American Elephants


Searching for Sleaze and Scandals. Not All Politicians Are Crooks! by The Elephant's Child

There are some things in politics that are as surefire as the sun coming up in the morning. One is that Liberal activists will be out digging through old newspapers, searching the internet, gossip columns, and talking to anyone that might have it in for the object of their search. Their goal is — Scandal!

Republicans take such things seriously. Representative Michael Grimm (R-NY) was persuaded to announce that he would resign his seat next week after pleading guilty to a felony federal tax charge. Republicans believe that if you are going to represent the people in Congress and making laws, you can’t be a crook. Democrats are not so particular.

Well, Big Scandal! Steve Scalise (R-LA) the Majority Whip, may have spoken to a group associated with segregationist David Duke some twelve years ago when he was in the Louisiana legislature, and speaking all over the state to every group he could about a new tax program.

If he spoke to a questionable group for 15 minutes about taxes, he is obviously racist.That’s how this kind of thing works. All sorts of people have spoken out about Scalise and said that any claim that he is racist is absurd. As a mere state senator, he didn’t have access to large groups of advisers. Did his advisers not vet the group to which he was to speak? Did Scalise not know? How big a scandal can be made out of a brief speech about taxes twelve years ago? All over the news today with questions about his character. If the Left could get rid of the majority whip that would be a real coup.

There was another civic association  meeting in the same hotel a little before the EURO meeting. Kenny Knight, head of the Jefferson Heights Civic Association  (The other group) insists that it was to this latter group that Scalise spoke. Who knows? Can  you remember what you were doing 12 years ago? Me neither. Doesn’t sound like this one is going  very far as a  notable scandal. There will be more scandals. The diggers for dirt don’t give up easily. It would be interesting to know just how that works.

People are inclined to presume that politicians are sleazy. Campaign cash. Lobbyists. Big money. Favors for donors. Cocktail parties. Loose women.  How come nobody ever says “loose men?” There are lots of temptations in the hothouse of national politics, but there are also some good men (and women) trying to do their best for the American people.



The Obama Administration Has Imposed 75,000 Pages of New Regulations on the People This Year.. by The Elephant's Child

Regulations cannot be written to adequately cover all situations. Rules and regulations are making it harder to do the right thing.

Philip K. Howard explained in a column  on Saturday how red tape is strangling good Samaritans:

In January 2014, a lifelong District of Columbia parks employee, Medric Mills, collapsed while walking with his grown daughter. They were across the street from a fire station, close enough for his daughter to yell for help. Mills was lying on the sidewalk, dying, right in front of people trained to save him. But they refused to cross the street to help because, they told bystanders, the rules required them instead to call 911. By the time the ambulance arrived, over 10 minutes later, it was too late—Mills died soon after arriving at the hospital.

This is how many public safety officers are trained nowadays. In 2011, firemen in Alameda County refused to rescue a suicidal man who had swum out to sea because they hadn’t yet been re-certified for “land-based water rescues.” Therefore, they explained to passers-by, it would be illegal for them to try to save the man’s life. Later that day, when the fire chief was asked by a reporter what he would have done if it had been a drowning child, he said, “Well, if I was off duty I would know what I would do, but I think you’re asking me my on-duty response and I would have to stay within our policies and procedures because that’s what’s required by our department to do.”

Law is essential to freedom because it safeguards citizens against misconduct and abuse. By drawing boundaries against wrongful conduct, law provides a protective zone of freedom within those boundaries. …

Modern law goes a giant step backwards — it often bars people from doing what’s right. Law’s proper role is now seen as instructing people how to make daily choices. Instead of providing the framework for freedom, law has replaced it, creating a legal minefield rather than an open field for free choice

If you have had a doctor’s appointment this past year, or even a hospital stay, you nay have noticed the complexities arising from a batch of new rules and regulations imposed by ObamaCare.

We  have all seen dozen of stories about school principals slavish adherence to zero tolerance policies, resulting in the utmost stupidity and punishing or expelling a child for behavior that is just being a normal kid.

When regulations don’t work, they are ‘fixed’ by adding another regulation on top. Slowly, slowly it becomes impossible for government to do anything.

We have a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) which theoretically forces government agencies to release needed information on a timely basis, yet FOIA requests sit moldering in inboxes for years. We are told that we desperately need a new electric grid, and even more urgently we need to harden off the grid from a potential EMP attack — yet Howard says in his book The Rule of Nobody, that it simply cannot be done. There are too many jurisdictions with differing laws, there is nobody in charge who can override the restrictions already enacted into law.

The situation as it is — deteriorating — is made far worse by the Liberal belief that the job of the Washington elite is to fix things by regulating bad behavior, which is often defined as anything with which they do not agree. They really, really don’t like disagreement.

There are no signs that eliminating bad law and foolish regulation is high on anyone’s To Do list.

“The Obama administration has proposed or imposed over 1,200 new  regulations on the American people that will add even more to the already crushing $2 trillion  per year cost burden of the federal regulatory machine. …In all the Obama administration foisted more than 75,000 pages of regulations on the United States in 2014, costing over $200 billion, on the low-end if new proposed rules are taken into account.”



Guess What The Federal Government Wants To Ban Now! by The Elephant's Child

dessert-food-ice-cream-sprinkles-yummie-Favim.com-251660The latest gift from the Regulatory State who feel it their duty to tell Americans what to do and how to live their lives. I hope you are keeping track of the government agencies who are exceeding the bounds of common sense and propriety. This time it’s the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The list is getting long.

Perhaps the FDA’s budget needs to be cut back a bit. We are paying for this effort!

Since they have discovered a cure for Cancer and Ebola, these nitwits have turned their  attention to something really important.  They are going to ban sprinkles because they contain small amounts of — trans fats. Trans fats, or hydrogenate oils, have been in our diets since the 1950s to improve shelf life and improve taste. Research has determined that large quantities of trans fats in one’s diet can be dangerous for long-term health. Um, scientific principle: the dose makes the poison.

How many bushels of sprinkles do you think even a really fat kid consumes in a year?

Trans fats were once pushed by liberal groups such as the chief food police organization — The Center for Science in the Public Interest. They condemn almost anything that actually tastes good, and issue constant and questionable reports condemning soft drinks, fat substitutes, irradiated meat, biotech food crops. Lots of questionable lawsuits. They get attention because the group name sounds ‘Sciency’.’

In 1988  the group condemned the use of polyunsaturated and saturated fats then in fashion. Food companies switched to trans-fats for which CSPI happily took credit.

Americans are not enthusiastic about a government that keeps telling them what to do, what to eat, how to live their lives. What do they want from their government? Please — just butt out! Leave us alone. That’s what freedom is all about.



Bewilderment And Anger From The Left! What Went Wrong? by The Elephant's Child

Conservatives everywhere constantly wonder what is the matter with the left, and try to find a satisfactory answer. We just had what can fairly be called a “wave” election.  Republicans will control the House of Representatives by 247 to 188 Democrats. They will control the Senate, by 54 to 44 with 2 independents. The GOP controls the governorship and the legislature in 23 states compared to 7 states for the Democrats. Legislative power has slipped from the hands of the American left.

“Never have liberal ideas been so firmly entrenched within America’s core elite institutions. Never have those institutions been so weak and uninfluential,” said Walter Russell Mead. Democrats were sure that the policies they believed were good government would assure eternal liberal success, instead they turned out to be political poison.

Eric Alterman, a reliable man of the Left, writing in the Nation, cited two core reasons for the disaster — ObamaCare and immigration amnesty.

The Affordable Care Act and the executive order expanding the rights of undocumented immigrants were certainly the right thing to do from the perspective of Democratic values, but both are politically poisonous at present. Obamacare undermines a key Democratic constituency badly in need of help: labor unions. The immigration order fires up anti-immigrant passion among working-class voters while benefiting an ethnic group—Latinos—whose voter-participation levels remain anemic, even allowing for the restrictive election laws passed by Republicans. 

Back to Walter Russell Mead:

Modern American liberalism does its best to suppress dissent and critique (except from the left) at the institutions and milieus that it controls. Dissent is not only misguided; it is morally wrong. Bad thoughts create bad actions, and so the heretics must be silenced or expelled. “Hurtful” speech is not allowed, and so the eccentricities of conventional liberal piety pile up into ever more improbable, ever more unsustainable forms.

This is a pretty heady admission from a man of the Left., and he goes even further.  He admits that liberals “live in liberal cocoons, read cocooning news sources, and work in professions and milieus where liberal ideas are as prevalent and as uncontroversial as oxygen.”

What liberals have lost is any connection to common sense. They don’t have any.  So cocooned that they have no idea what Republicans think or stand for. There is no anti-immigrant passion on the right. It isn’t about immigrants, who are welcomed; it is about the “undocumented” part. We have immigration laws and expect them to be obeyed.

The Affordable Care Act was a complete fraud from the beginning. Useless benefits were piled at the front end to get people signed up for bad insurance, and then paid for by cutting payment to physicians and hospitals so much that no one could find care, and the “insurance” became clearly unaffordable. The solution to that would be to nationalize all doctors and hospitals, and turn it into a single-payer plan of the kind that everyone else in the world is trying to get out of because it doesn’t work, and kills off its participants.

Other than that, in his criticism of the liberal project, Alterman mentions that Republicans are anti-immigrant; restrict voting rights; are fanatics; their views of science, economics and pretty much anything else are crazy; are only the party of “Hell No!”; against policies that would help the poor such as Medicaid, and Democrats are barely less dependent on big-money donors than Republicans. Whew! Wrong on every point — and embarrassingly so, proving the “cocoon.” Falling in love with an idea rather than the reality is typical of the Left. A patient is unfortunately better off with no insurance than with Medicaid.

And the “party of the rich” is not Republicans. Democrats took in 71% of the $128 million spent by the top 10 individual donors. Among group donations of more than $100,000, the GOP doesn’t even appear on the list until #14. The National Education Association topped the list at $22 million. The much reviled Koch brothers (who are not even Republicans but Libertarians), came in at 23rd. Global warming activist Tom Steyer blew at least $74 million on the midterms. And that’s not even mentioning George Soros’ secretive Democracy Alliance.

Mead says: “In that sense the Obama administration may represent “Peak Left” in American politics, and what we are getting from the left these days is a mix of bewilderment and anger as it realizes that this is as good as it gets.”



Statistics That Will Change the World For Good or Ill by The Elephant's Child

The period between Christmas and New Years is always a strange time. Everybody on the news front has a substitute, does reruns, does best-of, or makes lists. It is the time of year for lists. Can be drummed up quickly and fulfills the need for a column, and the end of a year seems to call for a “summing up.” The best movies, the best books, the funniest cartoons, the best photos, the most admired people, the most important sports events, the most important events ad infinitum. A pox on all their houses.

Robert Samuelson came up with a list of “Best Stats of 2014” which he cheerfully admits he didn’t even collect all the statistics himself proving the significant lack of effort peculiar to the period. I enjoyed it completely, and link to it here. but I will mention a few of my favorites.

— China’s government estimates that by 2020, 30 million eligible bachelors will be unable to find a wife.

— The average teen processes 3,700 texts per month.

— In 2013, more than 40 percent of American births were to unmarried mothers for the sixth consecutive year. (In 1997, the share was 32 percent)

— Only half of American men shave daily.

— Two years after the Newtown school shooting, 52 percent of Americans support gun ownership — up from 32 percent in 2007.

These statistics are all important, but we don’t know how important.  Just how the trends will play out remains to be determined. We have not heard the last of any of them.

(Typo in the gun ownership date fixed)



Wreckage Has Been Found From the Missing AirAsia Flight by The Elephant's Child
December 30, 2014, 3:07 pm
Filed under: Asia, Intelligence, News | Tags: ,

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Wreckage has reportedly been found from Missing AirAsia flight 8501 that disappeared less than an a hour after takeoff Sunday morning. Indonesian rescue teams sighted wreckage in Borneo’s Karimata Straight, some 66 miles southeast of the plane’s last known position. The flight was carrying 162 people when it was lost.

An Official of Indonesia’s Transportation Ministry, speaking from Jakarta confirmed the wreckage was from the body of the plane. Search teams had been racing the clock as bad weather was expected to hamper efforts to find evidence. Foul weather has been suggested as part of the blame, but just why the plane went down is not yet known. AirAsia has pledged support for the families.



Getting Tired of Green Lies? The Ice Is Not Melting. by The Elephant's Child

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Have you heard that the ice is melting at the poles in a clear sign of climate catastrophe? Last night I was listening to a podcast of the John Batchelor show, and heard an admiral saying how useful drones would be for patrolling the Arctic when it was ice free. Huh?

I was surprised that the idea that the ice at the poles is catastrophically melting has inflicted the military, and apparently military planning.  The ice freezes in the winter and melts some in the summer. Every year.

Ted Maksym, an oceanographer at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts is going to get some grief from the global warming true believers for not adhering to the article of faith that man is overheating the Earth by burning fossil fuels.

Arctic sea ice has reached the largest December extent in a decade. Federal experts will not acknowledge this since their funding depends on a misinformed Congress and gullible public.

“The North and South Poles are ‘not melting,'”the British Express reported on Christmas. “In fact,” the Express said in its coverage of Maksym’s finding, the poles are ‘much more stable ‘ than climate scientists once predicted and could even be much thicker than previously thought.”

The ‘narrative’ in America is that the ice is melting, and you will find little confirmation in the media that that is not the case. Remember the “walrus scare,” the constant assertion that the polar bears are endangered, threatened, dying, suffering because of a lack of ice? It has been a constant story, enlivened by pictures of bears crouched on too-small bits of ice, looking pathetic. Well, never fear.

There is plenty of ice at the poles, north and south. Not melting.



More Abundance of Life: 221 New Species Discovered! by The Elephant's Child

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I have written several times about endangered species that have turned out not to be endangered after all, and even extinct species that turn out not to be extinct. It is a large and complicated Earth, and what seems to be missing in one place may well be abundant elsewhere. The environmental lobby wants desperately to endanger more  and find fewer to enhance their cause.

In 2014, researchers at the California Academy of Sciences added a whopping 221 new plant and animal species to the Earth’s complex web of life. New species, previously unknown, include 110 ants, 16 beetles, 3 spiders, 28 fishes, 24 sea slugs, 2 marine worms, 9 barnacles, 2 octocorals, 25 plants, one waterbear, and one tiny mammal. More than a dozen Academy scientists and several dozen international collaborators described the discoveries — which have been published in 64 different scientific papers.

“Biodiversity scientists estimate that we have discovered less than ten  percent of species on the planet,” says Dr. Meg Lowman, the Academy’s Chief of Science and Sustainability. “Academy scientists tirelessly explore the unexplored regions of Earth — not only to discover new species, but also to uncover the importance of these species to the health of our natural systems.”

The picture is of the tiny new mammal, a sengi, or elephant-shrew, (note the long nose). He comes from the deserts of Namibia. There is also mentioned a gigantic worm-eel, at 55 inches long.  I once stepped on what I assumed to be a 2-3′ long piece of driftwood in the river, which promptly wiggled off and swam away. I had no idea that there were eels in my river. Scared the hell out of me.



The CPSC Wants to Wrap Christmas Up In Red Tape! by The Elephant's Child

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You remember, I am sure, that the  Constitution of the United States of America begins — “We the people.” That is a very big deal indeed, and sets apart our constitution from all others. It is also a reason why ours is the oldest constitution in the world.

That the power is invested in the people makes not the slightest bit of difference to the Left, who assume that our society needs to be controlled and regulated by themselves, because they are smarter than ‘we the people.’ Jonathan Gruber sort of let that slip out.

Christmas lights have become so affordable that even the humblest of homes is able to light up. Can’t have that. Federal bureaucrats are working to end this excess. They claim it will make us safer. Uh huh. Too many bureaucrats getting their ideas of reality from the movies. Chevy Chase in National Lampoon’s “Christmas Vacation” who nearly electrocutes himself, starts fires, falls off the roof and short-circuits his whole neighborhood is not the average American male.  It’s a comedy!

The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) has decided to regulate first, explain why later. In October they proposed new regulations to outlaw strings of bulbs, lighted lawn figures, and similar items that they would declare as hazardous. The red-tape deals with certifying wire sizes , fuses, tensile strength of all “seasonal decorative lighting products.

The agency estimates that their proposed regulations would impact 100 million items per year with a market value of $500 million. Those items are already covered by safety standards and oversight. 3.6 million unsafe lights have been recalled under existing safeguards in place since 1974.

 So Why? They report 250 deaths from fires or electrocutions by Christmas lights. Not per year, but in the past 33 years of statistics. That’s 7 deaths per year attributed to fire or shock from Christmas lights. Eighty percent were back in the 1980s and 90s. There are some Chevy Chases out there. We all do dumb things.

In 2013 there was one death. No regulation can eliminate stupidity. No regulation can assure that no faulty product will slip through. Leftists do not understand ordinary humanity and what should be regulated and what should be dealt with by simply promoting common sense about lights and extension cords. The decline in accidents owes a lot to Underwriters’ Laboratories and more fire-resistant home-building standards.

Can this be another part in Obama’s drive to keep global warming from destroying the Earth? Could be. Most of his save the Earth policies are unrelated to reality. CPSC’s comment period ends on December 30th, so if you want to comment — do it now.



Ten Is A Nice Round Number! by The Elephant's Child
From 2008: The More Things Change The More They Stay the Same

Why are lists of ten popular? Some factoids to keep one sensible.

  1. “Global Warming” hysteria was born and has its entire existence in predictions of future temperatures by computer models; models that have been unable to predict current temperature.
  2. Al Gore and the IPCC were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize, but it was not a science prize, it was the peace prize.
  3. There are no requirements whatsoever to be an ‘environmentalist’. There are more requirements to be a leaf blower or a dishwasher.
  4. Increases in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere follow increases in temperature, sometimes by as much as 500 or 600 years. Cause must precede the event.
  5. ‘Organic’ is a special term that may be used only for produce that is grown with manure as a fertilizer, and poisonous pyrethrums as a pesticide. It is a marketing ploy, not a guide to health or nutrition.
  6. The rich may get richer, as when Bill Gates or Warren Buffet earn more; but the poor do not get poorer. Zero remains zero.
  7. “The poor”may always be with us, but over time, they are not the same people.
  8. Ignorance of the past leaves one open to complete deception in the present and the future.
  9. The world takes particular notice of the flaws of America because we hang them out in public for all to see and comment on.
  10. History clearly teaches us that individual liberty, the essence of America, must be constantly defended from the encroachment of the state.


Obama: Black America is “Better Off Now Than When I Came Into Office” by The Elephant's Child

How about government racketeering? The 2010 Dodd-Frank Act created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Act specifically prohibited the agency from regulating auto dealers which the agency desperately wants to do because — racism. So the agency has gone after the wholesale finance  providers instead. These bulk lenders quote dealers an interest rate that dealers, “mark up” within fixed parameters when negotiating with car buyers.

The CFPB does not allege real bias against anyone, it alleges “disparate impact.” But the government doesn’t know the race or gender of car buyers. Dealers are forbidden to collect this information. Instead the CFPB relies on the “Bayesian Improved Surname Geocoding method” to classify individuals by ethnicity based on their last name, census tract and zip code. The CFPB admits that the method overstates  the African-Americans in the group by 20%. A private study suggests it’s more like 40%. But when pursuing racism to allege, the CFPB will leave no possibility unincluded.

The Bayesian method doesn’t identify skill in bargaining any more than it accurately identifies race and gender, but they charge ahead relentlessly. Many white males got less advantageous terms than the white-male average, unless they were mistakenly identified as Black, Hispanic and/or Female. This is a disgrace.

At his year-end press conference, President Obama was asked about the state of black America at the end of 2014. (emphasis added)

Like the rest of America, black America in the aggregate is better off now than it was when I came into office. The jobs that have been created, the people who’ve gotten health insurance, the housing equity that’s been recovered, the 401 pensions that have been recovered: a lot of those folks are African-Americans. They’re better off than they were.

The gap between income and wealth of white and black America persists, and we’ve got more work to do on that front.

I’ve been consistent in saying that, you know, this is a legacy of a troubled racial past, Jim Crow and slavery. That’s not an excuse for black folks, and I think the overall majority of good black people understand it’s not an excuse.

Growing numbers of black Americans aren’t so sure. Unemployment remains high. Ferguson, and Staten Island, empowered by agitators from international A.N.S.W.E.R., Al Sharpton, Eric Holder and the President himself put on a spectacle of riots completely unrelated to the facts in either case.

Well, Obama will fix that. He has signed an executive order creating the “Task Force on 21st Century Policing” as “part of the administration’s efforts to strengthen community policing and strengthen trust among law enforcement officers and the communities they serve.” The list of appointees for the Task Force is not encouraging, nor is the deliberate misunderstanding of facts of the riots and their cause.

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About That Big Jump In GDP Numbers: Another Lie. by The Elephant's Child

Headline, Politico: “Everything Is Awesome!” December 24th

Good news! The U.S. economy grew at a rollicking 5 percent rate in the third quarter. Oh, and it added 320,000 jobs in November, the best of its unprecedented 57 straight months of private-sector employment growth. Just in time for Christmas, the Dow just hit an all-time high and the uninsured rate is approaching an all-time low. Consumer confidence is soaring, inflation is low, gas prices are plunging, and the budget deficit is shrinking. You no longer hear much about the Ebola crisis that dominated the headlines in the fall, much less the border crisis that dominated the headlines over the summer.

Headline, Center for Immigration Studies: “Despite Recent Job Growth, Native Employment Still Below 2007:  BLS Data show all net employment growth has gone to immigrants.

President Obama recently announced plans to give legal status and work permits to millions of illegal immigrants. Many members of Congress and the president continue to support efforts to increase the level of immigration, such as Senate bill S.744 that passed that chamber last year. Yet data published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on its website (see Table A-7) show that all of the net gain in employment since 2007 has gone to immigrants (legal and illegal), also referred to as the foreign-born.1 Native employment has still not returned to pre-recession levels, while immigrant employment already exceeds pre-recession levels. Furthermore, even with recent job growth, the number of natives not in the labor force (neither working nor looking for work) continues to increase.

Headline: Daily Caller: “Fewer US-Born Americans Have Jobs Now Than in 2007″ Dec. 19, 2014

The amazing drop in employment highlights President Barack Obama’s slow recovery from the deep 2008 shock, but also spotlights many companies’ growing reliance on foreign migrant labor.
Almost one in every two jobs added since 2009 have gone to foreign-born workers.

Headline: Powerline:“About That 5% GDP Growth” Dec 26.2014

Tyler Durden at Zero Hedge takes a closer look at the data, and recalls a prediction he made at the end of the first quarter:

Back in June, when we were looking at the final Q1 GDP print, we discovered something very surprising: after the BEA had first reported that absent for Obamacare, Q1 GDP would have been negative in its first Q1 GDP report, subsequent GDP prints imploded as a result of what is now believed to be the polar vortex. But the real surprise was that the Obamacare boost was, in the final print, revised massively lower to actually reduce GDP!

Fast forward to today when as every pundit is happy to report, the final estimate of Q3 GDP indeed rose by 5% (no really, just as we predicted), with a surge in personal consumption being the main driver of US growth in the June-September quarter.

But no: the “personal consumption” that drove the supposed economic boom in the third quarter was the increased cost of Obamacare, spending that had been moved from the first quarter to make the third quarter look better: (emphasis added)

Smoke and mirrors. We have learned that we cannot believe anything Obama says. We cannot believe the IRS, the VA, HHS, EPA, or most other federal agencies, and now we cannot believe the BEA, the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Told that personal consumption was way up in 3rd Quarter, and expected to be over 5% in the 4th Quarter, we discover that it was not a more confident public, encouraged by the drop in the price of gasoline, stepping up their buying because employment was rising. It was the BEA manipulating the statistics to make Obama look good. And can you really call the ObamaCare costs you are forced to pay with penalties, and/ or subsidies, for not paying “personal consumption?”

Calling jobs that go to legal and illegal new immigrants while ordinary Americans drop out of the Labor market, too discouraged to keep looking for work is not really a positive development, no matter in what carefully chosen dialogue you portray it.

Do read the linked articles. There are graphs to emphasize reality. And you might enjoy one more linked post from David Harsanyi: “Let’s Talk About Obama’s Imaginary ‘Winning Streak.’

 




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