American Elephants


Some Premature Remarks on A Dreadful Tragedy by The Elephant's Child

Since it is way too early for any solid or real commentary on the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, naturally all the Lefties are running off at the mouth. Guns must be banned, of course, and the NRA banished forever. I finally realized why they are so frantic about the National Rifle Association. The NRA donates to Republicans.

Judd Apatow accused Trump of being “too much of a coward” to buck the NRA. Who is Judd Apatow? Is he some sort of celebrity? Chelsea Handler, whoever she is, said we must elect candidates who are not funded by the NRA who allow kids to go to school and get shot. Patricia Arquette, (the name is vaguely familiar), said that “If people can blame drug dealers for the drug problem then we can blame the NRA for the shooting problem.”  Utterly brilliant commentary. But typical.

I can’t forget our legislators, who are never shy about speaking out. Nancy Pelosi said “We have to be bold. We have to go forward. We cannot let the National Rifle Association—however they get their money and that’s another subject—to decide what the character of America is.” One would assume that the head of the NRA, whoever he is, did the shooting all by himself because he hates American children. Dianne Finestein reminded that she has a bill banning assault weapons.

Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) made a speech on the floor of the Senate, apparently in the midst of the shooting. He said that Congress ‘ “inaction” is “responsible for a level of mass atrocity that happens in this country with zero parallel anywhere else.”

As we speak, there is a horrific scene playing out at a high school in south Florida. Turn on your television right now, you’re going to see scenes of children running for their lives, what looks to be the 19th school shooting in this country, and we have not even hit March. I’m coming to the floor to talk about something else, but let me just note, once again for my colleagues, that this happens nowhere else, other than the United States of America. This epidemic of mass slaughter, this scourge of school shooting after school shooting. It only happens here, not because of coincidence, not because of bad luck, but as a consequence of our inaction. We are responsible for a level of mass atrocity that happens in this country with zero parallel anywhere else.

That was too much for even the left-leaning Washington Post, which explained “No, there haven’t been 18 school shootings in 2018. That number is flat wrong.”

Guns are inanimate objects. Guns do not shoot people. People shoot people. America is a big open country, and we publicize all our faults as well as our triumphs. Guns have probably saved a lot more lives than were ever lost to gun violence.

Israel and Europe have had recent bunch of stabbings. Knives are also inanimate objects, useful in the kitchen and elsewhere, but deadly in the hands of someone intent on killing.

In Nice, France, a terror attack with a large white truck killed 84 people and injured many more on Bastille Day. A truck attack in London left 8 dead, but more than 40 injured, including children. There was a deadly truck attack in Jerusalem. A car was the lethal weapon in Melbourne, Australia. There was an attack with a vehicle in Manhattan on October 31st. And a truck attack in Barcelona, Spain, left 14 dead and 100 injured. So we should immediately ban trucks, cars, and the American Automobile Association.

The 18 year-old shooter is in custody, clearly a troubled kid. The FBI was warned about him last year.

Steve Scalise (R-LA), still recovering from being shot by an enraged  Democrat supporter of Bernie Sanders, said “don’t try to promote your agenda in the middle of a tragedy. One  magic law won’t stop shootings.”

Here in Washington State, authorities arrested an 18 year-old whose grandmother discovered his journal with detailed plans to shoot his high school classmates, and detonate homemade bombs at school, and she called 911.  This happened in Snohomish County on Tuesday.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that recognizing ‘signals and signs’ could prevent shootings, and he’s right.  I have never seen much discussion of the fact that the high school years are difficult and troubling for many kids. I don’t think I know anyone who has not been deeply affected by their years in high school. Making friends, falling in love, trying out for things and failing, finding the world increasingly difficult and confusing, and they are still very young and don’t know anything at all.

John Hinderraker has excellent premature observations.

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Why Is Infrastructure Always “Crumbling?” by The Elephant's Child

President Donald Trump announced a $1 trillion infrastructure plan at the State of the Union speech on  January 30. But he had earlier revealed a price tag of $1.7 trillion at a meeting with about a hundred mayors of major American cities. The mayors were excited. Mr. Trump said he wanted all of the projects funded by his plan to be “on time and under budget.”

My question was “what is infrastructure?” Are we talking about the power grid? Concern about EMP attacks? The interstate highways? Airports? The president was complaining about our airports back during the campaign. What infrastructure is the responsibility of the federal government and what is the responsibility of the states or those cities? When thinking about “infrastructure” do people think beyond their own familiar potholes?

Why does it always come with the modifier “crumbling”? We have all sorts of big projects going on all over the country to improve transportation, or other things one would probably identify as “infrastructure”— California has a big high speed rail to nowhere that just keeps costing more and more and going nowhere, that nobody seems to want except Jerry Brown.

We have Light Rail here that nobody wants and seems to be a massive boondoggle. It is building across a floating bridge, and nobody seems to know if that will work. They have added what we call “Lexus Lanes” to the freeways where you have to pay a hefty sum to use them and that has screwed up traffic in the rest of the lanes. Our traffic is nothing to write home about. (Better they should have given trucks and buses their own lane.) In DC I think I read that freeway tolls are over $40  for a single trip. No wonder they are back to talking about flying cars.

Obama was going to accomplish great things with his infrastructure project, but he ran into the “shovel ready” problem, and he simply did not know or understand the problems with permitting and environmental regulations, how long they took and how involved they were. The  Transcontinental Railroad took railroad companies six years to lay 1,907 miles of track, tunneling through mountains at one foot a day, building bridges, all mostly by hand.

California’s bullet train is still slowly building and the new deadline is 2025 for high speed rail from San Francisco to San Diego. The old deadline was 2018, but the first leg will only run from  Madera to Shafter, a small town north of Bakersfield. This was the most “shovel ready”stretch when the Obama administration was passing out stimulus funds. The original plan was for 800 miles of high-speed rail up and running by 2020. It will be only very slightly faster than an airline flight if its ever finished. The project’s lead just announced another $2.9 billion increase in costs for the first 119-mile stretch, mostly for land acquisition. Voters approved the project back when it was estimated to cost $40 billion, and a one-way ticket from San Francisco to LA  was expected to be $55. The most recent estimate is $64 Billion and they are talking about routing it through Silicon Valley for obvious reasons.

Elon Musk is still messing around with his hyperloop project, with some success with his models. His greatest expertise seems to be his ability to get governments to subsidize his ideas. Across the country, many cities are engaged in big transportation projects, and I don’t have an impression of many successes.

I went to Google to see what I could find about Obama’s stimulus,  the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). In general, Democrats thought it was a great success, but were a little thin on explanations of what it accomplished. Since I’m a right-leaning crank, I consulted the Hoover Institution and John B. Taylor and John F. Cogan explained that “more than $1 trillion in federal-deficit spending did little or nothing to help the economy, because it was used to pay down debts and reduce borrowing.”

At Fox News, John R. Lott said that “the states hardest hit received the least money. States with higher bankruptcy, foreclosure and unemployment rates got less money. And lower-income states also received less. It looks like Democrats ended up helping their supporters, including unions and many very wealthy supporters.”

It’s easy to get politicians all enthusiastic about big projects that can crown their term with achievement. Think about Eisenhower’s transcontinental highways, or Hoover Dam. It’s very tempting. Obama’s high speed rail fantasy has led to Jerry Brown’s train to nowhere and apparently to the deadly derailment we just had down by Tacoma. It involved a new stretch of track that bypassed an existing rail line. The train was doing 80 mph when it hit a curve engineered for speeds of 30 mph.

“My high-speed rail proposal will lead to innovations that change the way we travel in America,” Obama boldly proclaimed at the time.

Washington state, however, eagerly took the stimulus money and promised to use it to speed up service between Portland and Seattle on Amtrak’s Cascade line.

One of the big projects — which consumed $187 million — went to build a 14.5 mile high-speed bypass between the cities of DuPont and Tacoma.

The stimulus was advertised as financing “shovel ready” projects, but work on the bypass did not begin until 2013, 5 years after the end of the recession.

President Trump is probably better prepared than most presidents to deal with big construction projects. He understands the hazards and the hubris, and knows what is involved. I’m willing to be convinced.



Are You Missing the Elephant in the Room? by The Elephant's Child

The left-wing media is frantically busy fact-checking every word of the State of the Union Speech, defiantly positive that it was all a pack of lies. Yet the American people not only approved of the speech, they really liked it. Trump’s approval rating is up significantly, and that will not do.

Interest in the Super Bowl was way down, many people simply turned it off, extending their rejection of professional football throughout the season. At the Emmys, host Stephen Colbert promised an all-out assault on Trump, and the ratings came in at an all time low. The Grammys took an all-time 24% nosedive to 10 million fewer viewers. CNN, the noted fake news network, has had a ratings disaster, not one program  ranked in the top 23. Movie attendance for Hollywood movies has reached a 24 year low.

Is it possible that there is a message here in all these collapsing ratings? What could it be? How come everything seems to be going down just as things are looking so decisively up? Taxes are way down, and the incomes of ordinary people are way up. Businesses are hiring, employment is up, unemployment is way down. Business is busy passing out bonuses, which on top of a tax cut is very good news for a lot of families.

The left-wing media is apparently so busy fact-checking the State of the Union speech and the Nunes memo, and their general fury at all things Trump, that they simply  haven’t noticed these statistical details in the news.



Tucker Carlson Interviews Adam Schiff’s Sidekick, Eric Swalwell by The Elephant's Child

We expected the Democrats to push back on the release of the memos, because the memos basically look very bad for the Democrats. This, is something much larger and more insidious. Tucker Carlson interviews Eric Swalwell who is Adam Schiff’s sidekick. They are terrified, and losing control.  Attack, attack, attack. No matter that it makes no sense to attack when you are seemingly guilty as hell, so they must be even more terrified at what they know is coming.  Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Watch the beginning of this video again and listen to Nancy Pelosi. It’s like they got caught with their hands in the piggy bank, and they are sure we are going to find out that they’ve been taking all our savings out of the bank, and working to condemn our house for their own use. The thing about watching someone get defensive when they know they’re wrong, is that they re so clumsy about it. Tucker is “damaging national security, hurting the country, and refusing to acknowledge that the rule of law has been run over.”



Alienating Young Men: Jordan Peterson by The Elephant's Child

This one is important, and short. All this gender nonsense has been growing and is purely evil. It’s all trying to tear our society apart in the name of politics: feminism, white supremacy, race, diversity, and so on. I don’t understand what they are trying to do. We’ve had a celebration of gender dysphoria, which is a mental illness related to other kinds of dysphorias. They are teaching little children that changing genders is normal and real. There are even people who have come to believe that one of their limbs is bad and must be removed. Some few attempt the removal themselves, with unfortunate results.

The American people come in a wide variety of colors. The majority are more or less white, but that does not become “white supremacy.” Feminism had some reality when women wanted to be recognized as individuals and to have the right to vote. Congress passed the law in 1919 and it became a reality in 1920. Do we have to have some kind of young men’s liberation movement to get the trendy people to stop beating up on them?

There is something deeply, oddly, wrong in our country at present. In universities we have young people demanding that they should not have to hear ideas with which they do not agree—and what is a university and why are you there? Women are marching around with vulgar signs in vagina costumes. A teacher in public school announces that any young men who go into the military are dummies, lacking in intelligence and ability. Female teachers are having sex with their young male students, and getting sent to prison for it. Think about the protests and demonstrations you can remember from the past year or so. They make no sense. Where does this come from?



The Memo, The Memo, The Memo, And What it All Means. by The Elephant's Child

Here is the article on the publication and the White House approval:

—”Memo Released: FBI Officials Knew Political Origins of Dossier, but Used it Anyway.”

— Here is the article from Yahoo the FBI used to corroborate the Dossier, even though it’s just a repeat of the information in the Dossier.

The Spectator: “Media propaganda can’t erase the fact that the FBI used Hillary’s dossier to spy on Trumpworld.”

Heritage: Anti-Trump Politics in FBI Drove Russia Probe, Memo”

PJ Media: Spengler: “Trump Triumphs with Release of House Intel Memo”

Powerline: John Hinderraker: “What the House Intelligence Committee Memo Says:” (John Hinderraker is an attorney)

The Wall Street Journal: “Obama and the FISA Court” (pay barrier)

The Weekly Standard: Nunes: More Memos Are Coming

American Greatness: “Worse Than Watergate” by Chris Buskirk

Manhattan Contrarian:Comments on the House Intelligence Committee Memo” Francis Menton is also an attorney.

Frontpage Magazine: The Memo Reveals The Coup Against America
by Daniel Greenfield

The Diplomad 2.0: The Release of the MemWow” The  author is a long time American diplomat, now retired.

There, that gives you lots of varied opinions on the memo so far. The anguished Democrats are going to vote on releasing their version of the contents of the memo on Monday, insisting that the Republican version is a pack of lies and misleading and hating Trump and all that. The whole thing is very damning to the Democrat claims, and they’ve had a few days and the weekend to cook up a good story. Pathetic.



How Do We Know And What Don’t We Know? by The Elephant's Child

How do we know stuff? We were told by our parents or another relative. We learned it in school. We read it in a book. Then it gets even more iffy. We read it in the newspaper. We read it online. Someone sent it to us in an email. A friend who seems smart said so. We read it in a newspaper headline while we were waiting for the bus, or over the shoulder of the guy sitting next to us. Twitter? Facebook? We researched it on Wikipedia. We read the news online (From whom?) Uh huh.

We have to decide what websites online are reliable. On what basis do we decide? How do we decide what books are authoritative? Just because someone printed it and put it between hard covers? Or because the book cost a lot?

Democrats are particularly upset that the economy seems to be responding favorably to President Trump’s actions. Big companies are giving their workers $1,000 bonuses. Both Nancy Pelosi and Debbie Wasserman Schultz have sneered at that—called it “crumbs.” And said that after taxes it wouldn’t be all that much. Not all workers manage to make as much as members of Congress, who get pretty hefty salaries. For a lot of families, an extra $1,000 is a pretty big deal. Sneering is not cool.

Democrats also believe that tax cuts for business is just giving money to the rich (nobody ever said they were consistent) and it doesn’t do any good for the economy, and the climb in the stock market is just a bubble which will break shortly and bring on a terrible recession. And besides, the improvement in the marketplace was really brought on by Obama’s planning and deeds. Uh huh.

How do we know how the economy is doing? Just because the stocks go up?   No,  we depend on the market itself to tell us about buyers and sellers. When a product doesn’t sell, the  seller has to figure out why. When a store does not sell enough, that needs to be figured out as well, and that is why Toys  Are Us  and Sears are closing stores. We hear every day about “Studies say” and “the polls say” but we have to study who was doing the studies and who was doing the polls and just who they were polling and what they asked.

None of us have enough time, but it helps just to be suspicious. If you are paying enough attention to that which you do not know, you can fix the ones that really matter., and if you know that you don’t know, that’s better than thinking that you do—when you don’t.

President Trump went off to Davos, leaving behind the impression that he may be amenable to offering citizenship to the Dreamers. That’s 1.8 million. Really? Senator Schumer  trotted off to MSNBC to be interviewed by Rachel Maddow. He argued that the “hard right” has always opposed immigration. That “Donald Trump ran on an anti-immigration platform,” and “the Tea Party’s—one of their fundamental values is anti-immigrant, which is horrible, disgusting, but that’s who they are.” But not one of those statements is true. I don’t know anyone that is “anti-immigrant” though I’m sure there are some out there. Republicans are pro-immigrant, but distinguish between legal and illegal immigrants. And have a preference for the former. We don’t play language games by calling them “Dreamers” nor do we refer to them as “undocumented citizens” as ABC did recently.

Representative Adam Schiff, Chairman (as Liz Shield says) of the House Leak Everything Committee appeared on CNN to explain that the House could not release the FISA Memo because the American people were just too dumb to understand the, um, intricacies of the thing.

The presidents we choose are only ordinary people with all the flaws that ordinary people have. It’s a big job and we hope they hire good brains and good managers and good strategists to help. Most of them make mistakes, often big ones, and hopefully when they’re done, they go back to being private citizens instead of making mischief for their successor.

The basic problem is that we have only the past to guide us. The future, no matter how hard we try to read it, remains a mystery until we get there. As the old song goes “What will be will be, the future’s not ours to see.” Doesn’t hurt to study up though.




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