American Elephants

The Continuing Problems With Obama’s Legacy by The Elephant's Child

—There’s the security agreement that President Obama signed with China’s President Xi Jinping to end the cyber attacks. That one lasted one day. The very next day seven companies were attacked by Deep Panda, a hacker group code name used by security researchers for the Chinese military.

The two leaders agreed that “neither country’s government will conduct or knowingly support cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property, including trade secrets or other confidential business information, with the intent of providing competitive advantages to companies or commercial sectors,” according to a summit fact sheet.

Additionally, the two sides agreed to cooperate in investigating cyber crime and to hold high-level talks on the issue.

“The very first intrusion conducted by China-affiliated actors after the joint Xi-Obama announcement at the White House took place the very next day—Saturday, Sept. 26th,” said Dmitri Alperovitch, a co-founder founder of CrowdStrike. “We detected and stopped the actors, so no exfiltration of customer data actually took place, but the very fact that these attempts occurred highlights the need to remain vigilant despite the newly minted cyber agreement.”

—The Sixth Circuit has stopped the EPA’s new Clean Water Rule on the grounds that it probably exceeds the agency’s legal authority.

The EPA rule, issued in May, extends federal jurisdiction over tens of millions of acres of private land that had been regulated by the states. In August a federal judge in North Dakota issued a preliminary injunction in 13 of the 31 states that have sued to block the rule, and the Sixth Circuit has now echoed that legal reasoning by enjoining the rule nationwide. …

The rule empowers the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and EPA to micromanage any creek, pond or prairie pothole with a “significant nexus” to a “navigable waterway.” While the EPA’s putative objective was to define limitations on federal authority, the rule in effect gives federal agencies unfettered power. …

The truth is that the water rule like so many Obama Administration diktats offers marginal benefits at a high cost and is intended to subvert state sovereignty and expand federal dominion over private businesses. Thanks to the Sixth Circuit, at least Americans won’t have to suffer under the EPA’s regulatory burden while the case is being heard.

—The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) released a major study on obesity last year. Sample sizes in the studies were small, and results mixed, but it showed that obesity rates for children between two and nineteen years old hovered around 17 percent over the last decade.

The White House saw a bit of hope in one finding. Obesity rates for children between to and five years old fell from 13.0 percent to 8,4 percent from 2003-2004, to 2011-2012. The Daily Caller obtained emails through a FOIA request, and showed that the White House wanted the CDC and HHS to highlight that news, while ignoring the rest in order to emphasize Michelle’s childhood obesity project — “Let’s Move.”

The researchers thought the positive news in the study was not clear enough to emphasize, and needed more investigation. and that “Let’s Move” which began only in 2010 likely had nothing to do with it.

“Well our press release is skewed to highlight the good news per HHS request,” a CDC senior press officer, Karen Hunter, admitted in a Feb. 26, 2014 email to three others at the agency.

“This release will have a first lady quote and they are mainly wanting to focus on the decline among 2 to 5 year olds during the current administration,” she wrote in another email.

The full extent of the White House’s pressure on HHS and CDC to spin the study in favor of “Let’s Move” is not clear. Many of the 713 pages of emails are withheld, citing executive privilege invoked by the White House.

News outlets picked up on the CDC headline “Obesity Rate for Young Children Plummets 43% in a Decade.” Katherine Flegal, a highly respected CDC scientist wrote:

The finding is exaggerated and questionable in a variety of ways, and the HHS press release made far too much of it. I have gotten a number of personal emails from various researchers also saying ‘What is going on here?’

I assume we will eventually find out just how completely the White House has exercised control over the agencies and offices in the federal Bureaucracy. It’s going to be very interesting. Obama has insisted that his is not an ‘Imperial Presidency.’


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