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 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: ,


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.

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