American Elephants

Do You Remember One of the Worst Supreme Court Decisions Ever? by The Elephant's Child
November 10, 2009, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Economy, Law, The Constitution | Tags: , ,

Do you remember Kelo v. City of New London? It involved the constitutional question of eminent domain, which has traditionally allowed governments to condemn privately owned land only for a public purpose such as a needed bridge or a freeway, a use that serves all the people.

The Supreme Court’s 2005 decision stands as one of the worst in recent years, handing local governments the option to seize private property in the name of “economic development.”

Suzette Kelo’s little pink house in New London, Conn. was seized by private developers for a project including a hotel and offices intended to enhance Pfizer Inc.’s nearby corporate facility and New London’s tax base.

In the late 1990s, politicians in New London were desperate to fix up their aging and ailing town. The city set up a private, non-profit entity  which set about making a plan for a new New London.

The centerpiece would be a massive research and development facility which Pfizer needed, and they were right across the river in Groton. The politicians picked a 24 acre lot and sold it to Pfizer for $10, and added on some special tax breaks, including cleanup of the lot.

Sweet deal, but Pfizer wanted it sweetened a little more.  The old Victorian houses in the Fort Trumbull neighborhood next door were not what Pfizer envisioned.  They thought a high-rise hotel and luxury condominiums would be just the thing.

The development corporation, empowered with eminent domain by the city, condemned the homes of anyone who wouldn’t sell at its appraised value.  Suzette Kelo and others sued to block the condemnation, and fought it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

There the five justices ruled  in favor  of the developers.  America was shocked.  The Court cited the development plan’s “comprehensive character” and the politicians “thorough deliberation.” And besides, it would improve the tax base and attract needed jobs. The city and the state spent around $78 million to bulldoze the homes.

But the development never happened. Pfizer merged with Wyeth, decided to close its research and development offices, and move back across the river with some 1400 jobs.  The property remains vacant, overgrown with weeds and rubble.  No jobs, no business. And Kelo remains one of the most reviled decisions of the Supreme Court in years.

In the face of the outcry, many states have taken action to strengthen eminent domain. But Kelo must be repealed.

King County Washington Passes a “Sanctuary County” Regulation for Illegals. by The Elephant's Child
November 10, 2009, 3:31 am
Filed under: Economy, Law, Liberalism, Progressivism | Tags: , ,

The King County Washington, (Seattle) County Council on this day declared that King County would henceforth  be a Sanctuary County for illegal immigrants.

Newly elected, SEIU sponsored, King County Executive Dow Constantine will replace Ron Sims who has gone back to Washington D.C. as President Obama’s Deputy Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.  The Sanctuary vote will be one of Mr. Constantine’s last as a council member, and as a major liberal, his vote was the deciding one.

The Sanctuary designation makes it illegal for county employees to inquire about immigration status of people with whom they come in contact.  Word is apparently out in the illegal community that King County has rolled out the welcome mat for social services, benefits and welfare. Mr. Constantine has been particularly interested in cutting down on the prison population.

Coincidentally, King County’s budget is deeply in the hole, and unemployment is rising, but I’m sure that is just a coincidence.  Boeing is moving to South Carolina.

Does it occur to anyone that encouraging illegal immigrants to come to Seattle will — increase unemployment for King County residents?  Employment of illegals has never been a matter of, as is much quoted “jobs Americans won’t do”.  They take jobs that Americans would be happy to do, and do it for less. Liberals just don’t get “consequences.”

Liberal do-goodism is going to do us all in.

Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down This Wall! by The Elephant's Child
November 10, 2009, 2:15 am
Filed under: Europe, Freedom, History, Politics | Tags: , ,

Germany today celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall, the reunification of East and West Germany that resulted, and the collapse of Communism.  It was a big day for the Germans, and they have been celebrating for some time.  The leaders of all the Western Democracies were there.

The United States sent a delegation headed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  President Obama did not attend.  He sent a video of himself, noting that Jack Kennedy once spoke at the Brandenburg Gate, and that he, Obama,  was the first African-American President of the United States. Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Pope John-Paul, Helmut Kohl and all the people who had a real part in bringing the wall down, were not mentioned.

Power Line has printed an excerpt from Peter Robinson’s memoir How Ronald Reagan Changed My Life.  Robinson was the speechwriter assigned to write the Brandenburg Gate address and the excerpt is an account of how the speech came about.

The usual liberal pieces have appeared on schedule today, noting all the world’s walls.  The Israeli wall, the wall between the U.S. and Mexico — supposedly comparable. What they never seem to grasp are the differences.  The Berlin Wall was constructed to keep the German people in East Germany in. It was a prison wall, tall— with barbed wire, watch towers, floodlights armed guards and machine guns — to keep desperate citizens from escaping to freedom.

And the idea that communism killed over 100 million of their own people has been conveniently assigned to the memory hole.

No Memorials to Freedom Allowed Here! by The Elephant's Child

Students belonging to Young Americans for Liberty at Washington University in St. Louis hosted a rally to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall today, on the campus lawn.

The students set up a gulag complete with prisoners, guards and barbed wire on the Washington University campus. They constructed a memorial to the victims of socialism as a reminder of the horrors of socialism and in memory of its victims. Junior Dirk Doebler, student leader of Young Americans for Liberty said:

We’re hoping to elevate the thinking of students about the connection between socialism, tyranny, and murder.  Too often we tend to think about state control in the abstract.  This event is an opportunity to show the student body what socialism really is.  We’re just 20 years away from the collapse of the Soviet Union’s despotic enslavement of hundreds of millions of people, yet everyone seems to forget that socialism killed over 150,000,000 people in the 20th century.

So, naturally, the University shut it down.

(h/t: Gateway Pundit)

And What Is the Future of the American Automobile Industry? by The Elephant's Child
November 10, 2009, 12:55 am
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Progressivism | Tags: , , ,

peel-p50-1This picture is here because it makes me laugh.  I don’t know what those things are. We once called them Pelosimobiles. From Greg Pollowitz writing in Planet Gore at NRO:

Fox News reports:

Chrysler has disbanded a team of engineers dedicated to rushing a range of electric vehicles to showrooms and dropped ambitious sales targets for battery-powered cars set as it was sliding toward bankruptcy and seeking government aid.

The move by Fiat SpA marks a major reversal for Chrysler, which had used its electric car program as part of the case for a $12.5 billion federal aid package.

As late as August, Chrysler took $70 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop a test fleet of 220 hybrid pickup trucks and minivans, vehicles now scrapped in the sweeping turnaround plan for Chrysler announced this week by Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne.

Government Motors is still planning on producing the Chevy Volt, which GM in its day thought was not marketable.  It goes 40 miles on an electric charge (in theory) and costs around $40,000.  Then it turns into a regular fossil-fuel burning car with a very small engine.  But somewhere in this process of the government running the car companies with union advice there must be something that works.  Or then again maybe not.

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