American Elephants


The Best and Worst States for Business, and What They Have in Common by The Elephant's Child

The newly-created McGee Report from Fayetteville State University is an annual report on the Best and Worst States for Business. “The fifty states are ranked based on the extent to which they facilitate business creation and expansion. This study incorporated the data collected from five other studies, which included the examination of hundreds of variables. Utah was found to be the most business friendly state; California was least business friendly. States that voted Republican in the 2016 presidential election tended to be more business friendly than states that voted Democratic.” Social justice at work.

Reading the comments is almost as much fun as the list. The commenters seem to be mostly Californian. In San Francisco, you can rent a bunk bed, sharing a room with several others for $1,200 a month. The place packs in 25 people and rent runs from $1,250 to $1,900.

Three Democrat representatives have introduced a bill that would punish any contractors who dare to work on the border wall by withdrawing any investments in their companies by state-controlled pension funds.

California’s boondoggle bullet train was initially budgeted at $32 billion and the price tag is now up to $68 billion (which the taxpayers are on the hook for), and the initial stretch of track, the easiest to build part of the entire 700 mile route is now $10 billion, and not a single mile has been laid. Just seven years behind schedule. The governor is begging for help, but the Trump Department of  Transportation has  put the brakes on. Jerry Brown’s California suffers the nation’s highest housing prices, largest percentage of people in or near poverty of any state and an exodus of middle-income, middle-aged people. Job growth is increasingly concentrated in low-wage sectors.

The state is the front line for Sanctuary Cities, is zealously fighting natural climate change, their schools are lousy, and they are the worst state in the country for their business climate. Good on social justice though.

Do take a look at the charts. Besides the McGee rankings, it includes the ranking from Forbes, Tax Foundation, Institute for Legal Reform and the Cato Institute. If you scroll down through the comments you will come to one gentleman who did read the whole thing, including how the rankings were calculated — who actually lives in California, and wishes he didn’t. I’ve lived in both the Bay Area and in Southern California, and couldn’t wait to leave.



The Federal Government Is Not Your Friend, And They Have Interests of Their Own by The Elephant's Child

Most Americans believe that the federal government does a poor job and wastes most of the taxpayers’ hard earned money. Waste, fraud and abuse are rampant. We hear stories of employees spending their days watching porn. Agencies spend millions on beautifying their offices, and rush to spend every last cent of their budget so they can pretend they need more for the next year. There are some things that can only be done by a federal government, but most things are far better done by the private sector.

There are specific reasons why this is so. For a business to exist, it must turn a profit. If there is no reward for operating a business, it will cease to exist. Businesses do not operate to provide jobs or to do good works. They operate to make a profit. It is astonishing how many people do not understand this. Competition forces business to be efficient, to offer good products that people want, to deliver on time, make products that last, or offer services that do what they are supposed to do. Leftists are always sure that competition is bad, and what is needed are lots of rules and regulations, which only serve to make a mess of the situation.

Government regulators seldom have a good understanding of how a business works, and the regulations they devise do more harm than good. For example: Regulators, concerned about fat people, decide that all restaurants must display the caloric content of all the ingredients in their food. For pizza places the number of ingredients is enormous, the signage, often on a large lighted panel over the counter doesn’t have much room, customers are aware that some pizzas are high calorie and fattening. They don’t care—they want pizza. The cost to restaurants with low profit margins is enormous in changing all their signage. The result of the regulation is unmeasurable, and probably didn’t change anyone’s dinner preferences.

The free market does an excellent job in controlling business, without interference from bureaucratic busybodies. Very few members of Congress have much experience in running a business, and few of Washington bureaucrats do either. The marketplace offers all sorts of information and lessons, often information that you cannot obtain elsewhere. Incentives matter. The incentives that drive government workers and their managers are not the same as those faced by the businesses to be regulated, and are often counter to the public interest in any case.

Here’s an excellent article that surveys the government bureaucracy and how we should or should not respond. And a valuable lesson in why government does such a poor job of the tasks that are assigned to them. It’s a guide worth keeping with lots of resources. But then you don’t know until the government gets you on their “to do” list just what you’re in for, and where to go for help.



We Have Separate Conversations Going On Here, And We Don’t Seem to Speak the Same Language by The Elephant's Child

Early today I watched a video of the first press briefing for the State Department under new Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, for the Trump administration. It was over an hour long, conducted by Mark Toner who has been in the job for a number of years, is very competent, and knows most of the journalists present. I’ve seen excerpts of these things before, but this was the first time I have watched the whole thing.

I found it somewhat astonishing, for the liberal journalists trouble in grasping the distinctions among immigrants, illegal immigrants, refugees and the countries involved. They were really having a hard time understanding why some refugees should be turned away at the border, for example—why would we not allow refugees from Iran who didn’t like the government there. Certainly not all Iranians liked the government, why wouldn’t we accept those people? They clearly just didn’t grasp that we cannot tell or vet those who come from a nation that wants to destroy us, nor can we tell who is a jihadi and who is not.

I’ve been mulling over these language distinctions for some time. for it seems that Journalists just don’t grasp that when the Ayatollah Khomeini leads his people in chants of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel”— that is exactly what he really means, and what his government is working for. That there isn’t really any way to tell the good people from the jihadis, and the next terrorist attack may hit their D.C. neighborhood. They are involved with the news, but they don’t grasp the nature of the world.

Rex Tillerson has said that we have been paying the UN for years to monitor and control North Korea’s experimentation with nuclear weapons and it has not worked at all, so perhaps it is time to try something different. I would add that when Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un had his older step-brother executed in another country, and just recently executed five of his supporters who offended him with anti-aircraft cannons, that something different is probably what is needed. I just don’t get the feeling that these journalists get it, and they are still out wandering around in issues of diversity and social justice. But perhaps I am unjust.

A very large issue is the one of religion. Two federal District Judges, one from Seattle and one from Hawaii, have issued stays on President Trump’s Executive Orders, which issued a 90 day ban on immigration from seven countries selected by the Obama administration because immigrants or refugees from those countries cannot be vetted adequately. Why would we have any special concern for Christian refugees?

The First Amendment to the Constitution says Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof… That seem so straightforward and clear. Congress cannot make any laws that establish a state religion. ( No Church of England here) Yet that First Amendment has caused an amazing amount of trouble as people try to overthink and over dissect the words. If a Christian cross is displayed on federal land is that “establishing a religion?” Do the Little Sisters of the Poor have to support abortion for their workers in spite of the fact that their religion prohibits abortion?

So the question becomes—what happens if the religion in question wants to destroy the United States of America because our existence conflicts with their religion. Do al-Qaeda and ISIS represent the Islamic religion, or are they something separate? Do they get to try to destroy us because they don’t believe in our Constitution or religions, and we have to refrain from fighting them because of freedom of religion? When you spell out the questions that arise, it clarifies things, but a full discussion becomes ever more necessary. And the questions that arise are litigated and re-litigated.

The Federal District Judge in Seattle and the Federal District Judge in Hawaii are dragging in casual remarks from the difficult election campaign as if that had anything to do with the President’s Executive Order. They can’t do that. The only thing they have to consider are the exact words of the Executive Order. They cannot drag in extraneous things. Federal Judges get a lifetime appointment and cannot be removed by Congress, though they can be impeached for “high crimes and misdemeanors.” So this will all have to go to the Supreme Court.

Our Founders were a lot closer to the European Wars of Religion 1524-1646, following the Protestant Reformation. That ended with the Peace of Westphalia, which recognized three separate Christian traditions in the Holy Roman empire: Roman Catholicism, Lutheranism and Calvinism.That was followed by the British Civil Wars or The Wars of the Three Kingdoms: England, Scotland and Ireland. The Reformation of the Church of England, begot Presbyterianism, Congregationalism, and the breakdown of state-controlled religious conformity bred an explosion of radical denominations: Ranters, Baptists, Diggers, Levelers and Quakers. The New England colonies were settled by Puritans, Pennsylvania by Quakers, the Carolinas by Presbyterians, and Virginia by the Church of England, and they changed as they were established in America. All fascinating, but necessary to understand at least a little, when we get into simple questions about freedom of religion.

To circle back to where I started, I got no feeling that the reporters at the State Department briefing had any understanding of the real nature of the religious questions involved. Religion is those backwoods people clinging to their Bibles and guns, or something like that. It undoubtedly plays a major part in our current problems with the mainstream media. Our conversations are not about real things, but about social justice, race, diversity, pronouns, race, safe spaces and snowflakes. We’ve got some very real problems out there and they remain essentially unrecognized.

 



How Intelligence Works by The Elephant's Child

Herbert E. Meyer served during the Reagan Administration as Special Assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence and Vice Chairman of the CIA’s National Intelligence Council. He is a recipient of the U.S .National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal, the author of several books, including Real-World Intelligence and Hard Thinking, and many of his speeches are available on YouTube.

In the most recent copy of Imprimus, an excerpt from a recent speech on Intelligence is fascinating. “How Intelligence Works (When It Does)

Just utter the word “intelligence” and most people conjure up images of spies, secret satellites peering down on foreign cities and terrorist camps, and rooms full of young technocrats reading private emails and listening to private conversations. These images are accurate, but they reflect the tools and techniques of our intelligence service, rather than its purpose.

To understand its purpose, think of a jumbo jet flying at night through turbulent skies—thunder clouds, lightning, other airplanes streaking in all directions and at all altitudes. To navigate through this, the pilot and his crew rely on their radar—the instrument that paints a picture of their environment, enabling them to see what’s going on around them and what lies ahead so they can chart a safe course. Radar doesn’t tell the captain and his crew what to do, but it gives them the accurate information they’ll need to make good decisions.

Our intelligence service is our nation’s radar. Its purpose is to provide the president and his national security team with an accurate picture of what’s going on in the world and what’s likely to happen in the days, months, and years ahead. The assumption is that if the president and his team have this information, they can chart a safe course for our country. And if they can see the distant future soon enough and clearly enough—and if they don’t like what they see—they can take steps to change the future before it happens.

Good intelligence is a combination, he says, of information and insight. Information is the raw material, while insight is the finished product.The key to producing good intelligence lies in getting this combination of information and insight right. …You start with a thesis—in other words you decide what you want to know, then you send your collectors out to get it. The key is asking the right question.

In the period from the end of World War II until 1981, every president’s objective had been not to lose the Cold War. If things were no worse when a president left office than when he took office—he’d done a good job. President Reagan, instead, wanted to win the Cold War. He had switched from Defense to Offense. His Director of Central Intelligence asked the CIA’s Soviet Division  two questions. Where is the Soviet Union weak? and Where is it most vulnerable? The answer he received was: We don’t know. No one’s ever asked this before.

You can read the rest of this most interesting post at the link above.

Imprimus is a brief publication from Hillsdale College delivered to your email once a month. You can subscribe, it’s free. They also offer a number of free courses you can take. Hillsdale receives no federal money, remains stubbornly independent and teaches subjects like the Constitution and American History, things like that. No safe spaces, no riots. Excellent professors. Real education.



Why the Left Gets It So Completely Wrong by The Elephant's Child

Kevin Williamson is a roving correspondent for National Review, and his recent piece titled “Fake Hate Crimes” is particularly worthy of your attention. I copied a paragraph from the post which particularly impressed me, but neglected to say where I got it or who wrote it, and I promptly forgot. So, testing Google’s algorithms, I entered the first two lines of this paragraph, and Google turned it right up. Do read the whole thing, it’s not that long. But I thought this paragraph captured the situation masterfully.

The Left, for the moment, cannot seriously compete in the theater of ideas. So rather than play the ball, it’s play the man. Socialism failed, but there is some juice to be had from convincing people who are not especially intellectually engaged and who are led by their emotions more than by their intellect — which is to say, most people — that the people pushing ideas contrary to yours are racists and anti-Semites, that they hate women and homosexuals and Muslims and foreigners, that they could not possibly be correct on the policy questions, because they are moral monsters. This is the ad hominem fallacy elevated, if not quite to a creed, then to a general conception of politics. Hence the hoaxes and lies and nonsense.

Phony hate crimes. Phony hate.

Democrats play dirty, and Republicans are not good at fighting back. Republicans believe in the free market and sound economics, the private sector and the wisdom of the market as a whole. It’s hard to explain a lot of the economics because they are often counter-intuitive, and actually take some explanation. Easy example: the minimum wage. Activists get minimum wage workers all fired up to demand better pay.” You can’t support a family on the minimum wage,” they cry, whether it is $7, $9, or $12, and organize a march with pre-printed signs (sure sign it’s not the marchers’ idea) and the signs say “Fight, Fight for Fifteen.”

They did that in the Sea-Tac  (Seattle Tacoma International Airport community) community: hotels, restaurants, motels, bars, and it passed. Some were laid off, free parking was omitted, free lunches and dinners were omitted, other benefits cut and many workers were worse off than they were in the first place. Same deal in Seattle. Small businesses closed, some just moved out of town. Wendy’s and McDonalds are installing computerized ordering stations, and hamburger-making machines may not be far behind. Minimum wage jobs are beginners’ jobs for people who have few, if any , skills. When you have skills, you can look for a better job, and you are a more desirable hire.

My local grocery used to have box-boys who took your groceries out to your car and loaded them into the trunk. There was one box-boy who always remembered my name and that I had two cats. Another was usually sullen, in spite  offers of pleasant conversation, irritated at the annoying job. The first one is in college and will probably be an executive at some large company in a couple more years. But it takes a lengthy conversation to explain why raising the minimum wage instantly to $15 an hour is not necessarily the right idea.

The Current Debate is about ObamaCare and how to get rid of a failed program. The Left is out with claims that we are trying to deprive the sick of their last drop of hope.  And the leader of the House minority, Nancy Pelosi says, right from her very own mouth: “We need to know what’s in the health care bill before we pass it, … says Nancy Pelosi” echoing the most famous statement of the Obama administration: “We have to pass the bill so we can find out what is in it.” So there you go.

The president has released his new directive for a 90-day halt in immigration from 7 countries. Democrats are calling it a Muslim ban, and insisting that is prevented by the First Amendment freedom of religion, which is false since the President can refuse admission to anybody he wants to, and the Washington governor is suing on that basis because the Democrats have no bench and he wants to get noticed for his availability, and the Judge in the case was wrong first time around and is still wrong on this one. Politics is so exciting and such fun.



A Spy Mystery? A Political Coup Attempt? A Court of Fools? What On Earth Is Going On Here? by The Elephant's Child

proof-that-compulsive-liar-nancy-pelosi-democrats-met-with-russian-ambassador-kislyak

Well this is indeed interesting. Following up on the claims of contacts with the Russian ambassador, or Russians in general by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and/or the Trump campaign—which were quickly exposed as silly, since it was the Obama State Department that arranged the meeting with the ambassador, and it turns out that all 100 of the senators met with the Russian ambassador. Clearly evil. Then Democrat leaders who were expressing their dismay at Sessions contacts with the Russian ambassador were not only shown to have met with Russians, but pictures quickly appeared showing Vladimir Putin and Chuck Schumer together, and Nancy Pelosi sitting across the table from the ambassador she swore she had never met.

Democrats were still trying to figure out whether they had destroyed Jeff Sessions, who they are quite sure is a racist, but then it turns out the adorable little biracial child he was holding on his lap at his swearing in ceremony is his granddaughter. Obviously a bigot.

Next came the outraged tweet from President Trump asserting that the Obama Administration had wiretapped the Trump Tower campaign headquarters during the campaign. That’s getting serious. A spokesman for the Obama White House made it very clear that no one in the White House had ordered a wiretap. Which was a totally  waffling response. Only a judge can order a FISA wiretap, and you don’t order a judge to do it. Asking somehow wasn’t mentioned, so it all remains a mystery, doesn’t it?

I’m not sure what all the sudden interest in the Russians is. Everybody has met with the Russian ambassador, and he has been to the White House (Obama’s White House) many times, I think the number was 22, but that may not be correct. I guess they must be trying to prove that Russian interference cost Hillary the election, but that completely ignores the problem that no one could think of an accomplishment from Hillary’s travels as Secretary of State aside from her travel miles. Democrats insisted that Hillary’s emails and private server, which was open to any and all foreign hackers weren’t anything important, but then they found out that as governor of Indiana, Mike Pence had used his private email account to discuss state business, but it turned out that there is no law against Gov. Pence using a private email. And the Associated Press published the Governor’s wife’s email address, for which Vice President Pence has demanded, rightfully, an apology.

Sounds a lot more like a potential soap-opera script than a couple of days in the leading nation of the free world, but there you go.



Facing Reality Can Be Really Hard by The Elephant's Child

trump-crowdsAn article in Britain’s Daily Mail about Valerie Jarrett moving into the new home the Obama’s have rented in one of the tonier districts of Washington D.C., just two miles from the White House, has caught a lot of attention. An anonymous family friend reported that “No longer the most powerful man in the world, Obama was just observing Trump and not liking what he saw.”

He was weary and burned out after eight years in office. But Valerie convinced him that he didn’t have any choice if he wanted to save his legacy. And, as usual, he bowed to Valerie’s political wisdom and advice.

In his only public comment against Trump since leaving the presidency, Obama came out in support of the protests opposing President Donald Trump’s executive order to restrict immigration from predominantly Muslim countries.

A spokesman said the former president thinks they’re ‘citizens exercising their Constitutional right to assemble, organize and have their voices heard by their elected officials is exactly what we expect to see when American values are at stake.’

Former president Obama is ready to assume his role as leader of the opposition against President Trump, and he’s going to use his skills as a community organizer to bring Trump down, and get him impeached, beginning with his 30,000 strong OFA campaign organization. This is unprecedented and one would assume — unthinkable. America has always been a country of peaceful transition of powers, as the Constitution envisions.

Obama is mistaken if he thinks they are just citizens exercising their Constitutional right to assemble, etc, etc. He is forever a former president. His successes, if any, and failures will be judged by historians, not by his self-serving books, and for the rest of his life he will be watched and judged for his behavior. Jimmy Carter has been judged harshly for meddling in governmental matters after his term was over.  And all of Obama’s mistakes will be chewed over by historians, and the results of his policies will become clear.  Happens to all of them.

The Left has gone certifiably nuts, and apparently the Obamas have as well. People become Democrats because the Left keeps telling them that the Republicans are mean. It seems to be true because the Left achieves the power they crave by giving people goodies with other people’s money. It doesn’t work, because as Margaret Thatcher used to say “Sooner or later you run out of other peoples money.” Republicans are mean like your father telling you that you can’t have the toys you want because we can’t afford them. You may be mad at your dad for years, but sooner or later you realize he was right.

Republicans talk too much about economics, but they have to because if you don’t get it close to right, millions of people suffer and some die. In eight years, Obama never achieved the average 3% economic growth. He added $10 trillion to the National Debt, decimated the military and put the nation at risk with his misguided Iran Deal. Iran is working with North Korea on nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles. Obama apparently believed that the shouts of “Death to Israel” and “Death to America” were just PR for the locals. We have been at war with Iran since 1979, a simple fact Obama never understood.

The Left were so proud of themselves for electing the First Black President that they never managed to figure out that his programs didn’t work, and endangered the country. They were so sure that Hillary would be elected to continue the Obama years that they simply didn’t grasp the anger and unhappiness of the country. Tom Sowell wrote:

The vision of the Left is not just a vision of the world. For many, it is also a vision of themselves—a very flattering vision of people trying to save the planet, rescue the exploited, create social justice and otherwise be on the side of the angels. This is an exalted vision that few are ready to forego, or to risk one roll of the dice, which is what submitting it to the test of factual evidence amounts to Maybe that is why there are so  many fact-free arguments on the left, whether on gun control, minimum wages, or innumerable other issues—and why they react so viscerally to those who challenge their vision.

They were bewildered, shocked, when Hillary did not win the election. Nobody seemed to understand that people knew she was a compulsive liar, that the email scandal threatened the security of the country with her carelessness and graft. They could not imagine that the American people chose the man with funny hair and an orange tan. They lost 13 Senate seats, 69 House seats, 910 state legislative seats, and 30 legislative chambers.  All their leading people are in their 70s or older. They have no bench.

Donald Trump, who they consider an uncouth joke, just gave a magnificent speech to Congress. He has selected an outstanding cabinet, and is working hard to undo some of the most damaging last minute poison pills Obama inflicted on the next administration. All they can think of is to blame it all on the Russians.




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