American Elephants

Feinstein Tries To Ban 150 Types of Guns; Public Rushes to Buy Them! by The Elephant's Child


(click to enlarge)

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has introduced a bill to ban more than 150 types of weapons; they are calling it the “Assault Weapons Ban of 2013,”so of course members of the public are rushing to gun dealers to purchase weapons. Investors suggests a better name for the bill would be “Second Amendment Violation of the Century.”

Included in the exhaustive list are all types of AR-15s. It was, as everyone knows, an AR-15 that was used in the Newtown, CT and Aurora, CO shootings.  The AR-15 is a scary-looking semi-automatic hunting rifle that is no different than a more conventional rifle except that it has some military-looking cosmetic styling.

The number of homicides caused by rifles is falling. Only 323 Americans were killed by rifles in 2011. The number of homicides caused by knives, blunt instruments and the human body itself is Nine Times as many. AR-15s have been used to save lives several times since the Sandy Hook shooting. There is nothing in Feinstein’s bill that would have prevented the tragedy of Sandy Hook or Aurora. .(click to enlarge)


Some have suggested that Sen. Feinstein is simply trying to improve her’ legacy.’ She tried an Assault Weapons ban once before, and it was a colossal failure, changing nothing, nothing at all. It isn’t the guns fault, nor is it the bullets fault. Limiting magazines suggests that one would just need carry more magazines, for it only takes seconds to change one. She is, of course, attempting to play on public emotion, and all who are infected with the “do-something disease.” Seung-Hui Cho, the Virginia Tech gunman used two sidearms, a .22 caliber Walther P22 and a 9mm Glock to kill 32 of his fellow classmates. Neither of these weapons are on Feinstein’s list.

Real Assault weapons are already illegal.

The popularity of the AR-15 has exploded in recent decades. The AR-15 has become mainstream among shooters. Millions of Americans are using ARs for hunting, target shooting, competition, and home defense. It is light and easy to use. And most Americans have no plans for mass shootings, now or ever.

Obama proclaimed “If it saves the life of just one child” — the worst kind of pompous pandering. Obama’s campaign organization, now “Organizing for Action” a 501(c) 4 lobbying group, fired off emails immediately following the inaugural speech demanding calls made to Congress to ban guns, which produced no interest at all.

Michael Ramirez explained accurately the instruments used in violent assaults. Pay attention to the numbers. It is a different picture than the gun-grabbers would have you believe.

ADDENDUM: Do take the time to watch this video from the Australians, recounting their Government’s gun ban. Their results:Armed Robberies up 69%. Assaults with Guns up 28%. Gun Murders up 19%. Home Invasions up 21%. People cannot defend themselves or their homes, the police cannot protect them.

The Founding Fathers Understood Bureaucracy Better Than Today’s Liberals. by The Elephant's Child

The story of the Taylor family, just below, is an excellent example of Statism, Progressivism or just bureaucracy in general.  Centralized government, by its very nature is one-size-fits-all government. All goes well until your case is a little different, until the one-size doesn’t fit you. Centralized government runs by regulation, and making regulations for over 315,000,000 people just isn’t going to fit a significant number of people.

The Taylor family’s only hope to avoid FEMA regulations is by getting Congress to pass some kind of exception to the regulations. How would you like your future dependent on getting Congress to pass a law just for you. It happens, but for some Congress cannot rescue you.

The Founding Fathers understood this. Their regulations came from the British government 3,500 miles away, with the fastest communication by sailing packet. And the British government was not shy about regulating. Americans got fed up with bureaucratic regulation that had no real understanding of the realities in the colonies. So the colonies revolted against the crown. The American people’s distaste for bureaucracy is real and longstanding.

In 1651, long before the Revolution, England began passing a series of Navigation Acts to regulate the trade of its American colonies. John Steele Gordon explained:

These acts restricted the colonies to using ships built, owned, and manned by British subjects. The Dutch, far more efficient merchant mariners than the English in the mid-seventeenth century, were able to profitably ship the tobacco of the Chesapeake to Europe for as much as a third less than English ships could. But as the English merchant marine grew and as New England became a major shipping center in its own right, shipping costs declined even without Dutch competition.

The Navigation Acts also required that certain commodities exported by the American colonies could be shipped only to England. Many of these commodities —tobacco, rice, sugar, indigo, furs, copper, and naval stores, tar, pitch and turpentine —were reexported to continental Europe. This assured both that these commodities passed through English customs and were taxed, and that English merchants handled the trade with Europe. Other colonial exports, such as flour from the middle colonies and pig iron, could be exported by the colonies directly to whatever markets could be found.

Third, the Navigation Acts required that European goods imported to America had to pass first through England, and of course, English customs, except for certain products of southern Europe that England didn’t produce in the first place, such as wine from Spain, Madeira, and the Azores. The main purpose of this legislation was to protect the American market for British manufactures. But as Britain quickly became the most efficient producer of these goods in Europe, British manufacturers almost always offered better prices anyway.

Those who are placed in a position of power can seldom resist the temptation to tell everyone else what to do. And that is a pleasant power. What fun to be able to arrange  things to suit yourself. The colonies remained dependent on the mother country to provide those goods and services which they could not provide for themselves. All well and good, but British law effectively forbade the establishment of banks in the colonies, and forbade the export of British coinage from Britain to protect its own money supply. Money speeds up transactions in a barter economy, and its lack is beyond inconvenient.

With the prohibition on export of British coins, the colonies had to find some other source. In 1652, Massachusetts began making its own coins, the pine tree shilling. People had to bring in their own silver and have it assayed before being made into coins. That was illegal, but successful, and the Massachusetts economy prospered, so the British didn’t interfere. The rest of the colonies turned to the Spanish dollar, which accounted for about half the coinage in the colonies. It was chopped into eighths or ‘bits’ from whence came the designation of our quarter as ‘two bits’, but since nothing much costs a quarter any more, the term may be completely unfamiliar to our younger citizens.

That’s just a small sample of the bureaucratic complications of being a colony of a mother country intent upon maintaining America as a colony. America got fed up with regulations coming from 3,500 miles away, and communication that took as long as three months.

Those progressives that are so sure the Constitution is outdated, not up-to-date enough for modern people like themselves may assume that the Declaration and the Constitution, dusty old documents, were dashed off by old white men with no understanding the needs of truly modern men, and a modern age. But the Founders understood centralized government and bureaucracy probably better than we do. They understood human nature, and did their best to set up a government with checks and balances that would prevent or at least slow down its excesses. Pity that the Progressives have so little understanding of history and so little respect for its lessons.

FEMA Won’t Let Us Rebuild Our Home by The Elephant's Child

The Taylor family lives in the Natomas community in Sacramento, California. On August 24, 2012, Brad and Jennifer were driving home with their two young children when they saw smoke in their neighborhood. As they got closer to home, they realized that their house was on fire. Jennifer jumped out of the car to get the family’s elderly dog and two cats to safety while Brad drove the kids to their grandmother’s house down the street. Though shaken, both Brad and Jennifer were relieved that no one had been hurt. “It’s just a fire,” Brad said. “It can all be replaced.”

Little did they know that, thanks to regulations created by the Federal Emergency Managment Agency in the wake of Hurricane Katrina — which hit land thousands of miles away from Sacramento — their rebuilding nightmare was just beginning.

To learn more, go to the Taylors’ Facebook page, Burned OUT in Natomas:

The Progressive Vision, Clearly Exposed, Doesn’t Work. by The Elephant's Child

It is important to pay attention to President Obama’s second inaugural address. It wasn’t as much of a laundry list as the usual inaugural. Obama made the case, such as it is, for the progressive worldview. It lays out a rather shallow, confused strand of American political thought that results in an administrative state and a wise ruling class.

He emphasized “collectivism”— we’re all in this together,  you didn’t build that. But his take on collectivism is quite different than what most of us would think of as community.  Obama’s  idea of the collective is that he and his chosen group of experts will tell us what to do and we will collectively pay for it. He has made it abundantly clear that he has little interest in public opinion except to determine how he can manipulate it with his community organizing skills.

The American people were quite clear that they did not want government-run health care, but that had not the slightest effect on what the government determined was in our best interest. People were worried about the cost of their health insurance  which soon may triple what it was before ObamaCare.

“Together,” he said, “we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play.” Odd. American businesses have been vehement in their anger at overregulation, attacks on businesses who support the wrong politicians, the rising cost of energy, and transportation, the need to hire extra people just to cope with the burden of government required paperwork. That, by definition, is not the free market.

“But we have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.” I’m sure he doesn’t have in mind a citizen uprising against government tyranny. What does he mean? From other progressive comments, it means they don’t like the Constitution and the Declaration and want us to ignore them.

“For the American people can no more meet the demands of today’s world by acting alone than American soldiers could have met the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias. no single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores. Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation, and one people.” Aside from erecting large straw men to shoot down, this is just silly. He has no idea how to bring new jobs and businesses to our shores, and we can’t do them together, because he keeps shutting down real jobs in order to chase imaginary jobs in 21st century “renewable”energy in industries subsidized by the government and run by his political cronies.

The Constitution, Obama told WBEZ in Chicago, is a charter of negative liberties. The Warren Court did not break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution. To overcome the limitations of the Constitution, the Courts or the Congress would have to enact change.  Twenty-first century people don’t need eighteenth century ideas restraining us. We’ re modern.

Progressivism doesn’t work. Utopian dreams are constrained by ordinary mathematics. You can’t add 50,00 new people’s insurance to be paid for, 100 new agencies each with hundreds of employees, vast new reporting responsibilities, and an insistence on putting all medical records online and expect health care to cost less.

We collectively must support Social Security and Medicare, but we cannot reform them, because people depend on them. Social Security goes broke, kaput, in 2041, The Medicare Hospital trust runs out of money in 2024, and those dates keep edging closer, as costs climb. Progressives oppose any effort to save the programs by reforming them and simply insist, without evidence, that they must continue. Utopian dreams are constrained by ordinary mathematics. The Progressive Project doesn’t work.

Speaker of the House John Boehner Addresses The Ripon Society: by The Elephant's Child

Speaker of the House John Boehner speaks to The Ripon Society on January 22, 2013 in Washington DC. Former Representative Mike Oxley introduces the Speaker.

There has been a lot of criticism of the speaker from Republicans who have wanted him to do far more battle. They wanted to go over the fiscal cliff, assuming that would somehow be an attack on the administration. It wouldn’t. The blame would attach entirely to the Republicans, who are already blamed by the public for preventing all good things from happening with their nasty stubbornness. The painful fact is that you cannot run the United States government from one house of Congress, much as we would prefer to at this moment in time. On the other hand, we wouldn’t like it much were the situation reversed with Democrats running the country from a Democratic House.

There are currently 233 Republican members of the House of Representatives, and 200 Democrats. Each of those members have their own priorities and their own opinions. Think herding cats. Coming to some kind of agreement as to strategy and desired outcome is not easy. Our Founders designed our system of government so that each of the three branches is independent and must work with the other two to accomplish anything. Congress is designed to reflect the people, the population by districts. States gain or lose members with each census. The Senate, on the other hand, represents the 50 states, and each state has two senators no matter how populous or sparsely settled the state. It was a brilliant solution on the part of the Founders to force debate and slow consideration, and as governments go a pretty good answer to the problem that we are all human, and sometimes make terrible mistakes.

Republicans in Congress consider our debt and the economy to be the greatest dangers we face. The President did consider these issues to be important enough to mention in his Inaugural Address. Congress is more concerned at the moment with banning guns. Republicans might try supporting our leaders instead of trying to tear them down.

Obama Wants Greater Economic Equality. His Policies Destroyed It. by The Elephant's Child

President Obama’s Inaugural Speech, angry and divisive, was all about a call for the Progressive Project. Big Government, Big Health, Big Equality, Big Progressive Reform of Everything. Even reforming history to insist that the old ideas of the old white men who wrote the Declaration and the Constitution no longer measure up to the needs of modern progressive society.  Modern.

The centerpiece was a call for greater economic equality. The president said that “our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it.” That’s just what has happened over the last four years. A new big tax on “the rich” doesn’t begin to compensate for the misery Obama’s policies have inflicted on everyone else.

The recession formally ended in June 2009. We should have seen real recovery beginning, but the auto companies were bailed out, with portions of the value of the companies turned over to the workers. The car dealers — independently owned businesses whose only connection to the auto manufacturers was that they purchased the cars they sold from the car makers— were abruptly put out of business.

The management of GM was replaced with Obama’s own choices. Chrysler was turned over to Fiat, an Italian company. The union workers at GM and Delphi had their pensions restored, while the non-union employees were left out. GM was told to start making electric cars — Volts —that GM management said were not yet ready for prime time, which has proved to be true.

Then the administration cooked up a program to get all the people who were planning to buy a new car to turn their old ones in to be crushed, decimating  both the used-car market and the used-parts market, and gave the people who were going to buy a new vehicle anyway, a big subsidy to make their purchase promptly. Is there anything in that tale that might make businessmen nervous? Suspicious of the government? Inclined to hunker down and not get noticed? Right.

That was followed up with a vast and complete reformation of American Health Care, promising to reduce the cost, “bend the cost curve down” was the favored term. Except the cost of health care had been coming down slowly for some time, as new diagnostic tools became more available, new drugs improved outcomes, new techniques saved lives.

The “cost curve” was to bend down with the addition of 30,000 to 50,000 people without insurance, and with the addition of over 100 new agencies to manage our new socialized medicine, and perhaps 100 new employees in each of those agencies. The cost curve was to be bent down by forcing the entire medical establishment to get all their records online.  Complete failure. Expensive. Anything there to concern those businessmen who were expected to hire new workers and pay for their health insurance? Perish the thought.

There were the roads and bridges that turned out to be not shovel ready. Have you noticed that 4 years later, he’s still talking roads and bridges? There were the vast promises of new high technology jobs in new 21st century sources of clean energy. Lots of subsidies with taxpayer funds. Government picking and choosing which businesses to support always works well.  New tools, old energy. The wind remains completely intermittent; solar energy is diffuse, affected by natural things like clouds and night. The jobs? Temporary, and vanishing when the companies go bankrupt which most did.

Every regulation issued by the government has costs and consequences. The EPA has been a regular fountain of regulation, most unnecessary and accomplishing nothing except tighter government control of the economy. The costs to businesses are huge. Everything from businesses being abruptly shut down, to paperwork requirements that mean hiring more people to fill it out.

The Deepwater Horizon explosion killed 11 men, and shut down oil production in the Gulf for an ever-extending period. Big offshore rigs picked up and went to other countries where they were more welcome. The extended shutdown — was it needed for safety reasons? or to promote all that clean energy? — put all sorts of businesses related to the oil fields out of business, motels, restaurants, suppliers in many states.

That is the situation for businesses struggling to survive. Small business (50 employees and up) has long been the engine of growth in our society, not huge corporations. Those who should be leading the growth in the economy are understandably sitting on their hands, hunkering down, hoping not to get noticed. They are afraid of their government, and with good reason.

Median household income is 7% below where it was when Obama took office. Most of the high-paying jobs lost in the recession are being replaced with low-paying jobs. Small businesses are laying off workers to get below the magic number of 50 employees because of ObamaCare. Universities and colleges, the home of progressive angst about income inequality, are reducing hours for their adjunct employees because of ObamaCare.

The number of people on food stamps is up 46% since Obama first took office. There are 2.7 million more people in poverty than in 2009. So who is doing well? From whence comes Obama’s claim that the economy is recovering? The “shrinking few” that Obama complains about are doing fine. Wall Street investors, corporate chiefs are doing nicely because of administration efforts to keep interest rates low. The three richest counties in the country all surround  Washington DC, where we know pay is higher and people work less than the rest of us.

The only real answer to income inequality is a private sector  economy that is growing and thriving. That spreads opportunity and mobility in ways that no federal government could hope to do. Government jobs are paid with the funds supplied by the private sector in taxes on a population that is employed and creating and innovating. A free market economy unhampered by big government.

Nebraska Gov. Heineman Aproved the New Keystone XL Route: What’s Next? by The Elephant's Child


Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman has approved the new route for the Keystone XL pipeline from the Canadian oil fields.  The State Department approved it previously, when the projected route ran through Nebraska’s Sand Hills, but now they will have to approve it again. The pipeline was halted when President Obama denied the northern sector because of environmentalist pressure. We’ll see what happens this time.

Looking through my own archives, I see that I’ve written 8 posts just about the Keystone battles, including one about Democrats’ consistent attempt to redefine problems away, prompted by the hapless Jay Carney’s attempt to claim that the history is quite clear, it was the Republicans who cancelled the Keystone XL pipeline. (The GOP played Politics?)

The Keystone XL project promised 20,000 high paying jobs, which the economy badly needs, and an estimated 250,000 spinoff jobs along the pipeline route as it moved down from Canada to the refineries in Texas and Oklahoma. Environmentalists used the Sand Hills as an excuse, but their real reason is that they don’t want the pipeline — period. The denial was a major foreign-policy gaffe, and caused some real hard feelings with our northern neighbor. Canadians have their problems with activist greens as well.

Since Hillary Clinton is departing, and the new nominee is John Kerry, subject to Senate approval, it may be stopped in its tracks at the State Department, getting Obama off the hook. The Kerrys are movers and shakers in the environmental movement. It will be put off until after the new Secretary of State is in office. I’m not hopeful.

Apparently good paying jobs and economic growth are no longer a particular concern. Unemployment went unmentioned in the Inaugural speech, and the economy was dismissed with the simple comment that it is recovering, though there is little evidence that it is. There are fewer Americans working now than there were when Obama was inaugurated in 2009.  The national debt has increased dramatically. Although jobs are being created slowly, there are not enough to keep pace with the numbers of new people entering the work force. Since June 2009, the economy has grown at a rate of 0.4% a year. That’s beyond slow.

The speech was filled with promises to conquer global warming — unnecessary, since there has been no warming at all in the 21st century, and may be cooling for something like 30-35 years. Climate change does not cause “the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.” Drought and storms are weather, not climate — and raging fires are caused by an Interior Department unwilling to thin forests and insistent on promoting roadless areas, so it’s hard to reach fires to control them.


The Road to Hell Is Paved With Good Intentions! by The Elephant's Child

Andrew Klavan tackles the verity of an old proverb — the triumph of belief over truth, the ferocious commitment that decent, intelligent, educated people make to virtuous-sounding ideals and well-intended programs that are, in fact, the sure road to atrocity. The utopian hope of Communism, which has caused its adherents to turn a blind eye to mass murder and oppression…  the high-minded lie of multiculturalism, which, in the name of tolerance, has given aid and comfort to the enemies of civilization… Intellectuals and sophisticates not only cling to such fancies but demonize the prophets who try to reveal their real nature.

These creeds don’t deliver what they promise, but they do provide their followers with a sense of their own virtue — a sense that comes to trump the millions of lives shattered or lost in the course of the creed’s actualization. For all their good intentions, the true believers somehow seem to forget that each human “sacrifice” to the greater good had a life as urgent as their own; had dreams, loves, thoughts, experiences each more worthy of reaching fruition than even the finest of cloud-based utopias.

Not My Fault! Not My Fault! Not My Fault! by The Elephant's Child

You have heard of the Big Lie technique. You repeat something over and over, and pretty soon everyone will believe it. This is Barack Obama’s  strategy for the battle with the Republicans over the debt ceiling.

He wants the public to believe that the huge deficits of recent years are all the work of Congress (only the Republican House of course), and that now Congress must “take responsibility for the mess it made. ” Oh, please.

On Saturday the White House declared “there are only two options to deal with the debt limit. Congress can pay its bills or it can fail to act and put the nation into default.”

At his Monday press conference “Raising the debt ceiling does not authorize more spending, it simply allows the country to pay for spending that Congress has already committed to.”

The problem is those irresponsible Republicans and Speaker John Boehner, and those radical Tea Party wackos who want the federal government to fail to send out Social Security checks.

Congress can’t spend a single cent unless the president signs a bill to do so. The biggest spending binge was in 2009 when Democrats were in charge of both houses and Obama asked for and got a massive stimulus bill.  Outlays soared from $2.98 trillion in 2008 —to $3.53 trillion in 2009, and $3.46 trillion in 2010 — fiscal years ending in September.

Congress appropriates to fulfill the president’s budget. Obama’s budgets asked for the deficit spending he now claims was not his fault. The Big Lie is objectionable because it has become common knowledge that nothing, nothing is ever Obama’s fault.

Rhetoric v. Reality from Reason Magazine by The Elephant's Child

A Partisan Speech About What to Expect From Term 2. by The Elephant's Child

On these pages, I usually am disagreeing with President Obama’s policies. I recognize the importance, especially to Black Americans, of having a Black president. I never saw someone’s race as a barrier to elective office, but those who have suffered from discrimination see it as enabling full participation in a society they are not yet ready to accept as non-discriminatory, and I recognize that emotion.

On the other hand, I care deeply about policy, and reject the policies of the Progressive Party particularly because their ideas just don’t work.

I don’t watch TV, so did not see the inauguration, but I printed out the inaugural speech, because this is the first time that the president has made a statement of what we can expect from his second term, something he assiduously avoided throughout the campaign. As Mona Charen remarked today—”we recall that his campaign huddled early in 2012 and reflected that they could not run on his first-term record. Accordingly, the strategy was “Kill Romney.” Congratulations. That’s what we’re celebrating today.”

Mr. Obama clearly wanted to make an important, memorable speech. In a successful speech the memorable soaring phrases build up  from the body of the speech naturally as the full idea comes to fruition. Didn’t happen. They were just stuck in there.

Through blood drawn by lash and blood drawn by sword, we learned that no union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half-slave and half-free. We made ourselves anew, and vowed to move forward together.

That was meant to be in the quotation books, but the soaring part doesn’t fit the rest. Nit-picking, of course, but I found that a real stopper.

After his first inauguration, Obama said in February 2009: “The federal government is the only entity left with the resources to jolt our economy back into life. It is only government that can break the vicious cycle where lost jobs lead to people spending less money which leads to even more layoffs.” That is what he pursued for four years, but it didn’t work out so well.  This time it was: “Through it all, we have never relinquished our skepticism of central authority, nor have we succumbed to the fiction that all society’s ills can be cured through government alone.”Except that he didn’t mean that either, what he meant was:

We understand that outworn programs are inadequate to the needs of our time. We must harness new ideas and technology to remake our government, revamp our tax code, reform our schools, and empower our citizens with the skills they need to work harder, learn more, and reach higher. But while the means will change, our purpose endures: a nation that rewards the effort and determination of every single American. That is what this moment requires. That is what will give real meaning to our creed.

Our wise government will come up with new business and new technology, and train people to do the new jobs, because we cannot leave such things to the so-called free market. Collectivism. Climate Change, the leftover roads and bridges, make friends with our enemies, economics grows out from the middle class, we believe in the rule of law, “we believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war,” “we are also heirs to those who won the peace and not just the war.” — “who turned sworn enemies into the surest of friends.”

And this gem: “We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling a reasoned debate.” Mr. Absolute, who does not change his mind,  who goes for spectacle instead of substance every time, and who can’t resist name-calling of those who disagree with him. If you don’t agree with Barack Obama you are with the forces of darkness, you are evil and despicable. This was a partisan, divisive speech. He will be using his community organizing skills to form a permanent campaign to get his supporters to force Congress to pass the laws he wants.

And the mention of the debt, the deficit, the budget, spending? Sixteen trillion and heading up — and it’s not worth even mentioning.

Thomas Sowell: A Downward Trajectory by The Elephant's Child


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