American Elephants


It’s a Big Job, How Do You Start? by The Elephant's Child

Over at National Review, David French explains what a monumental job reducing the reach of the regulatory state is.

At present, the vast and bloated executive branch — existing through its alphabet soup of agencies such as the EPA, IRS, DOE, ATF, and the like — intrudes into virtually every aspect of American life. It regulates your workplace, your home, your car, and your kids’ school. It’s staffed by legions of bureaucrats who enjoy job security that private-sector employees can only dream of, and it’s granted legal authority by the Supreme Court to interpret its own governing statutes and expand the scope of its own authority. In its own spheres of influence, it often acts as legislator, prosecutor, and judge. …

To dismantle the administrative state, the executive and legislative branches will have to act against their perceived political interests. The executive will have to intentionally surrender power, and the legislature will have to accept accountability. In other words, Donald Trump — as a matter of formal policy — will have to abandon an ideology that says he “alone” can fix this nation, and the legislature will have to embrace the reality of casting hard votes, day after day and week after week. Let’s not forget, the administrative state exists in large part because Congress has intentionally abdicated authority. It passes extraordinarily broad bills that empower executive-branch agencies to write even more law and impose even more restrictions. Congress goes home and says, “We voted for clean air,” while the EPA does all the heavy lifting to define what that really means. Or Congress says, “We voted for banking reform and better markets,” while an array of agencies promulgate rule after rule affecting companies from coast to coast. Congress takes credit for its intentions. It blames others for the outcomes.

To dismantle the administrative state, the executive and legislative branches will have to act against their perceived political interests. The executive will have to intentionally surrender power, and the legislature will have to accept accountability. In other words, Donald Trump — as a matter of formal policy — will have to abandon an ideology that says he “alone” can fix this nation, and the legislature will have to embrace the reality of casting hard votes, day after day and week after week. Let’s not forget, the administrative state exists in large part because Congress has intentionally abdicated authority. It passes extraordinarily broad bills that empower executive-branch agencies to write even more law and impose even more restrictions. Congress goes home and says, “We voted for clean air,” while the EPA does all the heavy lifting to define what that really means. Or Congress says, “We voted for banking reform and better markets,” while an array of agencies promulgate rule after rule affecting companies from coast to coast. Congress takes credit for its intentions. It blames others for the outcomes.

Do read the whole thing:



Beware of the Progressives’ Language Games. by The Elephant's Child

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One of the things that is hardest to understand today are the language games being played. We’ve all become familiar with the previous administration’s not just reluctance, but refusal, to utter the words Radical Islamic Terrorism, or any similar reference. With major attacks in Paris and Germany the terrorism part is hard to escape, but the problem is any insinuation that terror is connected to religion, in spite of the fact that the Koran makes it fairly clear. Refusing to name things accurately is a political tactic.

We are now in a middle phase of the immigration game. Yesterday was supposed to be “A Day Without Immigrants” proving that we just can’t get along without all the things an immigrant does for us. It was pretty much a flop because nobody paid attention, but the attempt is just one small item in a much larger program.

In all the ranting and ravings, nobody seems to clarify the difference which is huge, immense and important between legal immigrants and illegal immigrants. The Left’s attempt to suggest that anyone who opposes illegal immigration hates immigrants is ridiculous, but that’s what they are doing. Obama has effectively left the border wide open. Executive orders offered amnesty to immigrants. Refugees were placed in districts where a distinct change in population numbers would be advantageous to Democrats at the polls. Since new citizens, or those who vote illegally usually vote Democratic, they were put in those states and counties where it would affect the vote most. Except, of course in the case of Cuban refugees who could be counted on to vote Republican, and they were returned to Cuba for reeducation.

You have surely heard the phrase “We are a nation of immigrants” repeated endlessly. Well, sure, in one sense even the Native Americans are immigrants from Siberia, but in actuality, we are a nation of citizens. Immigrants are here either legally or illegally, and legal immigrants can eventually become citizens with full constitutional rights when they have passed the citizenship test and gone through the naturalization ceremony where they forswear their allegiance to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty was before a citizen.

I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.

The important thing to notice is the attempt to conflate legal immigration and illegal immigration by suggesting that all immigration is good and illegals are entitled to the same benefits, same regulations and same rewards. Those who have crossed the border illegally, or who have overstayed their visas or student visas are taking unfair advantage of those who have applied legally and are waiting patiently for their turn— around 4.4 million people.

The idea seems to be to make everyone believe that America is the great benefactor of all mankind with open borders and welcome for all those who are unhappy with their present circumstances. It has reached the point where anyone who utters the words “illegal immigrants” is likely to wonder if that makes them a bad person. That is the purpose of these word games.

The refusal to utter the words “Radical Islamic Terrorism” is part of the effort to install “Islamophobia” high on the list of personal sins, and to make Obama’s disastrous Iran Deal somehow palatable, which it is not. You can ask yourself why Iran is working so hard to develop nuclear weapons, and intercontinental ballistic missiles? A look at a map of the Middle East makes that fairly clear. They mean those shouts of “Death to America”. Obama believed that the intransigence in the Middle East was entirely  because of our interference in the region (Bush’ s fault) and if he just made nice and turned the Middle East over to Iran to manage, all would be well, which is ludicrous. If you are cowed by societal disapproval, afraid to be labeled Islamophobic, they have accomplished their purpose.

There is a reason why protesters and their signs scream ‘Fascist’, ‘Nazi’,’Racist’,’Islamophobe, Homophobe, ‘Deplorables’, ‘Obstructionists’,”Tea Baggers’,’Deniers’ and other similar epithets. The Conservative response is often  tax cuts or some other economic fact, often long and confusing.  Republicans or Conservatives are not so much interested in calling names, but in principles. They are usually talking about free markets or free people, Liberty — the Constitution, that sort of thing. Democrats do not talk about principles because they just don’t think that way, and they don’t have any.

Obama will return to Washington D.C. to oversee the operations of OFA, (Organizing for Action, formerly Obama for America) his 30,000 strong army of young community organizers in training. Paul Sperry has been writing at the New York Post about Obama’s plans for sabotaging the Trump presidency. So far they have been ordered out to disrupt every Republican office holder’s Town Halls as “enraged constituents” terrified that the Republicans are going to take away their ObamaCare. The press obligingly covers it as enraged constituents without any idea that they are being had. It’s easy, sabotaging the Trump presidency.

Just don’t assume that any of this hooplah is spontaneous righteous indignation. All is carefully planned, and most is well subsidized. I only recently realized the reason why all these leftist groups have significant names, and organization. You can’t write a check to an unnamed or spontaneous group.  And they do have sponsors who write significant checks.

 



Socialism is Being Played Out in The News. Do Try to Pay Attention. by The Elephant's Child

101002-mall-libs7In the latest news from our socialist neighbor to the south, Venezuela, so broke that they cannot even sell their oil because they can’t afford to ship it. Now, starving Venezuelans are eating cats, dogs, donkeys and even pink flamingos in an effort to survive. They are even killing giant anteaters for food.  This is sheer desperation caused by rampant inflation and chronic shortages that have plagued the country for over two years.

Here’s everything you need to know about Venezuela’s experiment with socialism. When socialist dictator Hugo Chavez died in 2013, he left an estate valued at two billion dollars.



#Black Lives Matter Seems to Be Remarkably Uninterested in The Lives of Poor Black Kids by The Elephant's Child

Oooops! Black Lives Matter just exposed their organization as entirely political, and not much interested in the lives of black children. Betsy DeVos, newly confirmed Secretary of Education, was blocked from attempting to enter the Jefferson Academy middle school in Washington DC by Black Lives Matter protesters blocking he way and heckling, reportedly organized by the Washington Teacher’s Union.

The Alliance For Educational Justice claimed,  “Today, families, residents and community leaders joined to block U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos from disrupting learning at Jefferson Academy.”

“Betsy DeVos has a track record of privatizing and undermining public schools that serve Black students for financial gain,” said Makia Green, an organizer with the Washington, DC chapter of Black Youth Project 100. “Today’s action made it clear: our community will do everything in our power to resist DeVos‘ destructive policies and her attacks on an entire generation of Black students.”

DeVos responded in a statement following the incident saying, ” I respect peaceful protest, and I will not be deterred in executing the vital mission of the Department of Education. No school door in America will be blocked from those seeking to help our nation’s school children.”

The reason that Betsy DeVos was nominated to be Secretary of Education is that she has been a long time advocate for poor black children trapped in poor schools, and pushes for charter schools as the best answer to the need for parents to have a voice in their children’s education.

There is a lot of misunderstanding about “charter schools.” Charter schools are public schools. Some presume that because of the word “charter” that they are somehow private schools. Not so. Those who wish to start a charter  must develop an educational plan to submit to the state, and when their plan is made public—gather enough interest to make a separate school viable. They may have more freedom from federal and state regulation than regular public schools.

A study reported in Forbes in 2014 showed evidence that charter high schools had 7-11%  higher graduation rates than their public school peers, boosted college enrollment rates by 10-11 percent, were more apt to complete at least 3 years of post-secondary education, and charter school attendance was associated with an increase in maximum annual earnings between ages 23 and 35 years of age, about 12.7% higher than those who attended a traditional high school.

Different states have different rules. Charter schools usually operate on a smaller budget—but better ideas, teachers are often paid less (because they get to really teach—some teachers go for it) (a big part of the reason that teacher’s unions oppose charter schools and charter teachers are not necessarily members of the unions). Like much in American life, schools operate under far more rules than they used to. I’m not sure if all states even have charter schools. New Orleans has the highest percentage of students in charter schools, over 90%. Here are five facts about charters from the Reason Foundation, in simple graph form.

Here in Washington State, the state teacher’s union lobby has fought endlessly to ensure that all public funds are given only to traditional public schools. As the populous Seattle area is reliably Lefty, the Supreme Court broke with the precedent set by six other states that faced similar battles, ignored the vast amount of evidence that charter schools improve academic outcomes for students, ignored the over one million students currently on wait lists for admission to charter schools, and their parents who favor charters, and ruled that public funding of charter schools was unconstitutional. The legislature has found funding from Lottery revenue for charters, but the state should work to ensure that funding follows the children, not the teacher’s unions. A better education means so much to minority children trapped in failing schools that it is particularly interesting to see Black Lives Matter opposing charter schools and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

You have perhaps noticed that leftists seem to always appear in organized groups — Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, the list goes on and on, but when you get down to what they actually advocate, it’s often just hard-left politics, not black lives, nor $15 an hour, nor economic equality.

A group of 160 black education leaders are fighting against the NAACP’s proposed stance against charter schools, which shows the diversity of views of charters.

An article from AEI last August tries to offer some clarity on the battles, showing that advocates of different positions are relying on different evidence, and doesn’t clarify anything at all.

More troubling is a report from the Minneapolis/St Paul Star Tribune on the trend for violence in the public schools, and the dangers that teachers face. School disciplinary policies have removed many consequences for bad behavior in response to liberal demands for an ideology of “equity.” In St. Paul schools in 2010-11, “15 percent of the district’s black students were suspended at least once — five times more than white students. This racial differential mirrors those in schools across the Twin Cities and throughout the nation…. St. Paul school leaders have assumed that differences in discipline rates are the result, not of higher rates of misconduct by black students, but of the racism of teachers and administrators, who are believed to unfairly target black students.” To eliminate statistical disparities, they abandoned meaningful penalties. I read a lot, but I haven’t seen much reporting on violence in schools—just enough to suggest that it is perhaps far more prevalent than is realized. Do read this whole article if you care about kids and education.

Betsy DeVos has long been a passionate advocate for poor black children facing failing schools, and suggests that more charters will help. It’s a big job and I certainly wish her well. Progressives believe that all things are better done  by the federal government, with themselves in control of the government.  Conservatives believe that there are few things that the federal government can do satisfactorily, and that most tasks should be devolved to the states, or to the closest government to the people who are affected by the tasks. That old “We the People” thing.



Notable and Quotable by The Elephant's Child

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Daniel Hannan, Member of the European Parliament:

I have struggled for years to explain that politicians who cant about fairness don’t mean equal treatment or justice, or indeed, any practical outcome whatsoever. What they really mean is that they’re nice people. and they’re prepared to prove how nice they are with your money.

John Steele Gordon: An Empire of Wealth

This willingness to accept present discomfort and risk for the hope of future riches that so characterized these immigrants, and the millions who would follow over the next two centuries, has made a profound, if immeasurable effect on the history of the American economy. Just as those who saw no conflict between worshiping God and seeking earthly success in the seventeenth century, those who sought economic independence in the eighteenth had a powerful impact on the emerging American culture.

John Steele Gordon: ibid

Masterpieces created by a committee are notably few in number, but the United States Constitution is certainly one of them. Amended only twenty-seven times in 215 years, it came into being just as the world was about to undergo the most profound—and continuing—period of economic change the human race has known. The locus of power in the American economy has shifted from sector to sector as that economy has developed. Whole sections of the country have risen and fallen in economic importance. New methods of doing business and economic institutions undreamed of by the Founding Fathers have come into existence in that time, while others have vanished. Fortunes beyond the imagination of anyone living in the pre-industrial world have been built and destroyed. And yet the Constitution endures, and the country continues to flourish under it.



The Summing-Up: At Some Point Reality Appears by The Elephant's Child

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People generally liked Barack Obama. He was handsome, stylish, clearly a good family man and cared deeply about his daughters. I’m not sure if he liked his dogs, but he put up with them for his daughters’ sake.

When it came to the economy, it gradually became clear that he didn’t know what he was doing, nor did his advisors. It’s not clear to what extent he listened to advisors. He remarked more than once that he knew more about speeches than his speechwriters, and more about most any subject than the experts he picked. There is a suspicion that he really meant that.

So what we ended the Obama presidency with was a fairly high approval rating because people liked him, and a very terrible approval rating on the right direction/wrong direction part. He will return from his post-inauguration vacation soon, and we can expect him to have forgotten completely George W. Bush’s polite silence to give the new guy a chance to do his best.

Progressives can’t help themselves. They want to control, to regulate, and to fix ordinary human nature, unfortunately they want to do it with other people’s money. To fix things and make themselves feel good about what they are doing, they want to do lots of welfare, but they can’t manage to take away enough of the money of the well-off to make the not well-off equal, which was their goal.  It never works, but the lure of socialism seems eternal.

Venezuela, out of toilet paper and most anything usually found on store shelves, can’t afford to deliver the oil which they have in abundance to anyone who might pay them for it. They are dead broke. Another lesson in why socialism never, never works, but the enthusiasts won’t learn it this time either.



There’s a Lot to be Said for the Power of Optimism by The Elephant's Child

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The British People voted last year to leave the European Union in a vote that has come to be called “BREXIT” or British exit. Mrs. May said forthrightly that she was not in favor of leaving, but if that is what the British People voted for, that is what she would do.

The British High Court said the Prime Minister would have to get a vote of the Parliament in order to do so, and on Wednesday they voted to allow Prime Minister Theresa May to start Brexit negotiations with the European Union. The European Union Bill passed with 498 votes to 114. The Bill will still have to go to the House of Lords before becoming law. May has set a March 31 deadline for invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and beginning exit formalities with the European Union.

The Scottish National Party attempted to block the bill before the vote. Forty-seven members of the Labour Party MPs revolted against the Labor Party’s leadership and voted against the bill.

Staying in the single market would require Britain to continue contributing to the Brussels budget, accept EU economic rules and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, and admit levels of immigration that have become politically unacceptable. Remainers said these concessions were worth making, but voters disagreed and they must be respected.

Some European countries want to punish Britain, and drive the hardest bargain possible.  Mrs. May has argued for a clean break, as that is the only way for London to negotiate its own trade deals with the rest of the world.

The smart play is for both to help the other succeed….The biggest threat to the EU isn’t a Britain that succeeds outside the common market. It is an EU that keeps failing to provide the economic prosperity demanded by its frustrated citizens. What drove Britain from the EU was the Continent’s failure on immigration control, fighting terrorism and delivering jobs and rising incomes.

To put it another way, Mrs. May is telling Britons they’re embarking on another great chapter in self-government. The Brits helped invent the idea, so they know what it takes.

Daniel Hannan is a member of the European Parliament who went to the European Parliament urging the abolition of the place. He said “It’s difficult to begin to understand the imbalance of forces in our recent debate and referendum. Every broadcaster, every political party, every bank, every big corporation, every trade association, every think tank, every EU-funded university, the whole of the establishment was telling us that it was a matter of national survival to stay in the EU. That it would be calamitous for us if we left. And people didn’t believe it. On June 23, they politely disregarded all the advice, all the bullying, all the hectoring, all the threats, and they voted to become a self-governing country again.”

He added “Americans voted Leave in 1776, and from where I’m standing, it seems to have worked out OK for you.”




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