American Elephants


Democrat Scandal-Mongering Amounts to Nothing at All by The Elephant's Child

Preet Bharara has been the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. He was fired on Saturday, since he chose not to tender his resignation as the other U.S. Attorneys did. It is customary for U.S. Attorneys to resign when a new administration begins, as they serve at the pleasure of the president. Naturally this has been picked up by the Democrats, trying to make a scandal out of a normal function of government that takes place in every new administration.

James Freeman explains the dramatic situation at the Wall Street Journal:

At the start of the first week since 2009 in which Preet Bharara will not be the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Manhattan residents are jamming local markets in search of emergency supplies of food and water.

Most shoppers are likely responding to a blizzard warning from the National Weather Service. But given the outsize press coverage of Mr. Bharara’s Saturday firing, one could easily assume that New Yorkers, especially those who work in media, are simply trying to cope with a bout of post-Preet depression.

This is another enormous attempt to create scandal out of nothing at all. Pay no attention.



Another Outstanding Appointment by President Trump by The Elephant's Child

President Trump has selected a physician who is a policy expert to run the Food and Drug Administration—which may be one of the toughest jobs in Washington. Dr. Gottleib served as a deputy commissioner at the FDA during the G.W. Bush Administration, and has worked at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. He is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and writes regularly on physician autonomy, drug prices, antibiotic development and more. In other words, he’s familiar with the problems. We’ll see if he can fix them.

One of Dr. Gottlieb’s priorities will be moving generic medicines to market, and competition is the best way to reduce the price of treatments like the now infamous EpiPen. About 10% of 1,300 branded drugs “have seen patents expire but still face zero generic competition,” Dr. Gottlieb wrote in the Journal last year. “New regulations have, in many cases, made it no longer economically viable for more than one generic firm to enter the market.” Now he can roll back such arbitrary directives.

Dr. Gottlieb has also suggested that the FDA should explain its reasoning when declining to approve a drug. FDA does not release a rejection notice known as a complete response letter. The rule ostensibly exists to protect manufacturers, but the silence allows the agency and a company to peddle divergent tales about what happened. The public is left with minimal information and FDA can operate without fear of accountability.

The need for new antibiotics is dire, and a bureaucracy overburdened with regulation and fearful of accountability is not the way to get things moving. The FDA has been overburdened with caution ever since the thalidomide scandal in the ’60s. Thalidomide was a tranquilizer, marketed as a mild sleeping pill safe even for pregnant women, but it turned out to cause thousands of babies to be born with malformed or missing limbs. Careful testing for safety is essential, but getting drugs to market to save lives is also important. Avoidance of accountability is not.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Victor Davis Hanson Goes Right to the Heart of the Matter by The Elephant's Child

—Victor Davis Hanson has a number of recent columns that get right to the heart of the matter. “The Democrat Patient” on January 17. is one such:”Ignoring the symptoms, misdiagnosing the malady, skipping the treatment.”

If progressives were to become empiricists, they would look at the symptoms of the last election and come up with disinterested diagnoses, therapies, and prognoses.

Although their hard-left candidate won the popular vote, even that benchmark was somewhat deceiving — given the outlier role of California and the overwhelming odds in their favor. The Republicans ran a candidate who caused a veritable civil war in their ranks and who was condemned by many of the flagship conservative media outlets. Trump essentially ran against a united Democratic party, the Republican establishment, the mainstream media (both liberal and conservative) — and won.

He was outspent. He was out-organized. He was outpolled and demonized daily as much by Republicans as Democrats. Yet he not only destroyed three political dynasties (the Clintons, Bushes, and Obamas) but also has seemingly rendered the Obama election matrix nontransferable to anyone other than Obama himself.

— On February28, he addressed President Donald Trump himself in “The Metaphysics of Trump:” Paradox:How does a supposedly bad man appoint good people eager to advance a conservative agenda that supposedly more moral Republicans failed to realize?

We variously read that Trump should be impeached, removed, neutralized — or worse. But until he is, are his appointments, executive orders, and impending legislative agenda equally abhorrent?
—On March 8, He took on The News, “Talk Radio, Cable News, the Mainstream Media and the News Revolution” What is their assigned role, and how are they doing? Victor Hanson does a marvelous job of clearing up their roles and who is succeeding and who is a failure. and why.
In the hubbub over Trump’s attack on the media, we sometimes forget that Barack Obama et al. customarily went after talk-radio and cable-news conservatives — whose job, after all, was opinion journalism — as biased, whereas Trump went more after news-gathering organizations who deliver the news under the pretense of straight reporting.
Who has suffered from this ongoing media crackup?
Not conservative opinion journalists on television and radio. The role of talk-radio and cable-news outlets is to interpret the news, and they continue to do that well from a conservative point of view.
But are the mainstream news outlets — AP, Reuters, CNN, the New York Times, the Washington Post, etc. — commensurately doing their quite different jobs?
Hardly, given the epidemic of fake news passed off as disinterested reporting, the hysterias about the Russians, the smearing of officials like Jeff Sessions, or the collusion to undermine the Trump administration in general.
What we are witnessing is an utter inversion in the supposed way the media works. Whereas the task of a Rush Limbaugh or Tucker Carlson is to offer cogent analysis from a more conservative viewpoint on the news of the day, a supposedly disinterested media cannot be relied upon in the same degree to do their quite different job of reporting the days’ events.
Or is the implosion of the mainstream media even more revolutionary?
Clarity of thought, clear expression, and going directly to the heart of the matter. I am a great admirer of Dr. Hanson’s work.


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




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