American Elephants


Overturning a Regulation Here and a Regulation There and Eventually You Are Free Again by The Elephant's Child

Within just 24 hours, the Senate successfully overturned two sets of regulations finalized by the Department of Education in the final weeks of the Obama administration. As the Daily Signal reported:

Using the oversight authority granted to it by the Congressional Review Act, the Senate passed resolutions of disapproval for accountability regulations under the Every Student Succeeds Act and regulations for teacher preparation programs. These resolutions now proceed to President Donald Trump.

The use of the Congressional Review Act to roll back these regulations provides immediate relief for states and schools. It also prevents the Department of Education from promulgating substantially similar regulations in the future without congressional approval.

Senator Ben Sasse (R-Neb) rose to speak about the regulations, and said he had prepared some major thoughts, but put them aside because it all boiled down to two simple facts:

1.Government bureaucrats are not qualified to make highly specific decisions for remote programs.

2. The federal government lacks the constitutional authority to interfere in local decision-making about education.

He also pointed out that the regulations directed at local decision-making  devised by the Obama administration amounted to 635 pages of densely worded directives. 635 pages! Federal micromanagement at its best.

That’s the essence of the Left’s drive for control. They are quite sure that they are considerably smarter than those rubes out there, and must control their every effort at individual freedom.

Striking down regulations one by one is a long and troublesome process. Thank your representatives when they succeed. The Left’s desire for control is, in the end, no match for the American people’s demand for freedom.



The Teacher, The School System, The City Council, the Legislature. the Governor and Maybe Even the Courts Will Tell You the Schools Need More Money! It’s All Lies! by The Elephant's Child

What about America’s public education? There are a lot of complaints about K-12 as well. Many hope that Betsy DeVos, the newly confirmed Secretary of Education, can make a big difference in the schools that are failing our most-at-risk children in poor neighborhoods. She is a big proponent of school choice, which allows parents to choose where their child should go to school—something well-to-do parents do quite naturally without realizing that choice is not available to all. One of the great tragedies of the Obama administration was the president’s failure to support the nation’s capitol’s Opportunity Scholarships which have changed the lives of poor kids.

Most ordinary Americans support their community schools, and believe public education to be a good thing. Yet college professors are complaining that their incoming students don’t know anything. There was a small note of cheer this week when I ran across an article that said “Cursive Writing Is Making a Much- Needed Comeback in Schools.” Alabama and Louisiana passed laws in 2016 that mandate cursive proficiency in public schools, the latest in 14 states that require cursive. Fads, unfortunately, pass through the education system destroying everything in their wake. There is a generation out there who never learned cursive skills. They hold a pencil awkwardly, and write in big block letters.

Penmanship proponents say writing words in an unbroken line of swooshing l’s and three-humped m’s is just a faster, easier way of taking notes. Others say students should be able to understand documents written in cursive, such as, say, a letter from Grandma. And still more say it’s just a good life skill to have, especially when it comes to signing your name.

A remarkable amount of dross comes out of the schools of education. When computers arrived on the scene, they decided everyone would communicate with keyboards, and all kids needed was to learn “keyboarding.” You also have to learn how to read other people’s handwriting. I was lucky in that my father and an aunt had the world’s most execrable handwriting possible, and learning to cope with them made me pretty good at deciphering anyone’s scribbles.

The act of handwriting helps to fix the thought in the mind. You learn better if you write it down. That’s why people intuitively write lists, directions, rules and anything they want to remember. The more you write things down the better you will do in the memory department. This is an actual scientific fact. It’s all very nice to have things in 12 to 15 point type in a clear font, but the teeny keyboards you can pull up on your phone are not an improvement on a pencil and a scrap of paper. (If this kind of thing is of interest to you, try to get your hands on the 4 books by Richard Mitchell, beginning with “Less Than Words Can Say” or simply Google “Richard Mitchell underground grammarian,” and you will have access to his works)

“Diversity” is another fad that swept the schools. Children obviously couldn’t learn properly unless the classroom had a wide array of skin tones, ethnicity, countries of origin, language, etc., etc.  That schools were supposed to be about reading, writing and arithmetic, as they used to say, escaped the educators in the education schools. Teachers used to learn how to teach in “Normal Schools.” These were 2-year schools that covered the basics of grammar school. (There was also once a reason why they called it “Grammar” school) By the time kids got to high school, it was a bit more demanding so teachers gradually were required to have a college degree. Departments of Economics, Philosophy, Physics, that sort of thing, were apt to look down on Departments engaged in how to draw the letters of the alphabet on a blackboard, and unimpressed with PhDs in Education, which has made Professors of Education very sensitive, and apt to fall for the latest new thing.

Even more recent is the discovery that many black adolescent boys behave badly in school, and get sent to the principal, sent home or expelled more frequently than white adolescent boys. Obviously racism. And the cure is to just not expel or punish those who misbehave if they are black. If you know anything about kids, this is an invitation for more bad behavior. There is a rash of teachers being attacked in schools across the country. Science says successful students need hours of physical activity every day. They don’t get enough exercise. Boys particularly. But we have to protect children from physical dangers. Did you ever wonder where the teeter-totters went? Or what happened to the swings and the merry-go-round?

Parents trek to the schools for parent-teacher conferences and the teacher tells them how splendidly their kid is doing, and you assume all is well. But you have not learned the basic lesson of the schools. All problems are to be solved with more money. Class size is deemed to be a major problem, if the classes were smaller your kid would get more attention. More money. Even the courts have gotten into the money problem ordering states cough up equally for all districts everywhere. Some of the best schooling I ever had was in a one-room country schoolhouse with a very good teacher, a pump on the front porch, a stove in the classroom and two separate outhouses in the separate back corners of the property. It’s not the money, it’s not the playground (there wasn’t one, just fields) it’s not fancy equipment. It’s a skilled teacher. And the Schools of Education are failing, and it’s not their money either.

 



The Decline and Fall of America’s Educational Excellence by The Elephant's Child

While the nation’s budget watchers pour, with horror,  over the numbers involved in student loans, it seems that students are spending their student loan money to have a really good spring break fun-in-the-sun trip. Perhaps that is an outgrowth of the Obama administration’s insistence that every young person should go to college. Or on the other hand, perhaps parents just put too much emphasis on what fun they had when they were in college. Unfortunately, Congress keeps upping the amount a student can borrow to go to college which directly results in colleges raising tuition. It’s a cycle that must be ended.

This comes in the wake of the riot at Middlebury. Students at Middlebury College in Vermont decided they could not tolerate opinions that differed from their own. Actually, they were acting on hearsay about the work of distinguished scholar Charles Murray, that came from sources such as the Southern Poverty Law Center, and they had no idea at all about Murray’s work or ideas. The protest resulted in a faculty member hospitalized. Dan Henninger of the Wall Street Journal suggests that this event may be a tipping point, though that is not at all sure. The news from our colleges is not, to say the least, encouraging.

Why are the Millennials Protesting?” asks a piece from Townhall.

As for the self-evident, self-centeredness of many millennials, this is partly the result of their upbringing and environment, as they have grown up in a culture of indulgence, a culture of narcissism, a culture of radical, leftist, campus ideology (which often revolves around “my feelings”), a culture of me-focused social media, which finds its ultimate expression in the selfie.

At Pitzer College, there is a current flap about white girls wearing hoop earrings, something claimed to be cultural appropriation of styles that belong to brown and black people. Who knew?

In response to student and faculty activists, Barnard college will divest from companies that “deny” climate change. They have not yet defined what makes one a denier.

Yet the college will not be divesting from fossil fuels in the traditional sense.

Instead, it will take an approach that no other college has taken before, divesting from companies that “deny climate science or otherwise seek to thwart efforts to mitigate the impact of climate change.”

Oddly enough, I have never heard of anyone who denies that the climate is always changing. It’s a natural process. Since the activity of the sun controls the warming and cooling of the planet, this does not promise to be a major point advancing the value of a Barnard education.

There has always been nonsense going on in our colleges. There was a time when it was as tame as goldfish swallowing and panty raids, but that devolved into the much more serious protests against the Vietnam War, largely because students were terrified of being drafted. Which in turn ended up with a lot of educational deferments by those who believed a PhD would keep them out of the war, and resulted in the leftist takeover of American education. Since professors help to choose the new faculty,  leftists did not endorse those who disagree with them politically. Add on the Frankfort School and you have today’s campus problems, and Leftist indoctrination of students.

The essence of all the protests and outrage at the injustices of the world, the renaming of college buildings that celebrated someone who once approved of slavery, and removal of statuary of unapproved forbears is on display. The kids are often away from home for the first time, and experiencing new things without much knowledge of either the present or the past, and the colleges are flush with moral outrage, which seems to be catching.  Reason sums it all up nicely in an article titled “Moral Outrage is Self-Serving, Say Psychologists.

When people publicly rage about perceived injustices that don’t affect them personally, we tend to assume this expression is rooted in altruism—a “disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others.” But new research suggests that professing such third-party concern—what social scientists refer to as “moral outrage”—is often a function of self-interest, wielded to assuage feelings of personal culpability for societal harms or reinforce (to the self and others) one’s own status as a Very Good Person.

The faculty at Middlebury is trying to back down in the face of the riot the protests developed into. Mizzou has had a distinct decline in enrollment, had to shut down some dorms and had a devastating attack on their funding. There are consequences. Faculty and administrators need to start acting like grownups. Bad behavior should not be tolerated, and if the colleges don’t react, their potential customers may well choose somewhere where bad behavior is not tolerated. There is the overall question of free speech, which is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, not a bunch of adolescent students, but of basic manners and decent behavior.

Education does not involve comfortable wallowing in the same old ideas one brought to the institution. Students are expected to meet startling and surprising new ideas and new approaches to everything. There are no “safe spaces” in life, and empathy and moral outrage are not the path to coming face to face with the real world.
Businessmen are beginning to learn that customers aren’t necessarily in tune with business spouting politics. Organized protests are unneeded. People take their dollars elsewhere. Colleges and universities should be learning the same lesson. Mizzou will not be the only university to find their students gone elsewhere. Parents want their kids to learn, not to be indoctrinated in someone else’s politics.



The Middlebury College Disgrace: Leftism, Ignorance and Hate by The Elephant's Child

Last Thursday. March 2, the distinguished Professor Charles Murray was invited to speak at Middlebury College in Vermont on his most recent book Coming Apart and how it related to the recent election. Plans for protests began to emerge, encouraged by several faculty members. The logic, Dr. Murray says, that “since I am a racist, a white supremacist, a white nationalist, a psuedoscientist whose work has been discredited, a sexist, a eugenicist, and (this is a new one) anti-gay, I did not deserve a platform for my hate speech, and hence it was appropriate to keep me from speaking.”

The lecture hall was filled to capacity, about 400, half of whom had come to hear the lecture, the other half to protest. The protesters had scripts to read from and screamed enthusiastically, but had no idea what they were screaming about. The students got violent, the Political Science professor who had agreed to act as moderator for the Q&A session and ask the first three questions herself, was injured and sent to the hospital.

The New York Times coverage of the incident is here. Largely ill-informed and fake news, they used the Southern Poverty Law Center, described as “left-leaning” rather than far-left (which is more accurate) as an “authority.” The photo shows students reading from their scripts. Here is Dr. Murray’s description of the event from AEI where he is a distinguished scholar. Here is a photo of the lovely Middlebury Campus where the yearly cost for tuition, room and board is a startling $61,046 a year. ($6,000 a month).

My great, great uncle was a Middlebury graduate, probably 1838, though he was ill with typhoid one semester. His room and board cost $2.50 a week in the nicest private homes, and his entire education cost no more than $1,000.

Here’s an interview from Hoover’s “Uncommon Knowledge” series by Peter Robinson, when Charles Murray’s Coming Apart had just come out in 2012. Uncommon Knowledge interviews are long (47 min) but completely fascinating, giving you real insight into the scholar. The book explains how over the last 50 years the culture has changed, and changed dramatically. The Founders said that to preserve the free society they were advocating, Americans must possess certain values: 1. religiosity 2. marriage integrity 3. industriousness and 4. plain honesty.  And we are losing that.  Perhaps for good.  And if we do, we will not be the same country we all have loved.

There must be consequences for the Middlebury students. There is no excuse for such behavior, and such ignorant behavior. How many parents are able or willing to spring for $6,000 a month? How many future employers will look askance at a Middlebury degree? Will parents pull their kids out of school and put them to work? Are there consequences?

I had long looked with a bit of disfavor on Dr. Murray because of his division of people into classes, and I had always believed in an America that was essentially a classless society — yet that is precisely what he is arguing. In Coming Apart. We were essentially a classless society, and we are losing that, and it is unhealthy, and may be beyond redeeming. The protesting students have their arguments essentially backwards. Fascinating arguments. While you can see faint glimmers of where the protesters got their ignorant ideas — they would be far better off to have listened carefully and tried to understand. But our American campuses are no longer places of learning, but devolving into something quite different. And that is a huge loss as well.

ADDENDUM: Here is an essay about the Middlebury contretemps by the editors at National Review. A good piece. ” Charles Murray is used to protests. If he opens a box of Cracker Jack, there is no prize at the bottom, just some Haverford College sophomore calling him a racist. If he were protested any more widely, he’d be the Vietnam War. But, usually he is also permitted to speak, free speech being a two-way street.”



Facing Reality Can Be Really Hard by The Elephant's Child

trump-crowdsAn article in Britain’s Daily Mail about Valerie Jarrett moving into the new home the Obama’s have rented in one of the tonier districts of Washington D.C., just two miles from the White House, has caught a lot of attention. An anonymous family friend reported that “No longer the most powerful man in the world, Obama was just observing Trump and not liking what he saw.”

He was weary and burned out after eight years in office. But Valerie convinced him that he didn’t have any choice if he wanted to save his legacy. And, as usual, he bowed to Valerie’s political wisdom and advice.

In his only public comment against Trump since leaving the presidency, Obama came out in support of the protests opposing President Donald Trump’s executive order to restrict immigration from predominantly Muslim countries.

A spokesman said the former president thinks they’re ‘citizens exercising their Constitutional right to assemble, organize and have their voices heard by their elected officials is exactly what we expect to see when American values are at stake.’

Former president Obama is ready to assume his role as leader of the opposition against President Trump, and he’s going to use his skills as a community organizer to bring Trump down, and get him impeached, beginning with his 30,000 strong OFA campaign organization. This is unprecedented and one would assume — unthinkable. America has always been a country of peaceful transition of powers, as the Constitution envisions.

Obama is mistaken if he thinks they are just citizens exercising their Constitutional right to assemble, etc, etc. He is forever a former president. His successes, if any, and failures will be judged by historians, not by his self-serving books, and for the rest of his life he will be watched and judged for his behavior. Jimmy Carter has been judged harshly for meddling in governmental matters after his term was over.  And all of Obama’s mistakes will be chewed over by historians, and the results of his policies will become clear.  Happens to all of them.

The Left has gone certifiably nuts, and apparently the Obamas have as well. People become Democrats because the Left keeps telling them that the Republicans are mean. It seems to be true because the Left achieves the power they crave by giving people goodies with other people’s money. It doesn’t work, because as Margaret Thatcher used to say “Sooner or later you run out of other peoples money.” Republicans are mean like your father telling you that you can’t have the toys you want because we can’t afford them. You may be mad at your dad for years, but sooner or later you realize he was right.

Republicans talk too much about economics, but they have to because if you don’t get it close to right, millions of people suffer and some die. In eight years, Obama never achieved the average 3% economic growth. He added $10 trillion to the National Debt, decimated the military and put the nation at risk with his misguided Iran Deal. Iran is working with North Korea on nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles. Obama apparently believed that the shouts of “Death to Israel” and “Death to America” were just PR for the locals. We have been at war with Iran since 1979, a simple fact Obama never understood.

The Left were so proud of themselves for electing the First Black President that they never managed to figure out that his programs didn’t work, and endangered the country. They were so sure that Hillary would be elected to continue the Obama years that they simply didn’t grasp the anger and unhappiness of the country. Tom Sowell wrote:

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 forego, or to risk one 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 issues—and why they react so viscerally to those who challenge their vision.

They were bewildered, shocked, when Hillary did not win the election. Nobody seemed to understand that people knew she was a compulsive liar, that the email scandal threatened the security of the country with her carelessness and graft. They could not imagine that the American people chose the man with funny hair and an orange tan. They lost 13 Senate seats, 69 House seats, 910 state legislative seats, and 30 legislative chambers.  All their leading people are in their 70s or older. They have no bench.

Donald Trump, who they consider an uncouth joke, just gave a magnificent speech to Congress. He has selected an outstanding cabinet, and is working hard to undo some of the most damaging last minute poison pills Obama inflicted on the next administration. All they can think of is to blame it all on the Russians.



President Donald Trump Being Presidential by The Elephant's Child

trumpgeneric1It was a very good speech. Donald Trump was at his presidential best, clear, straightforward, positive and offering his hand to his opponents in Congress, inviting them to think first of our country. He began with a tribute to Black History Month and the work that still needs doing for civil rights, and the threats to Jewish Community Centers. He reminded us all that “we may be divided on policies, but we are a nation that stands together in condemning hate and evil in all its forms.” After scanning the state of the country, he turned our attention to a strategic effort to improve the lives of all Americans. And the heartfelt applause! Be a bit difficult to keep up with the silly ‘Nazi’ bit after this.

If you were watching, perhaps you noticed that many Democrat women were wearing white. After all the talk of how they would disrupt the speech, find nasty ways to protest, walk out, or just do something to acknowledge their fury, members of the House Democratic Women’s Working Group decided they would channel the suffragette movement when they wore white to President Trump’s joint address to Congress. I didn’t even notice them until near the end of the speech.

In a statement, Rep. Lois Frankel, D-Fla., said they will be wearing white to “unite against any attempts by the Trump administration to roll back the incredible progress women have made in the last century.”

Frankel chairs the Democratic Women’s Working Group, which said their commitment to women’s rights includes affordable healthcare and Planned Parenthood, equal pay, paid sick and family leave, affordable child care, secure retirement and “lives free from fear and violence.”

I’m not sure in what alternate universe this bunch of women assume that the Trump administration is trying to deprive them of their progress. The women of the House don’t have ObamaCare for their health insurance, so they really don’t know how expensive it is, nor why it is such a failure.  The Federal government has no business either supporting or attacking Planned Parenthood. The right to an abortion has been guaranteed by the Supreme Court, but a large portion of the country opposes abortion, and should not be forced to support it with their taxpayer money. Equal pay has been settled law since 1963, and this blather about 70% of mens pay is and has been totally false. Republicans passed the vote for women’s suffrage in 1920 in spite of Democrats opposition, just like they passed the Civil Rights Act in spite of Democrat opposition. A little late, Democrats are once again attempting to capture credit for something they historically opposed. This gets tiresome.

President Trump’s speech to Congress was truly presidential and a very good speech as well. Democrats were clearly not expecting that, and were totally unprepared for it to be anything even acceptable. In their current unhinged state they were expecting something they could really get their teeth into (so to speak) and were ready to take him on, but gracious, well-meaning, kind,  and celebrating our country and its history—the women in white slunk out of the chamber before anyone could notice, without a sound, utterly defeated.



The Progressives Choose a New Progressive Chairman by The Elephant's Child

Thomas PerezThe Democrats have elected a new chairman of the Democratic National Committee, in a close election, selected former Labor Secretary Tom Perez, who promptly selected Keith Ellison as his deputy.  Most Republicans could not possibly care less, but we should pay  attention. The Chairman of the DNC is the official organizer and fund raiser for he party. And the Democratic Party is mired in a cauldron of rage and hate.

That you probably have noticed. They have become the party of name-calling, all familiar names for the most  part: “White-nationalist, racist, bigot, anti-Semite, misogynist, crypto-fascist and fascist, homophobe, Nazi, Islamophobe,” but I skipped the Oscars and may have missed some. Meryl Streep added ‘Brownshirts’ a few days ago. Zero Hedge reported on a Tucker Carlson interview with Glenn Greenwald who clarified things a little:

Democrats seem to have a major problem with introspection. I get it – admitting fault means being wrong, and for a party built upon emotionalism and condescending moralization instead of facts and common sense, being wrong strips the self-righteous DNC of the one argument they’ve built their entire platform on; we’re right because we say we are.

A failed, collapsed party cannot form an effective resistance. Trump did not become president and the Republicans do not dominate virtually all levels of government because there is some sort of massive surge in enthusiasm for right-wing extremism. Quite the contrary: This all happened because the Democrats are perceived — with good reason — to be out of touch, artificial, talking points-spouting Automatons who serve Wall Street, Silicon Valley, and the agenda of endless war, led by millionaires and funded by oligarchs to do the least amount possible for ordinary, powerless citizens while still keeping their votes.

That pretty well covers it. They are still blaming everything on Hillary won the popular vote (That’s not how we measure elections in America), the election being rigged, the Russians, not appreciating a strong woman, — and back to the litany of insults.  Total lack of comprehension.

The Sanders followers choice was Keith  Ellison, the anti-Semitic, anti-Israel Congressman with strong ties to the Muslim Brotherhood associated organizations, supported by Bernie, Harry Reed, Elizabeth Warren and Chuck Schumer. Perez was the choice of the Clintons, but has many of the same problems as Hillary, with emails, ethics, telling the truth and a firm belief that only Caucasians can commit race crimes. Perez was found guilty in an investigation of the House Oversight and Judiciary Committee and the minority staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee of violating the spirit and letter of the Federal Records Act 34 times while working for the Department of Justice. Perez told supporters in the room that he was willing to combat Donald Trump whom he called “the worst president in the history of the United States” this after one whole month of the administration, catching up with Maxine Waters who wants him impeached immediately.

Former Los Angeles mayor and potential California gubernatorial candidate Antonia Villaraigosa told the DNC that the party must stand up and fight for these 11 million” illegal aliens in the United States, ‘for we are our brother’s keeper.”

“These 11 million people have no credentials to this hall,” Villaraigosa said, “they don’t even have a vote. But they must have a voice in our party and our nation. Donald Trump proposes the greatest mass deportation in our nation’s, or any nation’s history. It’s patterned after ‘Operation Wetback,’ a shameful episode in our nation’s history when 1 million Mexicans were deported. He would not only deport our neighbors and our families, he would vanquish the dream. The dream they carry in their heart when they answer that beacon of hope and light to dreamers from all over the world. So in this city of brotherly love, we must stand up and fight for these 11 million, for we are our brother’s keeper.”

Winning platform—open borders for anyone who wants to come at any time.  “A party of out-of-touch talking-points spouting automatons led by millionaires and oligarchs to do the least amount possible for ordinary, powerless citizens while still keeping their votes.”

Sounds like a political party death wish to me.




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