American Elephants


The Eternal Battle Between Left and Right. by The Elephant's Child

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Trying to succinctly describe the differences between the American Left and the American Right is a long-running and fascinating  game for both parties. Liberals, as I often note, have told us specifically that they do not have principles—meaning they are not stuck with some old-fashioned, worn-out principles as a guide to how to behave. That is not intended as a compliment. They react, they say, to events, responding on a case by case basis. Much more noble.

Republicans do have principles which they believe are time-tested and proven to be effective and useful in human life. Things like equality of opportunity, free markets and free people, and small government. Those principles serve as a guide to actions, and research into how things work are a better guide to satisfactory policies.

Liberals react to things emotionally. For example, a UPI piece from Pew Research on the “Global Attitudes Project”poll says:

A new poll offers details on the way citizens of the world think about climate change, and U.S. participants are looking particularly ignorant to the risks of global warming. Only one in four Americans said climate change was a “major threat,” making the U.S. the least concerned nation. (emphasis added)

If we disagree with the “consensus” we must be ignorant. But nobody checks to see if there actually is a “consensus” among scientists. Emotional response.  No, there actually is no consensus.  And “consensus” isn’t science.

Here’s another from Investors, today: “For the Left, ‘Children’ Are the Battering Ram to Force Amnesty.”

Immigration: The White House and open-borders lobby have stepped up pressure for amnesty by painting the migrant tsunami as a flood of toddlers. But a Pew study, citing Border Patrol data, shows that more than half the entrants are teenage males.  (emphasis added)

Here’s another example from Investors, by Robert Samuelson: Although a man of the Left, he suggests “To Keep corporations Here, Why Not Cut Their Taxes?”

Corporate America’s latest public-relations disaster comes under the banner “tax inversion,” where a U.S. company shifts its legal headquarters to a country with a lower tax rate.

He goes on to show how Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and President Obama have charged the corporations as lacking in “economic patriotism.” Emotional response. Make a law against them. Keep them from doing so. Far better would be to reduce the corporate tax to something close to the normal corporate tax among industrialized nations. We do have the highest corporate tax in the world. Their first and only response is to prevent corporations from what is a valid business decision.

ObamaCare was a program built on emotion. Liberals thought that we should offer everyone free health care like European states did. Everyone would be so grateful to Liberals for that gift that they would forever vote Liberals into power. They looked at Britain’s way of controlling expense by limiting the costs of old folks in their final years, and loved it. No old geezer should be able to have a hugely expensive operation when they might have only months to live anyway. But they never looked into the way the program really worked in Britain, or Canada, or France or Germany. Their bright ideas don’t work. What were expected to be money savers aren’t. Tom Sowell stated the whole problem simply and clearly:

It is amazing that people who think we cannot afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, and medication somehow think that we can afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, medication and a government bureaucracy to administer it.

They imposed ideas they thought would save money, or be especially popular, or would give them more control, but they didn’t check how those ideas work in the real world, they just rushed it through on pure emotion and are astounded at the complaints from doctors, patients, insurance companies, hospitals and suppliers. And it’s all falling apart.

Wind and solar energy are emotional responses to perceived evils of fossil fuels. Wind and solar energy are presumed to be free because they are “natural.” But a turbine only turns at the right speed to produce energy when the wind is at the right speed. But the wind is intermittent, and requires 24/7 backup from a conventional power source, which makes the energy produced expensive, and slight. And it kills way too many birds. Eagles may become endangered  if the kill rate continues. If subsidies are removed, wind is not worthwhile.

Solar is about the same problem. You only get energy with 24/7 backup, because clouds cause problems. Solar energy is too diffuse, unavailable at night, and in some locations simply fries birds in flight. If subsidies are removed, it’s not worthwhile. These things were known before the big investments in wind and solar, but emotional attachment to “free energy” trumped common sense.

Over and over you will find Liberals responding to or devising policy based on their feelings about the subject. They don’t do their homework, and they don’t think through the unintended consequences. They don’t seem to understand incentives.

Republicans don’t always get their policies right, and unintended consequences come back and bite them. Human beings are complicated and not only don’t agree on everything, but often don’t agree on much. There are lots of differing opinions in the big tent we hope to have, and creating successful policies to help Americans and their allies and enemies to do things that turn out well is not easy, and results are not always a success. But if we work with an open mind and an inclusive attitude, and an appreciation for human folly, we might not do too badly if we do our homework.



The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee is Unsustainable! by The Elephant's Child

The 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC), in hot pursuit of telling everyone what to do and what to eat, has held its fourth meeting and is devoting a session to “sustainability,” (of course) which will be taken into account for nutrition standards that are used to create policy at the federal level.

Isn’t it interesting that they have to revise the standards every year, because they were wrong? Those things that they thought were good have been determined to be bad, and nutritionists now have new ideas, which will probably turn out to be incorrect as well. Is there any use for that diagram, whether in a pyramid or plate form, beyond giving the government rules which no one follows, except some school lunch programs.

sus•tain•able: able to be used without being completely used up or destroyed.
involving methods that do not completely use up or destroy natural resources.
able to last or continue for a long time.
[sustainable is currently in the top 1% of lookups and is the 158th most popular word on Merriam-Webster.com]

Sustainable is an environmentalist buzz-word intended to make you fear that we are using up our resources and if you don’t stop we’re all going to die.

To make us sustainable the USDA has hired an environmental food activist—one Angela Tagtow— to lead the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, which oversees DGAC. The DGAC’ Friday meeting included a presentation by the work group leader Miriam Nelson for “Environmental Determinants of Food, Diet, and Health,

Consistent evidence indicates that, in general, a dietary pattern that is lower in animal-based foods and higher in plant-based foods has a lesser environmental impact and at the same time is more health-promoting than the current American diet.

Promoting more sustainable diets will contribute to food security for present and future generations by conserving resources. This approach should be encouraged across all food sectors.

Nelson said there is “remarkable consistency” in research that vegetarian-like diets are better for the planet. The presentation focused on “sustainability outcomes” for the food system, which take into account “environment footprint,” including greenhouse gas emissions, energy use, and biodiversity (emphasis added)

The committee was enthusiastic about the hiring of Tagtow, who they called a “good food” activist who advocates for social justice in the food system and an “ecological approach to nutrition.” They consider Tagtow a cheerleader for sustainability. The goal is to push sustainability, not to push healthy eating.

Good grief. I think the left has gone completely insane. “Social justice in the food system?” If you want to do something for the food system, stop wasting taxpayer money on putting food crops into our gas tanks. The federal government does not need a committee to draw up nutrition guidelines. They are usually wrong anyway or they wouldn’t need revising every year. There are departments of nutrition, college majors in nutrition and huge aisles in every bookstore devoted to food — should we care to seek advice on what to eat for a healthy diet, there in no lack anywhere of plentiful information, including your public library. Honest, we can handle it without your advice. Butt out.



Dave Allen, on “Children” by The Elephant's Child

An EPA Power Grab for Your Property Rights! by The Elephant's Child

The headline read “EPA pulls back from plan to garnish paychecks.” That particular plan was announced quietly an a Friday right before the 4th of July, the way agencies do when they want no one to notice. But I spotted it and wrote about it on the 8th. This administration has so many agencies and departments overstepping the bounds that it’s hard to pick a worst, but the EPA is right at the top of the list, for sheer crookedness.

The Washington Times reported last Wednesday that:

The Environmental Protection Agency bowed to fierce criticism Wednesday and announced that it had hit the brakes on a fast-tracked plan to collect fines by garnishing paychecks of accused polluters.

I was so pleased that I got up and did a little dance around my computer. But then I read the following paragraph:

The agency, which has come under withering attacks from Republican lawmakers for attempting a “power grab,” said it still intended to pursue the new authority to garnish wages without a court order. But now it will follow a more typical and longer review process.           

Opponents of the wage-garnish rule applauded EPA’s decision. But the EPA vowed to press on with its plan to snatch fines directly out of Americans’ paychecks.   (emphasis added)

Senator David Vitter (R-LA) ranking Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee who had battled the proposed rule said, “It’s about time this abuse-prone agency listened to Congress and backtrack on a rule that was clearly an egregious power grab to garnish private citizen’s wages.” Doesn’t sound like they are listening.

This rule (published as close to secrecy as a federal agency can manage) was issued on July 2 in a notice in the Federal Register as a “direct final rule” that would automatically take effect on September 2 unless the EPA received adverse public comment by August 1.

The only improvement seems to be that since they received  comments, they have extended the comment period until September 2. They claim they are required to participate in Treasury’s debt-collection program — the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 (one of Bill Clinton’s) to garnish wages.

What or who gives them the authority to levy fines of, in the case of Wyoming welder Andy Johnson for building a pond on his property, $75,000 a day. That’s up from the fine they imposed on the Sacketts for their supposed “wetland” on a standard residential lot overlooking Priest Lake in Idaho, which was $37,500 a day and they said the Sacketts could contest their action legally. The Supreme Court slapped down the EPA for that one, and made sure the Sacketts got their day in court.

It apparently was revealed in a remark by an EPA official back in 2012. He said:

I was in a meeting once and I gave an analogy to my staff…the Romans used to conquer little villages in the Mediterranean.  They’d go into a little Turkish town somewhere, they’d find the first five guys they saw and they would crucify them. And then you know that town was really easy to manage for the next few years.

Ans so you make examples of people who are in this case not compliant with the law. Find people who are not compliant with the law, and you hit them as hard as you can and you make examples out of them, and there is a deterrent effect there.

And companies that are smart see that they don’t want to play that game and they decide at that point that it’s time to clean up.

And, that won’t happen unless you have somebody out there making examples of people. So you go out, you look at an industry, you find people violating the law, you go aggressively after them. And we do have some pretty effective enforcement tools. Compliance can get very high, very, very quickly.

That’s apparently what those enormous fines are supposed to be about— making the accused so terrified that they will comply immediately and sow terror in the heart of anyone else messing with air, water, soil or plants and animals in any way, though they’ve gone after people for picking up arrowheads as well.

The public lands do not, in my opinion, belong to — the government — but to the people, and we allow the government to manage it for us. Property rights are one of the most fundamental bastions of liberty. When a federal agency tramples all over American citizens’ property rights, it’s time to sit up and take notice.



The Strange Ways of Hamas Militants by The Elephant's Child

Thomas Lifson at American Thinker has a brief column demonstrating an amazing run of bad luck. Pictures from Israel show that the same family that was killed in Syria by Bashar Assad, was unfortunately also killed by IDF bombing in Gaza just a few days ago.
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The Hamas Interior Ministry has released guidelines for how activists should describe Palestinian war casualties. Some excerpts translated by Memri read:

Any one killed or martyred is to be called a civilian from Gaza or  Palestine, before we talk about his status in jihad or his military rank. Don’t forget to always add “innocent civilian” or “innocent citizen” in your description of those killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza.

Begin [your reports of] news or resistance actions with the phrase “In response to the cruel Israeli attack” and conclude with the phrase “This any people have been martyred since Israel launched its aggression against Gaza.” Be sure to always perpetuate the principle of “the role of the occupation is attack, and we in Palestine are fulfilling [the role of] the reaction”

Avoid entering into a political argument with a Westerner aimed at convincing him that the Holocaust is a lie and deceit; instead, equate it with Israel’s crimes against Palestinian civilians.

Hamas has a long track record of using mosques, as well as schools and hospitals for storage of its rockets and weapons. They are quite effective at propaganda, and many seem to buy the idea that Israel is the evil country. The use of language is carefully constructed: “refugee camps,” “occupied territories.” Israel is probably the only country in the world that warns civilians in advance to evacuate an area where a bomb in going to strike a Hamas rocket storage site. Hamas brags of 16.000 rockets ready to strike Israel. As Benjamin Netanyahu said:

The difference between us is simple. We develop defensive systems in order to protect our civilians and they use their civilians to protect their missiles.

“The strong Israeli response is focused on eliminating the rocket-launching sites, military facilities in genera, Hamas militants, and the underground tunnels on the Egyptian border that have been used to smuggle arms.” There are limits to Israeli willingness to live under constant rocket attack. Israel agreed to the Egyptian cease fire. Hamas rejected it.

The current operation is intended to destroy the tunnels from Gaza into Israel, used by Hamas to attack and murder civilians. Finding them all is difficult and destroying them even more so.

The current operation, which is both meant to neutralize the tunnel threat and serve as leverage during the search for a ceasefire formula, should take, from a technical perspective, two weeks, officers said.



Jihad in Britain, and In The Other Nations of the West by The Elephant's Child

I don’t know if you know Janet Daley. She was born in America, graduated from U.C. Berkeley, and has been living and reporting in Britain for many years. Her column in today’s Telegraph is notable for her outlook on the Islamization of Britain. Elsewhere there is a column noting that France is not a safe place for Jews. We have been warned that without some serious and real change, Europe will be entirely Muslim within fifty years.

In the midst of the deeply unfunny news coverage of the two young British jihadi volunteers who were arrested on terror charges when they arrived back from Syria, there was one moment of comic absurdity. It seems that before setting off on their mission, Mohammed Ahmed and Yusuf Sarwar found it necessary to place orders with Amazon for those invaluable scholarly treatises, Islam for Dummies, The Koran for Dummies and Arabic for Dummies. Hilarity aside, there is something important to be noted here.

First, these 22-year-olds were obviously not the products of some extreme mosque which had drilled them in Islamist fundamentalism. In fact, they were so untutored in the religion to which they were nominally affiliated that they had to equip themselves with a crash course in its basic principles. Nor had they come from families which were inclined to endorse their terrorist fantasies. Indeed, their own parents were so horrified when they learned of the men’s activities that they turned them in to the police. So we need to ask, as a matter of urgency, where it came from, this bizarre determination to be inducted into a campaign of seditious murder that (we can assume from their decision to plead guilty to the terror charges) they fully intended to bring home with them. What causes young men to risk their own lives, and those of who knows how many others, for a cause about which they know so little that they have to mug it up before they catch the plane?

Do read the whole thing. There’s a lot of food for thought there that includes our own present border crisis.  Assimilation matters. She adds:

Contrary to all the educational shibboleths of our time, young men are motivated by aggression and power: their dreams are of glorious triumph over rivals. If they are denied these things – even in the ritualised forms that used to be provided by an education system that understood how dangerous male adolescence was – then they will seek them wherever they can be found. Gang violence, with its criminal initiation rites, or Muslim fanaticism can fill a void, offering not just a licence for brutality but for banding together into hostile tribes. There was a time – before characteristically male behaviour was devalued in favour of the female virtues of empathy and conciliation – when these proclivities were dealt with quite effectively by combative team sports and military cadet corps. Institutionalised aggression was supervised by adult authority until the young men grew up and became responsible for their own impulses.



The Limits to Tolerance: by The Elephant's Child

Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeated a line that he used in the prepared statement he read at his Friday news conference on Fox News Sunday this morning. It warrants repetition. Israel and Hamas conduct in the current hostilities can be explained:

The difference between us is simple. We develop defensive systems against missiles in order to protect our civilians and they use their civilians to protect their missiles.

Here’s a brief cell phone video of “Summer Vacation In Israel” It conveys a sense of what it is like to live under constant threat of rocket attack, with only seconds to get to shelter.

 



The Aussies Are Having Border Problems Too. by The Elephant's Child

We are not alone. The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) is now picking on Australia for not inviting uninvited immigrants to stick around. After an assessment at sea, 41 Sri Lankans were rejected by the border patrol and handed over to the Sri Lankan authorities.

I always find it fascinating that our friends in Russia can take the most severe actions and nobody criticizes, but when one of the world’s freest nations dares to insist that their borders mean something and that  you need permission to enter, all hell breaks loose.

Australians welcome immigrants as we do. But there is a legal way to do it. You go to an embassy and tell them you want to immigrate. It may take some time, but you will be welcome when the time comes. We just don’t have room for all the people in the world who want to live in a free country. We cannot handle all the claim jumpers currently bidding for our compassion. The U.N. should butt out.



Carly Fiorina Takes on “The War on Women” Straight on! by The Elephant's Child

“A lot of women, me included, are sick of the ‘war on women.’”said Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard and the California Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2012. And she quickly deconstructed the War on Women in 51 seconds flat!

A lot of women, me included, are sick of the ‘war on women,’” the former Hewlett-Packard CEO and California Republican candidate for U.S. Senate. “And we saw it in spades on Monday after the Hobby Lobby case. The women of Hobby Lobby had access to contraception through their company insurance plan before Obamacare; they have access to contraception — 16 forms of it — after the ruling. But somehow, you know, this is the long arm of business and the Republican Party reaching into the body of women. It’s ridiculous.”

Fiorina then pulled out a fortune she said she’d received recently in a fortune cookie.

“‘Strong and bitter words indicate a weak cause,’” Fiorina read. “And that’s exactly right. The War On Women is shameless, baseless propaganda. There’s no fact to it. But it’s worked because it’s scared women to death. Enough.”



Another Big Power Grab From The Rogue EPA! by The Elephant's Child

Right before the July 4th weekend, when nobody was paying attention, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it has added a new regulatory weapon to its arsenal.

In a Federal Register notice on July 2, (you always check the Federal Register right before a 3-day weekend, don’t you?) the EPA stated that by the authority of the Debt Collection Improvement Act (DCIA) of 1996 it had issued a proposed rule that “will allow the EPA to garnish non-Federal wages to collect delinquent non-tax debts owed the United States without first obtaining a court order.” According to the Treasury Department, under DCIA, such debts include “unpaid loans, overpayments or duplicate payments made to federal salary or benefit payment recipients, misused grant funds, and fines, penalties or fees assessed by federal agencies.

The EPA explains that, “Prior to the enactment of the DCIA, Federal agencies were required to obtain a court judgment before garnishing non-Federal wages. Section 31001(o) of the DCIA preempts State laws that prohibit wage garnishment or otherwise govern wage garnishment procedures.” It’s worth repeating just part of the list of debts for which wages may be garnished under the DCIA: “fines, penalties or fees assessed by federal agencies.”The EPA rule also states that, “we view this as a noncontroversial action and anticipate no adverse comment.” Consequently, the rule continues, “This direct final rule is effective September 2, 2014 without further notice unless EPA receives adverse comments by August 1, 2014.” (emphasis added)

Andy Johnson is a local welder in Unita County, Wyoming. The EPA has issued an “administrative order” that he destroy a pond he painstakingly built on his own property or face $75,000 a day, for violating the Clean Water Act.  This is the same amount that the EPA was threatening the Sacketts with, after they declared the lot where the Sacketts were building their home between two lots that already had homes, a wetland. The EPA claimed the couple could not even challenge their ruling, they just had to pay it. That one went to the Supreme Court where the Sacketts won a unanimous decision.

Mr. Johnson’s pond is not polluted, wildlife enjoy it, it is on Mr. Johnson’s own property and he even sought regulatory approval from the state for his private effort to improve the environment. But he did not get a permit from the Corps of Engineers, and thus finds himself under the heavy thumb of the EPA. The EPA claims jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act which gives the EPA jurisdiction over the navigable waters of the United States. This is where it gets remarkably dicey. Mr. Johnson’s stock pond (there are exemptions for stock ponds) takes water from Six Mile Creek, a perennial tributary of the Blacks Fork River, which is a tributary of the Green River “which is and was at all relevant times a navigable, interstate water of the United States.” The fact that waters from Six Mile Creek might eventually flow into the Green River, does not make Six Mile Creek navigable waters. The EPA has been anxious to claim jurisdiction under that law back to every stream, rivulet, and trickle that eventually flows into their navigable waters. Your downspouts may be next, if they get away with this.

The EPA has ordered Mr. Johnson to submit within 30 days a plan prepared by a consultant that asses the impact and provides a restoration plan and a schedule that requires all restoration work to be completed within 60 days of the plan’s approval.Three Senators have fired off a letter to the EPA, and as the EPA gave Mr. Johnson only ten calendar days to respond to their compliance order, suggested that the EPA respond to them within a similar timeline.

The EPA said that if it receives no adverse comments by August 1. the direct final rule will go into effect. Which would give them free rein to go after whoever they choose and garnish their wages without a court ruling — which in a free society should be unthinkable. This rogue agency has been slapped down by the courts over and over, but keeps seeking more power. I am only partially kidding about your downspouts. I would suggest that you submit an adverse comment.  These power grabs need to be stopped in their infancy. Here’s a model from the Heritage Foundation.



Lies My President Told Me; by The Elephant's Child

And that’s just some of the more obvious ones. Mr. Obama always uses a teleprompter because he likes to be in control of the situation. But why does he believe that it doesn’t matter what he says — everyone will believe him?  No they won’t. The president has worn out whatever trust they once may have had.



Seventy Six Reasons For American Exceptionalism! by The Elephant's Child

Buzz Feed Has a marvelous list of “76 Reasons Why America is The Greatest Country In the World,” is not to be missed: Here’s a sample

5. WE’RE THE BEST AT TROLLING OTHER COUNTRIES

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“I baked this cake for my co-workers on Canada Day”

 

16. ROAD LEGAL

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Extra special full on patriotism for our 238th Fourth of July!
Great good Humor!




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