American Elephants


ISIS Is Recruiting Openly in American Mosques. The FBI Has Been Forbidden To Use Religion to Monitor Them. by The Elephant's Child

The Investigative Project on Terrorism is critical to our nation’s security. There is no other non-governmental group that has better intelligence or data on the threat to the United States and our allies. Making do with a bare bones budget, the IPT is a national treasure whose influence and achievements are unparalleled.

That is from U.S. Representative Pete Hoekstra, Ranking Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. It is not an exaggeration to say that because of Democrat political correctness hamstringing our FBI agents, they could not combat the Islamists in our midst without Steven Emerson. The former head of FBI Investigations and Counter-Terrorism said “The Investigative Project has been one of the most important sources of accurate and timely information on the real goals and objectives of the widespread and powerful Islamist movement.”

Emerson said “Isis is Al Qaeda 3.0. They are already in the United States and the only reason there has not been a terror attack is that they have not decided to do it yet.”

The FBI has been handcuffed in terms of investigating religious extremists in mosques, as a result of guidelines put out by the attorney general earlier this year. And so therefore, there is… a definite problem now in investigating those militants in the United States who are either recruiting for ISIS or have returned from Syria or Iraq having fought for ISIS, and are ready to carry out freelance or directed terrorist attacks on behalf of ISIS against the United States…

the Department of Justice [which] put out guidelines that restricted the FBI and other law enforcement agencies from using religious factors in identifying threats, national security threats to the United States in the homeland.

…we’re seeing ISIS recruiting biophysicists, engineers, social media types, people who have expertise in really carrying out sophisticated terrorist attacks coming back to the United States.

Emerson says there are three to four hundred ISIS killers in Syria and Iraq with American passports, who can return whenever they want and the Obama administration has blocked the FBI from monitoring them in mosques. Obama will do nothing to revoke the passports of those who have gone to fight with ISIS, and has forbidden the FBI from using Religion to identify terror threats.  Political correctness gone amok. I hope we do not have to pay too heavy a price.



The Democrats’ Distaste for Human Nature by The Elephant's Child

Republicans, at least some of us, spend far too much time trying to figure out Democrats. We just don’t understand why they believe the things they do, when it is so obvious….
That’s how politics works. Democrats, I often call “the perpetually discontented”. They just don’t like much of anything the way it is, and want to fix it, or at least change it.  The problem is human nature. They don’t like that either.

Their distaste for human nature as it is, is clear enough. Democrats are sure that peace is the natural state of affairs, and war is an ugly outbreak that should not be permitted. We agree that war is an ugly outbreak, and think peace is much to be desired, but we don’t believe that reminding terrorists that peace is to be preferred accomplishes much. Republicans’ most basic acknowledgment is that a people who can’t always get along with members of their own families, are probably by nature fractious, and nations will have a hard time getting along as well as families.

This is why we have political correctness, and multiculturalism and controls on free speech on campus. I could go on and on, but they are trying desperately to control by regulation, law, and societal disapproval all those tendencies that they dislike so much in human nature. No more Polish jokes, you may not call Islamists Islamist. Can’t we all just get along? And if you are not cooperating, we will have a new regulation to be sure that you do. Or perhaps we’ll send a SWAT team, and confiscate your stuff, and issue huge fines to be sure you understand that you and  your actions have been condemned. No messy human nature allowed.

Polish jokes were once just thought funny, along with Irish jokes and British jokes and Russian jokes and jokes about feminists and jocks. We didn’t lose our sense of humor, we got political correctness and being called down to human resources and possibly even sentenced to ‘sensitivity’ training.  We were told it was just to be “nice,” but that isn’t true at all.

Human nature is messy. We’re nice, and we’re not. We are mean, quarrelsome, insensitive, rude, violent, stupid, ill-informed, crooked, stuck-up, vicious, lazy, honest, hard-working, and liars. If you just try to make a list of some of the qualities, good or bad, of human nature, it is astonishing how many words there are to describe the various attributes of us. Democrats will continue to try to fix us to their satisfaction. A futile task.



Overregulation Costs Manufacturers Over $2 Trillion a Year! by The Elephant's Child

American business has been telling the federal government regularly that they are overdoing the regulation, and it is damaging the economy. The federal government yawns and says uh huh. Obama’s attitude seems to be that is what business does — complain about regulation — pay no attention to them — it isn’t important.

Now the National Association of Manufacturers has stated firmly that manufacturers are the backbone of our nation’s economy and employ more than 12 million men and women who make things in this country. To maintain manufacturing momentum and encourage hiring, the United States needs government policies more in tune with the realities of global competition.  Our regulatory system produces unnecessarily costly rules, duplicative mandates, impediments to innovation and barriers to our international competitiveness.

That’s straightforward talk from Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers. So they put their money where their mouth is, and produced a new report that shows the macroeconomic impact of federal regulations.

The burden of regulation falls most heavily on small manufacturers who employ less than 50 employees— at $34,671 per employee, per year. The burden on medium size manufacturers who employ 50 to 99 employees — $18,243 per employee per year, and  for large manufacturers who employ more than 100—the cost per employee is $13,750 per employee per year. The total cost of federal regulations in 2012 was $2.028 trillion (in 2014 dollars). The annual cost burden for an average U.S. firm is $233,182 or 21 percent of the average payroll. Eighty-eight percent of those surveyed said that federal regulations are a top challenge for their firm.

Everybody has talked about “the worst recovery since World War II,” but the White House seems to have no understanding at all of why it is so slow. They have kept pumping money into the economy, giving out more benefits, and that money is supposed to circulate and multiply as it passes from hand to hand. Nancy Pelosi was quite certain that unemployment benefits paved the way to recovery all by themselves.

Democrats don’t much like manufacturing or businesses who expect to earn profits from their activity. They have always regarded profit as a bit of a dirty word, money only earned by greed. Because business is greedy, it needs a firm hand and careful regulation. That’s why they have such a hard time trying to figure out how to create more jobs (infrastructure!) and jump-starting a growing economy.

Well, it matters what kind of business it is. If it is building wind farms and making solar panels, it is good. If it’s making guitars that are hugely popular with rock stars, you had better not be using any endangered wood for the frets. Your stock will be confiscated by the SWAT team that will arrive to shut down your business. (Enter Gibson Guitars in the search function just above Bob Hope’s head in the sidebar).

The business of regulation is handed off by Congress to various agencies, and the agencies’ underlying business is to assure their own continuing employment at high government salaries — so they are careful and thorough in devising regulation and oversight of the regulation, and continued monitoring of each business involved.

That in turn means forms and paperwork and legal requirements, which means that each business has to hire an extra bunch of people to comply with the paperwork requirements. The biggest cost of regulation is the full-time equivalents hired to do the paperwork. And it is serious business. Most of the agencies now have their own SWAT teams to burst into your business and make sure that you are really complying. So it really isn’t funny when the first lady decides that restaurants should show the calorie counts of each ingredient on their establishment’s signage and menus in the interest of reducing obesity.

That’s just the regulation. The tax system for American business has increased the burden to such an extent that we have moved down to 32nd in the ranking of heaviest burden on business and loss of competitiveness.  Obama thinks he is taxing rich CEOs and greedy businesses, but it is the workers who bear the burden of high taxes. We are chasing capitol out of the country to go where it is more welcome and will be better treated. Democrats call this “tax inversion” and are trying to devise laws to keep companies from moving. (Economic Patriotism!) They could just lower the taxes, which would bring in more income)

Economies don’t grow because of nice nonprofit organizations that care about people. They grow because of hardworking businesses who turn a profit and are able to hire and grow and expand.  It’s called Capitalism, which has made America the most prosperous and innovative country in the world. Prosperity is created by free markets and free people, not by the heavy hand of government.



An Out-of-Control Agency of Zealots, Destroying Your Freedom. by The Elephant's Child

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You have undoubtedly seen this picture before. I haul it out every time I write about the EPA and the agencies’ effort to transform the words of the Clean Water Act which give the EPA authority over the “navigable waters of the United States of America.”

It is partly Congress’ fault. They have chosen to write bills in general form, and leave the intricacies to federal agencies to work out and regulate. This has led to the growth of government, the growth of agencies, the growth of unionization of federal agencies, bad regulation and bad law.

Undoubtedly the Congress didn’t know how to define “clean water” in a specific and legal way—in which case they had no business making such a law.

In 2006, a US.Supreme Court Case from Michigan produced five different opinions and no clear definition of which waterways were covered and which were not. This left the government with a clean slate on which to write it’s own interpretation —everything they wanted to regulate. They are zealots and want to control everything.

I wrote about this problem in May of 2011, when the EPA was suspending 79 surface mining permits in West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee because they could possibly violate the Clean Water Act. They revoked the coal mining permit for Arch Coal’s Spruce Mine No.1, a permit that had been in force for 4 years and obeyed in every comma and dot.  Arch Coal provides 16% of America’s coal and have invested $250 million in the operation which would have employed 215 miners and 300 support jobs.  The President has expressed his desire to bankrupt the coal industry.

I wrote about it again in  June of 2012 when they started trying to control the land alongside ditches, gullies and temporary water sources caused by rain or snowmelt by claiming that they are part of navigable waters. It doesn’t sound scary until you recognize that it would make it harder for private property owners to use their own land, in their backyards, to grow crops, raise livestock or even raise kids. The bill they had then had 64 co-sponsors, and John Barrasso (R-WY) said “It’s time to get EPA lawyers our of Americans’ backyards.”

October, 2013: “The Clean Water Act charged the agency with keeping the navigable waters of the United States clean. What Congress probably had in mind was shutting down any sewers emptying improperly and keeping boats from dumping oil and stopping the Cuyahoga River from catching fire. In many places the water naturally contains some methane. Not harmful to people, but it can catch fire.”

There was a big arsenic flap where some springs were found to contain arsenic in what were presumed to be dangerous quantities. The EPA made a nationwide regulation determining that every municipality would be required to treat their water to remove any trace of arsenic. Many communities had no arsenic in their water, but the agency demanded expensive water treatment anyway. In the case of safety for humans, many things that are poisonous in large quantities are perfectly safe in small quantities. The rule is always “the dose makes the poison.”

In 2013, they were going for a proposed rule—the “Water Body Connectivity Report” which removed the limiting word “navigable” from “navigable waters of the United States” and replaces it with “connectivity of streams and wetlands to downstream waters” Whoa! Change one word officially and expand your overreach by billions. Congress saw what they were trying to do and demanded answers. I don’t know how that one turned out, but it would seem to be this one.

A little over a week ago, the House passed legislation that would prevent the EPA from implementing a proposed rule to define its jurisdiction over bodies of water. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has said the rule does not significantly expand the agency’s existing authority. Uh huh. Republicans said the rule would go too far and subject trivial bodies of water to federal regulation.

You see how slow the legislative process is. The Bill passed the House 263-152. Vulnerable Democrats broke with their party and signed on. Before final passage the House rejected 179-240 an amendment offered by Rep. Tim Bishop (D-NY) that would prevent enactment if implementation would harm water quality. The White House issued a veto threat, saying it “would derail current efforts to clarify the scope of the Clean Water Act, hamstring future regulatory efforts, and create significant ambiguity regarding existing regulations and guidance.”

Harry Reid would be unlikely to bring the bill to a vote. You have heard much about a “Do Nothing Congress,” which is a Democrat slander. The Republican House of Representatives has passed over 297 bills, a fairly standard number for a session. The Do Nothing Democrat-led Senate has passed just 59 bills— the fewest number of any Senate session since 1972. So the next time the President claims the Republicans aren’t doing anything, which he does with some regularity — he’s just doing politics again. Harry Reid tries to avoid bringing anything to a vote that the president would have to veto.

If you attend a town hall meeting with one of your representatives, you might let them know you’re concerned. Or give them a phone call. Those probably get tallied. I suspect emails just vanish into the ether. They really don’t want to hear from you.



What If You Have A Party and Nobody Comes? by The Elephant's Child

World leaders are expected to meet as at the United Nations Climate Summit on September 21 to announce plans for reducing carbon emissions. Unfortunately, world leaders are staying home. It’s turning into a bit of an embarrassment for President Obama and UN Secretary General Bank Ki-Moon.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott can’t make it because he has a country to run. Chinese President XI Jinping and new Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have also indicated they won’t attend. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper will not be attending. And even Angela Merkel, President of very, very green Germany just can’t make it.

Well, some people do pay attention to the news. The Antarctic ice is at the greatest extent ever measured. Arctic ice is expansive and growing. There has been no warming at all, none, for seventeen years and eleven months. We’ve had snow in September in the northern Midwest and New England. The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere continues to grow—which supposedly means that world climate is getting warmer—but the climate is not getting warmer, but cooler.  So possibly the increase in the benign gas that we exhale each time we breathe, the one that is a natural fertilizer for plants, is not the cause of the 1º of warming that occurred over the last hundred years? Well, yes. Exactly.

The sun, which does have a lot to do with climate, has gone quiet, and all the vast dollars and crony capitalism that have gone into finding an alternative source of energy in solar and wind energy has been for naught? Yep.

“There is essentially zero evidence that carbon dioxide from human activities is causing catastrophic climate change:” Australian geologist Dr. Bob Carter.

Climatologist Dr. Judith Curry warns of decades of possible global cooling: Suggests the “current cool phase will continue until the 2030s.”

Leonardo DiCaprio: “How we respond to the climate crisis in the coming years will likely determine the fate of humanity and our planet.”

Nancy  Pelosi: “Republicans winning the Senate would be the end of civilization.”

Activist green groups are drumming up a way to use the federal courts to force Americans to drastically reduce their energy consumption whether or not Obama signs a new climate change treaty in Paris next year.

The EPA plans to propose and finalize regulations establishing first-ever carbon dioxide (CO²) regulations for jet aircraft.

The Obama administration is reading the Clean Air Act to require a climate policy never intended or approved by Congress, and intends to negotiate an international agreement that would not survive a Senate vote on ratification.

Green organizations are planning a big climate march in conjunction with the UN Climate meeting. They are concerned about “climate justice” which seems to have nothing to do with climate (which they can’t affect anyway) and everything to do  with ‘justice” which seems to be about putting the people in charge, destroying large corporations, and redistributing income. They are particularly interested in the particular large corporations who extract energy from Mother Earth and use it to power civilization, but that is secondary to “justice.”

Emails obtained through Freedom of Information Act show that Obama’s EPA is in collusion with “green” lobby groups — the report details the conflicts of interest, “unalterably closed minds,” internal activism and influence of outside interest groups on the Obama Administration EPA. Documents raise questions about the legality of EPA rules.

The EPA also wants to garnish your wages if they accuse you of something, without any court order. How do they get that power? They just announce that they have it. That is apparently the way that some 30 government agencies have granted themselves the power to garnish your wages.  There are more problems with big government that we ever knew.



Treasury Will Pull Out All The Stops to Enforce Economic Patriotism! by The Elephant's Child

The Treasury Department could act as early as next week to stop companies from moving their headquarters out of the United States for tax purposes. “Economic Patriotism.” Where is these companies’ economic patriotism? Representative Sander Levin, ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over tax issues warned that “They’re preparing to act and they’ll act as soon they are ready.”

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew told Levin on Wednesday that he would not necessarily wait for Congress to go home before he would take unilateral action.  Wonder where he learned that trick?

With his brother Senator Carl Levin, (D-MI) Sander Levin has written legislation to” tighten the rules restricting so-called tax inversions, which are tax maneuvers in which U.S. businesses buy a company in a low-tax country to move their headquarters there.”

It’s the Burger King deal with Tim Horton’s Coffee Shops, and the move of their corporate headquarters to Canada, where total tax costs will be 46.4 percent lower, that has driven Democrats to start writing more confiscatory laws immediately. Burger King will continue to pay taxes on business done in the United States.

The Obama administration and Congressional Democrats have raised the alarm over possible consequences to the U.S. tax base.  Republicans  have been suggesting for some time that they should lower or eliminate the corporate tax, because the U.S. corporate tax is not only the highest in the industrial world, but the U.S. also taxes income earned abroad —which no other country does.

There is a long history going back to Martin Van Buren, of administrations that helped an economy to recover from a recession by cutting taxes. Cutting taxes allows companies more confidence in the future, and they are more apt to grow, expand, and hire — creating a better business climate— which in turn grows the economy.  Canada’s corporate tax was 43 percent in 2000, and is 26 percent today, and their economy is booming.

Democrats are fundamentally unable to grasp the idea that cutting taxes could  produce more income and make the economy grow. It simply does not compute. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew trained as a lawyer, but has simply moved through the corridors of government as a bureaucrat in one office or another. He got all huffy about the Burger King move, in a video at Bloomberg, mentioning all the advantages the U.S. provides —roads and bridges (you didn’t build that) and infrastructure!

So far as I can tell only 9 companies have actually done a tax inversion. A number have started to and backed out after being threatened.

Speaker John Boehner and Senate Finance Committee ranking member Orrin Hatch have warned that any Treasury measure that would be effective would likely lie beyond Lew’s authority.



The Boston Marathon Bombing Was Not an Act of Terrorism by The Elephant's Child

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As long as we’re talking about the careful parsing of language, according to the Boston Globe,“the Boston Marathon bombing attacks were not an “act of terrorism,” the U.S. Treasury Department has ruled, which conveniently means terrorism insurance claims need not be paid out in full.”

In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, Congress passed the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, which created federally backed insurance in cases of damage due to terrorism. Some Boston businesses were among those that bought the insurance.

Those purchases became relevant after the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15, 2013. Of the 160 companies located near the marathon’s finish line that submitted insurance claims, just 14 percent had purchased terrorism insurance, Insurance Journal reported.

And of course Major Hassan’s massacre of his fellow service-members is still designated “workplace violence,” without the slightest acknowledgment of reality. But then that simply deprives the wounded of medical care and purple hearts, and the recognition that they were wounded in the line of duty. They probably don’t particularly care about the medal, but the benefits matter.




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