American Elephants


Hillary’s Big Economic Plan Is an Embarrassing Display of Leftist Ignorance by The Elephant's Child

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Why would anyone getting ready to go to bed start pounding their head on the wall? (Simile.) Someone mentioned Hillary’s big economic speech on Thursday in Warren, Michigan, and I thought I ought to watch it so I would know something about her economic plans. I didn’t expect much, but I was still taken aback.

It was a powerful-sounding speech, promising to solve everyone’s problems and the problems that had never occurred to them. Jobs, lots of them, how? — Infrastructure! Why is it always infrastructure? If you remember, Obama was going to create all sorts of jobs in Infrastructure — “crumbling roads and bridges” — all sorts of promises of what they were going to do, and eventually Obama admitted that there didn’t seem to actually be any “shovel-ready jobs.”

The interstate highways are federal business. State and county roads are the state’s and county’s business. You can’t just pick a piece of land and start to build something. First, all sorts of jurisdictions have to agree to the project. Then there are the environmental impact statements, and the plans need be drawn up, soil testing, legal challenges, eminent domain. I probably have the order wrong and have left out many steps, but that’s the general idea. All that stuff can take years, and usually does. The people who do those tasks are already on staff. There will be no new jobs until construction starts, and construction jobs only last  until the project is done, which may be 10 or 20 years down the road. Construction jobs are temporary. That’s why Obama said there weren’t any “shovel-ready jobs.” We went through all this before, but Hillary wasn’t paying attention, or else she doesn’t care because it sounds good.

She promised a lot of clean energy jobs too, and lots more clean energy. Installation is done by skilled workers from the company that manufactures the turbines or solar panels, and there aren’t many jobs there. She babbled on about Germany and China, but those countries are already getting out of the “clean energy” business. I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt and assuming that she doesn’t know any better and is not just pandering to the rubes. Obama tried the clean energy jobs bit too, and we got Solyndra and Ivanpah.

She’s dragged out every tired old cliché that worked for the Left in past elections — “trickle-down economics” is the pander for an opposition who promises tax-cuts, which is how you get an economy recovering. Leftists just don’t get it. They cannot conceive of a world where they are not increasing their control and forcing people to do what they want. That is how you build a brave new world. (I think someone used that phrase before.) Increasing the minimum wage makes the economy grow. what? She promises a manufacturing renaissance, economic revitalization, free college for the middle class, free trade school, With her $10,745,378 income last year, she has a lot in common with you, and knows just how to make life better for you hard-working Americans — a job with dignity and equal pay, not everybody needs to go to college, the trades are fine too, broadband for everyone, infrastructure bans, a cleaner power grid. $25 billion government seed money, $10 billion to make things in America, lots of tax credits, deductions for child care, blah, blah, “better together.”

It was painful. If you want an economy to recover, you have to reduce taxes so people can save and invest and create. Raising taxes, and Hillary’s economic plan would demand huge tax increases on an already damaged economy — just prolonging the decline for another 4  years.

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How This Election Came About, Who Is Responsible, and What the Heck We Are Going to Do. by The Elephant's Child

This is possibly the weirdest election year ever, though there have been some pretty disturbing ones in the past. We have candidates in each of the major parties who were not only not my choice, but far from it. We had our primaries and conventions, and this is what they came up with. We have two equally impossible candidates in the two minor parties.

The earth has shifted, and much has changed — and we are beginning to wake up to it. First, consider the news. The world of information as we knew it consisted of the news (solemn, reasonably accurate, and fairly non-partisan), and opinion — partisan, but you could identify those on your side and decide who among them to pay attention to. The news came on at 6:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. A good percentage of the American people also got a daily newspaper, some even got two, and maybe some magazines. Where do you get your news today?

The powers that be do want desperately to divide us into classes — the upper class. middle class, working class and the poor — they have other names for the “upper” class, and the “they” clearly represents those who want to be considered “upper.” Charles Murray wrote:

Harvard economist Robert Reich was the first to put a name to an evolving new class of workers in his 1991 book, The Work of Nations, calling them “symbolic analysts.”Reich surveyed the changing job market and divided jobs into three categories; routine production services, in-person services, and symbol-analytic services. In Reich’s formulation, the new class of symbolic analysts consisted of managers, engineers, attorneys, scientists, professors, executives, journalists, consultants and other “mind workers” whose work consists of processing information. He noted that the new economy was ideally suited to their talents and rewarded them accordingly.

Murray, in The Bell Curve, called this new classthe cognitive elite,” and said that currently when he uses the term  new upper class, he is referring to a fuzzy set of people who run the nation’s economic political and cultural institutions, and at the top are those who have risen to jobs that affect the nation’s culture, economy and politics. So if you are one of those who mumbled about all of us working for a living, there you are.

So where do you get your information? Note that we no longer have a “news” class — it’s all opinion. Brief rants on Twitter are as apt to make the “news” as the latest from the wire services. (Are there still wire services?) Count up the sources you have for information — takes a heck of a lot more than two hands.

We are all human beings, including those we send to Congress as well as those we send to the White House, and to judges chambers, and those currently serving time. Oddly, the new upper class, who need so badly to think well of themselves, usually forget that—possibly because being human means we don’t know as much as we think we do, we make mistakes, some of us lie, commit fraud and are false to our best ideals — and worse. We are told that we must commit to lifetime learning, but when you come home at the end of the day, an old movie seems more enticing. Those who run for political office have an extra gene for public speaking and imperviousness to criticism, and of course ego. Don’t expect too much.

In the meantime, the Left has changed dramatically. Kim Holmes has written a fascinating book to explain the changes that have taken place.

For most of the 1980s and 1990s, leftists worked, if not underground, then certainly below the political radar. They were still operating in a Reagan or post-Reagan era. They inhabited universities and activist organizations that had existed on the fringes of American liberalism since the 1960s. This marginal existence ended in the 2000s under the presidency of George W. Bush. Progressive activists launched a movement against the war in Iraq, and eventually the Democratic Party broke with the moderation of the Clinton years. Energized and radicalized, Democrats moved left and began to take on the old liberal establishment, much as the New Left had done in the Kennedy and Johnson years. The result is a far more aggressive liberal party. This cause triumphed with the election of Barack Obama, a quintessential postmodern leftist, to the presidency in 2008.

The new Left is better characterized by groupthink and intolerance.  Hillary has disavowed her husband’s accomplishments in office, but her only real ambition has always been to get very rich and be the first woman President of the United States. She hasn’t given much thought to what would be good for the country as is easily evidenced by her claim to make college and university free to all.  (And how do we afford that?) She has arranged the rich part through the worst kinds of graft in pubic office, and ‘the first woman part’ seems fairly absurd in the wake of women presidents and prime ministers and heads of state around the world, not to mention long history of queens who headed states. The Big Whoop has pretty much gone out of it. Nobody cares.

We are stuck with 4 candidates that we mostly don’t like very much. We need to stop blaming it on the uneducated in backwoods districts, and realize that this is all entirely the work of the far left press. We had 17 candidates, too many, but the Republicans have a big bunch of extraordinarily successful governors. All were left desperately trying to get some attention while the press was only interested in what Donald would say next.

Most people don’t spend a lot of time on politics, and aren’t all that familiar with policy. They just know when things are not right and their lives are being turned upside down. They may not know all that much about government, but they revere their Constitution, their freedoms, and the idea that we have a system for immigrants that has, through the years, done an excellent job of welcoming immigrants and turning them into American citizens. So there you are.

Donald Trump blurts out whatever occurs to him — apparently in the vein of Obama’s statement “If they bring a knife to the fight, you bring a gun.” Hillary is a crook. She is not just untrustworthy, or lies occasionally — she has used the high office entrusted to her to enrich her family Clinton Foundation by responding to donations by doing federal favors for the donors. That is called graft. Or selling out your country for cash. Trump says things he shouldn’t say. Hillary does things that are very, very illegal and very damaging to our country.

Gary Johnson is the Libertarian candidate, a successful governor and a “pot entrepreneur,” and is for drug legalization, and other unacceptable views. Jill Stein is the Green Party candidate,  a doctor of internal medicine, a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard and Harvard Medical School, and a complete environmental nut who expects the United States to be underwater by 2030 or so, and is an environmental activist, sit-ins and protests too many to measure.



Forgive Me For My Inattention! by The Elephant's Child

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Sorry about the light blogging. I have not been lolling on a sunny beach with a cold beverage. My broken foot has healed, I can wear shoes once again, and the neglected yard demands attention, right now!  Add veterinary appointments for 2 sick cats, doctors appointments, and I have been somewhat ignoring you, my beloved audience.

Besides, what does one say in an electoral year like this! Everyone is at everyone else’s throat. I have NEVER seen anything like this, and I’ve seen a lot of electoral seasons.  The comments sections on most blogs are downright vicious. Today it is in the high 80°s, and we in the Pacific Northwest who are not accustomed to much sun, retreat to the darkest corners with our electric fans in fear that our mossy backs will dry out and wilt.



Declining Wages, Declining Government Statistics, Declining Trust. by The Elephant's Child

That was President Obama, back in February, boasting about the latest jobs report which showed the unemployment rate falling to its lowest level in eight years.”Inconvenient for Republican stump speeches” as they “continued their gloom and despair tour” he chortled.  Zero Hedge points out that once again, that was then, this is now.

In yet another stunning tribute to the “accuracy” and “consistency” of economic propaganda data being reported by our government agencies, the Bureau of Labor Statistics yesterday reported a massive downward revision of the 1Q 2016 YoY real wage growth from +4.2% to -0.4% (a 4.6% swing). But we wouldn’t worry much about it because the revisions resulted in only “small” changes in the underlying data according to the BLS:

 Indexes of all hours-related measures in the business, nonfarm business, and nonfinancial corporate sectors show historical revisions because hours in the base year of 2009 were revised; resulting revisions to percent changes are small.
Revising the real Year on Year wage growth downward by 4.6% is perhaps better described as  “disastrous” or “abysmal” or even just awful. The revisions to manufacturing wages and durable manufacturing wages were far worse Real manufacturing was revised from + 2.8% down to -4.3% (-7.1%) and durable manufacturing was down by 7.5%, from +1.9 down to -5.6%. Those are really big “revisions.”
It seems impossible to get accurate information from the federal government, but that’s just me — I worry about stuff like the national debt nightmare Obama is leaving for us, and the VA which can’t seem to properly serve our veterans — while buying $300,000 worth of TVs and simply storing them, and we learned today that the VA has 167 interior designers on staff, but they can’t get around to serving patients promptly.  That sort of thing.


That Kinda Says It All, Doesn’t It? by The Elephant's Child

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Obama Chalks Up 600 Major Regulations That Cost At Least $100 Million Each. by The Elephant's Child

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Michelle Obama remarked in a convention speech that Barack inspired her with his statement that America as it is just won’t do, we instead need an America as “it ought to be.” That more or less captured the Progressive idea that in order to remake America those folks who know better how things ought to be, need to force their vision on the American people.

A new report soon to be released shows the President Obama’s regulators have completed their 600th major rule. A “major rule” is one that imposes costs on the economy greater than $100 million.That’s 81 big regulations a year, or as the Wall Street Journal says “roughly one every three days the government is open. Who says our bureaucracies are inefficient?”

The progressive explanation for the slowest economic recovery in nearly 70 years is that expansions after financial crises are always like this. There appears to be no statute of limitations on this excuse, which is especially convenient every four years. But those who want more than a political rationalization might look to the all-time presidential record of costly regulation set by the Obama Administration.

Sam Batkins of the American Action Forum did the study, and he calculates that the economic cost of all of this adds up to $743 billion, which is larger than the GDP of Norway and Israel combined. He suggests that “it amounts to a regulatory tax of $2,294 on every American.”

Mr. Batkins worked with figures supplied by federal agencies, and since they like to make themselves look good, it is likely the numbers are underestimated. It means a dramatic cost to the economy, closed businesses, and lost jobs — and 1% to 2% growth. Why yes, that’s just where we are.

Going forward, the Administration plans to finish up greenhouse gas standards for heavy-duty trucks ($31 billion), efficiency rules for manufactured housing ($4.1 billion), and more. Two-term Presidents often rush out rules in the lame duck months after the election, and Mr. Obama could do so without fear of political override if Hillary Clinton wins the election. She’d surely veto any bill Congress passed under the Congressional Review Act.

Hillary cannot help herself, she is promising goodies to every potential voting group. Free college tuition, low interest or free loans, then loans on the loans to allow them to borrow money to pay back their student loans while opening a new business. Brilliant! Add on infrastructure — why is it always infrastructure? Those are usually construction jobs, and gone when the road or bridge is done. She also promises all sorts of renewable energy jobs, but we have already established that there aren’t many jobs in renewable energy.

The progressive conviction that they are smarter and more clever than the rest of us, and thus know just how to regulate our lives gets old pretty fast. A silly rule like requiring calorie counts on all ingredients in a restaurant menu can mean a major financial catastrophe for a pizza place where they have a great assortment of ingredients to fill customers individual choices. And people don’t care anyway. Most never read the calorie counts. They know roughly what a pizza is going to cost their diet, and don’t care or they wouldn’t be there. Congress is supposed to be making the laws, not a bunch of agencies.



The Federal Government is a Really Lousy Investor. They Keep Losing Your Money! by The Elephant's Child

Democrats are always promising to build stuff. California has their High Speed train to nowhere that is becoming a very expensive bad joke. The Seattle area’s Light Rail is well on the way to becoming another, as is common for commuter rail projects all over the country. Government officials are as subject to falling for popular fashion as is any young ingenue, and for quite a while building a railroad seemed like a great way to make yourself famous. So they are, but not exactly in the way they planned on.  Here’s Burton Folsom, author, historian and  professor at Hillsdale College to explain why the government is such a lousy investor.




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