American Elephants


Words of Wisdom: Copy and Send to Your School Board by The Elephant's Child

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“Schooling is done in public places, but the roots of an education grow only in the hidden ground of the mind. Lessons are taught in social institutions but they can be learned only by private people. The acts that are at once the means and the end of education: knowing, thinking, understanding, judging, are all committed in solitude. It is only in a mind that the work can be done. There is no such thing as “collective thinking.” Our schools can be an instrument for socialization or an incentive to thoughtfulness, but they cannot be both.”

…”At the root of our widespread and institutionalized illiteracy is a fevered commitment to socialization and an equally unhealthy hostility to the solitary, and thus probably anti-social work of the mind. In school, the inane and uninformed regurgitations of the ninth-grade rap session on solar energy as a viable alternative to nuclear power are positive, creative, self-esteem-enhancing student behavioral outcomes; the child who sits alone at the turning of the staircase, reading, is a weirdo. The students did not bring that “appreciation” to school: they learned it there.”
………………………………………………………. Richard Mitchell
……………………………………………………….The Graves of Academe



Fooling the Public and Manipulating the Media by The Elephant's Child

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On May 5th, The New York Times Magazine published a lengthy interview with Ben Rhodes, President Obama’s deputy national security adviser.  Mr. Rhodes “travels with the president, sees him all day long, and not only writes his speeches and communications strategies but also shapes the content of policy.”

The piece was titled “The Aspiring Novelist Who Became Obama’s Foreign-Policy Guru: How Ben Rhodes rewrote the rules of diplomacy for the digital age” by David Samuels. It was a revealing interview. Mr. Rhodes says he has a sort of mind-meld with the president. Much has been made of the fact that Rhodes was working on an M.F.A. in creative writing, and now he channels the president’s consciousness into an optimistic narrative that shapes the president’s foreign policy.

Rhodes strategized and ran the successful Iran-deal messaging campaign, helped negotiate the opening of American relations with Cuba after a hiatus of more than 50 years and has been a co-writer of all of Obama’s major foreign-policy speeches. “Every day he does 12 jobs, and he does them better than the other people who have those jobs,” Terry Szuplat, the longest-tenured member of the National Security Council speechwriting corps, told me. On the largest and smallest questions alike, the voice in which America speaks to the world is that of Ben Rhodes.

Rhodes is a storyteller who” uses a writer’s tools to advance an agenda that is packaged as politics but is often quite personal.”

His lack of conventional real-world experience of the kind that normally precedes responsibility for the fate of nations — like military or diplomatic service, or even a master’s degree in international relations, rather than creative writing — is still startling.

The revelations of how the campaign to sell the Iran Deal to the public was developed, and though planned from the first days of Obama’s presidency, the “story” of the Iran deal began in 2013 when a “moderate” faction inside the Iranian regime led by Hassan Rouhani beat regime “hard-liners” in an election and then began to pursue a policy of “openness,” which included a newfound willingness to negotiate the dismantling of its illicit nuclear-weapons program.”

The president announced the nuclear deal on July 14, 2015: “Today, after two years of negotiations, the United States, together with our international partners, has achieved something that decades of animosity has not.” Actually the meaningful part of negotiations with Iran took place in mid-2012, many months before Rouhani and the moderate group where chosen in an election among candidates handpicked by the supreme leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. There was never any new reality in Iran nor any moderate faction. With this one bold move, the administration would begin the process of a large- scale disengagement from the Middle East, which had always been Obama’s goal.

With the smug innocence of the morally superior, Mr. Rhodes revealed far too many truths about manipulating the media, his contempt for the press, and how he manages the flow of information. Since the actions of the Obama administration are obviously correct, selling the deal to Congress, and framing the deal as a choice between peace and war was Rhodes strategy.

Guided by his moral superiority, Rhodes neglected to consider that the American people aren’t much on being deliberately lied to, and the media isn’t enthusiastic about being manipulated, and especially about that being publicly revealed.

Articles about Ben Rhodes, about the NYT Magazine piece, and about the lies in presenting the Iran Deal have been forthcoming in a steady flow from all over the world. Congress has invited Mr. Rhodes to come testify about his part in the episode and it is suggested that if he does not turn up voluntarily, he will be subpoenaed.



Another Dismal Jobs Report From an OverRegulated Economy by The Elephant's Child

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The American economy added the fewest number of jobs in April—in seven months.  The job gains in April were the smallest number since last September, and below the average of 200,000 new jobs. Nonfarm payrolls increased by only 160,000 jobs, a disappointing number when the population continues to grow. The numbers for February and March were revised to show 19,000 fewer jobs than originally reported.

The unemployment rate held steady at 5.0 percent, but that was because more people were dropping out of the labor force.

A separate report explained why the U.S. economy isn’t adding as many jobs as it used to. Wayne Crews from the Competitive Enterprise Institute rolled out his annual report card on federal regulation called “The Thousand Commandments.” Rules and regulations from the federal government are now imposing $1.9 trillion in annual costs on the U.S. economy. Add to that official government spending which adds up to $3.9 trillion—that’s a big chunk of taxpayer money going to the government.

Remember, the government has no money of its own. Every cent comes out of taxpayers’ wallets. That means that people have less and less to spend, and when the people don’t spend, business suffers. It’s not enough that sales are down, but the government feels it necessary to tell businesses what to do and how to do it.

The Left has a great deal of trouble understanding this simple fact of life. They believe it is their task to tell businesses how to operate, under what circumstances, and what rules, and then are simply astounded when the number of new jobs fall and business isn’t prospering and creating jobs. Simply demanding extra paperwork means somebody has to take time away from other more useful tasks to fill out more reports. That costs money. Hoover Institution senior fellow John H. Cochrane reported in early May that:

Sclerotic growth is America’s overriding economic problem. From 1950 to 2000, the U.S. economy grew at an average rate of 3.5% annually. Since 2000, it has grown at half that rate—1.76%. Even in the years since the bottom of the great recession in 2009, which should have been a time of fast catch-up growth, the economy has only grown at 2%. Last week’s 0.5% GDP report is merely the latest Groundhog Day repetition of dashed hopes.

Here’s the problem. Republicans talk about cutting regulation and a free market economy, and most people doze off before they even get to the nitty-gritty. But if you want creativity, businesses hiring and expanding, that’s how it happens. Progressives think that it happens by federal agencies demanding more hiring and making more rules for how they should go about it. They assume that anyone working in a government agency is by nature smarter and more attuned to the real world than people who actually work for a living.

A perfect example is a study that shows many employers are hiring more freelancers to avoid having to pay for the increased costs of health insurance caused by the Affordable Care Act. “Nearly one-third of companies intend to work towards “eliminating”  healthcare benefits because of the ACA and 60 percent intend to hire more freelance employees than full-time people. We told them that ObamaCare was going to cost lots more than they expected, but they didn’t believe it.

 



Crime and Punishment and the Illusions of the Left by The Elephant's Child

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An official from the U.S. Department of Justice has said the agency will no longer call people “felons” or “convicts” after they are released from prison — because it is too hard for them emotionally.

This fits right in with the Obama administration plan to release large numbers of “non-violent”  felons to remedy “mass incarceration.” To a liberal, crime is never the fault of the perpetrator. It is the fault of society, the criminal’s parents, his lack of a good education, poverty, drugs, or lack of opportunity. Federal prisons are filled with “first-time, non-violent drug offenders” they claim, who were caught up by the criminal justice system and imprisoned, unfairly, for years. This conviction is behind the current drive for criminal justice reform.

Mass incarceration of such prisoners tears apart families, and most of these unfairly imprisoned and nearly innocent are African American, which means that the system is deeply racist. Trouble is that all of these popular buzz words are bunk. There is no mass incarceration. Each prisoner is there because he was arrested for committing a felony, was convicted by a judge and jury or pleaded guilty, may have appealed the sentence or chose not to to appellate courts and received all the rights of due process that are provided by the U.S.Constitution.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics shows that almost all drug offenders in federal prison are serving sentences for drug trafficking, which does not mean selling small amounts of marijuana or heroin.

The Butterfield Fallacy is also at work here. Because crime has decreased, it is believed there is no need for so many people to be in prison. Wrong assumption. Crime is down in a simple cause and effect matter. Because so many criminals are in prison, there is less crime. The vast majority of prisoners are in state prisons, not federal prisons. Recidivism rates for chronic drug traffickers are over 75 percent, in other words three quarters of those released will be arrested again for committing serious crimes. And for every arrest, such criminals commit, on average, twelve other unsolved crimes.

Malcolm B. Benson pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in 1995, and spent 19 years behind bars. He was released early for good behavior in January 2015. It took him only nine months to kill a 59 year-old Army veteran who was waiting at a bus stop on his way to work, when Benson shot him during a botched robbery. Recidivism is common.  According to Breitbart —

Over the past several years, the U.S. Sentencing Commission has ordered the release of thousands of serious criminals from federal prison, and in 2014 reduced the guidelines for all drug traffickers, regardless of the type of drug, criminal history, history of violence, gang or cartel ties making over 46,000 convicted drug traffickers eligible for early release. It is estimated that the bills now pending in Congress could make another 12,000 eligible for early release.

Jason L. Riley, writing in the Wall Street Journal. asked plaintively:

Why the fate of criminals should matter more than the fate of crime victims is a question that went largely unasked, let alone answered, during last week’s bipartisan celebration of President Obama’s decision to release dozens of individuals from prison and push for looser sentencing guidelines.

If the president is to be believed, it is not the prevalence of thugs that turns black ghettos into living nightmares for residents. Rather, the police, prosecutors and judges who pursue lawbreakers are the bigger cause for concern.

“A growing body of research shows that people of color are more likely to be stopped, frisked, questioned, charged, detained,” said Mr. Obama in his recent address to the NAACP. “What is that doing to our communities? What’s that doing to those children? Our nation is being robbed of men and women who could be workers and taxpayers, could be more actively involved in their children’s lives, could be role models, could be community leaders.”

This is apparently a big part of President Obama’s effort to establish a legacy. He is attempting to empty the detention center at Guantanamo Bay as well, and no new detainees have been held there. He just released the detainee responsible for the attack on the USS Cole, and the deaths of 17 servicemen. Congress has acted to make it illegal to bring detainees to the United States, but none seem to be tried by Military Commissions, as was the original intent, and most of those released have returned to the battle against Americans.

ADDENDUM:The White House “announced that they have commuted the sentences of 58 federal convicts, part of a broader push to revamp the criminal justice system and ease punishments for nonviolent drug offenders.”
Those whose prison terms were cut short include 18 who were sentenced to life terms.. Most will be released on September 2, though others will be released over the next 2 years.This group includes defendants who were convicted of selling cocaine, crack and methamphetamine, and makes a total of 306 whose sentences Obama has commuted.



Communicating With the American People: We Don’t Like Being Lied To! by The Elephant's Child

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“The rate of real economic growth is the single greatest determinate of America’s strength as a nation and the well being of the American people.” President Obama has not delivered a single year of 3,0% growth. The Commerce Department reported that the U.S. economy expanded at the slowest pace in two years, rising at an anemic 0.5% rate after a 1.4% fourth quarter advance. Not good, and one of the reasons why so many people are angry.

From Investors Business Daily:

Legacy: The same day the 0.5% GDP growth came out, President Obama is quoted in the New York Times saying the country has done “better” than “any large economy on Earth in modern history.” Delusional doesn’t begin to cut it.

The only real problem with the economy, as far as Obama is concerned, is that he hasn’t been selling his successful policies aggressively enough.

“We were moving so fast early on that we couldn’t take victory laps. We couldn’t explain everything we were doing. I mean, one day we’re saving the banks; the next day we’re saving the auto industry; the next day we’re trying to see whether we can have some impact on the housing market,” he told the Times’ Andrew Ross Sorkin.

Investors added that Obama didn’t “save” either industry. His only contribution to the GM and Chrysler bankruptcy process was to protect union interests at taxpayer expense. Dodd-Frank killed many, many community banks. The stimulus was an enormous expense and accomplished nothing at all.

At a townhall meeting in London, Obama was asked about what he wanted his  legacy to be after eight years.

There are things I’m proud of. The basic principle that in a country as wealthy as the United States, every person should have access to high-quality health care that they can afford — that’s something I’m proud of, I believe in. (Applause.) Saving the world economy from a Great Depression — that was pretty good. (Laughter and applause.)

Well, laughter indeed, but no applause. In early days, Obama was hailed as a great communicator. He was even awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for merely talking about peace. As Noah Rothman said today at Commentary:

The image of Obama as the left’s Great Communicator was always a fabrication. Given how often Obama himself has admitted his persuasive skills have failed his supporters, you might think this invention of a center-left media would have long ago been buried. Yet, it remains with us even today. Born out of a wish and unresponsive to falsifying evidence, the idea that Obama was somehow a marvelously successful communicator will probably be with us long after the president leaves office.

Mr. Trump’s foreign policy speech was similarly hailed as strong and wide ranging.  A lot of people believe what Mr. Trump said, and they’re wrong.

Mr. Trump: “NAFTA, as an example, has been a total disaster for the United States and has emptied our states — literally emptied our states of our manufacturing and our jobs.  Not true.

The North American Free Trade Agreement went into force January 1, 1994. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these were the numbers at the end of December in 1993:

  • Manufacturing employment: 16.8 million
  • Labor force participation rate: 66.4%
  • Unemployment rate: 6.5%

These were the numbers at the end of December 2000:

  • Manufacturing employment: 17.2 million
  • Labor force participation rate: 67.0%
  • Unemployment rate: 3.9%

After seven years of NAFTA, unemployment was down, more people were in the labor force, and there were more people who were employed in manufacturing. In year 8 China joined the World Trade Organization, and problems came from that. This is when the drop in trade came. China is not a good economic partner, but the Obama administration is negotiating an investment deal with China. Either they should stop or Congress should stop them. In any case, Mr. Trump is plainly mistaken on his major arguments.



The Earth is Greening From CO2, And That’s a Very Good Thing. by The Elephant's Child

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The U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay against the Environmental Protection Agency’s global warming plan in February. But EPA officials are moving right ahead with a central part of the Clean Power Plan (CPP). They’ve devised a song and dance way to get around the order from the court. Court orders don’t have the authority under this administration that they once did.

The EPA submitted a proposal to the White House for green energy subsidies for states that meet the federally mandated carbon dioxide reduction goals early. The Clean Energy Incentive Program would give “credit for power generated by new wind and solar projects in 2020 and 2021” and a “double credit for energy efficiency measures in low-income communities,” according to Politico’s Morning Energy. …

EPA argues it’s doing this for states that want to voluntarily cut emissions — despite this being part of CPP.

“Many states and tribes have indicated that they plan to move forward voluntarily to work to cut carbon pollution from power plants and have asked the agency to continue providing support and developing tools that may support those efforts, including the CEIP,” reads a statement provided to Politico from EPA.

A report says that the Earth is turning greener because of carbon dioxide emissions, but America is not doing its part. Other countries are pumping out more CO2, shutting down wind farms, and the United States has cut its output. In 2000, America pumped out 5,868 million metric tons of CO2, then 6,001 million metric tons in 2007, and the figure fell to 5,406 in 2014. This means an increase in growing season over 25% to 50% of the global vegetated areas, which means more hungry people are fed, and more small children live to grow up.

Theoretically we all learned about photosynthesis in junior high or high school. More CO2 means more plant life. We breathe in the air, use the oxygen, and exhale CO2. If CO2 were poisonous or dangerous we’d all be dead from breathing on each other.

A new study says that if the extra green leaves prompted by rising CO2 levels were laid in a carpet, it would cover twice the continental USA.

Climate skeptics argue the findings show that the extra CO2 is actually benefiting the planet.

The new study is published in the journal Nature Climate Change by a team of 32 authors from 24 institution in eight countries. But the numbers don’t count in science. What counts is what the evidence proves.

Norwegian scientists, according to a 30-year long study, are finding that plants adapt well to differing environmental conditions — in contrast to claims that plants won’t be able to adapt from the climate worriers. “There is a kind of flexibility in the genetic material, …much like a ‘molecular thermostat’ that can shift the growth cycle of the plant” said Carl Gunnar Fossdal of the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research. “This phenomenon has great importance for the discussion around climate change.” The scientists speculate that animals adapt in the same way, suggesting that the evidence linking global warming to extinctions is sparse.

The Climate Change Lobby, like much of the rest of the Left, doesn’t like disagreement, nor studies that contradict their firmly-held truths. They want to shut the contrary voices up. No skeptics allowed. That’s why the word “skeptic” never passes the green lips — it’s always deniers — like holocaust deniers,  you see. They don’t accept mild rebukes, nor proof of error. It’s their way or the highway. They have too much invested in changing the world and ending nasty capitalism.



The Butterfield Fallacy Raises Its Ugly Head in the White House. by The Elephant's Child

When President Obama recorded his Weekly Address for today, Saturday, he took up the matter of criminal justice, and showed clearly that he is a victim of the Butterfield Fallacy—which consists of misidentifying as a paradox that which is a simple cause and effect relationship. When you put more of the people who are committing crimes in prison, the crime rate goes down. It is not a complicated matter of “Oh look, the crime rate has dropped, why do we have so many people in prison?”

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It’s true that more young black men are convicted of crimes and sent to prison. That is because more crimes are committed by young black men. There are more murders in the black community and they are committed by young black men. There are lots of reasons: gangs, fatherless households, young single mothers, peer pressure, unemployment, police backing off because of what has been called “the Ferguson effect” when the police were blamed for young black men killed in self defense by policemen. When policemen are attacked and threatened for trying to maintain order in the community, they are more hesitant to stop people on suspicion, make arrests, or try to prevent trouble. Higher crime rates mean lack of opportunity— the unemployment rate for young blacks is the highest of any category.

Lack of discipline in the schools: when school is orderly and the demand for excellence is high, more learning takes place, more kids are able and encouraged to go to college or to good trade schools.  This is another area where the Left shifts the blame. Schools are harshly criticized for expelling obstreperous kids who disrupt classes, so schools lighten up on the discipline because they are criticized, and the schools become more out of control.

Most of the protests in the universities and in the black communities is due to agitation by #Black Lives Matter, Acorn, Organize for America and other groups trained by community organizers to disrupt and encourage protest. The Left is deeply worried that the black community that turned out so resoundingly to support the first black president will not turn out at the polls in such numbers this time. From what I can see, that’s why there is so much emphasis on race, at a time when, except for agitation and protests, race relations have been so much better.

Locking criminals up does make communities safer. Discipline for badly behaving kids, and expelling those who won’t mind the rules from school makes for more orderly schools. Of course we need more uniformity in sentencing laws. Selling hard drugs is a crime and sellers should be put in prison. Released felons should be helped to reenter society successfully. I hope there is a sincere desire to help, not just an effort to increase racial tension for the sake of the next election.

ADDENDUM: I removed the graphic on gun violence because it is incorrect. Sorry about that!




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