American Elephants


New Twists in the Plot of Our Soap Opera! Can You Keep Up? by The Elephant's Child

It continues. There was an FBI mole in the Trump campaign.  The Inspector General’s report is due out soon. The FBI can’t tell the House Intelligence Committee who they are getting their information from, since it would be dangerous and people would die, but under pressure they are showing it to Nunes and Gowdy. The idea that the FBI planted a mole in the campaign which they opposed politically, is damning. Comey cannot stop babbling, and how did he ever get appointed Director anyway? So we have lost whatever respect for the FBI that we once had. They clearly cannot be trusted if they are playing politics with an election, and trying to effect the outcome, when they are supposed to be responsible public servants.

Hillary announced that she lost because she is a capitalist and the rest of the Democrats are socialists. Nancy Pelosi said the first thing they would do when they take over after the mid-terms is to raise taxes back to where they ought to be. Can’t have all this good economic news. The Deplorables might get ideas.

Questions have arisen over who is paying Avenatti, Stormy Daniels lawyer, and there are legal and ethical questions about how he got into Michael Cohen’s bank records, and how did he get records for two people named Michael Cohen who he wrongly accused in a seven-page dossier this week, and there are questions about a bankrupt Tully’s coffee chain and there is a legal complaint seeking Avenatti’s disbarment.

The Democrats want the Iran Deal back because legacy. California is going to require that all new homes install solar cells on their roofs because global warming, which will add at least $30,000 to the price of a new house,already so high nobody can afford to buy one and people are shipping out for anywhere where the cost of living is cheaper and Jerry Brown is not governor.

Our own legislature  here in Washington State has just wrapped up a session for “a stronger American democracy”, with automatic voter registration, which will allow more illegal aliens to vote.( A Border Patrol officer said they are happy to admit that they voted in the last election.) They also passed same-day voter registration, and voter pre-registration to let high school students make the decision to be voters and be ready to exercise their right to vote the very day they turn 18.
The 18 year-olds I know certainly should not be voting.

I’m tempted to make some snarky remark here, but real events are beyond snarky remarks. Perhaps we should drag out good old fashioned tar and feathers. That might even sway a few votes.

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The Deep State: A Landmine That Might Blow Up by The Elephant's Child

Here’s another must-read post from Victor Davis Hanson, from National Review    entitled “The Trump Land Mine.”

After the 2016 election, the so-called deep state was confident that it had the power easily to either stop, remove, or delegitimize the outlier Donald Trump and his presidency.

Give it credit, the Washington apparat quite imaginatively pulled out all the stops: implanting Obama holdover appointees all over the Trump executive branch; filing lawsuits and judge shopping; organizing the Resistance; pursuing impeachment writs; warping the FISA courts; weaponizing the DOJ and FBI; attempting to disrupt the Electoral College; angling for enactment of the 25th Amendment or the emoluments clause; and unleashing Hollywood celebrities, Silicon Valley, and many in Wall Street to suffocate the Trump presidency in its infancy.

But now the administrative state’s multifaceted efforts are starting to unwind, and perhaps even boomerang, on the perpetrators. If a federal judge should end up throwing out most of the indictments of Paul Manafort on the rationale that they have nothing much to do with the original mandate of the special counsel’s office, or if Michael Flynn’s confession to giving false statements is withdrawn successfully because the FBI politicized its investigation and FISA courts were misled in approving the surveillance of Flynn, then the Mueller investigation will implode.

The rest is here.



Nancy Pelosi Wants to Raise Your Taxes, Among Other Things. by The Elephant's Child

I have long believed that Democrats simply don’t understand economics at all, but day by day it is becoming clear that is not only true, but drastically underestimates the situation.

Only today, a confident House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) predicted that in the upcoming ‘mid-terms’ in November, Democrats will take back the House and immediately push for amnesty for the so-called ‘Dreamers’ and more gun control legislation. She said that Democrats would “revisit” Donald Trump’s tax cuts and push for an infrastructure bill to “build the infrastructure of America—housing, schools, bridges, water.” You will note that “infrastructure” is always the magic word. She also spoke about building the country’s “human infrastructure,” including education and health care for young people and pension security for their families. She said Democrats will run on “fairness and justice.” Sure they will.

Bernie Sanders goes even farther. He advocates government jobs for everyone, free college, free healthcare, family leave, more generous social security, and probably lots more free stuff, but I couldn’t write that fast.

How does that work? Of course, it doesn’t. Democrats believe that they are the smartest people in the country. Hillary explained quite seriously that they were the enlightened, brilliant, caring and the people who voted for Trump were retarded, ignorant, racist backwoods “deplorables.” (She also said innocently that she had used that line at all her campaign meetings in the Hamptons and everybody thought it was a funny line.)

Back to economics. Guess which economic forecaster accurately predicted growth in 2017? Back at the end of February, the White House released the annual Economic Report of the President. Democrats like Jason Furman who served as the top economic adviser in the Obama White House, say President Trump’s forecasts were way too optimistic.  Mr. Trump says his tax cuts and deregulation will restore robust growth, and Mr. Furman called the Trump estimates “absurd.” James Freeman at the Wall Street Journal referred reporters to the report in which the Trump team predicted 2.3% real economic growth for the calendar year 2017. Which was right on the button.

How do you make an economy grow? Obviously something has to change. In the past the great moves forward have come in response to major innovation:  the Erie Canal opened the Midwest, the telegraph connected the coasts, the continental railroad, and now the internet and information technology. Trump has cut taxes for everyone, but the budget is still way too big and the national debt isn’t any smaller and Trump wants to build a wall clear across the southern border.

Quietly, Trump has begun to whittle away at the power and permanence of the ruling class by slashing regulations and limiting powers that Congress foolishly allowed the state to take over. The bureaucracy has a say over nearly every aspect of American private and commercial life with no accountability. Democrats are screaming bloody murder over Scott Pruitt’s actions at the EPA—sure that he is destroying the environment. He is not.

The EPA had moved to enhance government control over — the nation’s “navigable waters” which they construed as anything that flowed from your downspout into a stream that flowed into a river that eventually made it into a real navigable water. That’s an enormous amount of “control.” Bureaucracies issue “guidance documents” that provide business with directions about how to comply with the law. Sounds innocent, but Congress makes the law and leaves it up to the bureaucrats to implement them, so their suggestions pretty much have the power of law. For business, the removal of overbearing, useless regulations has been huge, because useless regulations come with a cost of compliance. Apply that freedom across the government, and no wonder business is passing out bonuses and raising salaries and having the money and freedom to expand and innovate.

Bad news for Democrats and the anti Trump mob. Jobless claims are near a 45 year low, job openings are near a record high, and growing shortages of skilled labor are forcing companies to increase pay or improve benefits to attract or retain employees according to Market Watch. The lead Democrats had at the end of last year is gone. Issues like gun control and immigration are not working. Most voters are crediting Trump, not Obama, with the strong economy.

The Mueller probe is falling apart as a federal judge has raised concern over the scope of Robert Mueller’s investigation. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson questioned whether Rosenstein’s “directive appointing Mueller granted him more authority than Justice Department regulations appear to permit” because Justice Department rules require that a special counsel be notified of a “specific factual matter” to pursue. Mueller’s team were even searching Manafort’s home and storage locker before Rosenstein broadened the special counsel’s purview in an August 2017 memo. The Nunes Committee is finally getting the information they have been seeking after threats of impeachment and disgrace, and it’s not pretty. Stormy Daniels was supposed to be the final nail in the Trump coffin, but it appears that the Trump voters don’t really care about an aging porn star.

Republicans are not inclined to fall in love with presidents. They approve or disapprove of what the administration is doing. They recognize American presidents as simply ordinary men with all the flaws and faults that means—called upon for a special job, and hope that they will measure up and do at least part of what needs doing. And we call upon the Constitution to keep them in line and instruct them in how to do the job. We seem to know a little more history than the Left does, and recognize that the desire for ever more control leads inevitably to tyranny. Freedom is messy. People say things that you don’t like, they argue, they may call you names, they try to regulate, to tell you what to do, to force you to do it their way — but to be free, to pass freedom on to your children, you have to tolerate a little mess.



New York City 1911 by The Elephant's Child

1911. An immaculately preserved film of New York City. (The speed has been corrected and sound added for ambiance.) The film was taken by the Swedish company Svenska Biografteatern on a trip to America.

What happened in 1911? Roald Amundsen reached the South Pole. Marie Curie won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. Charles F. Kettering (US) developed the first practical electrical self-starter for automobiles. Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre (found in 1913 in Italy).  Irving Berlin published “Alexander’s Ragtime Band.” Winston S. Churchill was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty.



Venezuelan Oil Can No Longer Support a Communist Government by The Elephant's Child

Some of you might remember when Venezuela was a beautiful and prosperous nation. But Americans mostly don’t pay that much attention to South America, I suppose because of the language barrier, which is why we pay more attention to our English-speaking allies, and Europe.

The proven oil reserves in Venezuela are recognized as the largest in the world, totaling 297 billion barrels, as of January 1, 2014. In early 2011 the Venezuelan government under Hugo Chavez announced that the nation’s oil reserves had surpassed those of Saudi Arabia, the long-term leader. OPEC said the Saudi reserves stood at 265 billion in 2009.

Wikipedia says “Venezuela’s development of its oil reserves has been affected by political unrest in recent years. In late 2002, nearly half the workers at the state oil company PDVSA went on strike, after which the company fired 18,000 of them.” I think it has been pretty well proven that “state owned” is not a particularly good idea, nor is business trying to play politics.

Reuters reported that state-owned PDVSA is completely falling apart, with workers walking off the job at a frightening pace. The conditions for oil workers have been deteriorating for years with shortages of food, unsafe working conditions, and hyperinflation destroying the value of paychecks. President Nicolas Maduro has sacked the head of PDVSA and handed control to the military in order to keep the armed forces on his side. Major General Manuel Quevado has only accelerated the decline. Apparently every Venezuelan military officer has a Cuban minder.

Venezuelan oil is a very heavy crude, which needs more in the way of refining than light crude, but Venezuelan refineries are breaking down from neglect and lack of investment.

Reuters reports that about 25,000 workers have quit PDVSA between January 2017 and January 2018, a staggering sum. PDVSA employs roughly 146,000 people. Thousands of workers are walking off of job sites, fed up with going to work hungry, putting their lives at risk at rickety refineries, all for a paycheck that fails to cover even the most basic expenses.

Fires have broken out, and the loss of both top-level engineers and managers as well as experienced workers means the losses will only get worse. Refineries are falling apart, and ports are reducing operations because of a lack of workers.

PDVSA accounts for about half the nation’s oil production — the rest are joint ventures. Last Tuesday, Chevron said that two of its workers were arrested. Chevron has not fled the country as many of its peers have, but the arrests may change matters. This is the first direct hit on an international company operating in Venezuela. At some point the costs of operating will become too high. The amount of oil available on the market will decline, the price of oil will increase. Maduro’s grip on the nation will become even more shaky. There’s not that much more available for him to squeeze.



Life’s Little Surprises Always Await Us. by The Elephant's Child

In the Wall Street Journal today, James Freeman brought up the historic tax reform that Trump signed in December may turn out to be his finest hour, ‘trumping’ even  the firing of James Comey. So many companies have reported positive news from the tax law, even though it’s barely four months old.  The Journal calculated that the four giants of American retail banking— JPMorgan, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Bank of America have saved a total of $2.3 billion in the first quarter thanks to the new federal corporate tax rate of 21%, down from 35%.

Is that a big deal? Nancy Pelosi is arguing that the tax cut is a useless disaster, and when the Democrats get back in they will promptly raise taxes back to where they should be. (This is a campaign promise? Why?)

Wages have been growing. “Kroger, Walmart, Target Corp. and other food retailers are investing savings from the federal tax law to boost worker pay and benefits, ” the Journal reported recently. John Kartch at the advocacy group Americans for Tax Reform has been keeping a running tally of businesses (now 507) responding to their lower tax bills by announcing pay raises, bonuses, and higher 401K matches. The good news began to arrive almost as soon as President Trump signed the legislation.

Democrats seem to have a hard time getting their minds around the basic consequences of economic incentives. The Labor Department has reported that this is oficially the best job market for those seeking work in the history of  U.S. government statistics. Lefties are quite sure that the best results come from soaking the rich, by which they seem to mean the Koch Brothers, rather than themselves and their friends and supporters.

Ann Althouse notes that a new WaPo poll “finds that the gap between support for Deocatic vs. Republican House candidates dropped more than half since the beginning of the year.” A WaPo/ABC News poll found that 78 percent of registered voters considered voting for a candidate whose views on gun rights and gun control matched their own was either very or extremely important. 21% said it was somewhat or not important at all.

Investors Business Daily reported in an editorial on the macroeconomic effects of the tax reform bill. The Congressional Budget Office admitted that they had vastly overestimated the cost of the Trump tax cuts, because it didn’t account for the strong economic growth they would generate.

In any case, the CBO now expects GDP to be $6.1 trillion bigger by 2027 than it did before the tax cuts.

The CBO report also makes clear that this faster-growing economy will offset most of the costs of the Trump tax cuts.

In a table buried in the appendix of the CBO report, it shows that, before accounting for economic growth, the tax cuts Trump signed into law late last year would cut federal revenues by $1.69 trillion from 2018-2027.

But it goes on to say that higher rate of GDP growth will produce $1.1 trillion in new revenues. In other words, 65% of the tax cuts are paid for by extra economic growth.

Well, goodness. There might just be some reason to question conventional wisdom. The Center for Immigration Studies reported a few weeks ago that Trump’s Wall on our Southern Border would, over time, pay for itself, because illegal immigrants add a lot of cost with their dependence on welfare, crime, benefits and health care.  Who knew?  One can only urge Ms. Pelosi to keep railing about the necessity of raising taxes.

Among other surprises, a previously unknown asteroid the size of a football field had a near miss with Earth on Sunday. It came within one half of the distance to the moon.  It was the largest known asteroid to pass that close to Earth in observational history. Life always has interesting little surprises for us, even if we are paying attention.



We Aren’t Recognizing the Anger and Despair! by The Elephant's Child

Former FBI  Director James Comey’s new book is being released today, and he will be on a long book tour trying to push the book. He hates President Trump, whines like a 9-year-old, and reflects badly on the organization that he formerly headed. He expected Hillary to win, his wife was really excited about having a female president. He has not behaved well, and serious FBI people are concerned for the reputation of the agency.

Democrats clearly expected Hillary to win, but for the most part they seem to be pretty much done with her. I think that it wasn’t so much Hillary’s loss, but that red map of all the counties in the country that went for Trump. I suspect that they didn’t even consider the possibility that Trump might win, it was unthinkable. All those Republicans, a despicable bunch, and most of the Democrats had particular Republicans to hate, but the idea that Trump could triumph attacked all of their sureties, their world view, the things he espoused were beyond the pale — cutting taxes, closing the border.

Republicans aren’t all that inclined to fall in love with presidents. They recognize that presidents are only ordinary men, with all the flaws and faults of ordinary men, perhaps a little more so, when they suddenly become “the leader of the free world.” The “Never Trumpers”, certified members of the ruling class, were appalled by his tweeting, although many of them were on Twitter as well, but a president—tweeting? Clearly beneath the dignity of the office! His speech offended! Dan Bongino, who is from Queens, said Trump talked like someone from Queens who was in the construction trade. Trump told the people what he thought, and who he did not like nor trust. Beneath the dignity…

Barack Obama was, as someone said—a real good talker. Flowery words, designed to rouse the emotions, but fairly devoid of meaning. But people were thrilled, including the Nobel Prize committee, Not much follow through.

I think it’s that map. The Democrats lost control of practically everything, a huge,  immense loss. Their reason for everything is control. They are the intelligentsia. They are destined to run everything as soon as they dispose of the annoying Republicans. They went to the best schools, they run the biggest companies, they have the most billionaires, and all the movie stars, and the Republicans are backwoods people, racists, sexists, deplorables from flyover country. Who even knows what is down there when you fly from one enlightened coast to the other? Hillary thought it was her due, her destiny. She’s still out complaining, but the Democrats are done with her, and looking for someone who can restore their rightful place in the universe.  Joe Biden?




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