American Elephants


What the Heck is BREXIT ? They Sound a Lot Like Our Revolutionaries Back in 1776! by The Elephant's Child

BREXIT stands for the British exit from the European Union, and the British people will vote on whether to leave or stay on June 23.  It’s a very, very big deal. This is an hour long movie, so you’ll want to watch it in the evening. It’s very well done, with many of my favorite Brits explaining why the European Union does not work — Daniel Hannan, James Delingpole, Matt Ridley, Janet Daley, and Melanie Phillips.

The movie explains how the European Common Market seemed like such a good idea after World War II, how it morphed into the European Union, and what happened when the regulators took over.

It’s a remarkably Leftist Union, sure from its beginnings that control and regulation would fix all the wars and arguments and end poverty and hunger and, well you’re familiar with all the unfilled promises of the Left. When President Obama stopped by in Britain in April, he wrote an op-ed in The Telegraph to tell the British what they needed to do to get full U.S. support—which included staying in the EU, and unsurprisingly ignited a firestorm. Bad manners, but Obama would like the control and regulation and unaccountable government, as he has so clearly demonstrated. Angelina Jolie was just there to tell the Brits not to even think of leaving.

The movie explains how it all came to be and the immense, smothering, unaccountable bureaucracy that it has become. It is a dire warning to us about the rights and possibilities we might well lose if we continue to allow the Left to govern our country. Do set aside time to watch history being made across the pond.



Private Property Rights Seem Unimportant Until They’re Yours, and They’re Gone. by The Elephant's Child

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Andy and Katie Johnson own a small 8-acre ranch near Bridger, Wyoming, on which they run 10 head of cattle and 4 horses. A creek runs through the property. Mr. Johnson wanted to build a stock pond to water his animals. He got approval from the local government and from the State of Wyoming, and they invested most of their savings in building the stock pond. Birds, fish and other wildlife came.

So did the EPA, who went after the family for violating the Clean Water Act. EPA Director Gina McCarthy used the Johnson family to test the power of the EPA in advance of the passage of their harsh new rules. The rule wasn’t even passed when Ms. McCarthy took out her pen and her phone.

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EPA regulators showed up at the Johnson property in 2014, and announced that the Johnsons were facing a “very serious matter.” The EPA claimed the Johnsons violated the Clean Water Act by building a dam on a creek without a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers. The EPA claims the pond discharges into other waterways. Mr. Johnson was ordered to restore the property to its pre-pond state, according to EPA rules for restoration, and pay a fine of $37,500 a day until it was completely restored, and face criminal charges as well.

The EPA’s new rule is a power grab, clean and simple. When Congress created the Clean Water Act, they neglected to define “water.” Big mistake. The Supreme Court defined “the waters of the United States” as “navigable waters” which the EPA promptly redefined as anything that flowed into the navigable waters, and believed they were justified in tracing the “navigable waters” right back to your downspout. Imagine! I’ve used a picture of a trickle in a roadside ditch to point out what they are after. Ms McCarthy wants to be a Commissar of the EPA’s own Empire.

The Johnsons refused to cave in, and enlisted the help of Wyoming Senators Barasso and Enzi, and Louisiana Sen. David Vitter, and the Libertarian Pacific Legal Foundation. The Clean Water Act specifically excludes stock ponds. No matter.The fines had reached $16 million when Mr. Johnson’s counter lawsuit against the EPA reached the courts.

More than two years later, Johnson won. In a settlement reached with the EPA, he gets to keep his pond, he won’t need to get a federal permit, the EPA fines have been removed, and all Johnson agreed to do was plant some willow trees and limit access to a portion of his pond for a while.

Pacific Legal Foundation attorney Jonathan Wood called the settlement “a win for the Johnson family, and a win for the environment.”

The federal government stormed onto private property, threatened  a family with massive fines (could $37,500 a day be any more absurd?) and walked away only after being countersued. While the Johnsons were being harassed, the EPA was finalizing their new rule to cover anything from prairie puddles to power plants.

A lawsuit filed by several states came to a halt when a federal judge in North Dakota blocked the EPA from enforcing the rule, which the judge said was “arbitrary and capricious.” The judge ruled that the injunction be applied to all 50 states, but the EPA decided that they would go ahead and enforce the rule in the states that hadn’t sued, until an appeals court stepped in and blocked that runaround.

The EPA has been slapped down by the courts repeatedly for overreaching , but they are zealots — intent on power. “The environment” has become a magical word to which  every business is careful to genuflect. That’s power. Packages and papers come with a notation to ‘please recycle’. Laws protecting the people from polluted air or polluted water are in place.

The EPA is reduced to scanning archives for old studies, not necessarily valid, that will give them a legal leg to stand on. Words are parsed for other possible meanings. Your freedom and property rights depend on a lawyer asking the right questions to get you off whatever hook the EPA decides to impale you with. The agency has long outlived its usefulness and needs to be disbanded permanently.

This is how you suddenly wake up one morning to find yourself resident in a tyranny — with no rights at all. Democrats are quite up front about their contempt for the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The Constitution provides only Impeachment as a remedy for “high crimes and misdemeanors” — not for overreaching with executive orders and pardon powers and the regulations handed down by agencies established by the executive. We’d all better pay real attention. Government is not a spectator sport.



Let’s Have Some Really Good News for a Change! by The Elephant's Child

Here at home, the plumbing disaster has evolved into a replace a bathroom adventure. Sorry about the light blogging, but some days that just the way it goes. This is merely the beginning.

So I will turn to good news for a change. How’s this for a headline? “The Era of Great Famines is Over” Here’s Paul Ehrlich writing in The Population Bomb in 1968,

The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate.

—India has been suffering from widespread drought in 11 states across the country, yet the country’s foodgrain production is actually set to grow marginally, the third advance estimates released by the agriculture ministry on Monday showed. The grain production for human consumption for 2015-2016 is estimated at 252.23 million tons, marginally higher than the 252.92 million tones produced in 2014-2015 according to the data. If the estimates hold up, it implies that the damage to the farm economy is less than was feared, but also demonstrates a bit of resilience of Indian agriculture to a deficit monsoon.

—Ethiopia is moving from being “the world’s symbol of mass famines to fending off starvation.” Ethiopia could choose to avoid another disaster because “Famine isn’t caused by overpopulation, and as Ethiopia’s experience shows, it’s not a necessary consequence of drought. Politics creates famine, and politics can stop it.” The New York Times, May 8 , 2016

—South Africa aims to be malaria free by 2018. The National Health Department in confident that they can reduce locally transmitted cases to zero, because they have already managed to reduce cases dramatically.

Malaria accounts for 40 percent of all public health spending on the continent, killing up to 438,000 people each year mainly in sub-Saharan Africa.

But, the World Health Organization (WHO)’s world malaria report for 2015 states that there’s been a major decline in global malaria cases and deaths since the year 2000, with the mortality rate decreasing by 60 percent.

—In the middle of the political season, everyone seems to be angry, unhappy with Congress because they didn’t stop Obama from using his phone and his pen to accomplish all the things that he could not get through Congress, and decided to accomplish by executive order.. The media is fascinated with following unpredictable candidates around, so we aren’t hearing all that much from the rest of the world.  From Guy Sorman at City Journal:

Worry over America’s recent economic stagnation, however justified, shouldn’t obscure the fact that the American economy remains Number One in the world. The United States holds 4.5 percent of the world’s population but produces a staggering 22 percent of the world’s output—a fraction that has remained fairly stable for two decades, despite growing competition from emerging countries. Not only is the American economy the biggest in absolute terms, with a GDP twice the size of China’s; it’s also near the top in per-capita income, currently a bit over $48,000 per year. Only a few small countries blessed with abundant natural resources or a concentration of financial services, such as Norway and Luxembourg, can claim higher averages.

“America’s predominance isn’t new; indeed, it has existed since the early nineteenth century.” By the 1830s American per-capita income was already the highest in the world. It wasn’t just our size and natural resources, for other countries had those attributes.

They couldn’t compete with Americas strong intellectual property rights. The U.S, Constitution was the first in history to protect intellectual property rights, and “secured for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” Two hundred years later, the U.S. has more patents in force —1.8 million—than any other nation. American wages were significantly higher than those in Europe, which meant that landowners needed high levels of productivity, which meant that the mechanization of agriculture got under way in America before it did overseas.

America’s enormous territory and “the freedom people had to move and work across it” encouraged an advanced division of labor, which is essential to high productivity.

Globalization is having the same effect today, making prices drop by assigning the production of goods to countries that are relatively efficient at making them.

Immigration has been another component of American economic dynamism, for evident quantitative reasons: national GDP grows when total population and productivity increase simultaneously. But this effect has worked particularly well in the United States because its immigrants have tended to be young, energetic, and open to American values. Immigration is a self-selecting process: those who find the courage to leave behind their roots, traditions, and family often have an entrepreneurial spirit.

Guy Sorman adds:

In the current sluggish economic environment, the remarkable history of American dynamism is thus more instructive than ever. America’s economic might is rooted in an entrepreneurial culture and a passion for innovation and risk-taking, traits nourished by the nation’s commitment to the rule of law, property rights, and a predictable set of tax and regulatory policies. Policymakers have lost sight of these fundamental principles in recent years. The next era of American prosperity will be hastened when they return to them.

Do read the whole thing. It’s not long.



Another Dismal Jobs Report From an OverRegulated Economy by The Elephant's Child

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The American economy added the fewest number of jobs in April—in seven months.  The job gains in April were the smallest number since last September, and below the average of 200,000 new jobs. Nonfarm payrolls increased by only 160,000 jobs, a disappointing number when the population continues to grow. The numbers for February and March were revised to show 19,000 fewer jobs than originally reported.

The unemployment rate held steady at 5.0 percent, but that was because more people were dropping out of the labor force.

A separate report explained why the U.S. economy isn’t adding as many jobs as it used to. Wayne Crews from the Competitive Enterprise Institute rolled out his annual report card on federal regulation called “The Thousand Commandments.” Rules and regulations from the federal government are now imposing $1.9 trillion in annual costs on the U.S. economy. Add to that official government spending which adds up to $3.9 trillion—that’s a big chunk of taxpayer money going to the government.

Remember, the government has no money of its own. Every cent comes out of taxpayers’ wallets. That means that people have less and less to spend, and when the people don’t spend, business suffers. It’s not enough that sales are down, but the government feels it necessary to tell businesses what to do and how to do it.

The Left has a great deal of trouble understanding this simple fact of life. They believe it is their task to tell businesses how to operate, under what circumstances, and what rules, and then are simply astounded when the number of new jobs fall and business isn’t prospering and creating jobs. Simply demanding extra paperwork means somebody has to take time away from other more useful tasks to fill out more reports. That costs money. Hoover Institution senior fellow John H. Cochrane reported in early May that:

Sclerotic growth is America’s overriding economic problem. From 1950 to 2000, the U.S. economy grew at an average rate of 3.5% annually. Since 2000, it has grown at half that rate—1.76%. Even in the years since the bottom of the great recession in 2009, which should have been a time of fast catch-up growth, the economy has only grown at 2%. Last week’s 0.5% GDP report is merely the latest Groundhog Day repetition of dashed hopes.

Here’s the problem. Republicans talk about cutting regulation and a free market economy, and most people doze off before they even get to the nitty-gritty. But if you want creativity, businesses hiring and expanding, that’s how it happens. Progressives think that it happens by federal agencies demanding more hiring and making more rules for how they should go about it. They assume that anyone working in a government agency is by nature smarter and more attuned to the real world than people who actually work for a living.

A perfect example is a study that shows many employers are hiring more freelancers to avoid having to pay for the increased costs of health insurance caused by the Affordable Care Act. “Nearly one-third of companies intend to work towards “eliminating”  healthcare benefits because of the ACA and 60 percent intend to hire more freelance employees than full-time people. We told them that ObamaCare was going to cost lots more than they expected, but they didn’t believe it.

 



Fighting Back Against Political Correctness: by The Elephant's Child

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Here is the most important article you will read this week, or for many weeks. Daniel Greenfield takes on the Republican Party and Political Correctness in a piece titled FIGHTING POLITICAL CORRECTNESS IN THE AGE OF TRUMP: Republicans must stand up to political correctness or lose”

When the left exploited the Charleston church shooting to begin a purge of Confederate flags that extended all the way into reruns of the Dukes of Hazzard, Republicans failed to defy the lynch mobs and even cheered the takedowns, some of which took place under Republican governors, as progress. Congresswoman Candice Miller, a Republican, announced recently that state flags in the Capitol featuring confederate insignia will be taken down due to the “controversy surrounding Confederate imagery”. The “controversy” is another term for the left’s manufactured political correctness.

There are legitimate positions on both sides when it comes to the Confederate flag, but the historical debate is not the issue. Just as it doesn’t matter very much that Harriet Tubman was a Republican. It matters far more that both moves were driven by the social media mobs of political correctness.

Culture wars are not about actual historical facts, but a tribal conflict over culture between clashing groups. This is a conflict in which it mattered a great deal that northeastern elites were lining up to get $400 tickets to see Hamilton, a hip-hop musical praised by many of the same Republicans who wouldn’t be caught dead watching reruns of the Dukes of Hazzard. That New York theater trend led to Southerner Andrew Jackson being displaced on the currency instead of New York’s own Alexander Hamilton.

We have always opposed political correctness, but also laughed at it as, well, stupid.  Our mistake. It is a serious matter.

This is not a battle over facts. It’s a cultural struggle over process. Political correctness is not actually a debate about the events of a past century, but about whether political and economic power should also translate into a cultural dominance so pervasive that it can reach out and strangle everything it dislikes.

Follow the link and read the whole thing. Print it out and read it again, and consider sharing it with your friends and family. You have noticed the attacks on free speech, the bizarre hatred for courses in Western Civilization, the insistence that “black lives matter,” but saying “all lives matter” will get you attacked.

While we are sneering at the latest PC, our freedom of speech is being attacked once again. One of the latest politically correct attacks is that of the attorneys general of a number of states attempting to get massive recompense from ExxonMobil under the RICO laws for denying that climate change is dangerous and life-threatening. Monuments and statues are being removed because the historical figures portrayed had views which we do not approve of today—the very history of our nation is being changed before our eyes. It is silly, but an exercise of power and control.

Add Daniel Greenfield to your personal list of must-read writers. He can be found at www.frontpagemag.com and at www.sultanknish.blogspot.com. “Political correctness isn’t just about politics. It’s about power. It’s about who has it and who doesn’t.”



A Truly Weird Electoral Season. by The Elephant's Child

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They are voting in Indiana, and the polls will be closing soon. I do not understand this presidential campaign at all. We are told that the people are really angry. According to the media and Donald Trump, they are angry about illegal immigration, and unfair trade policy that is negatively affecting our country. According to exit polls, the people are not particularly concerned about immigration as it is far down the list of concerns, and majorities prefer a path to citizenship.

Mr. Trump is going to build a huge big wall. And he is going to put big tariffs on any country that isn’t being fair. He’s going to be nicer to our friends so we will be closer, but he will insist that they pay a larger share of  the cost of protecting them from radical Islam. He liked World War II and the Cold War, but is against any foreign adventures since.

What the people seem to be angry about is the economy, the lack of jobs, jobs going to immigrants, they are fearful about terrorism, angry about the ridiculous hooplah over women’s restrooms being open to men, the increased cost of ObamaCare, the lack of jobs and economic growth, and increased inflation while salaries have not risen at all. Jobs have vanished on coal country, employment is down in oil and gas country because of the drop in the price of oil, some manufacturing jobs have gone overseas because of high corporate taxes, and some high-tech jobs have gone to H1-B immigrants.

All of these problems are the direct result of policies of the Obama administration. The stimulus didn’t work. Republicans warned that ObamaCare was not going to work and would cost more, not less; every Republican voted against he initial law, and have voted to repeal the act five times, Obama has vetoed their efforts each time. Jobs have gone to offshore companies as a direct result of the highest corporate tax in the world. The rise of ISIS and the war in Syria and the Middle East is a direct result of Obama pulling the troops out of Iraq too soon. President Obama vowed early to bankrupt the coal companies, which he has done in a misguided and fruitless battle against catastrophic global warming which exists only in the computer programs of the IPCC. And in refusing to utter the words Islamic terrorism, Obama has skewed all of our perceptions of  the Middle East and what is happening.

So the people are furious with the Republicans? Huh?

They blame the policies of the Obama administration on the Republicans? They don’t think the Republicans have done enough to stop the administration?

This is the first time, as far as I know, when a President of the United States has deliberately decided that “he has a phone and a pen” and he will accomplish by executive order or actions of agencies whatever he wants, and that he will pay no attention to the Constitution of the United States of America, because he believes it to be a tired old document that needs repealing or fixing.  The remedies available are to proceed through the courts in one lawsuit or another or to impeach the president. The Republicans have voted to repeal ObamaCare five times, Obama has vetoed every bill.

Results are in from Indiana, and Donald Trump has enough votes that he will be the presumptive nominee, for he is sure to pick up enough from states like California and Washington, for example, from the remainder of states left.  Ted Cruz has suspended his campaign.

I am not and have not been a Trump supporter. I do not understand what they hope for from what little Mr. Trump has had to say in his speeches.  His supporters seem to put a lot of faith in “Make America Great Again”  and “America First” which was a discredited slogan from  the America First Committee which was highly non-interventionist in the days just before World War II. I guess they see it as patriotism and strength. I see it as lacking in evidence.

We’ll see. Mr. Trump hasn’t even released his tax returns, and is due to face trial for fraud regarding his promotion of Trump University.  But then the case against Hillary proceeds slowly as well. What a weird, weird electoral season.



Communicating With the American People: We Don’t Like Being Lied To! by The Elephant's Child

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“The rate of real economic growth is the single greatest determinate of America’s strength as a nation and the well being of the American people.” President Obama has not delivered a single year of 3,0% growth. The Commerce Department reported that the U.S. economy expanded at the slowest pace in two years, rising at an anemic 0.5% rate after a 1.4% fourth quarter advance. Not good, and one of the reasons why so many people are angry.

From Investors Business Daily:

Legacy: The same day the 0.5% GDP growth came out, President Obama is quoted in the New York Times saying the country has done “better” than “any large economy on Earth in modern history.” Delusional doesn’t begin to cut it.

The only real problem with the economy, as far as Obama is concerned, is that he hasn’t been selling his successful policies aggressively enough.

“We were moving so fast early on that we couldn’t take victory laps. We couldn’t explain everything we were doing. I mean, one day we’re saving the banks; the next day we’re saving the auto industry; the next day we’re trying to see whether we can have some impact on the housing market,” he told the Times’ Andrew Ross Sorkin.

Investors added that Obama didn’t “save” either industry. His only contribution to the GM and Chrysler bankruptcy process was to protect union interests at taxpayer expense. Dodd-Frank killed many, many community banks. The stimulus was an enormous expense and accomplished nothing at all.

At a townhall meeting in London, Obama was asked about what he wanted his  legacy to be after eight years.

There are things I’m proud of. The basic principle that in a country as wealthy as the United States, every person should have access to high-quality health care that they can afford — that’s something I’m proud of, I believe in. (Applause.) Saving the world economy from a Great Depression — that was pretty good. (Laughter and applause.)

Well, laughter indeed, but no applause. In early days, Obama was hailed as a great communicator. He was even awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for merely talking about peace. As Noah Rothman said today at Commentary:

The image of Obama as the left’s Great Communicator was always a fabrication. Given how often Obama himself has admitted his persuasive skills have failed his supporters, you might think this invention of a center-left media would have long ago been buried. Yet, it remains with us even today. Born out of a wish and unresponsive to falsifying evidence, the idea that Obama was somehow a marvelously successful communicator will probably be with us long after the president leaves office.

Mr. Trump’s foreign policy speech was similarly hailed as strong and wide ranging.  A lot of people believe what Mr. Trump said, and they’re wrong.

Mr. Trump: “NAFTA, as an example, has been a total disaster for the United States and has emptied our states — literally emptied our states of our manufacturing and our jobs.  Not true.

The North American Free Trade Agreement went into force January 1, 1994. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these were the numbers at the end of December in 1993:

  • Manufacturing employment: 16.8 million
  • Labor force participation rate: 66.4%
  • Unemployment rate: 6.5%

These were the numbers at the end of December 2000:

  • Manufacturing employment: 17.2 million
  • Labor force participation rate: 67.0%
  • Unemployment rate: 3.9%

After seven years of NAFTA, unemployment was down, more people were in the labor force, and there were more people who were employed in manufacturing. In year 8 China joined the World Trade Organization, and problems came from that. This is when the drop in trade came. China is not a good economic partner, but the Obama administration is negotiating an investment deal with China. Either they should stop or Congress should stop them. In any case, Mr. Trump is plainly mistaken on his major arguments.




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