American Elephants


The NYT Claims Any Investigation of the Voter Rolls Is Designed to Keep Blacks from Voting And Is Racist, Sexist and Homophobic as Well by The Elephant's Child

President Trump has appointed a Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, which is chaired by Vice President Mike Pence, Republican, co-chaired by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, Republican, and its members include two Democratic secretaries of state, Matthew Dunlap, Maine, and Bill Gardner from New Hampshire — and a Democratic judge, Alan Lamar King, to make sure that the commission is a bipartisan effort to get to the bottom of the issue. One of the principal duties of the Secretary of State is to certify candidates and election results, so the person holding the office plays a key role in determining the result of a close election.

Democrats reacted with anger, complaining that the Commission was hardly needed as our elections were fair and Donald Trump’s suggestion that they weren’t fair was just another wild and false claim from this President.

I don’t know how many remember the “Secretary of State Project” which was an interesting effort by the Democrats.

The Secretary of State Project (SoSP) was established in July w006 as an independent “527” organization devoted to helping Democrats get elected to the office of secretary of state in selected swing, or battleground states; these were states where the margin of victory in the 2004 presidential election (between George W. Bush and John Kerry) had been 120,000 votes or less. …

The idea for SoSP germinated shortly after the 2004 election, when the Project’s co-founders blamed then Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, a Republican, for presidential candidate John Kerry’s defeat. To their chagrin, Blackwell had ruled that Ohio (where George W. Bush won by a relatively slim 118,599-vote margin) would not count provisional ballots, even those submitted by properly registered voters, if they had been submitted at the wrong precincts. Though the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit ultimately upheld Blackwell’s decision, SoSP’s founding members nonetheless received Blackwell’s ruling with the same bitterness they had felt regarding former Florida (Republican) Secretary of State Katherine Harris’s handling of the infamous ballot recount in 2000, when Bush defeated Al Gore in the presidential election.

You surely didn’t think that suspicions of vote fraud were something new, did you? Back in 2000, it was the Democrats who were shouting “One man, one vote” and claiming election fraud. By 2006, they were ready to do something about it. The idea was that few people know what a state Secretary of State does, candidates for that office don’t receive a lot of funding, so some comparatively small donations of a few hundred thousand could make sure the Democrat won the office. They set  up a 527 political committee (which allows the group to accept unlimited financing) and succeeded in electing the radical, Alinsky inspired, community organizer Mark Ritchie as Minnesota secretary of state, which paved the way for the stolen election of Al Franken. By the 2010 election the group had run out of steam and become inactive.

Deroy Murdock enumerates some of the proven examples from the 2016 election. Here are a few:

—In May 2016, CBS2 Los Angeles identified 265 dead voters in southern California. Many cast ballots “year after year.”

—The Heritage Foundation’s non-exhaustive survey confirms, since 2000, at least 742 criminal vote-fraud convictions.

—North Carolina announced in April 2014 that 13,416 dead voters were registered, and 81 of them recently had voted. Among 35,750 North Carolinians also registered in other states, 765 voted in November 2012, both inside and outside the Tarheel State.

—South Carolina’s attorney general concluded in January 2012 that 953 people “were deceased at the time of their participation in recent elections.”

—The Public Interest Legal Foundation recently discovered that Virginia removed 5,556 non-citizens from its voter rolls between 2011 and last May. Among these non-Americans, 1,852 had cast a total of 7,474 illegal ballots across multiple elections. But there is no vote fraud.

What made this particularly interesting was an article on the Opinion page of The New York Times, entitled “The Voter Purges Are Coming.

The Trump administration’s election-integrity commission will have its first meeting on Wednesday to map out how the president will strip the right to vote from millions of Americans. It hasn’t gotten off to the strongest start: Its astonishing request last month that each state hand over voters’ personal data was met with bipartisan condemnation. Yet it is joined in its efforts to disenfranchise citizens by the immensely more powerful Justice Department.

The requested lists are the public lists of actual voters required to be maintained by Secretaries of State, and the implication that they are personal and private is once again “fake news.” The inquiry into whether or not actual voters are legal voters is proper and needed. Democrats, who are always involved in any vote fraud they can get away with, form sanctuary cities where the presence of illegal aliens who are not able to vote, nevertheless are counted in the census, which controls how many representatives a state has. Enough illegals present may get the state another House seat. Democrats are apt to vote in the state where they live and the state where they have a vacation home as well. College students may vote in the state where they go to school, and in their home state as well. And illegal aliens do vote, using false or stolen Social Security numbers. Any attempt to eliminate vote fraud will be met with claims that Republicans are racist, sexist, homophobes, bigots, etc. etc., who are trying to cheat honest people out of the right to vote.

Do read the NYT screed, and notice that it comes from the president and chief executive of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human rights, and who was a head of the civil rights division of the Justice Department in the Obama administration. Any attempt to clean up the voter rolls will be met with anger, accusations, ugly names, and complete denial of any possibility of voter fraud at any time and anywhere.

 



There Are Refugee Problems in the West, But Europe’s Afghan Crime Wave Is Shocking. by The Elephant's Child

One of our biggest problems, it seems, is the matter of immigration. As a nation, we conflate a wide numbers of separate issues—George Soros advocates for open borders everywhere, then there are the terms migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, exile, emigre, displaced person, and stateless person.  Can you tell the difference? In the first 3 weeks of May, we were admitting 830 people a week as refugees, but the State Department lifted the restriction on the number of refugees allowed to enter the U.S. to 1,500 each week. 

Then there are 66,000 temporary non agricultural workers admitted under the H2B program—33,000 for the first half of the fiscal year and 33,000 for the second half. An increase is being added and will be announced today. The jobs are based on employer requests. Jobs are for landscapers, lifeguards, carnival workers, factory workers, cooks, maids, and fishery workers. Most come from Mexico, Jamacia, Guatemala, South Africa and the United Kingdom. The Center for Immigration Studies says a new analysis shows the locations where jobs have been offered to guestworkers are even in areas of  high unemployment and low labor force participation, so there is some disconnect and the scrutiny for visa approval is inadequate. Some employers may be using the program as a way around the rules of other guestworker programs. These are not immigrants, but temporary workers.

The H1B program is similar, but for highly educated, highly skilled foreign workers for specialized occupations for a 3 year stay. They are also not immigrants, but temporary workers for jobs that require specialized knowledge or expertise. About half come from India, with significant numbers from China, South Korea and the Philippines. The numbers now stand at 65,o00 a year with another 20,000 for those with masters degrees. There are many complaints about American workers being replaced by cheaper foreign workers. Our illegal immigrant population includes many who have overstayed their visas.

President Trump’s “Muslim Travel Ban” doesn’t really apply to Muslims, and leftist judges keep challenging the regulation, the latest concerns whether grandparents can be considered part of the immediate family. The so-called Muslim Ban is a temporary hold so the federal government can figure out how to vet those who have applied, when no state really exists to vouch for them. But the left has become somewhat deranged at the suggestion of even a temporary ban, looking for sympathetic cases to touch at the heartstrings.

An Iranian cancer researcher traveling to Massachusetts to work at Boston Children’s Hospital was detained last Tuesday at Logan International Airport along with this wife and children before being sent back to Iran.  Outcries from the media. Immigration assured the media that it had nothing to do with the case of Dr, Mohsen Dehnavi, who holds a visiting work visa. The Trump administration order banning people from six Muslim-majority countries can be partially enforced according to the Supreme Court. His visa was valid, yet he was sent back. It seems that in Iran he was a head  of a student branch of a volunteer militia linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. Banning a jihadist is what Trump’s travel ban is all about.

Everyone claims that the number of illegal immigrants in the U.S. are about 11,000, but they have been using that number for years, and it never seems to change. There are about  4.4 million people on the immigrant wait list, who have applied and are legally waiting their turn. Here’s a graph that shows how the appeal to immigrate to the United States goes.

European countries have their own laws, but the EU has decided for the countries of Europe how many refugees each nation should accept, and under what conditions and rules. Countries like Poland and Hungary have decided they will not accept Middle Eastern refugees in spite of EU rules. The Eastern European states have had no trouble limiting or banning migrants from the Middle East, or building fences. Germany’s Angela Merkel is the one who welcomed all refugees, and most of Western Europe fell in line. Bureaucrats are always good about making up rules, it’s the people upon whom the rules are inflicted that suffer.

They welcomed the refugees with food and clothing, but have slowly come to realize that it isn’t working. The Scandinavian countries have had some of the worst problems. Denmark observed what is happening in Sweden and made an effort to not fall into the same trap. The governments try to cover up what is happening.

Dr.Cheryl Bernard was the program director of the Initiative for Middle Eastern Youth and the Alternative Strategies Initiative with the RAND Corporation. She has worked with refugees for decades. That the newcomers did not speak the local languages, might be traumatized, take some time to find their footing and have brought their ethnic, religious and sectarian conflicts with them, was not surprising but they were expected to be manageable problems.

There was one development that had not been expected, and was not tolerable: the large and growing incidence of sexual assaults committed by refugees against local women. These were not of the cultural-misunderstanding-date-rape sort, but were vicious, no-preamble attacks on random girls and women, often committed by gangs or packs of young men. At first, the incidents were downplayed or hushed up—no one wanted to provide the right wing with fodder for nationalist agitation, and the hope was that these were isolated instances caused by a small problem group of outliers.

As the incidents increased …the matter could no longer be swept under the carpet of political correctness. And with the official acknowledgment and public reporting, a weird and puzzling footnote emerged. Most of the assaults were being committed by refugees of one particular nationality: by Afghans.

Actually Afghans should not even have been part of the refugee tide, at least not in significant numbers. It was the Syrians who were expected. Afghanistan, a place of lingering and chronic conflict, is no longer on the official refugee roster—that’s reserved for acute political and military emergencies.

Dr. Bernard is deeply experienced in work with refugees from all over the Middle East, and she was shocked. Her research is impressive and thorough, and the picture that emerges is devastating. Please read the whole thing. We all need to understand what is happening.  She suggests that there are ways to deal with the refugee wave, but it’s not going to be easy and “the Left has to do a bit of hard thinking. It’s fine to be warm, fuzzy and sentimental about strangers arriving on your shore,” but we have our own values, freedom, and lifestyle to protect. And the freedom we have is worth defending.

We need to understand what is happening in Europe, which mostly doesn’t make headlines, because all too soon it may be happening here. Political Correctness rules in Europe as well as here. It is an important article, and casts a very different light on our ideas of immigration, refugees, and how we should think about them and how we should deal with them.

 



The Interesting Relationship Between Online Business and American Retail Business. by The Elephant's Child

It’s pretty clear that online business is playing hob with retail in general. Retailers are hurting as consumers turn to online sources where they can get quick service, particularly from Amazon, and not have to go trailing through a mall to try to find what they need.

A story in the Wall Street Journal today exposes an uncomfortable relationship between the federal government and Amazon. “The U.S. Postal Service delivers Amazon’s boxes well below its own costs. Like an accelerant added to a fire, this subsidy is speeding up the collapse of traditional retailers in the U.S. and providing an unfair advantage for Amazon.”

This arrangement is an underappreciated accident of history. The post office has long had a legal monopoly to deliver first-class mail, or nonurgent letters. The exclusivity comes with a universal-service obligation—to provide for all Americans at uniform price and quality. This communication service helps knit this vast country together, and it’s the why the Postal Service exists.

But people went online too, and first class mail is down some 40% from its peak. I contact many friends by email now, rather than writing a letter, and you probably do too. The post office still visits each mailbox each day, but there’s less traditional mail, so the service has filled its spare capacity by delivering more boxes. But when the post office delivers 10 letters and one box and a passel of junk mail to one mailbox how do they allocate the cost of the postal worker, the truck, and the network and systems that support the postal worker?

In 2007 the Postal Service and its regulator determined that, at a minimum, 5.5% of the agency’s fixed costs must be allocated to packages and similar products. A decade later, around 25% of its revenue comes from packages, but their share of fixed costs has not kept pace. First-class mail effectively subsidizes the national network, and the packages get a free ride. An April analysis from Citigroup estimates that if costs were fairly allocated, on average parcels would cost $1.46 more to deliver. It is as if every Amazon box comes with a dollar or two stapled to the packing slip—a gift card from Uncle Sam.

Amazon is big enough to take full advantage of “postal injection,” and that has tipped the scales in the internet giant’s favor. Select high-volume shippers are able to drop off presorted packages at the local Postal Service depot for “last mile” delivery at cut-rate prices. With high volumes and warehouses near the local depots, Amazon enjoys low rates unavailable to its competitors. My analysis of available data suggests that around two-thirds of Amazon’s domestic deliveries are made by the Postal Service. It’s as if Amazon gets a subsidized space on every mail truck.

I don’t know which stores will be gone in a few years, or if they will survive. Right now, it’s clear that retail is hurting, and some retailers are in trouble. Will our malls survive? The federal government has”had its thumb on the competitive scale for far too long.” They need to stop picking winners and losers. I believe that the country will be better off if online and retail  compete and continue to survive.

I don’t know if the retail problems cover all kinds of goods or just some. Are Home Depot and Best Buy as much affected as say, Nordstrom and J.C. Penney? I need more evidence. Amazon just bought Whole Foods, in anticipation of making a big push for the grocery business, but Amazon is planning to build stores, where everything you select is tallied up automatically on your card as you take it off the shelf. We tried Amazon’s online groceries when too sick to get to the store, and it was prompt and  good service. Someone remarked that they saved money because they weren’t tempted with impulse items online. I prefer to go to the store.

The Government is subsidizing Elon Musk as he has fun with new engineering ideas, but Tesla is running into major problems, and solar is turning out to be a flop, just as his first experiments with this big vacuum tube thing for moving people has had it’s first success in a miniature version. All very interesting, but I don’t understand why he gets government subsidies. One might assume that we got an early lesson with Solyndra.

 



Enforcing Immigration Law and the Number of Deadbeat Countries by The Elephant's Child

ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) has been working with the State Department to improve cooperation from other nations that have blocked our transfers of illegal immigrants. Their efforts have reduced the number of nations refusing to cooperate from 23 to 12. The Trump administration expects to continue to reduce the number of noncompliant countries even further.

The problem, of course, is that not only are these people illegal immigrants, but they have been convicted of a crime, and their own nation doesn’t really want them back. Sorry. That just doesn’t work.

Jessica Vaughn, ddirector of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies said:

I am confident that the number of deadbeat countries can be reduced even further – for starters, China and Hong Kong should be the focus of pressure. On the at-risk list, there is no way places like Bermuda should be stiff-arming us. Others, like Brazil, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and Pakistan, have a lot to lose if they don’t cooperate more fully. There are plenty of visa programs that could be turned off in a heartbeat if they do not improve very soon.

ICE and State have the authority to punish recalcitrant countries, but it was almost never used in past administrations. President Trump seems to understand that if people think they can come here and stay on even after being caught—it will only encourage more illegals. If we don’t want illegal aliens, we should not be hanging out a big welcome sign. Conservatives, of course, are accused by the left of being cruel and bigoted, racist, etc. for refusing to welcome illegals.

We have immigration laws, though they need updating, and we can expect them to be obeyed. We have something well over a million people on the wait list—waiting their turn to be admitted legally to become American citizens. Illegals should not be able to jump the queue. It will greatly help to discourage illegals if the rules are clear and clearly observed.



O Harvard Fair Harvard, Let The Puritans Die — They’re Not Inclusive! by The Elephant's Child

Harvard University will delete “Puritans” from alma mater song. Sheesh. Every time you think that our colleges cannot possibly get any nuttier —they do so  promptly. The Harvard University Presidential Task Force on Inclusion and Belonging (Stop and read that phrase again) is now taking submissions for a new line to replace the one referencing Puritans.

Harvard University will delete the reference to Puritans from its alma mater song, saying the word is not inclusive.
Its Presidential Task Force on Inclusion and Belonging is now taking submissions for a new line to replace the one referencing Puritans.The final verse of 181 year old  “Fair Harvard” currently reads:

Let not moss-covered Error moor thee at its side,
As the world on Truth’s current glides by;
Be the herald of Light, and the bearer of Love,
Till the stock of the Puritans die.

According to the task force, the alma mater as it stands “suggests that the commitment to truth, and to being the bearer of its light, is the special province of those of Puritan stock. This is false.”

The task force states it is looking for a more inclusive phrase that will appeal to all members of the community, “regardless of background, identity, religious affiliation, or viewpoint.”

A  professor who will be one of the judges said they are looking for more inclusion, but with “literary flair”— and maybe with new musical variants, choral, electronic, hip-hop, etc.I happened to copy down some words from Tom Sowell this morning which seem particularly appropriate:

History is what happened, not what we wish had happened, or what a theory says should have happened. History cannot be prettified in the interest of promoting “acceptance” or “mutual respect” among people and cultures. There is much in the history of every people that does not deserve respect. Whether with individuals or with groups, respect is something to be earned, not a door prize handed out to all. … If everything is respected equally, then respect has lost its meaning.

Harvard University just lost another measure of respect.

 



The Trump Agenda for Achieving 3% Economic Growth by The Elephant's Child

The overarching goal of the Trump administration is to Make America Great Again, which means promoting MAGAnomics—sustained 3% economic growth. That’s Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, writing in the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday.

For most of our nation’s modern history, a healthy American economy meant one that grew at roughly 3.5%. That was the average growth rate between the late 1940s and 2007. Since then, it has hardly topped 2%.

The difference between those two growth rates is staggering. If the American economy had grown at only 2% between the end of World War II and 2000, average household income would have been roughly $26,000 instead of $50,000.

Over the next 10 years, 3% growth instead of 2% will yield a nominal gross domestic product that is $16 trillion larger, federal government revenues $2.9 trillion greater, and wages and salaries of American workers $7 trillion higher.

What’s involved? Tax Reform: Encouraging capital investment will boost productivity. When businesses have more money to invest in plants and equipment, it means hiring more people who produce more. Lower tax rates reduce the cost of capital and thus ignite economic growth. 70% of business income goes to wages, so the benefits flow to workers as well.

Controlling unnecessary regulation: Regulations often turn out to be far more burdensome than the regulators realized, and they increase the cost of doing business. The EPA has been extravagant with overzealous environmental regulations and have pushed many businesses overseas. Realistic cost-benefit analysis helps to protect jobs as well as keeping the environment.

Welfare reform: Many people who could be working are staying home. We need them to go back to work, but the welfare system creates disincentives for those who seek work. Welfare reform will ensure that those who are truly in need of help will get it, but does not encourage people to stay home.

Smart energy strategy: Cheaper, cleaner, more abundant energy will increase investment and employment across many industries. Reliable supplies and stable prices will reduce uncertainty especially in the manufacturing sector and reduce the risks of building new plants and hiring more workers.

Fair Trade is already beginning to work. Government spending restraint is currently visible in the White House budget, and has the entire government at work figuring out how to accomplish more with less waste and more efficiency. Private investment allocates capital more efficiently than government. Rebuilding America’s infrastructure will create more jobs, but environmental restrictions and bureaucratic red tape can play hob with the best intentions.

The Founders may never have expected in their wildest dreams the enormous bureaucracy of our nation’s capitol, but they were very familiar with human nature and its flaws—and that doesn’t change. The Constitution was intended to slow things down, to require more consideration and more responsibility. MAGAnomics is intended to set the stage for the greatest revival of the economy since the early 1980s. It will remind people what a great America means.

Sounds like a good plan to me.



Ranking the States for their Fiscal Reliability by The Elephant's Child

Here in greater Seattle, following national publicity surrounding the Seattle debacle with raising the minimum wage, the Seattle City Council has determined that it would be a good idea to raise taxes on the rich.  They passed an ordinance.  It will be challenged in court, for the Washington state constitution says they can’t have an income tax, and their plan clearly defines who is rich and who is richer, and has to pay even more.

Several states have decided to raise taxes this year to cover budget shortfalls. A new study suggests that the states might find themselves in worse financial shape after the money starts rolling in. (Leftists do not understand the free market. That’s why they are Leftists.)

According to the latest ranking of states by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, the most fiscally sound states in the country are all low-tax, GOP strongholds, while the 10 least-solvent states are almost all high-tax and heavily Democratic.

The rankings in the fourth-annual “Ranking of the States by Fiscal Condition” report, which was released this morning, are based on an review of audited financial statements for 2015 covering five measures that gauge the states’ ability to pay their bills, avoid budget deficits,  meet long-term spending needs and cover pension liabilities.

Cash solvency measures a state’s ability to pay immediate bills. Budget solvency focuses on whether states will end the year with a surplus or deficit. Service-level solvency gauges a state’s ability to meet a demand for increased spending. Long-run solvency concerns a states’ ability to meet longer-term spending commitments. Trust fund solvency  examines the states’ unfunded pension liabilities and state debt.

The 25 most-solvent states are solidly Republican except for four. Of the bottom least-solvent states, all but five are solidly Democratic. The most fiscally sound states also tend to have the lowest tax burdens, according to a separate analysis by the Tax Foundation.

The Mercatus Center Analysis can be found here, along with a map which includes more separation of the states into groups. The bottom line seems to be that the more money the state government takes from taxpayers, the worse they do in handling it. That should be surprising, but it’s not.




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