American Elephants


100 Days and the Gap in Understanding May be Too Wide to Bridge by The Elephant's Child

The whole First 100 Days thing is a legacy of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Charles Kesler explains where the arbitrary standard to which modern presidents are held comes from:

FDR spoke of “the hundred days which had been devoted to the starting of the wheels of the New Deal” in his fireside chat of July 24, 1933—142 days after his March 4 inauguration. He was referring to “the historical special session of the Congress” he had convened, which opened March 9 and adjourned June 16. That is, the Hundred Days were legislative days, not executive days.

Today’s Congress commonly leaves Washington three days a week. If you wanted to apply Roosevelt’s implicit criterion of 100 congressional days, you’d be counting not to April 30, but into July or August—or even September or later, since Congress is in recess the whole month of August.

Well, never mind. It provides a handy lead for lazy reporters. It’s been 100 days, what has he accomplished, and even better— what not?

The administration started off with a bang issuing three executive orders within weeks of the inauguration addressing border control, including construction of the wall, and immigration related crime like smuggling of drugs and people. The Executive Orders included the expeditious hiring of 5,000 new Border Patrol agents, new air and marine officers for Customs and Border Patrol, and 10,000 new interior immigration enforcement agents. The immediate numbers of border crossers are down sharply, but dips have been seen before.

The practice of releasing arriving non-Mexican illegal border crossers immediately with an order to appear later (which never happens), has been stopped. ICE has increased its detention capacity by 1,100 beds, and made plans for 21,000 additional if funds become available. Reporters like to point out that many of those deported have not really committed real crimes, but might just have traffic violations (ignoring the fact that crossing the border illegally is a major violation of law). Did you know that there are at least 200 members of the violent MS-13 Salvadorean gang on Long Island, and are increasingly a national and international problem. Long Island.

Then of course there are the Obama named judges who are putting holds on Trump’s executive orders, though Obama’s very questionable executive orders sailed through. US District Court Judge William Orrick has issued a stay on Trump’s Executive Order withholding funding from communities that limit cooperation with immigration authorities. It is interesting to consider an article in the National Journal which examines the strange opinions of Trump voters:  It seems that “national security is a much bigger deal for Republicans than the economy. Trump’s supporters are quite optimistic about their economic future, but are deeply worried about their security.”

The author’s slightly amazed tone that such should be the case explains a lot, The signs held by protesters outside of Judge Orrick’s courtroom “ICE out of California.” NO Ban! NO Wall! Sanctuary for all” “Inclusion,” “Immigrants ARE Welcome,” and “Love is our Resistance” in the picture topping an article by Andy McCarthy, which explains why the judge is incorrect in his stay. It suggests that Democrats are completely unaware of the very real threat of nuclear attack from Iran and North Korea. I increasingly get the feeling that we are talking past each other, because we don’t share the same information, the same sources, the same interests. Megyn Kelly is coming back on the air with an interview with the Kardashians. Why? Isn’t there something more important to discuss?

Matthew Continetti took a different approach with “The Democrats’ First 100 Days,”which is fun, but they haven’t accomplished much of anything at all, so there’s not much to tell.

Sebastian Gorka, Deputy Assistant to the president, reviewed the Trump administration’s first 100 days, and spoke about the president’s address to a joint session of Congress.

It’s very, very interesting to go back and not just read the transcript, but watch the video, and that moment when the commander-in-chief pauses, looks straight at the camera, and says, “the enemy is radical Islamic terrorism.”

“You send messages overtly, you send them implicitly,” he elaborated. “I think everybody by now understands the MOAB attack in Afghanistan, the cruise missile attack in Syria — neither of those uses of force by the president are just about the countries in which they occurred.”

I also ran across these lines from Thomas Sowell: “The vision of the Left is not just a vision of the world. For many, it is also a vision of themselves—a very flattering vision of people trying to save the planet, rescue the exploited, create “social justice” and otherwise be on the side of the angels. This is an exalted vision that few are ready to give up, or to risk on a roll of the dice, which is what submitting it to the test of factual evidence amounts to. Maybe that is why there are so many fact-free arguments on the left, whether on gun control, minimum wages or innumerable other causes—and why they react so viscerally to those who challenge their vision.

I don’t challenge their vision. I challenge the failure to test their vision with some real facts from the real world.



Cutting the Corporate Tax Will Create Growth. That’s A Good Thing! by The Elephant's Child

To quote John Steele Gordon this morning “Only the brain dead could see Trump’s tax plan as a negative for the economy.Newsweek: “Trump’s Proposed Tax Plan Could Cost the Government $6 Trillion.” Why am I not surprised? Democrats simply do not understand economics. Allowing the people to keep more of their own money is simply incomprehensible to your standard run-of-the-mill Lefty.

Under the new rules, an individual making $35,000 each year would be able to remove $15,000 from their taxable income through the deduction, leaving just $20,000 for the government to tax.

On top of these tax cuts, Trump is expected to outline his proposal to lower the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent. And he will seek to reclassify small, individually-owned businesses that currently file their taxes under the individual code so they are under the corporate tax code instead.

Democrats can only think of the 20% of corporate income that would not be taxed and how can the government possibly get along without that corporate money? Leftist hatred for rich corporations is always a mystifying thing. Everything they wear, eat, use and work with is a product of a large corporation, if they are not government bureaucrats they probably work for a large corporation and they indignantly badmouth corporations and seethe at the exorbitant salaries of American CEOs.

For a business, taxes are just a cost of doing business. Those costs are figured into the price of whatever the business produces, and are paid by the taxpayers who buy the products. If taxes go up, so does the cost of the product. If taxes go down, the business has some extra to expand, to innovate, to create, and the economy grows.

It is very simple, but Democrats do not think in those terms. They want a bigger pile of tax money so they can buy more votes to win elections so they can be in charge. Being in charge means giving nice things to the people, to get their votes, and spreading the wealth around, again so they can be in charge. Being in charge is the goal because they can get rid of all the annoying interference in their goal of a more perfect socialist world where everyone lives in peace and harmony in a world saved from the horrors of global warming and capitalism and guns. Or something like that.

They thought they had glimmers of a real move towards the glorious future with Hillary, and this obnoxious blowhard buffoon smashed it all up and they can’t wait to destroy him or impeach him or put him in prison. They still remain sure that if they can just turn over the right rock, they will find the Russian involvement — in something or other. Good Lord, they are predictable.

From The American Thinker by Thomas Lifson: “Trump tax plan goes for growth”

After President Obama’s two terms of anemic economic growth and huge federal deficits, there is a lot of room for growth in the American economy.  Targeting “seed corn taxes” that obstruct investment is the smart way to spike growth rates, which will bring jobs, increase taxes (in the long run), and swing political approval toward the GOP president and Congress.  It worked for Reagan, and it will work for Trump, if a version of the tax plan becomes law.

The White House briefing and one-page description of President Trump’s plan for tax reform issued yesterday contain the bones of an ambitious plan that could indeed jump-start the economy by lowering corporate income and capital gains tax rates, and by repatriating corporate money held overseas to avoid the punitive 35% levy on overseas profits when they are brought home to the USA.

From Economics21: “No, New York Times: Bush’s Tax Cuts Did Not Disappoint”

Basic economics tells us that if you tax something, you’ll get less of it. True, not all tax cuts are created equal. Successful tax reductions are immediate, permanent, broad-based, and (unlike tax rebates) rely on tax rate reductions to encourage working, saving, and investing. Such well-designed tax policies have a clear record of success.

Nobel Laureate Edward Prescott has shown that much of America’s widening economic advantage over other major economies between the 1970s and 1990s can be traced to America’s decision to lower tax rates while other countries raised them.

Harvard economist Martin Feldstein estimates that a dollar increase in taxes costs the economy 76 cents of growth.

Aside from the constant, furious Democrat insistence of being outraged at anything done by President Trump, they are predictable, predictable predictable. And possibly scared to death that he’ll get his tax plan passed.

Thanks to Obama, America’s corporate tax rate is the highest in the world. Growth has been anemic for 8 long years. A significant cut in the corporate tax rate could raise growth to 3% which is getting closer to the long-term norm —which would create jobs and put those folks who have essentially given up at the idea of working back in business. Hope and growth will do a lot for the country, and the American people.

ADDENDUM: Another contrast in media headlines — Wall Street JournalTrump Unveils Broad Tax-Cut Plan.” The New York Times Tax Overhaul Would Aid Wealthiest.” Like I said Predictable!



Just How Do You Measure “Better Off” Anyway? by The Elephant's Child



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.



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.



Consequences. There Are Always Consequences. by The Elephant's Child

James P. Rubin, a former assistant secretary of state in the Clinton administration wrote a piece in Politico Thursday that called German Chancellor Angela Merkel the “leader of the free world,” largely for her role in taking in Middle Eastern ‘migrants.’ Rubin worked in Hillary’s failed 2008 campaign and was an advisor to Clinton.

“Angela Merkel, whether she wants the job or not, is the West’s last, best hope,” was the subtitle. Rubin claimed that by taking in some one million “refugees,” Merkel assumed the mantle of “moral leadership.”

The German chancellor is the only leader in Europe who even has a plausible claim to moral leadership. As a victim of Soviet communism, Merkel was always going to be listened to carefully on the question of morality. And given her longevity she was always going to be respected. But it was her unexpected decision to accept some 1 million refugees that established her moral credentials, especially since no other political leader has taken such a political risk.

At PJ Media, Michael Walsh points out that Merkel,

more than anyone, is the woman who destroyed the notion of European cultural cohesion, the unity of its history, and its Western identity. Her folly in throwing open the borders of the European Union (which is itself a Franco-German political fantasy now coming unglued) to the “migrant” hordes of an invading Islamic world will reverberate for decades to come. In an effort to replace the German population — which, largely thanks to its women, is almost wholly uninterested in reproducing itself — the childless chancellor could only see a mechanical solution to a problem of reproductive biology, without ever once (in true East German fashion) asking herself why.

Iben Thranholm is one of Denmark’s most widely read columnists who focuses on political and social events focusing on their religious aspects, significance and moral implications. She was asked how Denmark views Sweden and Europe’s demographic future? She answered: “With absolute horror.”

The Swedish media, which is quite pro-government and its leftwing policies, does not always report the full extent of the problems in their society. So it is hard to have a very accurate picture of what is going on. But we in Denmark have a good sense. We are very aware of the murders, rapes, riots, violence and the hand grenades that go on there. This does not often make the news but we know it is going on. And we don’t want to go down the same route. 

This is the result of decades of policies promoting multiculturalism in Sweden. And what is left is this hollow house. You know, in the Bible it is said that if a house is left swept, tidied and unoccupied it eventually it will be taken over by evil. And I fear that this is what is happening in Sweden. Far from being a multicultural paradise, the problems can no longer remain hidden.

Every few weeks or days, there is another report of an attack on the public in Europe. Yet nobody admits that there is a problem. Sweden, most of all, seems to be trying to cover up, hide, and neglect to mention things that clearly are going haywire, because if they acknowledged it, they would have to do something about it.

That may be the characteristic that is behind the populism, nationalism and revolt against governments that is moving through all the Western societies. Governments have tried to cover up their own failings, shove things aside till later, fail to address matters directly and eventually it reaches a boiling point.

Yet, yet—Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz announced he will step down after his anti-Trump vow to hire 10,000 Muslim Refugees because of Trump’s supposed “Muslim ban” backfired substantially. Consumer perceptions of the company dropped by two thirds. Aside from politics, there’s a significant portion of young people who can’t find jobs.  But how interesting that the idea that Muslims from 7 countries cannot be vetted to be sure they are not members of ISIS or alQaeda never occurred to him. They are refugeeees and we have to help them so we will be perceived as good people. That was the Swedish mindset.

Over and over, you will find Leftists changing the dialogue from a straightforward analysis of the issues to one which will allow them to feel like good people, doing good and kind things. Sanctuary cities, jobs for refugees, open borders, welcoming illegal aliens — Howard Schultz is a billionaire and his ‘kindnesses’ will not affect him personally.



Why the Left Gets It So Completely Wrong by The Elephant's Child

Kevin Williamson is a roving correspondent for National Review, and his recent piece titled “Fake Hate Crimes” is particularly worthy of your attention. I copied a paragraph from the post which particularly impressed me, but neglected to say where I got it or who wrote it, and I promptly forgot. So, testing Google’s algorithms, I entered the first two lines of this paragraph, and Google turned it right up. Do read the whole thing, it’s not that long. But I thought this paragraph captured the situation masterfully.

The Left, for the moment, cannot seriously compete in the theater of ideas. So rather than play the ball, it’s play the man. Socialism failed, but there is some juice to be had from convincing people who are not especially intellectually engaged and who are led by their emotions more than by their intellect — which is to say, most people — that the people pushing ideas contrary to yours are racists and anti-Semites, that they hate women and homosexuals and Muslims and foreigners, that they could not possibly be correct on the policy questions, because they are moral monsters. This is the ad hominem fallacy elevated, if not quite to a creed, then to a general conception of politics. Hence the hoaxes and lies and nonsense.

Phony hate crimes. Phony hate.

Democrats play dirty, and Republicans are not good at fighting back. Republicans believe in the free market and sound economics, the private sector and the wisdom of the market as a whole. It’s hard to explain a lot of the economics because they are often counter-intuitive, and actually take some explanation. Easy example: the minimum wage. Activists get minimum wage workers all fired up to demand better pay.” You can’t support a family on the minimum wage,” they cry, whether it is $7, $9, or $12, and organize a march with pre-printed signs (sure sign it’s not the marchers’ idea) and the signs say “Fight, Fight for Fifteen.”

They did that in the Sea-Tac  (Seattle Tacoma International Airport community) community: hotels, restaurants, motels, bars, and it passed. Some were laid off, free parking was omitted, free lunches and dinners were omitted, other benefits cut and many workers were worse off than they were in the first place. Same deal in Seattle. Small businesses closed, some just moved out of town. Wendy’s and McDonalds are installing computerized ordering stations, and hamburger-making machines may not be far behind. Minimum wage jobs are beginners’ jobs for people who have few, if any , skills. When you have skills, you can look for a better job, and you are a more desirable hire.

My local grocery used to have box-boys who took your groceries out to your car and loaded them into the trunk. There was one box-boy who always remembered my name and that I had two cats. Another was usually sullen, in spite  offers of pleasant conversation, irritated at the annoying job. The first one is in college and will probably be an executive at some large company in a couple more years. But it takes a lengthy conversation to explain why raising the minimum wage instantly to $15 an hour is not necessarily the right idea.

The Current Debate is about ObamaCare and how to get rid of a failed program. The Left is out with claims that we are trying to deprive the sick of their last drop of hope.  And the leader of the House minority, Nancy Pelosi says, right from her very own mouth: “We need to know what’s in the health care bill before we pass it, … says Nancy Pelosi” echoing the most famous statement of the Obama administration: “We have to pass the bill so we can find out what is in it.” So there you go.

The president has released his new directive for a 90-day halt in immigration from 7 countries. Democrats are calling it a Muslim ban, and insisting that is prevented by the First Amendment freedom of religion, which is false since the President can refuse admission to anybody he wants to, and the Washington governor is suing on that basis because the Democrats have no bench and he wants to get noticed for his availability, and the Judge in the case was wrong first time around and is still wrong on this one. Politics is so exciting and such fun.




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