American Elephants

Red Tape Is Far More Than Annoying — It Has a More Sinister Purpose by The Elephant's Child

In a previous post, I linked to an essay by Myron Magnet from City Journal titled “Why are Voters So Angry,” and I added my usual “Do read the whole thing,” but most of you didn’t (I can tell because WordPress tells me how many clicked on each link). So I’m posting another  link and urging you to read the whole essay once again.

The problem is the Administrative State. Socialists, who abound on the Left, have given up on the government’s owning the means of production (and thereby enriching themselves). They have realized that they don’t have to own America’s businesses, they can just control them with government regulation. And their control is far advanced, and nobody seems to recognize just what is happening.

Myron Magnet starts at the beginning and explains just how we have lost control of our government and what we need to do about it. Most adults not part of the Loony Left recognize that socialism is not a good form of government, and ends up as Venezuela, Cuba or Stalinist Russia, in hunger and poverty and desperation. Most adults excludes, of course the Bernie-worshiping Millennials who don’t know about Venezuelans starving and dying without medicine, and just think he’s kind of cute with his great shock of white hair.

But if we cease to enshrine American exceptionalism at the heart of our culture—if we set equal value on such Third World cultural tendencies as passive resignation, fatalism, superstition, devaluation of learning, resentment of imaginary plots by the powerful, and a belief that gratification deferred is gratification forgone—the exceptionalism of our institutions becomes all the more precarious.

Supercharging American anger over illegal immigration and its consequences is the politically correct ban on openly discussing it, with even the most reasoned reservation dismissed as racism and yahooism. And political correctness generates its own quantum of anger among citizens, who think of freedom of speech and debate as central to American exceptionalism. But elite culture stigmatizes plain speaking, so that now a rapist or a murderer is a “person who committed a crime” or an “individual who was incarcerated,” says the Obama Department of Justice, or, according to the latest humbug from the Department of Education, a “justice-involved individual.” Implicit in these euphemisms is the theory that “society,” not the criminal, is to blame for crime, a long-exploded idea aimed at blurring the distinction between right and wrong.

Well, there you go. That’s what I have just been going on about. Here we are in a mortal battle for the future of our country with candidates we hardly would have chosen as our champions. Hillary has essentially promised to continue Obama’s current drift into catastrophe, if only we will allow her to be America’s first woman something or other, and Donald Trump who has recognized the anger and frustration and answered it  with a burst of pure populism.

Jobs are created by the private sector, which makes the economy grow. Jobs created by the federal government just mean another cost to the taxpayers for agencies that cannot fulfill the task assigned to the agency. I’m not sure I can find an agency without a scandal attached. They are paid 78% more than their counterparts in the private sector, and there isn’t really enough work for them to do. The average federal employee earns about $119,000 annually, including salary and benefits, compared to $67,000 for the private sector. And they are receiving that generous compensation for plastering the private sector with so many regulations and so much red tape that the private sector cannot provide the engine of free market capitalism at which they have been so successful.

Read Myron Magnet’s essay on the Administrative State, and pass it on to family and friends. It is important that people realize what is happening to our country. Unfortunately the Left’s big ideas don’t work in the long term, or did you think that those quaint old cars in the Castro’s Cuba were there as theater for the tourists?


The American Idea, Honored and Celebrated. by The Elephant's Child

Here’s Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) speaking at CPAC 2016, on March 3 2016 talking about classical conservatism, and how you rank the order between American, Conservative, and Republican. Good speech and real food  for thought.

The American Melting-Pot is Broken! by The Elephant's Child

There are two stories going on in the news concurrently that are related. One is the Boston Marathon bombing, and the other is the attempt to pass a new immigration law in Congress.

The American melting-pot is broken. We have traditionally had an outstanding assimilation process for new immigrants that develops them into citizens, and it is broken. Traditionally, our new immigrants, upon completion of the citizenship process and taking the oath of citizenship — became proud Americans, more patriotic and more knowledgeable about American history and the U.S. Constitution than most of the rest of us. Unlike immigrants to many European countries who had no possibility of ever becoming ‘real citizens’, in America there is no difference between a Mayflower descendant and the latest immigrant.  That is no longer working.

In his book Plagues of the Mind, Bruce Thornton tackles the problem of false knowledge. “We are subsumed in the ideology of “Multiculturalism”, the dominant narrative used by popular culture and many intellectuals alike to explain our historical moment and public moral goals:”

Despite what we are led to believe by its apologists, Multiculturalism is not about respecting cultural differences or the diversity of ethnic groups in America. Multiculturalism is instead a melodramatic tale of the wickedness of the West and its role in destroying the peaceful paradises in which other peoples (usually “of color”) lived before Europeans and then Americans came along to inflict on them racism, sexism, slavery, colonialism, imperialism, homophobia, technology, and environmental degradation.

Multiculturalism, the ideology — the false knowledge of the left — sees little in Western heritage beyond Western crimes.  The Western tradition, “American exceptionalism” is inherently racist, sexist, classist, hegemonic, repressive, and oppressive.  It has spread not through any innate quality of the American culture, but simply through the spread of Western power. Of what importance then is patriotism, reverence for tradition, pride in heritage and history?

The high-tech media multiplies the mischief that false knowledge can work, even more insidiously because we are a democracy.  Jean-Francois Revel has written:

democracy cannot thrive without a certain diet of truth. It cannot survive if the degree of truth in current circulation falls below a minim al level. A democratic regime, founded on the free determination of important choices made by a majority, condemns itself to death if most of the citizens who have to choose between various options make their decisions in ignorance of reality, blinded by passions or misled by fleeting impressions.

We  have two ethnic Chechen brothers, one a naturalized citizen, the other a permanent resident. For whatever reason, America’s patriotic assimilation system didn’t work for them, and that fact is important.

The Hudson Institute has released a new study by  John Fonte, examining the differences between  native-born American citizens and naturalized citizens. •By a 21 percentage point difference native-born citizens are more likely than immigrant citizens to view America as “better” than other nations. •Native born citizens are significantly more likely to think that Americans share a unique national history based on shared beliefs, values and culture. •Native born citizens think of themselves as American citizens rather than “citizens of the world, by about 30 points •Thirty percent more Native-born Americans believe the U.S. Constitution is a higher legal authority for Americans than international law. There is much more in the study.

The Study concludes that there can be no comprehensive immigration reform without comprehensive assimilation reform. We cannot determine immigration policy unless we seriously examine what our assimilation policy should be.

Why is there a patriotic gap between native-born and naturalized citizens? Undoubtedly there are many different reasons. One in particular, however, strikes us as responsible, at least partially, for this gap. Since the 1970s American elites have altered our “de-facto assimilation policy” from Americanization (or patriotic integration) to a multiculturalism that emphasizes ethnic group consciousness at the expense of American common culture.

In short, we have sent immigrants the wrong message on assimilation. It is our fault, not theirs that this gap exists.

Administrative-legal barriers to patriotic assimilation have developed gradually through a combination of federal bureaucratic policies, congressional activities, executive orders and court decisions. There’s the root cause of the patriotic integration gap. It’s time to stop giggling at how stupid political correctness and multiculturalism are, and start understanding that it is seriously damaging propaganda.

America the Unexceptional: That’s Not Working Either. by The Elephant's Child

Bret Stephens who addresses foreign affairs for the Opinion page at the Wall Street Journal’s column today carries the headline “Barack Obama, Global Has-Been.” Ouch. The thrust of Mr. Stephens’ argument is that Barack Obama has confused popularity with respect.  He would rather be liked than feared. He wants America to be simply one among many nations, not exceptional, not special. And he has said just that.

But Mr. Obama confuses the meaning that Americans have of “exceptionalism.” Oh, sure, in contests, Americans will proudly annoy everyone else by shouting “USA, USA, USA”. People who come to this country for the first time are amazed by the flags flying everywhere, at private homes, and yes, at car dealers. We think we’re exceptional because we love our country and we want everyone else t know it. That doesn’t mean that others don’t love their country — no comparison is intended — simply that we do.

For Mr. Obama,…his core foreign policy concept —that global popularity generates global power — has failed. No U.S. president since John F.Kennedy has come to office with more global goodwill than Mr. Obama; no US. president since Jimmy Carter has been so widely rebuked.

Consider the record. His failed personal effort to bring the 2016 Olympics to Chicago. His failed personal effort to negotiate a climate-change deal at Copenhagen in 2009. His failed efforts to strike a nuclear deal with Iran that year and this year. His failed effort to improve America’s public standing in the Muslim world with the now-forgotten Cairo speech. His failed reset with Russia. His failed effort to strong-arm Israel into a permanent settlement freeze. His failed (if half-hearted) effort to maintain a residual U.S. military force in Iraq. His failed efforts to cut deals with the Taliban and reach out to North Korea. His failed effort to win over China and Russia for even a symbolic U.N. condemnation of Syria’s Bashar Assad. His failed efforts to intercede in Europe’s economic crisis. (“Herr Obama should above all deal with the reduction of the American deficit” was the free advice German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble offered this year.) …

That isn’t to say that Mr. Obama hasn’t had his successes. The Libya intervention was a triumph, albeit of an odd sort since it was carried out in such a reluctant, last-minute, half-embarrassed fashion. Killing Osama bin Laden and dramatically expanding the number of drone strikes will forever be to the president’s credit—even if his administration’s tawdry efforts to publicize them for political gain will forever diminish the achievement.

Mr. Stephens adds that he tends “to think that the buzz about American decline mistakes the mediocrity of the president for the destiny of the nation.”

To be absolutely fair, here is Roger Cohen, a columnist for the New York Times: He says:

Well, four years have passed and Obama has adroitly steered the bankrupted United States he inherited away from the precipice but has not provided a “different future” worthy of the hope invested in him; and that imagined team of rivals became a team, or rather a coterie, of idolizers.

There is only one star in the galaxy at this White House and his name is Barack Obama. Everyone in the Sun King’s court has drunk the Kool-Aid. …

To his immense credit he took a big gamble on killing Osama Bin Laden. But elsewhere he has been cautious to a fault, eyeing the political calendar. He held out a hand to Iran but promptly reverted to tired old carrots and sticks; his response to the great popular uprising of 2009 was slow. He took half-steps on Israel and Palestine — criticizing Israeli settlements, saying the pre-1967 lines were the basis for a two-state peace — only to offer zero follow-through. Nothing changed.

On Egypt, he toyed with preserving Mubarak ad interim before the tide became irreversible. On Syria, he has in essence dithered. On Afghanistan, domestic politics dictated the agenda, at a cost in American lives.

Mr. Cohen is a liberal, and I left out the part where  he talks about the “superb job” Hillary Clinton has done, but you can read it for yourself.  Mr. Cohen’s point seems to be that Liberals will just have to hold their noses and vote for Obama anyway.

I believe that Mr. Obama is running against the American grain. He arrived with flowery words promising really good things, and has delivered disappointment. He thought he had everybody lined up behind him, but he didn’t pay attention to see if the people were following. They weren’t.

President Barack Obama: The Most Perfect Human Disposition or The Presence of Malice? by The Elephant's Child

Barack Obama is the most puzzling of presidents. He has, as Richard Epstein remarked, the most perfect human disposition — complete self-control. He reveals almost nothing of himself. We are confronted with his words, soothing, flowery, in a pleasing baritone voice, and his actions which have nothing whatsoever to do with the words. We are left with questions, millions of questions. Why is he doing this? But I thought he said —? What does this mean? Doesn’t he understand—?

I have a folder of OPP (Other People’s Posts) and the headlines indicate the puzzle: “How Smart is Obama?” “Obama’s Nixonian Enemies List On Steroids,””Obama, Explained,” “The Most Polarizing President Ever,” “The Chosen One,” “Barack Obama’s Faux Populism,” “This White House Thinks That It’s Above the Rules,” “Obama is An Awful Economic Historian,” “Obama’s Godfather Speech,” “Obama vs. Capitalism.” Well, at least I’m not alone in wondering. I am, perhaps, a little more partisan than usual since we went to our Washington State caucus yesterday — big turnout. And I’m still pondering the loss of Andrew Breitbart, and wondering if his brave combat will spur usually non-combative Republicans into action.

Here are two posts that are especially thoughtful and carefully reasoned. The first is “How Obama Makes Decisions” by Ed Lasky, from American Thinker, which ought to scare the pants off you, and strikes me as probably completely accurate.( I knew there had to be some logical reason for all those Czars). The second is “Presence of Malice: Against the Conservative Portrait of the President,” by Gerard Vanderleun at American Digest. Read them both, they are real food for thought, and they don’t necessarily agree with each other. Vanderleun takes on the president’s foray into Libya, which he now cites as a great accomplishment. Which suggests that perhaps you should also read John Hinderaker’s “Springtime for Hitler” and watch the videos posted there.

We Believe That America is Exceptional. Tell Us Why You Do. by The Elephant's Child

If our stalwart presidential candidates could pause in attacking each other long enough to talk about just why this is such an important election, and what they hope to do about it, I suspect we would all appreciate it.

When Barack Obama spoke during the campaign about hope and change, not enough people paid attention to his record as the most liberal senator in the Capitol. We were dazzled by footwork, and halos that appeared about the candidate’s head, presidential seals and promises to bring peace and non-partisanship to Washington DC.

Liberals are puzzled by our continuing affection for Ronald Reagan, whom they detested.  Ronald Reagan from 1975 to 1979 made more than 1,000 daily radio broadcasts, two-thirds of which he wrote himself.  They covered all sorts of topics from labor policy to the nature of communism, from World War II to the second Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty, from the future of Africa and East Asia to that of the United States and the world. *

Richard Mitchell, whom I quote often, said in The Graves of Academe:

Thinking is done in language, and understanding, a result of thinking, is expressed in language, but, when we simply adopt and recite what has been expressed, we have committed neither thinking or understanding.

It’s not easy to get your ideas down on paper. The radio broadcasts were roughly 400-500 words long, and about every subject ranging from Cuba, to Peace, Human Rights, Intelligence and the Media, Rhodesia, SALT Talks, Arms Control. In these thousand broadcasts, Reagan said succinctly what he thought about a vast array of subjects. And it’s why he could explain so clearly to Mr. Gorbachev just what he had in mind.

Richard Mitchell also said that the business of writing is to stay put on the page so that you can go back and look at the words and see where you have been stupid. Writing is a special case of language that allows you to get it right.

If our candidates had thought a little more deeply about just why America is so important, maybe we wouldn’t have an incumbent who believes that America is not exceptional.

Herbert Meyer, assistant to the director of the CIA during the Reagan administration, wrote at American Thinker “Why, Precisely, is America so Great?”

“The one thing that President Obama and all the GOP contenders for is job agree about is that America is the greatest country in the world. They all use this line in ever speech they make, and it always brings the  crowd cheering to its feet.  But none of these politicians ever quite gets around to explaining precisely why we’re the world’s greatest country.  That’s too bad, because it’s a serious question that deserves a serious answer — right now, before Republicans choose their candidate and before the voters make their choice in November.”

He goes on to point out that politics is the relationship between the individual and the State, the relationship that we have been struggling to get right for thousands of years. Our Constitution established a relationship between the individual and the State that was unique in history.  The individual was in charge, the State would serve the individual, and there would be an arms’ length distance between the two. It is this unique relationship that made all the difference.

If you think of this relationship as a kind of operating system — like the operating systems that drive our computers and our cell phones — you can see how it’s been steadily modified and upgraded throughout our history.  In this sense, each new law enacted by Congress has been an effort to improve the operating system.  At times in our history, for instance during President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration, the changes have been so substantial that it’s less like an upgrade and more like a wholly new version of the operating system that’s been installed.  But never in our history have we replaced the original operating system — that extraordinary, uniquely American relationship between the individual and the State — upon which our country was founded.

Until now.

Do read the whole essay, it’s worth your while.

*See Reagan In His Own Hand.

The Mystery of Barack Obama. by The Elephant's Child

I don’t know that we have ever had a president who is as much of a mystery as Barack Obama. Because he reveals so little of his thoughts or opinions, observers must guess at his motivation.  And the guesses are not always flattering. Some are outrageous, and some are just way out.  Is he a Marxist? Is he proud of this country? Is he smart? Is he a socialist? Is he deliberately trying to bring the country down? Is he a radical leftist?  Is he a pragmatic centrist? I have seen all of these speculations and more.

I think that Obama was unprepared to be president.  He simply did not have the experience needed for the office. He was ranked as one of the farthest left of Democratic Senators. He had no experience in business nor in the free market. He had no executive experience at all, and the office of the presidency was bound to be difficult for him.

Mr. Obama apparently decided that he “could play in this league” on the basis of his enthusiastically received speech to the 2004 Democrat Convention, and has attached particular significance to his ability to sway audiences with his rhetoric.  He didn’t like being a senator all that much, and began running for the presidency before he had finished his first term.

Shelby Steele’s analysis of Obama’s opposition to the idea of American exceptionalism is clarifying:

Yet there is something more than inexperience or lack of character that defines this presidency: Mr. Obama came of age in a bubble of post-’60s liberalism that conditioned him to be an adversary of American exceptionalism.  In this liberalism America’s exceptional status in the world follows from a bargain with the devil — an indulgence in militarism, racism, sexism, corporate greed, and environmental disregard as the means to a broad economic, military, and even cultural supremacy in the world.  And therefore America’s greatness is as much the fruit of evil as of a devotion to freedom.

I have found a segment of Uncommon Knowledge with Richard Epstein helpful in attempting to understand Mr. Obama.  Richard A. Epstein is the James Parker Hall Distinguished Service Professor of Law at the University of Chicago, where he has taught since 1972, and where he was a colleague of Mr. Obama.

Over at Forbes magazine, Paul Roderick Gregory explains “Why Obama Can’t Support A Real Jobs Program.” “A real jobs program attacks too many of the core beliefs of his party, such as minimum wages and higher taxes on the better off.”

I have serious disagreements with President Obama on policy. I don’t believe that he is trying to bring the country down, but fix it, according to his lights. Jonah Goldberg suggests that he is “Seduced by the Cult of Experts” and has too much faith in predictions.

Fouad Ajami, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, finds Barack  Obama to be a pessimist; his lack of faith in American exceptionalism has dashed any hope of a transformational presidency.  The man who ran on a platform of hope and change has no belief in political freedom nor interest in bringing about emancipation of peoples subjected to brutal tyrannies.

And for the Left, Jonathan Chait, a senior editor at the New Republic, writes in the New York Times about “What the Left Doesn’t Understand about Obama.” It’s a good summary of where the Left is right now, and their quarrels with Obama.

These are all serious writers,  offering serious explanations of President Obama’s actions, as they see it.  No wild-eyed crazies foaming at the mouth here, but thoughtful pieces. Will they be helpful?  You decide.

The Accomplishments of the 111th Congress. by The Elephant's Child

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid sent out a press-release last week headlined “111th Congress Accomplishments.”  The superlatives of media cheerleaders were quoted and the legislative triumphs of the session were listed in capital letters, 30 of them:  Health Care Reform, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the HIRE Act (jobs package), the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the Food Safety Act,  the Travel Promotion Act, Student Loan Reform, Hate Crimes Prevention and 22 more wondrous accomplishments.

The loss of 53 House seats and 6 Senate seats was not mentioned, nor was the Gallup poll with an approval rate for Congress of 13 percent, the lowest in the history of Gallup polling.  Other headlines referred to 2010 as a Disaster.  Are our politicians and media so far apart that they have no understanding at all of each other? Yes, they are.

There is a trap in the Beltway, the center of power in America, and many who arrive there are apt to fall into the trap. They start to believe that their desire to make the world a better place, the noble cause that sent them on the campaign trail, supersedes the principles under which our government is supposed to operate.

Our government was carefully designed by the founders who considered everything they had learned about governments and the foibles of men.  They designed it with three separate and distinct branches of government, each with their own responsibilities, as a system of checks and balances.  They divided the Congress into two parts; the House of Representatives to represent the people, and the Senate to represent the States as a whole.  They expected arguments and fights, disagreement and dishonesty.  They recognized human nature.

One often hears the claim that there is no difference between the parties.  Others are angered by the disagreements.  Why can’t they get along!   They forget human nature: imperfect, quarrelsome, weak, thoughtless, and occasionally stupid.  Sometimes politicians mean well, and sometimes they are just angling for power.

You cannot expect perfection.  They are politicians, and have some extra gene for ego which sent them on the campaign trail in the first place.  And what could be more ego-enhancing than to work in the White House or the Capitol Building.  They have arrived.

The people (us) have also read the Constitution to which they swear allegiance.  There is a reason why the Tea Parties have made such a big deal of the very first words — “We the people.” We like to remind them that they work for us, they are our servants.  They don’t believe it for an instant.

There are the true believers to whom social justice is the only righteous path; the progressives who believe in a welfare state with a human face; the middle-of-the-roaders, who want some well-regulated capitalism with a healthy safety net; the free-market folks; and the far right — well, you know, religion, guns and the rich.

The Democrats fell fully into the trap.  Their desire to impose their ideas on the country despite the wishes of the electorate was fully exposed.  The voters were finally able to see the unvarnished liberal agenda.  Promises of new jobs resulted in a 9,8% unemployment rate. Promises of “stimulus” for a depressed economy ended up with increased debt and an admission that there weren’t any “shovel-ready” projects.  The goal has not been to respond to public opinion.  The goal has been to impose “social justice,” whatever that is, and a comfortable welfare state whether the public likes it or not.

Not in America.  There are a lot of Americans who still believe that this is an exceptional country.

Grab a Rake, and Get Those Leaves Raked Up! by The Elephant's Child
November 9, 2010, 7:04 am
Filed under: Environment, Freedom, Fun n Games, Sports | Tags: , ,

(h/t: Borderline Sociopathic Blog for Boys)

Some Very Smart Words From a Pollster: by The Elephant's Child

I’m tired of polls, and I bet you are too.  (That doesn’t mean that I’m not going to read any more).  But Scott Rasmussen of Rasmussen Reports had some smart things to say in a piece in the Wall Street Journal this morning.  He said:

Voters today want hope and change every bit as much as in 2008.  But most have come to recognize that if we have to rely on politicians for the change, there is no hope.  At the same time, Americans instinctively understand that if we can unleash the collective wisdom and entrepreneurial spirit of the American people, there are no limits to what we can accomplish.

In this environment, it would be wise for all Republicans to remember that their team didn’t win, the other team lost.  Heading into 2012, voters remain ready to vote against the party in power unless they are given a reason not to do so.

Elected politicians also should leave their ideological baggage behind because voters don’t want to be governed from the left, the right, or even the center.  They want someone in Washington who understands that the American people want to govern themselves. (emphasis added)

Here’s Why We Like Marco Rubio So Much: by The Elephant's Child

(h/t: National Review)

Why Newspapers Are Failing — Continuing Evidence by The Elephant's Child

The news that the Obama administration is redefining the mission of NASA from an interest in, um, space — to Muslim outreach —would seem to be news, wouldn’t it?  Byron York notes in the Washington Examiner that:

Total words about the NASA Muslim outreach program in the New York Times: 0.

Total words about the NASA Muslim outreach program in the Washington Post: 0.

Total words about the NASA Muslim outreach program on NBC Nightly News: 0.

Total words about the NASA Muslim outreach program on ABC World News: 0.

Total words about the NASA Muslim outreach program on CBS Evening News: 0.

I understand that not everyone is a news junkie, but it would seem to me that this dubious redefinition of the space agency’s mission to feature outreach to Muslim countries to make them feel better about their ancient contributions to science and mathematics might rate more space in the news pages, or before the camera, than Lindsay Lohan’s being sent to jail.  Is Lindsay Lohan famous for something besides being drunk and in trouble with the law?

Paul Mirengoff at Power Line is a little indignant as well:

A lot of people out there haven’t heard of “American exceptionalism,” or, if they have, aren’t too sure of what it means. But they have a good intuition for it: It is, among other things, but quite importantly, the excitement and pride they felt when America did something the human race had wanted to do since it looked up at the night sky. Space exploration took on added luster for our generation because it was so in keeping with the natural optimism, bravado and energy of our youth.

Under Obama, NASA has ended plans to go back to the moon, or go to Mars (something also underreported). Budgets are tight, you know. Time to hunker down and lower our sights. But we can do Muslim outreach.

This is a window on the kind of thinking Obama does. Were it widely known, it would be devastating: We will put away what has made the country a beacon, and act like the small, repentant ex-bully Obama takes us to be. Thus the rockets get mothballed as The Great Satan starts to make amends by printing comic books celebrating Arab contributions to trigonometry 4000 years ago, or whatever it was.

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