American Elephants


South of the Border, Down Mexico Way… by The Elephant's Child

Activists portray illegal immigration solely as a human story of the desperately poor from south of the border fleeing misery to start new, productive lives in the U.S. — despite exploitation and America’s nativist immigration laws. (Victor Davis Hanson)

We see the marches and the signs —No Human is Illegal—which is nonsense. Words have meanings, and neither wishful thinking nor activist cash get to redefine them. We are a nation of laws. We have specific immigration laws, which during the Obama administration were set aside and ordered to be unenforced. Mexico has a continuing interest in failing to pay any attention to the reasons why their citizens don’t seem to want to come home, amounting to around $25 billion in remittances sent from citizens who are working in America, and often subsidized by U.S. social benefits.

The Democratic party is also invested in illegal immigration, worried that its current agendas cannot win in the Electoral College without new constituents who appreciate liberal support for open borders and generous social services.

In contrast, classically liberal, meritocratic, and ethnically diverse immigration might result in a disparate, politically unpredictable set of immigrants.

Its a complex, difficult problem. It is probably impossible to remove all illegal aliens. When you get to the “Dreamers” those who were brought to this country when they were little children who have never known any other country, empathy kicks in and we are unlikely to deport them.  Victor Davis Hanson is an important voice, for he has grown up in an agricultural area of California where legal and illegal immigrants are a significant portion of the population.

The Center for Immigration Studies (cis.org) is a think tank dealing with facts and answers on immigration problems. Here is Jessica M.Vaughan’s testimony about “Restoring Enforcement of Our Nation’s Immigration Laws” before  the subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, March 28. It’s an excellent overview of where we are and where we’ve been, where is our strength and our weakness. And what should be Congress’ priorities, what about public safety and illegal hiring.

CIS has also made it clear that there is a cost for illegal immigrants. NAS, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine have estimated the average cost to taxpayers of illegal immigrants. NAS estimates that one illegal immigrant costs state and local governments approximately $75,000 in a lifetime—taking into account taxes paid and the cost of providing benefits such as education and health care. If a portion of the population of illegal aliens were stopped, around 9 to 12 percent, the wall would pay for itself.

The number of illegal immigrants crossing from Mexico declined by 40 percent from January to February. Customs and Border Protection normally sees a 10 to 20 percent increase in those months. An Executive Order to enforce immigration laws has made a difference.

Andrew McCarthy, who is a former assistant Federal U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York simply believes that in most cases, illegal aliens who are encountered in the course of ordinary law enforcement operations should be detained and deported. Willpower and resolve that put the burden on straightforward law enforcement rather than the political fortunes of politicians will solve most problems.

It will take some willpower from Congress. President Trump is requesting bids on construction of the wall. Mexico has a wall on their southern border, complete with guard towers. You may find it amusing that the first thing former President Obama did when contemplating the move into their rented mansion in a tony section of the nation’s capitol, was to build a wall around the new house.



Empathy Has No Place In Jurisprudence by The Elephant's Child

Kamala Harris is the new junior California U.S. Senator, replacing Barbara Boxer. She recently published an op-ed explaining why she would not vote to confirm Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. She had previously held office as California’s Attorney General, so her failure to understand the Law is  truly shocking. In a tweet she said:

“Judge Gorsuch has consistently valued legalisms over real lives. I won’t support his nomination. “

“In other words, Harris has problems with Gorsuch because he believes in the rule of law and wants to follow the U.S. Constitution.

Her actual op-ed was also a real treat. After stating Gorsuch was impressive, she offers the same trite and thin analysis of his rulings that has been provided by progressive, social justice advocates.”

…The rest of Judge Gorsuch’s record also shows he’s willing to favor corporations over the American people. He believes companies can impose their religious views on employees and deny women birth-control coverage. And he has been hostile toward federal agencies that protect American workers and consumers.

Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, the civil rights hero who argued Brown and inspired my career, once bluntly defined his judicial philosophy, saying, “You do what you think is right and let the law catch up.” In simple terms, Justice Marshall appreciated that the ultimate goal of the law was justice. By stark contrast, Judge Gorsuch has consistently valued narrow legalisms over real lives. I must do what’s right. I cannot support his nomination.

Senator Harris has the frequent Leftist approach to the law, which is giving us so much trouble. The law is not about feelings, nor empathy, nor sympathy, nor pity. There’s a reason for the symbol of “Lady Justice.”

Lady Justice is the symbol of the judiciary. She carries three symbols of the rule of law: a sword symbolizing the court’s coercive power, scales representing the weighing of competing claims, and a blindfold indicating impartiality. This particular representation says:

Justice is the end of government. It is the end of civilized society. It ever has been, ever will be pursued until it be obtained or until liberty be lost in the pursuit.

The judicial oath required of every federal judge and justice says “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I…will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me… under the Constitution and laws of the United States, so help me God.

As I wrote back in 2015—

“Empathy” is the word that has caused so much concern. For empathy has no place in jurisprudence. Federal judges swear an oath to administer justice without respect to persons. If they are to feel more partial to the “young teenage mom,” the “disabled,” the “African-American,” the “gay,” the “old,” then they are not and cannot be impartial, and the rule of law counts for nothing. The “depth and breadth of one’s empathy” is exactly what the judicial oath insists that judges renounce. That impartiality is what guarantees equal protection under the law.

That is what the blindfold is all about.

Nobody said it is easy.

 



Here’s What Happened Last Fall at Yale University by The Elephant's Child

I don’t know how closely you have been following the general insanity on campus in this country, the violence, intolerance and suppression of free speech. At Yale this all began with, of all things, Halloween costumes. Do watch the whole 12 minutes of this We the Internet documentary, it’s an important part of understanding what is going on.

It’s the language war again. This time it is “cultural appropriation” —obviously a bad thing to appropriate someone else’s culture—like tacos, or Chicken Vindaloo, or French perfume? German beer?

It’s clearly time to return to “in loco parentis” or “in the place of parents”, which was once the way college faculty and administrators regarded themselves as the teachers and supervisors of a big group of kids who didn’t know very much and were there to learn how to be grown-ups. In those days, these kids would have promptly been sent home to reflect and beg for readmission at some point.

But then the Sixties arrived, and Vietnam protests by kids who were scared to death they would get drafted and were therefore virulently anti-war. Without getting into the morality of the war, kids rioted and scared faculty and administrators to death. They invaded offices, did a lot of damage, and proclaimed themselves adults, and not to be bossed around by a bunch of timid eggheads, or something like that.

And so it was. Colleges once had “hours” times when kids had to be in their dorms. Kids not conforming to the hours got longer hours when they had to be in their dorms, were promptly sent home at any offense for readjustment, and might not get back in until the next semester. It was a big deal. 18 and 19 year-olds knew they were not adults, and didn’t expect to be treated as such. A new survey reveals that Millenials believe that you don’t become an “adult” until age 30.

And the children have been running the institutions ever since. A significant part of the faculty were Vietnam protesters who avoided the draft with educational deferments to get their PhDs, and since faculties take part in new hiring decisions, mostly refused to hire conservatives who went off to war and made it back. What will happen to this generation of children who won’t grow up, who need “safe spaces” to protect them from words they don’t like, and consider it their right to act out when someone says words they don’t like? Who will hire them? Who will support them until they reach the ripe old age of 30? Going to be interesting to say the least.



Islamophobia, Freedom of Religion, Free Speech And Hate Speech by The Elephant's Child

The Canadian  House of Commons has passed a motion that singles out the criticism of Islam as a form of “Islamophobia.” Critics condemn it as an attack on free speech. There’s a lot of that going around these days, especially on college campuses. But also in governments, at all levels. The Left has raised any unpleasant speech to the level of “hate speech,” a fuzzy phrase that doesn’t define the speech, but condemns the speaker as a bad person. To be condemned as fascist, racist, homophobe, Islamophobe, sexist, etc, etc, etc.

This is particularly abhorrent for those who have been elected to office, for going around with the bad person label may mean that you lose your next election, but also that your opponent has some real ammunition to destroy you. But there is no such thing as “hate speech.” There are hateful words, or cruel words, or even language intended to incite violence. But let’s try to be accurate with our language.

The fear of being so labeled has everyone ever so careful with their use of language and avoidance of any suggestion that could end up with the BP label. Words get ultra-careful. Obvious things cannot be said or done. It becomes a careful time with everyone tip-toeing around what in an ordinary time would be a straightforward condemnation or disagreement. On the other hand, tweets, comments and social media, are increasingly rude, foul-mouthed, nasty and increasingly unprintable. The increasing prissiness of official-speak is driving ordinary folk quite bonkers.

The picture illustrating the article is a photo of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau behind a placard saying “Diversity is Canada’s strength” (in two languages). This is also nonsense. Diversity is a current buzzword of the Left, who are trying to divide the people by forcing them to readjust any organization or particularly any photo so there is the proper representation of skin tones and ethnicities—none of which have any importance at all. It’s what’s inside that counts. Is there a diversity of thought, of outlook, of knowledge? Are there nice congenial people or only rude and nasty ones? Are these people with whom you have something in common or strangers? Honest and trustworthy?  The minute you start asking real questions the idea of diversity of skin color gets silly. Doesn’t matter.

The more important question is — why has “diversity” suddenly become the top question or issue? I saw a piece recently where someone was questioning Germany’s troubles with “migrants.” And someone responded “But don’t you understand how important the diversity is to Germany”— or something to that effect. That’s just my memory. And of course the Canadian discussion soon got into the freedom of religion issue regarding Islamophobia. It is not a matter of freedom of religion when the proponents of one form of that religion want everyone else to submit or be killed, and keep demonstrating ever gorier ways that they kill dissenters or just those who are out of line.

I wrote something a few days ago about the increasing extent to which people on the right and those on the left were not speaking the same language, and it is true, and intentional. Language is becoming a tactic and a weapon in our increasing division.To suggest that the Left speaks in the language of feelings and emotions is only the beginning of the differences, which are growing ever closer to all-out war. More to come.



Just an Ordinary Wednesday, Like All Wednesdays by The Elephant's Child

Wednesday, an ordinary middle of the week day. Not Spring yet, though there are a few lonely daffodils peeking out here and there. A terrorist attack in London at the Houses of Parliament, Three killed, many injured, terrorist killed. ISIS celebrates. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Nunes reports that Trumps’ personal communications may have been collected by intelligence agencies, details widely disseminated. Hackers claim to have breached 300 million APPLE accounts, Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan warned the European Union that if the diplomatic spat continues, Europeans won’t be able to walk their own streets safely anywhere in the world. The Turks threaten to send 15,000 migrants a month to Europe. Other than some horrendous rapes of underage children, it was just an ordinary almost Spring Wednesday. Sheesch!



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.




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