American Elephants


Just an Ordinary Wednesday, Like All Wednesdays by The Elephant's Child

Wednesday, an ordinary middle of the week day. Not Spring yet, though there are a few lonely daffodils peeking out here and there. A terrorist attack in London at the Houses of Parliament, Three killed, many injured, terrorist killed. ISIS celebrates. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Nunes reports that Trumps’ personal communications may have been collected by intelligence agencies, details widely disseminated. Hackers claim to have breached 300 million APPLE accounts, Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan warned the European Union that if the diplomatic spat continues, Europeans won’t be able to walk their own streets safely anywhere in the world. The Turks threaten to send 15,000 migrants a month to Europe. Other than some horrendous rapes of underage children, it was just an ordinary almost Spring Wednesday. Sheesch!



The Best and Worst States for Business, and What They Have in Common by The Elephant's Child

The newly-created McGee Report from Fayetteville State University is an annual report on the Best and Worst States for Business. “The fifty states are ranked based on the extent to which they facilitate business creation and expansion. This study incorporated the data collected from five other studies, which included the examination of hundreds of variables. Utah was found to be the most business friendly state; California was least business friendly. States that voted Republican in the 2016 presidential election tended to be more business friendly than states that voted Democratic.” Social justice at work.

Reading the comments is almost as much fun as the list. The commenters seem to be mostly Californian. In San Francisco, you can rent a bunk bed, sharing a room with several others for $1,200 a month. The place packs in 25 people and rent runs from $1,250 to $1,900.

Three Democrat representatives have introduced a bill that would punish any contractors who dare to work on the border wall by withdrawing any investments in their companies by state-controlled pension funds.

California’s boondoggle bullet train was initially budgeted at $32 billion and the price tag is now up to $68 billion (which the taxpayers are on the hook for), and the initial stretch of track, the easiest to build part of the entire 700 mile route is now $10 billion, and not a single mile has been laid. Just seven years behind schedule. The governor is begging for help, but the Trump Department of  Transportation has  put the brakes on. Jerry Brown’s California suffers the nation’s highest housing prices, largest percentage of people in or near poverty of any state and an exodus of middle-income, middle-aged people. Job growth is increasingly concentrated in low-wage sectors.

The state is the front line for Sanctuary Cities, is zealously fighting natural climate change, their schools are lousy, and they are the worst state in the country for their business climate. Good on social justice though.

Do take a look at the charts. Besides the McGee rankings, it includes the ranking from Forbes, Tax Foundation, Institute for Legal Reform and the Cato Institute. If you scroll down through the comments you will come to one gentleman who did read the whole thing, including how the rankings were calculated — who actually lives in California, and wishes he didn’t. I’ve lived in both the Bay Area and in Southern California, and couldn’t wait to leave.



The Federal Government Is Not Your Friend, And They Have Interests of Their Own by The Elephant's Child

Most Americans believe that the federal government does a poor job and wastes most of the taxpayers’ hard earned money. Waste, fraud and abuse are rampant. We hear stories of employees spending their days watching porn. Agencies spend millions on beautifying their offices, and rush to spend every last cent of their budget so they can pretend they need more for the next year. There are some things that can only be done by a federal government, but most things are far better done by the private sector.

There are specific reasons why this is so. For a business to exist, it must turn a profit. If there is no reward for operating a business, it will cease to exist. Businesses do not operate to provide jobs or to do good works. They operate to make a profit. It is astonishing how many people do not understand this. Competition forces business to be efficient, to offer good products that people want, to deliver on time, make products that last, or offer services that do what they are supposed to do. Leftists are always sure that competition is bad, and what is needed are lots of rules and regulations, which only serve to make a mess of the situation.

Government regulators seldom have a good understanding of how a business works, and the regulations they devise do more harm than good. For example: Regulators, concerned about fat people, decide that all restaurants must display the caloric content of all the ingredients in their food. For pizza places the number of ingredients is enormous, the signage, often on a large lighted panel over the counter doesn’t have much room, customers are aware that some pizzas are high calorie and fattening. They don’t care—they want pizza. The cost to restaurants with low profit margins is enormous in changing all their signage. The result of the regulation is unmeasurable, and probably didn’t change anyone’s dinner preferences.

The free market does an excellent job in controlling business, without interference from bureaucratic busybodies. Very few members of Congress have much experience in running a business, and few of Washington bureaucrats do either. The marketplace offers all sorts of information and lessons, often information that you cannot obtain elsewhere. Incentives matter. The incentives that drive government workers and their managers are not the same as those faced by the businesses to be regulated, and are often counter to the public interest in any case.

Here’s an excellent article that surveys the government bureaucracy and how we should or should not respond. And a valuable lesson in why government does such a poor job of the tasks that are assigned to them. It’s a guide worth keeping with lots of resources. But then you don’t know until the government gets you on their “to do” list just what you’re in for, and where to go for help.



How Intelligence Works by The Elephant's Child

Herbert E. Meyer served during the Reagan Administration as Special Assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence and Vice Chairman of the CIA’s National Intelligence Council. He is a recipient of the U.S .National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal, the author of several books, including Real-World Intelligence and Hard Thinking, and many of his speeches are available on YouTube.

In the most recent copy of Imprimus, an excerpt from a recent speech on Intelligence is fascinating. “How Intelligence Works (When It Does)

Just utter the word “intelligence” and most people conjure up images of spies, secret satellites peering down on foreign cities and terrorist camps, and rooms full of young technocrats reading private emails and listening to private conversations. These images are accurate, but they reflect the tools and techniques of our intelligence service, rather than its purpose.

To understand its purpose, think of a jumbo jet flying at night through turbulent skies—thunder clouds, lightning, other airplanes streaking in all directions and at all altitudes. To navigate through this, the pilot and his crew rely on their radar—the instrument that paints a picture of their environment, enabling them to see what’s going on around them and what lies ahead so they can chart a safe course. Radar doesn’t tell the captain and his crew what to do, but it gives them the accurate information they’ll need to make good decisions.

Our intelligence service is our nation’s radar. Its purpose is to provide the president and his national security team with an accurate picture of what’s going on in the world and what’s likely to happen in the days, months, and years ahead. The assumption is that if the president and his team have this information, they can chart a safe course for our country. And if they can see the distant future soon enough and clearly enough—and if they don’t like what they see—they can take steps to change the future before it happens.

Good intelligence is a combination, he says, of information and insight. Information is the raw material, while insight is the finished product.The key to producing good intelligence lies in getting this combination of information and insight right. …You start with a thesis—in other words you decide what you want to know, then you send your collectors out to get it. The key is asking the right question.

In the period from the end of World War II until 1981, every president’s objective had been not to lose the Cold War. If things were no worse when a president left office than when he took office—he’d done a good job. President Reagan, instead, wanted to win the Cold War. He had switched from Defense to Offense. His Director of Central Intelligence asked the CIA’s Soviet Division  two questions. Where is the Soviet Union weak? and Where is it most vulnerable? The answer he received was: We don’t know. No one’s ever asked this before.

You can read the rest of this most interesting post at the link above.

Imprimus is a brief publication from Hillsdale College delivered to your email once a month. You can subscribe, it’s free. They also offer a number of free courses you can take. Hillsdale receives no federal money, remains stubbornly independent and teaches subjects like the Constitution and American History, things like that. No safe spaces, no riots. Excellent professors. Real education.



Overturning a Regulation Here and a Regulation There and Eventually You Are Free Again by The Elephant's Child

Within just 24 hours, the Senate successfully overturned two sets of regulations finalized by the Department of Education in the final weeks of the Obama administration. As the Daily Signal reported:

Using the oversight authority granted to it by the Congressional Review Act, the Senate passed resolutions of disapproval for accountability regulations under the Every Student Succeeds Act and regulations for teacher preparation programs. These resolutions now proceed to President Donald Trump.

The use of the Congressional Review Act to roll back these regulations provides immediate relief for states and schools. It also prevents the Department of Education from promulgating substantially similar regulations in the future without congressional approval.

Senator Ben Sasse (R-Neb) rose to speak about the regulations, and said he had prepared some major thoughts, but put them aside because it all boiled down to two simple facts:

1.Government bureaucrats are not qualified to make highly specific decisions for remote programs.

2. The federal government lacks the constitutional authority to interfere in local decision-making about education.

He also pointed out that the regulations directed at local decision-making  devised by the Obama administration amounted to 635 pages of densely worded directives. 635 pages! Federal micromanagement at its best.

That’s the essence of the Left’s drive for control. They are quite sure that they are considerably smarter than those rubes out there, and must control their every effort at individual freedom.

Striking down regulations one by one is a long and troublesome process. Thank your representatives when they succeed. The Left’s desire for control is, in the end, no match for the American people’s demand for freedom.



It Is Surpassingly Important that Lefties Feel Good About Themselves! by The Elephant's Child

Popular “virtue-signalling” sign. Completely irrational.

A new report from the Ohio Jobs and Justice Political Action Committee says that sanctuary cities are growing and 36 new locales have been added to the list of nearly 500 sanctuary cities. The group has been tracking sanctuary cities for over 10 years. This doesn’t seem  to be anything  that appears on a ballot, but rather the machinations of city councils—what they  are now calling “virtue-signalling” — or “see what a good person I am.”

What I don’t get is why anyone would assume that being a “Sanctuary City” in direct defiance of federal laws is a good thing, nor why protecting illegal aliens is to be considered admirable.  We have immigration laws. If you want to come to the United States to visit, to work, or to live and/or become a citizen, there are rules to protect both the immigrant and the American people.

Sanctuary Cities announce that because they want to be perceived as good people, they want to ignore the rules and regulations and let those who refuse to follow the law be protected from arrest or detention, no matter what they have done or plan to do. Is that stating it baldly enough? Why would you want to protect people, who have already demonstrated that they have no respect for the law— instead of your own citizens?

The Left likes to play with words, in this case attempting to confuse people’s perception of the difference between an illegal alien, an immigrant, a refugee, an H1B worker, and someone here on a visitor’s visa who has illegally overstayed. 

The same thing is being played out in President Trump’s Executive Order halting immigration from 7 countries selected by the Obama administration for 90 days until vetting procedures can be developed to cope with the absence of official sources in those countries to identify the would-be immigrants. This is not a ban on Muslim immigrants—there are far more Muslims in other countries who are not being banned at all.

These are countries where ISIS and alQaeda are prominent and who have announced that they are sending their fighters into our country to kill Americans. Seventy-two terrorists from these countries have been convicted in our courts.

More than 1800 refugees from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen have been resettled in this country in the period since a federal court judge  suspended key parts of an executive order dated Jan. 27 from these 7 nations. Unvetted. But they are refugeeeees! Maybe, maybe not. We can help far more actual refugees if we help them in areas near to their homes simply because it costs a lot more to resettle them here. As usual, what is most important to members of the Left is “a matter of their very flattering vision of themselves as people trying to save the planet, rescue the exploited and create social justice” for all.

President Trump has rewritten his Executive Order, which was due to take effect but a Hawaii judge has issued the same sort of illegal halt that a Seattle District judge issued earlier. In this case it is really astonishing. The Hawaii District Judge said that he didn’t need to read the order, but that because Trump had spoken unfavorably about Muslims during the campaign, clearly he had animus against Muslims. He also included the objections of a local Muslim of Egyptian descent  who felt that he was discriminated against in spite of the fact that there was nothing in the Order that affected him in any way. Whew! The Constitution is absolutely clear that the President of the United States can exclude anyone he wants to from entering the United States. The Hawaii ruling will go to the Ninth Circuit which gets overruled constantly because they are so far left.

This is once again the Left, who are furious that Donald Trump won the election, furious that they have been decimated at every level of government, and so devoid of a “bench” that they are reduced to touting Chelsea Clinton, Al Franken and Senator Cherokee Cheekbones as potential candidates.

Democrats know they are in trouble, and have declared total war, and to heck with the Constitution. They are trying to use refugees and illegals to change the demographics of voting districts in a way more friendly to the Left. Obama and former Attorney General Eric Holder plan to file lawsuits across the country in districts where lines have been redrawn, or ‘gerrymandered’ by Republicans, to find cause to flip them in a way more favorable to Democrats.

The idea that you can simply reject the results of an election because you don’t like the winning candidate is completely antithetical to American Law and American tradition. It is not a small matter, and should be taken seriously as an attack on the nation by those who do not care about American Law and American tradition.



Desperate Democrats Search Fruitlessly for a Real Issue by The Elephant's Child

It’s the Border Wall. That will fix those Despicable Republicans! Senate Democratic leaders say there’s no plan for construction or getting Mexico to pay for it. Showdown! Shutdown! The Senate Democratic leadership team wrote a letter:

We believe it would be inappropriate to insist on the inclusion of such funding in a must-pass appropriations bill that is needed for the Republican majority in control of the Congress to avert a government shutdown so early in President Trump’s Administration.
Contractors all over the country are putting in bids to build the wall, and it seems that the wall will pay for itself. Illegal immigrants pose costs on the country. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NAS) has estimated that one illegal immigrant costs state and local governments approximately $75,000 in a lifetime, taking into account taxes paid and the cost of providing benefits such as education and health care. President Trump’s border wall needs only to stop about 10 percent of illegal crossings in order to pay for itself. The wall is estimated to cost around $12 to $15 billion and would soon be offset by the savings to government if fewer illegal immigrants arrive over the next decade.
President Trump is able to begin immediate construction and opening bids for contracts because of a 2006 measure signed by President George W. Bush and supported by 64 Democrats. Two-thirds of the Republican-led House approved the bill including 64 Democrats, and 80 of 100 senators approved the bill in the Senate, including Senator Charles Schumer. The bill authorized DHS to construct about 700 miles of fencing or wall along the southern border, and authorized the addition of sensors, lights and cameras to enhance security.

It was to be modeled on the success of the border barriers in the San Diego sector of the U.S. border. The operative word was “secure.” Instead of this two-layer secure fence what has been built consists of flimsy pedestrian fencing or vehicle fencing consisting of posts people can slither through.

The two-tier fence in San Diego runs 14 miles along the border with Tijuana, Mexico. The first layer is a high steel fence, with an inner high anti-climb fence with a no-man’s land in between. It has been amazingly effective. According to a 2005 report by the Congressional Research Service, illegal alien apprehensions in the San Diego sector dropped from 202,000 in 1992 to 9,000 in 2004.

Democrats took back Congress, and in 2008 the White House saw in unrestricted immigration a way to fundamentally transform the demographics of the country and its political landscape. ICE was told not to enforce the law. The unrestricted flow of illegal immigration, drugs and crime soon became too big to ignore. That directive is the source of confusion in the language between Illegal Immigrant, Legal Immigrant, Refugee, Visitors who did not leave when required, and invited H1B workers to replace higher cost American workers. So we have “Sanctuary Cities” who are defying federal law,  and all sorts of confusion about “Amnesty” and “Anchor Babies.”

Enter President Donald Trump who had promised to build a wall. Although there is historically a rise in apprehensions of illegals from January to February, since the administration’s message to ICE and Border Control that they were a law enforcement agency, and Executive Orders to enforce immigration laws—the number of illegal immigrants entering from Mexico has declined by 40 percent  according to Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly on Wednesday. It’s trending toward the lowest monthly total in the last five years, Kelly said. Just the simple statement that the laws will be enforced changes the situation dramatically. Someone should mention that to Minority Leader Schumer.




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