American Elephants


Here’s Why You Should Object To “Presidents’ Day” by The Elephant's Child

Today is officially President’s Day, in lieu of having to celebrate a birthday for each of the presidents, which is just silly. The people were delighted to have another 3-day weekend, and the unions could offer that to the people from whom they demand dues as a gift from them, or something like that. I’m an anti-President’s Day crank, and firmly believe that we should celebrate only Washington and Lincoln’s birthdays, unless someone turns out to be spectacular in some way, which is unlikely.

We’ve had a few very good presidents, and a lot of mediocre ones and a few really unfortunate ones. Presidents are merely normal human beings with ordinary human failings, who somewhere along the line got the bug to run for the presidency. Some, once infected, never get over it, like Harold Stassen and Hillary.

Today, as a few have reminded us, is a day that should live in infamy. It’s the seventy-sixth anniversary of the day Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066  in February, 1942, which rounded up about 120,000 American immigrants and American citizens of Japanese ancestry and sent them off to internment camps.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, people were afraid of an attack on the West Coast. Many regarded the Japanese-American population of California as a threat. They were forcibly removed to ten “internment” camps. Most lost their homes and businesses. Immigration from Japan had been banned since 1924, and all Japanese immigrants were ineligible for citizenship.

Some people of German or Italian ancestry were also detained or interred, but most were already American citizens. Some were removed from coastal security areas, but authorities soon decided that Italians were not a problem. President Reagan made a public apology with the signing of the Civil Liberties Act of 1998 which spoke to Japanese Americans and members of the Aleut community. President George H.W. Bush pledg   es to “take a clear stand for justice and recognize that injustices were done to Japanese Americans during World War II.

Some people writing about this today have attempted to make a parallel with President Trump’s exclusion of refugees from Islamic states where terrorism is supported with the Japanese American internment, which is silly, by not surprising in the current atmosphere. The Left is currently in favor of open borders because new immigrants are inclined to vote for Democrats, because they favor more government assistance.  The Left’s  only interest is in power, more voters and a larger body-count for the next census in 2020 so they can dispose of the Electoral College.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt is usually judged by academic historians to be one of our greatest presidents, presumably because he was president during World War II, and we won. He made a mess of the Depression with constant tinkering and it was far longer and more damaging than it would have been otherwise. And then there was Yalta.

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Why Is Infrastructure Always “Crumbling?” by The Elephant's Child

President Donald Trump announced a $1 trillion infrastructure plan at the State of the Union speech on  January 30. But he had earlier revealed a price tag of $1.7 trillion at a meeting with about a hundred mayors of major American cities. The mayors were excited. Mr. Trump said he wanted all of the projects funded by his plan to be “on time and under budget.”

My question was “what is infrastructure?” Are we talking about the power grid? Concern about EMP attacks? The interstate highways? Airports? The president was complaining about our airports back during the campaign. What infrastructure is the responsibility of the federal government and what is the responsibility of the states or those cities? When thinking about “infrastructure” do people think beyond their own familiar potholes?

Why does it always come with the modifier “crumbling”? We have all sorts of big projects going on all over the country to improve transportation, or other things one would probably identify as “infrastructure”— California has a big high speed rail to nowhere that just keeps costing more and more and going nowhere, that nobody seems to want except Jerry Brown.

We have Light Rail here that nobody wants and seems to be a massive boondoggle. It is building across a floating bridge, and nobody seems to know if that will work. They have added what we call “Lexus Lanes” to the freeways where you have to pay a hefty sum to use them and that has screwed up traffic in the rest of the lanes. Our traffic is nothing to write home about. (Better they should have given trucks and buses their own lane.) In DC I think I read that freeway tolls are over $40  for a single trip. No wonder they are back to talking about flying cars.

Obama was going to accomplish great things with his infrastructure project, but he ran into the “shovel ready” problem, and he simply did not know or understand the problems with permitting and environmental regulations, how long they took and how involved they were. The  Transcontinental Railroad took railroad companies six years to lay 1,907 miles of track, tunneling through mountains at one foot a day, building bridges, all mostly by hand.

California’s bullet train is still slowly building and the new deadline is 2025 for high speed rail from San Francisco to San Diego. The old deadline was 2018, but the first leg will only run from  Madera to Shafter, a small town north of Bakersfield. This was the most “shovel ready”stretch when the Obama administration was passing out stimulus funds. The original plan was for 800 miles of high-speed rail up and running by 2020. It will be only very slightly faster than an airline flight if its ever finished. The project’s lead just announced another $2.9 billion increase in costs for the first 119-mile stretch, mostly for land acquisition. Voters approved the project back when it was estimated to cost $40 billion, and a one-way ticket from San Francisco to LA  was expected to be $55. The most recent estimate is $64 Billion and they are talking about routing it through Silicon Valley for obvious reasons.

Elon Musk is still messing around with his hyperloop project, with some success with his models. His greatest expertise seems to be his ability to get governments to subsidize his ideas. Across the country, many cities are engaged in big transportation projects, and I don’t have an impression of many successes.

I went to Google to see what I could find about Obama’s stimulus,  the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). In general, Democrats thought it was a great success, but were a little thin on explanations of what it accomplished. Since I’m a right-leaning crank, I consulted the Hoover Institution and John B. Taylor and John F. Cogan explained that “more than $1 trillion in federal-deficit spending did little or nothing to help the economy, because it was used to pay down debts and reduce borrowing.”

At Fox News, John R. Lott said that “the states hardest hit received the least money. States with higher bankruptcy, foreclosure and unemployment rates got less money. And lower-income states also received less. It looks like Democrats ended up helping their supporters, including unions and many very wealthy supporters.”

It’s easy to get politicians all enthusiastic about big projects that can crown their term with achievement. Think about Eisenhower’s transcontinental highways, or Hoover Dam. It’s very tempting. Obama’s high speed rail fantasy has led to Jerry Brown’s train to nowhere and apparently to the deadly derailment we just had down by Tacoma. It involved a new stretch of track that bypassed an existing rail line. The train was doing 80 mph when it hit a curve engineered for speeds of 30 mph.

“My high-speed rail proposal will lead to innovations that change the way we travel in America,” Obama boldly proclaimed at the time.

Washington state, however, eagerly took the stimulus money and promised to use it to speed up service between Portland and Seattle on Amtrak’s Cascade line.

One of the big projects — which consumed $187 million — went to build a 14.5 mile high-speed bypass between the cities of DuPont and Tacoma.

The stimulus was advertised as financing “shovel ready” projects, but work on the bypass did not begin until 2013, 5 years after the end of the recession.

President Trump is probably better prepared than most presidents to deal with big construction projects. He understands the hazards and the hubris, and knows what is involved. I’m willing to be convinced.



Tucker Carlson Interviews Adam Schiff’s Sidekick, Eric Swalwell by The Elephant's Child

We expected the Democrats to push back on the release of the memos, because the memos basically look very bad for the Democrats. This, is something much larger and more insidious. Tucker Carlson interviews Eric Swalwell who is Adam Schiff’s sidekick. They are terrified, and losing control.  Attack, attack, attack. No matter that it makes no sense to attack when you are seemingly guilty as hell, so they must be even more terrified at what they know is coming.  Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Watch the beginning of this video again and listen to Nancy Pelosi. It’s like they got caught with their hands in the piggy bank, and they are sure we are going to find out that they’ve been taking all our savings out of the bank, and working to condemn our house for their own use. The thing about watching someone get defensive when they know they’re wrong, is that they re so clumsy about it. Tucker is “damaging national security, hurting the country, and refusing to acknowledge that the rule of law has been run over.”



Here is the Memo, as Published by The Elephant's Child

There are six pages, in Scribed, and you can enlarge or print it out.  It begins with the Presidential permission to post what were classified records for Congress. The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence has voted on party lines to make it public.

https://www.scribd.com/document/370599126/fisa-memo#from_embed



Who Owns These Memos? It’s Not Who You Have Been Told. by The Elephant's Child

I’ll try to get into the Intelligence Committee’s memo released today, but  I thought I’d start with this post from The Hill, by Sharyl Attkison, to put you in the correct frame of mind.

There’s an important but little-noticed subtext in the revelations about alleged FBI misconduct in the investigations into Hillary Clinton’s email practices and Donald Trump’s Russia associations.

It’s the light they shine on what has come to be routine obstruction of public records laws by federal officials.

The records that federal agencies generate while in our employ aren’t owned by faceless bureaucrats or political officials who can choose to withhold or disclose at their discretion and convenience. The records are owned by us: the public.

That includes the text messages.



How Do We Know And What Don’t We Know? by The Elephant's Child

How do we know stuff? We were told by our parents or another relative. We learned it in school. We read it in a book. Then it gets even more iffy. We read it in the newspaper. We read it online. Someone sent it to us in an email. A friend who seems smart said so. We read it in a newspaper headline while we were waiting for the bus, or over the shoulder of the guy sitting next to us. Twitter? Facebook? We researched it on Wikipedia. We read the news online (From whom?) Uh huh.

We have to decide what websites online are reliable. On what basis do we decide? How do we decide what books are authoritative? Just because someone printed it and put it between hard covers? Or because the book cost a lot?

Democrats are particularly upset that the economy seems to be responding favorably to President Trump’s actions. Big companies are giving their workers $1,000 bonuses. Both Nancy Pelosi and Debbie Wasserman Schultz have sneered at that—called it “crumbs.” And said that after taxes it wouldn’t be all that much. Not all workers manage to make as much as members of Congress, who get pretty hefty salaries. For a lot of families, an extra $1,000 is a pretty big deal. Sneering is not cool.

Democrats also believe that tax cuts for business is just giving money to the rich (nobody ever said they were consistent) and it doesn’t do any good for the economy, and the climb in the stock market is just a bubble which will break shortly and bring on a terrible recession. And besides, the improvement in the marketplace was really brought on by Obama’s planning and deeds. Uh huh.

How do we know how the economy is doing? Just because the stocks go up?   No,  we depend on the market itself to tell us about buyers and sellers. When a product doesn’t sell, the  seller has to figure out why. When a store does not sell enough, that needs to be figured out as well, and that is why Toys  Are Us  and Sears are closing stores. We hear every day about “Studies say” and “the polls say” but we have to study who was doing the studies and who was doing the polls and just who they were polling and what they asked.

None of us have enough time, but it helps just to be suspicious. If you are paying enough attention to that which you do not know, you can fix the ones that really matter., and if you know that you don’t know, that’s better than thinking that you do—when you don’t.

President Trump went off to Davos, leaving behind the impression that he may be amenable to offering citizenship to the Dreamers. That’s 1.8 million. Really? Senator Schumer  trotted off to MSNBC to be interviewed by Rachel Maddow. He argued that the “hard right” has always opposed immigration. That “Donald Trump ran on an anti-immigration platform,” and “the Tea Party’s—one of their fundamental values is anti-immigrant, which is horrible, disgusting, but that’s who they are.” But not one of those statements is true. I don’t know anyone that is “anti-immigrant” though I’m sure there are some out there. Republicans are pro-immigrant, but distinguish between legal and illegal immigrants. And have a preference for the former. We don’t play language games by calling them “Dreamers” nor do we refer to them as “undocumented citizens” as ABC did recently.

Representative Adam Schiff, Chairman (as Liz Shield says) of the House Leak Everything Committee appeared on CNN to explain that the House could not release the FISA Memo because the American people were just too dumb to understand the, um, intricacies of the thing.

The presidents we choose are only ordinary people with all the flaws that ordinary people have. It’s a big job and we hope they hire good brains and good managers and good strategists to help. Most of them make mistakes, often big ones, and hopefully when they’re done, they go back to being private citizens instead of making mischief for their successor.

The basic problem is that we have only the past to guide us. The future, no matter how hard we try to read it, remains a mystery until we get there. As the old song goes “What will be will be, the future’s not ours to see.” Doesn’t hurt to study up though.



What Part of “Illegal” Do You Not Understand? by The Elephant's Child

The Governor of Washington State, Jay Inslee, just had a hissy fit when he learned that the state’s Department of Licensing was cooperating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).  He quickly put up his own wall to block any future cooperation and protect those who are in this country illegally.

In Washington state, getting a driver’s license does not require American citizenship, but the state did record where applicants were born. The Department of Licensing was treating ICE exactly like every other law enforcement agency, providing collected information only when given a name and a specific crime being investigated.

“We have stopped releasing information relative to immigration violations, and from here forward we’re going to require a court order to do such,” said Krista Carlson, a Washington state Department of Licensing spokeswoman.

Inslee has also hired Michelle Gonzalez as a special assistant. Her job is to make sure no state agency gives ICE any information that is not specifically required by law. She’ll also comb through state records to determine if agencies are currently collecting immigration information they should not.

Some Republican lawmakers are angry. State Senator Curtis King said “This is like trying to make this a sanctuary state.” Not allowing federal agencies to go after those who are committing crimes in this state amounts to that.

Thomas Homan, acting director of ICE said that such policies may be violating federal laws against harboring illegal aliens.

“The governor is exposing Washington state to litigation, because he is picking and choosing which law enforcement agencies he is going to give information to,” said Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies. “He doesn’t get to do that.”

An ICE official tells Fox News its licensing inquiries are not blanket fishing expeditions, but rather part of targeted criminal investigations going after individuals who pose a national security risk or public safety threat.




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