American Elephants

Supreme Court Takes a Dim View of Obama’s Immigration Law Claim by The Elephant's Child

Arizona has had a major problem with illegal immigration, and the Obama administration’s reluctance to enforce immigration laws. So Arizona decided to enforce federal immigration laws themselves. They just wanted the Immigration laws on the books to be enforced.

The Arizona law requires law enforcement officers to check the immigration status of those they suspect are in the country illegally and check with federal officials to verify. They would also write new state penalties for illegal immigrants who try to apply for jobs.

The Obama administration sued, arguing that those provisions conflict with the federal government’s own role in setting immigration policy.The government argued that it’s fine when it’s on a limited basis, but having a state mandate for all of its law enforcement is essentially a method of trying to force the federal government to change its priorities. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli said the federal government has limited resources and should have the right to determine the extent of calls it gets about possible illegal immigrants. These decisions have to be made at the national level. (I love the argument about limited resources).

The justices took a dim view of the administration’s claim that it can stop Arizona from enforcing immigration laws.  They told the government lawyers that the state appears to want to push federal officials, not conflict with them.

“It seems to me the federal government just doesn’t want to know who’s here illegally,” Chief Justice John Roberts said at one point.

Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), a critic of the Arizona law, said that if the court does uphold the state’s law, he will introduce legislation to overturn that decision and grant the federal government sole control on immigration matters. That legislation would also overturn a 2011 Supreme Court case that upheld a separate Arizona law that requires all businesses in the state to check employees’ legal status using E-Verify, the federal government’s electronic verification system.

Illegal immigration looks a little different in Washington D.C. where Hispanic votes are especially important to those who divide the electorate into voting groups; and in Arizona where illegal immigration is rife and the drug war just across the border is killing citizens.

The decision will come down in June.

The Global War on Terror is Over! The State Department Said So. by The Elephant's Child

The State Department has declared that the global war on terror is over and won.  Figures. Obama takes full credit for winning the Iraq war and bringing the troops home, and for ending the Afghanistan war.  Obama always believed that the whole thing was about al Qaeda and Osama’s involvement in 9/11.  Once Osama was dead, we had our revenge and it was all over.

The anonymous “senior State Department official who works on Mideast issues” told the National Journal recently “Now that we have killed most of al-Qaeda, now that people have come to see legitimate means of expression, people who once might have gone into al-Qaeda see an opportunity for a legitimate Islamism.”

Those legitimate means of expression are going well. The illusion that those who are looking for the triumph of Islamic fundamentalism now see “legitimate means of expression,” now that Moammar Gadhafi in Libya and Hosni Mubarak in  Egypt are gone, simply do not grasp the difficulty of cultivating anything even approaching Western style values of liberty in traditional Islamic lands. The Taliban is regaining control in Afghanistan, Iran is still industriously building a nuclear weapon for its ruling ayatollah which it promises to use to destroy Israel and the U.S. And Bashar Assad,  much celebrated by Liberals for his modernity and western outlook, ‘unexpectedly’ turned into a butcher.

The Arab Spring was so promising, and Mohamed Morsi is leading in Egypt’s presidential race led supporters in a chant “The Koran is our constitution, and Sharia is our guide!”

Michael Rubin of AEI, in his introduction to a paper presented to the Counter Terror Expo 1012 says:

The fight against terrorism is no closer to success today than it was a decade ago when, in the wake of the September 11 terror attacks, President George W. Bush declared a Global War on Terrorism, The problem is not simply that Western agencies are outfoxed by state sponsors of terror and trans-national groups, but rather that Western governments and international organizations continue to suffer self-inflicted wounds. These include a failure to reach consensus on what terrorism is, political correctness that leads Western officials to downplay or ignore the religious component to terrorism; the legitimization of terrorist’s grievances; and a failure to recognize that diplomacy often does more harm than good.

Ambassador John Bolton remarked that:

Obama sees American strength as provocative. He believes its nuclear arsenal is excessive, and hence worthy of reduction, without fearing in any way that shredding the nuclear deterrent might actually have profoundly deleterious consequences not only on US national security, but on security and stability in the world as a whole. He sees his presidency causing “the tide of war” to recede in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, just as his tenure will mark “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow”. Dramatic reductions in military budgets, and the consequent devastating reductions in force levels, capabilities and weapons systems, apparently do not trouble him even slightly.

The Left has a hard time with ideas about war and peace. They regard peace as the natural state of the world, in spite of all evidence to the contrary. They see wars as largely the result of American warmongering and intransigence— and due to a lack of proper diplomacy and friendliness.There are always those on the left who are sure that unilateral disarmament will promote world peace.

The Right, in general, understands that flawed human nature means that some will always seek power, demand that their ideology be imposed on all, and that a strong defense can be the best way to prevent war and sustain peace.

Americans hate war, and are always sure that as soon as the most recent war is ended that there will be no more trouble in the world.  The military is downsized, the “Military-Industrial Complex” declines, the spent-up equipment from the last war is not replaced, and though we mean to keep a strong deterrent —there are always other nice things to do with the money. And when the next war comes along, because we are perceived as weak, we are never, never ready.

John Bolton points out that Obama’s timidity risks the world’s Security. His excellent essay is worth your time, for clear thinking and analysis.

In 2009 Obama said: “I’m always worried about using the word ‘victory,’ because, you know, it invokes this notion of Emperor Hirohito coming down and signing a surrender to MacArthur.” Of course, it wasn’t Hirohito who surrendered on the Missouri‘s stout deck, but the revelation of Obama’s mindset is telling. Conceptually, a world of no victories may warm the hearts of social democrats, but it is insufficient for the defense of America. Nonetheless, November may well tell us, in more ways than one, whether America will remain America, or whether it has become better suited to being a junior member of the European Union.



Truth or Politics? by The Elephant's Child

“What if your President, your Senator and your Congressman
knew a crisis was coming?  What if they knew why it was happening?
What if they knew what they needed to do to stop it from happening?
What if they had the time to stop it? And what if they chose to do nothing
about it…because they thought it wasn’t good politics? 

“What would you think of that person?”

Those were the words of Paul Ryan in introducing his “Path to Prosperity”  to deal with the problems of entitlements in our economy. President Obama claimed that Republicans “were trying to end Medicare as you know it.” Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said “We don’t have a definitive solution—we just don’t like yours.”

Obama has been fairly transparent about his efforts to put off those things which might cause electoral difficulties for him — until after the election. He rudely overruled the EPA on its ozone rule until after the election (disastrously expensive for the economy). The Keystone XL decision, postponed (if approved would anger the Greens). The temporary tax cuts (go poof on December 31).

ObamaCare slashes about $145 billion from Medicare Advantage, a program that is particularly popular with seniors. It allows about one in four to escape the traditional entitlement and choose a commercial plan. They had to cut expenses somewhere to make up for all the new free goodies they offered in ObamaCare, and they hated such market flexibility because they regarded it as a threat to government control. Obama’s budget counters estimate that the ObamaCare cuts will result in enrollment falling by half.  The cuts were scheduled to begin this year. It is hard to imagine a bigger electoral disaster than taking away seniors’ popular Medicare Advantage right before the election.

Lo and behold, Health and Human Services has a fund under a 1967 law that allows the HHS Secretary to spend money without specific approval by Congress on “experiments” directly aimed at “increasing the efficiency and economy of health services.” Doesn’t that suggest the ‘experiment’ of postponing something seniors are going to hate — until after the election? So $8.6 billion should cover it. That’s what you get when you appropriate massive amounts of money and turn it over to an agency without accountability for the way it will be used.  It is, says the Secretary, “a demonstration project.”

Some cold hard facts: There are roughly 50 million people covered by Medicare — and baby boomers are reaching the eligible age of 65 at the rate of 10,000 a day.

The latest report from the Medicare trustees came out Monday. It is expected that the report will show the pace of cost increases has slowed to some extent. Contrary to the assertions of the Obama Administration in trying to gin up support for ObamaCare, the cost of health care had been declining for the past ten years. New medicines, new procedures were making medicine more efficient and more  affordable. Nevertheless, the medical insurance program for America’s seniors is on a fast path to insolvency. It is going broke. 

Medicare will run out of money to pay full benefits in 2024, five years earlier than previously predicted, according to the 2012 report.

That’s twelve years from now. Republicans have developed a plan that will preserve Medicare for those 55 and older, and will offer a new plan for those under 55 to provide the same kind of safety net. To repeat, Tim Geithner, Secretary of the Treasury says “We don’t have a definitive solution — we just don’t like yours.” Barack Obama called the Ryan plan “Social Darwinism,” and then he attempted to hide from seniors what he was doing — until after the election.

What if they had the time to stop it? And what if they chose to do nothing
about it…because they thought it wasn’t good politics? 

“What would you think of that person?”

When Governments Cut Spending. What Happens? by The Elephant's Child

Here’s Dr. Stephen Davies, from  Do governments ever cut spending? According to Dr. Stephen Davies, there are historical examples of government spending cuts in Canada, New Zealand, Sweden, and America. In these cases, despite popular belief, the government spending cuts did not cause economic stagnation. In fact, the spending cuts often accelerated economic growth by freeing up resources for the private sector.

Lots of history, lots of examples in the real world. Should be a no-brainier!

Another Little Lesson On Learning from History by The Elephant's Child

Those Who Cannot Learn From History…Are Doomed! by The Elephant's Child

In 1920, newly elected President Warren Harding inherited a very sharp economic downturn from his predecessor Woodrow Wilson .”Cato economist Jim Powell says that the downturn was “almost as severe, from peak to trough, as the Great Contraction from 1929 to 1933 that FDR would later inherit. The estimated gross national product plunged 24 percent from $91.5 billion in 1920 to $69.6 billion in 1921. The number of unemployed jumped from 2.1 million to 4.9 million.” From David Weinberger at Heritage:

“President Harding knew that the market would best recover if left to do so on its own. He loosened government’s inflexible grip and gave the economy the breathing room it needed. He cut spending sharply, from $6.3 billion  in 1920 to $5 billion in 1921 and $3.2 billion in 1922.”

Andrew Mellon was Harding’s Secretary of the Treasury, and Harding took his advice. He slashed tax rates steeply. The top income tax rate went from 73% to24%, and the bottom rate went from 4 % to0.5%.

These combined cuts resulted in economic recovery in 1922, only a year-and–a-half later. Gross national product rebounded, and unemployment fell to 2.8 million. The cuts fueled an explosion of growth and prosperity through the rest of the 20s.

Most of us are probably not all that familiar with President Harding, but we’ve heard of “The Roaring Twenties.” GNP expanded year after year without inflation. Productivity improved and real wages increased. The stock market tripled. The middle class expanded dramatically. The unemployment rate was as low as 1.8 percent in 1926.

The policy lessons of the 1920 downturn only serve to magnify the policy mistakes and mismanagement of the 1930s, which helped the 1929 downturn to become a decade long “Great Depression.”

New research  suggests that legislators should cut spending and pass growth-inducing policies. Spending cuts, according to the study, can positively affect economic growth and are the only historically reliable way to bring down deficits and debt.

The left continues to resist any suggestion of spending cuts. They see a depressed economy as no time to slash spending, which would only further weaken demand, and they believe that the problem of a recession is a lack of demand. That’s why they believe in stimulus. And if one stimulus doesn’t succeed, it’s because the stimulus wasn’t big enough. There is no basis for altering their thinking. That Franklin Roosevelt saved us from the Great Depression (after twenty years) is a matter of faith. They believe.

The left believes that all those smart people in Washington DC can effectively manage the economy, and choose winners and losers among America’s businesses. They believe that innovation comes from the government picking the ‘best’ ideas  out there, and supporting them with’government money.’

In 1837, financial panic swept the country. President Martin Van Buren was determined to get government out of the way. He slashed federal spending from $37.2 million in 1837 to $24.3 million in 1840, and taxes (mostly tariffs) went down as well. Some consider this the worst depression up until the Great Depression. The economy came roaring back within a few years, and federal revenues more than tripled one year into the recovery. Revenues, according to John Steele Gordon, had been a miserable $8.3 million in 1843, but the following year they jumped to $29 million.

When the Panic of 1893 hit, President Grover Cleveland refused to spend federal money.  He vetoed a $10,000 spending measure to help farmers in Texas.  His veto read “federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character.” He vetoes 299 other spending bills. Real GNP fell about 4% from 1892 to 1893 and another 6% from 1893 to 1894, By 1895 the economy had grown beyond its earlier peak.

On the other hand, Barack Obama is asking Americans to believe that the U.S. economy can be taxed into prosperity. He wants to raise the tax rates on millionaires to a minimum of 30% while raising the highest income tax rate by 20%, double the rate on capital gains and add a new 3.8% tax on all capital earnings and triple the dividend rate— all this on top of ending the Bush tax cuts. Financial Armageddon indeed.

Art Laffer and Stephen Moore, in their new report “Rich States, Poor States,” compares the economic performance of states with no income tax to that of states with high rates.  Every year for the past 40 years, states without income taxes had faster growth on a decade basis. In 1980 there were 10 states with no income tax. They grew over the decade leading up to 1980 32.3 percent faster than the 10 states with the highest income taxes. The states with the highest income tax rates had no job growth at all.

Illinois, Oregon and California practice Obamanomics. All have passed soak-the-rich laws like the buffet rule and all face big deficits.  Illinois has lost one resident every 10 minutes since hiking tax rates in January. California has 10.9 unemployment and has lost 4.8% of its jobs.  Now they may raise taxes again. In California a union-backed ballot initiative would raise the state’s highest tax rate to 13.3 %. Nearly four million more people have left California over the last two decades than have entered the state.

Republicans have long championed the successes of cutting spending and cutting taxes to free up the economy. Worked for Coolidge, Kennedy, Reagan and George W. Bush. But some people cannot learn from history.

Something Wonderful by The Elephant's Child
April 23, 2012, 6:43 am
Filed under: Art, Cool Site of the Day | Tags: , ,

To pass the time during long flights, artist Nina Katchadourian goes to the lavatory, adorns herself in tissue costume, and creates hilarious self-portrait photos in the style of Flemish Renaissance paintings. She calls the series
Seat Assignment Lavatory Self-Portraits in the Flemish Style”

(h/t: Laughing Squid)

“If I Wanted America to Fail” by The Elephant's Child

Why Marxism? Why Would Anyone Want Such a System? by The Elephant's Child

Professor C.Bradley Thompson speaks on “Why Marxism?” Why, indeed? Every time it has been tried, it ends with the government slaughtering its own people. They start off with Utopian dreams and end up with 100 million dead, ruined economies, desperate people and an assortment of concentration camps, reeducation camps and gulags.  What possible appeal can there be? Ignorance of history, no understanding of consequences and a yearning for absolute power.

Democrats Propose to End First Amendment Freedoms! by The Elephant's Child

What a strange period in history we are living in. Democrats in Congress, looking forward to the elections in November, have announced that they want to amend the Constitution to replace all those freedoms in the First Amendment. Liberals have always been at odds with freedom of speech, and the press, freedom of religion, the right of people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

They have even written a new First Amendment, called The People’s Rights Amendment:

Section 1. We the people who ordain and establish this Constitution intend the rights protected by this Constitution to be the rights of natural persons.

Section 2. People, person, or persons as used in this Constitution does not include corporations, limited liability companies or other corporate entities established by the laws of any state, the United States, or any foreign state, and such corporate entities are subject to such regulation as the people, through their elected state and federal representatives, deem reasonable and are otherwise consistent with the powers of Congress and the States under this Constitution.

Section 3. Nothing contained herein shall be construed to limit the people’s rights of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, free exercise of religion, and such other rights of the people, which rights are inalienable.

So Congress could ban the speech of nonmedia business corporations, it could ban publications by corporate-run newspapers and magazines, the religious practices of most churches which are generally organized as corporations, most universities, incorporated unions and non-profits.  All corporate entities would be stripped of all constitutional rights. All corporate entities would be treated as artificial creatures of the state. Congress could ban speech about elections and any other speech about religion, politics or anything else. It could ban speech on viewpoints that they didn’t like.

State legislatures and local governments could do the same. They could seize corporate property without providing compensation and without providing due process. All corporate entities would be stripped of all constitutional rights.

As Chief Justice Roberts wrote in his Citizens United opinion:

The government urges us in this case to uphold a direct prohibition on political speech. It asks us to embrace a theory of the First Amendment that would allow censorship not only of television and radio broadcasts, but of pamphlets, posters, the Internet, and virtually any other medium that corporations and unions might find useful in expressing their views on matters of public concerns.

The Left— Liberals, Progressives, Democrats— doesn’t like to be disagreed with. They want to shut down opposing voices. They have long wanted to eliminate freedom of speech. Witness the recent campaign to get Rush Limbaugh off the air because he said something rude about Sandra Fluke, while they completely accept any and all rude things said about Sarah Palin. Witness the outcry against Fox News particularly, but any other Right-leaning publication. Congressional Democrats want the power to shut down opposing voices.

As far as that goes, they aren’t too crazy about the other First Amendment freedoms. They were outraged when Tea Party people exercised their constitutional right to peaceably assemble. The Occupy people camping out and vandalizing public and private property were simply nice young people righteously protesting. And morphing ‘freedom of religion’ into a ‘separation of church and state’ has tried to eliminate any sign of public religion from the public scene.

Perpetually discontented, they don’t like what is, and want something — that they like better. A Utopian world where no one will disagree with them, and where they will always be in charge and have the power to do what they want without interference or objection.

Like every other law, the Constitution must bind officials, not empower them.

CO2 is Natural, Organic, and Good for You. by The Elephant's Child

I was going to ignore Earth Day because I think it is profoundly silly, and I don’t want to encourage the perpetually discontented doom-mongers.

Carbon Dioxide is a natural product that is one of the building blocks of life. Increased CO2 levels are constructive and highly beneficial to both mankind and the natural world. I don’t know the location of the picture above, though it looks like a nuclear plant. Pictures like this are always used to subtly say ‘look, evil industry is polluting the planet,” but what is coming out of the smokestacks is most likely steam— water vapor.

Back in the 1970s, the earth experienced a short-term cooling trend, and many of the perpetually discontented doom-mongers were alarmed and predicted a coming catastrophe.  If it had continued, it would have been a problem, for cold is much harder to deal with than warm.

A little more warming would be nice. It’s barely 50° here, and though it may be spring, our temperatures are way below normal. Yes, this is not climate. But the Medieval Warm Period from about 900 till 1300, when it was much warmer than today, was the finest weather known to man. Wine grapes grew in England, the Vikings farmed in Greenland, and the climate was maybe 2° to 4° warmer than now.  Castles and cathedrals were built throughout Europe, which is an indication of good food supplies and greater wealth. In June, 1253, Westminster Abbey alone had 428 construction workers, nearly half of them skilled stone workers and glass blowers.

CO2 is plant food, what all humans and animals breathe out, and plants breathe in CO2 and exhale oxygen. We are at a low point of CO2 in the atmosphere, around .038 ppm. Greenhouses boost CO2 to 1000 ppm, and nurserymen continue to survive, as will we.

Just Ten Years Ago. What Might Have Been. by The Elephant's Child

Ten years ago on April 17 and 18 , a number of Democrats took to the floor of the Senate to block efforts to open the Alaska Wildlife Refuge mud flats to exploration and development:  It would take ten years, they said — up to ten years for any oil to reach the market.  Gas prices then were $1.45 a gallon at the pump.

Once again, they all advance the same excuses. Talking points.


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