American Elephants


Now That He as Fixed the Middle East, Obama Intends to “Fix” America by The Elephant's Child

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Fresh off abjectly surrendering to the mullahs in Iraq, Obama has reverted to full Community Organizer. His broadest attempt to “fundamentally transform the United States of America”is a plan known as “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” (AFFH) which will require the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to gather data on the economic and racial makeup of each ZIP code, by the numbers, to disclose whether the numbers display “disparate impact” that requires “fixing.”

The trouble is that Obama knows so much that isn’t so. HUD’s own study explains why this will not work, and advised against expecting better results from a larger or more aggressive relocation program. But Liberals are always true believers in their cherished programs and are sure that a larger or more aggressive relocation program will do it. HUD is pitching the program as a plan to “diversify” America.

“HUD is working with communities across the country to fulfill the promise of equal opportunity for all,” a spokeswoman for the agency explained. “The proposed policy seeks to break down barriers to access to opportunity in communities supported by HUD funds.”

The effort calls for HUD to set aside taxpayer funds to upgrade poorer communities with amenities such as better schools, parks, libraries, grocery stores and transportation routes as a means of gentrifying those communities. It also calls for using grant money to build affordable housing in wealthy neighborhoods. Ultimately however, as it is with virtually every facet of the leftist agenda, it’s a naked power grab: the Obama administration is holding certain housing funds hostage to a city’s efforts to determine patterns of segregation in various neighborhoods and submit plans to address those patterns. Cities that refuse to do so would have funds used to improve blighted areas withheld.

Community organizers have been sure that the reason that poor blacks cannot get home loans to move into better neighborhoods is due to racial discrimination rather than lousy credit history. Democrats insistence on forcing banks to make home loans to poor African Americans who could not pay them back was the cause of the  “worst recession since the Great Recession of the 1930s” as Obama liked to describe it.

Leftist civil rights advocates who invariably worship at the altar of greater government control are thrilled, insisting decades of housing policy have “trapped” poor people in bad neighborhoods, depriving them of better lives. “This rule is not about forcing anyone to live anywhere they don’t want to,” said Margery Turner, senior vice president of the left-leaning Urban Institute. “It’s really about addressing long-standing practices that prevent people from living where they want to.

Uh huh. The federal government is forcing low-income families to move to more expensive neighborhoods, offering housing vouchers worth up to $1,800 a month, and cutting their subsidies if they don’t want to move. The vouchers were created in the 1970s to force low-income families to get out of their neighborhoods, but that effort largely failed, and they remain in their low income neighborhoods. If given a voucher, they usually buy better quality housing in the same neighborhood. Surprise! People want to stay where their friends and relatives are.

Officials concluded the subsidies they were offering previously were too small, so in the Dallas experiment and in some other added regions, they upped the value of the vouchers. In the cheapest zip codes, HUD cut housing subsidies to a maximum of $850 a month, but in the most expensive zip codes they increased them to a current maximum of $1,840.

And possibly they don’t want to be told by the government where they must live.

In a companion “Fair Housing Assessment Tool,” HUD counts “land use and zoning laws, such as minimum lot sizes, limits on multi-unit properties, height limits, or bedroom-number limits as well as requirements for special use permits (and) occupancy restrictions” among “factors contributing to segregated housing patterns.”

Foes point to Westchester County, N.Y., as an example of how HUD seeks to control suburban zoning and building. HUD has withheld $17 million in funds from the tony community after it failed to build several hundred affordable-housing units under federal order.

The hard Left’s utopian dreams of making everybody equal (except for themselves, of course, who will run things) means removing the wealth from the successful, and giving it to the poor. No more suburbs — all will be cities. The left does not approve of suburbs. It’s an effort to achieve economic integration. Obama believes it might not work well at first but after 20 or 30 years, everyone will be used to it.

Stanley Kurtz has been studying this pipe dream of the left for some time, and is the expert to consult. The Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project has essentially green lighted this initiative.

The administrative usurpation of housing policy” by Stanley Kurtz

“Massive Government Overreach: Obama’s AFFH Rule is Out” Kurtz

“What’s Holding Blacks Back?” by John McWhorter

ADDENDUM: I changed the wording in the first paragraph slightly to clarify just what it is that they are attempting to do. It is not about discrimination or segregation, it is about the numbers matching some pre-conceived perfect mixture of race and ethnicity, Affirmative action for America’s neighborhoods. Has been a disaster for education, and harmed the people they claimed to be helping, the most.



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.



A Vast Self-Inflicted Tragedy Has Struck Greece. There Are No Easy Answers. by The Elephant's Child
July 5, 2015, 8:59 pm
Filed under: Communism, Economy, Socialism, Statism | Tags: , , ,

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Well, the matter of Greece. Janet Daley describes the problem in The Telegraph.

There is no point any longer in trying to make sense of this. It has gone beyond sense. It is now incomprehensible in the strict technical meaning of the word. The “options” available are all catastrophic and delusional in varying degrees and combinations, and nobody is actually going to get to choose between them anyway – at least, nobody in Greece. To the extent that they have had any involvement – or culpability – in this matter, the Greek people must come to terms with the consequences of electing Russell Brand to head their government. Voters do have some responsibility for the choices that they make. That is what distinguishes mature democracy from the students’ union. But given the price that they are paying for that moment of mad frivolity, it seems harsh to condemn, especially as the prospect of fiscal rationality had already been ruined by the fecklessness of previous governments and external forces beyond their control.

It’s a marvelous example, once again, of the failure of socialism. We have seen it over  and over, and the empty stores in Venezuela were only a harbinger of the empty stores, already, in Greece. Spare the empathy, the Greeks brought it upon themselves. A new book from James Angelos:The Full Catastrophe, looks at the widespread tax evasion and benefit fraud. How about an island where everybody pretends to be blind? Or  doctors who earn only €12,000 a year — yet live in the most exclusive neighborhood in Athens?

It was rumors of the ‘Island of the blind’ that brought journalist James Angelos to Greece. Turned out that 61 of the supposedly blind residents of Zakynthos, were quite happily driving around the island, and an astonishing 496 of the 680 blind residents were not blind nor partially sighted. It was all a scam that could be traced back to one ophthalmologist and one official who cost the government €69 million. Being blind got you €724 paid in benefits once every two months, and a reduction in utility bills.

When the government called for those claiming disabilities to present themselves at government offices so official records could be updated, 36,000 failed to show up.That scam saved the government €100 million a year. When they began to check the rolls, they found that 8,500 unlikely pensioners claimed to be over age 100.

Neighborhoods of opulent mansions with their own pools were apparently occupied by virtual paupers who were living on a paltry €12,000 or only €8,000 since they were allowed to declare their own incomes for tax purposes. Official records showed that just over 300 homes in Athens most exclusive neighborhood  had swimming pools, and had paid the tax for the luxury. When the bureaucrats looked at Google Earth, it appeared that the real number of pools was closer to 20,000. But well-to-do home owners promptly bought camouflage tarpaulins to conceal their existence from tax inspectors flying over.

The picture of a pensioner crying in the street when he learns that his pension has been reduced to €120 is heartwrenching. Stores are empty, medicine short, and the government is projected to run out of cash this week. Nobody plans to rescue them. Much of Southern Europe is already coping with floods of refugees from Africa and the Middle East. Bureaucrats like to buy votes with their empathy. We care about  you and we will give you stuff. But bureaucrats need to stay in power, so they exert more and more control, which needs larger departments and higher salaries for the bureaucracy. And so it goes. Inflating and inflating the balloon with the inevitable result.



Pin the Tail On the Donkey! by The Elephant's Child

Over the Fourth of July weekend in Chicago, 30 people were shot in 8 hours overnight. A 7 year-old boy and two men were killed. The Confederate flag has been withdrawn from store shelves and public display because it has suddenly been decided that it is a racist symbol and might offend someone. No one is particularly offended by 30 people being shot in a city with very strict gun control. Chicago has not had a Republican mayor since 1931.

Even before the Baltimore riots, gun violence was up more than 60% compared with last year. Protesters from Ferguson were reportedly sent to Baltimore by a George Soros associated group. There were 32 shootings over Memorial Day weekend.  Baltimore has been run by Democrats since 1967.

In Milwaukee, homicides were up 180% by May 17 over last year. Shootings in St. Louis were up 39%. robberies 43% and homicides 25%. St.Louis Alderman Joe Vacarro said “Crime is the worst I’ve ever seen it” in a May City Hall hearing. Milwaukee’s last Republican Mayor left office in 1906, St. Louis’s last Republican Mayor left office in 1949. Just a coincidence, I’m sure.

Murders in Atlanta were up 32% as of mid May, Democrat Mayors have run Atlanta since 1942.

What has happened is a relentlessly dishonest campaign against law enforcement, which the Wall Street Journal called “the Ferguson Effect,” beginning with Trayvon Martin, who was pictured as an innocent young boy in a hoodie, instead of the huge violent young man, and extending through one innocent young black man after another, with out-of-control violent policing supposedly at fault.

Shooting incidents were up 500% in East Harlem, 100% in South Central Los Angeles. And in many cities, police are afraid to confront suspects for fear that they will be attacked or wrongly accused of misbehavior. Cops are not perfect. There are bad apples. There are racists, but the majority of police across the country are trying to keep the peace and forestall crime. Attacking the police, making poor neighborhoods believe that they cannot trust the very people who are trying to protect them is a vast disservice. When that protection is lessened or withdrawn because police are fearful for their own lives, crime and murders go up and trust drops even more.



Why Don’t They Ever Learn? Socialist Economies Never, Never Work. by The Elephant's Child
July 5, 2015, 6:37 am
Filed under: Economy, Freedom, Socialism | Tags: , ,

Greece-Sanders-copy“Twenty-five years after the most oppressive empire in human history collapsed because socialist economies don’t work, 49 percent of American youth , according to a recent  Pew poll; think socialism is a good system. …We won the Cold War, but we didn’t drive a stake through the communist heart. As a result the vampire of “social justice” has risen to fight another day.” ..
…………………………………………………(David Horowitz: Take No Prisoners)



If You Cannot Believe What You Are Told, You Have Lost Your Freedom. by The Elephant's Child

Lies matter. If you cannot believe what you are told, it changes your life for the worse. Kevin Williamson had an excellent column on Sunday about the real price of lies. He said “There can be no free society without trust.”And he’s right. He begins with U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen who was deliberately lied to by Obama’s lawyers acting for the president in the matter of Obama’s unconstitutional amnesty program.

More than that, I suspect that is a big part of what is wrong with the dysfunctional societies of the Middle East. They are societies built on lies and distrust, but that is true to one extent or another on all dictatorial societies. Americans’ First Amendment rights are the envy of the free world, but other nations have found such rights too scary to adopt in full. Remember that those rights came in an amendment. The Constitution did not fully protect the rights Americans believed that they should have.

Increasingly, we are coming up against a culture of lies. The Obama administration’s push for more bureaucratic control is in direct opposition to our freedoms. The belief that a government run by those who have confidence that they are smarter than the  rest of us is not quite what the framers had in mind.

We are slowly learning that our  president frames his comments  in terms to flatter himself. Naturally, to mark the 5th anniversary of ObamaCare, its backers used the occasion to congratulate themselves on its many successes. Investors took the occasion to point out the five biggest told about ObamaCare:

  1. In many ways, it’s working better than anticipated.” That was the president himself. We know the whoppers— the $2500 everybody was going to save on their premiums went up instead. You weren’t able to keep your plan or your doctor, and were forced to find something new and less favorable or in many cases much worse. Enrollment is less than expected and the government is lying about the numbers. It is costing many their jobs, covering fewer uninsured, and hurting part-time and low wage workers.
  2. It has slowed the increase in heath cost increases to the lowest rate in 50 years.” Health care costs have been going down steadily since before ObamaCare, as new drugs, new diagnostic techniques and new organizations have improved. ObamaCare has little to do with the decreases.
  3. Sixteen million have gained insurance thanks to ObamaCare.” This is not a credible estimate, but based on a dubious analysis of a Gallup survey of the uninsured.
  4. The law has been a boon to the economy The economy appears to be growing, but the growth is hard to find. Annual growth in real GDP since ObamaCare became law has averaged just 2.2%—the weakest recovery since the Great Depression. Job growth has been poor, and much of it has gone to immigrants. Household income is way below  pre-recession levels.
  5. Its helping reduce the deficit. The Congressional Budget Office has stopped trying to figure out what ObamaCare’s impact on the deficit will be because there are too many moving parts. The administration has made improper changes to the law, lawsuits are in the courts, and a lot of things just aren’t working. The long term forecast is bleak.

Obama sold the law to the public on false promises, it was passed by Congress using legislative tricks and back-room bribery. It has never won public support. Emergency room use is up, not down. People on Medicaid cannot find doctors. Computerizing everything has only made patient records available to anyone, changed the practice of medicine so that doctors are interacting with computers instead of patients, and completely failed to connect hospital communities across the country.

It has been a disastrous program for the American people, and its flaws are both predictable and immune to fixing by tinkering. The Left will not give up on it because they hope to change it completely into a single-payer plan, the mother of all failed health care systems.



“Let’s Make a Deal” vs. “Of Course, yes, Death to America” by The Elephant's Child

436c1a3e-ef75-4fcc-8820-11966b177712We have a bit of a hiatus in the nuclear arms talks with Iran, for the Persian New Year (Nowruz) on Thursday. And then for the weekend. because President Rouhani’s mother died.

President Obama released a happy Nowruz video timed for the celebration, and urged Iran’s  people to push the regime in Tehran to agree to the “reasonable deal” that he is offering the on its nuclear weapons program.

“Iran’s leaders have a choice between two paths,” Mr. Obama says on the video. They can accept his deal, or stay on “a path that has isolated Iran, and the Iranian people, from so much of the world, caused so much hardship for Iranian families, and deprived so many young Iranians of the jobs and opportunities they deserve.”

Obama is clearly hoping that young Iranians have forgotten how in June 2009, he met their appeals for support when they were protesting the election stolen from them by then President Ahmadinejad and the mullahs. Young Iranians took to the streets in huge numbers and they were ruthlessly crushed. When the violence became too bloody to ignore, Obama did say he was “deeply troubled.” His message was not really for young people who have no influence, but about the March 31 deadline for a deal.

Supreme leader Ali Khamenei responded “Of course yes, death to America because America is the original source of this pressure. They insist on putting pressure on our dear people’s economy” he said, referring to economic sanctions aimed at halting Iran’s nuclear  program. “What is their goal? Their goal is to put the people against the system. The politics of America is to create insecurity,” he added.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said that “France wants an agreement, but a robust agreement. That is to say, an accord that really guarantees that Iran can obviously have access to the civil nuclear (program.)”  “But to the atomic bomb? No.”

French diplomats have been urging their counterparts not to give in on key elements, like easing sanctions before serious progress is made, and arguing that the March 31 deadline was an “artificial” deadline.

Officials said the Obama administration is looking for a deal that commits Iran to a 40 percent cut in the numbers of centrifuges used to enrich. They want a deal that stretches the time Tehran would need to make a nuclear weapon from the present two or three months to a least a whole year.

That’s their goal?

The break-even price for Iranian oil is somewhere in the vicinity of $130 a barrel. Iran subsidizes gasoline for its citizens. How far can they go in deficit spending?

According to MEMRI, Ali Shirazi, the representative of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps elite Qods Force promised at a Feb. 26 ceremony attended by the families of martyrs that:

We will not rest until we have raised the banner of Islam over the White House. The Islamic nation is determined to enter the arena with all its force, backed by Allah’s will and his grace, and to stand fast against the world of arrogance. They will not suppress us with sanctions and threats. You did not succeed in harming the regime on the day it emerged, and now that the regime is 36 years old, you, the enemies of Islam, must expect and realize that every day [you] will be beaten, across the world.

Myron Magnet, City Journal’s editor-at-large reminds us of the history of Jimmy Carter ‘s dealings with Iran, and offers another historical remembrance:

So now President Obama wants to make an agreement that will ensure that Iran can produce an atom bomb essentially overnight. He has not seen fit to explain his reasoning to the American people, and it is hard to imagine what it might be. But all I can think of is Churchill’s rebuke to Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain when he returned from his infamous appeasement of Hitler in Munch in 1938. “You were given the choice between war and dishonor,” Churchill thundered in Parliament. “You chose dishonor, and you will have war.” Certainly President Obama is choosing dishonor. What kind of war he might unleash, the world watches with dread.

In an important Wall Street Journal piece, Douglas Feith adds:

Iranian leaders have a long record of shameless dishonesty. Their aid to the tyrannical Assad regime has been massive since the Syrian civil war began, but they routinely deny it. And they make a practice of lying to United Nations weapons inspectors. Commenting on how the inspectors have repeatedly been surprised by what Iran hides, Olli Heinonen, former deputy director-general of the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency, told this newspaper in 2013, “If there is no undeclared installation today . . . it will be the first time in 20 years that Iran doesn’t have one.”




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