American Elephants


The EPA Is A Lawless, Rogue Agency That Should Be Abolished. by The Elephant's Child

unofficial-stream-small-custom-e1339556645568We have complained about Congress’ inclination to pass a broad law and turn the clarifying, defining and rulemaking functions over to a federal agency. That’s not quite fair, except in the case of the Clean Water Act (CWA).

The Clean Water Act regulates the discharge of pollution into navigable waters. Rather than limit the definition of “navigable waters” to mean waters that are interstate and navigable in fact—the Clean Water Act broadens the definition of “navigable waters” so as to include non-navigable waters in order to give federal regulators a greater degree of environmental oversight. It was passed in 1972, with some specific exclusions, and has been a fairly steady source of litigation ever since.

In 2006, in Rapanos v. United States, four left-leaning justices ruled that there are no limits on federal jurisdiction. Four right-leaning justices ruled that federal jurisdiction is limited to “relatively permanent, standing, or continuously flowing bodies of water forming geographic features.” One justice (Kennedy) wrote that a water or wetland constitutes “navigable waters” under the Act if it possesses a “significant nexus” to waters that are navigable in fact or that could reasonably be so made.  You see the problem.

In May of this year, the EPA and the USACE (the Army Corps of Engineers) interpreted the Rapanos decision in the broadest fashion they could and promulgated the “Waters of the United States” rule, supposedly to clarify federal jurisdiction.

  • The EPA colluded with environmental special interests at the Sierra Club to manipulate the public comment period, in possible violation of federal anti-lobbying laws, as reported by The New York Times.
  • Also, the EPA ignored state input during the public comment period, in blatant contravention of the principles of cooperative federalism established by the Clean Water Act.

It’s all based on the term “significant nexus,” and ephemeral streams were added to federal jurisdiction, so all the feds have to do is claim jurisdiction—ant the argument can be made that everything is connected. Including ponds, ditches and puddles.

Fast forward to last Thursday August 27: a federal judge in North Dakota blocked the new Obama administration rule that would  the federal government jurisdiction over some state waterways.give

U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson of North Dakota issued a temporary injunction against the rule, which gives the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers authority to protect some streams, tributaries and wetlands under the Clean Water Act. The rule was scheduled to take effect Friday.

“The risk of irreparable harm to the states is both imminent and likely,” Erickson said in blocking the rule from taking effect.

Thirteen states led by North Dakota were involved in the lawsuit: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, South Dakota and Wyoming.

August 28, Headline, Fox News: “EPA says clean water rule in effect despite court ruling” (Heather MacDonald: “lawlessness breeds lawlessness”) Apparently— never mind the federal court, we’re going to do what want! The EPA says the rule will safeguard drinking water for millions of Americans. Well, of course you have noticed the millions of Americans dropping dead from drinking puddle water and ditch water. The American Farm Bureau has declared war. Lawsuits to block the regulation are pending across the country, Congress has moved to thwart it, The White House has threatened to veto.  Opposition, however comes from both parties, businesses and most states.

The EPA has become known as an out-of-control rogue agency, and is probably the most hated agency in the government— though that designation may be up for grabs. When the head of the executive branch makes law on his own, ignores laws at his pleasure, and in general ignores his sacred oath, the agencies under his direction do the same. “Lawlessness breeds lawlessness.”

In the wake of the Gold King Mine spill of 3 or more million gallons of  toxic mine tailings into the Animus River, turning the river a nasty mustard color, the EPA is undoubtedly anxious to get news about their agency out of the nation’s consciousness.Bad timing. Now that the toxic waters have progressed to Lake Powell and past, the media has quietly dropped the daily pictures—just as they are about to reach Grand Canyon National Park. There is a limit to the amount of bad news an agency can cope with.



Things Aren’t Going Well for Hillary, and She’s Getting Mean. by The Elephant's Child

hillary clintonBack when she was a United States senator, Hillary stated “I am , you know, adamantly against illegal immigrants.” She also called for the creation of a national entry/exit ID card to keep track of people who’ve been admitted to the country legally—and maybe not just those people. “Although I’m not a big fan of it, we might have to move towards an ID system even for citizens.”

Well, that was then, this is now—Hillary’s effort to appeal to Hispanics is to compare Republicans to Nazis. Name the issue, and Hillary’s been on both sides of it at one time or another. She has wanted to be president—the first woman president—ever since she tried to be co-president with Bill, and the people had to tell her that she was not elected.

What is inordinately depressing about that is that in the intervening 19 years she has not done any real thinking about the state of the republic and what good governance consists of. Nor did her sojourn in the Senate show any evidence that she had thought long and hard about being an effective senator, nor did she as Secretary of State.

Our chief ambassador to the world departed from that office bragging about her air-miles, and trying to pass off the people’s demand to know why four Americans died at Benghazi as some kind of Republican political attack.  “And I hope that this will be the last effort by some in the Congress to politicize the tragic events of Benghazi. And that we do what all the other investigations, both the congressional ones and the independent one, and press—and others who have examined this—we will do what we can to make sure it doesn’t happen again. And that’s always been my focus.” Uh huh.

Just before that, she was calling republicans “terrorists.””As well she should have. If the pen is mightier than the sword, the modern digital video camera and the associated editing suite is a thermonuclear warhead, and the Internet is an ICBM traveling at the speed of light. CMP’s investigation was deceitful — it was sneaky as all hell, in fact — and it was excellent journalism, the sort of thing that would win a Pulitzer prize if the Pulitzer committee weren’t manned by the gutless and the intellectually dishonest.” (That’s from Kevin Williamson)

Now, extreme views about women, we expect that from some of the terrorist groups, we expect that from people who don’t want to live in the modern world, but it’s a little hard to take from Republicans who want to be President of the United States, yet espouse out of date, out of touch policies. They are dead wrong for 21st century for America. We are going forward. We are not going back. (David French)

And sending off boxes of baby heads in the mail is just so 21st century, Hillary? Well, perhaps it is. That’s how ISIS actually trains their children—to decapitate their dolls and stuffed animals—before they graduate to the real thing. Perhaps you should learn to distinguish between those who disagree with you and the real terrorist thing. It’s helpful if you are making policy proposals.



A Few Practical Words on Immigration by The Elephant's Child

From Hillsdale College’s Imprimus:
“Practical Thoughts on Immigration”
by Heather MacDonald

The lesson from the last 20 years of immigration policy is that lawlessness breeds more lawlessness. Once a people or a government decides to normalize one form of lawbreaking, other forms of lawlessness will follow until finally the rule of law itself is in profound jeopardy. Today, we have a constitutional crisis on our hands. President Obama has decided that because Congress has not granted amnesty to millions of illegal aliens living in the U.S., he will do it himself. Let us ponder for a moment just how shameless this assertion of power is.

Article 2, Section 3, of the Constitution mandates that the president “shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” This provision assumes that there is a law for the president to execute. But in this case, the “problem” that Obama is purporting to fix is the absence of a law granting amnesty to millions of illegal aliens. Rather than executing a law, Obama is making one up—arrogating to himself a function that the Constitution explicitly allocates to Congress. Should this unconstitutional power grab stand, we will have moved very far in the direction of rule by dictator. Pace Obama. the absence of a congressional law granting amnesty is not evidence of political failure that must somehow be corrected by unilateral executive action; it is evidence of the lack of popular consensus regarding amnesty. There has been no amnesty statute to date because the political will for such an amnesty is lacking.

Imprimus is a free monthly publication from Hillsdale College. Hillsdale also offers free online courses. (online.hillsdale.edu)



Affordable? Not So Much. Some Big Hikes. by The Elephant's Child

Conservatives have always giggled at the title chosen for ObamaCare — “the Affordable Care Act” — because having observed all the tricks and mandates crammed in, knew it was going to be increasingly unaffordable. And so it is. State Insurance Commissioners are beginning to report in.

Obama said at a July town hall in Nashville, Tennessee that he expected premiums to come in significantly lower than what’s being requested. He added that Tennesseans had to work to ensure the state’s insurance commissioner “does their job in not just passively reviewing the rates, but really asking, “O.K, what is it that you are looking for here? Why would you need very high premiums?”

The Tennessee commissioner, Julie Mix McPeak responded on Friday by approving the full 36.3% increase sought by the biggest health plan in the state, BlueCrossBlueShield of Tennessee. She said the insurer demonstrated that the hefty increase was needed to cover higher than expected claims from sick people who signed up for individual policies in the first two years of the Affordable Care Act.

Oregon’s Laura Call allowed an average 25.6% increase for that state’s biggest plan. In Ohio, it was 14.5%, in Michigan, 11.4%.

Democrats typically add mandates designed to make particular groups like the plan, then are astonished to find that it costs a lot more. Do remember that the Affordable Care Act was passed without a single Republican vote because Republicans thought it would not work and would soon become unaffordable. They just had no idea that it would happen quite so soon.

NA-CG949_PREMIU_16U_20150826182707

Some plans offered low rates for the first and second year eager to  capture new business. Others simply found that business was more expensive than expected. Some programs designed to cushion insurers  against high risk participants are ending. Some state commissioners have not yet reported their decisions, or completed their analysis.



Crime is Surging, Activists Should Be Careful What They Wish For. by The Elephant's Child

ows_140641963894859“Everett D. Mitchell is the Director of Community Relations at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.  He is also an attorney, pastor and community leader.”

At a recent panel discussion, addressing policing practices, Mr. Mitchell said that police should stop prosecuting individuals who shoplift from Wal-Mart and Target.

He simply believes that police have no justification to arrest thieves who steal from Wal-Mart or Target—because they are big box stores with insurance.

“I just don’t think they should be prosecuting cases for people who steal from Wal-Mart. I don’t think that. I don’t think that Target, and all them other places – the big boxes that have insurance – they shouldn’t be using the people that steal from there as justification to start engaging in aggressive police behavior.”

He began his speech advocating for legal relativism, the notion that communities should decide for themselves which laws should be enforced and which laws should not, in order to better recognize what safety means for that specific community.

There are some poor neighborhoods that are largely black, where drugs and crime are a major problem. Drug use and drug sales bring more crime, and gangs. High crime can foster drug use. Single parents have a harder time of bringing up kids and keeping them out of trouble. If one lives in such a neighborhood, and friends’ brothers or husbands are in jail, friends have gone to prison—it would be easy to assume that it was aggressive police behavior, not misbehavior by your friends or relatives.

In the wake of the Ferguson riots, the “hands up, don’t shoot”cry of activists gradually died out when it became clear that wasn’t even true. The new slogan became “Black Lives Matter,” which is having a poisonous effect on the very neighborhoods where the protests are taking place.

Police become afraid of arresting a suspect if they will be accused of racism or improper policing. Contrary to Mr. Mitchell’s views, stealing from Wal-Mart is against the law just as much as stealing from a bank. But if smaller crimes are not dealt with, criminal behavior increases.

Rudy Giuliani cleaned up a dangerous and crime-ridden New York City by adhering to what is called the “Broken Windows Theory.” If a parked car has broken windows and they are not repaired, it will soon be stripped because it is assumed that it is abandoned and nobody cares. Ditto buildings. When police cracked down on the small stuff, the squeegee men, the litter, and the disorder, with walking neighborhood patrols, people felt safer and things improved, even if the crime rate didn’t immediately drop.

The temptation is to assume that police are the problem, and if they can just get rid of the police and policing they will be safer. All police are not perfect, but they take on what is often a dangerous job of protecting the citizens in their jurisdiction. If police are badly treated,  their orders ignored, or if police are attacked, the activists may get what they want, and quickly come to regret what they have lost. Police are only human, and way too many are killed in the line of duty.



Hillary’s Troubles Grow, Her Poll Numbers Decline. by The Elephant's Child

140611-hillary_clinton_cantor-1246_b389bd4261f2ead53ddd871648b90ba8The speculation about Joe Biden’s entering the race has been heightened by his meeting at the Naval Observatory, with Senator Elizabeth Warren. It has undoubtedly caused some consternation in the Clinton campaign. Hillary has been doing her best to laugh off the notion that her email scandal is harming her chances of getting elected president. Bill could carry off that kind of good-ol’ -boy, lovable rogue kind of thing, but Hillary can’t.  She is not a good campaigner. Her speeches come across as lectures from Nurse Ratchet. Her jokes are lame — the one about Snapchat messages deleting themselves, and wiping her home server with a cloth — just fall flat.

Declining poll numbers, and even her disastrous press conference last week in which she arrogantly dismissed questions about her email problems haven’t disrupted the fact that she remains, so far, the odds-on favorite to win the Democratic nomination. She’s reached back to blame it all once again on “the vast right-wing conspiracy.” but that really won’t work this time.

The emails and the private server, the tiny operation in Colorado she hired to manage the server or servers — are serious threats to national security. “Our ridiculous classification rules” are the real problem.”

Hillary Clinton
@HillaryClinton

………..
From a former @TheJusticeDept official: “Our ridiculous classification rules” are the real problem: http://hrc.io/1UXaWd7
5:13 AM – 21 Aug 2015

 Former intelligence and military officials were quick to reply Friday to Hillary’s contention the government over-classification of materials are “the real problem.”

It’s not up to her to decide what level it’s classified at. It’s up to her to obey the law, and clearly she did not,” Lt. Col. Col James Williamson told The Daily Caller News Foundation. Williamson entered Special Forces in 1988 and retired in 2012.

Brig. Gen. Kenneth Berquist said “she jeopardized every piece of information that went across her private server line. This is a very good example of how her ‘inconvenience’ put us at risk in the United States.”

Berquist added that “this is hubris. This is an example where people say, ‘I don’t play by the rules.’”

Berquist is a former CIA intelligence officer who was hand-picked by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as the first president of the Joint Special Operations University, which trains intermediate and senior commanders in special operations. He also served as special operations staff director for the U.S. Central Command during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

Jennifer Palmeri, Clinton campaign communications director, said that at the end of summer, Clinton will provide the public with more information about how federal records are classified, and she will turn her focus to more important issues like the Iran nuclear deal, the economy and women’s issues, and she will “go on offense” on her record as secretary of state.

Good luck with that. Clearly, Hillary really doesn’t get the seriousness of the problem, or she has assumed that the rules don’t apply to her.

[Petraeus] was tarred, feathered and ridden out of the CIA on a rail for sharing some information (his own notebook) with his biographer who was both in the military and had a top secret clearance. Yet, Petraeus did not have a secret server set up to house his classified and top secret information or digital satellite imagery; he destroyed nothing; and, there was no “leak.”

Over 300 emails from a small sampling of the Clinton emails have been judged classified. The tech firm she hired to deal with her server has no security clearance, her lawyer has a security clearance, but allowed staff to handle her correspondence and copy secure matters. The government permitted Clinton to use a private server, ignored the matter for months, allowed her attorney’s office staff to handle sensitive emails. People have lost jobs, paid enormous fines, been disgraced and gone to jail for lesser matters. The investigation would not be continuing without Obama’s approval.



Big Complex Problems Aren’t Usually Solved with Quick and Simple Answers by The Elephant's Child

140403_042214_oim_d504_246_0Donald Trump has put the immigration issue back on top of the table by recognizing just how angry Americans are at Obama’s executive rewrite of our immigration laws all on his own. The images of trainloads of Central American illegal immigrants riding on top of box cars, of tattooed members of Mara Salvatrucha gangs among the illegals, quarantines of hundreds of young illegals are bad enough, but when American citizens are murdered by illegals who have been deported several times, but go to sanctuary cities to avoid being deported again, it’s just too much.

The Obama administration, again by “executive authority” has sent the flood of illegals all over the country, including Alaska and Hawaii, presumably to register them to vote in the next election. To remind Obama-shoes-3them who let them in, they passed out Obama shoes, with an image of Obama printed inside.

Trump said “A nation without borders is not a nation, There must be a wall across the southern border.” The border is 2,000 miles long. The Israeli border fence has sensors and the IDF can be there in minutes. The Egyptians are building a fence in three layers including trenches and all sorts of sensors. I think it’s the Bulgarians (though that’s from a faulty memory) that have put up a 3-layer, very tall razor-wire fence that so far no one has breached. Europe is overcome with refugees from the murderous chaos in the Middle East. Australia’s coast guard makes it clear that no one is going to land in Australia uninvited.

It’s not that simple. The Fourteenth Amendment has been deemed by the courts to decree that any child born in the United States is automatically a citizen. The Immigration crowd cries that any objection to “anchor babies” is racist. In the winter of 2013, Russian Billionaire Roman Abramovich brought Eclipse, his 533 feet long, 13,000 ton, billion dollar  yacht into a dock at Manhattan’s pier 90 for what turned out to be a 3-month-long stay. In early April, Darya Zhukova, Abramovich’s girl friend gave birth to a girl named Leah. The cost of their stay has been estimated at $500,000 a week, to give the child an American birth certificate, as her older sister also has.

There are 4,422,660 people on the legal immigrant visa waiting list, according to the State Department’s annual tally. This is 100,000 more than at the same time last year. Ninety-eight percent of those waiting have been sponsored by a U.S. family member. This list does not include those already in the country who are waiting to adjust from a legal temporary status to a green card. The waiting lists are needed because the number of immigrants who can be admitted in certain family and employment categories, and because of caps on the number who can come from each country. The waiting time in the families category varies from 19 months to 33 years.

Manufacturing is not in decline. We are manufacturing more than ever, but we are doing it with fewer people (think robots and computers) which are responsible for big productivity gains. Don’t blame China or Mexico for job-losses. According to the San Francisco Fed the total share of “made in China” goods in U.S. household consumption is just 1.9 percent.

DHS has been releasing illegal immigrants with violent criminal records back into local U.S. communities, where they have often committed violent crimes. Rep, Matt Salmon  (R-AZ) and law enforcement officials have petitioned the Obama administration on Wednesday to stop freeing violent criminals who are in our country illegally. There has been the beating of a 7-week old baby, and the immolation of a person.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement under current law can no longer legally hold the three individuals,” ICE press secretary Gillian Christensen said. “To further promote public safety and transparency, ICE notified local law enforcement agencies of the release of the individuals.”

In 2013, ICE freed 36,007 illegal aliens with criminal convictions across the nation, according to statistics compiled by Arizona law enforcement. At least 193 of those aliens released were convicted of homicides, 426 were convicted of sex crimes, and 303 convicted of kidnapping.

Trump says it’s a big problem, and he will fix it. He does not mention how this will be done, or talk about the complexity of the problems. But calling attention to the immigration problems will help to expose what the Obama administration is currently doing.




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