American Elephants

Guns and Gun Violence, In Gun Controlled Chicago. by The Elephant's Child


Democrats learn from each other, and from approved leftist publications, and from Democrat talking points and late night comedians, I think. They do not seem to learn from evidence.

“As of November 23, there had been 2,703 shootings which resulted in 440 deaths year-to-date in heavily gun-controlled Chicago,” according to AWR Hawkins, writing in Breitbart.  That is an increase, he said, of approximately 400 shootings over the same time last year.

The Chicago Tribune reported these numbers as part of their broader coverage of the 11 people shot, five killed, over the course of last weekend alone. Half of those wounded were shot on November 22 “between about 12:25 p.m. and 8:40 p.m.” Three of those killed were shot on that same day, between those same hours as well.

It is especially notable that gun control laws have little to do with actual gun violence. Lefties always believe that it’s the guns, not the gangs. It’s the guns, not the drug dealing. And the violence is, of course, to be blamed on bad policing. Because there is gun violence and bad policing, the assumption is that people who are in prison for “non-violent crimes” should be released, because it isn’t fair. I am inclined to believe that selling drugs is a violent crime. At least it does violence to someone else’s life.

Chicago established a “violence tax” at suburban Cook County gun stores in April 2013. The tax is levied on each gun and bullet sold within the county. In 2014, the first full year after the tax, gun deaths increased by 19 over the toll in 2013. As if November 23rd, the Tribune shows 440 deaths with over a month left to go, so  Chicago has already topped 2014, and who knows what December will bring.

Evidence be damned. The Seattle City Council adopted a similar tax on August 10. Gun violence is raging in Seattle, but to the Democrat run  city council the problem is the guns, or the bullets, not who is holding or shooting the weapon. Seattle has suburbs all around the city, and they haven’t, and probably won’t, initiate such a tax. Seattle is similar to Berkeley, with a similarly useless city council.

You can look all around the world, and gun control laws simply do not work. See Australia, Britain, Canada for example.

America has lots of hunters. There are, as of 2011, 10.6 million deer hunters, 1.4 million duck hunters, 3.1 million turkey hunters, and 1.7 million squirrel hunters. Then we have elk, quail, grouse, goose, bear, pronghorn, bighorn sheep and wild pig and other species that are available to hunt in some locations. Where I grew up, a lot of families depended on the fall hunting trip for deer or elk to fill the freezer to get through the winter. Hunters are responsible gun owners and users for the most part, and many of them have several guns.

Criminals are not, but they don’t buy their weapons at gun stores, nor do they pay a tax on each bullet. The police take a very risky job because they believe in keeping the public safe. The “Black Lives Matter” crowd is doing a lot of uncalled for damage to neighborhood policing.

That is not a gun at the top.  It is simply a picture of a hunting rifle.

The Rise and Fall Of American Education by The Elephant's Child

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The Democrats have been trying to end poverty and problems like crime and drugs and lack of education in the black community. After a long history of segregation and slavery, being on the wrong side of the Civil War, they are anxious to make the black community reliable Democrat voters. Thus any black person who leans Republican has become an Uncle Tom, a traitor to his people, and other rhetoric that is even worse. Democrats’ efforts to improve the schools or the educational attainment of black children has been a mixed bag. They consistently focus on the wrong things.

The attempts to improve things have been many, desegregating the schools, busing, classroom amenities, Head Start, and now pre-pre school. Well-to-do families put their kids in pre-school, so that must be the answer. Head Start shows a slight improvement in outcomes which disappear by 3rd grade.

In Washington D.C., there is a program called “Opportunity Scholarships”which provides scholarships to children from low-income families to attend a private school of choice. It operates by a lottery. President George W. Bush signed the program into law in 2004. It targeted 2,000 children from low income families to give them funding to help offset the cost of private schooling, and has been hugely successful and popular.

In 2009, new President Barack Obama ‘s budget proposal cut all funding for the program and included language to prohibit any new students from receiving scholarships. Whether this was simply to attack all things Bush, or at the urging of the teachers’ unions, I don’t know.

In 2011, Speaker of the House John Boehner and Senator Joe Lieberman introduced a new Scholarships for Opportunity and Results (SOAR), restored funding and allowed new students to participate. Again, in 2012, Obama’s budget proposal did not include new funding for the program. Jason Riley argued that the program cost less per child and had a higher graduation rate than D.C. public schools. A very popular program with parents and students.

Well, never say die. The federal intrusion into schooling continues. There is a push for  pre-kindergarten, or extended babysitting for parents. Tuition-free two years of community college. Entrepreneurship education. Of course Bernie Sanders and Hillary are pushing for free college tuition, without the slightest idea how it could possibly be paid for. Obama demands less testing. Now comes the zinger. America’s national obsession with raising our “educational attainment” level has reached a new height of absurdity.

On November 6, the U.S. Department of Education put out a press release that declared a “sense of urgency about the need for significant improvement in both the rigor and flexibility of accreditation.”

The rationale is that the Obama administration is concerned that the U.S is falling far short of the president’s stated goal of becoming the nation with the highest percentage of citizens holding college degrees by 2020 — 60 percent. The numbers have actually declined slightly.

Schools with poor graduation rates are said to be “failing their students.” The federal government push for “affirmative action” has resulted in minority students enrolling in colleges where under ordinary circumstances they would not qualify for admission, but in a school with lower admission qualifications they might do well. It is meant well, but the results are bad for the schools and bad for the students. The administration fixation on graduation rates ignores the plain fact that we already have a glut of young people with college degrees, and employers are devising harder and harder tests to see if job applicants know anything.

We have an economic problem in that not enough well-paying jobs are being created — because of the actions of the federal government. An excess of regulation, high taxes, and a general suspicion of business have forced many small businesses to give up.  Colleges have designed more easy classes to appeal to kids. I don’t remember who puts out the list of silly college classes every year, but it’s enough to give you nightmares if you care about education.

The current furor on Campuses is an outgrowth. Faculty and administrative inability t0 act like grown-ups and insist on order demonstrates why the students are acting like children. We have a problem, and it’s going to get worse. Businesses will not hire graduates who exhibit no learning. Parents won’t pay for big tuition bills for poor results. The result of a college education is not supposed to be one more tic on the number of college graduates on some national list. It’s supposed to be hard, and they are supposed to have really learned something.

Controlling the American People With a $183 Billion Web of Regulation This Year Alone by The Elephant's Child

A-spiders-web-007Thanksgiving approaches — a major American holiday in which our attention turns to a brief reflection on the Pilgrims, and a major focus on turkey, stuffing and football. Everyone is looking forward to a day off. While we are distracted, the Obama administration released its plans for 2,224 federal rules on Friday. This is a preview of just how many more regulations the president intends to issue before he leaves office.

You probably thought we were already thoroughly over-regulated, which we are. It is a major drag on the economy, not just in make-work and annoyance, but financially. Michael Bastach is on the case at The Daily Caller. The Left has realized that to install socialism, they don’t need to own the means of production, they just need to control it, and this can be accomplished with a web of regulation.

Obama’s Fall 2014 regulatory agenda was released the Friday before Thanksgiving with 3,400 new regulations. Obama’s Spring 2015 agenda detailing the reach of 2,300 new federal rules was released the eve of Memorial Day weekend. You are not supposed to notice. There are new rules for coal mines, and rules banning common pesticides, major energy and environmental requirements, added to more federal control over U.S. waterways, new hydraulic fracturing rules and even stricter smog rules. Notice how many are from the EPA.

The last week’s batch of regulation imposes $1.8 billion in costs, according to the American Action Forum (AAF) which brings the total for 2015 to a startling $183 billion. Half of it comes from final rules and the other from proposed rules. The per capita regulatory burden is $570 for 2015, for every man woman and child. That’s 72,898 pages of regulations. Think of a busy spider spinning webs over  your family. At first you don’t even notice, but by the time you do, you are already wrapped up and stowed away on the web for dinner, later.

There is always some overreach, and organizations and businesses fight back, and some end up in court. The EPA has frequently been smacked down in court, but some of their rules stick. Are they accomplishing anything positive for society? No. We are already over-regulated. It isn’t about  improving anything, it is about control.     

You may have noticed that the progressives are a little weak in the economics department. They get all confused with Keynesian ideas about money multiplying as it circulates through the economy. They don’t get the burden that per capita $570 inflicts on us all, in higher costs for everything we use, the disappearance of small businesses that we patronized, the annoyance of new rules, the shrinking of our lifestyle, more unemployment, more national debt, and a shrinking economy.

The evidence is there, and very clear. Socialism does not work.  It will not be different this time, nor next time. Progressives are not interested in free markets, nor free people, but believe everything will mysteriously be  better when they are firmly in control.

Trust in Government is at an all-time low. Is anyone surprised?

“Contained,” But Under Obama’s Watch ISIS Has Grown by 4,400 Percent. by The Elephant's Child

lk_1The raging debate about Syrian refugees is full of lies and misrepresentations, and totally confusing.  Syria is a battleground with some of the worst characters imaginable. Bashar Assad is using barrel bombs and poison gas on his own citizens, ISIS is committing some of the worst crimes against humanity ever known, and destroying the archaeological remnants of the ancient world as well.

Strangely, to western eyes, those atrocities — beheading, crucifying, burning people in cages — are all designed to attract adherents. President Obama has claimed that ISIS is “controlled,” yet under Obama’s watch ISIS has grown by around 4,400 percent. CIA Director John Brennan admitted that the Islamic State terror group has grown by that much during President Barack Obama’s tenure in office. During former president George W. Bush’s term in office ISIS was “decimated” and had around “700 or so adherents left.” The CIA has found the organization currently has somewhere from 20,000 to 31,500 fighters operating across the Middle East.

The Islamic State “was, you know, pretty much decimated when US forces were there in Iraq. It had maybe 700-or-so adherents left. And then it grew quite a bit in the last several years, when it split then from al Qaeda in Syria, and set up its own organization,” Brennan said.

So much for ISIS being “contained.”

How “Syrian refugees” are presented to the public governs public opinion. A huddled Muslim woman with her arms around two small children, backed with other women and children creates a far different impression than a long column of young men of military age. The heartbreaking photo of the drowned Syrian toddler washed up on a Turkish beach had a photographer there to arrange the body and smooth back the hair. The toddler was from Lebanon, not Syria, and almost nothing about the whole story was true except that the child drowned.

“Refugee” is a word that has a specific meaning, and the nation’s laws describe how one gets classified as a refugee — the president does not get to decide who is a refugee — Congress does, and there is a religious test. A “refugee” is escaping persecution or threatened harm especially because of his religious beliefs. And yes, the Christians  in the Middle East do meet that test. We have welcomed some groups of refugees, from Cuba, from Vietnam. Many immigrants seek to make a new life in America leaving their country of origin, but that does not make them “refugees.” I’m really tired of Obama telling us who we are; and what is and is not American. We do not make hard decisions based on compassion and empathy — but on hard nosed facts.

When I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which a person who’s fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted … that’s shameful…. That’s not American. That’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion.

Under federal law, the executive branch is expressly required to take religion into account in determining who is granted asylum. Under the provision governing asylum (section 1158 of Title 8, U.S. Code), an alien applying for admission must establish that…religion was or will be at least one central reason for processing the applicant.

How much of a risk should we take to allow into the country a host of people among whom a few terrorists or many terrorists may be hiding. The notion that we can “vet” them is clearly nonsense. There is no government in Syria to which we can apply for true information about who these people are. ISIS is increasingly using female suicide bombers. One just blew herself up in Paris. There are reports of ISIS fighters shaving their beards and disguising themselves as women in Europe. The fact that we have welcomed immigrants in the past has nothing whatsoever to do with the current situation. That’s a cheap appeal to emotion, and meant as a conversation stopper. It is not a simple question.

In welcoming immigrants, we have welcomed those who want to come to America, who want to become Americans, and who want to learn our history and our customs and our language. President Obama is attempting to eliminate, by executive order, portions of the oath of citizenship that require the immigrant to serve in the military if required. European countries have never figured out how to turn the immigrants they have accepted into real citizens.

We have been processing Syrian refugees for years. A leader of New York City’s Syrian community said that ISIS terrorists ave “absolutely” sneaked into America by posing as refugees from the civil war in Syria. He said he believes terrorists have been coning not only in the past few years, but way before that, said Arafat “Ralph” Succar. He added I think they’re already at work. He said the corruption in his homeland is so rampant that anyone could pay bribes and get official identification papers with a fake name to disguise their real identity.

And as Obama is being outraged over the governors and presidential contenders who want to pause the inflow of Syrian refugees. From Manila he tweeted

Slamming the door in the face of refugees would betray our deepest values. That’s not who we are. And it’s not what we’re going to do.

But back in 2011, at Obama’s behest, the administration stopped processing Iraqi refugee requests for six months after two Iraqi refugees were arrested on terrorism charges in Bowling Green Kentucky. The State Department stopped processing refugee requests in order to review and revamp security screening procedures. This included Iraqis who had worked with American troops as interpreters and intelligence assets. One Iraqi was assassinated before his refugee application could be processed because of the immigration delays. Only half as many Iraqis were resettled as refugees as the number from the previous year.
There’s really not much compassion, but a singular concern for how things would look to — who exactly? Whose opinion is he so concerned about? He has surrounded himself with a small group of sycophants, and regards anyone who is critical as the enemy.

You probably noticed all the women and widows and 3 year old orphans in the picture above.


ADDENDUM: That  female ISIS suicide bomber who blew herself up turned out not to be female. DNA tests on the remnants of the body established that she was a man.

Hits and Misses in the ‘War’ on the Islamic State by The Elephant's Child

It was only days ago that we had word that “Jihadi John,”  the British citizen Mohammed Emwazi, who became known for beheading  Western  hostages for ISIS— was reported hit in Raqqa by an attack from an American drone. U.S. counter terrorism officials said he was killed with a ‘flawless’ drone missile strike the moment he stepped into a car. Pentagon officials are 99 percent sure that he was killed.

He was “evaporated” near a clock tower where ISIS staged public executions. Britain’s Daily Mail had an extensive article on the “World’s most wanted man.” The drone strike took off from Incirlik Air Force Base in Turkey, and was piloted from Creech Air Force Base in Las Vegas.

The Daily Mail piece also included an aerial photograph of the site of the drone strike. But it also contains evidence of the problem many have complained of, the White House’s tight control over targeting that is making the administration’s claims of conducting effective air control over ISIS so absurd.


So we know the exact site of ISIS main headquarters, the Islamic Court, but declined to target those because…? Obama seems happy to go after anyone with a drone attack, I suppose because he can assume that the missile that got the target didn’t get anyone who was near, or if they were near they were probably bad guys too? One would assume that targeting ISIS main headquarters might set back their terrorist activities a little.

The British Prime Minister welcomed reports of the killing which he called an ‘act of self defence’.

He stopped short of confirming that Emwazi – who he branded a ‘barbaric murderer’ – was dead but said the targeted attack was ‘the right thing to do’.

There is a high possibility British spies were operating on the ground in Raqqa to help identify Emwazi before the strike and may now be trying to collect DNA evidence to prove his death.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Emwazi’s role in ISIS propaganda videos used to radicalize people meant he was a ‘target worth going after’.

We need a public excuse?

Intelligence Sources Say that 4 Out of 5 Syrian Refugees Are Not From Syria. by The Elephant's Child

Syria2_442696bPresident Obama is set on his plan for admitting 10,000 “Syrian refugees” next year, and his press conference yesterday is not going over well even with the Democrats. Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson, typically an Obama ally, said that “at times he was patronizing, at other times he seemed annoyed and almost dismissive.”

“That’s not the tone you want to strike to the public, that’s not the tone you want to send to our allies and enemies,” said Democratic strategist Brad Bannon.

Obama saved his harshest criticism for Republicans, but focused most of his time fending off critics who say the Paris attacks show his counterterrorism strategy has been a failure. ISIS has continued to hold on to large swaths of territory — but its newly demonstrated ability to pull off a coordinated terror attack in a major European city should elicit from Obama some broader reevaluation of his strategy.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said Monday that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) isn’t contained to its territory in the Middle East, presenting a sharp contrast with President Obama’s remarks on his strategy to combat the group.

“I have never been more concerned,” Feinstein said during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports,” calling for additional U.S. troops on the ground to combat the militants.

The media is, as usual, muddying up the situation. The “refugees, migrants, immigrants” usually described as “the Syrian refugees”are not all from Syria. Some intelligence sources say that 4 out of 5 refugees are not from Syria. They have apparently been told that they are welcome in Europe and will receive welfare and schooling and all sorts of benefits they can’t obtain at home. And once there, they are demanding, and particular, and ungrateful.

Who can possibly not have sympathy for those trying desperately to escape Bashar Assad’s barrel bombs and poison gas? FBI Director James Comey has said that it is impossible to vet the refugees, since there is no government in Syria to vet them with, as has Michael Rogers, NSA Director.  Attorney General Loretta Lynch claims they will screen them, how, she didn’t say.

Here are the top 15 countries of origin for refugees admitted to the U.S. in fiscal year 2015: Myanmar, Iraq, Somalia, Dem.Rep. of Congo, Bhutan, Iran, Syria, Eritrea, Sudan, Cuba, Ukraine, Burundi, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, and Colombia.

The New York Times has a map that shows where Syrian Refugees have so far been placed, and it includes states whose  governors have refused to accept refugees. It is an extremely difficult situation, and Mr. Obama seems unable to understand that it is not a matter of empathy — but of attempting to keep Americans safe from a massive attack, which is clearly coming.

Strangely, in this very strange time, the loose-knit online hacker group Anonymous “declared war‘ on ISIS this weekend, and reports that over 5,500 ISIS-affiliated accounts on Twitter have been exposed and taken down.

If you have not read The Atlantic article on “What ISIS Really Wants,” I would urge you to do so.  As the subhead says: “The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy — and for how to stop it.”

The EPA Is Not Now, And Never Has Been, In Any Situation — Transparent! by The Elephant's Child

AR-150829613.jpg&maxw=725&maxh=575I have wondered about the progress of the spill from the Gold King Mine as it proceeds down the Colorado River System through Lake Powell and the Grand Canyon. As the spill approached Lake Powell, news about the spill precipitously dropped from the news. Not an accident. Environmental Protection Agency officials have required their contractors to sign non-disclosure agreements, or secrecy pledges.

“The statement of work includes a standard requirement that the contractor shall not publish or otherwise release, distribute, or disclose any work product generated under the contract without obtaining EPA’s express advance written approval,” an EPA spokeswoman told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “This does not require either an NDA or confidentiality agreement be signed by individual employees.”

Non-disclosure agreements are often used to protect important government secrets, they are not supposed to obstruct official accountability at critical times. The EPA was clearly at fault here for a massive spill of 3 million gallons of highly toxic mine waste, not only rife with materials such as cadmium, lead and arsenic. Fortunately, or unfortunately, the cadmium turned the river a bright mustard yellow, so it couldn’t exactly be kept secret. The picture above is of the narrow-gauge railroad that runs from Durango to Silverton, and is very popular with tourists. I have ridden it, and it’s a beautiful trip, but not with a yellow river.

The initial reporting was plentiful as it flowed through small Colorado towns and as it reached the Navajo Reservation where the river flows right through the center of the reservation near Shiprock and Teec Nos Pos. This is water essential to the reservation, for tribal animals and water, and for irrigation, and just for drinking water. There were some sloppy attempts to truck water in to the reservation, with dirty tanks, and the tribal leaders said they would sue. This is public business, and lawsuits will be paid with taxpayer  money.

The EPA has said that there are 28 separate contracts with Environmental Restoration and it would take until the 22nd of December to review them all to determine just which contract would pertain to the Animas and Colorado Rivers. Uh huh. Even looking through Google’s array of pictures, they don’t seem to include Lake Powell nor the Grand Canyon National Park. Interesting.

The EPA is forestalling transparency in a spill that affects the regional supply of drinking water across the American Southwest. Timely? Nah.

But it is a bit of a pattern for agencies of the Obama administration. The IRS? Don’t ask. The VA? Congress is working on transparency, but it seems that it is difficult to impossible to fire government officials. This was going to be the most transparent administration in history. That’s turning out well.


(click to enlarge)


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