American Elephants


Obama’s At It Again, Rewriting the Law and Legislating From the Oval Office. by The Elephant's Child

121121_barack_obama_ap_605_1

President Obama has no intention of spending his last months in office trying to persuade Congress to do what he wants. He sees no future in that, and he dislikes Republicans anyway. So it’s not exactly a surprise that he is once again trying to make law from the oval office instead of bothering with the customary route to getting his own way. I guess in law school nobody ever explained the three branches of government and the role assigned to each. Or maybe it’s just that progressives don’t have any respect for the Constitution and see no reason to pay it any mind.

President Obama has no inhibitions about rewriting laws he doesn’t like—even those he’s signed. Witness the Administration’s revision of the Every Student Succeeds Act to allow the feds to regulate state and local school spending.

The law—which passed Congress last year with large bipartisan majorities—devolved power to the states and rolled back some federal mandates. In doing so, Congress rebuffed the White House’s previous attempts to direct local education policy with No Child Left Behind waivers.

The law allowed school districts more discretion over Title I funds which are designed to help poor students. Federal policy dating back to the 1970s required that Title I funds were to supplement state and local spending, not substitute for them.

Schools complained that completing so much federal paperwork diverted resources from teaching, and anyone who just finished their income taxes might well be sympathetic. But Congress allowed school districts to develop their own methods to show their compliance. “The law also specifically prohibited the Secretary of Education from prescribing the “specific methodology a local educational agency uses to allocate State and local funds” or mandating “equalized spending per pupil for a State, local educational agency, or school.”

That’s the part of the law the administration does not like, and that they are attempting to rewrite.

The Education Department recently proposed assessing the local school district’s compliance with the law by whether a Title I school “receives at least as much in State and local funding as the average non-Title I school.” In other words, the Administration is trying to do exactly what the law prohibits it from doing.

Progressives want to force local school districts to equalize spending among all schools. Staff compensation represents more than 80% of school spending. Because of seniority rules in labor agreements and state laws, younger teachers with lower base salaries are apt to be employed at low-income schools.

Demanding equalized spending in Title I schools and non-Title I schools would force states to rewrite their educational funding statutes and districts to redo their labor agreements. Experienced teachers who earn much higher salaries might have to be forcibly transferred to low-income schools, or teachers at Title I schools might have to be paid more.”

The goal on the left — is to force school districts to employ more staff at low-income schools.” Unfortunately quantity of teachers is no more indicative of quality education than is years of tenure. Unions are not particularly interested in teacher excellence, nor quality of education, but only in collecting dues, and exercising political power.  Educational excellence usually comes from the Principals, the individual teachers and the elected representatives of the local people — the local school board— not the federal government.



The European Union is Coming Undone Over Political Correctness. Could We Just Use Common Sense Instead? by The Elephant's Child

Constitution

The news almost daily has headlines regarding the influx of refugees or migrants into Europe. They are generally referred to as Syrian refugees or Syrian migrants, but they come from a wide range of countries including many from Africa, and Asia as opposed to what we usually think of as the Middle East. We have seen pictures of massive marches of immigrants in Europe and read the tales of the problems Europe is having with their refugees, and specifically with Islamic terrorism. Paris and Brussels are only the start.

Did you know that the Obama administration has issued around 680,000 green cards to migrants from Muslim nations during the last 5 year period? If there is no change in current policy, the U.S. will admit another 680,000 over the next five years, or possibly more. During the same five years, we issued green cards to only 270,000 migrants from the European Union.

According to DHS files the largest numbers of migrants came from Iraq and Pakistan with 83,000 each, and 75,000 from Bangladesh, 45,000 from Egypt, 31,000 from Somalia, 24,000 from Uzbekistan, Turkey and Morocco had 22,000 migrants each, Jordan and Albania 20,000 each and Lebanon and Yemen each had 16,000. Indonesia (15,000), Syria (14,000), Sudan (13,000), Afghanistan (11.000). and Sierra Leone  (10,000). There were only a few thousand each from Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Kosovo and Libya.

The administration, aside from being unable to say the words ‘Islamic terrorism,’ seems to believe that terrorism doesn’t really exist— even when the Ayatollah Khomeini leads his followers in chants of ‘Death to America‘ and ‘Death to Israel‘ — that’s just P.R. to please the locals. The programs launched by the administration to reach out and protect Muslims are extensive, and the administration has agreed to a terrorist front’s demands to purge FBI’s anti-terrorism material that was thought to be ‘offensive’ to Muslims.

A closely watched case, United States v. Texas, is going to be argued before the Supreme Court on April 18, Monday. The court surprised watchers when it asked that the parties in that case address a question they did not raise in their briefs: whether President Obama’s “Deferred Action for Parents of Americans” (DAPA) order violates the “Take Care Clause” of the Constitution. (“he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed,”) That clause had never before been addressed by the Court. An interesting development for the president who has said “I have a phone and a pen,” and has not been troubled by taking the laws into his own hands.

DAPA is a set of executive branch directives giving some four million illegal aliens who have given birth to children in the United States what the orders call “legal presence” — even though they are here in violation of the law. This “legal presence” entitles DAPA beneficiaries to work permits, a picture ID, driver’s licenses, social security, Earned Income Tax credits, Medicaid, ObamaCare, and other social welfare benefits. Until the 2014 election, President Obama repeatedly and emphatically stated that he did not have authority to issue such an order without congressional action. Then he did it.

Absolute monarchs rule absolutely. What they say goes. It was a long battle in English history, and King John (1119-1216) did things his way until confronted with armed insurrection at Runnymede (1215) when he agreed to the Great Charter which established the principle that even kings are not a law unto themselves, and must act through settled law.

The framers of the U.S. Constitution took care to carefully consider what prerogative powers were suitable for an American president. Much of the Constitution is devoted to replacing prerogative powers with settled law. Henry VIII believed his royal proclamations should have the force of law —Parliament repealed the Act of Proclamations.

As our Constitution was being written, the Committee on Detail changed the words of the draft Constitution which vested a “single person” with the power to carry into execution the national laws” to read “he shall take care that the laws of the United States be duly and faithfully executed.” That changed the execution of the law from a power to a duty rather than a power, indicated by the word “shall.” A reversal would portend ever-increasing  exercise of executive powers. The question is not whether the president’s rule would make good policy, but whether the Constitution allows the president to rule statutory violations. It does not.

The State Department wants to increase the rate of bringing Syrian refugees to the United States to an average of 1,500 a month in order to meet President Obama’s target of settling 10,000 refugees in the country by September.  Why by September? That’s Obama’s target —perhaps he expects to get 10,000 of them voting by November. Who knows? We have Trump’s Yuge wall, 40 feet tall, that he claims he will make Mexico pay for, which is absurd. The 18 to 24 month time for processing admission of  refugees has reportedly been slashed  to 3 months to meet the president’s goal of 10,000 refugees this fiscal year.

Although the Muslim immigrants clearly include some ISIS members seeking entrance to the U.S, (they are certainly plentiful among European migrants), the slashing of processing time is worrying. It would seem that immediate admissions should focus on providing a safe haven for the remnants of historic Christian communities throughout the Middle East that are now targeted for extinction. Churches have been burned, priests arrested, Christians have been tortured, raped and crucified. They have nowhere to go. Present policy does not take into account their precarious situation. The State Department accepts refugees from lists prepared by the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner on Refugees which oversees the large refugee camps— but Christians do not dare enter those camps, where they are attacked and targeted by Islamists.

Playing politics with Immigration is a particularly unseemly thing to do. Instead of efforts to carefully vet Muslim immigrants, we run into accusations of “Islamophobia,” designed to stop any dissension. Religious freedom, promised by our Bill of Rights, does not aim to free those who are intending terrorist attacks. There are many tenets of the Muslim faith that are directly antithetical to the U.S. Constitution. We should be able to clearly explain those to all Muslim immigrants. We do not tolerate honor killings, we do not regard women as second-class citizens, we don’t accept wife-beating, and rape is a crime. These are serious prison offences. That is not Islamophobia — it’s just clearly setting the ground rules. There should be a clear discussion of rules that are in the Koran that are not acceptable under our Constitution. If they cannot agree to American law, perhaps they would prefer to go elsewhere.

One of the most despicable acts of President Obama has been to delete some of the requirements under the law for becoming an American citizen. That’s why Europe is in such great turmoil at present. They have no programs for assimilation, or for becoming a citizen of a particular country. European nations have always been tribal, with  differing languages, customs and rules. After centuries of constant and deadly wars they thought to end them by opening borders and sharing finances and laws. It hasn’t worked. An unelected and unrepresentative bureaucracy merely substitutes for the absolute monarchs that once ruled Europe, and the people are not quite at the armed insurrection stage, but it’s not all peaches and cream either. Political correctness dictates acceptance of poor refugees, common sense dictates something else.

Emma Lazarus’s “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore—” is all very compassionate, but hardly an acceptable guide to immigration.



And Now For Some Really Good News: Eating chocolate regularly ‘improves brain function’ according to new study! by The Elephant's Child

Chocolate Shavings Background

Chocolate researchers used data from a Maine-Syracuse Longitudinal Study (MSLS) in which 968 people between the ages of 23 and 96 were studied and measured for their dietary intake and their cardiovascular risk factors, as well as their cognitive function.

The Journal Appetite reported that although the impact of chocolate on cognitive function is not well understood, few other natural products have been claimed to have as many medicinal benefits as chocolate. It has been used from early times to reduce fever, treat childhood diarrhea, promote strength before sexual conquests, decrease ‘female complaints’, increase breast milk, encourage sleep and clean teeth. Who knew?

More recent interest has been directed to cardiovascular benefits and cognitive function. Chocolate intake was positively associated with cognitive performance, and the association between more frequent weekly chocolate consumption and cognitive performance remained significant. Significant association, not proven dietary fact, but who wants to risk the possibility of a sharper mind?

Did you know that the candy bars that once sold for 5¢ are now going for $1.79? But some stores still have gold foil-wrapped Lindt chocolate Easter bunnies on sale, if you hurry. Lindt chocolate is especially good.



It’s Not “The Establishment,” It’s The Left’s Grab For Power! by The Elephant's Child

ObamaCourt
Are you tired of the circus that the presidential campaign has become? The latest insult from Mr. Trump is food for a thousand articles about the polls and who is up and who is not. Mr. Trump is doing an amazing job of keeping the attention of the media on his every word. Comments on posts are partisan and angry, but the anger is remarkably unfocused. Everyone is furious with “the establishment” but no one seems to know just who “the establishment” is. Presumably it’s the people they elected last time around.

The “establishment” is apparently the people who know their way around Washington, and understand how it works. And they deserve your fury because? There has been a major shift over the past seven-and-a-half years as the two major parties jockey for power. President Obama had a Democrat Congress to work with, and was able to pass all sorts of noxious laws without a single Republican vote. Lots of promises, mostly hooey, and lots of regulations that Republicans would not have put into place. But Democrats were in charge. See the Constitution and the Bill of Rights in the sidebar.

The major change has been the arrogation of power to the executive branch. Lawmaking is the task of the Congress, but this president has claimed much of that power for himself, and distributed much administrative power to the various executive agencies. From the Coyote Blog, Mr Meyer said: “This is eye opening:

In one recent year alone, Congress passed 138 laws—while federal agencies finalized 2,926 rules. Federal judges conduct about 95,000 trials a year, but federal agencies conduct nearly 1 million. Put all that together and you have a situation in which one branch of government, the executive, is arrogating to itself the powers of the other two.

he adds: This probably understates the case.  Most of the laws were probably brief fixes or extensions or for national _____ day declarations.  The administrative rules can be thousands of pages long and create nightmarish compliance issues.  Already, most of our businesses compliance efforts (which seem to be rising exponentially in time and cost) are due to administrative rules changes rather than new laws per se.

This is called “Administrative Law. Suddenly, executive agencies are writing the regulations, administering them, enforcing them and conducting trials and issuing fines or penalties to those who do not go along cheerfully. Some agencies even have their own SWAT teams.

America has witnessed a massive shift in government authority, says George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley—one that “has occurred without a national debate and certainly not a national vote.” That shift has led to the de facto creation of a “fourth branch of government containing legislative, executive and judicial components but relatively little direct public influence.”

Turley made those remarks in recent testimony before a House Judiciary subcommittee. His talk waded deeply into the weeds of legal history and precedent, but the upshot was this: By failing to rein in regulatory agencies when they overstep their bounds, the Supreme Court and Congress have allowed those agencies not merely to administer law, but to create it—and run roughshod over the public in the process. …

All of this has happened thanks largely to a 1984 Supreme Court case called Chevron. The Reagan administration chose to relax some air-quality regulations, and the Natural Resources Defense Council challenged the decision in court. The Supreme Court sided with the Environmental Protection Agency. It did so for commendable reasons: to avoid turning the courts themselves into policy-making bodies. Rather than decide whether the EPA was right or wrong, the high court deferred to the agency. This is judicial modesty.

Daniel Greenfield said “This is how we move toward a totalitarian state. Incrementally. Step by step. Regulation by regulation implemented by a collectivist bureaucracy for all the “right leftist reasons”. You can’t object. That would be bigoted. Or mean that you have “something to hide”.

That last link notes that the EEOC has released a proposed rule requiring employers to submit employee W-2 earnings and hours worked. All employers with at least 100 employees would be required to comply. The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) would jointly have access to the pay data for enforcement  purposes.  Whoa!

The Republican House voted in February “on legislation to make it more difficult for banking regulators to demand that banks shut down certain business accounts.” The legislation is designed “to target the Obama administration’s ‘Operation Choke Point’ a Justice Department effort to require businesses to stop banks from working with certain businesses. These businesses include lawful firearms dealers, payday lenders, escort services and other companies.”…”While the Justice Department cut off financial services to certain industries, it encouraged banks to provide services to others like illegal marijuana sales.”

We are all too familiar with the overreach of the EPA under administrator Gina McCarthy the agency is embarked on a grab for power. Philip Hamburger had a new book “Is Administrative Law Unlawful?” in 2014. Powerline chatted with him about the book, which they said is the most important book they had read in a long time.

I think this is perhaps what people are getting at when they are so angry with “the establishment” — that undefined bunch of “insiders.”That’s where the anger should be directed. Administrative Law is unlawful, unconstitutional and illegitimate. This is the power once claimed by English kings, and exactly what our Constitution was carefully designed to prevent.



United States Marine Corps Silent Drill Team by The Elephant's Child

Halftime of the Houston Texans and Cleveland Browns game at Reliant Stadium in Houston, TX. The Marines Corps silent drill platoon performs. I had never heard of this group before. They are impressive.



A Little Straight Talk About Where we Are by The Elephant's Child

Constitution
Here’s some straight talk about our current problems. Unfortunately, straight talk is somewhat rare, but knowledge of what is true and what is not is a good first step.

Leon Aron, resident scholar and Director of Russian Studies at AEI.

—”The clash of philosophies

From Alabama to Denmark, Nevada to the Netherlands, and from Arizona to Sweden and Germany, Hungary and Poland, voters are flocking to right/left populist, nationalist, isolationist, and nativist demagogues, parties, and movements.

The trend sweeping Europe and the United States is broader and deeper than politics. …This chasm is not merely ideological. It is ethical, linguistic — almost anthropological

Victor Davis Hanson senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.

How America Lost Its Groove

Deterrence is lost through lax foreign policy, an erosion of military readiness, and failed supreme command — often insidiously, over time, rather than dramatically, at once. The following random events over the seven years that Barack Obama has been in office have led to the idea abroad that the U.S. is no longer the world’s leader and that regional hegemonies have a golden opportunity to redraw regional maps and spheres of influence — to the disadvantage of the West — in the ten months remaining before the next president is inaugurated.

A Nation of Laws—Sort Of

Any fair reading of State Department and general federal government laws regarding the use of classified information by federal employees makes it is clear that Hillary Clinton violated the law—both by improperly setting up her own private server, and then by sending information through it that was classified. …

If she is not indicted by the Obama administration for violations of federal laws or conspiracy to obstruct justice, in the future it will be almost impossible to prosecute successfully any federal employee for violating government protocols about the handling of classified information.

Hold Colleges Accountable to the Real World

The public is steadily losing confidence in undergraduate education, given that we hear constantly about how poorly educated are today’s graduates and how few well-paying jobs await them.

The cost of college is a national scandal. Collective student-loan debt in America is about $1.2 trillion. Campus political correctness is now daily news.

How could higher education be held accountable and thereby be reformed?

These latest linguistic contortions to advance ideological agendas follow an established pattern of the Obama administration and the departments beneath it.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper described Egypt’s radical Muslim Brotherhood as “largely secular.” CIA Director John Brennan has called jihad “a legitimate tenet of Islam,” a mere effort “to purify oneself.

Bill Gertz national security columnist for The Washington Times

Cybercom sounds alarm on infrastructure attacks

The commander of the U.S. Cyber Command warned Congress this week that Russia and China now can launch crippling cyberattacks on the electric grid and other critical infrastructures. …

Most military operations involve the use of commercial infrastructure and thus their vulnerabilities to cyberattacks are a major concern.

“If you were able to take that away or materially impact the ability to manage an air traffic control system, to manage the overhead [satellite] structure and the flow of communications or data, for example, that would materially impact [the Defense Department’s] ability to execute its mission — let alone the broader economic impact for us as a nation. …



Lunch. In Photos Uploaded by the Kids Who Hate the Lunches. by The Elephant's Child

Michelle-Obama-School-Lunch-Program-Teens-Tweet-School-Lunches-620x435
I don’t know what inspired Michelle Obama to take charge of the school lunch program in America, or what her qualifications are for that position. The kids have responded by uploading pictures of the  totally disgusting food on offer in their school cafeterias with the hashtag #thanksmichelleobama. “Mystery mush” is featured frequently.  The lunches are a far cry from the lunches the Obama daughters get at tony Sidwell Friends School. Elizabeth Harrington reports in the Free Beacon:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service issued a proposed rule Monday to codify parts of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which was championed by Mrs. Obama.

The regulation would punish schools and state departments with fines for “egregious or persistent disregard” for the lunch rules that imposed sodium and calorie limits and banned white grains.

A West Virginia preschool teacher was threatened with fines for violating the rules by rewarding her students with candy for good behavior in June 2015. The teacher ultimately did not have to pay, but the school had to develop a “corrective action plan” with training on the policies.

The government now seeks to make fines enforceable by regulation. Section 303 of the law requires that the federal government “establish criteria for the imposition of fines” for all the Department of Agriculture’s child food programs.

More than 1,4 million students have left the lunch line since Mrs. Obama’s rules went into effect. There have been constant complaints of small portions and unappetizing fare. Pictures of the food have been circulating on the internet for several years, and from the pictures, I wouldn’t eat the stuff either. The standards have been blamed for cafeteria workers losing their jobs, and reportedly, some kids have resorted to creating black markets for salt to add some flavor to the food.

The government plans to fine schools that fail to comply with the rules, for egregious and persistent disregard for the lunch rules that imposed sodium and calorie limits, and banned white grains.Section 303 of the law requires that the federal government “establish criteria for the imposition of fines” for all the Department of Agriculture’s child food programs. The agency said the fines would amount to 1 percent of the total amount the school was reimbursed for lunches for the first fine. A second fine would be 5 percent of the total cost of the program and a third fine would be for 10 percent. Alabama received $210,937,195 in 2015. One percent would total $2.1 million and ten percent would be $21 million.

The rule will be open for public comment for 60 days once it is officially published in the Federal Register on Tuesday. The more public comment, the merrier. I presume you comment at the Department of Agriculture, according to the link given:

http://federalregister.gov/a/2016-06801, and on FDsys.gov

Michelle-Obama-fish

 




Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 7,511 other followers

%d bloggers like this: