American Elephants


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It doesn’t.

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

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

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

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



“A Retreat from Proactive Policing Has Unleashed Mayhem in the City by The Elephant's Child

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from City Journal

Chicago on the Brink

Heather MacDonald

Violence in Chicago is reaching epidemic proportions. In the first five months of 2016, someone was shot every two and a half hours and someone murdered every 14 hours, for a total of nearly 1,400 nonfatal shooting victims and 240 fatalities. Over Memorial Day weekend, 69 people were shot, nearly one per hour, dwarfing the previous year’s tally of 53 shootings over the same period. The violence is spilling over from the city’s gang-infested South and West Sides into the downtown business district; Lake Shore Drive has seen drive-by shootings and robberies.

The growing mayhem is the result of Chicago police officers’ withdrawal from proactive enforcement, making the city a dramatic example of what I have called the “Ferguson effect.” Since the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in August 2014, the conceit that American policing is lethally racist has dominated the national airwaves and political discourse, from the White House on down. In response, cops in minority neighborhoods in Chicago and other cities around the country are backing off pedestrian stops and public-order policing; criminals are flourishing in the resulting vacuum. (An early and influential Ferguson-effect denier has now changed his mind: in a June 2016 study for the National Institute of Justice, Richard Rosenfeld of the University of Missouri–St. Louis concedes that the 2015 homicide increase in the nation’s large cities was “real and nearly unprecedented.” “The only explanation that gets the timing right is a version of the Ferguson effect,” he told the Guardian.)

Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel warned in October 2015 that officers were going “fetal,” as shootings in the city skyrocketed. But 2016 has brought an even sharper reduction in proactive enforcement. Devastating failures in Chicago’s leadership after a horrific police shooting and an ill-considered pact between the American Civil Liberties Union and the police are driving that reduction. Residents of Chicago’s high-crime areas are paying the price.

……………………………………..(Do Read the whole thing)

The statistics are shocking. What we must pay attention to, however, are the incentives involved. When you tell residents of black neighborhoods that the reasons for many members of their families going to prison is not really because they committed a crime, but because the cops are racist, and the system is crooked, and tell them often enough, they’re apt to begin to believe it.

When neighborhoods come to believe that the cops are racist and don’t care about the black people they shoot, the police are inclined to back off a little more. When a cop is killed in the line of duty because the neighborhood believes they are racist, the police are more wary of stopping suspicious drivers or wading into s situation that looks like trouble.

That could all be perfectly innocent — just human nature. Policemen have families and want to go home at night. People in a neighborhood find it easier to believe the worst of cops than of their family members or next door neighbors. And so it escalates.

When the news on television blames the police, or the President of the United States suggests that he is going to pardon large numbers of federal prisoners because they are unjustly imprisoned by an unfair system — that seems pretty official, and likely true.

That hardly begins to touch on the incentives involved. When crime rates are high, fewer businesses are willing to locate in the neighborhood. With fewer businesses, there are fewer jobs, particularly for young men of an age to need their first working experience. If there are no jobs, there are drugs and gangs and petty theft and hatred of the police. Heather MacDonald enumerates the escalating steps, tragedy by tragedy, and on the other side the breakdown in order and control.

Accusations of endemic racism, economic injustice, housing segregation, mass incarceration, white privilege, disparate impact are problematic words that hurt more than they help.  Heather MacDonald’ s calm and careful analysis is important, and all parties involved would do well to understand her analysis.



The Cult of Critical Theory and the Subversion of the West. by The Elephant's Child

From The Devil’s Pleasure Palace by Michael Walsh.
“The Cult of Critical Theory and the Subversion of the West”

Dissent, they say, is the highest form of patriotism.

As for “the highest form of patriotism,” all that ever meant was that the Left did not wish to have its patriotism questioned while it was busily going about the process of undermining the existing order (in order to create a better one of course). Not only was its patriotism questionable, it was nonexistent. The patriotism the ’60’s radicals praised was not the patriotism of the past (now dismissed as “jingoism”) but the patriotism of the America of the Future, the new State that would come into being once the old one had been destroyed and replaced with the Brave New World they were cooking up in poly-sci test tubes on campuses across the country.

Any leftist will tell you, usually indirectly as he may not admit it to himself, that he does not admire the world as it is but esteems the world as he wishes it to be. That few agree with leftists when this proposition is so bluntly stated simply means they must conceal it for the time being, until it can be forced on an unwilling but sullen public. They see themselves as inheritors of a noble tradition, perhaps best summed up by the composer Gustav Mahler when he declared, “My time will yet come.” They look to the judgment of posterity, not history. The very fact of being against something—it doesn’t matter much what—contributes to their sense of moral superiority, without which they are nothing.

This last is crucial to the understanding of the Unholy Left: that they consider themselves, like the Puritans they otherwise execrate, the party of the Elect, the Blessed. Likewise, they consider resistant conservatives—those who like things more or less the way they are, who trust the judgments of their ancestors and honor their wisdom and experience—to be the Damned who must be brought into the Light—that is to say, into the Darkness.

In her convention speech, Michelle Obama said:”Barack stood up that day, talking about a visit to Chicago neighborhoods, and spoke words that have stayed with me ever since. … All of us are driven by a simple belief that the world as it is just won’t do, that we have an obligation to fight for the world as it should be.”

One would think that with the prominent examples of Cuba and Venezuela the idea of Socialism should be thoroughly discredited, but even starvation doesn’t sway the morally superior minds of the Left. They just didn’t do it right.

I like this quotation from Holman Jenkins:
‘It turns out government cannot spare us from having to adapt
and compete in an economy.’

 



Promise Goes A-Glimmering If You Don’t Grasp the Basics of Economics and History. by The Elephant's Child

IN an important article at The Federalist, John Gibbs offers a different view of the racial division in the country.

My view of America is that we are a place of great promise and opportunity, where someone like me, who is the grandchild of illiterate black Southern sharecroppers, can achieve success and reach the American dream. We are a place occupied by fair-minded, hard-working people whose culture and values have built a nation that is the envy of the world. I am proud to be a part of that culture.

Our Founders, while imperfect and a product of their times, were visionary heroes who made hard choices and compromises to give us the successful system we have today. Because Americans are good, we’ve worked hard over time to right the wrongs in our society that our Founding Fathers could not eliminate in their time. In summary, we are a fundamentally decent people blessed to live in a phenomenal land with a rich heritage.

But not so for President Obama. His view of our nation seems to be very different than mine and that of many other Americans. I believe that when President Obama thinks of America, more so than a place of hope or opportunity, he thinks of a place where racist white Christian fundamentalists came here from Europe, committed genocide against Native Americans, enslaved and segregated black people, denied women, gays, and other minorities their rights, and used capitalism and a rigged legal system to oppress poor people for centuries. He also believes this is still continuing today.

Do read the whole thing.

Zero Hedge chimes in again with some interesting data points from last week’s June Employment Report. The mid year burst of minimum-wage increases scheduled for July 1st when minimum wages will rise in 15 places: two states—Maryland and Oregon, plus Washington D.C., Los Angeles County and eleven cities, including Chicago, eight cities in California and two in Kentucky, shows what happens when the Left manages to increase the minimum wage. Unemployment for young black males increases sharply.

blackteenMilton Friedman explained may years ago:

The minimum wage law is most properly described as a law saying that employers must discriminate against people who have low skills. That’s what the law says. The law says that here’s a man who has a skill that would justify a wage of $5 or $6 per hour (adjusted for today), but you may not employ him, it’s illegal, because if you employ him you must pay him $7.25 per hour. So what’s the result? To employ him at $7.25 per hour is to engage in charity. There’s nothing wrong with charity. But most employers are not in the position to engage in that kind of charity. Thus, the consequences of minimum wage laws have been almost wholly bad. We have increased unemployment and increased poverty.

Moreover, the effects have been concentrated on the groups that the do-gooders would most like to help. The people who have been hurt most by the minimum wage laws are the blacks. I have often said that the most anti-black law on the books of this land is the minimum wage law.

 



Only 6% of Americans Think the World is Getting Better! by The Elephant's Child

So how do you feel about the state of the world? Is it getting better or getting worse? According to Alex Berezow of the invaluable American Council on Science and Health (ASCH), only 6% of Americans think the world is getting better. The question was “All things considered, do you think the world is getting better or worse, or neither getting better or worse?”

Optimistic-about-the-future
A majority of people—54 percent—surveyed in the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom believe there’s a risk of 50 percent or more that our way of life will end within the next 100 years. Even worse, some 25 percent of respondents in the same poll believe it that likely that we’ll go extinct in the next century. Americans were the most pessimistic, giving those gloomy answers 57 percent and 30 percent of the time, respectively. And younger respondents tend to be more pessimistic about the future than older ones. …

For all the talk from the president and the Democrats, one of our biggest problems is gun violence, yet gun homicides in the U.S. are down 43% from 1993 to 2014, the lowest rate in 24 years.

I wrote in May that two centuries ago, average world income per human (in today’s prices) was about $3 a day. Today is is $33 a day in Brazil, and the level of the U.S. in 1940. Matt Ridley wrote that what happened two centuries ago was that “ideas started having sex.” by which he meant that there is no end to what people can do when they are set free to have ideas and the freedom to act upon them.

Democrats specialize in a gloomy outlook, from which they promise to rescue you by giving you more stuff, but wealth is created by the free market and capitalism. Free people are endlessly inventive, and the hope of improving your financial situation, making a new idea the next big thing, becomes in a free market the opportunity to succeed. Where did Uber come from? Or telephones unconnected to phone lines that do, well, almost everything.

Democrats and environmentalists are endlessly gloomy. Rolling Stone just had a big article about how New York would shortly be submerged beneath the rising ocean waters. If you consult the scientists who actually know about the increase in ocean waters, you find they speak in millimeters not feet. The Obama administration is reportedly promoting Navy Commanders based on their support for Global Warming. This list of Climate Panics may add a little balance to Obama’s current worries.

The world is better fed than ever before, and starvation is rare except in socialist paradises like Venezuela. Major diseases have been nearly eliminated in the United States, although Obama’s refugees are bringing Tuberculosis and measles and others back. Malaria is way down in Africa. People are living longer. There really is a lot to be upbeat about.



Where Did Political Correctness Come From? by The Elephant's Child

freedom-post

The term “political correctness” seems to have originated with Trotsky to describe the early Bolsheviks who were forced to adapt to constantly changing “correct” modes of Soviet political thought and it was later picked up by Mao, among others. Today it is the Unholy Left’s counter-narrative, a fascism of the mind meant to discourage independent thought and encourage lazy sloganeering: in other words, a political tool that has nothing to do with “morality,” “tolerance,” “diversity,” or “the arc of history.” It is simply evil. But to say it is a very great evil is to underestimate it. It goes against liberty in all her forms, which is precisely its object, although it cloaks itself in the folds of another bogus virtue, compassion. …

Subduing the freedom of speech is precisely the goal of the Jacobins of the Unholy Left, who cannot countenance any thought unmoored from policy prescriptions or social goals. Over the past few decades, they have waged a war, at first covert and now overt, on the First Amendment, trammeling it wherever they can: in campus “speech codes,” for example, or in social ostracism should a hapless renegade wander off the reservation and accidentally speak his mind.

Political correctness, for all its notoriety, has not received the full scrutiny it deserves, in part, because like everything else the Marxists touch, it wears a tarnhelm, a magic helmet—in this case, of kindness, politesse, and sheer righteousness. Busily formulating new lists of what can and cannot be said (lest it offend somebody, somewhere, either now or at some future date), and always in light of the Critical Theory imperative to be perpetually on the attack, political correctness’s commissars resemble no one more than Dickens’ implacable Madame Defarge in A Tale of Two Cities, clicking her knitting needles as heads roll into baskets.  Common words, common terms, even the names of venerable sports franchises come under fire as they march ever forward toward the sunny uplands of perfect totalitarian utopia.

From The Devil’s Pleasure Palace by Michael Walsh

 



The Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America by The Elephant's Child

“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”

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On July 4, 2012, in Phoenix, Arizona, about 250 new Americans take the oath of citizenship (reprinted from 2015)

In July, 2015, President Barack Obama stripped out the requirement for individuals becoming naturalized citizens to defend the United States through military service. On September 16. 2015,  President Obama said in a video aimed at convincing migrants to pursue American citizenship, that they didn’t need to assimilate.

“It’s not about changing who you are, it’s about adding a new chapter to your journey… and to our journey as a nation of immigrants,” Obama narrates in his two-minute video urging almost 9 million resident migrants to sign up for citizenship so they can vote in 2016.

There’s another new turn of phrase designed to hide or soften what he is doing. “Nine million resident migrants” — think about that for a moment. We wouldn’t want you to get all serious about an oath, or make you uncomfortable. There’s one graduate of Harvard Law School who apparently never really learned anything about the Constitution at all.

Human beings are tribal. It’s an instinct that comes down to us from the first humans, and it’s never completely gone away. Most of the nations of Europe are tribal. That’s why the Czech Republic separated from Slovakia. I don’t think you can become a German unless you have German ancestry, but I’m not sure about that. The countries of Europe each have their own languages and customs. The Middle East is divided between Sunni and Shia, with a large number of other tribes thrown in. And it seems to be human nature for the tribes to fight each other, over things serious or not so much.

Here we join big organizations, tea parties, bridge clubs, Rotary, Job’s Daughters, join a golf club, work for the Salvation Army or Food for the Poor, or just the Thursday night poker club. We form neighborhood clubs, research our ancestry, or join a gym. We are tribal by nature. We are drawn to people who share our interests or heritage, enthusiasm for quilting, or political leanings.

Americans came from all over, but what has bound them together was the formal oath of citizenship renouncing all other allegiance. You raise your hand and your solemnly swear, and you become an American —just as much as the immigrant whose ancestors came on the Mayflower or with the Winthrop fleet.

What Mr. Obama doesn’t get is that Americans are a tribe, we have a proud identity. Many Europeans say that you can identify an American in Europe by the way they walk—heads up, more confident. Does any other country celebrate their founding day with the hoopla and fireworks that we do?

The full-throated “USA, USA, USA” may be annoying, but it’s heartfelt. Howard Zinn may corrupt the young with his soviet-propagandized attempt at revising our history. The Reverend Jeremiah Wright may bellow “God Damn America “to the future president and his family, but there’s a reason why Stalin’s daughter, Khrushchev’s son, and one of Castro’s daughters all became American citizens. Russian oligarchs moor their yachts in New York harbor just in time to get their newborn child American citizenship, and wealthy Chinese just happen to be visiting the country when the baby is due.  Mexican women wade the Rio Grande to bear their children in the United States. Why do you suppose they do that?

A small bunch of English religious refugees seeking liberty undertook a dangerous Atlantic crossing to an unknown land. Joined by other discontented Europeans, before long they were pushing back against English taxes, English regulations and English regiments. After sending the British back home, and writing a constitution, Americans pushed on across the Appalachians, facing angry Indians, bears and starvation. First in bateaus, then on horseback and in covered wagons, they crossed the Rockies and conquered a continent, fought a bloody civil war to free the slaves.  World Wars, John Wayne, the Super Bowl, Star Wars, the Marshall Plan, GI Joe, Baseball, Dunkin’ Donuts, the Grand Canyon, — so many things go into the making of an American, including complaining about the government. But here, it’s your right to complain. In Stalin’s Russia — off to the Gulag. In today’s Syria, we don”t even want to think about that.

Don’t be messing with the Oath Of Allegiance, Mr. President. We know that you are out to “fundamentally transform the United States of America,” but if we had realized what you really meant by that, you’d be back in your house in Chicago and someone else entirely would be our president. You go too far.




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