American Elephants


Ideology Overrides Common Sense And Law. by The Elephant's Child

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Donald Trump got a lot of support from his announced plan to build a “Great Big Wall and make Mexico pay for it.” The commentariat reacted immediately with cries of racism and xenophobia, (the fear of anything new or different), but in fact, countries all over the world are reacting to migrants with new fences or walls. Turkey’s new Syrian border fence will have a smart tower every 1,000 feet featuring “a three-language alarm system and automate firing systems” supported by zeppelin drones.

Israel’s Separation Barrier with the West Bank has been hotly debated. There is a Moroccan Wall in the Western Sahara. The Great Wall of Jordan (costs half a billion dollars), and Kenya has an anti-terror wall on its Somalia border.

Saudi Arabia is building a 600 mile “Great Wall” to protect against border infiltrators from Iraq that begin with sand berms, twin chain link fences with razor wire 100m apart separated by concertina fence, then 40 watchtowers equipped with radar and daylight cameras, command-and-control centers, 38 separate communication towers and 32 military response stations. They are serious, but ISIS regards the capture of Saudi Arabia home to the”Two Holy Mosques” of Mecca and Medina, as a key goal.

Many of the EU states are erecting border fences, but those who consider the nation-state to be a fiction, and who sneer at border fences as attempting to keep the barbarians out, note that “barbarians can be defined however the wall -builders desire.” Technology is dismissed as a leftover Cold War trend. An essay from UPI suggests since the advent of the War on Terror, border barriers have been framed as a state’s response to terrorist acts, but are a distorted mirror image of terrorist intentions. Building a wall is easier for a more authoritarian state, and part of a policy framework that includes state-sanctioned repression. But then Evelyn Gordon reports at Commentary about the 13 year-old Israeli-American who was murdered in her bed this morning, stabbed to death by a Palestinian teenager.

I would submit that people are by nature tribal. The Middle East is deeply divided by tribes who all seem to be fighting each other. People who share a language, a background and customs are apt to stick together. America was settled by tribes or groups who settled together, the British in new England, the Dutch in New Amsterdam, the Germans in Germantown, members of  religious sects came together. Many were despised when they first arrived, but assimilated, integrated and intermarried — and then they formed new tribes, barn builders,  quilters, musicians and horse breeders and so on and on.

Victor Davis Hanson wrote recently  that “The history of nations is mostly characterized by ethnic and racial uniformity, not diversity.”

Most national boundaries reflected linguistic, religious, and ethnic homogeneity. Until the late 20th century, diversity was considered a liability, not a strength. …

Many societies created words to highlight their own racial purity. At times, “Volk” in German and “Raza” in Spanish (and “Razza” in Italian) meant more than just shared language, residence, or culture; those words also included a racial essence. Even today, it would be hard for someone Japanese to be fully accepted as a Mexican citizen, or for a native-born Mexican to migrate and become a Japanese citizen …

America is history’s exception. It began as a republic founded by European migrants. Like the homogenous citizens of most other nations, they were likely on a trajectory to incorporate racial sameness as the mark of citizenship. But the ultimate logic of America’s unique Constitution was different. So the United States steadily evolved to define Americans by their shared values, not by their superficial appearance. Eventually, anyone who was willing to give up his prior identity and assume a new American persona became American.

Consider the agenda of the Obama administration. Diversity is to be enforced, including forcing suburbs to accept people from the inner city, and forcing people from the inner city to relocate to unfamiliar suburbs. Refugees are to be planted in communities across the country. Idaho just got 7 refugees with active Tuberculosis (TB), following seven other states who have reported active TB among refugees resettled in their states. Of 4,650 refugees resettled in Idaho between 2011 and 2015 — 896 tested positive for latent TB infection. TB is a very serious disease. It had been nearly eradicated. And TB is just one of the diseases that Obama is quite deliberately spreading around the country in the name of ideology.

Illegal alien unaccompanied children have been sent to every state, including Alaska and Hawaii.  Attempting to reach some ideological goal by forcing diversity of race and ethnicity in the name of achieving “equality” goes against the natural inclinations of the people involved — to solve a solely political goal of the administration. A goal that seems to be mostly about making themselves feel noble and important, because it certainly has nothing to do with the people and what they want.



Well, Yes. And Then There Was Waterloo! by The Elephant's Child

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It May Take a Bit of Time for the Panic to Subside by The Elephant's Child

Britain’s stock market had erased all of its BREXIT panic losses, fueled by as surge in energy and financial shares. It had slumped 8.7% after the vote to leave the EU. May be more ups and downs as investors absorb the uncertainty about how it will all turn out. Markets don’t like uncertainty.

The President of the E.U. Parliament, Martin Schultz, got all huffy. “The British have violated the rules. It is not the #EU philosophy that the crowd can decide it’s fate.”

Europeans have never understood and never liked Democracy. They have been ruled by Kings and Queens and Dictators and the Church— and allowing the people to decide is mostly unthinkable. I have particularly liked Matt Ridley’s suggestion that when the individual is free to think and create and experiment, you get ideas having sex. Ideas build on other ideas. A new picture, someone else’s new idea may spark something completely different. “Having sex” is as good a way to describe it as any. What kills creation is regulation. The more stoppers a government erects, the less innovation.

Did you wonder why we never seemed to recover from the 2008 recession? The growth of government and the proliferation of regulation, especially on small business, which is where much innovation is hatched.

Few other countries have ever had the free markets and free people that  have traditionally been found in America. And then there is Switzerland. (click to enlarge)

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The Private Sector Fires Incompetents. The Feds Reward Them! by The Elephant's Child

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It was only a day or two ago that I wrote “The federal government has too many people working for the government, and there isn’t enough work for them to do. Government workers make 78%  more for comparable jobs, according to Cato. They call themselves “public servants,” but they don’t mean it. When they start to think of the U.S. Constitution as an impediment rather than a guarantee that the government belongs to the people and the public servants are there to work for us, not the other way around, we’re in trouble. So here we are.”

Federal workers make on average nearly twice as much as those in the private sector, but government employee unions want a pay increase more than three times larger than President Barack Obama proposed.
The American Federation of Government Employees, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, American Postal Workers’ Union and 20 other unions representing federal workers sent a letter to Congress seeking a 5.3 percent pay hike next year. President Obama proposed a 1.6 percent raise.

How about a 10% pay cut to bring them more into line with the rest of the country?  If you include benefits, the average federal employee earns about $119,000 annually, including salary and benefits compared to the private sector average of $67,000. (an October 2015 study by the Cato Institute) If you add in health care and pensions, it’s even a bigger gap.

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All the workers in the federal government are, according to the federal government — above average. This rating of worker performance is clearly absurd, as anyone who has ever had contact with a federal bureaucrat can attest. But a review of federal worker performance ratings by the GAO found that 99.5% of them got a “fully successful” rating or above. More than a third were given the highest rating of “outstanding.” At the other end of the ratings only 0.4% were rated as “minimally successful” and 0.1% as “unacceptable.”

Don’t everybody rush to get a government job at once. These “fully successful” workers “blew $2 billion on a botch Healthcare.gov website, made more than $100 billion in overpayments to go to government beneficiaries, run the TSA, fired veterans unto deadly wait lists for care, allowed their databases to be hacked, spent over 10 years and $1 billion trying to digitize 100 immigration forms only to get just one done.” And the list goes on — and on.

It is not just hard to fire a federal employee, but nearly impossible to rate them as anything less than “fully successful.” A manager who does must spend significant time developing performance improvement plans. Workers who don’t get a gold star can and do appeal their ratings by filing a union grievance with the Merit Systems Protection Board. That may be another agency we could do without.

The private sector has a direct financial interest in weeding out bad apples, and accurately assessing worker performance. Those incentives just don’t exist in the government. Failure usually results in bigger budgets and more money.

Republicans talk a lot about reducing the size and scope of the federal government. You haven’t been paying attention. They mean it, but they need encouragement, lots of it, because it is very hard to do. And needs doing very badly.

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Brexit: The Movie. Explains the Tyranny of the “Experts” by The Elephant's Child

The markets are in turmoil. They just don’t like uncertainty at all. They may be confident of their own positions, but what about the other guy? This movie is quite wonderful, do watch.

The Presidents at the EU are furious. There are several — four, I think, heading up different commissions. All are unelected and the Members of the European Parliament have nothing to say about them, nor about their pronouncements. They are so indignant that they want to morph all the member nations of the EU into one giant Superstate, run by themselves, of course.  The Europeans have never liked Democracy. They are loath to give away any power.

The foreign ministers of France and Germany will reveal a blueprint to do away with individual member states in an “ultimatum.” Under the proposals, EU countries would lose the right to have their own army, criminal law, taxation system or a central bank, all those powers would be transferred to Brussels. This is going to be remarkably interesting.

Fredrick Forsyth (yes, that Fredrick Forsyth) has a long article explaining how the EU came about in the wake of the devastation of Europe after two World Wars. It’s worth your time to understand what’s going on in the present. Well, history is littered with bad ideas that promised a brighter future — the Thousand Year Reich was one of them, you can probably come up with quite a few others.

(Thanks to Maggie’s Farm for the link)



Looking at History through a Contemporary Political Lens by The Elephant's Child

Christina Hoff Sommers and Camille Paglia take on the contemporary campus trend of trying to remake history into something more appropriate to young people’s vague understanding of the past. Has to be fixed. Some of those old historic people actually owned slaves. Were not politically correct. Statues must be removed, names of buildings changed, can’t have inappropriate street names, monuments.  Safe Spaces. Do not encounter things that are different or difficult.



We the People of the United States of America — are Pretty Ticked-Off by The Elephant's Child

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—Over at Powerline, John Hinderaker asked rhetorically “Why are Liberals so Hateful?” Good question. James Taranto pulled up a 2010 piece from Charles Krauthammer, to explain why the liberal elite finds Americans revolting. Krauthammer finds a pattern:

— Promiscuous charges of bigotry are precisely how our current rulers and their vast media auxiliary react to an obstreperous citizenry that insists on incorrect thinking.

— Resistance to the vast expansion of government power, intrusiveness and debt, as represented by the Tea Party movement? Why, racist resentment toward a black president.

— Disgust and alarm with the federal government’s unwillingness to curb illegal immigration, as crystallized in the Arizona law? Nativism.

— Opposition to the most radical redefinition of marriage in human history, as expressed in Proposition 8 in California? Homophobia.

Taranto says: Krauthammer portrays this as a cynical game: “Note what connects these issues. In every one, liberals have lost the argument in the court of public opinion. . . . What’s a liberal to do? Pull out the bigotry charge, the trump that preempts debate and gives no credit to the seriousness and substance of the contrary argument.”

Because their motives are pure, their intellectual superiority and managing expertise entitle them to rule over the rest of us ignorant, backward, stupid, religious nuts, and clinging intolerant bigots.

We daily hear about “the elites” and “the working class”— where do they get that? The “elites” naturally include as the cognitive elite the nation’s reporters, columnists and scribes. Businessmen are not really part of the elite—they are more apt to be included in “Wall Street” or excluded as manufacturers. We do have some wealthy playboys (and girls) but most everybody else supposedly works for a living, yet “the working class” are those who perhaps went to trade school or do those “dirty jobs” that Mike Rowe built into a successful career,( with some very good advice for future members of the employed ranks.) That leaves rather a large segment of the American public who actually do work for a living, enjoy it at least part of the time, and feel good about putting supper on the table and enjoying a movie now and then—out of the picture as — what, unmentionables?

Are BREXIT and Trump and all the international anger about being sneeringly called “the working class” when we are obviously more than a little short of work? Unemployment is a big problem in the EU as well as here. Holman Jenkins, business columnist for the Wall Street Journal remarked recently:  “It turns out government cannot spare us collectively from having to adapt and compete in an economy.”

The Left, in their headlong race towards what they conceive to be a more perfect world, when they get the rest of us bullied into shape, simply do not grasp basic human nature. We are flawed creatures, imperfect, and human nature is not perfectible. At the end of their relentless drive towards an imaginary utopia is — Venezuela, or Cuba, or Auschwitz or the Gulag.

Well, no wonder they think of themselves as an “elite.”The federal government has too many people working for the government, and there isn’t enough work for them to do. Government workers make 78% more than the private sector for comparable jobs according to Cato. They call themselves “public servants,” but they don’t mean it. When they start to think of the U.S. Constitution as an impediment rather than a guarantee that the government belongs to the people and the public servants are there to work for us, not the other way around, we’re in trouble. So here we are.

I think it was Mike Lofgren, author of The Deep State, who captured the essence of Leftist discourse: “Take offense, call your opponent names, refuse to let them speak, decline to debate.”

That pretty much covers it.




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