American Elephants


Do You Save Quotations? Here’s a Good One! by The Elephant's Child

From Steven Hayward

Liberalism’s irrepressible drive for an ever larger welfare state without limit arises from at least two premises upon which the left no longer reflects: the elevation of compassion to a political principle (albeit with other people’s money) and the erosion of meaningful constitutional limits on government on account of the idea of progress.



Obama Is Creating A Massive Database of Personal Information for the Purpose of Racial and Economic Justice by The Elephant's Child

A key part of President Obama’s legacy will, according to the New York Post, be the unprecedented massive collection by the federal government of sensitive data on the American people by race. It’s personal information at the most local levels, all for the purpose of “racial and economic justice.”

Unbeknown to most Americans, Obama’s racial bean counters are furiously mining data on their health, home loans, credit cards, places of work, neighborhoods, even how their kids are disciplined in school — all to document “inequalities” between minorities and whites.

This Orwellian-style stockpile of statistics includes a vast and permanent network of discrimination databases, which Obama already is using to make “disparate impact” cases against: banks that don’t make enough prime loans to minorities; schools that suspend too many blacks; cities that don’t offer enough Section 8 and other low-income housing for minorities; and employers who turn down African-Americans for jobs due to criminal backgrounds.

The Housing Database

Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) will attempt to racially balance the nation, ZIP code by ZIP code, and will include distance to supermarkets, good schools, public transportation, parks. HUD’s maps will be used to select affordable-housing sites. Civil rights groups will have access to the agency’s sophisticated mapping software and will participate in city plans to re-engineer neighborhoods under new “community outreach requirements.”

The Mortgage Database

The FHA will build a database for racially balancing home loans, including 16 years of lending data by race, all credit lines, credit cards, student loans, car loans, anything reported to credit bureaus. Personal assets, debts, any bankruptcy. Square footage and lot size of your home as well as your interest rates. This will all be shared with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for “research” and “policy-making”. CFPB Director Richard Cordray said “We will be better able to identify possible discriminatory lending patterns.

The Credit Database

CFPB will monitor all citizens credit-card transactions — some 900 million of them — looking for “disparities” in interest rates, collections.

The Employment Database

CFPB rule requires all regulated banks to report on minority hiring to an office of Minority and Women inclusion. Policing diversity on Wall Street will be another fishing expedition.

The School Database

The Education Dept is gathering information on student suspensions and expulsions by race from every public school district in the country. Districts that show disparities will be targeted for reform. See how silly this gets? There are no badly behaved kids, it is only about race. They also want to know how many blacks are enrolled in gifted-and-talented and advanced placement classes.

There need be no claims of discrimination, it’s all based on the numbers which will prove “disparity.”

Sound a little more like North Korea than America? Well, yes it does.

Based on the theory that it is self-evident that high black incarceration rates result from discrimination, President Obama has commuted the sentences of 46 “non-violent drug offenders.” Obama is doing his bit to lead and otherwise contribute to the race-based assault on law enforcement, which seems to be based on the idea that less law enforcement will somehow improve lives in the inner city. But then the assumption is that if troublemakers cannot be expelled, then school outcomes for all will improve.

See Heather MacDonald: “Is the Criminal-Justice System Racist?



Liberal Delusions and Other Odd Phenomenons by The Elephant's Child

John Hinderaker remarked the other day that a common Liberal delusion was “a child-like faith in paper.” That stuck in my mind when we had the announcement of the dreadful shooting in Chattanooga, and the revelation that Marine recruiting offices were “Gun-Free Zones,” and I realized that was another liberal delusion. They are deathly afraid of guns, the physical objects, but do not focus particularly on the shooter, at least until we learn his personal story (‘a nice American boy’).

Slightly more attuned to this sort of thing, I’m reading Bret Stephens’ new book (excellent) America In RetreatHe was in Northern Pakistan in 2005, with a U.S Army MASH unit responding to a terrible earthquake, on a mission of mercy that saved thousands of Pakistani lives. It turned out to be a $200 million humanitarian operation. Stephens said it seemed to him at the time — a textbook example of how the combination of American power and American goodness could  yield tangible results when it came to Muslim hearts and minds. He came to realize it was a naive assumption.

In 2006 the Pew Global Attitudes Survey found that 27 percent of Pakistanis had a positive view of the United States, a post 9-11 high. The figure has dropped every year since to 11 percent in 2013. Just 8 percent of Pakistanis see the United States as a partner, against 64 percent of Pakistanis who see the United States as their enemy. And only 8 percent of Pakistanis think the impact of U.S. economic aid is “mostly positive.” When Pakistan was struck by another humanitarian disaster in 2010 — this time in the form of floods — a conspiracy theory that made the rounds in the  Pakistani media held that it was the doing of a weather-controlling device based in Alaska.

Stephens went on to quote Aristotle in the Nicomachean Ethics: “Benefactors seem to love their beneficiaries more than the beneficiaries love those who have benefitted from them. As this seems unreasonable, it should be investigated.”

This phenomenon is thoroughly investigated by William Voegeli whose The Pity Party is a “mean-spirited diatribe” against the Liberals’ celebration of themselves as the party of ‘Compassion.’

Sanctuary Cities would seem to fall into the same category, a sop to Liberals’ view of themselves as benefactors full of compassion in complete denial of reality. But I’m sure you can add to the list.

Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), during a report on the debate over sanctuary cities after the murder of Kate Steinle, said “Every time a little thing like this happens, they use the most extreme example to say it must be eliminated.”

ADDENDUM: How could I forget to mention “Climate”, and “endangered species,” and, of course, “clean power.” The Left charges straight ahead with no regard for facts, science, or obvious proof. Obama is still going to save us from rising seas, in spite of the facts that the rise is calculated in millimeters, solar factories go bankrupt, other countries are getting rid of their windmills and solar farms, and expert wildlife zoologists specializing in Arctic animals assure us that the polar bears have been just fine for a hundred thousand years and the walrus do haulouts all the time.



Unearned Moral Superiority: Liberals , Progressives and Collectivists Are Not Good People. They Fight Dirty. by The Elephant's Child

This is a post saved from 2013. Bill Whittle addresses the Western Conservative Summit in Colorado, with some instructions on how to deal with progressives. A lesson in which we all need a refresher.



Today’s $68 Billion Train to Nowhere to Be Finished in 80 Years? Splendid Idea. by The Elephant's Child

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On Monday, Governor Jerry Brown, Democrat, took an oath of government frugality in his fourth inaugural address. The next day he led the groundbreaking ceremony for  California’s $68 billion bullet train in Fresno.

Seven years ago, in 2008, voters approved $9 billion in state bonds to build a 500-mile train connecting San Francisco and Anaheim (current estimates suggest more than $100 billion). The feds have donated a mere $3.3 billion, which by law must be spent by October 2017. California’s high-speed rail authority can’t access the bond proceeds until it gets the right of way from the state courts, which are presiding over numerous legal challenges that may not be settled for several years.

The  authority has so far obtained less than a fifth of the parcels needed to complete the first 29-mile stretch in the Central Valley.

This does not matter to Mr. Brown and the rail authority who are frantically trying to burn through the federal funds to meet the White House’s spending deadline. The LA Times says that  “over the next 1,000 days, the state will have to  spend $3 to $4 million every single day to accomplish their goal.”

Bullet train supporters believe that state judges will be reluctant to block access to bond funds once construction starts. The more schools,  homes and businesses torn down, the better. The goal is to make the bullet train an accomplished fact, in order to convince the judiciary that it is. California’s record of starting and then abandoning freeways, and infrastructure projects meant the Legislature added provisions to ensure the train did not become a “stranded investment.”

Planners picked the flattest, straightest and most desolate stretch for the first segment. It gets more complicated crossing the 7,680′ high Tehachapi range, and tearing up densely populated areas in the Bay Area and Los Angeles Basin.

I have over 40 articles about California High-Speed Rail Authority. They uniformly think it’s nuts. Some estimates are 80 years till completion. Thinking back 80 years, to the changes in technology, population, culture, one must conclude that today’s plans are unlikely to fit 2094 transportation needs at all. And the federal $3.3 billion is all they have to work with at present since a state judge last year barred it from tapping the voter-approved $9 billion in bonds until it satisfies a quantity of requirements in the ballot initiative.

The Governor said that those who don’t support the bullet train are pusillanimous — “lacking in spirit” he said, but the actual definition is not so bland.



Drumming Up Grievance About Income Inequality is a Political Racket! by The Elephant's Child

You surely understand by now that the Left has only your own best interests in mind. You can tell that to be the case because they are so valiantly trying to make everybody equal.  No one should be better off than you are, and if you just turn things over to them, they’ll make everything fair. The goal is equality.

That is not true. The goal is to make you concerned about income inequality. Economic disparities and gaps are automatically treated as inequities, and you are supposed to be resentful. If you are resentful enough, you will elect Democrats to fix the inequities that are so troublesome, and make things “fair.” Tom Sowell:

If one racial or ethnic group has a lower income than another, that is automatically called “discrimination” by many people in politics, the media and academia. It doesn’t matter how much evidence there is that some groups work harder in school, perform better and spend more postgraduate years studying to acquire valuable skills in medicine, science or engineering.

If the economic end results are unequal, that is treated as a grievance against those with better outcomes, and a sign of an “unfair” society.

The rhetoric of clever people often confuses the undeniable fact that life is unfair with the claim that a given institution or society is unfair.

Children born into families that raise them with love and with care to see that they acquire knowledge, values and discipline that will make them valuable members of society have far more chances of economic and other success in adulthood than children raised in families that lack these qualities.

When your mother told you that “Life is not fair,” she knew what she was talking about. People in their prime earning  years make more than those who are just starting out. People who work harder and acquire important skills earn more than those who don’t work hard and don’t study. Beautiful people get ahead on their beauty. Is it fair when someone else is prettier than you are?

A little known regulation in the Dodd-Frank Bill to be finalized later this year forces companies to disclose how many times more their Chief Executive Officers earn compared to rank and file employees.

This provision is backed by labor unions like the AFL-CIO, which aims to “shame companies into lowering CEO pay. The ” pay ratio disclosure rule” originally found in section 953(b) of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform of 2010, requires all publicly traded companies to disclose the ratio of the CEO’s salary compared to the median salary of all employees at the company in the company’s annual report. The aim of the requirement is clearly meant to arouse envy and demands for “fairness.”

A Chief Executive’s pay package is determined by the Board of Directors of a corporation subject to approval by the shareholders. And is not really the government’s business. Good CEOs can be invaluable to business, and those who can make significant difference for their company deserve good remuneration. The Leftists who increasingly inhabit the faculty lounges have long been deeply envious of CEO pay. In the firm belief (they have PhDs) that they are smarter than any businessman, they find this deeply unfair.

I have never understood the envy. I have always known people personally who are much poorer and less fortunate and people who are somewhere up in the One percent, as did both my parents. My life is mine to develop. What can I accomplish with my own skill and determination? Some thing won’t work out, some will be disasters and some will work very well indeed. As Frank Sinatra used to sing —”I did it my way.”

Other than that, you can get a good agent and/or a good lawyer. That seems to work for sports stars and movie stars.



Obama: Black America is “Better Off Now Than When I Came Into Office” by The Elephant's Child

How about government racketeering? The 2010 Dodd-Frank Act created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Act specifically prohibited the agency from regulating auto dealers which the agency desperately wants to do because — racism. So the agency has gone after the wholesale finance  providers instead. These bulk lenders quote dealers an interest rate that dealers, “mark up” within fixed parameters when negotiating with car buyers.

The CFPB does not allege real bias against anyone, it alleges “disparate impact.” But the government doesn’t know the race or gender of car buyers. Dealers are forbidden to collect this information. Instead the CFPB relies on the “Bayesian Improved Surname Geocoding method” to classify individuals by ethnicity based on their last name, census tract and zip code. The CFPB admits that the method overstates  the African-Americans in the group by 20%. A private study suggests it’s more like 40%. But when pursuing racism to allege, the CFPB will leave no possibility unincluded.

The Bayesian method doesn’t identify skill in bargaining any more than it accurately identifies race and gender, but they charge ahead relentlessly. Many white males got less advantageous terms than the white-male average, unless they were mistakenly identified as Black, Hispanic and/or Female. This is a disgrace.

At his year-end press conference, President Obama was asked about the state of black America at the end of 2014. (emphasis added)

Like the rest of America, black America in the aggregate is better off now than it was when I came into office. The jobs that have been created, the people who’ve gotten health insurance, the housing equity that’s been recovered, the 401 pensions that have been recovered: a lot of those folks are African-Americans. They’re better off than they were.

The gap between income and wealth of white and black America persists, and we’ve got more work to do on that front.

I’ve been consistent in saying that, you know, this is a legacy of a troubled racial past, Jim Crow and slavery. That’s not an excuse for black folks, and I think the overall majority of good black people understand it’s not an excuse.

Growing numbers of black Americans aren’t so sure. Unemployment remains high. Ferguson, and Staten Island, empowered by agitators from international A.N.S.W.E.R., Al Sharpton, Eric Holder and the President himself put on a spectacle of riots completely unrelated to the facts in either case.

Well, Obama will fix that. He has signed an executive order creating the “Task Force on 21st Century Policing” as “part of the administration’s efforts to strengthen community policing and strengthen trust among law enforcement officers and the communities they serve.” The list of appointees for the Task Force is not encouraging, nor is the deliberate misunderstanding of facts of the riots and their cause.

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