American Elephants


Global Chaos — and It’s Only the First of August! by The Elephant's Child

—Israel and Hamas were having a 3-day cease-fire at the behest of Ban-Ki-Moon and John Kerry. I’m not sure what they think they are accomplishing. This time, it lasted just 90 minutes, at which point Hamas sent a batch of suicide bombers into Israel, and killed two Israeli soldiers.  Then they kidnapped an Israeli soldier. Hamas is a terrorist organization that  wants the destruction of the State of Israel and the death of all its inhabitants. Israel wants Hamas to stop firing missiles into Israel, and they want to destroy all the terror tunnels Hamas has dug. Hamas is fighting to win.

ISIS is threatening Kurdistan, and the Kurds have asked the U.S. for military help. They have a good army, but spread a little thin because the border is so long. Obama turned them down, said they’d have to get help from Iraq’s central government—who are more than a little busy at present. Whatever emergency crops up, Mr. Obama is right on top of it.

—The Russia problem continues. The U.S. and the E.U. will impose new sanctions as soon as Monday, in the hopes that with the right balance of carrots and sticks, Mr. Putin will knock off the power grabs. Slap on the wrists and then we can all get back to ordinary business. Mr. Putin is just acting understandably. Ukraine is part of Russia’s historic sphere of influence, so let him have them.

This is Western self-deception. Mr Putin’s Russia is an authoritarian regime bent on redoing the Cold War. He has no democratic legitimacy, so to maintain power he must employ an increasing nationalism and foreign conquest to maintain power. Foreign meddling is not limited to just historic claims. Mr. Putin is not going to be swayed by either mild sanctions nor by reset buttons. Victor Davis Hanson sums it up:

The Obama administration often either denies any responsibility for the current global chaos or claims that it erupted spontaneously. Yet most of the mess was caused by, or made worse by, growing U.S. indifference and paralysis.

Over the last five and a half years, America has had lots of clear choices, but the administration usually took the path of least short-term trouble, which has ensured long-term hardship.

There was no need to “reset” the relatively mild punishments that the George W. Bush administration had accorded Vladimir Putin’s Russia for invading Georgia in 2008. By unilaterally normalizing relations with Russia and trashing Bush, Barack Obama and then–Secretary of State Hillary Clinton only green-lighted further Russian aggression, which has since spread to Crimea and Ukraine.

There was no need for Obama, almost immediately upon assuming office, to distance the U.S. from Israel by criticizing Israel’s policies and warming to its enemies, such as Hamas and the authoritarian Turkish prime minister Recep Erdogan.

China, Iran, Syria, Libya, and oh, yes, North Korea, who just threatened to drop a nuclear weapon on the White House.

When the uprising in Syria against Bashar Assad arose, it was dominated by patriotic Syrian freedom fighters who asked for our help. Saudi Arabia and other American allies in the Arab world urged us to provide arms and help to the rebels. We didn’t. Iran and Russia did. They saw the larger importance of the conflict and poured in  weapons and personnel to support Assad. Somewhere in that period Obama did draw a red line, but it didn’t mean anything. The Saudis have clearly stated their opinion. We and the Europeans are naive and ineffective and as a clear result, they have been planning to obtain their own nuclear weapons.

In December of 2010, a Tunisian street vendor set himself on fire to protest the confiscation of his goods and the harassment from municipal officials. That began the Tunisian Revolution and the so-called Arab Spring. That was followed by the Egyptian Revolution  in January of 2011, a popular uprising against Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and then in February, the revolution in Libya began with anti-government demonstrations in Benghazi, which escalated into a civil war. Egypt elected the Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in a questionable election and finally the army took over again. The West condemned, demanded an end  to violence, was concerned — all the usual. We had an ambassador, his aide and two brave former Seals murdered.  And how preposterous does it look now to have attempted to blame that on an amateur video?

Libya is more than unstable, and we have pulled our embassy staff out of Tripoli. Walter Russell Mead is not so sanguine:

Throw in the resulting civil war in Mali and the scattering of insurgents and weapons to the four winds, and you have a classic exhibition of reckless incompetence—of American arrogance, ignorance, carelessness and moralism combining in a toxic stew to sink a fragile country we never understood.

Luckily for America’s self-esteem, it was liberal Democrats that produced this particular shambles. If Republicans had done this, the media would be on the administration non-stop, perhaps comparing Samantha Power to Paul Wolfowitz—a well-meaning humanitarian way over her head who wrecked a country out of misguided ideology. There might also be some pointed questions for future presidential candidates who supported this fiasco. But since both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have their fingerprints all over Libya, there isn’t a lot of press hunger for a detailed, unsparing autopsy into this stinking corpse of policy flub.

If Obama were a Republican, the press and the weekly news shows would be ringing with hyperbolic, apocalyptic denunciations of the clueless incumbent who had failed to learn the most basic lessons of Iraq.

ISIS is still rampaging over Iraq. Egypt, Jordan and even the Palestinian West Bank are hoping that Israel can eliminate Hamas as a power.  There is still civil war in Mali. We have set free the Taliban’s top generals in a misguided attempt to empty Guantanamo. Victor Davis Hanson adds:

Christians are being exterminated and cleansed from Iraq and Syria. But we seem to think they are equivalent to bible-thumping Texas evangelicals and their killers exotic versions of Che, and so the ethnic cleansing is rarely condemned. If Barack Obama would just close his eyes and envision ISIS, Hamas, or Putin as the Tea Party or Fox News, and then react accordingly, the world would be a safer place. …

The U.S. looks at the current global violence and then looks away, after a call for a “pivot” or a flash card calling for Boko Haram to give back the girls it has enslaved. Our generation’s version of the bad memories of the 1918 Meuse-Argonne Offensive is Iraq and Afghanistan. Like our grandparents of the 1930s, we feel that the dead lost abroad in the most recent wars were not worth it — and so ignore the gathering war clouds on the present horizon, as if ignoring them means they must disappear.

Glance about — Central America, Venezuela, China, Russia, Ukraine, Crimea, Gaza, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Turkey, etc. — and the world outside the West is mostly a nasty place.  The three common denominators in all these catastrophes are the usual demagogic leaders blaming someone else for their people’s own self-inflicted miseries, a comfortable West that shrugs that somehow all these depressing things and mean people will just go away — and a tired global enforcer whose community organizer leader went into retirement and offers “make no mistake about it” warnings between swings on the golf course.



Did You Believe We’re Going In The Wrong Direction? You’re Right. by The Elephant's Child

From the New York Times via Paul Caron, the taxprof:

Median household net worth has fallen 36% since 2003. The typical household is now worth a third less.

Economic inequality in the United States has been receiving a lot of attention. But it’s not merely an issue of the rich getting richer. The typical American household has been getting poorer, too.

The inflation-adjusted net worth for the typical household was $87,992 in 2003. Ten years later, it was only $56,335, or a 36 percent decline, according to a study financed by the Russell Sage Foundation. Those are the figures for a household at the median point in the wealth distribution — the level at which there are an equal number of households whose worth is higher and lower. But during the same period, the net worth of wealthy households increased substantially.

6a00d8341c4eab53ef01a511d60472970c-580wi

6a00d8341c4eab53ef01a3fd26817e970b-580wi

Funny, President Obama keeps telling us how much the economy has recovered, and all the new jobs.



700 Civilians Killed In Just Two Days in Syria, but The News Is All About Gaza. by The Elephant's Child

article-2180951-144C41A4000005DC-776_634x398-450x282

The outrage over Israel’s attempt to end Hamas’ rocket attacks on their civilians has brought demonstrations in Europe and even here. Hamas goes to great lengths to see that any news is slanted to favor Hamas, for to them any opportunity to discredit Israel or even cause them discomfort  is a triumph over a hated enemy. In other words, you cannot believe Hamas’ counts of civilian deaths or deaths of children. Victor Davis Hanson sums it up:

Hamas sees the death of its civilians as an advantage; Israel sees the death of its civilians as a disaster. Defensive missiles explode to save civilians in Israel; in Gaza, civilians are placed at risk of death to protect offensive missiles.

Hamas wins by losing lots of its people; Israel loses by losing a few of its own. Hamas digs tunnels in premodern fashion; Israel uses postmodern high technology to detect them. Hamas’s missiles usually prove ineffective; Israel’s bombs and missiles almost always hit their targets. Quiet Israeli officers lead from the front; loud Hamas leaders flee to the rear. Incompetency wins sympathy; expertise, disdain. …

Democracy and free markets bring Westerners liberty, human rights, and prosperity — but many Westerners scorn these things in Israel, siding with those who deny human rights, ruin their economy, and practice a brutal prejudice against women, gays, and non-Muslims. In Gaza, a gay reporter, a female reporter with bare arms, a reporter with a small crucifix around his neck, the rare journalist who, surrounded by screaming Hamas supporters, dares to broadcast the truth from Gaza — all these in private would admit to being in fear while they are in Gaza in a way they are not when in Israel.

More Muslims were killed in two days in Syria than in the entire Hamas/Gaza War. More than 700 people were killed in Syria over last Thursday and Friday in some of the bloodiest days in that conflict to date. Assad is taking advantage of a media environment in which most everything else is ignored to concentrate on Gaza. That’s what civilian casualties look like in a real war. In Gaza, residents are warned when the IDF is going to demolish a tunnel, they get leaflets telling them what parts of Gaza are perfectly safe. The IDF is not only not interested in killing civilians, they try desperately to avoid it, for they are only interested in destroying tunnels and missile bases. Hamas sends civilians to the sites that are going to be attacked to act as human shields, and if they are killed, Israel can be blamed.

According to Twitter and Google, an NBC journalist reported they had personally witnessed an Israeli drone attack and fire on a he main hospital in Gaza. The report was shortly completely scrubbed. Israelis say they have confirmed that the Gazan hospital was hit by rockets fired in Gaza by Hamas, not by Israel or an Israeli drone. I understand that Gaza has only the one major hospital, the one where Hamas  has it’s leadership’s bunker buried underneath the hospital. One hundred rockets fired from Gaza have fallen within Gaza.

Israel was celebrated by the left when it was represented by socialist kibbutzim, with happy workers tilling the fields. When it fought a war against the Arabs of the Middle East and won, they quit being celebrated. I have a hunch, which may be wrong, that the left is deeply influenced by words like “refugee camps,” “poverty,” “blockade,” ” border fence,”  and conversely odd ideas about the Jews controlling governments or industries.  Oddly, this time around, Israel is supported by Egypt and Jordan, and even the Fatah Palestinian faction that runs the West Bank want Hamas to become weaker.

The picture above is of a pleasant Syrian neighborhood.



Obama Creates New Job-Training Plan, Then Floods Job Market With Illegals. by The Elephant's Child

President Obama has announced “The First Significant Legislative Reform of Our Job-Training System in a Number of Years: The ‘Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act,” which he signed into law last week. I remain skeptical. Our experience with green jobs, crumbling roads and bridges, or something like 45 or 50 federal job-training programs that were duplicative or useless didn’t work out well.

The president tasked Vice President Biden with a review of our country’s job-training programs to make sure that they have one mission; training our workers with the skills employers need, and matching them to good jobs that need to be filled right now.

About the time that Obama was boasting about all the green jobs his various green energy programs were going to create, I was getting some additional insulation for my attic. Obama had a lot of programs going to train people to better insulate houses. A little perusal of the phone book demonstrated that there were lots of small companies already selling insulation services, and hurting in a down economy because they didn’t have enough work.

It turned out that there weren’t all that many “green jobs”anyway, and when the government tried to list them, the list contained garbage truck drivers, bus drivers, accountants, all sorts of occupations that seemed a real stretch to call “green. Turned out the wind turbines and solar arrays were installed by factory representatives that did a one-time install and that job was over. All that remained was maintenance. And most of the green energy companies went bankrupt in short order anyway.

What has continued to bother me is the clear attitude of the administration that things like job training should be the province of the government. What do a bunch of bureaucrats who have never worked in the private sector know about job training? But there is this certainty that a program or a policy requires a governmental expert to devise the program and be in charge of the program. I have seen no evidence that most of the people in government are experts.

I labor under the conviction that there is very little that is done by the government that is well done or efficient or well designed, or even necessary. The government’s number one job is national defense, and no administration has ever done such a bumbling job of it.  Now they are slashing the military to the size it was before World War II!

We lost a lot of good men who tried to do battle with inadequate and obsolete equipment and waiting for trained replacements, quite specifically because our government was unready and unprepared for war. In 1933 the Army of the United States numbered 137,000 men, 16th in size in the world. The French army was 5 million. In 1940, Hitler invaded France. U.S.  conscription was reinstituted and by Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941, the army had grown to 1,640,000. With our entry into WWII, the army expanded to 8,300,000— not very well trained and poorly equipped, but the Arsenal of Democracy was just tuning up.

“The bill I’m about to sign,” [Obama] said, “will give communities more certainty to invest in job-training programs for the long run.” He added that the bill will help bring those training programs into the 21st century by “building on what we know works based on evidence, and based on tracking what actually delivers” for those who enroll in the programs — more partnerships with employers, tools to measure performance, and flexibilities for states and cities to innovate and run their training programs in ways best suited for their particular demographics and particular industries.

The problem is the conviction that government must do it all, that government is full of wise experts who will direct the ordinary folk:

Before the signing, the Vice President presented the President with the “roadmap” he asked for in the State of the Union — on “how to keep and maintain the highest-skilled workforce in the world.” The report highlights successful job-training programs, details executive actions by the federal government, and aims to help more Americans in getting and moving up in high-demand jobs and careers.

Most colleges and universities do a poor job of preparing students for employment. Most community colleges try to have good occupational programs, and there are lots of vocational schools around. Are they all ineffective? Can the federal government do better? I doubt it.

It’s my experience that a growing economy produces jobs, and when the free market is set free, it starts growing. Business today is hampered by a swamp of regulation. Every time Obama wants to expand, they are swamped with new rules, red tape, new expenses, and new costs for doing business.

Today comes news that Obama is planning “something dramatic,” “very significant” executive action on immigration by summer’s end. US Rep. Luis Gutierrez expects” 3 or 4 maybe even 5 million covered by executive order. Some are expecting granting the ability to apply for work permits. This would be a typical Obama move, with one hand starting a new “jobs program,” with the other — making illegal aliens eligible for jobs. That’s the kind of thing he has been doing for 5 years.

The specter of thousands of unaccompanied children, mainly from Central America, crossing the Texas border has increased a sense of urgency among the American people for reforming the immigration system despite inaction by a “broken Congress,” Dan Pfeiffer, the president’s deputy communications director told the Christian Science Monitor. That gives the president “broad permission” to take action, said Pfeiffer, adding that Obama is consulting with Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Secretary Jeh Johnson to be sure his planned action will on “solid legal footing” and have maximum impact.

 



Pay No Attention to World Crisis, Let’s Attack American Business by The Elephant's Child

Well, the world is aflame, nothing is going well, and President Obama in his weekly address takes on American international corporations who have moved their headquarters overseas. And he proves once again that he does not understand business or the free market at all.

Hi, everybody. Our businesses have now added nearly 10 million new jobs over the past 52 months. The unemployment rate is at its lowest point since September 2008 – the fastest one-year drop in nearly 30 years.  401(k)s are growing, fewer homes are underwater, and for the first time in more than a decade, business leaders around the world have declared that the world’s number one place to invest isn’t China; it’s the United States of America – and our lead is growing.

None of this is an accident.  It’s thanks to the resilience and resolve of the American people that our country has recovered faster and come farther than almost any other advanced nation on Earth.

But all those jobs that ave been added— are mostly part-time jobs, because the incentives in ObamaCare made it advisable for businesses to cut their low wage workers back to less than 30 hours a week. They now need to fill the other half of those jobs with more part-time workers. Nobody profits from that. We still have something like 92 million working-age people who have given up looking for work. Obama, in attempting to demonize American international corporations as “un-American” and “not patriotic,” and as “renouncing their citizenship”, demonstrates nothing so much as that he has no understanding of business and how businesses operate nor of the free market.

The slowest recovery from any downturn in history is not due to the resilience and resolve of the American people. Our country has not recovered. Business does not exist to be patriotic, or because everyone loves going to work, but it exists to make a profit. Profit is not a bad word as some lefties think, but a return on investment. If a business cannot turn a profit, they won’t be in business for long. President Obama has been warned over and over that we have the highest corporate taxes in the world, and he needs to lower them to avoid what is happening right now. Obama loves to talk about “fair share,” but no one is obligated to pay more taxes than they have to. I can promise you that Mr. Obama’s accountant takes every possible deduction to which the president is entitled, as do the crony capitalists he hits up for campaign donations.  You have noticed that when he takes a trip to the West Coast for a round of fundraisers and golf, he usually sticks in a speech at some college so the trip is not a campaign expense— but an expense for the taxpayers.

“But when some companies cherrypick their taxes, it damages the country’s finances. It adds to the deficit. It makes it harder to invest in the things that will keep America strong, and it sticks you with the tab for what they stash offshore. Right now, a loophole in our tax laws makes this totally legal —and I think that’s totally wrong. You don’t get to pick which rules you play be, or which tax rate you pay, and neither should these companies.” Oh please.  Mr. I can’t possibly cut anything out of the budget, nor cut back on my vastly overblown expenses. We have to pretend that if a company legally lowers the taxes they have to pay, since it is legal, it is unpatriotic?  That kind of pandering should be beneath you.

I am really sick of this “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for” rhetoric. Is there some way we could make it a requirement that anyone running for the office of president has to have taken at least 3 courses in economics?”

If you want an economy that functions and grows, you have to make it reasonably easy for business to grow and hire and create opportunity. Growth and opportunity are not created by government, but by the free market.



The Painful Truth About Wal-Mart! by The Elephant's Child

The Left has a remarkably long list of things they hate, but Wal-Mart is right up there close to the top. I’ve never been sure quite why. They are “Big Box Retailers”, they go into small towns and drive out all those mom-and-pop stores out of business, and destroy good paying jobs. They drive down wages when they invade a town. Wal-Mart wages are humiliating and force employees to use food stamps, Medicaid and other forms of welfare. And you’ve probably seen the photos of the “Wall-Mart people,” poorly dressed people, fat people — just not our kind.

Researchers at Stanford and University of Michigan business schools looked into the facts about Wal-Mart.  When they crunched the numbers they found that wages are much higher at the big Box stores, and are much higher than at the mom-and-pop stores.Worker pay rises “markedly,” says Investors, “as the size of the company or the size of the store increases.”

Worker pay, in fact, rises “markedly” as the size of the company or the size of the store increases. Those with some college education, the researchers found, make 36% more at a Wal-Mart-size megastore than one employing fewer than 10 workers. Those with just a high school education do 26% better.

A paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research also found that workers who move from a corner store to a megastore do better financially. Someone with a high school education will typically get a pay boost of 19% by making the switch.

What’s more, big box retailers offer far more opportunities for advancement than do small ones, with pay supervisors and managers especially advancing.

For those who think Wal-Mart pays “humiliating” wages, the average hourly pay for a cashier is $8.48, which is 17% higher than the minimum wage, and is just pennies less than what the average barista makes at Starbucks, the researchers found. Assistant managers at Wal-Mart make about $10,000 more a year, on average, than those at Starbucks.

A number of years ago, the big complaint was that Wal-Mart was helping their workers to get food stamps, which proved just how awful Wal-Mart was. This was during the Bush administration, and Wal-Mart was quite involved with the “welfare to work” program. To make it easier for new workers to manage the transition from welfare to a job, companies participating in the program were required by the government to help the new workers to get food stamps. Sometimes you just can’t please the Left, no matter what you do.

Some cities have tried to prevent Wal-Mart from going into areas where they might serve less affluent communities, under the illusion that Wal-Mart would take advantage of the poor and unemployed, thus depriving them of good jobs and the opportunity to save on merchandise.

Wal-Mart has enormous buying power, and buying in large quantity means cheaper prices. There are more jobs, higher pay and lower prices for customers. We shouldn’t be surprised that liberal elites hate Wal-Mart.



Why Yes, We Knew — We Just Didn’t Do Anything About It! by The Elephant's Child

Weren’t we told by the administration that they were blindsided by the rapid advance by ISIS last month when Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city fell to this new jihadi army that seemed to come out of nowhere? They not only captured Mosul, but five divisions of the Iraqi army fell and we heard of mass executions, beheadings, crucifixions, and terrified residents fled before the onslaught as the long column headed towards Baghdad.

The administration, according to the record was not surprised at all. Congressional testimony as far back as November made it cleat that the United States had been closely tracking the black-clad jihadis, a ruthless al Qaeda spinoff. Intelligence officials had been closely tracking the group since 2012.

According to McClatchy, Obama administration officials were quite aware of the group’s intention to send men and material back into Iraq and turn loose waves of suicide bombers, which they knew that Iraqi security forces could not handle. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Brett McGurk told a House committee in February that the campaign had the stated objective of carving out a Caliphate in the western regions of Iraq and Syria.

So — if the Obama administration had all that advance warning why are they still trying to figure out what steps, if any, they should take to stop their advance? With all the pictures of the long ISIS column strung out on the road to Baghdad, it looked like a pretty vulnerable target, but I’ve probably read too many thrillers.

They’ve seized all sorts of Iraqi military equipment, drained banks of their assets, seized oil and natural gas fields, military outposts. Nearly every day we hear about another town that has fallen or another outrage they have committed.

What started as a crisis in Syria has become a regional disaster with serious global implications,” Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Wednesday.

Yet Defense Department officials say they might not complete work on proposed options for U.S. actions until the middle of August, a lifetime in a region where every day brings word of another town or village falling to the Islamic State. Some lawmakers and experts say the delay borders on diplomatic malpractice.

Chairman Royce said Iraqi officials and diplomats at our embassy began urging drone strikes as early as August last year against Islamic State bases near the Syrian border.

This was a very clear case in which the U.S. knew what was going on but followed a policy of deliberate neglect,” said Vali Nasr, the dean of Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies and a former State Department adviser on the Middle East.

“This miscalculation essentially has helped realize the worst nightmare for this administration, an administration that prided itself on its counterterrorism strategy,” said Nasr. “It is now presiding over the resurgence of a nightmare of extremism and terrorism.”

The article from the Merced Sun Star is long and, frankly, depressing. Dithering, indecision, Obama believes one of his greatest accomplishments is ending the war in Iraq, he can’t undo that. Drawing red lines in Syria, misunderstanding the Middle East. Obama came to office believing that the key to the problems of the Middle East was Israeli intransigence. If he could broker a peace agreement between Israel and Palestine, then the problems of the Middle East would end. That’s why Kerry has been over there wearing out his welcome, pushing absurd agreements. Obama seems to have learned about the Middle East from his friend Rashid Khalidi, the firebrand Palestinian professor.

Matt Lewis of The Daily Caller has a column in Britain’s Telegraph today, suggesting that “Barack Obama has already checked out of his job,” in which he suggests that Obama is “no longer even worried about keeping up appearances, he doesn’t care enough to fake it.”

The United States has apparently not yet delivered the helicopter gunships and F-16 jet fighters that Iraq has already purchased. The administration has also dragged its feet on Baghdad’s request for U.S. military advisers, though 300 were dispatched after Mosul fell. Obama doesn’t seem to get along with Maliki. George W. Bush had weekly video conferences with him.

Gaza’s charter says they will eliminate Israel and take over the land. That’s fairly clear and straightforward. The Islamic State says they have established a new Caliphate in Syria and Iraq, and then…? Putin is still busily working to take over the Ukraine, al Qaeda is threatening a cyber attack on the United States. We have thousands of children, (mostly between the ages of 14 and 17) who are being recruited by MS-17.  Obama says he wants to send them back home, but he is settling them in all over the country, and schools will be expected to take the kids. The border is wide open because Border Patrol people have been called away to deal with the ‘unaccompanied children’, and security officials are worried. More businesses are moving their corporate offices overseas to escape taxes, and Obama can’t think of anything to do but punish them. Cutting taxes is not in his vocabulary.

What’s the old saying? Ask me no questions, and I’ll tell you no lies.



The Origins of Liberalism: A New History by The Elephant's Child

The “narrative” of the Left, to use a newly favorite leftist word, contains a view of America as “an exceptionally guilty nation, the product of a poisonous mixture of territorial rapacity emboldened by racism, violence, and chauvinistic religious conviction, an exploiter of natural resources and despoiler of natural beauty and order such as the planet has never seen.” ( Thank you, Howard Zinn) So says Wilfrid M. McClay in a review of Fred Siegel’s new book: The Revolt Against the MassesThere is as well a second view “in which all of history is seen as a struggle toward the greater and greater liberation of the individual, and the greater and greater integration of all governance in larger and larger units, administered; by cadres of experts actuated by the public interest and by a highly developed sense of justice.”

It’s an important book, “a critique of liberalism by someone who came out of the left.” Siegel believes that liberalism has come to be the mortal enemy of the ordinary working people who are the backbone of America.

Siegel traces modern liberalism back, not to Woodrow Wilson’s progressivism, but to the aftermath of World War I, and the intelligentsia’s view of  the dreary middle class nature of American society.

Between January of 1920 and July of 1922 when the Twenties began to roar, the country endured an economic collapse nearly as steep as that between 1929 and 1933. But the plummet was followed by a rapid recovery under Harding, who was devoted to less government through lower taxes and less regulation. This might have seemed a vindication of the American way, particularly as compared with Europe’s ongoing woes. But the short, sharp downturn, resolved without government intervention, drew only passing intellectual attention. Literary elites soon returned to their central themes. …

[The radicals of 1922] many of them Harvard men, were driven by resentment. The so-called lost generation…was “extremely class-conscious.” They had “‘a vague belief in aristocracy and in the possibilities of producing real aristocrats through education.” They went to Europe “to free themselves from organized stupidity, to win their deserved place in the hierarchy of intellect.” They felt that their status in America’s business culture was grossly inadequate, given their obviously exceptional intelligence and extraordinary talent. Their simmering anger at what they saw as the mediocrity of democratic life led them to pioneer the now commonplace stance of blaming society for their personal failings. Animated by patrician spirit, they found the leveling egalitarianism of the United States an insult to their sense of self-importance.

Well, the radicals of 1922, the radicals of the sixties, not all that much difference. The Democrats of 2014 have a remarkably squalid bench. Hillary is supposed to be the first woman president, but her accomplishment list is scanty, her tenure as Secretary of State is measured in frequent-flyer miles, and a “reset” button. Her tenure as a senator in a safe Democrat seat has nothing to add to the resume. Her claim to qualifications is as Bill’s wife. If you remember, she started out the Clinton reign by wanting to be the co-president. The people were not impressed. Bill was a natural political animal. Hillary simply does not have his political instincts.

The alternate to Hillary is being drummed up as Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) the faux-Indian law professor from Harvard, who is unable to understand the simple direct meaning of the Hobby Lobby case. She issued her “11 commandments” for Progressives this week, which only show that her understanding of cause and effect, and how regulation works is remarkably thin.

Tom Sowell recently pointed out that: “The fundamental problem of the political Left seems to be that the real world does not fit their preconceptions. Therefore they see the real world as what is wrong, and what needs to be changed, since apparently their preconceptions cannot be wrong.”

As I said, the new word is “disproportionate” Sowell adds: “A never-ending source of grievances for the Left is the fact that some groups are ‘over-represented’ in desirable occupations, institutions, and income brackets, while other groups are ‘under-represented.’ From all the indignation and outrage about this expressed on the left, you might think that it was impossible that different groups are simply better at different things.”

Yet runners from Kenya continue to win a disproportionate share of marathons in the United States, and children whose parents or grandparents came from India have won most of the American spelling bees in the past 15 years. And has anyone failed to notice that the leading professional basketball players have for years been black, in a country where most of the population is white?

Most of the leading photographic lenses in the world have — for generations — been designed by people who were either Japanese or German. Most of the leading diamond-cutters in the world have been either India’s Jains or Jews from Israel or elsewhere. …

If the preconceptions of the Left were correct, central planning by educated elites who had vast amounts of statistical data at their fingertips and expertise readily available, and were backed by the power of government, should have been more successful than market economies where millions of individuals pursued their own individual interests willy-nilly.

And to return to where I began, with Wilfrid McClay: “The arrogance that looks upon the actual lives of ordinary people with pity and disdain is, at least potentially, the same arrogance that knows what would be better for those pathetic folks, and presumes itself fit to impose upon them a new way of life that is more fitting and fulfilling than their present condition, had they the wit to realize it.”



American Industry Speaks Out: The Clean Power Plan Is Not Workable! by The Elephant's Child

American industry has a message for the Environmental Protection Agency: your new plan for climate regulation is “not workable.”

The Partnership for a Better Energy Future, which represents 140 organizations, sent a letter to EPA chief Gina McCarthy Monday night calling on her to extend the public comment period for the new rules, make drastic changes to the proposal and hold more public hearings across the U.S.

“We are all going to tell the EPA that this regulation is simply not workable,” Jay Timmons, CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), said on a call with reporters Tuesday to promote the industry push against the rules.

The EPA said it will hold four public hearings across the country on its proposal which mandates that by 2030 states cut carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants by 30 percent from 2005 levels.

Not enough! according to Timmons, the CEOs of the Chamber of Commerce, American Petroleum Institute, the National Mining Association, American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers and more groups as well.

“There is obviously going to be legal action in the future,” Timmons said. “We would like to see the rule altered and see the agency stop and listen to constituents and consumers that will be most impacted.”

“But assuming all things stay as they are, then we’ll see some action in the courts,” he added.

Liz Purchia, EPA spokeswoman, said the agency “is pleased by the tremendous public interest in the proposed Clean Power Plan” and it plans to respond to the letter from the Partnership for a Better Energy Future.  I suspect that the response cannot be characterized as “tremendous public interest,” but a bit more negatively.

“Already, we have received nearly 300,000 comments on the proposal. In the first 25 business days following the proposal, we have met with 60 groups and we are continuing our outreach through the 120-day comment period,” Purchia said.

Administrator Gina McCarthy expressed confidence that the rules are legally sound. Maybe so, but the science they are depending on is completely phony. CO² is not a pollutant, is not the cause of global warming, there has been no warming for over 17 years, and if they want to eliminate CO² they will eliminate life itself. Carbon is one of the building blocks of life. Next they will want to regulate the CO² we exhale with each breath. Come to think of it, there’s a Henry Payne cartoon on just that:

pic_cartoon_060514_new_A


The Eternal Battle Between Left and Right. by The Elephant's Child

134859_640 Flags

Trying to succinctly describe the differences between the American Left and the American Right is a long-running and fascinating  game for both parties. Liberals, as I often note, have told us specifically that they do not have principles—meaning they are not stuck with some old-fashioned, worn-out principles as a guide to how to behave. That is not intended as a compliment. They react, they say, to events, responding on a case by case basis. Much more noble.

Republicans do have principles which they believe are time-tested and proven to be effective and useful in human life. Things like equality of opportunity, free markets and free people, and small government. Those principles serve as a guide to actions, and research into how things work are a better guide to satisfactory policies.

Liberals react to things emotionally. For example, a UPI piece from Pew Research on the “Global Attitudes Project”poll says:

A new poll offers details on the way citizens of the world think about climate change, and U.S. participants are looking particularly ignorant to the risks of global warming. Only one in four Americans said climate change was a “major threat,” making the U.S. the least concerned nation. (emphasis added)

If we disagree with the “consensus” we must be ignorant. But nobody checks to see if there actually is a “consensus” among scientists. Emotional response.  No, there actually is no consensus.  And “consensus” isn’t science.

Here’s another from Investors, today: “For the Left, ‘Children’ Are the Battering Ram to Force Amnesty.”

Immigration: The White House and open-borders lobby have stepped up pressure for amnesty by painting the migrant tsunami as a flood of toddlers. But a Pew study, citing Border Patrol data, shows that more than half the entrants are teenage males.  (emphasis added)

Here’s another example from Investors, by Robert Samuelson: Although a man of the Left, he suggests “To Keep corporations Here, Why Not Cut Their Taxes?”

Corporate America’s latest public-relations disaster comes under the banner “tax inversion,” where a U.S. company shifts its legal headquarters to a country with a lower tax rate.

He goes on to show how Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and President Obama have charged the corporations as lacking in “economic patriotism.” Emotional response. Make a law against them. Keep them from doing so. Far better would be to reduce the corporate tax to something close to the normal corporate tax among industrialized nations. We do have the highest corporate tax in the world. Their first and only response is to prevent corporations from what is a valid business decision.

ObamaCare was a program built on emotion. Liberals thought that we should offer everyone free health care like European states did. Everyone would be so grateful to Liberals for that gift that they would forever vote Liberals into power. They looked at Britain’s way of controlling expense by limiting the costs of old folks in their final years, and loved it. No old geezer should be able to have a hugely expensive operation when they might have only months to live anyway. But they never looked into the way the program really worked in Britain, or Canada, or France or Germany. Their bright ideas don’t work. What were expected to be money savers aren’t. Tom Sowell stated the whole problem simply and clearly:

It is amazing that people who think we cannot afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, and medication somehow think that we can afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, medication and a government bureaucracy to administer it.

They imposed ideas they thought would save money, or be especially popular, or would give them more control, but they didn’t check how those ideas work in the real world, they just rushed it through on pure emotion and are astounded at the complaints from doctors, patients, insurance companies, hospitals and suppliers. And it’s all falling apart.

Wind and solar energy are emotional responses to perceived evils of fossil fuels. Wind and solar energy are presumed to be free because they are “natural.” But a turbine only turns at the right speed to produce energy when the wind is at the right speed. But the wind is intermittent, and requires 24/7 backup from a conventional power source, which makes the energy produced expensive, and slight. And it kills way too many birds. Eagles may become endangered  if the kill rate continues. If subsidies are removed, wind is not worthwhile.

Solar is about the same problem. You only get energy with 24/7 backup, because clouds cause problems. Solar energy is too diffuse, unavailable at night, and in some locations simply fries birds in flight. If subsidies are removed, it’s not worthwhile. These things were known before the big investments in wind and solar, but emotional attachment to “free energy” trumped common sense.

Over and over you will find Liberals responding to or devising policy based on their feelings about the subject. They don’t do their homework, and they don’t think through the unintended consequences. They don’t seem to understand incentives.

Republicans don’t always get their policies right, and unintended consequences come back and bite them. Human beings are complicated and not only don’t agree on everything, but often don’t agree on much. There are lots of differing opinions in the big tent we hope to have, and creating successful policies to help Americans and their allies and enemies to do things that turn out well is not easy, and results are not always a success. But if we work with an open mind and an inclusive attitude, and an appreciation for human folly, we might not do too badly if we do our homework.



How to Talk About The Border Crisis — Even to a Liberal. by The Elephant's Child

childhood-immigration-flood-620x396
Everyone talks about “comprehensive immigration reform” but fails to explain just what they mean by the term. And to no one’s surprise, they don’t mean the same thing at all. Mark Krikorian, who heads the Center for Immigration Studies wrote today:

The president’s framing of the unprecedented surge of illegal aliens turning themselves into border officials in the expectation of being allowed to stay in the United States, as an “urgent humanitarian situation”, is only partially correct. The phase is designed to misdirect public attention away from the more damming truths of the surge; it is equally, if not more so, a crisis of enforcement, governing, and the president’s responsibility to carry out his oath of office. It is an ethical issue for the public as well as the president.

None of these considerations are captured or even suggested by the administration’s preferred phasing. Nor are they meant to do so.

At City Journal, Myron Magnet points out that there are really two immigration debates. Three billionaires writing in the New York Times want more immigrants with  advanced degrees and investment capital. Silicon Valley magnates want more H1-B visas for tech PhDs, though Magnet has noticed that some of these very magnates have conspired to fix the wages of their highly qualified engineers by forming illegal non-competitive hiring pacts, so who knows what the real demand for high tech skills is? According to other sources we have more STEM graduates than there are STEM jobs. Magnet says:

But this argument has nothing whatever to do with the massed children at our southern border, admitted through a foolish loophole unintentionally created by the Bush administration and exploited by the Obama regime as a way of changing the character of the American people, both by enlarging the underclass whom Democrats can claim it is their mission to rescue with ever more generous welfare programs, and by creating yet more Democratic voters, if these kids ever become citizens—or if they become anchor babies who can then legally bring in their parents and siblings under our existing, and harmful, family-unification immigration policy.

Victor Davis Hanson says that “The last thing a liberal proponent of immigration reform wants is liberal immigration reform. Remember that paradox, and the insanity at the border makes some sense.

In truth, no one in the open-borders coalition wants anything approaching comprehensive immigration reform. Advocates are embarrassed about the present mess at the border not because thousands of foreign nationals, many of them unescorted children and teens, from Latin America, without skills or education, are flocking illegally across the border after largely taking the amnesty cue from Barack Obama, but because they are doing so in such dramatic fashion that the influx has aroused the ire and worry of the American people and exposed illegal immigration to be a callous and illiberal enterprise, promoted by a coalition of self-interested political operatives, commercial concerns, and ethnic chauvinists. …

Such legislation would first have to make border security the top priority. And that would entail three unpalatable requisites.

The first step would be the completion of the fence. Fences do work. That is why, for example, former mayor of Los Angeles and open-borders advocate Antonio Villaraigosa (“We don’t need to build walls, we need to build bridges”) became the first mayor in Los Angeles history to insist on a six-foot-high security fence around his official mayoral residence in Windsor Square, or why the White House, the homes of Silicon Valley billionaires, and the vacation homes of the elite on Martha’s Vineyard all have security fences. How odd that we are lectured about the Neanderthal nature of secure borders by elites who are about the only ones in America who demand them around their own estates.

Then turn back all who crossed illegally, and let that be known. Until deterrence is established, more guards on the border. Then meritocratic legal immigration, ethnically blind and predicated on merit rather than on proximity to the southern border. If just 10 percent of the existing resident-alien pool had criminal records or no record of gainful employment that would mean 1 or 2 million would have to be deported.

And finally, a piece I have mentioned before” “How to Think About Immigration” by Kevin D. Williamson.

The influx of children across our southern border is troubling. First, because they are not all children—not by a sight—but images of children are useful for stirring emotions to muddy the policy waters. Second, because it is not all that unusual; As the Wall street Journal reports, between 23,000 and 47,000 minors illegally entered the United States and were apprehended in each of the past five years; in 2013, we ordered only 3s,525 deportations, suggesting that something on the order of nine in ten, or more, of minor illegal aliens—again, of the number apprehended—are allowed to stay. The number not apprehended is very large, the number of non-minors is very large, and that is how we find ourselves with not millions but tens of millions of illegal aliens resident in these United States.

None of these pieces are long. Read all four and you are well-equipped for an argument with anyone — even a liberal.



An EPA Power Grab for Your Property Rights! by The Elephant's Child

The headline read “EPA pulls back from plan to garnish paychecks.” That particular plan was announced quietly an a Friday right before the 4th of July, the way agencies do when they want no one to notice. But I spotted it and wrote about it on the 8th. This administration has so many agencies and departments overstepping the bounds that it’s hard to pick a worst, but the EPA is right at the top of the list, for sheer crookedness.

The Washington Times reported last Wednesday that:

The Environmental Protection Agency bowed to fierce criticism Wednesday and announced that it had hit the brakes on a fast-tracked plan to collect fines by garnishing paychecks of accused polluters.

I was so pleased that I got up and did a little dance around my computer. But then I read the following paragraph:

The agency, which has come under withering attacks from Republican lawmakers for attempting a “power grab,” said it still intended to pursue the new authority to garnish wages without a court order. But now it will follow a more typical and longer review process.           

Opponents of the wage-garnish rule applauded EPA’s decision. But the EPA vowed to press on with its plan to snatch fines directly out of Americans’ paychecks.   (emphasis added)

Senator David Vitter (R-LA) ranking Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee who had battled the proposed rule said, “It’s about time this abuse-prone agency listened to Congress and backtrack on a rule that was clearly an egregious power grab to garnish private citizen’s wages.” Doesn’t sound like they are listening.

This rule (published as close to secrecy as a federal agency can manage) was issued on July 2 in a notice in the Federal Register as a “direct final rule” that would automatically take effect on September 2 unless the EPA received adverse public comment by August 1.

The only improvement seems to be that since they received  comments, they have extended the comment period until September 2. They claim they are required to participate in Treasury’s debt-collection program — the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 (one of Bill Clinton’s) to garnish wages.

What or who gives them the authority to levy fines of, in the case of Wyoming welder Andy Johnson for building a pond on his property, $75,000 a day. That’s up from the fine they imposed on the Sacketts for their supposed “wetland” on a standard residential lot overlooking Priest Lake in Idaho, which was $37,500 a day and they said the Sacketts could contest their action legally. The Supreme Court slapped down the EPA for that one, and made sure the Sacketts got their day in court.

It apparently was revealed in a remark by an EPA official back in 2012. He said:

I was in a meeting once and I gave an analogy to my staff…the Romans used to conquer little villages in the Mediterranean.  They’d go into a little Turkish town somewhere, they’d find the first five guys they saw and they would crucify them. And then you know that town was really easy to manage for the next few years.

Ans so you make examples of people who are in this case not compliant with the law. Find people who are not compliant with the law, and you hit them as hard as you can and you make examples out of them, and there is a deterrent effect there.

And companies that are smart see that they don’t want to play that game and they decide at that point that it’s time to clean up.

And, that won’t happen unless you have somebody out there making examples of people. So you go out, you look at an industry, you find people violating the law, you go aggressively after them. And we do have some pretty effective enforcement tools. Compliance can get very high, very, very quickly.

That’s apparently what those enormous fines are supposed to be about— making the accused so terrified that they will comply immediately and sow terror in the heart of anyone else messing with air, water, soil or plants and animals in any way, though they’ve gone after people for picking up arrowheads as well.

The public lands do not, in my opinion, belong to — the government — but to the people, and we allow the government to manage it for us. Property rights are one of the most fundamental bastions of liberty. When a federal agency tramples all over American citizens’ property rights, it’s time to sit up and take notice.




Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,496 other followers

%d bloggers like this: