American Elephants


Who Is Donald Trump? The Billionaire New York Businessman? by The Elephant's Child

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John O’Sullivan is a prominent British conservative political journalist who was once speechwriter for Margaret Thatcher, and is an editor for National Review. Can’t vote here, not a citizen, but a visitor. He remarked “But it’s obvious that this election cycle is about Trump rather than about the other candidates. He has come from nowhere and surged ahead of the pack. My suspicion is that he didn’t originally expect to be a contender for long and was surprised when he established a strong lead. But he overcame his surprise and began to do things candidates do – put out position papers, etc. – while sticking to his unique style of campaigning, namely riffing entertainingly on the day’s news, jabbing opponents with sharp verbal sticks, and treating his audiences like neighborhood friends.” I thought that a particularly sharp observation.

Holman Jenkins said “They say they like Mr. Trump because he tells it like it is, except he doesn’t. They say he is politically incorrect, but he is factually incorrect.”
“The Donald may be as surprised as anybody by the way his campaign has taken fire — his utterances certainly suggest so.”

He likes riding the wave and may be unable or unwilling to get off. He launched this adventure purely to accrue value in his lifelong personal brand-building pursuit.

That doesn’t mean he ever seriously thought about being president, having to do the job. And one way that might become apparent is when, after winning the nomination and celebrating his personal triumph, he turns to the GOP and its donor armies to see what they are willing to do to win him the presidency. If it’s not as much as he would like—if he would actually have to fulfill his promise to finance his own honest-to-goodness presidential campaign, which could cost $1 billion—that’s when things get hinky.

That’s a second observation that Trump was just fooling around with a campaign, and then people took him seriously, so he’s going to see how far it can go.

Have you ever known a real con-man? I have. He was, for a time a new manager in the department where I worked. Everybody liked him because he was so personable. They thought he was great, but one day one of his stories touched on something I actually knew about. It was a complete and deliberate lie, for no reason at all.  It wasn’t much longer before he departed, fired for some irregular problems with his expense accounts. That was my first hustler. It’s not comfortable to have been taken for a fool, even though I wasn’t alone.

From Bloomberg Business: 2/26/2016

Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc., the casino operator founded by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, emerged from bankruptcy court protection on Friday and is now a subsidiary of billionaire Carl Icahn’s Icahn Enterprises LP.
Trump opened the Taj Mahal in 1990. The parent company continually struggled with debt, and Trump Entertainment filed for bankruptcy court protection in September 2014. The filing coincided with a protracted downturn in betting in Atlantic City that led four of the city’s 12 casinos to close. It was the Trump casino businesses’ fourth time in bankruptcy.

From Jim Geraghty at National Review: “What if Trump Doesn’t Have Billions?” “There’s a good chance we’ll never see his tax returns.

Trump told Hugh Hewitt on his radio show a year ago that he would release his tax return shortly, as soon as they were completed. A few years ago he refused to release “un-redacted tax returns, even when it could help him win a $5 billion libel lawsuit against a New York Times reporter. Forbes magazine estimated his net worth after 80 interviews and many resources as less than half of what he claimed last year. Others with direct knowledge of his finances think his net worth is closer to $150 -$250 million. Still comfortably wealthy but not a billionaire.

Trump said that was a lie and sued, lost in court, appealed, and lost again. The case dragged on because he would not turn over the tax returns. So the likelihood that they will be released to the public is slim.

Bloomberg Politics, February 24, 2016 “A Look Inside Trump’s Global Deals Exposes Trouble in Many Spots” In Panama, condominium owners are trying to fire him.  In Canada and Turkey, his business partners want to cut him loose. In Scotland and Ireland, he claims to be making millions on his golf courses, but so far is losing money. In Toronto the Toronto Tower Owners want Trump out.

“Donald Trump says his organization is in talks on more than 100 deals, 85 percent of them outside the U.S., and that if elected president he will bring to international relations the savvy he has demonstrated as a global deal maker.”

The article suggests that an examination of his operations shows that while he has made millions selling his name, he has chosen inexperienced or questionable partners, and there are legal conflicts amid claims of broken promises and empty apartments. Trump disputes the claims.

Yahoo Finance 10/19/2014 “12 Donald Trump businesses that no longer exist:” Also see “Donald Trump’s Record of Business Failures and Bluster” 2/16/2016, PJ Media.

  1. Trump Mortgage (announced 2006, closed 2007)
  2. Trump Steaks (2007-?)
  3. Trump Vodka (2006-2011)
  4. Trump: The Game (1989-1990, 2005)
  5. Trump Ice (Shut down 2010)
  6. Go Trump.com (2006-2007)
  7. Trump Magazine
  8. The New Jersey Generals (1983-1985)
  9. Trump Airlines (1989-1992)
  10. Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc. 4 bankruptcies (1991, 2004, 2009, 2014)
  11. Trump Tower Tampa (2006-2007)
  12. Trump University (2005 -2011) Current lawsuit for fraud

“Trump and the Rise of the Unprotected” by Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal, 2/25/2016

I don’t know. Donald Trump seems to me to be a hustler. Too many lies, too much Big talk. Everything is going to be Great!, Beautiful! He knows how to do that. He knows how to fix that. But he never tells us how, or who is going to pay for it and how. There are some really big problems in the world and we have no hint about how Trump might address them.



Sympathy, Compassion, Empathy, Toleration, Confusion and Civilization.. by The Elephant's Child

September_17_2001Murder is not a mystery. Its harbinger is the police car, the plane flying low, the smiling man who opens his coat. Evil is not a mystery either. It is moral courage tuned to the destruction of civilization. The murderer can be courageous, but not creative. The ends of evil are power and ruination.

Liberalism is all too often the cult of the poor murderer. The thug who kills over inequality. The terrorist who bombs over bigotry. And it is outrage at the victims of its own Utopian crimes.

Utopia is another name for power. It is an absolute good that negates the humanity of every person on earth. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the Islamic Caliphate of ISIS or the Socialist gulag. The destruction of the individual is not only necessary, but celebrated as evidence of the triumph of the ideology. Destroying people shows the absolute power and total importance of the creed.

That is the force that destroys civilizations. It’s a moral force, but it’s the moral force of evil.

Civilization is the moral force that resists destruction. It is the speech that dares to name murderers, murderers. As civilization dwindles, streets darken and savages and their lawyers hunt the night. Murderers become victims, destroyers become the future and good is invoked in the name of evil.

Sometimes upholding civilization is a difficult thing. It can mean being a soldier on the front lines or a police officer sitting in a car waiting for a terrorist to strike.

Or sometimes it can simply mean speaking the truth. And that is something that any of us can do.

Even at the best of times, civilization is a fragile thing. At the worst of times, it can be held up with a few words, with a few people reminding each other that truth is worth fighting for.

From Sultan Knish (Daniel Greenfield) Sunday November 22, 2915



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.




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