American Elephants


Communicating With the American People: We Don’t Like Being Lied To! by The Elephant's Child

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“The rate of real economic growth is the single greatest determinate of America’s strength as a nation and the well being of the American people.” President Obama has not delivered a single year of 3,0% growth. The Commerce Department reported that the U.S. economy expanded at the slowest pace in two years, rising at an anemic 0.5% rate after a 1.4% fourth quarter advance. Not good, and one of the reasons why so many people are angry.

From Investors Business Daily:

Legacy: The same day the 0.5% GDP growth came out, President Obama is quoted in the New York Times saying the country has done “better” than “any large economy on Earth in modern history.” Delusional doesn’t begin to cut it.

The only real problem with the economy, as far as Obama is concerned, is that he hasn’t been selling his successful policies aggressively enough.

“We were moving so fast early on that we couldn’t take victory laps. We couldn’t explain everything we were doing. I mean, one day we’re saving the banks; the next day we’re saving the auto industry; the next day we’re trying to see whether we can have some impact on the housing market,” he told the Times’ Andrew Ross Sorkin.

Investors added that Obama didn’t “save” either industry. His only contribution to the GM and Chrysler bankruptcy process was to protect union interests at taxpayer expense. Dodd-Frank killed many, many community banks. The stimulus was an enormous expense and accomplished nothing at all.

At a townhall meeting in London, Obama was asked about what he wanted his  legacy to be after eight years.

There are things I’m proud of. The basic principle that in a country as wealthy as the United States, every person should have access to high-quality health care that they can afford — that’s something I’m proud of, I believe in. (Applause.) Saving the world economy from a Great Depression — that was pretty good. (Laughter and applause.)

Well, laughter indeed, but no applause. In early days, Obama was hailed as a great communicator. He was even awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for merely talking about peace. As Noah Rothman said today at Commentary:

The image of Obama as the left’s Great Communicator was always a fabrication. Given how often Obama himself has admitted his persuasive skills have failed his supporters, you might think this invention of a center-left media would have long ago been buried. Yet, it remains with us even today. Born out of a wish and unresponsive to falsifying evidence, the idea that Obama was somehow a marvelously successful communicator will probably be with us long after the president leaves office.

Mr. Trump’s foreign policy speech was similarly hailed as strong and wide ranging.  A lot of people believe what Mr. Trump said, and they’re wrong.

Mr. Trump: “NAFTA, as an example, has been a total disaster for the United States and has emptied our states — literally emptied our states of our manufacturing and our jobs.  Not true.

The North American Free Trade Agreement went into force January 1, 1994. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these were the numbers at the end of December in 1993:

  • Manufacturing employment: 16.8 million
  • Labor force participation rate: 66.4%
  • Unemployment rate: 6.5%

These were the numbers at the end of December 2000:

  • Manufacturing employment: 17.2 million
  • Labor force participation rate: 67.0%
  • Unemployment rate: 3.9%

After seven years of NAFTA, unemployment was down, more people were in the labor force, and there were more people who were employed in manufacturing. In year 8 China joined the World Trade Organization, and problems came from that. This is when the drop in trade came. China is not a good economic partner, but the Obama administration is negotiating an investment deal with China. Either they should stop or Congress should stop them. In any case, Mr. Trump is plainly mistaken on his major arguments.



We Need a Remedial Course in Knowing, How to Retain Knowledge and What to Do With It. by The Elephant's Child

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One of my perennial worries is about the state of knowledge. The world is, of course, always changing, but what has changed most dramatically is the flow of information.

We seldom give it a thought, but in the early days of the republic, news was transmitted by horse and rider, or coach.  And then the town crier  cried the news —and the simple word of mouth. Most people didn’t  have books, except for the Bible. The Revolution, the making of the Constitution, the War of 1812 all happened without telephone or radio to spread the news. The new Capitol in Washington D.C. was burned by the Brits, and it took days or weeks for anyone to find out.

The great Civil War took place entirely without a radio or a telephone, no newsreels, but there were newspapers and magazines, and even new photography, which has left a first visual record for us. There were railroads, and canals and roads.

Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in 1876. Most people thought it was little more than a toy, but they soon began to install telephones in their towns, homes or businesses. The first one appeared in Appleton, Wisconsin in 1877 when a banker ran a line from his home to his bank.

The first transcontinental telephone call took place in 1915 from New York to San Francisco. In 1948 Bell Labs’ Claude Shannon published a landmark paper on “a Mathematical Theory of Communication” which provided mathematicians and engineers with the foundation of information theory which sought to answer questions about how quickly and reliably information could be transmitted.  Direct long distance dialing came about in 1951, and the first transatlantic telephone cable was installed between America and Britain.  It took 3 years and $42 million to plan and install using 1,500 miles of specially insulated coaxial cable.

The first television was introduced at the World’s Fair in 1939, but TV didn’t become common in people’s homes until the 1950s and sixties. The first public tests of a cellular phone system took place in 1978, and it wasn’t till the year 2000 that we finally reached 100 million cellular telephone subscribers.

Even the millennials probably know a little something about the history of the computer, but the kids in college who are protesting freedom of speech, don’t want to hear disagreeing words, need “safe spaces” and think buildings or statues, or crests that remind us of people who thought incorrect things in the past, should be removed.

Even Democrat Attorneys General and Rhode Island’s Senator Whitehouse are out to stamp out the utterances of those who have the gall to deny that a warming climate is going to destroy the earth.

The absurdity in the nation’s colleges and universities is happening at the rare time in our history when we are completely connected to all the information in the world, in an instant, at our fingertips. They are connected to networks of friends wherever they are and to thousands of people they only know through their devices.  Mine’s a tiny computer — roughly 2¾” by 5½”— and I can carry it around in my pocket, and talk to anyone in the world, and call up information from practically anywhere. But how am I supposed to know what is true and what is false?

We had to find out for ourselves how to deal with this flow of information and the even greater flow of advertisements and enticements and lies and scams. But we have had all the years of our lives to get used to things gradually.

Our schools, which are supposed to be the foundation of knowledge, have drifted off into realms of “social justice” and “diversity” and “white privilege” and women’s studies and black studies and college tuitions that range upwards from $50,000 to $60,000 a year and more, to receive less and less in the knowledge department.

Yet they are not only NOT teaching how to manage this flow of words and pictures and ideas, but don’t seem to recognize that the world has changed and they need to fill the kids on the past and how we got here as well as how to cope with the present and plan for the future.

Handwriting is out, ancient history is gone, what use is geography when you can call up Google maps in an instant? Social Justice isn’t even real. There is only one ‘justice’ which is found in the Constitution and the body of laws and in the courts. Students at Stanford (Stanford!) have petitioned for the return of Western Civ. Shakespeare is mostly gone, and Churchill is completely out of fashion. Yet there are more remedial courses in colleges than ever before, because too many students arrive unprepared to do college level work.

A political campaign is a bad time to bring up this subject, but it is the moment of our highest awareness. You can’t help but notice. When Hillary is attempting to make equal pay for women a central part of her campaign — and is unaware that it has been the law since 1963, She mentioned last year that Muslims have nothing to do with terrorism, more than once, in spite of the obvious facts of 9/11, Paris and Brussels. Bernie Sanders is espousing the most discredited political system the world has ever known, which is failing before our eyes in Venezuela, and Cuba, and other countries around the world.

I picked up a book a while back called Too Big To Know by David Weinberger, read some bits and put it aside to read later. Guess I’ll have to read it now.Here’s one paragraph from the Prologue:

So we are in a crisis of knowledge at the same time that we are in an epochal exaltation of knowledge. We fear for the institutions on which we have relied for trustworthy knowledge, but there’s also a joy we can feel pulsing through our culture. It comes from a different place. It comes from the networking of knowledge. Knowledge now lives not just in libraries and museums and academic journals. It lives not just in the skulls of individuals. Our skulls and our institutions are simply not big enough to contain  knowledge. Knowledge is now a property of the network, and the network embraces businesses, governments, media, museums, curated collections, and minds in communication.

I wouldn’t have chosen the words ‘exaltation of knowledge’, nor described it in quite those terms, but I’ll have to read the book. I’ll report back when I have.

*The photo is of the Old Library, Trinity College, Dublin, and those are the stacks.



Hillary Wants To Remove “Barriers” to Citizenship for Illegal Aliens by The Elephant's Child

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Hillary is moving farther and farther to the left to compete with Bernie Sanders as she pushes for votes in New York. The former Secretary of State announced that she would make it easier for immigrants to become citizens in a meeting with New York activists. She promised to “make it a priority to create a new federal agency which would knock down  ‘all the barriers’ to citizenship, especially for all those Americans in Waiting who are in the country illegally.”

“The hassle of becoming a citizen is sometimes overwhelming,” Clinton said, referring to the millions of immigrants in the United States who are eligible for citizenship but have not applied. “We should not add a series of barriers.”

“I’m using this campaign to knock down all the barriers,” she added.

Clinton touted her plan to create a new federal agency called the Office of Immigration Affairs to streamline services to both legal and illegal immigrants in the Manhattan meeting, which was timed just ahead of a New York primary in which support of the Latino community will be important.

We are not in urgent need for more citizens, and the path to citizenship should be somewhat difficult. We need future citizens who really want to become Americans, who are willing to learn the language, learn something about our history, and something about our customs and laws. That is not a barrier to becoming a citizen, Hillary, but a blessing for the citizen to be, and an important thing  for our country.

Hillary apparently, once upon a time, passed the bar exams and became a practicing lawyer. Surely she had to read the Constitution at some point. But then Obama claims to have taught Constitutional Law, (he apparently taught Alinsky instead) and has been engaged for over seven years in finding ways to get around the Constitution with executive orders and administrative law.

We have a federal agency that deals with exactly those problems. It’s called Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and could use some support from the administration. The last thing this country needs is another federal agency. If our elected officials and office seekers fail to take the rule of law seriously, I suppose they don’t see it as important for new citizens either. Do we need another president who fails to enforce our laws—just the ones she or he likes?



The European Union is Coming Undone Over Political Correctness. Could We Just Use Common Sense Instead? by The Elephant's Child

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The news almost daily has headlines regarding the influx of refugees or migrants into Europe. They are generally referred to as Syrian refugees or Syrian migrants, but they come from a wide range of countries including many from Africa, and Asia as opposed to what we usually think of as the Middle East. We have seen pictures of massive marches of immigrants in Europe and read the tales of the problems Europe is having with their refugees, and specifically with Islamic terrorism. Paris and Brussels are only the start.

Did you know that the Obama administration has issued around 680,000 green cards to migrants from Muslim nations during the last 5 year period? If there is no change in current policy, the U.S. will admit another 680,000 over the next five years, or possibly more. During the same five years, we issued green cards to only 270,000 migrants from the European Union.

According to DHS files the largest numbers of migrants came from Iraq and Pakistan with 83,000 each, and 75,000 from Bangladesh, 45,000 from Egypt, 31,000 from Somalia, 24,000 from Uzbekistan, Turkey and Morocco had 22,000 migrants each, Jordan and Albania 20,000 each and Lebanon and Yemen each had 16,000. Indonesia (15,000), Syria (14,000), Sudan (13,000), Afghanistan (11.000). and Sierra Leone  (10,000). There were only a few thousand each from Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Kosovo and Libya.

The administration, aside from being unable to say the words ‘Islamic terrorism,’ seems to believe that terrorism doesn’t really exist— even when the Ayatollah Khomeini leads his followers in chants of ‘Death to America‘ and ‘Death to Israel‘ — that’s just P.R. to please the locals. The programs launched by the administration to reach out and protect Muslims are extensive, and the administration has agreed to a terrorist front’s demands to purge FBI’s anti-terrorism material that was thought to be ‘offensive’ to Muslims.

A closely watched case, United States v. Texas, is going to be argued before the Supreme Court on April 18, Monday. The court surprised watchers when it asked that the parties in that case address a question they did not raise in their briefs: whether President Obama’s “Deferred Action for Parents of Americans” (DAPA) order violates the “Take Care Clause” of the Constitution. (“he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed,”) That clause had never before been addressed by the Court. An interesting development for the president who has said “I have a phone and a pen,” and has not been troubled by taking the laws into his own hands.

DAPA is a set of executive branch directives giving some four million illegal aliens who have given birth to children in the United States what the orders call “legal presence” — even though they are here in violation of the law. This “legal presence” entitles DAPA beneficiaries to work permits, a picture ID, driver’s licenses, social security, Earned Income Tax credits, Medicaid, ObamaCare, and other social welfare benefits. Until the 2014 election, President Obama repeatedly and emphatically stated that he did not have authority to issue such an order without congressional action. Then he did it.

Absolute monarchs rule absolutely. What they say goes. It was a long battle in English history, and King John (1119-1216) did things his way until confronted with armed insurrection at Runnymede (1215) when he agreed to the Great Charter which established the principle that even kings are not a law unto themselves, and must act through settled law.

The framers of the U.S. Constitution took care to carefully consider what prerogative powers were suitable for an American president. Much of the Constitution is devoted to replacing prerogative powers with settled law. Henry VIII believed his royal proclamations should have the force of law —Parliament repealed the Act of Proclamations.

As our Constitution was being written, the Committee on Detail changed the words of the draft Constitution which vested a “single person” with the power to carry into execution the national laws” to read “he shall take care that the laws of the United States be duly and faithfully executed.” That changed the execution of the law from a power to a duty rather than a power, indicated by the word “shall.” A reversal would portend ever-increasing  exercise of executive powers. The question is not whether the president’s rule would make good policy, but whether the Constitution allows the president to rule statutory violations. It does not.

The State Department wants to increase the rate of bringing Syrian refugees to the United States to an average of 1,500 a month in order to meet President Obama’s target of settling 10,000 refugees in the country by September.  Why by September? That’s Obama’s target —perhaps he expects to get 10,000 of them voting by November. Who knows? We have Trump’s Yuge wall, 40 feet tall, that he claims he will make Mexico pay for, which is absurd. The 18 to 24 month time for processing admission of  refugees has reportedly been slashed  to 3 months to meet the president’s goal of 10,000 refugees this fiscal year.

Although the Muslim immigrants clearly include some ISIS members seeking entrance to the U.S, (they are certainly plentiful among European migrants), the slashing of processing time is worrying. It would seem that immediate admissions should focus on providing a safe haven for the remnants of historic Christian communities throughout the Middle East that are now targeted for extinction. Churches have been burned, priests arrested, Christians have been tortured, raped and crucified. They have nowhere to go. Present policy does not take into account their precarious situation. The State Department accepts refugees from lists prepared by the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner on Refugees which oversees the large refugee camps— but Christians do not dare enter those camps, where they are attacked and targeted by Islamists.

Playing politics with Immigration is a particularly unseemly thing to do. Instead of efforts to carefully vet Muslim immigrants, we run into accusations of “Islamophobia,” designed to stop any dissension. Religious freedom, promised by our Bill of Rights, does not aim to free those who are intending terrorist attacks. There are many tenets of the Muslim faith that are directly antithetical to the U.S. Constitution. We should be able to clearly explain those to all Muslim immigrants. We do not tolerate honor killings, we do not regard women as second-class citizens, we don’t accept wife-beating, and rape is a crime. These are serious prison offences. That is not Islamophobia — it’s just clearly setting the ground rules. There should be a clear discussion of rules that are in the Koran that are not acceptable under our Constitution. If they cannot agree to American law, perhaps they would prefer to go elsewhere.

One of the most despicable acts of President Obama has been to delete some of the requirements under the law for becoming an American citizen. That’s why Europe is in such great turmoil at present. They have no programs for assimilation, or for becoming a citizen of a particular country. European nations have always been tribal, with  differing languages, customs and rules. After centuries of constant and deadly wars they thought to end them by opening borders and sharing finances and laws. It hasn’t worked. An unelected and unrepresentative bureaucracy merely substitutes for the absolute monarchs that once ruled Europe, and the people are not quite at the armed insurrection stage, but it’s not all peaches and cream either. Political correctness dictates acceptance of poor refugees, common sense dictates something else.

Emma Lazarus’s “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore—” is all very compassionate, but hardly an acceptable guide to immigration.



It’s all Falling Apart, Or Is It Just Us? by The Elephant's Child

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Everybody’s angry, we are told. The comments on most websites that discuss the news or politics have turned dark and mean and accusative.  It is a strange political year. Very accomplished Republican governors have dropped out, the people with real qualifications have given up, apparently because the public wants an ‘outsider’, because they no longer trust the ‘insiders’. So we are in the process of choosing a new president. The Democrats’ bench is thin. There are no particularly successful governors, and Democrat run states are basket cases. They have turned to an elderly socialist and an elderly former first lady with many titles and few accomplishments.

I think we misunderstand the “anger” and misplace the blame. We have entered a new age of instant, incomplete, biased, false and true information that we don’t know how to sort or how to manage. Our schools claim to be teaching “critical thinking” but mostly teach “social justice” instead —unfortunately there is no such thing.

Newspapers are dying, but proliferating online. Added to the formal gleanings from the journalism profession, ordinary people are adding their thoughts and opinions on blogs. But who can you trust, and how do you find real information?

Fact-checking websites like Politifact and Snopes have multiplied, but they don’t always get their facts right. Photographs have always been able to deceive, which is why you hate some photographs of yourself, but with Photoshop to alter them, a photograph no longer represents reliable truth. And now there is Twitter for instant connection to the latest in — what? Smart remarks or the latest in real insight? And there’s Facebook for selfies and what you had for dinner last night. And many, many more social media websites, and of course, the Kardashians.

The general impression is that everything is falling apart. America is in retreat internationally as the threats grow. We recognize the threats, but they cannot be called by name. As the terror and attacks increase, we reduce the size and capability of the world’s finest military to its state before World War II. The administration lies. The Media lies. The Constitution is deliberately ignored.

Police are attacked as they attempt to protect the people, cities declare themselves “sanctuary cities” and refuse to obey federal law.  The president releases convicted criminals because convicting people for selling dangerous addictive drugs that ruin lives is racist. Landlords cannot refuse to rent to convicted criminals.

The feminist drive to eliminate gender proceeds and there is no longer sanctuary even in the bathroom. Political correctness is judged more important than accuracy and government is more the problem than any solution. The administration expects to fix human nature by more closely regulating the people, and giving themselves more power.  We know that’s not going to work, but what will?



Obama is Frustrated by The Separation of Powers by The Elephant's Child

It’s called the U.S. Constitution, and it’s the envy of the world. That old document that the Left finds so annoying. Nearly eight years in office, an oath twice taken:

I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute
the office of the President of the United States,and will
to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend
the Constitution  of the United States.

And he still doesn’t get it.



Can We Take the Matter of Terrorism Seriously? by The Elephant's Child

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From the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday:

Tuesday’s coordinated terrorist attacks in Brussels have left at least 30 people dead and more than 200 wounded, shut down the capital of Europe and raised security alarms from Frankfurt to London to New York. (See above.) So maybe it’s time we all get over our inordinate fear of Islamist terrorism.

Believe it or not, that’s the not-so-subliminal message we keep hearing from President Obama, even as he condemned the attacks during his visit to Cuba. “Obama frequently reminds his staff that terrorism takes far fewer lives in America than handguns, car accidents and falls in bathtubs do,” reports Jeffrey Goldberg in a lengthy profile of the President’s national-security thinking in the Atlantic magazine. Islamic State, Mr. Obama is quoted as telling adviser Valerie Jarrett, is “not coming here to chop our heads off.”

I suppose it’s tempting to try to minimize the fear of terrorist action, when your foreign policy is entirely guided by your erroneous belief that you have saved America from the misguided efforts of the hated George W. Bush in Iraq, when you promised to end the war, and keep congratulating yourself for so doing, completely ignoring the results of that misguided pullout. But there is something particularly ugly about comparing the death count from falls in the bathtub to what the victims of terrorism and their families face.  Unusually callous.

At Commentary, Max Boot treats the subject with the seriousness it deserves:

As we struggle for an answer to the threat posed by ISIS, it’s worth remembering how the U.S. and Israel in the past defeated suicidal terrorist groups. There is, of course, no simple answer, no magical solution, but the essence comes down to the realization that the threat comes not from demented individuals but from a network run by savvy organizers who are not themselves suicidal. (You don’t see the leaders of groups like ISIS or Hamas wearing suicide vests; it’s rare to even see their children engaging in such acts.) Suicide bombers have to be manufactured. Making the actual explosives is the least of the problems, although that requires significant expertise, too. The real issue is indoctrinating young men (and sometimes young women) to perform the unnatural — and, in Islam, forbidden — act of committing suicide and in the process taking the lives of innocents.

It can take months to recruit and train would-be suicide bombers and then additional weeks and months to locate a target, figure out the optimal time for an attack, and then put the bomber in a position to inflict maximal damage. If a counter-terrorist force can disrupt the —network that makes the suicide bombing possible, then not even the willingness of individuals to kill themselves will suffice to create the kind of mass-casualty attacks that terrorists crave. At most, disorganized terrorists can carry off the kind of small-scale knifings that unfortunately have become all too regular an occurrence in Israel today.  (Do read the whole thing)

We need to start talking about Islam honestly. Many Muslims believe that Islam is a “Religion of Peace,” and treat it in that way.  Osama bin Laden and his followers believed that the rise of the Western world occurred because Allah had turned his face away from Muslims because they were not following the rules of the Koran as the Prophet had taught them, and it was necessary to return to the purity of Islam as taught in the 6th Century.

In America and in Europe, Religion has changed from the days of the Inquisition, the burning of witches. We had more than our share of religious wars — but we also had the Reformation. America had plenty of religious battles in the very early years, but when the Founders wrote the Bill of Rights, they wrote”Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. or prohibiting the free exercise therof, ” which has caused enough problems in its clear simplicity. Americans, excepting parts of the Left, are quite protective of the freedom of religion, and thus very conscious of restrictions on religion as applied to Islam. And the new epithet has become “Islamophobia” to go along with the more usual “racist.”

I see no reason why we should not welcome Muslim immigrants, but they should recognize that some of the customs and rules of the Koran are against the laws of this country. Honor killings will get you sent to the penitentiary, wife-beating is assault, and our culture is far more open to women’s education and accomplishments than is usual in many Muslim countries. It is not discrimination to talk about such things. but just clear and honest.

Terror is supposed to frighten us into submission. That’s why they do it. A little straight talk and a lot less political correctness would seem to be in order.




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