American Elephants


The Tyranny of the Administrative State by The Elephant's Child

wy-pond-550x309You will be hearing a lot more about “the administrative state” in the coming days and weeks. The name sounds way too bureaucratty to be of interest, but phrased a little differently, more like—the Progressives are a bunch of control freaks and want to ruin your life and your freedom with a constant flow of regulation to satisfy their own egos.   That’s much clearer, and unfortunately true.

This seems especially clear because I’m just back from a trip to Home Depot for lightbulbs. If you have recently faced the lightbulb display at Home Depot or any similar store, you know what I mean. The federal government decided that the fear of global warming justified banning our dependable, cheap, incandescent bulbs and thrusting upon us all sorts of unsatisfactory junk from China—twisty bulbs, 40 watt bulbs that are now supposed to light as well as 75 watt but don’t use up so much energy and so on. What was once a simple shopping trip has turned into a confusing nightmare. Besides, I personally believe that this has nothing to do with “saving energy” and everything to do with the fact that the lighting companies would make a lot more money if they could force us to use the noxious new bulbs made in China, that being why they have all those lobbyists in D.C. (crony capitalism).

Conservatives talk a lot about Liberty and the Constitution, but I’m afraid that that just passes millennials by. Our founding fathers were only recently subjects of England, and they had revolted and fought  a war to escape what they considered tyranny and a far too administrative state. When they were writing a new constitution for the country, Liberty was paramount in their minds. How could they insure that generations hence would not lightly lose all that they had fought for? They were deeply familiar with ambition and greed, power-seeking, and all the other flaws of humanity. So they devised a system of three equal branches, so that no one branch could exert control over the others—and in general, it has worked pretty well.

When the European Union was being devised to prevent the continual wars that had plagued the continent, Valery Giscard d’ Estang, a former French President, was elected to the commission to devise a constitution for the EU. The commission looked at the U.S. Constitution, but could not imagine devolving so much power to the people. So the EU became the unaccountable body to which much of Europe is revolting and considering leaving, as Britain is now doing.

Here’s an example of how the modern administrative state tramples all over the separation of powers from Steven Hayward’s new book: Patriotism Is Not Enough. A classic paragraph from Boston University law professor Gary Lawson, in his 1994 Harvard Law Review article “The Rise and Rise of the Administrative State.”

The [Federal Trade] Commission promulgates substantive rules of conduct. The Commission then considers whether to authorize investigations into whether the Commission’s rules have been violated. If the Commission authorizes an investigation, the investigation is conducted by the Commission, which reports its findings to the Commission. If the Commission thinks that the Commission’s findings warrant an enforcement action, the Commission issues a complaint. The Commission’s complaint that a Commission rule has been violated is then prosecuted by the Commission and adjudicated by the Commission. This Commission adjudication can either take place before the full Commission or before a semi-autonomous Commission administrative law judge. If the Commission chooses to adjudicate before an administrative law judge rather than before the Commission and the decision is adverse to the Commission, the Commission can appeal to the Commission. If the Commission ultimately finds a violation, then, and only then, the affected private party can appeal to an Article III court. But the agency decision, even before the bona fide Article III tribunal, possesses a very strong presumption of correctness on matters both of fact and of law.

It’s only funny until they start coming after you. We’ve reported on Gibson Guitars, and the Sacketts case in Northern Idaho, and rancher Andy Johnson building a stock pond  (above) on his property, but those are only a few of the big ones. Notable because they were so outrageous and so stupid. But excellent examples of the administrative state at work. How do you fight fines of $35,000 a day? How about telling all the school kids in the country what they have to eat for lunch? Or how about ordering all the bathrooms and locker rooms to be open to anyone who wants to come in?



Apologies to Visitors by The Elephant's Child

Sorry about the light blogging. I’ve been down with headaches. Apparently some mixture of new glasses and the computer screen, that’s not working.  I’ll try to catch up, there’s so much to write about, and so much going on that is hard to understand.



Betsy DeVos is Confirmed as Secretary of Education by The Elephant's Child

john-stossel-what-trumps-education-pick-betsy-devos-should-have-said__850408_I consider myself a sort of expert on the subject of education— Not because I am a graduate of any graduate school of education—I am not.

My mother was a teacher, and quite a good one. I actually was one of her pupils, and she always graded me down to dispel any suggestion of favoritism. My grandmother was a teacher, an aunt was a teacher, and a grandfather was a college president. That doesn’t give me any qualification beyond a general family interest in education.

My expertise comes from 1. being tutored for first grade, 2. attending a small town grade school, 3. attending a one-room country schoolhouse for two years (pump on the front porch, woodshed out back with two separate outhouses) 4. attending an exclusive private girls school run by Episcopal nuns, 5. small town high school, 6. large town high school, 6. exclusive private college, 7. professional art school, 8. a California State College grad school. That should make me some kind of expert, shouldn’t it? I loved the one room schoolhouse. We had a very good teacher, and for science she sent us out into the fields to collect wild flowers and frogs and pollywogs—doesn’t get much better than that.

Betsy DeVos is an excellent candidate for Secretary of Education because she is passionately devoted to the idea that parents should have an important voice in their children’s education, and that charter schools are the best answer we have to give kids trapped in bad public schools a real chance for a good future.

Democrats have been opposed to Mrs. DeVos largely because she has been nominated by Donald Trump, and teachers unions. My expertise in education has noted over the years that all objections to anything in or about the public schools has one answer—they need more money. Even the courts have gotten into the business of ordering states to raise taxes in order to give the public schools more money.

Yet it is clear to anyone who is paying attention—that is not the problem. I suspect that the schools of education teach prospective teachers that if the teachers praise the kids enough in parent meetings, the voters will probably vote for more money. Yet teachers complain that they have to spend their own money for supplies. Hmmn.

Democrats have been complaining about children being excluded from school for bad behavior, and suggesting that it is not right. Racism, sexism, etc. Yet I did see an article that indicates that teachers are increasingly attacked in the classroom by violent kids, yet that is seldom reported.

I have a good longtime friend who is an expert in remedial education, and education policy. At one point she did some studies with convicts in prison, and found that large percentages of them were deficient in the ability to read. Inconclusive, for it would have taken many more studies to come up with verifiable fact, but interesting.

Democrats wanted to turn down Betsy DeVos on the basis that she attended private school and sent her children to private school, therefore she knew nothing about public school. (Actually she probably has a better idea of where public schools are deficient). Interestingly, many of the Democrat Senators who were most vocal in voting against DeVos also exclusively attended private schools. When parents have enough money for private schools, that’s often where their kids go. The two Republicans who voted against DeVos are singularly dependent on funding from the teachers unions.

I am deeply influenced by the fact that President Barack Obama sent his two daughters to the toniest private school in Washington D.C., yet tried hard to eliminate the Opportunity Scholarship program that gave poor black children access to the schools of their choice.

Here are some of the arguments for Betsy DeVos:

ADDENDUM: Thomas Sowell who just quit commenting returned to discuss the Betsy DeVos confirmation hearings.



Innocence, Foolishness, Stupidity and Which is Which? by The Elephant's Child

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There are loaded words out there. Words that have been given meaning far beyond their normal weight, if one can call it that. Refugees is such a word. It is far more loaded than other words in the same family, like immigrants, or migrants. It seems to outrank citizens. Europe has largely surrendered to refugees. The word carries along with itself—ideas of empathy, pity, caring, welcome, fugitive, displaced person, asylum seeker, boat people.

Here’s the bit from Wikipedia. The refugee, of course, is a small child of indeterminate nationality. .

RefugeeA refugee, generally speaking, is a displaced person who has been forced to cross national boundaries and who cannot return home safely. Such a person may be called an asylum seeker until granted refugee status by the contracting state or the UNHCR if they formally make a claim for asylum.

What brings all this up is a post from  Gatestone Europe that contained these pieces.

The foreign minister of the European Parliament said, to justify the EU’s position on migrants, in the session of migration and Trump’s executive order, “If we had to live without migrants, in all our societies and all our economies, we would suffer a lot of negative consequences.”

Second piece: “Gangster Islam: The Problem Europe Ignores” featuring the Dutch-Moroccan rapper Ismo stating “I believe nothing blindly except the Quran””I hate the Jews even more than the Nazis: and “I won’t shake hands with faggots.”

For over a decade, Europe’s struggle to successfully integrate its Muslim population has been evident. But throughout the years a new and distinctly European phenomenon arose, which is as significant as it is underreported: Gangster Islam. It entails the conflation of the seemingly a-religious street culture of youths from a Muslim background on the one hand, and elements of the Islamic religion on the other.

Then, a report that “Hamas Organises Dutch Conference, Intelligence Agencies in Full Denial.”

And a video clip of the Chief of Police of  Östersund, Sweden, Stephen Jerand, warning women to adjust their behavior to protect against a spate of violent attacks” (avoid getting raped by gangs of young men)

There’s lots more. They are apparently far more concerned by President Trump than by the Muslim refugees in their midst that are not interested in assimilating, but only in establishing Sharia law and taking over.  But perhaps I exaggerate.

On the Left, “refugees” is indeed a loaded word, and we must all care deeply and admit all refugees, and continue to have sanctuary cities, counties, towns and universities, in defiance of federal law.  Because if we don’t care then we will be bad people. And we don’t have to worry about future effects because, well, that isn’t now and it will probably all be better anyway when we are in charge again.  Is that the mindset? Or is it all just George Soros‘ open borders and Open Society  or like Scarlett O’Hara’s plan to go home to Tara and think about it all tomorrow?

We have been told that Europe will be Muslim by 2050, simply because the Muslim birthrate is so much higher, and Europe’s is close to negative.



The Summing-Up: At Some Point Reality Appears by The Elephant's Child

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People generally liked Barack Obama. He was handsome, stylish, clearly a good family man and cared deeply about his daughters. I’m not sure if he liked his dogs, but he put up with them for his daughters’ sake.

When it came to the economy, it gradually became clear that he didn’t know what he was doing, nor did his advisors. It’s not clear to what extent he listened to advisors. He remarked more than once that he knew more about speeches than his speechwriters, and more about most any subject than the experts he picked. There is a suspicion that he really meant that.

So what we ended the Obama presidency with was a fairly high approval rating because people liked him, and a very terrible approval rating on the right direction/wrong direction part. He will return from his post-inauguration vacation soon, and we can expect him to have forgotten completely George W. Bush’s polite silence to give the new guy a chance to do his best.

Progressives can’t help themselves. They want to control, to regulate, and to fix ordinary human nature, unfortunately they want to do it with other people’s money. To fix things and make themselves feel good about what they are doing, they want to do lots of welfare, but they can’t manage to take away enough of the money of the well-off to make the not well-off equal, which was their goal.  It never works, but the lure of socialism seems eternal.

Venezuela, out of toilet paper and most anything usually found on store shelves, can’t afford to deliver the oil which they have in abundance to anyone who might pay them for it. They are dead broke. Another lesson in why socialism never, never works, but the enthusiasts won’t learn it this time either.



There’s a Lot to be Said for the Power of Optimism by The Elephant's Child

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The British People voted last year to leave the European Union in a vote that has come to be called “BREXIT” or British exit. Mrs. May said forthrightly that she was not in favor of leaving, but if that is what the British People voted for, that is what she would do.

The British High Court said the Prime Minister would have to get a vote of the Parliament in order to do so, and on Wednesday they voted to allow Prime Minister Theresa May to start Brexit negotiations with the European Union. The European Union Bill passed with 498 votes to 114. The Bill will still have to go to the House of Lords before becoming law. May has set a March 31 deadline for invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and beginning exit formalities with the European Union.

The Scottish National Party attempted to block the bill before the vote. Forty-seven members of the Labour Party MPs revolted against the Labor Party’s leadership and voted against the bill.

Staying in the single market would require Britain to continue contributing to the Brussels budget, accept EU economic rules and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, and admit levels of immigration that have become politically unacceptable. Remainers said these concessions were worth making, but voters disagreed and they must be respected.

Some European countries want to punish Britain, and drive the hardest bargain possible.  Mrs. May has argued for a clean break, as that is the only way for London to negotiate its own trade deals with the rest of the world.

The smart play is for both to help the other succeed….The biggest threat to the EU isn’t a Britain that succeeds outside the common market. It is an EU that keeps failing to provide the economic prosperity demanded by its frustrated citizens. What drove Britain from the EU was the Continent’s failure on immigration control, fighting terrorism and delivering jobs and rising incomes.

To put it another way, Mrs. May is telling Britons they’re embarking on another great chapter in self-government. The Brits helped invent the idea, so they know what it takes.

Daniel Hannan is a member of the European Parliament who went to the European Parliament urging the abolition of the place. He said “It’s difficult to begin to understand the imbalance of forces in our recent debate and referendum. Every broadcaster, every political party, every bank, every big corporation, every trade association, every think tank, every EU-funded university, the whole of the establishment was telling us that it was a matter of national survival to stay in the EU. That it would be calamitous for us if we left. And people didn’t believe it. On June 23, they politely disregarded all the advice, all the bullying, all the hectoring, all the threats, and they voted to become a self-governing country again.”

He added “Americans voted Leave in 1776, and from where I’m standing, it seems to have worked out OK for you.”



Trump Told the Border Patrol: “This is a Law-enforcement Agency.”And they Cheered! by The Elephant's Child

dreamersWhen President Trump met with the Department of Homeland Security staff last Wednesday after he signed two executive orders on immigration enforcement, he told the assembled ICE agents, Border Patrol officers and others “This is a law-enforcement agency.”

The fact that he had to say that – and that the assembled ICE agents, Border Patrol officers, and others heartily applauded – tells you all you need to know about how badly Obama gutted immigration enforcement and torpedoed employee morale.

The two executive orders dealt with border and interior enforcement. They are substantive and far-reaching, a change from the pabulum and generalities we usually get from politicians. Some of the directives will have immediate impact, while others will require congressional action and will take time to bear fruit.

Border. The border enforcement order led off with the wall, naturally, calling for “the immediate construction of a physical wall.” The definitions section allowed for some wiggle room, saying “‘Wall’ shall mean a contiguous, physical wall or other similarly secure, contiguous, and impassable physical barrier.”

The wall gets all of the press’ attention, but it is the other parts of the order that are more important. It directs those who infiltrate the border be dealt with at the border, and not be released- into the country. This ends catch and release. Under Obama’s rules, they were released into the country with a summons to appear in court, mostly years into the future. Not surprising that few managed to show up. More detention facilities will be built, with asylum officers and immigration judges on site.

Obama’s people used the law governing the treatment of unaccompanied children who have been trafficked into the U.S. (William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Authorization Act of 2008) to permanently settle thousands of Central American  minors who were neither unaccompanied , trafficked and often not even minors. The law was meant to protect kids from being kidnapped or tricked into the sex trade, by white slavers. Obama extended its protections to young people coming voluntarily, accompanied by smugglers paid by illegal alien parents in the U.S.

It includes a directive to cut off federal funding for sanctuary cities.  Local authorities are authorized to start deportation paperwork, and immigration violators will be identified when they are booked by local police officers. There will be  cutoff of visas for those countries that refuse to take back their own citizens that we are deporting. There will be regular reporting of the immigration status of prison inmates and jails, and reporting of crimes committed by non-citizens—including those released by sanctuary cities.

As Bill Whittle said, think of this as a new CEO telling a stockholder meeting — this is what’s going to happen—after a hostile takeover. There are going to be some changes made.




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