American Elephants

Obama Follows Up On Very Bad Week With Diplomacy Disaster by The Elephant's Child
April 4, 2012, 6:56 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Energy | Tags: , ,

Tuesday’s “Three Amigos” summit meeting was a little different from the usual North American get-together. Obama took the occasion to inappropriately attack the Supreme Court in response to a reporter’s question, but otherwise the media recorded the meeting as— “Obama talks trade, energy with Canada Mexico leaders at Summit (AP).”The press in Canada and Mexico reported it a little differently.

Obama’s neglect of the North American Free Trade Act has put the three nation alliance “on life support.” Obama’s political ploy of denying the Keystone XL pipeline —till after the election — has not only annoyed Americans who were hoping for those jobs, but it has annoyed the Canadians to the point that they will no longer consider America as a single customer. Canada is preparing to sell their oil to China. Until now NAFTA has shielded the U.S. from having to pay global prices for Canadian oil. That will change.

Trade watchers have known that the U.S. has blocked Canada’s entry to the eight-way free trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an alliance of the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Peru, Chile and Singapore. Both Canada and Mexico want to be part of the agreement. Stephen Harper says: “Our strong sense is that most of the members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership would like to see Canada join.” This reveals that it is the Obama administration that is blocking Canada, and suggests that payback on energy is coming.

Mexican papers reported that President Felipe Calderon bitterly brought up Operation Fast and Furious, a U.S. government operation that permitted Mexican drug cartels to smuggle thousands of weapons into drug-war torn Mexico. This blunder has cost thousands of Mexican lives. Obama has feigned ignorance to the Mexicans, and hasn’t even apologized.

In an interview with former U.S. Rep. Jane Harmon (D-CA) on Monday, Prime Minister Harper explained that Canada will seek to expand its export market, and will cease to supply oil to the U.S. at a discounted rate. “Look, the very fact that a ‘no’ could even be said underscores to our country that we must diversify our energy export markets,” Harper told the audience of business people, scholars, diplomats and journalists.

Now two major energy companies are planning to build new pipeline that will move as much as 850,000 barrels of crude oil a day from Canada to refineries along the Gulf Coast by mid-2014. There are two separate projects planned by Houston-based Enterprise Products Partners LP and Enterbridge Inc. of Calgary.

Enbridge and Enterprise already operate the Seaway Pipeline which used to move oil north from Freeport, Texas to the massive oil storage hub in Cushing Oklahoma. Last year the companies said they would reverse the flow in that pipeline because the surge in oil from Canadian and U.S. production has created an overabundance of oil in Cushing. The reversal will let Seaway move up to 150,000 barrels a day south to refiners by June 1, and 400,000 barrels a day by early next year by adding new pumping stations.

The cross-border portions of the pipeline are already built. This will not negate the need for the Keystone XL, but simply add to capacity. The usual suspects, NRDC, Sierra Club and others will find some reason to object, and if that doesn’t work, they’ll find another.

Obama’s House Of Czars by The Elephant's Child

Law Professor Glen Reynolds tackles the mystery of all those Czars in the White House. There are a lot of them, and they manage mysterious aspects of the American economy without the usually required confirmation by Congress. Why are they there and what do they do? At least two — Carol Browner and Van Jones— self-identified as a socialist and a communist respectively, have departed. Are the Czars just advisers or do they make policy? Very curious.

The Constitution Is Under Attack! by The Elephant's Child

*The Constitution of the United States of America is 225 years old and in all that time amended only 27 times. It is the oldest constitution in the world, and has served us remarkably well.

So when all these other countries are writing constitutions and organizing new governments, how come they all form parliamentary governments of one sort or another? Even our very own Supreme Court Justice Ruth Ginsberg advised the Egyptians that if they were going to write a new Constitution, they ought to imitate the constitution of South Africa, which is precisely 16 years old. James Lileks explains  Justice Ginsberg’s appreciation for the South African Bill of Rights.

When French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing wrote the new constitution for the European Union, he studied the Constitution of the United States carefully, and wrote a constitution described as “a badly organized 855 page, 156,447 word document written at a 16th grade level”. It was elsewhere described as” the Constitution of a Dictatorship.”

It’s not too hard to figure out. Constitutions are written by politicians. Our Constitution is a document that says “We the People” grant these limited powers to the government, and anything else we reserve to ourselves. What politician is going to go for that kind of official limitation on their power? Some of us might say that politicians do a pretty good job of gathering power to themselves in spite of the limitations of the Constitution, and we’d be right. But the Constitution guarantees us a hearing when the politicians have gone too far, and we can call them to account.

Governments don’t want a populace that can talk back. When our new government was first formed, European countries were horrified. It was inconceivable to them that we should so elevate the common man. They had centuries of the Divine Right of Kings, and landed aristocracy, peasants and shopkeepers. Remember what an earthquake it was in the Middle East when triumphant Iraqis went to the polls to vote, men and women, and waved their purple-stained fingers in the air for newsmen to photograph.

The president and all officers of the government as well as the Congress and the Courts take an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. Obama’s aggressive disregard for any constitutional limit on what he wants to do has had the effect of sending Americans back to the Constitution. Conservative complaints are directed to all areas of Obama’s policy, foreign, economic and social. The fear that Mr. Obama was changing the rules led to the founding of the Tea Party movement.

On foreign policy, Obama’s claim that firing rockets in Libya were somehow not a war was troubling. Obama’s hiring of all sorts of ‘czars’ to manage aspects of national policy without congressional approval was disturbing. The notion that Obama could decide whether or not Congress was in session or in recess so he could make recess appointments of  someone who could not get Congressional approval, angered many. The administration’s argument that the protections of the First Amendment  do not extend to the Catholic Church’s freedom of conscience, while simultaneously granting freedom from participation to Muslims is sure to engender another Constitutional challenge. The administration’s EPA has been losing one court case after another, so there has been some welcome check on the agency’s activities.

Ordinary Americans who had never previously  heard of the Commerce Clause are perfectly capable of understanding the argument that if the federal government can require a citizen to buy a product in the marketplace, there is nothing that the citizen cannot be forced to do. How startling then, to discover that way too many liberals could not grasp that argument.

Liberals do not like the Constitution and would prefer to have it rewritten. They would much prefer a document that spells out the rights that the government grants to citizens and one that puts no limits on what government can do. Then they can all work for government, and they could keep the rest of us from disagreeing with them. Not my idea of Utopia, but I don’t believe in unicorns either.

* The marvelous Michael Ramirez daily comes up with perfect visual analogies. I don’t know how he does it, but you can see his work daily at, and even purchase his book on his best political cartoons. A wonderful record of what we were thinking at a particular moment in time.

ADDENDUM: Here is Obama, agreeing with me about liberals Constitutional preferences. He goes even farther, to state that the Constitution should certainly contain rights about redistribution of wealth. At least this was his opinion on
January 6, 2011.

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