American Elephants


Just an Ordinary Wednesday, Like All Wednesdays by The Elephant's Child

Wednesday, an ordinary middle of the week day. Not Spring yet, though there are a few lonely daffodils peeking out here and there. A terrorist attack in London at the Houses of Parliament, Three killed, many injured, terrorist killed. ISIS celebrates. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Nunes reports that Trumps’ personal communications may have been collected by intelligence agencies, details widely disseminated. Hackers claim to have breached 300 million APPLE accounts, Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan warned the European Union that if the diplomatic spat continues, Europeans won’t be able to walk their own streets safely anywhere in the world. The Turks threaten to send 15,000 migrants a month to Europe. Other than some horrendous rapes of underage children, it was just an ordinary almost Spring Wednesday. Sheesch!



The Federal Government Is Not Your Friend, And They Have Interests of Their Own by The Elephant's Child

Most Americans believe that the federal government does a poor job and wastes most of the taxpayers’ hard earned money. Waste, fraud and abuse are rampant. We hear stories of employees spending their days watching porn. Agencies spend millions on beautifying their offices, and rush to spend every last cent of their budget so they can pretend they need more for the next year. There are some things that can only be done by a federal government, but most things are far better done by the private sector.

There are specific reasons why this is so. For a business to exist, it must turn a profit. If there is no reward for operating a business, it will cease to exist. Businesses do not operate to provide jobs or to do good works. They operate to make a profit. It is astonishing how many people do not understand this. Competition forces business to be efficient, to offer good products that people want, to deliver on time, make products that last, or offer services that do what they are supposed to do. Leftists are always sure that competition is bad, and what is needed are lots of rules and regulations, which only serve to make a mess of the situation.

Government regulators seldom have a good understanding of how a business works, and the regulations they devise do more harm than good. For example: Regulators, concerned about fat people, decide that all restaurants must display the caloric content of all the ingredients in their food. For pizza places the number of ingredients is enormous, the signage, often on a large lighted panel over the counter doesn’t have much room, customers are aware that some pizzas are high calorie and fattening. They don’t care—they want pizza. The cost to restaurants with low profit margins is enormous in changing all their signage. The result of the regulation is unmeasurable, and probably didn’t change anyone’s dinner preferences.

The free market does an excellent job in controlling business, without interference from bureaucratic busybodies. Very few members of Congress have much experience in running a business, and few of Washington bureaucrats do either. The marketplace offers all sorts of information and lessons, often information that you cannot obtain elsewhere. Incentives matter. The incentives that drive government workers and their managers are not the same as those faced by the businesses to be regulated, and are often counter to the public interest in any case.

Here’s an excellent article that surveys the government bureaucracy and how we should or should not respond. And a valuable lesson in why government does such a poor job of the tasks that are assigned to them. It’s a guide worth keeping with lots of resources. But then you don’t know until the government gets you on their “to do” list just what you’re in for, and where to go for help.



We Have Separate Conversations Going On Here, And We Don’t Seem to Speak the Same Language by The Elephant's Child

Early today I watched a video of the first press briefing for the State Department under new Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, for the Trump administration. It was over an hour long, conducted by Mark Toner who has been in the job for a number of years, is very competent, and knows most of the journalists present. I’ve seen excerpts of these things before, but this was the first time I have watched the whole thing.

I found it somewhat astonishing, for the liberal journalists trouble in grasping the distinctions among immigrants, illegal immigrants, refugees and the countries involved. They were really having a hard time understanding why some refugees should be turned away at the border, for example—why would we not allow refugees from Iran who didn’t like the government there. Certainly not all Iranians liked the government, why wouldn’t we accept those people? They clearly just didn’t grasp that we cannot tell or vet those who come from a nation that wants to destroy us, nor can we tell who is a jihadi and who is not.

I’ve been mulling over these language distinctions for some time. for it seems that Journalists just don’t grasp that when the Ayatollah Khomeini leads his people in chants of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel”— that is exactly what he really means, and what his government is working for. That there isn’t really any way to tell the good people from the jihadis, and the next terrorist attack may hit their D.C. neighborhood. They are involved with the news, but they don’t grasp the nature of the world.

Rex Tillerson has said that we have been paying the UN for years to monitor and control North Korea’s experimentation with nuclear weapons and it has not worked at all, so perhaps it is time to try something different. I would add that when Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un had his older step-brother executed in another country, and just recently executed five of his supporters who offended him with anti-aircraft cannons, that something different is probably what is needed. I just don’t get the feeling that these journalists get it, and they are still out wandering around in issues of diversity and social justice. But perhaps I am unjust.

A very large issue is the one of religion. Two federal District Judges, one from Seattle and one from Hawaii, have issued stays on President Trump’s Executive Orders, which issued a 90 day ban on immigration from seven countries selected by the Obama administration because immigrants or refugees from those countries cannot be vetted adequately. Why would we have any special concern for Christian refugees?

The First Amendment to the Constitution says Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof… That seem so straightforward and clear. Congress cannot make any laws that establish a state religion. ( No Church of England here) Yet that First Amendment has caused an amazing amount of trouble as people try to overthink and over dissect the words. If a Christian cross is displayed on federal land is that “establishing a religion?” Do the Little Sisters of the Poor have to support abortion for their workers in spite of the fact that their religion prohibits abortion?

So the question becomes—what happens if the religion in question wants to destroy the United States of America because our existence conflicts with their religion. Do al-Qaeda and ISIS represent the Islamic religion, or are they something separate? Do they get to try to destroy us because they don’t believe in our Constitution or religions, and we have to refrain from fighting them because of freedom of religion? When you spell out the questions that arise, it clarifies things, but a full discussion becomes ever more necessary. And the questions that arise are litigated and re-litigated.

The Federal District Judge in Seattle and the Federal District Judge in Hawaii are dragging in casual remarks from the difficult election campaign as if that had anything to do with the President’s Executive Order. They can’t do that. The only thing they have to consider are the exact words of the Executive Order. They cannot drag in extraneous things. Federal Judges get a lifetime appointment and cannot be removed by Congress, though they can be impeached for “high crimes and misdemeanors.” So this will all have to go to the Supreme Court.

Our Founders were a lot closer to the European Wars of Religion 1524-1646, following the Protestant Reformation. That ended with the Peace of Westphalia, which recognized three separate Christian traditions in the Holy Roman empire: Roman Catholicism, Lutheranism and Calvinism.That was followed by the British Civil Wars or The Wars of the Three Kingdoms: England, Scotland and Ireland. The Reformation of the Church of England, begot Presbyterianism, Congregationalism, and the breakdown of state-controlled religious conformity bred an explosion of radical denominations: Ranters, Baptists, Diggers, Levelers and Quakers. The New England colonies were settled by Puritans, Pennsylvania by Quakers, the Carolinas by Presbyterians, and Virginia by the Church of England, and they changed as they were established in America. All fascinating, but necessary to understand at least a little, when we get into simple questions about freedom of religion.

To circle back to where I started, I got no feeling that the reporters at the State Department briefing had any understanding of the real nature of the religious questions involved. Religion is those backwoods people clinging to their Bibles and guns, or something like that. It undoubtedly plays a major part in our current problems with the mainstream media. Our conversations are not about real things, but about social justice, race, diversity, pronouns, race, safe spaces and snowflakes. We’ve got some very real problems out there and they remain essentially unrecognized.

 



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.”



A Spy Mystery? A Political Coup Attempt? A Court of Fools? What On Earth Is Going On Here? by The Elephant's Child

proof-that-compulsive-liar-nancy-pelosi-democrats-met-with-russian-ambassador-kislyak

Well this is indeed interesting. Following up on the claims of contacts with the Russian ambassador, or Russians in general by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and/or the Trump campaign—which were quickly exposed as silly, since it was the Obama State Department that arranged the meeting with the ambassador, and it turns out that all 100 of the senators met with the Russian ambassador. Clearly evil. Then Democrat leaders who were expressing their dismay at Sessions contacts with the Russian ambassador were not only shown to have met with Russians, but pictures quickly appeared showing Vladimir Putin and Chuck Schumer together, and Nancy Pelosi sitting across the table from the ambassador she swore she had never met.

Democrats were still trying to figure out whether they had destroyed Jeff Sessions, who they are quite sure is a racist, but then it turns out the adorable little biracial child he was holding on his lap at his swearing in ceremony is his granddaughter. Obviously a bigot.

Next came the outraged tweet from President Trump asserting that the Obama Administration had wiretapped the Trump Tower campaign headquarters during the campaign. That’s getting serious. A spokesman for the Obama White House made it very clear that no one in the White House had ordered a wiretap. Which was a totally  waffling response. Only a judge can order a FISA wiretap, and you don’t order a judge to do it. Asking somehow wasn’t mentioned, so it all remains a mystery, doesn’t it?

I’m not sure what all the sudden interest in the Russians is. Everybody has met with the Russian ambassador, and he has been to the White House (Obama’s White House) many times, I think the number was 22, but that may not be correct. I guess they must be trying to prove that Russian interference cost Hillary the election, but that completely ignores the problem that no one could think of an accomplishment from Hillary’s travels as Secretary of State aside from her travel miles. Democrats insisted that Hillary’s emails and private server, which was open to any and all foreign hackers weren’t anything important, but then they found out that as governor of Indiana, Mike Pence had used his private email account to discuss state business, but it turned out that there is no law against Gov. Pence using a private email. And the Associated Press published the Governor’s wife’s email address, for which Vice President Pence has demanded, rightfully, an apology.

Sounds a lot more like a potential soap-opera script than a couple of days in the leading nation of the free world, but there you go.



Dictionary Definitions by The Elephant's Child

sedition

noun se·di·tion \si-ˈdi-shən\

Legal Definition of sedition

  1. :  the crime of creating a revolt, disturbance, or violence against lawful civil authority with the intent to cause its
    overthrow or destruction



Innocence, Foolishness, Stupidity and Which is Which? by The Elephant's Child

eu

There are loaded words out there. Words that have been given meaning far beyond their normal weight, if one can call it that. Refugees is such a word. It is far more loaded than other words in the same family, like immigrants, or migrants. It seems to outrank citizens. Europe has largely surrendered to refugees. The word carries along with itself—ideas of empathy, pity, caring, welcome, fugitive, displaced person, asylum seeker, boat people.

Here’s the bit from Wikipedia. The refugee, of course, is a small child of indeterminate nationality. .

RefugeeA refugee, generally speaking, is a displaced person who has been forced to cross national boundaries and who cannot return home safely. Such a person may be called an asylum seeker until granted refugee status by the contracting state or the UNHCR if they formally make a claim for asylum.

What brings all this up is a post from  Gatestone Europe that contained these pieces.

The foreign minister of the European Parliament said, to justify the EU’s position on migrants, in the session of migration and Trump’s executive order, “If we had to live without migrants, in all our societies and all our economies, we would suffer a lot of negative consequences.”

Second piece: “Gangster Islam: The Problem Europe Ignores” featuring the Dutch-Moroccan rapper Ismo stating “I believe nothing blindly except the Quran””I hate the Jews even more than the Nazis: and “I won’t shake hands with faggots.”

For over a decade, Europe’s struggle to successfully integrate its Muslim population has been evident. But throughout the years a new and distinctly European phenomenon arose, which is as significant as it is underreported: Gangster Islam. It entails the conflation of the seemingly a-religious street culture of youths from a Muslim background on the one hand, and elements of the Islamic religion on the other.

Then, a report that “Hamas Organises Dutch Conference, Intelligence Agencies in Full Denial.”

And a video clip of the Chief of Police of  Östersund, Sweden, Stephen Jerand, warning women to adjust their behavior to protect against a spate of violent attacks” (avoid getting raped by gangs of young men)

There’s lots more. They are apparently far more concerned by President Trump than by the Muslim refugees in their midst that are not interested in assimilating, but only in establishing Sharia law and taking over.  But perhaps I exaggerate.

On the Left, “refugees” is indeed a loaded word, and we must all care deeply and admit all refugees, and continue to have sanctuary cities, counties, towns and universities, in defiance of federal law.  Because if we don’t care then we will be bad people. And we don’t have to worry about future effects because, well, that isn’t now and it will probably all be better anyway when we are in charge again.  Is that the mindset? Or is it all just George Soros‘ open borders and Open Society  or like Scarlett O’Hara’s plan to go home to Tara and think about it all tomorrow?

We have been told that Europe will be Muslim by 2050, simply because the Muslim birthrate is so much higher, and Europe’s is close to negative.




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