American Elephants


Ranking the States for their Fiscal Reliability by The Elephant's Child

Here in greater Seattle, following national publicity surrounding the Seattle debacle with raising the minimum wage, the Seattle City Council has determined that it would be a good idea to raise taxes on the rich.  They passed an ordinance.  It will be challenged in court, for the Washington state constitution says they can’t have an income tax, and their plan clearly defines who is rich and who is richer, and has to pay even more.

Several states have decided to raise taxes this year to cover budget shortfalls. A new study suggests that the states might find themselves in worse financial shape after the money starts rolling in. (Leftists do not understand the free market. That’s why they are Leftists.)

According to the latest ranking of states by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, the most fiscally sound states in the country are all low-tax, GOP strongholds, while the 10 least-solvent states are almost all high-tax and heavily Democratic.

The rankings in the fourth-annual “Ranking of the States by Fiscal Condition” report, which was released this morning, are based on an review of audited financial statements for 2015 covering five measures that gauge the states’ ability to pay their bills, avoid budget deficits,  meet long-term spending needs and cover pension liabilities.

Cash solvency measures a state’s ability to pay immediate bills. Budget solvency focuses on whether states will end the year with a surplus or deficit. Service-level solvency gauges a state’s ability to meet a demand for increased spending. Long-run solvency concerns a states’ ability to meet longer-term spending commitments. Trust fund solvency  examines the states’ unfunded pension liabilities and state debt.

The 25 most-solvent states are solidly Republican except for four. Of the bottom least-solvent states, all but five are solidly Democratic. The most fiscally sound states also tend to have the lowest tax burdens, according to a separate analysis by the Tax Foundation.

The Mercatus Center Analysis can be found here, along with a map which includes more separation of the states into groups. The bottom line seems to be that the more money the state government takes from taxpayers, the worse they do in handling it. That should be surprising, but it’s not.



Newt Gingrich Has a Few Comments on the Republican Congress by The Elephant's Child

At the Daily Caller, Gini Thomas interviews former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich for the Daily Caller News Foundation.

He says health care policy is “life and death.” “It is ten times more complicated than national defense and you can’t fix it with a handful of congressional staffers sitting in a room somewhere, thinking they’re smart.”

If the Republicans get health care wrong, he predicts, they will lose the House.

The former speaker, whose newest book “Understanding Trump” became his 15th New York Times bestseller, explains there are “two pressure cookers” that impact how Washington works. One is in Washington, but the other is the country. “The country is bigger. You can’t let the Washington pressure cooker make you do stupid things.”

It’s about 25 minutes long, but utterly fascinating. Newt is an old Washington hand and knows his way around Congress. He says he would focus 80 percent of his energy on communications if he were the chief of Staff to Trump. He added that as far as impeachment and a future President Mike Pence are concerned, he will likely be at Pence’s inauguration in 2025, but the Democrats’ efforts to impeach Trump will probably slow down when they realize that Vice President Pence is more conservative than Donald Trump.

 



Lightening the Burden of Excessive Regulation by The Elephant's Child

President Donald Trump has made a good beginning on the immense burden of excess regulation on the U.S. economy and on us personally. Experts believe the cost is close to $2 trillion a year on the economy. Eager progressives believed that the way to fix everything would be strong regulations from the wise elite in Washington D.C. Well, you and I know that the elite don’t seem to be exceptionally wise, and in many cases are definitely deficient.

There was a better way of regulating, according to Steve Forbes, back in (of all places) the Clinton administration. Regulators should state the goals, and let the industry figure out the best way of achieving them.

Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., recently asked the right question in a hearing on improving our infrastructure: “Can performance-based regulations be more effective than command-and-control regulations in achieving safety goals while imposing less of a burden on industry?”

The answer, of course, is yes and there is now a bill before Congress that would codify this common sense approach, The Revamping American Infrastructure Act of 2017. The proposed legislation would call on federal bureaucrats to “identify those regulations, guidance and policies that in current form establish prescriptive requirements for regulated entities; and are able to be replaced, consistent with Federal law, with outcome-based performance standards.”

Thanks to deregulation in 1980, the [freight railroad] industry morphed from an inefficient, loss-ridden system into the finest, most efficient in the world. Nonetheless, the industry is still weighed down unnecessarily by countless, archaic operational mandates. It is ready to deploy new technologies for inspections such as drones, trackside detection systems and sophisticated X-ray machines that would provide crucial information in real time. Yet the industry must abide by a rigid set of procedures established by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) that seems to think the world is still dominated by those legendary steam engines of yore.

Federal regulators wanted to address the problem of accidents caused by human error. To fix it, they wanted to dictate to the railroads the number of of persons  in a crew,  without any data that supported the notion that a second person in the cab would actually reduce the number of human-error accidents. (You remember the goofy regulation that all ingredients,with their calorie count in all pizzas, had to be included in the big sign back of the cash register in all pizza parlors.)

The EPA’s jihad against fossil fuels resulted in their so-called haze rule, supposedly to improve visibility. The rule would have forced the closure of several coal-fired power plants and killed many jobs, with no noticeable improvement in visibility.

Sensible removal of excessive government regulation should be a boon to the economy, and perhaps even reduce the number of government regulators. So far, so good. The Trump administration has made a good start.

 



Pelosi’s Partisan Pleadings by The Elephant's Child

Nancy Pelosi spoke at a rally in Dallas as the Democratic National Committee launched its “Resistance Summer,” a term that she had some trouble saying. She slammed the Texas law requiring cities to follow federal immigration law that prohibits “sanctuary cities”for protecting illegal aliens from being deported. Clearly, Democrats don’t have any problem with the crimes and murders being committed by illegals who flock to “sanctuary cities” believing that they can do as they please because the “sanctuary city” will not turn them in nor enforce the law. As usual, Democrats care about their own power. They have no interest in their fellow citizens who might lose their lives to criminal immigrants or jihadists. Empathy requires that they support immigrants and illegals.

She continued into a rant about Obama Care, claiming that it had helped ordinary people so much, and the Trump Health Care Plan would raise the cost of their health insurance so much many people would have to drop out. In 2009, the average rate for a family plan insurance policy under ObamaCare was $12,650.  When Obama left office the cost of a family plan insurance policy under ObamaCare was $18,142. That’s an increase of 23%, and the cost  has risen to 10% of an average worker’s income.

I was attempting here to give Minority Leader Pelosi, a taste of her own medicine, but I find I’m not up to the challenge. I can’t bring myself to call names and  misstate issues and hurl vile insults. I don’t call people, even my political enemies, “Hitler,” nor “racists”over their usual everyday nastiness. I just try to find the evidence that will show just what they are doing, and why.

DHS Secretary John Kelly was interviewed on Fox and Friends last Friday and said that “if we knew what he knows about terror threats in this country, we’d never leave the house.”

It seems that Democrat leaders are simply not concerned about illegal immigration (future Democrat voters) nor large numbers of immigrants and refugees. They have been told often enough that we are unable to vet “refugees” from Syria, that there are jihadists among them, that the leaders of ISIS and al Qaeda say that they are filtering their fighters into our country, but Democrat leaders are less concerned than their voters. It’s the same story for Republican leaders, although they are five times more concerned than their Democrat friends in Congress. Is this because of the heavy police presence in the nation’s capitol? Have they already forgotten the plane that smashed into the Pentagon? Or do they just feel above it all, too important to be concerned?

Republicans are more likely to be familiar with the news. Democrats are more likely to be more familiar with Democrat talking points, and to brush off any Republican concerns. The most interesting thing is how much more their voters are concerned and how unaware their leaders are of their concerns. Begins to explain November’s election.

I saw a post last week about how shocked Democrats were to find out that Republicans reciprocated their hate and upped it a bit. What, they hate us? How can that be? I don’t know about hate. Perhaps contempt is more accurate. They operate on talking points handed down from Think Progress, and never make the effort to find out if they are true. And it doesn’t matter. They care about scoring points and winning. The talking points have been poll tested to see what works. Strange world of politics.

They haven’t noticed that the accomplishments of the man they so despise are piling up. He had a very successful trip overseas, Melania was a star.  The economy is improving, industrial production registered its largest gain in three years, the business community is increasingly optimistic, with Small Business optimism in its 6th month of positive feelings, a streak not seen since the Reagan years. Initial unemployment claims are way down. Withdrawing from the Paris Climate accords was an excellent move, it would have done nothing for the climate and deeply harmed American taxpayers. Not bad, not bad at all.

 



An Outburst of Democrat Derangement by The Elephant's Child

Someone named Kathy Griffin, reportedly a comedienne, posted a video of herself holding what purported to be a severed, bloody head of Donald Trump. Unsurprisingly, there was a backlash, at which she promptly apologized abjectly admitting that she was wrong and went too far, and made a huge mistake. Well, yes she did. What interests me is the mindset that would have allowed her to engage in something like this in the first place. In a general atmosphere where the way to get attention seems to be coming up with a  more outrageous way to insult the President of the United States. And that in itself is quite remarkable.

It’s clear that the left loathes Donald Trump. Just why seems to be that he has removed the Democratic Party from its position of power all over the country, and the Left just cannot stand that. It is not just that they lost the election, they have lost lots of elections, as have the Republicans, but this time they have lost all the way down to the lowest proverbial dogcatcher. Their anger is completely emotional, and utterly furious. Why?

It wasn’t always so, but I believe that today’s Democratic party is based entirely on emotion. They hate Donald Trump, Republicans, global warming deniers, Citizens United, guns (especially dangerous assault weapons), the military and its wars, and conversely love— refugees, the poor, illegal immigrants, empathy, and being in power. You can tell that this is the case by their language: They call Trump “Hitler,” a “Nazi”,’Tyrant,” they are sure he is so authoritarian that he soon will be rounding them up and putting the in camps. Little of their emotive excess even approaches reality, but they are positive that he is a danger to their world, and they want him stopped, before it is too late.  That’s why they care so deeply about social justice and so little for the actual kind in courts of law.  And why they care far more about their empathy for refugees than they care about vetting the potential terrorists among them. They don’t care about the actual poor or the actual refugees. They care about feeling good about themselves.

For the Never Trumpers, it’s a class issue. You can take the man out of Queens, but you can’t take Queens out of the man. They are offended by his way of talking. They are offended by his orange hair and orange tan. They are offended by his great big wall— opposing illegal immigration is fine, but building a huge wall is going too far. They are offended by the way he talks, his tweets and by his calling people names.   They are much more comfortable with polite arguments about the founders and how conservative conservatives should be, but doing battle to get a better budget or dispose of repugnant regulations is generally beyond their powers. Their battles are about ideas.

Kathy Griffin’s use of a severed head, a favorite terrorist act of ISIS, aside from being a particularly vulgar act, shows not just her own act of violence against Trump, but an astounding lack of understanding of one of the many major and very real threats to Americans and anyone who is not a Muslim. How is it possible to fail to understand, in today’s world, that severed heads and burning people alive, drowning them in cages are acts of terror designed to frighten the world into submission.  Did she not grasp the meaning of Manchester or the attack today killing around 80 people in Kabul in Afghanistan?

It is a very dangerous world, and the despised Donald Trump is taking it on as if it is a serious matter. James Mattis at the Pentagon, John Kelly at NHS, and H.L. McMaster are serious and knowledgeable people, some of the best America has to offer. Nikki Haley is sensational at the UN. Silly EPA regulations are being undone, illegal immigration is down sharply just because there is someone seriously paying attention.  The despicable Bashar Assad had the airport from which the planes that sprayed chemical weapons on helpless civilians promptly destroyed, sending a pointed message. This impolite man carefully labeled the Iranian regime “evil” in front of 50 Muslim heads of state. He’s working to restore the military budget to assure that the military can do what is necessary when it is necessary. He ‘s submitted a budget that lowers taxes and makes some dramatic cuts.  He made a pretty good trip to the Middle East and Europe. Not bad.

Presidents, all of them, are only ordinary human beings, fallible, egotistic, impatient, facing dreadful challenges. We elect them for four years to try to manage this messy world. They are not and should never be love objects. They wanted the job, and upon being given the opportunity, their task is to live up to it. Do a good job, and we will honor your and your name will go down in history.

We gave Obama 8 years, and he not only made a mess of it, but apparently enjoyed it so much that he cannot bring himself to retire. He’s reportedly going to run a shadow government in exile from his new Washington D.C. walled mansion, working to sabotage his successor, I guess in the illusion that will improve his legacy.

ADDENDUM: Ms. Griffin has now been fired from CNN, and reportedly from any other engagements she may have had. It’s nice to know that there are some limits to Democrat derangement excess. Melania Trump had to try to explain to her son who panicked, what that was about.

ADDENDUM II: Friday. Kathy Griffin held a press conference to tell the world that the widespread backlash she has faced over the photo is part of a sexist campaign to destroy her career. “It’s a bunch of white guys trying to silence me,” she said. “This wouldn’t be happening to a guy. This is a woman thing.”  She also said “What’s  happening to me has never happened in the history of this great country. Which is that a sitting president of the United States and his grown children and the First Lady are personally, I feel, personally trying to ruin my life forever.”



The Art of Political War And the Art of a Political Response by The Elephant's Child

Republicans prefer their presidential candidates to be experienced governors who are practiced at dealing with difficult legislatures, lots of state agencies and troublesome problems that pop up unexpectedly—so when they are elected they can move into the White House more or less knowing what they are doing.

Democrats prefer glamorous candidates that they can admire. They fell in love with FDR, Jack Kennedy, Bill Clinton and Obama. Republicans seldom go to that extreme, though they have liked some better than others.

We elected Donald Trump, who, having spent his life in a very liberal New York City, is not as intense a Republican, or perhaps only lately a Republican. Nevertheless, he saw something disturbingly wrong with the Obama administration’s America, and he wants to fix it —  hence the “Make America Great Again” baseball caps and the “draining the swamp rhetoric.” He hit a chord in vast numbers of angry American voters.

The White House and the presidential job were a bit startling to this Chief Executive Officer of his own empire, It’s far more intense than he had expected. Democrats in the Senate slow-walked every appointment that they could. Maxine Waters got in front of every available camera to insist on impeaching the president. Selecting the best person for each cabinet post means lots of interviews, lots of recommendations to sort through, and at 120 days he has finally completed the appointments.

I can sort of imagine the problems. He has his campaign staff with him, but many of the most important cabinet officers are still new to him. Each of them must start right in with a brand new office of old Washington hands, some willing, many unfriendly leftovers. Many of the appointments seem to be outstanding. Nikki Haley has hit the ground running at the UN. Some of the new people aren’t Republicans at all. Suspicions abound. Old familiar staff and family and new staff are sizing each other up and trying to decide if they can possibly work together.

Congress is moving at a slow crawl. The news media is hostile and trying to make a catastrophe out of every word by, about and from the President. The Democrats cannot accept the verdict of the American people and are trying to bring down this president. There are “Never Trumpers” among the Republicans. The Democrats really struck pay-dirt when they found the 5 year old tape of the presidential candidate  making “locker-room comments” about women attracted to celebrities. Someone remarked that it was a “class issue”, and because of that comment, the elites determined that he was lower class, and thereby beyond the pale. Uneeded complications.

Trump is meeting with a wide variety of our most repellent foreign leaders in coming days, at his invitation. I think he just wants to size them up himself, rather than just rely on what he is being told. Some are disturbed that he is willing to meet with these heads of state.

The new staff is still sorting itself out and not satisfactorily. Some will be replaced, which will lead to further attacks from the Democrats. Staff dissension will be sorted out, communication will improve, and progress will be made. Bite your tongue. Allow the White House time to sort out the newness,  they are under attack in an unexpected war. We’ve got an outstanding bunch of people there. Use your annoyance and anger to attack the left’s unrelenting venom.

Democrats are unaccustomed to any possibility that Republicans might actually respond. They remind us frequently that Mitch McConnell said early in Obama’s first term that his number one goal was to make sure that Obama was a one-term president, and how rude and crass a comment! That was apparently the whole of the Republican attack on the new Democrat president. Republicans are far too polite to really go on offense. They need your help. Hang in there. Praise the successes, and try not to criticize the flops too much. They need your encouragement, not  your criticism. It’s still very early on.

 

 



The American Left Has Gone Very Wrong by The Elephant's Child

Over at The Federalist John Daniel Davidson wrote a piece headlined “The American Left is Talking Itself Into Violence”

Something is wrong with the American Left. The recent spate of violent protests on college campuses has been well-documented, but the violence and intolerance championed by left-wing student activists is beginning to creep off campus and into mainstream public life.

The reason for this is straightforward enough: although progressives pride themselves on their putative tolerance and diversity, the imperatives of leftist politics are fundamentally illiberal. Justice imposed through power is the philosophical foundation of the political left, and when earnest progressives become convinced the only avenue to power is violence, their tolerance quickly falls by the wayside.

The reason for it all is not the campuses, that’s just more evidence of the derangement. The Left lost the election. They have been astounded to learn that the popular vote does not count, and think that is highly unjust. They are unfamiliar with the reason the founders set our governance up that way, so that small enclaves with large populations cannot dominate the rest of the states. They were absolutely sure that Hillary’s win was a sure thing. They envisioned permanent Lefty rule with no annoyance from a failed Republican party, no stupid Tea Party, and their grand vision of a better world and intelligent governance by qualified elites would bring the dream of socialist perfection ever closer. They would be in control.

But they lost, Hillary lost, and to a man with orange skin and a weird haircut who said crude things. They lost the House — 69 seats, the Senate —13 seats, 910 state legislative seats, 30 legislative chambers. They were so enchanted with the first Black President. and his brilliance, and being in power, and doing all the things that were on the lefty agenda, that they simply didn’t notice that their president was doing a lousy job—doubled the national debt, doubled the debt per citizen, put another 10 million on food stamps, added an average of $6,000 to the cost of a family health insurance plan, and managed to make the world a far more dangerous place by portraying America as a weak, unreliable country. They still don’t understand that.

They awakened to a world in which their leaders were all—old. In their 70s and eighties. They had no deep bench of up-and-coming successful governors. States governed by Democrats are not successful. Many of their potential candidates are roundly disliked in their current posts. What can they do? Clearly, they must revert to their past victories in bringing down George W. Bush, destroying Nixon—they do know how to do that. They will impeach Donald Trump. He is so awful that they can surely find something to impeach him for.

Chucky Schumer, peering over his glasses, intoned: “We know Director Comey was leading an investigation in [sic] whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians, a serious offense. If there was ever a time when circumstances warranted a special prosecutor, it is now” Andy McCarthy responded “No it’s not. “ Hillary has attempted to blame her defeat on Russian collusion, but now it seems that murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich has sent 44,053 DNC emails to Wikileaks, though family and FBI sources discount that story. But it appears that the “Russian interference” may have been an inside job. And Russian interference was not why Hillary lost the election. She was unlikable, untrustworthy, and ran a lousy campaign.

If you read the Federalist piece on the Left talking itself into violence, you will find several examples where they have.  Representative Martha McSally, who represents the Arizona district where Rep Gabrielle Giffords was shot, has received serious death threats (he was going to shoot her between the eyes) from a Tucson school district employee who said “he was venting frustrations with congressional votes in support of the President of the United States. The article gives several other examples of people “inspired by the Resistance.”

The media isn’t even pointing out the fact that there’s a pattern forming, much less suggesting anyone else is ultimately responsible. That would be fine if they’d just stick to those rules the moment someone on the right does some crazy. But they won’t. There are two sets of rules for how these things are handled by the media.

The hard left media is increasingly irresponsible in their reporting, and  trying to make major news out of sketchy information. Law Professor and Hoover Institution fellow Richard Epstein took to the pages of Vox to say “Attention, liberals: Comey deserved to be fired and the Constitution is just fine. The hyperventilation in Washington is unjustified.”

Donald Trump won the election in part, because he promised to “Drain the swamp in Washington,” and there were a lot of Americans who thought that was a very good idea. As time passes, it becomes clear that it is not only a good idea, but very necessary.

 

 




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