American Elephants


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.



April is the cruelest month… by The Elephant's Child

I made a stupid mistake on my taxes and had to do them almost all over. One of my cats is sick, which calls for much mopping and cleaning, and a trip to the vet. Two separate cloudbursts yesterday with thunder and lightening. A trip to the emergency room. Several calls from friendly computer services in the far off Middle East who were eager to help with my computer problems. Other than that, April Fool’s Day seems somewhat ongoing. What is it about April anyway? Sorry about the light blogging. I will aim for more informative brilliance.

APRIL is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
A little life with dried tubers.



The Russia Flap, The Russia Flap. The Russia Flap by The Elephant's Child

One of the people to whom I always pay attention is Victor Davis Hanson. His views of the world today are formed and influenced by his deep knowledge of history, the patterns of thought that descend from the Greek Classics down to today’s world, and are well-seasoned by plain old common sense that comes from a background in farming and coping with the vicissitudes of weather and regulation.

His article “The Russian Farce” from National Review is a masterpiece in today’s strange world where every public or private word that can be nit-picked — will be, ominous meanings will be attached and debated, and the Democrats really need to take a couple of aspirin and lie down for a while and maybe they’ll feel better. Hysteria is not becoming.

In the same manner, Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev was often portrayed in the media as the urbane, suave, and reasonable conciliator, while President Ronald Reagan was depicted as the uncouth disrupter of what could have been improved Russian–American relations.

Senator Ted Kennedy reportedly reached out to Soviet leader Yuri Andropov in 1984 to gain his help in denying Reagan his reelection.

In sum, the American Left always felt that Russia was unduly demonized by the American Right and was a natural friend, if not potential ally, of the United States. That tradition no doubt influenced the decision of the incoming Obama administration to immediately reach out to Vladimir Putin’s Russia, despite its recent aggressions in Georgia and steady crackdown on internal dissent, and despite Russia’s estrangement from the prior Bush administration.

Do read the whole thing. It disposes of the silly Russia flap quite thoroughly, should embarrass a whole bunch of reporters, and points out the drive to deny reality.



Assigned Reading: Sunday, March 26, 2017 by The Elephant's Child

I hardly know where to start. Let’s begin with Left 3.0″ by Tod Lindberg at the Hoover Institution ( Feb.1, 2013).

The Left’s passion for equality begins with the pursuit of greater economic equality, but it doesn’t end there. The Left has also long been in pursuit of equality in the matter of identity. “Identity” is a concept that substantially modifies the principle that individuals have rights. An identity is something one has in common with others. Identity puts people in groups, and societies have long assigned status on the basis of identity — in many instances, in the view of the Left, improperly so. Some statuses have been improperly privileged, for example, white males in racist and sexist societies. And some statuses have been improperly denigrated, for example, gay men in homophobic societies. The Left has long sought to bring down the status of the privileged and elevate the status of the denigrated. This, too, is the pursuit of equality.

On Sept.27.2016, before the election, Angelo Codevilla wrote a piece for The Claremont Review of Books titled “After the Republic” that was remarkably prescient. It’s long, but worth reviewing for a good sense of where we were:

Never before has such a large percentage of Americans expressed alienation from their leaders, resentment, even fear. Some two-thirds of Americans believe that elected and appointed officials—plus the courts, the justice system, business leaders, educators—are leading the country in the wrong direction: that they are corrupt, do more harm than good, make us poorer, get us into wars and lose them. Because this majority sees no one in the political mainstream who shares their concerns, because it lacks confidence that the system can be fixed, it is eager to empower whoever might flush the system and its denizens with something like an ungentle enema.

In Orbis, Summer 2002, Hudson Institute scholar John Fonte wrote a long piece about “Liberal Democracy vs. Transnational Progressivism: The Future of the Ideological Civil War Within the West.”

Nearly a year before the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, wire service stories gave us a preview of the transnational politics of the future. It was reported on October 24, 2000, that in preparation for the UN Conference Against Racism, about fifty American nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) sent a formal letter to UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson calling on the UN “to hold the United States accountable for the intractable and persistent problem of discrimination” that “men and women of color face at the hands of the U.S. criminal justice system.”

This one I have as a printout. When I called it up, it came as a PDF, and beyond my ability to figure out how to get the text to you. Enter this in your search engine ( Orbis/Summer 2002 /Liberal Democracy vs. Transnational Progressivism ) and you will receive a download. It’s worth your time to grasp just what is going on and where we are.

Ernest Sternberg, professor at the University of Buffalo, the State University of New York, in December 2010 published “Purifying the World: What the New Radical Ideology Stands For” Again, enter this:
https://www:researchgate.net/publication/222675491 ) in your search engine and you will get a PDF download.  From the Abstract:

The past decade has seen the coalescence of a new ideology that envisions social movements in a cataclysmic struggle against global capitalist Empire. Controlled  by U.S. militarism and multinational corporations, in cahoots with Zionism, Empire contaminates environments and destroys cultures. Its defeat will bring about a new era of social justice and sustainable development, in which the diverse cultures harmoniously share the earth. Is this a totalitarian ideology? From fascist and communist precedents, we learn that lovers of renewed humanity are not sufficiently motivated by abstract ideals. They must also identify humanity’s enemy, the cause of all suffering. Equipped with a scapegoat, diverse communities can achieve solidarity through shared execration. (emphasis added)

The new ideology is most clearly identified by what it opposes. Its enemy is the global monolith called Empire, which exerts systemic domination over human lives, mainly from the United States. Empire does so by means of economic liberalism, militarism, multinational corporations, corporate media and technologies of surveillance, in cahoots with, or under the thrall of Empire’s most sinister manifestation, namely Zionism. So far there is no controversy—these points will be readily admitted by advocates as well as critics. … (emphasis added)

Through bundist struggles, “A Better World is Possible” (the World Social Forum’s slogan). That world will be environmentally clean, culturally harmonious, and politically just. The new life’s advent will occur when harmonious, and politically just. The new life’s advent will occur when networked bunds triumph over Empire and purge societies of their toxicity.

Whereas capitalism creates and destroys and is constantly changing, the new order will be sustainable. It will run on alternative energy, organic farming, local food markets, and closed-loop recyclable industry, if any industry is needed. People will travel on public transit, or ride cars that tread lightly on the earth, or even better ride bicycles. They will occupy green buildings constructed of local materials and inhabit cities growing organically within bioregions. Life will be liberated from carbon emanations. It will be a permanent, placid way of life in which economies are integrated into the earth’s ecosystem.

The new world will also achieve cultural purity. By “culture” purification does not mean interesting folkways, nor simply heritage, and certainly not any literary and musical canon. Rather, culture is the offspring of folk-spirit: that mysterious life-source from which identity, meaning and pride emerge. It is found in indigenous life-style, local habitat, feeling of community, and the heady experience of fringe art. Even communities that may have little left by way of traditions can look inward, perhaps just to their shared experience of oppression, for the folk-spirit from which to extract identity and pride.

While global corporations produce the artificial psuedo-culture that serves Empire’s interests, communities possess or can rediscover real culture. These culture-communities are organic in two senses. First, like organic food, they are pure rather than adulterated. Second, they are integral totalities rather than associations of free individuals.

The United States is 1: “the Enemy of Humanity” and 2: Israel also “the Enemy of Humanity. If you search YouTube for Ernest Sternberg, there is a video of a talk he gave largely about how come Israel emerged as the enemy. Also gives you a look at Dr, Sternberg.

I’m giving you a lot of reading. Don’t fail to do it. We have to understand what the hell is happening. It seems quite impossible that anyone could actually believe this claptrap — but that’s why they call it an ideology.  Sternberg says that an early proponent was Hugo Chavez. Yes, that Hugo Chavez. It all is, of course, a kind of neo-communism, or as an essay yesterday in American Greatness  brilliantly called it “Americanism vs. Marxist-Lennonism” derived from John Lennon’s “Imagine”

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace…

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man.

The trouble, of course, is human nature. They always find it abhorrent and want to fix it, without the slightest understanding that it is immutable and can never, never be “fixed.” That’s when all the purification dies and they get all totalitarian.



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.



If At First You Don’t Succeed, Do a Better Job Next Time! by The Elephant's Child

The Republican bill to take a tiny poke at fixing ObamaCare went nowhere. They didn’t have the votes—largely because the bill didn’t do much of anything. Everything you need to know about ObamaCare can be summed up in one quotation from Thomas Sowell.

It is amazing that people who think
we cannot afford to pay for doctors,
hospitals, and medication somehow
think that we can afford to pay
for doctors, hospitals, medication
and a government bureaucracy
to administer it.

Aside from affordability, federal government bureaucrats have no idea how to manage or control or supply health care. Every attempt by government to do health care has ended in disaster. The federal government cannot do VA health care, and veterans die while waiting to be seen. Indian health care is a disaster. Even the FDA is a disaster. Over regulated and over controlled.

Medicare was built on the idea that a growing population meant that if each generation paid in for the smaller generation that came before, then Medicare would go along smoothly with the old folks always cared for. This is usually called a Ponzi scheme. Nobody planned on the baby boomers. They are a huge generation beginning to retire, and Medicare is going broke, because the next generations are not larger. Oooops!

The Democrats devised all sorts of things that they thought would make their health care plan work better, and all sorts of regulations that they thought would save money, and all sorts of requirements that they thought would make people like the program better, and they lied about their basic purpose. Their basic purpose was to initiate a Single Payer Plan. But not because it would provide better care.

The British have a single payer plan in the National Health Service. The people get taxed and they get free health care. And the reason that it was the Democrats’ basic purpose was because the British people were so afraid of losing their health care that they always voted for keeping it, and for the Labour Party who promised that they could keep it. Unfortunately it doesn’t work, and the government keeps making new regulations to cut costs, and old folks die from neglect, and dehydration, and dirty sheets and infection, and long lines of ambulances line up at hospitals waiting for a vacant bed for the next patient. That’s Single Payer.

Here at home, the ideas that were behind all the regulation and requirements that they thought would save money didn’t, because Democrats do not understand the free market—that’s why they are Democrats. And because they do not understand the free market and competition, their bureaucrats had no idea how to devise plans that worked, and they didn’t even know how to get people to sign up, nor how to get enough insurance companies competing to bring costs down. Being Democrats, they assumed that insurance companies were evil (Capitalists) without any understanding that insurance companies have a lot of expertise in devising insurance, and with all insurance companies competing, there’s a lot of demand to be efficient, to create policies that work for consumers, to figure out how to keep prices down so the other insurance companies can’t take their business away. That’s how the free market works.

The Republicans said they had been working on a replacement for 8 months, but we have been stuck with a failing and unworkable ObamaCare for 7 years.

We are going to have to pay for most of the little stuff ourselves, with help for those who cannot care for themselves, and remember just what insurance really is. Insurance is meant to protect you from the big disasters, not the little things.Your car insurance protects you when someone runs into you and wrecks your car. Your homeowner insurance protects you when you have a kitchen fire or a broken pipe that floods the house. Health insurance should protect you when you break your leg, or find a cancer, or need immediate surgery, not buy your tampons or pay for your immunizations.

And if you devise a new health care plan for the people, you’d better damn well make sure that every member of Congress and the bureaucracy has to deal with exactly the same system.



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.




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