American Elephants


Over-regulated! Over-controlled! Over-angry! by The Elephant's Child

If you wonder why the recovery from the last recession has dragged on and on in the slowest recovery since World War II, you can blame the Left’s compulsive drive for ever more control. They are perpetually discontented and want to fix things, sure that a new regulation, another rule, a new organization to control things will somehow fix everything.

Wayne Crews is vice president for policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Every year he compiles CEI’s annual 10,000 Commandments report on federal regulations. He found six official, but different, counts of the number of federal agencies. He started looking for dark matter rules that are pushed through memoranda and press releases outside the regular lawmaking processes, and realized that it was difficult to determine how many rules were coming out if you couldn’t be sure how many agencies exist. If you can’t get a list —that’s too many.

Agencies are issuing guidance, but it can be hard for businesses to know who they are regulated by. And if that is the case, to whom they apply for clarification, or relief. Everybody is fed up. They are tired of being told what they can and cannot do, what they can and cannot say.

Businesses cannot act for fear of regulations that will be imposed. What restaurant would expect a federal regulation that all of the ingredients in their pizzas would have to be displayed with a calorie count for each ingredient?

Who would expect the EPA to propose two new rules Monday to protect drinking water from harmful waste chemicals — after they just polluted the waters of five Western states with their toxic spill from the Gold King mine tailings?

In Florida, the Ocheesee Creamery is being forced to dump gallons upon gallons of good, natural skim milk because the state is requiring the business to label its good, natural skim milk “imitation ” because they haven’t added anything to it. This has become a legal battle with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs (DACS) which insists that what is commonly called skim milk — whole milk with the cream skimmed off — cannot be called “skim milk” unless it is artificially injected with vitamin A. The Institute for Justice is helping the Wesselhoefts take their case to federal court.

The creamery got into business to sell an all-natural product. The judge said “It’s hard to call this imitation milk. It came right out of the cow. Anyone who reads imitation skim milk would think it didn’t come out of a cow.”

The case of Il Mondo Vecchio is different, but similar.  The “Old-World-style salumeria” was similarly dedicated to natural products. The FDA was having none of that and requiring that these sausage makers, adored by Denver foodies, add nitrates,nitrites and preservatives to their meats. After a long discussion with the FDA the owners determined that the requirements forced on dry cured sausage products was detrimental to the quality of the product, and they shut down their business.

President Obama announced that he had a phone and a pen, and if Congress would not cooperate, he’d do it himself.  He has already imposed 1,568 new regulations, and 38,000 Federal Register pages this year. In 2014, there were 3,541 rules and regulations and 78,978 pages in the Federal Register. Who do these people think they are? The direction comes from the White House, as does the example. Wayne Crews noted that:

“This administration has made significant use of Executive Memoranda compared to earlier ones. That practice and other kinds of federal agency ‘Regulatory Dark Matter’ like guidance documents, memos, bulletins, letters, lawsuits, notices, press releases and blog posts need serious attention from policy makers.

“For example, there are 11,932 Notices issued by agencies so far in 2015; most are ordinary announcements like meetings and hearings (which do matter); but some even are considered ‘significant.’ “

You see announcements like this every day: “Report: Obama coal plan will boost electricity bills 16%, drive companies offshore.” It becomes mind-numbing. Do you wonder why people are angry?

The champions of socialism call themselves progressives, but they recommend a system which is characterized by rigid observance of routine and by resistance to every kind of improvement. They call themselves liberals, but they are intent upon abolishing liberty. They call themselves democrats, but they yearn for dictatorship. They call themselves revolutionaries, but they want to make the government omnipotent. They promise the blessings of the Garden of Eden, but they plan to transform the world into a gigantic post office.                     Ludwig Von Mises, 1944

 



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.



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)



Why Do They Never Learn? Socialism Doesn’t Work. by The Elephant's Child

BN-KA013_venloo_J_20150825170528How is it possible, in a world that has demonstrated so clearly that Socialism simply does not work, to have a candidate for the office of President of the United States who is an avowed socialist? Barack Obama may not adopt the label, but his efforts to expand government control over ever more of the economy, to regulate American lives, and to strive for more redistribution of wealth and “social justice” or forced equality have no relation to free markets and free people.

Democrats’ big ideas aren’t working. Detroit, under Democratic governance has declined from America’s richest city to a cesspool of poverty. New York, cleaned up under Rudy Giuliani, has declined into crime again, and New Yorkers are not only complaining, but becoming fearful.

San Francisco, designated as a “sanctuary city,” has that designation to thank for the murder of Kate Steinle by an illegal alien who had been deported over and over.  In 1994, the voters approved a “Three Strikes and You’re Out” law which led to  overcrowded prisons. The Supreme Court in 2009 ordered the state to reduce the prison population to 137.5 percent of design capacity, or one inmate per cell.

That led to Prop 47, which reduced many felonies to misdemeanors, and an 50,000 reduction in the prison population and a rise in crime. The responsibility for incarcerating prisons was turned over to local sheriffs. Neighborhood are not as safe. People are moving out of California in droves. Yet “Black Lives Matter” is a very real drive to blame the high murder rate in inner city neighborhoods on policing. There are always unintended consequences.

Social justice in California has led to a wealthy coastal corridor and poverty in the rest of the state.

If the failure of Democrats’ ideas of social justice utopias in America don’t convince you, let’s turn to the newly-reopened embassy in Havana. Obama said that if 50 years of isolating Cuba had not worked, we should try something else. But precisely what does he mean by hadn’t worked? Cuba is a poverty stricken country where the people have to line up for bread, the 1950’s era cars are not there because they are quaint and picturesque, but because that’s all they have. Fidel Castro, on the other hand has been listed in Forbes as one of the world’s richest men. A lot of arms dealing, narco-terrorism, that sort of thing. Viva  la revolucion!

Obama’s big idea seems to be that if America just stops being the big bully, throwing our weight around, and offers our helping hand in peace, while removing all sanctions and barriers, then they will reciprocate because they care about their people and their children. Unfortunately, no they don’t.

In Venezuela, it’s all falling apart. Socialism is in a death spiral. The people have to stand in line for hours to buy ordinary staples like corn flour or laundry soap. Looting and violence are on the rise in supermarkets, but there’s nothing on the shelves anyway. No toilet paper, food shortages, people are going hungry.    There are fights when delivery trucks arrive with chicken or milk. The break-even price for Venezuelan oil is estimated to be $151 per barrel.  Today’s  price for Brent crude   is $47.10.

Supporters of the ruling Socialist Party note that the network of subsidized state-run grocery stores created by late president Hugo Chavez and financed by plentiful oil revenue helped reduce poverty and hunger during his 1999-2013 rule.

Typically, the late  Hugo Chavez’s  second-eldest daughter  may be the wealthiest woman in Venezuela. Maria Gabriela Chavez reportedly has stashed away a cool $4.2 billion in American and Andorran banks according to Diario las Americas. The ruling class typically does pretty well.

Hugo Chavez  was, after Fidel Castro, the tin pot dictator most admired by Democrats in Hollywood and Washington.

When Senator Bernie Sanders describes himself as a socialist,his critics point to such experiments as Cuba and North Korea, but they explain, no, no Democratic socialism. Socialism does not work.

Nicholas Maduro has been cracking down for years on newspapers, radio, any source of free speech. You cannot have free speech and a socialist government. Have you not noticed the Obama administration’s attacks on free speech?

Venezuelans are running out of food, and starvation is possible. Medicines, even the most usual kinds are unavailable. Everything the Maduro government does makes things worse.

Armed soldiers monitor supermarkets as part of an effort the president calls “Operation People’s Liberation.”

The picture is simply one of the lines for non-existent food in Venezuela.

 



There Is No Iran Deal. It’s All Just a Pretense. They Pretend to Obey the Sanctions. We Pretend to Believe Them. by The Elephant's Child

Sardar-haj-qasem-soleimani-04Iran has never stopped violating the sanctions, never stopped violating the “agreement” that was reached in Brussels, and is continuing to do everything it can to demonstrate that it has the upper hand as a result of the deal it negotiated with the United States and its five partners. It twists understandings of the terms of the deal to justify its ‘misbehavior’ or just goes ahead and does what it chooses anyway.

President Obama and his Secretary of State are so eager for a deal that they are not pushing back, they are only pushing hard to get a veto-proof congressional vote of approval.

Iran plans to sign a contract for four advanced Russian surface-to-air S-300 missiles as early as next week, following a visit to Moscow by Quds force commander Qassem Soleimani (seen above) in violation of an international travel ban. The Quds Force is the designated arm of the Iran Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) to export the revolution abroad —which is just what they have been doing.

The sanctions against Qassem Soleimani “will stay forever” John Kerry said on Tuesday. “He oversaw the plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington, its efforts to destabilize Iraq, to support Bashar Assad in Syria, and the IRGC’s proliferation of WMD. The Quds Force supports the Houthis in Yemen, Hezbollah, Shiite militants in Iraq, and Palestinian terrorist groups like Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.” Other than that, he’s not apt to pay much attention to sanctions.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is planning “a massive ballistic missile test” in the near future, according to the Fars News Agency.

Earlier this year, Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajiadeh said they plan to upgrade and replace Iran’s existing Fateh, Qiyam, and Qadr missiles with a new generation of missiles — despite international sanctions on the Iranian Missile program.

The issue has arisen in the debate over the Iran Deal in Congress. Lawmakers have criticized the agreement for allowing the international arms embargo to be lifted after five years and the ballistic missile sanctions to be lifted after eight years. Perhaps they should criticize the IRGC for ordering new missiles from Russia last week, and having tests “in the near future.” Perhaps they should be arguing, not about what “the agreement says”— but about what Iran is actually doing.

Iranian leaders have declared that their arms shipments to allies in the region, such as their terrorist proxy Hezbollah will continue in spite of the UN Security Council arms embargo that is still in effect for five years.

Secretary Kerry said: “The arms embargo is not tied to snapback. It is tied to a separate set of obligations. So they are not in material breach of the nuclear agreement for violating the arms part of it.”

There isn’t any “snapback” anyway, that would require agreement among the other parties to the agreement, and that’s not going to happen. The other parties are busy planning trade negotiations with Iran as soon as they can send them off. With sanctions lifted and money flowing back to Iran, they will be in the market for all the interesting things the western nations produce. Nobody is shouting ‘Death to Germany,’ or ‘Death to France’— the Europeans need to sell more stuff, and they want to buy Iranian oil which will help to lift the energy blackmail that Putin favors. They don’t believe that Iran has any interest in nuking them, it’s our problem. And if Obama wants to be a patsy, that’s our problem too.

Democrats in the House and Senate are lining up to support Obama’s disastrous deal out of blind partisan loyalty to Obama. They are assuming that the inspections will deter Iran for at least another ten years, as Kerry claims. Yet the military sites such as Parchin, where they are working on militarization of nuclear weapons, will not be inspected by the IAEA. Instead the Iranians will inspect their own military sites, and provide soil samples to the IAEA with their own record of the inspection. That should work.

Chief negotiator Wendy Sherman is the one who successfully negotiated the agreement with North Korea —where Kim Jong Un is currently threatening to nuke South Korea. If this was a movie,  you might just walk out because it’s all so completely unbelievable, and sticking around to find out how it turns out is way too uncomfortable.

In spite of all this, President Obama envisions himself flying to Tehran to shake hands on the agreement with the Supreme Leader. He sees it as a triumphant moment when he turns over the Middle East to the sovereignty of the ancient nation of Persia, and brings all Americans home, never to interfere in the nasty world again. Even better than Nixon opening up China. Or something like that. When Iran sets off an EMP attack decimating the East Coast and killing millions of Americans Obama won’t even have finished raising the billion dollars he wants for his presidential library.



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.




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