American Elephants


“It’s a Republic If You Can Keep It” by The Elephant's Child

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Over at Powerline, Steven Hayward wrote that he stumbled across a speech that President Reagan gave in 1977 that describes our modern predicament very well:

But how much are we to blame for what has happened? Beginning with the traumatic experience of the Great Depression, we the people have turned more and more to government for answers that government has neither the right nor the capacity to provide. But government, as an institution, always tends to increase in size and power, not just this government—any government. It’s built-in. And so government attempted to provide the answers.

The result is a fourth branch added to the traditional three of executive, legislative, and judicial: a vast federal bureaucracy that’s now being imitated in too many states and too many cities, a bureaucracy of enormous power which determines policy to a greater extent than any of us realize, very possibly to a greater extent than our own elected representatives. And it can’t be removed from office by our votes.

That gets into the problem of the Administrative State which has become an increasingly larger problem under the Obama administration.

We go to hear their speeches and attend their events and vote for them for public office, and they begin to think that they are special, and if we reelect them, it increases, and newsmen call them by their title and print what they say and before you know it they start believing they are essential, and we start talking about term limits, and making rules that say that they cannot move from holding office to becoming highly-paid lobbyists valuable to their employers quite specifically because they know all the senators and representatives with whom they used to work, and thus the ability to influence them.

When they leave office, do they return home—or do they stay on in the nation’s capitol—unable to part with the power they once had? You see what an incestuous and closed circle it all becomes.

It’s easy to propose term limits for people of the other party, but term limits for your own favorites are another question. You may believe in them as wise legislators who advocate for causes you believe in, who are particularly valuable because they know their way around Congress. At what point do you agree to send them back home and elect a fresh new face who may or may not turn out to be as valuable? Hard questions.

If our government is to be, in Lincoln’s words, “a government of the people, by the people and for the people,” then it will be a constant battle and a constant question, but we have to opt for the people and for generations to come.

I can think of a number of members of Congress who have been returned to Congress by their constituents for years and years that are, frankly, just plain dumb. Is that pure party loyalty? No appealing replacement? Why keep sending them back? Term limits would take care of that, but you’d lose your favorite too.

Do you have a copy of the Constitution? Have you read the whole thing? The Cato Institute (Libertarian) sells a dandy little pocket Constitution which includes the Declaration of Independence as well.  Single copies are $4.95 or are cheaper in quantity. There’s a special on 10 copies for $10.00.

Why would you want ten copies? They make nice gifts for high school seniors off to college or off to the work world. No guarantee that they will read it, but everyone should have their own copy, on the off-chance that they might find it useful to refer to from time to time.

It was Ben Franklin who once said: “It’s a republic, madam, if you can keep it.”



They Came. They Marched. They Left a Mess. They Accomplished? by The Elephant's Child

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Lots of women (and some men) demonstrated today in Washington D.C. to express their anger that their candidate didn’t win the election. They carried even more of the usual vulgar signs, expressed amazing ignorance of both history and politics, and ranted with the usual Leftist vocabulary that is impressive only in its lack of any originality whatsoever. Let’s see, Nazi, Sexist, Racist, Hate, Hitler, Misogynist, seems to cover the usual. “Stay Out of My Uterus” in slight variations was popular. They were advocating reproductive rights for women, which, oddly, does not include the right to produce children, but only to get rid of unwanted pregnancies. Women who actually do celebrate their reproductive rights by having three or more children are apt to get all sorts of sneering comments.

The protests are remarkably uninformed about the policies that have been advocated by the incoming Trump administration. They are just spouting the same silly claptrap that are a feature of Democrats’ usual accusations in the absence of any actual facts. They clearly did not listen to his speech. Democrats have not behaved this badly since they started a war over their desire to keep buying and selling slaves because their economy was based on their labor. That didn’t turn out well for them then, either.

Donald Trump’s inauguration speech was simple and clear. He meant what he said on the campaign trail.  Eight years of a jobless recovery, an increasingly divided America, 300,000 small business jobs lost, most of the jobs created that Obama bragged about were temporary, means that things have to change. Racist? It’s the black community that has suffered the most from Obama’s policies. In an age of growing numbers of terrorist attacks across the world it would be irresponsible to admit numbers of “Syrian refugees” without being able to learn who they really are. Syrian passports are readily available to anyone with the requisite amount of cash, and there is no way to vet them. Do we have to allow ISIS attacks in this country to make people understand the perils of open borders?

Donald Trump’s inauguration speech was not eloquent, no flowery or grandiloquent phrases,  but plain speech. “Mike Rowe shared an anecdote about the rise and success of his show “Dirty Jobs” on the Discovery channel, and how it perfectly explains the way that Donald Trump resonated with hard-working Americans.”

Dirty Jobs didn’t resonate because the host was incredibly charming. It wasn’t a hit because it was gross, or irreverent, or funny, or silly, or smart, or terribly clever. Dirty Jobs succeeded because it was authentic. It spoke directly and candidly to a big chunk of the country that non-fiction networks had been completely ignoring. In a very simple way, Dirty Jobs said ‘Hey – we can see you,’ to millions of regular people who had started to feel invisible. Ultimately, that’s why Dirty Jobs ran for eight seasons. And today, that’s also why Donald Trump is the President of the United States.

Here’s the text of President Trump’s speech: You might want to read it again and see what Mike Rowe meant, and how all those angry women were missing the point. Here’s the Wall Street Journal on the women’s march: “advocating everything from providing unfettered reproductive rights for women, to tackling climate change, to raising the minimum wage.”

Women can get an abortion according to the Supreme Court, settled law. Climate has been changing for millions of years and people have been adapting. Raising the minimum wage is a vicious unemployment program for poor young black men and women. Federal funding for Planned Parenthood could quickly be rendered unnecessary if all these women would just contribute the amount they spent on getting to Washington for the big march, they probably wouldn’t need any government funding. Madonna sang and made an F-word laced speech, and will be investigated by the Secret Service for announcing that she wants to bomb the White House. All very colorful and very pointless.  I suppose it feels really good to be part of what your consider as “a movement.” Manning the barricades as it were. I’ve been really very tired of so-called feminists for a very long time.



The Women’s March on Washington is Bunk. by The Elephant's Child

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Saturday, and we are to be annoyed with the “Women’s March ” which seems to be mostly anti-Trump  posturing with abortion rights thrown in for extra credit. I am so sick of the Left’s ignorant outcry that I have little patience left for this sort of thing. Guaranteed unrestricted sexual choice is not an absolute good. All the old sexual diseases have returned and are rampant. Planned Parenthood’s selling of baby body parts is not only criminal, but unbelievably disgusting. Contraceptives are widely available and cheap in many locations. I see no reason why taxpayers should be saddled with that expense.

The anti-Trump protests are so disconnected from reality that it’s hard to believe that these people live in the same country as the rest of us. Rachel Maddow asks if she will be “put in a camp?” People go on about “Fascism” in a way that makes it clear that they have no idea what fascism is. Donald Trump is not an Anti-Semite, his daughter Ivanka has converted to Judaism, as her husband is an orthodox Jew. Trump is not anti-gay, nor prejudiced against Muslims nor Mexicans. He merely emphasizes that unlimited and uncontrolled immigration, ignoring our immigration laws, opens the door to drug trafficking and people trafficking and, in the age of al Qaeda and ISIS, opens the door to terrorist attacks. Obama remarked in the last few days that we really haven’t had any terrorist attacks in this country under his watch, which prompted some very puzzled disagreement, beginning with Fort Hood, and running through a lot of other sad venues.

Of course. women who voted for Donald Trump are not welcome, but women who oppose Planned Parenthood or oppose abortion are not welcome either. It is just another leftist event. They find Trump sexist, racist, misogynist, and fascist, of course.  They may even mention equal pay for women, but that has been settled law for years, not that it is observed in places like the Clinton campaign.

I hope they have a good time, because their message is bunk. There is no such thing as social justice. We have one kind of justice in this country and it is concerned with the Constitution, the courts and the body of law. The only diversity that matters is diversity of ideas and the freedom to express them. Skin color hasn’t mattered to anyone for a very long time. And if you think that trying to force everyone to be equal is a good idea, you might try reading the Black Book of Communism, or reading up on Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea, Cambodia, and Soviet Russia.

 



There Are Real Reasons Why You Need to Pay Attention to Politics. by The Elephant's Child

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I have watched as many of the committee hearings on President-Elect Trump’s Cabinet nominees as I can, to find out more about just who they are. I am very impressed by the quality of these people. Donald Trump and Mike Pence have selected individuals who bring special  knowledge and ability to the office to which they were nominated. The difference in the caliber of people is notable.

The questioning in the hearings by Democrats was largely embarrassing. Someone has done a deep dive into the media to see what they can turn up, and issued talking points for the questions, trying to prove the Democrats’ constant cries of “racist, sexist, and homophobe” and throw in “Islamophobe, fascist,” and anything Russian as well. If that sounds like I’m saying the questioning wasn’t very useful, well yes, that’s what I’m saying. It’s the oft-repeated observation that “how can they be qualified to hold a cabinet office when they have never served in government?”

The obvious responses would be Constitutional requirements, being bureaucrats is not a qualification for anything, and that old “We the People” thing.

The nominees were clearly selected for their individual abilities and ideas, rather than because they gave money to the campaign or were early supporters. It’s quite a contrast with President Obama who appointed Hillary as Secretary of State as the candidate he had defeated for the presidency. And seemingly, created a cabinet of yes-men (or women). Obama’s approach was a little different. He famously said:

“I think that I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters,” Mr. Obama told Patrick Gaspard, his political director, at the start of the 2008 campaign, according to The New Yorker. “I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m going to think I’m a better political director than my political director.”

He also chose, it was reported, to have intelligence briefings delivered in a short paper that he could read, rather than be “briefed” by intelligence personnel. It is a choice of the way to conduct the office, but telling.

The Left, in general, blames everybody else for Hillary’s loss. The media describes her frequently as “beloved” which clearly does not seem to be the case. John Lewis not only blames the Russians for Hillary’s loss, but will not attend the inauguration since he believes that Donald Trump did not legitimately win the election. Hillary claims that the “Russian hacking” was because of Vladimir Putin’s personal animus against her.

Andy McCarthy wrote that “Disclosure of embarrassing information should not be confused with disinformation.” When the public hears reference to cyber-espionage they are inclined to think spies and sinister stuff, not “an effort to publicize true but embarrassing information.”

Hillary’s improper emails and the court fights to get them released had long been public knowledge and worrisome for those who pay close attention to political matters. Hillary’s emails were a very big deal because 1. they included highly classified national security State Department secrets and 2. She put them on an unsecured computer open to any capable hacker at any time — which she was forbidden by law from doing, because she wanted to hide the graft of the Clinton Foundation, which had considerably enriched the family.

Hillary was a known compulsive liar and had been known as such since she was the wife of the Governor of Arkansas. She was also publicly known as vicious and rude to aides, military personnel, and the Secret Service members assigned to protect her life. No one could name an accomplishment from her tenure as Secretary of State, except for racking up air miles. Benghazi and Libya rankled for those who were paying attention. I know that there are many people who don’t like politics and don’t pay attention. It’s a choice. But they do damage to all of us because they are not informed voters.

The latest excuse for Hillary’s loss is grocery store checkout lines. Those awful headlines on the National Enquirer and it’s competitors, made voters change their minds at the last minute.

Obama believed that the media was to blame for rural Americans not voting Democrat this election despite his administration pumping billions of dollars into rural economies.

Obama made the remarks as part of an “exit interview” put out by CNN. The U.S. Department of Agriculture pumped out $6.5 billion in 2016 to fund rural electrical utilities, housing and community development. …

There are a lot of folks in places like West Virginia or Kentucky who didn’t vote for Hillary, didn’t vote for me, but are being helped by this,” Obama said.

Those coal mining communities were really helped by getting unemployment and food stamps when Obama closed down the mines because of  his climate illusions. “Deplorables” indeed. As someone who grew up very, very rural, I can assure you that rural America is not exactly populated by the backward or unintelligent. Or Deplorable.

Democratic California Rep. Maxine Waters will join John Lewis in boycotting the inauguration because she believes that Donald Trump’s campaign attacks against Hillary Clinton are impeachable offenses. Here’s Maxine on Chris Matthews:

“Well here’s what I’m trying to get to,” Waters responded. “If we discover that Donald Trump or his advocates played a role to help provide strategy — if they’re the ones who came up with ‘Crooked Hillary,’ if they’re the ones who came up with, ‘she’s ill, something’s wrong with her energy,’ and the way that he basically described her during the campaign — I think that is something that would put the question squarely on the table whether or not he should be impeached.”

So, you think you can commit an impeachable offense before you take office?” Matthews incredulously asked the California Democrat.

“Well, I think that at the point that investigations discover and confirm and can document any of that role in helping to strategize — they had a role in attempting to determine the outcome,” she answered regardless of the actual question. “That in many ways they used the information they got when they hacked into emails etc. — if that was used against Hillary Clinton in some way, yes I think that’s impeachable.”

Oh my!  I rest my case.



Squeezing in as Many Last-Minute Orders as Possible! by The Elephant's Child

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There are only eight days until the inauguration. President Obama has given his farewell speech to a few thousand of his most enamored fans, who loved every single word, most of which were “I”.  President Obama has a legacy to shore up. So far, there’s not much there. Liz Peak, who usually writes for The Fiscal Times wrote a piece for Fox News on “Obama’s full-blown, year-end temper tantrum

Let’s be honest: President Obama is throwing a good old-fashioned foot-stomping world class temper tantrum. He is just beside himself that the stupid American voter elected Donald Trump. How could the country willfully dismiss the erudite recommendation of nearly every news organization in the nation – as well as Obama’s personal plea that not electing Hillary would be a personal insult to him? How could young people not respond to Obama’s call to “bend the arc of history in a better direction?” It is beyond comprehension.

But it happened, and Obama is having an extremely difficult time dealing with what may be his first-ever serious setback. …

So he is attempting to squeak in everything he possibly can in these last few days. He announced that his administration is ending the longstanding immigration policy that allowed Cubans fleeing their communist country to remain in this country if they can get here. The change means that Cuban nationals who come to the U.S. illegally will be returned to Cuba to face torture or death. “The future of Cuba should be in the hands of the Cuban people” Obama said. Unfortunately it is not in the hands of the people but in the hands of Raul Castro and his police forces, and they don’t like dissent.

Democrats are beside themselves with fear of what they see as “the new authoritarianism” of the incoming administration. Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos has been an outspoken advocate of charter schools, which the teacher’s unions oppose, but is for kids stuck in poorly performing schools, a lifesaving step for poor black children. She is also an opponent of Common Core. Reporters and Democrat activists advocated donations to the ACLU and other organizations devoted to civil liberty in the wake of an authoritarian government. It seems that Betsy DeVos has donated extensively to F.I.R.E. (The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education), a splendid organization that protects students’ rights to free speech, and is seeking to overturn an Obama administration policy that made it easier to discipline students accused of sexual harassment or assault. Way too many false accusations, and FIRE advocates for the interests of both the accuser and the accused, rather than just expelling students after kangaroo court show trials as activists demand.

Democrats in the House and Senate have proposed new legislation that aims to ensure that companies pay taxes on “excessive” employee pay. It’s meant to stop senior employees fro getting huge bonuses that the companies can deduct from their corporate tax bill each year. Nothing in the legislation to affect the excessive employee bonuses in federal agencies meant to use up the appropriated funds, so the agency can get a bigger appropriation next year. Under current law, companies can deduct employee salaries from their taxable income as long as the pay does not exceed $1 million a year.

President Obama has designated three new national monuments having to do with the Reconstruction era and the civil rights movement. He announced the establishment of the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument, the Freedom Riders National Monument and the Reconstruction Era National Monument. The Birmingham Civil Rights Monument protects the historic A.G. Gaston Motel. The Freedom Riders National Monument in Anniston, Alabama includes a Greyhound Bus Station and a site where the bus was firebombed. The Reconstruction Era includes four sites which will tell the story of  Reconstruction after the Civil War. He also announced the expansion of other national sites, the California Coastal National Monument and the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. The federal government is anxious to turn ever more private land over to the government to control. The problem is that the federal government does a lousy job of taking care of its parks and monuments.

ObamaCare is still trying to sign up the young. The failure of ObamaCare to sign up enough younger and healthier individuals to offset the cost of covering older and sicker enrollees is one of the big problems with the program. Trouble is Millennials aren’t anxious to buy coverage to pay for those older and sicker people. Which is just one of the reasons that ObamaCare is collapsing and Republicans want to repeal the law.

It’s all rather embarrassing. If Congress does not choose to ignore them and they become law, it is unfortunate and takes time to undo. If Congress reacts, that takes up their time that could be spent doing other things. Remarkably petty. But that’s Obama.

ADDENDUM: Obama is having the Justice Dept. Inspector General look into Comey’s  release of information about Hillary’s “private” insecure email systems at her home, run by some haywire operation in Colorado. It perhaps spread information about her emails a little wider, but her emails had been public knowledge for some time. Seven more days. Obama will cram in as many more regulations and executive orders as he can. So much for the peaceful transition.



The President Hasn’t Changed in Eight Years. by The Elephant's Child
January 12, 2017, 6:27 am
Filed under: Bureaucracy, Capitalism, Domestic Policy, Economy, Education, Unemployment

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Back in 2008, Richard Epstein, Professor of Law, Fellow at the Hoover Institution, told us that Barack Obama, who he knew at the University of Chicago, was remarkably fixed in his opinions. Once he made up his mind, Epstein said, it was fixed in concrete. He did not change his mind.

Eight years later, as President Barack Obama prepares to leave office,  his farewell speech given in his hometown, Chicago, he made it quite clear that he hasn’t changed his mind about anything.  We simply got another haughty lecture about “Who We Really Are.” It’s just the standard far left worldview.

Real patriotism means the State is the moral center of society. Humanity is deeply flawed and needs to be fixed. Racism is rampant. Congress is dysfunctional. We need to save the Earth from global warming. He wanted to close Guantanamo, and is releasing detainees as rapidly as possible. He believes that black Americans are unfairly put in jail, and is pardoning them as fast as he can. He has saved the Middle East with his brilliant Iran Deal. He’s bringing in Muslim “refugees” as fast as he can, and distributing them into red states to try to change the electoral balance.

He seems to believe that he saved the country from the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, except that the recession ended in June of 2009.  The labor participation rate in January of 2009 was 65.7%. The labor participation rate in January of 2017 was 62.7 %, historically low. The last time it was that low was in 1978. There were only 156,000 new jobs in December, down from 204,000 in November. The problem is that we are adding more population to the workforce than there are jobs. The White House just keeps adding all the jobs created and leaves out the new people entering the workforce. It’s one way to create a “legacy.”

One of the most startling things Obama had to say to the cheering crowd was that “No foreign terrorist organization has successfully planned and executed an attack on our homeland in the last eight years.” David Harsanyi of the Federalist responded:

Now, if you don’t count the attack in San Bernardino, where a ISIS-inspired couple murdered 14 people and wounded another 22; or the ISIS-inspired terrorist attack on Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, where 49 people were murdered and 53 wounded; and if you forget the Fort Hood shooting in Texas, where an Islamist U.S. Army officer murdered 13 people and wounded 32; and you skip the Boston Marathon bombings where Islamists murdered three and wounded another 264; then, perhaps, the president’s claim might have some veracity.

Otherwise, the idea is preposterous no matter how meticulously Obama constructs his sentences. This isn’t exactly as blatant a falsehood as our incoming president likes to drop on occasion, but it’s no less misleading. No, there isn’t a central planning committee meeting where violent foreign terrorist organizations hatch a specific plan to attack America. Yet, somehow, the adherents of violent theology know exactly what they need to do without checking in for instructions. Obama spent eight years refusing to acknowledge this reality — and many others.

In trying to establish his legacy in the minds of his listeners, Obama offered Americans a revisionist history. Some may see it differently, but he has a different truth for them, and for our Democracy.  I wonder if he knows that this is a constitutional republic, and not meant to be a Democracy at all.

I didn’t vote for Obama, because I felt he was too inexperienced, but I wished him well. He’s a stylish man with a handsome family and a skilled campaigner and speaker. I think his Iran Deal is and was a disaster, and increases the likelihood that we will suffer a nuclear strike in the future. But by that time we’ll be able to blame it on somebody else. Blaming Bush can now be set aside. Obama keeps reminding us that President Bush made the transition easy for him, and he wants to do the same thing for his successor. He just can’t quite bring himself to manage it.



The Economic Wit and Wisdom of Thomas Sowell by The Elephant's Child

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The great economist Thomas Sowell has written his last columns, and at age 86, is turning his attention to his photography. He has always had a special genius for stating ideas in a simple but memorable way. When people wanted to honor his long list of columns over the years, they made lists of their favorite Sowell quotations. Here are some of mine and some of economist Mark Perry’s.

  1. ObamaCare: If we cannot afford to pay for doctors, hospitals and pharmaceutical drugs now, how can we afford to pay for doctors, hospitals and pharmaceutical drugs. in addition to a new federal bureaucracy to administer a government run medical system?
  2. Predicting the Future:  Economists are often asked to predict what the economy is going to do. But economic predictions require predicting what politicians are going to do– and nothing is more unpredictable.
  3. Economics vs. Politics: The first lesson of economics is scarcity: There is never enough of anything to satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics.”
  4. Economics vs. Politics: Economics and politics confront the same fundamental problem: What everyone wants adds up to more than there is. Market economies deal with this problem by confronting individuals with the costs of producing what they want, and letting those individuals make their own trade-offs when presented with prices that convey those costs. That leads to self-rationing, in the light of each individual’s own circumstances and preferences.
  5. Predicting the Future: Economists are often asked to predict what the economy is going to do. But economic predictions require predicting what politicians are going to do– and nothing is more unpredictable.
  6. Politicians as Santa Claus: The big question that seldom— if ever— gets asked in the mainstream media is whether these are a net increase in jobs. Since the only resources that the government has are the resources it takes from the private sector, using those resources to create jobs means reducing the resources available to create jobs in the private sector.
  7. Helping the Poor: It was Thomas Edison who brought us electricity, not the Sierra Club.It was the Wright brothers who got us off the ground, not the Federal Aviation Administration. It was Henry Ford who ended the isolation of millions of Americans by making the automobile affordable, not Ralph Nader.
    Those who have helped the poor the most have not been those who have gone around loudly expressing “compassion” for the poor, but those who found ways to make industry more productive and distribution more efficient, so that the poor of today can afford things that the affluent of yesterday could only dream about.
  8. Thomas Sowell on Obama’s Health Care Reform



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