American Elephants


Can Someone Explain The Democrats’ Ideology? by The Elephant's Child

Daniel Henninger ‘s column on Thursday in the Wall Street Journal was a particular gem (subscription barrier). Like most of us he is trying to grasp the current configuration of the Democratic Party. They are stuck. Don’t know where they are going nor why, don’t understand why they lost, and their ideas are all old, very old, and very tired.

On climate change, Democrats believe they know to the 10th decimal place that Earth is on the brink of an apocalypse. But by their own admission this week, they don’t have a clue about which way the wind is blowing with the American voter.

On Monday the Democrats released something called “A Better Deal,” a set of policy ideas to win back voters. Think of it as the party laying down the first quarter-mile of blacktop on its road back to power.

The short version of “A Better Deal” is that they would bust up corporate trusts (Teddy Roosevelt, circa 1902), ramp up public-works spending ( FDR, circa the Great Depression) and enact various tax credits (Washington, circa eternity).

The more interesting question here lies in the document’s unspoken subtext: How in God’s name did we lose a presidential election to . . . him?

There’s a very famous old cover of the New Yorker magazine demonstrating the map of the United States as the mind of New York city’s elite conceive of it. Hillary referred to middle America as “the deplorables” (probably one of the reasons she lost), and how many columns have you seen since the election explaining that those who voted for Trump were working class who were not college educated. The Democrats do like to emphasize the “not college educated” and “working class” which is, of course nonsense. The working class ( doesn’t almost everybody work?) is, I suppose, identified as those who work in the trades, or factory workers.

I know lots of people who graduated from college who didn’t learn much of anything from that experience, and lots of people who never attended college and have made a great success of their lives. Sneering at “flyover country” really identifies those who (usually incorrectly) think especially well of themselves. Most Americans think of themselves as middle class patriotic Americans, and that “class distinctions” were something we left behind with the Brits when we won the Revolution, and we enjoy when we watch old British movies and root for the “underclass” in the kitchen.

The American Dream has always been that anyone can rise and they can  hope that their kids can do better than they did. Equal opportunity, not equal outcome. That everyone has the opportunity to make the most of themselves and their talents and abilities. The idea that you can make everybody equal has always been absurd, but Democrats also seem to believe that you can fix human nature, and get rid of the annoying traits that they don’t like. But human nature, by definition, is immutable and unchangeable—even with leftist indoctrination and instruction. Unfortunately, you can’t teach lefties much of anything. It all seems to be ideology.

In the news, a 20-time deported Mexican national moved to a Sanctuary City, in this case, Portland, and allegedly broke into the home of a 65-year old woman, tied her up, held her at knifepoint, and raped her. Court records show a long criminal record, besides the 20 times he was deported. Criminal aliens are drawn to sanctuary cities. Some 300 jurisdictions in the country refuse to cooperate with immigration authorities.

In another case, Sanctuary cities are protecting MS-13 gang members from deportation. Can someone explain why Democrats defend Sanctuary Cities, and ignore the fact that they lure the criminal aliens, ignore the murders and violence? Surely the idea that the sanctuary designation allows them to feel good about their compassion  is not an adequate justification. That is merely an example in a long list of what would seem to be a very confused ideology. It makes no sense at all.



What is Fake News? by The Elephant's Child



Fake News and the Hunger for Information by The Elephant's Child

Johannes Gutenberg is widely credited with the invention of the first printing press in 1455. However Chinese monks had been using block prints even earlier, by A.D, 600, and there were attempts to create type as a means of conveying information. Too many characters in the Chinese language, and conveying important messages with blockprints didn’t really go anywhere.

The first newspaper in America was Public Occurrences, Both Foreign and Domestic, and the first (and last) issue was published in 1690. The 1st Amendment to the Constitution says “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom…of the press.” The Constitution establishes a government with three branches, but it does not establish a press or a media. What it does do is try to prohibit the government from trying to control what people say in the press or outside the press. Free speech.

It’s more useful to think about the way news was disseminated before there were a wide range of newspapers and subscriptions. Try to imagine a town crier, shouting out news of marriages, births and big events as he strolls around the town. People depended on riders to convey the news from one town to another. News of war and the battlefield had to wait until a rider could be sent back to town, and farmers and small communities were out of luck until someone happened by.

Illustrated news came to be long before photographs were invented, and depended on artists who could make reproducible engravings or blockprints. Americans yearned for news of the old country, but had to wait until a ship came in. Gold was discovered in California in January of 1848, but it wasn’t until December that the first rumors reached New York. Sailing ship going around the horn — the Panama Canal did not yet exist.

Samuel Morse invented the telegraph in 1844, and Morse code, but it wasn’t until 1860 that a bill was passed in Congress to authorize the telegraph to be built across the continent. They built from each coast with fascinating stories of Indians, the pony express, and the trans-continental line was completed on October 24th, 1862, linking the continent.

So here we are with “Fake News” and a profession is disrepute. The telegraph was followed by the telephone, the Atlantic Cable, photography, radio, movies, recordings, sailing ships were replaced by steam, the Panama Canal was built. Wars intervened, and news from the battlefield, but the front lines had to communicate with Division headquarters, and the medics, so there were runners. Then there were walkie-talkies. Each improvement in communication meant changes in the way things were done. Lives were saved.

With the advent of television, everyone said it was a great step forward, the American people would watch symphonies, the best of the New York stage, lectures, history. Uh huh.  They thought the same thing when we first got computers. You can watch porn online, and pretend comedians holding up an efigy of the head of a newly elected president. A goodly percentage of the people do not pay any attention to the news, and are open to the most partisan claims because they don’t understand what is happening. Cell phones, and people get mowed down on the street because they are paying attention to their phone instead of where they are going, and ditto for cars.

Victor Davis Hanson writes on the Media Meltdown between 2008 and 2016 at the Hoover Institution’s ‘Defining Ideas,’ and how it all happened. We are being manipulated by a partisan media, and the Left is capitalizing on focus-tested vocabulary and pictures to influence the unwitting—and unfortunately all of us are unwitting at least part of the time. I emphasize “the Left,” but of course the Right tries to do it too, but is not as skilled at manipulation, and more inclined to explanation.

So now we have reached a point telephone calls are made by robots, we have the immensely annoying telephone trees when you just want to shriek “I want to speak to a human.” We can turn on the air-conditioning or close the shades at home—from the office. Ordering anything online is killing the retail industry and you no longer have to go out to get dinner, you can have it delivered, as a kit to produce your own, or as a fully prepared meal. There’s a lot going on in that sector, and we can probably look forward to a time when we don’t have to cook at all.

What is becoming very clear is that new inventions will not develop in the way we assume. Our schools are making us dumber, and human nature being what it is, we probably won’t become wise consumers, very well-informed, or lifelong learners striving to know as much as we possibly can. After all, we’re still watching movies about comic book characters and playing silly games on our computers—rather than listening to symphonies and the finest Broadway productions.



Black, Millennial, Female and Conservative by The Elephant's Child



The NYT Claims Any Investigation of the Voter Rolls Is Designed to Keep Blacks from Voting And Is Racist, Sexist and Homophobic as Well by The Elephant's Child

President Trump has appointed a Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, which is chaired by Vice President Mike Pence, Republican, co-chaired by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, Republican, and its members include two Democratic secretaries of state, Matthew Dunlap, Maine, and Bill Gardner from New Hampshire — and a Democratic judge, Alan Lamar King, to make sure that the commission is a bipartisan effort to get to the bottom of the issue. One of the principal duties of the Secretary of State is to certify candidates and election results, so the person holding the office plays a key role in determining the result of a close election.

Democrats reacted with anger, complaining that the Commission was hardly needed as our elections were fair and Donald Trump’s suggestion that they weren’t fair was just another wild and false claim from this President.

I don’t know how many remember the “Secretary of State Project” which was an interesting effort by the Democrats.

The Secretary of State Project (SoSP) was established in July w006 as an independent “527” organization devoted to helping Democrats get elected to the office of secretary of state in selected swing, or battleground states; these were states where the margin of victory in the 2004 presidential election (between George W. Bush and John Kerry) had been 120,000 votes or less. …

The idea for SoSP germinated shortly after the 2004 election, when the Project’s co-founders blamed then Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, a Republican, for presidential candidate John Kerry’s defeat. To their chagrin, Blackwell had ruled that Ohio (where George W. Bush won by a relatively slim 118,599-vote margin) would not count provisional ballots, even those submitted by properly registered voters, if they had been submitted at the wrong precincts. Though the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit ultimately upheld Blackwell’s decision, SoSP’s founding members nonetheless received Blackwell’s ruling with the same bitterness they had felt regarding former Florida (Republican) Secretary of State Katherine Harris’s handling of the infamous ballot recount in 2000, when Bush defeated Al Gore in the presidential election.

You surely didn’t think that suspicions of vote fraud were something new, did you? Back in 2000, it was the Democrats who were shouting “One man, one vote” and claiming election fraud. By 2006, they were ready to do something about it. The idea was that few people know what a state Secretary of State does, candidates for that office don’t receive a lot of funding, so some comparatively small donations of a few hundred thousand could make sure the Democrat won the office. They set  up a 527 political committee (which allows the group to accept unlimited financing) and succeeded in electing the radical, Alinsky inspired, community organizer Mark Ritchie as Minnesota secretary of state, which paved the way for the stolen election of Al Franken. By the 2010 election the group had run out of steam and become inactive.

Deroy Murdock enumerates some of the proven examples from the 2016 election. Here are a few:

—In May 2016, CBS2 Los Angeles identified 265 dead voters in southern California. Many cast ballots “year after year.”

—The Heritage Foundation’s non-exhaustive survey confirms, since 2000, at least 742 criminal vote-fraud convictions.

—North Carolina announced in April 2014 that 13,416 dead voters were registered, and 81 of them recently had voted. Among 35,750 North Carolinians also registered in other states, 765 voted in November 2012, both inside and outside the Tarheel State.

—South Carolina’s attorney general concluded in January 2012 that 953 people “were deceased at the time of their participation in recent elections.”

—The Public Interest Legal Foundation recently discovered that Virginia removed 5,556 non-citizens from its voter rolls between 2011 and last May. Among these non-Americans, 1,852 had cast a total of 7,474 illegal ballots across multiple elections. But there is no vote fraud.

What made this particularly interesting was an article on the Opinion page of The New York Times, entitled “The Voter Purges Are Coming.

The Trump administration’s election-integrity commission will have its first meeting on Wednesday to map out how the president will strip the right to vote from millions of Americans. It hasn’t gotten off to the strongest start: Its astonishing request last month that each state hand over voters’ personal data was met with bipartisan condemnation. Yet it is joined in its efforts to disenfranchise citizens by the immensely more powerful Justice Department.

The requested lists are the public lists of actual voters required to be maintained by Secretaries of State, and the implication that they are personal and private is once again “fake news.” The inquiry into whether or not actual voters are legal voters is proper and needed. Democrats, who are always involved in any vote fraud they can get away with, form sanctuary cities where the presence of illegal aliens who are not able to vote, nevertheless are counted in the census, which controls how many representatives a state has. Enough illegals present may get the state another House seat. Democrats are apt to vote in the state where they live and the state where they have a vacation home as well. College students may vote in the state where they go to school, and in their home state as well. And illegal aliens do vote, using false or stolen Social Security numbers. Any attempt to eliminate vote fraud will be met with claims that Republicans are racist, sexist, homophobes, bigots, etc. etc., who are trying to cheat honest people out of the right to vote.

Do read the NYT screed, and notice that it comes from the president and chief executive of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human rights, and who was a head of the civil rights division of the Justice Department in the Obama administration. Any attempt to clean up the voter rolls will be met with anger, accusations, ugly names, and complete denial of any possibility of voter fraud at any time and anywhere.

 



The Interesting Relationship Between Online Business and American Retail Business. by The Elephant's Child

It’s pretty clear that online business is playing hob with retail in general. Retailers are hurting as consumers turn to online sources where they can get quick service, particularly from Amazon, and not have to go trailing through a mall to try to find what they need.

A story in the Wall Street Journal today exposes an uncomfortable relationship between the federal government and Amazon. “The U.S. Postal Service delivers Amazon’s boxes well below its own costs. Like an accelerant added to a fire, this subsidy is speeding up the collapse of traditional retailers in the U.S. and providing an unfair advantage for Amazon.”

This arrangement is an underappreciated accident of history. The post office has long had a legal monopoly to deliver first-class mail, or nonurgent letters. The exclusivity comes with a universal-service obligation—to provide for all Americans at uniform price and quality. This communication service helps knit this vast country together, and it’s the why the Postal Service exists.

But people went online too, and first class mail is down some 40% from its peak. I contact many friends by email now, rather than writing a letter, and you probably do too. The post office still visits each mailbox each day, but there’s less traditional mail, so the service has filled its spare capacity by delivering more boxes. But when the post office delivers 10 letters and one box and a passel of junk mail to one mailbox how do they allocate the cost of the postal worker, the truck, and the network and systems that support the postal worker?

In 2007 the Postal Service and its regulator determined that, at a minimum, 5.5% of the agency’s fixed costs must be allocated to packages and similar products. A decade later, around 25% of its revenue comes from packages, but their share of fixed costs has not kept pace. First-class mail effectively subsidizes the national network, and the packages get a free ride. An April analysis from Citigroup estimates that if costs were fairly allocated, on average parcels would cost $1.46 more to deliver. It is as if every Amazon box comes with a dollar or two stapled to the packing slip—a gift card from Uncle Sam.

Amazon is big enough to take full advantage of “postal injection,” and that has tipped the scales in the internet giant’s favor. Select high-volume shippers are able to drop off presorted packages at the local Postal Service depot for “last mile” delivery at cut-rate prices. With high volumes and warehouses near the local depots, Amazon enjoys low rates unavailable to its competitors. My analysis of available data suggests that around two-thirds of Amazon’s domestic deliveries are made by the Postal Service. It’s as if Amazon gets a subsidized space on every mail truck.

I don’t know which stores will be gone in a few years, or if they will survive. Right now, it’s clear that retail is hurting, and some retailers are in trouble. Will our malls survive? The federal government has”had its thumb on the competitive scale for far too long.” They need to stop picking winners and losers. I believe that the country will be better off if online and retail  compete and continue to survive.

I don’t know if the retail problems cover all kinds of goods or just some. Are Home Depot and Best Buy as much affected as say, Nordstrom and J.C. Penney? I need more evidence. Amazon just bought Whole Foods, in anticipation of making a big push for the grocery business, but Amazon is planning to build stores, where everything you select is tallied up automatically on your card as you take it off the shelf. We tried Amazon’s online groceries when too sick to get to the store, and it was prompt and  good service. Someone remarked that they saved money because they weren’t tempted with impulse items online. I prefer to go to the store.

The Government is subsidizing Elon Musk as he has fun with new engineering ideas, but Tesla is running into major problems, and solar is turning out to be a flop, just as his first experiments with this big vacuum tube thing for moving people has had it’s first success in a miniature version. All very interesting, but I don’t understand why he gets government subsidies. One might assume that we got an early lesson with Solyndra.

 



Trump Talks Tough, Trading Partners Pay Attention by The Elephant's Child

A study from Britain suggests that President Trump’s aggressive statements on trade may actually be influencing some of our trading partners. Critics suggested that Trumps blunt talk on trade fairness would alienate trade partners or even start trade wars. But the Center for Economic Policy Research in London reported that the other 19 G-20 economies steps, like quotas, duties or tariffs on U.S. imports are down by 29% since the first six months of last year, under a different administration.

Trump has ranted in public remarks and even tweets about the global playing field being tilted against U.S. trade. Trump sounds dangerous, and is clear about what is troubling him. Simon Everett, a professor of economics at St. Gallen University in Switzerland, one of the authors of the Global Trade Alert, wrote:

The G20 countries that had hit U.S. interests more often before President Trump was elected are the very G20 countries that have cut back on protectionism the most in 2017,” said . “Why should [they] do that unless they feared being singled out for retaliation?

On another front, the Trump administration has increased its efforts to deport criminal illegal immigrants by getting their home countries to stop blocking the transfers and take them back. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said that working with their partners at the Department of State, they have made significant improvement to cooperation on removals. The number of recalcitrant countries has dropped from 23 in May 2016 to 12 in May 2017, an ICE official said. Sanctuary cities will find that the president means business with them as well.

Recently, US courts have interfered. Last month, courts blocked the administration from deporting more than 1,000 Iraqis with horrific criminal records, claiming they might fact threats back home. ICE and the State Department have the legislative authority to punish countries refusing to take their own people back, by threatening to cut off their visa privileges, for example.We take our right to sovereign independence seriously. They need to understand that.

There’s lots of progress being made, even with some very difficult programs, although it gets no mention in the mainstream media. They’re just too focused on finding Russian connections or contacts to notice. Not that they would mention any accomplishment by the Trump administration anyway. I think we’ve established that they have some rather strange ideas about what the profession of journalism requires.




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