American Elephants

Nothing is What it Seems to Be, All is Illusion. Crying Out for Reality. by The Elephant's Child

The story behind the dead small child, as so much from the Middle East, is not what it seems. I don’t know that it matters. The picture has served its purpose, as did the photo of the naked little girl running from napalm down a road in Vietnam. Iconic.

The hordes of Syrian refugees also seem to be other than were presumed. The Associated Press reports discarded documents from Pakistan, Iraq, Bangladesh. They claim to be escaping the horrors of the Syrian civil war, but they don’t have documents, or they have new Syrian documents and they claim their birthdays are all January 1st. Trafficking in fake Syrian passports has increased. Are they really refugees or simply fleeing poverty and looking for a better life, on the European welfare state. If it is only that, their asylum will be rejected, which is why so many are discarding their real identity cards.

Discontented people often pick up and move. Americans are perhaps more sympathetic than most because that is part of our national heritage. We are a nation of people who have picked up and moved here, as the “native” Americans came from Siberia, and some from Spain and England, and all the rest.

Since we have always been more aware than others of our origins, we have made becoming an American a more formal and final undertaking than most other nations do. You  apply for a visa, and wait an in terminally long time, and eventually you are allowed to take citizenship classes and learn how to become an American. Oddly enough, part of the citizenship oath was promising to serve your new nation in the military, if called upon. Obama has used an executive order to remove that part of the oath. Once you become a citizen — that’s it. You are as much American as those whose ancestors arrived in the Winthrop fleet.

But that didn’t end it. We moved across the Appalachians and then on west, up the wide Missouri and on across the Rockies.  The Okies fled the Dust Bowl and went to California. Now Californians are fleeing high taxes and overregulation and heading back the other way.

What is clear is that Europe’s attempt to become something other than a continent of quarreling nations by creating a European constitution of sorts and a central European government isn’t working out. Countries have identities and histories and languages. Those that have had distinctly separate identities have split apart in acts of what you might call tribalism. Czechoslovakia is not a single country anymore. The map of Europe has constantly shifted through the ages. Aside from conquest, we seem to be tribal peoples. We like to be with our own kind, however we define that.

Yet that is a human characteristic that the Left is trying mightily to strike out. “Diversity” has become a major aim. Colleges and universities have diversity departments, and directives. Corporations have diversity officers in their human resource departments. Unfortunately they are diversifying color, ethnic origin, gender and sexual orientation by the numbers. Any group of people is scanned for visible diversity and urged to correct improper numbers, yet that really isn’t the kind of diversity that is important.

The Obama administration, having screwed up everything else they have attempted, now believe that if they can just put enough poor people into rich neighborhoods, then the poor will learn how not to be poor by sharing the same schools and retail establishments  as their wealthier neighbors.  They are sure that once everybody is equal…

And they never, never learn.

When Talking Immigration, Ususally No Two People Are Talking About The Same Thing. by The Elephant's Child

pic_embed920_042815_SM_Amnesty-Rally-GThe biggest problem with writing about the immigration issue is usually that no two people are actually talking about the same thing. There are those who look benignly on the issue and proclaim that immigrants have greatly benefitted the United States, ‘melting pot’ and all that. And they are absolutely correct.

The assumption is that our illegal immigrant problem is located on our southern border and entirely Hispanic. Pundits have made fun of Governor Scott Walker for suggesting that there is a problem with our border in Canada. We may be annoyed with Mexico at present, but we love Canadians.

Walker is quite correct. There is a different, much less publicized form of illegal immigrant coming in from Canada. U.S, Customs and Border Protection  (CPB) has apprehended border jumpers from Albania, The Czech Republic, Israel and India. The downturn in our employment numbers has had the benefit of lowering the incentive to try to get in. They cross the waterways by boat, jet ski or by swimming, and Wisconsin is on the border.

There are H1B immigrants. Obama has granted their wives permission to take jobs. The August jobs report came in with only 173,000 new jobs, and only 62.6 percent of working age Americans actually working. Disney not only fired their tech workers — to be replaced by H1B immigrants, but forced them to train their replacements or lose their severance pay.

We  have illegal aliens marching in the streets with signs proclaiming that “No Human Being Is Illegal,” which is a fatuous statement. According to Merriam Webster: il•le•gal (adj.) not allowed by law, or not according to or authorized by law. Simple clear definition. No racial or ethnic prejudice is involved. Alien (noun) a person who was born in different country and is not a citizen of the country in which he now lives. A foreign born resident who has not been naturalized and is still a subject or citizen of a foreign country. The illegal-immigration lobby has banned the term ” illegal alien.”

There is an assumption by some that illegal aliens are here because they want to be Americans. Yet, in 2001 Christopher Jenks reported that “Roughly 10 % of the American population now speaks Spanish at home.”

Many Mexicans…see themselves as sojourners who will return home once they have made some money. The typical Mexican male earns about half what a non-Latino white earns, so if he compares himself to other Americans he is likely to feel like a failure. But if he compares himself to the Mexicans with whom he grew up, he is likely to feel quite successful. So he clings to his Mexican identity, sends money back to his parents, goes home for holidays with gifts that his relatives could not otherwise afford, tries to buy property in Mexico for his retirement, and retains his Mexican citizenship.

Victor Davis Hanson writes in an important column about some of the current problems. Do read the whole thing.

“Mexico and Central American nations receive $50 billion a year in remittances from their expatriate citizens in the United States. But if illegal aliens were impoverished and exploited as their home countries alleged, how could they transfer such monumental sums back home — and why would not their mother countries worry about the ensuing burdens placed upon their low-wage-earning citizens abroad?”

“Then the myth arose that criminality among illegal aliens was in fact lower that found in the general population, as if it mattered not at all that a quarter of all federal prisoners were in the United States illegally, or that some states reported that more than a fourth of their felonies were attributable to illegal aliens, or that around 20,000 illegal aliens from south of the border were routinely incarcerated in California prisons alone. Completely lost in the back and forth was the old notion that an immigrant, legal or illegal, was supposed to be a guest, whose behavior should be the model, rather than defended as no worse than those whom he joined.”

The State Department only occasionally releases numbers of people on the waiting list for family based immigration. In 2009, they reported that more than 2.7 million people were awaiting interviews overseas for their immigrant visa. There were also another 2.7 million waiting in the United States for USCIS to process their family visa application. Visa demand at that time was more than 20 times what our law allows in annual visa issuances. That’s for family members of legal immigrants.

Canada and Australia limit their numbers of immigrants roughly as Harvard and Stanford limit their admissions. They have many applicants and see no reason why they should not admit only those most qualified and most likely to be of the most value to the country. Why is this not a sound idea?

In 2012, 4.6 million individuals world-wide who had been approved to be sponsored for green cards by U.S. citizens had to step aside for a while in order for the USCIS to process the deferred action applications of people hoping to qualify under the Obama administration’s Dreamers Scheme.

None of this has anything to do with the influx of illegals and unaccompanied children who arrive on top of Mexican trains to be greeted at the border and disseminated by the Obama administration all over the 50 states. Few have reported back to Immigration as they were told to do, and have just dissolved into the general population.

Partisan politics has intruded on legal immigration laws. Democrats want more Democrat voters, and are anxious to get them registered to vote, ignoring our voting laws as well as our immigration laws. It’s little wonder that Donald Trump has struck a sensitive chord in the general electorate.  Unfortunately his only solution is to build a great big wall — across all 2,000 miles of our southern border.

A Thought for The Day Department by The Elephant's Child

RAMclr-072415-trust-IBD-COLOR-FINAL.jpg.cms“If people can’t trust not only the executive branch, but also don’t trust Congress, and don’t trust federal judges to make sure that we’re abiding by the Constitution with due process and rule of law, then we’re going to have some problems here.”
……………………………………………………………President Barack Obama

“I think that this would have surprised a number of the Founders; the whole Constitution is a contract that tried to limit the power of government because governments, all governments, can’t be trusted. Governments have too much power to be trusted.”
………………………………………………………….Charlie Martin, P.J. Media

The Most Transparent Administration in History?? by The Elephant's Child

obama-us-iraqjpeg-05349-550x367In a famous remark a couple of years ago, President Obama boasted that “this is the most transparent administration in history.”

“A bipartisan consensus has long held that a healthy democracy requires a significant measure of government transparency.” Since 1950 the Federal Records Act has required the government to preserve documents about its decisions.

Since the 1960s the government has been subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) which gives citizens the right to see those records. In 2009, the National Archives issued rules requiring federal agencies to preserve employee work on non official accounts in a government record-keeping system.

The Obama Administration has long talked “transparency” but tried to hide everything from this legal regime. Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State conducted most of her correspondence on a private, homemade email system that she failed to disclose, kept away from the federal government, and when the system was exposed — Mrs. Clinton declared that she would be the arbiter of what she would allow the American people or Congress to see. Her aide Huma Abedin also had an account on that system, but Mrs. Abedin has not yet bothered to deliver her government records to State.

In August, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) filed a FOIA request to gain access to the private email account of White House science czar John Holdren, who may have used a private account for government work.

CEI exposed former EPA Director Lisa Jackson for using a secret alias “Richard Windsor” when emailing on the EPA system, which was apparently designed to thwart any FOIA requests for her conversations since “Lisa Jackson” didn’t appear on her emails.

Lois Lerner’s emails from the IRS have been subpoenaed for two years,  without success and with extensive lies and obfuscations. Now it turns out she had a second private email account to conduct government work under the name “Toby Miles” and the IRS still cannot account for its contents.

It is becoming apparent that the practice is rampant among Administration officials, including the Secretaries of Agriculture, Labor and HHS. All have secret government email accounts that neither Congress nor the public are aware of in defiance of federal law.

Last week a federal court subpoenaed former EPA official Phillip North after a complaint by a mining concern called the Pebble Partnership. Mr. North worked from inside the EPA with outside activists to scuttle Pebble’s proposed Alaskan mining project, and he did so on private email.

The Lerner and North cases also highlight the Administration’s sloppy, or willfully obstructionist, approach to recordkeeping. Recall the crash of Ms. Lerner’s hard drive, and the IRS’s claim for months it had no backup of her work. Treasury’s Inspector General would later find some. Mr. North’s hard drive also crashed, and Pebble claims that key North emails and documents have gone missing from EPA’s official record.

The people are justified in believing that this Administration’s evasion of disclosing information is not an accident. The public has a right to ask just what is being done in their name. President Obama believes in government by executive order — the latest example is changing the designation of what is clearly a Treaty to a mere executive order.  The Washington Post recently noted that the White House seeks to misdirect.

Obama issued only 20 executive orders in 2013 (the lowest single-year total in more than a century. But that year he issued 41 presidential memoranda, along with nine additional presidential “determinations.” And there are more avenues: regulatory action, signing statements, legal interpretations and administrative orders technically issued by department heads, but at the behest of the White House.

Then there are other ways of making the presidential preferences known, and the Washington Post lists them.  And lists some of the worst abuses cited by those who feel that the president has abused his executive authority.  It would be interesting to see just how many FOIA requests are hanging around waiting for a reply. Then there are all those computers that ‘unexpectedly’ crashed, lost everything, bad computers sent to the dump, and of course “wiped.” There’s a real reason why Hillary is in so much trouble.

Repeating Jonah Goldberg’s aphorism:

“The people are the boss, the government is the servant. The Constitution is the government’s job description. The Declaration of Independence is its mission statement. Campaigns are the job interview, elections are the hiring and firing process.”

Technology and Us: Can We Learn How to Adapt? by The Elephant's Child

tigerstone@2xWhat people pushing for a higher minimum wage don’t get, is that there are hundreds of people with no, or low skills who want to work for money. They are easily replaced. But when they have learned how to work and have skills, they can take that resumé on to a better job.

When government decides what businesses must pay their workers, they run into the problem of costs. A business exists only if it can make a profit over and above the cost of doing business. When the costs become excessive, the business adapts or goes out of business. It’s that simple.

We have written about Momentum Machines, and about McDonald’s new cashiers. Now comes news of a new San Francisco Restaurant in the financial district named Eatsa (?) that is fully automated. Customers will order from an iPad, sending the meal to the kitchen. When the order is ready it appears in a small glass compartment.  (awful name)

In Japan, the Nanna-na hotel, which opened in July, is completely human-free, using robots for every task, from cleaning rooms to managing check-in to check-out.

The machine pictured above is resurfacing streets in Europe, and here is a new bricklaying robot, or SAM —semi-automated mason. It is a robotic bricklayer being used to increase productivity as it works with human masons.

In this human-robot team, the robot is responsible for the more rote tasks: picking up bricks, applying mortar, and placing them in their designated location. A human handles the more nuanced activities, like setting up the worksite, laying bricks in tricky areas, such as corners, and handling aesthetic details, like cleaning up excess mortar.

Even in completing repetitive tasks, SAM still has to be fairly adaptable. It’s able to complete precise and level work while mounted on a scaffold that sways slightly in the wind. The robot can correct for the differences between theoretical building specifications and what’s actually on site, says Scott Peters, co-founder of Construction Robotics, a company based in Victor, New York, that designed SAM as its debut product.

“In construction, your design will say that a window is located exactly 30 feet from the corner of a building, and in reality when you get to the building, nothing is ever where it says it’s supposed to be,” Peters says. “Masons know how to adapt to that, so we had to design a robot that knows how to do that, too.”

Somewhere in the archives I have a video of an automobile factory in Germany — all as elegant, or more so, than the dealer’s showroom, where robots do almost everything and the workers aid and assist the machines. I think it was a Volkswagen factory, but it may be Mercedes, which is probably why I can’t find it.

The point is that robots are continually going to take over simple repetitive jobs. Once you have the machine, it doesn’t have sick days, no problem of getting along with co-workers, spending time on the phone talking to friends, doesn’t ask for raises or days off. We are going to have to learn how to adapt in a changing world.

More Quotations to Keep: Seemed Pertinent. by The Elephant's Child

Jen Rubin, Contentions, 5/04/2010

“There is no mystery as to why our Iran policy is in disarray It is what happens when we cast off the instruments of American power, place faith in international bodies that don’t share common interests or values, and assume our adversaries will respond to grand gestures and acts of goodwill.”

Jonah Goldberg, G File, 9/15/2012

“The people are the boss, the government is the servant. The Constitution is the government’s job description. The Declaration of Independence is its mission statement. Campaigns are the job interview, elections are the hiring and firing process.”

Bernard Bailyn, from:
The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution

“At the Philadelphia convention, with exquisite care and with delicate nuances, they devised a complex constitution that would generate the requisite power but would so distribute its flow and uses that no one body of men and no one institutional center would ever gain a monopoly of force or influence that would dominate the nation.”

Dore Gold: Former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S.

“The U.S. and Iran speak very different diplomatic languages that cannot be bridged by a dictionary alone. In the West, candor is central to confidence-building, for the diplomats of the Islamic Republic, deception is a way of life.”

From C.S. Lewis

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

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.


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