American Elephants


Congress Wants to Investigate — Something? by The Elephant's Child

A federal judge today upheld a congressional subpoena seeking President Trump’s financial records from an accounting firm. They argued that Congress is within its rights to investigate potential illegal behavior by a president – even without launching a formal impeachment inquiry.

I am merely a citizen, not a lawyer, but they surely shopped for a compliant judge. Excuse me, but what “potential illegal behavior”? Well, we don’t like him, so he must have done something illegal, and if we can just go through the records of his business dealings for the past 10 or 20 years, we’re sure we can find something.

This is getting so weird! We hear daily that he must be impeached, but nobody ever says what they intend to impeach him for. Maxine Waters started yammering about impeachment the day after he got elected.

Hollywood types, who assume that because we recognize their names, that we are interested in their thoughts, (we aren’t) and prate about destroying democracy, ruining the country, and whatever they can think of, apparently completely unaware of the booming economy, full employment, historically low unemployment, historically low black unemployment. Trump has a potential program to solve our immigration crisis that has real merit.

When special counsel Robert Mueller was appointed, Democrats were sure that  he would find evidence of “collusion” with Russia, and were devasted when he claimed not to, but they comforted themselves with “obstruction”and he didn’t find that either, but they were so sure that he obstructed something, that they demanded proof, and the full report, and the redacted part, including the redacted part that Mueller was forbidden by law to give them. Mueller’s report grew to 448 pages.

The special counsel’s office interviewed 500 witnesses, issued 2,800 subpoenas, executed nearly 500 search-and seisure warrants, and obtained 300 records of electronic communications, and still could not establish the one thing that mattered most in the investigation.

The total reported cost of the Special Counsel’s investigation through September 2018 was $25,215,853.00. The Mueller investigation will go down in history as one of the widest ranging and most expensive Special Counsel investigations ever.

Democrats were still looking for something, anything, that would convince Americans that the president was still guilty of something serious. The White House cooperated fully with the Mueller probe with testimony and documents which might have been withheld as priviledged.

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz is investigating  the FBI’s reliance on the unverified dossier produced by British ex-spy Christopher Steele in spite of questions about Steele’s credibility. Steele’s dossier was funded in part by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign through the Perkins Coie law firm and opposition research group Fusion GPS.

With no conspiracy and no collusion, the allegation that the president had obstructed justice to cover up an investigation  into a crime that they could neither identify or describe is getting into thin gruel. They’re pretty much reduced to stunts. Democrats reportedly enlisted Hollywood’s John Cusack to take part in a public reading of the entire Mueller report – it took 12 hours – before C-Span’s cameras. I’ve seen no report on the size of the audience, but it probably did not captivate the nation.

There will be more stunts.



Democrats on the Campaign Trail Now Number 24. I think. by The Elephant's Child

Excellent news today. President Trump has another judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals over Democrat objections.  On Wednesday he got another victory with the confirmation of Kenneth Lee. He is slowly remaking the hard Left Ninth Circuit.

Trade tensions between the U.S. and China have escalated, but the number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits has dropped even further. This suggests that rising tariffs and retaliation by China have not hurt American workers.  Claims were expected to decline to 219,000 but declined by 16,000 to a seasonally adjusted 212.000 instead.

Attorney General William Barr has made it clear that he intends to restore his department’s credibility.  He has appointed seasoned U.S. Attorney John Durham to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation. If the Justice Department had done this two years ago the country would be in a better place. He gets credit for not calling him a “special counsel”. Mr. Durham is known not only as an experienced prosecutor, but as a straight arrow. He doesn’t bring prosecutions lightly, but is not afraid to hold the powerful to
account. Which is clearly what Democrats are worried about.

Special counsels are only supposed to be appointed when the Justice Department is too conflicted to investigate a matter. We had a Justice Department that for two years used the Mueller probe as an excuse to not comply with Congressional oversight. Americans expect accountability and transparency from their government. We’re finally getting them.

New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio entered the presidential race today, after imposing the “Green New Deal” on the city, to the outraged laughter of New Yorkers. He announced that he wanted to improve the job situation for American workers. Huh? Been there, done that. I guess Mr. DeBlasio hasn’t noticed. Obama apparently favors Beto O’Rourke, because he reminds him of himself. Still absorbed with number one. From Conrad Black, who knows a thing or two about journalism:

The last fact that the Democrats have not begun to deal with in the effort to unseat the president is his extraordinary success. The economic performance is phenomenal, and the pathetic attempts of President Obama to claim credit for the economic recovery, like his fatuities about “the magic wand,” will be mocked with vicious hilarity. The success of this president in proclaiming a border emergency and doing something about it will be noted.

So far, President Trump has built over 500 miles of border wall. The Democrats don’t understand that a majority of the American people want immigration controlled. The candidates vying for the Democrat nomination are uniformly anxious to not only eliminate the tax cuts which they see as giving money to the rich, but to raise taxes as well. Good luck with that one.

One never knows what to expect. Beto O’Rourke invited us along on his hair cut today, along with his camera crew. But then he posted the video of his teeth-cleaning as well. Is this an effort to show us that he’s just like us ? Like Elizabeth Warren’s “I think I’ll have me a beer?” Poking fun is way more enjoyable than serious criticism.  More richly deserved as well.

 



It Is a Constitutional Crisis! Isn’t It? by The Elephant's Child

Speaker Nancy Pelosi said today that we are in a “Constitutional Crisis”. Jerry Nadler said that we are now in a “Constitutional Crisis”. Even Adam Schiff said we’re in a “Constitutional Crisis”. This seems to the the Left’s talking point of the day. There was also some muttering about Trump not being a king or an emperor. But they are clearly correct.

This is something of a Constitutional crisis. We have one political party unwilling to accept the rules of the Constitution on how elections are decided. They are furious because they lost, and want the Constitution changed so that it never happens again. And they are determined to get rid of the hated Trump by any means necessary. Outraged by the Mueller failure to provide immediate succor, they are groping for another solution. I’m not sure that you can impeach someone simply because you do not like him. But just who and what makes it a crisis is up for debate.

The Electoral College and the structure of the Senate were carefully designed to make sure that the people of the less populous states had equal representation. Every state has two senators, and the House of Representatives numbers reflect the population numbers. It was a pretty impressive bit of planning when at the time a sprawling union of 50 states was unimaginable, and Hawaii and Alaska were unknown, as was much of anything west of the Adirondacks.

I’m beginning to suspect that the Left has noticed that the economy is booming, that there are more job openings than unemployed people to fill them, and their celebrated former president could never get growth above 2% no matter how much he “invested” in the economy, and declared that the world had changed and an upside was no longer possible. Pelosi is still describing the Trump tax cuts as the worst thing ever done to our economy. (They simply cannot grasp supply-side economics.) The idea that you make the world a better place by giving people free stuff, like free college and Medicare for all, and making them happy to vote for you is clearly the better policy goal, isn’t it?



Infrastructure, Legacies, History and Personal Insults by The Elephant's Child

New York Times correspondent Peter Baker’s new book Obama: The Call of History was recently updated to include the information that “former President Obama took President Trump’s win and Hillary Clinton’s loss in 2016 as a personal insult.”

Obama has talked a lot about his “legacy.”  Most presidents, I imagine, are concerned about how history will view the challenges they faced and the job they did. But once they’re done, that’s up to the historians. Obama has had rather glorified ideas about his presidential library, and quite a battle with the city of Chicago and his selection of a prime piece of parkland, much to the distress of the neighbors. Democrats expected Hillary to win, and it was undoubtedly a shock to Obama.

There’s a favorite saying of political consultants: “It’s the economy, stupid.” The Wall Street Journal remarked yesterday that “The best news is that the beneficiaries of this tight labor market are the folks who struggled during the slow growth Obama years.” Government actions are not abstract things that are only important to the hovering newspersons. They have a major impact on the American people’s pocketbooks and well-being. Many people are now working who were living on food stamps.

Obama never, in eight years, achieved even 2% growth, but doubled the national debt. It was the slowest and most sluggish recovery under Obama, in history. They talked about it, and Obama’s economists said that times had just changed and there was no hope of ever getting back over 2% growth.

President Trump is going to meet with Pelosi and Schumer to talk about “infrastructure” which they supposedly think is important. Trump wants $1 trillion, but Schumer says Trump is going to have to get rid of some of those tax cuts. I keep saying that Democrats do not understand free market economics, and they keep insisting that I’m absolutely correct. Can’t have this booming economy, it makes the Democrats look bad. The Wall Street Journal:

Many of the robust job gains came in businesses that hire those with less education. Construction added 33,000 jobs last month, for example, and has added 256,000 over the last year. Most of the new construction jobs last month were in nonresidential and heavy civil engineering work, which suggests that business investment may be picking up after a weak first quarter.

In a separate report earlier this week, the Labor Department reported that worker productivity increased 3.6% in the fourth quarter and 2.4% from a year ago, the fastest rate since 2010. This continues the productivity-growth trend from 2018, which has followed faster capital investment after tax reform and deregulation. This bodes well for faster wage gains over time. increased 3.6% in the fourth quarter and 2.4% from a year ago, the fastest rate since 2010. This continues the productivity-growth trend from 2018, which has followed faster capital investment after tax reform and deregulation. This bodes well for faster wage gains over time.

Everybody talks about “infrastructure” but not about just what infrastructure they are so anxious to build.  Before you start casually spending another trillion dollars, please explain just what you have in mind. How about a nice wall at the southern border?



The Left Does Not Understand Free Market Capitalism. by The Elephant's Child

I think that Democrats are taught with their very first political lesson that Republicans always give tax cuts to the rich because they don’t care about ordinary people like us. They just care about rich people. Fortunately, David Harsanyi over at the Federalist rounded up lots of Democrat commentary that proves my thesis.

It was Larry Summers, Bill Clinton’s former Treasury Secretary and Barack Obama’s White House economic adviser, who warned that tax reform would lead to over 10,000 dead Americans every year, in December of 2017. Summers, considered a reasonable moderate by today’s political standards, was just one of the many fearmongers.

The same month, after cautioning that passage of tax cuts would portend “Armageddon,” then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi explained that the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), a reform of corporate tax codes and a wide-ranging relief, was “the worst bill in the history of the United States Congress.”…

None of this is even getting into the MSM’s straight news coverage, which persistently (and falsely) painted the bill as a tax cut for the wealthy. “One-Third of Middle Class Families Could End up Paying More Under the GOP Tax Plan” noted Money magazine. an Associated Press headline read, “House Passes First Rewrite of Nation’s Tax Laws in Three Decades, Providing Steep Tax Cuts for Businesses, the Wealthy.” “Poor Americans Would Lose Billions Under Senate GOP Tax Bill” reported CNN. Yahoo News ran one piece after the next predicting doom.

The unemployment rate fell to 3.6 percent last month, the lowest level of unemployment since 1969. Since Richard Nixon was in his first year as president. The economy added 263,000 new jobs in April. Wages are growing as well. They were up 3.2 percent in April, marking the ninth straight month of 3 percent gains. The White House Council of Economic Advisers noted: “Prior to 2018, nominal average hourly wage gains had not reached 3 percent since April 2009. Two days earlier, the Fed said that “On a 12-month basis, overall inflation and inflation for items other than food and energy have declined and are running below 2 percent.

Growth: The accelerated rate of job growth under Trump is widespread, too. Manufacturing jobs climbed 470,000 since Trump took office. They went up by a meager 18,000 in Obama’s last 28 moths in office. Goods-producing jobs shot up by 1.2 million after Trump took office, compared with a paltry 241,000 gain for Obama. Construction jobs climbed 629,000 under Trump, after a 352,000 gain under Obama, has been accelerating under Trump.



Confusion and Misconception are Rampant Everywhere by The Elephant's Child

Friedrich Hayek once wrote: “Buying and selling were a procedure for discovering facts, which if the procedure did not exist, would remain unknown or at least would not be used.” The full name of Adam Smith’s classic work was “An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations,“as the Coyote Blog noted today:

The fact that AOC and other modern admirers of socialism can fret about poverty is, as they imagine, attributable to capitalism, but not in the way they think. Capitalism did not cause the poverty, it created the situation in which poverty is an issue with but a minority of the population (rather than essentially everyone). Before capitalism, fretting about poverty would just have been fretting about .. the way things are for everyone.

One of the earliest things that someone learns about politics, at least in Democrat families, is that Republican tax cuts only go to the rich. They simply do not understand the workings of the economy. Because “the Rich” pay way more in taxes than the rest of us, they get proportionally bigger tax cuts. What we are seeing out there is the result of everyone’s tax cuts. Someone remarked on the radio this week, in the wake of the  3½% remarkable growth spurt in the economy, that “people have decided to go shopping.”

Well, yes they have. I learned some time back that apparently large numbers of people have chosen to have their income taxes withheld from their wages, and really don’t know how much they paid in taxes — but only how big their refund was. This year, their refunds were somewhat bigger, and they have the money to do some extra shopping. I guess they worry that if they don’t have taxes withheld, they may not have the funds to pay on April 15. The rich don’t have to wait for refunds, so when they receive a tax cut, they have the extra funds to expand, grow their businesses, hire, invent—and make the economy grow. How do we tell? By reading the facts of the buying and selling that is going on.

This explanation does not fit into the world view of Democrats. They don’t buy it. I remember a few years back, a writer at the Wall Street Journal wrote in astonishment that “Elizabeth Warren has only a childlike understanding of economics.” That is why you have so many Democrats who want to get rid of capitalism. Much of the climate activists’ purpose is to use climate as a way to rid the world of capitalism. Mentioning Venezuela as a notable example of the abject failure of Socialism gets you nowhere. They do not, and cannot, accept the starving people of Venezuela as the inevitable result of Socialism. It just does not compute. It is based, of course, on a failure to understand human nature and an ignorance of history.

There has been lots of conversation about the vast crowd of Democrats running for the presidency. All are positive that Trump is so despised, so awful, that only the few gap-toothed deplorables in flyover country would vote for a second term. Joe Biden makes the twenty-first Democrat candidate to announce a run. Some reporters have remarked that name-familiarity should help him, but according to polls, large numbers of Americans have no idea who he is, and do not recognize a picture.

Those of us who have always assumed that we can depend on the wisdom of the American people may want to give some consideration to running for your local School Board. Or at the very least picking up one of Hayek’s books at the Library: The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism, The Road to Serfdom, or The Constitution of Liberty.



What Is The Matter With These People? by The Elephant's Child

Observing the political scene, one wonders, what the heck is the matter with these people? It seems that large numbers of people are asking the same question. From American Greatness “NYT Ponders: Could the Steele Dossier be Russian Disinformation?” A slightly belated question, or the beginnings of  a CYA operation?

Victor Davis Hanson said: “for them, that particular subset that really hates Trump, its the idea that this guy just comes in, and all their pretensions or all of their disconnects, he challenges. And then he doesn’t just challenge it, he points out how hypocritical they are. He does that all the time.  If you look at his tweets, that’s one constant theme. “You have walls. Why can’t the nation have walls?” Hanson points out that all the Never Trumpers at the Bulwark, Max Boot, David Frum, Bill Kristol, have spent their lives advancing the issues that Trump has put into effect, and now they don’t like them because Trump’s fingerprints are on them.

But why the hatred? Most of the people who were involved in the Never Trumps, were invested in particular campaigns, and they thought they would be the wise men, they would be asked to come into the White House, be on Talk shows. They offerred their expertise, but they have a special office at the White House looking at applicants tweets and Facebook posts. Their obliging offers were rejected.

Jeremy Carl, a Hoover Institution scholar, called to our attention that in the aftermath of the Jussie Smollet hate hoax, journalist Andy Ngo wrote that the hoax was symptomatic of America’s illness – a combination he attributed to the rise of the victimhood culture fueled in significant part by increasing group conflict.  Not, Carl wrote, an “illness” of America writ large, but an affliction particular to white liberals. Recent polls by nonpartisan organizations suggest that white liberals have a unique distaste for their own ethnic group. (See Smollett, Covington HS boys in their MAGA hats.) Group bias is a widely recognized phenomenon, and most groups prefer their own. Except white liberals.

I think that the Liberals were expecting sixteen years of continuous control. It’s not just controlling the levers of power— but the jobs, the prestige, the friendships, the opportunities. It clearly wasn’t about Hillary except as the brownie points of electing the first woman, they’ve already lost interest in her completely. No longer useful.

Presidents are supposed to be former governors, or have been in the military – which suggests familarity with high level politics more than skill. From the still growing list of Democrat candidates there’s not much in the way of demonstrated skills. It is beginning to look as if there may be more skills in understanding economics, managing very large operations and dealing with the law in America’s CEOs, certainly than in the current crop of candidates. That’s the big divide. Trump represents everything the Left has been trained to hate. The birth certificate for a good liberal is the understanding that Republicans give tax cuts to the Rich, while good Democrats help the poor. Democrats have no understanding whatsoever that allowing people to keep more of their own money gets invested into the economy. They expand, hire, invent, and, oddly in the process, more people have jobs, unemployment goes down. The economy grows with more activity.  Democrats are good at propaganda however. Current surveys suggest that a significant percentage of the people don’t think that they got a tax cut.

Most people grew up in a neighborhood, by that I mean among people very like themselves. Similar home costs, similar houses, similar yards, kids go to the same schools. I notice, largely because I did not grow up in a neighborhood. There is a difference.

A president is someone we choose to run the country for us for four years. The campaign is supposed to demonstrate the skills and potential that candidates may (or may not possess). We get distracted by looks and personality or demeanor, and forget to look hard at proven ability, which is  a major mistake. We have a current crop of candidates who are blithely signing on the “The Green New Deal” with no understanding of why it would be a massive mistake, no understanding of whether there is or is not a climate crisis, and why. Over and over they are demonstrating that they have never even bothered to read or learn anything about the subject whatsoever. All of them.

We can scatter the blame around, but we need to look in the mirror. We have to be informed voters. It’s up to us.




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