American Elephants


The Continuing Battle Against The Left’s Tragic Delusions by The Elephant's Child

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Heather MacDonald is a fellow at the Manhattan Institute. She has made a career of painstakingly going into the nation’s police departments, town meetings and impacted urban neighborhoods to research the facts on the ground about how police practices actually affect lives.

She appeared on July 21, 2015 on the Harvard Lunch Club political podcast. The 35 minute podcast is at the bottom.

MacDonald spoke out against the poisonous influence that the “Black Lives Matter” movement is having on the quality of life in the very neighborhoods where the protests are taking place.

I think this is an even more extreme example of the way this country deals with race and policing, which is to talk fanatically about police in order not to talk about the far more difficult problem of black crime.

This type of policing that pays attention to public order is demanded by the residents of poor communities. They want the police to get the drug dealers off the corner, they want them to get the kids off their stoop who are hanging out there loitering and smoking weed and so that sort of policing is in fact a moral imperative.

Proactive police practices have been the target of protests against “police racism.” In what is called “the broken windows” style of policing, police detain perpetrators for minor violations like turnstile jumping or loitering and smoking weed. Far from being a threat to Black lives and Black communities, the one government agency most dedicated to the idea that “Black lives matter is the police force.”

Maintaining order on the small things makes it clear that the big things will be addressed as well. It demonstrates a low tolerance for crime. Rudy Giuliani’s policy of “broken windows” in New York City cleaned up the city of petty crime and big problems.The complaints from residents currently are getting louder.

The second part of the podcast  addresses  MacDonald’s recent City Journal essay “Microaggression, Macro Crazy.” It deals with University of California President Janet Napolitano’s asking all deans and department chairs in the ten university system to undergo training in overcoming their “implicit biases” toward women and minorities.

(H/t: Legal Insurrection)



Democrats Would Erase and Rewrite History In the Name of Their Ideology by The Elephant's Child

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More than a  month after the coldblooded murder of nine Black churchgoers in South Carolina by an overt racist, the event prompted an intense discussion of racism. Within hours the conversation, at least in the media, had switched to the Confederate battle flag as a symbol of racism that was flying over the South Carolina capitol, well, not the capitol, but over the confederate memorial on the capitol grounds.

Across the South the flag was furled, but a public hysteria quickly emerged demanding that monuments to Confederate leaders should be torn down, roads and bridges renamed, and at least the remains of one leading Confederate general should be dug up and…? The fight to make history conform to today’s moral standards was just in its beginnings, and it continues.

Ben Affleck discovered to his intense embarrassment that he had an ancestor who owned slaves, and attempted to eliminate any evidence of that from the broadcast of Roots. Actually it seemed to be four ancestors. Re-airings of The Dukes of Hazard were cancelled and the owner of the prop car, the General Lee, said the car’s famous rebel flag on the roof was to be painted over. Connecticut’s Democrat Party has dropped the names of Presidents Andrew Jackson and Thomas Jefferson, founders of the Democratic party, from the title of the annual dinner.

Democrats, like Ben Affleck, are embarrassed by the party’s connections to slavery. Well, yes, and segregation, and the KKK, and Reconstruction, the Trail of Tears, and Margaret Sanger, and Woodrow Wilson. After a brief campaign by the Left to banish Andrew Jackson from the $20 bill, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew decided on removing Alexander Hamilton, the father of the modern banking system, instead — to be replaced by — a woman. What woman? He’s asking for suggestions, because no woman comes to mind as being that outstanding. He might try reading up on Alexander Hamilton to avoid embarrassing himself. I’d recommend  Hamilton’s Blessing: The Extraordinary life and Times of Our National Debt by John Steele Gordon.

Please! History is a record of what happened in the past. The more distant the past, the more historians have to rely on fewer records. When we go back before recordings, before film, before photographs, historians must try to fill in the blanks. Newly discovered letters, diaries, or  papers can change our knowledge of the period. But we don’t get to rewrite history to suit our modern prejudices and ideas of the correct morality. We need history, as it is, warts and all, to guide us in the present. But we also need truth, not some made-up history that advances the Left’s idealized future.

Part of the problem is that Democrats are a little short in the history department. They grew up in the sixties, reading Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States, which is pure Soviet propaganda, and Noam Chomsky’s assorted Marxist crap, and  consequently know nothing about history at all.

The drive to re-write history comes from the faculty lounges. The WWI Centennial Commission has been accepting design submissions, to memorialize The Great War, but they have already decided to move General John Pershing out of Pershing Park in Washington D.C. because they “have moved away from the ‘great man’ approach to war memorials.”

There has been a battle with the College Board over the Advanced Placement examination for U.S. history, to be released later this summer. Fifty-six professors and historians published a petition on the National Association of Scholars, urging opposition to the College Board’s framework. “Students should be able to explain how various identities, cultures, and values have been preserved or changed in different contexts of U.S. history, with special attention given to the formation of gender, class, racial and ethnic identities.” Orwellian.



The Unintended Consequences of Demanding Higher Pay by The Elephant's Child

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The law of unintended consequences strikes again. Low wage workers in Seattle spent months agitating for a city-wide $15 an  hour were successful in their agitation. The City of Sea-Tac (the area surrounding the Seattle-Tacoma airport) had passed a $15 an hour bill. The state wide minimum wage locally was already $9.32.

Workers in local hotels and restaurants and in the airport soon found out that the raise was not as profitable as they had assumed. Hours were cut. Workers suddenly had to pay for their own parking and their own lunches. Politicians, those unfamiliar with basic economics, often assume that they are lifting poor people out of poverty.  Not so fast.

Some workers across the city are suddenly asking their bosses to give them fewer hours, because the higher wage is forcing them off the welfare programs they rely on, so they can earn less to avoid losing assistance. 

Who are low-wage workers, and why can ‘t they get higher pay? A very large percentage are young people in their first job, learning how to work. A hike in the minimum wage law that is unrelated to economic growth, means the hike will be an unemployment act for young people. Ideally, the low-wage worker will learn on the job, skills that are transferable to better jobs. Most employers prefer to hire skilled workers than beginners.

Looking through the images of “Fight for $15″ protests, it’s clear that the main driver and sponsor of the protests was SEIU, hoping to unionize fast food workers. The main target was McDonalds. Oddly enough, a very large percentage of McDonalds restaurants are franchises or small-businesses, who are no more capable than other small businesses of absorbing the cost of a government-ordered increase in wage costs. Restaurants in Seattle are closing at higher than normal rates.

No one has ever doubted that it’s quite possible to increase employment and the minimum wage at the same time. But it happens when the economy is growing and demand increases. And, contrary to Mr. Obama’s usual bragging, the economy is not growing healthily.

Most people have encountered low-wage workers who hate their jobs, are unpleasant, but say the required “Have a nice day.” A worker in a local store fits that description, and adds to it tattoos on arms and neck, and ear-lobes stretched out to take huge disks. A long-sleeved shirt would take care of the tattoos, but the earrings will limit his future job prospects.

On the other hand, my grocery had a box-boy, high-school and Jr. College age, who always appeared to enjoy his job, remembered my name, and that I had two cats, and was cheerful and efficient as well. He’s gone on to college now, but he will do well in life.

If you work hard and become the best worker in your current job, you may be ready to move up. Work is not meant to be just a payment to you, but fair pay for fair work. There are plenty of unskilled workers ready to take those jobs you sneer at, and there are other replacements who don’t protest and don’t demand time off, overtime nor sick pay.

I should probably add that this is a case history in the way government welfare is set up to keep the recipients from turning to real work to escape dependence. They are not into helping people on welfare to become self-supporting.



Now That He as Fixed the Middle East, Obama Intends to “Fix” America by The Elephant's Child

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Fresh off abjectly surrendering to the mullahs in Iraq, Obama has reverted to full Community Organizer. His broadest attempt to “fundamentally transform the United States of America”is a plan known as “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” (AFFH) which will require the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to gather data on the economic and racial makeup of each ZIP code, by the numbers, to disclose whether the numbers display “disparate impact” that requires “fixing.”

The trouble is that Obama knows so much that isn’t so. HUD’s own study explains why this will not work, and advised against expecting better results from a larger or more aggressive relocation program. But Liberals are always true believers in their cherished programs and are sure that a larger or more aggressive relocation program will do it. HUD is pitching the program as a plan to “diversify” America.

“HUD is working with communities across the country to fulfill the promise of equal opportunity for all,” a spokeswoman for the agency explained. “The proposed policy seeks to break down barriers to access to opportunity in communities supported by HUD funds.”

The effort calls for HUD to set aside taxpayer funds to upgrade poorer communities with amenities such as better schools, parks, libraries, grocery stores and transportation routes as a means of gentrifying those communities. It also calls for using grant money to build affordable housing in wealthy neighborhoods. Ultimately however, as it is with virtually every facet of the leftist agenda, it’s a naked power grab: the Obama administration is holding certain housing funds hostage to a city’s efforts to determine patterns of segregation in various neighborhoods and submit plans to address those patterns. Cities that refuse to do so would have funds used to improve blighted areas withheld.

Community organizers have been sure that the reason that poor blacks cannot get home loans to move into better neighborhoods is due to racial discrimination rather than lousy credit history. Democrats insistence on forcing banks to make home loans to poor African Americans who could not pay them back was the cause of the  “worst recession since the Great Recession of the 1930s” as Obama liked to describe it.

Leftist civil rights advocates who invariably worship at the altar of greater government control are thrilled, insisting decades of housing policy have “trapped” poor people in bad neighborhoods, depriving them of better lives. “This rule is not about forcing anyone to live anywhere they don’t want to,” said Margery Turner, senior vice president of the left-leaning Urban Institute. “It’s really about addressing long-standing practices that prevent people from living where they want to.

Uh huh. The federal government is forcing low-income families to move to more expensive neighborhoods, offering housing vouchers worth up to $1,800 a month, and cutting their subsidies if they don’t want to move. The vouchers were created in the 1970s to force low-income families to get out of their neighborhoods, but that effort largely failed, and they remain in their low income neighborhoods. If given a voucher, they usually buy better quality housing in the same neighborhood. Surprise! People want to stay where their friends and relatives are.

Officials concluded the subsidies they were offering previously were too small, so in the Dallas experiment and in some other added regions, they upped the value of the vouchers. In the cheapest zip codes, HUD cut housing subsidies to a maximum of $850 a month, but in the most expensive zip codes they increased them to a current maximum of $1,840.

And possibly they don’t want to be told by the government where they must live.

In a companion “Fair Housing Assessment Tool,” HUD counts “land use and zoning laws, such as minimum lot sizes, limits on multi-unit properties, height limits, or bedroom-number limits as well as requirements for special use permits (and) occupancy restrictions” among “factors contributing to segregated housing patterns.”

Foes point to Westchester County, N.Y., as an example of how HUD seeks to control suburban zoning and building. HUD has withheld $17 million in funds from the tony community after it failed to build several hundred affordable-housing units under federal order.

The hard Left’s utopian dreams of making everybody equal (except for themselves, of course, who will run things) means removing the wealth from the successful, and giving it to the poor. No more suburbs — all will be cities. The left does not approve of suburbs. It’s an effort to achieve economic integration. Obama believes it might not work well at first but after 20 or 30 years, everyone will be used to it.

Stanley Kurtz has been studying this pipe dream of the left for some time, and is the expert to consult. The Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project has essentially green lighted this initiative.

The administrative usurpation of housing policy” by Stanley Kurtz

“Massive Government Overreach: Obama’s AFFH Rule is Out” Kurtz

“What’s Holding Blacks Back?” by John McWhorter

ADDENDUM: I changed the wording in the first paragraph slightly to clarify just what it is that they are attempting to do. It is not about discrimination or segregation, it is about the numbers matching some pre-conceived perfect mixture of race and ethnicity, Affirmative action for America’s neighborhoods. Has been a disaster for education, and harmed the people they claimed to be helping, the most.



Liberal Delusions and Other Odd Phenomenons by The Elephant's Child

John Hinderaker remarked the other day that a common Liberal delusion was “a child-like faith in paper.” That stuck in my mind when we had the announcement of the dreadful shooting in Chattanooga, and the revelation that Marine recruiting offices were “Gun-Free Zones,” and I realized that was another liberal delusion. They are deathly afraid of guns, the physical objects, but do not focus particularly on the shooter, at least until we learn his personal story (‘a nice American boy’).

Slightly more attuned to this sort of thing, I’m reading Bret Stephens’ new book (excellent) America In RetreatHe was in Northern Pakistan in 2005, with a U.S Army MASH unit responding to a terrible earthquake, on a mission of mercy that saved thousands of Pakistani lives. It turned out to be a $200 million humanitarian operation. Stephens said it seemed to him at the time — a textbook example of how the combination of American power and American goodness could  yield tangible results when it came to Muslim hearts and minds. He came to realize it was a naive assumption.

In 2006 the Pew Global Attitudes Survey found that 27 percent of Pakistanis had a positive view of the United States, a post 9-11 high. The figure has dropped every year since to 11 percent in 2013. Just 8 percent of Pakistanis see the United States as a partner, against 64 percent of Pakistanis who see the United States as their enemy. And only 8 percent of Pakistanis think the impact of U.S. economic aid is “mostly positive.” When Pakistan was struck by another humanitarian disaster in 2010 — this time in the form of floods — a conspiracy theory that made the rounds in the  Pakistani media held that it was the doing of a weather-controlling device based in Alaska.

Stephens went on to quote Aristotle in the Nicomachean Ethics: “Benefactors seem to love their beneficiaries more than the beneficiaries love those who have benefitted from them. As this seems unreasonable, it should be investigated.”

This phenomenon is thoroughly investigated by William Voegeli whose The Pity Party is a “mean-spirited diatribe” against the Liberals’ celebration of themselves as the party of ‘Compassion.’

Sanctuary Cities would seem to fall into the same category, a sop to Liberals’ view of themselves as benefactors full of compassion in complete denial of reality. But I’m sure you can add to the list.

Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), during a report on the debate over sanctuary cities after the murder of Kate Steinle, said “Every time a little thing like this happens, they use the most extreme example to say it must be eliminated.”

ADDENDUM: How could I forget to mention “Climate”, and “endangered species,” and, of course, “clean power.” The Left charges straight ahead with no regard for facts, science, or obvious proof. Obama is still going to save us from rising seas, in spite of the facts that the rise is calculated in millimeters, solar factories go bankrupt, other countries are getting rid of their windmills and solar farms, and expert wildlife zoologists specializing in Arctic animals assure us that the polar bears have been just fine for a hundred thousand years and the walrus do haulouts all the time.



Kuwaiti Born Gunman Killed Four Marines in Tennessee by The Elephant's Child

Today, a gunman identified by the Hamilton County Sheriff’s office as Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez killed four Marines at a Naval facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee. A few minutes earlier Abdulazeez hadsho222oter_345.jpg.cms opened fire at an Armed Forces Career Center, but failed to kill anyone there, a few miles away at a Naval and Marine Reserve Center at the Chattanooga Riverpark, four Marines and one police officer were shot. The killer was killed by police.

A Senior FBI official said the shooting did not initially appear to be related to any international terrorist group.

Abdulazeez had just graduated from the University of Tennessee with a degree in electrical engineering. He was born in Kuwait. That’s about all we know.

The saddest part of the story is that the facilities were designated as “Gun Free Zones.” The Marines had no way to defend themselves. The current administration has a peculiar relationship with guns. They want to disarm the military because the guns might make them look scary, or authoritarian, or mean. Their timid Rules of Engagement have sacrificed a lot of lives because of their hangups.

I believe it was the Clinton administration that banned weapons being carried on Military reservations, like Fort Hood.



Learning Early About the Perils of the Modern Marketplace by The Elephant's Child

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From The Economist:

ZOEY and Andria Green, who are seven and eight respectively, only look innocent. With their baby faces and cunning, they managed to lure patrons to their illicit enterprise: a lemonade stand outside their home in Overton, Texas. The girls were in business for about an hour in June, selling popcorn and lemonade to raise money for a Father’s Day gift, before local police shut the operation down. Not only were they hawking without a $150 “peddler’s permit”, but also the state requires a formal kitchen inspection and a permit to sell anything that might spoil if stored at the wrong temperature. As authorities are meant “to act to prevent an immediate and serious threat to human life or health”, the officers understandably moved swiftly in.

They took away the teeter-totters, and the merry-go-rounds, and park playgrounds have become so boring kids don’t want to be bothered. Farmers’ markets proliferate, but who qualifies as a farmer? Goods made in home kitchens are a ‘grey area’. Some states have passed “cottage-food laws” allowing people to sell ‘Non-potentially hazardous food such as baked goods, sometimes permitted, but the rules are odd and fussy, and different locations have different rules. Rhode Island allows farmers to peddle their goods, but bans everyone else. Oklahoma rules apply only to bakers who may sell up to $20,000 worth of breads and cakes as long as the sales take place in their homes but not in a market. Minnesota allows the annual cap at $18,000 for sellers who register with the state and take a safety course. Across state lines, you run into federal law.

Health authorities worry about the risk of unlicensed kitchens, though just what the dangers of lemonade are is unknown. There are lots more cottage food laws, and no increase in botulism.

Alas for the Green girls, lemonade is not covered by Texas’s cottage-food law, as it might spoil if it is not properly stored. But the pair have learned a valuable lesson about commerce and regulation. They discovered that if they gave the lemonade away free, but put a box on the table for tips, they could still make money because the “payments” thus became donations. Their father must be proud.

Powerline outlines the perils of the Administrative State. It’s going to take a lot of unraveling.




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