it just political correctness in general?

Here’s Professor Richard A. Epstein on “The Perils of Executive Power.

Steven Hayward sums it all up with one paragraph from a 1994  Harvard Law Review article The Rise and Rise of the Administrative State“.

Philip Wallach from Cato Unbound: “Questioning the Administrative State

From the Wall Street Journal: “Obama’s Age of Discord



Finally, A College President Does the Right Thing by The Elephant's Child

Steven Hayward, who keeps a close eye on the absurdities of academe, reports on the rare sighting of a university president who actually has a backbone. I have been critical, mostly of the students, who although young, should know better. University presidents, however, have the assigned job of keeping order in their establishment.

Students are there theoretically to learn something, but because they are young and stupid, they are apt to engage in outbreaks of goofiness. Once long ago, it was a rage for swallowing goldfish that spread from campus to campus, then there were panty raids. It got far more serious and caused far more trouble in the Vietnam War era, because kids were afraid of being drafted. Today we’re back to the ridiculous.

The current brouhaha is at Ohio State University, and the hero is president Michael V. Drake. Students who attempted to occupy the area outside president Drake’s office got a taste of the real world “when a senior administrator  advised them that they would be arrested and expelled  if they didn’t retreat from their ‘occupied space’.”

Here are some of their demands:

We demand complete, comprehensive and detailed access to the Ohio State budget and investments immediately, as well as personnel to aid students in understanding this information.

OSU Divest: Divest fromCaterpillar Inc., Hewlett Packard and G4S due to their involvement in well-documented human rights abuses in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and across the globe. . .

Real Food OSU: Sign the Real Food Campus Commitment. Ensure the administration work with Real Food OSU through the entire implementation of the Real Food Campus Commitment, in place of, or as a means of attaining, the university sustainability goal of increased “production and purchase of locally and sustainably sourced food to 40% by 2025.”

Steven Hayward added: “Memo to all college presidents: This is how you do it. Why is this so hard?”



Annoy a Green True Believer. Tell Them CO2 Makes Forests Grow. by The Elephant's Child

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Steven Hayward published an abstract from the coming issue of Forest Ecology & Management which includes an article that finds rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere are mostly beneficial for our forests. Here’s the complete abstract, which will annoy the Greens.

Physiological and ecological factors influencing recent trends in United States forest health responses to climate change

Abstract

The health of United States forests is of concern for biodiversity conservation, ecosystem services, forest commercial values, and other reasons. Climate change, rising concentrations of CO2 and some pollutants could plausibly have affected forest health and growth rates over the past 150 years and may affect forests in the future. Multiple factors must be considered when assessing present and future forest health. Factors undergoing change include temperature, precipitation (including flood and drought), CO2 concentration, N deposition, and air pollutants. Secondary effects include alteration of pest and pathogen dynamics by climate change. We provide a review of these factors as they relate to forest health and climate change. We find that plants can shift their optimum temperature for photosynthesis, especially in the presence of elevated CO2, which also increases plant productivity. No clear national trend to date has been reported for flood or drought or their effects on forests except for a current drought in the US Southwest. Additionally, elevated CO2 increases water use efficiency and protects plants from drought. Pollutants can reduce plant growth but concentrations of major pollutants such as ozone have declined modestly. Ozone damage in particular is lessened by rising CO2. No clear trend has been reported for pathogen or insect damage but experiments suggest that in many cases rising CO2 enhances plant resistance to both agents. There is strong evidence from the United States and globally that forest growth has been increasing over recent decades to the past 100+ years. Future prospects for forests are not clear because different models produce divergent forecasts. However, forest growth models that incorporate more realistic physiological responses to rising CO2 are more likely to show future enhanced growth. Overall, our review suggests that United States forest health has improved over recent decades and is not likely to be impaired in at least the next few decades.

The study is behind a paywall, but you can get the gist of it from this, and this bit from the conclusion.

The health of United States forests is of increasing concern among scientists and policymakers who predict that CO2-induced climate change will have negative effects on forest establishment and growth. However, when considered over long time frames, drought area does not appear to be increasing in the United States as a whole, though local and periodic excursions are to be expected and do occur. Multiple types of historical data indicate increasing forest productivity. Long-term data on trends for insect and disease incidence and impacts are mostly lacking. . . The IPCC (AR5, WGII p. 305) has reached a similar conclusion, stating: “There is low confidence that climate change is threatening the temperate forest carbon sink directly or indirectly.”

Forest Ecology and Management will probably not be anyone’s favorite bedtime reading, but we skeptics gather up whatever evidence we find to annoy the climate loonies. They are true believers, a sort of religion, and they are quite passionate about it. But wrong.



Do You Save Quotations? Here’s a Good One! by The Elephant's Child

From Steven Hayward

Liberalism’s irrepressible drive for an ever larger welfare state without limit arises from at least two premises upon which the left no longer reflects: the elevation of compassion to a political principle (albeit with other people’s money) and the erosion of meaningful constitutional limits on government on account of the idea of progress.



Winston Churchill on Negotiating With Aliens by The Elephant's Child

Over at Powerline, Steven Hayward posts a “Weekly Winston” quote from Winston Churchill who with long years of writing is exceptionally quotable:

Democratic governments drift along the line of least resistance, taking short views, paying their way with sops and doles, and smoothing their path with pleasant-sounding platitudes.  Never was there less continuity or design in their affairs, and yet towards them are coming swiftly changes which will revolutionize for good or ill not only the whole economic structure of the world but the social habits and moral outlook of every family.




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