American Elephants


How Do We Decide What is Real and Who to Believe? by The Elephant's Child

Have you ever stopped to think that almost all of which we consider as “the news” is just what someone has said. If they have the qualifications of belonging to a “news” organization, then it is news. But then whatever a “celebrity” says is also apparently considered to be news, although a “celebrity” is merely someone whose name we recognize.

Hollywood people used to hire press agents to make people think that what they said was of note, so that they could eventually become a “celebrity”. Being a “celebrity” meant that they were more apt to get jobs, because more people were apt to be attracted by the recognized name. They don’t need press agents anymore because they have the press itself, who if they can get a quote from someone whose name is recognized, are apt to get that piece published.

Today’s real “news” is that a dam in Michigan broke and flooded everything below, and people had to be evacuated. The rest of it is what somebody said. I find it helpful to understand the difference, because a lot of what somebody said is inaccurate and biased. Twitter now has a new 20 member fact-checking group to weed out any conservatives. The tech people seem a little lacking on the freedom of speech part, and don’t know how to manage it.

So how do we decide where we are going to learn about what is going on in the world around us, who to trust, and what are the guidelines to use?

Fredrich Hayek, the Austrian-American economist and Nobel Laureate, devoted much of his brilliant career to describing how rationalism could never work. How can anything good happen, Hayek asked, if individuals cannot think and act for themselves? Rules preclude initiative. Regimentation precludes evolution. Letting accidents happen, mistakes be made, results in new ideas. Trial and error is the key to all progress. The Soviet system of rules and central planning is doomed to failure. Hayek stated fifty years ago because it kills the human faculty that makes things work.
Philip Howard: The Death of Common Sense

In a liberal society knowledge –not belief– is the rolling critical consensus of a decentralized community of checkers, and nothing else.
Jonathan Rauch, Kindly Inquisitors



In a Disordered Society, A Little Food for Thought by The Elephant's Child

Constitution

In the current situation, I have dragged out some old, but favorite books: Angelo M. Codevilla’s The Ruling Class, and Milton Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom. I suspect a great many of us are sick of being confined, bossed around, and lied to. I think of government as a management group chosen to take care of the details that we cannot individually cope with. I vaguely hope that those we have chosen are up to the job, but don’t expect all that much. and I usually turn out to be more or less correct. In his Foreword. Professor Codevilla says:

It is about the fact that America now divides ever more sharply into two classes, the smaller of which holds the commanding heights of government, from which it disposes in ever greater detail of America’s economic energies, from which it ordains new ways of living as if it had the right to do so, and from which it asserts that that right is based on the majority class’s stupidity, racism, and violent tendencies.

A little later, in another chapter, he adds:

Our Ruling Class’ agenda is power for itself. It seeks and exercises that power through unremarkable patronage and promises thereof, as well as by courting supporters and denigrating opponents. These ordinary means, however, are having remarkable effects on America’s body politic, because their practice is wrapped up in our Ruling Class’ peculiar intellectual and moral pretenses. Chief among these is an ideological belief that it has an exclusive, Gnostic grip on modern science’s secrets. Nevertheless, as we look at how our Ruling Class is making our economic livelihood ever more dependent on itself, at how it is running a system of representation and a legal system quite opposite to those bequeathed to us by our founders, as well as at how it is disaggregating our families and dispiriting our souls, let us keep in mind that this agenda is driven primarily by mundane personal interest. This agenda proceeds from claims that our Ruling Class knows formulae for spreading economic wealth, for engineering social happiness, and for legal and constitutional fairness. It claims as well to be more resistant than the rest of us to the temptation to profit personally from power. In short, it  proceeds from the premise of human inequality and leads to even greater inequality. But, pretenses notwithstanding, our Ruling Class was no more present at the creation of our nation than the rest of us, nor are they any less self interested. Its members too put on their pants one leg at a time.

Does that sound a bit familiar, as if it is touching on the world of today? We Americans like to think that we are the freest people on earth, that the rest of the world envies us as they cope with their difficult governments. We find AOC fascinating because of her absolute ignorance of American history and American beliefs. Today she was back with the idea that we kept illegal immigrant children in cages, to boost her support for Biden, completely unaware that it was the Obama administration which did that.

Charles Schumer spoke up to say that the Democrats would present us with a “Rooseveltian” world, as if that was something to yearn for. They still believe in FDR’s Administration, unaware that his efforts with the Great Depression made it last seven years longer than it should have. Two economists from UCLA, Lee Ohanian and Harold Cole proved that conclusively. Don’t need to do that again. We should have learned what a failure FDR was, but it’s hard to give up your heroes.  Michael Moore has a new movie out admitting that wind farms and solar arrays do not work. How this will sit with the Democrats remains to be seen. They are very open to the “Green New Deal,” unfortunately.

Milton Friedman’s book is an essential for every library. He asks on the second page:

How can we benefit from the promise of government while avoiding the threat to freedom? Two broad principles embodied in our Constitution give an answer that has preserved our freedom so far, though they have been violated repeatedly in practice while proclaimed as precept.

First. the scope of government must be limited. Its major function must be to protect our freedom both from the enemies outside our gates and from our fellow citizens: to preserve law and order, to enforce private contracts, to foster competitive markets. Beyond this major function, government may enable us at times to accomplish jointly what we would find it more difficult or expensive to accomplish severally. However, any such use of government is fraught with danger. We should not and cannot avoid using government in this way. But there should be a clear and large balance of advantages before we do.  By relying privately on voluntary co-operation and private enterprise, in both economic and other activities, we can insure that the private sector is a check on the powers of the governmental sector and an effective protection of freedom of speech, of religion, and of thought.

The second broad principle is that government power must be dispersed. If government is to exercise power, better in the country than in the state, better in the state than in Washington. If I do not like what my local community does, be it in sewage disposal, or zoning, or schools, I can move to another local community, and though few may take this step, the mere possibility acts as a check. If I do not like what my state does, I can move to another. If I do not like what Washington imposes, I have few alternatives in this world of jealous nations.

You see, we are not alone in our discontent. It has been recognized by some of our most celebrated minds. If that gives you some comfort in your locked-down situation. They tell us that meat should be more plentiful in the grocery stores very shortly, but that is dependent on getting everybody in the meat-packing plants in masks and protective gear, I think. The government recognizes the problem and is working on it. Nobody has explained why I could not get any eggs!

The books are available from Amazon, and used copies are really cheap.

 

 



‘An Unexpected Crisis Shows the True Measure of a Man by The Elephant's Child

I am so sick and tired of the press. President Trump announced a halt to immigration in order to protect the jobs of so many who have lost their jobs in the current Corona virus lockdown. Many small businesses have laid off workers in reaction to the sudden drop in business because people have been ordered to stay home. The businesses hurting the most have often been small restaurants or small shops that do not have the finances to keep running anyway nor to refocus to take out, or delivery. Not highly skilled jobs. And just the kind of jobs that many new immigrants would look for, and undercut the salaries that their predecessors were receiving. President Trump clearly cares about the American people.

For the press, it was clear that President Trump just doesn’t like immigrants and has an unreasoned prejudice against them. Look how he’s always talking about his wall. I believe that the benefits of citizenship should be bestowed on those who are citizens, and those who have applied legally to become citizens. There is a legal way to do this, and we welcome legal immigrants. Democrats want more immigrants, and try to get them to the states that will increase the Democrat numbers for the census, so they can control more seats in the House of Representatives. Any pretense that they care more about immigrants is just that, a pretense.

COVID-19 has done quite a job of exposing the governors and other office holders who are having to deal with a crisis, an ongoing crisis that is doing a job on killing people. We have body counts every day, and reports on how many people have been tested and how many have caught the virus, how many have died and how many have survived. It adds a special clarity to officials words and actions, in some cases not very favorably.

Grim new rules for New York City Paramedics — do not resuscitate cardiac arrests nor bring them to Emergency Rooms. Apparently an effort to keep from  overcrowding hospitals. Same day, Gov Cuomo tells the President that they don’t need the USS Comfort (the Military Hospital Ship) any more, and he can have it back. They have filled up the Javits Center with hospital beds, which is apparently still empty. (I’m on the West Coast, so if I get this wrong, let me know) I only know what I read in the press. But in next-door New Jersey, the military is putting up field hospitals.

Michigan Governor Whitmer has already had mass protests descending on the State Capitol, and Michigan residents are not happy. Going to be an interesting election this Fall.



The Case for Trump, a Year Ago by The Elephant's Child

This interview from the Hoover Institution was recorded on April  1, 2019. when Victor Davis Hanson’s book The Case for Trump came out. It holds up remarkably well. I’m a great admirer of Dr. Hanson. How did blue collar voters connect with a millionaire builder from Queens? Possibly because, contrary to Democrat shrieks, Donald Trump is authentic, exactly who he says he is. The people like that.

The February Jobs Report: Payrolls soared by 273,000. Might have something to do with current approval.

Maggie’s Farm blog called my attention to this post.

Matt Margolis at pjmedia points out that “We Can Thank Trump for the United States Having Such a Low Per Capita Infection Rate of Coronavirus.”



Democrats Just Want To Be In Control by The Elephant's Child

Do you subscribe to any magazines anymore? When I was growing up we subscribed to Time, Life, Fortune,The Saturday Evening Post, and Readers Digest. Since magazines have gone online, we read real magazines at the doctor’s office and the hairdressers. Magazines are suffering, and have decided to make the articles that they expect to attract attention available only to “subscribers”. Which is interesting. I visit about 20 some websites every day, and if I had to subscribe to all of them to find out what is going on it would be far more expensive than I would care to pay. I understand that they need to pay their writers, and advertising is not bringing in the desired revenue.

I visited The Atlantic today. I was familiar with the magazine as being out there, but I had never read it before. Since I live on the West Coast, the name of the magazine was not enticing. Another East Coast rag that talks sneeringly about the rest of the country, as if anything that transpires in the other part of the country is not worthy of interest. Surprise! I was right. Hard Left, Trump-hating, and today with a plan to create more states so they have permanent Democratic control of the country. I had never considered trying to eliminate the other political party permanently, but they do.

The major problem with the Democratic Party is that they don’t understand human nature. Human nature being what it is, we need a government to manage the big things that we cannot manage as individuals, or even groups of individuals. Humans want to control things, fix them their way, make people do what we want and in the way we think they should act. We don’t want to be taxed, we want someone else to pay, we want our people in charge, permanently, We want excellent health care, but we don’t want to pay for it, we want good roads and good transportation, we want public safety, but no laws that cause us problems, and so on. If someone asked you how you would fix the government, given your own preferences, what would you change? Or how would you fix your community? Or your neighborhood? (There’s a constantly barking dog across the street.) There is no consensus on the perfect government at any level — everybody has their own choices, and you have to put up with a lot that you really don’t like. Democrats really, really don’t like Donald Trump, as they make quite clear, but they are prepared to go to extremes to remove him, though he’s doing a remarkably good job. (Nancy Pelosi just declared that all those things he claimed to have accomplished were lies.)

The founders were quite aware of the foibles of human nature and tried to write the Constitution in a way that would allow for it and cope with the excess. The idea that the Constitution says that the popular vote doesn’t count because the Electoral College was devised to see that all of the states had an equal voice, so that the big populous states could not cancel the vote of smaller states. That simple fact drives Democrats nuts, and they want to rewrite the Constitution so that it all depends on the popular vote — as long as that would let them win.



Trump Derangement Syndrome Strikes Again by The Elephant's Child

The arguments continue in Congress. Witnesses or no witnesses, and who. Democrats want what they think might be in John Bolton’s new book, which is currently being officially checked out for classified material. If witnesses are allowed, Republicans are going to want to hear from Hunter Biden and Joe Biden. Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company, reportedly paid Hunter Biden 38 monthly payments of $83,333.00  each, while his father led Obama’s policy for Ukraine, which seemed interesting because Hunter did not speak the language, had no expertise in energy, and no applicable experience whatsoever.

Democrats don’t seem to want to hear from the Bidens. Possibly because any such investigation might cause voters to wonder about their own senators and representatives, and their outside activities and income, and the extent to which they are enriching family and friends. We really do want and expect our elected representatives to be honest and responsible, because we, the taxpayers, are paying their hefty salaries.

Scott Johnson, an attorney, pointed out that the House Impeachment report which was brought by Jerrold Nadler as the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee is widely described as a 658 page document, but the report linked by NBC News runs to 298 pages which Michael Tracy of Real Clear Politics has actually read.

In his RealClearPolitics column “Democrats’ Dubious Impeachment Subtext of Treason,” Tracey extracts the leading motif of the Democrats’ case against Trump.

Based on his reading of the report, Tracey observes that “these impeachment articles were never strictly about punishing Trump for mentioning Joe Biden on a phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky. That’s the popular bite-sized depiction of Trump’s purported wrongdoing, but by the House Judiciary Committee’s own telling, the scope of their impeachment went far beyond just that one narrow allegation — and is fraught with highly ideological assumptions that have so far gone largely ignored.”

What’s it all about? We have here the continuation of the theme of the old Russia hoax wine in a new bottle: Trump has “betray[ed] the nation.”

What does this mean, exactly? The Judiciary Committee report helpfully provides a definition of the relevant terms. In a section describing what they believe constitutes “impeachable treason,” the Democratic majority writes, “At the very heart of ‘Treason’ is deliberate betrayal of the nation and its security.”

Oh Please! Tracey notes that Trump has effectively been impeached for treason, but those who drafted the report noticed that inserting the word “treason” into the text might be a little bit controversial. Instead they just insinuate it, and somewhere deep in the 658 pages, do confirm that they are charging the president with treason in supporting materials that few will ever read.

They have gone so far around the bend that they ought to be committed. Schiff kept talking about “Russia” but nobody understood why. President Trump was trying to make sure the Ukrainians were free of any Russian invasion. How they get “treason” out of that, is something only Democrats deeply infected with Trump Derangement Syndrome could come up with.

So that’s the state of affairs until tomorrow.



Impeachment, Impeachment, Russians, Russians, Russians by The Elephant's Child

The Impeachment Circus goes on — and on. What is one to make of it?  Democrats were outraged when Donald Trump became the nominee of the Republican Party. They were on a roll. They had just elected the first black man as President of the United States for a second term, and now they were going to elect the first woman president. These things, the “firsts” are very important to Democrats. They are good people, breaking down barriers, and the “firsts” prove what good people they are.— doing the right thing for the country.

Hillary was well qualified. She had been First Lady, and First Lady of Arkansas too. Then she was Secretary of State, so she was pretty much a shoo-in. But Donald Trump! They were sure that he could not possibly win. Conservatives remembered the Arkansas cattle-futures thing. And the silly lie over the plane spiraling in to avoid being shot down, when there were little girls with flowers waiting on the tarmac. And Benghazi. We knew Hillary was a compulsive liar, and that she drinks too much. Maybe not a shoo-in. But none of these things mattered to the Democrats, or at least they did not overrule the awfulness of Donald Trump. Weird hair, weird Queens accent, unthinkable. They were so sure of themselves that they were completely astounded when Trump won the election, and have been denigrating the Electoral College ever since. Elizabeth Warren just announced that she would get rid of it, first thing! Few on the Left have read the Constitution with enough understanding to know why it is there, in any case.

I think they decided on impeachment the day he was elected. They didn’t care what the grounds were to be, he just had to be gotten rid of. So that’s where we are. There is a video floating around of Adam Schiff saying Russia, Russia, Russia over and over, but I haven’t been able to find it again. It puts the whole thing in proper perspective. They have no sense of President Trump’s accomplishments. They’re not interested anyway. They don’t care about the economy. They care about power, and control. So they can make things go the right way, with the right people in charge, ensuring their continuing control, and ability to make the laws to control the other people out there — us. The Wall Street Journal today titles an article about impeachment “And Congress Shall Be King: The House claims it, and only it, can define executive privilege” Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler on Thursday summed up the case for ousting President Trump this way:

“Simply stated, impeachment is the Constitution’s final answer to a President who mistakes himself for a king.” Which brings us to the case Democrats made Friday for their second article of impeachment charging “obstruction of Congress.” This would make Congress a king.

The remarkable House claim is that Mr. Trump violated the Constitution because he dared to resist Congressional subpoenas. He cited executive privilege to direct nine “vital” Administration officials not to cooperate with the House impeachment inquiry.

“President Trump thus interposed the powers of the Presidency against the lawful subpoenas of the House of Representatives, and assumed to himself functions and judgments necessary to the exercise of the ‘sole Power of Impeachment’ vested by the Constitution in the House of Representatives,” the House declares in its impeachment resolution.

The Editorial Board’s response to that:

Shorter version: The House has the unilateral power to define executive privilege, and a President has no constitutional authority to resist. If he does resist, the House can throw him out of office.

That all sums up pretty much what is going on, without the need to listen to the painful long drawn out arguments.  The Journal added that this is contrary to the design and intention of the Constitution’s separation of powers which establishes 3 co-equal branches. Also contrary to any notion of Congress’ subpoena power and a president’s ability to protect his power and deliberate with his advisers. Also contrary to Supreme Court precedents. But I imagine we haven’t heard the last of this.

The senators had a couple of hundred pounds of Hershey’s and a bunch of Fitbits to play with to pass the time. WSJ pointed out usefully that impeachments set precedents even when they result in an acquittal as this one probably will do. The real object was to screw up the 2020 election to the extent possible. They just don’t seem all that excited by their own candidates. It should get more exciting when we get to their convention. At least the two billionaires will liven it up, though they don’t seem to have much else besides a lot of money. I don’t really get what the Russians are supposed to have done, except possibly stolen Hillary’s computer contents, whatever good that would do them.




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