American Elephants


President Trump, The Press, The Profession of Journalism, and Sean Spicer. This is Going to be Fun! by The Elephant's Child

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There is a tentative war going on between the press and the new Trump administration. The Washington press corps has been remarkably partisan during the entire campaign season, and they never imagined a Trump presidency.

We have a new White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, beginning to set new rules for how White House press conferences are going to go. He didn’t call on the front row first, but gave the first question to the New York Post, seated toward the back. He called early on reporters from the Christian Broadcasting network, Fox, and Univision. He even announced four “Skype seats” for reporters not in the Washington area. This is very scary stuff for the Washington media.

He noted that the  press routinely publish corrections, and said the administration “should be afforded the same opportunity.”

Press behavior during this political campaign left a great deal to be desired. We had reporters publishing unverified leaks, giving their stories to the candidates for approval before publication, warning candidates of upcoming stories. And in one case, the New York Post noted “the complete collapse of American journalism as we know it.” “The shameful display of naked partisanship by the elite media is unlike anything seen in modern America,” wrote Michael Goodwin.

The largest broadcast networks — CBS, NBC and ABC — and major newspapers like the New York Times and Washington Post have jettisoned all pretense of fair play. Their fierce determination to keep Trump out of the Oval Office has no precedent. By torching its remaining credibility in service of Clinton, the mainstream media’s reputations will likely never recover, nor will the standards. No future producer, editor, reporter or anchor can be expected to meet a test of fairness when that standard has been trashed in such willful and blatant fashion.

“The University of Georgia does an Annual Survey of Journalism & Mass Communication Graduates which surveys J-School grads, their habits, salaries and the jobs they take.” They don’t read print media. Just one third had read a newspaper the day before taking the survey. That’s down from 81% in 1994. Three quarters read news off the internet and many watched TV. Almost all went on a social media website the day before taking the survey.

Which draws the automatic query: if they don’t read their own writing, why should they expect us to?

Newspaper ad revenue is way down. Ads are reaching fewer customers. Magazines with which I am familiar are thinner, with fewer ads. But for the most part I only see magazines at the hair salon or the doctor’s office.  Two local bookstores are closing. It’s not that people are reading less, they are reading online. More and more online sources are creating a subscription barrier, and there are more and more ways to avoid that wall. There is so much information available for free, that people are reluctant to pay. I don’t know where this is all going, but everything is fluid and changing.

I don’t know what journalism schools are teaching their students besides social justice, nor what their requirements are, but journalists seem remarkably lacking in the history department, and just general world knowledge—reflecting wide reading. Starting salaries are worse than for most other professions, and there are more and more clumsy errors that are not caught by editors.

Computers are changing the world. Our sources of information are changing. Social media is becoming more important than  we understand. Occupations are changing. We are always slow to understand the changes and how to adapt, and those who do understand and adapt quickly are probably the millionaires and billionaires of the future.

An article by Stefan Kanfer in City Journal last February mourned the decline of Time magazine and the shrinking readership of newspapers and magazines. He wrote:

Contemporary tendencies—from know-nothing reportage to grade inflation—can be corrected. But the blackboard is large, and the erasers grow fewer by the year. When once-formidable newspapers like the New York Times print regular, lengthy columns of misattributions and misinformation, and when a newsmagazine cannot identify the sex of an author, much less his/her significance, Americans can no longer depend on periodicals to set things straight. That job, ironically, has been ceded to the freewheeling and often irresponsible Internet. Thus by default the solution must come, as it did long ago, from diligent instruction—private, parochial, and public. It had better. For as Abraham Lincoln observed, “The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.” (A former Illinois congressman, Lincoln was the sixteenth president of the United States.)



A Word From William F. Buckley Jr. by The Elephant's Child

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Visualizing the Growth of Federal Regulations: Food for Thought. by The Elephant's Child

This Mercatus Center video is from 2014, and doesn’t include the generous contributions of the Obama administration in the last two years, or especially in the days since the election. Knowing that he would be succeeded by Donald Trump instead of Hillary, who could be counted on to continue his policies he was sure, Obama indulged in a orgy of rulemaking, adding nearly 1,500 more pages to the Federal Register just on his final day in office. By January 13, he had already added 571 economically significant rules. To be “economically significant” a rule must have at least $100 million worth of impact.



“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.”



The Women’s March on Washington is Bunk. by The Elephant's Child

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Saturday, and we are to be annoyed with the “Women’s March ” which seems to be mostly anti-Trump  posturing with abortion rights thrown in for extra credit. I am so sick of the Left’s ignorant outcry that I have little patience left for this sort of thing. Guaranteed unrestricted sexual choice is not an absolute good. All the old sexual diseases have returned and are rampant. Planned Parenthood’s selling of baby body parts is not only criminal, but unbelievably disgusting. Contraceptives are widely available and cheap in many locations. I see no reason why taxpayers should be saddled with that expense.

The anti-Trump protests are so disconnected from reality that it’s hard to believe that these people live in the same country as the rest of us. Rachel Maddow asks if she will be “put in a camp?” People go on about “Fascism” in a way that makes it clear that they have no idea what fascism is. Donald Trump is not an Anti-Semite, his daughter Ivanka has converted to Judaism, as her husband is an orthodox Jew. Trump is not anti-gay, nor prejudiced against Muslims nor Mexicans. He merely emphasizes that unlimited and uncontrolled immigration, ignoring our immigration laws, opens the door to drug trafficking and people trafficking and, in the age of al Qaeda and ISIS, opens the door to terrorist attacks. Obama remarked in the last few days that we really haven’t had any terrorist attacks in this country under his watch, which prompted some very puzzled disagreement, beginning with Fort Hood, and running through a lot of other sad venues.

Of course. women who voted for Donald Trump are not welcome, but women who oppose Planned Parenthood or oppose abortion are not welcome either. It is just another leftist event. They find Trump sexist, racist, misogynist, and fascist, of course.  They may even mention equal pay for women, but that has been settled law for years, not that it is observed in places like the Clinton campaign.

I hope they have a good time, because their message is bunk. There is no such thing as social justice. We have one kind of justice in this country and it is concerned with the Constitution, the courts and the body of law. The only diversity that matters is diversity of ideas and the freedom to express them. Skin color hasn’t mattered to anyone for a very long time. And if you think that trying to force everyone to be equal is a good idea, you might try reading the Black Book of Communism, or reading up on Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea, Cambodia, and Soviet Russia.

 



Obama’s Unfortunate Final Days in Office by The Elephant's Child

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•Obama did a big land grab of 1.35 million acres in Utah for the new Bear Ears Buttes monument and about 300,000 acres in Nevada, a total of 553 million acres of state lands, using the 1906 Antiquities Act, more than any other president.  More than 80 percent if the state of Nevada, and 65 percent of Utah is now “owned” by the federal government. The problem is that the federal government cannot manage to take care of the national parks and monuments already on the books.

Progressives believe deeply in federal government control invested in their hands. Their dream is to have all the annoying people confined in high-rise cities, and the land between in National Park land. What they have in mind for the farms that supply the food for America and much of the world is not clear.

•Obama freed Bradley Manning, now known as Chelsea Manning,who has completed just 7 years of his 35 year prison sentence. “Manning was stationed in Iraq as a low level intelligence analyst” the Wall Street Journal reminds us, which gave him access to huge amounts of classified documents. He leaked nearly 750,000 documents to Wikileaks, thousands of State Department cables and quantities of military information the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Assange worked with several news organizations to publish the material, to much bragging about transparency. The thing is there was information about Afghans and Iraqis who were working with us, and the leaks could easily be death sentences for them. There were masses of military and operational information as well.Within 24 hours of being sentenced, Manning announced that he wanted to be considered as Chelsea, and demanded hormone treatment. Bodily dysmorphia is a mental disease. People cannot change their gender, and psychological help is more to be desired than bodily mutilation. Military and diplomatic leaders did not take a charitable view.

This was treason and violation of the oath Manning took. Obama has never understood military secrets, as is evident from his intention to have our Military fight, and then limited what they could do with overly restrictive rules of engagement.

•Just last night, Obama banned 3-way light bulbs, in the mistaken belief that imposing efficiency standards would save the climate. The new bulbs give worse light than incandescents, but they make way more money for GE and Phillips. The 2007 ban affected most light bulbs, but exempted bug lights, 3-way bulbs which have 3 different brightnesses, and some decorative bulbs.

The Department’s reasoning: “DOE expects these sales will likely increase since these lamps could be used as replacements for other regulated lamp types.” In other words: People might start buying these bulbs because they want regular light bulbs rather than expensive LEDs or crappy fluorescents.

This goes along with low-flow showerheads and toilets, supposedly to save water which we are supposedly running out of—but then we are supposed to have too much water in the ocean as rising seas inundate our coastal cities. Does that make sense?

•On his final day, the Obama administration added nearly 1,500 pages of new regulations to complete the rush of regulations he has added since the November election. The government published 1,464 pages of regulations on November 18, ten days after the election. The cost of rules finalized and proposed earlier in January would cost $111.2 billion, but it’s only money. Donald Trump has said he would repeal any “job killing” energy regulations on his first full day in office, which he thinks of as Monday, so we will see.

 



Inauguration Day. by The Elephant's Child

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Renowned satirist Oleg Atbashian has been spoofing authoritarianism and leftist overkill at his blog The People’s Cube, for years, but now the activist editors at Wikipedia have decided to destroy him. They have deleted his blog.

Congratulations, comrades. We are now officially a non-site populated by non-persons sharing non-thoughts and making non-jokes,” Atbashian wrote in a post at The People’s Cube  “It makes me feel right at home, back in the Soviet Union, where an invisible hand obstructed any of my efforts to manifest my existence. How liberating. No visibility means no responsibility. Out of sight, out of mind.”

Not exactly the first time Wikipedia has brazenly demonstrated its hard left political affiliations. Drop by if you have a chance and wish him well. He is very talented and way too familiar with the Left and their machinations.




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