American Elephants


Betsy DeVos Spoke Here Last Friday by The Elephant's Child

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was here last Friday to speak to the annual dinner of the Washington Policy Center at the Hyatt Regency. Protesters (read teacher’s unions) turned out to protest along with some local politicians. King County Executive Dow Constantine, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, and Bellevue Mayor John Stokes all joined the protesters. Constantine stated that he was the proud son of two public school teachers, a proud graduate of public schools and his daughter would be in public school in two years. The protest crowd had giant balloons — a cat to represent “corporate fat cats” and a man in a hard hat who represented something or other.

All very strange. Betsy DeVos is advocating more charter schools—which are public schools. Charter Schools are opposed by the American Federation of Teachers. The Democratic Party depends on union money for their campaigns and union workers for their demonstrations. Some charter schools are run by businesses who have developed different organization and different programs for their particular kind of charter school. In North Dakota there is a charter school that prepares kids who don’t want to attend college for jobs in the oil and gas industry. Last year, a charity gala raised $35 million for Success Academy charter schools which will benefit thousands of underprivileged kids. But charter schools are publicly-funded public schools.

At Success Academy schools in New York, three quarters of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch and nearly all are minorities. In 2015 68% of their students scored proficient in reading and 93% ranked proficient in math. In contrast only 35% of New York City students scored proficient in math and their reading abilities were even worse.

Minnesota passed the first charter-school law 25 years ago. Today nearly 3,000,000 students attend about 7,000 charter schools in 43 states and the District of Columbia. New Orleans all-charter district has raised graduation rates by 10 percentage points over the past decade. Charter enrollment is at record highs in New Orleans, Detroit, Washington DC, Kansas City, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, New York City, Los Angeles, Miami and Huston.

We should work to make traditional public schools as good as they can possibly be—but where layers of rules and regulations have made reform difficult, charters offer the chance of a clean slate. As taxpayer-funded public schools, charters are open to all students and subject to the same accountability systems as traditional public schools. What makes charters unique is their freedom from the unnecessary, outdated, and counterproductive work rules vigorously defended by the teachers’ unions….

Many regular-enrollment students in charters would have been placed into special education had they gone to a traditional public school. Charters are serving these kids; they just don’t classify them as disabled. The most plausible explanation for why: students attending charters do better academically than they would have done otherwise, thus eliminating the need for extra services.

The American cities that have most improved their schools are those that have wholeheartedly embraced charters. Their success suggests that policy makers should stop listening to the unions and thinking of charters are an innovation around the edges of the public school system and realize they are a better way to organize public education.

College professors across the country are complaining about their incoming students, saying they don’t know anything, can’t write, and are unprepared for college work. There is seldom a week that goes by without a report of a public school teacher arrested for having sex with a student. In some schools the idea that one can choose their sexual identity is accepted. It is school policy in some European countries, notably Sweden, and it remains scientific nonsense. Many schools have encouraged protest against the President as part of the curriculum. There are some real problems with our public schools, and parents need to be very clear about what is being taught if they care about their kids.

 



The Clinton Campaign and the DNC Funded the Trump Dossier by The Elephant's Child

It has been revealed by The Washington Post that the Clinton Campaign and the DNC paid for the research that produced the Russia dossier from which came the allegations that there were links between  President Trump and Russia and some kind of coordination between his campaign and the Kremlin. No wonder Hillary was so insistent about Trump’s Russian connections, her campaign had paid Fusion GPS to produce evidence.

Marc E. Elias, a lawyer from Perkins Coie, who worked for the Clinton campaign and the DNC hired Fusion GPS in April, 2016 to investigate Trump. Fusion GPS hired former MI6 agent Christopher Steele to look into Trump’s activities and contacts in Russia. Steele had worked in Moscow during his time in British intelligence. He eventually produced a 35 page dossier consisting of 17 memos dated between June 20, 2016 and Dec. 13.

Fusion has refused requests from Congress and even in lawsuits to reveal the identities of its clients, and news reports had been vague. A Republican donor who was extremely opposed to Trump reportedly hired Fusion in September of 2015, to conduct routine opposition research, but his identity has not been revealed.

According to the Post, the Clinton Campaign and the DNC paid Fusion through the end of October 2016 just before the election, which they expected to win handily. Federal Election Commission records show the Clinton campaign paid Perkins Coie a total of $5.6 million since November of 2015.

Democrats are weary of Hillary’s book tour, she’s been to England and Canada to sell the book and complain about the unfairness of it all. They wish she would quietly go away. Former candidates are usually not ready to give up, but the people have moved on. The Russia connection is over, but the rage against Trump in general (racist, sexist, fascist) continues even as the list of his accomplishments piles up.

And what was the part of Debbie Wasserman Schultz and her aide who is under indictment? Former DNC chairman Schultz and current leaders of the DNC claim they have no knowledge that the national party was involved with funding a dossier compiled by a British spy which contained scandalous accusations about President Trump. Keith Ellison and Tom Perez claim no knowledge of any association with Perkins Coie. The mystery thickens. There is clearly much more that will and should come out. It’s not going to be pretty.

ADDENDUM: According to a complaint filed today with the Federal Election Commission, the Clinton campaign violated election laws when they failed to report the campaign’s payments for the Russian Dossier.

The complaint from the nonprofit Campaign Legal Center said the Democrats effectively hid the payments from public scrutiny, contrary to the requirements of federal law. By law, campaign and party committees must disclose the reason money is spent and its recipient.

“By filing misleading reports, the DNC and Clinton campaign undermined the vital public information role of campaign disclosures,” said Adav Noti, senior director of trial litigation and strategy at CLC and a former FEC official. “Voters need campaign disclosure laws to be enforced so they can hold candidates accountable for how they raise and spend money. The FEC must investigate this apparent violation and take appropriate action.”

Then there is this posted by Steven Hayward at Powerline. It’s both a don’t miss this, and too cringe inducing to bear. Do watch at least the small excerpt if you can, and the whole thing if you can stand it. Sad.



North Korean Dictator Kim Jong-Un May Have Stubbed His Toe by The Elephant's Child

In a very surprising interview, an academic with close ties to the Chinese government has stated that war with North Korea is under consideration. China’s president Xi Jinping has become fed up with the erratic behaviour of the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un, in spite of the historic ties between the two countries.

Chong Sho-Hu, a professor of international relations at Renmin University in Beijing, said that Kim Jong-Un and North Korea were “seeking death.” Speaking to the BBC, the professor suggested that just one more missile test would “push the country off the cliff.”

President Jinping was said to be furious when North Korea tested a missile just as China was preparing to host a pivotal global economic conference. The professor said China is mad and wants to punish North Korea.

China’s leader XI Jinping told the Chinese Communist Party Congress that he would build the biggest army in the world, but wanted to avoid any conflict with U.S. President Donald Trump over North Korea. He told delegates that by 2050 China will become a global leader in terms of international influence and national strength, with the rule of law, innovative companies, a clean environment and a growing middle class. “The Chinese people will enjoy greater happiness and well-being, and the Chinese nation will stand taller and firmer in the world.”

This is a remarkable bit of world news, from one stray professor who is said to be close to the administration in China, so I don’t know just how accurate it may be or not, but it is certainly interesting.

President Kim Jong-Un seems to be the only plump person in the North Korean nation, and a good many of his military hangers-on have uniforms that seem too large for their bodies. Whenever Kim Jong-Un appears, everyone smiles broadly and they clap with their hands right up in front of their faces where their enthusiasm can be readily seen. Kim Jong-Un executed one of his uncles with a military howitzer instead of a firing squad, which may have something to do with the odd style of clapping.

 



The Leader of the Free World by The Elephant's Child

The presidency has evolved into something that was not quite intended. George Washington felt a great responsibility and made a real effort to avoid any elements of grandeur. There were many who would have made him a King, but he resisted, and set the plain standard for future occupants of the office.

Today, we still don’t do grandeur, at least not in the European way. In contrast, other new countries have gone for presidents as we did.  We do, however, make a very big deal of our president as the leader of the free world, and the most important man. We watch every action of the president and of his family, approve or disapprove, love him or hate him. Yet we think of him as someone we picked to lead for four years, and if he does a fairly good job, we’ll give him another four. Then we want them to fade away. George W. did a particularly good job of working with the veterans he sent off to war, encouraging the wounded, honoring those who served.

We are told that those who unsuccessfully ran, but were not elected, never get over it. Harold Stassen kept running for years. That may account for John McCain’s attitude towards Trump. Al Gore concentrated on getting rich with environmental propaganda. But we had what ? —17 candidates when Trump got the nomination. Do they all still resent that they didn’t get the nomination? I’ve seen signs…

But we really don’t want to hear from past presidents, except on formal occasions. Perhaps each retiring president should be supplied with a copy of Winston Churchill’s Painting as a Pastime. George W. got a copy and has used the pastime to honor the veterans who served. Very nice. Good paintings too.

Perhaps someone could send a copy to Hillary?

 



How the EU went Wrong and Why they did. by The Elephant's Child

George W. Bush gave a speech last Thursday at “The Spirit of Liberty: At Home, In the World” event in New York City. Politico called it a speech on Trumpism, but they were perhaps a bit hasty with their definition. But then, any opportunity to accuse Trump of designated awfulness, is the goal of the current news media.  I had admired George Bush for his ability to avoid speaking out on politics as a past president, especially in not commenting on Obama who had canceled all his executive orders, which must be galling.   I know it’s hard, but we really don’t want to hear from past presidents or past candidates. Their time is past.

We’re having some trouble with definitions, and throwing way too many “isms” around:  nationalism and nativism, for example. The Left, big on wide open borders, prefers to define nativism something evil, as if favoring your own citizens over illegal immigrants is reprehensible? Look up the definition of nativism. Other troublesome words are bigotry, prejudice, civility and incivility, and immigrant and migrant. ABC recently called illegal aliens (illegal: not according to law, alien: owing allegiance to some other nation) to avoid using such negative language, “undocumented citizens.” No, they’re not.

We are living in a time when the difference between undocumented citizens, immigrants and migrants is increasingly important. Europe, because of their cradle-to-grave social welfare benefits, has a declining birthrate. Because they have a declining birthrate, without enough young people working to pay for the cradle-to-grave social welfare benefits they so generously offered in order to get elected, they thought by inviting more immigrants to work and pay for the benefits, they could still prosper. “Poor” Americans have more living space than ordinary Europeans who are not poor. And more amenities.

The inviting immigrants in was a mistake for Europeans. They were feeling sorry for those in Middle Eastern refugee camps, and the well-meant invitation quickly became a flow of migrants from every hell-hole on the planet, and many ordinary countries that just didn’t have the presumed wealth of Europe.

Charles Hill explained how modernity went astray, based on a system that made room for wide cultural diversity based on a judicial doctrine of “the equality of states.”      (Do read Hill’s whole piece linked just above. It’s not long.)

The EU would become a new form of trans-national entity that would eschew war, abolish sovereign borders, exalt diplomacy, and supersede the Westphalian system by offering the world a compelling model of how to dismantle the state by devolving some of its powers downward according to the concept of “subsidiarity” while pulling other powers up into a pan-European bureaucracy in Brussels which, however defined, would not be a state. The EU assured that it was entirely un-religious and noted the care with which the text of its voluminous constitution – unratified – avoided any reference to Europe’s Christian heritage.

Put simply, the EU made itself the epitome of the Modern Age by relentless secularization. Islamism, emerging from the post-World War I collapse of the Ottoman Empire and Caliphate, made itself the vanguard of jihadist religion’s rise to become the implacable adversary of modernity. If Europe is where the siege is to take place, the drawbridge already is up:

Ambassador Hill adds: “Transatlantic unity has been the keystone of the defense and extension of freedom in wartime for a hundred years and must remain so.”

It is not the EU but NATO that has been the key to transatlantic solidarity. Strengthening NATO as a military alliance with political consequences in support of a reformed EU must be at the core of American policy. NATO’s role “out of area” will be vital along with continued efforts to integrate like-minded partners to the extent possible: Russia, Israel, the Gulf Arab states. The Modern Age itself is at stake.



Constructive Chaos From the White House by The Elephant's Child
October 22, 2017, 6:32 am
Filed under: Politics | Tags: , ,

Victor Davis Hanson has a column at the Hoover Institution’s online journal Defining Ideas, about Donald Trump’s “Constructive Chaos” that is very worth your time, in this era when the slightest move by the Trump administration is dissected and analyzed for potential impeachment content. We don’t hear much about what he accomplishing, only about his racism, sexism, fascism and whatever else they manage to come up with.

Almost daily, President Trump manages to incense the media, alarm the world abroad, and enrage his Democratic opposition. Not since Ronald Reagan’s first year in office has change and disruption come so fast from the White House.

Let’s consider foreign affairs first. In response to North Korea’s nuclear threats to hit the American West coast, Trump promised Kim Jung-un utter destruction. And for sport he ridicules him as “rocket man.” ISIS is now on the run. The terrorist group has given up on its once-promised caliphate—in part because Trump changed the rules of engagement and allowed American generals at the front to use their own judgment and discretion on how best to destroy their enemies. Trump has bowed out from certifying a continuation of the Iranian deal and sent it back to Congress for reform, rejection, or ratification. In the case of the Paris climate accord, he simply pulled the United States out completely, reminding its adherents that the use of natural gas has allowed America to reduce carbon emissions far more dramatically than have most of its critics. As in the case of the Iran deal, the Obama administration never sent the Paris agreement to the Senate for a treaty vote.

Domestically, too, Trump has not been afraid to make major changes. In terms of the so-called Dreamers—children who were brought into the United States illegally by their parents and protected by the DACA executive orders of Barack Obama—for now Trump has sent the matter back to the Congress for proper legislative review. On Obamacare, Trump has issued executive orders to free up the health market and remove subsidies and monopolistic regulations on how health plans are structured and sold. His reasoning was that the Obama executive orders on health care were illegal, so revising them was necessary and legal rather than inflammatory.

There are objections, even from Republicans, because Trump is using executive orders to accomplish these ends, but Trump is simply using Obama’s own tools to reverse what Obama had wrought.

The Paris Climate agreement and the Iran Deal were clearly treaties and should have been turned over to the Senate for ratification. Obama knew ratification was impossible, so he simply called them presidential protocols, signed them, and declared that they were  legally binding agreements.

Trump is following the law by turning them over to the Senate for debate, but also following his own political instincts by assuming that both of these deals are badly flawed and put the United States at a disadvantage, which they do. But those who wanted these illegal treaties can blame the Senate, not Trump, or at least not entirely. ISIS, which Obama called the JV team, and said was impossible to control, has been defeated in a matter of months by changing the rules of engagement.

Do read the whole thing. It’s a good clarification of what is actually going on, rather than what CNN reports.



The Iran Deal: What it Is and What it Isn’t by The Elephant's Child

Confusion reigns over every mention of the “Iran Deal.” And it is back in the news and at a moment in time when confusion over every tiny thing about the Trump administration, not to mention the large things, seems to set off what might be called a panic attack in the Democrats. Any ability to talk about such things calmly and seriously has gone by the wayside. It’s some kind of contagious dementia.

Iran is not a friendly Middle Eastern country. They support most of the worlds terrorism and terrorists, are attempting to become a nuclear power, are making trouble wherever they can in the Middle East and elsewhere, and generally fall in the category of bad guys. Very bad guys.

The Obama administration signed a nuclear deal with Iran. It is not a treaty, but just an informal deal to relieve sanctions on Iran if they stop trying to get nuclear weapons. They are supposed to get inspections to see if they are doing what they claim, but that isn’t happening, and everybody’s worried about what will happen, what the Trump administration will do, what can be done or not done. All is confusion.

Frederick W. Kagan, a scholar at AEI on Foreign and Defense Policy, the Middle East and Terrorism in general, has spelled out the facts of the deal and attempted to alleviate the confusion so we have some understanding among the reports from the media, most of whom don’t seem to understand any more than we do.

Do read the whole thing, or better yet print it out or save it. This is going to be a major bone of contention for some time yet, and the Democrats are off the tracks, partly because it was an Obama effort, partly because they are quite sure that Trump is starting a new war, or is too irrational to do the right thing, or is anxious to start something or who knows what catastrophe the evil Trump will devise.  In other words, we need to know what they are talking about. Knowing what they are talking about is the best defense.



12 Principles for a 21st century conservatism by The Elephant's Child

Jordan Peterson is a professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto in Canada. He also a clinical psychologist, and an important voice in today’s world. He is honest, and has thought deeply about what he says, and he thinks out loud and shares the process with you. His mind is well connected to his mouth, and he talks with his hands as well.

He clarifies the most basic things. Things that no one is making clear in our world as it is today. You will hear the audience burst into applause when they realize just how very basic those things are.

This is a very long video that is really worth your while. It might change your life. It is the answer to the previous video about how Sweden has gone so badly astray.

When you finally get down to the basic way things are, ask why they are that way.

(The introduction is way too long, you can skip some of it.)



General John Kelly: An Emotional Press Conference by The Elephant's Child

If you haven’t watched this today, please watch it now. It’s important. General Kelly takes on the media reaction to a presidential call to a bereaved widow who just lost her husband.

He patiently explains just how the American military treats the loss of one of their own, step by step. General Kelly understands the whole thing deeply, from all sides. He understands enlisting in the military, serving in war, reaching a position where he must send men into harm’s way, and losing some of them to an enemy, and making calls and sorrowing with the bereaved. And he’s been notified of the loss of his own son and received the condolence calls and visits himself.

A Florida congresswoman disgraced herself and her party. Contemptible.



Poor Information Flow Between School and Home by The Elephant's Child

Was I saying that it “can’t happen here?” of course it can. Here’s a report from the Minnesota conservative think tank the Center of the American Experiment (CAE) about the public schools in Edina, a Minneapolis suburb, one of the wealthiest cities in Minnesota. The school district has long been regarded as one of the state’s very best. The problem seems to be the lack of information that flows between school and the students’ homes.

The Schools in Edina have “increasingly implemented a controversial, ideologically-driven curriculum” first reported by Intellectual Takeout here and here. And surprise, it’s all about race, class and gender.

If you are thinking, “I don’t live in Edina, what do I care.” You’d probably better pay attention if you have children in school, or expect to, or have grandchildren, or just care about your local schools. Surely you have noticed that our colleges and universities are hotbeds of political indoctrination and activism. Education has long been considered an easy major, and Education Departments have always felt slightly looked down upon because of that, with some justification. Or listen to new teachers complain that they were never really taught how to manage a classroom and control the uncontrollable.

Today, for example, K-2 students at Edina Highlands Elementary School are learning—through the “Melanin Project”—to focus on skin color and to think of white skin as cause for guilt. “Equity” is listed as a primary criterion on the district’s evaluation for K-5 math curricula. At Edina High School, teachers are haranguing students on “White Privilege,” and drilling into them that white males oppress and endanger women. In a U.S. Literature and Composition class, 11th-graders are being taught to “apply marxist [sic], feminist” and “post-colonial” “lenses to literature.”

“In short,” Kersten concludes, “in Edina, reading, writing, math and critical thinking skills are taking a backseat to an ideological crusade.”

• A teacher tearfully told a classroom of 100 students that “the election was rigged.”
• Another teacher announced to a class that “Trump winning was worse than 9/11 and the Columbine shooting.”
• Students gathered in the high school commons on election day chanting “F*** Trump,” while teachers watched on, doing nothing.

While the schools are busy with activism, the consequences are that one in five high school students can’t read at grade level and a third cannot do grade level math. The state ranking of Edina high schools has slipped from fifth to 29th in reading proficiency.

I’ve been a parent, and it’s easy to feel all warm and fuzzy when the teacher’s note or the teacher conference tells you what a good student you have, who is a delight to have in the classroom. But that is not real communication with the school and the curriculum. Schools have decided that  kids don’t need to learn cursive writing, because they will always have keyboards. So the ability to write a hand-written thank-you or sympathy note, or simply a gracious thank-you for a job interview will be beyond them.

College professors all over the country are complaining about their incoming students, their inability to read, write and think. We need to take that seriously and to be sure that we know what our schools are actually teaching, or we will suddenly wake up and find that like the previous video, we had no idea what the schools were teaching our children.



Europe is Finished. Nothing can save it now. by The Elephant's Child

Child abuse. Sponsored by the government in the name of being nice.
There are two genders, and gender dysphoria is a mental problem, as is bodily dysphoria. It’s not science, but ideology.

How could any society get so weirdly and senselessly ideological? If it is this far advanced in Europe, it is undoubtedly underway here, more  than we think—or will be so shortly. And what does it mean that Europe is finished? I had assumed that the Islamization of Europe was well underway, that seems clear. Is this the future of mankind?



Raqqa Has Fallen, The Last ISIS Holdout by The Elephant's Child
October 18, 2017, 6:37 am
Filed under: Politics | Tags:

Raqqa, the city that was the headquarters and self-proclaimed capital of their “Caliphate” has fallen. Clearing up operations remain. The city is full of land mines, but the Syrian Democratic Forces are firmly in control.

Earlier in the day, the Kurdish-led SDF forces captured the city hospital, the last remaining ISIS holdout in Raqqa. The facility had been both a hospital and a command center. That left ISIS militants cornered in and around the stadium, which they turned into a brutal prison where they held anyone who opposed their rule. A spokesman said:

The stadium is a huge structure with underground rooms and tunnels. There are also buildings around it” still under the control of IS, he said and added that “there is nothing decisive today.”

On Monday, the Kurdish-led SDF captured “Paradise Square,” Raqqa’s infamous public square where Islamic State militants used to perform killings and beheadings, forcing residents to watch after summoning them with loudspeakers.

Bodies and severed heads would linger there for days, mounted on posts. Residents described how the bodies of those slain would be labelled, each with his or her perceived crime, for the public to see.

The battle for Raqqa began in June and has dragged on for weeks. The city is devastated and most buildings are leveled and in ruins. The last black ISIS flag was flying at the Hospital.

ADDENDUM: Investors notes that the Trump administration has defeated ISIS in months, after Obama found it impossible “to eradicate “a cancer like (ISIS). It will take time to root them out” He said it was a long term and extremely complex challenge. That was after he called them the JV team.

A former senior military commander in the region told the Washington Examiner that the Obama White House was micromanaging the war “to the degree that it was just as bad, if not worse, than during the Johnson administration.” Johnson, you will recall, once bragged that “they can’t bomb an outhouse in Vietnam without my permission.”

Trump consulted his generals, made several changes in the way the war was fought, and had the Pentagon loosen the rules of engagement to the minimum required by international law and eliminated the White House oversight procedures.




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