American Elephants


Planned Protests, Anarchists, Baseball Bats and Hammers by The Elephant's Child

berkeley_riot-1486069721-1414The Riots at the University of California at Berkeley were also not spontaneous. The “Black Bloc” arrived well equipped with metal baseball bats, hammers and clubs, The Black Bloc is not a group, but a tactic adopted by anti-capitalists and anarchists. According to Discover the Networks, they view capitalism as an “intrinsically violent and repressive” system that “cannot be reformed or mitigated.” Who’s intrinsically violent and repressive? The damage is estimated at $100,000 and rumors indicate that the police were told to stand down. Whether campus police or town police, or if true, I don’t know. Clearly the anarchists were there.

Black Bloc is not an organization, but rather a protest tactic employed by anti-capitalists and anarchists. Clad in black helmets, black ski masks, and black garments to conceal their faces and whatever distinctive clothing they may be wearing underneath their dark coverings, Black Bloc radicals make their presence felt by participating in all manner of left-wing demonstrations against free-market capitalism and Western culture; they generally are far outnumbered by fellow protesters who, while like minded, are more traditionally attired. Because the Black Blockers hide their identities, they are often able to engage in criminal behavior—most notably property destruction—with impunity. In instances where they are pursued by police—whom they contemptuously regard as nothing more than “guard dogs for the rich”—fleeing Black Bloc protesters typically shed their dark coverings and blend quietly into the surrounding crowd. When they are not protesting, these activists organize and communicate with one another mainly through Internet chat groups and websites.

The animating core belief of Black Block, as explained in the Green Mountain Anarchist Collective’s Black Bloc Papers, is that “private property—and capitalism, by extension—is intrinsically violent and repressive and cannot be reformed or mitigated.” Lamenting “all the violence committed in the name of private property rights,” this document charges that “corporate private property” in particular “is itself infinitely more violent than any action taken against it.” By this logic, the destruction of a storefront window can be redefined and justified as the laudable creation of “a vent to let some fresh air into the oppressive atmosphere of a retail outlet.”

We had around 300 of them here at the 1999 WTO protests, smashing windows and destroying property of multinational corporations, and helped force the meeting to collapse. They turn up whenever there’s a chance of a good riot,May Day, the Occupy riots.  Seem remarkably ill-informed but really like to uselessly smash things up. Do read the whole thing.

The riots at Berkeley trying to prevent Milo Yiannopoulus from speaking at the event to which he was invited, managed to make his message available to millions on the internet, and promote sales of his book. Nice work! But those weren’t spontaneous either, and Black bloc anarchists smashed up the campus and the streets of Berkeley, and of course banks (capitalists).

The Democrat establishment, the Left, has been gobsmacked. They have been firmly removed from power. They were expecting another, perhaps, eight years of the commanding heights, and they are no longer in control of much of anything. They have no bench, no heroes, and they don’t know what to do. Maxine Waters is a perfect example. She wants President Trump impeached right now. Never mind “the high crimes and misdemeanors bit.” She wants him out. They’re old. They have no new ideas. They don’t know what to do, and their predicament is just beginning to sink in.

I suspect they are doing an outstanding job of discarding all of those Obama voters who, fed up, voted for Trump. Democrats keep whining about the “popular vote.” But it is the popular vote individually in the states that matters, and Trump won those. If California manages to secede, which some of us are devoutly hoping for, Republicans will run the country for years and years to come.



The Summing-Up: At Some Point Reality Appears by The Elephant's Child

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People generally liked Barack Obama. He was handsome, stylish, clearly a good family man and cared deeply about his daughters. I’m not sure if he liked his dogs, but he put up with them for his daughters’ sake.

When it came to the economy, it gradually became clear that he didn’t know what he was doing, nor did his advisors. It’s not clear to what extent he listened to advisors. He remarked more than once that he knew more about speeches than his speechwriters, and more about most any subject than the experts he picked. There is a suspicion that he really meant that.

So what we ended the Obama presidency with was a fairly high approval rating because people liked him, and a very terrible approval rating on the right direction/wrong direction part. He will return from his post-inauguration vacation soon, and we can expect him to have forgotten completely George W. Bush’s polite silence to give the new guy a chance to do his best.

Progressives can’t help themselves. They want to control, to regulate, and to fix ordinary human nature, unfortunately they want to do it with other people’s money. To fix things and make themselves feel good about what they are doing, they want to do lots of welfare, but they can’t manage to take away enough of the money of the well-off to make the not well-off equal, which was their goal.  It never works, but the lure of socialism seems eternal.

Venezuela, out of toilet paper and most anything usually found on store shelves, can’t afford to deliver the oil which they have in abundance to anyone who might pay them for it. They are dead broke. Another lesson in why socialism never, never works, but the enthusiasts won’t learn it this time either.



There’s a Lot to be Said for the Power of Optimism by The Elephant's Child

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The British People voted last year to leave the European Union in a vote that has come to be called “BREXIT” or British exit. Mrs. May said forthrightly that she was not in favor of leaving, but if that is what the British People voted for, that is what she would do.

The British High Court said the Prime Minister would have to get a vote of the Parliament in order to do so, and on Wednesday they voted to allow Prime Minister Theresa May to start Brexit negotiations with the European Union. The European Union Bill passed with 498 votes to 114. The Bill will still have to go to the House of Lords before becoming law. May has set a March 31 deadline for invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and beginning exit formalities with the European Union.

The Scottish National Party attempted to block the bill before the vote. Forty-seven members of the Labour Party MPs revolted against the Labor Party’s leadership and voted against the bill.

Staying in the single market would require Britain to continue contributing to the Brussels budget, accept EU economic rules and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, and admit levels of immigration that have become politically unacceptable. Remainers said these concessions were worth making, but voters disagreed and they must be respected.

Some European countries want to punish Britain, and drive the hardest bargain possible.  Mrs. May has argued for a clean break, as that is the only way for London to negotiate its own trade deals with the rest of the world.

The smart play is for both to help the other succeed….The biggest threat to the EU isn’t a Britain that succeeds outside the common market. It is an EU that keeps failing to provide the economic prosperity demanded by its frustrated citizens. What drove Britain from the EU was the Continent’s failure on immigration control, fighting terrorism and delivering jobs and rising incomes.

To put it another way, Mrs. May is telling Britons they’re embarking on another great chapter in self-government. The Brits helped invent the idea, so they know what it takes.

Daniel Hannan is a member of the European Parliament who went to the European Parliament urging the abolition of the place. He said “It’s difficult to begin to understand the imbalance of forces in our recent debate and referendum. Every broadcaster, every political party, every bank, every big corporation, every trade association, every think tank, every EU-funded university, the whole of the establishment was telling us that it was a matter of national survival to stay in the EU. That it would be calamitous for us if we left. And people didn’t believe it. On June 23, they politely disregarded all the advice, all the bullying, all the hectoring, all the threats, and they voted to become a self-governing country again.”

He added “Americans voted Leave in 1776, and from where I’m standing, it seems to have worked out OK for you.”



Understanding the Madness of the Left by The Elephant's Child

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My favorite pastime is not trying to figure out why Democrats, the Left, are doing whatever it is that they are currently doing. I have better things to do, and more pleasant  things to pursue. But clear explanations seem important as they continue to go bat s##t crazy. It would seem that the current antics would drive any sane person into Republican arms permanently, but “sane” seems to be the key word.

The idea of requiring every citizen to vote comes up every once in a while, but is dropped because we really don’t want those who do not pay attention, and have no clue about events, to vote. We believe in an informed citizenry, but for the last eight years we have had a press wallowing in their slobbering devotion to the first black president. Even Barack Obama told them in his last days that they weren’t supposed to be sycophants. That’s not how it’s supposed to work.

Victor Davis Hanson says “Everything is in flux in a way not seen since the election of 1932 in which Franklin D. Roosevelt defeated Herbert Hoofer. Mainstream Democrats are infuriated. Even Republicans are vexed over the outsider Trump.”

Polls, political pundits and “wise” people, guilty of past partisan-driven false prognostications, remain discredited. Their new creased-brow prophesies of doom for President Trump are about as credible as their past insistence that a “blue wall” would keep him out of the White House.

There. The first explains  why they are doing what they are doing, and the second one explains clearly why Donald Trump is insisting on a wall. You’ll be able to explain to your angry family and friends, but they probably won’t be able to hear you, and that’s explained as well.



President Trump, The Press, The Profession of Journalism, and Sean Spicer. This is Going to be Fun! by The Elephant's Child

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There is a tentative war going on between the press and the new Trump administration. The Washington press corps has been remarkably partisan during the entire campaign season, and they never imagined a Trump presidency.

We have a new White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, beginning to set new rules for how White House press conferences are going to go. He didn’t call on the front row first, but gave the first question to the New York Post, seated toward the back. He called early on reporters from the Christian Broadcasting network, Fox, and Univision. He even announced four “Skype seats” for reporters not in the Washington area. This is very scary stuff for the Washington media.

He noted that the  press routinely publish corrections, and said the administration “should be afforded the same opportunity.”

Press behavior during this political campaign left a great deal to be desired. We had reporters publishing unverified leaks, giving their stories to the candidates for approval before publication, warning candidates of upcoming stories. And in one case, the New York Post noted “the complete collapse of American journalism as we know it.” “The shameful display of naked partisanship by the elite media is unlike anything seen in modern America,” wrote Michael Goodwin.

The largest broadcast networks — CBS, NBC and ABC — and major newspapers like the New York Times and Washington Post have jettisoned all pretense of fair play. Their fierce determination to keep Trump out of the Oval Office has no precedent. By torching its remaining credibility in service of Clinton, the mainstream media’s reputations will likely never recover, nor will the standards. No future producer, editor, reporter or anchor can be expected to meet a test of fairness when that standard has been trashed in such willful and blatant fashion.

“The University of Georgia does an Annual Survey of Journalism & Mass Communication Graduates which surveys J-School grads, their habits, salaries and the jobs they take.” They don’t read print media. Just one third had read a newspaper the day before taking the survey. That’s down from 81% in 1994. Three quarters read news off the internet and many watched TV. Almost all went on a social media website the day before taking the survey.

Which draws the automatic query: if they don’t read their own writing, why should they expect us to?

Newspaper ad revenue is way down. Ads are reaching fewer customers. Magazines with which I am familiar are thinner, with fewer ads. But for the most part I only see magazines at the hair salon or the doctor’s office.  Two local bookstores are closing. It’s not that people are reading less, they are reading online. More and more online sources are creating a subscription barrier, and there are more and more ways to avoid that wall. There is so much information available for free, that people are reluctant to pay. I don’t know where this is all going, but everything is fluid and changing.

I don’t know what journalism schools are teaching their students besides social justice, nor what their requirements are, but journalists seem remarkably lacking in the history department, and just general world knowledge—reflecting wide reading. Starting salaries are worse than for most other professions, and there are more and more clumsy errors that are not caught by editors.

Computers are changing the world. Our sources of information are changing. Social media is becoming more important than  we understand. Occupations are changing. We are always slow to understand the changes and how to adapt, and those who do understand and adapt quickly are probably the millionaires and billionaires of the future.

An article by Stefan Kanfer in City Journal last February mourned the decline of Time magazine and the shrinking readership of newspapers and magazines. He wrote:

Contemporary tendencies—from know-nothing reportage to grade inflation—can be corrected. But the blackboard is large, and the erasers grow fewer by the year. When once-formidable newspapers like the New York Times print regular, lengthy columns of misattributions and misinformation, and when a newsmagazine cannot identify the sex of an author, much less his/her significance, Americans can no longer depend on periodicals to set things straight. That job, ironically, has been ceded to the freewheeling and often irresponsible Internet. Thus by default the solution must come, as it did long ago, from diligent instruction—private, parochial, and public. It had better. For as Abraham Lincoln observed, “The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.” (A former Illinois congressman, Lincoln was the sixteenth president of the United States.)



A Word From William F. Buckley Jr. by The Elephant's Child

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Visualizing the Growth of Federal Regulations: Food for Thought. by The Elephant's Child

This Mercatus Center video is from 2014, and doesn’t include the generous contributions of the Obama administration in the last two years, or especially in the days since the election. Knowing that he would be succeeded by Donald Trump instead of Hillary, who could be counted on to continue his policies he was sure, Obama indulged in a orgy of rulemaking, adding nearly 1,500 more pages to the Federal Register just on his final day in office. By January 13, he had already added 571 economically significant rules. To be “economically significant” a rule must have at least $100 million worth of impact.




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