American Elephants


The Least Diverse Place in America by The Elephant's Child

You have probably noticed, there have been enough riots and demonstrations to prevent the possibility of hearing someone with a differing opinion. They claim to champion diversity, but that’s a lie. They want everyone to hold the same leftist beliefs, and frankly be unaware that there are other ideas. They used to call it “brainwashing.”Does it only matter if it is your college student?



The Problem is Having to Live With The Choices We Made by The Elephant's Child

Former President Barack Obama has returned from his South Seas vacation, ready to resume trying to tear down the administration of his successor. Valerie Jarrett has reportedly been directing the resistance in his absence. Obama, meanwhile, has snagged a $400,000 fee for an hour long speech for a Wall Street firm, and a very large advance for books from Michelle and himself, so funds are not a worry.

It’s a sharp contrast with his own predecessor. George W. Bush gracefully left the limelight to avoid causing problems for his successor, and has refrained from comments on the Obama administration, appearing in public only with his programs of bike trips with recovering vets, and to talk about his new hobby of  painting, apparently inspired by Winston Churchill’s book Painting as a Pastime. President Bush has painted the world leaders with whom he engaged, and more recently, the heroes of the wars who fought under his responsibility in Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors.

President Bush recognized that history would judge what he had accomplished and where he had failed, and left it in the hands of the historians. Who will argue endlessly.

An ex-president hanging around and trying to run the opposition is something new and not very attractive. Americans are inclined to do some summing-up at the end of an administration, and it’s not often the admiration and attention that one hopes for. By the time a president leaves office, the public is usually thoroughly tired of them and hopeful that the new president can do a better job. Granted, that this year the Democrats, out of office and out of appealing candidates, out of ideas were insanely furious that their expected continuum with Hillary didn’t happen, because they don’t like Trump and cannot understand why Hillary didn’t win.

President Donald Trump has done quite well. His first 100 days have been celebrated by his supporters who are far more pleased than the media wants to acknowledge. His cabinet appointments have been outstanding, are in a position to offer excellent advice, and have hit the ground running. Neil Gorsuch’s appointment to the Supreme Court is a triumph. Nikki Haley has quickly taken charge at the U.N. and is proving to be a star. Syria has been put on notice, and the president is determined to reduce the corporate tax to 15% which will give the economy a boost. The ignorant leftist media is already gasping that the government won’t have any money.

Never fear. Corporations don’t really pay taxes. We do. When a corporation’s taxes are raised, they raise prices for their goods and we pay for it. When they don’t have to raise prices or do more of their business overseas to pay the taxes, their funds go for expanding and innovating and the economy improves. We currently have the highest corporate tax rate in the world, and it has been a drag on the economy. Between 1974 and 2001 average growth in the economy was 3.3%. A return to 3% from the dismal performance of the stagnant Obama economy would mean the economy could expand to $38.3 trillion by 2040.

The weeks of Obama’s vacation have been filled with the scandals of the Obama administration exposed, and they are not pretty. I understand that they want Sasha to finish high school at Sidwell Friends, but trying to occupy the media’s attention may not be wise.



The French, Coming Apart. And the Rest of Us Too? by The Elephant's Child

Christopher Caldwell has a fascinating piece at City Journal about “The French, Coming Apart” He writes about Christophe Guilluy who has spent decades in France as a housing consultant in rapidly changing neighborhoods, studying gentrification, social problems, immigration tensions, deindustrialization, economic decline, ethnic conflict, and changes in politics and the rise of populist parties.  It is a ground-level look, Caldwell says, at the economic, residential, and democratic consequences of globalization in France.

France’s political system is as polarized as our own, this discussion arises in the midst of a French election which has selected Marine Le Pen described as a far-right nationalist or populist and Emmanuel Macron, a representative of France’s elite who is apt to win decisively, but to represent the status quo which is hugely unpopular. Unsurprisingly, immigration is a major issue. President Hollande’s approval rating is down around 6 percent, Macron represents more of the same, apologizes for French colonialism, and is a fierce defender of France’s open immigration system.

A process that Guilluy calls métropolisation has cut French society in two. In 16 dynamic urban areas (Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Aix-en-Provence, Toulouse, Lille, Bordeaux, Nice, Nantes, Strasbourg, Grenoble, Rennes, Rouen, Toulon, Douai-Lens, and Montpellier), the world’s resources have proved a profitable complement to those found in France. These urban areas are home to all the country’s educational and financial institutions, as well as almost all its corporations and the many well-paying jobs that go with them….

Most of France’s small cities, in fact, are in la France périphérique.) Rather, the term measures distance from the functioning parts of the global economy. France’s best-performing urban nodes have arguably never been richer or better-stocked with cultural and retail amenities. But too few such places exist to carry a national economy. When France’s was a national economy, its median workers were well compensated and well protected from illness, age, and other vicissitudes. In a knowledge economy, these workers have largely been exiled from the places where the economy still functions. They have been replaced by immigrants.

Guilluy shows that if French people were willing to do the work in the prosperous urban centers, there would be no place for them to live. It’s an interesting look at French societal problem, but also at British and American developments. Caldwell calls it globalization, but I’m not sure that it isn’t something quite different. Working class Frenchmen no longer exist in Paris. Multiculturalism, artificial intelligence, freedom of speech, political correctness, socialism. Some of the same effects led to Britain leaving the European Union.  70% of Frenchmen tell pollsters that there are too many foreigners in France. Jews are leaving at the rate of around 7,000 a year, fearing for their safety.

I remember reading, years ago, that the globalist NGOs saw the future of America as the people crowded together in very large high-rise cities with connecting roadways, and the land returned to wilderness in between. One wondered where the food would come from, among other things. but this piece brought back that memory. The big cities of the country are becoming unaffordable, with tiny houses, and apartments made of shipping containers, to crowd more people in. My own sleepy suburb has become a high-rise city with affordable living apartments developing all over. Reports of tiny spaces renting for outrageous sums in the Bay Area abound.

It is an interesting piece and both disturbing and thought-provoking. If you want to be provoked into pondering just where we are going, I recommend it. Paul Mirengoff at Power Line writes about it as well, but mostly in reference to the French election.

Makes me wonder if in pursuit of “draining the swamp” in Washington D.C. it wouldn’t be a good idea to move some agencies out to cities across the country. It’s getting way too incestuous back there.



What the Heck is “Hate Speech” Anyway? by The Elephant's Child

I do worry rather a lot about language, perhaps because I was an English major. More correctly, because the Left attempts to control the dialogue by changing the meaning of words. Immigration or immigrant is one example, by conflating the term with illegal immigrant, illegal alien, (both perfectly acceptable and accurate terms) refugees (and how that word is defined). But I have posed this question before.

The more problematic case of language is much more difficult.  The words are “hate speech.” Exactly what is hate speech? From the current dialogue, it is apparently any speech that you don’t agree with. Clearly that is an impossible definition, yet that is the basic problem in college campuses all across the country.

Students have been taught that they do not have to listen to speech that offends their delicate sensibilities by not agreeing with their preconceived ideas. Enough professors have spoken out in the media to indicate their despair that the students they are expected to teach—simply don’t know anything. They are unfamiliar with the most basic history, geography, civics and science. Not the hard stuff. They don’t know who won the Civil War. They don’t know who we fought in the Revolution. I could go on at length, but just those two missing facts summarize the situation fairly well.

Headlines from the battle: “Student activists demand college ‘take action’ against conservative journalists.” American Thinker.  “Students claim Objective ‘Truth’ is a ‘White Supremacist Myth,”Breitbart. “Why Colleges Have a Right to Reject Hateful Speakers Like Ann Coulter” New Republic.  “It’s Time to Crush Campus Censorship” National Review, “Those ‘Snowflakes’ Have Chilling Effects Even Beyond the Campus” WSJ, “On Political Correctness” The American Scholar  “Report: Women’s and gender studies courses have increased 300% since 1990” The College Fix  “College makes it easier to graduate by requiring students to learn less: The College Fix.  Those are just a few of dozens.

Middlebury has become famous for rioting to refuse to listen to Dr. Charles Murray, a noted social scientist.  Claremont students refused to hear Heather MacDonald. It was very clear that the students had no idea whatsoever what the speakers represented, or what they might say. In the case of Dr. Murray, the Southern Poverty Law Center (a far-left fringe group made false claims about Dr. Murray). In the case of Heather MacDonald, it was “Black Lives Matter” giving a completely false impression of what she might say. Sad. The kids in both cases would have profited from and learned something valuable from the speeches.

The students are wrapped up in the idea that they should not have to listen to anyone with whom they might disagree, and completely ignorant of the facts. The fault lies with faculty and administration who should have packed up the offenders the following morning and sent them home to perhaps be admitted the following semester — if they had learned anything. That’s what happened to friends of mine for significantly lesser offenses, but that was a long time ago.

You see how the words “hate speech” have corrupted the situation. There is no such thing as hate speech. There are inflammatory words, there is incitement to riot,  there’s shouting ‘fire’ in a crowded theater, but I submit there is no such thing as hate speech. We are watching daily, people thrown in prison, sentenced to hard labor for 15 or 20 years, as the fat junior Kim just did to two Americans, as happens throughout the Middle East — and some people can’t get it through their heads that the Freedom of Speech guaranteed to us by the Constitution matters. There aren’t all that many places in the world where you can’t be jailed for speaking your mind. In a moment in time when the language out there (do you read the comments?) has been vile, insulting, vulgar, and just plain offensive. Well, we do live in interesting times.

ADDENDUM: Over at the Federalist, John Daniel Davidson also wrote about Hate Speech, and wrote even more thoroughly about what it is and isn’t, and it’s very well done. The photo at the top of his post is not of college students, but of older folks with pre-printed signs from the “antiwar committee” urging viewers to “Stop the War on Muslims at Home and Abroad,” “Unite Against Islamophobia,” “End Racism,” and “Stop Racism, Islamophobia and War!” It should be observed that there is no war on Muslims, no such thing as Islamophobia, our problems with radical Islam have to do with their war on the West, their habit of chopping off heads, throwing people off of tall buildings, or burning them alive if we don’t submit to their radical religion. We have not yet declared war, since Obama abruptly pulled the troops out of a hard-won peaceful Iraq, but he has left a nuclear North Korea and a nuclear Iran for his successor to deal with. Again the Federalist photo is a good example of using language inaccurately to make their point, which thanks to our Constitution, they are completely free to do. But we are also completely free to make fun of them.



A Quotation for a Rainy Monday in April by The Elephant's Child

Masterpieces created by a committee are notably few in number, but the United States Constitution is certainly one of them. Amended only twenty-seven times in 215 years, it came into being just as the world was about to undergo the most profound—and continuing—period of economic change the human race has known. The locus of power in the American economy has shifted from sector to sector as that economy has developed. Whole sections of the country have risen and fallen in economic importance. New methods of doing business and economic institutions undreamed of by the Founding Fathers have come into existence in that time, while others have vanished. Fortunes beyond the imagination of anyone living in the pre-industrial world have been built and been destroyed. And yet the Constitution endures, and the country continues to flourish under it.

—John Steele Gordon:  An Empire of Wealth



Accomplishment and Denigration: Goes With the Job. by The Elephant's Child

The President of the United States of America is often referred to as “the most powerful man in the world.” Well, yes, but there are all sorts of other superlatives that can be supplied. Maxine Waters keeps blathering on about impeaching Donald Trump and simultaneously claiming she never said any such thing. Democrats are clearly suffering from ‘Trump Derangement Syndrome,” which apparently results in not only psychiatric and psychological disorders, but ‘Trumporrhoea —” insomnia, exhaustion and gastrointestinal disorders. Pity that.

Presidents and noted politicians are simply ordinary human beings, with an oversize dose of ambition and self-regard, and a taste for the limelight. I suspect that most of us have no desire at all to run for office, even an important one. Once thrust into the spotlight of national attention, it’s almost impossible to escape. The media will deal with politicians depending on their political orientation.

“It would be difficult for those,” as Roger Kimball says, who get their news from outlets like “the New York Times, the Washington Post, MSNBC or CNN to have any sense of Trump’s stupendous accomplishments these past three months.”

Illegal border crossings are down by more than 90 percent. Sanctuary cities are on notice that defying federal law may lose federal grants. The Keystone and Dakota Access pipeline are moving ahead, and coal production is next. If Congress or agencies want a new regulation they have to get rid of two first, and executive orders are aimed at getting rid of inefficient regulations. The stock market is up about 2,500 points since the election and 3 percent growth may be on the horizon. That’s a pretty dramatic start. Do read the whole thing. And getting this U.S. citizen released from jail in nice too.

Aya Hijazi, a dual US-Egyptian citizen and her husband Mohamed Hassanein founded Belady, an NGO that promotes a better life for Cairo street children. They had been in prison in Cairo for three years, and her acquittal and that of her husband and four other humanitarian workers came about as the result of President Trump’s intervention.

That’s really a remarkable amount of accomplishment. Restoring deterrence, one bomb at a time, is pretty impressive as well. As historian Victor Davis Hanson notes, “the only thing more dangerous than losing deterrent power is trying to put it back together again.” Well done.



Quotation of the Day by The Elephant's Child

As soon as journalists, while pretending to provide information, consider that they have the right to present current happenings in such a way as to orient  public opinion in a manner they regard as salutary, democracy is amputated of one of its major supports. It is affected just as perniciously as it is by a corrupt judiciary or electoral fraud. Totalitarianism can only live thanks to falsehood, and democracy survive thanks to truth.

—Jean-Francois Revel: The Flight From Truth                    




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