American Elephants

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


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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And a Politically Incorrect Merry Christmas to You by The Elephant's Child

Protesters are marching in Manhattan because they think they want “social justice” rather than real justice.

There is no such thing as “social justice.” We have only one kind of justice — which is embodied in the law. The laws established by the people and their representatives come with no guarantee that they will make people feel good about the outcome. Societies need rules, no law will cover every situation, and often the outcome may seem unfair, or be unfair. The police are there to enforce the law, and keep you safe, not to make you feel good.

The childish inability of the Left and their useful idiots to accept the fallible, imperfect nature of humanity endures. They do not truly recognize that there is evil in the world, and they are not prepared to deal with it. You cannot regulate niceness, kindness or peace. You will be offended if you allow yourself to be. Our constitutional freedom of speech does not guarantee that you will not be offended — it guarantees that you will have to put up with speech you don’t like.

I have never understood why anyone should be protected from being “offended.” Part of life is learning how to cope with being insulted, having your feelings hurt, being treated unfairly, or bullied. You wll probably get fired at some point. Some bosses are tyrants. Life is unfair. Surely your mother told you that. You will have your feelings hurt, and protection doesn’t come from some social-engineering regulation passed by leftist loonies, but from your own internal armor and stoical resignation that recognizes the imperfect humanity of the world.  Not everybody is nice, even nice people are sometimes mean, and there is real evil in the world. Get used to it. You can always try to be nice yourself, that might help.

The United States has recognized that there are many religions in the world, though we remain a Judeo-Christian nation. Our very first settlers were seeking religious freedom to practice their own religion free from the dictates of the state. They were escaping a long, long siege of religious wars. Catholicism, Church of England and Scottish Presbyterianism fought bloody, chopping off heads wars, and Puritans, Pilgrims, Shakers, Mennonites, Quakers, Episcopalians, Jews, Dutch Reformed, German Reformed, Irish Catholic, Scots-Irish Presbyterians, and all sorts of odd sects came to America and some new ones arose here, and for the most part they learned to get along, with a few notable exceptions here and there. Comparatively speaking, we Americans are pretty outstanding in the getting-along department, and in the public bellyaching department as well.

It seems to me that we have become more sensitive to offending by the mention of religion only in the wake of 9/11. We cannot say anything unkind about radical Islam because of the freedom of religion clause, which was written to assure that we never established a state religion. It has been twisted into the idea that religious expression is impolite. So we are left with immigrants from Muslim countries whose goal is to establish a state religion — Islam, and Sharia law.

Europe is dying of political correctness. Because of declining birthrates they do not have enough young people to support an aging population, so they have invited in vast numbers of immigrants, a large percentage of whom are Muslim, who want to come to Europe because their native countries are poverty-ridden dysfunctional tyrannies. The Western societies have no long experience in turning immigrants into Hollanders or French or Swedes. The immigrants remain Moroccans, Egyptians or Somalis living in European countries. This comes just at the time when the continent is embarked on a program of making everybody into ‘Europeans’ with open borders, common currency and common laws in the hope of ending the constant wars that have decimated the continent for centuries.

Michael Walsh wrote recently about far-right populist politician Geert Wilders, who will be tried in the Netherlands for inciting racial hatred. He asked the crowd at a rally after local elections if they wanted ‘fewer or more Moroccans in your city and in the Netherlands?’ The crowd said ‘fewer.’ He responded “we’re going to organize that.” Later, in a TV interview, he referred to ‘Moroccan scum.’ Apparently now, Moroccans are a ‘race.’ You can see that assimilation is not going well.

In Sweden 20% of the once homogenous population are immigrants or the children of immigrants. Sweden attempted to give shelter to the oppressed, but they are not turning them into proud Swedes. Mass immigration has dissolved Sweden’s social cohesion and overburdened the welfare system. The government cannot or will not cope. The people want immigration reduced. There is deep hostility between the aging indigenous population and the very fertile immigrant one. Demographers say that by 2050, Europe will be Muslim. Are we going to follow down that path?

We are deeply conflicted with the problems of political correctness, diversity, inequality, social justice, race, gender, ethnicity and an antagonism towards religion. Are we to follow the failures of the European idea, or continue to assimilate and turn immigrants into proud Americans? The founders, correctly, emphasized equality of opportunity — not equality of outcome. We all have a chance to make of ourselves what we choose. We’ll make mistakes, some will fail, some will make very bad choices. But we are human and striving, and being human is an imperfect business.

The vision of the Left won’t and cannot work. Diversity does not reside in skin color nor  gender, but in what is in our heads. Appreciate the differences and learn from each other. Some of the richest people have the least money. Redistributing income won’t fix anything. Redistribute excellent teachers instead. Get the kids to the library where they can encounter a world of opportunity.

And this Christmas go out and offend — wish everyone a Merry Christmas. Sing a carol or two. Redistribute some extra cash into the Salvation Army’s red buckets. Appreciate the natural diversity of the mass of humanity of this world. You cannot fix them. It’s hard enough getting along with your own relatives.

A College President Had to Apologize for Saying “All Lives Matter” by The Elephant's Child


Smith College President Kathleen McCartney believed she was showing solidarity with students, protesting racism and police brutality when she sent out an email to the entire campus with the subject line: “All Lives Matter.”

The slogan preferred by Smith College students was the more exclusionary “Black Lives Matter.” Have to show our solidarity with the protesters half a continent away who are burning up the town of Ferguson, Missouri because of a tragic incident that had nothing whatsoever to do with race.

Students were not only furious, but offended, according to Fox News.

mccartneysmithPresident McCartney apologized profusely in a second email, saying she had made a mistake “despite my best intentions. I regret that I was unaware the phrase/hashtag “all lives matter” has been used by some to draw attention away from the focus on institutional violence against Black people,”

Well, Ms McCarthy was right in the first place. Our college campuses are well-known as centers of political correctness. Students are there to study because they are young and short on knowledge and experience. The evidence shows that Michael Brown’s killing was not a racial event, nor was the death of Eric Garner. Tragic indeed, but not about race.

Black communities are inclined to have a higher incidence of crime, and the police trying to protect the community are at much higher risk. Crime is decreasing. Most young black men who are killed are killed by other young black men − not by police. Sure there are some bad apples in the nation’s police forces, but for the most part their training emphasizes ways to avoid harm and any excessive use of force. It’s a tough job.

Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) says the silencing of McCartney is just one more example of the grip of political correctness on college campuses. Increasing numbers of teenagers are learning the wrong lessons about speech. They believe they have a right not to encounter ideas that might conflict with their feelings. They need to learn that not every hashtag that comes over the internet is a valid battlecry, and the difference between propaganda and reality.

Is The Agony of Ferguson Over? by The Elephant's Child


Are the Ferguson riots over, and the copycat riots across the country? Will rioters break for Thanksgiving? Its a sad story of the media behaving badly, writing their stories before the evidence was in — riots get lots of TV ratings.


ABC news’ mantra was about Ferguson where “a white policeman shot an unarmed black teenager.”Media people tell themselves that they are just reporting the facts, but it is not a story until there are facts, and claims are not facts. Robert Tracinsky set out some rules for the media for the next Ferguson.

The New York Times published the address of Police Officer Wilson’s home and the name of his wife. That is unforgivable, in an inflamed situation where mobs are crying for his death.

President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder could have quelled the latest rioting in Ferguson. Instead they invited violence. Obama called anger   “an understandable reaction” and warned police not to work “against the community.” He added “A deep distrust exists between law enforcement and communities of color. Some of this is the result of racial discrimination in this country.”

For the U.S. Attorney General to announce, essentially, that the decision of the very thorough grand jury investigation that declined to indict Police Officer Darren Wilson isn’t good enough, and his department will be pursuing a further investigation, is not helpful, but then he is still investigating the Zimmerman case in search of “justice” for Treyvon Martin. That is not justice, but something else.

David Harsanyi’s piece at the Federalist seemed to me balanced, fair and straightforward. “Feelings aren’t facts. And “justice” doesn’t exist to mollify your anger.” The grand jury has put all the evidence online for your convenience and enlightenment.

More than anything this case highlights the extent to which Democrats depend on keeping their black base convinced that there is no justice in America for them because of racial prejudice.

Some have said that most of the rioters are not Ferguson residents, but outsiders. They’re all just so upset and angry that they have to break into stores to get some big screen TVs, and burn down a lot of buildings. But then there have been riots in many cities across the country. Time for everyone to go on home.

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