American Elephants


The Red Tape Is Far More Than Annoying — It Has a More Sinister Purpose by The Elephant's Child

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In a previous post, I linked to an essay by Myron Magnet from City Journal titled “Why are Voters So Angry,” and I added my usual “Do read the whole thing,” but most of you didn’t (I can tell because WordPress tells me how many clicked on each link). So I’m posting another  link and urging you to read the whole essay once again.

The problem is the Administrative State. Socialists, who abound on the Left, have given up on the government’s owning the means of production (and thereby enriching themselves). They have realized that they don’t have to own America’s businesses, they can just control them with government regulation. And their control is far advanced, and nobody seems to recognize just what is happening.

Myron Magnet starts at the beginning and explains just how we have lost control of our government and what we need to do about it. Most adults not part of the Loony Left recognize that socialism is not a good form of government, and ends up as Venezuela, Cuba or Stalinist Russia, in hunger and poverty and desperation. Most adults excludes, of course the Bernie-worshiping Millennials who don’t know about Venezuelans starving and dying without medicine, and just think he’s kind of cute with his great shock of white hair.

But if we cease to enshrine American exceptionalism at the heart of our culture—if we set equal value on such Third World cultural tendencies as passive resignation, fatalism, superstition, devaluation of learning, resentment of imaginary plots by the powerful, and a belief that gratification deferred is gratification forgone—the exceptionalism of our institutions becomes all the more precarious.

Supercharging American anger over illegal immigration and its consequences is the politically correct ban on openly discussing it, with even the most reasoned reservation dismissed as racism and yahooism. And political correctness generates its own quantum of anger among citizens, who think of freedom of speech and debate as central to American exceptionalism. But elite culture stigmatizes plain speaking, so that now a rapist or a murderer is a “person who committed a crime” or an “individual who was incarcerated,” says the Obama Department of Justice, or, according to the latest humbug from the Department of Education, a “justice-involved individual.” Implicit in these euphemisms is the theory that “society,” not the criminal, is to blame for crime, a long-exploded idea aimed at blurring the distinction between right and wrong.

Well, there you go. That’s what I have just been going on about. Here we are in a mortal battle for the future of our country with candidates we hardly would have chosen as our champions. Hillary has essentially promised to continue Obama’s current drift into catastrophe, if only we will allow her to be America’s first woman something or other, and Donald Trump who has recognized the anger and frustration and answered it  with a burst of pure populism.

Jobs are created by the private sector, which makes the economy grow. Jobs created by the federal government just mean another cost to the taxpayers for agencies that cannot fulfill the task assigned to the agency. I’m not sure I can find an agency without a scandal attached. They are paid 78% more than their counterparts in the private sector, and there isn’t really enough work for them to do. The average federal employee earns about $119,000 annually, including salary and benefits, compared to $67,000 for the private sector. And they are receiving that generous compensation for plastering the private sector with so many regulations and so much red tape that the private sector cannot provide the engine of free market capitalism at which they have been so successful.

Read Myron Magnet’s essay on the Administrative State, and pass it on to family and friends. It is important that people realize what is happening to our country. Unfortunately the Left’s big ideas don’t work in the long term, or did you think that those quaint old cars in the Castro’s Cuba were there as theater for the tourists?



Lots of Name-Calling, Not Much Common Sense! by The Elephant's Child

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution reads:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment
of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;
or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press,
or the right of the people peaceably to assemble,
and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The establishment of religion bit means that the government shall not establish a state religion nor prefer one religion over another. Seems simple, but there have been continuous arguments over the meaning ever since.

In the current discussions of Moslem immigration, we are enjoined by fear of being called Islamophobic, bigoted, and, of course, racist—or be accused of violating the Constitution. Yet Americans watch what is going on in Europe as they try to cope with the influx of Muslim migrants and are deeply concerned that the numbers of “Syrian refugees” that President Obama is trying to get into the country will lead to similar rashes of killings by adherents of a radical version of Islam.

Most of Europe is more concerned about anti-migrant backlash than of figuring out how to deal with the migrants. The entire issue is deeply confused by fear of seeming not sufficiently compassionate, and leads to an absurd situation where the President of the United States scolded the American people for expecting him to at least  use the phrase ‘radical Islam’ in response to the massacre in Orlando.

“For a while now the main contribution of some of my friends on the other side of the aisle have made in the fight against ISIL is to criticize this Administration and me for not using the phrase ‘radical Islam,’” Mr. Obama said Tuesday, using his preferred acronym for Islamic State. “That’s the key, they tell us. We cannot beat ISIL unless we call them ‘radical Islamists.’ What exactly would using this label accomplish? What exactly would it change?”

Since the President asked, allow us to answer. We’re unaware of any previous American war fought against an enemy it was considered indecorous or counterproductive to name. Dwight Eisenhower routinely spoke of “international Communism” as an enemy. FDR said “Japan” or “Japanese” 15 times in his 506-word declaration of war after Pearl Harbor. If the U.S. is under attack, Americans deserve to hear their President say exactly who is attacking us and why. You cannot effectively wage war, much less gauge an enemy’s strengths, without a clear idea of who you are fighting.

Mr. Obama’s refusal to speak of “radical Islam” also betrays his failure to understand the sources of Islamic State’s legitimacy and thus its allure to young Muslim men. The threat is religious and ideological.

Islamic State sees itself as the vanguard of a religious movement rooted in a literalist interpretation of Islamic scriptures that it considers binding on all Muslims everywhere.

The administration is attempting, as usual, to ignore the standard refugee settlement process in America, and the UN and the administration are scheming to find other ways to boost the number of “Syrian refugees” entering the country, from 10,000 this year to possibly 200.000 a year.

Refugees and government officials are expecting this crisis to last 10 or 15 years. It’s time that we no longer work as business as usual … UNHCR next month [March 2016] is convening a meeting to look at what are being called “alternative safe pathways” for Syrian refugees. Maybe it’s hard for the U.S. to go from 2,000 to 200,000 refugees resettled in a year, but maybe there are ways we can ask our universities to offer scholarships to Syrian students. Maybe we can tweak some of our immigration policies to enable Syrian-Americans who have lived here to bring not only their kids and spouses but their uncles and their grandmothers. There may be ways that we could encourage Syrians to come to the U.S. without going through this laborious, time-consuming process of refugee resettlement.” (Emphasis added.)

“USC has revealed that it is offering five free tuition programs for Syrian refugees, including one in the school’s journalism program.”

It seems to me that some straight talk would help the situation. In the United States, we do not allow “honor killings,” homosexuals are accepted, not killed. and killers go to prison for a very long time or face execution.  Wife-beating or child abuse are against the law as is sexual assault. People are free to change their religion if they choose, and adherents of one religion are not allowed to attack those of a different religion. Our freedom of speech applies to everyone, and people may have differing opinions without fear. It’s not “Islamophobic” to tell people what they can expect, but may be helpful.

Bremen, Germany —”24 cases of migrant sexual assault at Music Festival.”

Zirndorf, Germany — Explosion of suitcase bomb next to migrant reception centre reported Bavarian Radio



“Free Societies Cannot Survive Through Progressive Accommodations to Barbarians” by The Elephant's Child

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What image comes to mind when you hear the term “refugees?” I think of  refugees fleeing on foot with their worldly goods in wheelbarrows or handcarts  before the advance or the Russian armies. Old movies, I guess, or photographs from World War II history books. I’d bet that’s the image Angela Merkel has as well, perhaps with some French refugees fleeing the Wehrmacht for a modicum of guilt. Something like that was surely in her mind when she invited “refugees” from the war in Syria.

According to a post at Zero Hedge, “where in the past refugees were assumed to be fleeing turmoil — war, political oppression, religious persecution, or even some major natural disaster — in most cases restricted to a locale region or nation; such clarity is no longer evident. To a great extent, today’s refugees are either refugees-of-convenience, solely seeking a better economic life; or hybrid refugees, where economics plays a major role, if parasitic to turmoil, in their decision to flee their native lands.”

The flood of refugees, or migrants, were at first welcomed with open arms and compassion, but it soon appeared that they were not only not that grateful, but resentful and there was a notable clash of civilizations. The people for the most part, were quicker to realize what was happening than their governments. A clash of civilizations was a topic that was considered off limits. But there are deep divisions between the secular democracies and a significant number of its Muslim community.  There has been significant recruiting by strains of Islam that are linked to terrorism.

  • July 26th — Priest executed while serving mass.
  • July 26th — Doctor shot in Berlin
  • July 24th — Machete -wielder kills woman in Reutlingen
  • July 24th —Bomber kills self, injures 15 in Ansback
  • July 22nd — Shooting rampage in Munich 9 dead
  • July 18th  — man with axe injures 5 near Wurzburg
  • July 14th — Truck attack in Nice kills 84
  • March 22nd — Bombers kill 32 in Brussels
  • Nov. 13th — Gunmen and bombers kill 130 in Paris

From Zero Hedge: “How George Soros Singlehandedly Created The European Refugee Crisis — And Why”  A short position in troubled Deutsche Bank and betting against the S&P via a 2.1-million-share put option on the SPDR S&P 500 ETF. Then a $264 million position is Barrick Gold, whose share price jumped over 14% since Brexit.”

Here’s another headline, this time from the Daily Caller: “Obama Administration Joint Effort With Corporations Can Resettle Refugees Limitlessly”  “The White House announced last week that it is launching a “Call to Action” asking private businesses to help with the resettlement of refugees. This could be done without regard to the government cap of 85,000 total refugees, including 10,000 Syrian refugees, in 2016.” Let’s find a way around a government cap, of course.

Also from the Daily Caller “After Importing Thousands of Refugees, Canadians now Say Muslim Immigrants have ‘Fundamentally Different Values’ ” Eventually you notice.

Bret Stephens at The Wall Street Journal in a series of articles has provided some of the most sensible commentary.

More important, Europeans will have to learn that powerlessness can be as corrupting as power—and much more dangerous. The storm of terror that is descending on Europe will not end in some new politics of inclusion, community outreach, more foreign aid or one of Mrs. Merkel’s diplomatic Rube Goldbergs. It will end in rivers of blood. Theirs or yours?

In all this, the best guide to how Europe can find its way to safety is the country it has spent the best part of the last 50 years lecturing and vilifying: Israel. For now, it’s the only country in the West that refuses to risk the safety of its citizens on someone else’s notion of human rights or altar of peace.

Europeans will no doubt look to Israel for tactical tips in the battle against terrorism—crowd management techniques and so on—but what they really need to learn from the Jewish state is the moral lesson. Namely, that identity can be a great preserver of liberty, and that free societies cannot survive through progressive accommodations to barbarians.



Milton Friedman Explains Free Trade. This is the Classic. by The Elephant's Child

This is a classic long (48 min.) lecture by Milton Friedman from 1978, in which he explains free trade and tariffs, how they work, why we get confused, trade deficits and government interference. There’s a long section where the film is bad (in the original) with snow/static/ interference early in the film, but it clears up fairly promptly at about 20.42 and remains clear for the remainder of the video. You can still hear Milton Friedman perfectly well throughout. Take notes. Play again until you feel confident that you have it down.

Here’s another, in which Milton Friedman debates a protectionist. It’s from January 2012, and is between Milton Friedman, Michael Walker, and Steven Cohen, from the “Time to Choose”series. This one is just over 15 minutes long.

Our politicians are just ordinary human beings like the rest of us, and they get just as many nutty ideas as we do. Many of the Republicans who are as yet uncomfortable with Donald Trump, are because of his misunderstanding of the Trade issue. Many assume that a “trade deficit” is a bad thing, but do not recognize that the excess dollars we pay for a large quantity of stuff from another country must be invested in the United States. This is not to suggest that there are not some very bad deals, but free trade is the goal.



It’s Going to Be a Very Ugly and Angry Campaign! by The Elephant's Child

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This is going to be a poisonously vicious campaign. We have two candidates with very high negatives, and there are many in each party who are not happy with their party’s choice of candidate.  Here’s the Left’s reaction to Donald Trump’s nomination as the Republican candidate for the office of the presidency.

Do  you think that the word possibly went out that “dark” was the word of choice to describe Trump’s speech? Some threw in an extra word, like “resentful”, “Angry”, “diabolical.”Does an e-mail just go out to all the major leftist magazines and websites.? I’d love to see that one hacked. I’ve always wondered just how they do it, and how they get everyone to promptly fall in line.

Donald Trump’s speech pointed out the crime rate, the troubled cities dominated by minorities, the numbers of blacks killed, the numbers of policemen killed, black children killed. The reporters on the left rose as one and dashed for the fact checkers. Obviously racist to blame black people for killing other black people. And found to their astonishment that the figures quoted by Mr. Trump were absolutely correct.

Keep an eye out, next up will be assertions that Mr. Trump is fascist, and racist.  Rachel Maddow has already compared Mr. Trump to Hitler. (So original!) Here’s Salon:

The final night of the Republican National Convention was as confusing and incoherent as it was disturbing. Before Donald Trump brought forward his chilling imitation of history’s greatest fascists, Ivanka Trump and Peter Thiel made bizarre plays for the votes of women and LGBT people.

Ivanka Trump riffed on issues like equal pay and affordable childcare, which are typically Democratic issues. Thiel announced that he’s “proud to be gay” to wild applause from a roomful of people who are the very base that voted against the rights and dignity of LGBT people, over and over again.

Democrats are deeply worried. Hillary does not have the campaign skills that Bill did, people justifiably do not trust her, and the graft in which the Clintons engaged through the Clinton Foundation is beginning to become public knowledge. The people do not understand why she has not been indicted, and believe that the fix is in. And, frankly, she is just not likeable, and the Democrats know it.

Many Republicans are concerned about Mr. Trumps understanding of trade. He seems to believe that a “trade deficit” means that we are getting cheated. He is opposed to NAFTA which has been a very successful agreement for all three partners. He is  correct about the Trans-Pacific Partnership which is not a good deal for the U.S.

He has a large following among a very angry percentage of the population who are sick of illegal immigration, haven’t had a raise in years, are tired of excessive regulation, the faltering economy, and a president who is trying to run the country through executive orders, and ignoring the Constitution. Many black Americans have been disappointed in President Obama. They expected race relations to improve, not to develop into shootings and riots. Union members too, are responding to Trump’s message of hope. He has focused on the top issue of the day, which is the crime rate, and talked about creating jobs. The campaign has become more disciplined.

He said that Hillary has asked her people to chant just three words: “I’m with her!” Mr. Trump said he had a different chant that was also just three words — “I’m with you!”

It was a powerful moment.



We Thought They Weren’t Taking ISIS As Seriously As They Should! by The Elephant's Child

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Some have said that Hillary’s greatest accomplishment as Secretary of State was to make John Kerry look competent.

Secretary Kerry was in Vienna Friday to amend the Montreal Protocol to phase out hydroflurocarbons, or HFCs, from basic household and commercial appliances like air conditioners, refrigerators, and inhalers.” (Offhand, one would think mid-July a poor time to be suggesting any ban on air conditioners and refrigerators)

Kerry was meeting with 45 nations’ defense ministers and foreign ministers, working together on the challenge of the Islamic State and terrorism. “It’s hard,” he said,” for some people to grasp it, but what we — you — are doing here right now is of equal importance because it has the ability to literally save life on the planet itself.”

According to the Washington Free Beacon, “Secretary of State John Kerry said in Vienna that air conditioners and refrigerators are as big a threat to life as the threat of terrorism posed by groups like the Islamic State.”

Perhaps Mr. Kerry is merely following up on the Democratic Platform which calls for a WWII-Scale Mobilization to Solve the Climate Crisis:

Democratic platform 2016: ‘We are committed to a national mobilization, and to leading a global effort to mobilize nations to address this threat on a scale not seen since World War II. In the first 100 days of the next administration, the President will convene a summit of the world’s best engineers, climate scientists, policy experts, activists, and indigenous communities to chart a course to solve the climate crisis.’

With all of the excitement focused on the GOP Convention in Cleveland, we missed the Senate Democrats’ “Web of Denial” Climate Change Event.

“Climate change is real,” asserted Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Jean Shaheen (D-NH), and Martin Heinrich (D-NM). So what? Gravity and sunrise are also real. That doesn’t imply we cause them or that we would be better off without them. Climate has been changing since the origin of the atmosphere. The only constant about climate is change.

Furthermore, the world has mostly cooled for the last 3000 years.

It is warmer in urban areas, because of manmade air conditioners and trucks and cars and concrete buildings that reflect heat. “But the only place where carbon dioxide (CO2) increase causes a temperature increase is in computer models programmed to show exactly that”.

Every record from every time period shows that temperature increase precedes CO2 increase, not the other way around.

We cannot predict the future. Everybody tries, but it just doesn’t work.Think 1929, Pearl Harbor, 9/11, Paris, Nice, Orlando, and climate is no different.”Not even the world’s leading experts can meaningfully forecast future climate. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated the following in its 2001 Assessment Report:”

The climate system is a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.

Dr. Tim Ball, climate scientist, adds “No wonder every single prediction they have made since 1990 was wrong! If your prediction is wrong, your science is wrong.”

“Across the world $1 billion is spent each and every day on climate science — and mostly wasted.”

So here’s a quick little quiz with just five easy questions to to test your climate knowledge, and those of your friends:



How Corruption Starts and How it Grows. All Perfectly Innocent of Course. by The Elephant's Child

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Just a coincidence, or a sign of the times? Victor Davis Hanson’s column yesterday spoke of “Alphabet Soup Corruption” in which he pointed out that there is hardly a single government agency or cabinet whose reputation has not nosedived since 2008. Scandals abound, from the EPA to the IRS, NASA, VA, ICE, DHS, and the Secret Service, the GSA, HHS,  and Medicare and the Affordable Care Act, and many more.  I’ve been saving articles about agency scandals, and I’m getting quite a collection.

What do all these scandal and embarrassments have in common? Aside from the fact that many appointees were selected based on their progressive bona fides and that they saw their missions to promote liberal causes, sometimes even at the cost of overriding their own agencies’ mandates, there was a widespread sense that the law simply did not apply to them. The President set the tone with a series of executive orders that overrode federal immigration law. He arbitrarily suspended some elements of the Affordable Care Act for fear that they would prove unpopular in the months before the 2012 election, and has bypassed congressional oversight and jurisdiction, whether by sidestepping the Senate’s ratification of treaties with the Iran deal or allowing the EPA to create new laws regulating coal plants and water standards that were never ratified by Congress.

The ensuing message was that social awareness, fairness, and egalitarianism trumped the rule of law. And the result was that an IRS director, a Secretary of State, an Attorney General, and a Department of Homeland Security Director were assessed not by whether they executed the law but by whether they promoted a progressive agenda.

So today we have an announcement from the White House Council of Economic Advisors — supposedly an independent group of scholars and economists ‘who were supposed to give the president non-partisan advice on economic issues.”

Their idea seems to be that since college graduates are apt to earn more than those who have not gone to college, in the aggregate, then their earning more will boost the economy, therefore their debt is a good thing. American Thinker added:

Student loan debt has nearly doubled under President Obama, from $664 billion to $1.3 trillion. So how does being buried under a mountain of debt help the economy?

It doesn’t.

Not every kid heading to college will major in something that guarantees a financially rewarding career.  Think dance, or women’s studies, or any of the other “studies” majors. Offhand, I can think of far more majors that are not directed to a well-paid career than those that are. And young people often pursue that which is fashionable at the moment rather than rewarding. I recall a conversation with my daughter in which she announced haughtily that she just couldn’t see herself sitting in a cubicle shoving papers around on a desk. ( I should remind her of that one again).

As far as that goes, there are many very successful careers that do not require a college education. Peter Thiel has reportedly established the Thiel Fellowship Program for college students which offers  $100,000 to college students with venture ideas who agree to drop out of college and pursue their venture. He’s thinking of the kids who have ideas that “just won’t wait.”

There is some decidedly fuzzy thinking going on in the White House. President Obama assumes that every kid should go to college, which would eliminate all sorts of entrepreneurs and all sorts of careers. The idea that student loan debt boosts the economy is only loosely tethered to reality. Unemployed students or those defaulting on their loans leave taxpayers on the hook. Students may be too fiscally ignorant to be able to make good choices about how much debt is prudent. It should be the obligation of colleges to be good guides.

Colleges and Universities have grown lush with resort-like climbing walls and gyms, and way too many administrators. When the federal government raises the amount students can borrow, the cost of college goes up across the board. We need some serious fiscal restraint here.




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