American Elephants


A Strong Rebuke to the President of the United States by The Elephant's Child

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On Tuesday the Supreme Court issued a stay that blocked the federal government from implementing a series of far-reaching environmental regulations that essentially crippled the entire coal industry. The rules were issued by the Environmental Protection Agency as part of President Obama’s attempt to force America’s energy sector to reduce their carbon emissions to conform to the administration’s demands.

Once again acting on his “presidential authority,” the president was making laws that would close hundreds of coal-fired power plants, because the president believes that CO2 is a pollutant (it is not) and that CO2 is the cause of global warming (it is not). Mr. Obama was trying to set an example for other countries to do the same, to comply with the unenforceable agreement that came out of the Paris Climate Talks—COP21.

Because of a 5-4 majority on the court, nothing will be done to implement those changes until an appeals court can formally rule on a challenge brought by 27 states, and corporate and industry groups against the EPA. What the Supreme Court has done is to restore some sense of accountability to an agency that has attempted to become a legislative body without any authority to do so.

The appellate courts will now have to give the 27 states the opportunity to make their case. The Supreme Court is not just saving the jobs of coal miners and the economy in several states, but calls attention to the rule of law at a time when the president of the United States has come to believe that he doesn’t have to bother with the consent of Congress. He just rewrites the law and dares the critics to stop him.

That stay will remain in effect through the end of Mr. Obama’s presidency, until the Supreme Court has a chance to hear the case—in 2017 at the earliest. The stay sends the strongest possible signal that the court is prepared to strike down the Clean Power Plan on the merits, assuming the next president doesn’t revoke it.

Not since the court blocked President Harry Truman’s seizure of the steel industry has it so severely rebuked a president’s abuse of power. …

In a ruling two years ago the court held that the EPA couldn’t conjure up authority to make “decisions of vast economic and political significance” absent a clear statement from Congress. Thus, the EPA may have the authority to require power plants to operate more efficiently and to install reasonable emissions-reduction technologies. But nothing authorizes the agency to pick winners (solar, wind) and losers (coal) and order generation to be shifted from one to the other, disrupting billion-dollar industries in the process.

The EPA has been rebuked by the courts repeatedly. In January the House joined the Senate in trying to stop another of Obama’s “power grabs” — the EPA’s attempt to seize control of virtually all waterways across the country. The federal government has used the EPA as its proxy and the Clean Water Act to enact its ideas about controlling privately owned land through the regulation of waterways. This year they extended, without congressional input, their authority through the 1972  Clean Water Act.

The Obama administration excused this attempted appropriation as nothing more than an effort to save the nation’s streams, headwaters, creeks and wetlands from “pollution and degradation.” In reality, the EPA simply wanted to expand its command over such near-waterless features as dry creeks, potholes and puddles . Under this regime, private individuals or businesses would need government permission to do anything on their property that is even remotely related to water — such as digging a drainage ditch — giving Washington sweeping powers over private lands.

A federal judge told the EPA last August that they had gone too far, but they just shrugged and said they would enforce the rule in the 37 states that were not part of the lawsuit. “Administrative Law” is one of those innocuous phrases in which the Left excels, like the substitution of  “extremist” for “terrorist.” But you must pay attention to the real meaning — which is the substitution of agency regulation and presidential orders or directions or memos  for the lawful actions of Congress. As Jonathan Turley, professor of Law at George Washington University said:

“What the president is doing is not one of the dangers
the Framers were concerned about; it is the danger
the Framers were concerned about.”



Social Justice, The Attack on Freedom, and The Drive for Control. by The Elephant's Child

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— Under the United States Constitution, laws are supposed to be made and changed by the legislature, not by the president and his unelected bureaus and agencies and departments. They call laws issued by the president or one of his minions “administrative law,” which sounds innocuous unless you really stop and think about it.

Most presidents, facing defeat at the polls, make an effort to  try for  bipartisanship. Obama does not operate that way. He despises Republicans, and has set all his legal people to work trying to find ways to pass everything he wants on his own authority.

So here we go again. A proposed rule from the Department of Labor would compel businesses to reveal the names of outside attorneys or labor relations consulting firms with whom they contract. Then the consultants and attorneys contracted would be required to publicly disclose all other similar clients and how much they were paid for their services. George Leef says:

There is nothing illegal in contracting with attorneys and consultants who advise management on the legalities of and tactics relating to fending off unionization. But with time running out in the Obama administration to do favors for Big Labor, the Labor Department wants to do as much as it can to deter companies from dealing with such specialists.

The applicable federal law is the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act. That law was catalyzed by the explosive McClellan Committee hearings in 1957-8, which disclosed, as the statute recites, “a number of instances of breach of trust, corruption, disregard for the rights of individual employees, and other failures to observe high standards of responsibility and ethical conduct….” The thrust of the law, therefore, was to increase transparency on the part of both companies and unions.

One provision of the LMRDA requires employers to name consultants they hired who directly spoke to workers, to solve the supposed problem of workers not realizing when they were being sweet-talked by management allies. But the law also includes an exception (Section 203c) for those who simply give advice to the company.

— If you can’t confiscate America’s guns because the public and the Congress won’t approve, there must be another way:  It’s called “Operation Choke Point” which is a Justice Department effort to require, through the FDIC — forcing banks to stop providing financial services to certain industries.

The businesses in ill favor are lawful firearms dealers, payday lenders, escort services and other companies. Justice has encouraged banks to provide services to others like illegal marijuana sales, marijuana shops, abortion clinics, or radical environmental organizations.

Banks find the restrictions onerous, and require extraordinary amounts of due diligence and excessive paperwork. The government  hasn’t been successful at ammunition restrictions, or with false claims about gun shows, so they’re trying a more oblique attack. Congress has passed a bill attempting to end this improper, illegal run-around.

— The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) wants to know just how much you are getting paid. The administration is chasing “Income Inequality” not to make sure that some people are being treated unfairly, but for control.

‘The EEOC announced changes to its required EEO-1 report requiring employers to submit employee W-2 earnings and hours worked. All employers with at least 100 employees would be required to comply. EEOC and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) would jointly have access to the data for enforcement purposes.”

“Pay data will be reported in 12 pay bands (e.g. pay band 5 is $39,000 – $49,000) and by race, ethnicity, sex and job category (e.g. 13 black female professionals in pay band 5).”

The Obama Progressives talk equality, but they mean equality for the hoi-polloi  (which is you and me). They don’t mean themselves — such a big mass of hoi-polloi would require skilled administrators and executives and rulers to whom such pedestrian social justice laws do not apply.

Republicans talk about Big Government, and this is what they mean, but they are quite guilty themselves in sending their laws on to agencies and bureaus and commissions to administer. It will take a very able and experienced president who understands the problem of administrative law, and is willing to fight to do something about it.

You mostly don’t slip into Socialism and lose your freedom and autonomy overnight, it’s a long process, and you wake up one morning and it’s gone.



Politicians Dream and Create Nightmares for Businessmen by The Elephant's Child

McGovern
A little history: George McGovern was a Senator from South Dakota. After college, he became a bomber pilot in the Air Force in World War II, then got a PhD in History and became a professor. In 1957 he became a U.S. Congressman, and then a Senator in 1967. He ran a grassroots campaign for the presidency in 1972, and lost in the biggest landslide in history, winning only Massachusetts and the District of Columbia. He retired from the Senate in 1981 after a long and distinguished career.

He spent several years on public lectures around the world, for he was an expert in world food problems, and in 1988, invested most of the earnings from the lecture circuit acquiring the leasehold on Connecticut’s Stratford Inn. He had always been fascinated with Inns, hotels and restaurants, and it was “the realization of a lifelong dream to own an Inn with a restaurant and public conference facility, complete with an experienced manager and staff.”

He promptly went bankrupt, and in 1992 he wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal, headed with a quotation from Justice Felix Frankfurter:

Wisdom too often never comes, and so one ought
not to reject it merely because it comes late.

In retrospect, I wish I had known more about the hazards and difficulties of such a business, especially during a recession of the kind that hit New England just as I was acquiring the inn’s 43-year leasehold. I also wish that during the years I was in public office, I had had this firsthand experience about the difficulties business people face every day. That knowledge would have made me a better U.S. senator and a more understanding presidential contender.

Today we are much closer to a general acknowledgment that government must encourage business to expand and grow. Bill Clinton, Paul Tsongas, Bob Kerrey and others have, I believe, changed the debate of our party. We intuitively know that to create job opportunities we need entrepreneurs who will risk their capital against an expected payoff. Too often, however, public policy does not consider whether we are choking off those opportunities.

My own business perspective has been limited to that small hotel and restaurant in Stratford, Conn., with an especially difficult lease and a severe recession. But my business associates and I also lived with federal, state and local rules that were all passed with the objective of helping employees, protecting the environment, raising tax dollars for schools, protecting our customers from fire hazards, etc. While I never have doubted the worthiness of any of these goals, the concept that most often eludes legislators is: “Can we make consumers pay the higher prices for the increased operating costs that accompany public regulation and government reporting requirements with reams of red tape.” It is a simple concern that is nonetheless often ignored by legislators.

The article was truly notable, for it was a pretty big  admission from a devout liberal that legislators didn’t have a clue about business. “One-size-fits-all” rules ignore the reality of the marketplace, and the thresholds they set for ‘regulatory guidelines’  don’t fit the reality of how business works.

Congressional Democrats may have had a few moments of reconsideration, but they quickly went right back to their comfortable, traditional  way of despising business and businessmen and trying to extract more taxes from the affluent in order to make everything more equal and more “fair.”

Senator McGovern died in 2012 at the age of 90.



The Role of the Press Is Supposed to Be Reporting by The Elephant's Child

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Carly Fiorina, if you remember, did so well in the “undercard” debates that she moved up into the main debate — two debates ago — and she did well, though she remarked that people were just getting to know her, which was true. At that point, she ceased to exist. She appeared as an effective candidate, and I thought she seemed a potential Margaret Thatcher, and wanted to know more about her.

But she disappeared from public notice. She was busy campaigning, and appeared on some radio shows, notably Hugh Hewitt’s, but there was not a mention of her in the mainstream media. With no buzz about her candidacy, she became invisible. The media had apparently determined that since Hillary was running as “the first woman.” she did not need any female competition, particularly competition from someone so competent that she made Hillary look bad, and not only that, but who expressed her eagerness to debate Hillary.

That’s what the left-leaning press does. Invisible and with no mention in the press, interest waned, and it was back to the undercard debate. That’s the media exerting their influence over the outcome of an election. The Trump attention evolved into overkill, and people realized what was going on.

Hillary, they say, is the most qualified candidate in the campaign. Depends on what you mean by “qualified.” She has had a number of important titles, but a singular lack of specific accomplishment in any of the occupations. Her jobs have been a succession of scandals from Whitewater to Benghazi to jeopardizing national security and the lives of the people who make our nation secure — with an attempt to hide all of her correspondence from public view. Why? No one knows.



The Racial Protests Aren’t About What You Think They Are! by The Elephant's Child

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In a recent CBS News Special, correspondent Lee Cowan asked the president if, in spite of his promises to be the great uniter, the degree of anger and disagreement was a reflection on his tenure in the White House.  President Obama responded:

The one thing that gnaws on me is the degree of continued polarization. This has gotten worse over the last several years. And I think that in those early months, my expectation was that we could pull the parties together a little more effectively.

“Cowan then asked the president,’Do you wish in hindsight that maybe campaigning on that notion of changing the tone in Washington, do you wish you hadn’t campaigned as hard on that promise?'”

“That’s what the American people believe, and that’s what I still believe,” Obama said, jumping right back into his old ways.” (In other words, don’t blame me)

Ah yes, that is why Obama is governing by executive order so he doesn’t have to engage with Congress, and endure their disagreement. An election is coming up, and black voters might not come out since Obama is no longer on the ballot. It’s necessary for the community organizer-in-chief to stir things up a little. Starting with Ferguson, Missouri, we were told that George Soros was funding organizers to enliven the riots. Organizers from Ferguson went on to Baltimore to make sure there actually were riots.

The reason Mizzou students did not want the media taking pictures was because there were Ferguson and Occupy activists there giving them counsel. The issue is never the issue — the issue is always the revolution. Obama promised us that he intended to fundamentally change the United States of America — we just didn’t understand what he meant.

Breitbart News examined  Twitter accounts in Columbia, Missouri, and found individuals from #Black Lives Matter, who traveled from Ferguson to Baltimore, and Charleston. SC and published photos of them meeting with Student Body President Payton Head.

Paul Sperry explains how Obama is bankrolling a nonstop protest against “invented outrage,” and he’s doing it through Organizing for Action, (formerly Obama’s campaign organization Obama for America) He claims that OFA has trained more than 10,000 leftist organizers, who in turn are training more than 2 million youth in Alinsky street action. “The leftist group, which recently registered as a 501c4 nonprofit eligible for unlimited contributions, holds regular ‘organizing summits’ on college campuses.” And there’s ACORN as well.

Through social media, they mobilize flash mobs against “biased cops,” “climate-change deniers,” “Wall Street predators” and “gun extremists.” They hold rallies against conservative foes of gay marriage, LGBT rights, abortion and amnesty for illegal immigrants.

The president has egged on the #Black Lives Matter protesters and invited the founder to the White House, he assured the Occupy Wall Street protesters that he was on their side. But there is much less racism today, and there are fewer and fewer real targets. “Even professors, deans and chancellors who worship at the altar of diversity and multiculturalism are enduring their wrath, poetically suffering intolerances in the name of tolerance.”

But actions have consequences. The violent protests against the police have meant that police are more reluctant to go into poor black neighborhoods. Police across the country are having trouble finding recruits. Obama is releasing thousands of “non-violent” drug dealers from prison, numbers of them  who were armed when arrested — but they are “non-violent.”

At the Hoover Institution, James Huffman explores “The Real Cause of Campus Racism.” Colleges and Universities have made race and racial differences central to almost everything they do. And to make matters worse, those who accredit our universities make attention to race in admissions and programming a condition of accreditation. (This is an important and challenging essay, do read the whole thing.)

The University of Missouri, where the campus follies started, believed it could win the hearts and minds of black students by throwing its president to the racial protesters. But actions do indeed have consequences. Freshman applications are down 5% from the previous year and graduate student applications have plunged 19%. Pandering would seem to be a failure.

Even Victor Davis Hanson has noticed that polls confirm that Obama is the most polarizing president in recent memory — in a column titled “Still Polarizing After All These Years.” Dr. Hanson summarized the president’s divisiveness over his long seven years in office.  It is an ugly picture.

Obama has lost his party the Congress and most of the state legislatures. He has destroyed the centrist wing of the Democratic Party, and made his media apologists into caricatures of ministry of information megaphones. Obama ushered in an unprecedented any-means-necessary government amorality. Lois Lerner, a politicized IRS and a defunct ICE are its dividends. The secretary of Defense—four so far—is now a cabinet post designed to spawn after-office tell-all indictments of Obama. Scandals are normal now at the VA, IRS, NSA, ATF, EPA, and GSA, and from the AP surveillance and Solyndra to the Benghazi video-did-it talking points. The administration has reduced once-cherished departments such as the Secret Service, State Department, Justice Department and NASA into caricatures of incompetency.



It’s Not About Clean Water. Another Big Lie From the EPA. by The Elephant's Child

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The House has joined with the Senate in voting to overturn the EPA’s attempt to extend their control of “navigable waters” to every creek, stream, ditch and trickle to exert control over privately owned land across the United States.

The EPA has been acting with Congressional authority over “navigable waterways” since the 1972 Clean Water Act became law. Earlier this year they extended without any input from Congress their “clean water rule” as authority to control dry creeks, potholes and puddles. The intent was that private individuals or businesses would require government permission to do anything on their own property that was remotely related to water — like digging a drainage ditch, for example —that would give Washington sweeping powers over private land.

A federal judge told the EPA in August that it had gone too far, but the EPA shrugged and said they would continue to impose the rule in the 37 states that were not part of the lawsuit.

House Speaker Paul Ryan called the EPA’s attempted rule a “power grab’ last Wednesday —the day the House voted 253-166, with the support of 12 Democrats to overturn the rule. It is the same resolution that was passed by the Senate in November. Now it will go to President Obama’s desk. He will undoubtedly veto the bill.

I’m not sure just when the current crop of Democrats decided that they could be Socialists without actually using the name — by controlling everything with regulation instead of owning the means of production. They are, however, well on their way to extend a web of federal power over everything, including private property.

I don’t know how the Navajos’ lawsuits against the EPA are proceeding over the agency’s toxic spill into the waters that serve the Navajo Nation for drinking water, irrigation and stock feed, but it is simply further proof that the EPA’s efforts are just a power grab, and have nothing to do with clean water — nothing at all.



If He Were a CEO, He Would Have Been Fired a Long Time Ago! by The Elephant's Child

recessionThe Great Obama Recession continues. Fourth Quarter growth was anemic, expanding at only a 0.7% seasonally adjusted annualized rate in the fourth quarter of 2015.  That’s weak, really weak. From the end of World War II, the economy grew at an average annual rate of 3.5%, through thick and thin.

The Labor Department reported 292,000 new net jobs in December, but the U.S. labor force participation rate has been declining for more than five years. Only 62.6 percent of the labor force is actually employed. In a study published last month University of Chicago economist Casey Mulligan concludes that American safety-net programs changed significantly, in ways that discouraged employment. Unemployment insurance became more generous in several ways. Eligibility rules for food stamps were reduced, waivers from work requirements were granted, and the monthly benefit amount was increased.

In Britain, labor force participation stayed flat throughout the downturn, and it increased for 25 to 54 year olds. In the U.S. labor force participation for ages25 to 54 dropped 3,1 percentage points. The difference was that Britain cut tax rates on income and consumption to encourage low income individuals to work. The American stimulus reduced the incentives to be employed.

Work is important. Only 3% of working-age adults who work full time, year around, are in poverty. Democrats govern most of the major American cities, and they have been increasing their spending significantly. Without the ability to increase their spending much more, they have turned to regulation. By regulating how businesses conduct themselves, who they can hire, what they must provide — they are turning the progressive agenda into a regulatory agenda.

During the 1990s, conservative ideas had a profound and lasting influence on welfare policy, policing, and K–12 public education. Cities that had appeared to be in a death spiral only years before began to see their populations stabilize and even start growing again. Republican mayors such as Steven Goldsmith in Indianapolis, New York City’s Rudolph Giuliani, and Los Angeles’s Richard Riordan gained national renown for their successes. Welfare rolls fell dramatically without the corresponding rise in poverty predicted by liberal doomsayers. Crime rates plummeted. School choice gained broad support throughout low-income minority neighborhoods.

Republican inability to explain what had happened, capitalize on the drop in crime and the popularity of charter schools, led to the reelection of Progressive mayors. The rise in convicted criminals was blamed on racism, not as the cause of the drop in crime. (See Butterfield Fallacy) Progressives aren’t spending in a big way because they don’t have the money. Paying city workers, mostly unionized, and pensions means there’s not enough left for anything else.

Work is Important. To quote Thomas Sowell:

It was Thomas Edison who brought us electricity, not the Sierra Club. It was the Wright brothers who got us off the ground, not the Federal Aviation Administration. It was Henry Ford who ended the isolation of millions of Americans by making the automobile affordable, not Ralph Nader.

Those who have helped the poor the most have not been those who have gone around loudly expressing “compassion” for the poor, but those who found ways to make industry more productive and distribution more efficient, so that the poor of today can afford things that the affluent of yesterday could only dream about.

 




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