American Elephants


Communicating With the American People: We Don’t Like Being Lied To! by The Elephant's Child

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“The rate of real economic growth is the single greatest determinate of America’s strength as a nation and the well being of the American people.” President Obama has not delivered a single year of 3,0% growth. The Commerce Department reported that the U.S. economy expanded at the slowest pace in two years, rising at an anemic 0.5% rate after a 1.4% fourth quarter advance. Not good, and one of the reasons why so many people are angry.

From Investors Business Daily:

Legacy: The same day the 0.5% GDP growth came out, President Obama is quoted in the New York Times saying the country has done “better” than “any large economy on Earth in modern history.” Delusional doesn’t begin to cut it.

The only real problem with the economy, as far as Obama is concerned, is that he hasn’t been selling his successful policies aggressively enough.

“We were moving so fast early on that we couldn’t take victory laps. We couldn’t explain everything we were doing. I mean, one day we’re saving the banks; the next day we’re saving the auto industry; the next day we’re trying to see whether we can have some impact on the housing market,” he told the Times’ Andrew Ross Sorkin.

Investors added that Obama didn’t “save” either industry. His only contribution to the GM and Chrysler bankruptcy process was to protect union interests at taxpayer expense. Dodd-Frank killed many, many community banks. The stimulus was an enormous expense and accomplished nothing at all.

At a townhall meeting in London, Obama was asked about what he wanted his  legacy to be after eight years.

There are things I’m proud of. The basic principle that in a country as wealthy as the United States, every person should have access to high-quality health care that they can afford — that’s something I’m proud of, I believe in. (Applause.) Saving the world economy from a Great Depression — that was pretty good. (Laughter and applause.)

Well, laughter indeed, but no applause. In early days, Obama was hailed as a great communicator. He was even awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for merely talking about peace. As Noah Rothman said today at Commentary:

The image of Obama as the left’s Great Communicator was always a fabrication. Given how often Obama himself has admitted his persuasive skills have failed his supporters, you might think this invention of a center-left media would have long ago been buried. Yet, it remains with us even today. Born out of a wish and unresponsive to falsifying evidence, the idea that Obama was somehow a marvelously successful communicator will probably be with us long after the president leaves office.

Mr. Trump’s foreign policy speech was similarly hailed as strong and wide ranging.  A lot of people believe what Mr. Trump said, and they’re wrong.

Mr. Trump: “NAFTA, as an example, has been a total disaster for the United States and has emptied our states — literally emptied our states of our manufacturing and our jobs.  Not true.

The North American Free Trade Agreement went into force January 1, 1994. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these were the numbers at the end of December in 1993:

  • Manufacturing employment: 16.8 million
  • Labor force participation rate: 66.4%
  • Unemployment rate: 6.5%

These were the numbers at the end of December 2000:

  • Manufacturing employment: 17.2 million
  • Labor force participation rate: 67.0%
  • Unemployment rate: 3.9%

After seven years of NAFTA, unemployment was down, more people were in the labor force, and there were more people who were employed in manufacturing. In year 8 China joined the World Trade Organization, and problems came from that. This is when the drop in trade came. China is not a good economic partner, but the Obama administration is negotiating an investment deal with China. Either they should stop or Congress should stop them. In any case, Mr. Trump is plainly mistaken on his major arguments.



Donald J. Trump Gave a Foreign Policy Speech Yesterday. by The Elephant's Child
April 28, 2016, 6:40 am
Filed under: Politics | Tags: , ,

Donald J. Trump, buoyed by his triumph in New York and the surrounding states, decided it was time to put away childish insults and give a real, written down, prepared speech. It was titled “Donald J. Trump Foreign Policy Speech,” or alternatively “See, I am too a serious candidate and can make a real speech.

He did some tough-talking about “how to develop a new foreign policy direction that replaces randomness with purpose, ideology with strategy, and chaos with peace.”

America First will be the major and overriding theme of my administration.

But to chart our path forward, we must first briefly look back.

We have a lot to be proud of. In the 1940s we saved the world. The Greatest Generation beat back the Nazis and the Japanese Imperialists.

Then we saved the world again, this time from totalitarian Communism. The Cold War lasted for decades, but we won.

And Mr. Trump hasn’t approved of anything since. “Our resources are overextended, Our allies are not paying their fair share, Our friends are beginning to think they can’t depend on us, and our rivals no longer respect us..”

That’s about it. He doesn’t understand trade, Obama made a mess of things, as did Hillary. We need a new long-term plan to halt the spread of radical Islam, and we must stop importing extremism. We’re going to have to change trade, immigration and economic policy to make our economy strong again. Technical superiority with 3-D printing, artificial intelligence and cyber warfare. Take care of our vets. Make America great again.

Hit the hot spots and tie it all up with a simplistic approach, without saying anything new or innovative. I ‘m very not impressed, but perhaps others will be. Trump is very good at hitting the big worries, and garnering press attention, but if you look at it seriously, he hasn’t said much of anything.

Here’s the full text of his speech.  I happened to read it followed by reading a commencement address at the University of Texas by Admiral William H. McRaven, commander of U.S. Special Forces command, at the end of May in 2014. Different speeches, different subjects, different occasions, but the contrast is informative.



The Earth is Greening From CO2, And That’s a Very Good Thing. by The Elephant's Child

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The U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay against the Environmental Protection Agency’s global warming plan in February. But EPA officials are moving right ahead with a central part of the Clean Power Plan (CPP). They’ve devised a song and dance way to get around the order from the court. Court orders don’t have the authority under this administration that they once did.

The EPA submitted a proposal to the White House for green energy subsidies for states that meet the federally mandated carbon dioxide reduction goals early. The Clean Energy Incentive Program would give “credit for power generated by new wind and solar projects in 2020 and 2021” and a “double credit for energy efficiency measures in low-income communities,” according to Politico’s Morning Energy. …

EPA argues it’s doing this for states that want to voluntarily cut emissions — despite this being part of CPP.

“Many states and tribes have indicated that they plan to move forward voluntarily to work to cut carbon pollution from power plants and have asked the agency to continue providing support and developing tools that may support those efforts, including the CEIP,” reads a statement provided to Politico from EPA.

A report says that the Earth is turning greener because of carbon dioxide emissions, but America is not doing its part. Other countries are pumping out more CO2, shutting down wind farms, and the United States has cut its output. In 2000, America pumped out 5,868 million metric tons of CO2, then 6,001 million metric tons in 2007, and the figure fell to 5,406 in 2014. This means an increase in growing season over 25% to 50% of the global vegetated areas, which means more hungry people are fed, and more small children live to grow up.

Theoretically we all learned about photosynthesis in junior high or high school. More CO2 means more plant life. We breathe in the air, use the oxygen, and exhale CO2. If CO2 were poisonous or dangerous we’d all be dead from breathing on each other.

A new study says that if the extra green leaves prompted by rising CO2 levels were laid in a carpet, it would cover twice the continental USA.

Climate skeptics argue the findings show that the extra CO2 is actually benefiting the planet.

The new study is published in the journal Nature Climate Change by a team of 32 authors from 24 institution in eight countries. But the numbers don’t count in science. What counts is what the evidence proves.

Norwegian scientists, according to a 30-year long study, are finding that plants adapt well to differing environmental conditions — in contrast to claims that plants won’t be able to adapt from the climate worriers. “There is a kind of flexibility in the genetic material, …much like a ‘molecular thermostat’ that can shift the growth cycle of the plant” said Carl Gunnar Fossdal of the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research. “This phenomenon has great importance for the discussion around climate change.” The scientists speculate that animals adapt in the same way, suggesting that the evidence linking global warming to extinctions is sparse.

The Climate Change Lobby, like much of the rest of the Left, doesn’t like disagreement, nor studies that contradict their firmly-held truths. They want to shut the contrary voices up. No skeptics allowed. That’s why the word “skeptic” never passes the green lips — it’s always deniers — like holocaust deniers,  you see. They don’t accept mild rebukes, nor proof of error. It’s their way or the highway. They have too much invested in changing the world and ending nasty capitalism.



“Notable & Quotable” by The Elephant's Child

The Wall Street Journal included these lines from the Mayo Clinic’s online entry on narcissistic personality disorder in their “Notable & Quotable” column.

If you have narcissistic personality disorder, you may come across as conceited, boastful or pretentious. You often monopolize conversations. You may belittle or look down on people you perceive as inferior. You may feel a sense of entitlement—and when you don’t receive special treatment, you may become impatient or angry. You may insist on having “the best” of everything—for instance, the best car, athletic club or medical care.

At the same time, you have trouble handling anything that may be perceived as criticism. You may have secret feelings of insecurity, shame, vulnerability and humiliation. To feel better, you may react with rage or contempt and try to belittle the other person to make yourself appear superior. Or you may feel depressed and moody because you fall short of perfection. . . .

[The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-5] . . . criteria for narcissistic personality disorder include these features:

Having an exaggerated sense of self-importance

Expecting to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it

Exaggerating your achievements and talents

Being preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate . . .

Behaving in an arrogant or haughty manner



Keeping the Government’s Hands Off Your Pocketbook! by The Elephant's Child

History Professor Burton Folsom of Hillsdale College explains carefully why government investments usually fail. Professor Folsom has demolished The Myth of the Robber Barons, Explained in New Deal or Raw Deal how FDR’s economic legacy has damaged America, and now with Uncle Sam Can’t Count: A History of Failed Government Investments from Beaver Pelts to Green Energy and in this short video for Prager University, he explains why Big New Ideas are better left to private entrepreneurs.

It’s a matter of incentives. When entrepreneurs invest their own hard earned money, they are careful and thrifty, I have not yet seen a bill for Obama’s investments in Big Ideas like Solyndra, Ivanpah, Solar City, and all the rest, and there’s the high-speed railroad to nowhere supposedly abuilding in California.

There are some lessons here to pay close attention to. Some presidents want to build monuments to themselves, and members of Congress are subject to the same temptations.



The Fraud Lawsuit Over Trump University Can Go To Trial This Fall by The Elephant's Child

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A New York judge has ruled that the fraud lawsuit brought against Donald Trump and his real estate school, Trump University, by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman will go to trial. This is an unprecedented situation where the Republican front runner could have to testify this fall when he is possibly in the process of a campaign for the presidency.

Mr. Schneiderman, a Democrat, filed a civil lawsuit against the now-defunct Trump University in 2013 alleging that it exploited Mr. Trump’s celebrity status to persuade people to enroll in expensive courses that failed to deliver on their promises. Trump University defrauded more than 5,000 students in New York out of thousands of dollars each, according to the complaint, by billing itself as a real estate school and charging students as much as $35,000 for enrollment without having proper licensing.

A separate and pending lawsuit in California against Mr. Trump, filed in 2010 by former students, alleges that Trump University defrauded students around the country and made false promises about helping them achieve financial success.

A judge dropped one of two fraud claims in 2014, but in March a four-judge panel in Manhattan reinstated the claim and allowed Mr. Schneiderman to move forward with both fraud claims. Mr. Trump has denied the allegations and accused Mr. Schneiderman of “gross incompetence” and of “wasting millions” in taxpayer money.

Students could take a free introductory course, and then sign up for three-day seminars at a cost of $1,495. They were then encouraged to buy advanced training programs for about $35,000.

The institution rebranded the “university” in 2010 and renamed itself the “Trump Entrepreneur Initiative.” According to court documents it informed the New York Department of Education that it had ceased operation in 2010.



We Need a Remedial Course in Knowing, How to Retain Knowledge and What to Do With It. by The Elephant's Child

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One of my perennial worries is about the state of knowledge. The world is, of course, always changing, but what has changed most dramatically is the flow of information.

We seldom give it a thought, but in the early days of the republic, news was transmitted by horse and rider, or coach.  And then the town crier  cried the news —and the simple word of mouth. Most people didn’t  have books, except for the Bible. The Revolution, the making of the Constitution, the War of 1812 all happened without telephone or radio to spread the news. The new Capitol in Washington D.C. was burned by the Brits, and it took days or weeks for anyone to find out.

The great Civil War took place entirely without a radio or a telephone, no newsreels, but there were newspapers and magazines, and even new photography, which has left a first visual record for us. There were railroads, and canals and roads.

Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in 1876. Most people thought it was little more than a toy, but they soon began to install telephones in their towns, homes or businesses. The first one appeared in Appleton, Wisconsin in 1877 when a banker ran a line from his home to his bank.

The first transcontinental telephone call took place in 1915 from New York to San Francisco. In 1948 Bell Labs’ Claude Shannon published a landmark paper on “a Mathematical Theory of Communication” which provided mathematicians and engineers with the foundation of information theory which sought to answer questions about how quickly and reliably information could be transmitted.  Direct long distance dialing came about in 1951, and the first transatlantic telephone cable was installed between America and Britain.  It took 3 years and $42 million to plan and install using 1,500 miles of specially insulated coaxial cable.

The first television was introduced at the World’s Fair in 1939, but TV didn’t become common in people’s homes until the 1950s and sixties. The first public tests of a cellular phone system took place in 1978, and it wasn’t till the year 2000 that we finally reached 100 million cellular telephone subscribers.

Even the millennials probably know a little something about the history of the computer, but the kids in college who are protesting freedom of speech, don’t want to hear disagreeing words, need “safe spaces” and think buildings or statues, or crests that remind us of people who thought incorrect things in the past, should be removed.

Even Democrat Attorneys General and Rhode Island’s Senator Whitehouse are out to stamp out the utterances of those who have the gall to deny that a warming climate is going to destroy the earth.

The absurdity in the nation’s colleges and universities is happening at the rare time in our history when we are completely connected to all the information in the world, in an instant, at our fingertips. They are connected to networks of friends wherever they are and to thousands of people they only know through their devices.  Mine’s a tiny computer — roughly 2¾” by 5½”— and I can carry it around in my pocket, and talk to anyone in the world, and call up information from practically anywhere. But how am I supposed to know what is true and what is false?

We had to find out for ourselves how to deal with this flow of information and the even greater flow of advertisements and enticements and lies and scams. But we have had all the years of our lives to get used to things gradually.

Our schools, which are supposed to be the foundation of knowledge, have drifted off into realms of “social justice” and “diversity” and “white privilege” and women’s studies and black studies and college tuitions that range upwards from $50,000 to $60,000 a year and more, to receive less and less in the knowledge department.

Yet they are not only NOT teaching how to manage this flow of words and pictures and ideas, but don’t seem to recognize that the world has changed and they need to fill the kids on the past and how we got here as well as how to cope with the present and plan for the future.

Handwriting is out, ancient history is gone, what use is geography when you can call up Google maps in an instant? Social Justice isn’t even real. There is only one ‘justice’ which is found in the Constitution and the body of laws and in the courts. Students at Stanford (Stanford!) have petitioned for the return of Western Civ. Shakespeare is mostly gone, and Churchill is completely out of fashion. Yet there are more remedial courses in colleges than ever before, because too many students arrive unprepared to do college level work.

A political campaign is a bad time to bring up this subject, but it is the moment of our highest awareness. You can’t help but notice. When Hillary is attempting to make equal pay for women a central part of her campaign — and is unaware that it has been the law since 1963, She mentioned last year that Muslims have nothing to do with terrorism, more than once, in spite of the obvious facts of 9/11, Paris and Brussels. Bernie Sanders is espousing the most discredited political system the world has ever known, which is failing before our eyes in Venezuela, and Cuba, and other countries around the world.

I picked up a book a while back called Too Big To Know by David Weinberger, read some bits and put it aside to read later. Guess I’ll have to read it now.Here’s one paragraph from the Prologue:

So we are in a crisis of knowledge at the same time that we are in an epochal exaltation of knowledge. We fear for the institutions on which we have relied for trustworthy knowledge, but there’s also a joy we can feel pulsing through our culture. It comes from a different place. It comes from the networking of knowledge. Knowledge now lives not just in libraries and museums and academic journals. It lives not just in the skulls of individuals. Our skulls and our institutions are simply not big enough to contain  knowledge. Knowledge is now a property of the network, and the network embraces businesses, governments, media, museums, curated collections, and minds in communication.

I wouldn’t have chosen the words ‘exaltation of knowledge’, nor described it in quite those terms, but I’ll have to read the book. I’ll report back when I have.

*The photo is of the Old Library, Trinity College, Dublin, and those are the stacks.



How to Talk To Progressive Millennials by The Elephant's Child

Someone read this piece from the archives overnight. I had forgotten about it, and played the video again and really enjoyed the whole thing, as I did the first time. Seemed like a good idea to re-post it so that you can enjoy it. It’s from April 2016, but apparently not all that much has changed. Enjoy.

This speech by Bill Whittle was the keynote speech at the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s 2016 West Coast Retreat earlier this month in Palos Verdes, CA. He’s a terrific speaker, and in this case he was talking about talking to the millennials — Progressive millennials.

So his speech became sort of a lesson in how to talk to progressive millennials who have a lot of preconceived notions about conservatives — about some of today’s common issues of disagreement, like Citizens United, and guns, and Socialist paradises and science — that sort of thing. And because he’s a terrific speaker, he does it very well indeed. You can watch, or if you prefer to read the transcript it is here.

I’m inclined to read transcripts myself, because I go back and read some sentences over again when I think something is particularly well said, and there’s a lot of that here.



Obama Managed to Ignite a Firestorm in Britain by The Elephant's Child

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I always understood that the White House had a Protocol Office that kept  Presidents informed on manners and customs in the various countries the President might visit, and with how to treat the diplomats and leaders of other countries. I don’t know if President Obama has abolished the office, or if he just doesn’t pay any attention.

On his visit to England, President Obama felt called upon to write an op-ed in The Telegraph, one of the leading British newspapers. He skirted the history of British-American relations, and then summarized what he expects the British need to do to get our full support. We must be resolute and adaptive in preventing terrorist attacks, resolve conflicts in the Middle East, invest in NATO so we can meet our commitments and then he stuck his nose into the upcoming Brexit election, which is a difficult and touchy issue in England about whether to continue membership or leave the European Union.

That ignited a firestorm. It was a remarkably poor choice for an American president to tell the British what to do.

So I will say, with the candour of a friend, that the outcome of your decision is a matter of deep interest to the United States. The tens of thousands of Americans who rest in Europe’s cemeteries are a silent testament to just how intertwined our prosperity and security truly are. And the path you choose now will echo in the prospects of today’s generation of Americans as well.

As citizens of the United Kingdom take stock of their relationship with the EU, you should be proud that the EU has helped spread British values and practices – democracy, the rule of law, open markets – across the continent and to its periphery. The European Union doesn’t moderate British influence – it magnifies it. A strong Europe is not a threat to Britain’s global leadership; it enhances Britain’s global leadership. The United States sees how your powerful voice in Europe ensures that Europe takes a strong stance in the world, and keeps the EU open, outward looking, and closely linked to its allies on the other side of the Atlantic. So the US and the world need your outsized influence to continue – including within Europe. …

When it comes to creating jobs, trade, and economic growth in line with our values, the UK has benefited from its membership in the EU – inside a single market that provides enormous opportunities for the British people. And the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the EU will advance our values and our interests, and establish the high-standard, pro-worker rules for trade and commerce in the 21st century economy.

— “President Obama’s warning to those championing Britain’s exit from the EU was stark: Leave, he said, and the “U.K. is going to be in the back of the queue” on trade deals with the U.S.”

Mr Obama’s catchphrase is ‘Yes, you can! – so why is he telling us Brits “No you can’t’?

— “Obama infuriates the Brits as he threatens to send UK to the back of the queue’ if they vote to leave the European Union.”

— “Barack Obama, our fair-weather friend, is wrong about the EU”

— “Armed Forces Minister: Obama ‘Woefully Ignorant ‘ of Threat EU Membership Poses”

— “Obama might as well have declared: ‘Britain lost the War of Independence because you have small d**ks’

American presidents usually do not comment or express opinion publicly in elections in other countries, but Australia and Canada have heard from Mr. Obama about their internal affairs.

Mr.Obama has been very outspoken about his irritation at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress when he was invited by Republicans to address them. When Honduran President Zelaya was ousted in a military coup after he tried to rewrite their Constitution to extend his tenure in office, President Obama commented in favor of Zelaya and in contradiction of Honduran Law. Obama’s campaign people have turned up in other elections.



Here is Dr. Richard Lindzen, Atmospheric Climate Scientist at MIT, Emeritus. by The Elephant's Child
April 23, 2016, 4:21 pm
Filed under: Politics | Tags: , ,

Here is Dr. Richard Lindzen, one of our most prominent and revered climatologists, trying once again to clarify the climate conundrum and the climate wars a bit. From Prager University.



It’s Earth Day! Do You Care? Did You Observe It? by The Elephant's Child

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Today is “Earth Day” and many communities try to observe it, because not caring would be a potential negative. Mostly they offer opportunities for volunteering for something or other, often recycling. Most people care about clean air and clean water, but except for Flint, Michigan, the air is pretty clean and the water is fine. Hillary, typically, in her speech after winning the primary in New York suggested that Flint was a common problem throughout the country and hardly anyone had safe water, which is bunk.

I write about climate a lot, but I should admit clearly that I am not only not a climate scientist, but not any kind of scientist. I did, however, grow up very rural in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains (that’s stretching it a bit) on 400 acres at around 4000′ elevation between National Forest and Bureau of Land Management land. I spent most of my time outdoors, and the protestations of coming climate disaster from a bunch of city people always seemed like bunk to me. Some winters we had not much more than 3′ of snow on the level and some winters we had five feet.  We had a couple of miles of river frontage with plentiful trout, and I once stepped on an eel to the astonishment of both of us.

President Obama sees climate change as an urgent issue of national security, but the public in general does not. They see terrorism, the economy, health care and government spending as far bigger issues. Only 29% of Democrats are worried about climate change as a voting issue, and 3% of Republicans. according to Karlyn Bowman at AEI.

Also at AEI, scholar and economist Mark J. Perry who a professor of economics and finance at the University of Michigan, Flint, lists for Earth Day18 spectacularly wrong predictions made around the time of the first Earth Day in 1970, expect more today.” Paul Erlich is of course on the list. which ranges from greatest cataclysm in the history of man, through mass starvation, to urban dwellers having to wear gas masks to survive, and sunlight reduced by one half.  Spectacularly wrong.



The Butterfield Fallacy Raises Its Ugly Head in the White House. by The Elephant's Child

When President Obama recorded his Weekly Address for today, Saturday, he took up the matter of criminal justice, and showed clearly that he is a victim of the Butterfield Fallacy—which consists of misidentifying as a paradox that which is a simple cause and effect relationship. When you put more of the people who are committing crimes in prison, the crime rate goes down. It is not a complicated matter of “Oh look, the crime rate has dropped, why do we have so many people in prison?”

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It’s true that more young black men are convicted of crimes and sent to prison. That is because more crimes are committed by young black men. There are more murders in the black community and they are committed by young black men. There are lots of reasons: gangs, fatherless households, young single mothers, peer pressure, unemployment, police backing off because of what has been called “the Ferguson effect” when the police were blamed for young black men killed in self defense by policemen. When policemen are attacked and threatened for trying to maintain order in the community, they are more hesitant to stop people on suspicion, make arrests, or try to prevent trouble. Higher crime rates mean lack of opportunity— the unemployment rate for young blacks is the highest of any category.

Lack of discipline in the schools: when school is orderly and the demand for excellence is high, more learning takes place, more kids are able and encouraged to go to college or to good trade schools.  This is another area where the Left shifts the blame. Schools are harshly criticized for expelling obstreperous kids who disrupt classes, so schools lighten up on the discipline because they are criticized, and the schools become more out of control.

Most of the protests in the universities and in the black communities is due to agitation by #Black Lives Matter, Acorn, Organize for America and other groups trained by community organizers to disrupt and encourage protest. The Left is deeply worried that the black community that turned out so resoundingly to support the first black president will not turn out at the polls in such numbers this time. From what I can see, that’s why there is so much emphasis on race, at a time when, except for agitation and protests, race relations have been so much better.

Locking criminals up does make communities safer. Discipline for badly behaving kids, and expelling those who won’t mind the rules from school makes for more orderly schools. Of course we need more uniformity in sentencing laws. Selling hard drugs is a crime and sellers should be put in prison. Released felons should be helped to reenter society successfully. I hope there is a sincere desire to help, not just an effort to increase racial tension for the sake of the next election.

ADDENDUM: I removed the graphic on gun violence because it is incorrect. Sorry about that!




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