American Elephants

President Obama Defers the Ozone Rules. by The Elephant's Child

After last week’s dreadful jobs report (zero new jobs) came out, President Obama made the call to defer the Environmental Protection Agency’s new strict standards on ozone emissions. In the fall of 2009, Mr. Obama’s EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson requested that the Bush Administration’s proposed reduction in permitted ozone rules, measured in parts per million, at 0 .075, be put on hold while her agency reconsidered the rule.

In January 2010, the EPA  said it wanted  to lower the standard even more, to between 0.060 and 0.070 ppm. But there is a problem.  This standard would have put 85% of monitored U.S. counties (628 out of 736) into formal ‘non attainment’ status. Under current law that would force utilities, businesses and agricultural operations to shelve any plans for expansion that they might have.

When doing what it does, the EPA, under current statute, is not supposed to consider the impact of its rules on jobs or costs. This allows the EPA’s rulemakers to operate in a world free of the economic realities that govern most of the rest of life.

Just in Indiana, 175 businesses appealed to Ms. Jackson to get rid of the ozone rule. The EPA estimated that compliance costs could come to $90 billion a year by 2020.  This is intended to advance by 2 years an EPA rule review that was scheduled to take place in 2013. With unemployment at 9.1%, someone worried about the president’s re-election problem must have noticed the consequences of Ms. Jackson’s rulemaking.  Most of the Midwest would be out of compliance, as well as Florida and California. Not good.

What was being shut down, was the prospects of the Obama administration.  Mr. Obama made the call to defer the rule until 2014. This decision won’t really help the economy, but it demonstrates the vast authority the president has to revise or repeal many of the job destroying rules and regulations. And there are so many job-killing regulations. Obama could make things a lot better if only he wanted to.

Our problem is that he doesn’t want to.  Control is more important than jobs.


The Tea Party is a Bunch of Racist Extremists! by The Elephant's Child

Democrats are really worried about the Tea Party. They don’t understand it.  Their notion of people on the right— is of stupid people who do not really understand politics, nor do they understand the workings of government as wise liberals do. But the Tea Party people seem to be opposed to everything the liberals stand for. And that makes the liberals afraid.

So they’re back to the same old accusations.  The Tea Party is racist, and they’re a bunch of radical extremists. We went through all that last year, when I first posted these videos:

And this piece, I posted a little over a year ago in early August.  Some things never change.


Last week, Tony Blankley wrote a succinct essay on racism:

In the last fortnight: 1) The NAACP called the tea party racist; 2) Andrew Breitbart called the NAACP racist; 3) Shirley Sherrod called Republican opponents of Obamacare racists; 4) Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack called Shirley Sherrod racist; 5) many in mainstream media called Andrew Breitbart racist; 6) Howard Dean called Fox racist; and, 7) it was revealed that liberal journalist Spencer Ackerman proposed calling Fred Barnes and Karl Rove racist.

Thus, through a confluence of bizarrely unlikely events, the vicious act of falsely accusing people of racism became a laughingstock. It went from being a career killer to a punch line; from villainy to vaudeville; from knife in the back to pie in the face.

I think Mr. Blankley got it about right.  But wait!  There’s more.  Representative Charles Rangel of New York and Representative Maxine Waters of California  are being accused of some ethical wrongdoing. Politico reports:

The question of whether black lawmakers are now being singled out for scrutiny has been simmering throughout the 111th Congress, with the Office of Congressional Ethics a focal point of the concerns. At one point earlier this year, all eight lawmakers under formal investigation by the House ethics committee, including Rangel and Waters, were black Democrats. All those investigations originated with the OCE, which can make recommendations — but takes no final actions — on such case.

There’s a “dual standard, one for most members and one for African-Americans,” said one member of the Congressional Black Caucus, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

It just won’t work. It is a joke.  Charles Rangel accepted four rent-controlled apartments from a developer at a below market value, one of which he used as campaign headquarters, he neglected to pay taxes on the rental income from a beachfront vacation home he owned, and he is accused of preserving a tax loophole worth half a billion dollars for an executive who had promised a $1 million donation to the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at the City College of New York.  He will face a trial by the ethics committee in September.

Maxine Waters is accused of an ethics violation because of a meeting she set up in September 2008 between Treasury Department officials and representatives of minority-owned banks.  The meeting centered on a single bank — one in which her husband  had considerable investments at the time, and in which he had served on the board of directors.  The bank subsequently received $12 million in bailout funds.

I understand that only Republicans violate ethical standards.  We know that because Republicans encourage members who have violated standards to resign promptly. Democrats are free not to pay their taxes, and any other violations they may commit are probably a case of mistaken identity. But when the ethics committee investigates and requires a trial — don’t play the race card.   It should be beneath you.

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.

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