American Elephants


The Red Tape Is Far More Than Annoying — It Has a More Sinister Purpose by The Elephant's Child

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In a previous post, I linked to an essay by Myron Magnet from City Journal titled “Why are Voters So Angry,” and I added my usual “Do read the whole thing,” but most of you didn’t (I can tell because WordPress tells me how many clicked on each link). So I’m posting another  link and urging you to read the whole essay once again.

The problem is the Administrative State. Socialists, who abound on the Left, have given up on the government’s owning the means of production (and thereby enriching themselves). They have realized that they don’t have to own America’s businesses, they can just control them with government regulation. And their control is far advanced, and nobody seems to recognize just what is happening.

Myron Magnet starts at the beginning and explains just how we have lost control of our government and what we need to do about it. Most adults not part of the Loony Left recognize that socialism is not a good form of government, and ends up as Venezuela, Cuba or Stalinist Russia, in hunger and poverty and desperation. Most adults excludes, of course the Bernie-worshiping Millennials who don’t know about Venezuelans starving and dying without medicine, and just think he’s kind of cute with his great shock of white hair.

But if we cease to enshrine American exceptionalism at the heart of our culture—if we set equal value on such Third World cultural tendencies as passive resignation, fatalism, superstition, devaluation of learning, resentment of imaginary plots by the powerful, and a belief that gratification deferred is gratification forgone—the exceptionalism of our institutions becomes all the more precarious.

Supercharging American anger over illegal immigration and its consequences is the politically correct ban on openly discussing it, with even the most reasoned reservation dismissed as racism and yahooism. And political correctness generates its own quantum of anger among citizens, who think of freedom of speech and debate as central to American exceptionalism. But elite culture stigmatizes plain speaking, so that now a rapist or a murderer is a “person who committed a crime” or an “individual who was incarcerated,” says the Obama Department of Justice, or, according to the latest humbug from the Department of Education, a “justice-involved individual.” Implicit in these euphemisms is the theory that “society,” not the criminal, is to blame for crime, a long-exploded idea aimed at blurring the distinction between right and wrong.

Well, there you go. That’s what I have just been going on about. Here we are in a mortal battle for the future of our country with candidates we hardly would have chosen as our champions. Hillary has essentially promised to continue Obama’s current drift into catastrophe, if only we will allow her to be America’s first woman something or other, and Donald Trump who has recognized the anger and frustration and answered it  with a burst of pure populism.

Jobs are created by the private sector, which makes the economy grow. Jobs created by the federal government just mean another cost to the taxpayers for agencies that cannot fulfill the task assigned to the agency. I’m not sure I can find an agency without a scandal attached. They are paid 78% more than their counterparts in the private sector, and there isn’t really enough work for them to do. The average federal employee earns about $119,000 annually, including salary and benefits, compared to $67,000 for the private sector. And they are receiving that generous compensation for plastering the private sector with so many regulations and so much red tape that the private sector cannot provide the engine of free market capitalism at which they have been so successful.

Read Myron Magnet’s essay on the Administrative State, and pass it on to family and friends. It is important that people realize what is happening to our country. Unfortunately the Left’s big ideas don’t work in the long term, or did you think that those quaint old cars in the Castro’s Cuba were there as theater for the tourists?



Lots of Name-Calling, Not Much Common Sense! by The Elephant's Child

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution reads:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment
of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;
or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press,
or the right of the people peaceably to assemble,
and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The establishment of religion bit means that the government shall not establish a state religion nor prefer one religion over another. Seems simple, but there have been continuous arguments over the meaning ever since.

In the current discussions of Moslem immigration, we are enjoined by fear of being called Islamophobic, bigoted, and, of course, racist—or be accused of violating the Constitution. Yet Americans watch what is going on in Europe as they try to cope with the influx of Muslim migrants and are deeply concerned that the numbers of “Syrian refugees” that President Obama is trying to get into the country will lead to similar rashes of killings by adherents of a radical version of Islam.

Most of Europe is more concerned about anti-migrant backlash than of figuring out how to deal with the migrants. The entire issue is deeply confused by fear of seeming not sufficiently compassionate, and leads to an absurd situation where the President of the United States scolded the American people for expecting him to at least  use the phrase ‘radical Islam’ in response to the massacre in Orlando.

“For a while now the main contribution of some of my friends on the other side of the aisle have made in the fight against ISIL is to criticize this Administration and me for not using the phrase ‘radical Islam,’” Mr. Obama said Tuesday, using his preferred acronym for Islamic State. “That’s the key, they tell us. We cannot beat ISIL unless we call them ‘radical Islamists.’ What exactly would using this label accomplish? What exactly would it change?”

Since the President asked, allow us to answer. We’re unaware of any previous American war fought against an enemy it was considered indecorous or counterproductive to name. Dwight Eisenhower routinely spoke of “international Communism” as an enemy. FDR said “Japan” or “Japanese” 15 times in his 506-word declaration of war after Pearl Harbor. If the U.S. is under attack, Americans deserve to hear their President say exactly who is attacking us and why. You cannot effectively wage war, much less gauge an enemy’s strengths, without a clear idea of who you are fighting.

Mr. Obama’s refusal to speak of “radical Islam” also betrays his failure to understand the sources of Islamic State’s legitimacy and thus its allure to young Muslim men. The threat is religious and ideological.

Islamic State sees itself as the vanguard of a religious movement rooted in a literalist interpretation of Islamic scriptures that it considers binding on all Muslims everywhere.

The administration is attempting, as usual, to ignore the standard refugee settlement process in America, and the UN and the administration are scheming to find other ways to boost the number of “Syrian refugees” entering the country, from 10,000 this year to possibly 200.000 a year.

Refugees and government officials are expecting this crisis to last 10 or 15 years. It’s time that we no longer work as business as usual … UNHCR next month [March 2016] is convening a meeting to look at what are being called “alternative safe pathways” for Syrian refugees. Maybe it’s hard for the U.S. to go from 2,000 to 200,000 refugees resettled in a year, but maybe there are ways we can ask our universities to offer scholarships to Syrian students. Maybe we can tweak some of our immigration policies to enable Syrian-Americans who have lived here to bring not only their kids and spouses but their uncles and their grandmothers. There may be ways that we could encourage Syrians to come to the U.S. without going through this laborious, time-consuming process of refugee resettlement.” (Emphasis added.)

“USC has revealed that it is offering five free tuition programs for Syrian refugees, including one in the school’s journalism program.”

It seems to me that some straight talk would help the situation. In the United States, we do not allow “honor killings,” homosexuals are accepted, not killed. and killers go to prison for a very long time or face execution.  Wife-beating or child abuse are against the law as is sexual assault. People are free to change their religion if they choose, and adherents of one religion are not allowed to attack those of a different religion. Our freedom of speech applies to everyone, and people may have differing opinions without fear. It’s not “Islamophobic” to tell people what they can expect, but may be helpful.

Bremen, Germany —”24 cases of migrant sexual assault at Music Festival.”

Zirndorf, Germany — Explosion of suitcase bomb next to migrant reception centre reported Bavarian Radio



Milton Friedman Explains Free Trade. This is the Classic. by The Elephant's Child

This is a classic long (48 min.) lecture by Milton Friedman from 1978, in which he explains free trade and tariffs, how they work, why we get confused, trade deficits and government interference. There’s a long section where the film is bad (in the original) with snow/static/ interference early in the film, but it clears up fairly promptly at about 20.42 and remains clear for the remainder of the video. You can still hear Milton Friedman perfectly well throughout. Take notes. Play again until you feel confident that you have it down.

Here’s another, in which Milton Friedman debates a protectionist. It’s from January 2012, and is between Milton Friedman, Michael Walker, and Steven Cohen, from the “Time to Choose”series. This one is just over 15 minutes long.

Our politicians are just ordinary human beings like the rest of us, and they get just as many nutty ideas as we do. Many of the Republicans who are as yet uncomfortable with Donald Trump, are because of his misunderstanding of the Trade issue. Many assume that a “trade deficit” is a bad thing, but do not recognize that the excess dollars we pay for a large quantity of stuff from another country must be invested in the United States. This is not to suggest that there are not some very bad deals, but free trade is the goal.



It’s Going to Be a Very Ugly and Angry Campaign! by The Elephant's Child

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This is going to be a poisonously vicious campaign. We have two candidates with very high negatives, and there are many in each party who are not happy with their party’s choice of candidate.  Here’s the Left’s reaction to Donald Trump’s nomination as the Republican candidate for the office of the presidency.

Do  you think that the word possibly went out that “dark” was the word of choice to describe Trump’s speech? Some threw in an extra word, like “resentful”, “Angry”, “diabolical.”Does an e-mail just go out to all the major leftist magazines and websites.? I’d love to see that one hacked. I’ve always wondered just how they do it, and how they get everyone to promptly fall in line.

Donald Trump’s speech pointed out the crime rate, the troubled cities dominated by minorities, the numbers of blacks killed, the numbers of policemen killed, black children killed. The reporters on the left rose as one and dashed for the fact checkers. Obviously racist to blame black people for killing other black people. And found to their astonishment that the figures quoted by Mr. Trump were absolutely correct.

Keep an eye out, next up will be assertions that Mr. Trump is fascist, and racist.  Rachel Maddow has already compared Mr. Trump to Hitler. (So original!) Here’s Salon:

The final night of the Republican National Convention was as confusing and incoherent as it was disturbing. Before Donald Trump brought forward his chilling imitation of history’s greatest fascists, Ivanka Trump and Peter Thiel made bizarre plays for the votes of women and LGBT people.

Ivanka Trump riffed on issues like equal pay and affordable childcare, which are typically Democratic issues. Thiel announced that he’s “proud to be gay” to wild applause from a roomful of people who are the very base that voted against the rights and dignity of LGBT people, over and over again.

Democrats are deeply worried. Hillary does not have the campaign skills that Bill did, people justifiably do not trust her, and the graft in which the Clintons engaged through the Clinton Foundation is beginning to become public knowledge. The people do not understand why she has not been indicted, and believe that the fix is in. And, frankly, she is just not likeable, and the Democrats know it.

Many Republicans are concerned about Mr. Trumps understanding of trade. He seems to believe that a “trade deficit” means that we are getting cheated. He is opposed to NAFTA which has been a very successful agreement for all three partners. He is  correct about the Trans-Pacific Partnership which is not a good deal for the U.S.

He has a large following among a very angry percentage of the population who are sick of illegal immigration, haven’t had a raise in years, are tired of excessive regulation, the faltering economy, and a president who is trying to run the country through executive orders, and ignoring the Constitution. Many black Americans have been disappointed in President Obama. They expected race relations to improve, not to develop into shootings and riots. Union members too, are responding to Trump’s message of hope. He has focused on the top issue of the day, which is the crime rate, and talked about creating jobs. The campaign has become more disciplined.

He said that Hillary has asked her people to chant just three words: “I’m with her!” Mr. Trump said he had a different chant that was also just three words — “I’m with you!”

It was a powerful moment.



We Thought They Weren’t Taking ISIS As Seriously As They Should! by The Elephant's Child

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Some have said that Hillary’s greatest accomplishment as Secretary of State was to make John Kerry look competent.

Secretary Kerry was in Vienna Friday to amend the Montreal Protocol to phase out hydroflurocarbons, or HFCs, from basic household and commercial appliances like air conditioners, refrigerators, and inhalers.” (Offhand, one would think mid-July a poor time to be suggesting any ban on air conditioners and refrigerators)

Kerry was meeting with 45 nations’ defense ministers and foreign ministers, working together on the challenge of the Islamic State and terrorism. “It’s hard,” he said,” for some people to grasp it, but what we — you — are doing here right now is of equal importance because it has the ability to literally save life on the planet itself.”

According to the Washington Free Beacon, “Secretary of State John Kerry said in Vienna that air conditioners and refrigerators are as big a threat to life as the threat of terrorism posed by groups like the Islamic State.”

Perhaps Mr. Kerry is merely following up on the Democratic Platform which calls for a WWII-Scale Mobilization to Solve the Climate Crisis:

Democratic platform 2016: ‘We are committed to a national mobilization, and to leading a global effort to mobilize nations to address this threat on a scale not seen since World War II. In the first 100 days of the next administration, the President will convene a summit of the world’s best engineers, climate scientists, policy experts, activists, and indigenous communities to chart a course to solve the climate crisis.’

With all of the excitement focused on the GOP Convention in Cleveland, we missed the Senate Democrats’ “Web of Denial” Climate Change Event.

“Climate change is real,” asserted Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Jean Shaheen (D-NH), and Martin Heinrich (D-NM). So what? Gravity and sunrise are also real. That doesn’t imply we cause them or that we would be better off without them. Climate has been changing since the origin of the atmosphere. The only constant about climate is change.

Furthermore, the world has mostly cooled for the last 3000 years.

It is warmer in urban areas, because of manmade air conditioners and trucks and cars and concrete buildings that reflect heat. “But the only place where carbon dioxide (CO2) increase causes a temperature increase is in computer models programmed to show exactly that”.

Every record from every time period shows that temperature increase precedes CO2 increase, not the other way around.

We cannot predict the future. Everybody tries, but it just doesn’t work.Think 1929, Pearl Harbor, 9/11, Paris, Nice, Orlando, and climate is no different.”Not even the world’s leading experts can meaningfully forecast future climate. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated the following in its 2001 Assessment Report:”

The climate system is a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.

Dr. Tim Ball, climate scientist, adds “No wonder every single prediction they have made since 1990 was wrong! If your prediction is wrong, your science is wrong.”

“Across the world $1 billion is spent each and every day on climate science — and mostly wasted.”

So here’s a quick little quiz with just five easy questions to to test your climate knowledge, and those of your friends:



How Corruption Starts and How it Grows. All Perfectly Innocent of Course. by The Elephant's Child

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Just a coincidence, or a sign of the times? Victor Davis Hanson’s column yesterday spoke of “Alphabet Soup Corruption” in which he pointed out that there is hardly a single government agency or cabinet whose reputation has not nosedived since 2008. Scandals abound, from the EPA to the IRS, NASA, VA, ICE, DHS, and the Secret Service, the GSA, HHS,  and Medicare and the Affordable Care Act, and many more.  I’ve been saving articles about agency scandals, and I’m getting quite a collection.

What do all these scandal and embarrassments have in common? Aside from the fact that many appointees were selected based on their progressive bona fides and that they saw their missions to promote liberal causes, sometimes even at the cost of overriding their own agencies’ mandates, there was a widespread sense that the law simply did not apply to them. The President set the tone with a series of executive orders that overrode federal immigration law. He arbitrarily suspended some elements of the Affordable Care Act for fear that they would prove unpopular in the months before the 2012 election, and has bypassed congressional oversight and jurisdiction, whether by sidestepping the Senate’s ratification of treaties with the Iran deal or allowing the EPA to create new laws regulating coal plants and water standards that were never ratified by Congress.

The ensuing message was that social awareness, fairness, and egalitarianism trumped the rule of law. And the result was that an IRS director, a Secretary of State, an Attorney General, and a Department of Homeland Security Director were assessed not by whether they executed the law but by whether they promoted a progressive agenda.

So today we have an announcement from the White House Council of Economic Advisors — supposedly an independent group of scholars and economists ‘who were supposed to give the president non-partisan advice on economic issues.”

Their idea seems to be that since college graduates are apt to earn more than those who have not gone to college, in the aggregate, then their earning more will boost the economy, therefore their debt is a good thing. American Thinker added:

Student loan debt has nearly doubled under President Obama, from $664 billion to $1.3 trillion. So how does being buried under a mountain of debt help the economy?

It doesn’t.

Not every kid heading to college will major in something that guarantees a financially rewarding career.  Think dance, or women’s studies, or any of the other “studies” majors. Offhand, I can think of far more majors that are not directed to a well-paid career than those that are. And young people often pursue that which is fashionable at the moment rather than rewarding. I recall a conversation with my daughter in which she announced haughtily that she just couldn’t see herself sitting in a cubicle shoving papers around on a desk. ( I should remind her of that one again).

As far as that goes, there are many very successful careers that do not require a college education. Peter Thiel has reportedly established the Thiel Fellowship Program for college students which offers  $100,000 to college students with venture ideas who agree to drop out of college and pursue their venture. He’s thinking of the kids who have ideas that “just won’t wait.”

There is some decidedly fuzzy thinking going on in the White House. President Obama assumes that every kid should go to college, which would eliminate all sorts of entrepreneurs and all sorts of careers. The idea that student loan debt boosts the economy is only loosely tethered to reality. Unemployed students or those defaulting on their loans leave taxpayers on the hook. Students may be too fiscally ignorant to be able to make good choices about how much debt is prudent. It should be the obligation of colleges to be good guides.

Colleges and Universities have grown lush with resort-like climbing walls and gyms, and way too many administrators. When the federal government raises the amount students can borrow, the cost of college goes up across the board. We need some serious fiscal restraint here.



Politics and Promises of Equality, When What the People Want is Their Freedom Back. by The Elephant's Child

We are in an election season, so politics dominates the news, with ideas devised, not necessarily to improve anything at all, but to get votes. The season of promising big giveaways to the voters on the one hand, while promising to slash budgets on the other, with no apparent awareness that the two are incompatible. (Are you all conventioned out? And are you prepared for another one next week?)

Thomas Sowell, who always has his eye on basic common sense, addressed “the dumbest idea in politics,” which plays a very large role in political conversation. Dr. Sowell’s nomination for the most stupid idea in politics would be “the assumption that people would be evenly or randomly distributed in incomes, institutions, occupations or awards, in the absence of somebody doing somebody wrong.”

Political crusades, bureaucratic empires and lucrative personal careers as grievance mongers have been built on the foundation of that assumption, which is almost never tested against any facts.

A recent article in the New York Times saw as a problem the fact that females are greatly underrepresented among the highest rated chess players. Innumerable articles, TV stories and political outcries have been based on an “underrepresentation” of women in Silicon Valley, seen as a problem that needs to be solved.

Are there girls out there dying to play chess, who find the doors slammed shut in their faces? Are there women with Ph.D.s in computer science from M.I.T. and Cal Tech who get turned away when they apply for jobs in Silicon Valley?

Well yes, and the claim that the candidate will demand equal pay for women is loud on the campaign-trail, despite the fact that unequal pay for the same work has been against the law since 1963. Inequality comes from different career choices. Men and women make different choices. It’s quite natural—way back when humanity were hunter-gatherers, men were the hunters and women the gatherers. Human nature.

There are countries where children are expected to follow in the same trade as their parent. There’s no real opportunity to do something different.There are many countries where women are expected to care for home and children, and any other choice is unthinkable.

Discrimination plays a large part not only in politics, but as employment for attorneys. “Billions of dollars, in the aggregate,  have changed hands as a result of individual lawsuits charging discrimination,” Dr Sowell added.

The Left is deeply enamored with the idea that everyone should be equal, (except themselves of course). They welcome change in the interest of equality and individual liberty, although equality doesn’t really go with individual liberty. You have perhaps noticed that in their drive for equality, equality is supposed to come from vastly increased government regulation. Forced equality goes with their push for control of everything, which comes from lots of regulation from the wise and superior people in government agencies.

Why anyone would believe that would increase individual liberty is a mystery. The thing is, they just don’t like human nature  either, and want to fix it.  And they don’t like actual liberty at all.. They hate the First Amendment, the repeal of Citizen’s  United is in their platform, as is silencing anyone who ‘denies’ catastrophic global warming that is threatening our very survival, or at least the survival of Manhattan with the rise of the seas. Trouble with that is that some very important figures in the catastrophic global warming movement have revealed that their real goal is a vast transfer of wealth from the rich nations (us) to the poor nations, in the name of  — (of course) equality.

I think most Americans would rank freedom above equality. It’s freedom that allows people to have ideas and take it out to their garage and struggle to make it develop and grow, and in America there has usually been the possibility to take that idea and open a business without too much fear of government regulation and too much fear of endless red tape that makes a start-up impossible. The folks on the Left insist that they want new businesses and new jobs, but they cannot understand that the controls and regulation and requirements and fines and inspections that they find essential for control — kill the businesses they claim they want created.

When they have controlled and regulated ordinary people into more satisfactory people, and they have devised better rules for everyone to follow and better laws — we will have a better chance of reaching “that world as it ought to be” that the Obamas speak of. “The world as it is just won’t do,”they say, and they consider that a proper goal. They believe they have an obligation to strive for a brave new world.  Oh yes, that was the name of a book, wasn’t it? Oddly enough, writers of science fiction cannot stop demonstrating the dreadful results of trying to fix humanity. But then, we’ve had some real-life attempts as well — Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Mugabe, Pol Pot, Kim Jong Il, Mao Zedong, Saddam,  Assad — the list goes on and on.

Set free, ordinary people can do some pretty amazing things, like building a free country, and inventing all sorts of advancement in human life, curing disease and creating great works of art  and writing marvelous books to warn us about what could go wrong if we are not paying attention.




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