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.



About That “Smooth Presidential Transition”… by The Elephant's Child

To quote Andrew Malcolm:

Since Obama vowed to run a smooth presidential transition, what’s the real point of picking a tardy diplomatic scuffle with Putin? What’s the real point of setting Israel (and the annoying Netanyahu) adrift at the United Nations now?

Why issue all these offshore drilling bans and new federal regulations? Why commute more federal prison sentences than a dozen past presidents combined? Why keep releasing Guantanamo terrorists when so many return to their homicidal careers?

Might it be to plant political IEDs for his annoying successor, as Democrats seek to restore their party? For the first time in nearly a century a former president decided to reside in Washington. Obama has rented a mansion and office space where he’ll be easily accessible to media friends for, say, kibitzing his successor – unlike Obama’s predecessor, who went silent for more than a year.

•”California state lawmakers (Democratic operatives) have hired former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to file lawsuits against the Trump administration to hold it in check, much in the same way Republican attorneys general did to President Obama.”

•”The latest numbers from the U.S. Treasury say that United State’s federal debt has risen by a trillion dollars in President Obama’s final year in office, while Republican controlled both the House and Senate.

The debt at the end of 2016 was $19,976,826,951,047.80, a one-year increase of $1,054,647,941,626.91.”

•”Taxpayers footed the bill for $96 million in mostly personal travel expenses for President Obama and his family over the eight years Obama has occupied the White House, according to a new report from Judicial Watch announced Thursday.

The president’s high-priced trips included the family’s annual vacation to Hawaii, which cost an estimated $3.5 million in flight expenses alone, a $222,000 ski trip to Aspen for Michelle Obama and her daughters, and $450,000 in flight expenses for the family vacation to Martha’s Vineyard, the Washington Examiner reported.”

•”President Obama’s lame duck administration poured on thousands more new regulations in 2016 at a rate of 18 for every new law passed, according to a Friday analysis of his team’s expansion of federal authority.

While Congress passed just 211 laws, Obama’s team issued an accompanying 3,852 new federal regulations, some costing billions of dollars.”

• “Economy-Crippling Executive Actions: With less than a month left in his presidency, Obama has launched an initiative to wipe out coal mining and handicap offshore drilling for oil and natural gas.First, he ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to proceed with its controversial Stream Protection Rule. By one estimate, that would make mining so difficult it would make 85 percent of the nation’s coal reserves unrecoverable.

Then, on Tuesday, the president designated most government-owned areas in the Arctic Ocean and a large swath off the Atlantic Coast closed to drilling. That would prevent production of huge reserves of oil and gas.”

• “Record Wave of Pardons and Commutations: President Obama on Monday pardoned 78 people and granted another 153 commutations, amounting to the most acts of clemency granted by a U.S. president ever in a single day.”

•”Ramped-up Refugee Resettlements:President Barack Obama is speeding up the “refugee” resettlement process before he turns over the White House keys to his successor, President-elect Donald Trump – in an effort to boost the numbers so high that it is now projected that they will exceed his target of 110,000 for this fiscal year by nearly 600.

According to the Refugee Processing Center, the Obama administration has already welcomed 23,248 individuals to the United States as “refugees” through the first 11 weeks of the 2017 fiscal year – almost doubling the 13,786 who were accepted for the same period in 2016.”

• “Adding a final shameful chapter to a foreign-policy record that already runneth over with them, Barack Obama on Friday abandoned America’s commitment to Israel’s security, and to the vindication of democracy over sharia-supremacist aggression. In an act of cowardly venom, the president had the United States abstain from — and thereby effectively enact — a United Nations Security Council resolution that condemns Israeli settlement activity. At least, that’s what the resolution ostensibly does. The reality is much more than that. The resolution undertakes to render our ally indefensible.”



Donald Trump’s Generals: The Most Renowned Wartime Commanders of Their Generation by The Elephant's Child

A blog called “Breaking Defense” has written well on Trump’s Generals. The Left, constantly looking for something horrible in Trump’s plans, finds the naming of so many retired military men to top positions will possibly undermine the principal of civilian control—as if Constitutional niceties are of enormous concern to the  Left—who have been ignoring that ancient document at their convenience for the last eight years. I’m getting really tired of the Left and their antics.

Donald Trump’s decision to lean heavily on generals in building his national security team has been received with sighs of relief by many foreign policy and national security experts. By the nature of their profession, senior military leaders tend to be pragmatic internationalists who know how to run large organizations. They understand from experience how the world works. They are generally disciplined and well-read. Having come of age on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq, these generals are also intimately familiar with the horrors of war, and the second- and third-order consequences of firing the first shot. …

Indeed, the generals likely to form the top ranks of a Trump administration are among the most renowned wartime commanders of their generation. As the presumptive Secretary of Defense, retired Marine Corps General Jim “Mad Dog” Mattis will have as his chief military adviser Marine Corps General Joseph “Fighting Joe” Dunford, appointed by Obama as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Both flag officers earned their nicknames the old fashioned way during multiple combat tours. They are also close to retired Marine Corps General John Kelly, another combat veteran and the former commander of US Southern Command, who will reportedly serve as Trump’s Secretary of Homeland Security. According to a knowledgeable source, it was Mattis who took upon himself the heartbreaking task of telling John Kelly that his son, 1st Lieutenant Robert Michael Kelly, had been killed in Afghanistan in 2010.

Trump’s Generals, Part 2: Jim Mattis vs. Iran

Trump’s Generals, Part 3: Mike Flynn vs. Al Qaeda

Trump’s Generals, Part4: John Kelly vs. The Narco-Terrorists

Like many Republicans, when President Elect Trump announced his first nominees for cabinet positions, I was reassured that Mr. Trump knew what he was doing and was getting excellent advice. After 8 years of an administration that assured us that they were completely in control of foreign policy, but could not manage to call the enemy by name or even admit that it was an enemy (junior varsity?) I was delighted. It’s a pretty impressive national security lineup. Get acquainted.



The Electoral College Votes Donald Trump 45th President of the United States by The Elephant's Child

Sorry, Democrats—Donald Trump is the President-Elect. The Electoral College has voted, and your death threats, protests and total unfamiliarity with the Constitution have gone for naught. It got a little odd here and there, one woman in Wisconsin screamed at electors “You don’t Deserve to Be in America”, and “This is My America” as the Police dragged her out.

Here in Washington State, although Hillary Clinton won the state, 4 faithless electors voted 3 for Colin Powell and one for Faith Spotted Eagle. (?) The electoral College ended up 304 for Donald Trump and 227 for Hillary Clinton. Mr. Trump actually gained votes in Jill Stein’s recount. Hillary got the defectors. (numbers corrected)

Michael Barone, a long-time close observer of the political campaign business, said that this year the rules seemed to change. As technology is changing our lives in unexpected ways, it is also changing the political scene.

  1. Money doesn’t seem to matter so much. The Trump campaign spent somewhat more than half as much as the Hillary campaign, but won nearly half again as many electoral votes.
  2. TV spots don’t matter as much any more. A tweet gets more attention and a YouTube video gets more votes than a $10 million ad buy.
  3. Celebrities don’t matter. Lady Gaga and Beyonce did concerts for Hillary. Monmouth County NJ voted for Trump.
  4. Outrageous statements don’t matter. Voters were looking for change.
  5. Polling and big data don’t automatically advise the right moves.
  6. Understanding how the opposition thinks is enormously important. The Trump campaign got Hillary, but the reverse was not true. Hillary’s campaign people blamed their defeat on racism, Comey and the Russians.

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The Big Donors Want Answers! What Happened? by The Elephant's Child

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton waits to be introduced during a campaign event at Western Technical College in La Crosse, Wis., Tuesday, March 29, 2016. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Hillary has wanted to be the first woman president forever. She wanted to be the co-president with Bill in 1993. She thought they would have a two-for-one deal, but the American people reminded them that she was not elected. So it has been an enormous loss for her, both in 2012 and now. I could almost feel sorry for her.

Donors, most importantly, want to know where Clinton spent the nearly $1.5 billion in campaign resources she collected in the closing months. They especially want introspection, or what they’re calling a “dispassionate, centralized analysis,” of how Clinton failed to read the mood in swing states, and how her Brooklyn-centric  operation so badly misread polling data.

From what I have read, the big change in polling came about with “the Deplorables” comment. Whatever you want to say about Bill Clinton, he has excellent political instincts, but he was essentially banned from the campaign. Hillary was, quite frankly, a lousy candidate. She is not particularly likeable, as many have said. And for someone who aspired to the highest office in the land, she did not build up her qualifications. As Carly Fiorina said “titles are not qualifications.” The only bill she introduced in the Senate was to name a post office. And as Secretary of State, her accomplishment was frequent-flyer miles. She denied help to her ambassador to Libya who begged over and over for additional help because the post in Benghazi was so dangerous, and we all know how that turned out.

Had she studied up on the situation in Libya, she would have known that Ghadaffi had given up any interest in nuclear weapons after the demise of Saddam Hussein, and was considered as a dictator who was keeping the lid on in a violent country. She urged his overthrow, and celebrated his demise with a public cackled “We came, we saw, he died.” and laughed about it.

She is a compulsive liar, and everyone knew it, though that doesn’t matter to Democrats. She lies about silly things to enhance herself, that are clearly false, like being named after Sir Edmund Hillary, who hadn’t climbed any mountain until long after she was named. The account of arriving in Bosnia under sniper fire, was shot down by videos of the welcoming party with children with flowers.

The big campaign donors are not buying her Russia excuse or the Comey excuse either. They want to know what went  wrong. They were promised a big victory and look what happened!

But in the weeks since, the wealthy Democrats who helped pump over $1 billion into Clinton’s losing effort have been urging their local finance staffers, state party officials, and campaign aides to provide a more thorough explanation of what went wrong. With no dispassionate, centralized analysis of how Clinton failed so spectacularly, they insist, how can they be expected to keep contributing to the party?…

Absent a single campaign infrastructure those donors can use to do that, a handful of Democrats have looked to step in and provide a centralized outlet for donor planning. One is Clinton ally David Brock, who is planning a retreat for top party finance players in Aventura, Florida, over the Thursday-to-Saturday of Trump’s inauguration week….

Among the gathering’s planned sessions: “Learning from 2016: Strategy, Policy, and Building a lasting winning Coalition,” “Campaign Tactics of the future: Polling, Social Media, and Targeting,” “The New Face of the Right,” “Holding Trump Accountable,” and “Ethics Watchdog on Steroids.”

It was fairly obvious. Hillary had no message. She criticized Trump, She was going to do the same thing Obama has done. To a lot of voters—that was no recommendation. She said in a paid speech with Brazilian bankers that her dream was open trade and  open borders with a continental open market. Obama kept bragging about all the jobs he had created, but ordinary folks just saw the increasing numbers of people who had given up looking. The small businesses they liked had closed their doors, and immigrants had taken all of the construction jobs. Union leaders backed Hillary, and assumed their workers would follow suit. They didn’t. And besides, the American people just didn’t like being called “Deplorables.”

In a new poll, more than two-thirds of registered voters oppose any attempt by President Obama to pardon Hillary Clinton before he leaves office next month. This was a Fox news poll, and Obama blames  Fox News for all of his troubles.



More Nominees For the Trump Administration by The Elephant's Child

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Donald Trump has nominated Rex Tillerson, the CEO of ExxonMobil, as Secretary of State to wide praise from Republicans. He has broad  and remarkable international experience, a deep understanding of the global economy and personal relations with many state leaders throughout the world. Imagine, a Secretary of State who knows what he’s doing and understands the geopolitics.

President-elect Donald Trump wants Goldman Sachs president & COO Gary Cohn as the Director of his National Economic Council. Trump says that Cohn will put his talents as a highly successful businessman to work for the American people, growing wages for workers and stopping American jobs from going overseas.
Cohn said: “I share President-elect Trump’s vision of making sure every American worker has a secure place in a thriving economy, and we will be completely committed to building a nation of strength, growth and prosperity.”

President Obama felt that having served on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was enough prior knowledge of world governments and geopolitics, so we got Hillary Clinton whose accomplishment was the air miles she racked up, and John Kerry.

Steven Mnuchin has been nominated as Secretary of the Treasury. He was Trump’s campaign finance director, and obviously highly successful in that job. Hillary raised and spent $1.2 billion, and Trump, in contrast, spent $616.5 million, and had $31.5 million left over. He is a former Goldman Sachs investment banker who has become a trusted financial advisor.

Ryan Zinke named as Interior Secretary is a first term congressman from Montana who will lead Mr. Trump’s efforts to open federal lands and water to fossil-fuel development and reverse many of the Obama administration nonsensical regulations.

Rick Perry who has been named as Secretary of Energy is the former governor of Texas. He served for nearly 15 years in the country’s biggest energy producing state. His record as governor was outstanding.

Andy Puzder has been named as Secretary of Labor. He is CEO of CKE Restaurant Holdings, parent company of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, and has been a vocal advocate of cutting back the regulations that have stunted growth in the restaurant industry, and he has argued against raising the minimum wage higher than $9 an hour, and criticized the Affordable Care Act.

Wilbur Ross has been named as Commerce Secretary. He is a top economic adviser to Mr. Trump. He is chairman and chief  strategist of W.L.Ross & Co. a private equity firm and has extensive experience in corporate restructurings.

John Kelly,  has been named as Secretary of Homeland Security. He is a retired four star Marine General who directly supervised U.S. Operations in Central and South America as chief of Southern Command. His post involved monitoring drug trafficking and other smuggling activity around our southern border.

Linda McMahon has been named as Administrator of the Small Business Administration. She is the co-founder of World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. and was an unsuccessful Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Connecticut, but very successful in building a business.

Elaine Chao has been named as Transportation Secretary. She was the first American woman of Asian descent to be appointed to the cabinet when she served as a very successful secretary of labor in the administration of George W. Bush. She is married to Majority Leader of the Senate Mitch McConnell.

Mike Pompeo has been named as Director of the CIA. He is a West Point graduate, first elected to the House of Representatives in 2010 as part of the tea-party movement. He is a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee and the Intelligence Committee, and was a member of the special committee investigating the 2012 attacks on the diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.

Michael Flynn has been nominated as National Security Adviser. He is a retired Army General who had served in top roles across the military as director of intelligence for the Joint Chiefs of Staff and intelligence adviser to Gen..Stanley McChrystal in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Donald McGahn has been named as White House Counsel. He was the president-elect’s campaign lawyer and is a former member of the Federal Elections Commission. He is currently a partner at Jones Day in Washington D.C. where he has specialized on political law issues.

The Left, unsurprisingly, is having hissy-fits. Three Generals? During the campaign Trump was called “Hitler,” one of their usual epithets. Now its “Authoritarian.” From Bill McGurn at the Wall Street Journal:  (Talking Points)

From the New Republic: “Donald Trump Is Already Acting Like an Authoritarian.” National Public Radio: “Donald Trump: Strong Leader or Dangerous Authoritarian?” The New York Times: “Beyond Lying: Donald Trump’s Authoritarian Reality.” The New Yorker: “Trump’s Challenge to American Democracy.”

What’s striking here is that the same folks who see in Mr. Trump a Mussolini in waiting are blind to the soft despotism that has already taken root in our government. This is the unelected and increasingly assertive class that populates our federal bureaucracies and substitutes rule by regulation for the rule of law. The result? Over the Obama years, the Competitive Enterprise Institute reckons, Washington has averaged 35 regulations for every law.

The Left finds fault with any nominee who has not served in government as somehow not qualified. That pretty clearly demonstrates the mindset. The Left are proponents of big government, the better to regulate you with. They believe firmly in their own anointed superiority, and usually, never have worked in private business, and thus know how the deplorables out there should go about their lives.

Three Generals? Will they lead us to war? Oh please! Nobody hates war more than those who have experienced it. No experience in Government—that is a positive qualification.

Trump’s array of economic advisors are divided between those who believe in carrots and those who believe in sticks. One group rejects mainstream economic thinking and believes in eliminating trade deficits, and views taxes on companies that move jobs abroad as necessary sticks  to reduce a 15 year slide in income for middle class Americans. The opposing camp champions supply-side economics and believe in slashing red tape and taxes to make the U.S. a top destination for business is a worthwhile carrot. Then there’s a third group who aren’t particularly ideological. (I‘m an ideological  supply-sider)

Mr Trump’s supporters are probably equally divided. A lot of us want the EPA abolished. Is the Energy Department necessary? Is the Education Department needed? I suspect that it is unlikely that any agency will be eliminated, for all have their proponents, and for the Left—they are essential. Getting rid of a department approaches the impossible.

Trump has advocated eliminating Education. Each department has its own culture, many are long-standing and deeply entrenched.  Eliminating departments will take a back seat to Mr. Trump’s goal of growing the economy and putting America back to work. There will be more silly attacks from the Left, but the Right has not been this strong for 80 years. Progressives just haven’t figured that out yet.

Expect some bitter confirmation battles. They are outraged with the appointment of Scott Pruitt to the EPA, he is not only an attorney who has taken the EPA to court (on a lawsuit filed by 27 states against the EPA. Rex Tillerson (a businessman, an oil man? ), the Generals, and Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education who is a champion of charter schools and opposes Common Core. Major fight!  This is a group selected for their expertise and their ability to take on a fight to make a difference for the country. I’m impressed.




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