American Elephants


Obama’s Very Bad, No Good, Terrible Week. by The Elephant's Child

A federal judge ruled Tuesday the Obama administration may not use executive privilege to keep requested documents regarding Operation Fast and Furious from Congress, and ordered the administration to turn them over. Makes you wonder how many attorneys are professionally involved in Freedom of Information Act  (FOIA)  litigation full time.

Since he lost his congressional majority, unlike most previous presidents, Mr. Obama has attempted to govern entirely by executive authority, just ignoring any laws or regulations or constitutional requirements might get in his way. He may get his way on some issues, but he is enraging the country.

“The Department of Justice (DOJ) has already revealed the sum and substance of the very material it is now seeking to withhold,” District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson wrote. “Since any harm that would flow from the disclosures sought here would be merely incremental, the records must be produced.”

The administration has been fighting over records related to the operation that ended up killing a Border Patrol officer for years. The House voted in 2012 to hold former Attorney General Eric Holder in Contempt of Congress for withholding the records. A federal judge ordered the DOJ to turn over the documents sought by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in August, 2014, and rejected claims of executive privilege, and they turned over some 60,000 pages then, but still attempted to shield more.



Coming to America: What Was The Most Pleasant Surprise? by The Elephant's Child


statue-of-libertyFrom the American Enterprise Institute, because this is special:

“A little over a week ago, a Reddit user started a thread asking ‘Immigrants to America: What was the most pleasant surprise?'”

A few days ago, Jim Pethokoukis wrote here on AEIdeas about Gallup data showing Americans seem both miserable, and yet increasingly satisfied with their standard of living. The website Knowable.com highlighted 25 of the many replies to the Reddit thread, but in the spirit of appreciating the USA and putting our possible misery in proper context, we’ve picked some of our own highlights:

  •  Free public restrooms and how every establishment has air conditioning.
  • Clean streets, good luck finding a trash can in Pakistan.
  • Fireflies… I honestly thought they were mythical, like fairies, until I saw one for the first time in Virginia.
  • Showers and running hot water. I was born in the Philippines. Not having to fill buckets with water and boiling some over a stove top was such a big surprise for me.
  • Buildings and bridges are so .. .amazing, the infrastructure is good, it makes you thing “wow, mankind DID THIS!”
  • Small talks. I really didn’t expect people to just strike up a conversation with someone they’ve never met before.
  • People telling me I must be American based solely on my English skills and disregarding my ethnicity feels weird. I like it.
  • My dad was born in Trinidad. He says the first thing he ate when he came to the US was pizza. He said that it was magical, and that nothing has ever been as good as that first piece of pizza.
  • The fireworks. I had moved on the 4th of July and I was quite young. But I still remember the fireworks.
  • What surprised me was the social circles that existed in schools and in life. Back in Italy, schools didn’t have the nerds, the jocks, the skater kids, emos, or what else have you. People were all basically the same, with minor differences in interests. Most everyone played soccer, was a casual gamer, and hung out in the town square at night. That’s it. It may sound like an exaggeration, but 95% of my friends there were exactly like this. So when I came to school here, I was amazed by how the jocks would hang out at gyms and play 4 different sports after school, while the skaters headed off to find a park. It was so different. And I loved it. Because while I could fit in back in Italy, I was always much more introverted and interested in nerd stuff, and in the US I finally found people who were really like me. It was really unexpected, and you only notice it after spending a lot of time in America.
  • Moving to the Deep South, I was expecting to be met with the stereotypical racist KKK type of folks. Luckily, everyone at my school was super friendly and helpful.
  • Growing up, I was taught the Vietnamese version of the Vietnam War in school. In my mind, I thought in America people would not talk about it since it’s a shameful thing and the government would suppress all discussions of it like in Vietnam. When I came here, I saw that people can openly speak about these things even when there are many disagreements.
  • Arrived at 15 from Mexico legally. I lived in poverty  but never went hungry, thanks to the social safety nets. My parents worked hard and had a business going within a couple of years. I graduated college and became an engineer. Fast forward 24 years and I’m making a 6 figure salary and living a very good life. The American Dream is alive and well.
  • I remember that when I was getting my driver’s license in Trinidad, everyone told me to go with a few hundred dollars in my pocket. It’s very common you’ll be asked to pay a bribe.
  • The fact that no one was threatening to kill my family based off of our religious beliefs.
  • I’m the son of Korean immigrants. My dad said that Americans are probably the hardest workers in the world. He’s worked in various international companies, and he admits that Americans are the easiest to get along with because of their versatility and open-mindedness. He flat out said he prefers Americans leading projects over anyone else.
  • Space. Having separate houses with a huge backyard is a luxury that’s only for the rich in the Netherlands.
  • It was my 2nd week in America and I was nervous when I was checking out 4 books at the local public library. I love libraries and where I come from you can normally checkout 3 books. I thought this being America I could try my luck and add another book. The nice checkout girl proceeded my order, out of curiosity I asked her how many books could I checkout in one go. Her answer: 75. This to me symbolized what America stood for.
  • People with power are careful when dealing with ordinary people. “Public servants” in most third world countries are the masters and the ordinary public are the “Servants.” This is not the case in the US.
  • The most important thing I liked about US is the awareness of people to fight for their rights, respecting others views and respect for humanity. … This might be one of the reason that it is very common for people to sue each other. While [in] other countries, people will silently compromise and accept their situation as a fate…. it seems, the US expects everyone to be aware of what he/she deserves. This is probably the best form of freedom.

These are just some of the many responses that AEI featured. which they edited for grammar, and bolded the essential words.  A really nice remedy for world news events.



Can You Trust the Polls? Probably Not. Here’s Why. by The Elephant's Child

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Gallup, the most well-known brand in public opinion voting, announced on October 7, 2015 that they would no longer poll Americans on who they would vote for if the election were held today. Let others focus on predicting  voter behavior, Gallup would dig deeper into what the public thinks about current events. Reason magazine reported:

Still, Gallup’s move, which followed an embarrassingly inaccurate performance by the company in the 2012 elections, reinforces the perception that something has gone badly wrong in polling and that even the most experienced players are at a loss about how to fix it. Heading into the 2016 primary season, news consumers are facing an onslaught of polls paired with a nagging suspicion that their findings can’t be trusted. Over the last four years, pollsters’ ability to make good predictions about Election Day has seemingly deteriorated before our eyes.

The day before the 2014 midterms, all the major forecasts declared Republicans likely to take back the Senate. The Princeton Election Consortium put the odds at 64 percent; The Washington Post, most bullish of all, put them at 98 percent. But the Cook Political Report considered all nine “competitive” seats to be tossups—too close to call. And very few thought it likely that Republicans would win in a landslide.

It seems that voters told the pollsters one thing, and when they voted, they did something else. After the 2012 election there was the Israeli election, and a virtual tie was predicted, yet Netanyahu’s Likud party  won a plurality and picked up 12 more seats. Then there was the British election which they got completely wrong as well.

How much are people affected by the polls? In the midst of this campaign, polls are being reported daily, and if you don’t hear the results, Donald Trump will tell you how he is winning. We have been told (I forget the source) that for reporters campaigns are really boring, because they have to listen to the same stump speech over and over, and Mr. Trump provides real interest because you never know what he will say or do.

Is that the reason for the excessive Trump coverage and neglect of other candidates? The Reason article explores some of the obstacles to good research, and some of the ways pollsters are changing, including the use of social media, and ambient noise.  Are they including vote fraud in their calculations? There is clearly a lot more fraud than is admitted.

We can’t ignore the polls, but it’s probably wise to look at them with a somewhat jaundiced eye, and look more carefully for solid information about your candidate, so you are a more informed voter, and fare better in the arguments with your neighbor.



Here’s The Preliminary Debate Tonight Which You Probably Didn’t See by The Elephant's Child

I watched the debates tonight, and though they were extremely well handled by the Fox Business channel, I was distressed again by the “undercard,” “kiddie table,” treatment of those who weren’t measuring up in the polls. We have too many outstanding candidates. But where they rank in the polls is largely determined by the attention of the media.When the media speaks of no one but Trump, it is not surprising that he leads in the polls.

I’m not ready to choose a candidate, and I’m not at all convinced that early caucuses in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina are helpful. It’s not so bad when there are just a couple of candidates, but when there are still ten, some of the better ones may be forced to drop out, and we’re left with temporary crushes that we don’t really know enough about.

I’ve seen a number of campaigns, but I have never seen anything like the excess and adulation for Barack Obama in 2007. Anyone would have to admit that the Nobel Peace Prize for campaign speeches was wretched excess. It was a skillful campaign that revealed nothing real about the candidate at all. But the love affair has grown stale, and the promises didn’t work out. I fear that we may be facing that again.

I read a lot of news, and from the last debate to this, Carly Fiorina simply disappeared from the news. The progressive media didn’t want another woman in the news, when all Hillary had to run on was her gender. I don’t know what it is Hillary is supposed to have done for women, though she did make some speeches abroad about educating their girls. Nikki Haley, successful governor of South Carolina, gave an excellent response to the State of the Union, and the Progressive media turned it into a hit piece on Donald Trump (it wasn’t) and a hit piece on all the Republican candidates.(it wasn’t)

Carly Fiorina is a government outsider who actually has real applicable experience. (But she was fired?) Her tenure at HP was the same length as the average major corporate CEO — six years during a very difficult time for the industry, and she managed to leave the company far better off than when she took over. She essentially saved the company. She’s done really hard things — having to lay off large numbers of employees is very very hard.  I suspect she may be another Margaret Thatcher, but will we be allowed to find out?



The State of the Union Speech, More or Less, Not Particularly Accurately by The Elephant's Child

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I did not watch the State of the Union speech last night. I’m not up for the hectoring, lecturing tone of Mr. Obama’s speeches. He long ago forgot the idea that he works for us — if he ever recognized it. I did, however, print out the prepared speech from the White House website under the assumption that it might offer a clue to what is coming for the coming year. I did, it does, and it’s not encouraging, but easily summed up as more of the same.

I wrote a fairly lengthy piece about it, and when I was nearly done — it vanished. Dunno what happened, it wasn’t in the trash, help from WordPress on how to recover lost posts didn’t help — just gone. Probably all for the best. Critical pieces abound, and mine will not be missed.

Mr. Obama is a Progressive, and lives, as I recently said, in an alternate reality. He finds America unsatisfactory and wants us to stop meddling in the world and turn the funds to making more people completely dependent on governmental largess, well, taxpayer largess, and take from the rich who are undeserving and give to those who are deserving. Social Justice and all that. American businesses and American people need more regulation, so they will behave better.  The federal government, which is much better at regulating things, will tell businesses how to operate, raise the minimum wage, reduce obscene executive pay, give workers more time off and more say in their working conditions, and create more job training programs for those who can’t find a job.

Obama will empty Guantanamo, sending detainees back home with the insistence that they must behave better. He will continue releasing non-violent felons who are only drug dealers (dealers, not users) but arrested with illegal weapons, into free society, with the insistence that they must behave better. No one will be allowed to ask about a criminal record, so they will be able to get good jobs, become good citizens and vote Democrat in gratitude. The crime rate has been going down dramatically for a number of years, but Progressives do not understand the relationship between more crooks in prison, and a reduction in crime. Too complicated.

Obama will promote equal pay for equal work — which has been the law since 1963, but is ignored in the White House and in Hillary’s campaign.

Everybody needs a college education, so we will have to fork over for  college tuition and room and board for everyone.

“We have the spirit of discovery in our DNA,” he said, because we built the space program, so now we need a new moonshot — America can cure Cancer. He is putting Joe Biden  in charge of mission control. (not a joke)

America, which meddles too much, is the most powerful nation on earth. “No nation dares to attack us or our allies because they know that’s the path to ruin. Surveys show our standing around the world is higher than when I was elected to this office.” A little awkward when Iran just grabbed 10 of our sailors, two Navy small craft with all of their equipment, photographed them all in a humiliating kneeling position with hands over their heads in direct conflict with Article 13 of the Geneva Convention, and forced the female sailor to don a hijab. Humiliating for the administration. Great propaganda for the Mullahs, who will use the pictures to show how Iran humiliated the Great Satan.

Secretary of State Kerry groveled abjectly, apologized, did his doormat act, and the Iranians released the sailors — whether with their 2 ships and equipment, I don’t know.

Obama said “That’s why we built a global coalition, with sanctions and principled diplomacy, to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran. As we speak, Ian has rolled back its nuclear program, shipped out its uranium stockpile, and the world has avoided another war.” See how simple it all is?

This was dashed off a little more quickly than the previous lost and unrecoverable piece, so I may have missed some of the excitement. Sorry about that!



Leftist Ideas of “Social Justice” Will Never End Illegal Immigration by The Elephant's Child

Here’s Heather MacDonald, explaining mass illegal immigration and its effect on American society. Sweden was recently the most welcoming nation for Syrian refugees, after becoming the rape capitol of the world, Sweden has moved to limit refugee migration severely. Everybody wants to be ‘nice,’ they sympathize with the justifiable fear of refugees, but they were unprepared for the clash of cultures between 21st century European social democracy and Fifth Century totalitarianism.

Heather begins with the conundrum of Kate Steinle and her murder in a Sanctuary City by a five times deported illegal alien felon. Nice and Compassion, and Empathy have become guideposts for the Left, but they don’t fit well into the real world. What is to be done? When and where do you say Enough? It’s not an easy question and the answers are not easy either. Heather MacDonald is a certified expert in crime and policing, law and punishment, and borders and immigration. Pull up a chair and give a listen.



The Great Big Wall, Revisited. by The Elephant's Child

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A lot of Americans are concerned about immigration, particularly illegal immigration. Donald Trump has made immigration central to his campaign, with his talk of building “a great big wall” and deporting everybody. He will make Mexico pay for it, and after he has deported all the illegals, he’ll put in a great big door and let the good ones back in. This is bombast, not a solution to anything. But Trump is speaking to public anger, and garnering the needed media attention. The Left attempts to portray concern about illegal immigration as nativism, or lack of concern for the unfortunate, or just plain mean, but that’s just what they always do.

Illegal immigrants welcomed with welfare and food stamps and public housing instead of being deported, doesn’t seem quite right to taxpayers. Sanctuary cities that prevent illegal immigrants from being deported don’t seem right either. When Katy Steinle is murdered senselessly in a sanctuary city, by illegal alien Juan Francisco Lopez Sanchez, with seven felony convictions, who has been deported 5 times, which means he has entered the country illegally at least 6 times — Americans really don’t like it.

When the numbers of Americans no longer looking for work reach incredible heights, and the Chamber of Commerce is simultaneously demanding more visas for foreign workers, something doesn’t seem right. Then there were the videos of trains from Mexico with children and adults, members of Mara Salvatrucha with their tattoos, crowded on top of the railway cars, admitted and scattered all over the country to wreak havoc with school districts and local welfare services. We were told they were required to report back to Customs and Immigration for hearings, but that never happened either. Some said the Democrats just wanted more Democrat voters.

The American people have been pretty clear about what they want. They want the immigration laws enforced, and Obama’s waivers and executive orders and executive notes and never minds halted. We have laws and open borders isn’t in them. We don’t care for presidents deciding which laws will be enforced and which will not. There is this thing called the oath of office, which we believe it is not only wrong, but immoral to ignore.

Congress has developed some bad habits. They want to solve problems with big comprehensive bills that cover everything and get the problems out of the way. And that is the way they intend to solve immigration. The people want the borders closed, and our current laws fully enforced — then we’ll talk about the next step.

We are regularly told that we must have amnesty for the 11 million illegal aliens among us; that they cannot be deported because there are 11 million of them. The Heritage Foundation exposed the dirty secret in a post at their Daily Signal. We have no idea how many illegals there are in the country. We have no idea how many have overstayed their visas. We have no idea how many are not citizens. We don’t have meaningful exit controls. The 11 million number is a guess, and it’s been the same number for over a decade. Congress just wants to get rid of the problem. A big fix, and if it doesn’t work, another big fix down the road, and so on and so on.

ADDENDUM: I must emphasize that I do not believe that Americans are anti-immigrant. They are anti-illegal immigrant. We are a nation of laws and we expect the laws to be enforced. It is unconscionable that we have millions of people who have gone through the legal process of wanting to immigrate, and have to wait 10 or 20 years, while illegals just pop over the border or overstay their visas.




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