American Elephants


Life’s Little Surprises Always Await Us. by The Elephant's Child

In the Wall Street Journal today, James Freeman brought up the historic tax reform that Trump signed in December may turn out to be his finest hour, ‘trumping’ even  the firing of James Comey. So many companies have reported positive news from the tax law, even though it’s barely four months old.  The Journal calculated that the four giants of American retail banking— JPMorgan, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Bank of America have saved a total of $2.3 billion in the first quarter thanks to the new federal corporate tax rate of 21%, down from 35%.

Is that a big deal? Nancy Pelosi is arguing that the tax cut is a useless disaster, and when the Democrats get back in they will promptly raise taxes back to where they should be. (This is a campaign promise? Why?)

Wages have been growing. “Kroger, Walmart, Target Corp. and other food retailers are investing savings from the federal tax law to boost worker pay and benefits, ” the Journal reported recently. John Kartch at the advocacy group Americans for Tax Reform has been keeping a running tally of businesses (now 507) responding to their lower tax bills by announcing pay raises, bonuses, and higher 401K matches. The good news began to arrive almost as soon as President Trump signed the legislation.

Democrats seem to have a hard time getting their minds around the basic consequences of economic incentives. The Labor Department has reported that this is oficially the best job market for those seeking work in the history of  U.S. government statistics. Lefties are quite sure that the best results come from soaking the rich, by which they seem to mean the Koch Brothers, rather than themselves and their friends and supporters.

Ann Althouse notes that a new WaPo poll “finds that the gap between support for Deocatic vs. Republican House candidates dropped more than half since the beginning of the year.” A WaPo/ABC News poll found that 78 percent of registered voters considered voting for a candidate whose views on gun rights and gun control matched their own was either very or extremely important. 21% said it was somewhat or not important at all.

Investors Business Daily reported in an editorial on the macroeconomic effects of the tax reform bill. The Congressional Budget Office admitted that they had vastly overestimated the cost of the Trump tax cuts, because it didn’t account for the strong economic growth they would generate.

In any case, the CBO now expects GDP to be $6.1 trillion bigger by 2027 than it did before the tax cuts.

The CBO report also makes clear that this faster-growing economy will offset most of the costs of the Trump tax cuts.

In a table buried in the appendix of the CBO report, it shows that, before accounting for economic growth, the tax cuts Trump signed into law late last year would cut federal revenues by $1.69 trillion from 2018-2027.

But it goes on to say that higher rate of GDP growth will produce $1.1 trillion in new revenues. In other words, 65% of the tax cuts are paid for by extra economic growth.

Well, goodness. There might just be some reason to question conventional wisdom. The Center for Immigration Studies reported a few weeks ago that Trump’s Wall on our Southern Border would, over time, pay for itself, because illegal immigrants add a lot of cost with their dependence on welfare, crime, benefits and health care.  Who knew?  One can only urge Ms. Pelosi to keep railing about the necessity of raising taxes.

Among other surprises, a previously unknown asteroid the size of a football field had a near miss with Earth on Sunday. It came within one half of the distance to the moon.  It was the largest known asteroid to pass that close to Earth in observational history. Life always has interesting little surprises for us, even if we are paying attention.

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Do You have the Feeling That There Is Something Wrong Out There? by The Elephant's Child

Do any of you have the sort of unsettled feeling that things are not quite as they are being portrayed? News made of too little information, asking the wrong people, not exactly President Trump’s “fake news”— but just an instinctive feeling that something is wrong out there. Here’s a post from Real Clear Investigations:

Broward County, Fla., school officials portray as a great success their Obama administration-inspired program offering counseling to students who break the law, instead of having them arrested or expelled. They insist that it played no role in February’s school massacre by Nikolas Cruz. They also claim that in fact juvenile recidivism rates are down and school safety is up, thanks to the program.

The evidence tells a far different story.

Broward County juvenile justice division records, federal studies of Broward school district safety and the district’s own internal reporting show that years of “intensive” counseling didn’t just fail to reform repeat offender Cruz, who allegedly went on to shoot and kill 17 people at his high school. Records show such policies have failed to curtail other campus violence and its effects now on the rise in district schools — including fighting, weapons use, bullying and related suicides.

Meanwhile, murders, armed robberies and other violent felonies committed by children outside of schools have hit record levels, and some see a connection with what’s happening on school grounds. Since the relaxing of discipline, Broward youths have not only brazenly punched out their teachers, but terrorized Broward neighborhoods with drive-by shootings, gang rapes, home invasions and carjackings.

Do read the whole thing. Things are not as they seem. We have entered an era when everything is being analyzed for its proportionality. There seemed to be a significant number of young students of color being sent to prison for commission of crimes. If the number of young people of color in prison for committing crimes was out of proportion to the general percentages of young people of color in society, clearly school teachers were cracking down on troublesome students because they were racially prejudiced. The “school to prison pipeline.” The Obama administration cracked down. Schools sending too many young people to prison would have to answer for their racism, and they would receive a visit from the feds.

This is apparently what happened with Nikolas Cruz, of Hispanic descent. His threats were recognized by the school officials, but because he was Hispanic and the federal government had said to ignore it, the school did not take the actions that they might have taken had there been no federal interference. The school had issued instructions that Cruz was not to be allowed to enter campus if he was wearing a backpack. And in their response to the killings, the school demanded that all students carry transparent backpacks so the contents could be seen. That does make it fairly clear, doesn’t it?

Tom Steyer continues to travel around the country urging college students to vote Democrat and to work for impeaching President Trump, thus aligning himself with Maxine Waters who is also demanding that President Trump be impeached. Neither one seems to have any particular high crime or misdemeanor for which they want him impeached—they just hate him. I suspect that Steyer is having fits over the useless environmental regulations being discarded, and perhaps the useless Paris Climate Accords.

Steyer is very green, and apparently a true believer that the Earth is dying without our immediate action to…? There are a remarkable number of people who appear at the front of any climate march in polar bear suits, though the polar bears are doing just fine according to the Canadian zoologist, Susan Crockford, who has become the world expert on all things polar bear and who issues a report each year on their progress. Their numbers are increasing comfortably, they are well fed and healthy.

When you hear or read something that seems, if not immediately wrong, at least questionable, do you plan to study up a little to see if it is indeed true, or do you just take the word of whatever article you read? Look at all the Lefties who insist that we would be far better off if we just kept all the petroleum products in the ground, where they belong. Wind and solar, their favored energy sources, deliver about 4% of our energy needs. How are their favored electric cars supposed to charge their batteries? How do our cars and trucks run? How does the food get delivered to our grocery stores? Starving to death is not a nice way to go.

Why do they keep circulating what Hollywood celebrities have to say, as if they know anything, or have any authority to speak out beyond the fact that we might recognize their names or faces?



Sunny Southern California And Smog by The Elephant's Child

Los Angeles smog

Scott Pruitt has been doing a great job of eliminating useless regulations at the EPA, so naturally the Left is going bonkers. Under the Obama administration, the EPA became a heavy handed armed bully, attacking innocent landowners, attempting to control all the waters of the United States, including the water draining from your downspouts. It was a vast overreach. The EPA was innocently founded by Congress with the idea that when great interstate projects were built, perhaps someone should be in charge of making sure they weren’t doing something damaging to the environment.

Downspouts are one thing, but Lefties are claiming that the Trump Administration’s plans to roll back the Obama fuel-mileage rules will increase pollution. Environmentalists have long blamed L.A.’s millions of cars and freeways for its smog, but even if most gas-burning vehicles were replaced by electric cars, L.A. would still have a smog problem. Los Angeles is a natural basin, ringed in by taller hills, a pollutant trapping topography, and sunny weather.

I lived in Los Angeles when it was smoggy, and it was bad. When you flew in, you’d look down at that brown soup and think— if I have to breathe that I’m going to die.

A recent study in the journal Science traced and measured volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in Los Angeles. In the presence of sunlight, these compounds react with NOx to form ozone and smog. Car exhaust was once a greater relative contributor of VOCs and NOx, but engines are now much cleaner.

Researchers at the University of Colorado found that petroleum-based chemicals such as those found in deodorant, soap, hair spray, household cleaners, pesticides and other commercial products account for about half of VOCs emissions in industrial cities. Gasoline fuel and exhaust make up about 32%.

So, if you want less smog, shower less, don’t clean your house so often, but trees and people also emit VOCs. The biological sources of VOCs are also responsible for the blue haze in the Appalachians. The real target of the greens are automobile carbon emissions, but if all vehicles had electric engines, would we have enough electricity to support the country’s power needs and run all our vehicles as well?

Of course that’s why the Left wants to get us all out of our cars and into the nice electric trains they are building. The new Seattle Mayor is talking about tolls to drive on downtown Seattle streets, which isn’t going to improve her popularity.



Tom Sowell on Immigration by The Elephant's Child

ThomasSowell

“What should American immigration policy be? It doesn’t matter what any of us think that policy should be if the borders are not secure, because whoever wants to come across that border will come across anyway in defiance of whatever the policy might be.

If legal benefits are conferred on illegal immigrants before the border is secured, we may as well give up any pretense that we have an immigration policy, because benefits conferred are never going to be taken back, no matter how porous the border remains.”



There Are Always Consequences. That’s How Life Works. by The Elephant's Child

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In his speech, Dennis Prager mentions the bad ideas of the Left, and rates the Self-Esteem Movement as possibly their worst idea ever. Back in 1945 Dr. Spock published his “Baby and Child Care” for the generation of the mothers of the Baby Boom when the fathers of the baby boom came home from World War II. “He began his book with the reassuring words:”Trust Yourself”, but as Kay Hymowitz wrote,”Not that he believed it.” For some it was a bible, others simply found it to be a comfortable reference. So when Nathaniel Brandon published a path-breaking paper in 1969 called “The Psychology of Self-Esteem” that argued that feelings of self-worth were a key to success in life, new parents were ready for advice, since they had been raised on Dr. Spock.

The American school system was ready for the”key to success in life” and  his big idea soon became the hot new thing in education. The California Legislature, always ready to be the leader, even established a “Self-Esteem Task Force” for the state’s schools. Competition was frowned upon. Soccer coaches quit counting goals and gave out trophies to everyone. Criticism was replaced with praise, even when undeserved. In Britain, which usually follows our fads, Author Melanie Phillips wrote in her book All Must Have Prizes in 2003;

 Alas, the latest pronouncement from those in charge of our exam system is truly beyond satire.

Their new idea for boosting examination success is to abolish the very idea of failure, along with the difference between the right and the wrong answer to a question.

Overpraising does not work. Kids know when they deserve praise, and false praise makes them become cynical about the undeserved praise they receive. They perform better with skilled and serious criticism rather than empty praise.

Seventy-six-million Americans were born between 1946 and 1964— the biggest generation ever, anywhere, and they became known as the Baby Boom. Tract houses, bomb shelters, hula hoops, an economic boom, assassinations, Rock and Roll, Vietnam, and protests. Society had a hard time dealing with the numbers of the Boomers—they were simply unprepared. The Sputnik Generation, the Pepsi Generation, Love Generation, Protest Generation, Woodstock Generation. The sheer numbers demanded, and got, attention. Great Expectations by Landon Jones  (1980) was a marvelous study about how society and the numbers interacted. They’re not through with us, as their retirement is playing hob with Social Security, Medicare and elder care as the first Boomers turn 73.

Boomers moved all over, and so did their children. New parents didn’t always have a parent  close by for advice. College and graduate schools admissions became harder. Unemployment went up, divorce went up.

In 1996, Dallas-Fort Worth broadcasters teamed up with local police to develop an early warning system to help find abducted children. AMBER stands for Americas Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response was created as a legacy to 9-year-old Amber Hageman, who was kidnapped while riding her bicycle in Arlington,TX and then brutally murdered. Other states and communities soon followed suit, and the idea was adopted, but that too had consequences.

Before there was AMBER, there were news reports of abducted children. Doesn’t take much of that before parents start monitoring their children’s activities more closely. We now have “helicopter parents” — moms who “hover”over over their children to protect them from the dangers of the world. Parents who allowed their children to walk to a nearby park were turned in to child protective services. “Play dates” have become fashionable, and children are walked to and from school.

Psychology Today has even published a report (2017) on “The Effects of ‘Helicopter Parenting'”, which is continuing into the college years as some parents call the school regularly to find out how their kids are doing and trying to make sure they will get into graduate school. All these trends, fashions, movements  have an effect and have consequences.

You can’t watch Dennis Prager’s speech and his comments on the Left’s Self-Esteem movement without thinking of the celebrated  “survivors” of the Parkland school shooting. CNN and Media Matters have used the very young David Hogg for their own purposes, which are banning guns and destroying conservative talk radio, as well as preparation for the midterm elections. This is the worst kind of child exploitation. They have taken the young man’s ill informed cause for gun control, and are using him as a puppet to attack Laura Ingraham by attacking her advertisers. When corporate heads follow the misguided lead of a 17 year-old kid, there will be some probably severe consequences for that as well.



Devin Nunes Reacts to the Inspector General’s Inquiry by The Elephant's Child

Pulling information out of the FBI and the CIA has been an interesting exercise. You can tell how frustrated Chairman Nunes is. They were absolutely sure that Hillary would win, and none of it would have to be covered up. The best laid plans …and all that.



The March for Our Lives Was Not What It Was Cracked Up to Be by The Elephant's Child

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The Left is very fond of “marches”— it feels really good, I guess, to be out being an activist for a cause your really believe in, as much as you believe in much of anything. That’s what the few studies that have been done seem to indicate—that they promote activism, but don’t have much of any effect on legislation. Lots of fellow feeling.

The “March for Our Lives” was, as is usual, not what it was cracked up to be. It wasn’t the voice of a new generation, the voice of the future, but the same middle-aged women from the Women’s March with some photogenic teenagers out front for the cameras. The Women’s March was 85 percent women. The March for Our Lives was 70% women. Only about 10% of the crowd were under 18. The average age of the adults was just under age 49. Only 12 percent of the people who were new to protesting said they were motivated to join the march because of the gun-control issue, though 60 percent of the experienced protesters were. The new protesters were motivated by peace (56 percent) and Trump (42 percent). Anti-War protesters are the most regular protesters. Lefty protests don’t really care about gun control, they hate Trump, the Right, and want the “U.S. Out of Everywhere” and the “Jews Out of Palestine.”

Daniel Greenfield did a marvelous job of digging out just who were the organizers and sponsors, and who directed the March. The kids who participated did not raid their piggy banks to get to the march. There were millions behind the funds.  The March for Our Lives Action Fund was overseen by six directors and incorporated in Delaware. Everytown for Gun Safety was formed out of two other groups: Moms Demand Action and Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Both of which are front groups for Michael Bloomberg, the lefty billionaire, and the group is really New York City. Lots of long-time activist professionals to direct the events, from Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington D.C. Florida was notably absent from the supporters. Lots of the usual Hollywood crowd.

Do read the whole thing to get an understanding of how these things work.  It has very little to do with Parkland. The mass shooting by Nikolas Cruz, which was badly fumbled and should have been prevented by the FBI. the Sheriff’s Office, the School District officials, or the school itself, who should be held responsible. Most of the participants have little idea of what actually went on. They shout about assault rifles, with no idea that there is no such thing, just ordinary rifles dressed up with some extra accessories to make them look sexier. The NRA is not some evil organization that sells guns. They support the second amendment and the shooting sports. Where I came from, people counted on hunting to fill the freezer for the winter. Others hunt ducks, or wild boar, or skeet.

 




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