American Elephants


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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Why Won’t Barack Obama Say the Words “Radical Islam”? by The Elephant's Child

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Why does Barack Obama refuse to utter the words “Radical Islam?” Why does the phrase in the First Amendment “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” which has a clear meaning, seem to prohibit our federal agencies from doing necessary background inquiries regarding those who appear to be radicalized Muslims?  Major Nidal Hassan who fatally shot 13 people at Fort Hood and wounded more than 30 others was clearly observed to be radicalized and dangerous, but nobody would do anything about it because he was Muslim.

Omar Mateen was allowed to avoid serious investigation because he was a Muslim. He blamed his actions on Islamophobia. He talked a lot about how he wanted to kill people. Disney reported that Mateen and his wife were casing Disney World back in April. But real investigation stopped because he was a Muslim.

After the deadliest mass shooting in American history. President Obama was angry, impassioned — at Republicans? Huh? David Harsanyi notes the occasion at NRO: (Do read the whole thing)

“That’s the key,” they tell us,” Obama said, eviscerating the GOP. “We can’t beat ISIL unless we call them radical Islamists. What exactly would using this label accomplish? What exactly would it change?

Victor Davis Hanson wrote about Orlando and “domestic terrorism:”

Most disturbing is the serial inability of the Obama administration — in this case as after the attacks at Fort Hood and in Boston and San Bernardino — even to name the culprits as radical Islamists. Major Hasan shouts “Allahu akbar!” and Omar Mateen calls 911 in mediis interfectis to boast of his ISIS affiliation — and yet the administration can still not utter the name of the catalyst of their attacks: radical Islam. It is hard to envision any clearer Islamist self-identification, other than name tags and uniforms. The Obama team seems to fear the unwelcome public responses to these repeated terrorist operations rather than seeing them as requisites for changing policies to prevent their recurrence.

The current Leftist seems to be consumed by the belief that Michelle Obama derived from her husband. “All of us are driven by a simple belief that the world as it is just won’t do — that we have an obligation to fight for the world as it should be,” which seems to be derived from Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals. They dream of an imagined world  that is self-evidently superior to the existing order. Their world is consumed with the glorious future of which they dream and the current battle against the Right.

That leaves little time for reflection or study, so they rely heavily on leftist talking points that are handed down to the press and to Democratic spokesmen. That’s why there are always examples of the entire Democrat apparatus speaking of the same event in exactly the same words. Talking points. And they seem remarkably ill-informed.

Obama clearly was influenced by the years he spent in Muslim Indonesia before he was 10 years old, but there is no evidence that he is Muslim. Many of us believe that his much ballyhooed “Iran Deal” is an absolute disaster and a major danger to the United States, yet the president sees it as a great accomplishment. Why?

I believe he sees the Middle East in a domestic battle between Sunni and Shia for dominance, which we ignited — with the Invasion of Iraq — and made worse with our brutal treatment of the Iraqis, killing Muslims and destroying property. Obama’s closest advisor is Valerie Jarrett who was raised in Iran.

He regards Arab Muslims with their wealth and palaces and yachts as the problem, and the enlightened and educated Persians as a better class to control the Middle East. He believes we should turn the entire area over to the Iranians to manage. He thinks we have no business in the Middle East at all, and believes America should play a smaller role in the world, as just one among many nations. He sees the cries of the Ayatollah for “Death to Israel” and “Death to America” as some sort of rallying cry or public relations, but not anything that is meant seriously. He said, when he was trying to sell his Iran Deal to Americans, that he did not believe that Iran would ever use a nuclear weapon.

Obama, we are told, does not change his mind. Once he believes something, it is set in concrete. He was heavily influenced by Rashid Khalidi, a Palestinian-American firebrand professor of Middle East studies at Columbia, and I assume Obama believes that Israel is the major problem in the Middle East. Obama’s great accomplishment was to create a “two-state solution”, and he is furious that he hasn’t been able to bring it about. Palestinians aren’t ready to stop trying to kill Israelis with rockets and stabbings and tunnels to attack Israelis in their homes, which is somewhat inclined to give the Israelis a jaundiced view of the fabled “Peace Process.”

I have no expertise in the Middle East, never been there, this is only what I have derived from my reading, but I do read a lot. When an enemy leads chants of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel,”and hangs citizens of his own country who disagree with him, I’m inclined to believe him. When they demand the ability to build nuclear plants that are clearly not needed to produce power, and everybody says they are developing nuclear weapons, I’m inclined to believe them. When they are pursing intercontinental ballistic missiles that could carry a nuclear weapon, I’m a more than a little skeptical about Mr. Obama’s Iran Deal. That’s why he won’t say “Radical Islam.”



Further Funny Facts From the Democrats Fateful “Sit-In” by The Elephant's Child

Democrats were inspired by memories of the Sixties, and decided to hold a “Sit-In” on the floor of the House chamber. They were demanding gun control by disallowing anyone on the no-fly list from being able to purchase a gun. Trouble is, the U.S, Constitution guarantees citizens Due Process before they get forbidden to do something—that means a hearing before a judge or judge and jury, not a quickie law written as a stunt. But as people started to focus on the stunt, they quickly learned that 26 of the Democrats who took part in the sit-in own guns.

Rep, Lewis was once on the no-fly list (erroneously), but they were interested in backing up their ban on buying guns with evidence, but the evidence clearly shows that crime has been dropping for several years, but is starting to edge up in response to the anti-cop publicity, and release of felons from prison (who have a 75% recidivism rate).

Then it began to get funny. Several Twitterers pointed out that it was absurd to stage a “sit-in” on the floor where there were enough chairs for everyone.  Charlie Rangel said he thought it should not be possible for his constituents to own guns, but when asked, said that Congressmen ‘deserve’ protection. Despite a long speech about the problem of guns in the inner city and the deaths of so many young blacks, when it came time for dinner they turned to the fast food restaurant that NY Mayor De Blasio demanded that New Yorkers should boycott — Chick-fil-A. Which was also a validation of the restaurant’s tasty fried chicken and denied Chick-fil-A’s supposed anti-gay bigotry.

The media fell all over themselves with the drama of a real live sit-in, and failed to notice the absurdity of the whole thing as the video above shows. Don’t expect consistency or logic. That’s just the way Democrats are.

 



Guns and Guns and Guns, Democrats Throw Tantrum, Look Silly. by The Elephant's Child

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The Orlando massacre was carried out by an American citizen of Afghan family, who went to great lengths, including calling 911, to tell everyone that he was pledging himself to ISIS.  Since the shooting was conducted in a nightclub frequented by gays, strenuous efforts have been made by our government to make sure it is connected with homosexuality, and not Islamic terrorism, which is never to be called Islamic terrorism, but only violent extremism or some other bland euphemism.

Yesterday we had the embarrassment of the Justice Department attempting to remove all the evidence of Omar Mateen pledging anything at all to anyone at all by deleting them from the transcript which they released, which brought a significant amount of outrage from those who had been paying attention. They were forced to admit that they had removed Mateen’s many calls to 911. Attorney General Loretta Lynch was forced to admit that Mateen never said anything to cops about specifically targeting gays. The federal government does not want to consider this to be a terrorist attack, they would prefer to consider the whole thing as a hate crime against a core constituency under unreasonable threat in the United States. You can’t blame a liberal administration for  a hate crime against gays.

Today Mrs. Lynch talked about how the federal government may never know what Mateen’s prime motive was between gay hate and terror. She added that “Our most effective response to terror is compassion, unity, and love.” The most effective response to terror is to believe the terrorists when they say they want to destroy America and Israel. They do mean it. Just tell the truth.

Whenever there is a terrorist attack, Democrats blame guns, usually what they refer to as “assault weapons,” partly because they don’t know what an assault weapon is (and isn’t), and it sounds more dramatic. The president has started bloviating about “weapons of war on our streets” a term not used when the military was offering their excess weapons of war (scary looking vehicles) to police and sheriff’s departments across the country. Nobody talked about “weapons of war” when they were equipping special agents at the IRS with Ar-15 military style rifles, or when Health and Human Services “Special Office of Inspector General Agents” were being trained by the Army’s Special Forces contractors, or the VA was arming 3,700 employees.

The number of non-Defense Department federal officers authorized to make arrests and carry firearms (200,000) now exceeds the number of U.S. Marines (182,000). In its escalating arms and ammo stockpiling, this federal arms race is unlike anything in history.

So it makes perfect sense that 40 Democrats are currently staging a”sit-in”— sitting on the floor of the House chamber because the House’s Republican leadership won’t bring up a gun-control bill for a vote. What they actually want is for everybody on the no-fly list or the possible terrorist list — which seem to be long lists of thousands of people don’t seem to include the people who are actually committing those terror attacks. Michael Medved’s 11-year-old son was once on the no-fly list, and Rep. John Lewis (who is leading the floor-sitting demonstration) was once erroneously placed on the No-Fly list he wants to use to deny due process for those who want to buy a weapon.

Murders are seldom examined seriously, only politically, in the context of gun-control controversies, with the same arguments and the same ideas. Tighter gun control laws do not reduce the murder rate.  Here’s Thomas Sowell on “The Gun Control Farce“— a serious look at the data from around the country and around the world. The facts are quite  plain. It’s not long, and worth your time.



Obama’s Ill Conceived Overtime Rule Gives Workers a Teeny Raise. Costs Companies Billions. by The Elephant's Child

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Government data released last Wednesday showed the number of private- sector job opening was at an all time high in April. But the companies doing the hiring took on the smallest number of people on a seasonally adjusted basis in nine months.  What?

The JOLTS (Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey) data the government released showed there were 5,2809,000 private-sector job openings  in April — 114,000 more than in March. The government report also showed that private-sector hires declined by 169,000 compared to March. Well no wonder eyes glaze over when reading government press releases.

With the private companies advertising so many job openings, why aren’t they filling the openings? The federal government has imposed vastly higher costs for employing people. It is not only more expensive, but it is more complicated as well.

President Obama’s new overtime rule was meant to help workers. Unfortunately too many government people have never worked in the private sector. The government’s new rule effectively turns millions of salaried workers into hourly employees. It won’t increase their earnings, but it will reduce their control over their schedules. Salaried employees get paid to do a job. Hourly workers must be paid overtime for working over 40 hours a week. What happens in real life is that in order to avoid lawsuits to overtime-eligible workers, many employers deny flexible work schedules to them, because it is a big legal risk. Hourly workers are more unlikely to move up to salaried positions. On Wednesday the government raised the overtime “threshold” test for salaried employees to $47,500 a year.  All salaried employees making less than that, no matter how advanced their job duties, now qualify for overtime. The Feds just thought they would give workers more pay by making more of them overtime eligible.

When Leftists are in charge of the economy, they usually make a mess of it. They assume that being “the best and the brightest”, their ideas are better but often they are simply transplants from academe who are entirely unfamiliar with business and how it operates. They have spent years envying the captains of industry who make unbelievable amounts of money, and they don’t even have PhD’s. What leftist academics fail to recognize is that the average term of a CEO is only 6 or 7 years, and they got there on the record of lots of successes. A CEO of a major corporation may oversee 20 divisions of 2o,ooo people each, and he has to report to the shareholders  every quarter. Silly academics can’t even tell protesting kids to knock it off.



Massacre in Orlando, Obama Says Motivation of Killer Unknown by The Elephant's Child

Why is it so hard for people on the left to talk straight? They have to choose their words so carefully, because the words might well come back to bite them. President Obama’s immediate reaction to the tragic mass shooting in Orlando last night was to call for gun control measures.

This massacre is therefore a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people in a school, or a house of worship, or a movie theater, or in a nightclub,” Obama said during an appearance at the White House. “We have to decide if that’s the kind of country we want to be. And to actively do nothing — that’s a decision, too.”

Well, “Never let a crisis go to waste!”

Mr. Obama added that “We have reached no definitive judgment on the precise motivations of the killer.”

Obama did call it an act of terror and an act of hate, but refused to characterize the attack as Islamist terrorism. If we were to actually combine “Islam” with “terrorism” — that might suggest that there was something wrong with Obama’s precious Iran Deal.

Omar Mateen is identified as the shooter. He was reported to be shouting “Allahu Akhbar” during the attack and had expressed allegiance to the Islamic State on his wife’s Facebook page, and called 911 prior to the attack pledging his allegiance to the Islamic State. Obama said that while the killer’s precise motivations aren’t known, enough is known to characterize the killings as terror.

At least 50 people were killed in what was the deadliest shooting in U.S. History. 53 people were wounded and many were in critical condition, at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub. The nightclub is popular with gays, so the Broadway community was considered the proper venue for celebrity opinions on the killing. You can’t feel compassion unless you’re gay?

These were American victims of unacknowledged ISIS terror. All of us  feel shock and horror at these senseless attacks. Many Americans feel increasingly at risk from a government that does not recognize the problem of radical Islamist terrorism, and is unwilling to address its nature.



The Strangest Election of the Century Bar None! by The Elephant's Child

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We have at this point, a probable election between the two most unlikable candidates ever to run for political office. (That’s what the polls tell us.) Hillary made a speech in which she claimed Donald Trump was not qualified to run for the presidency, and I couldn’t help thinking “Pot meet Kettle.”

Hillary Clinton is facing criminal charges from the FBI for allowing State secrets to be posted on a private e-mail server that she apparently insisted on to keep the American public from knowing what she was doing. That matter alone is a crime.

She also knowingly used her office to fund her private Clinton Foundation by doing favors from the State Department for those who offered very large speaking fees for speeches by her husband, Bill Clinton.  This is the definition of quid pro quo, or crony capitalism.

Hillary was fired from her first job working on the Nixon Impeachment trial for being a liar and unethical. A trail of unethical actions has trailed her from title to title. She and Bill apparently believe themselves to be above the law, and are just not required to follow the same rules as anyone else.

When Bill Clinton was inaugurated, they announced that they would be co-presidents, in a two-for-one deal. The people quickly made it clear that they had not elected Hillary. She has had a burning ambition to be the first American woman to be President of the United States, ever since.

The problem is that whenever her supporters are asked to list her accomplishments, nobody could name any. Carley Fiorina remarked that Hillary had lots of titles, but that titles were not accomplishments. I have never been impressed with the “first woman,” or first anything. It is not a “great moment in history.” Some 77 nations around the world have had women in charge. Few have been outstanding leaders, but some have. High office depends on qualifications that prove that the candidate can actually do the job. Being “first” or seventy-eighth has nothing to do with what they accomplish or fail to accomplish in office.

One would assume that someone who wanted to be president so badly, would study past presidents to see what worked and what did not. How they faced the problems of their times. A deep study of history and presidential biographies. No interest from Hillary. If you were going to make a big diplomatic deal of a “reset button” with the Russians, wouldn’t you be very careful to make sure that you got it right?

Donald Trump has scared most of our allies and many Republicans with his lack of understanding of trade. He assumes that a “trade deficit” is a bad thing and major tariffs are needed to make our trade partners pay their “fair share.” Trade is by definition balanced. If we pay $100 million for products from China, and they buy only $1 million for products from us — the only place they can spend the hundred million dollars is in the United States. He seems to regard trade as a war, in which you win or lose. In trade, both sides win. This could be a major problem.

Mr. Trump is going to trial right after the election for fraud, in the case of Trump University. Former students have accused him of misrepresenting the value of the coursework offered. Other students say they learned a lot. Again, Mr. Trump regards this as a win-lose war, in the same way he regarded his real estate deals. Not a helpful attitude for our national security needs. This is a remarkably dangerous time for the world. Mr. Obama has portrayed the U.S. as weak and indecisive, and a new president will face enormous challenges.

We have only “presumptive” winners. It doesn’t get real until the conventions vote. The comments on any political piece are extremely angry on both sides. People are emotionally involved. Traffic on the social websites like Facebook and Twitter and others is way down. My guess is that there is too much anger and people don’t want to put up with it.

I have never seen a presidential campaign in which the people were so manipulated by a biased press which has skewed the results and people’s understanding. The people react emotionally to the press, everybody is calling everybody else names, we  have riots at political rallies, American college students have clearly gone completely nuts and the battles are not about anything real, but only political correctness. You must not offend.

How extremely odd. We started off with a bench of superbly qualified governors and have winnowed it down to the least qualified of all, while the Democrats had no bench at all.  So here we are.




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