American Elephants


Betsy DeVos is Confirmed as Secretary of Education by The Elephant's Child

john-stossel-what-trumps-education-pick-betsy-devos-should-have-said__850408_I consider myself a sort of expert on the subject of education— Not because I am a graduate of any graduate school of education—I am not.

My mother was a teacher, and quite a good one. I actually was one of her pupils, and she always graded me down to dispel any suggestion of favoritism. My grandmother was a teacher, an aunt was a teacher, and a grandfather was a college president. That doesn’t give me any qualification beyond a general family interest in education.

My expertise comes from 1. being tutored for first grade, 2. attending a small town grade school, 3. attending a one-room country schoolhouse for two years (pump on the front porch, woodshed out back with two separate outhouses) 4. attending an exclusive private girls school run by Episcopal nuns, 5. small town high school, 6. large town high school, 6. exclusive private college, 7. professional art school, 8. a California State College grad school. That should make me some kind of expert, shouldn’t it? I loved the one room schoolhouse. We had a very good teacher, and for science she sent us out into the fields to collect wild flowers and frogs and pollywogs—doesn’t get much better than that.

Betsy DeVos is an excellent candidate for Secretary of Education because she is passionately devoted to the idea that parents should have an important voice in their children’s education, and that charter schools are the best answer we have to give kids trapped in bad public schools a real chance for a good future.

Democrats have been opposed to Mrs. DeVos largely because she has been nominated by Donald Trump, and teachers unions. My expertise in education has noted over the years that all objections to anything in or about the public schools has one answer—they need more money. Even the courts have gotten into the business of ordering states to raise taxes in order to give the public schools more money.

Yet it is clear to anyone who is paying attention—that is not the problem. I suspect that the schools of education teach prospective teachers that if the teachers praise the kids enough in parent meetings, the voters will probably vote for more money. Yet teachers complain that they have to spend their own money for supplies. Hmmn.

Democrats have been complaining about children being excluded from school for bad behavior, and suggesting that it is not right. Racism, sexism, etc. Yet I did see an article that indicates that teachers are increasingly attacked in the classroom by violent kids, yet that is seldom reported.

I have a good longtime friend who is an expert in remedial education, and education policy. At one point she did some studies with convicts in prison, and found that large percentages of them were deficient in the ability to read. Inconclusive, for it would have taken many more studies to come up with verifiable fact, but interesting.

Democrats wanted to turn down Betsy DeVos on the basis that she attended private school and sent her children to private school, therefore she knew nothing about public school. (Actually she probably has a better idea of where public schools are deficient). Interestingly, many of the Democrat Senators who were most vocal in voting against DeVos also exclusively attended private schools. When parents have enough money for private schools, that’s often where their kids go. The two Republicans who voted against DeVos are singularly dependent on funding from the teachers unions.

I am deeply influenced by the fact that President Barack Obama sent his two daughters to the toniest private school in Washington D.C., yet tried hard to eliminate the Opportunity Scholarship program that gave poor black children access to the schools of their choice.

Here are some of the arguments for Betsy DeVos:

ADDENDUM: Thomas Sowell who just quit commenting returned to discuss the Betsy DeVos confirmation hearings.



Michael Ramirez Captures the Media by The Elephant's Child

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The Spontaneous Demonstrations at Our Airports Were Carefully Planned. by The Elephant's Child

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Those “Spontaneous Anti-Trump Airport protests weren’t Spontaneous at all,” reports Investors Business Daily. They were carefully planned by hard-core left-wing activist groups. Professional organizers have been waiting for, and planning for Trump’s orders on deportations, bans and detentions. Trump made it clear early that he planned ‘on day one’ to issue a temporary ban on visas and refugees from countries where terrorism was rampant. All these groups had to do was be ready when he made good on his campaign promise.

The news media was astonished, and rushed to report every last sign, shout, shouter, bullhorn and count the crowds. Yet the groups planning the “spontaneous” protests had been eager to share , and claimed to be in “constant contact with lawyers’ associations, lawmakers and reporters.” So how much was fact and how much was made up or wildly exaggerated? How many times did you hear that it was a “Muslim Ban?” It was not. There was no Muslim Ban.

The protests are absurd. Trump’s orders are clearly within his executive powers. The Washington State judge who granted a federal stay suggesting that the executive orders were unconstitutional was out of line, and his suggestions that the orders were harming the people of Washington, silly.

The executive order instituted a 90 day suspension (not ban) of immigrants from countries listed by the Obama administration as having a significant presence of foreign terrorist organizations. It also suspended the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days to give Homeland Security and the DNI time to determine how to make sure that terrorists weren’t slipping in as refugees—something ISIS has said they are doing. It also sets a slightly lower cap on refugees this year  than has been the norm for the past decade.

The countries concerned were listed by the Obama administration, not by Trump. President Obama barred large groups of immigrants at least six times out of national security concerns. But then his most recent executive order was to ban any refugees from Cuba—sending them back to the Castros’ communist Cuba.

Catholic Archbishop Bashar Warda of Irbil in Iraq plaintively asked:

“Where were all those protesters when ISIS came to kill Christians and Yazidis and other minority groups? They were not protesting when the tens of thousands of displaced Christians my archdiocese has cared for since 2014 received no financial assistance from the U.S. government or the U.N. There were no protests when Syrian Christians were only let in at a rate that was 20 times less than the percentage of their population in Syria.

I do not understand why some Americans are now upset that the many minority communities that faced a horrible genocide will finally get a degree of priority in some manner.

The Center for Immigration Studies suggests that we can help far more refugees if we help to settle them close to home, where they can more easily return home when the current danger passes. Most refugees don’t really want to move to a new country and an unknown new life. but would rather remain at home where everyone speaks their language and their relatives live, if it was safe.



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.



The “Mainstream Media” Are Lying Again. There Is No Ban On Muslims. by The Elephant's Child

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Progressives seem to have slipped their moorings once again. Donald Trump announced executive orders to fulfill his campaign promises about restricting immigration from dangerous countries until the immigrants could be effectively vetted.

In war-torn Syria, there is no effective government that can reliably say who people applying for immigration are. Reliable sources say that forged Syrian papers are widely available to anyone who has the cash. We have already lost too many of our own citizens to terrorist attack. We need to be sure that we are not admitting ISIS fighters or al Qaeda who mean to attack Americans. This is about trying to save American lives.

The ensuing uproar and protests at the airports are sponsored by George Soros who wants open borders. Other than the paid protesters, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth — “but they’re refugeeeees” — even Hillary chimed in to say  (echoing Obama) “that’s not who we are.” It is becoming really irritating to be told “who we are,” when Washington elites clearly have no idea.

The problem is precisely that we don’t know if they are refugees. The executive order also included an order to favor Christian sanctuary seekers. How dare he favor Christians over Muslims!! Religious prejudice! Constitution! Christians are far more apt to be killed by jihadists than other Muslims are, in the case if ISIS, rather spectacularly, and their wives and female children turned into sex slaves.

I ran across a quotation I saved from a piece in Forbes magazine in 2013 that seems appropriate:

None of this should surprise anyone. Contrary to what they tell you (and tell you and tell you) progressives don’t have principles. Rather they have faddish opinions that are highly unstable and often contradictory.                           Kathryn Shaidle

That makes more sense than anything else I have read lately.

The airport protesters (The Soros bunch) want open borders. In other words, we are to leave the door of our house open to anyone who might choose to wander in. We don’t have to be concerned because all people, and all refugees, are good people, just needy? Even vetted, some will slip through. Some of our terrorists were citizens, born in this country but radicalized in American Mosques or by trips abroad.

The Democrat media’s narrative is that President Trump is banning entry to possible terrorist populations Muslims because he is prejudiced against Muslims, and facts are not allowed to intrude. As Tom Lifson pointed out “Why is the United States supposed to admit Syrian refugees when oil-rich and piously Islamic Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, and the U.A.E. have not admitted a single Syrian? Their stated reason is the risk of terrorism.” So much for that faddish and unstable opinion.

From Sohrab Ahmari, writing from London, in the Wall Street Journal:

The irony is that freedom of movement is unraveling because liberals won central debates—about Islamism, social cohesion and nationalism. Rather than give any ground, they accused opponents of being phobic and reactionary. Now liberals are reaping the rewards of those underhanded victories.

Liberals refused to acknowledge the link between Islamist ideology and terrorism. For eight years under President Obama, the U.S. government refused even to say “Islamism,” claiming ludicrously that U.S. service members were going to war against “violent extremism.” Voters could read and hear about jihadists offering up their actions to Allah before opening automatic fire on shoppers and blasphemous cartoonists.

It’s strange to remember now how Europeans were welcoming “Migrants” from Syria with open arms, flowers, food, clothing and songs. It has been a long slow learning process and illusions of empathy and generosity have gone a glimmering. They refuse to admit what they have done, and what is happening on a daily basis, and their governments try to hush the minor things up, but they have “no-go” areas where it is unsafe for even police to intrude.

Democrats depend on people who don’t pay much attention to the news, cannot distinguish between “fake news” and real events. They come up with “talking points” to give their version of whatever it is that Republicans have done. President Trump has placed an immigration ban on immigrants from 7 nations that have been singled out as exceptional security risks in the Terrorist Prevention Act of 2015 and its 2016 extension. There is no ban on Muslims.

Do you remember the media howling when President Obama banned any processing of visas for Iraqi refugees in 2011? The 2009 discovery of two al Qaeda-Iraq terrorists living as refugees in Bowling Green Kentucky prompted a six month ban on immigrants from Iraq. Or when President Carter suspended any issuance of visas to Iranians in 1980.

Hollywood celebrities can always be counted on to rush to the nearest  reporter to express their deep understanding of current events. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo dramatically proclaimed himself a Muslim,   then included a Jew, a Gay, Black, Christian, transgendered  or a woman to make it clear that he was really inclusive. California wants to secede. Our own Gov. Inslee is filing a lawsuit—anything to distract attention from his budget request for another $11 billion in taxes because he can find no way to cut any expenditure. The Leftist media are improperly remaining in the fake news area, calling President Trump’s executive order religious bigotry, a “Muslim Ban.”

The Wall Street Journal had bet that it would take only 30 days for former president Barack Obama to start criticizing his presidential successor. But then he has never had George W. Bush’s grace. It only took 10 days. He couldn’t even wait until he finished his post-inaugural vacation. He had a spokesman issue a statement Monday afternoon reporting that the former president “is heartened by the level of engagement taking place in communities around the country” against President Trump’s refugee order.

“Citizens exercising their Constitutional right to assemble, organize and have their voices heard by their elected officials is exactly what we expect to see when American values are at stake,” added spokesman Kevin Lewis. “With regard to comparisons to President Obama’s foreign policy decisions, as we’ve heard before, the President fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion.”

No one doubts that, but then Syrian refugees became a global crisis in large part because Mr. Obama did almost nothing for five years as President to stop the civil war, much less help refugees. Here are the number of Syrians his Administration admitted: fiscal year 2011, 29; 2012, 31; 2013: 36; 2014, 105; 2015, 1,682. Only in 2016 did he increase the target to 13,000, though actual admissions haven’t been disclosed. Mr. Obama also barely lifted a hand to help resettle translators who worked with GIs in Iraq or Afghanistan.

This executive order is not illegal, not unconstitutional, and not unusual. They’re just still protesting losing the election, because they can’t get over it. Pathetic.



The Embarrassing Press at Obama’s Last Press Conference by The Elephant's Child

We have mentioned the disgraceful partisanship of the Washington D.C. press before. The adoration is clearly shown in this mashup from President Obama’s final press conference. If you can’t maintain a skeptical point of view, you’re not doing journalism, but they apparently never learned that in journalism school. Elected politicians are supposed to do what they told us they intended to do. Presidents are imperfect, make mistakes, sometimes very big ones, and sometimes they turn out to be something other than what they claimed. If journalists don’t do their job, it makes it much harder for the rest of us who will probably never meet those politicians in person.



President Trump, The Press, The Profession of Journalism, and Sean Spicer. This is Going to be Fun! by The Elephant's Child

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There is a tentative war going on between the press and the new Trump administration. The Washington press corps has been remarkably partisan during the entire campaign season, and they never imagined a Trump presidency.

We have a new White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, beginning to set new rules for how White House press conferences are going to go. He didn’t call on the front row first, but gave the first question to the New York Post, seated toward the back. He called early on reporters from the Christian Broadcasting network, Fox, and Univision. He even announced four “Skype seats” for reporters not in the Washington area. This is very scary stuff for the Washington media.

He noted that the  press routinely publish corrections, and said the administration “should be afforded the same opportunity.”

Press behavior during this political campaign left a great deal to be desired. We had reporters publishing unverified leaks, giving their stories to the candidates for approval before publication, warning candidates of upcoming stories. And in one case, the New York Post noted “the complete collapse of American journalism as we know it.” “The shameful display of naked partisanship by the elite media is unlike anything seen in modern America,” wrote Michael Goodwin.

The largest broadcast networks — CBS, NBC and ABC — and major newspapers like the New York Times and Washington Post have jettisoned all pretense of fair play. Their fierce determination to keep Trump out of the Oval Office has no precedent. By torching its remaining credibility in service of Clinton, the mainstream media’s reputations will likely never recover, nor will the standards. No future producer, editor, reporter or anchor can be expected to meet a test of fairness when that standard has been trashed in such willful and blatant fashion.

“The University of Georgia does an Annual Survey of Journalism & Mass Communication Graduates which surveys J-School grads, their habits, salaries and the jobs they take.” They don’t read print media. Just one third had read a newspaper the day before taking the survey. That’s down from 81% in 1994. Three quarters read news off the internet and many watched TV. Almost all went on a social media website the day before taking the survey.

Which draws the automatic query: if they don’t read their own writing, why should they expect us to?

Newspaper ad revenue is way down. Ads are reaching fewer customers. Magazines with which I am familiar are thinner, with fewer ads. But for the most part I only see magazines at the hair salon or the doctor’s office.  Two local bookstores are closing. It’s not that people are reading less, they are reading online. More and more online sources are creating a subscription barrier, and there are more and more ways to avoid that wall. There is so much information available for free, that people are reluctant to pay. I don’t know where this is all going, but everything is fluid and changing.

I don’t know what journalism schools are teaching their students besides social justice, nor what their requirements are, but journalists seem remarkably lacking in the history department, and just general world knowledge—reflecting wide reading. Starting salaries are worse than for most other professions, and there are more and more clumsy errors that are not caught by editors.

Computers are changing the world. Our sources of information are changing. Social media is becoming more important than  we understand. Occupations are changing. We are always slow to understand the changes and how to adapt, and those who do understand and adapt quickly are probably the millionaires and billionaires of the future.

An article by Stefan Kanfer in City Journal last February mourned the decline of Time magazine and the shrinking readership of newspapers and magazines. He wrote:

Contemporary tendencies—from know-nothing reportage to grade inflation—can be corrected. But the blackboard is large, and the erasers grow fewer by the year. When once-formidable newspapers like the New York Times print regular, lengthy columns of misattributions and misinformation, and when a newsmagazine cannot identify the sex of an author, much less his/her significance, Americans can no longer depend on periodicals to set things straight. That job, ironically, has been ceded to the freewheeling and often irresponsible Internet. Thus by default the solution must come, as it did long ago, from diligent instruction—private, parochial, and public. It had better. For as Abraham Lincoln observed, “The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.” (A former Illinois congressman, Lincoln was the sixteenth president of the United States.)




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